Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Arrivederci Italia

Mentioned in passing in my November 22nd post, "2019 Best Reads," I was recently in Italy. To be complete, my wife and I both were. Between research and prepping for the trip, the trip itself, and resting/catching-up afterward, this Italian adventure accounted for a big chunk of my autumn. Setting aside the rain we encountered during some part of nearly every day sightseeing, everything about this trip was awesome.

(Yes, this a blog about science and SF. If you choose to leave now, nothing will be said. If it matters, I promise to end with an SFnal tie-in.)

Mosaic at Pompeii
We began in Naples -- from which, of course, we did a side excursion to nearby Pompeii. (We'd also planned that day to go to the summit of nearby Mount Vesuvius, slayer of Pompeii. Remember my comment about the rain? Due to rain and fog, the Italian park service closed the mountain that day. Sigh.) Among other sites seen in Naples: the Palazzo Reale (grand home to the Bourbon kings of Naples, and said to have inspired Louis XIV to build his better-known palace at Versailles) and the National Archeological Museum.

His telescopes @ Galileo Museum, Florence
Next up: Florence. Highlights there included the fabulous Renaissance cathedral (aka, the Duomo), bearing the largest freestanding dome to be built in over a thousand years, the Ufizzi gallery, and the Ponte Vecchio. Historical Florence is eminently walkable and utterly charming.

Our last stop was Rome. In a word: wow. The Colosseum, ancient Forum, Circus Maximus, and ancient catacombs. The most amazing Roman structure, IMO, of them all: the Pantheon (whose huge, freestanding dome was something of a template for the design of the aforementioned Duomo). The Vatican: museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's.

Interior of the Pantheon

Pantheon dome (w/ fingertip of authenticity)
Then, on a day trip outside of Rome, we saw the sprawling estate of the Emperor Hadrian and the adjacent Renaissance estate -- largely built with marble scavenged from Hadrian's place -- Villa d'Este. The latter's famous cornucopia of entirely gravity-powered fountains, water jets, and water spouts was, ironically, turned off that day because of dirt washed into the system by the previous day's heavy rain. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Buy-a-Book Saturday

It's that time again.

Regularly since 2010, shortly before Thanksgiving, I've posted about Buy-a-Book Saturday. That's my personal variation on Small Business Saturday: the day (specifically, the second day after Thanksgiving, and one day after retail's infamous Black Friday) on which holiday shoppers are especially encouraged to patronize small businesses. The big-box stores and Internet giants will do fine this holiday season. But will your neighborhood, non-chain shops and boutiques?

Rara avis! Is that a book store?

Why do I promote the buy-a-book variant? Because what business is smaller than the author toiling away by him- or herself? Because, as I (and many others) post from time to time, the publishing business is becoming tougher and tougher -- especially for authors. Because more than likely you're a reader, else you wouldn't have stopped by this blog.

So: I'm here to suggest you give serious consideration to books -- whether print or electronic or audio -- for some of your holiday gifting. Friends, relatives, coworkers, your kids' teachers and coaches, the local library you support ... surely there's a book that's right for each of them. And at least one book for yourself, of course ;-)

Suppose you're at a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and a book or author you had in mind isn't on the shelf. Not a problem! Almost certainly, the store will be happy to special-order books for you. (Why? Because they'd much rather do a special order than have you go home and order online for yourself.)

Friday, November 22, 2019

2019 best reads

Thanksgiving 2018 fell as early in the year as possible. In 2019, Thanksgiving comes as late as possible. Nonetheless, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are, once again, almost upon us.

So: on to the latest installment of this annual feature.

As ever, I read a lot: as research, to keep current with the genre in which I write, and simply for enjoyment. Before the holiday shopping onslaught, I like to volunteer a few words about the most notable books from my reading (and sometimes re-reading) thus far in the current year. When I mention a book, you can be certain I really enjoyed it and/or found it very useful. Life's too short to gripe about anything I didn't find notable (much less the several books I elected not to finish).
Presuming that you visit SF and Nonsense because you appreciate my assessment of things, you might find, in the post that follows, books you (and like-minded friends, relatives, etc.) will also enjoy. Unless otherwise indicated, the dates shown are for original publication. Titles are Amazon links, often to newer editions than the original publication (and to Kindle editions, where available).

What's impressed me so far this year? Read on ....

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Discover ... *me*

Many of you drop by SF and Nonsense because you're familiar with at least some of my novels and shorter stories -- but for some visitors, that isn't the case. If you're in that latter group, now's your opportunity ....

Courtesy of my friends at Wildside Press (and with the sign-on of other friends, at publishers Phoenix Pick and FoxAcre Press), I am delighted to point you toward a free sampler of my fiction.

In Discover a New Author ... Edward M. Lerner you'll find four short stories, originally published between 2006 and 2017, plus the opening chapters of:
  • Countdown to Armageddon (2010 / time travel)
  •  InterstellarNet: Origins (likewise 2010 / the first book in my InterstellarNet series)
  • Dark Secret (2016 / epic and existential space adventure)
This sampler is available without charge from Wildside Press in Kindle (mobi), ePub, and pdf formats.

If you enjoy the sampler, well, you can always look for more ;-)

Monday, November 11, 2019

Does size matter?

At a con a few weeks past ("Back (exhausted!) from Capclave"), one of my panels, Does Size Matter?, dealt with the perennial topic of story lengths. As this is a matter of perennial interest among con-goers and aspiring writers, I decided to make it the subject of a post.

How I write: 
  • When the idea comes first -- and for me, usually, it does -- I let the story evolve into whatever length it sees fit.
  • Exception: targeting a market with length (or budget) constraints. Then I start by pondering a (hopefully) compatible story idea.
  • Exception: fine-tuning a completed story to fit a target market’s length constraints.
Now on to a pair of war stories ....

Monday, November 4, 2019

M&M: first review

Popular genre website Tangent Online recently posted their review of Muses & Musings: A Science Fiction Collection. My favorite passage (from among many):

Sure to have something to appeal to almost every reader of science fiction

Release day post
Click here for release-day post
For anyone curious, here's the full Tangent Online review of M&M.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Stray observations

From my Files of the Bizarre:
Lower left: notice the source.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Time for Heroes

For your listening enjoyment ...

"A Time for Heroes," one of my favorite short stories, is newly a podcast at StarShipSofa. The intro/bio starts about 2 and a half minutes in; the story itself at about five minutes. Performance is by the talented writer, gamer, and narrator, Chris C. Chen.

Go to podcast of "A Time for Heroes"