Out with 2022, in with 2023

posted in: year end wrap-up 1

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Happy Tenth Day of Christmas! Happy New Year!

Here at the Star Rigger Ranch, we celebrated Christmas with family and good friends and good food, and celebrated the new year by completely failing to notice midnight come and go. The homemade eggnog tasted good, though, and we finished Season 3 of Jack Ryan, which give or take a few wobbles in the final episode was amazingly good throughout.

I am very happy to say good riddance to 2022, and I hope the screen door hit it in the ass on its way out. Welcome 2023! Try to do better, please.

2022

Marked at the beginning by some significant challenges for some family members. (Weathered and largely overcome, thank God.) Colored throughout by continued creative block for the guy trying to finish his book series. (To the point that I have sought out professional help in rooting out the cause of the block.) Brought low by the dreadful news from the Ukraine, under assault by the murderous Putin. Smacked upside the head by my diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis, which continues to affect our lives on a daily basis. (I will write more about this another time, but suffice it for now that I seem pretty stable since bringing supplemental oxygen into my life back in August.) We lost Captain Jack, our border collie mix, gone from our lives since October. I do miss him. And on a more minor but certainly aggravating note, I am still awaiting the return of my laptop and tablet, lost at LAX in December, identified in lost-and-found inventory, and claimed, but not yet acknowledged.

On the plus side, there were some good things to remember. A great family reunion in June. A couple of wonderful trips to Tanglewood during the summer. A memorable family Thanksgiving. A trip to L.A. that gave us quality time with both family and friends whom we had not seen in too long. A low-key but very enjoyable Christmas season, as noted above. Also, I got new print editions finished and released into the wild of four of my earlier books. Yay. There are probably other things I’m forgetting.

2023

What will you bring us, 2023? New hope and new treatments for this disease that’s trying to kill me? (Not if I get you first, little frakker. We have not yet begun to fight.) Peace for Ukraine? Politically in the U.S., who knows? Another dysfunctional Congress? Or will the people who actually care about the good of the country find a way to some kind of common ground? There are hopeful signs, at least on the state level.

Did I mention that we are planning to move, later this year? Yep. Twelve feet, straight down. We are planning to trade apartments in our two-family house with daughter and her husband. We’ll be closer to the ground (not so many stairs), but will have a lot less room. This is a serious challenge! We are already working on the process of downsizing: culling the books and media, getting rid of years of accumulated sediment, as well as distributing ancestral belongings to other members of (Allysen’s) family. I have begun the painful but necessary task of seriously pruning my SF library. Man, that hurts. But it needs to be done. For the move, but also so that we don’t saddle our children with as much stuff to sort through and dispose of as we are having to deal with from the generations before us. It promises to be a long slog. Target date, end of June. Updates to come.

Happy New Year, everyone! What are your hopes for the coming year?

Captain Jack finding strength at the end for a last look around his territory.

 

Star Rigger Autographed Set

In keeping with the spirit of giving great gifts to the ones you love*, I’ve just added a new item to my Etsy store: a complete autographed set of all six books in the Star Rigger Universe, in snazzy new trade paperback editions from my imprint Starstream Publications! Need I say, this would be a terrific gift for the holidays for anyone who loves science fiction in handsome paper editions. Also, I would love to sell some of them. (Seriously, though, I do enjoy the contact with appreciative readers when they ask for autographed copies. The income is definitely secondary in the autographed book business. )

Here’s what’s in the set:

Panglor
Dragons in the Stars
Dragon Rigger
Star Rigger’s Way
Eternity’s End
Seas of Ernathe

That listing is in the order of the internal chronology of the stories in the Star Rigger universe— quite different from the order in which I wrote them. In fact, the last shall be first, if you look at them in order of composition. Seas of Ernathe was my first novel, and Star Rigger’s Way my second.

If you already have all the Star Rigger books you want, there are lots of other choices in my store, with more being added daily (depending on how you define daily). Chaos and more!

*This works even if the one you love is yourself!

Great Trip, Except…

posted in: airplanes, travel 1

Except for the part where I lost my laptop at the TSA checkpoint at LAX and didn’t realize it until we were already in the air, bound for Boston. Yeah, that part sucked. My laptop and my tablet were separated from me along with all my other stuff during the course of a manual pat-down, because of the portable oxygen concentrator on my back. After all the distraction of the thorough searching, I failed to realize that my devices never got put back into my computer bag. I’ve filed a claim and now can only wait. It’s in the hands of God and the LA Airport Police, who process (they say) 5-7000 lost items every month. Fortunately, everything important on it is backed up to Dropbox.

Aside from that, we had a great time. Besides visiting with family, we were graced with good friends, good dogs, good food, and good museums. I wish I’d thought to take a picture of that red Focker Triplane at the Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport! Well, here’s a 1959 attempt at a flying car, the Trautmann RoadAir…

Go West, Old Man!

posted in: family, trains, travel 0

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!

New Print Editions: a Twofer!

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.

Whew. I’m tired.

 

Trials and Tribs of New Print Editions

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.

NOT a Black Friday Sale!!

The Reefs of Time by Jeffrey A. CarverBecause 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?

 

Greg Bear (1951-2022)

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.

A Changeling Star Burns Free…

posted in: BookBub, specials 2

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, by Jeffrey A. Carver

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.

Kindle | Nook | Apple | Kobo | the Goog

 

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