Sunday, December 14, 2014

KJ Kabza’s Under Stars

From time to time, I like to brag about some of the great work my former students are doing. (I may be taking too much credit in calling them “my students.” They participated in my writing workshops, but they came loaded for bear with talent.) One of them, Chris Howard, created the cover art for The Infinite Sea, and is working on art for Seas of Ernathe. Another, LJ Cohen, has come out with several books, both SF and fantasy, leaning toward young adult.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned KJ Kabza before, but the time is long past due. KJ is a short story writer more than a novelist, and as such he is one of the brightest and most original new talents I’ve seen in a long time. He’s been selling to magazines such as Fantasy and Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, and Nature (yes, that Nature, the one with all the science). He’s come out with not one but two collections of his stories, available right now in ebook format.








If you like quirky, eclectic SF and fantasy in the short form, do give him a try! And look for more about his work at kjkabza.com/.




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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Colbert Interviews Smaug

No sooner do I get that last post up than I see this, from last night on the Colbert Report. Stephen interviews Smaug the dragon:






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Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat

That’s the assertion of Stephen Colbert in this classic bit from 2010. I’m going to miss the Colbert Report when it goes off the air next week.




The Boston Globe has compiled some of Colbert’s best moments.

And you don’t want to miss President Obama, taking Colbert’s seat and lampooning himself. Great stuff.  And good to see that he’s kept his sense of humor.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Well, It’s Happened Again

You’ve squandered another perfectly good hour listening to... no wait, that’s Car Talk.

This is Bookbub. That’s right, starting today, I’m practically giving away another book: Star Rigger’s Way, which only recently came back into e-print via my Starstream imprint. Ninety-nine big ones for this novel, for one week only. That’s 99 Lincoln pennies, neatly lined up with all the dates right-side up, please. That’s less than a dollar, and much less than half of a Starbuck’s coffee! What’s not to like about that?

Fun facts about Star Rigger’s Way:

1. A minor character in this book, Legroeder, became the main character of a later book, Eternity’s End.
2. Characters only mentioned in passing in this book—i.e., space-faring dragons—became the central element of two other novels, currently available in one omnibus, called Dragon Space.
3. The original Dell paperback cover for this far-future saga appeared to feature a guy in a NASA-issue spacesuit, taking a space walk from Skylab. (Remember Skylab?) It was a very pretty cover. But a tad anachronistic.

You can get this deal in any of the following book pubs:

Kindle | Nook | Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks | Google

That’s $.99, for a limited time only!


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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Funnier Star Wars Trailer

From the sublime (previous post) to the silly. Disney recently released the first trailer for the forthcoming Star Wars movie: Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.

Saturday Night Live released their own version of the trailer (thanks to the Boston Globe for the link). See Chewie in the cone of shame:


You can also see it here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/723366

 

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Wanderers (of a Strange and Distant Time)

Want to be mesmerized for three and a half minutes? Open this on a good monitor, click the “full screen” icon in the lower right of this video, turn up the sound, and sit back and journey the solar system. See if you recognize the voice.



Thanks to Astronomy Picture of the Day for showing it to me. For more information about the film and scenes depicted, visit the website of Erik Wernquist, who assembled the film. A remarkable piece of inspiration.

And yes, my title line is a near-quote from the Moody Blues. Extra point if you can name the album, without looking it up.



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Monday, December 08, 2014

The “Carver” Papers at BGSU’s “Browne Center for Popular Culture” Get an Infusion

Any scholars of writing out there? If you want to study my manuscripts down through the ages years, I know where you can go. I just shipped off nine (9) heavy boxes of manuscripts, plus some hardcover books, covers, BSG script and story bible, etc., to Bowling Green State University’s Browne Popular Culture Library. That’s Bowling Green, Ohio, by the way, not Kentucky. They will join an already fairly extensive holding of my stuff, which I first seeded in the 1990s. Since then, I’ve been letting boxes of various drafts, etc., pile up in my office (by procrastination, not design). Now, in a paroxysm of trying to make enough room to turn around in my office, I have laboriously wrapped them all in multiple layers of shipping tape and sent them to their new home.

Four of the nine boxes
You can view the inventory of the “Jeffrey A. Carver” papers online, but to actually see the materials, you must travel to the Jerome Library at BGSU. I was told by a librarian from another university that they have done an excellent job of cataloging the materials. Anyhow, that’s where to go if you want to look at the multiple rough drafts of Sunborn, before I got to the final version, for instance. Or the heavy line editing I did on an enlarged photocopy of the Dell version of Panglor to produce the revised version for the later Tor (and my ebook) editions. You can even look at some of the editorial correspondence related to some of the books.

They have a pretty good collection of stuff by various authors, by the way. Take a look at their overall listing of manuscripts.

Fun fact about BGSU: Although I have no affiliation with the university beyond the fact that they’ve provided a home for my literary papers, my father, Robert D. Carver, went there to finish his uncompleted undergraduate education and got his diploma from BGSU at the age of 70-something.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

What I want on My Gravestone


THE TYPOS ARE YOUR PROBLEM NOW!

Oh, how I want that to be true!

I’ve just finished spending a lot of time over several days fixing typos that a reader found in the three-book omnibus of The Chaos Chronicles. The irony is that I had just put up a new version of The Infinite Sea, with a new cover—and with several typos (or formattos) fixed that I had found myself while rereading the book. (I’ve been reading through all the Chaos series, to refresh my memory on the story details as I write the fifth book.) The very next morning, I received an email from Kindle support, listing four typos that “readers” had reported in the Chaos omnibus. I checked, and sure enough, they were real typos. They were also spread across all three books—so I had to correct, not only the omnibus volume, but all of the individual novels as well. (The two in The Infinite Sea were different from the ones that I had found in my own reading.)

I have no idea how many times these books have been gone through, by me and by others, trying to catch any lingering mistakes. It just goes to prove how blasted hard it is to catch everything.

