It’s getting down to the wire. That will make sense later. For now, a contemplation and a photograph.
This weekend past was Archon. Number Forty. 40. Donna and I have been attending this, our hometown con, since 1982, number six. I’ve missed a couple, I think we missed one, but by and large it has been a regular thing. In years past, some of the vitality seemed to go out of it. They had some hiccups, which are now quite obviously in the past. This one was pretty damn good. Writing and books were more evidently on the menu and the panels I attended were well attended and well received. Even the Sunday ones.
For my part, there was a pre-con event last Thursday evening at the Brentwood Recreation Center. I hope to establish this as a regular thing, a Thursday evening event with the GoH, Toastmaster, and perhaps one other writer, sponsored by Left Bank Books with the convention. This year, Ellen Datlow and Bradley Denton were our guests, along with Ann Leckie. It was a fun evening. My intention is to broaden the scope of science fiction/fantasy for a general audience, draw attention to Left Bank Books as the go-to bookstore in St. Louis for speculative fiction (as well as all the rest), and spotlight these writers and editors for people who don’t normally attend the conventions. I ferried Ellen and Brad across the river to the event and moderated the talk, which took on a life of its own.
It seems remarkable that, in hindsight, we’ve made friendships which depend on annual visits. Great people show up at these conventions and I got to see them. Lynn and Selina of Yard Dog Press, who publish my work but, more importantly, are part of the rich community I am pleased to be part of. Vic Milan, the apparently permanent M.C. for the Archon masquerade, which always produces some remarkable entrees. Mitch Bentley, artist, as well as Allison Stein, John Kaufman (who did the terrific cover for my short story collection Gravity Box), Michelle and Rich, who run the art show, which is now becoming another regular feature for me.
Connecting up with Brad was a treat. I guess I’ve known him since 1992 or so. He is a fine, fine writer, a blues musician, and one of the best people I know. He’s had a rough few years lately and I wish him all the best. I’d like to read more of his fiction. If you haven’t read Brad, do so. Find his books.
I got to meet one of my favorite actors, if but briefly. Claudia Christian, who played Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, a show Donna and I have been binging on since the unfortunate death of Jerry Doyle, who co-starred as Security Chief Michael Garibaldi.
All in all it was a good con. If I am a bit melancholy it’s only because I get to see some of these people at such long interludes and the pressure of time weighs more each year.
But. The art show. I actually sold a piece this year. This one, in fact. But I had a couple of new pieces as well. This is one, which I call Way Station.
Others may interpret it differently, but I’m sticking with the title, a reference to Clifford Simak’s terrific novel. (Another one which, if you haven’t read it, do so. Too many good things are forgotten because they get buried under the avalanche of shiny new baubles.)
I’m particularly pleased with the fantasy images I’ve been producing the last few years. I’m getting better, I think.
I don’t know when the next con I’ll attend will be. No doubt Archon 41, but other than that? It depends on much. I’ve handed in the current novel to my agent, I’m working to finish another one (possibly a YA), and I need to write some short stories, some by request. I’ll be busy this winter.
Meantime, to all my friends who I see far too seldom—be well. I’d like to see you again, sooner than later.
I have completed the current version of my new novel. Nits have been picked, threads tucked, and spells checked (I hope!) and it is off my desk.
Every time I get to this place, I crash. Yesterday I hit the couch for some of the deepest nap-time I’ve had in recent memory. When I come out of it, I look around at the ruined landscape of my environment, at all the things that have been on hold while in hot and sometimes panic-driven pursuit of the final draft, and I plan on how to put it all back into some kind of order. Cleaning. Getting reacquainted with the dog. Maybe attempt to catch up on some reading.
But that first day or so after is usually taken up by just drifting from room to room, contemplating what I am not about to do in the next hour, being lazy. Sighing a great deal. Maybe playing some music (not well) or doing some photo work.
Which I did this morning. Archon is coming up and I’ve elected to be in the art show again. I have some new images that need finishing up and prepping. I did a couple of those but mainly I played.
So until I get serious about tomorrow, here’s an image as place holder. I shot this in Kansas City recently, with my phone. Now, the pixels in the phone and the resolution leave much to be desired, but it ain’t bad, and if I work some magic in photoshop I can get some interesting stuff. For this, though, I went old school, just because I like the lines and the mood.
