Aug 11 2018

In which the weather refuses to cooperate. Also: little window into my brain.


The Perseids are here!  My favorite annual meteor shower.   In fact, I amuse myself by pretending that it’s my personal meteor shower, falling, as it does, on the days around my birthday.

Perseids meteor shower

And this year it’s also the dark of the moon for those days, so we won’t have that nasty ol’ moonlight brightening up the night sky, and washing out all the meteor-trails.  Excellent!

Check out this very cool rotatable visualization of the debris left by comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the Perseid meteors.

Now, let’s just check on the weather…Hm.

Friday night: rain

Saturday night: rain

Sunday night: thunderstorms!

Monday night: more thunderstorms.

Tuesday night — well, it’s all over, but even so: thunderstorms.

Ah, but not everywhere in the country!  I could drive to…

Okay, it would be a four-hour drive for me, at the least, to reach some place with non-cloudy skies.  And then four hours back.  I don’t think I can manage that…

But you might be luckier — find yourself on the visibility maps, here.

I see, for instance, that Michigan should have a nice view on Sunday night.  I know people in Michigan.  I’ll be happy for the people in Michigan.

Of course, thanks to the 21st Century, you can watch a livestream of the sky somewhere over Colorado, on Sunday night.  I plan to do exactly that.

In other news: same old news, as I push onward, wrestling Book 5 into shape.  I’m devoting as much of August as possible to the task.  (Minus, of course, the 3-day celebration of the birthday of my pal Brian Bambrough, who is turning 80 this month.  And who, by the way, actually wrote a diet/lifestyle book, so that you could stay as fit as he is for as long as he has.)

My latest point of writerly ditheration (minor spoilers for Book 5!):

An extremely important chapter containing: much cleverly-embedded incluing about Rowan’s world; introduction of a new character, Sarah;  expansion and deepening of an existing character not seen much previously, whom I plan to make the reader love (Artos); set-up of the current situation, to be executed (one hopes!) in such a way that it naturally launches everything  else that follows, as surely as an arrow leaves the bow; and spooky foreshadowing.

At some point I realized that I should not be introducing a new character there at all —  I should be using Keridwen, the chart-mistress instead.  We were in the chart-room; she should be there. Seemed natural.  So, I changed Sarah to Keridwen.

And the chapter stopped working.

I had to change every sentence of dialog, because Keridwen is a different person from Sarah, and they do not speak alike.  And I had to change every physical movement, because how one moves reflects one’s personality.  And then I had to change what Artos said, because his relationship to Sarah is different from his relationship to Keridwen.

And then I lost the spooky foreshadowing.  Keridwen is an extremely definite person!  She has many facts at her command, and is active and practical.  Sarah has a deep well of wisdom, and moves and speaks with quiet, graceful strength.  A conversation with Keridwen would be lively and enlightening, and make you think about cool stuff.  A conversation with Sarah might point in many directions, and make you wonder about deep things.

I love both these women.

I decided that it was Sarah in the chart-room, after all,  and not Keridwen.  Keridwen was busy doing something else.  Possibly chopping wood.  Keridwen is sixty-one years old, and Sarah is.. Hm… Seventy-four?  About.  If wood needed chopping in the dead of winter, it would probably be Keridwen doing it, not Sarah.

Problem solved!  Okay, problem created, and then solved.  By going back to the original version.

Now, the question for the class is: Why was this not a waste of time and effort?   Because, you know — it wasn’t.

By going through all this testing and analysis, I :

  • clarified the characters in my mind
  • clearly identified their interrelationships,
  • understood better why the spooky foreshadowing mattered, and how not to overdo it
  • established Sarah now, when there’s space, instead of later, where there’s none
  • learned a few extra things about Artos, which will serve me later
  • gained an extra level of insight in how words on the page transform into characterization, mood, plot, theme, milieu

All of this will help not only this book, but subsequent books in the series, any parallel books — and probably everything I ever write from now on.

Not a waste of time. Worth every moment.

In other news:

I just finished listening to the audiobook version of Brian Jay Jones’ biography of Jim Henson.

Jim Henson: The Biography by [Jones, Brian Jay]

It was simply amazing.  What an incredible life of creative genius he led.  What a privilege it was to have him on Earth with us for a while.

