Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night

Here's wishing each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2012.

Monday, December 5, 2011

RIP, Darrell K. Sweet

I just learned that we lost one of our greatest artists today.  As reported by Locus Online and Tor, Darrell K. Sweet passed away this morning.  He was one of the most recognizable artists in the field.  I grew up reading books he illustrated, and he was a personal favorite of mine.  I'll post a more personal eulogy sometime in the next day or so.  It's late, and this is one I want to take my time with.  Darrell K. Sweet, 1934-2011; he will be missed.

Trying Twitter

I'm giving Twitter a try.  Hopefully this experiment will be more successful than Facebook was back in the summer.  (I need to figure out why Facebook converted the blog page into a personal page, which I don't want, and try again.)  Anyway, in case any of you are interested, here's where you can follow me:  @AdvntrsFntastc.  Hopefully, I can figure how to get the avatar to load before the day is over.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Paths of Righteousness Lead to Many Worlds

The Paths of Righteousness
James Reasoner
various ebook formats $2.99, trade paper $8.99

If the name James Reasoner doesn't come to mind when you think of contemporary science fiction authors, there's a reason for that.  Science fiction isn't what he mainly writes.  James Reasoner is a noted western and crime writer.  If you like either of those genres and haven't read him, you should check him out.

Science fiction has always been one of my favorite genres, in fact the only one I read for a while when I was a kid.  So when I read about this collection on James' blog, I quickly snagged myself a copy.  Good thing I did, too.  James Reasoner is a practitioner of the art form created when Urg first painted his version of the mammoth hunt on the cave wall; he's a storyteller.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo: It's Over (Sort Of)

Well, I did it.  I managed to complete 50,000 words of a novel.  Fifty thousand, forty-five to be exact.  That's nowhere near all of the novel.  I'm estimating this one will run to at least 70,000, possibly more.  But to "win" NaNoWriMo, you had to complete just 50,000.  Which I did in spite of myself.

I say in spite of myself because I turned out to be my own biggest obstacle.  This is by far the longest thing I've attempted.  I didn't plan it out in detail well enough.  I usually have a general idea of where I want a story to end up.  Getting there is just details.  The devil, as they say, is in the details.  This novel has three viewpoint characters, four if you count the captain who only appears in flashbacks at the end of the major sections.  The characters are in separate locations when the book opens, and I alternate chapters featuring each of them.  I found myself writing more than one chapter about a character, depending how well I understood that part of the character's story arc in relation to the other story arcs.  I would then go back and insert chapters where needed.  I found this to be both a stressful and liberating way to write.

Anyhoo, I've not been blogging much in the last couple of weeks because I was trying to make the deadline.  I'm going to step away from the novel for a few days, finish up a fantasy mystery novella that's about 1500 words from being done, start reading some of the books that have been piling up.  I'm also going to think about some details I didn't work out very well before I started writing a month ago.  I hope to finish the first draft of the novel over the holidays, get it to the beta readers, and get to work on the second book in the series.  I've learned a lot about writing and how (not) to approach a novel, and I'm eager to put some of those things into practice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things I'm Thankful for

There are a number of things I'm thankful for.  Here's a partial list.

First of all, my family, both immediate and extended.  (This includes the dogs.) 

Our health.

Employment, both for me and my wife.   And not just a job in my case, but something I find fulfilling.  While I'm not sure it's something I want to do for the rest of my life, I don't dread going to work every day.

A place to live, food to eat, cars to drive. 

Books to read.  Lots and lots and lots of books to read.  And vintage pulps.  And comics and graphic novels.  And opportunities to write.

The good things blogging has brought into my life:  new friends, review copies of books from both authors and publishers, and outlet for my writing.

That I live in the greatest country in the world, where I am free to say what I like, read what I like, and worship God in the manner I see fit.

