Review: Maelstrom by Richard Paolinelli

I guess I’m just on a reading kick. Here’s another for you Happy Readers to look into. It’s been in my reading queue backlog for quite a while now! Luckily, it was a good one! And how cool is that cover, huh!?!?

Happy Reading!

Amazon’s blurb & preview

Dr. Steven Collins has devoted his life to one cause: finding a way to prevent a catastrophic collision between Earth and an asteroid, like the one that killed off the dinosaurs millions of years ago. Collins spends years developing a shield—a device that uses the Earth’s own magnetic field—and finally reaches the point where he is ready to test it. But when Collins turns on his creation, he rips open a hole in time and space itself that hurls him forward in time, where he discovers to his horror that the device he created has caused the very global Armageddon he was trying to prevent. Collins now must try to undo the damage he has done as best he can. But the few surviving members of the human race are slowly dying off, a century of living under the shield taking its toll, and they cannot leave the planet to try to build a new civilization elsewhere. For just beyond the shield lurks a madman who seeks to dominate the human race or exterminate it.

MaelstromMaelstrom by Richard Paolinelli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maelstom’s subtitle could be “Every Hard Science Fiction Trope Ever In One Book That’s Still A Good Read”. Time travel, energy shields, apocalypse, environmental disaster, mad scientist, pulp romance, mind control, mind machine interface, mind melds, terra-forming, psychic aliens, miraculous healing alien magic, twist endings, and deus ex Marty Stu. By the end I was actually impressed by how many of them were used in a coherent way. It’s like someone made a bet that it couldn’t be done, and Richard P. said ‘Hold my beer!’

Even with the trope whip-lash, the story is still good. It started a bit rough because I didn’t feel the MC’s angst on a relate-able level. I mean, I understand how you might feel bad about your science project–that’s supposed to save the planet from disaster–actually being twisted and causing one instead. My problem was that the salesmanship on the character’s self-flagellation was too heavy handed early on in the story. I didn’t know him yet, so I couldn’t ‘feel’ his sense of responsibility. Later in the book, though, I totally get it. You come to know and understand who Steven Collins is, and then you just get it. That’s one of the reasons that I can say this book is a Good Read. The payoff is great!

The only other advice I can give anyone who intends to read it, is to enjoy it for what it is. Don’t over-analyze the happenstances or you’ll dislocate your eyeballs when you roll them. Consider this book pulp science fiction and just enjoy it. The story is good, the characters are good, and all the tropes are fun. It’s a fast read and has plenty of action to keep the pacing up. I give it 3 stars and a call it a Good Read.


Have any of you Happy Readers checkout my two books yet? If you haven’t, check them out on Amazon. If you have, Thank You!

PS – If you have read either of my books, please consider leaving a review for them on Amazon. This is how I gain notice and a wider audience!


If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

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Five short stories from H. Beam Piper – A Review

H. Beam Piper

As previously promised, here are the reviews of some short stories from H. Beam Piper that I’ve read recently. They are all available for free from Project Gutenberg or Amazon. I decided to look up the origins of each, along with some art. The images are not mine.

There are many more H. Beam Piper stories on Project Gutenberg as well, and there are many compiled anthologies out there too. I read most of Piper’s stores prior to creating this blog site, so they never got reviewed here. I may correct that in the future!

In the mean time, see if any of these tickle your fancy, and read them for yourself! Links are at the bottom of each.


Dearest

“I’m convinced that I’m in direct-voice communication with the spirit of a young girl who was killed by Indians in this section about a hundred and seventy-five years ago.”

First published in Weird Tales Vol. 43, No. 3 in March 1951

An old Colonel is being forcefully committed by a scheming nephew and his wife because he seems to have an imaginary friend… but is she?

A nice quick read with an excellent ending.

4 out of 5 Stars

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link


The Mercenaries

“…every literate person in the world knew that the four great power-blocs were racing desperately to launch the first spaceship to reach the Moon and build the Lunar fortress that would insure world supremacy. “

First published in Astounding Science Fiction Jan 1950

Blurb: Once, wars were won by maneuvering hired fighting men; now wars are different—and the hired experts are different. But the human problems remain!

A decent, but not great, read. A group of scientists who do research for hire get caught up in a case of international intellectual espionage, and because they are independent (i.e. Mercenaries) they will all be held responsible for the treasonous acts as a group unless they deal with it themselves.

