A new Florida law redefines the reach of beachfront property owners' claims to "the land above the mean high-tide level." This seemingly innocuous change means that private property owners -- and their patrolling rent-a-cops -- will have vastly expanded powers to kick members of the public off of public beaches.
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Steven Brust is a literary treasure
and his longrunning Vlad Taltos series
, now nearing its final volume, is a good example of where his strengths lie: hardboiled plotting, snappy dialog, weirdly realistic and plausible depictions of magic, and a sensitive eye for power relationships and their depiction, all of which are on display in his latest, outstanding novel, Good Guys
, about the minimum-wage sorcerers who investigate magical crimes on behalf of a secret society.
I have been reading Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos novels since I was a pre-teen and singing their praises on Boing Boing since 2006
, and with the occasion of the publication of Vallista
, the fifteenth and nearly final volume in the series, I want to spend some time explaining to you why goddamnit you should really consider reading 15 books, get caught up, and finish this sucker with me, because if there was any justice in this world, the Vlad books would have a following to shame The Dark Tower at its peak.
Glenn Greenwald frames what I've been trying to articulate: as neoliberalism and its handmaiden, corruption, have swept the globe, making the rich richer, the poor poorer, and everyone in the middle more precarious; as elites demonized and dismissed the left-behinds who said something was wrong; as the social instability of inequality has been countered with increasingly invasive domestic "war on terror" policing, millions of people are ready to revolt, and will support anyone who promises no more business as usual. Read the rest
Laurie Penny weighs in with an important addition to the discussion about privilege and pain, making the important point that privilege is not the absence of pain, discrimination or hellish conditions -- but that doesn't mean that the nerds who suffered through school bullying are without it. Read the rest
Steven Brust and Skyler White's The Incrementalists is a spectacular new contemporary fantasy novel about an immortal cabal of dysfunctional do-gooders who use their subtle, near-wizardly powers of persuasion to alter the course of history, and change bodies by implanting their memories into the bodies of successors chosen from the population at large.
Though I'm new to Skyler White, I am a gigantic fan of Steven Brust, and this book was an absolute home-run for me. Thematically, it's close to The Sun, the Moon and the Stars -- to my mind, his great, neglected masterpiece -- in its philosophical depth, emotional range, and sense of deep, fabled magic. But the collaboration with White is extremely fruitful: the authors trade off writing from different points-of-view within chapters, providing a glimpse of the godhead-like group mind of the Incrementalists themselves. After the first couple of switches, I stopped trying to guess who was writing what -- it felt like a style that was neither Brust's, nor White's, but a superior hybrid of both. Read the rest
There's a new special-edition audiobook of Welcome to Bordertown, the YA reboot of the amazing, classic urban fantasy shared-world anthologies that practically invented the genre. The special edition includes lots of new material, such as Neil Gaiman's reading of his poem "The Song of the Song" and Steven Brust fronting a musical version of his "Run Back Across the Border" -- there's lots more, and its all available as a DRM-free MP3CD.
I grew up on the Bordertown books and was delighted to be asked to contribute a story: Shannon's Law. Read the rest
Steven Brust nails what it feels like after you send a book in to your editor:
It has now been over an hour since I sent my [email/query/story submission/250 thousand word novel] and I have heard nothing. Nothing. I now understand Lee’s frustration at Gettysburg when Stuart didn’t show up. Has there been a fire? Has someone died? If so, I’d think you could at least drop me a note explaining the delay. It is almost as if there are things you do that don’t involve me. In fact, I could almost believe that I am not the most important person in the world to you. No, I don’t accuse you of that; but can you see how you might be giving that impression?
Have you considered what would happen if everyone behaved the way you are? I would have to learn deferred gratification. And, as you know, deferred gratification is a slippery slope that can lead to me not getting everything I want.
An Open Letter To My Editor Read the rest
Inspired by some of the more pathological behaviors on display in the comment section of John Scalzi's blog Whatever, author Steven Brust has created a doggerel epic entitled "John Scalzi’s Blog." Here's a sample:
I’ve done my work for the day,
I’ve twittered random shit.
I’ve whined about immigration;
And I’m sure I displayed my wit.
I’ve drunk my supper, watched some porn,
And even fed the dog.
Now it’s time to be an idiot on John Scalzi’s blog.
He’s the president of SFWA
His comment strings are long.
