Looking Backward Into the Future December 30, 2012Posted by bobv451 in history, nostalgia, sense of wonder, writing.
Tags: 2012, 2013, new year, obits, passing friends
The year 2012 is about finished. Somehow the dark parts are remembered more than the upside, at least for me this year. Jim Young and Mike Montgomery both died unexpectedly, suddenly, both younger than me. Dave Locke’s death wasn’t as unexpected but still a shock.
I can’t help but think back on others who have meant so much to me and the friendship and utter resources of their great minds lost in prior years. Gwynne Spencer was a constant source of ideas and knew more about children’s books than, well, anyone. I was never quite sure how much of the Art Bell-esque stuff she believed or merely played with because of the imaginative challenges afforded in believing in such things. And I still find myself reaching for the phone to call Geo Proctor to get his take on…well, about everything. He never saw the ebook revolution. In a prior century we argued over so many of things that are commonplace today. His marketing expertise and artistic talents are lost–as is his friendship which I so highly valued.
But 2012 saw the deaths of others of note. N Jospeh Woodland, who invented bar codes (and who used to be a gangster). Martin Fleischmann of cold fusion infamy. Georges Lamour invented the paper chef’s hat. Jack Tramiel of Commodore 64 fame. George Rathmann founded Amgen. Jean Giraud (Moebius). There was also Ray Bradbury and Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride. And Airship Ventures, whose bankruptcy takes away a touch of wonder in our world.
The grains of sand run through 2012′s hour glass more like a river than a trickle. I doubt 2013 will be different, but then I am something of a pessimist. Will we see improvement in our lives next year? I think the opposite, but I am willing to be wrong. Entropy has set in to our society and the tides of prosperity ebb.
Leaving you with fond wishes for a better 2103 and this…
Merry Mayan Apocalypse December 20, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, death, End of the World, history, sci-fi, sense of wonder.
Tags: end of world, mass delusion, mayas, science fiction
Tomorrow, as I write this, the 5125 year Long Count Mayan calendar runs out. I personally think their next page with future 5125 years on it was lost. Or maybe got banned because it was a pinup calendar with sexy pictures of jaguars cavorting with Mayan maidens.
I have some fun with this and zombie apocalypses and so on, but too many people (even if it is just one, it is too many) take this seriously. Or at least use it for their own benefits, such as this sex hunt in NY.
Maybe not so bad? Will there be a population spike 9 months from now as after power blackouts? I doubt it. Like so much of this, just people scrambling for their 15 min of fame. (Doesn’t that 15 min come with some sort of inflation COLA? It’s *still* only 15 minutes. Unfair! We need a gummint commission to investigate the lack of increase.)
This hoohaw isn’t something making just occidentals crazy. Orientals can share it, too. China? Yup.
If you believe we’re all doooomed, okay. As I write this, it is Dec 21 in Australia and they are doing just fine. Maybe better than the US but that’s another story entirely.
But if you are looking for some mighty fine reading post-apocalyptic fun, I have discounted sf titles on my store starting on Dec 21 and lasting a few days only.
Wishing you a nice eternity. And a cheery Saturday.
The Black Hole Passes September 8, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, death, hobby, movies & TV, New Mexico, nostalgia, science, sense of wonder.
No, that’s not a typo. I’m not referring to Campbell’s The Black Star Passes but to the Black Hole surplus store in Los Alamos. The Black Hole was a compendium of junk and history, useable tech equipment and stuff I’m not sure anyone knew what it did.
The owner, Ed Grothus, died some time ago and was mostly anti-nuke, pro who knows what, who bought lots of surplus equipment at the Los Alamos lab and sold them. On one trip there, Gordon Garb laughingly asked for a 50kw oil bath capacitor–they had 3 on the shelf. I had less luck hunting for keyboards with the function keys down the left side–all their IBM keyboards predated fn keys. Stacks of Beta tapes (including the entire Prisoner series!). Dual trace oscilloscopes, miles of wire and coax, gadgets nobody knew what they were good for other than asking, “What’s that thing? It looks awesome, but…”
Entropy sets in, even in such backwaters of New Mexico. Alas, Hawking was right and black holes do evaporate.
A bit of irony is the closing coincides with a mini-Maker Fair here in Abq. Gordon is maybe going to come for that, which is A Good Thing since he missed Bubonicon this year.
I have been busy tidying up a lot of writing chores. More on them later. Got a short story to do ASAP, then…lots more stuff. But some of it is actually seeing the light of day this year. (And there are still prizes for the trivia contest available…hurry hurry hurry, time’s almost up!)
I leave you with the establishing shot for The Black Hole.
