I may have mentioned that Fantastic Books will be publishing Allen Steele’s new novel, Sanctuary, in early November. Now we’ve got the cover finalized, and I’m prompted to show it off because Publishers Weekly has just reviewed the book. PW says “Steele pulls off an unusual genre-bending adventure in this mélange of far-future alien-human interaction and classic gumshoe investigation.… Steele’s engaging tough-guy narrator and well-wrought alien culture make this an enjoyable romp for both science fiction and detective story fans.” You can read the full review here. And when the book actually goes on sale, you’ll find links to it on this page.
Sorry I haven’t posted recently. The trip to Capclave was an odd mix of familiar and strange, comfortable and not. The convention was a little smaller than usual, and pretty much what I expected, but it was good to get out among people again. Especially since the convention required all attendees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and to wear masks. So I think I’m ready for the upcoming conventions, including Philcon and WorldCon.
Completely unrelated to that, a friend pointed out this link to me, American Heritage‘s 1954 publication of a letter Theodore Roosevelt wrote in 1911, detailing his experiences representing the United States at the funeral of King Edward VII in 1910. It’s a fascinating look at the world’s leaders at that time. And though it seems like he talks about everyone who was there, apparently there were far more people there (as detailed in this Wikipedia article). It was the last gathering of the world’s royalty before World War I, which wound up deposing many of them and shifting their countries forms of government away from royalty.
I also, particularly, like TR’s comment in the second paragraph, that “you doubtless remember Cloudberry’s remark, of which I am so fond, about ‘the infinite capacity of the human brain to withstand the introduction of knowledge.'” Now I’ll have to figure out who Cloudberry was, and find the actual remark.
It occurs to me that, in the before-times, when I had a scheduled convention upcoming, I would tell my followers about it: where I was going to be and when, in case any of my stalkers were interested in seeing me in person. The last convention I attended was Arisia in January 2020 (there was also a Mensa Gathering, Snowball, in March 2020). Well, I’m fully vaccinated, and the convention is requiring all attendees to be vaccinated, so I’m going to take my first steps out into the world next weekend at Capclave (https://www.capclave.org/capclave/capclave21/), a science fiction convention in Rockville, Maryland. I’ll be spending a lot of time at the Fantastic Books table in the dealers’ room (there are a bunch of new books to show since the last convention), which is open Friday from 3 to 6pm, Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday from 10am to 2pm. In addition to that, I’ll be on several panels, all of which are scheduled for the Truman room:
Friday at 6:00 pm: “Seductive Evils” with Martin Berman-Gorvine, Carolyn Ives Gilman, and Larry Hodges
Friday at 8:00 pm: “Why the Bumbling Sidekick?” with Suzanne Palmer, Karlo Yeager Rodriguez, and Hildy Silverman
Saturday at 5:00 pm: “Power and Social Structures” with Carolyn Ives Gilman, Darrell Schweitzer, Caias Ward, and A.C. Wise
Saturday at 11:00 pm: “Eye of Argon” with Walter H. Hunt, Hildy Silverman, and Michael A. Ventrella (unplanned, it’s an all-Fantastic Books authors event)
I hope to see a bunch of you there, to help me reintegrate with society (at least, as much of “society” as one might find at a science fiction convention).
About 4:45 this afternoon, I was in the Walgreens on Kings Highway at East 18th Street in Brooklyn. In aisle 9, I saw a slim man with a camouflage-patterned ball cap crouching down and taking a lot of things off the bottom of this over-the-counter medications shelf, putting them in a large bag (he muttered when one fell to the floor, but picked it up and put it in his bag). He also told the woman who approached him from the other end of the aisle to check behind him, make sure there was no one there—there was me, but I was looking at the shelves myself.
I walked back to the pharmacy and said to the clerk “You’ve got a shop lifter in aisle 9.” He looked confused, and then said “You have to tell them up front.” Uh, no. I don’t have to tell anyone anything. It’s your store, your job.
But I walked to the cash registers in the front, intending to leave, and heard the cashier urgently whispering to someone who I assume was a manager “Aisle 9!” The manager seemed confused, so I amplified “You’ve got a shop lifter in aisle 9.” She turned to someone else to say something, and I walked out.
I crossed Kings Highway, and then turned around to watch the front door of the store. About a minute later, the shop lifter and his accomplice (she was carrying a smaller bag, also bulging full) calmly walked out and crossed Kings Highway. They walked to East 17th Street, crossed back to the south side of Kings Highway, and continued to walk calmly but with purpose toward the subway station. I lost sight of them under the train overpass between East 16th and East 15th, and decided not to try to track them any farther.
But if the staff seems so cavalier about shop lifting, it’s no wonder that the shelves seem rather thinly stocked. Also, I don’t imagine the prices are what they ought to be, if they have to cover this amount of theft. So I’ll make sure to shop at the CVS across the street in the future.