Jones did a fantastic job with this book.  And he had access to all the information: the people Henson knew, all of his projects, even his personal journals and letters.  It’s revealing, and stunning, and inspiring, and heartbreaking.

And I can’t say enough good things about the narrator, Kirby Heybourne.  He has a very graceful touch with the voices.  And he did do the voices: when Henson is quoted, he sounds like Henson; when Kermit is quoted, he sounds like Kermit. When no one is quoted, Heybourne’s own voice is natural and engaging.

Only problem with an audiobook: no photographs.


(Edited to correct a mental blip that made me write “Sharon” instead of “Sarah.”  It’s Sarah.)

Jul 27 2018

Two kerfuffles for the price of one


Well, the kerfuffle surrounding Readercon’s disinvitation sweep (AKA “geezer purge”) — as, um, interesting as it was — has now paled in comparison to the new kerfuffle surrounding WorldCon’s programming.

The interesting thing about them is that they seem to be flip-sides of the same general issue:

The geezer purge, while claiming to be about making room for more diversity, had the effect of targeting a specific group (elders), and thus apparently actively discriminating — going against Readercon’s explicit, written policy of inclusion.

While the Worldcon newbie snub favored the established writers over unknowns even when those new writers are among this year’s Hugo finalists.  Yeah, that’s just nuts.  They are Hugo finalists!  People will want to see them, don’t ya think?  And how exactly do you think people become established writers?

One seemed to say: You’re old, get out of the way!  The other seemed to say: Never heard of you, don’t waste our time.

Well.  Mistakes were made, as the saying goes.

Readercon apologized for the disinvitation letter, calling it “not well written.”  Actually, having read it, it seemed to me to be very carefully written.  If the problem was simply that there wasn’t enough room for all the people who wanted to be on the program, a simple “Sorry, can’t fit you on the program this year, try again next year,” would have done it.  But that’s not what was said.  It was, “We’re deeply grateful for your years of participation….But that longevity is exactly why we need you to step aside…”

Personally, I never assume that any convention is going to automatically include me just because I was there last year.  Or because I’ve attended for many years.

The more I look at it, the more that it seems like they went so far overboard in apologizing that the justifications kept piling up, and the fact that the disinvitation was not permanent was never mentioned.  It really did look like “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Did they mean it that way?  Well, once people complained about it, they assured us that they did not.

I did attend Readercon, and when I looked around, the convention seemed pretty much like any Readercon of past years — except that a number of specific people I normally see there were absent.

Barry B. Longyear was gone — But the even older Samuel R. Delaney was present.

Jeff Carver and Craig Shaw Gardener were gone — But James Patrick Kelly, of a similar vintage, was present.

Ann Zeddies and Shariann Lewitt were missing — but I was there, about the same age, same gender, and same level of experience.

(During the convention, I ran into a longtime participant who had been disinvited — and who showed up, not as participant or even attendee.  Just sort of strolled in, and chatted to a few people, including me.  Hey, it’s a hotel!  The convention didn’t own the building.   But this person was rather bitter, and made some statements that I could not take at face value without further discussion and/or evidence, to the effect that it was in fact a targeted purge, and that Those in Power had explicitly informed this person of his unsuitability.  But that was merely a brief exchange.  If true, I need more info, from a reliable source willing to be quoted by name.)

And actually, it was quite an enjoyable convention, for me.  I had a good showing for my Kaffeeklatsch, a good showing for my reading (which was lots of fun), and um, exactly two people for my autographing.  Hey, it happens.  Hung out with some nice people, including Ruthanna Emrys, who has a new book out:

Deep Roots (The Innsmouth Legacy) by [Emrys, Ruthanna]

It’s the second volume of her Innsmouth Legacy series, which poses the question: what if all that stuff H.P. Lovecraft wrote about was true — and, oh, by the way, not a bad thing at all?  If you’re a Lovecraft fan, you should check these out.

Now, as for the Worldcon newbie-snub kerfuffle: once called on it, they did an interesting thing.  They acknowledged their error, withdrew the offending preliminary program listing, apologized, and set about fixing the problem immediately.  

And please note in the above link, all the well-established SF/F professionals who volunteered to give up their places on the program, specifically to make room for the newer writers.

