Readings From the Treehouse

Logo for Virtual Events from FOGcon

Treehouse residents Nancy Jane Moore, Madeleine E. Robins, and Gillian Polack are all reading on Sunday, July 25, beginning at 5 pm PDT as part of FOGcon’s Authors Read.

Nancy is a featured reader along with San Francisco author Claire Light, and Madeleine and Gillian are part of the rapid-fire readers participating in FOGcon’s ongoing virtual event program.

The current schedule is three rapid readers, followed by Claire, then a break before three more rapid readers. Nancy will close the readings. There will be time for questions and the event will close with breakout rooms with each of the featured readers.

All of this takes place on Zoom. Register here to get the Zoom link.

Science Fiction and Sociology, Economics, History, Philosophy …

Once upon a time, there was a lot of science fiction in which tech discoveries saved the day. Or so I’ve been told.

If you asked me to come up with something like that, it would be The Martian, which is very recent. The so called “Golden Age” stuff that I’m familiar with isn’t all that tech-driven. Asimov’s Foundation was rooted in psychology tempered by history. All the Heinlein I’ve read is about his philosophy.

Truth is, I suspect an awful lot of science fiction that is touted as “traditional” and “the way it ought to be” is mostly about some white guy solving all the problems with a well-timed punch to the villain’s chin.

Still, there were a lot of stories from the 1950s and 60s that either focused on or mentioned amazing tech, especially computers. Now most of us are carrying around that tech in our pockets.

These days, a story about a fancy new technology is more likely to show up on the business pages than in an SF/F mag.

Where we need to deal with tech in SF/F today, particularly in near-future stuff, is how we incorporate it into our society in a reasonable way. That is, we need tech tempered by economics, sociology, history, philosophy. Inventing new things is nice, but figuring out how to live with them is crucial. Continue reading “Science Fiction and Sociology, Economics, History, Philosophy …”

Clarion West Write-a-thon and Some Thoughts on Why I Like SF/F

Clarion West Write-a-thon

I just signed up to participate in this year’s Clarion West Write-a-thon. Since this works as a fundraiser for Clarion West, you can sponsor me in my writing endeavors. Of course, this is also a tool for making myself write.

I’m planning to work on a sequel to For the Good of the Realm, which just came out from Aqueduct Press. I plan to do a little work on it each day. I notice in looking at the pages for this year’s Write-a-thon that there are many other things I may be doing, but that’s the starting point.

Signing up for this got me to thinking about Clarion West, past Write-a-thons, and the whole science fiction and fantasy world.

Going to Clarion West was one of the pivotal experiences in my life. The intensity of the process was crucial for me. It not only made me write, but it made me believe in my writing. But I think the key part was being a writer in community, doing the same kind of work along with others who shared my interests and desires.

I bonded with the people in my class. Twenty-four years later, I remain close friends with several of those people and can usually pick right up where we left off with most of them.

The Write-a-thon doesn’t bring that back, but it does make me remember Vonda N. McIntyre, who always participated and always sponsored other writers who were participating. Of course, Vonda was well-known for her generosity to other writers, so this was no surprise.

Signing up for the Write-a-thon reminds me of how much I miss her. Continue reading “Clarion West Write-a-thon and Some Thoughts on Why I Like SF/F”

There Be Dragons, Yes, Dragons in the Stars!

Dragons everywhere! Dragons in the Stars: A Novel of the Star Rigger Universe has just appeared in its first new print edition in… well, I don’t want to think how many years. Never mind that—here it is! If you’re one of those people who likes paper books better than ebooks, look no further, because I think this is a pretty frickin’ nice edition, if I do say so myself. And presentation aside, dragons roaming the interstellar Flux is just not something you see every day. Continue reading “There Be Dragons, Yes, Dragons in the Stars!”

Cavalcade of Audiobooks

The Infinite Sea audiobook coverI didn’t start out thinking I would discount the entire Chaos Chronicles series in audiobook format. But when Chirp Books approved a special promotion on The Infinite Sea (just $2.99! right now!), one thing led to another. They suggested I steeply discount some of the other books in the series to keep the hoped-for wave of sales going, and I thought that sounded like a fine idea. By the time I was done, I’d put the entire series on sale! Even Blackstone Audio, which publishes the first book, Neptune Crossing, has graciously joined in.

