...where I post the kind of original content l post on my blogs (primarily Tumblr at the moment, keep meaning to visit here more!), plus a bunch more. Of course I’ll share it all with you fabulous lot!
Me from an interview piece
In addition to the types of things I post elsewhere, my Patreon includes original stuff that’s too long for Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and so forth. Like:
  • Short fiction (including work written from patron prompts!), both WIPs and (eventually) completed work.
  • Scenes and chapters from novels-in-progress.
  • Personal tales from Stories from a Perilous Youth, the memoir of how I survived ridiculous events I had no reason to, and what I learned from all that.
  • My YA science fiction series, The Galactic Adventures of Jack and Stella – the first book of which is nearly complete! I’ll be looking for patron feedback.
  • In-depth writing advice from my decades of teaching writing workshops and taking them with the most brilliant minds in the field.
  • Spacey astrophotos, cute animal pics, and other photos.
  • Maybe even some videos, if there’s call for it.
  • And more. See below for what I've posted so far.
Things that’ll add up to longer works, I’ll collect into books or novels or whatever format is best, and then make available to everyone as revised, finished, professional books as we meet the listed Goals to support free art for all.

Oh, and I’ll start each month by asking subscribers to provide input, if you want. Not only will that help me develop my work - I love brainstorming and hearing constructive feedback (even if it takes letting go to fully embrace criticism, a skill which all creatives would do well to learn) - it’ll also help make my work more the kind of thing you want to see.

I’ll always try to remember to post links here so you can come read stuff and interact if you want! I don’t want to stop doing the “give it away free and rely on the honesty of readers to give me back what they feel it’s worth, and they can afford” model that I’ve been doing and want to do more of.

But my virtual community is where my heart belongs! You won’t lose me to Patreon like some who started theirs and left their social networks. In fact, if you subscribe or become a Patron, you’ll get even more of my stuff. If you want.

I'm making everything I contractually can publicly viewable, so my Patrons are patron of the arts for everyone who wants to see my stuff. Here's everything I've posted so far, from oldest to newest, fully illustrated:

Update: I’ve continued posting more good stuff if you’d like to check it out. Because we’ve hit the “Unlocked for Everyone” goal for most stuff, everything I’ve posted so far is publicly visible whether you’re my patron or not.

Here’s what’s new on my Patreon since I originally posted this:

Thanks to my generous patrons for making this available to all! Lots more to come.Hope you like it!

McKitterick’s Patreon

Ad Astra,
Chris


WOOHOO! I'm a finalist for the AnLab Award for my novelette, "Ashes of Exploding Suns, Monuments to Dust"!



Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine (Nov/Dec 2018 issue) posted the digital file, so if you'd like to read it (and the other finalists for the various categories who gave permission), check out the pdf: X

Winners are announced at a breakfast ceremony during Nebula Awards Weekend, so I guess I’m going to the Nebs this year. (If I win, this would be my first major writing award. SO EXCITED!)

(art by Eldar Zakirov - my edit of the original cover art with the banner overlaid)

mckitterick: (write hard die free)
( Dec. 18th, 2018 12:05 pm)

Analog just published my essay, “Literal Metaphors, Science Fiction, and How to Save the Human Species” on their Astounding Analog Companion (available online here: X).

It’s a companion piece for my novella - “Ashes of Exploding Suns, Monuments to Dust” - out right now in the November / December issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine (available on newsstands for a few more days, or digitally from the publisher).

I’m very interested to hear what people think of the piece (and the story if you read it!), particularly the Sad and Rabid Puppies, because it’s ostensibly just the kind of thing they like: A space opera spanning vast distances and times, packed with super-tech (I invented a new method of moving stars!), interstellar war, and other elements of hard SF - even a protagonist who’s a spaceship captain….

But it subverts the conventional space opera and military narrative to tell an (ultimately) optimistic tale of social justice and hope for humanity. Plus (though I only provide clues and see no reason to call this out in the text) the ace protagonist’s gender is never revealed, because they’re the first-person narrator in a non-patriarchal society (so why bring their gender into it at all?) and there’s no romance, plus aces need better representation in hard SF and I feel the metaphor performs double-duty for this narrative.

Gender only plays an important role in the imperialist “Original Man” humans of Sol System - that’s our Earthly culture projected into the far future, clinging to obsolete social and political concepts while the “Descendent Species” scattered across the stars have moved on in varying ways.

What prompted the essay was getting a letter from a reader who wrote a deeply insightful, thoughtful, and kind analysis of what I was hoping to do with my story. He asked if I’d intended for the protagonist’s struggles with their parents to parallel the narrative of the Descendent Species to Original Man.

[Read on for more non-spoilery excerpt, or see the full thing at The Astounding Analog Companion]…

Ever since reading Iain M Banks’ Consider Phlebas - a novel that helped launch the vessels of the New Space Opera - I’ve believed that the science-fiction mode of inquiry offers the most effective set of tools for examining ourselves and our creations, providing fresh perspectives while opening new dialogues about everything it means to be human encountering change.

One of SF’s greatest tools is the literal metaphor, where an actual, literal thing in the story can stand in metaphorically for something in our world, as a means to critique that thing without immediately throwing up defensive walls against admitting we’ve failed in some way or otherwise need to improve [spoilers trimmed].

This is exactly the quality response every author hopes to hear from readers – when people “get it”—so of course I’m delighted! He was absolutely right about what I was hoping to say through the various layers of literal and metaphorical elements and relationships [spoilers trimmed]. Through these parallels, I hoped to show how each generation passes down the worst—also the best! but also the worst—aspects of themselves to their children. And so on, and so on, until humankind eventually destroys itself.

Unless we can change.

The point of the story isn’t just that we must change to survive the ever-increasing burden of terrible cultural diseases we seem to always pass down—the things that’ll lead to our demise if we don’t—but also that we can change. Even those squeezed by society’s most-oppressive systems, and their forebears’ worst and most-destructive inherited ideas, and their own parents’ worst traits… even those collapsing under the burden of all that awfulness, who are most filled with repressed anger and guilt and need to prove themselves—even suffering the horrific tragedy of losing every single person in their entire world—even such a person bent on revenge to the point they’re about to commit genocide, one most deserving to fulfill their revenge, can change. And learn. And grow. And… maybe not forgive, but accept the offered (genuine) amends.

