Tag Archives: Rush

Rob’s Update: Birthday Festivities

Week 29 of 2019

Greetings all

First, the nomination period for the Dragon Awards ends tonight. Please nominate and then vote. You can do that here: http://application.dragoncon.org/dc_fan_awards_nominations.php. I obviously would love it if you voted for The Feeding of Sorrows, but more than anything I want to get people involved.

Second, since my birthday was Tuesday, I’m having a week of sales.

A Lake Most Deep: Free until the end of day tomorrow. It’s here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WYIU6OG/

The Eyes of a Doll: $2.99 for another couple of days. It’s here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018MVZFP8/

And Where Now the Rider: $2.99 for another couple of days. It’s here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071462WXM/

I’ve rewarded myself with work in the shop, though I haven’t done a ton with None Call Me Mother. Ran into another snag that I’ve spent the week clearing up.

And that’s what I’m working on this weekend as I’m mostly packed for Pennsic.

Current Playlist Song

Rush’s The Weapon. The things that we fear are weapons to be used against us.

Quote of the Week

There’s only one possible choice for a quote this week.

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
– Neil Armstrong

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (approx. 50,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on

Today’s Weight: 383.8

Updated Word Count: 160,781

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
Short Stories

 

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: The Dust is Clearing

Week 27 of 2019

Greetings all

It’s the Saturday of Hypericon. Tomorrow, I will head home, and I’m ready to be back in my bed. These long trips are efficient, but can be very draining.

So far, Hypericon has been very laid back. A complete contrast to LibertyCon. Of course, I have much less planned here. I also know quite a few less people.

I have an interesting panel coming up at 1, though. Building a Better Monster. I like that idea quite a bit and will probably suggest it in the future. Then I’ll do my take things from one media to another panel at 8. Tomorrow, I have one more, about characters that should be brought back. Then we hit the road.

I need to start remembering just how draining LibertyCon is. It’s amazing and wonderful, but I have been dragging all week. Next year, I may have to plan on this week being a mini-vacation, though it’ll be on the road again, I think.

I have been writing a bit, but not much. Mostly, I’ve been reviewing where I was, which means editing. Not much word change but I’m prepping to hit the ground running on Monday and Tuesday.

Time for me to get back to that.

Current Playlist Song

By-Tor and the Snow Dog from Rush in Rio. Fun song, and maybe one day I’ll write it in story form.

Quote of the Week

Today is John Paul Jones’s birthday. Today’s quote isn’t his most famous, but it’s perhaps my favorite by him.

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.”
– John Paul Jones

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (approx. 55,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Those in Peril. I’m getting happier and happier with my contribution to To Slip the Surly Bonds, which is in the process of editing. “In Dark’ning Storms” follows the events of “Far Better to Dare,” plus there are a number of other follow-up stories in the second volume that you’ll get more out of if you’ve read the first one.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 158,282

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
Short Stories

 

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: One Little Victory

Week 25 of 2019

Greetings all

Well, so it’s been more like the monthly update recently. I apologize, there’s just been so much going on.

The biggest news is The Feeding of Sorrows, my first full length novel in the Four Horsemen Universe, came out last Friday. It got up to number 3 in new releases in Action and Adventure and it’s still at number 4. To say I’m pleased is a huge understatement. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07T3B8BGB/.

To Slip the Surly Bonds Cover
To Slip the Surly Bonds Cover

Also released since my last update (sheesh, I’m so easily distracted), is We Dare, a collection stories of augmented humanity. My story in there is called “The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms.” If you get the reference, you’ll have some clue how it goes down, but more than anything I was influenced by the Finnsburh Fragment and Episode, two bits of Old English poetry. Also, I had a chance to pay an homage to Dick Francis, and I took it. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SK6WKM1/.

I’m currently working on “In Darkening Storms,” the follow up to “Far Better to Dare” from Those in Peril. The new anthology will be called To Slip the Surly Bonds. For those of you reading this message, if you go to my blog, you can see the cover art there.

If you’re wondering about None Call Me Mother, I was just too ambitious. The new date to get it to the editor is the end of July with the hope to have it published in September. Thank you for your patience.

I was at Lilies War last week. I had a great time, did way too much, sold some stuff, and came home with a number of projects for Pennsic. The good news is right now I’m looking as ready for Pennsic as I have ever been and I don’t leave for five weeks.

