Monday, December 30, 2013

Just shamblin' along

Author Kevin J. Anderson recently used Facebook to solicit some suggestions for corny jokes to be used in his Dan Shamble Zombie P.I. series. He promised that if he picked your joke, he'd send a Dan Shamble book. He got a good response, and one of my jokes was a
keeper, so he's sending me a book. Thanks, Kevin.

On another front, review copies have begun going out for "The Clock Struck None". I see John DeNardo at SF Signal got his. I have already scheduled my first signing, on Jan. 25 here in Mount Pleasant.

On yet another front, the slate for the SASS board of directors has been completed. I am awaiting approval from the incoming president for the news release I will be sending out.

Over at the SFWA web site, I submitted myself as one of the featured authors, so I am in the front page rotation now. I have also submitted "The Clock Struck None" as a featured book, but they don't put books into the rotation until a month before the release date. The release date for "Clock" is Feb. 14.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Final version of "Letters from Gardner"

Me with Gardner and George R.R. Martin at the WorldCon in August.
With "The Clock Struck None" being released, I'm now just finishing the corrections to "Letters from Gardner", thanks to my friend and proofreader Gabe Smith.

It took all afternoon, and gave me a massive headache, but it's done and off to John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A good year for anthologies

Looking back at the year almost past, I realize it was a standout because I had four stories published or reprinted in three different anthologies.

"The Silver Dollar Saucer" was reprinted in "Raygun Chronicles", "Great White Ship" and "Double Exposure were reprinted in "Rocket Dragons Ignite: Daily Science Fiction Year 2" and "Hearts Made of Stone" was published in the original anthology "Song Stories"

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Start of a new tradition?

On Christmas Eve, I pulled out my 1926 Literary Digest edition of "The Complete Works of O. Henry" (all of 1,317 pages) and read "The Gift of the Magi" to my wife and mother-in-law.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review copies

Fantastic Books Publisher Ian Strock and I have discussed who is to get review copies of "The Clock Struck None". If anyone out there would like a review copy, please feel free to email me and we'll see what we can do.

I had to work Saturday covering the memorial service for Country Music Hall of Fame member Ray Price. They needed a short story for the Associated Press.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Available for pre-order

"The Clock Struck None" is now available for pre-order at Amazon, right here

Meanwhile, I expect to have the final edits done on "Letters from Gardner" this weekend.

On the short fiction front, after sending off "Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion", I got a start on my next story, "Message Found on an End Roll of Newsprint", The story starts with a neologism that gets you right into the spirit of the story:


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Latest story completed

Finished "Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion".  A tight 2,594 words.  And it's submitted. I now have ten stories in various slush piles.

"Three Variations" is the 110th story I've written in eleven years; I've had 81 published.

Latest on "Letters from Gardner"

John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press has looked over the revised manuscript of "Letter from Gardner" and approved the additions. He said after proofing is complete, we should be able to come up with an agreement after Christmas.

So it looks like both "Letters from Gardner" and "The Clock Struck None" will be published next year. 2014 is shaping up to be a good year for me.

Farewell, Rey

One bad thing about being a news editor is having to write about the death of someone you know. Yesterday night I had to write, for the second time in less than three years, about the death of a staff member, Our sports writer was found dead in his apartment. Adios, Rey Sifuentes, Jr., we all miss you at the Daily Tribune.

Monday, December 16, 2013

"Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion"

Spent time Sunday starting my next short story, "Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion".  I typed out nine pages of a first draft on my Smith Corona Classic 12 manual typewriter. Tonight I ran the pages through a scanner and then through OCR software to convert them into a text file, and then started editing and revising. Up to 2.145 words, this will be a tight story, my guess no longer than 2,500 words.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A letter to my high school German teacher

After renewing an acquaintance last week, I shot off a letter today to my old high school language teacher,who I saw back in June when I was inducted into the Academic Hall of Fame at my high school in Rockland, Massachusetts:

Here is a excerpt, with suitable editing to preserve privacy:


While at the high school, Mrs. (another former teacher) was exuberant over how nice it looked after the renovation. "Doesn't it look great?!" she exclaimed.

And I said - truthfully - "I haven't set foot in the school since probably 1976; I never saw it run down, or become run down. Actually, it looks the same as when I last saw it."

That gave her some pause for thought.

It's these little observations that I've collected over the years for my speculative fiction. For example, imagine this scenario: As I walk into the school, and I think to myself what I just said - "Sheesh, it looks exactly the same!" - I knock my head, and when I come to, I'm back in high school.

Maybe I'm back in 1975, and I look the same and everyone looks the same, but I still have all my memories from up to 2013.

Or I'm back in 1975 and everything is the same, but everyone shrinks in horror because I suddenly aged 38 years.

Or the school is exactly the same as in 1975 - including posters, bulletin boards and such - but there is no one there, at first; then classmates begin to appear, but they are the one who have already passed away, and I'm afraid I'm a ghost, too, and fearful of being fated to wander the halls forever.

That's a little insight on how the mind of a speculative fiction writer works. I was just as imaginative and creative when I really WAS in high school, but now I have the writing chops to put that into print, plus I have the hard-won wisdom to put life's experiences into perspective.

Skidding back down to Earth in a shower of sparks, I am so impressed you read and like "Texas & Other Planets"! My next collection will be coming out early next year; its lead-off story is the first story that I've ever had nominated for a literary award. I will get you a copy.

One final note, regarding visiting the school: When we went into the media lab, where I was interviewed by the school paper, I commented - along the lines of how much the school looked the same as I recalled - that it used to be the language lab, and also still looked the same.

The media lab guy said, "Hey, I think you're right! You have a good memory."

The only thing missing was you at the head table giving me the Texas skunk eye when you could see my mind was wandering. But now you can take satisfaction in knowing I was just laying the groundwork for a fiction writing career.

Stephen King has said he doesn't have to come up with plots for his horror stories, he just remembers his nightmares. I have a good enough memory to remember my daydreams.

And turn them into fantasy and science fiction.

Oder, wie man sagt auf Deutsch, fantasie und zukunftroman.

Hah, see I WAS paying attention, after all!

All the best,

Lou Antonelli

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekend Update

Taking time this weekend to catch up on submissions and maybe start a new short story. With the work I've been doing on "The Clock Struck None" as well as "Letters from Gardner", I haven't finished a new short story since April.

I currently have seven short stories in various slush piles.

Friday, December 13, 2013


It's nice to see Howard Waldrop's latest collection, "A Horse of a Different Color", getting great reviews. It was just released last month by Small Beer Press. One of the stories Howard included was "Kindermarchen", which I published in Sentinel Science Fiction - the website I ran in 2007. Howard made note of that in his afterword for the story:

"I wrote this the morning of Friday, July 15, 2005, at Conestoga, a late-lamented convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I read it on Sunday afternoon and revised it the next week.

"It was bounced a couple of places (Ellen Datlow; F&ST) before Lou Antonelli who'd always wanted to publish something of mine, bought it for his website and paid me $25.

"It was ignored by the rest of the whole world."

Well, maybe it won't be ignored so much any more. I always was impressed with it, and it's also been cited in the positive reviews the collection has received so far.

Paul DiFilippo, writing in Locus last month: "A fairy tale dark and poignant is the brief 'Kindermarchen'".

Howard also got a great review by Dana Jennings in the New York Times on Tuesday. Jennings commented

"'Kindermarchen' takes the tale of Hansel and Gretel and transforms it into a haunting fable of the Holocaust."

"Kindermarchen" is a relatively short story, only 1,600 words. When I published it, I ran a photocopy of Howard's typed manuscript through some OCR software to convert it to a text file before I cleaned it up. I'm glad I took the effort and helped the story get some attention.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Waiting for the release

While waiting for the completion of my next collection, "The Clock Struck None" from Fantastic Books, I thought I'd post this pic that shows my alarm clock in front of my two previous collections on my bookshelf.

This is the same alarm clock I hooked on a lanyard and wore around my neck in San Antonio during WorldCon. I didn't buy the clock as a gimmick for the con, I've had it in my personal home office for some time. I find the steady mechanical tick-tock soothing; I rewind it every morning and evening.

I didn't go out of my way to find the clock. I stumbled across it on a shelve at a local hardware store. Small towns in Texas often have a hardware store that stocks one of EVERYTHING.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

From an old teacher

Back in June, when I traveled to my hometown of Rockland, Massachusetts, to be inducted into the high school's Academic Hall of Fame, I saw some of my old teachers, including Ellen Donahue, who tried - somewhat futilely - teach me a foreign language (German).

With "The Clock Struck None" ready to be released in a little while, I was thinking of sending her a copy. I was able to get her email address from a teacher still at the school. I shot her an email this weekend.

