I chatted to Patrick Hester recently for the SF Signal podcast, which is now online. We talk about steampunk, cover art, Going to the Moon, The Apex Book of World SF and lots of other stuff. Warning: quite a lot of bitching about steampunk follows!
And, for no particular reason, a picture – it’s funny because it’s true!
Photo’s from a pad thai place in Vientiane’s Talat Sao, or Morning Market
Going To The Moon has been reviewed over at SF Signal:
Going to the Moon is the story of a young boy named Jimmy who wants to be an astronaut. He wants to go to the Moon. Jimmy also doesn’t want to have to fight his constant, taxing struggle against the Tourette’s syndrome that dominates his life. He doesn’t like the dance-like involuntary movements it causes in him. He’s bullied, in the way young people who are different are often bullied. The corprolaia of Toruette’s syndrome means that he involuntarily uses curse words, even though he doesn’t want to. As such, the book doesn’t shy away from trangressive words. Words I can’t use in this review.
The real heart and soul of the book is found in the pictures by Paul McCaffrey. They are beautifully and colorfully drawn. But there’s more to the book than just Lavie’s words and the pictures. Like the best picture books, the text and the images engage and interpolate with each other, in a dialogue that makes the book stronger for that interaction. The theme of aliens (and Jimmy himself is definitely an alien in some ways) is reflected in the imagery much more than the text. To cite another example, the use of curse words in exclamation in the imagery reminds me of the innovative subtitles in the movie Night Watch.
And the end brought tears to my eyes as the reader figures out what Jimmy and the friend he makes are too young to realize. Curse you, Lavie Tidhar…your audacity strikes me again.
It’s not a book you’d want to read to your children, because of the language. Although its about a young boy and his concerns, its a book for adults. And it moved me. It will move you, too. – read the full review.
Photo (c) Sandy Auden 2012
And I am interviewed at SF Signal about the process of creating the book:
CT: How did you end up collaborating with Paul McCaffery? When you were writing the book, did you know he would be illustrating it?
LT: Terry put us together. It took a long time to find the right artist, if I remember rightly. But once the connection was made, it was obvious he was the perfect person for it. I love his artwork, and he gives the book this wonderful slightly-off sense – it’s innocent, and charming, and really emotive, I think, and that weird physical perspective of the characters really works. I guess I’m just a fan!
CT: What was the collaboration process like?
LT: To begin with, I had to do sort of word-sketches for each page of illustration. I had to take the original text and really clarify how it was meant to be split into pages, and opposite each page of text I had to write down notes for Paul, on how I envision the page to be, what should be in it and so on. So in a way it was a little like writing comics, only you’re not writing panels, you’re writing full page illustrations. Then Paul went away and then the pages would start coming in, and then, in a few cases, we’d have back and forth on them, what worked and what didn’t. So sometimes the first illustration was spot on, at other times we went through several tries to get to the one we were most happy with.
CT: What was the most difficult aspect about writing the book?
LT: The whole thing was a challenge – in the best possible way! I think the hardest thing though was having patience – we all knew this was a long-term project, it’s literally taken years from conception to actualization – I think I’m actually still in a bit of shock that it’s real and physical and in my hands. – read the full interview.
A couple of things recently – I participate in the latest SF Signal Mind Meld, on women SF writers, where I get to gush a bit about all the writers in the Apex Book of World SF, and talk about the influence of Tiptree (Alice Sheldon) and C.L. Moore on my own work.
And I was interviewed by Mur Lafferty for the Angry Robot podcast – where I ramble on about Camera Obscura and being a secret agent… erm.
New story should be up at Chizine soon. I’ll post as soon as it goes up!
I’m guest-blogging at Futurismic this week, alongside Aliette de Bodard and Gareth L. Powell. Check out What’s The Beef? On Faith and Food, where I talk about the stomach god, Jewish kryptonite, thetans, Nigella Lawson, cannibals, and the mystery of chicken.
I also took part in this week’s Mind Meld on SF Signal, answering the question, What are some of the SF/F tropes that need to be retired?
I have a guest-post over at SF Signal, where I discuss living in Vanuatu and the writing of Cloud Permutations:
I wrote Cloud Permutations on the island of Vanua Lava, in Vanuatu, in view of the volcano, wreathed in clouds. There are always clouds. They are attracted to islands, the land formations jutting out of the surface of the ocean help them coalesce and form.
Cloud Permutations is a story of islands, and clouds, and in a way, I think, it’s a story not just of escapism, but of escape.
You cannot get off an island. There is nowhere else to go.
I wrote the book in a bamboo hut on the shore of the South Pacific ocean. I could see the volcano from my window. I had no electricity and no clean water. At night rats broke into the food cupboard and ate everything. Fire ants dropped through the tiny holes of the mosquito net and bit us in our sleep. The mosquitoes carried malaria, but that was ok – I had malaria several times before.
Always shake your underwear before putting them on, because a fire ant often offends.
At night, sometimes, I would go out for kava. Kava is a drink made from the roots of a plant native to the islands of Vanuatu. The roots are chopped up and mixed with water and produce a dark, dank brown drink that produces relaxation. It makes your sight and hearing sensitive, so the nakamals – the kava-bars – are dark and quiet places, illuminated by a single candle or hurricane lamp, and the stars.
What if the people I lived with and drank with and laughed with and had fights with were to go into space? – read the rest of the post.
Pop-culture become spiritual landmarks, obscured through time and turned profound by reinterpretation.
