We Interrupt This Broadcast…

WE INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST TO PRESENT A SPECIAL PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT…

Lovers of books, animals, children, and fabulous tales set in the future will want to be sure and take advantage of this special, special deal: Down the Stream of Stars, the second book in my Starstream series, and tangential precursor to my work in progress, The Reefs of Time, and book named by Science Fiction Chronicle to be one of the best SF books of its year, plus being a novel that specially honors two of my high school teachers is on sale! For a limited time only!

Here’s the pitch:

“Starstream!

“A great interstellar migration has begun, down the grand, ethereal highway known as the starstream—from the remnant of the Betelgeuse supernova to the center of the Milky Way. Who could have predicted the wonders of the starstream, or the perils it would unleash—including the Throgs, shadowy beings of n-space that seem to understand only death and destruction? But life goes on, dangers or no, and colonists pour down the starstream seeking new worlds. Aboard starship Charity are many such colonists, including one Claudi Melnik, a child of uncommon talents—and an AI named Jeaves, with purposes of his own. When the unthinkable occurs, Claudi must face alone the challenge of the Throgs. And no one, not even Jeaves, could have predicted the final confrontation—or imagined where unexpected allies would be found.

“A daring journey across the gulf between human and alien, to the heart of consciousness itself, and sequel to the bestselling From a Changeling Star.

I’m not telling you the price, but it’s way less than a scoop of ice cream at the theater!

We now return to our regularly scheduled nonsense.

 

Nebula Winners 2017!

Congratulations to all the winners of the Nebula, Bradbury, and Norton Awards this year! The Nebulas are the annual award of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), and the award trophy is a gorgeous block of Lucite with embedded planets and things, each one unique. Consider that list, linked above, to be another recommended reading list.

The winning novel was All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders, and I loved it. A blend of fantasy and science fiction, it was engaging and compelling, and the characters were achingly real. Heartily recommended.  I also loved one that didn’t win: The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin. (I “read” both of these via their wonderful audiobooks, really great narrations.)

Winning the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF/F was Arabella of Mars, a lively sort of steam-punk story by David D. Levine. David is one of my Book View Café colleagues, and I offer him a special, collegial fist-bump of congratulations!

Finally, and if you think I’m saving the best for last, you’re right: The recipient of SFWA’s Grand Master award, and about time, is my wonderful friend—everyone’s friend—fantasy and children’s book writer Jane Yolen! It’s a richly deserved award, and I especially liked her words of wisdom to writers: “Just write the damn book!”

Do read the list for the rest of the winners and worthy nominees!

Time for Some Fine Reading (1)

cover for The SteerswomanI don’t recommend good books as often as I should. But there’s no time like the present. Between my regular reading and my reading for the annual Nebula Awards, plus the audiobooks I listen to while walking Captain Jack, I’ve read some really good stuff lately.

Let’s start with Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerwoman series. This isn’t new, but if you haven’t read it, you should, and then it will become new and wonderful to you. There are four volumes so far, and she’s working on the fifth.

The first is The Steerswoman. The story is set in an apparent fantasy world in which there are wizards and regular folk and Outskirters… and steerswomen. The steerswomen are itinerant gatherers of information; they seek and record knowledge of all sorts. They are honored and a little bit feared. Sort of like action-adventure librarians. Rowan is one such steerswoman, and her quest is for knowledge about a most unusual kind of stone. She’s smart and savvy and good with a sword when she needs to be. So is her new-found friend Bel, an Outskirter.

As the narrative winds on through Rowan’s adventures, you gradually begin to understand that what seems to be fantasy might be something else altogether.

Terrific writing, characters worthy of your care, a world of familiarity and strangeness: It’s all here, and well worth your time.

I’ve known Rosemary as a colleague and friend for many years, but it took me until this year to read these books—despite my best intentions, and rave reviews from both my wife and my brother. Don’t you make the same mistake.

Here are the first two, in the Kindle store. You can also get them at Nook, iBooks, etc. These are her own reissues; they were originally published by Del Rey.

Probing Time!