Now, compare that to the one below, which I shot in Dallas with my SLR.
A bit of a theme going on here? Yeah, well.
I have a ton of work to do in the coming year. Fingers crossed, you will be seeing some new short stories from me. I’ve been invited into a couple of anthologies and while in K.C. at the worldcon I got more than a few “Where’ve you been and when will you send something to me?” from some people. I know, it surprised me, too. Who knew I’ve been missed?
So, recovery for a couple of weeks–Archon in two weeks away–and the more grindstone time. My nose is diminishing even know.
At MidAmeriCon II, the good people at SciFi4Me did an interview. With me. Go fig. But, hey, thank you very much!
I hadn’t intended going to MidAmericon II, in spite of it being just on the other side of my own home state, but things change and it seems I will be there. So below is my schedule, if any of you are attending and have an inclination to come see me. I am having an autographing session, please note. My most recent book is Gravity Box a collection of short fiction of which I am very proud. Snag a copy and come by and make my day.
Without further what have you…
Friday 18:00 – 19:00, 2502B (Kansas City Convention Center)
What would life be like for those living on a Generation Spaceship? From water storage and greenhouses to dealing with the reprecussions of being always indoors, panellists will discuss the scientific, sociological and psychological aspects of building and living on a Generation Spaceship.
Gregory Benford, Ms Pat Cadigan, Jerry Pournelle, Brenda Cooper (M), Mark W. Tiedemann
Balancing the Creative Life
Saturday 15:00 – 16:00, 2503B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Finding balance is a trick nowadays. How do you keep a day job, AND read AND go to galleries AND network AND absorb enough of the world to keep your brain well fed inspired and energized enough to create? Panelists discuss what keeps them going and engaged in their work and life.
Kelly Robson, Joelle Presby, Mark W. Tiedemann, James Van Pelt (M), Deirdre Murphy
Autographing: Dana Cameron, Adam-Troy Castro, Todd McCaffrey, Alan Smale, Mark Tiedemann
Sunday 12:00 – 13:00, Autographing Space (Kansas City Convention Center)
Dana Cameron, Todd McCaffrey, Alan Smale, Mark W. Tiedemann, Adam-Troy Castro
Human Culture on Remote Space Settlements
Sunday 13:00 – 14:00, 3501F (Kansas City Convention Center)
Before modern communications, isolated communities on Earth invented new words, with vowel or consonant shifts, and new jargon. Moral standards evolved. In space colonies, departures might be greater. Human genetic engineering, for instance, could be a new art form or it is taken for granted. Or, as also has happened with some transplanted Earth cultures, might colonies become more conservative than their home worlds?
Dr. Mary A. Turzillo Ph.D., Tom Ashwell, G. David Nordley, Dr. Charles Gannon (M), Mark W. Tiedemann
I am now a contributor to Lightspeed Magazine. They bought my novella, Miller’s Wife, for one of their ebook reissues. Here is the cover of the issue:
Oh, and Miller’s Wife now has its third appearance. Originally, the story appeared in Black Gate Magazine. Currently it is also the lead story in my short story collection, Gravity Box and Other Spaces. Now this.
He was a presence in my growing understanding of the professional side of science fiction for almost 40 years. He was the first book editor whose name I knew. I collected a slew of his Timescape imprints from Pocket Books, regarding the label as a mark of excellence in a volatile field that was often untrackable in terms of what was good and what was not. Because of David G. Hartwell, a number of authors came to my attention whose work I have continued to follow to this day.
I was fortunate to know him. A little. Somehow. We crossed paths enough times to be acquaintances and he was always—always—-gracious and, more importantly, interested.
The first time I saw him was in L.A. in 1984, at L.A.Con II, in a party shortly after the news had broken that Pocket Books had pulled the plug on Timescape. Among the other problems, apparently, was the fact that David kept buying books that wouldn’t sell. By sell, I mean they would not make bestseller lists. Her had this arcane idea, apparently, that a good book ought to be published, regardless of the numbers it might (or might not) generate. Odd notion, that, in an era dominated by the quest for the next blockbuster. But David kept acquiring and championing books that did not have that kind of potential. Anyway, I saw him in a hotel corridor, his hair sprayed with red and pink highlights. (In contrast, I recall his tie was relatively tame.) We spoke briefly. I was just a fan and a wannabe writer at that time. We talked a bit about the books and publishing. A few minutes. He said, finally, “Yes, well, the books are out there now.” He had won one over the corporates. The books had been published, despite the disapproval of the suits.
