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The io9 commentator who made this wins the internet for, like, six months.

GET HIM, DINKLAGE!
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Citizens of Intrawebistanopolis!

Most of my recent news has had to do with tax nightmares (boo!), sibling weddings (yay!), and sick children (boo!) - but here are a few bits of neat-o keen professional stuff:

- I am honored to be a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction or Fantasy Writer! I was a finalist last year as well, and this year the ballot looks even more impressive/intimidating. But the fact that, with only my goofy little short stories, I somehow managed to again get on a list where everyone else has multiple novels to their name - some of them New York Times Bestsellers! - makes me happy.

- My story "The Faithful Soldier, Prompted" is one of the storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Stories of 2010!

- For those keeping track of such things, I've locked down details of my readings at Penguicon (Sunday, May 1st 1pm Board Room) and WisCon (Saturday, May 28th 1pm Michelangelos (part of the 'Great Lakes Graverobbers' reading)). Hope to see some of y'all there!

-My Nebula-nominated story "Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela" is still racking up translations! It recently appeared in the cool-looking Czech SF/F magazine XB-1:

- And speaking of cool-looking... I HAVE SEEN COVER SKETCHES FOR THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON!! And. They. Are. Awesome. Sadly, I can't share until there's a finished cover w/ color, type, etc. But think old school Star Wars poster crossed with the 1001 Nights. Jason Chan is the artist, and I'm very geeked with the direction he's going.  Also, peep the *amazing* handiwork of Priscilla Spencer, who will be making the map of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms.

Guys, I think this book is gonna be purty purty purty!

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For those not on Facebook, your required dose of baby picspam:



Had a pretty damn crappy 24 hours, writing career-wise. But I had to send the novel dedication to my editor. And looking at this picture, and thinking about the fact that I *have* an editor waiting for my novel dedication, and that I have *these guys* to dedicate my novel to...

Yeah...that helped some.
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...given how much time I spend with my babies, I'm sorely tempted to try and fit some sort of anal thermometer joke in here, but I'll refrain from doing so.

This post is mostly a question.

I've long wanted to put together a collection of my short fiction,  but I'd always assumed this was something I would do via a traditional (if, perhaps, small) 'dead-tree' publisher -- and only *after* my novel was out, and my 'name' was (hopefully) a bigger draw than it is now.  I'm now rethinking this approach in light of some interesting projects by Jim Hines, Tobias Buckell, and Mur Lafferty.  I'm considering collecting my published short fiction, nearly all of which is already available online for free, with a couple of unpublished short stories and perhaps even some poetry. 

Now. The fact is, like lots of people these days, I'm in a pretty cash-strapped spot right now. So optimum monetization is a prime consideration here.  Thus this would frankly be a business move as much as an experimental labor of love. With that in mind, here's a nowhere-near-exhaustive list of questions for the hive as I think on this:

- Do you think people will people pay for the convenience of having material that's available elsewhere for free gathered into an attractive e-format?
- If not,do you think the 'added bonus' of, say, two new stories would sway them? What if these stories (and/or ::shudder:: poetry) were a marked departure from a writer's usual style?
- What is your ideal price point for an ebook short story collection?
- What formats matter to you?
- Do you find Kickstarter campaigns by writers inherently repellent/presumptuous?
- What 'perks' in a Kickstarter campaign work for you? Limited editions? Tuckerizations?

I'm sure there are other questions I should be asking here - I don't know enough to know what I don't know, you dig? Thoughts/advice/warnings, etc. would be very much appreciated.
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Hello folks

I've never made a request like this on LJ before, but I've seen others do this sort of crowdsourcing before with spectacular results, so here goes:

I'm looking for someone to create a pretty, high-quality map of my fantasy world THE CRESCENT MOON KINGDOMS.

Basically the situation is this: My first novel, THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, comes out in February of next year from DAW Books. For those who don't know, it's the first novel in an Arabian Nights-tinged heroic fantasy trilogy. (To get some idea of the flavor of the world, you can read prequel stories here and here, and read my blabbery on the novel itself here.) I'm quite proud of it, and am of course hoping that  it makes a splash. But splashes don't depend on the text alone. Packaging matters. In some respects, I'm in good shape there: THRONE will be a hardcover release with some very cool blurbs and cover art by an *awesome* artist (more on whom a bit down the line).

