Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Monday, January 23, 2006

To Read

So I just made it back from the sorting office with my haul of books from last year's WFC, sent snail mail with the kind assistance of Gavin Grant and Kelly Link (who spotted me wandering around the dealer's room with a precariously balanced pile of books that would cost an arm, a leg and my firstborn child to ship home by courier service). Ignoring the fact that I should have bloody well owned most of these books a long time ago, how's this for a list?


Leviathan 3, edited by. Forrest Aguirre & Jeff VanderMeer
The Years Best Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy, edited by Bill Congreve & Michelle Marquart
Polyphony 4, edited by Deborah Layne & Jay Lake
All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories, edited by David Moles & Jay Lake
Adventure Vol. 1, edited by Chris Roberson
Album Zutique, edited by Jeff VanderMeer


Horses Blow Up Dog City & Other Stories, Richard Butner
Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang
The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories, Jeffrey Ford
The Course of the Heart, M. John Harrison
Dogs in the Moonlight, Jay Lake
As The Sun Goes Down, Tim Lebbon
Stranger Things Happen, Kelly Link
Foreigners and Other Familiar Faces, Mark Rich
Other Cities, Benjamin Rosenbaum
Bittersweet Creek & Other Stories, Christopher Rowe


R. Scott Bakker, The Darkness That Comes Before
Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land, John Crowley
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, Cory Doctorow
Blood Follows, Steven Erikson
Mortal Love, Elizabeth Hand
One King, One Soldier, Alexander C. Irvine
TWOC, Graham Joyce
Tainaron, Leena Krohn
Move Under Ground, Nick Mamatas
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
In the Palace of Repose, Holly Phillips
Here, There & Everywhere, Chris Roberson
A Handbook of American Prayer, Lucius Shepard
Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams, Catherynne M. Valente
The Labyrinth, Catherynne M. Valente
London Revenant, Conrad Williams

And that's not including the ones I managed to cart back in my luggage. Or the books I picked up at WorldCon and still haven't got round to reading. Or the ones I picked up at Eastercon for that matter, which are also still sitting on my To Read shelf (or on te floor under it now, actually). So much to read. How do I choose? Fuck, how do I choose? Actually what am I talking about? Having just finished Jeff VanderMeer's Shriek: An Afterword (and bloody brilliant it is too), and currently working my way through M. John Harrison's Viriconium, which only took over from Anna Tambour's Monterra's Deliciosa & Other Tales because Harrison's a guest at Eastercon (so I thought I should actually read his, um, groundbreaking classic, you know, in case I actually run into der meister), and with Tamar Yellin's Genizah at the House of Shepher, which also had to get put to one side for Ink, also waiting patiently for me to go back to it, and a proof of Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamorra which looks like excellent fun from the first few pages, and... FUCK!!!! How will I ever get time to read all of this?

Thank fuck I'm quitting my job.

I did mention that, didn't I, the resignation thing? Can't remember. Was it more than a minute. Well... anyway... yes, I finally decided to jack in the day job after swithering about it for months. It's not quite the dramatic, grandiose "For I shall be an Author!" declaration it might sound at first, given that I'm a programmer who's been working with VB.Net since the beta and should therefore, if necessary, have the requisite experience and skill-set now to crowbar my way into contract apps development (3 months working, 3 months writing sorta thing) or even (eek) back into a full-time job if, after a couple of years, things don't look too healthy.

Thing is, for now I'm just looking at the various instalments of the advance and payments for foreign rights that will be coming in from VELLUM & INK over the next couple of years and, well, I reckon I can survive for a good wee while. So I had a wee talk with my boss a week or so back, did the nice guy thing, told him that rather than give a month's notice and leave the team high and dry during a six week development push which will be critical to the project, I'd stick around till the end of that development, and then give them a few more weeks on top to get a replacement in and trained, so as to make the handover as smooth as possible. But as of Easter it's adios, amigos. Hasta la vista.

Still, even with the fallback of a return to programming, am I shitting myself about the risk? Is it way too early to make that kind of decision? Isn't it a foolish gamble, dangerous risk, yah de yah, blah de blah, yackety schmackety? Well, sure. I know the realities of writing, that making a full-time career out of it is, for most of us, the sweet-smelling smoky stuff of pipe-dreams.

But fuck it. There comes a time, I think, when you have to just lock & load, wrap yer lucky rubber band around yer wrist, pull tight the straps on the parachute, and take that leap out of the plane into the roaring gulf of sky. And right now seems to be that time for me -- with a good response to VELLUM, with INK coming out this year, with translations and whatnot -- seems like its time to stub the cigarette out, give a thumbs-up to the pilot, and sky-dive into the luckosphere.

Might not work, but in the words of Achilles, in that classic of 80's cinema, ROBOJOX...

Crash and burn, my friend. Crash and burn.

And at least I'll have time to catch up on my reading.


Blogger MJ said...

Are you sure you didn't have to hire out an entire convoy of planes or small frigate to get that lot back from the states? Bloody hell - thought I was bad when let loose in a decent bookshop with cash for christmas/birthdays! Mind you, I'm a sad sap and tend to drain the anthropology sections before moving onto Fopp!

You should have a counter showing the number of days, hours, minutes, seconds left til you're a full-time scribbler :)!

7:38 pm  
Blogger Jason Erik Lundberg said...

Wow, that is quite a list, mate. I own, have read, or want to read just about everything you listed. Good stuff.

And congrats on quitting the day job!

7:59 pm  
Blogger Paul F Cockburn said...

I wondered what that large ship coming up the Clyde was carrying!

And full respect on making the decision to skip slavedom and go for the writing full-time.

(No, you hadn't mentioned it!)

9:17 pm  
Anonymous scott w said...

I quit my job almost exactly ten years ago. Best thing evah. It completely changes your relationship to writing. You may think, "Oh, I'll have lots more time to write." But that's not it. When you move in with a lover, you don't just have "more time" with them, they start to inform your life.

But, yeah, the money thing. Like you, I'm a tech geek, and had to hit up old employers for gigs when cash got scarce. Again, though, working just to get a few more quid is completely different than getting up every day as an employee. To extend my conceit above: Now your living with writing, and only having an affair with wage-paying work.

Get psyched.

9:37 pm  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

Congratulations and good luck, dude. You are at the place I would love to be at some day. Like Scott said, get psyched.

10:32 pm  
Anonymous benpeek said...

jobs suck. leave them.

i've read things on that list. some of them aren't bad.

12:49 am  

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