The World SF Blog

Speculative Fiction from Around the World

Guy Hasson’s The Emoticon Generation Released

Israeli author Guy Hasson‘s new collection has just been published by Infinity Plus Books.

The Emoticon Generation

Guy Hasson’s The Emoticon Generation features seven stories about life-changes brought about by our new electronic generation: stories that blur the borders between our world and science fiction, stories that make you ask, ‘Has this already happened? Is that actually true?’

In this collection you’ll find a man who, after losing his fiancée to a terrible accident, seeks to learn if true love really exists; a girl, hardly a teen, who searches for her father only to learn a terrible truth about herself; a man who wants to immortalize his genius but ends up tricking himself out of it; an old hero whose entire life unravels when the truth about his heroic act is revealed; a harmless birthday gift that triggers a profound search into the depths of a young couple’s relationship; and more.

Guy Hasson is one of the freshest new science fiction authors out there, with a knack for finding the human heart in the biggest ideas.

“Hasson has a scalpel-sharp intellect which, allied to great ideas and a superb story-telling ability, makes for a wonderfully entertaining collection.” –Eric Brown

“Guy Hasson writes with a deceptive smoothness, in the assured hand of an Old Master, and with a deep concern for the big questions of science fiction. You need to read him.” –Lavie Tidhar, World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel 2012

The collection is available in kindle  and other e-book formats.

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Comments Off

Short Story Highlight: “A Good Ending” by Guy Hasson (Israel)

Over at InterNova there’s a new story by Israeli author Guy Hasson, A Good Ending:

This story has a good ending.

Well… for the bureaucrat.

**********

Once upon a time, in a country far, far away, there lived a bureaucrat. And the bureaucrat’s son, who was six at the time of this story, had very bad dreams. The bureaucrat’s son used to wake up in the middle of the night shouting, his heart pounding, his breath short. The son would run to his mother, the teacher, and his father, the bureaucrat, and they would hug him and tell him it was just a dream and that everything was all right.

This was not a problem specific to the bureaucrat’s son.

Many children had nightmares. Many adults had nightmares, as well. Although adults could more easily wake up and tell themselves that they had only been dreaming, and that none of it had been real. In fact, adults sometimes decided that, since it was only a dream, they would try to re-enter the dream and bring about a better ending.

This did not always work. Dreams are hard to control.

Well… dreams were hard to control.

But it is not yet time to tell you about that.

**********

On the night that our story begins two important things happened: the bureaucrat’s son had another dream and the bureaucrat received a phone call. – continue reading.

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off

Five Continent Reading in Second Life

Michael Iwoleit got in touch recently to tell us of an incredibly cool thing he’s organising – a virtual book reading in the world of Second Life, by 5 science fiction authors each from a different continent!

Michael writes:

On May 5th an event will take place in Thorsten Küper’s and Kirsten Riehl’s steampunk location Kafé Kruemelkram that may be unique in the history of the 3d Internet world Second Life: Five science fiction writers from five continents, all writing in English, will read from their works live. The invited writers are:

For Asia: Guy Hasson (Israel)
For Africa: Jonathan Elorm Dotse (Ghana)
For Europe: Michael K. Iwoleit (Germany)
For South America: Gustavo Bondoni (Argentina)
For North America: Ahmed A. Khan (Canada)

For further information please refer to Michael K. Iwoleit’s homepage (iwoleit.wordpress.com – in English) or Thorsten Küper’s blog (kueperpunk.blogspot.de – in German).

April 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

And the winners are!

We had two copies of Guy Hasson’s Secret Thoughts to give away this week – and the winners are:

Prezzey and Susanna.

An e-mail has been sent to the winners.

Thanks once again for participating!

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Comments Off

Guest Post: Science Fiction Can Be Glorious Again, by Guy Hasson (Author Week #2)

SF Can Be Glorious Again

by Guy Hasson

When you write articles like this one you have to be respectable. You’re an author, after all.

I’ve written many articles in the weeks leading to the release of Secret Thoughts, my new book, and they’ve all been respectable, respectful, and mindful. The more I wrote them, though, the more I realized there are things I want to say and won’t, for fear of the fans’ reactions.

If I had the courage, I’d write them. But I don’t, so I won’t.

Still, if I did, the article I’d never write would look something like this:

Article Name: SF Can Be Glorious Again

Every so often an article appears, in which someone claims that SF is dead. SF, of course, is far from dead, and any genre can’t be truly dead, certainly not one that speaks about the future. After all, we have an unlimited supply of future to draw from.

