Stone of Remembrance

July 30, 2007

Archon 31 / NASFiC

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 16:48

I’ll be at NASFIC in a few days and will be very busy. Here’s my scheduled, cribbed from the Pocket Program online:

  • Thursday, 9 PM: The Search for Extra Solar Planets, with John K. Strickland Jr., Michael Brotherton, R.M. Meluch, Robert Reed, John Kaufmann, Roger Tener and Jack McDevitt.
  • Friday, 11 AM: How Do I Put Magic Into My Writing?, with Carol Berg, Barbara Hodges, Kelly McCullough and Nick Pollotta.
  • Friday, 12 Noon: Hey! Is That a Klingon Thing? (YA program) wth Deborah Chester, Jack McDevitt and Allison Stein.
  • Friday, 6 PM: What is Magic and How Does It Work? with Mickie Mueller and Janni Lee Simner.
  • Friday, 11 PM: I’m Just Here for the Beer! with John Novak, Toni Weisskopf, Mitchell Bentley, Jayme Lynn Blaschke, Glen Cook, jan howard finder, Lee Martindale and Charles Petit.
  • Saturday, 11 AM: Freemasonry and Fandom, with one other fellow Mason.
  • Saturday, 3 PM: Solar System V. 2.0 with Alexis Glynn Latner, Gary Hanak, Michael Brotherton, John K. Strickland Jr. and Ross Hathaway.
  • Saturday, 5 PM: Reading. (I’ll be reading from A Song In Stone.)
  • Sunday, 2 PM: Autographing.

I’m on the road at the moment (and will be posting info and pictures about our trip), but wanted to keep anyone who was looking for me at NASFiC up to date.

July 10, 2007

Hunt on the Air

Filed under: Commentary, Writing — admin @ 15:29

Or, more specifically, on a podcast. I was interviewed by Shaun Farrell of Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing. Hope you enjoy the interview – I had fun doing it.

July 9, 2007

Winnowing the Game Collection: Round 2

Filed under: Games — admin @ 21:36

The game collection contraction effort has reached the second round. In the first go, we kept two full-sized games and one small card game, gave the thumbs-down to four games, and have retained one for consideration.

Here are the games in Round 2. Again, please keep my objective in mind: to send games away that don’t get played, not to pass judgement on games that might be favorites (but not our favorites.)

Merchants of Amsterdam

It’s back . . . cool clock notwithstanding, Merchants is a very interesting game, that deserves another shot at our game table. Still, I don’t know if it will survive closer scrutiny if the clock isn’t there to enhance the playing experience. (Ours is definitely non-functional, with very little use.)

Das Amulett

An Alan Moon design from 2001, Das Amulett is a resource-acquisition and resource-expenditure game with an interesting bidding mechanism. Players move around the board trying to gather jewels to complete an amulet, and have special cards that give them powers . . . but the cards have a time limit built into them. Like many such games, clever play is built on card combinations, and there’s a lot to keep track of. A player with a particularly good combo can run to victory very quickly, and the game plays in a short enough time that it’s worth trying again.

Apparently it’s to be shortly rereleased as “Wizards’ Brew”; our set is in German with English card text attached to the cards.

UPDATE 17 June: Played three-player with L. and A. They both really liked it, though it took awhile to get the two types of auctions straight. When bidding for power cards the auction is once-around, with each player limited to available power stones (10 minus the number already allocated); when bidding for jewels on the board, the auction goes until someone wins. The biggest tactical mistake on the board is having no cards to bid with; an experienced player can run the table quickly, as noted above. Still, it was an enjoyable game and it does have beautiful components.
VERDICT: It stays, at least for now.


Beautiful plumage, mate.

Medieval Merchant

This game is a Christwart Conrad design, originally published in 1998. It’s an area control game of sorts, in which houses are placed on cities to gain control for later scoring; the board is a tangle of roads and territories. This one has been on our shelf for a long time (we bought it when it was new) and is probably not well known in most Eurogaming circles; along with Moon’s UP it’s one of the first to allow six players (instead of the usual five).

The only other Conrad design I’ve actually played was Vino, released the following year by Goldsieber; I thought that one was a complete dud. This one . . . it’s in Round 2, so we’ll see.

New England

An Alan Moon design from 2003. The game is about land development – optimizing the use of available tiles to acquire money and other resources. It’s mechanically very sound and easy to play, characteristics of a good Moon design; but I’ve never found it particularly compelling. It found its way into our collection by trade (with Alan, actually) and has never seen too much play.

UPDATE 2 July: Played a three-player game with A. and L. The game is extremely straightforward: bid high and pay more, but get a better choice; bid low, save your money, take what’s left. There are cards and tiles, and the current first player gets to choose 3-6 of one and the rest of the other, totalling 9. There are a few specials: ships, barns, pilgrims.

Overall, the ladies were unimpressed, and I was whelmed at best. It was a close game but there was precious little excitement.

VERDICT: It goes. Sorry, Alan.

Capitol

Alan Moon strikes again. 2001 was an amazingly productive year for Alan, and this game was acquired from his hands at one of the earliest Unity Games events. Unlike Das Amulett (see above) or the wonderful San Marco, however, this game – that some people swear by – has never really gotten much play. As a result, it’s time for it to get put to the test.