That’s six audiobooks, all discounted at up to 80% off list price. All narrated by the incredible Stefan Rudnicki. Limited time, folks. Limited time only. These prices will never be lower!

If you’re not familiar with Chirp Books, it’s an audiobookstore owned by Bookbub, and they offer daily super-deals of really good books, just like Bookbub. Except in the case of Chirp, they actually sell the books, and don’t just advertise them. (You need the Chirp app to listen to them. But it’s a good app, similar to the Audible app. I use it myself, all the time, because I like deals on audiobooks.)

SNAP THEM UP NOW

Seriously, though, why am I doing this? With these discounts, I won’t make much on any individual sale. But it can help put these books into the hands (ears?) of lots of readers. And that’s the real reason. I want people to be able to download, and enjoy, the whole series without spending a fortune. And, I hope, the resulting momentum and reviews will spur further sales—and help me earn back the cost of producing these books within my lifetime.

So, if you try these books and you enjoy them, please do me the return favor of posting reviews. It really makes a difference!

By the way, probably because I’m out of my mind, I’m also applying a similar special promotional discount in the Apple store. So all you Apple purists, come on down!

While supplies last, limited time only!

Science Fiction Story Bundle from SFWA!

SFWA Story Bundle - book covers

A terrific new Story Bundle has just been released, and I’m part of it! It’s called the The Expansive Futures Sci-Fi Bundle, and it’s curated and sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). It’s a great way to get a big pile of great new books for almost nothing, and support a good cause in the process. It’s a terrific deal. https://storybundle.com/scifi

I’m going to let Amy Duboff explain it. She’s the one who oversaw the curation of the package: Continue reading “Science Fiction Story Bundle from SFWA!”

Etsy and Me, and Coffee* Makes Three!

Chaos 1-4 Tor hardcovers

Back in the day, I used to sell autographed copies of my books from my website, by way of a simple pricelist page that could be printed and mailed to me. I didn’t sell a lot, but it helped me connect with some readers. Then the web got more complicated, and sales tax got more complicated, and I gave up on that model. Now, I’m selling autographed books through Etsy! Yes, that place you go to (statistically more likely if you are female) to buy crafts and things. It turns out you can sell books there, too, and a number of authors and booksellers do just that. Now I am, too.

Here’s what I’ve got in my StarRiggerBooks store so far:

All autographed and personalized as requested. Great gift ideas, right? Come and be my customer! Or share it with a book-loving friend!

*You didn’t think I could build an Etsy store without the help of coffee, did you?

Gillian Polack Wins A. Bertram Chandler Award

Gillian Polack at work The Australian Science Fiction Foundation has named Dr. Gillian Polack the 2020 winner of its A. Bertram Chandler Award for outstanding achievement in Australian science fiction.

The Chandler Award, which is juried, is given for lifetime achievement in science fiction. In announcing the Gillian’s selection, the Foundation noted her significant work in fandom as well as her outstanding fiction, including her Ditmar-award-winning novel The Year of the Fruit Cake.

We here in the Treehouse are delighted to see Gillian’s multifaceted skills and projects recognized by the Foundation. Congratulations to Gillian for the award and to the Foundation for making such an excellent choice.

Reading and Writing – an update on my book problem

I have so many piles of books in my living area (which is also my work area) that even I feel the clutter. The reason this post’s title includes the words ‘book problem’ is because occasionally they topple and I tripped over one yesterday and…

I love them all. It’s not a problem in any sense except the clutter. I’m not reading just one good book this month, I’m reading dozens. They are my building blocks for a three-year research project (1), and I’m already having fun. Gradually, the piles will diminish.

One pile is for putting away. “I’ve finished this – it was fun but not terribly useful. I’ve taken the notes I need from it but they’re not relevant to anything I’ll be writing. It can go away. No need to put it in the bibliography.”

Another pile is carefully marked up. Not the books themselves – I have special sticky paper that doesn’t harm books and I write on that. When I’m ready to write that book up, I go straight to the notes and lo, it’s ready to go. I know what page to refer to in my footnotes and I have my thoughts on the sticky paper. Then I put the details of the book in the bibliography, and then that book goes on the putting-away pile.

