Archive for August, 2006

8/28/06: Hugos there

As most of those reading this already know, my story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the Hugo for Best Short Story. I am, in brief, stunned. I really, really didn’t expect this. I literally sobbed with joy when I received the award (from Harlan Ellison, no less), I spent most of the next twenty-four hours clutching the Hugo and grinning like a maniac — I mean, even more than usually — and I’m still stopping in my tracks and going “wow” at intervals. This is a phenomenal honor and I am just plain overwhelmed.

The complete voting results and details are here. Some photos from the award ceremony can be found here.

I just got back from Los Angeles tonight, after being off-Net for the last week, and I will respond to the many congratulatory emails as soon as I get a chance. One thing that’s slowing the process down is that I have to examine all the spams with subject lines like “Congratulations!” and “You won!” to see if any of them are actually from friends of mine.

A proper con report is forthcoming, but I thought I ought to clear up a few things:

  1. Humping Harlan’s leg. As you probably already know, I am a toon. I can and will do anything as long as it’s funny. In particular, I will often put one leg behind the other person when engaged in a big fat hug. This is a joke I’ve done so often I just about can’t stop myself. Under the circumstances it seemed the thing to do. Soon it will be all over the net… but I survived the Chicken Suit Incident, and I’ll survive this. Most people seemed pleased by my enthusiasm.
  2. Breaching the sake keg. All I can say is that I did the best I could with the inadequate mallet provided, and I sure hope that failure to break the lid on the first blow isn’t a bad omen.
  3. Does winning the Hugo help your career? So far, signs are positive. I’ve already received offers for Czech and Italian rights for the winning story, been solicited to contribute to an anthology, and received at least one email with the subject line “No One I’ve Seen Naked Has Ever Gotten A Hugo Before (I Think).” Well, maybe that last one isn’t really a career thing.
  4. Getting the Hugo home. There was much discussion and debate at-con about the advisability of attempting to bring a large, heavy, and very pointy rocket-shaped object in carry-on luggage. I thought I was being practical when I decided I’d ask at the security gate if I could carry it on, and if the answer was no I’d put it in my checked luggage. But no, practicality and the TSA have nothing to do with each other. Consider this Catch-22: I couldn’t get an opinion from the TSA agent as to whether I could bring a bag on board until it had been X-rayed; I couldn’t go through the X-ray line without a boarding pass, nor could I hand my bag to the TSA agent to be X-rayed; and even if I could get a boarding pass without checking my checked bag, it would be rejected when I took it through the security line.

    The best I could hope for was an awkward and peculiar boarding process involving a minimum of two passes through the very slow security line, whether or not the Hugo passed X-ray muster. So to save time I just packed it in the middle of my checked bag. Which arrived on time and in good shape. The trophy’s on the Radiola in the dining room right now.

Tired now. More later.

See also Kate’s perspective.

8/19/06: Another one in the mail

Up until a few days ago I considered the F&SF Slush Bomb of women writers proposed by Charlie Finlay for 8/18 (see here) to be of only academic interest to me. But late Wednesday I realized that the New Orleans story, which I was planning to revise and submit to F&SF as soon as I was done with the revisions on the novella, had a female co-author. Duh! So I took the train to work on Thursday, laptop in hand, and tackled the revisions during my commute.

I finished the revisions on Thursday night, then we joined my co-author Andrine de la Rocha and her housemates at their home on Friday for a previously-planned get-together. After a truly wonderful dinner, we looked at Andrine’s photos from her trip to New Orleans (it was weird to see actual photographs of scenes that until now I’d only visualized from Andrine’s diary — many of which made it into the story), after which I gave a reading of the story. I put it into an envelope that night, though it wasn’t picked up by my mail carrier until today.

I don’t know if this really counts as part of the Slush Bomb, both because I’m not of the designated gender and because it lacks the 8/18 postmark. But it is done and in the mail.

I feel pretty good about this one. I’ve never written anything so explicitly based on real people and incidents, and it makes me a little nervous, but since I have everyone’s permission I’m sure it’s okay.

Today we attended a delightful backyard party where various fans and geeks, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years, feasted on fresh roasted corn and burgers. In the evening we watched the intriguing and puzzling film Primer (I enjoyed it, which is not to say I understood it completely) and I added nearly a hundred words to the novella. And now to bed — tomorrow is my last day before the Worldcon with any free time and I have a lot to get done.

Oh, and Bento is back from the printer and looks fabulous. We’ll be handing out copies at the Worldcon, and mailing them shortly thereafter to people who aren’t there.

8/16/06: Where does the time go when it’s not around here?

Spent most of the time since my last post producing another issue of Bento. Yes, each issue of our nearly-Hugo-nominated zine takes about one week to write, edit, lay out, and paste up. It’s at the printer now and we should have copies at the Worldcon.