Her reply was very nice:

"I was thrilled that you were inducted into the Academic Hall of Fame - well deserved, I think.

"I read Texas and Other Planets and was fascinated by how much history you incorporate in the stories (Yellow Rose of Texas, the San Patricio Brigade, etc.) - both history and science fiction are addictive, I find.
"When I finished the book, I donated it to the Rockland Public Library (via Mrs. Looney, who is a trustee), as they should have the works of "local boy made good"!

"Looking forward to reading more of your work."

I'm impressed she bought a copy of "Texas & Other Planets" on her own. Kathleen Looney was an English teacher at the time I was in the high school.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Last story of 2013, first story of 2014

Despite all the work I've been doing on my various books, I still have two unpublished stories out there, "Riders of the Red Shift" which Bruce Bethke promises to publish in a Stupefying Stories special "Weird, Wild West" issue, and "Bindlestiff's Daughter" which will be published in The Lorelei Signal.

The special issue of Stupefying Stories was originally planned for late summer, but got moved back as the real world intruded on Bruce's life. His mother went on hospice and the passed away. The latest word I have from Bruce is that the special edition will come out later this month.

Carol Hightshoe of the Lorelei Signal went through a period of unemployment. "Bindlestiff's Daughter" was originally to be published in October. The latest word is that it will be part of a special double issue next month.

I need to write a few more short stories, I haven't finished anything original since April. My supply is starting to dwindle

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Three books in various stages of development

Right now I have three different books in various stages of production and development at three small press publishers. Just Friday I saw the proposed cover for my next collection, "The Clock Struck None", which should be out soon from Ian Strock's Fantastic books. I made some suggested changes to the back cover blurb and caught a spelling blunder on the front.

"Letters from Gardner" has been revised and returned to John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press.

And a novelization of my 2008 short story "The Witch of Waxahachie" is at a third small press ready to be read.

I also have eight short stories in various magazine slush piles.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

It's book bomb time!

It's book bomb time for the brilliant new Space Opera anthology "Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age". It's release day was Tuesday, Dec. 3, so this is the first weekend you can log onto Amazon and buy your copy here:

If you haven't read about it already, here is the cover blurb:

"A school teacher who moonlights as an assassin, a corporate agent kidnapped and faced with a man she never wanted to see again, galactic knights and pilots defending the spaceways, a black bear who wants to be a priest, and a time traveler who discovers he was born a prince - these and more tales await you inside "Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age", a collection of new tales in the Golden Age style.

"With larger than life heroes, rayguns, space ships, robots, pirates, romance and more, here come 25 new tales of great fiction from top names like Seanan McGuire, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, A.C. Crispin, Allen M. Steele, Mike Resnick, David Farland and more. Strap in, set your weapons, and get ready for a fun ride!"

My contribution is a reprint of a story that was originally published in Raygun Revival in 2009. Writing on the Amazing Stories blog, reviewer Keith West said:

"Lou Antonelli is a northerner who lives in Texas these days and mines the history and folklore of his adopted state for his fiction, fiction that’s unique and unlike anything being written by anyone else. In “The Silver Dollar Saucer” he takes a couple of two bit desperadoes on a flying saucer ride."

Other reviewers report:

"RAYGUN CHRONICLES breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!"--Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of "Patient Zero".

"RAYGUN CHRONICLES is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be."--Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the "Saga of Seven Suns".

"Wonder, adventure, romance, humor-space opera delivers all of these, and this anthology brings together some of the finest talent in the business. Strange new worlds await. So lower your shields, engage your thrusters, and prepare to jump to warp speed!" -- Dave Wolverton, New York Times bestselling author of "Star Wars: The Courtship of Prince Leia".

"These stories bring the reader back to the days when we dreamt of blasters and flying cars. Golden age space opera fun with a strong Western feel." -- Alex Shvartsman, Editor "Unidentified Funny Objects".

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


I've added about 1,400 words to "Letters from Gardner" tonight and last night. I'm adding some of the practical nuts and bolts of writing tips which John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press suggested people might interesting. As I went back over my manuscript, I noticed I didn't have a real lot of basic writing tips accompanying each story, but then I realized that's because I learned how to write as a journalist - not as an s-f and fantasy author - so I found a good place in the first chapter to segue into the basics of writing taking off from my career as a newspaperman. I think it works.

Monday, December 02, 2013

And it's back to Lou

John Teehan at Marry Blacksmith Press has gotten back to me on his first evaluation of "Letters from Gardner". He's very positive, but suggested I some make some additions on the craft of writing that aspiring authors would probably find interesting and helpful - getting more specific on how the critiques were used and the stories rewritten.

I started on that tonight and went back through the first four chapters.

Sunday, December 01, 2013


In case you missed it, my alternate history story "Custodes" has been published in The Fifth Dimension. Their blurb for the issue states "The Fifth Dimension features some of the best science fiction and fantasy fiction and poetry. This issue features religious oppression, bizarre aliens, cocky captains, bizarre diplomacy and so much more."

In addition to myself, the issue features stories and poetry from Bruce Boston, Wayne Carey, C.J. Carter-Stephenson, Jeffery Scott Sims, Francis W. Alexander, Robert P. Hansen, Kurt MacPhearson, and David C. Kopaska-Merkel.

Here's how it begins:


Sergius rubbed his chin as he read the placard on the exterior of the Roma Locomotive Terminus. It was blatant but effective.

“Do You Have a Hot Tip?

“CHRIST-STOPPERS offers a reward for information leading to the arrest and execution of ANY CHRISTIAN

“30 pieces of silver!

“You will remain anonymous.

“Telephone today I-DCCC-DLV-MCCXII”

The businessman smiled. “Someone must have a sly sense of humor,” he thought, “using hot tip on a poster printed after the Great Fire.”

As he rubbed his chin, he realized he needed a shave. “Damn, it is a long train ride from Mediolanum,” he thought.

He snapped his fingers as he got into the taxi. “The Coliseum Plaza, and quickly.”


Here's a link where you can buy the issue on Smashwords.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dearth of markets

Over the past few years, the number of markets for short science fiction has dwindled. Every time I get a rejection and look to send the story out again, I see a few more markets either going out of business or closed to submissions.

I suppose the subject is on my mind because of the news that the next issue of the quality semi-prozine Electric Velocipede will be its last. I've tried to sell them a story for years, without luck; I only met Publisher John Klima a few months ago at WorldCon. He's published it since 2001; it won a Hugo award in 2009.

Since the Recession kicked in, I've seen a steady stream of magazines fold because either they ran out of money, or the people involved ran out of time and money. These publications, especially the smaller ones, are a labor of love for dedicated fans, and it must be gut-wrenching to fold a magazine because of job constraints.

Since I don't write hard s-f, my pool of markets is smaller than it might be for some others, and when you take into consideration that I can write very fast, I end up dropping some very good stories into very small markets. Over the long run, through, I feel spreading my stories far and wide has helped my reputation as a writer.

And even if a story is originally published in a small venue, it may still have a good second life in an collection or anthology. This is a little trick I stole from Joe Lansdale.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Latest on "Letters from Gardner"

Got some feedback on "Letters from Gardner" from the man himself, making a few tweaks in the manuscript before sending it off to my Beta reader. I had already sent a copy of the book to John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press, let's see if I can hornswoggle convince him to give me a contract.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Anthology invite

Got an invite for an original steampunk horror anthology paying pro rates, closing next spring.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"The Clock Struck None"

Sent back the galley of "The Clock Struck None". Found a mistake right up front in the acknowledgements. Also suggested moving a story around in the TOC.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


In addition to getting the page proofs for my next collection, "The Clock Struck None", I checked in with John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press to be sure he got "Letters from Gardner", and I talked to Bruce Bethke at Stupefying Stories about the special Weird Wild West edition which will be featuring my story "Riders of the Red Shift". All projects seem to be moving ahead, at various speeds.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Page proofs

Received page proofs from Ian Strock at Fantastic Books for my next collection, "The Clock Struck None", 274 pages of alternate and secret history short stories. The lead-off story is my Sidewise award finalist "Great White Ship". I will read everything this weekend.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

While we're on the subject...

...of the "Raygun Chronicles" anthology, I should also pass along more information received from editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt:

"Amazon put the hardcover up for preorder last week, to my surprise. At 33% off, it's cheaper than I can sell you extra copies.

"We had a very successful launch at OryCon with a few backers present and several contributors and me. We signed and sold a bunch of books and even did a signing the next day at Powell's, a huge SFF bookstore in Portland.

