Friday, July 29, 2005

All the latest

Well, my postings have really fallen by the wayside because of the press of job duties, as well as the recent trips I have already mentioned.
Time to get caught up.
As I already pointed out, July presented some interesting challenges because of my having to spend three weekends in a row out of town.
As I mentioned, I spent the first weekend away on a job-related trip. The next I traveled to Tulsa for Conestoga.
Last weekend I attended a Turkey City workshop in Austin. This was the first workshop held A.S. (After Sterling). Bruce left last year to take a position as an creative genius in residence at a school of design in Pasadena, Ca. It's not like a tenured college professor position; he may return to Austin some day.
But in the meanwhile the Central Texas sci-fi and fantasy denizen have to live without him. The last Turkey City he hosted was last Oct. 30. I remember it well; that was the first writer's workshop I ever attended (not the first Turkey City, the first ever. Period).
Last April the North East Texas Writers Organization held a workshop in my hometown in Winnsboro, which I attended. One of the guests there was Dorothy Leblanc from Louisiana, who - as it turned out - was a member of the panel on Writer's Block I moderated at Conestoga.
So now a seasoned pro with TWO writer's workshops under my belt, I prepared to travel to Austin to my SECOND Turkey City, which was hosted by Lawrence Person. From what I know, he hosted it for many years, and then Bruce took it over, and now it's back in Lawrence.s hands.
The guests this time were Ted Chiang and Richard Butner. The other participants, in addition to Ted and Richard and Lawrence and I were Chris Nakashima-Brown, Howard Waldrop, Mikal Trimm, Steve Wilson, Ryan McReynolds, Stina Leicht, Jessica Reisman and Don Webb.
The workshop kicked off at 9 a.m., so to get there I left home at 4 a.m. I got a little turned around right before I got there and had to call Lawrence. I thought I lost because I found myself in Round Rock, but Lawrence is actually in the city of Round Rock, although he has an Austin address.
We all read each other's stories in the morning, broke for lunch at noon - which, to save time, Lawrence had delivered - and critiqued each other until 7:30 p.m.
Ted Chiang is obviously a gifted writer. The story he brought was an Arabian Nights knock-off. It reminded of what Kipling wrote in "The Conundrum of the Workshops", when he has the Devil say, "It's pretty, but is it art?"
I wasn't the only person who found the tale convoluted to the point that it was hard to follow.
I admitted to the other I have an essential lack of sympathy for stories with Arab settings after what the happy heathens have done to us. I don't think this went over well, but I don't care. Stories set in Germany didn't get much sympathy while the Nazis were galumphing. At this point I'm in the "Nuke 'em till they glow, then shoot them in the dark" kind of attitude.
Chris brought a story that was a ripping cyber-punk yarn (I never thought I'd find a story that would link "ripping yarn" and cyberpunk.
Howard's tale was a dark reworking of the story of Hansel and Gretel. Mikal whipped up a well-written and ambitious story about virtual communicating with the dead. Richard's tale was obtuse to the point I don't think anyone really got it.
Steve's story was a smart and funny take on reincarnation. Ryan's story was another ambitious story about how the unperfected with deal with eugenics in the future. Stina wrote a neat little perfect piece of fantasy. Jessica did a world-class piece of sci-fi world building. Don did a very good story about brain scrambling. Lawrence story's was a hoot which fulfilled the obligatory Chthulu requirement at every workshop.
Overall, top notch stuff. My story? Ah-hah, this is my blog. I don't have to say. Overall, though, when I think about the amount of work I invested in the story, I'm very happy with the feedback. I can probably expand it into three different stories later.
One thing I found fascinating was the range of technology among the participants. Chiang sat there and actually used a lap-top in his lap the whole time. He just leaned back from the table and kept tapping behind the screen on his lap. Never touched a piece of paper.
Meanwhile, I'm sitting next to Howard, who uses a fountain pen to make his notes.
As the workshop ended, I worked my previously-plotted plan, and placed a call to Gardner Dozois at home. I happened to recall it was his birthday. Thankfully, I actually got him on the phone, and after my best wishes, had the assembled members of the workshop sing him "Happy Birthday" as they stood around the table. I later passed the phone to Ted and Howard, and afterwards Lawrence talked to him.
By the time this folderol was all over, I was feeling very woozy. I obviously didn't get much sleep the night before, and all that starchy pizza at lunch wasn't good for my diabetes. A few goofy misstatements in conversations convinced me I would need to stay in Austin overnight.
Lawrence jumped in and was nice enough to offer his domicile - although I would have to sleep on the floor, and hit the hay after the party was over. No problem.
The party started at 8:30 and ran until past midnight. Ted knocked off about 12:30 and I think the last of us were Lawrence, Mikal, a young fellow named Patterson, and myself.
I crashed about 1:30 and slept like a log with a comforter underneath, a sheet and pillow Lawrence provided. Years ago when I was a boy scout I learned how to sleep on the ground, and I've never had a problem with that.
I got up before the others and hit the road before 9 a.m. I was back home by 3:30 p.m.
When chatting with Gardner, he said he's gotten his copy of the September Asimov's in the mail, with "A Rocket for the Republic". I was waiting all week for my copy, finally got it Thursday. Needless to say, I'm happy.
The wife and I are moving to a new home at the end of next week. I've been commuting 70 miles one-way to work each day since June 1st. This will cut my trip down to 8 miles. With the long commute and weekend trips, the Turkey City story was the only thing I've written in the past two months, but that should improve once I get settled in to the new home place.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Slepless in Texas