Although SF is not dead and quite a bit of it is good, it lacks the glory it used to have. Here are the main reasons why:

Science Fiction Today Is Mostly Non-Inclusive

Though SF was always read by few, it was meant for all. Once upon a time, when SF was great and influential, most of the authors would write their books as if ‘regular’ people would read them. You didn’t need knowledge in physics or math to read them, you didn’t need to read ten other books about the world the author has built in order to read them, and you didn’t even need have knowledge in games, mythical monsters, or any other subject.

Today, SF books are written for SF fans who already have foreknowledge in SF matters. SF books are written knowing what SF fans like. The books are catered to those desires, while making almost no effort to bring the content of the books closer to the ‘regular’ people, the ones who fear to approach SF.

As more and more genres of SF crop up (weird ones, urban ones, zombie ones, etc.), they appeal to a specific and loyal group of readers, but most people outside the group wouldn’t know how to approach reading these books, how to connect with them, or how to enjoy them. SF has splintered into non-inclusive genres and the rest of the world remains outside, not even wanting to look in.

When you alienate most ‘regular’ readers, you make it impossible to be influential. Which brings us to the next point.

Science Fiction Is No Longer Influential

Science fiction used to be influential. It used to move mountains. It used to bring dreams to little kids who would grow up to try and realize those dreams. It used to bring new ideas to science that would influence the world of science. It used to tackle social issues, global issues, and political issues by giving us visions of the future that would hit us in the gut and warn us of what was to come, unless we did something about it. SF was the place to raise issues ahead of its time, to bring ideas to the forefront, to dare the readers to think differently.

When has that happened lately?

SF should have satire and social commentary. SF should lead the charge in directions most are afraid to look at.

When has that happened lately?

Add to this the fact that SF almost on purpose does not appeal to a wide audience, and you’ve got the most relevant and influential art form of the 20th century degenerated into non-importance and irrelevance in the 21st.

Science Fiction Is No Longer Brave

Science fiction is no longer brave because the fans are no longer brave.

Not only did SF used to be the bravest literary form, but reading an SF book used to be a brave deed. After all, brave SF would challenge the readers’ assumptions about their lives. It would raise frightening possibilities. Most of all, when you picked up the newest SF book by your favorite author, you knew that you had no idea what would be in it. Starting to read that book was the scariest thing of all, because that book may change you and your world in a way you do not imagine.

That’s the past.

Today, SF fans are split into two: the ones looking for something brave, and the ones looking for more of the same. The latter group is the more prevalent one. It is comforting to re-experience the same thing over and over. It is comforting to re-enter the same world, to know that not too many things will change, and that nothing too extraordinary will happen. It is comforting to return to a familiar place that feels almost like a family: the same starship captain having more adventures; the same sorcerer going through the motions; the same sword-wielder wielding his sword once more. And every so often, something ‘big’ would happen: a main character would die (though maybe not for long?), and you would feel like the book has rocked your world. It hasn’t. It is a comforting book, not a book that challenges you and your beliefs from page one.

Today, most SF fans are looking for more of the same, seeking to be surprised only by new variations on a familiar theme.

The non-inclusive genres mentioned above seem, at first glance, to be threatening, strange, weird, and disconcerting. But then you recall that they appeal to an audience that seeks this same experience again and again and is disappointed when it doesn’t get it. It is the same phenomenon – genres that brings comfort by supplying variations on familiar themes.

SF Genres Are Killing the Glory of SF

Variations on familiar themes are at the very definition of a ‘genre’. The publishing industry depends on genres to survive. Readers know what genre each book is in, and so they are willing to pay good money for a book they haven’t read, because it will probably help them relive the same experience.

But SF is about being brave and different and new. The more authors stick to known genres, the more they write variations on themes, the more brave SF dies.

Think about the greatest SF books of the last century (and the few that came before). What genre were they? None. Most were called SF, but were never a sub-genre of SF. Some created genres, but none were written in a genre that existed before.

In Conclusion

SF is neither dead nor dying. It is currently losing the glory it once had and the wondrous, glorious feelings it used to convey. All these points need to be corrected: SF is now mostly non-inclusive, alienating ‘regular’ or even new readers; SF is no longer influential; SF is no longer brave; and the SF genres are the straight path to killing the glory of original SF.

