#SSS: Short Story Saturdays!!

Friday, March 28th, 2014

My resolution for 2014 was to read more short stories. And I’ve mostly been able to stick to it, because (1) apps like Pocket make it easy to save and organize and carry around all the excellent free short fiction that gets published on the web every week, (2) short stories are more suitable for treadmill reading than novels, and (3) unlike other resolutions (eating healthy, learning a language, being a good person etc), reading short stories is really really fun.

But when you read good writing, you wanna talk about it. And let’s face it, social media conversations don’t exactly blossom over short-form spec-fic the way they do over HuffPo articles and the latest celebrity shenanigans.

So when Daniel Jose Elder mentioned on Twitter that he’s “been pondering how to generate more buzz/conversation around short stories on social media..” that sounded like exactly the sort of thing I’d been thinking about. And of course the answer to any question on Twitter is: make a hashtag.

So Daniel, Lisa Bolekaja, and I came up with Short Story Saturday: #SSS. And then we started twatting at our writer friends and heroes, trying to build some buzz about it. And some awesome people got excited, and started retweeting us. And everybody knows it’s an ironclad law of the internet that once Cory Doctorow retweets something, it’s officially a thing.

And now we need you!! Let’s talk short stories, this Saturday.

Have you read a decent short story in the past week? Tell us all about it on Twitter, using hashtag #SSS to celebrate Short Story Saturday!

Vote for me, for the Locus Award!

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

My short story “The Beasts We Want To Be,” published in the final issue of Electric Velocipede, is on the ballot for the 43rd annual Locus Awards. Please check out my story, and vote for it if you like it! Deadline for voting is April 15th. Anyone can vote, but votes from Locus subscribers count double.

Some awesome people had some awesome things to say about it -

Gardner Dozois wrote of “The Beasts We Want to Be”:

Electric Velocipede 26 and 27 each … contained one of the best stories of the year…. The best story in Electric Velocipede 27, the magazine’s final issue, is “The Beasts We Want to Be” by new writer Sam J. Miller, a dark, brutal story of the kind of men produced by harrowing conditioning sessions with Skinner Boxes and electroshock therapy in an alternate Russia just after the Communist Revolution and how those men struggle to reconcile what they have become with what they once were.

Locus included it in their 2013 Recommended Reading List.

The ChiZine blog called it “heartbreaking,” and “a searing critique of society’s uncompromising expectation of a specific kind of masculinity,” and that while the protagonist “learns about beauty, love and the dangers of the Pavlov Boxes… in the end none of these messages have half the strength of the genuine grief at lost friendship that seeps off the page.”

Rich Horton wrote:

“The Beasts We Want to Be” by new writer Sam J. Miller [is] a strong SF horror story set in an alternate post-Revolution Russia told by a “Broken” soldier who has been conditioned in a “Pavlov’s Box” to serve the goals of the Revolution as he commandeers the artwork of an aristocratic family, then finds himself drawn to save a woman of that family from reconditioning, and then to save a painting of her husband.  Very dark stuff.

In her 2013 year in review for Locus, Lois Tilton called it “a strongly realistic piece of human loss.”

The online ballot is here; once again, the deadline is April 15th. Please check out my story, and vote for it if you like it! And then read tons of the other stuff on there. Everything on that list that I’ve read has been phenomenal, including stuff by friends and heroes like Ted Chiang, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Matthew Kressel, Jeffrey Ford, Karen Joy Fowler, Amahl El-Mohtar, Ken Liu, Aliette De Bodard, Indrapramit Das, James Patrick Kelly, Charlie Jane Anders, Christopher Barzak, Catherynne Valente, Kenneth Schneyer, Genevieve Valentine, and so many more.

I’ll be Part of the Lost & Found Show’s “Video Games” Edition!

Monday, March 10th, 2014

This Wednesday I’ll be reading at the Lost & Found Show’s Video Games Edition, at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street in New York City.

I have a well-documented obsession with old-school Nintendo games, so  I was excited to be asked to participate. And I love how the line-up of writers includes folks from lots of different artistic backgrounds.

The Facebook event is here; see below for all the details!

The Lost & Found Show’s “Video Games” Edition – Wednesday March 12th!

