Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last Day for Halloween Special!

Don't forget! Through October 31, you can get the first three Chaos books for 25% off at Smashwords, in multiple formats--complete with all new Afterwords on their writing. Just use these coupon codes:

For other participating authors and coupon codes, head over to and click on Sale at the top.

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Texas Supreme Court Cites Mr. Spock

In what surely must be a legal first, the Texas Supreme Court has cited an alien off-worlder in a recent judgment, a fictional alien at that. In Robinson v. Crown Cork and Seal, the Texas court cited Star Trek's Mr. Spock, from the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. You will recall that, in one of the finest scenes in the film, Mr. Spock dies heroically saving the Enterprise and her crew. Just before dying, he says to Kirk, "Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical..." And he reminds Kirk that "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one."

In the following movie, The Search for Spock, Kirk turns this dictum on its head by telling Spock that the reason they came for him was because the needs of the one outweighed the needs of the many.

SFWA quotes the Texas Court:
"Appropriately weighty principles guide our course. First, we recognize that police power draws from the credo that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Second, while this maxim rings utilitarian and Dickensian (not to mention Vulcan21), it is cabined by something contrarian and Texan: distrust of intrusive government and a belief that police power is justified only by urgency, not expediency."

Footnote 21 reads:
See STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (Paramount Pictures 1982). The film references several works of classic literature, none more prominently than A Tale of Two Cities. Spock gives Admiral Kirk an antique copy as a birthday present, and the film itself is bookended with the book’s opening and closing passages. Most memorable, of course, is Spock’s famous line from his moment of sacrifice: “Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh . . .” to which Kirk replies, “the needs of the few.”
Some have pointed to earlier quotations for this thought, including Aristotle, and the Gospel of John 11:49-50 in the Bible (which quotes Caiaphas, the High Priest, expressing a similar thought). But really, I think Spock said it the most succinctly.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Exclusive New Afterwords for My Chaos Ebooks!

 I've just finished incorporating  all-new Afterwords in the ebook versions of Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractors, and The Infinite Sea. I set down some reflections on the Chaos series as a whole, what it was like to write those first three books, and some of the thought processes and creative impulses that went into shaping each of the stories.

The new Afterwords are exclusive to my new ebook editions, available in the Kindle store and from Smashwords, and slowly migrating into other ebookstores. (If you're a new visitor here, the original print versions of these books were from Tor Books; these new ebook releases are from my own Starstream Publications. That's just me, but I thought new editions ought to come from an imprint, not just some guy.)

These three books were free on my website for two years. There are still free editions out there—but the Afterwords are an extra value for folks who buy the books in the stores. (Just $2.99 each!)

Edit: The new Kindle versions are live now. If you bought the Kindle books before the Afterwords were added, contact me via my website, and I'll see that you get the updated versions. (Amazon apparently has no provision for redownloading updated editions of books.) I'm not sure how it works with editions from Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc. via the Smashwords distributions. If you have trouble, let me know.

Halloween Sale at Backlist Ebooks

A bunch of authors, yours truly included, are offering books from their backlists for 25% off at Smashwords, as part of the October sale at Backlist Ebooks. To see the list of participating authors and get the coupon codes you'll need, head over to and click on Sale at the top. (Or, if you prefer not to go to Facebook, you can go to Take a look! There's mystery, SF and fantasy, romance, and I don't know what all. The sale runs through Halloween.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Infinite Sea at Kindle and Smashwords

I've just released a new ebook edition of The Infinite Sea, the third book of The Chaos Chronicles, to the Amazon Kindle store—and to Smashwords (from which it will migrate to Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobobooks, and the Apple store). With this release, all of the Chaos Chronicles are now available for instant download in the Kindle store. Come to think of it, with this release, all of my novels are available in the Kindle store. Most of them are available in other ebook stores as well. For a complete list, see:

I've been fiddling with the covers to make them display better at thumbnail size. (I may revisit them later, but for the moment, I think I'm done fiddling.) Here's The Infinite Sea:

Halloween Special!
From now through October 31, you can get the first three Chaos books for 25% off at Smashwords, in your choice of formats. Just use these coupon codes:
The Infinite Sea: MN92V

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Authors Together —

I recently joined a band of authors from a variety of genres to jointly promote our backlist books that we're putting back into circulation as ebooks. The group is called Backlist Ebooks, and it includes SF and fantasy writers (such as CJ Cherryh, Vonda McIntyre, and Doranna Durgin), mystery writers, romance writers, and others. Many of the authors are award-winners, and all the books being promoted were originally published by traditional publishing, but have since either gone out of print, or were otherwise unavailable as ebooks. This is a new effort, but the list is growing steadily as more writers hear about it. Check it out!

There's a web site: and a Facebook page, where you might pick up some interesting news from the authors. Starting Saturday, many of the group will be sponsoring a 25% off Halloween promotion on their Smashwords titles. That includes my three Chaos Chronicles books at Smashwords

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Star Trek Stars in Westerns / Rowling Interview

Here are two fascinating collections of video clips. First, courtesy of SyFy/Blastr, we have gathered together short clips of Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, and James Doohan—all acting in grade-B westerns in the years prior to the original Star Trek. It's pretty, bending stuff.

Also courtesy of Blastr, we have an up-close-and-personal Oprah interview with Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. It's pretty interesting. But don't be taken in by the sensationalistic headline (the sort of thing Blastr is inordinately fond of). Rowling says she could write several more Harry Potter books—what a surprise, eh?—but doesn't say she actually will. Still, good stuff. It comes in several parts.

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Human-Powered Ornithopter

Flap those wings! On some airline flights, I've felt that it might be necessary to help by doing that. So does Pearls Before Swine:

Pearls Before Swine

But here's something real.  A team of University of Toronto students kept a human-powered ornithopter (wing-flapping aircraft) aloft for a short flight after being towed up to takeoff speed by a car.  Just a first step, but a beautiful first step!

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Cosmic Accidents

New Scientist magazine recently ran a long article called Cosmic Accidents: 10 Lucky Breaks for Humanity. It's a timeline, starting with the Big Bang, of all the things that had to happen just so, for the universe to develop in a fashion that would allow us to be here.

 (Image: NASA/ESA/ESO/Wolfram Freudling et al. (STECF))

It starts with getting the density of the universe just right, and the balance of matter and antimatter just right, and goes all the way up through the dinosaur-killing asteroid making room for us little mammals, and the conditions that may have led to the evolution of language. The whole thing is online here.

But wait—aren't there supposed to be "no accidents"? Hmm. If questions like that, in the context of issues like this, cause you to twitch one way or another, maybe you should read Beyond God and Atheism: Why I am a 'Possibilian' in the same issue of New Scientist. Alas, you must be a subscriber to read the whole article, but the title and opening paragraphs give you a pretty good idea of the content.

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