This one is called Speakeasy (more for the literalness of the name than from any association with Prohibition-era juice joints). I'm a featured reader along with mystery writer David Corbett and Benicia's Poet Laureate, Lois Requist.
There's also an open mic segment, which should be fun. The last reading at the Rellik was terrific (video here), and this one is shaping up to be even better.
The Rellik Tavern
Saturday, Nov. 17, 3:00 - 5:00 PM
726 First Street
Benicia, CA 94510 (map)
The Litquake reading went very well, but the video did not. It turns out that when the little red light is lit, it means the camera is recording, and when it isn't lit, it isn't. Like I should know that?
The reading at Bookshop Benicia went well, considering that I was a bit off my game. I've had a cold all week, and was also still having an unpleasant conversation with the food poisoning I'd had since eight that morning. (So much for "Never complain, never explain.")
The culprit was a 7-Eleven burrito; I have only myself to blame. I seem to be very susceptible to the nasty little bugs that caper and cavort in late-night junk food, since I've had the pleasure of their company at least a couple dozen times.
Video of the reading will be posted soon. I broke a fever during it -- that ought to be fun to watch, huh?
Tonight is my DJ gig at the San Francisco Litquake closing party (see the sidebar). I don't plan to be feverish, coughing, or turning myself inside-out at any point during it. That will be a refreshing change of pace.
Today San Francisco is hosting the America's Cup, a Columbus Day parade, a bluegrass festival, Fleet Week, a Giants game, and a Blue Angels aerial show. Estimates are that a million extra people will be in San Francisco today.
At the same time, I'm reading at Litquake (see sidebar info). Coincidence? I think not. Still, calling out a Blue Angels flyover just for my reading seems a bit much. Even though I'm very flattered. Really.
Last year I performed at Litcrawl, the city-wide event that closes San Francisco's massive, week-long Litquake festival of readings, panels, and book-related events. It was one of the best readings I've ever given, in front of one of the best crowds I've ever had.
Naturally I'm stoked that this year Ive been asked to do my little tap dance during Litquake's opening weekend. I'll be performing as part of The Fantastic Surrounds Us, a fantasy & science fiction-oriented segment of the "Off the Richter Scale" series that opens Litquake.
Litquake/Off the Richter Scale
Sunday, Oct. 7 - 2:00 - 3:00 PM
Variety Children's Hospital Preview Room Theater
582 Market Street, San Francisco (map)
On Thursday, October 10, I'll be reading in the East San Francisco Bay city of Benicia as part of Straitquake, a Litquake-affiliated event. This will be a longer performance than at Litquake.
And finally, I am totally stoked to announce that I"m DJing the Litquake closing party after Litcrawl on Saturday, October 13. The party is private from 10 to midnight, but wide open after that. Much funk will be served.
I will probably record all the performances. Video of the readings will be posted here, and audio of the DJ gig might end up on Groovelectric, depending on how much new material I use (and whether or not I suck).
I'm getting a ton of email about the new tv show Revolution, asking if it is based on my 1983 novel Ariel, and if I had any involvement with the show. I haven't watched the show and I'm not likely to.
The answer to the latter question is, no, I had nothing to do with the show. The answer to the former question is that I think it is a ripoff of a different novel that seems to be largely a ripoff of Ariel. I'll leave the issue of whether you can ripoff by proxy for others to debate.
Further details would require a very lengthy post that I would probably regret writing, so this is all I'm gonna say about this for now.
Thanks in part to the influence of Cory Doctorow's reach on BoingBoing, and to the responsiveness of the good folks at e-Reads, the price of the trade paperback (large-format softcover, if you will) of Mortality Bridge is now $19.95.
As someone who winced whenever he saw the original $23.95 price, I can tell you that I am relieved and happy about this. Sure, I make less money per sale. But given this more reasonable price, I will probably sell more copies.
Would I rather sell more books for less money? You bet. If I had great business acumen, I doubt I'd have picked writing as a profession. The truth is, writers want to be read, sometimes unpragmatically so. Otherwise I'd just have one copy available and I'd price it at $100,000, and then wait and hope I score that sale. Sure, the odds aren't good -- but I just need one!
Fortunately for both of us, that ain't the case, and you can get the very handsome trade paperback here for the New! Low! Price! of $19.95! operators are standing by call by midnight tonight get your free ginsu knives never needs winding lasts all month on a single charge minty fresh ZOMG whAt r U wtNg 4!
Nothing makes me feel like one of those reality-show rat-warren hoarders more than confronting the things I've hauled from garage to garage for years with some notion that Someday I Will Need These. I've been moving the same set of paper-marbling combs for 15 years, ferchrissake, entirely because they're such a pain in the ass to make.
Among the things that have been taking a Garage Tour of America are manuscript drafts. I tend to keep the significant drafts & marked revisions of novel manuscripts. I tell myself they're an important map of My Process. But now that I'm playing Apartment Tetris with all this stuff, I'm thinking, you know, I don't really see any universities begging for my papers so that PhD theses can be mined for posterity.
Mortality Bridge, for example. I probably revised it 40 or 50 times. I kept the major revisions, and I had at least 12 incarnations of the thing here. We're talking 6600 sheets of paper. Carry enough of those up and down stairs and you'll get to where you don't care if it's a signed first edition of the Old Testament -- it's outta here. And I'm not exactly First Folio Shakespeare; no one's gonna bid on V3.1 of The Gnole on eBay.
So I decided to throw out my intermediate-draft manuscripts and keep only firsts and finals. Early versions of the continuation of The Architect of Sleep? Gone. The second draft of Ariel? History.
I looked at those about-to-be-tossed drafts on my couch (there were even more than in the picture) and thought about the time and effort they embodied. Four of those novels were never published.
