Mar 31 2016

Random updates


Yep, still livin’ the dream.  No day-job.  Lots of time at my writing office.

About to call it a day.

About to call it a day.

Less fortunately, this book is not proving cooperative lately.  So, still a lot of flailing and cursing going on.

Never mind; I’ll get it sorted out.

I’m stepping back and reviewing some of my back-burner projects, just to give my overheated brain a rest.    I’ll give myself a few days of that.

I have three things cooking:

One is related to Book 5, but not in the main line of the series.   An interesting side-excursion…

The other is the fabled Secret Project, which was supposed to be a novella but grew legs and wings and a kick-ass attitude, and had to be set aside so I could go back to the Steerswomen…

The third is an epic poem, somewhat hindered by the fact that I am no kind of poet.  I just sort of shove the words around until I like them.   But it seems like that hasn’t stopped lots of other people who commit poetry, so what the heck.

… And that’s all I’ll say here, because (as I’ve said before) I don’t like to over-talk a project.  It drains all the juice out!  Plus: spoilers.

In other news:

Something hit Jupiter!   Probably a comet or an asteroid.   Phil Plait of the Bad Astronomy blog has a nice round-up.

Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted some Wrong Science recently, but the difference between him and Bill Nye was that the statements in question were one-liners (not lengthy explanatory videos), not in his field of expertise, and  posted off the cuff.   In fact, I can’t help wondering if he even posted them himself at all.   Some famous people outsource their tweets.

And: Monday is the day!  We have tickets to Welcome to Night Vale’s live performance in Northampton MA.  SO excited!   Also, looking forward to a pre-show dinner with pal and fellow writer Geary Gravel.   He’s not a Night Vale fan, but we like him anyway.


Click the poster above to go to their live show tickets website. They might be coming to your town.  You’d hate to miss them, right?


Mar 24 2016

Bill, we love you, but please stop saying that.





This is actually painful.

Bill Nye is a great guy, and a great science communicator, and has been for so many years.   I love him, you (probably) love him — of course we do.  That’s what makes this hurt!

Fortunately, physicist Chad Orzel (benevolent fellow that he is) views this as a teachable moment, and thanks to he can get the word out to a wide audience.  Excellent.

Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, on the other hand, is just mad. With good reason.  

Orzel and Hossenfelder each break down the misconceptions point-by-point, and I urge you to click on the links above for the real scoop from people who know what they’re talking about.

Want a really short version?  How about this:

Bill: “…If this turns out to be a real thing…” Entanglement is a real thing, no “if” about it.  But you can’t use it to communicate faster than the speed of light.  It doesn’t work out like that.

Bill: “…it carries, for me, the belief that we’ll be able to go back in time…”  No.  If we could use entanglement to communicate faster than the speed of light, then we could send information back in time, yes…  But that won’t actually happen since we can’t use it to communicate faster than the speed of light.

Bill: “…we’ll be able to harness energy somehow from black holes …”  What? Where is this coming from? What has one thing to do with the other?    I see no connection… unless — wait!  That’s right!  If it’s possible  to send information back in time, then our future selves in their future advanced civilization will send back instructions to us, on how to harness energy from black holes!  Brilliant!  Wait, why haven’t they done that yet?  Oh, right: we can’t use entanglement to communicate faster than the speed of light. Because it doesn’t work that way.  Darn it.

Quoting Chad here:

“There’s no way to determine the outcome of a quantum measurement in advance, so the physicists on either end of an entanglement experiment end up with a set of random numbers that convey no information. Those numbers are perfectly correlated with each other, but they need to compare the two lists in order to learn that, and the comparison can only be done via communication channels at light-speed or below.”

Seriously, check out the links above.

I’m going to lie down and put a wet cloth on my forehead.  This is giving me the fantods.

Mar 21 2016

Not seein’ it yet…


They say more big snow is on the way for our area, but here it is midnight and nothing much is going on.

Just me and the story,  rattling along in the night.

Tomorrow’s my at-home day, so if we get the six inches they predict, I won’t have to worry about driving.  Of course, I’m exactly two miles from the office, so you wouldn’t think I’d worry — but as I’ve said before, there’s this hill that, when it gets icy, can either slam you into the side of an overpass where you’ll sit while the cars behind slam in to you; or deliver you into four-way intersection after possibly careening off the side of an overpass.  Depending on which route you take.

Well. Stayin’ home and cooking a turkey, which was on sale for .99 a pound, the point at which it’s just silly not to buy it.   Also laundry and general chores.

Thanks to all who recommended reading for my chill-out days, by the way.  Alas, I had no chill-out days.

Because my computer arrived, needed to be loaded up, tweaked into submission, told what’s what and who’s boss.   It was recalcitrant at first, but conceded in the end.  I have that skill.

Simultaneously, the cheesy internet connection in my office proved it was even cheesier than I had previously assumed.   We’ll be parting ways Real Soon Now, and I have my solution on hand, so all is well.  But I did need to drag my new computer home, so that I could use the excellent internet we have at home for all the downloading and installation of software that I needed.

Sigh.  Frustration over!  All is well.

After several days in a row spent at home dealing with computer stuff, I was absolutely itching to get back to my lovely office.  And here I am.

And actually, it’s about time to go home.

A few random items of interest:

Sabine Hossenfelder is a physicist whose blog I check in on periodically.  This week she has an interesting post on the so-called myth of the lonely scientist, and how it’s not necessarily as mythical as some say.   I’m not a scientist (I just pretend to be one for literary purposes), but I recognized a lot of myself in what she said.

