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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Scott's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, January 1st, 2020
6:22 am
Hark, unto you an online journal is born.

I do not automatically delete anonymous posts. In fact, I don't even automatically delete critical anonymous posts. But I certainly will automatically delete any cowardly, weak-sauce personal attack posted anonymously. If you're not going to attach an identity to your statements to back them up in some fashion, you might as well not even bother being a dick- your worthless scrawl is just going to vanish.

Otherwise, enjoy.
Monday, January 6th, 2014
12:53 am
Help Wanted: Author’s Accomplice

The general response to The Republic of Thieves, from the very first mid-March announcement that we had a solid publication date, has been fantastic and heartwarming. It has also brought some serious complications into my life… but these, as they say, are the sort of problems one wants to have.

In the last nine months, the amount of e-mail hitting my inbox had quadrupled. The number of books I receive, sign, and repackage for my readers has tripled. My travel schedule has grown more complicated. The number of invitations, queries, charity requests, etc. I receive in any medium has gone up substantially. I refer to this process, overall, as “the Great Acceleration.” On a daily basis, I could now easily spend eight hours just sorting and answering e-mail, and while office administration is an important part of my career, I’ve got to claw back as much time as possible for the part that really matters… writing the damn books and stories.

I have embraced a relatively accessible lifestyle as an author; the vast majority of my readers are amazing people and I don’t want to stop communicating with them via e-mail, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. I also don’t want to stop signing books through the mail or personally appearing at stores, conventions, and workshops. In order to preserve all of these treasured things while guarding my writing hours most efficiently, and to prevent important obligations from falling through the cracks, I need help.

I am seeking applications from anyone interested in becoming my part-time personal assistant (PA).

Please read all of the following very carefully! The first notion I’m going to have of your suitability for the position, after all, is how well you absorb this:

• This position requires physical work in the city of New Richmond, in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Check the city out on Google Maps if you’re not familiar with it; it’s east of Stillwater and northeast of Hudson. Travel time to or from the eastern Twin Cities is about an hour, sometimes less.

• Transportation is required. Even if by happy chance you won’t need to commute, you will still have regular duties requiring visits to the post office as well as occasional visits to copy centers, office supply stores, and so forth. You will also frequently have packages in your care.

• You must have a valid driver’s license.

• You must be able to pack, unpack, and lift packages of moderate weight (up to 30 pounds, let’s say).

• You will need a home computer, cel phone, internet access, etc. to handle some duties remotely.

• You will require basic familiarity and general competence with Microsoft Word, one or more plain text editors, basic spreadsheets, e-mail and Skype.

• This position will initially involve 10-15 hours per week. Hours will be extremely flexible and negotiable. You will never be expected to work on holidays, important birthdays, etc. As time goes by, more hours may become available. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

• Initial compensation will start at $15 per hour with a merit evaluation and potential raise every six months after hiring.

• The ideal applicant will have solid communication skills and the ability to engage in professional social interface. To put it bluntly, I am a clinical depressive with anxiety issues and your job might occasionally involve picking up the communications slack when I am having personal difficulties. I will need you to be able to make phone calls and send e-mails without hesitation even when I am unable to do so myself. You will, at times, be my public face and my point of public contact. Your job will involve compensating for my potential dysfunction, so it’s not going to work if we’re both in the same boat.

• Preference will be given to applicants with knowledge of science fiction, fantasy, gaming, and related fields. You will be interacting with other authors, with publishers, with fans and readers, and with the organizers of fan-run conventions; I’m not keen to have my professional life in the hands of someone for whom this is all just the equivalent of shuffling widgets. Real enthusiasm is a plus.

• INITIAL DUTIES will include
– Collecting mail from a PO Box, as well as returning it, 1-2 times per week.
– Unpacking and re-packaging books sent to me for personalization
– Organizing/cataloging books and documents in my library and archives
– Performing small miscellaneous errands in New Richmond
– Carrying out research at my request (both online and physical)
– Serving as initial e-mail contact for charity, interview, and appearance requests
– Assisting with travel arrangements, liaison with publishing contacts
– General oversight of my calendar and professional communications
• EVENTUAL DUTIES may include
– Personal assistance at conventions and other appearances
– Fulfillment of book and merchandise orders from a web store

You will not be handling my personal finances, taxes, etc.

If you are interested in applying for this position, please send me (scott@scottlynch.us) an e-mail with a general introduction to yourself and your relevant skills and work experience. If you have a prepared resume, feel free to shoot it along as well, but the absence of one will not be a mark against you.

I hope to commence interviewing in February, with an ideal hiring date of sometime in March.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Sunday, January 5th, 2014
7:04 pm
2014 Appearance Schedule. Facebook Page.

Here’s where I’ll probably be in 2014. This list is incomplete and tentative. I do not presently have information on where I might be signing or doing book touring, if any. Another convention or two are in contemplation but the decisions won’t be made for a few months.

Boston, MA | February 14-16
Cambridge, MA | March 21-23
Minneapolis, MN | April 17-20
Indiana | May 2-4
Oshkosh, WI | May 9-10
Minneapolis, MN | June 20-22
Minneapolis, MN | July 3-6
Jyvaskla, Finland | July 11-13
London, UK | August 8-10
London, UK | August 14-18
New York City | October 10-13
Cedar Rapids, IA | October 31-November 2
Illinois | Some time in November

Also, I have at last set up a proper author Facebook page, which can be found at:


Please give it a like if you’re interested in following my wacky shenanigans across the social media interwebz tubes.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Monday, October 28th, 2013
3:32 am
World Fantasy Convention 2013

From Thursday, October 31st to Sunday, November 3rd I will be attending the 2013 World Fantasy Convention in Brighton.

There has been a lot of noise lately about the con, and I have to say that I’m neither pleased nor impressed with certain aspects of it. I’m confident the vast majority of the people running it are quietly excelling, in the usual fannish fashion, at pulling off complex, thankless tasks for no real compensation. Whoever has been responsible for the tone of the convention’s PR materials, however, has tarred the hard work and good faith of everyone else involved. As Patrick Nielsen Hayden says (and I heartily concur): “I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a con whose communications were more hectoring, reproving, and admonitory.”

This bafflingly unfriendly tone has limned the con’s less sensible decisions with an aura of apparent malice, while complicating the acceptance of policies that should have been routine and uncontroversial (and doubtless would have been if they had simply been presented with less of a sneer). I readily understand the desire to be firm and clear in the presentation of convention policies, but the gap between clarity and tactless disdain is a pretty wide and well-lit space. Or so you’d think.

I have already publicly and privately expressed my distaste with the handling of the Kaffeeklatsch situation. All other considerations aside, what rankles most in the end is that ‘klatsching, which is a decades-old standard practice at fan-run conventions across the world, has been touted as some sort of bold new experiment allowing the great unwashed a rare chance to breathe the same air as the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. To which I say many impolite things… the point of Kaffeeklatsch culture is that it’s a chance to sit down and chat with someone in a relaxed, informal, and human fashion, not to be shocked and awed by design.

Far more serious than that excess of hyperbole is the con’s sluggish attitude toward accessibility issues; only in the very latest WFC Progress Report was the world treated to the admission that oh, by the way, the registration area was not actually wheelchair-accessible. Sweet Jesus in an interstellar battleship. I sincerely hope the con’s announced work-around of having a staff member specially in place to handle the paperwork for those that can’t make it into the room is a robust solution; it does however beg the question of whether this is a sensible allotment of staffing for a con that previously made such a big deal about being unable to eyeball the freaking sign-up lists for the Kaffeeklatsches.

Last and not least is the very real sense* that the con has responded to complaints with a pervasive habit of a) first ignoring them as long as possible before b) proclaiming that few, if any, corroborating complaints have been received. It’s almost as though whoever is responsible for this (and look, I honestly don’t know who to blame) keeps failing to realize that attendees are perfectly capable of comparing notes and communications among themselves and spotting the inconsistencies. This dovetails pretty neatly with the overall PR approach, which seems predicated on the presumption that attendees are something less than adults.

