Archive for January, 2009

Closing out the week

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Spartacus here, back for the final day of my week of guest-blogging. Dave’s pitiful cries from the bedroom are growing faint, and I think I’ll have to open the door shortly if I want more food (I suppose I could eat him, but this would be a short-term solution).

So.  What’s in the inbox? <rummage> Aha, a post from Robert Thompson of Fantasy Book Critic. In his year-end round-up, he was rash enough to call MIRRORED HEAVENS a “smart, intense and engaging futuristic thriller that effectively combined cyberpunk, military science fiction and espionage.” Huh, not bad. Maybe Williams isn’t the ignoramus that he looks like when he’s failing to cater to my every need.

Anyway, I’ll conclude with MY year-end round-up, a little late, but what the heck.  My goals for 2009:

#5:  Keep my balls.

#4:  Catch at least one of those goddamn birds in that nearby tree

#3:  Turn all of my non-mouse toys into mouse toys.

#2:  Grow to tiger-like proportions so that I will be able to deal with all humans as they deserve.

#1:  Eat so much catnip I’ll think I actually know how to type.

Mirrored Heavens is available in mass-market paperback from Amazon.

Die, humans, die (but buy this book first)

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Spartacus here for day two of this circus, ready to do whatever it takes to peddle this excuse for a book . . . anything at all, unless it involves taping bacon to my butt. There are some things even I won’t stoop to—meanwhile Dave has yet to figure out has yet to figure out a way of the bedroom where I’ve locked his dumb ass, and I’ve been left to continue to say whatever the hell comes into my head. 

Here’s what I don’t understand about you humans.  You slide one of those little mouse toys across the floor, I bring it back to you, you slide it back across the floor, I chase it, grab it, get bored, drop it, and then come back across the room to you. . . and you look at me like you haven’t got the mouse toy.  You look at me like I left the mouse toy on the other side of the room.  And I look at you like where the hell is the mouse toy and why can’t you produce another one at will like you do my chicken-turkey combo?

But if we can get Mirrored Heavens into the next tier of sales, I can get unlimited mouse toys dispensed at machine-gun rates by a customized baseball pitching machine.  Dave told me that a science fiction empire should be reasonably easy to achieve, and it all starts with him appearing on the Dead Robots Society podcast like he did last week.  Those guys were cool, but Dave sure wasn’t:  as quickly becomes apparent as he describes his theories about Mirrored Heavens (is it cyberpunk?  is it not?  is it–SHUT THE FUCK UP DAVE), he was obviously drunk or had had way too much coffee.  I mean, five minutes into the interview, he goes on record saying unemployment is a writer’s wet dream. Which is true, but why admit it?  Last thing you need with the nation going into a recession is someone saying the dole should be a sought after goal.  Then everyone will want to be like me:  sit back and get hand-outs and chase fake mice. Trust me, I don’t want the competition.  So buy Mirrored Heavens and then keep working so you can.  Buy.  MORE.

I. Am. Spartacus.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Aka the Stupid Human’s Cat. And I have taken over the blogging from him, since what he writes is so stupidly lame. He only acquired me to pimp his dumb book anyway: he told me that “science fiction fans are suckers for cats, so they’re gonna LOVE you and make us both rich.” Of course, he wasn’t expecting me to announce that to all of you.  Sucks to be you, Dave! Now your career’s over.

But anyway, let’s get to the inbox. Let’s see. . Mike Collins of Rescued by Nerds has posted an interview he did with Dave a couple days back. Mike even calls the book “Iron Man meets Jason Bourne.”  Hmm.  He seems like a classy guy; I can’t imagine why he wants to be associated with the author of MIRRORED HEAVENS, but whatever. There’s no accounting for taste.

And speaking of taste, my magic food bowl has refilled.  And so have Amazon’s stockpile of the book. The two events are clearly related—so keep on buying it, humans!  Keep on buying!!!

To market we go

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

So MIRRORED HEAVENS is now available in mass-market, which (as I learnt comparatively recently) is what you call the paperbacks that comprise 90% of all books out there, and 100% of those you’d see in airports or drug stores. It’s several dollars cheaper than the trade paperback that got released last summer—clocking in at $6.99, not bad for a recession—and contains special bonus material, to wit:

-map of the world of the 2110.  Though in the spirit of full disclosure, you can get one in full color on this website.)

-glossary.  Everything you ever wanted to know about the terminology of the early 22nd century.

-one set of dossiers.  Now these are the crown-jewels.  The back-cover says these are “agent dossiers”, but they’re also dossiers on the spymaster/handlers, as well as on the Inner Cabinet:  i.e., the rulers of the United States.  Want to know when Claire Haskell was born?  Want to know what Jason Marlowe’s bosses say behind his back?  There’s only one way to find out. For those of you who thought you knew what was going on, these are worth checking out.

