Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New anthology, soon-to-be-new book

WE THINK, THEREFORE WE ARE


Somehow I neglected to mention that Pete Crowther's anthology of stories centered around artificial intelligence(Penguin/DAW) is out, including--oddly enough--a story by me. Note the interesting male-to-female numbers here.
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Contents:
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“Tempest 43″ by Stephen Baxter
“The Highway Code” by Brian Stableford
“Savlage Rights” by Eric Brown
“The Kamikaze Code” by James Lovegove
“Adam Robots” by Adam Roberts
“Seeds” by Tony Ballantyne
“Lost Places of the Earth” by Steven Utley
“The Chinese Room” by Marly Youmans
“Three Princesses” by Robert Reed
“The New Cyberiad” by Paul Di Filippo
“That Laugh” by Patrick O’Leary
“Alles in Ordnung” by Garry Kilworth
“Sweats” by Keith Brooke
“Some Fast Thinking Needed” by Ian Watson
“Dragon King of the Eastern Sea” by Chris Roberson
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Harriet Klausner, who is surely the quickest and most prolific reviewer on the face of the planet, already has a review and notes, "the compilation is superb as the authors contribute diverse tales with some seemingly weird like Marly Youmans' 'The Chinese Room' adding depth and variety." "Weird," eh? This was the last thing I wrote during my Yaddo stay, and when I fired it off to Pete, he did mention something about it being just a bit different.
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For those of you who are allergic to artificial intelligence, it may comfort you to know that there are no robots whatsoever in "The Chinese Room," though there is a computer. There are midgets and ex-jockeys and general commotion. There are sausages in bed. There is childbirth. There is pent-up love from here to China.
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The story is based on the "Chinese Room" thought experiment of John Searle. As our friend Wiki says, "The Chinese Room argument comprises a thought experiment and associated arguments by John Searle (Searle 1980), which attempts to show that a symbol-processing machine like a computer can never be properly described as having a "mind" or "understanding", regardless of how intelligently it may behave." For more about the original Chinese room, go visit Wiki, right here.
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VAL/ORSON

“Flap copy” for spring’s book, Val/Orson, is up at last. As I am feeble and Milquetoastish when it comes to proper boasting, I enlisted help. And now the thing seems properly flappy and boastful. See here!
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The two limited editions (plain or signed and fancy, take your pick!) are available through the online catalogue at http://store.pspublishing.co.uk/. Thanks to bloggers and reviewers who have let me know they would like a pre-publication e-copy of the book to review or feature; if anyone else would like to sign on, write me or leave me a note here.

Catherynne Valente has written a lovely introduction as well, so that will go up some time closer to the spring pub date, along with a jacket image and other news.
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This book is also associated with publisher Pete Crowther because he and Nick Gevers were kind enough to ask for a short novel for their novella series (U.K.: P. S. Publishing). I love to be asked, as does every writer I know, and I love it when people read and like my work and want to see more. Thanks to both of them.
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CHILDHOOD & WRITING
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I was talking to my mother yesterday, and she mentioned that I knew in third grade that I was going to be a writer, and that it was perfectly clear to her what I would be. Interesting. I find that I have a rather soupish memory which renders much down to alphabet when I would like to have clear text.
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She was standing under the pear tree in our family home in Collins, Georgia. The blossoms were not quite open... This summer I canned pears off that tree. One of my childhood memories is of my Aunt Sara fishing a snake out of that tree with a hoe and killing it, chopchopchop.

17 comments:

  1. i'm far too worthless to attempt to review your work...but i am looking forward, eagerly, for spring and my own copy. i'm proud to say i pre-ordered my copy when you first announced its publication last year.

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  2. oops
    that was me, of course.
    yes, z is a bit too grounded these days
    heavy
    so that earthly name dropped down

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  3. V/Z,

    Worthless! Whatever could you mean?

    I am proud that you ordered a copy and will no doubt read at least part of it in your zephyr state, ensconsed in the garden.

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  4. Hi Marly, congrats on the Val-Orson coming out.

    And I want to tell you that I remember that the woman that you went to school with when you were young-I can't remember her name offhand but she wrote stories about her family and self published it-said that they always knew in school you were going to be a writer. I don't remember if she just told me that when we were talking or what, but apparently you've always had the desire and the gift.

    We admire you very much.

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  5. Wow the Chinese Room sounds awesome!!!!!!