No writing during that time, but I did get back into it after taking the zine to the printer on Monday. I’m grinding slowly through the edits on the novella… slowly because it’s hard to make the changes I’m trying to make, and because I don’t have a lot of time for it. Some days the word count goes up, some days it goes down, rarely more than 50 words plus or minus. One day I worked for forty-five minutes and achieved a net wordcount change of one word.

I did get a couple small bits of writing egoboo: a college professor asked permission to use my story “The Last McDougals” in a freshman seminar on science fiction (along with a lot of other stories by better-known writers) and someone on LiveJournal whom I don’t know recommended two of my stories (available online) as reading for English-as-a-second-language learners. Also, an excerpt from “Primates” has been posted at the Asimov’s website.

We leave for Anaheim in six days. I have tons of stuff that needs to be done before then. We’re waffling over whether or not to go to Disneyland again. And a voice in my head is trying to tell me that I might win the Hugo after all. I’m trying to slap it down. Not going to win no way nohow. I’d rather get myself in a frame of mind where a loss is expected and a win would be a pleasant surprise, rather than one where a win is expected and a loss would be a disappointment. But I don’t think it’s working.

My final Worldcon schedule:

  • What I Do When I Should be Writing: Wednesday 2:30-4:00pm
  • Mix & Match Writing Challenge: Wednesday 4:00-5:30pm
  • Writers Workshop (closed session): Thursday 1:00-4:00pm
  • Autographs at the Asimov’s table in the dealers’ room: Thursday 4:00-5:00pm
  • Physics of Superheroes: Friday 11:30am-1:00pm
  • Zen Scavenger Hunt: Friday 4:00-5:30pm
  • Intermediate Writing: Friday 5:30-7:00pm
  • Is SF Like a Shark?: Saturday 2:30-4:00pm
  • Hugo Ceremony: Saturday 8:00-10:00pm
  • Reading: Sunday 11:00am-12:00pm

(Not gonna win. No way nohow. Never gonna happen. Nuh uh.)

8/2/06: Ups and downs

Since my last post the editing has been moving forward slowly. Most days I only add or subtract a few dozen words. I’ve been waffling over how much planetology is really needed to set up the ending, and trying to find a way to cram in an explanation of some backstory that most of my critiquers didn’t pick up on. The problem I have is that, the way I write, by the time a story is ready for critique it’s pretty much a hermetic whole. I find that there just isn’t any place to put in even a single extra sentence without breaking the rhythm of the scene, and taking information out generally leaves something hanging someplace else. So making even minor changes involves fairly severe restructuring. Which means a lot more thinking than typing, and quite often finds me putting it back the way it was in the first place. I just love my own deathless prose too much.

Also since my last post, I’ve gotten another rejection (that story, at least, is already back in the mail), and the August Locus, containing reviews of the September Asimov’s. Alas, Nick Gevers found my story “unconvincing” and Rich Horton didn’t see fit to mention it at all (though he did say he’d been unimpressed with the issue as a whole). Le sigh.

I also got my preliminary Worldcon schedule, and I’m mighty happy with it. I got two readings, and I’m on panels with some very keen people. But I’m going to be a very busy boy:

  • Wed 2:30pm: What I Do When I Should Be Writing with Fiona Avery, Phyllis Eisenstein, and Sarah Monette.
  • Wed 4:00pm: Mix & Match Writing Challenge with John Barnes, Peter S. Beagle, K. A. Bedford, and Valerie Estelle Frankel. “Authors are presented with a character description for a well-known character, the setting of a (different) famous work, and a brief plot description of still another work. Without knowing their sources, they create and tell a story on the fly.” I’m moderator for this one, so I might be handing out the assignments rather than playing.
  • Thu 5:30pm: Themed Reading: Weird Sex with Cecilia Tan and Sean Williams. Shall I read the ovipositor sex scene from Remembrance Day or the all-dialogue biotech sex toy implant short-short?
  • Fri 4:00pm: Zen Scavenger Hunt with Pat Cadigan, John Pomeranz, Geri Sullivan, and Mary A. Turzillo. “Panelists each bring ten items. Audience members ask for a type of item, a la a standard scavenger hunt. The panelists will then have to show one of the items they’ve brought and try to convince the audience that their item is the best match for what was requested.” Should be fun.
  • Fri 5:30pm: Intermediate Writing with Jay Lake, Mike Shepherd Moscoe, and Deborah J Ross.
  • Sat 10:00am, Jay Lake Roast with Christopher J. Garcia, Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen, and (duh) Jay Lake. I’m moderator of this one, God help me. If anyone reading this has any Jay Lake anecdotes or wants to participate in the roast, drop me an email.
  • Sat 2:30pm, Is SF Like a Shark? with Charles N. Brown, John-Henri Holmberg, Don Sakers, and Vernor Vinge.
  • Sun 11:00am, Reading. Please do come. I’m told my readings are quite entertaining.

I will also have an autograph session at the Asimov’s table in the dealer’s room, not that I expect anyone to want my scrawl; I have a writers’ workshop section; and of course I will be at the Hugos. See (many of) you there!