Tag: barry malzberg

Barry N. Malzberg’s entire LONE WOLF series of crime novels (as by Mike Barry) are now available as e-books through Prologue Books

As incredible as it is to believe, Barry N. Malzberg wrote twelve novels in 1973. Ten of the twelve novels make up the first 10 books of the Lone Wolf crime novel series. These books have been out of print for a long time, but they have recently been brought out in e-book form by Prologue Books. There are a total of 14 books in the Lone Wolf series. I managed to find a couple of them in paperback in a second-hand bookstore some time back, but now the whole series is available. For fans of Barry Malzberg; for fans of crime novels; and for collector-completists, this is a cool deal!

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The novels are available in a variety of e-book formats including Amazon Kindle, Nook, Apple, Sony and Kobo. I’ve picked up the first three from Amazon, with the idea of eventually obtaining all of them. I started reading book #1 at lunch yesterday.

If you are a fan of crime novels, or a fan of Barry’s work, be sure to check them out.

My interview with Barry N. Malzberg is now live at SF Signal

I had the pleasure of interviewing Barry N. Malzberg1 for SF Signal last week. We talked about the science fiction of the 1950s and his involvement with The Galaxy Project, an effort to bring back some of those classic novelettes and novellas that appeared in Galaxy during that decade. Head on over there to check it out.

  1. This really was a delight for me. I’ve been a fan of Barry’s since I first read “The Passage of the Light” in Science Fiction Age in 1994. In 1999, I wrote a letter to Barry care of the Scott Meredith Literary Agency to tell him how much I admired his writing. He wrote me back and that made my month. I finally got to meet him in person at Readercon in 2008, and then again in 2010 and 2011. During that time and since we’ve corresponded quite a bit through e-mail and become friends. You always dream of becoming friends with a hero but never actually think it will happen. Well, it happened in this case.

My Readercon panels

I got my schedule of Readercon panels the other day. Since the schedule is still tentative, I’ll hold off posting the schedule until it is finalized. But I will tell you that I will be appearing in two panels:

  • We All Produce, We All Consume.¬†Paul Di Filippo, Gemma Files, Robert Killheffer, K.A. Laity (leader), Jamie Todd Rubin. In a 2008 blog post, Leah Bobet connected the dots of increasing media interactivity and increasing independent authorship. Both trends have only escalated in the years since. When every blogger is an author, every commenter is a reviewer, and every work is assumed to be the start of a conversation, how does that change the experience and culture of reading? Was it ever possible to be a passive reader, or are we simply bringing our marginalia and book-flinging out into the light?
  • Capturing the Hidden History of Science Fiction. Eileen Gunn, David G. Hartwell, Fred Lerner, Barry N. Malzberg, Jamie Todd Rubin (leader), Darrell Schweitzer. Science fiction has a rich history. Some of this history has been explored in books like Alva Rogers’¬†Requiem for Astounding. Some of it has been uncovered in recent biographies like Mark Rich’s C.M.¬†Kornbluth and William Pattern’s¬†Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century. And of course, many of the dialogues by Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg that appear in the¬†SFWA Bulletin contribute to this history. This hidden history teaches us a lot about our genre. What is the best approach to getting those who were there to tell their stories? Who are the right people to talk to? What does such a history contribute to the field? And how much is best left hidden?

I am moderating the second panel on hidden history. It was a subject that I proposed, in a large part based on my experience with my Vacation in the Golden Age. I’m very excited about that panel, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better group of panelists. I really lucked out on this one.

This will be my third time at Readercon. It will be (I think) the 11th science fiction convention I’ve attended. But it is the first time I’ve ever been a participant and panelist. I’m a little nervous about that. Mostly, thought, I’m just thrilled by the fact that I get to be on a panel with one of my favorite writers ever, Barry Malzberg. How cool is that?

For those interested, the full program description is available. Once the schedule has been finalized, I’ll post the times for these panels. If you’re going to be at Readercon, I look forward to seeing you there in about two and a half weeks!

Why you should read Beyond Apollo

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I have been reading and–for the most part–enjoying Jo Walton’s journey through the Hugo Nominees on TOR.com. Yesterday, however, while reading her post on Hugo Nominees 1973, I was floored. It wasn’t that she didn’t particularly like Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. I happened to think that the whole book was terrific, but I agree with her that Silverberg’s Dying Inside is the better book. What floored me was when she made mention of the John W. Campbell award. Walton wrote:

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award for hard science fiction novels started this year—it’s an odd thing to choose to honour Campbell when you think about it, as he was a magazine editor all his life. I suppose he did publish novels as serials. Oh well. The judges this year gave it to Barry Malzberg’s Beyond Apollo, which I haven’t read. Second place was James E. Gunn’s The Listeners, a book about SETI, and third was Christopher Priest’s A Darkening Island, aka Fugue for a Darkening Island, a very uncosy catastrophe novel. They also gave a special award for excellent writing to Silverberg for Dying Inside.

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Working through the writing slump: swinging at pitches

I’ve now written 2-days in a row, despite my slump and last night I managed a cool 1,000 words, and completed a scene in the story. I like the scene, but at 1,700 words, it is almost certainly way too long in proportion to the overall novelette. That’s okay though, it’s a first draft and cutting and tightening can happen later. Once again, chatting with writer-friends helped and this is proving to be invaluable to getting me through this slump.

I’m a baseball guy and I make a lot of baseball analogies–thus the slump. Even the best hitters in the world go through their slumps. The trick, I think, is to stay in the lineup, keep going out to the plate, and swinging at pitches. Try to make contact every time you can. For writing, this means facing that story every day, staying with it, and trying to get back that rhythm. For me it means not over thinking things. To that end, a fortuitous call last night from my friend Michael Burstein really helped out.

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Writers and writers

I think that there is some kind of transition period between being just a fan of science fiction to being a science fiction writer. At least, that’s the way it is working out for me. Despite having some street cred (3 professional sales), I still look at other writers as if they are, well, Writers. I am not a naturally shy person, but I do get nervous around these Writers, and I know exactly why that it: I still think of them as demi-gods.

Part of it is that while I have some street cred, I don’t have a whole lot and I suppose there is a feeling of inadequacy surrounding that. I think to myself, here is this Science Fiction Writer who has sold dozens of stories, received countless award nominations, published several novels. They are so calm and self-assured about it all. And then there’s me, barely out of fandom with my 3 story sales. How can they possibly take me seriously? And yet, they usually do. They treat me like one of their own and yet they are still demi-gods to me.

I think I am doing better about trying to stand at eye-level with other professional science fiction and fantasy writers, but this whole notion of actually being a writer is sometimes still unsettling to me–in a good way. I’ve always wanted to do this, and I tried and tried and tried, and I was not a very good story-teller when I started out, but I kept at it until one day, I was just good enough. After that first sale, things started to get a little bit easier, and that is almost entirely due to the Writers who have treated me so kindly: Michael A. Burstein, Barry N. Malzberg, Robert J. Sawyer, Allen Steele, Jack McDevitt, to name just a few. These guys are my Babe Ruths and Mickey Mantles, and yet they’ve all taken me seriously as a writer. You would think that would make it easier to approach other writers at conventions, and introduce myself, but for some reason, that imagined wall is still there: they are Writers and I’m just a writer.

I’m hoping to finally surmount the imagined wall this year–or, as Pink Floyd urged, tear it down–but it is not an easy thing to do. I can’t quite seem to place myself at the same level of the Writers whose stories I’ve enjoyed for a couple of decades. But I’ll try.

I wonder if other writers at my stage feel the same way? There is a feeling that the first sale wasn’t a fluke because you had a second sale. And then there was that third sale to one of the Big Three that made you a Full Active SFWA member. To some extent you still can’t believe it. But you’re still tempted to hold up those three sales, dear as they are to you, against those Writers you love so much and think: gee whiz! this one here has sold forty stories; this one more than one hundred with a dozen nominations for various awards. Will I ever be that good? Meanwhile your still struggling to make that next sale. It is a fun struggle, I’ll grant that, but when you see these Writers operate, you can still glimpse the difference between a rookie and a Pro.

I have met other writers, in passing: Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury. There are some writers I will never get to meet: Isaac Asimov, Cyril Kornbluth, Alfred Bester, Arthur C. Clarke, Lester del Rey, L. Sprague de Camp. Those lost opportunities, gone forever are what motivate me most to meet those writers that I can meet. I always try to tell them how much I’ve enjoyed the stories they’ve written, how theirs has been an example to me. It comes off sounding mawkish, I think, but sincere nevertheless. And I try never to forget my own motto: that I am a fan first, and a writer second.

