Podcasting about Astronomy, Steampunk and More

This weekend finds me at Wild Wild West Con, which is being held at Old Tucson Studios just outside Tucson, Arizona. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll make time to join us. We’re having an amazing time. You can get more information about the convention at https://www.wildwestcon.com/

In the run-up to the convention, I was interviewed on the podcast, Madame Perry’s Salon. Madame Perry is a little like Barbara Eden’s character in I Dream of Jeannie. After a lead in from Captain Kirk and Mr. Sulu, she invited me to sit on the cushions in her genie’s bottle. We discussed how reading Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love and John Nichols’ The Magic Journey while thinking about the story of my mom’s family set me on the path to writing my first novel The Pirates of Sufiro. We also talked about how working at an observatory and making discoveries in the late twentieth century using nineteenth century instrumentation was an important inspiration for my steampunk writing. Madame Perry asked some great questions. We also had a listener question and a visit from Wild Wild West Con’s programming director James Breen. You can listen to the entire show at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/madameperryssalon/2019/02/28/author-and-astronomer-david-lee-summers-visits-madame-perrys-salon

While you’re at the site, be sure to navigate up to Madame Perry’s main page. In other episodes, she interviews several other Wild Wild West Con featured artists as well, including cosplayer Tayliss Forge, maker Tobias McCurry, and musical guest Professor Elemental among others. If you can’t make it to the convention, the podcast is a great way to get to know some of the people attending. If you were able to make it Wild Wild West Con, you can listen and learn even more about those of us in attendance!

As it turns out, Madame Perry’s Salon wasn’t the only podcast I visited recently to speak about Victorian astronomy. A while back Jeff Davis invited me to speak on his show about something called the Carrington Event. In effect this was a massive solar storm in 1859 that resulted in a coronal mass ejection hitting the Earth head on sparking electrical disruption through telegraph lines, triggering auroras and making compasses go crazy. I had to admit that I didn’t know much about the Carrington Event, but Jeff recommended I read a great book called The Sun Kings by Stuart Clark.

The Sun Kings told the story of the Carrington Event and how solar observations in the nineteenth century contributed to the rise of modern astrophysics. Among other things, it discussed the advent of astrophotography and spectroscopy and how astronomers began to notice commonalities between the sun and other stars. This really gets to the root of work I’ve done studying RS CVn stars, which are sun-type binary systems where one or both of the stars have massive spots. It also ties into my work at Kitt Peak where I routinely support spectrographic observations.

Jeff’s show is on the Paranormal UK Radio Network. Despite the network title, we didn’t really get into the paranormal, even though the subject does fascinate me. You can listen to my discussion with Jeff at: http://paranormalukradio.podbean.com/

Galactic Steampunk Federation

It’s hard to believe, but Wild Wild West Con 8 is just around the corner. I will be returning to the convention as a panelist and a vendor. The convention is primarily held at Old Tucson Studios outside of Tucson, Arizona. These are the studios where such famous westerns as John Wayne’s Rio Bravo and the original 3:10 to Yuma with Glenn Ford were filmed. Special guests this year include numerous steampunk builders and costumers who will be showing off their craft. Madame Askew and the Grand Arbiter will be holding court over such events as tea dueling and teapot racing. The featured musical guest is Professor Elemental. I am also pleased to note that Hadrosaur Productions authors and artists such as David B. Riley, Laura Givens, and David Drake will also be on hand. You can get more information about the convention at http://wildwestcon.com

I’m also very excited about this year’s theme: The Galactic Steampunk Federation. It encompasses much of my work from my astronomy to my space opera with a space western flavor in addition to my steampunk and you’ll see that reflected in this year’s schedule.

My schedule at the event is as follows. Of course this is subject to change, and I’ll attempt to update this as a result of last-minute shuffling, but, as always, if you’re at the event be sure to check your program books for the official schedule.

