The Daily Blog Schedule

One way I hope to make it easier to maintain The Daily Blog schedule is to plan out my topics in advance. So here’s my plan for the next week:

Story Saturday. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

Science Sunday. Near Earth Objects.

Market Monday. Digital Science Fiction.

Talking Tuesday. Introduction to dictation.

Work-in-Progress Wednesday. Today I Am Paul, the novel.

Thinking Thursday. Random thoughts.

Friend Friday. Joshua Sky.

Story Saturday: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

In Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman takes the tropes of fairy tales and reinvents them for a story about class conflict in modern London. Yeah, I know, that sounds dreary and preachy, but it’s not. It’s Gaiman-y, and that means magical. I’m rereading it because it reminds me of a story in my Idea Pile, and I want to remember how this sort of story is done right. I gave it 5 stars out of 5 on my first read. This time I’m trying to figure out how to give it 6 out of 5, since I’m catching all of the foreshadowing that I missed the first time.

Summary: It’s Gaiman, in my opinion the finest fantasist we have today. And it’s my favorite of his works. Even though it’s not as cosmic, I like it better than The Sandman, and that’s saying a lot! If you’re a Gaiman fan and you haven’t read this yet, what are you waiting for? And if you’re new to Gaiman, this is a great start.

This story originated as a BBC TV series and has also been adapted as a graphic novel.

Now for the…

Spoiler Alert!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Unbeknownst to most, there are two Londons: London Above, the one we all know; and London Below, a community living mostly under the streets of London Above, but also on the roofs, in back alleys, and anywhere else that the people of London Above choose not to go. And choose is the operative word: London Below and its residents are all around them, but the people Above choose not to see them. Look right through them, even. If forced to notice someone from Below, they forget as soon as possible.

But when the Lady Door, a noble from a powerful London Below family, lies injured on a London street, Richard Mayhew – over the objections of his fiancée Jessica – refuses to look away. He insists on helping Door. He is awakened to the existence of London Below. And once he is, he is drawn in. His eyes are opened, and he can never go back to what he once was. He is now of London Below, and Jessica and everyone he knows have forgotten him.

Yes, it’s an obvious allegory for a modern city divided between the powerful and the homeless, the dispossessed. As I’ve described it here, it sounds like a heavy-handed, clumsy allegory. But that’s because I’m not Gaiman. Neil Gaiman does not do clumsy! (Plus he has two to three chapters to introduce what I summarized in two paragraphs.) As Richard and Door and their companions hunt the killers of Door’s family, the allegory fades into the background behind a classic fantasy quest told in a most unusual setting and populated with unusual characters, including:

  • The marquis de Carabas, a wiley character with only one principle: trading favors. He is neither a good man nor a bad; but if he owes you, he’s a good man to have on your side. And if you owe him, pay up, or you’ll pay…
  • Hunter, a woman obsessed with hunting the most dangerous legendary creatures of the modern world.
  • Croup and Vandemar, the immortal, evil assassins hired to kill Door’s family. But who hired them? That’s the real quest.

There are a lot more, of course, but these are the primary characters. Each is richly fleshed out, realistic and exotic. The story is told mostly from Richard’s POV, as the reader’s proxy in this strange world, but occasionally follows the other characters on side journeys.

And the last character is London itself, Above and Below. Gaiman contrasts the two worlds metaphorically and brilliantly. Place names that have no meaning in London Above are revealed to have rich, magical histories in London Below.

I’m enjoying this book more in my reread. I highly recommend it!

The Daily (insert laugh here) blog

I need to do more blogging. I really do. It’s good mental exercise, and it’s also a good way to connect with people.

But blogging for me is hit and miss (and miss, and miss, and miss…). I’ll have nothing to blog about, so I’ll skip a day. And then another. And then…

So I’m going to try something different. I’ll post general news and such when it comes up, but I’m also going to try for The Daily Blog, a rotating set of blog topics. These will be writing prompts to give me something to write about even if nothing else comes up.

So here’s the schedule for The Daily Blog:

  • Science Sunday. Science news and how it might be useful in a story.
  • Market Monday. A look at different markets for fiction and non-fiction.
  • Talking Tuesday. I do a lot of story dictation. I get a lot of questions about it. Here’s my chance to answer some of them.
  • Work-in-Progress Wednesday. A discussion about whatever I’m currently writing.
  • Thinking Thursday. Random thoughts.
  • Friend Friday. A chance to talk about the work of my friends.
  • Story Saturday. A discussion about whatever I’m currently reading, watching, listening to, or playing.

