Non-convention appearance

This is a new concept (at least, for this blog, though I’ve done it before I had a blog): I’m leaving town tomorrow morning for the weekend, but not for an actual convention. I’m headed to Texas for an American Mensa Committee meeting (that is, American Mensa’s Board of Directors). So, no panels or lectures, no dealers’ table, no meet-the-pros party. It’ll be a working weekend, but I’ll be traveling to a convention city for it.

Should I vote for someone who typos her own name?

In today’s mail, I received a mailing from Nicole Malliotakis for Mayor. The mailing—an 8.5″ x 11″ letter and a 4″ x 9″ card—was addressed to me as a voter who is not enrolled in a political party, urging me to go to the polls on Tuesday, because unaffiliated voters apparently are allowed to vote in the Reform Party’s primary. Nicole Malliotakis is looking for write-in votes in her campaign to get on the ballot, because it appears that the only candidate currently on the ballot is Sal Albanese.

I applauded the concept of the mailing. I’ve long had a problem with the two-party stranglehold on political power in the United States, since neither the Republicans nor the Democrats completely represent my views, so anything (like this) which may put a wedge into that firmly closed door barring other parties gets my stamp of approval.

Unfortunately, then I actually read the mailing. Toward the bottom of the letter, she urges readers to visit her web site… and then typos the url! Yep, the body of the letter directs me to http://www.NiccoleforMayor2017.com [sic]. Unfortunately, her name (and the url) are spelled with one “c”, not two.

Then, on the card which shows how to mark my ballot and how to vote, in two separate places (once on each side), she tells me I am “elligible” to vote in the Reform Party Primary. Again, a doubled letter where there shouldn’t be.

Finally, in the instructions for marking my ballot, number 4 reads “Any other mark or writing, or any erasure made on this for voting will void this entire than there are vacancies to be filled, your ballot will be void for that public office or party position.” That’s a letter-for-letter transcription of the card, and yes, there are definitely some words missing in the middle of that sentence.

So what do I do? I really like the idea of a write-in candidate campaigning for votes. (However, in the spirit of full disclosure, she’s also running in the Republican primary against Rocky De La Fuente and someone who didn’t submit any information to the New York City voters’ guide.) On the other hand, I think someone spending this much money for this mailing, who wants me to vote for her for mayor of New York City, ought to have at least hired a freelance editor to look over these few words, to make sure they were correct.

Edited September 9th to add: Credit where credit is due. I emailed the above to Nicole’s campaign headquarters, and received the following response: “Thank you for your feedback, Ian. We now have an opening on the team for a proof reader since we terminated the one who worked on this mailing. I hope you will give us a second chance to make a good impression.”

#malliotakis #election2017 #nycmayor #editing

Newest anthology appearance

71emxibtxnlI had a great time this weekend at Mensa of Northeast New York’s RechaRGe Regional Gathering. And eight hours of sleep is about average, right? I mean when those eight hours were spread out over three nights? (Yeah, I didn’t get much sleep.)

After my talk at the RG (on alternate history), one of my friends was looking at the books I’d brought to show and sell, and commented that I hadn’t said anything about one of my recent anthology appearances. I thought I had, but after that conversation, I realized I couldn’t remember making the announcement, so here it is:

The anthology is TV Gods: Summer Programming, the second book in the series, edited by Jeff Young and Lee C. Hillman. Published by Fortress Publishing, the concept behind the anthology is “Your favorite TV shows done by the gods themselves.”

My story “Godding About and Sleeping Around: Zeus’ Conversation with Tantalus” combines the story of Tantalus with the program How I Met Your Mother. I’d seen the first few episodes of HIMYM when it first aired, but then gave up. For some reason, when I heard the series finale was going to air, I watched it, too. Then I read something about the show, which talked its non-linear form of storytelling, caught a few reruns, and then I was hooked. I watched the whole series through reruns, so I saw bits and pieces of it in completely random order, but really got hooked on it. And when Jeff told me there was a place for me in the anthology, I knew that was the show I had to use.