And then to move on to create something better. To choose hope for the future for humankind, one where we accept the best our parents’ culture—even the best of whatever our earliest ancestors still have to offer, for they surely had some good ideas, too, or else we’d never have formed the first tribes and confederacies. We can accept some things, and discard others that we determine to be destructive to the self, those closest to us, or to the larger culture we love and which brought us into the world and nurtured us. And especially to those yet to be born, generations in the future.

This reader also asked about whether I was trying to say something about how age leaves the Karalang [the protagonist's culture] more vulnerable to primal emotion. This I wanted to address less directly, as I’m only part-way through life right now and cannot fully answer the question for decades yet to come - or centuries, if I were Karalang! But I’ve witnessed enough during my years and through studying human history to observe that many resist change, whether or not it’s good for them or even necessary to remain valuable, contributing members of society. We’ve all seen how many people give in to despair and fear.

Only when people make a habit of constantly becoming better can we build something new and beautiful on the (solid portion of the) foundations poured by those who came before. Only then can humankind reach for the stars without condemning our children’s children’s children to suffer the consequences of and fallout from our pride or honor, bigotry or hate, shame or jealously, selfishness or revenge, or any of a thousand other human faults and frailties. Only then can humankind grow into the best possible version of who we can be, and build a better future than we could before, because humankind becomes better people than we are today.

This goes for our species, yes, and also for each and every one of us, every single day. Becoming better is an endless project—renouncing the flawed people we’ve been before, confessing to and apologizing for the harms we’ve caused, and then making amends to those who must live with the world we’ve created and trying hard to never do those wrongs again.

The very least we can do is treat others, especially the young, better than we’ve been treated. The least we can do is hand tomorrow’s people a cultural and intellectual inheritance that’ll provide them with the tools and resources they can use to shape their future and themselves into something better than we could have imagined or done. And then to get out of the way and trust them to do better.

That’s why I was so moved when another reader wrote, “This is a story that believes in humanity and our future.” Yes, thank you!

As much as I’ve witnessed humans being terrible—and often worse with age, not because of any inherent aspect of aging, but because so many resist change and growth (embodied in the literal metaphor of the long-lived, rigid-minded Karalang culture in the story)—I’ve also gotten to know the younger generation just stepping onto the world’s stages and command centers, and as a group they are the best human beings I’ve ever encountered.

I work with dozens of new students every year, and the trend I see is toward ever-better humans who are ever-more aware of how others feel and want to do something to help. At a very young age, they’re aware of how they (and society) need to always grow and change, to not only tolerate others but love them as kin, to accept and be kind. And to speak out against hate and intolerance. They’ve been handed an inheritance of ashes and dust, yet rather than let their (well-deserved) anger drive them to react with righteous hatred, they choose to let go of the worst aspects of human nature once they become aware of them, and move on when they’re allowed.

Sure, we’re also seeing actual Nazis walking our streets. Humankind remains infected with all the old hatreds and cultural diseases, courtesy of our ancestors. But the cross-cultural, internet-fostered solidarity we’re seeing among today’s youth proves that we as a species are worthy of hope. Because we can be better—the proof is that we (as a species, embodied in today’s youth and many older folks who with generosity adapt and change as needed) are becoming better.

Humankind’s greatest strength arises from cooperation. We didn’t survive the age of saber-tooth tigers by arming ourselves with devastating weapons; no, we thrived despite such dangers because we cooperated with one another and other species.

The ever-increasing power of our technology and other creations combined with the destructive personal and cultural memes we’ve inherited from our forebears threatens the very survival of our species. The only way we save humankind from itself is through solidarity and growth. Not by banding together against a common enemy until it’s defeated, but by joining together to build a better tomorrow.

When we respect our children and the other youth among us; when we ourselves learn how to be our best and how to build a better society, then share with others how we can all become better, always; when we respect but critically evaluate our elders and the knowledge, wisdom, and so-called truths they offer or impose upon us, accepting the good and discarding the bad; when we seek to build a better future, we as a species will get (and deserve) to inhabit a better world. That’s cooperation making us healthy and happy and strong.

I believe in humankind. I believe in people. And I believe in the future. That’s why I’ve always loved science fiction so much, why I’ve read and studied and taught it for most of my life, because I believe SF provides the new perspectives we need to more clearly see ourselves and the world around us, study it, identify the good and bad, and then create new narratives for better ways to live.

In a Summer 2011 Paris Review interview, Samuel R Delany said, “Science fiction isn’t just thinking about the world out there. It’s also thinking about how that world might be—a particularly important exercise for those who are oppressed, because if they’re going to change the world we live in, they—and all of us—have to be able to think about a world that works differently.”

No wonder SF is more popular today than ever among the people poised to take the reins of society. Yes, all the recent controversy in the field has been hugely disruptive. But change is always disruptive, and if nothing else science fiction is the literature of change, not only reflecting and projecting scientific, technological, and cultural change, but also itself ever-changing. This is not our first bout of internal strife.

All we need do is look back over the generational shifts from Proto-SF, through the Pulp Era, the Golden Age, the thematic and literary growth of the Sociological SF period, the New Wave, the diversification and novel-heavy period of the ’70s, Cyberpunk, the New Space Opera, the New Weird, and now the explosion of non-Anglo speculative fiction that’s finally seeing print in the US and other major markets—as if SF has only ever been a European creation.

What’s next? Something great I bet, and certain to be different, reflecting our genre’s heritage of incorporating change at our core so what we produce continues to be true to expressing the human condition experiencing change. Not just surviving it, but finding new ways to thrive.

To be true to what SF has always been and continues to be—that is, to remain relevant—our community of writers, editors, readers, scholars, and everyone else who cares about the genre must embrace change and guide the genre into an ever-changing future. If not, we’ll end up a historical footnote.

Thankfully, I’m confident that won’t happen. Why? Because I contend that what we’ve recently seen in geek subcultures reflects larger cultural changes:

First came Gamergate, which ended with the Gamergaters losing face and much of their influence, because the vast majority of gamers can’t stand playing with jerks—and most game companies don’t want to be associated with them. The gaming community voted with their dollars and creativity against hate.

Then the Rabid Puppies yelped onto science fiction headlines. They tried to erase women, LGBTQ folks, people of color, non-Anglos, and others they see as “not real SF” people from the genre. But the majority of SF readers defeated them so thoroughly in the first year that most Hugo Award voters preferred “No Award” over permitting any nominee to win that was forced into their laps by bigots, racists, and women-haters. We’re still feeling the repercussions of this, but soon things will settle down.

