Monday, April 28, 2008

Tribute to Michael Moorcock

As mentioned in my previous post, I had the honor of presenting a tribute speech for Michael Moorcock before he was officially named the 25th Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Writers of America this past Saturday night. The phrase "With A Little Help From My Friends" definitely comes to mind. Many thanks to Neil Gaiman, Chris Roberson, Jeff Vandermeer, Jeffrey Ford, China Mieville, and Alan Moore for their contributions which were all composed from the heart within a few days of the ceremony. Here are my words and their words (minus all of my ad-libs), for those that weren't there:

"When I first heard that I'd be here celebrating Mike's Grandmaster Award, I was thrilled. And then came the horror...the realization that in the span of a few minutes, I'd have to do justice to one of the greatest writing careers we've ever known. Daunting, to say the least.

We can talk about Elric, one of the most popular creations in the history of fantasy, first published when Mike was barely 22 years old. We can talk about the Multiverse...Jerry Cornelius...the Eternal Champion...MOTHER LONDON...Hawkmoon...BEHOLD THE MAN...GLORIANA...THE CONDITION OF MUZAK...THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE. What about Mike's legendary ability to craft classic novels in a mere weekend so he could pay his NEW WORLDS printing bills? How about a lifetime of awards heavy enough to crack a house foundation...a 1967 Nebula Award for BEHOLD THE MAN; his shelf full of British Fantasy Awards; the John W. Campbell Memorial Award; the World Fantasy Award; the Guardian Fiction Award; the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award; the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award; his 2002 induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame...we can do this all night long, can't we? Michael Moorcock is, quite simply, a living legend. Period. And one who despises being called such, because he's still vital, still rebellious, still questioning...still writing. He keeps going, which brings us to the present.

We're here to celebrate Mike's recognition amongst the Grandmasters of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Heinlein, Leiber, Clarke, Bradbury, Del Rey, Pohl, Knight...a few of the names inscribed up on SFWA's Mount Olympus. Here's the part that'll make you dizzy though -- many great writers are measured by what came before them, but Mike's greatness continues to be measured by what has come after him. I'm not talking about his legendary Multiverse of characters and stories, but a multiverse of writers, artists, and creators worldwide that have either had their careers single-handedly launched by Mike, or been directly influenced by him at a primal level. That goes for many of you in this room, including myself, and I daresay, that includes some of tonight's nominees and winners.

So here's what we're gonna recent days, I contacted a few friends and a few heroes. I asked them for their brief thoughts on tonight's occasion and I'm going to share a few of them with you right now.

Our first message is from the author of AMERICAN GODS, the 2002 Nebula Award Winner for Best Novel -- Neil Gaiman.

Neil -- "Mike Moorcock changed the inside of my head. I read STORMBRINGER when I was nine, and that was pretty much that. My pocket money went on Moorcock books -- which were gloriously being issued and reissued back then -- and I read them and took what I could from them. It's not long until you have a multiverse in your twelve-year-old mind, and you learn that every hero is the Eternal Champion, and suddenly you're puzzling over Jerry Cornelius stories, with your head going places it hasn't gone before.

When people ask me about my influences, I tend to forget Mike, much in the way that people listing the things that were important to them growing up, fail to list the earth, the air, and sunlight. He taught me that high culture and low culture were simply points of view, and that what mattered was the writing. His influence as an editor still reverberates today. We're lucky to have him."

Our next contributor is an author, an editor, and a publisher -- all award-winning, sometimes all in the same day. He's a Sidewise Award winner and one-half of MonkeyBrain Books -- Chris Roberson.

Chris -- "I was never quite the same after discovering the novels of Michael Moorcock in my suburban high school library. Elric, Cornelius, Bastable, and the rest of the multiversal gang expanded my brain into dimensions that I didn't even know existed. I wasn't the first to fall under his spell, and I won't be the last. As writer and editor Moorcock has changed the nature of fantasy itself, expanding the definition of what fantastic literature is, and the uses to which it can be put. He is the brightest light in my own personal constellation of influences and inspirations, and I continue to labor in his shadow."

Our next author has won two World Fantasy Awards and is the author of the brilliant CITY OF SAINTS AND MADMEN, as well as the proud co-editor of THE NEW WEIRD -- Jeff Vandermeer.

