Archive for October, 2011


Oh, this is so cool…

Found out yesterday that I’m on a panel at World Fantasy called “But I’m The Hero!”:
The Justifications for Villainy
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This in itself would be cool enough–I love discussing characters and characterization. I firmly believe that “villains” (i.e. antagonists) should be well-rounded, three-dimensional beings with rational motivations for their evil actions. (Even if their rationale is nothing more than psychotic self-delusion.) It’s been said that a story is only as good as its villain…and a “cardboard” antagonist can really ruin an otherwise great tale. I’m more interested in the villain’s point-of-view than the details of his evil acts, and those villains readers see as realistically “human” are the most frightening of all. So this panel will be a great chance to talk about what makes an effective villain, and the many ways writers present their “bad guys” in the context of their stories.

But it gets better…

I don’t know how I won the Lucky Guy Lottery, but I find myself scheduled on this panel with the great Len Wein. Len is a comics legend best known for creating DC Comics’ SWAMP THING back in the early 70s (along with artist extraordinaire Bernie Wrightson). Len was a huge part of The Bronze Age–my favorite era of classic comics (i.e. the 1970s). Since those halcyon days Len has remained a giant of the comics industry, writing and editing for Marvel and DC, as well as writing for television. Yet he always came back to comics, the medium that remains my first love. (I literally learned to read by staring at comics when I was  preschooler.)  I met Len once at the San Diego Comicon a few years ago, but I doubt he remembers me–it was one of those quick conversations you have in the middle of a massive, overcrowded convention room. I’m awed to be sharing a panel with this guy, literally one of my heroes.

But wait, there’s more…

Also on that SAME panel is celebrated horror and sci-fi author F. Paul Wilson. I remember reading his classic horror novel THE KEEP back in 11th grade (circa 1985-86) and loving it so much that I did a presentation about it for my English class. It was unlike anything I had ever read, and I never forgot it.  F. Paul is a legitimate horror legend, and I’ll be talking bad guys with him and Swamp Thing’s daddy.

I just might end up doing a Wayne-and-Garth style “We’re not worthy!” when sitting on the same stage as these two guys. This is gonna be fun. But of course, WFC is always a bag-and-a-half of fun.

Also on the panel will be the esteemed Russell Blackford (The New John Connor Chronicles) and the splendid Kay Kenyon (The Entire and the Rose). I wonder if they’ll be as geeked out as me? Probably not.

The best thing about WFC? Four days in a row of writers talking about writing, storytellers talking about the craft of storytelling, and creators talking about the joys of creativity. And books…tons of books.

When you get right down to it, it’s all about STORIES. And we all know that stories make the world go ’round.

Oh, how it will spin…

Peace!
John

LIGHTSPEED: Year One

The first annual LIGHTSPEED anthology is coming out next month (November 23) from Prime Books.

It collects all the stories that ran in the acclaimed online magazine during its first year into one gorgeous paperback entitled LIGHTSPEED: YEAR ONE.

My own gut-wrenching, stomach-churning sci-fi/horror tale “The Taste of Starlight” is included. It’s an honor to be among the great writers and fantastic stories in this collection.

Half the stories were written new for LIGHTSPEED, and the other half are classic tales chosen for reprinting by Editor Extraordinaire John Joseph Adams.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents:

I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno – Vylar Kaftan
The Cassandra Project – Jack McDevitt
Cats in Victory – David Barr Kirtley
Amaryllis – Carrie Vaughn
No Time Like the Present – Carol Emshwiller
Manumission – Tobias S. Buckell
The Zeppelin Conductors' Society Annual Gentlemen's Ball – Genevieve Valentine
...For a Single Yesterday – George R. R. Martin
How to Become a Mars Overlord – Catherynne M. Valente
Patient Zero – Tananarive Due
Arvies – Adam-Troy Castro
More Than the Sum of His Parts – Joe Haldeman
Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain – Yoon Ha Lee
The Long Chase – Geoffrey A. Landis
Amid the Words of War – Cat Rambo
Travelers – Robert Silverberg
Hindsight – Sarah Langan
Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back – Joe R. Lansdale
The Taste of Starlight – John R. Fultz
Beachworld – Stephen King
Standard Loneliness Package – Charles Yu
Faces in Revolving Souls – Caitlin R. Kiernan
Hwang's Billion Brilliant Daughters – Alice Sola Kim
Ej-Es – Nancy Kress
In-Fall – Ted Kosmatka
The Observer – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Jenny's Sick – David Tallerman
The Silence of the Asonu – Ursula K. Le Guin
Postings from an Amorous Tomorrow – Corey Mariani
Cucumber Gravy – Susan Palwick
Black Fire – Tanith Lee
The Elephants of Poznan – Orson Scott Card
Long Enough And Just So Long – Cat Rambo
The Passenger – Julie E. Czerneda
Simulacrum – Ken Liu
Breakaway, Backdown – James Patrick Kelly
Saying the Names – Maggie Clark
Gossamer – Stephen Baxter
Spider the Artist – Nnedi Okorafor
Woman Leaves Room – Robert Reed
All That Touches the Air – An Owomoyela
Maneki Neko – Bruce Sterling
Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son – Tom Crosshill
Velvet Fields – Anne McCaffrey
The Harrowers – Eric Gregory
Bibi From Jupiter – Tessa Mellas
Eliot Wrote – Nancy Kress
Scales – Alastair Reynolds

For more information: http://www.prime-books.com/shop/trade-paperbacks/lightspeed-year-one-edited-by-john-joseph-adams/

Peace!
John

The new LOVECRAFT eZine (#7) just went up today. Just in time for Halloween!

The issue features my story “The Lord of Endings.”  The story is my take on two well-known Lovecraft concepts: Nyarlathotep the Crawling Chaos  and The Dreamlands.

You don’t have to know anything about either of these ideas to enjoy the story. It has fantasy elements, but it’s definitely a HORROR tale.

Also in this issue are great tales from Corinna Sara Bechko, Aaron Polson, Jenne Kaivo, and John Prescott, plus lots of incredible artwork (as usual).

Did I mention the zine is totally free? Check it out, horror fans and Lovecraft lovers: http://lovecraftzine.com/issues/issue-7-october-2011/

Peace & Goblins,
John

October rolls in like a cool autumn breeze, and the World Fantasy Convention is bound to be the highlight. I’ll be attending all four days, and what a great excuse to spend some time in sunny San Diego.

A nautical theme this year is sure to provide many a discussion about pirates, golden galleons, and the immortal mysteries of the sea. But the big attraction this year is the presence of the great Neil Gaiman. He’s probably the biggest reason why the convention memberships sold out early this year. This will be my third year attending WFC, and I’m looking forward to it even more than my favorite holiday, All Hallow’s Eve. Friends, colleagues, mentors, and idols…all will gather to discuss and celebrate our common love of fantasy literature. There’s really no other con like this one. For writers, who work a majority of the time in isolation, it’s a great yearly sharing of philosophies, concerns, appreciations, and inspirations. I always leave feeling fired up for my next project.

Just for the record: My favorite nautical-themed fantasy? Michael Moorcock’s SAILOR ON THE SEAS OF FATE, of course. Love me some Elric of Melnibone….especially the version with the exquisite Michael Whelan cover (see below).

Spiritual Principle #1:
There is an unseen reality that is the source of all visible things.

Spiritual Principle #2: 
The unseen reality, the source, is knowable through our own awareness.