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A public conversation about our worlds.

  • Monday: Morgan J. Locke
  • Tuesday: Madeleine E. Robins
  • Wednesday: Maureen F. McHugh
  • Thursday: Bradley Denton
  • Friday: Steven Gould
  • Saturday: Caroline Spector
  • Sunday: Rory Harper

Brain Activity



Let’s Agree to Disagree

January 6th, 2010 by Steven Gould

Scott Edelman, over on Twitter, pointed out this amazingly awful attack on the great writers of science fiction by David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service.  It’s not quite James Bond, Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but it does have a ring to it.

Anyway, his post, titled Beware of Science Fiction, uses Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gene Roddenberry, as examples of agnostic or atheistic proponents.  His descriptions are factual, using quotes from the writers in question.  After reading every one of the quotes, my reaction is “Right on!” but he seems to see them as, uh, damning.

He finishes with:

Science fiction is intimately associated with Darwinian evolution. Sagan and Asimov, for example, were prominent evolutionary scientists. Sci-fi arose in the late 19th and early 20th century as a product of an evolutionary worldview that denies the Almighty Creator. In fact, evolution IS the pre-eminent science fiction. Beware!

So, I’m guessing that evidence based science is just right out of the picture, for him.

I laughed when I read the informational paragraph at the bottom of the website which includes:

OUR GOAL IN THIS PARTICULAR ASPECT OF OUR MINISTRY IS NOT DEVOTIONAL BUT IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR.

In conclusion, I’m making a unilateral deal with him.  He shouldn’t read ANY Science Fiction and I’ll promise never to read his web site again.

(also posted at Steve’s blog, An Unconvincing Narrative)

Posted in Daily Life, Religion, Science Fiction | 8 Comments »

Petrogypsies Reloaded

January 3rd, 2010 by Rory Harper

Huh. I doubt if this post counts as being substantive, but what the hell.

I just thought I’d mention that Dark Star Books has re-issued my first (okay — so far my only) novel in trade paperback format.

You have no idea how delighted I am and how grateful I am to Tom Knowles for shepherding this project though a lengthy and difficult gestation and birth. Tom’s an old friend who has partnered with a guy who just happens to own a multi-million dollar printing installation. They’re aggressively entering the market with small-run books that can then immediately ramp to print-on-demand and near-instant shipping when the sales call for it. This is likely to be the most survivable business model for small-to-medium publishers in an age when the old business model is dying an agonizing, prolonged death.

Because they’ve almost completely cut out the middle man and aren’t engaging in that monstrous practice where books are destroyed and stripped covers get returned for credit, they can sell at a highly-competitive cover price. And they make extremely high-quality product with great exterior and interior art, printed on acid-free paper, with thick covers and library-quality binding. They’ve got a good line-up of titles already in place, including Robert Asprin’s last novel, ‘No Quarter’. Later this year, we should see John Steakley’s ‘Werewolve$’.

Also, Tom did something almost unheard-of in the publishing biz — He got me and Brad Foster to exchange emails before Brad did the art, to make sure the final cover pleased us both. Brad came up with some neat ideas, including some fun in-jokes with the patches on the jumpsuits that Henry Lee and Star are wearing.

Brad basically nailed it in first draft, except that we had a little back and forth about what Sprocket’s drilling toungue should look like. We decided to step back from showing that, since, well, certain dirty-minded people might think the tip looks like a gigantic penis…

Also, I mentioned that I’d like to see lots of cleavage on the cover. Brad’s one of the Secret Masters of Cleavage, so that worked out okay.I think it’s a perfect cover, especially considering that the book’s being aimed at the YA market.

Tom got me over to watch the print run, which was another wonderful experience. I phone-vidded some of the visit, which I’ll likely post here, once I’ve gotten it edited.

The book is just now coming into stock at Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble. It’ll be available unpredictably in stores in small amounts. You can also order any of their titles directly from Dark Star, of course.

I hope this adventure works out for Tom and Dark Star, because he wants to see the sequel, ‘Sprocket Goes International’, in time to print for this next holiday season, and then, hopefully, ‘Sprocket Goes Interstellar’ the year after.

Now all I gotta do is write them.

