Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brief Catch-up

Last weekend, I spent a day at Vericon, a small but cheerful convention at Harvard University, which had as its guest of honor Kim Stanley Robinson. Stan and I had met once or twice before, but many years ago, and it was good to become reacquainted. Dinner with Stan, Jim Kelly, and Paul Di Filippo was a high point of the day, though it was also good to offer some students from the teen writing workshop I ran with Craig Gardner a chance to see a con on a small scale.

Last night I completed the proofreading and minor edits on the text of The Infinity Link, and sent the RTF file off to the folks at E-reads, who will prepare it for commercial ebook release. Artist David Mattingly graciously assented to my using the original cover art from the Tor and Bluejay print editions on the ebook, so it's going to look great. Here's the full wraparound, shrunk way down:

The Infinity Link cover art by David B. Mattingly

I made very small changes in the text, mostly to get rid of anachronisms such as the references to the Soviet Union, and some outdated computer terminology. After all the story takes place in the year 2034, and the future simply isn't what it once was.

Now I've begun similar work on my very first novel, Seas of Ernathe, originally published in 1976. It's interesting to see how my writing evolved and grew between my first and fourth novels—and how it compares to my work now. I've definitely grown more skilled as a writer, but I miss the quick bursts of creativity I had when I was in my twenties.

For a good tongue-in-cheek glimpse of how books get from typewriter to bookstore, check out this video from MacMillan publishing. (With thanks to Richard Curtis in his E-reads blog for bringing it to my attention.)

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Guide to My Ebooks

I got an email from a reader asking me why it had to be so hard to buy all the ebooks from a favorite author. I knew at once what he meant: editions are scattered across different publishers, different retailers, different ebook formats (some with restrictive DRM, some without). Even trying to follow a particular series within an author's oeuvre can be trying. Why, for instance, can't all the books of a series be bought as a nice bundle, with one purchase and one download?

I thought that was a great idea. And while it's not currently in my power to create bundles, I thought, why can't I at least make it easier for someone who wants to browse for all my ebooks do it from a single page? So I set out to do that.

My new Ebooks page, at, lists all my novels, grouped by series—with links to major online sources, highlighting those that offer multi-format, DRM-free downloads. The latter effectively means eReads and their partner Fictionwise, though I hope soon to add Baen Webscriptions to that list. I've also listed which books are coming soon, and which are farther off.

I hope it's helpful. Check it out and let me know what you think!

"My job is to help you fall in love." —Ray Bradbury

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The First Days

Obama's been president for two days now, and so far so good. (How's that for a honeymoon period?) His first actions to start the ball rolling to end the institutionalized injustice of Guantanamo Bay, and mandate greater openness in government affairs, are most encouraging—as is the fact that he's already been on the phone to open dialogues with heads of state in the Middle East. And while we have yet to see what he'll do in the arena of science and the environment, his inaugural speech pointed the way. The New Scientist offers an excellent recap of his statements about restoring science to its rightful place in political decision-making (this, I might point out, from a man of strong faith), and rethinking how we can use the world's resources for the benefit of all, not just the wealthy.

The economy, of course, will be the real test. Will he find the silver bullet? I guess we'll all stayed tuned.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama!

What more can I say? It was a wonderful and moving inauguration—all those people, as far as the eye could see!—and I came away from watching it with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, buoyed and encouraged and hopeful as I have not been for many years. I did not know until I heard it on the radio later that survivors of the Tuskegee Airmen were present to share the moment. That seemed perfect.

The president has his work cut out for him, and we have ours cut out for us as well. May God bless us all, but especially our new leaders, all of them.

I wish I were there for the party!

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Counting Down...

In about ten hours, from the time I write this, Barack Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States. I am excited by this on so many levels, I hardly know where to start. A change in the direction of America's foreign and domestic policies, a man in the White House who thinks and reads and invites discourse and even disagreement, an African American as our highest national official, a new First Dog, and I guess even a new First Mother-in-Law. (We'll see how that last one goes.)

In particular, I hope that the peoples of other nations—allies and adversaries alike—will see a different America reemerging, an America that is readier to work collaboratively, more respectful of other views, and less prone to confrontation. And that doesn't mean an America that is less strong. Strength does not always come from confrontation.

Listening to NPR this morning, remembering the awesome inspiration of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his "I have a dream" speech, I began my Monday on a rising note of hope. I expect to do that in spades tomorrow (really, today), as I wake up to watch a historic transfer of the reins of power. I can't wait.

