realthog: (city in pages)

I've just heard from [livejournal.com profile] hutch0 that three of the stories I published last year have received Hon Menshes in Gardner Dozois's Best New Science Fiction 26. The three are

"Will the Real Veronica LeBarr Please Stand Down?", published in Postscripts #16 ed Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers

"All the Little Gods We Are", published in Clockwork Phoenix, ed Mike Allen ([profile] time_shark)

The City in These Pages, published solo by PS Publishing

Since I think it's the case that I published only four stories last year, I feel I've achieved a fairly high batting average . . . especially since I'd been under the impression that The City in These Pages was published in January '09. (The copyright date reads '08, but I think the book may not have been physically published until '09.)

Also, to my very great delight, Gardner mentions my novel Leaving Fortusa, published by [livejournal.com profile] norilanabooks, in his introductory Summation of the year's sf.

And we have no beer in the house . . .


The fourth story, by the way, was "Always More than You Know", published by Des Lewis in his anthology Cone Zero. I'm not sure whether or not Gardner would have seen this book, which could easily -- coming from an exceptionally small UK outlet (it's just taken me several minutes to track down an appropriate URL for the link) -- have flown below his radar. A pity if so, because it's an excellent antho . . . yes, even despite my presence.



realthog: (corrupted science)

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure this falls within the remit of the Science Masterclass as I've been defining it to myself. However, it's concerned with science, and it does indeed refer to scientific idiocy/illiteracy/denial, so I guess my heading's okay . . .

There's a very good article by David S. Bernstein on the Boston Phoenix site at the moment called "Generation Green". Moderately long but well worth perusing in full, it has as its subject the way the current stalwarts of the GOP are essentially driving the Republican bandwagon over the edge of a cliff by promoting anti-scientific, non-reality-based notions concerning climate change. Why? Because the very people who're going to be hardest hit by the consequences of any continuation of the criminal inactivity
on this front (or, even worse, promotion of potentially genocidal junk science) of the Bush years are all too well aware of the hazards of the future that people of older generations have created for them. And those young people represent an already large and (obviously) steadily increasing slice of the US electorate.

As I say, Bernstein's piece is well worth reading in toto; nonetheless, here are some pertinent extracts:

Republicans have a lot to say about the immorality of saddling the next generation with our national debt. But when it comes to leaving them a wrecked, depleted, and rapidly warming planet, they are taking the exact opposite line.

That's especially odd when you consider how important that next generation is to the faltering GOP - and how broadly united those voters, known as Millennials, are in their concern over global warming and other energy and environment issues.
[. . .]

Even the most senior Republican leaders, and the top GOP lawmakers on energy and environment committees, keep shooting themselves in the foot by spewing antiquated, anti-science nonsense.
[. . .]

Global warming, more than any other issue, carries an urgency among Millennials of all backgrounds and ideologies. "That's the scary thing, if you work for the RNC [Republican National Committee]," says John della
Volpe, who studies this generation at the Harvard University Institute of Politics (IOP). "It absolutely cuts across all the demographics."

"For young people, no issue is more important," says Pat Johnson, a Suffolk University student and president of the College Democrats of Massachusetts. "We are going to have to live with the consequences of inaction."

Conventional wisdom suggests that getting bogged down over environmental legislation would distract Democrats from important issues like the economy and foreign policy.
[. . .] To this generation, this fight is not only about climate change - it is about creating green jobs and increasing national security by reducing dependence on foreign oil. [. . .]

In a stance utterly bewildering to most Beltway veterans, Millennials don't necessarily view the environment as a partisan or ideological issue. To them, it's an infrastructure problem, like wanting the New Orleans levees
fixed. That's why even those Millennials otherwise open to the GOP will get turned off if the party opposes climate-change progress.
[. . .]

But the loosest cannons in the GOP - and they are legion - simply cannot stick with the game plan. How can they? Surveys show that solid majorities of Republicans believe that global warming is either a myth or, at most, a wildly overblown media creation. Those warming deniers control the party, and their elected officials can only go along with it.

As a result, prominent Republicans regularly spew inanities on climate change ready-made for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. And it only gets worse when you move beyond the elected Republicans. The most popular conservative talk-show hosts, publications, bloggers, and pundits are almost unanimously dismissive of global warming, from columnist George F. Will, to Fox News superstar Glenn Beck, to bloggers at redstate.com.

