Monday, December 20, 2021

Ending the year with a bang

 Any year that sees two of my books newly released? That's a banner year. Which 2021 turned out to be, what with the publication of novel Déjà Doomed and collection The Sherlock Chronicles & The Paradise Quartet. I even had the pleasure mid-year of announcing a new novel under contract to be written: (working title) Mars: The Great Race. So, this year -- pandemic aside -- couldn't get any better. Right?

Wrong. This month, I signed contracts for two other books. 

The first is a novel, On the Shoals of Space-Time. This is a first-contact adventure such as -- trust me -- you've never seen. (For those of you who find the title somehow familiar, it's the novelization of a story arc that's been running behind the paywall at The Grantville Gazette. With expanded and new material.) 

The second addresses what have to be any author's least favorite questions: "What's your favorite from among your books?" And "If I want to try one of your books, which should it be?" Questions like, for a parent, "Who's your favorite child?" 

You see, new book #2 is the collection The Best of Edward M. Lerner, offering fourteen career- and topic-spanning works at every length from flash fiction to novella. None of these pieces are excerpts from novels -- I don't believe in those -- but many of them did give rise to sequel stories, or novels, or are illuminating in some way about one of my novels. As appropriate, my per-story authorial reminisces explain these happy events. In short, soon, I'll have my answer to those pesky questions (except about my children).

Do you sense I'm ending 2021 on a happy note?

Sunday, December 12, 2021

MacGuffins and starships and aliens, oh my!

 Alternate title: Of tropes, and (interstellar) trips, and sealing wax

Okay, that's enough semi-obscure references for one day. 

I was pleased recently to revisit Sci-Fi Saturday Night, one of my favorite genre podcasts. Whereas on my first visit, we discussed my latest novel, Déjà Doomed, this time the topic was my nonfiction book, Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction.

Amazon page
(Trope-ing takes an in-depth look at genre tropes -- science used other than literally -- such as faster-than-light travel, time travel, general AI, and the like, including the science that could someday make such technologies possible. The book also offers literally hundreds of examples (from written SF at every length between flash fiction and novel series; from dramatic SF on screens large and small) of the genre using -- and abusing -- science. Here's my original announcement of Trope-ing.) 

Today's post is to share our delightful, roughly half-hour, chat: Irrational Numbers for Rational Science Fiction. I join the conversation at about 6:50 minutes into the podcast. 

Until you have a half hour to spare, the takeaways include, "A trove of wonderful information about the why and how of the science in the fiction. … a must read for any science fiction fan.” and "One of the most important books I've read in a hell of a long time."

(As for the perhaps still-cryptic subject line(s): those were the topics -- among many covered in the book -- on which our latest conversation mainly focused. Well, except sealing wax.)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Buy-a-Book (maybe even *before*) Saturday: broken-supply-chain edition

 It's that time again. With the added wrinkle this year that most anything physical is in short supply and/or stuck on a ship waiting to offload. Books included ...

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, even to wait till close to that Saturday (falling quite late this year: November 27) 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. Paper for printers is just one thing stuck in supply-chain snarls.

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 -- assuming said business survived the pandemic so far and/or venturing out isn't once again an unacceptable risk where you are -- 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.)

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Best Reads of 2021

For a second consecutive year, I must concede that a year's-best posting this early in November might seem, well, early. OTOH, pandemic. Supply-chain woes. Postal/UPS/FedEx slowdowns. Especially if you (or your reading giftees) prefer reading material in paper and ink, you may want to do 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 2021 has been, surely anything meriting the label "best" is welcome. Distraction via the books that follow certainly helped me cope with this dreadful, pandemic-ridden year.

 Not to mention that if ever there were a year to support one's favorite authors, this (again!) 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 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 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 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 ....

Friday, October 8, 2021

A series-ous matter

Today is release day for the umpteenth James Bond movie. I suspect there's hardly an adult or teen living in a First World country who doesn't recognize the name. Franchises continue for a reason -- audience loyalty -- and not only on the big screen. Novel series have likewise been all the rage in recent years.

Marcus Judson Book #1
Many of my books are entirely independent of one another, but I've also been involved in two literary series. The Fleet of Worlds series (with Larry Niven), ultimately of five novels, takes its name from a unique astronomical feature -- the eponymous grouping of flying worlds! -- that figure throughout. The InterstellarNet series, of three novels, is named for the technological glue -- an interstellar comm network -- whose creation, evolution, and consequences underpin, well, everything that happens across a growing number of species, light-years, and decades. I like to believe both series labels pique book-shopper curiosity and sustain reader interest.

