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The Trouble with Tribbles

Last year, I wrote a short story wherein I made a slightly inappropriate reference to a tribble*.

After I turned in said story, I received an email from someone who had the power to kill the story. She said she wasn’t sure anyone would get the tribble joke.

Now, here’s what went through my head in order of appearance:

1) Who doesn’t know what a tribble is?
2) OMG I hope she doesn’t make me take out that joke. It’s one of the funniest lines in the story.
3) Wait. Seriously? Who’s never heard of a tribble?

I’m fairly certain the majority of Orbit’s readers know exactly what I mean when I mention tribbles. Further, I’d expect anyone out there who doesn’t get the reference would Google it. Those of you who don’t understand both tribble and Google, well, welcome to 2009! We’ve been waiting for you.

Now, to my point. When I write, I tend to expect that most of my readers are reasonably intelligent.** So, if we can assume readers are smart, isn’t it also reasonable to assume that if they don’t know a cultural reference they’ll look it up?  Or at worst, ignore it? Read the rest of this entry »

On Winter

Rather unbelievably, it’s the beginning of December, which means winter is here – for those of us in the northern hemisphere, at least.  But regardless of whether it’s currently hot or cold where you live, if you’re a serious reader of science fiction, ‘winter’ should bring to mind the same much-loved book. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel. A classic of modern literature. A book set on the planet Gethen – also known as Winter.

I’m delighted to draw your attention to the stunning 40th Anniversary edition of Ursula K. LeGuin‘s magnificent The Left Hand of Darkness, recently published by Orbit in the UK. Including background notes, map sketches and a new 40th anniversary letter from the author, as well as the related story ‘Coming of Age in Karhide’, this is a beautiful celebration of a wonderful book. Ursula K. LeGuin is a giant of modern literature and a tireless champion of our oft-maligned genre, and The Left Hand of Darkness is considered by many to be her finest work. I highly recommend it.

Nothing makes the chill winds of December seem hospitable like taking a trip to Winter.

The Left Hand of Darkness

2009: A Very Good Year

The first week of December.

The days are getting darker, our in-trays are beginning to empty (we wish), the communal surfaces are beginning to grow fat with baked goods and illicit seasonal beverages . . .

As we hurtle towards the New Year (at FTL travel inducing velocity and with a blood-biscuit level that would make even Alexia Tarabotti proud) the Orbit UK Team has banded together to bring you a retrospective on what made 2009 another great year. The short answer of course is great authors, Global Vision, plenty of awards and um, you.  But humour us, read on below the cut, you’ll like it (or at least learn something) we promise! Read the rest of this entry »

Lili Saintcrow – NYT Bestseller!

Yeah Lili!

lili_stcrow-betrayalsLili hit the New York Times’ Children’s Paperback Bestseller list at #5, kicking ass with her YA novel, Betrayals.  I am very proud to work with her and I’m SUPER  excited for her.  Now I can introduce her to you as NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, Lili Saintcrow!! Yeah!!!Saintcrow_Flesh Circus (MM)

We also have the newest Jill Kismet from Lili out this week – FLESH CIRCUS.  The Cirque de Charnu has arrived – and they’re ready for fresh meat.  Jill Kismet can’t do anything without destroying a fragile truce that has existed between the hellbreed, the hunters, and the Circus.  But when circus performers start dying grotesquely, it’s all Jill can do to keep her head in the game – and out of the lion’s mouth.

Author post

How to Write a Story

Someone asked me today how I write stories, or where I get the ideas for stories. I told them it was quite simple, really, and decided it’d be best if I shared it with you, as well.

The first step is waking up. Your body will take care of this, usually. Sometimes a passing stranger will also help, nudging you with their toe and trying to force you out from underneath the bus bench where you’ve been sleeping. It just depends on the day, really.

Once you are awake, examine the palms of your hands. The tattoos that you have upon them will have changed in the night, as they always do. Don’t worry about the tattoos – they’re very clearly written in Bookman Old Style and are easily readable, and you never feel them changing in the night.

On the left palm will be a time and a date, and upon the right will be an address. I suggest you familiarize yourself with a variety of postal codes so you can identify which state or country the address is in. This will save a lot of time down the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Tart Talk with Alexia and Jane (Vol.1)

Nicole Peeler’s character Jane True thought it might be a good idea to get some pointers on being an urban fantasy heroine from Gail Carriger’s character Alexia Tarabotti.

They met. They talked. See for yourself.

Selkies and the soulless have an awful lot to talk about, don’t you know, so this is but part one — their lively repartee regarding tea, underclothes, those remarks involving “doggies” that tend to leave Alexia baffled etc. will continue, here.

Author post

Faster Than the Speed of Light

In the last blog I wrote, as promised a little while ago, I offered a detailed mathematical explanation of the principles of faster than light space travel, and added an appendix containing blueprints for an FTL vessel that can be built out of computer components, and a 3D map of the hyperburrows of space, including directions to the planet where sexy aliens can be found in abundance. (You see! I really am a man of my word!)

However, in an appalling breach of professional etiquette, my editor DongWon Song intercepted my blog and proceeded to build and then use his own spaceship. He has now departed New York for the Planet of the Sexy Aliens, leaving behind him a virtual avatar who (via a doppelganger connection) will continue to perform his editorial duties for Orbit.

The avatar is indistinguishable from the real DongWon save for one telling feature; when it rains, he does not get wet.

Chastened by this experience, I am now writing a much more general blog, without any maths or blueprints, to explain how you (or rather HE!!!) can travel through space. Read the rest of this entry »

The Week That Was, As It Was

As we here in the US continue to recover from turkey overload, let’s take a quick look at what went up on the Orbit blog while the ingredients were still being prepared.

The sad news arrived only this morning of the passing of World Fantasy Award-winning author Robert Holdstock.

Orbit was happy to announce that international bestseller Kim Stanley Robinson would be doing three books with us, beginning with the novel 2312.

A.Lee Martinez told us why comedy is not only harder than tragedy — it’s a lot harder.

And, Lauren Panepinto, Orbit Creative Director, noted that the odds were good for one of Orbit’s covers winning the latest SFSignal book cover smackdown. Very good.

Robert Holdstock, 1948 – 2009

The very sad news broke over the weekend that Robert Holdstock, much-loved author of the World Fantasy Award-winner Mythago Wood, among many other works, passed away early Sunday morning. The SFF community has lost a wonderful writer and Rob’s family and friends have lost a wonderful man.  The wild wood seems a little less magical this morning.

I Like These Odds…

Print VS. ts1 = good odds for me!


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