Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Ferryman

Hey, you guys, remember when I told you about the Walk the Fire anthology which contains a swell story by me? No? Click here. Well, my friend John Anealio wrote and recorded a song for the book called The Ferryman. Click through to listen and download it for free! Who's that Matthew guy, he mentions? Hmmmm . . .

Read the book, listen to the song, immerse yourself in the world of Walk the Fire!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Write With Spider!

StarShipSofa does a lot of cool webinars that hook up people like you and me with folk who are successful in creative fields and Tony has sent me some info on the latest. Spider Robinson is going to be talking to participants about writing science fiction and he's a guy who knows how it works. He's been writing professionally for forty years and has won three Hugo awards and a Nebula. He's probably best known for his novels and stories featuring Callahan's Crosstime Saloon.

If you're a writer or are thinking about becoming one, you may want to check this out. Even if you're not a writer, as a listener of Spider's podcast, I can tell you that the guy's a great storyteller with a beautiful voice and you may want to sit in on this for the sheer entertainment. Click the picture above or this link http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/4880911939/Spider1/47219574345 and you'll be whisked away to a page where you can learn more and sign up. If you can't make it to the webinar, you can still sign up and get a recording of the show about a week later. Blast off!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dad Was A Veteran

Dad was a veteran. He fought from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines, re-upping again and again because he didn't want to leave his brothers behind. Unlike a lot of vets, he talked about the war. He talked about it enough to shape me, to make me realize how bloody evil war is. He told me about the guy who got his head blown off and the six feet that the guy's decapitated body walked before it collapsed. He told me about Japanese soldiers who strapped landmines to their bodies and threw themselves under tanks. He told me about rape, murder and cannibalism.
Dad was 100% disabled by government standards. He once showed me the paperwork that confirmed 60% of that disability was psychological. I can't believe that anyone could come out of a ground war like that without being psychologically damaged.
He also taught me - without meaning to - that there are no heroes in war. Soldiers can do heroic things. My dad did heroic things. He saved lives and I don't just mean here on the homefront. I knew a guy who owed my father his life. Dad pulled him from the burning wreckage of a plane. My father escaped after two weeks in a Japanese prison camp when he and two others overpowered guards and took their weapons. One of those two others died during the fight. The other took a different direction outside the walls and dad never knew what happened to him.
My dad also did evil things, stuff that I won't share here and stuff that was in no way unique to him. Accepted policy and procedure during wartime that you won't find written anywhere as well as some things that weren't so accepted. He told me two or three years before he died that if there was a Hell, he was going to it. That sort of thing was a rare admission from him.
People do what they feel they need to do in war. It brings out the worst and the best in people, in individuals. I don't vilify my father in my heart. He performed acts noble and vile. He was human in a nightmarish situation. And I understand that the things that he and his fellow soldiers did preserved our way of life here at home. 
I'd like people to educate themselves on what wars are really like so maybe we'll have less of them and we won't need to put human beings anywhere in the world through the meat grinder. I hope one day we see a Veterans Day where there are no veterans of war to thank because there haven't been any wars in a lifetime. 
In the meantime, my thanks to all our veterans for their incredible sacrifices.

Sunday, October 07, 2012


Walk the Fire! That's the e-book in which you'll find my latest story, Aborted Love with Chaos Motor at Lucky Pierre's! That's number 138 of The One-Thousand. You can get it here:


Or just click on the cover above.

So the book is a shared world anthology set in a universe in which there are certain fires which can each trace their origin back to one eternal fire discovered in a cave in France long ago. If you step into one of these fires, you might step out from another one, whether it's miles or light years away. You might also get lost forever, unless you're escorted by one of the Ferrymen, people who are able to navigate the space between fires safely. My fellow authors have come up with a wide variety of scenarios for stories set in this world, some of which take place in the past.

My story takes place in the future on planets far from Earth, wherein a trio of feminist revolutionaries from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are on the run, having stolen a very valuable artifact. The guy that's after them has a strong and complicated connection to one of the three. And one of the others seems just a bit insane. There's also a robot, a sociopath and snails. Lots and lots of snails.

As I post this, you have about six and a half hours left to grab a chance to win a free copy of the book from me. Hop on Twitter and retweet one of the contest tweets I've posted this weekend and you're entered to win. That's all there is to it. You can find me here: twitter.com/upwithgravity. You don't even have to follow me, but it would be swell if you did.

