Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

BOOK AND STORY PREVIEWS






Watch this Space



75 comments:

  1. Lovely book, one of my favorites of yours.

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  2. Wow.

    Wow. That was a really great story.

    A group of Harri Seldons working in the 19th century is good enough; the insights into the engineering character and mindset were even better, but the characters themselves were amazing.

    And, of course, the fact that you got the details of a double acting cylinder exactly right made me smile (I'm in the middle of rebuilding a Bosch framing nailgun right now before I can continue building shelves in the barn, and the technology hasn't changed a bit in a century).

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  3. End "Steel Driver." Begin "Longford Collector"

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  4. End "Longford Collector". Begin "Fly Trap"

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  5. Next to the dog and the tapeworm, no other pet becomes so attached to its master.

    Just wanted to say that this is a great line!

    I got my first story (and a poem!) published at 13, so I have you beat there.

    You have me beat in that I've never published anything since, though...

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  6. The ah, distinctive sense of humor certainly manifested early! Fly-traps, hmmmm.....

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  7. End Venus Fly Trap; Begin Dragons

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  8. Nyuk. Good story. Nice surprise ending. And nice hard science/fantasy blend.

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  9. Yes, nice. Did I miss something in the story about why dragons are presumed to hunt predators and not something more thermodynamically efficient like, say, sheep? Or is that part of legend that I'm unfamiliar with?

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    1. Hmm. No, I guess I never did explain.

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  10. oh, I like it! 'Though in my experience profs who have a thing about shape-shifters are a more subtle, long term danger.... I was halfway expecting it would be Mrs. Robins who was the predator, ambushing him with her son (and maybe employer, too) on the way home--but that would be a pack attack & probably the isolated confrontation is a more dramatic ending. Was Krishnamurthi a predator, too? I couldn't decide. (or deliberately ambiguous? sneaky sneaky)

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  11. That was an awesome ending! Not sure how I didn't see it coming though...

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    1. The reviewer in Locus dismissed it as 'standard ending #' something or other. OTOH, the secretary in the office where I worked had no knowledge of SF or F but wanted to read something I wrote. "Dragons" had just come out, so I gave it to her.

      Our desks faced away from each other and silence descended on the office for a time.

      Then she shrieked. I mean she cried out loud.

      I smiled.

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    2. Ha! Seems about right. My reaction went something like this:

      "Wow! Didn't see that coming!"

      (A few seconds later)

      "Seriously though, how did I not see that coming?"

      So I can't really fault the story, since it did surprise me. The mild irritation is purely directed on my end.

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  12. i can't seem to find any way to access older stories, such as "The Steel Driver" - are they still accessible or is only one [older] story at a time made available, before being replaced by another selection? any chance there will be return engagements? I'm a big fan of "In the Country of the Blind" and was really sorry to miss a chance to read one of the Babbage stories.

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    1. Yes, it's one page, so each story overwrites the previous one. Usually at about 2 week intervals when I remember. Sometimes there are previews of new stories.

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  13. End "Dragons"
    #################################################
    Begin "The Feeders"

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  14. Eeeewww!

    um, I mean, that was cool & particularly appropriate for the feast of St. Louis

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  15. End "Feeders"
    ###################
    Begin "Timothy Leary, Batu Khan, and the Palimpsest of Universal Reality

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  16. Radical, man. Trippy, even.

    Looking forward to part 2.

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  17. End "Timothy Leary, Batu Khan, and the Palimpsest of Universal Reality" Part I
    ###################
    Begin "Timothy Leary, Batu Khan, and the Palimpsest of Universal Reality" Part II

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  18. OK, that was sneaky-funny. Since I had a front-row seat on the 60s as a young teenager, can't get enough 60s bashing: has there ever been as clueless, stupid and destructive set of people as the run of the mill 60s hippy? Probably - coming up with them would be a fun way to while away the time.

    On the story itself, yea, I can see editors having concerns that you could damage the transmission shifting like that. I thought it worked: the manifest humor and silliness of part 1 gets temporarily eclipsed by the bitter 'love' story of the second half, until it dawns on the reader that they - the craziness of Pt 1 and the cultural insanity made personal in Pt 2 - really are very much related. Then there's always the temptation - I am particularly prone to this, it seems - to wish we could go back and fix things. This manages to show how that might work and throw cold water on the idea at the same time.

