Brotherton’s SF By Scientists Anthology

sf-by-sci

By Carl Slaughter:

SCIENCE FICTION BY SCIENTISTS: ANTHOLOGY OF SHORT STORIES
Editor: Michael Brotherton
Release Date: December 26, 2016

This anthology contains fourteen intriguing stories by active research scientists and other writers trained in science.

Science is at the heart of real science fiction, which is more than just westerns with ray guns or fantasy with spaceships. The people who do science and love science best are scientists. Scientists like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Fred Hoyle wrote some of the legendary tales of golden age science fiction.  Today there is a new generation of scientists writing science fiction informed with the expertise of their fields, from astrophysics to computer science, biochemistry to rocket science, quantum physics to genetics, speculating about what is possible in our universe. Here lies the sense of wonder only science can deliver. All the stories in this volume are supplemented by afterwords commenting on the science underlying each story.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction by Mike Brotherton

  • “Down and Out” by Ken Wharton
  • “Tree of Life” by Jennifer Rohn
  • “Supernova Rhythm” by Andrew Fraknoi
  • “Turing de Force” by Edward M. Lerner
  • “Neural Alchemist” by Tedd Roberts
  • “The Schrödinger Brat Paradox” by Carl Frederick
  • “Upside the Head” by Marissa Lingen
  • “Betelgeuse” by J. Craig Wheeler
  • “Sticks and Stones” by Stephanie Osborn
  • “One for the Conspiracy Theorists” by Jon Richards
  • “Hidden Variables” by Jed Brody
  • “Spreading the Seed” by Les Johnson
  • “Fixer Upper” by Eric Choi
  • “The Gatherer of Sorrows” by J. M. Sidorova
Mike Brotherton

Mike Brotherton

EDITOR’S COMMENTS

When I originally got involved with Springer’s exciting and innovative “Science and Fiction” line, I expected to see some books featuring scientists writing science fiction, and there have been a number of novels and story collections produced.  What I didn’t see was a broad spectrum showcasing science fiction short stories by working scientists and writers significantly trained in, or retired from, science.  I decided to take on that project myself in an effort to highlight the current generation of scientist science fiction writers.  Many astronomers, physicists, and biologists answered the call.  I also wanted to include people in fields like computer science and “rocket science,” as well as SETI, and successfully acquired a number of intriguing stories.  I was less successful with some fields, like geology and chemistry, but perhaps for a future volume.

We also decided to do something a little different for this anthology, and include essays by each contributor discussing the science of the story.  I found that these often enhanced the stories, deepening my appreciation, and believe they will make them more accessible to those for whom the parent discipline is less familiar.

The stories cover quantum physics, cutting-edge biology, extreme astrophysics, artificial intelligence, astronautics and the International Space Station, alien environments, and even a scientific take on zombies.  We also have a story about detecting an alien signal with SETI by the engineer running the Allen Telescope Array who would be the one to actually do it in real life, which was totally fascinating.

I hope you will enjoy our efforts.

Brenda Cooper’s Spear of Light

Brenda Cooper

Brenda Cooper

By Carl Slaughter: With Spear of Light, Brenda Cooper continues stories in same universe as Creative Fire, Diamond Deep, and Edge of DarkCreative Fire and Diamond Deep are the Ruby’s Song duology, Edge of Dark and Spear of Light are the Glittering Edge duology, all from Pyr.

spear-of-light-cover

When the post-human Next suddenly re-appear in a solar system that banished them, humans are threatened. Their reactions vary from disgust and anger to yearning to live forever like the powerful Next, who are casually building a new city out of starships in the heart of the re-wilded planet Lym. The first families of Lym must deal with being invaded while they grapple with their own inner fears.

Ranger Charlie Windar is desperate to save his beloved planet. The Next are building strange cities he never imagined, and other humans who want to destroy the Next are his worst enemies.

