How To Write A Twenty-Minute Talk From Scratch In Under Three Hours

June 29th, 2009 | brainjuice

At lunchtime, while everyone else was at the conference.

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Home now. Will post the notes that I based the talk on later in the week.


FREAKANGELS 0060

June 26th, 2009 | Work

It’s Friday, it’s just gone noon UK time, so it’s FREAKANGELS episode 0060, free to air.


Dundee On Sunday

June 25th, 2009 | Work

And now we go dark here for a while, as I go into prep for getting up at some appalling time in the morning on Saturday to fly to Dundee, where I appear on Sunday evening in conjunction with the TIMEFRAMES event at Dundee University.

Here’s the link to the programme and other information.

As you’ll see, I’ll be signing books at sometime around six pm, and a while later I’ll be talking about god knows what as the final keynote speaker.

Pray the weather’s good, as I don’t have a smoking hotel room and will therefore have to work outside for two days.

Hopefully I’ll see a few of you in Dundee. Otherwise, I’ll be back here Monday. I imagine I’ll be on twitter the whole time giving my usual terrible Narrative of doom.

Behave yourselves and don’t break anything.


Steven Wells Is Dead

June 25th, 2009 | brainjuice

The first decent write-up I ever had outside the comics press was written by Steven Wells. And I never got to thank him. And now Steven Wells is dead. And these are his last words:

And of course all this bollocks is written by an idiot who has polished his image as an existentialist, atheist hard-man and anti-mope, forever sneering at the tribes who wallow in self-pity — the gothers, the emo kids, the Smiths fans — the whole 900-block-wide marching band composed entirely of the white male urban middle classes who are convinced that (as the most affluent and pampered human beings who have ever walked the planet) theirs is a story worth hearing. Blissfully unaware that they are but a few generations away from regular visits to the doctor who would wind parasitic worms from their beer bloated assholes using sticks.

You could blame this fallacy on poor education, cultural deterioration, or simple moral decline.

Me? I blame it on sunshine. I blame it on the moonlight. I blame it on the boogie.

Proper fucking writer.


SF MAGAZINES: It’s That Time Of Year Again

June 24th, 2009 | brainjuice

Come on. It’s a tradition now, right? Gardner Dozois releases a new YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION containing his Summation of the doings of the year, and I pull out the sf magazine circulation numbers from it and depress everybody. (Cue blog posts beginning "Warren Ellis makes Doom Pronoucements Yet Abloodygain…")

The 2008 sf magazine numbers as per Mr Dozois’ discovery:

ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION drops 2.7% in circulation, to a hair over 17000 copies. In the previous three years, it had dropped 5.2%, 13.6% and 23%. That’s 500 missing readers in 2008.

ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT drops 5.1%, to a hair under 26,000 copies. 1400 missing readers in 2008.

MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION drops 2.7% to 16,044 copies. Again, around 500 missing readers in 2008.

REALMS OF FANTASY is awaiting revival, I believe.

Mr Dozois continues to peg INTERZONE at "2000 to 3000 copies," which is what he says every year, and I would love proper figures on INTERZONE’s circulation. And, in fact, I think it would be a wise thing for INTERZONE to release such, to combat this constant carping that it’s a "semi-professional" magazine.

Notes: all of these must be selling digital copies that aren’t getting factored into the circulation. Some of those missing readers must have been converted into digital customers. Those numbers would tell a tale. No, print is not dead, and neither are periodicals. All the magazines save INTERZONE are in the middle of format and/or frequency shifts.

I said last year that I wouldn’t run these numbers. That said, I expected the last year to show these magazines display no response at all to their numbers. Instead, one went bimonthly and two changed size and cut some content. Neither of which strike me as proportionate responses. I could almost understand a resolute "we ain’t changing nothing. This is what we do and we’re going to sit here until they prise our red pens from our cold dead hands because we’re providing a service for the fans who like it old school." I could respect that. I’m glad they don’t have guns and stockpiled foodstuffs, but you know what I mean. I’m not sure that actions commensurate with cutting bits off themselves and cooking and eating them to stave off starvation is really due the same kind of nod.

The 2009 numbers, which Dozois will publish in the summer of 2010, will show how practical these moves proved to be.

"Sf magazines" is the string to use in the Search box to find all my other reports and thoughts on this topic over the last three years. Some of them started some arguments. Can’t imagine how. I am, as you know, the very soul of joy, and filled with light.

My favourite sf magazine? FLURB, without a doubt. Richard Kadrey, Kek-W, Simon Logan, Rudy Rucker and John Shirley in the same place? Beat that with a stick.