Boy, am I beat! Three weekends in a row out of town. First, off in San Antonio for the regional hearing of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission - this was a job-related trip.
Then to Tulsa for Conestoga, and then this past weekend to Austin for Turkey City.
As soon as I get caught up on my sleep I'll write more.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Good times in Tulsa

Back from Conestoga. My first panel wasn't until 4 p.m. Saturday, so I had plenty of time to travel. I left Saturday morning and got there about 1 p.m. Checked in, got organized in the Green Room, and went to three panels before mine.
The panel on Writer's Block was well attended - maybe 50 people there. All the panelists showed up, too; Caroline Spector, C.J. Mills, Deborah Leblanc and Richard Cox. I kept my watch on the table and tried to keep things running smoothly.
Things went well. Everyone had some useful tips and insights. Afterwards, a few of the bystanders complimented me.
The last thing for the day was Brad Denton's reading. He took the full hour, but it was fun. He was reading from his forthcoming book "Laughing Boy".
It was very much a black comedy, and I told Brad afterwards that while he was a great writer and loads of fun, I could never write what he does.
The same goes for Joe Lansdale, I added.
I'd been feeling puny all week long - I think I had some reaction to the Chinese food I at the previous Monday in San Marcos - or maybe I caught a germ - so I left and checked into a nearby Motel 6 (not the host Sheraton Tulsa - thereby saving $40) and was asleep by 8:30 p.m.
I didn't realize until the next morning that as a bunch of us were leaving Brad's reading, Brad and Howard and Jayme and others were all planning to go eat at a rib joint. They turned around and didn't see me, never realizing no one had actually mentioned any plans. Since I wasn't staying at the Sheraton, they couldn't find me. Oh, well. I needed the rest anyway.
The next morning I ran into Howard and we went across the street to get some breakfast. I wanted so eat in the supermarket, but Howard wanted to get back to the hotel because he was still writing a story he was planning to read at closing that day.
I went back with my coffee and some bagels, planning to eat in the Green Room. I took the lid off the coffee because I had forgotten to sweeten it, and at this point, I guess I was so shaky because of the diabetes that when I went to put the lid back on, I tipped the (large ) cup completely over.
Not only did it completely drench the table top, when the cup toppled the coffee shot straight across the table and into the lap of another guest sitting there. God almighty, I felt so bad. The poor young lady was drenched in coffee.
It took some time to mop up the table and I left for my 10 a.m. panel with the young lady trying to dry herself off.
The moral is, I guess, if I feel shaky in the morning, eat and drink right away.
I sat through the 10 a.m. panel rather stunned. Afterwards one of the convention organizers commented I didn't say much. Oh, heck.
My noon reading was opposite the reading by the Guest of Honor, George R.R. Martin. I had a very selected audience, but I read "Circe in Vitro" and "I Got You". What audience there was enjoyed it, and it certainly was good practice.
I hit the dealers' room after that I picked up three old hardcovers for $3. I was extremely happy to find a copy of the Alfred Bester collection "Starlight".
It's out of print, and had his best stories. Bester also wrote an introduction to each story, as well as an introduction.
Attended more panels, and then Howard's reading that ended the shebang. Didn't stay for the closing ceremonies. I was on the road by 4 p.m. and back home by 8:30. Slept like a rock.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Blink on Locus

Locus mag on-line has mentioned the July line-up at RevSF in it's list of "Blinks" on the sidebar. That's gotten me another mention - I had a similar one last summer, too.

