I went to a science fiction convention in Beijing

So remember when I went to China back in December? In April, I got invited to China again, this time to be a Guest of Honor at APSFCon (Another Planet Science Fiction Convention) in Beijing. This was the second APSFCon; there have been almost no SF conventions in China, although there’s an awards event held in Chengdu. The convention culture is incredibly different. I’m going to do a separate post about the awesome tourist stuff we did in China (I brought Ed along) and this post is just going to be about the SF convention.

I’ll note that unlike some of my friends, I have never been to a science fiction convention outside of the US. (I have barely been to any outside the midwest.) But I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what a science fiction convention looks like: you’re in a hotel (or occasionally a convention center), there are panels where people talk and an audience asks questions or offers “more of a comment than a question,” there are a few solo presentations. Fans meet up and hang out. There’s a consuite where you can get food and hang out. There’s a dealer’s room and an art show. All official events happen inside. Depending on the convention, there might or might not be costumes and gaming. Usually there are parties in the evening, frequently run out of hotel rooms but open to all members of the convention. If you’re looking for a writer, check the bar first. (Even if they’re not a drinker, they’re probably in the bar because they went there to find all their friends, who were in the bar. Hardly anyone is actually drinking very much unless there’s an editor there who’s buying.)

APSFCon ran over Saturday and Sunday of last week. Guests from outside of China included me, Allen Steele, Lawrence Schoen, Crystal Huff, Sean Stewart, and Michael Swanwick from the US; Derek Künsken and Kelly Robson from Canada; Samantha Murray from Australia; Kim Bo-young and Kim Juyoung from South Korea; David Sheldon-Hicks from the UK; and Taiyo Fujii from Japan. Most of these people are writers but Sean Stewart is more a VR developer and David Sheldon-Hicks is a visual effects designer for movies.

Invited guests from the China included Liu Cixin (author of The Three-Body Problem), Han Song (who’s similarly famous in China to Liu Cixin, but much less well known in the US because his work hasn’t been translated), one of the stars and one of the directors of The Wandering Earth (Chinese blockbuster SF movie, viewable on Netflix), and most of the writers I met at the Danzhai workshop.

The convention was held at a museum. One of the features of the museum was a detailed model of Beijing (this was only part of it):

Me, standing in front of a lighted model of a city.

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Hugo Nomination!

I am excited to tell you that my story “The Thing About Ghost Stories” is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novelette!

If you read my blog for the Minneapolis politics, you may not be familiar with the Hugo Awards: Wired magazine called the Hugo “the premier award in the science fiction genre.” It’s a big deal and I am deeply honored and very excited to be nominated.

You can see the full list of everyone nominated here. It includes a lot of people I know and am super excited for.

The Hugos are awarded at Worldcon, which this year is in Dublin, Ireland. I’m totally going.

(My short story “Cat Pictures Please” won the 2016 Hugo for Best Short Story, and the YA novel I wrote about the AI in the story is coming November 19th and currently available for pre-order!)

You can now pre-order CATFISHING ON CATNET

catfishing_on_catnet

Catfishing on CatNet will be coming out from Tor Teen on November 19th. If you want to get your hands on it at the earliest possible moment, you can pre-order it today and it will be shipped to you as soon as the seller has it!

You can pre-order it from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble (or your own local favorite bookstore). You can also get in touch with Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore or Dreamhaven Books. I will be signing books at both of those stores after the book comes out, so if you’re willing to wait for a signed copy but you don’t expect to run into me at a convention, they can both help you out.

Note that since this book comes out in November, it will also make a TERRIFIC holiday gift for any teenager you know. (Or any adult you know who doesn’t treat books with teenage characters like literary poison ivy. I love YA and middle grade books and don’t understand adults who don’t, but I know they’re out there because they periodically write snotty thinkpieces.)

If you’d like to read an excerpt, it’s here. (I’m thinking about posting some of the cut scenes on my blog, like the extended explanation of how “I’m going to start a dating site” turned into “I now run a social network.”)

My 2018 Fiction Roundup

Here’s my fiction that came out in 2018 (with helpful information on the categories they’d go in, should anyone want to nominate them for anything):

“Prophet of the Roads,” which appeared in the  Infinity’s End anthology (edited by Jonathan Strahan), July 2018. If you squint, this might be a far-far-far-future sequel to “Cat Pictures Please.” This is a short story.

Field Biology of the Wee Fairies, which appeared in Apex, September 2018. There’s also an interview with me about the story in which you can see some photos of the protagonist, who is based on my mother. This is a short story.

The Thing About Ghost StoriesUncanny, November/December 2018. This story was also featured on their podcast, which includes an interview with me. This is a novelette, barely.

In 2019, look for my YA novel, Catfishing on Catnet, which will be coming out from Tor Teen in November! (You’ll see the cover, an excerpt, outtakes, and the all-important pre-ordering link as those become available this year, don’t worry.) This book includes one of my absolute favorite scenes I have ever written, in which the AI protagonist of “Cat Pictures Please” teaches a high school sex ed class.

 

On Editing (Your Own) Fiction

Over on Twitter, I saw this insightful observation:

She is not wrong. There’s a lot of writing advice that focuses on, “shut off the inner critic, just write, you can fix it in editing” and a lot less advice on editing. I think about editing pretty consciously both because I work on my own stories, and because I’m in a critique group (I’ve been in this group for over twenty years) and so I think a lot about story structure and what my colleagues are trying to do with their stories so I can help them do it better.

I responded with a Twitter thread, but my friend Magenta nagged me to turn it into a proper blog post, so okay. Here’s an essay with my insights on how to edit your story, now that you’ve followed Anne Lamott’s classic advice and written a shitty first draft, which you are now trying to fix.

(I know basically nothing about editing magazines or books. I have never worked as an editor professionally. This isn’t about that sort of editing; this is about taking a draft, something that’s truly not ready for the light of day, and turning it into something you’re sufficiently pleased with to show other people.)

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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.