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Posts Tagged ‘Analog Science Fiction and Fact’

Arachne-Troubleshooter Universe chronology

Inspired by a similar thread my friend Keith R.A. DeCandido did recently, I figured that with Arachne’s Crime now on sale and Arachne’s Exile about to be released, this would be a good time to make a list of all the stories in what I’m now calling the Arachne-Troubleshooter Universe (since pretty much every story in it connects at least peripherally to either the Troubleshooter series or the Arachne duology) in their narrative chronological order. So here we go, using the era designations from the Historical Overview in Among the Wild Cybers:

Strider Era

November 2083: “The Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of” (Footprints in the Stars): Origin of the Troubleshooter Corps

March 2085 – October 2091: Only Superhuman Ch. 3, scenes 1-5: Early childhood of Emerald Blair

February 2092: “Murder on the Cislunar Railroad” (Among the Wild Cybers): Key incident in cyber rights

August 2098: Only Superhuman Ch. 3, final scene: Formative tragedy of Emerald Blair

April 2100 – January 2106: Only Superhuman Ch. 6, 10 & 14: Maturation of Emerald Blair

November 2106: “Aspiring to Be Angels” (AtWC): Emerald becomes the Green Blaze

May 2107: “They Also Serve” (Patreon exclusive): Vignette adjacent to Only Superhuman Ch. 1

May – December 2107: Only Superhuman main body: Green Blaze faces the Vanguard crisis

June 2108: “Conventional Powers” (Analog): Green Blaze at Ceres Mod-Con

c. 2112-15: Arachne’s Crime Ch. 1, scene 1 flashbacks: Childhood of Stephen Jacobs-Wong

Early Interstellar Era

2142: “Comfort Zones” (Kickstarter/Patreon exclusive): First meeting of Stephen Jacobs-Wong and Cecilia LoCarno

mid-2140s: Arachne’s Crime subsequent Ch. 1 & 5 flashbacks: Development of Arachne expedition

April – May 2176: Arachne’s Crime Part 1 [replacing “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide” (AtWC)]: Arachne destroys Chirrn habitat Lesshchi en route to colonize Cybele; crew put on trial by Chirrn

September – November 2176: Arachne’s Crime Part 2: Arachne crew deals with aftermath of trial

November 2176: Arachne’s Exile: Arachne crew introduced to larger galactic society

2202: “The Weight of Silence” (AtWC): Early FTL research in Sol system

November 2250: “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele” (AtWC): Cybele colonists face long-term consequences of Arachne‘s disappearance

Warp Era

2315: “Twilight’s Captives” (AtWC): Madeleine Kamakau negotiates conflict between Planetary Commonwealth and Nocturne League

c. 2480: “The Caress of a Butterfly’s Wing” (AtWC): Love story between two long-lost human refugees in a remote star system

For information on the books and stories, see my Original Fiction page.

CRIMES OF THE HUB is now in print!

January 23, 2020 5 comments

Once again, it took a few months longer than I expected, but I’m pleased to announce that the second collected volume of the Hub series, Crimes of the Hub, is now out in print-on-demand trade paperback as well as e-books. So far, the TPB is only available through Amazon:

Crimes of the Hub (paperback)

Crimes of the Hub cover

The hapless heroes of Hub Space return with new jobs, new allies, and new adventures at the heart of the galaxy, in a novel expanded and revised from stories originally appearing in Analog.

Just when cynical space pilot Nashira Wing has finally started to enjoy helping David LaMacchia with his clueless quest to crack the secrets of the Hub Network, he’s hijacked by a crew of kittenish thieves and trapped in the treasure vault of a far older civilization. What he finds there gives Nashira a shot at the score of a lifetime—but changes David’s life in ways that threaten their friendship. To keep the devious masters of the Hub from getting their tentacles on Nashira’s prize, she and David must mend frayed relationships and navigate new ones, all while facing adventures in larceny, sex, bureaucracy, hyperspatial geometry, and radical body modification. Can they come through it all with their hearts, their identities, and their dignity intact?

At the moment it’s got a separate entry from the e-book edition, and it isn’t yet on my Amazon author page, but I’ve requested that it be added, and once it has, I’ll try to remember how to request that they merge the listings.

And yes, it just struck me yesterday that I have two consecutive original book releases this year titled Crimes of the Hub and Arachne’s Crime. That’s pure coincidence and I didn’t even notice it before, I guess because they’re in two different universes and subgenres. Looking over my past bibliography, though, a lot of my original SF seems to involve crime, crimefighting, detective work, criminal justice, and the like. Maybe that’s not surprising — given that I don’t have any inclination to write war stories or military fiction, that would tend to leave crime and crimefighting as one of the primary ways of generating adventure, danger, and conflict. It’s interesting that it worked out that both of the consecutive Crime-titled books focus mainly on human “outlaw” characters at odds with alien legal and social systems — though the circumstances are otherwise very different.