To top it all off, here's the beginning of the story to prime your pumpiness:

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The ocean filled her head.
Saltwater packed Shoksi's skull air-foam tight. It filled her gaping mouth and trickled down into her throat, toward her starving lungs just so. A little more. A little more.
Indroid! Shoksi's mind screamed to her onboard systems. Which way is up? Eight hundred and ninety three arrows, fluorescent orange in the green sea, swam past her vision like a school of fish. They pointed toward her feet. She flipped over and pushed her cold sluggish muscles for whatever they had left.
Shoksi broke through the skin. Her sinuses were on fire, her hearing bubbled and muted. Her throat spasmed between sucking in air and coughing up water in spatters and glugs. Through dripping curls she saw Tambi's head bobbing along the dark waters. They weren't far from a beach, thank god. Crowds hooted from the shore. The sky was pink.
“Where's Asha?” Tambi cried.
“I'll find her,” Shoksi said in a phlegm-choked voice. But as she fought for breath for the dive she saw a large form rising up beneath them. A mini-sub? Standing on top of it was that fool of a Firewalker. Asha's gloved fists broke the surface first, then her head with a great sucking gasp. Whatever she stood on knocked Shoksi off balance as it caught up all three of them. Shoksi fell back down, soaked her head again before her rear end hit the platform. She came into the air once more, wiped her fingers across her eyes and pushed her heavy hair aside. What the hell was going on?
“Yes! Yes!” Asha was shouting to the sky. She turned to the people on shore and pumped her fists. They ate it up. Whatever had rescued the three women had raised edges and began to resemble a raft as it drained. Bone white and navy blue, it sported a texture like a basketball. Shoksi felt lighter, even out of the water. Less gravity here. A low-flying seabird swooped close enough that the air smacked her as it passed.
The raft said something to them in what sounded like English.
“Lingala,” Shoksi said with a cough. “Or even French.”
"Sorry about that, ladies," the raft said in accented French, as it swept them toward the nearby shore. "People here like to exercise what they think is a sense of humor." It extended a bit of its edge into a hand shape, pointing into the air opposite the shore. A thin plastic pipe rose about six meters above the water. A Flame erupted from a brass fitting at its top. Across the sky beyond that was projected a replay of the three women emerging from that Flame and falling into the ocean below. Then idiot Asha rising from the ocean like a rockstar. The people on the beach were lined up waiting for them.
Shoksi instinctively went for her collapsible automatic. Kill them all, men first. But sadly, her hand slapped empty webbing on her pant leg. That's right. Tambi had said no weapons. Damned Tambi. Shoksi vomited a little sea water, only partially over the edge of the raft. She felt the alkaline burn of bile up inside her nose.
“What the hell kind of piece of shit Firewalker are you?” she shouted at Asha.
“Are you kidding?” Asha asked, looking down at her. “You should be thrilled! I had no idea we were going to come through alive!”
“She's not a real Firewalker,” Tambi said. Her long horse face wasn't looking at Shoksi, but toward their reception committee.
“You're telling me this now?”
“You can't let a real Firewalker in on a Church heist! You know that!”
“I'm almost a Firewalker!” Asha said.
A cloud of odd insects converged around the raft, each one hovering rather than buzzing about. Cameras. To Shoksi there was no such thing as good publicity. There were others higher up in the Culture Clash that handled that better than she did. She didn't know what this was, but she did know it wasn't part of the plan.
“Tell me you still have the motor!” Shoksi said to Tambi, remembering what had brought them to this point.
“I don't have your strength,” Tambi said holding up the little device by the handle, “But nothing would make me let go of this.”
“Thank god! Let's hope the water hasn't ruined it.”
“If it was that easy, it would have been ruined already.”
“Everybody's white.” Asha said, studying the shore. She still stood, as if this raft was her personal chariot. “I mean everybody.”
"We must be far out," Tambi said. "These people's ancestors probably left Earth when North America and Europe were still wealthy.”
“Australia,” the raft said.
“Same thing. Boat, we need to get back to that Flame. This isn't the world we wanted."
“There are plenty of other Flames on shore,” the raft said. “A lot easier to reach too.”
“Welcome to Pearth,” it said. “P-E-A-R-T-H. I guarantee you haven't seen anything like it before.”