After the recent EPA announcement on regulating greenhouse gases, Jonah Goldberg, National Review contributor, Fox News analyst, book author, and rising star of right-wing punditry, fumed on National Review Online, without irony, that "A federal agency has decided that it has the power to regulate everything, including the air you breathe" -- as if, under the Clean Air Act, the federal government has not been doing exactly that for the past four decades.

To almost anyone under the age of 30, all of this is similar to watching cigarette executives insist that smoking isn't harmful. "Younger voters get interested when they can choose sides," says Rasky, and the Republicans are going to make that very easy. "You give them the opportunity, they'll talk about drilling for oil, and how global warming isn't really happening."

To Millennials, that rhetoric makes the GOP nothing more than obnoxious gas.


(It's perhaps a little unfair of Bernstein to cite Goldberg, who's a man of such extraordinary stupidity that any argument he supports becomes ipso facto risible -- at least, this is what I thought on first reading the relevant passage. Thereafter, though, it dawned on me that Bernstein's choice was a bit circumscribed. Had he selected just about any of the alternatives among the rightist pundits he'd have been accused of picking too-easy targets: Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Coulter, Buchanan, Beck, Inhofe, Gingrich, Savage . . .)

My own feeling is that perhaps we're already too late to avert the onrushing climate disaster: even those politicians/political factions around the world who're trying urgently to take ameliorative steps are producing results short of what is necessary; as James Lovelock has said, by the end of this century humanity is likely to consist of at best a few million individuals living in conditions of extreme barbarism near the poles. But words like "perhaps" and "likely" leave open the smallest of cracks in the doorways ahead of us; the people who're so determined to close those cracks, slam shut those doors, are nothing short of public enemies -- as, apparently, the "Millennials" (ugly term) recognize only too well.

And, yes, I've been here before -- notably in my nonfiction Corrupted Science and my mosaic novel Leaving Fortusa, both of which have been subject to rightist vituperation. I wonder if those vituperators realize I wear their smears with pride?


help Vera

Dec. 5th, 2008 05:04 pm
realthog: (Default)


My publisher Vera Nazarian (her Norilana Books recently published my mosaic novel Leaving Fortusa) is distinguished in many ways. She's one of our premier fantasy authors, and one of the best friends a person could have. She's also one of the hardest working people I know. I couldn't respect her more.

But now, through no fault of her own, she's in deep financial trouble.

[livejournal.com profile] grayrose76 has opened up the new LJ community [livejournal.com profile] helpvera to see if our merry gang can assist Vera in digging herself out of the financial hole she's gotten into: the URL, if the above link doesn't work, is here. You can donate through the site, or you can bid on one (or more!) of the excellent items people have put up for auction, or you can do all of these things and put up something special for auction yourself.

Whatever you choose to do, I'm asking you please to go to [livejournal.com profile] helpvera right now.

realthog: (Default)

Thanks to an invite we got for an Offisherl Spammers Room Party, [livejournal.com profile] pds_lit and I are arriving at the con on Friday rather than, as initially planned, first thing Saturday morning.

This is just as well, because since we made the decision the Philcon programmers have sent me my schedule, and I've discovered they're planning to work me really hard. Assuming my groin holds up under the stress, this is what I'll be doing:

Sat 10:00 AM in Art Show (Grand Ballroom B) (1 hour)
ART SHOW TOURS (108)

    [Panelists: Lee Gilliland (mod), Ken Warren, John  Grant]

    Looking for people to take fans through the art show and give some
    insight to the art displayed

Sat 11:00 AM in Plaza VII (1 hour)
THE ONLY THING WORTH WRITING SCIENCE FICTION ABOUT IS _______ . (19)

    [Panelists: Tom Purdom (mod), Michael Swanwick, John  Grant, Ann
    Tonsor Zeddies, Ty Drago]

     Love and death? Sex and religion? Vacuum tubes and transistors? Can
    you ever narrow down the essence of science fiction to just a few
    concepts

Sat 3:00 PM in Plaza V (1 hour)
FUNNY FANTASY- THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HUMOR AND PARODY (70)

    [Panelists: Larry Hodges (mod), Bud Sparhawk, Richelle Mead, Gregory
    Frost, John  Grant]

    How do you create humor that is an original creation rather than a
    reflection of something else

Sat 4:00 PM in Executive Suite 623 (1 hour)
JOHN GRANT READING (243)

    [Panelists: John  Grant (mod)]

Sat 8:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two (1 hour)
SOMETHING FOR NOTHING: HOAX PHYSICS (171)

    [Panelists: John  Grant (mod), Tony Rothman, Frank O'Brien, Jay
    Wile]