I’ve written before about how time-consuming it can be to fix typos in ebooks, especially when you have several slightly different versions distributed across a bunch of different outlets, in two different ebook formats. I took the opportunity this time to fix something that was already on my to-do list, and that was to change all the quotation marks from straight quotes to curly quotes. When I first created these books, ebook reading devices could not be counted upon to display curly quotes correctly, and I avoided them like the plague. Now, though, it’s normal to have curly quotes in ebooks, and the lack of them in these books made them look a little less professional than I would have liked. So, that’s done now. (Changing them is quick—a simple Find and Replace in Word. Checking for all the insidious ways in which Word can screw it up is not nearly so quick.)

If you own any of the first three Chaos Chronicles ebooks, you should be able to go back to the store where you got them and download updated versions.

And if you’re one of the readers who reported the typos to Kindle support . . . (sigh) . . . thanks. I really do want the books to be as error-free as humanly possible.

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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Launch of Orion

Yesterday’s unmanned test flight of NASA’s Orion deep-space craft is a great boost for those of us who want to see us back in the game of venturing beyond the Earth. We’ve had sensational successes in robotic missions; but not since the 1970s, with the end of the Apollo Moon program, has a human being flown beyond low-Earth orbit. It’s high time we got back out there, and got on with the challenge of making us a spacefaring, multi-world species. Here’s what the launch looked like:



Also of note is that the launch rode the fires of a Delta IV Heavy rocket, which actually uses advanced, American-made rocket engines. (Many of our crucial space launches nowadays ride on Russian-made engines—including military launches, which is really weird and unsettling, when you think about it. Nothing against the very smart Russian rocket designers, but given the political direction of Russia these days, I’m not happy being so dependent on them for access to space.)

I only wish we were giving this program the proper funding, so that the development of deep-space capability weren’t being stretched out over decades. The next launch of Orion isn’t scheduled until 2017.

Anyway, Go NASA!
 

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Friday, December 05, 2014

In the Game at Google Play

Many of you have asked me, “Jeff, why can’t I buy your books in the Google Play Store?” Well, okay, no one has ever asked me that. But now you don’t have to. Because all my books, or almost all of them, are now up in the Google Play Store.

Why the delay? Well, to be honest, when the Google store (which everyone thought would be an Amazon-threatening game-changer) opened, it was kind of a train wreck. The listings were scrambled and inaccurate, the interface for an individual author wanting to list books was incomprehensible, and in general it was a place you really didn’t want to hang around in. But that was then, and this is now. They’ve cleaned things up pretty good, and the interface for both those putting their books up and those wanting to buy books is generally up to the standards of all the other stores.

Do people actually buy books there? Well, so far my own listings are off to a slow start. But when I had books with E-reads, and later Open Road, I did see some sales there but not a lot. It used to be I didn’t sell much of anything at Kobo, either, but their regular promotions have turned that around, and now Kobo is a significant player in the big picture (my personal big picture, that is). One can hope that something like that will happen with Google.

Anyhow, if you’re an Android user (as I am), you probably stop into the Play Store from time to time. Now, when you do that, you can buy books, too. Even mine. Here’s my author page there: https://play.google.com/store/books/author?id=Jeffrey+A.+Carver


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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Ursula LeGuin Gives Moving National Book Awards Speech

"Truth is a matter of the imagination." That's a quote from the Left Hand of Darkness, a classic of science fiction, that I've had up on my website for years.

In receiving a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the recent National Book Awards ceremony (Neil Gaiman presented the award to her), science fiction and literary titan Ursula K. LeGuin gave a moving and heartfelt speech that began by celebrating SF and fantasy and all of its writers, and went on to criticize the trend among publishers and mega-sellers of treating books as commodity, instead of art with an intrinsic value to society that goes beyond dollars. She lit pretty well into Amazon for their recent battle with Hachette, with authors caught in the middle. (For the record, I don’t altogether agree with her assessment of that situation, in which I think the publisher was at least as much at fault. But then, who am I to argue with Ursula LeGuin?)

I certainly appreciated, and was touched by, her saying that she shares this award with all writers of speculative fiction. Ms. LeGuin, by the way, is a founding member of Book View Café.




Link via Blastr

 

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Infinite Sea Goes Live at BVC, and Gets a New Look, Besides

My third Chaos book, The Infinite Sea, has been out as an ebook for quite a while, but I’ve been waiting to put it up at Book View Café until I could get a new cover designed for it. I’ve been wanting a new cover for a long time, but I couldn’t find the right art. (On my budget, the art on my books usually comes from stock art web sites, sometimes with significant massaging, or combining of images, by whoever does the design work for me. On my more recent books, that design work has been expertly done by my fellow BVC writer, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff. Sometimes I can use the original art from the print edition, with permission of the artist, and that’s cool, when it happens.) But in this case, I just couldn’t find what I wanted: an undersea tableau on an alien world.

Enter Chris Howard, writer and artist, whom I first met when he enrolled in the Ultimate Science Fiction Writing Workshop that I’ve run from time to time with my friend Craig Shaw Gardner. Chris is a gifted writer. It turns out he’s also a terrifically talented artist. Take a look at his website, saltwaterwitch.com, and tell me he’s not. I commissioned a piece of original art from Chris, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.  

The Infinite Sea goes on sale today at Book View Café in its new clothes:

Original artwork (c) by Chris Howard


For those who like history, here’s what the future looked like in print from Tor Books, and also its previous ebook cover, which I created myself, using Chaoscope, a chaos image generator. I liked the Tor cover a lot, and I liked the chaos image, though my hand-made cover had a, well, hand-made look to it. I’m really psyched to be moving on to the new image, from Chris Howard (type design by Maya). It will replace the versions currently in all the other stores, as well.

 And these last two covers will retire, with honor.

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Odyssey Online Writing Classes to Begin Soon

Odyssey Writing Workshops is one of the premier SF/F writing workshops in the world, a six-week-long intensive program that takes the best writing candidates and helps them be all that they can be. Or wait—maybe that’s the Army. Anyway, they’re really, really good, led by the energetic and incredibly knowledgeable Jeanne Cavelos. I’ve done a couple of guest spots over the years and have been mightily impressed, both by the program and by the writers.