And, because I have always been a fantasy map nut, it will have a map.

Now. DAW's in-house person can provide a very serviceable, basic, black-and-white line map. I love my publisher *to death* and have zero complaints about their plans for the book. But. Truth be told, I would love for the map to move beyond utility and help contribute to teh splashery first impressions. Truth be told, I'm fantasizing about something more like this:



or this:




And there are for-hire folks out there who do this sort of work. But they ain't cheap, and here's the grisly catch: I am flat flat flat broke right now (twin infants, recent relocation, no teaching gig at the moment, etc.). So my ability to fund this is pretty limited. Thus this reaching out to the crowd.  As a newbie-ish writer, I know how crummy and insulting the 'Hey,  we're not paying anything, but the work is *exposure*!' thing can be. On the other hand, DAW will be pushing this book as one of their major fantasy debuts, and it *would* be a pretty nice bit of exposure for a less established artist. In addition, I could likely scratch together *some* token funds and/or work out some sort of barter. I teach creative writing at the university level and, for a genre newbie, have had some decent success in SF/F publishing. So I could happily offer my services doing a ms. critique or some such. And I'm open to other creative, equitable arrangements.

If this sounds like something you have the skills and inclination for, or if you know someone who might be up for this, please hit me up at saladinahmed [youknowwhatgoeshere] hotmail.com. Thanks! 


ETA: WOW, the People Of The Internet are amazing! Less than 24 hrs since I posted this, and I've had a SLEW of responses from talented folks. I'm in the process of looking at portfolios, websites, etc., but the decision is not mine alone - I have to have a discussion w/ my publisher as well before I ask anyone to start putting hard work into this. Please bear with me - I'll be getting back to everyone individually within a day or so. And, to everyone who's written, posted, or spread the word, THANK YOU!!!!

ETA II: Just to clarify, though I've had a slew of responses, the call is still open - please do contact me if you're just seeing this for the first time!

ETA III: Thank you all *so* much for your rapid, generous responses to my call! I'm frankly astonished by how many talented, creative people wrote me expressing interest in this project. I'd had visions of tumbleweeds blowing through my inbox as I waited for responses.  Instead I find myself  in the awkward position of being both and beggar and a chooser.

In any case, after looking at a bunch of truly gorgeous portfolios and consulting with my publisher, I've narrowed the search down considerably, and have contacted my top choices. I wish all of the rest of you fantastic craftsfolk and cartographers the very best with your impressive creative and professional endeavors, and I thank you all for your time.
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Hello again!

My “Muslim Unforgiven” fantasy story “Mister Hadj’s Sunset Ride” has now been podcast a second time, this time by the very capable Cheyenne Wright at the wonderful fantasy podcast site PodCastle.  Go on over, sit a spell, and give ‘er a listen, pards!

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Just a quick note to say that I will be making appearances at the following conventions this year.  Details to follow:

- Penguicon (Troy, MI 4/29-5/1)

- Wiscon (Madison, WI 5/26-5/30)

- Worldcon/Renovation (Reno, NV 8/17-8/21)



And, for the record, it has always meant something profound to me that there was an Arab Transylvanian in RHPS.

End (sweet) transmission.
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Gosh, a lot has happened since we last spoke. I could talk about happenings in the larger world - Japan, the Middle East, North Africa, Wisconsin. But there are people I'd rather you listen to on those and other 'big' topics.

I'm here to blab about my little slice of things. Since my last posting, my wife and twins and I have moved from Brooklyn, NYC to MI, my state of origin - to a Detroit suburb of 6,000 people that's 95% white. A bit of a culture shock after 10+ years in New York,of course, but so far so more-or-less good. We're near family and have about 3-4 times as much space as we had in our NYC apartment.  We're an 8 minute drive to a couple of 'hip' suburbs that have cafes, restaurants, etc., and 25 min drive from downtown Detroit. Plus Huntington Woods has a library and rec center in walking distance that's quite impressive for such a small town, including a cool toddler room with hand puppets and old-school wooden toys and board books.

