Rogers: "There's no comebacks from the clown-pony scream."
(blogging is light at the moment, because I've suddenly had a lot of those "auditions" I recall from a former life.)
Earlier this morning, I called Bowker to make sure my ISBNs still worked.
Shortly after that, I called the printer I used for Dancing Barefoot to get a quote, and make sure I'll have my books in my hands as soon as possible.
When that was done, I called my designer and set up a meeting next week to get the cover just right.
I hung up the phone, and printed out a copy of the unformatted manuscript for my wife to read. "It's so weird you wouldn't let me read this one until it was done," she said.
About five minutes ago, I sent the formatted manuscript of my next book to my editor for his final pass. It's not huge. It ended up about 27000 words and will probably print out around 140 pages, but it is, I believe, a perfect follow-up and companion to Dancing Barefoot.
. . . and just like that, I'm done with the hard (and fun, to be honest) part.
Next steps for me include writing the marketing materials, getting little graphic buttons and banners together so people can put them on blogs, making the phone calls to book stores (Mysterious Galaxy, I'm looking in your direction) and making sure I have the shipping operation all ready to go.
Wow. It's really happening again. This is so insanely cool I can only talk about it in short sentences.
When I talked to my mom on Sunday morning, she asked me how the Hall of Fame induction went.
"Good," I said. "It was better than I could have hoped."
"Will you write about it, so your dad and I can experience what it was like to be there?"
I smiled. I love it that she asked me to do that.
Mom, this week's Geek in Review is for you:
I've given plenty of speeches before, in front of crowds as large as 5,000, in places as varied as a Holiday Inn convention hall to the Royal Albert Hall in London, but this speech was the most personally important speech I have ever been asked to give. Not only was I given the privilege of presenting Gene's induction, but it would be accepted by Gene's son, and my friend, Eugene Roddenberry, Junior. Rod, as he is known to his friends, has spent the bulk of his adult life getting to know his father. Gene died when Rod and I were still teenagers, and there was a vast generation gap between Rod and Gene. I've always admired Rod. He could easily sit back and cash checks from Paramount while drinking Courvoisier from the hollowed-out skulls of the vanquished, but instead he has worked tirelessly to honor and preserve Gene's legacy. Rod, like his father, appreciates and embraces the legion of Trekkies around the world who are such an integral part of what Rod calls "The Trek Nation." We are, in many ways, spiritual half-brothers who genuinely like each other, but only cross paths once or twice a year.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my editor, Andrew, who kept me focused and out of my own way while I worked on putting my speech together, and suggested ways saying many of the things that were really important to me to say just right. I felt like the whole thing hit every note I wanted to hit, which wouldn't have been possible without his help.
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame induction was just fantastic, and I couldn't have asked for it to have been any cooler that it was.
My speech hit all the right notes, and I got great feedback from the people who had come to the ceremony, including Rod Roddenberry, who told me that he knew his father would have been proud of me if he could have been there. I told him the same thing.
I'm way behind on my Netscape duties¹, and I'm running up against the drop dead date on the new book, so I won't have time to really write more details until later, and I'm thinking it would make a good Geek in Review, which prevents me from figuring out just what the hell I'm going to write about this week while guaranteeing that I actually write the story up in a cool narrative format.
One of the highlights of my night, though, was when Neal Stephenson (the emcee of the event) said that my blog was "more readable than most blogs out there," which I believe is the closest he gets to delivering an honest-to-goodness compliment.
Okay, I have to get back to work, but I'll write more later. Oh! If you were there, feel free to share your observations or link to your blogs in the comments.
¹ I don't know how many WWdN readers are Netscape members, but it would be awesome if those of you who are participated in my story submissions. I'm trying to spend a bit more time commenting and discussing them over there, and it's always more fun with people I know, or who at least know me.
Ryan was just a tiny little towhead when I met his mom. Though he doesn't carry any of my DNA, over the last eleven years, he's become my son in all the ways that matter.
He graduated from high school yesterday afternoon.
My wife and I spent all of our free time this week preparing our house to receive friends and family from all over the place who will be joining us for the official graduation ceremony tonight, and I find myself at an uncommon loss for words to mark this occasion.
I can only hope that "I am so very proud of him" will suffice, because that's about all I can think or say before I turn into a blubbering little baby.
A few months ago, I said that it was going to be a really great year to be a Trekkie. At the time, I couldn't say exactly why, but I think I can safely leak some details now.
First and foremost in my mind is the release this Fall of the Really Super-Awesome Trust Us You Totally Need To Have This One Even If You’ve Already Bought All The Other Ones DVD set, which includes two different documentaries. One of them I probably can't talk about, and the other one you already know about.
I have heard from the producers of the documentary that when they showed a rough cut to the suits at Paramount, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I'm told that they were "blown away" and got "vastly more than we ever expected" from us. Anyone who has watched Trek for any amount of time knows that things that make Paramount happy and things that make fans happy don't always overlap, but in this case, I think fans are going to love what we did.
