Thursday, February 11, 2016

None of the below

There is a petition at asking that “None of the Above” be added to ballots. As of this writing, its got close to 100,000 signatures. I’m guessing these people are fed up with the system and think the easiest possible solution – saying a two-letter, one-syllable word – might help.

Sorry. You’ve got to pick someone. You. If all you’ve got to choose from is tripe and cottage cheese, you can’t say “I’ll starve to death.”

The perception, this being a request to the White House and all, seems to be that the problem is at the top. It’s not. Our is a government by the people. Yes, money and special interests and shadowy organizations have lots of power and influence. But not all of it. Not any of it, in the end. If we all decided to vote for Kanye West he’d win. It would not matter how much money the Koch brothers have, if Wall Street approved or if it was a good idea. That’s the real power. And it’s at the bottom. Us.

Each of the current candidates, and most of those that have dropped out in the last few months (Carly Fiorina being the exception) have had plenty of support in order to make it to the national stage. Donald Trump has never been elected to office, but he’s sold millions of books and hosted a television show for years.

We, as a collective, have done this to ourselves. To complain when discomfort reaches the highest office in the land is to complain too late. To complain at all pales in comparison to voting. Our political process starts locally. That is where attention, outrage and activity needs to be applied.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


So I meet this guy about my age, with two young children, who has a career very, very similar to mine: Lots of writing and producing and strategizing for a big non-profit. We both try to find meaning and purpose pursuing art and integrity in a commercial world. We fight the uninterested, the unenthused and the unimaginative. I could tell by talking to him that we both struggle with our internal periscopes, poked up from the depths of practical compliance into creative air much easier to view than to breach. We live in the same environment, physically and metaphorically. I probably have more in common with this person than anyone I’ve ever met.

I couldn’t stand the guy. It is interesting to meet someone so like you and not like them. I didn’t hate him. There was no revulsion. But if I never see him again, that would be cool. He bugged me and I’m not entirely certain why.

He had more hair than me. That might be it.

Luckily, I know he won’t read this. He’s too self-involved. I know that because I can’t remember his name. Tim? Tom? Tucker?


Monday, February 1, 2016

The Wrong Channel. Second Edition

The new cover the The Wrong Channel, the second book of The Misspellers trilogy. It is another fantastic piece of art by Linda Shenk - Etsy shop here. I like that it is spooky without being too obvious about it.  Of course I would, right? It's something I try so hard to achieve in my everyday life.

Try and not quite succeed. On either front. I'm about as spooky as the My Little Pony Halloween Special and more obvious than Donald Trump.  I wonder if that's why I appreciate Linda's painting so much? Admiration for qualities I don't possess.  Like Harry Styles' hair.  Mmmm. . . .

Not Trump's.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Decoding The Rosetta Man

Claire McCague’s The Rosetta Man is so lovable I’m not sure I can give it a fair review. There are literary missteps I could mark off like potholes in the spring, but it would be more to show you I’m not a pushover, than to inform you about your chances of enjoying this ride. And your chances are good.

The central character, Estlin Hume, is a plausible, 21st century, and highly reluctant, Dr. Doolittle. The opening scene, with the squirrels, is enough to propel me into the novel. Hume becomes embroiled in a first-contact, political thriller – that never loses its sense of humor. It is one of the reasons the book is so fun to read.

Reasons 2: Aliens. Creatures from another planet that are really, truly alien. They don’t look like us, communicate like us, or think like us. They are so fascinating and imaginative, you can read the book for them alone.

But you wouldn’t. Clair’s fictionalized science is deep but approachable, spanning physics, biology and psychology. Her mechanisms for interstellar travel and seemingly telepathic communication are particularly delightful.

The book has perhaps too many characters, but that’s me wanting to spend all my time with Hume and the aliens. Which I hope to do in the next book, which I’m thinking reviews like this one will help move along.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Misspellers. Second Edition.

Here is the new cover for the second edition of The Misspellers. It's been 14 years since the first one. Books create a weird time anomaly in my memory, as in this book feels like it came out last year and a life-time ago.

The new cover is by Linda Shenk, who has an amazing Etsy shop here.  Her art is cool, fluid and mysterious and I hope some of it rubs off on my book.

The cover also fits with the other two in the series, The Wrong Channel and the soon to be released, The Misremembered.

There is also a new Misspellers Web site, which is pretty, again thanks to Linda.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Say what? A book review

Surprise can be a wonderful thing. Not always, sure. I mean a heard (herd?) of deer (dear? Mmm . . .) trying to leap over your car is surprising and not all that wonderful. But finding a twenty in your jeans or hearing a joke you haven’t heard 14 times or laughing out loud at a book you’re reading for research can be delightful. I recently encountered that last one.

The Art of Language Invention: From Horse-Lords to Dark Elves, the Words Behind World-Building by David J. Peterson is a piƱata of a book. You have to take a good whack at it. And if you do - if you get through the shell - you will be rewarded with all kinds of delicious tidbits.

The way words evolve. Why do does ‘pneumonia’ start with a ‘p’? The secret origin of my archenemy The Homophone. Peterson answers all kinds of questions I had never thought to ask, but I’m considerably better off for having answered. The book is also funny. I love his running onion gag.

Linguistics is not an easy and there is no trick to make it easy. The way we manipulate words is complicated, inconsistent and sometimes infuriating. Taking a look at language from the perspective of a someone who wants to construct one makes trudging through the complexity more of project than a chore.

Oh, yes. I've doing research for a new book. On language. And this bit of work made my work way easier.  I love that even more than onion gags.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What’s waiting in Toronto?

On my way up to the Great White North for SFContario 6. For those that might possibly be interested, I’m serving on a quartet of panels that will less disturbing than the news, and more interesting than a blank LCD screen.

But I Liked It - Friday 7 PM, Gardenview: In which we defend indefensibly bad genre movies. 

Economics in SF - Saturday 12 PM, Gardenview: In which we convince you that economics is as cool as drooling aliens or rampaging robots.

Coming Soon - Saturday 7 PM, Room 209: We shall talk about what really is new and deserves to be talked about.

Getting to Done - How to Finish Your Work - Sunday 10 AM: Time spent on time management is time not spent on developing excuses for not writing or editing or reading that article about language development that might figure that conversation in chapter 4 . . . but I digress.

 Join us. It will be, on average, 23-percent more fun than you expected.