Have a Happy …

OR AS NONSTOP author Gay Partington Terry put it:

I’m looking forward to the new “Era” we’re promised by the Mayans.
Happy ‘end of the old one’…& other holidays.

We concur. Have a great holiday.

Image: Art by Ed Emshwiller from Emshwiller: Infinity X 2

A Writer Grows in Brooklyn

NEW MALZBERG BOOK TEASER

WE ARE hard at work on THE VERY BEST OF BARRY N. MALZBERG and the book should ship by late Feb. 2013. Here is a teaser excerpt from the introduction by Joe Wrzos:

Ironically enough, Malzberg never intended to be a science fiction writer in the first place. True, as an urchin growing up in Brooklyn, he had discovered some pretty good storytelling in both Galaxy and Astounding. But in that period, sniffy mainstream critics still tended to ignore the genre, as did most aloof academics as well. So, older and wiser, he cannily earned his B.A. at Syracuse University, supplementing it with a year as a Shubert Foundation Playwright Fellow. After which — now apparently fiercely ambitious — he set his literary sights higher than genre level, aiming his early plays and stories at loftier markets. The plays, hopefully, at Broadway (or at least Off-Broadway); the fiction, first at the literary quarterlies, and, then at the more upscale (and better-paying) slicks like Esquire and The Atlantic. He probably also tried some of the more prestigious book publishers like Random House, but there too the results were not encouraging. Fittingly, though, in 1973, less than a decade later, after he had achieved a measure of success in the sf field, Random House itself came calling, now eager to publish Malzberg’s prescient Beyond Apollo, his risky taboo-shattering challenge to the basic premise and gung ho spirit of NASA’s military-industrial, manned space program. And this, at a time when most of us were still basking vicariously in the afterglow of those exhilarating 1969 TV transmissions showing a space-suited Neil Armstrong ever so tentatively planting his historic out-sized boot prints on the powdery surface of the Moon, the first Earthling to do so (and an American, too!).

But before Beyond Apollo stirred up all that critical dust, Malzberg had already begun to make a notable, if limited, impact on the science fiction field with “We’re Coming Through the Window” (Galaxy, August 1967). The hilarious short-short about a hapless two-bit inventor, who concocts a homemade time machine but somehow manages (it’s a question of faulty calibrators, you see) to inundate his cramped little apartment with hundreds of replicas of himself, each of whom desperately striving to rectify the situation, only makes things worse! Malzberg followed this promising debut with “Final War” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April, 1968), which he himself has capsulized as being “about an endless war in an ambiguous time fought for no reason.” Exceedingly well written, exhibiting many of the skills he’d already honed before entering the sf field, this relentless indictment of all-out absurdist conflict could well have been snapped up – had they been given first look – by any of the top literary quarterlies or slicks of that period.  But, fortunately, science fiction, as it sometimes does, got there first.

Excerpt from Lord Of Darkness

Here is the first chapter from Lord Of Darkness.


Book One:
Voyager

1

ALMIGHTY GOD, I thank Thee for my deliverance from the dark land of Africa. Yet am I grateful for all that Thou hast shown me in that land, even for the pain Thou hast inflicted upon me for my deeper instruction. And I thank Thee also for sparing me from the wrath of the Portugals who enslaved me, and from the other foes, black of skin and blacker of soul, with whom I contended. And I give thanks too that Thou let me taste the delight of strange loves in a strange place, so that in these my latter years I may look back with pleasure upon pleasures few Englishmen have known. But most of all I thank Thee for showing me the face of evil and bringing me away whole, and joyous, and unshaken in my love of Thee.

I am Andrew Battell of Leigh in Essex, which is no inconsiderable place. My father was the master mariner Thomas James Battell, who served splendidly with such as the great Drake and Hawkins, and my mother was Mary Martha Battell, whom I never knew, for she died in giving me into this world. That was in the autumn of the year 1558, the very month when Her Protestant Majesty Elizabeth ascended our throne. I was reared by my father’s second wife Cecily, of Southend, who taught me to read and write, and these other things: that I was to love God and Queen Elizabeth before all else, that I was to live honorably and treat all men as I would have myself be treated, and that we are sent into this world to suffer, as Christ Jesus Himself suffered, because it is through suffering that we learn. I think I have kept faith with my stepmother’s teachings, especially in the matter of suffering, for I have had such an education of pain, in good sooth, that I could teach on the subject to the doctors of Oxford or Cambridge. And yet I am not regretful of my wounds.

