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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
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|Thursday, December 5th, 2013|
|Sunday, October 20th, 2013|
|Wednesday, October 9th, 2013|
It's been way too long since my last science fiction convention. I've been going through emotional and financial withdrawal. But this weekend, finally, I'm getting back in the con swing of things, with Capclave
in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The last thing I heard from the convention was that expected attendance is up to 700, which isn't huge by some measures, but is much bigger than I recall Capclave being of late, so I'm looking forward to a great con!
If you're in the area, and want to see me, I will (as usual) be spending most of my time behind the Fantastic Books
table in the dealers' room (open Friday 4-7pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, and Sunday 11am-2pm). I'm also on programming. My scheduled items include:
Friday at 8pm in Salon A: "Perishing Publishers" with Jennifer Barnes, Andrew Fox, James Maxey, and K. Ceres Wright.
Friday at 10pm in Salons C, D, and E: "What Stalled the Space Program?" with David Bartell, Eric Choi, D. Douglas Fratz, Inge Heyer, and James Maxey.
Saturday at 2pm in Salon B: "The Imperial March" with Catherine Asaro, Charles E. Gannon, Carolyn Ives Gilman, and Lawrence Watt-Evans.
Saturday at 10pm in Rockville/Potomac: "Name Drop and Quote Panel" with Scott Edelman, Andrew Fox, Steve Stiles, and Michael Swanwick.
Saturday at midnight in Rockville/Potomac: "Eye of Argon" with Hildy Silverman and Michael A. Ventrella.
|Monday, October 7th, 2013|
|Wonderful interview with Antonin Scalia
Marking the start of this year's Supreme Court term, New York magazine has a wonderful interview with Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, here: http://nymag.com/news/features/antonin-scalia-2013-10/
. It's long, wide-ranging, and fascinating. Don't settle for the sound-bites you'll hear about it (probably focusing on the Devil or the internet); go for the original words. They very enjoyable, sometimes surprising, and in a few cases, I actually laughed. But give credit to Justice Scalia, who uses the word ukase (and properly, I might add), and who brings up one of my favorite Constitutional Amendments, the ninth.
|Tuesday, October 1st, 2013|
|Fantastic Books brings The Dark Path back into print
Booklist called The Dark Wing “an impressive debut,” while Library Journal said it dealt “with the problematic issues of xenophobia and genocide while presenting a fast-paced story that should appeal to fans of space opera and military SF,” and that it “belongs in most sf collections.” Publishers Weekly said “Hunt delivers a bravura performance,” and SF Revu called it a “brilliant first novel.”
Kirkus Reviews said The Dark Wing was “a thoughtful debut.… Satisfyingly complete in itself, though expertly set up for sequels.” Hunt took that call to heart, and provided the sequels, eventually turning it into a four-volume series.
Fantastic Books brought The Dark Wing
back into print last September, and now continues the series for a new generation of readers with The Dark Path
. In this second book in the cycle, a veteran commander is placed in the path of an invasion by an unknown enemy, but she is soon placed in an even more difficult position: assuming the role of an alien legendary hero, whose fate is predestined. How far will she go before she steps off the path that has been created for her to follow?
Publishers Weekly called The Dark Path a “gripping sequel,” while Booklist echoed them, calling it “gripping stuff.” Library Journal said the book “combines military sf and space opera to produce a large-scale sf adventure that takes place in the depths of outer space, as well as within the minds of the combatants. A good choice for sf collections.” And Analog opined that it might be the second volume “in a quest that may well prove science fiction’s version of The Lord of the Rings… If you enjoyed Wing, you’ll love Path.”
Both books are now available through all on-line retailers, or by order from any book store. They are distributed (as are all Fantastic Books titles) via Ingram.
The Dark Wing The Dark Path
by Walter H. Hunt by Walter H. Hunt
$15.99, 356 pages $15.99, 284 pages
ISBN: 978-1-61720-734-1 ISBN: 978-1-61720-940-6
|Monday, September 23rd, 2013|
|Dark Fantasy with a Metaphysical Edge: John R. Fultz’s The Revelations of Zang, complete in one volu
Fantastic Books is thrilled to publish The Revelations of Zang: Twelve Tales of the Continent by John R. Fultz. This collection of dark fantasy tales with a metaphysical edge is full of grotesque wonders and weird splendor.
