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John Picacio
Posted on Wednesday, January 07, 2004 - 12:53 pm:   

I've been commissioned to do a cover illustration and design for a book called HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER, a collection of brilliant short stories by the late James Tiptree, Jr. The book was originally published by Arkham House and is now long out-of-print, but this spiffy new edition that I'm working on will be published by Tachyon sometime in 2004, I believe.

Anyway, I guess most people know that James Tiptree, Jr. was actually a woman named Alice Sheldon -- a former CIA agent who wrote brilliant short stories as she kept her identity hidden behind her male pseudonym. Her double identity was eventually revealed and she continued to write until she committed suicide in 1987. As I create this cover for this book, I keep wishing I would have met this woman. I never had the pleasure.

This is a total shot in the dark, but -- did anyone out there ever meet James Tiptree, Jr./Alice Sheldon....and do they have any anecdotes that they might be willing to share about her? Her work is very inspiring to me right now and like I said, I keep wishing I knew more about the woman herself.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, January 07, 2004 - 01:30 pm:   

John, when i was first starting out as a writer, Alice Sheldon called me up several times in the months preceding her death. I'd never met her, didn't know anything about her other than her work. I knew nothing at the time of her circumstance, but I have been told that she made such calls because she was trapped in the house with her husband, who had Alzheimers, and calls like the ones she made to me were simply a means of getting out of her environment. She was very generousand gracious to me -- she said she liked stories that she'd read. We talked more about my life than about hers. The calls would last about twenty minutes. They meant a great deal to me. Less than a month after the final one, she took her own life.

Don't know if that constitutes an anecdote, but it's all I got...
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Jonathan
Posted on Wednesday, January 07, 2004 - 03:45 pm:   

Hey John

I never had any kind of contact with Tiptree, but her story is amazing. Safari across Africa as a child, become a professional art critic, have some success as an artist, join the Army, help set up the CIA, become an agent, quit, get a degree in psychology, and then start writing SF as a way of dealing with exam stress. You couldn't make her story up. I hear someone is writing a biography, which would be fascinating.

Jonathan
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John Picacio
Posted on Wednesday, January 07, 2004 - 04:06 pm:   

Hey, Lucius --

I really appreciate you sharing that, man. That was really beautiful, actually....I know nothing of this woman, but her work is amazing....I'm new to her work as you can probably tell, and I really didn't know much about her before I started this cover....I just get the sense of this real nobility that she must have had....especially from the photos that her estate sent me today....but I also get the sense that she was a tortured soul as well and your story certainly seems to jive with that...thanks again, man.
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John Picacio
Posted on Wednesday, January 07, 2004 - 04:08 pm:   

Hey, Jonathan --

I didn't know someone was writing a bio about her! I will definitely buy that, if it ever comes to pass. Thanks for the info.....and you're right....you couldn't make up her story if you tried!!
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, January 07, 2004 - 09:46 pm:   

There is a collection available right now, from Tor I believe, that is half stories (work uncollected when she died), and half non-fiction. I remember being very impressed with how much this small book revealed about her, and her life.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/031286938X/qid=1073540861/sr=1-1/r ef=sr_1_1/002-4724622-7242467?v=glance&s=books

I read this collection for the Borderlands classic SF book group, which is attended by the owner of Tachyon. Small world. Can't wait to see what you deliver, John.

-jl
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Arnie
Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 01:34 am:   

Hey John,

Any word on the status of this book...? It's not mentioned on the Tachyon website yet, but I'd really love to have a copy I can read since I've got the Arkham House edition, but I'm afraid to read it (stupid collector mentality!).

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John Picacio
Posted on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 06:44 am:   

Hey, Arnie --

Sorry it took so long getting back to you. I was out-of-town at World Horror Con...got back late last night and I'm just now catching up on all my email...

I'm thinking HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER will be available late 2004/early 2005. I'm designing the cover for this one as well as illustrating it and I still don't have the final jacket copy, if that gives you an indication. The final illo is finished and everyone seems very happy with it. I've already submitted the front cover with final front cover typography for catalog purposes so that's done, but I'm waiting on the rest. I'm sure it'll happen in short order. The Tachyon folks are solid.

Before HER SMOKE releases, there'll be two other books from Tachyon with covers of mine.....James Morrow's THE CAT'S PAJAMAS AND OTHER STORIES and Suzy Mckee Charnas' STAGESTRUCK VAMPIRES AND OTHER PHANTASMS. So those should all release by the end of the year.
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Jeff Smith
Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 03:07 pm:   

John--

I just stumbled across this while reading through the nightshade site. You should have asked me about Tiptree; I could have done more than just send you the photos.

Your cover is beautiful -- I think it's the best cover there has ever been on a Tiptree book. Thank you.

The collection is being proofread this week; I haven't heard a definite publication date from Tachyon but it could well be in November.

The biography of Tiptree is tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2005, from St. Martin's. Author Julie Phillips did a wonderful job, and I think everyone who reads it will be fascinated.
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John Picacio
Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 08:25 pm:   

Hey, Jeff --

I really appreciate the good words. It was an honor to do the cover for HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER. I really appreciate you sending those photos of Alice. They were invaluable to me. I assume you need those back at some point.....I need to find those. They're here in the studio somewhere. :-)

But seriously -- thanks for the assist with those, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished book from Tachyon, and the Phillips bio on Tiptree next year.

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