Go, Vax!

I’ve landed a Covid vaccine appointment. I’ve been eligible for a couple of weeks now, age-wise, but so have a million other Massachusetts denizens, all angling for the 50k or so doses available each week. Our high-tech state did a remarkably feeble job of creating an online registration service, so there was no way to just queue up in an orderly fashion. The game was to find out when and where appointments were opening up, and to jump online that very instant to see if you could score one before your, um, neighbor.

Making the game a little easier were a couple of unofficial sites, created by thoughtful coders in their spare time, that scour the various official sites, looking for openings and then posting them in one place. You still had to play, Ready, jump!, but at least it gave you half a chance. I happened to check one at 4 a.m., as I was heading to bed—and discovered that CVS in my area had acquired some vaccine! I got on their site and refreshed the scheduling page off and on through the night. Finally, at 8:08 a.m. after a largely sleepless night, I staggered to my computer and —to my wonder—scored an appointment at a nearby CVS, for this coming weekend. And a second in three weeks. End zone dance!

Postscript: I have to acknowledge some mixed feelings about this, as I am reminded daily by the news that we don’t exactly have equitable distribution of the vaccines. Not enough doses are reaching the lowest-income folk who are being most hurt by the virus. My taking or not taking a slot in a well-off neighborhood would be unlikely to have any effect on that. But still, I am aware that I’m getting something of a privileged advantage. Here’s a tip of the hat to the many volunteers who are stepping up to help folks get appointments who are not able to play the online game themselves!

Story Bundle Going, Going…

posted in: ebooks, specials 0

SFWA Story Bundle - book covers

A friendly reminder: The Expansive Futures Sci-Fi Bundle ends in just three days! Curated by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), it’s a big, honking collection of vetted space opera for almost nothing, and you can support a good cause in the process.

In case you missed it the first time I plugged it, here’s the core of the pitch:

“SFWA is an organization dedicated to promoting and supporting science fiction and fantasy writers in the United States and worldwide. Featuring award-winning authors and fresh new voices, the The Expansive Futures Sci-Fi Bundle is sure to please fans of futuristic sci-fi and space opera.

“This bundle includes the Nebula Award finalist novel Eternity’s End by Jeffrey A. Carver; When You Had Power, the first novel in a new hopepunk series by bestselling author Susan Kaye Quinn; and Starship Hope: Exodus by rising star author T.S. Valmond, among many others. The Expansive Futures bundle will run for three weeks only, so grab this fantastic deal while you can and discover great new writers….”

The photo tells the story.

Every contributing author (including me) gets a bit of the profit when you buy a bundle. But this is really more about getting some great stuff out in front of a new audience. Are you a new audience for any of these writers?

One Dream Wrenched Away, Another Appears

posted in: dreams, Flying 0

I have been waiting for years for my flying car. And for years, I’ve been keeping an eye on the development of the Terrafugia Transition, a flying car being developed practically in my back yard, and test-flown from Hanscom Field, where I learned to fly. Just a few days ago, I read that the Transition had just been granted its airworthiness certificate by the FAA! (The highway certificate was still in the works.) But soon! Soon! It was already approved for sale as an airplane.

And now I read that production in the U.S. has been halted, most of the employees laid off, and further development of the plane is being shifted to China. China! (I had not realized that the company was now owned by a Chinese holding company, Geely, which also owns Volvo and Lotus.) Talk about a gut punch! (Bad news for the employees, too.)

No flying car for now. To assuage my sorrow, I have shifted my dreams to another aspiration. This 80-foot, solar-powered yacht:

I like boats. Almost as much as I like airplanes. And who wouldn’t like this boat, from Silent Yachts of Austria? Solar powered! Why, the savings in fuel alone would probably cover the cost. (In, oh, about a thousand years.) But if we had one of these, we wouldn’t need the van conversion for travel that Allysen keeps talking about. Even she would see the logic in that. Wouldn’t she? Allysen? Sweetie?

 

The Time I Shared a Death Scene with Ian McKellen

No, really. I am not making this up. I once shared a theater stage in London with Ian McKellen (yes, that Ian McKellen) for a wrenching death scene. And me with so much to live for! Allysen died, too. It was tragic. I was reminded of this occasion by a panel I was on recently at Boskone, talking about The Lord of the Rings film.

