Saturday, August 20, 2011

Autograph Session at World Con--Saturday 1-2PM

I found out I'll be autographing at World Con with the following authors: John Joseph Adams, Rachel Bloom, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Ian McDonald, Jo Walton, Sheila Williams, and Larry Niven.

Wow. Larry Niven is a legend, as is John Joseph Adams. I'm friends with Diana Pharaoh Francis, and look forward to meeting the others.

I'll be giving away free stuff and signing autographs from 1-2 PM in the dealer's room, and will give away some free posters and more . . .

Paul Genesse

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My World Con 2011 Schedule


My World Con Schedule:

I'm arriving on Thursday afternoon, August 18 and am staying in the Peppermill Hotel

That night I'm planning dinner with friends and I'm going to attend the Night Bazaar Party at the Atlantis Hotel

Take Tammy dancing?

Friday August 19: Hang at the con, see friends and enjoy panels and more. I might even go to the pool with Tammy.

Saturday August 20: Signing at 1:00 PM. I'll have only two copies of The Crimson Pact Volume 1 ($15), plus some eBooks burned on CD's ($5), and everyone who comes will get a free limited edition poster of the cover of The Crimson Pact Volume 1, and Volume 2.

The signing is . . .

When: Sat 1pm – 2pm
Where: Hall 2 (RSCC)
Who: Paul Genesse, with: John Joseph Adams, Ian McDonald, Jo Walton


Editing Anthologies
When: Sat 3pm – 4pm
Where: A09 (RSCC)
Who: David Malki! (M), Jennifer Brozek, John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow
(I'm planning on attending this panel.)

How do editors approach anthologies? Do they just call their friends, or do they (or their assistants) plow through slushpiles? Do the “Best ofs” present special issues?


Hugo Award Ceremony
When: 8pm – 10pm (approx.)
Where: Tuscany Ballroom (Peppermill)

Take Tammy Dancing?!

Sunday: Sleep in! Maybe hit the pool, say goodbye to friends who are leaving, but I'm staying until Wednesday to relax and visit friends and family who live in the Reno area.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Villains, Essay by Sabrina Klein

Villain. It’s a word that is used to describe criminals, those who are evil, and sometimes by one side to describe the other. It wasn’t always that way until about 1822… previously it used to mean a person in a village who was free from their feudal lord. So what is a villain? We can generate countless adjectives, bad, nefarious, evil, maniacal, cruel, vicious, sadistic, vile, terrible, insidious, and naughty, among other words used. Is this character all that is the antithesis of the hero or do they have something in common? Or is it the one that the reader chooses to root against for some personal reason? Villains are made the same way any other character is made. They have parents-or some beginning, likes and dislikes, goals, and a driving force behind their personality- a history. They are people… not objects or motives without personality. It’s not necessarily their motives that are in the limelight but their methodology on route to their objectives.

Just because the character opposes the hero isn’t enough. They must have an agenda, a purpose of their own. ‘Muwhahahahaha’ isn’t a villain, its several syllables strung together. Neither is the mushy efficacious super-genius, or the miscreant individual who drinks revenge like fish drink water. Villains don’t exist just to make life harder for the hero. They must be three-dimensional or the hero is afflicted by the same two-dimensionalism because there is no real threat to his person or his cause. Your hero is only as glorious as your villain is wretched. Doing things for the sake of evil isn’t good enough there has to be a motive, even within the insane mind there is a motive. Villain is a matter of perspective. Often the villain thinks that he or she is doing the right thing, but are they?

Truth is, if the reader doesn’t hate, despise, and/or want the villain dead more than anything… the writer hasn’t done their job. Fear, that’s a good one too, and it been a LONG time since I have seen a villain that was truly frightening. Gore doesn’t a villain make-animals are gory, beasts of limited understanding are gory just because there is blood and guts it’s not scary. Alternatively, a villain that is afraid of a larger villain. There is a food chain among the evil, and there is always a bigger fish with sharper teeth and there always will be. Often I think too much is revealed about a villain, as human nature is to fear what they don’t understand, and/or fear the unknown. If the villains true nature is unknown it can be frightening. Moreover, if the nature of their actions is unknown it can also create apprehension.