Boo…Boo…Bubonicon. 44 August 23, 2012Posted by bobv451 in autographing, Billy the Kid, conventions, e-books, fantasy, Free, movies, movies & TV, New Mexico, nostalgia, science fiction, sense of wonder, VIPub, westerns, writing.
add a comment
This weekend. Starting tomorrow! Coming amazingly fast this year–and anticipated even more since I missed last year.
Brandon Sanderson is GoH and via reports from GenCon he will make one fantastic guest of honor. Michael Cassutt is the TM and Ursula Vernon artist GoH. Wow. And George RR Martin and dozens of other writers will be there, too. But you can read all about this at the convention web site.
Want more info? Great article in the UNM student paper about us.
My schedule is packed to the gunwales. First out of the chute on Friday (that’s tomorrow as I write this!) is the Crazy Buck Rogers panel. 4-5pm. Following that I have a reading or discussion or whatever you want for an hour, 7:30-8:30PM. I’ve got a trio of stories I can offer up. A horror story (Avian Evisceration Device) from Career Guide to Your Job in Hell,, a fantasy (Memory of Wind) or a mystery mashup with Sherlock Holmes and Sir Denis Nayland Smith (Adventure of the Greenwich First Light). I don’t like to read so I am quite willing to talk about writing in general, ebooks, e-making your own, what to e-expect and all that good stuff. After all, my ebooks are now available in India via the Kindle. I can even be paid in rupees. If they offered royalties in a hard currency (say, Canadian loonies) that would be better. But I’ll take it in soft currency, ie, USD.
But wait, there’s more. There is the Cheesemagnet Panel at 9:30-11PM, if you don’t get enough cheesy movie talk in your workaday life.
Saturday the 25th? Why, yes, I have a panel 4-5PM on marketing sf via stuffing it into a teeny little niche. Instantly following that in the same room is the 5:20-6:30PM mass autographing, if your Higgs boson provides you enough mass to autograph. I don’t anticipate having much in the way of books to sell, so stock up from Nina and Ron Else in the huckster room (Who Else? Books), but I will have a copy or two of some titles (credit cards accepted). If you ask during the autographing, I will tell you how to get 44% off e-titles from my online store. Ebooks only, please, for this offer.
For most fans this would be enough. Not for yhos. Sunday.1:00-3:30PM auction. Super stuff. Super silly stuff, all auctioned off by the Bcon team of crazies (sans Gordon, alas–doctor things prevent him from attending this year)
This is coming up over the weekend. The past couple weeks have been filled. Finished 1.5 stories in a min-anthology I am doing before I speak at the 23rd Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium.
Also finished copyedits on China Jack, due out Dec 11 (you better read it quick–only 10 days from release date until the Mayan Apocalypse). And almost done on the edits for the final Star Frontier title, Black Nebula.
And work proceeds apace on the final touches for God of War 2.
Plus work on tax accounting stuff, student mss and generally goofing off. I leave you with this. My very first published book has been e-reprinted. This is it! Grab it at this low price while you can.
If Insanity is Doing the Same Thing Over and Expecting A Different Result, Would You Buy That for a Quarter? July 29, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, ideas, sense of wonder, VIPub, westerns, writing.
The original part of the title is attributed to Einstein, but he never heard of chaos theory or how boundary conditions alter outcomes. Where you start is important to how you end up. The latter part is from “The Marching Morons,” which I heartily recommend since this is yet another sf cautionary tale that has come true.
It’s been a week or two since my last blog. I had to finish a western (entire book done in 10 days–just like the “good old days” of writing). The accomplishment is certainly there and more than this, I found I wanted to write. It excited me again. What had changed prior to this stint?
Doing a blog every day, checking FB and Twitter, following other blogs, responding, taking the time to sift through my email, all that takes close to 3 hrs a day. By the time I finish, it’s around noon and I don’t want to write any more. I’ve written. That made whatever I did the rest of the day a chore rather than an excitement. Since I’ve finished the book, I’ve fallen back into tending the web stuff and . . . the thrill is fading again.
Dean Wesley Smith said the best way to promote your work is to write more of it. I agree and more so now than a month ago. I see little or no bounce on sales from blogging or FB or any of that other stuff people claim is “necessary.” Preaching to the same choir is fine, but if the choir isn’t increasing… I enjoy the blogs and the other the same way I did writing fanzines and fanac, but I need to survive in a world increasingly entropic. I think I will cut back on the blogs and FB in favor of the kick I get out of actually writing.
Where the writing will appear is something of a question. Westerns are going well but they are mostly to legacy publishers (the exception will be detailed later), which means they are theirs, not mine. Increasingly, the legacy publishers are closing rank and demanding all rights in perpetuity for anything they buy. That makes every novel a work for hire. Been over the trade-off between this and VIPub. Both have their place.