This all happened long before Ian McKellen was Gandalf. In fact, until that evening, I had never heard of Ian McKellen. I think the year was probably 1986 or 1987, not too long after Allysen and I were married. We were visiting with her parents in London, and they treated us to a one-man show by some fellow named Ian McKellen, a Shakespearean actor of some note, we were told, but you couldn’t prove it by me. I remember almost nothing about the show, except that it was surprisingly good. I think he acted scenes from various Shakespeare plays he had been in. And then…

For a close, he invited members of the audience—anyone who wanted to come down—to join him on stage for one final performance. Allysen was out of her seat before he’d finished the invitation, and I said, “You’re not leaving me behind.” I think about thirty of us joined him on the stage. He gave us very explicit acting directions: We were to stand still and do nothing until his monologue came to a certain phrase (which I no longer remember). This we did, quite ably, I think. (Damn, we were good. It was a fight scene, too.) And when he spoke that phrase, we swung into action…

And fell down, dead. All of us.

To thunderous applause. Mr. (not yet Sir) McKellen thanked us graciously for our service and sent us back to our seats.

Little did I know that I had just shared the stage with Gandalf!

 

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Amazing and Aurealis Magazines Bestow Thumbs-Up!

Here’s some good news: Two small, but highly regarded, SF magazines have published glowing reviews of The Reefs of Time and Crucible of Time.

A little perspective might be in order. One of the hardest things about shifting from traditional publishing to indie is trying to get your books reviewed in traditional review circles—even from publications that have been reviewing you favorably for years. This goes for mainstream press as well as most SF publications. Well, finally some reviews for Reefs and Crucible have come in! Here are some choice bits…

From Amazing Stories:

“There are giant, and brilliant, concepts in these books… If you haven’t read it you’re in for a whale of a ride! I, personally, will have to pick up more of Jeffrey Carver—not just this series—because I’ve become a fan of his world/galaxy-spanning imagination! I highly recommend these books.” —Steve Fahnestalk, Amazing Stories Magazine

And from Australia’s Aurealis Magazine:

“Jeffrey A. Carver’s long-awaited return to The Chaos Chronicles underpins its stunning science fiction and character-driven narrative with a strong theme of ‘coming home’… As narratives intertwine at separate ends of the timescale, Carver’s talent for weaving incredible technology and worldbuilding with meaningful character moments is a standout.

“Each location and the alien race that lives there feels tangible and diverse, with a realism that supports the underpinning themes of being lost, searching for connection and juxtaposing expectations against reality.

“[A] compelling narrative that combines the best of science fiction’s flair with its unique capacity to dissect the human condition. Fans of Carver’s Chaos Chronicles won’t want to miss this latest installment, and new readers will find it an easily-accessible entry to a fascinating, well-told universe.” — Terence MacManus, Aurealis

And finally:

I learned this from a friend, who sent me a screenshot—Locus Magazine apparently listed Sunborn Number One for SF ebooks at Smashwords in December. Not sure what it’s based on—but I’ll take it.

Wheels Down, Mars! Go, Perseverance!

posted in: Mars, NASA, public affairs, space 0

At last, something we can all be proud of! The new rover Perseverance touched down in Jezero Crater on Mars, in another of NASA’s patented hair-raising landing sequences, beautifully illustrated in this short animated video from NASA.

Well done, JP, NASA, and Perseverance! Among the many cool things about this rover are its mini-helicopter, to be used for aerial reconnoitering, and its tools for taking core samples, to be stored in sealed containers for later pickup by a followup mission.

Here’s Perseverance’s first picture, taken by a low-res camera, with its protective cover still on. This came back within minutes of the successful landing. Expect high-res photos soon.

Also soon, the Chinese Mars lander will be attempting that nation’s first landing on the red planet. Let’s hope the two rovers don’t start tossing pebbles at each other!

 

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Presidents Day…and Cowardice in the Congress

posted in: public affairs, Trump 5

Presidents Day is upon us in the U.S., and what a way to celebrate it—by the cowardly betrayal by Senate Republicans (with a few notable exceptions) to hold their seditious and insurrectionist president accountable for actions that took lives and endangered the democratic process. In the face of the most appalling desecrations of truth and decency by their party leader, forty-three Senate Republicans, apparently ruled by fear, abandoned their duty to defend the Constitution. They should all be turned out of office, every single one of them.

First to go should be Mitch McConnell, who—immediately after voting to acquit Trump—declared, “There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” and called his actions “a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.” He further acknowledged that months of Trump’s false claims about the elections set the stage for the event.

But where was this good Senator for all those months when Trump was whining and spinning lies to persuade a shocking fraction of the population that he’d been wronged? What was Mitch McConnell doing? He could have taken steps to at least stem the anti-democratic tide in the Senate. He did not. He could have acknowledged the outcome of the election when it became clear. He did not. He abandoned his responsibility to the republic, and instead, hid in fear of disfavor from the Trump base.

It is often said that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” That assertion has rarely been demonstrated as clearly as by the failure of currently sitting Republican Representatives and Senators to hold their own party’s leader accountable for sedition, insurrection, and wholesale dishonesty.

