SFX and Asimov's on Zinio

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I should say from the outset that this is a bit of an advert, because Zinio Digital Magazines became aware of me subscribing to Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine through their service, and gave me a free SFX subscription in return for another blog featuring them. Having said that, I'm hardly swayed by their blandishments, because I was already a satisfied customer, so the following praise is only altered by the fact that I've given over a blog entry to it, not increased by way of the freebie.

I first checked out Zinio when I first got an iPad, wanting all digital magazine subscriptions to be like Wired's excellent service (Kindle frustratingly reserving their subscription services for people who own Kindles), and back then found them far too expensive. But, on checking again when Asimov's took up with them, I found that they'd dropped prices across the board. A ten-issue (that's one year) Asimov's subscription for instance, will cost you £18.60, or £1.86 an issue, way lower than the UK import price. I won't, for a third time, go into how worth it I think that would be for what is the home of the best SF short fiction right now, but I will add that, unlike the news stand version (I believe, having only seen the one physical edition two months ago) Zinio's digital Asimov's has its photos, headings and adverts in colour. Also, that annoying glitch where the description of the story, leading to the title, appeared under the title has been sorted. All in all, Zinio has trumped Fictionwise in making the Asimov's reading experience a lot better, and their buying and display set up is much easier too. It feels like the business of reading digital magazines has moved, thanks to them, from being a specialist hobby where a degree of patience and aplomb is needed, to being something a general reader can do without having to work too hard. All in all, Zinio have answered my earlier digital mag complaint blog almost point by point.

When it comes to SFX Magazine, that's £23.33 for thirteen issues, and it looks very handsome indeed on the iPad, though some degree of zooming in is needed for the tiniest text (mostly their jokes hidden in the indices). There's a scary sign on one display page I saw saying that the digital version doesn't contain all the content of the physical mag, but I've learned that just means (and you wonder why this needed saying) that if there's a cover mount of something on the front of the magazine, that object won't somehow be translated into virtual reality through your iPad. (Posters and other scannable items, I'm told, do at least sometimes come along as PDFs.)

Fortean Times is £29.99 for twelve issues, and a lot of their one off booklets are available too. FT is the only magazine I keep physical copies of, having, at least in some form, every issue, so this is the one mag I won't be taking Zinio up on. Considering FT's own subscription service is something I've never risked because of their publisher's 'privacy policy' (which involves you having to write to them to ask please not to be spammed), this might make a smashing alternative.

Anyway, that's been my advertising blog. Zinio: well done there. I approved of this message. Cheerio!

SDCC, Squee, the Horsewoman and the Vatican Observatory, Whee!

Hello. Yes. Finally back at my desk, tired but happy, after the joyous alternate existence that is San Diego Comic Con. I felt very much at home this year, in tune with this board game version of my work life that stretches from the Hilton to the Hyatt to the CBR Yacht to the parties in the Gaslamp District. (Heavy carpet in the hall, miss a turn.) It was great to hang out with three of the gangs I'm part of: Lou Anders' SF mob; my fellow creators of DC Comics' 'New 52' and the Wild Cards gang led by George R.R. Martin. It was great to run into and randomly drink with the Oni Press guys, Dave Gibbons, Javier Grillo-Marxuach (who showed me his Anthony Ainley cosplay photos), Jonathan Hickman, Bill Willingham and many others. In terms of panels, I was proud to be part of the 24th annual Gays in Comics Panel, chiefly talking about Apollo and the Midnighter in Stormwatch (I ought to get a t-shirt saying 'yes, they're still gay'). That was an entertaining time mainly thanks to the witty Chip Kidd (no, you can't date Faceoff from Knight and Squire, he's fictional) and the affable Robert Kirkman. The Wild Cards team took the stage in an enormous hall where most people were waiting for the Castle panel, but this being George Martin, and our current book being a police procedural, he proceeded to sell it to loads of them. I've seen the two DC panels I was on described online as being 'tense stand offs', but that wasn't the feeling in the room at all: we writers of the September relaunch felt we got an initially sceptical crowd hugely onside. There aren't, after all, many 'tense stand offs' in which people get up to offer the other side little gifts. I came away from the weekend feeling much closer to my comrades on the line, talented people like Scott Snyder, Josh Fialkov and Eric Wallace. The chance, on the Edge/Dark Panel for us all to pitch our titles to the audience made us all feel very passionate about September, I think. You can hear both my panels as podcasts: The New 52 and The Dark and the Edge, and there's a list of all the DC/SDCC podcast and picture goodness here. (The audience is picked up on audio a lot less than the panel, so please, let me assure you, there was loads of applause, really!) I missed everyone famous at the Time Warner party, in order to go out on the town with my editors, and I feel I got the best end of that deal. I went to a publishing party where there was a mechanical bull. There were actual ticket touts on the street corners, pedicabs with Game of Thrones seats, posters that took up whole skyscrapers. I had a huge and wonderful time. Every geek should go at least once and see how much we've won, and how much the world changes when there are thousands of us in a town. And, to put the cherry on the cake, when Karen Gillan, on the Doctor Who panel, was asked what writer she'd like to see on the show, well, modesty doesn't quite forbid.

