Category Archives: Science Fiction & Fantasy

51ST ANNIVERSARY OF APOLLO 12 LANDING ON THE MOON

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.

ENDEAVOUR AWARD WINNERS AND CEREMONY

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!

Watch the Endeavour Award!

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.

ENDEAVOUR AWARD

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.

WRITING ABOUT WRITING ABOUT DINOSAURS

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!

STILL NOT ENOUGH

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.

ANALOG MAGAZINE and ASIMOV’S READERS’ AWARDS: 2019

Every year, the readers of Analog and Asimov’s Science Fiction get to vote on the best stories and poems that appeared in these venerable fiction magazines. I remember the thrill when I got an email a few years back saying that my novelette, “Diamond Jim and the Dinosaurs,” was a finalist. I was deeply honored to be among such talented writers. This year, I am exceedingly pleased to see the list of winners for 2019!


Analog Science Fiction and Fact Analytical Laboratory Winners
Best Novella–The Gorilla in a Tutu Principle or, Pecan Pie at Minnie and Earl’s—Adam-Troy Castro (September/October 2019)
Best Novelette–Bonehunters—Harry Turtledove (May/June 2019)
Best Short Story–All Tomorrow’s Parties—Phoebe North (July/August 2019)
Best Fact Article–The Venus Sweet Spot: Floating Home—John J. Vester (May/June 2019)
Best Poem–Sequoias and Other Myths—Stanley Schmidt (September/October 2019)

Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers’ Award Winners
Best Novella–Waterlines—Suzanne Palmer (July/August 2019)
Best Novelette–In the Stillness Between the Stars—Mercurio D. Rivera (September/October 2019)
Best Short Story–Sacrificial Iron—Ted Kosmatka (May/June 2019)
Best Poem–A Street Away—Jane Yolen (January/February 2019)

Better yet, this year you can watch astute editors Trevor Quachri and Sheila Williams announce the winners and watch the finalists acceptance speeches and letters. What could be better? Well, reading these insightful and engaging works! You can do that too!
Check out all the Asimov’s finalists!
Check out all the Analog finalists!

SUPER-CHARGED FROM AMAZING CON!

There I was, chatting with writers, readers, editors spanning the globe: Vancouver, Virginia, Poland, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Thailand…the list goes on! I’m talking, of course, about the very first Amazing Con, brought to you by the terrific folks who write for, edit, and publish Amazing Stories.

What a kick! With the talented and enthusiastic Frank Wu, I got to update con-goers on new developments involving dinosaurs. Plus, like any author, I had a great time reading a soon-to-be-published short story involving…dinosaurs. Then I switched hats to moderate a panel of short-fiction and novel and game writers talking about world-building.

For everyone who thinks virtual events are but a pale imitation of the face-to-face gatherings those in our field prize, I assure you they are not! Despite the time differences, virtual conventions facilitate participation by people around the globe-literally. This includes

  1. those who don’t have the financial means to transportation and hotel rooms
  2. those who have physical conditions making such attendance difficult or impossible
  3. those whose time constraints and/or family situations preclude in-person events

The first Amazing Con was such a success that plans are already afoot for the second one next year. I hope everyone will check out the Amazing kickstarter to keep this esteemed publication going!

FREE ON-LINE SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION THIS WEEKEND

There’s still time to sign up for three fun days watching your favorite SF authors talk, sing, and read their works next weekend. There’s even an art show! Hope you’ll all come hang out with me (virtually) at Amazing Con. Find out more and register here.

Amazing Con is Almost Virtually Upon Us!

I’m super excited to be invited to be a guest star at Amazing Con June 12 – 14! Want to hear me talk about new developments in old dinosaurs? Or how to go about designing a fantasy or science fiction world? Or read a new story before it’s even published?

Come one, come all! Registration is free.

Check out all the Amazing Guest Stars.

See what other events are on tap!

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