May God bless each and every one of you as much as He's blessed me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RIP, Anne McCaffery

Locus Online is reporting that SFWA Grand Master Anne McCaffery died at home in Ireland of a massive stroke on November 21, 2011.  She was 85.  McCaffery was author of the long-running Pern series.  In addition to Pern, McCaffery was the author of a number of other series, which she often co-wrote with up and coming authors who went on to have significant careers.  These authors include, but are not limited to, Jody Lynne Nye, Elizabeth Moon, Elizabeth Anne Scarborough, and Mercedes Lackey.  McCaffery won a number of awards for her work, including the Nebula and Hugo (she was the first woman to win both).  In 2006 she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Angry Robot Announces New Authors

The following is a press release from Angry Robot Books:


Like most successful publishers, Angry Robot generally only accepts submissions through literary agencies. Earlier this year, however, the company ran a pilot programme to see how many unpublished - but talented - authors there were without representation. During March, Angry Robot invited all un-agented authors to submit completed manuscripts as part of an "Open Door Month". Over 990 novels were submitted during that period.

Today, Angry Robot are delighted to announce the first acquisitions from the first Open Door Month. Two new authors, each with a minimum two book deal, have now joined the Angry Robot family.

Cassandra Rose Clarke was the first signing to come through this process. Her two novels for Angry Robot show the versatility of this important new talent.

'The Mad Scientist's Daughter' is the heartbreaking story of the journey from childhood to adulthood, with an intriguing science fictional twist. And 'The Assassin's Curse' is a fantastical romp, starring Ananna, a no-nonsense lady pirate, born into pirate royalty.

Clarke said: "I'm beyond excited to have Angry Robot publishing my first-ever novel, and not only because of the delightful coincidence that my novel involves a robot who is, on occasion, angry. Angry Robot's reputation is stellar and their author list incredibly impressive - I'm humbled to be included amongst their ranks!"

We take a somewhat darker turn with a pair of books from Lee Collins - 'The Dead of Winter' and 'She Returns From War'. Both novels follow Cora Oglesby, a bounty hunter with a reputation for working supernatural cases.

Collins said: "As excited as I am at the prospect of rubbing shoulders with Angry Robot's outstanding authors, publication was really a secondary goal of my submitting to them. My primary reason was the hope, however slim, of cybernetic augmentation."

Both deals were negotiated by Angry Robot's editor, Lee Harris, who stated: "There is an enormous amount of talent out there, waiting to be discovered, and I am thrilled we have found two great new talents as part of our search."

Both authors' debut novels will be published by Angry Robot in autumn 2012, with their second books scheduled for spring 2013.

Following the success of the project, Angry Robot expects to run a similar Open Door period in spring 2013, details of which are to be confirmed at a later date.

Ok, that's the end of the press release.  Further details and author photos can be found on the Angry Robot website.  Advanced reading copies of  The Mad Scientist's Daughter and The Dead of Winter will be available at some point.  I'll download them and post the reviews, here for the former and at Adventures Fantastic for the latter.  Angry Robot is one of the more innovative publishers out there.  I'm eager to see what new authors they've discovered.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NoNoWriMo: Week 1

Well, I've managed to write every day of the first week of NaNoWriMo, although I haven't quite made the daily goal I set out for myself when I started.  As of right now, I'm 2,000 words behind and have written just over 12,000, or to put it another way, I'm basically one day behind.  The weekend wasn't good for writing, so I didn't make my quota every day.  Tonight isn't looking good at all.  My son's final soccer practice is this evening; they're playing for the championship this weekend.  I've got a stack of exams sitting here that I need to finish grading before tomorrow morning.  If the morning goes like today and yesterday did, then I can't count on finding time to grade in the morning. 

On the whole, though, I'd say the first week has been a success.  Taking a day or so off shouldn't kill my momentum.  I need to think about what each of the three viewpoint characters is going to go through next to get them where I ultimately want them to end up.

