Monday, January 9, 2023

SF antho with a twist

I'm ambivalent about theme anthologies. They can be great -- but limited to a specific topic, all too often an antho's stories, however excellent individually, begin to blur. 

Looking for a great SF antho?
Check these out
Not so the Shapers of Worlds anthologies, edited by Edward Willett, of which I recently finished reading the third-and latest volume in the series. How does Ed consistently dodge the too-much-of-a-good-but-same-thing bullet? With his open-ended theme: stories by spec-fic authors who have been guests on his Worldshapers podcast. And that selection criterion works, because Ed -- beyond his excellence as an interviewer -- has such a great sense for guests to invite. 

Whether your taste runs to hard SF or soft, horror or fantasy, IMO you're apt to find much you'll enjoy in this series. I certainly have, for three anthos running.

(Obligatory disclaimer: I was recently a guest on the podcast. If the series continues long enough, well, I might have a story in it, too. If so, I'll be in good company.)  

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Ending the Year with a Big(gish) Bang

Just in the nick of 2022 time, ReAnimus Press has released new editions of three -- count 'em, three -- of my books. All three are offered in hardback, trade paperback, and ebook formats. 

(Small detail: as I type, only Amazon offerings have appeared. I'm assured the remaining ebook formats will have percolated to other sites and ebook formats within a few days.)

The three reissued books being ...

Thursday, December 22, 2022

A gem of an anniversary

This month, IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, of which I am a longtime member) is observing a milestone we should all be honoring: the 75th -- diamond -- anniversary of the transistor. 

Cover art,
December 2022 IEEE Spectrum
Because what would the world be like without this now ubiquitous device? Because what computer, phone, household appliance, entertainment gadget, vehicle, etc. in your life doesn't require oodles of transistors to function -- while doing way more than their pre-transistor precursors (if any such even existed)? 

The rate of improvement in transistors (and so, the increasingly complex integrated circuits made from them) never ceases to amaze. The ever-plummeting cost. The ever-increasing density. The number of transistors in a single microprocessor chip. 

The Intel 4004 microprocessor, introduced in 1971, had about 2300 transistors. Today's Intel i9 processors have more than three billion.

One snapshot of progress

Beyond general admiration for what this industry has accomplished, and the related industries (including, certainly, anything to do with the Internet), I feel a personal affinity. 

  • As a teen in the Sixties, I marveled at the first truly portable personal music device, that wonder of the age: the transistor radio. 
  • In university classes and summer jobs, I studied and experimented with the first, primitive integrated circuits. (Oh, the terror when, on a college summer job, I accidentally fried an op-amp chip costing $50! Much inflation later, op amps cost ... a few pennies each.) 
  • My first job out of university was at Bell Labs, where the transistor was invented. My first assignment there dealt with upgrading telephone switching equipment (specialized, ultra-reliable computers) from magnetic memory to semiconductor (i.e., transistor-based) memory. 
  • In succeeding assignments and at succeeding employers, I moved with industry from mainframes to minis to micros, and to ever more capable microprocessor families.   

Now try to imagine what marvels new versions of the transistor will enable by the device's 100th anniversary. I, for one, can't wait.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Of soft spots ... and fleeting opportunitities

Updated January 2, 2023: the InterstellarNet series is temporarily out of print and electrons

Authors are frequently asked, "Which of your books is your favorite?" This is (as I've opined before) among our least favorite questions. It's about like asking a parent, "Which is your favorite child?"

With this year's release of The Best of Edward M. Lerner I've at least gained an answer to the related question, "Which of your books should I try?" -- and yet, that career-spanning short-fiction collection isn't the authorial "soft spot" of my subject line. 

It turns out I have, if not one favorite from among my books, a deep connection with a trio of them. This came to my attention when -- with short notice -- I was told my three-book InterstellarNet series is going out of print (and electrons). At year's end. Yup, mere days from now.

Hence, the "fleeting opportunity" also mentioned in my subject line. Unavoidably, this is a commercial announcement. While I'm confident these books/ebooks will be reissued sometime, I can't speak to when.  

Each InterstellarNet novel offers an entirely different take on First Contact -- and yet, all three novels interrelate. Perhaps the essential reason for my attachment to InterstellarNet is the obvious one. A story premise whose first glimmerings shaped a single novelette had such potential that I couldn't set it aside until three novels later. 

Along the way, precursor stories to two of the novels collected, among their recognitions, my first appearance in a year's best anthology and a Hugo Award nomination. One precursor was serialized -- as the lone work of fiction -- in the proceedings of a conference of the UN's International Telecommunications Union. (And aptly so. The ITU was inspiration and role model for my Interstellar Commerce Union.) Oh, and InterstellarNet: Enigma, the third and concluding novel of the series, was a Prometheus Award nominee and winner of the inaugural Canopus Award for a novel "honoring excellence in interstellar writing."

