MIND MELD: Why are Anthologies Important?

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This week, we asked our panelists the following:

Q: Why are anthologies important for writers and readers of Speculative Fiction? What have been some of your favorite anthologies?

Here’s what they said:

Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Benjanun Sriduangkaew likes airports, bees, and makeup. Her works can be found in Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and anthologies such as End of the Road and Clockwork Phoenix 4.

I adore anthologies. As a reader still new to speculative fiction, it’s a quick way to discover writers, both established and up-and-coming, in one go. In any anthology though there’s a unifying theme there is also usually a huge range of styles, forms, and perspectives – diversity in every sense of the word. It can be exciting compared to reading a novel by a familiar writer; there’s something new every time you reach the end of a story and turn the page. Rapid-fire and heady!

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Lavie Tidhar, author of the steampunk series The Bookman, will be writing a 5-part comic mini-series called Adler, described “The League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen”…

Press release follows…
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Lavie Tidhar is the World Fantasy Award winning author of Osama, of The Bookman Histories trilogy and many other works. He won the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, for Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God, and a BSFA Award for his non-fiction. He grew up on a kibbutz in Israel and in South Africa but currently resides in London. His 2013 novels are the just-released Martian Sands and forthcoming The Violent Century.

Five Weird Trips to Mars

by Lavie Tidhar

My new novel, Martian Sands, is out now from PS Publishing in the UK. It builds on my fascination with the novels of Philip K. Dick, which had such an impact on me when I was reading them as a teenager – the only American novels, it felt to me, to describe a future in which I had a place. Dick wrote about kibbutzim on Mars, and I grew up on a kibbutz (a sort of Socialist commune in Israel). He also wrote about time travel and the Holocaust, obsessing in the way I too obsess over that enormous psychic wound. My mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany after the war: the majority of my family died at Auschwitz.

Pulp fiction, it seemed to me when writing my World Fantasy Award winning novel, Osama, and seems to me still, allows us a way to look at truly unbelievable, implausible things, things that look like, that feel as though they should belong in the pages of cheap, disposable literature.

In many of my recent short stories I have been exploring a vast future history, one in which humanity has populated the solar system. Martian Sands takes place roughly in that same universe, or at least adjacent to it. It is a novel about pulp – the Martian pulps of Philip K. Dick as well as Edgar Rice Burroughs – and it is a novel about time travel, which is impossible, and the Holocaust, which should have been impossible.

Think of it as Total Recall meets Schindler’s List

It is a very strange book.

Here, I wanted to explore five other weird journeys to Mars. The usual suspects may be missing, but each of these, in their own way, has contributed to Martian Sands.
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Author Lavie Tidhar has posted the cover art and synopsis of his upcoming novella Martian Sands.

Here’s the synopsis:

1941: an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbour, a man from the future materialises in President Roosevelt’s office. His offer of military aid may cut the War and its pending atrocities short, and alter the course of the future . . .

The future: welcome to Mars, where the lives of three ordinary people become entwined in one dingy smokesbar the moment an assassin opens fire. The target: the mysterious Bill Glimmung. But is Glimmung even real? The truth might just be found in the remote FDR Mountains, an empty place, apparently of no significance, but where digital intelligences may be about to bring to fruition a long-held dream of the stars . . .

Mixing mystery and science fiction, the Holocaust and the Mars of both Edgar Rice Burroughs and Philip K. Dick, Martian Sands is a story of both the past and future, of hope, and love, and of finding meaning—no matter where—or when—you are.

Book information as per PS Publishing

  • TITLE: Martian Sands
  • A NOVELLA by Lavie Tidhar
  • PUBLICATION DATE: March 2013
  • EDITION: Hardcover
  • COVER ART: Pedro Marques
  • PRINT RUN: unsigned
  • ISBN: 978-1-848635-98-2

Short Fiction Friday: Asimov’s Science Fiction, March 2013

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REVIEW SUMMARY:  One strong short story and two fair novelettes stand out in comparison to a novella and short stories that never fully reach their potential.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS:   Time travel, the afterlife of nanotech, tactical warfare on a moon orbiting Mars, and an intimate look at two space-inspired young people and more await readers in the pages of the latest issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: One highly creative, thought-provoking short story; two novellettes that are fair; entertaining reflection on year’s best anthologies and their history by Robert Silverberg; nice editorial honoring early female astronauts.
CONS: A novella and short stories which felt like they could go somewhere interesting but never arrived.
BOTTOM LINE:  The March 2013 issue sits at the mediocre end of the spectrum in considering it against some of Asimov’s better offerings.  This is disappointing given the past quality of some of the included authors’ stories and the potential that almost every story appeared to have at the start.  Fans of the authors included should seek out the issue.  Those considering trying Asimov’s for the first time would be best served tracking down the January 2013 issue which set the standard impossibly high for the rest of the year.