Monday, November 7, 2011

John Joseph Adams Buys Lightspeed and Fantasy Magazines

John Joseph Adams
Prime Books announced today that it is selling both Lightspeed and Fantasy magazines to current editor John Joseph Adams.  The sale is part of the expansion of Prime Books.  Publisher Sean Wallace stated that the book publishing side of his job was taking more and more time.  Adams is a highly respected editor not only of the magazine but of numerous anthologies as well.  Adams issued the following statement:  "It’s an exciting time to be involved in publishing.  Models are changing and so is the readership, and online magazines have a better shot at sustainability than ever have before. I believe the possibilities for growth are tremendous, and I look forward to staying in the vanguard of this new frontier."

With the announcement last week that Realms of Fantasy was closing again, it's been an eventful week in sff periodical publishing.  As I promised when I posted about RoF I'll have more to say about these changes in a post later this week.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Excerpt One

The first three days of NaNoWriMo have been productive.  I wrote 2,000 words the first day, a little over 2400 yesterday, and just under 1600 tonight, bringing my total to slightly over 6,000.  This is a good pace, and it will come to a screeching halt tomorrow.  I've got commitments tomorrow night which will keep me away from the computer.  There's always the weekend to try to catch up and gain a little cushion.

I've written what amounts to three chapters introducing three of the main viewpoint characters.  I'll introduce a significant fourth viewpoint character later in a flashback, whose present whereabouts will be a mystery for a while.  None of the three characters I've introduced have any idea where they are or how they got there when we first meet them, nor do they know anything about the nature of the planet they're on.  Discovering that will be a major portion of the storyline.  I don't have a working title yet, still kicking a few ideas around.

Anyway, here's what will probably be the first chapter, in rough draft form with little to no editing.

Lieutenant Jacob Vasquez dangled over the river, trying to convince himself to let go of the branch he was hanging from.  There were enough rocks below, and the drop was high enough, even with this planet’s slightly lower gravity, to make such a course of action potentially fatal.
He looked back down at the base of the tree for inspiration.  Three creatures from a nightmare clawed the trunk.  They were as tall as large dogs and just as wide.  Short black fur covered their backs and eight legs, fading to grey on their undersides.  Square heads protruded from the bodies, connected directly to the torsos without benefit of necks.  One looked up at him, opened a mouth filled with needle sharp fangs, and gave what Vasquez could only think of as a cross between a yodel and a whine.
The call was answered from within the forest, and two more of the things scurried from the trees.  They moved incredibly fast for their size. 
One of the newcomers made a threatening noise at one the creatures already there, and received bared fangs in response.  The one that had yodeled ignored the arrival of the two and began clawing its way up the trunk. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 1

Well, I got 2,000 words done today.  That's not counting tomorrow's exam that I wrote this afternoon.  If I can get between 1500 and 2,000 words completed every day, not counting any revisions, then I should make my goal, which is the minimum 50,000.  Since this is my first year to participate, I'll have a better feel for what is a reasonable goal next year.  I know I won't be able to match that number every day, but if I shoot for it, I'll get closer than if I don't.  I plan to write more than that on weekends and over Thanksgiving. 

So far, so good.  I won't post a word count every day, but I will from time to time.  When I get a good chapter done, I plan to post it as a sample.  I've got several different viewpoint characters on different parts of the planet when the novel opens that will have to be introduced, so I'll pick the introductory chapter I like best.  Tonight's chapter isn't quite done, so I figure at the rate I'm writing, a chapter every couple of days is what I'm most likely to get done.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo Starts in 2 Days

National Novel Writing Month, usually called NaNoWriMo, starts on Tuesday.  It's a month long project in which aspiring writers attempt to write a novel in a month.  For the month of November, I'm going to be focusin on my personal writing.  That's not going to leave a lot of time for blogging, reading, or much else.  From time  to time I'll post about how the writing is going as well as provide an excerpt or two.  I'll still be doing some blog posts on both Adventures Fantastic and Futures Past and Present, but they'll mostly be devoted to short fiction or brief news or opinion pieces.  I'll review the novel I'm currently reading, and that will probably be it as far as novels go for a few weeks.