We said hi to each other in Atlanta in ’86 and by then I was, with some temerity, trying to write novels. We connected again in 2000, in Chicago, where we spent a couple of hours talking at the Japanese party at worldcon. I remember that especially because it was the quietest party I’d ever attended at a worldcon—-or any con, for that matter—and David spoke knowledgeably about Japan and fandom there. In the midst of our conversation, a number of our hosts,in kimonos, stopped at the same time, producing a variety of small cameras, and snapped pictures of us, as if by pre-arrangement. By then Allen Steele had joined us, so they were getting pictures of two famous SF personalities and one semi-obscure one.
A few years later I was involved with the Missouri Center for the Book. I’d just become its president and we were trying some new events, and one idea I came up with was what I called the Genre Forums. We would do a public panel with a number of writers in a given genre, with a Q & A afterward. The first one we did was science fiction, of course, and I had Robin Bailey come in from Kansas City, Carolyn Gilman, who lived in St. Louis then, Nisi Shawl from Seattle, and myself. At the last minute, David called Robin. He had seen a notice for the event. He was coincidentally going to be in St.Louis for a family wedding that weekend and wondered if this was something he should attend. Robin called me to see if I wanted David on the panel. Rhetorical question. We had a small audience, unfortunately, because it was a first-rate panel. My partner, Donna, said it was the best panel she had ever seen, and by then we had both seen enough to judge. His presence, his knowledge, his erudition graced our discourse with a sensibility difficult to describe, but it was wonderful.
After that he began soliciting work from me. We never connected on a project, but we had several fine conversations afterward. He was, I learned, a wine lover and I was able to introduce him to one.
Of course, he’s famous for the outré ties. He possessed an antic quality that leavened his profound seriousness. He had been instrumental in many careers.
He bridged the tail end of the Golden Age and the present. Elder statesman of the field seems a bit pompous, but in many ways it was true. For a long time he ran the New York Review of Science Fiction—where I finally sold him a few things—and through that facilitated a high-minded, ongoing discussion of the workings, the objectives, the ongoing assessment of science fiction and, indeed, literature.
Here is the Locus obituary for more detail.
David took me seriously. I am glad I knew him, sorry I didn’t know him better, and feel the world has lost a gentle, intelligent, wise light.
This coming weekend is Archon 39, our local SF convention. For the last two months I’ve been rushing about, often only in my own head, to prepare. This year is special in a number of ways. Harlan Ellison is attending. Now, unless one keeps abreast of such things, that alone is no explanation for the level of anxiety I’ve been feeling about this. For one, I instigated this event, largely without intending to. For another, I’ve been involved in arranging things for him and his wife, Susan. I’ve consequently been more involved in Archon than in previous years. But today, Monday, I can honestly say I have covered as many bases as it is possible. The unforeseen is…e=unforeseeable.
That’s not the only thing going. Those of you who have been following me on Twitter will know that I have been updating my computers. That has been both less bothersome and more annoying than it ought to be, but is now largely done. (I have one more thing to get, but it will keep till later.) I’m now well into the 21st Century on that front and not a moment too soon. This morning I took care of the last bit of bother for Archon that is in my power to take care of, so I spent the last twenty minutes playing with the theme on my blog. I think I’m sticking with this one for a time. How do you like it? I feel it is a theme of great nift.
Recently, Left Bank Books hosted an event with Sammy Hagar. He has a new cookbook out (yes, that Sammy Hagar, and, yes, I said a cookbook) and we ushered through a myriad of his ecstatic fans and sold a ton of them. So for no other reason than I have it on hand, here’s a photo of Mr. Hagar.
We have all more or less recovered from the chaos and excitement of that day, which was one day in a week filled with notable events. Jonathan Franzen was also in town and we (not I) worked that event. And earlier we hosted Mr. Jeff Smith, former Missouri state senator who went to prison and has, since release, dedicated himself to prison reform. He has a new book out about it. I did work that event and must report that some of what he said, while not surprising, was nevertheless disturbing. The whole fiction of “rehabilitation” in regards to incarceration…
Well, I may have more to say on that later.
