New House Update

Pepper has Moved In
Yes, there are still a handful of boxes that need to be rummaged through and the things found therein sorted and distributed. My list of projects to deal with is growing, not shrinking. But still this place is starting to feel a whole lot more like home than just another stopping place in life’s long journey. And Oh! let me tell you that is nice.

An interesting side note on all this. Last November I hurt my back. Since then I’ve been seeing a line of doctors and physical therapists trying to get better. This one small strain has pretty much impacted all the things I’d normally rather be doing. You know hiking, running, biking and kayaking. Going into the move in April I was terrified that I was going to re-injure or exacerbate this already difficult problem. The good news is that I’ve made it through that tunnel and can now see some light.

Being Fat on Island

Yesterday afternoon I got to take a spin on my Surly riding through the nature preserve just outside our house, down the hill, and onto the beach. The dog and I rode south along the East Passage until we got to a tide break that had water smacking into it’s side. The ride was fun, but, I realized as I cranked my way back up the hill, I am horribly out of shape.

 

Invisible 2 Hits the Shelves

That’s a lot of empathy

Nineteen prescient and personal essays, an introduction by award-winning author Aliette de Bodard, cover art by the amazing Mark Ferrari; these are some of the amazing things you’ll find in the release of this anthology of powerful essays about representation in science fiction and fantasy. Added to all this, like a cherry atop the very finest six dollar root beer float, one of those essays is mine. 

That’s right, if you squint you can make out my name amongst the list of super folks included in this excellent work. A huge thanks goes out to Jim C. Hines for including me, and for pushing me as an editor.

Just like last year, Invisible 2 is available as an e-book for $2.99, and all proceeds will go to Con or Bust. Anticipate the printed version some time soon I’m told. You can pick up your copy at any of these fine outlets.

If you’re an Apple person stay tuned, it takes a little while to get it into iTunes/iBooks via Smashwords.

Reviewers? You should contact Jim with your intent to read and drop kind words.

I really enjoyed working on this project and reading what other people had to say about their part in this community made me pause and think plenty. Considering all the hullabaloo happening around this year’s Hugo it is conceivable that we need a tad more self reflection and comet sized bundle empathy shared amongst us all.

 

 

Serenity Base Camp

The Last Monk

More from Adrien Girod. “The Last Monk” I can’t get enough of this guy

 

Around about 1993, sitting around a table tapping magic cards with a bunch of other nerds, the discussion turned from the infrequency of lotus cards and the need for more blue land to the then very new internet. Our Nerd in Chief Deva, who sat in the throne next to the wood burning stove across the room from us, shared his royal two cents. It was possibly the most prophetic and cogent couple of sentences I may have ever heard.

“Even if all you ever did was sit in front of a terminal and read all the stuff on the internet, you’d still never be able to know it all. A tiny fraction of a percentage. And it’s always getting bigger,” he said, or something like that. If I search for it I might be able to find it exactly.

Anyway, recently I’ve had to suspend my fractional readings regarding all the hullabaloo around this year’s now notorious Hugo Cluster Event. WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!

CampSerenity

This pad will become Serenity Base Camp for the foreseeable future. RE: Hugos, I’m pretty much unaware of what’s going on and who said what. Honestly, it was getting to the point where the self-identified Sad Puppies were starting to sound a whole lot like a broken record. Endlessly spinning around and around on that same list of broken rationalizations for their actions. So, moving our house, one more time, has actually become somewhat of a relief.

And now that I’m taking a momentary break from stuffing all our worldly belongings into various sized cardboard containers I cast my searches out into the internet and discover that not a whole lot has changed.

The big update seems to be from the handful of people who unknowingly made it onto the SP slate or made the short list otherwise. Connie Willis has told the world that she won’t be presenting at the Hugos.

“You may have been able to cheat your way onto the ballot. (And don’t talk to me about how this isn’t against the rules–doing anything except nominating the works you personally liked best is cheating in my book.) You may even be able to bully and intimidate people into voting for you. But you can’t make me hand you the Hugo and say “Congratulations,” just as if you’d actually won it. And you can’t make me appear onstage and tell jokes and act like this year’s Hugo ceremony is business as usual and what you’ve done is okay. I’m not going to help you get away with this. I love the Hugo Awards too much.”

And both Marko Kloos and Annie Bellett have declined their nominations. I think these three should be commended for their level of personal integrity. That’s got to take some moxie, a whole rocket full.

There may be more. Who knows? I’m only capable of understanding a tiny fraction of what’s going on out there.