Among the other authors in the book is the comic writing duo of Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano. I published Brian and Chris’s novel, The Biggest Bounty, in May (actually, it debuted at Balticon, the same weekend that TV Gods debuted, so I may have been distracted from this appearance of mine as a writer).

So, though I didn’t say it earlier, this is my third original anthology appearance in less than a year. It’s available now. And there are some great stories in it for your reading pleasure.

#monny #tvgods #mensa

Amazing Stories likes Science Fiction for the Throne

1515410250Reviewer Ira Nayman writes “The stories are expertly crafted, highly entertaining and perfect for the stated purpose.… Science Fiction for the Throne: One Sitting Reads is not a book to try and read in one sitting (as I largely did). It is what I sometimes refer to as ‘a dipping book:’ for maximum effect, you should read a story or two here, a story or two there, a story or two somewhere else.” For the full review, see this link.

RechaRGe this coming weekend

RechaRGe 2017 has posted the schedule for this weekend’s Regional Gathering in Albany. It’s another convention weekend for me: one of those where I’m not chained to my table in the dealers’ room!

I’m on the schedule twice: at 10am Saturday is the RVC1 Meet and Greet (my first as RVC). We’ll be talking about the business of Mensa, what’s been happening, what may be happening in the future, and all the other stuff involved in keeping our organization viable, exciting, and fun.

At 11am Sunday I’ll be talking about Alternate History. Same title as the talk I gave a fortnight ago at Washington’s RG, but public lecturing is an evolving art form, and the talk will be different, so if you were bleary eyed then, or just couldn’t make it (or weren’t at that RG), here’s your newest chance! Should be fun. (The title of the talk is “CSA wins; Nixon defeats Kennedy; Leonov first man on Moon: Rewriting the World with Alternate History,” although the description has changed between the time the program was finalized and now.)

Hope to see a lot of you up in Albany!

#mensa #monny #recharge

Analog likes these bounty hunters

1515410153In the September/October 2017 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, reviewer Don Sakers takes a look at The Biggest Bounty by Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano (which Fantastic Books published in May). Don’s review says, in part: “Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano are mad geniuses.… The Biggest Bounty is… something of a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Grand Theft Auto, with a good helping of crazy humor thrown in. The best comparison I can think of is some of the wackier works of Ron Goulart or Christopher Moore.Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano are mad geniuses.… The Biggest Bounty is… something of a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Grand Theft Auto, with a good helping of crazy humor thrown in. The best comparison I can think of is some of the wackier works of Ron Goulart or Christopher Moore.… If you’re in the mood for a madcap ride through the galaxy’s seamy underworld, this is the book for you.”

Pandemic this weekend

I’m ready for an RG. It’s nearly a month since I was last at a convention (that long?), and more than that since the last Mensa convention. So I’m eager for Metropolitan Washington Mensa’s Pandemic (starting tomorrow)! And it occurs to me that, while I usually comment on upcoming science fiction conventions (because in my mind, they’re work — enjoyable work, but work), I usually don’t comment up upcoming Mensa conventions (because they’ve been mostly social). But since I’m now an AMC member, I really ought to give the Mensa conventions equal weight.

So, this weekend: if you’re looking for me, you won’t find me tethered to the Fantastic Books table in the dealers’ room (no dealers’ room), and I won’t be on a slew of panels, or any other such business things. But I will be giving a lecture: “CSA wins; Nixon defeats Kennedy; Leonov first man on Moon: Rewriting the World With Alternate History.” (It’s my new talk on alternate history.) I’ll be on at 9 in the morning (yes, the other 9 o’clock; the one most of us tend to ignore on the weekends) Saturday in Belmont Ballroom IV. If you’re there (and awake), I hope to see you!

Living in New York City

A couple years ago, I realized that, though I live in New York City, I wasn’t really taking advantage of that situation. So I made a conscious decision to say yes to more opportunities to experience this city.

Last night marks the culmination of that campaign: it was the eighth day in the last ten in which I had some “leave the house, see people, and do things” event written on my calendar. (Now I have three days with no such plans, the rest and prepare for the convention this coming weekend.)