Artifice the Quill flees from tyrant sorcerers into a world of strange magic, ancient gods, and exotic kingdoms. The exiled author joins a traveling troupe of performers known as the Glimmer Faire, where he learns the magical power of art and the art of magical power. These Twelve Tales of the Continent alternate between the exploits of Artifice and the adventures of Taizo the Rogue, a master of skullduggery who sparks a rebellion in the name of bloody vengeance.
The Lost Gods of Narr were displaced a century ago by the Sorcerer Kings, a council of dictators who rule the Golden City with necromancy, alchemy, and terror. The mysterious folk of the Red Isle foster dissension in Narr by smuggling their enchanted goods into the city, while the ancient Zang Forest expands itself across the lands of men, devouring farms and towns as it reaches to smother the wicked city. Now that the Lost Gods are returning to destroy the world, only Artifice, Taizo, and a small band of rebels have any hope of preventing the apocalypse.
Four of the included stories first appeared in Black Gate magazine, after Fultz debuted the series with “The Persecution of Artifice the Quill” (which appeared in Weird Tales in 2006), but seven of these interrelated stories are brand new in this volume. They include “Spilling the Blood of the World,” the novelette which brings the entire Zang Cycle to a staggering finale.
All Fantastic Books titles are available through major online retailers, distributed by Ingram, and available to specialty shops directly from the publisher. See www.FantasticBooks.biz for our complete catalog.
The Revelations of Zang: Twelve Tales of the Continent
by John R. Fultz
$14.99, 254 pages, ISBN: 978-1-61720-941-3
|Thursday, September 19th, 2013|
|That game show ate a bit more
It’s over. As I said in my previous post, I had an appointment for 6 in the morning on Thursday, the last day of the Million Second Quiz. I got there a few minutes early, walking through deserted streets in Brooklyn, riding a mostly empty subway, and then walking through streets in Manhattan just starting to stir for the day. The full moon was shining down on all of it.
I was in the studio for nearly eight hours today, as they offered quizzes and called names several times. Eventually, however, it came to an end. The casting director told us he was announcing the final ten names, the last people who’d be moving on to the next stage and (probably, though there was always the chance they wouldn’t) taking their turn in the hourglass, battling for control of the Money Chair. I’m bummed I didn’t make the cut for one more shot at the money. I can only console myself with the fact that there were about 50 of us left out in the cold at the end, unchosen, and that among those 50 were: Matt, the fellow who beat me in my first bout (he said he lasted nearly three hours in the chair, and we talked for quite a while; he’s a nice guy); Ed Toutant, the seemingly unbeatable machine from Monday night, who is number 5 on Wikipedia’s list of all-time game-show money-winners (who I’d spent some time with in pleasant conversation on Tuesday); Bob Harris, who Matt pointed out as a five-time Jeopardy champion (from back when they were limited to five appearances) and the author of a book Matt recommended; a bunch of people in my situation, who’d tried several times to get into the money; and a bunch of people there for the first (only) time, who didn’t get beyond the waiting room.
It was an experience. All told, I spent nearly 40 hours in that building, and appeared on the program’s live video stream for two blocks of less than 9 minutes. I took home three $5 Subway gift cards and an experience, but nothing really tangible. I made several new acquaintances, some of which I hope to continue in the future.
Now I have to recover, and then get back to work.
|Wednesday, September 18th, 2013|
|Game show ate my life
I’ve been keeping quiet about this, but since it’s nearly over, and some have asked about my silence, I may as well say something.
I’ve been spending the week trying to get onto a game show. I’ve passed the tests for Jeopardy! (8-10 times) and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (16 times), and though I’ve made it into their contestant pools, I’ve never been called to be a contestant.