That said… I support the idea of WFC in general, even if it’s a con that has not one but several lingering identity crises it ought to eventually try to shake out. I’m doing my best to be a good con citizen by sitting on a panel (my first ever at a WFC) and performing a reading. I’ll be at the awards banquet, too. The heart and soul of any WFC is the fact that hundreds of really cool, personable folks, pro and fan alike, descend on the site and make the best of it regardless of circumstances. It’s important for my publishers and quite a few of my readers that I be in Brighton, so I’m going to be in Brighton, and I’m going to do my damnedest to make the shindig as cool as I can for those around me.

So, here’s my appearance schedule:

FRIDAY, 8 PM: Mass Signing

I will be at the mass signing starting at 8 PM and will make an effort to stay until at least 9:30. Please don’t be shy if you have stuff you want me to sign and don’t be put off by the tone of the con’s PR. I don’t bite. Often.

SATURDAY, 11:30 AM: Reading (Hall 8B)

I will be reading a great and secret something, possibly from THE THORN OF EMBERLAIN.


I will be hanging out at Red Roaster, 1d St. James’ Street, just over three-fourths of a mile from the con hotel, just off the Old Steine and opposite the Royal Pavilion. This is an off-site non-convention event for all Gentlemen Bastards appreciators. I’m not actually taking over the coffee shop or anything, just plunking myself down to chill with anyone who wants to drop by. I’ll chat, sketch stupid cartoons, and sign things. Coffee is on me unless an overwhelming number of people show up. Look for the big goofy-looking American with long blond hair.

SATURDAY, 5 PM: Elvish Has Left the Building (Oxford)

My panel! “Is traditional fantasy finally over? After all these years, could it be in danger of running out of imagination and becoming simply a parody of itself, or will there always be ways of re-inventing the genre for a new generation?” Naturally, I have some opinions…

PANELISTS: Joe Abercrombie, Trudi Canavan, Scott Lynch, Stan Nicholls (mod.), Adrian Stone, Tad Williams.

I will also be in the audience for Elizabeth Bear’s panel at 5 PM on Friday and I encourage you to do likewise.


*This isn’t just loose hearsay. For the record, I believe the accounts of Kameron Hurley, Mari Ness, Farah Mendlesohn, and Amal El-Mohtar, and those are just the ones that I’ve seen in public.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Thursday, October 10th, 2013
4:59 am
The Right Way to Buy My Books is Your Way

I have received a number of Tweets and e-mails asking a very flattering question, namely: What version(s) of my books should someone buy if they wanted to maximize my royalty on that sale?

I appreciate this. I really, really appreciate this. It’s a kind and generous impulse and I want you to know it means a lot to me.


Please don’t ever buy one of my books in a format you think will send me a maximal percentage of money. Please buy the format that is most desirable or convenient to you. Buy the format that will enable you to have the most enjoyable reading experience. After all, if I encourage you to buy an inconvenient or uncomfortable format for my own sake, I’m basically telling you to endure unnecessary bullshit for the sake of a few extra pennies or dimes in my pocket. I can’t stand that… no sane writer wants to achieve financial success by scraping it painfully out of their readers, one person at a time.

As I see it, I make my money in the aggregate. It’s why we’ve been doing these “get an e-book of The Lies of Locke Lamora for 99 cents/pence” promotions recently. I earned a respectable advance for a first-time novel on Lies, and it earned out before it was even published. Lies has been delivering regular royalties for seven years now. It’s sold about 300,000 copies in the US and UK/Commonwealth, and I don’t have up-to-date figures for the rest of the world. So… it’s done its job! It’s made its money! Everything since and henceforth is gravy… now the game, as I see it, is about trying to attract new readers and make them comfortable, not gouging them for every last possible penny.


Buy my work in the format that works best for you. The format that will be least distracting. Buy it with yourself in mind, not me. I assure you I’ll be okay. The easier and more comfortable your reading experience is, the more okay I’ll be!


If you are truly interested in seeing the Gentleman Bastard sequence kick in all the doors it can, and in rewarding my editors for their long-suffering patience and hard work, and in tickling the folks holding the purse strings at the various publishing HQs so they’ll cry “More! More Bastards! More Bastards for everybody!”… well, there is a thing you can do, if it’s all the same to you.

Buy a physical copy of The Republic of Thieves. Buy it soon.

There are these lists, you see. Amazon bestseller… NYT bestseller… Locus bestseller… Sunday Times… and so forth. Some of them are silly and archaic and incomplete and maddening, but some of them are worth the trouble to claw one’s way onto. And the more books are sold, and the sooner, and (sadly, for now) the more physical copies are moved… the greater the chance I have of finally nudging my way into the bottom rungs of some of those lists. And that will mean good things, if you want to see more books, and if you want to see them given decent marketing budgets, and pleasant quantities of Advance Reader Copies.

So if you have a mind to do something generous for me and my brain-droppings, don’t aim for getting me a few extra cents. Aim to bump these books up in the numbers game. Like I said, it’s silly. It’s an incomplete portrait of the bookselling market. It’s not something I would pursue for its own sake. But it can’t hurt the future of Locke and Jean one tiny bit. It can only help.

The Republic of Thieves is now available on store shelves (and in e-format) in the United States and the UK/Commonwealth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who’ve waited for this day, and to all who’ve pre-ordered or already purchased it. May the book deliver something you’re hoping for.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
5:36 pm
New York Comic Con

I will be appearing at the NYCC for one day (and one day only!), this Friday, October 11th.

Here are my public events, taken straight from my itinerary:

PANEL – The Wheel of Time Turns… and Epic Fantasy remains epic!
Time: 11:00am-12:00noon
Room 1A17

SIGNING (with Epic Fantasy panelists)
Time: 12:15-1:15pm
Autographing Table 21

Time: 3:00-4:00pm
Random House booth #2205

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Monday, September 30th, 2013
11:26 am
Hey, did anyone know there’s this book coming out next week?

The Republic of Thieves-ocalypse is nigh, and just one thin week (gulp!) separates the book from retailers’ shelves. I would characterize early reviews and reactions as gratifyingly and overwhelmingly positive. For your edification, I’ve rounded up the ones that have been called to my attention, including one or two that are not overwhelmingly positive, and listed them below:

SFX is extremely kind, granting it 5 out of 5 stars.

Over the Effing Rainbow recommends murdering all who stand between you and a copy of this book.

Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist is not pleased.

Little Red Reviewer is enthusiastic about nearly everything, with one quibble.

Alex Shepherd at Fantasy Faction calls it “…an excellent addition to a stimulating series.”

Neth Space feels the love.

Fixed on Fantasy finds much to appreciate but also has strong reservations.

Shorty Monster declares it “very much worth the wait.”

SFF Book Reviews has reservations, but gives it 8 out of 10.

Nerds of a Feather also gives it 8/10.

SFFWorld believes the novel could have used some trimming here and there but is otherwise quite successful.

Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, pronounces it “fast paced, fun, and impossible to put down.”

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013
4:28 pm
World Fantasy Convention: Some Words on the Kaffeeklatsch Situation

This year’s World Fantasy Convention, which I will be attending, has just announced its policy of charging an additional five-pound fee to attendees of its Kaffeeklatsches. A few notes:

1. I, like several authors of my acquaintance, had previously and privately declined to participate in this Kaffeeklatsch track, for all the reasons John Scalzi talks about here. I don’t come from a con-going tradition of charging added fees for these things; as many convention veterans have pointed out on Twitter, it is usually the business of cons to plan for this sort of fairly routine programming item in their budgets rather than tacking on fees after the fact. The fact that WFC has such relatively expensive memberships in the first place made the added charge seem all the more strange and uncomfortable. In short, I agree with all of Scalzi’s points and I have commented on his Whatever post.

1a. The con folks I have spoken to about this in private have not been evil or discommodious; in the main they’ve been very civil. They extended a polite invitation, I discussed my reservations and objections, they attempted to persuade me otherwise, and in the end I had to disagree, and they left it there. That said:

2. I am not at all charmed by “We are again charging £5.00 per person to cover coffee and biscuits, and to dissuade people from not showing up.” This is an actual quote from WFC Program Update #19. It strikes me as needlessly punitive and petty. Industry professionals with dozens of years of con-going and Kaffeeklatsching experience have already expressed their bemusement or disbelief on Twitter. For most of the con-going world this problem, if and when it exists, has been solved with waiting lists. The imputation isn’t a pretty one– that potential attendees for these WFC Kaffeeklatsches are assumed to be such flighty deadbeats that a pre-emptive enforcement mechanism has to be clamped to them. I don’t appreciate it.