And I just now realized another coincidence. Both books’ lead character pairs have similar names — Hub has Nashira Wing and David LaMacchia, Arachne has Stephen Jacobs-Wong and Cecilia LoCarno. And both David and Cecilia are blond, which is unusual for Italians, except in the north, e.g. around Venice where Cecilia comes from (and David’s only half-Italian — just as Stephen is only half Chinese-American). Of course, the original story featuring the Arachne characters was written a dozen years before the first Hub story, and I’ve done a bunch of stuff in between them, so it really is coincidental that they’re ending up getting published so close together. (Also, both pairs include a kind, gentle male lead and a tough, prickly female lead, but that’s a pattern I tend to use deliberately as a contrast to conventional gender norms, so it’s not a coincidence.)

Anyway, it’s still probably a few months before Arachne’s Crime comes out, so do me a favor and buy Crimes of the Hub right away, so there’s more time between them and the similarities don’t stick out as much. Okay? Good.

“Conventional Powers” annotations are up!

Analog Sep Oct 2019I just remembered I hadn’t gotten around to posting the annotations for my new Green Blaze story “Conventional Powers” in the September/October 2019 issue of Analog, so here they are (beware spoilers at the link):

“Conventional Powers” Annotations

Included in the annotations is a rough sketch of the Ceres Sheaf, the cluster of habitats in Ceres orbit that form the Cerean States, as established in Only Superhuman and featured in “Conventional Powers” as the main setting. I guess I’ll reproduce it here for people who haven’t read the story yet:

Ceres Sheaf rough sketch

Illustration by the author

The O’Neill cylinder and Bernal sphere habitats that make it up are probably more widely spaced than shown, to make room for sun mirrors, heat radiators, and the like. The connecting scaffolds described in the story are not shown in the sketch. But the general idea is that the Sheaf consists of formerly separate habitats that were brought together and physically connected after they became politically unified, and the Band is an ongoing construction project that would more than double the complex’s living space (when complete, it’d have the equivalent of 36 cylinders’ volume while the Sheaf contains 28 cylinders and 24 spheres). Although the Band’s rotation around the central axis means that it has much wider stretches of flat ground with open air in the upper halves (in toward the rotational axis) and multiple underground levels in the lower halves (outward from the axis). The separate slabs of the Band are being built two at a time in diametrically opposed pairs to maintain rotational balance during construction, and as of 2108 it’s less than half-completed, as described in Only Superhuman.

“Conventional Powers” is out!

Analog Science Fiction and Fact has just updated its homepage to featue the September/October 2019 issue, featuring my brand new Green Blaze adventure “Conventional Powers,” and I’ve updated my homepage with the cover and a couple of ordering links. Amazon doesn’t have the new issue yet, but it should be out in a couple of days. Anyway, here’s the cover:

Analog Sep Oct 2019

I didn’t get a cover mention this time, but I’m in there, specifically on pp. 118-131. As usual, I’ll put up annotations for the story in a little while, once people have had a chance to read it unspoiled.

Meanwhile, I did a little tweaking of my Bibliography here on the site. It was getting pretty full, so I decided to break it down into sections for greater clarity — Original Fiction, Media Tie-in Fiction, and Nonfiction. It’s nice to see that my Original section is now up to more than 2/3 as many entries as the Tie-in section, even if most of them are short fiction and several of them are collections. The new format will make it easier to keep track of how close I’m getting to parity between the two.

Site updates and news

Footprints in the StarsOkay, first off, I’ve been informed that the official publication date for Footprints in the Stars has been moved up from October to today. The collection made its debut at Shore Leave last week, but for technical reasons it was necessary to delay its official publication date in order to achieve something that has now ceased to be an issue, so there’s no longer any reason not to release it right away. So I’ve updated the home page to reflect that. It looks like it might take a bit of time for the online vendors to catch up and update their sites, though.

In the meantime, the book’s editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail wants its contributing authors to let reviewers, librarians, and bookstore owners know that Footprints in the Stars (#FootprintsInTheStars) is available for review on #NetGalley from now through July 31 (she told me to use those “hashtag” thingies, though I don’t really know if that makes any difference on WordPress). The link is:

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/168979

I’ve also now put up spoiler annotations for Crimes of the Hub and “The Melody Lingers” (beware spoilers at the links). The Crimes annotations replace my annotation pages for the three individual stories (which are mostly the same with a few minor changes), but it contains links to the original pages for archival purposes (and those pages are still at their original URLs).