I was meant by my father to be a clerk. My brothers Thomas and Henry and John followed my father to the sea, as did my brother Edward, who was drowned off Antwerp, only fourteen years old, the week before my birth. That news, I think, broke my mother’s heart and weakened her so that the birthing of me killed her. My father, doubly grieved, resolved to send no more sons a-sailing, and so I was filled with knowledge out of books, even some Latin and some Greek, in the plan that I should go up to London and take a post in Her Majesty’s government.

But the salt air was ever in my nostrils. My earliest memory has me in my stepmother’s arms at the place where the Thames flows into the sea, and shaking my fist at a gull that swooped wildly to and fro above me. Leigh is such a town, you know, as will manufacture mariners rather than clerks. Since early days we have had a famous guild of pilots here, taking charge of the inward-bound traffic, while the men of Deptford Strond in Kent provide pilots to the outward bound. It was the Kentish guild and ours that King Henry VIII of blessed memory incorporated together as the Fraternity of the Most Glorious and Indivisible Trinity and of St. Clement, which we call the Trinity House, and it is the brethren of Trinity House that keep all England’s ships from going on the reefs. My father Thomas held a license of that guild, which took him a dozen years in the winning; and his son Thomas, now dead like all my clan, was a pilot, too. And a time came when even I found myself dealing with quadrants and astrolabes and portolans in strange waters, though such piloting as I knew was in my blood and breathed into my lungs, and not taught to me in any school. It was God who made me a pilot, and the Portugals, but not Trinity House.

Another early thing that I remember was a visitor my father had, a great-shouldered rough-skinned man with hard blue eyes and a shaggy red beard and a stark smell of codfish about him, though not an unpleasant one. He snatched me up—I was then, oh, seven or eight years old, I suppose—and threw me high and caught me, and cried, “Here’s another mariner for us, eh, Thomas?”

“Ah, I think not,” said my father to him.

And this man—he was Francis Willoughby, cousin to Sir Hugh that was lost in Lapland seeking the northeast passage to China—shook his head and said to my father, “Nay, Thomas, we must all go forth. For this is our nation’s time, we English, going out to be scattered upon the earth like seeds. Or thrown like coins, one might better say: a handful of coins flung from a giant’s hand. And O! Thomas! We are bright glittering coins, we are, of the least base of metals!” Read more

Worldcon Photos from Chicago

WE WOULD LIKE to thank all the people who came by our table at Chicon. It is always nice to meet our readers face to face. Here are a few photos from the convention.

Nonstop Press editorial assistant Ruth Van Alst with Robert Silverberg
author of the forthcoming LORD OF DARKNESS. Silverberg has a Hugo Loser ribbon
on this badge, given  to members of that select group by George R.R. Martin

Ruth entertaining the troops. Andy Porter is in the background.

Nonstop Press senior editor Luis Ortiz
across the street from the convention center.
Ortiz’s Hugo Loser ribbon is hard to see in this picture.

Steampunk contraption being built next to the dealer’s room.

A view from our hotel room of the convention center on the left.

Snidley Whiplash as Victorian villain.

This vintage ice cream truck was parked in front of our hotel every night
and provided the perfect nightcap: ice cream sandwiches.

Interview: Damien Broderick & Paul Di Filippo

WE DID a joint interview with Damien Broderick and Paul Di Filippo, authors of SCIENCE FICTION: THE 101 BEST NOVELS–1985-2010, drawing on the Q&A format used in The New York Times Book Review’s “By The Book” column, which employs the same set of questions with all interviewees. We’re taking this liberty since it is not likely that the NYTBR will be talking to a fulltime science fiction writer any time soon (going by the Old Gray Lady’s general haughty attitude towards the genre). —Luis

What book is on your nightstand now?


