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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in ianrandalstrock's LiveJournal:

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    Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
    7:18 pm
    Hoverboards ho!
    Looks like someone really has taken up the challenge of inventing the hoverboard (which was recently discussed on "The Big Bang Theory"). Hendo Hover promises to deliver the first ten on October 21, 2015 (the day Marty McFly arrives in the future). Surprisingly, they've already sold five of those ten on their Kickstarter campaign. Anyway, it's neat: Hendo Hover.
    6:17 pm
    It's not just monopolies that are bad, but monopsonies, too
    Uh, yep. Paul Krugman is saying something a lot of people won't like, but something many people ought to pay attention to. Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K..
    6:16 pm
    The Freelancer's Lament
    All right, freelancers, I assume I'm not the only one in this situation, but...

    What do you do after (metaphorically) sitting on your hands for a month or two, and then one of your big clients contacts you with a job for a certain week. The next day, the other big client asks for that same week. And two days later, client number three requests you to do an on-site project for two days that very same week?

    Other than bitching about it on a blog, that is. Grump grump grump.
    Sunday, August 24th, 2014
    10:49 pm
    George Washington's Rules of Civility
    Before he was President of the United States, before he was a military tactician leading his nation to independence, before he was a surveyor or an officer in the French and Indian War, George Washington was a school boy, just like millions of his fellows then and now. And as a school boy, one of his assigned tasks was hand copying a list of 110 "Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation." Based on a 16th-century set of precepts compiled for young gentlemen by Jesuit instructors, the Rules of Civility were one of the earliest and most powerful forces to shape America's first president.

    Most of the Rules are concerned with details of etiquette, offering pointers on such issues as how to dress, walk, eat in public, and address one's superiors. But these maxims are much more than "mere" etiquette; they address moral issues, but indirectly. They seek to form the inner man (or boy) by shaping the outer.

    Gray Rabbit Publications is proud to present a modern printing of the Rules. This volume, which Moncure D. Conway compiled a century and a half after Washington wrote them, are taken from his original papers. Conway's research resulted in a collection that includes not only 110 maxims, but their histories and origins as well. His detailed introduction also offers a view into how these Rules made their way into young Washington's life. He also explains the import of this volume, writing "I am no worshipper of Washington. But in the hand of that man of strong brain and powerful passions once lay the destiny of the New World, in a sense, human destiny. But for his possession of the humility and self-discipline underlying his Rules of Civility, the ambitious politicians of the United States might to-day be popularly held to a much lower standard."

    More than a century ago, Conway also expressed the desire that "the time is not far distant when in every school right rules of civility will be taught as a main part of the curriculum." We can still hope.

    For more information, see this page.

    Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
    1:08 pm
    Speeches of Benjamin Harrison
    In honor of Benjamin Harrison's 181st birthday today, Gray Rabbit Publications has published the Speeches of Benjamin Harrison in a newly typeset modern edition with brand-new maps detailing Harrison's journeys. The book is available in both hardcover and trade paperback.

    Compiled by Charles Hedges in 1892, this book is a complete collection of Harrison's addresses from February 1888 to February 1892, in chronological order, including all his campaign speeches, several important letters, and the numerous speeches delivered during his tours. It also includes extracts from his messages to Congress.

    Unknowingly contrasting his subject with the politicians of today, Hedges writes in his introduction: "it is not the purpose of this book to present a few selections of oratory, laboriously prepared and polished, or occasional flashes of brilliant thought. From such efforts, prepared, perhaps, after days of study and repeated revision, one can form but an imperfect idea of their author. Such a compilation might show the highest conceptions of the man, and evidence a wide range of thought and a surpassing grandeur of expression; but it would be but a poor mirror of the man himself in his daily life." Instead, he wrote, the people deserve "to observe the character of their public servants, to come into closest touch with their daily thoughts, and to know them as they are—not when prepared for special occasions, but day after day and all the time." The vast majority of the speeches presented here "were delivered during the presidential campaign of 1888, often four or five in a day, to visiting delegations of citizens, representing every occupation and interest, and during his tours of 1890 and 1891, when he often spoke eight or ten times a day from the platform of his [train] car."

    For more information, see this page.

    Friday, July 25th, 2014
    6:04 pm
    Rave review for Tom Purdom's "Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons"
    Paul Di Filippo, writing in Asimov's Science Fiction, really likes Tom Purdom's collection Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons. Talking about F. Scott Fitzgerald's opinion that "there are no second acts in American life," Di Filippo finds the exception to the rule, writing "...there are indeed some rare second acts in the lives of American creators and businesspeople and scientists and politicians and altruists. And we have a brilliant example right here in our genre, in the career of Tom Purdom.... In effect, Purdom hauled himself back on stage, in a world and field that had changed immeasurably -- a field that had essentially, save for old-timers, forgotten him -- and proved himself utterly cutting-edge and au courant."

    He also writes "An affectionate and insightful introduction by Michael Swanwick… kicks off the volume. Then comes 'Fossil Games,' a story that illustrates right away all the powers of Purdom's comeback writing. He combines the best of his old-school training with the best of twenty-first-century attitudes and techniques. It's as if Samuel Delany had been one of John Campbell's stable, or John Kessel had been groomed by H.L. Gold, or Maureen McHugh had been tutored by Anthony Boucher."

    Read the full review on this page.
    Thursday, July 24th, 2014
    1:12 pm
    Time Out's top 100 sf movies
    London’s Time Out has polled a whole slew of “experts” to find the 100 top sf movies. For some reason, they included me in their list of experts.

    The results of that survey are now available here: (warning: it’s strewn over a whole host of pages, begging for multiple clicks).

    My responses are on this page:

    Also, check out Dan Kimmel’s responses on this page:
    Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
    12:05 am
    And again, briefly home
    I'm back from Readercon. Had a better time than I expected, probably due to the people I was there with. Thanks, all, for making it a really good, nearly sleep-free weekend (see the recently posted photos).

    Now I'm only briefly back in New York, because I'm leaving early Wednesday for Detcon1 in Detroit. There, I'll be in the dealers' room at the Fantastic Books table (Thursday 4-8pm, Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, and Sunday 10am-3pm). I'll also be on three panels:

    Friday at 1pm in Mackinac West, "ROI: Do We Still Go to Space if It Won't Pay?" with Cindy A. Matthews, Laurie Gailunas, Raymund Eich, and Sean Melissa Mead

    Friday at 10pm in Nicolet A, "Iron Author Detroit--Late Night Edition" with Richard Flores IV, Anne Harris, Balogun Ojetade, and Carrie Patel

    Saturday at 12n in Ambassador Salon 1, "Where's my D@m! Flying Car?" with Jonathan Stars, Douglas Johnson, Cindy A. Matthews, Bill Higgins, Dr. Charles Dezelah, and Dr. Nicolle Zellner

    Hope to see some of you there after the long car trip!
    Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
    3:20 pm
    12:19 am
    Last weekend in Boston, this weekend at Readercon, next in Detroit
    In the midst of a really busy month, I'm getting ready to head back to Massachusetts for Readercon this weekend.

    As usual, I'll be spending most of my time in the dealers' room at the Fantastic Books table. The dealers' room will be open 3-7pm Friday, 10am-6pm Saturday, and 10am-2pm Sunday. Come visit!

    In addition, I'll be on three program items:

    Friday 12 noon, Salon G: "Being an Editor Who Writes," with Scott Edelman, Michael Kandel, Sandra Kasturi, Barbara Krasnoff, and Warren Lapine.

    Friday 1pm, CR: "The Science of Space Colony Living," with Lisa "LJ" Cohen, Glenn Grant, Geoff Hart, B Diane Martin, and Allen Steele.

    Sunday 11am, Salon G: "Publishing and Marketing," with Neil Clarke, Liz Gorinsky, Kameron Hurley, and Tom Purdom.

    Hope to see some of you there!
    Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
    11:03 pm
    Press Release: “Geek of the Week” Tom Purdom’s collection now available electronically
    Press Release:

    “Geek of the Week” Tom Purdom’s collection now available electronically

    Author Tom Purdom has just been named’s Geek of the Week, and in honor of this distinction, Fantastic Books is releasing the ebook version of his collection Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons, which we published in trade paperback in February. The newly released ebook is (or will soon be) available in a wide variety of formats from all major ebook retailers, including, Amazon, Smashwords, Apple’s iBook store, and many more.

    The 130,000-word volume—which Kirkus Reviews named a Best Bet for Speculative Fiction Books in February—is Purdom’s first collection, capping (though by no means completing) a writing career that’s been running more than half a century.

    The stories in Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons cover century-spanning life spans, biohacking, personality modification technology, and more. Purdom likes to quote Frederik Pohl’s prescription for a good science fiction story: “interesting people doing interesting things in an interesting future.” He began his writing career over 50 years ago, selling stories and novels to legendary editors like Pohl, John W. Campbell, H.L. Gold, and Donald Wollheim. And for the last twenty years, he’s been roving space and time with an acclaimed string of stories in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, which included his first Hugo Award nominee.

    In announcing Purdom’s selection as Geek of the Week, Chris Urie writes that the book “is a stunning array of stories that surprised me at their breadth of concepts and topics. They could explore interpersonal and philosophical ideas of a community living on an interstellar asteroid or debate the reasons of war. All of these ideas come wrapped up in a cocoon of thoughtful sci-fi concepts and stellar writing. At their core, they’re idea driven stories that not only entertain but expand your thinking into new territories, which is what the best science fiction always does.”

    In his introduction to the book, Michael Swanwick wrote “It is a cascade of brilliant ideas worthy of Greg Egan or Stephen Baxter at their best. On my first reading, I could all but hear the plates of my skull creaking as my brain swelled with the effort of following his characters’ thinking. Yet the writing is smooth and the narrative flows naturally from beginning to end. It is a genuine tour de force and a terrific introduction to the pleasures of Purdom’s fiction.”

    Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons by Tom Purdom (introduction by Michael Swanwick)
    Print: $15.99, 356 pages, trade paperback, 978-1-61720-943-7.
    Ebook: $7.99, 130,000 words.
    1:01 pm
    Geeky good
    Fantastic Books author Tom Purdom is Geekadelphia's Geek of the Week!
    Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
    5:11 pm
    Where do you live again?
    This is a new one from the post office. Two weeks ago, I got a notice that they had a package waiting for me (usually, they just leave them by the door). I went to the post office, and waited while the clerk disappeared for fifteen minutes. She came back to say she couldn't find the package. "Leave a phone number, and we'll call you when we find it," she said. "I've already wasted the time to get here, fifteen minutes waiting in that line, another fifteen minutes while you went hunting in the back, and the trip back home when I leave. If you manage to find the package, try delivering it." I never expected to hear from them (about this one) again. Last night, I found another delivery notice from the post office: "this is your final notice. We're returning it to the sender tomorrow." Except, of course, no one was around by the time I got home last night. I called today, and after ten minutes of arguing with the automated phone system, I managed to get a live person on the line, who was stunningly on the ball and helpful. Apparently, the package was filed by the sender's address, rather than mine (of course, the street of the sender's address isn't duplicated in this ZIP code, so I have no idea where they had it stashed). And now, if I'm very lucky, they'll redeliver it tomorrow. If I'm less lucky, it'll be heading back to the sender, because it spent the last two weeks mis-filed in my post office. Grr.
    Sunday, June 15th, 2014
    11:55 pm
    Where'd that last fortnight go?
    I just finished the freelance job that ate my life. Actually, it was two jobs that came in the same day. Fortunately, the second one to arrive is happy enough with my work that they were willing to wait. It was transcribing and editing work (not something I recommend), and just for curiosity, I ran the statistics on this two-week (well, twelve-day) job: I listened to and transcribed more than 29 hours of tape. The finished products (after transcribing it all and then editing it down) came to a grand total of 169,071 words. In fictioneers' terms: I typed two novels in the last two weeks, and have nothing to show for it (well, other than the checks that'll be coming soon). THAT'S why I don't get more fiction written. Also, if you were waiting to hear from me about something other than those jobs, I'll be getting caught up real soon now.
    Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
    12:55 pm
    Hidden awards?
    I learned about the O. Henry Prize the first week of May… days after the deadline for submitting (say) the April issue of Analog, in which I had a story that I think would have been in the running for the prize.

    Now I’ve just learned about the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, for which the entry year runs July 1 to June 30, and the deadline for entry is March 30. Of course, Fantastic Books published a couple of eligible volumes, but we missed the deadline.

    Now, of course, both of these awards are on my radar for future possibly eligible entries, but I’m kind of grumpy that I missed these two, both for myself and my authors. Anyone know of any other such awards I ought to be paying attention to?
    Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
    2:46 pm
    Interesting article on televisional presidents
    Interesting article on the Presidents of the TV, with some quotes from me: TV's presidential portrayals go from salute to 'Hail to the Creep' by Randee Dawn.
    12:36 am
    Commentary on Amazon
    The way I've been thinking of the latest Amazon kerfluffle. Amazon may offer another book as competitive, but unlike a kitchen appliance, they aren't, really. Goodbye, Amazon: We’re through! by Laura Miller.
    Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
    1:17 am
    Steampunk World's Fair this weekend
    Just found out I've got a table in the dealers' room at the Steampunk World's Fair, THIS weekend in Piscataway, New Jersey. Anyone planning to go and looking for a roommate? I don't have a reservation yet, and I gather the convention hotels have long been sold out, but if someone's got half a room to let, let me know. Otherwise, I'll have to find something off-campus tomorrow, if anyone wants to split that.
    Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
    2:21 am
    Keyboard alienation
    I’m typing a poetry manuscript, the English feels a little bit odd because I have to put in line breaks/returns before the ends of the sentences, or even of the thoughts. It’s a bit like typing on a typewriter way back when, only more frequent.

    But the manuscript is multilingual, and typing the German poems feels very strange, because I don’t speak German. I’m comfortable with the keyboard, but it feels like I’m using it improperly. Just the differences in languages, right?

    Except, then I get to a poem in French, which is a language I do speak. But still, the keyboard doesn’t feel quite right. It’s easier to type it, because I can go a whole line at a time, rather than one word at a time with the German (where I type letter for letter, rather than word for word), but still, there’s something not quite right. Now I’m wondering if it’s the distribution of letters in the varying languages, the different commonalities of digraphs (like the far-more-common-in-French “ai”, “eu”, and “ou”).

    Anyway, try it some time, and see just how alien your oh-so-familiar keyboard can feel.
    Thursday, March 13th, 2014
    3:50 pm
    Lunacon this weekend
    It's another convention weekend. This time, it's close to home, as I'm off to Westchester for Lunacon.

    I don't have my own dealers' table (talk to me privately if you want to know why), but I'll be hanging out at the Larry Smith Bookseller table with some of my Fantastic Books books.

    The program is now posted, so my programming schedule looks like:

    Friday, 5:30pm, Westchester Ballroom A1: "The Biggest Writing Mistakes New Authors Make" with Michael A. Ventrella (moderator), Ken Altabef, Ryk Spoor, and April Grey.

    Friday, 7pm, Westchester Ballroom B: "Rumble at Lunacon" with A.L. Davroe Keith R.A. DeCandido, Glenn Hauman, KT Pinto, and Dr. James Prego.

    Saturday, 2pm, Westchester Ballroom A1: "The Changing Publishing Paradigm" with Tom Doherty, Sheila Williams, John R. Douglas, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and Neil Clarke.

    Saturday, 5pm, Maple: "Galactic Domination???" with Mary Catelli, Kate Paulk, and Darrell Schweitzer.

    Sunday, 12pm, Westchester Ballroom A1: "Economics in Fantasy Land" with William Freedman, Gregory Feeley, Todd Dashoff, and Kate Paulk.

    Hope to see some of you there!
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