Friday, May 30, 2008

Look into the Mirror

So, my bud Dave Williams' The Mirrored Heavens is out, and garnering raves as well it should. And if you wander over to the appropriate Amazon page and click on the cover art, you'll see a blurb dead center of the spread, courtesy of Stephen Baxter.

But once you get your hands on the actual book you'll see a whole different quote there, from me:

And I don't know if they decided at the last moment they simply liked my blurb better (possible, I suppose), or if they thought my name would sell more books than Stephen Baxter's (unlikely, and misguided if true) or if someone screwed up and spliced in the wrong quote just before everything went off to the printers (which, as I can attest from personal experience— albeit with a different publisher— has happened before). Or if Dave just sent me a one-off vanity mock-up to feed my ego and set me up for a fall. Regardless, I'm pleased to see my name up there, basking in a little of Dave's reflected glory.

Not least because Bantam/Spectra turned Blindsight down flat.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Oral Delights"

Those are the phonetics spoken by Tony Smith at the top of the latest issue of Starship Sofa, at least, and while I'm pretty sure that Aural Delights is the more accurate spelling, I'm betting the ambiguity is deliberate.

I'm over there, anyway, in all my slightly-too-nasal vocal glory, nattering on for twenty minutes about conjoined supervillians and a neuro-legal rationale for killing twins. (Also a brief snark about the dumbness of therapists.) It's the first installment of Reality, ReMastered, my monthlyish exercise in free-wheeling bullshit, for those of you who don't get enough of that here. I'm near the top of the mp3, coming in between a neat little poem by Laurel Winter and the main payload, a story called "Easy as Pie" by Rudy Rucker.

So check it out, if you're so inclined. Me, I'm gonna watch the season finale of Lost.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Serpent's Tooth

You sent us out here. We do this for you. We break this painstaking trail, crawl across the universe while time itself runs down; we spin the webs and tie the knots and open the doors, then scuttle away before the light of your coming turns us into plasma.

Is it too much to ask, that you might talk to us now and then?

I know about evolution, and engineering. I know how much you've changed over a billion years. I've seen our portals give birth to gods and demons and creatures we can't begin to comprehend. I've seen things I still can't believe were ever human; alien hitchikers, perhaps, riding the rails we've left behind. Alien conquerers.

Exterminators too, if I'm not mistaken.

But I've also seen those gates stay dark and empty until they faded from our sight. We've infered diebacks and dark ages, civilizations burned to the ground and others risen from their ashes— and sometimes, the things that come out afterwards look a little like the ships we might have built, back in the day. They speak to each other— radio, laser, carrier neutrinos— and sometimes their voices sound something like ours. There was a time we dared to hope that they really were like us, that the circle had come round again and closed on beings we could talk to. I've lost count of the times we tried to break the ice.

I've lost count of the eons since we gave up.

A noninterference imperative, maybe? A nature preserve? Mustn't interfere, mustn't talk with the savages, mustn't contaminate their quaint cultural worldviews. What culture, you imperious assholes? We're stuck on a flying mountain, we're riding a black hole to the ends of the universe so that you can frolic in our wake like spoiled children. The mission kills us off one by one, and we make do, really: we mix-and-match our replacements from bits of leftover genes, try to keep the Chimp from indoctrinating new generations with its own simpleminded vision of mission priorities. We've given our fucking lives for you, given a thousand lives, each one sliced into a thousand brief bright moments and strung out along a billion years. All so that you can step between the stars in an instant.

All these iterations of humanity fading behind us. All these hybrids and posthumans and immortals, gods and catatonic cavemen trapped in magical chariots they can't begin to understand, and not one of them ever pointed a comm laser in our direction to say Hey, how's it going, or Guess what? We cured Damascus Disease! or even Thanks, guys, keep up the good work.

We're not some fucking cargo cult. We're the backbone of your goddamn empire. You wouldn't even be out here if it weren't for us.

And more than all of that, you— you're our children. Whatever you are, whatever you've become, you were once like this.

My sons. My daughters. Why have you forsaken me?


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Breaking Camp

Been a significant gap between postings, I know. Chalk it up to a bit of work getting done (first installment of Reality, ReMastered goes live next week or the week after, I think), a lot of other work not getting done, and, once again, the ill-advised decision to buy a laptop from Dell which has brought me nothing but grief. (For those of you recently arrived at this blog: never, ever, ever buy a Dell. My other computer is a dual-boot dual-core Linux machine which I cannot wait to get back to.)

The sandhills are in the rear-view mirror now. In their honor, a few pictures once again courtesy of Dan Brooks. This diptych, perhaps, thumbnails the whole experience most effectively:

Keep in mind that it took two days for the first picture to turn into the second. (And back again, too, a couple of weeks later.)

This is what you'd see from the porch if you were crazy enough to get up at five in the morning:

And this is either me, or Seth Brundle after an unfortunate accident with a telepod:

Don't worry: this is not the shape of things to come. I'll be dumping the travelogue pics and returning to the usual rants and research once I've got back home and cleared the decks. I just figured I should post something in the meantime, and stills from Frisky Dingo would have probably infringed copyright.


Kill Me Now.

Evidently Michael Bay has been signed to adapt the Rifters trilogy, judging by this poster of Lenie and Kenny. I had not realized that Lubin was black. Nor that he propelled himself, er, anally. I guess this is the price one pays for movie adaptation.

Thanks to one Matt Arnold for the coffee/saliva stains all over my keyboard.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Christian Rock Band: The Album Cover*

You can tell from the salacious, revealing costumes.

Because in Nebraska, this is the most you can get away with.

*Photo by Dan Brooks


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Squids — In — Spaaaaaace!

From the Cyrillic side of the planet, the cover art for the Russian edition of Blindsight:

Yes, that is me. I don't know if I'm supposed to be Sarasti, or Keeton, or just the author looming omnisciently over his creation. (My contact at Arabesque tells me that the incorporation of author photos into cover art might be an ongoing element of their sf line). But I think it's kind of cool. Even if those two cratered marbles at center-right don't actually appear in the novel anywhere.

I don't suppose any of you read Russian?


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Brown Lands...

...Just outside Mordor.

So. Where am I now?

(Lars, if you're out there, I rescued a box turtle in your honour the other day. To commemorate, I carved your name into his plastron.)


Saturday, May 3, 2008


So, the word is out on the subject of the revamped Starship Sofa. My reading of "Repeating the Past" is embedded near the end of their recent podcast; also, the press release reports that I'll be doing a "monthly" science-"fact" podcast called Reality, ReMastered. I can confirm this, sort of, although the monthliness may be a bit iffy. I'm working on the first one now, and will repeat as time and inspiration allow.

(Oh, wait a second. I'm listening to that audio feed even now, as it trickles down the teensy one-bar pipe's worth of bandwidth I can squeeze through the walls of my remote cabin — I love these guys' accents, and whoever they've got reading "Likely Lad" just rules — but pretty much the first thing they say is that it is not a podcast any more, but is, rather, an "audio science-fiction magazine". I stand corrected, if a wee bit confused as to the difference.)

Closer to home, Tor has asked for (and received) permission to release Starfish as a free e-book for a two-week period, as part of ongoing promotion for their new website/online community. They've already done this with novels from a bunch of other authors including Karl Schroeder, David Drake, and the mighty John Scalzi, but I'd go out on a limb and state that my own involvement has a much higher irony quotient. Tor did, after all, respond to my request for a Creative Commons option in the Blindsight contract by trying to insert a clause that would have forbidden me from even posting excerpts of longer than 1,500 words on my own damn website. And Starfish is such a good candidate for a promotional free e-text release, since you can't find one of those anywhere else on the planet.

Glad they're coming around, though.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Ultima Thule, That's Where.

It is May 2nd. The middle of Spring. Two days ago, where I am now, it was 27°C. This is the most sheltered side of my cabin:

This is the approach to my cabin:

I have no exact numbers for you, but I can tell you that wind speed is strong enough to make the road's runoff flow directly uphill (at least in those sheltered little gulleys where the run-off hasn't simply frozen into two-lane Hieronymous Bosch frescoes on the spot). There are pelicans on the lake in front of me; at least, there were a couple of hours ago, before the viz declined so precipitously (get it?) that I could no longer see more than two meters offshore. Perhaps by now they are only Pelsicles.

Riddle me this: Where am I?

More to the point, what am I doing here?

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