Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Life and Death on Mars

(May 12, 2024 update Huzzah!! the complication with distribution over which I have no control is resolved. Life and Death on Mars is once more available in ebook formats, including Kindle.)

I'm (beyond) delighted to announce the release today of Life and Death on Mars. In terms of scope, it's one of my most ambitious novels ever.

As though landing people safely on Mars weren't daunting enough ...

The Space Race of the Sixties, at the height of the Cold War, had been nail-biting—until the Soviet Union forfeited.

In the thirtiesamid a second Cold WarChina is not about to lose the race to Mars. Nor is the United States. Nor, quite the wildcard, is a secretive cabal drawn from among the world's multi-billionaires. All of them scrambling to launch deep-space missions on a schedule to make the Sixties contest appear lackadaisical.

Competition that could only continue on the Red Planet.

More treacherous still? The rivalries, resentments, and distrust that simmer just beneath the surface within each expedition.

More difficult yet? Survival on that arid, radiation-drenched, all-but-airless planet.

These challenges have somehow fallen into the lap of NASA engineer—and reluctant astronaut—Xander Hopkins.

But the thorniest problem of all? The existential quandary for which neither training nor experience has in any way prepared Xander? Making sense of the seemingly unstoppable plague that has already killed. The plague that seems poised to devastate all life on Mars and another world.


This being a commercial announcement, I'll offer links to the print edition and Kindle edition at Amazon. The book will also be available soon—if it isn't already by the time you read this—in other print and ebook venues. If your favorite brick-and-mortar store doesn't have it on the shelf, they'll be happy to place an order (to make it painless for the bookseller, here's the ISBN: 978-1647100889).

Monday, December 4, 2023

The Return of the Inter(stellar)Net

The  long-awaited re-release of the acclaimed three-book InterstellarNet series has (finally) arrived. I like to believe it was worth the wait.

What is the InterstellarNet series? To share a few of my favorite reviews:

"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

"A wonderfully thought-provoking story… Lerner's world-building and extrapolating are top notch." 
— SFScope

"Faster-than-light travel is such a commonplace convention in SF that we seldom consider the flip side: a universe in which FTL does not exist. In this book … Edward M. Lerner uses such a universe to great effect." 
Analog Science Fiction and Fact

"An exceptional book in an excellent series … If you enjoy a good story on a large scale told by sympathetic characters, read Interstellar Net: Enigma. If you enjoy space opera, space combat, and unlikely heroes saving the earth, you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy mysteries, the futuristic elements will not detract. This is one of the few novels that combine an action mystery with a sweeping science fiction and excels at being both. Get this novel. Whether you read the others or not, it stands alone. Highly recommended." 
Galaxy's Edge

"… Space opera set in an interesting variation of the standard solar civilization. There’s a little bit of military SF, some intrigue, some wondrous revelations, and some gritty conflicts. Fun." 
Critical Mass

"When people talk about good hard SF—rigorously extrapolated but still imbued with the classic sense-of-wonder—they mean the work of Edward M. Lerner, the current master of the craft. InterstellarNet: Enigma is Lerner’s latest gem, and it's up to his usual excellent standards; a winner all around." 
— Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues

"... 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

Oh, I might also mention that InterstellarNet: Origins (the first of the series) incorporates "Creative Destruction," the novelette that brought me my first appearance in a Year's Best anthology. InterstellarNet: Enigma (third and last of the series) incorporates "Championship B'tok"), the novelette that brought me a Hugo Award nomination. InterstellarNet: Enigma as a whole won the inaugural Canopus Award, "honoring excellence in interstellar writing."

