It changed my life. It made me the writer I am today.
And when I left, I fell into a crippling depression that lasted months.
Because they were the six most magical weeks of my life. I had the chance to study with six of the best writers in the science fiction and fantasy genre – Jeffrey Ford, Delia Sherman, Ted Chiang, Walter Jon Williams, Cassandra Clare and Holly Black – to say nothing of my seventeen incredible classmates, with whom I was bonded for life into a super-brood of awesome writerly power and support.
After that, even the happiest of home-and-work lives feels a little smaller. But – on top of all the awesome craft I learned there – my experience at Clarion made me that much more motivated to find a way into the awesome SFF community I’d had a small taste of at the workshop.
So now, I’m completely verklempt to share that I’ll be part of the 2020 faculty at Clarion UCSD. Alongside some of the most magnificent writers in the game! Geoffrey Ryman, Larissa Lai, Anjali Sachdeva, Christopher Rowe and Gwenda Bond!
Seriously, this has been a dream of mine ever since I graduated, and I am over the moon to able to support an awesome cadre of 18 great writers who are figuring out how to tell the stories that will change the world.
If you’re a writer of science fiction or fantasy or horror, and you’ve been looking to take your craft to the next level, Clarion is one way to do it, and I hope you’ll consider applying when applications open in December!!]]>
What if King Kong was real? What if we found something that magnificent – and captured it – and exploited it – and destroyed it? How would humanity change, after something like that?
The story takes place on September 1st, 1939, in a New York City forever changed by Kong’s climb and fall in 1933. A closeted gay cab driver happens to pick up Ann Darrow, the woman Kong carried to the top of the Empire State Building, and in their shared mourning might find the seeds of something truly transformative.
“Oh, honey,” she said, one hand reaching forward to touch my shoulder.
She was kind. That much was true. I’d imagined her in the hold of the ship, comforting Kong in his chains and his seasickness. Backstage, calming him down while tiny men flashed cameras in his helpless face. Eighty stories up, pleading with him to pick her back up, trying to tell him that the airplanes wouldn’t shoot him while he was holding her. Angry at him for not understanding her, or for understanding and not wanting to put her at risk.
Read the full story here!!]]>
Big big love to the award jury – Gregory Benford, Sheila Finch, Elizabeth Anne Hull, Paul Kincaid, Christopher McKitterick, Pamela Sargent, and Lisa Yaszek – as well as my magnificent fellow finalists: Semiosis by Sue Burke, A Spy in Time by Imraan Coovadia, The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, Time Was by Ian McDonald, Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman, Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar, Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente, The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts, and The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley]]>
At 6PM on Friday, July 12th, at the incredible BOOKS OF WONDER, at 18 West 18th Street in Manhattan (between 5th and 6th Avenues), we’ll be launching my second YA novel DESTROY ALL MONSTERS!!
For more details, or to RSVP, check out the Facebook event here.
Can’t make it? The book is available for pre-order now, digitally and in hardcover, from the bookstore of your choice!! The incredible Kass Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of The 100, said of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS: “Sam J. Miller has cemented his status as one of the most visionary fiction writers of his generation. A staggering, stunning novel.”]]>
Dwelling in the Future: Imagining Tomorrow’s City
When: Wednesday, June 19, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Price: $20 & up | $15 for Museum Members
Where: Museum of the City of New York / 1220 Fifth Avenue (at 103rd Street) / New York, NY
Here’s what they have to say about it over on the museum’s website:
For the final program in the Museum’s Housing Tomorrow’s City series, we ask a group of visionary urban thinkers, architects, and artists how New Yorkers might inhabit and experience the city several generations from now.
With design researcher Alix Gerber, Designing Radical Futures, Mitchell Joachim, co-founder of architecture and consulting group Terreform ONE, author and community organizer Sam Miller, and artist and interactive designer Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde. Journalist Tanvi Misra of The Atlantic’s CityLab moderates. Expect a lively — and mind-expanding — evening of presentation and discussion.
