Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for November, 2012

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Seven

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

At SF Signal, the table of contents has been posted for ‘The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Seven’ Edited by Jonathan Strahan, with my own “Nahiku West” at #22 in the list of stories! This is the first time my short fiction has made it into a best-of-year anthology, so I’m pretty happy about it.

The anthology will be published by Night Shade Books on March 5, 2013.

Scoundrel Lit

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

I just finished reading my first Joe Abercrombie novel, Best Served Cold, including an interview at the end of the book in which the author is asked about the genre of “scoundrel lit”:

“I tend to think of it as ‘unheroic fantasy,’ but certainly there seems to be a real current within epic fantasy lately toward darker, grittier, more morally ambiguous, more character-centered writing.”

Suddenly I have a subgenre in which to place the Puzzle Land books–The Dread Hammer and Hepen the Watcher–with their murderous protagonist, Smoke.

I do have to admit that Smoke is not entirely bereft of qualms and affections. Still, “scoundrel lit” is a pretty good description.

Snippet: The Dread Hammer

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

The Dread Hammer by Linda Nagata

The dried bunches of herbs that hung from the thatch were almost all gone by the time winter neared its end. Ketty used a forked stick to bring down the last one, though she wondered if it had any flavor left in it other than smoke. But as she lifted it from its hook, another item was revealed behind it. It looked to be a small pouch, hanging from its drawstring.

Putting the bundle of herbs aside on the table, she used her forked stick again, to fetch the pouch. It was heavier than she expected. Full of curiosity, she took it in her hand, and at once she heard the clink of coins. She put down the stick and hurried to the door.

It was a gloomy day, with frost still crunching on the ground, but it was light enough that she could see the sparkle of gold and silver when she peered into the pouch. She forgot to breathe as she poked her fingers at the coins. There were many different sizes and colors, most that she’d never seen before. But she’d seen a silver tarling once, one of the wedding gifts when her cousin was married. That alone had been enough to buy a new plough horse, and she saw at least two silver tarlings in the pouch, and they were not the grandest coins.

“Ah, Smoke,” she breathed in wonder. “You did not tell me we were rich.”


She ran across the meadow and through the woods, to the little clearing where Smoke was scraping a deer hide. “Oh, you found the purse,” he said when she showed the pouch to him. “I forgot I had that.”

“You forgot?” she asked, incredulous.

* * *
Available in print and ebook editions.

#ReaderThanks Day

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Someone out there in twitter-land has declared this the 2nd Annual #ReaderThanks Day, with the theme “What are you thankful for as a writer, a reader, or someone who works with books?”

So, each in 140 characters or less, here are my highlights:

#ReaderThanks For the husband who keeps a roof over my head while I take this 2nd shot @ writing. Married 30yrs in May. How awesome is that?

#ReaderThanks For the readers on FB, twitter, G+, my blog, via email, &via reviews who let me know they like what I’m doing. You’re awesome.

#ReaderThanks For readers who don’t bother w/FB, twitter,G+, etc but read my books anyway. You might never see this, but you’re awesome too!

#ReaderThanks For those readers who take a chance on a writer you’ve never heard of. Even if it doesn’t work out, I’m grateful you tried!

#ReaderThanks For those writers who share their experience, thoughts, and opinions on the writing business, so I’m not fumbling in the dark.

#ReaderThanks For those writers whose work still captures my imagination despite the stress & time-crunch of these modern days.

I could go on and on, but instead I’ll just say Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Two Stories, Now Together

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Back in early October, I published my 2012 Analog story “Nahiku West” as an ebook that also included an older story of mine. It was available only at Book View Café.

Now that another 2012 story, “Nightside On Callisto,” has come off its exclusive period at Lightspeed Magazine, I’ve pulled the original ebook and created a new one that includes both of these two stories from 2012. This version is available at all of the usual vendors (links below).

If you purchased the original ebook of “Nahiku West” from Book View Café, you can replace it with the new one. Just click the “Download” link in your receipt to get the new version. Be aware that the file names are the same.

If by chance you’re an active member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and are reading for Nebula consideration, let me know and I’ll be happy to send you a copy.

