Aug 28 2015

So exhausted I can barely think straight.


Back from Worldcon, having arrived home at an ungodly hour on Monday night while needing to get up mere hours later for the Day Job, at which I had a full week of work already waiting for me, while the current week’s work did not pause in rolling in.  I have not been able to catch up at all, in tasks or in sleep.

Well: hooray weekend.   (I intended to put an exclamation point at the end of that, but I’m too tired to back-arrow and fix it.)  I plan to sleep lots, enabling me to be up at the peculiar hours of the night that coincide with my best writing time.

I’ll say more tomorrow…


Hugos: very interesting indeed, and well worth being there.

Readings attended: Jo Walton, Ada Palmer, Pat Cadigan, & more.

Panels: glad I went.

Music at Jo Walton’s party: So much fun, with Ada Palmer and Lauren Schiller of Sassafrass there, plus Patrick Neilsen Hayden, with surprise performance by me.

Music not at Jo Walton’s party: Astonishing stuff onstage from Ada and Lauren and Patrick.

Spokane: lots of smoke.  Lovely town, not usually this smoky (all those wildfires you hear about on TV?  Yeah.  There were very nearby).

Loved the park.


Statue in the park by the river, right outside the doors of the convention center, where we passed it every day.

Statue in the park by the river, right outside the doors of the convention center, where we passed it every day.

Michael P. Anderson





Aug 23 2015

At Worldcon, last minute


Well, I said I’d find a bit of time to be available to meet and chat, since I’m not on the program this year — but alas, the time I found is 2PM today, Sunday.  Possibly most of you are leaving already…

But if you’re not gone, I’ll be at Guinan’s Place (that cafe in the exhibit hall) from 2 to 3PM.

Meanwhile, I’m sure I’m not your only source for Hugo News, so you probably already know what happened.  But if you didn’t, here’s an article in The Wall Street Journal on the subject.

Hope your convention (or day otherwise spent) was fun…

Aug 20 2015

At Sasquan — Hello Spokane!


At the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane Washington, and too busy to post — But I’m tweetin’!  Because it’s easy.

Just random pix, mostly.   Like this:

This life-size liones is a lamp for next month's Chinese Lantern Festival.

This life-size lioness is a lamp for next month’s Chinese Lantern Festival

And this:


Tiny author. I could squash him if I wanted.

Tiny author. I could squash him if I wanted.

I’ll put up a bunch of these when I get home.  Meanwhile, you can get ’em fresh on Twitter, where I am: @rkirstein.


More soon…

… oh, okay, here’s another:

Found in a Starbuck's. Yes, I said Starbuck's.

Found in a Starbuck’s. Yes, I said Starbuck’s.  Click to enbiggen, because it’s stained glass worth seeing..


Aug 16 2015

On Maps


Way back in the misty depths of time, when I sold The Steerswoman to Del Rey Books, a conversation more or less like this took place one day:

Me:  And I think there should be a map, too.

Them: That’s a great idea.  There should definitely be a map!

Me:  Great!  Let’s have a map.

Them: Right.


Me: So… I guess we should get this book to whoever is doing the map —

Them:  — and that would be you.

Me:  Me?

Them: You.

I had never made a map.  I loved maps.  I’d read atlases for fun, and dream of far-off lands… but I’d never done one.

But now I had to do it — and it seemed I had to do it really soon.   I grabbed every fantasy-style book with a map that I could find, got to the art store, figured out what I needed…

Hey, this was before the Internet, okay?  Well, not completely before, but well before the Internet was a useful tool for the average tech-savvy person to use for research.  All my research was in person with physical books in libraries.

In the end, I managed to produce a map that did the job.

So… if you purchased a first edition of The Steerswoman, this is what you saw:



Sad. Very sad.  But the best I could do at that point.

And I discovered something: I liked doing it.   It was fun.  And if you like something, you tend to get better at it.

Here’s the map that goes along with the  The Steerswoman now:

Use CTL+ and CTL- to zoom in and out.

Click for full size, then  CTL+ and CTL- to zoom in and out.