Since this past May's release of Déjà Doomed, I've had something of a naming conundrum. Just as James Bond's adventures (setting aside remakes and reboots) are independent apart from some recurring characters, several main characters in Déjà Doomed first appeared in 2012's Energized. Sticking loosely with today's James Bond theme, the lead character in both of these novels, Marcus Judson, has now twice  been -- however reluctantly -- a CIA asset. And, I have to admit, thoughts of inflicting a third adventure on Marcus have been tickling the back of my mind ... 

Marcus Judson Book #2
So: what should I call this latest series? The obvious choice is Marcus Judson, and subtitle books as "A Marcus Judson novel." (Hey, going with the hero's name worked for Ian Fleming. It works, in the SF context, for Jack McDevitt's long-running Alex Benedict series.) I may very well end up going with this choice. 

But I like that my earlier series had IMO catchy names. Hence, a question to those of you who've read Energized and/or Déjà Doomed. Any thoughts about a Marcus Judson series? Any thoughts about an alternative series name? 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Adventures in Space-Time

Updated December 22, 2021

Grantville Gazette readers: if you've been following the (mis)adventures of my alien castaways and their would-be human rescuers, good news! The third and final installment of "Ill-Met in Space-Time" is in the current (September 2021) issue of the zine.

(My favorite banner art for the serial is from the first installment. So that's what you're getting from me. And not just because while the aliens don't have a queen, nonetheless there is a gambit.)

"Space-Time" has been an ongoing project for me for much of the past year, comprised (so far) of "On the Shoals of Space-Time," "Marooned in Space-Time," "Adrift in Space-Time," and now the completed serial, "Ill-Met in Space-Time."

As for you non-Gazette readers ... don't be surprised if at some point I integrate and expand the story arc into a novel.

(Update: there will be a novel :-)    See "Ending the Year with a Bang."

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

CFTAR trifecta

 I was recently invited, in connection with a recent novel's publication, to the author-friendly website Campaign for the American Reader. In fact, host Marshal Zeringue asked if I might contribute to several departments of the CFTAR program. It was my pleasure to oblige.

And so, in the past couple weeks, I've had the following CFTAR appearances:

(Quirky, how? you might ask. The question to be answered is, "If a reader opens a book to the [randomly chosen] page 69, would they get a good sense of it? Why or why not?)

As you might suspect, two of those appearances focused on May's new novel,  Déjà Doomed. The Q&A is more about writing in general.

All, IMO, in good fun.

Friday, August 13, 2021

How could I have missed this!?!

On  July 1, 1991, Warner Book published Probe -- my first novel. 

Original/1991 edition
The 30th anniversary of this career milestone came and went six weeks ago, and I just -- this morning -- realized it. That's madness. Or a senior moment. Maybe both. Regardless, having finally remembered the occasion, I'm going to reminisce a bit. 

(What's the book about? I'll get to that. But nostalgia first -- unless you choose to jump ahead. Which is fine.)

Seeing the novel out the door became quite the adventure. This was in an era before doorstop books, and the acquiring editor wanted my manuscript reduced from 90K words to 75K. Ouch, but ... done. Then he decided my title (Calculating Minds) was too cryptic and pushed for the yet more cryptic Chimera. Then the art department complained -- fairly enough -- they didn't know what cover art went with Chimera, and we wound up with the apt but generic title of Probe. Not that final art for the Warner edition even showed a space probe ...

Second/2000 edition
Beyond being the pre-doorstop-book era, the early Nineties was an epoch of turmoil in publishing. My acquiring editor, champion of the book, left Warner. And his replacement. And his. All before the book was through the editorial process and release to booksellers. Exciting? You bet! Helpful? Not!

Then, to the utter confusion of booksellers and readers alike, the same day my novel came out, a Star Trek-franchise novel of the same name was also released. 

But for all the pain along the way (and, to be fair, education about how the publication world works)? Much good came of it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Has the time come? Are we (as opposed to my protagonists) *less* doomed?

Is anyone ready to get out of the house and resume normal life? And I don't mean to observe Bastille Day. (I hear a resounding chorus of "YES!")

Then please join me for my first post-COVID book signing, upcoming on Saturday, August 7th (2 to 4 PM) for Déjà Doomed

Unfamiliar with this, my latest novel? That's easily remedied. "DÉJÀ DOOMED is ... finalement here :-)" is what I posted on its recent release date. Naturally, I'll be happy to discuss it -- or pretty much anything -- in person.

Where? you ask. The Winchester Book Gallery, on the lovely walking mall of scenic, historic Winchester, VA. 

