Tor.com publication! Also, outlining.

So…my Tor.com article about the best Slavic sci-fi and fantasy novels went live a few hours ago. I so very rarely see any discussion centered around Eastern European SF/F or Slavic culture in general.  Possibly because (some) Americans hold the view of Slavic SF/F as part of what’s assumed to be whitebread Western European fiction, or doesn’t constitute as “diverse” enough (example: some of the criticism hurled by Americans at The Witcher 3 and its development regarding cultural aspects). So I’m incredibly happy that the folks at Tor.com gave me the chance to discuss it on their website and bring a new chunk of cultural diversity to the table. There’s a great discussion going on  and it’s great to see that the article stirred so much of it up and to really soak it in. It’s already got 300+ likes on their Facebook page and seems to be doing very very well – I’m seeing it all over Twitter and several page groups, and that makes me pretty happy. My fellow Ruskies would be proud. You should be able to check it out over here.

I’m hoping to pitch another article – or even a series of ’em – that discusses SF/F from each chunk of the world: ie the top five picking from South America, East Asia, Scandinavia. I’d love to bring more diverse fiction to the table, and if that’s my way of doing it, then awesome. Let’s hope that happens.

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The last few nights have been super busy due to the Japanese Film Festival (which has been amazing so far – will write a post about it soon), but between screenings I’ve been outling my next novel. I have a very good idea of the world, character and what needs to happen, it’s just the plot that I need to figure out. But when I do…it’s full speed ahead. I’m going to try and write every day until it’s done and see if I can beat my previous 90 day record. I can’t wait to jump into this one. I almost feel sorry for my protagonist already. <i>Almost</i>.

<a href=’http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2016/11/16/starshipsofa-no-460-marc-laidlaw/’>Also, my 100th edited and produced episode of StarShipSofa came up last week.</a> And it’s a Mirrorshades story by Marc Laidlaw. In total it’s estimated that the episodes I’ve worked on have accumulated over one million downloads. Pretty happy with that.

 

Progress Report, Novels and Asian films

The last month or so has been busy…and it hasn’t. Not much short fiction writing – barely at all in fact. But I do have a few things coming up. I’ve got another story from Science Fiction World that’s been reprinted and translated – I should be getting my copies any day now. I’ve also got an article coming up at Tor.com, which should be launching in a few days.

But novels are what’s important to me right now. Even if the world gets destroyed and the Earth smashed to oblivion within the next four years (you can read into that subtext however you like) and I never get a novel on the shelf I’m still going to focus on them because I enjoy writing them the most. I’ve got one that beta readers are tearing into right about now (already got some fantastic feedback from some. Seriously, you need beta readers. Full stop.) but I’m also planning my next one. Outlining was one of the best things I ever did, but I still pantstied a lot of the way and it cost me.

So I’m going to be planning my next one pretty soon. Can’t say much more than that, but it’s my dream novel and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.

In other news, besides finishing and very much enjoying Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and watching the fantastic Westworld, I’m heading off to the Japanese Film festival. There’s some great showings and of course I couldn’t catch them all. But here’s what I am seeing:

After the Storm
Hime-Anole
The Top Secret: Murder in Mind
The Sun
Creepy
The Inerasable
Erased

I’ve already seen the opening film, After the Storm. It’s a slow burner, slice-of-life film that I was happy to see once, but wouldn’t do so again.

I spent the first fourty-five minutes waiting for something to happen, but nothing really did and by the time I realized that the film wasn’t about a moving, cohesive plot but a quiet character study it was almost over. The script could have used some serious tightening, but overall I enjoyed the fact that I’d seen it and could move on. I tend to do that with a lot of films – I’ll sit through one even if I don’t love it because it’s only two hours of my life and I can strike it from the list afterwards, and it’s great to soak up a diverse film list, even if you don’t always love the experience. Can’t do the same with novels, games or TV shows, but I can devote two hours to a film if I need to.

Anyway, it’s back to novel editing and planning right now. I’m seeing Murder in Mind later today and getting ramen with some mates beforehand (c’mon, you need the whole experience to enjoy yourself to the hilt), but if you’re lucky enough to have a foreign film fest playing near you I suggest you see what’s on tap. There’s some rare gems in there.

New Fiction and reprints and stuff

If you’re one of those poor sods who follows my social media you’ll know that almost for the past two months I’ve overseas in Europe. It was a good trip, visited almost a dozen countries and got to see a lot of old friends. But that also means there’s little time to write, let alone blog. And while I’ve been away I’ve had a number of goodies released online or purchased. I’ll link ’em up here.

