I will be your dancing monkey, hat on the table.

So this is the post where I set out the hat and ask for some help.

Queen of the Iron Sands has always been free to read and supported by free-will donations, and over the years some very sweet people have been kind to me after enjoying it (or at least claiming to enjoy it, heh). I once mentioned on my LJ that my therapist’s office had screwed up one of my bills and over-charged me. All I’d really meant to do was bitch, yet a sudden torrent of donations appeared. It was flattering and heartwarming, but I’ve been careful since then to watch what I say when I talk about the donation buttons.

Well, today I’m talking about them in earnest. I’ve got some people I’d like to help.

Emma Bull, living treasure, author of some books you might have heard of including War for the Oaks, Falcon, Bone Dance, Finder, and Territory, is having a thyroidectomy on August 8th. A 4 cm nodule on her thyroid will be investigated, and either it or the entire thyroid will be removed. Emma provides full details here.

Steve Brust, acerbic man-demon, also a living treasure, is also the author of some books you might have heard of. The 13-soon-to-be-14 Vlad Taltos novels, starting with Jhereg. The Khaavren Romances. A crap-ton of standalone works and stuff with co-authors including Emma Bull and Megan Lindholm.

Steve has congestive heart trouble, and is having surgery on August 22nd to implant an automatic defibrilator in his chest. He says not much at all about it at his blog here.

Steve and Emma between them have made sweeping contributions to the field of fantastic literature. I read them both for years before, through the good graces of my girlfriend, I finally met them and had the chance to follow them around like a little groupie, offering to sharpen their pencils and open doors for them. It’s been rewarding! One time, Emma remembered my name. And about a week later, a day went by where Steve didn’t kick me. I squee’d!

But seriously… watching friends prepare for major medical issues is no fun. Especially when you have to watch from a distance. As I’m writing this, I’m still in Massachusetts. I hate the feeling of impotence and disconnection, of being able to do nothing. It’s goddamn possible cancer and heart failure… what the hell advice can I give, or tricks can I offer?

So here’s the new deal. I’m taking all future donations to Queen of the Iron Sands and I’m going to split them three ways. The first third I’ll keep to help finance the refurbishment of my site, the hosting bills, the commissioning of new art, the addition of useful features to make it a hub for all things Gentleman Bastard and beyond.

The other two-thirds, I’m going to donate directly to people who could use the boost. These people will change over time. But for starters, I’d like to beg for some help on behalf of Steve and Emma.

Neither of them knew about this in advance. Neither of them is blogging out of a cardboard box (nor living on palatial estates to which word-count ought to entitle them). Both of them sing vigorously for their supper (sometimes literally!) and have for decades, and if what the doctors are saying, both of them have good chances for positive outcomes following their surgeries. But the surgeries are going to suck god knows how many days or weeks out of their working lives. The after-effects are going to slow down and disrupt their other plans. That’s just the way major medical issues are.

Neither Steve nor Emma maintains a huge ‘net presence, so the news of their surgeries han’t exactly blanketed the web. But you really ought to give a damn, if you give a damn about good writing. And if you ever felt like being nice to me over Queen of the Iron Sands, be nice to me now, and help me send these two a financial nudge to smooth their recoveries. No complicated process. I’ll send them checks, and eventually I’ll ask them to publicly confirm that I’ve done so.

Hell, I’ll even sing a little for my supper, too.Think of it as a mini-Kickstarter. Hit some goals, and I’ll offer up some treats:

$500  Hit five hundred, and I’ll immediately eBook the full existing length of QotIS in every format I can reasonably manage. I mean to do this regardless, but I can be encouraged to do it faster.

$1000 Hit one grand, and I’ll pull out my pile of graph-paper maps from the early days of planning The Lies of Locke Lamora. There’s a lot of weird stuff in there… early versions of Camorr, rejected and modified versions of Locke’s world, sketches of buildings and costumes, notes to myself. I will scan them all and post them for free at my site. After that they’re going to the NIU special collection archives, so this’ll be your only chance to see them unless you want to visit NIU in person.

$1500 Hit fifteen hundred, and I’ll take you on a tour of my fire station. After a fashion! I’ll have a friend with a camera accompany me, and we’ll shoot a lengthy video. I’ll show you our trucks, our facilities, and my own gear rack, and explain what everything does in mind-numbing detail. I’ll even dress up in my gear for you and wave an axe. Up on Youtube said video will go.

$2000 Several weeks ago, I jokingly tweeted about writing a short story called “Locke and Jean vs. the Loch Ness Monster in Space.” Hit two grand and, by god, I’ll actually write it. The crazy thing is, I have an idea. It would not be a parody. And it would take me at least a month (TRoT first!). But it could be done.

$3000 In Chapter 2 of Queen of the Iron Sands, Violet mentions some of the short story titles in her own brief bibilography. One of them, as recorded in her letter from John W. Campbell, is “Cold Windings of the Murthalump.” Hit three grand and I’ll actually write this… in Violet’s authorial voice, as though it had been written by her around 1948-49, for publication in Astounding Science Fiction. The particularly fun thing about this is I currently have no idea what the hell the title refers to. None. As with “Locke and Jean vs. the Locke Ness Monster in Space,” this could take a little time.

