Recent and upcoming appearances

The fine folks at Malvern Books have posted this video of my recent reading at the store of a very short excerpt from my forthcoming novel RULE OF CAPTURE, currently slated for publication by Harper Voyager in 2019. Thanks to Malvern for hosting the group event of which this was a part. Also up at the Malvern YouTube page are the readings from my fellow Austin writers Patrice Sarath, who put the event together, Jessica Reisman, Stina Leicht, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Amanda Downum, and Robert Ashcroft.

This weekend I will be at Worldcon in San Jose, with a couple of panels and an autographing. Hope to see some of you there.

CB Worldcon 2018 programming

 

TROPIC OF KANSAS a Campbell Award finalist

Campbell finalists 2018

I was honored to see Tropic of Kansas among the finalists for the 2018 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel of the year, especially among such remarkable company. Congratulations to all the nominees, who include many friends and colleagues, and particular congratulations to the winner announced at last Friday’s ceremony, David Walton.

KGB Fantastic Fiction—photos and audio

KGB by Kressel 12-20-17

Matt Kressel shared this great photo he took of me reading at KGB Fantastic Fiction in New York last month, together with the amazing N. K. Jemisin. We had an awesome turnout of folks on a cold night, and both ended up reading stories of revolution and resistance in a bar full of relics of the Russian revolution. Thanks to Matt and co-host Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, to Nora for sharing the podium, and to everyone who joined us in the audience (including some of my New York friends and family).

25446482_10155161970196439_7490070857857693745_n

Here’s a photo I took of Matt and Ellen, with Henry Wessells just behind Matthew to the left.

Ellen’s photos from the night are now up at her Flickr, including this nice shot of me with my cousin the dancer and choreographer Katiti King.

katiti and chris kgb 12-20-17

And Matt just posted audio of my reading, from the opening of Tropic of Kansas. Thanks to Gordon Linzner for the great recording. It is also available through the KGB podcast at your preferred provider.

Lastly, a very nice photo Ellen took of me and my newly NYC-based son, Hugo Nakashima-Brown.

hugo and chris kgb 12-20-17

 

Talking heads

In the year 2017, science fiction writers will be invited to appear as commentators on Sunday morning public affairs shows.

I was deleted to have the opportunity to appear as a guest on “Story in the Public Square,” a great new program hosted by Jim Ludes of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University in Newport and G. Wayne Miller of the Providence Journal-Bulletin, broadcast on Rhode Island Public Television and the SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. channel. We discussed Tropic of Kansas, dystopian realism, and the nexus of speculative fiction & American political life, in what I thought it was an engaging conversation. I very much appreciated the opportunity, and expect we will see more public dialogues like this as our daily reality becomes increasingly science fictional.

Story in the Public Square: Christopher Brown

News: new books

PW 11-24-17 full

I am delighted to share the news reported in this week’s Publishers Weekly that I am going to be working on two new books with Harper Voyager—speculative legal thrillers about a criminal defense lawyer working in the mirror America of Tropic of Kansas, pitched as “Better Call Saul” meets Nineteen Eighty-Four. The first book is slated for summer 2019 and the second for summer 2020. This is an exciting opportunity to try to weave together some of my disparate interests and explore some new territory. As currently conceived, the first book will deal with a dystopia in the making, while the second will explore more utopian territory. We will see if that’s where the characters, and the ideas, want to go as they come into being on the page.

Very happy to continue working with David Pomerico and the team at Harper Voyager, and big thanks to my agent Mark Gottlieb.

Details here at PW.

 

World Fantasy Convention and Texas Book Festival

TBF

This Thursday and Friday I will be at the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio, moderating two panels:

And this weekend I will be at the Texas Book Festival, including a panel and signing on Sunday afternoon:

Hope to see some of you there!

Sunday morning field notes from an airport hotel

IMG_7378

The view from the fifteenth floor of the airport hotel looks out through a frame of pebbled concrete bolted to the structure. The pebbles are shades of pink and grey, harvested from local rock to make the brutalist sun-shading of the 1970s. I wonder how long the rock was there in the earth before they harvested it to create a place for business travelers to sleep between flights and meetings.

