Buboni-Virtual Con 2020

This weekend, I had originally been scheduled to attend Bubonicon 52 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The convention has been postponed to 2021, but it presents a unique opportunity for people who couldn’t normally afford to travel to Albuquerque for a convention. You can attend Buboni-Virtual Con 2020 absolutely free just by visiting the Bubonicon Facebook Page or the Bubonicon YouTube Channel.

If you go to the links above between 10am and 7:30pm Mountain Daylight Time, you will find panel discussions, readings, a science talk, a short art demo, and a comic workshop. If you miss the opportunity to tune in live, you’ll still be able to watch the programming after its been archived on the pages. As you watch the events, you’ll encounter such folks as Becky Chambers, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Chaz Kemp, Connie Willis, Rebecca Roanhorse, S.M. Stirling, Jane Lindskold, Walter Jon Williams, and more!

During Buboni-Virtual Con, I participate in a panel discussion with Ian Tregillis, Dr. Cathy Plesko, and Courtney Willis called “Artificial Intelligence: Will Computers Take Over the World.” The panel will go live at 5pm MDT. As scientists move closer to achieving artificial intelligence, we discuss what’s next. We’ll discuss how real AI science compares to the depictions in movies, TVs and books. We consider whether AI could save the world or be its doom. What about Asimov’s Rules? In short, we discuss the future of artificial intelligence. We recorded this panel in advance. None of us were necessarily experts on the subject but we’ve all worked with robotic systems, machine learning algorithms and other real world AIs at different points in our careers. We talk about the difference between strong and weak AIs and even speculate about what it might take for an AI to cross the line into sentience. I hope you’ll join us today and comment on the video.

Now, if Bubonicon were happening in person, I’d likely be giving a reading at some point. As it turns out, eSpec Books has been hosting an online reading series to feature authors who haven’t been able to get out and about to conventions to show their wares. The first of my readings for the series is currently live. I read from my story “The Sun Worshiper” which appeared in eSpec’s anthology After Punk. The story imagines a Victorian mummy unwrapping party gone wrong. If you’re coming to this post in the middle of Buboni-Virtual Con and want to go catch the fine programming there, please do. This video will be waiting for you. It’s mostly audio, so it’s a good one to have on in the background while you’re doing other things as well.

Another thing that would be happening if this were an in-person convention is that I would have a table in Bubonicon’s Flea Market. Even though the Flea Market isn’t happening, you can still browse my wares at: http://www.hadrosaur.com and http://www.davidleesummers.com – in either event, you can browse at your leisure, read some samples and decide what you want. The only downside is that I can’t chat with you in person, but if you do have a question, feel free to drop it in the comments and I’ll chat with you there!

Cowboys and Battles

Back when I was editing the anthology Space Horrors, I was trying to entice a very good horror and suspense author to write a story for me. Unfortunately, commitments didn’t allow him to deliver a story, but he did recommend a writer he knew named Gene Mederos. I approached Gene with an invitation and he delivered a creepy tale called “A Touch of Frost.” The characters grabbed me right from the start and I could visualize everything in the story. It should then come as no surprise that Gene teaches film making and film editing at Santa Fe Community College. Ever since that first story, Gene has been one of my go-to authors when I have a new anthology project.

One of the things I most enjoyed about editing Tales of the Talisman were the beautiful story illustrations the artists delivered. Unfortunately, Gene has only written for my anthologies and not for the magazine, so I’ve never had the opportunity to see his stories illustrated…until now that is. Gene has recently turned his great visual sense into creating some beautiful illustrations of his stories. He recently shared them on Facebook and I asked permission to share them with you.

After writing “A Touch of Frost” for Space Horrors, I was delighted to hear he submitted a story to Bryan Thomas Schmidt for Space Battles. Bryan bought Gene’s story “The Thirteens.” In the story, Captain Andromeda Sax and the crew of La Espada investigate a bogey, and come up against Purists, a religious sect dedicated to ridding the galaxy of impurities—like the diverse alien and human species crewing Sax’s ship. The story not only delivered exciting battle scenes but explored issues of diversity and what makes us human. I’m especially pleased that Gene’s story was selected to appear in the best-of collection we assembled from the original anthologies and is now back in print.