Edited September 22:
Seven hours after I posted that on Facebook, I had 45 responses, many of which said things like “employees aren’t paid enough to stop shop lifters” and “stores don’t want to deal with violence, so they just expect it as the cost of doing business.” I therefore wrote the following response:
I was kind of sad when I wrote the original post. But now I’ve read 45 comments, and I’m weeping even more for our civilization. I’ve been annoyed that we couldn’t be bothered to stay home for two months last year, to give the virus time to die out, but simply had to go out to restaurants, had to see our friends, had to… whatever it was, that kept us out and about, and allowed the virus to keep spreading to new hosts. But after reading this thread, that all seems relatively minor.
Apparently, the consensus (at least among my Facebook friends) is that shoplifting happens, nothing can or should be done about it, we just let it occur. Now I fear that Amazon has already won, because there’s no way companies can survive with rampant shoplifting, especially when the stolen goods are then resold on Amazon (and Amazon takes a cut of every single sale). Y’all are saying Walgreens is now subsidizing Amazon by buying goods to stock the shelves for shoplifters. That’s horrifying.
And if the shoplifters know no one is going to stop them (and based on all your comments, I’m sure they do), they don’t even have a reason to carry a weapon or be violent. It’s just a job for them, a fairly simple job, apparently. New York City police apparently gave up writing traffic tickets quite a while back; I can’t imagine they’re putting any more effort into tracking down shoplifters long after they’ve left their target stores. So have we completely ceded civilization to the animals?
I could buy a stick of deodorant or a bottle of cough syrup or whatever at Walgreens for cash, and nobody but me knew what I was bringing home. But when Walgreens is gone, and I have to buy the same from Amazon, not only will Amazon know exactly what I’m buying and when, but so will my credit card company, and… (see, for example, Bud Sparhawk’s story “Delivery”).
Yeah, yeah, science fictional nightmares, get over it, no one cares….. Except I still care.
I wish I had a solution. But hey, it’s not my store, they don’t pay me to watch the stuff, so why should I care?
No cutesy time-traveling trio teaser today, just an announcement that the Kickstarter campaign for Three Time Travelers Walk Into… has hit its funding goal! That means the book will exist (and the writers are warming up their writing hands right now). Very exciting! And thank you, all, for being a part of it.
The campaign runs another 45 hours, if you want to get involved, get your name in the book as an early backer/supporter, or if you want to push us to add even more stories (that’s the first stretch goal, at $7,000).
The editor, Michael A. Ventrella, will be announcing the writers’ guidelines in the next day or two, for those of you who want to get involved as a writer. For now, start thinking about which trio of time travelers you’d write about, in which situation.
And again, thank you!
I know, I know: I seem to be a one-note song of late. But I promise, it’s almost over. At the moment, the Kickstarter campaign is a scant 70 hours away from concluding, and it’s $404 short of being funded and bringing into existence what promises to be an awesome anthology. Please, tell a friend about it; tell a writer about it (it’ll be a new market for them… if it’s funded). Once we hit that $6,000 goal (really, we’re so close), I won’t be asking you to help spread this word again.
Oh, and the time-traveling trio? Well, how about you and me and Bobby McGee, at the launch party for Three Time Travelers Walk Into…? It might seem a little self-serving, but it would totally be great! Hope you can check it out with us.
In totally unrelated news, I was at a small gathering of friends in New Jersey this weekend, and managed to catch the attached photo of the sun near sunset. It was gorgeous, and spending the day mostly outside with friends was pretty good, too!
Albert Einstein, Jack the Ripper, and Robin Williams at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation: that’s gotta be one heck of a party! Want to write the story? Three Time Travelers Walk Into… is in the final stages of its Kickstarter campaign (only five days to go), and almost fully funded! Check it out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/667435382/three-time-travelers-walk-into
How would the Miracle on Ice 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team been different if it included Billie Jean King, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Rosalind Franklin? If you think you’ve got an interesting idea, it might fit in Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, a nifty time travel anthology Fantastic Books will be publishing if the Kickstarter campaign is successful. And we’re into the home stretch: we’ve got six days left, and a scant $1,400 to go. Check it out! Tell your friends! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/667435382/three-time-travelers-walk-into
And in other news, today is publication day for On Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren, a collection that Publishers Weekly called “immersive and comprehensive.” The book is the #1 New Release in Amazon’s 20th Century Literary Criticism category, and we’re thrilled.
Con-Tinual, the never-ending electronic science fiction convention, recently hosted a panel discussion with part of the crew behind the forthcoming anthology (and current Kickstarter project) Three Time Travelers Walk Into…. Listen in as we discuss time travel, where authors get our ideas, the difference between short and long fiction, and much more. Participants include panel host and author Gail Z. Martin, editor Michael A. Ventrella, authors David Gerrold, Jonathan Maberry, Jody Lynn Nye, and Leslye Penelope, and me. The video is on YouTube, the campaign is on Kickstarter.
George Custer, Erwin Rommel, and Hannibal fighting at the Alamo. Would the outcome have been any different? Want to write that story? Check out Three Time Travelers Walk Into… on Kickstarter. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/667435382/three-time-travelers-walk-into