Story Sale, and Some Space History

First things first: my story “Sensitive, Compartmented” is tentatively slated for the April/May 2012 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. I’m very happy about that, so it gets top billing on the blog.

For today’s space history tidbit: 40 years ago today — October 28, 1971 — Great Britain became the sixth nation to launch a satellite on its own rocket when a Black Arrow launch vehicle lifted the Prospero satellite out of the Woomera Test Range in Australia.

And speaking of Australia: the Australia party last night at World Fantasy Con seemed to go very well — a good crowd, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

And so it goes!

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Thanks Are in Order, So: Thanks, Whoever You Are

Imagine my surprise at learning that I now have a page of my own in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

(Image from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.)

The page lists all of my published stories to date, which is pretty cool.

The database is maintained by a rather large community of volunteers, so I have no idea who entered my information. As a result, I can only offer general (but genuine!) thanks to the kind person(s) responsible, and wish them — and you — only the very best.


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Summertime Shuttle

Twenty years ago today — August 2, 1991 — the Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying five astronauts and a new Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.

(Nice shot of an unnamed storm, taken from STS-43. NASA image.)

The mission STS-43 crew, John E. Blaha, Michael A. Baker, Shannon W. Lucid, G. David Low, and James C. Adamson, released TDRS-E the same day, but remained in orbit another week conducting a variety of experiments.


In other (non-space-history) news, yesterday my speechwriting teacher Joan Detz kindly blogged about my story in Analog. Thanks, Joan!

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Reviews, Good and … Less Good

My friends with more stories in print than I have many different perspectives on reviews. Some avoid anything that smacks of a review, others read every review and pay them greater or lesser amounts of heed, and some study the reviews — good or bad — to see what lessons they can learn from them to improve their craft.

I would like to take that final approach, but only time (and hopefully some future publications) will tell. But with that as an aim, at least, I’ve read a few reviews of “Therapeutic Mathematics and the Physics of Curve Balls,” my story in the September issue of Analog.

Most recently, Tangent Online‘s Sherry Decker posted a quite positive review:

Does Joey run after the scientist or return to the freak show and protect his only friends? It’s an agonizing choice.

This SF/F story takes place in the early 1940s, right about the time J. Robert Oppenheimer’s involvement in the Manhattan Project succeeded in changing the world forever. Who, other than Gray Rinehart ever imagined solving the final equation was due to the genius and youngest member of Fineas Ferguson’s Fabulous Freakshow on his one, lonely, stolen day?

Sensitive character creation, believable atmosphere, clever conclusion. Well done. I enjoyed it.

To balance the scale, the eminent Lois Tilton at Locus posted a neutral review a few weeks ago:

An interesting enough situation, but weak on resolution, offering one of those ambiguous endings that don’t quite tell us what the character has chosen and definitely not what will come of his choice. There are some rather tantalizing hints of WWII secrets, but nothing comes of them.

To some people that might come across as negative, but the fact that she thought the story situation was interesting and that I served up “tantalizing hints” of more is, to my way of thinking, pretty good.

Elsewhere on the web, SFRevu’s Sam Tomaino called the story “a nicely told tale with a good sense of the time in which it was taking place,” and British reviewer John Fairhurst said it was “a rather nice tale with the bleakness of Joey’s life in the show being counterpointed by flashbacks to his life with his father” and “eventually, an uplifting tale.”

All the reviews aren’t in, of course, and doubtless some readers will not have enjoyed the story at all. I’m pleased that anyone enjoyed it, but most especially that Dr. Schmidt enjoyed it enough to publish it!

This goes to show, I think, that every story is not for every reader. Still, I appreciate the work the reviewers do month in and month out — living deep in the slush pile as I do, I do NOT envy them their task — and I hope to use the comments, good or bad, to make my next stories even better.

And in the end I can always reflect on the fact that this issue had a FANTASTIC cover:

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Latest 'Honorable Mention'

Got an e-mail from the Writers of the Future folks a couple of days ago, with the news that I earned another “Honorable Mention” in the quarterly contest.

This brings my tally to 6 Honorable Mentions and 1 Semi-Finalist out of 13 total entries (including one sent in about a week ago).

Now to figure out where to send this little contemporary fantasy tale. And to start writing the next story.

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Read the First Part of My ANALOG Story

For the curious, the first part of my story, “Therapeutic Mathematics and the Physics of Curve Balls,” has been posted online at the Analog Science Fiction & Fact web site.

(Cover of the September 2011 issue.)

Scroll down about half-way on the front page for the start of the excerpt, which will probably only be active while the magazine is on sale … say, for another month or so. Or, if you prefer, here’s the direct link.

This still seems a bit surreal to me, but in a good way.

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Crossed Genres Quarterly (a shameless plug)

My short story “The Tower” is now available as part of the latest compilation from Crossed Genres.

(Crossed Genres Quarterly No. 2 cover art.)

“The Tower” is a swords-and-sorcery fantasy story, though much more swords than sorcery.

You can buy a copy of Crossed Genres Quarterly No. 2 in either electronic format ($2.99) or in hard copy ($11.95). Bear in mind that this is a compilation of three issues of the Crossed Genres online magazine, plus three extra stories … one of which is mine.

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Surveyor-1 and Mariner-9: to the Moon and Mars

Forty-five years ago today — May 30, 1966 — Surveyor-1 launched from Cape Canaveral on an Atlas-Centaur rocket.

(Surveyor-1. NASA image.)

Surveyor-1 was the first U.S. mission to make a soft landing on the Moon. The Surveyor program consisted of seven robotic lunar missions, designed to prove out capabilities and technologies for the Apollo lunar landings.

(As an aside: in my yet-unpubished novel, Walking on the Sea of Clouds, a team of colonists make their way south on an “ice run” and the main character takes a moment to reflect that only a slight detour would take them by the Surveyor landing site.)

In our other space history item for the day, 5 years later — on May 30, 1971 — the Mariner-9 mission to Mars launched, also on an Atlas-Centaur rocket from Cape Canaveral.

Taking advantage of favorable timing and a “direct ascent trajectory,” Mariner-9 sped past the Soviet Union’s Mars-2 and Mars-3 missions to arrive at Mars after only 167 days. On November 14, 1971, Mariner-9 become the first spacecraft in orbit around another planet.

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The Genre Chick Interviews the Gray Man

My friend Alethea Kontis has been running a series of interviews this month, and graciously included me in her coterie of interview subjects. Alethea it was who, upon hearing that I would be reading slush for Baen Books, suggested that rather than “slushmaster” my unofficial title should be “Slushmaster General.”

One click will take you to Genre Chick Interview: Gray Rinehart. Hope you enjoy it!

Many thanks, Princess Alethea!

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The Fall of Mir

Ten years ago today — March 23, 2001 — the Mir space station fell to Earth.

(Mir, as seen from the Shuttle Atlantis on STS-71. NASA image.)

The first components of Mir were launched in February 1986, as I noted in this space history blog entry. The station remained in orbit three times longer than its design life of 5 years.

After more than 86,000 total orbits, Mir re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on Friday, March 23, 2001, at 9 a.m. Moscow time. The 134-ton space structure broke up over the southern Pacific Ocean. Some of its larger pieces blazed harmlessly into the sea, about 1,800 miles east of New Zealand. Observers in Fiji reported spectacular gold- and white-streaming lights. An amazing saga and a highly successful program finally had come to a watery end.

Now, as the main character in my first published short story* lamented, Mir and its predecessors are “rusting homes to fish instead of men.”

*To complete the shameless plug, you can add “The Rocket Seamstress” to your own made-to-order anthology of short stories on the Anthology Builder site.

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