I had been doing an almost daily blog. Now it’ll be whenever something moves me enough to write, and it doesn’t intrude on the fiction.
I must get onto a nifty short story I’m doing for the Sherlock Holmes Crossover Casebook, “The Adventure of the Greenwich First Light.” The crossover in this case is Holmes teaming up with Nayland Smith (more accurately Watson with Petrie). And from there…more to be revealed!
One of the commercial space companies will send a pinch of your cremains to the Moon. I love the idea. I might put this into my will, if Mars is not an option. On that note, here is a Dilbert I mightily enjoyed.
Crazy Wish Fulfillment (At Least in My Dreams) May 12, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, ideas, music, sense of wonder, writing.
1 comment so far
All a writer has is time. How it is used (or wasted on endless hours of spider solitaire) is what counts. You can hammer at the keys endlessly or sit and stare out the window–both are perfectly useful writing components. If you can’t daydream, how can you write? (I saw an article about a treadmill hooked to a desk for the real Type A personality–one comment was how useful this was since, unlike a chair where you can lean back, it kept the worker from daydreaming. I don’t even want to know what company has HR people with such views.)
I have a score of ideas I want to do, novels mostly but also short stories. But one idea that has haunted me for a lot of years is a novel (actually it would have to be a trilogy) based on King Crimson’s Court of the Crimson King. Fabulous imagery, visions that crop up when I least expect it (whathell is a pattern juggler, anyway?) And a true challenge to weld all those images into a coherent story.
When I saw Kevin Anderson’s blog about doing Clockwork Angels
based on a new Rush concept album, I felt an emotion I don’t often experience: envy. Good on you, Kevin! What a great opportunity to showcase both music and word.
That made me wonder. I am taken with Court of the Crimson King and will never have the chance to turn it into written words. But what other songs press your button? If you had the time and permission, what songs would you turn into a novel? Rocket Man? Wooden Ships? Hijack (the Starship)? Doesn’t have to be f or sf. I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)? Folsom Prison Blues? Cherry Hill Park? Timothy? What?
I hope y’all checked out yesterday’s guest blog from Scott Gamboe (and if not, do so now).
I leave you with, what else? (Illos by Wayne Barlowe.)
add a comment
Victories seem more difficult to celebrate in the USA than disasters. Today in 1937 the Hindenburg caught fire and burned, with the loss of 36 lives, including one ground crewman. One reason this is so spectacular goes to how difficult it was to film news events then. Having the necessary equipment on hand required some time to set up the camera and an experienced camera operator. It wasn’t until 1978 that videocameras became common enough that another actual air disaster (this one killing 144) was captured on film/tape.
Now, of course, try to find someone who doesn’t have a smartphone with video capabilities to record air atrocities.
As you know, I am a fan of dirigibles and have been aloft in both a blimp and a zeppelin. On occasion I check out stories of flying. A marvelous fictional account is Max Allan Collins’ The Hindenburg Murders, complete with schematics.
I never saw the made for TV movie with the hyperbolic title Hindenburg:Titanic of the Skies and might count myself lucky for having missed it.
Want more about the Hindenburg? Here’s a nice place to read up.
I leave you with some of the most stirring unscripted news commentary of the past century.
Not Just Another Dead Teenager Movie April 17, 2012Posted by bobv451 in death, fantasy, movies, movies & TV, sci-fi, science fiction, sense of wonder.
1 comment so far
Cabin in the Woods is certainly more than that. I saw the trailer and thought it had some small, itty-bitty twist. Wrongo. I’m not going to spoil anything here, so read on, stalwart souls.
Joss Whedon has taken a lot of ideas from his other series and mixed them together here. There’s some Dollhouse and definitely some Buffy tossed in with Cube and any number of dead teenager movies. By that I mean the predictable cast of characters being knocked off one by one. “We’re safer if we stay together, so let’s split up so the machete-wielding maniac in the hockey mask can kill us one by one.” That plot has been used repeatedly. Only Whedon tells us why in this movie, and it makes sense.
Other than the nifty ending which is not the one you’d expect anywhere along the way (and the scene where a guy is impaled by a unicorn–or maybe the flesh eating merman who has a blood blowhole in the middle of his back), Whedon makes use of every trope imaginable. But he explains them so they are reasonable and makes fun of them and has some nifty characters.