This being a commercial announcement, I'll share Amazon Links. In print:

InterstellarNet: Origins

InterstellarNet: New Order

InterstellarNet: Enigma

For the Kindle:

InterstellarNet: Origins

InterstellarNet: New Order

InterstellarNet: Enigma

If you're a brick-and-mortar shopper and you don't happen to find the book(s) of interest on the shelf, just ask the bookseller to order it for you. (She'd much rather do that than have you go elsewhere.) To simplify ordering, here are the ISBNs:

InterstellarNet: Origins: 978-1515458074

InterstellarNet: New Order: 978-1515458081

InterstellarNet: Enigma: 978-1515458098

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Buy-a-Book Saturday returns (anyway it can, with your help)

Times flies. (Like an arrow, though that's an irrelevant obscurity for today's post. As is that you can time flies with a stopwatch.) 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 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.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Best Reads of 2023

I concede that a year's-best posting before Thanksgiving might seem, well, early. OTOH: 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 sooner rather than later. In any event, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will soon be upon us. At some stores/e-stores, they somehow already are.

If you find none of that convincing? The way 2023 has been, surely anything meriting the label "best" is welcome. Distraction via the books that follow certainly helped me cope. Not to mention that if ever there were a year to support one's favorite authors, 2023 (again! sigh) is it. So: on to the latest installment of this annual feature. 

As always, I read a lot: as research, keeping 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. FWIW, this is my twelfth such compilation. 

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).

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

Thursday, October 5, 2023

A note to book marketers

Speaking solely as a frequent book shopper ...

I see way too many promos -- Kindle Daily Deal spots, BookBub ads, back-cover copy -- boasting within the first sentence that a book is "riveting," "captivating," engrossing," or "page-turning." Worse are the boasts where someone combines the puffery (e.g., "captivatingly riveting"). Whereupon, generally, I lose interest. 

No. Just, no.

Because you know what I get from such assertions? The expectation that whatever's between the covers will be as annoyingly overwritten. In the word-count-limited space available, consider telling me what the book is about. That might interest me.

While I'm venting, color me skeptical of assertions a book is (and I exaggerate only slightly from descriptors I've seen) "John LeCarre meets Emily Dickenson" or "Andy Weir meets the Dalai Lama." 

(Has any promo for a book of mine ever committed such offenses? Once or twice, IIRC. Which isn't to say I was behind it ....)

Ranting ... complete.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

On the Shoals of Space-Time

I'm pleased to announce the publication of my latest novel, On the Shoals of Space-Time.  

Space opera? Check. Near-future expansion into the Solar System? Ditto. Intriguing aliens? Of course. With surprises along the way? I like to think so ;-) 

Sharing a bit more about the book: 

However wildly people had imagined First Contact? They never imagined this.

They weren't supposed to be there. They hadn't planned to be there. But neither had they planned for the near-catastrophic explosion that had all but destroyed their interstellar passenger vessel.

There was somewhere on the far fringes of what the rustic locals—for all they knew alone in the universe—egotistically capitalized as the Solar System. But however primitive these humans, scarcely spacefaring at all, they were the last, best, and—however vanishingly small—only hope for the few surviving passengers of the starship Greater Good to avoid lingering deaths on some remote, icy rock.

And the crew of the tiny spaceship Andrew Carnegie? They entertained no plans beyond keeping secret the identity of their destination asteroid, exploiting its storehouse of precious metals, and fantasizing over how to spend their anticipated wealth.

The universe, once again, didn't give a damn what anyone had planned....

This being a commercial announcement, I'll offer links to the print edition and Kindle edition at Amazon. The book will also be available soon—if it isn't already by the time you read this—in other print and ebook venues. If your favorite brick-and-mortar store doesn't have it on the shelf, they'll be happy to place an order (to make it painless for the bookseller, here's the ISBN: 978-1649731395).

(From the Department of Nothing Is Ever Easy Anymore: for reasons not worth getting into, the publisher moved Shoals from one of its imprints to another. That change led to a delay in the release date. Hence, you might encounter OBE references to a May 2023 edition that's "out of stock" or "unavailable." If that happens, check for "other formats and editions." The novel's actual release, as above, was in September 2023.) 

On a personal note, with publication of this book, my 24th, I can in all honesty speak of my dozens of books :-)

Monday, July 31, 2023

Because (a little bit) less can be more

More and more (irony alert?), I've come to appreciate the novella format.

