Tag: science fiction

Chef salad

Busy, even productive day at work today, even though I wasn’t feeling well. Made progress on several fronts and that felt good. After work I came home and worked on the wedding info website, which is going out on the info sheet with the invitations (probably next week). he11o_sunshine (who did our invitations) is helping with the look and feel of the info site.

Picked up Kelly and we made a chef salad for dinner. Lettuce and some veggies. She made a veggie patty and cut it up in her salad; I had some chopped turkey in mine. We also made hard-boiled eggs (and thanks to rubysnina who reminded me how to make them the right way) which we had in our salads. They turned out really good, and it was the perfect meal for a warm evening like tonight.

iPhone update 2.0.1 came out and I updated my phone this evening. Kelly wants to sync her phone to the iMac, which means that we’ll need to transfer her music and stuff over. I’m thinking about getting an even bigger external hard disk (I’ve got a tiny 100 GB disk on there now; I might look at a 1 TB disk so that we can keep all of our music and stuff in one place.

Getting back into The Count of Monte Cristo now that the move stuff has finished and settled down, and I’m enjoying it once again. It’s interesting reading it on the iPhone, convenient, certainly, but it takes me a little longer to forget where I’m reading it and disappear into the story. Still, I get there eventually.

Final electric bill from the old place came today. And I got email from my landlord telling me that the old house was in great shape and I’m getting my entire $1750 deposit back.

I had planned to go back to the DMV today and get my car registered, but didn’t get around to it. Tomorrow doesn’t look good either, so it will probably have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday (when it’s not crowded).

I’m seeing a lot of blogs of people heading off (or arriving at) World Con. I’m a supporting member only; I wish I could go, but there’s too much going on this year.

Writer’s workshop!

Through the auspices of will_couvillier, who helped to arrange it, I will be participating in an on-line writer’s workshop this summer run by Grand Master of Science Fiction, James Gunn! The goal of the workshop is to produce one publishable story.

I’m so excited about doing this. I’ve never participated in a writer’s workshop before and I am eager to learn. As a new writer, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities for feedback from editors. I was fortunate that when I made my first professional sale, Edmund Schubert, editor of Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, was kind enough to work with me on the story to make it into a publishable story. He has worked with me on another story as well that I didn’t end up selling to him. I’ve also been luck to have people like mabfan look at my stuff and give feedback. But it will be nice to be part of a workshop of new writers, working with each other over a period of 8 weeks to develop publishable stories, and learning and improving our craft.

I ordered the recommended book for the class and I’m sending my payment off tomorrow. (I’d send it off today, but I don’t have my checkbook with me.)

This is really exciting! Many, many thanks to Will for arranging all this!

Readercon 2008, Part 1

I was up at around 5:30 AM in order to catch a flight to Boston for Readercon. For all of my non-sf friends, Readercon is a s.f. convention not quite like any other. As the name alludes to, it is almost exclusively about written science fiction. It is also attended by the Best of the Best in the business. And one of my favorite writers of all time, Barry N. Malzberg, regularly attends the convention. With all of this as preface, I headed up to Boston. My flight was on time and I picked up my rental car from Hertz, making it to the hotel in Burlington just in time to make the 11 AM session I’d hoped to attend.

When I arrived at the hotel, I heard my name being called out by mabfan and gnomi, and it was good to see both of them. They are a reassuring presence at these conferences since they are familiar, friendly, encouraging faces.

The first session I went to was on science fiction as a mirror of reality, and among the people on the panel were Robert J. Sawyer and mabfan.

<shameless plug>Michael has a collection of short stories coming later this year called I Remember the Future: The Award-Nominated Stories of Michael A. Burstein. I have read almost all of the stories in the collection and they are all fantastic. Don’t read science fiction? These stories provide an excellent introduction to what science fiction is all about. Start with his story, “Sanctuary”, which by itself is worth the price of admission.</shameless plug>

I attended a session, “Transcending your influences” that was interesting. James Morrow was on the panel and I loved his Godhead Trilogy.

Wandering around, I ran into scottedelman who was so kind to me throughout the day, and very encouraging, too.

There were other session. I listed to Rob Sawyer read from his forthcoming novel, Wake. I sat with scottedelman for the “If All Men Are Tolerant, How Would You Shock Your Sister?” session. But most definitely the highlight of my day was meeting Barry N. Malzberg.

To people outside science fiction, I can’t really explain what Barry writes. His most famous novels are those like Herovit’s World and Beyond Apollo. He has a dark, depressing outlook, that is laden with humor. When I first read Herovit’s World I was blown away. No other book has ever had quite the same effect on me as that book. I first became acquainted with Barry’s work sometime in 1993 when Scott Edelman, then editor of SCIENCE FICTION AGE published a story of his called “The Passage of the Light”. At the time, I was preparing my senior paper for my minor in journalism. The paper was on science fiction and, although I doubt he remembers this, I wrote to Scott asking for more information, in particular about this guy Barry Malzberg. Scott recommended some books. I went to school at the University of California, Riverside, which hosts a famous collection of science fiction and I immediately made use of that collection to get to know Barry Malzberg. He is a writer’s writer. He chose to write science fiction but he could write anything better than 99.99% of the writers out there. He has the imagery of Ray Bradbury with the wit of Woody Allen. To try and describe his writing simply doesn’t do him justice. You just have to go out and read it.

This man, this Writer, was gracious enough to spend some time with me today. Sometime around 2:30 PM (the same time as mabfan‘s reading) Barry told me to meet him and the two of us went for a walk. We walked all around the hotel parking lots, for nearly half and hour, talking, just the two of us. Words cannot express the awe I have of Barry, and that he was willing to spend some time with me was, to me, the highlight of the conference. He asked what I did, where I went to school. And I asked him about his writing, his books. I made sure to tell him what an influence his books had on me. He asked about my writing and I told him of my progress so far. And he reassured me and told me that I was doing things that right way, that I had the fundamentals down. He told me about the first s.f. convention he ever attended, back in 1967 and how in awe he was of the writers that surrounded him. It was wonderful.

And then he signed 3 books that I brought with me, with personal inscriptions on all of them.

While I still have another whole day to spend at the conference tomorrow, I’m not sure there is anything that can top what I experienced today.

Of the 5 conventions I have now attended, Readercon is the most–how do I put it–imposing. Everyone is friendly, everyone is willing to talk to you, sign autographs, you name it. But these are the Best of the Best. Readercon is the Big League of science fiction conventions. The writers here not only know how to do it, they know how to do it really, really well. So to some extent, I felt way out of my league. But I also once again felt the urge to press forward, to keep at it, and that maybe, just maybe, if the stars align just so, and luck it on my side, I can be as good as they are.

My tentative Readercon schedule

I head up to Boston for Readercon early Friday morning. Alas, I am only able to stay through early Saturday evening. Given my short stay, here is my tentative schedule of events that I am hoping to attend while there.


11:00: Science Fiction as a Mirror for Reality
13:00: -Esque No More: Transcending Your Influences
14:30: Michael A. Burstein reads a selection from his story “Empty Spaces”
15:00: The Critical Review: Griffin, Gorgon, or Sphinx
16:00: Robert J. Sawyer reads from his upcoming novel Wake
17:00: A Tale of Two Disciplines
18:00: If All Men Were Tolerant, How Would You Shock Your Sister?
19:00: Waking Up Sober Next to a Story Idea
22:00: The 2008 Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award Ceremony
22:30: Meet the Pro(s) Party


12:00: Genius is 90% Higher Standards: The “Unnecessary Rewrite”
13:00: Kaffeeflatches: Scott Edelman, Matthew Kressel
14:00: The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction group reading
15:00: You Say “Plagiarism”, I Say “The Ecstasy of Influence” OR
15:00: Kaffeeklatsches: David G. Hartwell, Kathryn Cramer, Robert J. Sawyer
14:00: James Patrick Kelly interviewed

I may try and squeeze in other things if I can, but I have to head for the airport no later than 5:30 PM on Saturday, which is unfortunate. Still I am very much looking forward to this convention and especially, meeting Barry Malzberg there.

Thomas M. Disch

It was reported over the weekend that Thomas M. Disch committed suicide over the holiday weekend. I read only one of his books, Camp Concentration way back in October 2000, while sitting in a jury pool in a Hollywood courthouse. I was never called to server that day. According to my list, I wasn’t that impressed with the book (I gave it 2-stars) but that is probably a reflection of my taste and not Disch’s ability as a writer, which is well-known within the genre as being top-notch.

Nebula award recommendation!

When I got home today I had issue #221 (June 2008) of the SFWA Forum waiting for me. The Nebula Awards report is included in these issues and I always skim through that section. So I’m skimming the section on Novelettes and whose name and story should I see but my own! That’s right, there is (at this time) one recommendation for “When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer“. I think I know who the culprit is, but I have to say, wow, that’s pretty cool!

And speaking of stories, the latest issue of InterGalactic Medicine Show (issue 9) is available today. This issue has a story by davidbcoe called “Cassie’s Story“. The price of admission ($2.50) is worth it just for that story, let alone all the other good stuff in the issue. (I met David and hung out with him and Edmund Schubert at RavenCon in 2007.)

Hugo Awards

On Saturday, I voted for the first time ever for the Hugo Awards. There are three votes which I was particularly proud to cast:

1. Best Novel: Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer.
2. Best Related Book: Breakfast in the Ruins by Barry N. Malzberg.
3. Best Editor, Short Form: Stanley Schmidt.

I was also pleased to be able to vote for shsilver as Best Fan Writer and Argentus as Best Fanzine.

Science fiction in the mail

When I got home from work this even, I had science fiction in the mail. It seems just about every print science fiction magazine I subscribe to was delivered today:

  • The Bulletin, Spring 2008 (for my non-SF friends, this is the magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America)
  • ANALOG, September 2008
  • ASIMOV’S, August 2008
  • F&SF, July 2008

I think this is the first time that all 4 magazines have arrived on the same day.

Locus Awards Poll

Today is the last day to vote for the Locus Poll & Survey. I voted yesterday. I had the opportunity to vote for joe_haldeman‘s novel, The Accidental Time Machine for Best SF Novel. I voted for Kris Rusch’s novella, “Recovering Apollo 8” and Connie Willis’ “All Seated on the Ground” for Best Novellas. I was particularly pleased to vote for shunn‘s “Not of This Fold” for Best Novelette, and for his “Objective Impermeability in a Closed System” for Best Short Story.

For Best Magazine, I voted for ANALOG at the top (they have had some terrific serials recently) followed by ASIMOV’S and F&SF. Best editor I voted for Stan Schmidt at the top, followed by a write-in vote for Edmund Schubert, editor of InterGalactic Medicine Show, and then Sheila Williams and ellen_datlow.

For Best Non-Fiction Book, I was pleased to be able to vote for Barry N. Malzberg’s Breakfast In the Ruins.

Hugo reading

I’ve plotted out my Hugo-reading in order that I might vote fairly when the time comes. Of course, if I kept up with the magazines better than I do, I shouldn’t have to “cram”. I’ve decided to read in the order of increasing length categories. In theory, once I’ve completed all the items in a category, I should have a pretty good idea of which I want to vote for, and how I’d rank them (as ranking them in order of preference is apparently how the voting works). Much of this fiction is available free online, and so I’ve provided links, where possible, in case non-subscribers want to read any.





  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, Fourth Estate)
  • Brasyl by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
  • Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor; Analog Oct. 2006-Jan/Feb. 2007) 2
  • The Last Colony by John Scalzi (Tor)
  • Halting State by Charles Stross (Ace)

A few notes:

I rate these stories using my usual rating system, which is a scale of 0-5 with 1/2 point increments. Those items that appear in bold are items I’ve already read. Their rating appears in brackets at the end of the line. Items that are struck-through are items that I attempted to read, but just couldn’t get through. Sorry, Michael Chabon, it’s not you, it’s me, I’m sure.

Naturally, I’ll keep you posted on progress and I will post my final tally and the order in which I will vote in each category.

Incidentally, there are two categories in which I already know my votes:

Best Related Book: Breakfast In the Ruins: Science Fiction in the Last Millennium by Barry N. Malzberg.

Best Professional Editor, Short Form:

Stanley Schmidt
Sheila Williams
Ellen Datlow
Gordon Van Gelder
Jonathan Strahan

(Stan is long overdo for a win in this category, but that’s not why I’m voting for him. He’s recently published some great serials including: Rob Sawyer’s Rollback which is up for a Hugo.)

  1. 5
  2. 0

Issue 8 of InterGalactic Medicine Show is available!

For science fiction-lovers out there, issue #8 of InterGalactic Medicine Show is available on-line. It looks like Edmund Schubert put together his first “theme” issue, with some great art and what look to be great stories. Go check it out!

(And for those of you who are not s.f. fans, or have never tried it, it’s never too late to start. The stories in InterGalactic Medicine Show make the perfect launching off point.)

I just bought my copy–only $2.50–and can’t wait to dig in!