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Conquest Bound

I hear that everything is up to date in Kansas City, so I am heading that way to check it out for myself. Next weekend I will be Editor Guest of Honor at Conquest, KC's long-running regional con, and one of my very favorites. I went to my first KC con in 1972 (where I finally met Howard Waldrop, with whom I'd been exchanging letters since 1963), and have been coming back when I can ever since. The 1976 worldcon in KC -- MidAmericon -- still ranks as the best worldcon of all time, in my not so humble opinion. Even if I did lose two Hugos there.

So if any of you are in Kansas or Missouri or within driving distance, do come join us. You can check out the basics on the con here: http://www.conquestkc.org/

I should underline the fact that I am the Editor GOH at Conquest (Brandon Sanderson is the Author Guest of Honor). I've been editing books just as long as I've been writing them (the first book I ever published was one I'd edited, not one I'd written), and to date I've been editor or co-editor on thirty-eight anthologies, with number thirty-nine on the way. Yet this will be be the first time that any con has ever honored me for my editorial work.

Yes, I will be reading a chapter from THE WINDS OF WINTER there, and yes, I'll talk about ICE AND FIRE and my other writing... but the emphasis at Conquest will be on my editing, especially the WILD CARDS series, and one of my two scheduled autograph sessions will be limited to the anthologies I've edited. Just sayin'.

And of course, I expect to find some burnt ends as well... dragon-charred, no doubt...

The Show, the Books

I am getting a flood of emails and off-topic comments on this blog about tonight's episode of GAME OF THRONES. It's not unanticipated.

The comments... regardless of tone... have been deleted. I have been saying since season one that this is not the place to debate or discuss the TV series. Please respect that.

There are better places for such discussions: Westeros, Tower of the Hand, Watchers on the Wall, Winter Is Coming, the comments sections of the television critics who regularly follow the show: James Hibberd, Alyssa Rosenberg, Mo Ryan, James Poniewozik, and their colleagues. I am sure all those sites will be having a healthy debate.

I have a lot of fans asking me for comment.

Let me reiterate what I have said before.

How many children did Scarlett O'Hara have? Three, in the novel. One, in the movie. None, in real life: she was a fictional character, she never existed. The show is the show, the books are the books; two different tellings of the same story.

There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one. And for just as long, I have been talking about the butterfly effect. Small changes lead to larger changes lead to huge changes. HBO is more than forty hours into the impossible and demanding task of adapting my lengthy (extremely) and complex (exceedingly) novels, with their layers of plots and subplots, their twists and contradictions and unreliable narrators, viewpoint shifts and ambiguities, and a cast of characters in the hundreds.

There has seldom been any TV series as faithful to its source material, by and large (if you doubt that, talk to the Harry Dresden fans, or readers of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, or the fans of the original WALKING DEAD comic books)... but the longer the show goes on, the bigger the butterflies become. And now we have reached the point where the beat of butterfly wings is stirring up storms, like the one presently engulfing my email.

Prose and television have different strengths, different weaknesses, different requirements.

David and Dan and Bryan and HBO are trying to make the best television series that they can.

And over here I am trying to write the best novels that I can.

And yes, more and more, they differ. Two roads diverging in the dark of the woods, I suppose... but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place.

In the meantime, we hope that the readers and viewers both enjoy the journey. Or journeys, as the case may be. Sometimes butterflies grow into dragons.

((I am closing comments on this post. Take your discussions to the other sites I have mentioned. And for those who may be curious as to the road the books are taking, I direct you to the WINDS OF WINTER sample chapters on my website)).

Fury Road

FURY ROAD is doing great business at the Cocteau... and, indeed, all over Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the country. I saw it myself last night. It has got to be one of the most relentless action movies ever made, if not THE most intense. Pretty much non-stop from beginning to end.

I've often said that the climatic chase sequence at the end of THE ROAD WARRIOR was the best car chase scene ever put on film (it's what DAMNATION ALLEY should have been, as I once told Roger Zelazny -- who agreed). Well, FURY ROAD is the ROAR WARRIOR chase sequence with the dial turned up... not just to 11, but to 47 or some such.

Truth be told, I sometimes get bored during car chases. Not this one. It has a human context that gives it a power lacking in FAST & FURIOUS and TRANSFORMERS movies.

So, yes, I liked this one. A lot.

One thing I did miss, however. THE ROAD WARRIOR (a great film) and BEYOND THUNDERDOME (a good film with flaws) both ended with wonderful, moving, elegiac voice overs. The one from THUNDERDOME always brings a tear to my eye.



FURY ROAD has no similar elegy at the end. I missed that... the poetry of it, and the sense of triumph and tragedy that it left me with, a feeling that elevated the movie into myth.

Even so, it's a helluva movie.

See it at the Cocteau, if you can. (We'll be showing it for two more weeks, at least). But see it somewhere, regardless.

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Mad Max in Santa Fe!

Mad Max is coming to Santa Fe this weekend.