The kerfuffle also included — was in fact initially sparked by — the misgendering of Hugo finalist Bogi Takács,  drawing an apology from Worldcon Chair Kevin Roche.  I do hope that one gets sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction.  Alternative gender identification is newly publicly acknowledged in modern society, and one of the very interesting things about living in the 21st century.


Jul 13 2018

Quick post before Readercon


Damn, I’m never ready ahead of time!

Well.  It’s the wee hours of the morning, and I have to hit the road at a reasonable time, given that traffic around Boston is never smooth sailing.  My first event (Kaffeeklatsch) isn’t until 6PM, but I want to be settled and rested.  I’m slightly under the weather, possibly from fighting some sort of cold slowly creeping up on me…

Or possibly from a side effect of the meds for that unpleasant skin problem I mentioned a while back.  Which turned out to what TV commercials used to call “The heartbreak of psoriasis.”  More frustration than heartbreak on my part, actually, since it’s on the working surfaces of my hands, which I use daily for — oh, say, typing prose on a keyboard, or playing the guitar.  Both of which are necessary to keep me mentally stable.

I hope to arrive at the convention early enough to be non-frazzled, well-rested, and lightly fed before diving into my events.  And meeting and greeting!

Well, I really must get moving.  There’s plenty I want to say, now that I’m here saying things – but I’ve run out of time.

Hm, what can I say quickly?

How about another excerpt from the AMA Session?

“MikeOfThePalace” said: Hi Rosemary, and thanks for joining us!

First: something I particularly enjoyed was reading your books not only as a science guy, but as a science fiction guy. I felt like I could peer behind the curtain in a way that Rowan and Bel and company could not, saying to myself “the redgrass must have been generically engineered to do this” and “oh, the Face People have very high rates of stillbirth and infant mortality? Well, that makes perfect sense.” I suppose I don’t have a specific question about this topic, but take this as a general opportunity to comment.

Second question: you’re trapped on a deserted island with three books. Knowing that you will be reading them over and over and over again, what three do you bring?

ME: What’s interesting to me is that I’ve never considered the desert island question before, given that it’s a perennial question one asks of people.

Geez, what book? Thing is, the books that I love, I’ve already read them multiple times! I’d want a book that I wouldn’t otherwise read, and would take a long time to get through, and I’d have to puzzle it out, so I’d get a lot of mileage…

Aha! In Search of Lost Time by Proust. (Formerly known as Remembrance of Things Past) Yeah. That’ll keep me going for a while.

“JamesLatimer” commented: I’m glad they fixed the translation there. I’ve known the French title since hearing it in a Monty Python sketch and never got why it wasn’t the same in English!

ME: Much later: I just realized that I only named one book, and you asked for three!

So, on the same principle as In Search of Lost Time (something I wouldn’t normally have time to do, and would take work to understand, and would keep me busy for a while), I’d take .. Hm…

Well, I don’t have a specific title, but it would be a big fat textbook on mathematics, starting with algebra and going all the way to calculus. Because I would love to get really good at that.

And the third would be the book that professional musicians call the “official” Fake Book, which has lyrics and music for hundreds of songs, from the 40’s to the present. I would work out fascinating arrangements for songs I’ve never played before. You said nothing about me having a guitar along, but that’s okay. Like Gilligan’s Professor,  I can make do. I’ll use a stick, a coconut, and some fish guts to make a ukulele.





Jun 30 2018

Readercon looms


Yes, I’ll be at Readercon this year.

This despite the fact that many of the pals I usually look forward to hanging out with will be absent, due to the great Readercon disinvitation sweep.  (See Jeff Carver’s post about it, which is pretty representative of the  experience of most of the disinvited.)

Given all that, why am I going?  Well.  I think it’s  because I want to find out if the infamous letter  really was misinterpreted, as is claimed by Readercon, or if it actually represents a real shift in Readercon’s attitude.  And one way to find that out is to see what sort of convention results.  I shall decide about future participation based on that.

Anyway, here’s my schedule:

Friday, 6PM Kaffeeklatsch.  Sign up to hang out with me over coffee and discuss whatever comes up!

