It’s been a busy week here at the Library of Winkelman Abbey. Yesterday we had our kitten spayed. She recovered nicely from the surgery and spent most of yesterday evening and night, well into today, being a psychotic beast. Only in the last couple of hours (a full 24 since the surgery) has she calmed down enough to sit still for more than about a minute. Thus, no kitten in today’s photo.
A small stack of books arrived in the past week. On the left is the newest issue of Jacobin. In the middle is the latest from Deep Vellum, The Love Story of the Century. And on the right is an impulse buy from Semiotext(e), The Coming Insurrection, the first title in their Interventions series.
The Coming Insurrection was briefly famous back in 2009 when noted fascist bootlick Glenn Beck spent several weeks pissing himself in terror on Fox News over what he called “the most evil book he has ever read.” Coming from someone who at the time worked at white nationalist propaganda outlet Fox News, that description is hilarious. I doubt Beck or any of his catamites (the ones who can read, anyway) made it past more than the first few pages of this small text.
So I have some good reading for the week ahead, while I nurse our kitten back to health.
Amazing how time flies when you have a kitten. Suddenly February is here and I can already feel the impending changing of seasons and birthdays and of course the end of the year is one month closer.
This week’s bundle of books for the Library of Winkelman Abbey is small but distinguished. On the left is Berari’s The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance, from Semiotext(e). In the middle is the latest arrival from And Other Stories, Gerald Murnane’s collection of essays Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs. On the right is Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts, the cover of which is even more beautiful in person than in the photo.
In reading, I am slowly ramping up again and working my way through volumes III and IV of the Long List Anthologies. There stories therein are absolutely amazing, no two anything alike, and while reading I feel simultaneously inspired and intimidated.
In writing, I took some time off from creating and editing, and used that time to update my list of published works. This effort included posting my novelette “Hvalur,” which was part of the original Brewed Awakenings anthology published by Caffeinated Press back in 2015.
I have made some progress on a cyberpunk-ish short story, and the research thereof has given me material for some new poems which may or may not see the light of day at some point in the future.
If I publish none of it, at least the cat will still love me.
Back in 2013 I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time. My project was a science fiction murder mystery set in and around a twenty kilometer tall tower located in the Gabon Estuary near Libreville. It was a fun exercise and I learned a lot about writing, but there were many (in hindsight) problematic aspects to the story and I have not done much with it since.
In 2014, as Caffeinated Press was starting up, the editor in chief approached the members of the writing group which had spawned the press and announced an open call for stories for an inaugural anthology. I wrote “Hvalur,” a 9,900 word prequel story to the 2013 NaNoWriMo project, and it was accepted and published in Brewed Awakenings I.
Since then, Caffeinated Press has gone out of business and the rights to the story have reverted to me. Rather than consign “Hvalur” to the long-tail limbo of Amazon.com’s back shelves I decided to put it up here on my website where it can be read for free. Aside from some minor line edits, this is the version which appeared in the anthology.
“Hvalur” is the first of what will eventually be a large collection of my writing which I will release publicly. If I get positive feedback I might even set up a Patreon account.
Click here to read “Hvalur.”
As part the process of focusing my 2020 reading on short fiction, I am keeping a list of every short story I read this year. Author names are linked to their primary online presence, as are the venues for those short stories.
January was quite busy, what with work deadlines, ConFusion 2020 and the new kitten, so I only read 20 stories. The majority came from periodicals though the last few came from the superb Long List Anthologies of short fiction nominated for the Hugo Awards.
- “Lost Book” – Williams, Ryan M. (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
- “That Faraway Kingdom” – Buckell, Tobias (Patreon)
- “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” – Fall, Isabel (Clarkesworld #160, January 2020)
- “Acceptable Losses” – Dermatis, Dayle (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
- “A Choose Your Own Fangle Adventure” – Jeschonek, Robert (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
- “Say Hello to my Little Friend” – Rusch, Kristine Kathryn (Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #7, Summer 2019)
- “The Ghost of a Smile” – Miller, John Jos (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Cessation of Civilization” – Croke, Marie (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Autoimmune” – Pankau, Kurt (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Hot Times in Shady Pines” – Kloster, Gary (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “The Last Petal” – Madden, Anna (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Extremophile” – Harpold, Robert E. (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Dreamforger” – Crankshaw, Donald S. (Dreamforge #4, December 2019)
- “Dirtnap” – Koekkoek, Taylor (Paris Review #231, Winter 2019)
- “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” – Buckell, Tobias (The Long List Anthology, vol. 4)
- “Red in Tooth and Cog” – Rambo, Cat (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “A Salvaging of Ghosts” – de Bodard, Aliette (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the International Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0” – Yaochim, Caroline M. (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “Razorback” – Vernon, Ursula (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
- “We Have a Cultural Difference, Can I Taste You?” – Jordan, Rebecca Ann (The Long List Anthology, vol. 3)
Here we have the famous book critic, Poe Kitten, expressing her approval of the latest book from Two Lines Press, b, Book, and Me, by Kim Sagwa, Though Poe has not yet read this book she approves of it because it is another thing for her to be briefly curious about and possibly gnaw on.