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Lavie Tidhar is the World Fantasy Award winning author of Osama, of The Bookman Histories trilogy and many other works. He also won the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, for “Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God”, and was nominated variously for a BSFA, Campbell, Sturgeon and Sidewise awards. He grew up on a kibbutz in Israel and in South Africa but currently resides in London.

Lavie can be found online at lavietidhar.wordpress.com or on twitter as @lavietidhar.

For this interview, Lavie Tidhar talks about the second World SF Travel Fund, the recipients of which are Csilla Kleinheincz and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz.


CHARLES TAN: Hi Lavie! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. For those unfamiliar with the World SF Travel Fund, could you tell us what it is about?

LAVIE TIDHAR: It’s a small initiative, to help people involved in genre fiction – writers, editors, translators, bloggers – from outside of the main Anglophone world travel to a major convention. Predominantly, we have been associated with the World Fantasy Convention, which is a more professionally-aimed convention, and can offer the most benefit.

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They say you shouldn’t judge a book by cover…unless it’s an SF Signal Book Cover Smackdown!

It’s time once again to have your way with some upcoming book covers, this time with a new trio of steampunk titles being released next month.

Here are today’s contenders…
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SF Signal welcomes back Lavie Tidhar, whose book Osama is out from Solaris Books on October 1st.  He runs the World SF Blog, which contains four years of short stories, essays, articles, interviews and links to genre literature from around the world. When he’s not doing that he’s the World Fantasy, BSFA and Campbell Award nominated author of The Bookman Histories (out in December in omnibus from Angry Robot), and editor of The Apex Book of World SF 2, collecting 26 stories from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe, out from Apex Books.

Top Five Movies That Influenced OSAMA

CASABLANCA

Casablanca is my blueprint, a movie that has woven itself into the fabric of my being as a writer. It is referenced in the very first chapter of Osama, and its doomed love story informs the nature of the book. What fascinates me most about Casablanca, however, is the fact that many of the actors were genuine refugees from the Nazis, filling up the film in bit parts in Rick’s Cafe and the casino. It’s a film I can watch again and again and always find new things in.

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Lavie Tidhar’s The Apex Book of World SF 2, collecting 26 stories from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe, is now out. He runs the World SF Blog, which contains four years of short stories, essays, articles, interviews and links to genre literature from around the world. When he’s not doing that he’s the World Fantasy, BSFA and Campbell Award nominated author of Osama (out later this month from Solaris Books) and of The Bookman Histories (out in December in omnibus from Angry Robot).

The Lonely Business of Self-Promotion

Writing is a lonely business. Promotion is the opposite. Everyone wants to get the word out. Buy my book! Please Share! Please Like! Please RT!

It occurs to me that your chances of being heard are better if you think not only of yourself (as hard as that may be!). Helping others gains you, in pure Capitalist terms, social capital. What Ed McBain called the “favour bank” in his 87th Precinct novels. Therefore, paradoxically, the best way to help yourself is to help others.

As editor of the World SF Blog, I get a fair amount of PR “spam”. Why do I call it spam? Because, in the four years of running the blog, I have never – not once – received a PR e-mail remotely relevant to the blog.

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Book Trailer: “Osama” by Lavie Tidhar

Author Lavie Tidhar has posted the trailer for his acclaimed novel, Osama.

In a world without global terrorism Joe, a private detective, is hired by a mysterious woman to find a man: the obscure author of pulp fiction novels featuring one Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante…

Joe’s quest to find the man takes him across the world, from the backwaters of Asia to the European Capitals of Paris and London, and as the mystery deepens around him there is one question he is trying hard not to ask: who is he, really, and how much of the books is fiction? Chased by unknown assailants, Joe’s identity slowly fragments as he discovers the shadowy world of the refugees, ghostly entities haunting the world in which he lives. Where do they come from? And what do they want? Joe knows how the story should end, but even he is not ready for the truths he’ll find in New York and, finally, on top a quiet hill above Kabul—nor for the choice he will at last have to make…

In Osama, Lavie Tidhar brilliantly delves into the post-9/11 global subconscious, mixing together elements of film noir, non-fiction, alternative history and international thriller to create an unsettling—yet utterly compelling—portrayal of our times.

Here’s the trailer. It’s spoken in Hungarian, but you can click on “Enable Captions” to watch it with English subtitles…
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From a press release:

Readers who preorder The Apex Book of World SF 2 by April 30 will get extra fiction and nonfiction, as well as a chance to read the book four months before it goes on sale through major retailers.

