Friday, January 15, 2021

Another Day, Another Life Bird


 

All the birding community has been atwitter (sorry) about a tundra bean goose (Anser serrirostris) which, though it properly belongs in Siberia, has been wandering about Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. It's an opportunity to add a bird to one's North American life list that will probably never recur in this lifetime.

The goose had earlier been seen on the Schuylkill River, off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, so Marianne and I hopped in the car Wednesday... Only to discover that the road was closed, for repairs I think. We tried spotting it from the far side of the river but no luck.

This morning we tried again and achieved success by the time-honored method of looking for a group of birders with their binoculars pointed in the same direction. And achieved almost immediate success. Those are some of the birders up above, carefully examining every bird in a flock of Canada geese. Among them, center front, was the tundra bean goose.

If I had the enormous telephoto lenses that some of the birders had, I'd have a great picture to share with you. The tundra bean goose is a handsome bird, with striking features. But I haven't. So I'll just share the pic that Marianne took with her cell phone:




*

Thursday, January 14, 2021

A Page From the Scribblehobbledehoydenii

 .


"Michael? Michael! This is yourself from the future..."

"Excuse me, what?"

"I'm you. From the far reaches of January 2021.Okay, I realize that's only twelve months from where you are, but..."

"Wow. What's with the hair? Have I joined some kind of anti-grooming cult?"

"That's the first thing I want to talk to you about. Go out and get a haircut, as short as you can bear it to be. Do it today. But first buy six months' worth of toilet paper. Never mind why."

"Um... Okay."

"Oh, and all that dystopian science fiction you're writing? Scrap it! From now on, it's fuzzy space bunnies and cuddly unicorns only. Your editors will thank you for it."

"I really don't think..."

"Don't think at all. Get your eyeglass prescription checked now. Visit the dentist. Go to a rock concert--I don't care if you like the group or not, just go. Eat out. Hug your friends. You're not going to be doing that again for a long, long time. Hell, hug your enemies. You're never going to be doing that again ever. Oh, and buy a good webcam while they're still cheap. Get a Zoom account. Your son will explain what that is. Are you writing this all down?"

"I think I've got it all. Anything else?"

"Just one more thing. A couple of months from now you're going to be tempted to make remarks about how much better than 2020 the year 2021 is going to be. You'll feel better about yourself afterward if you refrain from doing so."

"But..."

"Don't ask. You'll learn soon enough."


Above: The Scribbledehobbledehoydenii (singular Scribbledehobbledehoyden) is the proper title of my notebooks.


*

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year 2020

 .


"I'm with your father. I didn't think I thought nothing this year was going to rise to the level of winner. But it turns out there's serious competiton here." (A BRNAANPOF member) 

The planet has spun about the Sun again and the time has come for the annual Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year competition. Going into the judging the Blue Ribbon Not At All Nepotistic Panel of Family was greatly dispirited by the preponderance of spiritual and even overtly religious cards received in the wake of an admittedly hard year. But when the nitty got down to the gritty, our friends had come through. The will to avoid any reference to the reason to be sending out Christmas cards in the first place was strong in them.

Here are some of the comments that were made about the eight finalists (above):

 Top, Second from Right: "A cheerless, empty bench and slush on the George Washington Bridge. I think that says it all." (countered by:) "This is a traditional nature's beauty shot of a stream in winter and a lone deer but for people who are never more than a quarter-mile from a Jewish deli. It's Christmassy."

 Top Right: "Three polar bears contemplating the onset of global warming with despair. I've rarely been so depressed by a Christmas card." (countered by:) "However, I would argue that the card bespeaks a love of nature with a desire to see the world become better. I'm not saying it's not despairing. But it's not the Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year."

 Bottom, Second from Left: "Santa on a Segway is mere alliteration. The steampunk goggles don't help" (another BRNAANPOF member amplified:) "He's an old man. He's wearing the trendy fashion accessories of a decade ago. This is a card that throws away all yesterday's traditions. That's Boomer Santa!"

