28 Nov

Starflight is published!

sts-bk1-starflight-ecover-600x400Yeah, I know. It’s been a little commercial around here the past week or two. Sorry about that, but I suppose it’s to be expected when you’re a writer and pubilcation day is … uh … here!

That’s right!

Starflight, Book 1 of Stealing the Sun, is now available to actually read. Even better, Starburst, Book 2, is now on pre-order, and will go live in a couple weeks–December 15, to be precise.

To say I’m excited is a vast understatement. I hope you enjoy it.

With no more bloviating, here are the necessary details.


Available Now!





Get Starflight in Print!


Get Starflight at your favorite bookstore!

If you want to buy Starflight at your local brick and mortar bookstore, you can do that by calling them and placing an order. This is a fantastic way to give Starflight as a present, right? [grin]

FIRST TIME OFFER! GET AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY!

Also, if you want a signed copy, I’ll be happy to do that for the low cost of $20 (includes shipping!). I can accept paypal. Just drop me a note and we’ll make the arrangements.



Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

Everguard’s mission: Establish a multidimensional gate inside Alpha Centauri A for Interstellar Command to fuel their new faster-than-light spaceships.

Lieutenant Commander Torrance Black, career already on shaky grounds, finds himself facing questions.

Did they just contact sentient life in the Centauri system?

Will humankind sacrifice an entire alien species in their quest for the stars?

“Ron Collins is one of our best hard science fiction writers—a novel from him is a major event. Enjoy!”

Robert J. Sawyer
Hugo Award-Winning Author of Quantum Night


PREORDER BOOK 2 HERE



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20 Nov

Stealing the Sun, the short story

sts-short-story-cover-changed-600x400This is very cool, eh?

In celebration of the November 29th launch of Starflight, the first in my new five-book series, Skyfox Publishing has released an electronic version of the short story that started it all. “Stealing the Sun” is now available at most online vendors.

Stealing the Sun first appeared in the October 1999 issue of Analog SF and Fact magazine. It proceeded to make Locus Magazine’s Recommended Reading list, found its way onto the preliminary Nebula Award ballot, and even garnered some solid support for a Hugo Award.

The story has now served as the, ahem, launching point for a series of five novels. I hope you enjoy it.


logo-amazonlogo-kobologo-ibooks

Want to read it for free?

Later tonight, I’ll be sending every member of my ultra-elite reader club a link to read “Stealing the Sun” for free. If you want in, just do the clicky thing here–and, yes, you will get both a free copy of Glamour of the God-Touched, and a free read of “Stealing the Sun” … what a deal, eh?

read-it-free

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19 Nov

Starflight goes on preorder

I’m pleased to announce that Starflight, Book 1 of Stealing the Sun, is now available for preorder through Skyfox Publishing at Kobo, iBooks, and other locations through Draft2Digital’s universal links. The book will be available through Amazon, Nook, and CreateSpace (print) on November 29—which is coming up fast!

If you’re a member of my newsletter you saw the cover some time ago, but for almost everyone else this notice is the first time you’ve been able to take it in. Among the things I’ve already enjoyed about this cover is that one of the first people who looked at it in person said they really liked it. When I asked why, she stared at it for just a moment and then said “I’m tired of all the negative stories out there. This looks hopeful.”

That makes me smile.

We’ll see if the stories fulfill that promise, but, yes, I remain hopeful. [grin]

If you want to be the among the first to see these new covers (and, grab a free copy of Glamour of the God-Touched–volume 1 of my series of dark fantasy novellas), just follow the links here or below to join my uber-exclusive newsletter.


sts-bk1-starflight-ecover-600x400


The first book of Stealing the Sun, a space based Science Fiction series from frequent Analog contributor and bestselling Amazon Dark Fantasy author Ron Collins.

Available for Preorder Now at:

Coming to Amazon and Nook November 29!


Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

Everguard’s mission: Establish a multidimensional gate inside Alpha Centauri A for Interstellar Command to fuel their new faster-than-light spaceships.