I previously reported that the Green Blaze story “Conventional Powers” will be in the September/October 2019 issue of Analog, and I’ve found that it goes on sale August 20. With the official publication date of Footprints moved up, that’s two Troubleshooter stories in two months (even though they’re set nearly 25 years apart)! Since “Powers” is so close now, I’ve added non-spoiler discussion to my Original Short Fiction and (newly renamed) Only Superhuman/Troubleshooters pages. It seems a bit redundant to put discussion of Troubleshooter stories in both places, but since they’re new short fiction, it seems to make sense to put them on the short fiction page, at least until they aren’t new anymore. Of course, there will be spoiler annotations for both Troubleshooter stories going up at some point after their releases.

I’ve also made a couple of tweaks to the look of the site. I figured out I could add an animated slide show of my book covers to the top of the home page, making it a bit more visually striking. It’s kind of hypnotic, and a random slide show of all my covers is a good way to call attention to the full range of my work, including projects that might go overlooked. But it has a couple of problems — it obscures the dropdown menus on the home page, and it doesn’t show up well on my mobile phone. I’d appreciate reader feedback on whether you like the slideshow or not. If it isn’t well-received, I’ll switch to something else like a thumbnail grid.

I also used thumbnail grids to make my main Star Trek Fiction page a bit more compact, with the covers in each series displayed side by side instead of top to bottom. I think it looks a lot better.

There will be more updates to follow!

CRIMES OF THE HUB is out!

Well, it took several months longer than I’d hoped, and I’m a couple of weeks late reporting it, but Crimes of the Hub has finally gone on sale. The sequel to Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy collects the stories “Hubpoint of No Return,” “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” and “Hubstitute Creatures,” revised, expanded, and blended into a single short novel.

Crimes of the Hub cover

The stock photo site we used for the Hub Space cover has gone out of business in the interim, so we had to “recast” Nashira and David for this cover using images sourced from Shutterstock. But I think the new Nashira model is an improvement, a closer fit to the Lucy Liu-ish appearance I’ve always imagined for the character. It would’ve made more sense for Julio to be the shirtless one (or for all three to be shirtless), but we had to work with the shots that were available.

Here’s the promotional blurb (which will be the back cover blurb once there’s a print edition):

The hapless heroes of Hub Space return with new jobs, new allies, and new adventures at the heart of the galaxy, in a novel expanded and revised from stories originally appearing in Analog.

Just when cynical space pilot Nashira Wing has finally started to enjoy helping David LaMacchia with his clueless quest to crack the secrets of the Hub Network, he’s hijacked by a crew of kittenish thieves and trapped in the treasure vault of a far older civilization. What he finds there gives Nashira a shot at the score of a lifetime—but changes David’s life in ways that threaten their friendship. To keep the devious masters of the Hub from getting their tentacles on Nashira’s prize, she and David must mend frayed relationships and navigate new ones, all while facing adventures in larceny, sex, bureaucracy, hyperspatial geometry, and radical body modification. Can they come through it all with their hearts, their identities, and their dignity intact?

It’s available as an e-book from:

And here’s the book’s Goodreads page if you want to keep track of it there. If you read the book (or any of my other books), please post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads — it helps raise a book’s profile if it gets enough reviews.

I’ll be reworking the individual story annotations for the new format and added material. I’m still figuring out what approach to take there.

In other original fiction news, I’ve been informed that the new Green Blaze story “Conventional Powers” will be in the September/October 2019 issue of Analog. Won’t be long now! So far, this year has seen the release of Star Trek Adventures: The Gravity of the Crime, ST:TOS: The Captain’s Oath, “The Melody Lingers,” Crimes of the Hub, and “The Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of,” and still to come we have three more STA campaigns, “Conventional Powers,” and Arachne’s Crime. That’s ten distinct publications in one year, breaking my previous record in 2010!

Famine to feast

Well, it took a while for my relief at finally getting my advance check to override my tension of the past few weeks, but it kicked in after I went to bed last night — suddenly, my whole body finally relaxed, more fully than it has in quite a while, and it felt wonderful.

So anyway, you’re not going to believe this next bit. Late this morning, I checked online and confirmed that my deposit to my checking account had gone through, so I wrote a check to myself to deposit in my much-depleted savings account at my other bank, which has a branch within walking distance and which is open for part of the day on Saturday. So I filled out the deposit slip and headed out to the bank. When I was maybe half a block or so from home, I thought, “Hey, I think I heard the mail come earlier. There’s almost no chance my Analog check has come so soon, but maybe I should go back and check the mail juuuust in case.” I debated with myself for a bit, and if I’d been maybe 30 paces further along, I wouldn’t have bothered, but as it was, I decided to go back and make sure.

And when I opened my mailbox, I started laughing, since there was my Analog check.