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Posted in Daily Life | 4 Comments »

I Suspect Rory Harper Is A Vampire

January 1st, 2010 by Steven Gould

We traveled for the holidays visiting mostly family and some friends in Texas. Among these were supposed to be Rory but he wasn’t answering his phone or texts or emails. Then he did.

“I’m completely turned around,” he said. “I’ve flip-flopped my day-night cycle, staying up all night and sleeping all day. That’s why it took so long to respond.”

A likely story. I suspect he was too busy draining some luscious co-ed in the back alleys to check his phone. I mean, here you are sneaking up on someone and your phone goes off. It must make it difficult to hook up, so to speak.

Now, I can’t personally confirm this since business and weather stuff conspired to scoot us out of the state before planned, but just look at that picture and draw your own conclusions.

I guess we’ll know in February. Blind Lemon Denton and the Lemonaids will be playing AggieCon and Rory plays guitar for them. If he shows up during the daylight hours, I guess I’ll have been mistaken.

Or is that Sunscreen SPF 15 X 10^3?

Posted in Daily Life | 1 Comment »

Reboot

December 31st, 2009 by Steven Gould

Okay, I’m not going to make Spock get it on with Uhura, but I am going to commit to at least one substantive post a week in 2010.  Let’s see if we can get things moving again.

Happy New Year everyone!

Posted in Daily Life | 5 Comments »

Petrogypsies – The Short Story

December 13th, 2009 by Rory Harper

Some weeks are better than others. This has been a good one, in several ways.

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Petrogypsies

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In celebration of a recent auspicious event, I’m posting the complete text of the original short story that began my first novel, ‘Petrogypsies’, as published in Baen’s Far Frontiers in 1988.

More info to come.

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Posted in Daily Life | 2 Comments »

Black Symphony

October 12th, 2009 by Rory Harper

Jillian

My apologies for missing my post yesterday — I spent a great weekend in Austin, hanging out with my Wild-Ass NeoPagan Tribe(TM) at the ScotchtoberFest party and seeing Zombieland with She Who Is Awesome and her thrall, Jesse. Then I rode back to CS in a cold, wet miserable drizzle. I’d neglected to bring my foul-weather gear with me because weather.com said there was a 10% chance of rain this weekend. I felt like a drowned kitten by the time I slithered off the bike. Weather.com can go screw themselves.

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Anyhow — I’ve always been a total sucker for orchestral rock. Except for prog-rock, which generally sucks. Saw the Moody Blues live three or four times, and the Metallica thing with the London Symphony Orchestra is also a fav.

Symphonic Goth Metal takes it to new level for me. Tonight we have Within Temptation’s magnum opus, Black Symphony, on the turntable. They got the Metropole Orchestra and a bunch of monks who’d given themselves over to the dark side to play with them one night.

They’re a Dutch band with a long and apparently happy history as a family. Sharon den Adel, their lead singer, has some amazing pipes on her. She’s also a major hottie. Unfortunately, she’s hooked up with her lead guitarist — as all chick singers do — and has even gone so far as to have a child with him in a futile effort to convince me to quit sending her those letters professing my undying adoration.

I had a difficult time deciding which cut from the album to present to you. They range from pretty-damn-metal to pretty-damn-symphonic. I have the album, and highly recommend it to you, especially the version that includes a DVD of the concert.

Click the pic at the top of this post for Jillian, which opens the album after the overture.  I encourage you to surf YouTube for other excellent songs from that night. The cut for Jane Doe isn’t on the US version of the album, and it was the one that got me into them to start with.  It does rock harder than Jillian. The big Frankensteiny guitarist who chases her across the stage in this vid is her main squeeze. I just don’t know what she sees in him.

You can also hit their site. It leads with Utopia, a ballady new song that isn’t metal at all, but is kinda-sorta heart-breaking. It’s a pre-sale song for their upcoming An Acoustic Night at the Theatre. It’s got an orchestra in it, so I’ll have get it, too.

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Posted in Music, Rachael is Awesome, Rory | 7 Comments »

A Keyboard For Writers

October 4th, 2009 by Rory Harper

Kb41

We all know that writing can be painful. The intense frustration when an idea that was pure genius in our heads translates to vapid merde when we try to put it into words on the screen. The struggle to impose form and structure on a plotline that insists on fracturing into a thousand shards, all of them purest zirconium. The realization that you abruptly suck at this endeavor that is central to your self-regard, that you’ve lost it forever, that all your friends will now know what a dismal fraud you are.

