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Archive for August, 2018

Q&A with Christopher L. Bennett

Here’s a Q&A I did for ANALOG’s blog in conjunction with the release of “…And He Built a Crooked Hub” in the current issue.

The Astounding Analog Companion

The latest in Christopher L. Bennett’s Hub series is featured in our current issue [on sale now]. Below, he explains the origins of the series as well as the origins of his writing career and interest in science fiction.


Analog Editors: Is this piece part of a greater universe of stories?

Chrisopher L. Bennett: “. . . And He Built a Crooked Hub” is the fifth novelette in the Hub series of comedy SF stories, which have been appearing intermittently in Analog since 2010, and whose first three installments are collected in revised and expanded form in Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy, available from Mystique Press as an e-book or trade paperback. It’s also the middle of a loose trilogy of stories which began with “Hubpoint of No Return” in the May/June 2018 issue and will conclude with “Hub-stitute Creatures” in an upcoming issue.

AE:…

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“Crooked Hub” discussion and annotations are up!

You know the drill — the new Analog is on sale now, so I’ve updated my Hub Series page with non-spoiler discussion of “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” plus a link to the spoiler annotations page, which I trust folks will save until after they’ve read the story. You’ll need to scroll down a bit, since I decided to put it below the “Hubpoint of No Return” discussion, which just seemed logical.

I tried looking for online reviews to quote, but apparently it’s a bit early for those.

For some reason, while it took me ages to get around to finishing the previous issue I was in, I’m already nearly finished with the current issue; I’ve read everything but the novella. Some interesting stuff in this one, including a sci-fi twist on the French Revolution called “The Pendant Lens” by Sean McMullen, a story of AI activism called “Optimizing the Verified Good” by Effie Seiberg, a twisty monster-movie deconstruction called “The Unnecessary Parts of the Story” by Adam-Troy Castro, and a handy science-fact overview of “Alien Biochemistry” and its possible forms by Jay Werkheiser, useful for the SF worldbuilder.

“Crooked Hub” now on sale!

It’s a few days ahead of the nominal release date, but Analog Science Fiction and Fact has updated their homepage to show the September/October issue, featuring “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” part 2 of my ongoing Hub trilogy. Here’s the issue cover:

I’ve updated my home page with ordering links.

What’s more, the Next Issue page at the Analog site reveals that the concluding story, “Hubstitute Creatures,” will be in the very next issue, November/December 2018, going on sale October 23. That’s sooner than I expected, since the first two installments were four months apart. But then, it makes sense, since there was a delay between my sales of the first story and the other two. Anyway, I’m glad we won’t have to wait much longer for the trilogy to be complete.

But I’ve belatedly realized that “…And He Built a Crooked Hub” is a career milestone in itself (I seem to be achieving a number of those recently). It’s my 10th Analog story! (Yippee!! Cue celebratory sound effects.) Which seems like a lot until you consider that it took me almost exactly 20 years to achieve it, since my first story was in November 1998. Although there was a gap of over 9 years between my second and third Analog stories, so this is also my 8th story in the past 8 1/2 years, which is nearly twice as good. It’s also my 5th story in the past 2 1/2 years, which is yet another doubling of the pace. I doubt I’ll be able to continue accelerating, though, since with this story and the next one, I’m already up to one story per issue. I’d say that’s about as good as it can get.

For what it’s worth, “Crooked Hub” is also my 15th distinct published work of original fiction overall, not counting reprint collections (the non-Analog ones being “No Dominion,” “The Weight of Silence,” Only Superhuman, “The Caress of a Butterfly’s Wing,” and “Aspiring to Be Angels”). I have 3 more coming up with “Hubstitute Creatures,” my fantasy story “The Melody Lingers” in Galaxy’s Edge, and the story I’ll be writing for the Footprints in the Stars anthology. Two more sales and I’ll be up to 20 works of original fiction. For comparison, my tie-in tally currently stands at 27 novels and stories, two Marvel and the rest Star Trek. At this rate, it may only be a few more years before I can say that more than half of my published works are in my own original universes — although since all but one of my original works to date are short fiction while close to 60% of my tie-in works are novels, I’m still a long way from balancing the scales in terms of word count. But that’s another post…

New anthology project: FOOTPRINTS IN THE STARS

Well, it looks like I’ve achieved one more career milestone, just a month after the last one. Namely, it looks like I’ll finally be getting a story published in a non-Star Trek anthology. Danielle Ackley-McPhail of eSpec Books (publishers of my just-released Among the Wild Cybers collection) has just announced a new anthology project called Footprints in the Stars, Book 2 of eSpec’s Beyond the Cradle hard science fiction anthology series. I’m one of several authors announced as being on board for the project, including my fellow Trek authors Dayton Ward and Robert Greenberger, plus James Chambers, Russ Colchamiro, Bryan J.L. Glass, and others.

This is still in the preliminary stages; I’ve had a proposal accepted, but I haven’t even written the story yet. It’s the first time I’ll have ever worked that way on a non-tie-in project.  So I probably shouldn’t say too much about the specifics, since plans may change. But it will be a relatively short story, and my proposal is set in one of my existing universes and features a couple of established characters. As it happened, I already had an idea that was a natural fit for the theme of the anthology.

I’ll have more info as it develops, but it may be a while, since the anthology is slated for sometime in 2019.

A couple more minor site updates

Two site fixes today. One: A poster alerted me that my Uncertain Logic Annotations page was displaying the table too wide in Chrome and cutting off part of the text, which I think was due to that page having a second table inside one of the table cells. I tried some formatting changes to fix it, and something I tried caused the table formatting to disappear altogether, so I just went with that and converted it to the non-table format I use for most of my short-fiction annotations.