I’m unwinding as I write this, so forgive me if I wander about from topic to topic. Last night we had friends over to dinner and it was terrific. Good food, great conversation, laughing…we don’t do nearly enough of that. Partly it’s the time thing, but you know, you can lose the habit of being social, and over the last several years we’ve seen our skills erode. We may be coming out of a long hibernation, but then there is still the time thing, and I have a book to write over the next several months. (Hence the new computers.)
On that front, this Saturday past I was one of eight local authors invited to attend the Carondolet Authors’ Brunch. Strange thing that it was, it was nevertheless fun. They arranged tables and set it up like speed dating. The authors would visit each table for 15 minutes, then move to the next, and so on. I was delighted that no two tables produced the same conversation, although some variation of “where do you get your ideas” came up each time, but that was only one of two questions that I found repeated. The other was “Do you teach?”
There were a couple of household repairs I tended to this morning and now I’m procrastinating here. I should be writing something serious, profound, or at least with the potential to earn income, but I’m fooling around with my blog theme and gossiping.
…And I just realized I have one more thing to take care of for Archon.
That said, this Thursday we’re trying something at Left Bank Books that I hope will establish a tradition. We’re having three of the major guests in the store for a kind of pre-con event. Jacqueline Carey, of Kushiel’s Dart fame; Esther Friesner, of multiple fames; and Vic Milan, who has been the toastmaster at Archon’s masquerade since forever, and if you like costuming and haven’t been to an Archon masquerade, you’re missing a real treat, of which Vic is a major part. So, seven o’clock Thursday night, October 1st, be there or be a tessaract.
After Archon I intend to find a corner and melt down into it.
Until then, thanks for stopping by.
My collection, Gravity Box and Other Spaces, has received some attention since it came out last year. (Last year? Really? Yeesh!)
Two critics in particular have been kind to it. The first, from the estimable Rich Horton, who does one of the Best of the Year anthologies (and I urge you all to check it out), wrote the following in LOCUS last December:
“Mark W. Tiedemann is the author of a fine space opera trilogy, The Secantis Sequence, that deserves a wider audience, as well as of strong stories in places like SF Age and F&SF. He hasn’t been entirely silent the past several years, but he hasn’t been as much in evidence as I’d like, so it’s nice to see a new collection, Gravity Box and Other Spaces, appear featuring a few reprints (including his outstanding early story “The Playground Door”) and a number of original stories. My favorites include one fantasy and one SF story. “Preservation” is about a gamekeeper in service to a King who commands him to poach the horn of an einhyrn, reputed to determine if a woman is a virgin. The King wants to make sure his son’s intended bride is pure, but it’s soon clear that dirtier politics than that are involved – not to mention that the einhyrn are a protected species. Solid adventure, and involving characters. I liked “Forever and a Day” even more, a time dilation story about a woman in a polyamorous marriage, who turns out to be unable to tolerate new treatments conferring immortality. Her husband and wife become immortal, while she joins the crew of a starship, gaining a sort of immortality due to time dilation. A cute idea in itself, though hardly new, but the story asks effectively how any relationship can survive centuries – indeed, how one’s relationship with one’s own self can survive centuries, and whether immortality is better than the sort of continual revivification star travel might bring.”
And now this from Paul di Filippo, in the July Asimov’s:
“The title and cover image of Mark Tiedemann’s Gravity Box and Other Spaces…might lead you to believe that its table of contents hold nothing but hard SF. But instead we find a panoply of genres. The book opens strongly with a Stephen King-style contemporary bit of weirdness titled “Miller’s Wife.” A futuristic story involving robot nursemaids/surrogates of a sort, “Redaction” evokes feelings similar to viewing Spielberg’s A.I. “The Disinterred” is a strong blend of steampunk, specters, and religion, as a man goes searching for his lost wife and runs into a scientific expedition instead. And the title piece tracks the fortunes of a teenage girl who must rebel against the ignorance of her family and the laws of society to attain a future in space. Tiedemann’s range is large, his heart big, and his skills and insights deserving of your attentions.” Paul Di Filippo, July 2015 Asimov’s SF.
I’m blushing. No I’m not. Well, maybe a little. I am very grateful. For the record, these are the first reviews of one of my books I ever received from either of these publications. Just goes to show, it’s never too late to have a good start to one’s career.