Interesting, but I’m not sure what the point of it was. I guess things have changed too much for the story to be relevant. Still, the point of how to deal with rogue operators in a mercenary outfit was well made.

Only 2 out of 5 Stars on this one.

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link


Day of the Moron

“It’s natural to trust the unproven word of the fellow who’s “on my side”–but the emotional moron is on no one’s side, not even his own. Once, such an emotional moron could, at worst, hurt a few. But with the mighty, leashed forces Man employs now….”

First published in Astounding Science Fiction in Sept 1951

Should there be an intelligence test for highly sensitive jobs? Dangerous ones with huge ramifications to the general public if it’s done wrong? Probably, but only if the Union gets a say!

I liked this story and was left shaking my head that the true-to-life ‘defense of the stupid because he’s our man’ that so often makes headlines even today.

3 out of 5 Stars

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link


Genesis

“Was this ill-fated expedition the end of a proud, old race—or the beginning of a new one?
There are strange gaps in our records of the past. We find traces of man-like things—but, suddenly, man appears, far too much developed to be the “next step” in a well-linked chain of evolutionary evidence. Perhaps something like the events of this story furnishes the answer to the riddle.”

First published in Future combined with Science Fiction stories magazine in Sept 1951

Imagine you’re fleeing your dying home world on your way to colonize a new planet with all your supplies and plans, but then the worst happens and you crash – stranded with no hope of rescue or support – how do you survive?

Now imagine that new planet is Earth when the Neanderthals roamed… and they don’t like you AT ALL!

A neat take on the alternate origins of mankind! Excellent Read!

5 out of 5 Stars

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link


Flight From Tomorrow.

Hunted and hated in two worlds, Hradzka dreamed of a monomaniac’s glory, stranded in the past with his knowledge of the future. But he didn’t know the past quite well enough….

First published in Future combined with Science Fiction stories magazine in Sept 1951

A megalomaniacal tyrant uses a time machine to escape a coup against him and travel to the past to try again, but sabotage lands him in a different time than he intended. 

A very interesting story with a tragically flawed premise (it’s flat wrong). Setting that aside… IF the main scientific premise (which I will not state here as it is a spoiler) WERE to be factual, then the story is quite thought provoking. It is well written, interesting (despite the flaw because you don’t get to that until the end), and action packed. It’s a worthwhile read.

4 out of 5 Stars

Project Gutenberg LinkAmazon Link


My obligatory reminder that you can find my books on Amazon.com as well!


If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

Review: Lone Star Planet by H. Beam Piper and John Joseph McGuire

Well, I found another novella by Piper & McGuire that also deserves a stand-alone review blog. This one, Happy Readers, is FIVE STAR… not counting the title!

It was originally published with the title A PLANET FOR TEXANS by Ace. It was one of their Ace Doubles back in 1958.

The story itself is now in the public domain and can be found for free

Project Gutenberg or Amazon.

Here’s one blurb I managed to dig up, but I like mine better (see the review).

New Texas, the Lone Star Planet: its citizens figure that name about says it all. The Solar League ambassador to the Lone Star Planet has the unenviable task of convincing New Texans that a s’Srauff attack is imminent, and dangerous. Unfortunately it’s common knowledge that the s’Srauff are evolved from canine ancestors — and not a Texan alive is about to be scared of a talking dog! But unless he can get them to act, and fast, there won’t be a Texan alive, scared or otherwise!

Lone Star PlanetLone Star Planet by H. Beam Piper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A real gem of a story hidden in obscurity. The blurb is also misleading in that the whole alien menace is just set dressing for the real story.

Here’s my version of a blurb: Things aren’t just Big on New Texas, they’re Super, including the complications! Ambassador Stephen Silk, tasked with bringing the planet of New Texas into the Solar League fold (by hook or by crook) has to learn to do things the New Texas way in a hurry, or he just might find himself six-feet under like his predecessor. With conspiracies on all sides (including his own) he must contrive a way to stop the aliens, annex the New Texans without a destructive fight, and save his own skin!

That about sums it up. The main point of interest for me was the political system of New Texas. If a citizen felt a politician had done something to infringe on the liberty of the people by overstepping the government’s job, then they could kill them. As long as a jury could be convinced that the killing was justified because of the politicians actions, it’s not even considered murder. Talk about keeping your elected officials on a short leash!

