What does “the Northwest Passage” conjure up? Is it intrepid European men of centuries past seeking a way through the frozen Arctic ice to shorten their trip from Europe to Northern Asia? Despite my background as a prehistoric archaeologist, it’s easy for me to think first of Amundsen, Franklin, and Hudson before remembering that they are but some of the more recent humans to venture into the formidable land of snow and ice-clogged seas in alarmingly small vessels. Long before the Vikings and later Europeans ventured ever westward in their ships, the Inuit traveled to the east across the arctic by paddling ocean-going kayaks. In fact, people first migrated from the west across these vast distances to reach Greenland as early as 4-5,000 years ago.

I was reminded of these voyages when I saw the Hermione, pictured above, moored in Eyemouth Harbor. It’s a gorgeously sleek six-seater vessel whose crew will row along the 900 miles (give or take a few) of the Northwest Passage this summer. Oh and you can follow along from the comfort of wherever you are. Here’s wishing them a safe voyage.


Hey everyone, you can listen to my story, “Etruscan Afterlife,” starting now. It’s in an anthology, The Reinvented Heart, from Arc Manor Books. My thanks to editors Jenn Brozek and Cat Rambo, as well as publisher Shahid Mahmud for making this happen. I do believe this is the first time one of my stories has found its way into an audio book. While you’re at it, there are top notch stories about love and friendship in the future from a lot of fine writers such as Seanan NcGuire, Mercedes Yardley, Naomi Kritzer, and others. Enjoy!


My first book review appeared in Analog just weeks ago. Hope nobody missed it! Amid the excitement of seeing my work in print, I’ve already turned in my next column for the July/August 2023 issue of this venerable science fiction magazine. I’m not ready yet to tell you what I picked to review, except to say that these works of fiction are all quite recent, with some not yet published. This means that I am reading 2023 works ahead of most everyone I know in the field. Doing so feels weird. Sure it’s kinda fun having a secret, but at the same time I cannot yet say, “wait until you crack open this one!” or “What did you think of the way Author X handled Y?” Alas, alas, at this point I can’t even let the writers themselves know my reactions to the product of all their hard work and hopes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving this gig. I mean I get paid to read wonderful new stuff of my own choosing and then promulgate my opinions about it. And yet, there are two other constraints. First, there are deadlines for turning in a regular column. That means there are times when I sit down at my computer and would dearly love to commence crafting my own fiction but I must open up a partly-completed review, instead. It also means I must set aside books I won’t review because I haven’t finished reading the half dozen or so that are on my plate for my next column.

And yet, and yet, it’s a great gig!


Who knew that one’s bucket list can include sailing beneath the waves in a six-person yellow submarine named Ringo? That’s what I found myself doing last month as part of a cruise down the coast of South America starting in Valparaiso. The subsurface water outside the sub does not have great visibility due to ground up rock from the glaciers feeding the fjords. Krill and crabs and fish live down there. It’s a surprisingly calm environment even when a storm is brewing on the surface, as we soon found out. Hence, our kayaking was postponed for another day.

I also got to ride in several Zodiak boats, which gave me a chance to hold a fragment of an iceberg. Look how clear it is! This surprised me until I thought about how clear icicles can be. It was also unbelievably cold. The green is actually the strap of my floating case to hold my cell phone.

Not all the icebergs, or the glaciers from which they split off, are clear like this. Some have a decidedly blue color and include layers of ground up rock. Have I told you how much I love rock?

The ship (Viking Polaris) has several scientists on board. They launched a weather balloon one morning simultaneously with hundreds of others around the world.

As we sailed south, we came upon whales—hundreds of them and not all the same species. There were more than I could count, all blowing moist air from their blowholes. Hmmm, I was so astounded that I don’t seem to have gotten any pictures of them. The wildlife sightings also included black-necked swans, otters, sea lions, dolphins, a fox, vultures, and other birds. We also saw the paw print of a South American puma while hiking in the Andes, which is as close as I wanted to get to it.

Onward we went, all the way around Cape Horn! The tip of South America really was as cold and windy as it looks here!


