Archive for July, 2010

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Comic-Con: Or, Here’s Why I Didn’t Just Blog a Bunch of Times

I went to Comic-Con.

While I was there I had to blog a bunch of times for Techland, to justify their paying for me to go, plus make a couple of appearances for The Magicians.

Then I was also cramming research for a Time story I’m writing now, and trying to write The Magician King. That was enough without blogging here. Though I would have liked to have been blogging here.

If you’re curious what I would have said, you can pretty much read it in the form of these Techland posts:

The Guy Who Hates Comic-Con Goes to Comic-Con, Part I

The Guy Who Hates Comic-Con Goes to Comic-Con, Part II: Hope Kills

The Guy Who Hates Comic-Con Goes to Comic-Con, Part III: Stormtrooper House Party

The Guy Who Hates Comic-Con Goes to Comic-Con, Part IV: Adam Warlock Is Dead

The Guy Who Hates Comic-Con Goes to Comic-Con, Part V: They Are Sex Bob-omb

The Guy Who Hates Comic-Con Has Left Comic-Con

The Guy Who Hates Comic-Con: Oh My God Shut Up about Comic-Con Already

You might get from the titles of these posts that I have somewhat ambivalent feelings about Comic-Con. That is true.


Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I’m Off to Comic-Con

I have ambivalent feelings about Comic-Con. I tried to express them over at Techland. I don’t know if I succeeded.

Either way I leave for San Diego early tomorrow morning. Bad faith much? Yes. Bad faith much.

I have a panel at 10:30 on Thursday morning. This panel also has Amber Benson on it, if that’s any extra incentive to come. There’s a signing afterwards.

Also: as I walk buy zithromax 1 gram around the con, I’m going to have some Brakebills shirts with me. Here is your challenge: if you recognize me at the con, you can have one. Until I run out.

This will probably be like the Godfather thing, and I’ll never have to make good on it. But the offer stands. Stop me, mention the blog, and I will hand you a shirt.

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Why I Went to Harvard and Then Yale Part I

After I graduated from college I had a publishing internship for about three months. I was the worst intern in the world. I have a truly humiliating proof of this, but fortunately this introductory paragraph is too brief to contain it.

About the only thing I learned during my short career in publishing — besides that I sucked at publishing — was that the trade lingo for the About the Author page is the “Ab Au.” (Pronounced “ab aw.”)

(Though I’ve never heard anybody actually say that besides the one editor who told me about it. Now that I think about it it’s possible he was yanking my chain. I was “that” intern.)

I have long been aware that the only interesting thing in my personal Ab Au is the weird fact that I went to both Harvard and Yale.

And it is weird. The other day I was watching the trailer for The Social Network, that movie about the founding of Facebook, and I was watching the scenes where Mark Zuckerberg is at Harvard and thinking, wow, yeah, Harvard, I bet that was some heavy shit. And then I stopped and thought, waitaminnit, I went to Harvard!

And Yale. Why did that happen?


Friday, July 16th, 2010

Miscellaneous: Comic-Con, Bestseller List, Hoth, Etc.

— I’ll be at Comic-Con next week. The only places I will be easily findable will be at my panel, which is on Thursday morning at 10:30, and at a signing directly afterwards. At all other times both my position and my momentum will be uncertain. (Also, like Schrödinger’s cat, I will be both alive and dead.) But if you’re there and you spot me, say hi. I’ll have a small but non-zero number of Brakebills t-shirts to give away at the con. Mention this blog!

— In September I’ll be at the Decatur Book Festival in Georgia, and, that same weekend, in that same state, with a little bit of luck, I’ll be at DragonCon. (The Decatur Festival lists the title of my first novel as Wrap, which maybe wouldn’t have been a bad idea.)

— I have a gorgeous full-size blow-up of this Hoth travel poster on my wall, thanks to a generous fan:


Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

With This Sinclair ZX81 I Will Conquer the Galaxy

Writing that post about Gödel Escher Bach got me interested in, for lack of a better way of putting it, the archaeology of American nerdiness.

Archaeology is not an exact science — it does not deal in time tables! — but yesterday I was moving a box of books up to the spare room, because the shelves in “my study”* give out at the P’s and this box contained the Z’s. As such it was mostly full of Zelazny novels, with a soupçon of Zola left over from college.

But it also contained this artifact:

This is the programming manual for the first home computer my family ever owned. Which looked like this:

This is a beautiful piece of photography, as it shows off perfectly the crap grainy plastic of the case, the crap membrane keyboard of the ZX81, and the perfect period crap wood-grain coffee table that often supported ZX81’s, and is their natural habitat.


Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Gödel Escher Bach: An Endless Geek Bible

I’m too short on sleep to work on my book and too wired to take a nap. So let us speak instead of Douglas Hofstadter.

In 1979 Hofstadter — a 34-year-old professor of computer science at Indiana University — published a book called Gödel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid which won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. If you haven’t read it — though if you’re reading this blog chances are not-bad that you have — it’s a playful, wildly interdisciplinary argument-slash-fantasia about three radical thinkers and how their work relates to the nature of human consciousness.

My sister was just old enough in 1979 (she was 14) to bring Gödel Escher Bach into our house and obliquely signal its importance to me and my brother by leaving it lying around and making strange coded-sounding references to it in conversation.

My brother and I subsequently read it and became infected with the GEB virus. It altered our intellectual DNA forever.

In fact I’d go so far as to suppose — how would you prove it? — that GEB reconfigured the brains of an entire generation of power nerds who are now grown up and doing interesting shit. As famous as it is I’m willing to bet its influence is still way underestimated. It’s the secret nerd bible of my generation.


Monday, July 5th, 2010

The Paris Review Asked Me a Good Question

Lorin Stein at The Paris Review asked me and Laura Miller what we would give a non-literary 13-year-old to show them the kind of weird, excellent stuff novels can do.

Our answers are here.

(The short version of my answer is, Cat’s Cradle and The Once and Future King.)

Monday, July 5th, 2010

And Now We Go to the Mattresses; or, Inspiration is a Total Myth, Probably

I recognize this part. This is the hard part. This is the part where we go to the mattresses.

And it’s not just because we hit Bruno Tattaglia at four o’clock this morning.

Sometimes I wonder if my life is incorrectly configured for what I’m trying to do with it. For example: I want to finish The Magician King by the end of September.

But: I have a full-time job and a new baby.

New babies have to be fed, changed, napped, played with, etc. on a three-to-four-hour cycle. (This may be because they’re actually an alien race that evolved on a fast-spinning planetoid, and this is their natural day-night cycle. Tell the President … )

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Son of Bride of Housekeeping Notes: Charlie Rose, the Times List

1. My Brakebills shirt arrived today. Where’s yours? Where is it?

2. Today I got an e-mail from Charlie Rose’s producer asking me to come on and talk about this summer’s books.

I hated to leave Sophie and Halcyon (Hally? Hallie? Not sure yet.) But jeez, I’ve always wanted to be on that show. I’ve even been booked a couple of times, but I always got bumped. Not this time.

I had an hour and a half to get ready. I took a shower, shaved my head, put on clothes (the theme of my outfit was: I am awake and alert and not the father of a newborn baby) and grabbed a taxi.