Can It Get Any Worse?

If you are alive and able to ask that question, the answer is almost invariably yes.  Yes it can.  And so it has.

I am not fool enough to dismiss the good that has come my way in favor of only recognizing the misfortunes.  For instance, the birth of my first grandchild, a precious baby girl, is not to be overlooked.  But on the whole, 2018 brings to mind Robert Burns’ famous poem “To a Mouse.”  My best laid plans for the year have gone askew.

From the lens of last December, this year sparkled with all the potential that hope could imbue.  Even starting the year with the worst flu of my life did not diminish my expectations.  But here we are in October.  Events that I will not detail slowly drained the potential from the year.  Not nearly enough writing was accomplished, and even less publication (zero).  In August I was forced to cancel my plans to attend Worldcon 76.  And now, another convention that I had my heart set on, MileHiCon 50, may be slipping away due to the onset of shingles.

But, while 2018 has been something of a train wreck, don’t count me out.  I’m not.  Despair be damned.  I’ll be back at it as soon as I stop feeling like crap.


My 1943 Retro Hugo Reading List

hugo_smLooking for things to read for the 1943 Retro Hugos?  Here is my reading list in hopes that it may give you some ideas.  Note that 1943 Hugos are awarded to stories that had their first publication in 1942.

This list contains all the eligible stories in my library (according to my database).  I only listed volumes that contain at least one unique eligible story, but I did leave in story duplications if they appeared in more than one of these books.  This list may help you identify eligible stories that you have already read.  It may help you identify volumes that you have that contain eligible stories.  Or it may be useful as a starting point for finding these stories in other volumes or on the internet (places like for example).  For finding other volumes in which these stories appear, I suggest using (paste the story title in the search box and choose ‘Fiction Titles’ from the pull down menu).

The format of this list, or how to interpret what you are looking at: Titles of volumes containing eligible stories begin with three equal signs (===).  Stories themselves are preceded by one hyphen (-).  Story titles are followed by the author’s name, then a two letter code for the nomination category (length).  n. = novel / na = novella / nv = novelette / ss = short story.  I have not verified these categories, so I suggest verifying both eligibility year and length before casting your ballot.  I should also mention that I have not included author pseudonyms, so don’t be surprised if a different name is given as the author for some of these stories.

This is nowhere near a complete list of eligible stories, but I suspect that this list contains the majority of eventual finalists (at least in the short categories).  And don’t forget that the nomination ballot deadline is March 16th.


===Isaac Asimov Presents The Great Science Fiction Stories Volume 4, 1942 – eds. Asimov & Greenberg  (Isaac Asimov Presents: The Golden Years of Science Fiction: Second Series has all but 2 of these stories)
-The Star Mouse – Frederic Brown – nv
-The Wings of Night – Lester Del Rey – ss
-Cooperate – Or Else! – A. E. van Vogt – nv
-Foundation – Isaac Asimov – nv
-The Push of a Finger – Alfred Bester – na
-Asylum – A. E. van Vogt – na
-Proof – Hal Clement – ss
-Nerves – Lester del Rey – na
-Barrier – Anthony Boucher – na
-The Twonky – Henry Kuttner – nv
-QRM-Interplanetary – George O. Smith – nv
-The Weapons Shop – A. E. van Vogt – nv
-Mimic – Donald A. Wollheim – ss

===Adventures in Time and Space – ed. Raymond J. Healy & J. Francis McComas
-Nerves – Lester del Rey – na
-The Link – Cleve Cartmill – ss
-Asylum – A. E. van Vogt – nv
-The Twonky – Lewis Padgett – nv
-The Star Mouse – Fredric Brown – ss

===Classic Science Fiction: The First Golden Age – ed. Terry Carr
-Child of the Green Light – Leigh Brackett – nv
-Victory Unintentional – Isaac Asimov – ss
-The Twonky – Henry Kuttner – nv
-Storm Warning – Donald A. Wollheim – ss

