G.O. Clark’s Collection of Robot Poetry

A few days ago, I received a collection of poetry in the mail from long-time Tales of the Talisman contributor, G.O. Clark. built-to-serve-g-o-clark-200x300 It was a copy of his new poetry collection, Built to Serve. In this collection, Clark tackles the subject of robots from many different angles. Of course, robots are no longer just the stuff of science fiction, they’re part of our every day world. I started my astronomy career working with a robotic telescope and over the course of my career, I’ve seen automation make many aspects of astronomical observation more efficient. I’ve long thought about artificial intelligence and my daughter recently took a college course in machine learning, which led to some interesting discussions. What’s more, writers have long used robots as metaphors for low wage workers or even slaves.

Clark’s collection takes a look at robots from both the practical and metaphorical angles. He starts the collection in an almost steampunk alternate reality and imagines robots of the past moving forward into futures of obsolescence, much as humans do in life. As he notes in “The Steam-Powered Robot”:

    Funny thing about the future,
    it never waits for anyone. His mainspring
    driven moment slipped away: old iron
    bones recycled for a newer model.

Clark compares and contrasts the sensations robots might experience to those of humans. He also imagines how humans might themselves go against the spirit of Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics and use robots to hunt down other humans. In a familiar science fiction trope, Clark imagines robots transforming the world into a better place, which doesn’t always go so well for the humans who created them.

C;arl reminds us that many of our first encounters with robots are with toys and he looks at those encounters with both fondness and terror. Some of the robots he introduces us to are toys of the more adult variety, but even they can induce nightmares such as the lady robot in this poem:

    Heading back towards the
    closet, she deftly unzips, then
    steps out of her perfect tan skin and
    hangs it upon a custom hanger.

It’s true Clark covers many familiar robot tropes, but he does it well and often times he gives those tropes fresh twists. Moreover, he looks at humanity through the eyes of robots and helps us understand more about ourselves. This is a collection well worth seeking out. You can find copies at the Alban Lake Store and at Smashwords.

Kepler’s Cowboys Available for Pre-order

I’m pleased to announce that the latest anthology from Hadrosaur Productions, Kepler’s Cowboys is now available for pre-order. Ebook copies will be delivered on March 1. The plan is that we will ship the paperbacks by March 1 as well. Here are the details about the book.

keplers-cowboys-display NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered thousands of new planets.
Visiting, much less settling, those worlds will provide innumerable challenges.
The men and women who make the journey will be those who don’t fear the odds.
They’ll be Kepler’s Cowboys.

Saddle up and take an unforgettable journey to distant star systems. Meet new life forms—some willing to be your friend and others who will see you as the invader. Fight for justice in a lawless frontier. Go on a quest for a few dollars more. David Lee Summers, author of the popular Clockwork Legion novels, and Steve B. Howell, head of the Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division at NASA Ames Research Center, have edited this exciting, fun, and rollicking anthology of fourteen stories and five poems by such authors as Patrick Thomas, Jaleta Clegg, Anthony R. Cardno, L.J. Bonham, and many more!

Here are the complete list of stories, poems, and authors you’ll find in the anthology:

  • Introduction by Steve B. Howell and David Lee Summers
  • Step Right Up by Louise Webster
  • Pele’s Gift by Gene Mederos
  • Over the Ridge by Terrie Leigh Relf
  • Chasing May by Anthony R. Cardno
  • Aperture Shudder by Jesse Bosh
  • Voyage to the Water World by Livia Finucci
  • The Silent Giants by Simon Bleaken
  • Calamari Rodeo by David Lee Summers
  • Tears for Terra by J.A. Campbell and Rebecca McFarland
  • Kismet Kate by Neal Wilgus
  • Carbon Copies by David L. Drake
  • Assembler by Doug Williams
  • Twin Suns of the Mushroom Kingdom by Jaleta Clegg
  • Point of View by Lauren McBride
  • A Very Public Hanging by L.J. Bonham
  • The Outlaw from Aran by Vaughn Wright
  • The Misery of Gold by Steve B. Howell
  • Backstabbers and Sidewinders by Patrick Thomas
  • Forsaken by the God-Star by Gary W. Davis
  • About the Authors

I’m really excited about this new collection. When we published A Kepler’s Dozen back in 2013, we were just beginning to comprehend the vast array of planets that exist outside our solar system. Four years later, we’ve unleashed a talented group of authors on this literal sandbox of alien worlds to see where they took us. This collection was a real delight to edit. We explore water worlds, terrestrial worlds, and gas giants. Our “cowboys” range from folks who would be at home in a western movie to machines that learn to think for themselves. We travel to alien worlds and even have an alien from a Kepler world travel to Earth in the 1800s.

