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A Few Quick Thoughts

I am off to Baltimore tomorrow for Balticon 50, which promises to be a real blast. In honor of half a century of great cons, the fans of Baltimore are bringing in lots and lots of their past GOHs, along with me, their current GOH, so we should have an amazing crowd on hand. Connie Willis, Joe Haldeman, John Varley... oh, the list goes on and on. Go to the Balticon website and see for your own self. And then come to the con. Panels, readings, parties... and there will be CRABS.



On other fronts... we had an amazing time at the Jean Cocteau last night, when a sellout crowd assembled to hear Joe Hill. Joe gave a dynamite reading from his new novel THE FIREMAN, led the audience in a kazoo concert, told us about all his forthcoming television and film projects, and signed stacks and stacks of books. Most of which were promptly carried off by his eager fans. But we did lay in extra supplies, so if you're looking for autographed copies of THE FIREMAN, or HEART-SHAPED BOX, or LOCKE & KEY, or any of Joe's stuff, it's available -- while the supply lasts -- from the Jean Cocteau Bookshop at http://www.jeancocteaubooks.com/ -- along with signed books from Neil Gaiman, Stephen Graham Jones, Diana Gabaldon, Joe Lansdale, and many many more.

Heated discussions continue about this year's Hugo ballot, and the various proposals being brought forth to reform the voting procedures to defend the integrity of the award against future attacks by Rabid Puppies and other varieties of fuggheads. Some of the proposals are worth considering. I have severe doubts about others. But I don't have time to get into all of that now, so it will have to wait until I return.

Meanwhile, I am doing my Hugo reading, and I urge all of you who are members of Big MAC II to do the same. Read, consider, vote.

And if you're not yet a member of Big MAC II... well, if there's any chance at all that you can get to KC this August, you ought to join and attend. There's nothing like a worldcon. And the original Big MAC in 1976 was, in my not-so-humble-opinion, the best worldcon that I've ever had the pleasure of attending, so I have high hopes for this year's. The KC fans know how to party. And while they cannot match Baltimore for crabs, they do have BARBEQUE!

(I will keep comments open on this one only through tomorrow morning. I expect to be away from my computer while traveling, and don't want hundreds of screened comments awaiting my return).

Jean Cocteau Presents: Joe Hill #GRRMinion

Oh no, it's another Ogre Jenni post about an upcoming event at the Jean Cocteau in Santa Fe! Sadly, I'm still not George R.R. Martin, and he won't give me enough of his blood or hair to complete the ritual.  :-(

On Monday, May 23rd New York Times best-selling author Joe Hill will join us at Jean Cocteau Cinema to celebrate his latest novel, The Fireman. We will have an awesome drink special designed for the event—garnished with FIRE! Learn a little bit more about the event here.



ABOUT JOE HILL:

Joe Hill is the author of four novels, Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, NOS4A2, and The Fireman, as well as a prize-winning collection of stories, 20th Century Ghosts. He also wrote a pair of comics: Locke & Key and Wraith (which ties into the world of NOS4A2). Some nice people gave him an Eisner Award for his work in funny books, which is a great honor, even if “funny” probably doesn’t do a good job of describing the kinds of things that happen in the comics. Come to think of it, his comics aren’t very comic either.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman. The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.



-THIS MESSAGE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MINIONS OF FEVRE RIVER-

Good Stuff

I used to have a couple pages on my website called "What I'm Watching" and "What I'm Reading." They're still there, actually, but they're years out of date. I just don't have the time to keep them up any longer, with all the other things on my plate.

But that doesn't mean I have stopped watching movies or television, or that I don't read. I still read voraciously, watch lots of television, and go to a movie a week, on the average. So I thought I'd say a few very brief words about stuff I've enjoyed recently.

Most of the films I see are the ones I'm playing at my own theatre, the Jean Cocteau... but not all. A few days ago, Parris and I caught the new JUNGLE BOOK at the Violet Crown down the street from the JCC, and I loved loved loved it. A magnificent production. Supposedly it's a remake of the old Disney cartoon version, but it's about ten thousand times better for hardcore Kipling fans like yours truly (Kiplers?) Not completely faithful to the books, which I count as an enduring masterpiece, but it certainly captures much of their flavor, which the cartoon did not. Gorgeous to look at (CGI has come a long way), genuinely exciting... Shere Khan is scary. My only quibble is Baloo. Much as I love Bill Murray, and I do love Bill Murray, I wanted a lot more of Kipling's Baloo. Murray's version is so very Bill Murray he could have wandered into the jungle straight from GHOSTBUSTERS. That's minor, though; the other voice actors did a marvelous job of becoming their animals, and the kid playing Mowgli (who has gotten some mixed reviews) struck me as charming and unaffected, a natural and believable performance. If you like Kipling, see this one. If you like good movies, ditto. (I wonder if talking animals make this fantasy enough to be eligible for a Hugo next year? I'd certainly be willing to nominate it).