Jeff -- "Mike Moorcock is quite simply the most creative and most generous person I've ever met. It's Mike I think of whenever I'm approached by a new writer for help with something, because he embodies the idea of 'paying it forward'. He has also been an enormous influence in both the variety and the quality of his fiction, and his various editing projects. I admire his restless curiosity, his sense of humor, and his sense of perspective. It's been one of the great pleasures and honors of my life to know him. If only he could break his addiction to squid..."

Three down, three to go. Our next author is a four-time World Fantasy Award winner; a 2004 Nebula Award winner for "The Empire of Ice Cream"; and his latest novel is called THE SHADOW YEAR -- Jeffrey Ford.

Jeff -- "Every time I read a new slice of Mike's enormous fictional output, I'm inspired by the work's variety of style and form; its unbounded freedom of expression; it's ability to find the profound in pulp, and to dismantle the bureaucracy of literature with a capital L; its astute politics; and its cosmic sense of humor. His creative talent is truly a multi-verse. What's impressed me even more than his fiction, though, is Mike himself -- affable, generous, and an unerring failure to stand on ceremony. Right now, I can picture him rolling his eyes at my testimonial. Congratulations, Mike."

Our next message is from an author who, much like Mike, is never shy about defending what he thinks is right. He's a multiple Hugo Award nominee and the author of PERDIDO STREET STATION, a 2002 Nebula Award finalist -- China Mieville.

China -- "'Grandmaster' is inadequate. Moorcock is the monarchomach, the sensei of dissident fantasy. Mad skills, pirate prose, ninja critique. We deserve a lot, but we only just, on our best days, deserve him. Where there are rules he brings righteous chaos, for which all we can do is give our profound thanks, we who are fortunate enough to have our souls sucked out by his evil crooning typewriter forged from black metal, we who read sitting on the toppled idols he leaves behind, the rubble of genre left by his awesome paraliterary rampage, breakfasting gratefully among the ruins."

And finally, we have a few words from an author beloved by every creator I a fellow professional once said, 'We all worship him as a god, but at the end of the day, he bows to Moorcock.' The creator of WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, and THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN -- Alan Moore.

Alan -- "Michael Moorcock is a wonder of the world, a colossus of Brookgate straddling his ancient city in a sentence. He's a literary zeppelin commander who has never lost his faith in, nor completely left, the underground; the ultimate outsider just by virtue of his altitude above the herd. He scattered universes, planted movements, sowed the seeds of all the authors who came after him, like dragon's teeth. His intellect and his inventiveness are only equalled by his insight, by his great compassion. From the deadline-plagued pulp sweatshops of his origins to Mother London's dizzy pinnacles, Moorcock is the Eternal Writer."

Mike, you've more than earned this night. On behalf of myself and the legions of readers and creators that you've inspired, enlightened, and championed, we cheer you tonight and we cherish you forever. Our most rebellious, heart-felt thanks, and congratulations on becoming the 25th Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Writers of America.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Back home from the Nebs

(pictured above, L to R, back row: Kyrinn S. Eis; Chris Roberson; Sanford Nowlin; Linda Moorcock; Traci & me; foreground, seated: SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock) Good times with great people at the 2008 Nebula Awards Weekend in Austin this weekend. Quality time with the Moorcocks, Chris Roberson, Joe Lansdale, Diana Gill, Liza Trombi, Anne Sowards, John Denardo, Sanford Nowlin, Jayme Lynn Blaschke, Robin Wayne Bailey, Brad Denton, Steven Gould, and many more. Nebula Awards winners here, but the highlight of the weekend for me was Mike Moorcock being named the 25th Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Writers of America. I had the extreme honor of presenting a tribute speech to him and was thrilled just to be in the room when he received the recognition. I'll post some of my speech in an upcoming post. Hats off to FACT for putting on a well-run Nebula Awards Weekend. For now, here are some pics from the banquet night.

L to R: Bruce Sterling; Michael Chabon; Michael Moorcock

Jasmina & Bruce Sterling

Me, clearly possessed by the spirit of a certain ruby-eyed albino during my tribute speech to Michael Moorcock

Mike Moorcock becomes the 25th Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Writers of America

Joe R. Lansdale and his daughter Kasey

Thursday, April 24, 2008

2008 Locus Award Finalist!

Hey, wow!! Found out this morning that I'm a Locus Award finalist in the Artist category! Hurray! Full list of nominees here. Fellow nominees in the category include Stephan Martiniere, Shaun Tan, Charles Vess, and Michael Whelan. I'm honored to be in their company. Congrats to all nominees in all categories, and a quick shoutout to Dan Simmons and "Muse of Fire" which is one of the finalists for Best Novella. Congrats, Dan. As recently announced on Subterranean Press' website, I'll soon be illustrating the cover for a hardcover edition of "Muse of Fire."

