Books, and What Could Have Been

A small but distinguished selection of reading material appeared at Winkelman Abbey this past week. From left, we have Cursed and Skull & Pestle, two anthologies from World Weaver Press. Third is the inaugural issue (!!!) of DreamForge Magazine. And finally, and most eagerly awaited, Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines.

A year ago this month I spent most of my free time putting together a story for Skull & Pestle. I completed about 90% of a first draft but realized that I would need to either burn a week of vacation days or break up with my girlfriend in order to complete and edit the story in time for the deadline. Therefore I shelved it. The story is good, I think, involving a colony of Old Believers, teen angst and bullying, the Midwest, and of course Baba Yaga. I may complete it at some point and see if there is still need for such stories.

But hey! Even if I didn’t submit my story to this anthology I still get to read the anthology, and that is a very good thing. And World Weaver Press consistently produces some top-quality anthologies.

In reading news, I finished The Blood-Tainted Winter by TL Greylock, and moved on to Death March by Phil Tucker. This was a much faster read and I had more time available for reading, so I completed it Friday night. Last night I started The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark. 25 pages in, and I am completely hooked! Of course it is a short novella so I will probably finish tonight or tomorrow. Then likely on to Terminal Uprising, though The Nine by Tracy Townsend is suddenly looming large in my attention, due it being discussed in the most recent episode (14.7, “How Weird is Too Weird?”) of the Writing Excuses podcast.

Currently goals: Structuring life so I have time to both read well and write well.

Hot Books for Cold Days

Only a few additions this week, but what they lack in quantity they more than make up in quality. First is The Hole by Damian Duffy and John Jennings, a graphic novel delivered from Rosarium Publishing, which arrived as part of the Sunspot Jungle Kickstarter reward. Next to it is Lord by João Gilberto Noll, the latest from my subscription to the catalog of Two Lines Press (part of the Center for the Art of Translation). In the bottom row we have A People’s Future of the United States and Marlon JamesBlack Leopard, Red Wolf, followed by the Winter 2018 edition of Pulphouse Fiction Magazine.

In reading news, I am about a hundred pages from the end of The Blood-Tainted Winter. I would be done, but I keep getting distracted by, well, book like A People’s Future of the United States. There are just so many good books out there, and so little time for reading.

A Long-Awaited Treasure

This week brought in a couple of books which I have been looking forward to for months. Sunspot Jungle, the two-volume exclusive-to-Kickstarter hardcover set by Rosarium Publishing, arrived by mail yesterday, and they are stunning! I’ll get into the set in a moment, but first, here is the rundown of this week’s acquisitions.

On the left is the Winter 2018 issue of Rain Taxi, which I became aware of when their article about Lawrence Ferlinghetti appeared on LitHub last week. On the right is the latest book from Deep Vellum, Mephisto’s Waltz by Sergio Pitol.

So: Sunspot Jungle.

I first heard of this project when Bill Campbell, owner of Rosarium Publishing, announced the Kickstarter campaign back in the early part of 2018. I supported the pledge on the first day and the rest has been a year of eager anticipation.

I first heard of Rosarium when John Scalzi posted a photo of one of his weekly stacks of new books, and in that stack was a small collection of short stories called The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria.

That, of course, is one hell of a title.

And Rosarium is one hell of a publishing company.

In reading news, the past week was hectic, what with the polar vortex and associated schedule disruptions. I did make significant progress through Reckoning #1, and am a couple of chapters into T L Greylock’s The Blood-Tainted Winter.

In other literary news, I am back in the saddle at Caffeinated Press after a year-long hiatus/sabbatical, and am hard at work assembling the next issue of The 3288 Review.

Amazing how a schedule disruption, even one which ostensibly frees up a chunk of free time, seldom actually results in more usable free time.

The Books That Are Not ConFusion Books

Lest the last few posts give the impression that I only purchase books at conventions, here are some others which arrived in the past week.

On the left is The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark, which has been on my radar for a couple of months now. Next to it is Katherine Arden‘s The Bear and the Nightingale, because Russian folklore. Also about a year ago I wrote most of a Baba Yaga story for an anthology call, and in the research for that story this book came up repeatedly.

The third is The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty, the sequel to her excellent The City of Brass which I read several months ago. Next to it is Friday Black, a collection of short stories by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah which came to my attention when LitHub posted the story “Zimmer Land“.

The bottom row includes reading material from various subscription. First is Night School by Zsófia Bán, then I Am God by Giacomo Sartori, and finally the latest issue of Poetry.

In reading, I finished Fix by Ferret Steinmetz (which Mr. Steinmetz signed at ConFusion 2019!) and am now bouncing between three of my ConFusion acquisitions: Reckoning #1, Death March by Phil Tucker, and The Blood-Tainted Winter by T L Greylock.

For this year I am keeping a list of the books I read, and I plan to write reviews (GoodReads, Amazon, etc.) both to boost the signal of those authors and to give me practice at writing reviews.

That’s all for now. The books continue to accumulate.

Books from ConFusion 2019, Round 2

Okay, so I didn’t pick up these books at ConFusion, but I did talk to the authors and was thereby convinced that I should pick them up. Here they are, from top left:

T L GreylockThe Hills of Home
T L GreylockAlready Comes Darkness
Phil TuckerNightmare Keep
Phil TuckerThe Path of Flames
Nathan LowellQuarter Share
Mike ShelAching God
Michael J. SullivanTheft of Swords
Michael J. SullivanAge of Myth
Maurice BroaddusBuffalo Soldier
D. Thourson PalmerOurs is the Storm
David Anthony DurhamAcacia

Since I purchased these post- ConFusion 2019 I will bring them to ConFusion 2020 to be signed. Of course.