Writing-wise, a few bits of news:

- DAW now has a firm date for my debut novel THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON (March 2012)! Soon we start moves on cover art!

- My story "Doctor Diablo Goes Through the Motions" was one of the top picks in the recent Strange Horizons Reader Poll, which warmed my little - I mean my HUGE, HUGE, I SAY! - cockles.

- The excellent new SF/F podcast SPECULATE conducted both a very thoughtful review of Apex Magazine's Arab/Muslim issue from last year (including my story "The Faithful Soldier, Prompted"), and an interview with the always awesome Amal El-Mohtar and myself about the issue and our work. That was a lot of fun to listen to.  (Also, did I ever mention that Geek Supreme Site io9 gave that story a shout out!?)

- CONS! So far the only for-sure this year is Penguicon. I'll almost certainly be at Worldcon, though, very possibly at World Fantasy and *maybe* even at WisCon (word on that very soon).

- I'll confess to being more anxious than I thought I'd be about the Campbell Award, voting for which (along with the Hugos) closes Saturday. I was a finalist last year, but have no idea how good my chances are this year. I want to nestle that tiara in my mane so bad it hurts, and I ain't gonna lie, I'm sweating it.

- There are a couple of new podcasts and translations, and possibly a couple of other nifty projects which I can't talk about yet, coming down the line. More soon!

All of this, though, is pretty much a prelude to more baby picspam. For, this week, Malcolm and Naima turn  A YEAR OLD! It's kind of bonkers to think that these guys:



are now THESE GUYS!!!



How in the hells does *that* work!?
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1) An Egypt that doesn't have Hosni Mubarak in power is a good thing.  An Egypt that still ignores the clear will of its people by continuing the Gaza blockade, letting US naval ships breeze through the Suez canal, concentrating wealth in the hands of a few general/politicians/businessmen owners, etc. is a bad thing.  Also, what China Mieville said.

2) The coming months will see two new podcasts of my stories, as well as a reprint and a couple of foreign translations!  This makes me happy and scratches me between my 'real writer' shoulder blades (much needed b/c the past few months have been pretty brutal ones on a few levels). Details to follow soon.

3) Nebula voting closes tonight.  My short story "Mister Hadj's Sunset Ride" is eligible.  If you aren't eligible to vote for the Nebs, I'd love a nod for the Campbell Award.   If you're not voting for the Hugos/Campbell, either, please just turn down the lights, open a window, and whisper "Saladin, I love your stories" out onto the breeze, and I swear I'll hear you and feel all fuzzy inside.

4) Two weeks until the fam and I trade Brooklyn for the Detroit burbs!  Nutty, nutty, nutty.

5) And speaking of the fam, for those who missed it on Facebook -- GRATUITOUS BABY PIC!!!



Malcolm and Naima at their positively ancient cousin's 5th birthday party.  They were the new kids on the block, and a bit apprehensive at first, but they warmed up.

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Heya hey good people,

Long time no speak! Other than tweeting links and inanities, I’ve been pretty much dead to the world the past month or so. No site updates or LJ posts/comments. Obscenely (no, seriously, *obscenely*) behind on email/phone correspondence.  To be quite honest, lately I’ve been – IRL and online – a bad friend. There are several reasons for this, none of which, sadly, is “I’ve been too busy writing.”

Besides a frantic end to the teaching semester and the usual holiday season crunch, the family and I have been dealing with a lot of upheavals, both small and large. There have been surgeries and illnesses – nothing too serious, thank God, but stressful/enervating stuff, to be sure. More dramatically, my wife and I have been making preparations  – massively time-consuming preparations – for a major life change which I can now announce: In March we will be moving from Brooklyn to the Detroit area, where I grew up. Hayley’s received a wonderful job offer in Detroit, but the two biggest reasons for the move are family and money. Basically, for what our one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment is selling for, we can get a big ol’ gorgeous house with a yard and a garage and a furnished basement and alla that in a moderately hip small city outside Detroit. We can get full-time childcare for less than what we’re now paying for part-time childcare.  And so on.  What’s more, most of my family’s still in Michigan, so Malcolm and Naima will get to grow up around grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.  And Hayley and I won’t feel quite so brutally alone in this insane undertaking called ‘raising twins.’

