Monday, November 28, 2022

Vacuum Flowers One-Day e-Book Sale!



My e-book publisher, Open Road Media, informs me that there will be a one-day e-book sale for my novel Vacuum Flowers. On November 30 (that's Wednesday), it will be available, in the US only, for $1.99.

 I know it seems like I post something like this, only for different books, rather a lot. But it seems to be Open Road's business plan. So if you like e-books and would like to read my novel... well, here's your chance.


And as long as I'm here . . .

I might as well tell you something about the ending of Vacuum Flowers. It ends with Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark, the protagonist, standing in the vacuum docks with her husband's coffin at her feet, waiting for transportation back to her home in the Oort Cloud. Her passage through the Solar System took her on a cometary orbit inward and then out, making various stops along the way. (This is a sub-genre of sf that was once called the Grand Tour.)  

Now, comets travel in one of two paths--either a hyperbolic orbit or a parabolic orbit. The hyperbolic orbit takes the comet in and then out, never to return. But the parabolic orbit is closed loop. Which means that sooner or later, the comet will return. All the time I was writing the novel, I was aware of both possibilities. In one possible ending she would return. In the other she would not. In one ending, her husband was alive. In the other, the coffin held a corpse.

I held both endings in my mind without choosing one up until I came to the very last page. Then I made my choice and the novel was finished.

Looking back, I am convinced I made the right choice.

But it was a close thing.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

David Sherman



David Sherman is dead. Tom Purdom used to introduce him as "walking time bomb David Sherman" because that was the slur upon combat vets at the time, but of course he was nothing of the sort. He was a good man and excellent company.

David began his writing career by writing military fiction because as an ex-marine who had served in Vietnam that was something he knew well. He moved on to military science fiction, both solo and in collaboration with Dan Cragg. His work was highly regarded.

It has been a long, long time since I've seen David. Many years ago, he moved to Florida for the weather (and, he would have said jokingly, the women). But it was always comforting to know he was out there, writing and enjoying life.

Now he's not, and the world is a sadder place for that. David was solid stuff. He had a good sense of humor. You'd have liked him.

Above: I found this picture on Facebook. I believe it was taken by his friend Colin Wolfe.



Thursday, November 10, 2022

My Philcon Schedule



 I've just received my tentative Philcon schedule. Since the convention begins in a week and a half, I'm pretty confident that this will also be my final schedule.  

Here it is:

Start Time      Duration       Room Name                                Title

Fri 7:30 PM    25 Min                204                      Readings: Michael Swanwick                       
Sat 1:00 PM    50 Min                217                      Autographs: Tom Purdom, Michael Swanwick         
Sat 2:00 PM    50 Min          Plaza 3                      We ARE Living in Philip K. Dick’s Future, Aren’t We?
Sat 4:00 PM    50 Min          Plaza 3                      The Excitement and Frustration of Exoplanets     
Sat 9:00 PM    50 Min          Plaza 3                      Women Speculative Fiction Authors Before 1970   

Sun 10:00 AM  50 Min        Crystal 2                    The Timey-Wimeyness of Time    




Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Opening Paragraph du Jour



Herein begins an informal occasional series. The opening paragraph of Anais Nin's Collages:

Vienna was the city of statues. They were as numerous as the people who walked the streets. They stood on the tips of the highest towers, lay down on stone tombs, sat on horseback, kneeled, prayed, fought animals and wars, danced, drank wine, and read books made of stone. They adorned cornices like the figureheads of old ships. They stood in the heart of fountains glistening with water as if they had just been born. They sat under trees in the parks summer and winter. Some wore costumes of other periods, and some no clothes at all. Men, women, children, kings, dwarfs, gargoyles, unicorns, lions, clowns, heroes, wise men, prophets, angels, saints and soldiers preserved for Vienna an illusion of eternity.

Isn't that charming? Note the lack of specificity, the suppression of commas outside the lists, the quick turns of invention, the way the author keeps it lucid and interesting throughout. She really did know what she was doing.