Not much new on the book acquisition side of things which is a relief as I am still cataloging the many books I picked up at ConFusion two weeks ago.
(Jeez. Was it only two weeks ago?)
Reading and writing continues apace. I have a few pieces still out there seeking new homes, and I am collating the stories I read throughout January, for their own post.
Now if you will excuse me, the Superbowl is on, so I have some nature documentaries to watch!
While digging out from under the post-ConFusion pile of books I set aside two new additions to the Library of Winkelman Abbey. On the left is the latest edition of Poetry magazine, and on the right is The Best of Uncanny from Subterranean Press. This is a Big Gorgeous Book and I will likely be reading the stories therein for several weeks.
Speaking of reading, I am working through the stories in the various Long List Anthologies of runners-up in the Short Fiction category from the Hugo Awards. Five of these anthologies have been published so far, and I hope the series continues as long as the Hugos are awarded.
Writing has mostly involved a few short poems and a lot of editing of the large stack of short stories. I have about half a dozen submissions out there and I have already received three rejection letters in 2020, so I am off to a rocking start!
The week leading up to ConFusion 2020 was packed and chaotic, full of kitten hijinks, shenanigans and tomfoolery. And also a few books.
The top two, Half Way Home and the Principia Discordia, I picked up at ConFusion from the stack of free books.
The bottom row starts with Franco Berardi’s Breathe: Chaos and Poetry from Semiotext(e), a publisher for whom I have re-developed a profound love. Next is This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I picked this one up hoping that Mohtar would sign it at ConFusion but alas! she did not attend this year.
Third in the bottom row is Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade which I DID get signed at ConFusion, and next to it is Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway, likewise signed. I will talk more of ConFusion and books and signing in an upcoming blog post.
For reading, I managed a couple of short stories, but was too busy for much other than the usual half-hearted browsing of random internet pieces.
Yeah, ConFusion was a lot of fun.
As of yesterday we have had Poe, our little Yooper ginger kitten, for three weeks. In that time she has gone from this:
Out veterinarian say she is around five months old even though she is about as big as as three-month-old kitten. Or she was when we picked her up. Good diet, comfortable surroundings and lots of loving attention have turned her from a half-feral animal who hid in a bucket in our bathroom the first morning after her arrival, to the de facto ruler of the house, as all cat people will recognize.
I haven’t lived with cats in about fifteen years, and I have not “owned” a cat since the mid-1980s, and those were somewhat tame barn cats never allowed inside the house. So this is both a new experience and one with frequent spikes of nostalgia and deja vu.
She has adjusted well. She took to her litter box the first day and has had no accidents that we have found. She is wonderfully affectionate though still has the primal barn cat reaction to sudden loud noises or unexpected situations like my girlfriend or I changing our clothes. She is also still working on object permanence – a human being laying in a bed is fundamentally and ontologically different from that same human being walking around or sitting on the floor. And a human being sitting anywhere is an invitation to climb into a lap, which can be quite painful when the human in question is sitting on a cafe-height chair and the kitten in question has to climb the final bet because she can’t quite jump high enough to reach the lap in question in one motion.
So this experience has been absolutely wonderful so far, and we plan to keep Poe with us. We might even pick up a companion for her at some point.
Cats, I understand, do tend to accumulate.
I would say this past week was another quiet one here at the Library of Winkelman Abbey, but with a new kitten nothing is ever quiet. I did manage to get Poe to sit still long enough to enjoy Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson, the only new book to arrive in the past week.
My reading schedule is waaaaaay off for this time of year, thanks to Poe, who is distracting in the very best ways. I am reading a lot of short fiction, as I planned, and loving it! My subscriptions to Pulphouse, Amazing Stories, The Paris Review, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, etc., are finally paying off.
I have also been closely following the 2020 State of the World conversation over at The Well. Sterling, Lebkowsky and company are touching on some interesting and deeply concerning topics, as well as pointing out that the unease (to put it mildly) that Americans are feeling right now is basically how most of the rest of the world has felt for decades, and to a large extent how things have been for us for a long time, though we do tend to take pride in our ability to live in denial. Food for thought as well as loads of writing fodder.
My next literary update will likely be a little late and will certainly be loaded down with books from ConFusion 2020, which starts in FOUR DAYS!
For the past twenty years Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky have held a talk over at The Well in which they discuss the current state of the world and what that might mean for future states of the world. The talks are wide-ranging and erudite, funny and snarky and depressing and hopeful and all points in between.
This is a list of all of the talks currently available on The Well. This is as much for my own convenience as for spreading the word. If nothing else the talks are excellent sources of ideas for stories.