My 2010 Hugo and Nebula nominations

I’ve done my nominations for the Hugo and Nebula awards for 2010. There were several good novels and one superbly outstanding one. I didn’t read a whole lot of short fiction from 2010 so some of those categories are blank.  Nominations within each grouping are listed alphabetically by author.

Nebula Nominations

Best Novel

Best Short Story

Hugo Nominations

Best Novel

  • Echo by Jack McDevitt
  • WWW:Watch by Robert J. Sawyer
  • Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis

Best Short Story

  • “Hope” by Michael A. Burstein (Destination:Future)
  • “What Will Come After” by Scott Edelman (What Will Come After)
  • “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You In Reno” by Vylar Kaftan (Lightspeed, June 2010)

Best Related Work


Best Editor, Short Form

  • John Joseph Adams (Lightspeed)
  • Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld)
  • Stanley Schmidt (Analog)
  • Edmund Schubert (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show)
  • Sheila Williams (Asimov’s)

Best Dramatic Short Form

  • “Course Correction” (Episode 19 of ABC’s Flashforward) by Robert J. Sawyer

Best Semiprozine

Best Fanzine

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

A quick comment on Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear. This is a single book that was split into two books by the publisher. This is not a series. There is no synopsis at the beginning of All Clear. All Clear starts exactly where Blackout left off and it is impossible to read that book and make any sense of it without having reading Blackout. I have therefore nominated the entire book, as written, for the Hugo and Nebula. I don’t know if this is allowed. I inquired on this but I haven’t yet gotten a response. It would seem remarkably silly to me to have to treat these books individually, but we’ll see how things turn out.

ETA: I have since learned that Blackout/All Clear is, in fact, being treated as one book.

The Business of Science Fiction for Best Related Book Hugo


There are a few good “related” books out there this year, but I want to make the case why I think one in particular is most deserving of a Hugo award: and that one is Mike Resnick’s and Barry N. Malzberg’s The Business of Science Fiction (McFarland). The book is a collection of 26 of the more than 50 Dialogue columns that these guys have collaborated on over the last dozen or so years and their importance to science fiction cannot be understated.

The Hugo award is voted on by science fiction fans: members of the World Science Fiction convention. “Fan” is a very inclusive term. It includes those people who read and enjoy science fiction for pleasure. It also includes probably close to everyone who has written or attempted to write science fiction. While I call myself a science fiction writer, my motto has and always will be “fan first, writer second.”

There are three reasons why I think this book is important enough to deserve not only nomination, but to garner enough votes to win the Hugo:

  1. Many of the essays in the book are attempts to save science fiction–our history, and our roots–from obscurity. The columns within the book are written as “Dialogues” and are, in their way, a kind of oral history preserving the memory of aspects of science fiction’s history that might otherwise be doomed to obscurity. Twenty-six of these Dialogues are collected in The Business of Science Fiction and strewn throughout them are gems that give us insight into the evolution and history of the field. They ensure that they audience reading won’t forget writers otherwise doomed to obscurity, good or bad. It is our history and it is a part of us.
  2. The Dialogs in the book are a frank and realistic picture of the life of a science fiction writer. I’ve said in other places that reading this book is like having two seasoned agents, masters of the field, standing over your shoulders, telling it like it is. They don’t pull any punches, but new professionals (among whose ranks I currently count myself) can only benefit from the words of wisdom on a range of topics near and dear to the hearts of writers.
  3. The book is a fascinating roadmap through the careers of two of the most experienced, respected and admired professionals in the field. Mike and Barry are both writer’s writers and though I am relative newcomer in the field, when I mention their names to other professionals as being among those writers I take as role models, I am told time and again that I have chosen wisely.  The anecdotes they provide in their Dialogues show a beginner how another one-time beginning managed to blossom into a successful science fiction writer.

There are other important books that will certainly get nods in this category, most notably the Heinlein biography by William H. Patterson and the Kornbluth biography by Mark Rich. And both books certainly deserve nomination. But Heinlein is in no danger of being forgotten. And Rich’s book has already done much to resurrect Kornbluth. In each case, however, we are talking about one writer. The Business of Science Fiction and the columns on which they are based is an attempt to preserve all of science fiction. The book is half of the result of a more than decades long collaboration, demonstrating a deep fondness for a genre whose most distant past is already being lost to obscurity. There is a nobility in this book, attacking the problem on two fronts: education fandom of the history of the genre and preserving it for future generations; and teaching the new generation of writers the tricks of the trade so that there will be a future generation.

I’m nominating The Business of Science Fiction for the Best Related Book Hugo and it’s the book that is getting my vote, as well. I’d encourage you to pick up a copy and read it. If nothing else, you’ll learn something about the genre you never knew. And if you are anything like me, once you’ve read the book, you will agree that it is the book that deserves the Hugo this year.

Science fiction mysteries


I had an epiphany the other day.

There is a certain kind of science fiction story (including novels) that I particularly like. It’s been hard for me to classify what these stories are. In the past I’ve thought of them as space opera, like Isaac Asimov‘s FOUNDATION series or Arthur C. Clarke‘s ODYSSEY series. But I’ve read other types of space opera and sometimes, I don’t come away with the same sense of excitement as I do with others. What’s the difference?

The difference, it occurred to me the other day, is that the stories I like best are science fiction mysteries. Back in the day, these were called “puzzle stories”. It was an epiphany for me in multiple senses because not only are these my favorite type of stories to read, they are also my favorite type of stories to write. (My story, “Take One for the Road”, coming out in Analog in 2011 will be my first published science fiction mystery.)

I enjoy the FOUNDATION stories so much because they are, at their core, puzzles.  I enjoy Jack McDevitt‘s Alex Benedict novels so much because they, too, are puzzle stories. Even a novel like Joe Haldeman‘s THE FOREVER WAR is to some extent a puzzle story. And some of my favorite types of stories involve time travel and those are almost always puzzle stories. Not all science fiction stories are puzzles stories or even intended to be. And it would seem that the trend holds for me. If I got back through the list of science fiction books I’ve read, I tend to rate stories with a greater mystery or puzzle element higher than I do those that lack it. There are exceptions, but the general case is true. For instance, I did not particularly like Vernor Vinge’s RAINBOW’S END. And in looking back on it, I don’t see that as much of a mystery or puzzle story.  On the other hand, I loved Connie Willis’ DOOMSDAY BOOK and there was a definite element of mystery and puzzle-solving in that story.

Other examples:

I didn’t particularly enjoy Lois McMaster Bujold’s FALLING FREE, Samuel Delany’s BABEL-17, or Ray Bradbury’s FROM THE DUST RETURNED. As I can recall them, none had a particularly strong mystery element. However, I loved Joe Haldeman’s THE ACCIDENTAL TIME MACHINE, Barry Malzberg’s BEYOND APOLLO, and Ray Bradbury’s SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, all of which had stronger mystery and puzzle elements.

It is a great relief to discover this for a number of reasons. First, of course, it better describes what I enjoy reading and I can actively go seek this kind of stuff out more easily, now that I know what I’m looking for. Second, it helps me to understand why I don’t enjoy some of the more–shall we say, literary–efforts in science fiction that many of my friends and colleagues seem to love. I was not blown away by THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS or THE WINDUP GIRL the way others were, and I’ve always thought that to be a problem with me. In fact, those books simply don’t match my taste for the type of science fiction I really enjoy. It is a relief to discover that.  It also helps to explain why absolutely love David G. Hartwell’s mammoth anthology THE HARD S.F. RENAISSANCE.  Hard s.f. stories tend to me more puzzle-oriented.

This is not to say that I won’t or don’t read other science fiction or that I won’t or don’t attempt to write other types.  But for pure enjoyment, for slipping back into my vision of a Golden Age, the science fiction mystery is my drug of choice. There have been a lot of good writers in this subgenre over the years and it solves for me another mystery: why I like Jack McDevitt’s book so much:

He specializes in science fiction mysteries and in my opinion, there is no one better than Jack at this art.

This is not a blog entry but a series of notes toward one

Last week, in my notes on volume 1, issue 1 of SCIENCE FICTION AGE, I discussed a story by Barry N. Malzberg and noted how he was one of my favorite all-time writers. Someone, who shall remain nameless, pointed Mr. Malzberg to my comments on his story and last night, as I was waiting for my laundry to dry, I received an email message from Barry Malzberg, thanking me for my comments and pointing out some things about the story that I missed.

How cool is that!

Of course, I wrote him back at once and let him know how much I enjoyed everything he writes and telling him that I only wish he wrote more often. I felt like a little kid. But this morning, I had another note from him. It is all very surreal to me. I mean, how often do you get email from the literary lights that you look up to? I love to write and I love to write science fiction. But I sometimes think that the real reason I want to be a science fiction writer is not to become a published author of note, but instead to get to talk to and hang out with all these cool people who create this magic.