See you at the Nebs

It's Nebula Awards Weekend, up in Austin this weekend. I'll be signing at Friday's Mass Autographing and I'll be one of the speakers at Saturday's awards banquet when Mike Moorcock is presented as the 2008 Grandmaster by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Other than that, I'll mostly be hanging out at the Omni's bar with people like Chris Roberson, Sanford Allen of Boxcar Satan, Jayme Lynn Blaschke, and any number of other young ruffians. If you're around, drop by and join us.

Saving Emru Townsend

Emru Townsend is fighting for his life, and here's how we can help him. Emru's been diagnosed with leukemia and a condition known as monosomy 7. What this means is he needs a bone-marrow transplant in order to live. He and his family are actively seeking a donor match and their website is smart, with good explanations and great info about how to help Emru, and anyone else who may be in a similar situation. Tamu Townsend, Emru's sister, is one of the committee folks for Montreal's 2009 Worldcon, and Emru is a noted animation and technology writer, as well as the founding editor of Frames Per Second Magazine.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jeffrey Ford at Joseph Mallozzi's

Readers of Joseph Mallozzi's mega-popular blog are currently discussing Jeffrey Ford's THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM. Check it out. Looks like Jeff is also offering Mallozzi's audience a chance to help him create a short story. Ballsy! And it also looks like EMPIRE is getting ready to completely sell out (THE FANTASY WRITER'S ASSISTANT already has), so if you don't own a copy yet, don't wait around. :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

SON OF MAN / The Final Art!

Crazy, intense deadline crunches over's one of my finished results. Presenting the final cover of Robert Silverberg's classic SON OF MAN, forthcoming in a fresh, new trade paperback from Pyr later this year. Below is the complete wraparound art, sans typography (and the prelims are here.) If you're not familiar with this novel, it's one of the trippiest books you'll ever encounter and for many Silverberg fans, one of his finest works to date. For whatever reason, I listened to Hendrix's ELECTRIC LADYLAND over and over this week while working on this. It just felt right.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Remembering Jamie

It's getting late here after a long day, and it's gonna be a long night of work ahead. Still, I can't let this day pass without remembering Jamie Bishop. Virginia Tech dedicated today to the memory of those who passed in last year's tragedy, and Jamie was one of them. I never knew Jamie. We never met. He was a fellow cover illustrator for Golden Gryphon Press and his father was the sf author Michael Bishop. Fragile as those connections are, they were enough to really hit home with me as an sf illustrator myself. The single thing I will always associate with Jamie's memory will not be the Virginia Tech events, but this headline about him in a Roanoke newspaper: "Jamie Bishop: He talked about changing the world with art." I think about that on nights like tonight when I've got tight deadlines and the pressure's on. Here's to you, Jamie.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

SON OF MAN / Preliminary Work

Wow, I've been absent here for a while....a full two weeks. Definitely not a vacation, I can assure you. Been working on a ton of cover work and because of some intense deadlines, I've needed to stay focused on the art. I'll start to unveil some of my new work in the coming days. If the above post looks like a deja vu, that's because it was previously previewed on this blog. It's the rough sketch of my proposed wraparound cover illustration for Robert Silverberg's classic SON OF MAN, which will be a Pyr trade paperback release later this year. I'm showing it again, so you can compare it to the full pencils below, seen here for the first time. 14"x21". Pencil on cold-press Crescent illustration board.
I'm finishing the final color art for this right now, and I'll hopefully unveil it tomorrow (fingers crossed).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A+ for ELRIC!

Thanks to my pal Jeff Lucas for giving me the heads-up on this. Check out pg. 76 of the April issue of SCI FI MAGAZINE where Adam-Troy Castro offers an awesome review of ELRIC: THE STEALER OF SOULS and a brief sidebar interview with the Grandmaster himself, Michael Moorcock. SCI FI rates the book an A+!! Can't beat that.... :)