It wasn’t even a specific effort to fill up the week; it just worked out that way, which seems to me to be the way it should be.

Friday (ten days ago), there was a Greater New York Mensa walking tour of Roosevelt Island. I’d never ridden the tram or visited the island before, so that was great (the only down-side: we got to the FDR memorial park just after it closed, so I’ll have to go back for that). [I’d had nothing Thursday and Tuesday, but Monday and Wednesday of that week were a movie in Bryant Park and GNYM’s monthly trivia night.]

Sunday (eight days ago), I went to Southern Connecticut Mensa’s annual picnic. That’s not a New York event, but it is a direct consequence of my deciding to say yes to more things (in this case, agreeing to run for RVC). That picnic was a last-minute decision (and the other offer, to go to Maine Mensa’s picnic, I had to regretfully turn down — six hours each way on the road was a bit far, but I’ll get back to Maine yet!), with a nice crowd of people, a good mix of those I’d known and those I met.

Monday last week was the movie in Bryant Park. I wound up staying home (rain!), but I’m still counting that day, because I had planned to go.

Tuesday was a new event: a group of GNYM members (and friends) went to a monthly puzzle night at a bar in Manhattan. That came about because the previous week had been our monthly trivia night, and some of us were talking about increasing the frequency from once a month, because with 20 people at trivia, we had to split up into three or four teams. Maria found the puzzle event, which was really tough (the puzzles took three or four brains to figure out and solve). Checking their web site now, they haven’t yet posted our results (moue of disappointment). After we finished puzzling through the evening, half the gang went on to Katz’s Deli (reminding me of Mensa events past, when the end of the event wasn’t the end of the evening). Oh, and on the way to the event, I happened past an interesting pop-up exhibit on “The Mulberry Street Gang,” photos, quotes, cartoons from several great thinkers of the turn of the last century.

Wednesday was a dinner in a teeny apartment in the West Village, at which I only knew two of the other attendees going in, but from which I now know several people. Nice food, great conversation, wonderful time on the roof of the building, watching the sun set and the lights come on. I was there because I’d met the host two summers back at the Bryant Park movie (see above).

Thursday was Maria’s birthday party at a midtown loft. An interesting collection of people from several different circles of friends (mostly Mensans and Burners), and I heard a fascinating story about life in the Navy.

Friday was my annual summer pilgrimage to see the fireworks at Coney Island. A Mensan friend had never been before, so I planned an outing to see Coney Island and the fireworks, and wound up with a nice bunch of people, three of whom were new to Coney Island (three!). We saw Coney Island, ate at Nathan’s, sat on the beach for the fireworks, it was a great night.

Saturday was a rest day. Gotta have those once in a while.

Sunday I had to skip GNYM’s beach day (disappointing) to go to Northern New Jersey Mensa’s annual picnic (it’s the picnicking time of year). Again, a great crowd of people; I only knew a few before the event, and many more after.

Last night was the penultimate Bryant Park movie of the season, North by Northwest (which I’d never seen before).

So now I’m sitting at home, working, waiting for UPS to deliver a couple of boxes of books (some of which have to go out in the mail tomorrow), and prepping for Metropolitan Washington Mensa’s “Pandemic” Regional Gathering this weekend (I’ll be giving my new talk on alternate history Saturday morning). I’m looking at the rain out the window, thinking I may finally be getting the hang of New York. (Oh, and next Monday’s Bryant Park movie, the last of the season, is Dirty Dancing.)

So, how’s your week going?

Electronic Time On My Hands

A press release from Fantastic Books:

1515400522In February, Fantastic Books published Daniel M. Kimmel’s newest novel, Time On My Hands, to rave reviews. Now Fantastic Books announces that the electronic edition of the book—which Publishers Weekly called layered, emotional, and thought-provoking—is available at all major retailers.

Time On My Hands is Kimmel’s quirky take on time travel, lost love, divided loyalties, and the eternal search for really good scotch. The story investigates the myriad time travel troubles over which most science fiction readers have pondered, but it presents a fresh take on the time travel novel by adhering to the Aristotelian Unity of Time; that is, all the action takes place within one day.