About the Speakers:
Alix Gerber is a design researcher who works with people to visualize and enact the futures we imagine, striving to provoke discussion around how our society could be more equitable and meaningful. Most recently, Gerber has been developing and teaching courses at Washington University in St. Louis, such as Radical Design, where students imagine alternatives to civic experiences like policing, capitalism or voting. Gerber has also worked with residents of Harlem, New York and Ferguson, Missouri to explore alternatives to our current policing and court systems by making artifacts from divergent futures.
Mitchell Joachim, PhD, Assoc. AIA, is the co-founder of the architecture, urban design research, and consulting group Terreform ONE and an associate professor at NYU. He has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and fellowships with TED, Moshe Safdie, and Martin Society for Sustainability at MIT. Joachim is the winner of many awards including the AIA New York Urban Design Merit Award and the History Channel Infiniti Award for City of the Future. He is the co-author of three books, including XXL-XS: New Directions in Ecological Design (2016).
Sam J. Miller is the Nebula-Award-winning author of The Art of Starving (an NPR best of the year) and Blackfish City (named best book of the year by Vulture, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble and one of the best “climate fiction” novels by O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine). A recipient of the Shirley Jackson Award and a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Miller’s short stories have been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, and Locus Awards, and reprinted in dozens of anthologies. A community organizer by day, he lives in New York City.
Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde (ayo) is a Nigerian-American artist designer, educator, and time-traveler living and working in New York. His works range from painting and speculative design to physically interactive works, wearable technology and explorations of “Reclamation”. He has exhibited and presented at the 11th Shanghai Biennale, Tribeca Storyscapes, EYEO Festival, Brooklyn Museum, M.I.T. Beyond the Cradle, and Afrotectopia among others. Okunseinde holds an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design where he is currently an adjunct faculty member.
Tanvi Misra (moderator) is a staff writer for The Atlantic’s CityLab where she covers immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers and her work appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
“One hard lesson I’ve learned from my fifteen years as a community organizer is that changing the minds of our enemies is less important than giving hope and power to our friends. I’m not writing for the people who are against us. I don’t mean to say that it’s impossible to convince people with great art—other writers might legitimately feel like the role of fiction in the climate change fight is to convince the skeptical—but that’s not my priority. I want my fiction—and my activism—to galvanize and energize people who already know that something is wrong, but might not feel like they have the power to do anything about it. I want people to see their own power, and the power they can build with others, and to see that fighting back—and winning—isn’t just possible; it’s already happening, every day, all around us.” – Sam J. Miller, author of Blackfish City
According to the site:
What you’re about to read—a deft, darkly provocative vision of a near-future that encompasses climate change, sexuality, and the politics of gentrification, to note just a few themes here—is one of the richest, most densely idea-packed speculations you’re ever likely to get your eyeballs on. And it could only have come from the mind of Sam J. Miller, SF writer, community organizer, and author of the Nebula-nominated Blackfish City. I won’t spoil this electrifying piece any further—enjoy. -the Ed.]]>
Editing makes books better, but the process of cutting down a novel means some things you love MUST DIE.
In early drafts of my novel Blackfish City, there were several chapters that were “one-offs,” meaning they were written in the voice of a character who only narrates one chapter – as opposed to the four POV characters who narrate most chapters. My genius editor felt like four narrators was already asking a lot of readers, and these additional voices risked losing some folks. I agreed, and we cut a couple chapters, while some others were incorporated into other chapters. Only one ‘one-off’ remains in the finished text – a chapter at the center of the book, by the character who stands at the center of the story: the mysterious orcamancer.
But the chapter I was saddest to lose was actually narrated by the orcamancer’s killer whale companion. It was the right call, but I was sad to lose it.
So I’m super excited to share that this deleted chapter has been published in its entirety, over at Tor.com!!!
Most peopled places turn the sea sour, foul, toxic. You can smell them from a day’s swim away, the filth they put in the water. The stink of their suffering. This place is not so bad. They have huge machines for processing their waste. The cold keeps them out of the sea. A giant metal cone warms the deep water. We’ve been to seventy-three peopled places, and I think I like this one best. Which isn’t to say I actually like it.