Featuring:

Peter Olson (Marvel, UCB, Spike TV)
Sam J. Miller (The Rumpus, Minnesota Review)
Matt London (Tor.com, Fantasy Magazine)
Anna Roisman (MTV, Huffington Post, College Humor)

Musical Guest:

The Royal Bees

Special Trivia Sponsored by:

Games For Change

Hosted by Daniel Guzman

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
(Doors 7:00PM) 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker St
(between Sullivan St. and Thompson St)
New York, NY 10012

Nearest Trains:
W 4th St (A, B, C, D, E, F, M)
8 St – NYU (N, R)
Bleecker St (6)
Broadway-Lafayette (B, D, F, M)

21+
FREE

Each month, we bring together authors, bloggers, comedians, and performers to share fiction and nonfiction stories involving a theme object that could be found in a lost and found box. We’ve featured burlesque stars, magicians, Moth Grand Slam winners, actors, someone’s mom, and a ukulele player.

For a list of upcoming theme objects, or to submit a story for consideration, visit:
lostfoundshow.com
Twitter: @lostfoundshow
Facebook.com/lostfoundshow

Book Reviews, by Me.

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

I’m excited to share that I’ve joined the crew of the phenomenal YA book review site Guys Lit Wire!!

My first review went live last week - check out my thoughts on the astonishingly beautiful Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

If you’re not familiar with GLW, do check it out. There’s nothing chauvinistic about its focus on teen boy readers - it’s really about recognizing that it’s very difficult to get teen boys excited about books, and that they often connect to books very differently from young women readers.

I’m a fan of anything that helps teachers/parents/librarians/whoever put great books in the hands of the young men in their lives. Especially gay and trans boys who are particularly hungry for books that reflect their own experiences. I remember how much it meant to Teenage Me, catching a glimpse of myself in a book. With all the exciting and diverse protagonists populating YA fiction these days - and all the great tools for hyping young people to books and giving them space to talk about them - it’s exciting to be part of that work.

Blogging Brilliant Stories: “Karina Who Kissed Spacetime,” by Indrapramit Das, and “The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere,” by John Chu

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

First of all, I owe this blog post to Brit Mandelo, whose recent Tor.com Short Fiction Spotlight hit my RSS reader with perfect timing, considering that my New Year’s Resolution was to READ MORE SHORT STORIES!! Which comes with a corollary commitment: to TALK about the stories I read, especially when they’re amazing, and to do that on my blog as a way to shout out awesome shit as well as force myself to put into words what works for me in great stories, which often make sense on an emotional level but not always on a verbal one. I tore right into Brit’s suggestions, and my life was much enriched.

So, borrowing Brit’s thunder, I’ll do two stories here, instead of my usual one, and hope that’ll kickstart my “Blogging Brilliant Stories” for 2014.

In 2012 I read and loved Indrapramit Das’s “Weep For Day,” in Asimov’s, so my eye is always out for more stuff from him (also, he’s a Clarion West grad, so we are telepathically linked through the Greater Clarion Collective Hive Mind). When Brit hyped Karina Who Kissed Spacetime (originally in Apex) I checked it out right away. It’s a beautifully imaged, richly felt flash of feeling and scene, capturing the adolescent head-rush joy-agony of first love so marvelously that it almost feels like the speculative element (the protagonist’s first love is capable of shattering the spacetime continuum and sending him dancing through time) might just as well be an expression of a young person’s euphoric hyperbolic way of seeing the world and experiencing emotion. That’s what I think great spec-fic should do: use ridiculous lies to dramatize and underscore something fundamentally true about the human condition; in this case, the worldbending intensity of teen love.

John Chu’s “The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere” is a near-perfect SFF story, using a totally fresh and wacky SF conceit (one day the laws of physics change and ice-cold water falls on you from nowhere when you tell a lie; also, attempts to game the system and equivocate may result in permanent insanity) to explore and illuminate the relationship between two boyfriends as one of them grapples with whether & how to come out to his parents. Phenomenal set-up of both the “magic” system and the characters; I was totally crushed out on the boyfriend. Then we travel home for the holidays, as the main character resolves to finally tell his parents what’s up. There’s a level on which its protagonist’s family drama, struggling to come out to his parents even as his sister is constantly blocking them from being alone with them, becomes a little comedy-of-errors, but I’m not sure that’s a demerit. I think it speaks to the strength of the story that it can so robustly deploy all the complex ramifications of a new and exciting speculative concept and then move on to use it to explore some fascinatingly real interpersonal dynamics. So even if the family nuance elements didn’t always work for me personally as well as the relationship between the narrator and his boyfriend, they do work. I suspect that, as someone who is IN an intercultural gay marriage, those moments of family tension and terror and magic and wonderfulness might in fact have worked too well for me.