The third pile consists of one book right now, called Putting the Science into Fiction. It’s not a scrap of use for my research project, but has some stuff in it I want to use as a reminder for world building. The world building has nothing to do with the research project. Until last Wednesday I did it full-time, but now I’m doing it as a leisure activity. The book will be put away when I talk through what it contains with my co-conspirators in world building, which could be next Monday, or it could be in three months.

The three largest piles relate to three of the core focal points of the research project. One is on fairy tales, one is on own voices, and the third is on writing about cultures that are a bit alien or foreign.

The piles I’m working through right now, however, are none of those things. Some are on writing technique, some are on genre, and some are on what makes narrative, and some are on rhetoric or critical theory. These are my reminder piles: it’s no use launching into research without checking that you know what you’re doing. It’s not enough to know this stuff as an expert or generally. I have to know exactly what elements I need for this precise project.

That’s all for this project, for now.

A proposal I put in for an academic paper was accepted yesterday. I’m about to start an extra pile (which will link into the project, but is right now just for the paper) will be about food in speculative fiction. This one is quite dangerous. Whenever I write about food, I have to cook things.

When people ask me what I love about research I am stumped. What’s not to love about reading fiction and inventing recipes to fit the food mentioned in the story? Although in this case I’ll be doing a critical analysis. Mouthfeel has to play a part. Maybe I’ll have recipes as the slides that illustrate the paper? After all, I have a nice collection of cookbooks that I can match to the foodways in the fiction. The most mouth-watering paper at an academic conference. It sounds good to me.

Writing long fiction is on the backburner for a bit, obviously, but my reasons are impeccable, as are my piles of books. Also, I did that thing that chefs do on cooking shows. There are three objects I prepared earlier, one that is out in paperback and now affordable (earlier research!) , one that is out already and the other is coming in a very, very short time. The same applies to next year – work finished a while back means that I shall research away and books will appear and everyone will think that I work 36 hours a day.

I don’t. But I do have impressive piles of books stacked everywhere they fit.

 

  1. For all of you, a footnote. For anyone wondering, yes, this research project is for a PhD. It’s not my first PhD, however, and Australian PhDs are only three years long and we start the research on Day One. Also, I’m more interested in the research itself and in working with two tremendous supervisors than I am with shouting, “Hey, I’m doing a PhD.” Because it’s all about writers and what they put in their fiction, I shall talk about the cool stuff here, from time to time. Ivory towers are a fiction, and research relates to the real world. This research relates to culture in fiction. And I am one of those people who write stuff into footnotes that people need to read. I did it for my first novel and I refuse to stop doing it unless I’m writing an academic piece. This is due to a certain warped element in my personality.

Finding Comfort in Chaotic Times

A couple of weeks ago, Gillian Polack wrote about what makes a book great comfort reading, one you want to read over and over, especially when things are difficult.

Then Madeleine Robins wrote about “fluffy bunnies” – books, television, and movies that provide balm to your soul.  A story doesn’t have to be “nice” to be fluffy this way.

I’ve got some favorite comfort reads as well, and I’ll get to them in a minute. But first I want to talk about something else I just did to improve my comfort levels: I signed up for an 18-day virtual meditation retreat.

It started on Election Day. At 6 am. In fact, I have to get up for a 6 am one-hour session every day until November 20.

Even though I spent 22 years of my life going to Aikido at 7 am, I never became a morning person. I hate alarm clocks. I hate getting out of bed. By the time morning rolls around, I’m usually very comfortable and see no point in jumping up to meet the world.

That I signed up for this retreat shows you just how desperate I am to get back on center. The pandemic and the election have done a number on me.

It’s not that I don’t know how to meditate already. In fact, the retreat is led by Qigong Master Li Junfeng, with whom I studied when I lived in Austin. I could easily meditate on my own.

Except I haven’t been. Part of the purpose of signing up was to get into a habit. The other part was to get some inspiration from Master Li. He’s a joyful man and joy is good.

So I’m meditating, and that’s good. Continue reading “Finding Comfort in Chaotic Times”