Sunday, August 27, 2006

Down for posterity

I guess one of the outcomes of slowly breaking into the writing field is that I'm now listed in some reference works. I recently noticed that I'm now included in the ISFDB (Internet Speculativel Fiction Data Base) because "Rocket for the Republic" qualifies as a pro sale.

The ISFDB is a community effort to catalog works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It links together various types of bibliographic data: author bibliographies, publication bibliographies, award listings, magazine content listings, anthology and collection content listings, and forthcoming books.

It is hosted by The Cushing Library Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection and Institute for Scientific Computation at Texas A&M University.

I also found out yesterday I am included in the Locus Index of Science Fiction for 2005. This is a reference workt the magazine compiles from the publications it reviews. In this case, I have three stories; "Rocket", "The Cast Iron Dybbuk" in Andromeda Spaceways, and "The Honor of the Blue Devil Patrol" from Beyond Centauri.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A glut of fiction

When I came home last evening, I drove the pickup to the mailbox (our mailbox isn't on the same street as our house) and popped open the lid to be confronted with what looked like in solid wall of mail.

When I reached in, I realized my latest copies of Asimov's, Analog and Fantasy and Science Fiction all arrived on the same day. A reason the stack seemed so impressive was that both Asimov's and F&SF had October/November double issues (Analog was just the November issue).

I think hitting the s-f trifecta has happened once before, but what stood out was that Patricia's copy of Guideposts also arrived. I'm sure this is the first time all four magazines we get arrived on the same day.

Of course, Guideposts is a very different magazine from the ones I get. Strangely enough, it was mentioned during a panel I attended at Conestoga last month.

During a discussion on how to submit, one point made on a panel (by Beverly Hale, I believe) was that you must do some research and know your markets. "For example, don't send your vampire/lesbian/slasher story to Guideposts."

Today is the last day for the WorldCon in Los Angeles. It would have been nice if I could make it, but it would have been much too difficult in terms of time and money. Oh well, I'm sure I'll get to a WorldCon some time in the future.

Patricia and I do have an invite for the annual Bowie County 4-H banquet tonight. Of course, Ill be taking pictures and writing it up for the paper.

I will say one thing - given the choice between having dinner tonight at WorldCon or the 4-H banquet (if you know anything about 4-H banquets) I'm sure I'm going to having the far TASTIER meal!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Talking to future s-f readers (and maybe writers)

My wife is a student teacher in a local third grade classroom. Recently, they asked the students to do a creative writing exercise. One of the kids took a stab at a time travel story, and that set my wife to thinking.

She asked me if I'd speak to the kids about writing - since I cover both fiction as an a-f author and non-fiction as a journalist.

I spoke to the kids for a half hour before lunch on the subject of writing - both the short stories and what I do for the newspaper - and then after lunch I read them the YA story that was published in Beyond Centauri last year, "The Honor of the Blue Devil Patrol".

Since the pivotal plot twist in the story centers on whether the Martian scout patrol will do the right (honorable) thing with the treasure they find, the classroom teacher was able to make little point on the subject of character to the kids.

The story was probably a little over the kids' heads, but they seemed to enjoy it. I tried to use some gestures as I spoke to illustrate the story to help them get the feel - like at the point in the story where the scout throws his canteen to distract the water-seeking skolopender. I was proud of the way I pantomimed lobbing the canteen.

I leaned on the skolopenders a bit - but the kids related to the "monster" aspect of the story. One boy asked me if the creatures are real. I said, "I sure hope not, but you're young. Why don't you go to Mars some day and let me know? But I'll be real old by then."

I put some term on the dry erase board to help the kids follows along - like skolopender, tovarish and such. I jotted down both Robert Heinlein and Stanley Weinbaum's names - because the craters named for them are mentioned in the story - and then introduced them as "Robert Heinwein".

At the end of my visit, I called up the boy who wrote the time travel story, gave him my personal business card. I told him he could call me for help any time. He have me a big hug in front of the classroom.

Well, I hope I did some good.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Latest story published

Revolution Science Fiction ( has published my latest short story, "Wish List", which can be described as a Post-Singularity farce heavily influenced by the likes of Charlie Stross and the late Robert Sheckley.
Over on the Asimovs discussion board, someone said it read like Molly Ivins channeling Fredric Brown through Rudy Rucker.
In the story, the last human being with a "real" job gains self-esteem after a bizarre disaster strikes a futuristic make-believe world.
This is my 26th story published since June 2003, and the sixth in RevolutionSF. Four of those stories have received Honorable Mentions in "The Year's Best Science Fiction".
Didn't get any writng done this weekend. Saturday I had to cover the annaul civic festival and I was out from 7 a.m. until past 9 p.m. that night. I could barely walk Sunday.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sad News

< want to make sure you know that my beloved wife Kathy Frost passed away this afternoon.  We are blessed to have so many wonderful friends and will be forever grateful for your support and prayers.