Until year's end, when InterstellarNet begins its unanticipated hiatus, these are the novels (the titles link to Amazon):

InterstellarNet: Origins. We are not alone. Now what? (Other than a cascade of crises, ever more daunting, to bedevil an expanding number of interstellar civilizations for generations.)

InterstellarNet: New Order. Humanity is about to discover that meeting aliens face to face is very different -- and a lot more dangerous -- than long-distance chicanery.

InterstellarNet: Enigma. Humanity once feared that we might be alone in the universe. Now we know better -- and there are far worse things than being alone.

InterstellarNet: Complete. All three novels in a bargain ebook omnibus.

“Edward M. Lerner’s InterstellarNet is one of the most original and well-thought-out visions of an interstellar civilization I’ve ever seen.”-- Stanley Schmidt, Author of Argonaut

Lerner’s world-building and extrapolating are top notch.” -- SFScope

“An excellent series.” -- Galaxy’s Edge

“… A well researched hard science fiction series. Building from today’s technology into a believable tale of the not-so-distant future of characters, ships and planets, I really enjoyed it.” -- Abyss & Apex

Monday, November 21, 2022

Buy-A-Book Saturday ... redux

Times flies. (Like an arrow, though that's an irrelevant obscurity for today's post.) Meaning Buy-a-Book Saturday is once more almost upon us. 

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 neighborhood stores, non-chain shops, and boutiques?

What with the supply-chain problems -- and Black Friday somehow having begun days ago at many retailers/etailers -- even to wait till close to that Saturday (falling quite late this year: November 26) might not be the best of strategies.

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 keeps getting tougher -- especially for authors. Because more than likely you're a reader, else you wouldn't have stopped by this blog.

Because this year has been harder on small businesses, authors included, than most. Yet again.

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 to be found 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.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Best Reads of 2022

Once again, I concede that a year's-best posting this early in November might seem, well, early. OTOH: lingering pandemic. Supply-chain woes. Labor shortages. Postal/UPS/FedEx slowdowns. Not to mention the countless stores that had up Christmas displays well before Halloween. Especially if you (or your reading giftees) prefer material in paper and ink, you may want to undertake your holiday shopping early rather than late. In any event, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will soon be upon us. 

If you find none of that convincing? The way 2022 has been, surely anything meriting the label "best" is welcome. Distraction via the books that follow certainly helped me cope with this dreadful year.

 Not to mention that if ever there were a year to support one's favorite authors, 2022 (again! sigh) is it. So: on to the latest installment of this annual feature. 

As always, I read a lot: as research, to keep current with the genre in which I write, and simply for enjoyment. Before the annual holiday shopping onslaught, I've taken to volunteering a few words about the most notable books from my reading (and sometimes re-reading) thus far in the current year. And a (very small) celebratory woohoo: this compilation is my tenth such post in the series. 

When I name a book, you can be certain I really enjoyed it and/or found it very useful. Life's too short to gripe about books I didn't find notable (much less the several I elected not to finish). Presuming that you visit SF and Nonsense because you appreciate my assessment of things, you might find, in what follows, books you (and like-minded friends, relatives, etc.) will also enjoy. Unless otherwise indicated, the dates shown are for original publication. Titles of recommendations are Amazon links, often to newer editions than the original publication (and to Kindle editions, where available).

This year's summary is unusual in one respect: I'm going to name one book of my own. Because, when calling out standout materials, I could hardly fail to at least mention the career-spanning, carefully curated, SF collection published this year that is The Best of Edward M. Lerner.
 
What's impressed me so far this year? Read on ....

Monday, November 7, 2022

A most enjoyable podcast

Writers of the Future recently hosted a podcast aimed at aspiring science-fiction writers: a conversation with old hands Alan Smale (as it happens, a former WOTF winner), Jeffery A. Carver, Edward Willett, and (because two Eds are better than one ... I'll pause while you groan) Edward M. Lerner. John Goodwin as MC ably herded us SFnal cats. 

It was a fun conversation. Here 'tis, if you're inclined to listen. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Of world-shaking events

I'm delighted to report that Mars: Life and Death (officially only the working title, though no one's yet come up with a better name) has been delivered to the publisher. Trust me: events therein are matters of life and death.

The arena ...
When can you read it? To be determined. These things take time. My best guess is late 2023 or early 2024. 

More news as it happens ...