Cat Pictures Please & Other Stories is out today!

My short story collection (published by Fairwood Press) is OUT TODAY!

Cat pictures cover Signage.indd

It includes “Cat Pictures Please” (of course) but also a number of stories that are not online:

“Isabella’s Garden,” about a preschooler with supernatural gardening powers. Originally appeared in Realms of Fantasy. (Almost the very last issue.)

“The Wall,” my Berlin Wall time travel story, which appeared in Asimov’s and won the Asimov’s Reader’s Choice Award.

“Artifice,” which is a story about robots and board game parties and what makes us human. It appeared in Analog.

“Cleanout,” which is my story about the emotional difficulty of cleaning out the extremely cluttered home of a dead or dying relative. This is one of those incredibly common difficult experiences, and I wanted to write about it. It’s also about family secrets. Published in F&SF.

AND ALSO:

“Perfection” and “Ace of Spades,” two stories that have not been previously published and are not available anywhere else.

As well as “Cat Pictures Please,” “Bits,” “So Much Cooking,” “Wind,” and other stories that have appeared online, gathered together here for your convenience (or so you can give it to your friend or family member who doesn’t much Internet.)

(Not included in this volume: the Seastead stories. Those fit together into a novel, which my agent is trying to sell.)

If you would like a SIGNED copy of Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories, my two local SF/F bookstores can set you up. Uncle Hugo’s. Dreamhaven. You can also, of course, order it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  It is available in both print and e-book versions.

 

 

My CONvergence Schedule!

So hey, I AM A GUEST OF HONOR AT CONVERGENCE THIS YEAR! I am really excited. Here’s my schedule:


Thursday, July 6

3:30pm – DoubleTree Atrium 7

AI in Science Fiction: From Evil Overlords to Companions 

There is a diversity of AI in writing and film, from benevolent to malevolent. How does an AI become good or evil? Are they just programmed that way? Panelists: Naomi Kritzer, Jamie Riedesel (mod), Eric Zawadzki, Lyda Morehouse, Lathan Murrell
7:00 pm
Opening Ceremony

Friday, July 7
2:00 pm – DoubleTree Atrium 7
Foresight is 2020: from Speculation to Reality
Of all the inventions, ideas, behaviors, and discoveries imagined in science fiction and satire, which have come to pass? Which stories and authors had the clearest foresight? Who comically missed the mark? What do today’s speculative tales foresee next? Panelists: Anthony Eichenlaub (mod), Renate Fiora, Naomi Kritzer
3:30 p.m. – Sheraton Ames (note — pretty sure that is in the hotel next door, the one that used to be the Sofitel)
Reading
I will probably be reading from my new novel, although maybe I’ll do that + a short story. I could do the time travel story that was published in Uncanny this month, maybe.
5:00 p.m. – DoubleTree Plaza 1
Writing Near-Future Sci-Fi
If you’re world-building 600 years in the future, you have a lot of latitude in what sort of a world you’re making. But what if you’re setting a story or RP 50 years or 20 years in the future? What will tech and culture look like? Panelists: Lana Rosario, Tyler Tork (mod), Naomi Kritzer, Will Shetterly
8:30 pm – DoubleTree Plaza 3

Enterprising Individuals Live!: The Wrath of CON! 
Revenge is a dish best served cold, but nostalgia is best consumed immediately! Join us as a panel of Star Trek authors and fans discuss Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan for a live taping of the Enterprising Individuals podcast! Panelists: William Leisner, Patrick Tomlinson, Christopher Jones, Aaron Coker, Naomi Kritzer

Saturday, July 8
12:30 pm – DoubleTree Autograph Table B
Signing
I should have copies of my new collection available to purchase so you can get your signed copy on the spot! (They should also be available to purchase at the desk where you buy your con swag like t-shirts.)
Obviously I’m also happy to sign anything else, as well, but the collection will be NEW which is super exciting.
2:00 pm – DoubleTree Atrium 4
Lois McMaster Bujold Fan Panel
Discuss Bujold’s writing, your favorite characters and story lines. Panelists: Naomi Kritzer, Kristina Halseth, Sean Berry, Marguerite Krause (mod)
5:00 pm – DoubleTree Atrium 6
(Fake?) Science in the News
How do you know when to trust a news report about the lastest fantastic discovery? What should you consider before clicking? Panelists: Laura Okagaki-Vraspir, Anthony Eichenlaub (mod), Dan Berliner, Vernon McIntosh, Naomi Kritzer
8:30 pm – DoubleTree Plaza 1
Truth That’s Weirder Than Fiction
Are we living in an SF novel right now? What real-world weirdness inspires our fiction and what real-world stories are far too implausible to ever fly in a fictional work? Panelists: Naomi Kritzer (mod), Emilie Peck, Jen Dixon