If the RevSF story gets my current published within the next two weeks, it will be the sixth story of mine published in two months - June and July.

"Big Girl" - Ultraverse.
"The Hideaway" - Alienskin.
"The Honor of the Blue Devil Patrol" - Beyond Centauri.
"The Cast Iron Dybbuk" - Andromeda Spaceways.
"A Rocket for the Republic" - Asimov's
"Dialogue" - RevolutionSF

Strange Horizons has returned "V.S.A." Challenging Destiny returned "Body by Fisher". The editor asked that I send him another story.

Off tomorrow morning for Tulsa and Conestoga.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

To San Antone and back

I had to travel to San Antonio for a meeting Monday morning of the federal BRAC commission. Rather than overnight in San Antonio - with which I am totally unfamiliar - I stayed at the Sands Motel in Austin.
I'm much more familiar with Austin than SA - I go there four or five times a year now these days - and the Sands is right behind where Howard Waldrop lives.
I left around 11 a.m. Sunday and checked into the Sands about 4:45 p.m. By 5, I was over at Howard's. We bullshat a while and then went out for burgers and coffee.
Howard is an old pro and had some really funny and enlightening anecdotes. For example, I didn't know Neal Barrett, Jr. helped prevent WWIII from breaking out back in 1957.
I left for SA at 6:30 a.m. Monday morning and was there in plenty of time for the meeting which started at 8:30 a.m. I was back on the road before 10 a.m.
I had to stop and gas up on the way back to Austin, and since I stopped in San Marcos I went over to the university where Jayme Blaschke works. Missed, him, though, he was out on his lunch break. I ate at a local Chinese restaurant and gassed up the car.
Near the gas station I saw there was a Half Price Books, so I sauntered in. Hit the jackpot! I found six good books I could use, and bought them under $8.
Two were of Heinlein novels from the '80s I don't have, "Friday" and "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls". I also got the brilliant collection "City" by Clifford Simak, another great collection - "The Book of Poul Anderson, and "Tom Paine Maru" by L. Neil Smith.
The last book was a science fiction textbook from the 1970s by Harcourt Brace.
I was back home by about 6:30 p.m. Looking forward to Conestoga next weekend.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

July fiction

Jayme Blaschke at RevolutionSF has posted (via his email and blog) the latest news for RevSF. Since one good blog deserves another, I'm also posting what he had to say here, in the hopes even more people will read it:

Call the neighbors and wake the kids! The fine, fine stories we publish on RevolutionSF garnered an eye-popping FIVE honorable mentions from Gardner Dozois in the 22nd annual edition of The Year's Best Science Fiction, just out now from St. Martin's. If you've been reading our stuff in 2004 (and of course you are--you have discriminating tastes) you'll probably already have a good idea of which stories got the nod, but just in case you got all wrapped up reading Ron Moore's blog over on the SciFi Channel page and missed a few, here they are in all their glory: Steve Utley for "Little Whalers," K.D. Wentworth for "Blessed Assurance," Danith McPherson for "The Forever Cup at Bitsy's Cafe" and Lou Antonelli, who got all greedy on us and nabbed two nods for "Pen Pal" and "The Rocket-Powered Cat." In his yearly summation, Gardner had these kind words to say:

"There are also lots of sites that feature mostly slipstream and soft horror, among the best of which are RevolutionSF, which--although not always of reliable professional quality--did feature interesting stuff this year from Steve Utley, Lou Antonelli, Danith McPherson and others."

So, the question now becomes "Which of the following stories slated for July publication will bring home the brass ring come 2006?" I have my suspicions, including one that may well break through to earn honest-to-gosh "Best-of" reprint status, but I'll let you good people judge for yourselves.