Gene has gone on to submit stories for both A Kepler’s Dozen and Kepler’s Cowboys. In the latter story, Gene tackles the subject of how we’ll recognize alien life when we see it, especially when the aliens are very different than the life we know on Earth. He also imagined a rough and tumble frontier world with exotic landscapes that very much captured the essence of the space cowboy subgenre. One of the things that really makes Gene’s work stand out is the attention to detail, such as imagining a genetically engineered creature called a camule, bred to survive in harsh environments, and shown in the illustration above.

Gene and I have stories in both Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales and Kepler’s Cowboys. I’ve invited Gene to read one of his stories with me during the “55 Minutes with David Lee Summers” session at Bubonicon which is going on this weekend in Albuquerque. I’ll read my story in the other anthology. If you happen to be there, we’ll be reading in the Carlsbad Room at 10am on Sunday, August 27. I hope you’ll join us for an hour of exciting science fiction.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to be at Bubonicon this weekend, you can learn more about the anthologies by clicking on the links below:

Bubonicon 49

Today’s main event is the solar eclipse happening over much of the United States. I hope you have a good place to watch with clear skies and proper eye protection. I’m in Louisiana, where we should see about 80% of the sun eclipsed, presuming we get clear skies.

This coming weekend, I’ll be in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Bubonicon 49. The link will take you to their page with more information. This year’s theme is Back in Time (Time Travel). C.J. Cherryh and Sherwood Smith are the author guests of honor, Ursula Vernon is the toastmaster, and Elizabeth Leggett will be the guest artist. The convention is being held at the Albuquerque Mariott Uptown at 2101 Louisiana Blvd NE. Read on for my tentative schedule.

Friday, August 25

  • 4-5pm – Main Room – Jurassic Spark: Dino Appeal. Not just kids love dinosaurs. They’ve fascinated people of all ages for almost 200 years. Why? What is the enduring appeal of dinosaurs in the popular imagination? Dreaming about dinosaurs constitutes mental time travel. Usually. Does this fascination explain the appeal of Godzilla, Rodan, etc? On the panel with me are C.J. Cherryh, Steven Gould, Emily Mah, and John Saberhagen. Victor Milan will be moderating.

Saturday, August 26

  • 10-11am – Salon A-D – Fancy Pants: Idea Strategy. Are you a pantser? An outliner? How do you get at your material? The most common question asked of SF writers is “Where do you get your ideas?” and we’re all interested. Do you keep ‘em in your pants? Should we rephrase that? Where do you find them? What are your ideation strategies? Is that an idea in your pants, or are you just happy to see me? On the panel with me are Brenda Drake, Betsy James, and Susan R. Matthews. Robert E. Vardeman will be moderating.
  • 2-3pm – Main Room – Exo-Planets: What We’ve Learned. Astronomers have discovered several planets in orbit around far stars. What have we learned? Are there any in reach? Are any *really* habitable, or is it just that some could be habitable if all the conditions are just right? On the panel with me are Larry Crumpler, Loretta Hall, Kathleen Kitts, and Cathy S. Plesko. I’ll be the moderator.
  • 4-5pm – Main Room – SF As a Stealth Delivery Platform. Everybody knows that SF has inspired legions of young people to grow up and become scientists; half of NASA was weaned on Star Trek. But does SF’s influence with these people end with their choice of career? Might SF actually serve as a legitimate means of transmitting scientific ideas between working scientists in different disciplines? Might it, in certain circumstances, be more effective than usual technical publications? On the panel with me will be Kathleen Kitts, Pari L. Noskin, and Corie Weaver. Emily Mah will be moderating.
  • 5:25-6:40pm – Main Room – Mass Autographing. I’ll be joining all the Bubonicon participants in the main room where we’ll all be happy to autograph your books, programs, and anything else you want signed!

