January 21st, 2005


"Riding the White Bull"

Yesterday, I learned that my sf story "Riding the White Bull," which first appeared in Argosy #1 last year, has been chosen by Gardner Dozois for The Year's Best Science Fiction (twenty-second annual collection). With this I am tremendously pleased. Indeed, I think it pleases me more than much of anything has pleased me in a long, long time. I love that story deeply, and there's a certain guilty satisfaction that comes with seeing your favoured children succeed in the Big, Scary World. My thanks to Lou Anders for asking me to do a story for Argosy.

I did a very satisfactory 1,358 words on Chapter Two of Daughter of Hounds yesterday. It looks as though I'll finish with this chapter by Sunday evening. At that point, I'm taking a couple of days off to rest and do a few things around the house. And figure out exactly what's going to be happening in Chapter Three, in which, I suppose, we return to Emmie Silvey. Finishing the scene yesterday was an odd sort of challenge. It strayed into what I consider rather erotic territory, though I suspect that many readers won't see it that way. It's a place that my writing doesn't usually go, not consciously, and it just happened. And I let it. It was right. There will be feminist readers who hate me for that scene (though I am a feminist myself, they'll hate me, anyway), with its somewhat brutal treatment of subjugation and humiliation visited upon one woman by another. But I think I'm happy with it, and I no longer apologize for things that please me. It was a small miracle that I wrote so much yesterday, hounded as I was with distractions. A conversation with my doctor. Trying to reach my editor at Penguin. Trying to reach someone else at Penguin. E-mails to my lit agent and to Marvel. Signing a veritable mountain of eBay books so Spooky could mail them out (no, seriously, a mountain). And so forth. I think my office door needs a lock, and I think I need to stop answering the phone and checking my e-mail when I'm trying to write.

We got a couple of new things up on eBay, including a lot of three anthologies including stories by me. Please have a look.

I've begun Mike Ashley's biography of Blackwood, Starlight Man: The Extraordinary Life of Algernon Blackwood. It looks as though it will be very good. Ashley writes, "It seems such a shame that Blackwood and so many of his contemporaries no longer light fires in people's memories. Yet in their day they were the stars that brought light and life and fascination to the world." It struck me odd, to think that there are people who do not know the work of Algernon Blackwood. It struck me odd and sad, and I suppose the truth is that most people don't. His writing, especially "The Willows," has been a major influence. I think this showed in Threshold more than it has shown anywhere else.

Though the probe might now sit dead in a field of Titanian ice and mud, the wonders from Huygens continue to unfold. What a world we have found, and we have hardly touched the surface, much less scratched it. I could stare at this photo for hours:

Oh, and there was all that pomp and circumstance and idiotic commotion about Lord Bush being allowed to keep the keys to the kingdom for another four years. The inaugural noise covered the clank of dark machineries quite nicely, I thought. Hardly anyone noticed the sweet, contemptuous smirk he wore for the occassion, least of all the grinning pinheads who re-elected him. But, make no mistake, it was meant for them, in particular. No one much noticed the shadows or portents, either. We all know portents are usually invisible, except, of course, in hindsight. He's gonna change the world, kiddos. He gonna set us all free, or you'll die trying.
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