If you want to read the rest of the story, enter to win a copy of the book on Twitter twitter.com/upwithgravity or just go buy the darned thing! http://www.amazon.com/Walk-The-Fire-ebook/dp/B009GQYF6E

Thanks, folks!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Catching Lightning In An IPod

On my walk this evening. For some perspective the light to the lower left of the lightning is a house light and the lumpy dark blobs behind that are trees.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Reminder

If you want to skip to the good part, it's below in bold print.

This is an important reminder for you. At least I think it's for you. It's definitely for other writers, probably for other artists and possibly for other human beings.

I've been writing stories to submit to magazines for over twenty one years now and I still make rookie mistakes. I keep forgetting all those good, hard lessons I've learned over the decades and when I remind myself about them I feel dumb and then get back on track.

My life has gotten a lot better recently. With the payment of some big bills and a new position at my store, things are lined up more than ever for me to devote more time to writing.

And I'm not writing.

Or, more precisely, I waste a bunch of time to avoid the heck out of writing, then I write a little, then I bounce off and waste a bunch more time. That's right. The thing that I've wanted to do with my life since I was a kid, I don't do it. Even when I've adjusted my life to give myself plenty of opportunities to do it.

Rather than seek out medication which might throw everything into chaos, I look at the symptoms, I look at what I've learned, and I smack myself in the head. Because avoidance of this thing I want to do always boils down to the same cause: Perfection.

Perfection is the devil. It freezes you up at the keyboard and makes you climb the walls. Did Linda Blair climb the walls? It's been twenty years since I last watched, but probably. The devil's got a thing for horizontal surfaces, I think. Perfection is particularly devilish, because you don't know it's there. You think it's a thing you put behind you long ago. But then, why are you frozen when you're not busy wall-climbing? Damn it. There it is.

The solution is easy. Stop trying to be perfect. Just do something. Do anything. Be crappy on purpose. This is something I've told myself a few thousand times and still forget. That's why I need the reminder and maybe you needed it right now too. Doing something half-assed is more progress than not doing it at all.

Okay, I see now, that this advice is definitely not for everyone. Please ignore this if you're a surgeon, for instance. I'm sorry, but you'll have to figure out your own shit. Try a surgery blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Light Bulb

I've always experimented with different ways to write stories. I dig trying something just to see if it will work. But it struck me today that my best stories were written using the same method. I'll share that here with you, in case you can take something from it. This is an overview, of course. There are a thousand tiny details beyond this in any story.

I have a nebulous germ of an idea and I feel the mood of the thing. Mood is key to make me want to write the thing. I've started hundreds of pieces that just lie down dead after a few paragraphs or pages. They go nowhere because I don't feel anything for them.

I hardly have characters in mind at this point. If anything, they're just placeholders. Given the idea and the mood, I figure out what sort of interaction between characters would evoke such a mood and I start writing dialogue or rudimentary direction. If I have more than one interaction in mind that will capture the feeling for me, I write the dialogue for each one. They're like lines from a play. There isn't necessarily an order to these pieces yet. The characters are being created line by line and any words they say, any movements they make, all go toward making them who they ultimately become.

An order sort of suggests itself as I go and I write any connecting bits as they occur to me. Throughout the process, I'm throwing in whatever cool ideas I want to throw in, whether they're details, lines or situations. A narrative is starting to form, partly guided by the developing characters. By now I have a rough idea of the beginning, middle and end of the story.

After I've written as much as I can think of and added enough detail to put some meat on the skeleton, I call it a first draft. Even if there are holes or entire scenes missing because I can't yet think of anything to write in those places.

Then I outline. Yes. After the first draft. I write down a sentence for each scene or key interaction and bullet point them. This way, on a single screen, I can see the flow of the story, the order of events, the number of scenes and what chunks are missing. Now I can see if scenes need to be rearranged, where the action is happening, which character is really the focus and what sorts of scenes I need to fill in those holes. I can also see if there are extraneous characters or scenes which can be collapsed into single characters or scenes.

I make any changes according to what I've discovered in the last step.

I rewrite, making it as close to a finished story as I can.

I send it to friends and fellow writers and ask them to tell me what works for them and what doesn't.

I go over their feedback and follow the advice with which I agree or set aside that with which I don't. Consensus is an important part of this. If one person says a character's action doesn't make any sense, that's probably not a real problem. If many people say that action doesn't make sense, I need to fix that.

