Technology Keeps Truckin’

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I’m always saving links to cool stories, and sometimes I even remember to mention them while they’re still fresh and cool. (If you wonder why I seem a little scattered at times, it may be related to the fact that Allysen just started a new, full-time job, I’m still writing a new book and trying to shift to a schedule compatible with Allysen’s, we’re still recording the audiobook, still getting all the wrinkles out of the ebooks, daughter Alexandra is about to graduate from college, and…well, that’s a partial list, but you get the picture.)

News about our light bulbs
Starting next year, 100-watt incandescent light bulbs will no longer be available in the U.S. The reason, of course, is that they’re hideously inefficient in their use of electricity, and if we’re to get serious about our national energy problem, we need to get serious about using more efficient technologies. Compact fluorescents are far more efficient, but aren’t perfect, either. Now, it looks like LED replacement lights will be coming along just in time. But according to this Washington Post article, the best long-term solution will be new panel fixtures that spread the light-source over a wider area, thus allowing for heat dispersal. (Yes, even cool LED lamps have heat-dispersal problems when you cram too many together.)

Jetman flies the Grand Canyon!
If you’re like me, you’re still wishing for a personal jet-pack. Well, this guy actually has jet engines strapped to his personal flying suit. And he used it to fly over the Grand Canyon! Pictures are better than words:

Full story (and video if you have trouble seeing it here).
Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Today on

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My omnibus ebook, The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1-3, is a featured title today on one of the leading guides to Kindle bargains, Or if it’s scrolled out of sight there, here on its own page. DailyCheapReads is a great place to visit. They feature new ebooks every day, both from indie authors and traditionally published authors doing the kind of thing I’m doing. Drop in once in a while to see what bargains are lurking! (Some of them are time-limited specials.)

Exclusive New Afterwords for My Chaos Ebooks!

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 I’ve just finished incorporating  all-new Afterwords in the ebook versions of Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractors, and The Infinite Sea. I set down some reflections on the Chaos series as a whole, what it was like to write those first three books, and some of the thought processes and creative impulses that went into shaping each of the stories.

The new Afterwords are exclusive to my new ebook editions, available in the Kindle store and from Smashwords, and slowly migrating into other ebookstores. (If you’re a new visitor here, the original print versions of these books were from Tor Books; these new ebook releases are from my own Starstream Publications. That’s just me, but I thought new editions ought to come from an imprint, not just some guy.)

These three books were free on my website for two years. There are still free editions out there—but the Afterwords are an extra value for folks who buy the books in the stores. (Just $2.99 each!)

Edit: The new Kindle versions are live now. If you bought the Kindle books before the Afterwords were added, contact me via my website, and I’ll see that you get the updated versions. (Amazon apparently has no provision for redownloading updated editions of books.) I’m not sure how it works with editions from Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc. via the Smashwords distributions. If you have trouble, let me know.

Readercon, BoingBoing, and Lives Passing

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Readercon happened last weekend, and as always, it was a good time. The high points for me, this year, aside from seeing good friends and making some new ones, was a series of workshops that were held more or a less as a sideline to the main programming. Barry Longyear held one on writer’s block, Ellen Klages ran one on using improv techniques to free up creativity (which kept us laughing for two hours), and finally Mary Robinette Kowal gave excellent advice on techniques for delivering effective readings (just in time for my own reading, which followed shortly afterward). The only downside of all this was spraining my foot, while participating a little too exuberantly in one of the improv skits.

Home again, and back to the salt mines. Lucky thing they serve frozen margaritas in salt mines! I got a request to write a contribution to a remembrance of the Apollo 11 Moon landing for, which I did, appearing soon. I got the fixed-up, wide-screen version of my Sunborn video put up on my own youtube channel (which I hope to expand with some excerpts from my educational, distance-learning TV series from back in 1995, just as soon as I have time to view and edit them). I sent off a note to about it, because as you probably know, they compile collections of all sorts of cool things. I headed off to bed—and the next morning got a congratulatory note from a friend about my video appearing on BoingBoing! The funny thing is, it was posted—with my accompanying words—a few hours before I sent it to them! Time zones, time zones… or is it something more sinister, something… well, I won’t pursue those thoughts further.

The other thing that happened about the same time was reading of the deaths of writer Phyllis Gotlieb, and of Charles N. Brown, publisher of Locus. I didn’t really know either of them personally. But I had just seen Charlie Brown in passing at Readercon, and to read of his death the following day was quite a jolt. You can read about both of them at the Locus website, or, for that matter, on boingboing, where Cory Doctorow wrote touching tributes.

“You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.” —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Odyssey Workshop Open to Applicants

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In a few months, I’ll be spending a couple of days as guest lecturer at one of the top SF/F writing workshops, the Odyssey Writing Workshop in New Hampshire. This will be my second time helping at Odyssey, and I came away from the first experience mightily impressed.

They’re now open to applications from serious, dedicated writers who are close to that point of getting published. If you’re in that category and are looking for an intensive learning experience, you might want to look into it. Here’s the info…

Odyssey is one of the most highly respected workshops for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror writers. Top authors, editors, and agents serve as guest lecturers, and fifty-three percent of graduates go on to be published. The workshop, held annually on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, combines an intensive learning and writing experience with in-depth feedback on students’ manuscripts. Odyssey is for developing writers whose work is approaching publication quality and for published writers who want to improve their work. Director Jeanne Cavelos is a former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell and winner of the World Fantasy Award.

This summer’s workshop runs from June 8 through July 17. Guest lecturers are bestselling author Jeffrey A. Carver; award-winning authors Melissa Scott, Patricia Bray, and Jack Ketchum; and Ace/Roc Editor-in-Chief Ginjer Buchanan. The writer-in-residence is New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn. The application deadline is April 8. For more information, visit or call (603) 673-6234.

“Vigorous writing is concise.” —William Strunk, Jr.

Diamonds in the Sky: an Astronomical SF Anthology

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A while back, I wrote that I had sold a short story named “Dog Star” to an upcoming online anthology called Diamonds in the Sky. Edited by SF writer/astronomer Mike Brotherton, the anthology is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, for the purpose of furthering science education. The idea: to make astronomical concepts more accessible through entertaining stories. Each story takes on a different astronomical theme. In Dog Star, I tried my hand at dark energy and border collies.

Diamonds in the Sky has just gone live!

In addition to my story, it includes pieces by Geoffrey Landis, Wil McCarthy, Mike Brotherton, Jerry Oltion, Jerry Weinberg, and others. (Those last three guys were among my compadres at the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop back in 2007, another memorable event—and Geoff and Wil are really smart guys, actual rocket scientists, whom I bump into periodically at SF gatherings.)

I haven’t read the other pieces yet, but now I get my chance along with you.

By the way, plans are afoot to gather the stories into proper ebook format and put those up for free download, as well.


The Infinity Link—soon to be a major motion ebook!

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I wrote recently that I was proofreading the computer file of my 1984 novel, The Infinity Link, for a pending ebook edition. I still am. (It’s a long book, and proofreading is a slow job.) That’s not news. What is news is how much I’m liking the book. I mean—really liking it! It’s a good book!

Cover art by David B. Mattingly

Okay, that probably sounds dumb, because on the one hand you’re not supposed to think your own book is bad, but on the other hand, it sounds braggy if you say your own book is good. But…I haven’t read through this novel in years, many years, and I was fully expecting to find it—you know, good, but not that good, and full of passages that I wished I’d done a little differently, or kept shorter, or something. But the truth is, I’m not really thinking of it as my book as I’m reading it, and I’m just really enjoying it. I expect any of you who are writers or artists know exactly what I’m talking about, and the rest of you are nodding tolerantly, thinking, there there, have a nice cup of tea, you’ll feel better.

The Infinity Link is out of print, but you can still get new copies from me, or used copies online wherever online used book dealers gather. And soon, you’ll be able to buy it as a brand new ebook!

“Sure, it’s simple, writing for kids… Just as simple as bringing them up.” —Ursula K. LeGuin

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Also, Happy Hanukah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, and any other celebrations I might have missed.

Wow, I’ve really fallen off the radar this time, haven’t I? It’s been an incredibly busy December, and we had family here for Christmas week, and basically I just haven’t been doing things like keeping up with my blog. So, apologies to all of you! But best wishes indeed for the season.

The highlight of my Christmas was having my daughter home from college (before heading off this morning for an international trip with a group from school), and my brother and his girlfriend visiting for most of a week. It was terrific all around.

The highlight in material terms (toys!) was an exceedingly generous gift from a family member of an ebook reader—a Sony Reader (PRS-700, the new one with the built-in light)—which I have been enjoying hugely and have been filling up with everything from classics to favorite SF from when I was a kid (Tom Corbett, Space Cadet!), to freebies from Tor Books and the Baen Free Library. I’ve got close to a hundred books on it now, and have barely scratched the available memory. Thanks, Chuck and Youngmee!

Another highlight was an odd counterpoint: my wife handed me another blast from my past—three Tom Swift, Jr. books that her aunt had given to her for me, including Tom Swift and his Diving Seacopter, an absolute favorite from a certain age in my youth. And, to round the story out, DARPA is actually hoping to build a craft just like it—yes, an airplane that can go underwater! Talk about science fiction (once in a while) predicting the future!

I hope you’re all having a great holiday season. I’ll leave you with this thought from Charles Lindbergh.

“By day, or on a cloudless night, a pilot may drink the wine of the gods, but it has an earthly taste; he’s a god of the earth, like one of the Grecian deities who lives on worldly mountains and descended for intercourse with men. But at night, over a stratus layer, all sense of the planet may disappear. You know that down below, beneath that heavenly blanket is the earth, factual and hard. But it’s an intellectual knowledge; it’s a knowledge tucked away in the mind; not a feeling that penetrates the body. And if at times you renounce experience and mind’s heavy logic, it seems that the world has rushed along on its orbit, leaving you alone flying above a forgotten cloud bank, somewhere in the solitude of interstellar space.” — Charles A. Lindbergh

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