Nancy Kress at Hugo House

I've just discovered that scifi author Nancy Kress will be teaching a short fiction class at Seattle's incredible literary center, the Richard Hugo House. It starts on March 19, right around the corner.

It's tempting. One of the first recommendations we received upon moving to Seattle was to a.) find Hugo House, and b.) take a class with Nancy Kress. But I'm not the fiction writer in the family; maybe I can talk the hubby into going. Vicarious Nancy Kress is better than no Nancy Kress at all.

I was happy to find one of her stories-- "The Common Good" -- in a recent issue of Asimov's, and I also hear that she contributed a story to the Gene Wolfe tribute anthology, Shadows of the New Sun. For some unfathomable reason, I haven't read it yet.

Here's an excerpt from a recent interview with Kress prior to her appearance at the 2013 ICON 38 in Iowa. (The interviewer is Alvaro Zinos-Amaro for Locus. The JS is Jack Skillingstead. The three are discussing their dream panel.)

[JS] If she has Maugham, I’d like Guy de Maupassant.
[NK] You can have him!
[JS] He was a great short story writer. And unlike your guy, he actually wrote something that could be classified if not as SF then at least horror, “The Horla”. A very famous story, in fact.
[NK] I thought we said we didn’t have to stick to sf or fantasy or horror writers.
[JS] We don’t have to, but I was just trying to make my dream panel interesting for the con audience.
[NK] Then I want Shakespeare on my panel!
[AZA] I’m surprised you didn’t pick him already. Or Jesus, or Buddha, or, say, Galileo.
[JS] Okay, I’ll have God on my panel.
[AZA] But you already have Theodore Sturgeon.

Me, I'd take Sturgeon any day.

And Now, Space Poems

It's been a fairly poetic week around here and around the studio, and a fairly speculative one as well.

According to the Wiki gods, speculative poetry is poetry that "focuses on fantastic, science fictional, or mythological themes." Although that seems to cover quite a lot of territory, speculative poetry is usually considered a niche endeavor. 

The upside is that it makes it easier to find.

There's an association dedicated to the science fictional type of speculative poetry, and they publish a quarterly journal. Here's the current issue of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association

Scifi poetry represents a dual challenge: it should stand as good poetry in its own right, even next to non-genre work, while also participating in the traditional subject matter of scifi. This excerpt is a good example; it's taken from David Barber's poem "Waving the Starships Goodbye" from the Autumn 2013 issue (Volume 36.)

"One day, the children will want to leave, tired
of our insistence on the weight of things,
like history, wanting space for its own sake...
....They are frozen in time
and it is us the centuries have aged so much.
Or vast ships, mountains really, wormed all through
by the slow generations born to those
who could choose, as emigrants do, their lives.
Everything is fine, except arriving.
What would such small strange folk do with planets?...."

"Cosmic Hive" by Nikalay Gutsu

And this is an excerpt from "The Other Night (Comet Kohoutek)" from Diane Ackerman's notable 1976 collection The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral:

"Last night, while
cabbage stuffed with
brown sugar, meat and
raisins was baking in the
oven, and my potted holly,
dying leafmeal from red-spider,
basked in its antidote malathion,
I stepped outside to watch Kohoutek
passing its dromedary core through the
eye of a galaxy. But only found a white
blur cat-napping under Venus: gauzy, dis-
solute, and bobtailed as a Manx. 
Pent-up in that endless coliseum of stars,
the moon was fuller than any Protestant
had a right to be. And I said: Moon,
if you’ve got any pull up there, bring me
a sun-grazing comet, its long hair swept
back by the solar wind, in its mouth a dollop
of primordial sputum. A dozing iceberg,
in whose coma ur-elements collide. Bring me
a mojo that’s both relict and reliquary.
Give me a thrill from that petrified seed...."

Another place to find good science fiction and fantasy verse is Strange Horizons, the weekly online spec fiction magazine.

And of course there's often poetry in Asimov's, too, on most newsstands.