“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.

Ed Bryant, Mentor

Ed Bryant died in his sleep last night (Locus obituary).  He will be remembered as a great writer and a much loved member of fandom.  To many of us, he was also a mentor.  He selflessly gave his time to developing writers in groups like the Northern Colorado Writers Workshop, which he formed in 1972 and remained active in right up to the end.

Thank you for your guidance and encouragement.  We have a meeting tomorrow and it is hard to believe you won’t be there.

COSine and Another Review


This past weekend I attended COSine, a small SF convention held annually in Colorado Springs, my hometown.  It was, as has been the case every year I have attended, an excellent experience.  The Guest of Honor Jo Walton, Science Guest Jon Singer, and Special Guests Connie and Courtney Willis were all fantastic. The same can be said for all the other attendees that I interacted with, including dozens of other authors, scientists and engineers.

I was on three panels that I think were reasonably successful. You would think by now that I would have figured out that I should announce such appearances ahead of time rather than inform you about them after the fact. But the low volume of traffic here at this site, plus the need to spend my time writing fiction, tends to result in these posts taking a back seat. I will try to do better in the future. In any case, the convention was outstanding and I encourage you to join us next year.

On the review front at Amazing Stories Magazine, I recently posted a a Scide Splitters blog examining four stories by William Tenn: “Party of the Two Parts,” “The Flat-Eyed Monster,” “Lisbon Cubed,” and “On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi!” If nothing else, find and read “Party of the Two Parts.” It is just too funny.

Fun with search engines department: Looking for a graphic to use in association with this post, I put “COSine 2017” in as my search terms and Yahoo gave me -0.798635510047

Last Chance for Short Story & Some Reviews

Time and Not Space“is still available for free online at Galaxy’s Edge Magazine.  Only four galaxys-edge-cover-november-2016days left until they pull the November issue offline.

I have also posted a few reviews over at Amazing Stories since the last time I made an update here.  Most recently, I reviewed Robert Chansky’s fantastic coming-of-age novel, Hundred Ghost Soup.  In late November, I reviewed Ira Nayman’s It’s Just the Chronosphere Unfolding as it Should.  And in early November I reviewed BBC America’s new Dirk Gently television series.

Worldcon and a Story

I promised to report on my Worldcon experience “next week” a month ago.  Better late than never.  But first, some writing news…

I sold a story titled “Time and Not Space” to Galaxy’s Edge Magazine.  It will appear in the November issue.  I will post a reminder and a link when the time comes.  Scide Splitters columns continue with the latest being a review of Unidentified Funny Objects 5.


I’ve been wanting to go to a Worldcon for decades, but time and money have held me back until this year – that and not realizing what I have been missing.  Prior to my experience at MidAmeriConII (that is the name of the 2016 Worldcon held in Kansas City last month), I was concerned that I would be disappointed for two reasons, hype and being an outsider.

The hype concern was due to my having built up decades of anticipation based on all the wonderful stories I have heard about Worldcons past.  How could the real thing live up to the myth fostered in my mind?  The other concern was based on my feeling like something of an alien to my own species.  Yes, I understand that this is not an uncommon feeling among science fiction fans.  We are outcasts.  Even so, I suspected that the SF community would be yet another group where I would not fit in.

I was wrong on both counts.  Worldcon lived up to the hype and I found many kindred spirits.

First, the people, because without them, there is no Worldcon.  The majority of them were friendly and welcoming.  Not that this is unique to SF fandom, but it is a prerequisite to friendship.  Beyond that, I can’t easily explain why I connected so well with so many at the convention.  It was more than just a common interest in science fiction.  Sometimes people connect.  It is a complex thing and I won’t try to analyze it here.

It may have helped that I smoke.  Smokers are the outcasts of outcasts, forced to congregate out of necessity.  It’s kind of like being stuck on an elevator together.  Eventually you will talk to each other, and having nicotine to calm the internal fires, smokers tend to be a friendly bunch when getting their fix.  There is something at Worldcon called BarCon.  People congregate and get to know each other over drinks.  I will call the smoker’s version AshtrayCon.  I don’t know if the word, or something of similar meaning, exists in the lexicon of fandom, but it should.  And when you put BarCon and AshtrayCon together, all the better.

As for other activities, WorldCon has so many appealing things going on at any given time, that you have to set priorities.  I ended up trying to evenly divide my time between my various interests as a writer, a reader, a fan, and a lover of science.  I partook in panels, presentations, kaffeeklatsches, literary beers, book signings, award ceremonies, and wandering the exhibit hall.  But it was always the people that made these events worthwhile.

Worldcon Hangover

Worldcon was a blast, which means my brain is mush right now.  I’m going to have to postpone my recap until after my fantasy football draft this weekend (yeah, I know, brain mush part two).  Hello to all the new friends I made at Worldcon.  Check back next week for my thoughts on the Retro Hugos, con events and late night activities vaguely remembered.

Voting the Retro Hugos

Retro HugoIn the November, December and January editions of Scide Splitters, I reviewed humorous stories eligible for the 1941 Retro Hugo short categories (novella, novelette & short story).  I followed this up with a list of “25 Stories Worth Reading Before Making Retro Hugo Nominations” (the list included humor and non-humor stories).  Now that we are into the final phase of voting (the deadline for casting ballots is July 31st), here are my thoughts on the official nominees as I work on filling out my ballot.

First, let me throw out a few statistics.  10 of my 25 “Worth Reading” were humor.  Only two of those made the final ballot.  However, 11 of the final 15 nominees were on my list of 25 recommended reads.  So, on the whole, I would say the nominees are a fairly worthy bunch.  I’m just a little disappointed (though not surprised) that more humor didn’t make the cut.

Novellas – Heinlein vs. de Camp & Pratt.  The only nominee not to make my recommended list was Heinlein’s “Magic, Inc.” so it should be no shock that it ends up at the bottom of my ballot.  I was a little surprised not to see “Darker Than You Think” by Jack Williamson make it.  The reason it did not is largely due to some people mistakenly promoting it as a novelette.  So it was initially announced as a novelette finalist before award administrators realized it was ineligible due to length.

The hard decision for me here is picking between “The Roaring Trumpet” and “If This Goes On…”  I call it a tie, but since I can only give one the top spot, I defer to the old axiom, “When in doubt, laugh.” “The Roaring Trumpet” marked the beginning of the Incomplete Enchanter series.  It is filled with adventure, Norse gods and laughs.  What more could you want?

  1. “The Roaring Trumpet” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
  2. “If This Goes On…” by Robert A. Heinlein
  3. “The Mathematics of Magic” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
  4. “Coventry” by Robert A. Heinlein
  5. “Magic, Inc.” by Robert A. Heinlein

My nominations that failed to make the cut: “Darker Than You Think” by Jack Williamson & “The Indigestible Triton” by L. Ron Hubbard

Novelettes – All five finalists were on my recommended list, though my favorite (“The Hardwood Pile” by L. Sprague de Camp) failed to garner a nomination.  I knew it was a long shot given the worthy competition.

My top four here are all close together.  But ultimately, 1940 was Heinlein’s year, and it is possible that he could sweep all three short Retro categories.  It was his breakout year as a writer.  He was the Guest of Honor at the 1941 WorldCon in Denver.  He was born in Missouri and later lived in Colorado.  All the stars seem to be in alignment.  And while I more-or-less coin tossed him into second place in the novella category, I won’t do that here.

“Vault of the Beast” is the replacement for “Darker Than You Think” and while it is a solid story and created quite a buzz at the time of publication, it finishes a distant fifth.  “Farewell to the Master” is the classic that became the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.  Damn good, but just short of Heinlein’s narrative powers.  “It!” is exceptionally well written, but I am not much of a horror fan.  If this were the Retro Stokers, I would have to give it the nod.

  1. “Blowups Happen” by Robert A. Heinlein
  2. “The Roads Must Roll” by Robert A. Heinlein
  3. “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates
  4. “It!” by Theodore Sturgeon
  5. “Vault of the Beast” by A. E. Van Vogt

My nominations that failed to make the cut: “The Hardwood Pile” by L. Sprague de Camp & “The Voyage That Lasted 600 Years” by Don Wilcox.

Short Stories – The class of this group, at least for me, is “Requiem.”  Maybe younger generations don’t get it, but this story perfectly expressed the yearning for space that I grew up with and that I continue to carry to this day.

“Strange Playfellow,” or “Robbie” as it was later renamed, was the first of Asimov’s robot stories, and a very good one at that.  In many other years, this would be my first choice.  Of the two Brackett stories, “The Stellar Legion” is by far the best.  “Martian Quest” is comparatively amateurish.  Borges’ “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” is good but uneventful.

  1. “Requiem” by Robert A. Heinlein
  2. “Robbie” by Isaac Asimov
  3. “The Stellar Legion” by Leigh Brackett
  4. “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges
  5. No Award
  6. “Martian Quest” by Leigh Brackett

My nominations that failed to make the cut: “Revolt of the Ants” by Milton Kaletsky & “Quietus” by Ross Rocklynne & “The Gods Gil Made” by Ross Rocklynne.

One more stat for you – 12 of 15 nominees in the short categories were edited by John W. Campbell.  Ergo Best Editor ‐ Short Form = John W. Campbell.