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

Finally home, to two good reviews

After nearly a fortnight on the road, to Florida for the AG, and then to Massachusetts for Readercon, I’ve finally returned home, and waiting for me were two good reviews of Up the Rainbow: the Complete Short Fiction of Susan Casper. Makes coming home pretty nice!

Publishers Weekly says: “This collection… showcases both [Susan Casper’s] talent and the potential… that was lost when she abruptly stopped writing.… The completed short stories are worthy reading for any fan of science fiction or darker fantasy.… there’s a lot here for genre fans to enjoy.”casper rainbow thumbnail

Paul Di Filippo in Locus writes: “It is a testament to the high regard in which [Susan Casper] was held that this commemorative volume was so quickly assembled and issued.… The opening three stories—her first sale was in 1983—serve almost as a mini-trilogy of horror or the Weird, showing Casper’s interest in eruptions of the uncanny into everyday life. Exemplars like Robert Bloch and Lisa Tuttle come to mind.… the trip reports—a longstanding fannish tradition—reveal Casper’s zest for life, a keen observer’s eye, and a flair for journalistic concision. These travelogues show a whimsical acceptance of the world’s pleasures, with no itchy unease or greed for more than some simple relaxations in novel settings can provide.… As [Michael] Swanwick has observed [in his introduction], Casper’s career was relatively compact: from 1983 to 2003. At that endpoint, for unexplained and perhaps ultimately inexplicable reasons, with many potential tales still at her fingertips, she ceased writing, although during her final fourteen years she still had many opportunities to do so. If one can hazard a guess as to why, based on the contents of this book, I’d say that Casper felt she had plumbed most of the rewards that writing fiction at a journeyman level could provide, and then made the decision that ramping up to master class was just not an effort she was willing to make. It’s a decision that others before her have chosen, and one that requires self-knowledge, sternness of character, and a willingness to let go of unrealistic daydreams. All qualities which the stories she did give us reveal she possessed to repletion.”

At Readercon, with Gardner Dozois’ able help, we sold out of all the copies of Up the Rainbow that I had. At the same time, Fantastic Books launched Science Fiction for the Throne, with the help of editors Tom Easton and Judith K. Dial. We did not sell out of those books, but made a nice dent in the pile I had on hand.

Still in Florida, thinking about Readercon

I’m still in Florida after American Mensa‘s Annual Gathering, where I spent a lot of time in meetings (since I just took office as RVC1), and presented two different talks (one on the Presidents, one on alternate history), but I still had a wonderful, nearly sleepless, time. In fact, I didn’t bother sleeping at all the last night, and the photo below, of sunrise Sunday morning, is the result. Taken from the beach at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, it was a great finale to a week of spending time with friends and making new friends.

I’m spending a couple of days relaxing in Florida, but I’ve got another convention coming up in a few days: Readercon. As always at Readercon, I’m not on much programming. In fact, I’m only on one panel: “Deep Time,” Saturday at 2pm in room 6, with Glenn Grant, Jeff Hecht, Sioban Krzywicki, Tom Purdom, and Vandana Singh. I think I’m also scheduled for a kaffeeklatsch. But beyond that, of course I’ll be in the dealers’ room at the Fantastic Books table, launching two books: Up the Rainbow: the Complete Short Fiction of Susan Casper edited by Gardner Dozois; and Science Fiction for the Throne: One Sitting Reads edited by Tom Easton and Judith K. Dial. At the moment, it looks like I won’t have copies of SFftT until Saturday. Hope to see some of you there!


My Schedule at the AG

Normally, I post my upcoming convention schedules only for science fiction conventions, but as my role has changed (as of July 1st, I am RVC1 of American Mensa), and I have a very full schedule planned, I’m doing the same for the upcoming American Mensa Annual Gathering (July 5-9 in Hollywood, Florida). If you’re also going to be attending, and are looking for me, I’ll by at the following:

Wednesday, July 5, 6pm: AMC Chair Reception, in Diplomat 3

Thursday, July 6, 9am-5pm: American Mensa Committee Meeting, in the Regency Ballroom

Thursday, July 6, 7:30-8:45pm: I’ll be presenting a talk on the Presidents and Presidency of the United States, entitled “Any President But Donald Trump,” in Regency Ballroom 3

Friday, July 7, 9-11am: American Mensa Annual Business Meeting, in Regency Ballroom 2

Friday, July 7, 1:30-2:45pm: Region 1 Meet & Greet, in Room 216 – Even if you’re not looking specifically for me, I invite and urge all members of Region 1 to attend this session (Region 1 includes all of New England, all of New York State except Western New York, and Northern New Jersey).

Friday, July 7, 7-10pm: I’ll be attending the Gala Dinner (tickets required)

Saturday, July 8, 12n-1:15pm: I’ll be presenting a talk on Alternate History, entitled “How I Came to Write ‘Shall Not Perish from the Earth’,” in Atlantic Ballroom 3

Other than these scheduled events, I hope to be around and about the convention. I’m arriving in Florida Tuesday afternoon (and looking for a good place and a good crew to see the fireworks somewhere), and leaving the AG Sunday afternoon. Hope to see a lot of you there!

Good review of forthcoming Susan Casper collection

casper rainbow thumbnailThe newest edition of True Review just posted, and in it, publisher Andrew Andrews says some very nice things about The Complete Short Fiction of Susan Casper, which Fantastic Books is publishing in July. In part, he says: “Up the Rainbow is a very gorgeous single-author collection from the unfortunately late Susan Casper, and the SF field has lost a Talent. Fortunately her husband, Gardner, was able to collect her fiction and nonfiction into this massive and very worthwhile volume, reminding us all that Susan could certainly shine.… This collection is proof that Susan remains an uncelebrated, underappreciated Tall Talent.”

Nice review for Fantastic Books’ “Non-Parallel Universes” by Bud Sparhawk

151541020xThe new edition of True Review has been posted, and in it, publisher Andrew Andrews writes of Bud Sparhawk’s new collection: “[Sparhawk] writes some amazing stories.… In ‘Astronomic Distance/Geologic Time,’ Sparhawk sends us on a journey as far as distance and time can stretch… The story itself makes you realize how small, trivial and possibly soon-to-be-forgotten our own era will be.”

Time to grab the limited-edition chapbook with SFftT

There’s one scant week left to get in on Fantastic Books’ first Kickstarter project. The book is funded, and we’re more than half-way to our first stretch goal, which will add in a super-special, limited edition chapbook for everyone pledging $14 or more (bascially, those who are in for a printed copy of the book, or more).

I’d love to have a reason to produce that chapbook: it didn’t feel right to have any of my own stories in the book (or Tom’s or Judith’s), but this chapbook makes it feel okay. And Tom’s is a really great story, and Judith’s is a fascinating essay.

So please, help me tell everyone we know about the project. All it takes is a “share” click. Thanks!