Tuesday, August 22, 2017

dark skies

Well, the eclipse came and went.  I live too far south to get the full effect.  I was reminded of Mark Twain's story A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The hero gets out of a jam by threatening to  eat he sun, knowing an eclipse id due.  The local dullards go nuts when it comes to fruition and the sun vanishes.  They concede everything and the sun soon returns.  

Twain was fascinated by astronomical phenomena.  He came in on Halley's Comet and died upon its return.  Imagine what stories he could cook up now with so much more science discovered. Things like distant suns with planets, black holes, and Pluto, are just a few examples of stuff that had not been discovered in Twain's time.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Science Fiction Trails

Well, I've got the new issue of Science Fiction Trails just about ready.  It's even got little green men from Mars.  You can't go wrong with little green men.  I always liked putting issues together and came to miss it back when we stopped production.  Well, it's back and will go on sale next month.  And I've even lowered the price of it.






Sunday, August 20, 2017

Liberty?

I don't usually get political. I wrote an entry for today that ripped our president.  It disappeared. Poof!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Follow Up

My surgery is healing nicely. I've got a damn good doctor who knows how to do surgery.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Off to doctor

Going to the dermatologist today for follow up on my surgery.  I have struggled with tumors on my nose for the past few years.  It's been awful.  They're not malignant, but they've been growing nonetheless--making my nose slowly change shape and become more and more the nose of some sort of troll or something.  Children would simply stare at it.  And I couldn't get a doctor to help me.  I'd go from one dermatologist to plastic surgeon than a few more dermatologists and all of them kissed it off and refused to remove it.  Finally, the nightmare ended when I found a dermatologist who was willing to remove them. The surgery only took an hour and it only hurt for about a day.  And, I hope this is the last visit and I can mark this chapter in my life as over.  I am so happy. 




Thursday, August 17, 2017

Once Upon A Time

I've mentioned I have a book coming out soon.  I have not given much detail because I do not have a release date and don't want to get the cart before the horse. But I can offer up a bit of a teaser. Here's part of an interview with Laura Givens that will be in the new issue of Science Fiction Trails.


We caught up with artist and author, Laura Givens, and asked her about her role as author in a new book, Legends of the Dragon Cowboys.


SFT: What the heck is a Dragon Cowboy?
LG: In the Old West there weren't a lot of complimentary terms for Chinese who came to this country to help build the railroads and new lives for themselves.  Dragons imply a certain strength of character and self determination that I hope my character, Chin Song Ping, embodies.  The west was full of Chinese men and they weren't all former Shaolin priests, coolies and cooks.  As Pete Townshend of the Who once noted, “All the best cowboys have Chinese eyes."

SFT: What's your story about?
LG: My half of the book is composed of short stories about the improbable life and crazy times of Chin Song Ping.  They are strung together by the narrative device of having his grandson relate the stories to his comrades on the eve of their execution.  The stories are humorous, and adventurous and meant to keep the reader, as well as his fellow prisoners, engaged at an impossible time.

SFT:  So, two stories in one book? What kind of deal is that?
LG: The novelette length used to be a lot more common and is great for telling stories not padded out to a thousand pages like modern readers have come to expect.  Ace Books used to put out "Ace Doubles" where you flipped the book over and got a whole new book in the back.  Since getting a printer to go along with such a format might cause troubles, Chin Song Ping sits upside down on our cover as a show of respect for the tradition.

SFT: Why a Chinese character?
LB: Why not?  I grew up in white bread western Michigan but I lived for a decade in San Francisco and came to love the weird hybrid that is Chinese/American culture.  The only way to truly know a subject is to come at it from as many perspectives as possible.  I love Westerns and this is a perspective not seen often.

SFT: Any more planned adventures for Chin Song Ping?

LG: The next time Ping's grandson relates a new adventure I'll be sure to pass it along to Science Fiction Trails readers.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

corn dogs

Except for Weinerschnitzel, it's a rare fast food outlet that sells corn dogs.  I don't really know why we have to differ from that golden goodness, but the darned things are tough to find.  Yep, you can buy them at the store and cook them. But buying one ready to go is tough, excepting certain state fairs which sell them.  Since I rarely go to state fairs, that's an outlet that excludes me.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Trees

I guess I'm obsessed with the trees I've planted.  I worry about them. We've had a tremendous amount of wind, so I've put poles out there to shore them up. I put plant stakes in the soil for extra nutrition. And I look at the weather forecast and wonder when they'll need to be watered. Yesterday Mother Nature took care of the watering for me with some serious rain.

