Stone of Remembrance

April 30, 2012

April 30 Update

Filed under: Games, Newsletter, Travel, Writing — admin @ 17:40

This is my weekly post to bring you up to date on my world. I hope you find it interesting, informative, and/or entertaining. Last week I was recovering from a week at the Gathering of Friends (more below) and didn’t get to post the update; I’m back on track this week.

Writing Projects

1632 Novel

I am particularly occupied with a novel set in the 1632 Universe, for Baen Books. This is under contract and will likely be a 2013 release. It is set in 1636, and takes place mostly in the New World; this is a venue hitherto scarcely touched in the milieu, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with Eric Flint on this novel. Update: Eric and I are currently consulting on the book, and I hope to have news on this soon.

Elements of Mind

Two plus years ago I wrote a novel at lightning speed, set in the middle 19th century and dealing with the great pseudoscience, mesmerism. This novel has been well received by those reading it (or hearing excerpts at conventions). It is in an editor’s hands, and I hope to have good news on the subject in the next few months.

E-Books

A Song In Stone is available in e-book form from Adams Media.

You can get it from Amazon.com, or from the Apple iBookstore.

My Dark Wing series will be appearing in e-book form in the Baen library later this year. Contracts for this effort have been signed; I will provide links when the e-books are available. Update: I have recently answered a few questions from a copy editor, who seems to be near the end of the third book, so I hope to have more news soon.

King and Country

The alternate-history novel (some of you may know it as the “Ben Franklin” novel) is on hold until the 1632 book is out the door. I want to get back to it later this year.

Other Writing

I contributed a short piece to Ring of Fire III, a collection of stories set in the 1632 universe. It’s only my second published short story. Torg say, short fiction HARD.

My most recent article in TROWEL Magazine is about Past Grand Master George M. Randall, and is entitled Apostle in the Wilderness. I will have an article in the summer issue on the ”Proceedings”.

Other Projects

Rails of New England was published last spring by Rio Grande Games and is getting good reviews from strategy gamers. Be sure to get the revised rules.

I will be at Origins at the end of May, working for Rio Grande, so if you’ll be there and the game interests you, come to our demo room.

Current Reading

I am still reading Gordon Wood’s history of the Early Republic, Empire of Liberty. It’s excellent, but will probably be the current book on the nighttable for the next few weeks. Update: Still working on it.

Gathering of Friends

I had a great time at the Gathering, and played a few games that I’d like to own. Here are a few capsule reviews. I added two albums to Facebook:

There are a number of excellent photo sets, far better than mine, that are also on Facebook.

Games

Note: All pictures are from Boardgamegeek and credit goes to the original posters.

Africana

A set-collection, network-connection, card play game involving Africa, sort of. Someone compared it to Valdora, a game I’ve not played, but which shares the little wooden ‘books’ that hold cards you can buy.

Like most Schacht designs, it’s light and colorful. But I didn’t feel that there was a lot of game there. So we’ll likely Pass.

The City

A little Tom Lehmann card game. Simple, clever and fast. Our first game at the Gathering, and probably one I’d pick up. Buy.

Hawaii

Greg Daigle’s first published design. A good, well-designed resource manipulation game. It has three currencies: shells, fruit and . . . feet. Yep, feet. You use your feet to get to places where you can spend your shells. Fruit can take the place of either.

My first play felt fairly mediocre – another Euro. But I played it a second time and liked it better. We haven’t decided whether it’s one we’ll add to the collection, but it is clever and thematic and appears to have multiple paths to victory. Undecided.

Helvetia

Another game from Matthias Cramer, who brought us the tile-laying game Glen More in 2010 and the combat/competition game Lancaster in 2011.

There are some unusual elements here. Each player’s village is stocked with men and women, who must marry into other villages (no gettin’ down with your cousin in the cantons). Players therefore benefit from a sort of predatory cooperation. Once on a tile by placement or marriage, the meeple can be used to operate the tile – to produce or convert resources, or to do various other things. Players allocate actions up to the number of their deployed meeples on a number of characters, allowing building, waking up (did I mention that work puts you to sleep?), carrying goods to market, marrying, and midwifery (one child per season per married couple; they go off to school, and school graduates immediately enter the work force).

It’s quirky, and nowhere near as dark as Village; it has some interesting game to it, though I think it would be better with 4 than 3 – more choices, more paths. And, hey, look – Expansion Austrians offer yet another alternative! Who could ask for more? Undecided.

Kingdom Builder

A modular placement game by The Donald, about 20 minutes in length. I had somehow avoided playing this game; L. played it a couple of times and found it interesting; I played it once and while I would not object to playing it – it’s moderately clever, inoffensive, and obviously different each play – it’s game popcorn, and not very exciting.

The problem is that while Dominion is a diamond, this game is a cubic zirconia. It’s attractive, it’s very marketable, it’s accessible to a wide range of people – but it’s a cubic zirconia. Pass.

Last Will

Another Czech game, which was a near-final prototype last year. This game is based on the idea that players are trying to spend a certain amount of money in order to win a vast inheritance. The more dissipated you are, the better.

It’s very attractive and remarkably fun: given that it goes fairly quickly, I think it would fit with various game groups. L. and I both really liked it. Buy.