So the waking hours  of my life that haven’t involved child care, teaching, time in doctor’s offices, etc., have been consumed by selling our apartment, scouting new digs in Michigan, lining up movers, trying to establish dayjobosity there, etc, etc.

And looming over all of it is this wee little thing called THE CRESCENT MOON KINGDOMS, BOOK TWO. But that’s a whole other post…

In other news, it would seem we’ve hit award nomination season in the land of SF/F-dom. Lotsa folks bringing their award-eligible stuff to nominators’ attention, so I suppose I shall toss my own hat into the Ring of Gauche (I’m a left-handed Far Lefty, after all!): While I published several stories in 2010, I am asking those so inclined to nominate my weird western “Mister Hadj’s Sunset Ride” in the Nebula and/or Hugo Short Story categories. Of course, I haven’t a chance in hell of winning in either of those categories.  So what I’m REALLY hoping for is to win the Campbell award for Best New Writer (I was a finalist last year but lost quite deservedly to the hard-working and ass-kicking Seanan McGuire).  The Campbell is technically not a Hugo, but one votes for it along with the Hugos. Any support y’all might offer my vainglorious quest is, of course, appreciated…

Of course, neglecting LJ, et al, also means that I’m woefully out of the loop with other folks’ doings.  So…what’s the haps on *your* end?

Originally published at Saladin Ahmed. You can comment here or there.

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Hi All!  Taking a break from Thanksgiving Family Maaaaadnessss to mention that my second article for video game magazine The Escapist is now online. It’s an essay on underutilized historical settings — largely drawn from recent F/SF novels — that would make great backdrops for video games.  Hope you enjoy it!

Originally published at Saladin Ahmed. You can comment here or there.

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Mustpostquicklybeforetwinswakeup!
Mustpostquicklybeforetwinswakeup!
Mustpostquicklybeforetwinswakeup!

Hi, folks – a few updates while my spawnlings nap after a rough couple of hours treating their father like a razzlin’-frazzlin’ jungle gym:

- My story “The Faithful Soldier, Prompted” has been pod…cast? pod…casted? at the Hugo Award-winning audio science fiction magazine StarShip Sofa. Host/Editor Tony C. Smith and I also did a very enjoyable interview as part of the show.  Thanks to Tony and to my AlteredFluid compatriot Rajan Khanna, who narrated the thing.

- Poet/Writer/Scholar Amal El-Mohtar has interviewed me over at Black Gate – a publication whose noble mission of championing shorter-form adventure fantasy is near and dear to my heart.

- The Portuguese F/SF magazine Bang! has published a translation of my Nebula-nominated story “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” This is my first foreign publication – there are a couple more on the way – so this is very exciting!  Bang! is print-only – thousands of copies are distributed in Portugal’s largest bookstore chain – but above is an image from the magazine, and there is a review here.

- To my fellow SFWAns – ‘twould seem Nebula nomination season is upon us, and someone has already nominated my story “Mister Hadj’s Sunset Ride” on ye old nominations.  I won’t complain if others add to the love there. :)

….aaand, now the babies are awake and crying.  Excuse me – I must lie down and be climbed upon again.

Originally published at Saladin Ahmed. You can comment here or there.

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I’m back in Brooklyn after a wonderful if exhausting time at the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio.  I spent most of the con in the bar or at meals, though I did do a reading and see a couple of good panels — one on the evolution of Sword and Sorcery, which included pals and pals-in-the-making Martha Wells, Scott Andrews, and Howard Andrew Jones, and one on the continued viability of epic fantasy, which featured online acquaintance David B. Coe and my new BFF (Bald Fantasist Friend), Blake Charlton. This is the third time I’ve attended WFC, but it was my first time doing so as an agented, award-nominated author with a book deal.  It was great.  Being feted repeatedly by my excellent editor, Betsy Wollheim of DAW Books, having a good number of people I’d never met come up and tell me they liked my stories, reading an excerpt of THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON to a room full of people who weren’t all my friends — these things all made me feel like A Real Author.  But mostly WFC was great because I now know a LOT of the people attending from meatspace or online, and, for all of the ‘working vacation’ vibe, it’s really amazing to get to spend a weekend hanging out with them.  This is especially welcome these days since work and twin-care keeps me too busy to have anything resembling an IRL social life.  I won’t try to list names here, since I’ll invariably leave someone out, but I’ll just say it was great getting to see people I’d met before and shifting so many virtual friendships into flesh-and-blood ones.