RevolutionSF is the home for unique imaginative fiction.
Fiction at RevolutionSF in July will include:

July 8
"The Magi" by S.E. Wallace **Original Fiction**
"A House-Boat on the Styx" Chapter 8 by John Kendrick Bangs

July 15
"The Fate of Pol Krage" by John Garrison **Original Fiction**
"A House-Boat on the Styx" Chapter 9 by John Kendrick Bangs

July 22
"Leonardo's Hands" by Steven Gould and Rory Harper **Original Fiction**
"A House-Boat on the Styx" Chapter 10 by John Kendrick Bangs

July 29
"Dialogue" by Lou Antonelli **Original Fiction**
"A House-Boat on the Styx" Chapter 11 by John Kendrick Bangs

All stories can be read at www.revolutionsf.com

End quote.

I got an author's copy of the July issue of the YA mag "Beyond Centauri" today in the mail, along with a small check. "The Honor of the Blue Devil Patrol" is my first YA story ever published. It's also my second print magazine publication. "Double Crossing the Styx" in ContinuumSF last year was my first.

Obvously, I'm waiting with baited breath for Andromeda and Asimov's to come out this month. Here are a pair on links:

http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0508/nextissue.shtml

http://www.andromedaspaceways.com/issue_next.htm

Making plans to go to Conestoga next weekend. The summer is looking better and better.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Stockdale Rant

On the way to work yesterday, I heard on the radio that Admiral James Stockdale has passed away in California at age 81.
He was Ross Perot's running mate when Perot ran for president in 1992.
I'll never forget the rant of righteous indignation that Dennis Miller unleashed during the election campaign, after Stockdale bombed on TV during the televised vice presidential debate. I found it on another blog and I want to quote it here, not just for your benefit. but to save it for myself:

"Now I know his name has become a buzzword in this culture for doddering old man, but let's look at the record, folks. The guy was the first guy in and the last guy out of Vietnam, a war that many Americans, including our present President, did not want to dirty their hands with.
The reason he had to turn his hearing aid on at that debate is because those f***ing animals knocked his eardrums out when he wouldn't spill his guts. He teaches philosophy at Stanford University, he's a brilliant, sensitive, courageous man. And yet he committed the one unpardonable sin in our culture: he was bad on television.
"Somewhere out there Paddy Chayefsky must be laughing his ass off. "

Submitted "Business as Usual" to Futurismci last night. Also sent off "The Man Who Ran" to Gothic.net by e-mail.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Th latest

Got "The Man Who Ran' back from Realms of Fantasy. Dropped them "The League of Dead Nations" in the mail. Sheila returned "Business as Usual". Said it was "too pat".

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Good news!

Well, the wife and I went to see "War of the Worlds" last night, and afterwards I stopped by the Tyler Barnes & Noble and bought the YBSF No. 22. I'm happy as the proverbial pig in poop. FOUR honorable mentions!

I had already heard on the Asimov's board that Bewildering Stories got its first HM, and I was the culprit. As I suspected, the honoree from Bewildering Stories was "I Got You", which ran in two parts in May 2004.

I also had two stories at RevolutionSF, "Pen Pal" and "The Rocket-Powered Cat", earn the honor and a short at Astounding Stories, "Circe in Vitro".

As to criteria I've heard, the best information I've had from people who would know is that an HM indicates GD read the story over and thought it was good - not great, or else it would be in the anthology.

I know Gardner doesn't give HMs to every story he reads, because last year I sent him a magazine which had a story of mine. He mentioned me in the acknowledgements this year, I assume because I sent him the mag, but he didn't mention the magazine or my story - no neither impressed him.

Latest reviews

"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place.

"Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " - Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

In a spare, swift, convincing narrative style, conveying in a deadpan voice a wide array of sometimes Paranoid suppositions about the world, Antonelli juxtaposes realities with very considerable skill, creating a variety of Alternate Worlds, some of them somewhat resembling the constructions of Howard Waldrop, and making some sharp points about American history, race relations, dreams, and occasional nightmares in which the twentieth century goes wrong. [JC]

---From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be.

Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act.

This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read.

Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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