Lieutenant Commander Torrance Black, career already on shaky grounds, finds himself facing questions.

Did they just contact sentient life in the Centauri system?

Will humankind sacrifice an entire alien species in their quest for the stars?

“Ron Collins is one of our best hard science fiction writers—a novel from him is a major event. Enjoy!”

Robert J. Sawyer
Hugo Award-Winning Author of Quantum Night


free-book-ggt
GET YOUR FREE BOOK NOW



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18 Nov

Want a very skiffy Christmas?

Bundles are the rage, right? And Christmas seems like such a natural subject for a bundle, am I right again? I mean, what better way to celebrate finding a bunch of great stories than to have Santa bundle them all together, give you the opportunity to give to charity (does anybody remember charity?), and deliver them early to boot!

That’s a slick way of saying that my science fiction Christmas story “A Corner of the Mind” is now sitting quite comfortably in the Very Merry Christmas bundle–now available at Bundle Rabbit.

Get the Bundle here!

The bundle has been ably curated by Canadian author Rebecca Senese, who was kind enough to drop a little blurb about my other stuff up on her blog.

a_corner_of_the_mind-200x300

To give you a flavor of “A Corner of the Mind,” here’s the back cover blurb (with an inside hint that the first chunk does double duty as the first two sentences of the story itself.

How many times have you heard the saying: “If the walls had ears and could talk, what tales they would tell?” Well, they do, and I’m one. So let me tell you about the young boy who often does time here in one of my corners…

CORNER OF THE MIND is a Christmas mystery set in space. If that sounds like your slice of pie, come on in.

Intrigued?

Well…go pick your bundle up, then unwrap it and see for yourself what a solid set of stories are in there! You don’t even have to wait until December 25th!

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18 Nov

Me and the Leonids


NOAO/AURA/NSF


I watched the Leonids peak last night.

Since I live in Tucson that means I got up at about 2:30 AM, threw on a couple pair of sweatpants, a few layers of sweatshirts and a jacket. It means I then donned earmuffs and ventured out into the wilds of the night. You might be chuckling at my layering, but it does get nippy here in Tucson and despite my years of living in much colder climes I am a delicate flower. I like my ears warm, thank you very much. Lisa, being sane, did not get up. She stayed warm, snuggled comfortably under the covers.

We live on a cul-de-sac, or what I called a circle when I was a kid (we lived on a different cul-de-sac back then). I went out the front door and into the middle of the circle, then I looked up. It took me only a moment to realize I needed two things. First, a chair, and second, my binoculars. So I went back in to grab my binoculars. On the return trip, I dragged one of the lawn chairs we have on our front patio area along with me, eventually to plop my behind down once again right there in the middle of the circle.

Luckily there is no traffic at three in the morning around here. I felt pretty safe.

I also felt a series of strange things.

There I was, sitting in the middle of the street in what was supposed to be the darkness, but in reality was so moon-bright I could clearly see everything around me. The tones were all muted, blues and blacks, but everything was crystal clear. The air here is dry. It makes everything crisper. There was no wind. I mean, none. Zero. So the chill of the air just settled over me, coating me like an electric blanket stuck on reverse. The heat radiated away from me in all directions. The concrete was hard below my feet. The desert wash that lines the edge of the circle behind me was still and absolutely silent. Everything was clean and fresh. It smelled like rocks.

To my east, the ridge of the Catalina Mountains were vague and distant dark lines. Above me the sky was its most brilliant cloudless self that you can imagine.