The special early edition, available through Apex Publications’ website, includes Nir Yaniv’s novelette “Undercity,” and Charles Tan’s essay “World SF: Our Possible Future,” in addition to the 26 short stories that will appear in the collection when it is released in August. The early edition will ship beginning April 30. NOTE: The regular release of the book in August will not contain the novelette or essay.

In addition, for only $5 more, you can receive the first volume of The Apex Book of World SF with your preorder. Use promotion code WORLDSF2USA on checkout and receive free shipping!

Let’s recap. Preorder before April 30th, get a special early edition version of the book containing an exclusive novelette and essay, receive free shipping, and for $5 more get the first volume of The Apex Book of World SF.

Edited by Lavie Tidhar, The Apex Book of World SF 2 collects works from award-winning SF writers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East. Featured authors include Will Elliot, Hannu Rajaniemi, Shweta Narayan, Lauren Beukes, Ekaterina Sedia, Nnedi Okorafor, and Andrzej Sapkowski. Several of the stories are published for the first time in English.

Preorders of the special edition can be placed here.

Apex Publications is a small press publisher dedicated to producing exemplary works of science fiction, horror, fantasy and non-fiction. Based out of Lexington, Kentucky, Apex Book Company is owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore.

MIND MELD: What Places Inspire Your Worldbuilding?

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Places. Be it distant cities, or even beyond Earth entirely, strange, unusual and beautiful places can inspire creativity and ideas for stories and novels.

Q: What places, on Earth or beyond, inspire worldbuilding in your writing? What appeals to you about them? Share!
Philippa Ballantine
New Zealand author Philippa Ballantine, is a fantasy writer and podcaster. Her novels Geist, Spectyr, Hunter and Fox and Phoenix Rising; a Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (co-written with Tee Morris) span many speculative fiction genres. Her works have won an Airship and a Sir Julius Vogel Award, and been in the Goodreads Top Science Fiction books of 2011. Her newest book will be Hunter and Fox, a Shifted World novel, from Pyr.

New Zealand has been my inspiration. Even though it is home there are still places there that I cannot get out of my mind.

Everyone thinks of New Zealand as beautiful and green, but there are places that are far different. They did film Mordor in New Zealand too!

The desert plateau right in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand is a pretty bleak, but it is full of secret rivers, volcanoes some dark and dreary, some topped by snow. Wild horses can still be found racing across the plains there. There are skree slopes that if you don’t keep running down, you’d get buried in. In other words it is beautiful and frightening…just the place for me.

It’s a place made for adventure…and consequently the final showdown in my last book of the Order, Harbinger.

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In episode 111 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester sits down to chat with author Lavie Tidhar.

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REVIEW: Going to the Moon by Lavie Tidhar

SYNOPSIS: A touching picture book about a young boy with big dreams.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: Beautiful imagery; a moving story.
CONS: The strong language is the only barrier that may keep this from being read to children.
VERDICT: Another unusual effort from a most unusual author.

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MIND MELD: Amazon’s Effect On Publishing

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Rumors surfaced recently that Amazon is contemplating opening a small brick and mortar store in Seattle to sell their ebook readers and their Amazon branded books. Couple this with Amazon’s recent foray into SF/F publishing and that got us to wondering:

Q: What effect, if any, do you think Amazon’s push into publishing, and retail, will have on the publishing industry in general, and SF/F in particular?
Lavie Tidhar
Lavie Tidhar is the author of The Bookman and sequel Camera Obscura. Other books include linked-story collection HebrewPunk, novel The Tel Aviv Dossier (with Nir Yaniv), and recent novellas Cloud Permutations and Osama. He also edited The Apex Book of World SF and runs the World SF News Blog.

It’s a difficult one to answer. I think Amazon is often seen as being responsible for the change in how books are sold/published, while it would be more accurate to see it as a product of that change. That it is currently the biggest, most successful model does not mean it would be one ten or twenty years from now, nor will it be the only major player.

I think there is plenty of room for traditional publishers, even while they struggle with the changing landscape of bookselling. That we are facing a shrinking presence of physical bookshops is undeniable – the question is where the next big online presence will come from.

I suspect we’ll be seeing partly the emergence of boutique sellers – in genre we can see the buds of such a move with specialist shops like Wizard’s Tower Books and Weightless Books – and at the same time the rise of other giant retail outlets like Amazon. Certainly big publishes are all backed by major corporate players, so we might see something from that direction.

