Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Updates

The layout files for the new Transpecial edition are done. I'm just waiting on getting cover art set up now.

Remember that the old version will be available through Musa's web site for a dollar until some time tomorrow.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Helping Bees

Yeah. I have a bit of a thing for bees. I rather like having them around...and pollinating fruit for me.

Ironically, the best environment for bees is...cities. We don't spray as many pesticides and herbicides where most of us actually live. And urban beekeeping is on the rise.

Copenhagen Airport has also been "on the rise," planning a major expansion. Then they discovered a pond on the property they'd just purchased was home to an endangered species of toad. Oops. They left clear space around the pond - which is now overgrown and full of flowers. Somebody had the bright idea of renting space to some of Copenhagen's beekeepers.

Now airports all around the world are starting to get in on this. Airports waste a lot of space. Space you can't build on because it's too close to the runway. Why not bees? (Some airports are also providing grazing space to horse and large animal rescues).

And in another amazing development, Cedar and Stuart Anderson have invented a new way to harvest what the bees make.

The Flow frame is designed to encourage the bees to put their honey in an already partially formed comb (and if you were a bee, wouldn't you do that), from which the honey can be...tapped like a beer keg. No need to open the hive, no need to use smoke to calm the bees, no need to suit up. It's less stress on the bees - and much easier for hobby apiarists.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In Proof...

...that humans will race anything, the first extraplanetary auto race will take place in late 2016, if all goes well.

Two teams - one American and the other Japanese - will race remote-controlled rovers on the moon. The purse, put up by Google, is $20 million. The point, of course, is to encourage the development of better robotics...and potential transportation designs for men and women who might one day live on, or more likely "in," the moon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Announcements, Good And Bad

I know it's not Friday, but I had to get this out there.

I was informed on Friday (but was unable to find a public announcement) that Musa Publishing will be closing its doors on the 28th.

This is not the venue, of course, to discuss the private business matters of the company.

The current edition of Transpecial will become unavailable. Due to the very short notice I had, I won't be able to release the second edition immediately - but I promise the book will be made available again as soon as is reasonably possible. For legal reasons, I need to redo the layout and obtain new cover art. I am also making some (very minor) editorial changes.

If you want to purchase the current edition, it's currently on sale for just a dollar from the Musa site - this is likely the lowest price at which this book will be available for a while, so feel free to take advantage.


The other announcement is that the SNAFU anthology "Wolves At The Door," containing my story Jester, is now available to werewolf lovers everywhere. It's received some very good reviews so far.

Wolves At The Door.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: Professor Odd - The False Student by Goldeen Ogawa

I'm going to be blunt - I'm pretty sure Goldeen Ogawa is a Doctor Who fan, who falls in that subset of Doctor Who fans who would like to see him turn into a woman, at least for a regeneration or two.

That's not a criticism - but this novella (the first of several) will probably appeal primarily to people who like Doctor Who's peculiar brand of weird. Professor Odd with her companion (an intelligent dog-like creature) hooks up with Alister Bane at college...which ends up with some bad things (and good ones) happening to poor Alister.

It's a fun, quick read, but is definitely on the, well, yes, the "Odd" side. I found it quite entertaining, although it probably doesn't need too much thought on the science side. Then again, neither does Doctor Who.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Updates

Another of those weeks when I can't really announce anything. (I can assure people March Making Fate is done and posted, though).

I'm working on a really cool RPG project that will be announced soon. (But I can say it combines some of my greatest interests).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

I'll start with a warning - this is a quite twisted book. The front page blurb calls it twisted, freaky and delicious.

And it's all of those things. Teenaged Eve is in witness protection. She has amnesia, and dimly remembers cosmetic surgery to change her appearance. Her protectors, though, appear more concerned with making sure she remembers what they need to arrest a serial killer than her health or safety.

Oh, and she can work magic. Considerable magic. Every time she does, though, she passes out and remembers something. Sometimes she loses several days after each "vision."

There's a bit of a romantic triangle, which appears to be obligatory in YA these days, but it's pushed off to the side slightly. The primary theme weaves Eve's romance with Zach, whom she meets at a library - I think it's the geekiest teen romance in a while - with the mystery of her "case."

Durst builds a high magic multiverse with gateways between worlds, and what may or may not be our world being used as a safe haven by Para-WitSec, because it's the only known world without magic (which doesn't stop people from other worlds using magic there, so may not be as effective as they think). And she weaves in fascinating characters. I couldn't put this one down.

So, back to that warning. I don't want to give things away, but I think it's important to give fair warning - one of the themes of Conjured is child abuse. That's all I'm willing to say right now, but if you're uncomfortable with issues related to it, you might want to be careful with this book.

For the rest of us - I couldn't recommend Conjured more highly.

(Copy acquired at World Fantasy Con).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

RavenCon Schedule

Here's my schedule for RavenCon - which will take place April 24-26 in Richmond, VA.


