Bio of Hispanic SFF pioneer Jorge Luis Borges

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Jorge Borges (1899-1986) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the son of Jorge Guillermo Borges Haslam and Leonor Acevedo Suárez. The family was middle class, though not wealthy. Borges was home-schooled until age 11, and soon afterward the family moved to Switzerland because of political unrest in Argentina. Borges graduated from the Collège de Genève in 1918, and after World War I the family moved to Spain for a while and in 1921 returned to Argentina.

Borges published his first book of poetry Fervor de Buenos Aires in 1923 and by the mid-1930s was writing existential fiction in a style called “irreality.” In 1938 he nearly died after a head injury, and after recovering began to write in a different style. In his 1941 story “El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan” (The Garden of Forking Paths), he wrote a combination of book and maze that can be read many ways, arguably the first example of a hypertext novel.

In his later years, Borges lost his eyesight, but continued to work with his mother as his secretary. In 1961 he came to international attention when he received the Prix International prize, and in 1971 the Jerusalem Prize. In 1967 Borges began a collaboration with the American translator Norman Thomas di Giovanni that made his work available to English-speakers. In 1967 Borges married the recently widowed Elsa Astete Millán, but the marriage failed after three years. In 1986 he married his personal assistant María Kodama, an Argentine woman of Japanese and German ancestry. Borges died of liver cancer on 13 June 1986 in Geneva.

Borges’ works include philosophical and political themes, and he is recognized as a pioneer in magical realism, with some critics considering him to be the originator of this type literature with the release of his “Historia universal de la infamia” (Universal History of Infamy). Regardless of his marriages, he was rumored never to have had sex. The philosophical term “Borgesian conundrum” is named after him, which is the question of whether the writer writes a story, or it writes him/her.

This information is from Borges’ article at Wikipedia. You can read more here.

Sales! Haunting Muses Anthology

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HauntingMuses-coverI’ve sold a story titled “Wine and Magnolias” to an anthology called Haunting Muses. It’s edited by Doreen Perrine and will be published by Bedazzled Ink. You’ll have to wait for fall to read it–it won’t be published until October 2016. However, it’s available for pre-order from your bookseller now.

This is ghost stories, of course–just what you’d expect for Halloween. Be sure to watch for it!

Bio of gay SFF pioneer George Brewster

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George Brewster (1766 – ?) was born in England, and his date of death is unknown. He was a son of John Brewer, a well-known art connoisseur. As a young man, Brewster served as a midshipman under Lord Hugh Seymour and others, and sailed word-wide. In 1791 he became a lieutenant in the Swedish navy. After retiring from the sea, he read for law in London and established a practice as an attorney.

Brewster wrote his first novel Tom Weston when he was in the navy and by 1799 had become a playwright, essayist and writer of miscellany. In 1808 he produced his contribution to speculative fiction, the two-volume tale The Witch of Ravensworth. This book is still in publication, available on Amazon and described as “Gothic horror, fairy tale, and bizarre dark humour.” In writing about himself, Brewster noted that he felt “misplaced or displaced in life”, had “vicissitude for his tutor” and was luckless altogether.

This information is from Brewster’s article at Wikipedia. You can read more here.

Bio of gay SFF pioneer Oscar Wilde

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Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was born in Dublin, Ireland, the second child of parents Sir William and Jane Wilde. Oscar studied classics at Trinity College in Dublin and continued his studies at Magdalen College, Oxford. Although he cultivated a “bad boy” image at school, he won the 1878 Newdigate Prize for his poem “Revenna,” and graduated the same year with a double major in Classical Moderations and Literae Humaniores. With an inheritance from his father, he moved to London, where he worked as a lecturer and continued to write poetry. In 1881 he published his first collection of poems.

In 1884 Wilde married Constance Lloyd, but the marriage faltered after he had an affair with the young Robert Ross. During the 1880s, Wilde expanded his writing to journalism, critical reviews, essays, short stories and editorial work. He then turned to plays, becoming one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s.

In 1895 Wilde was publicly accused of the crime of sodomy. There was a huge scandal, and he was arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned for two years of hard labor. After he was released from prison, he fled to France where he died of meningitis in 1900.

One of Wilde’s most important works is the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, published in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. The young Dorian Gray poses for a portrait by Basil Hallward, an artist who is infatuated with him. Through Hallward, Gray meets the hedonistic Lord Henry Wotton. Worrying that his youth and beauty will fade, Gray sells his soul to make sure it is the portrait that fades, and not himself. Later he repents, of course, and tries to reclaim his soul.

This information is from Wilde’s article at Wikipedia. He was a complex and brilliant man and this is only a brief summary of his life. See the article here.

2016 Hugo Finalists

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Here are the 2016 finalists. Looks like the Puppies have had a strong influence again. More analysis later.

