Harry Harrison …

… has passed away. A sad day.

The Stainless Steel Rat series had a huge impact on me (and my writing — probably one of the most potent influences I’ve had so far) … In my world, Harry Harrison will always be one of the Greats. Rest in peace, sir, and thank you.

Because I’m a Geek…

… and have nobody to call up to totally gush along with, I went to twitter and checked out other people gushing. Hey ya!

But there were some memorable tweets… So, here’s my favorite so far:

— From now on, when anyone tells you anything is impossible, just point to Mars and say “Skycrane. Your argument is invalid.” (SpaceUp)

And the runner-up:

— The nerds just took Gold in the 560 billion metres. (Eugene Byrne)

And on a more serious note:

— Today was a day about the worst we have to offer, and tonight was a night featuring the best of us. That’s why we do this. (Joshua Lyman)

In other news, about the first press conference … can the NASA guy shut up about politics and give the team the word, please?

Oh, and “mohawk guy” (Bobak Ferdowsi), is apparently going viral.

Wheels Down on Mars!

Curiosity has landed, and has just sent back its first images!

Outstanding job, guys! Outstanding!

“This is amazing.” — way to understate things, Allen Chen!

(not that “outstanding” isn’t an understatement either)

Congratulations!

Let the journey begin!

Endangered Languages Project

I’m not a linguist, but I’ve always had a mild fascination with languages. I don’t know many, and my memory’s too bad to retain any I don’t use regularly. But I’ve picked up bits and pieces from a bunch and still occasionally go on a kick to pick up bits and pieces from yet another new obscure one. Plus, I have used two very different languages for fiction, which I believe is a sign I have a good enough handle of these two languages to go beyond using them for rudimentary communication. (and I’ve also created my own two separate writing “systems” and one “language” I’ve so far populated with about twenty or so grammar rules and several hundred words, that I fairly proud of)

So, needless to say, when I stumbled onto this website, it struck a chord with me. I don’t know if I will (and how I can) get involved, but I’ll definitely be on the cheerleading squad for it!

Internet Coolity!

Big fan of Matthew Woodring Stover and his Acts of Caine books. And some really cool folk have teamed up with Matt to make a comic based on early Caine adventures in Overworld.

If you like Matt’s work, please back the OverWorld.tv Project on KickStarter! Or if you’ve never read the books, but you’re feeling generous, go back it! Or if you think there hasn’t been anything good coming out in the creative world of fiction and comics and want to contribute to change that, go back it! Or if you just wanna be awesome, yes, you got it — go back it!

Here’s the link:  Matthew Stover’s OverWorld at Kickstarter.

Go! Back the OverWorld.tv project! Make the world a better place!

They Were The First … And They Are Back!

As it might be evident from previous posts, I grew up a metalhead, and I’m still, quite vividly, a fan.

It all started sometime back in the mid-eighties, when my brother brought home an Accept album (bootleg copy, of course, but there were no other kinds behind the Iron Curtain at the time). We listened to that thing day and night. Others came later, of course. Manowar, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Helloween, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc. etc… Eventually, my brother went to serve in the military, and then off to college, and I kept growing the collection, venturing off into all other types of metal and rock flavors.

But nothing would ever replace what in my mind is the first – and the best. Accept’s powerful sound will remain the soundtrack of my childhood (and many of my favorite books and a few of my own stories).

And on Tuesday, Oct.19, 2010, quarter of a century after they became an integral part of my life, I finally heard Accept play live!

They did not disappoint.

The show couldn’t have been more perfect. A small club concert, the experience was nearly intimate, as every first encounter with a childhood favorite ought to be. The energy of the band was astounding, and the sound was perfect. Even without Udo’s unique vocals, every old song sounded exactly as it should — loud, powerful, and loaded with zeal and raw emotion. And the new songs nearly overpowered the old, which I’d have thought impossible. Finally, spending the whole concert a mere meter or two from the stage, I was able to see the band throughout the show from up close — and, whether it was excellent showmanship or their honest experience, each of the band members appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely. And, at least to me, this was the ultimate treat of the night – to share not only the music, but the joy of the experience, with other fans, and the guys from the band alike.

What a show!

And the band members themselves ended up being exceptionally cool dudes.

When we got the tickets, I wasn’t sure exactly what we were getting (there was no description, just a price difference). They weren’t general admission tickets, but from a brief search on other shows at this venue, I’d gotten the impression that the “perk” was going to be a reserved area on the floor. Never having been to this venue before (the Key Club in LA), I decided it was worth it.

Well, it turned out there was no “reserved” area. But, we were let inside the club first, which was pretty cool, considering it was raining. Then, we got directed to an area with merchandise, which was pretty cool too, especially since this was a last show and they were nearly out of everything. Then, we got pointed to a smaller room off to the side… To walk inside and see the band members themselves!!

So, I guess the tickets included a pre-show meet and greet. =)

For which neither my brother nor I were prepared, mentally or otherwise (worst of all, we didn’t bring a camera, and my cellphone’s camera is fine in well-lit areas, but is crap otherwise — it would have been nice to be able to take a photo or two and to avoid a slightly embarrassing moment). Still, it was pretty awesome meeting and talking to the guys (even if I ended up spiraling down into nervous chatter syndrome with one of them and was way too nervous to respond appropriately to a joke another of them made, which made me look like an idiot — but, hell, in this case, who cares, right?! Dude, I met the guys from ACCEPT!!!).

So, an exceptional show, and altogether, an incredible night!

Kudos to the guys from Accept, for officially getting the band together after all these years, for playing shows and recording new music again, and especially for returning to the U.S. and giving us the opportunity to experience their raw talent and energy live!

[From “Nothing Much — And Then Even Less”] The Fighting Thirteen

I’ve just returned from the Viable Paradise XIII workshop — and, wow, what an experience!

I wasn’t certain what to expect, so I was hopeful, but prepared to find it a waste of time and money. So, I was very happy when I found my hopes fulfilled and my preparations unjustified.

Viable Paradise is an intensive week of critiques, lectures, collegiums, writing, and interaction with other aspiring and established authors and editors (and some mandatory fun). It was exhausting. It was very hard on the ego. But it was also very insightful, fulfilling, and, boy, were there some really excellent folk there, both on the student and on the instructor/staff sides!

I originally intended to write a detailed report of the week, but I’ve decided against it. (As they say, what happens on the island, stays on the island). So, that’s that.