I rewrite to fix any issues. Bang. I've got myself a story.


A few months ago I came up with a list of points of what, in my opinion, makes a great story. You're welcome to agree or disagree. I'm showing them to you in case you can get anything useful from them, not to start an argument.

A Story Well Told needs:

1. A Killer idea
2. A beginning that drags you in
3. To be told with Excitement and Crackling words
4. An emotional aspect
5. Characters that you believe are real people
6. An ending:
     a. The reader doesn't expect
     b. That makes sense
     c. That hits home

I hope something here helps you. Good luck.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I've dabbled in a boatload of podcasts recently, for some strange reason. If you miss the sound of my voice, you're in luck!

I was on the panel for the SF Signal Podcast number 133 and we talked about spoilers. How long is long enough before we can spoil the shit out of something?

Then a little later I did a Mango style intro for the SF Signal Podcast number 138.

I contributed a 100 word story to Laurence Simon's 100 Word Story Podcast number 325. Laurence and others promised to donate a buck to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life for each story contributed to this episode, so I had to kick a story in. The theme for this episode's stories? Life. This is a huge, huge show. Like, over four hours. I'm near the end, but there are so many stories here, you're bound to enjoy lots of them, so you may want to listen.

Christie Yant and I read our pal Grant Stone's awesome story, Young Love on the Run from the Federal Alien Administration New Mexico Division (1984), on StarShipSofa number 248.

I got in on a panel for the SFF Audio Podcast number 171 in which we discuss new releases and recent arrivals in the realm of science fiction and fantasy audio books.

And just yesterday SFF Audio ran a show we recorded the same day in which we discuss a science fiction story by Jack London called A Thousand Deaths on episode 173. If you haven't read it, don't sweat it, because before we start yapping, Julie Hoverson reads it for you!

And if, after all of that, you're still not sick and tired of the sound of me, head over to my hovel away from home, Beware the Hairy Mango! A new episode will be popping up less than two hours from the time I write this!

Get me into your hot ears and enjoy it all!

Thursday, August 09, 2012


Man, working on the novel means these stories are few and far between, but I finally finished story 138 of The One-Thousand! It's called Aborted Love With Chaos Motor at Lucky Pierre's. I usually don't let you guys in on the titles until they've been accepted. In this case, I was invited to contribute to an anthology and the editor accepted this today, shortly after I sent it. I really dig this story and once it's out, I'll tell you how you can get it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Guest Dog

Daisy's crashing at our place for a few days. You know, while she looks for work.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

We Visit The Dali

There's a Salvadore Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida that I've been wanting to visit for decades. It's over three hours away by car, so I've never gotten around to it, but The Boy and I finally hit it today and we agreed it was fantastic, worth the many hours on the road. Here's the site: http://thedali.org/home.php

The museum just moved into a new building about a year and a half ago. The bottom floor is all gift shop, second floor is for staff and third for the galleries. We couldn't take photos inside the galleries, as you may imagine, but I'm sure you can find images of almost everything online. The Boy wanted to sneak some photos anyway, but those people watch you like hawks. We could take photos outside of the gallery, so here are a few of those. Click on the images to see larger versions. I shouldn't have to tell you that really. You should know how to use the Internet by now.

Here's me on a melty bench.

Much more after the jump! 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Little Bummer

Just a quick one. I'm plugging away at 138 of The One-Thousand and I realized all these little things I post on Twitter and Facebook are keeping me from posting here. So I'm posting here. Maybe the posts will get shorter but more numerous. Who know? By the way that "s" was left off on purpose.

Some people like to figure out mystery stories and twist ending stories ahead of time. I'm not one of those people. In fact, I try hard not to think too much about what's going to happen because I like to be surprised. Well, I was just listening to Philip K. Dick's The Skull (number 14 here: http://librivox.org/short-science-fiction-collection-030/) and I just ruined it for myself. Maybe Dick made it too obvious, but now I'm bummed.

