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Archive for September, 2008

The Living Dead

bookrev: The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams

What could be more enjoyable than a Zombie story anthology? How about enjoying one The Living Deadduring and after Hurricane Ike, with no power and candlelight?? How about one that includes three of my all-time fav authors (Dan Simmons, George R. R. Martin and Stephen King)? How about one nearly 500 pages long (at least the ARC is)? How about one edited by John Joseph Adams, who also brought us the anthologies Seeds of Change and Wastelands (which, yes, I need to finish).

Many of these stories have been previously published, but almost all were new to me. One obvious component: sex angles and zombies seem to mix. Not all include that perspective, but this is certainly not PG-13.

My favorites from this LARGE collection were Ghost Dance by Sherman Alexie, The Third Dead Body by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Malthusian’s Zombie by Jeffrey Ford, Home Delivery by Stephen King, Deadman’s Road by Joe R. Lansdale, The Song the Zombie Sang by Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg. Thoughts on each after the break. (more…)

frankenstein lives!

Hurricane IKE makes experts of us all

We are going on day ten of no power here in lovely Tomball Texas. Luckily the weather has mostly cooperated, the generator is working, and the water well is hooked up; and of course, Texans being the self-reliant folks that we are, are helping out our neighbors in any way that we can. The major concerns are mosquitoes (lots of them, some the size of my dog) and no trash pickup.

I’ve noticed that many experts have bloomed in the aftermath of the hurricane: experts on generators, the timing of the repair of the electrical network, the weather (we always have experts on the weather), beard growth (reference picture of my son and mine 8 days growths after the jump), grilling all the stuff you’ve had to salvage out of the fridge and freezer, and experts on scrounging needed materials. It is definitely creating experts in survival…in our “normal lives”, we don’t have to take action every day to ensure we have the basics of food, shelter, DSL, coffee and cold beer…but without the grid, we have to work at it everyday. (more…)

Baltimore Book Festival

Baltimore Book Festival courtesy of Brad/AuthorsBookShop

My book is sold through many avenues, and one of the most promising and intriguing is Baltimore Book FestivalAuthor’s BookShop, an effort by Brad Grochowski to feature and promote independent authors. Brad works diligently on behalf of independent authors, promoting indie publishing in any forum that he can.

Brad will have Author’s Bookshop and my novel, Dusk Before the Dawn, at the Baltimore Book Festival, September 26 – 28. If you are in or near Baltimore, drop in and say hello to Brad.

Me and Robert Flynn

Booksigning: me and Bob Flynn at Trinity U October 11

With all of the IKE enjoyment and challenges, I’d almost forgotten to post a notice that myMe and Robert Flynn friend and teacher Robert Flynn and I (and several others) will be signing our books at Trinity University in San Antonio on October 11 at 11am.

This will be my 3rd time at the Faculty and Alumni book signing, and my 2nd time sharing a table with Bob, who has written many excellent novels and short stories.

This is also my 25th reunion year, and, if we survive the post-signing beerfest at the Bombay Bicycle Club, we may actually attend the dinner!

Let me know if you can join us.

An IKE cup of coffee

I definitely enjoy a morning cup of joe, but still without power going into the 5th day after Hurricane Ike, I think I may have taken more steps than normal.
- I filled the coffee maker with water from one of the three bathtubs we filled up on Friday night;
- I washed yesterdays coffee grounds off the filter with last night dish washing water (hey it was clean);
- One of our many splendid neighbors gave us some excellent ground coffee so I did not have to search for our grinder in my pre-caffeinated stupor;
- Ready at last for the moment of truth, I pushed the coffee maker power switch and nothing happened;
- it was then that I realized that the sound of silence was my generator not running! I had miscalculated how much gas it needed overnight;
- I stumbled outside, poured in 5 gallons of bartered gasoline, unplugged my spaghetti power cords, jerked the pull cord and started that puppy up;
- Replugged, went to the end of the driveway and retrieved my newspaper for a sense of normalcy;
- Then I plugged in the coffee maker and listened to it perk.

Damn good cup of coffee, if I do say so myself!

Ike 1, Tomballians 1

Sitting here in the dark, reading by candlelight (and typing on my blackberry) and drinking some white wine (we have to, of course, because the power is out)…

…With my family.
…In my house.

So all in all, we’ll call it a tie.

Ike took out about 100 feet of fence in my backyard, one tree amd three leaky windows. Power has been out since 2:30am and may be out for quite a while.

But we are safe, and making the best, laughing, reading, telling jokes. My wife has a high ranking in gin online, but I kicked her butt with real cards.

Could have been a lot worse.

Hurricane Storm Damage

Dem hurricanes is humblin’

Insert your fav weatherman joke here…man cannot accurately predict the weather or the future. We are about to create black holes, and maybe Higgs bosons at the LHC in CERN, Switzerland…but we cannot tell with Hurricane Storm Damageanything approaching accuracy what path a hurricane will take. It’s quite humbling for us homo sapiens.

In Thursday morning’s Houston Chronicle:

Ike’s forecast 60 hours before landfall called for a Palacios landfall. Rita’s forecast three days before landfall called for a Palacios landfall, and it struck the Texas-Louisiana border 190 miles away.

During the Rita evacuation, I was driving down I-10 to Austin via hwy 71 on my way to a meeting…took almost four hours for what is normally a two and a half hour trip, as the gulf coast was evacuating (along formal evacuation routes and informal). When my meetings were over, I headed back to lovely Tomball…I was the only car going SE, and there was a traffic jam from Houston to Giddings. I got home, tied everything down, move possible projectiles, and waited….

Nothing happened. At least not in Tomball in NW Harris County. Hurricane Rita went east, so we were on the ‘clean’ side of it.

So here we go again: gas stations out of gas (even the neighborhood ones here in good ole Tomball), newscasters on 24/7 about Ike (a decent replacement for round the clock McCain/Obama, but I turned both types off after a few minutes of repetition), evacuations and dire predictions. Like before, everything that could be a serious projectile (except them damn acorns) has been put up or tied down.

I like the fact that we collectively do not know where this thing is going, just like we don’t know if a black hole or Higgs Boson will appear at the LHC. There are ‘too many variables’ (you anti-mathies remember variables? I love variables, best thing ever for a Math Major) to accurately predict many outcomes.

It’s a good humbling thing for the human race to not know or be able to predict everything.

SF Signal Mind Meld

Along with the beautiful people (Mary Robinette Kowal, Charles Stross, Lou Anders), SF Signal has posted my response to their question on reading stories counter to one’s own position:

Q: As a reader, can you enjoy a story that is pushing an opposed viewpoint from one that you hold (religion/politics)? If the author is prone to holding, and writing about, views opposed to yours, can you enjoy their works or do you stop reading them?

My response is last on this list. Thanks for any comments.

FCC deregulation ensures that we all really can’t get along

My son comes home from his high school government class (AP, his father adds with pride) talking about how the VP candidates were both picked and sent out as “bulldogs” or attack dogs, given order to attack the other candidates. I told him to blame it on the FCC.

In the 1980′s, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deregulated television. Before this deregulation, news was news, it was local, stations had to maintain their reputation in the community to maintain their licensing. After deregulation, local, national and cable news all had to make money…the businessmen were running those stations as well.

This, class, is how we got the sensationalism that replaced news.

Now, in an election that should actually be exciting, enjoyable and revolving around the issues and the contrasts, we have both parties on the attack. I am actually old enough that I can remember when it was considered bad manners to insult someone, especially if that someone happened to be the President. But after deregulation, manners went downhill. Republicans attack Clinton for lack of morals and Lewinsky, and the news eats it up. Democrats attack Bush for getting rid of a dictator that should frankly have been assassinated long ago, and the news puts it front page. (more…)

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

bookrev: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn is the fourth and supposedly concluding book in the Twilight series bBreaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyery Stephanie Meyer. The book still provides the same mix of teenage lust and supernatural suspense, but this time sex, marriage, blood and gore are added into the mix. Though there are some twists, the fact that there is a fairy tale ending is somewhat predictable. But the back story of the supernatural world grows large and interesting, in spite of some convenient plot twists.

I’ve read through all four of the books in this series in short order, in a little over two weeks (and managed to read the very funny Boomsday and several short stories in a forthcoming John Joseph Adams edited anthology). And though I did skim in places where the teenage angst and lust was obviously aimed at readers 30 years younger and female, I enjoyed the different and non-sex-drenched take (until this novel) on the vampire-werewolf (shapshifter) myths.

I’ll be guest reviewing her adult novel, The Host, for my friends at SFSignal soon.

But I was somewhat disappointed in the Disney-esque ending…though with a novel and series clearly aimed at teenage girls, that was to be expected. (more…)

Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo

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