Who can fix it? Authors can fix it, by trying to return to write brave and influential stories that can be easily read by those who don’t like SF. Authors can return to seek originality, first and foremost by looking outside the established sub-genres.

But that is not going to be enough. Because publishers need to want to publish brave, genre non-specific and perhaps even political SF. For the publishers to change their ways, the readers need to do something, as well. SF readers need to stop being scared. They need to find feelings of comfort in other genres and read SF for the thrill of the threat it may have on their lives. SF readers need to clamor for something brave and new, original and breathtaking, glorious and frightening.

I’m trying not just to speak about making SF glorious again, but to do. I have a new book out, Secret Thoughts, published by the brave Apex Book Company. Whether it’s glorious SF or not, that’s for you to say. But there is no doubt that you need to brave to read it.

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Guy Hasson’s Secret Thoughts, Reviewed by Anil Menon (Author Week #2)

Guy Hasson: Secret Thoughts

Review by Anil Menon

 

Since intimacy and secrecy  are all but inseparable, it’s no surprise that Guy Hasson’s “Secret Thoughts,” a collection of three novellas, is also a triad if stories about intimacy. The novellas consider intimacy in three distinct contexts: the living past, the Other, and the possible future.  But what distinguishes “Secret Thoughts” is neither its focus on intimacy nor the choice of its contexts. It is that the stories, all first-person accounts, ask us to imagine being a telepath, to imagine living in a world where intimacy is thrust upon you, a world where intimacy is a burden, not a gift.

The first story, “The Perfect Girl” (previously published in Dreams in Aspamia, #12) illustrates with a deft opening stroke the basic  issue in telepathy. We are told that when a telepath touches someone, the telepath gains access to the other’s thoughts, their emotions (the distinction isn’t always clear) . So when the telepath Alexandra Watson wants to know if the attractive guard at the gate of Indianapolis Academy is attracted to her, she doesn’t have to guess. A furtive “accidental” touch reveals all. However, her reaction is not one of pleasure, but self-disgust. She has groped a mind, taken something she wasn’t entitled to take. Her act may be immoral, but the point is a larger one. Alexandra can control what she learns from people, but  she cannot control her responses to the information.

The Indianapolis Academy is about teaching her, and others like her, that control. We are told that memories continue to persist for about seven days after death, enabling the students to practice their thought-reading skills on corpses. Alexandra touches the mind of a young suicide victim, Stephanie Reynolds.  In the fading light of Stephanie’s memories, Alexandra tries to understand why this young woman, so very like her, had chosen to end her life. However, the story is not about Stephanie. It’s about Alexandra and whether reconstructing our past can set us free. The conclusion is not hard to predict . Most telepathy stories, in contrast to invisible-man stories, are about self-realization, not voyeurism.

The idea that we can’t ignore the past and that we must embrace it to become whole is of course psychotherapy’s foundation stone. However, when Freud was reproached by a worried Ernest Jones about the implicit endorsement of the occult entailed by Freud’s papers on telepathy, the great man wrote back saying: “When anyone adduces my fall into sin, just answer him calmly that conversion to telepathy is my private affair like my Jewishness, my passion for smoking and many other things and that the theme of telepathy is in essence alien to psychoanalysis.”  Telepathy is alien to psychoanalysis? Why? Surely telepathic skills would result in a better therapist?

Hasson seems to sense this tension between therapeutic exploration of a mind and telepathy. Towards the end of “The Perfect Girl,” Alexandra goes to one of her professors, Dr. Parks, to gain some understanding. Dr. Parks makes her terms clear:

“I’m not going to touch you,” she says, as she slowly puts her hands down, fingers spread, a few millimeters from mine. “From this distance, with my ability, we’re safe. I only feel what you want me to feel, and you only feel what I want you to feel…” (p. 31)

Yet, the mind they examine together is Stephanie’s. Imagine going to a therapist and instead of the couch-and-inkblot routine, the good doctor has you reading Sylvia Plath? Alexandra’s session with Dr. Parks is quite similar. Stephanie’s memories are read the way we might read a book.

Perhaps what Hasson is getting at is that the telepathic skill turns bodies into text. It disembodies us. Were we all telepaths, we would become literature. Freud was right to see telepathy as completely alien to psychoanalysis because the latter is the exact opposite. Psychoanalysis embodies everything. A cigar is a penis. A box is a vagina. Nothing ever dies, especially not the past.