Next week I head to LibertyCon. This year my mom gets to join me. I will, of course, be very busy there, thanks to the hard work of Rich Groller. You can find my schedule here: http://www.libertycon.org/programming/pros3.php?pid=326.

After LibertyCon, I’ll be at Hypericon in Nashville. This will be my first time there, but I’m looking forward to it. After all, if Terry Maggert is the Guest of Honor, things have to be whimsical.

While I have more to chat about, that’s probably enough. That’s what I get for not sending out a weekly message. Next message will come from the Marriott in Chattanooga.

See you all out and about.

Current Playlist Song

Rush’s One Little Victory. This always reminds me of the final show of the Vapor Trails tour. They played this song to open the second set, and it was a reminder of all the challenges Rush had gone through the previous five years, especially Neil.

At one point, simply picking up drumsticks was a little victory for him, and yet at that moment he had managed to not only record a new album with Alex and Geddy, he had made it through an entire tour.

It was, and is, one of the most emotional moments of life.

Quote of the Week

Might as well quote from the song, too.

The measure of the moment
Is a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free
One little victory
The greatest act can be
One little victory

-Rush, One Little Victory

News and Works in Progress

  • IDS (5,483)
  • None Call Me Mother (Approx. 60,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • I need to get back to doing my interviews and mag reviews.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on The Feeding of Sorrows, of which I’m very proud.

Today’s Weight: 383.8

Updated Word Count: 147,777 (I actually updated this)

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: That Dark Night

Week 19 of 2019

Greetings all

Last week, I mentioned sad tidings of a friend going into hospice. Tim Bolgeo passed on Sunday and if you didn’t get the chance to meet Uncle Timmy, you have my condolences. He was a fascinating guy to talk to. He knew a ton about a number of topics, both of science and science fiction, especially the things turning from fiction to fact. He founded LibertyCon, was heavily involved with a number of other conventions, and in short was someone who helped science fiction and fantasy grow.

He was also very helpful to new writers. If you look at the stories about him, you’ll find, time and again, a writer remembering how Timmy helped them. I’m one of those. He was great at seeing good networking connections and making them happen. I said this on Sunday, but it bears repeating. He’ll have a share of the success I achieve in this field.

Thanks Uncle Timmy, we’ll catch you on the flip side.

I couldn’t be at his memorial yesterday, as it was in Chattanooga, but I remembered him this week by wearing LibertyCon shirt after LibertyCon shirt and writing a ton. The main total of None Call Me Mother will only show 14,000 or so words added, but there are a bunch more as I started a separate thread to input to the main document this week. I figured out the vast majority of the threads and it’s coming along nicely.

This week we had the stepdaughter visit and I took her to a Royals-Rangers game. Of course I picked the one game of the series the Royals won. Ah, well. It was good to go as I haven’t been to a MLB game in quite some time.

A couple of event notes. You might have noticed that I added a couple of events last week. First is Lilies, and I’ll be there the whole week, so come on by. Also added is HyperiCon in Nashville, where I’ll follow on the incomparable Terry Maggert’s coattails.

Current Playlist Song

In Xanadu did Kublai Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree.

In Massey Hall did Geddy Lee, a stately pleasure dome did sing

I love this song, by the way. In grade school, I was the kid who loved it when we got to Coleridge because if he was good enough for Rush to sing about Xanadu and Iron Maiden to do a version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, then he was good enough for me.

Quote of the Week

Might as well have a baseball quote. This one is a great one for a new writer.

“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!”
– Babe Ruth

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (41,454)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • I just wrote. I’ll do the same next week.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on my sweetie, who’s having to suffer through me hammering through this novel.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: It feels like a zillion

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 543 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Off and Running

Week 18 of 2019

Greetings all

I’m off and running on None Call Me Mother. I only have 14,291 words in the main file, but I have quite a few notes yet to add. Still aiming for the end of the month.

Writing this one is kind of odd for me because I basically devised the plan for each of the main characters while working on Brief Is My Flame. I don’t usually plot that far ahead, but I kind of needed to do so while writing it.

That means the pace of writing has been pretty good. However, it also means I have mornings like today where I’m standing in the shower realizing I could have put more clues in both the first two in the series that would really kick up the ending a notch. It would also provide more fun for those, like me, who enjoy re-reading things.