If you read the ebook on an iPad, or a Kindle Fire, this map is zoomable right in the book.  And you can zoom a lot.   If you’re on a Kindle Paperwhite, or other non-color Kindle, it’s not zoomable — but still clear, and rather pretty (I also provide a URL to see the map online).

I’ve always had the idea that each book’s map will expand on the previous, so that your view of Rowan’s world will expand as her knowledge grows.   When Del Rey did the omnibus of the first two books combined (as The Steerswoman’s Road) I had to combine the map for The Outskirter’s Secret with the map for The Steerswoman, and I feel we lost that sense of the world expanding.  But now that they’re separate again as ebooks, I can have a different map for the second book again:


As ever, bigger is but a click away.

As ever, bigger is but a click away.


And by the time The Lost Steersman comes around:


Eastward expansion...

Eastward expansion…

Each map shows Rowan’s understanding of her world as of the beginning of the book (more or less).

The latest map, of course, is for The Language of Power —

Wait, do you really want to see that one?  Because it contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Lost Steersman!  If you haven’t read that yet, you might not want to go there…

Well, if you must, then click this link.

And what’s coming up?


Also, more detail.  As well as widening the view, the next books will include some closer views of important locations.   Of course, I’m really looking forward to The Crags map, because of the extremely interesting way that city is laid out.

And in other news:  Going to Worldcon!   I might not be able to post much for the next, although I should manage a tweet or two (I am @rkirstein).

Maybe I’ll see you there…






Aug 11 2015

You know how you get back from an SF convention, and you feel kind of blue?


Because it was so great, and now you’re not there any more?

Yeah, I got that after Readercon.

Reason for Readercon.

Random person at Readercon doing what the convention is all about.

— except that it was delayed by my usual post-con hangout with Ann Zeddies and Geary Gravel.  During which, by the way, we did not do our usual arts&crafts with collages and/or collaged book-boxes, because  we were reading to each other!

Yes!  New stuff, from all three of us.  This is an unusual circumstance.  Generally, it has been observed that only one of us at a time seems to be productive, and we swap it around between the three of us.  But not this year!  Each of us had new stuff to read to the other two.  And then — we did it again! Two sessions of readings.  So happy.

And then when I got home: postcon blues.

But!  No time for that, because the Schrodinger sessions were just around the corner!  And what a blast that was.  Kind of like a convention only better because of real, actual science!   I was in heaven.


This is what science looks like.


Taking place here.

Taking place here.

And… then, back home, and the day job…  squeezing in the writing at night and on weekends…

So, that would create sort of a double-dose of post-con blues?

But no time for the blues, because next, very soon: Worldcon!  I haven’t been to a Worldcon in years and years.   It’s gonna be great.

Yeah.  And after that… triple post-con blues?

Like, this comic by Abby Howard.

Ah, hell.  It’s worth it.

Plus: extra motivation to shed this day job.   ‘Cause, then I’d never have to go back to it!  I like that idea.

Let’s think long and hard about that, shall we?




Aug 4 2015

Hitting the ground running, but not in any particularly desirable direction.


Yep. Back, as I said, from the Schrodinger sessions. And now also back at the day job. With various forms of job and non-job crap hitting various fans located at especially inconvenient intervals, and requiring immediate attention or emails or unavoidable hair-tearing.

I can’t, yet, do a full write-up of the Schrodinger sessions…

So, over the next few days I’ll post some moments, including occasional pics (a few of which I already tweeted, but might be new to you).

Like this:

A lot of the photographs I took were of people pointing at things they had written on blackboards and whiteboards, and slides.   This is because they were saying fascinating things.  Here Chris Monroe explains quantum teleportation.

quantum teleportation

Does not work on people.

Earlier, Mohammed Hafezi tried to convince  us that regardless which side of the box you looked in, the chances of which state you’d observe were 50/50.

This was especially tricky...

This was especially tricky…


And Chad Orzel shared this lovely photo of the lovely building itself, from ground level looking up in the central well:



The central well.

The central well.


And of course, I got to have dinner with the most diverting of companions:

Why, yes, that's Jack McDevitt and Jeff Carver.  Jealous?