3. I have also just discovered that these Kaffeeklatsches are to be held in an area of the con hotel that is not wheelchair-accessible. I am actually quite ashamed that I had not thought to check on this at the time I was asked to participate. I am annoyed at my own naive assumption that I wouldn’t need to check.

4. I will be working to arrange a get-together for readers of the Gentleman Bastard sequence (and anyone else who wants to hang out) somewhere in Brighton, off-site from the convention, accessible to those without con memberships and, ideally, accessible to those with mobility issues. Stay tuned for updates on this.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Thursday, September 12th, 2013
11:31 am

With the looming release of The Republic of Thieves, my schedule is set to go nuts. Although I’ve said several times that I’m not doing a formal book tour, enough things have changed in very recent days that I think we can call what’s coming a sort of accidental/inevitable mini-tour. Here’s where I’ll be:

Context 26
Worthington, Ohio
September 27-29

Elizabeth Bear and I will be teaching a two-hour workshop called “Worldbuilding 201,” where we’ll do our very best to rock the hell out of a subject that is often misunderstood. There’s still time to sign up…

Pandemonium Books
Boston, Massachusetts
October 8
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

It seems I’ve written another book. Boston is where I’ll be the day it hits shelves in the US, so Boston is where the party is. Reading, signing, cookies!

New York Comic Con
Javits Center, Manhattan
October 11

I will, so far as I know, be doing a panel, a general signing, and then a signing at my publishers’ booth. More information forthcoming as soon as they give it to me. I will ONLY be appearing on Friday the 11th.

Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Lexington, Kentucky
October 24
7:00 PM

Reading, signing, blathering!

Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore
Minneapolis, Minnesota
October 26
1:00 PM

My first-ever signing at a landmark next door to my home town… I’ve been visiting Uncle Hugo’s since 1990 or so as a reader, and now I’ll be blocking an aisle as a writer and a fire hazard! Huzzah!

World Fantasy Convention
October 31 – November 3
Brighton, UK

I will be at the convention, available at the mass signing (I’m assuming they’re having one), and arranging some sort of get-together off-site in Brighton.

London Area
November 4 – ?
London, UK

I’ll be doing something, hopefully several somethings, in or around London after WFC, but they haven’t told me what yet. More news as soon as I have it.

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore
San Diego, California
November ?

University Bookstore
Seattle, Washington
November ?

Bakka Phoenix Bookstore
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
November or December ?

I have solid plans to visit these three places, in some order, preferably as soon as possible after WFC, but the timing depends upon the end date of my London area engagements, and until I have that these cannot be officially scheduled. But know that they are coming and as soon as the arrangements are set in stone I’ll have an update.

Daisho Con
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
November 22-24

I am a guest at Daisho Con, not to mention possibly the oldest person in attendance. I will be asking to do more programming than before! Daisho Con is big, colorful, friendly, cheap, and skews young, but if you want to hear an old man yammer about books, I am your old man!

Now, let’s go over two of the questions I most frequently get on Twitter and in e-mail:

Why don’t you come to {insert location HERE}?????

Chances are I would absolutely love to visit {insert location here}, but a couple things need to happen first! I don’t just pick the places I visit at random, and a great many of them involve travel arrangements made and paid for by my publishers (or shared with the sponsors of the event). So, to get me to {insert location here}, someone has to invite me, and contact my publicist (at Random House in the US or Gollancz in the UK) to discuss who pays for what. I’m not much of a diva as far as things go, but I do need to get to {insert location here} somehow, and I do generally need a place to sleep and clean myself up. Events that I can easily drive myself to (say, within a few hours of the Twin Cities) are a slightly different matter but the timing still has to be convenient for me and a hotel room may still need to be arranged.

If you want to make or facilitate a serious offer to have me visit somewhere to read/sign/speak, please feel free to e-mail me at any time. I can direct you to my publicists following that initial contact, if necessary.

Can I buy a book directly from you if I find you at a convention?

This seems to have become a more frequent question recently and the answer, in most cases, is absolutely going to be no. It’s not that I don’t want to be able to conjure books to sell you, it’s that a) I try to avoid undercutting the booksellers at any given convention, and b) I prefer to travel out of one suitcase. I spend an awful lot of time these days on planes and I don’t have room to carefully pack a pile of books in my luggage, much less carry them around on foot at a convention. Now, I’ll sign damn near anything at damn near any time, but in the vast majority of cases you’ll have to provide the book yourself.

On very rare occasions I might make arrangements to have a vendor already attending a given convention sell books that I’ve personally procured, but this is unlikely to happen anywhere I can’t drive to.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
4:43 am
This Week in Indiana

I’m off to GenCon in Indianapolis this week, my first ever.

Mostly, I’ll be a participant in the Writers Symposium programming, and my schedule is as follows.


9 AM … Memorable Characters
2 PM … Reading
3 PM … Should You Plot Or Not?
9:30 PM – Midnight … Author Game Night


12 PM … Signing
6 PM … The Line Between Adversity and Tragedy


1 PM … Stunning Action Scenes
5 PM … Genre Bender
9:30 PM – Midnight … Author Hangout

Sunday, I take off for Lafayette, where I’ll be reading and signing at Robots & Rogues from 4 PM to 6 PM.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

4:22 am
Update: Galley Proof Auction

The galley proof of The Republic of Thieves is safe in its new home! Its owners may choose to reveal themselves if and when they please. I have realized that posting an image of one of my personal checks is probably a really bad idea; I assume the NFFF will send some sort of letter when my donation arrives, and I’ll post that instead. Many thanks to all the bidders!

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
10:06 am
Rogues and Magi in an Adventure with Firefighters

I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for eight (how can that be possible?) years now, and we’re all well-versed in the theory and actuality of wildland fires (though most of the grass and forest fires I’ve been on-scene for have been very tame by the standards of the big western/southwestern conflagrations). We know that these things can turn on a dime and be deadly in their capriciousness, but even so I don’t think we’re ever quite prepared for sudden mass casualty disasters, not in this day and age. Training and technology help us feel invincible, until suddenly we’re simply not. On June 30, 19 firefighters were killed near Yarnell, Arizona when the wildfire they were fighting overran their position.

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is administering the Yarnell Hill NFFF Fire Hero Fund to help the family and coworkers of those killed that terrible day. I want to make a contribution to this fund, so I’m offering a truly one-of-a-kind literary collectible via eBay: The one and only complete unbound galley of The Republic of Thieves:

Follow this link to check out the auction.

“Galley proof” means the book has been edited, copy-edited, and more or less laid out for printing. Galley proofs are the very last chance an author has to correct mistakes and adjust small details. This galley proof is for the American edition of TRoT, and was sent to me in June of this year. My corrections were e-mailed back, leaving the 662-page galley in my hands.

This is straight from the desk of the author (yours truly), annotated and scribbled on in a number of places, containing assorted notes and corrections. This is the one and only unbound manuscript of any of my novels I am ever going to offer for public sale. All the others will be deposited (as have unbound manuscripts of The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies) in the Rare Books and Special Collections Department of the Northern Illinois University Libraries. So if you’ve ever wanted a truly rare piece of Lynchiana, or know anyone who does, this will probably be hard to beat.

This auction will last for five days, ending July 30th. Every penny of the proceeds will go to the Yarnell Hill NFFF Fire Hero Fund. I’ll post a photo of my check (with my personal info blotted out) when it’s about to go in the envelope.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
10:09 am

I promised that if the CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS. ALIENS Kickstarter broke $4,000 I’d offer up a copy of my official map of Karthain from The Republic of Thieves. And I do mean my map, since this time around I actually got out my technical pens and tried to re-conjure my old drafting skills. This is scanned from an original piece about 10.5 x 15.5 inches and I’m mostly very happy with it… not quite pleased with the fiddly bits at the edges and a few tiny details, but it does its job and it’ll be in the books on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cur fot F-list mercy and huge size... click the link to receive many pixels.

