Back to the Future

And so, home from PhilCon 2014. After a night’s sleep and a shower, I am back at the keyboard and back in Tolari space.

The con was wonderful, and kudos to the PhilCon concomm. A great time was had by most, as far as I could tell. (Of course it had its blips. Every con does.) I arrived already signed up for 2 panels and! A reading! and ended up on 5 panels total. Jon McGoran was my partner in crime for the reading (his horror is seriously creepy and seriously funny), and there were actually TWO people present who weren’t related to the readers by blood or marriage.

Don’t laugh. That was progress!

I read from the beginning of The Fall until my time was up.

The most fun I had, I think, was telling a physicist who asked me with genuine puzzlement how I as a non-scientist can write science fiction, that I don’t need to understand how an internal combustion engine works in order to drive a car. I mean, I’ve had that line waiting for a suitable opportunity to use for forever. So, neither do my characters need to know how a Kline-Thompson-Nishida engine works to take an interstellar voyage on a ship equipped with one. I just need to be careful not to hold forth on how the thing works. Therefore, I’m unlikely to write a story from the chief engineer’s point of view. (Apologies to those for whom this comes as a disappointment!)

Although, it occurs to me to note that while I’m not a trained scientist, I am science-aware enough to know when I’m breaking the laws of physics. Which you can get away with as long as you’re consistent about it and don’t go too far into the ridiculous.

But okay, if that’s my idea of fun, perhaps I need to get out a bit more. So! Let’s just say the con was fun.

Back to the future, I sit poised on the brink of writing the thrilling climax of Farryn’s War. And ‘sit’ is the operative term. Having set everything up and gotten my characters where they need to be, I’m sitting on the edge, dangling my heels, wondering why in the wide world of sports I’m hesitating.

Just gotta dive in, I guess. <takes a deep breath> See you later!

The First SF Book I Ever Read


It was 1973. I checked out a book from my junior high school library because it had an interesting cover and took it home to get sucked into a story about a female character who had some kind of adventure taking a ride in the past in someone else’s memories. I’ve always remembered that there was some kind of headpiece or tiara involved, with two green stones imbued with some sort of psychometric powers, one stone of which was missing. Time was, perhaps, an issue. At the end of the story, the main character has recovered the second green stone, and she needs it to… do something important. I think.

I went on to check out and read every single science fiction book in that library (not a huge number, but the Heinlein juveniles were among them, I remember that distinctly). At some point, I finagled my parents into letting me join the Science Fiction Book Club, and I spent the rest of the 70’s reading the likes of Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Silverberg, et al.

Along with the romance novels my mother thought she’d hidden all over the house, of course.

In those early years, I devoured books the way a teenager devours food, indiscriminately and in large quantities. Being bad with names to begin with, I failed to take note of titles and authors. But the stories stuck out in my mind. And while those memories eventually degraded as well, I’ve spent the last 40 years trying to remember what the heck The Book, the first SF book I ever read, was. It was a juvenile of some sort, definitely. I didn’t think it was Heinlein — the memory didn’t have that feel. Andre Norton, perhaps, but I’ve never been sure.

Recently, my husband found a book he’d been trying to remember, and I stepped up my game, actively seeking out The Book. Googling plot elements didn’t work. I began to focus on Andre Norton’s works, hoping that my vague feeling was correct. I found 14 Norton books free on Kindle and downloaded them–it wasn’t any of those. I was stumped. I asked around if anyone remembered an Andre Norton novel involving, perhaps, a female protagonist who experiences someone else’s life through a headpiece with two green stones. No luck.

Yesterday, I was sitting in the green room at Philcon, between panels, chatting with a couple of people, when my husband walked in and plopped a book in my lap. I recognized the cover instantly.

It was The Book.

On a table just outside the dealers room, near the door where Filthy Pierre’s rack of con brochures was set up, my husband saw a stack of “somebody please give me a home” books which included titles by Andre Norton. Mindful of my search, he began to read the dust jackets, and that one mentioned a missing stone, being transported into other identities, and a race against time. He snagged it. And brought it to me.

And I am now the ecstatic owner of the very first SF novel I ever read.

My husband is amazing.

PhilCon 2013: Day 3 – Back to the Present

Nothing like talking about sex at 10am on Sunday morning. Wearing Purple: Female Writers of a Certain Age was a blast. My own conclusion is that having your kids leave home is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and who said sex after 50 isn’t hot, anyhow?

The Future of Privacy at 2pm didn’t so much discuss the future of privacy as the outrage of the listeners at the NSA’s latest exploits.

We are back home and very, very tired in spite of all the fun we had. The heat went out in our room again in the wee hours of this morning, and we were awakened by cold air blowing over us from the heating vent. Oh joy. The husband immediately marched down to the desk and Had A Talk With Them. They sent up 2 blankets and a handyman, and there was heat after that, but no sleep. We were too angry.

The husband repeated The Talk with the day manager first thing this morning got one entire night knocked off our bill. We’re grateful for that, at least.

PhilCon 2013: Day Two – Time Warp the Other Way

My Saturday morning panel, They Aren’t Out There After All, was loads of fun. The rest of Day 2 was spent trying to convince the hotel that the heat in my room was out again.

Day 1 actually turned out pretty much like I predicted, except for fighting with the hotel all day about the [lack of] heat in my room. It took all day to convince the hotel staff that No, I’m Really Not So Stupid That I Can’t Work A Thermostat And The Room Is Really Cold.

They sent up a guy who opened the ceiling and discovered that Gee, The Heat Really Is Turned Off and turned it back on.

Friday night was, at least, warmer, although I had nightmares about how badly I slept in the cold Thursday night.

Honestly, I’ve had better nights of sleep in a Motel 6. I told them that, too.