Friday, 7:30  Reading.  Yes!  I shall be reading from The Changes of the Dark AKA Book 5.

Friday, 9PM Radical Elders, with Barbara Krasnoff (moderator), Sabrina Vourvoulias, Elizabeth Hand and James Patrick Kelly.     Here’s the verbatim description from the official schedule: “On the page, as in GOH Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, and in real life, as in the careers of authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, elders are speaking their minds and upsetting the status quo. How can age intersect with radicalism and pioneering thought? How is the cognitive estrangement of aging relevant to speculative fiction and fannish communities, and what’s the best way of acknowledging that relevance?

Yeah, the thing that made me want to sign up for that was the sentence: How is the cognitive estrangement of aging relevant to speculative fiction and fannish communities, and what’s the best way of acknowledging that relevance?

I cannot adequately express (she said in that quiet  and overly-calm voice she uses when she is struggling to be polite while actually seething in fury) how much I dislike that sentence.

The cognitive estrangement of aging?

The cognitive estrangement of aging ?

Which cognitive estrangement is that, now?  The one of  aging?

That cognitive estrangement?   Oh, yes, everybody gets that ol’ cognitive estrangement, we’d better address that one.  We should definitely endeavor to adequately acknowledge its social relevance to the community and some stuff.

Really, it sounds like exactly the sort of sentence you’d use when trying to bullshit your thesis advisor.    A phony, faked-up concept, insultingly applied — and obviously designed as a sop for any people who think that Readercon just might not be sensitive to, and inclusive of, the issues of elders.

Yeah. I’m gonna be on that panel.

And also:

Saturday 1PM: Autographing.

That’s it — but I am looking forward to attending panels as well. Here’s the full program listing.

In other news… Lost many hours and significant portions of several days dealing with my computer finally breaking down.  New computer successfully purchased and updated with the wisely-backed-up files, at the cost of much annoyance and angst.

It’s a laptop, and rather larger than I would have liked.  But, unlike other items you might purchase in your life (house, car, boat, furniture, plot of land) the smaller ones are much more expensive.

The smallest I could afford.


Jun 23 2018

More AMA Q’s


I’m currently hitting Book 5 as hard as I can, and will continue to do so up until Readercon.  At which point I’ll either take a break, or do Readercon in a sort of daze…

Meanwhile, more questions from the Ask Me Anything session:

“pqln” asks: Hi! I’m a big fan and have shoved my shiny new physical copy of the Steerswoman at several people so they can discover your world, too. What a breath of fresh air to have a hero focused on truth and a willingness to look past the status quo despite the discomfort of finding that her previous beliefs about the world are not correct.

What authors inspired you to delve into this place between sci fi and fantasy?

Do you follow any specific scientific journals?

Do you listen to music while you write? Of so, to whom?

A: Thanks for the signal-boost!

What inspired me to delve into this particular place between SF and Fantasy was not any particular author or authors. It was a) sick of not having a female protagonist interested in anything but romance and b) a desire to identify and subvert every single fantasy cliche possible.

I read Scientific American… That’s the only regular one, but I dip into lots via the Internet.

I can’t listen to music when I write! I’m a former professional singer/guitarist, and whenever there’s music in the background, I can’t avoid paying close attention to it. So I listen to, um, random classical, and ambient so-called music. Seriously.

Journals: I do look at Nature every now and again, although I’m just as likely to see something interesting on the Internet, follow the link, and find myself at Nature anyway.  And there are scientist/bloggers these days: you can follow physicist Chad Orzel’s science posts for the online version of Forbes, or Sabine Hossenfelder’s blog, Backreaction.

But I also get my science from books.  There’s a lot of science-journalism going on these days, and there’s just no way I can keep up on everything I want to read!  It might well be a golden age of science popularizing (at the same time that other forces are busy trying to undermine and dismiss scientific fact and the whole great undertaking of scientific progress itself; go figure).

These are the books I’ve bought but have not yet read:

The End of Time, Julian Barbour.  Actually, that’s been on my shelf for over 15 years now!  Probably out of date…

Time Reborn, Lee Smolin.  (Well, that’s good news! Not the end after all, apparently.)  I actually started listening to this in audiobook form, but became so interested that I wanted it in print form so I could consider it more carefully.  So I stopped listening and got the physical book… which I then did not finish reading.  Yet.  I found his Trouble with Physics really interesting (not about physics, but about how string theory is undeservedly taking over physics research) ,  and saw him on stage at a panel during the World Science Festival in New York one year, and wanted to read more by him.

