November 2006


I’m going to be teaching a science fiction class again this summer at Virginia Commonwealth University, so once again I’m revisiting my syllabus. The course is a chronological dash through sf books and films starting with The Stars My Destination and ending with Blind Lake. The students are intelligent college students, usually juniors and seniors from a variety of disciplines looking to fulfill a lit requirement, with varying degrees of familiarity with sf. I’ve always used Neuromancer as the “80’s book” because I love it, and it’s the 900-pound gorilla of the decade, but students consistently rate it dead last on the reading list, and I’ve vowed to replace it. My personal favorite of the Neuromancer trilogy is Count Zero, but I doubt they would like it any better. I’m considering Tanith Lee’s Silver Metal Lover or Greg Bear’s Blood Music. Any suggestions out there?

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I got the news that a story of mine, “R3,” an alternative Christmas reindeer story, has been accepted by Strange Horizons, one of my favorite online publications.

I also had a great time at Appomattox Regional High School. Faculty and students were terrific. The old auditorium was a great place to read, and new story “The Broken Dream Factory,” got rave reviews.

We’ll be having Thanksgiving dinner with Sarah’s family in Richmond, always a delightful time. We won’t be doing much shopping, trying to bring down the national average. I like Christmas. It’s a great story. But I fail to see the connection between Peace on Earth and a new Playstation Three. Maybe if I had more disposable income I’d get it. But it’s funny how expensive it’s gotten to celebrate the birthday of a guy who always had such nice things to say about rich people and the pointless acquisition of more and more stuff.

One of the premier gawdy light displays in the city is only a couple of blocks from our house. People cruise by in limos on a pilgrimage. This makes sense to me. Can’t you just see the manger dripping in lights, visible for miles? The Kid is here! Remember—I did grow up in Texas.  Happy holidays.

I will be part of the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School Writers’ Fest.

I’ll be reading Friday evening at 5:30-6:00.  On Saturday I’ll be part of a “coffee talk” at 1-2, and will teach an sf workshop from 2:30-4:30.  The other writers include Tom De Haven, Darlene Scott, Maribeth Fischer, Greg Donovan, Dan Hefko, Elizabeth Hodges, and d.l. Hopkins.

Too much has been going on. I enjoyed my first WFC. The highlight for me was hearing Hal Duncan read Sonnets for Orpheus, one of the best readings I’ve heard anywhere, and the poem rocks.

I enjoyed the easy informality of the convention, making it easy to meet people. I’ll definitely return. I’ve got to say, however, that the suburban venue, especially if you were in the “overflow hotel,” pretty much sucked. This was a pedestrian hostile zone a fifteen mile cab ride from anything I’d call Austin. Who comes to Austin to go to TGIF? The facilities at both hotels were fine, the award banquet expertly catered, and both staffs were wonderful, especially the former tattoo artist shuttle driver for the Fairfield. But nothing could make up for the fact that it was a real geography of nowhere nightmare. I’m weird; I walk. A route that includes crossing two major freeways past two Home Depots (one living—one dead) with sidewalks that come and go between the main hotel and the overflow strains the definition of overflow.

I was holding my breath yesterday until Allen conceded. I am delighted with the results of the election except for the so-called Marriage Amendment’s passage. But I’ve ranted about that elsewhere. I don’t want to hear any whining that the Democrats don’t have a plan in Iraq. You call what’s been going on a plan? The Three Stooges could do better. I did hate to see Rummy go though. Whenever they let him out of the box to talk, you knew things were going badly for the Bushies. He’s a real known known, that guy. But I’m not sure if he knows it.

At Amy’s request, here is another godstory.  This one grows out of my fondness (and God’s) for the hard-boiled detective genre.

11th and J

God feels lonely, that pointless, empty, feeds-on-itself kind of lonely that knows no relief.  He’s also deliriously happy, but that’s another story.  He’s stretched out in the void like it’s an empty hotel, and he’s the only one there, and all the stars are streetlights, and time is just a slow walk down a dark street going nowhere.

He has good reason to be lonely.  Nobody really understands him.  How can they?  Not the Froobahs, not the Gullimulligans, not the Clydions.  Not even the angels–especially the angels, now that he thinks about it–praising him constantly eon after eon, as relentless as a dripping faucet, so full of adoration you’d think they’d all pop like ticks.  They’ve all watched It’s a Wonderful Life a few too many times—who hasn’t?—and haven’t watched Barbarella enough. (more…)

Alice might be old, but she still managed to save Sarah and me from a ravaging denizen of the deep. She’s mostly recovered from the battle, having managed to elude those vicious felt teeth.