Friday, November 4, 2022

My Worldcon Brunch-Interview with Scott Edelman



 One morning at the Chicago Worldcon earlier this year, Scott Edelman treated me to brunch and recorded a rambling-filled anecdote interview for his Eating the Fantastic podcast. At least, that's how I vaguely remember it. While I value what I've written immensely, I don't pay much attention to what I've said. It leave my mouth, enters the air, and disappears.

But here's how Scott remembers it:

We discussed his response to learning a reader of his was recently surprised to find out he was still alive, how J. R. R. Tolkein turned him into a writer, why it took him 15 years of trying to finally finish his first story, how Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann taught him how to write by taking apart one of his tales and putting it back together again, why it was good luck he lost his first two Nebula Awards the same year, the good advice William Gibson gave him which meant he never had to be anxious about awards again, which friend’s story was so good he wanted to throw his own typewriter out the window in a rage, the novel he abandoned writing because he found the protagonists morally repugnant, why he didn’t want to talk about Playboy magazine, the truth behind a famous John W. Campbell, Jr./Robert Heinlein anecdote, and much more.

So apparently I was pretty interesting. 

You can find Scott's blog and instructions on where to find the interview here


Above: Photo and copyright by Scott Edelman.



Monday, October 31, 2022

Sunday, October 30, 2022



This is your fate and you cannot avoid it.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Friday, October 28, 2022



You and your beloved will copulate in darkness.


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Tuesday, October 25, 2022



you'll go down into the suffocating soil.


Monday, October 24, 2022



With a scream--of ecstasy? of terror?--


Gregory Frost's Rhymer Trilogy - First Volume Out This Summer!!!



 Marianne and I had dinner last night with Gregory and Barbara Frost and it was of course a delightful evening. If you know them, you're the exact opposite of surprised. They are smart, warm, caring people--and I could dump a few dozen more adjectives on them, all admiring. Did I mention witty? That too.

One thing we talked about was Greg's Rhymer Trilogy, volume one of which (appropriately enough titled Rhymer) comes out this summer. I am excited about this because I consider Gregory Frost to be one of the best fantasy writers at work today. Here's what the publisher had to say:

Thomas the Rhymer, legendary 12th Century figure of traditional Scottish balladry, as you've never seen him before.

Rhymer brings to life Thomas the Rhymer, legendary 12th Century figure of traditional Scottish balladry, as a champion who must battle the diabolical Yvag—an alien race thought to be elves and faeries—hellbent on conquering our world. This saga pits Thomas against the near-immortal elves, first with only his wits, then with powers of his own that enable him to take on these evil creatures throughout the centuries. He’s known by many names over time—Tám Lin, Robyn Hood, and numerous other incarnations reaching into the present—but at his heart he is still True Thomas, one man doing all he can to save us all from a powerful foe.

When his brother is snatched right before his eyes, Thomas hunts for justice and discovers that not only do these “elves” steal people, but they also are skinwalkers who occupy humans in positions of power. Their goal: to obliterate humanity and take over our world. When Thomas is dragged into their alien realm, he’s imprisoned and barely escapes alive, but in the process he gains near-immortality and the ability to transform himself. Will it be enough to protect his loved ones and defeat this powerful foe?

Which sounds pretty good already. But we discussed this and the forthcoming books in some detail and I can tell you that it's a lot more interesting than whoever wrote the above makes it sound. No dis intended; it's just that it's a more complexly interesting set of ideas and situations that Greg is working with than can easily be boiled down to a couple of hundred words. 

I apologize that I can't share any of that with you. But it was told me in confidence.

Anyway, I look forward to this book (and the others) with fierce anticipation. I recommend that you do too.


Sunday, October 23, 2022



Two bony hands will seize your head and push down.



Saturday, October 22, 2022



For an instant, you'll stare into the empty sockets of a madly grinning skull.


Friday, October 21, 2022





When you're buried to the chin, your one true love will breach the surface.


Thursday, October 20, 2022



Down you'll be drawn, hip-deep, chest-deep.



Wednesday, October 19, 2022






Brief Essays on Genre, Last Part: On Posterity



On Posterity


“The void awaits surely all them that weave the wind.” James Joyce.


--Michael Swanwick


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Monday, October 17, 2022




 But already you'll be thigh-deep in the ground.