Friday, March 8

  • 11am-Noon. Chapel. Drake and McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing. The authors of “The Adventures of Drake & McTrowell” will lead two guest authors and the audience in a madcap improvisational writing game show. Rumor has it, I will be there as a “celebrity” guest contestant.
  • Noon-1pm. Arizona Theater. Victorian Astronomy – How the Universe Changed Through Time. The Victorian age was a time when people were getting to know the planets in our solar system as places and beginning to explore them with telescopes. Astronomers were getting a better idea of what stars were made of and got the first clues that galaxies were made of stars. A look at how our conception of the universe changed.
  • 4pm. Panel Tent. Weird Westerns: The Greatest Genre Nobody Ever Heard Of. David B. Riley will lead this panel discussion introducing weird western fiction and present some recommendations for good stuff to read. I’ll be joining him to contribute my two cents.

Saturday, March 9

  • Noon-1pm. Chapel. Victorian Science and Science Fiction. Paleontology, astronomy, engineering, and biology all made great strides in the Victorian age. How did these sciences influence the rise of writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells? What other lesser known authors are worth seeking out? On the panel with me are David B. Riley, CI Erasmus P. Drake and Dr. Sparky McTrowell.

Sunday, March 10

  • 1pm-2pm. Chapel. Space Cowboys! Many steampunks embrace the idea of the space cowboy. Where did the idea come from? How are space opera and steampunk different? How far can we stretch the idea of the space cowboy before it’s no longer “retro” future and just plain future? On the panel with me are CI Erasmus P. Drake and Robert E. Vardeman.
  • 3pm-4pm. Meet and Greet at the Aristocrat’s Lounge. An opportunity to come meet me and join in informal discussion. At this point, the plan is that Drake and McTrowell plan to join in the fun as well. Sock puppets may be involved.

When I’m not at these events, I’ll be at the Hadrosaur Productions Booth in the Stage 2 Vendor’s Barn where we’ll have copies of my books, including my newest, Firebrandt’s Legacy, David B. Riley’s Fallen Angel, and also Legends of the Dragon Cowboys by David B. Riley and Laura Givens. We’re sharing the booth with CI Erasmus P. Drake and Dr. Sparky McTrowell whose own “Adventures of Drake and McTrowell are outstanding and worth reading as well. So, saddle up and head out to Old Tucson next weekend as your first stop to explore the Galactic Steampunk Federation!

Wild Wild West Con 2018

It’s time once again for Wild Wild West Con, which has grown into one of the largest, regular steampunk conventions in the United States. I will be there giving presentations, running a workshop, and on panels. I will be vending in the Stage 2 Dealer’s Area with the ever fabulous Chief Inspector Erasmus Drake and Dr. Sparky McTrowell.

This year’s Saturday night concert features DEVM and Abney Park. There will be tea dueling, make and take workshops, fun activities for kids, plus all the regular attractions of Old Tucson Studios. Old Tucson is the place where many famous western films were made including Rio Bravo, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Tombstone. It’s fabulous to see these famous western sets occupied by people in steampunk attire. It always gives me another year of steampunk inspiration.

I will be at Wild Wild West Con all three days. My schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 2

    2pm – Steampunk Authors – Panel Tent. The authors of Wild Wild West Con will gather to discuss their experiences, the state of the genre, and how you can succeed as a Steampunk author. Diesel Jester and I will be there for sure. We’ll see who else we can round up to share the stage with us!

Saturday, March 3

    11am – Robots are from Mars. Dinosaurs are from Venus – Courtroom Center. This presentation is a look at the astronomy of the Victorian era, what people thought life on alien planets was like, and how it influenced the science fiction of the day, and perhaps introduce you to some authors you’ve never heard of before!

    2pm – Meet and Greet – Aristocrat Lounge. Diesel Jester and I are scheduled for an author meet and greet, open to those folks who purchased Aristocrat tickets to the convention. It’s a great chance to sit down, have a cool drink, and ask us questions. Who knows? Maybe you can persuade us to read something to you!

Sunday, March 4

    12pm – Dinosaurs and Robots in Verse – Chapel. I will be leading a poetry workshop. I have a few exercises and fun prompts that will let you create your own poems about steampunk robots, dinosaurs and more. Also, I will note that poems created at these workshops have gone on to achieve publication.

Also at the convention this year will be Hadrosaur Productions author David B. Riley who will be presenting several panels. His book Legends of the Dragon Cowboys will be available at our table.

Wild Wild West Con is being held in Tucson at Old Tucson Studios during the day and at the Doubletree Hotel, Tucson Airport this Friday through Sunday, March 2-4, 2018. For more information about the convention, visit http://wildwestcon.com

Wild Wild West Con 5

Next weekend, I’m honored to be a guest at Wild Wild West Con 5 held at Old Tucson Studios just outside Tucson, Arizona from March 4-6, 2016. Click on the link above for more details. This year’s theme is Journey Around the World. Among the honored guests are Steam Powered Giraffe, Thomas Willeford, Unwoman, Kato, Aiden Sinclair and many more. Below is my schedule for the event.

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Friday, March 4

  • 2pm – Wagon Stage – History Meets Fiction. Join me for a special multi-cultural steampunk reading. I’ll present accounts of New Mexico witches and Japanese spirits, then share sections from my novels these stories inspired.

Saturday, March 5

  • 2pm – Arizona Theater – The Wild West: Real and Mythical. A look at the real West vs the West that Hollywood has given us with an emphasis on Native American, Latin American, and Asian cultural contributions and influences. Joining me on the panel will be David Grasse, Julia Arriola, and Mark Cantwell.
  • 5pm – Sheriff’s Office – Astronomy Around the World. People all around the world have looked up at the stars. I’ll you to such places as Ecuador, Korea, and the Middle East to see how astronomy changed the world and perhaps provide some inspiration for new types of steampunk stories and gadgets

Sunday, March 6

  • 11am – Courtroom Central – Multicultural Steampunk Literature. The ever delightful Madame Askew and I will lead a discussion of steampunk books set in other cultures. Who does their homework and presents the most interesting insights into parts of the world that aren’t just Victorian England or the Wild West?

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When I’m not on panels, you’ll be able to find me over at the Stage 2 Vendor Area at one of the artist tables. This event is particularly special because it also is my debut signing for The Brazen Shark. If you already have a copy, be sure to bring it by for me to sign it. If you don’t have a copy yet, never fear, I’ll have plenty of copies available for sale.

Wild Wild West Con 4

The Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention 4 will be held in Tucson, Arizona from March 6-8, 2015 at Old Tucson Studios. In 2014, it received the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award for Best Steampunk Convention in the Southwest. I’m honored to be one of the featured guests alongside such people as Abney Park, Steam Powered Giraffe, Drake and McTrowell, Brian Kesinger, Thomas Willeford, Eric Burton, and David Grasse. Visit www.wildwestcon.com for more information.

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I’ll be giving several panels and workshops over the weekend. Here’s my schedule:

Friday, March 6

  • 1:00 HIGH CHAPARRAL: Victorians and the Paranormal – Ghosts, séances, vampires, you name it, the Victorians probably believed in it. An exploration of Victorian encounters with the dead.
  • 5:00 COURTROOM CENTER: Building a Steampunk Telescope – I show you how to build a telescope that’s not only fashionable, but functional and easy to use. I present tips on where to buy optics and detailed construction information.

Saturday, March 7

  • 12:00 CHAPEL: Steampunk Flash Fiction – Compose an entire story of 200 words or less? Surely it can’t be done! I presents a make and take workshop where you compose a very short steampunk tale.
  • 3:00 COURTHOUSE: Drake and McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing. The authors of Drake & McTrowell will lead two guest authors (of which I will be one) and the audience in a madcap improvisational writing game show reminiscent of their signature “Hot Potato” team writing style.
  • 5:00 HIGH CHAPARRAL: Writing Steampunk – Steampunk writers gather to discuss the research that goes into their writing, what makes Steampunk special to them, and how they get their work published. With me on the panel are David Grasse and Stephen Chapman.

When I’m not giving a presentation, you can find me in the Vendor Barn sharing a table with Dr. Sparky McTrowell and Chief Inspector Erasmus Drake. I’ll have all of my steampunk books, plus an assortment of other fun reading materials. Be sure to stop by and say “hi!”