Here’s where to find it:

Book View Café (worldwide)
Kobo Books (international)
Barnes & Noble USA
Amazon UK
Amazon Japan
Amazon Germany
Amazon France
Amazon Spain
Amazon Italy

A Second Zeke Choy Story

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
Nahiku West by Linda Nagata “Nahiku West” — a 9,000 word novelette, originally published in Analog and now available as an ebook at Book View Cafe.

Long ago — actually last spring — I wrote a companion story to last summer’s novelette “Nahiku West.” It’s called “Out In The Dark” and it’s the second story featuring the reluctant Commonwealth police officer, Zeke Choy**.

Since “Nahiku West” was published in Analog, I sent the second story there as well and waited the summer to hear back on it. Three months passed, and I was just about to inquire on its status when Stan Schmidt, long-time Analog editor, announced his immediate retirement — and I knew the waiting wasn’t over yet.

I did eventually receive good news. Analog’s new editor, Trevor Quachri, will be publishing “Out In The Dark” in a future edition, date to be determined.

And now, I must get busy writing more short stories! I want to do at least one or two more featuring Zeke Choy, as well as striking out in some new directions.

If you haven’t done so yet, please sign up for my Very Occasional Newsletter so I can let you know when new stories and novels come out.

**Zeke was a minor character in my novel The Bohr Maker, and his stories take place in The Nanotech Succession story world.

What I Did For My Birthday

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

I’ve always been into fitness, but over the last couple of years I’ve been more consistent and have been pushing myself further. My workouts vary between road running upcountry, and treadmill along with weights at the gym. Upcountry runs are usually between 4.5 and 5.5 miles. Treadmill runs are shorter and faster. They don’t involve any hills and take place at sea level which means more oxygen! So it’s a completely different experience from running upcountry.

So I’ve been wondering how well I’d do on a road run on flat terrain at sea level. Could I do seven miles? That doesn’t sound like much for serious runners, but for me it’s meaningful. So for a birthday workout I decided to go down to Kihei/Wailea and run, because I’m not getting older, I’m getting better! Right?

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite the way I’d hoped. First, the distance was only six miles, and second, the land was not flat. I knew there were hills in Wailea…I just didn’t remember there were quite that many hills, or how steep some were.

My big mistake was that I left the road and ran along the beach walk. This meant I had the heat of the setting sun blazing in my face, but worse, I had to jog up a steep hill to get back to the road, which was, uh…challenging.

But in the end, I made the 6.1 miles in 59:40 and witnessed a gorgeous sunset. So it’s all good in the end.

Here’s my course:

Snippet: The Dread Hammer

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

The Dread Hammer by Linda Nagata

“You speak as if you’ve killed men before.”

Smoke laughed. “Did you truly wonder? Of course I’ve killed men before. It’s nothing and I don’t care about it.” He walked down to the water’s edge where he knelt, gazing at the shapes of fishes swimming at the bottom of a deep, calm pool.

I don’t care about it.

Without warning, a sick heat stirred in his belly. He grimaced, and then he heard himself speaking in a soft voice that hardly seemed his own, “I don’t like to kill women or their children.”

The words were hardly out when the feeling passed. Why had he spoken at all? “Don’t think on it,” he told himself in a whisper. He stood up again and in a firmer voice he said, “Come, Ketty. The days have grown shorter, and we still have some long way to go.”

He turned, and was surprised to find Ketty already on her feet, her sack slung over her shoulder, and her staff raised against him as fear and fury waged in her eyes. “You’ve murdered children?”

He was taken by surprise and his own temper flashed. “They weren’t your people! And anyway, it was a war. The Trenchant commanded it.”

She was aghast. “The Trenchant? You’re a Koráyos warrior? From the Puzzle Lands?”

“Ketty, will there never be an end to your questions? You try my patience!”

“Answer me, Smoke! Are you a Koráyos warrior?”

“I was, but no longer. Now can we go?”

“No.” Ketty took a step back. “I don’t want to go any farther with a bloody-handed servant of the Bidden.”

Smoke’s hands squeezed into fists. A flush heated his neck and cheeks. Ketty must have sensed his perilous mood. She gasped, stumbling away as if expecting him to come after her with his sword. He wondered if he should.

Then again, the wolves were hunting.