As I’ve seen with almost every Piper novel or story I’ve read, the idea of limiting governmental power and maintaining individual liberties are strong in them. I suppose that’s one of the reasons his writing resonates with me so much. That and the fact that they are always entertaining stories with definite defined characters, or course. Even the ones with little action and much intrigue are not too boring. This one is low on action, but the all-out full-force nature of the characters more than makes up for it.

I can highly recommend this one. I give it five stars and call it a Super Read!

View all my reviews


Hey! Happy Readers! Did you know you can…

Buy My Books!?!?


If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

Review: Null-ABC by H. Beam Piper and John Joseph McGuire

Hello again, Happy Readers! I have another H. Beam Piper book to discuss with you. It’s a novella, really. I have read some of the other stories I mentioned previously, and I do plan to do a combo review of those. This one deserves its own, though.

First, let me set the stage on this one a little.

This story was originally released as a two part serial novel in Astounding Science Fiction Magazine Volume 50 No. 6 & Volume 51 No. 1 in February & March of 1953. The story itself is now in the public domain and can be found for free

Project Gutenberg or Amazon.

I had a difficult time finding a blurb for this story other than the short one found on a few of the Goodreads editions:

There’s some reaction these days that holds scientists responsible for war. Take it one step further: What happens if “book-learnin'” is held responsible…? A startling science fiction novel by H. Beam Piper (author of the classic LITTLE FUZZY) and John J. McGuire!

Digging through the original magazines, I finally found the synopsis used before part II. I share that here to give a better understanding of the world in which the novel is set.

From Astounding Science Fiction: Volume 51 No. 1

There had been the World Wars, and the cold-war interbellum periods: huge armament budgets, tax-saturation, no money to spare for public schools already clogged by a rising birth rate. There had been fantastic “progressive” education experiments. Even by the middle of the Twentieth Century, in some of the larger cities, children were leaving grade school unable to read, and in a world in which radio, television and moving picture were supplanting the printed page, there was less and less incentive or desire to learn. By the end of World War IV, illiteracy had become the rule rather than the exception, and by the beginning of the Twenty-second Century, what little reading and writing was necessary to maintain a civilized order of society was being done by members of the tightly-organized Associated Fraternities of Literates. It was only natural that these should become targets for the resentment of the Illiterate public whom they served, partly because of their monopolistic practices and extortionate fees, and partly from a general attitude of anti-intellectualism which was one of the heritages from the ears and upheavals of the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries.

So, now you have a better idea of the premise of the book than I did going into it. You’ll get all that lore near the beginning if you read it.

Anyway, here’s my review of the book.

Null-ABC (Illustrated)Null-ABC by H. Beam Piper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was both surprised and delighted with this novella. The premise seemed silly at first, but I thought it would be fun anyway. I soon realized that, although the idea of Illiteracy becoming a preferred state of being and Literacy becoming anathema unless you were prepared to be ostracized, the story points to a deeper trend of human nature. People are going to be people no matter what the situation. Some will always tend toward laziness, gluttony & greed. Some will always tend toward pride, envy, and wrath. Others will try to overcome these tendencies when they become so prevalent in a society that they begin to infringe too much on the liberties of others. The fact that this story, as outlandish as it might seem on the surface, shows the progression of these tendencies in its characters based on their situations is why it was still a great read. It also has good timing that brings in the intrigue to keep pulling you in further with the reward of action to keep you wanting more.

This is an excellent read, with oddly humorous views of what society might be in the future (as of 1953) that are half-right & half-wrong at the same time. In fact, here’s an interesting quote from near the beginning:

The results of last week’s election in Russia are being challenged by twelve of the fourteen parties represented on the ballot; the only parties not hurling accusations of fraud are the Democrats, who won, and the Christian Communists, who are about as influential in Russian politics as the Vegetarian-Anti-Vaccination Party is here….

Let’s hope the Vegan-Anti-Vax Party is never a thing here!

Anyway, the book is great. I highly recommend it! I give it four stars and call it a Head Shaking Read!

View all my reviews


Hey! Happy Readers! Did you know you can…

Buy My Books!?!?


If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

Review: Fuzzies and Other People by H. Beam Piper

Well, Happy Readers, if you read my review of Fuzzy Sapiens not long ago in which I lamented the need to give only two stars, I have good news. The third book is much much better. I can genuinely recommend this one, and thus the whole series.