I have plans to redo my maps of Tal Verrar and Camorr by hand, taking what I’ve learned from this project to (hopefully!) improve significantly.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

9:41 am
Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens

“When aliens reach Earth, they encounter the clockwork mechanisms and Victorian sensibilities of a full-blown steampunk civilization. Inspired by the classic science fiction adventure tales of the nineteenth century, leading fantasy and science fiction authors will bring us tales of first contact with a twist, as steam power meets laser cannons . . . and dirigibles face off against flying saucers . . .”

I’m one of the anchor authors for the new CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS. ALIENS Kickstarter anthology, along with Brad Beaulieu, Caitlin Kittredge, Gini Koch, Gail Z. Martin, Seanan McGuire, and Ian Tregillis. If the Kickstarter successfully funds, the seven of us will write the first of the 14 stories planned for the volume, with the balance to come from authors yet to be selected. This is the first Kickstarter I’ve ever been a part of, so please be kind to it if you can!

I can’t say what direction my story will take . . . discussions at Readercon left me wanting to play with steampunk more than ever, and also flex the sensibilities of whatever I set in the milieu. It’ll definitely be a go-big-or-go-home sort of affair, as fits the high concept. Push us past our modest goal of $10,000 and I’ll be forced to get much more specific!

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Friday, July 19th, 2013
6:21 am
Returned From Readercon

Last weekend was Readercon, and it was mostly excellent. The con was hit at a very late planning stage by the news that both the pub and the lobby area of the hotel would be out of service, but you really had to see it to believe how thoroughly those areas of the building had been un-made. They weren’t merely taped off, but sealed away by blank white walls like something out of a movie, and the con’s traditional central gathering space was turned into the functional equivalent of a long scenic corridor in an old Doctor Who episode. The folks behind the con did a damn fine job of steering everything right past this obstacle, and there was a bumper crop of room and hallway parties to compensate.

I wish I could be as lavish with praise for the actual staff of the hotel, some of whom were angels and some of whom seemed overtly annoyed by all the hungry, paying customers who had the nerve to actually ask for things. Service at the one functional restaurant was lacking… and I can’t emphasize enough what it takes to drag those words out of me, as I waited tables myself for several years and have a preternatural degree of sympathy for those who wield aprons and order books. We often joke about how convention hotels and bars never seem to heed the warnings they receive about fannish hunger and thirst, but seriously, this wasn’t the hotel’s first rodeo with Readercon and while the restaurant food itself was usually lovely, the service (especially the bar service) was several distinct flavors of inadequate.

It probably seems ungenerous to harp on this, but Readercon has a thick and well-attended panel schedule, tightly time-managed by the con staff, and it’s also a place where dozens of agents, editors, and authors are holding business meetings at any given time. Agents, especially, often have appointment after appointment, hour after hour, and the need to chase down restaurant staff with IR cameras and hunting dogs for basic functions like getting a check really throws sand in the machinery of maintaining a professional schedule.

So, other than waiting for drinks and bills, what was I doing?

Friday, Elizabeth Bear and I shared a Kaffeeklatsch, which is German for “authors share embarrassing personal stories with more people than they ever expected to see in the room.” I stumbled through a long, revealing tale of something I’m really not proud of from my teenage years, when I applied my talents to a prank that caused unexpected emotional grief. Oh, Stainless Steel Rat books, you never warned me there’d be such ethical quandaries!

Saturday, my first panel was “A New Mythology of the Civil War,” also featuring Mikki Kendall, Dennis Danvers, Ronnie Stott, and Howard Waldrop. I think we did a fine job pounding the Lost Cause mythology into the dirt (not that this was difficult); anyone who can insist with a straight face that the American Civil War was not about slavery from the first angry word to the last shallow grave is lying or deluded. There wasn’t a heck of a lot to say, more’s the pity, about trying to carve a new counter-mythology in spec fic because we don’t really have an evolving major tradition of Civil War fiction at all, apart from the Twilight Zoney mechanistic approach (anachronistic technology is brought into the war by time-travelling assholes and hilarity ensues). There was some interesting stuff about the similarly mechanistic fixations of a lot of steampunk and the urge to play with airships and gatling guns while trying not to look too hard at the social tapestry and the actual, individual lives of millions in bondage and the sick culture surrounding them. I think we could have kept going for another hour, at least.

Next up was “The Uses and Values of Realism in Speculative Fiction” with Elizabeth Bear, John Crowley, and Rose Lemberg. After the usual ten minutes or so of trying to engage all our conceptual motors and define our terms, I think we settled into a rich and lively discussion. Coming from my perspective as a pretty staunch lover and repurposer of classic sword-and-sorcery, I have a tendency toward a fairly defined and physiologically grounded notion of “realistic.” Crowley was good about yanking things back to the broad picture from time to time… what world were we discussing? What rules, what reality? We touched on modes and expectations, on the pressures of genre, on why things like Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” work beautifully on their own terms and fail completely to integrate with the structures of SF/F, where we expect meaningful “thens” for our if/then statements. Rose Lemberg was pretty sharp, and carried off the night’s trophy for pithiness when she suggested that readers shaken by A Song of Ice and Fire could find relief in something less cold and onerous, like Crime and Punishment.

My last Saturday panel was “The Xanatos Gambit” with Jim Freund, Yoon Ha Lee, and Jim Macdonald. We discussed the hell out of the titular gambit, the sort of multi-layered scheme someone sets up with a variety of outcomes, all of which are ideally beneficial to the schemer. I think we lost a tiny bit of traction and opportunity by being too literal about this; the history and theory of schemes that are not purely win-win is a wide, deep river we barely dipped our toes in, but what the hell. I still think we rendered very fair return for the brain cells engaged in listening to us. We did discuss the history of the trickster/schemer figure at some length, generally agreeing that we were less interested in the notion of trickster as cosmic balance or theological compulsion than we were with the notion of the self-interested plot hatcher. We touched upon the transition of the role over time, and how the once-popular “unironic rake who rapes his way across the story” had lost a lot of traction in the public consciousness due to the fact that some of the human race is trying to grow the hell up. We didn’t get to talk much about one near-exception I had wanted to cite, Jack Vance’s Cugel the Clever, the greedy egotist who inevitably ruins life for himself and nearly everyone he encounters in a world-spanning epic of poor life choices.

Saturday night, Amanda Downum and I made our own series of amusingly poor life choices as we tied more than one on at various room parties, especially those hosted by the generous Bracken Macleod and Marco Kloos. Liberal application of spiritous distillations helped ensure that we didn’t get to bed until Stupid O’Clock, with the threat of Amanda’s 9 AM Sunday Kaffeeklatsch hanging over us like Poe’s goddamn pendulum. Bear and I arose shakily, determined to show solidarity… actually, I exaggerate. Bear was pretty stable. Amanda and I were the delicate ones, and after the Klatsch I actually had to go cling to the bed awhile longer to make the universe stop spinning.

I was mostly recovered just in time for my last panel, “Pining for the Fnords: The New Nostalgia,” also featuring Elizabeth Bear, John Benson, Andrea Hairston, Liz Hand, and Richard Killheffer. I think there was a bit of a troublesome dichotomy in the panel description, as I don’t find Scalzi’s Redshirts to be of a piece with Walton’s Among Others, and I don’t find the sense of ‘nostalgia’ allegedly evoked in those books to intersect with the other half of the discussion prompted by Paul Kincaid’s jeremiad… but it wasn’t my show alone and once we got up to speed we flew along at a nice clip.

This panel featured one of the stranger interludes of my Readercon experience. Bear had just finished discussing the attractiveness of the genuinely old-fashioned “get out your slide rule” puzzle story, and how it could be at least perfunctorily invigorating to play with the style of story where the audience is invited to do the math or science along with the characters in that quintessential 50s way. Then we both cheekily lamented the march of technology as a bar-raiser for narrative trouble, using our cel phones as an obvious and immediate example. I mentioned something about how many of the books and films of the 20th century revolved around the plot device of not being able to find or contact other people (the example I used was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), and how a society where nearly everyone carried the equivalent of a Star Trek communicator at all times made this harder to pull off.

So, that’s what we were lamenting… not our damn cel phones themselves, invaluable tools that they are, but the NARRATIVE CHALLENGES improving technology poses. Even the lament was very tongue-in-cheek; it’s not a bad thing to be forced to stay on one’s toes as a writer.