Monday, July 09, 2012


I'm as tired as an old joke tonight. I was up at five a.m. after a slow trickle of sleep, the feed torn from my arm long before my vein belly was filled. Two hour meeting at the job, then off to celebrate my daughter's seventeenth birthday with movies and more movies, junk food on top of junk food served between two cupcake pizzas and 64 oz. Crisco sodas all around. Got a little nap, then unsleepytime misery, trying to crawl from the grave into the living room and a little fun with The Sims. She had a great day.
Now, though, still running on the distant memory of fumes, all I want to do is sleep. But I'm Kaizening myself into getting some things done. It's a Japanese philosophy of improvement for corporations, but as Kaizen applies to an individual, it's basically conning your lazy ass into doing something by taking on a ridiculously small piece of it. 
"I'm just going to fold one shirt."
"I'm just going to write one sentence."
"I'm just going to walk twenty feet."
And maybe you do just that, which is something you wouldn't have otherwise done or, which is often the case, you do a bit more because you're there anyway. It's good for getting something from yourself when you don't want to give anything.

Friday, July 06, 2012

We Humans

We humans have the minds to conceive of things which don't exist and figure out what we need to do to bring those things into existence. We have the arms and legs and strong backs to manipulate matter. We have the social instincts to share our ideas; to ask for help; to divide the labor, each to his or her expertise; and bring all of these things together to make the changes we want in the world. We are demigods.

Turn off that TV.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where It's At

Forgive the uninteresting prose today. There's a TV going here and people talking and that doesn't lead to quality.

Here's what's going on with my creative endeavors at the moment. If you know me well, then you know there's very little in my life that excites me. The novel I'm working on excites me. I really hope it doesn't turn out crappy. It is getting better every day. I'm on schedule now to have a beta version done by October. Then I'll hit some people up to give it a read and I hope to have something I can send to an editor by the end of the year.

I've got to write a couple of episodes of the Mango this week and record one so you'll have something to listen to on the 30th. I'm also co-narrating a story for a friend of this blog for StarShipSofa. I'll let you know when that comes out.

I had never been interested in submitting to original anthologies before. I never seem to want to write a story that fits in with whatever the given theme might be. But in recent months I've reconsidered because I think it might be a fun experiment and, as you know, I need to move my ass and get some stories done unless I want to change the name of this blog to The Two-Hundred. So I got an offer recently and decided to jump in, so there's a story I committed to finishing by mid-August.

In short, I've got lots to do.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Larger Lives

Take heart while you sit in the corner alone and wait for death. Your life has stretched larger than you see. In a place you've never seen some friend you knew in elementary school uses a line of yours that used to be your favorite. Twenty years after your time has passed your kid recites that limerick you shouldn't have mentioned. You were patient zero for that one meme that spread across the landscape of people you knew. That little thing you do with your lips, that catchphrase we all hated, that tune you used to hum, the panoply of malapropisms that showered from your dumb mouth, the ketchup on your eggs, it's all out there. Pieces of your personality occupy far more than your one body. It's a shred of immortality. Not the kind you wanted, but the kind you got. No one asked you.

That thing you do that you picked up from Dad, that thing he said his old man used to do, how far back does that go? Was there some ancestor of yours seven hundred years ago who made that jerking off motion with his head tilted and one eye closed? He had your nose, why not that? The genetics of expression. Did the Great Khan make that same farting noise with his lips that you do? Did some poor Egyptian bastard slap his belly while he was lost in thought like Uncle Al? And will there be someone on Mars two hundred years from now who does that dance you do when you smell your favorite foods and your mouth fills with thick warm water?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Me And My Caffeine

I was miserable a couple of weeks ago. I know what things I need to do to straighten myself out but I fail to do them. For instance, although some caffeine can sometimes pull me out of a mild depression, lots and lots of caffeine can send me into a severe depression because I don't sleep enough. The amount of sleep I get directly affects my mood.

So I decided to quit caffeine. Again. Normally when I do that I get a wicked headache a day or two after my last hit and once that goes away, I'm good to go. So I got the headache and I bravely rode it out. Then two days later I got another headache. I got another a day after that. Then I got nauseous while I was eating. And I LOVE eating! Two days after that, I got the headache, the nausea and then I started vomiting.

I said to myself, "You know what? I think I'll have a cup of coffee." All symptoms of caffeine withdrawal went away in about an hour.

Now if this had happened years ago I would have gone back to my 20 oz. coffee and 44 oz. Mountain Dew a day habit. I'm slightly wiser now. I'm drinking only one small cup of coffee a day and that in the morning. No symptoms and I'm still sleeping pretty well and feeling a hell of a lot better in general.

