The Extrahuman Union

Recently I wrote about finishing the first draft of the final book of the Grayline Sisters trilogy, and how that felt. I had no idea I’d be making another post like it so soon after.

I finished the second draft of WAKING GIFTS (Extrahumans #4) last week. It was an excruciating effort–I basically rebuilt the story from the ground up because what I’d originally put down simply wasn’t working. I changed just about everything about the book, including the title (it was originally THE GIFT OF GREAT YIA, then THE BELLS OF VALEN, and now WAKING GIFTS). I think it’s pretty decent. I know I can turn it into something good. So at some point, this book will exist, and you’ll get to read all about what happens when Jill gets everything she thinks she wants (hint: nothing good).

And then that will be the end of the Extrahumans series.

There are several reasons for this, some about business, some personal. Mainly, though, this is a decision that grew out of the story.

I’d originally planned on five books, but at some point I realized that the plans I’d had for the fifth book were not particularly workable, and not actually about the characters we’ve been following.

Worse, it had nothing to do with Penny. Basically, even though she is the main character in only one of the books, Extrahumans is at it’s very heart the story of Penny Silverwing, her friends, her family, her lovers, and her transformation from who she is at the beginning of BROKEN to who she becomes by the end of WAKING GIFTS. Penny drives the stories and ties them all together, and she’s at the center of the extended “family” of characters. Her arc, after this story, is done.

Extrahumans

This story also completes the arcs of many of the other characters, such as Jill (obviously), Emily, Sky Ranger, and Felipe. It also does provide some answers to some of the big questions that the series has been asking, and wraps up some of the larger, overarching storylines.

So this is a good place to end it. I thought about ending it with THE SPARK, but there were simply too many unanswered questions. I don’t feel that way about this book. This is a good end point.

Now, that doesn’t mean that this will be the last story in this universe, and that this is the last we’ll ever hear of these particular characters. There is so much left to tell! But this particular series will end with book 4, and I’m happy with that.

I am so grateful to all of you who’ve been sticking with this series. I know WAKING GIFTS has been a long time in coming compared to the first three. I hope I can make it worth your while!

So, on to the updates!

THE SEEKER STAR (Grayline Sisters #2) – Hoping to have a cover reveal for you real soon. Plans are that it’ll be out late this year, but I don’t have a date yet.

WAKING GIFTS (Extrahumans #4) – Second draft finished. I’d like to send this to the publisher by the end of the year.

THE FALLEN STAR (Grayline Sisters #3) – First draft done, doing a few edits here and there.

Short stories: WAR STORIES has been sent out to Kickstarter backers! My story “The Radio” is in the first section. It is a very, very cool anthology from Apex which you should check out when it goes on general sale in the fall. I should also have another short story out either late this year or early next year, we’ll see.

Lastly, I’m going to be at Readercon this Friday–if you’re there, say hi!

That’s all for now!

Adam Bellow over at BuzzFeed has released a list of “21 conservative writers to read at the beach.” Bellow, if you haven’t heard, recently called on conservatives to engage in the culture wars by putting out novels. This is a fine and dandy idea, everyone should write novels!

But then there is this list. Oh.

This an introduction to 21 writers you probably have never heard of — and won’t, if the powers that rule the lit-crit, fanfic, and commercial publishing worlds have anything to say about it.

There’s powers-that-be that rule FANFIC? Shit. I had no idea!

Anyway, on to the list. You won’t be shocked at all to find there’s a lot of SFF books in there. Most of them have really bad covers.

The first one, The Holy Land by Robert Zubrin involves “A madcap role-reversed War on Terrorism” (that sounds fun) with Kennewick, Washington playing the role of… Jerusalem? “Something like the subtlety of the Great Wall of China informs this satire on fundamentalism,” says Booklist.

There’s a book by David Frum, because of course there is.

Then there’s Conservative Insurgency, which is all about crushing those filthy liberals with talking, I guess. It sounds more like a screed than a novel, but so was all of Ayn Rand and people still buy those.

There’s a book by Jim Geraghty because… why bother having a column at all if you can’t write weird fiction on the side? (as an aside: check out my column! *coughs uncomfortably*)

Oh, look, Larry Correia is on this list! Yay! What’s it say about him?

Correia has recently been the target of an Emanuel Goldstein-style hate campaign by intolerant leftists in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Conservatives (and those liberals still concerned about protecting speech they disagree with) should buy his books to show their support.

Yay!

John Ringo’s there, too. Great!

And… Tom Kratman, who:

pulls no punches in his literary war against militant Islam and other foes of American freedom.

Well!

“Literary den mother” Sarah Hoyt’s here, too. I’d yay but I am suddenly too tired for yay.

Whew. This is quite the list. Anyway. There’s been way better articles written by far more clever people than I about Hoyt, Correria, et. al. and the long, running battles within SFF and SFWA about 1) not being so sexist/racist etc. and 2) LIBERALS TAKING FREEDOMS AWAY OH NOES SATAN OBAMA DEATH STAR HITLER, so I won’t get into that.

What is interesting to me is just how much of this is SFF… and how much of it is bad SFF.

Also those covers. Whoa.

"Put the title in... make that image a little blurrier... perfect."

“Put the title in… make that image a little blurrier… perfect.”

Okay. Let’s be serious. There are two schools of American conservative thought online: one is all about ideas and thoughtful analysis of policy. The other is about wallowing in some of the worst impulses of the American right and trolling liberals. Guess which this list is?

I like some politics in my SFF. Like I said before, politics is at the heart of genre. But when your politics overwhelm your story to the extent that you get on an Adam Bellow list, that may be a sign of something.

summer-tour

Hey everyone!