A short while later, the panel opened up to the audience for questions, and a very… forceful gentleman asked us why we were afraid of technology. We all replied pretty forthrightly that we weren’t; he had the wrong end of the stick entirely. The guy then went on about his work developing, as he put it, the apps and technologies that will define the next five years, and asked why science fiction writers were all afraid to use the most cutting-edge technologies in our work, as according to him, leaving out the last fraction of the newest developments was tantamount to writing fantasy.

We got very energetic in responding to him, and he asked “Why are you all so threatened by my question?” which was a response classically symptomatic of a guy fixated on flogging a point rather than listening to what other people might have to say about it.

Well, to you, guy in the audience, if you’re out there, we weren’t “threatened” by your question. Your question (which I have since learned you threw at another panel before reportedly leaving the room in a huff) wasn’t “threatening” in the slightest. What it was, was predicated on a whole series of false assumptions, namely that:

A. All science fiction writers are the same, part of some club or hive mind that collectively shirks or embraces the things it will write about. What you’ve actually got is a diverse conglomeration of thousands of individuals each with a different degree of technological experience, a different set of interests, and a different range of access to the freshest information. Not to mention wide variations in the amount of plain old effing time we can apply to our research and our work. I mean, how comprehensive a survey of genre fiction can you really have made if you don’t get this?

B. That what you were asking was within the scope of the panel, and the panel’s ability to efficiently engage with it in the time remaining. There’s this thing that happens when a subject is broached that is orthagonal to a panel’s description or ponderously tangential to its actual focus– the moderator says, “Look, we really can’t go into all that,” and everyone moves on.

C. That failing or refusing to feature the absolute latest in cutting-edge real-world tech invalidates the act of writing speculative fiction.

So, we weren’t threatened by your question, sir, may the gods of technology bless and keep you. We didn’t have the time to try and shake you out of all your presumptions, and we knew it, and frankly it wasn’t our responsibility to do so. If you wonder why people get het up when you don’t appear to want to listen to them, it’s not because your questions ring too fiercely for mortal ears to hear them. I hope that helps.

Other than that, I got the chance to briefly sit in on the “Teen Violence, Teen Sex” panel, which was of interest to me because The Republic of Thieves features, in case you didn’t already know, both teenage violence and teenage sex, written to frame some issues of consent and false idealization that I think sex in SF/F has at times been prone to. A good discussion was developing when I had to sneak off to other responsibilities.

One thing I will say, in response to the frequent observation (and hell, I’ve made it too) that our culture seems far more comfortable with gruesome fictional violence than it does with consensual fictional sex, is that there is one rarely-discussed reason for author squeamishness that has nothing to do with prudishness or presumption or lack of awareness. It is merely that an author writing a sex scene may be in more danger of revealing actual facts about their intimate self and their kinks and preferences than they are at any other time in the writing process; the art of writing honestly and with feeling and vigor threatens to expose much about the person behind the keys. Mitigating or preventing that exposure is a hard skill to learn.

Whether you realize it or not, you will actually learn some real things about me and my experiences from the sex scenes in The Republic of Thieves. It has taken time for me to become comfortable with that, and I will never feel any need to apologize for taking that time.

Anyhow, that was Readercon! No more public appearances for me until GenCon in Indianapolis, August 15-18.

Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
2:44 am
My Convergence Schedule, July 4-7

Convergence is imminent, and here’s my formal schedule:


  • Things I Wish I’d Known Before I started Writing
    11 AM, Atrium 4

    A panel of experienced writers will share the secrets of the profession they wish they knew when they first started writing. Come learn tricks of the trade that your publisher will never tell you! Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Elizabeth Bear, James Moran, C. Robert Cargill, Scott Lynch</p>
  • Reading (with Elizabeth Bear)
    7 PM, Sofitel Lyon

    I will be reading from THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES. Sharing this time will be my amazing significant other, Hugo- and Locus Award-winning SF/F author Elizabeth Bear.</p>
  • Ian Fleming
    11 PM, Plaza 2

    Discuss the James Bond books and their original author, not the movies. Panelists: Paul Cornell, Chris Stenzel, Scott Lynch, Cynthia Booth</p>


  • Beyond SF 101
    2 PM, Atrium 2

    There’s a lot of advice out there for the beginning writer, this panel is for those of you who have moved beyond that point. Panelists: John Klima, Scott Lynch, Peter Hautman, Michael Merriam</p>

    NOTE: There’s only four of us on that last panel, and it’s all dudes. Surely we can find at least ONE woman, out of the area’s large pool of qualified speakers and the con’s huge attendance, willing to join us. Pretty please? Send me an e-mail (scott at scottlynch.us).

    UPDATE: Monica Valentinelli has agreed to join us! Huzzah!

    EXTRA NOTE: I am not having a formal signing time this year. if anyone wants anything signed, I’ll be delighted to do so at any of my other appearances. Cheers!

    Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

  • Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
    11:07 pm
    In The Wake of MAN OF STEEL: A Timely Proposal

    The lights dim… the screen flickers to life…


    The cliffs of Dover are faintly visible on the horizon. A GERMAN GENERAL addresses a group of WEHRMACHT STAFF OFFICERS. As he begins speaking, a pristine Nazi flag snaps in the breeze behind him and the ominous shapes of dozens of HE-111 BOMBERS growl past overhead, toward the English side of the Channel.

    Gentlemen, England is on its knees. Her convoys are swept away. The Americans are too preoccupied by the destruction of their carrier fleet at Midway to send the British anything but prayers.


    Men screaming in the smoke-laced compartment as water rises rapidly to their chins.

    The Royal Air Force… no longer exists.


    Big Ben is a shattered ruin, prominent in the foreground, as smoke rises in a hundred columns over a blackened and tortured city. German aircraft are flying away in leisurely formations.

    Moscow is a graveyard. The Fuhrer has released the bulk of the armies of the East to our command and given us our orders. By the end of this summer, 1942, we will be standing on the British Isles and we will be looking across the Atlantic… to our next target.




    A team of shadowy men are paddling a rubber boat toward the beach. The silhouette of a GERMAN U-BOAT rocks gently on the waves behind them.

    Herr Leutnant, what is this place? How can it not be on our charts?


    A team of GERMAN SOLDIERS is briskly setting up a perimeter, while a GRIZZLED NAZI LIEUTENANT consults a map and compass. His ADJUTANT, the young man of the voiceover, stands nervously beside him. The scene is lit by the Lieutenant’s smoldering cigarette. Another shadowy shape can be seen at the Adjutant’s feet.

    (Languidly) Who cares? We’re here to put it on the charts. And to find out how we can make use of it. I think we ought to start with a more… persuasive conversation with our American guest, don’t you?

    The Lieutenant laughs and kicks the shape at the Adjutant’s feet. The MAN ON THE SAND (Paul Walker), who now comes into focus, is wearing a torn olive drab U.S. Army uniform and his hands are cuffed behind his back. He is unshaven, hollow-eyed, wary but not entirely defeated. The name patch on his uniform shirt reads TREVOR.

    Herr Leutnant! Someone’s coming out of the jungle!

    The German soldiers raise their weapons, and the Lieutenant peers into the darkness. We follow his gaze and see that a LONE FIGURE IN A HOODED CLOAK is standing just outside the darkened treeline, a few yards inland from the beach, watching the men.

    It’s a woman. (Shouting to his men) Bring her down here!

    Strangers, you must leave. To trespass here is death.

    Really? And who are you to threaten us?

    I’m not threatening you. (She pushes back her hood, revealing that she is DIANA (Jaimie Alexander)) I’m trying to protect you.

    From what?

    From me.

    Oh, good. A crazy woman. (He gestures, and his men begin to jog up the beach toward her) Don’t bother being gentle with her, just–

    CUT TO

    Steve Trevor scrambling backward on the sand, eyes wide, jaw hanging open. The sound of submachine-gun fire and screaming fills the night. The beach and the water behind him are lit by the pale staccato flashes of gunfire. Loud wet thumps, intercut with the high-pitched noise of razor-sharp metal slicing through the air, tell the story of the unfortunate German soldiers. Flying weapons and debris hit the sand all around Steve.