So now to get personal about it. Why is it that everyone insists on creating these mushy villains? Bad guys that scream syllables and continue on their way as if the hero is but a nuisance are flat. If the hero is a nuisance then the writer better prove to me the villain is a LARGE pain, and the story shouldn’t be from the hero’s point of view. It should be about the villain. Villains are not two-dimensional beings they are real….just as much as the hero is real. Villains that you see are not always the true villain of the story often times there is a motivation behind the evil. People don’t do things just to do them. Something always pushes for a reaction, desire for something, revenge, power, and object of their craving. For example, Shere Kahn goes after Mowgli because he wants to eat him for being in his forest (in the most basic sense); it’s about a desire for dominance within the villain’s lands. It’s also the portrayal of that evil that a villain should enjoy what they are doing, especially if it’s in. Occasionally, if the villain is doing something vile to the villain that disgusts him show it. Say that torture disgusts the villain, offends his higher sensibilities, there is a reason-why didn’t we know it nor have some clue beforehand. If he is willing to push past his own morals to obtain his objective then it must mean a great deal to him, why? He/ she has a reason flush it out.

Make a villain with substance please. If you don’t it’s an insult to your hero. Because your hero is laughable, he has nothing to fight because your villain has no substance. ‘Muwhahahahahaha doesn’t a villain make’ neither does revenge for the sake of revenge, or power because he is a power hungry mongrel. There is a reason he seeks power or revenge, find it, use it, define him/ her with it. Make your reader sympathize just a little with the villain, it humanizes them makes them reachable, redeemable, and connectable. People want to see redemption. It’s human nature for people love and hope-use the villain to take it away and then use the hero to take it back. What makes it more fun is later making them understand that he isn’t redeemable, and then proving it making them hate the villain all over again.

Villains have a converse relationship with the hero of the story, and it is their methods that continually define them- not the results of their actions, regardless of how complex you make them. For example; Lord Darkness from the movie Legend (1984) wants to destroy sunlight to rule the world, but he feels that he must corrupt the soul of the princess to do it to truly feel complete. How does he do it? He makes her do it for him, and that is far more sinister than forcing her to do evil acts to make her like it. He uses persuasion, manipulation, and intelligence. His methods are what make him what he is, not just his personality or what he is. He is a demon, and by all standards of point of view that in itself makes him evil, but so is Hellboy, it is his actions and methods that help define him as evil.

Voldemort, now there is a classic villain. He wants power, but he has seized the methods by which to insure his success himself (horcruxes). His minions are just that minions, and in each instance it is his methodology that he puts forward. Not simply his desire world domination, power, or magical cleansing. Truly it is his nemesis that is important to speak of here because he has two. That’s right you heard me two. Harry Potter of course being the first, but Dumbledore is the second and original nemesis. They are in many capacities equal in power if not knowledge. The power base shifts Dumbledore holds power and knowledge as advantages initially, and then knowledge is his only visible advantage later on. Harry becomes Voldemort’s nemesis as a baby and doesn’t have power or knowledge until much later. Yet what Harry lacks in knowledge he makes up for in determination a determination that matches Voldemort’s, and is fueled by revenge. This is important. There must usually be something that is in balance between the villain and the hero. Balance for Harry and Voldemort is determination but for Dumbledore and Voldemort its sheer magical power.

As for villains that in my opinion really are rather worthless we have all run into them. They are forgettable, worthless, and don’t stand out except for the moment we encounter them perplexed as to ‘and why isn’t this idiot defeated yet?’. Villains are the worlds-your world’s most memorable individuals, with the exception of your heroes. When you ask someone for a worthless villain, lame villain, stupid villain they think for a moment because they have to remember him/her unless the villain has become hated for the fact that they are just that horrible at their job. I have a few that make me mad and I will name them.

Jareth from the film Labyrinth. He poses no threat to Sara. The only thing he hangs over her head is turning her brother into a goblin, and he sends “the cleaners” after her after she escapes from the oubliette. Hs minions are worse than he is. Most people remember him for the music added by the actor, who did a wonderful job with a character that could have been much better.

There is another type of villain, villains that deserve mention but are forgotten because the heroes they fight are worthless. Often times we are frustrated with them and then ignore the story because the hero is somehow unworthy of the victory because the author lets them win. It’s the same response when you play a game and someone let’s you win, the satisfaction of winning loses its luster, feeling hollow. Gargamel from The Smurfs, Purple Pie man from Strawberry Shortcake, and Hook from Peter Pan (Disney Version).