The long awaited fourth movie, MAD MAX:FURY ROAD, opens this weekend in hundreds of theatres acrpss the nation. One of them is our own Jean Cocteau Cinema.



Most places will open the film on Friday, but we're getting a jump of them with two Thursday night sneaks, one at 7:30 and one at 10:00 pm. As an extra added attraction, we will have Max's car, the last of the V8 Interceptors, on hand outside the Cocteau THURSDAY and FRIDAY only.





Max himself may also be on hand, along with his old buddy the Gyro Captain (who isn't in the new movie, I realize, but what the hell, he's my favorite character).

You can buy advance tickets on line at the Cocteau website: http://www.jeancocteaucinema.com/buy-tickets/

And with every advance ticket, you get a FREE POPCORN!

We have the best popcorn in town, by the way. Organic, popped in sunflower oil, real melted butter, and a cool assortment of free toppings, salty, savory, spicy, and sweet.

So come see Max at the Jean Cocteau. I'll see you there.

STATION ELEVEN Wins Clarke Award

Just read on LOCUS that STATION ELEVEN won this year's Clarke Award:

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2015/05/station-eleven-wins-clarke-award/

Congratulations to Emily St. John Mandel, and thumbs up to this year's Clarke judges. In my not-so-humble-opinion, they got it right.

(That is not always the case. The Clarke Award is juried, and like all juried awards, can sometimes go very wrong, depending on the jury. I have served on an awards jury or two in my time, so I know).

I note that the Clarke prize is two thousand pounds sterling and an engraved bookend. Cool. Money is the best prize at certain points in a writer's career. And engraved bookends are always welcome. Who doesn't need a cool bookend?

I must admit, I am partial to awards that come with cool trophies. I mean, the honor is great and all, but a plaque is a plaque is a plaque and a certificate-suitable-for-framing is a piece of paper, really. SF and fantasy have been uniquely blessed with some nifty awards. The Hugo rocket is, of course, iconic, and still number one for me... at least in the years when the worldcon doesn't go overboard with the base. (We have had some VERY ugly-ass bases, huge ones that overwhelm the rocket, but also some great ones). Some people prefer the Nebula, and the early Nebulas with the quartz crystals were really striking, but in more recent decades they have been more hit-and-miss. I also love HWA award, the Tim Kirk haunted house, and of course the wonderfully ghastly head of H.P. Lovecraft (by the wonderfully ghastly Gahan Wilson) that is the World Fantasy Award. (I have one of the former, and three of the latter).

With so many talented artists and sculptors in the world right now, there's really no reason to give certificates suitable for framing any more. Give cool trophies instead!

Or big bags o' money. That will do too, I guess.

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Sasquan Opens Hugo Voting

For those who are already members of worldcon, Sasquan has opened Hugo voting. With the electronic ballot, you can go and post some preferences and votes now, then return a day later, or a week later, or a month later, and change them, or add some more rankings. Your vote does not get counted until balloting closes.

The ballot is here: http://sasquan.org/hugo-awards/voting/

If you have not voted the Hugo Awards before, please note that it is an "Australian ballot," a preferential system whereby one ranks the nominees. You don't just vote for one. You can rank NO AWARD as if it were any other finalist; ahead of some nominees, behind others.

(Which is the way I believe one should use NO AWARD. As I have stated previously, I am opposed to the nuclear option of just blindly voting NO AWARD in every category).

Of course, you need to member to vote. Supporting Memberships will cost you $40. You can sign up to buy one at https://sasquan.swoc.us/sasquan/reg.php

In addition to voting privileges, a Supporting Membership will get you the convention's program book (usually a handsome item, though it varies from year to year) and other publications.

LOCUS Nominations Announced

LOCUS has just released its list of finalists for this year's Locus Awards. I am pleased and proud that ROGUES, last year's big crossgenre anthology from Gardner Dozois and yours truly, earned a nomination for Best Original Anthology.

In addition, three of the stories in the ROGUES have also been nominated in their respective categories: "The Lightning Tree" by Patrick Rothfuss in Novella, and Joe Abercrombie's "Tough Times All Over" and Scott Lynch's "A Year and a Day in old Theradane" in Novelette.

You can find the complete list of finalists here:

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2015/05/2015-locus-awards-finalists/

While this year, admittedly, may be different due to the influence of the slate campaigns, over most of the past couple of decades the Locus Poll has traditionally had significantly more participants than the Hugo nomination process. Looking over the Locus list, one cannot help but think that this is probably what the Hugo ballot would have looked like, if the Puppies had not decided to game the system this year.

Is it a better list or a worse one? Opinions may differ. The proof is in the reading.

In any case, congratulations to Scott, Patrick, and Joe, and thanks to everyone who nominated their stories, and ROGUES. We're glad you liked the book. Gardner and I loved doing it.

OLD VENUS Audio

Any audiobook fans out there?