Meanwhile, on television... this really IS the Golden Age of television, so much good stuff to watch. It's hard to keep up. Parris and I are going to miss THE GOOD WIFE, but we've been enjoying the hell out of BETTER CALL SAUL and COLONY, and the new season of PENNY DREADFUL has been fun so far as well. The show that's really knocking our (argyle) socks off, however, is the second season of OUTLANDER. Diana Gabaldon should be thrilled; they are really doing her books proud. This year the action moved to France, and the costumes, sets, and cinematography have all been fabulous. As have the performances. Both of the leads are terrific, and Tobias Menzies (who also appears in GAME OF THRONES from time to time) is sensational in his double role. They should nominate the guy for an Emmy twice, once for each character. OUTLANDER is one of the best shows on television, a wonderful blend of historical drama, science fiction, fantasy, and romance.

Books? Well, if you haven't yet grabbed a copy of Joe Hill's THE FIREMAN, you need to. Original and gripping, a page-turner... and I am looking forward to meeting Joe in person when he visits the Jean Cocteau on Monday for a reading and signing (tickets going fast! get yours now). I've also really enjoyed a non-fiction title from a couple of years ago called THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL, by Daniel Stashower, which is simultaneously a bio of Edgar Allan Poe and a "true crime" account of a sensational NYC murder case that inspired him to write "The Mystery of Marie Roget." Call this one history or biography if you must, but it reads like a novel... and I especially loved the stuff about the New York City press, one of my obsessions.

Oh, and while the stack of ARCs and bound galleys and new books by my bedside waiting to be read is taller than I am, I'm especially excited by a couple of recent arrivals. HIGH GROUND, the first volume of Melinda Snodgrass's new space opera series, is here, and I can't wait to get into it... especially since one of her villains, BoHo, is actually my creation (he is not really villainous, he's just misunderstood) from the days when Snod and I were making up characters for a new shared world series that never took off. ((Think of BoHo as the Flashman of Space; I loved George McDonald Fraser almost as much as I love Kipling)).

Also on hand is David Anthony Durham's new historical novel, THE RISEN, his take on Spartacus. DAD never disappoints, and Spartacus is another fascination of mine... I look forward to seeing how Durham's take on him differs from Howard Fast's and Colleen McCullough's.

Also just in is Lisa Tuttle's THE SOMNAMUBIST AND THE PYSCHIC THIEF, featuring Miss Lane and Jasper Jesperson, the Victorian-era detectives she first introduced in her stories for DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS and ROGUES. Those were hugely entertaining stories, and I am eager to see what Lisa does with the characters at novel length. Fans of Sherlock Holmes should love this.

So... lots of good stuff.

Life is too short. So little time, so many books and movies and television shows.

All the King's Horses...

Last year at Sasquan the worldcon business meeting passed two proposals to change the voting procedures for the Hugo Awards, to deal with the problems posed by slating. WSFS rules require that a change be passed by two successive worldcons before it takes effect, however, so both 4/6 and EPH will be up again for vote at MidAmericon II in August.

The 4/6 proposal is pretty straightforward. At present there are five finalists in each category, and each voter gets to nominate five choices for those five slots. 4/6 would increase the number of finalists to six, and simultaneously decrease the number of nominations allowed each voter to four. The theory being that a slate voting lockstep might take four slots, but not the whole category.

EPH, which stands for E Pluribus Hugo, is considerably more complicated, and I will not attempt to describe it here. It was designed by mathematicians and voting theorists, and will supposedly prevent a small disciplined minority from taking all the slots on the ballot. There's been plenty of discussion and debate about EPH all over the internet.

Most recently, the designers of EPH have done a test run to see what impact the system would have had on the latest ballot. The results, and a spirited discussion of same, can be found over on Mike Glyer's FILE 770, here: http://file770.com/?p=28946#comments

((For those of an academic and mathematical bent, the hard crunchy bits are here: https://www.schneier.com/academic/paperfiles/Proportional_Voting_System.pdf ))

From where I sit, the EPH results are not very encouraging.

Over the past few months, I've read countless variations of the statement that goes, "well, this is the last year we will have a problem, come summer we'll pass EPH and all will be fine." I had my doubts about that every time I heard it, and this new report just confirms them. We may indeed pass EPH, and it may help... a little... but all will not be fine.