Sunday, August 27

  • 10-11am – Carlsbad – 55 Minutes with David Lee Summers. Although this is billed as a solo event, I’ve invited Gene Mederos to join me and we’ll read stories from Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales and Kepler’s Cowboys. We’ll be happy to answer questions and there may be some surprises as well. Come by and join us for 55-minutes of thrilling science fiction adventure!
  • 1:30-2:30pm – Salon A-D – Ask a Scientist! Larry Crumpler, Cathy S. Plesko and I will field your questions about science!

As usual, I will be helping with the Bubonicon Author Tea on Sunday afternoon. Check the program book for details. Because of my schedule, I’ll be helping at the second session. There are always some amazing teas to try and lovely snacks to eat.

What will be unusual for me this year, is that I won’t have a dealer’s table. I will be a free range author at this year’s Bubonicon. You will be able to find my books at the Who Else Books Table and possibly at the Barnes and Noble table as well. If you’re in Albuquerque this weekend, I hope to see you at Bubonicon!

Bubonicon 48

Next weekend I’ll be in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Bubonicon 48. The theme is Rockets, Robots, and Rayguns and the guests of honor will be Rachel Caine and David Gerrold. Joe R. Lansdale will be serving as Toastmaster and Lee Moyer is the guest artist. I’ll be serving on three panels over the weekend and participating in the Mass Autographing Session on Saturday. On Sunday, I’ll be the host at the 1pm session of the Author’s Tea and pouring tea during the 2:15 session.

perry_logo_48

Friday, August 26

  • 4-5pm – Main Room – Soylent Green: It’s a Cookbook. On this panel we’ll be exploring favorite recipes or foods from SF & Fantasy. Has a science fiction or fantasy story or book inspired you to culinary creativity? Characters need to eat, right? So, what do they eat? What about drinks and alcoholic beverages? How do food choices affect the story’s plot and “flavor”? Can a meal reveal factoids about the culture and society of the characters? Does it really all have to taste like chicken? I’ll be moderating this panel that features Jane Lindskold, Laura J. Mixon, Sage Walker and Corie Weaver.

Saturday, August 27

  • 10-11am – Salon A-D – Where Have All the Publishers Gone? Anybody There? More and more people are self-publishing today. Will all writers eventually go to this format? Will we miss publishers when we don’t have them (if that happens)? What are the advantages and perils of dealing with a publisher or magazine editor? On the panel with me are Rachel Caine, Emily Mah, Gabi Stevens, and Pari Noskin. Robert Vardeman will be moderating.
  • 5:25-6:40pm – Main Room – Mass Autographing Session All the authors attending Bubonicon will be on hand to sign their wares.

Sunday, August 28

  • 10-11am – Main Room – Are Robots Still Scary? Danger Will Robinson! Robots once ran rampant on the pages of pulp magazines and across movie screens. Has familiarity with computers and perhaps Wall-E softened the image of the robot? Do we still fear the day the robots take over? Should we? Can we invent even scarier scenarios now that we’re more familiar with robots? I’ll be moderating this panel consisting of Mario Acevedo, Steven Gould, Jane Lindskold, Laura Mixon, and M.T. Reiten.

Of course, when I’m not on a panel, you’ll likely find me at the Bubonicon Flea Market at the Hadrosaur Productions table. Please come by, say “hi” and check out our newest books. If you’ll be in Albuquerque next weekend, I hope I’ll see you at Bubonicon!

New Orleans Vampires and Bubonicon 47

I’m sorry to miss Sasquan, the 73rd annual WorldCon being held in Spokane, Washington this weekend. Sky Warrior Publishing, publisher of my Clockwork Legion Steampunk books is there. If you’re at Sasquan, be sure to visit them and support them by buying their books. They have a terrific selection. Also, I have friends in the running for the Hugo Award, which will be presented at Sasquan tonight. I wish them luck and I wish I was there to support them! I know it’s been a turbulent year for the Hugos, but I hope tonight’s festivities hold nothing but fun for those involved.

Although I’m genuinely sorry to miss WorldCon this year, I find myself thinking of one of my favorite moments from the San Antonio World Con two years ago. I was staying at a motel some distance from the convention, both for budget reasons and so I could have a quiet retreat from the convention. One night, I stopped at a Subway sandwich shop on the way to the motel. I was the only one there, along with the clerk. It turns out he was a science fiction fan, but couldn’t afford to go to WorldCon. We spent several minutes chatting. I told him about highlights of the day. He asked me what I wrote and he ended up buying one of my books. The episode reminds me that not all fans are at WorldCon and even those who don’t have to travel far can’t go for various reasons.

Boutique

Today, I’m grateful to have been invited to sign my vampire novels at Boutique du Vampyre in New Orleans, where I am this weekend on family business. I’ll be at the Boutique from 3 to 6pm. Be sure to drop by and check out my books and the great selection of vampire goodies. I’m delighted for the chance to make friends and meet fans in New Orleans this weekend.

Next weekend, I’ll be at Bubonicon in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year’s theme is “Women of Wonder” and the guests of honor are Catherynne M. Valente and Tamora Pierce. The toastmistress is Mary Robinette Kowall. Here’s my schedule for the weekend:

Friday, August 28

  • 4pm – Main Room – Whither Ghost? Dancing with the Definitely Dead. Zombies are hot (which must startle them), but let’s not abandon ectoplasm. What roles do true ghosts play in the metaphoric dance of SF/F? What archetypes do they carry? Or are they just devices, good for frisson? How do ghosts in a story affect time and space? The forms ghosts take vary from culture; what are some wonderful ones we may be unfamiliar with? On the panel with me are Mary Robinette Kowall, Betsy James, Darynda Jones, and Sarena Ulibarri.
  • 8:45pm – Santa Fe Room – 40 Minutes With David Lee Summers. I tentatively plan to read my Lovecraftian Steampunk story “Reckoning at the Alamo” which is scheduled to appear in the second volume of the Lost Trails anthology series. If time permits, I may also read “Born Again Miners” from Zombiefied: Hazardous Materials
  • 9:30pm – Main Room – Who Can it Be Now? Characters With Flaws. Is a flawed character, hero or villain, necessary in today’s fiction? Are the days of the white and black hats over, or can today’s readers tolerate a purely good or evil character without inner or outer flaws of morality, ethics, and motivations? Were there ever such characters at all? Conversely, how much anti-hero and sympathetic villain nature can be tolerated by readers before they are turned off? Which flawed characters work best? On the panel with me are Ben Bova, S.M. Stirling, Caroline Spector, and Walter Jon Williams.

Saturday, August 29

  • 10am – Main Room – Red or Green. N.M. as a Mars Analog. Does New Mexico share common features with Mars? Does the Red Planet have special appeal to NM scientists, readers, and writers? How are the two similar? Is NM a great training ground for a manned Mars mission? NM is lucky enough to have Larry Crumpler on the Mars Rover team, and Zachary Gallegos as one of the 100 finalists for the proposed Mars One Mission. What other NM scientists are doing Mars research? What does the appeal of the New York Times bestseller The Martian by Andy Weir mean for present and future Mars interest and projects? On the panel with me are Larry Crumpler, Zachary Gallegos, Loretta Hall, Christine MacKenzie, and Catherine S. Plesko.

Sunday, August 30

  • 10am – Main Room – It’s Alive: Scientists in Science Fiction. In Hollywood, everyone “knows” that scientists are typically treated as supervillains or antisocial nerds. But more and more, it appears that scientist characters are playing the hero. Have scientists truly escaped the old stereotypes? If so, what’s with the change of heart? What caused the stereotypes in the first place? The Atomic Age or maybe “messing around in God’s Domain?” I’ll be moderating this panel that also includes Daniel Abraham, Josh Gentry, Jeffe Kenedy, Catherine S. Plesko, and M.T. Reiten.

In addition to these events, I’ll be helping out at the Bubonicon Author’s Tea, which is a special event where the authors of Bubonicon say “thank you” to the fans by presenting them with a fun, event. As of this writing, I don’t know which sessions I’ll be helping with, but seating is limited and it’s worth coming to any of them.

When I’m not otherwise scheduled, you’ll find me at the Hadrosaur Productions room in the dealer’s room. Please drop by and say “hi!”

Monsoon Season

It’s monsoon season here in the southwest, and fortunately this year we’re getting much needed rain both at home in Las Cruces and at Kitt Peak National Observatory. During monsoon season, the clouds typically roll in around four or five o’clock in the afternoon, then rain. Sometimes they disburse and sometimes linger into the morning hours. Either way, the warm temperatures and cloudy skies make it tempting to spend a lot of time where it’s dry, enjoying the air conditioning and reading a good book. One place I like to discover good books is at science fiction conventions and I spent last weekend at Bubonicon in Albuquerque.

Bubonicon Dealer's Table

The photo shows me at the Hadrosaur Productions table in the dealer’s room. In addition to dealing, I was on several panels. Two that were closely related to my steampunk writing were “Sci-Fi and Southwestern Fiction” moderated by Walter Jon Williams and “The Weird Weird West” moderated by John Maddox Roberts. One highlight of the first panel was discovering that Laura J. Mixon had family connected to the Roswell Incident. As it turns out, my undergraduate advisor, an atmospheric physicist named C.B. Moore claimed to be responsible for the Roswell Incident, saying it was a nuclear sensing balloon that got away from him. Both panels touched on Tombstone, Arizona along with the technology that has long been present in the Southwest. For example, Nikola Tesla had his lab in Colorado Springs. What’s more, railroads and mining companies brought a lot of technology into the southwest.

During the convention, I had the opportunity to read from my novels Lightning Wolves and Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. Speaking of which, if you’re looking for something to read as summer wanes into fall, I’m giving away a copy of Dragon’s Fall over at The Scarlet Order Web Journal, but you need to hurry if you’d like to enter. I stop taking entries on the afternoon of Sunday, August 10. By the way, this lovely graphic for Dragon’s Fall was created by Sharlene Martin Moore. If you’re an author and would like her to create one for you, visit http://graphicsbysharlene.wix.com/graphicsbysharlene.

Dragons Fall Card 2

As for my own reading, I’m wrapping up the submission period for Tales of the Talisman Magazine. We’ll be closing to all submissions at midnight Mountain Daylight Time on August 15. Please note, I have a short list full of outstanding stories. Thanks to those who have submitted. If you haven’t heard back from me yet, I’m hoping to have answers to you by the end of August.

Bubonicon 46

Bubonicon, Albuquerque, New Mexico’s premier science fiction convention is happening earlier than normal this year. It will be held from August 1-3 at the Albuquerque Marriott Uptown. The guests of honor are Jack Campbell, Cherie Priest, and Darla Hallmark. Stephen Gould will serve as toastmaster. You can find more details at bubonicon.com. When I’m not on a panel, I’ll likely be manning my table in the dealer’s room. On Sunday, I’ll be helping with the Author’s Tea. My panel schedule is as follows:

Friday, August 1

  • 4pm – Salon E – It’s All SF: Sci Fi & Southwestern Fiction. Why are so many Southwestern writers drawn to SF and Fantasy? Are there distinctly Southwestern themes that appear in their works? What is the tradition of Southwestern SF they draw upon (Williamson, Zelazny, Burroughs, etc)? In what ways are SF and Southwestern literature not only compatible but natural allies? Are many desert-themed SF stories just cowboy tales on other worlds? On the panel with me are Jeff Kennedy, T. Jackson King, Laura J. Mixon, and Walter Jon Williams.

Saturday, August 2

  • 4pm – Salon E – What Scares You Now? Are there changes in society over the years that are reflected in today’s Horror villains? Do the appearances of hero vampires or werewolves indicate a more tolerant society? Or are they just part of the natural evolution of the genre? Why are werewolves, vampires, witches and zombies still popular? Are there any new monsters about to take center stage? Also on the panel are Cherie Priest, Scott Phillips, Joan Saberhagen, and Craig A. Butler.