Jeffrey A. Carver (Schrodinger Cats class of 2015) has dropped the price on the ebook version of From a Changeling Star.  I’m not sure how long the sale is going to last, so here’s your chance to snap it up for peanuts.  Here’s what David Brin said about it: “Starts with a bang and keeps getting better. Carver handles not one, but two hot topics, and presents both vividly.”   Here’s what Roger Zelazny said about it: “[A] fast-paced puzzler, rich in invention, and Jeffrey A. Carver’s most ambitious book to date.”  Here’s what Rosemary Kirstein says about it: “I haven’t finished reading it yet!  I’m only up to Chapter Five!  Get off my back already!  Sheesh.”

Oh, and pal Ann Zeddies has a Kindle Single, which escaped my notice for the longest time.  “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Swamp Thing” is a non-SF, Young Adult, gay romance, and might be exactly what you or a young person you know are looking for.   I found it charming.

Oh, and happy Equinox.  Which isn’t, actually… There’s a video from It’s Okay to Be Smart to explain it.




Mar 14 2016

What’s all the fuss about Pi Day?


Yes, it’s pi day.  Not too late to celebrate.

In fact, it’s a better pi day than last year’s pi day, which was said by many to be the best.  But they were wrong.

Let my favorite mathematical ranter explain why:

I love Vi Hart.

In other news: I’m going to chill for a few days… I seem to be stressing myself out a little, hitting Book 5 a bit too hard for too long.

Time to breathe.   Muse.  Go for walks.  Read a book!

Any suggestions on that?

Mar 12 2016

It had to happen sometime…


Yeah, my computer died.

It’s been limping along for a while now.   It’s an old Dell Studio 15 (they don’t make ’em anymore), and it’s  been going  bluescreen restart-me periodically for  the last couple of years, so it’s not like I had no warning.   The screen regularly goes all scrambled, which I’ve diagnosed as a dying video card, and there are some dead arrow-keys.   It’s a laptop, but I’ve mainly used it as a desktop, attached to a 23-inch monitor and ergonomic keyboard, so the dead keys didn’t present that much of a problem.

Until it stopped working altogether, of course.

I’ve had an HP SimpleSave terabyte automatic backup hooked up for ages now.  Which meant that  I didn’t lose any actual work…

Still, I lost a day of my time!  A day for which I had many plans!  All of which included writing, and none of which included fussing around with a computer to determine if it really wasn’t going to come back this time.   Nor did those plans include going online at the Dell site (using my iPad,), and spending hours waffling between options.

Luckily, since I knew this day was coming, I had already done tons of research.  I had  narrowed my choices down to a) an excellent, super-light laptop with lots of power and a great screen, or b) a small but lively desktop for which I already possessed a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Really wanted the laptop.  Went with the desktop.

Because I needed to be up and running as quickly as possible, as economically as possible.  And I have another little laptop (oh-so-crappy but perfectly usable) that I  drag around when I travel.

And Dell had a sale going on, how nice of them!

And then.. my computer came back to life.  But really, it must go.  Just as well I made the purchase.

I think that in September I’ll review my status, and see if I can swing the fancier laptop.   But right now, economy rules.

In other news:

I’ve seen two total eclipses: one in February 1979 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the other in August  of 1999, viewed from the deck of an old cruise ship in the middle of the Black Sea.  Both were astonishing, moving experiences, and I’d hoped to possibly get to see the one on March 8 this year, too.  But getting to the location was just too expensive this time.  (For the one in Winnipeg, I took a bus cross-country, and stayed at the YWCA.)

But this is a great video!  Alaska Airlines changed the departure time of their flight 870, so that the passengers could get to see the eclipse from the air.  (And they’re boasting about it, as well they might: here’s their blog post.)

And guess what?  Next year, there’s going to be a total eclipse visible from right here in the USA!

It’s going to be great.  I just have to make sure I’ll be back from Worldcon in Helsinki in time to see it.

Other other news: my office internet connection died.  It’s a cellular hotspot, through the Sprint network, which has had outages all over the country today.   Hoping it will come back tomorrow.  Meanwhile: good ol’ iPhone to the rescue.



Mar 3 2016

Schrödinger Sessions II now open for applications


Just a quick post, in case this is the only blog you read: The Schrödinger Sessions 2016 quantum physics workshop for Science Fiction writers is now accepting applications.  Here’s your chance!

This workshop will help your writing by:

  1. giving you the real scoop on quantum physics, so you won’t make dope mistakes in your stories
  2. giving you the chance to meet real scientists.  Surprise!  They are not smart-but-laughable misfits (looking at you, Big Bang Theory), but are actually amazingly cool people who love the same stuff you love, and get to do it for a living.
  3. connecting you with fellow writers who actually care about the science in science fiction.

And did I mention that it’s free?  They house you in the dorms, feed you breakfast and lunch.  You have to arrange your own travel, pay for your parking (if you have a car on hand), and get yourself dinner (great excuse to hang with those other writers I mentioned).

I can’t say enough good things about my experience last year.   I’d try for it again this year, but my time for the summer is pretty much booked; and I think it would be good to spread this experience around to new people, instead of me trying to repeat it for myself.  Much as I’d love to.

Here are some inspirational images from last year:

bonus purple lasers

quantum teleportation


The Cats, class of 2015

The Cats, class of 2015

Bonus track:  Chad Orzel is one of the organizers and teachers at the Schrödinger Sessions, and last month he gave a presentation for the general public at the Jefferson Lab, on quantum physics as presented to his dog Emmy (as is his wont).   He graciously provided a link to the video: