The Week in Review – 3/27/2009

At Kitt Peak

This week, I returned to Kitt Peak National Observatory on Sunday, a day before my work shift began. My wife and daughters came out with me. Verity and Myranda were at the start of spring break, so this was an opportunity to spend some time together. On Sunday night we watched movies and then on Monday afternoon, I walked up to the 4-meter telescope with Verity, my six-year-old. It’s a bit of a climb from the observatory parking lot to the telescope, but she was a real trooper. On the way up to the telescope, we talked about the sun and how it’s really kind of a small star. Then, we went up to the visitor’s gallery, which gives really great views of the area surrounding Kitt Peak. There are also some great photos taken with the 4-meter. We looked at a photo of a galaxy and talked about how all the pinpricks of light in the photo were stars like the sun. Next to it was a photo of a galaxy cluster with hundreds of galaxies. We talked about how each one of those galaxies was like the one we lived in. To this day, the scale of the universe never ceases to amaze me.

Later that night, my thirteen-year-old, Myranda, was able to come to the telescope with me and watch me work, which isn’t always that exciting. To get the kind of detail we’d like from the telescope, we have to take exposures with the camera shutter open for a long time. So, she read a little while. On Tuesday, Kumie and the girls went back home to Las Cruces.

This week, I helped scientists use the Mosaic camera on the Kitt Peak 4-meter to observe recently discovered X-ray star clusters and planetary nebulae, which are the discarded gas shells of stars, formed in their death throes.

Chronicles of the Planeswalkers

In addition to my work at the telescope, I’ve been editing Chronicles of the Planeswalkers 2: Alignment by B.T. Robertson. I have to say that I have been rather impressed with how B.T. has grown as a writer in the time I’ve known him. I also edited his second book, Chronicles of the Planeswalkers 1: Alliances, which earned praise from none other than David Farland. Click on the pictures below to visit the first two books’ pages at Amazon.com.

Chronicles of the Planeswalkers, Part ZeroSpacerChronicles of the Planeswalkers, Part One

The Mogollon News at Fictionwise

Another book I edited was The Mogollon News by Uncle River. Not only did I edit this book, I also took the cover photograph. The book contains fictional news stories set in the real town of Mogollon, New Mexico, told with wry humor much like Garrison Keillor’s News from Lake Woebegone. I see that the book has now appeared at Fictionwise.com. Learn more by clicking on the book’s cover below:

The Mogollon News

The trade paperback edition of the book is also the featured title at hadrosaur.com

Mike Allen interviewed at Tor.com

Tales of the Talisman contributor, Nebula nominee, and Mythic Delirium editor Mike Allen was interviewed at Tor.com. The direct link to the interview:
http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=19220

Mike’s story “The Blessed Days” will appear in Tales of the Talisman volume 4, issue 4, which is scheduled to go to press next week.

Heirs of the New Earth mentioned on the Podioracket Podcast

The audio edition of my novel, Heirs of the New Earth was mentioned in the first episode of the Podioracket podcast. You can download the episode at:
http://www.podioracket.com

The audio edition of Heirs of the New Earth is available at:

http://www.podiobooks.com/title/heirs-of-the-new-earth

New Suzy Solver Adventure

Look for a new Suzy Solver adventure to start tomorrow, March 28, on the Tales of the Talisman web comics page at:
http://www.talesofthetalisman.com/comics.html

Thought for the Week

I love to travel, to see new places and meet new people. When I look out into this vast universe, I see more places to visit than any human could ever visit in a lifetime. However, getting to even the closest places is an admittedly daunting challenge. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started!

2009 Locus Poll

The 2009 Locus Poll has just gone live at:
https://secure.locusmag.com/2009/2009PollAndSurvey.html

All the items in the drop down menus are from their recommended reading list. However, I would be honored if anyone reading this would consider a couple of additional items.

For Best Magazine or Fanzine, please consider Tales of the Talisman:

tales4-1-cover1

You can learn more about Tales of the Talisman magazine at http://www.talesofthetalisman.com.  Several more magazines that people ought to know about are published by Sam’s Dot Publishing, including Aoife’s Kiss, The Martian Wave, Hungur, Scifaikuest and more.  Visit http://www.samsdotpublishing.com to learn more.

For Best Anthology, please consider Space Pirates:

space_pirates1

The print edition of Space Pirates may be ordered at:
http://www.amazon.com/Space-Pirates-Full-Throttle-Tales-1/dp/0981895700/

There is also a Kindle ebook edition available at: 
http://www.amazon.com/Space-Pirates-Full-Throttle-Tales/dp/B001U88ZEY/

For Best Book Publisher, there are lots of good ones to consider, but two favorites are: LBF Books and Flying Pen Press.