Sunday, August 3

  • 10am – Santa Fe – 55 Minutes With David Lee Summers. I’ll be reading from my novels Lightning Wolves and Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order.
  • 12:30pm – Salon E – The Weird Weird West: SF With Six Guns. Blending gunslingers with other genres has been done from Stephen King’s Dark Tower (Gunslinger) series to some Steampunk to Firefly. What fascinates us about the Western, and why is it so much fun to mix it with something else? What works have succeeded? What is the secret to making a mix work? Also on the panel are Craig A. Butler, Josh Gentry, Walter Jon Williams, and John Maddox Roberts.
  • 3:30pm – Salon E – She’s My TARDIS Except She’s a Woman. The TARDIS, Serenity, the Enterprise, KITT, the Heart of Gold, the Millennium Falcon, Andromeda, Red Dwarf’s Holly, 2001’s HAL…the iconic vehicles of sci-fi can also be seen as characters and companions in their own right. Humans sometimes have a unique bond and a tendency toward personification with their modes of transportation: what happens when we do give them minds and voices of their own? Are we headed there in a future of self-driving cars? Should we fear Maximum Overdrive? On the panel with me are Claire Eddy, M.T. Reiten, Connie Willis, and Jack Campbell

I’ll close out today’s post with a reminder. The Smashwords sale on Sky Warrior Books titles ends in just a few days, on July 31. Hurry if you want to get either Owl Dance or Lightning Wolves at half off. Just remember to enter the code SSW50 on checkout.

Lightning Wolves

Owl Dance is available at:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/436532

Lightning Wolves is available at:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/455282

Bubonicon 45

Hard to believe it’s almost time for Bubonicon again! Bubonicon is an annual science fiction convention held each year in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year, it will be held from August 23-25 at the Mariott Uptown. The writer guests of honor are Brent Weeks and Tim Powers. The guest artist is Alan F. Beck and the Toastmistress is Diana Rowland. You can learn more about the convention at their website, bubonicon.com

Bubonicon Logo

Hadrosaur Productions will be back with a table in the dealer’s room. We have all kinds of great new products including my novel Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order and the anthology A Kepler’s Dozen: Thirteen Stories About Distant Worlds that Really Exist. When I’m not on panels, you will likely find me there. My schedule at Bubonicon is as follows.

Friday, August 23

  • 9:30-11:00pm – Astro Boy Salon – For the Love of Cheese: Son of the Cheese Magnet. In this panel, I’ll be discussing many of my favorite cheesy movies and the fine line between “classic schlock” and “just plain bad”. On the panel with me are Adam Jarmon Brown, Craig A. Butler, Victor Milán, Scott Phillips, Robert Vardeman, and John Jos Miller.

Saturday, August 24

  • 10:00-11:00am – Main Room – Short Fiction in the Era of Digital Publishing. My fellow panelists and I will explore the implications of digital publishing on the realm of short fiction. On the panel with me are Daniel Abraham, Suzy M. Charnas, Joan Saberhagen and Josh Gentry.
  • 2:30-3:00pm – DC Comics Salon – 25 Minutes with David Lee Summers. Let me tell you a tale. I’ll give a short reading from my new novel Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. I may also give a quick sneak peak at Lightning Wolves.
  • 5:20-6:30pm – Main Room – Mass Autographing Session. I’ll be there along with all the other Bubonicon authors to sign my books.

Sunday, August 25

  • 1:30-2:30pm – Main Room – What if Humans NEVER Go Into Space Again?. I’ll be moderating this provocative panel exploring what might happen to science fiction writers and humanity in a world where people never go into space again. On the panel with me are Mario Acevedo, Doug Beason, T. Jackson King, and Morgan J. Locke.

If you’re in Albuquerque next weekend, I hope to see you at Bubonicon 45!