Click here to read the full chapter!]]>
It’s overwhelming, that my story of lesbian warrior grandmas and oversexed gay boys and gender-non-binary revolutionaries AND KILLER WHALES AND POLAR BEARS has received such a positive response. And now, to have gotten this kind of nod from my peers in the science fiction & fantasy community, is beyond incredible.
The whole ballot is full of magnificence. Rebecca Roanhorse, R.F. Kuang, Tomi Adeyemi, Justina Ireland, Roshani Chokshi, BLACK PANTHER (!!!!!), Janelle Monae’s DIRTY COMPUTER (!!!!!!), Henry Lien, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, A.T. Greenblatt, Phenderson Djèlí Clark, Sarah Pinsker, Andy Duncan, Brooke Bolander, Jose Pablo Iriarte, Martha Wells, Kelly Robson, Aliette de Bodard, Mary Robinette Kowal, and tons of other artists whose work I adore.
Check out the full ballot, and READ ALL THE THINGS.]]>
But if you missed it, never fear.
Tor.com did a terrific write-up about the event, and they quote me: “he constantly swings between “ecstatic joy” and “profound despair” which leads to his fiction “trying to come to terms with how the world can be both so fucked up and so full of wonderful things how people can do such horrible things and participate, often unwittingly, in such horrible systems, but also do wonderful things as well. I don’t know why that became a story of a future where Prince is illegal and Big Brother Is Listening…but that’s what happened.”
You can also listen to the full event, which is episode 252 of the NYPL’s renowned podcast!!
And the library put up video of the full event:]]>
It’s a great article, and discusses some of my favorite books of the past few years, by writers I adore like Cindy Pon and N.K. Jemisin.
Here’s some of what I had to say:
“With Blackfish City, I wanted to paint a realistically terrifying picture about how the world will change in the next hundred years, according to scientists,” says Miller—a picture which includes the evacuation of coastal cities, wars over resources, famines, plague, and infrastructure collapse. “But I also wanted to have hope, and imagine the magnificent stuff we’ll continue to create. The technology we’ll develop. The solutions we’ll find. The music we’ll make.”
“The Road/Walking Dead-style abject hopelessness is not entertaining or stimulating to me,” adds Miller. “Humans are the fucking worst, yes, but they’re also the fucking best.”
You can read the full article here!!]]>
To whet the appetites of French audiences, they’ve released a translation of my short story “Calved,” originally published in 2015 by Asimov’s – the first time I explored the floating city of Qaanaaq, which would later become the setting for my novel.
Francophones can download a PDF of the translated story, by clicking here!!
I don’t read French, so I can’t speak to the quality of the translation. BUT, it’s translated by the magnificent Anne-Sylvie Salzman, who also translated the full novel, and she’s been amazing to work with, so I have full faith in her ability to grasp and communicate the heart of the story.
There’s also a review of the story, which my Francophone husband tells me is a good one. And another one here, which according to Google Translate is very positive!]]>
“Miller’s ambitious and driven first novel for adults is a smashing story of everyday life on a floating city after a climate apocalypse. While tackling class, technology, politics, and more, Miller never loses sight of the human beings at the heart of his story, producing a deeply empathic and lovely work of science fiction.”