But now it’s back to the grindstone.  There are some personal life upheavals coming my way that I’ll report on when they become finalized.  In the meantime, a couple of bits of short fiction news:

-My semi-dystopian Middle East story, “The Faithful Soldier, Prompted” is up at Apex Magazine.  This story is part of a “Special Arab/Muslim Issue” which features a jaw-dropping cover and some EXCELLENT fiction and poetry, including a gorgeously trippy story by Amal El-Mohtar.  Props again to editor Cat Valente for having the guts and vision to put this together.

-My short story “Judgment of Swords and Souls,” which is set in the same world as my forthcoming Crescent Moon Kingdoms trilogy, and which had previously appeared in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, is now available for FREE on this site.  What’s more, it — and works by a ton of other superb writers of color working in the speculative fiction field — will be loaded onto a bunch of shiny new eReaders which you, yes you, could WIN as part of the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund eReader Drawing. The drawing cost a mere dollar to enter and goes to support scholarships to Clarion and Clarion West for writers of color.

Alright, methinks that’s enough blabbery for now.  Until next we meet, here’s a gratuitous baby pic:

Originally published at Saladin Ahmed. You can comment here or there.

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A lot of pixels have been spilled this past week regarding WisCon's decision to rescind Elizabeth Moon's Guest of Honor status.*  I've been swamped with work and childcare and haven't had much chance to respond, other than to a bizarre comment on another blog that somehow managed to go into "What statements has Saladin Ahmed made condemning 9/11!?" territory. 

But I won't be saying much anyway, because I am as tired as can be of 'dialogue' that treats obscenely (and, on my better days, laughably) ignorant and bigoted sentiments as worthy of reasoned, civil engagement. 

And I guess that's my main point in all of this.  Every discussion is not worth having.  More speech is not *always* the answer to hate speech.   When someone corners you at a party and says "You know whose fault all this is?  The Jews!" or "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!" or "I'm sick of them coming over here and taking all our jobs." or "What did she think would happen, being dressed that way?" you're not under any obligation to treat that as an invitation to reasoned, civil discourse where understandable differences of opinion will be rub up against each other in useful ways.  You've every right - some might even say obligation - to treat it as jerkoff bigoted bumper sticker-ese, and to to look at the speaker as if the words that just crawled out of their mouth were slimy little poisonous vipers.**

Marginalization of bigotry.  *That's* why I'm happy with WisCon's response.  It's not censorship or silencing - it's marginalizing.  It's saying "What you said, and your even more entrenched response to criticisms of what you said, is ugly enough and wrong enough that we don't want to talk to you right now.  And while of course you're free to keep saying it, we don't want to listen to you.  And we don't want to provide you a position of honor from which to speak such vicious nonsense."

Of course, what is painfully clear in the comments threads
here and here and elsewhere is that most of the folks railing about free speech and censorship and the cruel Broadsword of Silence +5 wielded by the foul titan Pohlitik al-Korreck Nuss is that they don't consider Moon's comments beyond the pale.  They 'might disagree with' her 'controversial' comments, but they don't consider her claims that "the Islamic world in general show[ed] indecent glee about the [9/11] attack," and "That some Muslims died in the attacks is immaterial--[and] does not wipe out the long, long chain of Islamic hostility," or her claim that Park 51 would be "a memorial center at/near the site of the 9/11 attack" which would "use that site to proselytize for the religion that lies behind so many attacks on the innocent," or her lament at having "lean[ed] over backwards to put up with these things, to let Muslims believe stuff that unfits them for citizenship," or her begrudging allowance that "many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks"*** to be unworthy of civil engagement to the same degree that the above 'cornered-at-a-party-by-a-bigot' comments might be.