You can pre-order ebook copies of Kepler’s Cowboys at Amazon and Smashwords.

You can pre-order the paperback of Kepler’s Cowboys at Hadrosaur Productions for a special discounted price of $12.95 until March 1.

Steampunk Award and Poem

This week finds me hard at work on book four of my Clockwork Legion steampunk series, Owl Riders. The novel is set about eight years after the events of The Brazen Shark and takes a look at how the world has changed after the events of the first three books of the series. In Chapter One of Owl Riders, we learn that Ramon and Fatemeh now live in New Orleans with their young daughter. Meanwhile, back in Arizona, Geronimo has captured a large swath of territory using battle wagons suspiciously similar to Professor Maravilla’s javelina mining machine captured by Curly Billy Bresnahan in Lightning Wolves.

I’ve had some great motivation getting started on the new novel this week. novelsteam-2016 On Monday, I learned The Brazen Shark was voted Best Steampunk Novel in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll run annually at Critters.org, a critique and workshop site founded by Dr. Andrew Burt, a former vice president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. I’m deeply touched by the award and would like to thank everyone who voted for The Brazen Shark. For those who have not read the novel yet, you can get copies at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. An omnibus edition of the Clockwork Legion books written to date is available at Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

As it turns out, “The Steam-Powered Dragon” from the Gaslight and Grimm was in the running for best steampunk short story. Although it didn’t win, it was a top-ten finisher. Of interest, the story that did win the category was “The Complications of Avery Vane” by my friend Bryce Raffle, which appears in Den of Antiquity, another anthology I’m in! You can learn about both anthologies by visiting my short story page.

For a little steampunkery you can read right now for free, go visit the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s online zine Eye to the Telescope. The January 2017 issue, which is available as of this writing includes my poem “The Medicine Show.” I wrote the first draft of this poem when I gave a poetry work at Tucson’s Wild Wild West Con in 2015. The theme of the issue is robots and explores that idea from many angles. In addition to my poem, you’ll find works by Tales of the Talisman contributors F.J. Bergmann, Beth Cato, Mary Soon Lee, and G.O. Clark. I was also excited to see that my poem is followed by a poem by one of my heroes, the extremely talented Jane Yolen.

Tales of the Talisman – Autumn 2014

Admittedly winter is almost upon us according to the calendar, but we still have a couple weeks of autumn left and I’ve been working hard this past week to finish the Autumn 2014 issue of Tales of the Talisman Magazine. Tales 10-2 cover The issue has something of a mad science vibe with stories of elder gods manipulating the Large Hadron Collider to break through to our world and Thomas Edison working to contact the dead. We also meet nineteenth century scientists working on the first artificial heart and we see a world where the wealthy reenact early space flights.

There are plenty of other stories as well, including the tale of a man who seeks King Arthur’s grave to implore the once and future monarch to rise and save the world. A doctor visits a village in Mongolia only to encounter terrifying magic. Another man peels up the corner of the world to reveal the elephants underneath. Of course, the issue itself is supported and enhanced by wonderful speculative poetry and terrific illustrations. I hope to send the issue to press sometime in the week of December 14. My guess is we’ll be shipping it out early in 2015. Please watch for it to appear at TalesOfTheTalisman.com and support the fine work of the authors and artists who have made this issue possible.

I suspect most people have heard by now that Tales of the Talisman will be going on indefinite hiatus. I thought I would take this opportunity answer some questions I’ve received about our break from the magazine.


Why are you going on hiatus?

In short, both Art Director Laura Givens and I have a lot of new, exciting opportunities on our plates and we could use more time to focus on them. I am contracted to deliver two novels to Sky Warrior Publishing in the next eighteen months. I will start working with my editor on a third novel for Lachesis Publishing early in 2015 and I have several other projects both personal and professional that have long been on the back burner simply due to lack of time.

By my estimate, I spend about 4.5 months of my year working at Kitt Peak. This is pretty much on par with an ordinary eight-hour per day, five-day per week job. Tales of the Talisman requires about 4 months of my year. That leaves about 3.5 months to do everything else, which has included writing a novel roughly every other year, multiple short stories, and attending conventions to promote my work.

In 1995, I assembled a small anthology called Hadrosaur Tales. That soon grew into a magazine, which I edited until 2005. At that point, in consultation with several people, we decided to take the magazine to the next level and add illustrations and give the stories the presentation they deserve. This became Tales of the Talisman.