Well, that workshop occurs in the late Spring. But they’ve begun an online version, with some classes starting in January and February. If you’re an aspiring SF/F writer, you really might want to take a look. Don’t wait! Applications for the first sessions close soon!

Here’s where to go: http://www.sff.net/odyssey/online.html. Tell them I sent you.

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Kobo on Cyber Monday

I can’t believe I just said that. I hate all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday crap, and the whole BUY BUY BUY ramp-up. Nevertheless, Kobobooks has a one-day 35% off sale today on selected ebooks, and it's pretty good. My selection is Dragon Space, an omnibus edition of Dragons in the Stars and Dragon Rigger, a pair of books in my Star Rigger universe. You can find it here, and use the coupon code CYBERMONDAY35 to get your discount. Today only!

To see the whole list of books in the sale, go to this page. You have to keep hitting Show More Results at the bottom to see all the books. My favorite book cover in the sale: Pet Noir, by Pati Nagle.




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Friday, November 14, 2014

Old Promos, New Promos

In case you’ve been sitting on a fence biting your nails, trying to decide whether to plunk down your hard-earned ninety-nine cents on a copy of my ebook Panglor during its Bookbub sale, you’ve got through tonight to make up your mind. Then the price goes back up, and there’ll be nothing I can do to help you, except pat your shoulder as you learn to live with your regret. But you don’t have to live with your regret. Just visit any of the major ebook stores, and be decisive! Join the other 2500 wooters suckers readers who have, er, joined in! (That's a real number, by the way. It's been a great promo!)

This doesn’t mean there are no good deals after tonight, though. In fact, those crazy folks at Kobobooks have another special going, 35% off on selected ebook titles for the next week. Lots of stuff on sale, including my Chaos Chronicles: Books 1-3 omnibus (which they’ve grouped with boxed sets, rather than science fiction). There are some cool looking books by some of my friends at Book View Cafe. For example: Chris Dolley, Chaz Brenchley, Judith Tarr, and Cat Kimbriel. (I apologize to anyone I missed.)

One week only!

Here, in case you've forgotten what it looks like. And because blog posts look better with pictures.



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Riding a Comet!


The successful landing of Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the European Space Agency is a welcome bright spot in this month’s space news. Bright for science, and bright for the spirit of exploration. Well done, ESA!

As I type this, I don’t know if Philae has yet run out of battery power. In case you’ve been living in a mine this week, Philae dropped across space to a landing, but took a few unfortunate bounces and ended up resting on a precarious spot with too much shadow for its solar cells. I wish we could send it a light! I’d even contribute my Stanley car jumpstart battery, if it would help. Well, I’m sure Philae’s clever scientist-parents will make the most of it. And I can’t wait to find out what they learn. [Update: Apparently it has run out of battery power, after drilling into the comet, but before sending data back. Ow, that hurts. But there may be opportunity for it to recharge slowly, in the coming months, and maybe come back to life for a while. Let's hope.]

It’s amazing how little we knew about comets until we started visiting them in robotic person. We used to think they were basically dirty snowballs. Now we see that they’re much more like asteroids, but with some snow and ice to provide outgassing for the halo.

As I looked at the pictures of the comet, I found myself thinking of John Bandicut, fictional space pilot in my novel Neptune Crossing. John had to smack just such a comet really really hard, to keep it from hitting Earth. Looking at those pictures of a real comet, I reflected on how Bandie was one mongo brave dude to do such a thing. Even if he did have alien science working for him, and was half out of his mind with silence fugue. When I wrote the scene, I knew he was brave. But I don’t think I knew just how brave.

Thanks, Bandie, for riding that other comet!  (Even if you are fictional, and in the future.)

I like XKCD's view of the landing:

http://xkcd.com/1446/

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Friday, November 07, 2014

Panglor Goes Off the Deep End

Panglor is kind of a weird guy, and Panglor is kind of a weird book. Much of it takes place on an extremely weird planet. You wouldn’t want to miss that, would you—all the weirdness? The guy feels as if he’s about to go off the deep end at any moment, and for a week the book is going off the deep end, at least with respect to price. (Is this another Bookbub special? Of course it is. Get the ebook for $0.99, for a limited time only.)

I wrote Panglor in my late twenties, immediately following my second novel Star Rigger’s Way, which is a coming-of-age space adventure. Star Rigger’s Way is full of youthful angst. Panglor is full of angst squared, and the thought: What might happen if the frustration, angst, and anger of the young adult of Star Rigger’s Way never got resolved. What might happen if a good space pilot went a little off the deep end emotionally, turning just crazy enough to become a little scary, but still (just) within the bounds of professional competency? And what if he met up with a young woman, smart and a little off balance herself, seemingly born just to become a thorn in his side?

And what if they both wound up on a planet occupying some kind of weird nexus in space-time, a place where reality itself seems broken, concealing a crucial discovery that will change the course of star travel?

You can find out, of course, by reading the book. As I said in an earlier post, this book didn't get much love in its original paperback from Dell, but has been well received as an ebook. I revised the text for a Tor paperback after the Dell edition, and that is the version in this ebook. (And, by the way, any correlation between the mental condition of the characters and the mental state of the author at the time of the writing is, er, purely coincidental.)

Panglor is listed as Book 1 in The Star Rigger Universe. Actually it’s a prequel to the Star Rigger Universe. It’s about the discovery that leads to star rigging. How we got from the discovery to the actual practice of star rigging is a story I haven’t written yet. Maybe I should!

Here's where you can get the $0.99 special: 
 
One week only!

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Haldemans Retire from MIT

Science fiction writer Joe Haldeman and his wonderful wife Gay have retired from part-time teaching at MIT, after thirty years of teaching students the craft of fiction writing (Joe) and the art of writing clear, comprehensible English prose (Gay). Florida residents most of the year—unless you call them Earth residents, because I’ve never known a more well-traveled couple—they’ve been coming to Cambridge every Fall for the last thirty years, and we’ve managed to snag a dinner with them many of those years.