UPDATE- August 7th – FUNDING LEVEL MURTHALUMP. WE HAVE ACHIEVED MURTHALUMP. Aw, god, you guys. I honestly doubted that I’d have to do this. 😛 I guess it’s heatwarming as hell that I was proven wrong so quickly. I’m getting notes from all over the world… people telling me how much Steve and Emma’s work has meant to them (wow, do I feel like I’m basking in somebody else’s sunbeam). I guess we need stretch goals…

$4000 My embarrassing juvenilia. I spent most of my teenage years under the delusion that I was going to be a comic book self-publisher and science-fiction illustrator. My drawing skill hit a plateau and I didn’t have the discipline to drag myself off it, so I swapped to plan B, writing. I do still have two sketchbooks of my SF/F conceptions, dopey ideas, character studies, aliens, mock covers, and so forth. So if this keeps up, I’ll hit the scanner again and upload a bunch of these for everyone’s delectation, dissection, and muted giggling.

If we manage to approach the $4500 level, I think (barring trouble with either surgery, knock on wood) I’ll wind the fundraising drive down. That would be an excellent balance between providing Emma and Steve with useful support and not draining everyone’s charitable batteries too much.

Donation buttons are sprinkled liberally all over the QotIS pages, but for easy reference, go here and glance left.

P.S. If you’re a fan of Emma or Steve, why not leave good wishes for Emma at her place and/or a note for Steve at his?


23 thoughts on “I will be your dancing monkey, hat on the table.

  1. My 17 year old’s middle name is Aliera, if that says anything about my love for Brust’s work. I will definitely help.

  2. I’ve been ill for most of my childhood – but never anything as serious as surgery (other than the one as an infant that allowed me to hear properly). Still, I know how expensive it all is (another test tomorrow in fact, what joy).
    I’m resting on a pretty comfortable step in life at the moment, I may as well donate while I can. I’ll keep an eye out for their work as I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, and I wish them all the best for their health.

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  4. “Locke and Jean vs. the Loch Ness Monster in Space” needs to happen. It must. …will you be keeping a running total somewhere so that we can tell how close that is to happening?

    • 1. Kickstarter, to the best of my knowledge, specifically has a “no charities” stipulation.

      2. Time. Emma’s surgery is in two days and Steve’s in in two weeks. I wanted to have whatever financial bulwark I could get to them in place asap, just in case.

      3. General principle. I have several major traditionally-arranged projects to turn in first, the good old-fashioned way, before I have any business peering at Kickstarter. :)



  5. Done. Mr. Brust was kind enough to make time to sign a stack of books for me at a con a few years ago, and Territory is one of the best books I’ve read in the past year.

  6. Why did no one ever tell me about Queen of the Iron Sands before? Glad I’ve heard of it now, at any rate – anyway, I’m likely to read almost anything that begins by quoting John Gillespie Magee, just out of principle. So in this case, virtue – clicking through when I heard about your fundraiser for Emma and Steve – was its own reward.

    I do have one small kvetch, though: how can anyone discuss Bull & Brust in the same post without a mention of Freedom and Necessity? The love letter in that book alone (swoon-worthiness for the thinking woman) is worth a donation.

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  8. This is really nice of you Scott, and I do hope things go well for Emma and Steve. The idea of getting more of your writing (especially Locke and Jean vs. the Loch Ness Monster in Space) as well as gratitude to you for Queen of the Iron Sands has inspired me to donate.

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  10. Soooo… does this mean you will do each & every one of those things seeing as each goal was met & surpassed?! *grins mischievously*

  11. Oh holy fishgoobles, I am a volunteer firefighter (and a huge nerd) as well and I have been dying to see your station (and probably weep at how much newer your equipment is than ours). Gonna have to scrape some cashola off my next paycheck for this, clearly….

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  13. Is there anyway for us to track how much you’ve raised? Watching those numbers often make me feel better about the world.

  14. I’ve been a huge fan of Steven Brust’s work since I was very young. I already own all of his current books, but I’ll be happy to donate some to help out. Wishing both of Steven and Emma a quick and speedy recovery!

  15. Stephen Brust and his books got me through a very rough point in my life when I was struggling with cancer. My husband’s best friend Ross was in the same boat and we shared the Vlad Taltos books one by one, talked, bonded, commiserated, adventured and laughed together. I made it, Ross didn’t. But the memories we shared with those books, and by proxy with Stephen, are a valuable memory and I wait with excitement, love and heartbreak for every book he publishes. And in my thoughts and my heart I share them with my good friend Ross. I’m happy to donate a give a little of that back to an author who was so important to me. All the best to Stephen and Emma.

  16. Just heard about this and the comments sound like you have achieved all your goals but I donated anyway, hope you don’t mind :)
    Steve and Emma are great and I look forward to getting acquainted with your writing as well. Can’t wait for the epub full download so I can read it more easily than the RTF.

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