Friday, December 30, 2016

More STAY CRAZY Reviews!

Response to Stay Crazy has been trickling in slowly but surely. Over on LiveJournal (still!) Nick Mamatas lists it as one of his best five books of the year, saying "I blurbed this one! 'Had Philip K. Dick lived through riot grrrl and the collapse of America's industrial economy, Stay Crazy would be his memoir. Erica Satifka is a prophet.' I think this book was hilarious, telling, and raw. It definitely worked hard to avoid crazy-person-is-magic cliches at the same time. Plus, after the largely unexpected election result, the United States will become more and more like the town in Stay Crazy. I'd said that Satifka was a prophet before Trump won the election—I hate to be a prophet myself, but..."

Meanwhile, at Bogi Reads the World, Bogi Tak√°cs also puts it on eir year-end list, with this blurb: "On the surface a snarky, cynical romp with a mentally ill woman battling aliens in a big-box store, then a semi-autobiographic examination of class issues in rural America, and then sheer Dickian existential vertigo. At one point I had to stop reading this and wait for the sun to come up, just to make sure all was right with the world. Then Trump got elected. (To make it clear, I am not blaming the book.)"

(Maybe I did cause Trump! Uh, sorry about that? Like, really really sorry?)

Jason Sanford calls Stay Crazy the best SF debut of the year, remarking "Stay Crazy mixes a fast-paced science fiction plot with deft social criticism, characters you'll love, and laugh-out-loud humor. The novel is also an excellent exploration of neurodiversity and how there are multiple ways to see both your own life and the world around us." (And if you haven't read it, check out his easy fix for the execrable film Passengers.)

And last but not least, James Nicoll (one of my fave reviewers) posted a review saying in part: "Mentally unstable protagonists offer authors an easy way to keep the audience unsure as to whether what seems to be going on is what’s actually going on. Also, they offer an even easier way to for authors to treat their protagonists in a shallow, exploitative way. Satifka avoids that trap: Em is a rounded character. She may be an unreliable observer but she’s not a caricature."

Not doing a 2016 wrap-up post because I wrote very little this year what with the election and all. Next year's output will depend on whether we're fighting Civil War II or World War III or both (the smart money is on both), but hopefully I will squeeze in some fiction. After all, who doesn't want to escape reality by reading a book? Oh wait, what do I write again.... aw, crap.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Banana-Cream Pie Dropped from a Stepladder: My 2016 Award Eligibility Post

So we seem to have entered the time of year when I have to look away from the trainwreck of American democracy and list the works I've had published this year! Between the election and -- okay, it's all election -- I haven't been doing much writing or submitting. I only had four things published this year, which is half of what I had published in 2015 and and also 2014. As a certain President-elect would say, sad!

However, one of them is a novel! Stay Crazy is 65,000 words of paranoid Walmart alien fighting action, and it's already gotten some amazing reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. As a debut novel, it's eligible for all first-novel awards as well as the standard ones, and while I'm not convinced a little book like this has a hope of being nominated for a big-time award, I'd be honored if folks would consider it. (And for the rest of today, November 28, it's available for 40% off directly through Apex.)

I am also equally proud of my short story "After We Walked Away," which was published last week by Apex Magazine. It's an answer to Le Guin's story, but a million times more dark and desperate and gory. It's so new that I haven't really gotten many reviews of it yet, but people who've read it seem to be digging it, and at 3700 words it's also a bit on the short side. If you know Ursula, feel free to send her a copy, I'm too scared.

The other stories I had published this year are "Human Resources" in Fireside and "The Panoptimom" in Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. They are also good stories that don't take much time to read!

If you like my story or book, or any others, you can list it/them on the SFWA Reading List if you're a member, or on your own site if you're not. Trust me when I say that no matter how dire things in the world are right now, every writer still feels a little lift when someone says they like our stories, and it lasts until the next time we check Twitter.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Apex Black Friday Sale!


Survived another contentious Thanksgiving dinner? Celebrate with cheap books from the Apex Publications Black Friday sale!!! From Black Friday to the snort-inducing neoholiday of Cyber Monday, you can get a copy of Stay Crazy or any other Apex book for 40% off! For the math-challenged among us (like me) that means you can get the ebook for $4.20 (heh) and the paperback for $9.57. All orders of physical books above $25 also receive free shipping! Just use the checkout code GIVE16.

Already have my book? Then check out Jennifer Pelland's Unwelcome Bodies (one of my top five single-author story collections), the varied mil-SF anthology War Stories, or E. Catherine Tobler's transcendent 2016 novella The Kraken Sea. Or anything else! You know you want to buy books anyway, so get them from the small-press source instead of giving Amazon your business.

