First Lady Barbara Bush (1925-2018)

41bushbFirst Lady Barbara Bush died April 17, 2018, at the age of 92. Born June 8, 1925, she is the second woman to be both wife and mother of US Presidents, and the first to live long enough to see her son retired from the Presidency.

I’ll leave the longer obituaries to everyone else, and instead focus on the aspects of her life that impinge on the books I’ve written.

Barbara Pierce Bush is fifth on the list of longest-lived First Ladies, at the age of 92 years, 313 days. She is also fourth on the list of longest-lived Presidential mothers (she passed her mother-in-law on that list in October 2016).

She was part of the longest-married Presidential couple. Twenty-year-old World War II veteran George H.W. Bush married 19-year-old Barbara Pierce on January 6, 1945. They had six children between 1946 and 1959 (one of whom died as a child). George took office as President days after their 44th anniversary. Their eldest son, George W., took office as President twelve years later. They are only the second Presidential couple (the first to both live long enough) to see their son elected President. They are also only the second couple to live long enough to see their son retire from the Presidency (the first, Joseph and Rose Kennedy, lived through their son’s assassination in office). Number two on that list of long-married Presidential couples are Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who married 18 months after the Bushes. Number three on the list are Gerald and Betty Ford, who were married 58 years, 72 days.

Barbara Bush was the last living First Lady who was born in New York (there were nine: New York has supplied more First Ladies than any other state). She was the second oldest woman to become First Lady (she was 63 year 226 days old when she became First Lady).

Barbara Bush was the tenth woman to be both Second Lady and First Lady, but only the fifth whose husband was elected both Vice President and President, and the only one to be Second Lady for eight full years (the first Presidential term of office ran from April 1789 to March 1793).

She is survived by her husband, George H.W.; sons George W., Neil, Marvin, and Jeb; daughter, Dorothy Bush Koch; 17 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum has set up this Barbara Pierce Bush Memorial Site.

Science fictional predictions

I posted this on Facebook, and got a gratifying number of responses, so I’m spreading it around even more.

What prompted this was that I was watching Star Trek II on television. In the movie, Khan mentions that the ship on which he was traveling, the Botany Bay, was launched in 1996. As those of us who lived through 1996 know, the DY100 class of starship has not yet been invented.

Further mulling reminded me of Back to the Future, Part 2, in which Marty and Doc travel to the future: October 2015. Well, that’s now more than two years in our past, and we still don’t have commercial hover-conversions.

And then I thought of 2001 and 2010 (although I don’t recall the dates being mentioned explicitly in the text of the books/movies; only in the titles).

So my question to you is what other speculative fiction includes explicit predictions of what the world will look like in the future (as of when the novel was written/film was filmed/etc.), which are set in a year that has (as of today) passed? Missed predictions are what I’m expecting, but I’d be thrilled with accurate predictions, too. Thanks!

Convention Weekend: Heliosphere

heliosphere_logo_wptheme5This weekend is Heliosphere, the second iteration of the new convention in Tarrytown (Westchester), New York. As always, I’ll be spending a lot of time in the dealers’ room (at the Fantastic Books table — the room is open Friday, 4-10pm; Saturday, 11am-6pm; and Sunday, 11am-3pm), but I’ll also be on three panels:

Friday, 5pm in Ballroom 4: “Solicited Advice: Editors Share Their Thoughts” with Bjorn Haessler, Mike McPhail, Alex Shvartsman, and Michael A. Ventrella.

Saturday, 11:30am in Ballroom 4: “Dealing with Rejection as a New (or Even Old) Writer)” with Keith R.A. DeCandido, John Grant, April Grey, Barbara Krasnoff, and Mark Oshiro.

Sunday, 12:30pm in Ballroom 2: “The Making of an Alternate History World” with Teel James Glenn, Carol Gyzander, and Elektra Hammond.

Hope to see some of you there!

Asimov’s likes Up The Rainbow

casper rainbow thumbnailPeter Heck’s “On Books” column (in the March/April 2018 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction) review Up the Rainbow: the Complete Short Fiction of Susan Casper. The review says, in part, “…the stories deliver a powerful kick; Casper had the ability to bring the stuff of dreams and nightmares vividly into contact with everyday life.… If you’re a lover of short fiction, this is one that belongs on your must-read list.… Michael Swanwick and Andy Duncan add perceptive appreciations. When reading the anthology, don’t skip these as they offer a deeper insight into both her personality and her art.”

Index and links for episode 2 of New York State of Mensa

I’m the guest on episode 2 of “New York State of Mensa,” the podcast of Greater New York Mensa, hosted by Sara London and Carmen Alexander. In the episode, we talk about science fiction, and I realized that I throw around a lot of names and titles, so I thought it’d be nice to actually list them here for those who might be interested.

Note, I wasn’t intentionally slighting anyone or any work by not mentioning them: this was an unprepared conversation, so those I mention were the names that came to mind first. And specifically, in the discussion of Mensans who write science fiction, I apologize for not being able to come up with names in the moment. Also, I’m happy to add more to this list when I remember them (or when you contact me and say “Hey, fool, you forgot to mention me!”).

Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine —
Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine —
Isaac Asimov —
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley —
Rauschenberg museum— I misspoke. It’s actually The Rosenbach,
John Campbell, Astounding/Analog
Hugo Gernsback, Amazing
Arkwright by Allen Steele —
Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt —
The Red Carnival by Susan Casper —
Up the Rainbow by Susan Casper —
Gardner Dozois —
Robert Heinlein —
Arthur Clarke —
Spider Robinson —
Lois McMaster Bujold —
Robert Sawyer —
Geoffrey Landis, “A Walk in the Sun” —
The Martian by Andy Weir —
Shariann Lewitt —
Susan Shwartz —
White Wing by “Gordon Kendall (will be re-released by Fantastic Books this spring, as by Shariann Lewitt and Susan Shwartz)
Harry Potter phenomenon —
Carren Strock —
China Mieville —

Other Mensans who write science fiction, but whose names I couldn’t come up with in the discussion, include:
Arlan Andrews —
Fran Cartier —

In addition, Sara mentioned several titles, including:
Black Mirror
Le Morte d’Arthur’Arthur
“I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison —,_and_I_Must_Scream
“Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch” by Philip K. Dick —
Esperanza Rising
“Living It Is the Best Revenge” by Ian Randal Strock (I’ve posted an electronic version of the story; see the bottom of this page for links) —

And Carmen mentioned:
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan —
Sarah J. Maas —
Mphasis (the newsletter of Greater New York Mensa) —
Mensa Bulletin (the monthly magazine of American Mensa) —
Dr. Who

Library Journal likes The Red Carnival

Fantastic Books is publishing Susan Casper’s The Red Carnival next week (ISBN 978-1-5154-1033-1). Library Journal‘s review of the book is just out (in their February 15th issue). After describing the plot, their Verdict is “At times dark and unsettling, this previously unpublished novel by the late Casper (who died in 2017) holds the same wonderful prose and love of the uncanny as her published short fiction.” Woo hoo!

A couple of recent, interesting links

In lieu of writing something interesting, I present several recent articles that caught my eye:

Why You Should Surround Yourself With More Books Than You’ll Ever Have Time to Read

New York State of Mensa: Greater New York Mensa’s first podcast. The hosts are wonderful, bubbly, and real. They make the reader want to meet and get to know them. (And I can’t fault the fact that they mentioned me no fewer than four times ). Actually, my only quibble is with Sara’s pronunciation of the organization’s name: I always pronounce Mensa with an “s”, but she uses a “z” sound for that fourth letter.

Here’s the Perfect Thing to Say When Someone is Rude

Amazon discount notifications: Science Fiction for the Throne (list $14.99; available for $6.73: Ranking the First Ladies (list $32.99; available for $19.95:

Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams Named SFWA Solstice Award Recipients: Sheila hired me as the editorial assistant at Asimov’s when she was Managing Editor and Gardner was editor. They’re wonderful, and wonderfully deserving, people.

Lock of George Washington’s Hair Discovered at Union College

Quick Visit to Philadelphia

Back from a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia for an even briefer visit home before heading up to New England.

I had a great time! Thank you, Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (, for being a wonderful audience: attentive, interested, and enthusiastic, you made me feel very welcome. And thank you especially Lee and Diane Weinstein for setting it up and chauffering me about. Also, to my author Tom Purdom for being in the audience so I had an example to point to. Dinner before the meeting was very nice, and hanging out talking afterwards was just what I needed: after a turn on stage, it takes me a while to calm down, and it’s a lot more fun in a group. There was also an unexpected blast from the past: someone brought a copy of the December 1986 issue of Games magazine, which was my second paid writing appearance (my first was in the March 1985 issue).

For those of who weren’t there, it was my first free-form talk. Normally, when I’m giving a lecture or solo presentation, I have a specific topic (the Presidents, how to get published, etc.). But Friday’s talk was just me, talking about my career on both sides of the editorial desk, people I’ve met, writing and publishing in general.… I enjoyed it, and I think (hope) my audience did, too.

Today, since I was in Philadelphia, I spent some time playing tourist. I visited Benjamin Franklin’s grave, walked past the Philadelphia Mint, visited the National Constitution Center (had a very nice talk with the sales staff in the gift shop; apparently they used to have my books available, and will hopefully be reordering them), visited the Liberty Bell, walked past Independence Hall, and saw the portrait exhibit in the Second Bank of the United States. Then, it being after noon, I went to the Rosenbach Museum, which I’d never heard of. Darrell Schweitzer gave me a pass to see the Frankenstein and Dracula exhibit, which is just now wrapping up (manuscript pages from Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and others). I was also in time for the tour of the building (the wonderful docent Martha was incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining), and I saw the Of Two Minds exhibit (about artistic collaborative teams, including Herbert and Lou Hoover!), which is just opening. The Rosenbach is named for the two brothers who were rare book dealers in the early 1900s, and I’m glad to have learned of its existence. Recommended.

I took 62 photos, but I don’t have time to go through and edit them now. Instead, I posted a few on my Twitter feed while I was there. I may post more sometime later.