“Fascinating courtly intrigue and bloody power games set on a generation ship full of secrets―Medusa Uploaded is an imaginative, intense mystery about family dramas and ancient technologies whose influence reverberates across the stars. Disturbing, exciting, and frankly kind of mind-blowing.” ―Annalee Newitz, author of Autonomous
Every once in a while, I remember that I have a blog and that I'm supposed to keep people posted about my stories and books that have been published in the past year or so. If I had more marketing savvy (not to mention more success), I would be doing this every month, but at this point I'm lucky if I remember to comb my hair before reporting to my day job. So I'll have to make do with this annual(ish) report.
And last but not least, “Jumpers For Jesus” will be published by Mystery Weekly Magazine, (publishing date to be announced, but I've provided a link to the magazine so you can check them out, maybe subscribe). How can you live without weekly mystery? I need mine daily . . .
I hope I have good stuff to report next year, but if not, there's always hiking, geology, ghost stories, music, movies, book reviews, whatever I can come up with. So please watch this space.
Lately people have been asking me to recommend music to listen to while writing. A lot of writers already have their favorites, but most people stick with what they already know. Classical music can be off-putting to people who don't hear it very often, because they think it all sounds like Bach and Mozart. I don't mean to cast a poor light on those composers, but they don't represent everything classical music has to offer. After all, most movie soundtracks can be described as classical in form (or jazz, which is a close cousin). So here's a sampler you can explore if you're feeling more adventurous.
Ralph Vaughan Williams: I love The London Symphonyfrom start to finish, but by far my favorite part is the 3rdmovement. It’s so rambunctious! You can say the same about The Wasps Suite, which was written to accompany a play; it has an optimistic, heroic tone. But, my goodness, Sinfonia Antartica! The symphony was adapted from the film score for Scott of the Antarctic. You can see that bleak, majestic landscape when you hear the music, but I feel more inclined to envision the landscapes of Mars.
Claude Debussy’s famous works are so well-known, I don’t see the point in listing them here, especially when I can recommend something far more magical – his Nocturnes.They conjure mystery, wonder, adventure; what more could a writer ask for? Well, perhaps joy, which is what you’ll hear in “Joyous Isle.”
Yolanda Kondonassis: While we’re on the subject of Debussy, Debussy’s Harpis simply gorgeous, especially Kondonassis’s interpretation of “The Engulfed Cathedral” and “Dances Sacred and Profane.” I would grieve for you if you never heard these, my imaginative friends.
Isao Tomita: Another beautiful interpretation of Debussy’s “The Engulfed Cathedral” is arranged for synthesizer for the album, Snowflakes are Dancing. Each song on the album is lovingly rendered for the Space Age, but it’s also suitable for those more inclined to Fantasy.
Mahavishnu’s album, Apocalypse, blends jazz and classical music. When I hear it (which is often, since it’s on my list of top ten albums), I always envision post-apocalyptic landscapes. “Vision is a Naked Sword” also provokes memories of intense thunderstorms in the Sonoran Desert.
Chances are, you've heard the first movement of Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade, and that's about it. Most music samplers don't bother to move beyond that magnificent opening. However, if you saw Amazon's Prime series, The Romanoffs, you may recall the first episode, about the beautiful Paris apartment. The son (who hopes to eventually inherit that fabulous joint) turns on the radio and listens to gorgeous music. If you play Scheherazade all the way through, you'll get to hear that lovely piece, too. Once you have, treat yourself to The Golden Cockereland Skazka (Fairy Tale), too.
Anatoly Liadov was not as prolific as some of his contemporaries – he liked to take his time. So we're fortunate he produced works like “Baba Yaga” and “Kikimora.” For those trying to envision something different from the European mythos that permeates the fantasy genre, try some Russian flavor from Liadov.
Jean Prodromidès was a composer of French film scores who isn't well-known in the U.S., but if you were one of the lucky kids who saw La Voyage en Ballonwhen it premiered over here in the 60s, you got to hear one of the best scores ever composed. This music is adventure, distilled. We have Jack Lemmon to thank for that – he bought the American rights. The best version of the movie is the one that has no narration, just action and music.
I searched for Georges Auric's La Belle et la Bêtefor 40 years before someone finally released it on CD, and that's when I discovered that the score had been lost among his personal papers that whole time. Someone found it when they were sorting through, after his death. As beautiful as Cocteau's images are in that movie, Auric's score is half the experience (at least!).