We may pass 4/6 too, and that could also help... slightly... but it's easily thwarted, if you have hundreds of followers who will do exactly as you tell them, and the Rabids seem to have just that.

If EPH and 4/6, or both, are passed at MidAmericon II, and work more-or-less as advertised, the slates will no longer be able to completely dominate entire categories by taking all five slots. The reforms should ensure that there are at least one or two legitimate nominees in every category. Which is better, certainly, than what has happened to Best Related Work the past two ballots, say. But it is still far from ideal. Future ballots will instead look more like last year's Best Novelette, Best Professional Artist, and Best Fan Writer shortlists, or this year's Best Fan Artist, all of which featured one legit choice and four slate candidates. Maybe we'd see some improvement in some categories, and have two finalists to choose between.

Better than what we have now? Sure. But comparable to being able to choose among five strong candidates to decide which one was the very best of the year? Not even close.

I can hear the proponents of EPH and 4/6 saying their reforms were never meant to be a cure all. Yes, I know that, I never believed otherwise, and I applaud your efforts to help. I just wish these reforms helped more. Neither EPH nor 4/6 is going to prevent us from having VD on the Best Editor shortlist from now until the heat death of the universe.

And I also know that there are now other proposals out there, proposals that call for three-stage voting, for negative votes and blackballing, for juries. Some of these cures, I fear, might be even worse than the disease. We have plenty of juried awards; we don't need another. Three-stage voting, with fifteen semi-finalists that get boiled down to five finalists and one winner? Maybe, but that considerably increases the workload of the Hugo administrators, whose job is hard enough already... and I fear it would actually ratchet up campaigning, as friends and fans of those on the List of Fifteen rallied around their favorites to get them on the List of Five. And a blackball round, voting things off the ballot? Is that really a can of worms we want to open, in this present climate? That would dial the ugliness up to eleven, I fear... or higher.

Sadly, I don't think there is an answer here. No magic bullet is going to fix this. And I fear that the people saying, "pretty soon the assholes will get bored and go away," are being hopelessly naive. The assholes are having far too much fun.

A year ago April, when Sasquan announced the ballot, I wrote the Hugo Awards had been broken, and might never be fixed. A lot has happened since that time, and from time to time I've allowed myself to think that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that this too would pass. Now I am starting to fear that my first reaction was the correct one.

The Hugo Awards have always been an occasion for joy, for celebrating excellence and recognizing the best among us. That's what we need to get back to. But I don't see how.

Nebula Winners Announced

The winners of the SFWA's annual Nebula Awards for the best science fiction and fantasy of 2016 have been announced at the Nebula banquet in Chicago.

(No, I'm not there. Wish I was. Sounds like a good time was had by all).

LOCUS has the story, as always:

http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/05/10777/

Congratulations to all the winners... and to the runners-up and losers as well. As with the Hugo Awards, it is a proud and noble thing to lose a Nebula. (Lost a bunch myself).

Something Old, Something New

There's some crazy people out on the edge of the galaxy. Their names are Mike Resnick and Shahid Mahmud. At a time when all of the storied old magazines of our genre are struggling to survive, in the face of rising costs and declining circulations, they went and started a new one, and called it GALAXY'S EDGE.

I love the magazines... it's where I started, after all... so I'm thrilled to see a new addition to the field. Especially one like GALAXY'S EDGE, where editor Mike Resnick is making a point of featuring new writers. But every magazine needs a few established names on the cover, which is where I come in... the established name on their latest (May) issue is mine. The issue features a reprint of one of my old SF stories, "Fast-Friend," plus a new interview with me.



GALAXY'S EDGE will have a table at Balticon at the end of the month, and I'll be signing 200 copies of the issue for sale at the con.

For those who cannot make it to Baltimore, home of the ravens and the crabs, you can get a copy direct from the website at www.galaxysedge.com/ -- but maybe not a signed one, alas.

A Taste of This, A Taste of That

Some of you may not realize that, in addition to my Not A Blog, I also have an actual homepage / website. You can find it here: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/ Check it out, if you have not visited before. There's lots and lots of content there, all sorts of things to explore.

I must confess, though, I don't update it as often as I should. What can I say? I'm busy.

But today we uploaded a couple of new items that some of you may be interested in: new samples from two forthcoming books.

For all the Wild Cards fans out there, we've got a taste of HIGH STAKES, due out this August. HIGH STAKES is the twenty-third volume in the overall series, and the third and concluding part of the 'Fort Freak' triad. The sample is from the pen of the talented Ian Tregillis, and features Mollie Steunenberg, aka Tesseract. You'll find it at: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/wild-cards-excerpt/

((Readers with weak stomachs be warned, HIGH STAKES is our Lovecraftian horror book, and things do get graphic and bloody and... well... horrible. Althought not so much in the sample)).

