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March 2005

Jeff's Dreams

The Tor editorial staff has just discovered that they are really characters in someone else's dreams. (I just got a phone call from the Flatiron Building directing me to a blog post from February.)

Flash #1 I'm in Tor Books headquarters in the Flatiron Building in New York City. The building is one of the narrowest in the world, but in the dream, no matter how narrow it is on the outside, on the inside it's very, very wide. So wide that one of the administrative assistants actually walks to Argentina to hand-deliver copy edits to an author, without leaving the building at any time. My editor, Liz Gorinsky, is running around with an AK-47 under one arm, wearing an army uniform and a green beret. I don't know exactly why she's running around. David Hartwell appears around a corner, wearing a beret that's paisley. I say, "What can I help with?" And they both shout out, "NOTHING."

Flash #2
Liz and David are loading writers into a truck. The truck is down below and Liz and David are on the third floor and just literally throwing the writers through a window and down into the truck. None of them seem hurt. When it's my turn, I say, "No thanks, I'd rather stay here." But then I see that the whole inside of the building has turned into a volcano and I realize they're not loading writers--they're saving books. And when I look down into the truck, it's full of books with writer's faces on the front cover, with various looks of dismay on them.

Flash #3
I have been hired as a medium by the entire Tor editorial staff. I am to walk back and forth through the corridors, and any time any one of them needs a medium, I am to help them. I'm now wearing both Liz's beret and David's beret. They're itchy. Patrick Nielsen Hayden pokes his head around a corner, beckons me into his office. There's a huge orange the size of a medicine ball on top of his cluttered desk. "Tell me what the hell this is? Tell me where it came from. Tell me what it's going to do." I say, "I don't know where it came from. And it has already done what it was going to do." Patrick says, "That doesn't help me. Try to focus. What-is-it-going-to-do?" I say, "It is going to explode." Patrick says, "Really?!" I say, "No. I really don't know what it is going to do." Then it explodes.


Moshe Feder sends congratulations to David and I on our anniversary which I must confess I had forgotten. I suspect David had, too, since he didn't mention it this morning. Nonetheless we went out for a fine lunch at Frodo's in Pleasantville with my father who is on his way home from doing physics on Long Island.

Meanwhile, I suppose I ought to mention that my name appears on the newly released Hugo ballot as an editor on The New York Review of Science Fiction, along with that of David Hartwell and Kevin Maroney. In recent years, NYRSF has actually been doing rather well in Hugo balloting. One of these days we might actually win, and then I would have to be nervous forever after when we sit in the audience at the ceremony waiting to hear our category to be called. Thanks to all who help put out the magazine and who write for it, and indeed those of you who subscribe.

Furthermore, David has been nominated in the Best Editor category. In the comments of the previous post, Patrick Nielsen Hayden tells you why David deserves your vote.

Meanwhile, my stepson Geoffrey Hartwell has recently been appointed Director of the new Jazz program at the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts in Mt. Kisco. And he will be teaching guitar at the National Guitar Workshop in Connecticut; this is particularly special, since he was a student there when he was 15.

Back from Spring

We arrived home from Florida night before last straight into a Noreaster. There was local flooding at JFK from record rainfall. There were these enormous puddles we had to cross with all out luggage in order to get to the parking lot. (The "record" rainfall was .69 inches. I can't imagine what it it like to get across those streets after a summer cloud burst.) Some luggage and Elizabeth's car seat fell into a deep puddle on the way to the car. So I had to donate my coat as a seat liner to separate her from the wetness. About halfway home, it must have soaked through because her cheerfulness deteriorated into a fullblown two-year-old tantrum because I wouldn't let her climb out of her car seat. Meanwhile, the car crawled slowly through a wide variety of appalling road conditions. I don't know how long our driver has been driving in snow, but the deepening snow and sleet on the road seemed to make him extremely nervous. Between that and Elizabeth howling in the back seat, I felt bad for him.