I can’t help you with that part. Cocaine, alcohol, and perverse sex are the prescribed remedies.

However, there is some hope for the physical pains that you’re experiencing. If you write much, your hands hurt fairly constantly now, don’t they? Probably your forearms, too, and your shoulders ache.

Let’s trip back to the halcyon days of yestertyping, when only women were taught how to use a keyboard. Real computers cost five to ten thousand dollars. A mouse was a rodent that you carried around in your shirt pocket, because you were weird.

There was no GUI. There was only one screen color on a black background. There was the command line, and you wrote your novels in WordStar, which was the coolest program on the planet.

Back then, the keyboards were not made for a dollar a day by starving Filipino orphans. They were often designed by obsessive engineers who realized that keyboards were the contact point between their expensive wares and the person who bought them, so they damn well better be good.

Then came Windows (and the Macintosh, but we don’t talk about Macs in polite society).

The paradigm shifted tectonically. Now most people click away their lives rather than typing everything. And computers cost a tenth of what they once did, so keyboards are thrown into the bundle like Happy Meal toys.

And they’re awful. They hurt you badly in the long run if you type a lot.

I’d like to introduce you to the IBM Model M keyboard. If you’re a writer, it’s your new best friend.

: Read More »

Posted in Daily Life, Health and Safety, Rory, Technology | 17 Comments »

Life, I tell you! Extraterrestrial…. liiiiiiife!

October 2nd, 2009 by Morgan J. Locke

Frankenstein

So, here is a quickie, to get warmed up and breathe a little life back into my own posting habits.

Science News reports that some very clever people have come up with a laser technique for detecting microbial activity. We can not only use it to, say, detect Martian life from orbit, but even use it to detect life on worlds orbiting other suns! Even better, it uses very inexpensive, off-the-shelf equipment. Which means maybe even some enterprising amateurs could conceivably be the first people to discover extraterrestrial life.

How cool is that?

Posted in Geniuses, Look up!, Morgan, Science, Technology | 6 Comments »

Nothing Else Better To Do

September 27th, 2009 by Rory Harper

worldwoarzconceptart

Okay, it’s been completely dead in here for far too long.

I’ve been a near-total hermit since sometime late last year. I blame Obama. But I’m hereby officially re-committing to posting some postings at least once a week. I already have a couple in my head. They may not all be the casual masterpieces that you’ve grown accustomed to seeing from me. But they’ll be something.

I’m kicking off with a new song that I’ve largely finished mixing this morning.

It’s probably the most highly-produced song I’ve done yet, with all sorts of layers and panning and automation envelopes and synths and on and on about stuff you don’t care about.

And, Ghod help me, I smashed it all to hell with compressors and limiters. It just seemed like the kind of tune that called for that. Another sad victim of the Loudness Wars. I left a few transients in there somewhere. Maybe.

I like to think that this one is in the finest tradition of EatOurBrains.

I hope that it’s an easy listen for you.

…Uh… You should play it loud….

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Nothing Else Better to Do

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EDIT on 10-04-09: I’ve just loaded a slight remix of the song, for increased clarity. I brought the vocals forward so that they’re more intelligible, increased the strings’ level for ear candy, and got rid of some mud in the bottom end. I don’t know about you guys, but I usually don’t enjoy having mud in my bottom end.

Hugs to all of you

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Posted in Dammit!, Geniuses, mp3, Music, Rory, Zombies | 9 Comments »

My Biggest Fan

September 13th, 2009 by Steven Gould

funny-pictures-cat-activates-secret-door

Gardner Dozois pointed out the impeccable good taste demonstrated above.  Fifth Book From the Left. Yes, the Wind in the Willows is good too.

Posted in Pop. Culture, Steve | 2 Comments »

Welcome to the Present

September 6th, 2009 by Steven Gould

You see, we were in the past.  Because of technical difficulties I haven’t upgraded the WordPress Version on this blog for over a year because the automatic upgrade thingy provided by my host wasn’t working properly.  Now this was probably because of all the customization I did on this blog but the other day there was news of a really nasty exploit that targeted all WordPress installations before the current one and I got my ass in gear.