===Journey to Infinity – ed. Martin Greenberg
-Breakdown – Jack Williamson – nv
-There Shall Be Darkness – C. L. Moore – nv
-Overthrow – Cleve Cartmill – na

===Treasury of Science Fiction, A – ed. Groff Conklin
-With Flaming Swords – Cleve Cartmill – na
-The Embassy – Donald A. Wollheim – ss
-Tools – Clifford D. Simak – nv

===Unknown Worlds: Tales from Beyond – ed. Stanley Schmidt & Martin H. Greenberg
-The Refugees – Frank Belknap Long – ss
-Hell Is Forever – Alfred Bester – na
-The Hag Seleen – Theodore Sturgeon & James H. Beard – nv

===Golden Age of Science Fiction, The (vt Best of Science Fiction) – ed. Groff Conklin
-Goldfish Bowl – Robert A. Heinlein – nv
-Jackdaw – Ross Rocklynne – nv

===Invaders of Earth – ed. Groff Conklin
-Storm Warning – Donald A. Wollheim – ss
-Not Only Dead Men – A. E. van Vogt – ss

===Omnibus of Science Fiction, The – ed. Groff Conklin
-Recruiting Station (vt Masters of Time) – A. E. van Vogt – na
-Heritage – Robert Abernathy – nv

===Science Fiction Adventures in Dimension – ed. Groff Conklin
-The Flight That Failed (vt Rebirth: Earth) – A. E. van Vogt & E. Mayne Hull – nv
-To Follow Knowledge – Frank Belknap Long – nv

===Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Treasury – eds. Olander & Greenberg & Asimov
-Secret Unattainable – A. E. van Vogt – na

===Knights of Madness – ed. Peter Haining
-The Little Man Who Wasn’t All There – Robert Bloch – ss

===Men Hunting Things – ed. David Drake
-Gentlemen, The Queen! – Wilson Tucker – ss

===Rainbow Fantasia; 35 Spectrumatic Tales of Wonder – ed. Forrest J. Ackerman
-The White Lady – Dorothy Quick – ss

===Treasury of Great Science Fiction, A, Volume One – ed. Anthony Boucher
-Waldo – Robert A. Heinlein – na

===Treasury of Great Science Fiction, A, Volume Two – ed. Anthony Boucher
-Piggy Bank – Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore – nv

===Worlds to Come – ed. Damon Knight
-Sunken Universe – James Blish – nv

Author Collections

===Complete Robot, The – Isaac Asimov
-Robot AL-76 Goes Astray – Isaac Asimov – ss
-Victory Unintentional – Isaac Asimov – ss
-Runaround – Isaac Asimov – nv

===Early Asimov or, Eleven Years of Trying, The – Isaac Asimov
-The Imaginary – Isaac Asimov – ss
-The Hazing – Isaac Asimov – ss
-Time Pussy – Isaac Asimov – ss
-Christmas on Ganymede – Isaac Asimov – ss
-Black Friar of the Flame – Isaac Asimov – nv

===Foundation – Isaac Asimov
-Foundation (vt The Encyclopedists) – Isaac Asimov – nv
-Bridle and Saddle (vt The Mayors) – Isaac Asimov – nv

===Lancelot Biggs: Spaceman (fixup, stories altered from original) – Nelson Bond
-The Ghost of Lancelot Biggs [Chapter 11] – Nelson Bond – ss
-The Return of Lancelot Biggs [Chapters 12-13] – Nelson Bond – ss
-The Love Song of Lancelot Biggs [Chapters 16-18] – Nelson Bond – nv
-Mr. Biggs Goes to Town [Chapters 22-24] – Nelson Bond – ss

===Other Worlds Than Ours – Nelson Bond
-Luxury Liner – Nelson S. Bond – nv
-Jessifer Rides Again – Nelson S. Bond – nv
-Gods of the Jungle – Nelson S. Bond – n.
-Colossus of Chaos – Nelson S. Bond – nv
-Captain Chaos – Nelson S. Bond – ss