I'd say, "Happy Ending," but life's not over yet.

I hope.

No. Not over yet.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guest Post: Bryan Thomas Schmidt

My pal Bryan Thomas Schmidt returns to The One-Thousand to give us some insight on a character from his latest novel, The Returning, as well as a little piece of the book for free! Find out more about Bryan at the end of this post and click through to his website to get hold of his books for yourself! http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/

Character Sketch & Excerpt: Farien Noa

The antagonist’s childhood schoolmate and best pal Farien Noa has evolved into one of the more ccomplex characters in the Saga Of Davi Rhii. Farien is a Boralian Alliance military pilot and officer, like Davi, and he, Yao and Davi went to the military academy together. His father is a minor diplomat and businessman and Farien is, by far, the more blue collar in attitude of his three friends. He doesn’t always automatically side with what they think is right or even moral. He likes to consider other issues including how the decisions might affect his military career and family. This can bring conflict with his friends, despite their closeness, and does create some internal conflicts for Farien as well. He goes through the ringer in The Worker Prince, the first book, but in The Returning, book 2, he faces even more and has a much larger role to play throughout.
Of the three, Davi Rhii (protagonist), Yao Brahma (Tertullian-center in the cover pic), and himself, Farien is the more physical one. He’s quick to want to fight and to let his temper flare, and he’s also the one who struggled the most academically and to achieve success. As a result, he is very hesitant to jeopardize all he’s work for and often a bit jealous when his friends overshadow him. In the following scene, Farien is leading his friends in an investigation of assassins stalking Davi’s native people, the formerly enslave Vertullians. But recently, Davi and his friends have faced assassins coming after them as well. Here they visit a black market on Xanthis and Farien finds his personal morals and ideals challenged by some shady characters they meet.

      Farien pushed the joystick forward, racing to catch Davi. Hot air pounded his skin as the g-forces threatened to pull his hands free of the controls. Clearly the time spent training worker pilots in the forests of Vertullis was paying off, as Davi had taken the previous corner so sharply Farien couldn’t believe he’d stayed aboard his Skitter.
      As Farien slowed and pulled alongside, Davi glanced back at Yao who was trailing them. “Well, we haven’t lost him yet.”
      Farien grinned, shaking his head. “It wouldn’t be hard.” He keyed the comm. “Come on, Brahma, you fly like your grandmother!”
      “My grandmother’s survived this long for a reason—no one in our family’s insane.” Yao’s tone was one of patient calm. By now, his friends’ antics didn’t cause him any stress.

Friday, June 08, 2012

If Only We Had Taller Been

I get on these YouTube kicks. As you may know Ray Bradbury tributes are flying around furiously and fastly on the Internet this week. This is my favorite. A beautiful poem, If Only We Had Taller Been. (via Larry Santoro, Dvice, JPLnews and a lot of others whose names I don't know.) Incidentally, everyone hails Fahrenheit 451 as his greatest work. They're talking about the content, though. If you want great writing, pick up Something Wicked This Way Comes. Open the book to almost any page and you'll find sentences that punch you in the face and shake you.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Knife

I have a knife at home which in my mind is called The Knife. I have lots of other knives, but they are inferior things that don't get named and mostly only get used by The Boy. It's my go-to knife. When I want to cut, when I want to spread, it's my guy. It gets fished out of the sink between dish washings for its very own bath. The other dishes are so jealous! Before it came into my life, there was another The Knife and after it is gone there will be another The Knife. None of them look like one another. In that respect, they're more like Doctor Who than The Phantom.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All Flesh is Glass

Hey, Folks, go check out my latest story, All Flesh is Glass, at Grand Science Fiction. It's story 137 of The One-Thousand. And it's teeny tiny but I think it's swell.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

MuchoMangoMayo 2012!

Oh, jeez. We're halfway through the month and only now am I mentioning the Mango event of the year on my blog. If you follow me anywhere else, you're already sick to death of me talking about it. So now I can make you sick here too. Go check out my podcast, Beware the Hairy Mango. You normally get two episodes a month, but this May as well as last May, you get a new episode every single day! Wow!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

What Atheism Means To Me

It means you don't believe in God.

That's it.

I see piles of stuff online talking about atheism and what it truly means to be an atheist. For instance, an atheist is a critical thinker, a lover of science, more moral than the average theist on the street, finds wonder in nature, is smarter, is right, doesn't get taken in. Whatever.

