Round-Up

Okay, okay, here's some stuff for you

Life has only gotten busier since my triumphant return, though I have a couple posts planned for over the next week or so. Until then, here's some stuff to keep you busy:

The true story of Isaac Asimov's hoax science paper that made him more famous among scientists at the time than his science fiction did.

Harlan Ellison and HP "Hatecraft" on Scooby Doo

Barry Malzberg on the Notes from Coode Street podcast. I will line up any time to hear Barry Malzberg speak. I think he’s one of the most fascinating and knowledgable commenters on the history of science fiction.

Richard Nash has some fascinating thoughts about the future of publishing

A review of a long-forgotten book praised by Borges and Salvador Dalí

ALL COMICS FICTION TIME!

Perhaps the finest 24-hour comic ever made ever. So good.

Comic book adaptation of "The Situation" by Jeff VanderMeer, one of his best stories

Off to Mexico

For the next two weeks I will be in Mexico. As always, if anything interesting happens to me, I will blog about it.

To keep you busy here's some stuff to read:
This is a brilliant, hilarious comic about a guy so sexually attractive he bends the universe around

Here's a comic adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's short story The Situation, one of my favorites of his work.

And a fascinating article about a short story writer, praised by Borges and many others, and now forgotten.

¡Hasta luego amigos!

Weekday Reading: 8/17/2011

Neil Gaiman talks to Grant Morrison about COMIC BOOKS naturally, and it's pretty great.

From 2004 but new to me, John Kessel's fascinating break down of the moral problems with Ender's Game and how Orson Scott Card manipulates our emotions.

Lev Grossman writes about fan fiction, and in particular Harry Potter fan fiction and the weird and wonderful little universe that has sprung up around it, with its own population and vocabulary.

And FICTION TIME

Speaking of Grossman, here's an excerpt from his new novel The Magician King which gave me chills when I heard him read it at the NYRSF Reading Series here in New York.

And Electric Velocipede has put up one of the better stories from its Logorrhea collection, "The Chiaroscurist" by Hal Duncan. I reviewed the whole collection for the New Haven review some time ago.

Sorry, not a lot of new fiction this fiction time, all my reading lately has been for the Reading the History of Popular Literature series.

Weekday Reading: Now with More Kelly Link!

Kelly Link has begun writing again!

Two new stories: Valley of the Girls

and

Swans

Go read!

Also: Brian Francis Slattery released the soundtrack album for his brilliant novel Liberation.

AND! SPEAKING OF! Have you seen the event I hosted with music by Brian at ReaderCon, where there were readings by Myke Cole, Jeffrey Ford, Scott Edelman, Theodora Goss, John Kessel and Matthew Cheney? No? Well, have a watch:

This event was part of the Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza, which is usually hosted in Brooklyn.

Memorial Weekend Mostly-Fiction Reading

My goodness, it's been a while since we put something on the site. Obviously, we've been busy little beavers out here in bloggy land.

So, to keep you all busy, here's a lot of great fiction that's been published recently for you to read for free!

The absolute best short story I've read recently is Karen Joy Fowler's "Younger Women", which is as cunning a send-up of Twilight as you're likely to find, but also a great work in its own right.

Tor.com has continued to provide some of the best short fiction on the web. One of the more memorable stories is "The Fermi Paradox is Our Business Model" by Charlie Jane Anders which is takes the old trope of humans being seeded on Earth by aliens and turns it on its head in a way that's endlessly amusing.

This past Wednesday they published another story I enjoyed a lot, "Time Considered as a Series of Thermite Burns in No Particular Order" by Damien Broderick, which is a time travel story that is less about the traveling through time and more about the toll it takes on the traveller (and, it should be noted, has a sweet ass title).

Fantasy Magazine published "Choose Your Own Adventure" by Kat Howard which takes the concept of the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story and plays with its inherent absurdities; the limitation of choices, the temptation to turn back and try a different path, the sense that the story is still guiding your actions rather despite the form's promise of interactivity.

M. John Harrison is kind of a writer's writer; he's stunningly good but doesn't seem to write with the kind of popular hooks that would turn him into a major (financial) success, and his identification with the SF ghetto probably doesn't help him get any recognition from the literati for his elegant prose, impeccable character insight and Borgesian explorations of the fantastic. Here is a short-short he wrote called "The Walls", apparently written originally to be read on stage, which encapsulates in brief form what it is that makes Harrison so good.

Relatedly, here's a paragraph from his novel Nova Swing which I transcribed on my writing blog after it took my breath away.

And now, Non-Fiction Time!