Books from ConFusion 2019, Round 1

Yeah, it was a good weekend. Here are the books I picked up during the first signing session at ConFusion 2019. Also some I picked up while talking to various folks at the convention. From top left, and going through in order.

The Blood-Tainted Winter, by T L Greylock
Death March by Phil Tucker
The Field Trip by R.A. Andrade
Darkness by Erin Eveland
Reckoning, issue 1
Gate Crashers by Patrick Tomlinson
The Rite of Wands by Mackenzie Flohr
Justice in an Age of Metal and Men by Anthony W. Eichenlaub
Peace in an Age of Metal and Men by Anthony W. Eichenlaub
The Queen Underneath by Stacey Filak
Timehunt: Borrowed Time by Keith Hughes
The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken
While the Black Stars Burn by Lucy A. Snyder
Garden of Eldritch Delights by Lucy A. Snyder
Ice Bar by Petra Kuppers
Power Tools in the Sacred Grove by Josef Matulich
Camp Arcanum by Josef Matulich

I would have picked up many more, but I was in a panel during the second book signing session. Fortunately I took many notes, so I was able to order the ones I missed. They will be in a separate blog post. Other than Reckoning and Gate Crashers, all of them were signed by the authors.

This Week’s Books, Part I: Small Stack

This is the small stack of books from this week. The Big Stack consists of books I picked up at ConFusion 2019, which is a large enough collection that it warrants its own post.

The books on the ends, Life on Mars and Whereas, are poetry books I purchased on a whim while at Books and Mortar picking up AfroSF and Seven Surrenders. The Anna Karenina Fix arrived from Amazon while I was at ConFusion.

With this week’s exceptionally large haul, I am now over 1,500 books catalogued in LibraryThing. I have shelf space in my house for maybe 100 more books if they are the usual mix of thin and thick. That should be enough to get me through the rest of 2019. We shall see…

In reading news, I finished Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer while at ConFusion on Thursday night. Friday morning I had coffee with Miss Palmer and several other people, where she held forth on various Papal shenanigans from the mid-1400s. To cool my head I read about half of the poems in Life on Mars, which is an absolutely wonderful collection by our current national Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. I am now a little more than halfway through Fix by Ferret Steinmetz, the sequel to Flex and The Flux. Thus far it is just as good as the first two. I expect to be finished by the end of the week and am enjoying every page of it.

 

Big Books for Cold Weekends

The first full week of the year brings four new bound piles of printed pages to the library at Winkelman Abbey. On the left is Kolyma Stories by Varlam Shalamov. I heard of this one when The Paris Review published “Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag“. Finally ordered it. Apparently this is the first of two volumes to be published (the second to be released this year). I will probably dive into it after I complete the current few books on my “currently reading” shelf.

The next one over is the December 2018 issue of Apex Magazine which, if I have my dates correct, is the last to be published in physical format. From now on the magazine will be digital only, which is fine, as it is well worth the cost of subscription in any format.

The last two are The Uploaded and Fix by the excellent Ferret Steinmetz. I hope to get them signed at ConFusion 2019 next weekend.

In reading news I am still working my way through Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning. I’m in the home stretch and should be through by the time I leave for ConFusion.

Selah!

ConFusion 2019 Schedule

Next week I head across the state to attend ConFusion 2019. This year I will be participating in three panels, all on Saturday, January 19. Here they are:

  • AI for Better or Worse – There’s no doubt that Artificial Intelligence will play some part in our future, but is it good, bad, or both? Panelists will discuss the future of AI, some of its uses, and some of its dangers.
    • Time: Saturday, 19 January, 2019 – 13:00
    • Room: Warren
    • Panelists: Anthony W. Eichenlaub (M), John Winkelman, Derek Kunsken
  • Let’s Talk Season 2: Computer Science! – A lighthearted talk on a hard science topics with smart and funny people. Let’s Talk: Computer Science will chuckle through the collapse of society as we know it. Come hear how silicon makes better decisions than carbon, protons as data, why you don’t need to be Slytherin to study Python, and what we are going to do with the leisure time we will have in 2025.
    • Time: Saturday, January 19, 2019 – 16:00
    • Room: Warren
    • Panelists: Daniel Dugan (M), John Winkelman, Anthony W. Eichenlaub
  • If you liked that, try this! – Our well-read panel will give you personalized book recommendations based on things you’ve read and loved.
    • Time: Saturday, January 19, 2019 – 18:00
    • Room: Dearborn
    • Panelists: Merrie Haskell (M), John Winkelman, Andrea Johnson, Karen Osborne, Sarah Hans

Between now and then I am spending my free moments gathering books I hope to have signed by other attendees, and getting everything around home squared away so I can focus on enjoying the experience. Hopefully one year I will be able to sign books of my own.

Reading at the Start of the Year

An excellent start to a year of reading, despite the expression on Chateaureynaud’s face. A couple of weeks ago I subscribed to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, a journal published by the excellent Small Beer Press. They surprised me by sending along a free copy of A Life On Paper, which I have added to my ever-growing to-read stack.

In reading news, I am still working my way through Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, which I might have done before the start of ConFusion 2019. It is an excellent book, but not one which can be read quickly. After that, I will tackle something lighter. Perhaps Crime and Punishment.