Being born in the Kennedy years, I’ve grown up in an age when space was a big deal. I suppose that’s something different from most generations. When I was a boy, I remember being interested in the sky and the stars, but sometimes more as a passing thing than it should have been. Yeah, science, cool. Let’s play ball. As a younger kid I remember Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, but what I remember most was the ruckus that happened in our back yard later that night. I remember Apollo 13. I knew about Sputnik, and satellites, and spy planes. Star Trek only came in one flavor back then, and I remember watching it. What I’m saying is that the idea of people in space has always there for me. And, of course, I am a science fiction writer. While I’m not a deeply knowledgeable amateur astronomer, I love the base idea of the stars. I can pick out constellations, and I do understand something about comets and asteroids and where we are in the galaxies and all that–but I ‘m really just a space nerd, not a fully learned amateur astronomer. I am, however, enthralled by the metaphors that come with stars. I love what they mean.

Sitting there, I used my binoculars to look at Mizar and Alcor, the double star in the handle of the big dipper in Ursa Major. I looked at the Crab Nebula in Orion’s belt. I saw various Messier objects—those gauzy collections of stars or nebula or whatever that were categorized by a French Astronomer a long time ago (that’s another thing I love about astronomy—in a sign of human solidarity, every culture known to us has participated in astronomy). I thought about the talk a UA professor had just given our Astronomy club earlier tonight. He said we should think of the meteors we see tonight as being made of material that is billions of years old.

Which it is. A meteor is material that is billions of years old, and that hitched a ride on a comet to get here—to eventually burn itself up in the atmosphere above us, adding that material to the ecosystem of the planet we call home.

How freaking wild is that?

After sitting there alone in the middle of the circle for some time, under the dark canopy of the moon-lit night, in the silence that was absolute, I felt that remarkable thing that you can feel sometimes. I felt the size of the universe. Or at least I felt the expanse of it. The endless nature of space as we know it. The idea of infinity seemed suddenly more palatable.

Eventually, I got cold enough and tired enough that I packed it in and went back into the house, putting the chair back and storing my binoculars. It took me a little bit to get back to sleep, but I did. It was a good sleep. This morning, I’m writing this in a vain attempt to recapture that feeling of sitting out on my perch of the universe and taking it all in, but finding that this process is like trying to fully recall that moment when you first saw your wife or your daughter. You recall the idea of the feeling. You recall the flavor and the sense of it. But there is nothing you can do to replace that immediacy of actually being there.

Still, it’s good.

And, yes, I saw meteors, too. Some, anyway. To be honest, the shower itself wasn’t massive from where I sat. There were a few interesting streaks and several interesting flashes. Yes, beautiful. Very cool, each and every one.

But as I sit here this morning, the thing I remember most about my night with the Leonids is not the meteors.

Instead, I remember that at one point, as the stars were telling their stories and the few meteors were shaking their contrails, that out in the desert wash a bird spoke up with a small series of chirps. Normally, this wouldn’t have been much to notice, but against this backdrop of amazing nighttime and utter, absolute silence, on this evening I could hear every nuance in its song. They were plaintive notes. Simple sounds of existence. There are things that are worth a little pain, so I took off my earmuffs and listened to it.

It sounded amazing.

Given how I feel about so many things going on around me right now, this bird’s singing grabbed my heart. It felt important.

So, this morning, instead of meteors, what I remember most of my evening with the Leonids is the startling voice of that bird.

A single, solitary creature, singing away in the middle of a vast darkness.

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16 Nov

80% of Success

One more day, I say…one more day and I think I’ll have some fun news on the Stealing the Sun front (he says as he bails water out of his schedule)

#


Nick Kendall, a millennial, and the guy who also happens to be married to my daughter, wrote this post about the idea of participation trophies. In it he argues, using his own cantankerous form of the language, that it is not the millennial generation that is spoiled and expecting of rewards for just making an appearance (though wasn’t it the distinctly non-millennial Woody Allen who said that 80% of success as just showing up?). The problem, he argues quite well, was their parents.

I think the argument is pretty much spot on.

I’ll leave you to read his post, which I suggest you do.

My own experience with the millennial generation as a parent conforms to his view. A lot of parents of a lot of kids I knew were unable to deal with the conflict inherent in having kids growing up in their houses. Adding to the mix, a lot of parents live vicariously through their kids. A “failed” kid is a failed parent, and we can’t have that.