A character who's appearing in Demon Knights who I'm particularly proud of is The Horsewoman. She can ride, but she can't walk, she communes with horses, and she's the greatest archer of all time. You can see some character designs, read my write up, and get a taste of her in action here.

Now I'm back, there are loads of announcements to make. Action Comics #903, the penultimate issue of my run, is out now, and you can see a three page preview and the alternate cover here.

The SF Squeecast (me, Seanan McQuire, Kat Valente, Liz Bear and Lynn Thomas) has released its second episode, where we squee about John Wyndham, Phineas and Ferb and David Bowie, amongst others. Or you can find us on iTunes. Please leave a comment at the site, we welcome your replies. We have some very special guests coming up in future episodes. And if you're on Facebook, we have a fan page.

On November 23rd (a meaningful date) I'll be interviewing Stephen Baxter at the BSFA Open Night in London. Entry free, you can just show up for a pint and an evening of SF chat.

On September 30th I'll be talking at Bad Writing ('you were the first person we asked!' they said), an academic symposium at King's College, London, about the value of genre fiction. That 'bad' is very much in inverted commas.

And finally, my schedule for Renovation, this year's Worldcon in Reno, has been settled on, and it's a great one. Here it is in full, with my excited comments:

Wed 13:00 - 14:00, Tourists: Creating Characters and Stories in an Existing World (Panel), A01+6 (RSCC) 'Writers discuss working within the confines of an already existing world. They'll discuss how they create something unique and original within the space of something already established and loved.' Paul Cornell (M), Melinda M. Snodgrass, Brandon Sanderson, A. C. Crispin, Dean Wesley Smith (Hmm, I'm moderating that. But something I'm very interested in.)

Wed 17:00 - 18:00, Ask Doctor Genius (Game Show), A03 (RSCC)'The panelists provide authoritative answers to audience questions.'
David D. Levine (M), Paul Cornell , Sam Scheiner. (No idea what the game is, but always glad to play one.)

Thu 12:00 - 13:00, Autographs: Hall 2

Thu 14:00 - 15:00, Reading: Paul Cornell (A09.) (I might read some of the new novel, and some Hamilton. I've got a fifty minute slot to fill!)

Thu 17:00 - 18:00, Literary Beer: Thu 17:00 Hall 2 Bar (RSCC)Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire (my idea of a good time. At 5pm!)

Thu 19:00 - 20:00, Many Ways to Tell a Story: Narrative and the Visual Arts (Panel), C4(RSCC). 'There are many ways to tell a story: books, comics, TV, movies, and more. How are books different from graphic novels and movies? What makes a good graphic story? How is the storytelling the same among the different media? Paul Cornell (M), Bill Willingham, George R.R.Martin (Bloody hell, me, Bill and George? I'll just ask the questions and try not to hyperventilate.)

Fri 12:00 - 13:00, Life, the Universe and Everything: A Dialog about Science, Science Fiction, and Religion (Dialog), A01+6 (RSCC) 'A dialog about everything, and we do mean everything!' Paul Cornell , Guy Consolmagno. (This is me interviewing the planetary scientist from the Vatican Observatory who's popularly known as the 'Vatican Astronomer'. I will have to do my homework, and I can't wait.)

Fri 13:00 - 14:00, Cradle to Grave: The Art of Creating a Comic(Panel), A01+6 (RSCC). 'Graphic stories are often collaborative in nature, requiring an intense collaboration between writers and artists. The panel looks at the life cycle of a comic from idea through publication.'
Bill Willingham, Paul Cornell, Winona Nelson. (An excellent idea for a comics panel.)