    CUT TO

    Diana, looking down toward Steve from a few feet away. She slides an ornate sword of pale metal back into its sheath.

    Jesus! Lady, I’m, ah, I’m not exactly here by choice!

    You were their prisoner?

    Yeah, I, uh, look… can you maybe see if there’s a key to these cuffs on one of the men you just–

    Diana pulls Steve to his feet, spins him around, takes the handcuffs carefully in her hands, and snaps them apart as though they were made of paper.

    Ahh! Well… (shakes the busted cuffs onto the sand) I guess that works, too.


    A beautiful eye-in-the-sky tracking shot of the Amazon city in the heart of a verdant jungle, a beautiful place that is please, god, not once again directly stolen from DINOTOPIA like every other fucking movie since THE PHANTOM MENACE.

    DIANA (Voiceover)
    We will bring your news of the outside world to my mother. I give you my countenance to enter Themyscira.

    STEVE TREVOR (Voiceover)


    HIPPOLYTA (Claudia Black) stands flanked by handmaidens and advisors, including ARTEMIS (Rosario Dawson), MALA (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and PHILIPPUS (Angela Bassett). These women, as gorgeous and intimidating as their surroundings, are backlit by slanting shafts of golden sunlight.

    DIANA (Voiceover)
    This man speaks of empires… empires of steel machines dividing the world between them! How can we live on in perfect peace while millions of innocent people die?

    CUT TO

    Diana walking stridently beside Hippolyta, who looks less than charmed with her daughter.

    The world of men broke with us. Now it must wear the chains of its own failure. We cannot interfere!

    Cannnot or will not?


    The mighty battleship TIRPITZ fills the screen, German naval ensign flying prominently, her guns blasting smoke and fire toward the audience. Behind her we can see a long gray line of German battlecruisers and destroyers, fading into the distance, thundering away with their guns.

    HIPPOLYTA (Voiceover)
    You know nothing of the outside world!

    DIANA (Voiceover)
    And what happens when there’s nothing left in the outside world for me to learn about?


    German soldiers march in lines past craters and ditches filled with the bodies of British and American soldiers. Allied flags lie tattered on the sand, next to the smoking wrecks of Allied tanks and equipment.

    CUT TO


    Diana and Mala standing on a balcony over a lantern-lit courtyard, looking down at Steve Trevor, who paces below, looking frustrated.

    Why are you obsessed with this man?

    It’s not him. It’s what he represents.

    And what do you think he represents?

    A second chance for us. To break this exile and be what the world needs us to be.


    GERMAN PANZERS race through a war-torn wood. Smoke boils into the red-tinted sky behind them.

    STEVE TREVOR (Voiceover)
    I can’t lie to you, Diana. We’re not winning this war. We’re running out of time and we’re running out of hope.

    DIANA (Voiceover)
    My people won’t aid you. Gaea help me, my people are wrong.

    CUT TO


    Diana arguing with Philippus, whose arms are crossed. Several handmaidens stand watching at a respectful distance, looking shocked.

    I’ve come for the weapons that are my birthright.

    I guard them for a queen’s heir. Not a girl who wants to go adventuring on a fool’s errand!

    Then I’ll see you in the arena.

    For the love I bear you and your mother, I will break you like a little girl before her very eyes.

    FLASH- Diana and Philippus, in suitably bad-ass ceremonial armor, walloping the ever-loving bejeezus out of each other. The earth trembles beneath their feet.

    I’ll accept your apology for that. (Flexes arms and cracks knuckles.) When you wake up after the fight.

    FLASH – Diana’s hands lifting a gleaming golden lariat from an ancient wooden display case.


    FLASH – Diana’s arms, as she buckles on a pair of sleek golden bracers.



    The operation is SEA LION! The beginning of the end for all the Reich’s surviving enemies. Frankly… they have nothing left with which to oppose us.



    Molten metal and sparking fires light the scene as stern, sculpted female blacksmiths pour and hammer with a clear sense of purpose.

    DIANA (Voiceover)
    I can’t wear the sigil of my house while my mother refuses to bless this mission. I’ve requested new armor, in the colors of your cause, for inspiration’s sake. Do you have any suggestions?

    FLASH – Brief glimpse of ribbed armor in the traditional red, blue, and gold.

    You know, ah, my people have a legend about a woman named Godiva…

    Oh? What’s this legend?

    On second thought, forget I said anything.


    The German General, hunkered just off the beach in a mud-spattered overcoat, is yelling into a field telephone while all hell breaks lose in the background. Hundreds of German troops are moving off the beach, shells are bursting overhead, and the sea is dark with landing craft and naval vessels.

    What the hell do you mean you’ve lost contact with ALL of our forward Panzer elements?


    British and American troops crouched side by side behind makeshift barricades watch in awe as a vast dark shape rolls toward them out of the smoke and red fire of brutal combat. Tracer bullets streak past in the background. We soon see that the shape is a GERMAN PANZER IV TANK… rolling to a grinding halt. Standing atop its chassis is Diana. She has torn the tank’s turret out of its housing and, as we watch, she steadily lifts it up over her head while smoke and flame boil out around her legs. She is wearing her dark cloak, but as it flutters and flies we can catch a solid glimpse of Wonder Woman’s armor, bracers, and circlet beneath it. Diana shrugs the tank turret off to one side, where it lands with a thunderous crash. Diana looks at the men briefly, posing in the smoke and flame like the UNIVERSE’S OWN MAXIMUM BAD-ASS. Then she grins ferally and leaps twenty feet into the air, looking for her next target.


    Beat… music crescendoes and ends.


    A NERVOUS NAZI OFFICER stands before BARONESS PAULA VON GUNTHER (Tilda Swinton), who is wearing smoked glasses and an incredibly chic gray and black ensemble that perfectly mimics the scheme of Nazi uniforms, while having not one single uniform feature. Her hair is ice-white and she wears gray leather gloves that can only be described as the pale color of crushed dreams. She is dwelling on some ominous piece of scientific apparatus cradled in one hand like Yorick’s skull.

    We don’t understand, Baroness von Gunther. This woman… she’s not human!

    There’s nothing you need to worry about understanding, Herr General. Science has given you tanks and aircraft and submarines. Surely my science will give you the means to defeat a single woman.


    …and the lights rise again, on a room full of movie studio suits

    WRITER: So, that concludes my, ah, presentation. Superhero films have cleaned up in recent years, there’s still lots of jazz from the Batman and Superman films, it’s got a lot of that retro and alternate-historical fashion to give it a grounded feel, and it’s got some steampunky super-science, and I think the cast could just kill… plus it leaves lots of room to bring in Circe in the sequel, maybe with Morena Baccarin for the role…

    SUIT: Look, thanks for your time, but it’ll never work. Women just aren’t interested in comic book movies.

    WRITER: Actually, the MPAA’s own theatrical market statistics show that movie attendance is essentially a dead heat between men and women and has been for years now, and comic book movies audiences are only a shade less balanced…

    SUIT: Well, sure, whatever, but everyone knows guys don’t want to see female leads in, you know, stuff like this.

    WRITER: Right, because that little Hunger Games flick was a renowned mega-flop, in the tradition of other notorious bombs like Aliens, Terminator 2, Silence of the Lambs, the Twilight saga...

    SUIT: That Salt movie with Angelina Jolie didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

    WRITER: Uh, it nearly tripled its production costs in global box office and a sequel has been greenlit.

    SUIT: Yeah, but Catwoman

    WRITER: Catwoman was a box office turd. So was Green Lantern, but nobody ever suggests it failed because it was an onscreen sausage-fest.

    SUIT: But Brave

    WRITER: Also tripled its production costs globally, and that was a mediocre flick for Pixar.

    SUIT: Yeah, look. This is a nice try, but we just gotta pass, kid.

    WRITER: Look, seriously, female participation in comic book culture and its associated media spinoffs, which is where the real money is, has never been higher. These women are passionate, pre-aware, and ready to line up and throw money at a project like this. There would be lines to the horizon if you would just quit fucking around and muttering about how the female audience is weak and the male audience is self-absorbed, and build something for that audience to cling to like a treasure. This is the preeminent female comic book hero in HUMAN HISTORY, and you can’t find the guts to even TRY?