In the book, Professor Price tells the story of how he came to be in possession of a time travel device (which he may or may not have invented), and how he found his future hiding in his past. But the discovery of time travel will necessitate far more than just building a really cool machine: it’ll take the efforts of many people to figure out how to talk about time travel, the requirements necessary to be an ethical time traveler, and just whose office it is when my yesterday becomes your tomorrow without the courtesy of a knock on the door.

Film critic and professor Daniel M. Kimmel wrote for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette for 25 years, and was the Boston correspondent for Variety and the “Movie Maven” for the Jewish Advocate. He has taught film and media classes at Emerson College, Boston University, and Suffolk University. His book on the history of FOX TV, The Fourth Network, received the Cable Center Book Award. His other books include a history of DreamWorks, The Dream Team, and I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind the Scenes of the Great Romantic Comedies. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester (where much of Time On My Hands is set) and his law degree from Boston University.

Reviews of Time On My Hands:

“This layered contemporary science fiction tale takes its time unfolding, but eventually reveals a moving emotional core.… explores the technical, ethical, and emotional ramifications of his device and his travels in entertaining and thought-provoking ways, with satisfying results.” —Publishers Weekly

“Instead of avoiding the time paradox, this book grabs it by the time loops and breaks it open, examining the ethical implications of using time travel.” —John DeNardo, Kirkus Reviews

“Here’s Daniel M. Kimmel again, and time travel will never be the same.… In Time On My Hands, his two satirical targets are time travel and academia. The result is a fun and funny tale.… Kimmel addresses just about every question about time travel that has ever emerged in science fiction.… Kimmel knows his stuff, both as an academic and as a longtime scholar of science fiction. His characters ring true, and he ties together all the many threads of the plot into a satisfying whole. The book is a breezy, enjoyable read, and… it’ll definitely give you more than its share of chuckles.” —Don Sakers, Analog Science Fiction and Fact

Fantastic Books’ newest: Allen Steele’s The Doppler Effect

A press release from Fantastic Books:

1515410293Three-time Hugo Award-winner Allen Steele is known for his meticulously planned and plotted hard science fiction, and especially his Coyote sequence of interstellar colonization. But like most science fiction writers, his interests extend beyond the strict confines of one genre. He is a fan of mysteries, tales of suspense, and the alternate history concepts of “what might have been.”

In The Doppler Effect and Other Stories, Steele stretches into those other genres with three short novels that break the bonds of strict adherence to genre labels. They tell stories of yesterdays that might have been, and of todays that ought not to be. In his introduction, Steele says “this is a collection of three stories, each a short novel in itself. Strictly speaking, they’re science fiction, but that label doesn’t describe them accurately. The truth is, when I wrote these stories, I was deliberately playing with a different genre: mystery-suspense fiction.”

● “The Doppler Effect”: What’s an astronomer to do when he’s been forced out of his teaching job on trumped-up charges of cultural insensitivity? If he’s Theodore Reggs, aka T-Rex, his solution may involve hijacking a deep space probe and planning an alien invasion.…

● “Frogheads”: When a young man disappears on an alien planet, the reason might not be nefarious. But returning him to his family could entail other, unforeseen dangers.…

● “Einstein’s Shadow:” While fleeing the Nazis aboard a massive flying boat, Albert Einstein has several surprising encounters when he teams up with a New York private eye and a Scotland Yard detective who may not be quite what he seems.…

Mainstream publishing confines itself to strict genre labels in the never-ending quest to publish the next best-seller. And mainstream bookstores force adherence to those labels in order to clearly shelve and market new books.

Small press publishing, however, has the freedom to stretch, to break through those walls. Thus, Fantastic Books is thrilled to be publishing Allen Steele’s latest, genre-crossing collection. The Doppler Effect and Other Stories—and all Fantastic Books titles—are available through the usual online retailers, and distributed via Ingram for those physical bookstores willing to take a risk on something that’s very hard to classify, but very easy to enjoy.

The Doppler Effect and Other Stories
by Allen Steele
$12.99, 164 pages, trade paperback
ISBN: 978-1-5154-1029-4