Category: Scientifiction


 

It’s been too long and I simply must give a shout out to Tangent Online and Joe Giddings for reviewing Armored.

Mr. Giddings liked my story and said as much  in his review , “In my opinion, the best story in the anthology.”

You made my day. Thanks, Joe!

 

Roswell-UFOI’m in Capitan, New Mexico right now. The birth and final resting place of Smokey Bear. (Not Smokey THE Bear just Smokey Bear. Get it right you soft-shoed urbanite.)

I’m learning  how to track people. When I’m done I’ll be able to wear a patch that say “Tactical Tracker” on it. My inner boy is so excited he can hardly breathe. I think it’s pretty cool too.

70 miles away is Roswell, NM, site of the infamous Roswell UFO Incident. The town apparently has no bars of note, and no clubs, so I will not be going.

I will, however, point out that an old religious leader of mine, a mormon bishop, claimed, in all seriousness, to have been one of the Air Force MPs mobilized to provide security around the crash site on that fateful day.

If the government really is covering up the recovery of an alien spaceship, well, somebody is going to pay, someday.

If by no other method than hordes of aging and disappointed SF fanboys hunting them through the streets like Han Solo after a TaunTaun on the Orient Express. There will probably be other groups involved in the gutting too.

The last month has been pretty crazy for me. I spent most of it in Korea doing various mentally and physically strenuous things. Separate post for all of that.

While I was gone the anthology I’m in with Brandon Sanderson hit store shelves. I missed going to a bookstore to see it on opening day, being in the far east, but I was pretty excited nonetheless, showing tweets announcing the event to the guys in the barracks and threatening them with dire bodily harm if they didn’t evince a little more excitement for me. “Yay!”

And, of course, returning home is often not as relaxing and stress free as one imagines it will be, so the first opportunity I had to actually go see ARMORED in the wild was Saturday April 8th. It coincided with a signing Larry Correia and Mike Kupari were doing for there new book DEAD SIX.

Dead SixMike just returned from Afghanistan where he worked as an EOD tech for the Air Force. Welcome home Mike and congratulations on the book!

I stopped to say hi to Mike and Larry and to grab a copy of Dead Six before I hit the shelves to gaze in wonder at my name in print in an actual store. As always Larry was the epitome of benevolence and courtesy. He asked me to grab a copy of Armored for him too so I could sign it for him. My head almost exploded.

The computers said the store had three copies but the very helpful sales associate was only able to locate one at first.  I gave that one to Larry, (Baen sent me two contributor copies earlier) and signed it for him.

While I was scribbling at their table one of Larry’s fans perked up and said, “Hey! I just bought a copy of that book.” Which explained where the second of the three copies the computers thought the store had had gone. I signed that one too.  Missed an opportunity though. I wish I’d had a picture taken with me Brian and Larry, showing off my two very first actual signed-with-a-pen books. Definitely going to remember to do that with my first actual novel.

At about that time the sales associate returned with the third and final copy of Armored, which I bought. Which means that B&N in Sugarhouse is bone dry now. I hope they reorder.

Crimson Pact II also met Paul Genesse the very cool and friendly author of the Iron Dragon series, which I have not yet read but which my sons absolutely love. Paul is notably making an increasingly successful go of the e-book/POD (print on demand) business model with a series of anthologies called THE CRIMSON PACT. I think I may submit to that…

All in all a great first week back. Now to get back in the groove on the novel Brandon and I are doing.

I have voted on them. This is the first year I’ve managed to read a lot of the works up for the awards and thus felt good about judging the categories.

I’m not going to detail some of the categories. Some I will.

I put “Feed” by Mira Grant in the number one slot for Best Novel and I felt her vision, clarity, and sheer pizzazz carried it by a wide margin.  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin came in second. Not much to say about the others. They were all good books.

I wanted to punch Connie Willis in the face when I got to the end of Blackout, or rather, the non-ending that tailed off that side of the book. But I understand that’s her publisher’s fault for splitting the book at the last minute rather than her own. That’s the rumor I heard anyway. I’ll go with it because punching old ladies in the face isn’t really an option.

For Best Novella I tapped “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky because it was awesome, sweeping, and painted so concretely for me that I feel like I was there. Again, all the entries were fine, fine stories, a few nearly as good as Red Flowers.

Best Novelette, went to “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone because it struck so close to home for me. I can’t truly occupy any viewpoint but my own and Eric sits right next door. The story spoke to me and he’s a brave man for bringing religion into it. Bravo, sir.

Short Story totted up in favor of “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal  very closely followed by “Ponies” by Kij Johnson. Nail stands on its own, Ponies may take a bit of explaining. It’s one of those stories that could be brushed aside as merely shocking for shock’s sake if it wasn’t so horribly resonant with my own experience of the world. Let us not be the bully ponies in our own lives…

Big fan of Writing Excuses and Schlock Mercenary, no surprise there.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form I gave to Inception, followed by Toy Story 3. I put Scott Pilgrim at the bottom because I wasn’t equipped to appreciate it. I’ve never lived the shallow bachelor life, sometimes to my regret but not very often, and the characters all fell flat for me for, probably, that reason.

I voted on a couple other categories  but my reasons are shady and kind of blurry so we’ll leave those alone.

Best new Writer? I’m friends with two of the nominees so I’m not saying who took 1 and who took 2. One of them is liable to shoot me from more than 300 yards out and the other just might bury me alive in his backyard. I don’t need that kind of pressure.

Next stop Worldcon! Kind of…

The deal of the century!

For only $50 you can get a $larger dollar value!

Unbelievable!

Sign up now to be a Supporting Hugo Voter and receive free digital copies of all the works nominated for the Hugos!

Impose your will upon the outcome of this historic contest!

Read the works before you vote!

OR NOT!

Keep the digital copies and only read them after you’ve cast your ballot of ignorance! Long live the counter-culture!

Woohoo!

I know Howard Tayler, the creator, author, and artist of the web comic “Schlock Mercenary.” He’s a great guy, smart and fun to talk to. A few years ago a mutual friend recommended that I read the comic as I’d probably get a kick out of it, I being in the military and the strip being about mercenaries and all.

I looked up the site, went to the beginning of the strip, and did not read it. Aside from being an arrogant typer of words I fancy myself an artist. Strictly part-time and amateur, but I do draw. The art in Schlock Mercenary was terrible. So terrible that I didn’t like looking at it. I feel guilty saying this now because, for heavens sake, here was a guy drawing a comic strip day-in-day-out and making money at it and all I’d ever done with my drawing was sketch in my little sketch books that I never show to anyone. But it was bad.

First Strip

 

So, jump to March of last year. I’d finally met Howard and we got on famously. I decided to try again on the strip, just jump into the middle as it were and start with the current strip and keep reading every day until I had a handle on the story line. Joy of joys the art was no longer bad. It was, in fact, fantastic. And the story, which I hadn’t really given a chance on my first attempt, was fun and smart too.

Strip I Read Last Year

Which brings us to today. I still read the current strip everyday. Howard is apparently famous, and rightly so, for posting a new strip everyday without fail since day one (12 June 2000).

Now, however, I’ve started over at strip one and kept going.  I’m watching his art evolve as I do. I’m talking both story and line art here. It just gets better and better.

Nicely done Howard. Nicely done.

 

Well, it definitely did not go to hell. I liked this book.

Everything I liked about it in the first 8 chapters: Hard SF sensibilities, a cool central premise, the fast moving short story pace, were maintained for the entire novel. All good. Highly recommended.

And in other news, Eric James Stone’s story “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” has been nominated for a Hugo award in the “Best Novelette” category. Huge congratulations, Eric!

I haven’t finished this book yet, so be warned that it may go completely to hell before I get there. I don’t think it’s likely but I’ll let you know either way. So far though, (I’m up to Chapter 8.) it’s a rocking good time with hard SF sensibilities striking sparks off of a whimsical  and amusing central premise.

Also, in the interests of full disclosure, Eric James Stone, the author, is my friend. I like his stuff in spite of that though, and I don’t think I’m in the minority.

Unforgettable

John Steakley, author of Armor and Vampire$, as well as quite a few short stories, has passed away after a five year bout with cancer.

I first encountered John Steakley when I read his novel Armor. It’s a brilliant science fiction piece about a troubled and driven man fighting as a soldier in power armor against an inhuman and terrifying enemy. It’s also about Jack Crow, a con man, and his marks. The two worlds intersect in fascinating and compelling ways. Brilliant.

I’ve been through more than a dozen copies of Armor, re-reading them until they fall apart or loaning them to friends who never return them.

I never met John Steakley, which I regret, and I wish mightily that he had written a few more books.

Godspeed, sir.

Elizabeth Moon

Elizabeth Moon

I know Mrs. Moon. Not particularly well. We’ve sat across from each other at dinners, talked while we walked around a con, and so forth. She’s a very nice lady. We differ on many political issues.

She wrote a blog post this year about the proposed mosque at ground zero. I thought it was well written, thoughtful, and I largely agreed with it.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Elizabeth Moon was disinvited as Guest Of Honor from WisCon because of the contents of that post. She is being described as a bigot and a racist. In a shallow search of the internet the negative response to her post was vociferous and ill-informed. By that I mean that the vigor of those decrying her words seemed inversely proportional to how well they understood what she’d actually said in the post itself.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. For decades now ideologues have been preying on individuals who can’t be troubled to fully understand any given issue. If the soundbite doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, like a kindly revolutionary, well, you must be against that. If the soundbite doesn’t resonate with your own fears, give you a sense of belonging to the in-group, well, you must be against that. Carry on, wave your placard, dump your trash on the ground for the workers to pick up.

Mrs. Moon’s post was largely a call to active citizenship, to responsibility, to personal accountability. A democratic republic cannot function properly if the citizens are worried only about themselves. The well-being of the group, the nation, the country, must figure largely into a good citizen’s responsibility equation. Mrs. Moon is well entitled to make that statement having served in the Marine Corps among a great many other things. Presumably she did at least a few good things that got her the Guest of Honor invitation to WisCon in the first place.

Part of being a good citizen here in the United States is a willingness to openly consider ideas that may be different from your own. Discuss them on their merits. Examine your own ideas in their light to see if, perhaps, you can learn something. It is the mark of intellectual cowardice and dishonesty to refuse to examine, refuse to discuss, refuse even to entertain, ideas that may be different from your own.

I’m looking at you WisCon.