I also thought about how many reviews I'd read, how many emails I'd gotten, that mentioned how I don't write very much, or had stopped entirely for 25 years, or whatever bullshit makes the rounds until it becomes irrevertible. It's enough to make you eat a bottle of tequila.
At the end of the day, though, what really matters is where those drafts led to. All the blind alleys, deleted scenes, rephrasings, tightening, clarity, rhythm, proofreading -- they're the dirt left behind as you dig your way to that final draft. Understanding that made it easier to throw it all away.
And now it truly may be said that Boyett recycles his stories.
Last night I went to hear Cory Doctorow lecture on "The Coming Civil War Over General-Purpose Computing," for Stewart Brand's The Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. I met Cory in 2010 at World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal, and I just wanted to box him up and take him home. We were on a panel together, and I found Cory intimidatingly knowledgeable and articulate.
I was familiar with Cory's work on issues of intellectual property, privacy, and individual rights in the 21st Century. I'd been thinking along similar lines for a few years, and when I ran across Cory and Lawrence Lessig I saw that here were people who had not only cogently articulated ideas I'd been messing with, they had become movers & shakers in those areas.
I hadn't read any of Cory's fiction, and after meeting him I read a bunch. I've found it as engaging as Cory himself. His wonderfully subversive YA novel Little Brother is an Anarchist Cookbook for young teens.
The big surprise for me was Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. It's a flat-out, unapologetic magical-realist techno-activist science-fiction fantasy. (Whew.) It's dark, and it's loaded with exactly the kind of urban grit detail a book like this needs to stay grounded. It's also the most lyrically written thing I've read by Cory, with a sustained mood and poetic tone that make it one of my favorite novels I've read in the last few years.
I'm pretty sure it's also Cory's least commercially successful novel. It doesn't explain itself, it demands that you accept some baldly stated impossibilities, and it can't possibly be catering to the nuts & bolts technophile audience who usually gobble Cory's work like crack-filled bonbons. But for me it has the urgent immediacy of a book its author simply had to write, a "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" insistence.
I tend to like artists' "B" sides. Chances they take, things they knock out with no notion where they're going or if they'll even sell, much less make money. You can just feel the artist not playing it safe. (Gene Wolfe's Latro books are like that for me -- I'd bet they are among his least-selling novels, but they're by far is most evocative and interesting. For me, anyhow.)
I was surprised to learn that last year was Cory's first time at Burning Man. I was not surprised to learn that he is going again this year. And I'm delighted to learn that by doing so, he will be blowing off WorldCon for the first time in 18 years. The Playa will do that to you. And while I think Cory has a lot to offer WorldCon, I think Burning Man has a lot to offer Cory.
I would never say this to Cory directly, for fear of looking like a squeeing fanboy, but he is one of my heroes. His stances on the sham that is current intellectual property law, the fundamental humanism that makes him a revolutionary at heart, and his unwavering dedication to telling the world when the emperor has no digital clothes -- they're all traits of someone fighting the Good Fight.
Yesterday marked the 43rd anniversary of the first human step upon another world. I remember it vividly. It's hard to convey now the extent to which much of the world was caught up in the Apollo program at the time. (And it would be hard to go back to that time and make people believe how little has been accomplished in manned space exploration since.)
Though the Apollo program was conceived as an American propaganda machine, the vision gradually became reshaped in the public consciousness, so that Apollo 11's historic firsts were celebrated as a unique and inspiring human accomplishment.
Some years back I made up this image in an attempt to express the breadth of that accomplishment. The left side is a picture of the earliest known hominid footprint, from Laetoli in Tanzania. (At least, it was the oldest known at the time I made the image. It may have been superseded since.) It's 3.7 million years old.
On the right, of course, is Neil Armstrong's iconic footprint on the moon from July 1969 -- a footprint that's still there, and that might still be there 3.7 million years from now.
Taken together, they represent a stride that encompasses all of human development. (I know it can be argued that the Laetoli footprint is from a line that died out, but we're talking symbols here, okay?)
These days it's pretty easy to look at news headlines and despair. For all of our ability, we can be a pretty wretched species sometimes. But I like to look at this image and realize what we can accomplish when we put our (so far) unique minds to it, and take pride in our achievements while being grateful for our unbelievable luck. (One example of our great good fortune, out of thousands: We've had time to evolve and develop a civilization between major catastrophic collision events. Better luck is if we have time for that civilization to get to a point where it can get us off the planet, avert such a catastrophe, or both. Assuming, of course, that it doesn't get too smart for its own good and wipe itself out in any number of ingenious ways.)
The Benicia Literary Arts Organization very kindly asked if I would read at their second public reading at The Rellik Tavern in Benicia. They've only done poetry so far and wanted to see how it would work if they incorporated fiction into the program.
It's weird, but I was nervous because it was a home-town crowd. For some reason I can go into San Francisco, or to a convention, and do my dog & pony show in front of a bunch of strangers just fine. (Well, not completely fine -- I always get a kind of racehorse-at-the-gate nervousness before any performance.) But where I live? Whole nother ball game, for some reason.
Luckily, I've bombed at The Rellik before, as a DJ, so if I sucked, I wouldn't be on unfamiliar ground.
I read two short pieces. I videotaped (I always pause before I type that -- there's no tape anymore, but what else do you call it?) both, but there was so much background noise on the first that I don't want to put it up.
I'm really happy with how the second one, "I'm Sorry to Have to Tell You This," turned out. There's audio of it on my media page, but I much prefer the video. It was the best performance of the story I've done, and the audience was great.
Big thanks to the BLA, and to Lois Requist, Benicia's new Poet Laureat, for asking me to read.