It’s like they say — you wait an hour for the bus, and then three come along at once. It would’ve saved me a lot of anxiety if one of these two checks had come just a couple of weeks sooner. Still, at least they’re here now — and I’m grateful for my neurotic extra-cautiousness for once, since it saved me a second trip to the bank.

Anyway, after tearing up the first deposit slip, filling out a new one, and depositing both checks in my savings account, I just found myself going for a long walk on the university campus and thinking about… nothing in particular. I just enjoyed the way it felt to have a relaxed body and a clear mind for a little while, before getting back to priorities like finishing my taxes and working on my novel. It was really nice.

The Troubleshooters return — in TWO new stories!

I have some excellent news, which I hinted at back in December but took longer than expected to fall into place. I’m finally able to announce that I have sold not just one, but two new works of short fiction featuring the Troubleshooters of Only Superhuman and fleshing out new facets of their world.

Footprints in the StarsThe first is my previously announced short story in eSpec Books’ upcoming anthology Footprints in the Stars, the next (second, I think) installment in their Beyond the Cradle anthology series. The theme of this particular anthology is “Stories of the discovery of evidence of ancient aliens and how humanity reacts to those discoveries.” At first blush, that may not sound like the sort of book where you’d expect to find a superhero story, but as it happens, I already had a Troubleshooter idea that fit the premise perfectly. It’s called “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of,” and it’s the first Troubleshooter story that doesn’t star Emerald Blair/Green Blaze. Indeed, it’s a prequel set a couple of years before her birth and even before the founding of the Troubleshooter Corps, an early adventure of the Corps’s founder Yukio Villareal in his heroic prime. “What’s that,” you say? “Evidence of aliens was discovered decades before Only Superhuman? How does that work?” But don’t worry — this is an idea I originally came up with before OS was published, so it’s consistent. Indeed, I did mention in passing in OS that life in other star systems was already known to exist, and the historical appendix in Among the Wild Cybers confirms that as well.

Only Superhuman cover art by Raymond SwanlandThe second new story is a novelette titled “Conventional Powers,” which will be my 12th work of fiction to appear in Analog Science Fiction and Fact but my first Troubleshooter story therein (and the fifth Analog story to be set in that overall universe). This one is a Green Blaze story, and I’m happy to say it’s not a prequel. It took me 7 years, but I finally get to move Emry’s adventures forward beyond Only Superhuman, albeit in a standalone story that should be accessible to new readers, though readers familiar with the novel will see continuity between them. It’s a fairly light, offbeat story that examines the question: What would a superhero convention be like in a world with actual professional superheroes? Writing “Conventional Powers” was a fun opportunity to flesh out new facets of the Asteroid Belt’s transhuman culture and the broader workings of the Troubleshooter Corps.

Added to Only Superhuman and “Aspiring to Be Angels,” these stories will double the size of my Troubleshooter bibliography (in number though not in word count), and I can now say that every completed Troubleshooter story I’ve written and marketed has been successfully sold — though that will only be true until I complete the next one or two. But it gives me the encouragement to go ahead with those.

It’s too early to know when either of these stories will be published, or which one will come out first. I will, of course, announce that information once I have it.

Looking back on 2018

December 30, 2018 2 comments

Last year at this time, when I made a post looking back on the year just ending, it was merely to talk about how I hadn’t announced any new writing projects that year, even though I had several things lined up that I was able to announce soon thereafter. In a number of ways, 2018 was a good year for me career-wise. Right at the start of the year, I got to announce my Among the Wild Cybers story collection (including the brand-new “Aspiring to be Angels,” the first Emerald Blair story since Only Superhuman), which came out in August and quickly became one of eSpec Books’ top sellers for 2018. Later, I was able to announce that I was writing for the Star Trek Adventures role-playing game, and my first campaign for them was published last month, though I still have four more coming. (Indeed, the fifth was one I initially missed out on due to a lost e-mail, but then got to write after all when a filled slot reopened.) I sold a new trilogy of Hub stories, which all came out in Analog this year. Pocket’s Star Trek license was finally renewed, and I was hired to write Star Trek: The Original Series — The Captain’s Oath for spring 2019. I sold my first-ever fantasy story, “The Melody Lingers” (which should be published in Galaxy’s Edge sometime in 2019), and I got invited to contribute my first-ever story to a non-Star Trek anthology, eSpec’s Footprints in the Stars; said story has been written and submitted and I hope to say more soon. I even got in a bit of copyediting work, which hardly pays anything but should hopefully open the door for more such work in the future.