5pm (Panel) When I was 10 years old, Yoda was a puppet! Fri. 5 pm
9 pm (Panel) Doctor Who Through the Females Eyes
11 pm (Panel) Minority Report: Diversity in Comics & Media


9 am (Panel) Twelve’s Debut: A look at Peter Capaldi’s first season as the Doctor
11 am (Panel) Troll Hunting 101
1 pm (Reading) Boardroom
2 pm (Panel) Why does SF matter?
4 pm (Presentation/Workshop) Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
11 pm (Panel) Representations of Gender in Graphic Literature


10 am (Panel) Buffy: Looking Back
Noon (Soapbox) Things Fantasy Writers And Movie Directors Get Wrong About Horses
2 pm (Panel) Stupid Superhero Powers

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Farpoint Roundup

Farpoint's a little different from the other cons I've been going to - it's a small media con rather than a literary con, but one that's trying to expand it's book-related programming.


A high quality science track, especially for such a small con.
Prometheus Radio Theater - hilarious, and thank you Tim Russ for being a good sport and joining in for "The Maltese Vulcan."
The Favorite Heroines panel was very well attended. (I also thank the people who turned out at 10am after many people were up until after 3 for Fantastic Voyage).
Peter David singing some rather inappropriate karaoke. Yes, I am immortalizing that. Just be glad I didn't have a video camera.


The hotel is about to be renovated - and it needs it. I haven't had so many hotel issues at any other con, including a barkeep who tried to tell me the difference between Angry Orchard Classic and Redd's Apple Ale was "the label."

Hopefully, things will be better on front next year.

I am not going to weigh in on the controversy that caused the apology to be posted on the Farpoint website, except to say that I believe the con will move on from this and fix their problems. I have faith in them.

Monday, February 16, 2015

I'm Back!

...and still rather tired, but that's the way things are. Cons get crazy.

So, I'll do a proper post tomorrow. At least I got back before it started snowing.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Well, I'm Off!

I'm leaving for Farpoint Con in a couple of hours, and won't be back online (except for snatches) until Monday.

Should be a weekend of absolute awesome.

Also, I just received my formal invitation to return to Balticon for 2015. Which I know will be a weekend of awesome.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Colony Collapse...Syndrome?

Bee problems. They've been in the news a lot - and with good reason. Pollinating many of our major food crops without bees would be difficult to impossible.

Colony Collapse Disorder is the culprit, and all kinds of causes have been pointed to. Diet? Pesticides?

Researchers in Australia have, however, discovered what really happens when a hive "collapses." The hive resorts to child labor.

Worker bees take 14 days to fully mature. When a colony collapses, workers start going out before the critical 14 day point.

That means they don't fly as far, collect less food, and are more likely to be caught by predators. It also means they aren't doing the normal childhood chores of cleaning the hive and caring for eggs and larvae. As the young workers die, even younger bees go out, until don't have a colony.

So, why does a hive engage in self destructive behavior?


Any kind of stress. There is no one cause of CCD. Some hives may collapse because of pesticides. Or fungal infections. Or lack of nutrition. Or weather.

In other words, we aren't dealing with a "disorder" or a "disease." We're dealing with a "syndrome" - a set of symptoms that can come from multiple causes.

And it's happened before. In 1903 in Utah, 2000 hives collapsed, apparently after a hard winter.

What can we do?

Beekeepers may be able to monitor a hive's health by tracking when young bees start to forage. (Yes, we have radio trackers we can put on bees now).

And, of course, we can all do stuff that helps bees, such as planting flowers they like in our gardens and not using insecticides unless we have to.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Oh, where do I start? Urban fantasy is often seen as sort of synonymous with contemporary fantasy - but it doesn't have to be.

Three Parts Dead combines urban fantasy with some elements of steampunk (it doesn't really have the costumes) with legal thriller with mystery. Tara just got thrown out of magic school (literally) for trying to expose an unethical professor. Now she's been hired as a probationary associate by a law firm.

In a world where magic is used in all the ways we use technology and then some. Arguing a court case can be quite dangerous! Especially when you're investigating the death of a God.

Oh, yes, and it also involves gargoyles, necromancy and politics.

Three Parts Dead reminds me a little bit of The Iron Dragon's Daughter (although I prefer the latter). It's a fun read.

One interesting aside on this. I was told by a Tor editor that they do not put black people on book covers because it "reduces distribution in the South." But I'm holding a Tor novel with a black woman on the cover. So, apparently that policy is (thankfully) shifting.

(Copy obtained at World Fantasy Con).

Monday, February 9, 2015

Speculative Fiction Blog Hop

And...I'm doing a blog hop.

The previous person was Elle Chambers

Elle Chambers has been a lover of horror from the minute she heard the words, “It was a dark and stormy night.” She idolized Stephen King as a child and even attempted to put herself up for adoption in hopes that her hero would come take her under his wing and teach her everything he knew about the craft of dark fiction.

Elle is now a paranormal investigator in Ohio. She lives (mostly) alone with a black cat named Tabs and the occasional visitor from the great beyond.

She can be found on the web at

1) What is the name of your character? Is he or she fictional or a historic person?

I'm going to feature Dorothy Mayling. She's entirely fictional.

2) When and where is the story set?

The story is set in North Carolina, in the area around Raleigh, in an unspecified "near future."

3) What should we know about him or her?

Dorothy is a middle aged white woman with two children. She starts the book as rather racist and sexist (and maybe a little unlikeable). She's pretty much, though, an ordinary woman. She makes very nice jewelry, though. She's very loyal to her husband and her boys, and determined to keep her family together against all the odds. Although, she has her own secrets - which will come out in the book.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his or her life?

Zombies! Well, people who have caught a plague that turns them into unreasoning beasts. It's contagious and the victims are violent. There goes civilization.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

To protect her children, above all. Personal survival's in there, too, but really her goal is to keep her family intact as everything else falls apart all around them.

6) What is the title of the book(s), and where can find out more?

The book is "The Silent Years: Mother," and it's the first of a series of three novellas about the "Silent" plague.

Dorothy Mayling thought her worst problem was the long-standing family feud over her sister's choice of husband. Or her son's grades. Then the rumors started - bird flu in Seattle, SARS in Washington State? The truth is a hideous, terrible disease, one that slowly steals away the ability to speak and reason, turning people into nothing more than zombies. Worst of all, it was meant to be a weapon. Can Dorothy hold her family together as the world ends around them and people fall, one by one, to the silent plague?

You can get your own copy here.

7) When was the book published?

November 28, 2014. Volume 2, "Crone," was published on February 6.

On or about the 16th, visit Aurora Springer at

She says about herself:
I am a scientist morphing into a novelist. Whimsical stories in weird worlds. Science fiction and fantasy, love and war with a spice of humor. Aliens and outer space! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Updates

The Silent Years: Crone is now available in all popular ebook formats!

Get your copy from these links:


Barnes & Noble:

Smashwords (All formats):

I posted my Farpoint schedule earlier this week.

Apparently I have to moderate Timothy Zahn...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Driverless Cars and Disruptive Technology

Overall, I'm in favor of driverless cars. They will revolutionize the lifestyle of many disabled people once perfected.

But they will also hasten the oncoming changes in our society.

Driverless cars can pick up fares faster, safer, and cheaper than a cabbie. They will not completely eliminate taxi drivers unless and until they come with robots that can help you put your luggage in the trunk. (And some people will probably always prefer the luxury of a human driver).

And good and bad? There will be far fewer cars. In urban areas, many people are already trading in car ownership for using public transport, ride sharing and car sharing services, or just renting a car when they need one. Most cars sit around not being driven 90% of the time. Fewer cars on the road means fewer cars being built. Great for the environment. Not so great for the auto workers.

I'm starting to think driverless cars are going to be one of the things that put the coffin nails in our current economic system. Something is going to have to change.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review: Without Bloodshed by Matthew Graybosch

This book presents itself as cyberpunk, then takes a sideways turn into fantasy...maybe.

Genre-bending aside, Without Bloodshed is a pretty good book. (And I happen to like genre-bending every now and then). It does have cat people, but they aren't portrayed in the usual overdone manner. Morgan Stormbringer has CPMD - i.e., he's a cat person. He's also an Adversary - he works for the Phoenix Society, which ostensibly makes libertarian society work by taking out anyone who violates "individual rights." Of course, humans being humans...or others being others...there's more going on than that.

Yes, there's some libertarian propaganda in there - except there's also an admission that it may or may not actually work. Morgan and his girlfriend Naomi have to face the fact that everything they worked for and believe in might be a lie.

Oh, and it has rock and roll. Including, according to the author, a ton of references I didn't get. Ah well. And swordfighting, because killing somebody with a sword is more honorable than using a gun - a sentiment I've seen in my fantasy before. (Or maybe it's just an excuse for swordfighting).

It's a pretty fun read, and is the first of a series. As for that genre - the author calls it a "near-future science fantasy thriller." Which will do. Maybe.

(Copy received at World Fantasy Con).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Farpoint Convention Schedule

Just got my formal schedule for Farpoint. (With the usual caveat that things can change at the con - as long as we don't have any Alien Sex incidents).

Star Wars & Disney: The New Republic - we're going to discuss thoughts, hopes, and concerns about the new Star Wars movies. Friday, 5.00PM

Favorite Heroines - Conventional & Unconventional (moderator) - I'm still considering exactly where to take this one, but I have some interesting ideas. Friday, 6:00PM

Author Reading with Richard White and Gregory A. Wilson. Saturday, 2:00PM

Public Speaking For Authors (moderator) - A repeat of the panel I moderated at Balticon last year, but with different people. Saturday, 5:00PM

When The Journey Is The Destination (moderator) - The Fantastic Voyage in literature and media. (And, panelists be warned, I do plan on opening this up to media portrayals. There might even be some Star Trek discussion). Sunday, 10:00AM

BBC Science Fiction - Orphan Black for the win. Sunday, 11:00AM

3D Printing - I did a panel on this at RavenCon last year, where I represented the sociological viewpoint rather than the technical one. Sunday, 2:00PM.

And I'll be at the entire con, so keep an eye out for me.