    SUIT: Look, maybe we can find the money for a budget next year, if you can retool it as a Johnny Depp vehicle. But to be perfectly honest with you, we’re tight at the moment. We’ve already lined up $100 million to do Zach Galifianakis’ Aquaman.

    WRITER: There aren’t enough desks in the world for what I want to do with my head right now.


    (Apologies to screenplay formatting, which I have brutally trampled on while writing this. -SL)

    Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

    Thursday, June 20th, 2013
    11:32 pm

    I’m so sorry. I couldn’t resist. All the fan-arty stuff going on on Tumblr. It just popped into my head a night or two ago. All apologies to Shen Ying-jieh, Anna Jung, Benjamin Carre, and Macklemore. Also, I’m in the middle of the galley proofs right now and I’m goofier than a kitten on nitrous oxide. Send help. Send caffeine.


    Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

    9:41 am
    Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman’s a real guy.

    CAUTION: This review does not merely contain spoilers. It is constructed from solid Spoilerium. 


    So, Man of Steel. Saw it on Friday with my favorite actual Kryptonian, Elizabeth Bear, who wrote up her thoughts here. We’re of a very like mind concerning the film; the parts we enjoyed were spectacular and the parts that underwhelmed us were sad and didn’t need to be.


    1. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first half or so of the prologue on Krypton. It was lively, visually inventive, and fun. It went on for too long, but there’s not much in this movie that doesn’t, and eventually all the logic leaked out of the premise, but that too will be a common refrain in this review.

    2. The music! Hans Zimmer certainly does pound those drums, soundtrack after soundtrack, like he’s trying to summon something dark and terrible from the depths of sunken R’lyeh, and yet I have a weakness for his stuff. Some of what he’s arranged for Man of Steel sounds almost like him trying to essay a Mass Effect soundtrack. It’s stirring music to write to, and I bought a copy of the soundtrack shortly after I got home from the movie.

    3. The Kryptonian criminals! Michael Shannon doesn’t have much to do except play a bug-eyed screamer, yet he does it with real nuance and screen presence. This Zod is faintly tragic, quite distinct from Terence Stamp’s megalomaniacal smoothie, and generally fun to watch in action, a real antagonist’s antagonist. I quite enjoyed Antje Traue as Faora-Ul,  Superman’s primary physical opponent for much of the film, who also works a series of cliches but works them so well. Last but not least, compliments to the designers of the Kryptonian battle armor in all of its baroquely bad-ass aesthetic joy. Take a goddamn hint, book cover artists… neck to toe coverage! Almost as though Faora were, you know, some kind of competent warrior, valued by her comrades, who expected and needed the same kind of functional armor they did. Huh!

    It’s also an interesting if not exactly subtle casting choice to have the genetically-engineered, caste-bound Kryptonian renegades (and would-be genocides) played by white actors, and have the chief authority of their human opposition be a black man (Harry Lennix, incidentally, the guy who stole the show as Aaron the Moor in Julie Taymor’s Titus of fond memory).

    4. The “dream” conversation between Zod and Kal-El. Another scene with all the thematic subtlety of a sledgehammer, but dammit, if you’re going to be obvious and chew the scenery, then let’s see some teeth marks. This bit did not disappoint me.

    5. Amy Adams as Lois Lane! This turned out to be a pretty inspired choice, I think. A sensible and fairly realistic portrayal of a woman in her late 30s (though come on… Lois Lane is a veteran field journalist, not someone who’d totter around on heels the height of the Space Needle when a crisis is unfolding around her). Adams’ intrinsic adorableness and vulnerability are a fantastic counterpoint to her character’s insatiable curiosity, determination, and courage. I also think it’s easy to overlook her superb work projecting humanity while surrounded by actors whose body language is that of total, unconscious dominance and arrogance. You can chalk some of their effectiveness up to her skill at providing a visual and emotional foil for them.

    5a. Lois’ escape from the Kryptonian spaceship, aided by Jor-El’s computer personality. Great stuff. They didn’t even damselize her until the very end, which is what passes for restraint in this sort of thing.

    6. Russell Crowe was quite good as Jor-El; less portentous and cheesy than Marlon Brando in the role. Wise, dignified, and restrained. Fairly quiet for a Crowe character, actually. Henry Cavill didn’t get to work a very great emotive range as Kal/Clark/Superman, but he was physically superb for the role and adequately dynamic. Still a little too broody and disconnected for my taste, but nowhere near as emo as the Brandon Routh version from 2006′s Superman Shambles Aimlessly.

    7. The general shape of the plot. Frankly, I was delighted to see a Superman reboot that didn’t involve Supes beating up movie muggers or facing down minigun-armed bank robbers or the same old useless boring shit that doesn’t actually scare anyone or make any interesting points about our world. I was pleased to see the science-fictional bent of the trailers and despite all the ways they screwed it up in the final product, I’m still impressed that they tried to run with this angle (Superman is an unnerving alien, and he is forced to protect us against even more unnerving aliens, in a story that is as much about First Contact as it is about comic books).


    1. It’s really amazing how little re-writing it would have taken to clean up the nonsensical Krypton backstory and make it internally consistent. So, the Kryptonians have colonized the stars over the course of 100,000+ years but can’t escape planetary doom as their “natural resources are exhausted.” What? How? What resources are we talking about here, that they couldn’t fetch at will from millions of star systems? They have an extremely robust and portable technology (note the scoutship that spends 20,000 years on ice without a hitch) and spaceships just sitting around like unwanted Christmas ornaments, but they can’t use this stuff to evacuate population or gather more resources? Furthermore, if they can’t muster the energy to move their own silly asses out of the way of the oncoming Planetary BBQ and Magma-Fest, why are they bothering to pack criminals up and ship them off to the Phantom Zone? This seems akin to capturing pickpockets on the Titanic and exiling them in their own lifeboat while the ship is already sinking.

    Although there is a (slight) narrative thread about how the Kryptonians have bred themselves into  unhealthy rigidity, this is never taken far enough to suggest that they, as a culture, are so bereft of vitality that they would placidly welcome the end. Since they seem to know it’s coming but neither fight against it nor philosophically embrace it, all the inherent tragedy of the death of Krypton leaks away into anticlimax. How can the audience be expected to care about these stuffy buttwads if they don’t care about themselves?

    2. Speaking of inconsistency, Kryptonian biology is dribbled around the court of the movie like a basketball. Kryptonians fresh from space, sealed away from Earth’s “nourishing atmosphere” are shown to be effortless physical equals of Superman, who’s been basking in our yellow-sun radiation and nourishing atmosphere for three decades. Exposure to a natural Kryptonian atmosphere drops Supes in his tracks and robs him of his powers, yet this guy can fly in the vacuum of space without trouble. I don’t expect this stuff to have anything more than a long-distance relationship with the Laws of Thermodynamics, I just expect it to have some internal rules, which can then be applied to generate tension or up the stakes… sigh. Tension, stakes. Pearls, swine. I sometimes wonder why I bother expressing surprise at the narrative incompetence of mega-blockbusters. When “eh, who gives a shit” will rake in a billion dollars globally, why worry about aiming for even “reasonably competent?”

    3. This film is two hours and twenty minutes long, and nine hours of that is fight scenes. They are, in the main, full of visual energy and some of the best crumbling/exploding/kerblammoing things I have ever seen, but loaves and fishes do they drag the fuck on forever. The first time a Kryptonian flies through three brick walls is exciting; the eighty-sixth time is dreary overkill. The fight scenes look good, but there’s so little ultimate creativity to them… Superman, having established to the audience’s satisfaction that punching his opponents into buildings won’t even slow them down, punches them into more buildings. And then more buildings. And then some more buildings, when he’s not getting punched into buildings himself.

    4. The powers of Kryptonians are most interesting to see when they can be placed within an earthly frame of reference. Superman getting tinkled on by 30mm cannon fire, Faora-Ul shrugging off a Hellfire missile, someone being set on fire… these hazards are at least a wee bit diverting because we can mentally measure the effect of them against our own mortal bodies. Watching Superman fight something like a CGI robotic tentacle or a blue beam of mysterious gravitic force is so much less interesting, because we know in the end Superman will be exactly as strong as he needs to be to defeat the tentacle or the blue beam. The “struggle” will last precisely as long as the director and the army of computer animators want it to last, and again, no tension means that the audience’s sense of involvement takes a nap.