None Call Me Mother is my main focus right now, of course. However, I’ve been playing around in the back of my head the story I’ll write for the second in the Phases of Mars anthologies. The first was Those In Peril, which came out in February and focused on alternate naval history. The new one is focused up in the air, and I have a story idea that will be fun, but I need to make it work with the technology of the era. Not sure yet how I’m going to play with it, but Phil Wohlrab really got me thinking about things in a conversation at FantaSci.

Speaking of short stories, I ended up calling the one for the We Dare anthology “The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms.” The other title was good, but this one is much better for a number of reasons. You’ll see why when you read it.

With that, it’s off to celebrate Mother’s Day a bit early.

Current Playlist Song

Vapor Trails by Rush. I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated an album quite as much as this one. It was 2003. Rush had not made any music for years because of Neil’s tragedies. We never really knew if they would make any more. Then the rumors came out that Neil had started to play again. And they were in the studio. And then that they would release Vapor Trails. It’s title track is wonderful, but just one of many great songs on it.

Quote of the Week

It’s May 4th. What else would today’s quote be?

“May the Force be with you.”
Star Wars

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (14,291)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Robert J. Waters. You can find his interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1705

Today’s Weight: 388.0

Updated Word Count: I really need to tabulate this, but it’s got to be around 140k.

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 543 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Warp and Weft

Week 43 of 2018

Greetings all

Lots of catching up to do. I realized this weekend that I my office had gotten cluttered and I did a bunch of cleaning up and arranging. This included a bunch of unpacking (still).

I’ve been fighting The Feeding of Sorrows. I have put a bunch of words on the page, and then cut them out. This seems normal anymore, though, since i seem to reach this point with every novel. Just gotta keep fighting through.

I’ve had a lot of fun with #FourHorsetober, but I’ll be glad when it’s done. Doing one interview is easy. Doing one a day gets challenging, especially when you’re juggling other stuff.

Still, I’m really excited about the release of Luck Is Not a Factor. That’s a fun story that I hope you all enjoy.

Well, I have to take the sweetie to dinner. She’s been working on new weaving techniques this weekend and she has lots to tell me.

Current Playlist Song

The Pass by Rush. It has one of the most powerful lyrics I’ve ever heard, which you’ll find in right below in the Quote of the Week.

Quote of the Week

No hero in your tragedy
No daring in your escape
No salutes for your surrender
Nothing noble in your fate
– Rush The Pass, Presto

News and Works in Progress

  • RTM (3,416)
  • The Feeding of Sorrows (approx. 20,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

One more full week of #FourHorsetober, so take a look at all the interviews above.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 228,712

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 443 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Interview: Jon Osborne

Jon Osborne is currently editing his draft of When the Axe Falls, his next Four Horsemen novel. You’ll want to read it when it comes out, because I’ve enjoyed his other stuff. He’s also a fun guy to stand next to at a con.

Interview: Jon Osborne
Jon Osborne
Jon Osborne

What is your quest?

I run cinematic games, relying heavily on ‘theater of the mind’, seeking to tell a fun and immersive story. When I write, I try to bring the readers into the world – I want them to see the action and hear the characters’ voices – and have fun along the way.

What is your favorite color?

As my stories are character-centered. I like for characters to have distinctive traits. I feel it not only makes the story more immersive, it helps the readers readily identify and keep track of the characters.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

My biggest challenge is focus – it is hard to banish the squirrels and be more productive. I admit, I am a little envious of the output of some of my fellow authors. (Rob’s Note: Me too, brother. me too.)

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I think character interaction is my strength. The relationships between my characters are organic – I want them to feel like real people.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy
  • Favorite Sports Team? Colts
  • Cake or Pie? Pie
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Chipotle Hot Salsa
  • Wet or Dry? Huh?
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Patty Gurdy
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whisky
  • Favorite Superhero? Wolverine
  • Steak Temperature? Medium
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Favorite Pet?  (provide pictures if you want) I don’t have one
  • Best Game Ever? D&D
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Yes

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

Do you find it as hard to write about yourself as some authors (myself included) find it?

Rob’s Answer: Depends on the question. If we’re talking about my philosophies, not really. I like good philosophical discussions. I can also talk about things I’m fanatic about, like Rush or the Dallas Cowboys or Firefly.