The Order of Time, Carlo Rovelli.  I sense a theme here. I buy books about time, then don’t find the time to finish reading them… Rovelli seems to be getting a lot of press lately, which doesn’t neccessarily indicate anything.  But as he’s the hot new thing, I thought I ought to check him out.

Descarte’s Error, Antonio Damasio.  I was fascinated by The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness.  This book actually precedes that one.

And by the way, while we’re talking science,  let’s not forget Chad Orzel’s books  — And hey, look!  There’s a new one due out in December. Well, I’ll  just go ahead and pre-order it:

Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects by [Orzel, Chad]

I’m also currently eyeing Sabine Hossenfelder’s book, just out recently:

Maybe I’ll just download the free sample first?  — Oh, what the heck.  Just bought it.

And the other half of the question above: the music I listen to while writing.  It really is true, I have trouble listening to music while I write, because the musician in me becomes too engaged!  It’s sort of embarassing, but  I do end up listening to ambient or environmental music instead.  General moody music-like sounds… It’s a sad, sad thing, in a way.

But in that vein, I really must endorse this website:  It’s a customizable set of ambient sound generators, with a large number of excellent pre-set configurations (I’m especially fond of “Northern Lights” lately).   I like these guys so much that I threw some money at them.  But you can listen for free.

But as for real music — who do I like? Well, Richard Thompson is god.   Start there.

Jun 20 2018

Did I mention how well the AMA went?


Pretty well, as it turns out.  Michael DePalatis, the instigator and moderator of the Ask Me Anything event, tells me that I we had over 3700 page views, and assures me that this is “a pretty decent number.”  I just know that I enjoyed it completely.

And for those of you who don’t care to pop over to the fantasy subreddit of Reddit, where the transcript resides, preserved forever  in Internet amber, I’ll quote a few of the questions here, for the next few blog posts.

“diegroblers” asked:  I’ll go with the obvious one that I’m sure everyone wants to know – when will the next Steerswoman be published?

A:  The question of when the next book will be published is actually a couple of questions: Q1: Have you finished writing the next book? A: Nope. Not yet. Q2: Well, when will it be finished? A: I wish I knew for aboslute certain… But I’m aiming for January 2019. Q3:So, once it’s done, when will it be published? A: Depends on which route I end up taking: Self published, or tradition publishing.

If go self-pub, maybe 6 months after it’s done? If I go Trad, could be more than a year afterward.

Yes, I am aiming for January 2019 — Whether I manage to hit that mark remains to be seen, but I’ll give it my all.  It’s no secret that this Book 5 has turned out to be much harder than I anticipated.   I had to throw out thousands words previously written on it, dead-end prose that I accumulated during the last few years — and that was after I had already started Book 6, thinking it was Book 5, and discovering that some of the stuff I thought was going into Book 7 needed to be presented much sooner, and be a book of its own..  So, things have been a bit of a tangle.  I do believe I’ve got the structure sorted out now, but it will still be a difficult book for me to write.

I had a similar problem with The Lost Steersman… and I’m pretty pleased with how that one turned out.

(And yes, I know that I said “actually a couple of questions” in my answer, and then identified three, not two.  This is because I was answering on the fly, so to speak.  My answers often had that sort of error, in the heat of the moment.)


“Megan_Dawn” asked: How long would it take you to get into serious trouble if you had to answer every question with the truth?

A: I’m already in trouble! It took so long to type out the previous answer that my sister called me up and asked why I wasn’t online yet!

True fact.  I was typing away, and got a phone call from Sabine, house-sitting up in Salem.   The answers didn’t show on the page until I hit “enter,” and I had paused in thought.  Too long, apparently!

But possibly Megan was really asking how long it would take for me to get into serious trouble in real life if I had to answer every question with the truth.  Thing is, I basically do… except that unlike Rowan, I can always refuse to answer if I feel like it!   Also, I can nimbly deflect. While I do believe that there are times where it’s all right to lie, the circumstances where I’m actually willing to do so are rare and extreme.   I can get very frustrated at how easily some other people lie — easily, casually, in some cases constantly.