"Meanwhile, I am going to target a book bomb wherein we have a release week and get everyone who buys to buy that week so we can get a boost in Amazon rating and visibility that will carry over. More on that soon."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"The Silver Dollar Saucer" flies again

Meanwhile, blogger Keith West at Amazing Stories gave "Raygun Chronicles" a very good review, and said of my contribution:

"Lou Antonelli is a northerner who lives in Texas these days and mines the history and folklore of his adopted state for his fiction, fiction that’s unique and unlike anything being written by anyone else. In “The Silver Dollar Saucer” he takes a couple of two bit desperadoes on a flying saucer ride. I especially liked the ending on this one."

For his complete review of the anthology, go this-a-way:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Letters from Gardner"

Finished up "Letters from Gardner" this Sunday, came in at 17 chapters, 86,339 words. This has been an interesting project, I hope it move towards publication now.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A first

With the release of "Something More Than Blood" by Park Cooper and Barbara Lien-Cooper, I've had a first - my blurb is on the front cover. I enjoyed it, and heartily recommend it; I suppose my approval comes through in the comments I wrote. Go over to Amazon and order it today!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

O. Henry found

Over the years I have seen that you can find old used books in the darnedest locations. Many times, they drift into antique stores, regardless of whether the store sells old books or not.

Years ago, I found a copy of "Adventures in Time and Space" atop some furniture on display in an antique store. I gave the owner a quarter for it. Another time, I stopped into a antique "store" that little more than a junkyard - and found a copy of "A Treasury of Modern Fantasy".

This weekend, as I wrote in my last post, my wife and I visited a used book store in a town with a lot of antique shops. One book I found there was a copy of the 1904 Doubleday publication of O. Henry's collection "Cabbages and Kings".

For a 109-year old book, it's in remarkable condition, and I'm very pleased with the purchase. I think I paid $2.99 for it.

But what's more amazing is that, later in the afternoon, while in an antique store, I found a battered old red copy of the 1926 Special Literary Digest Edition of "The Complete Works of O. Henry". It was sitting with a few other books on top of a chest of drawers. I paid the store owner two bucks for it.

Wow! This book is 1,400 pages, small type, stories run together, but there's all of them! It's bound in a bright red fake leather invented by Dupont called Fabrikoid.

I've always liked and admired O. Henry, and this is just a type of literary comfort food for me.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

London calling?

It's a long hike - almost 5,000 miles for me - but I'm giving some thought to going to London for the WorldCon next year. It is early enough in August that my wife may be able to come - she's a school teacher, and this year, for example, she couldn't come to San Antonio because by the Labor Day weekend school has already been in session for two weeks. But LonCon 3 will start on August 14.

My wife might come along for touristy reasons, and I wouldn't blame her. The whole trip could be declared as a business expense.

Neither my wife and I have ever owned a passport and traveled outside the U.S., so that would make it quite an adventure. But it might be worth a try.

It's just speculation for now, but I did fill out a volunteer form. We'll see if they would be willing to take me as a panelist. Also, even if they will have me, until the day we leave I wouldn't be certain I'll be going - crap has a way of happening.

The day I was to drive to San Antonio for WorldCon I awakened to find the drain for an internal A/C unit had clogged and flooded two guest bedrooms, and I had to wait until a repairman made a service call to the house. I hit the road late and didn't arrive in San Antonio that Thursday until after 7 p.m.

When I was starting to attend conventions over a decade ago, these kind of last-minute calamities happened so frequently that I stopped pre-registering for conventions. Although it's more expensive, I'd rather walk up and pay at the door.

I never was able to attend a convention I pre-registered for - something always came up. For years now, I haven't had to pay because I've been a panelist, and this past WorldCon was the first time I can recall I pre-registered and was able to attend - barely.

I assume the pre-registration curse was avoided because I didn't pay the full amount until I arrived, I wrote the final check when I picked up my packet.

Friday, November 08, 2013

In a writing slump

I haven't written anything genre-wise in the past two weeks, although I have been doing a lot of writing otherwise. My free time has been taken up with what I would characterize as a legal issue involving a family member, which has consumed all my writing talents. No need to get into details, but if it seems I don't have much to say, you're right. First things first.

I resent it when I have to take time from my normally busy life to deal with a problem caused by other people who are stupid and/or evil, but then that's life.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Outlining vs. Pantsing

The great divide in writing styles among genre writers, it is said, it the difference between outlining your story and flying by the seat of your pants.

When I was starting out over a decade ago, I tried to outline, but I quickly learned it seemed to constrain my free flow of thoughts. Since then, I have written in a style that would be called by most people "pantsing".

But that's probably a misnomer in my case. I learned over time that I apparently work out some kind of outline subconsciously in my mind beforehand, and when I sit down to write it pours out. The advantage of this style - why it works for me - is that since there is still is no outline to follow, I will write the narrative in whatever direction it leads.

As many writers will tell you, stories and characters often will go off in directions you didn't anticipate. The best thing to do sometimes is to get out of their way.

Friday, November 01, 2013

"Ender's Game" opens nation-wide

Orson Scott Card
Today marks the formal movie premiere across the country of "Ender's Game", the cinematic adaptation of Orson Scott Card's 1985 novel. Card is 62 and a stroke survivor, so he's not giving a lot of interviews, but there is a very good one up at the Wired web site. I found this exchange especially interesting:


Q. You’ve gotten a lot of criticism on the web for your personal and political views about gay marriage. How do you feel about the backlash?

A. I hope that people will realize that they are not getting a true picture of me from these comments, and they’re certainly not getting anything to do with Ender’s Game, which was written long ago and has nothing whatsoever to do with gay marriage. I’ll just trust the audience to decide for themselves what the movie actually is, not what other people are saying about me.

Q. But you’ve got to address that there’s controversy around your views …
A. I issued an official statement. That’s really all I have to say about it.

Q. Much of your work is edgy for Mormons, yet the fact that you’re a Mormon is edgy for a lot of other people. What’s it like being in the middle?

A. In a way, being a Mormon prepares you to deal with science fiction, because we live simultaneously in two very different cultures. The result is that we all know what it’s like to be strangers in a strange land. It’s not just a coincidence that there are so many effective Mormon science fiction writers. We don’t regard being an alien as an alien experience. But it also means that we’re not surprised when people don’t understand what we’re saying or what we think. It’s easy to misinterpret us. I understand it. So, you know, I don’t get upset by that.


You can find the entire interview here:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Bettie Page Reveals All"

This weekend, one of the chapters I finished in my my new book, "Letters from Gardner", was about the story I wrote years ago where the Maguffin is a clone of Bettie Page, "The Queen of Guilty Pleasures".

On Monday, I read there's a new movie opening in limited release about the famous pin-up, "Bettie Page Reveals All". I found a link on the Yahoo movies page, here.

I doubt there was ever a pin-up who had a more iconic look or has been more imitated throughout the years. At the time I wrote my story, she was still alive, but she died a few years later.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Three Chapters wrapped up for "Letters from Gardner"

This weekend I polished off three more chapters of "Letters from Gardner", chapters 11-13 which cover the stories "Rome, If You Want To", "Berserker" and "The Queen of Guilty Pleasures". The manuscript  right now just under 70,000 words. I anticipate three more chapters, plus a prologue, since we're almost at an end of the stories I sent to Gardner, which rest of which are are "The Runner at Dawn", "Pen Pal" (which was a YBSF honorable mention) and then "A Rocket for the Republic".

Friday, October 25, 2013


Editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt has released the dust cover of the collection of space opera stories done in the pulp style, "Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age", which is having its release party at the OryCon convention in Portland Nov. 8-10 and then general release in December. I'm proud to be a part with my short story reprint "The Silver Dollar Saucer".

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More on "The Stinky Men"

A rare sight
Got an email from Bill Crider yesterday. He writes:

"I read "The Stinky Men" yesterday and got a kick out of it. Anybody who can write a story in a con dealers' room has my admiration, especially a story that mentions alligators and Dr Pepper. Thanks for sending it along."

 This is the story I wrote in the dealers' room at ArmadilloCon in 2011, using my Smith Corona Classic 12 portable typewriter.

 Bill at the time wrote: "We're back from Armadillocon, where we had a great time and saw a lot of friends. We also saw a rare sight, a science-fiction author banging out a short story in the dealers' room. On a typewriter. That's Lou Antonelli clicking the keys of his Smith-Corona, and he's composing a story titled "The Stinky Men." It if turns up somewhere, I'll let you know."

Monday, October 21, 2013

"More Than Just Blood"

Fellow SASS member Park Cooper sent me a galley recently of a horror novel he's penned with wife Barbara Lien-Cooper, "Something More Than Blood". He asked me if I'd read it and consider it for a blurb. I finished it this weekend, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. He's what I wrote for the blurb:

"Something More Than Blood" is a well-crafted, fast-paced story of a fresh-faced young German farm boy who volunteers to serve his country in the Great War, and get a lot more - and worse - than he bargained for. In the process of going from naive young "soldat" Johannes Fassbinder to becoming an undead B movie actor - stage name Lykan Fuller - we follow a man who wanders through some wild and weird places - Weimar Germany, Depression Era USA, Hollywood - and copes with his unsought fate while surrounded by people who often seem less human than he is.

