Blurbs and Buzz for Half-Resurrection Blues

Half-Resurrection Blues is the first book in the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, a prequel to the collection Salsa Nocturna: Stories.

“Carlos is a winning protagonist, with a murky past, troubled present, and smart, smart-ass narrative voice. Older’s magical New York City is fresh and richly envisioned, a gritty and genuine urban setting rife with strange forces and thoroughly enlivened by the fixers, dealers, and supernatural creatures who inhabit it. Fans of urban fantasy will greatly enjoy this entirely lively novel.” ~Publishers Weekly

“Older brings us a fresh take on the urban fantasy genre in this absorbing tale of a half-dead, half-living hero. With a unique character in Carlos and the mixed world of living and dead beings that Carlos inhabits, Older balances flavor and colorful writing with a well-crafted, inventive plot. All of the side characters — including the dead ones! — surrounding Carlos and their amusing banter only add to this entertaining story.”  ~Romantic Times

“Half-Resurrection Blues is so many things at once: a mystery, a suspense, a supernatural thriller. The world Older builds is familiar and alien, and it’s so vividly imagined and rendered that the reader believes the contradictions, embraces them, loves this world of ghosts, demons, magic workers, and half-alive men and women. This is a fantastic beginning to what will surely be a fantastic series.” ~Jesmyn Ward, National Book Award winning author of Salvage the Bones

“In Half Resurrection Blues, Older has created Noir for the Now; equal parts bracing, poignant, compassionate and eerie. A swinging blues indeed.” ~Nalo Hopkinson, World Fantasy Award winning author of Sister Mine

“Simply put, Daniel José Older has one of the most refreshing voices in genre fiction today.” ~Saladin Ahmed, author of Throne of the Crescent Moon

“Daniel Jose-Older is here to save your soul. But he might just terrorize it first. Half-Resurrection Blues is the first novel of a fabulous talent, one who mixes the spectral and the intellectual with skill. This book is smart and gripping, funny and insightful. It kicks in the door waving the literary .44. Be warned, this man is not playing.” ~Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver

“Daniel José Older is a genre unto himself— never has a story of the half-dead sizzled with so much life. Half-Resurrection Blues is part spooky, part noir, with humor always around the corner as Older’s half-dead investigator lays bare the human—and not so human–condition. This is the book you’ve been looking for you didn’t even know existed.” ~Tananarive Due, American Book Award winning author of The Living Blood

“Half-Resurrection Blues is not just a daring new mode of ghost detective story, it’s also a courageous effort to celebrate the diverse voices that surround us. This is the New York of Puerto Ricans, Trinis, Haitians, and Yemenis. These are the people who don’t make it into the movies, playing out their lives with agency in a riveting tale. And everyone must band together to stop the malevolent spirits that haunt the world of the living.” ~Deji Bryce Olukotun

“All the best dark urban fantasies are about matters of life and death. Half Resurrection Blues takes that to the limit. A hard core, hard driving fantasy, following the adventures of a most singular man who is both dead and alive, and tasked with solving the problems of the dead and the living and everything in between. Except of course, nothing is ever that simple. Daniel Jose Older takes aim at a whole bunch of familiar targets, and hits them hard in new and interesting ways.” ~New York Times bestselling author Simon R. Green

Half-Resurrection Blues is a delicious urban fantasy paced like a thriller and scored like a fine piece of music. Daniel José Older hits all the soft, sweet notes of Brooklyn as well as its hard edges, its bleak beauty, its hopeful majesty and shadowy mystery. Older’s prose is rich with the cultural idioms of New York City. He crafts a driving plot full of wisdom and surprise. He creates a carnival of memorable characters—sweet lovers, assassins, EMT’s, chilling monsters and masquerades, lost souls, spirit doctors,  real estate agents, hipsters, and soul catchers! Of course the stakes are high. We’re at the crossroads and the future hangs in the balance. A thoroughly enjoyable ghost noire, Half-Resurrection Blues will make you shiver and squeal, holler and shout.” ~Andrea Hairston, TipTree Award winning author of Redwood and Wildfire

“Older’s spectral noir is as real as fresh blood and as hard as its New York streets. A Lou Reed song sung with a knife to your throat.” ~New York Times Bestselling author ­Richard Kadrey

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Awards Eligibility Page 2014!