A few months ago, my agent sent me a notice about a new game show accepting applications, so I completed one, sent it in, and in July or early August, I had an in-person interview in a small office on Broadway for the show, Million Second Quiz. Sunday morning, I had a call from one of the show’s casting people, asking me to come in Sunday at 5pm, and I spent 13 and a half hours in the long-closed Mercedes Benz dealership in Manhattan. I made it to the stage at 5:30 Monday morning, and lost my one match (“bout,” they call it) in a brutally close tie-breaking after a very good, hard-fought regular time bout. So I went back Tuesday at 3pm, and spent 19 and a half hours in that same building. This time I made it to the stage at 10:30 Wednesday morning, and again lost my one hard-fought, close match, in regulation time.
I’m exhausted, I’ve spent 33 frakkin’ hours in the “studio” (not counting travel time), and have absolutely nothing to show for it. But since the 24-hour-a-day quiz show runs out of its million second just after 9 tomorrow night, I’m going back in. I’ve got an appointment for 6am. The odds of me winning any money are incredibly slim (I’ll have to either win and keep the money chair for at least eight hours, or have the incredible luck of being the last contestant on the show, and defeating one of the four residents of winners’ row who actually have money), so it’s both unlikely I’ll have any financial gain from this week, and unlikely anyone will see me on television (though the few dedicated fans of the show would have been able to see me on the computer-stream of those off-hour bouts). But since my absence has apparently been noticed, I thought I’d let you know why I’ve been silent: these have been some long damn days!
This was a brief explanation. A 5,200-word discussion of my experiences with and impressions of the game during my first visit is available upon request.
|Thursday, September 12th, 2013|
|Fantastic Books publishes the book that created alternate universes
Speculative fiction scholar and Fantastic Books editor Darrell Schweitzer has spearheaded our efforts to bring The Heads of Cerberus back into print. First published in the rare pulp magazine The Thrill Book in 1919, Francis Stevens’ masterpiece blends time-travel fantasy, alternate realities, and social satire as it propels early 20th century characters into the Philadelphia of the year 2118. The city is an isolated dystopia run by a corrupt oligarchy, the Liberty Bell has been transformed into a disintegration machine, and William Penn is worshiped as a god. This exciting melodrama is filled with striking images and vivid characters, and for readers actually familiar with the Quaker City, there is the added pleasure of seeing an eerily recognizable rendition of the past projected into a strange future.
Francis Stevens was a pseudonym of Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1883-1948), the first woman to be a major contributor of fantastic fiction to the pulp magazines. She published one story under her own name in The Argosy in 1904. In the middle of the next decade, she turned to writing full-time to support her family, and her fiction writing career began as Stevens with “The Nightmare,” which was published in All-Story Weekly in April 1917. Her fiction appeared in the major pulp magazines of the day, and she also wrote several novels.
Following her invalid mother’s death around 1920, she stopped writing. Her last novella, “Sunfire,” was serialized in Weird Tales in 1923. Her fans assumed she had “mysteriously disappeared,” but her disappearance was easily explained: she was a writer who produced fiction only out of economic necessity, and when that necessity was removed, she stopped. She was a popular writer, but producing work at a time when fiction had no longevity: the pulp magazines in which it was published didn’t survive long.
Other than its first publication, The Heads of Cerberus saw one very limited book edition published in 1952, but aside from those curtailed appearances, the book has been more legend than memory. Fantastic Books is thrilled to finally bring the book into publication for the wide audience it deserves.
Editor Darrell Schweitzer’s introduction puts the book in context for the modern reader.
As with all Fantastic Books, The Heads of Cerberus is available from all major online retailers, distributed via Ingram to physical bookstores, and available to specialty shops directly from the publisher.
The Heads of Cerberus
by Francis Stevens
Introduction by Darrell Schweitzer
$12.99, 174 pages, ISBN: 978-1-61720-939-0
|Monday, September 2nd, 2013|
|Term limits may suck, but the people want some respect
Dad pointed out this article (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/02/nyregion/in-quinn-reversal-on-term-limits-complex-motives-and-lasting-effects.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
, "Quinn Reversal, Meant to Help Her, Now Hurts" by Michael Barbaro and David M. Halbfinger), in which New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn -- one of the leading candidates for Mayor of New York City in this year's election -- realizes her machinations with the term limits law five years ago are coming back to bite her in the ass.
