The Minnesota Fantasy Award

Last night I had the privlage and pleasure of Accepting the Minnesota Fantasy Award on behalf of my father, Steven Brust, at Arcana 44. Below is the text from my planned remarks; I have some some pictures and video also which may turn into something, which case I’ll add that.

At age 19, while on a convention tour, Dad took me to see the Grateful Dead at what would turn out to be their final Mardis Gras concert with Jerry Garcia. Late in the first night of the show, right at a dramatic moment, a decrescendo, he leaned over and whispered to me a few words that have stuck with me since, just as he intended, I’m sure. He said: “How far do I have to go, and what do I have to do, to have this happen to me again?”

I have to say, that’s rather the feeling I get when I reach the end of one of his stories.

To say I was exposed to the works of Steven Brust at an early age, would be putting it mildly. I can still recall Mom’s intonation as she would read early passages from Jhereg as bed-time stories. It was in middle-school, perhaps age 13 or so that I fell in love with Dragaera, the Houses, the various competing systems of magic, and with Vlad Taltos and his many friends and allies. And I have been either waiting with bated breath or actively devouring each subsequent novel, whether of the Dragearen, or not- since. I’m a voracious re-reader.

Usually, when I offer someone “My Dad’s book” to read, I give one of the one-off novels; some unordered favorites being To Reign In Hell, The Sun The Moon and The Stars, The Gypsy and Agyar. Now that I have two complete loaner sets of the Vladian, those are the first to go, when they are around. A few days ago, on a smoke break at work, I bumped into a colleague who currently has such a set from us.

I most often see her in her car with her e-virtual-vaporizer thing in one hand, and her Kindle in the other. Talking with her, she reads all the time, as does her husband. When I gave her the big paper sack full mostly of paperbacks she reciprocated with a book for us to borrow, and also by admitting that her husband reads more fantasy than she these days. She’d let let me know what he thought. When he got to them.

She was much more excited to talk about the first of the “Jedi Academy” series by Jeffrey Brown she had brought us, for consideration by our seven year old son Miklos, and especially the admiration in which their daughter holds those. (Miko loves this, by the way. Right buddy?) When I found her the next Thursday to give her one of the copies of _Hawk_ that had shown up for the loaner set, she still hadn’t touched them.

That did it, I think. She brought home the first few books that weekend and by Tuesday had the rest of the bag at home. And she was hunting me down to talk. I love it when a middle age woman gets bouncy while talking about shoulder dragons.

“He’s an Assassin – with a shoulder dragon! What’s not to love?”

Lifetime Achievement.
Indeed, it has been rather a fine week to be president of the fan club. Here are a few random quotes I pulled off the internet this week:
Some books are entertaining. Some are thought provoking, and once in a while, a book transports you to a place for a full on vacation.Steven Brust’s works are a guaranteed backpack adventure into a different dimension. Every single time.
I’ve never met your father, but would love to shake his hand some day ,buy him a pint, and thank him for the many, many wonderful stories.
many congratulations to you both. :) p.s. Still rereading Hawk, on my 6th or 7th go. Please thank him for me.

Sorry. Let me walk that back just a tiny bit — when I say “random” and “this week”, naturally, I mean these were said to me specifically, and this morning when I posted to Facebook and Twitter I’d be here tonight.

To all that then, I add this: Dad writes fantasy that stays interesting and current to us as we get older.
Of course, you’d expect me to say that.

With great pleasure, and equal humility, it’s my honor this year at Aracana 44 to accept The Minnesota Fantasy Award on behalf of my father, Steven Brust. Personally, and on behalf of Steven and our entire family, thank you.

Favorite Hawk Links

Given that lots of people may be reading Hawk now, and soon, here’s a collection of links:

  1. Prologue and Chapter 1 have been released by Tor:
  2. Dad read us Chapter 2 last Sunday

Cory Doctorow reviewed Hawk this morning:

John Scalzi said this today:

Scali mentioned Hawk on Twitter, this morning.

I reviewed Hawk awhile back, after Dad gifted me the rare treat of reading the pre-scribbles” MS.

I’m Not As Good As My Words

My words are so much better than me. If I were a tenth part as my words would have me, I would be a giant in my estimation.

When Meridel was around eighteen months old, making Miklos about three, there came a night when they would not go to bed and we were too tired to keep standing there telling them to do so.

At the time we lived in a 1 1/2 story house on St. Paul’s West Side- it wasn’t very large.  Our bed was in the bedroom on the first level –that is not up the stairs to the half-level– and was routinely featuring 2-3 sleeping children by the conclusion to an evening.

On this particular night, Meridel had been having a hard time of it mostly centered around us wanting her to try to use the potty before laying down. Miklos who had been sleepy when we got home, was reengaged, trying to sooth Meridel.  After an hour or so of this we eventually retreated to the bed too tired to cuddle while Miklos tried to entertain Meridel, alternating between fits and giggles.   We had been lying wondering if we were good parents for some time when Meridel, finally reaching out for consultation said “Miko, hold me”.  There are grunting sounds for a few moments, after which Miklos replies: “I want to, but I’m not enough”.