    5. The binary stupidity of the choices Pa Kent presents to young Clark is flatly insulting. Hey, idiots, the third option you’re not discussing along with “Save people from horrible deaths” and “just quietly let them die” is “maybe try not to let yourself be SEEN using your powers, numbskull!” Like, uh, maybe after pushing the bus out of the river you could have avoided sitting there gawping at the witnesses, Clark. And maybe instead of letting the redheaded kid see you doing your submarine act, you could have just grabbed him and heaved him ashore before positioning yourself to look like you’d fallen out of the bus. I’m not saying Clark should have known better at that age; he’d done no hero-ing to that point, and some shock on his part would be forgivable. My objection is to Pa Kent’s feeble, inhumane Monday-morning quarterbacking of the situation, simply because the people responsible for the story are trying to set up a completely artificial dichotomy to rule Clark’s character arc.

    Don’t even get me really started about the tornado death scene… good god, the presumption and witlessness of the writing. Clark, you didn’t let Pa Kent die to show that you trusted him, you let him die because YOU FAILED AT SUPER-SPEED. That tornado would be a threat somewhere south of kitten breath to Clark, and we’re expected to believe that he couldn’t simply approach it at a plausible human speed and run back in a few seconds? We’re expected to believe that Superman wouldn’t make the decision to save his dad from this childishly uncomplicated situation? Wrong answer, dillweeds. Wrong answer.

    6. Because, because, because… Superman is not about his powers. Superman’s powers are the opposite of interesting. He’s a tiny god. In his modern and canonical incarnation, he’s effectively invincible except when plot devices temporarily rob him of invincibility, and of course we know he’s going to become invincible again in a short while, so even that has limited dramatic shelf life. He’s stronger than fire, stronger than missiles, stronger than brick walls, stronger than giant tentacles and blue energy beams, stronger than other Kryptonians. Superman’s powers boil down to a gigantic, omnipresent I WIN button. Therefore, the only really interesting thing about Superman is the decisions he makes, or is forced to make. Superman isn’t Superman because he’s bulletproof; he’s Superman because he’d try to take a bullet for someone else even if he didn’t have any powers. Even if he knew he didn’t have them. Superman genuinely cares, and Man of Steel errs most painfully by half-assing this.

    This film’s action sequences are pervaded by a strange inhumanity. U.S. military personnel blithely unload airstrike after airstrike into the center of an populated American town, without so much as a peep of protest, without so much as a raised eyebrow for the welfare of the hundreds of people hiding there, and while I am no cheerleader for much of the shit we’ve pulled on a global scale, neither can I swallow the idea that blasting craters in an American town would be just another day at the office for these folks. Remember, this is the first engagement we’re shown between human and Kryptonian forces, and no all-pervading sense of urgency has been provided to explain why it’s essential to alpha-strike the place so immediately. I have to wonder what sort of creator could be so detached, so jaded, as to treat the unleashing of explosive death in an American small town as being essentially meaningless and self-justifying? I don’t think it should be meaningless anywhere, be it Afghanistan or Arkansas, and I call it just plain lazy writing/directing.

    Superman himself compounds this by inexplicably failing to try and move the fight elsewhere, to lure or trick or taunt or carry (or plead, because you’re damn right Superman would plead if that’s what it took to save lives) the Kryptonian renegades out of a populated zone, when open areas are available just a few hundred yards away in multiple directions. Again, wrong answer. An indifferent Superman is no Superman at all. The movie treats as sub-footnotes all the people Superman would be most desperate to protect, even in the heat and confusion of battle. It’s nice that he catches a guy who falls out of a helicopter, but that would never be enough… not for Superman.

    7. There was a bit in the 2005 Doctor Who episode “The Parting of the Ways” (bear with me here) where it became plain for all eternity that Russell T. Davies had a weak grasp of the concept of narrative escalation. The Dalek battle fleet bombarded the planet Earth so devastatingly that the outlines of the continents visibly changed while the people in orbit watched. That’s just not bloody survivable by anyone anywhere, a situation in which the continents run like glass and the coastlines shift hundreds of miles in a few seconds! So it made the Doctor’s subsequent “conundrum” about whether or not to use his jiggery-pokery suicide device to wipe out the Daleks “along with every living thing on Earth” look rather silly. Uh, Nine, not to put it too harshly, but what life on Earth? The ship just sailed, man. Daleks took care of it for you. Who’s left for the audience to care about besides you?


    That’s what I flashed back to during the final sixteen hours of Man of Steel, when block after block after block of downtown Metropolis is pulverized into dust by General Zod’s Gravitic Plot Contrivance and skyscraper after skyscraper tumbles and… then more flattening and more tumbling, and more flattening and more tumbling, and the disaster porn goes on so long and becomes so awful and widespread and inconceivable (this isn’t 9/11-scale carnage, surely it’s into Hiroshima or Nagasaki territory) that my ability to give a toss finally snapped like inexpertly-pulled taffy. Oh, Superman flies halfway around the world just in time to save Lois from falling out of a plane, of course, but fat lot of good that does everyone else who died aboard it and the tens of thousands of Metropolitans obviously pancaked in the wreckage of their buildings. We’re supposed to not feel numbed by this? We’re supposed to do something other than giggle when one of the Daily Planet staffers cries out, “He saved us!” while stumbling into an ash-gray wasteland where half a city used to be? Who had any chance to inform you that the whole world was at stake, ma’am? What’s there for you to see except the vast corpse-filled hole in front of you?

    Too much smashing. Not enough saving. Too little attention paid to the actual people living in this world for me to spark my Give-a-Shitter back to life.

    8. The Academy Award for Giving Laurence Fishburne Nothing to Work With goes to… this movie!

    9. Seriously, what kind of complete mental defective uses a grenade launcher to launch fragmentation grenades inside the cargo bay of a C-17 against a target eight feet away? And how did they live to do it over and over again? And while we’re at it, what sort of monkeynuts with half a melted popsicle for a brain would send ground troops to pit small arms against targets that had just laughed off rockets and 30mm cannon fire?

    10. The version of the film we saw was missing an important scene! I’m not sure if it was an editing mishap or a defective copy of the film, but a rough transcript of the deleted part runs like this:

    ZOD: Okay, let’s fire up the World Engine and turn Earth into Krypton II: Once More With Feeling. 

    FAORA-UL: Uh, wait a minute, sir. So, we’ve got this planet with an empowering yellow sun, and although we’ll be sick and uncomfortable for an initial few hours, once we get the hang of breathing the atmosphere, we’ll all basically turn into gods, right? More like gods than we are now, even.

    ZOD: Right!

    FAORA-UL: Okay. Why don’t we just leave the atmosphere intact and kill all the humans at our leisure once we’ve turned into gods? And then keep the magic super-air, like, forever?

    JAX-UR: Yeah, boss, I think she’s on to something here. We’re not saying we can’t knock some buildings down and repaint the place. But I’d sure like to try a hit of that sweet magic super-air.

    ZOD: Oh, I really just want to fire up the World Engine! Even SAYING it is fun! Say it with me! WORLD ENGINE! WORLD ENGINE SEXY! WORLD ENGINE NUMBER ONE!

    FAORA-UL: Look, I know we’ve been calling you ‘General’ for years now, but I feel compelled to ask… what exactly were you a general OF, back on Krypton? The Surgeon General, maybe?


    FAORA-UL: The Postmaster General?


    FAORA-UL: Except that Kal-El is, uh, literally the one single dude on the whole planet that poses any threat to us, and here we are just sort of backing off from him while we talk about landing our sole, solitary World Engine somewhere he can fly to and punch it.

    JAX-UR: He does punch things. You’ll recall you’ve been one of those things.

    ZOD: I will now make my supreme pouty face until you launch the World Engine!

    FAORA-UL: Seriously, were you the fucking General Counsel at a Kryptonian law firm or what?




    Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

    Monday, June 17th, 2013
    9:09 am
    Commencement of the Snoopy Dance

    Monday, 17th of June 2013. This morning my editor in London found these waiting on his desk.

    Mirrored from Lynch Industries.

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