Carl, who had gone to San Francisco for part of the time we were in Florida, had a much harder time getting back. His flight into White Plains was scheduled to get in around eleven, but it was cancelled by air traffic control because a plane slid off the runway there. United flew in him into La Guardia instead. At 1 AM when he arrived, ground transporation had of course shut down. He did ultimately find a service that would drive him out here for the paltry sum of $125. The drive took 2 1/2 hours because of slippery road conditions. He got here at 4:30 AM. I saw his footprints in the snow at 6 when I got up, so I knew he'd managed t get here.

I spent a busy day yesterday coping with entropy: shovelling wet heavy snow out of the driveway; picking up the repaired snow thrower from Sears in Jefferson Valley (the driveway needed to be shovelled before the snow thrower could be retrieved!); taking our digital camera to the camera store for repair. Because of the snow, Peter's school had a two hour delay and Elizabeth's preschool was closed. Today is a school holiday (whatever happened to good old Easter vacation?) so then next day they go to school and I have quiet time to get things done is Monday.

Having been away for a little while, I find that I like the newly painted walls I worked on before I left even more than before. They somewhat make up for having to return to winter.

I read very few blogs while travelling, but I note this morning that Cheryl Morgan (seen via Mark Kelly) is chastising those who announce their Hugo nominations on their blogs before the full nominations list has been formally announced. Ahem. This household has assembled more Hugo nominations than most over a 20 year period and I don't think I've encountered this particular bit of etiquette before. Since, the nominations are all we ever get, I personally think it is appropriate for nominees to enjoy their nominations to the fullest. She explains her rationale:

Worldcons can’t always get in touch with every nominee easily. And sometimes people decline, necessitating an emergency email to the sixth-placed person. It really isn’t fair to go round bragging about your own nomination (or someone else’s) until everyone has been notified and accepted.

Anyone nervous enough to be concerned about the comparative haste with which various people have been notified of their nominations has a problem that cannot be solved by etiquette. She seems to be asking to give everyone exactly the same number of days of nominated glory. Or for those who should think about what an honor it is to be nominated to have sympathy for those who might actually win—or perhaps just for the favor of those knowing early not to increase the anxiety of those who earnestly hope but have not heard yet and will not know for sure until the final list is announced, perhaps without them. Who among us cannot be sympathetic to those feelings, but we ought not to follow the lead of the most anxious or most easily wounded, I should think.

Sudden Temporary Architecture of Chaotic Light

I had lots of lovely blogging planned for late last night when the kids were asleep, but our hotel's Wayport internet connection was a bit spotty overnight, so I'm going to rush through a bunch of material that I had planned to address in a more lesiurely fashion.

One fringe benefit of the net connection being down is that since I couldn't keep a good connection, I followed Rudy Rucker's excellent example and went out and did early morning yoga by the pool. I picked my spot next to the whirlpool, since it was a little chilly out. Just as I finished up, the first rays of the rising sun came in through the palm fronds illuminating the rising steam, creating a sudden temporary architecture of chaotic light: vectors of golden light textured by the steam's vortecies. (I couldn't resist using that as a title.) For those at ICFA who would like to try seeing this tomorrow, it happened at about 6:45-6:50 AM.

OK. Quick run through of what I want to cover:

First of all, my dad, John Cramer, has some new physics stuff in the news. I was waiting for a few free moments to carefully write this up so you would think I knew what I was talking about, but this is not to be in the immediate Floridian future, so here is the link:

American Institute of Physics: A Puzzling Signal in RHIC Experiments:

A puzzling signal in RHIC experiments has now been explained by two researchers as evidence for a primordial state of nuclear matter believed to have accompanied a quark-gluon plasma or similarly exotic matter in the early universe. Colliding two beams of gold nuclei at Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in New York, physicists have been striving to make the quark-gluon plasma, a primordial soup of matter in which quarks and gluons circulate freely.

However, the collision fireball has been smaller and shorter-lived than expected, according to two RHIC collaborations (STAR and PHENIX) of pions (the lightest form of quark-antiquark pairs) coming out of the fireball. The collaborations employ the Hanbury-Brown-Twiss method, originally used in astronomy to measure the size of stars. In the subatomic equivalent, spatially separated detectors record pairs of pions emerging from the collision to estimate the size of the fireball.