I am very glad to tell you, by the way, that even though I have upgraded WordPress to the very latest WordPress (2.8.4) its spellcheck still doesn’t recognize WordPress as a correct spelling.

Maybe I can live with that.

Posted in Steve, Technology | Comments Off

Oliver Vale Rides Again

August 14th, 2009 by Bradley Denton

Oliver Vale

The official movie website:  www.aliveandwellmovie.com

Director Robert Rugan’s film-progress blog:  http://fromganymede.tumblr.com

Oliver Vale tweeting from the year 1988:  http://twitter.com/olivervale

Free, Creative-Commons-licensed downloads of the novel:  http://manybooks.net/titles/dentonbother09buddy_holly_is_alive_and_well.html

Posted in Brad, Movies | 8 Comments »

Rory’s Rules of the Road

June 1st, 2009 by Rory Harper


I’ve been spending much too much time lately moving across our Texas highway system trapped inside the damnedest repeated clusterfracks. (Yes, that’s the technical linguistic term for a group of Texas drivers who have bunched up at high speed.)

 

I’m a gentle old man, but I’ve had too many recent inner visions of flames, explosions, and the deployment of my personal bazooka, to be satisfied with the current state of affairs.

 

Therefore, I’m posting so that everyone who drives in Texas will know how to better keep Rory alive and happy on the highway.

 

Here’s the One Rule to Rule Them All: Get Out of My Way.

 

Here are the Three Laws of Velocity:

 

  1. If you’re driving faster than me, you’re a maniac, and should be removed from the road.
  2. If you’re driving slower than me, you’re a granny, and should be removed from the road.
  3. If you’re driving the same speed as me, you’re pacing me, and should be removed from the road.

 

This set of rules is simple, elegant, and results in me having the highway entirely to myself, which is as it should be. However, we live in an imperfect world, so I’m willing to put up with you as long as you Get Out of My Way.

 

There are, of course, some behaviors you shouldn’t indulge in, unless you want to make me suffer from Road Annoyance.

 

To be perfectly clear, I’m not doing this for your own good. I don’t care if you kill yourself and all your loved ones by driving stupidly. Darwinism in action is what that is. I just don’t want you to kill me, okay? I’ve already got enough problems with that whole natural selection thing as it is.

 

Though, since I’ve already passed my DNA along, I suppose it really wouldn’t be that wrong to run over me. And I know it won’t really upset you to kill a feeble old man whose life is practically over with anyhow, for more than a few hours, or until you’re distracted when the next episode of  “Jon & Kate Plus 8” airs.

 

But what if you hit Jon & Kate and the eight cute little kids and smushed them all? That would make you sad for a long time, wouldn’t it? Okay, maybe not about Jon and Kate. I mean, who cares about those two idiots? But the kids for sure, right? I bet that would make you sad for a loooong time.

 

So – remember these things I’m about to list, because you might kill a bunch of adorable little soon-to-be-adoptees instead of me, if you don’t.

 

Here are the Ten Tips to Avoid Bazookas:

: Read More »

Posted in Daily Life, Dammit!, Health and Safety, Rachael is Awesome, Rory, You | 5 Comments »

Time for a Vacation

May 7th, 2009 by Madeleine Robins

All right.  I’ve been a bad Madeleine, absent for yea, this long time.  But I’m still here.  I’m checkin’ in, right?  And look!  I brought you something.  ::rummages around for embed code.::  See?   

Feel better now? Of course not. You have cholera!

Posted in Mad, Politics | 7 Comments »

Stand By Me — Around the World

April 29th, 2009 by Rory Harper

This is a transcendant piece of video- and music-making. Sean e-mailed me the link, suggesting that we might enjoy it.

At least in my case, he was absolutely correct in his surmise. It’s a version of Ben E. King’s classic ‘Stand By Me’. It starts out small and personal, then quickly achieves orbital velocity as it goes global.

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It’s too late for us to be among the earliest adopters on this song. But, if you haven’t alrady seen it, you have my heartiest encouragement to click the pic. It’s uplifting. And it rocks.

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Posted in Music, Pop. Culture, Rory | 2 Comments »

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