===Compleat Boucher, The – Anthony Boucher
-The Complete Werewolf (vt The Compleat Werewolf) – Anthony Boucher – nv
-Barrier – Anthony Boucher – na
-The Ghost of Me – Anthony Boucher – ss

===Martian Quest: The Early Brackett – Leigh Brackett
-Child of the Green Light – Leigh Brackett – ss
-The Sorcerer of Rhiannon – Leigh Brackett – nv
-Child of the Sun – Leigh Brackett – nv
-Out of the Sea – Leigh Brackett – ss
-Cube from Space – Leigh Brackett – nv
-Outpost on Io – Leigh Brackett – ss

===Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury: A Critical Edition: Volume I: 1938-1943 – Ray Bradbury
-The Candle – Ray Bradbury – ss
-Eat, Drink and Be Wary – Ray Bradbury – ss

===Escape on Venus (fixup, stories altered from original) – Edgar Rice Burroughs
-War on Venus – Edgar Rice Burroughs – na

===Savage Pellucidar – Edgar Rice Burroughs
-The Return to Pellucidar – Edgar Rice Burroughs – nv
-Men of the Bronze Age – Edgar Rice Burroughs – na
-Tiger Girl – Edgar Rice Burroughs – na

===Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, The – Arthur C. Clarke
-The Awakening – Arthur C. Clarke – ss
-Whacky – Arthur C. Clarke – ss

===Essential Hal Clement, The, Volume. 2: Music of Many Spheres – Hal Clement
-Proof – Hal Clement – ss
-Impediment – Hal Clement – nv
-Avenue of Escape – Hal Clement – ss

===Scribblings – L. Sprague de Camp
-The Effects of Time Travel – L. Sprague de Camp – ss
-The Negative Wugug – L. Sprague de Camp – ss

===Robots and Magic: Selected Short Stories of Lester Del Rey. Volume 2 – Lester Del Rey
-Though Poppies Grow – Lester del Rey – nv

===Fourth Book of Jorkens, The – Lord Dunsany
-On the Other Side of the Sun – Lord Dunsany – ss
-The Khamseen – Lord Dunsany – ss
-The Welcome – Lord Dunsany – ss

===Off the Main Sequence: The Other Science Fiction Stories of Robert A. Heinlein
-“My Object All Sublime” – Robert A. Heinlein – ss
-Pied Piper – Robert A. Heinlein – ss

===Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, The – Robert A. Heinlein
-The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag – Robert A. Heinlein – na

===His Share of Glory: The Complete Short Science Fiction of C.M. Kornbluth
-The Golden Road – C. M. Kornbluth – nv
-Masquerade – C. M. Kornbluth – ss
-The Perfect Invasion – C. M. Kornbluth – nv
-Crisis! – C. M. Kornbluth – ss
-The Core – C. M. Kornbluth – nv

===Thunder in the Void – Henry Kuttner
-The Crystal Circe – Henry Kuttner – na
-War-Gods of the Void – Henry Kuttner – nv
-Thunder in the Void – Henry Kuttner – nv
-We Guard the Black Planet! – Henry Kuttner – nv

===Two-Handed Engine: The Selected Stories of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore
-The Twonky – Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore – nv
-Compliments of the Author – Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore – nv

===Leiber Chronicles, The – Fritz Leiber
-The Hound – Fritz Leiber – ss

===Smoke Ghost & Other Apparitions – Fritz Leiber
-The Power of the Puppets – Fritz Leiber – ss
-The Hill and the Hole – Fritz Leiber – ss

===Swords Against Death – Fritz Leiber
-The Sunken Land – Fritz Leiber – ss

===Men, Martians and Machines – Eric Frank Russell
-Mechanistria – Eric Frank Russell – nv

===Microcosmic God, Volume II: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon
-The Jumper – Theodore Sturgeon & James H. Beard – ss

===Killdozer!, Volume III: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon
-Medusa – Theodore Sturgeon – nv
-The Hag Seleen – Theodore Sturgeon & James H. Beard – nv

===Seventy-Five: The Diamond Anniversary of a Science Fiction Pioneer – Jack Williamson
-Collision Orbit – Jack Williamson – nv

Novels  (apparently I don’t have many novels from 1942)

-Gods of the Jungle – Nelson S. Bond – n.
-Solomon’s Stone – L. Sprague de Camp – n.
-Undesired Princess, The – L. Sprague de Camp – n.
-Beyond This Horizon – Robert A. Heinlein – n.
-Screwtape Letters, The – C. S. Lewis – n.
-Second Stage Lensman – Edward E. Smith – n.


The following series are eligible for Best Series Retro Hugo 1943 (as far as I can tell). Related titles can be found in the above lists.

-Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs
-Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs
-Lensman by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith
-Jorkens by Lord Dunsany

As stated, many more titles are eligible than I have here.  This is just a quick and dirty list from my library.  I hope you find it useful.

P.S.  If you are wondering if I have written any stories eligible for the 2018 Hugos, the answer is yes.  Both “Toasterpocalypse” & “Spooky Action” are eligible in the short story category.  See the short stories menu at the top of the page for more information on where they were published, etc…

My COSine 2018 Schedule

cosinebanner320My first convention of the year is just around the corner (January 19-21).  COSine is a small SF convention held annually in Colorado Springs, my hometown.  It has always been a wonderful experience for me.  This year, the Guest of Honor is Jody Lynn Nye, and as is tradition, Connie and Courtney Willis are the con’s Special Guests.   The Science Guest is Biomechanical Engineer Dr. Dana Carpenter.  Expect some interesting talks on the effects of space travel on the human body.

Here are the panels I will be on at the convention:

Friday (1/19/2018)

5pm – Moon, Mars, or Beyond – the objectives of manned space flight

8pm – Inventorying and Valuing your Collection

Saturday (1/20/2018)

11am – Why are we paying for the privilege of inviting Big Brother into our homes and lives?

I will also be at the Author’s Reception and Signing on Saturday evening.

Sunday (1/21/2018)

2pm – We Kid Because We Love – parodies of science fiction and fantasy

COSine 2018 is going to be great fun.  I hope to see you there.

Flotsam of 2017

It has been over two months since I’ve posted anything here, so I suppose I ought to collect all the detritus that has been jostling about the shores of procrastination.  Call it a year end post, if you like, but mostly it is just an overdue post, filled with the things I should have told you during the preceding two months.

I will start with the recent news that my story “Spooky Action” made the Tangent Online 2017 Recommended Reading List.  It not only made the list, but received the list’s highest distinction as a three star recommendation.  I am the sort of writer who alternates between seeing my literary babies as adorable one day, and abominations that should be locked away in a closet the next.  So this sort of recognition helps.

Third Flatiron, publishers of the Cat’s Breakfast anthology, has produced a podcast of “Spooky Action” that you can listen to here.  You will also find a Q&A in which I discuss the genesis of the story, among other things.

“Toasterpocalypse” was published in November in Edward Bryant’s Sphere of Influence.  There appears to be two different print versions of this anthology available, 0974161977 & 0974161985.  I honestly don’t know the difference between the two other than that they are sometimes priced differently.  If you are looking to buy a copy, I suggest checking both to see which offers the better price at the time.  There is also a digital edition.

As for 2018, expect more frequent story announcements.  I have decided to dedicate myself to writing fiction this year.  This means that some other endeavors (like Scide Splitters & Retro Hugo reviews) will have to sit this one out.  It is high time I got serious about my writing and I hope the added focus will yield a very fruitful year.

Reading at MileHiCon

MileHiCon49I will be reading from my latest story, “Toasterpocalypse,” at MileHiCon 49 this Saturday night at 11pm (Oct. 28th).  Why so late?  To honor Ed Bryant’s propensity for conducting late night readings at MileHiCons of yore.  The story will be published in Edward Bryant’s Sphere Of Influence, due out in November.  The anthology is comprised of stories critiqued by Ed Bryant during his decades of running writer’s workshops.  Other authors appearing in the volume include: Connie Willis, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kevin J. Anderson, Bruce Holland Rogers, and more.  A portion of the proceeds will go to charity.  So, come on up to the 12th floor at 11pm Saturday night to meet the authors, listen to readings, and discuss the legacy of Ed Bryant.

Whom the Gods Would Make Mad They First Misspell

MakeMadBefore I Indulge your curiosity about the subject alluded to in the post title, I want to give you an update on some writing related goings-on.  One of my stories, “Toasterpocalypse,” will be coming out next month in an anthology tentatively titled Children of Edward Bryant.  If you don’t know anything about Ed, you can check out his Wikipedia page.  The publisher is trying to have the book ready ahead of schedule for MileHiCon 49 at the end of October (Ed had been Toast Master for MileHiCon more than a dozen times, in addition to being Guest of Honor twice).  Regardless of whether or not it will be ready, many of the authors involved will be doing readings from the anthology, myself included.

My summer hiatus from Amazing Stories is over.  Scide Splitters returns with a review of Unidentified Funny Objects 6.  In my estimation, this is the best volume in the series so far.

Now back to the heading subject, because the title no doubt has you on the edge of your seat.  It is a thrilling tale of bureaucracy and misspelling!  How can you resist?

Upon publication of Cat’s Breakfast, the Vonnegut tribute anthology with my story “Spooky Action,” I noticed that the page for the Kindle version had my name misspelled with an extra L, resulting in Killman, thereby preventing the listing from linking with my author page at Amazon.  A simple enough problem, or so one would think.  I contacted Amazon customer service to explain the situation.

They responded that the problem would be taken care of and that I should give the correction a day or two to manifest.  It did not.  I contacted them again and was told that the issue was being transferred to Author Central.  Now we are getting somewhere, I thought.  Surely with a name like Author Central, a misspelling would be a mere trifle.  They promptly informed me that there was nothing they could do about it.

Surprised by this unexpected result, I wrote back thinking that additional evidence might help my cause.  I explained that the trade paper listing for the same book had my name correctly spelled.  And if they cared for further proof of my claim, so as not to fall victim to whatever devious plot they feared that I might have planned, they could use the Look Inside feature to see that Kilman was indeed the spelling in all instances inside the book.

This attempt did at least yield a clue as to why they would not fix the mistake.  Only the publisher, they said, has the authorization to make such corrections.  It sounded sensible enough, though I wondered why it had taken them three responses to impart this wisdom.

I emailed Juli Rew, the editor/publisher, only to learn that she had already made multiple attempts at a correction resulting in no more success than I had.  From Juli I learned more about the nature of the quagmire that had ensnared my story and my name.

As a matter of policy, software limitations, or what-have-you, publishers are limited to ten contributing authors when they create a book listing at Amazon. Additional author listings can be achieved through contacting customer service, which Juli had done when the listing was created. But somewhere in that process, the extra L was entered, and there it remained. The reason Juli could not fix it was because she only had access to the first ten names. So the issue went round and round with customer service claiming to be powerless to do anything and repeatedly suggesting that the publisher make the fix.

Finally, I decided to write a long and detailed explanation of the nature of this bureaucratic black hole, so that the problem could be understood and escalated to someone of sufficient authority to remove one L from my name. I was not sure how high up Mount Olympus this would have to go to reach god-like powers necessary for correcting a spelling error, but I was sure such nearly omnipotent beings must exist.

I received a response from a demigod, or maybe it was a supervisor, who said that I had indeed identified the exact nature of this catch-22 and that it was clear that I was entirely correct. The extra L was no doubt in error—but I would have to contact the publisher and have her explain this all over again to customer service.

Remembering the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I decided to retain my sanity and drop the matter.  Eventually, however, Juli managed, through persistence and perhaps some sacrifice of her mental stability, to succeed in getting the correction.  Thanks, Juli.

And Having Read . . .

Cats BreakfastI have been digesting the other twenty-nine stories in Cat’s Breakfast, one each day for the past month or so.  There was no point in rushing through them since I can’t review the anthology at Amazing Stories due to the obvious conflict of interest (I wrote the lead story in the collection).  Suffice to say that it is the sort of book that I would have featured as a Scide Splitter.

Had I reviewed Cat’s Breakfast, I would have pointed out how wonderful the first story is, thus causing the editor at Amazing to spit out his coffee and ban the article entirely.  My summation would have stated that the anthology is filled with dark satires befitting a tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, many of which elicit a good laugh.  I would have also mentioned that my favorite stories included Christopher Mark Rose’s “Emerging Grammars,” Gregg Chamberlain’s “The Pigeon Drop” and James Beamon’s “Command Decision.”  But I am not going to tell you any of those things because it would be inappropriate.


“Spooky Action” Published

No, I am Cats Breakfastnot writing horror.  This is quantum mechanics.  A physics professor accidentally contacts God while conducting experiments in quantum entanglement.  “Spooky Action” is the lead story in Cat’s Breakfast, the Kurt Vonnegut tribute anthology released yesterday by Third Flatiron Publishing.  It is available in digital format through Amazon, with the trade paper edition due out in the next few days.

I have not received my copy yet, so I can’t honestly vouch for the rest of the stories.  Never-the-less, I have high hopes for this anthology.  How often do you get a chance to read a professional-level selection of dark humor?  (Not often enough is the answer, in case you were unsure.)  And if there is one thing we need in our current social/political climate, it is a dose of satire.  So, bring on the gallows humor.

Another Story Sold

I sold another short story, this time to Third Flatiron Publishing for their forthcoming Kurt Vonnegut tribute anthology, Cat’s Breakfast.  It was also chosen as the lead for the book.  That honor comes with a podcasting of the story as part of the promotion for the anthology.  The book is scheduled to be released in June.

Regular readers of my Scide Splitters blog at Amazing Stories will have noticed that there was no April Scide Splitters.  This is because I am taking a hiatus until September.  My apologies for leaving you without humor reading recommendations for the summer, but other obligations take precedence.  If you can’t wait that long for your humor fix, post a request here in the comments or through the Contact form and I will recommend something (sans lengthy review).  If you include a short list of what you have enjoyed reading, I can better target my suggestions.  And of course, you could pick up a copy of Cat’s Breakfast if your tastes tend toward the dark, Vonnegutesque side.  I hear they have one hell of a lead story.

Waiting for the Sun

Time and SunAs some of you may know, my years as a homeschool teacher are coming to a close.  My youngest daughter graduates at the end of May, and then…  Well, then one of my other daughters gets married in June, so that will be busy, but then…  Daylight?  More time to write?  Is it really possible to have more time available in my schedule?

I’ve gotten so used to having less and less time over the last few decades, it is hard to believe that such a thing is possible.  I imagine that it might be like a prisoner scheduled for release after a twenty-five year sentence.  There is something surreal about it.  Not that I am trying to directly compare responsibilities as a father and teacher to being in prison.  It is just that for decades I have, one by one, had to kill off most of my hobbies and personal interests.  I fear that something will come along, laughing, “Ah, stupid boy, don’t you know that fate forbids such things.  Enjoy the following unexpected screwing!”

Well, anyway, I can at least hope.

In the meantime, I have posted a couple of Scide Splitters since my last post here.  The first was a combination appreciation and short story review for Ed Bryant: Scide Splitters: Bean Bag Cats & Bad German by Ed Bryant.  The second, posted today, is a review of a humorous SF anthology: Scide Splitters: Little Green Men—Attack! – edited by Robin Wayne Bailey & Bryan Thomas Schmidt.