Mayan Age

Czech Games Edition has created some pretty damn innovative games, including the classic Through the Ages. Their new game, scheduled for a 2012 Essen release, is a Mayan-themed worker placement resource allocation game, with all of the usual tropes: victory point locations (temples), production (buildings), harvests to feed dudes, and the gathering of different kinds of stuff to build. The hook here is that the places where workers go are locations on interlocking gears, which all spin each round. It’s not just where you place your guys – it’s when they jump off the wheel. Buy.. We want this one.

Nefarious

The Donald’s other new game, produced by Scott Tepper’s Ascora Games. Players are mad scientists, trying to conquer the world (i.e., achieve a certain number of victory points); each turn a player chooses a role, allowing the increase of resources (hunchback minions, who have cute hunchmeeples; cards; or cash) or the addition of fiendish inventions that have all sorts of effects. In a sort of Vaccarino hallmark, each game is made different by the selection of two cards that provide rules for that game.

The art is charming; the hunchmeeples are amusing. The gameplay? Well . . . it’s important not to take a game like this too seriously. The game is a race, but falls short of our favorite race. L. liked the game more than I did, so we’re presently Undecided about this game.

Octopus Garden

It won a Canadian award. Yeah, baby. A simple placement game with a nautical theme. A little cleverness in selecting the right row or column – when there’s the right stuff there, and you have the right place to put it, and you have enough income in pearls to buy it . . . four game cynics playing the game at high speed didn’t give any of us a particularly warm feeling. Pass.

Sunrise City

A game I backed on Kickstarter that turned out to be a bigger part of my Gathering than I’d expected. The guys at Clever Mojo Games sent me an advance copy, and I taught it quite a bit during the week. It was generally received very well – the components are very pretty: thick building tiles, nice wood markers. While I wouldn’t rate it a 10, it’ll have a place on my game shelf for a while. We own it.

Trajan

Most of my experience with Stefan Feld games has been dismal. I’m not fond of most of his games, with the singular exception of Castles of Burgundy.

This year I had a chance to play Trajan, a complex interlocking worker/resource game with an interesting selection mechanic – mancala, played on your little player board. Pick up the little blocks and drop one on each spot, and wherever you stop – that’s what you do. Figuring out what everything is seems to be the first step (there are a lot of somethings). Planning your action is the second. But the real key is to think two turns ahead. There’s a lot of thinking, and thus the game is long – especially for AP-prone players.

I think there’s a lot of game there, though. So call this a Buy. Maybe.

Village

Your family members want to get born, live well, and leave a good corpse – in the chronicles and not in an unmarked grave. A little sociopathic. No, actually a lot sociopathic. The trick is not to get the stuff you want: it’s to make sure your dudes die at the right time. Don’t let them cling to life; arrange their little meeple deaths.

Not sure what to make of it, except that while it was clever, I’m not sure I found it that compelling. Probably a Pass.

Waka Waka

I am a big fan of Jambo, a 2-player game notionally based on African trading. It’s somewhat like a CCG, in that you get stuff into play and do things with it until one side or the other achieves a victory condition. But there’s no collectability; everything is already in the box. I had hoped that this game, visually similar to Jambo, would be a multiplayer implementation of one of our favorite 2-player games.

Not so much. It’s light and short, it’s got beautiful art (by Michael Menzel), it has Jambo’s parts: the resources, the gold, the cards – but it’s got more luck and less strategy. Regrettably, Pass.

Würfel Bohnanza

The bean game, as a dice game. I mean, ffs, does every game have to have a dice implementation? Apparently so. I hadn’t realized that the base game needed to be simplified or speeded up, but this version does make it a little faster. Dice are rolled, and each player can take advantage of dice choices to advance themselves along a development card, cashing out when the time is right.

It is reasonably good, though, and it has a small form factor. It’s probably a Buy, adding to our incomplete collection of All Things Bohnanza.

Facebook Updates

April 18: Watch the gears on Mayan Age, the new CGE release. (See above.)

April 23: Redshirt zombies. “He’s undead, Jim.”

April 24: Zen GPS. “If you aim for it, you are turning away from it.”

April 24: A strange little article on “gay to straight conversion”. Most interesting to me: the article indicates that facilitators ask clients if there’s any Freemasonry in the family; because, you know, that promotes homosexuality. Apparently.

April 25: An article about the TSA suggests a certain amount of Charlie Foxtrot inside the agency. Though written by a security pro, apparently some readers were unimpressed. I thought it was fairly compelling.

April 25: Dante’s Internet. Nailed.

April 26: An article about the New York City photo archive, of 870,000 recently released photos. The site wasn’t ready for social media to perform an inadvertent DOS attack, so it was down when I went to look, but it may be up now.

April 26: I found my parents in the 1940 census.

April 27: My friend and publisher Ian Strock gives his account of the flight of the Enterprise over New York City. Later on, the shuttle gets caught in his hair like a piece of dandruff.

April 27: The talking stone head is explained.

April 30: Smart phone versatility is enumerated.

Upcoming Conventions and Appearances

May 25-28, 2012: I will be an attending author at Balticon 2012 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. I have not yet received a schedule.