Ambassador Nona Hall strives to forge links between the powerful station she’s from, The Diamond Deep, and the people of Lym. The formidable merchant Gunnar Ellensson appears to be up to no good, and as usual his motivations are suspect. Why is he sending ships to Lym, and what does he intend to do with them when he arrives?

The Shining Revolution threatens to undo everything by attacking the Next on Lym, and their desire to eradicate the post-humans is greater than their desire to save humanity’s home. It is entirely possible that they will draw the wrath of the Next onto all of humanity.

In the meantime, the Next’s motives remain inscrutable. Why are they here at all? What do they want? Why are they interested in the ancient past of a planet that has been ravaged and rebuilt at least once?

Season of the Witch at NYRSF Readings, Featuring N.K. Jemisin and Kai Ashante Wilson

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, September 27 at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series skirted the haunting season of Hallowe’en, presenting fantasy writers N.K. Jemisin and Kai Ashante Wilson.

The event opened as usual with a welcome from producer/executive curator Jim Freund, longtime host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (the show broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1:30-3:00 am and worldwide at wbai.org, and for a time afterwards may be heard on-demand as well as an RSS feed for podcasts), and a tongue-in-cheek caution that we were on Livestream (video and audio).  Admission to the readings are always free, but, to fund the Series (which pays to rent its current space), the suggested donation (currently $7) may be raised; crowdfunding plans are in the thinking stage.

He then announced upcoming readings:  November 1st (All Saints’ Day – not All Souls’ Day) will be the inaugural Margot Adler Memorial Reading; on November 15th, readers will be Kij Johnson and Sonya Taaffe; and Monday, December 12th, will be the traditional Family Night with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.  Looking ahead to 2017, take note that April 1st will be Samuel R. Delany’s 75th birthday.

The first reader, Kai Ashante Wilson, is a rising star of fantastic fiction, the author of the stories “Super Bass” (pronounced like the musical instrument, not the fish), “The Devil in America” (nominated for both the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards) and “Kaiju maximus®,” the novellas The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey.  His offering was a selection from his novelette, “Légendaire,” which appeared in the anthology, Stories for Chip (which celebrates the legacy of the aforementioned science fiction grandmaster Samuel R. Delany). Kai Ashante Wilson lives in New York City.  Dedicated to Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, and subsequently Prince, the fable, set in a sort of fantasy New Orleans, concerns a small boy whose prodigious dancing has attracted the attention of the local witches, or racosi (spelling uncertain).  One counsels him to “get in some trouble” because the best dancers all have broken hearts.  The imagery was beautiful.

Kai Ashanti Wilson performing for New York Review of Science Fiction Readings.

A photo posted by Jim Freund (@jimfreund) on

During the break, a raffle was held, the prizes a copy of “The Devil in America” and what Freund described as the Kai Ashante Wilson Chapstick, and access at the $50 level to N.K. Jemisin’s Pantheon blog, Epiphany 2.0, along with a print out of part of her blog.

The evening’s second reader, N.K. (the “N” stands for Nora)  Jemisin, has been nominated multiple times for the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Awards; shortlisted for the Crawford, the Gemmell Morningstar and the Tiptree Awards.  In addition, she has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel as well as the Romantic Times’ Reviewer’s Choice Award, and, last month, won the Best Novel Hugo for The Fifth Season.  (She is, noted Freund, the first black writer to win the Hugo Award in that category, Delany and Octavia Butler having received it in other categories.)  Seven of her novels, a novella and a short story collection are out now from Orbit Books (the most recent is The Obelisk Gate, a follow-up to The Fifth Season and the second book in the Broken Earth Trilogy).  Besides all that, she is the New York Times’ science fiction reviewer.

She shared “Red Dirt Witch,” a story that is not finished (this was its second draft), though it has already been sold, and that she is “not entirely happy with.”  In Deep South Alabama in the still-segregated early ’60s, a poverty-stricken black herbalist is confronted both in this world and in dreams by a White Lady (the capitals soon became clear), a Celtic fae who steals (and taps) children of Power, and wants her newly adolescent daughter.  In return, she offers an unsavory deal, that one life for the family’s prosperity and safety.  (The Civil Rights movement would involve great struggle and lead to triumphant progress.)  By audience demand, Jemisin read to the story’s (as it stood) conclusion.