A colonoscopy without sedation? Not so bad, reports this reporter. Somewhat uncomfortable, yes. But it was pretty interesting to watch on the monitor. And leaving with a clear head? And being able to enjoy a cold one (of whatever kind) later that evening, and not feeling like you’re losing a whole additional day? Yeah, that seems like a good trade-off to me. I’ll probably do the same next time.

Which, sorry to say, will be in just three years. Oh well. I’m healthy.

And now, where’s that pizza?

From the movie Paul:

Real Sub vs Movie Sub

I’ve always been fascinated by submarines and all things underwater. Lately I’ve been reading a book called The Ice Diaries, by William R. Anderson & Don Keith. Anderson was captain of the world’s first nuclear submarine, Nautilus, when it completed the first trans-arctic voyage from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, straight across the North Pole under the polar ice cap. That was in the summer of 1958. Captain Anderson tells a fascinating story of the work—and the setbacks—that went into this super top-secret mission. They sailed by special order of President Eisenhower, at a time when America was still reeling from the Soviet Union’s firsts in space and badly wanted a first of its own. (For you young’uns, this was during the Cold War, and these things mattered.)

Much of the passage was tricky to execute, because of the boat’s being sandwiched between shallow bottoms and down-plunging ridges and keels of overhead ice. Both posed a hazard to the boat, which was vulnerable to damage, especially to her periscopes and sail. It had not been built with this mission in mind, and her first forays under the ice cap had resulted in bent periscopes and a bashed-in sail. Little was known about these waters, inertial navigation was difficult close to magnetic north, and instrumentation for scanning overhead obstacles was still in its infancy. It was an impressive achievement! Here, from the book, is Nautilus returning to visit New York City.

That got me thinking about an old movie called Ice Station Zebra, from 1968, with Rock Hudson as skipper of a nuclear sub called upon to go under the polar ice. (In this case, they were to deliver some important people carrying guns to an outpost far up in the arctic.) Turns out I have a copy (I collect movies, probably more than I should), and I started watching it to see how the fictional sub sized up against the real one. The answer, to my surprise, is it sized up pretty well!

The sub in the movie looks a lot like the Nautilus, actually. (That’s a snapshot from the movie, above.) The scenes in the control room felt more realistic to me than I expected—not that I would know—and some of the instruments they showed for scanning the ice looked just like what Captain Anderson described in his book, including a monitor showing TV images from the sail. I’m going to guess that these exterior underwater shots of the sub showed it closer to dangerous ice than the real people would have liked to go, but hey, it’s a movie. As a film, it’s just so-so, but as a depiction of what that voyage might have looked like, I give it a thumbs-up!

I should ask my niece’s husband Steve about it sometime. He’s a real-life sub captain. I wonder if he ever went under the ice.

By the way, you can go aboard the real Nautilus at the Submarine Museum in Groton, CT. I’ve been; it’s very cool.

Middle Eastern Adventures (Vicarious)

Daughter Lexi has returned after nearly a month racking up countries on her passport. She flew in from Qatar, which she got to from Egypt, via Greece, and before that Israel, via Turkey, via Algeria, via Italy! Did I miss any? The amazing thing is that she met up and stayed with friends, or friends of friends, in almost all those locations. How is that possible? She saw the Vatican, visited mosques, celebrated Easter in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and visited a family outside of Bethlehem. We were following her progress on Google Maps/Earth at one point, and I was amused to see “Manger Street” running through Bethlehem. I wonder how many “Genuine, Original, Tested and Approved by Baby Jesus Mangers” there are.

This kid builds more bridges than the WPA. I am in awe. I am also deeply relieved to see her back home.

Here are a few pix she shared with us:

Antalya, TurkeyAntalya, Turkey

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Lexi in Jerusalem

Parthenon, Greece (but you knew that)

Pyramids, Egypt (you knew that, too, right?)

March for Science, Boston

The Boston branch of the March for Science drew a gratifyingly large and diverse crowd to Boston Common. I decided it was time to get out there and put my feet where my mouth is (not in my mouth; you know what I mean), and I’m glad I did. Here are some pictures to tell the story.

 

 

 

I don’t know who any of these people are, just that they cared enough to come out in support of science, clear thinking, and the welfare of our planet.

Happy Earth Day!

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