Sunday, January 21, 2007

Moving Day

Well, I think I'm ready to move this blog over to my new website. I'm not sure if I'll be transferring the blogs I posted here into the new blog, or if I'll leave this blog here as its own record of who I've been and what I've been doing, at least partially, for the past four or five years. So...from now on you can find out more about what I'm doing at my new website. And do let me know what you think of it...what's working well, what could use improvement, or what might be added that I haven't thought about yet.

Okay, see you at the new place real soon.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Since Senator Clinton has announced her run for the White House, I wrote her a letter today. I have no faith that it will ever reach her, so I've decided to place it here as well. I have no clue who will win the Democratic nomination for President, but my feelings are that Senators Clinton and Obama are the two with the best chances.

Dear Hillary,

I'm a young thirty-something from Youngstown, Ohio. You may have heard of us here because we're both a Democratic stronghold in Ohio and also because we are emblematic of the failure of the American Dream.

Years ago, in the seventies and eighties, when I was still too young to understand the extremity and consequences of the situation, the steel industry abandoned my community, which had worked so hard for that economic sector of our country through difficult years of toil and suffering, and the owners of those industries left us absolutely nothing, no resource from which we could draw sustenance and grow as a "nest egg" for the community afterwards. What once was one of the fastest growing cities in America was left to rot and disintegrate. No one cared, and no one stepped in to help us. Our once burgeoning economic climate and population of over 180,000 people is now in 2007 reduced to 80,000 and a flatline on the heart monitor of the economy.

Despite this region of Ohio becoming a virtual land of the living dead, we have held strong to the belief that the Democratic party, if given the chance to lead, would do something to help our ruined community revive. In recent years we have given up this hope because it is now the new millennium, nearly four decades have passed since the steel industry abandoned us to face the void on our own, and we have learned not to rely on our government for help. We've begun to do what we can for our community with our own meager abilities and funds. Most of our citizens still feel nothing can be done to save us. Perhaps in the end they are right, and this community, my city, should be allowed to breathe its last breath and go back to nature. Perhaps there is a kind of logic to that.

But I can't give up on us yet. I didn't grow up in Youngstown, Ohio. I grew up on a small farm about forty-five minutes outside of the city, in a rural town called Kinsman, where we have a small history of citizens of the United States who are called to leave the countryside and go out into the greater world to try, at the very least, to make it better. Clarence Darrow is one such person from that community, who also began his law practice in Youngstown, the city that provided him with a platform from which a small village boy could go on to defend the freedoms of teachers in the infamous Scopes Monkey Trials. It seems long ago now, but the older I get the more I understand how not so far away from us that point in our shared history is. I myself have struggled throughout my life to be someone who fights for a better community in whatever way I can. This year I will see the publication of my first novel from a major publishing house and I promise there will be more to come. I've dedicated myself to being a voice for a community that has not had a voice for the past forty years. But I understand why others from my community often fail to be able to start their own ignitions, so to speak.

Without an urban base with a strong economy to allow people to become their better selves in this world, it is not just the city of Youngstown that suffers, but the region that spreads out from it as well. We have been growing generations of newcomers to this world, children, who have no hope for a future for the past forty years. This is not America, according to the text books. And it's not an America I can sit by and accept.

My hope, Senator Clinton, is that, if given the chance, as we've hoped of many Democratic presidents in the past, you and your administration will find a way to help our dying community before it is finally too late for us. The only way I can think of to reach your ears is to write you this letter, and plead for the sake of my family and friends and all of the anonymous family and friends that make up a community. It costs us very little to beg in our current circumstances. We are a strong base of supporters for your candidacy and hopeful you will be able to win the presidency. We will work hard for you before the election, during, and afterwards as well.

Will you work hard for us in return? Will you help us, Senator Clinton? We do so desperately need someone of your abilities and stature to help us believe that America still exists, that being a part of this nation means that we are as valuable as any other community. Will you help bring us back into the family of man?

Sincerely yours,
Christopher Barzak

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rookie of the Year

Over at, Jay Tomio has made a list of his picks from the speculative fiction books coming out in 2007, including me as his bet for Rookie of the Year with One for Sorrow. It's a funny roundup, very tongue in cheek, so go read and enjoy the whole article.

A Change of Space

I've changed my mind about Wordpress. After playing around in its system for a while tonight, I've started to get the hang of it and will eventually be making a site there that will serve as my author's website as well as my online journal. It's going to take me a while to make the new space look nice, so for now I'll continue to write here, and when it's ready in the near future, I'll make a note of that here as well.

It's thoroughly late here, beyond late really, so I will now take myself to bed.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Thanks In Advance

I think I'm going to look for a new online journal service. As I wrote in the previous entry, I'm not feeling like Blogger is offering me everything I need. I checked out Wordpress tonight and played around with its interface, but I'm not sure if I like it any better to be honest. It has some interesting features in theory, but it feels awkward to use and you don't really have any idea of what things are going to come out looking like until you press the publish button, and well, I'm not sure if it's for me either. Is Typepad any good? Or is there another online journal service someone could recommend? I'd really appreciate any help. What I really would like is for Blogger to allow me to upgrade to their new service, but I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon.

The Weather at Work

Greg Van Eekhout asked people to post pictures from their workplaces. His was decidedly warm and sunny. I am jealous because this is my workplace right now.

I slid through an intersection on the way to work yesterday. It seems in the two years I spent without snow in Japan, I have forgotten how to drive on snowy roads. Well, at least I forgot for a moment. I have re-installed those skills since the sliding incident. Hopefully I will be involved in nothing of the sort again.

Welcome to Northeastern Ohio.

On a side note, I am getting really frustrated because blogger won't allow me to switch to the new version. Apparently I have either a blog that is too large, or else one that they created when they first showed up on the online journal scene and none of their information on their website is very clear about whether or not they're going to eventually include blogs like mine in being able to use the new version of blogger's fun-seeming features. I hate creating and disposing of blogs, and really wish this would just resolve itself soon, but if not, I may have to change after all. Please, please, please, blogger people, let me switch over too!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Zealanders Get It.

This was one of the most funny videos online I've seen in a long time. Thanks to Dave Schwartz for the link. Funny, but also I think indicative of both many American's frustration with the choices their government has been making in recent years, and also indicative of what I'm sure many other country's think of us.

We aren't what we used to be, and maybe we never were, but we're certainly becoming a jaded culture in the face of the horrendous mistakes our leaders have been making. I allowed myself a modicum of hope when the nation voted Democrats into power for the Senate and House this Fall, and I still am allowing myself a tiny reserve of that modicum of hope, but it's easy to see the Democrats, despite being in power, are pretty helpless because they can't figure out how to interrupt the President's plans without potentially looking like the bad guys come time for election in 2008.

History will remember George W. Bush as the worst president ever. Hopefully even a certain amount of U.S. citizens will learn from his failure not to vote based on values and morals. You can't legislate morality and values. You can't vote to make everyone believe the same things you believe. Differences should be honored and celebrated together. An attempt to flatten out a society so that everyone feels and thinks and lives the same way--and is considered less than human otherwise--will only bring a nation to its knees.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Nebulas and Reading

The Nebula Preliminary ballot is long in some categories this year, and short in others. The novel category, in particular, is really long. And the novelette category, where my story "The Language of Moths" is hanging out, is pretty long as well. The novellas are unfortunately few. The short story category looks...healthy enough. It looks like there was more nominating of works this past year, which is a good sign that writers are taking a more active role in the award process. If you're a SFWA member and want to read some of the work that we'll be voting on for the short list ballot, remember to check out the private SFWA list of online links to stories and pdf files of novels like Tobias Buckell's Crystal Rain, etc. Richard Bowes, author of From the Files of the Time Rangers is offering free copies of his novel to SFWA members who would like the chance to read it in time for the vote as well. You can find his email on that page. Make sure to take a look at what's on the list and decided for yourself what the best work of the past year has been in the speculative fiction genre. Like anything where voting takes place, it's important to represent.

I'm off to read some things I missed this year right now. I hope everyone's New Year got off to a good start. Mine has been hurried, but productive.

Oh, and also, here's the cover for Ellen Datlow's and Terri Windling's next anthology, Coyote Road: Trickster Tales, which includes my story, "Realer Than You". It looks like it's going to be a good one!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Never Enough Time

Spring semester at the university begins next week. My holidays are over and this week I'm busy catching up with everything I let go over the past couple of weeks. So much work! So, apologies to anyone if I'm late in replying to emails etc. Hopefully by the end of this weekend I'll be all caught up and ready to start 2007, which is already the beginning of a good year because my first novel will be appearing this Fall, and also my story, "The Language of Moths" is on the preliminary Nebula ballot. Things are good. I hope they keep on getting even better. I'm looking forward to all kinds of things.

Happy New Year to everyone!