“Go on!” he told her. “Go on your way. I’m young yet. I’ll find another woman.” He turned his back on her and walked on, so used to walking now that in the tumult of his thoughts he forgot there was another way.

* * *
Available in print and ebook editions.

Non-writing Interlude

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Confession: I have not written a word of fiction since finishing up the novel-in-progress on October 25.

Why? Two primary reasons: First, I’m having a very hard time letting go of this story and allowing something else to occupy my brain space, and second, I’m fairly stressed waiting on the first full impressions from beta readers.

Does it matter that I’m not writing? Yes. There seems to be a discipline among writers who are successful and that includes writing everyday and continuously producing work. Right now I need to be working on some short stories. Then I need to move on and finish the novel I never quite finished last spring.

Still, it’s not as if I’ve been doing absolutely nothing. I have managed to get the print layout of Memory started, I’ve gone over the unfinished novel, and I’ve developed a possible short story idea. But tomorrow, really, seriously, I need to start writing, even if what I write at first turns out to be only rubbish. I’ve been at this game long enough to know it will get better, so long as I’m doing something.

Pondering Cloud Atlas, the movie (minor spoilers)

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

I finally saw the movie Cloud Atlas yesterday and have been pondering it since, but probably not for the reasons the creators would like.

Background: I read a sample of the novel on my Kindle, enough to know some details of the initial setting, and I had heard that the film takes place across a wide span of time, with interconnected lives. Other than that, I didn’t know much about it, as I prefer reading reviews and analyses after seeing a movie, and not before.

Also, I have some pretty serious facial recognition issues, so the identity of actors in multiple roles was not at all obvious to me, which pretty much guaranteed the story would be over my head. I had to read an IMDB summary afterward to get the core idea.

But it’s not the intricate story that leaves me pondering. It’s the treatment of race and setting. A lot has been written about Caucasian actors playing Asians in the film. The logical reason for this is pretty straightforward: people are reincarnated with varying racial backgrounds and for continuity the same actors were used regardless. It’s probably fair to ask why Caucasian actors were chosen—and the film might have done better with more mixed-race actors come to think of it. Halle Berry seemed able to pull off the various roles better than most, from my perspective.

But for me personally, the 1940s fake-“Asian” look was very unsettling, very distracting. For me, it doesn’t even trigger the meme “Asian.” More like “Romulan,” or “Vulcan,” or “holy cow, what in the world are they doing…?” I am told this was an indie movie and maybe they didn’t have the budget to do it right, but given the lush, eye-candy settings throughout the film, that’s a little hard to parse.

One racial aspect that I found almost no mention of online was that the people in the opening chapters of the book who were Maori, became people of African descent in the movie. I can come up with possible reasons for this, but it still seemed like Polynesia was being “disappeared,” written out of world history and replaced by another people.

And then there was “The Big Isle.” I gather from comments I’ve heard and from Wikipedia that in the book this actually does refer to our “Big Island,” Hawaii, the largest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago. But I can tell you that was not the Big Island. There was nothing about it that recalled the Big Island: not the geology, not the flora, not the people, nothing.

I raise my hand and plead guilty to writing about places I haven’t been, but I have to presume the makers of this film could have gone to the Big Island if they wanted to. So I have to assume they found a more budget friendly location, which is fine, I understand that.

But why is every post-apocalyptic survivor on the “Big Isle” seemingly pureblood Caucasian? I don’t think it’s a big secret that here in Hawaii there are a lot of people of Hawaiian ancestry, along with many other racial groups. I also don’t think it’s a secret that here in Hawaii we tend to marry across racial lines very, very frequently (I volunteer myself as an example). For at least twenty years the standard couple in banking commercials has been Asian/Caucasian. These days it seems more unusual to see people of the same race marrying, than to see mixed marriages. So…what happened during the apocalypse to erase our mixed race society? The science-fictional mindset kicks in and I find myself wondering if a racially targeted, engineered virus wiped out all but the Caucasian purebloods…but that has nothing to do with the story. So again, I’m distracted from the actual story by the (to me) inexplicable world-building choices–which goes to show the importance of world-building.

I will try to stop pondering now. I have my own stories to write, my own world-building choices to make. I’m sure I won’t always get it right, but I’ll keep trying.