Why, yes, that’s Jack McDevitt and Jeff Carver. Jealous?


More later.   I need to turn in soon, so I can go do very mundane things early in the morning….

( DMV.  It doesn’t get more mundane than that.)

Aug 2 2015

Yes, I’m back from the Schrodinger Sessions…


And it was absolutely wonderful!

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that science is boring. Science is thrilling and mind-bending, and full of beauty and strangeness.

And… I have no time to blog today! I’m all time-crunched between Readercon earlier in July, Schrodinger just finishing, and Worldcon coming up in a couple of weeks. All the way on the other side of the country.

I’ll try to say more tomorrow…

Jul 31 2015

No time to post photos!


I brought my crappy computer to the sessions, and it’s Windows 8! Posting photos gets tricky (and no time to install the upgrade).

So I’m tossing all my photos up on twitter… I’m @rkirstein!

Jul 30 2015

Undisclosed location


Well, actually, it’s the Schrodinger Sessions run by the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland.   Arrived here last night after a 7 hour drive, met some of the participants, ate a great dinner, and now the next days will be too busy to blog with lectures and discussions and lab and reactor visits…

But in the vein of my usual retreats, I won’t be blogging much at all for the rest of the week, but might post any number of photos.

Off to learn some Science!

Jul 22 2015

Readercon, part the second.


As well as a great dinner with fellow writers & associates of writers, and a great time hanging out with readers & associates of readers, I got to hear some good panel discussions.  As ever, I missed some that I had really wanted to catch, due to timing and sleeping, and food and panels conflicting with each other.

I also got to hear Daryl Gregory read from a new story.    I love Gregory’s work — but you know that. I’ve already mentioned it here. He was one of my Christmas shopping recommendations last year.

The last time I heard Gregory read, I was impressed with both the story and his skill at reading it for an audience.  This time, in the intro, he casually mentioned that he was a former Theater major.

Aha.  That explains it — his reading skills are absolutely outstanding, and this story in particular (a humorous  SF/fairy-tale cross, whose title I did not catch) gave him lots of scope for inspired delivery.  And he never overdid it, either.  It would have been easy to be over the top — but nope.  Exactly the right tone.

I caught a bit of the panel “How Intelligent are We, Anyway?” whose members included my later dinner companions Judith Berman, Alex Jablokow and Ted Chiang.  (Alas, the entire contents of the discussion have since slid out of my brain.  I blame the day job.)

I had hoped to catch “How to Write Successfully About Horrible Things”–  but I was busy writing successfully about actual other things!

Ha!  Yes, I was actually so glad and inspired at Readercon that basically wrote every day, sometimes twice in a day.

I did manage to catch “Our Panel of Experts”consisting of Scott Andrews, Gwendolyn Clare, John O’Neil, Bud Sparhawk , and physicist Chad Orzel  (of Eureka and “dog physics” fame).  It was a nicely cross-discipline crew.   The idea was to have the audience toss out any question they had, especially if they needed to clear up the science on a story or novel that they were working on.   After some initial shyness, the audience dove in.

I actually had my hand up at one point — then quickly put it DOWN again.  Because if I asked that question, it would constitute a major spoiler for the next few books!  I’ll just have to save the question for a much less public forum…

Also: “A Palantir in Every Pocket,” which had a great line-up with Ted Chiang and Daryl Gregory and Chad Orzel, plus science writer Jeff Hecht, rising star Ken Liu,  and David Shaw (who is on the program commitee, and is a masterful panel leader, but whose website I cannot find…).  This was about how science and magic are treated in urban fantasy, which then led to explorations in how the two are regarded and used in literature in general.   One thing Ted Chaing said stayed with me — how magic (I’m paraphrasing, here) is assumed to be dependent on something inherent in the user, and implies that there exists a personal relationship between the universe itself and the magic user; but science and technology assume a completely impersonal universe, and can be worked by anyone.

…Hm, I seem to have run out of time again…  I’ve got stuff going on that needs attention!

I’ll do part 3 in the next couple of days, which will include the after-party!