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.

2020 Screeches to a Close

A year ago, I posted that I fervently hoped 2020 would be a better year than 2019, which had been personally difficult. That, um, didn’t happen. At least not to the world and the nation. I’m not going to make that mistake again. In fact, I’m not even going to reflect on the obvious about 2020, as we head out to wherever the future takes us. I think I’d rather close with dancing robots and Christmas tree-eating goats.

The latest video from Boston Dynamics. I leave it to the viewer to decide whether it’s enchanting or terrifying. I find it a little of both.

And here, from the Boston Globe, the latest in Christmas tree recycling

BTW, I’m saving my real New Year celebration for January 20, when an actual president is sworn into the White House and a dangerous and incompetent fascist is shown the door, ending at least part of the nightmare. That’s when the new year starts for me.

Sometimes Interviews Are Really Fun!

posted in: interviews 0

Those crazy dudes at SciFi Saturday Night podcast interviewed me again last week. They always start with some zaniness that as far as I can tell has nothing to do with anything—must be something in the New Hampshire water—and then, wham, we’re into talking books. These guys love books! They read your stuff before you come on, and they really want to talk about it. “Why did you do this?” “You really had me going with that…” It’s a lot of fun. This time we talked about my efforts in audiobooks, over the last year. And a bit about the challenges of putting older books back into (paper) print. You can listen to it right here: http://scifisaturdaynight.com/?p=9834

Shortly before that, I was on the Douglas Coleman Show. This was much more of a general audience broadcast. I don’t think he gets a lot of SF writers on his show, so let’s call it carefully calculated subversion. Get that general audience thinking about otherworldly things they might not tend to ponder very much. One slight problem was that I must have been tired. It was a video interview, and I sat there looking sort of like a low-budget cartoon character—you know, the ones where just the mouth moves. I hope I was interesting in spite of that. You can see it here: https://youtu.be/7_LyRzMJHl4

Wonder Woman 1984

posted in: movies 0

We watched the new Wonder Woman on HBOMax last night, and it was a lot of fun, an excellent Boxing Day movie. It didn’t reach the level of greatness of the first film, but it was still quite entertaining—especially if you’re weary of the dark, brooding tone of recent D.C. movies (and for that matter, Marvel, as well). Granted, the script is a little uneven, especially in the first third, but Gal Gadot still has the magic, and great chemistry with Chris Pine. Kristen Wiig is fun, as well. I finished the movie with a smile, if not the stars in my eyes that I left the theater with after the first one. The Easter egg has a nice twist. And because there’s a scene at the end at Christmastime, this can now go on the list of Christmas movies!

Time now to try the new Pixar: Soul.

 

Real December Finally Here

We’re getting our first real snowstorm of the year, as I write this. We’re deep into the night right now, and it looks like maybe 4-6 inches have fallen so far. Maybe it’s time for this year’s pictures of our Christmas trees. Here’s the one in front of the house. You can’t really see it from this angle, but I cut off so many branches close to the house (squirrel on-ramps, they were) that from a profile it almost looks like a bas-relief of a pine tree. Still, it works!

Tree out front, blue lights

That strange purple aura isn’t visible to the naked eye. At first I thought it was an artifact of my camera, but now I’m thinking—maybe, just maybe—it’s dark matter. Or maybe dark energy, hard to be sure.

And here’s our indoor tree, a little different this year. We didn’t go out and get a tree. Or rather, we did but we just went to the back yard and brought in a branch I’d pruned off the big oak tree. With fire in the, er, fireplace.

Indoor Christmas tree and "fireplace"

Happy ChristmaHanuKwanStice, everyone!

Panglor Wanders into Bizarro World of Paper Books!

Panglor wraparound cover for print_sm

Panglor—the man and the book both—have always been about exploring bizarre new worlds. It’s literally much of the plot of the story. For quite a few years now, he and his ou-ralot companion LePiep and his human companion Alo have been available only in the digital world. Now, he’s found his way back into Print World! Yes, a new print edition of Panglor has hit the newsstands—er, bookstores. This is the first print edition since the Tor paperback of 1996, which was a revision of the Dell first edition of 1980. Long trip, dude!

Here it is, wandering into a store near you, whether on that great long river (you know the one I mean), or elsewhere. Basically, in theory, any store that orders from Ingram. Which is pretty much all of them.*

*Translation: It can be ordered by any store.

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