Igor Stravinksy's Rite of Springwas adapted for Disney's film Fantasiaby Leopold Stokowski. Many have grumbled about his version, by I think it captures the essence of the piece. You can't hear that music without seeing the dinosaurs. However, if you want to see dragons, go with the original.
Ottorino Respighi is one of my top ten favorite composers, and the album I've linked to for Pines of Romeis one of the greatest recordings ever made. This music is a link to ancient Rome, and the wider world beyond it. However, for pure ecstasy try "The Birth of Venus" from Three Botticelli Pictures.
This is a long post, but a short list. If you like this music, explore a bit more. You won't be sorry.
Music is just as important in Medusa in the Graveyard as it was for Medusa Uploaded, so I thought I would provide a playlist with YouTube links. Those of you who like Spotify can create your own playlist on that site using this list for reference.
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice” by Paul Dukas illustrates the actions of the scrubbers on Olympia, cleaning toxins from the surface of Merlin after she docks in the infamous Lock 212.
If you hear the score for La Belle et La Bête, by Georges Auric, you may be tempted to sit and watch the whole movie.
"Suites for Two Pianos” by Sergei Rachmaninoff is amazingly romantic, and the perfect music for a garden party.
"Halloween Town” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, by Danny Elfman, is my favorite song from the whole movie.
"There's No Business Like Show Business” by Irving Berlin, is Kitten's favorite song, ever, and the one that really sums her up.
Selections from The King and I, by Rogers and Hammerstein, cannot be fully apreciated unless sung by a Mini, but certain Broadway personalities have given it the ol' college try.
The score for Around the World in 80 Days, by Victor Young – as Oichi says, it makes you feel as if “We have nothing better to do than drift lazily in this balloon. . . . ”
The score for Mysterious Island, by Bernard Herrmann, is packed with dangers and thrills.
"Hydra's Teeth/Skeletons/Attack” from Jason and the Argonauts, by Bernard Herrmann, makes excellent use of the bassoon and a variety of interesting percussion instruments.
"Baba Yaga” by Anatoly Liadov will evoke images of the hut that walks on hen's legs.
"My Little Grass Shack” from Ports of Paradise, arranged by Alfred Newman and Ken Darby, performed by Mavis Rivers, is the definitive version of this song, and showcases the variety of Indigenous percussion instruments that were lovingly recruited by Ken Darby for this recording.
Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Maori folk music is best appreciated when it's sung, danced, and played at once. It's hard to find good performances online, possibly because there are so many to sift through. Probably you have to see it in person to appreciate its full impact.
"Nocturne/The Flashlight/The Robot/Space Control” from The Day the Earth Stood Still, by Bernard Herrmann, is Sense of Wonder, personified.
Oichi's Default Majesty Music makes another appearance, once she catches sight of The Three, close up.
"The Sunken Cathedral” a.k.a “The Engulfed Cathedral” by Claude Debussy, arranged for synthesizer by Isao Tomita, is my favorite rendition of this piece, which has always sent chills down my spine. Yolanda Kondonasses also does a gorgeous version for solo harp.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Lady Sheba's “Canon in D” by Pachelbel, which turns out to be a bit of a plot point.
Nine of my novels were published in the U.S. by NAL/Penguin/Roc, under three pen names. I've also been published in the U.K., Italy, China, and Israel. My novels are Shade, Larissa, Scorpianne, EggHeads, The Kronos Condition, GodHeads, Broken Time (which was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award), Belarus, and Enemies. I have two new novels from Tor: Medusa Uploaded (May2018) and Medusa in the Graveyard (July 2019).
My short stories were published in ASIMOV'S SF MAGAZINE, the Full Spectrum anthology, The Mammoth Book of Kaiju, UNCANNY, CICADA , SCIENCE FICTION WORLD, ALFRED HITCHCOCK, CLARKESWORLD, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, and ABORIGINAL SF, whose readers voted me a Boomerang Award.
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When night falls on Belarus, so will the human race . . .
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When Hazel promised never to give up on her dreams, did she really understand what she was promising?
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They say time can't stand still. They're wrong.
“Emily Devenport's “If The Sun's at Five O'Clock, It Must Be Yellow Daisies” smote me. It's a brilliant examination of the human soul in relation to one's self-perception . . . I can't fathom how Devenport managed to layer worldbuilding, develop a full character and examine the human psyche [with] such thoroughness.”