The writing is tight, the dialogue crisp, the settings pitch-perfect, and the plot compelling. Park Cooper and Barbara Lien-Cooper have written a vampire tale with lot of chills, but also sad insights, and a few chuckles of recognition along the way.I enjoyed it, and you will, too. It's a welcome addition to the horror bookshelf.-

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The South American Shatner

A number of years ago - sometime between 2005 and 2007 - I was working at my newspaper job one day, and I covered an event at a local Rotary Club. It featured a recap of a trip club members made on an exchange with a club in South America.

It was to Uruguay or Paraguay - I don't remember which - and in the course of the report, the club leader mentioned - by way of "It's a small world" - that one of their host club members was William Shatner's brother, Louis Shatner. He had the photo to prove it - the fellow looked just like Bill.

I later checked up on the story, and found that Bill Shatner doesn't have a brother, but he had an uncle named Louis. This fellow in South America is probably his first cousin. I assume the Rotarian either misspoke or didn't understand the translation.

Like I said, the family resemblance was striking.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thoughts while shaving

My short story production this year has been diminished somewhat by the time I've spent working on my latest collection, "The Clock Struck None", which should be coming out in a while from Fantastic Books, as well as my current work on "Letters from Gardner". I haven't completed a story since April.

I've also spent some time working with the writers' group SASS, which I serve as secretary - which means I handle a lot of paperwork.

Still, I've had six stories published so far this year, and two are in line for upcoming publication: "Riders of the Red Shift" in Stupefying Stories, and "Bindlestiff's Daughter" in The Lorelei Signal. And of course, "The Silver Dollar Saucer" is being reprinted in the "Raygun Chronicles" anthology.

I'd say the highlight of the year was being a finalist for the Sidewise Award. That story, "Great White Ship", is the lead-off in "The Clock Struck None".

The nice thing about slowing down short story production is that I've had more time to mentally work out some plot outlines and issues on stories I plan to write.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Latest chapter penned for "Letters from Gardner"

Tossed off Chapter 9 of "Letters from Gardner" this afternoon.  This case involves the only story I sent him that was never published, a riff n the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy called "Jerusalem, Jerusalem". I posted it here on this blog back in 2005, but otherwise it's never seen the light of day (and it's been subsequently removed.) It had multiple problems, and I simply didn't think it had enough potential to merit a rewrite. It;'s more of a historic artifact now.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ready for release

Bryan Thomas Schmidt has sent along the table of contents for his upcoming anthology Raygun Chronicles, releasing December 2013. I'm proud to be on board with the reprint of my story "The Silver Dollar Saucer", originally published in Raygun Revival in 2009.

Here’s the book description:

A school teacher who moonlights as an assassin, a corporate agent kidnapped and faced with a man she never wanted to see again, galactic knights and pilots defending the spaceways, a black bear who wants to be a priest, and a time traveler who discovers he was born a prince - these and more tales await you inside RAYGUN CHRONICLES: Space Opera For a New Age, a collection of new tales in the Golden Age style. With larger than life heroes, rayguns, space ships, robots, pirates, romance and more, here come 25 new tales of great fiction from top names like Seanan McGuire, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, A.C. Crispin, Allen M. Steele, Mike Resnick, David Farland and more. Strap in, set your weapons, and get ready for a fun ride!

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!” - Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Patient Zero.

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be.” - Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Seven Suns

“Good old fashioned fun awaits within!” – Glen Cook, Author of Black Company, Dread Empire, and Garrett, P.I.

“These stories bring the reader back to the days when we dreamt of blasters and flying cars. Golden age space opera fun with a strong Western feel.” -Alex Shvartsman, Editor, Unidentified Funny Objects

Check out the impressive table of contents:

Essay: Taking Back The Sky by Johne Cook
“Frontier Abcs: The Life And Times Of Charity Smith, Schoolteacher” by Seanan Mcguire
“Rick The Robber Baron” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“To The Shores Of Triple, Lee!” by A.M. Stickel
“The Silver Dollar Saucer” by Lou Antonelli
“Around The Bend” by Sarah A. Hoyt
“Sword Of Saladin” by Michael S. Roberts
“Malfunction” by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks
“Catastrophe Baker And The Ship Who Purred” by Mike Resnick
“Holly Defiant” by Brenda Cooper
“Shooting The Devil’s Eye” by Keanan Brand
“Last, Full Measure” by A. M. Roelke
“Spider On A Sidewalk” by Paula R. Stiles
“King Of The Galaxy Knights” by Robin Wayne Bailey
“The Slavers Of Ruhn” by Rob Mancebo
“Can Giraffes Change Their Spots?” by Jenny Schwartz
“Captain Quasar And The Insurmountable Barrier Of Space Junk” by Milo James Fowler
“Conversion” by Shaun Farrell
“Twilight World” by A.C. Crispin
“Catastrophe Baker In The Hall Of The Neptunian Kings” by Mike Resnick
“Ever Dark” by T.M.Hunter
“Nor To The Strong” by Michael Merriam
“Space Opera” by Peter J. Wacks
“The Heiress Of Air” by Allen M. Steele
“Saint Orick” by David Farland
“The Legend Of Rae Raygun” by Kaolin Fire

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Taking care of business

I finished the mailing for SASS yesterday evening and it's in the mailbox.  It includes a newsletter and membership roster. With the recent new members who have joined, it was time to update the roster, and this is the first time a membership roster with contact information has gone out to all members. The key thing we are looking for now are volunteers for open positions on the Board of Directors, which include President and the at-large members.

I also took the time to attend to submissions, and dropped stories into the slush pile at Asimov's, Analog, and Ideomancer - a nice trio,  I should say.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


I've been working for the past few days in my role as the secretary of the SASS writers' group, preparing an updated membership list and preparing for an election. SASS - which stands for Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling - is a writers group that spans from fans and unpublished, aspiring writers, to genuine pros. When it coalesced last year, one requirement that was put in the draft bylaws was that it wouldn't move forward unless and until it had at least ten dues paying members. We reached that goal this summer, but since the bylaws call for a Board of Directors of nine members - four officers and five members at large - I didn't think ten members gave us enough of a pool to draw from, but we've kept getting memberships, and with a spurt of four last week we are up to 19, so its time to solicit volunteers and nominee for offices and move forward.

I've updated the membership list and I'm working up a newsletter, which will be mailed out to everyone. Although email, Twitter and Facebook are ways to communicate with people, they seem to be hit or miss - you can never tell if and whether someone saw a message. The finality and formality of paper communications still seems to attract people's attention. We have a few hundred dollars in the bank, thanks to membership dues, so paying for postage is not a problem.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Half a FenCon is better than... FenCon. The convention this weekend in Dallas went very well, but I was barely there half the time. I drove to Dallas Friday night for my two panels but then drove back home because of two personal issues I had to deal with, one job-related and one related to my being president of the local Optimist Club.

The first panel Friday night, on disruptive technologies of the future, went real well. Theresa Nielsen-Hayden was the moderator and did a great job. The third panelist was a fellow I never met before, Martin Shoemaker. Theresa lives in Brooklyn and Martin in Michigan. I had been on a panel with Theresa at WorldCon. She was very friendly and informative and considerate of the audience members. Martin is a real nice guy, and we all enjoyed the panel very much. I think the audience members also got a lot out of it.

Next I attended the opening ceremonies. I'd say the highlight was John Ringo's entrance, piped in by a genuine Scottish bagpiper. I think Ringo followed him in doing a Highland fling, although it looked more like he stepped in a bed of Texas fire ants.

The second panel, on dialogue, was a dialogue between me and Vicki Malone Kennedy. It was strange, I can't recall being on a panel with only two people. But there was a good audience and between the two of us we still were able to muster enough advice and anecdotes to keep them engaged.

Saturday I returned for my book signing at 2:30 p.m. Despite only having a half hour, I sold a half dozen books. I also had a nice visit with some people. I lucked out that the only other author scheduled for that half hour didn't show up, so for that half hour I had the table to myself.

My last panel was at 8 p.m., on where the (bleep) are the aliens. Geoff Landis was the moderator and together with Bill Ledbetter provided the real science support for the topic. Chris Donahue was the fourth panelist. This was a hard topic to nail down, but what we lacked in certainty we made up in entertainment.

I had no panels scheduled for Sunday, so I took advantage of that to conserve my energy, and I drove back home, arriving at 10:30 p.m.

Despite my limited time there, I met everyone I wanted to, and had a real good time. I think I've attended ever FenCon ever held over the years, for at least one day, so I know just about everyone at this point.

