Laura Resnick

PC Monsters of Genre: Collect Them All!

A week or two back, someone started a Twitter account called SFWA Fascists, dedicated to attacking the “screeching feminist witches” who are destroying the natural order — not to mention RUINING science fiction and fantasy — in the name of their twisted PC ideology.

The account itself is mostly spittle and flailing, but the creators also posted a list of the PC Monsters of SFWA (which they then renamed PC C**ts of SFWA, because I guess Monsters was too classy). These are the people deemed to be “immoral, vicious, manipulative snakes.”

DL Thurston has a copy of the list here.

Interestingly enough, people on the SFWA Fascist Enemies List reported suddenly gaining new followers, some as many as 50 to 100 in a few days.

Watching people use this list as a suggestion for “Who to follow on Twitter” made me happy. And because I was putting off working on the book one afternoon, I decided it would be fun to create PC Monster of Genre cards to go with it. (Note: All of these were made with the permission and blessing of the subjects.)

I started with myself, to celebrate my inclusion on the list. As of today, I’ve done cards for 7 of the 16 list members.

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Open Book Thread

I’ve fallen behind in book reviews, so I’m going to do a multibook post, starting with Mainspring [B&N |  Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon], by Jay Lake.  Lake envisions a clockwork universe where the Earth orbits the sun on a great track, with an equatorial gear twenty miles wide … and the Mainspring of the world is winding down.  Apprentice clockmaker Hethor Jacques must find the Key Perilous and rewind the Earth’s mainspring.

I loved the “What if?” of this book, the central idea and the exploration of how a clockwork universe would work, both the mechanics and the implications for the inhabitants of that world, their beliefs and ideas.  (Though I still don’t understand how such a world would have seasons.)  The characters … Hethor took a while to grow on me.  And there’s an underlying noble savage thing going on with the southern “correct people” that makes me uncomfortable.  Overall, I think the idea was stronger than the story, but the story wasn’t bad, and the idea was fascinating.  I’m interested in checking out Escapement, the sequel.

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Next up is MythOS [B&N |  Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon], by Kelly McCullough.  This is the fourth of McCullough’s books about magical hacker Ravirn/Raven and his webgoblin Melchior.  I’ve enjoyed this series a lot.  They’re fast-paced, interesting, page-turners with just the right amount of humor.  Or maybe I just have a weakness for all things goblin.

This time around Raven finds himself in an alternate universe, one which runs on a Norse mythology OS instead of the Greek system he’s used to.  It’s an interesting switch, and livens up the series as Raven gets drawn into new conflicts and has to figure out a whole new system of magic.  The second book remains my favorite, but I’d put this one as runner up.

This is the fourth book in a series.  If you liked the others, you’ll like this one.  If you didn’t, why are you still reading the series?  Really, people…

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I mentioned Laura Resnick‘s Doppelgangster [B&N |  Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] in her First Book Friday post — this is book two in a series that started with a Luna title, then jumped to DAW.  You can tell it’s a second book, but Doppelgangster stands alone pretty well.  The most fascinating thing to me about this book is that it’s urban fantasy in which the protagonist is pure human.  No magic, no mixed genetics, no nothing.  That’s something I haven’t seen much of, and I enjoyed it.

Esther Diamond is a struggling actress and waitress in New York.  Her restaurant gig happens to be a popular mobster hangout, and the mobsters are starting to die from magical means.  Diamond and her friend Max the Magician need to figure out what’s going on and stop it.  To complicate things, her potential boyfriend Lopez is also a New York detective — and he doesn’t believe in magic.  The mobsters sometimes felt a little over-the-top, but overall it was a fun adventure.

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Finally, there’s Dog Days [B&N |  Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] by John Levitt.  Our hero Mason is a gifted magician, though he appears to lack the discipline to fulfill his potential.  He’s currently making a living as a jazz magician.  More importantly, he has a magical companion named Louie, an ifrit who takes the form of a small dog.  For everyone who’s gotten tired of fantasy authors and their cat-loving ways, this is the book for you.