But there’s a lot of questions I ask that I’ll struggle with when I do my own one of these. Also, some of the questions other authors ask me are really tough. I’m awful at tooting my own horn, so much so that it hurts my sales dramatically. It’s something I need to work on, actually.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

And where can we find you?

DragonCon 2018 is the last con for a bit.

Do you have a creator biography?

Jon R. Osborne has been gaming since he was thirteen. He studied journalism in high school and majored in journalism in college. Many years later, he finally combined writing and story-telling with his first published work, a short story in the military science fiction Four Horsemen Universe.

A year later, Jon has had a second story published, as well as two novels in his urban fantasy series, The Milesian Accords. The second book, A Tempered Warrior, is a Dragon Awards finalist for Best Fantasy Novel.

Jon lives in Indianapolis, where he continues to play role-playing games, and is working on the third book of The Milesian Accords as well a novel in the Four Horsemen Universe. You can find out more at jonrosborne.com.


Thanks to Jon for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Eric S. Brown (Rerun)

Greetings all

This week I’m interviewing Eric S. Brown who is, among other things, one of the many writers like myself writing in the Four Horsemen Universe. He’s also written a bunch of horror, military science fiction, and kaiju stuff.

And when I say a bunch, I mean it. Take a look at his Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Eric S. Brown/e/B004G6XP7E/. You’ll find twelve pages of books there.

Eric, what is your quest?

I am a professional horror and SF writer.  I’m also a collector of all things comics and SF.  David Drake is my hero.  I learned how to write by reading his work when I was younger.  One could blame my whole career on Dave.

What is your favorite color?

I like the color green.  I also like to scare people with words.  I’ve been writing horror for about 17 years now.  I write the type of stories I want to see as a fan.  That’s how my book Bigfoot War came about.  I had been writing zombie stuff for a long time and even did a Z novel for Simon and Schuster (War of the Worlds Plus Blood Guts and Zombies).  I was burnt out on zombies and really wanted to do something different.  Bigfoot War is that.  It makes Sasquatch truly frightening beasts and unleashes hordes of them upon the world.  Bigfoot War (Bigfoot Wars on IMDB) was adapted into a feature film by Origin Releasing with C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders) and Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club).  While the paycheck was nice, I really didn’t care for the movie and it didn’t have a lot to do with my then series of Bigfoot War books.

Eric S. Brown
Eric S. Brown

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I like to think that the books I write are FUN above all else.  From Bigfoot War to Kaiju Apocalypse to Casper Alamo (set in Chris Kennedy’s Four Horsemen Universe) my books are about guns and monsters with loads of action and more than a little gore.  I have a Mech/Psionics/Vampires book coming out later this year entitled Psi-Mechs Inc.  I am biased but I think it’s the best thing I have ever written.  It’s about mech pilots and psychics who hunt monsters.

Lightning Round (answer any or all, be as verbose and whimsical as you wish)

Casper Alamo cover
Casper Alamo cover
  • Favorite Muppet? The Shrimp guy.
  • Favorite Sports Team?  I don’t do sports so I am going with The Micronauts on this one.
  • Cake or Pie?  Cake
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip?    Don’t have one.
  • Wet or Dry? Wet.  Always wet.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?   Sorry but to me music consists of Rush, more Rush, and a little more Rush. (ed. note: I knew I liked him for a reason)
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Don’t drink.
  • Favorite Superhero? Wonder Woman for DC and Daredevil for Marvel.
  • Steak Temperature? Well Done. (ed. note: Sigh)
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall.
  • Favorite Pet?  (provide pictures if you want) I love cats.  The favorite cat of my life was Howard, named after Lovecraft.  I had him for seven years but he passed from health issues.
  • Best Game Ever? I don’t really game so I will go with 2nd edition D&D from back in the day.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee!!
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci-Fi all the way.

What question(s) would you like to ask me? 

How did you get into interviewing people?

My answer: I had been interviewed by other people, and I wanted some more content on my blog. Also, it turns out that perhaps the most time-consuming aspect of writing my weekly email is finding someone to spotlight. This way, I don’t have to worry about it.

Do you love the rebooted BSG as every right thinking SF person should?