Anyway-AngieRose Fox’s excellent eligibility page for Long Hidden inspired me to make one for my own work (and provided some useful resources).

My three published short stories this year are:

Anyway: Angie at Tor.com

Animal at Nightmare Magazine

Dust at Lightspeed Magazine

They’re all under 7,000 words and eligible for the following award categories:

* Hugo Award, Short Story
* Nebula Award, Short Story
* Locus Award, Short Story
* World Fantasy Award, Short Fiction
* Stoker Award, Short Fiction (Anyway:Angie and Animal)
* British Fantasy Award, Short Fiction
* Tiptree Award

These essays of mine are eligible for some Related Work awards:

One Hundred Years of Weird Fear: On HP Lovecraft’s Literature of Genealogical Terror at Buzzfeed Books

Whitewashed TV isn’t just racist, it’s boring at Salon

Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing at Buzzfeed Books

12 Fundamentals of Writing “the Other” (and the Self) at Buzzfeed Books

 

Long Hidden, which I co-edited with Rose Fox, is eligible for:

* Hugo Award, Related Work
* World Fantasy Award, Anthology
* Stoker Award, Anthology
* Locus Award, Anthology
Rose & Bay Award, Fiction
* Goodreads Choice Award, Fantasy
* Tiptree Award

 

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New York Comic Con Schedule

Thursday, October 9

8:00-8:45 PM: GEEKS OF COLOR GO PRO – WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY (1A18)
How can fans of color become successful Creators? Experienced pros in TV, publishing, comic books, gaming, and pop culture journalism offer their advice. With LeSean Thomas (BLACK DYNAMITE: THE ANIMATED SERIES; THE LEGEND OF KORRA; THE BOONDOCKS), Tracey J. John (MTV.com; Gameloft), Alice Meichi Li (Dark Horse), Daniel Jose Older (Half-Resurrection Blues); Jennifer Crute (Jennifer’s Journal) & I.W. Gregorio (Author, #WeNeedDiverseBooks). Moderated by Diana Pho (Tor Books).

Friday, October 10

11:00 – 12:00 PM: DANIEL JOSE OLDER & AMBER BENSON / PENGUIN BOOTH SIGNING (#2108)
Daniel Jose Older will sign copies of Half-Resurrection Blues.

Saturday, October 11

12:00-12:45 PM: THESE ARE MY PEOPLE/ALIENS/ZOMBIES/VAMPIRES/DRAGONS! – BUILDING COMMUNITY IN THE SCI-FI/FANTASY WORLD (1A18)
Military fantasies, space operas, post-apocalyptic SF, a graphic novel about frogs penned by a former professional football player—if you build it, they will come. Richard Kadrey (The Getaway God), Daniel Jose Older (Half-Resurrection Blues), Jerzy Drozd (The Warren Commission Report), Sanford Greene (Kulipari), N.K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Arwen Elys Dayton (Seeker), Nicholas Sansbury Smith (Orbs) and moderator Petra Mayer (NPR Books) discuss finding and building a SF/F World audience.
Autographing: 1:00 – 2:00 PM (Table 19)

3:00 – 4:00 PM: DANIEL JOSE OLDER & AMBER BENSON / PENGUIN BOOTH SIGNING (#2108)
Daniel Jose Older will sign copies of Half-Resurrection Blues.