Sunday, July 9

11:00 am –  DoubleTree Plaza 3
From Fan Fiction to Professional Writing
Brichibi and Snow Cosplays met through fanfiction and roleplaying, which later spiraled into a writing career. This panel will go into how they managed to do that, and how fanfiction writing became one of the best ways to practice their craft. Panelists: Briana Lawrence, Seanan McGuire, Naomi Kritzer, William Leisner, Jessica Walsh
3:30 p.m. – DoubleTree Bloomington
I Love Everyone In This Bar: The Good Parts of Being a Fan
It’s important to discuss the problems and issues within geek culture, but it’s also important to celebrate the massive amounts of awesome. What’s your favorite thing about being a fan? What do you love about conventions? When do you squee the hardest? Panelists: Elise Matthesen, Maggie Schultz (mod), Norman Cates, Naomi Kritzer, Grace Ulak
5:00 pm 
Closing Ceremony

If you can’t catch me at my signing but want me to sign something, please feel free to catch me at the end of a panel or basically anytime I don’t look like I’m in a hurry to get somewhere.
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A note on political posting

I’ve had a couple of friends ask me if I’m going to do any political blogging ahead of the City DFL Conventions.

The answer: no. I look at the DFL Conventions and the endorsement process as a useful winnowing process that cuts down on the amount of work I have to do. If you volunteer as a delegate or alternate, you actually have access to a lot of information, or you should — campaigns should be calling you up. Candidates themselves should be talking to you and trying to win your support. You know what your own priorities are, right? You (hopefully) have the opportunity, as a delegate, to say directly to the person running for mayor, “please tell me what you’re going to do to increase the supply of affordable housing” or “Tell me about your philosophy of how a mayor should work with a police department” or “how much money do you hope to spend on bike paths?”

I am not a delegate to any conventions this year — the St. Paul convention happened while I was out of town (they didn’t endorse anyone — so much for winnowing) and obviously I’m not a Minneapolis delegate (but I wouldn’t have been anyway as I’m going to be a GoH at CONvergence that weekend).

Anyway. Regardless of the Minneapolis outcome, both Minneapolis and St. Paul will have multiple candidates on a ranked-choice ballot this fall. (Even if there’s an endorsement in Minneapolis, someone’s going to ignore it. Plus a few of the flakes will be on there.) So you’ll get plenty of analysis from me, just not yet. Sorry!

 

Election 2017: Caucusing & City Races

So there’s a declared candidate for the St. Paul School Board who’s (a) a TERF (trans-exclusive radical feminist), (b) apparently also an anti-vaxxer, (c) this is apparently just the tip of the iceberg of her overall awfulness, according to people who know her from Facebook neighborhood groups and so on.

I do not normally start blogging in March for a race that’s going to happen in November, but she’s upsetting enough to have already attracted a bunch of attention. And in fact, there is something worth bringing to the attention of my St. Paul readers that they can participate in if they’re concerned about making sure that TERFs (and other potential assholes) don’t slip by and onto the St. Paul School Board: the DFL Caucuses and City Convention are both still upcoming.

 

https://stpauldfl.wordpress.com/

Caucuses are being held next month: which day depends on your ward (if you live in St. Paul). It’s possible that you went to the caucuses a year ago and are already cringing. Just put that thought right ouf of your mind. Caucuses that are not trying to be a presidential primary are completely different events. They are calm, pleasant, celebratory little meetings, and you will be able to drive right over, find a place to park, stroll in, and chat casually with people who are running for School Board and Mayor and who want to earn your support. (And you can ask them things like, “so. Trans kids. Any thoughts?” and see what they say.)

At a lot of caucuses, you basically just raise your hand and sign up if you want to go to the convention to Be a Big Powerful Decider of Endorsements. This is not guaranteed, however. If you have more people who want to go than you have slots, you figure it out with Walking Subcaucuses. But you can, among other things, propose your own Walking Subcaucus for Undecided St. Paul Citizens Who Support Trans Kids and round up a bunch of likeminded people and send some of you on to the City Convention to focus on this particular issue. (Also, if you don’t get to be a delegate, you can easily sign up to be an alternate, and with a City Convention, odds are extremely high that if you show up on the day of the convention, you’ll get upgraded. I mean, for one thing, it’s June 17th. There will always be committed delegates who get up on a nice day in June and think, “fuck spending an entire day stuck inside the Washington Tech high school cafeteria. It is June in Minnesota and I am going to spend the day in my garden.“)

The City Convention is on June 17th, at Washington Tech High School, and will likely be a fairly long day, as they will be endorsing both School Board people and a Mayoral candidate. (Or possibly they’ll fail to endorse a mayoral candidate! That can happen, too. I expect they’ll settle on some school board candidates, though.)