To be clear, I haven't stopped liking novels. I have, after all, written eleven and cowritten five more. I've got two new novels in the publishing pipeline for -- fingers crossed -- later this year. But not every storyline belongs in a novel.

First things first: a definition. Per dictionaries, a novella is fiction longer than a short story and shorter than a novel. Well, duh. That's not the most useful of descriptions. In the SF field, encompassing most of my work, the pro writers' organization (SFWA, aka the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers Association), has a precise -- if arbitrary -- delineation: a novella is fiction in the range of 17,500 to 39,999 words. Novels, obviously, start at 40K words. Realistically, most book publishers require 80K or more words in a novel; most zines draw the line for novellas at 20-25K words. 

Amazon link
Why my appreciation? Novellas are a format long enough to: tell a complex, multi-layered story. Incorporate rich world-building.  Give characters significant depth. Provide room (when it advances a particular plot) for multiple point-of-view characters. Even, if/when appropriate, to include sufficient back story to connect nicely with an author's other works in a broader fictional universe -- while standing alone in the process. Within length limits that demand the discipline to exclude anything unnecessary. 

All that usually doable in a few weeks to no more than a couple months. On rough average, it takes me a year to write a novel.

Why a declaration of appreciation now? Call it fallout from assembling last year's career-spanning The Best of Edward M. Lerner. I included in that collection, among many more shorter works, three of my novellas -- and kept wishing I'd had page count for more. With that thought recurring (and recurring, and recurring ...), my mind turned to one of the most unusual among my books. 

The Sherlock Chronicles & The Paradise Quartet -- as you've perhaps inferred -- contains two back-to-back novellas. (If you're old enough, this is where you might channel Ace Doubles.) The book had been available for scarcely a year when publisher (and editor, and author, and all-around Good Guy) Eric Flint passed away -- scarcely a year ago -- and the book went out of print and electrons. While it's recently republished by the fine folk at ReAnimus Press, the book's short first run still saddens me.

Amazon link
The Sherlock novella is near-future, in which a bored AI fills its idle nanoseconds solving crimes -- and finding itself in ever more existential situations. The Paradise novella is harder to capture in a sentence. It's far-future. Post-apocalyptic. With generation ships and lost colonies. Also, with its own existential perils. I like both these novellas. A lot

(Oh, here's another thing at which novellas excel: exploring -- in time or space or implication -- ideas previously touched upon in shorter works. Thus it happens that both novellas in Sherlock/Paradise began in shorter stories. Those two nuclei are included in -- (and so, comprise a small part of -- Best of.) 

ANYhow ... perhaps by sharing, I've exorcised the "had to leave 'em out" demon. If I've piqued your curiosity, feel free to click the links under the nearby covers.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

I's dotted. T's (and fingers) crossed

A recurring theme of my posts for a while has been the disappearance and sometimes the reemergence of several of my (mainly older) books. Long story short: in 2021 and 2022, eight books, originally from three publishers, went out of print (and electrons). Even shorter: publishing is a hard business. 

Keeping my titles in print is important to me, so placing these titles at new homes has been a priority. As I type (and for those who have not been keeping score at home), five of the eight orphaned titles are recently back in print and electrons:

  • Creative Destruction (a cyber-themed collection, first published in 2006)
    The new cover

  • Countdown to Armageddon / A Stranger in Paradise (a short time-travel novel plus five shorter SF works, first published in 2010)
  • Frontiers of Space, Time, and Thought (mixed fiction and nonfiction [in both cases, SFnal] collection, first published in 2012)
  • The Company Man (SFnal/noir novel, first published in 2019)
  • The Sherlock Chronicles & The Paradise Quartet (back-to-back unrelated SFnal novellas, first published in 2021*)
(*) I did mention publishing is a hard business. Best stated by Anonymous: "The best way to become a millionaire is to start as a billionaire and then start a publishing company."

Original cover
Today's news (drumroll please) ...

Monday, May 15, 2023

On the Shoals of IRL (aka ... sigh)

Update: May 26. 2023: The book has been removed -- as is appropriate -- from online booksellers' websites. I'll post when the book is rescheduled - and imminent.

So. Way back in October, I announced in this space the release date for my novel On The Shoals of Space-Time. That date: May 23rd. 

Well. May 23rd approaches and ... Things Are Delayed. The delay is out of my hands and the reasons for it would be of little interest to the general reader. Alas, several venues, including Amazon, continue to show that imminent date -- and some shoppers (your interest is appreciated!) have already preordered.

It will happen, but I don't have a revised release date. News in this space as it happens.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Raindrops on roses and covers on books ...

Anyway, some book covers are a few of my favorite things.

I've opined before on this blog (IIRC, most recently in Best of Edward M. Lerner) that I don't have favorites among my own literary "children." After each book's many months -- sometimes, even, years -- of gestation, I've bonded with them all. 

That said, the covers of my books aren't my children. I get to -- and I do -- have favorites. Which we'll come to. Soon.

Some covers are of the artistic school I'll call "SF Default": generic spacecraft juxtaposed against Earth or random space rock. There's nothing wrong with that. Such covers clearly identify space-based fiction, just as other generic covers (cowboy on horse; Six-Pack-Abs Guy shirtless for no obvious reason) signal other genres. But indicating an overall genre is pretty much all this sort of cover accomplishes.

My favorites are the covers that tantalize about the story(ies) to be found inside. That catch the eye. That signal the genre without being generic. I've been fortunate enough for my writing to have inspired some truly great covers. (Some of these books have been reissued; the Kindle links beneath the covers to follow in all cases point to the current editions.)

Without further ado, here are those artistic favorites. Each cover here is well worth clicking through for a larger image.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Because no good interview should go unused

Early this year I prepared a written Q-and-A-style interview -- for a venue that ceased operations before the interview posted. That's life in the glamorous world of publishing. Well, I operate my own venue, now, don't I? 

So, here 'tis that interview. (For more about any title mentioned in the interview -- or about any title of mine, for that matter -- click its thumbnail cover on the righthand column.)

My first book
(in its original edition)
When did you start writing? 

I began writing as a (very) part-time hobby in 1982. My day job at the time, supervising a software-development department, was very demanding—but at least by that October I’d completed the master’s degree program which for years had been consuming all my evenings and weekends. For diversion beginning late that year, I started on what eventually became my first novel (the technothriller Probe), which I sold in 1990 and was published in 1991. Also in 1991, I began a new day job, my most demanding yet. After that, I scarcely had time to write anything new for the next several years.

In 1999, I gave myself a sabbatical to try out the full-time writing life. Fun! After about a year, though, I returned to a day job. Not until 2004, with a contract in hand for my second book (the science-fiction novel Moonstruck, published in 2005) did I become a full-time writer. A second sale suggested the first book wasn’t a fluke.

What drove you to come up with your debut book?

It was on a dare! I was reading something entirely forgettable—and so, its name and author forgotten—and complaining about it. My wife said something like, “I suppose you can do better.” Clearly, I had to try. It turned out I could write and that I enjoyed it. 

Tell me about your published works. How did they happen? 

Mu most recent novel
As I type, I have 23 published books and two more in the final stages of pre-publication. Each one has (pardon the pun) its own story.

Mainly, I write science fiction and technothrillers that revolve around new—or possible future—technologies of particular interest to me. Many of the novels involve space flight. (This seems like a good time to mention that for seven years I worked as a NASA contractor. I know things about space flight.) Other books deal with artificial intelligence and computer science. (By training, I’m a physicist and computer engineer.) I won’t claim to have personal experience in First Contact with aliens or with medical science—but they are interests, and I’ve written novels exploring those topics, too.

Series starter
All that said, sometimes there’s simply a story demanding to be told. That’s how I got involved with a far-future space opera in collaboration with science-fiction Grandmaster Larry Niven. Our first project (Fleet of Worlds) went so well, and was so much fun, we eventually ended up with a five-novel series.

What is your latest book; what does it deal with?

My most recent book
My latest novel (Déjà Doomed, 2021) is science fiction: an archeological, alien-contact mystery—and also a geopolitical thriller—set in the near future on the Moon. Oh, and the stakes are existential. 

My most recent book, however, is a career-spanning collection (The Best of Edward M. Lerner, 2022) with science-fiction stories at all lengths, touching upon every imaginable SF theme. Time travel, space travel, travel between universes, and so much more … they’re all represented in the collection.

Do you deem yourself a pantser or plotter?

I work both ways. At book length, I usually write from a detailed plot outline. If a novel has several point-of-view characters, I always work from an outline—it’s the only way I can keep all the details straight. When a novel is told in first person, however, I sometimes let that character run with the story; that’s the seat-of-the-pants scenario.

For anything shorter than a novelette, I’m quite likely to go the pantser route. 

Monday, April 3, 2023

Bard (Google's newest AI/chatbot) describes me in the style of William Shakespeare

Because, well, why not? 

Edward M. Lerner, a man of letters,
A writer of science fiction,
A teller of tales of the future,
A weaver of dreams of worlds to come.

His words are like a river,
Flowing with ideas and imagination,
Carrying the reader away on a journey,
To places both strange and familiar.

His characters are like people we know,
With their hopes and dreams,
Their fears and doubts,
Their loves and losses.

His stories are like puzzles,
Each one a challenge to the mind,
A test of our ability to think,
To imagine, to create.

Edward M. Lerner is a master storyteller,
A magician of words,
A weaver of dreams.
His work is a gift to us all,
A treasure to be cherished.

So come, let us journey with Edward M. Lerner,
To worlds of wonder and adventure,
To places where anything is possible,
And the future is ours to create.

(However did I waste my time before I had these chatbots to play with? Maybe Bard or ChatGPT will know ...)

Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Company Man (and an epiphany)

 I'm more than pleased to announce my novel The Company Man is back in print and electrons.

TCM was first published by Ring of Fire Press, which closed following the sad passing last year of writer/editor/publisher  and Certified Nice Guy  Eric Flint. The novel has its new home with Phoenix Pick, an imprint of Arc Manor (publisher of several of my recent titles).

If you hadn't encountered this novel in its original incarnation, here's a preview:

Dashiell Hammett meets Andy Weir

The Company Man, lowly accountant for the filthy-richest business in the Belt, has modest aspirations. Air and water not endlessly recycled. Food that had not been freeze dried and rehydrated. A few quiet days at home. And, if he can just figure out how, ripping off the company a bit. Alas, working as he does for evil geniuses, that final ambition seems impossible 
 until, at the end of an interminable trek among remote company mining asteroids, a mysterious emergency preempts his return flight.

Someone has discovered a flaw in the company's legendary security. If people must die to exploit it? That, apparently, isn't an obstacle. Or even the least of the consequences, in the Belt, elsewhere in the Solar System, and across Earth itself. With the body count rising, even the vast fortunes at stake cease to matter  and only the Company Man has a chance of averting interplanetary disaster.

If he survives .…

This being a commercial announcement, here are the Amazon links for The Company Man (in paperback) and The Company Man (for the Kindle). It'll show up soon (if it hasn't by the time you read this) at other online outlets and other ebook formats — and be available from your favorite brick-and-mortar outlet, if you provide the ISBN: 978-1649731296.

And the epiphany of my subject line? Read on ....

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

And ... we have a *title*

In ancient days (last October, that is), I teased, just a tad, in Of world-shaking events, about my then recently delivered Mars-centric novel. I still can't offer a release date -- the publishing process, alas, takes time. But here's one bit of progress. I have the final (versus, merely a working) title.

So: you may want to look forward to Life and Death on Mars. Meanwhile, be thankful you're not my protagonist ...

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.)