We are visiting Allysen’s brother Andrew and his family in L.A., as well as some good friends. It’s great to see everyone. The weather is surprisingly chilly in southern California, not all that different from the temps back in Boston. Here are a few scenes—not including the humans we are visiting, because I always forget to take pictures when we’re gathered. Here’s Allysen with the local glowing-eyed canine crew…
Yesterday, Jayce and Allysen and I took the train on a scenic ride up the coast to Santa Barbara, where we strolled on the pier, had some good seafood, tried a wine tasting, and strolled some more while awaiting the train home. A lovely interlude. Here’s the Pacific Surfliner…
And here’s Jayce and Allysen at the beginning of the pier. The view was beautiful, a small city nestled between the hills and the sea.
Amtrak got on my good side on the pleasant ride up, with a friendly conductor who explained everything we needed to know, and a great view of the ocean. Yay, Amtrak!
Amtrak got on my bad side on the ride home, where we were left to scramble to find an open door when we reached our stop at Camarillo. Upon alighting, we found ourselves on the wrong side of a cyclone fence separating the two tracks, and us from our car. The way across was long and climby and very poorly signed. No elevators for the disabled, or for the heavy-breathing gent with the oxygen pack on his back. Bad Amtrak!
The sun is now setting and illuminating a gorgeous cumulus cloud behind three stately palm trees! Lovely. I just tried to take a picture of it to share. Can’t even see the cloud in the photo! Bad camera!
From a Changeling Star. You downloaded the ebook for free. Now you can buy a handsome new trade paperback! I’m really pleased with the way this came out, crazy interior formatting and all. I think it really looks good. From a Changeling Star is live at Amazon, and will appear in other stores before long.
Dragon Rigger. All the weird cover issues went away, and now it’s up for sale, looking just as I’d originally intended. A while back, you may have downloaded the ebook of Dragons in the Stars for free. This is the sequel. Now you can get lovely print editions of both books! Here’s Dragon Rigger, live at Amazon. Shortly in other stores.
These books are two of my personal favorites. I didn’t really plan to have them both come out on the same day, but it was like two racing trains barreling into the station at the same time. Also, I’m sorry to have so many posts in a row focused on book stuff, but that’s just how things have fallen out.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be making a larger selection of books available in autographed editions, through my Etsy shop, Star Rigger Books. This overlaps with some family travel, so it might take a little longer than I’d once hoped. But I do hope to have some new packages up in time for the holidays.
Everyone loves print books on real paper, even ebook readers like me. It’s always been tough to keep older books in print, but it has gotten easier in recent years. Twenty years ago, the only way to bring your backlist back was to get a regular publisher to purchase the rights. But unless you were a big seller, that was a difficult thing to achieve. And these days, forget it. The publishing world has been stood on its head. For most of us poor shmos who never achieved bestseller status, the way to do it now is either to get a small press to do it, or to do it for yourself. And the latter is what I’m doing, via my imprint Starstream Publications.
It’s way more doable than it used to be, thanks to new print-on-demand technologies, which are available through Amazon KDP and the distribution giant Ingram. You do have to start with a good, super-clean manuscript file, and thankfully I have those from creating ebook editions years ago. For the current projects I’m using a program called Vellum, which handles a lot of the difficult typesetting chores automatically. It’s not quite as good as manual typesetting, but on the whole, it works remarkably well, except when you want it to do something it isn’t programmed to do. Then you have to work around its limitations to outsmart it, which is something I’m having to do with the print layout for From a Changeling Star. (In my madness, when I wrote the book, I used all sorts of specialized layout settings to convey different forms of communication and levels of consciousness. These are proving something of a challenge in Vellum, but I think I’ve finally wrestled it to the ground.)
Vellum, by the way, is a Mac-only program, and I’m a PC guy, so to use it I subscribe to a service called Mac in the Cloud, which lets me run Vellum on a virtual machine—i.e., someone else’s Mac. Pretty cool.
Setting the type is only half the battle, of course. Once that’s done, you need the cover. Now, I already have good ebook covers, some with art I commissioned, some with art from the original trade publisher’s editions (properly licensed from the artists), some with stock art. But the art needs a type overlay, and needs proper formatting for the PDF file that ultimately becomes a print-on-demand book. Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, who has been expertly creating my cover layouts for years, is happily creating my new print covers. But sometimes there’s a hitch. Like with Dragon Rigger.
The Dragon Rigger cover, for some reason, has been refusing to cooperate. Maya creates a gorgeous PDF for me, and when I upload it to the Amazon publishing platform, it returns with a muddy mess. We’ve been at this for a week, with Maya trying every trick she can think of to convince the KDP platform to cooperate, but so far no joy. We haven’t given up, but it’s delayed the release of Dragon Rigger in print, which somewhat plays havoc with my intention to make complete autographed sets of the Star Rigger books available for holiday shopping. I may substitute the original Tor edition (I have lots of hardcovers stashed) in place of the Starstream paperback.