A few years back, I heard a lot about atheist groups with entire agendas. They had banded together so that their voices might be heard. I don't care if my voice is heard.

I'm an atheist and I'm not part of a group and there is no atheist agenda. There are groups of atheists with agendas, but they don't speak for all atheists. An atheist does not necessarily hold a certain worldview. Atheists do not necessarily agree with each other. Most importantly for some readers, they're not going to take over the world. They don't have the numbers and they don't have the organization.

Atheists are assholes and they're decent people. They're scientists and they're mystics. You get the same mix as you do with all other groups. They're humans and about as uninteresting as other humans.

I have friends who believe a person comes to atheism through a series of logical and scientifically inspired conclusions. I can tell you from experience that there are also other ways.

My father became an atheist while he was fighting in the war in the Pacific theater. He believed that if there was a god, he would never allow such horrors to happen. My father didn't believe in God. He did believe in an afterlife, however. He believed my mother's spirit was still with us after her death. He believed that walking through Yankee graveyards was good luck. The system was in place, there was simply no one running the show.

I worked with a lady who became an atheist when her two year old son died of cancer. Same deal. God would not have allowed this to happen.

I became an atheist through a revelation, as unsound and unstable as any religious one. I had done the church and Sunday school thing, I had fought with people who questioned the most basic tenets of Christianity. The beginning of my freshman year in high school, my world civ class was reading a passage about how Neanderthals buried objects with their dead which suggested they believed in an afterlife. In a flash I realized that God didn't create man, man created God. And that was that. No science, no logic, no soul searching.

I'm not saying that I'm right about there being no god. I was raised in a family - and, I think, a laid back culture in New England - that said, "Believe whatever you want, just don't push it on anyone else." I believe agnostics are the only folks you can trust on the whole afterlife issue. They're the only ones who are honest enough to say, "I dunno." Scientifically speaking, it can't be proven there is a god or there isn't. We could all be in the Matrix. We could all be a dream someone is having. There could be thousands of gods. We could be a sudden spasm of spontaneous intelligence in someone's lab that only exists for a second, but has the certain memory of a preceding life and civilization that never actually existed. If we're just spitballing, anything I can imagine that can't be disproven is possible. But given all things, when the question of God comes up, I'm putting my money on probably not.

I'm fine with people believing whatever they want. I don't want to outlaw religion or even argue with anyone about it. Our media-driven society's need for controversy and "balance" has pushed the idea of "Live and let live" right out of our heads and that's a real shame.

There might be people that think that if I was a real atheist, I wouldn't be capitalizing the word "God" in all the places that I have. I must assure them that my choices in capitalization do not have any bearing on my beliefs. There might be people who, for any number of reasons, believe that I'm not really an atheist. I'm going to sleep as well either way.

There might be a lot of atheists who agree with me, but you never hear about it, because they don't care enough about it to mention it. I just fell out of that category.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Melinda Gates: Let's put birth control back on the agenda

There are a handful of core things that we could do to improve the world and the lives of people in it. This is one of those core things.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Finally! I haven't had a new story since September because of the novel. 137 was a shorty, but it counts, by gum!

Beware the Hairy Mango 100!

Celebrate Beware the Hairy Mango's 100th episode video style with Lobsterman! With special guest stars, my kids! http://bewarethehairymango.com/episode-100-lobsterman/

Or watch it right here:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Writing Advice At The End

I wanted to record Mango 100 today but both The Boy's voice and my own are jacked up due to sickness. Yes, he's going to be in it and so is his sister. But don't remember this in case it falls through.

Saw a beautiful movie called Somewhere with the daughter. She hated it. She claimed nothing happened. Don't listen to her. She's the one who picked it out and she can't remember why. I just wanted to see it because it was a Sofia Coppola film. It was my second and Sofia's two for two. Looking forward to three.