Joe was one of the first professionals I met when I was a new writer entering the science fiction field. At the time, he was all the buzz in the industry because he’d snared a record-setting advance for his novel Mindbridge. He introduced me to Jim Frenkel, who soon became my editor and friend.  Years later, when Joe became seriously ill in the Fall of 2009, I had the privilege of stepping in for him, teaching his SF writing class at MIT for a semester.

Joe and Gay (Jim Kelly referred to them as “Joe-and-Gay, like space-time”) got to watch my kids grow up in time-lapse fashion. My younger daughter Julia once wondered aloud, as a teenager, why her own contemporaries weren’t as much fun as Joe and Gay.

Here are a couple of pix taken at their retirement dinner at MIT, on a balcony overlooking Boston’s beautiful Charles River basin.

Gay and Joe Haldeman, September 2014

Me, Joe, and Jim Kelly

We're going to miss our annual dinners. But if anyone has earned a happy retirement, it's Joe and Gay.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Spaceship Two Crashes on Test Flight

This has been a wrenching week for space enthusiasts, and especially space entrepreneurs. I just read the heartbreaking news that Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two exploded during a powered test flight today, killing one of the two pilots and seriously injuring the other. (This follows the explosion, a few days ago, of Orbital Science’s Antares cargo rocket, on liftoff for the International Space Station.) Both were privately funded space ventures.

Spaceship Two, of course, was slated to carry paying passengers on brief excursions into space (suborbital, not orbital). It is the offspring of Spaceship One, which a few years ago won the Ansari X-Prize for being the first privately funded craft to reach space, and to turn around and do it again a short time later. Spaceship One was funded largely by Microsoft’s Paul Allen, while Spaceship Two is funded by Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic.
 

Spaceship Two after release from White Knight Two. LA Times photo


Spaceship Two explodes soon after. LA Times photo

What this means for the future of Spaceship Two is not yet clear. It was flying with a new fuel today from that used in previous test flights. Perhaps that caused the rocket engine to explode, or perhaps not; it’s too soon to know.

As we’ve heard more than once from those who know a lot more than I do, “Space is hard.” There will be accidents. My heart goes out to those hurt by this one, the pilots and their families and friends, and all of those associated with this venture. But I’m going to echo here a quote that my colleague Geoff Landis echoed from someone else on Facebook:

"It is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better.

The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

— Theodore Roosevelt
This is how I will remember Spaceship Two:

Spaceship Two during an earlier, successful test flight. LA Times photo

 

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Happy Halloween Kobo Sale: Oct. 31– Nov. 3

If you like to buy ebooks at Kobo (they’re the ones with the waterproof ereader!), you might like their sale running this weekend: 35% off on selected titles. I’ve got a couple of books in the sale, as do some of my colleagues at Book View Café. What you do is pick your books from the sale page and apply this coupon code at checkout: UNLIMITED35.

That sale page will let you see the whole spectrum of offerings. For my own books, you can go straight to Eternity’s End and Star Rigger’s Way. But don't forget to use the coupon code.

Trivia point: The hero of Eternity’s End, name of Legroeder, first appears as a minor (but important) character in Star Rigger’s Way, when he helps the hero of that book out of a jam. The genesis of Eternity’s End was my editor Jim Frenkel asking me, “Whatever became of that guy Legroeder? Don’t you ever wonder?”

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Flying Car on the Horizon!

This story made me immediately think of my Slovenian-made moped, a Tomos. Well, the wily Slovakians are giving my neighbors the Terrafugia people a run for their money on the race to develop a practical flying car. (A race that’s been on for, what, sixty or seventy years? About as long as the race to develop practical fusion power.)

Take a look at this beauty, the Aeromobil 3.0.



(Best viewed at full-screen size.)
View on Washington Post

Estimated to cost only a few hundred thousand dollars! (But I’ve already got the pilot’s license, so I’m partway there.) Woo-hoo!



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Antares Explosion

I’ve written from time to time about the encouraging progress being made in privately funded efforts to get us into space. SpaceX has certainly had some great successes lately. And so has Orbital Sciences. But I suppose I should note the bad along with the good. This failure of the Antares cargo rocket bound for the ISS, yesterday, had to be a huge blow to the folks at Orbital Sciences. But thankfully no one was hurt.


It’s yet another reminder that space travel isn’t easy, and won’t be for a long time to come. Let’s hope they can find the cause of this, fix it, and get back onto the Star Road. Because as Tsiolkovsky said, we can’t live in the cradle forever.



Addendum: The Antares rocket was powered with refurbished Soviet-made rocket engines. This in itself isn't unusual, since several of our major launch vehicles, the Atlas and Delta, are now powered by Russian-made rocket engines (though I believe of a later design). Whether this is a good idea or not is an entirely different question.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Enough With the Auto Accidents!

A little over a year ago, our daughter Lexi got hit by a car while biking, injuring her knees and laying her up for a while. A little less than a year ago, my wife Allysen got rear-ended in our 2010 Fusion, leaving her unharmed but the Fusion totaled. Yesterday, Lexi got hit again, rear-ended in her Subaru on an on-ramp in Providence. She’s got some whiplash to deal with, and the jury is still out on her home-on-wheels Outback. I’m really grateful she’s alive and relatively uninjured, as auto accidents go. But she’s pretty upset, understandably. We were concerned about her safety in Lebanon (the trip went fine), but forgot to be concerned about her safety here on our own roads.

Can’t we all just drive our cars without hitting people? I hereby vow to increase my own vigilance behind the wheel.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Excuse Me While I Reboot My Window

No, not my computer. My car window. Our beloved Ford Fusion, Katniss, suddenly developed a very odd problem with the power window: Press Down to make the window go down, lift Up to make the window go up—and then watch it go back down again, all on its own, and very determinedly. Weird. Also—perhaps related, and perhaps not—we found the car the other day with the battery dead, Jim, and no apparent reason why.

