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Tue, Jun. 29th, 2010, 10:50 pm
Interview!

Hi all! The awesome alanajoli was kind enough to interview me for a panel on vampires at Flames Rising. A bunch of writers share their thoughts about the Undead, french fries, and the most dangerous vampiric ability; I was especially interested to see where the panelists first encountered vampires. I haven't seen Barnabas Collins name-checked in a while, or Love at First Bite for that matter.

Go check it out!

Wed, Apr. 7th, 2010, 01:47 pm
Who, me?

I'm trying to update maxgladstone.com every weekday this month, and see how that feels. Today's entry: Rose vs. Amy, or why I feel Stephen Moffat hit the characterization on the Doctor's new companion out of the park.

That's all from Doctor Who, if you're confused. The new series is on netflix instant, I think, and is absolutely worth a view.

Mon, Mar. 8th, 2010, 05:36 pm
The Thaw Has Begun!

I went for a run in shorts on Saturday; the last two days I've doffed my battered leather jacket for the old corduroy, though I'm still sporting the hit man gloves. If / when the Rapture of the Geeks occurs (or any other rapture) this is one of those things we'll lose forever: the feeling of blood opening like a flower as we return to the sun.

Background writing for the webcomic project continues apace:

http://theshiftremembers.blogspot.com

The idea: The Shift is a desert that stretches between worlds. You walk into a desert in one dimension, lose your way, and end up in the Shift; if you ever walk out again, you'll be in another world entirely. The Shift allows trade, commerce, and war between dramatically different worlds, each with its own history, and its own approach to high technology or magic; it's a place of danger, drama, and opportunity, and a reporter, a runaway, and a renegade are about to change it forever (or die trying).

Thu, Mar. 4th, 2010, 02:12 pm
Worldbuidling

Three major projects weigh down my writing table:

1. The "sequel" to Three Parts Dead, on which more later.
2. A serial novel I'm cowriting with alanajoli for the Baeg Tobar website
3. A webcomic with the estimable Mel, who (after a glance at her blog) has been wasting almost as much time playing Robot Unicorn Attack as I've been recently. Warning: don't follow that last link unless you've got some time on your hands, or have exceptional self-control.

I'm excited about all of these, but the webcomic project deserves special mention. Mel's art is brilliant, of course, and the world we're playing in is vast and contains a multitude of conflicting factions. The main action is set in a desert called the Shift that stretches between worlds: you get lost in one of a number of dimensions, and you end up in the Shift. If you ever make it out, you can end up in your own world, or in a number of other realms across the cosmos, or in different dimensions (it's unclear to the inhabitants). Think "Great Game" style central Asia spy machinations on a cosmic scale, with giant insectile monsters, fanatical singularitarians, and plucky reports -- Zelazny-esque science fiction, pulp, and posthumanism.

In preparation for our eventual launch, I'm keeping a public journal with some development sketches and bits of "found text" from the world: newspaper articles, excerpts from scientific journals, snatches of conversation, some multimedia eventually. Check it out and tell me what you think: theshiftremembers.blogspot.com.

Fri, Feb. 19th, 2010, 12:18 pm
Fiscal Fantasy

One of the central conceits of my novel Three Parts Dead is that, in the world in which the novel takes place, money as we think of it doesn’t exist. Magic does. Money, if you think about it, is essentially a system of points people use to obtain things they desire: a farmer tills a field, and she gets paid because people want to eat. A journalist writes an article, he gets paid because people want to know the news of the world. An engineer invents a new valve, she gets paid because people don’t want their fuel system to explode. The same relationship holds in Three Parts Dead. Create a thing someone wants, and they will give pieces of their intangible selves, the spiritual essence they have cultivated and accumulated by creativity and sweat and long study, in trade for it.

Money and mystic might are very similar to one another: they’re both fungible resources freely convertible into goods or services. In modern life, both even have a certain moral taint associated with them. Like a dark magus, people often think an executive with billions of dollars in the bank must have done something morally questionable in his (or her) struggle attain that point, though they might not know what, and certainly no one would dare accuse either magus or billionaire of malfeasance to their face (or skull-like visage, as the case may be).

In Three Parts Dead, like in real life, most people just use their power to satisfy immediate desires, because that’s all they know how to do. Some people, tradesmen, invest their power in pacts and partnerships to acquire even more power. Apart from both are the Craftsmen, who learn the rules that underlie thaumaturgical manipulation and are called upon to fix problems when they arise. Tara, the main character of Three Parts Dead, is an apprentice Craftswoman on a case that's way out of her depth. Fortunately for her (and her clients), she's very good at her job.

