Etsy Sale – $10 Off Book Orders

Chaos Chronicles set

Etsy is running a special, starting now, for two days only: $10 off any order $40 and over. Use the code YES10. This applies to any Etsy order. That means it applies to any of my autographed print books on Etsy, and Etsy is eating the $10! Haven’t you been thinking, The holidays will be here before you know it, and what better gift than autographed science fiction? You know you have. Here are a few possibilities, any of them personalized upon request:

  • Complete set of autographed Star Rigger Books
  • Complete set of The Chaos Chronicles (to date)
  • Set of first-edition Tor hardcovers of the first four Chaos novels
  • Signed hardcovers of The Reefs of Time and Crucible of Time
  • À la carte selection of titles such as Eternity’s End, The Infinity Link (first edition), the Starstream novels, and Battlestar Galactica. I even have a grab-bag treasury of original mass-market paperback editions.

The possibilities are endless! Help me empty my basement shelves!

One catch: the sale is available only to customers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. Free shipping in the U.S. Extra outside the U.S.

Through Wednesday Oct. 11.

Bikes in the Electric Era

I have a new e-bike! This is quite a change from my beloved Bacchetta recumbent, which has been my pedaler of choice for a number of years now. I acquired the recumbent as a solution to the backache that upright bikes seemed to inflict on me, and it’s been great. Here’s the recumbent…

But that was a different era, before I came down with this pesky pulmonary fibrosis, which makes me get short of breath before I can go a city block, and necessitates an O2 tank or portable concentrator on my back. But perhaps, I thought, I’ll do better with a bike with an electric motor, but which will still let me pedal as I am able or inclined to. And perhaps they’ve developed better saddles (seats) for bikes since the last time I bought an upright bike, forty or fifty years ago. Here’s the one I got…

It’s a Biria Electric Easy Boarding bike, very easy to step into. It has a powerful motor on the front wheel hub, and a good-sized removable battery under the luggage rack. It’s a Class 2, which I now know means that it gives you a boost automatically when it senses torque in the pedals, and it also has a throttle, which gives you an extra boost when you want it. You can just drive it on electric, if you’re tired. But in the auto-boost mode, it helps you while encouraging you to do some pedaling. It’s not quite a fly-cycle, but it does go zooom when you ask it to, up to 20 mph. I like it!

As I feared, though, the saddle that came with it was a butt-killer. And others available in the bike shop were little better. But spend enough time on Amazon, and you’ll find options. I tried two, both described as good for folks of an, er, older generation, or folks whose backs hurt on regular seats. (It seems there are a lot of people who fit this description.) This is the throne I settled on, called the Giddy-Up. Contoured memory-foam seat, much better than the stock seat. Red light on the back, powered by a rechargeable battery. They give you a 12-inch USB cable to recharge it. (Um…?) Well, the light doesn’t matter to me, because it’s blocked by the bike’s battery case anyway. And the bike has its own head and tail lights.

Here’s proof (sort of) that I rode it the seven miles to Lexington today. I cannot claim that it was butt-pain-free. I probably need to build up some tolerance, and maybe make further adjustments. I’ll let you know.

A New Look for The Infinity Link

The Infinity Link was my first BIG book, and by big, I mean big in size, as well as ambition and scope. It was my first hardcover, in a handsome edition from Bluejay Books in 1984, and reprinted in mass market paperback by Tor a year later. Both editions featured a gorgeous wraparound cover painting by David Mattingly, and that same cover, thanks to the generosity of the artist, has been gracing my Starstream Publications ebook edition since 2015. I still love it—I have a huge, framed poster of the Tor paperback rendering. The novel itself is one that I’m still very proud to have written. Here’s the cover blurb:

Mysterious travelers…impossible love…

The year is 2034, and at the Sandaran Research Center, a young woman named Mozy participates in a cyberlink experiment via tachyon beam. So intimate is the connection that she falls hopelessly in love with her distant partner, David Kadin, a man she has met only through the link. Upon learning that the project is to be terminated—and wanting desperately to fulfill her dreams—Mozy makes a daring decision.

Her choice catapults her into a flight of astounding discovery—one that puts her squarely in the path of a potential war, communication with the whales of Earth, and secret first contact with visitors from the stars. Are the aliens enemies or friends? No one knows, and now it may fall to this young woman alone to discover the truth. Caught in a telepathic link with the Talenki voyagers, Mozy’s personal odyssey becomes entwined with the fate of all of Humanity.

Combining visionary speculation with passionate human characters, The Infinity Link is an epic work of transcendent science fiction and an exploration into the very nature of humanity. From the Nebula-nominated author of Eternity’s End and recipient of the Frank Herbert Lifetime Achievement Award for science fiction writing.

Times change, and the original cover now seems of a different era. So as I prepared the book for its first new print edition in many years, I decided it was time for a new cover. My designer (Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff) and I worked long and hard on it, to get the look that I wanted. And here it is!

That’s the look of the ebook edition, as well as the trade paperback newly available on Amazon, and soon to be available everywhere. The images are by Kran Kanthawong and Branislav Ostojic via Dreamstime; Maya combined and merged and tweaked and created the type layout. The print version gave us fits, because it turned out to be really hard to get the vibrancy of that blue rendered in the Amazon KDP print-on-demand process. We never fully succeeded. The print edition looks good, I think, but it doesn’t jump off the paper in quite the same way the ebook jumps out of the glowing screen.

For those who are fond of the older version, copies of the original, first-edition hardcover are still available—autographed—through my Etsy shop. (A great gift idea for the upcoming holidays?)

Happy Anniversary!

posted in: personal news 1

Jeff and Allysen celebrate 37 years of marriage

Yesterday was our 37th anniversary, and we celebrated with a lovely dinner at the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille, right on the Boston waterfront. Great meal, great setting, and wonderful to celebrate 37 fantastic years together. I was startled to realize that I was 37 when we got married, so I have spent exactly half my life together with Allysen. Amazing! Here we are, mugging for the camera.

New Sale on Audiobooks!

The Infinite Sea audiobook cover

Can we talk books for a minute? Chirpbooks is currently featuring The Infinite Sea in audiobook, price knocked down from $14.99 to a mere $.99. Can you even buy a pack of gum for that little? I don’t know. I do know that this is a great chance to pick up a few of my audiobooks for a great price.

Several other books in The Chaos Chronicles are also on sale for a limited time, including the series starter, Neptune Crossing. Click the link and you’ll see them all! Insanely good narration by Stefan Rudnicki. If you jump now, you can get it before the promotional email goes out! That ought to be worth something.

If you prefer Barnes & Noble or Spotify, several of them are on sale there, too. Prices may vary.

But they won’t last forever!

My New Theremin

posted in: music, personal news, quirky 1

The other day, I turned 47—or maybe it was 74—I have selective dyslexia around this question. My loving family gave me something I’ve always wanted: a theremin! So I can make sounds like in Forbidden Planet (although apparently that movie, to my amazement, did not actually have theremin music). Well, maybe like The Day the Earth Stood Still. (Here’s a studio session with the theremin.) Or maybe I’ll even learn to make music. My wife never goes halfway on this sort of thing, so she researched and researched until she found the best theremin for a beginner, top quality, of course. This is a Moog Theremini, nicely portable and with all kinds of audio features, from the makers of the original Moog Synthesizer.

I don’t know how to play it yet. I mean, I can make spooky sounds, which is very cool. For now, I’ll promise to post a video in the future when I can do something interesting. Maybe an orchestral piece, like Once Upon a Time in the West.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a little Pink Floyd on theremin.

K-space for First-Time Travelers

Extremely intricate jigsaw puzzle that Allysen put together. Also, my trip logo.
This is k-space: Evocative music accompanies a twilight journey through landscapes of the mind… floating on a long voyage downstream through canyons, under towering cliffs, over rises of molten rock, through the depths of the sea and the starscapes of space. Faces loom and turn away or dissolve; some are familiar, and some are not. Some are reminiscent of the great statues of the kings overlooking the River Anduin in Middle Earth; some are weird aliens; some are family members. Soon the music gives way to another kind of song, the songs of blue and humpback whales. Spirit guides for the journey? More and more it has seemed that way. They are never seen but only heard, and sometimes their watery sounds give rise to the most unwatery of images.

The images are not the DayGlo posters of psychedelic space as I had imagined it, but vastly more subdued. I’m not even sure they can be called visions I have seen so much as images of the mind. Still, with practice, they have grown steadily more real. They range from near-photographic images of my childhood to SF art landscapes to Rorschach patterns and works of abstract expressionism.

This is not the k-space of interstellar travel, as described in my novel From a Changeling Star. Rather, it is the k-space of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, or KAP. The home base: a couch, sometimes at my therapist’s office but usually at home, complete with blindfolds over my eyes, McDuff the dog (fellow traveler!) at my feet, a carefully curated playlist, and my watcher/transcriber seated nearby, taking down my thoughts and observations. The medium of interdimensional travel: prescribed ketamine, in the form of dissolvable lozenges. The goal: to acquire glimpses into the black box of my subconscious.