In a Q&A, a woman asked “How are you not happy with that?”  Another even said that she cried.  Jemisin was “not sure” about why, and what was off.  (The first draft was longer.)  In response to another question, Jemisin revealed that it was based in part on her father’s side of the family; he was from the named town outside Birmingham, that her great-grandmother made a living healing and working magic for people, and that her grandmother was named Pauline, like the daughter in the story.  (Perhaps the deeply personal connection to the story is why she was dissatisfied?)  Wilson reported that he has other stories in that universe, and was urged to write a full novel.  A photo session followed.

N. K. Jemisin reads for NYRSF Readings.

A photo posted by Jim Freund (@jimfreund) on

As customary at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, and, for food and beverages, the Café was a few steps away.

The capacity crowd of about at least 70 included Melissa C. Beckman, Richard Bowes, Catelynn Cunningham, Lynn Cohen Koehler, Barbara Krasnoff, Matt Kressel, John Kwok, Mark Richards and Terence Taylor, the Series’ Technical Director, plus a cheering section of members of the Altered Fluid writing group and a brief walk-in from WBAI’s Max Schmid.  Schmoozing and more partaking of the Café’s wares ensued.

Chuck Wendig’s Invasive

By Carl Slaughter:

INVASIVE
by Chuck Wendig
sequel to Zeroes

Hannah Stander is a consultant for the FBI—a futurist who helps the Agency with cases that feature demonstrations of bleeding-edge technology. It’s her job to help them identify unforeseen threats: hackers, AIs, genetic modification, anything that in the wrong hands could harm the homeland.

Hannah is in an airport, waiting to board a flight home to see her family, when she receives a call from Agent Hollis Copper. “I’ve got a cabin full of over a thousand dead bodies,” he tells her. Whether those bodies are all human, he doesn’t say.

What Hannah finds is a horrifying murder that points to the impossible—someone weaponizing the natural world in a most unnatural way. Discovering who—and why—will take her on a terrifying chase from the Arizona deserts to the secret island laboratory of a billionaire inventor/philanthropist.

Hannah knows there are a million ways the world can end, but she just might be facing one she could never have predicted—a new threat both ancient and cutting-edge that could wipe humanity off the earth.

PRAISE FOR INVASIVE

  • “Enthralling…Wendig does an impeccable job blending fact and fiction as he describes invasive species and insects being used as biological weapons. This is a propulsive tale that also examines our interaction with — and ma­nipu­la­tion of — the natural world.” (Washington Post)
  • “Wendig crosses, blurs, and smashes genre boundaries more often – and more skillfully – than any author working today…INVASIVE is one part locked room mystery, one part 1950’s monster movie, and one part cutting-edge scientific thriller.” (Crimespree Magazine)
  • “Excellent…Follows the path set forth by Michael Crichton (a la Congo or Jurassic Park) in which Wendig’s exhaustive research brings a convincing story of humanity tinkering with nature — only to have it backfire…Expect to see it on the big screen.” (Men’s Journal)
  • “This roller-coaster survival tale with copious amounts of creepy insects will appeal to fans of Michael Crichton.” (Booklist)
  • “Fans of Michael Crichton will feel right at home.” (Publishers Weekly)
  • “Chuck Wendig can congratulate himself on a stunning new achievement: becoming the architect of all of my future nightmares…INVASIVE is a terrifying and tightly written thriller.” (RT Book Reviews)
  • “Think Thomas Harris’ Will Graham and Clarice Starling rolled into one and pitched on the knife’s edge of a scenario that makes Jurassic Park look like a carnival ride. Another rip-roaring, deeply paranoid thriller about the reasons to fear the future.” (Kirkus Reviews )

Collected Classic SF By Women

women-of-futures-past

By Carl Slaughter:

WOMEN OF FUTURE PAST
Editor: Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Released: September 6
Baen

Meet the Women of Futures Past: from Grand Master Andre Norton and the beloved Anne McCaffrey to some of the most popular SF writers today, such as Lois McMaster Bujold and CJ Cherryh. The most influential writers of multiple generations are found in these pages, delivering lost classics and foundational touchstones that shaped the field.

