Bookstores keep disappearing, so it’s becoming more and more difficult to find a book or magazine I’m published in, on physical shelves. It was worth the effort to see “my” Analog on display at Books-a-Million.

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I’m not sure a word has been invented to adequately describe how cool the first sight of the cover is. It’s like instant Christmas.

Here’s a different view…because Analog.

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I managed to put my phone away, after these two shots, but I stood there for a bit longer, basking.

A happy moment, for a thrilled author.

This fascinating piece about Salvador Dali’s rare illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland grabbed my attention in a fast moving blip, passing through my Twitter stream. Something about the combination of colors and oddly placed lines drew my eyes closer and closer, until I saw enough to make me want to read the article.

I actually first read Alice and Through the Looking Glass as an adult, though I was almost as familiar with many scenes and characters as if I had read them long before, from quotes peppered throughout some books by a favorite old school novelist who was often lumped into the massive genre called romance. Her name was Emilie Loring, and she wrote novels spanning a large swath of the 20th Century. Though they all embodied sweeping romance, I would term them dramas, for their cinematic qualities that made reading them akin to watching the fine old black and white movie masterpieces from the Golden Age of Hollywood. She was fond of scattering quotes from classic literature throughout her prose, which I suspect were the root of my becoming a Dickens fan and wanting to read Carroll as a grownup. I went down the rabbit hole and through Alice’s looking glass looking for the source of the quotes, which enhanced my enjoyment of the books even more.

Dali is not really my cup of Mad Hatter poured tea. My only real knowledge of his work has been his Melting Clocks, which is a bit like wondering if the Mad Hatter was pouring time pieces, as well as tea, on some occasions. I’ve been of the vague opinion that Dali’s paintings are so far into surrealism that my brain can’t quite catch up.

That still holds for these illustrations, though their softer smudgy colors and Alice subject matter render them just over the edge into the realm of charming. Somewhat. I find them confounding, as well as intriguing, as I try to match them to the familiar stories they depict. Dali and Dodgson seem an odd combination at first, but, on further thought, they just may be a match made in the places where  surrealism and Wonderland meet.

I can’t let the 50 year anniversary of Star Trek pass without marking it as special to me. I stumbled into The Original Series long after its original run. I’d seen the movies and some franchise episodes. I liked them, but it was reading the novels that made me love them so much that I wanted to write my own Trek fiction. This avalanche of inspiration led me to watch… everything Trek. All that amazing Star Trek goodness inspired me to not only play in Gene Roddenberry’s sandbox, but also to continue what I learned from that into creating original fiction.

The end result to date of falling in love with Kirk, Spock, and Bones is that I won publication in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthologies VII, VIII, and Ten. The thrill of seeing my byline on those pro sale stories will forever be a landmark of my life, as a reader, a writer, and a human. That experience instilled in me a great love of writing and a work ethic that has led me this year to another longheld dream come true, being published in Analog.

Today, on the date when Star Trek first aired 50 years ago, I salute The Great Bird of the Galaxy. He enhanced my life in ways he never knew, but that I will treasure forever.

This. Right here, in the guise of a simple web link, we have what all of geekdom has been bating breath in preparation of for what seems like eons. Well, what may actually be eons from the other end, depending on how long lived or even still living the potential alien folks in a solar system far, far away may be. We know nothing about them. We know not if there actually is…er, are, a them, yet the space hungry version of Pavlov’s dog is salivating the instant this particular bell is clanged.

Personally, I’m of two minds about the whole thing. While my science revering, space loving, science fiction writing side is right up there in the stands, cheering its little heart out, the side that both loves and freaks out over the old TV series Alien Nation would be a lot happier if Stephen Hawking hadn’t decided to voice the resounding voice of reason by telling us not to call ET back. After all, the pop culture tinged concept of alien overlords gets a whole lot less Alien Nationy, when it comes in riding the what iffing coattails of a real life alien signal. It gets real life real and not a little scary.

Even if this one doesn’t bring us a singing telegram from the stars, it serves as a hair-standing-on-end reminder that someday there may be profound decisions to be made about just how discoverable we should be. Isolationists? Arms open wide? I’m not sure. Probably somewhere in between would be best, but as a group we Earthlings aren’t really known for our restraint. Still, even the futility of resistance in a worst case scenario would spark the one thing no alien visitors could ever be prepared to face…the human spirit.