Quick recap: in 2008, during the financial crisis, Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided he needed to be mayor for a third term (which was to start on January 1, 2010), in order to save New York City from financial ruin. In 1993 and 1996, the voters of New York City voted to adopt a two-term limit for the mayor, members of the City Council, and others. When Bloomberg made that 2008 decision, Quinn was the front-runner to replace him. After he announced his intention to run again, she decided to support the change in term limits and seek another term as Speaker.
I've just reread my commentary from that time, in which I decried both the concept of term limits, and the concept of elected officials ignoring the will of the people and saying "well, if you don't like it, you can vote against me." (See these posts: http://uspresidents.livejournal.com/8692.html
[October 2, 2008]; http://uspresidents.livejournal.com/11773.html
[October 8, 2008]; http://uspresidents.livejournal.com/12100.html
[October 13, 2008]; http://uspresidents.livejournal.com/16655.html
[October 24, 2008]; and http://uspresidents.livejournal.com/34549.html
[January 13, 2009])
This year, Quinn started out as the prohibitive favorite for both her party's nomination for Mayor and for the ultimate election itself. But of late, people have started to remember just how much she respects the expressed will of the people. She's struggling in the polls, and even the New York Times is calling her out for what she did in 2008 to guarantee Bloomberg's and her own election to third terms. What deals or threats she may have made, how successful they were, and what's going to happen to her now.
Thinking about the issue farther, my view of the concept of term limits hasn't changed: I think it's a stupid thing voters saddle themselves with when an incumbent they don't like seems unbeatable. Better that the voters should give some attention to the election and to their votes, and convince their fellow voters to vote for someone else, rather than institute terms limits which helps no one, and only forces their successors to abide by those limits.
Nevertheless, as a law in New York City, Michael Bloomberg and Christine Quinn's efforts five years ago to overturn it by Council vote (rather than public referendum) solely for their own political benefit was wrong, and should have been punished. But Bloomberg has more money than a god, and was able to buy himself and Quinn re-election. Now that he's stepping down, Quinn's screwed, and I'm laughing at her.
|Friday, August 16th, 2013|
Last night’s Huey Lewis and the News concert was really good. Huey and the band sounded just like they did thirty years ago, when they released the album <i>Sports</i> -- which is pretty good, because this is the thirtieth anniversary tour for the album.
This is the first of the Seaside Summer Concerts (http://www.brooklynconcerts.com/seaside.html
) I’ve made it to in several years, so it’s the first time I saw a concert at the current location (a large parking lot between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk, between West 20 and West 21 Streets). And next week’s concert (Chicago, on Wednesday, August 21) is the last of the season. The location isn’t as inviting as the park they used to have the concerts in, and the security theater to get into the parking lot was annoying, but beyond the trappings (which aren’t why one attends a concert anyway), it was a pretty good night. The bring-your-own seats section is very far back from the stage, so that there’s ample room for the $5-for-a-little-uncomfortable-folding-ch
air section. And what I found odd about those $5-attendees was how the moment the band starting playing, they stood up, so we in the free seats had to stand to see them. I understand dancing at a concert, but these people weren’t: they were just standing there, for more than an hour. I don’t get it.
But the concert, the band, Huey: how were they? They were rocking!
They started with “The Heart of Rock and Roll,” then went right in to “Heart and Soul,” followed by “Bad is Bad,” and “I Want a New Drug.” After four songs, Huey talked, telling the crowd that that was the end of side one of the album they’d released thirty years ago, the “video” side, and that they were then moving onto side two, the more “rock” side. And they did, playing the rest of the album: “Walking on a Thin Line,” “Finally Found a Home,” “If This Is It,” “You Crack Me Up,” and “Honky Tonk Blues.”
“That’s it,” Huey then said. “Forty-two minutes. Now what? Well,” he continued, “those were songs we’ve been playing for thirty years. Now here’s a song we’ve been playing for thirty days.” And we got the brand new “While We’re Young,” which seemed just a touch slower, a touch blues-ier, but basically fits perfectly with the sound from <i>Sports</i>. After that we got the first song they’re written as a group: “Trouble In Paradise.” Then came “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “It’s Alright,” both from the album <i>Four Chords & Several Years Ago</i>, and they wrapped with “We’re Not Here for a Long Time” from <i>Plan B</i>.
