Thursday, September 20, 2012


After an exciting month visiting doctors for regular checkups, being
called back for not-so-regular checkups, and generally freaking out, I
got the unwelcome opportunity to think about my mortality. Nothing
like a medical scare (and the accompanying expense) to bring you back
to the realization that life is a gift that can be taken away at any
time, so you had better appreciate what you've got today.

Since I love science and science fiction, it is no coincidence that
one of my first SF stories, "Good Bloodlines" in Sorcery and the Far Frontier
featured a heroine whose android enhancements made her
stronger and faster than ordinary humans. It's commonplace for
characters in today's SF stories to have nanobots running around in
their blood systems, fixing anything that goes haywire with the
biological body.

But, it's been good to return to work on promoting my science fiction
publishing business, Third Flatiron. We're proud to announce that "A High Shrill
Thump: War Stories" is now out.

Readership for the first issue so far has been low, and I'd like to get sales
above 100 copies per issue so that I can pay
some royalties to the many excellent writers who have contributed to
the first year. They've helped get us off the ground, after all.

In the e-publishing world, as in the hardcopy world, word of mouth and
good reviews can make or break a book. With a hardcopy book, it can
take years if you are not one of the Big 6 publishers. But with
self-publishing, indie publishers might expect to speed this process
up. It's hard to be patient, however, and it's still going to take a
lot of hard work. I've signed up with many fan forums, and now am
investigating book bloggers. I'll be spending more hours on the
Internet finding and contacting the ones who look honest and popular
and who review books by indie publishers at no charge.

Some blogs are technically considered "fanzines." Of the ones I've
sampled, they feature articles on a variety of science fiction and
fantasy issues, conventions, and other activities. They have become a
major category in the annual Hugo Awards, so they are definitely an active
community. Most don't seem to do reviews, but I've found some who do.
Notable is the Hugo winner, SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo, which
has a huge backlog of reviews to do, but at least they do them.

An especially interesting fanzine is Journey Planet, who this spring
published a special Bladerunner issue. It was fascinating to read the
contributors' praise of Bladerunner's seminal role in making androids
an everyday concept in SF movies, as well as Bladerunner's roots in the world
of pulp fiction film "noir."  I have seen the theatrical version, the
director's cut, and okay now I have Ridley Scott's "Final Cut" version
sitting in my to-view pile.

I'm currently reading Robert Sawyer's "Mindscan," about a rich man
with a deadly brain condition having his consciousness transferred to
a sturdier android body. Asimov did a great job of portraying the
dilemma of giving robots autonomy, but the dilemma increases the
closer the robot is to human, or when it used to be human. Is it still
human? I'll be curious how life works out for Sawyer's androidicized