For most of those twenty years, Hadrosaur Tales and then Tales of the Talisman supported themselves. However, they neither made me nor any of their contributors a living, much less making us rich. I have been delighted to have seen all the stories and poems that have come in to Tales of the Talisman and Hadrosaur Tales over the last twenty years, but I also felt like twenty years marked a good point to take a break and pursue other opportunities while I consider the next, best way for Hadrosaur Productions to present short fiction


When will Tales of the Talisman come back?

The most straightforward answer is, I don’t know. In short, deadlines are upon me for some of the projects I’ve mentioned above, plus I’m still spending time working on getting the final issues of Tales to press. I simply haven’t had time to consider that question. I plan to have a more definitive answer by the end of 2015.


Will Tales of the Talisman come back?

I’m not entirely certain, at least as it exists in its present form. Hadrosaur Productions, the company that publishes Tales of the Talisman remains committed to presenting great short speculative fiction. What we have to consider is whether the magazine is the best, most cost and time-effective way to do that. I have been considering other options, including an annual or semi-annual anthology, which might allow for quicker ebook conversion and easier distribution.


How long will Tales of the Talisman be published?

We have purchased stories through the spring 2015 issue. So, including the one that’s about to go to press, we have three issues to go. The artists are currently working on the winter issue, so I hope it will be released well before the spring winds start blowing here in New Mexico. We have all the material we need to fill those issues, so there will be no further reading periods until such time as we start up again, in whatever form that happens.


How will subscriptions be handled that extend past the last issue?

We don’t have many of those at this point. If you are one of those subscribers, I’ll contact you after we ship the final issue and find out if you want a refund for the balance of your subscription or if you’d like a product from the Hadrosaur Productions catalog for the value of the subscription.


If you have a question that I haven’t covered, feel free to ask in the comments. I want to thank all those people who have supported Tales of the Talisman and Hadrosaur Tales over the years. I ask that you continue to support my work and growth as a writer in the coming months. I hope that growing as a writer will help me grow as an editor as well. When we come back—in whatever form that is—I want the short fiction and poetry venue of Hadrosaur Productions to be a strong, vibrant home for the best voices in speculative fiction. My goal for this hiatus is to grow so that the material I choose and guide remains on that cutting edge. Please visit davidleesummers.com, browse my books and sign up for my newsletter.

Phoenix Comicon 2014

Dave-Comicon-2013

Phoenix Comicon will be held June 5-8, 2014 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Guests include Stan Lee, Bruce Campbell, Nathan Fillion, Adam West, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, and many many more. Once again, I’m honored and humbled to be there among such a great lineup. You can get all the details about the event at phoenixcomicon.com.

I’m doing a mix of science, steampunk, and poetry programming. Here’s my schedule as I know it. I’ll update this as it evolves and be sure to check in at the event for any last-minute updates. I expect to be on hand for the entire event. When I’m not at a scheduled event, look for me at booth 2429 in the exhibitor area.

Friday, June 6

  • 1:00-2:30pm – Signing – AZSPS/WWWC Exhibit. I’ll be hanging out with the Arizona Steampunk Society for a little while on Friday to talk about my steampunk books and sign them. I expect to have copies of the new edition of Owl Dance on hand and hopefully some news about Lightning Wolves.
  • 6:00-7:00pm – Celebrity Nerd Poets – North 127ab. Just how does one become a “Celebrity Nerd Poet”? Come on out and ask the Celebrity Nerd Poetry slam judges that very question. They’ll talk about their writing, the history, the local community, and poetry slams.
  • 7:30-8:30pm – Nerd Poetry Slam – North 127ab. Tthe Nerd Poetry Slam provides everyone the opportunity to share their love of pop culture in verse. Hosted by The Klute, everyone is encouraged to write a poem.
  • 9:00-10:00pm – Future Exploration – North 124a. What missions does NASA have planned for the near and far future?

Saturday, June 7

  • 10:30-11:30am – Science Fiction and Fantasy Poets – 127c. Join this panel of science fiction and fantasy poets for some samples of their poetry and discussion of the craft.
  • 1:00-2:30pm – Signing – AZSPS/WWWC Exhibit. I’ll be hanging out with the Arizona Steampunk Society for a little while on Saturday to talk about my steampunk books and sign them.
  • 7:30-8:30pm – Careers in Science – North 122ab. For those aspiring to have a career in science, technology, engineering, or math, advice on schooling, the outlook on career opportunities, and what life in those fields can be like.
  • 8:30-11:00pm – Drinks With Authors – Salon 5-8. Join many of the convention’s author guests for a glass or two in an informal setting. There will be door prizes and other giveaways from our participating publishers.