I solved the dead battery on Sunday by jumping with my handy Stanley jump-start unit, and the battery gave no further problem. (Though it worried me a little.) But when the window started going down on its own, I took Katniss straight to the Ford dealer and let them work on it.

The upshot? “We had to reinitialize the motor on the window.” Which is either Geordi fixing something in the computer of the Enterprise, or us rebooting our car window. I knew computers were everywhere in cars, but the windows? Apparently so. Got a problem? Reboot.

As for the battery? When I went to pick up the car, they assured me the battery had tested out okay. Except when I got in to drive it away, the battery was dead, dead, dead. An hour later I had a new battery (covered by warranty, of course), and I’m so glad it happened in the dealer’s parking lot, and not a number of other places I can think of!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Odyssey Story Slam in New Hampshire!

Are you planning to be in the vicinity of Amherst, New Hampshire on Sunday, November 2? Good! Because there’s going to be a fun event at the LaBelle Winery, which is a Bonfire Story Slam! A group of twenty SF/F writers, including moi, will be reading short-short stories (or, in the case of a few of us, excerpts) around a bonfire. What better setting for stories than a winery?*

This is not only a great event, but also a fund-raiser in support of the terrific Odyssey Writing Workshop, which I have visited on several occasions as a guest lecturer. Come enjoy some stories and s’more stories!

*My best book signing ever was at my favorite local wine store, during a wine tasting.

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Short Story Contest!

Any short-short story writers out there? I’ve just gotten a notice for an interesting-sounding SF writing contest, with a $1000 first prize and no rights grab. That second part is what really struck me. But your story entry has to be 1500 pages (Edit: Oops, that should be 1500 words) or under. Here’s the dope:

THE ROSWELL AWARD FOR SHORT FICTION
Presented by Sci-Fest LA
(FOR ADULT WRITERS OVER THE AGE OF 18)

SCI-FEST LA: The Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival is happy to announce the launch our new short story writing contest for adult writers over the age of 18 called THE ROSWELL AWARD.  All submissions must be short stories (not plays), must be an original work of science fiction (not fan fiction) and must be no longer than 1500 words.  The contest is open to U.S. writers as well as writers outside the U.S.  Five finalists will be chosen and their stories will be read aloud by professional actors associated with iconic Sci-Fi TV shows in a special awards ceremony to be held at the festival on May 23, 2015 at 7:00 PM (Memorial Day Weekend).  The winner of THE ROSWELL AWARD FOR SHORT FICTION will receive a donated cash prize of $1,000.00.  All stories submitted must be typed in English and must have the contestant’s name, email address and phone number clearly typed on the title page.  All entries must be submitted electronically via the website.  Entries longer than 1500 words will be disqualified.  See terms and conditions for submitting at the website.  The deadline for submissions is January 15th, 2015.  Submit stories at www.sci-fest.com  Finalists will be notified by March 15th, 2015.   Sci-Fest LA is produced by Michael Blaha, Lee Costello and David Dean Bottrell (“Boston Legal”).

It looks legit, as far as I can see. Note that they ask for the right to shop your story around to producers. But they don’t ask for any fee or commission, even in the event of a sale.

Do you write short? Go for it!

 

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Star Rigger’s Way Finds Its Way

Dell paperback (first edition)
...back into ebook, for the first time since June!  Yes, the long wait is over. Star Rigger’s Way is now available in all-new clothes, in its long-awaited Starstream edition. Completely reformatted and with a new cover, this is not one to miss! (Wait—have any of my offerings been ones to miss? I hope not.)

Star Rigger’s Way was not my first star rigger novel (that distinction belongs to Seas of Ernathe), but it grew out of my first star rigger story, which was called “Alien Persuasion,” and appeared in Galaxy during the twilight years of that esteemed magazine. (If you want to read the story, you can find it in my collection, Going Alien, along with a cool illustration of the alien, Cephean, by Freff.) In its first edition, Star Rigger’s Way was published by Dell Books, during the twilight years of that publisher’s esteemed science fiction line. (Do you detect a pattern here?) Later, I revised it for a new edition from Tor Books, and that’s the version that’s in this ebook.

Within the Star Rigger Universe chronology, this book falls in the middle. Panglor sets the stage, with the discovery of certain properties of space-time that lead to the development of starship rigging through the Flux. The two dragon books (combined in Dragon Space) come next, well into the era of rigging but before the RiggerGuild, an institution created to protect the well-being of riggers, who are pilots with extreme sensitivity in certain areas of perception and imagination, and often vulnerable personality types. Eternity’s End follows close on the heels of Star Rigger’s Way, picking up the story of Legroeder, a minor character in this book. Seas of Ernathe jumps way into the future, at a time when the rigging techniques have been lost or forgotten.

Here’s the e-jacket copy for the new edition of Star Rigger’s Way:
His shipmates dead, star rigger Gev Carlyle is adrift in the Flux, the subjective hyperspace that carries ships between the stars. His lone companion, and sole hope for survival, is a suicidal catlike alien named Cephean. Only a compatible rigger team, their visions meshed in psychic unity, can safely harness the turbulent currents of the Flux—and Carlyle's ship is sailing inexorably toward the deadly maelstrom of the Hurricane Flume. For even a chance at survival, he needs Cephean's help. But the price for that is a complete merging of minds and memories. And Carlyle, at war with his own past, dreads that union more than death itself.

A grand space adventure, from the Nebula-nominated author of Eternity’s End and The Chaos Chronicles. (Etc.)
Available, of course, wherever fine bits and bytes are sold.


Starstream Publications ebook
 

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Saturday, October 04, 2014

BookBub Rumbles Down the Stream of Stars

Time for another ebook special. This time Down the Stream of Stars is discounted, starting today and continuing for a week. Just $.99—which if you look carefully, you will see is less than a dollar! Such a deal.

Starstream! In a great diaspora, starships ply the ethereal new highway into the galaxy. But none could have guessed the dangers unleashed by the starstream—including the deadly Throgs. When starship Charity flies into peril, a young Claudi Melnik confronts a threat from beyond space and time. Triumphant sequel to From a Changeling Star and a daring journey to the heart of consciousness itself.

