Saturday, August 17, 2013

And...We're Done

Okay, there are still a few things to fix over at the new blogs, but I'm going to go ahead and launch.  Everything that needs to be in place is.  All's that's left is cleanup and learning how to tweak details in WordPress, such as changing the background of the posts to something other than white.  (That apparently will involve editing the source code.  I'm going to make sure I know what I'm doing before I try that.)

Anyway, Blogger has been good, but it's time to move on to my own website.  All of the content here has been moved over, although as is the case with WordPress, the formatting didn't always follow.  Instead of running two blogs, I'm running four.

They are:

Adventures Fantastic:  heroic fantasy and historical adventure
Futures Past and Present:  classic and contemporary science fiction
Gumshoes, Gats, and Gams:  noir and detective fiction
Dispatches From the Lone Star Front:  Texas and Southwest history

All four are up and live.  There's a new email address associated with them,

See you over there.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Since I'm between summer school and the start of the fall semester (which always starts at least a week earlier for me than the students), I've actually had some time to work on the new website.  It's almost done.  There are a few things I've still got to do.  I'm not going to rush on them, since I don't want to do anything I can't reverse.  I've already made one bad call setting up WordPress that I later discovered WordPress won't let me change.  I don't want any others.

I've transferred the archives over to the new site.  Not everything made the transition.  WordPress dropped some of the formatting.  That includes breaks, meaning that all posts in their entirety are on one page, rather than the first few paragraphs with links to read the rest.  I can put them back in by hand, but that will take a while.  It won't be an immediate priority.  Once the site launches, all the posts will have the proper formatting.

I'm hoping to have everything ready to go by the first part of next week, if not over the weekend.  I'm not done with the details by any means.  In some respects WordPress is more complicated than Blogger, but it allows me more freedom to tweak some things.  There will be changes as I go along and learn things. But the basics will all be there when I launch.

So, unless something cataclysmic happens in the next few days, this is the penultimate post of Futures Past and Present in its Blogger incarnation.  The next post will be the announcement of the new (and hopefully improved) version, with a full set of links.  I'll still leave this site up, since any links to previous posts will point here.  At least until I change them, which may turn out to be more trouble than its worth. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Man Walks on the Moon for the First Time 44 Years Ago Today

On this day, July 20, in 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the Moon.  Armstrong, who left us last year, uttered the now immortal words, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."  He was the first of only 12 to do so.  I pray there will be more, preferably within my lifetime.

Rest in peace, Mr. Armstrong.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Big Changes Coming to the Blog

This is the same post I ran yesterday at Adventures Fantastic.  The readership of the two blogs overlaps quite a bit but isn't identical.  I'm reposting the announcement here in case anyone missed it.  If you saw it yesterday, it's the same thing, verbatim.

Traffic the last few days has been up quite a bit, so when traffic today was down, I wasn't too worried.  I've noticed that trend before, a drop in hits on the day following higher than usual traffic, even thought the traffic drop today is greater than usual.

Then I noticed something in my inbox.  It was from Google.  It had come in overnight, and at first glance I thought it was spam that had slipped through the filter.  Instead it was accusing this blog of being spam.  The second line read, in part, "As a result of your site having pure spam, Google has applied a manual spam action..."

Excuse me!?!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, James Gunn

James Edwin Gunn was born this day in 1923.  He's still with us, and I  hope he will be for many years to come.  His best known works include The Listeners (1972), Starbridge (with Jack Williamson, 1955), The Immortals (1964), and Kampus (1977).  He edited the six volume historical anthology, The Road to Science Fiction (1977, 1979, 1982, 1998). This is one of the best overviews of the field.  Nearly every story in it is a classic.  Gunn was a Professor of English at the University of Kansas and is currently Professor Emeritus and director of The Center for the Study of Science Fiction.  This is the organization that gives out the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which is not the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer) and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award at the Campbell Conference.  He was awarded a Grand Master Nebula by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2007.

I only met him once, in 1989 if memory serves.  There was some sort of gathering at the UNT in which a number of science fiction authors were present.  I think it was a meeting of the Science Fiction Research Association.  Among the other attendees were Fred Pohl, Jack Williamson, L. Sprague and Catherine de Camp, James Frenkel, and Brad Denton.  I remember Gunn as being a quiet and pleasant man.

Happy birthday, Dr. Gunn, and many happy returns!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Essential Space Opera

I've been in the mood for space opera lately.  And I have some in mind that I'm planning on reading.  Just for grins, and because in spite of my best efforts I can't read everything, I thought I would see what some of you think are the essential works of space opera.  So, what do you think are the essential works of space opera that every well-read fan should be familiar with?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

More Androids with a Dash of Grandmother

Madelaine Ashby
Angry Robot Books
UK Print
Date: 4th July 2013
ISBN: 9780857663108
Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print
Date: 25th June 2013
ISBN: 9780857663115
Format: Large (Trade) Paperback
R.R.P.: US$14.99 CAN$16.99
Date: 25th June 2013
ISBN: 9780857663122
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

I reviewed the initial novel in this series, vN, last year and was quite impressed by it.  It held my interest when I wasn't able to read it for days at a time.  As a result, I was looking forward to the sequel.

Unfortunately (for me, at least), the sequel didn't live up to its predecessor.  Part of that is because the viewpoint character in this one is Javier rather than Amy.  Javier doesn't interest me as much as Amy and her grandmother Portia do. Portia isn't dead, BTW.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

RIP, Jack Vance (1916-2013)

The science fiction and fantasy world is saddened to learn that Grandmaster Jack Vance passed away on May 26 in Oakland, California.  Vance was 96.

Locus Online has an obituary that summarizes Vance's life, plus there's the Wikipedia entry linked to in the above paragraph.  I'll not repeat what they've written.  Rather, I want to make this a more personal reflection.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Out on the Galaxy's Edge

Galaxy's Edge
Mike Resnick, editor
Published bimonthly
paper edition $5.99 Amazon  Barnes and Noble
ebook $2.99 direct from publisher Amazon Barnes and Noble
online free

I posted an announcement that this magazine was coming over on my companion blog, but since most of the contents are science fiction, I figured this would be the more appropriate place to review it. 

The format is one that we've seen before.  Stories are posted online for free over the period of an issue.  Subscriptions or individual issues are available for purchase.  Just off the top of my head, other practitioners of some variation this model include (but may not be limited to) Nightmare, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Apex.

That's pretty good company.  So how does Galaxy's Edge stack up?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Coming Home to the Moon

Apollo's Outcasts
Allen Steele
Pyr Books
Hardcover, $16.95, 330 p.
ebook  $9.99 Kindle Nook

Jamey Barlowe was born on the Moon, in the lunar colony Apollo, but has lived almost all of his life on Earth.  For his sixteenth birthday, he's going back.

He doesn't know this, and it's not the sort of birthday surprise you want to have.  Jamey's father works for the International Space Consortium.  Dad has just become a wanted man along with a number of his coworkers.  They signed a petition protesting a position taken by the Vice-President.  The President has just died, allegedly by assassination, and the new Commander in Chief is rounding up her political enemies. 

Jamey and one of his sisters, along with the children of several ISC employees, are hurriedly evacuated.  Jamey's other sister gets bumped from the ride to make room for a girl named Hannah. 

Jamey doesn't realize just how much his life is about to change, nor how much he's about to be forced to grow up.  None of the kids do.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ruby Serenades the Creative Fire Home

The Creative Fire:  Book 1 of Ruby's Song
Brenda Cooper
Pyr Books
Trade paperback, 351 pg $17.95
ebook $11.99 Kindle Nook
Cover art by John Picacio

Every now and then events conspire to keep you from accomplishing simple tasks, such as reading a book.  This one took me exactly a month.  Normally, I could finish a book like this in days.  But it's been one of those months.  Days have gone by when I haven't been able to get any reading done, and much of it was due to pesky little stuff that had to be dealt with so it would go away.

It wasn't because I didn't enjoy the book.  I did.  Revolutions on generation ships are a staple going back to Heinlein's Orphans of the Sky.  It's a narrow subgenre, but one I enjoy.

The basic set up is this:  The Creative Fire is a generation ship that is heading home to the planet Adiamo.  The crew has grown into a caste society in which the castes are delineated by color of uniform.  Ruby Martin is a grey, one of the workers on the lowest levels of the ship.  One of the disenfranchised.  She and her friends Onor and Marcelle are about to graduate from school and become adults.

Ruby is in a garden when the sky literally opens and a man falls down from an upper level.  The Creative Fire is beginning to show the strain of centuries in space.  This particular pod on the ship is breaking apart.  The man, Fox, is a blue.  Ruby knows they exist, but until now the only other color she's seen are the Reds, security forces which are junior league gestapo.

Her conversation with Fox makes her want more than a life of drudgery enough to challenge the status quo.  Although much of the ship's history has been deliberately hidden from the greys, Ruby knows she won't be the first to fight for freedom.  She hopes unlike some of her predecessors, she lives to enjoy that freedom.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Look at the First Issue of Waylines

I discovered a new online magazine today, Waylines.  It bills itself as a magazine of speculative fiction and film.  There was a promotional issue last month, which I missed.  I think the publication is bimonthly, but I never found anything that said explicitly what the publication schedule is.  I base the previous sentence on the fact that it does say edtior David Ress-Thomas will be writing a bimonthly editorial.

I want to take a look at the first issue.  This one contained an editorial, interviews with some of the writers, artists, and filmmakers, plus interviews with Cat Rambo and Christopher Barzak. 

Rather than start with the fiction, like I usually do, let's examine the films.