Category Archives: Weirdness

What I did this weekend

Well, the most visible and impressive thing was this, which took two hours in the summer heat and was very, very hard. (Actually, it was surprisingly not bad and easier than the instructions made it out to be.)

Yes, we’re going to raise chickens. We have three, in fact: Molly, Diane and Genevieve. They’re a week old and, of course, super-cute.

So now we have a chicken coop, which is really more like a condo and one that’s substantially better than my first apartment. Or my first car, for that matter.

The other cool thing was my chat with the Science Fiction Association of Bergen County at the Hackensack Barnes & Noble. It was a most excellent and engaging crowd — and it was a crowd, which is always heartening. My bit started at 8 p.m., and we didn’t break up until after 10:30. Great questions, great audience.

And by the way, there are signed copies of The Venusian Gambit at that Barnes & Noble now — get ’em while they’re hot!

Finally, I did get some writing done. Writing what, you ask? Something you may hear about soon.


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Filed under Events, Weirdness

April Foolery: The Silmarillion gets punk’d on Skiffy & Fanty

When Shaun Duke over at Skiffy & Fanty asked me to do an April Fool’s Day guest blog, I admit I had a hard time coming up with something that would be both funny and (remotely) plausible, with the former taking precedence over the latter.

Then I watched The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Narratives…er Armies…and the pieces fell into place. All I had to do is get my former AP newsman groove back on, and off I went. The results are here; I hope you find them amusing.

I wrote detailed reviews of both An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug here on the blog, but I haven’t the heart to do the same with Five Armies. I absolutely loved the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I think it holds up exceptionally well a decade later. I cannot say the same for the Hobbit films. The first wasn’t that great, the second was pretty good…

…and the most recent was a mess, I’m sorry to say. And there’s little more, I think, that I could add to the conversation beyond that. Others have already done a much better job of it.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the S&F tom-foolery today. I’m going to go re-watch Fellowship of the Ring now.

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Filed under Geek, Weirdness, Writing

The strange dissonance of having one’s email hacked

I was driving up to the Catskills for an overnight with the family when, apparently, my email started spewing spam. I didn’t get into range of a wi-fi until several minutes passed, at which time I was greeted with 95 “mail undeliverable” notices and many tweets, of which these two were the first:

Hoo boy.

Naturally, I changed my password on the spot, but roughly 45 emails were sent to 300+ recipients. (Obviously, there were a fair number of old addresses in there.) The emails contained links to various sites, none of which I clicked on. Later that evening, I sent emails to those affected to urge them not to click on said links. Ideally, they’ll also retrieve my email address from the doomed depths of the spam folder.

The emails themselves were pretty dumb. They were a link and a silly quote and…that’s it. Of course, each email was sent to several recipients, meaning that private email addresses from authors were mixed in with my mortgage lender, my friends from college and a number of fine customer service folks from places like United, the Gap and DharmaCrafts. (What? I contain multitudes, yo.)

Email is, in a way, an extension of my voice, and it was dissonant to see someone else pulling those strings. No, I’m not saying I’m lost without my email, because I rather enjoy being unplugged when I can swing it. But it’s one of my chief ways of talking to other people these days, and having someone come in and send crap around in my name is just strange. I don’t feel violated or anything because, well, I have some perspective on my life. But it was weird. 

Thankfully, most folks saw right through it and recognized it as spam, including this Twitter correspondent:

I like Scott.

Anyway, you can learn from my mistakes. For one, I hadn’t changed my password on my email account since 2010 — and even then, I think all I did was to add a digit or two. It was stupid-simple, and in retrospect, I’m surprised it went as long as it did without getting compromised. So switch up your passwords.

I also turned on Google’s two-step authentication. Now, when I log in from computers not my own, it’ll require a code sent to my phone. At first I’m all like, “What a pain in the ass.” But I quickly realized that A) I always have my phone on me, and B) I just got hacked, so shut up. Two-step authentication for the win. I also created a unique email password for my phone, too. So that’s good.

Lots of folks suggested a variety of ways and systems to keep passwords secure and squared away, and I’ll be checking those out as well. I’ll also be keeping an eye on my bank account and credit history for a while, because while I’m fairly careful about transmitting such things via email, who knows what tidbits someone might glean?

Anyway, it’s a relatively minor annoyance for now. I reached out to folks to apologize and correct, and that’s that. If you got one from me, I’m sorry about that and I’ve tightened up my security. I’m doubly sorry about the private email addresses that got broadcast, and doubly appreciative how much folks have been understanding and helpful. Thanks to Wes and John and about a dozen others who were quick to notify me. You guys rock.



Filed under Technology, Weirdness

“Her Majesty’s Elopus” – A GISHWHES short story

I’ve been slowly getting back to the writing life after several weeks away, and enjoyed a rather unusual jump-start this past week, courtesy of an even more unusual source.

I received an e-mail from someone named Deborah Margarella with the subject line: “Scavenger Hunt!” She was indeed involved in a scavenger hunt, as advertised, and one of the items was:

Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England, and an Elopus.