You’ll find Northwest Smith, C.L. Moore’s famous smuggler who predates (and maybe inspired) Han Solo by four decades. Read Leigh Brackett’s fiction and see why George Lucas chose her to write The Empire Strikes Back. Adventure tales, post-apocalyptic visions, space opera, aliens-among-us, time travel—these women have delivered all this and more, some of the best science fiction ever written!

Includes stories by Leigh Brackett, Lois McMaster Bujold, Pat Cadigan, CJ Cherryh, Zenna Henderson, Nancy Kress, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, C.L. Moore, Andre Norton, James Tiptree, Jr., and Connie Willis.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Invisible Women by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The Indelible Kind by Zenna Henderson
  • The Smallest Dragonboy by Anne McCaffrey
  • Out of All Them Bright Stars by Nancy Kress
  • Angel by Pat Cadigan
  • Cassandra by C.J. Cherryh
  • Shambleau by C.L. Moore
  • The Last Days of Shandakor by Leigh Brackett
  • All Cats Are Gray by Andre Norton
  • Aftermaths by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • The Last Flight of Doctor Ain by James Tiptree, Jr.
  • Sur by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Fire Watch by Connie Willis

 

Bishop O’Connell’s American Faerie Tales

Bishop O'Connell

Bishop O’Connell

By Carl Slaughter: As a critiquer for the Critters Workshop and an interviewer/feature writer for Diabolical Plots, SF Signal, and File 770, I’ve read an awful lot of sample chapters. Very few compelled me to read the remainder of the book. One of the few exceptions is The Forgotten, by Bishop O’Connell.

The Stolen is the first in the An American Faerie Tale series. The Forgotten is the second. The third, The Returned, came out in August from Harper Voyager Impulse. Also, don’t miss Three Promises, a collection of stories set between The Stolen and The Returned.

O’Connell plans for the series to continue. “The Returned is the end of my current contract with Harper, but I’ve got the first three chapters of the next book just about ready to send in with a proposal. I have a rough idea of what I want to do with the next five or six books.”

(Note: The Returned is unrelated to the French movie and the Australian TV series of the same name or the America TV series with the same plot.)

THE STOLEN

the-stolen_smallTonight, for the first time in over a century, a mortal child will be kidnapped by faeries.

When her daughter Fiona is snatched from her bed, Caitlin’s entire world crumbles. Certain that faeries were only a fantasy, Caitlin must now accept that these supernatural creatures do exist—and that they have traded in their ancient swords and horses for modern guns and sports cars. Hopelessly outmatched, she accepts help from a trio of unlikely heroes: Eddy, a psychiatrist and novice wizard, Brendan, an outcast Fian warrior, and Dante, a Magister of the fae’s Rogue Court. Moving from the busy streets of Boston’s suburbs to the shadowy land of Tír na nÓg, Caitlin and her allies will risk everything to save Fiona. But can this disparate quartet conquer their own inner demons and outwit the dark faeries before it’s too late?

THE FORGOTTEN

the-forgotten-extrasmallAcross the United States, children are vanishing. Only this time, faeries may not be to blame…

Dante, Regent of the fae’s Rogue Court, has been receiving disturbing reports. Human children are manifesting magical powers in record numbers. Shunned and forgotten, they live on the streets in rag tag groups with the already booming population of homeless changelings. But the streets aren’t a haven; someone, or something, is hunting these children down.

Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, has no home, no family, and no real memories of her past.  She and her friends SK, Fritz, and Shadow are constantly on the run, fleeing from a dark and unknown enemy. But when her friends are taken by the snatchers, Wraith is their only hope. Her journey to find her friends will test the limits of her magic, and her trust. A dark force is on the rise, and it could spell the end of our world as we know it.

THE RETURNED

the-returnedAlmost a year after their wedding, and two since their daughter Fiona was rescued from a kidnapping by dark faeries, life has finally settled down for Caitlin and Edward. They maintain a facade of normalcy, but a family being watched over by the fae’s Rogue Court is far from ordinary. Still, it seems the perfect time to go on their long-awaited honeymoon, so they head to New Orleans.

Little do they know, New Orleans is at the center of a territory their Rogue Court guardians hold no sway in, so the Court sends in Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, to watch over them. It’s not long before they discover an otherworldly force is overtaking the city, raising the dead, and they’re drawn into a web of dark magic. At the same time, a secret government agency tasked with protecting the mortal world against the supernatural begins their own investigation of the case. But the culprit may not be the villain everyone expects.

Can Wraith, Caitlin, and Edward stop whoever is bringing the vengeful dead back to life before another massacre, and before an innocent is punished for crimes beyond her control?

THREE PROMISES

three-promisesPromises bind, but some promises break…

From the author of The Stolen and The Forgotten comes a collection of stories between the stories, a glimpse of the American Faerie Tale series characters in a whole new light.

For more than fifty years, Elaine has lived the life of an outcast elf, stripped of her rank and title in the fae court. Surrounded by her beloved collection of stolen artwork, we may just learn the secret behind her exile, and the one promise too important to break…

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for – Caitlin and Edward are getting married! But few weddings ever go without a hitch. Old promises were broken, and new vows will be made…

In The Stolen, Brendan vowed to help Caitlin rescue her young daughter from the Dusk Court, even if it meant sacrificing himself. Alone and in torment, he has come to accept his fate.  Until an unexpected visitor finds her way into his life…

Plus, an exclusive bonus story about the mysterious Legion of Solomon.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Bishop O’Connell Website — https://aquietpint.com/

Chuck Wendig’s Zeroes

By Carl Slaughter: Chuck Wendig’s Zeroes came out in May in paperback.

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll are each offered a choice: go to prison or help protect the United States, putting their brains and skills to work for the government for one year.

But being a white-hat doesn’t always mean you work for the good guys. The would-be cyberspies discover that behind the scenes lurks a sinister NSA program, an artificial intelligence code-named Typhon, that has origins and an evolution both dangerous and disturbing. And if it’s not brought down, will soon be uncontrollable.

Can the hackers escape their federal watchers and confront Typhon and its mysterious creator? And what does the government really want them to do? If they decide to turn the tables, will their own secrets be exposed—and their lives erased like lines of bad code?

Combining the scientific-based, propulsive narrative style of Michael Crichton with the eerie atmosphere and conspiracy themes of The X-Files and the imaginative, speculative edge of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, Zer0es explores our deep-seated fears about government surveillance and hacking in an inventive fast-paced novel sure to earn Chuck Wendig the widespread acclaim he deserves.

PRAISE FOR ZEROES

“Zeroes has the punchiest chapter sequence I’ve read in a long time. It moves. Each chapter is pertinent. Things happen without a lot of extraneous goop. All characters are somewhat overdrawn to suit their personas and skills. Many of the pivotal characters are in the immediate game for varying reasons, then they are in the overall game for varying reasons, creating tension. There is a credible amount of core-knowledge supporting both events and character tactics. Brevity and snapshot scene creation. Underlying malice keeps me on my toes. Conflicting goals and objectives within characters create a swirl of obfuscation. From the first word the book is snarky on so many levels. A wee bit of gratuitous violence is good.”  –  Larry Strattner, Amazon

“This taut thriller will reinforce your paranoia about big government, big data, and that big, nerdy barista who just seems to know too much.” — Wall Street Journal

“A high-octane blend of nervy characters, dark humor and bristling dialogue… smart, timely, electrifying.” — NPR

