Monday, February 05, 2007

New Website and Blog up

My website is all shiny and redecorated, and available at I've moved a few of the posts from here to there, and will be posting all new information there in the future. So please feel free to drop by and visit!
This blog site will stay up (without any new posts) for a few weeks or a month, and then it will go down.



Monday, January 01, 2007

December reading recommendations and musings

December News:
Well, lets start with November news, which was wet (the wettest month, ever, on record in the Seattle area), and ended with snowstorms. Here, one of our two backyard gargoyles looks almost as happy about staying home as we were about driving on icy roads.
So on to December. We love the holiday season. The house is full of Christmas music and we're shopping and wrapping and planning and lighting and singing.
And yet we're spending some of our evenings planning the summer already (family reunion, family wedding, other trips), while wrapping Christmas gifts. It feels very odd.
I feel like I have a gift, though, in the November elections. At least temporarily we have a balance of power again, and a chance for good conversation.
Working on my fourth novel. I had a goal of 30,000 words in November, and made it. I'm on target to make 30,000 in December, so far. The holidays will make that challenging.
I wish the very best holiday season to anyone who stops by to read this. And speaking of reading, here are my
December Reading Recommendations:
Throne of Jade, by Naomi Novick, the sequel to a book I recommended last month. I'm on the third one now, and this series is so good I'm using it as a carrot - if I write 1,000 words on my book, then I can sit down and read Naomi's work.
Labrynth, by Kate Mosse. I didn't really read this - I listened to it on tape. There were points where I sat and turned my car off, leaving the keys in the ignition, and just sat outside my house for fifteen minutes before I could bear to turn it off. Really. It was read by Donata Peters, who had a fabulous way of making the characters come alive. Be warned! This is a LONG book, whether you read it or listen to it. Worth the time, though.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Some contemplation of ancient cultures

There is a very interesting article in this week's Nature magazine about a greek calculating machine, the Antikythera mechanism, which modeled the movements of the heavens. Although you can't get to the article unless you're a subscriber, some information is available on the wikipedia. Pretty cool. I've been studying Mayan astronomy for the novel I'm currently working on, and it's quite interesting how there are still a lot of people (not generally the scientists and archeologists, BTW), claiming that Mayans couldn't possibly have developed thier level of astronomy on thier own and arguing for everything from divine intervention to alien intervention ( different are those?).

Both cultures provide reminders of how sophisticated the ancients were. And if you think about it even on the surface, they could, after all, see the stars. I can barely pick out five or twn at night from my suburban backyard.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

October News and Reading Recommendations

October News (a late capture from my website):

The most exciting news for October is clearly the new cover art for THE SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA:

The art is by Stephan Martiniere, the same artist that Tor used for Building Harlequin's Moon. I'm pleased that it captures the desolate feel of Fremont, the planet I created for the book. Note that the hardcover can be pre-ordered at now.
The other news is that I'm getting much more serious about a few things: global warming, and understanding Web 2.0. That will eventually translate to re-doing this page to be more interactive and blog-like. My model is probably Tobias S. Buckell's page. Except I can't imagine looking as cool as Toby. Anyway, I'm also playing with a livejournal and a global warming blog (links to all above). Both are time-sinks, so we'll see how long at least the live journal stays up, but it's a rather nifty way to stay in touch with people.

Last bit of news - I traveled to Alaska in September, and fell in love with the state. It is breathtaking. I must have taken hundreds of pictures in just two days. A wild and beautiful and largely unspoiled place. Nice to be surrounded by so little concrete.

October Reading Recommendations:
Naomi Novick: Her Majesty's Dragon

Easily the best dragon book I've read in years. Naomi has a wonderful voice, and the story is exactly familiar enough to comfortable in and different enough to delight. I loved this book. An easy fun, read. And not easy to put down.

Vernor Vinge: Rainbow's End

Talk about a futurist's dream of a book! Vernor packed credible, fascinating near-future world building into every single page of this book. As icing on the cake, he added good characters and an interesting story. Note - this is a book you savor, and think about. It wasn't a page-turner for me; it was a sheer joy. Even if you don't regularly read science fiction, if you want to understand a very plausible future this book will help you. I've met Vernor a number of times, and he is one of the brightest intellectual lights on this planet. It shows in this book.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

September reading recommendation, news, and musings

Updating my web page today, saving the old content here.

September News:
Nothing terribly new. The World Science Fiction Convention last weekend was probably the most well-run Worldcon I've been to. Kudos the army of volunteer staff and just plain volunteers that pulled that off - the scheduling was great, the panels they picked for me were interesting, directions to everywhere worked, and even the food lines were short. Heck, even the elevator lines were short.
Worldcons are always work for a writer, but on top of that, I had a LOT of fun.
And a highlight - my friend David Levine won a Hugo Award for Best Short Story. I don't remember the last time I saw anyone look quite that happy, and David deserved every little bit of that. It was also nice to see another David, David Hartwell from Tor Books, win a Hugo for Best Editor.
September Musings:
Still spending much time musing about global warming. I think we've radically underestimated the affects, and may have radically underestimated our chances of doing much about it. Except, of course, we have to try.
The Global Warming panel at Worldcon was packed. Panelists Gregory Benford and Kim Stanley Robinson did a great job. At one point, a skeptic stood up to contest that it was happening at all, and essentially got a cold welcome from the crowd (the panelists were politer).

September Reading Recommendations:
I finished Steven Barnes' Great Sky Woman on my way to and from the convention. He's one of those writers who just doesn't quiet get the acclaim he should. Some day he'll hit big time, and his backlist will reappear. Anyway, Great Sky Woman was quite good. Be patient though, it starts out a little slow. Just let yourself relax into his world building, which is wonderfully detailed, and take it as a meditation while you wait for the tension to start quite a few chapters in. Trust Steven - he delivers.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Global Voices Online

A cool link...TC sent me this today.

A New Venture

I've started something new, at least for me. I seem to hear about, or read about, global warming / climate change almost every day. I thought I'd experiment and start writing down what I see and hear. So I created a new blog devoted just to that. Perhaps it will make a small difference by collecting stories. I'm not going out of my way to search out content (there's plenty of it), but just noting what I see and hear in the course of usual day, where I read the Seattle Times every morning, go to work at a city, listen to NPR in the car, and talk to other writers and futurists from time to time.
So far, no day has gone by without something. But then, I'm not yet a week into the project.
Anyway, I'm open to ideas from others and would welcome comments at

Saturday, September 23, 2006

New Design Up!

We've just re-designed I'd really like to complement our web designer, Tony Geer. And Glen Hiemstra, the site owner and founder, did a LOT of work to transform our content in a newer and cooler look.

Note that Tony used wordpress, a new product to us, and it seems to have worked well so far.

Anyway, please give it a visit, and feel free to comment.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Heroes of the Future?

I'm going to do an article for (newly re-done site, by the way - what do you think?) on "Heroes of the Future." It started with a panel of the same name for Worldcon. The panel was a bust (actually a fun conversation, but as many panelists and audience members - y'all know how THAT goes).

I know I'm going to include rich people and folk that want to help - our Rockefellers if you will (Gates, Google, Branson)

Scientists, who we'll need desperately to help with global warming

Leaders, if we get any. There's a bit of a vacuum right now, and a good leader would be handy - a Gandhi of our day

Who else from our time might the future look back on as heroes?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

You go, Mr. President.

You go, Mr. President. Try and convince me that "alternative interrogation" is different than torture. It's about the same as saying "differently abled" means the guy in the wheel chair no longer needs it. It just sounds a little better to all of us. But it doesn't change the basic situation.

The headline in today's Seattle Times suggests you don't care what congress wants to do about trials for suspected terrorists. Well, I do. I have a better chance of talking to my congressman or woman about an issue than I do to you. You feel pretty far removed. Not only from me as a citizen, but from the checks and balances of our constitution.

Sometimes, even from reality.

Go on - take the pendulum way, way up. It will have a bigger swing back, and the next few Presidents won't have any power at all. Maybe that's okay.

You're using "fascist" instead of "terrorist." You seem to be trying to make me think 2006 is like World War II. That war was over before I was born, but I don't think it was much like today. We're not in a conventional war, and we're not in a war we can win by being big strong bullies. The more you try to use brute force on a complex and dangerous situation, the more you strengthen the enemy. Being a bully isn't helping. It's not what I want leading my country, or me.

But go on. Really. You go!

Even the republicans in my family are starting to think its time for a big change.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

News, Musings, and Reading Recommendations from August website

My mentor in the futurist business, Glen Hiemstra, just published a book called TURNING THE FUTURE INTO REVENUE. The core audience is anyone in business or that has resources to invest, but it's a pretty good general futures book, too. Glenn is a good writer, the book is easy to read so far (I'm about half-way through my advance copy).
It's worth reading for anyone because a core piece of creating a good future is understanding the economics of a better future. Some friends and I were talking about organic foods and stores the other day and the recent news that WalMart is "going green" and offering more earth-friendly products is a almost surely good economics. The Walton family may or may not have any altruistic bones, but they are the kind of businesspeople who now how to make a profit. They must see one in greener products.
There was an article in today's Seattle Times about electric cars. Given current gas prices, they are turning out to be hot sellers. Regardless of the fact that we may want to think of a future where humans suddenly and inexplicably do the right thing in business just because its the right thing (yes, it does happen occasionally), green products will become more available when it makes good economic sense for people to produce and them.
The book is about far more than that.
In other news, I'm getting ready to go down to San Diego for the annual ESRI conference in San Diego. I always really love this show, where thousands of Geographic Information Systems professionals gather from all over the world, and generally all want to save the world. I'll blog from there, so watch my blog link.

August Musings:
I saw seven fallen leaves on the grass this evening. It seems early, but then I never want summer to end. Each of these leaves was still deep green, bordered in yellow and brown. The weak ones, the ones that had trouble taking the late summer heat.
There has been awful heat waves this year. First on this coast and now on the other one. They've claimed lives that meant more than these leaves.
It seems a time of change.

July Reading Recommendations:
Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman
Fabulous. Really not much more to say. Read it.
I tend to always remember Neil's work, too. I got to see a movie that he directed at the Science Fiction Museum a month or so ago. It was hauntingly well done.
Blue Smoke, by Nora Roberts
A well-told tale of arson and the gal who fights it. As usual. by the time I'm half-way through a Nora Robert's book I just don't want to put it down at all, for anything. Trying to figure out how she does that.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

World Science Fiction Convention

I'm in Anaheim, California, at the World Science Fiction convention. A few quick comments about bits I've learned in panels....

Future of Cities: I'll likely do a whole article for on this, but a fellow writer, John Barnes, did some interesting statistical work that suggests our megacities could grow 3 times bigger with new technologies that are coming. So the 8 million plus people in New York could become 24 million. A lot of that is growth up, but some is growth out. A related comment from Karl Schroeder, a writer who does futurist work for the Canadian government, is that border-spanning cities such as Vancouver BC <-> Seattle (think of it as one city) or San Diego <-> Tijuana could become political forces in their own right. When I think of the tension in the Northwest between the Puget Sound and the rest of Washington (what is good for the city is sometimes not good for the country) I find it an interesting concept.

World government. A science fiction convention is a great place to discuss this. Smart people. Most of us have read the warning books like 1984 and Brave New World, but we've also read the host of books that suggest planetary or interplanetary government is a given. It's a discussion we need to have more of in the world outside science fiction. While I wouldn't say we reached any clear consensus in an hour plus, I'd say the general sense was:

We need world government to solve the problems that are bigger than nations (primary conflict and ecology, although there are others)
It has to be a strong world government with a military and police force to succeed
Its charter must be very clear and very limited in scope

Anyway, another interesting topic.