8:00 – 10:00 PM: PENGUIN PARTY
Bongo NYC
395 West Street
New York, NY 10014

On Butler and Lovecraft: A Response

Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi posted a rebuttal to my petition to change the World Fantasy Award statue to Octavia Butler and I want to respond to a few points in it. Joshi begins by dismissing my claim that Lovecraft was a terrible craftsman: “I believe it is now sufficiently well established that Lovecraft was in fact one of the great prose stylists of the English language.” I was surprised to read that statement because I’ve never seen anyone praise Lovecraft for his prose. Even his fans admit he’s a pretty wretched wordsmith, an overwriter. And while one can certainly overwrite and make it worthwhile to the reader – Poe for instance, who Lovecraft admired, was a helluvan overwriter – Lovecraft’s constant strings of adjectives and adverbs were both arhythmic and redundant. Butler on the other hand, came with curt, careful sentences that told us exactly what we needed to know. Her economy of prose was precise, confident, sharp.

And let’s discuss character and storycraft, since all of these come into play within the larger question of craft. Lovecraft peopled his stories with a slew of mostly middle-aged white men with the emotional bandwidth of hamsters; they felt uneasy, terrified…anguished. And that’s about it. They were intellectuals and sometimes random townsfolk, but not much else. They ran for their lives, occasionally fought off giant monsters, did some research. They existed primarily as a foil for the comparatively well-developed creatures. Butler’s characters were, in a word, alive. They struggled, loved, laughed, cried and we cried with them, for all their chaotic flaws and desperation. They were people we knew, people we’ve loved and hated.

Lovecraft’s stories often weren’t even stories, just ideas floating glumly along through paragraph after paragraph of wordiness. The ones that do have an actual plot tended to be scattered and leave us wondering why: Why should we care about the character? Why was the story even written? What…even…happened? Butler’s narratives brought us deftly along through the treacherous highs and lows of each protagonist’s struggles with a complicated array of power imbalances. She showed us many forms of violence and survival. The internal and external conflicts blend seamlessly and force us to interrogate our own relationship to power and privilege, all while avoiding simple didacticism or preaching. Butler gave great story.

Finally, Joshi raises the point that Butler wrote science fiction, not fantasy. Lovecraft wrote mostly about beings from outer space and other dimensions that infringed on this world. He’s considered a father more of the subgenre weird fiction than fantasy. His tale The Horror at Red Hook could be considered a precursor to the still-gentrified category of urban fantasy, but he wrote more science fiction-tinged  horror than fantasy. Butler did write science fiction. And she wrote about immortal shapeshifters, vampires, time travel, humans with magic powers. She wrote fantasy and horror. She influenced a generation of fantasy and horror writers. And anyone who hasn’t figured out that genre is a messy slipstream with no clear borders isn’t paying attention.

Mr. Joshi spends the majority of his essay arguing against a point that I never raised – the idea that Lovecraft’s race and gender somehow disqualify him. Joshi also wonders aloud why no one gets mad about Lovecraft’s atheism, as it was “equally obnoxious” to his virulent racism. Neither point merits a response, except to say that their inclusion in the post makes painfully clear the need for writers and scholars alike to do our homework when it comes to race, gender and power, lest we one day want to say something about them and not sound desperately ridiculous. Of course, it’s easy to make up points to argue against, which explains why Mr. Joshi so quickly swept past the crucial question of craft.

I absolutely don’t think someone as hateful as HP Lovecraft should hold such a symbolic place in the genre. Beyond that though, it matters that his writing suffered for it. His already stale protagonists defended themselves from sweltering masses of dull clichés: the same stupid, evil brown and black folks that white writers have been conjuring up for centuries to justify imperialism and institutional racism. A craft failure and human failure of epic proportions.

We can appreciate Lovecraft’s worldbuilding brilliance and imagination and still see him for what he was: a hateful human and a crappy wordsmith. And we can embrace a writer that changed the genre with the depth of her humanity, the sharpness of her power analysis, the ferocity of her words and stories. Let’s do what our genre asks of us and imagine this world the way it could possibly be while being honest about the way it is.

Butler Lovecraft