Give yourself a gold star if you recognized this iconic image of the Apollo 12 Lunar Module known as “Intrepid” sitting upon the Ocean of Storms. (Apollo 11, of course, landed in the Sea of Tranquility.)
Aboard Apollo 12, Commander Pete Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean swung open that hatch and descended to the dusty surface. Make no mistake, their accomplishment marked the second stunning success for NASA’s Moon missions coming just four short months after the first Moon landing on July 16, 1969.
Yeah, we all know, the second of anything doesn’t get even half the love of the first. More’s the pity in this case. Consider:
- Apollo 12 landed in more challenging terrain than the Sea of Tranquility, where Apollo 11 set down.
- Apollo 12 stayed on the Moon’s surface longer than Apollo 11, permitting the astronauts to spent more time making scientific observations and performing experiments.
- The Apollo 12 astronauts collected 75 pounds of Moon rocks as compared to the 48 pounds of rocks collected by the Apollo 11 astronauts
- Even though Apollo 12 was struck by lightning twice when it launched, the mission was a stunning success.
Apollo 12 was intended, in part, to serve as a backup in case Apollo 11 did not come off without a hitch. President John F. Kennedy had famously kicked off the “Moon Race” in 1961 when he announced the plan for the United States to “send a man to the Moon and bring him safely to Earth by the end of the decade.”
While the Apollo Space program assuredly fired the imaginations of many science fiction writers half a century ago, I’m here to tell you that it still does! In looking back at the 50+ years of the space program, I can’t help but wonder what if things had gone a little bit differently? How might the subsequent exploration of the Moon, Mars, Venus, comets, asteroids, the Sun, and the outer planets have played out?
So I’ve written a story that’s due to come out next year. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll tell you more from time to time as we get closer to publication. I’ll talk about how I got the idea, the times I kicked around some thoughts with other writer buddies, how long it took me to actually write that story (hint: longer than you might expect), and my process for doing research and finding experts who could check my science and history. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Congratulations to Matthew Hughes and Louisa Morgan/Louise Marley for their excellent novels, What the Wind Brings and The Witch’s Kind, which were named co-winners of the 2020 Endeavour Award. I had the honor of serving as one of the judges for the award. And a hearty congrats to the authors of the other nominated novels: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire, Merlin Redux by Dave Duncan, and Shadow Stitcher by Misha Handman.
The award honors a distinguished science fiction or fantasy book, either a novel or a single-author collection, created by a writer living in the Pacific Northwest.
My thanks to Michael Capobianco and John G. Hemry, who served as my co-judges, to Jim Fiscus, the award administrator, as well as Helen Umberger and Orycon for a fine ceremony indeed.
Now go read them!
Virtual Orycon is Friday-Sunday 11/13 to 11/15 and it’s free. Come watch the Endeavour Award presentation at 6 p.m. PST Friday. I was a judge for the award and they say they will recognize me. https://www.facebook.com/orycon/photos/a.10150789749745833/10158765348735833/?type=3OryCon
The rest of the programming looks like there’s a lot of great discussions coming up.
My faithful blog readers see my occasional posts about flower arranging replete with my flower photos. Here’s a new one, a simple autumnal photo I took the other day. People sometimes compliment me on the beautiful flowers and foliage. For that, I take no credit. Nature does the work, not me.
My aim is simple: celebrate beauty and provoke a few smiles. It’s my way of providing a bit of calm during a stressful time for a lot of folks.
Four years ago, Analog Magazine readers had the chance to read my thoughts as to what it’s like to serve as an election officer or poll worker or judge helping to make democracy in the United States run smoothly. Today I am pleased to say that Analog has posted my guest editorial on its blog for free. I’ve also added a quickie update as to what’s changed since 2016 and what hasn’t. This topic is near and dear to my heart as I spent over 25 years as an election lawyer. Hope you’ll have a look at my thought, maybe even while you are in line to vote.
Do you envision my day beginning with a beautiful fountain pen and crisp, blank pages awaiting my musings or dare I say, insights? Do you picture me putting fresh paper into a typewriter and pounding away until The Story sits in a neat pile of pages on a polished wood desk?
Hah! Here’s one day this week: It starts when, upon waking, I realize I forgot to include something in a chapter I said I’d send off today. So I do some quick reworking via computer before breakfast. Food and tea are accompanied by a side dish of email. That’s when I discover my spam filter claimed for its own the galleys my editor sent me a full week ago. Yikes. They need to go back today.
Once that’s done, including a detour to verify that I have properly employed an infrequently-used adjective, I can get the promised chapter shipped out and eat lunch.
Next up is outlining a few scenes, which bring the conundrum as to the best point of view in a novel told from several characters’ viewpoints. None of the three choices is clearly best. I take a stab at reorganizing some scenes.
Then I look at email again and see that an editor needs my bio. Given the publication’s length constraints, I dig out a recent one and update it.
By now, thoughts of putting a well-balanced fountain pen to creamy paper are a fading memory. However, a blog post to end the day…well, here you go.
I’m so honored to be asked to serve as a judge for the 2020 Endeavour Award, which recognizes a distinguished science fiction or fantasy book, either a novel or a single-author collection, created by a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. I look forward to working with my fellow judges Michael Capobianco and John G. Hemry.
The finalists this year are:
- Merlin Redux by Dave Duncan, who was from Victoria, BC, Night Shade Books
- Middlegame by Seanan McGuire, who is from Kenmore, WA, Tor Books
- Shadow Stitcher by Misha Handman, who is from Victoria, BC, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
- What The Wind Brings by Matthew Hughes, who is from Victoria, BC, Pulp Literature Press
- The Witch’s Kind by Louisa Morgan, who is from Port Townsend, WA, Redhook
The Endeavour Award is sponsored by Oregon Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. It will be announced in November at OryCon. Because of Covid 19, Orycon will be held on-line.
Dear Readers, The marvelous Catherine Schaff-Stump prodded me into revealing a few of my tricks for bringing dinosaurs to life in your imaginations. Hears hoping the writers among you may find something useful in creating wonders of your own. Oh, and hey, if you’ve never checked out Cath’s Abigail Rath series, you are in for a treat!
The Hugo awards ceremony this weekend has drawn outcries from those who are dismayed at the treatment of diverse voices in the science fiction and fantasy fields we love. I don’t want to take time cataloging small slights and larger injustices. Instead, here’s one thing I can and will do to work toward positive change.
Spoiler alert: Like many aspects of our lives, it’s about the money.
Some years ago, I made a concerted effort to record what fiction I bought and read, with a focus on finding marvelous new writers, including some who have been doing great work for decades but get overlooked. That felt right, even joyful.
But it still wasn’t enough.
Then Patreon came along and I began kicking in modest amounts to support writers and publications whose work I admired and devoured. Last year I took a hard look at my list and saw that the number of white men were over-represented by a lot. I thought about why this might be. I do think it was partly a function of who had publicized their Patreon and who was more assertive in seeking support. Those reasons matter not at all. I knew I needed to be more inclusive. So I added more marvelous creators. Again, that felt better, and encouraging.
But this, too, isn’t enough.
Today is the first of the month, a day on which Patreon sends me a list of who I support and the dollar amounts for each one. Doing some basic arithmetic, I see that the white men are still over-represented in total financial donations by a fair bit. Sure, I can explain how one person has dropped out and I added another and I increased my financial support for another two. But the point remains. It still isn’t enough.
The best time to fix this would have been when I first joined Patreon. The next best time is now.
A few years ago, I began taking classes to learn techniques for flower arranging. Yes, there are techniques one can learn! I find it a wonderful way to relax as it stimulates creativity. Here’s one result from last summer.