And... because I know how much bitching I'd get if I offered a new sample from Wild Cards without also doing one from A SONG OF ICE & FIRE... we've also changed the WINDS OF WINTER sample on my wesbite, replacing the Alayne chapter that's been there for the past year with one featuring Arianne Martell. (Some of you may have heard me read this one at cons).

Have a read at: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/excerpt-from-the-winds-of-winter/

You want to know what the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Ellaria Sand, Darkstar, and the rest will be up to in WINDS OF WINTER? Quite a lot, actually. The sample will give you a taste. For the rest, you will need to wait.

And no, just to spike any bullshit rumors, changing the sample chapter does NOT mean I am done. See the icon up above? Monkey is still on my back... but he's growing, he is, and one day...

Jean Cocteau Book Sale! #GRRMinion

Jenni the Ogre here! I work for Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, and we are having another book sale. All of our books are by authors who have visited the Cocteau, and they are all signed. The following signed books are 50% off. Get 'em while they're hot!




Mary Robinette Kowal's Of Noble Family: NOW $14.00




Jane and Vincent have finally gotten some much-needed rest after their adventures in Italy when Vincent receives word that his estranged father has passed away on one of his properties in the West Indies. His brother, who manages the estate, is overwhelmed, and no one else in his family can go. Grudgingly, out of filial duty the couple decide to go. Read more!

Stuart Woods' Hot Pursuit: NOW $14.00

Stone Barrington is back in the exciting new adventure from perennial fan favorite Stuart Woods. It’s not often that Stone Barrington finds a woman as accustomed to the jet-set lifestyle as he, so he’s pleasantly surprised when he meets a gorgeous pilot who’s soon moving to New York, and available for closer acquaintance. Their travels together lead them from Wichita to Europe, but trailing them is some unwanted baggage: his new lady love’s unstable, criminal ex-boyfriend. Read more!

Jane Lindskold's Artemis Awakening: NOW $12.50



Artemis Awakening is the start of a new series by New York Times bestseller Jane Lindskold. The distant world Artemis is a pleasure planet created out of bare rock by a technologically advanced human empire that provided its richest citizens with a veritable Eden to play in. All tech was concealed and the animals (and the humans brought to live there) were bioengineered to help the guests enjoy their stay…but there was always the possibility of danger so that visitors could brag that they had "bested" the environment. Read more!

See you at the Cocteau!

—THIS MESSAGE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MINIONS OF FEVRE RIVER—

Not Me

I see from the internet that I made a hilarious tweet on Mother's Day, trolling my readers.

It's good to know that I'm so funny. Except...
(1) I don't troll my readers, and,
(2) I don't do Twitter (my minions tweet echoes of what I post here),
(3) it wasn't me.

Sorry.

But really boys and girls, don't believe everything you read on the internet.

PS from the MINIONS: #GRRMinion is what you'll see when its one of us on Social Media or here on Live Journal, and ONLY @GRRMspeaking Tweets are from the Fevre River office. Thanks from the Minions-

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Cool Stuff at the JCC

We had a great author event last night at the Jean Cocteau Cinema, when Stephen Graham Jones dropped by to read to us from his new werewolf novel MONGRELS. Who knew the danger posed to werewolves by french fries and pantyhose? I certainly didn't. We made Stephen sign a large stock of MONGRELS hardcovers before let him leave, so if you'd like to check it out, autographed copies will be available from the Cocteau bookstore. http://www.jeancocteaubooks.com/ ((Signed copies of Ernie Cline's ARMADA and lots of cool titles from Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, Joe Lansdale, yours truly, and lots of other great authors are still available as well)).



Next up: JOE HILL. You will be here on Monday, May 23, to sign copies of his new novel THE FIREMAN. And we'll have the usual interview and Q&A as well. Reserve your seats now from the JCC website; we're expecting a sellout.

Meanwhile, we have some terrific movies showing. On Friday we opened THE MERMAID, a blockbuster out of China; highest-grossing film in the history of Chinese cinema.



And next Friday, we're very excited to be opening HIGH RISE, based on the novel by J.G. Ballard. Ballard, as every SF fans knows, was one of the giants of the British "New Wave" in science fiction, the author of such classics as THE DROWNED WORLD, THE CRYSTAL WORLD, "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan," CRASH, VERMILLION SANDS, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, and "The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered As a Downhill Motor Race." HIGH RISE is one of his major works, an important (and disturbing) novel, and we're all excited to see the film.



See you at the movies!

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