May 30-June 3, 2012: I will be at Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio. I’ll be working for Rio Grande Games.

June 30, 2012: I will be the guest speaker at Glenwood Lodge #65 in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Looking forward to visiting the brethren there again.

August 30-September 3, 2012: I will be an attending author at Chicago Worldcon, the 70th Worldcon.

I have not made a commitment for a convention in the fall, but we are already signed up to attend San Antonio Worldcon on Labor Day Weekend 2013, and have presupported London in 2014.

Parting Words

I continue to appreciate the support and encouragement I receive from family and friends. The loss of a long time and close friend last fall reminds me as always how slender a reed life is, and how much I feel compelled (as the Masonic lecture says) to “contribute to the common stock of knowledge and understanding.” I try to say what I mean, to convey my affection rather than withhold it, and to be truthful and honest to those I meet as well as to myself.

Thank you for reading.

January 6, 2011

Walter Hunt Author Newsletter Volume 8, Issue 1

Filed under: Newsletter, Writing — admin @ 15:50

January, 2011

Welcome to the first issue of my mailing list newsletter for 2011, intended to provide you with information about my work, my website www.walterhunt.com, and my activities and appearances. There hasn’t been much in the way of news for more than a year, for various reasons. I have resolved to remedy that with more frequent posts to the blog. Thank you for your patience if you’re still here.

The Dark Wing Universe

The Dark Wing series is out of print in English. I am working toward getting the books into e-book format.

The Dark Wing is available in Russian at Ozon and Books.ru.

The series is available in German from Random House / Heyne, available from amazon.de:

  • Die Dunkle Schwinge
  • Der Dunkle Pfad
  • Der Dunkle Stern
  • Der Dunkle Kreuzzug

A Song In Stone

A Song In Stone is back in print from Fantastic Books and can be ordered from Amazon.com. It is in a nice trade paperback edition, with a handful of corrections to the original. Please help support the book in its new edition.

I thank the reference librarians both at my public library and my college library for their generous assistance in research. I have placed a copy of an extensive glossary on my web site to enhance your reading pleasure.

King & Country

I have set this project aside for now, though I still have hopes of getting it finished and into publication. Last summer, while in North Carolina, I visited the place where the final scenes will take place.

Elements of Mind

During the summer and fall of 2009 I began working on a story set in the middle 19th century and dealing with the world of mesmerism. This book turned out to be Elements of Mind, which is completed and is now under consideration by a publisher. I hope to have more news about that by spring. If it is successfully sold, there is more than enough plot to extend beyond that first book to others. More news when I get it – but something that came out so quickly and smoothly gives me the impression that it’s worthy of being sold.

1636: Drums Along the Mohawk

When I attended NASFiC last summer, I was hoping to interest an editor or publisher in Elements of Mind or King and Country – but I really had less than high hopes about whether the trip to North Carolina was even worth it. But occasionally serendipity bounces my way.

I had the opportunity to sit with Eric Flint, and came away from NASFiC with a handshake that has led to a contract to write a novel in the very successful 1632 book series – with the preliminary title as given above. It is set in the New World, an area that is largely unexplored in the 1632verse, and I’ve been heavily researching this fall (see reading notes below). I’m very excited to be working with Eric and with Baen on this project and will be at it most of this year.

Other Projects

I am pleased to announce that after more than twenty years of evolution and development, the New England railroad/business game I developed with a long-time close friend has been sold to Rio Grande Games for publication in 2011. Many, many people have playtested this game over its many years of life, and I hope to include all of their names in the rule book. Rio Grande is an outstanding company that sets a very high standard in production quality, and it will be an honor to have a game with our names and Rio Grande’s name on the box.

Upcoming Appearances

We will be in attendance at Arisia 2011 in Boston, January 14-17, 2011, at which I was the Guest of Honor two years ago.

I have been selected to be the guest speaker at the Louisiana Lodge of Research on Friday, February 11, 2011, in Monroe, Louisiana, where I will be speaking about Rosslyn Chapel.

I will be at Boskone 48 in Boston, February 18-20, 2011.

We will be at the Renovation Worldcon in Reno, Nevada, August 17-21, 2011.

Worldcon Bids

Chicago has won the bid for the 2012 Worldcon. I have not been in Chicago for some time and I’m looking forward to showing my family around in that great city.

We have presupported the 2013 San Antonio Worldcon bid, and the 2014 London Worldcon bid.

What I’m Reading

I read the Economist, a weekly news magazine. You should too.

I’m reading David Hackett Fisher’s Champlain’s Dream, as research for the new 1632verse novel. Over the last eighteen months I’ve read a large number of books, and if I summarized all of them for you I’d never get this newsletter out.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to everyone for their continued encouragement and support. Having a chance to write professionally means I get to do what I truly love, and I hope you will always feel that your confidence in me is well-placed. A bit over a year ago, when I was somewhat despondent about my writing, my wife told me (in not so many words) to shut up and write. I’ve been doing that, and hope for a very good 2011.

Keep reading, and keep in touch.

Feel free to forward this to anyone who might be interested.

Content © 2011, Walter H. Hunt.