Now American society’s broader #metoo and social justice movements are exposing the misogynists, white supremacists, and other hate- and fear-driven people (studies show represent only 6% of US citizens) who would steal this country from the majority of decent people who only want to help each other build a stronger, healthier place to live, who only want to create a better future. And not just in the USA! Sure, business and politics at the highest levels—exemplified by the kleptocrats in the US Capitol, the Kremlin, and other seats of power—seem to have the upper hand plus vocal support from screaming bigots. But the recent US election demonstrates that most people reject egocentrism, hate, and regressive politics, even though so many have been taught these and other harmful ideologies by previous generations. I predict we’ll see them fail soon, too.

Those derogatorily called “Social Justice Warriors” by the haters might come across as intolerant of intolerance. To which I say, Good! We must never tolerate hate. You can’t fight actual, literal Nazis using only flowers and free love. It took a devastating world war to stop them last time. The social-justice movement is far from militarized; its only tools are persuasion and cooperation. Do they sometimes come across as angry, even irrational? Who wouldn’t, especially after spending a lifetime suffering bigotry, hate, and violence without the support of or comfort from their own communities, government, or even family?

I hope the current rise of the extremist Right fails before we’re forced to endure another dystopian period: Look what it took to defeat the Third Reich. The repercussions of that misstep were horrors beyond most of our imagining, and correcting it took generations. And in regards to this particular conversation, it ended up starving the roots of SF’s Golden Age, ending that blossoming period and throwing the next SFnal generation into an era of despair centered around the New Wave’s metaphor of entropy. I mean, everything has worked out for SF, and it’s become much more diverse in terms of race, gender, and other cultural representation, but let’s not go through that again, okay?

I believe justice and freedom will prevail. Eventually, and always. Sometimes the transition is quick and (relatively) painless. Other times it’s brutal and wrecks everything for a while. But I believe in humankind’s resilience and basic redeemable nature, that most of us want what’s best for the future.

At its finest and most admirable, science fiction is much the same. We’re going through some rough change right now, and many of our most-respected creators and editors are suffering because of it (some needlessly, and others because they’ve not grown as human beings and earned their callouts). I admire and respect those with the greatest cultural privilege who’ve responded to criticism with grace, accepted the error of their ways, and seek to improve themselves, no matter how they were raised, or their age, or other excuses some offer for resisting necessary change and growth.

Adapt, change, grow: That’s how humankind remains the dominant life-form on Earth. And it’s why I believe SF is the dominant literary form and mode for expressing the human condition encountering change—not just surviving, but thriving as we, ourselves, change.

The narrator of “Ashes of Exploding Suns, Monuments to Dust” muses at one point [spoilers trimmed]:

What is honor? Perhaps it’s the satisfaction of knowing that the world ahead will be better than what lays smoldering in your wake. That you’re part of shaping a new path.

Whatever it is, honor only blooms after making peace. With one’s self, with others, with the uncaring Universe. For all our history, humans were driven to make peace when the cost of fighting grew too dear. Despite what Original Man long believed, empire bestows nothing. You cannot win honor; it cannot be taken. It must be earned. It’s also not other-directed, like [the story’s concept of fidalguia]. That was only selfishness and fear masquerading as social concern.

The most difficult peace to negotiate is within. No smiling lie can deceive the person aware of their own mind. There is no greater achievement than learning how to forgive yourself.

Like the people at the end of this story, I look forward to the day when we are finally worthy of respect. When we can look up at the stars and see countless bright futures for the children of humankind. When we as a species finally reach adulthood. Not the rigid adulthood of the past, but something new. Wiser. More honorable. Hopeful.

At least for a little while.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this snippet! If you read the essay on The Astounding Analog Companion (or the story in the magazine!), please comment there or here to let me know what you think. Thanks!

- Chris

I got this in email:

____

I see you posted one of my photos, without consent or attribution, on [link to one of my reblogs].

I am a member of the Professional Photographers of America and Image Rights International and this was stolen from my blog at [the contactor’s site].

I am really surprised that you, as a writer and knowing copyright laws, would use a “lifted” photo.

Please remove.
[Name Withheld]
[Research Institution]
[Work Website]


____

I saw that as an invitation to write this little essay that I urge all creatives to read:

____

Dear [xyz] -

I’m really surprised that you contacted me about this. I didn’t post anything - that’s most of what you’ll see on social networks like Tumblr. Usually what people reblog is reblogged from others who, themselves, reblogged it from original sources, sometimes three or more deep with responses and comments about the original work.

Sometimes the work a person originally posts is not attributed, despite being their own, and sometimes it is, whether it belongs to the original poster or not (say, as on a fan blog, or most social networks).

One of the delights of social networking for creatives is how it drives traffic to your website and where they can buy your work and learn about what else you do. That’s a massive honor for someone to love your work so much that they want to promote you to their friends! That’s what’s called, “word-of-mouth advertising,” the most powerful kind.

The first time my work was pirated, I was upset for a few hours or days. Until I realized how much unexpected benefit I derived from someone sharing without my explicit assent. Had I remained upset and expressed that upset with the world, I would have lost fans. No one in today’s creative climate can afford to come across as “anti-fan.” It’s not a way to keep existing fans and especially not a way to gain new ones, not to mention that it’s just good business sense to not get upset and instead use the interest to your advantage.

So, no, I don’t disapprove as a creative myself when my work is shared online without my explicit approval, because it’s earning me new fans.

I should also say that I’m not the one who originally blogged that. I assumed it was put out into the world by its creator or with the assent of its creator. Absolutely I always try to cite sources when I post things, and include source information in an image where that's available! I assumed this image was put out into the world by its creator, or with the assent of its creator.

No one who uses the Internet is going to research everything that passes through their social networks. That would stop all human interaction and replace it with research! As interesting as that might sound to you and me, it’s also unrealistic to expect of the vast majority of those who use the Internet just for fun. Oh, and I should add that I often add sources when I see a post that's missing attribution and looks like it might not belong to the poster.

If I haven’t convinced you and you still would like to take down your work wherever it’s appeared on the web, there are standard procedures for doing so by contacting the site that hosts them (in this case, Tumblr). I can’t take it down, because I didn’t post it and don’t host the website, like almost everyone else who reblogged it. You’ll waste an immense amount of time by trying to contact everyone in the reblog chain (currently 74,000 or so on that one thread on Tumblr alone!), and needlessly antagonize a lot of potential fans. I’m not antagonized, because I’ll be using this as a teaching moment for my students and my online followers (no worries, I’ll remove the specifics about you or the work, and no one will figure out it was you, because a lot of social networking posts get that many notes, or higher).

A more positive way to reach out to your fans (and those who reblogged that image are fans of your work!) is to jump in to the discussion with a “Thank you!” and a link to your site or where they can buy your work. Win-win all around!

I hope this helps. Thanks for reaching out! I hope you [and you readers - especially creatives - of this on my blog] find this exchange useful!

Best,
Chris

PS: They then wrote back with a note indicating they don’t understand how most social networks function, so I added:

If you haven’t used Tumblr before, the way you see who originally posted something is by looking at the Notes or finding the link to the original poster in the reblogged item. Everyone else was just sharing what they think is a cool item, or responding to it.

--

Follow-up from the person who contacted me about this image she found only on my Tumblr in a Web search:

"First of all, a scholar asked to used my image for her dissertation, and of course, I said yes. I share. Then out of curiosity, I did a reverse Google search and found my image on your blog. I sent out a quick note to have it removed. Apparently, though, you didn't post it. Someone else did. Note that I don't 'go after' everyone who steals my images but I did sign up for Image Rights International after my photo - registered with the U.S. Copyright office - went viral. I've seen it on coffee cups, posters, t-shirts, mouse pads, CD albums, cell phone covers and in companies' advertising campaigns. It's also being sold on PhotoBucket, Flickr and other sites. Not by me. This is the cover of my next book and I plan to donate any proceeds from my favorite charity."

My follow-up response:

I see! Then definitely you want to go after those businesses that are profiting from the image, and there are legal tools for that. Contacting every individual reblogger who liked it but who aren't profiting from it would take you a million years and gain you nothing but negativity all around.

Tags:
Just watched the PBS Hamilton musical documentary, and it made me cry all over again to witness the genius that went into making this brilliant show. I got to relive in some small way that once-in-a-lifetime experience. And I realized - this right here is the parallel experience with those lucky few who got to see Shakespeare’s plays live, the first time, with him on stage if he actually did that, at least sometimes.
 
I can confidently say this show is one of the greatest works of art I have ever witnessed, perhaps the greatest work of art of our time, because it represents such a vast array of genius concentrated in a single work, which is accessible to every type of audience from first time fan to most educated scholar. On top of that, it’s so perfectly relevant for this moment in history, when it’s most needed.
 
AND I GOT TO SEE IT IN PERSON, in its Broadway premier run, with the original cast, from the perspective of the best seats in the house, right behind the most excited people in the world because they’d just won the lottery to see this historic event from the front row - and beside me was my partner who was so happy and excited to be here, too! OMG.
 
Perfect in every way.
 
Oh! How delightfully our popular media has changed! I love so much of today’s popular art. When I want to feel happy, I can put on Bob’s Burgers or Brooklyn Nine Nine, or Jupiter Ascending, or read something by John Scalzi or Iain M Banks, or go to so many others, and just like that I find joy and truth. There’s always a movie in the theater I look forward to seeing some time in the near future. There’s always a book I want to read, or graphic novel, or YouTube short, or Tumblr post, or song, or piece of art from other disciplines. There’s always some science or technology I want to learn more about. Photos of distant worlds or microscopic realms. Potential better futures abound - they’re all around us, if only we’re willing to partake of them. And every one of us is invited to be a part of it - not only in the consumption of it, but also the creation.
 
Now feels like the cusp of the most democratic moment in art and scientific pursuit and progressive justice and positive progress the human species has ever seen. Sure, we have a long way to go, but the zeitgeist is moving firmly away from the haters (which is why they’re getting so afraid and vocal) and toward the positive. Art always leads the way. It shows us who we are and guides us toward better possible futures (and warns us away from the bad ones).
 
We no longer need to trade our sense of justice, or fairness, or truth, or intellect, to fully enjoy today’s best art. We no longer need to only fear the changes that are coming ever faster. We can have it all!
 
When has this ever been true before? We’re living in the transition moment into a Golden Age! And it’s one where people are finally beginning to understand the interdisciplinary nature of creative and scientific work.
 
All this got me thinking… what’s so appealing about the idea of a new Magnificent 7? I mean, what’s the point of making a new cowboy movie now, or a remake of this story all over again, at all? And why all the other reboots we’re getting? 
 
And why is science fiction quickly becoming perhaps the most popular and relevant art-form of our time - and becoming more so every day?
 
Because, I would argue, for the same reasons that so many people love the new Star Wars movie, and Hamilton, and the new Mad Max, and the new Ghostbusters, and Agent Carter, and the idea of the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, and so much more:
 
These narratives help us perceive essential truths about human nature that have long been ignored, or undiscovered, or rejected, or hidden away by the mainstream. Because we now understand you can’t separate science from art - or art from science - any longer without causing violence to both… as well as to the truth. These contemporary expressions show us how great humans can become - better than ever! - if we face our past and potential futures honestly, and understand ourselves and others better, so we can reenvision the past and ourselves honestly while being able to imagine better futures and help bring them about.
 
What a time to be alive right now! This is so important, and so incredibly inspiring, both as a creative person and teacher, and human being as well.
 
And I was in the room where it happened. THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED!
 
You who are striving to create a better, wiser future, or to overtly express it to others in whatever way you do best, I salute you. Thank you. I love you all! 

EBOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST!

In the new original anthology Mission Tomorrow, science fiction writers imagine the future of space exploration with NASA no longer dominant. Will private companies rule the stars or will new governments take up the call? From Brazilians to Russians to Chinese, the characters in these stories deal with everything from strange encounters, to troubled satellites and space ships, to competition for funding and getting there first. Nineteen stories of what-if spanning the gamut from Mercury to Pluto and beyond. Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

Stories by:

Robin Wayne Bailey
Ben Bova
Michael Capobianco
Curtis C. Chen
Jaleta Clegg
Brenda Cooper
Michael F. Flynn
James Gunn
Sarah A. Hoyt
David D. Levine
Jack McDevitt
Angus McIntyre
Chris McKitterick (yrs truly!)
Mike Resnick
Lezli Robyn
Alex Shvartsman
Robert Silverberg
Jack Skillingstead
Jay Werkheiser

At the publisher's request, the ebook is sold without DRM. (The paperback edition comes out on November 3.) And because Baen Books is cool in a lot of other ways, too, they're letting the contributing authors give away copies. So...