 

First is my latest piece from Nature, Walls of Nigeria. A story set in a future West Africa, with alien biotech and armored suits a la Halo/Crysis.I’ve been wanting to write this sort of story for a long, long time now but never had the guts. But I decided to hell with it and wrote it. The word-choice and worldbuilding is so strong in this story that it needed a lot of editing to truly knock it into the shape it needed to be in. But so far it’s been getting incredible feedback from everyone’s who read it (including some bloke on twitter who said it was Nature’s best piece. Which is…wow) and I’m very, very happy with it and the ending. Do check it out.

 

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The second the audio release of my nihilistic faux-Lovecraft/secondary world fantasy “Last Age of Kings” over at Far Fetched Fables. I don’t usually listen or like audio adaptations of my work, but Mark Kilfoil absolutely kills the narration and I listened to the whole thing twice. Even though I wrote it nearly two years ago it still seems fresh – all thanks to Mark, of course.

You may listen here.

 

The third is a mouthful: my short story, “The Galaxy’s Cube” has been killing it as far as reprints ago. It’s picked up an audio adaptation over at The Overcast by the lovely lovely J. S. Arquin who does a great job of wrapping his tongue around the tricky Thai names and phrases – very happy here. Check it out here.

It’s also been picked up to be in the hardcover anthology Dystopia Utopia by Flame Tree Press. This one is special because not only did I get pro rates for a reprint, the books are widely available in quite a few bookstores. Flame Tree have gotten their name around and I’ve seen their anthologies in bookstore chains and even in those tiny portable bookstores you see in Westfields. And this down here in Australia. A country that never gets anything. I’m told they’re in UK stores, too, although uncertain in the American front. I’ve already spoken to my local bookstores who’ve carried previous Flame Tree anthos and they’ve agreed to order it in and actually asked me to pop in and scribble a signature in ’em. This is a sale that could rival the one I made to China (for the same story, no less).

Anyway, you can pick up a copy on Book depository, which ships internationally for free. Come on, you know you want a copy.

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It’s it for now. I’m still editing my novel, and there are some other sales I can’t yet discuss (both originals and reprints) but all in good time. Otherwise, onwards and upwards.

The Novel is DONE

It’s done. 123,566 words and I typed THE END on my space opera noir novel.

After 91 days, it’s finally, finally done.

It was done last Thursday, but I’d written 6,000 words that night and I didn’t want to see another keyboard for a weekend at least. But now I’m happy to announce that it’s done and finished.

The first draft, that is. It’s going to take a mountain of effort to unscramble that mess and knock it into something resembling a coherent narrative.

But it’s done.

I feel like Uma Thurman from Kill Bill, standing above the restaurant dojo of Crippling Self Doubt and seeing all the defeated brain weasels on the bloody floor and saying, “All your words are belong to me”.

I wrote everyday for over three months. Every single day. Even the day where I had a ten-hour shift and went out in the evening, even if it was 100 words before collapsing asleep. I kept chiseling away to get the end result.

I absolutely love this novel. After my last project burned me out I had to write exactly what I wanted to write. Genre tends or hot-off-the-press type work be damned. I wanted to take a shot at writing a murder mystery in the deepest reaches of space, with a strong sense of space opera exuberance, and I did.

My plan is to write up a sketchy synopsis of the novel, as well as a detailed list of things that need to be fixed. But I’ll be taking a bit of a break. After a few weeks I’ll try my hand at a short or two, polish up an ugly draft that I’ve got sitting around, maybe do some nonfiction, and then it’s time for revision. A lot of revision.

But for now, I need to clear my mind and take a mini-holiday. After writing almost 125k in 91 days, I think I’ve earned it.

And I’m going to try my best not to think about just how much it sucks and needs work. Wish me luck!

 

Translations Destroy Podcasts on StarShipSofa! (Not really)

So. Something’s been brewing behind the scenes at StarShipSofa. Something we’re sure you’ll all be excited about.

But some backstory first.

It goes without saying that all of us at the District of Wonders welcome stories from all over the globe. We’re an international podcast, and naturally interested in finding stories published in another language. With English-speaking (particularly American) stories dominating the market – and understandably so – it can be quite difficult to get work translated from another language into English to reach a wider audience, and even harder to find them once they have. We have authors such as Andrzej Sapkowski and Cixin Liu rising to popularity, but for the vast majority of non-English authors it’s maddeningly hard to shatter that language barrier and find an audience they deserve.

So I’m doing something about that.

Starting soon, StarShipSofa will be playing one whole month’s worth of stories translated from other languages as part of our Translations Month Special. These four stories are diverse in content and sub-genre as they are in country of origin. Ranging from cyberpunk to time travel to transgressive dystopian, our stories come from France, Japan, Russia, and China. The table of contents are below:

 

  • “The Smog Society” by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu and Carmen Yiling Yan (translated from Chinese).
  • “Sense of Wonder 2.0” by Laurent Queyssi‏, translated by Edward Gauvin (translated from French).
  • “White Curtain” by Pavel Amnuel, translated by Anatoly Belilovsky (translated from Russian).
  • “Violation of the TrueNet Security Act” by Taiyo Fuji, translated by Jim Hubbert (translated from Japanese).