BRODERICK: A curiously 20th century question. Barbara, my wife, has a Kindle, which contains many books. I don’t, but I read a lot on my computer screen—which is too large to take to bed—and I always chew through several books at the same time, propped up by turns on a lectern and pinned open so I don’t have to hold the damned things in my arthritic fingers. Literally, the book beside my bed is whichever one I happen to have with me. Last night it was Phil Dick’s FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID, which I haven’t read for decades.  The night before it was Salinger’s RAISE HIGH THE ROOFBEAM, CARPENTERS, ditto. Tonight it might be J. Storrs Hall’s BEYOND AI, or Russell Blackford’s FREEDOM OF RELIGION & THE SECULAR STATE, but probably not Samuel Delany’s THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE NEST OF SPIDERS, which is sitting menacingly on the kitchen table.

DI FILIPPO: My night table is covered with comics. Giant stacks of graphic novels (STEVE CANYON, DYLAN DOG) and “floppy” issues from Marvel and DC. I’m also reading the new Otto Soglow collection from IDW. But why only comics? Because at the end of a long day usually devoted to reading “real” books for review purposes, comics are my decompression addiction. The blend of visuals and (minimal) text is soothing after concentrated prose in large doses. That said, in my workspace is a stack of five new fantasy novels I need to review for B&N. I shan’t reveal the titles except to hint that all five are by women authors. Maybe I’m subconsciously working toward FANTASY: THE BEST 101.

What was the last truly great book you read?

BRODERICK: If you’d said “truly great novel” I might give a different answer, but I’m a hard audience these days, I’d probably say Bellow’s HERZOG, which I haven’t read since I was 21. Let’s see… Perhaps GÖDEL, ESCHER, BACH, and it’s more than 30 years since I read that one.

DI FILIPPO: Pynchon’s AGAINST THE DAY was mighty impressive. But I almost think his INHERENT VICE was “greater” due to its organic unity and conciseness. In either case, he’s the one author I automatically think of when questions of this nature are posed.

Are you a fiction or a nonfiction person?

BRODERICK: Totally both. I can go on binges—as with the Salinger stories, just reread, and a number of the Lord Peter Whimsy social mysteries by Dorothy Sayers, and Peter Carey’s later novels, such as THEFT and MY LIFE AS A FAKE, and a number of the stout novels by Kim Stanley Robinson. But I also dote on informed books about science (which I reviewed in a previous life) and used to be obsessed with literary theory, the more bizarre the better (and the more bizarre the more fun to whack them about the head and shoulders until they yelped, except that they never did because they weren’t paying attention to anyone but their claque).

DI FILIPPO: Like Damien, I’ll have to opt for a balanced diet approach—ideally. Though I suspect I read more fiction on the whole.  Fiction—the writing and reading thereof—will always be my first love, over the “true” stuff. I can imagine a livable world containing no non-fiction prose, but not one containing no works of the imagination.

What was the best book you read as a student? Read more

Radio’s HOUR OF THE WOLF Features Gay Terry June 28th

“ATTENTION INSOMNIACS with a radio: I’m going to be on Hour of the Wolf, WBAI (99.5, New York City) at 1:30am on June 28th. (It may be Wednesday night for some, but it’s officially early Thursday morning.) I’ll be chatting with Jim Freund, reading a story (or two) from MEETING THE DOG GIRLS, and maybe he’ll play some tunes I wrote words for. If you’re awake, you can call in and harass me; if not, it will be on the website: hourwolf.com for a week after.” —Gay Partington Terry

NS Kindle ebooks back on sale at Amazon

OUR DISTRIBUTOR IPG has come to an agreement with Amazon to sell Kindle editions of all the publishers they represent. This means that Nonstop Press books that are available in Kindle format will be again sold at Amazon.com. Over at MobyLives there is an interview with IPG president Mark Suchomel about their publishers surviving the Amazon boycott.

One thing to keep in mind here is that Amazon is now also a publisher and in direct competition with other publishers. In the scheme of things this situation is neither here nor there. Except that Amazon also have access to detailed sales data from all publishers that sell their books through Amazon.com. This aggregate statistical databank gives Amazon an outsized advantage in selling its own books and that a big advantage, with everything else, that the rest of us don’t have.

Physical Graffiti And Pulp Ink

Excerpt from THE NONSTOP BOOK OF FANTASTIKA TATTOO DESIGNS by K.J. Cypret.

