Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Wheel of Jordan



 I just now saw a trailer for The Wheel of Time, the television series based on the works of Robert Jordan, and thought, "If only he could have lived to see this!"

I met Jordan once. It was at a Worldcon, possibly in Scotland, where one of my editors invited me to dinner along with other writers. One of them was Robert Jordan. By the deference of my editor, he was the big dog at the table. He was very, very tall. He had a cool beard and an equally cool hat.

Continuing the theme, the man was cool to me at first. Then, when it became clear that I wasn't going to begin screaming at him that I was a bleeping artist and how dare he, a mere hack, make so much more money than me, he thawed and became the most pleasant of dinner companions.

It was a meal worth remembering. He was a good guy and a good conversationalist.

Some writers resent Robert Jordan's success. Not me. He wrote books that made people happy. I know people living within a block of me who have done worse. 

So I knew Robert Jordan for more than an hour, possibly more than two, certainly less than three. I can't claim to "know" him at all. I have no telling anecdotes to narrate about him.

Still, I wish he had lived to see what television has made of his fiction. I bet he would be happy.



Thursday, November 25, 2021

Stay-at-Home Black Friday Sale!



Tachyon Publications, which is of my favorite small presses and my occasional publisher, has a Black Friday sale lasting for the rest of the year: 20% off their entire catalog and free media mail shipping for US customers. So if, like me, you don't hit the malls on Black Friday and if, like me, you're wary of doing any shopping on Black Friday... well, here's your chance to save money and still feel virtuous.

Seriously, though, there are some extremely good books available from Tachyon--and that's not even counting my own.

Also... Happy Thanksgiving Day! I hope yours was joyous and satisfying. As was mine.

Oh, and the details on the Tachyon deal can be found here.


Friday, November 19, 2021

Philcon! Philcon! Philcon!



Well, it's that time of year again, when Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Worldcon, Christmas and New Year's Eve all tumble one upon the other in the course of five weeks. And starting off the season... Philcon, which begins today!

The Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention, to give it its full name, is one of the oldest SF cons in the world. Though diminished in size from its heyday--down from thousands of participants to hundreds--and exiled from the city of its birth and name to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the con keeps chugging bravely away.

If you're going to be at Chillcon, as it has been waggishly nicknamed, be sure to say hi. I'll be ubiquitous.

Meanwhile, as is traditional, here's my schedule:

Start Time      Duration     Room Name                          Title


 8:00 PM    50 Min            Plaza 3                        If I Had That To Write Again          


2:00 PM    50 Min        Grand Ballroom              Q&A with Principal Speaker Fran Wilde   

3:00 PM    50 Min        Plaza 3                            Why Haven't Exoplanets Created More Excitement?   

5:00 PM    50 Min        Plaza 2                            The World of Thomas M. Disch (1940-2008) 


 Oh, and it's worth mentioning that Samuel R. Delany is a late addition to the Disch panel. Chip is always worth hearing, and on this subject he knows a great deal more than most.


Monday, November 8, 2021

New Zealand is Giving Away Books They Don't Own

 I'm going to do my best to present this calmly.

The government of New Zealand has decided to donate every book in the overseas collection of its National Library to the Internet Archive. 

Writers who do not want their books to be put up on the Web for free are being given the option of opting out. 

The people at the National Library have made no particular effort to make these two facts known. They posted this information online in October and writers wishing to opt out must respond by December 1.

For a list of all the books about to be given away and instructions on how to opt out, go to::

Non-New Zealand writers should check the list to see if any of their works are on it.
I've already sent the organization a letter directing them not to give away my novel Vacuum Flowers. My phrasing of the opt-out request may have been a touch harsh. But it was nothing compared to what I was thinking.

And as long as you're reading this . . .

If you are a writer or know a writer or think that the people who write books deserve to profit at least a little from their labor, please spread this information far and wide.

Thank you.



Friday, November 5, 2021

eBook Sale: The Iron Dragon's Daughter



Open Road Media has just informed me that my most popular novel, The Iron Dragon's Daughter, will be on sale this Sunday and Sunday only at Early Bird Books. 

For one day, and one day only, you can buy it for only $1.99.

Um... and that's all, really.


Thursday, November 4, 2021

Notes on Three Paintings by Artemesia Gentileschi



 In the Wadsworth Atheneum, there is a show of the art of Italian Renaissance women artists, most notably Artemesia Gentileschi. Here are the notes I made on three of her paintings:


1. Her women are no more beautiful than they have to be.

2. Their bodies have heft.

3. In Judith and Her Maidservant, the two are caught in the instant when, their deed done, they hear a sound that might imperil their escape. 

4. The maidservant looks as determined as Judith. But for an accident of birth, they could have traded places.

5. The hand that Judith raises to shade the candle casts a dark shadow over her eye. There are shadows on the backs of her arms as well.

6. The candle flame bends away from the imperious onrush of her hand.

7. A scabbard lies on the table by the candle.

8. Blood drips from the sword that Judith holds.

9. Blood stains her maidservant's hand, paused in the act of bundling up Holofernes' head.

10. The head, almost invisible in the darkness, is ignored by both; it belongs to the past.

11. In her painting of Bathsheba, David is almost invisible in the darkness of his balcony, unnoticed by the women on the rooftop.

12. In Lot and His Daughters, the old patriarch has a malformed big toe.


Random Memories: Susan Casper



Those who only knew Susan Casper in her later years, have no idea what a mischievous scamp she was in her younger years.

I vividly remember walking down a hotel corridor in the early hours of the morning with Susan on our ways to our respective rooms. This hotel had a short-lived innovation: In place of key or keycard locks, it had punch pad locks. You chose your own four-digit number code. And of course this was a science fiction convention.

So Susan stopped at every door and tapped in 2001, 1984, and 1138. It is possible that alcohol was involved in her decision to do so.

Down the hall we sauntered, leaving half the doors behind us open.