Quick visit to Sagamore Hill

sagamorehilllongshotOn our way out to friends’ home on Long Island Wednesday, we made a quick stop at Sagamore Hill—Theodore Roosevelt’s home—which I’d never visited before. Unlike the Grover Cleveland museum in New Jersey (which is very informative, but very small), Sagamore Hill is a very large site/museum, and will require another trip to actually see it all. But a quick impression: gorgeous house in a wonderful setting, and the museum in TR Jr’s house (out behind the main house) is well laid out. We didn’t actually get a chance to get into the main house: tickets are required for guided tours, and we just didn’t have the time.

sagamorehillgiftshopHowever, a quick stop in the gift shop presented me with a very pleasant surprise: The Presidential Book of Lists on the shelf, eagerly awaiting new homes (there were several copies there). I was excited when it first came out and I saw it for the first time on the shelves of a bookstore. Now I realize I’m still excited to find it on the shelves, especially at a Presidential home, where it really ought to be. Hurray!


#sagamorehill #theodoreroosevelt #tpbol

Capclave this weekend

small_dodo_transparentThe fall convention season ramps up tomorrow, as I head to Gaithersburg, Maryland, for Capclave, which is always a nice convention. A little smaller than some, with a stronger focus on short fiction (my forte), it’s always a good time. And if  you’re looking for me, as usual, I’ll be tethered to the Fantastic Books table in the dealers’ room for most of the weekend. I’ll also be on four panels and another special program item:

  • Friday at 9pm in the Bethesda room: “Small Press: Is It Still a Golden Age?” with Lezli Robyn, Hildy Silverman, Sean Wallace, and Steven H. Wilson.
  • Friday at 10pm in the Bethesda room: “Where’s My Flying Car?” with Neil Clarke, Andrew Fox, and Christopher Weuve.
  • Saturday at 12n in Salon A: “Putting Real Science in Science Fiction” with Michael Capobianco, Alan Smale, and Bud Sparhawk.
  • Saturday at 4pm in the Rockville/Potomac room: “Politics in Science Fiction & Fantasy” with Anthony Dobranski, Larry Hodges, Karen Wester Newton, and David Walton.
  • Saturday at 10pm in Suite 1209: “Eye of Argon Reading/Performance/Presentation” with Walter H. Hunt, Hildy Silverman, and Michael A. Ventrella, along with a special surprise cast. If you haven’t attended one of these performances before, you don’t know what you’re missing. And if you have, well, you know you want to come back.

I’ll also be at the WSFA Small Press Award ceremony Saturday at 9pm, rooting on Tanith Lee’s “Burn Her” (which I published in her collection Dancing Through the Fire).

Hope to see some of you there!

#capclave #tanithlee #fantasticbooks

Designated Survivor: television and real-life

mv5bmty5nzyzodu4n15bml5banbnxkftztgwnza1mjuwmdi-_v1_sx214_al_Tonight, ABC Television is debuting a new series called Designated Survivor, apparently about what happens when the President, Vice President, most of the Cabinet, and Congress die during a State of the Union address, and how the one Cabinet member who stayed home as the “designated survivor” becomes the President. I’ll be watching, because I’m fascinated by the White House and the Presidency, although I wonder what they can do to differentiate it from The West Wing beyond the first few episodes, if they’re planning to make it an open-ended series.

Tom Clancy explored a similar scenario in his Jack Ryan series (the book Executive Orders, published in 1996), and Irving Wallace looked into it from a racial point of view in The Man (published in 1964).

9781631440595-frontcoverThe Presidential order of succession—beyond the Vice President—has been frequently discussed, and several laws have been adopted, switching around the order over the decades, although none of them have ever had to be put into use. Nevertheless, it is an interesting topic for fiction to explore. And if you’re looking for more on the factual side (what is the designated survivor, how did it come to be, and who has been that person who was one terrorist attack from the Oval Office?), check out chapters 72-77 in my newest book Ranking the Vice Presidents (specifically, chapter 77 is titled “Designated Survivor”).


Spoke in Albany

I neglected to mention that I was going to speak in Albany. Of course, from the time I found out I was on the schedule, I didn’t have enough time to put the presentation together, let alone talk about it here. The acceptance of my offer got trapped in a junk mail folder which I stumbled across last Thursday night, as I was logging off to get some sleep. Instead, I wound up staying up another four hours, putting together most of a PowerPoint presentation to back up my speaking (finalized the slides on the road). And on Sunday morning, I was awake and alert and talking about “Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton: Calling Them Exceptional Is Understatement” at the Mensa Regional Gathering in Albany, New York. The meat of the talk was the fact that President Obama’s election forced me to change only one of the ranked lists on my book The Presidential Book of Lists, but regardless of who wins this year’s election, a lot of the book will have to be changed. In other words, President Obama looks an awful lot like all his predecessors, but neither Hillary Clinton nor  Donald Trump looks terribly Presidential in terms of shared characteristics with the 43 people who’ve held the office.

The talk went well, every seat was filled, and nobody left early. And, being a Mensan audience, they pointed out several typos in the slides (which I’ve since corrected). So I’m available to speak to your group, if you’re looking for an entertaining speaker talking about something different during this year’s Presidential election cycle.

Fantastic Books award nomination

Though WSFA hasn’t yet posted it on their own web site, they did send me a press release to let me know that Tanith Lee’s story “Burn Her,” which appeared in her collection Dancing Through the Fire, is a finalist for the WSFA Small Press Award. Full press release below:

Finalists for the 2016 Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) Small Press Award for Short Fiction were announced August 9, 2016.

  • “The Art of Deception”, Stephanie Burgis (Insert Title Here)
  • “Headspace”, Beth Cato (Cats in Space)
  • “Leashing the Muse”, Larry Hodges (Space and Time 5/15)
  • “Cat Pictures Please”, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
  • “Burn Her”, Tanith Lee (Dancing Through the Fire)
  • “The Haunting of Apollo A7LB”, Hannu Rajaniemi (Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction)
  • “The Empress in Her Glory”, Robert Reed (Clarkesworld 4/15)
  • “Today I Am Paul”, Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld 8/15)
  • “Leftovers”, Leona Wisoker (Cats in Space)

The award, recognizing the “best original short fiction” published by small presses in the previous year, will be presented at Capclave in Gaithersburg MD at the Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg on October 7-9, 2016. The winner will be chosen by members of WSFA. For more information, see the WSFA Small Press Award site.

Gray Rabbit press release

Victoria Woodhull: Thinking Today’s Thoughts 150 Years Ago

With all the hoopla surrounding Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination for the Presidency of the United States, it’s important to remember that her “first” comes with a caveat: she’s the first female nominee for President from one of the two major parties. But long before she broke that glass ceiling, Victoria Claflin Woodhull broke the gender barrier. In 1872—75 years before Hillary Clinton was born—Victoria Woodhull won the nomination of the Equal Rights Party (who also nominated Frederick Douglass for Vice President). She came to national prominence through a series of lectures and writings on the United States government: what it was and what she believed it ought to be. She collected much of that thinking into the volume The Origins, Tendencies and Principles of Government.

And while she was waging her unsuccessful campaign for the Presidency, she was also part of the growing movement for female suffrage, which culminated in the adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1920. She was also a proponent of Free Love, freedom for women to choose how and with whom they’d live their lives, and even topics that were radical at the time, and today are simply expressions of equality.

In this newest year of the woman, Gray Rabbit Publications is proud to be publishing two volumes of Victoria Woodhull’s ideas.

The Origins, Tendencies and Principles of Government (266 pages, $8.99, trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1-5154-0047-9) is the original text published by Woodhull’s own firm in 1871.

Victoria C. Woodhull: Ideas Ahead of Her Time (210 pages, $7.99, trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1-5154-0046-8) is a collection of essays on suffrage, government and society, collected together for the first time. Contents include: “A New Constitution for the United States of the World,” “The Memorial of Victoria C. Woodhull to Congress,” “Constitutional Equality,” “A Lecture on Constitutional Equality,” “Children—Their Rights and Privileges,” “And The Truth Shall Make You Free,” “The Elixir of Life, or, Why Do We Die?” and “The Garden of Eden, or, The Paradise Lost & Found.”

Both books are available through all major online retailers, and to physical bookstores via special order through Ingram, which is the distributor of all Gray Rabbit titles.