Despite all that, though, it’s been an extremely stressful year for me. Due to multiple writing projects being delayed by a great deal all at once in 2017 into 2018, I ended up in a deep financial hole and would’ve been in real trouble if not for some very generous donations from my fans, as well as a few family members. I had little luck finding other work, and it left me very anxious and depressed. When The Captain’s Oath finally came through, my depression made it hard for me to focus on my work, which exacerbated the tight deadline pressure I was under. So writing that book was a struggle. Even once I met my deadline and got paid, it proved difficult to shake off my anxiety, especially since I had to contend with jury duty late last month (which turned out to be far more harmless than I feared, but it was that fear that made it rough to get through), and then try to get past my writer’s block on a new story in time to submit it to an open-call anthology whose deadline was the end of the year. (Wow, just reminding myself of all that is giving me a headache.) I’ve been nervous about my money situation for 2019 and whether I’d be able to line up new work in time. I’ve also been dealing with intermittent hip pain (probably the early stages of arthritis) and a resurgence of my heartburn/indigestion issues, which are both an effect and a contributing cause of my stress.

But suddenly, this past week, a number of things have gone my way. I broke through my writer’s block and finished the new story, which has now been submitted. I’m kind of excited about it; the theme for the anthology led me to dredge up some story notes for a project I came up with many years ago and never got around to writing, and now I realize I’ve basically got a rough outline for what, with a little tweaking, could be a novel trilogy in a whole new fictional universe. Also, I’ve nearly finished the copyedits for The Captain’s Oath, which went pretty smoothly (though I still want to do one more editing pass through the manuscript before I turn it in). With all that stuff cleared off my list, I’m finally free to focus on developing one or two writing projects I’ve been meaning to get around to all year, so I’m looking forward to that. Best of all, though, I finally sold a novelette I’ve been waiting for an answer on for most of the year and had all but given up on. Getting that sale was the happiest moment of the year for me, a breakthrough in a few ways, and I should be able to say more about it in a few weeks, probably.

So I found myself spending a lot of the day yesterday just feeling content. Not overjoyed or euphoric (though there was a bit of that after I got the acceptance on that story a few days ago) — just a feeling of relaxation and inner quiet, a sense of ease and peace that I haven’t felt in a long time. It was refreshing just to sit still in the quiet of my bedroom and feel comfortable inside my own head.

A lot of that came from thinking about what’s coming up for me in 2019. Things are already looking promising there. Aside from The Captain’s Oath, I’ve got “The Melody Lingers,” my Footprints in the Stars story, the new thing I just sold, and one other thing (to be announced) already slated for next year, so I’ve already tied my personal record for the number of original (non-tie-in) works published in a single calendar year (four in 2010 and again in 2018). I’ve got several other submissions already pending, so if I sell even one more of them, it’s a new record. And I’ve still got time to write and sell more stuff that could be published by year’s end. So 2019 might well turn out to be my most prolific year for original fiction ever — indeed, with The Captain’s Oath and more Star Trek Adventures campaigns pending, it should be my most prolific year, period. I’m still not sure how financially secure I’ll be next year — most of the stuff currently slated to come out next year is stuff I’ve already been paid for, and I’m not yet sure what I might get next year in the way of royalties and new sales/contracts — but all that stuff coming out under my name in 2019 should be good for my long-term career prospects. Hopefully this year will be better for me income-wise than the last two, and hopefully it will lay the foundations for more career success later on.

(And just a reminder — you guys can help in that regard by posting reviews of my books and stories on Amazon, Goodreads, etc., and by liking my Facebook author page.)

I, not quite the jury

December 5, 2018 2 comments

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I got a summons for jury duty while I was busy writing Star Trek: The Captain’s Oath, so I managed to get it postponed for a couple of months — meaning until last Monday.

I went in hoping it would go like my first jury service nearly a decade ago, which I actually kind of enjoyed. That time, I was only called in for Monday to Wednesday the first week and just Wednesday the second week, and the one time I got called up for a trial, it was right before lunch and the parties settled during the break, so I never actually got inside a courtroom. (This is apparently very common — often, just the threat of a jury trial is enough to get someone to settle or plead out, so just being on call in the jury pool is all we need to do.) The rest of the time, I just sat around in the jurors’ lounge waiting to be called if needed. I was literally paid just to show up. And I was working on a rewrite of Only Superhuman at the time, so getting to spend a few hours a day in a quiet study lounge with a workspace for my laptop was perfect for my needs. That time, I found the experience so positive that I occasionally wondered if I could volunteer for another tour rather than having to wait to be summoned.

But this time was different. Given all the stress and anxiety I’ve been dealing with this past year thanks to my financial woes, I didn’t know how well I’d cope emotionally if I got assigned to be a juror on any kind of a serious or challenging case. Also, in recent years I’ve grown increasingly concerned about the racial injustice, police violence, and political corruption in America’s institutions, so I have less faith in the justice system than I used to. So this time around, I was very nervous about the whole thing. I spent the whole time on edge, afraid of having my name called.