"Laughter is the beginning of prayer." —Reinhold Niebuhr

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Infinity Link—soon to be a major motion ebook!

I wrote recently that I was proofreading the computer file of my 1984 novel, The Infinity Link, for a pending ebook edition. I still am. (It's a long book, and proofreading is a slow job.) That's not news. What is news is how much I'm liking the book. I mean—really liking it! It's a good book!

Cover art by David B. Mattingly

Okay, that probably sounds dumb, because on the one hand you're not supposed to think your own book is bad, but on the other hand, it sounds braggy if you say your own book is good. But...I haven't read through this novel in years, many years, and I was fully expecting to find it—you know, good, but not that good, and full of passages that I wished I'd done a little differently, or kept shorter, or something. But the truth is, I'm not really thinking of it as my book as I'm reading it, and I'm just really enjoying it. I expect any of you who are writers or artists know exactly what I'm talking about, and the rest of you are nodding tolerantly, thinking, there there, have a nice cup of tea, you'll feel better.

The Infinity Link is out of print, but you can still get new copies from me, or used copies online wherever online used book dealers gather. And soon, you'll be able to buy it as a brand new ebook!

"Sure, it's simple, writing for kids... Just as simple as bringing them up." —Ursula K. LeGuin

Friday, January 09, 2009

BSG Meets The Atlantic Monthly (!)

The Atlantic is a terrific magazine, but possibly the last place I would have looked for an article on Battlestar Galactica, the edgy TV series that's probably done more to shake up science fiction on television since the original Star Trek. Nevertheless, in the new (Jan/Feb 2009) issue, James Parker writes in The Atlantic about BSG, just as the show locks and loads for its final stretch (hitting the cablewaves next Friday night!). In Lost in Space, Parker gives a reasonable account of the origin of the reimagined show, except that he brings L. Ron Hubbard into the account—Hubbard having said that space opera was really "the stuff of deepest prehistory, somber emanations from the memory of the species." That dovetails, admittedly, with BSG's premise that Earth is not the cradle of humankind, but rather the latest stop on a long journey.

Parker turns a tad snarky about the direction of the show, saying that "Battlestar Galactica is presenting all the symptoms of a an extended-run high-concept TV series in its decadent phase." Now, he may be right—certainly I've wondered more than once whether the show's writers actually know themselves where they're going with the story. I've wondered that ever since I wrote the official novelization of the miniseries, and had the feeling that there was a lot they weren't telling me about the direction of the show because they weren't sure themselves. Fair enough. Half the time I don't know where I'm going when I'm writing a novel. Why should it be any different for the creators of a years-long TV series?

On the other hand, maybe those writers know exactly what they're doing, and we're just entering the twistiest part of the world's most gut-wrenching aerobatics show. That's my vote, an expression of white-knuckled faith. They better know what they're doing—it's coming back on, and looks like it could be augering in, and I, for one, want to know how they're going to land that baby!

"You write about the thing that sank its teeth into you and wouldn't let go." —Paul West

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

You Can Have My New Sony Reader...

When you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. Just like Charlton Heston and his guns. People, I love my new Reader. I love the built-in light, I love the 150 or so books I have on it right now, with room for about a thousand more. I love the way you can organize them, to make titles easy to find. I love the way, with the help of a program called Calibre, I can import books in other formats and convert them for reading on the Sony, and even share them with Allysen, who is discovering that she loves reading on her new iPod Touch. I've actually been getting a lot more reading done since adopting my PRS-700.

I've named it Plato.

Most of what it's filled with now is free ebooks, either from the general sources like,, and—or from the free offerings of Tor, Baen, and other publishers. I've bought a couple of ebooks, including the Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge (but, ironically, his iconic and groundbreaking story about the net, "True Names," does not seem to be available in ebook form).

I'm slowly returning the world of productive work, following the holidays. I've signed up my novels The Infinity Link and Seas of Ernathe for the ereads program, which already features five of my novels, so they'll be available in electronic format before too long. (Also, The Rapture Effect and Dragon Rigger should be available very soon.) Right now I'm proofing The Infinity Link, actually reading it for the first time in many years. It was my first BIG book, published in 1984, and I'm pleased to say I'm enjoying it.

Hope you're all having a great beginning of 2009!

"You'll never make much money writing books like that. But the very best people will come to your funeral." —said to Edgar Pangborn, as told by D.G. Compton

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