The analogy extends further; I intend to write a short sequence of posts talking about the way this system looks and feels, and sketching out the way I’ve tried to reflect it in the world I’ve built in and around the city of Alt Coulumb. Comments appreciated!

(repost over from maxgladstone.com)

Tue, Feb. 9th, 2010, 04:59 pm
"The Four Modernizations" now available in Necrotic Tissue Magazine!

Any of you interested in zombies or China or horror or love (sort of) will want to check out my short story, "The Four Modernizations," available in the most recent issue of Necrotic Tissue Magazine, which you can purchase here or as part of a subscription through the publisher's website at www.necrotictissue.com.

Go forth! Read! Enjoy! You know you want to buy it, because my name is on the cover.

Fri, Dec. 18th, 2009, 02:04 pm
Interview at Eposic Diversions

Crossposting from maxgladstone.com:

The wonderful people at Eposic Diversions, who published my short story “On Starlit Seas” in The Book of Exodi, will soon publish another story of mine, “Zach and the Thunderbird,” in their forthcoming anthology Out of Order, a collection of short stories about tomfoolery with time.

Andrew from Eposic Diversions interviewed me earlier this month about the two short stories; I talk a bit about inspiration, process, and time travel, and hopefully don't sound like a complete idiot. Check it out!

Thu, Dec. 17th, 2009, 03:45 pm
You Got Hooked

Just posted to maxgladstone.com again for the first time in a while -- go check it out! Features some discussion of a new story I'm working on, plus links to some awesome illustrations a friend has been working on for Three Parts Dead.

Oh, and if any of you are in the Cambridge area, you can visit Pandemonium Books and pick up copies of the Book of Exodi, the anthology in which my short story "On Starlit Seas" was included. Fun! Also, lucrative!

Fri, Nov. 6th, 2009, 11:26 am
Perdido Street Station

I know, I may be the last person in fandom to read this book, and after winning the Arthur C. Clarke award, garnering rave reviews, and essentially founding the steampunk genre, it doesn’t need any help from me.

But I’m not here to talk about the characters, most of whom are just as honorable and twisted as real-life people, nor about the language, which is gorgeous and depraved, though my editor brain, honed from obsessive rereads of Three Parts Dead over the last few months, occasionally catches Mieville reusing words he really should not reuse (febrile, putrefying). I’m here to tell a story:

Yesterday as I walked to work I read a section of the book that features a horrible insect monster. This is not a spoiler, as within the first five or six pages it becomes clear that horrible monsters of some sort, probably insectile, are an inevitable consequence of Mieville’s world.

As I read, I think to myself: “You know, this would be really scary if I were reading it at night; as it is, it’s great, honest fun and not particularly scary at all.”

At that moment, the wind decided to blow a plastic candy wrapper over the pebbly sidewalk at my feet, producing a sound not unlike giant insect legs tickling over a wooden floor. I first saw the wrapper in question from an unusual vantage point, because upon hearing the strange sound I had jumped about a foot and a half straight up in the air out of abject monkey-brain terror.

So much for broad daylight, I suppose.

Mon, Oct. 12th, 2009, 03:57 pm
Function f()

orewashinanai referred to the personal utility function in a recent post, which put me in mind of a philosophy lecture I attended as an undergrad featured one of the most hilarious displays of academic obliviousness I've ever had the pleasure to see.

The young philosophy professor in question was giving a lecture on utilitarianism to an auditorium of 120 undergraduates.

"The basic idea is, we determine how much utility is derived from doing something. So say there's an act, f." He scribbles a letter 'f' on the board. "And say we derive about twenty units of utility from f.'ing"

A giggle or two from the crowd. I raise one eyebrow.

"Now, if we f. something, or someone, and it gives the other person some utility too-"

More chuckles. The professor looks over his shoulder, evidently confused. He draws two stick figures on the board, on either side of the 'f', with an arrow moving from one to the other through the 'f.'

"Say if this person over here derives only 10 units of utility from my f.'ing them, then that would be less desirable than if they derived 20 units of utility from my f.'ing them."

Much of the class is laughing uncontrollably now. The professor looks around again.

"Do I have something on my jacket?"

More laughter. He checks his jacket. There is, needless to say, nothing on the jacket.

"So, in sum, we can rate how 'good' the f.-ing of a thing is by the amount of utility everyone derives from-"

And this is about when I lost it and joined with the laughter.

Either that professor was the best actor or the driest academic I've had the pleasure of knowing...

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