I've been saying for a while that publisher's claims that it costs as much to make an ebook as to make a print book are bullshit, and that if they want to prove it to us they should show us the numbers already. (Which they won't.) Blog Brad's Reader caught out a Simon and Shuster CEO saying that ebooks are profitable because the costs are so low. (via Teleread)

Wet Asphalt favorite Matt Cheney reviews Evaporating Genres by Gary K. Wolfe on Strange Horizons and talks about the difference between reviews and criticism w/r/t one of the leading critics reviewers of SF.

And finally, Robert Shawn talks about why he is a socialist, in one of the best defenses of the ideology you're likely to find and one that makes the more Libertarian tendencies in America look bankrupt and shallow.

And if all that STILL isn't enough for you, Richard and Wendy Pini have put EVERY ISSUE (over 6,500 pages) of their seminal fantasy comic book Elfquest online FOR FREE.

Enjoy and have a happy Memorial Day!

Weekend Reading - 12/4/2010

We begin with a very long and fascinating analysis of the colonialist tropes and building blocks of Science Fiction, especially early SF courtesy of Science Fiction Studies.

Related, China Mieville (who may be the finest fantasy writer working right now) talks about the colonialist and childish underpinnings of the man whose shadow falls over all modern fantasy, JRR Tolkein.

Jason Scott, director of long, independent documentaries about Bulletin Board Systems and Text Adventure Games discusses your Roger Corman future, where people's expectations of not having to pay for content lead to cheaply made content. (Not sure I agree with this entirely, but his analysis is interesting, as is the one documentary of his I've seen, the Text Adventure one, Get Lamp.)

An absolutely riveting BBC documentary about the history of psychology, propaganda, advertising and public relations which traces modern advertising ideas to Freudian thought as filtered through his nephew, Edward Bernays, who wanted to create a rebranded propaganda for the corporate age, and so defined our contemporary ideas of individuality and the replacement of the citizen with the consumer.

Hilarious and scathing "digested read" of Decision Points by George W. Bush

Interview with Brian Francis Slattery
An interview with Wet Asphalt favorite Brian Francis Slattery, who talks about how the shadow economies he observed in third world countries informes the shadow societies in his fiction.

And as always:
FICTION TIME

Standard Loneliness Package by Charles Yu, a wonderful short story by the author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe in which folks are hired to experience unpleasant events in place of rich people.

Detective of Dreams by Gene Wolfe, a bizarre surrealist detective story by a master writer.

James Stokoe, one of the "weird comics" creators I wrote about for comiXology released 100 pages of awesome science fiction comics online for free and you should go read them. The work is called "Murder Bullets".

And if you're looking for more short fiction, this site has links to hundreds of stories for your pleasure.

Weekend Reading - 10/24/2010

Last month I posted a link to an article by Elif Batuman lambasting writers workshops. Matt Cheney wrote an an excellent critique of that article which puts into perspective some of Elif's odd logic.

Hal Duncan has been writing some of the best literary criticism on the web, especially in terms of genre. Back in August he visited an alternate universe where combat fiction was shunted off into its own fiction of the bookstore, and titles in the genre like Catch-22 strove for respect while more mainstream fair like Samuel Delany's Dalgren became the international classics they deserved to be. Now he writes a corollary where he talks about the problems of talking about genre and mainstream awards and asks whether the people are really so hostile to genre, anyway?

Meanwhile, This Space examines the book whatever happened to Modernism and takes a close look at how the formerly radical principles of Modernism got honed into sheer convention.

On a related note, Jonathan Lethem talks about the history of the novel, and how the once undignified form rose to dominance as a symbol of class status.

Other Stuff

Alan Moore may get a film and spin-off TV series. No, really.

Argentine master Jorge Luis Borges' story "Death and the Compass" was adapted into a movie that's now available online.

Fiction magazine Black Gate has created a book trailer. It's nice to see guys like them, Electric Literature and Weird Tales branching into video to promote their stuff. (Especially considering how many fiction magazines don't do anything in the way of promotion at all.)

As reported, widely elsewhere, for a Ruby on Rails competition, a site was set up that compares ebook prices and availability between Amazon, B&N and iBooks. They tell me that they're also working on incorporating smaller stores, like Fictionwise and Weightless Books.

In ME News

The WOLD NEWTON READING EXTRAVAGANZA in Greenpoint, Brooklyn will return on November 21st with Cat Velente, the return of Brian Francis Slattery and his band, with burlesque and belly-dancing and other madness. New website coming soon, I swear.

Also, I've redesigned my personal website and I think it looks purty.

And finally, FICTION TIME!