What impressed me was the technique in the movie. Every time you are sure the characters are out of danger or know what’s going on, Whedon ups the ante. More death, more blood, unexpected twists. But I sorta wish, along with a character in the movie, there’d been more of the flesh eating merman. That’s a critter not seen before. Whedon is a master of pacing and playing on the “shock factor” (which means you jump, even if you know the scare scene is coming up–for me, that was the way I went through Jaws. Predictable scare scenes and they were still enough to make me yelp.). What makes Cabin different is the mixing of genres. It’s a dead teenager movie with the blonde slut, jock, geek, stoner and virgin, but they fight back. They are meant to be pawns and rise above the chessboard. But it is also an sf movie. And a horror movie. And the final scene is something else entirely.
The movie was caught up in the MGM bankruptcy so spent two years on the shelf. Glad it escaped.
I am still leery about The Avengers. Too many heroes spoil the broth. After seeing this one, though, Whedon might surprise me pleasantly there, too.
The Unseen World Around Us April 12, 2012Posted by bobv451 in dinosaurs, geocaching, history, ideas, New Mexico, outlaws, science, science fiction, sense of wonder, space, UFOs, writing.
1 comment so far
As you probably know by now, I am fascinated with the idea we go through life and see only a tiny fraction of it. This drew me to geocaching where most people go right by a cache and never know. This is a simple thing. The world–nature–is vastly more intriguing with its diversity and how new things pop up all the time, things we simply have not been attentive enough to see before.
In NM there are cemeteries all over the place, but who is buried int hem? Some terrible outlaw who never achieved the status of Billy the Kid or Blackjack Ketchum? Or just plain folks, putting in their time, working sunrise to sunset and then…dying. Unnoticed, or perhaps noticed only for a very short while by a very few people?
New discoveries in NM caverns possibly give us more powerful antibiotics. Who woulda thunk it? Back in 1986 the Lechuguilla Cave was discovered. It’s the 7th longest cave in the world and the deepest in the continental US. And antibiotic resistant bacteria have been found in it.
Which brings up the point, what antibiotics? Turns out these may be brand new ones. What else may be found here? It is near Roswell. Could those crafty UFOnauts be hiding down there, knowing it is the deepest point they could reach without digging? Are those antibiotics potentially from Out There, brought to Earth by the 1947 saucer crash? Or perhaps your ideas run more to thriller. If there is a bacterium, can it be used as a terror weapon? Only the antibiotic from the cave can save us?
More than 1200 new species of plants and animals have been found in the Amazon since 2000. What might James Cameron find diving into the Marianas Trench? That’s a long way down and hitherto unexplored.
Panspermia might be a way of repopulating lost species on earth. Comets and asteroid impacts can blast away huge chunks of earth (imagine finding those dinosaurs from ’40s and ’50s pulp stories on other planets!) And then return it.
So much of nature out there, unseen.
Barsoom! March 7, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, fantasy, movies, movies & TV, nostalgia, science fiction, sense of wonder, space, Texas, Wild West.
Saw the 3D version of John Carter last night and enjoyed it a lot. There are few movies that need 3D, but ones with huge vistas and gaggles of cgi attacking armies nudge into that category. I’m not sure it’s exactly necessary, though, and if you saw only the 2D version you wouldn’t be disappointed. (I won’t even mention the truly deplorable Princess of Mars since John Carter is light years better)
The tharks are incredible. Wonderful thought behind how a 4-armed goober would act and move. They seemed skinnier than I pictured them but Barsoom, after all, has a lighter gravity and that’s why John Carter can leap tall buildings, etc. But, perish the thought, Dejah Thoris was well endowed and not the least bit undernourished looking. (The actress, Lynn Collins, had a weird accent, but IMDB said she was born in Texas, classically trained in NYC and lives in London). My one complaint about her role was that, unlike ERB’s description in the books, she didn’t go around nearly nekkid enough.
The voice talent for the tharks was a known quantity in Thomas Hayden Church and Willem Defoe while the onscreen live action actors were, to me at least since I don’t watch Friday Night Lights, unknown. Oddly, Taylor Kitsch (what an unfortunate name) who played John Carter is a Canadian who plays a Marfa high school football player on tv?
The dog critter Woola was fun and the airships definitely unusual, though Roy Krenkel sorta formed my images of them in the Ace editions back in the ’60s. The white apes are nothing like I envisioned them, but in a way this was a throwaway scene.
The plot is pure pulp but one great improvement over the books was how the Therns were pictured. The writers worked them into the story, indeed made them the driving evil force, and gave us something better than astral projection for John Carter to get to Barsoom. Very clever, very well done, especially for the payoff at the end.
A lot of interest in Barsoom-esque stuff out there now. Stephen D Sullivan has his Elf Princess of Mars and a book I did a cover blurb for is Nathan Long’s Jane Carver of Waar, a most enjoyable book..
If only we could read our pulp stories under the light from Barsoom’s twin moons…