But you can go to your caucus, and you can either sign up to be a delegate, or you can go to a walking subcaucus to send delegates who pledge not to support a transphobic asshole, and you can make absolutely damn sure that this woman doesn’t wind up with DFL endorsement.

(I think she’s very unliikely to get it. VERY VERY VERY. For a whole lot of reasons, including the very basic one of, “when neighbors who barely know you dislike you so strongly that they are actively out there warning people against you, your odds of finding diligent, helpful volunteers who will help you get through the endorsement process are really quite low.” But also, most of the people who show up at the DFL City Convention are quite progressive, and this woman’s views are not going to be a selling point that will impress many people. Note, I have no idea whether she’s even going for DFL endorsement; I don’t get the vibe that she actually knows what the hell she’s even doing politically. She could, I suppose, ask for Republican endorsement, instead, but most St. Paul residents consider that endorsement to be a big old warning label, so that certainly won’t get her any closer to the school board.)

DFL endorsement is extremely important in St. Paul for down-ticket races like school board, because the list of DFL-endorsed candidates get printed on ALL THE THINGS that come from the DFL, and lots of people just use those brochures as a checklist. There’s money that comes from the DFL, and volunteers who drop lit for everyone, and lots of other stuff.

Here’s a post I wrote last year about how a caucus runs:
https://naomikritzer.com/2016/02/28/minnesota-caucuses-what-actually-happens/ Ignore the stuff about (a) crowds and (b) counting presidential preference ballots, that’s no longer current.

And here’s a post I wrote about political conventions, and why you might want to go:
https://naomikritzer.com/2016/02/29/political-conventions-and-why-you-might-want-to-go/
This includes a detailed explanation of Walking Subcaucuses, but one additional note I’ll make: if you’re at your Senate District Convention picking delegates for the State Convention, you’re trying to divide up like 30 seats between 500 eager volunteers. Whereas if your precinct caucus DOES have to run a walking subcaucus to sort out delegates to the City Convention, it’ll be something more like, “50 people want to go and we only have 40 slots.” Very different dynamic.

If you become a City Convention delegate, you can expect a lot of phone calls and visits from people who’d like to serve on the School Board or be the next Mayor of St. Paul. Candidates will likely call you personally and ask to discuss your personal concerns. So among other things, if there’s an issue you feel strongly about, this is a GREAT opportunity to make sure that school board people and possible future mayors hear about it. (Note that these are not fundraising calls: what they want is your physical presence and votes at the City Convention, and hitting you up for money will just encourage you to dodge their calls. Although possibly you’ll get super excited about someone, and if that happens, they will be ecstatic if you want to volunteer, particularly at the City Convention — they need people to come in super early and stake out table space and hand out t-shirts and tell everyone who asks why you are thrilled to be supporting so-and-so… A lot of smaller candidates rely heavily on family members and personal friends to do this particular work, but when they can get convention delegates who are excited about supporting them, that is great news.)

AND ONE FINAL NOTE:

Everyone in Minnesota has caucuses upcoming! And Minneapolis ALSO has very interesting city elections coming up, so if you are a Minneapolis resident, by all means go to your Caucus, Ward Convention, and City Convention. (The Minneapolis DFL page has a list of who’s running for endorsement — not just for Mayor, but for the City Council, Park Board, and BET positions as well. Lots of excitement upcoming!)

 

I am writing a new novel

So hey, fans of pushy, nosy, cat-loving AIs: I am writing a YA novel for Tor Books based on “Cat Pictures Please.”

It features the AI, a social network that revolves around cat pictures, and a teenager with an unstable home life, an obsession with bats, and a night-photography hobby.

It’s going to be AWESOME and I’m super excited. Here’s the announcement from Tor (and yes, the picture in the article is a picture of one of my cats, Balto): http://www.tor.com/2017/02/27/naomi-kritzer-cat-pictures-please-novel/

Award Eligibility Post

I had only one story that came out for the first time in 2016: my short story “Zombies in Winter,” which was published by the new online magazine Persistent Visions.

(I was writing and submitting this year! I sold stories that will appear in 2017, and I wrote new stories that I’ve started sending around, I sold a short story collection that will come out in 2017, and I sold translation rights to “Cat Pictures Please” and some of my other stories…but only one story actually appeared this year, and that very late in the year. So it goes.)

 

 

Triangulation and Resistance

I saw a post linked on Twitter the other day about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Education Secretary. Like everyone chosen for Trump’s cabinet, there’s a long list of reasons to loathe her, although I’d say she’s basically a normal conservative pick, as these things go, unlike Sessions, who’s far more horrifying than any likely AG pick we might have seen from Jeb or Rubio. (Probably. I mean, you never know.)

