My post at Asimov’s blog

My essay “We Lost Control a Long Time Ago” is available for your reading pleasure at From Earth to the Stars, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine’s blog for authors and editors.

In my post, I discuss Barry N. Malzberg’s sometimes uncomfortable idea about what sets science fiction apart from “literary” fiction: external events matter more than individual self-realization. Literary fiction tends to focus on one kind of change, increased self-understanding and self-control, as a means to gain control of your life. Science fiction says that you might achieve self-realization, but technological change is and always has been out of control, and that change and our inability to control it matters more to our lives.

This is what makes science fiction a dangerous and plot-oriented kind of literature.

I’ll be at WisCon this weekend

I’ll be attending WisCon, a feminist science fiction and fantasy convention in Madison, Wisconsin, from May 25 to 28. I’ve been attending off and on since the 1990s, and it’s always a fun, exciting weekend.

On Friday at 2:30 p.m., I’ll be on a panel for Speculative Fiction in Translation with Rachel S. Cordasco, Arrate Hidalgo, Crystal Huff, and S. Qiouyi Lu. Find out about the obstacles and joys of translation, the effect of the internet, and anecdotes about what’s hard to translate. We’ll also give out chocolate and M&Ms, translated books, and a catalog listing recently translated works.

On Sunday at 4 p.m, I’ll be at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association 40th anniversary round robin reading.

On Monday at 11:30 a.m., I’ll be taking part in The SignOut, a autograph/chat session. Come say hello if you haven’t already. Wind down after the fun-filled long weekend. On Tuesday, we have to go back to work — fully charged with WisCon energy.

“Semiosis” will have a sequel!

The contracts have been signed, the manuscript has been accepted, and the novel Semiosis will have a sequel. In it, Earth sends a mission to the planet Pax, and — no surprise — things don’t go well, for a variety of reasons. Stevland is forced to act.

I’ve begun revisions with my editor at Tor, Jen Gunnels, who is a delight to work with. The novel should come out in 2019, and the title has yet to be decided. It’s been referred to as Semiosis: Pax, but in my computer, it’s just “Pax II.”

In addition, Tor wants to buy a third, unrelated book, and I’ve begun work on that. It will be about perfect human clones and their struggle to fit into an imperfect world. At this stage in the process, which is still the zero draft (not even close to a first draft yet), it’s hard to say more because I’m still exploring the story. It should be published around 2020.

I want to thank my agent, Jennie Goloboy at Donald Maass Literary Agency, for all her work to make this happen.

Thanks, Mom. I was so sick…

My mother and father passed away more than two decades ago, but I want to thank them now for helping me at a time when I couldn’t say thank you.

I was nine years old, and I got the measles. Back then, there was no vaccine. There were epidemics, and they were dreaded.

I have never been so sick before or since. I remember looking in the mirror, and the sight of my rash-covered face almost made me throw up. In fairness, I was throwing up a lot. And I had a fever, a very high fever.

One night, I woke up with fever-induced hallucinations. Worse yet, I had thrown up in my sleep. Vomit and hallucinations do not mix well, and I wish I could suppress that memory. I was terrified and had no way to help myself. Soon, though, my parents came and cleaned me up. In addition, as I recall (I was hallucinating), my favorite cartoon character appeared and said very comforting things to me. I still wonder who, if anyone, said that.

From there on, I began to recover. I was better at Thanksgiving, and I came down for dinner in my bathrobe and ate as much as I could, which wasn’t much. Mom even got my favorite vegetable, asparagus. I enjoyed it a lot, although I couldn’t eat even a single full stalk. I left the party before dessert was served and went back to bed, exhausted. I had reached my limit, and I climbed the stairs to my room bitterly disappointed that my limit was so low.

I don’t remember saying thank you to Mom and Dad for all they did when I was so ill. I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, and getting well might have been thanks enough, actually. Measles can cause lasting health problems or even death. A boy at my school died in that epidemic. Parents who don’t vaccinate their children may not understand how dire the disease can be.

So, Mom, thank you for helping me on that night when I was in so much trouble and utterly helpless and frightened. I still remember how thankful I felt to know you had come and would make it all better.

I’ll be in St. Louis on Thursday for a #FearlessWomen event

Left Bank Books and Archon will present a SciFi STL and Tor #FearlessWomen event at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at the St. Louis Public Library – Schlafly Branch, 225 N. Euclid Ave.

I’ll be there with Tessa Gratton, author of an epic fantasy about deposed kings and betrayed queens called The Queens of Innis Lear, and with K. Arenault Rivera, whose historical fantasy series The Tiger’s Daughter features an infamous warrior, a spoiled empress, and encroaching demons.

You can learn more about the event here. Free and open to the public, followed by a book signing. If you can come, I’ll be glad to meet you.