Not Enough

June 15th, 2016 § Comments Off on Not Enough § permalink

Content warning: Orlando.

So.  Here we are.

First, some links:

The Pulse shooting happened as we flew back into the US.  Being so far from media and friends, from the US context in that moment, seemed wrong.  Surreal.  We felt corners of the tragedy from push notifications on cell phone lock screens, from headlines glimpsed on airport CNN, from friends checked in safe on social media services we rarely use.  As the taxi drove us home, the TD Garden and the Bunker Hill Bridge were both lit up in rainbows.

I read and I read and I read.  I’m furious.  I’m sad.  I look for things to do.  Human action feels so weak—this tragedy, like the others, happens after so many have already given so much.  There is terror around its teeth.  We need Mater Misericordiae.  We need thousand-armed Guanyin.

We have ourselves.

To my friends who identify as LGBTQ+ in public or in their hearts, to those of you who aren’t my friends, to the people who will be hurt by the accident of holding some sliver of culture in common with a murderer: I’m sorry.  I see you.  I want to help, and I hesitate even to even write this, because it’s not for me to validate your struggles, your lives: they glow.  You bless yourselves.

Writing is a slow weapon.  It’s slower than bullets, than dollars.  It feels too slow.  Sometimes, it feels futile—a monk copying books by candlelight, by hand, in a Greek he can barely pronounce, while shadows crowd closer.

I want to help make this something that does not happen.

Comments off.

Craft Sequence on Sale and Other New Developments!

May 18th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The big news: it’s almost my birthday, and all the Craft Sequence Ebooks are on sale (in the US, at least—still trying to extend to international markets)! Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Full Fathom Five, and Last First Snow are all available for just under $5 each!

Here’s an Amazon link, and here’s one for Barnes & Noble!

This means that you and your friends can pick up all the gentrification conflicts, bankruptcy, zombie dragons, and lich-king utility executives you desire—for just $20.  Looking to get rid of those unsightly Jacksons in time for the fresh new Harriet Tubman green?  I’ve got you covered.  Want to convince your friends to read my books?  Check out this handy guide!

If you already have the books, may I suggest dropping a pre-order for Four Roads Cross at your local purveyor of fine books and similar?  Preorders are love, especially for a (comparatively) long-running series like this.  Pre-orders convince booksellers to order more books; bookseller orders inform how many books the publisher prints; how many books the publisher prints determines (to a certain extent) how much attention their sales and marketing people give to a particular title, and so it goes.

Changing subjects a little: we’ve had a hectic couple of weeks over here in Casa Gladstone, between pushing the Bookburners Season One collection out the door and working on New Projects, including more Witches, Monsters, and Wizard Lawyers.

Fun things are afoot on the Serial Box front: Serial Box shows are now available with a “season pass”—with one click, you can purchase the ebook and audio of every episode in a given season of Bookburners, Tremontaine, The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, or Whitehall!  We’ll have omnibus electronic editions available soon, but this way you get the text and the audio at once.  Catch up, listen along, and enjoy!  (The Witch Who Came in from the Cold just finished recently, so if you’re in the mood for a good bitter spy-fest now that the weather’s cleared up a bit, now’s the time, to quote Lucy Liu in that movie with the decapitations.)

In the mood for more fun listening?  The Skiffy and Fanty Show’s Wonder Tales episode features Amal El-Mohtar, Usman Malik, and yours truly discussing Wonder Tales, which were the theme of this year’s World Fantasy Convention.  We really got into the back-and-forth on this episode—friendly, intellectually vigorous debate!  No swords were produced, which is rare when Amal and I are involved.

Speaking of which, the Lightspeed Magazine wins the pennant for the first review of Four Roads Cross, and it’s a doozy!

If anything has thus far marked the Craft Sequence for me besides the engaging characters and infuriating intelligence of its scheme, it’s pace: Each book has had something of the relentless to it, a narrative clock ticking inexorably down while plot gears align and interlock. Four Roads Cross is no exception—it’s exhilarating, action-packed, and beautifully structured—but it also features some of the most moving and quietly heart-breaking writing I’ve seen from Gladstone yet.

Relentless, exhilerating, action-packed, heart-breaking.  Good words to hear as we bank into the next two months.  Watch the skies!