Can I keep to this schedule? Probably not. But it gives me a goal to shoot for.

My Year in Review – 2016

I like to post my Lessons Learned on the anniversary of my return to fiction (July 4). But friends tell me I should also do a year-end review post. So here it is.

Today I Am Paul (5,000 words, reprint)

This little story is my 800-pound gorilla, dominating the rest of the year’s news. Besides winning the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award and being nominated for the Nebula Award, the story was reprinted in the following venues:  

·       The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois

·       The Best Science Fiction of the Year, edited by Neil Clarke

·       The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016 Edition, edited by Rich Horton

·       The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 8, edited by Allan Kaster

·       The Long List Anthology Volume 2: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List, edited by David Steffen

·       VISIONARIUM präsentiert: Arcanum. Geschichten aus der Zukunft (German translation)

·       Bli Panika (Hebrew translation)

·       XB-1 (Czech translation)

·       Angle Mort (French translation)

·       Quasar (Italian translation)

·       Nowa Fantastyka (Polish translation)

·       Science Fiction World (Chinese translation)

Today I Am Santa Claus (5,000 words, December)

If you liked the Caretaker and its family from “Today I Am Paul”, you can read the next story of their lives in Christmas Caring II: A Christmas Charity Anthology, edited by DawnRay Ammon. This anthology, full of fun Christmas short stories by bestselling writers and new-comers alike, is bound to get you into the Christmas spirit. All proceeds will be donated to Legacy Initiative of Utah.

Bookmarked (2,400 words, September)

Of everything I wrote in 2016, this is the one I’m most proud of (Though “Today I Am Santa Claus” runs a very close second). It’s a tale of love beyond death, written as a tribute to Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon, a great man and educator whom we lost this year. It appeared in Galaxy’s Edge Magazine: Issue 22, September 2016, edited by Mike Resnick.

The Vampire’s New Clothes (5,000 words, July)

This was my other Galaxy’s Edge story for the year, appearing in Galaxy’s Edge Magazine: Issue 21, July 2016, edited by Mike Resnick. This story was inspired by Mike’s novel Stalking the Vampire, and is my way of answering a question raised by that book.

Black Orbit (10,000 words, December)

Inspector Park Yerim must find the secret message from a dead agent, hidden on an incoming mining load. Appearing in Analog Science Fiction, December 2016, edited by Trevor Quachri.

Visits (with a Stranger) (5,800 words, November)

A time travel story of redemption. But whose? Appearing in Time Travel Tales, edited by Zach Chapman.

Green Girl Blues (6,000 words, October)

The gene modder Niko gets involved with a young girl who wants to escape her world. Niko tries to help her without revealing his secrets… or hers. Appearing in Humanity 2.0, edited by Alex Shvartsman.

Early Warning (3,500 words, April)

A man visits his past self to try to set things right… and drink cheap beer. Appearing in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, April 2016, edited by Trevor Quachri.

Pallbearers (5,400 words, reprint, April)

A soldier on a distant world is trapped in his own powered armor. Appearing in Ctrl Alt Delight: Digital Science Fiction Anthology, edited by Michael Wills.

The Troll Under the Fridge (760 words, reprint, April)

It’s the Big Game, and the billy goats want to get snacks. The troll has other ideas. Appearing in Quickfic Anthology 1: Shorter-Short Speculative Fiction, edited by Michael Wills.

In its Shadow (8,700 words, April)

Throughout their history, the Afim have wondered about the strange Sphere in their midst. Now one determined scientist will find the truth. Appearing in Trajectories, edited by Dave Creek.

Murder on the Aldrin Express (19,000 words, reprint, February)

The original Carver and Aames story. Appearing in Forever Magazine Issue 11.

Summary

·       23 publications.

·       8 original works.

·       15 reprints.

·       4 year’s best reprints.

·       7 international translations.

·       1 Nebula nomination.

·       1 SPA award.

You know, I may be doing something right here…

Now for next year! Back to work on that novel about a certain android and a certain family…