There's also Gene Roddenberry's induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame this weekend, which means a great deal to me personally, not just because I get to present his award, but because it is an affirmation of Star Trek's importance to Science Fiction and Gene's contributions to society. This award honors Gene's legacy, which all of us are a part of; not just those of us who helped create the shows, but also those of us who watched them regularly, and especially the fans who won a third season for the original series and then kept Star Trek alive from its cancellation in 1969 to the first movie's release in 1979.
There's the Big Honkin' Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas this August, where we'll celebrate twenty years of The Next Generation, and I'll have a brand spanking new book to share with everyone. I think this could be the biggest party we've ever had for TNG, and I'm pretty sure we'll close down Quark's Bar at least once.
A shift in time. A series of cataclysmic events and the chance of a lifetime — Kirk and Picard face-to-face. But instead of standing together, the two captains land on opposite sides of a struggle. Kirk, a fierce man of action. Picard, calm and calculating. Who will win? That's for YOU to decide.
George Takei and Wil Wheaton have prepared an introduction video that explains the event and four possible story ideas. Watch the video then cast your vote for your favorite scenario and a chance to win some great Early Recruit prizes. Once the storyline has been chosen, we'll begin the writing rounds with the first "Scene Mission" posted by our Mission Director Andre Bormanis.
Two Captains. Four storylines. One Vote. You have until June 19th to make it so.
The contest is unique and set up to be a lot of fun for fans, and I think we're going to do some cool things with it before the whole thing is wrapped up.
I've referred to Ron Moore's sentiment that "Star Trek belongs to the fans again" so many times, I think I'll have to start sending him shiny gold rocks pretty soon, but I refer to it so often because it's so true. Star Trek fans kept Star Trek alive via conventions and parties and fan fiction for a decade after the original series was canceled, and are directly responsible for the movies and The Next Generation; in fact, this blog wouldn't exist if not for the butterfly effect of that first convention in the early 70s. This is the first year that I think we'll really get to see what Trekkies do with Star Trek now that it's back in their hands, and I'm confident that we're all going to have a hell of a lot of fun with it.
If you're thinking of participating in the contest, you may want to keep a bookmark to the Treknobabble generator handy, so you can write things like this:
Waves of electroplasmatic energy coruscated across the panel, knocking Ensign Arbee to the floor.
The ship's computer automatically went to red alert and called a medical team to engineering.
Wesley looked up from his science project. "The core processing confinement field is unstable, Commander!"
"No kidding," Geordi thought, as he furiously entered commands at his station. "Remodulate the frequency of the neutrino flow, and reconfigure the strength of the distortion field."
The commands were entered before Geordi was finished giving them. "Duh," Wesley thought. "Adults."
Though he was over twenty decks away on the bridge, Picard felt the danger to his crew. If the containment field failed completely, his ship and crew would be blasted into the vacuum of space before he could safely separate the saucer section. He turned to Riker.
"Make preparations for a full evacuation."
Riker jammed his hand onto his panel. He mustered all his training to keep the fear out of his voice, lest it infect the crew and their families. The last thing they needed now was full-blown panic. "Attention, this is the first officer: all non-engineering personnel report to evacuation stations in the saucer section. This is not a drill."
"Mr. Data, send a mayday to Starfleet command, priority one." Picard said.
If Data could feel gratitude, he would have been grateful he couldn't feel fear. Fortunately for all hands aboard, he could understand them both, and acted quickly.
"Aye sir," he said. "Starfleet command, this is Enterprise, sending a priority one mayday. We have a catastrophic failure of the primary warp containment field, and request diversion of all available ships for emergency crew evacuation. Our location is in quadrant . . ."
Picard hit his communicator. "Geordi, what is your status?"
"We've run the Probert Compensators on the temporal processing array. It's slowed the breach but it's failed to stop it. We're attempting to synchronize the hyperdrive now, sir."
"Make it so, Mr. LaForge."
Wesley jumped up from his desk. "Geordi! No! Synchronizing the configuration of the hyperdrive will randomize the polarity of the temporal transceiver!"
It was too late. The commands had been readied by the computer's emergency response system, and Geordi activated them with one key entry. The computer engaged the configuration synchronization sequence, and the Cochrane processing array was recalibrated before Geordi could curse the mistake.
A blinding flash accompanied a shockwave that seemed to originate from every point in the universe. Through his VISOR, Geordi saw every spectrum imaginable blur together and tear itself apart. Then, it was all gone.
He didn't know how much time had passed; it could have been minutes or days. Picard picked himself up off the floor, opened his eyes and looked around the bridge. His crew appeared safe and his ship appeared intact, but on the main viewer, a vaguely familiar ship appeared.
"Sir," Worf said, "We are being hailed . . . by Captain James T. Kirk of the Enterprise."
Wow. That was supposed to be three silly lines of treknobabble parody, and it kind of got away from me because it was so much fun to write. Now aren't you glad I'm ineligible to participate in the contest? I know I am; I am having serious flashbacks.
Yeah, it's going to be a good year to be a Trekkie.
Maybe I missed a memo or something, but why do we need a presidential campaign that lasts over two fucking years?
I'm politically active and politically involved. I care deeply about the political process and take my responsibilities and freedoms as a member of our Democracy very seriously . . . and even I am already sick to fucking death of this shit.
