Archive for September, 2010

State of the Blogosphere

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Technorati is doing it’s yearly survey.

If you have a blog click on the link and fill out the form. The results are always interesting.

PKD memorabilia for sale

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Theresa Dick is selling off some of the last of her possessions to pay her Electric Bill. Dick’s daughter’s seem to have been able to make a little money, but Theresa, Dick’s 5th wife, hasn’t received much, if anything, of the meager income that a dead SF writer generates.

She’s selling Philip’s watch and a documents signed by him (including her marriage certificate). This is a real shame, I’d love to own the watch, but I am guessing it will go for at least a few thousand.

I really need the $, to keep my utilities on and keep my house. I have nowhere to go, and no car to take me there. I will consider all serious offers.You can bid on any of these items by contacting me by email –

tuffy777 @

Here’s an image of Philip K. Dick’s wristwatch, the one that he wore to the convention in Metz, France. It works, but it does need a new battery.I really need the $, to keep my utilities on and keep my house. I have nowhere to go, and no car to take me there.  I will consider all serious offers.

You can bid on any of these items by contacting me by email –

tuffy777  @

Here’s an image of Philip K. Dick’s wristwatch, the one that he wore to the convention in Metz, France.  It works, but it does need a new battery.

via Tessa Dick Presents: It’s a Philip K. Dick World!: PKD memorabilia for sale.

A Cyber Assassination Confirmed?

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

This sounds like a great short story idea.

In Italy, not too long ago, a mob boss was shot but survived the shooting. That night, while he was in the hospital, the assassins hacked into the hospital computer and changed his medication so that he would be given a lethal injection. He was a dead man a few hours later. They then changed the medication order back to its correct form, after it had been incorrectly administered, to cover their tracks so that the nurse would be blamed for the “accident.”via A Cyber Assassination Confirmed? | Defense Tech.

Efficient stairs | space saving stairs

Monday, September 27th, 2010

When I moved into this house there was a second floor that was only reachable by a stairway in the bathroom. You had to climb over the toilet to get upstairs. I knocked out some walls, moved the bathroom and put a spiral stairway in the living room. I loved it.

Later, after we had paid off the first mortgage, we refinanced and put a conventional stairway in the house. It takes up lots of room and does not have the charm of the spiral stairs.

I saw this stairway today. Someday, I hope to have another house with a spiral stairway, maybe this one. The tilted center pole helps make up for the wasted space that spirals have under the treads.

There are many situations where a property can be enhanced by creating a usable space from a redundant upper level, however a consistent factor is limited space. The introduction of a staircase to provide access to a proposed upper level will invariably compromise the floor space below where originally no stairs was intended.

via Efficient stairs | space saving stairs.

Harlan Ellison Says he’s Dying

Friday, September 24th, 2010

One of Science Fiction’s interesting characters claims that he is dying and will say goodbye to everyone at the MadCon SF convetion (Madison, Wisconson).

There will be many people who will say “It’s about time!” Harlan is not well liked. He is a very good writer, although probably not as good as he thinks. He is very outspoken and is famous for being obnoxious and insulting.

I am guessing that this is just something that came to Harlan on a whim. We are all dying, just some of us are a little closer to that final event. He may actually be sick, although I hope not. SF needs more color commentary of the kind Harlan Ellison is good at. I hope that he goes on annoying people for many years.

If you don’t recognize the name, Harlan Ellison wrote, among other things, the Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”, which, in my opinion, is one of the top 5 Star Trek episodes in the whole franchise. It may be the best, depending on how I am feeling on any one day.

Harlan Ellison wrote many great Short Stories in the 60s and 70s and edited a series of collections called Dangerous Visions. Ellison’s stories and the stories he selected for Dangerous Visions were extremely influential in the genre. Few people can claim to have altered the essence of SF.

It’s too bad he’s such an asshole, even if he is a genius asshole.

At MadCon, an ailing Harlan Ellison will say goodbye – Isthmus | The Daily Page.

Boldy cut pizza where no man has cut before!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

via ThinkGeek :: Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter.

Boldy cut pizza where no man has cut before!

Space… the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new pizzas, to seek out new toppings and new cheeses, to boldy cut pizza where no man has cut before! Yes, this officially licensed Star Trek collectable is everything you hoped it would be. Laser etched stainless steel blade and solid metal construction make it perfect for battling Romulans in the neutral zone or precision pizza slicing.

You’ll find that even though the prime mission of the Enterprise has now become very pizza centric, the chrome plated metal construction and padded gift box make the Enterprise pizza cutter a true Star Trek collectable. Plus it looks great on your desk even when not being used to cut your favorite cheese and sauce laden foods.

Collectable Official Weaponry To Boldly Cut

Product Features

* Metal Pizza cutter in the form of the famous NCC-1701 Enterprise ship from Star Trek the original series

* Officially licensed Star Trek collectable

* Laser Etched Stainless steel blade with solid zinc-alloy chromium plated body

* Exclusively designed and manufactured by ThinkGeek

* Blade diameter: 4 inches

* Total length including blade: 8.5 inches

* Weight : 277 grams

* Hand wash only

V— Bubbles from Hell

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Robert sent me this. It is NSFW, even without nudity. I will have nightmares tonight.

Click on your own peril.

The Science Fiction Showcase Award for New Writers

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Carl Slaughter, in an announcement over at, has offered to review stories for “The Science Fiction Showcase Award for New Writers”. I think he may be crazy, but maybe not. He obviously loves doing critiques, and has the capacity to read reams of stuff.

In his announcement he spends lots of time discussing what he thinks are the essential elements of SF and what makes a good SF story. I find myself agreeing with 99.9% of it. He does seem to know what makes a good story. Rather than seeing Carl give out awards, I’d rather see him as the editor of a major Science Fiction magazine.

Carl, if you need any tech help – give me a shout.

There’s a lot here, and most of it is meat. Read on:

I’ve been mulling this idea for 3 years. I think I’ve got 99% of the angles covered. Every new project will have issues. I’ll iron out the kinks as I go.

According to the original definition, a science fiction story explores the results and implications of science. The science fiction genre has become a large umbrella for a variety of speculative fiction. IMO, these other genres should go by the general name speculative and leave the science in science fiction.

So I’m looking for stories with an indispensable science element. If you can take the science out of the fiction and still have a story, it’s not science fiction, it’s just fiction. I’m not looking for space opera, superhero, alternate history, franchise, fantasy, sword-n-sorcery, god/devil, mythology, fable, horror, etc. Dramas and romps alike are welcome.

Contrary to what you might have heard, cloning, time travel, telepathy, artificial intelligence, etc, are not worn out science elements. The LGM (Little Green Men – kpg) subgenre seems to have unlimited potential, especially in comedies. I read a delightful one in Asimov’s 30 years ago and nice one in Analog a few weeks ago. I’m especially interested in stories that blend current environmental issues with near future plausible science. (Ask me why.)

Characters can be humanoid/android, Earthling/alien, eugenic, mutant, etc. No dragons, vampires, unicorns, mermaids, zombies, witches, angels/demons, ghosts, etc, even if the story includes a major science element. These species spawned in a different genre and carry baggage, so we’re not going there. If it’s a dystopia story, the dystopia needs to rely on or be caused by the science factor. Same goes for futuristic survival. NASA type stories usually put me to sleep. I’ve never read a science fiction sports story I consider memorable.

Don’t jazz up the story with nanotechnology, teleportation, FLT, stargating, tractor beams, force fields, cloaking devices, phasers, and other science elements that aren’t crucial to the science fiction premise. (Rockets and rayguns a science fiction story do not make.) Same goes for littering the story with various aliens whose characteristics and culture might be fascinating to explore but whose alienness plays no essential role in the premise or plot. Don’t try to sound cool by saying bot instead of robot, grav instead of gravity, etc. Don’t consume enormous amounts of word count with launching, orbiting, landing, adjusting equipment, etc. I have a habit of giving up on a story if the science fiction premise isn’t established early enough. Same goes for stories with too many science terms I have to Google.

The only style rule is that the style you choose needs to be the style best suited for the story. Contrary to what you almost certainly have been told, show isn’t always inherently better than tell, activity isn’t always inherently better than dialog, activity or dialog isn’t always inherently better than narrative, neither first nor second nor third person narrative are inherently better than the other two, you don’t have to open with the most dramatic moment in the story and then rewind, you don’t necessarily have to list the contents of a room or describe a character’s physique and clothing, the story doesn’t have to be organized like a 3 act play, dream sequences and info dumps are effective tools if used carefully, etc, etc, etc. The style doesn’t dictate the story, the story dictates the style. ‘Nuff said.

Although great stories as long as 15,000 words have held my attention, a word count over 8,000 discourages me from reading. In addition to personal time restraints, I’m trying to help new writers break into magazines and anthologies and those markets have space issues.

Literary standards are credible premise, sophisticated plot, consistent and strong character development and character interaction, reoccurring themes, vivid scenes, etc. Avoid graphic sex, gory violence, excessive profanity, bodily excretions, etc. Tread lightly on rape, drug abuse, etc, even if it’s integral to the science. Pseudonyms are OK. Don’t even think about plagiarism. Feel free to explain what you tried to accomplish with the story, but put the explanation at the end of the story.