    Laughing a bitter laugh at hippies? Count me in.

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  19. And, hey - in this one case, maybe you can put up both parts? Kinda hard to recommend people read it when all we get is part 2.

    Thanks.

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  20. End Timothy Leary
    ++++++++++
    Begin Throop's Revenge

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  21. End Throop's Revenge
    ++++++++++
    Begin Soul of the City

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  22. End Soul of the City
    ############
    Begin Werehouse

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  23. well, you certainly demonstrated what a crappy bit of non-thinking "shit happens" is. A tough narrator to pull off, I think, just slightly less a monster than his companions. It put me somewhat in mind of "Fear & Loathing in L.A."

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    1. that's "Las Vegas" when I'm not sick. Sorry.

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    2. The last 2 books I've read just threw the theme of betrayal & trustworthiness into sharp relief, and suddenly this looks like volume 1. Funny and/or Providential how sometimes 'random' reading turns into a moment of the uncanny at just the right moment.

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  24. I found this an enjoyable read! I'm sorry Wag died the way he did; I think he's interesting at least. But then I rather like wolves in general.

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  25. End Werehouse
    ##########
    Begin "The Engineer Discourses Upon His Love"

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  26. Nyuk.

    Perhaps an Optics engineer could take up the theme:

    I can't get no satisfaction
    At this obtuse angle of refraction
    I reflect upon her opaque gaze
    and the polarizing way she waves
    (and so on)

    optics, too, lens itself to punning.

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  27. Joseph, I saw what you did there . . .

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  28. As a once-engineering student, I'm charmed.

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  29. End "The Engineer Discourses..."
    +++++++++
    Begin "The Sisters of the Sacred Heart"

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  30. I am glad this had a happy ending.

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  31. You've put this up before? Perhaps on John Wright's site. I thought I remember her losing.

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  32. For some reason Hozier's "Take Me to Church" seems like the soundtrack for this story. But I agree with Wombat above - I'm glad it ended not-horribly.

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  33. The original ending was at the point where Plumaje says, "Just once more."

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  34. End "The Sisters of the Sacred Heart"
    ++++++++++++
    Begin "Spark of Genius"

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  35. Like it very much; laughed at the last line. (maybe wasn't supposed to?) The last 10 days I discovered my heart is genre and has actually no interest in cross-over to literary fic. at all.

    And Happy New Year!

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  36. In a moment of synchronicity, this got posted on the Sci Phi Facebook page:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU

    Good story.

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  37. I loved the nod to Card's M.I.C.E. quotient.

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  38. End "Spark of Genius"
    +++++++++++
    Begin "The Seven Widows" excerpt

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  39. Oh, thou Arch-Tantalizer!

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  40. Arch-Tantalizer? It that something that tickled the sole of the foot?

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  41. End "The Seven Widows" excerpt
    +++++++++++
    Begin "The Blood Upon the Rose"

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  42. Ouch. But if you fail to communicate that badly... silence isn't exactly a virtue.

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  43. End "The Blood Upon the Rose"
    +++++++++++
    Begin "Great Sweet Mother"

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  44. Perhaps this poor biologist had himself a bit more drink than he let on, or else he would have told me why diving gear didn't seem to be an option for him and his beloved; or why they couldn't have arranged a tank with seawater for her to wait in while he developed his own gills; or why it seemed to have taken him a while to replicate the process which he described as an accidental prick. Neither did he answer my inquiries as to her promises to wait for him (because surely she made him her vows, yes?), and to meet with him out in the sea whenever he could.

    I had so many questions. I daresay ditch water is brighter than I am. I didn't even know what I was supposed to be dying with curiosity about when he first addressed me. What is so odd about a man sitting on the beach with food and books? It's quite a lovely thing to do. I like walking along the beach, night or day; night, of course, affords me the cover of darkness. And yes, there were many places in that cove for me to hide in. Not for nothing have I been called a disgrace to the 'fairer sex'--and a blight upon worlds in general! I doubt he would have remained where he was, or called me his friend, if he had been able to see me clearly.

    And this brings me back to the drinks. I would have liked to talk about the mer-folk he mentioned; I'm not sure if there are creatures like that in the netherworld, where I came from. And the waves! Oh, the waves. But he seemed less sober than I would have liked. And he was quite focused on being with his Sandy. I can only hope she treats him well. I have little experience in such things.