Work With Friends, Stay Friends, Get Paid

East Asian Friends via WikiPedia, photo by CC CC BY-SA 2.0

Here then, my living, breathing

Tips for Working With Friends, Staying Friends, and Still Getting Paid.

  1. Work with friends whenever possible.
  2. Share credit liberally, everything else too.
  3. Always pay professionals who will be assisting within their areas of competence.
  4. Always pay for training; be personally involved.
  5. Aim for projects where 80% of those involved have a creative stake, but 80% of the creative stake is owned by one person/subject/etc.

    While a project remains entirely self-financed, the 80% creative shareholder should expect 80% of the net (gross – investor recoup – (cap-ex + regular pay + expenses)) in the case of a successful project, or 20% of the gross after  deducting only regular pay and expense on a failed project (e.g. one where investors do no make back their complete investments.)

  6. Establish and maintain clear records reflecting ownership, credit, compensation & liability for each project as well as the disposition of rights and obligations such as may be specifically attached to materials.

    Sometimes it’s important to delete or destroy various materials or work product at different projects in a work flow, in order to meet obligations to creative or financial contributors.  This isn’t actually difficult but it takes good book keeping.

  7. If you really stretch, you are going have people limping pretty soon.  Not everyone can deal with being carried.


Photo Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0

The Crappiest Employment Agent

Like many of you, I have -and often have- many friends out of and looking for work.  Perhaps also like you, many of these friends have kinda awesome skills and talents not -at the moment- rendering good fortune in coin.

This is where I come in.   In theory.  In addition to forwarding resumes every which way, I also try to match-make potential producers with creatives, and so on.   Mostly, I’m really, really bad at this.  That is, I’m great at introducing two people, getting them to talk -often at great length, divining synergy — life long friendships have been formed. Good stuff.  I’ve been successful as far as this goes (people have occasionally found jobs or improved their lives) and personally that a big deal and I’m super gratified and everything.

Satisfied?  Not quite.

See OUR FRIENDS ARE DROPPING LIKE FILES.  If we are not, each ot to our own level-of-interest, of course, busily researching, theorizing, and complaining on the internet about myriad seemingly chronic ailments it is because we have recently died.

Production values are the enemy.  They cost money and time I may not get before more of my friends and loved ones shuffle off this mortal coil so many as to either sap my initiative for a critical while, or simply debase my production of loyal and talented conscripts.

All right – fine.  Production values are loyal opposition.  I must give them their due on the battle fields of publication by releasing nothing containing errors I already know how to fix.

In any case, and to the extent I can ignore my general terror at sharing anything I personally have put craft into, my goal over the next five years will be to clear the deck of the major projects I’ve been collecting and will continue to collect.  Five years is arbitrary, but selected on the basis that it that is leaves some time still to party before I turn fifty and people are likely to start moving out my home in droves,

If we’re working on something together, I’d appreciate a comment thread here about that with, well, whatever you’d like to say about the project.   I’ll reply with a link to a google doc or anything else I might already have about the project, or else with some comment from my memories of having been a part of prior discussions.

In terms of priority, as is quite obvious but must still be equally clearly stated: I love doing projects with friends, kids, friends’ kids and all and sundry.  I have all types of projects in my notebooks and google docs, from games to bicycle aftermarket prototypes and circuitry to feature film high-concepts.  I have ideas.  People tell me things.  I write them down; often remember the details years later.   Mostly I remember friends in terms of their passions; there’s a strong tendency for cross-over into contributing to projects together, the desire to do so, the mocking of others who never get around to theirs.  Like that.

Apropos, I think I have some spelling corrections I got in email around here somewhere.  I guess I go take care of that before I drop dead and don’t.

A Final Disclaimer

Related to the title:  I’m a not a professional agent nor am I licensed or practiced in this regard whatsoever. I do not routinely collect a fee for a referral or suggestion of employment nor has introducing two people (professionals, or not) in any context ever been something I expected to be compensated for doing.  To the extent it is in any way relevant, as the eventual filing of our 2014 income taxes we will be producers!   This is somewhat accidental, in that it means we have completed some projects with more than we, personally put into them, which has fairly infrequently been a goal, in the past.

MSS for Sale, or Rent

UPDATE:  zTable last updated noon CST Friday, August 29th:

Item Via Sale Price Time of Bid Auction Ends COUNTDOWN
Paths of the Dead fb $287.00 8/29/2014 8:55:00 8/30/2014 1:55:00 13:58:34
Lord of Castle Black email $300.00 8/29/2014 11:26:00 8/30/2014 4:26:00 16:29:34
Gaimen email $300.00 8/29/2014 7:45:00 8/30/2014 0:45:00 12:48:34
Hobb email $128.00 8/29/2014 11:50:00 8/30/2014 4:50:00 16:53:34

Here are the items with which we are parting soonest:I am getting to have quite a number of manuscripts to sell for Steven Brust. The majority of the profits of these auction sales will go directly to him. With respect to any given item I am offering, we have not made any effort to digitize or photograph and will commit to do or not do this per the wishes of whomever buyer.

