Review: Sea Without A Shore

I’m not, in general, a fan of David Drake’s writing; most of his output is grimmer and far more carnographic than I care to deal with. I’ve made an exception for his RCN series because they tickle my fondness for classic Age-of-Sail adventure fiction and its pastiches, exhibiting Drake’s strengths (in particular, his deep knowledge… Continue reading Review: Sea Without A Shore

Review: 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies

The Ring Of Fire books are a mixed bag. Sharecropped by many authors, ringmastered by Eric Flint, they range from plodding historical soap opera to sharp, clever entertainments full of crunchy geeky goodness for aficionados of military and technological history. When Flint’s name is on the book you can generally expect the good stuff. So… Continue reading Review: 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies

Which way is north on your new planet?

So, here you are in your starship, happily settling into orbit around an Earthlike world you intend to survey for colonization. You start mapping, and are immediately presented with a small but vexing question: which rotational pole should you designate as ‘North’? There are a surprisingly large number of ways one could answer this question.… Continue reading Which way is north on your new planet?

Remembering the future

I own a rather large library of paperback SF which I have been collecting since the late 1960s; it includes a lot of stuff that is now quite rare and half forgotten. I owe a great deal to SF and consider these books cultural treasures, The last few years I’ve been wondering if there’s any… Continue reading Remembering the future

A tribute to Heinlein

A&D regular Ken Burnside has entered the Woot! derby, a contest to have a T-shirt design featured on that site. Ken’s entry is a tribute to Robert Heinlein. Yes, that’s Robert and Virginia Heinlein on the rocket. Yes, the rocket is based on the illustrations from Putnam and Son’s Heinlein juveniles The skyline in the… Continue reading A tribute to Heinlein


For any of you who happen to be in Southeast Michigan or its environs, Cathy and I will be attending Penguicon from April 30th to May 2nd. A&D regular Ken Burnside will be there as well, sharing a room with us and hawking his excellent 3D space games – Attack Vector: Tactical, Squadron Strike and… Continue reading Penguicon!

In search of: FTL taxonomy

I’ve been troping again. This time I found and repaired the TV Tropes page on Faster Than Light Travel. It had previously made a distinction between three subtypes of FTL drive: “jump”, “warp”, and “shortcut”. The “shortcut” category was confused and confusing, and I’ve renamed it to “portal” and fixed the definitions of both “portal”… Continue reading In search of: FTL taxonomy

Author of “The Genocides” commits suicide

Thomas Disch committed suicide on July 4th. I wouldn’t bother writing about this, except that offing himself was a perfect correspondence to what he tried to do to science fiction (the art form with which he was most associated).

Rudyard Kipling Invented SF!

Ever had a moment when somebody else drops an insight on you, and you feel totally stupid because you had all the facts and all the motivation to generate it yourself, it was about something you’re expert at, but you just…didn’t…see…it? And you should have, and you’re damn annoyed with yourself for missing it?

Hacking My Way To Stardom

This is storyboard art for a movie called Nightmask, with the interesting property that I will probably get a speaking part in it if it’s actually produced. “Whoa!” you may well ask. “How does a middle-aged geek with no showbiz history beyond a few singer/songwriter coffeehouse gigs in his college days land a part in,… Continue reading Hacking My Way To Stardom

The Revenge of the Nerds is Living Well

Grant McCracken has argued in his book Plenitude that one of the defining characteristics of the last fifty years is an explosion of subcultural variety — people creating new lifestyles and new identities around occupations, sexual tastes, hobbies, genres of art and music, religions, and just about any other investment of time human beings have… Continue reading The Revenge of the Nerds is Living Well

The Racist of Earthsea

In Slate magazine, SF author Ursula LeGuin complains that the producers of the new Earthsea miniseries have butchered her work. One form of butchery that she zeroes in on is by casting characters who she intended to be red, brown, or black as white people. I have mixed feelings. LeGuin has every right to be… Continue reading The Racist of Earthsea

Yee-ha! W00t! Excelsior!

I got email from Dr. Stanley Schmidt, the editor of Analog, about an hour ago. The bad news was, he turned down the short story. The good news was he accepted the fact article. I’m going to be published in Analog! /me does geeky victory dance OK, so this is one of those things where… Continue reading Yee-ha! W00t! Excelsior!

Great War II

Donald Sensing has suggested that it may have been a bad thing that the Allies won the First World War, and sketched an alternate history. Stephen Green has replied. Donald, I buy your scenario in the West (Germans go home, keeping Alsace-Lorraine) but I think Steve is right that your take on German war aims… Continue reading Great War II

Planets of Adventure

Bless Jim Baen, who at times seems determined to reprint the entire Golden Age midlist of SF. for he has given us a good thick anthology of some of the best stories of Murray Leinster — a writer once counted among science-fiction’s reliable best, but since unfairly forgotten. I come away from Planets of Adventure… Continue reading Planets of Adventure