I believe that these outrageously long cycles are all about money, which is all about corporations and PACs, which leads me to believe that elections are more about perpetuating a Plutocracy than engaging the population in a dialog of ideas. I used to count down the days until November 4, 2008 because it would finally be the end of our long national Bush/Cheney/Neocon nightmare, but now I'm counting down because it will just mean the end of the whole stupid goddamn thing.
Some day, I fear we'll have election cycles that last 3 year and 364 days, and we'll long for those simple times when we only had to listen to this garbage for two years.
Thanks to the battle for Middle Ear, I didn't finish my Geek in Review this week until 11:57 this morning, three minutes before it was scheduled to go live. Awesome.
The Battle for Middle Ear sort of dovetails with the theme of this week's Geek in Review, though, which is all about the marriage of fantasy gaming and electronic gaming, when both of those things surged in popularity in the early eighties:
Most of these games were variations on the basic dungeon-crawling theme, but they were just perfect in an age where imagination was still required to transform the monster that chased you around Atari’s Adventure from a duck into a dragon, and the animated Rankin/Bass version of The Hobbit was scary and magnificent. This was a perfect blending of the two things my friends and I loved more than anything else in the world: cool electronic gadgets and the fantasy world we were just discovering.
Today, I look back at a couple of my favorites . . .
There's this theory that once a species develops the ability to change and control its environment, it stops evolving. I wonder if there's something similar with electronic games? Once manufacturers didn't need to innovate to earn our money, and could just develop for Gameboy or something similar, all the individuality and difference between games like Tomy Pac-Man and Coleco Pac-Man simply disappeared. I guess we would have all wanted Arcade Pac-Man, anyway, if it was available back then, so the point is kind of moot, but from a broader point of view, I'd rather have lots of unique and innovative games and designs than a bunch of things which are all slightly derivative of each other.
I was lucky to grow up during a time when there was so much competition for our allowance, and designers were working so hard to keep our attention. There were always crappy knock-offs, to be sure, but there were a lot of gems hidden in there, too.
Did you have a favorite classic electronic fantasy game that I missed? Gals Panic does not count.
I read last night that Don Herbert, who was known to generations of protogeeks as Mr. Wizard, passed away yesterday. He was nearly 90 years old.
I remember watching Mr. Wizard's World, You Can't Do That On Television and The Third Eye on Nickelodeon when my parents first got cable television, and I was so excited that there were three shows that appealed to the three strongest (at the time) aspects of my personality.
But learning about science though experiments that seemed kind of dangerous was my favorite. I loved Mr. Wizard's World so much, I even made an effort to understand their funny accents and mysterious metric system, so I knew what the kid was talking about when he said, "Um, aboot four meters?"
Mr. Wizard was the original Bill Nye The Science Guy, and Mr. Wizard's World was the original Beakman's World, so if you damn kids today have no idea who I'm talking about, at least you know what I'm talking about. Now get off my lawn.
Update: Reader rasa nails it: "He was the Mr. Rogers for us geeks, that's for sure. A sad day indeed."
Radley Balko, a senior editor at Reason, testified before the House Financial Services Committee last week, on the issue of Internet gambling.
I believe that prohibition is stupid and intrusive, and I am sick to death of the Nanny Staters in government telling adults what they can and can't do in the privacy of their own homes, with their own money. I felt this way long before I even had a personal stake in this sort of thing, and even though most of the Libertarians I meet are really ultra-conservative Republicans who don't want to play taxes and want to have a lot of guns, it's one of the areas where I take a classic Libertarian position.
Mr. Balko eloquently makes points that everyone who cares about keeping government out of their house should commit to memory and communicate to their congresscritters:
The Unlawful Internet Gaming Act was passed under rather dubious circumstances. It passed the U.S. Senate on the last day of Congress, late at night, with no floor debate, after being attached to an unrelated port security bill.
My problems with how the bill passed, however, are beside the point. Let’s get down to the crux of this issue, Mr. Chairman: What Americans do in their own homes with their own money on their own time is none of the federal government’s business.
No one is hurt when two or more consenting adults sit down for a game of poker, be it online or in person. Why any of this should be of concern to the federal government is rather perplexing. I respect the fact that many Americans—and many members of Congress—may have moral objections to gambling, online or otherwise. To them, I’d say, simply, “don’t gamble, then.”
Yes, it's possible a parent could bet away their family's savings, or their child's education fund in an online poker game. They could also fritter that money away on eBay. Or on booze. Or fancy cars and exotic travel.
These are all personal decisions, of course. And if a free society means anything, it means we should have the freedom to make bad choices, in addition to good ones. The ban on Internet gambling punishes the millions of Americans who were wagering online responsibly due to anecdotal evidence of a few who may do so irresponsibly. It's an affront to personal responsibility, and symptomatic of a Nanny Statist government that treats its citizens like children.
I discovered Mr. Balko's comments at Ed Brayton's Dispatches from the Culture Wars, one of my favorite blogs on the 'tubes, where I said, "Yes, but stocks, fast cars, and eBay don't perk up the ears and open the contributing wallets of the Authoritarian Christian Right that the UIGEA was written to please.