Monthly Archives: August 2012

Worldcon Friday Morning

It’s Friday morning here in Chicago and another day of the 70th Worldcon is dawning. James Enge and I ended up with a spectacular view from our hotel room, and my camera actually does it some justice. Below us is the Chicago River, winding its way out to Lake Michigan, and the Navy Pier.

I arrived mid-afternoon Friday after a long drive. I’ll provide further updates upon my return. Today I give my reading at 12:30 in the DuSable room. Unfortunately, I acquired a cold from my son this week. The sniffles are mostly cleared up now, but it’s settled into my chest, so I sound strangely deep. Maybe it will help. What won’t help is the fact I had one of the worst night’s sleep of my life, thanks to me taking too much cold medicine. I’m pretty bleary this morning.

Right, well, off to breakfast.

Dabir and Asim Contest Winner

I want to  thank Periklis Begzos for his winning contest entry. Some weeks ago I asked for titles to name the Dabir and Asim book series, and many of you responded with excellent suggestions (or, in the case of J.C. Hocking, very bad suggestions. Baghdaddies, for instance).

Peter Wolverton of Thomas Dunne Books and I looked over all the entries, and it was that of Periklis that won out. So he’ll shortly be receiving a free advanced reading copy of the book, as well as a hardback as soon as they become available.

But what did he name the series? Click to see a mock-up. You may note from the cover that reviews and blurbs are starting to trickle in…

The Whys and Wherefores of Convention Going

As I was contemplating my departure for Worldcon/Chicon in just a few days, I realized that I was eagerly anticipating the convention. And I wondered how I came to be THIS guy, looking forward to seeing old friends and acquaintances and meeting new ones, because when I drove off to my first convention I was confused about exactly what I was doing and why I was going, and more than a little nervous. All I knew is that I trusted the advice of my friend E.E. Knight. He assured me that I really needed to start attending conventions, so I went.

I didn’t used to  know why someone would want to go to a writing/reading convention. I knew they existed, but I knew plenty of writers and readers and reasoned I didn’t need to go meet any others. After all, it was a long drive, and I’d be among strangers. (I used to be a lot more introverted until I got old enough to be comfortable in my own skin.)

A Guile of Dragons

Most of the weekend was spent working away on house-type stuff, although I did manage to revisit some favorite bits from The Arabian Nights. I wrote one of those stories up (“The Wily Dalilah”) over at Black Gate this morning, and I’ll likely be talking about more tales in the coming months.

Today, though, I thought I’d call attention to the work of my friend James Enge. Like me, he had a serial character appearing over at Black Gate before that character appeared in a series of novels from a major publisher. Well, James’ fourth novel of Morlock the Maker was released in early August, and if you like your fantasy mixed in with sly wit, clever word play, horror, and great action set pieces, then you’re late to the party.

Music to Muse By… and Other Questions

I thought I’d use today’s post to answer a few questions I’ve received.

1. Why didn’t you like the third Skaith book by Leigh Brackett?

First, when I guest-starred over at the SF Signal Mind Meld yesterday, I made an off-hand comment about Leigh Brackett’s Skaith series not ending strongly. Some have written in to ask what I meant by that.

I thought that the final book of the three felt more like a contractual obligation. The second book ends with everything seemingly wrapped up and resolved. The third book finds us in the midst of an entirely new plot, with our main character still stranded on Skaith. It was… underdeveloped, a little rushed. Was it a decent story? Yes. Did I like it as well as the first two books? No. It felt tacked on to the plot I’d been reading through the first two books, which is why I didn’t list it as one of my series picks for best ending. But I still stand by my previous assessments that Leigh Brackett is one of the finest adventure writers we’ve ever had. She is one of my top three favorites… I just didn’t like this book as well.

Canals of Baghdad

A recent photo from Wilkinson showing the remnant of a Mesopotamian canal.

If you ever think about ancient Baghdad you’re likely to picture a sand-blasted landscape and a city growing alongside the river in a narrow band where the ground is rendered fertile by the water. A least, that’s how I used to imagine it, probably influenced by all the reading I’d done as a kid about ancient Egypt.

But 8th century Baghdad, while it surely was beside the river, didn’t rise up from a desert wasteland. At the time, the entire region was criss-cr0ssed by great canals. The Abbasid caliphate inherited a system that had been carefully managed by the Babylonians and the Persians and a whole slew of prior civilizations that had worked very hard to bring water to the land lying between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. That whole “fertile crescent” thing isn’t hyperbole.

Chicon 7 Schedule

If any of you are planning to attend the 70th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago this year (aka Chicon 7), I hope you’ll drop by to hear me reading from the new novel on Friday, August 31st at 12:30 pm.

The whole thing takes place in the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago. I’ll be reading from The Bones of the Old Ones in the DuSable room, which is located on the Silver level of the West Tower.

I’ll be participating on a panel as well, the subject of which is Writing What You Don’t Know. It takes place Saturday at 9:00 in the Gold level of the East Tower in Columbus rooms C and D.

There were a number of great sounding panels I wanted to sit down on, and this is one of them. Here’s the official description:

Back From GenCon

I returned from my whirlwind trip to GenCon late Saturday night. The four days of GenCon  aren’t long enough to see and do everything, which means that the one day I was there didn’t give me a chance to really do the convention justice at all.

Still, I met (or re-connected with) a whole slew of interesting people.

Before I get into any recounting, I want to pass on my pleased impression about the GenCon staffers. There was some mild confusion about where my badge was supposed to be. When I arrived at the GenCon hall twenty minutes before I was scheduled to appear on a panel and my badge couldn’t be relocated, staff member Rik DesChain personally escorted me to the panel to make sure that I could get to where I needed to go, then marched off to sort out the matter with the missing badge.

Opinions Wanted

I’m almost done moving into this new web theme. I’m fairly pleased with the decorating scheme of the new site, and the organization of the various pages. I’m always up for constructive feedback, though. Are there features you’d like to see on the site? Do you want better access to older articles, or the blog roll? Let me know.

Obviously this site is here in part to promote my writing, but I never want to sound like all I do is shrilly promote my work. I’d get pretty bored doing that, and I think that kind of thing is deadly dull to read. As a result,  in amongst news about what I’m working on and how it’s going, there will also be posts about ancient Arabia or other history topics, old adventure stories and writers, genre, pulp, sword-and-sorcery, the craft of writing, the publishing industry, and gaming. If my knee fully heals maybe I’ll finally get back to working toward my second degree black belt and start talking about karate.


I wanted to give a shout out for the talented Sarah Newton, whose first novel, Mindjammer, has just been released. I stumbled on Sarah’s work as an RPG writer when she helped bring the Starblazer Adventures RPG to life and was blown away by the scope of her ideas and the easy and exciting way she articulated them. Here’s the official cover copy for her first novel: