Zooming Through the Nebulas

Nebula Awards logo

I’ve been attending this year’s Nebula Conference this weekend—live, via Zoom. Were it not for the coronavirus, I would be attending it in Los Angeles. Instead, some hundreds of sf and fantasy writers are gathered from their homes all over the globe, attending interesting panels, chatting, attending a dance party hosted by John Scalzi, and—just a little while ago—watching on YouTube the awarding of the annual Nebula, Norton, and Bradbury Awards. It’s been surprisingly rewarding, and the technical folk of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), volunteers all, have done an amazing job of putting on a conference in virtual space! (I was surprised to see my own name in the credits at the end, as chair of rules committee. That’s true, but trust me, all the credit for running this show goes to others.)

Added bonus: We even gathered in the virtual grand ballroom to watch the hugely successful SpaceX Dragon launch, to thunderous applause. Panels continue tomorrow. Great conference, cheapest room rates ever.

Congratulations to all of the award-winners:

Novel
✬ A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)

Novella
✬ This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga; Jo Fletcher)

Novelette
✬ Carpe Glitter, Cat Rambo (Meerkat)

Short Story
✬ “Give the Family My Love”, A.T. Greenblatt (Clarkesworld Magazine 2/19)

Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
✬ Good Omens: “Hard Times”, Neil Gaiman (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios)

Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
✬ Riverland, Fran Wilde (Amulet)

Best Game Writing
✬ The Outer Worlds, Leonard Boyarsky, Kate Dollarhyde, Paul Kirsch, Chris L’Etoile, Daniel McPhee, Carrie Patel, Nitai Poddar, Marc Soskin, Megan Starks (Obsidian Entertainment)

Additional awards and honors presented that evening included the SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, presented to Lois McMaster Bujold, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, presented to both John Picacio and David Gaughran, and the Kevin J. O’Donnell, Jr., Service to SFWA Award, presented to Julia Rios*.

*Before she became famous, Julia was one of our star students at the Ultimate SF Writing Workshop. Girl has gone places.

Neptune Crossing Completes the Set!

Neptune Crossing - paperback

With this brand-new print edition of Neptune Crossing, the complete set of The Chaos Chronicles (to date) is available in matched format and design. The previous edition was in a 6×9 inch trim size, while for the rest of the series, I chose 5.5×8.5 inch trim. I chose the smaller size because it feels better to hold in the hand (according to my crack test team), is easier to slip into a bag or backpack, and (I felt) looks a little more professional.

Choosing a trim size is a trade-off, because the cost of printing is based on the number of pages, not on the size of the pages. So a smaller trim size means more pages, and therefore higher cost to print, and naturally, higher sticker price. But the difference was only a dollar or two per book, and I decided it was worth it.

But that’s not the only change. The interior is completely reset, using a font called Merriweather for the main text, which I first used with The Reefs of Time. I find it attractive and readable, and also fairly compact, which helps to minimize the page count in my long tales.

On top of that, my crack cover designer, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, redid the titles and byline with a beveled look suggestive of embossed designs, used by most publishers on books they really want to sell. And I’ll admit it! I really want the books to sell! (But you knew that, right?)

Anyway, I’m pleased, and I hope you are, too. I’ve been noodling over the question of how I might sell autographed complete sets online, which I would like to do. (Without the administrative headache of sales tax across different states, etc.) Anyone out there have a good idea?

Neptune Crossing in paperback: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

 

Patching Concrete: My Favorite Thing!

Not. My basement wall is happier now, but I’m tired. It all started years ago with parts of our basement being a little on the damp side, which we’d been ignoring because there was so much stuff in our basement, we couldn’t even see the dampish parts.

That changed when Allysen’s mom had to move to a place with a higher level of care than us, and we faced emptying the first floor apartment of our two-family house, so our daughter Lexi and her husband Connor could move in for a while. Where was all that furniture, art, books, etc., going to go? Down to the basement, where else? In a way, it’s Allysen’s mom’s fault, for having high standards in art and furniture pieces acquired in a lifetime spent living around the world. Pieces valuable not for their dollar value, but for the cultural meaning and the artistry of craftsmen from Latin America, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. Stuff you want to keep or at least find a good home for.