The market is changing so rapidly, I think it’s pretty much everyone’s field at the moment – perhaps already being put into action in someone’s basement – or, alternatively, a boardroom.
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TOC: ‘The Apex Book of World SF 2′ edited by Lavie Tidhar

Lavie Tidhar has posted the cover and table of contents to the Apex Book of World SF 2.

An expedition to an alien planet; Lenin rising from the dead; a superhero so secret he does not exist; in The Apex Book of World SF 2, World Fantasy Award nominated editor Lavie Tidhar brings together a unique collection of stories from around the world. Quiet horror from Cuba and Australia; surrealist fantasy from Russia and epic fantasy from Poland; near-future tales from Mexico and Finland, or cyberpunk from South Africa: in this anthology one gets a glimpse of the complex and fascinating world of genre fiction – from all over our world. Featuring work from noted international authors such as Will Elliot, Hannu Rajaniemi, Shweta Narayan, Lauren Bukes, Ekaterina Sedia, Nnedi Okorafor, and Andrzej Sapkowski.

Here’s the table of contents:
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“We do not have an ideal world, such as we would like, where morality is easy because cognition is easy. Where one can do right with no effort because he can detect the obvious.”

- Philip K. Dick,The Man in the High Castle

Last week I charged myself with a sizeable task: to discuss Lavie Tidhar’s Osama in dialogue with two significant SF novels of the 20th-century: Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle and Joanna Russ’ The Female Man. I had also aspired to write about two recent short fictions as well, but after re-reading Dick and Russ I realized that I had more than enough to talk about. So this week I will sketch out some resonances that crossed my mind in the reading of these novels, and how this thinking has changed my perception of Tidhar’s novel. In the process of doing this I want to consider the novum they share and how these books simultaneously utilize and question it.

All three novels emerge from a common SF novum, that of the existence of alternate, parallel realities. Now, all fictions posit some sort of different world; every novel is on some level framing and positing its own actuality. Each work of fiction generates an understanding of the world and, in doing so, creates a subjective conception of “the real” from which its story proceeds, a context for the reader to identify. While all fictions create this effect, some do more than shift the world a touch in one fictive direction an imaginary town, an infallible detective, an improbably romance on the moors). Fantastic literature embraces and intensifies the break, sometimes by creating a completely distinct other-world, sometimes by hypothesizing a future arising from the combination of “our” present with some innovation or event. In the case of these three novels, a more complex middle ground is created, of other worlds that directly relate to ours in some way but that are not speculations of where we might go or discrete secondary worlds. These three novels explore parallels and alternatives to what we the readers understand as our shared history and reality.
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VIDEO REVIEW: The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

Sci-Fi Songwriter John Anealio reviews The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

See also: Lavie Tidhar interviewed at SF Signal (here and here) and on The Functional Nerds Podcast.

[Lavie Tidhar is the author of The Bookman, released this week in the UK, and the forthcoming sequel Camera Obscura. Other books include the linked-story collection HebrewPunk, the novel The Tel Aviv Dossier (with Nir Yaniv), the novella An Occupation of Angels and several forthcoming novels and novellas including Cloud Permutations, Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God and Martian Sands. He also edited The Apex Book of World SF and runs the World SF News Blog.]

Several years ago, my friend (and now my agent) John, and I, tried to pitch around the idea of a steampunk anthology. We’re both big fans – we actually met due to being somewhat-obsessive Tim Powers collectors – but every time we mentioned the idea to a publisher the response was the same: “Steampunk doesn’t sell.”

Cue several years later: Ann and Jeff Vandermeer’s Steampunk anthology came out (with a second volume in the works), as did Nick Gevers’ Extraordinary Engines, and suddenly steampunk appears to be everywhere – even in the pages of The New York Times. There’s steampunk fashion, and steampunk interior design, steampunk gaming and steampunk music and steampunk conventions and steampunk blogs and steampunk art – and it’s truly international, with a recent anthology of Brazilian steampunk and a recent German convention…

And I have to ask: what happened?

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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT 5/5: The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

This week, SF Signal is running a 5-part excerpt of Lavie Tidhar‘s upcoming steampunk novel, The Bookman.

What’s it about?

A masked terrorist has brought London to its knees – there are bombs inside books, and nobody knows which ones. On the day of the launch of the first expedition to Mars, by giant cannon, he outdoes himself with an audacious attack. For young poet Orphan, trapped in the screaming audience, it seems his destiny is entwined with that of the shadowy terrorist, but how? Like a steam-powered take on V for Vendetta, rich with satire and slashed through with automatons, giant lizards, pirates, airships and wild adventure, The Bookman is the first of a series.

Be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 then continue here to see the final part below…

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