(How historic? The oldest English-speaking settlement west of the Blue Ridge. George Washington's headquarters during the French & Indian War. Where Washington first won public office, to the Virginia House of Burgesses. Changing hands over and over during the Civil War. All a mere 75 miles from downtown DC, and almost as close to Baltimore. You can make a day of it.)

Unable to come? Well, I'll miss you -- but your favorite local bookstore or etailer will be happy to accommodate you.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

The Sherlock Chronicles / The Paradise Quartet

Subtitle: When publishing worlds collide

Alternate subtitle: The other shoe drops

On average it takes me about a year to write a book. Publishers take anywhere between a few months to two years to turn a delivered manuscript into a finished product. (Don't ask me to explain the range. I can't.) Some years that means I have no new book released, while other years I have two, or even three, books released -- no matter that (as I've said) I don't begin to write this quickly. And to publicize two books close together means short-changing both ....

Hence, today's post is actually Installment Two of my book-release news for May. (If you missed the first installment, see DÉJÀ DOOMED is ... finalement here :-)) Still, I'll argue, today's update was/is worth the wait :-)  


The Sherlock Chronicles

A mile a minute? Nonsense. Even a meat brain knows “mind going a mile a minute” is mere metaphor. For a quantum mind, a light-second per minute would be nearer to apt, if sadly sans alliteration. Ordinarily, I have my metaphorical fingers in hundreds, even thousands, of figurative pies. Any less stimulation than that is boring, and boredom is the bane of a q-mind’s existence.

That events in the “real” world often strike humans as inexplicable is hardly surprising. Meat brains have limits. And so, when an opportunity presented itself, I thought: why not lend a virtual hand? Every moment of diversion was welcome, and this “case,” surely, a harmless amusement.

Thus began my detective phase. Only I couldn’t have been more wrong about harmless ….

And if an AI PI isn’t intriguing enough, there’s also The Paradise Quartet

A triumph of ingenuity and sheer willpower has delivered a dying generation ship to the exoplanet Paradise. Too bad the ingenious biotech the colonists deployed to settle on that planet triggered an inexorable devolutionary cycle.

Thousands of years later, possible rescuers arrive—and are themselves ensnared in the manmade trap that is Paradise. Escape will require new ingenuity and more multi-generational striving ….

Two great adventures in one volume.

As this is a commercial announcement, I'll share the Amazon links for Sherlock/Paradise in print and Sherlock/Paradise for the Kindle (different retailers, of course, have other popular ebook formats).

Thursday, June 24, 2021

I meet the press (sort of)

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the House of Mystery,  a program airing on NBC radio stations in several major West Coast markets. Hosts Al Warren and Dave North-Martino made me most welcome, and the conversation was delightful. We talked about some of my favorite things: science, science fiction, the writing process, and -- near and dear to my heart these days -- Déjà Doomed, my latest novel.

Our conversation is now streamable. 

Herewith, thanks to Al and Dave -- and to Mickey Mikkelson of Creative Edge Publicity for making the arrangements.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The cat in the bag being no longer like Schrödinger's

Now that the publisher has publicly announced this project, there's no reason I shouldn't, too --

I'm newly under contract with Arc Manor LLC, my frequent publisher the past several years, for a novel on colonizing Mars. We both hope and expect this novel will kick off a series. 

Happy days ahead ... while still way to earlier to offer any prediction about the publication date.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Stepping (far) outside my comfort zone

The nomination period is underway for this year's prestigious Dragon Awards. And (wouldn't you know it?) my latest novel, Déjà Doomed, released one short week ago, is eligible. 

As awkward as bringing up this info makes me feel ....

Unlike the few other major genre awards, Dragon Con's nomination and voting process has neither membership nor member *fee* requirements. Details, for anyone interested in considering the nomination of any SFnal "books, games, comics, and shows" can find details (like the nomination deadline of July 19, 2021) by just clicking this Dragon Con banner:


(Anyone but me remember the lyrics to "I'm a reluctant dragon?")

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

DÉJÀ DOOMED is ... finalement here :-)

I've really looked forward to making this post. Why? Because Déjà Doomed -- with or without the accent marks, search engines being entirely indifferent to them -- was officially published earlier today.

Also, there's no expectation anyone reads French ;-)

What if First Contact becomes ... Last Contact?

On the Moon's far side, shielded from Earth’s radio cacophony, Americans are building a radio-astronomy observatory. Russians sift the dust of a lunar "sea" for helium-3 to run future fusion reactors. Commercial robots, remotely operated from Earth, roam the Moon's near side in a hunt for mineral wealth. Why chase distant asteroids for precious metals? Onetime asteroids must lie close beneath the much-bombarded lunar surface.