The window looks out onto a wide ancient plain between the forks of the Trinity River which has been almost entirely converted into a platform for launching hairless apes into the sky. Sixty-five million of them a year on more than two-thousand flights a day. They start coming at dawn and never really let up, making their own tunnels of wind just over the hotel, lined up in air traffic controlled constellations of avionic light threaded out across the eastern sky.  Wide freeways lead to the airport from every direction, and to the parking lots of the seemingly infinite number of corporate hotels, identical office parks and shitty chain restaurants that append the complex, terrestrial mirrors of the network of hundreds of other airports that send the planes here and accept its departures.

FullSizeRender 5

I brought my trail running shoes for my weird weekend in this zone, and as I look out the window I imagine lines through the green space allowed by this Anthropocene overlay that straddles two counties and four muncipalities. There is an empty field right down there, a triangle of maybe four or five acres. In the field are twenty-seven bales of hay faded to grey, left there a long time ago, hidden at ground level behind the towering sunflowers of late summer. On Friday as I arrived men were laying a new road next to the field, preparing to pave it with every square foot of impervious cover the municipal development code of this particular suburb allows.

The water towers of Irving, of which there are many, each feature an image of wild horses running across these plains. And as I jog over the fresh-mowed Bermuda grass that grows in the rights of way, I imagine when it was like that here, with herds of fast mustangs roaming free, ready to be harvested like found money by enterprising pioneers. I am old enough now to realize how recently in time that was, and maybe even how brief a period a time of this place between the rivers was, because really the horses were as invasive as the imported grasses under my feet, an accidental gift of the Spaniards to the people who had walked here from the other side of the world.

IMG_7379

Running along the grassy median of the road that follows the southwestern fenceline of the massive airport, you can see the people driving out of the brand-new subdivision of custom homes opposite the outer edges of the tarmac, and you can see that many of them are people who just got here from the other side of the world, or from the other class realities of this country. The sort of people who are not deterred by the signs in the lawns warning of the avigation easements encumbering the houses, agreements in advance to endure the noise of low-flying aircraft. They will not be here long, in these way stations on the way to American affluence.

Go mustangs, say the ball caps of the preppy old white people riding their BMWs to the SMU game.

On the other side of the George W. Bush Presidential Freeway, I noticed another wide field. As I stepped off the turf to cut through to it, I found native grasses coming up in a spot along the edge that evaded the bulldozers. The gentle grade of the field beyond that led up to an old billboard painted over black, accidental abstraction in a zone given over entirely to the self-expression of corporate persons. As I stopped to take a picture, a big hawk lifted off from the light armatures at the base, headed for a stand of exotic trees over there by the office park.

IMG_7381

I came here for a weekend conference I thought was about imagining better futures, or at least other futures, but turned out to mostly be just another celebration of the repeat consumption of juvenile narratives of wonder by adults seeking escape from lives in the cubicles of those climate-controlled buildings. And on the last morning when I look out the window at the terminal to the sky, I realize this is that future that our predecessors imagined. I also remember the creek I saw flowing under the airport perimeter fence, and the prairie grasses I saw there holding out in a few square feet that the spreadsheets missed. I wonder how long ago it was that this plain was made by water, and whether these concrete creeks will overflow and drown the office parks sooner than the engineers think.

FullSizeRender 4

A Natural History of Empty Lots

Impala 4-13

My story “A Natural History of Vacant Lots”—really a piece of speculative nonfiction—is now available at Texas Architect and in print in the magazine’s September/October issue.

The Los Angeles Public Library has an interview about Tropic of Kansas up at their blog—some great questions that really bit into the material.

And the September 15 issue of the Times Literary Supplement has a roundup of new American dystopias, including Tropic of Kansas, remarking on the book’s “thriller-ish swagger,” “the rather richly imagined wasteland of [the book’s] mid-America,” and it’s “Twainian journey downriver to the Missisippi’s end,” and even pulling out Roland Barthes to explain the book’s narrative strategies for world building.

Texas Architect: “A Natural History of Vacant Lots”

Los Angeles Public Library: Interview with an Author: Christopher Brown

LARB on Tropic of Kansas

LARB-ToK_screenshot

The Los Angeles Review of Books just posted a great long essay on Tropic of Kansas, with contributor Christopher Urban positioning the book as a rare example of a contemporary dystopia of resistance, and comparing it to both Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle and Richard Adams’s Watership Down.

Tropic of Kansas is an entertaining and engrossing read — and it shows that contemporary dystopian literature need not forgo aspects of ‘resistance’ but can, in fact, be all about it.”

LARB: “Dystopian Resistance: Christopher Brown’s ‘Tropic of Kansas'”