Fri 20:00 - 00:00, Masquerade (Event), Tuscany Ballroom (Peppermill)(I'll be running Just A Minute with our usual celebrity contestants as the half time entertainment. Will John Scalzi retain his Worldcon title?)

Sat 09:00 - 10:00, Stroll with the Stars - Saturday (Activity), Stroll Meeting Spot (OFFSITE). 'A gentle, friendly 1 mile stroll with some of your favorite authors, artists and editors.' Stu Segal (M), James Patrick Kelly, Bill Willingham,Lou Anders,Paul Cornell, Lev Grossman,Farah Mendlesohn, John Picacio. (What good company. As always, I'll try and say hello to everyone.)

Sat 11:00 - 12:00, Generation Gap? Is the Conversation in Written SF Fractured by Cohort? (Panel), A09 (RSCC) 'Elizabeth Bear noted there are different conversations amonst the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, and Generation X. How differentiated (or segregated) are the different generations editors and writers conversations? Is the on-going conversation between SF writers, the playing with each other's ideas restricted to writers of a roughly similar age?' Liz Gorinsky (M), Robert Silverberg, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Paul Cornell , Ginjer Buchanan (I'm on a panel with Robert Silverberg! I hope I'm not 'the young guy', I really do.)

Sun 10:00 - 11:00, The Superior Form: How Short Fiction Remains the Cutting Edge (Panel), A05 (RSCC). 'Novels may get more attention, but short fiction has many advantages, and much of the best fiction, both inside and outside of the genre has been short. The panel looks at some of the best short fiction of recent years.' David G. Hartwell (M), James Patrick Kelly, Paul Cornell,Jack Skillingstead. (I think I'll be just about able to keep up and make some recommendations.)

Sun 12:00 - 13:00, Wild Cards (Panel), A01+6 (RSCC)George R.R. Martin (M),Carrie Vaughn, Melinda M.Snodgrass, Ian Tregillis, Paul Cornell, Kevin A. Murphy, Daniel Abraham, David D. Levine, Walter Jon Williams, Ty Franck. (It's us again!)

I'm well pleased with that. Anyhow, until next time, and phew, I hope there's less to get through, Cheerio!

Covers for Stormwatch #2 and Demon Knights #2

Aren't they beautiful? The first is by Miguel Sepulveda, our series artist, the second by Tony Daniel. There's one person missing from the Stormwatch cover, and that's our whole team on the Demon Knights one. I'm so pleased to be writing these two titles! Cheerio!

My San Diego Schedule (Updated!)

I've just got back from a brilliant, exhausting weekend at the seventh Faringdon Arts Festival, which was all about luxuriating in my former hometown and enjoying the talent it nurtures, notably the r'n'b orchestra that my wife used to be in, Boogie Me, who played out the Festival to much applause and dancing from a packed market place. I also popped up to see the first ball bowled at the new cricket ground, which is going to be officially opened by Sir Viv Richards (!) in September. It's a good feeling for me that I helped start a Festival which is now continuing healthily under new management, its roots having been forgotten, it having become just one of those things that seem to happen every year, and will probably soon get called, in the way the British have, 'ancient'.

Anyhow, now I'm back at my desk, hungover, sunburnt and a bit achy, it's time to confirm what I'm doing at the San Diego Comic Con this year. (Well, what I'll be doing that the public can come and see. My dance card is already getting full with meetings, meals and parties.)

On Thursday, 21st July, at 11am, I'll be signing at the DC Booth (#1915).

Then at 2pm, I'll be on the New 52 panel with my bosses, Dan DiDio, Bob Harras and Eddie Berganza, and doubtless many other creators, in Room 6DE.

On Friday, 22nd July, at 11am, I'll again be signing at the DC Booth.

On Saturday, 23rd July, at 11am, I'll be signing at the SFX Magazine booth (#1502).

Then at 12.45pm, I'll be on DC: The Dark and The Edge in Room 6DE, which covers Stormwatch and Demon Knights, hosted by the editor of the former, Pat McCallum, and with luminaries such as Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire and Josh Fialkov also present.

At 3pm, I'll again be signing at the DC Booth.

Then, at 5.30 pm, I'll be on the 24th Annual Gays in Comics panel in Room 6A, run by founding moderator Andy Mangels, with Robert Kirkman, Greg Pak and many others along for the ride, including a video appearance by J.H.Williams III. I'll also do my best to hang around for the Mixer afterwards, depending on what else requires me to be elsewhere, and I'll be providing something for the charity auction.