It didn’t help that the daily stipend for being a juror is still exactly the same amount that it was nearly 10 years ago. I’d expected it to have increased by now. And I made the mistake of driving there on my first day, and I didn’t realize that my preferred downtown garage had raised its rates, so that parking alone ate up nearly 1/3 of my first day’s stipend. (The validated parking lots near the courthouse would’ve cost just as much, as it turned out.) I took the bus down after that, which meant walking several blocks in frigid weather.

Anyway, my first week did turn out to be uncannily similar to my first week 9 1/2 years ago. I showed up Monday morning and got the whole orientation speech, but I wasn’t called for a jury until Wednesday just before lunch (I got a hot dog from the courthouse convenience store, and it was pretty bad), and when I got back, we were kept waiting for more than an additional hour; then it finally turned out that the defendant had taken a plea, and since we’d been kept so late, we were released for the rest of the week. I was quite relieved that things had played out so much like they did the first time. (Oh, and we got free donuts Wednesday morning.)

The main difference is that I didn’t have a work in progress to rewrite this time. I’m between projects and was trying to come up with a plot idea for my next story, something I was able to do on Tuesday and Wednesday while riding the bus and walking the courthouse halls for exercise. (If you sign out for your 15-minute break and write “Walking” on the form, they cut you some slack if it takes longer than that to complete a mile, which is 7 laps around the corridors on the jurors’ floor.) Otherwise, I used the time to read the latest Analog issue, the one containing my story “Hubstitute Creatures.” I got it a couple of weeks ago, but I saved it for jury duty. There are some impressive stories in this one; I particularly liked “Pandora’s Pantry” by Stephen L. Burns, a robot-chef story that went in an unexpected and very satisfying direction, and “Learning the Ropes” by Tom Jolly, a story of interplanetary intrigue and tether propulsion in a setting that could almost be part of the historical backstory of Only Superhuman. I finished the magazine in my first week, and on Wednesday after I was released, I went over to the downtown library and picked up some books so I’d have something to read over the weekend and on week 2. One was a collection of Will Elder-illustrated comics stories from EC Comics’s 1950s SF, horror, and humor anthologies; most of them weren’t great, but there were a couple of Ray Bradbury adaptations and a couple of impressive tales that were almost Twilight Zone-worthy. And some of the parody stories were nostalgic for me, since I remembered reading them in my father’s pile of old humor comics back in the day.

So anyway, I was hopeful that week 2 would recapitulate my first time as closely as week 1 did. And I did get Monday and Tuesday off, which was good, because over the weekend, I came down with a bug of some kind — the inevitable result of having spent three days surrounded by dozens of people in public places in winter. If the pattern had continued to match the first time, I’d be called in on Wednesday and that would be it. But of course, there was still the chance that I’d be called to another jury and all bets would be off.

So imagine my surprise and relief when I checked the website Tuesday afternoon and it said that, for jurors of my group number who’d started on November 26, “your service is now complete.” I wasn’t needed back again at all! I guess it must be a slow week for crime and lawsuits. Maybe it’s the weather. But I’m glad I didn’t have to lug myself to the bus stop while I was sick. And now I’ve done jury service twice in my life and have yet to see the inside of a courtroom.

Of course, I wouldn’t have minded making more than three days’ worth of money from this (especially since parking and bus fare ate up so much of it already), but another day or two wouldn’t have made much difference. Fortunately, my manuscript for The Captain’s Oath has now been approved, so I should be getting my final advance from that pretty soon. And now I have about a week and a half until the copyedits for that are due in, which I hope will be enough time to write that new short story I plotted last week. It’s for an open-call anthology whose submission deadline is the end of the month, so I’m cutting it pretty close. But at least I’m free to focus on it now.

So that’s my jury-duty story. Maybe you were hoping for something more exciting, but I’m quite glad it turned out to be so uneventful.

“Hubstitute Creatures” notes now up

Analog SF&F Nov/Dec 2018I finally got my author copies of the November/December Analog, so I was able to verify page numbers and post my annotations for “Hubstitute Creatures” at last, as well as belatedly putting up the non-spoiler discussion on the main Hub page. I held off on that because it mentioned a last-minute correction that I’d been assured had been made, but I wanted to make extra-sure it actually had been before I posted. Anyway, that’s all up now, plus I belatedly added the “…And He Built a Crooked Hub” annotations link to the top menu, which I’d neglected to do before (though the link was available from the main Hub page). So now you can find out how I chose Nashira Wing’s Cantonese name, Wing Wai-hing (惠慶), revealed in “Hubstitute Creatures” for the first time.

This issue also includes a review of my Among the Wild Cybers collection in its book review section, The Reference Library, and I’ve added a quote from that to the main page and the AtWC page.