The Hack Strikes Back

May 4th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

While reading about Algeria, I discovered a great piece of history. See, the Young Algerians movement, in the early twentieth century, was (as I understand it—research ongoing!) a collection of young Algerian activists pushing for full citizenship rights for Algerians. Algeria had, at this point, been colonized by France, and native Algerians were subjected to crippling second class citizenship restrictions, oppressive and unrepresentative court systems, and systematic wealth extraction. The Young Algerians published newspapers to support their position and coordinate their activities, much as modern fans create Twitter accounts to support and coordinate our analysis of the level of emo-ness of certain Star Wars characters. (May the Fourth Be With You—knew I’d sneak it into the blog post somehow.) And one of these papers, first published in 1911, was called El Hack.

Now, El Hack was a contemporary romanization of a word that would probably be rendered Al Haqq today, meaning “The Truth,” which is a great name for a newspaper. And I’ll be the first person to admit—I’m not an etymologist. But I really, really hope that when I look into the matter, I’ll find that the colloquial English designation of journalists as “hacks” dates back to 1911.

The English “hack” means, on its face, someone who produces dull, unoriginal work, especially journalism—but for me it’s accumulated this weird noir nobility. A hack is an unshaven knight of the press, never respectable, never upstanding, often angry, always on time, but only just. A hack is desperate, a seat-of-the-pants striver—sprinting always one step ahead of the forces of power that try to quash stories, or collar the press, writing words too quickly to edit them because what matters is making that all-important press deadline. Hacks aren’t slick, they don’t know how to behave, hacks are rarely to be trusted. But hacks work. And hacks are necessary.

So it tickles me—lacking any proof whatsoever—to imagine some educated, well-traveled English speaking Young Algerian making an at-least bilingual pun here: El Hack, “The Hack,” the newspaper of eager ink-stained journalistic strivers, looked down upon by ‘polite’ ‘society,’ who will fight against corruption and drag into the light, at the very last, Al Haqq, “The Truth.”

Personal note: Hello, all! I’ve been away from the blog for a while—books and Bookburners and various other work snuck up on me, and I lacked enough energy to do even simple blog posting. I’m trying to get back on schedule, but in order to do so, I’m starting small. There will, no doubt, be future ten page monstrosity posts—but give me time.

Uncanny Story and Kit Bonesaw

April 13th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Hello, friends! I have a new story live on Uncanny Magazine: Big Thrull and the Askin’ Man, an oral history / culture hero / dangers of anthropology story.  In which there is a troll.  Named Thrull.

Everybody knows about Thrull. Thrull like legend among us folk—biggest, greenest, meanest, nastiest, and dirtiest of all—with one big difference: legends false, Thrull true. We tell the story of Thrull and the reindeer feast, and the story of Thrull and the Mountain Witches, and the story of how Thrull wrestled Winter and wed Summer on Grandmother Rock, and the story of how Thrull broke Stone Peak making love, but the best story I know, that the story of Thrull and the Askin’ Man. Now pour some hard stuff for yourself, and pour a glass for me. Set your tape deck down and listen. This tells the day Thrull got smart.

Read the rest on Uncanny Magazineor, for bonus awesome, listen to the story, on your computers or phone-adjacent devices, as read by the brilliant Heath Miller on the Uncanny Podcast!

I’m pushing toward the end of a new book, which, depending on the timing of editorial notes on the book after Four Roads Cross, I hope to finish (at least in rough first-drafty form) by late May, in time to devote a month to convention / book launch / publicity season.  In the meantime, Four Roads Cross is up for pre-order, and looks awesome.  I finished page proofs Sunday, and now we’re off to the production races!

Also, well, last week a series of Twitter jokes around an odd murder mystery title led to the creation of Kit Bonesaw, Murder Life Planner, a sort of interior designer Moriarty called in to plan and execute only the finest-grade murders.  Kit now has fan art.


Clearly a book, or at least a short story, is in order.  Initial notes involved Kit’s RISD graduate apprentice and a sort of Narbonic meets Hannibal vibe.  Scheming to continue.  I’ll keep you all appraised, don’t worry.

Well, maybe you should worry.

The Play’s the Thing, in Which I Run Around and Curse a Lot

March 30th, 2016 § 1 comment § permalink

Two weeks ago, friends and neighbors, in sunny, scenic Orlando, Florida, at the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts, a grand crime was committed against the theater.  That’s right—I acted in a play.

Two plays, in fact!  As part of ICFA’s first annual (I hope!) flash play festival, organized by Doctor (doctor doctor doctor) Carrie J Cole.  A call for play submissions went out across the land, with the stipulation that each play had to contain (1) a bag of bones, an enchanted staff, or a ray gun (choose one), and (2) the line “Relax, it’s only an eyeball.”  All five plays are up in their entirety on Bill Clemente’s blog, featuring the comic and tragic stylings of ICFA’s ThesBot brigade, including Brett Cox, Jenn Gunnels, Alayne Peterson, James Patrick Kelley, Stephanie Neely, Francis Auld, Andy Duncan, John Kessel, yours truly, and Marco “The Editor” Palmieri.  Head to Bill for video of the others—they’re all fantastic in their own way.  I’ve taken the liberty of crossposting the two plays I acted in, here.  We weren’t off-book for these or anything—we had enough rehearsal time for a cold read and some minor blocking, so things get a bit hectic.  Hectic—and PHENOMENAL.  Without further ado, I present to you: plays!

Glitch, by James Patrick Kelley, story of Frankensteins and iPhones (sort of).

ABC, by Kit Reed, in which the term “writer’s retreat” takes on a whole new meaning, and in which I get to live every writer’s dream, except for the alligator part:

Rock on, and I’ll see you all next week!

Didn’t You See Our First Movie? We Drive

March 16th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m on the road, so, only a few updates today.

First: Brian Staveley’s The Last Mortal Bond is out this week!  This is the last volume in his Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne trilogy, a huge event, sharply written, with a deeply morally satisfying conclusion.  Staveley will be drifting through Boston on his launch tour next week, and I’ll be interviewing him at Brookline Booksmith at 7:00 pm on March 24!

Second: every time I pack, especially for long conferences, I thank various Powers and Agencies that I found the following website.  If you travel a lot and like to look, well, unwrinkled on (or shortly after) arrival, give it a looksee.

Chess Thoughts. Hugo Thoughts, Too!

March 9th, 2016 § 3 comments § permalink

I’m working a bit under the weather this week, so: here’s a pretty great video which you may have seen elsewhere.  Chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley challenges a NYC chess hustler to a game, without revealing his true identity.  Got to wonder what the hustler thought about being on camera, but setting that aside, it’s a great clip and well worth your five minutes.

I first saw this video on Boingboing a while back, but when Shut Up and Sit Down reblogged it, they added this link to the actual game played, which is a whole different kind of interesting.  My last exposure to computerized chess was, god, a little over a decade now.  As you walk through the game (right and left arrows move you forward and back, respectively), note how the move list in the left sidebar indicates when each player makes a mistake—not a rules mistake, to be clear, but a tactical or strategic mistake, according to the computer’s calculation.

Also really cool: the health bar beside the board, and the graph beneath, registering the positional advantage of black and white.  You can actually see, move by move, how white loses!  It’s one thing to know, in theory, that positional chess play requires developing pieces and controlling the center of the board.  It’s another to see white take a huge dive in the graph at move 15 when they play Nh2.  This sort of thing really makes clear why people are excited about the Alpha Go result—better computer play offers human players a deeper understanding of a beloved game, and develops the art overall.

(Food for thought, though no guarantees about nutritional content of said food: to what extent is a computer capable of placing the correct moves in a Go game, or a chess game, actually performing the activity humans reflexively describe as “playing go”?  A professional chess player develops patience, mental endurance, and profound mental habits required to bend her omnivore-scavenger brain to the profoundly non-omnivore-scavenger activity of staring at a game board for several hours at a time, oblivious to any potential predators creeping up behind.  These are additional “rules” to the game as played by humans—or at least, they’re constraints to which human players are subjected.  “Learning to play chess,” for a human, is really “learning how to navigate human embodied cognition in such a way as to win a chess game.”  Is a hydraulic car-moving robot stronger than a champion weightlifter?  On paper it can move more weight.  But I suspect we use the word “strong” to mean different things in different contexts.)

(In case this isn’t clear, what I’m not doing here is attempting to qualify away AlphaGo, or computational chess playing, or hydraulic car-moving robots.  They’re all obviously accomplishing the tasks for which they were designed!  There’s no room in a checkmate for qualia.  But along the way, I think developments in artificial intelligence reveal unexamined assumptions about the nature of the tasks they’re designed to confront—they force us to ponder the context of thought.)

(I suppose I for one am supposed to welcome our new robot overlords at this stage in the conversation, aren’t I?)

Setting that aside, news!

Thanks as ever.  Also: check out today’s episode of #ColdWitch!

Magical Deliveries

March 2nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

What’s this?


What’s this!!!


There are t-shirts in the box!IMG_2800

With skulls!IMG_2804

And logos and they rock!IMG_2780Emily Ettlinger, a student at RISD, put together these amazing Craft Sequence t-shirts, complete with King in Red and Caleb t-shirt cartoon!  They are totally great and are now the officially christened Red King Consolidated official corporate volleyball team t-shirt.  I am going to wear mine until the foil comes off.  Check out her behance page!  I am full of excitement!  Also a bit terrified by the unseasonably warm weather that means I can wear t-shirts outside in, you know, February, but the fact the sky is falling shouldn’t prevent us from enjoying ourselves meanwhile.

Other news from the home front: progress on Mysterious New Book and on Bookburners Season Two continues.  I’m sketching out a couple of other really exciting projects the details of which I hope I can share soon.  February has pulled me in many directions—for the most part good ones, but it’s been harder to center the daily practice, so it’s nice to see many of the side hustles reaching a point where I can fold them into the writing schedule.

I’m also putting the finishing touches on copyedits for Four Roads Cross.  This book was so much fun to write, and I love getting the chance to work with familiar characters again.  This feels like a homecoming book to me—not the end, but a waystation.  Remember, folks: preorders are love!

Also in recent news: Nebulas! Nominees for the 2015 Nebulas hit the ‘net a little over a week ago, and the list highlights just how great a year 2015 was for SF.

I’m traveling a bit this week, so I’ll wrap this up here.  We can talk about Hugo Awards and the like next week, unless something wild seizes my attention.

Signing Tomorrow! Also, Boskone!

February 17th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Draft for Book continues apace.  I passed 60,000 words yesterday, writing a couple unexpected scenes; the notecards remain useful.  I’ve switched to drinking tea in the mornings while I write (following the coffee jumpstart), which seems to help keep energy levels high and, well, level, with less of the usual page judder, writing words and deleting them only to retype them.  It’d be interesting to watch my own writing in some sort of programmatic way to see if this was a real pattern.  I’ve considered livecasting the drafting process, but I don’t know that this would interest anyone.  (Also it might be weird on my end—I have a hard time working if I know someone’s looking over my shoulder, for example.)  Anyway, I also submitted a detailed outline to Paizo about the Pathfinder novel, which, glee!

But, all that’s beside the point of the Imminent Things!

First: tomorrow, if you’re in the Cambridge / Somerville area, come out to Pandemonium Books and Games at seven pm to watch Charles Stross, Walter John Williams, and me chat about magic and science!  Or else, like, beanbags or something!  Here’s the event link.

Second: Boskone’s this weekend!  You should drop by the Boston Waterfront Westin for any number of reasons—Boskone has great panels and a good scene generally—but here’s what I’m doing at the con.

The Other Others in Urban Fantasy

Friday 14:00 – 14:50, Burroughs (Westin)

Urban fantasy is packed with all kinds of characters, but what’s left if you remove all the vampires, zombies, and werewolves? What tropes and characters are left to explore? What new and interesting other others are on the horizon?

Melinda Snodgrass (M), Max Gladstone, Barry Goldblatt, Melanie Meadors, Mary Kay Kare

Autographing: Max Gladstone, Sarah Smith

Friday 16:00 – 16:50, Galleria-Autographing (Westin)

Max Gladstone, Sarah Smith

Dating 101 in Urban Fantasy

Saturday 11:00 – 11:50, Marina 3 (Westin)

Magic is in the air! Dating comes with its own unique sets of rules when finding love within urban fantasy novels. You never know what secrets your special someone is hiding — or what’s really so “special” about her. Our panelists share their best advice for how characters can find true love while fighting against the imminent destruction of everyone and everything they hold dear.

Darlene Marshall (M), Max Gladstone, E.J. Stevens, Charles Stross, Lauren Roy

The Grimm Future — The Anthology Group Reading

Saturday 16:00 – 16:50, Griffin (Westin)

NESFA Press presents a special reading for this year’s Boskone Book: The Grimm Future, edited by Erin Underwood. This exciting new anthology of reimagined Grimm’s fairy tales brings you 14 original short stories with a science fictional twist. The Grimm Future features cover art by Boskone 53’s Official Artist, Richard Anderson, and original stories by Guest of Honor Garth Nix as well as program participants Dana Cameron, Max Gladstone, Carlos Hernandez, John Langan, and Peadar Ó Guilín.