Lots of people pay attention,
SO I HAVE TO PROVE HIM WRONG!
He wouldn’t dare delete my words,
Or the comment chain I’ll clog.
So I’m free to be an idiot on John Scalzi’s blog.
John Scalzi’s Blog Read the rest
Bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss has pledged to help actor Nathan Fillion buy the rights to Firefly from Fox. Fillion, who starred in the series, has publicly said that if he had the money to get Firefly back from Murdoch and Co, he'd make it free and release it on the net:
Here's the deal. My second book is about to come out. My publisher tells me there's a decent chance of us selling a truly ridiculous number of copies. If this happens, I will have more money than I'll know what to do with.
Except that's not exactly true. I know exactly what I'd like to do with that money. I'd like to help you buy the rights to Firefly back from Fox.
I'm only a fledgling author. But by a strange twist of fate, I happen to be a fledgling author who is also an international bestseller.
Left to my own devices, I will probably spend my royalty money on useless bullshit. I will buy rare books and narwhal horns. If the book sells extremely well, I expect I'll probably do something like buy an abandoned missile silo and convert it into my secret underground lair.
An open letter to Nathan Fillion
Copyright protects critics, but leaves fans out in the cold ...
Steven Brust's unauthorized Firefly fanfic novel - Boing Boing
Firefly fans trying to raise enough dough to produce a new season ... Read the rest
Growing up, some of my absolute favorite books were the Borderlands anthologies -- shared-world stories set in a ficton in which the realm of faerie has returned to Earth, in a city called Bordertown where elves and humans mixed freely and magic and technology worked erratically. These were the precursor of today's urban fantasy, and they were brilliant, bohemian escapist literature that has stood up to many re-readings over the years.
So I was incredibly excited when Holly Black and Ellen Kushner invited me to contribute a story to Welcome to Bordertown, the first Borderlands book in decades. This is a young adult volume, and I wrote a story for it called "Shannon's Law," about Bordertown's first hacker, who decides to use TCP over Carrier Pigeon to route a packet through the Border and break the information singularity that divides the two realities.
Now Holly and Ellen have published the full table of contents to Welcome, which will be out next May 24, from Random House. I've read most of these stories, and let me tell you, you're in for a treat.
Introduction - Terri Windling
Introduction - Holly Black
Bordertown Basics (Letter from the Diggers)
Welcome to Bordertown - Terri Windling & Ellen Kushner
Shannon's Law - Cory Doctorow
Cruel Sister (poem) - Patricia A. McKillip
Voice Like a Hole - Catherynne M. Valente
Stairs in Her Hair (song*) - Amal El-Mohtar
Incunabulum - Emma Bull
Run Back to the Border (song) - Steven Brust
Prince of Thirteen Days - Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Sages of Elsewhere - Will Shetterly
Soulja Grrrl: A Long Line Rap (song) - Jane Yolen
Crossings - Janni Lee Simner
Fair Trade (Comic) - Sara Ryan & Dylan Meconis
Lullabye: Night Song for a Halfie (song) - Jane Yolen
Our Stars, Our Selves - Tim Pratt
Elf Blood - Annette Curtis Klause
The Wall (poem) - Delia Sherman
Ours is the Prettiest - Nalo Hopkinson
We Do Not Come in Peace - Christopher Barzak
A Borderland Jump-Rope Rhyme (poem) - Jane Yolen
The Rowan Gentleman - Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
The Song of the Song (song) - Neil Gaiman
A Tangle of Green Men - Charles de Lint
WELCOME TO BORDERTOWN Table of Contents Read the rest
Fish is Popular Science writer Gregory Mone's debut young adult novel. It's a short, quick, immensely fun pirate novel about treasure hunting, questioning authority, and coming of age.
Maurice "Fish" Reidy is sent to Dublin at the age of 11 when his family's farm-horse dies; he's to earn the money to buy a new one by working for his mysterious uncle as a courier. Quickly, Fish -- so-called because of his facility for swimming -- finds himself robbed (and then conscripted!) by a crew of pirates, where his adventures begin in earnest.
As one of the few kids on board the ship, Fish is in constant danger of inadvertently offending one of its many factions -- the hungry Scalawags for Sausage, the maimed One-Eyed Willies, the taciturn Over-and-Unders, and the terrifying and mutinous unnamed faction that is bossed by the cruel first mate, Scar.