“arundelo” asked: Judging from the plot points that are set up in earlier Steerswoman books and pay off in later ones, it seems like you outlined the entire series before you started writing (or at least before you finished the first book). Have there been cases where, when you got to a part (in book four or wherever), you changed your mind and had something different happen than originally planned?

A: Yes! Here’s an example: Steffie, in The Lost Steersman.

I knew that very far up in the series, during the Steerswoman’s Academy, I wanted to drive home the point that you don’t have to be a teenager to join up. So, I had planned an older character who would show up, and confound the automatic expectations the readers and the non-steerswoman characters. I had that person planned out…

But then once I had Steffie walking and talking, and moving through the tale, I realized that he was perfect for that slot. I eliminated that other character.

In fact, Steffie was one of those fortuitous developments that can pop up from time to time — I character I had not planned on at all, who grew into his role and became indispensible.

Each book begins with a description of a map, and a description of Rowan.  I had placed the viewpoint in what I thought would be a minor character, so as to present Rowan as an outsider sees her.  Steffie was intended to be  just a “spear-carrier” as we call it: someone needed briefly, but otherwise incidental.

But from his first appearance, he was so clear a character, and his voice was so particular.  It was largely through him that I was able to understand the entire town of Alemeth, and he made the perfect foil for Rowan.   She needed a sidekick —  and he was smarter than he looked, and so full of heart. Every scene of his that I wrote, I discovered another dimension to him.  I love the guy.

I couldn’t just create him, and then let him vanish!  So, when I write about the Academy, he will be there.


Jun 14 2018

Ask Me Anything link is now live!


Yep.  This is it: Rosemary Kirstein Answers Your Questions.

I’ll be on hand at 7PM EST, but you can post questions starting right now.   I’ll hang around as long as I possibly can.   Also, if there are any questions that I don’t have time to get to during that session, I’ll see if I can answer them at a later time.  Or answer them here!

Meanwhile: must get to bed, it’s late even for me!

Desk fleurs.



Jun 5 2018

News about people who are not me


Sundry events have kept me offline and intermittently out of the loop.  I have some serious catching-up to do.

I just got back from a couple of days hanging with author Laurie J. Marks and her wife Deb Mensinger, after spending  several days at her place the previous week.  I was there to help out, because Laurie suddenly had some major surgery.

But not to worry!  All is well.  A large but fortunately benign tumor was discovered, and had to be removed ASAP.  And a hyserectomy was performed  along with it.   So, rather a lot of surgery.   Deb’s own health is not great, and she does not drive at all — so my job was to chauffeur from the hospital, go shopping, bring casseroles from Sabine, and clean whatever needed more scrubbing than the others could manage.

Laurie is recovering with amazing swiftness!  By Sunday, I drove her and Deb out to a local nursery, where they spent a good long time in the fresh air and sunshine, walking around and picking out a variety of plants.  Then we hauled ’em all home, and they potted them (Laurie working cautiously from the comfort of a big Adirondack chair), and Deb arranged the result on their front steps.

Other news of others:

Remember that storybundle I took part in a couple of months ago?  Well, if you decided that you like the whole storybundle idea (a bunch of ebooks for one combined very low price), there’s one going on right now called “Myths and Legends.”   No, I’m not in it —  but Cat Rambo  is.

I tell you this because there are only a couple of days left to grab the storybundle, and Cat’s contribution is Beasts of Tabat, the first book in her Tabat Quartet series.  And I tell you that because the second book of the series, Hearts of Tabat, has just come out.

Cat is the person who curated the Feminist Futures storybundle that included The SteerswomanAlso, our current SFWA president.  Also, a nominee for both the Nebula and World Fantasy awards.  Just sayin’.

And here’s a thing of which you might not be aware: If you are a Kindle owner, you actually can download short samples of books you’re thinking of buying, totally free.  So, if you’re on the fence, or too reluctant to commit bucks to something you might not like, just try a sample.   Both Beasts of Tabat and Hearts of Tabat can be sampled this way through Amazon.