Alexandra learns an important truth about herself, but we may wonder, as Freud seems to have wondered with psychoanalytic transference, whether it is her own truth or a telepathic transference courtesy Dr. Parks, or even, poor dead Stephanie. All things considered, “The Perfect Girl” is a thought-provoking tale.

The second story, “The Linguist,” shifts the focus from the past to how we relate with the Other. The story is narrated by Rachel Akerman, telepath and professor of linguistics at NYU. An alum of the Indianapolis Academy, her real name is Michelle Rayburn, and she’s in hiding because the government  will no longer tolerate their existence. Her quiet fake life comes to an end when CIA agent Daniel Willis shows up at her Brooklyn apartment. He’s been able to trace her because many years earlier she’d made a 911 call that had saved him, a teenager, from committing suicide. Since no such kindness goes unpunished, Willis informs Rachel he’s going to drag her to Spook Central because the country needs her help. The government has found a space alien, and they need someone who can talk with it. Only mind-melders need apply.

Now, such a story will flameout in a number of ways, and the main question is whether the fire will start in the tail, the wings or the very nose of the vehicle itself. Here, it happens in the middle; every painful interaction with the alien (as touch-unfriendly as a box jellyfish)  is accompanied with Rachel’s gasps, shrieks, hallucinations, fainting spells and debriefing sessions where the men in black say tough things like “Lie to me again and bad things will happen.” (p. 85)

The story makes several dubious claims about intelligence; namely that it entails emotions, a theory of mind, a sense of personal space, intentionality, etc. In the end, making contact with the alien is not too different from figuring out whether that weird foreign neighbor is asking to borrow some sugar or your spouse.

I’m being overly hard on the story. It’s an adequate instance of Alien Contact, a defining sub-genre of 80s SF. It’s a category that has, and should always have, a special place in SF. The best ones in this sub-genre transmute mystery into wonder;  this story’s main weakness is that it tries to turn mystery into a moment of personal growth. We can be happy if Narcissus learns to open-up. But wonder-struck? No.

The final story in the collection, “Most Beautiful Intimacy” is infused with wonder. In this case, it’s that of a couple who realize they are about to become parents. However, this is no ordinary couple: the soon-to-be mother’s a telepath, and the soon-to-be father’s empathic. Like all couples deliriously in love, they feel they’ve already been graced by a miracle. As the narrator, the to-be father says: “Miraculously we found each other:  the telepath and the man who should have been born a telepath.” (p.119)  The telepathic ability of the mother is the first complication of the story. Telepaths, we learn, are not to become pregnant. The baby’s developing mind, almost pure Id and lacking all the restraints of socialization, will quickly swamp  the mother’s mind, driving both to madness.

The second complication of the story is that the government is hunting telepaths down.  The couple do not have the luxury of walking into the nearest hospital, of calling 911, of alerting the authorities in any way.

The logical solution is an abortion, and yet. The couple agree it’s the logical choice, and yet. Even if everything should be fine, raising a child on the run will be incredibly complicated, and yet. The couple slowly realize that an irreversible choice entails a commitment, in this case, between intimacy and security. The couple must decide if they will entrust themselves to the future, to accept, as Rilke wrote in a letter to the young Kappus, “…that even between the closest human beings, infinite distances continue.”

The story handles several fronts with panache. There’s the need to find a doctor. There’s the couple’s fracturing over the mother’s unilateral decision.  But most of all, the story does a great job of imagining a telepathic pregnancy. A large part of the story reads like one of those baby- in-the-womb movies, but this is also about  the baby’s ur-thoughts, the structure of its needs, the development of its personality. It’s a sustained act of the imagination.

We are aware of our thoughts, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that a mother might be able to read her foetus’ thoughts or that telepathy might exist more generally. But when we find telepathy in a story, perhaps it reflects one of the deepest desires of a storyteller, namely, to see into the hearts and minds of their fellow human beings. Dorrit Cohn in Transparent Minds, a study of how consciousness gets embedded in literature, reminds us of the Greek God Momus’ criticism of Vulcan. Momus had blamed the engineer god for not installing a window in the human breast and thus making us less transparent to the Gods. Storytellers are the Vulcans of their domains, and so the presence of a telepathic character may serve to appease Momus. But does the presence of a telepathic character give us, the readers,  any extra insight into other characters’ minds? Is there anything that a telepathic consciousness adds to fiction that we do not already have with the usual five narrative modes: dialogue, exposition, description, action, state-of-mind?