As the Scurvy Mistress sails the seas, Fish learns the art of nonviolent fighting, helps to solve a damned clever treasure-map riddle, and finds himself square in the middle of the battle for control over the Scurvy Mistress.
Chock full of real historic curiosities about pirates, sly humor for grownups, excellent action scenes and general quantities of swash and buckle, Fish is a great, self-contained addition to the canon of fun pirate fiction. Perfect for young readers, even better for reading aloud at bed-time, thanks to the plentiful cliff-hangers.
Boneshaker: Cherie Priest's swashbuckling steampunk Seattle story ...
Steven Brust's Dzur: witty and exciting heroic fantasy
Buckell's Sly Mongoose: character-driven, exciting space opera ... Read the rest
A non-exhaustive list of books that would be considered fanfic except for the fact that they won the Pulitzer Prize (provided as a service to writers who believe that fanfic is "immoral, illegal, plagiarism, cheating, for people who are too stupid/lazy/unimaginative to write stories of their own" and who feel "personally traumatized by the idea that someone else could look at your characters and decide that you did it wrong and they need to fix it/add original characters to your universe/send your characters to the moon/Japan/their hometown.")
Read the rest
* Jane Smiley's novel A Thousand Acres, a modernized AU (Alternate Universe) retelling of King Lear and winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Literature. King Lear is itself a hybrid of multiple folk and fairy tales
* Rodgers & Hammerstein's Tony-Award-winning South Pacific, which was based on James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific and is the only musical to win the Pulitzer Prize that is based on *another* work that also won a Pulitzer.
* Geraldine Brooks' March, a parallel retelling of Little Women and winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for literature
* Stephen Sondheim's Sunday In the Park with George, which is half-original fic, half-RPF (real person fiction) based on the artist Georges Seurat, and winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
* Jonathan Larsen's Rent, which is an AU fanfic of La Boheme (much like the movie Moulin Rouge, an AU hybrid crossover fanfic of La Boheme and La Traviata) and winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
* John Corigliano, 2001 Pulitzer-Prize winner for Music, who wrote the opera Ghosts of Versailles, a postmodern fantasy RPF/fanfic crossover AU about Pierre Beaumarchais and the characters from his play La Mère coupable..
More scenes from a book tour: Steven Brust's kick-ass JHEREG license-plate, on proud display at BookPeople tonight in Austin (so awesome to see so many happy mutants there tonight!).
There's still plenty of schools, libraries, shelters and other worthy institutions hoping you'll donate a copy of For the Win to them!
Next stop is Raleigh, NC, with a reading and signing at the Barnes and Noble in Cary on Saturday the 23d at 4PM. After that, it's Chapel Hill, NYC, Brooklyn and Toronto.
Full tour sched
Steven Brust's unauthorized Firefly fanfic novel
Steven Brust's IORICH: sword and sorcery and law and order
Brust's JHEGAALA, smart, hard-boiled swords and sorcery with great ...
Steven Brust's Dzur: witty and exciting heroic fantasy Read the rest
I've written before about Steven Brust's delightful, epic Vlad Taltos novels, a long-running series of sword-and-sorcery novels about a wisecracking human assassin in a land where the ruling class is composed of ancient, long-lived elves from a variety of noble houses named for animals. Brust has turned out a dozen of these novels to date (plus five more books in the style of Dumas, set centuries before the Vlad books), and they are, to a one, absolutely cracking yarns, Fritz Leiberesque novels where the steel flashes, the spells swirl, death is dealt, heroism is on display, and cunning saves the day.
But Brust's novels are also, to a one more than just fantasy novels. Each one is also a meditation on power, on freedom, on fairness, on economics -- even on cooking. And Brust doesn't use the action to sugar-coat the "message" -- no, the message, such as it is, is integral to the action revealed through it, naturally and engrossingly, so that each book is an education unto itself.
Take Iorich, the latest book, published last week. Iorich has the exiled Vlad Taltos returning to the capital city -- where he is a hunted man -- to rescue a friend from prison. And while Vlad has to do plenty of fighting and sneaking and skulking to get her out, the main method he employs is to use the law. And so Brust is able to skilfully blend a remarkable treatise on politics, law, justice, due process and even military ethics into a novel in which there is enough sword and sorcery to fill a dozen Vallejo paintings. Read the rest