A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Here is an excerpt from Nexus. The first part is a kind of prologue. Everything is roughly drafty.


by Michael F. Flynn

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Journeyman: In the Stone House

Analog Magazine has very kindly put up a pdf copy of my novelette "The Journeyman: In the Stone House," which was recently nominated for a Hugo award. It is part of a series that began with "...On the Shortgrass Prairie" and continued in the issue after this one with "...Against the Green." Pending acceptance, it will continue next year with the recently submitted "...In the Great North Woods."

Because this novelette and the one that followed were originally a single work that was split in half (because it told two different stories), there are points raised in the text that are not resolved until the next.

The bad news is that two of its competitors are also Analog stories, each written by a friend of mine: Ed Lerner and Arlan Andrews. It would be an honor, as Teodorq might say, to defeat them! Those stories, too, along with a novella by Rajnar Vajra also nominated, can be found linked here.

Normally, Analog stories don't get the time of day from the usual block-voters, so it is interesting to find four Analogians on the ballot. While I have been nominated six times in the past, none of the other Analog nominees has ever been nominated. This year's Locus Recommended list contained only two short stories from Analog, both what we might call "edgy." However, three of the four did appear on Tangent's more inclusive list. However, perhaps because these lists are longer, have never been called "slates."

Monday, April 6, 2015

On the distinction between true and useful

Brandon provides on his blog the following parable:

The Parable of the Botanist

A botanist seeking a rare tree met two country people from whom he requested information. "There is one of those trees in this wood here," says the first. The other says to him, "Take the third path that you come to. Follow it for one hundred paces. You will be at the very foot of the tree you are seeking." The botanist takes the third path, he goes a hundred steps, but he does not reach the object of his quest. To touch the foot of the tree requires an additional five paces.
Of the two pieces of information that he received, the first was true and the second was false. Even so, which of the two country people has more right to his gratitude?
-- Pierre Duhem, "On the Subject of Experimental Physics," Essays in the History and
Philosophy of Science
, Ariew and Barker, eds. & trs. Hackett (Indianapolis: 1996), p. 110 

Meanwhile on a not unrelated issue...

 One might add that fiction is also much better when served the same way.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


"To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."
-- Thomas Jefferson, "Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom"

Like the Sun From Out the Wave

TOF has a certain fondness for the day, since he himself more or less rose on that occasion a couple years ago. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Now It Can Be Said!

Previously struggling under a gag order, TOF is today free to speak out!

Of course, the gag was utterly benign. TOF was to refrain from pronouncements and manifestos until all notifications had been made and either accepted or declined. But today what was hitherto occult is made manifest by public announcement.

Behold! I bring you tidings of great joy. The story "The Journeyman: In the Stone House" has been nominated for the Hugo Award. Huzzah! Or something.

Now, TOF is as fond as anyone of Teodorq sunna Nagarajan the Ironhand, but the nominated story is really the first half of a longer story the second half of which appeared as "The Journeyman: Against the Green." As such, it has a number of foreshadowings that are unrelieved until the second half. This might be accounted as a flaw, but the same might be said of single books from a series. So TOF is content to put the issue to the voters.

Of his two works appearing last year, TOF would have nominated the second, but there is no accounting for taste. TOF does not confuse his preferences with absolute standards of Truth and Beauty. It's an Honor Just to be Nominated™, but he has written stories in other years that he had thought more worthy of the honor, but which never made a blip on the Hugo radar, so go figure.

TOF does not expect to actually, you know, win. One of his previous nominations was more worthy of that than is this one. For one thing, it appeared in Analog and so has a strike against it, since the CONventional wisdom is to ignore stories from that venue. Besides, why break a streak.

Previous nominees, provided for reference, were:
  • 2007: Eifelheim (Tor) — novel 
  • 2007: “Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth” (Asimov's Oct/Nov 2006) — novelette 
  • 2005: “The Clapping Hands of God” (Analog Jul/Aug 2004) — novelette 
  • 1995: “Melodies of the Heart” (Analog Jan 1994) — novella 
  • 1988: “The Forest of Time” (Analog Jun 1987) — novella 
  • 1987: “Eifelheim” (Analog Nov 1986) — novella — nomination

TOF understands that there was some hoo-hah among the cognoscenti, though he is not especially attuned to such matters. Apparently, some folks had put together a recommended list and urged people to read the stories on it and, if they thought the stories good, to nominate them. This struck some other folks as horrifyingly democratic and they much preferred that nominations go to stories that they liked. (One commenter actually said this!) I think that is how democracy actually works.

Anyone from the outside world (should they even become aware of such things as Hugos) would suspect that those in the first group were liberals, since liberals always seek to extend the franchise, and those in the second group are conservatives, since as all men know they seek to confine the franchise to a small elite group of property-owners or SMOFs or whatever.  Oddly enough, they would be wrong.¹ In the Good Old Days, the privilege of Hugo nominating was restricted to those with the means to attend the Worldcon -- the Hugo awards are the creature of Worldcon. One could pay a fee to become a "supporting member," eligible to cast a ballot without actually showing up -- equivalent in effect to a hefty poll tax -- and save the expense of a hotel room and plane ticket.  (All those who decided to nominate based on the urgings of some group or other still had to purchase the right to do so.)

One group of suggestions was put forth by folks complaining that insider elites were logrolling votes on works regardless of their merits as stories. In response, a trufan announced that he will categorically vote for No Award above any nominee from that list regardless of merit, a strange sort of rebuttal when TOF thinks on't, and he would do so without actually reading the stories so condemned. Back in the Sixties, we had a word for the categorical condemnation of an entire group sight unseen.
Not at our con, you don't!

 Part of the prejudice seems to be the resentment of fans for readers. The latter have habitually not attended cons or engaged in fannish activity, and so their intrusion into the process has excited the usual resentments of a contented neighborhood for outside agitators coming in and wanting to buy houses on their block, driving down the property values. In fact, this may explain in part the old disregard of Analog: surveys back in the day revealed Analog readers to average somewhat older than readers of other major mags, and many of them were employed in engineering and other technical fields. They seldom attended conventions. So it goes.

TOF has now seen the entire list, and astonishingly enough a fair number of Analog stories made it on this year! As well as several friends and acquaintances. Alas, three of the other four novelette nominees are friends, and two of them were Analog stories. Here are the professional writing nominees.

BEST NOVEL (1827 ballots)
  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos (47North)
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher (Roc Books)

BEST NOVELLA (1083 ballots)
  • Big Boys Don’t Cry by Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
  • “Flow” by Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, Nov 2014)
  • One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “Pale Realms of Shade” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “The Plural of Helen of Troy” by John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)

BEST NOVELETTE (1031 ballots)
  • “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, May 2014)
  • “Championship B’tok” by Edward M Lerner (Analog, Sept 2014)
  • “The Journeyman: In the Stone House” by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, June 2014) woo-hoo
  • “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” by Rajnar Vajra (Analog, Jul/Aug 2014)
  • “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)

SHORT STORY (1174 ballots)
  • “Goodnight Stars” by Annie Bellet (The End is Now (Apocalypse Triptych Book 2), Broad Reach Publishing)
  • “On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, Nov 2014)
  • “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “Totaled” by Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge magazine, July 2014)
  • “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)

Friday, April 3, 2015


Note, TOF was into books even then....