My answer: Oddly no, mostly because I haven’t actually seen it. Much like Eric, I loved the original and I found it hard to give it a chance. Also, I don’t watch many TV shows. Usually, my personal preference is something to do with sports.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

The Squad cover
The Squad cover

And Where can we find you?

I try to attend Liberty con every year.  Aside from that, I am a very stay at home sort of writer.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? 

My newest release is The Squad.  It’s a Bigfoot horror book set in the south.  Other books I have had released this year as Casper Alamo, Day of the Sasquatch, Bigfoot, and a dark fantasy, Lovecraftian Roman novel entitled Beyond Night.


Thanks to Eric for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell


 

Rob’s Update: A Single Perfect Sphere

Week 39 of 2018

Greetings all

The good news is that I reached my 50th birthday this summer. The bad news is that reaching 50 comes with some new, fun routine medical stuff. One of those things happened this week. I had an unpleasant Tuesday, a worse Wednesday morning, and a stoned Wednesday afternoon. Suffice to say, while I’m glad I did it, I didn’t enjoy it despite the doctors and nurses doing a great job taking care of me.

That slowed me down this week, but I still had a productive week. I sent off a short story to an editor this morning. I *think* it’s pretty good. The story certainly jumped into my head and demanded to be written. However, I never know if a story is any good until someone else sees it. Now all I have to do is wait until the editor reads it and gives me some feedback. Argh.

Anyway, I didn’t do much with The Feeding of Sorrows this week because I wanted to get that story out of the door. What I did do was add some scene ideas. I discovered that while I’ll never plot huge details, I am having some success scribbling scene/chapter ideas on 3×5 cards. I used a similar technique when heralding an SCA court and I’ve already seen some benefits.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a writer it’s that there’s one true way of writing and that’s what gets words on the page. Unfortunately, that one true way is not necessarily obvious and I keep trying to improve my methods. Keep plugging away.

Speaking of plugging away, Tales from the Lyon’s Den was released today. I’m not in it.

However, I’m in the second of these two anthologies, which will be called Luck Is Not a Factor, which is coming out in about a month. The Four Horsemen Universe is huge, and I’m glad I get to play in that sandbox.

I head down to the Great Plains Renaissance Festival in Wichita today. I’ll be in the Author’s Pavilion, so if you’re out there, come on by.

Have a great week, everyone.

Current Playlist Song

The Trees by Rush. Lots of listening to Rush lately. Shocking, I know.

Quote of the Week

I mentioned it yesterday in my Magazine Review this week, but it’s such a good quote I’m going to use it again.

“Let the truth of Love be lighted
Let the love of truth shine clear
Sensibility
Armed with sense and liberty
With the Heart and Mind united
In a single perfect sphere”
Cygnus X-1, Book 2: Hemispheres, Rush

News and Works in Progress

  • The Feeding of Sorrows (approx. 20,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Wes Yahola. You can find his interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1418

Today’s Weight: 380.8

Updated Word Count: 203,126

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 417 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Mag Review: If (June, 1957)

Greetings all

This week I’m reviewing the If (Volume 7, No. 4) from June, 1957. I guessed I was going to like this one, given that it has an Asimov and a Biggle, but if I had any doubt, the rocket rotorship Mars lander by Mel Hunter that’s on the cover with the diagram on the inside front cover.

Mars Rocket Rotorship
Mars Rocket Rotorship

Table of Contents: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?58771

This issue starts with the Editor’s Report by James L. Quinn. It’s a bunch of short, interesting things he’s found in the previous month. He had a good eye and in this day and age he would probably be a well-followed blogger.

In this case, much of what he included relates to this issue of If, including small biographies of a couple authors in the issue. I wish more editors had done this, actually, as it’s quite interesting to see what the editor thought at the moment, especially before I read the stories.

He also talked about the Industrial Bulletin, which was a small sheet of interesting, fact-filled information. 1957 Clickbait! I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, and now I’m putting A Scientific Sampler, which has the best predictions, facts, and notes in my Amazon wishlist.

