Days of Frenzy

by wjw on September 21, 2017

I had a lovely time traveling this summer, but I knew I was going to pay for it later.  And by later, I mean now.

I’m working on a number of things more or less simultaneously.  Promoting Quillifer!, which will be released on October 3.  Doing an online sale of Voice of the Whirlwind, which (unfortunately) sort of crowds onto Quillifer! since it starts on October 5.  Preparing a paperback release of Voice of the Whirlwind, which I hope to have ready by the time the sale starts, just in case readers might prefer a $12 paperback to a $0.99 ebook.  (Call me optimistic.)

I’m also working on Praxis VI, which I’m hoping to deliver within a month, and trying to get the Dagmar series available in e-formats, which involves a surprising amount of very detailed work along with commissioning art.

Plus there’s a music festival this weekend, and I’m flying to Michigan to address a philosophy class on Monday.  (Yeah!  I know!  I’m tight with Spinoza, Hegel an’ them!)

Oh and yes, trying to get the old Little, Brown ebooks of the Dagmar series off Amazon, because even though I’ve got the rights back, those books are still available.  Which is deeply annoying.

And speaking of annoying, Comcast took down both Internet and my ground line all damn day, and calling the robots at Comcast did absolutely no good, until (after a whole damn day of this) I managed to talk to an actual person, who fixed my problem in no time.

Color me frantic!  So much to do, so little time.

Just pass me the Red Bull, man, and get out of my way.

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First Review

by wjw on September 19, 2017

Quillifer_comp_medMy new novel, Quillifer, has received its first review, or at least the first review that anyone’s bothered to tell me about.  From Publishers Weekly:

09/11/2017
In this sprawling, lively episodic adventure, Williams (Angel Station) returns to his swashbuckling historical fantasy roots while exploring new territory. Eighteen-year-old Quillifer, a butcher’s son and legal apprentice, lives a life of ease and pleasure in the city of Ethlebight, in the fictional realm of Duisland. When Ethlebight is sacked by a foreign fleet and his family is killed, Quillifer embarks on a journey that encompasses bandits, illicit affairs, royal intrigue, and civil war. The primary magical element is a (sometimes frustratingly) capricious nymph who frees Quillifer from captivity. Quillifer’s wit and cleverness get him into almost as much trouble as they get him out of, but well-placed friends and plenty of good luck serve him well. The setting often feels more like a thinly disguised version of medieval Europe than a truly original world, but Williams excels at setting up conflicts and other entanglements, skillfully maneuvering Quillifer across the landscape and into increasingly engrossing situations. (Oct.)

Replace “medieval” with “Tudor” and I can’t disagree (much).

Quillifer’s official release date is October 3.  You can pre-order it at your friendly local bookstore, or find it at AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogleiBooks, and Kobo.

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Pleasantry

by wjw on September 17, 2017

IMG_1033Hope you’re all having a pleasant weekend, doing pleasant weekend-like things.  Like sailing.

This isn’t my boat, unfortunately, but I snapped its picture during my Northern jaunt, as it sailed past a bastion of Suomenlinna, also known as Sveaborg, the gigantic island fortress outside Helsinki harbor.  Despite being known as the Gibraltar of the North, the fortress was the site of a number of military disasters that culminated in its surrender to the Russians.  It didn’t do so well for the Russians, either.

The fortress survives in its beautiful setting, and is now demilitarized and full of tourists.  It also has at least one first-rate restaurant, where I had a very fine lunch.  Unfortunately nobody offered me a ride in a sailboat.

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Two Views Toward Heaven

by wjw on September 15, 2017

IMG_1091Looking back on my summer of travel, I found these photos of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.  Commissioned by Alexander I, the cathedral took 40 years to build, and produced a saying in Finnish: “Rakentaa kuin Iisakin kirkkoa,” “to build like Isaac’s Church,” meaning to take forever to complete some vast, ungainly, overdesigned project.

Like St. Petersburg, the building of which cost the lives of tens of thousands of serfs, St. Isaac’s is build on the bodies of its workers: 60 alone died from mercury poisoning while gilding the dome.  No doubt they died willingly, and are now rejoicing in Heaven.

IMG_1099Everything inside is slathered with ornament: gold leaf, frescoes, precious marbles, bronze doors, huge pillars of red granite and malachite.  As is usual with Orthodox churches, there are no freestanding statues inside (a remnant of the Iconoclastic Controversy), but there are plenty of angels and whatnot on the exterior.