Why I am so obsessed with my trees stems from the fact I've never had my own yard before.  I owned a home in Colorado for about 10 years, but that was a condo and it didn't have a yard. A year ago I bought my present home in Tucson and it's the first yard I've actually owned.  Add to that there were no trees in the yard and Tucson is really hot.  I wanted some shade. I have visions of relaxing in the shade sipping lemonade some day. But I can only live out this fantasy if my trees grow. They're not big enough now to provide shade. And that's why I try so hard to keep them going.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Thunder & Lightning

Well,  had more thunder and lightning last night. I don't think anybody had any trees come down.  A little milder storm this time.  The plants sure like the rain water.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Festival

So many cons and events wait until the last minute to let you know what, if anything, they want you to do.  That's why it's been a real pleasure to deal with the Tempe Festival of Books.  I've got an author invite for this one day book fair that's held Saturday, November 4th.  I've already got my schedule. They offered me a table to sell books from, but I decided to consign with Duncans Books instead. And I've already got my schedule. I'll be on a panel discussion about writing science fiction. For a one-day event, one panel isn't at all bad. I'll have plenty of time to talk to other participants and attend some of the other events they have planned. 

This event is being run by the Tempe Library.  They've been great about communicating and I'm really looking forward to it. If you live in the Phoenix  area, you might stop by. This doesn't look like it's anything close to the huge size of the Tucson Book Festival, which is simply huge.  But that may be a good thing. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ferocious mother nature

We've been getting very violent afternoon thunderstorms here in Tucson.  Last night, the grim reaper came for me--well, at least one of my trees.  The winds were so strong the ash tree, one of four I've planted in my yard, was down on the ground.  I put it back up, tied it to a pole for more support, and am hoping it's not going to die. This was a seven foot tall tree and I was hoping it was big enough to make it. Boy was I wrong.  My other trees show no sign of damage.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

19th century saucers

I have two presentations I used to give fairly often to any willing group of people. One was "Flying Saucers of the 19th Century." The other one was "The Great Airship of 1897."  I haven't given either one in some time.  The reason: hecklers.  People actually singled me out to disrupt my talks. It wasn't just a one time thing, but an obvious pattern. So, I tired of it and stopped talking.  Censorship in another form?  Well, I can't prove it.

In both presentations, there is solid evidence that there were aircraft flying around in the 1800s that should not have existed.  In particular, the Great Airship of 1896--1897 definitely was beyond the capabilities of balloons and other lighter than air craft as it had a powerful electric spotlight and an ability to travel at over 100 mph. This is well documented. And, most of the books and articles are wrong. I've explained why I think they're wrong. And I, unlike some others writing or speaking on this, don't have the answers to all of the questions. 

Glowing objects over Civil War battlefields. Yep. People don't want to hear it. It upsets their sensibilities.  The story of the airship is kept in obscurity. Historians and writers won't tough it.Yet thousands of people saw it. The State of California held legislative hearings on it.   And I was often not allowed to discuss this.  event.

In many ways, the 1800s cases are more straightforward than the muddle that is the post WW II time when people usually think UFOs showed up. Back then, there weren't other aircraft in the sky. Anything up there bigger than a bird did not belong. But, after being repeatedly disrupted I kind of gave up. I haven't proposed these topics now in about three years.  And I'm not likely to bring these up for an audience at a con or elsewhere anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Chompin at the Bit

I've danced around talking about my new book project without saying much.  I've seen the cover. I like it. problem is I don't have a release date yet. And I don't have permission to show the cover. What I can is the book is in the spirit of the old Ace Doubles where they used to have one book, usually a novella, with a second book facing the other way. So both front and back cover were front covers so to speak.  Well, we thought in the era of digital publishing this was impractical. But that's way inspired us.  So, I wrote a novella called "The Venerable Travels of Ling Fung," which reprises my character Ah Puch.  And Laura Givens' story "Chin Song Ping and the Long, Long Night" takes up the other half of the book.  The overall title is Legends of the Dragon Cowboys.  One book, two stories.  

So, I've seen the cover. And it looks just like Ling Fung--at least how I envisioned him.  I don't know when I'll have release information or be allowed to show the cover.  I'm kind of excited about this release because I return to the weird western.  I'll go to my grave being thought of as a weird western guy.  Truth is, they actually only represent a small part of my cumulative output.  Last year I released a science fiction novel, Bonded Agent. I'm really happy to return to the weird western genre.  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Weird Western Update

Yesterday I was working on the new issue of Science Fiction Trails.  I should call it the choo choo issue. I don't recall but two stories in the first eleven issues that had trains in them.  I've got that in this issue.  The train, or at least robbing the train, is a western staple.  It's almost as popular as robbing the town bank.  That's why I find it odd that train stories have been rare and bank robberies even rarer.  I just don't see many submissions using these storylines. Don't know why.  

