The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth

The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth is now available!

S. M. Stirling gave me the chance to play in his world and my story "The Demons of Witmer Hall" was selected for his anthology. This constitutes my social media blitz. I guess I'm a bit slow in this, although I do not wish for the failure of technology. The Change series, for those unfamiliar with Stirling's universe (aka Emberverse), chronicles the fall of civilization as we know it when the technologies that we rely on in the modern world suddenly stop working in March 1998. No gunpowder, no electricity, no internal combustion, no steam power. Let the chaos ensue.

My story came out of a discussion with a fellow writer and scientist detailing how we'd go about testing the limits of the failure in physics. Lightning still strikes and the human nervous system still works, but not computers or electric generators. So we ask why? I stole some of Ian Tregillis's ideas and wrote my story about a pair of hapless grad students stuck in North Dakota while the campus was on spring break.

If you get a chance, please check it out. Likewise, if you're in the Santa Fe area on 15 June 2015, drop by the Cocteau Theater for the book launch signing!

First sentence Meme part 2

Hage drove the modified Jeep out of the ancient maglev rail cut.  (Test of Heroes)

"This has to be a mistake," I said, flipping the light switch.  ("Demons of Witmer Hall" longish short story which will be appearing in S. M. Stirling's forthcoming Change anthology.)

Corporal Mozz lay beneath the overturned gun platform as it crushed his spine just above his pelvis, pinning him to the gray dirt of this forsaken moon. (Proto-Space Opera novel yet to be named.)

The ladies had gathered in their finery eleven days after the baby's birth to witness the naming ceremony.  (The Fairy War)

With Gathering of Heroes done and out the door, I am still casting around for the next project.  I could work on Book II of the Heroes series, but probably should concentrate on something new until the first books sells.  However, I'm finding myself jumping between projects, snippet and phrase jotted down or a paragraph or two.  Like a squirrel with ADD.  I've lost my nuts.

Long away until social media shifts

Too long between posts.  I'm certain that LJ is passe.  But I guess this is as good a place as any to catalog rants and observations for future selves...

Oh, and Gathering of Heroes is completed.  It was a first sentence that I posted years ago in LJ from a meme taken from Jay Lake.  Now on to other projects, since why write a series until the first book is sold? 

Cynical Half Formed Rant

NEW YORK ( -- U.S. cola sales are expected to fall 1 percent this year, and one industry expert says it's partly because Coke and Pepsi have put their legendary cola wars on ice.

But Coke's CEO Neville Isdell agreed with Sicher that cola makers need to rev up competition in order to spur demand for their brands.

Again, my feeling that advertising beyond technical specifications, cost and availability, should be made illegal is supported by recent events.  I do enjoy a Coke or Mountain Dew occasionally, but not at the levels of consumption from early graduate school.  Still this strikes me as wrong.

Cola sales are declining by about 1% in the overall beverage market.  The marketing types feel that they need to generate demand for their products by increasing the "cola wars."  Rather than provide products that consumers want to purchase, they opt to generate hype to convince people to want what they already offer in order to counter a shift to healthier lifestyles. The "free market model" we've bought into as the answer to all problems operates on the assumption that rational choices on the part of the consumer to drive supply and demand.  Are the cola wars informative or rational?  Is there any link to global terrorism in pursuing this war?  Why should we give our money to cynical manipulators, so they can squeeze more money out of us for products that we don't really want?  What hope does the average consumer have of ever becoming educated about the real choices available?

To paraphrase the first Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that I read (paraphrased because I can't find the actual strip)

Hobbes: "It says drinking this soda will enhance your sex appeal."
Calvin: "BRAAAAP!!!"
Hobbes: "Their claims seem to be exaggerated."
Calvin: "Phoo.  Up the nose."

Quote induced reflection

The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet.  William Gibson

Okay, so my most recent posts have been induced by random quotes on my Google homepage.  Still it is the introduction of randomness into any process that provides creativity.  The oddly positioned lens or mirror allows glimpses that often add nothing, but occasionally grant new understanding.

This quote has reminded me of the place of science and progress in the world today.  Things are happening, advances are being made, prophecies of all ilks are being fulfilled and refuted, and we step into the future.  The future that everyone seems to expect, whether optimistic, pessimistic, or unforeseen (not as big a self contradiction as you'd think) happens all the time.  I can only speak of my small patchwork piece of perceived reality and I can only keep up with mere fraction of the new knowledge generated in my areas of expertise.  It's perhaps a more Zen-like state of consciousness.  You don't know that the future has arrived until you can look back on the moment with the perspective of hindsight.  Then it isn't really the future, is it? 

So we must prepare ourselves to receive a changing world.  Not by predicting the next sequence of events with five decimal place precision, but by stretching our understanding of possibilities, probabilities, and consequences.  Or we resign ourselves to be subsumed by the crashing waves of events that are not only uncontrollable, but incomprehensible.  So read more science fiction to prepare yourself for the strangeness yet to come.

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.  Dwight D. Eisenhower

A bitter optimist

A pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun - and neither can stop the march of events. Robert Heinlein

A pessimist confronted with two bad choices, chooses them both. Jewish Proverb

How many pessimists end up by desiring the things they fear, in order to prove that they are right? Robert Mallet

A realist is just a pessimist who thinks he's right. Me


Went to the World Fantasy Convention in um.... SARASOTA Springs, NY two weekends back.  It was great and overwhelming and I'll write some more later when I'm not feeling as sick and confused.  (Just gotta remember that I wasn't in Florida...)

Fencon Report

So I made it back from Fencon that Sunday, but delayed posting. Why? Dunno. Simple procrastination would be the obvious choice.

Had a great panel first thing Friday night on Military SF. Probably the best panel I've ever been on, complete with talking points prepared on the flight down. The other panelists, Toni Weisskopf, Steve Perry, and Bill Ledbetter. Of course, the talented panelists hit most of my discussion points before I had to bring them up. One thing that I didn't bring up was my podcast interview with David Drake, which I was involved in last year. I haven't even listened to it myself (something about how I sound outside my own head vs. the outside world...)

The rest of the con was quite good, except I had messed up the date of the fancy dinner, thinking it was Saturday rather than Friday. Got a chance to meet Connie Willis and David Mattingly, both wonderful people. Of course, strangely, the entire con was plagued with technical difficulties. (My computer died right before my presentation on Death Rays. Projectors failed or had no red. Sound systems died midway through the masquerade. If electronics were involved, it didn't go off without a hitch.) But the con staff and the people attending made that seem like a minor difficulty, easily forgotten and certainly forgiven.

I was really happy to see all my old friends from the days of conventions past.


I'm making it back to Fencon!!!  After Conestoga, this is certainly a fun con.  I'll be doing my traveling Death Ray show and get to moderate a panel on Military in SF.  A little nervous about the last one.  Certainly not for a lack of opinions or discussion topics or credibility, but Toni Weisskopf will also be on the panel. 

Just because you greatly increase your visibility does not mean you've done something you hope will be remembered.