Gonna be doing two readings with the Topside Press summer tour this coming weekend. One’s in Providence, RI on Saturday, June 7 at 7pm at the Carpenter Street Gallery, 186 Carpenter St. This is the reading I had to miss out on in February because of a MASSIVE SNOWSTORM, which sucked for sure.

The second reading is me coming home! The tour swings into Hartford’s Real Art Ways on Sunday, June 8th, at 3pm, so definitely come hang out.

Yeah, it’s another story day! They come fast and furious around here.

This one is not so much about deep, personal things so much as its about what you do when you have dickish spirits inhabiting the eggs you just bought at the store.

The Possessed Egg Predicament one of a bunch of stories about Stacy and Jazz, so lemme know if you want to see more of them. Because there is more of them.

I’ve got a new short story up at Strange Horizons today!

And thus endeth the long, no-fiction-being-published drought. Whew.

Some notes on the story, if you’re interested in that sort of thing: It came from a dream that wouldn’t leave me alone. Basically, it’s the first dream Sarah has, with a few changes. I’ve written a couple things dealing with my own (rather voluntary) infertility; this is one, the forthcoming book SEEKER STAR is the second.

The setting is similar to my old hometown. I don’t usually do that; but this story wanted to be close to home.

Yeah, it’s focused on trans stuff. Again, this story landed so near that I can see the impact crater from where I sit.

I wrote the first draft of this story in less than 12 hours. I’ve found that the good ones are like that; they won’t let me sleep till I finish them! I was thrilled when Strange Horizons accepted it (after a rewrite).

I’ve actually got quite a bit of short fiction coming out. At least one more during the summer, probably two. Then another late in the year, or early in 2015. Take that, novels!

The Table of Contents for the forthcoming WAR STORIES anthology from Apex is out! This means the book’s getting closer to publication, which is totally exciting. Mine’s the third story, in the “Systems” section.

I like the way the sections are broken down into “Systems,” “Combat,” “Armored,” and “Aftermath.” I’m especially looking forward to that last section.

This is going to be a fun anthology, I hope everyone checks it out when it’s released!

Okay, I’ll start off by saying I don’t watch “Game of Thrones.”

I tried to read the books, but ran out of resolve somewhere in the first one, and never came back.

And for most things, I’d just leave it there. I don’t watch, I don’t read, that’s my choice. Fine.

But GoT is one of those things that’s really hard to ignore, if you’re a fan of fantasy. It’s pretty much the biggest thing going right now. Loads of people watch the show and talk about it. I largely tune those conversations out, much as I tune out conversations about basketball or Eurovision. Not my fandom. Most of my experience with the show is making fun of people melting down on Twitter about the Red Wedding.

(This is actually how I determine Twitter meltdowns now: how many Red Weddings is it? So far only the finale of Breaking Bad has even come close.)

So that’s my interaction with GoT, and I’m usually happy to leave it there. But every once in a while something will pop up that gives me the twitch. Like, for instance, this from George R. R. Martin:

But Martin told the New York Times that although his books are epic fantasy, they are based on history (the series is loosely inspired by the Wars of the Roses). And “rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day”.

“To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves.

Hrk.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time deconstructing this. Others are doing a better job of that elsewhere. The only thing I’ll say is that obviously using “history” as an excuse for perpetrating sexual violence on women is pretty crap; the Middle Ages were no more full of wanton rape and sexual assault as our own day. And in a series where summer mysteriously lingers for decades and there are literal dragons, “history” only applies to women having horrible sexual things happen to them? I see, I see.

Someone asked me today what possible stake I could have in pointing this out, though. After all, I don’t watch. I don’t care. All the Lannisters and Starks (HOW DO I KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT THESE PEOPLE????) can fall into a very large pit and I’ll be fine. So why criticize?

After all, isn’t this a conversation that fans should be having? Where’s my place in it?

I don’t know. I’m not just trying to defend my own right to complain about things, though I do like doing that. For sure! But I think what GoT is doing is doubling down on some very toxic trends I see a lot of in fantasy, like the trope of “history” being used as a cover for graphic and gratuitous sexual violence against women and women mostly existing to provoke the men of the story into feeling or doing something, and that’s the sort of thing I think needs to be pushed back against whenever possible.

When a piece of pop culture gets so big that I can just rattle off “Winter is Coming” riffs without even thinking about it, without having watched a single episode or gotten to the end of a single tome book, and I can point to a fairly vast compendium of online reviews, criticism, and conversation that I’ve been reading and following for years, and I can’t walk into the SFF half-aisle in Barnes & Noble without seeing George R. R. Martin’s name everywhere, then maybe I have a tiny little toehold of a stake in this. Maybe as a member of SFF fandom in general I have a somewhat bigger stake, especially because I want to see us get away such a strong focus on sprawling faux-medieval melodramas where white men whack each other with swords.

So maybe the suggestion that not fully engaging with a piece of culture means there’s no right to criticize it isn’t entirely accurate. And maybe there’s some value in criticisms coming from many places, including from those who for all kinds of good reasons don’t want to watch/read.

Susan Jane Bigelow’s Extrahuman Union

Hey! Welcome to the Extrahuman Union, home of Susan Jane Bigelow. Prepare to be stripped of all meaningful identity. While you're processing, check out more about me on the about page!

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THE DAUGHTER STAR

Grayline Sisters #1: out now!

THE SPARK

Out now! Extrahumans #3

FLY INTO FIRE

Extrahumans #2

BROKEN

Extrahumans #1

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Follow @whateversusan on Twitter!

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SHELLEY AND MIRA IN THE LAND OF THE SHINING SUN

Seven short stories from Susan Jane Bigelow, including the title story, "Shelley and Mira in the Land of the Shining Sun"

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