“Highly cinematic.” — Library Journal

“With complex characters and feverishly paced action, ZEROES is a sci-fi thriller that won’t stop blowing your mind until the last page. … It left me rooting for the hackers!” — Daniel H. Wilson, bestselling author of Robopocalypse

“ZERØES turns ones and zeroes into pure gold – Wendig hacks the action thriller.” — Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author

“A sci-fi surveillance thriller with a twisted heart of creepy horror. It grabs you by the throat on page one, and never lets go.” — Ramez Naam, author of The Nexus Trilogy

“A Matrix-y bit of old-school cyberpunk updated to meet the frightening technology of the modern age…An ambitious, bleeding-edge piece of speculative fiction that combines hacker lore, wet-wired horror, and contemporary paranoia in a propulsive adventure that’s bound to keep readers on their toes.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Wendig wields the tools of suspense and tension with skill. His large cast of characters is entertaining, the moments of horror are sharp and chilling, and the story races to a breathless conclusion.” — Publishers Weekly

“Wendig’s second novel is a splendidly profane slice of urban fantasy–hard, dark and fast. Slick one-liners and laugh-out-loud descriptions pepper the prose, macking Blackbirds a black comedy that even the Grim Reaper could smile at.” — Financial Times

“Wendig writes hard and fast and this is a slick noirish thriller.” — The Independent, on Blackbirds

“A gleefully dark, twisted road trip for everyone who thought Fight Club was too warm and fuzzy. I loved it, and will be seeking professional help as soon as Chuck lets me out of his basement.” — James Moran, Dr. Who writer, on Blackbirds

“ZEROES is a very powerful development of the idea of science as magic, with a cast of unwitting sorcerors’ apprentices. It asks a lot of real-world questions, both moral and practical…. It might make you nostalgic for Mr. Gibson’s “Neuromancer”: Life was so much simpler back in the ‘80s.” — Wall Street Journal

Joshua Palmatier’s Alien Artifacts Anthology

alien-artifacts-cover

By Carl Slaughter. Alien Artifacts. Published September 13, by Zombies Need Brains, a new small press specializing in Kickstarter-funded, themed anthologies. ZNB was founded by Compton Crook finalist and DAW trilogist Joshua Palmatier.

What might we run into as we expand beyond Earth and into the stars? As we explore our own solar system and beyond, it seems inevitable that we’ll run into aliens … and what they’ve left behind. Alien artifacts: what might they reveal about us as we try to unlock their secrets? What might they reveal about the universe? In this anthology, nineteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors explore how discovering long lost relics of alien civilizations might change humanity.

Jin Walter H. Hunt, Julie Novakova, David Farland, Angela Penrose, S.C. Butler, Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin, Juliet E. McKenna, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Andrija Popovic, Jacey Bedford, Sofie Bird, James Van Pelt, Gini Koch, Anthony Lowe, Jennifer Dunne, Coral Moore, Daniel J. Davis, C.S. Friedman, and Seanan McGuire as they discover the stars and the secrets they may hold—both dark and deadly and awe-inspiring.

Available on Amazon.

Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier

SOCIAL MEDIA

Zombies Need Brains Website — http://www.zombiesneedbrains.com/

Joshua Palmatier Website — www.sff.net/people/jpalmatier

Joshua Palmatier Amazon Page — https://www.amazon.com/Joshua-Palmatier/e/B001KHI94Q

Fantastic Fiction at KGB Reading Series Presents Barron and Wong

Alyssa Wong and Laird Barron.

Alyssa Wong and Laird Barron.

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Wednesday, September 21 – the last day of summer – the monthly Fantastic Fiction Readings Series hosted readings by authors Laird Barron and Alyssa Wong at its venue, the Red Room at the KGB Bar in Manhattan’s East Village. Up a steep flight of stairs to the 2nd-floor, the Bar is made further distinctive by its red walls and Soviet era-themed décor. “It’s one of the truly great venues to read at,” said Barron. The Series, running since the late ’90s, reliably offers stellar lineups, often pairing established authors and up-and-coming newcomers, and readings are always free. (The Bar is a cordial and hospitable host, and the Series’ presenters duly exhort the audience to express gratitude by buying something to drink.)