World Building: Geography by Sabrina Klein

Geography when creating a world…

This quote sticks with me every time I create a fantastical landscape, and I believe that word for word it is especially true in this case. “The reader will suspend disbelief-he won’t suspend common sense.” The quote comes from David Gerrold’s Worlds of Wonder. I believe it to be an essential law because people take for granted about what they know in regards to landscape. If in a non-magical setting I surround an icy plain with a hot sandy desert, you’re going to call me nuts. Your suspension of disbelief-gone. Yet, if in that description I explain the icy plain is at an elevation is 20,000 feet above sea level, and below it is the sandy desert now your brain is okay, mostly. Previously I have written about creating cultures for worlds in deserts, taigas, ocean and fresh water shores, ocean deeps, grasslands, woodlands, rivers, lakes, and jungles. Each time I took the ecology apart by the aspects of culture. What I did not do was talk about how they work together themselves as landscapes.

Ecology depends on many things; geology, biology, & climatology to start with, and how these things fit together to make a system. When you create, a geography you need to thinks about several things. Can these places exist near each other? Deserts can exist next to the sea yet when the woodlands meet the sea directly they become something else with different rules- a mangrove. The nature of our planet has come up with some bizarre things to make things work together. Research it before you decide to make your own rules. You might be surprised they might exist, and require only a bit of twisting for your purposes. Generally, unless you have come up with a way to explain otherwise in logical means, obey the science humans know. I know it’s boring, but unless you intend on making up new logic and spending eternity explaining-it’s simpler. You spend more time writing and less time worldbuilding. If you have reasons-logical ones or fantastical ones offer up an explanation, it will help suspend the disbelief. Just be careful not to push too far. People are accepting of fantastical creatures, but the places they exist are where the suspension of disbelief in my experience can be more fragile. This is not always the case, try it the worst you’ll have is a learning experience, and those are never a waste.

Geography is about many things. For world-builders, it is how we make the map. First, you need to make the map so that not just you can understand it. There are four essentials to EVERY MAP; title, a legend or key, north arrow, & scale. Title, you have to have it, and it tells people what the map represents. Legends, A.K.A. a key that explains the symbols on your map, if ˄ is used for mountains then put it in a box somewhere on the map and tell people that ˄ is mountains. If I is used for forests, then label it in the legend as such. Otherwise, when other people look at your map they will not understand it. Third, directional compasses are more than a convenience. Most people who make maps for a living will tell you labeling North is a good thing. (North doesn’t have to always point up. You can also use other directions as long as one of them is labeled.) Without a North arrow, there is no orientation for the user. Fifth, Scale is a fabulous thing. We are all familiar with the annoying phrase…”are we there yet?” Without scale you would not be able to know that 10 miles away is you destination and the answer after going 200 miles is, almost. Knowing how large the place you’re describing is essential. You may know how big it is, but does someone else? For example below is another map.


For a moment look at it, and think about what it is. Where is it? If I were to tell you, you were in the middle and you needed to get to the sea. Even more frustrating you have no real idea, which is water green, or brown. This is why you need a Key. Would you know which way to go? Would you be able to tell anything without the North arrow? No. It is missing. Suppose I tell you that up is actually down and North is at the bottom of the map? It might help, but without more information, you’re probably not going to find your way. From the middle of the map, it’s about 300 miles to the sea. Nevertheless, without knowing the scale of the map you still don’t know what direction. Now if it just had a title that would explain volumes. If I call the map, ‘Central Confederate States 1864’ does that help. Maybe, actually probably.

However, if I redo the map as below it becomes much clearer with the Title, North arrow, Key/Legend, & scale. Even though the title implies historic value, you now know where to go if you’re a resident of the US. The only thing that I would do more is label the Gulf of Mexico, and I would do that if my audience did not know the US. Otherwise, it is unnecessary.


Now that we have discussed the elements of a map, what about the ecology of the map? Truly, that is up to you. Remember to logically place ecologies next to each other, or to use geographic boundaries such as; water, elevation (up or down), or a fantastical approach is always acceptable as long as it comes with an explanation. When creating a map don’t attempt to put too much information onto one map. Make a line map of the area and then do a map of political boundaries and one of geological and ecological information. They can be combined easily later. However, seeing them separate sometimes brings a perspective when you are starting out. Combined them later, and you will find decisions about what is necessary and is not easier to communicate, and your map will appear much more elegant. Maps are pictures and pictures speak a thousand words, but the four elements of the map; title, legend, scale, directional arrow are necessary for accurate communication.

Authors have used maps to create their worlds. Piers Anthony used the state of Florida. Kevin Simbieda used the whole planet, and Terry Brooks used the Pacific North-west. Many people have used our world as a basis for theirs. If you don’t know where to begin think about what kind of place your story is set in. What is the land around like? Maybe woods, if so what type? Woodlands can exist in tropics, swamps, taigas, and temperate climates. Then if you’re at a loss for what to draw go to the library, get the biggest most used atlas they have, and look for places on earth you know have these places. When you find one, turn the map look at it from another angle. Places often don’t look like what they are without that sacred North orientation. Often times I have found inspiration in doing so. The map of the landscape of my world started on a map of central Asia.