    Perpetual motion, free energy, anti-gravity, etc. Although they have
    never worked, such "inventions" have been popping up since the
    middle ages. Today there are still plenty of people willing to
    invest large amounts of money in mysterious energy devices and
    variations on perpetual motion. There are even magazines devoted to
    the cause. Why can't these fallacies be laid to rest? Is there a
    glimmer of reality to any of it

Sun 1:00 PM in Plaza III (1 hour)
EDITING ANTHOLOGIES (14)

    [Panelists: Darrell Schweitzer (mod), Gardner Dozois, Marvin Kaye,
    John  Grant]

     Editors explain how they do it. The differences between an all
    original and an all reprint anthology

The highlight of all this is of course the 4pm Saturday event. I've not made my mind up 100%, but I'm provisionally intent on reading a bit from Leaving Fortusa, "Commander Ginfalcio Beeswax and the Menace from Deneb", which has the advantage of having lots of good jokes in it.

realthog: (Default)


. . . the concluding sentence of her NYT piece the other day about Sarah Palin's various homicidal attacks upon vocabulary, grammar and (in the larger sense) syntax deserves mention. It is a very simple observation that should be made more often:

True mavericks don’t brand themselves.

realthog: (Default)


You'll doubtless have noticed the avid media buzz surrounding the publication today of the hardback of my mosaic novel Leaving Fortusa (the trade paperback edition follows a couple of weeks behind). This is certainly my most important piece of fiction to date, and perhaps the most important I will ever write.

The publisher, Norilana Books, has posted a page for the book
here; it includes extracts from the couple of advance reviews the novel has received ("An ambitious and daring book" -- Charles Tan, Bibliophile Stalker; "I loved this book. . . . 5/5 stars for sheerly amazing writing, and a big kudos to Norilana Books for publishing it" -- Someone's Read It Already) as well as, of course, the cover image:


 

Photobucket

And links for purchase:

US:

 

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble

Elsewhere:

Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon FR
Amazon DE
Amazon JP

And the blurb:

A dystopian masterpiece by the Hugo, Locus, Chesley, and World Fantasy Award-winning author. . .

A disabled US veteran from Iraq finds in Scotland a bizarrely distorted form of Fairyland and realizes he has lost his own country. A New Yorker learns how to discard the sad times from his life as around him society crumbles. A dream-research laboratory uncovers the true origin of our reality, a secret too dangerous to reveal . . .

The powerhouse dystopian novel by a master of fantastic literature.

Two children are taught to suppress their imagination. Armies travel back in time to conquer the worlds of the past, there to hold gladiatorial circuses. A man suffers the death penalty over and over for everyone else’s murders, so the victims’ families may have “closure” . . .

Ten episodes from a horrifying future, with the Decline and Fall of the American Empire as their backdrop.

Two karmic tempters dance through myriad different universes in search of ways to engineer the downfall of their enemies here. A rusted ferris wheel standing tall above the desert is a locus for barbarous religious executions. An old woman recalls her childhood loss of innocence about the world in which she lives . . .

In the great If This Goes On tradition, an impassioned assault on the seeds of destruction sown within our society. Searing prose conjures a nightmare vision you will never be able to forget.

A loner foraging in the graveyard of our civilization comes across what may be all that's left of human literature . . .

One of the most astonishing novels of the new century’s first decade, Leaving Fortusa is also one of its most urgent.

I've been writing the components of the novel here and there for the past three or four years, concerned about the ever-increasing pace of events. Even so, I couldn't have imagined how directly relevant it would be to real-life circumstances at the moment of publication. I wish it were not so.
 
Later: Oh, and here's the link to the book's page on my own website: http://johngrantpaulbarnett.com/Fortusa.html



realthog: (morans)

I'm not sure if this quite qualifies as science, even though clearly the methodology of science has been put to use by numbskulls on behalf of numbskulls. Jonathan Stein has posted the ghastly details on his Mother Jones blog:

Mayor of SC Town "Just Curious" if Obama is the Antichrist

When PolitiFact did a fact-check of the "Is Obama the Antichrist?" question back in April, I thought it was a touch ridiculous. They got multiple professors of religious studies to chime in and did a serious examination of the text of Revelation. They found that not only is Obama not the Antichrist (stunning!), the chain email that suggests he is has no familiarity with the Bible and is a pretty pathetic piece of work, even for a smear email.

But that's not a surprise, right? This is an email claiming a prominent American politician is the Antichrist. Of course it's insane. No one needs a fact-check to prove that. Right?