On Sunday, 24th July, I'll be on the Wild Cards panel in Room 6 BCF, with George R.R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, Carrie Vaughan, David Anthony Durham and many more of my fellow Wild Cards writers.

And that's it! Well, so far, anyway. Until next time, Cheerio!

The SF Squeecast and The Sensible Folly

Last Saturday, Caroline got ordained (and last Sunday, she baptised her first baby), and we've now moved into our new house. So, in very different circumstances, I'm now back online and able to blog. We're on the tube map now, and London is only half an hour away, which is going to make a big difference. We went to see the British Library's Out Of This World exhibition yesterday, for instance. That's a luxurious wallow in the canon, with many original works on display (a lot of them from John Clute's library) and a contextualisation that sees many more women included in the history of SF (I think the British Library have brought some of their own skills to bear). There were two junior schools parties in, and I overheard one of them being told '... and these books ask "what if Hitler had won the war?"' There were audible gasps of amazement, the sound of SF hitting the brain. It's a magnificent tribute to our genre, properly including all the titles which we often regard as on the edge of our interests, but which are actually our finest moments. And the program of events associated with it also makes me proud. If you have any interest in the fantastic: go.

In my own world, many things have happened. Let's start with two of great import. Firstly, the SF Squeecast has begun! Here's the press release, which says it better than I can:

'DeKalb, IL- Science Fiction and Fantasy professionals Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, and Catherynne M. Valente will be premiering a new monthly podcast called the SF Squeecast on June 30, 2011. In every SF Squeecast episode, our contributors (and occasional guests) will each bring SF works that make them happy -- both new discoveries and old favorites -- for group discussion. Other elements in the podcast include an irreverent question and answer segment and the occasional topical discussion over a virtual cup of tea. The SF Squeecast combines humor, passion, and professional experience in the SF field into a never-ending convention panel discussion of “don’t miss this” science fiction and fantasy works in all formats. Our regular contributors include two-time Hugo Award-winning and Theodore Sturgeon Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear (The Jenny Casey Trilogy, The Jacob’s Ladder Trilogy), Hugo-nominated New York Times Bestselling television, comic book, and prose writer Paul Cornell (Doctor Who- “Human Nature,” Action Comics), Campbell Award-winning, Hugo-nominated New York Times Bestselling author and musician Seanan McGuire (October Daye series, Feed as Mira Grant), Hugo-nominated editor and curator Lynne M. Thomas (Chicks Dig Time Lords, Whedonistas), and Hugo-nominated, Tiptree and Andre Norton Award-winning New York Times Bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente (Palimpsest, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making). For more information about the SF Squeecast, please visit http://sfsqueecast.com or email us at sfsqueecast@gmail.com.'

Phew, I always feel exhausted at the end of those promotional pieces. In short, the five of us do show and tell for SF, bringing our favourite things to rave about every month, sometimes with guests. Either go here to listen to our latest monthly episode, or you can find us on iTunes. You can also follow our adventures on Facebook here or on Twitter here.

Secondly, this evening I'll be making my way to the Faringdon Arts Festival (this being the Oxfordshire Faringdon, inbetween Oxford and Swindon on the A420) to catch up with my friends there and see loads of good bands. During the weekend's festivities, at noon on both Saturday and Sunday, I'll be signing, in the Portwell Bar on the Market Place, my rarest publication...
The Sensible Folly is a short story in booklet form, which will only be available from Faringdon Tourist Information Centre, the Folly Tower when it's open (it's one of Britain's great follies, on a little hill beside the town) and the White Horse Bookshop in the town. It'll cost £2.50, and all proceeds will go to the upkeep of the Folly. The story itself is a fable from the Folly's point of view. I don't intend to have it reprinted anywhere. So if one day you find yourself in Oxfordshire, go and enjoy wonderful Faringdon, and maybe you'll be able to lay your hands on a copy. Just doing my small bit for the town I love.

UPDATE: Faringdon have decided that the booklet will also be available for purchase online, at £3 including p&p, from here. You can pay using PayPal or cheque.

I'll be blogging my SDCC schedule next week (because there are a couple of things I can't announce yet). It looks like it's going to be the usual raucous, wonderful time. As you can see from the conventions list opposite, I'm going to be signing the first issues of Demon Knights and Stormwatch in Ealing on 18th September. I'm also planning some sort of online chat on the evening of release of every issue, more details later.

Anyway, I have to go and unpack some more boxes. Until next time, Cheerio!