I had some great conversations, with among some others Adrian Simmons and Sam Taylor, and was able to touch base with a few people such as Bill Ledbetter, Rie Sheridan Rose, Selena Rosen, Michael Finn, and others.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

At FenCon

I'm attending FenCon in Dallas - not staying over, I'm commuting. I had two panels Friday night, and then had to return to work at the paper from midnight to 2 a.m. Had to get up at 7:30 a.m. and go to a community service project being done by a club I belong to. I'm driving back to Dallas now. I'll be pretty tired tonight, and since I don't have any panels Sunday, I'm just going home afterwards and rest the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

"The Stinky Men" published

The British mag Fevered Dreams has just come out with its Issue No. 3, which features my story "The Stinky Men". This is the story I wrote on a Smith Corona Classic 12 portable typewriter in the Dealers Room at ArmadilloCon in 2011.

This story is a blatant homage to Howard Waldrop's "The Ugly Chickens" and in fact an alternate universe version of Howard appears as "Professor Waldrup" from the anthropology department of the University of Texas.

You can download a free PDF of this issue, all 99 pages, here.

This is my sixth story published this year, my 81st since 2003.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

SASS membership roster

We are updating our membership list as of Oct. 1, so if you have been thinking of joining SASS, now would be a good time to get on the roll. We will be using this roster for the formal adoption of bylaws and election of officers, so if you join now you can participate in our first formal election.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"The Killing Jar"

I was glad to learn that fellow SASS member Ed Morris has sold his story "The Killing Jar" to amagazine based in Australia. This is noteworthy because "The Killing Jar" was posted on the SASS private writers forum and critiqued. This is the first time this has transpired.

Ed posted on Facebook: "Thanks to Lou Antonelli and the wonderful feedback from the Society For The Advancement of Speculative Storytelling, I just homed "The Killing Jar." It is a ghost-story written for a girlfriend who overdosed when I was nineteen, inspired in part by John Shirley's WETBONES, and it made Lou cry. Sorta speechless about it myself."

Friday, September 27, 2013

My FenCon schedule

The FenCon convention is coming up Oct. 4-6 in Dallas. I've gotten my schedule and here it is:

Friday  6:00 PM  - 7:00 PM    Elm
Boon or Bane? Disruptive Technologies of the Future

Description: For good or ill, the internet and mobile technologies have radically transformed how we live and work, in just a few short years. How will new technologies like next generation genomics, 3D printing, autonomous robotics, advanced materials and more affect us in the near future?

Lou Antonelli, Martin L. Shoemaker, Adrian Simmons, Teresa Nielsen Hayden


Friday  9:00 PM  - 10:00 PM    Live Oak
Compelling Dialogue

Description: Good dialog is the backbone of a strong story. How do you know if your characters are too chatty, or too quiet?

Lou Antonelli, Carole Nelson Douglas, Vickey Malone Kennedy, Sabine Starr


Saturday  2:30 PM  - 2:30 PM    Gallery

Lou Antonell, Michelle Bardsley


Saturday  7:00 PM  - 8:00 PM    Live Oak
Where the #&%@ are all the aliens?!?

Description: The Fermi Paradox asks if there's such a high probability of alien civilizations, why haven't we found them yet? Maybe they aren't there after all, or maybe we're looking in the wrong places. Our panel will discuss all of this, and maybe figure it out once and for all!

Lou Antonelli, Chris Donahue, William Ledbetter, Geoffrey A. Landis

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Looking back

You ever go back to read a story that you wrote a number of years ago, and you wonder how you wrote anything so accomplished? The story still seems well-written and entertaining? It's like after the passage of time you garner a little objectivity and you appreciate your own skills more.

I had this experience this past weekend as I reread "The Silver Dollar Saucer" in galley proofs for inclusion in the "Raygun Chronicles" anthology. Funny how, looking back, this story had such a mundane start and then such difficulties getting published.

This is another case where I whipped up a story on an arbitrary maguffin - again, as in the case of the very first story I ever had published ("Silvern" in Revolution SF in 2003), a silver dollar. I distinctly remember pondering a feared case of writer's block while marking time taking photos of a girls softball game in Longview. I decided that I would reach in my pocket and write a story based on whatever random item I pulled out.

Because of the fact I was at a particular game when I did this, I know when I did this - March 2005.

Years ago, Amazon's first attempt at selling individual fiction was called Amazon Shorts, and I submitted "Saucer" to them - and it was accepted. In fact, I got a contract. Then I noticed the contract stipulated you must also have a book available for sale on Amazon.

Poor research on my part - I hadn't noticed that. My first collection, "Fantastic Texas", was still a few years away in 2009, and when pressed, I had to concede I didn't meet the requirements. The contract was withdrawn.

After that inauspicious start, it took 24 submissions and three and a half years for the story to find a home at "Raygun Revival". It was clear after a few rejections that it straddled too many genres and was hard to categorize. Was it a Weird Western? Space Opera? An alien abduction tale? Secret History? Probably all of those. 

It took time, but when the Overlords at Raygun Revival saw it, they snapped it up - bless their little dilithium-crystal powered hearts.

Over the years it's proven to be one of my most popular stories, and it was included in both "Fantastic Texas" and "Texas & Other Planets" - so it's publication in "Raygun Chronicles" will be its third reprint.

Ironically, I got more than double for this republication that I did for when the story was originally published.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Touting a friend

Alex Schvartsman was one of my roomies at WorldCon, and one thing we have in common is that we have both been published in BuzzyMag. I have one of those proverbial warm spots in my heart for the ezine. Over the years I've had one, maybe two stories published in the first issue of a new publication, but my story "The Centurion and the Rainman" was the first story published by Buzzy when they began publishing original fiction in March 2012.

Alex has just had his latest short story published by Buzzy, "A Shard Grows in Brooklyn". Enjoy!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Praise for "Raygun Chronicles"

Editor Bryan Schmidt reports "people are excited about our book. Just having the ARC lying around people were wanting to buy it yesterday based on title and cover images. And a couple readers had this to say:

"'Raygun Chronicles is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be.' - Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Seven Suns

“'Raygun Chronicles breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!'” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Extinction Machine, Fire & Ash, and Patient Zero."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tales from the Wild Weird West delayed

Stupefying Stories is going to release a special themed anthology, Tales from the Wild Weird West. It was scheduled to have been out already, but Publisher Bruce Bethke is having to take care of one of those sad transition issues in life - his mother is dying. They took her off life support yesterday.

I thought I'd devote this space today to listing again the Table of Contents. It is a good selection of stories. We all wish Bruce strength as he goes through this difficult time/

“An Offering at Midnight” by L. Joseph Shosty
“Paying Old Debts” by Rebecca Roland
“Gray Eagle’s Revenge” by Roy C. Booth and R. Thomas Riley
“The Well” by Rose Blackthorn
“Welcome to Scuttletown” by Jeff Shelton-Davis
“MacGruder and the Ghost” by Ken Altabef
“Rain Charmer” by Gef Fox
“La Sombra del Diablo” by Douglas J. Moore
“The Automated Earp” by Michael Ezell
“Cattle Futures” by Rebecca Schwarz
“Princess Nicotine” by John Skylar
“Riders of the Red Shift” by Lou Antonelli
“The New Herd” by Lilliana Rose

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Silver Dollar Saucer flies again

I'm reading the galleys for my short story "The Silver Dollar Saucer", which is being reprinted in "Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera for a New Age", an ambitious anthology of space opera stories "from some of the finest voices in science fiction writing today:"

It includes 23 contemporary stories capturing the classic golden age feel of space opera past, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. "Saucer" is one of the stories included from the six-year run of the ezine "Ray Gun Revival", which originally published it in January 2009.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Leinster Legacy

One highlight for me of the WorldCon was briefly meeting Billee Stallings, the daughter of Murray Leinster. She attended the Sidewise Award ceremony and was introduced from the audience. She was at the convention to help promote the web site, books and legacy of her dad - whose real name was Will Jenkins.

She had a very nice handout which was prepared for the convention. I take a moment to quote from it here:

"Before Murray Leinster, many science fiction stories explored time travel, leaping ahead in time or traveling backwards. But in Leinster's imaginings, the idea of moving sidewise in time - to worlds that might have been -  first came to fruition.

"In Sidewise in Time, Leinster describes a time fault that links the untrodden paths of the past to the present, an ingenious plot that inspired the prestigious Sidewise Award in the genre."

The Leinster web site,, covers the whole range of his work. He was prolific during the heyday of pulp fiction magazines and he had many outlets and was able to publish in multiple genres, including westerns, adventure and mystery stories.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Some final WorldCon thoughts

Two weeks ago I was driving back to East Texas from San Antonio, having attended my first WorldCon. I've spent much of this blog space since then reviewing the event. Here are some random and parting thoughts:

It's an expensive proposition a attend a WorldCon, especially considering the hundreds of dollars it costs for registration. If I hadn't been a Sidewise award nominee, my wife wouldn't have allowed me to come (my wife is not a fan). I'm impressed at the effort made by many people whom I know are much more broke than I am to attend.