 

Half of these were picked up directly from slush, the other half were procured with assistance from John Joseph Adams and the team at Skyboat Media. A big thank you to them.

This project has been a long time in the making. We’re looking very much to bringing these incredible stories to you, showcasing the international diversity of science-fiction and the different favours that each country specializes in. And of course, we’re always open to broadening our horizons and welcome both more translated stories, and authors and narrators from all territories. But for now, I hope you enjoy what’s on tap this month and all the stories to come.

If you like our stories and the work we’re doing, please consider making a donation on Patreon. Every bit helps to cover our server costs and work towards becoming a paying market. The District of Wonders has adapted and published over a thousand stories over a decade-long period, and with your help we’ll go for another decade yet.  The link is here: https://www.patreon.com/districtofwonders

As always, let us know what you think of this project and the stories on Facebook, Twitter or email. And please, enjoy this special Translations Month, coming soon to your earholes in a podcast near you.

 

 

Sales to China and audio!

I’m late to the party on this one, but I thought I’d announce it on  my blog anyway.

My story, “The Galaxy’s Cube” which was originally published at  Abyss & Apex, has gotten two reprints sales. The first in audio to The Overcast, which is a fantastic venue in of itself (you’re all listening, right?)

The second is to Science Fiction World. If they’re unfamiliar to you, it’s because they’re a magazine in China, with a one million plus readership. They bought the distribution and translation rights to my story and are translating it into Chinese as I write this. Which is…huge.

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When I first started writing, getting just a very eyeballs on my work would have been promising. Now potentially over a million people will be reading this story, and in another language on the other side of the world.

So you could say I’m pretty chuffed.

I’ll be getting contributor copies, and I’ll post ’em when they arrive. Until then you’ll have to suffice with the English version.

 

The Galaxy’s Cube out in Abyss and Apex!

Well, this is certainly overdue. But no matter: my short story “The Galaxy’s Cube” went live at Abyss & Apex for their 58th issue, Q2 2016. It takes place on a Thailand-inspired colony world – there’s a strong biopunk favour, lavish descriptions of haunting cities, dormant AIs, relationships and the sense of wonder and sorrow. It’s also a bit of a love letter to the choatic, beautiful sprawling mess that is Bangkok, Thailand and the wonderful people who reside there. I’ve lived in the place and visited it more than a dozen times and I’ve never had a bad experience.

I wrote this story back in late 2014 or so. It gave me hell at the time of writing, I had no idea where I was going with it, what I’d do, how it would turn out, etc. But I pressed on, finished it, and sold it to Abyss & Apex very quickly. A&A have published work by  Aliette de Bodard, Marie Brennan, Rae Carson, J. N.K. Jemisin, Will McIntosh C. J. Cherryh,  Paul Di Filippo, Jay Lake,  Tim Pratt, and others, so it’s an honour to appear in their pages. So far it’s gotten pretty good reviews, including one in SF Revu where they called it a “fantastic, heartfelt story.”

It’s not perfect of course, considering I wrote it a year and a half ago, but I think it’s one of my better stories, and I feel it’s one of those stories that I “leveled up” with. Considering that they only publish 20 or so stories a year, and frequently get Honourable Mentions in the Year’s Best, I’m pretty happy to be in their pages. Many thanks to  my editors Wendy and Tonya who pushed for it to be the leading story of the issue.

So yes. Sit back and go to a future Thai colony and do let me know what you think of the story. You can find it online for free here.

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Interview over at SF Signal

It’s been a busy week, I’ll tell you that much. I’ve reached 9.6k for my new space opera novel. That’s roughly 1k a day, and will be more if I manage to reach 11k by the end of today. But I want to take the time today to really cement the fundamentals of the world in my head and have that high-concept, ultra-epic coolness that helps the universe stand out from the rest. I’ve literally got a note stapled above my screen that reads “up the weird, add the cool, mix it up”. And that I will do!

But in the meantime I also managed I do an interview over at SF Signal, talking about me, my writing process, my job as an editor, how I managed to get onboard as an editor for a Hugo-winning podcast at the age of 19, etc. If you ever had a burning sensation to know what it was like working with William Gibson, Christopher Priest, Robin Hobb, and George R. R. Martin while Season 5 of Game of Thrones was airing, you can settle that satisfaction right now! It was almost surreal, typing that all up and realising just what we managed to achieve.

Anyway, the interview is here if you want to check it out. Enjoy!

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