Cue the demolition squad, to get rid of our accumulated crap, and even some good things we just didn’t need anymore. We had an amazing giveaway assortment in front of our house for the last week, and a lot of items found new homes. Those that didn’t left the hard way—ceerrrunch!—in the trash truck. Some good electrical appliances left that way, sadly, thanks to the vandal who came along and cut off the cords on everything we put out that had a cord. Why?

Time for more shelves! Ever more shelves! But wait—what about those water-stained cracks where the floor meets the foundation? And the crumbling mortar? And—oh look, we’re having unusual torrents of rain this evening—and is that water running into the corner? Yikes!

Cue the chisel, Quikrete, and trowel. Follow up with sore knees, aching back, and giant blister on big toe from crouching for hours in bad shoes. Finish with an adjustment to the downspout outside, in hopes of redirecting the next big downpour.

I’m starting to feel as if I’m putting myself in the running to be Heinlein’s “competent man.” Not on purpose!

Now, about those shelves….

Mercury and Venus Dance in the Evening Sky

posted in: astronomy 1

Remember when Venus was a planet of lush jungles and radiant oceans, and Mercury was a tidally locked world of extremes, its dayside treacherous with molten-metal pools and its nightside a frigid locker of exotic ices? And who knew what sorts of intelligent lifeforms existed to pose a communications challenge?

Such were the imagined worlds during the Golden Era of science fiction, the stories written in the 40s and 50s and early 60s, the stories I imprinted on as an avid young reader. Those visions may have been shattered by the real worlds discovered by space probes of the late Twentieth Century. But my mind was full of those images over the last couple of evenings as I peered through my binoculars at Venus and Mercury—seemingly close enough to reach out and tango—in the western twilight sky.

Oh, to have those Golden-era worlds back. The possibilities!

I tried to take a picture with my phone camera, but it was hopeless. Here are two NASA images, Mercury on the left and Venus on the right (not to scale). These are the worlds I saw, though the vision I saw was quite different!

Mercury and Venus - NASA galleries

Summon the Heroes!

Summon the Heroes - Boston Pops at Home

Uplifting music for strange times—that’s what we need! Here’s the Boston Pops Orchestra performing a special edition of “Summon the Heroes,” by the incredible John Williams, in honor of first responders everywhere. Scroll back to see the intro by Keith Lockhart and John Williams himself. Otherwise, put up your feet and watch 78 members of the orchestra, all performing from their own homes. Read the whole story here.

 

 

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Author Zoom Chat – Saturday May 9, 2:00 EDT

posted in: appearances, events 2

What was originally intended as a bookstore event at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, MA, has morphed into an online event, so you can attend no matter where you live! Even the ISS, if their wifi is up to the task. I’m not saying that the astronauts will attend, but I’ll bet they could if they wanted to.

I’ll be zooming in with two of my friends and colleagues in the science fiction trade: Steven Popkes and L.J. (Lisa) Cohen, for a conversation about the writing life, our newest books, and what about our writing life led us to write our newest books. Questions from the legume gallery will be encouraged.

For more information, and a teaser, visit the Author Spotlight thingy at https://anniesbookstopworcester.blog/2020/05/01/author-spotlight-friday-jeffrey-a-carver/.

Oh, also visit the signup page at https://www.facebook.com/events/689350495158992/ because you have to RSVP to get the login information.

Be the first on your block, wherever your block may be!

Sign of the Times in Middle Earth

posted in: Coronavirus, humor 1
from TheHardTimes.net

Middle Earth Temporarily Bans Fellowships of More Than Five…

MINAS TIRITH — The White Council of the Wise issued a decree today that all fellowships in Middle Earth shall be no larger than five companions for at least the next quarter-age to help slow the spread of the Samund-01 curse that has already killed over 30,000 elves, dwarves, and men.

“The following measures are to be implemented with great haste across Middle Earth,” said Council leader Saruman the White via palantir. “Taverns and mines are to cease operations immediately, and all festivals and Entmoots are to be postponed. When you do venture, maintain a social distance of two longswords. Only essential quests are to be embarked upon.” . . .

Read the whole story here, on The Hard Times. The Lord Denethor sounds like someone we know…

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