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

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 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:

Lightning Wolves is available at:

In the Trenches

Dave and Bob

As this morning dawns, I’m finishing my first night back at Kitt Peak National Observatory after taking some time off for Bubonicon in Albuquerque and WorldCon in San Antonio. Both conventions were great. Between the two, I got to catch up with many friends and colleagues, and made many new acquaintances. In the photo, you see me with Bob Vardeman, creator of the Empires of Steam and Rust series. He’s encouraging me to write a follow-up to my Revolution of Air and Rust, which I’d very much enjoy.

Just as this convention season kicked off, I received the first round of edits for my latest wild west steampunk novel, Lightning Wolves. My editor is Phyllis Irene Radford, who edited the Gears and Levers anthologies for Sky Warrior Publishing. I’ve been working my way through a new draft based on her notes.

While thinking of Sky Warrior publishing, allow me to share a great writing opportunity. They are assembling an anthology called These Vampires Don’t Sparkle, which is edited by the talented Carol Hightshoe. I sent in a submission. For those who would like to submit, the guidelines are at:

Another thing that happened just as the convention season kicked off was that one of my publishers approached me with a proposal for a new book series. It’s too early to say much about this, but I did work up a detailed outline for the first book while I was in San Antonio and I’ve discussed it with my publisher, who seems enthusiastic. What I can tell you is that if this series goes forward, and it seems likely, is that it will include terror, ghosts, southwestern lore, and even some astronomy. Stay tuned!

In addition to writing, I’m also finishing up Tales of the Talisman volume 9, issue 1. The last illustration was turned in tonight and I’m in the throes of proofreading. The issue will be going to press by the week of September 22. Once that’s printing, I’ll be moving right into issues 2 and 3.

The Alamo

Of course, while I was in San Antonio, I had to visit the Alamo. I’m distantly related to Davy Crockett, and it was moving to see where he made his last stand. With all that’s going on in my life, it’s hard not to feel a little like a soldier in the trenches. However, I feel like I’m a long way from any last stands. This seems like a good juncture to say thanks to all those readers who have joined me on the ride so far. I hope you’re looking forward to what comes next as much as I am!

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 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: 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

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!