My roommate, Alex Schvartsman, took a Hugo Boss suit for good luck to wear at the Hugo awards, and it worked as he got to accept the Hugo for Ken Liu. Late Sunday night, he was complaining how heavy the award is to lug around!

There were two panels I attended as an audience member, the panel on small towns held Friday, "Good Things Do Come From Small Places" and "The George and Howard Show" on Saturday. Chum Howard Waldrop was on both of them.

Other panelists on the small town discussion were Connie Willis, Joe Lansdale, Steve Gould and Robin Hobb. Willis was moderator and never asked for any questions from the audience. Joe had some interesting things to say about growing up in a small East Texas town.

The razzle-dazzle Saturday with George R.R. Martin and Howard Saturday afternoon was a hoot, somebody needs to release that as a video! Funniest thing I ever saw, everyone laughed their butts off.

Having the WorldCon and Dragon Con in Atlanta the same weekend was goofy. I don't know how it affected DragonCon, but I definitely think it cut down on the WorldCon attendance. I also don't think having a WorldCon in Texas in August helped attendance.

I wasn't surprised Spokane won the 2015 WorldCon bid. I was slightly surprised when after the vote was announced, one old pro - who will remain nameless here - said that the "elites" in s-f were pushing for Helsinki, which had been exactly my impression. I don't think Orlando ever stood a chance, from what I heard. One problem with the Helsinki bid was that, if they won, that would put two Worldcons overseas for two years in a row. With the crappy state of America's neo-Third World economy, few people are going to be able to go to London next year (my wife has already told me "Don't even think of it!"). It's quite possible two WorldCons overseas in a row would have sunk the whole Worldcon proposition.

I changed up my attire regularly during the con. Friday I wore my Mad Scientists Union jersey, and Saturday my black suit. I wore my Texas Nationalist Movement shirt for the first half of Sunday, then changed at lunchtime to  regular short-sleeved shirt for the during of the convention. I was pleased when a member of the audience for the political panel Sunday - who lives in a northern state - told me she agreed with the TNM shirt. I told her I'm not surprised that there are people up north wouldn't mind if Texas took off, either.

No Texan was in the running for a Hugo literary award, and neither of the two who were nominated for other awards - myself for the Sidewise and Stina Leicht for the Campbell Award - won. Although Stina and I are far from friends, I have to concede it's only human to feel sympathy for the sting of disappointment.

I felt very disappointed when I was blackballed from the anthology that was released at the convention, but I got over it, too.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part Five

That's me pretending to forget the Alamo.
Well, it's two weeks later and I'm up to Sunday, Sept. 1, at WorldCon. The first thing that day was the Stroll with the Stars; in this case, to the Alamo. The convention chairman, Randy Shepherd, herded us (no pun intended) through the the Rivercenter Mall and around a corner to the Alamo. He gave a nice talk in front of the Alamo and then we all went inside. I have visited the Alamo before, but it was nice to visit again this historic site. Along the way I visited with David Brin (whom I had never met in person) and Sheila Williams and her daughter.

Dian Turnshek took the photo of me in front of the Alamo; I was pretending to forget what transpired here. I wore my Texas Nationalist Movement shirt for the occasion, which I thought was appropriate.

My first panel was on "Fiction and Real Politics and How Writers Get it Wrong" at 11 a.m. This was a good panel, with very insightful authors. It was more like a political science panel, however, and really didn't talk much about writing. That's not to say it wasn't interesting, it was. But I had kinda gone in thinking we'd be talking about practical politics, and citing Heinlein's short story "A Bathroom of Her Own" and stuff like that. But it dealt a lot in philosophy - which was still interesting.

For some reason, most of the panelists seemed to be Canadian, which skewed the discussion a bit.

After two weeks, it's hard for me to remember specifics, but I recall I was responsible for some insight. Actually, let me quote here from a blog post by fellow panelist Madeline Ashby:

"On a panel on philosophy and SF, one of my fellow panelists decried the predilection among younger readers for dystopias and “darkness,” then talked about how when he was a young man, he had no trouble finding a job, buying a house, living a life, etc.

'“How old are you?” I asked, from the other end of the stage.

"He gave his age. I believe it was around 54.

'“So you’re a boomer?”


'“And how much did you pay for your first house?”

"It was a figure around $60K. Less than $100K, anyway.

'“The average price of a starter home in Toronto, where I live, is $550,000. I’m thirty years old. I have a university degree and two graduate degrees. Despite all that, it is likely I will never be able to afford my own home - or have my own child. You want to know why people my age and younger write without hope? That’s why.”

"This man thanked me for bringing that to his attention. He was genuine, not sarcastic. He simply did not know how the younger half lived. And really, I think that’s what it boils down to. It’s more than just an active distrust of young people (and young women in particular). It’s a totally different set of life experiences."

Well, she's totally right. I was really stunned. I later sent her a Facebook message and told her my thought after this exchange was essentially, "What happened to the American dream when I was preoccupied taking care of myself?"

Other panelists included moderator David Nickle, Gregory Wilson, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

My other panel on Sunday was on "Philosophy and Science Fiction" at 4 p.m. If my first panel of the day was supposed to be on politics but turned into one in political science and philosophy, this one was supposed to be on philosophy but ended up more a discussion on religious faith - which was still interesting. All the panelists seemed to have some connection to religion in some way (not as common as you would think in science fiction). For example. Madeline Ashby - who was also on this panel - said she attended a Jesuit school.

The other panelists were C.J. Mills, Mark Van Name and Steve Diamond. Everyone was respectful of religion and it was an extremely good panel. It was also the best attended panel I have ever seen at ANY convention where I was on the dais. All the seats were full and people were standing in the back; I counted over 100 people.

The Hugo Awards started at 8 p.m., but as I mentioned in a previous post, I realized it was more important for me to exercise in the hotel pool or there would be a serious possibility I wouldn't be able to make the drive home Monday. I also wanted to hit the road by 6 a.m. and I wouldn't be able to do that if I stayed up late until the end of the ceremony and then went to some party.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bryan, Alex and Maurice

I'd be remiss as I recap my WorldCon weekend not to mention my roommates in Room 1820 of the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel.

The room was reserved by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, who I have been dealing with this year because of my participation in the Raygun Chronicles anthology. Bryan posted on Facebook a number of months ago that he would be looking for roommates. When I realized I would be going to the convention, I asked him if he still had space. He said I'd be the third, Alex Schvartsman was also on board.

Just before the convention he mentioned Maurice Broaddus was also going to join us. That made four people with two beds and a cot, but that didn't particularly bother me, especially since I am a very sound sleeper and easily sleep on the floor - as I did Thursday night. As it happened, everyone's schedule was so staggered that at any given time anyone could find a bed space.

When I arrived at the hotel at about 8 p.m. Thursday, when I went up to the room, Maurice and I arrived at the door at the same time! I'd never met him before, so we exchanged greetings and then went off our respective ways.

Both Bryan and Alex were in the room when I came back just before midnight. Bryan traveled from Kansas, Alex from New York - Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, to be exact. I had never meet Bryan in person; I'd heard of Alex. Both are dedicated anthologists, and they talked "shop" a lot for a couple of hours; I'd chime in occasionally with a comment of observation. They both are much more involved in the genre than I am.

They are also both friendly, nice guys. Alex imported a brown paper sack of authentic New York bagels from his neighborhood bagelry, which I appreciated. Having lived in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s I remember what real bagels were like*.

I snoozed on the floor that night; what discomfort I suffered wasn't from the floor, but from the fact my legs were sore from the long drive. Come the morning, we saw that Maurice never came in and the cot was unused. Bryan had commented that Maurice kept hours like a vampire, and he was sorta right. I didn't see Maurice much, but he was pleasant and friendly when we chatted. He had traveled in from Indianapolis.

I never spent any time except in passing during the con with Bryan; Alex came to the Sidewise Award presentation Saturday. He's the one who took the photo of Rick Wilber, Cat Valente and myself that's in the previous post.

We were all pretty busy, so that's not much of a surprise our paths didn't cross that much. We also all have our own friends. The event we all might have been expected to attend together - the Hugo Awards - I skipped because I decided I needed to do hydrotherapy in the hotel pool, or else I would be very uncomfortable driving home Monday.

