Wednesday, December 26, 2007


-> Christmas was good. The cats seem to enjoty the tree and tree water, the spuse likes the blinking lights and the smell of candles, I like working from home. Also, Amazon gift certificates make excellent gifts despite the tautology.

-> Technically, I'm on break; however, this is the time when I have extra hours to commit science. So, I usually enter data until late. I'm on AIM a lot, since I'd rather not enter data.

-> Rewriting one novel while writing another is hard.

-> Facebook is awesome.

-> LSS bought a story of mine. This is a market I've been trying to sell to since forever, so me and the lap cat are pleased.

-> Aja cat (aka the lap cat) is in good health.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stupid snow

I just got word that Albany NY is likely to be buried under many feet of snow, since there's a storm coming -- and a first serious storm of the season at that. And because people are not insane, they are unlikely to attend book signings in the middle of storms. So the signing is canceled this Saturday, and will be moved to a more favorable date -- I hope, the one without any snow. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, since the book #3 (The House of Discarded Dreams aka THODD) has been so sloooow, I've been reading a lot. Finally got around to Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and this is pretty damn close to a perfect book. It is all sorts of clever, touching, and very very funny. I really can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book so much, or laughed so much while reading. And the language in it! Chabon can turn a phrase to some jaw-dropping degree of awesome.

Then there was Crowley's The Translator -- and it is an excellent book too, although in a completely different way. When I first started reading it, I described it to a friend as 'tormenty', and I still stand by it -- a very painful book for me, for whatever accumulation of personal experiences and neuroses, and an excellent one. One of the things that impressed me about it was Crowley's ability to write about people from a different culture (Russians, in this case, and I am very picky about those). There's this oscillation from iconic to vulnerable that is just wonderfully done, and a great authenticity not just details but thoughts.

Oh, and to chase away the ennui, I've been reading Scalzi's On Writing -- a good book on how to live as a writer rather than on how to write. Also, very funny and insightful and full of amusing tales of writerly cattiness.

And now that the grades are done, I should probably try writing THODD.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Upstate NY

Next Saturday, December 15th, I'll be reading and signing at Flights of Fantasy bookstore ( in Albany, NY. Please come if you're in the area.

Other than that, staying low, and grading the finals and papers and lab reports, occasionally venturing out for beers with a couple of coworkers.

Working on book #3 for Prime, and that's a difficult one for me -- parts of it are very familiar, while the rest is alien and requires a lot of research and talking to people and just noodling. So yeah, slow.

After some positive feedback on the audiofile posted at Amazon, I'm considering supplementing the website with some audio content -- I was thinking about reading some of my favorite Russian poetry. Thoughts? Suggestions? (Of course, it is possible that people who said kind things were just being nice, so please let me know if I should never ever do any audio in the future.

Monday, November 26, 2007


An exclusive audio of me reading from the book is available at Amazon blog, thanks to the very awesome Jeff VanderMeer. Have a listen.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The book exists!

Last weekend, The Secret History of Moscow was launched at WFC. We had a fun party with chocolate, cheese, beer, and rubber rats. Overall, WFC was a blast -- got to see many old friends and gape at many luminaries. Met a ton of new people -- everyone was wonderful and kind, and I feel I made new friends too.

Meanwhile, John Scalzi has kindly invited me to contribute to his The Big Idea feature at Ficlets blog -- here is my rambly explanation of how The Secret History came about and why I wanted to write it.

Finally: The Secret History is listed as available at and B&N, so I deduce it's a real book now. It's both exciting and scary, and I hope people like it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

News Galore

Quite a bit is happening here.

First, I'll be at WFC in Saratoga Springs next weekend. I'll be on a panel, even:

SUNDAY, 11 AM. City Center C
Urban Fantasy—Beyond the Usual Suspects. It seems as if most urban fantasy uses the familiar European myths. What other possibilities are there? Which authors have successfully exploited them?
Marie Brennan, David Anthony Durham, Melanie Fletcher, Ernest Lilley, Ekaterina Sedia.

Second, my story from October Analog, "Virus Changes Skin", was selected to appear in Richard Horton's Year's Best SF. Wee!

Finally, Prime will be publishing two more of my books -- THE ALCHEMY OF STONE in 2008 and THE HOUSE OF DISCARDED DREAMS in 2009.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Subterranean #7 Review

Those who have lamented the passing of SciFiction can get their fix of Datlow-edited stories in Subterranean #7, which features a distinguished lineup of familiar names. The issue opens with Lisa Tuttle's "Old Mr. Boudreaux", a lovely portrait of mother-daughter relationship. The protagonist goes to see off her dying mother, and ends up gently drawn back into the life she had left behind many years ago. It is delightful to see a female protagonist who is not young or relationship-obsessed, and it's a quiet story of wistful sadness at the passing of one's parents and one's youth. Unlike many of the going home stories, this one does not greet the returning protagonist with a sinister mystery or earth-shattering tragedy, but a sad mundanity of inevitable loss of one's parents, of getting older -- and quiet revelations of unexpected magic. The speculative element is subtle and brings to mind Garcia Marquez's "An Old Man with Giant wings", but without the grit and dirt but instead a gentle sense of wonder. Yes, gentle and wistful is perhaps the best way to describe the feel of this story, and I found it a great introduction to this issue.

Rick Bowes' "The king of the Big night Hours" is another quiet story -- quiet despite the rather violent rash of suicides in the NYU library. Similar threads run through it as though Tuttle's story: wistful regret for the passing youth, told from the point of view of an aging gay librarian who witnesses the suicides and remembers an old friend -- or his ghost, or the ghost of the friendship. The present-day story is interlaced with the memories from the time of the AIDS epidemic, and the memories are lined with sadness and unease. While the references to 'the plague' are few and subtle, for me the memories of this time seemed to have colored the entire story with not so much fear but the sense of helplessness, when even the smallest gesture that offers solace is precious because of the bleak background -- much like it does in the present day part of the story, during the epidemic of young people's suicides. It seems to me that the reaction to this multilayered story would be very much colored by the reader's individual experience; for me, it left a lasting and profound impression, a deep resonance, and belief that a touch of a shoulder can be life-saving.

Jeff Ford's "Under the Bottom of the Lake" is a lovely story that is difficult to describe. Ford breaks the fourth wall and seems to work his way through the story -- and yet, different beginnings and fits and starts add up to a fractured, beautiful tale of tangled secrets that persist through generations, affecting lives long after the people who brought them in motion are dead. Surprisingly, it is a light, playful tale, despite the oftentimes grim events.

"City of Night" by Joel Lane and John Pelan is a familiar story of a man slipping into an alternate dimension or a nightmare, populated by creepy giant centipedes straight out of Burroughs' "Naked Lunch" and downtrodden handfuls of people. It's a nicely atmospheric tale, but the one I couldn't help but feel I read before.

M. Rickert's "Holiday" is a strange, wistful thing -- a man who is supposed to be writing a book about the innocence of his father accused of child molestation is being visited by ghosts of dead children. Jon Bennet Ramsey (even though she is never named) is the first one to appear. Rickert manages to take a difficult topic of child abuse and murder (and its creepy corollary of children's beauty pageants) and write a touching, poignant story around it. The relationship between the protagonist and his brother add a layer of family blame and damage to both; I was reminded of the Friedman family, where the father and a son were both arrested for child sexual abuse, and the oldest son is still dealing with the legacy of his family history. It's a difficult story to read, and like all Rickert's stories it leaves a strange, somewhat bitter aftertaste. Well worth the read.

Anna Tambour is perhaps one of the most interesting stylists working today, and her "The Jeweler of Second-Hand Roe" demonstrates her control of the language as well as flair for the historical detail. As the title suggests, the story deals with a family that trades in second-hand food; as one would suspect, food takes the center stage -- as well as some of the stranger trophic proclivities of the jeweler's wife.

Terry Bisson's "Pirates of the Somali Coast" takes on a disappointingly moralistic theme -- teenagers and their videogames that make them unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy, and who are not able to see the permanence of death. Of course, the current obsession with pirates among many perfectly reasonable people resonates through the story as well. I guess I would find this story less disappointing if the tone of the teenage (possibly younger -- his age is not mentioned in the story) protagonist was more believable. As is, it rang false, and the epistolary nature of the story made this deficiency of voice more glaring.

And now for the longest and most complex story of the bunch -- Lucius Shepard's "Vacancy". I've been a Shepard fan since I was fourteen, so I was predisposed to like this story; however, I didn't have to be. It's a dark and haunting story, dark fantasy at its best, mixing the timeless and the mysterious with the specific time and place. The source of menace here comes from the Philippines, and for a bit I was worried that the story would cross into the territory of exotic evil. Of course, Shepard is too good a writer who is well aware of the complexities of the America's relationship with less privileged parts of the world and cultures to do that, and the story really seems to be about the damage of American cultural imperialism.

Cliff, the aging has-been actor and currently a used car salesmen starts investigating some strange goings-on at the motel near his car lot, near Daytona FL. What struck me about this tale was the almost palpable sense of atmosphere -- of a town and buildings and people decaying in the tropical climate, dilapidated under the assault of the elements, ready to be engulfed by the suffocating vegetation and swamps and ocean; the sense of the invasion of an unknown menace, mirrored by the constant intrusion of Cliff's memories of his times shooting B-pictures in the Philippines. The nature of the mystery is almost irrelevant here, and, true to the spirit of this recursive story, it remains unexplained -- although Cliff learns something about its cause and his own role in it. An unsettling story that is somehow satisfying despite leaving most of its crimes and mysteries unresolved. Here once again Shepard presents the readers with a thoroughly unsympathetic protagonist and somehow makes them follow along, pulled by the beauty of his prose and precision of detail.

Overall, a wonderful issue. I am glad to have had the chance to read it, and hope that Subterranean will have more of those guest-edited issues in the future.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Oh my god!

The Secret History got a very nice mention here. Yes, I am very happy.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Belated update

My poor cat Aja is ill again -- looks like the problem is chronic, and harder to control than initially thought. The poor thing is on three meds right now, and I built her a nice nest under the skylight, where she can nap and be closely watched. I've been very preoccupied with work and the cat, so if I missed something, hit me via e-mail or phone.

I do, however, have some things to be happy about: I have a story in the most recent Clarkesworld. Midori Snyder says nice things about it at Endicott Redux. And The Secret History of Moscow received a very generous and flattering review at Agony Column.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Early reviews and BPAL

A couple of early reviews for The Secret History of Moscow are in.

First, Heidi Lampietti say nice things here

Then, Paul Tremblay comments here

In more frivolous news, short reviews of some BPAL limited edition scents I am currently sampling and liking. If you're not into perfume oils, feel free to skip.

Bakeneko=very warm amber/citrus scent, with occasional wafts of cinnamon and musk. Thankfully not enough cinnamon to burn.

Red Lantern=caramel and opium notes give it a very nice sweet character, with aromatic blond tobacco just underneath.

Tamamo No Mae= gentle spicy ginger/peachy scent that stays very close to skin, yet persists for 6+ hours. Undertones of light musk and tea. Awesome!

Hexennacht=starts out as a sharp piney smell, then morphs into smoky resin, with warm amber underneath.

Hungry Ghost Moon=similar to Tamamo, but much sweeter -- ginger, sugar, musk.

Lotus Moon=smells like bubblegum in the bottle and stays very sweet; one of the few florals I like for its sweetness and spicyness.

Bloody Mary= sweet cherry and creamy background.

Monster Bait: Closet=blackberry booze and cake.

Blue Moon (2007)=watery floral, prominent cucumber note.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Long-overdue updates

So a bunch of people are doing something with their blogs -- redesigning, adding new content... Paul Jessup of GrendelSong, for example, is posting a serial novel here

Mr. VanderMeer redesigned his entire online presence here

Me? I just neglect mine. Anyway, the good news: a story of mine that was scheduled to appear in Fantasy will now be in August issue of Clarkesworld Magazine.

The bad news: my air conditioning died and the entire system needs to be replaced.

The other news: Work on the novel (The Alchemy of Stone) continues apace -- at 50,000 now, which explains my radio silence.

Stating the obvious: BPAL=crack.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Amazon Pre-order

The Secret History can now be pre-ordered at Amazon. Much rejoicing!

Not much is happening otherwise -- working on the next book, and just working. Summer is the time to get science done. Yes, the summer is here, judging by the mugginess, and by the tropical growth in my backyard -- irises are about to bloom, and wisterias are taking over the... well, everything in sight. Summer!

Wiscon is fast approaching, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


My story, [Title redacted], will be appearing in Nemonymous 7: Zencore. This time the stories will be published without their bylines, as is Nemo's custom, but with the list of contributors included. I think trying to match stories to their writers will be great fun.

Friday, April 27, 2007


The book now has a cover! Many thanks to Stephen Segal for his graphic design and Frederic Cayet for his mechanical crow art.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sybil's Garage

Sybil's Garage issue 4 is now available. It has fiction by Leah Bobet, Cat Rambo, Rick Bowes and many many more illustrious individuals. There're also interviews with Jeff Ford and Stephen Segal of Wildside/Prime magazines. Nifty art, inside and out, make this mag a wonderful esthetic experience as well.

Admire it here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Text: Ur Update

THE NEW BOOK OF MASKS is available on Amazon.

There's also a promotional video for this book.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Happy New Year!

Apparently, writing a novel is a huge time suck. I'm briefly surfacing with some updates.

My story, "Virus Changes Skin" will be appearing in Analog.

Heidi Lampietti informs that Barnes & Noble is going to carry Medicine Show in the stores.

"Seas of the World" will be appearing in issue 4 of Sybil's Garage.

MAGIC IN THE MIRRORSTONE anthology (ed. Steve Berman, Mirrorstone Books, coming in 2008) will feature a distinguished lineup of authors -- Eugie Foster, Gregory Frost, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Beth Bernobich, Cassandra Claire, Holly Black, Jim Hines and many many others.