Submissions were soft, overall, but that was not unexpected since the  thing has been off the market. Hopefully that'll change for the next issue.  It's hard to build any kind of synergy with an annual publication. Yet we've never sold enough copies or received enough stories to publish more often. In fact, there are no "new" writers in the new issue.  They're the same ones I've relied on in the past. That's fine, although I'd like to see new talent.  It is what it is, I guess.  Waiting for cover art. Issue 12 will be out in September.

Also on the weird western front, I return to weird westerns with Legends of the Dragon Cowboys. That's a book with two novella sized stories featuring Chinese heroes in the Old West.  I team up with Laura Givens. Her Ching Song Ping character is most entertaining..  

My story features a fairly new character called Ling Fung He made his debut in an anthology called Under A Dark Sign. He's back and taking on the Mayan God of Death, Ah Puch. For those who've read my Miles O'Malley stories, (all three of you, ha) Ah Puch is obsessed with converting California into his own personal country in 1880's America.  Ling Fung, both an expert marksman and Kung Fu practitioner finds himself reluctantly taking on this adversary.  He really is much more interested in setting up a gun store.  Americans love guns and he thinks selling them will be the ticket to his prosperity.  A release date is not set.  Things are progressing quickly and I've seen the cover. More info there as it develops.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

calls

I got a robo call from some place at 6 am this morning.  Why do these companies think I want their fraudulent car warranties or that I'm going to give to their bogus "police" organization?  And I just love getting woken up by these assholes who don't even know what time zones are. Not in a million years.  I'm about ready to go without a telephone at all.  The Do Not Call List a complete joke. These companies violate it with impunity and nothing happens to them. Memo to Congress: revise the law.  Violating the Do Not Call List needs to be a capital crime punishable by death.

Friday, August 4, 2017

robots from outer space


Forget foreign competition.  It's not the Chinese or the Mexicans that want your job. Nope, it's the robots.  They work all day and never even ask for a lunch break. And they don't even want a benefit plan. They're quietly taking over.  At my library you don't check books out from a librarian, it's a robot. My doctor doesn't have a receptionist.  You check in with a robot.  Type in your name and click a button and sit down and the medical assistant will come get you.  

Who needs cops writing tickets when a camera at the corner will do?  Heck, burglar alarms are being replaced with little cameras. Won't be long and they'll probably hook up tasers to them and not only alert the owner but capture the crooks as well. What's a burglar supposed to do? It's enough to make them go straight. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

thunder & lightning oh my

This time of year we get thunder storms in southern Arizona.  It's just a natural cycle.  Then we can go for months with little or no rain at all.  During these storms people sometimes get hit by lightning.  I guess one tends to discount or ignore getting struck by lightning as it is a rare event.  So, I was outside doing weed removal as the clouds darkened and the thunder started to roar. And I ignored it. Then a blast of lightning struck the ground less than a block away.  Damn.  It was reminiscent of Zeus in mythology picking someone off with his lightning bolts.  It shook me up at just how foolish I had been and that I should have given nature a little more respect. I went inside and stayed there.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

laser beams

Back in the days of the space program ordinary folks were introduced to laser beams. We didn't know what to do with them, but they seemed cool.  They revolutionized communications. Gone are wire telephone cables. Fiber optics carry laser beams at much more capacity. 

Earlier this week I got to benefit from them directly as I had surgery to remove a few tumors from my nose.  I was out of the surgery in less than an hour. In days of old I'd have had stitches and maybe even plastic surgery.  Now, just some minor bandages for a few days and that was pretty much it. Sure, it hurt a little for the first day, but the pain was minimal compared to what a scalpel and stitches would bring. 

My problem had been I had a tough time finding a doctor who would help me.  I finally found a dermatologist who was really into laser surgery. I don't know why other doctors were unwilling to do it. It was a piece of cake.  Like all surgeries, there are risks and it goes without saying that it's comforting to have a good, experienced surgeon.  But, once completed, what was warping the very shape of my nose and cutting off breathing in one nostril was gone. Poof. 

So, in science fiction, they shoot the bad guys with laser beams.  But, right now, they use them for surgery and it is truly amazing.