Tel Aviv Doisser shows you that common men and women can, when put into fantastic circumstance, become prophets, devils or disciples. You don’t need to be a religious scholar to appreciate the subtext and eschatological sarcasm oozing from Tel Aviv Dossier.
Will the fragmented archival style and occasionally disjointed storyline lose people? Yes. However, for us, these snap-shots are a literary devices that capture an authenticity, stealing facts, no matter how surreal. Tidhar and Yaniv utilize the device to blend biblical credibility into an absurd Apocalypse.
And calling Tel Aviv Dossier broadly Lovecraftian fits, so long as you throw in the pop-culture sensibilities of Nick Hornby with travelogue written up by Hunter S. Thompson.
And an interview with myself and Nir Yaniv, talking about the book, has just been published by SF Signal:
CT: How have your personal lives influenced the writing of the book?
LT: Well, Nir lives a little like an old Turkish Sultan – he lives in a converted apartment block gutted out from the inside – just this big huge space filled with water fountains, rare orchids and wild birds, where the smell of sweet opium and the pleasant sound of young women chatting permeate the air. So it’s hard to get him to write anything. Every word he writes is like a precious stone – he picks it up, looks at it from all directions, sniffs it, tastes it, puts it in its place, then moves on to the next word while sipping sherry out of a crystal goblet that may or may not be the genuine Holy Grail.
And obviously, the psychotic fireman-cum-messiah in The Tel Aviv Dossier pretty much is Nir.
NY: Have you ever wondered why you never see Lavie anywhere? I shall give you the answer right now, and if you’re as experienced an SF fan as you must be in order to be reading this interview, you won’t be surprised: Lavie is the Invisible Man.
As such, it’s quite easy to see how he was the inspiration behind all those mysterious forces which destroyed Tel Aviv so effortlessly in our book. I just had to invent the rest and let Lavie write some of it.
All this week, SF Signal will be running excerpts from The Tel Aviv Dossier, beginning with, well, the beginning:
I’m standing in the old bus station filming the refugees from Darfur when it happens. The sky turns almost imperceptibly darker, and where before the air was hot and still now a breeze picks up, running against my cheek like a wet tongue, and I taste salt. I am annoyed because I need to take another light reading now and the scene in front of me is shifting, but I have no choice. I am making a new documentary, my third. You might have seen my previous work- A Closed House, about that orphanage in Be’er Sheva, or The Painted Eyes, about the Russian immigrant prostitutes that I filmed right here in the old bus station of Tel Aviv. I take social issues seriously- I think it’s important to bring them to the public’s attention, even though it is hard to make a living this way and I still have to work as an usher at the cinema three days a week. I don’t mind, at least it’s still working with films, and at least I don’t have to be a waitress like all the wannabe actresses and singers and dancers in Tel Aviv.
I am here at the station to film the refugees that are smuggled into Israel across the Egyptian border. They’re from Darfur, in Sudan, and they came here looking for a place where they won’t be killed or tortured or raped. In response, the government locked them up. Our local human rights organizations petitioned the supreme court, which held that the imprisonment was unlawful. Following that, the refugees were abandoned in the streets of Be’er Sheva and elsewhere in the country, and today a group of them was being dumped in Tel Aviv.
While I am filming I can’t help notice that the sun seems to dim and the sky is no longer a bright blue but greying and there are streaks of colour running through it, red and black, and clouds are forming in crazy spiral shapes. It is all happening very rapidly. On the ground the refugees are just milling about, looking lost and hopeless, and the few civil rights people waiting for them are handing out sandwiches and trying to see if they can match people to the lists on their clipboards. I hope they can find everyone accommodation. I’d offer too, but I’m sharing a flat with two other people already. Anyway, now almost everyone is looking up too. The wind is picking up and the air feels strange, like there’s a raw current of electricity in it. It makes the hairs on my arms stand and I feel sweaty. I point the camera at the sky. Points of light are prickling in the swirling vista of a storm. They look like stars, but-
The wind picks up even more, pushing me, as if it’s trying to jerk the camera from my hands. I spin around and the camera pans across the old terminal and someone screams. – continue reading.
Congratulations to the two winners of the SF Signal Tel Aviv Dossier giveaway. Copies should be on their way to you soon. If you didn’t win you can still pick up a copy on Amazon, of course…
Just received: the full copy of Mr. Spellman’s Holiday, to look over, and the new cover of An Occupation of Angels, coming soon from Apex Books.
Two interesting offers yesterday – we’ll see how those pan out. Shoulder still hurts but not as badly as yesterday. I can type, at least.
In other news, the Israeli government has decided the attack on the Gaza flotilla was justified. Well, of course they did. Taking responsibility or admitting fault has never been a useful trait in politics, and Israeli politics in particular. What it shows, as indeed it has shown repeatedly, is that there is no one to talk to here – certainly not with the vast majority of people who voted the latest round of clowns (read: criminal incompetents) in. So no change, and I can’t foresee change coming any time soon.
An honest government would condemn the attack, try the people responsible in a court of law, apologise, resign… any of these things. There is no Israeli Mandela, there is no Israeli Obama… what we have are lots and lots of George W. Bushs.
The Bookman is officially out tomorrow! And here’s a picture from my editor’s desk:
Meanwhile, on the whistle-stop blog tour, a couple of new posts that may be of interest (or otherwise!): What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Steampunk (SF Signal) and The Language of Science Fiction (The World SF News Blog).