The church cost 1,000,000 gold rubles, a fabulous sum for the time, much of it spent on ornament.  The building is so over-ornamented that it verges on bad taste, and the only thing I’ve seen to compare is St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, which seemed to me less a church than God’s Football Stadium.

I found the frescoes to be an uneasy mixture of Byzantine and Western styles, as if Rafael had taken up painting ikons.  It didn’t work for me.

There was a service going on in one of the side chapels while I was there.  The choral singing was nothing short of magnificent, and the small devout crowd knew the words and joined in.  If I were to be converted to Orthodoxy, it would be the singing that would do it, not the lashings of gold.  The service itself featured a lot of bowing and kissing of the Scriptures, rather repetitious.

A few days later we dined at Gastronomika, a trendy fusion restaurant, the sort that serves tom yum, borscht, Texas-style BBQ, and pizza all on the same menu.  Gastronomika is on the roof of Gazprom, a striking modern glass cathedral dedicated to the extraction and sale of natural gas. The restaurant is essentially across the street from St. Isaac’s, and put us on the same level as the golden dome and the gilded angels guarding it.

I don’t remember my meal, except that it was expensive and I enjoyed it, but I remember the view, and the golden angels glowing in the light of the sun that, in July, hardly set at all.

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The Triumph of Virtue

by wjw on September 14, 2017

DOZOIS_BoS_800x800-CaThe Book of Swords, edited by Gardner Dozois and with my story “The Triumph of Virtue,” is now available for pre-order.  You can order the book at your favorite local bookstore, or via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or (for ebook only) Google, Kobo, or iBooks.  The release date is October 10, but why wait?

You might actually want to have a hardback of this, because of who’s in the table of contents.  Me, certainly, but also George RR Martin with a new Ice and Fire story, plus  Robin Hobb, Ken Liu, CJ Cherryh, Kate Eliot, Elizabeth Bear, Daniel Abraham, and Many, Many More.

My own story, “The Triumph of Virtue,” is adapted from a few chapters of my forthcoming novel Quillifer, itself available on October 4.  Since Quillifer is a book with a fairly tangled plot, the adaptation ended up being far from straightforward— I had to chop a lot of material that didn’t have to do directly with the excerpted story, shift the cast of characters, alter emphasis here and there, and make the ending more, well, more different.

Reading the two side-by-side would be instructive for anyone needing instruction in that sort of thing.

But in the meantime, feel free to pre-order the book.  Because It Is There, and Awesome.

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Criminals?

September 12, 2017

So . . . the credit rating agency Equifax suffered a data breach that allowed criminals to gain access to the personal details of 143 million people, including names and social security numbers.  All anyone would need to perpetrate massive acts of identity theft. But that doesn’t mean their top executives can’t make a few […]

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The Voynich Manuscript—- Solved?

September 9, 2017

My introduction to the Voynich Manuscript came in the Chaosium RPG Call of Cthulhu, in which it was presented as an item that could (1) increase your knowledge of the occult, while (2) blasting your sanity.  Oops! Despite its appearance in an RPG and the works of Lovecraft, Colin Wilson, and others, the Voynich Manuscript is […]

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Kiss of Fire

September 7, 2017

This classic tango was playing in my head all morning.  I don’t know why, maybe I was stalking a pantheress or something. Anyway, here’s Gaby Moreno, Hugh Laurie, and the Copper-Bottom Band doing “Kiss of Fire.”  You’ve probably heard this song all your life without knowing its name, and now you do.

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Veyshnoria, My Veyshnoria

September 4, 2017

The other day Belarus and their Russian allies declared war on three fictional countries.  But now one of the countries seems a little less fictional. As part of a joint military exercise taking place later this month, Belarus and Russia are mobilizing against three enemies: Vesbaria and Lubenia (strangely resembling Lithuania and Poland), along with Veyshnoria, […]

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Let There Be Chat

September 1, 2017

Live from Helsinki!  (Okay, so it’s slightly delayed.)  It’s the Hugo-nominated Coode Street Podcast, in which I am interviewed by Gary Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, and Hugo-nominated Toolboxer Kelly Robson. We’re talking mostly about my next book, Quillifer! I had enormous fun with this interview, and I hope you can hear that.

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