And apparently the book’s almost sold out at Amazon, so I’m sending folks to Barnes and Noble.  Spartacus aka Wonderbeast may yet be able to get in on the Perpetual Dinner Plan.

UPDATE:  Book is back in stock at Amazon!

World, meet Spartacus

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Ok, the mass-market of MIRRORED HEAVENS gets released tomorrow, and that means it’s Shameless Self-Promotion/mega-pimpage time. Events are going to be going down all week, so watch this space. . .

And I’m going to start off by introducing my partner in this marketing endeavor, Spartacus the Wonderbeast. He may be only five months old, but he is a marketing expert, and has been signed on at Chez Williams specifically to help me sell this paperback. In fact, his continuing to be supplied with unlimited amounts of chicken and turkey directly depends on Bantam moving thousands of copies of this book. But he’s not worried in the slightest, and is right now investigating a certain mouse-like toy that has rolled under the desk. Stay tuned for further updates. . .

Spying on the press

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

The revelation on MSNBC that the Bush administration was spying on reporters was pretty arresting television. Check out the video where NSA whistleblower Russell Tice gives classic “NSA-speak” answers. What’s most interesting to me is the way it was done: the journalists’ data/phone calls/emails, etc. were “set aside”, ostensibly to preclude them from being lumped in with Suspicious Persons, but in reality so they could be strutinized at length. And then the NSA was able to keep this from Congress by telling Committee A that it was Committee B’s jurisdiction, and telling Commitee B. . . well, you guessed it.

All of which has Dick Cheney’s fingerprints all over it:  this is exactly the kind of bureaucratic shell-game that he took to whole new levels in the last eight years.  Also smacking (I might say stinking) of Cheney is the overall plan: Cheney inherited Nixon’s hatred for journalists, and this last White House thought of prosecuting some of them in the wake of revelations on those pesky wiretaps.

But why prosecute when you can just destroy them instead? Again, we have Cheney’s MO front and center. As Barton Gellman wrote in Angler, while many rolled their eyes at how Cheney headed up Bush’s VP search committee and then picked himself, the real issue in play was that this allowed Cheney to obtain confidential data on all his rivals. So when Frank Keating was nominated for attorney-general, a story appeared in Newsweek with embarassing (and extremely hard-to-obtain) revelations about him that effectively destroyed his chances. Gellman thinks this ultimately led back to Cheney, and I would tend to agree.

So the overall contours of the plan become pretty clear at this point: listen in 24/7 on all the journalists in the country, and then use the part where they call their dealer/call-girl/whatever for leverage/revenge. Had the Bush presidency enjoyed the same power across its second term that it did in its first, who knows what we might have seen.  But by that point the presidency was on the defensive, and there’s evidence that Cheney’s own ambitions were increasingly circumscribed:  his endless lobbying for a war with Iran, for example, got nowhere. The same might have been true of the war on the press. Then again, what we know now is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

The world’s most elite Crackberry

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Thanks to the NSA, Obama gets to keep his Blackberry, which will be “super-encrypted” to allow him to continue to have private conversations. Obviously with the Chinese (and, presumably, a lot of others) doing their utmost to hack the White House (like they did last year), there’s a lot at stake here, but future presidents are likely to follow in Obama’s footsteps all the same. We’ve still got a ways to go to the world of MIRRORED HEAVENS, where the software implanted in the president’s head contains all the firing/missile launch codes, thereby serving as the future equivalent of today’s legendary nuclear football (aka “the button”), but the use of technology at the apex of national decision-making will be increasingly redefined.  In the meantime, we can only assume that the executive branch has done its utmost to ensure that no one at the NSA pulls any stunts: an additional level of security is that much better access if you’ve got the back-door….

Of course, the other reason why advisers were so reluctant to let Obama have his way is the paper-trail issue. If Bush and Cheney had carried those little devices, they’d be in even deeper shit than they already are. Could it be that Obama plans on committing no crimes in office? I guess we might have the audacity to hope.

Inaugural highlights

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

-Watching Bush’s helicopter take off. My friend and I ran to my apartment roof as the chopper lifted off the ground, and sure enough, there it was buzzing along the skyline. She snapped the attached picture.

-Seeing Cheney in that #$# wheelchair.

-Hearing endless analysis about that flubbed oath.

-Listening to Rick Warren for the first time and having my (admittedly not incredibly refined) Gaydar totally set off.  Is this why he’s so #$# homophobic?

-Listening to Obama’s speech. It felt like it was probably shopped around too many editors to really strike home with any chisel-it-in-marble-prose, but it wasn’t just the bunch of platitudes that most inaugural addresses are, and was easily good enough to encompass the national dilemma(s) and point the way forward. Best line was probably the bit about “we reject as false that we have to choose between our ideals and our safety.”

-Listening to the last words of the Benediction.  Fuck, did Lowery OWN that podium.

-Watching the parade. Speaking on CNN, David Gergen said he breathed a sigh of relief when Obama stepped back inside the mega-limo after walking part of the way down Pennsylvania Avenue.  So did I.

January 20th, 2009

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

David Coe interview

Monday, January 19th, 2009

24 hours to go until inauguration, and the last post of the Bush presidency goes to fellow scribe David Coe. I don’t think he planned it that way, but someone had to do it.  (Interview questions are from the SFnovelists website.)

David B. Coe ( is the Crawford Award-winning author of ten fantasy novels and several short stories. A refugee from academia, David has a Ph.D. in history and has taught at the university level. In a life prior to that prior life, he was a political consultant. The Horsemen’s Gambit is the second book in his Blood of the Southlands trilogy. It is to be published on January 20, 2009, which is good because there’s nothing else of importance happening that day to draw attention away from the book’s release….

Q) Can you tell us a bit about The Horsemen’s Gambit and the Blood of the Southlands series?

DBC) Blood of the Southlands begins with The Sorcerers’ Plague as a sort of medieval medical thriller. An old woman named Lici has set out to avenge a injury done her decades before by conjuring a plague. Before long though, the plague spirals far beyond her control, and in The Horsemen’s Gambit, the damage done by the plague to the Qirsi, the sorcerers of the Southlands, convinces their enemies, the Eandi, to attack Qirsi lands in the hopes of winning back territory lost during the Blood Wars. Along the way there’s political intrigue, some romance, and a web of personal interactions tinged with all this ethnic baggage.

Those are the basic plot points. In a larger sense this series, like my five-book Winds of the Forelands sequence [Rules of Ascension, Seeds of Betrayal, Bonds of Vengeance, Shapers of Darkness, Weavers of War], which is set in the same world, deals with issues of race, ethnic identity, and prejudice. My characters, particularly those who seek to control the chaos unleashed by Lici’s curse, are constantly fighting against the destructive power of ancient hatreds. Ultimately this newest book — like those that came before it and the one that remains — is about overcoming history and transcending bigotry.

Q) Race, prejudice, ethnic identity — That all sounds pretty familiar. Is Blood of the Southlands set in a created world or our own?

DBC) It’s definitely a created world, but as with all my work, Blood of the Southlands touches on issues of great importance in what we call, for lack of a better term, the “real” world. My LonTobyn series [Children of Amarid, The Outlanders, Eagle-Sage] touched on ecological themes. Winds of the Forelands and Blood of the Southlands deal with race. I have another project that I’m working on that focuses on drug addiction. I write books that I hope will entertain. I strive to make them fun — as I said, there’s lots of action and intrigue, romance and even humor. But they also deal with serious issues that resonate with social concerns in our own lives. I do this because I find it more interesting to write books that grapple with big questions. And if some of my readers come away from the books thinking about race or ecology or substance issues in a new way, all the better.

Q) What is it about fantasy that attracts you?

DBC) Well, in part I’m drawn to fantasy precisely because I can create worlds that then serve as mirrors for our own world. Admittedly, these are imperfect mirrors, but they’re mirrors nevertheless. I can make the Forelands/Southlands universe and create racial tensions that are complex and compelling, and yet different enough from the racial problems in our own world that no one will be offended by the books. Speculative fiction offers us a unique opportunity to look at ourselves through a lens that both distorts and magnifies. The distortions allow us to distance ourselves and perhaps examine an emotionally fraught issue without so much emotional heat. The magnification can make us see things that we might otherwise miss.

I’m also drawn to fantasy, as well as science fiction, and dark fantasy, and horror, and all the other subgenres in our field, for the simple reason that they’re so much fun to read. I love magic. As a friend of mine wrote elsewhere just the other day, I believe in magic on some level. And being able to write magic into the lives of my characters, giving them the ability to shape their world in ways that I can only dream of doing myself, is enormously entertaining.

Q) Why did you decide to make Besh, one of the protagonists of Blood of the Southlands, an old man?

DBC) Well, let me start by saying that I’m not certain I “make” any of my characters, any more than I’m certain that I control their actions. My characters present themselves to me. They clamor for my attention, and when I finally turn my mind’s eye on any one of them, he or she tells me his or her story. When I first started conceiving of the Blood of the Southlands trilogy, Besh was the first character I met. I didn’t know at the time why it was important that he tell so much of the story, but I trusted him and also my instincts as a writer, which told me that he was crucial to the entire series. I think I was drawn to him, at least in part, because he was so different from other protagonists I’d written and other heroes I’d encountered as a reader. Yes, he’s old. He’s also got that stubborn sense of “I know myself, and I know the world, and by God you’re going to listen to me,” that we sometimes find in our elderly friends. He’s not particularly strong physically, and he wields little influence or political power. But he’s clever and wise and uncommonly brave. He has a profound moral sense and is intensely loyal to his people and his family. Over the course of writing the three books of the Southlands series he became just about my favorite of all the characters I’ve ever written.