I doubt it. Hasson’s telepaths are able to read people’s thoughts the way we are able to read characters’ thoughts in fiction. This suggests that what his telepaths learn can only be the sort of things we, the readers, learn from regular fictional characters.  However, though telepathic characters can’t provide any extra insight for readers or offer the omniscient author anything they don’t already have, the telepath is a way to embed the act of reading into the tale. A fictional telepath is a character who, like the reader, is able to see the tale’s other characters in a transparent way.

Hasson’s settings and focus don’t provide much scope for exploring this idea. Perhaps the best way to put it is that his stories are about telepaths, not telepathy. However, this triad of well-told, interesting and often moving tales should serve to encourage many more explorations into this fascinating trope. As Freud remarked in his paper on dreams and the occult: “If one accustoms oneself to the idea of telepathy, one can accomplish a great deal with it – for the time being, it is true, only in imagination.”

 

 

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Tuesday Fiction: “The Man Who Was Stronger than God”, by Guy Hasson (Author Week #2)

The Man Who Was Stronger Than God

By Guy Hasson

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham! Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori’ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

And Abraham said, “No.”

“Abraham, do not withhold your son, your only son, from me. Obey my voice.”

“I will not lay my hand on the lad or do anything unto him, my Lord. He is my son.”

“Abraham, I must know that you fear God.”

“My Lord, for you I have gone from my country and kindred and father’s house to the land that you showed me at the age of seventy-five. You have blessed me and cursed those who would curse me. You have given me a son. Surely, if you looked in my heart, you would see that I would lay down my life for you. Is this knowledge not enough? For I will not slay my own son.”

“You must have faith, Abraham, that I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And that your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

“Faith I have, my Lord. Yet never will I slay my own son.”

“Abraham. My will can vanquish your will, and bend your arms to raise a knife and offer Isaac to me.”

“Indeed, you are great and powerful, Lord. If you wish it, none will stop you. Yet never shall I slay my own son of my own free will, the free will you have granted me.”

“Abraham. Your free will is mine to take back.”

“Yes, my Lord. But while I still possess it, I shall not kill my own son.”

“Abraham. If you slay not your son I shall make you my mark. Months of emptiness and endless nights of misery can I apportion upon you. I will cloth your flesh with worms. I will take your son and wife and concubine and descendents and curse them as I have cursed your enemies.”

“Surely my transgression is great,” said Abraham with sadness. “You can make the heavens tremble and the earth shake out of its place. You can make my spirit cry with anguish and await death. But not even then will I slay my son of my own free will. For he is my son.”

“Perhaps I am testing you, Abraham.”

“But it is a risk, my Lord. I cannot obey, for I cannot slay my own son.”

And God’s wrath and fierce anger were great. For He saw that although He had chosen wisely and Abraham was a man of faith who would lay down his life for his God, He had chosen too well. As long as Abraham had free will, he would not bend before anyone, including God, upon this matter.

Unable to bend Abraham’s will with words, God bent Abraham’s will with might. He changed the workings of his faithful servant’s head, then turned back the wheels of history.

After these things God tested the new Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham! Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori’ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

So the new Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and the new Abraham cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

THE END

The Man who Was Stronger than God (c) Guy Hasson 2010. First Published in Outlook Magazine.

April 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Author Week #2: Guy Hasson Interview

Guy Hasson is an Israeli playwright, film maker and science fiction writer. While he writes plays and scripts mainly in Hebrew, his fiction is almost exclusively written in English. He is a two-time winner of the Israeli Geffen Award: he won it in 2003 for his story “All-of-Me(TM)” and in 2005 for his story “The Perfect Girl”. Since 2006 he has focused on production of original films, including the feature-length A Stone-cold Heart.

Guy Hasson Interviewed by Charles Tan

Hi Guy! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. Congrats on the release of First Thoughts. How did the novellas come about? Did you plan on it being compiled early on or was it serendipity that it all came together?

Thanks, Charles. Secret Thoughts, as you know, is a collection of three novellas that take place in the same world, a world that has telepaths.

It started out like this.

A few years ago I had a great idea for a story about a telepath. She would read the mind of a recently dead girl, over-sympathize with her life, and lose boundaries between her own life and the dead girl’s life. But it would also be a mystery, the solution of which is an emotion buried deep inside her: Why did she sympathize with her? What is wrong about herself that she feels is right about the dead girl?

