On Turning 50

Over the weekend, while at TusCon in Tucson, Arizona, I celebrated my fiftieth birthday. It’s one of those points in life where I find myself looking back to see where I’ve been as well as looking forward to see where I’m going.


In my first fifty years, I’ve written and published nine novels, eighty-four short stories, and fifty-four poems. I’ve edited three anthologies, plus two magazines for ten years each. I contributed to the commissioning of the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope and the NMSU 1-meter telescope. I’m co-discoverer of two variable stars and I helped take data that contributed to the discovery of dark energy. Most of all, I’m proud to be the father of two incredible young ladies, one in high school, the other in college, who have a wide range of talents in such areas as computer science and mathematics.

Looking ahead, my tenth novel, The Astronomer’s Crypt, is nearing release. I have two anthologies in the publication queue: Kepler’s Cowboys and Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales. I have four short stories accepted and awaiting publication. Beyond that, I’m in the early phases of writing a new novel and I have a “fix-up” novel a little over half completed. Plus I have story treatments for four more novels. Presuming no major funding shifts, I expect to be involved in commissioning two new instruments at Kitt Peak in the coming years.

As I reach fifty, I’m arguably in the best health I ever have been. The arthritis that plagued me for years is in remission and I regularly take long walks through my neighborhood. Nevertheless, one specter looms over me. My dad was only fifty-two when he died suddenly of a heart attack. In the plus column, my doctor is helping me watch my heart health and both of my brothers have now outlived my dad by over a decade. I have no immediate reason to fear for my imminent demise. Nevertheless, I find myself grieving for how truly short my dad’s life was cut and watching my health has taken on a new urgency.

In short, as I turn fifty, I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished. My regrets are minimal. While there are some harsh words and rash actions I’d take back if I could and some friends I’ve lost touch with over the years, it’s hard to say I’d have a better life if I’d taken a different path. I have several exciting things to look forward to in the coming months and years, plus plans and goals for the years beyond that.

Thanks to my readers for sharing some of this fifty-year journey with me. I look forward to sharing the coming years with you as well.

7 comments on “On Turning 50

  1. Jack Tyler says:

    Great attitude, Lord Summers (any relation to Buffy, by the way?)! It’s just about to get good. You’re doing exactly the right thing about your health, monitoring rather than worrying; family history doesn’t guarantee you the same result. Bonnie’s whole family was riddled with heart disease, but guess what. She’s aware, involved in her own health care, takes her meds and watches her diet, and she’s outlived all the rest of them, and feels like she’ll be around to welcome the great-grandkids. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished, and welcome to the sixth decade. Relax and enjoy!

    • Thank you, Captain Jack! Appreciate the good thoughts and glad to hear Bonnie is doing so well in similar circumstances. As for any relationship to Buffy — it turns out I consider the vampire writer Montague Summers something of a literary grandfather. He was an odd character, but he was born exactly five years before my real grandfather and died exactly five years before my real grandfather — so definitely of the same generation as my granddad. As I understand, Buffy got her surname from Montague. So, I guess that makes me something of a cousin to the slayer! 🙂

  2. I thought I left a comment here when I liked this post. Happy belated birthday, David!

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