The magic system was fairly loose and undefined, but this worked with Mason’s improvisational style, which fits well with his jazz background.  But that may not be enough when a powerful enemy decides he wants Mason dead, for reasons that would spoil the whole book if I shared them.  I appreciated the mystery and revelation, though the bad guy felt a bit flat.  But sometimes evil, nasty villains make for fun reading.  Plus, magic dog!

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So there’s some of what I’ve been reading over the past few months.  What about you?  If you’ve read any of these, what did you think?  If you’ve been reading something else, feel free to share.  I need to build up my wish list for the holidays 🙂

First Book Friday: Laura Resnick

Welcome to First Book Friday, an ongoing series exploring how various authors sold their first books.

Laura Resnick is the only author I’ve met whose series spans two two different publishers.  Her Esther Diamond series started with Disappearing Nightly at Luna, but she switched over to DAW with Doppelgangster, Unsympathetic Magic, and the upcoming Vamparazzi.  She’s written both fantasy and romance, hit several Year’s Best lists, and picked up a Campbell award to boot.

Her bio states that, growing up, she swore the one thing she would never pursue was the “godawful lifestyle” of the writer.  You can see how well that worked out…

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In 1987, I was 24 years old and living in Sicily without a telephone or television; my early exposure to email was still about five years away, and it would be nearly a decade before I saw a web page for the first time. That year, I read a book called How To Write A Romance And Get It Published by Kathryn Falk, the publisher of Romantic Times Magazine; and I decided to try it.

I wrote my fiction by hand in notebooks, then I typed the final version on a manual typewriter. I could only bang out about ten pages at a time on that thing before my fingers hurt too much to continue. So as far as I was concerned, once something was typed, it was set in stone. Consequently, I did all my rewriting, revising, honing, polishing, and proofreading by hand; and then I typed v-e-r-y carefully.

Having grown up in a writer’s house (my dad is science fiction writer Mike Resnick), I knew that the single most common difference between professional writers and never-published aspirants is certainly not luck, and it’s not even talent; it’s perseverance. So I decided that I would complete six novels before I considered quitting, and I hoped that I’d get enough constructive feedback in the rejections on my first three books to help me make my next three novels more marketable.

After I completed two books, the next phase of my plan in that pre-internet era required me to go to Rome, more than 600 miles away. The nearest copy of Writers Market was at an English-language library there. After photocopying the pages I needed from that book, I went back to Palermo (well, okay, after some sight-seeing and revelry in the Eternal City), where I started sending queries to agents and proposals to publishers via trans-Atlantic mail.

The dozen literary agents whom I queried all rejected me. However, a newly-hired editorial assistant at Silhouette Books (a division of Harlequin Enterprises, the biggest romance publisher in the world) wanted to get promoted up to assistant editor. And the best way to do that was to find something in the slushpile of 6,000 unsolicited submissions that year which Silhouette could buy and publish. She found my proposal for a book called One Sultry Summer, thought it was just the ticket, and requested the full MS from me. I sent it (which cost a fortune from Sicily), and she started the long process of passing it up through the hierarchy of people whose approval is needed before a house acquires a new author.

During the 11 months that this was going on, I completed my third MS and started work on my fourth. I also moved back to the US, where I got a phone—but not an answering machine. One day, to my surprise, I received a Federal Express letter from Silhouette Books. They’d been trying to reach me by phone without success. They hoped this letter would find me—and if it did, I should call them immediately, because they wanted to make an offer on One Sultry Summer [B&N |  Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] , and they wanted to see any other MSs I had that might be suitable for Silhouette.

The editorial assistant who had discovered me did indeed get promoted. However, Silhouette didn’t want to assign a first-time writer to a first-time editor, so I was assigned to someone more experienced. (And within six months, I would already be on my third editor there… but that’s a story about staying in the business, rather than breaking into it.)

I learned a lot about my craft while writing books for Silhouette; and I sold a few romances to other houses, too. But I eventually left romance and switched to writing fantasy—where my then-agent and then-editor insisted on referring to me as a “new” and “first-time” author, though I had previously sold fourteen (romance) novels. So I guess switching genres is one way to keep the bloom forever fresh on your damask cheek.

Jim C. Hines