I neither know nor care about what’s trendy. Nor will a lot of people who read your story in 10 years. Nor will most people who read it in 50 years. Nor will anyone who truly appreciates it. Write about ideas you’re passionate about. Write about ideas with plenty of potential to explore. Leave the trendiness to the trendsetters and trend followers.

via Carl Slaughter at Critters Writers Workshop.

Short Stories

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I started a new short story yesterday. I finished my work up a little early and didn’t want to start anything new in the last half hour of work so I wrote 1,200 words. I like what I wrote and made some changes at home while I watched TV. 1,200 words is a nice bit for 30 minutes work. In a very boring meeting this morning I made notes about the story and outlined three different ways the story could go. It is a good story and I hope I can find time to work on it again. It looks like another 7,000 word story, though. These longer stories are harder to sell.

I received a rejection on my perennial short story, and it is now up to 28 rejects. I sent it out to Pedestal Magazine which has a return time of about 35 days. I had planned to send this story to Gary Marquette at at the end of October for their reading period, but I just noticed that Pedestal is currently taking more than 60 days to respond, and I could miss AnotheRealm’s reading period.

I wanted to send to Gary for nostalgic reasons. AnotheRealm published a one of my flash piece “Pigs are People, Too” back in June of 2003. This story was an unpaid entry into their flash contest, and it did not place in-the-money, so I don’t count it as a publication credit. It was however the first place my fiction had appeared in more than 30 years.

Later, Gary had been featured in my ezine Astounding Tales. I like his sense of humor and writing style, so there was a faint hope that he might appreciate the weird sense of humor in my short story. I know that there is little or no hope for this story to ever be published, but I wanted Gary to have the honor of issuing its 30th rejection. I think he would appreciate the irony, even if he hates the story.

My problem is that the story will be out at Pedestal until around November 20th, well after the AnotheRealm submission period ends. Pedestal allows “simultaneous” submissions, which means that you can submit the story somewhere else at the same time. AR’s guidelines say nothing about sim-subs. I know that at least one of last year’s stories at AR had been previously published, presumably due to simultaneous submissions.

If I have not heard back from Pedestal by the end of October, I will sim-sub the story to AR. I presume that I will not be accepted at Pedestal so there should be no problem. If, by some strange twist of fate, I am accepted at one of these magazines while still waiting on the other, then I have to notify the loser – unlikely, though.

The Skylark is Closing

Monday, September 20th, 2010

One by one, all the old businesses in Nyack have passed on. Nyack is now a village trendy shops and antique stores in the day. At night there are dozens of almost identical bars catering to young people.

One of the last places still open that I remember from by early days in Nyack is the Skylark Cafe. One of the first places that I took Erica was the Skylark. I liked to order tea and an English Muffin back then (1969).

The Skylark has changed hands many times since, and I haven’t had a cup of tea there in 30 years or more. I doubt if it still has the flavor of the old fashioned lunch counter that it once was.

It will be called the Johnny Cakes from now on, which I am told has something to do with the Sopranos TV show.

(picture by Squirrel)

Nyack Snap: Goodbye Skylark, Here’s Johnny.

Nasty scam made it past my spam filter.

Friday, September 17th, 2010

This note did not get caught by my spam filter.

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes,i came down here to,England for a short vacation and i was mugged at gun point last night,at the park of the hotel  where i lodged all cash,credit cards and cell were stolen off me, thank God i have my life and passport.

I’ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all,they asked me to wait for 3weeks but i can’t wait till then. my flight  leaves in less than few hours from now and am are having problems settling the hotel bills.

The hotel manager won’t let me leave until i settle the hotel bills,am freaked out at the moment you can speak to the hotel manager+447024094501 you can wire the money to me through western union all you need is Name on my passport and location below.

Name:xxxxx xxxxx
Location:xxx ,xxx Street, London SE1 2BY, England.
I’ll def refund your cash as soon as i get home.

It seems that this is from one of my ex-customers at freenameastar. She must have had me in her email address book and some malicious software is sending these out. I have notified the person that there is a problem. The address in the email is almost certainly the person’s real address.

The phone prefix #447 is Uzbekistan.

The moral is: NEVER NEVER EVER send money through Western Union. It is only used by scammers.

This day in 1609

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

On September 14th, 1609 Henry Hudson was rumored to have stopped by Nyack, in his search for the Northwest Passage, not far from where I grew up. He either stopped by somewhere near the foot of Main Street or else up the River in Peekskill, NY, depending on who tells the story. He described Hook Mountain and found the natives charming.