In addition – an eerie six months after the book’s release, when one has long despaired of seeing any further reviews – Kirkus gave a coveted starred review to BLACKFISH CITY! And said lots of nice things about the book. “Harsh and lovely” is the kinda thing I’d gladly put on my tombstone:
…Populated by the refugees and descendants of refugees from nations destroyed by social upheaval and environmental disasters, Qaanaaq is run by software while political and economic power rests in the hands of landlords, crime gangs, and the ultrawealthy, never-seen shareholders. But what was once a relatively stable system is headed for a shakeup as the gulf between the haves and have-nots widens. Someone is transmitting subversive broadcasts about life in Qaanaaq; a gang lord is planning her ascent to the ranks of shareholders; a woman seeks to help her mother, who’s imprisoned, perhaps unjustly, in an ultrasecure mental hospital; a brain-damaged fighter is pressured into becoming an enforcer; an ambitious courier becomes a spy; and the grandson of a shareholder contracts a sexually transmitted disease that fatally afflicts its carriers with the memories of the previously infected. But true chaos only enters the city with Masaaraq, a tough warrior woman who travels with her psychically bonded orca and a chained polar bear. She has a very specific reason for coming to Qaanaaq, and she does not care whom she harms or what plans she disrupts in the course of fulfilling her purpose. Although it has its bleak and very violent moments, there’s also a certain amount of optimism in this story, which ultimately proves to be about family and the hard-won strength of those who survive against all odds. Author and professional activist Miller (The Art of Starving, 2017) allows his passion for advocacy—for people desperately clinging to their hope for a home, exploited minorities, and those outside the cishet dichotomy—to inform and structure his fiction but in such an integral and yet casual way that it never feels preachy.
Harsh and lovely.
Sam J. Miller swept us off our feet with The Art of Starving, which went on to win the Nebula Award for best YA. After a brief detour in adult sci-fi (Blackfish City), he’s returning to YA with a book that’s every bit as unique, nuanced, and full of depth as his first in the category. We’re thrilled to reveal the first two chapters of Destroy All Monsters, which is, to borrow from the author’s own words, half gritty contemporary and half epic fantasy, with both main characters’ stories centering on the question of how we fight the monsters in our world.
This excerpt shows both narrating characters in their dual-genre glory. Read on and get to know Ash, a teen photographer investigating hate crimes in her small town while tending to the mental health crisis of her best friend, Solomon, and Solomon, a street kid battling monsters and a growing conspiracy against his best friend, Ash.
AND IT IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER FROM BARNES & NOBLE & AMAZON AND AWESOME IMPORTANT INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS EVERYWHERE.
Feast your eyes on this magnificent cover, designed by Nathan Burton:
I had an amazing time last weekend at New York Comic Con.
I have attended before as a fan, but never as part of the programming. I still got to be a fan, of course, exploring the floor and fighting my way through beautiful crowds and seeing some amazing cosplay, and running into awesome friends, and meeting heroes like Bob Camp, co-creator of Ren & Stimpy, who my husband and I got to thank personally for all the joy and trauma he brought into our lives.
But I was there to work. And they didn’t ease me into it, for my first panel – I was honored and terrified to be part of a panel with brilliant writers Marlon James, Julie Kagawa, Tochi Onyebuchi, Maura Milan, and moderator Ali T. Kokmen, discussing #OwnVoices: How Writers Build Authenticity Into Diverse Worlds. We were in a very big room, that was very very crowded.
Luckily, my terror was unnecessary. I had a great time, and it was an incredibly stimulating conversation. With a lot of laughter, and a lot of wisdom.
BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. Unbound Worlds included it in this awesome listing of “Best SFF Panels You Might Have Missed at New York Comic Con 2018,” and Tor.com did a fantastic write-up of the panel, which you can read here. They even mentioned me a couple times! Here’s my favorite part:
Asked what it was like to see their book covers come to life, the authors absolutely lit up. Maura, having already spoken about her desire to see herself on the cover of a book, talked about how excited her publisher was to work with her, and how they cast Maura’s friend Jessica in the role of the character. Seeing her friend at the photo shoot, dressed in the armor Maura described was an incredible experience. Tochi and Marlon both mentioned that there are standard fonts and images that are usually used for “African books” and how pleased they were that their publishers didn’t try to take that tack with them, but instead listened to the authors’ vision and brought that to life. Julie agreed, talking of how pleased she was with the silver fox mask and the authentic Japanese architecture on her book. And Sam? Well, Sam’s book cover glows in the dark. He also gave out temporary tattoos his publicist had made that matched the tattoo Sam himself got in honor of the book coming out.
Publisher’s Weekly included this awesome photo of us, in their round-up of #NYCC2018 highlights.
Also, video of the full panel exists! And you can watch it! Right here: