Posts Categorized: Feature Article

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From Up On High

I still remember the day I got my first sight of serious mountains. I was a student at Caltech, working at JPL as a summer intern, and one of the engineers on my project invited me along on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada. It’s a good thing I wasn’t the one driving to the trailhead. I probably would’ve crashed the car when we reached the Owens Valley and saw the Sierra’s stunning eastern escarpment. Jagged snowcapped peaks rise to 14,000 feet straight out of the sagebrush and alkali desert of the Owens Valley, which is one of the deepest in the world.

As it was, I craned my neck out the backseat window with my jaw hanging open and only one thought in my head: OH HELL YES. I yearned to climb those airy ridges and balance on those serrated pinnacles. But during my undergrad years I had to settle for occasional backpacking trips in the Sierra. As a student I had no money, no car, and most climbers I knew were rock jocks rather than mountaineers. Read More »

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“Now I will tell you how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made. There is a precipice between two steep mountains: the city is over the void, bound to the two crests with ropes and chains and catwalks. You walk on the little wooden ties, careful not to set your foot in the open spaces, or you cling to the hempen strands. Below there is nothing for hundreds and hundreds of feet: a few clouds glide past; farther down you can glimpse the chasm’s bed. …

Suspended over the abyss, the life of Octavia’s inhabitants is less uncertain than in other cities. They know the net will only last so long.”  — Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

A few things to know before we set out:

First, we’re going up… and (maybe) down, so pack your chutes. Aidan asked me to write a post about worldbuilding in the air — a somewhat non-traditional fantasy setting — because of a few stories I have in the wind. I set both the short story, “A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed,”1 out this month in XIII: Stories of Transformation (Resurrection House, March 2015), and my upcoming novel Updraft above the clouds. Read More »

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As the Hugo nomination period draws to a close, here are the items that will appear on my final ballot. If you’re unfamiliar with any of the items, I highly encourage you to check them out. 2014 was a wonderful year for genre fiction and art.

Note: If a category doesn’t appear or is incomplete, it’s because I either a) did not make any nominations, or b) will be undecided on some of the final inclusions until the final hour.
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Artwork by Julie Dillon
The Best of
A Dribble of Ink '14

2014 was a banner year for A Dribble of Ink. In addition to all of the fun artwork and news about SFF, A Dribble of Ink published some of its most popular and fascinating essays and reviews. So, to celebrate the best of what A Dribble of Ink published in 2014 (and as a subtle reminder of the site’s eligibility in the “Best Fanzine” category at this year’s Hugo Awards), I’ve gathered together a small collection of essays and reviews that make me particularly proud.

Whether you find something new, or revisit an old favourite, I hope you have fun reading through A Dribble of Ink’s contribution to 2014. Read More »

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“What’s your new book about?” readers ask writers all the time. It’s not such an easy question to answer, Daniel Polansky told me when we started chatting about his new book, Those Above “It’s meant kindly, hardly an unreasonable question given that you did write the damn thing, bound to bring an author to the brink of despair.”

If there are a thousand readers, there are a thousand answers to that question, and Polansky often attempts to find the correct answer to fit the person who’s asking. “There’s the answer that I give to bloggers or interviewers or editors or anyone else who might help generate sales,” he said. “Those Above is the story of a civilization of near-perfect, almost-immortal humanoids who live in a wondrous city at the center of the world, and of the attempts of their enslaved human population to shake off this yoke. There are multiple intersecting viewpoints, there’s political scheming and moral quandaries, there’s sword fights and murder and just enough sex to keep the thing entertaining.” Read More »