The Native Americans that Hudson met were actually from out on Long Island and were only up at Nyack because of the seafood. Nyack means Good Fishing, but only in a long Island Lanape dialect.

The Native Americans who actually lived in or near Nyack (Weckquaesgeek (Wappinger) and Tappan tribes) weren’t as friendly, and in 1643 they nearly wiped out the Dutch settlers murdering hundreds of them and sending the rest fleeing downriver to the growing city of New Amsterdam. The Dutch reprisal was brutal, killing thousands of local Indians, including women and children.

Here is one description of the awful Dutch atrocities:

“Infants were torn form their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone. Some were thrown into the river, and when the fathers and mothers endeavored to save them, the soldiers would not let them come on land but made both parents and children drown…”

A 1634 map showing some of the tribes of the Hudson Valley. The Dutch called the Hudson the Maritius River. The River Achter Kol is now known as the Hackensack and still flows about a half mile from where I am living. Nyack is near the river where it indicates that the Tappaen tribe was living between the two rivers. The green land at the head of the Achter Kol can only be the West Nyack Swamp. The Palisades Mall is built on that swamp and is slowly sinking into the muck.

Nyack history is a little more than Henry Hudson sitting down for tea in 1609.

Note: None of my ancestors were in Nyack in 1643. The Mayflower bunch were scratching out a living in Plymouth, Gerrit Hendrickson was still up state as an indentured servant, and Polhemus was on his way to Brazil. The Hunts would not arrived on Long Island until 1684, and my Scottish and Irish Ancestors would be taking pot shots at the British for another 200 years before hopping on a boat.

Story Submissions

Monday, September 13th, 2010

I got back my story from LightSpeed over the weekend. I reread the story and changed the ending. It was something I wanted to do but forgot about. I think the ending is a little better now.

The main character is a 12-year-old girl with Downs Syndrome. I want to create unexpected characters and I think that I have done a good job with her. Using a Down’s child as a main character is a risk and probably won’t fly with some editors and readers.

I am concerned that the beginning is a turn-off. The problem is that in the first scene she discovers a dead body. It is a little icky, but I wanted to contrast that with the personality of the girl. I think that some editors will not read past the discovery of the body.

I ran the story through various grammar and word checkers trying to catch all the “this makes no sense” errors that I am guilty of putting in a story.

It went out to ClarkesWorld today and I expect a rejection 9 to 12 days from now. I am #218 in the queue. He has been responding in 10 or 11 days so figure he has to read 20 or more stories a day to keep up.

it is a long story (6500 words), perhaps too long for many SF zines.

John W. Campbell used to read 500-600 stories a month for the 20 or so years that he edited Astounding (later Analog) Magazine (That number is nearly the same today as it was in 1938. The pro SF magazines like ClarkesWorld still get up to 800 a month). He claimed to be the world’s authority on bad science fiction. Fred Pohl spent almost as many years editing IF, Galaxy and Bantam books. I am sure that Neil Clarke is feeling his eyeballs slowly burn out reading his 20 or so bad SF stories a day.

If Wishes . . .

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

I finished a story today named If Wishes . . . that wound up being 6400 words. This is a long story for me. I wrote part of this last year and then started over from scratch because I didn’t like the way it started. I have learned that you can’t just start a story at the beginning and go to the end. You have to set a tone and get the reader involved right at the start. You can’t go backwards and fill in details. The story has to work from the start without explaining things. This is not easy and as soon as you have to explain something that happened in the past, you risk losing the reader.

I submitted to because they respond in 1 or two days. I should get rejection in a few days. It is normal to feel remorse and go back and alter the story. Since lightspeed responds so fast it is impossible to succumb to the need to withdraw and resubmit a rewrite. When I get the story back I will go over it once more before submitting it to the next market on my list. As I get each rejection I typically will polish, tweak and fix the story before sending it out again. The story changes the more it is rejected.

Pro Markets I submit to and response time:
Lightspeed – 1.5 days
Clarkesworld Magazine – 3.5 days
Futurismic – 14.7 days
On The Premises – 29.2 days
Apex Magazine – 31.3 days
Asimov’s Science Fiction – 33.1 days
Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show – 41.1 days

I will run out of the pro markets in almost 5 months. Since a 40 day response is as much as I will tolerate, I will start with the faster semi-pro markets after that and probably sell the story by the 10th time out.

I want this story for my anthology so I may go right to the semi-pro markets so it gets published and then I can include it. I want to release my anthology before Christmas.