Now, look, I know I’m generalizing. #NotAllParents, in the vernacular. And #NotAllKids. But that’s what we do, right? We generalize. At least that’s the generalizing stereotype I hear people of my generation and older making when they talk about millennials.

That said, I think there is a difference in this millennial gang and my gang. I spent years in the corporate arena attempting to figure out how people worked–how to make policy and create environments where people could achieve their optimum performance. My experience with the millennial generation at work is not that they are looking for hand-holding, but that (unlike earlier generations) they showed up for work on day one expecting to be valuable—wanting to do something more than grunt work. They wanted and expected the company to do something for them at the same time that they accomplished something for the company.

Imagine that, right? I mean, imagine thinking that a company should be indebted to people who do the actual work, and should help people, even early employees, by enabling them to do something that is valuable to them as well as purely productive for the company. I understand that’s different from what came before, but I think it’s hella healthy relative to the alternative. My generation sat on a transition front—when I went to work, the idea of Individual Development was looked at pretty much slantwise. The idea of career progression was still heavily reliant upon the idea that you should just be happy that someone decided to hire you. You owed them big time, and you really should just kind of shut up and stay in your corner until your dues were paid, at which point you got someplace better…

You catch the irony there, right? Don’t you?

Okay, let me spell it out for you. The irony here is that in my era as a new employee, you fundamentally got to a better place by just showing up for long enough that they had to promote you. Sure, there was a bit of meritocracy to things, but seniority was and still is a big deal in the corporate environment, and anyone who says otherwise is missing a lot. And that’s the thing with seniority, isn’t it? You show up long enough, PARTICIPATE for long enough, and do at least well enough to keep from getting fired, and you advance. I wonder where I’ve heard of that before? [grin]

Anyway, there’s something wrong with the idea that you have to plan to come to work for X years of grunt labor before the company deigns give you something that feeds your soul.

So, yeah, #NotAllMillennials, and #NotAllKids.

The cool thing here is that all that coddling does not actually seem to have harmed them. Maybe they needed a little more time to figure out how to work in hierarchies. Maybe they needed more time to figure out who they were. Dunno. But in the end, I think their way of viewing the world–their ideas of hat leadership is and how they decide to follow it, is pretty danged okay. Overall, anyway. I think they’re fine.

After all, it’s not the millennials that have screwed the pooch on this whole “vote the country to the edge of destruction” thing now, is it?

Their parents, however … well … there’s a topic for another day.

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14 Nov

So much to do and the Spanish Inquisition, just for…uh…laughs?

The super moon hits its peak tonight at 8:52 EST. Cool, eh?

#

So I’m back from TusCon43, which was a great time, and where I met lots of great people. The panels I was part of presenting or sat in on were full of vigorous conversation. I signed a few books, and got to talk about story structure and basically just wallow in the fun and weird and nerdy environment that is fandom. So, yeah, the southwest was quite welcoming to this mid-western kid.

Now I’m trying to circle the wagons (to use a western metaphor) and figure out if there is any chance in hell I can get back on schedule. I’m figuring not, but I shall plow on and see what happens. Hang with me and I’ll soon be dropping exciting information about Stealing the Sun my new SF series, and about The Knight Deception the first book in what could be an episodic series that I’m planning to publish through Skyfox in February or so.

Super, super busy.

I’m pushing book one into early publication cycles now. Final proofing of book 2 is just complete. Book three proofing needed to start a week ago. Book four’s manuscript is nearly finished, but there’s a long path after that. And now book 5 will have to happen in conjunction with a major workshop workload.

So, yeah…sigh.

#

I was tired last night, so rather than do much heavy lifting, I went back and watched the Trump interview that CBS did on Saturday.

Amazing.

It just struck me a minute ago that it was kind of like a Monty Python sketch, but without the overt winks and nods, and without the laugh track.