January 1, 2010

NASFIC 2010 in Raleigh

Filed under: Travel, Walter\'s Schedule, Writing — admin @ 09:43
August 6, 2010toAugust 9, 2010

We’ll be in attendance at NASFiC in Raleigh, North Carolina, August 6-10, 2010.

September 15, 2009

Music In the Stones

Filed under: A Song In Stone, Commentary, Writing — admin @ 06:46

My novel A Song In Stone follows on the idea that the extensive carvings in the Lady Chapel at Rosslyn near Edinburgh encode a piece of music that, if found, would “heal the world”. Apparently, there are all kinds of music hidden in all kinds of stones, as reported here.

Markings on a 16th Century carving from Stirling Castle could be the oldest surviving piece of written Scottish instrumental music, historians believe.

A sequence of 0s, Is and IIs have been found on one of the Stirling Heads – wooden medallions which would have decorated the castle’s royal palace.

It is believed the music could have been played on instruments such as harps, viols, fiddles and lutes.

There’s even an audio interpretation of the music.

Thanks to reader n1vux for passing this on.

Arisia 2010

Filed under: Travel, Walter\'s Schedule, Writing — admin @ 06:26
January 16, 2010 15:00toJanuary 18, 2010 15:00

I will be a professional guest at Arisia January 15-18, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cambridge, MA. Gardner Dozois will be the editor/author GOH.

September 13, 2009

Travelling People

Filed under: Commentary, Writing — admin @ 13:57

I am a freeborn man of the traveling people
Got no fixed abode, with nomads I am numbered
Country lanes and byways were always my ways
Never fancied being lumbered

I read the Economist; as I always say in my newsletter, you should too. In the September 5th edition there was an obituary for Stanley Robertson, “the last of Scotland’s Traveller storytellers”, which put me in mind of the above lyric. I heard it sung by Gordon Bok on the album A Tune For November.

I had never heard of Mr. Robertson, but the song and the traditions of the “Travelling People” was something I’d heard about. I am not surprised to learn how deep the tradition goes, and am pleased to know that Mr. Robertson was made a Master of Aberdeen University in order to preserve the tales “told through the eye of the skull“. The linked article conveys a sense of the otherness of the world the Travellers’ tales describe, something like the feeling I’d faintly sensed during my one-night stay on the island of Iona in 2005, a place that is described as “where heaven and earth are closer together”.

A little poking around turned up this tribute as well as this short video clip of Mr. Robertson telling a story.

I hope to learn more about these deep storytelling roots. Fare thee well, Mr. Robertson.

August 3, 2009

Walter Hunt Author Newsletter, Volume 6, Issue 3

Filed under: A Song In Stone, Commentary, Newsletter, Writing — admin @ 12:09

August, 2009

Welcome to the third issue of my mailing list newsletter for 2009, intended to provide you with information about my work, my website www.walterhunt.com, and my activities and appearances. I am currently posting this newsletter from Toronto, where we’re having a short visit prior to Montréal Worldcon.

Books Update

The Dark Wing Universe

The Dark Wing series is mostly out of print.

The Dark Wing is available in Russian at Ozon and Books.ru.

The series is available in German from Random House / Heyne, available from amazon.de:

A Song In Stone

A Song In Stone has been placed out of print by Wizards of the Coast, but it can be ordered from amazon.com. No paperback edition is planned, but it has been exceptionally well received despite a lack of publicity.

As the rights are back in my hands, I am actively pursuing a new edition and trying to place the sequel (which is 40,000 words along).

I am considering the idea of making it into a podcast book. To that end, I am looking for a partnership with someone who possesses the necessary expertise to make it a product that meets or exceeds my audience’s expectations – and not just a recording of me reading my own work. It deserves better than that, and so do you.

I thank the reference librarians both at my public library and my college library for their generous assistance in research. I have placed a copy of an extensive glossary to enhance your reading pleasure.

King & Country

As reported previously I’ve been working on some short(er) material set in the King & Country alternate history timeline. The short(er) work has a good chance of appearing in print soon; more news as I have it. More information on the background on the main site. The novel is now about 40% complete. I was recently told by a historian (of whom I’m a great fan, and who gave me a few minutes of his time when he visited Newport, RI to give a talk): “you know the history well enough: time to write the story.” So I’m doing just that. You will like this book, I hope.

The book has currently advanced to approximately 45,000 words, and I have written three shorter pieces – set in 1815, 1833 and 1843 – that I would like to sell. Alternate history is a tough subject and I hold such work (including my own) to high standards – see my article in the August 2009 Crossed Genres magazine. Tip o’ the hat to Bud Sparhawk, who helped me out at a recent convention with tips on writing short fiction.

Mesmerism Project

Sometimes you can’t write anything you can stand to reread; sometimes you write like your pants are on fire. My trousers have been flammable like you would not believe during the last three or four weeks: I have written nearly 18,000 words on a book set in the middle 19th century that deals with the mesmerism phenomenon. Early readings have received extremely positive feedback. There’s an outline, and I expect to submit it shortly for consideration. I hope to have more news on that soon.

In the meanwhile – I’m doing what I always suggest to young writers: feeding the muse.