Named one of the best SF novels of the year by Science Fiction Chronicle.

And if you haven’t signed up yet for Bookbub's daily/weekly “ebook deals” emails, what are you waiting for? Don’t you like to read?
 

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

3D Printing Now—and Then

I was reading recently about the delivery of the first 3D printer in space to the International Space Station, by the SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship. You can read all about it here, and it’s pretty cool.

Not long after, I was reading a piece of fiction I’ve had around for a while that included this paragraph:

Igor’s countrymen, though lacking many earth techniques, were far ahead of earth in manufacturing skill. They used a single general type of machine to manufacture almost anything. They fed into it a plan which Igor called for want of a better term the blueprints—it was in fact, a careful scale model of the device to be manufactured; the machine retooled itself and produced the artifact. One of them was, at that moment, moulding the bodies of fighting planes out of plastic, all in one piece and in one operation.
That’s from Robert Heinlein’s “Elsewhen,” first published in 1941. It’s included in the collection Assignment in Eternity.


That man had some vision. 

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"The Singularity," at the Science Fiction Theater Company in Boston

I’d never heard of the Science Fiction Theater Company, but a friend who’s not an SF fan emailed me and said I should see The Singularity, because it’s witty and wonderful. So with my wife and daughter I went—and we loved it! The play, by Crystal Jackson, is about Astrid, a woman who’s on her last egg, and who wants a baby so badly she inseminates herself with stolen dark matter and a turkey baster before she loses her chance. It’s hilarious, partly because Astrid is the closest thing to a normal person in the play, and she gets to act the straight man to all the loonies. Kathy-Ann Hart does a wonderful job with the part, as do all the other actors.



Never mind the part about dark matter; it’s just a MacGuffin. Neither the playwright nor the one reviewer I read showed any understanding of what dark matter is. But what the hey, scientists don’t know, either. The title was a mystery to me until the very end—which I should warn you, comes rather abruptly, perhaps a little too abruptly. The reference is not to the transhumanist technological singularity that’s become a central concept in a lot of recent science fiction, but rather to the singularity that might or might not have come before the Big Bang.

Anyway, if you’re in Boston, the show has one more weekend to play. Tickets here.




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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Turkeys Afoot!

It was about six weeks ago that I first encountered the family of wild turkeys on the bikepath near our house. I was walking Captain Jack when I came upon them: two adults and four youths, taking their own stroll. They didn’t seem very concerned about us, and Jack didn’t seem terribly interested in them, which struck me as odd.  Here they are on August 6.


We’ve run into them probably about once a week, since then. Here they are today, September 17. The young’uns are quite a bit bigger now. I took this picture about ten seconds  before Captain Jack pulled the leash out of my hand (I was trying to email the picture) and bolted after them, chasing them into the trees. No one was hurt. No harm, no fowl. Heh.




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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Panglor Is Alive! (Again)


Panglor was my third novel, one I really enjoyed writing, and one that people seem to like a lot now, although in its original paperback publication from Dell it sank like a stone. Maybe tastes change, or maybe the original release was hampered by a pretty awful cover and the fact that Dell was already thinking about getting out of the SF business at the time. Or maybe it just took people a while to recognize my genius. Yeah, that must be it. And it got even geniuser, I’m sure, when I gave it a good, solid edit for its 1996 reissue from Tor.

In any case, it has a bunch of 5-star reviews from readers on Amazon. I like this one: “Truly GREAT!!” posted by “A Customer.” And this: “I hate Sci-Fi, but I love Carver's novels!” When it was out in its E-reads edition, it was consistently my best-selling book among the E-reads Nine.

All of this is to say that it’s available once again, this time from Starstream Publications, which is to say, from me. As of today, it’s live at Kindle, Kobo, and Smashwords, and should turn up alive again soon at Nook and iTunes. It’ll launch at Book View Café on October 7. [Edit: It's up in Nook and iTunes now!]

Here’s the new cover, designed for me by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff:


And here’s what the book’s all about:
Wrongly discredited as a space pilot, Panglor Balef is doomed to die in space, if sheer luck doesn’t bring him through. But luck has never been in Panglor’s cards. Bad enough to be coerced into a mission of murder and suicide, he must also contend with Alo—a young woman, stowaway, and impossible companion. Neither of them, nor his empathic ou-ralot, could possibly anticipate the journey through space-time they are about to embark on, through a door to an insane reality from which there is almost certainly no return. It could be the discovery of the millennium, but the only way home is to journey even further into the heart of madness.

The stunning prequel to the famed Star Rigger Universe of Jeffrey A. Carver, Nebula-nominated author of Eternity’s End and The Chaos Chronicles, yada-yada.

At a low, low, introductory price of $3.99 for this unparalled assemblage of shiny new binary digits!


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Friday, September 12, 2014

BookBub Results

Since I'm always after you to notice my BookBub specials, and to go out and buy books, I thought maybe I should report on the results of the last promo. The results were good! There are now more than 1700 people boasting newly minted copies of From a Changeling Star on their ebook readers! In addition, some of them are going ahead and buying the sequel, Down the Stream of Stars, and more people than before are buying my other books, as well. 

Typically, the effects last a couple of weeks, and then things settle back down to normal. But in the meantime, there are that many new readers out there, some of whom have never heard of me before, who will be—I hope—enjoying one of my books. And then—I hope—looking for more.

Just for fun, here's what the sales graph looks like on Amazon when a book goes on a BookBub special. You can see that the first day is the exciting one.


Watch the bouncing sales ball in the Kindle store!

The red line represents books sold. (The green line is free downloads of Neptune Crossing, my loss leader. There's a spike in that line, too, because I advertised it one day on Ereader News Today. That's the book I give away, hoping people will like it enough to buy the sequels. That seems to work, too.)

Thanks, everyone who went for the sale! Please post a review!


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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Good News! Young People Read!