Emerging into the light

October 26, 2018 1 comment

Hey, folks. I’ve been neglecting the blog for a while since I’ve been busy trying to make my tight deadline on my novel. Good news — I just made it. And it was recently revealed what that novel is — Simon & Schuster and the major book-buying sites have posted listings for Star Trek: The Original Series: The Captain’s Oath by yours truly. There’s still an official announcement coming up sometime from StarTrek.com, so I don’t want to give any details until that happens. But at least the word is out — I’m doing Trek again.

As my readers know, I went through a period of severe financial hardship due to the delay in getting the Star Trek license renewed, in combination with delays in several other projects I had going, so that pretty much all my sources of income were postponed at the same time. My fans very generously helped me through the worst of it (and those who did have been thanked in the book’s acknowledgments), but the stress and depression resulting from the career slowdown made it difficult for me to get back to work. Since we were delayed so long and wanted to get back up and running as soon as possible, I was given a tight deadline, but it was still a struggle to get myself back into gear. I talked about my delays and my coping efforts somewhat in my September post. I think my use of coffee and sugar to stimulate my brain helped, or at least the placebo effect did, since I was able to hold my focus better after that and make some real progress. I think I wrote more than half the novel within the last 3-4 weeks. As usual, I managed to gain the most momentum once I got to the climax and denouement of the two main story arcs, and got more done on the last day of writing each arc than on the previous several days. So I got the first draft basically done 5 days before the deadline. However, I then needed to add some peripheral/stylistic stuff that took a fair amount of thinking, and I also realized I needed to add another scene to tie off a major character thread, so all that only gave me time to make one revision pass through the manuscript before turning it in. I’m sure there will be more tweaks to come once my editor sends me her revisions, but at least I made the deadline in spite of everything. This was a rough one, and I’m glad to be through it.

By contrast, it’s taken me only 3 days to write the first draft of my next commissioned story, including one day for preliminary work and two for actual writing. This is the story for the Footprints in the Stars anthology that I mentioned back in August. I’ve got until March to turn it in, but I’ve been eager to write it, so once I was finally done with the Trek novel, I dove right in. It came easily because it’s a story I’ve had in mind for years — actually it was originally going to be a flashback chapter in a novel — and it’s in a milieu that I know well and that comes easily to me. Also, it was only 5000 words. Seriously — that was my maximum target length, and the first draft came out at exactly 5000 words — well, including the bit up top with my contact information and “approx. 5000 words.” Although I’ve already made a tweak that cut it down about 40 words, and I’ve got 5 months to do more revision and refinement. But I’m glad it’s written at last, and so quickly. I guess I’ve still got some of my creative momentum going from the Trek novel. I should try to see how much else I can get written before that wears off.

Meanwhile, the November/December 2018 Analog with my story “Hubstitute Creatures,” the concluding tale of the second Hub trilogy, should be out this week, though Analog‘s home page has not yet been updated to reflect it. I’ve put up subscription and ordering links for it on this site’s home page.

Oh, and one other thing I’ve done now that my novel-writing seclusion is over and now that I’m not quite so broke anymore: I’m finally getting a new pair of glasses. My current pair is so old, with the scratch-resistant coating so worn out on the right lens (my only good eye), that it’s hard to get an entirely clear field of vision. And I’ve gotten a bit more nearsighted in the 4 years since my last pair, so I need a new prescription for distance vision. Yesterday I went to the glasses place with their own eye doctor, got my new prescription, and bought my new pair. It’s the place that used to promise they’d have your glasses done in about an hour, but my appointment lagged late enough that they’d be closing the lab before my glasses would be ready, so I still have to go back sometime today to pick them up. Which actually worked out better in a way, since I didn’t have to hang around at the mall for an hour trying to find something to do. Although it means I have to make that long drive twice in as many days.

Anyway, I’ll try to get back to posting a bit more regularly now that I’m not desperately striving to catch up with a tight novel deadline.

“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…

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?

“And He Built a Crooked Hub” in the Sept/Oct ANALOG!

Analog‘s July/August issue has recently come out, and the Next Issue page on their site confirms that the second story in my new Hub trilogy, “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” will appear in the September/October 2018 issue, which goes on sale August 21. The page describes it as “a comedy of tesseract errors.” Fans of Robert A. Heinlein should get a sense of what one of my main inspirations was, although there’s a certain Marx Brothers film that was a major influence as well.

I’ve updated my homepage with the release date for “Crooked Hub,” as well as updating the ordering information for the May/June Analog containing “Hubpoint of No Return,” since only Magzter and Google Play seem to allow ordering specific back issues rather than defaulting to the current issue. I also found a couple more review quotes for “Hubpoint” and added them, a bit belatedly.