And if you need help with math you can get the IBM 709. The stats are amazing. 42,000 additions or subtractions per second. Multiplication and division at 5,000 per second. 327,000 decimal digits can be stored in it’s magnetic core, and any word in the core can be found in 12 millionths of a second. And then the piece de resistance, “You can get a typical system for about $3,000,000, or rent one for $56,000 per month! (p. 3)”

If (June, 1957) Cover
If (June, 1957) Cover

So, I suppose I should actually talk about the stories in this issue. First is Pretty Quadroon by Charles Fontenay. It’s a fascinating story about a number of different timelines related to whether there’s a second Civil War. Basically, if Beauregard Courtney meets and loves Piquette, then there will be a second war of varying results. In one, the South wins, in another the North wins, in a third the Russians nuke New York and other cities. If he doesn’t meet her, the second war does not happen.

This story is both well-written and fascinating, given that it’s written by a Tennessee man during the beginning of integration in the south. Not only that, it has the backdrop of the Cold War and fears of nuclear war. The story is thoughtful, challenging, and yet smooth to read. It is no wonder it was republished in Jim Baen’s Universe of October, 2008.

Walter Tevis is next with Operation Gold Brick and wow, what a fascinating find! Tevis is the author of The Hustler and The Color of Money. His other novel that got turned into a movie was The Man Who Fell to Earth, which starred David Bowie.

The story is a fun one about the US Army trying to build a tunnel through the Appalachians for a monorail track. They have a converter which easily cuts through the stone and creates a perfect tunnel, but suddenly it stops, having hit on a large gold brick. They try a pick, otherwise known as a manual converter, but that doesn’t work.

Then the  Army tries a variety of increasingly absurd ideas. They convert the *entire* mountain, but all they manage to do is end up with a gold brick sitting in the air about four feet off the ground. A physicist comes in and says this is the point, the fulcrum point, of Earth’s orbit. Ultimately, with a super bomb, they manage to move it, which sends the Earth on an orbit which will fall into the sun.

As a side note, this is message fiction done right. The story is humorous, catchy, and the reader keeps wanting to know more. In some ways it is a short story version of Dr. Strangelove. This story makes me wonder if Peter George, who wrote Red Alert, the basis of Dr. Strangelove, had read it, because it has the same sort of humor and message.

Next is an essay by Robert S. Richardson entitled the Face of Mars. You might have read his science fiction under the name Philip Latham. This essay talks about telescope images he worked with when Mars approached very close to the Earth in 1956. Reading the science articles in these magazines is odd to me.

I am no scientist, though I’ve read quite a bit about various scientific topics (and more now that I’m a writer, shout-out to my monitors at the FBI and NSA). However, I am standing on the shoulders of giants. I know more about Mars than Richardson did, yet he was widely recognized as an expert. He even helped as a technical assistant for Destination Moon. It’s a weird thought that’s hard to avoid as he’s describing specific aspects of astronomy and it all seems fairly basic. Amazing what’s transpired in 62 years.

Aldo Giunta’s Jingle in the Jungle is the next story. I had never heard of Giunta before, and it’s no surprise. This is the only speculative fiction he ever published. He was a playwright and a cabinet maker, as you can see from the linked obituary.

This story is about a future where boxing is much like it was in the 1930s, especially with all the corruption and fixing, except with robots.

This was another great story. A trainer, Charlie Jingle, has been working with an old boxing robot, Tanker Bell, for fourteen years. It’s way out of date and they can hardly get any fights. Then they stumble into a fight and beat the contender robot made by the shiny, big fighting-robot corporation.

But it’s a fix. It’s all a fix. The goal is to build up an outsider and suggest it has a chance. Then the champ wins big and looks even better and better. But Charlie has another idea and he tricks the Tanker into thinking he hasn’t got a chance and gets the robot mad and tricky. Ultimately Tanker Bell wins, and it is only then that he realizes his trainer has tricked him and gotten him to fight better than his best. Rocky before Rocky and with robots.

Isaac Asimov is one of my favorite writers. The Foundation and Hari Seldon shaped a style of magic in my world of Shijuren. Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw helped convince me hardboiled detectives can work in any time period. His entry in this issue shows why.

This issue’s entry is Does a Bee CareIf you click on the title links of most stories, you’ll find that the links almost always go to the bare ISFDB page. There’s rarely much on those pages, and I link to them as much to highlight the title as I do to give you places to find more information. In this case, though, the story is so powerful that it has its own Wikipedia page.

