So, a little while ago I said that Free Will was on production hiatus while I resolved some personal emergencies. Those emergencies related to a sudden lack-of-house situation I found myself in. Well, just as there was suddenly no house, there is now once again suddenly a house. This means that Free Will recording *will* resume before the end of the year (glory be!) as will writing of various things, including the new Lantham and new Antithesis books.
But that’s not all that happened this week. This week also saw the first BASES jump, as opposed to BASE jump. For those who don’t know, BASE stands for Bridges Antennae Spans and Earth, and the basic idea is that you jump off these things and try to open your parachute before you go splatzo.
Now, for a BASES jump, you can blame me (who just invented the term out of whole cloth) and Felix Baumgartner, the crazy son of a bitch who did the first–and so far, coolest–BASES jump in history. The first four letters in BASES stand for the same things that they do in BASE. The last letter, of course, stands for Space.
That’s right. Dude jumped from Space. Just for the fun of it. Cause that’s the kind of crazy stuff our lovely twisted gorgeous little monkey brains think up to do when we get too old to get away with climbing trees in the public park.
I’ve got a special place in my heart for maniacs like this, because it’s maniacs like this that are going to ensure the survival of the human race. People who are too easily bored to stay rooted to Earth are going to make sure that our descendents will outlast the sun, which is the reason that, earlier this year, I released Suave Rob’s Double-X Derring-Do, a story about a guy like this space-jumping dude who, because he’s a few hundred years in the future, decides to surf a supernova. Just cause he’s bored. I wrote it because our world needs more bloody-minded adrenaline-junkies with lots of spare creativity. And I wrote it because I thought “Damn, it would be cool if some day people were really doing space-dives and asteroid-jumping and supernova-surfing.”
Then this happened:
One down. Three to go. What a week!
Watch for a character in an upcoming book named in honor of Felix Baumgartner. Cheers!
Those of you following the Free Will Studio Diaries a couple weeks back will have noticed the sudden halt in what was supposed to be a seven part series. Doubtless you’ll have noticed that there aren’t any posts of week two in the studio as well.
This is because, due to a fresh and very annoying series of personal emergencies, I’ve not been able to carve out the time to proof and post them. I am also unable to take advantage of the loan of the studio space this week as I had planned to. The upshot is that there will be no new recording this week, and it is very likely that there will be no recording till after the first of the year. Time will tell.
Here’s hoping that I can pop in soon with a good news surprise. Until then, thank you all very much for your patience and your support through what’s proved to be a year of logistical difficulties.
I’ll be back in circulation as soon as humanly possible. Be good to yourselves.
There will be a new newsletter out shortly after the new year, but as we’re winding down this year I wanted to take a moment out and give you all a wave and huge thanks.
2011 has been a remarkably productive year, and the last four days are going to be some of its busiest as I hurry to package a few new short stories, finish up two books, and put together a kickstarter video.
But the best part, the part so many of you have been waiting for, has already started:
The recording studio is back up and running. We’re recording audiobooks for Free Will (which will be podcast), for the Clarke Lantham books, and for a few other things that we’ll announce later on. And today, we’re also recording new episodes of Apologia.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to have it all ticking over again.
More soon. Until then, have an excellent year’s end!
Neurological pharmacology–a fancy way of saying “what drugs do to brains”–is a subject with which I have a special fascination. Some of them accentuate specific aspects of personality, some create hallucinations and religious experience, some relieve depression, some kick the sex drive or the bonding drive into high gear. In a lot of ways, though, for my money, I’d nominate alcohol as the most interesting for one reason:
In vino, veritas. Pliny the Elder nailed it: Wine tells the truth. It doesn’t make you do things so much as it lets you do things. You can learn a lot about yourself, and about your friends, by watching what happens when they’re well-buzzed.
National holidays can do the same thing to people–and not just because of the amount of alcohol people tend to consume given half an excuse. Like all things, love of one’s country can come in a lot of flavors. Soviet dissidents, for example, loved their country while hating its system–they loved its culture, its geography, its weather, the shared history in which their identity was rooted. Members of totalitarian systems, on the other hand, are trained to identify the system with the country, and to see non-conformity as so unpatriotic as to deserve death. Some people are patriotic about countries where they’ve never lived, so much so that they’ll move across the world to live in them, because they’ve fallen in love with the ideology, or the people, or the culture of that country. You can learn a lot about a person by watching the flavor of their patriotism.
Writing a political thriller series these last few years, I’ve carefully watched the political micro-climates around the world and studied how they relate to the version of love of country I carry around in my own psyche. Call it a love affair with the Jeffersonian vision of freedom: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
This year has been an amazing year around the world for the struggle against different forms of tyranny, and as an Americans it’s been more exciting than I can say to watch the most action-packed year of calculated struggles against tyranny since the late 80s and early 90s (it’s also more than a little embarrassing how little my home culture seems interested in carrying on their struggle on the home front, but that’s a topic for another time). It’s quite possible that the Arab Spring, the Iranian struggles, and the other protests and revolutions around the world will all come to bad ends in the same way that the revolutions of the twentieth century almost all ended in dictatorship, civil war, and genocide; still, I have a thin hope that some of the people who are laying down their lives–for reasons as simple as the next loaf of bread or as idealistic as bringing democracy and universal suffrage to cultures where such notions are without precedent–may have read history and learned from the missteps of the last hundred years.
Because of that, in celebration of the first revolution that actually worked (if imperfectly), I’ve dedicated Free Will (my new book about revolution) as follows:
This volume is dedicated to the men and women
Who sat in Tahrir
Who crossed the Wall in Berlin
Who fell at Tiananmen Square
Who bled in the streets of Tehran
Who lost their lives in Boston
And all those like them before and since.
To them we owe a debt we cannot repay
Save that we make their dream come true
I’ll be seeing you soon, with the rest of the book. Have a safe weekend–and spend it however you want to. The ability to make that choice is a remarkable thing in the history of the world.
Ah, car shopping. That magical time of life where you get to hop around the area, sitting in other people’s vehicles, fondling their shifters and clutching at their pedals until you finally get hauled away for turning Top Gear into a porn show.
In between times, you get harassed by salespeople both fabulous and incompetent, pushed to spend more money than the Harvard students spend on pizza in a year, and–just occasionally–get to test drive a car that leaves you breathless. The weight balance is just short of perfect, the clutch is tighter than a smuggler’s sphincter at a customs checkpoint, the gearbox goes up to six, and the power band is as wide as a ten-lane highway. Continue reading ‘The Quest for Transport’
Portland in the fog has all the charm and beauty of Los Angeles of 2029 in Blade Runner, but without quaint charm of suffocating corporatism. Instead, it defaults to a decidedly more Stalinist aesthetic: gray and oppressive during the day, moody and hazy at night. It’s skyline is punctuated by the occasional train yard and industrial complex on the one hand, and the very occasional example of exquisitely gaudy hyper-modernist architecture on the other. Driving through on a drizzly night (and, in Portland, most nights are drizzly), I’m often taken by the fancy that Paris, France and the Southern Pacific Railway crept into Soviet Moscow on a cold winter’s night to birth their love child and stow it safely in the city’s forgotten historic sections, so that they wouldn’t be publicly shamed by the rest of Europe.
On the other hand, there is Powell’s. And The Montage. And the other things about Portland that keep me coming back for a visit every now and then even though the weather is appalling and the streets are paved with potholes and designed according to arcane 1950s theories of traffic control that bear as much resemblance to the patterns of human travel as does spontaneous human combustion to real-world thermodynamics. Continue reading ‘Live, from Portland’
Last night I had occasion to send an email to Spider Robinson, thanking him for his recent book Variable Star, a posthumous collaboration with Robert A. Heinlein. If you are unfamiliar with Spider’s work, or have not read Variable Star, you owe it to yourself to take a gander. All royalties from the book go to fund the Heinlein prize, which is a nice bonus, but really, the book is worth it on its own well apart from that. I reproduce part of the letter below, to give you a flavor for why.
Free content – particularly in the audio fiction space – suddenly seems a lot less of a perpetual free lunch than it did six months ago, and it’s got a lot of folks freaking out in my corner of the Internet. Providers are dropping like flies this year! Matthew Wayne Selznick and J.C. Hutchins have both very publicly withdrawn from the podcast fiction space, and for the best reason there is: Money.
[Correction: MWS chimed in in the comments to correct my misapprehension of his current attitude toward podcasting, which is considerably more complex than the paragraph above makes it seem. My apologies for inadvertently misrepresenting him.]
The two of them are generation one podiobookers who appeared in the space hot on the heels of the three founders, and seeing them throw in the towel has a lot of other creators wondering: “Are we all just being idiots giving stuff away for free?” And it’s got a lot of fans wondering “What’s going to happen now? Are all my favorite writers going to give up?”
As I sat in this chair this morning prepping the next round of episodes for Down From Ten after a longer-than-intended Christmas hiatus, I got the news that Tee Morris’s wife died yesterday, leaving Tee and his five-year-old daughter, affectionately known as Sonic Boom, behind.
You that listen here regularly know Tee from his starring role as Amos in Down From Ten, or perhaps you heard his voice as Marian’s boss in Predestination or from the Predestination exit interview, but the story of Tee Morris is quite a bit more colorful. Tee invented podcast fiction, co-founded podiobooks.com, and is thus created the industry which launched the careers of myself, Chris Lester, Philippa Ballantine, Nathan Lowell, Scott Sigler, Christiana Ellis, Mur Lafferty, Nobilis Reed, and many others. He’s also directly helped many of us, and many others, with encouragement, advice, and lending his voice to our worlds. He’s also become a good friend to many of us, apart from a professional association.
Odd as it sounds, there are three things in this modern world that are more expensive than any other – being born, dying, and death. Natalie Morris’s death was sudden and unexpected, but it has left Tee with a raft of expenses he must meet immediately, and this as an unexpectedly single parent. Because of this, I have a special request for you – if you were planning on sending me a tip in the next week or three, send it to Tee instead.
Below you’ll find a widget for the chip-in account that Philippa Ballantine has started to help get Tee and Sonic Boom through the crisis time to calmer waters. Please click on it and toss a couple bucks in if at all you can.
The following is the press release regarding Spider Robinson’s current situation. Please take a moment to read it.
— — — —
Earlier this year a brilliant Vancouver surgeon, Dr. Andresz Busczowski,
helped Hugo- and Nebula-winning science fiction writer and zero-gravity
dancer/choreographer Jeanne Robinson beat back a rare and virulent form of
biliary cancer. But itÂ¹s so rare even he canÂ¹t say how much time heÅ’s bought
her, how soon it might recurâ€¹and her latest blood tests have been so
discouraging theyÂ¹ve now decided she needs to start chemotherapy as soon as
possible. Besides the prescription drugs to counteract the chemotherapy, she
needs special therapies and supplements, counseling, and extensive diet and
lifestyle changes, to reduce her stress level and the strain on her liver to
as close to zero as possible. All those things are expensive…and like many
artists today Jeanne and her writer husband Spider Robinson were already
running on fumes financially.
But Jeanne, a Soto Zen monk, has been spreading love and kindness in all
directions for a long time. So her Buddhist sangha in Vancouver, her
neighbors on Bowen Island, and friends as far away as Florida have all
spontaneously come together to raise funds to help keep her around as long
as possible. Your participation is welcomed. A Bowen benefit concert, Â³WE
DREAM FOR JEANNE,Â² will be held at Cates Hill Chapel at 7:30 PM on Friday
Sept 18 details here; goods or services can be donated for eBay auction by
contacting Jan Schroeder at , and PayPal donations
can be sent to this website.
You can read JeanneÂ¹s recent blog entry, The Third Act, to get a sense of
how sheÂ¹s feeling at this link.
Jeanne and Spider both warmly appreciate your help, support, prayers or just
good thoughts. So does one of the newest visitors to this planet: their
first grandchild, Marisa Alegria da Silva. (seen at Jeanne’s blogsite.)