Back-to-back science fiction conventions

I’m hitting the road on Friday for a couple of weeks. It started with two science fiction conventions on successive weekends, and I’ve decided to extend the in-between and after time, so I’ll be away for a while (with, probably, intermittent on-line access).

This weekend, I’ll be at Balticon in Baltimore, Maryland. As usual, I’ll be at the Fantastic Books table in the dealers’ room for a lot of the time. But programming put me on a slew of panels while the dealers’ room is open, so I hope to have friends staffing the table while I’m elsewhere panelizing. (That’s also a round-about way of saying I might have to miss one or two of the panels I expect to be on.)

If you’re looking for me on those panels, my schedule is:

Friday at 4:00 PM in Gibson: “So, you want to be a writer?” with Joshua Bilmes, Monica Louzon, and Michael A. Ventrella.

Saturday at 2:30 PM in Club Lounge: “Are classics still relevant? Is older SFF ‘unreadable’?” with AD Boorman, Max Baskin, Randee Dawn, and Mark Roth-Whitroth.

Saturday at 4:00 PM in James: “Making Old Hats New” with Eric Hardenbrook and Mark L. Van Name.

Sunday at 1:00 PM in Mount Washington: “Editors Can Be Your Friends” with Scott H. Andrews, Joshua Bilmes, Bjorn E. Hasseler, and Joy Ward.

Sunday at 2:30 PM in James: “Honing the Writer’s Craft Through Short Stories” with Scott H. Andrews, Elektra Hammond, and Alex Shvartsman.

Sunday at 4:00 PM in Club Lounge: “The New World of Publishing” with Joshua Bilmes, Shahid Mahmud, and Alex Shvartsman.

Sunday at 8:30 PM in Guilford: “Plot a story from audience input” with Randee Dawn, Michael M. Jones, Ken Schrader, and Mary G. Thompson.

The convention wraps up Monday, and then I expect to overnight somewhere in Virginia with friends, and then drive down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for a couple days.

The following weekend, June 2-4, I’ll be at ConCarolinas for the first time (in Charlotte, North Carolina). I don’t have a table in the dealers’ room, but I will have a table in what they call Authors’ Alley. I fear the table space may be limited, meaning I’ll only be able to show a smattering of the Fantastic Books books that are available. We’ll see. New convention: new experiences.

The panels I’m scheduled to be on at ConCarolinas are:

Friday at 10 PM in Olmstead: “The Ethics of Using AI and Machine Learning in Content Creation” with Bishop O’Connell, William C. Tracy, and Brandon N. Whitworth.

Saturday at 12:30 PM in Olmstead: “How to Destroy the World” with Charlie Kaufman, Darin Kennedy, Cisca Small, and Mel Todd.

Sunday at 12:30 PM in Keynes: “Walking On Sunshine and Where’s the Beef” with Samantha Bryant, Nancy Northcott, and Amy Ravenel.

Sunday at 1:30 PM in Walden: “Mars Wants What?” with R.M. Hamrick, Michael Mammay, Edward McKeown, and Sumiko Saulson.

After that convention, I’ll probably spend another week or so in the Carolinas, before heading back home to New York. Should be quite an adventure! Hope to see lots of you there (and there, and there…).

Relaxing Mensa Weekend

I’m on the road again this weekend. This time, however, no panels, no dealer table, no business meeting…. I’ll be at Boston Mensa’s Cape Cod Mini RG: our annual trip to the Cape the weekend before it opens for the summer season. It started life as a mini RG because it was smaller, with no programming. Now, it’s nearly as large as some of the regular RGs I attend, but still no programming. Hoping for a good, relaxing time, a quite respite from lots of editing and ramping out to produce Jewish Futures and a few stolen minutes here and there from my own writing and… well, you get the idea.

Science fiction convention weekend: Heliosphere 2023

The weekend of April 28, I’ll be in exotic Piscataway, New Jersey, for this year’s Heliosphere. If you’re going to be there, too, you can find me (as always) tethered to the Fantastic Books table in the dealers’ room for most of the weekend. We’ll be open to the public Friday 3–8pm, Saturday 10am–6pm, and Sunday 10am–3pm.

But I’ll also be on programming. If you’re looking for me in that setting, seek me out:

Friday, 3:30pm in Salon D for “The Biggest Mistakes Made by New Writers” with Keith R.A. DeCandido, Mike McPhail, Lori Perkins, and Michael A. Ventrella

Saturday, 2:30pm in Salon D for “Back in Time: Would Modern Doctors Make a Difference in the Past?” with Bjorn Hasseler, Lawrence Kramer, James Prego, and Jay Smith

Saturday, 4:00pm in Miracle Ballroom for “Editor’s Panel: What are Editors Looking for?” with Neil Clarke, Ann Stolinsky, and Michael A. Ventrella

And—ah, scheduling—the regulars who are usually willing to watch my table while I’m on a panel are either on the panels with me, or on competing panels at the same time. So I’ll be looking for a friend or two (who isn’t desperate to see me on a panel) who might be willing to sell some books at the table. The Friday slot shouldn’t be a problem; it’s so early in the day that I doubt anyone will be buying (or listening to panels), but for the Saturday two-some I’d really appreciate the help.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing y’all there!

Why don’t they listen during Congressional “hearings”?

The news programs keep showing clips from Congressional committee “hearings.” I keep watching them. And I keep wondering: when last did a Congressperson sitting on one of those committees ask a question of a witness to which the Congressperson did not know the answer? And when last did a committee, holding one of those hearings, learn something new that informed their decisions on pending legislation?

It may be that the media only show those clips they deem “entertaining” enough, rather than all the business, and that indeed there is some information exchange in these hearings. But it sure seems as if the only reason they hold these hearings is so that the Congressfolk can pontificate, can act outraged, can make speeches that can then be excerpted into television commercials in their never-ending quest to be re-elected. Today, it was Bernie Sanders yelling at the CEO of Starbucks. Yesterday, it was a Ted Cruz calling the Secretary of Homeland Security a liar.

When I sit on a board of directors, when I listen to the debate on the motions before we vote, I actually listen, to learn my fellow directors’ opinions, and sometimes to help me decide which course of action is best for the organization. I don’t go in to every meeting with my mind made up, looking only to score points. But then perhaps that’s the reason I’m not in Congress.

Mensa appearance this weekend

This coming weekend, March 3-5, I’ll be at Central New Jersey Mensa’s Snowball Regional Gathering. It’s one of the longest-running RGs in American Mensa, and always a good time. This time, I’m not just attending, but actually on the program. On Friday, at 7:30pm, I’ll be giving a talk on “Punctilious Punctuation,” and I know all of you who are going to be at the RG will want to see my talk (mind you, I’ve got some stiff competition in that time slot: Lesley Schierenbeck talking about “Dark & Dirty New Jersey History,” and John Devotti’s always wonderful “Monster Trivia.”

After I’m off stage, stick around in the same room for the Mensa Foundation and RVC2 Meet and Greet. And at 2:30pm Saturday, RVC2 Trebor Lefebvre will be running “Everything You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know About Mensa.” I’ll be there, too.

But the other program item I’m really urging you to attend is Saturday at 10:30am. One of my authors, Michael A. Ventrella, will be talking about “How to Argue the Constitution with a Conservative.” Michael is a wonderful speaker, talking about a topic on which he is very knowledgeable, and it’s an especially timely topic. We’ll also have copies of his book, How to Argue the Constitution with a Conservative, available for sale (and possibly a few other of his titles that I’ve published).

Should be a great weekend. Hope to see y’all there!

Science fiction convention weekend (second of 2023)

I’ve been kind of busy recently, so I’ve neglected to post my usual announcement that this is a convention weekend. This time, it’s the science fiction convention Boskone, in the Westin Boston Seaport District. Sound familiar? Yep, this is my annual dose of cognitive dissonance, as I was in the very same hotel last month for Arisia.

As at Arisia, I’ll be spending most of my time in the dealers’ room, which is again in the Galleria. The room will be open Friday 5–8pm, Saturday 10am–6pm, and Sunday 10am–3pm. And I’ll have two brand-new, never-before-seen titles for sale, as well as the Gardner Collection. Come check it all out!

If you’re looking for me on programming, I’ll be on the following panels:

Saturday, 11:30am, Marina 1: “Editors: After the Draft” with Amber Bliss, Jeanne Cavelos, and Trisha J. Wooldridge

Saturday, 1:00p, Marina 2: “Writing and Submitting in the Face of Rejection” with Esther Friesner, Nicholas Kaufmann, John Langan, and Marisca Pichette

Hope to see y’all there (except you Mensans, who will probably be at New Hampshire Mensa’s RG. I’m bummed I won’t be able to join you.)

Asimov’s reviews Three Time Travelers Walk Into…

ThreeTimeTravelers_FrontIn his review in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, Peter Heck recommends Three Time Travelers Walk Into… (edited by Michael A. Ventrella, published by Fantastic Books in May), calling it “highly entertaining” and “thoroughly readable.” He also includes specific mentions of Gail Martin’s “The Mystic Lamb,” Peter David’s “A Christmas Prelude,” Jonathan Maberry’s “The Adventure of the Confounded Writer,” and says “one writer—no spoilers here—gives a younger version of himself a chance to alter history after meeting two of his mentors and the version of himself who has lived through our history—a tour de force of time-travel twists and turns.”

On Dhalgren, electronically

9781515424192A while back, Fantastic Books published On Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren: the definitive collection of reviews, commentary, and discussions of the classic novel. I was (and still am) thrilled to have been a part of this book, working closely with Delany himself to see that it was published in the form he wanted.

Publishers Weekly said of the book “Samuel R. Delany’s influential and divisive 1975 novel Dhalgren gets a full critical treatment in this immersive and comprehensive collection.… Fans of Delaney’s classic will want to snap this up.”

It is, however, one of the more expensive books we’ve published, because it contains a bunch of color illustrations. So for those of you who wanted the book, but couldn’t justify the price tag, the ebook version is now available. As with all of our titles, we’re selling the ebook directly from our new web site. It’s also available from the usual retailers.

Pie again

IMG_8414I think I’m finally figuring out pie crusts. Hadn’t baked a pie since early December, but I tried a couple of new things this time, and… well, take a look. I think it looks better, and it tastes very good, too!

The first picture is fresh from the oven. Can’t wait! But I have to wait. I’ve discovered that if I let it cool, and then put it in the refrigerator over night, the taste and texture are much better starting the next day. So I wait, and I salivate.

IMG_8417The second picture is after I cut the second piece (because the first was a complete mess — tastes great, photographs terribly). The filling is apple and pear with raisins. The crust is my modification of a standard crust, with a hint of cinnamon and brown sugar in it to complement the filling. Now the hard part is keeping myself from eating it all at once. Yum!