Other Projects

I am pleased to announce that after more than twenty years of evolution and development, the New England railroad/business game I developed with a long-time close friend has been sold to Rio Grande Games for publication in 2010. Many, many people have playtested this game over its many years of life, and I hope to include all of their names in the rule book. Rio Grande is an outstanding company that sets a very high standard in production quality, and it will be an honor to have a game with our names and Rio Grande’s name on the box.

I recently wrote an article entitled Here Our Story Begins about writing (and judging) Alternate History work. I hope to do more of this sort of thing, and I hope you enjoy it and support the magazine. It will be available at Worldcon in dead-tree edition.

Upcoming Appearances

2009

We will be in attendance at Montréal Worldcon August 6-10. My schedule is as follows:

Thursday, August 6

1900, D-2806: Card & Board Gaming. Teen programming.

Saturday, August 8

1200, P-510C: First Contact: The Meeting
With: Gay Haldeman (moderator), Chuck Cady, Duncan McGregor, Gay Haldeman, Gregory A. Wilson, Sherwood Smith
“What would happen if aliens came to Earth? What would you say? What do you do? Offer lunch? What would governments do? How would the world react?”

Sunday, August 9

11:00, P-516AB The Singularity: O RLY?
With: Peter Watts (moderator), Gregory A. Wilson, Jody Lynn Nye, Paul Chafe
Vernor Vinge first proposed the idea of the Singularity in 1988: more than two decades on, are we measurably closer to it happening? Have the intervening years provided any evidence for or against its likelihood?

15:30, P-522A Author Reading
I will read from one or another ongoing project. Hope to see you there.

I am intending to be at one of the middle state conventions – either Capclave or Philcon – later in the year.

2010

I will be at both Boston conventions in January and February. I have been invited to RavenCon in Virginia in April.

We will not be at Australia Worldcon. I’m expecting that we will attend Raleigh NASFiC in early August.

Worldcon Bids

The 2011 Seattle Worldcon bid has been withdrawn, which is unfortunate. The only standing bid is for Reno, which we have presupported.

There is only one bid announced for 2012, Chicago (as I reported on my blog several months ago.) There is a Texas bid for 2013 that will be having a bid party at Montréal Worldcon.

What I’m Reading

I read the Economist, a weekly news magazine. You should too.

I recently read The Exchange Artist, a book about the first bank failure in United States history – engineered by Andrew Dexter, Jr., a sort of early 19th century Bernie Madoff. It’s a little known chapter in history, and I found it fascinating.

I would also like to put in a another plug for my good friend Lawrence Schoen’s first novel Buffalito Destiny, which I had a chance to read and blurb. His work in short fiction should whet your appetite for this entertaining longer effort. BIG CLOCK! (If you don’t know what that means, count yourself fortunate.)

I also have Erfworld in my RSS list. It’s another webcomic that’s hard to explain: you have to read it, and read it carefully, in order to get what Rob Balder and Jamie Noguchi are doing. I’ve met Rob (but not Jamie); what is it about webcomic authors being great guys? I don’t know. If I could draw I could be one of them :)

Final Thoughts

Thanks to everyone for their continued encouragement and support. Having a chance to write professionally means I get to do what I truly love, and I hope you will always feel that your confidence in me is well-placed. Keep reading, and keep in touch.

Feel free to forward this to anyone who might be interested.

Content © 2009, Walter H. Hunt.

June 23, 2009

Walter Hunt Author Newsletter, Volume 6, Issue 2

Filed under: A Song In Stone, Commentary, Games, Newsletter, Travel, Writing — admin @ 14:58

June, 2009

Welcome to the second issue of my mailing list newsletter for 2009, intended to provide you with information about my work, my website www.walterhunt.com, and my activities and appearances. It has been a terribly long time since the last one; I apologize for that, but it has been hectic, confusing, and busy. Things are still hectic, but there is at least some new news to report.

Books Update

The Dark Wing Universe

The Dark Wing series is mostly out of print.

The Dark Wing is available in Russian at Ozon and Books.ru.

The series is available in German from Random House / Heyne, available from amazon.de:

A Song In Stone

A Song In Stone has been placed out of print by Wizards of the Coast, but it can be ordered from amazon.com. No paperback edition is planned, but it has been exceptionally well received despite a lack of publicity.

I am considering the idea of making it into a podcast book. To that end, I am looking for a partnership with someone who possesses the necessary expertise to make it a product that meets or exceeds my audience’s expectations – and not just a recording of me reading my own work. It deserves better than that, and so do you.

I am doing all I can to promote the book by personal appearances. I have received a number of invitations from Masonic organizations to give a talk on Rosslyn and on A Song In Stone; when I appear, I have copies of the book with me to sell. I have already redirected some portion of receipts to Masonic charities such as the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, in part due to the efforts of my friend and brother Bob Winterhalter. To my Masonic friends: if you know a Masonic body such as a Lodge of Instruction that would like to have a speaker, and would permit me to sell books, please contact me and let me know. The same goes for educational institutions such as colleges; I’m more than willing to put miles on the car.