Q) You’ve been a historian, you’ve worked in politics — it seems you came to writing relatively late in life. How did it happen?

DBC) I suppose I did come to it a bit late, but the irony is that I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I wrote and illustrated my first books in first and second grade — and given the quality of my illustrations, it’s a good thing I can write. I went to college with every intention of majoring in creative writing, but got sidetracked by concerns with practical considerations, like making a living. I tried political consulting, but found it disillusioning. So I went to grad school, got my degree in history, and applied for a bunch of teaching positions. But the summer after I completed my degree I found myself with lots of free time on my hands. My grad work was done, but the academic jobs hadn’t been listed yet. And my wife said to me, “You know, since the day we met you’ve been talking about writing a book. You have some time now. Why don’t you spend the summer writing?”

I did, and by the end of the summer I had several short stories written (none of them has ever seen the light of day, and none of them ever will) as well as the first five chapters of what would eventually be Children of Amarid, my first novel. A friend of mine agreed to act as my agent and he shopped the book around while I applied for teaching jobs. I got the perfect academic job offer — teaching environmental history in Colorado — and my first nibble from Tor Books within 24 hours of each other. I chose writing and have never looked back.

Q) Aside from writing, what do you do for fun?

DBC) Well, I’m a husband and a dad, which are the two things that mean the most to me. My daughters are 13 and 9, and a lot of my non-work time is taken up with stuff I do for or with them. I’ve been a Soccer Dad, a Swim Dad, a Dance Dad, a Music Dad, and a Theater Dad. And because my wife is a full-time college professor, I do most of the grocery shopping, a fair amount of laundry and house stuff, etc. In addition, I’m active in my community — I run a local food cooperative, I’m on the parents’ council of my older daughter’s school, and I’m on the town council here in our little village. But when I’m not doing any of that I have quite a few outside interests. I like to hike and birdwatch. I’m a dedicated amateur photographer and actually had my first one-man exhibit in 2008. Nature and landscape photography mostly. I play guitar and sing — folk, rock, a bit of bluegrass. I listen to music all the time. I look at butterflies and run a local butterfly census here in my home town. I’m a bit of a political junkie, and I’m confident that my professional output will be greater in 2009 than it was last year, simply because I won’t be checking political web sites every 3 minutes.

Q) What’s a typical day like for you?

DBC) A typical day? I’m not sure there’s any such thing — did I mention that I’m the father of a teenager? My routine looks something like this: We’re up at 6:30 am. I make lunch for my younger daughter and do what I can to get the girls moving. After my wife and I get the girls to their schools, I go to the gym for an hour or so. Exercise is crucial for me; without my morning workout I’m not sure I could function. I get back, have a light breakfast, check my email, and begin the day’s writing. I shoot for 6-8 manuscript pages a day, which translates to about 1500-2000 words. I’m not a particularly fast writer, but if I can write 35 to 40 pages a week, that’s a book every 6 months or so, which isn’t too bad a pace. I might have to pick up one of the girls from school or take them to dance or sports practice, but I can usually get back to work for a while longer. I knock off around 5:00 or 5:30 and the rest of the evening is family time. I don’t work on weekends, and I don’t work many nights. I work at home, so it would be very easy to be sucked into working all the time. To prevent this, I set strict boundaries. I have work time and family time. I’d probably get more written if I was less strict about this, but that’s a choice I’m comfortable making.

Q) What are you working on now?

DBC) The third and final Blood of the Southlands book is finished and handed in to my editor (it’s scheduled for release in January 2010). I’ll have revisions to do eventually, but for now I’m working on a new project that is completely separate from anything I’ve done before. It’s alternate world fantasy set in a place that’s roughly analogous to early Renaissance Europe. There’s a magical element and each book is a stand alone mystery with recurring characters. I don’t generally like to talk too much about works in progress until I’m further along than I am with this series. Suffice it to say that I’m very excited about this one. I hope to see the first book in print sometime in 2010.

David B. Coe’s personal website can be found at He blogs with some regularity on both LiveJournal and WordPress, and he is part of the MagicalWords.Net writing blog with fellow fantasy authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and C.E. Murphy. The Horsemen’s Gambit, book II of his Blood of the Southlands trilogy, can be purchased through (Release date: January 20, 2009)