Something Old and New for April 2019

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Old

I love philosophy. And I adore used books. So imagine my delight when I found The Gospel According to Zen (editors Robert Sohl and Audrey Carr) at a library sale for an unbeatable price: Freeee! 

This is a fabulous skinny (133 pages) volume of writings about Zen, God, faith, and religion, with the intriguing subtitle of Beyond the Death of God. Originally published in 1970, it can easily be found relevant today. The subject matter and individual essays are timeless. 

Eric Fromm warms up the audience with his opening essay, “Today’s Spiritual Crisis,” which he sees as an epidemic in the West: “It is the crisis which has been described as malaise, ennui, mal du siecle, the deadening of life, the automatization of man, his alienation from himself, from his fellowman and from nature.”

Yeah. Yesterday’s spiritual crisis is today’s spiritual crisis. Go figure. There are also koans, riddles, and poetry mixed in with the critical work to jigger your brain as only philosophical and artistic expression can.

When I went looking online, I found plenty of used copies available at places like Amazon and AbeBooks. Not free, but cheap. My copy has underlining, margin notes, and highlighting all over the place. I’m sure you can do better in the open market. 

I invite you to post a favorite used book treasure on my blog anytime!

New

I talk about my short story “Bella and the Blessed Stone” in this interview posted on the F&SF site (April 11). I hope you get a chance to check it out. You can buy a copy of the March/April 2019 F&SF here

Finally, as a reminder, the March 2019 Galaxy’s Edge (#37) contains my Italian folktale “The Sin-Eaters.” The magazine is available on the GE site.  

Happy springtime reading, peeps!

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New Nick Story in March 2019 Galaxy’s Edge

NickGE3-19I’m happy to announce that my short story “The Sin-Eaters” has landed in the March 2019 issue of Galaxy’s Edge. This is another original Italian folktale in my Il Villaggio di Ombre series.

For a short time, the story is available online, along with great fiction by Orson Scott Card, Joe Haldeman, and others, and columns by Gregory Benford and Robert J. Sawyer

Thanks to the fine folks at Galaxy’s Edge — Mike Resnick, Taylor Morris, and Shahid Mahmud — who have consistently published a fascinating mix of science fiction and fantasy stories every odd month since 2013. You can purchase digital or paper subscriptions and buy individual issues directly from the Galaxy’s Edge website. Enjoy!

And remember, Reading Is Fundamental.

Making History of an Alternate Kind

I’m happy to announce that my short story “The Winterberry” has just been reprinted in the new e-anthology Making History: Classic Alternate History Stories, edited by Rick Wilber.

This book offers a classy selection of alt-hist yarns by some amazing writers, including Karen Joy Fowler, Gregory Benford, Harry Turtledove, Michael Swanwick and Eileen Gunn. Many of these stories were award winners, as are many of the writers. For you paper-lovers out there, the print version should be available soon.

For trivia fans, I’ve included a snapshot of Alternate Kennedys, the short-story anthology in which “The Winterberry” first appeared, published by Tor Books in 1992 as a mass market paperback. And let’s not forget The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century, where the story landed again in 2001.

Finally, just for fun, check out this list of the Best Alternate History Stories according to goodreads. It’s an incredibly comprehensive list. I’m talking hundreds of books! Alternate Kennedys came in at a respectable 156, and the Best of the 20th Century at a slightly better 63. 

New Story and Other

New Nick Story

I’m happy to announce that one of my short stories is in the brand new
March/April 2019 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. F&SF is celebrating 70 years of publishing some of the genre’s finest tales. I’m thrilled to be among so many excellent authors, including my two great pals John Kessel and Rich Larson.

Special thanks to C.c. Finlay and all the fine folks at the magazine. You can find the issue in bookstores in the US, including most Barnes & Nobles, or buy directly from F&SF. (I’ve copied in some order info at the bottom of this post.)

Other

menwomen1Since I’m digging on short stories so much lately, I’ll take this opportunity to recommend Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women. Just as the title suggests, each story is about a man who is haunted by a woman he cannot possess. Murakami is one of my favorite authors. He’s a brilliant stylist who is equally adept at the long and short forms. I enjoyed this book for its many layers of complexity and surprisingly sensitive exploration of men and the inner workings of their hearts. (For you writers out there, Literary Hub published an interesting compilation of Murakami’s writing advice well worth exploring.)