In case you're wondering what my novel is about, it's a sword and planet adventure with a lot of hard science thrown in.  Think of a blend of Leigh Brackett, Robert E. Howard, and Larry Niven with a dash of Jack Vance.  At this point, I'll be focusing on two or three different characters from the same space ship trying to survive at different places under very different circumstances on the same alien planet.  Of course, I could change my mind and give each character their separate novel.  I'll just have to wait and see. 

Fifty thousand words is the minimum required to "win" NaNoWriMo.  I know I can write that much; the thing that will be hard will be writing that much in one month.  Thankfully the Thanksgiving holidays should allow me some time to catch up if I fall behind.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Indie Books: A Tsunami of....?

You hear a lot of talk in the publishing world these days about indie published ebooks.  Some think they're nothing short of the salvation of western civilization because they allow authors to connect directly to readers.  Others, to a large extent publishers, editors, and agents, insist that indie publishing will bury us all under a tsunami of crap.  And of course you every possible position in between those two extremes.

A couple of days ago, Passive Guy at The Passive Voice, posted something about a publisher reporting ebook sales.  In the comments section, Mick Griggs included a link to this essay.  (Thanks, PG and Mick.)

Mark Williams, the author of that essay insists, quite convincingly, that instead of  a tsunami of crap, we're starting to see a tsunami of excellence.  If you have an ereader, are thinking about buying an ereader, or even interested in what effect ereaders and epublishing will have on your future book buying, you should check that essay out.

I decided to do a little commentary myself, based on some things I've posted lately over at Adventures Fantastic.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Amazon Launches New Imprint Focusing on Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Amazon announced this morning that it is launching a new science fiction, fantasy, and horror imprint, 47North.  Several top names have signed on, including Dave Duncan,  Neal Stephenson, and Greg Bear.  The imprint will publish in Kindle, print, and audio formats.  The entire press release can be found here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Amazing Stories Trademark Bought

Steve Davidson (Crotchety Old Fan) has acquired the trademark to Amazing Stories.  He is looking at relaunching the magazine online with containing new and reprint stories with a strong social networking component.  You can read his press release here.  There are further updates here and here.  The website for the magazine is up and is  There's not much there yet, but check back frequently.  I used to pick up Amazing Stories regularly and am thrilled it will be coming back.  Thanks, Steve, and best of luck. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Report on Fencon

Fencon VII/Deep South Con 49 was held in Dallas (well really, Addison), TX on September 23-25.  While I can't say that a good time was had by all, a good time was certainly had by me.  Everything had a steampunk theme, with many of the guests being steampunk authors.

As usual, there was much more on the programming than I had time to attend.  I didn't make it to either slide show by the artist guests, Vincent DiFate or Stephan Martiniere. Not because I don't like those artists.  I do.  It was just that there were other things conflicting with their slideshows.

Rather than try to sum up the whole convention, I'll hit some of the high points of the events I attended, then post some pictures.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Roiling Adventure

Trent Jamieson
Angry Robot Books
$7.99, 432 p. mass market paperback
$5.99 ebook

The publisher's website classifies this one as fantasy, but I'm going to pick nits and call it science fiction (which is why I'm reviewing it here rather than over on Adventures Fantastic), or as a compromise, science fantasy.  Unless I misread something, this one takes place on another planet thousands of years in the future, after at least one civilization's global collapse.  In other words, Roil is science fiction that reads like fantasy.

I've never read William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land, but from what I've read about it, I suspect there are similarities between that work and this one.  The subtitle of the book, or rather the title of the series, is The Nightbound Land, after all.   In addition, Roil has elements of steam punk with a dash of pulp adventure thrown in.  There are airships, but they're organic, living things.  There are examples of advanced technology in a milieu of Victorian era science.  There's a man who is at least one thousand years old.  There are strange races that are only partly human.  And a cast of Dickensian characters.  If any of these appeal to you, then you should check this book out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Long Looks at Short Fiction: "D.O.C.S." by Neal Barrett, Jr.