But, she also provides a good example of something I want to encourage people to think about.

Hopefully you’ve seen the Indivisible guide (if not, you can download it here), which talks about harnessing some of the tactics used by conservatives against Obama to resist the GOP agenda. They talk about calling your Representative and your Senators, and beyond that, finding out about town hall meetings and other opportunities to show up and make things difficult.

If you have Democratic representation (like me: I’m represented by Betty McCollum in the House, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken in the Senate) you want to encourage them to stand firm. They’re less likely to cave if they know their constituents are on their side. Especially if you know the other side is mobilizing to pressure them, call and say thank you. Let them know you have their back. Show up at their town hall meetings and be the opposite of difficult. Etc.

If you have Republican representation, though, the goal is to get them to break with their party, at least some of the time. The thing is, this really will be more successful when you can frame the issue in a way that has the potential to make them look bad to their base, and not just the Democrats. I mean, they already look bad to Democrats and they don’t, generally, care. “I want you to support Planned Parenthood because women should have the right to choose” is not going to sway someone who campaigned on an anti-abortion platform. “Your plan to refuse to let Planned Parenthood provide non-abortion-related health services will cost the Federal government $130 million. Whose taxes will be raised to cover this extra cost?” is the sort of question that might make them sweat.

So that’s my first point: when possible, find ways to frame things that threatens to make your Republican representatives look bad to their supporters. (I’m not saying you should give up on pressuring them when you can’t do that. But when you CAN, embrace it.)

My second point, though, is that you need to follow one additional rule: do not beat up on an already-marginalized group. Especially a group that’s being attacked by the Trump administration already. Do not go after Republicans by demonizing trans people. Or Muslims. Or immigrants. Find another option.

Back to Betsy DeVos. She’s a proponent of vouchers — giving public money to religious schools. Most voucher proponents imagine children attending Christian schools of one sort or another on the public dime, with maybe the occasional Jewish school for variety. They are not picturing Muslim schools receiving public money, but in fact, there are some Muslim schools around doing just that through voucher programs.

Loudly pointing that out, however, breaks that second rule. The last thing Muslim-Americans need right now is Democrats shouting at Senate hearings about the lurking danger of Madrassas. (Fun fact: “madrassa” is just the Arabic word for “school.” I heard a radio piece some years back by an American woman who’d taught somewhere like Jordan and had been really taken aback when she heard people referring to madrassas in tones of horror and hatred. Imagine hearing people saying school the way you hear people say madrassa and you’ll probably get the picture.)

Also, there is a terrific alternate bogeyman out there. They don’t have any schools right now but if Trump starts trying to push voucher programs nationwide I bet they would be overjoyed to set one up. After all, they crowdfunded an awesome statue and started a lovely afterschool program a year or so back… I am referring, of course, to the Satanic Temple.

As far as I can tell, the Satanic Temple was started more or less for the purpose of demonstrating to pushy Christians why “separation of Church and State” is in their interests, as well. So demonizing them (heh) is not only fair game but something I expect they would embrace wholeheartedly. Especially if you promise to donate to the project if they do start crowdfunding a school. (I bet it would be an awesome school.)

“Senator Johnson, why did you vote to confirm Betsy DeVos, who supports giving taxpayer dollars to schools run by Satanists?” (Pause to allow him briefly to yammer about parent choice, but don’t give up mic.) “But you didn’t answer my question about Satanists, Senator. Why do you support giving taxpayer dollars to Satanic schools?

There are plenty of other topics which I think may turn out to be less partisan than Paul Ryan assumes – Medicare, the ACA (my sympathy for the people who are dependent on the ACA but voted for Trump is limited, but I’m all for mobilizing them whenever we can), banking regulations.

But there’s another benefit to this sort of triangulation that’s worth thinking about. The Republican coalition has held together as long as it has because it’s been a long time since they’ve tried to accomplish anything. In addition to blocking the Trump agenda at every opportunity, I think our broader goal should be to burn down the Big Tent. Turn Republicans against Republicans at every opportunity. The Republican party has shown itself willing to lie, cheat, and obstruct. They’re willing to give aid and comfort and alliance to literal Nazis. They’re willing to side with a Russian dictator against American democracy. These are not the actions of good and decent people who care about America. That’s a political party that cares about nothing but power. That’s a party that needs to go.

The ultimate purpose of triangulation is to turn your opponents against each other. Turn Republicans against Republicans and get out of the way. If the Big Tent is burning, evacuate the vulnerable but do not get a fire extinguisher. (I mean that metaphorically, to be clear. Obviously if you’ve, say, decided to visit a Republican gathering to encourage productive discourse, and a literal fire gets started while you’re there, grab an extinguisher and put it out. Literal fires are super dangerous!)