I plan to read several more H. Beam Piper short stories, since I’m in that head-space at the moment. I will most likely combine them into a single review post… but who knows, all two of you may get multiple stuffs!

In the mean time, here’s my review of the book at hand, and a nice Michael Whelan cover for it too! Look at those little guys! Aren’t they just so stinkin’ cute!?

Goodreads Blurb:

There were still so many things Fuzzies had to learn.

…that’s the final line of H.Beam Piper’s classic Fuzzy Sapiens, where the story broke off twenty years ago [55 years now]. Following Piper’s tragic suicide in 1964, there were persistent rumors that he had written a sequel to Fuzzy Sapiens, a third Fuzzy novel; some of his friends had been told about it, a few had even read parts of it. But the manuscript itself remained lost until it was discovered in a trunk in a basement in Pennsylvania.

Now, at last, return to Piper’s Zarathrustra. It’s been twenty years for us – but only three months since Jack Holloway found and befriended a small golden-furred being…three short months that have changed both their lives…

You can buy a paperback copy here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0441261760

And now my review…

Fuzzies and Other People (Fuzzy Sapiens #3)Fuzzies and Other People by H. Beam Piper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The third book in the Fuzzy Sapiens series is actually better than the second, but not quite as good as the first. What makes it somewhat better is the fact that much of it takes place ‘in the wild’ were a heretofore unknown band of Fuzzies are living and surviving. You get to see things from a non-human native viewpoint that avoids the anachronistic foibles of the second book. It has a much faster pace, and is much less mired with theoretical cocktail hour discussions. Cocktails and cigarettes are still the old go-to scene filler and transition mechanism though.

The story picks up immediately after Fuzzy Sapiens ends. It resolves the fate of the major bad guy and the criminals from that book, but that is treated as more of a side plot. The major story is of the band of ‘Wild’ Fuzzies lead by Wise One in the newly established Fuzzy Sanctuary. It shows you how they survive on a daily basis. It also shows how their lives are greatly improved by their interactions and relationships with humans.

Overall, this was a good capstone to the series. I know there are other divergent series books out there. If you’ve never read the story of H. Beam Piper’s life and the history of this series, I recommend you do so. It’s quite intriguing if a bit sad. The other works by Piper are also something I highly recommend anyone who enjoys Little Fuzzy should check into. Most of them are in the public domain and can be found for free on Project Gutenberg and Amazon. I plan to find and read all of his other works that I have not read already.

So, on that note, I rate this book at three stars and call it a Satisfying Read.

View all my reviews


Hey! Happy Readers! Did you know you can…

Buy My Books!?!?


If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

LibertyCon 32, Technomancy and Other Tales

Another LibertyCon has come and gone is rapid flash of excitement. It seems like each year it goes by faster than ever. Obviously, the old addage of ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’ is absolutely true!

I am late with this After Action Report (apologies to my Happy Readers… all two of you?) so I have read several from others already. It seems that many of the Pro Attendees of LC32 have decided to invoke whimsy in the composing of their tales. Thus, the form is now stuck in my mind with the voice of the narrator of mythic fantastical adventures… so that’s what you’re gonna get too!

Part I: The Begin-ining

Procrastinating as long as possible, I, along with the Maternal Parental Unit (hereafter referred to as MPU) made our plans for driving up to the big Nooga. The MPU had never ventured to a Con before, so I spent many hours being distracted from preparations by sharing detailed information about minutia that she would most likely not remember. Finally, when Wednesday arrived, I compiled the clothes, books, and All The Things, and then loaded them up into Old Blue (my truck) with only the Needfuls (toothbrush, coffee pot, Captain Morgan, etc.) and Perishables (sandwich making materials, Cokes) left to be thrown aboard right before launch.

A typically restless night ensued (encroaching oldness and mis-working leg/knee/hip nerves suck, FYI) with only six hours of sleep for myself. When the alarm sounded Friday morn I stumbled to my favorite appliance to brew the Elixir of Liveliness. From there, the morning ablutions were initiated while the Sapho Brewed… for two minutes. Then… DISASTER! TRAGEDY!

The wizardry that is modern electrical power failed at the most inopportune moment BEFORE THE COFFEE WAS DONE! The worst part was that I also could not perform the Hygienic Rituals (aka take a shower) because the WELL IS ELECTRIC!