"D.O.C.S." by Neal Barrett, Jr.
Asimov's Science Fiction
September 2011

I know, I know, this is the previous issue, not the current one.  It's still available at Fictionwise.  I'm behind on my reading, so sue me.  Most of you have a stack of things to be read just like I do.  Are you caught up?  I didn't think so.

Before you read further, be aware this post contains spoilers.

Friday, August 26, 2011


It's been a while since I posted here, and I regret that.  I've been swamped with classes starting this week.  My job duties have changed with the new semester, so I've got a whole new set of plates to juggle.  Also, I have an out of town job interview on Monday that I've been trying to find time to prepare for.  After I get back, I should start posting again.  My goal when I set this blog up was to try to post at least once a week.  When things settle down, I should be able to meet that deadline at least part of the time.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Congratulations to the Hugo Award Winners

The Hugos were given out last night at Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention, in Reno, Nevada.

The winners are:

Best Novel:                      Blackout/All Clear                             Connie Willis

Best Novella:                   The Lifecycle of Software Objects      Ted Chiang

Best Novellette:                "The Emperor of Mars"                        Allen M. Steele

Best Short Story:              "For Want of a Nail"                            Mary Robinette Kowal

Best Related Work            Chicks Dig Time Lords                      Lynne M. Thomas
                                                                                           and Tara O'Shea, eds.

Best Graphic Story           Girl Genius Volume 10:                        Phil and Kaja
                                                                                            Folio, art by Phil Folio

Best Dramatic Presentation , Long Form:                Inception

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form:                Doctor Who:  "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang"

Best Professional Editor, Long Form:                      Lou Anders

Best Professional Editor, Short Form:                     Sheila Williams

Best Professional Artist:                                         Shaun Tan

Best Semiprozine:                                                  Clarkesworld

Best Fanzine:                                                         The Drink Tank

Best Fan Artist:                                                      Brad W. Foster

Also, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, which is not a Hugo, went to Lev Grossman

Futures Past and Present/Adventures Fantastic would like to congratulate all the nominees and especially the winners.  A list of winners and all nominees can be found here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

RIP, Colin Harvey

It is with great sadness that Futures Past and Present/Adventures Fantastic learned today of the death of Colin Harvey.  He passed away of a stroke at the age of 50.  He was far too young.  Angry Robot Books has posted this remembrance.  I've only read one of his novels, Winter Song.  It was one of the first books I reviewed.  I loved it and was hoping he would return to that universe.

He will be missed.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Kate.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Further Adventures on the Planet of Adventure: Jack Vance's Servants of the Wankh

Servants of the Wankh
Tschai:  Planet of Adventure 2
Jack Vance

In the second installment of the Planet of Adventure series, Adam Reith and his companions Traz Onmale and the Dirdirman Anacho set out to return the Flower of Cath to her homeland and while there receive help in building a spaceship to return home.  Due to a convoluted standard of shame that I'm not sure I ever completely understood, she ends up jumping overboard during the voyage.

Much of the first book was a sword and planet adventure.  It may have been because I was constantly being interrupted while reading Servants over a period of days, rather than finishing it in a single day, but it seemed to me that this was more an adventure of wit and manners.

Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of adventure.  Our hero is stranded on the Planet of Adventure, after all.  Much of the conflict was cultural rather than physical, with wit and cunning being two of the weapons employed.  That's especially true after they reach Cath. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Finally, A Voice of Reason

Lee Martindale has weighed in on the ratio of male/female writers in Year's Best lists and anthologies.  I tried to post a reply, but wasn't able to.  I don't have a Livejournal account, and I couldn't figure out how to log in from Google, so I'm replying here.  Finally, someone with credentials who speaks with a voice of reason.  If you read my interview with Lee, this shouldn't surprise you.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Jetsons and Modern Technology

I'm trying to finish a book to discuss here, but in the meantime here's an interesting comparison to the Jetsons and modern technology.