Now an experimentalist and a theorist, both from the University of Washington, John G. Cramer (206-543-9194, and Gerald A. Miller (206-543-2995,, have teamed up for the first time to propose a solution to this puzzle. Reporting independently of the RHIC collaborations, they take into account the fact that the low-energy pions produced inside the fireball act more like waves than classical, billiard-ball-like particles; the pions' relatively long wavelengths tend to overlap with other particles in the crowded fireball environment.

This new quantum-mechanical analysis leads the researchers to conclude that a primordial phenomenon has taken place inside the hot, dense RHIC fireballs. According to Miller and Cramer, the strong force is so powerful that the pions are overcome by the attractive forces exerted by neighboring quarks and anti-quarks. As a result, the pions act as nearly massless particles inside the medium.

Secondly, ICFA Guest of Honor Rudy Rucker has much of the material he's been presenting here up on his web site: His speech from lunch, "Seek the Gnarl" and the PowerPoint slides from his his science talk.

I didn't get to see the luncheon speech, but really enjoyed the science talk. The PowerPoint slides don't give you the full sense of the experience, since they don't include such things as Rudy projecting fractal patterns onto his skin or using a gnarly stick as a pointer. A good time was had by all.

Also, Rudy's blog has great stuff about his recent trip trip to Palau including an interesting discussion of his experiences swimming with jelly fish.

Finally, we have more pictures to put up in my ICFA photo album, but they'll have to wait until later today.

Camera Adventures

PeterNo sooner did I set up an ICFA online photo album, but our digital camera broke: the pictures it takes now all come out black. I spent a little time in the afternoon trying to figure out what to do about this, and concluded that the answer was I should borrow another and plan to take our in for repair when we return home. So Patrick O'Leary has lent me his digital camera which has a very silly feature that ours lacked. It can take 16 rapid shots one after another and then make them into a 4 X 4 photo collage like this one.

I did post about 17 pictures we took before the camera broke. I'll post what I can after this.


Img_4675Yesterday when I got up it was snowing cats & dogs. We had to dig ourselves out of five inches of snow to get out of the driveway. But we have escaped. This is the view from our hotelroom window when I woke up this morning. Note the plam trees in the foreground and the absence of clouds.

We are in Ft. Lauderdale and the weather forecast is for sunny days with highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s and 70s for the whole time we're here. (It might rain Thursday night.) Soon our friends will begin to arrive for the ICFA. Looks like a good time will be had by all.

Year's Best Fantasy 5 Table of Contents

Here is the table of contents for The Year's Best Fantasy 5, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer.

Robert Reed "The Dragons of Summer Gulch" (

Theodora Goss "Miss Emily Gray" (Alchemy 2)

John Kessel "The Baum Plan for Financial Independence" (

Barbara Robson "Lizzy Lou" (Borderlands 3)

Dale Bailey "The End of the World as We Know It" (F&SF October/November)

Kage Baker "Leaving His Cares Behind Him" (Asimov's April/May)

Neil Gaiman "The Problem of Susan" (Flights)

Kim Westwood "Stella’s Transformation" (Encounters)

David D. Levine "Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely" (Realms of Fantasy June)

Tim Powers "Pat Moore" (Flights)

Kit Reed "Perpetua" (Flights)

Peter S. Beagle "Quarry" (F&SF May)

John Meaney "Diva’s Bones" (Interzone 193 Spring 2004)

Bruce McAllister "The Seventh Daughter" (F&SF April)

Tim Pratt "Life in Stone" (Lenox Avenue 3)

M. Rickert "Many Voices" (F&SF March)

Richard Parks "A Hint of Jasmine" (Asimov's August)

Tanith Lee "Elvenbrood" (The Faery Reel)

Joel Lane "Beyond the River" (Acquainted with the Night)

Patricia A. McKillip "Out of the Woods" (Flights)

Steven Brust "The Man from Shemhaza" (Thieves' World: Enemies of Fortune)

Terry Bisson "Death’s Door" (Flights)

Nalo Hopkinson "The Smile on the Face" (Girls Who Bite Back)

Gene Wolfe "Golden City Far" (Flights)

(I just stood for an hour outside in a snow storm waiting for the school bus to deliver Peter home, so I don't have much to say right now except that it is good to be in out of the cold.)

David's Shevacon Pictures

I have posted an album of David Hartwell's photos from Shevacon in Roanoke, Virginia. (David went; I stayed home with the kids.)

David came back via La Guardia (LGA) Sunday. His bags enjoyed a four day holiday in London (at LGW, i. e., London, Gatwick) courtesy of US Airways on their way home. It took extreme patience and the intervention of Tor's travel agent and American Express to pursuade US Airways to bring the bags home.

Enjoy the pictures,

Year's Best SF 10

006057561101_pe10_scmzzzzzzz_It's that time of year again! Here is the table of contents to Year's Best SF 10, edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer. It is available for pre-order from Amazon.

Bradley Denton “Sergeant Chip” (F&SF September)

Gregory Benford “The First Commandment” (SciFiction)

Glenn Grant “Burning Day” (Island Dreams: Montreal Writers of the Fantastic)

Terry Bisson “Scout’s Honor” (SciFiction)

Pamela Sargent “Venus Flowers at Night” (Microcosms)

Gene Wolfe “Pulp Cover” (Asimov’s March)

Ken Liu “The Algorithms for Love” (Strange Horizons)

Ray Vukcevich “Glinky” (F&SF June)

Janeen Webb “Red City” (Synergy SF: New Science Fiction)

Jack McDevitt “Act of God” (Microcosms)

Robert Reed “Wealth” (Asimov’s April/May)

Matthew Hughes “Mastermindless” (F&SF March)

Jean-Claude Dunyach “Time, As It Evaporates” (The Night Orchid)

James Stoddard “The Battle of York” (F&SF July)

Liz Williams “Loosestrife” (Interzone #193 Spring)

James Patrick Kelly “The Dark Side of Town” (Asimov’s April/May)

Steven Utley “Invisible Kingdoms” (F&SF February)

Sean McMullen “The Cascade” (Agog! Terrific Tales)

Charles Coleman Finlay “Pervert” (F&SF March)

Steve Tomasula “The Risk-Taking Gene as Expressed by Some Asian Subjects” (Denver Quarterly Fall 2004)

Neal Asher “Strood” (Asimov’s December)

James Cambias “The Eckener Alternative” (All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories)

Brenda Cooper “Savant Songs” (Analog December)

Sunshine & Fairy Tale Blue

It is at this time of year I realize just how much I hate the Northeast winters. I grew up in Seattle, hardly a tropical climate, but also lacking the confining harshness of this climate. Over the past two weeks we've had at least one member of the household sick, sometimes as many as three. David, Peter, & I have all been through courses of antibiotics; Peter, Elizabeth, & I have all been through courses of medicinal eye drops; they're finished now. I've got two sets of eyes drops I need to keep taking 4 times a day, at least through tomorrow. (I suspect longer, given how my eyes feel looking at the computer screen this morning. The constant feeling that I'm developing eye strain caused by lingering conjunctivitis probably accounts from my recent lack of blogging.)

Peter missed the entire week of school before his February vacation; Elizabeth was out three days that week. Then they were home for a week because of the school vacation (a vacation scheduled mostly for the school's convenience as in mid-Feburary the number of child sick days and snow days skyrockets). Yesterday, Peter had early dismissal from school becuase of the incoming storm. Today school is closed: it's a snow day. No one has been eaten yet.

I have responded to this by painting various surfaces in colors that remind me of better weather and climates. David was astounded to return from Shevacon in Roanoke, Virginia, to discover that his office had been repainted a color of yellow that Benjamin Moore calls "Sunshine"; Elizabeth is thrilled by the color since it matches Lala, the yellow Teletubby. David is not so thrilled. Also, all the door in the hallway are now Fairy Tale Blue.