This was quickly followed by several more e-mails from other hunters, asking for the same thing, which made me believe that this was not simply random weirdness, but a very deliberate weirdness. What was this hunt? Who’s Misha? And what the heck is an Elopus?

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Filed under Charity, Weirdness, Writing

It’s Saturday night, my daughter has a sleepover, and this is what we do

So my 9-year-old daughter is having a sleepover with a friend tonight, and just as I finished work on The Venusian Gambit for the evening, I was asked to participate in an impromptu carnival. Because I successfully ran a gamut of homemade carnival games (such as throwing a clementine into a shoe), my prize was being the star of my own video, blindingly enhanced by a very colorful iPad app.

Enjoy the show. I’m going to go wash the glitter out of my hair.


Yes, it ends abruptly, but I think that was a creative-team decision. Or they got bored with it. Anyway, the other prize was this:

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Angry raccoon meets walking plant…I’m in!

I’m not one to post random bits of pop-culture flotsam and jetsam on the blog, but this…this…this is too much fun to resist. This is the trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie, coming out this summer.

I only have passing familiarity with the Guardians, and never delved into the comic books themselves. So what do we have here? An ambulatory plant, a gun-toting raccoon, a huge bunch of spaceships and explosions, and a cast that includes Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou and John C. Reilly.

This looks like epic space opera with a wonderfully comedic tone. I daresay Marvel will be getting a few bucks from me this summer. Watch for yourself (and enjoy the music, too):

The good folks at io9 have a primer on what you just saw here, which may help make sense of this glorious mess.

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Filed under Geek, Weirdness

Civilian Reader interview, plus more events!

Stefan over at Civilian Reader has an eclectic mix of genre stuff on his site, all of which is fun and awesome. He has great taste, which makes me doubly excited to be interviewed there today. There’s some new tidbits in there, so be sure to surf on over and check it out.

Meantime, if you look on the right hand side of this page, you’ll see there’s been some changes to the events calendar. It seems that the audiobook of The Daedalus Incident will now release the same day as print, on August 13. On the bright side, I’ve seen that if you’ve already purchased the Kindle version, Amazon may cut you a deal on the audiobook. (For me, it’s showing $3.99, which is a steal.) Something to think about, folks…!

I’ve also added a reading at Singularity & Co. in September, arranged by the good folks at Skyhorse. Singularity is a great bookstore, dedicated to all things SF/F. It’s fun to visit, so be sure to come out and see me!

And remember to RSVP for my virtual reading and Q&A on Wednesday, July 24, at 9 p.m. EDT. It’s free to participate, and if you show up, I’ll drop a brand new excerpt of The Daedalus Incident on you. I may even talk about what comes next, since I’ve been writing up a storm this week while on vacation.

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Filed under Books, Publishing, Weirdness

Trick out your iPhone, Star Wars style

“It’s taking forever to download Angry Birds on this thing.”

Let’s face it. I’m a geek. Lord of the Rings (books and films), Star Trek, Firefly…pick one and I will go to town. But I have a real soft spot in my heart for Star Wars. It was my first real experience with science fiction, at the tender age of five, and I’ve been hooked since. There’s no doubt that Star Wars had an influence on my book Spacebuckler — an epic tale in a fantastical setting that harkens back to the mythic hero’s journey.

I take pride in my fandom, and to that end, I decided to trick out the one thing I carry with me 99.9% of the time: my iPhone. And in the spirit of geeking out, I thought I’d share how I did it.

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Filed under Geek, Technology, Weirdness

It’s a contest! Follow me on Twitter and win!

Follow me on Twitter and win! (Button not included.)

That’s right, I’m doing a contest. As part of my NaNoWriMo participation, anyone who’s following me on Twitter by midnight (EST) on Nov. 30, 2011, has a chance to WIN. And it’s not Charlie Sheen-style winning either, which would indicate a mere gloss of confidence thinly masking immense personal loss and self-destruction. There are tangible prizes!

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Filed under Books, NaNoWriMo, Weirdness, Writing

Exploration! Sponsored by…

The modern face of exploration. And marketing.

Talk about corporate synergies. Recently, an underwater archaeological team uncovered famed privateer Henry Morgan’s flagship, the Satisfaction, near Panama. Interestingly enough, this team had run out of money earlier in its survey. Riding to the rescue was…Captain Morgan. Not the three-centuries dead pirate. The rum maker, subsidiary of multinational beverage conglomerate Diageo.

We ascribe a great deal of romance to exploration, with images of sailors scanning the horizon with a glass, or a starship captain peering into the unknown on the viewscreen. But you know what really powers exploration? Profits. Columbus didn’t ship out for China due to a hankering for dim sum. He wanted to find a quicker trade route, and thus reap the rewards from the Spanish crown. Morgan was working for the English crown, which was competing with the Spanish for the spoils of the New World. And let’s remember that the East India Trading Company did plenty of exploring — and exploiting — in its 275-year, highly profitable history. Continue reading

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Filed under Books, Space, Weirdness