Monday, August 1, 2011

They Don't Write 'em Like That Anymore: Jack Vance's City of the Chasch

City of the Chasch
Tschai, Planet of Adventure:  1
Jack Vance

This is the first book in a tetralogy.  I picked it up along with books 3 and 4 when I was in high school, but couldn't find the second volume.  This was in the pre-intenet days.  I eventually did come across it, but never got around to reading it at the time.

I'm at a conference this week, and needed something to read on the plane when I had to keep the Nook turned off.  (Preparing for the conference is why I haven't posted anything here lately.)  I had only read this book in the series, and that was...a long time ago.  I couldn't remember a thing about it and decided to give it another try.

I loved it!  This is an old fashioned planet story, about an Earthman on a lost world trying to make his way home through all sorts of exotic alien races.  It's the sort of stuff that's in far too short supply these days. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Death of a Dream and the Need for Manifest Destiny

I always knew I would see the first man on the moon.  I never dreamed I would see the last.
            Dr. Jerry Pournelle

Tomorrow, as I write these words, and earlier today, as I post them (thank you software glitches for the delay), the last Space Shuttle, Atlantis, will land for the final time.  And then, for all practical purposes, it will be over.  America’s manned space program will be gone.

Yes, I know we’ll still have an astronaut corps.  They will still fly, on other nation’s launch systems, to the International Space Station.  At least until it’s deorbited in a few years.  But we won’t have the capability to send our people into space.  We’ll simply be hitching rides on some else’s rockets.  Like other countries used to do on ours.  We will no longer be the wold's leader in manned space exploration.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pohl Blogs About Wolheim

Over at The Way the Future Blogs, Fred Pohl has started  to reminisce about Donald A. Wolheim, best remembered as the founder of DAW books.  This is the first of I'm not sure how many, but Fred has written about a number of his colleagues.  If you're interested in the early history of science fiction, you should definitely check this site out.

Borders Closing for Good

Borders, unable to find a buyer, has announced that it will liquidate and close all remaining stores.  Passive Guy at The Passive Voice has summarized announcements from a variety of sources, each with a slightly different take on the situation.  You can read PG's post here.  The comment that most disturbs me, after the fact that nearly 11,000 people will lose their jobs, is that some publishers are now planning on smaller print runs since Borders will not longer be available to stock their books.  While this makes sense from a short-term business perspective, long term that could have a detrimental effect on authors.  With smaller print runs, sales will be lower.  Currently, if sales are low, publishers drop authors.  How with the new lower print runs affect the drop numbers?  Will we see more authors being dropped by publishers, resulting in fewer selections on fewer bookstore shelves?  Will those author be able to continue series that have existing audiences by indie publishing, or will the publishers control the rights to those series?  I suspect the answers to those questions with vary among authors and publishers, but I have concerns about some of my favorite midlist authors.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Long Looks at Short Fiction: "What's It Like Out There?" by Edmond Hamilton

With the final mission of the Shuttle ending next week, I thought this would be an appropriate story to write about. 

"What's It Like Out There?" is probably Hamilton's best known story, certainly his most reprinted, and arguably his best.  It concerns an astronaut, Frank Haddon, who has returned from the second Mars expedition and his adjustment back to civilian life on Earth.

A victim of Martian sickness, Haddon had just been released from the hospital in Arizona, where the Mars program is headquartered.  Before he goes home, he has to honor some promises to visit the families of some of the men who didn't come back.  As he travels, everyone wants to know what it's like out there.  They usually don't bother to listen to the reply, or try to tell him how dry/cold/etc. it's been locally. 

The truth is that the whole experience was a living hell.  Yet he can't bring himself to hurt the grieving families and finances with the facts, so he makes things up about how they died.  Rather than pain, their passings are peaceful; rather than shot as a muntineer, one's death is described as an accident. 