A final note on “The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere” - sometimes you see the ending coming, and it ruins the story. BUT sometimes you hope the story will end a certain way, and when it does it’s a wonderful thing. That’s what happened with this one. I won’t spoil it, but there was a point 3/4 of the way through where I thought “ooooooh it would be so awesome if THIS THING happened,” and THAT THING happened, really nicely.

So, here’s to excellent stories, and reading more of them in 2014, and talking about them, and blogging about them. And oh yeah writing them too maybe.

“The Beasts We Want to Be,” in Electric Velocipede #27

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

The final issue of Electric Velocipede is out now. While I’m really sad this phenomenal journal is gone, I am really proud to have my story “The Beasts We Want to Be” included alongside tons of terrific work in this issue.  And it’s available for free on their website!

I wrote this one at Clarion 2012 - it’s about Soviet human experimentation, brotherly love, bloody revenge, and a maybe-magical painting. It was reviewed in Locus Magazine, who named it a “Recommended” story (and said “…The heart of it is this: How can ordinary people be brought to do acts of routine brutality? Or that there is something human in the worst of us?…”). Locus also cited it in their year-end best short fiction post.

Electric Velocipede also did a short interview with me, which they ran on their Facebook page, and which I’m pasting in here for folks who aren’t on Facebook.

1. What inspired you to write this story?
I firmly believe that the universe sends me important messages via the shuffle function on my MP3 player. The germ of this story sprouted when the National’s song “Abel” came on while I was out for a run, and for years I’ve wanted to capture in fiction the relationship that song describes. It’s about two men, friends, one of whom makes the other want to be a better person. Really it’s about the function our friends serve in our lives, and what happens to us when they disappear. And I find friendships between straight men fascinatingly fraught and complex in general. At the time I was attending the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop, and learning so much from my teachers and classmates about the limitless palette that speculative fiction gives us to explore the human experience in the most ridiculous marvelous ways. So of course I immediately thought: post-Revolution/Civil-War-era Soviet Russia, monstrous human experimentation, magical painting, deceit, betrayal, love, revenge, death. Like you do. And then Ted Chiang read it and asked me like one question that turned my whole world on end and helped me turn the story into something way more awesome than anything I could have done on my own.

2. What’s your favorite thing about it?
I think the Pavlov Boxes are neat. I’ve always found Soviet history to be pretty fricking SFF, but I’m aware that FOR SOME REASON other people don’t get quite so excited about the subject. So if I captured that in a way other people can get into, I’m pleased.

3. What is your favorite color?
I love them all. You’d have to be more specific. For clothing I love dark greys, reds, blues. For food I love greens and reds. For nature I love a nice autumn palette.

Electric Velocipede: Issue 27 Release Party - and Memorial Service

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

After twelve years of publishing crucial fiction and poetry from some of the most exciting names in science fiction & fantasy, the seminal magazine Electric Velocipede will cease publication upon the release of its 27th issue.

Join NYC-based fans for an event that’s equal parts release party and memorial service, with current and past contributors to the journal reading and reminiscing and rhapsodizing and eulogizing. Also, there will be candy.

Friday, February 28th, at 7PM

Bluestockings Books (172 Allen Street, on the Lower East Side - F/V to 2nd Avenue),

Hosted by Issue #27 contributors Nancy Hightower & Sam J. Miller

Did we mention candy?

With readings and remembrances from the following EV contributors:

Richard Bowes has published six novels, four short story collections and seventy stories. He has won two World Fantasy Awards, an International Horror Guild and a Million Writer Award. 2013 was a busy year: Lethe Press published a new Bowes novel Dust Devil on a Quiet Street and republished his 1999 Lambda Award Winning Minions of the Moon. Also out this year is an illustrated book of modern fairy tales, The Queen, the Cambion and Seven Others from Aqueduct and If Angels Fight a career spanning story collection from Fairwood.


Nancy Hightower’s short fiction and poetry has been published in Strange Horizons, Word Riot, storySouth, Gargoyle, Electric Velocipede, Prick of the Spindle, and Bourbon Penn, among others. Her debut novel Elementarí Rising came out with Pink Narcissus Press in 2013.