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  45. End "Great Sweet Mother"
    +++++++++++
    Begin "From the Corner of the Eye"

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  46. That was great. I have to ask- how much time between "Dragons" and this one? Those two together are wonderfully complementary.

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    1. Dragons was finished in 1987; Corner in December 1992.

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  47. I never would have thought humans would find dryads tasty. Hmmm.

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  48. That would explain why there are so few around today . . .

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  49. End "From the Corner of the Eye"
    +++++++++++
    Begin "Nexus: Jim-7"

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  50. End "Nexus: Jim-7"
    +++++++++++
    Begin "The Promise of God"

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  51. That was an unflinching story. You began with a dark premise and developed it to a believable, melancholy outcome. Nealy's cravings as an older man strike me as logical results of both soul-loss due to magic use, and the psychological push-pull methods the vestal uses to keep him under control. These broken behaviors of a being broken in an abusive environment remind me in some ways of the pathologies developed by the survivors of the Spartan agoge.

    The setting piques my curiosity. Given mentions of Leif Erikson, the Pine Barrens and Oneida, did you set the story in the Mid-Atlantic states (with a significantly different history) with Nealy's family farm in New Jersey, and the cabin shared with his rixler up in the Taconics or Adirondacks? I was also pleased with the suggestion of not just a drastically different history, but entire metaphysical reality, sans info-dump, with your weaving of the mezuzah, prayers to gods, hermetic texts and other details into natural places within the narrative. It's quite a different world where priests carry ankhs, Gnostic ramblings appear valid as real scripture, and Mohammed is a saint. Was that last detail a reference to "Agent of Byzantium"?

    You've also expanded my vocabulary and linguistic knowledge, which I thank you for. I had not known that "man" originally meant "person" and that "wereman" and "wifman" meant the respective male half and female half. That's a beautiful case of language expressing the metaphysical truth illuminated in Matthew 19:5. I'm tucking that one into my back pocket should I need to employ it in my future defense (and I imagine I will - I'm at university).

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    1. I don't recall now if I had read Agent of Byzantium or not at the time.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the story, if "enjoy" is quite the right word.

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    2. It's the correct word to describe my feelings towards your craftsmanship, language, hints at the setting and courage in developing the premise to its end. My overall experience of the story is accurately captured by the term "appreciation." Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  52. I enjoyed it in both the conventional and Lewisitcal senses. Now I must contemplate it. The language is a delight, and although the very pagan societal vision is dark all get-out, it is entirely self consistent. I didn't see the end coming until a few lines out, but in retrospect, said "Of course. How else could such a tale end?" Brilliant darkness indeed.

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  53. Perhaps I know you too well, Michael, as an honest craftsman.

    I had the necessary ending here:

    "Yes, four or five possibilities, some of them quite amusing. And it made Agnes’s request so much more interesting."

    It may be better sans the ultimate line.

    The nod to the Jersey Devil was also appreciated.

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  54. I have sworn not to be (a) Greta, and I pray to Our Lord I stay true. (I have not exactly been their favorite, and no man has asked me to be his wif, so there's not much difficulty.) Why Gretas are found to be so desirable, I surrender to God as well.

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  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  57. End "Promise of God"
    ++++++++++++
    Begin excerpt from Shipwrecks of Time

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  58. End excerpt from Shipwrecks of Time
    ++++++++++++
    Begin "Built Upon the Sands of Time"

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  59. No! Hennesey!

    People who would revise the continuum do tend to have this propensity for wishful thinking. The physicist is aware of the multitude of possibilities that could occur. Why should he insist that Lisa FitzHugh is better off? It's more than likely that she's somewhere sulking and blaming other people for her miseries, as is clearly her established behavior. She may even have had another child to whom she also has passed on her sullen disposition and bad temper. (I'm not sure, either, why no one has addressed her role and responsibility in regards their marital troubles.) And if she is indeed better off, why should that absolve the physicist from what he did? Poor Lenny, and poor Hennesey!

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  60. That is a terribly sad story! And scary. Worse than any Lovecraft. Brrr. Glad I went to Confession last night.

    Of course, even if a father can forget his child, we are promised that God will not forget us; so there's that.

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  61. I saw "Watch this Space" and thought that was the title of the new story preview :-(

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  62. Watching, watching, watching.
    My eyes are getting dry!
       -- Occasional Correspondent

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