A Public Service Announcement Concerning Slave Leia

Anything I had to say about this would fail to do it justice.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Amazon Overcharging for Ebooks

David Gaughran  has posted a disturbing essay on why ebooks cost more through Amazon than in the US and a select few other countries.  You should read David's post, especially if you live outside the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Ireland, and a few other countries.  In most of the world, including France, Spain, Israel, South Africa, India, and Brazil just to name a few off the top of my head, there's a $2 surcharge added in addition to any sales tax or VAT.  This surcharge goes directly to Amazon, not to a government, and certainly not to the author.  While most of my readers are American, I know there are a few in countries in which Amazon slaps this surcharge.  David is encouraging his readers to buy through Smashwords or iTunes, because there surcharge isn't added there and the author gets more money.

Some of you may have noticed that I've recently become an Amazon Associate.  You may be wondering:  Will Amazon be displeased with this post, will they revoke my Associate status, and will I lose a revenue stream in they do?  The answers to those questions are:  Almost certainly, maybe, and not at all.  If Amazon were to even notice this small blog, they would almost certainly be displeased and could very well revoke my Associate status.  But at the present time, I wouldn't lose a dime.  Because so far I haven't made any money by being an Associate.  (Considering a recent post which stated that Locus Online, which probably gets more hits in a month than both my blogs combined have ever gotten total, only generated a few hundred dollars a month from links to Amazon, I'm not exactly planning my retire on my earnings.)

I'm less concerned about ad revenue than I am fair trade practices.  What Amazon is doing is hurting authors in the long run, as David so eloquently explained.  Since I hope to begin doing some indie publishing myself within the next year, I'm taking the long term approach rather than the short term by not offending Amazon.  Plus it's just the right thing to do.

Obituary for Martin H. Greenberg by Fred Pohl

I posted a notice about the passing of Martin H. Greenberg a few weeks ago.  This morning I found this remembrance of him posted by Fred Pohl, telling how they met.  Fred has been updating his memoir, The Way the Future Was, over at his blog, The Way the Future Blogs.  If you've not checked out his posts about the people and events from over 70 years of being involved in the field of science fiction, you should.  Fred hasn't just observed much of the history of the field, he's made a great deal of it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Amazon Piracy: A Disturbing Case of a Writer Being Ripped-Off

Passive Guy over at the Passive Voice posted this disturbing news story a little while ago.    It seems author Ruth Ann Nordin is having a problem getting a pirated copy of one of her books removed from Amazon.  They seem to be dragging their feet about removing the stolen book and giving her the runaround.  In an act of solidarity with Ms. Nordin, I'm passing this information along in hopes that enough people will raise enough of a stink that Amazon will respond quickly and do the right thing.  They did for her other two books that were stolen.  Good luck, Ms. Nordin.  As an aspiring author, you have my full support.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why You Soon Won't be Able to Find a Good Book in a Store

I was reading one of Kris Rusch's columns over at The Business Rusch the other day, the topic being shelf space disappearing in book stores.  At that reminded me of an unpleasant experience I had the other day in Wal-Mart, one that is now repeated every time I walk into the store (which isn't nearly as often as it was a few weeks ago).  If you haven't read Kris's column, please go read it now.  I'll wait.

There, that didn't take too long, did it?  Ms. Rusch brings up some very disturbing points, and while some of them are negative, others are mixed.  For what it's worth, here's my take on things, including why I'm not going to be shopping at Wal-Mart as much in the future.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Independence Day Greetings

I'm on the road this weekend and will have limited computer access, so I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy Independence Day.  If you are a citizen of a country that doesn't celebrate American Independence, please accept my wishes for a good weekend.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Long Looks at Short Fiction: "Coordinated Attacks" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Analog, July-August, 2011, $5.99

I know, I know.  That's the previous issue of Analog.  The new issue came out last week.  I'm a little behind.

Anyway, you can still buy this issue in electronic format from Fictionwise by clicking on the link above.