Two: I updated my Bibliography with my past couple of Hub stories and Among the Wild Cybers. It was about a year out of date, but now it’s current again. I wasn’t sure how to enter both AtWC and “Aspiring to Be Angels,” the new story appearing only in AtWC, so I just went with the redundancy.

Meanwhile, updating my own bibliography reminded me to check my Internet Speculative Fiction Database page, and as I hoped, they’ve finally added my three online original stories now that they’ve finally appeared in print in AtWC. Although they list AtWC as their only catalogued publication with just a note that they were previously published elsewhere. It also lists Hub Space now, but lists it by its trade paperback publication date of 2018 rather than its original e-book release date of 2015. Odd that an online resource would fail to count online publications. Although the bibliography isn’t entirely complete, since it doesn’t include the Russian translations of my first two Hub stories in ESLI Magazine. Still, it’s finally complete as far as my English-language professional fiction goes, so that’s good.

The Hub at my door

I just got a nice surprise — I heard the mail carrier drop something outside my door and ring my doorbell, and I found that my copies of the September/October Analog, containing my next Hub story “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” had been delivered. The issue doesn’t go on sale at newsstands until August 21, but I guess this means subscribers should be getting their copies soon.

This is my second Hub story in a row to have an illustration by Josh Meehan, but this one was unexpected: Instead of portraying any of the characters in the story, the opening image on pp. 78-9 offers the first-ever depiction of the exterior of Nashira Wing’s Hubdiver ship, the Starship Entropy:

Crooked Hub Starship Entropy

Illustration by Josh Meehan

(The Entropy‘s interior was previously depicted by Vladimir Bondar in the 2011 Russian reprint of “The Hub of the Matter.”)

EDITED TO ADD: I double-checked, and it turns out the Russian reprint of “Home is Where the Hub Is” does depict a ship in its accompanying illustration, but I think it may be meant to represent the Ziovris battleship, since it’s a bit large for the Entropy. It’s hard to say for sure:

HomeHubViktorBazanov

Illustration by Viktor Bazanov

It’s interesting to see how artists can bring interpretations to your ideas that you never considered. I’d been imagining a Hubdiver as something more compact and cylindrical-ish, insofar as I had any image in mind at all. This is a more interesting design, suggesting something that’s mostly engines, fuel tanks, and shielding but with the sort of habitat section I envisioned in the center. It’s plausible that the engines would be fairly large, since they need to be fairly powerful, and in that case it makes sense to offset them from the crew compartment because of heat and/or radiation. (That was Matt Jefferies’s original rationale in Star Trek for putting the U.S.S. Enterprise‘s engine nacelles out on long pylons, though that was forgotten by later productions that put the matter-antimatter reactor right in the middle of the engine room and occasionally had people walking around inside the nacelles.) I’m not sure about that portion that resembles a fighter canopy, though, since the crew compartment would need to be large enough to include a cockpit that can hold 3-4 people and a rear section with a quantelope tank, plus maybe a small galley, a head, and so on. I dunno, maybe the glossy portion contains all of that and can eject as a lifeboat in an emergency. Or it can detach and be plugged into a different engine assembly for upgrades.

And yes, I am aware that someone or something is firing missiles at the Entropy. You don’t expect me to spoil the suspense, do you?

Today’s book news: AMONG THE WILD CYBERS is out… and STAR TREK novels are back!

(Robot and Cover Design by Mike McPhail, McP Digital Graphics)Well, today’s the day that Among the Wild Cybers: Tales Beyond the Superhuman is officially released in trade paperback! It’s been out in e-book form for a week already, but I missed that date, so I decided to wait until today to do the big site update I’ve been planning. I’ve added a new page for the collection here:

Among the Wild Cybers: Tales Beyond the Superhuman

This page contains the basic information, discussions, and annotation links that used to be on my Original Short Fiction page, which is now much shorter because it only has one story left, “Abductive Reasoning,” at least until my recently sold “The Melody Lingers” comes out in Galaxy’s Edge. But I’ve added links to my story collections on that page so it isn’t too empty.

Meanwhile, I’ve put up four new annotation pages linked from the AtWC page, for “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide,” “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele,” “The Weight of Silence,” and the brand-new Emerald Blair story “Aspiring to Be Angels.” The notes from “Weight” were previously published on my old website. I never did full annotations to AVG and AWCC until now, but their annotation pages reprint the in-universe worldbuilding notes I did have on my old site. I’ve also updated the annotation pages for “No Dominion,” “The Caress of a Butterfly’s Wing,” “Murder on the Cislunar Railroad,” and “Twilight’s Captives” with the page numbers for the new book, along with a few minor updates to reflect changes in the new editions.

There may be a few other site tweaks coming, like a link of some sort to “Aspiring to Be Angels” on the Only Superhuman page, and maybe some kind of combined timeline page. But I think I’ve done enough for today.

Now, of course, it’s up to you guys, since now you can buy my book! (Well, you could pre-order it before, but now you don’t have to wait to get it!) And if you buy it from an online bookstore, please post a review of it. The more reviews a book gets on Amazon or a similar site, the more attention it gets. Reviews and ratings on Goodreads will help get the word out too!

The other big news today was announced at the Star Trek Las Vegas convention and reported on StarTrek.com:

STLV Reveal: Tilly Tale Heralds 2019 Trek Novels

Yes, after a long and frustrating delay in the license renewal, Pocket Books is finally resuming the publication of Star Trek novels. Three have been announced so far: a Discovery novel in January 2019 by Una McCormack, an Original Series novel in March by Greg Cox, and a Next Generation novel in April by Dayton Ward (picking up story threads from previous 24th-century novels). But there are more books that will be announced later when the time is right. And that’s about all I can say on the subject for now. Except that I’m glad to see that the novel line is finally back in business.