Mortality Bridge Limited Edition Sold Out

I just learned that the signed, limited hardcover edition of Mortality Bridge has sold out at Subterranean Press. Thanks so much to everyone who bought one.

And if you’ve been thinking about getting one, now’s the time! Subterranean’s books tend to quickly become quite collectible, which is fancy-talk for “it’ll cost ya to get hold of one after they sell out.” Amazon still has copies listed for sale at this writing.

I’m working on contracts, cover design, typography, etc., for the e-book & softcover throughout the week, and I should be able to give a publication date soon. More than likely it will be out before the end of the year, though, which is nice.

UPDATE: The e-book and large-format paperback are now available.  (Woo-hoo!) Please see here for more info — and thanks for your support!.


What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

A “word cloud,” in case ya don’t know, is a visualization of the most frequently used words in a given text. The total number of words are analyzed and then the most common ones are moved to the top of the list. A graphic is created that weights the words by size and color to demonstrate how often they occur.

Some people have gotten downright creative with wordclouds and offer wordcloud generators that let you pick a shape, colors, relative sizes, and more for your wordcloud. I like the Tagxedo website because it lets you do all that, has a ton of eye-pleasing options, and lets you omit words if you want. You can also give it a URL instead of pasting in a bunch of text.

Plus, on Tagxedo if you like the result you can share it on social networks or have it printed on a cup, shirt, or mousepad on Zazzle. (The products are all censored to be G-rated, though — if someone knows how to subvert this, please tell me.)

The image above is a wordcloud generated using the entire 134,000-word manuscript of Mortality Bridge. I omitted “Niko” because it owns the image otherwise (Niko being the protagonist and all like that). I like the color scheme a lot.

I find it interesting that a novel already garnering a reputation for its graphic and visceral intensity doesn’t have much in the way of violence- or profanity-related words in the cloud. In fact, “scream” is the only one I can see here. So I gotta guess it’s not objectionable language but how language is used that hits a nerve.

I find that reassuring.

Just for yucks I separately fed in several novels and looked for patterns — words that cropped up frequently in my work — thinking maybe it’d say something interesting about me. I was surprised to find that the wordclouds are pretty different for each book. The only common word among them (apart from character names and ignored common word such as “and”) was “looked,” which isn’t really surprising. The lack of commonality makes me think that each book has its own context, its own environment, in which different words thrive that contribute to the overall effect each book wants to achieve.

I find that reassuring, too.

There’s something cool about the idea of making framed posters and/or coffee mugs of all my published novels in themed word clouds. I might just do that little thing.

Hell “Not Pleasant,” Reviewer Complains

Sorry, couldn’t resist that headline. Mortality Bridge is garnering some wonderful reviews, but a common thread is that my depiction of Hell is violent, disturbing, graphic, and not for the faint of heart. To which I reply, Well … yeah. I don’t think the Land of Eternal Damnation and Torment comes with a PG rating.

That said, here’s some recent Net niceness. Benjamin Wald at SF Revu wrote that

Mortality Bridge has something for everyone: great character-ization, vivid description, pulse pounding action scenes. But it is also more than the sum of its parts. It is a story of human weakness and redemption, a story that is even older than the myths that the novel draws upon, a story we can all relate to. This is an incredible, touching, exhilarating work, and one that I wholeheartedly recommend.

Which I am certainly not gonna take issue with! Read the full review.

Kelly Lasiter at Fantasy Literature found it “Depressing. Disgusting. Brilliant.” Which I also ain’t gonna take issue with, and which my friend Scott liked so much he had it made up on shirts & hoodies at Zazzle. (I think it sums me up so well I’d consider it for my epitaph if I didn’t already want You Kids Get Off My Lawn.)

Ms. Lasiter also wrote that

Mortality Bridge is a very well-written book that made me feel intense emotion. I recommend it, but only to the strong of stomach.

Ms. Lasiter writes that the novel pushed her to her limits, yet she is considering reading it again. Which is a heck of a compliment, when you think about it. Read the full review.