BEST NOVEL (3695 ballots)

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (Roc)
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
BEST NOVELLA (2416 ballots)

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (
The Builders by Daniel Polansky (
Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum)
Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment)
Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)
BEST NOVELETTE (1975 ballots)

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb2015)
“Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
“Obits” by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner)
“What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
BEST SHORT STORY (2451 ballots)

“Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
The Commuter by Thomas A. Mays (Stealth)
“If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (, Jun 2015)
“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)
BEST RELATED WORK (2080 ballots)

Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini (Castalia House)
“The First Draft of My Appendix N Book” by Jeffro Johnson (
“Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness (
SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day (Castalia House)
“The Story of Moira Greyland” by Moira Greyland (
BEST GRAPHIC STORY (1838 ballots)

The Divine written by Boaz Lavie, art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka (First Second)
Erin Dies Alone written by Grey Carter, art by Cory Rydell (
Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams (
Invisible Republic Vol 1 written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, art by Gabriel Hardman (Image Comics)
The Sandman: Overture written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III (Vertigo)

Avengers: Age of Ultron written and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Ex Machina written and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures)
Mad Max: Fury Road written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, directed by George Miller (Village Roadshow Pictures; Kennedy Miller Mitchell; RatPac-Dune Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures)
The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt, directed by J.J. Abrams (Lucasfilm Ltd.; Bad Robot Productions; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Television)
Grimm: “Headache” written by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, directed by Jim Kouf(Universal Television; GK Productions; Hazy Mills Productions; Open 4 Business Productions; NBCUniversal Television Distribution)
Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions;Netflix)
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “The Cutie Map” Parts 1 and 2 written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy, directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller (DHX Media/Vancouver; Hasbro Studios)
Supernatural: “Just My Imagination” written by Jenny Klein, directed by Richard Speight Jr. (Kripke Enterprises; Wonderland Sound and Vision; Warner Bros. Television)
BEST EDITOR – SHORT FORM (1891 ballots)

John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Ellen Datlow
Jerry Pournelle
Sheila Williams
BEST EDITOR – LONG FORM (1764 ballots)

Vox Day
Sheila E. Gilbert
Liz Gorinsky
Jim Minz
Toni Weisskopf

Lars Braad Andersen
Larry Elmore
Abigail Larson
Michal Karcz
Larry Rostant
BEST SEMIPROZINE (1457 ballots)

Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
Daily Science Fiction edited by Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden
Sci Phi Journal edited by Jason Rennie
Strange Horizons edited by Catherine Krahe, Julia Rios, A. J. Odasso, Vanessa Rose Phin,Maureen Kincaid Speller, and the Strange Horizons staff
Uncanny Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
BEST FANZINE (1455 ballots)

Black Gate edited by John O’Neill
Castalia House Blog edited by Jeffro Johnson
File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
Superversive SF edited by Jason Rennie
Tangent Online edited by Dave Truesdale
BEST FANCAST (1267 ballots)

8-4 Play, Mark MacDonald, John Ricciardi, Hiroko Minamoto, and Justin Epperson
Cane and Rinse, Cane and Rinse
HelloGreedo, HelloGreedo
The Rageaholic, RazörFist
Tales to Terrify, Stephen Kilpatrick
BEST FAN WRITER (1568 ballots)

Douglas Ernst
Mike Glyer
Morgan Holmes
Jeffro Johnson
Shamus Young
BEST FAN ARTIST (1073 ballots)

Matthew Callahan
Christian Quinot
Steve Stiles

Pierce Brown *
Sebastien de Castell *
Brian Niemeier
Andy Weir *
Alyssa Wong *

Bio of black SFF pioneer Charles W. Chesnutt

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FeatherPenClipArtCharles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) was born in Cleveland, Ohio, of parents Andrew and Ann Maria Chesnutt, “free persons of color” from North Carolina. Charles was of racially mixed heritage, and now would probably suffer from being “not black enough.” Although he could have passed as white, he grew up as an African American and continued to identify strongly as black.

After the end of the Civil War, the family moved back to Fayetteville, NC, where Andrew Chesnutt opened a grocery store. Charles attended the Howard School for black students and later became a teacher and assistant principal. In 1878 he married Susan Perry and the couple moved to New York City briefly and then back to Cleveland. Charles studied law and passed the bar exam, then established a profitable court reporting business.

With prosperity ensured, Chesnutt took up writing stories, which were well-received and published in nationally recognized magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly. During his lifetime, Chesnutt completed a number of works including stories, collections, novels and a biography of Frederick Douglass. One of Chesnutt’s most important works was his first book, a collection of short stories titled The Conjure Woman, published in 1899. The stories were folk tales of the supernatural that reveal black resistance to slavery and revenge against white culture. The book was adapted by Oscar Micheaux as a silent film and released as The Spider’s Web in 1926.

This information is from Chesnutt’s article at Wikipedia. You can read more here.

What Is Erasure?


In a recent blog, I mentioned the “erasure” of certain writers. I think this topic deserves further discussion. Tying this to my recent comments about the award, self-published authors are now falling into this category. So what is erasure?

