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A very smart, very positive review, posted to The Portal, of Welcome to the Greenhouse, the anthology I've been hyping, the one about climate change. The fact that the reviewer--Anil Menon--embeds his essay in knowledge of the subject and writes so well gives me a lot of confidence in his opinions, and he finds something, and often quite a lot, to like or respect or admire in every single story. I'm now really eager to read the rest of the book. We contributors are supposed to get copies later this month, after which you will hear more from me on the subject of this antho.

http://sffportal.net/2011/02/welcome-to-the-greenhouse/
2nd-Feb-2011 09:31 am - WELCOME TO THE GREENHOUSE review
The original anthology I've been blogging about--Welcome to the Greenhouse: New Science Fiction on Climate Change--has been released, and has been given a generous review by Sam Tomiano in the new issue of SFREVU. You can read it at http://sfrevu.com/php/Review-id.php?id=11768

I haven't seen the physical book yet, but my uncertainty about the cover has disappeared, to the degree that the cover itself has disappeared under type and copy. Now I think it looks pretty cool, or rather hot, in fiery reds and yellows. The title has lost it's knee-jerk exclamation point and gained in dignity as a consequence. All in all, a much improved look.

The review makes me eager to read what everybody else has said, and I already wanted to do that; this is a subject I care about a lot. If all the stories Tomiano likes are as good as he thinks they are, it's a pretty good collection, and quite a diverse one.

Remember that the book is available only from the publisher's website, in both print and ebook formats:

http://www.orbooks.com/our-books/greenhouse/

No promises, but after I've read this l may review it myself! Privately of course, meaning here, and leaving my own story out.
22nd-Jan-2011 10:40 am - WELCOME TO THE GREENHOUSE! encore...
As Kentuckians experience the snowiest winter (with two full months to go) in history, the publication date of this anthology about climate change, sometimes referred to confusingly as global warming, nears. O/R Books has released a cute promotional trailer featuring images lifted from a source you may recognize (I recognized the wilting plant, though not the people, which says something I probably don't want spread around about me.)

The trailer is online at http://vimeo.com/19041571
and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDchtY_Sb3Q

To identify the source of the images, click here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734660/
27th-Dec-2010 12:20 pm - Freezing Rain
We continue to flog the climate-change anthology: to order go here: http://www.orbooks.com/our-books/greenhouse/

The publisher covered all bases, by going with "climate change" instead of "global warming" but calling the book Welcome to the Greenhouse, a nice warm title. "Climate change" is much the better description for what's going on, though. The trend of change is a gradual warming, melting of ice caps and glaciers and so on, but the reality on the ground is general destabilization and upheaval. In central Kentucky we fricasseed all summer, then in mid-December were clobbered with an ice storm that left at least a quarter-inch of ice on everything--twigs, fences, my deck and steps, my quarter-mile perpendicular gravel driveway, and everything in between. I was stuck in the house for all of one day--had to let my dog out through the basement, where she had a halfway decent chance of making it to ice-covered grass without skidding uncontrollably in the wrong direction (she skidded but she made it).

Temps stayed below freezing, the ice stayed ice. I had no salt or sand on hand, but the next day I scrounged in the basement for something textured and found an unopened bag of a product called WOW!, which is just granulated wheat gluten that's supposed to prevent broadleaf weeds from germinating. I ordered it a couple of years ago from Gardens Alive! for the strawberry bed, then wasn't sure it should be used on a food crop. So there it still was. I hauled that upstairs, heated a kettle of water, and poured boiling water on the ice right outside the door, then threw handfuls of WOW! in the puddle. When it refroze, voila! something to stand on without falling. I worked my way across the deck, down the steps, across the boardwalk to the parking pad, kettle by kettle and WOW! handful by WOW! handful. Each new assault had to wait for the previous one to refreeze, so it took all day. When I reached concrete I switch to wood ashes, and at dusk was finally able to call Fleece out to do her business where she prefers to do it, in her own fenced yard.

This says nothing about the driveway, which had turned into a glacier, not one of your melting glaciers either. A whole other saga; but I trust my point has been made and illustrated feelingly.
16th-Dec-2010 03:57 pm - WELCOME (BACK) TO THE GREENHOUSE!
At Vicki's
I wish O/R Books had used a different cover for Welcome to the Greenhouse!, the climate-change anthology I've been going on about. One featuring an image that screams climate change! more effectively. Remember the polar bear in An Inconvenient Truth, trying to find an ice floe big enough to rest on? I do, which is my point: this cover screams all right (red!), but I don't think it provides a memorable graphic of the concept the book engages with.