After expressing my woe to the Lightening Wizards of Georgia Power, I turned to the befuddling task of brewing the Elixir in an Ancient Cauldron upon the outdoor cooking appliance with Bottled Dragon’s Breath (I made coffee in the percolator on the grill). While the water boiled, I gathered those things that I could and put them in the Horseless Conveyance which lathered me with perspiration because Georgia in summer. I did finally get my first cup of motivation, and as I took the first sip, the power returned! Thus, there is now documented proof that Coffee Fixes Everything!

Not terribly far behind the original schedule that I had, the MPU and I began our trek to the Kingdom of Chattanooga to join with the Forces of Good and Fairly Descent for the next three days. The typical argument with the Wayfinding Familiar (Google Maps) was engaged proving once again that Talking Computers know fuck-all about anything when it comes to actual helpful driving methodologies with only the occasional warning about upcoming turns. My own familiarity with The Way (Do You Know The Way?) prevented any misdirections, and we arrived safely at the Castle Marriott.

With a bit of juggling of gear and luggage, the MPU was escorted to our temporary quarters while I stabled Old Blue. More sweating (because Tennessee in summer) from the trek across the campus, and then a bit of unpacking left us ready for some more enjoyable tasks. It was time for the Convention to begin in earnest!

Part II: Day the First

After a quick and painless stop to check in with the Master Wizards in the Hall of Registrars, we descended the Magical Staircase to the gathering area.

Badge with Honoraiums

Soon we were among the Astromancy Conclave known as the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW) to learn of their plans for future engagements. Lead by their chosen First Among Equals, Doug Loss, the Conclave continues to push forward with efforts to some day expand the Realms of Man beyond the star of Sol to others within the Ethaer of the Void. Apparently, the previous events have engendered such curiosity in the Astromancy sector that the Tennessee Valley Continuum inadvertently expanded to include a much larger geographical region that includes the Land of Kansas. The next gathering will be in ‘Wichita’. One can only assume this township to be the home of ground of the Tau Witches, but further investigation is needed.

Following that, we listened intently to the Ministress of Scientific Explanations, Stephanie Osborn (one of her many titles and honorariums), as she explained the Double-Dynamo model of the Sol star as put forth by the Technowizard Zharkova. It was highly detailed, and as usual for most scientific panels at the Convention of Liberty, I came away much more enlightened on the subject of solar cycles and minutia of maximized minima.

Unfortunately, the need for sustenance and lack of sufficient sleep the previous night forced us to withdraw from the activities for a time. A brief nap turned into an extended one, resulting in a failure to attend to the opening ceremonies. I felt a bit guilty for this, but quickly got over it as the nap was quite refreshing. This was a good thing, as I was scheduled for my first participatory event in which I would be reading from my own works soon after that.

As the appointed time arrived, I entered the event room and prepared my readings and placard. I had been informed that my co-reader would be going second as he was coming directly from the Hall of Vendors where he would be attempting to hawk his wares. Now, the time for said reading being one that was barely an hour after the large gathering of acquaintances for Opening Ceremonies and quite close to supper, many people were otherwise engaged. Thus it was that the audience was exactly one… the MPU.

This was not wholly unexpected, and somewhat of a relief as I was not exuberant about the prospects of going hoarse while reading my own words. You see, my throat had become somewhat scratchy of late, and I did not hold out full hope of it standing up to thirty minutes of constant use.

We were not alone for long, however, as the second reader, Hanz Schantz, arrived and engaged in a friendly conversation with us regarding his writings and our indirect collaboration in the wordsmithing of a mutual acquaintance. We parted company shortly thereafter, and I am still not certain if he acquired an audience of his own. Although, I did have word that someone showed up for my reading after I departed, having been rendered late by the same extended napping affliction we had suffered previously. Now two instances do not a pattern make, but I was on the lookout for Sorcerers of the Somnambulantic arts for the rest of the stay. They are sneaky and not to be trusted.

Afterward, we wandered the halls and ways for a time investigating the wares of the Room of Deals and the Alley of Art. We placed bids on some small treasures, one of which I was able to claim as my own. It now adorns the wall of my abode. I choose to call it the Eyes of the Wampuscat. A very fortuitous find!