Here’s a shot of the cover Maya gave me:
And here’s what I got back from the KDP book previewer, ugh:
Breaking news! Suddenly the Dragon Rigger cover started working on the Amazon publishing platform. No change in what I did, only in how their system processed the file Maya gave me. It would seem they had a problem, and fixed it.
Good news for my plans. I hope to have new print editions of both Dragon Rigger and From a Changeling Star available real soon now.
Because the whole Black Friday thing really bugs me. This is more of a “Have you listened yet and would you like to listen for really cheap?” Yes, another Chirpbooks sale has started (Cheep! Cheep!), and as a result you can get the audiobook of The Reefs of Time for some ridiculously low price, so low I don’t even want to remember what it is. The timing of it was completely up to the Chirpbooks people—just my luck of the draw that it’s right at Thanksgiving time. (In fact, the promotional email is going out on Thanksgiving Day, but the price has already been dropped.)
Most of the other Chaos books are discounted, too, because why not. These are all really good narrations. If you’re not into audiobooks yet, maybe it’s time to give them a try, what?
Or give them to somebody you love. Note, I did not say “gift” them to somebody you love. Because that would bug me even more than calling it a Black Friday sale.
*Footnote. I just checked the link and saw the display page for the book, and right there’s a nice quote that Greg Bear gave me for the book. Damn. That, I think, was the last time we communicated. Why did he have to go so young?
The science fiction world has lost another of its greats with the passing of Greg Bear, at 71, from complications following heart surgery. The author of over 50 novels, Greg was a multiple award winner, not just in the U.S., but overseas, as well. He was president of SFWA for two years. He was also a hell of a nice guy, known throughout the SF community for his kindness and decency and wisdom. More details about his work and life can be found at File770, from which this photo was reproduced.
I didn’t know Greg well, but we interacted from time to time over the years, always positively. Once when I was in Seattle with my wife, I gave him a call to see if he wanted to connect for coffee. “Why don’t you come over for dinner,” was his immediate reply. His wife Astrid, an equally lovely person, served us something delicious, and we enjoyed an evening of conversation.
Those who knew him are going to miss him for his humanity. The whole world will miss his writing.
Sincerest condolences to Astrid and their sons and daughters, and Godspeed to you, Greg, in the journeys to come.
Free for just a few days, that is, with a little help from Bookbub to give away more copies. This, of course, is a transparent effort get people to read a book they might otherwise have overlooked, and maybe go on to read the sequel, Down the Stream of Stars. These are two of my favorite books, and I am working feverishly to prepare new treebook editions to accompany the ebooks.
From a Changeling Star was, I believe, one of the first SF books—maybe the only one—to deal with nanotechnology, cosmic string, and sentient stars, all in one go. Plus, it’s an amnesia story and a love story. In addition, it’s where we first meet the robot Jeaves, who later shows up in the Chaos Chronicles. And it’s the origin story of the starstream, which figures very importantly in The Reefs of Time. Writing it nearly bent my brain, or maybe did bend my brain. It demands more from the reader than probably any other book of mine, but I feel it’s worth the effort.
Here’s a bit of blurb:
“Beneath the roiling surface of Betelgeuse, scientists anxiously await the one man essential to the success of Starmuse, the greatest engineering project in human history. But on Kantano’s World that man, Willard Ruskin, battles invisible agents for control of his life, his physical form, and even his memories. Drawn into a conflict from which not even death will free him, Ruskin must find a way to reach Betelgeuse before his enemies sabotage Starmuse—and humanity’s future among the stars. A harrowing journey from inside the human cell . . . to the mind of a dying star.”
“Running from the micro to the macro and back again, redefining sentience, space-time, and perhaps humanity along the way, From a Changeling Star is a fast-paced puzzler, rich in invention, and Jeffrey A. Carver’s most ambitious book to date.” —Roger Zelazny
“As audacious and imaginative as the best of John Varley, with characters as memorable as those of Sturgeon or Zelazny, and with one of the most powerful endings in science fiction, this book will both hold and reward your attention.” —Spider Robinson, author of The Stardance Trilogy
“Has what only the best science fiction can offer: an almost mystical sense of the wonder and strangeness of this universe and the creatures who inhabit it. If you’re not crying at the end, you’re a robot.” —Richard Bowker, author of Dover Beach
So why are you still here? Grab it now! For free! And look for the print edition—soon!—not quite so free—very smart and handsome, and a great gift for yourself or someone you love.
My second novel, Star Rigger’s Way, has been out of print in paper for many long years. We aims to change that. In fact, we just did. It is now available in a handsome trade paperback from Starstream Publications.
Star Rigger’s Way was the first book of mine to gain much attention (read: sales). Based on a short story, “Alien Persuasion,” which was published in Galaxy Magazine, Star Rigger’s Way was the first book-length exploration of the art and science of starship rigging. That’s a little odd, since my debut book, Seas of Ernathe, was set in the Star Rigger Universe, but at a later time when the art of rigging had been lost; that story was all about rediscovery. Star Rigger’s Way, on the other hand, plunges us right into the experience—with a young pilot, Gev Carlyle, trying to work with a large, catlike alien, Cephean the cynthian, to get them both to safety through a dangerous passage.
Here’s an interior illo by Freff from the story in Galaxy, showing Cephean with his fernlike minions, the riffmar.
The novel is a coming-of-age story for Carlyle, and an alien contact story for the human and cynthian. We see some sights in the galaxy, talk to some drunken riggers in a bar (where we learn there are dragons in space)—and tangle with some interstellar pirates, inadvertently setting up a later novel, Eternity’s End. There’s a bit of romance, as well.
This was the first book of mine to be published, not just in paperback, but as a main selection of the Science Fiction Book Club. Which meant a low-cost hardcover, sent out to SFBC members who either ordered it or forgot to return the little form saying, don’t send it. Either way, it gained me some notice early in my career.
By the way, I plan to make complete, autographed sets of the Star Rigger Books available for holiday shopping. Just as soon as I finish the new edition of Dragon Rigger, which is real close now.
This new edition of Star Rigger’s Way is available at Amazon(affiliate link), and soon through other stores, as well.
Things have been a little quiet on the podcast front, but I recently participated in a good one: “Science to Science Fiction: Jeffrey A. Carver, Edward M. Lerner, Alan Smale, Edward Willett” which is part of the “Writers & Illustrators of the Future Podcast” series. I joined my colleagues listed above, in a discussion of writing, hosted by John Goodwin. Unlike many podcast hosts, John actually reads the work of the people he is hosting. Thumbs up on that one!
The discussion among the five of us was lively and, I thought, interesting. And, I hope, helpful for new or aspiring writers.
My Dell XPS laptop had to go to Dell’s Advanced Repair center in Houston to have the keyboard and fingerprint reader replaced. (Good thing I bought the 4-year all-hazard protection plan.) Naturally, when the tech proposed this, I assumed it would be gone for at least two weeks, which I didn’t think I could stand. But I needed to get it fixed. So I was surprised when the tech said, “No, you’ll have it back in five business days or less, and we pay for FedEx overnight shipping.”
I still put it off, but finally—after moving sensitive financial files off the drive—I boxed it up in the box they sent and took it to Walgreens for FedEx pickup. That was Monday, at 4:30 p.m.
On Tuesday morning, I got an email saying it was at the center and a tech was working on it. On Tuesday evening, I got an email saying the repair was done and it was on its way back to me. That couldn’t be right. Could it?
On Wednesday afternoon, I was taking it out of the box and plugging it in. That’s right, they fixed it—and cleaned it inside and out—and got it back to me… in less than 48 hours! Holy cow.
Not only do I have a new keyboard, but the cooling fan is barely perceptible, because they cleaned it and the heat sink inside, which was probably full of animal fur. Folks, my hat is off to Dell. I know they had problems in the past, but from where I sit in 2022, their service rocks! (Tip o’ the hat to FedEx, as well.)
We are in shock and mourning. Our beloved border-collie mix, Captain Jack, has left us. Just two weeks ago, he was joyfully chasing a younger dog round and round at a friend’s house, totally exhausting us just watching. However, three days ago, he abruptly went into a precipitous decline—not eating, having difficulty walking, and even standing. I realized with a start that he had lost weight, which I hadn’t noticed. Despite long sessions in two different animal hospitals, the cause remains uncertain. But probably it was a return of the cancer that almost took him a year ago. Here he is, enjoying a last review of the property during a brief rally toward the end.
Many of you will remember that he had radical cancer surgery on his jaw a year ago, resulting in a new lease on life, though one with his tongue hanging out for lack of a place to park it. He enjoyed that year, and we are deeply grateful to have enjoyed it with him.
The timing was uncanny. He abruptly showed serious symptoms on the very day Allysen and Jayce were flying back from Puerto Rico. I was at the hospital with him the very hours that they were in a plane coming home. We are all devastated, but grateful that the whole family could be here to say goodbye. A lovely vet named Dr. Johnson, who makes euthanasia house calls, came to our home to ease his way. Many thanks to her, and to Jackie and the other dog walkers, and to our regular vet Dr. Parker, and to Jack’s oncologist Dr. Cronin, and many others who helped make his life the amazing life that it was. I have owned (and said goodbye to) many dogs, but never one about whom so many people have come to me to say, “I love this dog; what a great dog; he was the highlight of my day.” We already miss him terribly.
Still with us is Lady McDuff, aka Duff-Duff, aka Septima, aka Nugget, aka Possum. She was Allysen’s mom’s dog and is now ours, and she has found her own way into our hearts. Here she is with Jack in happier times. No doubt she is mourning in her own way.