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Issue Number : 37 - It All Happens in August, Cyberkill, The Knight, Kicking The Sacred Cow paperback, Web Site Saga, Life on the Farm


IT ALL HAPPENS IN AUGUST

In August last year, I accepted an invitation to be Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon in Austin, Texas, this coming August, 2006. ArmadilloCon is known as a literary rather than a gaming or media convention, and I've attended before and had a good time. Then, more recently, I began receiving invitations and reminders for this year's World SF Convention, which is being held at Anaheim, CA, near Los Angeles, at the end of August. With an expected turnout of over 6,000 people and the prospect of seeing many familiar faces from the years I lived in California, the idea of staying on was attractive but posed the question of what to do in the meantime. When I looked into it, however, several interesting things turned out to be going on in the general area through that month, and the timetable I've ended up with looks as follows:

July 28-30, 2006 -- Conestoga SF convention, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Further information from the convention web site at www.sftulsa.org/conestoga.

Back in the 80's, I was a regular attendee of OKon, which was held every July in Tulsa, but the organizers moved to Kansas City, where they now run ConQuest. I had been planning on visiting some friends in Tulsa some time this summer, so it seemed a good opportunity to make it this weekend and include Tulsa's newer convention too.

August 4-6, 2006 -- DDP Conference, Portland, Oregon
Annual conference organized by Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. I've attended a number of these before and find them immensely informative on aspects of such things as environmental, energy, and health issues that are typically ignored or misrepresented by the general media. Speakers this year include Drs. Willie Soon and George Taylor on the Sun's influence on climate, and the dangers of "consensus" science; Dr. S.S. Penner on Biogenic vs. Abiogenic oil; Tom Bethell on cancer, stem cells, and the Human Genome Project; Prof. Bernard Cohen on misconceptions regarding radioactive waste; Ed Hiserodt on radiation phobia; Prof Peter Duesberg on aneuploidy and cancer; Dr. S. Fred Singer on manned expeditions to Mars. Details from DDP, 1601 N. Tucson Blvd., Suite 9, Tucson, AZ 85716; Tel: 520-325-2680; Web: www.oism.org/ddp.

Being on the Oregon coast invites a detour westward to Sonora in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, where I used to live, about three hours' drive inland from San Francisco. The town grew from a mining camp in the mid 1800s, and the older locals there told me that in the 1920s its Main Street consisted practically entirely of bordellos and bars.

On the way south, an opportunity to fit in a visit with youngest daughter Tina and her husband Gordon, who are renovating a house at Frazier Park, in the mountain country not far north from Los Angeles. She says it reminds her of Sonora.

August 23-27 -- 64th World Science Fiction Convention, Anaheim, CA
Anaheim Convention Center, just across from Disneyland--Full details, including travel and hotel information, at the convention web site, www.laconiv.org.

So it looks like being a busy month. I look forward to seeing a lot of old friends, and hopefully making many new ones.

CYBERKILL

Tentative title of a new book just completed that goes into modern Artificial Intelligence with a Frankenstein touch. It seems that an experimental humanoid robot is on the loose and has taken to stalking and killing AI scientists. But of course, things end up getting more complicated. Originally, I conceived it as a "Knight" story, but Jim Baen didn't want to do another Knight book. Eleanor Wood liked the plotline, however, so while we haven't settled on a publisher yet, I decided I wanted to write it anyway. The revised version is set in a moderately futuristic Earth, roaming from the U.S., to Canada, to Europe instead of taking place in outer space. I think the closeness to home improves it.

THE KNIGHT

Nevertheless, I have received many inquiries about the Knight and when we can expect more. Eline Trimm, who handles my shorter works, tells me she has found considerable interest among short-fiction publishers, and so I'll be trying to fit some more Kieran Thane escapades into the schedule. And who knows--after that, maybe we'll be able to bring some of them together into a another book-length collection.

KICKING THE SACRED COW Paperback

Scheduled by Baen Books as a July release, so it should start making its appearance in bookstores during June. A lot of people seem to be waiting for this. It's worth browsing through some of the Review and Reader Comments at the above link to gauge the reactions to the hardback.

WEB SITE SAGA

Following the collapse of last year's project to straighten out the mess left by the previous year's failed attempt to upgrade the web site, we now have on board a consultant by the name of Ryan who comes strongly recommended. Ryan has been sifting through the layered wreckage of the various schemes that overlay each other like geological strata, and it's looking as if we might be announcing the new version of the Bookstore shortly, with the Heretics section active once again and expanding. After that he'll be looking at the Index and Search facilities. And for now, that's all I'm going to say.

LIFE ON THE FARM

In the mailing dated last November I was lamenting over the impossibility of getting anyone to do the work for an extension to the cottage that I've had in mind for some time. Well, not for the first time and I'm sure what won't be the last, it seems I must take it all back. The skies have opened, and it's raining construction people and equipment.

The big problem was to find somebody with a "digger" (backhoe) to do the preparatory work of demolishing a cowshed that adjoined the rear of the cottage, and doing the excavating and laying hardcore for the foundation. After a succession of digger men had either not shown up, or come to have a look at it, gone away, and not been heard of again, I was told in one of the pubs that the "fella ye want ta talk to" was a one Joe Kelly, otherwise known as "Blondie." A few days later I was visiting a neighbor called Tommy John, farther along the lane, and saw a digger behind his house. Inside, eating lunch with them, was a man with yellow hair and a matching mustache. "Would you be Joe Kelly?" I asked. "I am," he said, looking surprised. Anyway, the upshot was that in two weeks he was due to do some work not far from my place with Brendan, from whom I had bought the cottage, and said he could fit the job in, provided I could have the roof off the old cowshed before he began.

But things didn't stop there. Brendan builds houses as well as raising cattle (he has also worked on the Blackwall Tunnel and the Underground's Victoria Line, and seems to have built half of London), and I couldn't have asked for a better pair than himself and Joe. An Englishman called Fred, who does carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work and lives over the hill, showed up to help with the roof, and literally as we were finishing up, on the dot of two o'clock in the afternoon as Brendan had promised, we heard a clanking and rumbling from along the lane. Minutes later, Joe swung into the driveway in his digger.

After that, things happened in a dizzying progression of events that I would never have thought possible in rural Ireland. Hardcore, concrete, reinforcing mesh, sewer pipes, blocks, cement, and accessories appeared in a fleet of vehicles, and the cottage on its acre of hillside disappeared behind a besieging force of digger, tractors, dumpster, trailers to the point where neighbors were wondering if I had opened a dealership for Massey Ferguson. That was a week ago, and we're almost ready now to look for a roofer to put a top on it.

The next job I decided would be to get a new coat of paint on the tin zeppelin shed some time this summer. Lo and behold, three days later two lads in a van stopped by to ask if I'd be interested in a price for cleaning down and painting the shed. Sometimes things just work out right in the end. I consider it proof of the universality of Murphy's Law. If, in any field of human endeavor, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, then it follows that Murphy's law applies also to itself. Hence, the law that says all things will go wrong--will sometimes go wrong. In other words, sometimes things must go right. I'll leave those with a bent for such things to mull over the Russellian logic of it until the next newsletter.

Thanks again to all for your ongoing interest.
James P. Hogan

Note added on 7 June 2006
Yes, I know, I know. Don't tell me. Sonora is on a detour eastward from the Oregon coast, not westward.
     --JPH


 
 
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