Sunday, June 8

  • 12:00-1:00pm – Crowdsourced Science – North 124b. Want to search for exoplanets? Discover cures for diseases? Look for alien signals? Believe it or not, these are real scientific endeavors that you can participate in! Learn how!
  • 1:30-2:30pm – Signing – AZSPS/WWWC Exhibit. I’ll be hanging out at the Arizona Steampunk Society Exhibit for a little while on Sunday to talk about my steampunk books and sign them.

Halloween Short Stories and Poems

Talisman 9-1 Cover

Subscriber and contributor copies of Tales of the Talisman volume 9, issue 1 have now been shipped out. It occurs to me this is a great issue for Halloween. Christian Martin’s story “Sabotaged” is a scary psychological thriller set aboard a space station. Davyne DeSye’s “…I Win” is a stylish and Gothic look at Death. C.J. Henderson delivers a chillingly twisted Cthulhu mythos tale. These along with many of the stories in the issue make it a good issue to curl up with this autumn. Of course each issue is lavishly illustrated by such artists as Tom Kelly, Laura Givens, Kathy Ferrell and Jag Lall. Between the stories you’ll find blood curdling poems by such folks as Marge Simon, Charles Templeton, and Noel Sloboda. Issues are now available at TalesOfTheTalisman.com and at Amazon.com.

While on the subject of spooky poetry, you should drop by the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s On-Line Halloween Poetry Reading at http://www.sfpoetry.com/halloween.html. There you’ll find recordings of some great speculative poets reading scary Halloween poems absolutely free.

Space Horrors

If you prefer that your horrors come from beyond the Earth, be sure to check out the anthology Space Horrors published by Flying Pen Press. In this collection, you’ll find tales of vampires, zombies and alien menaces among the stars by such Lee Clark Zumpe, Sarah A. Hoyt, Selena Rosen, Dayton Ward, and more. My understanding is that the first edition will be going out of print at the end of the year, so this is a great time to grab the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I’ll be starting discussions with the authors soon about a second edition. If all goes well, that should be available by next Halloween.

Hope you’ll check some of these out. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you’re reading this Halloween season.

MileHiCon 45

The last two weeks have been busy ones. At Kitt Peak National Observatory, I supported observations of the supernova remnant Cas A and I got to see the inner workings of the new KOSMOS spectrograph that will soon be in regular use at the 4-meter telescope. Once I returned to Las Cruces, I shipped out the summer issue of Tales of the Talisman magazine and then promptly dove into editing the autumn and winter issues. The copyediting for those two issues is now complete and I just sent the stories to the art director for illustration. I also gave my website a new, updated look. If haven’t already, go check it out at davidleesummers.com.

Cloud Lab Airship

One fun thing that happened this past week was that I spotted the Cloud Lab airship outside my back door. It’s part of a venture sponsored by BBC Two. The blimp is ferrying a team of British scientists across the United States from Orlando, Florida to Big Sur, California, studying insect life, bats, and the relationship between these ecosystems and the weather.

This upcoming week, I have four days at Kitt Peak followed by a trip to Denver, Colorado for MileHiCon 45. Unfortunately, my work schedule keeps me from getting there before Saturday, but I’m looking forward to seeing my friends in Denver. I had to miss last year’s MileHiCon altogether. You can get all the details about the convention at the MileHiCon Website. Without further ado, here’s my schedule for the convention:


Saturday, October 19

  • 1-2pm – Poetry Fantastique – Wind River A. This is MileHiCon’s annual poetry reading/slam/discussion. At the reading with me are Catherynne M. Valente, Stace Johnson, Gail Barton, Laura K. Deal, Robin M. Ambrozic, and perhaps even more!
  • 3-4pm – Discovering New Worlds – Wind River A. This is my presentation about how exoplanets are discovered and what we’re learning about them. Things are changing so quickly in this field, I learn new things every time I prepare and update this talk for a new audience.
  • 4-5pm – Eating Outside the Mainstream – Wind River A. This is a panel discussing the challenges of living with imposed dietary restrictions. My daughters have a number of food allergies and I’ll be happy to share the ways we’ve learned to cope and prosper. I look forward to getting some good tips from my fellow panelists, who include Dana Bell, Vivian Caethe, and Tim Simpson.


Sunday, October 20

  • 10-11am – Author Reading – Mesa Verde C. I’ll read an excerpt from my novella Revolution of Air and Rust which was just reviewed at SF Site last week. Also reading during that hour will be James Van Pelt.
  • 1-2pm – Was Frankenstein a Zombie? – Mesa Verda A. I’m moderating this panel that discusses what makes a zombie and what makes a zombie scary. On the panel with me are Paolo Bacigalupi, Selena Chambers, Stant Litore, and Stan Yan.

If you’re in Denver the weekend of October 19 and 20, I hope to see you at MileHiCon!