(However, if you have a moment to spare, please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads! They really do help.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Story Notes: "After We Walked Away"

My short story "After We Walked Away" is now available to be read free at the Apex Magazine website!

Of note: this is my last short story scheduled to be published. I still have a handful of them out on submission, but due to the election my writing volume has gone way down. The results of the election obviously haven't helped matters. There are a couple other things wrapped up in this as well, but in short, living in a Philip K. Dick world is not really that much of an inspiration for writing Phildickian fiction. Who knew?

But! I do have this story, which draws its inspiration not from my #1 Patronus but instead from the seminal story by his high-school classmate. If you haven't already read "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," then I'm actually kind of surprised! You should read it now, because my story may not make as much sense without knowing the background. Also it's pretty fucking dark, maybe the darkest thing I've ever written.

So the complaint I've always had about Le Guin's story is that leaving doesn't really fix anything. I'm not the first person to point this out, but it seems to me that leaving Omelas isn't only useless for the child scapegoat that powers the city's uncanny joy, but it's also not a good decision for the leavers. While the original doesn't describe the world outside (saying only that it is "less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness"), one can easily posit that the world outside is our world, where there is not one scapegoat but many, and misery is not "concentrated to a single point."

From a utilitarian standpoint, Omelas is a paradise with no asterisk. Of course it's better that one suffer greatly so that many don't have to suffer moderately. It's logical. However, most human beings aren't logical. I'm certainly not. And so, Omelas is a horror, a place that knowingly makes a Faustian bargain in order to enjoy an easy, magical happiness.

And yet, I can't see the real world as being all that much better than Omelas. In fact, it's probably much worse than Omelas, because there are a lot more people in pain, and suffering is entirely random. If Omelas/Solved City is a utopia with a rotten open secret at its heart, the outside world is just rotten. The characters can't organize a fight against all these injustices, because there are too many of them. It would have been easier to stay and fight, or if not fight, then acquiesce to a world powered by "violence-magic." It's not a brave choice, but if the only other option is misery for all including you, then maybe that changes things a little. Humans aren't logical, but we're even less brave. (I told you this story was dark!)

Anyway, if you have a few minutes to spare, read the story. I can't promise you a fun time but at least it's a way to divert your post-election depression for a short while.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My OryCon 2016 Schedule

First of all: Yep, world's a shitshow. I'm not gonna go into politics here not because I don't want to but because this blog is pretty much a dumping ground for my con schedules and reviews of my book and stories. If you want to know my up-to-the-minute thoughts on the waking nightmare we all live in you can check out my Twitter and Facebook.

So with that in mind, OryCon 2016 is this coming weekend (November 18-20) and here is my schedule!


FRIDAY

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Women Role Models in Science Fiction - Are there any good female role models in science fiction? Or are they still relegated to being damsels in distress? A discussion of both weak and strong female science fiction characters across all media.Christina Hartley, David Weber, Erica Satifka (M), Mike Shepherd


SATURDAY

12:00 pm - 12:30 pm: Erica L. Satifka Reading - Erica L. Satifka reads from her debut novel Stay Crazy.

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm: Underpinnings of World Building - Waste water treatment, civil engineering, power generation - how much do you need to have to make your world believable? Erica Satifka (M), JJ Ark, Ken Lizzi, Mark Ezell, Vannessa McClelland

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: We Can't Talk to Flipper, so How Can We Talk to Aliens? - The real problems of inter-species communications, and things we might be able to do to deal with them. Universal translator? Let's start with *a* translator. Erica Satifka (M), Gerald Nordley, Howard Davidson, Peter Wacks

8:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Political Economy for World Builders - Learn the basics of political philosophy, forms of government and economic systems to inspire your story, game or more informed voting habits. Erica Satifka, Matt Bellet


SUNDAY
11:00 am - 12:00 pm: The Death of the Stand-Alone Book - Trilogies, tetralogies--we're not even sure of the right names for five, six, seven-book series! Where does the madness end? Is there no market any more for non-series books? Diana Francis, Erica Satifka, Maura van der Linden, Tori Centanni (M), William Hertling

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm: Structurally Speaking - Stories have rhythm. Is there One True Pattern, or can we mess with it? Are we really bound to the Hero's Journey, or are there other models? David Boop, Erica Satifka, John C. Bunnell, Sharon Joss (M), Theresa Reed


And that's it! I will also have copies of Stay Crazy both in the dealers room and with me if you'd like to get one. I'm told it's quite humorous, which might make it a pleasing diversion from this hellscape.