While impatiently waiting for Amazon to make the MP3 of Chantal Kreviazuk’s new album Hard Sail available, I decided to trawl YouTube to check out the songs on it. I came across this must see, must hear treasure for people who have never heard of her and fans alike.

Chantal Kreviazuk is a Canadian singer songwriter I first discovered in the days when brick and mortar CD stores roamed the earth in vast herds. One of my favorite passtimes was buying music at random, though sometimes on the advice of store clerks who thought I was cool because I spoke their music language. The day I took home Under These Rocks and Stones I instantly fell in love with her voice, her lyrics, and her melodies. Music inspires my writing in ways almost symbiotic and Chantal Kreviazuk’s has been a fixture in that inspiration stream from the moment I heard Surrounded on the above mentioned CD. That makes having to wait out Amazon’s Canadian music lag especially irksome.

In the meantime this gorgeous, intimate Strombo Sessions performance is almost as wonderful as a studio album, since I love the nuanced subtleties of live performance. The set list only includes three songs, two from Hard Sail and a Radiohead cover, but it is so awesome it feels like a longer private concert. This live performance showcases the fact that she’s a classically trained pianist, and the beautiful cello accompaniment adds a haunting note, even evoking the sound of humpback whalesong during Daydreaming. This Strombo Sessions performance is such a treat, as I wait for the new album from one of the singer songwriters I’ve loved the longest.

Chantal Kreviazuk on Strombo Sessions

This year the Nicholl initial results weren’t quite as early as last year, but the timing was both good and bad for me. The emails came four hours after I got home from my mom’s funeral, which made the fact that my science fiction entry got absolutely nowhere not be as upsetting as it would have been at another time. After the initial shock of disappointment, I really didn’t care too much. Beyond the timing, it was the first time any of my screenplays hadn’t received at least one positive score since I started entering the Nicholl again a few years ago and the sf one has been a Page Awards Semi-Finalist once and Quarter Finalist twice, so it’s not like I don’t have plenty of proof that it’s good. It’s just the capricious nature of subjectivity and individual reader’s taste. Not that I’m happy to have had it bomb out, but other things have taken precedent over such concerns this year.

My other two entries made up for it, for the most part. In keeping with that capricious thing, the drama that got one positive score last year got two this year and the one that got two last year got one this year. This kind of thing can drive you bonkers, if you let it. Not letting it can be a struggle, but if you can remember the bits about subjectivity and individual taste it gets easier. With the Nicholl in particular, it helps profoundly to keep always at the front of your mind that out of the 2016 competition’s 6,915 entries, only 357 made QF. With those kind of odds in the most prestigious competition of them all, I’m really, really pleased with the positive scores I got again this year.

Once again I find myself saying I love Twitter. I can’t quite sleep, so of course I start scrolling through, wondering what marvel I will happen upon in the middle of the night. This time it was The Elephant Man who caught my eye.

I’ve been interested in Joseph (John) Merrick, known as The Elephant Man because of his terrible disfigurement, since seeing the movie about him, starring Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. Many people could not bear to look at him, while conversely others paid to see him. Much of his life was one of degradation and despair.

His eventual friendship with London surgeon Dr. Frederick Treves led to the letters chronicled in this article , which I found extremely moving. They shine a bright light on the wonderful, in the often dismal quality in various walks of life of the people of Victorian England. This Wikipedia entry goes into a lot of fascinating information about this remarkable man’s life. My favorite moment depicted in the movie is that Princess Alexandra befriended him, apparently seeing the erudite nature of the man behind the deformities over which he had no control.

Something I didn’t expect to find within these letters was Francis Carr-Gomm’s eloquent explanation of why God allows such horrendous suffering. This question becomes a point of anguish for those of us who must watch someone we love dearly suffer tremendous pain, especially for an extended time. Carr-Gomm showed himself through his words in these letters on behalf of Joseph Merrick to be a wise, kind, and benevolent natured man, while Treves and all the people who found ways to help a lovely, gentle, intelligent soul trapped within a monstrous exterior were examples of the best the Victorian Age had to offer.

I wish Joseph Merrick had been given opportunity to live his entire life among the kindest of strangers, many of whom became friends. Regardless of his earlier treatment, it is a beautiful thing that in his final years he found peace and the experience of happiness most of us take for granted, even when we think we know what true unhappiness is.