Sources that will help you create a believable ecology include the following or at least I have found them useful;

• Biomes of the Earth series are awesome. These books are textbooks for young people, and older editions are available on amazon ranging from .47 cents to 18 dollars used last time I checked. There are several in the series; Taiga 0816053294, Lakes and rivers 0816053286, Oceans, Tundra 0816053251, Grasslands 0816053235, Temperate Forests 0816053219, Wetlands, Tropical Forests 0816053227, Agricultural and Urban areas 081605326X, those are the individual ones that I could find. Older editions will serve you just as well as the new ones. The set I am familiar with was from 2006. Check your library or interlibrary loan. Here is the ISBN for the set; which is unfortunately expensive about $395.00 0816053197. So if you are interested look for older editions. For the most part, they will have what you need.

• Other books that might be of use are the DK publishing series. These are absolutely awe inspiring. The Smithsonian books are often the same if you look on the inside.

o Universe 0756636701
o Earth 0756661153
o Oceans 0756636922
o Animals 0756616344

Also, check out this post by Paul Genesse on World Building, Geography

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hard Magic Review


Hard Magic by New York Times bestselling author Larry Correia is a really great book and so much fun to read. Imagine X-Men crossed with the 1920’s period show by HBO, Boardwalk Empire. It sounds awesome, and it turned out to live up to its billing.

This novel is the first in the Grimnoir Chronicles and promises to be a really fantastic series, with three books under contract—book two, Spellbound is coming out November 1, 2011 by the way so there’s not long to wait for the sequel.

Hard Magic is set in an alternate history Earth where people all over the world have spontaneously manifested what can only be described as super powers—it can’t be magical powers, can it? This awakening happened in the late 1800’s, I believe, and world has been changed forever. People usually have only one power and can change gravity, teleport, and do many of the things you’d imagine superheroes can do, except maybe fly. Those with powers are called “Actives” and the rest of the people in the world, who are the major majority, are mostly frightened by them and there is a backlash, similar to the mutant backlash in X-Men. People usually have only one power and are known by names such as: Heavies, Brutes, Fades, Cogs, Mouths, Movers, Finders, Healers, Pale Horses, Weatherman, Torches, Travelers, and so many more.

The world building is top notch and well researched. The time period is 1920’s or 30’s and the alternate history alone makes this worth the read. Various figures from our own history are in this novel or are mentioned and it’s cool to see the exciting spin that Correia put on things. There are also little quotes at the beginning of the chapters that give insight into the world and the history of things. World War I was so much worse than the one from our history—which is saying a lot—and many of the characters in the book are veterans, with terrible memories of the fighting in Europe. It’s definitely dark stuff, but very fascinating.

There are a lot of characters in this book, but the main ones are Jake Sullivan (a Heavy), the big guy featured on the cover, and a hick girl from Oklahoma named Faye (she’s a Traveler), who just might be the most powerful “Active” in the world, though no one really understands that fact until late in the book . . .

Jake Sullivan is a hard-boiled hero who has been in prison and is still in love with Delilah, a dame with a disreputable past, and some serious power (she’s a Brute). Delilah is on the cover, though she should have had brown hair. Anyway, they’re both great characters, but this is an ensemble book with multiple points of views, which is a weakness in most fiction, but Correia never switches POV’s in mid sentence and breaks chapters or sections before going to a new character. This makes it a little hard to follow at times, but after you get familiar with everyone it’s easy to keep all the characters straight and this story couldn’t have been told from one or two points of view. There’s also a great glossary in the back that details much of the world building related to the powers that the “Actives” have. I also liked the illustrations in the book, which were drawn in the 1930’s pulp style by Zachary Hill.

Correia keeps the action going at a rapid pace and the enemies of the heroes, who are members of the Grimnoir Society, are really bad news. In the Grimnoir universe, The Imperium is of course, the Empire of Japan, and they’re starting to take over using their own specially developed Actives who are after a weapon that will allow them to take over the world. The heroes, mostly Grimnoir Knights, get to battle machine gun and sword wielding samurai that are nigh indestructible, teleporting ninjas, zombies, gangsters, and more. There’s airships, superhero smack downs, lots of guns, and great writing. If you enjoy lots of action and have a special place in your heart for super heroes, this is the book for you.

Highly Recommended

Paul Genesse
Editor of The Crimson Pact Volume 1 & 2