Some of us in the book biz worry too much. For a while now, there's been gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the supposed graying of our audience—in particular, the perception that fewer young people are picking up science fiction books, and leaving it to the aging generation to appreciate the mind-blowing concepts spun out in our novels.

Actually, that could still be true. While SF is extremely popular in the media, and youths flock like bats to Comicon and the like, SF in book form doesn't seem to hold the market that it once did. (Always excepting outliers like The Hunger Games.) But—much as I hate to admit it—science fiction isn't the only kind of book that matters. So, with that in mind, take heart from this story in the Washington Post, regarding a recent study by the Pew Research people: "Millennials were more likely to have read a book last year than older Americans."

Let's repeat that, in case you missed it the first time: "Millennials were more likely to have read a book last year than older Americans."

Not only that, "62 percent of the under-30 set believes there's a lot of useful, important information that is not on the Internet." Which is 9% more than the number of older Americans who said that.

Go, Millennials!


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Older Daughter Heads to Lebanon!

Lexi took off from Boston last night, and I got a text around noon today saying she'd landed in Beruit. She'll be staying with friends and seeing what I have heard described as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Why was I never that adventurous?

I hope we get to see some pictures soon! (And, of course, that she will arrive home safe and sound at the appointed time.)


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Friday, August 29, 2014

From a Changeling Star: On Sale Thru September 3!

Today marks the start of my latest BookBub sale, this time on my first Starstream novel, From a Changeling Star. For the next week, it costs just $.99 in ebook, 80% off the regular $4.99! (Okay, get ready for the pitch...) Get it while it's hot! Stock up! It has something for everyone: supernovas, cosmic hyperstring, romance, nanotech, aliens! What else can you want?

Why do I keep doing this? Because it works. The BookBub specials have all brought in extra income, and more importantly, gotten my books into the hands of lots of new readers.

This is a novel that nearly drove me mad when I was writing it, but by the time I was finished, it turned into one of my favorites. Though I had no idea at the time, it connects to The Chaos Chronicles, via the character Jeaves the robot, who first appears in the Chaos books in Sunborn. And the starstream itself is a crucial element in my work in progress, The Reefs of Time, a.k.a. Chaos number 5.

Here's the blurb, saving you the trouble of reading it when you click through to your favorite store:

Into a dying star…

Deep in the fires of Betelgeuse, scientists anxiously await the one man essential to the greatest engineering project in history. But on Kantano’s World, Willard Ruskin battles invisible agents for control of his life, and even his memories. Drawn into a conflict from which not even death will free him, Ruskin must reach Betelgeuse before his enemies sabotage humanity’s future among the stars.

A stunning blend of hard science fiction with moving characterization, both human and otherwise. From the Nebula-nominated author of Eternity’s End.

Original print publication by Bantam Spectra. A Locus bestseller.

REVIEWS:

“Starts with a bang and keeps getting better. Carver handles not one, but two hot topics, and presents both vividly.” —David Brin, author of Existence and Startide Rising

“Running from the micro to the macro and back again, redefining sentience, space-time, and perhaps humanity along the way, From a Changeling Star is a fast-paced puzzler, rich in invention, and Jeffrey A. Carver’s most ambitious book to date.” —Roger Zelazny

And so on...

You can get it from all the usual suspects.





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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wardrobe Malfunctions at Worldcon

In my first post on Loncon, I mentioned a couple of wardrobe malfunctions that threatened to derail me at the con. No, I didn't burst out of my bustier. But both stood to be just about as embarrassing.

Scheduled for a signing on Friday afternoon, I went a little early to the green room to have a cup of coffee. Sitting by myself at a table, I was sorting through some of the con literature when I moved my hand in the wrong direction. Oops. Oh frak! I had just spilled the entire cup of coffee across the table, toward me, and into my lap. Yeah, right into the crotch of my pants. Oh shit, what do I do now? I can't walk around the con like this. And my nearest set of alternative pants is forty-five minutes away by tube. Oh damn, oh damn, oh damn. Fortunately, I was saved by the sun and the wind. The green room, by a miracle, had an open-air balcony! I sidled out quickly, and stood facing the sun and open air. And stood. And stood. Thank God, by the time I needed to go to the signing, I was all (mostly) dried out. With no visible stain. Go solar!

The next day, I was all set to walk through the art show, when I felt something snap against my waist. Looking down, I found my belt loose, and my pants sagging. My belt buckle had chosen that moment to snap clean off, leaving me without any means of holding up my pants except to clutch the waistband in my fists. (My pants were a little loose that day, something I usually feel good about.) My nearest other belt was... well, you know.

I checked the dealers room for anyone selling belts, but the only thing I found was a costume belt for fifty pounds, with crossed, full-sized derringers mounted on the buckle. Uh, no.

Then along came my friend Tom Easton, who apprised the situation and led me off to the art desk. "Let's see what they've got," he said. What they had was some jumbo binder clips. Could they be used to clip the two ends of my belt together? Not really. "Let's see what we can fashion," Tom said. He pried the wire handles out of one of the clips. While I was trying to figure out what to do with them, he had already noticed that they could interlock, if there was a way to attach them to the belt leather. And there was. It wasn't easy, but together we managed to squeeze the flared, open ends of the wire pieces through holes in the leather and have the handles come together just so:


The fix worked perfectly (though it took me about two hours of fiddling to get the right tightness), and it lasted the rest of the day! I have officially named it the Tom Easton Belt Buckle Mod. And someday I'm going to find a way to use it in a story. Thanks, Tom!
 

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Staying on a Boat in London for Worldcon

It seemed like the perfect solution when Allysen found it on Air B&B: Houseboat on the Thames! What could be more charming? Besides, time was growing seriously short, and we really needed a place to stay at worldcon. And it was cheaper than the hotels, which were mostly full, anyway. Besides, it had a double-sized bunk, plus several singles, which was more than enough. Plus, it had a kitchen and a working toilet. What more do you need?  Well...