I wanted to write a telepath mystery, a whodunit, in which the ‘culprit’ is an emotion. To do that I had to create believable telepaths ,and to make telepathy realistic. Everything has implications. As I created that world, I had more and more ideas about stories that could take place in that world. But I had no intention of returning to that world. Therefore, I cannibalized all my ideas and hinted at almost all of them in The Perfect Girl. It makes for a richer world.

The Perfect Girl was then translated into Hebrew and published in Israel, where it won the Geffen Award for Best Short Story of the Year. And that was that. I didn’t want to return to that world. I prefer writing original stories every time and not lean on something I’ve done before.

But as the years passed, ideas came to me that could not be done outside this world: What it would be like if a telepath had to read an alien mind? In a realistic world, what would that look that? – That is the second story, The Linguist, where I break all the rules to create something new.

Then came the third story, Most Beautiful Intimacy, which had the craziest wild in the bunch: What if a telepath got pregnant? Telepathy in my world works by touch. A pregnant telepath can’t break contact with her fetus. What if we knew what the fetus’ brain went through during the nine months of pregnancy? What would a brain, not yet fully formed, feel and think and experience? I could create an entire emotional landscape that would teach us something about ourselves and our own nature.

And that was that. Three original stories that provide a full book-length feast for those who hunger for SF blood. That is Secret Thoughts.

The implications of telepathy in the stories is well thought out. What’s the appeal of telepathy for you? Do you consider the phenomena science fiction or fantasy?

To my knowledge, there’s no telepathy, but I had to treat it as if it was real and consider all the implications of such a phenomenon. That makes it science fiction.

I liked writing about my telepaths because it allowed me to explore emotions in a way I couldn’t otherwise. It had to be believable, though. There would be no such thing as just reading an emotion or hearing a sentence the person says to himself. That would not be enough. There are so many things inside us going on simultaneously. There is something inside us, a sort of inner GPS, that tells us where we are. It may not be correct. But it still tells us something. There are emotions underneath emotions, conflicts, recollections that pop up for microseconds, complexes within complexes within complexes, awareness of yourself and what you look like, awareness of your physical condition, and a thousand other things. You had to put all of them in to write believably about reading minds, and you had to create ways for the telepaths to navigate through all this mess.

In addition – I’ll let you in about a writing trick I used to write telepaths believably.

I would never let a telepath describe her own emotions with words we know. A telepath would never think, ‘I’m angry’ or ‘I’m sad’. She would be aware of vast arrays of ‘angry’ or ‘sad’ and would be much more specific than we would ever be. So I wrote The Perfect Girl and The Linguist, which are both told in first-person by a telepath, without the character ever mentioning her own emotions directly. Instead, I made the readers realize what these emotions were without naming them. Here’s a good example, told by a female telepath:

Professor Bendis comes in at eight on the dot.

Ancient. Smart. Godlike.

He takes his time getting to the podium and looking at us.

He can read my mind. I cross my legs.

 

You got what she was feeling without me ever mentioning an emotion, right?

Much of the focus of the stories are on female characters. Was this intentional? Did you encounter any difficulties writing the opposite gender?

Writing telepath stories with women leads is a no-brainer.

All three stories are supremely intimate, about deep truths we hide from ourselves, and subtle emotions. Men’s defensive mechanisms are such that they lie to themselves, hide their vulnerabilities from themselves, and when a vulnerability is revealed, their ego is easily shattered. To write about men telepaths, I would have had to write a way around each of these defenses for each lead character in a story. However, if I write about women, I can just get into the meat of things.

Also, the stories are set in the US. Why this setting?

The stories needed to be set in the US, because the US is highly populated, and telepaths in my world are rare. I wanted to create an academy for them, where they would be taught to use their abilities in an adult fashion. It had to be the US because I grew up there and know it well, while I do not know enough about the other populated countries, like India, China, the erstwhile Soviet Union, etc.

Why novellas?

Once you have the seed of the story, the story tells you what length it needs to be. I don’t force lengths on my stories; my stories force their lengths on me.

How did Apex end up publishing First Thoughts?

I like to finish a book and then send it. I don’t like to pitch books I haven’t finished writing. But that’s not what happened here.

I was speaking with Lavie Tidhar, who had just had a book published by Apex, and told him that I was going to send it to Apex as well. He said, “That’s a good idea. Hold on, I’ll ask Jason [Sizemore, the publisher].” And before I knew it, he said, “Jason’s expecting an email from you.”

I wrote to him about my plan for the three novellas and that I was in the middle of writing the second one. He said, “That sounds good. Send me the first one.”