What it means to my other readers: if I could send a copy to the many people who have taken an interest in my writing over the last several years, I would – but it’s neither practical nor profitable. If you can’t afford to buy a hardcover, or prefer not to purchase books in that format, I understand. But your local public or college library might. In the acknowledgements to A Song In Stone, I thank the reference librarians both at my public library and my college library for their generous assistance in research. I have placed a copy of an extensive glossary to enhance your reading pleasure.

King & Country

As reported previously I’ve been working on some short(er) material set in the King & Country alternate history timeline. The short(er) work has a good chance of appearing in print soon; more news as I have it. More information on the background on the main site. The novel is now about 40% complete. I was recently told by a historian (of whom I’m a great fan, and who gave me a few minutes of his time when he visited Newport, RI to give a talk): “you know the history well enough: time to write the story.” So I’m doing just that. You will like this book, I hope.

Other Writing

I have been developing a proposal for a book set in the nineteenth century that deals with the mesmeric movement. It’s got an outline but isn’t quite a proposal yet.

Other Projects

I am pleased to announce that after more than twenty years of evolution and development, the New England railroad/business game I developed with a long-time close friend has been sold to Rio Grande Games for publication in 2010. Many, many people have playtested this game over its many years of life, and I hope to include all of their names in the rule book. Rio Grande is an outstanding company that sets a very high standard in production quality, and it will be an honor to have a game with our names and Rio Grande’s name on the box.

Upcoming Appearances

2009

I will be at Readercon in Burlington, Massachusetts, July 10-12 as a participant. This literary convention is one of the best events on the speculative fiction calendar, and the Saturday night entertainment is not to be missed.

I will be at Confluence in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 24-26. I was recently asked to be a judge in the PARSEC short story contest, and I was asked to be present when we give the awards for the best stories.

We will be in attendance at Montréal Worldcon August 6-10.

I am intending to be at one of the middle state conventions – either Capclave or Philcon – later in the year.

2010

I will be at both Boston conventions in January and February. I have been invited to RavenCon in Virginia in April.

We will not be at Australia Worldcon. I’m expecting that we will attend Raleigh NASFiC in early August.

Worldcon Bids

The 2011 Seattle Worldcon bid has been withdrawn, which is unfortunate. The only standing bid is for Reno, which we have presupported.

There is only one bid announced for 2012, Chicago (as I reported on my blog several months ago.) There is a Texas bid for 2013 that will be having a bid party at Montréal Worldcon.

What I’m Reading

I read the Economist, a weekly news magazine. You should too.

During our visit to Amsterdam I bought Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies, one of the group that helped conceal eight Dutch Jews for two years during the Nazi occupation – until they were sold out for thirty pieces of silver. This book was not a literary masterpiece but was compelling and moving; I cannot speak too highly of it, or in praise of the woman who wrote it. She’s still alive as of this writing, having turned 100 this year. It is a personal account of a terrible time and a monument to indomitable spirit that fascism and hatred could not crush.

I have just finished reading The Lunar Men, an account of the “Lunar Society” – a group of five polymaths and natural philosophers (Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, James Watt, and others) whose interaction sparked a generation of inventors and thinkers. It’s a great read.

I would also like to put in a plug for my good friend Lawrence Schoen’s first novel Buffalito Destiny, which I had a chance to read and blurb. His work in short fiction should whet your appetite for this entertaining longer effort. BIG CLOCK! (If you don’t know what that means, count yourself fortunate.)

On a much lighter note, my daughter read The Lightning Thief in sixth grade, and it was a great romp. (She chides me that I never read fiction anymore.) There are other books in the series, and an author website with a study guide and everything. Despite all of that it’s an enjoyable read.

I recently received the newest book in the Schlock Mercenary dead-tree editions, The Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance. The cover features a worried toaster on a counter in front of a group of heavily armed individuals. I met the author of this brilliant webcomic, Howard Tayler, at Denver Worldcon last year, and we talked writing and plot late into the night. He’s a terrific guy and has even given me props in his blog. I have it on RSS feed.

I also have Erfworld in my RSS list. It’s another webcomic that’s hard to explain: you have to read it, and read it carefully, in order to get what Rob Balder and Jamie Noguchi are doing. I’ve met Rob (but not Jamie); what is it about webcomic authors being great guys? I don’t know. If I could draw I could be one of them :)

Final Thoughts

Thanks to everyone for their continued encouragement and support. Having a chance to write professionally means I get to do what I truly love, and I hope you will always feel that your confidence in me is well-placed. Keep reading, and keep in touch.

Feel free to forward this to anyone who might be interested.

Content © 2009, Walter H. Hunt.

March 24, 2009

European Tour Spring 2009: Day 9/10 – Dortmund, Part 2

Filed under: Commentary, Travel, Writing — admin @ 13:57

I’ve gone to conventions with L. (and with A., since she was born) – but mostly I’ve gone alone since I became a professional writer. One of the things I have noticed is that they tend to run together after awhile: same panels, same panelists, same format. An hour, three or four pros or fans or whatever; introductions, plugs for new work, occasional grandstanding or showboating, a few witty comments. Dealer room; con suite and/or green room; art show, masquerade, gaming, room parties. Hotel rooms all look pretty much the same after a while as well.