It’s fairly clear from the definition of the word. Erasure, when applied to people, means ignoring, removing references to, falsifying, or re-explain evidence about some individual or group in history, in books, academia, the news media or other similar sources. In some cases, this is just a matter of ignorance about history or laziness about doing research, but in extreme cases it can be an example of denialism, or a choice to deny reality because it’s an uncomfortable truth.

There are a number of groups that typically suffer from erasure about contributions in our culture. Examples include people of color (POC), older women, women in general, LGBTQ persons and other minorities. Talent, accomplishments and contributions from these groups are typically ignored, under-rated, or somehow lost from cultural memory.

In history, erasure means that only African Americans were involved in the US Civil Rights movement, and feminists and gays have nothing to do with it. It means that Native Americans almost totally disappeared from recorded history in the 19th century. It means LGBTQ troops didn’t serve in the armed forces during WWI and WWII. It means that bisexuality doesn’t really exist; there’s no such thing as non-binary gender, and women beyond child-bearing age have no value.

In the writing and publishing world, erasure means certain individuals will be promoted as “stars” and others who don’t fit the popular mold will be “erased,” even if they do fairly brilliant work. This has effects in the amount and type of work that’s published, but also in what’s remembered. For example, Wells, Verne, Asimov and Heinlein have a secure place in the history of science fiction, but where are Charles W. Chesnutt and Jane Louden?

Charlie Stross on automating your trolldom

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I love Charilie Stross. While I’ve been stressing over the issue of humans ganging up to attack people and suppress ideas on the Internet, Charlie is well into the future already, predicting how to do this with a botswarm.

The basis for this prediction was the recent launch of Microsoft’s conversational bot named Tay, which is meant to be pleasant, tell jokes and make friends with human posters on the Internet (merely for the purposes of research, of course). She also has a learning function where she absorbs the kind of conversation going on around her and uses this to blend in. Within hours she was an ill-informed, racist asshole.

So, what are the implications? Actually, this suggests a number of scenarios. I expect this kind of bot is meant to sway public opinion for business/sales purposes. However, I’m sure she has a manifest destiny in politics, too. Just think about it. In the future, activists for particular viewpoints won’t have to worry about exhausting themselves with personal virtue signaling and identification of potential targets for attack. These tasks can be automated so mere humans will be quickly exhausted by trying to resist. Soon bots will battle bots for the soul of humanity.

See Charlie’s vision of the future here.

What does this have to do with the Hugo Awards?

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One of the complaints the Sad/Rabid Puppies have advanced is that the Hugo Awards have been serving only high-profile, progressive or literary authors and leaving out others, including the writers of old fashioned romantic spec fiction. Examples of pioneer writers in this romantic sub-genre include Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard. You know what I mean—the story generally involves heroic deeds and often has fantasy elements. These days the tradition includes mil-fic and space opera. With the advance of women into spec fiction, romance (the amorous kind) has become a strong contender, too. Jim Butcher and Patricia Briggs both fall into this romantic tradition.

Because the Hugo is a highly promotional award and produces stars, competition has gotten fiercer for placement on the ballot. In looking at the system for getting there, the Locus list, for example, will not review self-published works. Because it is highly predictive of the Hugo nominees, this can be a big disservice to self-published authors and pretty much ensures none of them will end up on the ballot, regardless of the quality of their work. That means that not only have they been forced out of traditional publishing, but they lose that possibility of promotion. Natalie Luhrs, in a recent analysis of the Locus list, also noted concerns about the diversity of the results and the nature of repeat appearances. The Puppies, if you recall, have charged that the publishing houses have undue influence on the awards process, and went on to demonstrate how easy it was to game the awards.

It remains to be seen if the advent of a new “fan” award will make any difference in this arena. The Dragon Awards is off and running, and the approach looks like it might reduce some of the drawbacks of the Hugo system. They’re soliciting a broad base of fan nominations, and they’re open to all comers. They’re bound to run into trouble of some kind, but the effort looks pretty interesting regardless.

What is a “midlist” author, anyway?

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A couple of blogs back I mentioned “midlist” writers. So what is that about? What is a midlist? A front-list? A backlist?

During the heyday of traditional publishing, the houses would have had different lists, tiers of front-lists including recently published and highly promoted stars, and then a tried-but-true mid-list of writers who aren’t such big stars, but still strong sellers. There would also be a backlist of older but still dependable books kept in print.

However, the publishing business has changed. Now publishing houses are feeling the squeeze from self-publishing and print-on-demand systems on the one hand, and a drop off in readership due to competition from games, TV, films, etc. on the other. Many of the houses are reducing their efforts for author development and looking only for front-list stars who they think can sell a big volume of books. This pushes more of the mid-list writers out of traditional publishing and into the non-traditional system of self-publishing. I’d guess there’s hardly any backlist left at all.

The irony of this situation is that some of those same authors who have been pushed out of traditional publishing are very popular, which further squeezes the big houses. Not only that, but they’re doing their own promotion, which means there’s a big opportunity for new means of promotion.

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