Somehow, with Puppygate and the Cocteau and travel and cons WILD CARDS and (yes!!!) working on WINDS, I neglected to mention the OLD VENUS audiobook, which came out a few months ago.

So I am mentioning it now. We have a really astonishing line-up of readers on this one. Take a look for yourself:

Gardner Dozois Introduction & Author Bios SCOTT BRICK
Joe Haldeman “Living Hell” W. MORGAN SHEPARD
Garth Nix “By Frogsled and Lizardback…” HARRY LLOYD
Michael Cassutt “The Sunset of Time” MATT FREWER
Allen Steele “Frogheads” JAKE WEBER
David Brin “The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss ” WIL WHEATON
Matthew Hughes “Greeves and the Evening Star” STEPHEN FRY
Tobias Buckell “Pale Blue Memories” PRENTICE ONAYEMI
Lavie Tidhar “The Drowned Celestial” ROY DOTRICE
Joe R. Lansdale “The Wizard of the Trees” MICHAEL DORN
Ian McDonald “Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts..." DAME DIANA RIGG
Eleanor Arnason “Ruins” MANDY WILLIAMS
Paul McAuley “The Planet of Fear” TISHA DONNELLY
Elizabeth Bear “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” JANIS IAN
Gwyneth Jones “A Planet Called Desire” JAKE STORMOEN
Stephen Leigh “Bones of Air, Bones of Stone” GETHIN ANTHONY
Mike Resnick “The Godstone of Venus” RON DONACHIE



Happy listening.

Reading for Hugos

In my copious spare time (hoo-hah), I am continuing to work my way through the ballot for this years's Hugo Awards.

Just finished THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM, by Cixin Liu, originally written in Chinese and translated by Ken Liu. This was the novel that just missed in the original round of nominations, only to secure a place on the ballot when Marko Kloos withdrew. In a half-century of Hugo Awards, there have been very few non-English originals ever nominated, and certainly never one from China, so THREE-BODY is a breakthrough book in that respect, and a sign that "worldcon" is (very slowly) becoming more global.

This is a very unusual book, a unique blend of scientific and philosophical speculation, politics and history, conspiracy theory and cosmology, where kings and emperors from both western and Chinese history mingle in a dreamlike game world, while cops and physicists deal with global conspiracies, murders, and alien invasions in the real world.

It's a worthy nominee.

If you like lots of science in your SF, this is a book for you, especially if you love theoretical physics, astrophysics, and mathemathics. The Chinese background is fascinating, especially the look at the Cultural Revolution and its aftereffects. And the prose is very clean and tight, which is not always the case with translations, which sometimes come across as a bit clunky. Ken Liu did a fine job, in that respect; the writing flows.

The central character at the heart of the novel is a fascinating and complex creation, but she is not the protagonist for most of the book, and the character who does fill that role comes across as very flat, more a viewpoint than a person. One of the secondary players, an abrasive cop, is much more successful; he's a bit of an asshole, but the story really comes to life whenever he's on stage.

All in all, I liked THREE-BODY PROBLEM, but I can't say I loved it. I thought the book started off very strong, but sagged in the middle before picking up speed again toward the end. And the ultimate ending was unsatisfying... mainly because, as I now see, this is just the first of three. I DO want to know what happens next, though. So I will be reading the next.

Now that THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM is on the ballot, I'd say that it is the likely favorite to win (and I am pretty sure it is about to pick up the Nebula as well). It seems to have admirers on both sides of Puppygate, which will stand it in good stead, and it should do very well with hard science fans and the ANALOG readers.

I am not going to reveal which book is going to get my own Hugo vote... only which ones I think are Hugo-worthy, and deserving of a spot above NO AWARD. So far, both THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM and THE GOBLIN EMPEROR rank above the line for me.

The other nominees still await my attention.

Anyone else read the Cixin Liu yet? What did you think of it?

Talking about books, after all, is what these awards are supposed to be about.

Draft Days

It's draft weekend for the National Football League, so of course I have been glued to my television set. This year, for the first time in decades, they are holding the draft in Chicago instead of NYC, and it looks as though the whole city has gone crazy. Nothing can compare with the pulse-pounding excitement of a name being read out every ten minutes (five in later rounds).

Anyway, looks to me as if the Jets and Giants are both doing very well this year.

The Jets probably better. DT Leonard Williams, supposedly "the best player in the draft," fell all the way to Gang Green at pick #6, which should give us the best D-line in the NFL. And in the fourth round, the Jets finally found our Quarterback of the Future in Bryce Petty (who may well become the Quarterback of the Present if Geno Smith does not start playing better real soon).

But I liked the Giants' picks too. They picked up a promising pass rusher whose name I will never be able to pronounce, and made an aggressive trade to go up and get one of the top safeties in the draft... a definite need, given how many big plays the secondary gave up last year.

Round six is now in progress, and seven coming up. With luck, both of my teams will find a few diamonds in the rough with those late picks.

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