I have Type II diabetes, and as a result I have neuropathy in my feet and muscle weakness in my legs. I try to be very careful in caring for these conditions. As I mentioned before, my legs were sore after the six hour drive to San Antonio; by Sunday things were only worse after all the walking entailed at the convention. I realized if I didn't do something pro-active Sunday, I might have difficulty driving home. The Hugo Awards were the logical time to hit the pool; my presence wasn't going to make much of a difference, anyway.

* Alex mentioned that because they were genuine freshly made bagels, they had no preservatives and would go stale quickly, and he was right. By Friday afternoon I "had" to east the last two because they were rapidly fossilizing.

Friday, September 13, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part 4

Recovering after having a sudden eruption with an old rotted tooth that became abscessed and had to be yanked about 5 p.m. yesterday. Other than the essential violence of having a tooth extracted, I'm doing pretty good.

Back to the slow slog through my chronological report of WorldCon (now two weeks in the past). I suppose I'll be done with all my observations in time to attend FenCon in Dallas the first week of October.

I actually didn't have any panels on Saturday, but there was plenty for me to do. The centerpiece of the day, from my perspective, was the Sidewise Awards at noon. I wore my black suit to mark the formality of the occasion, and adorned myself with the alarm clock to specifically honor the award.

First, though, the SFWA held a business meeting at 10 a.m. which I attended. It was pretty dull, like all corporate meetings are; nothing of substance was discussed and there's really nothing interesting to report. At least by attending I assert my right to participate as a dues-paying member. Of course, in reality I'm marginalized in the group by not being a doctrinaire political leftist, or a self-hating white person. I'm also a Christian - a total loser to these superior god-like beings. I kept my mouth shut; just reminding these hateful snobs you're alive pisses them off.

The Sidewise Awards at noon were conducted by Evelyn Leeper and Steven Silver, who gave a really interesting talk about the origins of the award almost two decades ago, when there was an especially noticeable outburst of alternate history stories. I thought it was a hoot one of the names considered for the award was the Hodge Backmaker Award, for the protagonist in the milestone alternate history book "Bring the Jubilee".

They also explained the process of reading and winnowing the finalists.  Sitting there, I realized I remembered one of the finalists, "Something Real" (I had forgotten the title since reading it) and when I made the connection to Rick Wilber, I said to myself, "He's got it in the bag, that WAS the best alternate history of 2012."

I was right, and Rick was very grateful for the award. He gave a very nice little acceptance speech and he had family members there, too, to enjoy his moment of happiness. It was a well-deserved honor, and I have no compunction in saying that I was fairly beaten by a great piece of literature. I am proud that "Great White Ship" was judged worthy to stand in the same company.
Rick Wilber proudly poses with his Sidewise Award after the ceremony, flanked by yours truly and fellow finalist Catherynne Valente.

After photos were taken, I trotted off to the food court at the Rivercenter Mall where John Denardo was meeting up with his SF Signal fans. I visited briefly with John, and met Wesley Chu, an up and coming young author (well, at my age, everyone looks young) who was very nice to talk to.

Because of my sleep deficit, I went to bed again that afternoon in the hotel room, and then got up that evening to attend room parties. I met up with a number of people in the various party suites; had a really nice conversation with Adrian Simmons (an old chum) and Diane Turnshek (whom I had never met before) in a hallway at one point.

The dead last party suite I attended was the one for the Phoenix NASFIC, and they had the best layout, they went all out for a retro look, which included an old Philco Predicta television - the model with a horizontal cabinet and and the picture tube by itself on a swivel on top.

It was just about 1:30 a.m. and "The Shape of Things to Come" was concluding on the screen. The suite was quiet and dark, and as the final scene ended it all seemed eerie and other-worldly. Not nostalgia or deju vu, more like a sense of loss or regret.

That was it for Saturday, and I was off to bed.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In memoriam

I'll interrupt my ongoing recapitulation of WorldCon to note the passing - within a week of the end of the con - of three well-known s-f authors.

As the con was winding down - and some people, like me, were already on the way home - word came Monday that Fred Pohl had died at age 93. Pohl is one of those towering figures from the Golden Age, and I was honored to meet him in person in 2004 when my wife and I traveled to Lawrence, Kansas, to attend the Campbell Conference at the University of Kansas (that was the previous time I met James Gunn, before this WorldCon). I brought along a copy of the issue of the Galaxy magazine with the story he wrote with Cyril Kornbluth, "Gravy Planet", which was expanded into the famous novel "The Space Merchants". He scribbled off a signature.

I thought it was interesting that a few days earlier I met David Kyle at the convention; to the best of my knowledge, Kyle now is the last living member of The Futurians.

On Wednesday, Ann Crispin, who had been battling cancer for a number of years, posted on her blog that the struggle was over, and she died Friday. I met Ann and her husband, Michael Capobianco, together at the Nebula Awards in Washington, D.C. in 2012. She was pleasant and nice to me. She was not only known as a writer but also an advocate for the rights of authors, and was well-respected and liked by many people.

Last weekend the news came that Patricia Anthony had died a month earlier. She was an author who had her heyday in s-f in the 1990s. I have somewhere  a box of old magazines I once bought in a garage sale, and they included many copies of Aboriginal S-F, a magazine that folded about the time I started writing (early in the last decade). She had a story in just about every issue; I think she was the wife or girlfriend of the editor. She drifted away from writing genre fiction a number of years ago, which is why she wasn't in touch with the field and her death wasn't immediately noted. One of her last - and best - science fiction stories, "Eating Memories", originally published in 1998, was reprinted in Revolution S-F in May 2003, the issue before my first story "Silvern" was published. I remember reading it, and thinking it was pretty classy. I never met Anthony personally.

Deaths are always markers in the passage of time for the living, and these deaths - especially of people so significant to the genre such as Pohl and Crispin - are also a cause for reflection. The fact Pohl and Crispin died during the week following the convention makes it doubly so.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WorldCon gimmicks

There's a couple of fun things I did at WorldCon, "jest fer grins" as we say in Texas. I took my portable Smith Corona Classic 12 typewriter, and I propped up an Etch-a-Sketch on the platen. I photocopied small version of the covers of "Fantastic Texas" and "Texas & Other Planets" and taped them on the Etch-a-Sketch, and then claimed the set-up was my antique iPad.

The gag went over well at the Steampunk panel I moderated Friday, but I didn't do it twice. There was simply a problem with logistics; the typewriter was too heavy to lug around a lot. It otherwise stayed in the hotel room until I left Monday morning.

The other gimmick I tried was a lot easier and went over well. I have an old-fashioned wind-up alarm clock in my home office. It's not an antique - I bought it last year at the local hardware store. It's the classic design; brass body, round face with large white numbers on a white background, and the two bells at the top with the little hammer between them.

I was proud to be a finalist for the Sidewise award for alternate history this year, and so I decided in honor of the event I'd put the clock to good use. I hung it on a lanyard and wore it all day Friday and Saturday until the Sidewise awards presentation. It worked out well. A few people made comments about Flavor Flav, but most people took it in stride, and when they asked its significance, I told them.

In addition to good self-promotion, it turned out to be good promotion for the Sidewise awards, so I was able to give them a boost, also. Friday I wore a jersey all day (my "Mad Scientists Union Local" shirt) but Saturday I wore a black suit with a blue Texas-themed tie, and the clock stood out even better then. I told some people I was the mad scientist Anachronism Antonelli.

I think I may have given the Sidewise awards administrators an idea with the clock; maybe they'll pick up on the theme in the future.

Now that I think of it, I suppose the suit was a gimmick, too. I decided that, since so many people dress so informally at conventions, I'd swing the other way, and on Saturday wear the suit because of the Sidewise awards. One friend commented that "Lou is cosplaying as a normal person."

Monday, September 09, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part Three

Still working my way slowly through the WorldCon experience, I'm up to Friday night, which saw for me the only panel that was a mis-fire.

"How to Build a Book Launch Campaign" seemed to be, right off the bat, a hinky choice for me, but I assumed the programmers put me on there because I work on a newspaper, and I could discuss what book promotion looks like from the other side of the desk. I feel the con programmers actually read my bio in making some of their choices of panels for me.

But I have never written a book, only short stories, so my only books have been collections. I didn't think I would have a lot to say on this panel.

Hoo-boy, was I right.

The panel, which convened at 8 p.m., got off to a strange start. We panelists started congregating in the wing of the convention, and the moderator said she got an email from the con that the room had been changed. Some bystanders confirmed that, so we traipsed a long way to get to the new room.

There were three woman and me - another guy was AWOL - and as we started the panel, since everyone else seemed to hold back, I started off; I really didn't think I would have a lot to contribute, so I thought I say my main spiel at the start and then pipe down.

Well, I guess the moderator thought I was long-winded and/or boring, because she cut me off in mid-sentence, and then for the next 15 minutes, the three ladies all talked amongst themselves. This is a phenomenon that has nothing to do with the con; it's an American social phenomenon. Middle-aged American men see it all the time, especially in the workplace. When a cluster of women start talking amongst themselves, they will pretty much ignore any males around.

After ten minutes I realized they had forgotten I was there, and I would have dozed off except for the noise.

Twenty minutes after the panel started, someone from the con came in the room and said the missing panelist was in the original room, and there were more people there than with us. He didn't have a clue why the room change was made in the first place. We all picked up and went to the room where the panel was originally scheduled to be.

Now, while I was sitting on the dais in the first room, I was getting so bored, I thought about going down and being comfortable in the audience. This room change was a great opportunity, then, and when I got to the other room. I sat in the first row and left the ladies to join the young male author on the dais.

They started right back up a didn't even notice me in the audience, until someone pointed me out, but I told them to carry on, they were doing fine without me. And honestly, I think the audience members enjoyed the panel, the other authors were pretty knowledgeable about the subject. I took a few notes myself, looking forward to the day I actually peddle a book.

The three muses let the young guy talk a few times, but he was good looking and innocent. He had no idea what happened in the other room, anyway.

After the panel., a couple of guys from the audience grabbed me in the hall and asked me questions they had expected to ask me in the panel, and we had a nice visit, so I did contribute in my way.

I'm sure none of the other panelists remember me, and quite frankly, I don't care. I have a great job, a wonderful wife, and a good life. The fiction writing is a sideline. It obviously means more to them than to me. I wouldn't even say the panel was a bad experience. It was fascinating to observe how oblivious and self-centered people some people are.

Since I hadn't gotten a good night's sleep the night before, I headed back to the hotel and was in bed by 9:30 p.m. so I would be well-rested and ready to hit it Saturday.

I slept like a bear.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Like ships that pass in the night - More on WorldCon

It's been almost a week since I left San Antonio, but I'm still posting. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was drawn away for a few days covering a really serious local news story, but things are stabilizing, and besides, that story isn't going away any time soon. I am leading my newspaper on a community service project to get reparations for the wanton destruction of the railroad depot, or to force them to rebuild the structure. I'd say the odds are against us, because we are dealing with a bunch of godless money-grubbing assholes, but we will fight the good fight.

Back to posting about the WorldCon. Such a large event not only generates a lot of news, it draws a lot of people, and one of the drawbacks that comes with that is that you can go all four days and not meet someone you wanted to. Add to that the event was sprawled over three city blocks, and the result is you come back home regretting you didn't find someone.

For example, I've never met Cat Rambo in person, and I know she was at the con, but our paths never crossed. I wish I had also run into Harry Turtledove again; I met him once at a Dallas Con. I know I'm not the only person who had this problem, I've seen many similar observations from other people.

People I was happy to meet, and chat with multiple times, included Gardner Dozois, George R.R. Martin,  and Robert Silverberg. I'd never met Silverberg before, and he was very accessible and nice. A few people I saw just once, and quickly; these included Jay Lake, Michael Swanwick, Wesley Chu and John Klima. John and Wesley were people I had never met before. There were a few cases where I had nice extended visits with some people, including Steven Silver, David Marusek and Diane Turkshek.

Other people I met a few times in passing included Sam Taylor, Bill Ledbetter, and John Denardo.

There were two authors who were on the same panel with me twice, Gail Carriger and Madeline Ashby, for the record.

Other than Howard Waldrop and Gardner Dozois, there were really no authors I went out my my way to track down; Howard has always been a good chum, and I wanted to report to Gardner on the progress of my WIP, Letters from Gardner.

I knew when I found Howard, I'd find George R.R. Martin, and I was right, and I also got him and Gardner together, too.

An atrocity

I knew bloggers should post every day - and I was following that dictum last week as I kept recounting my visit to San Antonio and WorldCon - but I got sidetracked Wednesday by the real world. The Union Pacific Railroad tore down an old, disused depot without any warning or consideration for the city. It was a travesty and an atrocity, and I've spent a lot of time in the past few days documenting this debacle.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part Two

As I mentioned in my previous post, the convention spread across multiple blocks and buildings. I'm not the only participant who has subsequently mentioned the three-building sprawl, which was especially grueling for people with orthopedic problems. I suppose there wasn't much to be done; a convention of this size needs a venue of a certain size. Just the exhibition hall alone seemed the length of a football field. Sometime Saturday as I was walking I heard a strange slapping sound, and I realized my feet had gone so numb I was slamming them against the floor as I walked. As a result I tried to be especially aware of my feet and legs; in the long run, everything turned out fine, but I skipped the Hugo awards ceremony Sunday night to engage in water exercises in the hotel pool; otherwise I don't think I could have stood the long drive home Monday. I exercise in the pool at the local wellness center at least three times a week anyway, and as I sit here Thursday morning, my legs feel fine, so I think I handled the issue properly. Neuropathy is a common problem for people with Type II diabetes; fortunately, my circulation and healing remains excellent.

The reason I mention this subject right off the bat in this post is because the three-building sprawl hit me right in the face Friday morning when I went to check in at registration. I arrived in San Antonio too late to register Thursday, so I schlepped over the convention center first thing Friday at 9 a.m. when registration opened. When I got there, they reminded me I had to finish paying for my registration (I paid $60 a long time ago) and I realized I didn't take my checkbook, so I had to go all the way back to the Rivercenter hotel. By the time I got there, I was so light-headed I had to eat breakfast, and I made the mistake of going to the Denny's across the street.

It took an hour to have breakfast - a half hour to wait and a half hour for my order, which was botched (you can't tell the difference between fried and scrambled eggs?). The restaurant staff was badly over matched by the breakfast crowd. Then I got the checkbook and was able to register, just in time to make the Steampunk panel I moderated at 11 a.m.

That panel went very well, and was very well attended. This is a case where I was able to do a good job as moderator because I had relatively little to contribute - although I could address the subject intelligently. The other panelists - Gail Carriger, Jess Nevins, Jayme Blaschke and a late addition, whose name I am embarrassed to say I can't remember - were all very knowledgeable and informative. I enjoyed the panel, and so did the audience.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

WorldCon Report: Part One

First, it might be interesting to note this was the first convention I ever attended where I registered in advance. This may sound strange, but over the years, every time I registered for a convention, something would happen at the last minute, and I wouldn't be able to attend (and I'd lose my registration fee). This happened so often that back in the 00's I stopped registering for conventions. It worked better for me if I showed up and registered at the door.

Now, I haven't had to register for a convention for many years since I've been getting invites as a panelist for a long time, but WorldCon requires that all panelists register. I paid my $60 basic membership a long time ago, but I didn't pay up the rest until I got to San Antonio, so I suppose that's why the curse didn't strike.

BUT it almost did!

My wife is a school teacher, and she worked Thursday and Friday (it was still the first week of school), so she didn't come with me. My mother-in-law came Wednesday to stay the holiday weekend with her. Thursday morning, as I was preparing to leave, she came to me and said the carpet in the closet of the guest bedroom was wet.

I found that the interior air conditioning unit drain was stopped up, and water was spreading from the drain under the walls across the slab of the house. I had to call a repairman, and because of that I didn't get on the highway until almost noon, which was much later than I had planned.

The bad part about that is that I hit Austin during its rush hour, which took me an hour to traverse, and I had to turn the A/C off in my car or else it would have overheated. I didn't get to San Antonio until past 7 p.m. I was hot and sweaty, and it was too late to register for the convention.

On a positive note, I was able to find the hotel easily, and also the public parking garage. I had to use printed Mapquest directions; my GPS had died a week earlier; apparently it needs a new battery.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt rented the room at the Marriott RiverCenter, which we shared with Alex Schvartsman and Maurice Broaddus. Maurice and I actually collided at the front door of the suite, which was fun; later I spent time chatting with Bryan and Alex. I know Bryan from working with him on the Raygun Chronicles anthology; I didn't know Alex beforehand.

The first person I ran into at the hotel was a fan of mine, who said he had gone to the San Antonio library earlier in the day for the reading of the Rayguns Over Texas anthology. He said he was surprised I wasn't in the anthology, and he had asked them about it. That sorta tickled me. I told him it just wasn't meant to be, the Austin clique didn't like me and that pretty much was that.

That wasn't the first time during the weekend someone asked me about the anthology, but hey, it's s free country, they can publish whatever they like. I suppose it's better for people to ask why WASN'T Antonelli in the book, than why WAS he?

I took some time that evening to scope out the layout of the con. I was unhappy to see that our hotel was two blocks away from the convention center; to get to the convention, I had to leave our hotel, cut through another hotel across the street and across that block, then cross another street, and THEN begin schlepping through the convention center.

I realized I was going to do a lot of walking in the next three days - not a fun prospect, in light of the fact I have neuropathy in my feet because of diabetes.

My SoonerCon schedule

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