Robert J. Howe has published short fiction in Electric Velocipede, Salon.com, Intergalactic Medicine Show, the magazines AnalogBlack GatePulphouse, and Weird Tales; the anthologies Happily Ever After and Newer York, and elsewhere. Howe is the editor, with John Ordover, of the anthology Coney Island Wonder Stories.Howe is a graduate of the journalism program at Brooklyn College, and the Clarion Writer’s Workshop at Michigan State University. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and works in higher education communications.

Brooklyn born and bred (with the accent to prove it), Barbara Krasnoff has sold over 25 short stories to a variety of publications. Her work can be found in the anthologies Memories and Visions, Such A Pretty Face, Descended From Darkness, Clockwork Phoenix 2, Broken Time, Subversion, Fat Girl in a Strange Land, and Menial. Her work has also appeared in Amazing Stories, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Descant, Weird Tales, Sybil’s Garage, Escape Velocity, Behind the Wainscot, Doorways, Apex, Electric Velocipede, Space and Time, Crossed Genres, Atomic Avarice and Cosmos.  Most recently, her story “The History of Soul 2065″ appeared in Clockwork Phoenix 4,  ”Under the Bay Court Tree” will be in an upcoming issue of Space and Time, and “Symbiosis” will be in Crossed Genres in early 2014. Barbara is also the author of a YA non-fiction book, Robots: Reel to Real, and is currently Sr. Reviews Editor for tech publication Computerworld. She is a member of the NYC writers group Tabula Rasa, and lives in (you guessed it) Brooklyn, NY, with her partner Jim Freund.

Matthew Kressel’s fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Clarkesworld Magazine, io9.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Interzone, Electric Velocipede, Apex Magazine, and the anthologies Launch Pad, Naked CityAfter,The People of the Book, and The Mammoth Book of Steampunk, as well as other markets. He published and edited the speculative fiction magazine Sybil’s Garage, and in 2010 was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in the category of Special Award Non-Professional for his work. He also published Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy, which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology in 2009. He is the co-host of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in Manhattan alongside Ellen Datlow. And he is a long-time member of the Altered Fluid writing group. His website is www.matthewkressel.net.

Sam J. Miller is a writer and a community organizer. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Nightmare Magazine, Strange Horizons, Electric Velocipede, Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, The Minnesota Review, The Rumpus, and many more. He is the co-editor of Horror After 9/11, a critical anthology published by the University of Texas Press and included in the “Brilliant/Lowbrow” quadrant of the famedNew York Magazine Approval Matrix. Visit him at www.samjmiller.com

Mercurio D. Rivera’s short fiction has appeared in a variety of venues, including Asimov’s Science Fiction, Interzone, Nature, Black Static, Solaris Rising 2, Year’s Best SF 17, Unplugged: The Web’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages. He has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and is a winner of Interzone’s annual readers’ poll. His collection Across the Event Horizon has been called “weird and wonderful,” with “dizzying switchbacks,” “a revelation” with “twists followed by more twists heightening a powerful sense of alienation and menace.” He is a born and bred Bronxite who loves playing paddleball on weekends.

William Shunn began his professional software development career at WordPerfect in 1991, where he wrote 80×86 assembly language code and helped kill the DOS version of that venerable word processor. He still uses WordPerfect for most of his prose writing, which includes more than thirty works of short fiction. His stories have appeared everywhere from Asimov’s to Salon, and have been shortlisted for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. Five of those stories appeared in Electric Velocipede, including one under the nom de plume Perry Slaughter. Spilt Milk Press also published his chapbook An Alternate History of the 21st Century in 2007.  For three years, Bill hosted Chicago’s eclectic monthly Tuesday Funk reading series.  He now lives in New York City again, with his wife Laura Chavoen and their soft-coated wheaten terrier Ella the Wonder Dog.

Jonathan Wood is an Englishman in New York.There’s a story in there involving falling in love and flunking out of med school, but in the end it all worked out all right, and, quite frankly, the medical community is far better off without him, so we won’t go into it here.Electric Velocipede published the first short story he ever had accepted.  More recently his debut novel, No Hero was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “a funny, dark, rip-roaring adventure with a lot of heart, highly recommended for urban fantasy and light science fiction readers alike,” and Barnes and Noble listed it has one of the 20 best paranormal fantasies of the past decade.

New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series STARRING ME

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

On Tuesday, January 7th, I’ll be sharing a bill with the marvelous Jennifer Marie Brissett at the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series. Participating in this venerable, 23-year-old series is a huge honor for me, and I know it’ll make for a hell of a night.

Jenn and I appeared on the radio program Hour of the Wolf last year, promoting our respective readings, and we had a blast. Jenn posted a link to the full audio on her blog, if you wanna get a sample of how much fun you’ll have if you come to the NYRSF event on January 7th.

Huge thanks to host Jim Freund, for having us on.

I’m quivering with excitement. Hope you can make it.

Reading will take place at the SoHo Gallery for Digital Art
138 Sullivan Street
Doors open at 6:30 PM
Program begins at 7:00
Admission Free
$7 donation suggested

Here’s Jenn reading, on WBAI with me last year. Note the 7 words you can’t say, on the radio station wall behind her.

Upcoming Publications: Electric Velocipede, Daily Science Fiction

Monday, November 25th, 2013

I’m super-excited to announce that I’ve got two short stories coming out in the near future!

My story “Sabi, Wabi, Aware, Yugen” will be published by Daily Science Fiction on December 6th. If you’re not already a subscriber to Daily Science Fiction, you should really consider doing so. A free excellent short story in your inbox EVERY DAY? Including mine???!? Go here to register, and if you do it before December 6th you’ll wake up to my story.

In addition, my story “The Beasts We Want to Be” will be included in Electric Velocipede #27. This is an incredible honor, the more so because it was recently announced that this will be the last issue of this important magazine. There’s no release date yet, but stay tuned to their website - and this one! - because Electric Velocipede is going to make a hell of an exit.

11 reasons why seeing Jurassic Park in 3D re-release was one of the best movie-theater experiences I’ve had in a long time.

Monday, April 8th, 2013

11. People my age who now have kids forgot just how scary the movie is, and brought their young kids, and some of those scenes had the whole theater screaming and crying.

10. People my age forgot just how scary the movie is, and THEY THEMSELVES might have screamed at a couple moments. And by “people my age” I of course mean “me.”

9. Dozens of teenagers whistling the theme music throughout the massive crowded 42nd Street multiplex.

8. Just like when I saw it at age 14, I got to the theater late and it was opening weekend and and I had to sit in the second row. AND IT WAS AWESOME.

7. When Lex said “I happen to be a vegetarian,” at least two people yelled “DIKE.”

6. B.D. Wong is so adorable.

5. As a grown-up, I’m much more able to tune out Jeff Goldblum’s obnoxiousness.

4. #MotherFuckingImax

3. Velociraptor/Tyrannosaurus rivalry. One is the reigning queen, the other is the fresh young ingenue upstart who thinks she’s bad, with her giant razor toe claw and ABILITY TO OPEN DOORS, tryna upstage a bitch, being all “I’M THE SCARIEST!”

2. The velociraptor/tyrannosaurus rivalry gettin settled in the most spectacular dinosaur-ex-machina OH-SHIT-NO-THEY-DI’INT climax EVER.

1. I sometimes forget, but it’s a truth universally acknowledged: TYRANNOSAURUSES ARE THE BEST MONSTERS EVER AND THEY’RE REAL.

Blogging Brilliant Stories: “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary,” by Ken Liu

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I read this story over the summer and fell utterly hopelessly in love, and I’ve been meaning to do a blog post rant about its awesomeness ever since.

The full text of the story is available online, here. Go. The story will convince you of its perfection far better than I could. I’ll wait.

This is a time travel story. It’s a story about the Japanese occupation of China in the 1930’s-40’s, and about the medical testing lab in Pingfang District, which many call the Asian Auschwitz, where thousands of Chinese were murdered in the course of unspeakably horrible “experiments.” And as the story says, “at the end of the War, General MacArthur, supreme commander of the Allied forces, granted all members of Unit 731 immunity from war crimes prosecution in order to get the data from their experiments and to keep the data away from the Soviet Union.” If for nothing more than its comprehensive capsule history of this ugly era, “The Man Who Ended History” is worth reading (… really, I gotta say, the authorities at Pingfang were light years ahead of the Nazis when it comes to dreaming up truly horrific things to do to the human body).

Of course no matter how awesome its speculative conceit is, or how important and weighty its subject matter, no story can truly live and breathe without great characters with complex relationships, and “The Man Who Ended History” has those. I loved the time I got to spend with Evan Wei and Akemi Kirino; I found Wei’s dilemma and its ultimate “resolution” very moving.

There’s also a ton of really detailed stuff exploring problems of continuity and consistency between the current governments of China and Japan, and their counterparts of the era of the Pingfang atrocities. I adore that shit, and this story does it so well.

But here’s the heart of why this story rises above “great” and becomes “brilliant,” in my book.

It’s my firm belief that science fiction/fantasy is the only language in which we can discuss human suffering at the staggering scope of genocide. Genocide is the stuff of nightmare; it’s a suspension of all the rules that human beings live by, and we can’t actually attempt to understand it by exploring a fictional world where those rules still apply.  Godzilla is the only way to get our heads around Hiroshima. Octavia Butler’s Kindred is the window through which we can watch American slavery.

That’s what “The Man Who Ended History” does, and does it in ways that convince us, whether or not we know anything at all about China-Japan relations in the present or the past, that the little-known atrocities at Pingfang are absolutely essential to understanding what it means to be human.

Why I Am on Tumblr.

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

This week, I did it: I took the Tumbl.

I often feel the need to justify decisions like this, even if it’s only to myself - YOU HAVE WRITING TO DO! WHY ARE YOU FRAKKING AROUND WITH GIFS OF PUPPIES IN SWINGS AND HORROR MOVIE SCENES REPLAYING INTO INFINITY???!?

So here’s why.

Last week, I had coffee with my agent for the first time. Which was amazing. Because she is amazing. I mentioned that I found it hard to find time to blog, since what little writing time I can claim for myself is typically taken up with the actual prose, the writing and the editing of short stories or my novel.

She suggested that I get on Tumblr.

Now, I’ve been told at least a dozen times before that Tumblr is awesome and I need to drop everything and GET WITH THE PROGRAM RIGHT AWAY. Here’s why it made a difference this time:

Right before that, I had been at Barnes & Noble on Union Square North, browsing the YA section, and there was this group of young women, 15-16 years old, talking loudly and excitedly about their favorite books, and their passion for and encyclopedic knowledge of books was really contagious, and a reminder of where I want to be as a writer and a reader, and how differently a teenager experiences a book from how an adult does. And every sentence ended in Tumblr.
Tumblr, it seemed, was a place where people went to talk about and share and learn about the things they loved.

And I love a lot of things.*

To probably-misquote my agent: “It’s not so much about you as a writer sharing your process and your perspective with readers. It’s about you as a person sharing things you like with other people who might like them too.”

Well, that I can get behind. So thank you, nameless girls who love reading and Tumblr, and thanks, agent.

And now I’m on Tumblr. And of course, just like with Twitter, because some OTHER Sam J Miller already took my name, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE POSTED LIKE ONE THING EVER, I had to go with something else. So I’msentencebender. Just like on Twitter.

I’m not going to abandon this blog. I’ll still have lots to say, INCLUDING weekly check-ins on the most awesome stuff I’ve Tumbld, but different platforms call for different content, so I’ll be doing different stuff here than I do on Tumblr, or Twitter, or Facebook.

See you there!

- Sam J M

* Some of the things I love, in no particular order: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Battlestar Galactica, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Neuromancer & Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, Beethoven, Castlevania, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Chocolate War, sexy men with or without clothes on, Metroid, Mega Man, Zora Neale Hurston, Virginia Woolf, Ted Chiang, The Hunger Games trilogy, His Dark Materials, Susan Sontag, Will Grayson/Will Grayson by David Levithan & John Green, Whitney Houston, everything by Octavia Butler, Cloud Atlas, Anna Karenina, Godzilla, Donna Summer, Alfred Hitchcock, Candyman, The Twilight Zone, Sergei Eisenstein, Macbeth, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, US-China relations, Richard Avedon, the Great Gatsby, everything James Baldwin ever wrote, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bette Davis, Fritz Lang, King Kong, Orson Welles, Ennio Morricone, Sergio Leone, Carl-Theodor Dreyer, liberation struggles throughout history, Yasujiro Ozu, Madonna, Marlene Dietrich, Smokey Robinson, The Crystals, The Ronettes, Fugazi, Sade, PJ Harvey, Double Dragon 2, Dragon Warrior 3, Adrienne Rich, Federico Garcia Lorca, Greta Garbo, Jane Eyre, Kenji Mizoguchi, Anno Dracula, everything Sigourney Weaver has ever been in, Dziga Vertov, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Babel, Du Fu, Ninja Gaiden, NES, SNES, Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis, Jackie Brown by Quentin Tarantino, dinosaurs, sharks, science fiction & fantasy in general, Dorothea Lange, A Separate Peace, Civilization & Its Discontents, The Brothers Karamazov, Julio Cortazar, Jean Genet, Alan Hollinghurst, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Spike Lee, Roman Polanski, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, AI, The Clash, Johnny Cash, The Pixies Nirvana, Israel/Palestine, coffee, tea, SO MUCH MORE.

“My problem is that all things are increasingly interesting to me” - William Gibson.

EPIC WIN: Last Night’s LGBTQ Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading!!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Last night, I had the honor of curating and co-MC’ing an incredible lineup of LGBT science fiction & fantasy writers. Carmen Maria Machado (who wrote this excellent writeup on the event), Val Howlett, myself, Richard Bowes, Ellen Kushner,  and Delia Sherman read a fascinating and diverse range of work; I had been worried about having such an ambitious list of readers, but everyone presented tight, terse, strong work and we kept it moving and the whole shebang of six readers was done in just about an hour!!

[CLICK PICTURE TO SEE US FULL-SIZE]

But the real star of the evening was the crowd. SO MANY PEOPLE CAME!!! So humbling to see so many people I know and love - including people who came from California and the UK for this - as well as so many awesome new friends who are fans of queerness or SFFness or both.

Do you know that episode of I Love Lucy where Ricky is tired of hearing Lucy complain about how much work it is to be a homemaker, and says he can do better, and he tries to cook dinner, and he’s making rice, and he puts in four pounds of rice, so of course it overflows and fills the whole kitchen? That’s kind of how last night was. The community organizer in me has been so anxious about there being any empty seats in the house that I did maybe a little bit TOO MUCH turnout work… and the crowd was incredible. Every seat packed; so many people standing up that no one else could even come in the door…people were standing on the January sidewalk with their noses pressed to the glass because they couldn’t get in!

Here’s a glimpse. This was taken at 6:55PM, FIVE MINUTES BEFORE THE EVENT WAS EVEN SCHEDULED TO START; by 7:30 forgetaboutit.

This event was a great reminder of what a privilege it is to be part of two incredibly warm, tight-knit, supportive communities - the queer community, and the speculative fiction community. And when they overlap, like they did last night, it’s a beautiful thing. I had originally hoped to shout out all the incredible people who I know, but there were so many folks there who I adore and it all became such a blur that I am paralyzed by the fear of snubbing someone. I’ll just say that the audience had writers I adore, editors of magazines and of books that I love, and millions of my devoted readers like me.

Also, it was a terrific advertisement for the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. None of this would have happened without Clarion. That’s where I met Carmen, my classmate, and Delia, my teacher - the nucleus of the reading. That’s where my SFF writing chops got sharpened to the point where I could write a pretty solid story like the one I read last night. And that’s where I realized how easy and meaningful it is to be a part of this incredible community.

So. If you’re thinking about applying to Clarion 2013, which has an INCREDIBLE roster of writer-instructors, you should consider this a strong nudge from me. And if the time and the money just aren’t there (as they weren’t, for me, for years), you should join me in making a donation to the Clarion Foundation. Because, karma. And because wonderful things like this don’t turn a profit - the tuition students pay doesn’t begin to cover the actual cash value of the food and lodging and UCSD facilities access, let ALONE the priceless counsel and guidance of your teachers and classmates.

DO IT.

Queer Science Fiction & Fantasy in NYC, January 7th.

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

A reminder that on Monday, January 7th, 2013, at 7PM, I’ll be reading as part of an LGBTQ Science Fiction & Fantasy Night at Bluestockings Books in New York City.

Time Out NY and Next Magazine BOTH SAY YOU MUST COME TO THIS READING. Or at least that you should consider it. The Facebook event is here.

Speculative fiction is a fundamentally queer enterprise - an exercise in imagining radically different ways of being. Some of New York City’s leading queer writers of science fiction and fantasy - and a few out-of-town guests - will gather for six short pieces exploring science fiction and fantasy in all its wild imaginative weirdness. Featuring: Richard Bowes, Val Howlett, Ellen Kushner, Carmen Maria Machado, Sam J. Miller, and Delia Sherman.

LGBTQ Science Fiction & Fantasy Night

Monday, January 7th, 2013, at 7PM

Bluestockings Books - 172 Allen Street, New York NY 10002

Reader Bios:

Richard Bowes’ new novel Dust Devil on a Quiet Street will appear on Mayday 2013 from Lethe Press. Minions of the Moon his 1999 Lambda-winning novel will soon be available in e-book and POD formats


Val Howlett
is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children and Young Adults program. Her story”The Arf Thing” was the winner of VCFA’s In a Nutshell Short Story Award in the summer of 2011. She is currently working on a YA novel, Underdog. from Tor. Recent and forthcoming appearances include: F&SF, Icarus, Apex, Lightspeed and The anthologies Million Writers Award, After, Wilde Stories 2012, Bloody Fabulous, Ghost’s: Recent Hauntings, Handsome Devil, Hauntings, Once Upon a Time and Where Thy Dark Eye Glances

Ellen Kushner’s first novel, Swordspoint, quickly became a cult book that some say initiated the queer end of the “fantasy of manners” spectrum.  She returned to the same setting in The Privilege of the Sword and its sequel, The Fall of the Kings (written with her partner, Delia Sherman), as well as a growing number of short

stories. Her second novel, Thomas the Rhymer, won the Mythopoeic Award and the World Fantasy Award. She and her partner, author and educator Delia Sherman, live in New York City, with a lot of books, airplane ticket stubs, and no cats whatsoever. www.EllenKushner.com

Carmen Maria Machado is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Unstuck, Indiana Review, Five Chapters, Opium Magazine, and Best Women’s Erotica 2012 (from Cleis Press). She has contributed nonfiction to The Paris Review Daily, The Hairpin, and The Rumpus. She lives in Iowa City.

Sam J. Miller is a writer and a community organizer. His fiction and essays have appeared in Strange Horizons, The Minnesota Review, Fiction International, Washington Square, and The Rumpus. He is a graduate of the 2012 Clarion Writer’s Workshop, and the co-editor of Horror After 9/11, an anthology

published by the University of Texas Press. Visit him at www.samjmiller.com

Delia Sherman has been exploring history, fairy tale, and gay themes in her fiction ever since her first novel, Through A Brazen Mirror came out in 1989. In collaboration with her partner Ellen Kushner, she wrote the World Fantasy Award nominated novella “The Fall of the Kings,” which they later expanded considerably into The Fall of the Kings.  Delia enjoys teaching, knitting, living in New York City and traveling.

Top Ten Most Ridiculous and Amazing Things Grace Jones Said Between Songs at the Roseland, NYC, Saturday October 27 2012

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Saturday night I was so so so fortunate to attend the Grace Jones concert at the Roseland, which, needless to

say to anyone who knows the genius that is Grace, was amazing. There’s tons of photos and videos out there (here are some) of her great clothes (her act contained APPROXIMATELY ONE MILLION COSTUME CHANGES).
So there’s not much I can add, except to say that her banter with the crowd (and her vendetta against the man working her spotlights) was worth the price of admission all on its own.
Here, then, are the ten most ridiculous and amazing things Grace Jones said at the Roseland on October 27, 2012.
  1. “Down, girl!” [to her lady parts] “A bitch is hungry!”
  2. “Oh my God, I need to suck a dick.”
  3. “Oh shit, I missed the whole song. I thought we were doing the long version!” [during THIS epic amazing performance of my absolute favorite song of hers, La Vie en Rose]
  4. “Hello, Mr. Union Man working the lights - can I get the spotlight just on me? [gestures to empty space next to her] There’s no one over here.”
  5. “What is his problem? He must be up there getting a blowjob.”
  6. “Oh, now he hears me. Are you finished up there? Did you cum? Did they swallow?”
  7. “Yes, you sexy mama.” [to the lady who brings her a glass of red wine] “My lesbian moments coming out.”
  8. “Some hurricane is supposed to hit New York City. That bitch is following me!”
  9. “I’m a church girl. [indicates extremely revealing and vaguely Satanic outfit] This is what I wear to church.”
  10. “I KEEP IT TIGHT!”

Grace Jones whipped us into a frenzy USING AN ACTUAL WHIP.

Grace Jones whipped us into a frenzy USING AN ACTUAL WHIP.

For much better photos than mine of all her great costumes, GO HERE.