Eyes of the Wampuscat

At the mid-evening hour, the MPU and I acquired seating in the hall where several soldiers and enforcers of law told tales (mayhap they were lies, but the benefit of doubt is given) about strange happenstances during their time of active duty to their respective liege lords. Each tale had but one requirement… they must being with the phrase: “No Shit, There I Was, Just Minding My Own Business.” They were most entertaining (true or nay), and were met with much laughter, and resounding applause at the conclusion of each. After an hour, we excused ourselves because the chairs were beginning to cause posterior numbness.

After carousing in the Vault of Challengers (game room) and possibly the Suite of Edible Delights (Consuite), although my memory fails, we retired for the evening to rest up for the events of the next day.

Part III: Day the Second

The day began smoothly despite the failure of the Favored Appliance to engage at the correct time so that the Elixir of Liveliness was hot and waiting upon our awakening. I blamed the Somnambulantic Sorcerers, although I had no proof and could not take it to the proper authorities. It was a minor setback, however, and we were soon ready to depart our quarters and engage in the day’s events.

Unfortunately, as I bent to disengage the Portable Computational Device, I placed my right levator scapulea, or some adjacent musculature, into a bind with my shouldered bag of holding doing some damage (which is still mending nearly a week anon) that would cause problems later. But for now, we continued onward to the scheduled engagments.

We once more ventured into the realm of the Astromancers where Les Johnson, the non-representing representative of the Overrealm’s space program, NASA (I think that stands for Notional Association of Spacial Astromancy… need to confirm), regaled us with all the news of the accomplishments of the various Astromantical organizations throughout the realms of Earth.

Next, we attempted to sit in on the gathering of the preeminent experts on Cerebral Sciences lead by the renowned Mind Wizard, Robert E. Hampson. Despite it’s riveting and informative topics, the aforementioned muscular injury became acutely painful, forcing an early exit.

Some medicinal attention and a short stint of horizontal therapy later, I was ready to continue (although I was cautious to only take seats on the right side of any chamber as the ability to look leftward was beyond me). We joined a panel that include the Guest of Honor Sarah Hoyt, and Scientist/Author Jeff Greason where they discussed the future of humanity in space in relation to the anthology Space Pioneers. It was typical commentary by Sarah, who never takes a direct path to the point of a topic when a meandering one will do much better for entertainment purposes!

We crossed paths with the Word Weaver & Herder of Zombies, Daniel Humphreys as we wandered away. I acquired a Badge Honorarium, as did the MPU, in which we were declared Survivors of the Z-Day Apocalypse. I explained to the MPU that while this was indeed a reassuring turn of events, my avatar in the Paxton Locke universe was not so lucky. RIP Agent Beckwith, may your soul find rest after your unfortunate immolation!

Afterward, we took in some of the scenery of our host Kingdom and the Castle Marriott before seeking sustenance at the Suite of Edible Delights on the uppermost floor of the castle.

It was in this place that one of the highlights of our visit occurred. I finally made contact with my dear friend, The Mistress of Pumpkins, Julie Pascal, who joined us for our repast. Julie is a boon companion who has journeyed through vast territories with me and my Dungeoneering crew over the past two years. Although we had never met face to face, our ethereal communications while engaging in the pastime that the mortal realm calls Dungeons & Dragons had already made us fast friends. We would continue in each other’s company for some time as we paid visits to the Gaming area. We discussed various and sundry topics of small import and while there the MPU and I were presented with samples of artwork from the aforementioned Mistress of Pumpkins. The following day, we would be gifted copies of said artwork and have them signed for posterity. One of my favorites is below.

Later, the time approached for my entry into the world of participatory paneling. Namely, the ‘Industrial vs Mecha’ panel. Engineers (aka Technomancers) would square off against the Conjurers of Fictional Fighting Machines (Mecha) to determine the ‘practicality’ of such constructs. I will go on record as being a proponent of said devices, however, my assigned task as Advocate of the Abyss in regards to feasability no doubt damped the spirit of those who likewise wish such creations were possible. Our Moderator, Mr. William Joseph Roberts guided the discussion. Technomancers James Shart and myself (Jacob Holo defected to the other side when his proclivity with wordsmithing tales of such machines became known) were pitted against the wiles of Mecha Bards Jon Osborn and self-proclaimed Dwarf, Chris Woods. Although there was later disagreement on the victors of said confrontation (the Technomancers won, hands down, but Dwarfs are known for never admitting defeat), everyone agreed that a splendid and humor-filled time was had by all. We may have even invented some new Theoretical Technomancy for use in later Bardic tales!

Eventually, I tried my hand at hawking wares in the Alley of Vendors, where I sold a few copies of my own tomes.

More excellent conversations were had with passing friends, such as the burgeoning Illusionist Robert Evans whose Filmographic works were on display during the Con. Alas and alak that I did not manage to attend them, but a failing I intend to resolve next year!

The close of the day included the gathering of the Mad Scientist of the Table Round, although they are not all mad. Well, not completely at least. I was supposed to be a participant, but failed to arrive in a timely manner, thus I relegated myself to the back of the audience chamber instead. This, I believe, was the best place for me to be as I was both mentally (I R Dumb) and physically (neck problem) incapable of engaging on the same level as the Genii who filled the fore of the room. As always, I walked away both smarter and more in awe of the brain-power present at this gathering! It is staggering!

This lasted until the wee hours of the new day, but we still had to begin the struggle of preparing our belonging to be moved out of our guest suite the following morning. Luckily, the Somnambulantic Sorcerers failed to inflict any further delays on our persons, and we were able to awake and conduct our affairs without major malfunction the following morning.

Part IV: Day the Third

After we vacated our guest suite, we enjoined the function known as the Kaffeeklatch. Apparently, this is a word derived from a language spoken outside the Overrealm that means Coffee Gossip. I fail to see the need for such obfuscation by using foreign nomenclature, but there it is. We did indeed gossip as we sat drinking our 2nd Coffees with friends Doug Loss and Anita Moore. It soon became very hard to hear as the tumult of voices in the room rose to a volume that kept understanding impossible beyond four feet or so. Still, it was a good time.

This was immediately followed by yet another stint (and not a profitable one) at the Alley of Vendors. Afterward, we packed away the last of wares in the Horseless Conveyance in the Tiered Stable and then rushed to the Suite of Edible Delights for some hurried noontime sustenance before the last participatory panel of the Con.

The Superversive Press Panel, hosted by the Mistress of Dancing Cows, A.M. Freeman, began with introductions, and a word from the Avatar of the Publisher, Sir Jason Rennie. The voice sounded oddly like that of Jon Del Arroz with a really bad accent from the Upside-Down Kingdom, but that may just be my perception. Many of the books of Superversive nature, including the newly realeased Planetary Anthology: Jupiter, were present and on display. The panel’s members included: Julie Pascal, Jon Del Arroz, A. M. Freeman, Julie Frost, Ben Wheeler, Marina Fontain, Monalisa Foster, Arlan Andrews, Hans Schantz and myself. It was a great time for me as I was able to meet some of the many Digital Realm acquaintances face-to-face for the first time.

Superversive Press Panelists
(l to r) Monalisa Foster, Marina Fontaine, Ben Wheeler, Julie Frost, A. M. Freeman, Jon Del Arroz, Julie Pascal, J. D. Beckwith (not shown: Hans Schantz, Arlan Andrews)
The Avatar of Jason Rennie (voiced badly by Jon Del Arroz)

I did manage to acquire physical copies of the Tomes of the Wanderers (Planetary Anthologies) in which I have stories. (I also got some swag! There may have also been cows dancing, but such events are better left to the imagination.)

Superversive Press Anthologies + Swag
My Physical Bibliography
My Physical Bibliography

Part V: The Winding Down

Following our brief autograph session, the MPU and I had planned to depart early, but decided to stay and attend the Closing Ceremonies. We were glad that we did, for it was very informative and the MPU came to a better understanding of just how much the people of this convention care for each other. The expressions of gratitude to the staff, despite the session’s subtitle of “Bitch at Brandy”, and the voicing of camaraderie by one an all as they declared themselves FAMILY again and again, just reinforced the feelings that I have always had after each and every time I have attended. LibertyCon is not a meeting of strangers (although we are all strange in our own unique way) with common interests. No, it is, and hopefully always will be, a Reunion of Old Family and the Adoption of New.

So, in conclusion, fond memories were made, new friends acquired, and creative intensity was renewed for this Technomantic Wordsmith at LibertyCon 32. I hope, Happy Readers, that one day you too can have such a wonderful experience.

This blog is now almost 3000 words long! This totally counts as writing! Until the next blog… Happy Reading!