Perry and the Apocalypse

On the weekend of August 24-26, I was honored to be one of the participating authors at Bubonicon 44 in Albuquerque. Bubonicon was named by authors Robert E. Vardeman and Roy Tackett as a nod to the occasional outbreaks of Bubonic Plague that happen to this day in Albuquerque’s East Mountain Area. In fact, I gather the year the convention received its name, Egypt had placed restrictions on travel to New Mexico.

The convention’s mascot is Perry Rodent. He is a rat with one shoe who has adventures through time and space. The character is a nod to the German space opera hero Perry Rhodan. Each year, the convention features a Perry Rodent story in the program book. Over the years, these stories have been written by such folks as Daniel Abraham, Melinda Snodgrass, Pati Nagle, Michael A. Stackpole, Jack Williamson, Carrie Vaughn, Mario Acevedo, and Ian Tregillis. This year, I was asked to chronicle Perry’s adventures through time and space. The only guideline I was given was that Perry must lose his shoe at some point during the adventure. I gather Perry first lost his shoe when an artist drew Perry with one shoe and one bare foot.

So, without further ado, here is Perry and the Apocalypse with its illustration courtesy Monica Meehan.


Perry and the Apocalypse
Story by David Lee Summers
Illustration by Monica Meehan

Thwack. Rustle. Crack.

“This isn’t exactly the way I expected to spend my weekend,” said Terri as she brought her machete down on the jungle growth. “It’s the twenty-fifth century. Isn’t there a better way to get through all this foliage?”

“Sure, if you wanted to clear cut the forest or burn it to the ground.” Perry Rodent swung his own machete. “Earth’s a preserve now. The rangers would frown on that.”

Terri scowled. “But do we really have to go all the way to Uaxactún? Couldn’t you look this information up on the ’net or visit a museum or something?”

Perry sighed. “Dr. Ratigan has been measuring fluctuations in the local dark energy levels. As best he can tell, these fluctuations happen on a 394-year cycle, remarkably close to the Mayan B’ak’tun cycle. We’d like to compare his measurements to Mayan observations and predictions. What better way to do that than to come to a Mayan astronomy site?”

“Still, couldn’t we have just brought the shuttle directly here?” Terri swung the machete menacingly close to Perry’s nose.

Peering through the break in the foliage, Perry caught sight of the ancient Mayan ruins. The stalwart rodent pushed through the remaining jungle growth into a clearing and pulled up a map of the site on his wrist comp. Terri came up beside him and, despite her earlier reservations about being dragged through the jungle, stared in awe at the imposing stone pyramids surrounding them and understood why Perry chose a more distant landing site. Perry led the way to one of the temples and grabbed a flashlight from his utility belt.

Terri followed him inside, her nose twitching. “Oh joy, we go from the bug-infested jungle to the mold-infested ruins. Do you see anything?”

Perry nodded and pointed to a series of glyphs on the wall. He scanned the symbols with his wrist comp and called up a translation. “This is a representation of the Mayan Long Count Calendar. Notice how the symbols repeat. They clearly understood cyclical time.”

Terri rolled her eyes. “Yeah, but we knew that. We’re here to study Mayan observations and predictions.”

Perry turned around, his whiskers twitching. “Exactly! Don’t you see, Terri? If they understood cyclical time, they must have understood the mathematics of circles. To understand circles, they needed to understand pi. If they understood pie, then maybe they understood cobblers. If they understood cobblers, then maybe…just maybe, I can learn why my shoes keep falling off.”

“Oh, please.” Terri stepped forward and shone her flashlight at the glyphs. “So what’s that glyph mean?”

Perry consulted his wrist comp. “That was the end the twelfth B’ak’tun—the year 1618. The Mayans predicted a big avalanche. Sure enough, there was a dark energy surge that knocked loose a snow drift and buried an entire Swiss village.”

“So where’s the thirteenth?”

Perry counted out a few glyphs and pointed. “Right there. 2012. Dark energy fluctuations caused earthquakes and floods to sweep the Earth. Rats became the dominant species.” Perry flashed a sharp-toothed grin.