Order info for F&SF:

Strange and Strangers

Strange

Books and stories about writers are a dime a dozen. Movies about writers are not terribly uncommon. But a good TV show in this narrow genre is a rare find, which is why I’m ever so happy to recommend Bored to Death, an HBO original series about a struggling noir author who begins moonlighting as an “unlicensed” private detective on Craigslist to help make ends meet.

The show stars Jonathan Schwartzman, who brilliantly plays the role of Jonathan Ames, an insecure novelist and inexplicably overconfident gumshoe. Equally hilarious are Zach Galifianakis as comic-book writer/illustrator Ray Hueston, and Ted Danson as New York magazine mogul George Christopher. It’s a pleasure to see these three guys together on screen as they fumble their way through Jonathan’s ridiculous detective escapades, while trying to deal with their multiple neuroses, bad habits, and dysfunctional relationships with women.

The only bummer about the series is that it ran for just three seasons (2009-2011). I’m in the middle of watching it a second time around and enjoying this trip even more than the first. You don’t need to be a writer to get this show — the comedy works on many levels — but if you are, all the better.

Read the NYT recommendation for the show here, and watch it for free on Amazon Prime.

(Rating: Gut Busting Silliness!)

Strangers

I love short stories, and it’s always a joy to read an anthology that includes the work of friends. So it is with Strangers Among Us: Tales of Underdogs and Outcasts, a sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes tragic, and often inspiring gathering of tales about people wrestling with mental illness.

Lucas K. Law writes in the book’s foreword, “Mental illness can target any age group at any time. Mental illness can afflict a person for a period of time or become a life-long struggle. Mental illness can spring from many sources and manifest in many forms.”

Whether we realize it or not, we all know someone who is fighting with depression, PTSD, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, or some other mental challenge. These stories, in their own unique ways, shine a light on such struggles and help us understand them through the gentle art of storytelling.

Of note: The anthology and some of its authors were nominated for several Canadian literary awards. A portion of the book’s revenue will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Buy many copies and give them to your friends and loved ones, especially those who are dealing with some form of mental illness. They’ll thank you for it. 

Check it out on goodreads, and read the Kirkus review here

(Rating: People Are Strange When You’re a Stranger!)

Coming Soon

March-April2

A new Nick story, “Bella and the Blessed Stone,” is in the March/April 2019 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It should be available any day now. Like on March first. Yay!

One Last Quickie

From the Department of Misleading Headlines

I wanted to write one last blog before the end of the year, so in the spirit of our shrinking 2018 timeline, I’ll make it a quickie.

First, for those of you who love short fiction as much as I do, my last literary journey of the year is Ottessa Moshfegh’s Homesick for Another World. It’s a fabulous short story collection filled with quirky characters in search of their own perfect worlds. The stories are often as odd as the people who inhabit them. I love how creepy the author makes me feel inside my own skin as she explores the inner workings, troubled minds, and secret longings of her characters. Fans of the bizarre hiding inside realism will quiver with joy.

(Rating: Forgettable Title but Great Book!)

One for the Road

If you read my short story “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” in the Nov/Dec 2018 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, you might be interested in checking out the interview F&SF posted a few days ago on its blog site:

(Rating: Happy New Year, Friends!)

Monsters and Blondes

MC-Frankie

October gave me two great books. First, hats off to Mary Shelley and the 200th anniversary of the novel Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus. If you haven’t read the book in a long time, get the recent Penguin edition that reprints the original 1818 text with a new intro. Then, as a companion piece, watch the National Theatre’s live stage play on the big screen, Frankenstein, 2018 Encore. I saw it with friends at The Little Theatre during my visit upstate. You might need to hunt around for a theater that’s showing it, but it will be worth the effort. Promise!

I became a Michael Connelly fan a few years ago, and he’s now my favorite working writer of detective fiction. I’ve been knocking off his books in no particular order. I recently read The Concrete Blonde, a Harry Bosch novel, the third if you’re counting (originally pubbed in 1994). It’s one of the best I’ve read in the series so far. If you aren’t familiar with Connelly, check out his work, and read this exquisite feature piece in The Guardian

fsf-11-2018One final note to my cherished few readers. Here are the ordering and social media links for the Nov/Dec F&SF where my Italian folktale “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” appears. It’s a great issue. Enjoy!