Locus Recommended Reading

Every year, Locus Magazine posts their recommended reading list plus year-end summaries by various reviewers and others. The list is here. The Silverberg Business is on it, which is very pleasing.

Graham Sleight, in his summary, says: “The Silverberg Business by Robert Freeman Wexler (Small Beer) was a striking surprise: a bizarre fantasy of the 19th-century American West that stayed with me like a dream.” He also put it on a list of his top ten books of the year.

Ian Mond, who’s September review has already been linked on this page, says: “Wexler’s book is possibly the most original work I read all year.”



I came across a great interview with Steven R. Smith at Foxy Digitalis. I listen to his music a lot while writing. He works mostly solo, using a variety of instruments and project names. He talks about the meanings of the names and why he uses them.

“So by saying, for example, Ulaan Janthina is going to be focusing heavily on keyboards and the rhythms will be generated by my homemade instruments, there’s going to be no guitar–we’re already starting to see what this can be and that’s before writing any music at all–and then because the Janthina name implies the sea and ocean, instruments like organs and electric pianos that are kind of watery…this all helps it take shape.”

Much of his music is available at Worstword Recordings Bandcamp page.

Occasional Notes On Writing

Everyone who writes has their own reasons for doing it, their own way of doing it, their own justification for what and how they do it. What I think is crap and hack is produced by people who believe in what they’re doing.

Note: when I say “writing” I’m talking about writing fiction because that’s what I do.

I went to Clarion West a number of years ago. For anyone who doesn’t know, Clarion is a six-week intensive workshop for science fiction/fantasy/horror. A different writer comes in each week to teach. Participants try to write a new story each week to present to the group for critique. It was mostly a good experience for me. But at my Clarion there was pressure to write things that conformed to the tastes of editors at the big genre magazines, things that would sell to those editors. People who wrote traditional genre were more likely expected to succeed than those who didn’t.

That way of thinking interfered with my development. After the workshop it took me a while to understand what I wanted to do. I wanted to write things that came from me, that were uniquely me (and get them published). I can’t write for a market. I don’t want to write for a market. Theme anthologies?  Forget it.

Persevering with my own vision hasn’t been easy. Trends and fads come and go, writers pick up on them, get books published, etc. None of that is for me unless by accident.

Guardian article on fantasy

Lots of good stuff in this article from the Guardian by Damien G. Walter.

…And to judge by the narratives that have filtered down to us through oral traditions and early written records, fantasy has always been essential to those stories.

Stories from the ancient world are infused with the fantastic, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to Beowulf, The Iliad and The Odyssey. Myth, legend, folk and fairytales have fired our imaginations for thousands of years. We have used the fantastic to take mundane reality and transform it, sometimes for escapist pleasure, and sometimes to find meaning in a world that can often seem brutal and purposeless.


But the commodification of fantasy does not mean it must all appeal to the lowest common denominator, any more than the presence of Starbucks on every street corner means you can’t find a decent cup elsewhere.