Kathryn George Frost
1948 - 2006

 Major General (ret.) Kathryn George Frost, 57, of Latta, S.C., died August 18, 2006 following a four year battle with breast cancer.  At the time of her retirement in April of 2005, Frost was the senior woman on active duty in the U.S. Army.

A native of Dillon County, S.C., Frost grew up in Latta where she was valedictorian of her Latta High School class in 1967.  She was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of South Carolina in1970 and later earned a Masters in Counseling degree from Wayne State University in Michigan while on active duty in the Army.

Frost entered the Army with a direct commission in 1974 and served with great distinction for the next 31 years.  Her final assignment was as Commander of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), an $8 billion retail entity with 48,000 employees worldwide.  As Commander of AAFES, she was responsible for establishing post exchanges (PX’s) and base exchanges (BX’s) in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Under her leadership, AAFES received a special award from the National Retail Federation for its work in these two war zones.

rior to serving as commander of AAFES, Frost served four years as the Adjutant General of the Army and as Commander of the Eastern Sector of the Military Entrance Processing Command. Her other assignments included two tours in Berlin, Germany, work on the staff of Gen. Colin Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and assignment as a White House Social Aide during the Reagan and first Bush presidencies.

Frost excelled at everything she attempted.  She was first in her WAC (Women’s Army Corps) basic course and first in her WAC advanced training course.  The WACs were merged into the regular Army a year after Frost entered active duty. She was recognized as “South Carolina Woman of Distinction” at the 2005 Miss South Carolina Pageant, a proud moment for Frost who had been runner-up for “Miss Latta” as a teenager.

She met her husband, former U.S. Congressman Martin Frost (D-TX), when she was assigned to his district in 1996 as Deputy Commander of AAFES, which is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.  They were married in August of 1998 in the prayer room of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC., in a ceremony presided over by the Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Frost and her husband moved back to Latta earlier this summer when they purchased the house where she grew up.  She was a member of the Latta United Methodist Church.

She was the daughter of the late Gerry George and the late Dorothy Jean George.

Frost is survived by her husband, Martin, her sister Gwen Strickland, her brother-in-law Frank Strickland, and her nephew, George Strickland, all of Marion, three step-daughters, Alanna Bach of El Paso, Texas, Mariel Sala of Fort Worth, Texas, and Camille Frost of Santa Fe, New Mexico and three step-granddaughters, Helaine, Simona and Esther Bach all of El Paso and numerous cousins.

Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery following a memorial service at the Latta United Methodist Church.  The family requests that expressions of sympathy be made in the form of contributions to the Latta United Methodist Church or Latta High School. 

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Armadillocon was held in Austin this weekend. I didn't go. Conestoga was just two weeks ago. I really enjoyed it, and didn't feel like making the effort to turn around and go to Austin two weeks later.
This year has been tight on money, what with car troubles, hospital bills and the wife completing her last semester of student teaching. I figured a few weeks ago I needed to drop a con somewhere; DilloCon seemed logical, since I wasn't a guest. All the other cons I've been to (ConDFW, AggieCon and Conestoga, plus FenCon so coming up in September) have been nice enough to invite me as a guest. Nobody would miss me at DilloCon.
I met Julie Czerneda (the GOH at DilloCon) at Marcon in Columbus back in 2004 - we were on the same panel. She's a nice person, and a great writer, but she works more in the long form. I think the gremlins that run DilloCon seem to be more impressed by novelists that short story writers.
I have back-to-back weekend trips coming up in September, since the next Turkey City is the Saturday following Fencon.
I met the FenCon folks at Conestoga, and they seem to be nice bunch who've got their act together. I'm looking forward to the Con.
Strangely enough, Tulsa is a lot closer to where I live than Austin. It took me three and a half hours to get to Conestoga, but it's at least an hour more to Austin (part of the problem is the fact it's a straighter shot to Tulsa from here in the environs of Texarkana than to Austin, because to get to Central Texas I have to head due west to Dallas and then south).
The biggest incentive for me to attend DilloCon would have been the chance to meet James P. Hogan - but he was also a special guest at Conestoga. We weren't on any panels together - and unfortunately all his signings were at times I WAS on panels.
Saturday afternoon I found out when he was doing his podcast, and I went up to the room. I sat through the podcast (which was a very interesting interview) and then buttonholed him.
I had taken a half dozen books with me, and we went down to the bar, where he was nice enough to sign them. We sat and chewed the fat for a couple of hours.
I think the funniest thing was when he opened a book and saw it still had a Hooks Library card in it (it had been taken out of circulation - I bought off the remainder table).
He raised his eyebrows and said "Ah-Hah!". Of course, he assumed I had stolen it.
Of course, I mumbled my explanation. I don't know whether believed me, though.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Texas Republicans committing slow suicide

