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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!

Announcing CRIMES OF THE HUB, my second Hub book!

It’s time for my first new project announcement for 2019, for certain values of “new.” Fans who’ve followed my posts and notes about last year’s trilogy of Hub stories in Analog are aware that I wrote the three novelettes with an overall story arc, with an eye toward subsequently collecting them in a second e-book/print volume to follow up Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy. It took a couple of years to find a publisher for the first collection and get it put together, but since that relationship with Crossroad Press was already established, I’m able to get the second collection out much sooner after publication.

Crimes of the Hub will collect “Hubpoint of No Return,” “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” and “Hubstitute Creatures” into one volume. As with the Hub Space collection, Crimes of the Hub adds new material within and between the stories to flesh things out and tie the stories together a bit more, and to offer something new for those who’ve read the original stories in Analog. In Hub Space, I inserted in-universe articles as interludes so that the stories would stand apart more, but this time, since the stories were written as a single arc, I decided to add bridging scenes to make them flow straight into one another, essentially merging them into a fix-up novel. And it is long enough (about 45,000 words, more than a third longer than Hub Space) to qualify as a novel, albeit a short one. Although the original stories are longer than the first three as well, so the percentage of new material is about the same for both books, roughly 13%. It comes out to a whole new chapter bridging the first two stories but only one scene bridging the latter pair (since there’s less of a time jump there), as well as some added or expanded passages within the stories. I also trimmed or rephrased some bits of redundant exposition and moved a few lines around here and there to make it work better as a continuous narrative. But it still tells the same stories with the same dialogue and events, just with more detail and interstitial material added, and with some overlooked typos corrected.

My decision to turn this into more of a short novel than a pure collection is why I decided to call it just Crimes of the Hub instead of Hub Space 2: Crimes of the Hub as I originally planned. Or Crimes of the Hub: More Tales from the Greater Galaxy. Or something like that. I admit I seriously considered calling it Hub Space 2: Galactic Boogaloo.

Since small-press publishing moves fast, it probably won’t be very long before CotH goes on sale. I’ll post ordering info and the cover art as soon as they become available. It will initially be an e-book exclusive, but a print-on-demand edition should be available in time. It takes the publisher a little more time to get the print editions done, but this time the two editions should come out much closer together than the 3-year gap for Hub Space (since print editions weren’t yet available when the book first came out and I was slow to discover they were an option).

So anyway, this will bring my count of original books to four: Only Superhuman, Among the Wild Cybers, and the two Hub volumes. That’s twice what it was nine months ago. I hope it won’t be long before I have even more to announce.

As for the Hub universe, I haven’t yet made any firm plans for a third set of stories, since I’ve been focusing on other stuff. But the better Crimes of the Hub sells, the more motivated I’ll be to work on a continuation, nudge-nudge.

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” 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…

At long last, Hub!

I’m happy to report that I can finally announce another upcoming fiction project. Analog Science Fiction and Fact has bought, not just one, but three new stories in my “Hub” series of comedy SF tales! That’s right, after five years, Nashira Wing, David LaMacchia, and Rynyan Zynara ad Surynyyyyyy’a are returning to the pages of Analog for a whole trilogy of new adventures. Since the original three stories formed a loose story arc that I collected in the e-book Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy, I decided to write and submit the next three novelettes back-to-back, with an eye toward a second collection. Each story stands on its own, but there are character arcs that evolve through them, as with the first trilogy — though perhaps they’re somewhat more integrated this time.

Nashira, Rynyan, and David – art by Vladimir Bondar

The first story, “Hubpoint of No Return,” is thus a “season premiere” of sorts, introducing new characters and a new status quo for the returning cast. It’s scheduled to appear as the lead story in the May/June 2018 issue of Analog, going on sale at newsstands on April 24 and probably reaching subscribers even sooner. I would’ve announced it earlier, but I wanted to wait until I knew the fate of the other two stories, which took longer than expected.

The second story, “…And He Built a Crooked Hub,” is a four-dimensional bedroom farce involving the Hubcomplex’s tesseract hotel rooms, and by far my zaniest story yet. (Yes, that is a Heinlein nod.) And finally, “Hubstitute Creatures” will wrap things up with an adventure that takes our heroes to the heart of Hub civilization and puts them through some major changes, in more ways than one. These two have yet to be scheduled, as far as I know. Once I find out, I’ll let you know.

In retrospect, it might have made things easier for Analog‘s editor Trevor Quachri if I’d sent the stories one at a time — I thought that submitting them as a set would speed up the process, but if anything, it probably slowed things down by making the decision more complicated. Still, all three stories are finally sold, and it was an immense relief to get the contracts, just when I was really getting worried about my financial situation and desperately needed some good news. I immediately printed out and signed the contracts and hastened to the post office to mail them back ASAP, barely even noticing the below-freezing temperatures. (I walked because it takes my car a long time to warm up and start moving in cold weather, and I was too impatient to wait.)

Money matters aside, I really got invested in these stories, so it’s very satisfying to make the sales. In these new tales, I got to flesh out the Hub universe and delve deeper into the main characters’ personalities and relationships; I got to expand the cast with some fun new characters; I got to amp up both the comedy and the drama to new levels; and I finally got to realize a couple of story ideas I’ve had in mind since the early development of the Hub premise. (Ironically, the first story of the three has the newest concept behind it, though it incorporates a character I created more than a decade ago for a different project.) There’s something really satisfying about getting to develop a cast and a world over the course of an ongoing series, and this is only the second time I’ve been able to do that, the other being Star Trek: Enterprise — Rise of the Federation. So I’m really glad Analog‘s readers will get to see these stories — and that I’ll be able to release them in collected form once they’ve all seen print in the magazine, though I don’t yet know how long that will take.

Hub Space: Tales from the Greater Galaxy

 

I’ve also got a couple of other Hub-related things on the horizon — one that’s already in the works but not quite finalized yet, and another that’s more tentative but should be really cool if it happens. I’ll announce them when and if they finally come together. So stay tuned. After years of being just a lonely little e-book collection, the Hub lives again!