“Wow. Those Mayans were good at making predictions.” Terri nodded in appreciation. “So this goes on for something like what…seven more B’ak’tun cycles.”

“Yeah, twenty B’ak’tuns make a Pictun,” he said distractedly, as he began scanning the older glyphs. “Then the calendar rolls over and starts again. Cyclical time and all that.”

Terri counted out several glyphs. “So this one’s the end of the fourteenth B’aktun, right? What does it mean?”

Perry looked over and blinked. “Oh, that one.” He scanned the glyph with his wrist comp. “That corresponds to the next dark energy fluctuation Ratigan predicted. It seems the Mayans believed a solar flare would devastate the surface of the Earth or some such.”

“When exactly does the fourteenth B’ak’tun cycle come to an end?”

Perry pushed a button on the wrist comp. “About two hours, give or take.”

Perry and Terri looked at each other. “Let’s get the hell out of here!”

Together, they ran from the Mayan temple, doing their best to follow the path they had cut earlier. Perry signaled the Stardust—his vessel in orbit. “Dr. Ratigan, notify the authorities. We need to evacuate the Earth immediately! Ooof!” Perry’s foot landed in a mud bog and he tumbled onto his nose.

Terri helped him back to his feet.

He looked at his boot stuck in the mud. “Oh no, not again.”

Abandoning the shoe, they pushed their way through the jungle until they came to the shuttle. Flicking switches and turning dials, they blasted off and returned to the Stardust. As soon as Perry arrived on the bridge, he ordered the helmsman to warp to a safe distance and activate the holographic viewer. They saw ships loaded with rats leaving the Earth. Dr. Ratigan started a clock counting down at his station. When it reached zero, the lights dimmed and the hummings and chirpings of the computer quieted ominously as a wave of dark energy rolled past the Stardust like a tidal wave passing beneath a ship at sea. A few minutes later, a bright flare erupted on the surface of the sun.

Perry had to wipe away a tear as the solar flare engulfed the Earth. Even though it had become a park and few inhabited it anymore, it was the one place in the universe all rats called home.

“So tell me,” said Terri, with a hand on her hip, “why exactly couldn’t we burn down the forest to get to the temple?”


Hope you enjoyed the story. At the convention, I learned that the glyphs in Monica’s illustration actually have meaning. Her source for the glyphs was: http://www.ancientscripts.com/maya.html. Here’s what it all means:

Bubonicon 2012

I’ll be a participant at Bubonicon in Albuquerque, New Mexico next weekend. It will be held from August 24-26 at the Albuquerque Mariott Uptown at 2100 Louisiana Blvd. NE. The guest of honor is Brandon Sanderson. The toastmaster is Michael Cassutt. The artist guest is Ursula Vernon. The program book will feature my story “Perry and the Apocalypse.” You can get all the details at http://bubonicon.com


Here’s my convention schedule:

    Saturday, August 25

  • 11am in the Main Room, I’m on the panel “Post Apocalyptic Scenarios: SF Looks Past the Collapse.” On the panel with me are Adam Jarmon Brown, John Maddox Roberts, SM Stirling and Laura J. Mixon.
  • 12:30pm in Salon C-D, I will be reading my story “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife” which appeared earlier this year in Cemetery Dance Magazine.
  • 4pm in Salon C-D, I will be moderating the panel “A Plethora of New Planets: Exploration’s Next Step.” On the panel with me are Loretta Hall, Laura J. Mixon and Ian Tregillis.
  • 5:20pm in the Main Room, I’ll be participating in the mass autographing.
  • Sunday, August 26

  • From 1:30 to 3:30, I will be taking tickets for the Author’s Tea. Those tickets will be available during the mass autographing.

Because it looked like there would be a conflict with my day job schedule, Hadrosaur Productions did not purchase a table in the dealer’s room this year. However, Who Else Books has assured me they’ll have my books and copies of Tales of the Talisman Magazine available. If you go to Bubonicon, be sure to visit Ron and Nina at Who Else and support as many of the local authors as you can.

Hope to see you at Bubonicon!