He had seen her painted sign by the road: SKIN ILLUSTRATIONS! Illustrations instead of tattoo! Artistic! So he had sat all night while her magic needles stung him wasp stings and delicate bee strings. By morning he looked like a man who had fallen into a twenty-color print press and been squeezed out, all bright and picturesque.”

– Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man

THE IDEA of doing a book on fantastic tattoo designs first entered my head around 2004, when I began seeing people riding the subways in New York City that reminded me of Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man. Skin ink had been accepted into the vernacular of the country and it was certainly easy to find people with all sorts of skin illustrations walking about the city. I especially noted that the open by-ways of New York had become a gallery of the fever dreams and fantasies. A lot of the tattoos I saw also seemed somewhat familiar to me, and one day it came to me: the malformed monsters, screaming demons, and winged, nude nymphs navigating the expanse of flesh— much of it was just weird pulp art transformed, an exhibition of fantastika (horror, fantasy and science fiction) art on permanent display, at least during the span of the exhibiting person’s lifetime.

In the city in which I traveled resided, a cool tribe of post 9/11 hustlers, slouchers and even businessmen allow themselves to be branded by even cooler artists and both artist and patron were indirectly channeling long dead pulp artists from the mid-20th century – drawing inspiration from art that had been originally done for cheap pulp paper instead of skin. If you navigate the streets of NYC and check out all the illustrated people you will sooner or later come upon remnants of weird pulp art.


It seems that a small group of artists had pulp ink in their tattoo machine reservoirs. One of the more colorful tattoos I saw at the time appeared familiar and I wished I had my Olympus with me so I could get a picture of it. Some days afterwards I realized it was a Hannes Bok-inspired nymph riding a gigantic cat.



Bok was a self-trained artist from Kansas City. He came to New York City, by way of California, at some point around World War II. Bok was serious about art, even if the bulk of his artwork appeared in 25-cent magazines located in the back section of newsstands. His thing was Maxfield Parrish art and the writings of fantasist Abe Merritt. At first he mixed pulp art motifs with a Parrish influenced drawing style but soon developed his own art manner. Bok tried to follow in Parish’s footsteps by using a muted color palette in his paintings done for pulp magazine covers. This style only really worked in places like Weird Tales and appears to have limited Bok’s illustration market. But Bok’s real talent lay in black and white interior illustrations. The inside story on the man was that he was gay. Very few people realized this at the time—even some of his closest artist friends. It was a different time then.

Bok was an eccentric unwilling or unable to make conformist adjustments when it came to art and as a result lived an impoverished and shortened life. He once stood outside of Edgar Allan Poe’s house on West 3rd Street, staring jovially up at the windows. He had hiked all the way downtown from his top-floor walk-up apartment on West 144th Street and felt some kind of kinship with the downtrodden writer. Just like Poe, clients always exploited and underpaid Bok during his lifetime, and just like with Poe, the city showed no favoritism to Bok. Yet, unlike Poe, for the most part Bok remained a happy creator with supreme imagination until one day in 1964 he rested his head on a thin pillow and never woke up. He was 49 years old.

Bok, Dolgov and Gaughan are just a few of the fantastic artists represented in THE NONSTOP BOOK OF FANTASTIKA TATTOO DESIGNS.

(TOP: Art by Hannes Bok; MIDDLE: Art by Boris Dolgov; BELOW: Art by Jack Gaughan)

Paul Di Filippo and Damien Broderick on the 101 Best SF novels 1985-2010

PAUL DI FILIPPO AND DAMIEN BRODERICK are interviewed at Missions Unknown about their choice of novels to include in Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels, 1985-2011. The book will ship the third week of this month. There is a special  pdf advance reading copy of the book (e-ARC) that will be only available for a very short time before the book ships. Buying this e-ARC now will also allow you to purchase the paper book at a 50% discount anytime in the future. More info including full table of contents.

Book Review

HERE’S A link to the most recent review of Why New Yorkers Smoke from the Portland Book Review.

Why New Yorkers Smoke is a collection of short stories that asks, “What is there to fear in New York City?” and while it answers that question in a number of ways, most intriguing about the stories are the characters themselves. (more)