As traditional, as the room filled, co-host Ellen Datlow swirled through the crowd, taking photos.  (They may be seen on the Series website, http://www.kgbfantasticfiction.org/.)

Series co-host Matthew Kressel welcomed the capacity crowd, and reported on upcoming events in the Series.  Next month’s readers, on October 19th, are Jack Ketchum and Caitlìn R. Kiernan.  Reading on November 16th will be John Langan (who was in attendance) and Kressel himself; on December 21st, Livia Llewellyn and Sarah Pinsker; and on January 18, 2017, Holly Black and Fran Wilde. Concluding, he introduced the evening’s first reader.

fist-of-permutatons-alyssa-wongAlyssa Wong’s story, “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” won the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Short Story, and her work has been shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize, the Bram Stoker Award, the Locus Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award.  The story that she read, “The Clamor of Bones,” was set in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  A “dead-talker,” tasked by the underworld to look for a missing 9-year-old girl, consults the finger bone of a corrupt detective whom she had killed, chopped up and dumped into the Bay.  It seems that he had been retrieved and magically reanimated (though missing bits, rotting and tending to ruin carpets), and been the last one seen with the girl.  Oddly, he seems reluctant to cooperate with his murderer.  Despite its essential ickiness, the story’s macabre humor had the audience laughing.

swift-to-chase-laird-barronAfter a break, Datlow introduced the second reader of the night.  Hailing from Alaska (where he raced the Iditarod three times during the early 1990s, and against whose backdrop many of his stories are set), Laird Barron is the author of X’s for Eyes, The Imago Sequence, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, and the forthcoming (in two weeks) Swift to Chase.  The story that he shared, “The Cyclotron,” appeared in a Canadian anthology riffing on “a famous franchise character” (hint:  his first name is James and there are references to “Double-O” and the British Secret Service), so, for predictable reasons, “may never be reprinted in my lifetime.”  Written in the second-person, the story presents the world-saving agent, past retirement and ill, through his memories of car chases, pointless shootouts, “sequences of horror,” death traps, assassination attempts, and seduction of and betrayal by women (he has had “extensive serious difficulties with women”), under the shadow (or should that be spectre?) of the black-clad Dr. Hemlock.  Recognition of the familiar, hackneyed tropes and their flippant treatment provided chuckles.  (As far as we know, though, no one in the Bar ordered vodka martinis shaken, not stirred.)

Copies of Barron’s X’s for Eyes and The Imago Sequence were for sale at the back of the room from the Word Bookstores of Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Jersey City, while, at the front of the room, Wong had copies of a short horror comic.

Ellison Bio “A Lit Fuse” Available for Pre-Order

ellison-wsplat-600

The NESFA Press will release a limited edition of A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison, An Exploration by Nat Segaloff in late Fall 2016, followed by a general hardcover edition in early Spring 2017.

Written over the course of five years, consisting of exhaustive and exclusive interviews with Ellison, his colleagues, his family, his friends, and his enemies, A Lit Fuse will be published in a 500-copy limited special edition this fall (2016). The limited edition is now available for pre-order at $75 from NESFA Press. A general hardcover edition is expected by early Spring, 2017. The slipcased special limited edition will include features not available in the general edition.

A Lit Fuse is authorized, but that doesn’t mean it’s a hagiography,” says Segaloff. Of course Ellison wouldn’t want a hagiography. If you clean up and smooth over all the controversy, the face-to-face throwdowns, the litigation, all the let-me-show-you-who’s-in-charge-here moments in his career, while you’d still have a lot of really fine stories to talk about, Harlan Ellison the human being would have disappeared in the process.