And that, to me, is the real problem here.
 

Moon,
in an interview with a Texas newspaper, "said she felt her comments were centrist and really didn't expect them to generate as such controversy as they did."  I don't think she was wrong, exactly.  This type of invective HAS become centrist, and a lot of powerful forces have an investment in keeping things that way.  WisCon's move here, however belated and stumbling, is a small but welcome nudging of this sort of bigotry back toward the margins, where it belongs.  

* Rescind Guest of Honor status, kids.  Not 'disinvite.'  Not 'ban.'  Not 'silence,' or 'boycott,' or 'blacklist,' or 'censor,' or 'lynch.'
** No disrespect intended to vipers, which are not actually slimy.
*** Which is, as one respondent put it, a bit like saying "Many British people are not members of the Beatles."
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This is a bit of a flyby post.  Things have been gruesomely busy 'round these parts lately, from the world of caring-for-spawn to teaching to..well, anyway:

- A couple of signal boosts:

I) My pal and Altered Fluid writers group-mate Eugene "E.C." Myers has launched a new site wherein he springs his steel trap mind upon old Star Trek episodes.  If you want boon companions to an Original Series rewatch, you could do worse than checking out The Viewscreen.

II) My very favorite short fiction fantasy magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, has just celebrated its second anniversary!  Specializing in 'Literary Adventure Fantasy' (a label that I'd like to think fits my own work), BCS has introduced me to a number of fine writers over the past two years.  They've also been reckless enough to publish two of my short stories, including my very first publication, "Where Virtue Lives," the prequel to my forthcoming novel THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON.  You can check out BCS' double-length second anniversary issue for free here,  If you like what you see, I'd also suggest supporting the mag by buying their Year One Best of Anthology, (it's less than 3 bones!) which, FWIW,  was the very first book I bought for my e-reader.

- And an appearance announcement:

Speaking of THRONE, I'll be reading a bit of Ye Olde Debut Novel at the always enjoyable World Fantasy Convention.  I'm scheduled for 2:30pm on Sat, Oct 30th -- a mere fifteen months before the book is actually slated to come out!
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I've blabbed about Elizabeth Moon's infuriating post about Muslims and immigrants here, and have already posted a few brief comments about WisCon's official (and, frankly, offensive) response elsewhere.  A lot of cross-posting has been involved because repeating oneself on a daily basis to make points which decent human beings should already be aware of is tiring shit.  The short version is: 1) Hatred of Muslims has essentially been mainstreamed as a defensible 'debate position' in American culture, and I'm sick of but not surprised by it. 2)The notion that not wanting to engage bigots in 'dialogue' constitutes 'running away' is horseshit. 3) I wonder whether there are ANY comments so offensive that they would get a WisCon GoH-ship rescinded.  If not, fine. But if there ARE comments that might lead to such consequences, why didn't Moon's?  I'm aware of Guest of GENUINE Honor Nisi Shawl's intervention attempts, and I appreciate her efforts and intent.  But really, I'm just so sick of the notion that this kind of unadulterated poison against Muslims is a 'position' which should be 'engaged' via 'dialogue' -- as opposed to manifestly reprehensible social vomit that should be shunned and shamed -- that I'm having trouble mustering up much enthusiasm.  Frankly, a culture in which the default impulse toward self-announced haters-of-Muslims is one of 'getting them to see their errors' and apologize rather than just telling them to go screw themselves feels like a hostile culture to me.

Anyway, I'm still figuring out whether I'll go to WisCon for lots of other reasons.  It's been recommended to me by so many people so many times that I was really hoping to go this year.  But before any of this stuff went down it was already only a 50/50 likelihood.  With the twins' arrival money is quite tight and there are a lot of time-consuming upheavals coming down the pipe for our family IRL.  (Incidentally, what do y'all know about "Con or Bust"? I've had a couple of people mention it to me. Do they pay lodging and airfare? Do you need to be nominated by someone else? What does the application process involve?)  On a professional level, my debut novel comes out in 2012, so that's going to need to be a year of intense con activity and I thus need to consider every expenditure this year very carefully.  I'd need to know that I would have a reading at the con to justify going, and I'm not sure how programming works, or whether first-time attendees could expect a no-doubt in-demand reading slot.  So there are a lot of more pedestrian considerations at work here, too. 