Erin Underwood (M), Carlos Hernandez, Max Gladstone, Peadar Ó Guilín, John Langan, Dana Cameron, Garth Nix

Steven Universe and the Cartoon Renaissance

Saturday 20:00 – 20:50, Marina 4 (Westin)

“Believe in Steven!” Cartoons are back with a bang, and the incredible Steven (a half-human, half-Gem hero) is helping save the world. Steven Universe is just one of several adult speculative cartoons that have been praised for their complex characters and rich worldbuilding. From Space Ghost to Futurama to Robot Chicken, these shows have captured our imaginations. Why do we love them so much, and what else should we be watching?

Teddy Harvia (M), Susan Jane Bigelow, Gillian Daniels, Max Gladstone, Julia Rios

Formidable Females

Sunday 11:00 – 11:50, Marina 4 (Westin)

Females were once seen as the weaker sex and assigned weaker social roles. Now, they are  taking full and equal parts, at least within fiction. From Cersei Lannister to Rey, Jessica Jones to Breq, and more, women are taking leadership roles as both protagonists and antagonists within the story. And those are just the characters! What about the writers of these fantastic women? Whom should we be reading? What’s next?

Theodora Goss (M), Max Gladstone, Peadar Ó Guilín, E.J. Stevens

American Gods: The 15th Anniversary

Sunday 14:00 – 14:50, Marina 4 (Westin)

Fifteen years after publication (and winning both Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel), Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is still worshipped by readers new and old. It’s a dark, twisty tale of traditional religious deities battling our new gods. Why does it cast such a long Shadow? Is it more likeGood Omens or The Sandman? Will the upcoming TV series be faithful to the Book?
Max Gladstone (M), Beth Meacham, Diana Thayer, Django Wexler

Events Approach!

February 3rd, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

A collection of thoughts for your pleasure:

  • This Thursday evening, if you’re in the greater Boston area, I’ll be delivering a short talk and Q&A about science fiction and fantasy at the Ames Free Library!  The event starts at 6:30; I’ll read a bit, talk a bit, and answer questions.  Come on by!
  • A couple Thursdays after that, on Feb. 18, Pandemonium Books and Games will host a three-author event in which Charles Stross, Walter Jon Williams, and I will choose champions from the audience to fight to the death with boffer swords (it’s possible to kill someone with a boffer sword, you just have to work harder), or else possibly discuss our books, fantasy, science fiction, and whatever insanity occurs to us at the moment.
  • I, the World’s Slowest Television Human, am five episodes into Jessica Jones now, and still loving it.  Specific greatnesses: how Ritter’s dialogue is beat-for-beat noir, the show’s constant and self-conscious gender-inversion of noir tropes, the soundtrack, Luke, Trish, Jessica, Tenant as a subversion and commentary on his Doctor…  Also, I like how the show abandons the easy procedural formula for a more subtle, HBO-ish “introduce specific series relevant problem-solve specific series relevant problem” structure, to preserve tone and pacing.  (Trying to feature a new case every episode would feel too tight for the noir pacing JJ wants to imitate, IMO—this was basically my only problem with Veronica Mars s1: the procedural elements frequently forced a pace too up-tempo for non-noir.  Which was fine for VM, which wanted to be a combination of noir and Nancy Drew, was fine!  But JJ wants to be a pure-play antihero noir, as far as I can tell, and it’s succeeding brilliantly.)
  • Kaitlin Tremblay’s survey of friendship in video games, and the power of lack of romance, plays into a line of thought I’ve been developing since Agent Carter blew my mind open last year, about the radical nature of friendship.  One day soon, probably after I finish a draft of this book, expect to see a long essay from me on this subject.
  • My next few months are a little wild.  I’m writing a book now; after I’m finished with a draft of this I’ll start drafting another book.  I’ll keep to my once-a-week schedule, but for the near term, expect slightly fewer four thousand word pieces of RPG neepery.  Apologies for that.  I’m fighting to restore your regularly scheduled neepery service with all due speed.
  • Speaking of which, get on board with The Witch Who Came In From The Cold.  Cassandra Rose Clarke’s written our second episode, out today—and the plot continues to thicken.  Subscribe now!