Then they left the stage, and I was stunned by the number of people who walked out. Admittedly, the band was off the stage for a bit longer than the usual break before an encore, but they did eventually come back. Yet still people were leaving, all throughout the three-song encore (sometimes, I just don’t get people). The encore rocked, with “The Power of Love,” “Do You Believe in Love?” and “Working for a Livin’.”
There were maybe a few more songs I might have wanted to hear, but it was a great set, done very very well. Who cares if they’ve been going for almost thirty-five years? Huey Lewis and the News can still bring it!
|Monday, August 12th, 2013|
|Bad book store
A cautionary warning for publishers considering doing business with The Book Shop in Somerville, Massachusetts (694 Broadway; www.bookshopsomerville.com; email@example.com). I sent more than $250 worth of books to the store on credit, for a January signing at which nearly all the books sold. Despite my repeated requests for payment, and several promises that the check was in the mail, it has now been more than six months with no money forthcoming. I urge you to seek payment in advance for any books you may sell the store.
Details of our interactions are below, for those who are interested.
Ian Randal Strock, Publisher
On January 17, 2013, I sent 20 copies of an author’s brand-new novel, along with five copies of his earlier book, at a 30% discount off cover price, to Gil Barbosa at The Book Shop (694 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144; www.bookshopsomerville.com; firstname.lastname@example.org), for a reading/signing scheduled for January 27. On January 23, the bookstore reported on Facebook that the books had arrived. Late on the 27th, the author told me the event had gone well, that the small store was packed, and that at the end of the signing, there were only six of the new novel left, which Gil asked him to sign for later sales (the older book completely sold out).
On March 6, I emailed asking for payment. The next day, Thursday, he responded “Yes thanks for the reminder, im sending out the check for 262.32 on Monday.”
On April 7, I emailed to say I was still waiting for the check, and got no response.
On April 15, I again emailed, and he responded the same day “Hey Ian, sorry for the delay, ill get a check out to you in a few days for sure. Thanks for patience.”
I emailed on May 5 and May 20, with no response.
I emailed again on June 18, and on June 19, he emailed “Things have been very slow at my store i understand thats not your problem as you also have bills. The good news is i see the light at the end of the tunnel. I should be able to get you your payment or at least some of it by the end of the month.”
On July 31, I emailed, saying “On January 17th, I sent you e-mail... telling you I'd sent you 25 books for [author]'s signing in January, and asking for $262.32. [Author] told me the signing went well. It's been 194 days with only intermittent contact and no money forthcoming. At this point, I have to assume no money will be forthcoming, but I'm asking politely one last time. Obviously, this isn't large enough, financially, to make it worthwhile to pursue legal means of redress, so if I don't have money by next Tuesday (August 6th), the only option I'll have is public shaming. I'll have to tell the other publishers I know about my experience.”
|Sunday, August 11th, 2013|
I have the best authors in the world!
I sent out royalty statements and payments a couple of weeks ago (at the end of July). I got an email from one of my authors, saying "I am wondering if the royalty for the ebook of [title] is too much?" He calculated potential payment from number of sales and cover price and assumption of what we're taking in from the retailer, but neglected the varying cover price, foreign sales, and all sorts of other minutiae. Whatever, he continued "Just wanted you to know that it matters to me that you, my publisher, receive the proper amount in royalties on this book..."
Have you ever heard of an author asking if the publisher overpaid them?
I assured him that my calculations were correct. My business philosophy is that authors are not the enemy, and there's no reason to squeeze them just to scam out a few extra cents. Happier authors will write and sell more books, making money for us all: that's my goal.
There are some days that I love what I'm doing.
|Saturday, July 20th, 2013|
Forty-four years. Can you believe it? It was 44 years ago today that people from Earth first set foot (well, heavily booted, spacesuited foot) on the Moon. Think of the changes in those 44 years, remarkable changes. And then think about where people 44 years ago imagined we'd be today. I'm still disappointed by the attitude shift that took us from "We can send people to the Moon!" to "Why would we want to send people to the moon?". On the other hand, knowing that we were able to do that, with such "primitive" technology, is still a wonderful achievement (but somewhat depressing that the last person to visit left the Moon more than 40 years ago).
On the more personal level, I'm still a little grumpy at my parents for not waking me up to watch that Moon walking. I've been fortunate to meet three of the twelve men who left footprints up there, and still hoping to get my chance to follow them.
|Wednesday, July 10th, 2013|
|Back on the road
Off for the weekend to Burlington, Massachusetts, for Readercon
. As usual, I'll be at the Fantastic Books
table in the dealers' room for most of the weekend. And as usual for Arisia, I'll be on just a few program items. Specifically, a panel at 4pm on Friday called "Questioning the Ostensibly Reliable Narrator" with James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, Rick Wilber, and Sheila Williams; and then a kaffeeklatsch at 7pm on Friday (early sign up required). Hope to see some of you there!
|Monday, July 1st, 2013|
|Stupid Author Tricks
How not to attract my attention: send me a press release at SFScope, in which the entire subject line is: "And now it a quadrilogy!"
|Saturday, June 8th, 2013|
|I'm just a lonely ol' fan without my HBO access
So I’m in Haverhill for the weekend, staying in a house that doesn’t get HBO. Anyone nearby interested in having company for the Game of Thrones finale Sunday?
You’re right. That’s a terrible way to start a story. So rewind it, and tell it properly.
It’s been a weird couple of days. Wednesday I got word that I’d be getting a rush project in on Thursday morning. No problem; these come my way occasionally, and the quick extra cash is fine. So I said, “Sure, send it on.” Thursday morning arrived, and with it the project from hell. On the outside, it looked just like the previous projects from this source - not terribly onerous, just not terribly interesting. On the inside, however, this was, literally, three times as big. Well, I got it finished by a few minutes after 9 Friday morning, and shipped it back where it was supposed to go (ahead of their schedule, but well behind mine), and then I went to bed. So the Thursday night sleeping period ran from 11am to 3:30pm Friday. My day is always confused when the first news report I hear is the closing number on Wall Street. In this case, however, it was followed by the expected but still dreaded weather report: rain, and lots of it. Nothing for it but to get wet. I confirmed that, even though it was blowing a monsoon outside, I’d be coming up to Massachusetts, then I packed my stuff, ate my breakfast (at 4:30 in the afternoon), and hit the road. The GPS device announced “Severe traffic ahead. Recalculating,” five times in the first three miles, while I was still on Kings Highway. Just for amusement, at stop lights, I clicked through the new directions. The first update was expected, as was the second (which I’ve traveled on the main and first alternate routes so many times that I recognize individual trees), but then the unit starting getting pretty creative with the trip up here. I knew it was trying to avoid the areas of massive traffic delays, which were myriad, due to the storm. In the end, the only traffic I ran into was on the Whitestone Bridge (which was the first avoidance way back when, but which turned out to be a scant five-minute delay, followed by gale-force cross winds on the bridge itself). My final route, which seems terribly circuitous, one I would never have plotted, but which got me here with only the scantest of delays, was: Interboro Parkway to Van Wyck Expressway, over the Whitestone Bridge to the Hutchinson River Parkway north to exit 6, I-95 to exit 18 (Mamaroneck Avenue), streets to the Hutchinson River Parkway north (again), I-684 north (I always muse over the part of the road that’s in Connecticut, although there are no exits or entrances into Connecticut) to I-84 east into Connecticut, to I-691 east to I-91 north to I-84 east (again) into Massachusetts to the Mass Pike, I-290, I-495, and here. Looking at the route on a map, it seems remarkably direct. Driving it felt like the GPS device didn’t have a clue. Anyway, I arrived here safely, realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day but for the bowl of cereal for breakfast in the mid-afternoon, and thought myself ready to fall into bed. So I ate a little something, and it turned out I wasn’t ready for bed, although my sister reminded me that, beyond the family party Saturday and the small friends gathering Sunday afternoon (which I may attend and cut out of to visit the Adams National Historic Park and/or the Adamses burial site, since in all the time I’ve lived in and visited Massachusetts, I’ve never made it there, and the party is in Quincy), there’s also the friends party Saturday night about which I’d forgotten. So there was time for this missive, and there probably won’t be much time for more throughout the weekend, and now I really am ready to sleep, especially since the kids here at chez my-sister-and-brother-in-law awaken very early in the morning. But it turns out that Sunday night is unplanned for me, and like many of you, I’ve gotten hooked on Game of Thrones the tv series on HBO, but Laurie and Joel don’t have HBO, so, back to my opening question: is there anyone nearby who has HBO, watches Game of Thrones, and wants a little company Sunday evening for the season finale?
Ah, stream of consciousness. So much better than the sixteen hours of dreck I was typing for pay.
|Wednesday, June 5th, 2013|
|On elections, and the surveying therefor
I just answered the phone for a telephone survey: one of the very few cold calls I don't instantly hang up on, because it was a political survey (and not one of those "push" surveys). This legitimate opinion poll was asking questions about the upcoming (well, not THAT fast) New York City election for mayor.
And while I like participating in these political polls -- in part because of my interests, and in part because I'm an informed voter -- I fear that my answers won't appear in the poll, or at best, they'll show up as "unresponsive." That's the problem with polls like this: answers have to fit in specific boxes or categories, so that they can be tallied, compared, and extrapolated. But most of my answers just don't fit in those boxes.
In response to the question asking my opinion of the job Mayor Bloomberg has been doing, I had to say "I thought he was good for the first two terms. I think that during this third term, he has turned into the nanny-in-chief, which is not what I elect a major for."
There was a group of questions that started "As you know, Mayor Bloomberg is term-limited against running again--" At which point I cut him off to say "Actually, he was term-limited against running for the current term. Yet here he is."
He asked my opinion of several others angling for the job, and most of my opinions weren't strong enough to register on his radars. Actually, except for the one I'd never heard of, and the one I'd only first heard of last night in a television commercial (not a very good commercial), all of my opinions were equivocal but for one: he asked my opinion of Anthony Weiner. I could only give a negative opinion: the last time he held public office, he refused to take responsibility for his actions until the weight of evidence was overwhelming, and then he grudgingly admitted that he had done what he did. I don't have time for politicians who won't own up to their own actions.
He asked me my opinion of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. I think she's done an acceptable job, but she supported Bloomberg's avoidance of term limits, and herself ran for a term she was term-limited against having. Of course, there was no space to tell him I completely oppose the concept of term limits, but since my fellow New Yorkers have twice voted for them, they are the law of the City.
He asked me my opinion of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (neutral), and then told me that violent crime has decreased 40% in the twelve years Kelly has been Commissioner; did that change my opinion. "No," I replied. "I knew that statistic, and we can't pin the blame (or credit) for all of that on the Police Commissioner."
Then it was the hypothetical match-ups. "If the election were held today between..." I couldn't answer any of them, because I haven't made up my mind yet. That's why election day is in November. If election day were today, I would have done more research before today. Actually, there was only one of those hypothetical match-ups I could answer: I said I couldn't vote for Anthony Weiner. That didn't mean I'd want to vote for the hypothetical opponent he'd given me (after all, there are more than two choices on my ballot), but I might write in my own name.
He asked if I expect to vote in the upcoming Democratic or Republican primary election. "I oppose all tax-payer funded primary elections," I said. Let's see what box that answer fits in.
Finally he asked if I'm a registered Republican voter, Democratic voter, or Independent voter. "No. I'm a registered voter, but I'm not a member of any political party." That'll probably be a bonus for the Independence Party.
Oh well, I feel virtuous, even though my opinions won't show up in the final results or influence anyone else's opinion.
|Wednesday, May 29th, 2013|
[flailing Kermit arms of glee] I can't believe it's been so long since the last one of these, but I guess running a publishing company and a news site and editing books for freelance clients tend to get in the way of producing sale-able fiction. Anyway, just before heading out for the movie screening today, I did one last quick check of my e-mail and discovered... a contract from Analog! My first sale to the magazine under new(ish) editor Trevor Quachri will mark my first story in the magazine since (gasp!) November 2007. That means three decades of publishing in Analog (first appearance was September 1992), and once again, I am a professional fiction writer (as opposed to a former writer). It's a long one (for me): 2,100 words, and it's title is "It's not 'the lady or the tiger?', it's 'which tiger?'"