Oops. The mayor of a South Carolina town apparently does. He forwarded the email after receiving it and when called on the fact that he was perpetuating a smear, he said, "I was just curious if there was any validity to it. I was trying to get documentation if there was any scripture to back it up."

I'm going to start sending out emails claiming that this man is a half-wit. I'm just curious if there is any validity to it.

Just to remind you: this is the 21st century we live in, not the 11th. And we in the US live in a technologically advanced, information- and education-oriented society, right? Yet even here on LJ I've come across people convinced Obama is either the Antichrist or the Antichrist's precursor.

Heigh-ho. These small-town mayors -- backbone of the nation, they are.

Later: Apparently the offensive e-mail claims Revelation says the Antichrist will be of Muslim ancestry. Spot the chronological error, folks!
 


realthog: (leavingfortusa)

Over at Bibliophile Stalker the indefatigable Charles A. Tan has just posted a review of the book that's almost embarrassingly favourable. Here are extracts:

Grant takes a mosaic-novel approach with his latest book, Leaving Fortusa. [. . .] The sequence of the stories significantly affects one's reading of the book as there is a noticeable shift both in chronology and atmosphere. It's certainly possible to read the stories on their own -- and some of them have been published elsewhere -- but they take on that extra layer of depth when taking the new paradigm into consideration. [. . .]

Leaving Fortusa is clearly influenced by modern events and the fiction is politically charged so much so that it's evident where the passion of the author is. Grant has several strong points going for him. The first is that his language is easygoing and casual, making him accessible even as he goes about explaining various sci-fi theories. He also knows when to lighten the mood, sprinkling comedy and satire when necessary. The other strength of Grant is his characterization and Leaving Fortusa is no different from his other short stories or novels. [. . .] The third strength of the book is its flexibility and Grant manages to infuse his stories with elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror -- whichever is appropriate for the story.

Overall, Leaving Fortusa is an ambitious and daring book. [. . .]

That's two very pleasing reviews in a row. I'm beginning to think the book might be moderately okay -- in parts, at least. Sometimes.
 
realthog: (Default)

. . . and very much in advance it is, bearing in mind the book's not due until October 1. I have nearly two full months in which I can bombard the unwary with repeated quotes from it.

The review is on the site Someone's Read It Already, and concludes with this (slightly trimmed-down, as indicated by ellipses, etc.) paragraph:

. . . I loved this book. There was much to chew on, and some amazing writing. Mr. Grant had a different voice and a different tone in every story, and he caught each of them perfectly. Based on my review of [Cory Doctorow's] Little Brother, one might guess that I’m not a fan of the policies of this current administration. Mr. Grant seems to be a lot more pessimistic than I am, though . . . I do not necessarily agree with all his projections; in some ways, it’s like a horror novel — a delightful thrill down my spine. . . . [A] very thought-provoking and frightening book. I’d definitely recommend it with caveats — it’s not for the faint of heart (or youngsters), what with the amount of violence, gore, sex, and horrible language. 5/5 stars for sheerly amazing writing, and a big kudos to Norilana Books for publishing it.

For the whole piece, go here.

Elsewhere in the review, the writer singles out one of the book's ten episodes for special praise, and remarks curiously upon the fact that it's among those that haven't seen prior publication as a standalone. I had to grin, because I'm very fond of that particular story as well; yet, a year or two ago when I sent it out to a bunch of magazine editors, they all rejected it with cries of singular venom. It may well be that it's one of those things that works best in its proper context, or . . .

 
realthog: (leaving fortusa)

. . . so you can just imagine what the rest are like.

Over the weekend, an e-mail from the divine [profile] norilanabooks informed me sweetly (as sweetly as only norilnabooks can) that I'd managed to post the wrong version of the Leaving Fortusa ARC cover proof here.

What I posted was the penultimate proof, which differed by one word on the back from its successor. So here, in the interests of completeness or something like that, is the correct version:


Photobucket 


(Nervously scrutinizes pic to make sure he hasn't made the same knuckleheaded mistake again. Phew!)

To repeat: If anyone would like to review the book on their blog (or elsewhere), I've been told I can dish out PDFs of the ARC. Send me your e-address via the LJ system, and I'll despatch a copy in your direction pronto(ish).

 

McTosh

Jul. 25th, 2008 09:21 pm
realthog: (leaving fortusa)
 
Anyone who thinks they know anything about US politics based on the coverage given by the US mainstream media should urgently read this article. Jamison Foser is always excellent in his media analysis, and nowhere more so than here.