I wanted to look at the novella by Kristine Kathryn Rusch in this issue.  It's a science fiction thriller set on the Moon at least 200 years or so in the future.  (The exact date isn't given but there are references to historical events that require that sort of time frame.)  If you haven't read it, it's worth your time to do so for reasons you know I'm going to explain.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gods of Justice

Gods of Justice
Kevin Hosey and K. Stoddard Hayes, ed.
Mark Offutt and Joel Gomez, ill.
Cliffhanger Books, 205 p., ebook $4.99, print (forthcoming)

This is turning out to be the summer of the superhero.  Not only are we seeing more superhero movies than we ever have in a single summer, but print-wise superheroes seem to be on the rise as well. 

Case in point, Gods of Justice, edited by Kevin Hosey and K. Stoddard Hayes.  This the sophomore publication of Clffhanger Books, a new small press.  Their first publication was an anthology of paranormal romance.  It was a nominee for Best Book of 2010 for The Romance Review.  That means they set a high standard their first time out.

The question is, do they live up to it in this book?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

RIP, Martin H. Greenberg

Dean Wesley Smith is reporting that Martin H. Greenberg passed away this morning after a long illness.  If you've ever picked up an anthology is the last twenty or thirty years, there's a good chance his name was on the cover, usually following the name of a well known author or editor.  (Isaac Asimov comes to mind as the most prominent, but he was far from the only one.)  If the anthology was published by DAW books, then his name was almost certainly on the cover.  Greenberg was the publisher of Tekno Books, one of the leading book packagers in the world.  (A packager puts the project together, then sells it to publisher.)  While his work was often behind the scenes, he was a major player in fantasy and science fiction publishing, as well as a number of other genres.  I never met Mr. Greenberg, but I've always heard only good things about him.  His passing is a major loss to the science fiction and fantasy fields.  Think of him the next time you read one of the anthologies he put together.  Dean Wesley Smith worked with Greenberg and has written a moving eulogy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Engineering Infinity

If you've been reading science fiction for any length of time, the name Jonathan Strahan should be familiar to you.  He's edited or co-edited an number of successful  and critically acclaimed anthologies, such as The New Space Opera and The New Space Opera 2, both co-edited with Gardner Dozois, and the Eclipse series (the newest, Eclipse 4: New Science Fiction and Fantasy, has just been published) as well as a Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year series, now up to Volume 5.

The book at hand is Engineering Infinity, a collection of original stories that are clearly science fiction.  Not speculative fiction, not fantasy, not slipstream.  Pure science fiction, much but not all of it of the "hard" variety.  It's been on my shelf for a while, something on the general order of about five or six months.  I recently decided to stop dipping into it and finish it.

Let's take a quick scan of the contents, shall we? 

Opening Salvo

Welcome to Futures Past and Present.  This blog will be similar to my other blog, Adventures Fantastic, only instead I'll be focusing on science fiction here. 

There will be some differences, though.  For one, as far as fantasy is concerned, Adventures Fantastic tends to stick to relatively new fantasy (or at least recent), with the exception of certain classic authors, such as Robert E. Howard.  The historical adventure and occasional historical fact post there are a little more broad ranging.  I'm going to take a more historical approach here in that I'll strive to have a fairly even mix of old and new science fiction.  There are a number of authors who have been forgotten that I'll try to bring to your attention.  If you've ever read one of Bud Webster's Pat Masters columns, you know what I'm talking about.  Where Bud tends to focus on the authors and their oeuvre as a whole, I'll look more specifically at individual works. 

Of course I'll review as many new science fiction books, stories, and magazines as I can.  That should be about a third of what's covered here.

And the final third will be me blogging about whatever I have on my shelves that I either finally get around to reading or read again. 

In other words, this is going to be a wide ranging blog focusing on as many aspects of science fiction we can reasonably cover.  I'm going to do more experimenting with the format and layout than I do with Adventures Fantastic, so don't be too surprised if things change on a regular basis.