"steven brust"

Epic doggerel about bad blog-comment behavior

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

Brust's Tiassa: versatile fantasy in three modes

Steven Brust's Tiassa is the thirteenth volume in the long-running Vlad Taltos series, a fantasy epic that combines hard-boiled crime-writing with economic critique, revolutionary war, fine cookery, and (naturally) swashbuckling sword and sorcery. Vlad Taltos is an Easterner (a human like us) among Drageareans (immortal, magical faerie folk who belong to one of several noble "houses" that influence their character and profession). At the series' start, Vlad is an assassin within the Jhereg house (which controls the crime in Brust's world), working through his fury and shame at having grown up in the Easterner underclass by killing Dragareans with gusto. Over the series' many volumes, Vlad gets entangled in revolutionary politics, is married and divorced, meddles in the affairs of the empire, dies and is brought back from the dead, and more. Brust clearly delights in writing this character and this world, and each volume has some clever structural trick that enhances the story -- for example, previous volumes have been organized around explaining the items listed on a laundry ticket and the dishes served on an elaborate menu.

Tiassa is structured in three novellas, spanning ten years of Vlad's life, with some interstitial matter. The first novella, "Tag," is a caper story set in the early part of the series and is told in the Chandleresque, hard-boiled style that characterized the first few books. The middle novella, "Whitecrest," is a story of political intrigue set during Vlad's exile, told with expert timing and a lot of wit. The final novella, "Special Tasks" is told in the style of The Phoenix Guards and its sequels, a highly mannered, absurdist adventure story in the mode of Alexander Dumas. Read the rest

Rothfuss pledges to buy Firefly from Fox and give it away

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

(via Copyfight)

  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

Welcome to Bordertown: the first Borderlands book in decades!

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: kids' pirate adventure book is great for adults too

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

Pulitzer-winning fanfic: a non-exhaustive list

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.")

* 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..

Read the rest

JHEREG license plate

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

Disney's Looking at Paintings: An Introduction to Fine Art for Young People

On my family's Christmas holiday trip to Walt Disney World, I happened upon a copy of the 2002 book Disney's Looking at Paintings: An Introduction to Fine Art for Young People, written by Erika Langmuir and Ruth Thomson to coincide with an exhibition at London's National Gallery. I picked it up for an idle peruse and within seconds, I was hooked.

I confess that I am not a very sophisticated appreciator of fine art. Novels like Chaim Potok's My Name is Asher Lev and Steven Brust's The Sun, the Moon and the Stars (as well as films like Emile de Antonio's Painters Painting) have given me a glimmering of what other people see when they look at paintings, but they've also left me half-convinced that I was missing something important. I find most paintings...nice, but somewhere between the art, my eyeballs, and my brain, something seems to go astray. Sometimes I'm just left wondering what the big deal is.

Looking at Paintings is a beginning textbook for young children (I'd say 6-12) who are wondering the same thing. Using beautifully reproduced paintings and crisp prose, Looking at Paintings expounds on the history of visual art, and the use of size, shape, color, light and dark, perspective, frame, motion and materials in creating visual effects. The short chapters are lavishly illustrated, and each section ends with a short quiz and a Mickey Mouse comic that uses comedy to re-cover the material.

Having read the book, I feel like I learned rather a lot. Read the rest

Steven Brust's IORICH: sword and sorcery and law and order

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

Brust's JHEGAALA, smart, hard-boiled swords and sorcery with great poleconomy subtext

I've been reading Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books since I was a boy, and nothing pleases me more than discovering a new one on the shelf, as I did this week, picking up the paperback of Jhegaala, the eleventh volume in the series.

For the uninitiated, Vlad Taltos is a human assassin in a strange world where humans occupy the eastern kingdoms and the rest is run by the Dragaereans, a long-lived elfin race whose sorcery is far more formalized than humanity's witchcraft (the human culture on Dragaera is based loosely on ancient Hungarian culture, and the magic is derived somewhat from Hungarian animist mysticism). Vlad lives among the Dragaera, pledged to the house of Jhereg, a mongrel house that you can buy your way into (the others are hereditary), whence come all the crime lords and assassins. In Vlad's storied, ten-volume adventures, he goes from street-punk to crime-boss to lordling to political operative, embroiled in a magnificently realized fantasy world that leaps off the page with a fascinating poleconomy, literary tradition, spirituality and history ancient and modern.