(Possibly the other ebook sellers and platforms also allow samples — but I only know about Kindle’s policy, that being the platform I use for my own reading.)

And that brings me to another thing I like about the whole ebook phenomenon in general: it encourages you to try unfamiliar authors.  Back when I first started reading  SF & Fantasy (approximately one million years ago), a paperback cost about the same as a bag of potato chips.  A book by someone you never heard of  before did not set you back, didn’t eat up your disposable income.  Even a kid like me could buy both a paperback book and a bag of potato chips.

The price-point on ebooks is often so much lower than the paperback or hardback versions, it’s once again worthwhile to take a chance on something totally new  — and with that sampling option, you can even try before you buy.

And some short news about people who are me:

Sabine and I did manage to get some of our planned improvements done, but others were postponed for various legitimate reasons.

We had some seriously nasty weather roll through our part of the state, including what were later identified as three small tornadoes!  They did not hit our town, but one of the towns affected was quite nearby.  The biggest damage in our condo complex resulted from a very tall, narrow, but lovely old oak crashing down on the ranks of mailboxes by the road.  But this caused us to push back some of the tasks that needed sunshine.

And then, we pushed back more tasks, since I found I had to schedule physical therapy twice a week for both my shoulders. I’ve been having some pain for a while, and finally admitted that it was not going to go away without real help.  I blame bad author ergonomics.

In aid of which I purchased this:


Kinesis Freestyle 2

We’ll see if it helps.  Too soon to tell.  But it’s already nice to be able to type without always keeping my hands front-and-center.

Finally: that AMA looms a mere nine days away.  Line up your Q’s and I’ll do my best to A.

May 27 2018

Gardner Dozois


Just moments ago, I got the news that Gardner Dozois has passed away.

I’m so saddened by this.  The work he did as an editor has helped shape our field.  When he took over editor of Asimov’s Magazine, he widened the stylistic scope of the stories published, and helped the magazine transform from an Analog/Astounding clone into its own distinct and important publication.   And the annual Year’s Best Science Fiction   anthologies were treasure troves; once the field of SF became so large one could no longer read everything published, it was Dozois who helped us find the best, the new directions and new voices.

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fourth Annual Collection by [Dozois, Gardner]

As usual, Twitter was the swiftest disseminator of the news.

He took over at Asimov’s just after they published my first short story.  For as long as he remained there, I kept hoping I’d sell a story to him.  Or later, that I’d be selected for inclusion in Year’s Best.

Now, I never will.

There are testimonials all over the internet, by people who knew him personally.   Look to them, for a real sense of his personality.

I know him only by his works.  And those works touched us all.

May 14 2018

Upcoming Reddit Ask Me Anything on June 14th


Some of you, on reading the title above, are going, “Excellent!”

Others are going, “Say what now?”

For people in the second group: Ask Me Anything (aka AMA) is a question and answer session conducted via the Reddit website.  Check out their Wikipedia entry for a more exhaustive background on Reddit’s history and mission, but here are some of the more  cogent aspects:

  1. Reddit is huge.
  2. It’s a discussion and aggregation website.
  3. It’s basically structured as a good ol’ online bulletin board.  Remember them?  No fancy graphics, no slick interface!  It’s what you say that counts, not how pretty your post looks.
  4.  It’s very wide-ranging.   It covers a lot of subjects, and they branch off into “subreddits.” (I’ll be on the /r/fantasy subreddit. )
  5. It’s the fourth most visited website on the Internet.  Yes, I said the fourth.

A lot of cool people have done AMA’s.  Here’s the raw list of previous /r/fantasy AMA’s. Pick a name, click on it — and it’s like you were right there when it was happening.  (Here’s a somewhat prettier list with upfront come-on blub, courtesy of

I’m really excited about this.  It’s an honor to be invited!

I’m also a bit nervous.  It’s live, answer-as-it’s-asked.

Still I have a pretty good idea of what some of the questions will be, so I can prep myself beforehand.

On the day the AMA goes live, I’ll post the link here, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  You should stop by!  I’m planning to do it in the evening when most people in North America are home from work.  People in other hemispheres: alas, the world is round.  You’ll just  have to stay up late, if you’re in Europe, or get up early if you’re in India.

Random photo of a nice corner of my office. Just because.