In any case, I appreciate the slew of supportive comments I've received publicly and back-channel from friends, acquaintances, and strangers.  I hope to see/meet lots of y'all some time soon -- if not at WisCon 2011, then at some other event...

ETA I -- I almost forgot to mention that the mighty Cat Valente is responding to this whole mess in truly constructive fashion -- by, as it were, editorially hosting a celebration of Arab and Muslim SF/F writers and poets in the November issue of Apex.  I'm happy to announce that my story of retinal-screen spam and semi-post-apocalyptic Muslim piety, "The Faithful Soldier, Prompted" will be a part of that issue. 

ETA II -- In a more-or-less unrelated note, I can haz Dutch and Portuguese translations of my Nebula-Nominated short story Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela!  Details soon...

ETA III -- I've had a bunch of folks add me as friends here on LJ the past week or so.  I'm crazy busy with work and book and kids so it will likely take me a  while to get through these adds and sort out my flist.  If I don't friend you back right away, it's not you, it's me :)
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A few things make a post?

-- In the most recent issue of Locus, estimable writer/critic/editor Gardner Dozois points to my short-short supervillain story Doctor Diablo Goes Through The Motions as one of the highlights thus far of this year's run of Strange Horizons.  This pleases me greatly -- it feels like getting an A from that hard-ass professor whom you really, really want to impress.

-- My post-not-quite-apocalyptic middle east story, "The Faithful Soldier, Prompted" -- the only science fiction (as opposed to fantasy) story I've ever written -- will be a podcast on the Hugo-winning audio science fiction magazine Starship Sofa sometime in the near-ish future.  Details soon.

-- A few people have asked me about Elizabeth Moon's recent comments about the scary, scary moozlims.  I've said a bit about this elsewhere on the intrawebs, but I'd like to say a few more words here. 

On the one hand, I couldn't be more tired of dealing with this sort of nonsense.  My first reaction was to just ignore it.  But, as one of the very few Muslim (of a deeply heterodox stripe) spec fic writers publishing today, I feel like I can't quite remain silent.  As far as this specific situation goes: I don't know Moon personally, and have never read her novels.  We're both members of the sfnovelists group, and she's been very generous with advice to newbie writers on that (private) email list, so her post was disappointing in the wake of that fact. 

But, to be frank, I'm never really surprised when fear and hatred of Muslims rears its head. As an Arab/Muslim living in America, I've spent my entire life dealing with vicious stereotyping at the hands of individuals and mass culture alike, and witnessing very real hate crimes.  I'm thoroughly convinced that Arab and Muslim life is pretty worthless to the average American,and that this was the case long before 9/11.  The first Gulf War, which costs thousands and thousands of ordinary Iraqis their lives, is nostalgically remembered by most Americans as a practically bloodless video game war (because, y'know, hardly any REAL people [ie, Americans] died).  The Clinton era, when 'we' bombed or invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, etc, etc, and a MILLION Iraqis died from US-pushed sanctions while Madeline Albright yawned, is remembered as an era of peace and prosperity.  9/11, when 3000 innocent human beings were murdered by vicious shitheads, still holds a place in most Americans' minds as an unprecedented, unmatchable tragedy which was the first act of America's back-and-forth with Islamic fundamentalists.  This despite the fact that American foreign policy before and since has produced a Muslim body count that dwarfs that number -- and despite the fact that British and American foreign policy is the single biggest factor in the Wahabbis fuckheads getting into power in Saudi Arabia, Saddam getting into power in Iraq, and the Taliban getting into power in Afghanistan.  Fear and hatred toward Muslims ensures the fact that, while our own healthcare, education system, national infrastructure, and employment prospects continue to go down the toilet, most Americans -- Dems as well as Republicans -- barely question a status quo in which trillions and trillions of our tax dollars go to funding an international war machine the likes of which the world has never seen.  This despite the fact that, by the CIA's own estimation, there are at most a few hundred al qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and that US bombings are doing more to create new recruits than anything their own propaganda efforts ever could.