“Hubpoint of No Return” annotations now available

Analog May/June 2018 coverSorry I’ve been late putting up the annotations for “Hubpoint of No Return.” I had them written some time ago (I try to make a habit of doing annotations at the same time I proofread the galley pages, since I sometimes notice things that need fixing in the process), but I couldn’t post them until I saw the finished issue and could get the right page numbers. Unfortunately, my author copies apparently got lost in the mail, and I didn’t get replacements until this afternoon.

Anyway, the annotations page (with full spoilers) is here:

“Hubpoint of No Return” Annotations

Looking through the contents page of the May/June Analog, I see I’ve got the only novelette-length story in the issue — the rest is a serial conclusion, a novella, and a bunch of short stories. That’s unusual. Anyway, looks like I’ve got a bunch of stories to read now.

There be WILD CYBERS here!

No, I’m not under attack by rogue robots — rather, my author copies of Among the Wild Cybers: Tales Beyond the Superhuman have just arrived.

Among the Wild Cybers in box

Among the Wild Cybers in stack

They’re thinner than I expected for a nearly 80,000-word book, but I guess that’s because of the trade-paperback format. But here they are, and it’s not much longer before the rest of you can get them too (Kickstarter backers first).

Here’s my brag shelf of all my original fiction to date, such as it is:

CLB brag shelf

Minus Hub Space, which I haven’t yet obtained a print copy of. But hey, the shelf is finally starting to grow a bit, and there’s a good chance that it’ll be growing more before long. For now, though, Only Superhuman and Among the Wild Cybers contain my complete published works to date in my primary original universe (plus “No Dominion”). So it’s nice to see them side by side. (I put ATWC first both for height reasons — I don’t want it between two shorter mass-market paperbacks — and because I generally shelve anthologies/collections before novels, a habit I picked up when I worked at the university library.)

And we’re now ridiculously close to unlocking “Abductive Reasoning” for Kickstarter backers — one to three more pledges should do it:

Only 11 days left!

WILD CYBERS — First stretch goal unlocked!

The Epic Science Fiction Adventures Kickstarter for Among the Wild Cybers (and Bud Sparhawk’s Shattered Dreams) has achieved its first stretch goal of $1200. This means that everyone who pledges $5 or above from this point on will get, in addition to the basic rewards for their pledge, a DRM-free digital copy of Robert Waters’s short story “Los Gatos.”

The next stretch goal reward is a DRM-free digital copy of my short story “Abductive Reasoning” from the Sept/Oct 2017 Analog. Once we reach $1500 in pledges, that story will be unlocked for everyone who pledges $5 and up. This is a nice bonus because it’s my one remaining uncollected story to date, other than the new “Hubpoint of No Return” in the current Analog (and the plan is to collect that along with its two sequels once all three have come out). So if and when we reach that goal, Kickstarter backers will have a more comprehensive and up-to-date collection of my short fiction than Among the Wild Cybers alone had room to provide.

Every additional $500 in pledges beyond that will unlock another short story by one of several authors, including “Forest of a Thousand Lost Souls” by my editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail (at the $2000 level) and “Stone-Cold Whodunit” from my pal Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Super City Police Department series (at the $4500 level). There are still a few bonuses left to reveal beyond that, possibly including something more from me.

So let’s get those pledges up there, folks! Tell your friends! Share and tweet and other social media things! The more pledges we get, the more everyone (well, $5-up) gets in return. Only 23 days left!

AMONG THE WILD CYBERS Kickstarter is open!

I’ll make this quick, since I’m sleepy — I’ve just been sent the notification that the Kickstarter funding campaign for Among the Wild Cybers: Tales Beyond the Superhuman is now running:

The fundraising drive is for both the Wild Cybers collection and the novel Shattered Dreams by fellow Analog veteran Bud Sparhawk. It runs from now to May 30th. This is my first Kickstarter, so I’m not an expert on how it works, but as you can see on the page, donors will get various rewards that get better the more they donate, and there are also stretch goals that will earn donors further bonuses if they’re met. Bonuses include a digital or print copy of the book (received ahead of general release, I gather), as well as various bonus stories from different authors. The bonus for the first stretch goal will be a digital copy of “Abductive Reasoning,” my one published original, non-Hub short story to date that isn’t in Wild Cybers. I like that, because I regretted not having room to include it in the collection, so this means it will be “included” after all, though only for Kickstarter backers.

I’ve also offered up a few copies of the hardcover and audiobook editions of Only Superhuman as bonuses, and they’ve even managed to scrounge up a copy of Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder to offer as a bonus to one lucky $40 donor. And of course Bud Sparhawk and the eSpec Books team are offering numerous additional bonuses of their own, and there will be more bonuses announced later. It looks like we’re already making good progress toward the minimum goal needed to fund the books, but hopefully we can do much better with your help.

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