I know you already know all this. I just felt a need to put exactly where I stand on the record. For Presidents Day. May the coming year prove a good civics lesson for all of us.

StoryGateBundlePunk: Great SF!

SFWA Story Bundle - book covers

Covering all bases, because you never know. Seriously, a new Story Bundle has just been released, and I’m part of it! It’s called the The Expansive Futures Sci-Fi Bundle, and it’s curated and sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). It’s a great way to get a big pile of great new books for almost nothing, and support a good cause in the process. It’s a terrific deal. https://storybundle.com/scifi

I’m going to let Amy Duboff explain it. She’s the one who oversaw the curation of the package:

“Since the early days of science fiction, authors have explored the future of humanity and what other life might be out there among the stars. From cybernetics to spaceships to alien contact, future-focused sci-fi lets us explore complex issues while escaping from everyday life. Eighteen diverse visions of Expansive Futures have been gathered in a special collection curated by SFWA members, now available in a limited-time bundle.

“SFWA is an organization dedicated to promoting and supporting science fiction and fantasy writers in the United States and worldwide. Featuring award-winning authors and fresh new voices, the Expansive Futures StoryBundle is sure to please fans of futuristic sci-fi and space opera.

“This bundle includes the Nebula Award finalist novel Eternity’s End by Jeffrey A. Carver; When You Had Power, the first novel in a new hopepunk series by bestselling author Susan Kaye Quinn; and Starship Hope: Exodus by rising star author T.S. Valmond, among many others. The Expansive Futures bundle will run for three weeks only, so grab this fantastic deal while you can and discover great new writers….” [read more]

The photo gives a quick snapshot of the books in the bundle. If you like futuristic, visionary science fiction, you really owe it to yourself to pick this up.

A New Day! A New Year! A New President!

posted in: public affairs 2

Happy New Year, everyone! For me, the year 2021 started at noon today, when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office. They swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, and unlike another individual who took that oath, I genuinely believe they meant it. I am filled with joy, and I believe history will show that on this day, America began its turn away from the darkness and toward the light.

(Of course, the darkness is still out there. The white supremacists and QAnon and the delusional conspiracy theorists, the liars and the fear-mongers, they are still with us; they have just been stilled for a little while. But it has always been so. If the price of peace is eternal vigilance, then we must continue to pay that price.)

It’s hard to say what stirred me the most: Biden’s call for us to come together in humility rather than self-aggrandizement; the swearing in of Kamala Harris and all the “firsts” she represents; the sight of all those former presidents, each of whom willingly and graciously transferred the power of office to their successor; or the vision of Amanda Gorman, the remarkable young woman who served as inaugural poet. I was even moved by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem, a startling sight that.

While it was sobering and sad to see the nation’s capitol closed down under the watchful eyes of the National Guard, there was a definite poignancy in watching the proceedings move forward in spite of the attempted coup. As President Biden said, our democracy is fragile, but it is also strong, and it prevailed. I pray that it will continue to do so in the days to come.

Fay Palmer (1930-2021)

posted in: family, tributes 6

Allysen’s mom died last Sunday, of Covid-19, at the age of 90. The senior care facility where she lived had managed to stay free of the virus until just a couple of months ago. Then it got in, and it was just a matter of time. Fay tested positive on Tuesday, and Sunday night she was gone. The end was remarkably peaceful, a quiet ebbing away, without apparent discomfort. She (at Allysen’s wise insistence) stayed in a quarantine bedroom in the facility rather than being taken to a hospital, which she would have hated. The staff were great, and so were the hospice people who helped out at the end.

Fay was a remarkable lady, well educated and well traveled. She and Phil, my father-in-law, had roamed the world for decades, finally settling in Ponce, Puerto Rico after his retirement. She was witty and generous and interested in all kinds of things, but especially art and art history. During her “retirement” years, she worked at the excellent art museums in Ponce and San Juan, and her house was full of art gathered from all over the world. She loved her dogs and her kids and her grandkids. She used to introduce me to complete strangers as “the world’s greatest son-in-law,” which was both heart warming and undoubtedly undeserved. She noted when Allysen and I were married that it would be awkward figuring out what I should call her. “Mom” didn’t seem right; even Allysen didn’t call her “Mom.” She finally settled on “Mm” for her and “Mmm” for Phil.

We are all terribly sad to see her go, but we know she didn’t want to hang on, as time robbed her of her faculties. We are grateful that the end was merciful and peaceful. We know she’s glad, too.

Fay, I hope you’re enjoying your reunion with Phil, and all the dogs, and all the others who went before you! God bless you.

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