Also in the review department, in a recent review of The Urban Fantasy Anthology the unimpeachable John Clute wrote that “Talking Back to the Moon,” my excerpt from Avalon Burning (which, yes, I’m still diligently working on, thank you for asking), is one of six “superb” stories in the anthology, and that it’s

set in an intricately characterized post-holocaust Los Angeles [and] told in a dense muscular what-next gonzo tone that (one hopes) will not flag in the full novel this tale must be a portion of.

To which I say, first, thank you, John, and second, I hope it won’t either.

I also quite like Mr. Clute’s stipulation that, if a story is to be classified as “urban fantasy” (a category I resist because I like to think I write a fiction that resists categorization), it must “be set in locations that mattered to the stories told. […] If it’s the same story wherever it happens to be set, it isn’t Urban Fantasy.”

As a writer and a reader for whom setting and sense of place are enormously important, I can only say Bravo, Mr. Clute.  Read the full review.



In Conjunction with the previously issued List of Words decreed Unlawful in the Titles of Works of Fantasy, the following Words are Hereby Decreed Unlawful in the Text of any Work of Fantasy Fiction:

Fair (as an adjective)
Well met

Overexposure symptoms include numbness, fatigue, loss of mental acuity, shortness of temper, and a fondness for the works of Terry Brooks.  Verbal kelation therapy via heavy doses of nonfantasy literary fiction are indicated. Withdrawal may be severe if exposure has been prolonged.

The Urban Fantasy Anthology is shipping

The Urban Fantasy Anthology (eds. Peter S. Beagle & Joe R. Lansdale) is shipping from Tachyon. Along with stories by all kinds of luminaries in the field, it contains my novelette “Talking Back to the Moon,” which is an excerpt from Avalon Burning, the Change novel I really should have finished by now.

According to the UFA the story is an example of “noir fantasy.” Who knew?

If I’m not mistaken from my reading of Joe Lansdale’s excellent introduction to the section, he doesn’t care all that much for such sub-subgenre labeling. Good for you, Joe. Neither do I. Or for such subgenre labeling. Or really even genre labeling. But clearly plenty of writers have no problem at all with such designations. I imagine they sleep better than I do.

Some rules for my reading & viewing pleasure

My cumulative fantasy, SF, & historical film viewing, coupled with my attempt to read the latest Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology, has made me adopt the following rules:

  • Stop reading a science fiction or fantasy story the moment it references other science fiction or fantasy stories. (This ruled out literally 75% of the Year’s Best anthology.)
  • Stop watching movies when the aliens, Romans, or Greeks have British accents (unless the movie is itself British, in which case it is merely on probation).
  • Immediately distrust a science fiction movie that begins with a crawl. (Crawls are the written-out exposition that opens Star Wars, Blade Runner, and a bajillion other SF movies.)
  • Immediately distrust a science fiction or fantasy novel that begins with a prologue in italics, or an ersatz chapter epigraph that ends in a future date and purports to be some kind of report filed post facto.
  • Stop reading any novel (especially SF, fantasy, or horror) in which the chapters end in separately paragraphed sentence fragments (Or so he thought.) or ellipses (So why not make two stakes…?)
  • For SF, if dialogue is heavily expositional (“As a physicist, Don, you know that the inertial dampers are subject to vibrational distortion within half an AU of a singulartiy,”), or if the page is chock full o’ made up words (Since the Hegemonic Coflation Gralf had been forced to manually grid the vidscreen upward to hi-rez the psy traffic on the prole monitoring apps), I put it back on the shelf. For a fantasy novel, if the dialogue is bullshit Medieval or Elizabethan (“M’lord,” he exclaimed, “the Fjordik barbarians are aswarm the battlements!”), or the page is full of capitalized words (“In the Fargone Lands lie the Darlk Wyrmholds deep within the ancient Fells, where the Scrolls of Nepthar were first beheld by Basalt the Agglutinator”), I put it back on the shelf.

Most of this means I don’t watch a lot of movies or buy a lot of books. And I feel my life is none the worse for that.