    I dont get much time during school to read for fun, but this sounds like it will be a much needed gettaway!

    My childhood memories are soupy as well, I more remember specific things and sayings.

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  6. oh my!
    well
    what i meant to say was "i'm worthless at being a reviewer of books"...and this typo faux pas is just an example of how i muss up things.
    and
    to be honest
    i'm not the least bit confidant that i have the background to do your work justice.

    That's all i meant
    wasn't fishing around for anything.
    oh phew
    but then you know all about why this silly head of mine is drained.
    i thanked you over there...i love it that you can come up with those bits of poetry that strum just the right chord.

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  7. Donna,

    You mean Carrie Gates (NCCAT Program Director), who grew up in Little Canada and was the only genuine mountain girl that I knew really well. She is outrageously funny and remembers so much about me that I think that she knows more about me than I do. Among other things, she is an oral storyteller, and so the book you mention comes out of her tales. It is: Carmaletta Harris Gates, "Granny Stories: North Carolina Mountain Tales."

    And thanks...

    Miss O, Susannah,

    Well, I believe it might be classified as awesome, if only because of all those friendly midgets and jockeys!

    zephyr,

    No worry. It just sounded a little bleak. But perhaps that was because other things are a bit bleak.

    The thing that's interesting and special is that poetry can do that--strum the right chord, I mean.

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  8. Marly--That's funny, I was planning to google you or look you up on Amazon later today to see what you had written after Ingledove. And you'll never guess where I got my copy of Ingledove--RM sent it to me when I first started working with him. So now I can tell you directly: very cool book!

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  9. Oh, that is sweet--Robbie is pretty marvelous. Now I need to look you up and see (did you have a book with him? did you work with him? should I know this already? wholly murky) but I can't do it until tomorrow because this instant I have to go read Rowling to my youngest. He's reading Barron's Merlin series on his own but wants me to read the Potter books to him at bedtime. And he stays awake forever...

    After that I'm booked up into tomorrow afternoon but will then go and visit your other site. And then maybe I'll know all about your Robbie-link.

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  10. Yes, RM acquired and edited my first middle grade novel, a comic fantasy, but left before it was published. I now work with JO, but MF has the final say on acquiring my books. (I sound like an inept spy with all these initials!) Glad you liked the website, and thanks for the coomb allusion. I'll look for Val/Orson; oddly, I just ordered Nancy Eckholm Burkert's 1989 Valentine and Orson thanks to a Horn Book article about their special awards (in reference to Shaun Tan's recent award for his amazing book, The Arrival). Valentine and Orson was a past special award winner and just sounded intriguing, besides.

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  11. Burkert's book is lovely--I don't think it's as lovely as her "Snow White," but it's interesting: the whole play-within-a-book idea is curious in a picture book. I'm wondering if it influenced me because my book has a birthday frolic that is play-like.

    I'll have to visit your book blog more because you keep up better than I do. Since I tend to write in many different forms, I'm a bit more scatter-shot in my reading...

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  12. Hi Marly. The story--original and your take on it--sounds intriguing. I am totally broke, so no books for me, but I will keep my eye out for it at the library. SOmetimes I find your stuff there.

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  13. Robinka,

    Ask them to order the book--in many libraries, it only takes a request or two for a book to be ordered or to be put on a list for consideration. Say it verbally but also hand them a piece of paper with the book you want and the author, or even that plus a review. I think people don't understand that libraries like recommendations. My library is always asking me about books, and they've even asked me to help choose books (although I really haven't because I'm already over-volunteered) and be on the board (haven't done that either, also because I'm over-volunteered. Villages eat you alive with requests!)

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  14. "Seemingly weird"? I seem to remember hearing about Searle's thought experiment just the other day on NPR, but it was way over my head and I was in the middle of Atlanta traffic, so I couldn't follow it. Kudos to you for adding depth and variety to the collection.

    Thanks for checking on me over at SFD. It's smooth sailing lately as I've changed tack, beating steadily on.

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  15. Have you abandoned Cooperstown as a setting? I'll have to go take a look!

    No doubt I don't really understand it either... just pilfered what I needed.

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  16. An idealized Cooperstown without the fifedom and the baseball tourists. Though Cooperstown makes an appearance here and there, I can breathe much better in the new, nearby setting.

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  17. Yes, I tend to leave out the baseball tourists as well.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.