by Cynthia Hall Clements

Cannibalism, noun. “The ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being.
When Texas Republicans meet for dinner these days in Austin, moderate Republicans are on the menu. Chomp, slurp, and burp. Republicans are eating their own. Political cannibalism—a free-for-all on middle-of-the-spectrum Republicans—is the main course du jour for the powers-that-be in Texas Republican politics.
Those who refuse to adhere to the party line- goose stepping with the strict ideology of the national party platform—must taste really good to their fellow Texas partners in crime (not literally, in most cases, of course).
This battle is one of party unity versus political independence, consensus-at-all-costs versus constituent representation, the latter be dammed. It is David versus Goliath, but both sides are supposedly wearing the same team jersey. The enemy is within; the enemy is their own for Texas Republicans.
Here is the scenario. The state Republican Party paid for calls last fall to ascertain the popularity of certain, more moderate House Republicans, including and according to those allegedly targeted—Reps. Carter Casteel of New Braunfels, Tommy Merritt of Longview, and Charlie Geren of Fort Worth.
With a wink and a nod, and maybe a snicker or two, Jeff Fisher, the party’s executive director, wants us to believe—but only after nine months of duress from public pressure and media scrutiny —that the party financed this effort, these “survey calls,” to identify voters sympathetic to the Republican cause. They sought supporters of Proposition 2—a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage statewide, which passed last fall. Fisher says the targeted moderate Republicans and their allegations are “paranoid.” Fisher’s quasi-admission of pseudo-guilt is long overdue—and entirely-too-convenient right before the November elections—but doesn’t stray far enough into the realm of reality, let alone truth.
What Fisher doesn’t want us to realize is that the calls were in fact, a litmus test of sorts about what it means to be a Republican. Some centrist Republicans refuse to fit the neo-fundamentalist mold of the Party—a bottom-line, anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion ideology. He doesn’t want us to believe that Republicans are now seeking to redraw the boundaries, figuratively, not literally, on what a Texas Republican is and should be. Conformity is the Republican mantra. What Fisher really doesn’t want us to know is that the state Republican Party is turning on itself in a moment of political cannibalism.
The facade of party unity, of Republicans against Democrats, us versus them, is showing the wear and tear of fissure cracks. After over a decade of waging war against the Democratic Party in Texas—quite successfully, one might suggest—Republicans are dividing and conquering amongst themselves. And therein lies the insidious nature of exclusionary tactics, that eventually no one will be left standing. This path of eliminating those who are different is one that the Republican Party—nationally and statewide—has been pursuing with a vengeance for the last two presidential elections.
The Republican circle grows tighter and tighter through exclusion. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons. Reproductive rights advocates and the women who would attempt to fill prescriptions for Plan B, the emergency contraceptive. People of no faith and spiritual progressives. Eventually only socially and fiscally conservative white men—with a few token women and minorities—are left.
The gene pool of Republicans is shrinking through inbreeding and execution. Texas Democrats should be gleeful at the prospect of exiled Republicans joining their ranks. It is only time that compels moderate Republicans to re-self-identify their political persuasion. A political realignment looms.
Political cannibalism is a dangerous game of Russian roulette. Eat today; be eaten tomorrow.
Cynthia Hall Clements has worked for the legislatures of both Tennessee and Louisiana and was most recently a columnist for the Lufkin Daily News in Texas. She is currently attending law school.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Election Prediction: Democrats Will Take Back House

Monday , August 07, 2006

By Martin Frost

This year’s election is three months from this Tuesday, so it’s time to go out on a limb and predict the outcome in the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

With the usual caveat that events could change the dynamic in the next three months, let me venture the following prediction: Democrats will capture a net of at least 25 seats and will control the next Congress by at least 10 seats.