Mimic

Most pictures are worth about a thousand words. This one seems to be worth at least two. “How do you know this?” you ask. Well, because I just wrote another thousand and change because of it. Thanks again to Chuck Wendig for hosting these little teasers. Now that you’ve completed draft on your next novel let us see what you can do short form.

Mimic

“As you can see the integrated rover housing can be adapted to a great variety of applications. Spacing of trees in your orchard isn’t ever a problem. We’ve sold these units to citrus farmers in the Republic of Cali and to apple growers along the Yakima. Additionally, the individual pollinators can also be changed out in whole racks. Not only does this make cross pollination possible, but it means you can mix your root stock and still get the job done before the sun sets,” said the stick-thin figure from the back of the hydrogen splitter.

The rig was shiny and it looked foreign. It purred like a barn cat with a mouse as it soaked in the sunshine converting water to fuel in its cells. I think everyone was eyeing the petro-plastic covering the six wheel wells on the skinny man’s truck, there had to be enough there we could melt it down and fashion a shed or a house or something. It was black too, which meant there was some sorta dye embedded in it. That’s the kind of stuff you want to use for a water heater or even irrigation. Everyone knew that. Everyone imagined tearing it off the side of the transport.

A hand rose from the middle of the crowd of men and boys that had packed into the alley near the General store, it was Martin Kenny’s. The skinny man noticed Martin and said, “Yes sir, are you interested in buying a Rainier Robotics Automated Pollination Platform?”

“No sir,” Martin replied, “I’m still trying to figure out what you’re selling, to be honest. You talk fast and use a lot of fancy words don’t none of us understand. But what I really want’ta know, would you be interested in selling me the plastic on your rig?”

The skinny man looked surprised and it appeared as if he’d lost his place in the script as he looked out into the gathered crowd of orchard men. With the question out there all we could do was speculate. It’s possible, where ever he hailed from, the petro-plastic along the side of that truck wasn’t such a scarcity. All we had was the kind made from potatoes and sump juice and it crumbled in the sunshine and melted in the soil. Using it to water an orchard is nothing but a waste of time because by the time you finish one end of an installation you’re likely ready to replace the end where you began. All of us work orchard lands above the river, and irrigation pipes is the only way to get water up from the river, so that’s just what we do. Last harvest my cherries fetched only enough in potato exchange for me to replace pipe in the upper orchard. This spring I’ve been doing nothing much more than patching and glueing getting ready for the dry spell.

Martin Kelly is renowned along the upper Wenatchee because the piss-plastic he cooks up behind his swine stables stands up better than most. Forgive my crudeness it’s just what we call it. So when he starts asking this stickman to buy the petro off the side of his rig everyone standing there starts to worry. The little fella standing on the tail gate of his rig, he just pushes on down the track like Kelly’s question weren’t no obstacle.

Something changes in the man’s demeanor like he’s suddenly remembered something important. He pulls a raggedy straw hat from behind a couple of large boxes and plops it on his head. Then he looks down at his shiny shoes for a moment and mumbles something none of us can understand.

“My apologies old son. I can’t help you much with your plastic problems. I’m here to solve your pollination problems,” the skinny man says direct to Kelly.

“And I have it on good authority,” he then proclaims like a Sunday preacher, “that all y’all have been doing your own blossom pollination for time out’ta mind.”

Now I can hear the difference I just saw in the skinny man, he’s a mimic and I suddenly don’t trust him. It’s like he went home and put on a nice clean shirt and new pants, even though he’s wearing the same damn clothes. He sounds something like the people along the Wenatchee. Everyone standing there notices the difference too, like night and day.

Toby Williams, the kid brother of Vance who owns the land along the Chumstick, pipes up without waiting to be called. “So your saying that lil box-thing does the work of spring time probing?” The kid has been ruffling feather ever since his big brother come down ill with the pox, but I say he stepped up and took on that patch of cherries. No one around Peshastin has near that many trees, I say let the kid be he’s proved his worth and knows his roots.

The skinny man beams a grin at Toby that for some reason seems to calm the clucking men. If there’s an inch of extra skin on this fellow it’s below his clean shaven chin, and it bunches up there as if to underline the smile. “Son, that’s exactly what I’m sayin’. This here machine does all the work bees and butterflies used to do.”

The sound of jaws hitting the crumble-stone beneath our feet is audible. Toby, young man that he is, responds skeptically. “Skinny man, what’s a bee?”

“Like this here petro-plastic bees just ain’t no more.” The skinny man turns away from the crowd for a moment, pokes at the machine. Out pops a long rack of intricate, little clockworks on a long arm. It looks something like a wall of tiny winter coats, each one the same and hung next to it’s neighbor. I estimate there has to be a thousand of them.

From the wall the skinny man bends over and picks a single device. He cups it in his hands and turns to the crowd. “Some ah y’all are probably just old enough to remember what a bee was,” he proclaims loud enough for all to hear. “Something like an apple moth, but it don’t eat fruit. In fact, before the time of probes and picks, these lil buggers made fruit. They’d just buzz around your orchard and do the probe work for you.”

It’s a distant, hazy memory, but I can still recall bees. Well, a bee. I find myself looking inside, sorting through years of rubbish, for that image of a kettle-bellied yellow and black body struggling at my feet. My Father had said it was a bumble-bee. That it was dying for some reason that I can’t recall. And that it wasn’t the only one I’d see die like that, but I can’t recall any others. The old men in the crowd, they’re all remembering too.

“Son, these insects, they’re all gone now, but they made orchard work easy,” said the skinny man. He opens up his cupped hands and the little clockwork begins to buzz. It hovers for a blink of my eye and then darts off into the blue.

Wang That Chord

Myke Cole and I have had our differences. My first impression of him was somewhat negative if not muddled. I had recently self-published The Big Red Buckle and shown up to Legendary ConFusion in order to get to know other writers and fans involved in the genre. It was morning, before the opening ceremonies, and we met in the restaurant. I’d never heard of him, he’d never heard of me. He offered his business card, I responded in kind. He refused my card because it was “too large.”

I spent the rest of that weekend feeling mildly persecuted because of my decision to self-publish my first novelette, but whatever, pretty much everyone else I talked to at ConFusion had previously jumped through those same hoops themselves and so the convention ended a success. I walked away with a couple of new friendships, a better understanding of how these things work, and a renewed sense of what I needed to do in order to get my writing out there. Despite everyone’s else’s assurances that Cole was “really a good guy” I also left with a bitter taste in my mouth from our subsequent interactions. I think, for whatever reason, I rankled him and he in turn annoyed the hell out of me. All the drinking may have contributed to this mutual animosity.

It’s now been more than a year since that initial interaction and we’ve done an admirable job of getting things back to the way they were before that fateful morning at ConFusion. I don’t usually read much of what he writes, he steadfastly refuses to read my writing (I can only assume).

Cole’s contributions occasionally pop up in my social feeds from time to time. Mostly I have steered clear of his writing because, man, first impressions are really hard to shake. Honestly, while I’d rather not feel butt-hurt over that weekend, I admittedly have felt that way. And what a shame it is to feel butt-hurt.

Yesterday, because I was looking for more of what people in the business of writing have to say on the whole Hugo Cluster-Event 2015, I browsed Cole’s blog. So far, nothing about said Cluster-Event but I couldn’t help myself and I ended up reading about his next book release. I came across a post entitled “Nobody owns the military experience” which had nothing to do with the Hugo’s yet still felt very familiar to me.

The mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence belongs to *everyone.* No one who lives in any society is untouched by a mil­i­tary. An 80 year old woman who has never served, but has lived through the American inter­ven­tions in Iraq and Afghanistan has just as much “own­er­ship” over the expe­ri­ence as a 25 year old Marine who has fought in both of them. One expe­ri­ence is no more valid than the other. Both of their sto­ries are “mil­i­tary” sto­ries. Both deserve to be told. -Myke Cole

Notice, I’m not claiming that I’ve read Cole’s blog and come to the immediate realization that we’re actually bosom buddies separated by service or birth or even a bad business card exchange. Should we ever meet face to face again, it is possible whatever about me irritated him before will likely continue to nettle him in the future. I’m not wholly a different person than I was in January 2014. I still make mistakes, I can and have made bad impressions, and in order to conserve razors I shave a lot less.

But I wanted to say that I’ve given at least his blog some time and thought and for the most part what I find there is valuable. I now plan on opening a book or two. Cole has done an excellent job of articulating some thoughts and feelings I’ve been nursing, beginning with the aforementioned blog post. Yeah, I’m no saint, but at least I’m big enough to recognize common ground. I’ll never make music if I constantly strike the same damn cord. Hopefully my repertoire will grow a little bit from this experience.

Well done Mr. Cole, well done. I wish you all success with Weapons in the Earth in OPERATION: ARCANA.