  1. Two Paarfi (read: Steven Brust) Manuscripts including The Paths of the Dead with handwritten notes from at least two sets of eyeballs, one of which is Steve.
  2. Robin Hobb‘s first novel, signed. (ZOMG.  I didn’t even consider keeping this. This is really why I’m selling stuff right away. Just found this. Feel a little guilt.)
  3. Two drafts of a novella by Neil Gaiman. (I’m pretty sure this is the foreword from Roger Zelazny, sitting here also. If the buyer doesn’t mind me taking a scan, I will. Not hand-signed that I recall.)


In the case of things handed to -rather than written by- him, all arrangements have been made by Steven in advance so please do not ask to me reach out directly to people for signatures or certificates of authenticity or anything like that.


Nope.  Probably not.  Oh, fine, I guess if you need photos or video of me lovingly caressing these objects you can let me know all about your fantasies.

To Purchase

Email will work best for you.  Send me want you want to pay, with the subject line Auction Bid and the item you wish to bid on.

Twitter:  dm me (or shout out to get me to follow, and then <–) with your bid @mplsCorwin, or @dragaera (which I co-run with Dad and the others who do with him.)

Facebook:  Join the Steven Brust Fan Club group (I can’t make it allow others to approve you, so you pretty much have to wait for me.)

G+: yup, I’m there.  There’s a group called Dragaera.  Anyway, share your plan with me.  Any visibility you like is just fine so long as +Corwin Brust (mplsCorwin) can find it.

Sales are final after 17 hrs.  Okay, I know, but it’s about the right amount of time for a uniformly spherical someone to work, sleep, notice and reply back to me while checking personal emails.

You have 17 hrs to make payment arrangements   At least. I mean, I’ll work with you.  If there has been a hot auction I’d move as fast as I could.

All items start at $100

You must beat the existing bid by $20.

Shipping Is My Problem(tm) – if you live far away from the middle of the North American continent, and you are planning to buy both Paarfi novels… be kind.

And A Few More Notes

If I get seriously flooded, you will have to watch twitter #SKZB_AUCTION if you hope to keep up minute by minute.

I’ll reply if you are winning (and also if you are beaten but maybe not as quick), and begin updating others who may be concerned via email, blogs and whatever other social media I am currently plugged into.

If you know Steven and find it easier to comment on his blog, email him, etc, as long as you actually confirm that you have successfully communicated with him, that is fine and well.  That will get to me and things will happen.

Why Are You Doing It This Way

At the risk of starting the very meta discussion I hope to stifle, this is about putting money into Steven (and my) pockets because these things are just sitting in boxes about our homes.

With these factors combined, this approach provides for either the least amount to happen (without my actually shouting into a dark room), or alternately for me to personally arrange for as much as possible of the money trading hands to go to my father.

Nerdmonic: Frequently Fed Trolls

We're all trolls on this bus.

We’re all trolls on this bus.

FFT, meaning Frequently Fed Troll. Similar to FAQ, the page of a website where an author outlines foible subjects, types of discussions or critique, etc.  Used in context, this hash-tag or idiom signifies an (implicitly non-constructive) craving to engage with particular individuals or groups, usually on specific topics and at a substandard level of debate.  Here, poor debate is that which features little possibility of exposing new ideas or altering opinion as a result of engaging.


New #FFT: Libertarianism.  I do not appears to know anyone I can stand to have a conversation about libertarianism with.  Ug.

I should know better.  Everytime I open my mouth over there my posts are buried in a sea of cynicism and BS.  If he weren’t such an awesome writer I could just leave his blog alone, but I want.  I *need* to stop reading the comments ‘tho.  tagged: #FFT, #DudeBlog

Written Communication (or Who Screwed Who)

photo of wing tip shoes

wing tip

Here’s a little song.  Music: a nice wholesome country feel, tending to folk in the afternoon.

The first time we did business
 I had youth and hope and shine.
 Knew you’d forgive me my transgressions,
 And compensate me over time.
But when love turns into anger,
 As passions often do,
 We found written communication
 Saves a lot on Who screwed Who.
 In this age of modern communication,
 We just can’t believe our eyes
 So scan me no forgeries
 And I'll fax to you no lies.
We're living in the future,
 Strong communicators organize!
 Remember your invocations,
 When things won't stabilize.
When the only ones who tell the truth,
 are communists and spies.
 Give me concrete expectations,
 Written down and duly signed.
The last time we saw a movie
 You asked if I could cover
 You said you'd catch me on the next time
 We did some something or other.
But when we get forgetful,
 Which as friends we often do,
 found written communication
 Saves a lot on Who Screwed Who.
The next time that you see me
 I'll have wingtips and clutch
 self-explanatory documents
 I’ll wait only for your touch.

We'll have apps and cocktails,
 But before the main event
 I’ll need proof of age and a signature
 On this mutual consent.