The big news in fiction time this month is a new story by Ted Chiang available online, "The Lifecycle of Software Objects". Chiang really is one of the best short fiction writers working today, and he is not prolific, so go, read, enjoy.

Speaking of Alan Moore and Hal Duncan,

Moore has a previously unpublished story available now called "Fossil Angel", and it's Alan Moore and you should go read it.

And Hal Duncan has a new story up on Strange Horizons called "Styx Water and a Sippy Cup" that's getting good marks.

Weekday Reading - 9/28/2010

It's been a while and there's been a lot of interesting stuff out there, so let's get started:

If you haven't heard, Jeff VanderMeer is now writing the Science Fiction Chronicle column over at the New York Times. Far superior to the previous tenant.

A fascinating article on genre and Jonathan Lethem about high and low art, genre and genre exploitation.

Charles Bock ably takes about Tao Lin, a writer who's goal in life, it seems, is to figure out how to make fiction MORE boring.

Here's a comic telling of the stormy history of mega-agent Andrew Wylie, who is as hated by the publishing establishment as he is loved by the authors he secures multi-million-dollar advances for. (Apparently, when he poached Philip Roth from his agent at a party, Roth said to him, "Back up the money truck!")

Elif Batuman on why writer's workshops churn out terrible writers. (via Bookavore who sums things up nicely.)

How a Newsday columnist manufactured a bestseller by with two sex scenes per chapter to prove a point.

JA Konrath has stirred up a lot of controversy by dropping regular publishers in favor of self-publishing ebooks and making a boat load of money doing it (just passed the $100,000 mark so far, apparently). He explains his thinking in the form of a parable, which thinking reminds me a lot of Dave Sim's old arguments for self-publishing comics back in the eighties and nineties. Sources tell me that Konrath is really self-publishing because he's so difficult to work with no publisher will have him anymore. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, but am interested in any illustration of self-publishing success.

FUN STUFF

It's the HULK vs. the BUDDHA no holds barred!

The Genre Fiction Generator!

And finally...
STORY TIME!

I have been consistently impressed by the story quality over at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Here's a story called "Throwing Stones" by Mishell Baker that takes place in an odd fantasy world and grapples with gender questions in a way that reminds me of the best of Le Guin. Good stuff.

Subterranean gives us "Return" by Peter Beagle which, typically for Beagle, is a reliably fun and well-written tale that gives you basically everything you might want in a fantasy adventure story.

Until next time!

Weekend Reading - 7/23/2010

Wet Asphalt favorite Tom Bissell (author of the recent, wonderful Extra Lives) has a new article in Harpers about the Rocky Horror of our time, a film that is mesmerizingly bad. Subscription required to read it at the link, or you can just go out and buy the issue, trust me, it's well worth it.

Also not our typical link material, but this article about the man who played a perfect game of The Price is Right is fascinating and really well written, by excellent journalist Chris Jones.

A comic that gives an excellent summary of what's wrong with moon hoax theories.

It's always nice to read a new interview with Alan Moore, where he talks about comics, magic and his new project, Unearthing.

A weird, alternate reality comic called The Moon Prince is my new favorite web comic. Now if only they had an RSS feed...

And as always, FICTION TIME:

Wet Asphalt favorite Brian Francis Slattery wins the Brain Harvest Mega Challange with a story called "The World Is a Voice in My Neighbor’s Throat", which is as well-executed a short-short as you're likely to find.

The Canadian Radio series The Vanishing Point made a series of adaptations of the stories of legendary writer JG Ballard. It's JG Balllard. Go listen.

Weekday Reading - 7/7/2010

I'm off to ReaderCon tomorrow, and you can follow my time there on Twitter. To keep you busy, here's some stuff to read:

Hal Duncan writes what is probably the best meditation on The Last Airbender, whitewashing, racism and writing about the Other I've read yet and is eminently worth reading.

io9 gives us an interesting reevaluation of To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the first novel in Philip José Farmer's Riverworld series.. The series is about an impossibly long river on which every human who has ever lived wakes up.

The always interesting Matt Cheney writes about Reality Hunger, Narrative Power and the relationship of fiction, non-fiction and narrative.

Fun stuff:
This hilarious parody of old Spider-Man comics really hits the nail on the head in terms of the cognitive dissonance between different presentations of the same character, in this case Spider-Man comics and the ads for Hostess products starring Spider-Man that often appeared in those comics.

Science Time: Is the an evil, goteed version of you somewhere in the multiverse? io9 (again) crunches the numbers for us.

(No, I'm not linking to io9 just because they published me, I swear.)

Finally, Fiction Time! Audio edition: Stephen Colbert reads TC Boyle and David Rakoff reads Lydia Davis.