I jumped at the chance to be on the ever-astute Joe Compton’s program for Go Indie Now where I got to talk about dinosaurs and other magical beasts. Have a watch! Not familiar with Go Indie Now? It’s where you’ll find all sorts of lively and timely discussions about the world of indie publishing.


Calling all you readers, do you want more novels? Yeah, I thought so. I’ve been listening to a neat new podcast produced by the astute editor-writer-reader Rachel A. Brune. Give it a try. Oh, and if that isn’t enough of a sales pitch, you can listen to her chat with me about some of our formative reading experiences going way back. We also got to talking about what it’s been like for me to read science fiction books not only for pleasure but also for my book reviews in Analog. Rachel has interviewed a bunch of other fantasy, SF, and romance writers. She’s also t


Presenting…my very first Reference Librarian column in Analog! I had a great time reading a bunch of recent science fiction novels set on and around the Moon. Having sent some fictional astronauts to the Moon in my last Analog story, it’s fascinating to see what other contemporary authors can do with it as a setting. Check it out if your taste runs to alternate history, unusual lunar communities, a Moon book to read to young kids, or a nonfiction book on building and driving Moon buggies.

The books I review are:

  • Hot Moon by Alan Smale
  • Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi
  • Sweep of Stars by Maurice Broaddus
  • The Moon and the Other by John Kessel
  • Molly of the Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Into the Airless Wilds by Earl Swift

I hope you’ll read my thoughts, then let me know what Moon-based stories you have enjoyed recently.


Readers sometimes wonder why writers return again and again to the same characters, putting them in new dilemmas after these intrepid heroes already got done saving their family/village/island/universe. Can’t the writers let them have a little well-earned time off?

Sure, we could…but we writers have spent more time with these characters than the readers have. There are a bunch more interesting adventures we ginned up for them. Or maybe we would simply miss them if we said farewell. Thus it is, I find myself revisiting a couple of my creations. One is Natalya Orlova, the defector from the Soviet Union who joined NASA in my alternate history of the 1960s space race. It appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Analog. The other is the heroine of a dinosaur story that has not yet been released.

Here’s another interesting aspect of writing new stories about characters: I never know if or when I will get an idea for what they do next. Of course, it could be what they did before the first story began that forms the basis for the next one.


I’m not one to resolve to read “more” books this year. That’s too much tracking and keeping on track for my taste. Nor am I much for taking another crack at “great” works that I’ve opened before and never gotten beyond the first few pages. Instead, this year I’m going to focus on easy reading resolutions, ones I’m nearly certain will bring me pleasure and be easier to keep.

First and foremost, I will try reading a few books outside my usual genres of science fiction, fantasy, and science fact. For example, there are marvelous books about food and cooking that go well beyond mere recipe compilations to engage the senses, inform, and even serve as a bit of a travelogue to fascinating places and times.

OK, I’m on a roll! Here are a few more resolutions that seem feasible:

  • I’m going to seek out more works by writers from other lands. I’ve found some of my favorite new authors by doing this.
  • I want to read at least a half hour every day. I might do so as soon as I wake up, before daily events distract.
  • I won’t force myself to finish any book that turns into a slog. Reading every page isn’t like finishing all the food on your plate. Come to think of it, enforced membership in The Clean Plate Club isn’t such a great idea either.
  • I will seek out a few books that were made into new movies or streaming series. I usually find the book version to be a deeper, richer experience. Even when this isn’t the case, it can be fascinating to compare them.
  • I can easily talk up more books I love. With so much competition for readers’ attention, authors need as much favorable press as possible from all quarters.
  • I’m going to read at least one banned book. You know why.
  • I’ll keep on supporting my local libraries monetarily and with book donations. Things haven’t gotten any easier for many of them recently.

Do you have reading resolutions for 2023? I’d be interested in what they are. How will you go about acting on them?


Look closely at the three indentations to the left of my hand. They are tooth marks in this leg bone of a triceratops. Ouch! If you’re wondering, this is a cast, not the real fossil, thus intended to be touched.

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