You may disagree. If you do I hope you'll tell me why. I would like to feel happier with it. If you want to check it out, that number again: http://www.orbooks.com/our-books/greenhouse.

I remember attending a SFWA workshop at one of the first cons I ever attended as a member, and having it explained to me that a cover is "a little billboard" that advertises in an arresting image what a book is about. The example was the cover of the mass-market edition of Jaws--little human swimmer centered on the horizontal line of the water's surface, gigantic maw rising vertically beneath her. Perfect. Imagine, then, my disappointment when not one of my own book covers came close to approximating that sort of graphic impact. Well, few covers do. But some come closer than others, and to me this cover would be more appropriate on a book of games and crossword puzzles.

Of course it's what's between the covers that matters. But O/R just sent me an email with a big image of the cover in it, and I was just thinking.
10th-Dec-2010 12:03 pm - Erratum Corrected; Climate Change
At Vicki's
After spending an embarrassing amount of time yesterday trying to create a link the hard way (it absolutely did not work; even with every quote mark and slash entered correctly, the URL simply disappeared instead of turning into a link), I read the directions all the way to the bottom and found out how to do it the easy way. So yesterday's post is fixed, and here's the link for Welcome to the Greenhouse, the soon-to-be-published anthology of stories about climate change, edited by Gordon Van Gelder: http://www.orbooks.com/our-books/greenhouse.

Why do so many people still think climate change is a hoax? Are you puzzled when the evidence provided by the scientific community is brushed aside by people completely unqualified to question it, but who take on faith the dismissals of other people equally unqualified to to pass judgment on it? Are you mystified as to why they won't consider for one instant the evidence provided by science, even when presented in a user-friendly format, like Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth?

I'm not. I was raised by Christian fundamentalists, Southern Baptist parents from Louisville who joined a Conservative Baptist church when they moved to Cincinnati. My sister is still a fundamentalist and a Baptist, and we have learned not to go anywhere near subjects like evolution, global warming, or why I left the Baptists after my freshman year of college (she thinks it was adolescent rebellion). Read more...Collapse )
9th-Dec-2010 10:43 am - WELCOME TO THE GREENHOUSE!
Welcome to the Greenhouse, an original anthology of SF stories about climate change, edited by Gordon Van Gelder, is about to be published by OR Books. I'm blogging about it because a story of mine is included and the topic is one I've been writing about for, oh, twenty years, and passionate about for longer than that. EcoSF this blog is called, and you don't get more ecological than climate change.

Besides mine, the antho includes new work by Brian W. Aldiss, Jeff Carlson, Matthew Hughes, Gregory Benford, Michael Alexander, Bruce Sterling, Joseph Green, Pat MacEwen, Alan Dean Foster, David Prill, George Guthridge, Paul Di Filippo, Chris Lawson, Ray Vukcevich and M. J. Locke. Did you pick out the Big Names? The publisher did, and put them on the cover, as you will see. Impossible to sell any anthology, even one edited by GVG, without some Names, and these are good ones.

I haven't read any of the other stories yet, and won't until I have a print copy, but I'm eager to see what science fiction has found to say, at short length, on a subject that preoccupies me all the time. (At novel length Kim Stanley Robinson's has long been the most distinguished voice crying in the wilderness, through book after book and trilogy upon trilogy, about the consequences--practical moral and spiritual--of environmental exploitation. I wish he had a story in this book, but he isn't writing short stories nowadays.)

Here's the website: http://www.orbooks.com/our-books/greenhouse/. Try not to be appalled when you discover an ad for a book about Sarah Palin on the page; evidently it describes not only her origins and rise to power, but also "the nightmarish prospect of her continuing to dominate the nation’s political scene."

OR, in the person of John Oakes, has explained to the contributors that its approach to marketing is different. They don't sell through bricks&mortar bookstores, or even through Amazon or B&N, but through direct sales from their website ONLY. Customers pre-pay; OR doesn't offer discounts or accept returns. Books are promoted and marketed through online ads and videos, through blog announcements like this one, on Facebook pages, and so on. Then later on the plan is to try to give their books a second life, as they put it, by licensing them to a traditional publisher.

It will be interesting to see how well this approach works by contrast with those I'm more familiar with. My impression is that nowadays alternate ways of publishing and selling books are proliferating like mad, and this is just one more creative approach to the problem of how to get copies into the hands of readers for fun and profit.

I'm pleased and proud to be part of an anthology that, instead of going on about vampires or zombies, takes up a serious subject that is infinitely more timely and important than Sarah Palin thinks it is. When I've read the book you will hear from me again.