This prediction is based on the premise that Democrats will not lose any seats in which a Democratic incumbent is running for re-election. That’s exactly what served as the bedrock of the Republican’s historic win in 1994. No Republican incumbent was defeated that year. My reasons for believing Democrats can pick up enough additional seats for a majority are explained after my predictions.

Since Democrats are currently down by 15 seats, picking up 25 seats would give them a 10 seat margin when Congress convenes in January. If the bottom totally falls out for Republicans and there is a national tidal wave in favor of the Democrats, the margin could be much greater.

For purposes of this discussion, let’s assume a solid Democratic victory but not a tsunami.

Here’s how I get to a 25 seat pick-up:

(1) The Big Five: There are five states (Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana) with at least three Republican seats in serious jeopardy. In fact, there are four seats at play in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Let’s assume Democrats pick up two seats in each of these states for a total net gain of 10.

(2) The Rest of the East: Democrats have real chances of winning one seat in New Jersey and at least one seat in New Hampshire. That’s a net gain of 2 seats.

(3) The South: Democrats have a legitimate chance of gaining a seat in the following Southern states: Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Texas. There are several other seats at play in Kentucky and Florida, but for purposes of this discussion, let’s assume one in each state. That’s a net gain of 5 seats.

(4) The Midwest: Democrats have a real chance of winning Republican open seats in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. That’s a net gain of 4 seats.

(5) The Southwest: Democrats have a legitimate chance of winning a Republican seat in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. That’s a net gain of 4 seats. There are other seats at play in the region, but let’s assume just these 4 seats.

(6) Pacific Coast: Let’s assume one seat in California and one seat in Washington. There are other seats at play in the region, but let’s be conservative. That’s a net gain of 2 seats.

Those of you who are good in math will notice that I actually have identified 27 seats…that gives me a little margin for error. Politics is not an exact science.

The hardest part of this exercise is the five seats in the South, which has been a very difficult part of the country for Democrats in recent years. Maybe an extra seat or two from one of the “Big Five” will offset any races that fall short south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The biggest wildcard of them all is the one seat in Texas (Tom DeLay’s district). It is impossible to predict that one with any great certainty because of the protracted legal battle over whose name will appear on the ballot for the Republicans. However, former Democratic Congressman Nick Lampson clearly has a big head start in that race and has a legitimate chance of winning.

Also, some Republican incumbents are very good campaigners and may be able to withstand a national trend. A good example is Heather Wilson in New Mexico. However, she faces a very accomplished opponent in Attorney General Patricia Madrid.

Why am I optimistic about a Democratic takeover?

Let’s look at two recent polls from very different sources, but both coming to the same conclusion…Republicans are in deep trouble.

An NPR poll of likely voters in the 50 most competitive House seats in the country (40 Republican seats and 10 Democratic seats) released on July 27 showed that a majority of voters in these districts disapproved of the job President Bush is doing and that only 29 percent of the voters said they intend to vote for their incumbent Congressman.

In 2004, voters in these 50 districts went Republican by about 12 percent. In the current poll, voters in these same districts said they would prefer a Democratic Congressman to a Republican Congressman by about 6 points.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, released the same day, gave Bush an approval rating of only 39 percent and gave Democratic Congressional candidates a 10 point lead over Republican Congressional candidates.

For a number of months, much of the press bought into the Republicans’ mantra that there weren’t enough seats in play for Democrats to actually take control of the House. There clearly are enough seats up for grabs and this is how you get to the magic number.


Martin Frost served in Congress from 1979 to 2005, representing a diverse district in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. He served two terms as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the third-ranking leadership position for House Democrats, and two terms as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Frost serves as a regular contributor to FOX News Channel and is a scholar in residence at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from the Georgetown Law Center.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Strange rejection

I received an emailed rejection this week which has to go down as one of the strangest I've ever seen. I will not name the mag, but the story was published a year ago and in fact is one of my Honorable Mentions in the current "Year's Best Science Fiction". I checked my submissions log and realized I had sent the story off and forgot to log it. I guess I should he grateful that it was rejected - but the story must have been sitting in the slush pile at least a year and a half or more. Wow!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Now a word from the other side

I recently received this column through some old news sources that haven't completely dried up. I thought I'd give it a little exposure. Martin Frost was my congressman the many years I lived in Dallas County. The Republicans gerrymandered him out of office in 2004. It's nice to see he's still in there sluggin'.