Here's some advice for the writers out there. It's one of those obvious things that we still need to be reminded of from time to time. You non-writers can probably get something out of it too:

Don't waste your time reading work that doesn't excite you. Don't waste your time writing what doesn't excite you. You don't have nine hundred years here. Get to the good stuff.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Itchy Mind

It's one of those days when I've got nothing that needs to be done and I can just sit and write and yet I can't do more than a half hour's worth of work without having to get up and distract myself. It's what I call the itchy mind. I went to get help for this years ago, figuring I had ADD or something. Turns out I did and my psychiatrist threw in some depression there as well, which made sense. The good news was there were meds for that; One drug which handled both, which made me wonder if they're related. The bad news was that the meds took away my desire to write. I chose to drop them. I'd rather be fucked up and getting some work done than happy and getting no work done.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I'm avoiding work again.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Kicking The Horse Again

I posted a link to the audio for this story a couple of years back but since The Moth just released the video, I wanted to tell you about it again. Jerry Stahl is funny as hell. I think this was the first Moth story I heard and it made me a permanent fan.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Moebius passed away today. If you're familiar with Heavy Metal - either the magazine or the first movie - you're familiar with his work. I'm grabbing things for this post by way of posts from Neil Gaiman, Jimmy Palmiotti and Scott Edelman. I would loved to have seen his Dune on the big screen. I first read about it in Twilight Zone magazine just before Lynch's version hit. Here's a little article with some beautiful art from Edelman's wonderful mag, Science Fiction Age. And below is a great and inspiring (to me) documentary, In Search of Moebius.

It's awful to lose him, but great to have had his work.

In Search of Moebius - Jean Giraud clip1/3 by foivosloxias

In Search of Moebius - Jean Giraud _clip2/3 by foivosloxias

In Search of Moebius - Jean Giraud_clip3/3 by foivosloxias

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Héctor Pineda Reupholsters The Sofa

Holy crap! There's a new StarShipSofa out today and check out Héctor Pineda's incredible cover art!

StarShipSofa No 228 Allen Steele

Coming Up
Fact: Covering The Sofa by Skeet Hector Pineda
Fiction: Atom Drive by Charles Fontenay 
Fact: Movie Soundtracks by David Raiklen
Main Fiction: Observation Post by Allen Steele 
Narrators: Jim Philips, Nathan Lowell

All You Need Is Money

My natural state is brokety-broke, but I had a nice influx of dough last week, tax refund and an insurance refund. Paid off a credit card and another bill and caught up on some others and spent a little something on myself. When I was a kid, say eleven and twelve, The Beatles were like a religion to me. Honestly, you wouldn't have wanted to spend time with me. I actually got the words "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" embroidered in big letters on the back of my windbreaker. Total douche. Anyway when high school rolled up, I moved onto other things like Black Sabbath and masturbation and put The Beatles aside. I had pretty much ODed on them anyway. I still dig a little Beatles here and there, but I didn't own the music anymore. So with said dough in hand, I downloaded The Beatles Box Set from iTunes. To put it in metric figures, this set equals 1 assload of Beatles music, Pretty much everything a fan who has a life outside of The Beatles would ever want to own.

I'm loving the shit out of it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Six Sins To Go

I won a small victory against gluttony today and as a reward I get to wear my regular-sized pants tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Some of the Best from Tor.com

My story, Beauty Belongs to the Flowers is available in a free Tor.com e-book today! Lots of great stuff from some big name authors as well. Some of the Best of Tor.com, 2011 edition.  http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/02/out-today-some-of-the-best-of-torcom-a-free-mini-ebook-anthology

Monday, January 23, 2012

Read One Of My Mango-Inspired Stories!

My story, Electric Ladyland, is available in StarShipSofa Stories, Vol. 3. It started as a plain old science fiction story, until I asked myself, “What if the narrator spoke like Beware the Hairy Mango sounds?” And then it got nutty from there. If you want to get your hands on a copy, click the link. There are lots of other great stories by others great authors as a bonus!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Some Other Martian Chronicles

Check out this week's StarShipSofa before it becomes next week's StarShipSofa!

StarShipSofa No 221 Cory Doctorow Part 2

Coming Up
Main Fiction: The Martian Chronicles Part 2 by Cory Doctorow
Fact: The Heta Of The Mind by Paul Finch
Vintage Serial: Exit Center Stage Part 2
Fact: Looking Back At Genre History by Amy H Sturgis
Narrator: Jeff LanePeter Seaton Clark

And if you missed part 1 of the Cory Doctorow story, click here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sucky At Internet

I am so sucky at Internet. I'm hardly ever here. You know what it is? It's that damn Twitter is what it is.

Don't ask me what it was before Twitter.