Those interviewed for the bio include Neil Gaiman, Patton Oswalt, Peter David, David Gerrold, Robert Sawyer, Michael Scott, Edward Asner, Leonard Nimoy, Ed Bryant, Alan Brennert, J. Michael Straczynski, Robert Silverberg, Paul Krassner, and Walter Koenig. Segaloff also conducted the Emmy Legends interview with Harlan Ellison for the Archive of American Television.

The press release, following the no-hagiogrphy theme, says, “Of particular note are an analysis of the Connie Willis controversy, the infamous dead gopher story, allegedly pushing a fan down an elevator shaft, and the final word on The Last Dangerous Visions.” But mentioning the Connie Willis episode leads me to say, if it’s going to be anything but a faithful recitation of Ellison’s version of events I’ll believe it when I see it. As for Last Dangerous Visions, what else can the last word be than, “Nevermore”?

If I am not an uncritical Ellison fan, I have certainly enjoyed the decades of drama and entertainment he has delivered. Therefore, the kind of bio I want to read about him isn’t going to be a relentless ideological ripping, or a literary deconstruction. Judging from Nat Segaloff’s resume, he seems likely to strike the balance where I want it. He’s written bios of entertainment industry figures like Arthur Penn, William Friedkin, and Stirling Silliphant, and produced documentaries on Stan Lee, John Belushi, Larry King, and Shari Lewis & Lamb Chop.

Tracing the fractious Ellison’s life and career – and including, for the first time with permission, excerpts from his work –  the biography explores his fears, his demons, and his doubts as well as his principles, his hopes, and his triumphs. “It is, without question, the most vulnerable and intimate he has ever allowed himself to appear in print,” Segaloff says. “This is a portrait of the man and his intensely personal creative process, not the usual list of lawsuits, melees, or tantrums, although they’re in here, too.”

By the way, it’s the NESFA Press that calls this a biography. In Michael A. Ventrella’s interview with author Nat Segaloff, Segaloff coyly emphasized that his title does not include the word biography.

VENTRELLA: Tell us about the Harlan Ellison book!

SEGALOFF: It was after he read my Arthur Penn book that Harlan (whom I had known since I directed my Stan Lee documentary) asked me if I would be interested in writing his. He barely finished the question when I said Yes. It’s due out later this year from NESFA Press – the New England Science Fiction Association – and will be a very different book than people are expecting. Everyone who knows Harlan Ellison knows that he is combative, precise, relentless, and brilliant. My book probes the roots of those traits and led both of us into highly personal areas that reveal him as few have ever seen. We’re calling it A LIT FUSE: THE PROVOCATIVE LIFE OF HARLAN ELLISON, AN EXPLORATION BY NAT SEGALOFF. Note that it doesn’t have the word biography in the title. I don’t know what kind of book it is. Yes I do. It’s Harlan.

A LIT FUSE: THE PROVOCATIVE LIFE OF HARLAN ELLISON, AN EXPLORATION BY NAT SEGALOFF

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • Chapter 1: Morning in the Sunken Cathedral
  • Chapter 2: First Contact
  • Chapter 3: Harlan in Wonderland
  • Chapter 4: Marriage Ain’t Nothin’ But Love Misspelled
  • Chapter 5: Science Friction
  • Chapter 6: Teats for Two
  • Chapter 7: All the Lies That Are His Life
  • Chapter 8: The Cordwainer Chronicles
  • Chapter 9: Aye, Robot
  • Chapter 10: The Snit on the Edge of Forever
  • Chapter 11: The Voice in the Wilderness
  • Chapter 12: The Collector
  • Chapter 13: Repent, Harlan!
  • Chapter 14: The Rabbit Whole
  • Chapter 15: The Lost Dangerous Visions
  • Chapter 16: The Flight of the Deathbird
  • Epilogue
  • Afterword
  • Appendix A: Harlan Ellison on Writing: A Conversation
  • Appendix B: Unrealized Projects (Unproduced Teleplays, Screenplays, and Treatments)
  • Appendix C: Awards
  • Appendix C: Interiews
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index