And while we're waiting--pub date is set for February 21--why not start on Stan Robinson's climate-change trilogy: Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, Sixty Days and Counting? Nothing could be better prep for the subject, and you won't find a better holiday read this year.
28th-Jul-2010 11:15 am - Weightless Books
A while back I tried to create Kindle versions of the two of my four novels, Pennterra and The Bird Shaman, that exist as electronic files. At the time, and this may still be true for all I know, Amazon couldn't convert PDF files into their own format, and I made a royal botch of trying to convert PDF to Word and then to Kindle, and quickly gave up.

Then martyhalpern told me that Small Beer Press had launched an e-book line of its own. The line featured mostly Small Beer titles but they seemed somewhat interested in acquiring others. So I emailed Gavin Grant with a query, and he said sure, send them over.

The catch, if you want to consider it one, is that there was as yet no contract for out-of-house titles, and I had recently decided that I needed to be more businesslike about my writing. Gavin said we could do a contract or not, just as I preferred, and I replied that I would prefer to sign one.

That was back in May. Weeks went by. I nagged a couple of times, but the contract never got written or sent. Finally I concluded two things: 1) deciding to be more businesslike is all very well, but the people one does business with also have to be businesslike or nothing happens; and 2) insisting on a contract in this case, with so little money at stake (e-books are very cheap), and in view of the fact that I trust Gavin to do what he says he'll do, was hard to justify in practical terms. And the Weightless list is thoroughly distinguished.

So I caved. The two titles went up on the site a week ago. In his blog for July 20, 2010, Gavin writes:

Weightless is Featherproof!

Over on our Weightless ebook store (the best place for indie press ebooks!) we just added half a dozen titles from one of our fave Chicago publishers, Featherproof Books, plus two o/p titles from sf writer
Judith Moffett—who was in the right place at the right time when we needed to try adding a few more titles from other people. Weightless is taking off nicely and we should have more addition announcements and so on over there most Tuesdays.

Check it out: http://weightlessbooks.com
23rd-May-2010 04:27 pm - "Tiny Tango" at Centre College
At Vicki's
Late in April an email with the above in the subject line popped up in my inbox. Centre College is one of Kentucky's two small private liberal-arts colleges that are widely viewed as good schools (the other is Transylvania, in Lexington). Centre is in Danville, 35 miles from my farm, and the email turned out to be from someone named Mykol Hamilton, who said that for for fifteen years she'd been assigning her students the task of reading my novella "Tiny Tango" and writing a final paper about it for her class in social psychology.

In what?? Apparently so; she attached a term paper from last year, so I could see the various ways in which the principles of social psychology could be applied to my story about a woman plant breeder living with HIV, who goes through a radical personal crisis at the time of a nuclear power plant meltdown. The story has a first-person narrator and the student kept referring to the POV character as Moffett (as in Moffett derives comfort from her support group, and Moffett contributes to society by working with AIDS patients), which was a little freaky, but all in all it was indeed obvious that the story lent itself to being used in that way.

Anyway, I was invited down to visit the current class on May 17, last Monday, the day they turned their papers in. Considering that it was the last class and most of them must have been dying to get out of there, they came up with some quite good questions and impressed me as being nice, smart kids. Dr. Hamilton had been xeroxing the story out of the Dozois Seventh Year's Best for all those many years, and before the appointed hour I inquired delicately into the question of whether she'd ever gotten permission to do that from Gardner or St. Martin's or Asimov's or ANYBODY, and you already know the answer, but she promised to start fresh beginning next spring.

Weird to think what else might be going on out there, you know?
27th-Feb-2010 07:09 pm - Farewell Fantastic Books
At Vicki's
It now seems clear that my recently revived hopes for Fantastic Books were founded on exactly that: fantasy. More precisely, my hopes that my own association with FB would amount to anything have been--not dashed exactly, which sounds too definite--but allowed to wither away.

Citing a brutal workload, Marty Halpern has resigned as an acquiring editor for the series. Emails to others don't get answered. So I can't really say what's happening over there; but I do know that as far as my novel goes the answer seems to be nothing, and I no longer expect the situation to improve, at least not for me.

Once this is posted I'll delete the cover of the FB Pennterra from my roster of LJ userpics, and this will be my final update on the subject of Fantastic Books. (Actually more of a downdate, if you see what I mean.)

I'm not sorry I gave this a shot, or that a corrected and updated e-version of the novel exists now as a result. But, all in all, the experience has been really disheartening.
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