What we got was a charming little sailboat called the Catch-E, which really was a nice boat if you didn't think of it in terms of B&B, or even houseboat. It did have the requisite number of bunks, but the smell of mildew and strong cleaners in the cabin caused Julia to immediately decide that she was sleeping on the cushioned bench seat in the upper wheelhouse/dining area. And the tiny kitchenette would have been just a tad more useful if it had had refrigeration. And the working toilet? Technically, it did work. But it also pumped straight out into the marina waters, so it wasn't what you would actually call usable except in extremis. The fact was, we had to hike out to the external bathhouses for toilets and showers. For that purpose, we could choose between the one inside the marina's gated fence (where the toilets worked but the lights and electricity didn't), or the fully functional one that required going through two gates with pass-codes in each direction.

Still, it was cozy enough. And camping can be fun. It was pleasant to fall asleep to the rocking of the boat. And it was a very nice hike around the extensive marina area to the nearest supermarket and tube station. It was only a forty-five minute commute to the con, via foot, tube, and automated (driverless) light rail, which wasn't bad. I had brought several outlet adapters and a power strip to charge our phones and tablets, which would have been great, except that while I had made certain all of our chargers were dual voltage, I forgot to do the same with the power strip. Which fried soundlessly, the instant I plugged it in, popping all the boat's circuit breakers. Still, we were doing okay, in spite of its being... other... than what we'd expected.

Until the night came when—sometime after midnight—I ducked out in shorts and t-shirt to the bathroom and came back to the fence gate to find that the pass-code no longer worked to let me in.

WTF?!

No, it really didn't work anymore. I hollered to Julia, who was reading in her bench-seat bed. She came to help, and she couldn't make it work, either. Finally we were reduced to me walking along the outer fence while she walked the long dock, looking for a boat with a light on inside. (Most of the boats in the marina really were houseboats.) Finally she knocked on a boat window and found a kind soul who lent her his entry fob long enough to blip me in. On returning it, I thanked him and said we hadn’t been told about a change in the pass-code. "The swine," he said. "They never do."

The next morning, I got the new code (it changes fortnightly) from the marina manager, who was surprised to learn that we were paying to stay on the boat a few days. "Really," he said. "Because that's not allowed here." He was perfectly genial to me, but it was clear that the owner of the Catch-E was going to have some 'splainin' to do.

We were able to laugh about it, most of the time. It certainly was different from your cookie-cutter con hotel room. But when we checked out of it after the con, and into a hotel near Greenwich (thank you, booking.com), we fell with joy upon the spacious beds and gaped with positive wonderment at the included bathroom, complete with shower!


Back from the showers


Laundry day on Catch-E


Tea time!
 

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Back from London, But a Bit Under the Weather

We returned from England a couple of days ago, after going to Loncon 3 at the Excel Center and then spending another five days seeing London, Greenwich, and Nottingham (where lives an old friend of Allysen's). It was quite an adventure, starting with staying on a sailboat (more on that in another post), and ending with a very nice train ride into Robin Hood country, where we ate at what is reportedly the oldest pub in England. The worldcon was a bit of a wash for me in professional terms, but Allysen and Julia had a fantastic time and I did enjoy myself despite a couple of wardrobe malfunctions that I'll also save for another post.

Overall, it was a memorable trip, with one major downside. I picked up a nagging cough at the con, and by the time I got home I was pretty nonfunctional with a great, hacking cough and pneumonia. A bit of a setback there. Also, it was kind of a lousy way to celebrate my 65th birthday, which was the 25th. On the other hand, the wonder of still-functional antibiotics was a great way to celebrate my birthday. I'm doing much better now, though I'm still a little sub-par in terms of mental focus and concentration. Not up to writing much yet, but I'm turning into a mean movie-watcher.

There may be a lesson in there, though I can't be certain. Prior to the trip, I had a bunch of really nasty poison ivy (or something) rashes, which were taking forever to clear up. The dermatologist put me on a short dose of prednisone, which did a remarkable job of clearing up the rashes. But it also may have suppressed my immune system just enough to lay me open to the pneumonia. My take-away from this is, try to avoid travel while taking prednisone.

Also, when in London, have the fish and chips!


London parks are beautiful.

 Did you know they have 500 miles of canals in London?
I didn't, either.


 The Tower of London, complete with lions. 



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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yes, I Am Doing a Signing at Worldcon

If you're at Loncon, stop by and say hello. Friday at 3 pm.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cape Cod Writers Conference

I'm nearing the wrap-up of my long weekend here in Hyannis, Mass., teaching sessions on speculative fiction at a conference that is very much about all kinds of writing. I've met some really nice poets, for example, and reconnected with a thriller writer, Gary Braver, who lives in the same town I do. For some reason, I never see him except at writers events. I met another writer who's getting ready to move to my town, and several students who already do. This is largely, but not entirely, a middle-aged crowd, and quite dedicated to what they're doing. My SF class is small, but focused and quite talented.

Here's proof that I showed up at the conference center:



And here's how I demonstrated by example how one can seek out necessary rest and inspiration. I needed it, since they scheduled me for 8:30 in the morning sessions. Anyone who knows me knows that is a profoundly risky idea! (Still, it worked out okay.)


The ocean is always good for a few ideas for me, and sure enough, after about a half hour of floating and swimming in the Atlantic, a couple of ideas came to me for the rewrite of Reefs, things that happen down the road a ways.

Day two, after a class and a private mentoring session, I hopped in my trusty Landshark and drove to my favorite place in Sandwich, the beginning of the bike path along the Cape Cod Canal. I got in a solid hour of roller blading, and returned just in time to shower for the banquet. (We won't mention that I forgot that the keynote speech was before the banquet, not after, and I sort of missed—no, I said I wasn't going to mention that.) Anyway, as usual, I'm drawn to the water when I have the opportunity. Best way to clear the head, reward myself for doing some good work, and gather thoughts and impressions for later.


And maybe dream a little.


Tomorrow we wrap, and I head home. (With a stop, I hope, for a bit of biking. I brought both skates and my bike.)

As usual with these events, the best part was the people I met. I hope to cross paths with some of them again. Maybe even at my local Trader Joe's.

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