I sent him the first one. He said, “I like it. Send me the second one.”

I finished writing the second novella and sent it to him. He said, “I like it. Send me the third one.”

I finished writing the third novella and sent it to him. He said, “I like it. It’s special. I’ll publish the book.”

Did your background in film influence in any way how you wrote the stories in First Thoughts?

Writing for film or the theater or prose are three very different things.

Not only are the ‘words’ you use different (in theater, actors’ actions are your words, and the words on the page are shadows of actions; in film, your words can be visual or even musical), not only is the syntax of each of these mediums different (space is the syntax of the theater, while a film is photographic, musical, and edited; and prose is written in words on a blackboard in your mind), but the experience you give the readers/viewers is completely different.

I’ll give you an example. Immediately after my first anthology, Hatchling, came out, I was approached by a film producer who wanted to buy the rights to the novella Hatchling. I told him he could have it if he wanted it, but I don’t see how it can be done in film. The experience of the story, which is what you liked about it, could only be achieved in prose, never in film. He said he still wanted it, so I sold it to him. In developing it, he created something different from it, which was based on the novella but gave a different kind of great experience.

What were the challenges in writing the book?

Writing books isn’t just about writing ideas. Each story has its own emotional landscape and in writing the story I have to be true to it.

The Perfect Girl was about obsessiveness. I had that one down.

The Linguist was about fear. I had to learn a few lessons about optimism before I could finish writing it.

Most Beautiful Intimacy was about intimacy. I had to learn a few lessons about intimacy before I could write it.

Anything else you want to plug?

Not at Secret Thoughts’ expense.

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Author Week #2: Guy Hasson

Welcome to our second Author Week! This week we feature Israeli author Guy Hasson, in celebration of his new book, Secret Thoughts, published by the Apex Book Company.

Secret Thoughts is a startling examination of sexuality, motherhood, and society told in three novellas by Geffen Award-winning author Guy Hasson.

In “The Perfect Girl”, Alexandra Watson is a newcomer to Indianapolis Academy of Telepathic Studies. By touch alone, she can delve into your memories, desires, insecurities… everything that makes a person. When she bonds with Professor Parks, her world grows complicated. Soon, she’s reading the residual memories of a recently dead and tracking down the mystery of her demise.

“The Linguist” continues the story of telepathic-enabled women, except now the author has moved us several years in the future. The US government has determined that people like Rachel Akerman are a threat to the nation and orders countrywide extermination of those with telepathic powers. When a G-man uncovers Rachel and offers her a chance to help her country in exchange for her life, what choice is she left with? Rachel finds herself attempting to communicate with a frightened and imprisoned alien life form for the military.

Finally, in “Most Beautiful Intimacy”, Guy Hasson posits “What if a woman were psychically attached to an embryo growing within her uterus?” Set years after the previous novella, Susan DiOrio and her husband hide in a remote region of Montana. Cut off from the world, all they have is each other, and that is threatened when Susan becomes pregnant. A telepath has never successfully given birth to a child. Poignant and urgent, Hasson effectively explores the fear and wide-eyed amazement associated with having a baby.

These three novellas will open your eyes, raise uncomfortable questions, and make you fall in love with the protagonists three times over.

We have two copies of Secret Thoughts to give away! To enter, simply post in the comments to this post with your name and e-mail address. Winners will be chosen at random on Friday.

As before, we’ll be running an interview with Hasson, by Charles Tan; a review of the book, by Anil Menon; a short story, and a guest-post by the author. We hope you enjoy them!

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 5 Comments

Apex News; Guy Hasson’s SECRET THOUGHTS E-book Released

Jason Sizemore, publisher of Apex Books Company, has recently posted some important news:

On occasion, the Apex coffers get dangerously low.

Now is one of those occasions.

The business isn’t going under. No, nothing so dire as that. In fact, the problem I’m having is that it is growing beyond my means to keep up financially. It costs wheelbarrows of money to have books printed. It costs a lot to sign people like Brian Keene and Gary Braunbeck. Dark Faith 2 will cost a huge amount of money.

As far as getting a line of credit… erhm, I’ve already done that… a couple years ago.

So this is why I need your help. If you’ve seen an Apex book and thought “I’d like to own a copy,” then now is the time. The business has reached a critical point where the decision has to be made. 1) Do we keep treading water or 2) Do we keep growing. WITHOUT our fans buying our product, then it will be Option 1. Option 2 would feel great.