For Best Artist, I strongly recommend either Laura Givens or Caroline O’Neal.

Don’t know any of these well enough to feel comfortable voting for them? Why not visit the links above and check them out? I know you’ll enjoy Tales of the Talisman, Space Pirates, any of the books from LBF or Sam’s Dot or any artwork from the ladies mentioned above.

Do you have something you think should be considered for the 2009 Locus Poll? Feel free to add a comment with a link. I’m always happy to learn about good books or magazines, especially items from smaller presses that might have escaped Locus’ notice when they put together their recommended reading list.

Barnes and Noble Acquires Fictionwise

I just learned that Barnes and Noble acquired online eBook retailer Fictionwise. The official press release is at: http://www.barnesandnobleinc.com/press_releases/2009_march_5_fictionwise.html

I have to admit, I have somewhat mixed feelings about this news. On one hand, I think it’s great that Fictionwise now has additional resources to draw on to improve their website and make more books available. However, as a small press author and as a reader who enjoys small press books, I am a little concerned.

Let’s face it, Barnes and Noble is not the first place I think of when I consider shopping for books published by small or independent presses. However, Fictionwise has always been one of the best places to discover small press authors and indie titles. Among other things, Fictionwise has been great about featuring small press titles right alongside titles from bigger presses when presenting new releases. I’ve rarely seen Barnes and Noble do that.

That said, it occurs to me that there’s a real opportunity here for people like me who enjoy reading small press and indie books to show Barnes and Noble that they matter. Barnes and Noble will be watching sales at Fictionwise very closely now.

Realizing that times are tough, but also realizing that eBooks are relatively inexpensive — if you’re a fan of eBooks, I encourage you to visit Fictionwise.com and buy a small press book or two. If you like, you can browse by Publisher at Fictionwise. A few small presses with authors I like are Apex Publications, Asylett Press, Creative Guy Publishing, Dragon Moon Press, Lachesis Publishing, Parker Publishing, and Zumaya Publications.

I have four titles at Fictionwise as well that I hope you would consider as well.  One of them is The Solar Sea, which was recently on Fictionwise’s science fiction bestseller list.

Let’s show Barnes and Noble that small press books matter.

Blog, the Magnificent Ferret

First, allow me a brief introduction. My name is David Lee Summers. I’ve written five novels: The Pirates of Sufiro, Children of the Old Stars, Heirs of the New Earth, The Solar Sea and Vampires of the Scarlet Order.  You can learn more about them and me at my website: www.davidleesummers.com

I also edit a science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine called Tales of the Talisman published by Hadrosaur Productions. The magazine is in its fourth year under the current name. However, if you count its days as Hadrosaur Tales it has been around for fourteen years. For more information, visit: www.talesofthetalisman.com

As my first post on WordPress, I thought I’d share some thoughts I first wrote in 2005 about the world of blogging in general.

The other day, I was watching The New Scooby-Doo Movies with my kids. The episode was “Scooby-Doo Meets Dick Van Dyke.” In this episode, Dick Van Dyke has fallen on hard times and runs a carnival all by himself. Of course the carnival is haunted and Scooby and the gang must help out. As I was watching, I caught sight of something in the background that caused me to nearly fall out of my chair. One of the sideshow attractions was “Blog, the Magnificent Ferret — ten feet tall, 24 stone. See Blog, 10 cents.”

This episode of Scooby-Doo was made over thirty years ago. If that little bit of background art wasn’t prophetic science fiction, I don’t know what is. Now, I’ve been following some web logs over the past few years and it’s impossible not to notice the media attention they’ve garnered. Blogs run the gamut from insightful, provocative political discourse worthy of discussion in major newspapers to vitriolic personal attacks that would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame. I submit that no matter where they are in that spectrum, blogs are a sideshow attraction. The better web journals serve the same purpose as the Op-Ed pages of newspapers, but like Op-Ed pages, they don’t drive the news so much as provide feedback on what is happening in the news, much like surveys and polls. The worst blogs are like reality TV, except you don’t get to see anyone throw chairs. Like a 10-foot ferret, blogs have teeth. However, like any good sideshow attraction, you have to wonder whether the teeth have substance and you always know that if one attraction fails to please, there are more down the midway. At least blogs don’t cost money… not even ten cents!

Finally, I submit this little web journal is really just another sideshow attraction. My goal is to share some information about my adventures in publishing along with the occasional thought and opinion. At any rate, I hope you enjoy it.