 Top, Second from Left: "A mouse in a Santa Worm costume atop a cat that is clearly contemplating eating it. I think we're all disturbed by this one." (countered by:) "Yes, but it's not enough for a card to be Atheist. It must flaunt its Atheism."

 Bottom Left: "Christmas Love: A squirrel stealing a candy cane from a bloated pluto-cat." (and:) "Nothing says Christmas like theft."

Bottom Right: "This is Zsa Zsa Gabor Decorates a Window on Fifth Avenue for the Season. It has nothing to do with the season. It's bright and cheerful and pleasant to look at. But with no spiritual content.

 Bottom, Second from Left: "A series of hand-shadow instructions--two pages of them! This has nothing to do with Christmas, God, spirituality, or even winter. It would be appropriate for the April issue of Boys Life."

  Top Left: "The simple natural beauty of snowflakes rendered sterile and meaningless by abstraction and the addition of expensive but morally empty blood diamonds. Ivanka Trump could have sent this card."

As you can tell, this was a spirited debate. But in the end, there can only be one. And it was that last, irrefutable sentence that settled matters. So here, with all appropriate fanfare is the... Godless Atheist Christmas Card of the Year for 2020:

 


 And may the coming year be an improvement over the last one, with this past week thrown in for good measure.


 

 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Saturday, January 2, 2021

In the Drift e-Book Sale! This Sunday Only!!!

 .


 

 

For some reason Open Road Media has been putting a lot of my e-books on one-day sales recently. Here's the latest:

 

Dear Michael Swanwick,

We are pleased to let you know that the following ebook(s) will be featured in price promotions soon.

ISBN13 Title Author Promo Type Country Start Date End Date Promo Price
9781504036474 In the Drift Swanwick, Michael ORM - Portalist NL US 2021-01-03 2021-01-03 $1.99
9781504036474 In the Drift Swanwick, Michael ORM - Portalist NL CA 2021-01-03 2021-01-03 $1.99


Open Road will promote the feature via social media. We hope you can share the deal with your network as well. You can subscribe to the newsletters at the links below so that you will get the direct link to the deal on the day that it appears.

Newsletter Link
  Early Bird Books     Subscribe Now  
The Lineup Subscribe Now
The Portalist Subscribe Now
Murder & Mayhem Subscribe Now
A Love So True Subscribe Now
The Archive Subscribe Now
The Reader Subscribe Now

 And so . . .

I've shared the info, as requested. If you''re an e-book reader and you've been curious about my first novel... well, there's your chance.

 


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

My Favorite New Writer

 .


 

It's been a pleasant Christmas season here in Philadelphia, with homemade candies and cookies, some wonderful meals, and a lot of thoughtful presents. But the big winner on the present front was Sean William Swanwick, who received in the mail a copy of the January-February 2021 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction, containing his first published story, "Humans and Other People."

A writer's first publication is always a big deal for them. But this was particularly so for Sean because he knew Gardner Dozois, the editor of Asimov's for nineteen years, all his life. More than that, Sean worked as Gardner's office manager for the last several years of the Big Guy's life. So the magazine is a kind of second home for him.

Congratulations, Sean! Now, get back to the keyboard.

 

And I'm sure you want to know . . .

The obvious next question is... Is "Humans and Other People" any good?

Yes.

Yes, it is a first-rate story. I know that as his father my word is suspect here, but if you're a doubter, buy a copy of the magazine and read it for yourself. More important (to my mind anyway), is the fact that it's not a story I could have written myself. The kid has a good eye and an original mind.

You're going to be hearing a lot more from Sean in coming years. He's  got the stuff.


*

Monday, December 28, 2020

Jack Faust E-Book Sale! Tuesday Only!!!

 .


 I've just received the news that for this Tuesday, December 29th, 2020 only, the e-book my novel Jack Faust will be on sale for $1.99 in Canada and the US.

 So if you read e-books and if you've always been curious about this novel... well, here's your chance!


Um... and that's all. End of pitch.


*