Anti-Republican Mood Could Give Democrats Default Win

Monday , July 31, 2006

By Martin Frost

During the 1996 and 1998 election cycles, Democrats picked up a net of 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is far more than in any cycle since. I was the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during those years, so I am often asked about the appropriate strategy for House Democrats this Fall.

For months people have been clamoring for a detailed statement of what Democrats would do if they are successful in taking over the House. This issue has been raised by the press, Republican critics and by some Democrats.

Some party leaders have attempted to fill the void. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid issued a detailed position statement earlier this summer. Sen. Hillary Clinton, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, issued her own position paper on key issues recently.

All this is important but, after a great deal of thought, I believe this year’s Congressional elections will turn on two basic statements for Democrats:

1. We are not them (the Republicans) and

2. The country desperately needs someone to serve as a check on the excesses and misdeeds of the Bush administration.

Both are variations on the same theme.

The “we are not them theme” was recently discussed by everyone’s favorite Washington political analyst, Charlie Cook, in a July 22 column for the National Journal.

To quote Cook, “For all the talk about Democrats needing to ‘be for something,’ a stronger case can be made that the Democrats should just stay out of the way and let events take their course. If Democrats prevail on November 7th….it will be because they are not Republicans and because people voted against Republicans.”

This was also echoed by former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who suggested recently that the Democrats should reprise the 1946 Republican slogan (“Had Enough? Vote Republican”) which led to a Republican take-over of Congress.

It goes something like this: Republicans have run up large deficits after inheriting a significant surplus from President Bill Clinton. Republicans have opposed an expansion of valuable stem cell research which could lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and a variety of other conditions affecting millions of Americans. Republicans have pushed for tax cuts for the wealthy while giving crumbs to the middle class. Republicans have made a terrible mess out of the immigration issue. Republicans have given tax breaks to big oil companies while gasoline prices continue to climb. In others words, it’s time to give the other side a chance.

Closely related to this argument is the idea that divided government (Republicans in control of the executive branch and Democrats in control of at least one house of Congress) really does serve the country, particularly when the executive branch is acting in a high-handed, autocratic way.

Examples of this include:

--The poor intelligence provided by the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war

--The incompetent manner in which the administration has handled the occupation of Iraq

--Bush administration efforts to spy on phone calls and email traffic of American citizens inside the United States without a search warrant in the name of fighting terrorism

--Bush efforts to try prisoners being held in Guantanamo in tribunals deemed to be illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court

--Bungling by the administration in the response to Hurricane Katrina

--The mishandled Dubai ports deal

--Multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts to administration favorites to carry out reconstruction work in Iraq.

Should Democrats take control of the House or Senate, they will be able to conduct “oversight” hearings into activities run by the executive branch….not to punish or embarrass the White House, but to insure basic accountability. Witnesses would have to testify under oath and you can anticipate that a number of tough but fair questions would be asked.

Right now, there is little incentive for the party of the president to engage in aggressive Congressional oversight. However, some Republicans in Congress have started asking the administration tough questions in recent months, partially as a way of protecting themselves from voter backlash against unpopular policies this Fall.

Clearly it will be helpful to Democrats to advance specific ideas about major topics such as energy policy and the future of health care for the millions of uninsured in our country. However, it is possible that voters will not really be listening carefully to the specifics.

This may be the type of election which will be determined by the general mood of the electorate rather than specific policy positions by either party.

“We are not them” may be the most powerful thing that the Democrats can offer the voters this Fall...and it may just work.

More Kinky

My previous column about the campaign of Kinky Friedman for Texas governor was written before recent polls showed an upturn for Kinky. Here is the most recent polling data (which could change tomorrow in this volatile race):

A July 24 Rasmussen poll puts Perry (40 percent), Strayhorn (20 percent), Kinky (19 percent) and Bell (13 percent)

A July 24 WSJ/Zogby puts Perry (38.3 percent), Bell (20.8 percent), Kinky (20.7 percent) and Strayhorn (11 percent).

Kinky ran third in both polls. I stand by my prediction that Kinky ultimately won’t come close to winning, but he is doing better than I originally anticipated. Thanks to FOX website readers for calling my attention to the most recent polling data.


Martin Frost served in Congress from 1979 to 2005, representing a diverse district in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. He served two terms as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the third-ranking leadership position for House Democrats, and two terms as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Frost serves as a regular contributor to FOX News Channel and is a scholar in residence at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from the Georgetown Law Center.

Whatever happened to that old Sunbelt?

By LOU ANTONELLI Managing Editor It’s rained almost daily for the past four months. The ground is saturated; walking across grass is lik...