Star-Spangled Spectacular, Baltimore, 2014
Photos: ACF

A Guessing Game of Thrones

I wonder. I have a guess about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy epic, given clues sprinkled throughout the books. I’ll lay them out here in numbered points. Warning: here be spoilers for all the books and the HBO series, but only in clues I think are there, not for my guess. I’m probably wrong. It’s just a little theory I’ve had for a long time.

I’ve read all the books — the first three twice over — but have seen only the first three seasons of the show (lack of cable television prohibits more for now.) I don’t visit online forums, so I’m not sure if this has been put forth by others. I’m told not, but that was nearly a year ago. I’m a fan of the books and put this down here as part of my admiration for the scope of the story. Again…


Continue reading “A Guessing Game of Thrones”

International Talk Like a Pirate Day: Talk Like a Real Pirate 7

President. Mr. Castel, acquaint the Court of what you know in Relation to this Robbery of the King Solomon; after what Manner the Pyrate-Boat was dispatch’d for this Attempt.

Tho. Castel. I was a Prisoner, Sir, with the Pyrates when their Boat was ordered upon that Service, and found, upon a Resolution of going, Word was pass’d thro’ the Company, Who would go? And I saw all that did, did it voluntarily; no Compulsion, but rather pressing who should be foremost. …

President. So that Roberts forced ye upon this Attack.

Prisoners. Roberts commanded us into the Boat, and the Quarter-Master to rob the Ship; neither of whose Commands we dared to have refused.

President. And granting it so, those are still your own Acts, since done by Orders from Officers of your own Election. Why would Men, honestly disposed, give their Votes for such a Captain and such a Quarter-Master as were every Day commanding them on distasteful Services?

Here succeeded a Silence among the Prisoners, but at length Fernon very honestly own’d, that he did not give his Vote to Magnes, but to David Sympson (the old Quarter-Master) for in Truth, says he, I took Magnes for too honest a Man, and unfit for the Business.

A General History of the Pyrates, Captain Johnson

Privateer Day 2012

Photos: ACF

Fiction News

Pseudopod_LogoMy story “N0072-JK1: Study of Synaptic Response of the Organism to Spontaneous Stimulation of Vulnerability Zones. Photographic Analysis.,” first published in the anthology Borderlands 5, is tentatively scheduled to be released in an audio version from Pseudopod this September.

When to Stop Scribbling

People ask how I know when to stop scribbling and decide a work is finished. I say you have to go too far and destroy it, because then you know when you should have stopped and can go back. If you don’t, you leave untold riches out there.

Iain McCaig, Concept Artist, Star Wars: Episode I

The Ultimate Pencil Carry


I wasn’t even into pencils. I didn’t know a Blackwing Pearl from a Golden Bear, or an HB from R2D2.

But I received a free pencil with an order after finally succumbing to Field Notes. Same with the purchase of notebooks from Write Notepads & Co. And then I ordered the Write Notepads Jumbo pencils because they looked like fun. Then I bought a sample pack from, which included the infamous Blackwing 602. And then, of course, I had to have the Classroom Friendly sharpener. All along I had been listening to the Erasable podcast, with their infectious obsession. I was hooked.

The problem, however, was how to carry these new treasures with me. Something needs to protect that freshly sharpened tip and prevent graphite from smearing the inside of a bag. I didn’t want to go to the trouble of ordering special caps and I didn’t need something as large as a pencil case.

Continue reading “The Ultimate Pencil Carry”

Balticon 49

The 49th annual Balticon science fiction convention was held from May 22 to 25, 2015, at Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Guest of honor was Jo Walton. Artist guest of honor was Ruth Sanderson. Science guest of honor was Edie Stern. Ghost of honor was CJ Henderson. The 2015 winner of the Compton Crook Award was Alexandra Duncan.

The event included author and editor panel discussions, readings, science briefings, and an art show.

I missed Saturday, but attended Sunday and Monday. Dr. Thomas R. Holtz presented his annual “Dinosaur Update” on Sunday, at which he announced that 44 new species of dinosaur were discovered in 2014 and 9 so far in 2015. He focused on additional discoveries concerning Spinosaurus, as well as the “Great Enfluffening,” the continued discoveries of feathers on dinosaurs. From a slide: “The capacity to generate plumulose structures (or [their] derivatives) is ancestral for all dinosaurs.” They all could have had them.

Also: “Astrodon is Maryland’s state (non-avian) dinosaur.” “Non-avian” since the Oriole, being a bird, is already a dinosaur! New favorite dinosaur name: Dreadnoughtus.

The science track is always good at Balticon. I caught Dr. Inge Hyer’s presentation on the results of collaborations between observatories, “Between Gamma Rays and Radio Waves,” and some of Holtz’s talk on the impact of science fiction on public consciousness, “Popular Science Fiction and the Genesis of Paranormal Claims.”

Scott Edelman and Stephen Granade gave terrific readings during the time slot they shared. I enjoyed Ruth Sanderson’s talk/question-and-answer session about commissioning art for self-publishing. Also good was “Handling the Unavoidable Info Dump,” paneled by Joshua Palmatier, Gail Z. Martin and Tim Dodge.

Favorite sighting: The elderly woman walking with stately grace using a cane. Her T-shirt read: “Keep Calm and Nuke ‘Em From Orbit.”

Lighting conditions aren’t ideal at cons for photos, but I did manage to snap a few.

Balticon_49_DR1_1200_ACFDealers’ Room

Continue reading “Balticon 49”

New Fiction

Space_and_Time_Issue_123The new issue of Space and Time Magazine, which contains my story "The Raven and the Dove," is now available in print and electronically.

A production error introduced a typo – a long string of numbers – in the opening quote of the story, so please ignore that. Details here.

Here, Hon, Have a Notebook: Write Notepads & Co. Notebooks


How could I resist? One of the notebooks made by Write Notepads & Co. features an image of the U.S.S. Constellation. I purchased two of these and really like them. And then I bought some of their other designs.

The notebooks are made in Baltimore with all U.S.-sourced material. For every one sold, the company donates a notebook of a different type to a Baltimore school. There’s a code inside the notebook you buy that when entered on their website will show you which school benefited from your purchase. They sell a limited-edition Baltimore one, and have a series on the boroughs of New York.

These are fun, useful, sturdy notebooks. They are 8.5″ by 5.5″, with nicely letterpressed covers. They have 120 pages (60 leaves). There’s no nonsense here. They’re spiral notebooks the way they’re supposed to be made. They say simply, “Here, hon, have a notebook.”  They’re charming.

Continue reading “Here, Hon, Have a Notebook: Write Notepads & Co. Notebooks”

It’s Hallowe’en

Orson Welles, photographed by Carl Van Vechten

“This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that “The War of the Worlds” has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be; the Mercury Theatre’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying “Boo!” Starting now, we couldn’t soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night … so we did the next best thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears and utterly destroyed the Columbia Broadcasting System. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn’t mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember, please, the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian … it’s Hallowe’en.”

— Orson Welles, “The War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, Oct. 30, 1938; transcript from The War of the Worlds, Sourcebooks, Inc.