I’ve been doing this on and off for several months now—but for the last six weeks or so, almost weekly. Afterward, I write it up, for my own recall as well as for discussion with my therapist.

Ketamine (long used as an anesthetic) has seen growing use lately as a useful adjunct to psychotherapy, most notably in the treatment of depression. A family member had found it extremely useful in this regard, prior to my giving it a try as a treatment for creative block. My doses are produced by a local compounding pharmacy. I had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get medical clearance, in view of my pulmonary fibrosis. It does not seem to cause any issues.

It’s been a fascinating experience, although the first couple of sessions were disappointing, with little seeming to happen, either during or following. But gradually, perhaps because I was learning to relax into the experience, I began to see and hear more, and each session offered something different. Verbal prompts sometimes kick the experience in useful directions. The first handful of times, I was basically along for the ride, not saying much of anything, just trying to absorb whatever the journey had to offer. I was seeing images in multiplex, as though in several floating video windows. After a while, I thought, Why can’t I see this in full-screen? No sooner had I thought the wish than the image opened up to full Omnimax.

Most recently, I went interactive, talking about everything I saw, and even engaging in dialogue with some of the sensations. “What’s that, whales? Are you confused? Me, too. I need to learn your vocabulary…” Along with the interaction came an increase in emotional connection to what was previously a mostly intellectual observation. Connection is, I think, the key word for what I felt. I was teasing loose threads of emotion. I came out of that journey feeling energized and hopeful.

I said earlier that the goal of this was to acquire glimpses into the black box of my subconscious, with the ultimate goal to release blocked creativity. Am I doing that? I hope so. I’m at least shooting a current through that stubborn box.

On coming out at the end of one sojourn, I lifted the blindfolds to see a bristly looking alien creature peering at me from the foot of the sofa. I took a photo, but the wily creature manipulated the image to look like a Terran dog!

Reader’s Choice Award for The Reefs of Time

I just received word that The Reefs of Time was awarded a silver medal in the Reader’s Choice Awards from Connections eMagazine! Woot! You can read the magazine here. And while you’re at it, look to see who else got noticed. Connections is a free magazine devoted to authors and books of all kinds, with interviews and reviews, etc.

Also, here’s the page with their SF/F awards. How were they chosen? I don’t know! Huzzah!

A Modest Retreat

I am on Cape Cod in the Mothership, on my first writing retreat of the year. I’m just going to be here a couple of days, because of other things I need to be home for. But it’s a start. Last night, the rains came. It started literally as I was arriving and getting set up at the campsite. Then it rained, and rained, and rained, right through the night. I got up this morning feeling pretty dank. Still, it felt good to be here. By the time I had a late breakfast ready, the sun was out, and I sat by the open door, taking it in. One thing I discovered is that it is quite challenging to do my morning exercises inside the Mothership; it was too wet to do them outside. Not quite enough room to swing and stretch and get down to do pushups. I came close to giving up, but in the end, I managed, with only a couple of scrapes and bangs on the head marking the limits of available space.

By coincidence, a couple of my brother and sister-in-law’s friends from the University of Miami are vacationing right here in the same town where I’m camped out. So we got together for dinner, which was delightful. As we waited for a table at a restaurant in Harwich, we saw this rainbow over the harbor. The colors were more vivid than I think I have ever seen in a rainbow, and I believe it’s also the first time I’ve seen a rainbow arc all the way from horizon to horizon, with a second partial arc thrown in for good measure. A good omen, I hope!

F&SF, Best of the Year (German 1981)

I’ve found a lot of things I wasn’t looking for, going through my office closet and filing cabinets. Foreign editions I’d forgotten about, or thought I’d lost, for example. One such was a single copy of this Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Best of the Year (German translation edition, published in 1981). Why did I even have this? I opened to the table of contents.

Right there at the top was my story, “Seastate Zero.” I had completely forgotten about this. It’s the only story of mine ever selected for a “best of the year” collection, and it was in German, and I’d forgotten about it. Holy cow, the memory is a tricksy beast. I can’t read it, of course, it being in German (and despite my allegedly having studied German as an undergraduate). Anyway, congratulations, self! Good job! Take a break!

The story was translated from the January 1978 U.S. edition of F&SF! Here’s what that issue looked like…

“Seastate Zero” is an underwater tale, an environmental warning of the hazards of ocean oil operations. Actually, now that I think about it, it’s a pretty credible foreshadowing of the Deep Water Horizons oil rig disaster of 2010. If you’d like to read the story in English, it’s included in my ebook story collection, Reality and Other Fictions, and also in the Audible edition of the same book.



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