Then a prospecting robot encounters a desiccated, spacesuited figure. An alien figure ….

Americans dispatched from the lunar observatory investigate. Near the original find, underground, they discover an alien installation. Lunar Russians, realizing that the Americans are up to something clandestine, send their own small team. Each group distrusts the other … even before the fatal "accidents" begin. By the time anyone suspects what ancient evil they have awakened, it may be too late -- 

For everyone on Earth, too.

"Impressive character work and invigorating twists … a buried lunar treasure."

Publishers Weekly

Monday, May 17, 2021

“Holy crap, this is a great book.”

(Last updated March 5, 2022)

Okay, that may be my favorite blurb ever. It's about Déjà Doomed, a direct quote from my recent interview on podcast Sci-Fi Saturday Night. 

Surrounding the forthcoming (May 25) release of this novel, lately I've done several interviews -- not all yet posted -- with more to come. Also, formal reviews will start to roll in. So: I decided to maintain a post with links to those reviews and interviews. Here's what's been posted so far:

Interviews

Sci-Fi Saturday Night (audio)

Top Shelf Magazine (written)

Southside Broadcasting / U. of Lincoln (UK) (audio)

Chat with everything-award-winner Robert J. Sawyer (written)

Pen for Hire (video)

Book Lights (audio)

Going North (audio)

Awesome Book Promotion (written)

Writers Showcase (video)

NF Reads (written)

The Author Library (video)

NBC House of Mystery (audio)

Schmidt Talk (audio) (those intermittent whines and bangs are on the interviewer's end!)

Reader's Entertainment (written)

A Campaign for the American Reader trifecta, at My Book, The Movie , the quirky-but-fun Page 69 Test, and Q&A with Edward M. Lerner (all written)

Reading Nook (written)

Literary Lounge (audio); I'm introduced at ~15.5 minutes into the show. While the hosts and I discuss my career in general and several of my books, more than anything (if toward the end), it's Déjà Doomed.  

Author Talk (video [as posted on Facebook]). About my books past and future, snow, cooking, and other sundry.

Worldshapers (audio). All about my writing journey, interviewed by fellow SF author Edward Willett.

Prachesta (written): general, with mentions of Déjà Doomed and forthcoming books.

Reviews

Publishers Weekly

H. M. Gooden (author of The Rise of the Light series)

National Space Society (spoiler alert)


Stay tuned :-) 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Monday, March 1, 2021

A small change of pace

During the pandemic, I've mainly worked on fiction at length: a novel (Deja Doomed, coming your way -- if you are so inclined -- May 25), novellas, and novelettes. January 2021, for example, saw the third novelette published in the "Shoals of Space-Time" series about desperate, marooned aliens. But sometimes things far more whimsical insist on getting out ... 

And so, published today at The Grantville Gazette / Universe Annex, I have a bit of flash fiction: "Sock It to Me." If you happen to remember Laugh In from the Sixties? The new story is that irreverent (if not as slapstick). 

And two slightly longer shorts are newly seeking their homes :-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Always a pleasure

 I've been a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, aka IEEE(*), for (cough cough) years. Among my favorite perks of membership is the monthly magazine, IEEE Spectrum

(*) The world's largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology

There's some bonus satisfaction when an article or entire issue channels some aspect(s) of my own writing. As happened with the current month's issue ...

"How so?" you ask. (Go ahead. Ask. Humor me.) Well, see the zine cover's stylized neural net for the control of that prosthetic arm? The hero of my 2008 technothriller Fools' Experiments had just such a prosthetic. The underlying technology played a major role in the novel's plot. (As does AI, if not always in the sense of the Spectrum articles.)

IMO, the magazine's art would've worked better for the novel than the art of any of the editions to date. The latest novel cover is nearby. (Should you be curious about the title, it's from a Charles Darwin quote: "I love fools’ experiments.  I am always making them." A quote that's entirely germane ....)

As it happens, I also covered neural interfaces in Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction (2018). I really like that book's cover art.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A big step closer

 What UPS dropped off for me this afternoon :-)

Advance Reading Copy
Things are looking good (as the cover states) for May 25 ....

Friday, January 1, 2021

To a happier year

For a while now, admittedly, I've not been in a blogging sort of mood. 2020 was that kind of year. OTOH, it's now ... 2021. Here's hoping it's more upbeat for, well, everyone

As one small, personal bit of good cheer, I'll note that The Grantville Gazette (Universe Annex) just posted my latest novelette. "Adrift in Space-Time" is the third story in a series.

Let that be a (good) omen :-)