Here is a link to our store: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/apex-store/books-2/

Grab a hypodermic. Stab it right into that scrawny Apex alien arm and hit the plunger.

He also revealed Apex’s exciting plans for the year:

Apex has some AMAZING stuff planned for the next few months. I wish I could just publish it all at once, dump all the greatness into the ocean of readers, but alas, that would contrary to how quality should be enjoyed: relished in due course and enjoyed in a leisurely, stomach-warming manner. Like fine wine.

But wait! We recently (like, yesterday) released an amazing collection. Secret Thoughts by Guy Hasson. The book is a mosaic of three inter-related novellas dealing with female telepathic individuals. This is the X-Files. This is Inception. This is Philip K. Dick. I was blown away by the book. Guy has written something special. If this wasn’t an Apex book, I would be howling about it being one of the top reads of 2011 on my personal blog.

Apex also reissued (in print, it’s been out awhile in digital) a post-modern fantasy classic (I think it is a fair description): Last Dragon by J.M. McDermott.

Just around the corner, we have a book that had Grammy-nominated and spoken word poet legend Nikki Giovanni gushing: Let’s Play White by Chesya Burke. The title is evocative and Chesya’s collection tackles heavy topics like racism, slavery, and poverty in a striking and visual manner. The novella “The Redemption and Education of Ms. Fanny Lou Mason” is the cornerstone of the book and I see it as being the type that will receive lots of attention from genre readers. Expect this one to release at World Horror Con 2011.

Dark fantasy and horror master (and To Each Their Darkness author) Gary A. Braunbeck is completing work on the concluding chapter of his Cedar Hill series. Fans have been waiting a long time for this one. First, it was due to be published by the now defunct Leisure Publishing. But that didn’t work out and now it has ended up in our hands.

Horror icon Brian Keene will see publication of the novella Hollow Inside, a piece of work that exists in the same world as his novels Dark Hollow and Ghost Walk.

Jennifer Pelland’s debut science fiction novel Machine is scheduled for late summer. We have cover art from Katja Faith ready for this one. For fans of Jennifer’s cut-to-the-bone writing style, you won’t be disappointed. The book is both heartbreaking and thoughtful.

We have ready Lavie Tidhar’s bizarre novel Martian Sands. On a segregated and crowded Martian city, a broke young man inadvertantly gets mixed up in a wild conspiracy involving Golda Meir, a man with a gold thumb (literally), and assassinations.

This summer we’ll be releasing the dark fantasy novel Maze by J.M. McDermott. It’s another classic post-modern work in a similar mosaic style as Last Dragon, but perhaps a bit more mature and dark.

The anthologies on the plate include the follow-up The Apex Book of World SF 2 edited by Lavie Tidhar.

Finally, I need to mention Starve Better by Nick Mamatas. Every writer needs to know how to work the system, right? Well, Mr. Mamatas shows you how to do so in this book. Except that, even adequately working the system, you’ll still be pretty poor.

Dark Faith 2 looks like a real possibility if sales are strong enough.

Apex Magazine is now breaking even thanks to the hard work of Cat Valente and her editors. If it continues to grow we should be self-sustaining before long.

Frankly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot is going on… it’s going to be a big year for Apex. At this point, I’m seeing the moon and stars for our authors and editors.

Occasionally, we hit a bump. Everybody does. But Apex has so much momentum, it’s not going to stop anytime soon. I would say we’re like a giant asteroid flying through space, but that sounds too much like you know who.

Apex celebrates six years of being in business on March 16th (my birthday!) and everyday is a blast. The book business is in an exciting time, with technology shaking the bowl quite vigorously. Now is a fun time to be a publisher (and author, no doubt), and I think Apex is fitting in quite well in the new dynamics.

Enjoy the ride. The future is now. Buckle up.

That’s all the cliches for now. Feel free to add your own in the comments below. :)

Finally, Apex have announced the release of the e-book version of Guy Hasson’s Secret Thoughts, with the paperback edition coming in a few weeks.

We’re running a few weeks behind getting the print version of Secret Thoughts ready for consumption. In the publishing world, this happens quite a bit… though not with us all that often. :)

am pleased to share that the digital versions of Secret Thoughts are ready. For only $4.99, you can read this fascinating mosaic collection (three novellas for about 90k words) of how telepathic individuals might theoretically interface with the world. Dark. Heartbreaking. Hopeful.

KindlenookSmashwordsDTS

And, of course, the physical book is still available for preorder.

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

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