Worldcons are the exception, of course, though the majority of those are a regional con writ extremely large, spread over several hotels, with many more room parties, dealers and attendees you might not normally see, a bigger masquerade, generally more more more. Denver last summer was like that, though like most Worldcons we got to see the location, not just the hotels where it was taking place. The Worldcon in Glasgow was a little different flavor (or flavour, if you like), from the parties to the onsite pub – but it was readings, panels, game room, group discussions, dealers, parties . . .

Dortcon was none of those things really. There was some steady programming – a filk track, for example, that featured a talented harp player and an American now resident in Germany; A. and L. both enjoyed that. There wasn’t a game room per se, but there was some sort of ongoing Battletech tournament that I studiously avoided. (Game conventions are popular in Germany, apparently, but it’s a different setting and a largely different audience.) Markus Heitz and I both had hour-long readings, in the main auditorium with a microphone, and Dieter Rottermund (the artist GoH) had a chance to show some of his recent work. (He’s very good. There was no art show, but there was a nice display of his work – mostly book covers.)

We were introduced at the opening ceremonies and given a minute or two to speak: forewarned, I was able to carry it off in German, much to the delight of the audience – it was ther first hint that I could speak the language. Each of the three of us had an hour-long interview with Arno; mine also featured another attendee, Dirk van den Boom, who spent almost the entire hour messing around with me (though he denies it). I refused to be panicked – we got to joking, and again I was able to carry on well in German, and received a lot of applause at the end. (They liked me – but better yet, they understood my German. I realize that I’m going back to that idea a lot, but I was really surprised both on Saturday and Sunday just how quickly it came back and how easily it flowed. Their expectations were low, of course, but I don’t believe they were humoring me: one of the litmus tests for me was always whether, if I’d begun a conversation in German, a native speaker would decide that he or she would rather practice their English on me rather than let me practice my German on them. If they replied in German it indicated that I was doing well.

The toughest challenge was Saturday night. I originally thought I was to somehow participate; but instead they’d chosen a sort of prose/poetry slam format. I sat in the back for three quarters of an hour or so and listened. There were a few very funny bits, but overall I couldn’t really understand it all. It was too damn fast. There’s fluency, and then there’s fluency. I couldn’t keep up. But by Saturday night I’d managed to hit every other mark; talking with fans, participating in interviews and discussions, and everything else.


It Was Too Fast (photo by Peter Fleissner).

There were only a few pros there overall: Heitz, Rottermund, myself, and a couple of others that seemed to be on hand to sell their books (they didn’t get interviewed or participate in panels, which seemed a waste of potential entertainment). It was really all about the three of us, with a few other presentations – one on Doctor Who, one on space travel, one on Jean-Michel Jarre . . . in some ways, the DortCon committee had organized a literary-only convention to suit themselves and had invited a few guests with star power to help enhance the program. Rottermund is very talented; Heitz is prolific and well-known in Germany. I was the recommendation of one of the committee members, who sold the idea to Arno and the others. (How cool is that?)

I think that from me they got more than they bargained for. They expected a writer whose work had been well-received in German translation. The group they’ve invited is a very small one: Norman Spinrad, Larry Niven, Alastair Reynolds, and most recently Nancy Kress – all very good writers – and me. Do I rank with them? In an absolute sense, no, of course not: but the DortCon committee chooses guests to please themselves. They aren’t primarily from Dortmund; Arno and Gabi are from Düsseldorf; others are from elsewhere. They have a Verein, a sort of association that is more like a club than a corporation, and that in turn is a member of a German club federation. They help vote for the EuroCon, and interact with other con groups (some of them attend the con in Leipzig, for example) but DortCon is largely about getting together every other year and having this literary thing with a German writer, a non-German writer, and an artist. It’s not a EuroCon, it’s not a Worldcon, it’s not even Balticon. It’s 15% the size of Balticon. It’s less than half the size of Readercon, which it probably most closely resembles, with its literary bent and Saturday night entertainment. But despite those figures, it’s among the largest cons of its kind in Germany at a little more than 200 attendees. It was good enough to make an online newspaper, though.

At the closing dinner Sunday night Arno and I discussed the con scene. He in particular, but both he and Gabi, are certainly SMOFs in the broad sense; Arno is an impresario, a master of ceremonies, a fan who enjoys being a fan in the best possible way. I cannot be sure, but as I said, putting us on a first name basis from the first made him very pleased.


The Impresario (photo by Peter Fleissner).

This points directly at my philosophy about this entire pro thing. I don’t think I deserved a spot at the table at cons until I became a pro, but if asked by an unpublished writer-want-to-be, I would say that the difference between us was that I was five books ahead. Until I reach the status of Larry Niven or Scott Card or Jack McDevitt, I’ll always feel that way. Maybe even then. It’s extremely gratifying to be recognized and appreciated for my published work – I’m proud of it. But perspective on these things is very important.

I’ll put up a final post with a few pictures from the con, along with some concluding thoughts. There are a few people who were going to post “after-action” comments on the convention, including Arno; I’ll put links to them. Watch for all of that shortly.