Given all of this, comments like Moon's never surprise me.  The fact that people who don't know shit about the complex histories of Islam, their own bloodthirsty government, or misogyny and Christian fascism in their own society will continue to spew nonsense about 'madrasas' and 'sharia' and 'honor killings.'  I'll continue to have to endure morons talking about my supposed obligation to denounce fundamentalism.  For years to come I'll have to worry about which spaces and places are physically and psychically safe for me and my children.  That hard knot of perpetual tension that comes from living in a society that hates me and my family will continue to tighten in my guts.   

Which means I will continue to thank God for the decent, openminded people I've crossed paths with over the years.  For that handful that DOES question that which should be questioned.  For those who've made me and my family feel welcome.  And -- to bring this bit of venting  back to the genre world -- for the kind and even loving reception my writing has found in a sizable chunk of the F/SF community. 

-- Finally, speaking of thanking God, my twins are a-growing quite nicely.  I post pics to FB with some regularity, but I'm realizing that I have some LJ pals who don't use FB.  So here, have a dose of That Which Keeps Me Sane (pics by the talented Ellen Wright):

     



(top - Naima (l) and Malcolm (r) chillin, Naima blabbing something to Malcolm
middle - Malcolm w/ Daddy's hands, Naima w/ Mommy
bottom - Naima w/ headband, Malcolm w/ chapeau)
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I’ve blabbed about this on Twitter and Facebook, though I’m a little late in doing so here.  But yeah, it’s like ye olde post title says: “Muslims In My Monitor,” my article on videogame depictions of Arabs, Muslims, and the Middle East, is live at popular gaming webzine The Escapist. Unsurprisingly, it’s making some people angry and defensive (ZOMG 200+ comments in 2 days!).  Just as many readers, though, are expressing support for the article’s fairly simple premise that it would be nice to see more nuanced depictions of, and a higher hero-to-villain ratio for, Muslim characters in videogames.  It was fun to write this, in any case.  If you’ve any interest in gaming, or in media depictions of Muslims or other ‘Others’ drop on by and give it a read — better yet, leave a comment!

Originally published at Saladin Ahmed. You can comment here or there.

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Some bittersweet news on this end:  It’s recently been announced that the excellent Best American Fantasy series of anthologies founded by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, Sean Wallace, and Matthew Cheney will be discontinued, effective immediately.  This is a bummer, since it was a great antho series that mixed ‘genre’ and ‘literary’ fantasy, and there were some *very* exciting guest editors lined up for future volumes, including Minister Faust, Junot Diaz, and Catherynne M. Valente.  The very thin silver lining for me was hearing that my Nebula-finalist story “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” had made the Year’s Best shortlist.  I’d have been honored to have appeared in those pages, but alas…

In happier news, though I neglected to post advance notice here, I recently participated in a very fun reading at the Columbus Circle Borders in Manhattan with fellow fantasy writers Blake Charlton, Laura Anne Gilman, and David Barr Kirtley.  I read the first chapter of my forthcoming debut novel THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, and people seemed to enjoy it.  The reading itself was low-key and enjoyable, and the audience asked great questions afterward.  We then drank ale in Valhalla (no, really, we did) with yet more fantasy writers — Peter V. Brett, N.K. Jemisin, and Rajan Khanna — and a gaggle of editors and book publicity folks.  Good times, and it really whetted my appetite for this fall’s World Fantasy Convention, where, rumor has it, I will be doing a reading as well.

Originally published at Saladin Ahmed. You can comment here or there.

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I’m a bit late in linking to this, but SF/F webzine par excellence Clarkesworld has posted a group interview with my superb writers group Altered Fluid. It’s a rare glimpse into the world of blood sacrifice and unchecked madness methods and approaches that a collective of working writers brings to bear on each other’s work in the context of an organized crit group.   Check it out, whydoncha?

Originally published at Saladin Ahmed. You can comment here or there.

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