Here’s hoping things go rocketing to greatness.

But, seriously…

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11 Nov

The Divide

Like a bunch of folks, I’ve been watching the rhetoric of the fallout of this election. People trying to get a handle on what everything means are as interesting as anything else about it. Folks are wandering around, scratching their heads about how we’re more divided than ever—which I think isn’t right…I think we are just as divided as we’ve always been, probably less in reality, but our divisions are becoming highlighted because the social and economic ramifications of the world are getting pretty harsh in certain circles.

Regardless, folks are tied up in the argument of whether this thing that’s happened is about racism or jobs or foreign policy or emails or what.

Against this backdrop comes a Pew poll that defines the divide in light of a question about what people saw as real problems they wanted tackled.

Here’s the chart:

It’s a fascinating chart—a listing of issues, and how strongly people who backed Clinton feel about whether they are real problems vs. how strongly people who backed Trump feel about that same question. The bottom line read on this makes as much sense to me as anything: this election was about immigration first, and guns and security second.

At a 28-point gap (and capped at Clinton supporter’s 53%), “Racisim” was a lower-grade issue between the camps, but that’s an interesting question when you ask yourself how people define the category and how that category interacts with the other categories. The ability to parse illegal immigration and racism is interesting in itself. The swing of the strength of these two categories between the two populations (Trump vs. Clinton supporters) may speak volumes in pragmatics of how the two groups define the issue and see the world. For people like me, it seems logical to tie the idea of concern over illegal immigration to some element of racism, especially when discussing its ramification on jobs and base economics. Not the overt definition of racism as evidenced by various hate groups, but at least some degree of “us vs. them” as related to the economics associated with the inherently racial component of illegal immigration to begin with.

I suppose this is, in itself, a microcosm of the conversation our society is having today.

What is rasicm? How is it different to a Trump supporter vs. a Clinton supporter. Will that gap in those definitions ever change? If so, what will it take to make it happen?

The widest divides are:

Things Trump supporters cared about more than Clinton’s:

  • Illegal Immigration: 59 point gap (-32 points in “racism”)
  • Terrorism: 32 point gap (-42 points in Gun Violence)

Things Clinton supporters cared about more than Trump’s:

  • Climate Change: 52 point gap
  • Gun Violence: 42 point gap (-32 points in terrorism)
  • The Income Gap: 39 point gap
  • Racism: 32 point gap (-59 points in immigration)

No other gaps were more than 20 points.

In other words, Trump people voted to stop immigration, did not think racism was a major problem today, wanted to stop terrorism (while not considering gun violence a problem that needed be addressed), and really could care less about climate change. To highlight another point, Trump supporters really did not seem to consider the income gap as being nearly the problem Clinton’s supporters did.

Clinton people are deeply concerned with climate change, gun violence, and the income divide. They consider racism to be a bigger problem than illegal immigration, and are not intensely concerned about terrorism.

There’s your divide.

There also appears to be a gap in the idea of education, specifically the affordability of college. Trump people care about college affordability 28 points less than Clinton supporters—which is interesting. If they were worried about their children getting ahead economically, I would have expected that concern to be much higher.

Other interesting items: jobs, crime, and job opportunity were not areas where gap in concern is high, though what gap there is have Trump supporters being more concerned about them than Clinton’s.

Anyway…there you have it.

Per this, the Trump win was about:

  • Anti Illegal-immigration (which some, including me, see as tied to racism)
  • Anti-Climate Change (elitist economic issue?)
  • Concern for Terrorism
  • Guns
  • A differing concern on the income gap

My original ideas about this was that Trump’s win was about immigration and jobs, but this information makes me see it a bit differently. It makes me downgrade the jobs part of the equation. This data says it’s anti-Immigration, anti elite economic issues, and concern for self-defense (gimmie my guns so I can protect my family against the terrorists?) are the things that define the Trump voter’s concerns. Since he won, that means those things are what the election was about.

This picture says that things like concerns for jobs and the fundamental workings of the economy were generally important, but were not the issues that divided the population.

That’s interesting.

If true, I think it’s important to think about.

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10 Nov

My TusCon Schedule!

tuscon43-head

For all of you who have been fervently waiting, here is where I’ll be while at TusCon 43 this weekend. Stop on over and see me.

You can check out the whole program and all the participants with this handy-dandy program page.

Friday:

7:00 PM: Ballroom (Seville), Meet the Guests, Ballroom (Seville)
9:00 PM: Ballroom (Seville), Do old, fat, bearded white men really run science fiction? Did they ever?

Saturday:

11:00 AM: Upper Terrace, Autograph Session:
3:00 PM – Panel Room 1 (Valencia), Mentor Texts: Who do you read and why?

Sunday:

9:00 AM – Panel Room 2 (Valencia), Seven-Point Plot Structure for Short Story Writers
1:00 PM – Ballroom (Seville), PTSD in fiction and Film. Should there be trigger warnings or is is cathartic?

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08 Nov

The Story of Your Life, 2nd Time Around

“Have you read ‘The Story of Your Life’?” Lisa asked me a few days ago. “I want to read it before we see the movie.”

The work she’s talking about is a Seiun, Sturgeon, and Nebula Award-winning novella by Ted Chiang. It’s been made into a movie titled Arrival, which is due to be released in the US later this month. Since I know my blog readership is a cross-stitched group of folks from several backgrounds, let me just say that if you have not heard of Ted Chiang you should immediately begin reading him. The man is brilliant. His work is stunning.

“Yeah,” I replied

Then I thought about it, and realized that despite still having a very visceral reaction to the core of the story—meaning that I remembered fully how it made me feel—I could not remember many details about it. “I read it,” I said. “But I don’t really remember what happens. All I can remember is that it blew me away.”

Which was true. I remembered the feeling deep in my heart as I finished it. This is how I am with a lot of stories, actually. I often struggle to remember plot points and specific dialog. I am not one of those people who goes around and rapidly shoots off all the best catch-phrases from a story or a film. When someone quotes directly from a movie, I am likely to remember that I’ve heard the line, but I’m just as likely to be unable to place it in context of a character or a specific moment in a story. Don’t get me wrong; my brain is not a total sieve in this area. But it is true that, after a time, I often do not retain some specifics of a story’s plotline. I absorb story for how it makes me feel, though. And those that strike me, I remember deeply. The best praise that I can give “The Story of Your Life” is that now, more than fifteen years after I put it down the first time, I can still recall with great strength the way it filled me up inside when I finished it.

“Do we have it?” Lisa asked.

It turned out that, yes, we did have it. The anthology it appeared in, Starlight 2, which was edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, survived our move purge and sat on the shelf in my office. I retrieved it. Lisa read it, closing the book with a flourish and making the pronouncement that it was very good but that “I can’t see how they are going to make a movie out of it.

I immediately read it again.

Yes.

Brilliant.

Totally brilliant. Two days after reading it again, I’m still thinking about what it means to me. Again.

And, while I admit that I can squint and guess how they are going to make that movie, I worry.

I worry that this story is too big for the movies. Too intricate. Too delicate. Too … perfect.

If you have not already done so, I strongly recommend that you go read this novella. You can get it in Chiang’s collection at Amazon or Kobo. There is a reason this story won those awards. “The Story of Your Life” is what science fiction is supposed to be about. Astute use of a science (in this case, linguistics) to explore an alien culture. Brilliant pacing. Intense focus on problems we face in understanding both ourselves and the world. And, then, of course, what it means to be a part of this world. What it means to be human.

With some luck, the movie will turn out to be fine. With luck, the movie will be worthy of the story itself.

But, just in case, please…

Read the story. Read it before you go to the movie. Trust me on this. Whether the movie is great or not, you owe it to yourself to experience the novella as a clean sheet of paper (so to speak).

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