The Outcast Hours

An announcement - The Outcast Hours has been revealed to the world. An anthology of new stories about 'life after dark', coming next February, edited by Mahvesh Murad and myself. Some details over at Barnes & Noble, a full contributor list on Goodreads, and more to come. 

Sometimes I worry that my newsletter isn't esoteric enough. Then I go off on a tear about Talmudic scholars and the Kickstarter economy, so, you know. There's that.

Kitchen & Events

More on middling, this time in the kitchen:

Recipes work because they can be tailored to an audience need. You analyse the audience requirement (money, time, ingredients, servings, diets, etc) and provide the output: a meal that solves that problem. A meal that feeds six. A meal that costs a fiver. A meal that contains exactly 350 calories, or doesn't use dairy, or builds muscle, or adds, I dunno, mindfulness. Recipes are about working towards exact results - and the key word there is "results". Recipes don't middle.

Elsewhere - an appropriately short post on Short Stops, sharing the call for submissions for The Best of British Fantasy.

Upcoming events:



Old Newsletters, New Events

On middling (and Lord of the Rings):

Yes, Tolkien could've thwarted Evil in six emoji rather than a half-million words, but, that would've been a bad story.  Even if all of this stuff, this middling, is procedurally meaningless, it is the point of the epic. 

On value (and bookplates):

To put a bookplate in a book is therefore a great imbalance in the Force: a declaration that the book's personal relevance offsets - or trumps - all other values. I'm arbitrarily assigning a high value to the historical factor of my own ownership and, by acting on it, 'betting' that the increase of that value offsets the corresponding depreciation that results from putting a whopping big sticker in it

And on nothing in particular (or, more accurately, lots of little things):

Juicy new survey on American reading habits from YouGov. Not new news, but nor is it great news. Only about 40% of Americans read one book a month or more. Only 6% read a book each week. (That rises to 9% of women, 2% of men.) Oh, and hey, 2/3rds don't read for pleasure - meaning a large chunk of the reading that is happening is in the functional space (work, study, cookery, DIY...).


In other places:

BBQ, Pink Flamingos, Bits

An interview with The Stars Now Unclaimed's Drew Williams about BBQ, and what it really means:

Were those moments as perfect as I remember? Almost certainly not: with seven kids, at least a couple of us were fighting, at least a handful of my uncles were probably embarrassingly drunk, and with my family, a day like that was as liable to end with a trip to the emergency room as anything else - I once got shot in the head with an arrow! - but those aren’t the parts I remember, you know? In memory, the sunlight’s always perfect, the sweat doesn’t stink and the blood doesn’t hurt, and every piece of BBQ that came out of that smoker was done to perfection.

What disaster fiction can teach us about pink flamingos (and the role of the advertising agency):

The Meg is a black swan - no one expects a prehistoric sharkDeep Blue Sea is a pink flamingo. The inevitable conclusion of making hyper-intelligent sharks is that you're going to get some people well and truly et.

As I am oddly unreliable with these updates, much more practical to subscribe.

Other bits

  • Currently over 100 items already in for The Best of British Fantasy, plus my own, um, exploratory reading - a really interesting experience, and I look forward to sharing more about it
  • Speaking of 'Best of'...: Maria Dahvana Headley's "Black Powder" (from The Djinn Falls in Love) has been selected for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy and Saad Hossain's "Bring Your Own Spoon" is in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year.
  • New events coming up in October and November - two publishing talks and some cameos-in-support-of-a-book-to-which-I-contributed. (I'm not sure what the word is for that.)
  • I'm not at either FantasyCon or World Fantasy. But I have already booked for next year's WorldCon. (And, for non-SF/F types, yes - those are three completely different things and, yes - that is confusing, and probably deliberate.)

"What are your influences?"

This week's newsletter is about influences. Also Facebook, Fighting Fantasy and, uh, mayonnaise:

One particularly fascinating bit of aboutness - an aboutness molecule - the humble Facebook ad. We don't see them. Of course we don't! I've held approximately 7,500,000 focus groups, and I've never once heard someone say that they noticed a Facebook ad. I don't. You don't. No one does! And yet, someone does, because, guess what, Facebook made $39.9 billion on those ads last year. Billion. That's a lot of not-noticing. This isn't social acceptability bias either, as even in quantitative surveys, we say we don't see those ads. 91% of the UK population says they've never made a purchase through a social media ad. 87% have never clicked a brand communication through Facebook. And yet, someone is placing - and winning - a forty billion dollar bet that they do.


Plus, NewCon's Ian Whates says very nice things about the Best of British Fantasy project. Subscribe to that too!