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Archive for the ‘Three Parts Dead’ Category

ComicCon Panel Today, Signing Tomorrow!

I’ve been an absentee blogger for the last couple weeks, I know, but it’s been for a good cause.  If all goes according to plan I’ll have an Exciting Announcement or two in a few weeks.

Today, I break radio silence because I want to fill you all in on my New York Comic Con schedule.  Read on!

Myth and Magic in the City

Today (Friday Oct. 11), 2:45PM, Room 1A17

Speakers: Anna Jarzab, Anton Strout, F. Paul Wilson, Jeff Hirsch, Max Gladstone (that’s me!), Benedict Jacka, Tonya Hurley

What’s the deal: Alternate histories, parallel worlds, mages and saints shape modern day fantasy and new legends in the making. Join Max Gladstone (Two Serpents Rise), Anna Jarzab (Tandem), Jeff Hirsch (The Eleventh Plague), Anton Strout (Stonecast), Benedict Jacka (Chosen) and Tonya Hurley (Precious Blood) as they discuss the art of writing Urban Fantasy with F. Paul Wilson (Dark City), one of the originals of the genre.

(This’ll be interesting!  Once again it looks like I’m on the borderline, with Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise both set in fantasyland circa late-millennial capitalism rather than in, say, Kansas City with fantasy elements.  Should make for a great discussion.)

Also today (Friday Oct. 11), 4PM, Autographing Table 21

Right after the UF panel, everyone runs over and signs books at Autographing Table 21!

TOMORROW (Saturday Oct. 12), 5PM, Tor Books, Booth #2223

SIGNING (AND FREE BOOKS!) With me, myself, and I.

Tor has copies of Three Parts Dead, and we should have a few early finished copies of Two Serpents Rise for giveaway.  Come by, say hello, and let me scribble on your stuff!

Okay, I need to eat breakfast and then run off to this madhouse convention, but rock on, team internet, and I’ll see you soon.

In San Diego, Cons are Conning

But up here in La Jolla, I’m sitting in a Peet’s Coffee after a hair-raising game of real life Frogger that involved me passing through a breach in a wire fence, crossing a freeway and a couple of six-lane roads in order to find a CVS and replace my long-suffering travel size can of shaving cream, which chose the worst possible moment to give up the ghost—that being halfway through a shave on the first day of Comic Con.  C’est la guerre.

After five years of living in Boston, Southern California feels increasingly weird to me.  The weather is perfect even at its most horrible, so, of course, you want to walk everywhere.  Right?  Only, good luck with that, unless of course you want to drive somewhere where you can walk.  In Somerville, errands are a great way to spend a Saturday: you walk to one square to go to the spice shop, to another square for groceries, a third square because they have a bookstore you haven’t visited in a while.  Not so, SoCal.

Then again, in late July, when Boston’s peaking in the high 90s with humidity, Los Angeles is mid-seventies, dry, and sunny.  And in February, when Boston temperature plummets down to wickedness, even if it never reaches true depths of Michigan evil—well, in Los Angeles it’s also mid-seventies, dry, and sunny.  So there’s that.

As for the con, well, I haven’t reached the floor yet, though I keep hearing joyful rumors—like that the Legend of Korra Season 2 will premier there on Friday, guys guys guys Season twooooooooooo at last it’s been so loooong.  I can give only smatterings of evidence.  In front of the Peet’s where I sit writing this, a man and two women all wearing black t-shirts and con badge necklaces are negotiating whose turn it is to drive their car.  The guy’s black t-shirt has written in red, “I (snake) COBRA” where the (snake) is the logo of COBRA, the heinously ineffectual terrorist organization from GI JOE, only with a little dimple at the top to warp is silhouette into a heart.

On our drive from the airport last night, we passed the Ghostbusters mobile, like from the movies.  A perfect reconstruction, just driving around the streets of San Diego, back brimming with movie-reconstructed props and plastic ghosts.  What do they do with that the rest of the year, my host asks.  I say, it’s probably like those 1930s trucks people drive occasionally around the waterfront in Boston—most of the year is a process of upkeep and repair, waiting for the weather to change.  And now, here, the emotional weather is right.

Paperback Writer! Also post-Readercon catchup!

Today is run-around-getting-ready-for-the-big-tour day, but I wanted to take a second first to say how great a time at Readercon.  Granted, I slunk home on Sunday after having slept only a few hours, and promptly sought out the coolest, darkest place I could find, but man was that con fun.  Times like these I wish I was more of a photo-junkie—instead I end up wishing I could describe five-hour wine-fuelled conversations about books & storytelling & general madness, the description of which, while possible, would involve me sitting here until we were both entirely confused.  One of the best parts of these cons is the ability to hang in person with folks I know primarily through the internet.  Bodies and voices are better than phosphors about 99% of the time, give or take a percentage point.

How good was this year’s con?  Well, it should tell you something that the Irish pub was closed and we still had an awesome time.

On another note, Monday afternoon I checked our mail and found the following giant package waiting:

These paperbacks look awesome, folks.  Here’s a shot of the back cover, with rocking quotes from John Crowley, Jim Morrow, io9, and Felicia Day:

This is a big milestone for me.  When I was a kid, I didn’t get hardcover books—I only had so much money from the pizza place, and one night’s check could buy me maybe three quarters of a hardcover, or three paperbacks.  This is the point at which my childhood self would have bought my book, and he, finally, feels gratified.

Also, well, there’s this:

About the Craft Sequence and the Sequel to Three Parts Dead

In the eight months since Three Parts Dead hit stores, I’ve seen a lot of people wonder if the book was part of a series.  I’ve answered this question in readings and in person, but as I was reading through some material about Two Serpents Rise, and contemplating the Three Parts Dead paperback launch this next month, I realized I’d never discussed the issue on the blog before.  So!  Here we are.

Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise (and Five Eyes Break for that matter, plus the other book of which I just finished a first draft) all take place in the same universe, on the same planet, in the same timeline.  Characters, organizations, and universal properties (like the way the Craft works, or the soulstuff economy) in one book exist in every book.  Sometimes books will have a lot to do with one another, or have a direct causal connection.  Sometimes books will share very few characters, or be connected only by more-or-less continuous spacetime.

If I do my job right, a new reader should be able to read each book on its own, but readers who have read more books will understand more about the world and the context for the actions they describe.

Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise, for example, take place in different cities at different points in time.  Two Serpents Rise (which Publishers Weekly really likes by the way, starred review, “Gladstone has outdone himself,” so that’s cool!) is set a short time before Three Parts Dead, in a city called Dresediel Lex, across the continent from Alt Coulumb.  There aren’t any characters obviously in common between the two books (though the King in Red, who killed Seril in the God Wars, is a central character in this story), but their plots are relevant to one another for reasons that will become clear in the third book and beyond.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is an obvious inspiration here.  I love the scope of the Disc, and the freedom Pratchett has within it to tell stories that mean something to him and his readers without having to squeeze characters into plots that don’t fit.  There can be more than one interesting event happening on a planet at any given moment, and these events don’t necessarily have anything to do with one another or with the same band of plucky heroes who always happen to be in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time.  I also love the feeling of writing in a shared universe, like Khazan in the old Fantasy Powers League where I used to write fic: stories sparking off in all directions, and occasionally reconnecting.  I guess you might say that I’m sharing the Craft Sequence with myself.  (Nobody ever accused writers of not being solipsists I guess.  I can only hope I’m as cool a solipsist as, Baccano! spoiler warning, Clare Stanfield.)

Currently, I’m using numbers in the titles to indicate where the books fall on the timeline relative to one another.  Two Serpents Rise is a bit before Three Parts Dead, but only a bit; Five Eyes Break (again, tentative title) is a few years after.  I’m planning to write a direct sequel to Three Parts Dead continuing the specific story of Tara and Abelard from the first book; some characters from both the first two books show up in the third.

As for overplot, arch-villains, and so forth, all I have to say is RAFO.

So that’s the major thing.  I still owe you folks detailed information about Two Serpents Rise—it’s coming, don’t worry.  I do have one question: I’ve been thinking about hosting this information, bio details on characters, and some other frequently asked questions, in its own section on the website.  What do you want to know more about?

Three Parts Dead Trade Paperback Tour!

I’ve been off-blog busy for the last couple months—finishing a first draft of another book, working on short stories, fencing in tournaments, and pondering revisions to the third book in the Craft Sequence.

I’ll be bringing you up to speed on a lot of cool new developments over the next few days, but for now, I wanted to make sure you all knew that Three Parts Dead is due out in paperback late next month, and that I’ll be touring to celebrate!  Those of you who want a hardcover, buy now; those of you who want something you can throw in a beachbag, flock to bookstores on July 23.

The paperback features a slightly redesigned cover, with an enlarged version of Chris McGrath’s amazing cover art, and new quotes on the back from the glowing io9 review (!) and Felicia Day (!!).

(Um guys Felicia Day read my book!)

So, tour?  What does that look like?  Where will I be and when?  Read on, dear reader.


San Diego Comic Con, July 19-21

I’ll rock out at San Diego Comic Con, and most likely participate in some programming, though we’re still working on final details.  More details to come on this one—we’re waiting for final info.  This is my first time to San Diego, and I have no idea what to expect beyond absurd over-the-top excess.  More details to come!

Powell’s Books, Portland OR, July 25, 7:30 PM

I’ll be reading some of Three Parts Dead, and maybe from new (as yet unreleased) material.  And answering questions.  Ask and ye shall receive.  If you dare!  Warning: answers not guaranteed to be comprehensible, or in a language hitherto known or comprehensible to humankind.  Probably will be, I just don’t want to make any promises.

University Bookstore, Seattle WA, July 26, 7 PM

More readings.  More questions.  Even less sanity!  It’s been a long time since I was last in Seattle, and I’m sort of impoverished when it comes to Seattle-themed reading material.  I guess part of Reamde’s set in the Seattle area; still, the strongest literary tie I have with the city is Terry Brooks’ A Knight of the Word, which is compelling, but probably left me with a warped image of Seattle, featuring more demon-muggings than occur in the actual city.  Dangers of urban fantasy tourism, I suppose.  Any suggestions?

Borderlands Books, San Francisco CA, July 27, 3 PM

I had a wonderful time on my last visit to Borderlands, and came away with a coffee mug and good memories.  Come for me, stay for the bookstore (which you really need to see this place to believe it, it’s so cool and pleasant and well-organized and if I lived in SF I would spend so much time and money there I probably wouldn’t have any left to spend anywhere else in San Francisco).  Or come for the bookstore and stay for me.  Works either way.

Hyde Park Books, Boise City ID, July 28, 3 PM

I’m very excited for this one—it’s the first signing I’ll give that will be attended by someone I’ve killed (in fiction, natch).  To make a long story short, one of the first novels I wrote (using 100,000 words as a cutoff here, for convenience’s sake—I wrote some stuff in the 100-page range as young as eight or so) was a giant fanfic for the Fantasy Powers League, an immense apocalyptic pastiche which doubled as a way to kill off a bunch of other people’s characters, with their consent of course.  And one of those dudes will be in the audience!  Hopefully he isn’t out for revenge.

Also, it’s likely that I’ll be doing some sort of workshop with the Boise Novel Orchard while I’m in town—again, more details as Evil Plans develop.

And that’s all I have time for this afternoon.  More details coming soon, especially about Two Serpents Rise—the next book in the Craft Sequence—and about the Craft Sequence as a whole.  Be well!

According to Wikipedia, I Exist

Just as it says on the tin.  I should not feel as excited about this as I do; after all this is the Free Encyclopedia Anyone Can Edit.  But the page has been up for a few days now and nobody’s deleted it for non-notability (though I may speak too soon!).  It’s very strange to be part of the world’s greatest linktrail where one can start reading about Chechnya and end up reading about Batman (via the Higgs Boson and Mary Kay Cosmetics).  And, for what it’s worth, I neither created the page myself, nor caused it to be created.  So that’s neat.

Also exciting: Fantasy Book Critic posted an excellent, glowing review of Three Parts Dead by Casey Blair.  It’s great in that it’s a good review, of course, but she also mentions a few aspects of Three Parts Dead of which I was particularly proud—the way that the resolution turns on (no spoilers really) confronting characters with things they believe they cannot do.  I gave a whole speech at Comic Con last year about this, and it’s really cool to see someone else pick up on it.

If you’re in or near Newburyport this Saturday, I’m on the Newburyport Literary Festival’s fantasy panel, along with the redoubtable Ethan Gilsdorf, Dr Livingston to the Geek World.  Drop by the Unitarian Universalist Church at 2:30 pm to hear us chat about all things fantasy.


Three Parts Dead Charity Auction for Con or Bust

Boston / Somerville has survived Snowmageddon 2013—six foot drifts outside my house, but a few hours of shoveling and a mug of Burdick’s hot chocolate makes everything better.  I spent as much of the weekend as possible chilling out, though we did step out yesterday evening for a performance of the ART’s excellent Glass Menagerie, on which more later.

Dinocorn holding sign that says 'Con or Bust'

Big news now, though—I want to encourage y’all to participate in February’s awesome Con or Bust auction.  Con or Bust is a non-for-profit fund that helps sponsor fans of color who wish to attend conventions but can’t for monetary reasons.  They’ve been doing great work since 2009.  Tor has donated a copy of Three Parts Dead to the auction, and I’d obviously feel tickled if it went for a good chunk of money, but the Con or Bust website (linked above) has a bunch of excellent SFF-themed auction prizes, ranging from books to crits to Ekaterina Sedia’s offer of a wardrobe consultation.

Go forth!  Support SFF community diversity!  Rock on!

Hugo Awards Season is Here, and You Can Vote!

When I was a kid, just discovering science fiction and fantasy, my uncle recommended I start with books that won the Hugo and Nebula awards, and move on from there.  I discovered some of my favorite books this way, but I always figured that the awards were voted upon by Secret Masters seated on some distant mountain.  Only last year did I learn that anyone can nominate works for the Hugos, and vote on them—well, anyone willing to spend a little money for the privilege.

Here’s how it works: each year, one science fiction convention out of all conventions in the world holds the title of “World Con.”  This year’s World Con is Lone Star Con, held in San Antonio.  Anyone who, as of January 31 2012, has a membership (basically, a ticket) to this year’s World Con, or last year’s, or next year’s, can nominate and vote.  World Cons even have a ticket you can buy if you don’t want to go to the con, and only want to nominate and vote on the Hugo Awards—it’s $60, and gives you voting / nominating rights both this year and next year.

For $60, you get to stand up and say what you think the most important works in science fiction and fantasy were last year.  Pretty wild.  And the voting pool’s actually quite small.  It’s not tiny or anything, but each vote makes a difference, and if you feel certain works or authors aren’t getting enough attention, your voice matters.

On top of that, for your $60, you generally get electronic copies of the works that end up on the final ballot.  All these authors deserve your, you know, real financial support—as far as I know being in the Hugo voting packet doesn’t garner anyone royalties or ad impressions—but voting packets are great ways of discovering new authors you can support in the future.  One of my favorite genre books of 2011 I discovered in the Nebula voter’s packet.  Pretty neat!

Here’s what you do:

1. Register for World Con before Jan 31 2012, by filling out this form.  Click “Submit.”  This will take you to a page where you can select the kind of membership you want to buy.  If you don’t plan to go to World Con this year in person, you want the “Supporting Membership ($60),” which is the last option on the next page.   Fill out the form, and click “Buy Now,” which will take you to a PayPal payment processing page.

2. Receive a Hugo Voter PIN.  World Con will send this number to you.

3. When you have received your PIN, use this electronic form to nominate works for the Hugo, and there you go!  You’ll receive more instructions from the award administrators from that point on.

But Max, what should I vote for?

If you got this far, you probably have some strong ideas of your own, and I bet you can decide for yourself.  The Hugos have categories for everything.  This website I keep linking you to has a list; some sections about which you may have opinions, depending on what you do for fun, are “Best Novel,” “Best Short Story,” “Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)” (which is to say, movie), “Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)” (probably a single episode of a television show—I don’t know how two-parters work in Hugo voting), Best Professional Artist, Best Fan Writer (very happy this category exists!), Best Fan Artist (ditto!), and so on.

This year was pretty dense with writing, and I didn’t catch up on a lot of the good new releases.  Rise of Ransom City, by Felix Gilman, came out in 2012, as did Railsea, by China Mieville, and I liked them both a great deal.  A kind of left-field idea: Madeline Miller’s novel The Song of Achilles is amazing, and while it’s shelved in the Literature section of the bookstore, it’s that rare gem, a retelling of the Illiad that actually includes, you know, gods, and goddesses, and all that fantastical stuff that’s actually in the text.  Plus, it’s beautifully written, and it’d tickle me if there was an edition of the book that had both the Orange Prize and the Hugo listed on the cover.  Take that, Artificial Genre Boundaries!

Of course, there’s plenty of television and film to nominate.  This was a good year for SF and superhero blockbusters—but please consider my impassioned plea to consider Rian Johnson’s Looper.  At least see it, if you haven’t already.  It’s a good film.

What are you eligible for, Max?

My first book, Three Parts Dead, is eligible for Best Novel, and is awesome.  I’d be pleased if you would consider nominating it.  Don’t take my word for it—ask Carrie Vaughn, or the Book Smugglers.  Also, I’m eligible for the John W. Campbell Best New Writer award this year  The Campbell isn’t a Hugo Award, but Hugo voters vote on the Campbell award at the same time as the Hugo award.  A little complicated, I know.

As for related works, my amazing cover artist, Chris McGrath, is eligible for Best Professional Artist, and my editor David Hartwell is almost certainly eligible for Best Editor.

And that’s a long post, so I’ll cut it short here. Any questions? What did you think was the best genre novel of 2012?

The Year is Dead! Long Live the Year!

One of my favorite internet-geeky traditions over the last few years has been following the Death vs. Old Year chase on Tatsuya Ishida’s Sinfest.  Considering this year’s installment just ended, I figure I’m not too late to publish my “Hello 2013” post.

First, finishing up old business: over at The Book Smugglers, Three Parts Dead made Ana’s Most Excellent Books of 2012 Top 10 list, coming in at #2!  Also, two Tor.com reviewers named Three Parts Dead one of their favorites of 2012!  Each reviewer was asked to pick only three books, which makes this extra neat.

2012 was a wild year for me, and for my family.  Huge heaping gobs of change and transformation, one of those years that makes you think Heraclitus was right.  My first book came out.  I quit my day job.  I’m an uncle, now.  My wife’s graduated from law school, and started working.  I’ve made new friends, climbed on a glacier, given a speech at Comic Con, read the Hunchback of Notre Dame in Paris, visited Napoleon’s tomb, traded jokes with guards in the Department of Justice, and improved from being a complete idiot on the fencing strip to being an almost complete idiot.  I drafted a successful Control deck for the first time.  I’ve met amazing authors, and I’ve met excellent folks over dumplings who I only later found out were amazing authors.

All in all, a great 2012.  2013 is shaping up to be less hectic, but still awesome.  For starters: in the next week or two I’m going to finish the first draft of this novel.  And then I’m going to write another one.  Because that’s how I roll.

Making Progress

Not much new to report today.  Lousy weather kept me more confined to quarters than usual.  Good writing and good coffee this morning, a slightly more strained editorial process this afternoon.

I’ve been thinking a lot about conversations with friends about narrative energy in comedy, drama, and tragedy.  There’s a theory in dramatic criticism (I don’t know whose theory this is, this is just the kind of stuff I chat about on long walks to and from the gym) that developments in plot are ‘sold’ by the expenditure of narrative energy.  The more of a stretch the plot moment might be, the more narrative energy it requires.  Narrative energy is accumulated by the storyteller’s work—describing characters preparing to do things, or resolving emotional tensions, or creating new ones.  You can see this literally in scenes where the hero has to ‘believe in herself’ to jump across a chasm, or beat up a lion, or something like that.  Flashbacks, a swell of music, a sort of recap of the narrative energy accumulated so far—and then she jumps, and (if we’re in a drama) makes it.  Or (if we’re in a comedy or tragedy) something else happens–they fall, or get hit by a whale, or whatever.

This is similar to mechanics for story-driven games, as my friend Dan pointed out.  Think about the Spirit of the Century system, where you can spend points to use a character’s aspects (basically their story-handles) against them, or to their benefit.

I don’t know how useful this stuff could be to story writing.  At worst, seems like it could reduce some sensitive story architecture stuff to blunt calculus.  On the other hand, it could give us new questions to ask as we do our work…