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!


Jul 20 2015

No panels = stress free convention, part the first


I had a wonderful time at Readercon. And a relaxing one, too! Not participating in any panels left me free to enjoy the weekend, with no responsibilities at all.

Also, I arrived a day early, and for one night didn’t even have a roommate. A nice evening of mostly solitude, where I could reset all my angst-meters to zero.

Plus: I love hotels. If you give them money, they will give you food, and clean up after you. And you can sleep as late as you want.

I was in a happy state of mind, and inspired by all the great discussions and conversations, all of them about things that interest me, and matter to me. Hundreds of people who like the same stuff I do — how could I not be inspired?

It was nice; in fact, I think I kind of needed exactly that, without knowing it.

Oh, right — that photo:

click to embiggen, if you so choose.


Left to right (foreground to back, back to front): Allysen Carver, Victoria Janssen, Judith Berman (unfortuately partially obscured), Your Intrepid Blogger, Ted Chiang, Alex Jablokow, Ann Tonsor Zeddies (aka Toni Anzetti, although not recently), and Jeff Carver.

Our side of the table

Our side of the table

It was a great dinner, involving good food and excellent companions.   Lots of interesting conversations (on the basis of Ted’s recommendation, I instantly bought Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), by Christian Rudder, which has some fascinating insights about human behavior, gleaned by analysis of the massive collections of data accumulated by various social media and dating sites).


Other side

Also wonderful:  Meeting  fans (and non-fan pals of fans): Joshua AC Newman, Carrie Bernstein, Sam Anderson and Kate Freedman.   I had posted and tweeted that I was available for meeting and hanging out with any and all, at 2pm on Saturday — and these are the folks who turned up!  I was a bit nervous, not knowing who would be there (except for Joshua, who tweeted back instantly).  But it turned out to be a great time.

These are extremely intelligent and accomplished people, and they were joy to spend time with.   They all seemed to have great senses of humor, they were astonishingly well-poised while maintaining enthusiasm and charm and honesty — They’re exactly the sort of people I’m writing for.  I’m so very glad I met them.

(But– ack!  Look at the time… I need to finish this tomorrow!  Must sleep now.)

More, as they say, later…


Jul 15 2015

— And she’s back!


Back from Readercon, that is, with every intention of blogging about the weekend…

But alas, not right now… Because having taken two days away from the Day Job, there’s a chunk of stuff that needs to be dealt with.  Plus: tired.  Plus: have  to unpack, clean stuff, do laundry.

Meanwhile, as a preview, here’s a photo of a lovely group dinner we had on Saturday night at the now-Readercon-traditional Korean barbecue place. A typical gathering of authors and those associated with them.  See if you can identify all the parties present!


click to embiggen, if you so choose.

click to embiggen, if you so choose, then click again for enhanced embiggenedness.



Jul 11 2015

At Readercon


At Readercon — and I’ve got this gap between 2 and 4 when I thought I’d just hang in the lobby to meet folks. Any takers?mi

Jul 4 2015

On the Fourth


I absolutely love fireworks, and there actually are no less than four simultaneous fireworks shows going on right now. I went up on the roof at my office, but alas: every one of them was just exactly too low behind the surrounding hills and trees for me to actually see. So there’s a lot of banging and whistling going on all around me, but I only occasionally see the tops of especially high displays.

Still, I stayed up there for a while, just listening and smiling to myself. Stars above, this odd little complex of old factories and warehouses around, and booms and whistles echoing off the hills.

You know, I do love this country. I’m not a knee-jerk flag-waver, to say everything is perfect by definition because USA. But I’m also not the other extreme, where the things that are wrong mean that everything is wrong because Evil.

It seems to me that everything right with this country came about because of people thinking intelligently; and everything wrong persists because of people not thinking intelligently.

We need to be smart. That’ll fix it. Let’s do that.

Random other news:

I just signed on as a Patreon Patron for Mary Alexandra Agner’s monthly poem based on science in the news.    For a buck a month, how can you lose?  She needs 9 more $1 patrons to hit $25 (but you can pledge more!)… Looking at you, science-lovers.  Here’s a poem she wrote about the Mars Rover Curiosity.

Also: Ophidiphobes, look away!  Here’s a snake:


Tasting the air.

Tasting the air.

I found this jolly fellow just hanging out on top of the bush next to our front door as I left to go to my office. He seemed remarkably unworried about me. I guess he was depending on his snaky scariness to protect him. So he hung out long enough for me to fully admire him. I’m especially fond of snakes (when I know they’re not the poisonous ones!). They’re so extremely alien.

And here’s my local great blue heron:

Fleeing the paparazzi.

A mere speck, due to iPhone instead of my better actual camera.

This was shot next to the bridge over the local river (the mighty Quinnipiac).  Now that I know he’s there, I see him a lot,  often when my car is stopped at the light near the bridge; previously, I simply never thought to look.

I’ve also seen him from the footbridge next to my office.

He's not in this picture.  It's just a nice picture.

He’s not in this picture. It’s just a nice picture.

Sabine, meanwhile, is in the Land of Herons — hanging out at the home of our pals in New Hampshire.  By the time she starts heading back, I’ll be heading out to Readercon.  We might not even see each other in passing!

Well.  Back to the tasks at hand.  I had yesterday off from the Day Job; with my usual Monday off, that’s a nice 4-day run.

More later…