March 22, 2009

European Tour Spring 2009: Day 6/7 – Köln

Filed under: A Song In Stone, Commentary, Travel, Writing — admin @ 18:00

With the Eurail pass, we had the ability to take just about any train we wanted, and chose to time our departure so that we could arrive in Köln (Cologne) in the early afternoon. Thus, we packed up our affairs in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning and boarded an ICE train headed for Germany.

Those who travel in Europe don’t need to be told about the ubiquity and sophistication of European trains. This isn’t something we really have in America, at least not anymore; we are wedded to cars, and travel long distances by airplane. But traveling by train is really civilized: you can sit at a table; you can get up and walk around; you can even get a cup of coffee. (In fact, there are people who walk through the train and bring it to you.) IC and ICE trains are about as nice a way to travel as there is.


Service With A Smile

It took us about two and a half hours to travel from Amsterdam to Köln. Holland is flat, mostly; it starts getting bumpy in the south and west, and really acquires terrain features once you cross into Germany. When the signs appear in German you know you’ve crossed the border; within the EU there is no passport control, so we’d not have noticed otherwise. The last stretch of rail into Köln takes you over the Rhine River, not very far from where the Romans crossed it: they built the town and gave it its name – Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinesium – in the first century AD, after Varus lost his legions to the Germans. You cross the big railroad bridge, flanked by statues, and then you see the cathedral, the biggest thing in the entire city – the Kölner Dom.


Biggest Thing.

It’s right next to the train station. Our hotel was just on the other side of the Domplatz, a short walk (with rolling suitcases.) It wasn’t very expensive, and it was very central – the Rhine was down the hill, the Dom was across the street, and the central pedestrian zone was around the corner.

Köln is an interesting city. It’s very old: an archepiscopal seat. one of the places that elected the Holy Roman Emperor, built on an old Roman town, built over Germanic ruins, built over a Neolithic settlement. Lots of stuff came to light as a result of the extensive bombing to which it was subjected during the Second World War (in all, it was struck more than 260 times by Allied air raids); when they went to build the new City Hall in the 1950s, they discovered the foundations of the Praetorium, the original administrative building for the Colonia. In the picture below, taken during the war, the area where the ruins were found is in the upper left corner (the Dom itself is of course in the center). The place where our hotel was located is top center.


Cologne: Ruins, Created and Uncovered

This is now a <a href="wonderful museum, along with the extensive remains of a Roman villa located right next to the Dom. We toured both on “Kombi-Tickets”: they’ve done a lot of work to illustrate life in Roman times, recovering and reconstructing. L. really loved it (A. and I walked through the displays, and then waited for her to finish.)

The highlight of the visit to Köln was, of course, the Dom itself. The foundations were first laid in 1248, and it was under construction for six centuries – on and off. It’s a beautiful church: a Gothic cathedral, like the ones in A Song In Stone, ogival arches and all. This isn’t the carving-filled setting that Rosslyn is – it’s much more traditional, wide nave flanked by huge stone piers, high-windowed triforium, ambulatory around the high altar, narrow crypt. (On the steps down to the crypt, there was a unicursal labyrinth on the floor. These places all have their hidden secrets.)


Gothic, Ogival Arches and All

A. and I decided to pay the fee to climb to the top of the tower. It turns out, to no one’s surprise, that this is an activity which should be left to young people. 509 steps on a narrow circular staircase at 12-year-old’s speed is an undertaking for 50-year-old knees.

About three-quarters of the way up, there’s a side passage that leads to the bell chamber. This is a key thing to see; there’s a little kiosk there, where a guy will sell you a postcard that reads “I climbed Köln Cathedral Tower – Only Available Here”. He goes up those stairs every day to sit in the kiosk. (I asked). There are a dozen of them; I hope the guy in the kiosk has earplugs. We stopped for a few pictures, then climbed the rest of the way to the upper chamber, where there was a steel staircase that seemed a little too unsteady for either of us; I drew the line at that, pronounced myself satisfied with the climb, and we made our way back down. My knees and legs shook for an hour afterward.

There’s no good way to photograph the Dom in a way that gives perspective. I decided to lay on my back on the side of a large rectangular stone fountain, so I could take a picture of the building against the sky. The picture below gives a nice view, but doesn’t really do it justice. You just have to step back way too far for that.


This is a closeup.

And as no part of the trip report would be complete without some mention of food, I should mention an excellent meal we enjoyed down near the Rhine – just around the corner from our hotel – at Slavia, which served a combination of traditional German dishes and Croatian specialities. They had an English-language menu, but only on request – it’s the sort of place that bold tourists and German speakers enjoy, but timid tourists miss because they consider the language barrier to be insuperable. Some of the best (and most reasonably-priced) meals you can have on the Continent are where native speakers eat, and Slavia was no exception.

We said goodbye to Köln all too quickly. I think I could spend a week wandering around looking at things – for example, we walked through the Minoritenkirche, where Johannes Duns Scotus is buried: it, too, is a beautiful Gothic church, on a much smaller scale, a Franciscan church that would serve as a good model for several places in A Song In Stone. But our time was short, and the convention in Dortmund was coming up soon. On Thursday afternoon we rolled our suitcases over to Köln Hauptbahnhof, and headed for Dortmund.


A. Says Goodbye.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress