Archive for October, 2005

Baen’s Astounding Stories vs. Astounding Tales

Monday, October 31st, 2005

I’ve been thinking about Baen’s venture into the ezine market all weekend. I went back and found the first editorial that I wrote for my version of Astounding Stories before I changed the name to Astounding Tales. I wrote this about two years ago:

What kind of magazine would you like to read? If you had any say in the matter, what would the perfect Science Fiction magazine be like?

For me, it would be Astounding Science Fiction from around 1940 to 1950. This was the true golden era of Science Fiction. The very best stories ever published appeared in Astounding during this period. Unfortunately, Heinlein, Asimov, and the great writers of this time are gone. John W. Campbell, Jr. has passed and there are no great editors left who know how to find the great writers.

I created AstoundingStories.Com with the intent of creating a space for stories like the ones in the original Astounding Science Fiction Magazine. AstoundingStories.Com is a tribute to that classic magazine.

Baen, in his guidelines writes:

Baen’s Astounding Stories has that name for a reason. Without trying to copy them, we want the magazine to have the same flavor as Astounding/Analog and Galaxy (along with IF and Worlds of Tomorrow) did in their heyday.

Interestingly, Baen, at least according to his guidelines, is trying to recreate Planet Stories, Super Science Fiction or the Amazing of the 1950s. These were the grade B zines of the time. While Cambell was trying to find literature and true innovation, Baen is not. Here is what Flint, the editor, writes:

I’m primarily looking for stories pitched at a popular audience, and the center of gravity of the magazine will be adventure stories. Please note that “adventure story” is a very broad term, and is _not_ synonomous with military SF, or, indeed, _any_ kind of “action story” as most people understand the term. I.e., a lot of guns (or rayguns) going off.

AstoundingTales pays $10 for one story each issue. Baen’s Astounding Stories will pay $1000 or more for every story. Baen would not publish work by Adrienne Ray, John Gilbert, Gary A. Markette or the other regulars at Astounding Tales, yet I feel that Arthur Sanchez has made the effort to find good quality SF, Fantasy and Horror that might have felt at home on John W. Cambell’s desk.

Arthur and I have published on time for almost two years and expect to keep on going. How long will Baen’s Astounding Stories last?

Astounding Discussion

Friday, October 28th, 2005

There is long discussion at Baen’s Bar that includes, among other things, someone quoting something that I included in a private email (but my name is not mentioned). Baen contends that he can use Astounding and that it will not cost him anything other than lawyer’s fees. This is interesting stuff. Go to the Astounding Facts topic and click on the Astounding? thread.

Story Submissions

Friday, October 28th, 2005

There are a few new Pro or near Pro zines that have just appeared. I am wondering if they know just how little money there is to be made in free fiction. The zines are Baen’s Astounding Stories (stupid name), Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show (stupid name), and Fantasy Magazine (how can they use that title? At least three zines have used it in the past.)
I submitted trunked stories to the first two to check on their slush process. Since there is no way that Baen will buy from me after the Astounding Stories domain name debacle, I sent them an old version of a story that I have since changed to YA and submitted elswhere. I’ll submit my updated version of The Duke’s Left Eye to Fantasy Mag on Nov. 1 when they open for reading.
I still have stories at Ideomancer (25 days), Ficticious Force (3 days), Fifth Di… (10 days).
I sent a story to Carina at ZenPen. She is doing free critiques. I want to find out why Speed Trap comes back with bizarre comments. I love the story, but I don’t think that anyone actually reads it. I will share the results (if she is gentle in her critique.)

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

I thought that I’d tell you that I turned Harp Amps dot com into a blog. Not to worry, it’s still the same old site, but much easier to update now.
I did some tricks with adwords keywords suggestions and I created about 200 web pages of poular searches on harpamps. They are all linked together in a viral nature and I hope they will be good landing pages for search engines. Here’s and example: Dumble Amps.

Cream at Madison Square Garden 10/25/2005

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

I saw Cream last night (10/25/2005) at Madison Square Garden. I had heard some reviewers saying that they were not all that good on the previous night. I have to say though, that this concert was the best big event that I’ve ever been to. They were great. Clapton played all the Cream tunes as though he had been practicing for 30 years. Jack Bruce looked terribly old, but his voice was strong and he sounded better than on the old records. Ginger Baker proved that he is one of the best blues drummers alive. They played well together and, for just three guys, filled Madison Square Garden with more music than I’ve ever heard, and I’ve been to a lot of concerts.
I recorded the concert on my little electronic thingy, but the sound did not come out as well as Little Charlie and the Night Cats and the other shows that I’ve recorded. I have some very cheesy video also.

These links don’t work anymore. File suckers killed my bandwidth allotment. If you really really need the files, I can point you to them as well as the last night 10/26 sound file taken from the fifth row.

Cream: Tales of Brave Ulysses
(3.5 megs)

Cream: Rollin n Tumblin mp3 (5.8 megs)

Cream: Sunshine of My Love video (20.5 megs) The video is very bad, but the sound is OK.

Baen’s Astounding Stories

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

Baen has started a web zine called Baen’s Astounding Stories. This explains why they wanted to buy the domain name. I have a dastardly plan, which unfortunately is easily thwarted. We’ll see.


Friday, October 21st, 2005

Last spring my furnace burned up and was just luck that I got up in the middle of the night and smelled the burning electrical. I turned it off and this summer tore out the old furnace and bought a new one.

Typically, I procrastinated and I didn’t start installing the new furnace until three weeks ago. I’ve been taking off Fridays and working most of the weekend on piping. Here is $400 worth of copper (left).

I bought 3 cords of wood. When I stacked it, it came to less than two cords so I called the guy. He delivered another truck load, but it is still short of 3 cords. (image right.)

I installed a Jøtul #6 wood stove in my house when I bought it in 1978. It has worked well for almost 30 years, although it has loosened up a little and is not as efficient. I like it because you can open it up and use it as a fireplace. It looks like a large gnome sitting in the dining room.

Here for the cat lovers is Gracie inspecting the new wood pile.

Cream Countdown

Friday, October 21st, 2005

I got my Cream tickets for Madison Square Garden in the mail. Today I listened to Disraeli Gears and Fresh Cream in the truck, when I went to get gas and buy groceries.

The package includes parking on 23rd street.

Justine paid $354.50 each for the tickets. I think this is an outrage. She used her American Express credits to buy them so it winds up costing us $50 each. I am going to discuss it with the poker boys. I’d like to take her out to dinner at least.

Black Hole Extension

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

Anyone who goes nuts (like me) waiting for rejections to show up in their inbox knows about the Submitting to the Black Hole web page at Critters. It is a huge amount of data and I find myself clicking and scrolling entirely too much.
I wrote a little PHP program that spins through the black hole data and displays only the data points from the last 10 days. You get to see what pubs are reporting and you can quickly see if the pub that your interested in is active.
link: Black Hole Extension. (Be patient. It has to pass through a whole bunch of data).

Lists of Fantasy Horror and Other Genre Cliches

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

This is the fantasy version of the Science Fiction Cliches. It’s way too easy to make a list for fantasy.

Grand List of Fantasy Cliches

Here is a generic version for all genres:

Literary Cliches

Here’s a sort-of list of horror cliches in a forum (takes a while to load.)

Horror Cliches

The horror cliches are mostly for movies. I’d like to see a really comprehensive list that includes film and written. It must start with “Don’t go in the cellar”.

Your assignment is to create a really good list of horror cliches. I’ll host it for you if you don’t have your own website.

The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Clichés

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

I found the list of SF Clichés on the wayback machine. I saved it and I am including a link to it. It appears at only because it has dissappeared from the internet. It belongs to John VanSickle and if he finds another spot for his efforts, I will remove it.

The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Clichés

Astounding Domain Issues.

Monday, October 10th, 2005

I own and They all point to the webzine. Last week, Arnold Bailey contacted me saying that he was interested in Mr. Bailey seems to be a web hacker and chief cook and bottle washer at Baen Books. He told me that Baen was interested in my domain.

I had indicated that was for sale and eventually they indicated that they were willing to pay a small amount for the domain and the use of the name Astounding.

I replied that was my webzine and that I would continue to use the name Astounding while I continued to publish the zine.

They gave up and went home.

I had hoped that they would settle for the domain. It is too bad that they did not tell me at the start that they wanted all of the domains. It would have made things simpler. will continue. We have some interesting additions for the December issue. In March, we will have been publishing for two years. At that time, we will think about whether or not to go on to a third year.

Test of Email Blogging

Thursday, October 6th, 2005

I decided to try out email blogging. The html below is from one of those sites that asks twenty questions and then tells you something that you already knew.
I live in upstate NY, but have southern family ties (I was born in North Carolina). The following should be obvious to anyone who has heard me speak.

Your Linguistic Profile:

40% Yankee
35% General American English
25% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern


First Contact and Exploration Team by Murray Leinster

Thursday, October 6th, 2005

First Contact and Exploration Team by Murray Leinster, read by David Warner
Dercum, Unabridged Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 1556561954

To me, First Contact is probably the best Science Fiction story ever written. Murray Leinster creates a wonderful story expressing post WWII sensibilities. When America was incubating the Cold War, Leinster captured the voice of the Astounding Science Fiction reader perfectly. Science Fiction readers in those days were middle class, educated men with a technical background. They probably had a college degree and worked as engineers. (Sound familiar?) This is quite a bit different from today where the handful of young readers of SF found there way to the printed word by way of bad movies or video games.

Leinster, whose real name was William Fitzgerald Jenkins, wrote in a clear voice that appealed to the technical readers of the day. Readers were more practiced in those days. They were better readers. Today a Leinster story would be rejected by editors for too much Tell instead of Show and for not having the quick hook in the first paragraph. His plots would be criticized for being too intricate or too technical. His conclusions might be too much fun or trite or superficial. I want to write just like the man.

I just wrote a short story called Channeling Murray Leinster which is not SF at all, but outlines the problems that I have focusing on my job and life while also trying to work out plots and characters for my Science Fiction stories. I continually ask myself “What would Murray Leinster have done?” Of course this doesn’t help me in real life.

I bought this recording because of the story and the fact that I considering calling my anthology Channeling Murray Leinster (this has been vetoed by Erica – for the time being).

When I first started listening to the tapes the reader, David Warner, sounded very young. However, I soon accepted him as the voice of the young communications officer. Leinster uses an omniscient voice whose viewpoint is just off stage in order to set the scene and describe the voyage of the earth ship, but the communications officer quickly assumes the main viewpoint. (A modern editor would insist on a very strongly defined viewpoint – damn Clarion workshops!)

I truly appreciate the problems of First Contact the way Leinster has described it. He succeeded in creating truly alien Aliens, but gave them beautifully human characteristics. If we find aliens in the reaches of space, we will know that we can deal with them if they have a sense of humor. I am not sure that humor will be as universal as Leinster might indicate in the story, but it does make for a great plot element.

If you don’t know Leinster, I suggest that you pick up The Essential Murray Leinster or a copy of the Murray Leinster Omnibus. I have a bunch of old Astoundings and Analogs with stories by Leinster.

I bought First Contact and Exploration Team quite cheaply ($6.95) from one of the Amazon shops. It is two tapes and is three hours worth of listening. I haven’t listened to Exploration Team, yet. I am sure that I must have read it more than once, but I don’t recall what it is about.

I can’t recommend this tape and any story by Murray Leinster highly enough.