Because my story takes place near Jupiter, I'm making my contest simple.So, want to win a free copy of the Mission Tomorrow ebook? Here's how:
  1. Share your favorite image, video, story, or other cool thing about the planet Jupiter. Can be science-ey, science-fictional, or whatever most toots your horn. I embrace multitudes.
  2. Post on a social network we both use. I'm on Dreamwidth, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, LiveJournal, Tumblr, and Twitter.
  3. Mention the new anthology of space-exploration stories, Mission Tomorrow.
  4. Tag me in your post so I get a notification (and can therefore see your post!). My day-job combined with a writing career and running the Gunn Center makes me perilously busy, so unless I'm tagged I miss tons of great stuff.
This is an ongoing contest! I'll be giving away a copy to my faves through the week of the release event (at Jayhawk Ink Bookstore at the University of Kansas), November 16.

How do you know if you've won? I'll tag winners here or on whichever social-network we share! Then just drop me an email and I'll send you your free copy.

So, let's see some awesome Jupiter stuff! I wanna give away some FREE EBOOKS!
Happy New Year! It's long past time for an update here, methinks! So, let's start with fun stuff:

Public appearances

On October 25, I gave a short reading with two awesome spec-fic writers, Don Allmon and Benjamin D. Cartwright, from our novels-in-progress. At The Raven Book Store in Lawrence.
I've been on the "Central Standard" on NPR's Kansas City station: KCUR, 89.3 FM show a couple of times in the past month or so:

Writing

Reached 115,270 words as of this morning on Ad Astra Road Trip (book 1 of 3 in The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella). Since completing final grades for Fall semester last week, I've nearly finished the draft of the novel. But being so close to the end reveals many things that require going back through and consistifying, enhancing, filling out, and so forth. I've revised the persistent metaphors and imagery for Stella and Jack, rewritten dialogue, cut extraneous language, etc etc. To paraphrase James Gunn, writing is all about revision: You don't know really what you're doing until you've finished the draft - that's when the real writing begins. SO CLOSE to the end. How much is left? Let's call it less than 10k more. My goal is to wrap up the first complete draft before the start of Spring semester... that's less than two weeks from now, and I have a lot of Work-work to do in that time, as well. Eeek. Wish me luck. (PS: Considering I'd initially targeted 70k words, that means I'm almost done with Book Two? Right? Um, yeah, I don't think it works that way.)

Published a couple nonfiction pieces: "Frederik Pohl: Mr Science Fiction (A Love Story)" for Foundation, and a memorial piece about Fred for Elizabeth Anne Hull's Fredzine: The Frederik Pohl Memorial 'Zine, shared with attendees of the Frederik Pohl Memorial Celebration on August 2.

Wrote another half-dozen fragmentary bits for my memoir, Stories from a Perilous Youth. Really looking forward to diving in to that after sending J&S off for agential attentions.

Sold "Orpheus' Engines" (short story) to the original anthology, Mission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration, due out from Baen next fall.

Also got my largest royalty check to date for Transcendence, which feels pretty awesome, considering that the book came out four years ago! (Four years. Gods.)

Personal

I don't know if I've said here, but my mom died on October 4. It's been really on my mind a lot, especially lately.
*

Once again, you're a lot more likely to see things from me over on my Tumblr (mckitterick), but I still drop in here from time to time. It's my homeland!

Best,
Chris
This is a term I want to use a LOT. What is a SOLAR TORNADO, you ask? It begins with a SOLAR STORMFRONT:



This storm on the Sun is many times the size of Earth. It's spinning at about 12 miles per second, and rising at 90 miles per second:


And here's an animated gif of a SOLAR TORNADO, five times the size of planet Earth:



I frakkin' love science.

PS: I'm doing a reading tomorrow with two other awesome spec-fic writers at The Raven Book Store in Lawrence, KS:



Chris
How amazing is this? Russian cosmonauts have discovered living organisms clinging to the windows of the International Space Station:


Click the image to see the News.mic article.

Of course, one other little fella has also been proven to survive the harsh conditions of space: the heroic Tardigrade!



Want more evidence that creatures can survive in less-than-Earthly conditions? How about the recent discovery of a complex microbial ecosystem far beneath the Antarctic ice?

So: Creatures can live deep below the ice in the coldest place on Earth. They can live in the violent conditions of space. What else is thriving in the distant reaches of the Solar System? Let's find out!

Speaking of space aliens, I turned in my new story, "Orpheus' Engines," to the editor of Mission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration, which comes out in the fall of 2015 from Baen Books. This story is the second in a series set in the "Jupiter Whispers" universe, but with some major updates to the characters and environment. Ultimately, this'll become a novel, after another story or two.

Chris
Two of the mightiest gods in our sky will rise from the same starry bed tomorrow morning, so close their beaming faces will shine almost as one! Check out these Sky & Telescope shots:

Click the image to see the story at Sky & Telescope online.

Planets pair up every so often, but rarely is their dance so intimate. During Venus and Jupiter's embrace shortly before dawn tomorrow (Monday, August 18), they'll be separated by only 1/3° or less - that's thinner than your pinky at full-arm extension. It's the very best planet hookup of the year, and the closest pairing these two have had this century. Here's what they'll look like in binoculars or through a telescope using a low-power eyepiece:




Their tight dance will be brief. Each morning, Jupiter rises a little higher from his eastern bed and Venus lingers a little longer near ol' Sol. The bed they share tomorrow morning is M44, the Beehive Cluster, which will reward augmented viewing:



If you're up before dawn, don't forget to look east toward sunrise and watch two of the brightest planetary bodies embrace!
*

Writing update: Finished my second story in the "Jupiter Whispers" series (which will one day join to form a novel). This one's called "Orpheus' Engines," at least for now, and tallies up to almost exactly 7000 words. Turned out way more econo-political than I'd expected! Chock-full of alien and human communication issues, with lots of Jupiter imagery to set the mood.

Finally, while we're on the topic of Jupiter, how about some bonus photos! First a gorgeous animated gif of the planet rotating:


Click the image to see the Astronominsk page full of more great shots like this.

Finally, check out this amazing 3D animated gif! Put on those old blue-red 3D glasses if you have 'em to enjoy the full effect:


Click the image to see the Astronominsk page.

Enjoy!

Chris
mckitterick: Yes, this is one of my actual scooter helmets. RESPECT THE EMPIRE. (Default)
( Aug. 7th, 2014 04:51 pm)
Dropping in to let all four of you still here know what I've been up to! First, writing:

I'm now up to 4890 words on my story for Mission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration, a Baen (I think) anthology. Max of 6000 words, so I'll have to cut a bunch of what I have right now, because a lot more words are a-comin'! This is the follow-up to my story, "Jupiter Whispers," from the anthology Visual Journeys: A Tribute to Space Art; it'll eventually accrue into a novel when I'm done with all the tales, in good ol' Gunn's Law ("sell it twice!") fashion. Might take a few more years, but I'll get there. The story is due by next Friday, but I'm hoping to complete the first draft over the weekend. Wish me luck!

I've reached nearly 100k words (99,280 to be exact) on Ad Astra Road Trip: The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella (this is book 1 of 3). SO CLOSE to both that magic odometer reading AND the end. How much is left? Let's call it less than 10k more. My goal is to wrap up the first-ish draft before the start of the semester... less than three weeks. Much more luck needed for that one.

Class-related progress:
Finished grading the summer SF Institute final projects, which were interesting as usual and, in a couple of cases, outstanding.

I've read, watched, and listened to a metric crap-ton (that's the technical term) of media-related SF while researching for my upcoming (new) "Science Fiction and the Popular Media" course. I've just about completed the syllabus, and have put together most of the web pages for the site: Each week has its own page hosting not only links but also displaying graphics and other embedded media. Looking forward to this, but it's been a hella lotta work.

Plus all the usual work-stuff (about to dive back into that right now).

Later!
Chris
mckitterick: (Galaxy Magazine cover)
( Jul. 9th, 2014 12:54 pm)
Forgive me, religious-patriarchal figure, it's been more than a month since my last update. What have I been up to since my last confession?
  • Spent the first two weeks of June teaching the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop at KU's Center for the Study of SF, a residential program that consumes pretty much every waking hour.

  • Did my thing at the Campbell Conference, which this year honored Frederik Pohl and discussed "Science fiction in the real world." We also presented the Campbell (best SF novel) and Sturgeon (best SF story) Memorial Awards.

  • Taught the Intensive SF Institute during the second two weeks of June, also residential (except for a few locals). Final projects should be piling in today. To all of you wonderful scholars and workshoppers who spent your June with us and are home now: I miss everyone so much!

  • Wrote another few thousand words on The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella:

    It's ALMOST DONE - and Book 2 has reached 4000 words.

  • My essay on "Frederik Pohl: Mr Science Fiction (A Love Story)" just came out in the current issue of Foundation - The International Review of Science Fiction.

  • I'm hard at work on a new Jupiter story (the follow-up to "Jupiter Whispers") for an upcoming anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Including this one, I plan to finish (or revise) at least three stories this month and send them out for consideration.

  • I'll be quoted in the next issue of Popular Mechanics magazine (!) about the top SF novels.

  • Oh, and I gave a bunch of talks and interviews for NPR's Up to Date show, the Lawrence Free State Festival, KU Endowment, the Lawrence Journal-World, SciFi4Me (part of their livestream of the Campbell Conference), and one (plus the usual stuff) at the Campbell Conference.

So I've been way out of touch with the world. Took most of last week as a sort of stay-cation. MUCH NEEDED.

How's your summer going?

Chris
Bad books on writing tell you to "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW," a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.
     - Joe Haldeman)


Bravo, Mr. Haldeman. I've actually heard writing professors telling their students this, sometimes going so far as to suggest "What's wrong with science fiction is that it's not writing about what you know." How boring would literature be if all we did was literally only write about our personal experiences and expertise? We literally could not have a fiction of the imagination or the future or the Other if we constrained ourselves to only what we know. This is why not every single person writes a memoir: The only way to make an average life interesting is through brilliant insights and mastering the tools of humor or conveying emotion or so forth. When that happens, great! But there's a lot more to literature than memoir.

Good science fiction not only poses questions, explores ideas, speculation and extrapolates about possible futures, and offers other mind-expanding goodness, but the best SF also provides deep insight into what it means to be human living in an age of ever-accelerating change.

Science fiction writers have a special obligation to research broadly so that when they write about such technological game-changers as the Singularity or transhumanism or astrophysics, or alternate histories where small but important changes affect our present, or political shifts that change everything about human society, or so forth, the reader can willingly suspend their disbelief.

So in that respect, sure, SF writers inject what we know about the universe around us and people and tech and change and so forth, but if all we do is "write what we know," we wouldn't write much anything at all that has the impact of good SF.

So if you're a new writer, ignore the hell out of that ancient adage... while doing your damnedest to learn everything you can about the alien things you want to speculate about.


Speaking of writing, here's where I'm at with The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella:


While doing a physics experiment at the University of Kansas, Stella found someone to crush on. Of course, the wonderfulness of her day is about to be crushed....

Chris
I've been mostly neglecting LJ of late. Are you on Tumblr? I am! In fact, these days I mostly post there, which I often auto-cross-post to my Twitter account and my Facebook account. If Tumblr x-posted to LJ, you'd see me here a LOT more. It's all about convenience, I'm ashamed to admit, because my jobs SUCK SO MUCH TIME. Not that that's bad, mind you - I LOVE teaching, and my teaching JOB itself has been getting steadily better; I LOVE directing the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, and we have a bunch of REALLY BIG and EXCITING things about to happen (and, of course, it's always exciting); and I LOVE my writing career, which I'm finally, at long frakkin' last, TREATING like a CAREER... to the point that if my employer were to try to take that away from me, or if my day-job evolved to the point of no-time-for-writing, I would either fight to fix the problem or no longer work there. THAT's how much I've decided to dedicate myself to my writing.

Speaking of which:
  • Coming out soon is "Frederik Pohl: Mr Science Fiction (A Love Story)." Scheduled to appear in the Spring/Summer edition of Foundation: The International Review Of Science Fiction.

  • My Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop is getting close to full with a nice variety of writers. Really looking forward to this, as always! June 1 - 15.

  • As soon as I reach 1st Draft Complete on Jack & Stella, I'll dive back into short fiction. I have about three stories ready for quick revisions (HA!), ten more that need a bit more work but are worth it, and who-knows-how-many (six? ten?) in progress that I really want to get back to. Short stories are great in that they take a LOT less time per word than novels, and they'll help keep my name out there in the zeitgeist while the novels are making their way to shelves, but novels are ALL-CONSUMING. Every idea I come up with ends up in whatever book I'm currently working on. As it should be, I guess, but that means BLACK HOLE of IDEAS, and no new stories. Wait, that's not true: I'm planning to develop several things that are back-story for Jack & Stella into stories of their own.

  • Just about ready to submit Empire Ship. It's done (and has been for a while), but I wasn't happy with some things, and figured I'd just hold off until I had a draft of Jack & Stella, and submit them both together... speaking of which:

  • And I've reached another milestone on The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella: Just crested 80,000 words! That's up nearly 6000 in the past ten days, and all that word-count is brand-new in the past year... in fact, pretty much all of it is new in 2014, as I started over at the beginning at about 30,000 words when I realized it just wasn't working. Ah, the joys of novel-writing.



And now, because this is both inspiring and INSANE, I share OMG DANGEROUS JETBIKE MANIAC:

(Yes, I want to do this. Only I'll wear a helmet, thank you, and do a MUCH better job of engineering a proper bike platform. Are you hearing this, MadMatMax? Nevertheless, I'M IN LOVE. And now a subscriber of his.)

Chris
Here's a milestone worth sharing:

Today, I wrote another 1000 words on my new YA-SF novel, The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella, bringing the total word-count up to 74,000. More importantly, I've outlined the rest of the book. Did I make that clear? Here, let me say it through cupped hands:

*

I OUTLINED AND ROUGHED-IN ALL THE REMAINING SCENES FOR THE REST OF THE NOVEL.
*


This means I can now confidently say I'm only 20 scenes from the end, and some of those scenes are already fully fleshed-out. Let's call it one month from putting a wrap around the first draft. Oh, and I also did a bunch more outlining of Book 2 (I foresee this being a trilogy).



EXCITED. It might end up a little longer than 90k, but I'm cool with that. (Just trying to avoid writing another work as long as Transcendence). Can I get a "woohoo"?

Chris
Oh my gosh, I had no idea that I hadn't posted here for, what... three weeks now? MANY APOLOGIES!

My absence is largely due to ten million little tasks all piling down like a deluge of weasels, weasels driven like furry rain across the Great Plains, lashed on and on by all this stuff. Let's start with the fun and move into the rest:

  • I've made many thousands of words progress on The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella. Current word-count:

    LOOK AT HOW CLOSE I AM TO DONE!

  • I've been doing this "300 Swings a Day Challenge," an idea promoted by the Breaking Muscle folks (who are awesome) and presented to me by clevermanka. Except for one day when I literally didn't have a minute to spare (but spared enough to do something like 100 anyhow, because FUCK ALL THAT I'M PRACTICING TO BE A BADASS), I've made my 300 swings EVERY DAY THIS MONTH. I started with my 55-pound kettlebell, but couldn't do more than about 40 with that, so switched to the 35-pounder. But for the past couple of weeks, I've been doing them ALL with the bigger weight, and in much shorter time (completed 250 swings last night between 7:30pm and 8:00pm, aw yeah), and with ever-improving form, AND starting to see some real changes in the musculature of my legs and ass and, honestly, all over. (I promise to post before-and-after shots at the start of April. Let's hope there's something to see!) I've tried to keep up with my other movements (pull-ups, push-ups, etc.), but the last two weeks have been... well, what got me started with this post.

  • My novel, Transcendence, was February's book selection for the PBR Book Club, which meets at the 8th St. Taproom (yes, friends, book fiends gathering at A BAR). Booze, books, and intelligent conversation - great tastes that taste great together. They had really insightful observations and questions. So much fun!

  • Saw the AMAZING Latenight Callers in concert at The Replay. If you haven't yet heard this band, DO IT NOW. I think of them as "Electro-Noir," and they're unlike anything you've heard for a long time, or maybe ever. They're seriously one of my favorite bands, and they operate out of the Kansas City metro area, and they formed in the cultural center that is Lawrence, KS. And I Knew Them When.

  • Went to Planet ComiCon in Kansas City's Bartle Hall Convention Center. Got to hang with LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels (who's now working on a hip-hop comic!), Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, Jewel Staite (Kaylee), Wil Wheaton, the Xenomorph from Alien (and his Predator buds), plus about a zillion local fans - many of them in costume. Wow. This was my first media-con since the 1990s (hello, Weaselmom!). I had no idea a local comicon could be so HUGE. The lines to get in wrapped around TWO city blocks. Once I adjusted to the crowds and lines, I realized that everyone was there among their tribe - polite, friendly, and HAPPY. A lot more fun than I'd expected. I'll do one of these again.

  • Finally, FINALLY, got the CSSF Lending Library fully alphabetized, including organizing our magazine holdings by publication and year. Just an off-hand guess, but I'd say we hold about 30,000 volumes. That was a monumental task, I TELL YOU WHAT, but my office (aka The Center's Space) is now the coolest room on campus. Before-and-after photos coming soon.

  • Designing my first Freshman-Sophomore SF course, which I'll offer this coming fall: Science Fiction and the Popular Media, where we'll study science fiction across a range of media forms including film, television, literature, fanfic, comics, gaming, and more. Hook 'em young, as they say. I made a request for suggestions on Facebook (which, sadly, is where I've been posting lately, also on my Tumblr blog, because if I'm only dropping something quick, that's where I go. Sorry for contributing to LJ's Long Decline.) This class should be a BLAST!

  • Hosted the English graduate-student recruitment party at our place, and met with one of the (hopefully) incoming creative writers.

  • Reading (and doing all the other logistics and setup) for this summer's Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop (June 1 - 15). We'll again have BOTH science-fiction Grand Master James Gunn and the inimitable Andy Duncan as this year's guest authors! Yours truly leads the Workshop. Are you thinking about applying, or know someone who would love to participate in an intensive but only two-week-long workshop? Now's the time!

  • Doing the thousand-and-one things necessary to host an international scholar here at KU. This year, the Center is host for a professor from Turkey! She'll be here until the end of May. (The last two were from China. We get around.)

  • Did a ton of thesis-project reading and critiquing and meetings, especially with one of my grad students who's working on an SF novel.

  • Teaching: Nothing unusual this semester, but teaching three full, writing-intensive courses always starts to crush me as we approach the middle of the semester. I was hoping to get caught up this week (Spring "Break"), but I have so many other things to do, including...

  • Journal-article writing: I'm finishing a research-intensive article about one of my greatest science-fiction heroes, a man with whom I had the great privilege and honor to spend anywhere from a few days to a week each summer: Frederik Pohl. Wonderful to go back and read so much by him again, but not so great to have to do this on top of things like...

  • Gary K. Wolfe's "Bold Aspirations" visit and talk for KU. SO MUCH planning. SO MUCH spreading the word, and setting up contacts, and writing press releases, and organizing gatherings, and ferrying him here from the airport, and so forth. Which was all great, mind you, but in the end a massive disappointment due to things I cannot discuss publicly. Friends, my fondness for academia is on the wane.