One campaign is talking bilgewater (e.g., and from a long long list, Iran is accused of aiding Sunnis), and much of the mainstream media is basically stenographing this crap. The other campaign is trying to make this a proper debate about the future the US -- and the world -- should have. The first campaign is whingeing about unfair media treatment, despite the facts on the ground. The second is saying little on the subject.

See? I'm not biased. I'm not saying which campaign is which.
 
realthog: (Default)


Later this evening I'm hoping to be able to post the ARC cover for my mosaic novel Leaving Fortusa, which Norilana Books
([livejournal.com profile] norilanabooks ) is to publish October 1.

I've seen the draft, and am already -- so thrilled am I by it -- insufferable. A couple of words have to be changed on the back, and then it'll be ready for view by everybody.

realthog: (Default)

Norilana Books has now issued its first Press Release about the acquisition of Leaving Fortusa: http://norilanabooks.livejournal.com/38421.html.

I'm so very fired up about this. My ballbuster agent sent the book out with her (genuine, she told me) comment that she felt this was the novel I'd been put here to write, as it were. I was a bit stunned by the description at first, then realized I agreed with her.

It's also a novel that's going to get a lot of people very angry. No one I personally give too much of a $Zb about, to be honest; but a lot of folk out there. I hate raising hackles, but there are times . . . Sinclair Lewis didn't write It Can't Happen Here because he wanted to offend people but because he was terrified by the anti-human horrors that well intentioned Denial might unwittingly accomplish. That's kind of where I'm coming from, too. We can no longer afford the luxury of good people refusing to face the unpleasant truths in front of them.
 
realthog: (Jim's bear pic)
 
I've just heard this morning that my "mosaic novel" Leaving Fortusa has sold (with the usual caveats about crossing the "t"s and dotting the "i"s in the contract) to Vera Nazarian of Norilana Books (aka [profile] norilanabooks). My notoriously ballbusting agent forwarded along to me the e-mail containing the guts of the offer, in which Vera remarked:

I've just finished reading LEAVING FORTUSA and it proved to be an amazing experience all the way to the end [. . .] Very complex, philosophical, mind-blowing, terrifying, in short, what the best science fiction should be.

The very last sentence was a profound WOW, and I think this is an extremely powerful book that should one day become a dystopian classic (I just hope not a self-fulfilling prophecy!).


Aside from a sneaky thought that this meant I already had my first cover quote sewn up (well, maybe not), it struck me that more publishers should learn to say things like this to the authors/agents of manuscripts they want to acquire. After reading Vera's comments I was prepared to agree to just about anything offered contractually! Fortunately, though . . .

I'll witter more about Leaving Fortusa in due course. At the moment I must finish off my Foreword to the Wimbledon Society Museum's edition of T.G. Jackson's Six Ghost Stories.


realthog: (Default)
A couple of essays in today's newspapers struck me as being of more than just ephemeral interest to what's left of the American body politic during the rump end of perhaps the country's most disastrous of all presidencies, and while the remaining candidates for that high office -- with a single, glowing exception -- trade policies that are of complete irrelevance to the challenges facing us in the 21st century.

The first essay, adapted from his own forthcoming book by Parag Khanna, is a long and remarkably lucid outline of the new geopolitics, a demonstration of the way in which the USA's current foreign policies are doomed to failure not through any particular incompetence but simply because successive Administrations have clung, like the RIAA, to a defunct business model long after the stage during which it was merely foolish so to do.

The piece, which appeared in the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/magazine/27world-t.html?th&emc=th, is called "Waving Goodbye to Hegemony", a rather flip title -- shame on the NYT's subeditors! -- that disguises the portent of the content.

The second article appears in the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-naomi27jan27,0,3813752.story?track=ntothtml, is called "Why the Right Loves a Disaster" (another of these stupidly glib titles!), and is, like so many op-eds at the moment, by Naomi Klein, author of the recent book The Shock Doctrine. Klein points out that the only time those economic and social doctrines that together could loosely be called "neocon" are ever able to achieve any degree of implementation is in the wake of some disaster or other -- usually an economic disaster, but just as feasibly a catastrophe like 9/11 or a war (think post-WWI Germany for a combination of both). At such a time people are too fraught to examine the ideologically driven economic/social doctrine or recognize it for the tripe it is, so before they know quite what's going on it's been completely implemented -- which is, of course, a fresh disaster all on its own.

Taking the theses of these two pieces together, we have the imminent spectacle of misguided economic and social policies being applied in the context of a worldview that was valid at the end of the last century but is now of strictly historical interest. And most of us, me included, spend most of our time fiddling as the tinder of this inferno sparks.

 

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