The story goes like this. An ovum was placed on Earth. The ovum grew to a creature that looked like it was human, though it was not. For 8,000 years it influenced civilization to help humanity achieve spaceflight. In the story, it has ensured that in one of the first rockets to the moon there’s space enough for it to fit inside. When the rocket reaches space the creature achieves full maturity. It is, finally, able to return to its home.

The twist is that while we see the creature manipulating things, Asimov guides us along the path of focusing on its point of view. Then at the end, asks if the bee cares what has happened to the flower after it has gotten the pollen. What a neat take on things.

Lloyd Biggle, Jr. is next with …On the Dotted Line. The story is about a car salesman getting transported to the year 2337. He’s a great salesman, but in 2337 salesmen are hypnotists, and all he’s got is psychology.

But that’s what he is, a salesman and he’s got to figure out how to make his way. Fortunately for him, after a couple of years the hypnotists are discovered and Congress passes laws outlawing hypnotism in sales. This is the salesman’s chance.

And he does pretty well, for a time. However, with his sales comes publicity, and after people have seen his pitch, they don’t buy and he loses his sales job. He’s a smart man and he succeeds in the field of space mining. He finally, however, figures out how to sell one more thing, essentially the moon Callisto, and retires, confident in his ability. At the end, though, the compulsion is still there, and he’s looking about for something else to sell.

It’s a good story, which doesn’t surprise me. Biggles had a neat way of looking at things, I’ve found, and this is an example. He made a *salesman* into a sympathetic figure.

Dan Galouye is another new writer to me. His story here is Shuffle Board. This is the first average story in this issue. Earth in a century or so will be filled with various radioactive waste. The main character is tasked with preventing the radioactivity from contaminating as much as possible. In the end, the increased radioactivity changes humanity so we’re not as susceptible to its affects.

I think this story didn’t catch me because it seemed a little obvious to me, but that’s in part because of my perspective in 2018 as opposed to 1957. I sort of expect humanity to adjust, if needed. More importantly, I felt the underlying causes see farfetched now. This is unfortunate, because the story is well-written. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Galouye, and maybe the twist at the end will surprise me.

As a side note. Dear Editor of any magazine, please avoid, “Continued on page X” for any story, especially for the last 3 paragraphs. Ah, well.

Anyway, the next story is called The Human Element by Leo Kelley. It’s a fun story that connected to me because our protagonist hearkens back to an earlier time. Unfortunately, in his era, living in the past would get you sent to the Psych center.

If (June, 1957) Science Quiz
If (June, 1957) Science Quiz

However, our hero has expressed his rebellion by putting on a clown suit and running onto stage in a modern day circus. The circus is nothing like we would think, and no one there had seen a clown before. He’s a hit, and the circus owners hire him. In many ways, this story is nothing but the cotton candy the hero reminisces about. But I am someone who lives in the past quite often, and I do wonder about today’s society.

Next is a fun little game, a science quiz. I’ve included the image. Have fun.

Then we have a series of science briefs. More little notes and tidbits from science. The most interesting one to me was the idea that we’d have nuclear-powered aircraft in the early 1960s.

Finally, we get to Hue and Cry, the letters to the editor. I always enjoy reading these, and this one had several focused on the idea of humanity and humanism as discussed in a previous If. Oddly, as I type this, I happen to be listening to the album Hemispheres by Rush. The title song is about humanity’s challenge to balance thought and emotion, which apparently the earlier If issue talked about. Odd timing, there.

But it’s an excuse to include this wonderful Rush quote:

“Let the truth of Love be lighted
Let the love of truth shine clear
Sensibility
Armed with sense and liberty
With the Heart and Mind united
In a single perfect sphere”
Cygnus X-1, Book 2: Hemispheres, Rush

Overall, this was one of the better magazines I’ve seen so far. It didn’t sell well, though, and is one of the shorter-lived SF mags of the time. It’s a shame, though, because I’m looking forward to reading more of them.

Next week I’ll be reviewing the most modern issue I’ve read so far, the Fantastic from March, 1974. This issue’s cover story is by Brian Aldiss and Fritz Lieber reviews some books. Good stuff to look forward to.

Have a great day, everyone.


If you have any comments or would like to request I keep my eyes open for a specific issue or month, feel free to comment here or send an email to me at: rob@robhowell.org.

If you want to see previous reviews, the Mag Review category is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=432.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell