November 2007


Thanks to everyone who’s stopped by to visit, especially those who’ve made a comment. Thanks for reading. Thanks to the universe for the wonderful species of which I’m a member, for this planet, our delightful home, and for all the varied life with which we share it.

And finally, thanks to Amazon.com for making The Watch and Circuit of Heaven available as Kindle Books this holiday season. Maybe the thing will catch on, and I’ll finally earn back my advance…. Naw, it’ll never happen.

Eat hearty, mates. Life is good.

I just finished the edits for “R3,” a Christmas story about a troupe of Christmas performers genetically altered to look like reindeer. I’ve always wanted to write a science fiction Christmas story, and I think this one works—just the right combo of science and sappy. In the meantime, you can check out Strange Horizons current issue, as well as their extensive archives, one of the best collections of sf on the web.

Back when The Watch came out, Michael Cassutt, whom I’d never met, sent me a very nice email saying he’d nominated the book for a Nebula and that I should thank Don D’Ammassa’s rave review for leading him to the book in the first place. The review was in a publication not available to me in Richmond, so I emailed D’Ammassa (or thought I did; one can never be sure) telling him the story and asking if he’d send me a copy of the review, but never received a reply.

This morning, mousing around about something else, I came upon a link to D’Ammassa’s website, and there was the review. It couldn’t have come at a better time: With the current novel giving me some backtalk, and Sarah set to leave town this morning for three long weeks(!), I needed some cheering up.

So here ’tis:
A visitor from the very far future, a man who might not even be human as we know it, travels back to 1921 and tells Peter Kropotkin that he is about to die, but that he can have a new life with his youth restored, although the catch is that it will be in 1999 in America. So Kropotkin comes to Richmond, Virginia as a refugee, finds works and a few friends, and discovers that other people have traveled through time as well, although not voluntarily. He also must learn to function in a world where capitalism functions very differently than it did in his own time, and where computers, AIDS, and other developments have had profound impacts on society. This could have been the basis for a broad satire or a farce, and there are satirical and amusing moments in the book. But Danvers’ novel is much more serious and contemplative than that. An oddly enough, although there is little direct action or suspense, I found myself turning the pages compulsively until I reached the end. Kropotkin is a likeable, intelligent, compassionate character whose fate, troubles, self questioning, and curiosity awaken sympathetic bonds in the reader. This is one of the most quietly effective and deceptively skillful SF novels I’ve read recently. —Don D’Ammassa

Thanks Don.

I wish I could report my own reading was a smashing success, but alas, I cannot. My deepest gratitude goes to Karen Wester Newton for being the lone soul at my reading.

Not counting my own, I went to fifteen readings, most of which were quite good. On Friday, I went to hear Lois McMaster Bujold, Carol Emshwiller, Matthew Jarpe, Nick DiChario, M. Rickert, and Hal Duncan. The best were Matthew Jarpe’s reading from a work in progress, Machine Intelligence, M. Rickert reading a political fable about abortion reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” (I can’t find the title in my notes, but it is forthcoming in F & SF, and Hal Duncan reading from Ink and from a new sonnet sequence. Al is a terrific reader, and I love his poetry especially.

Saturday I heard John Grant read the text from an illustrated children’s book in verse, “The Dinosaur Who Came For Christmas” (a work in progress); Laird Barron reading a nifty story “The Lagerstatte? forthcoming in The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy Jan. 2008; Patrick O’Leary reading one of my favorite pieces of the weekend, “That Laugh,” forthcoming in We Think Therefore We Are, an AI anthology; Scott Edelman reading the absolutely delightful “Almost the Last Story by Almost the Last Man,” which will be in Postscripts #12; Jeffrey Ford (that guy again) reading “Drowned Town,” which will be in Eclipse, a new anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan. This was a typically wonderful Ford story, but he left us all hungry for the ending, since he ran out of time.

Sunday I heard David Louis Edelman reading an adventurous excerpt from Multireal; Nancy Kress reading “The Kindness of Strangers,” a beautifully written sf fable about overpopulation forthcoming in Fast Forward 2; Paul Witcover reading from a work in progress about clockmakers (the Latin title of which I won’t mangle here); and finally the treat of the weekend, John Crowley reading from a novel in progress I believe he said is titled Four Freedoms. It was funny, charming, sexy as all get out. I can’t wait to read the finished novel.

If I’ve mangled a title or committed an error of omission, my sincere apologies to the authors. And thanks to them all for keeping me amused, entertained, and enlightened. I didn’t go to a single panel and can’t say I missed them.

The mass autograph session was more fun than I would have anticipated. Several copies of my older novels showed up to be signed, especially Wilderness. And I was particularly pleased to sign a Time and Time Again for a reader who actually loved it. If only there’d been more of her…
The highlight of the awards banquet was Jeff Ford’s win for “Botch Town” in the novella category. He richly deserved it against strong competition. The tasteless, rubbery roast beef at the banquet, however, was easily the low point. Did they boil it or what?