  • Building and organizing a group of Center for the Study of Science Fiction Faculty Affiliates. This has been really cool, setting up interdisciplinary relationships with faculty from all across the University of Kansas, but also a huge investment of time and energy. Expect Big Things out of this! More to come.

  • Similarly, I've been working with another brilliant group of interdisciplinary faculty and KU administrators in a think-tank named "Tech 2070," whose goal is to prepare the University for the kinds of changes we'll see over the next 50 years. FANTASTIC stuff, these bi-weekly meetings, but they also require hours of homework (seriously, but it's all stuff I'd read anyway given the time), including preparing to give presentations now that we've started to gel in our purpose.

And because it's not a post unless I share a photo of our Outdoor Pets, I hereby present "Squirrels Combating the Blizzard By Eating Tons of Birdseed" from the storm that whacked us recently (just days before the temps climbed back up to their present 60s and 70s!):


Click the chilly squirrels to see my Facebook photo albums.

Speaking of cute animals, want to see tons more photos of space-stuff and baaaby animals (among other things)? Then check out my Tumblr blog:


Click the fierce baby elephant to see my Tumblr blog.

...aaand now I've just spent an hour writing this post. So that's what's kept me away for so long. What have you been up to?

Chris
Tonight at 8:00pm at The 8th Street Taproom in Lawrence, KS, the PBR Book Club discusses my novel, Transcendence! Can't wait to hear what people think.

Organizer Nathan Hutchcraft sez anyone who's read the book is welcome to attend (you don't need to be a member), so I hope to see some of y'all there, too!

Chris
Another Snow Day! This means KU is closed for business... which means more writing! The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella is now up to 49,775 words - that's almost 1200 freakin' more since yesterday! I've almost reached the psychologically important 50k threshold. More importantly, the revision has progressed another 12 pages. I'm only 9 pages away from writing all-new scenes - an even-grander psychological threshold! It's thrilling to be only a day away from jumping into uncharted waters.


Snow Day also means I had to shovel a crap-ton (that's a technical term) of snow from the sidewalks this morning. In many places, the snow was deep enough to spill into the tops of my foot-high snow-boots, soaking the feet. And the wind was so bitterly cold that my molars were frozen beneath my windburned cheeks. Right now, it's only 10°F in Lawrence, Kansas, with a windchill in the negatives... so I was sort of an idiot to try to dig out this morning. At least it's beautiful to look at, and sunny.



This photo shows the back yard, post-shoveling, during Snowpocalypse 2014: Day 2. Unfortunately, as you can see, the ice from last week's storm remains, meaning at least the urban wildlife can come find seeds here as usual... where are you, little squirrels and birds? Come eat!

Chris
KU officials closed campus last night, fearing Snowpocalypse. Waking up today to see only a light dusting provoked taunting words from me, but then the Fauxpocalypse showed its true nature: We've already gotten several inches of snow. What does this mean?
  • School is closed.

  • My once-a-week science-fiction class meets online in two hours.

  • I spent this morning with my Write Group of Prolificness, upping the word-count of Jack & Stella by another 580. More importantly, I revised another 12 pages. That's significant because the revision includes shifting POV - the most important decision a writer makes, affecting everything else - and changing all the opening scenes.

What does this mean? That I'm only a couple of days from finishing the revision and surging into unexplored territory.

The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella progress:


TRIUMPH AWAITS JUST AROUND THE CORNER.
Notice I don't call it "vacation," and here's why. On the other hand, it sure was a nice break to not have to be "on" for classes all week!
  • I've been writing several mornings, every week since mid-December. Completely revised the opening scenes of The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella, completely re-envisioned how I'm handling POV (which means significantly rewriting every single other scene, too), wrote many more notes for future scenes, and cut thousands of words while writing thousands more... I've passed a total of 44k words, which means it's more than half-way done (based on a projected 70k)!


  • Finished updating all three syllabi and Blackboard sites (that's the web interface for KU courses) for my spring semester classes. Sent all the students links to where their syllabi live online. HOORAY! Good lord, is it just me or does it take everyone most of a day to do this for each course?

  • Worked a bunch on the hot-rod Newport, including rebuilding the broken valvetrain; finishing installing the new fuel-injection system; installing half the custom exhaust (with electric cut-outs for added raucousness on demand!); designing a crankcase-ventilation system that won't put so much smoke into the intake and getting started installing that; and finding a great deal on a new front-drive system that'll upgrade the alternator to handle fuel-injection duties, the A/C and power-steering pump to something that works, and convert it to a simpler serpentine-belt system that'll make it more reliable and more efficient - oh, and it's all polished aluminum, so it's much lighter and really pretty, too. ETA for street duty: a week or two! Assuming something else doesn't blow up....

  • Did a bit of work on the Chevelle, but I want to get the Newport mobile, washed, waxed, and covered before really diving into this project; picked up some more parts I'll need, though. ETA for street duty: Late spring.

  • Rewired a cool vintage ceramic lamp and installed it in the ceiling of my living room. MUCH nicer than the old (light-free) ceiling fan that used to clutter up the space:


  • Did a bunch of updates on the Center for the Study of Science Fiction's website, and planned much more. Oh, and we're working with a major donor right now who's intending to support not only a full-ride scholarship for the summer Workshops, but also something even bigger for a student coming to study SF during the regular semester. Details to come....

  • Started reading for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel. Loving everything so far, which is great, but could also be trouble come decision time....

  • Got back into astronomy, with a new (to me) 100mm f/9 apochromatic refractor. WOWEE, does it provide gorgeous images! This is my first apochromat, a type of refractor that uses varying types of rare-earth glass to produce lovely, sharp, and color-free images. On a really nice German equatorial mount with dual-axis drives and a handy through-the-polar-axis North Star finder:


  • Resumed a regular, hardcore workout schedule at the gym. Tried the beautiful-but-useless fancy fitness center here at KU (Ambler), because it was free to staff & faculty last week; we usually use beat-up, old, and dingy - but free - Robinson, because of its really useful and large free-weights room, and only visited crowded Ambler that once.

  • Oh, and on a related note: Not to sound braggy or anything, but over Break the awesome Clevermanka started giving me regular, multi-hour massages at least once a week, sometimes EVERY DAY. OMG, I am so lucky.


Other stuff, too, like watching the new BBC Sherlock series! (Which starts on PBS tonight.) LOVE IT SO MUCH.

What did you do over the past month, whether or not you got a break?

Best,
Chris
.

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