Vlad is a hard-boiled, wise-ass hero, whose narration is part of what makes the series so irresistible, laden as it is with deadpan humor, great observation, wicked emotional truths, and a keen gourmet sensibility (seriously: the food and drink in this book are so well described that I spent the entire time while reading it yearning for one of the marvellous cups of coffee or the hearty bowls of stew that Vlad subsists on through much of the tale). Read the rest

Fourth Street Fantasy Con, intimate, literate convention in Minneapolis

Elise Matthesen, conference chair for the Fourth Street Fantasy Convention in Minneapolis, writes,

From 1986 to 1995, Steven Brust and his friends put on a deep, intelligent, and intimate convention on the literature of the fantastic. Its return in 2008 was so much fun that we couldn't resist bringing it back again in 2009

Fourth Street is a small convention for people who are serious about good fantasy and good books- serious about reading them, serious about writing them, serious about appreciating them in all their various forms. It's also for people who are serious about having a good time. It's a weekend of high-quality, high-intensity, mind-stretching fun, focused on books- there's a single track of programming that is at the heart of it all. When everyone sees the same panels, it leads to fascinating conversations in the consuite, hotel bar, and corridors.

Come and hang out with Catherynne Valente, Jo Walton, Pamela Dean, Steven Brust, Sharyn November, Beth Meacham, Jon Singer, and many other interesting folks. If you show up on Thursday evening, bring a copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream, because we'll be having playreading that night at the hotel, in between folding programs and prepping for the convention.

On-line registration will be open through tomorrow, Tuesday May 26.

Come and be part of the conversation. It will be better if you're there -- you know it will.

Fourth Street Fantasy Convention

(Thanks, Elise!) Read the rest

Copyright protects critics, but leaves fans out in the cold

In my latest Guardian column, "When love is harder to show than hate," I look at the fact that copyright protects critics who want to talk trash about creative works, but gives no real protection to people who want to say nice things about them.

The damage here is twofold: first, this privileges creativity that knocks things down over things that build things up. The privilege is real: in the 21st century, we all rely on many intermediaries for the publication of our works, whether it's YouTube, a university web server, or a traditional publisher or film company. When faced with legal threats arising from our work, these entities know that they've got a much stronger case if the work in question is critical than if it is celebratory. In the digital era, our creations have a much better chance of surviving the internet's normal background radiation of legal threats if you leave the adulation out and focus on the criticism. This is a selective force in the internet's media ecology: if you want to start a company that lets users remix TV shows, you'll find it easier to raise capital if the focus is on taking the piss rather than glorifying the programmes.

Second, this perverse system acts as a censor of genuine upwellings of creativity that are worthy in their own right, merely because they are inspired by another work. It's in the nature of beloved works that they become ingrained in our thinking, become part of our creative shorthand, and become part of our visual vocabulary.

Read the rest

Steven Brust's unauthorized Firefly fanfic novel

Steven Brust, long one of my favorite fantasy writers, has posted the full text of a Firefly fan-fic novel he wrote. He talked to me about this book last year, saying that he just had to write it -- that it sat up in his head one day and demanded to be let out.

I have a theory about the cognitive basis for both fanfic and the arguments against it from some authors: as social animals, we have a lot of specialized systems for modelling and anticipating the actions and beliefs of others. The ability to predict whether another human is likely to kill you or mate with you is pro-survival.

I think that when we experience stories, we spin up that "person-simulator" we use on real people and use it to render out the people in the story. It's how we come to care about them, to empathize with them, to worry about the danger they find themselves in and to cheer them on as they strive to overcome adversity.

When you close the book -- or turn off the tube -- the simulator doesn't power down. Those modelled "people" go on living a life in your autonomous imaginative faculty, inhabiting the same numinous zone where the dead relations of whom you say, "Oh, if only great-aunt Foofaw were here, she'd just love this," the same zone as the characters in your life who are offstage but nevertheless "on your mind."

This is likewise true for authors. Just because the book is done, it doesn't mean that the simulator in which the characters have been playing out their lives switches off. Read the rest

Steven Brust's Dzur: witty and exciting heroic fantasy

Over the weekend, I finished Dzur, the latest volume of Steven Brust's snappy, swashbuckling heroic fantasy novels about Vlad Taltos and the world of Dragaera. I've been reading these since I was an adolescent, and I feel like they've grown up with me.

The Vlad Taltos books tell the story of a human assassin in a magic, Zelazny-esque world where animal-like, near-immortal faerie folk are the dominant political and economic force. Humans (called "Easterners") live in ghettos and are used as peasants, cannon fodder, and punching-bags. Vlad starts out in the first novel, Jhereg, as a kitchen-boy who finds better employment as an enforcer for an organized crime syndicate, loving the work because it lets him beat up Dragaerans.

As the series progresses (it's up to book 10 now), Vlad rises to become a crime-boss, then a force in the empire, then an exile. Brust uses this rise and fall to show us his extraordinary grasp of the subtleties of the economics and social factors underpinning feudal states, stripping away the whitewash that lurks behind the Shire, Arthur and his knights, and every other narrative of noble kings and willing peasants.

With Dzur, we have something of a return to the classic Vlad Taltos book -- Vlad, lately returned from exile, is wanted by the entire Jhereg (the crime syndicate) and must execute a plan to save himself and his ex-wife from its grasp, but without the benefit of his old gang and influence. Vlad's approach to this is cunning, surprising, and buckles a crapload of swash. Read the rest

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