Inverted Soup Bowl

by wjw on April 17, 2019

IMG_0191Tonight’s sunshower sunset.


Soldier of Arete

by wjw on April 16, 2019

Gene_Wolfe,_2005Alas.  According to multiple sources Gene Wolfe has died at the age of 87 in his Illinois home.

I’ve been on a mini-binge of Gene’s books lately, mostly recently Home Fires, and I think the mini-binge will have to continue.

I admired Gene’s plain, clear style, which was an ideal surface beneath which to hide the machinations of his unreliable narrators, and to gracefully unwind his diabolically complicated plots.

(Not that all his unreliable narrators were deliberately trying to deceive.  Some just weren’t very bright, or had limited access to information.  One was dead.  Latro in the Soldier series lost his memory every time he went to sleep.  The point was that, for whatever reason, readers couldn’t fully trust the stories they were being told, and had to navigate Wolfe’s terrain with eyes open, just as his narrators did.)

And sometimes the readers were better informed than the characters were.  If you were paying attention, you’d know that Patera Silk in the Long Sun series had been enlightened by the God of Abraham.  Silk consorts with publicans and sinners, has a relationship with a prostitute, Hyacinth, and has an obligation to save the world, or at any rate the Whorl.  But he manages to sideslip the fate that is intended for him, marries Hyacinth, and slip-slides away to, apparently, live happily ever after.

Gene became a Catholic in order to wed Rosemary, but he must have had an unconventional view of his own religion.  The Long Sun books could be read as a long allegory of the Gnostic Heresy, for example.  (Not that this should deter you from reading the books, which are Gene’s masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned.)

In person Gene was amiable and erudite and willing to be amusing, though he also had a steely temper that would sometimes flare (though I never witnessed it in person).   He’d fought in Korea and also boxed— Gene and I once compared our boxing scars.  (Well, mine weren’t boxing scars, they were inflicted by a martial artist wearing boxing gloves, so they should count..)  Gene got his scars during the same bout, and so had I (though in my case it was supposed to be practice).

And Gene could be inspiring, sometimes when he wasn’t intending to be.  During a convention panel about workshops, when listening to Gene, the entire plot of Aristoi unfolded in my head, as if I were Patera Silk being enlightened by the Outsider.  I have no memory of what Gene was saying, except that I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about Aristoi.

Harlan Ellison said of Gene that he was “engaged in the holy chore of writing every other author under the table.”  A chore at which he succeeded, and mightily.


Metropolitan for the Masses

by wjw on April 11, 2019


My novel Metropolitan is now on sale for $0.99, or for whatever $0.99 is worth in your local currency.  The ebook may be found at the following online retailers:

 AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwords, Apple, Google, Kobo

[NOTE: the price has not yet dropped on Kobo, but it should.  Very soon now.  Really.]

I’m stupidly proud of this book, and I think that if any of my works is remembered 100 years from now, it will probably be this one.

Here’s your night’s blurb:

NOMINATED FOR A NEBULA AWARD. Walter Jon Williams’ classic science fantasy Metropolitan is once again available for a new generation of readers.

Aiah has fought her way from poverty and discovered a limitless source of plasm, the mysterious substance that powers the world-city. Her discovery soon involves her with Constantine, the charismatic, dangerous, seductive revolutionary who plans to overthrow, not simply the government, but the cosmic order . . .

“A spectacular blend of fantastic science, high politics, and low intrigue . . . Williams’s world and characters are richly imagined yet utterly real.”
–Melissa Scott

“Entertaining . . . Williams understands that science fiction can breathe life into language . . . [His] writing is always lean, lively and engaging.
—New York Times Book Review

“Blends SF aspects with noir stylings to create a potent atmosphere or urban dystopia . . . Ever the expert storyteller, Williams provides more than enough suspense.”
—Publishers Weekly


No Longer Anonymous

by wjw on April 9, 2019

City on Fire-Audio-CoverFriend of the blog Anonymous— I presume not the entire hacker collective— tells me that the audio book of City on Fire is available!

Go forth and listen!

(While checking to see where I could find the book, I discovered that the reader reviews of City on Fire on Amazon all properly belong to a more recent book of the same title by one Garth Risk Hallberg.  I have asked Amazon to put Mr. Hallberg’s reviews in the proper place and to find the ones belonging to me.  [I got more stars than he did.])



by wjw on April 4, 2019

This year I am once again in Portales, NM, the cultural capital of the Llano Estecado, for the Jack Williamson Lectureship.  The usual gang of fun-lovers is here, including Connie, Courtney, and Cordelia Willis, Toolbox survivors Sheila Hartney and Lauren Teffeau, Emily Mah, Sarena Ulibarri, and many others.

Cordelia, who works in a crime lab in California, gave a talk this afternoon about DNA genealogy, which had me wishing I was a crime fiction writer, just so I could use all the cool information.

Stay tuned.  See you after the weekend.


Toolbox Nominees!

April 2, 2019

Once again Hugo voters have inexplicably failed to recognize my greatness, but I’m very pleased to note that they have recognized the greatness of a number of veterans of Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy. Kelly Robson got a novella nomination for “God, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.” Simone Heller received […]

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Microsoft Hurts Kitten!

March 30, 2019

Microsoft continues their slide down the slippery slope into security work by going after the Iranian hacking group Charming Kitten, also known as Ajax, Phosphorous, and APT35.  They’ve successfully petitioned a court to take over the group’s 99 domains, which were used in spear-phishing attacks on journalists and dissidents. Last summer, they also took down a […]

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“Black as the Pit From Pole to Pole!”

March 27, 2019

I have lately been enjoying some examples of black humor, which may confirm my moral depravity the eyes of some of you, but if so I think you’re wrong.  According to Wylie Sypher, black comedy strengthens the oppressed and damages the morale of the oppressors.  “To be able to laugh at evil and error means […]

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March 21, 2019

Apparently I brought a souvenir home from ICFA, to-wit: the common cold. It’s mild as colds go.  I function normally for a while, and then I have to cough and sneeze for five minutes, and then I’m okay again. Hope I don’t run out of Sudafed.

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Sunder Yourself!

March 17, 2019

I’ve spent most of the last week with colleagues at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, which involved basking by the pool in the balmy Florida weather, enjoying the hospitality of the hotel bar, and a number of excursions to local restaurants. I believe some mention was now and again made of […]

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