UPDATE 9 July: L. and I played a two-player game, which won’t really give you a feel for the interaction part of the game – it’s got auctions after all. There’s a lot of cleverness in the game, with the cards serving different roles (type of card for actions during construction, number on card for bidding during auction), and the idea of building off board to place on board . . . but the mechanic fell flat for L. I don’t think it will come out anytime, so it’s not something that needs to stay.

VERDICT: It goes. Sorry again, Alan.

Cape Horn

This 1999 Thorsten Gimmler design got a lot of play when we first added it to the collection, but has fared badly on Boardgamegeek. It’s a race game, with an unusual design for movement – the placement of navigational tiles. There’s a certain amount of luck involved with the drawing of these tiles – so it tends to be more of a tactical game than a strategic one, and of course it’s only a sailing game in theme and not in the sense of a “realistic” sailing simulation (as with a game like Regatta, which has tacking ‘n’ stuff. But it does have a sailing “feel” at least at some level.

Gimmler’s other designs have at times made it into the collection, particularly the fine two-player Odin’s Ravens and the clever, nasty Geschenkt (No Thanks), both of which get played regularly.


Around the Horn

UPDATE 15 June: Played two-player with L., and I pointed out the win to her. We liked playing it and it’ll get to come out again.
VERDICT: It stays, at least for now.

Babel

One of the Kosmos 2-Player series, this Uwe Rosenberg et. al. design revolves around card play of various “cultures” to build, enlarge, and knock over temples. It’s a tactical game which rewards planning and hand management, and ultimately is much more of a game of skill than luck, but for some reason has rarely made it to our table.

UPDATE 15 June: L. didn’t think much of the playability of this one. There are people who really like this one, but for a two-player game to survive in our collection, L. has to like it. She didn’t, not really at all.
VERDICT: It goes.

Stephenson’s Rocket

This 1999 Knizia design was a very early Rio Grande import. It looks like a lot of other train games – except that there’s a veto/voting mechanism to control the direction of development, there’s a whole stock manipulation aspect, and the merger mechanism is very different. There are a number of different ways to score, and the game takes some effort to wrap your head around it: some devoted, clever gamers I know have given up on it, unable to determine what to do. Still, it plays fairly quickly, and like most Knizias has a lot of “I have three things to do and only two actions” feel to it.


Stephenson’s Rocket midgame

UPDATE 21 June: We played it three-player; L. and I wound up close, with A. trailing behind. All of us played well – but A. despised it and L. said that it hurt her head. The problem is that I still like the game, though it hurts my head too. I don’t think this will wind up being on our table very often.

VERDICT: Unless I decide I want to bring it out from time to time to hurt people’s heads, it probably goes.

July 7, 2007

SF Scope

Filed under: Commentary, Writing — admin @ 09:46

SF Scope is a new venture by Ian Randal Strock et. al., and is a great source of information about our industry – who, what, and how much. Why is something even Ian doesn’t try to answer, because no one knows.

Just added to my blogroll. Wishing Ian best of luck with this project, and hopefully there’ll be some news about A Song In Stone on there soon.

July 6, 2007

Solar Energy?

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 17:13

This week’s issue of U.S. News & World Report includes an interview with Mike Splinter, CEO of Applied Materials. His firm describes itself as “the global leader in nanomanufacturing technology solutions . . . for the fabrication of semiconductor chips, flat panels, solar photovoltaic cells, flexible electronics and energy efficient glass.”

Splinter says, essentially, that as flat panel screens go, so should solar energy panels. Applied Materials bought a company that does the thin-film layering process, and would like to use this technology to drive the price of solar energy down to about 70¢ by 2010. Ambitious? Yes, but all good technological initiatives tend to be. This is important because it would make sunshine competitive with other energy sources.

Why does he believe they can succeed? First, he says, flat-panel displays have dropped dramatically in price, which suggests that similar savings could be found in solar panels through the use of their thin-film application process. Second, because the only cost for solar is the panel itself – there’s no maintenance, and the fuel (sunlight) is free. Third, and most important for Applied Materials, is that they see a slower future rate of growth in the semiconductor industry. They want to put their money in other areas.

Altruism is best served when there’s a good profit margin. That’s the American way, after all . . . but he’s right about solar panels: once they’re in place, they gather energy that isn’t taxed, doesn’t cost anything, and doesn’t pollute. They turn photons into electrons, they don’t have to be arranged in huge grids – every house could have a few on the roof – and if the manufacturing process made them cost efficient, there’d be no reason not to invest in them.

After reading this article, my thoughts went to the prognosticators of doom who say that our entire society will certainly collapse as soon as we run out of fossil fuels. I don’t believe it: not at this point. Our energy demands are unbelievably large; we’ll find other means for supplying them. Too many smart people; too many entrepreneurs.

July 1, 2007

Walter Hunt Author Newsletter Volume 4, Issue 3

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 22:05

July, 2007

Welcome to the third issue of my mailing list newsletter for 2007, intended to provide you with information about my work, my website www.walterhunt.com, and my activities and appearances.

Sorry for the long delay between newsletters. It has been a very busy spring and summer, with lots of interesting activities.

Books Update

The Dark Wing is now in its fourth printing in paperback.

It has also appeared in Russian language and is available at Ozon and Books.ru. Thanks to vorchun for passing this information on to me.

The Dark Wing is now out in Taschenbuch-Format (paperback) in Germany under the title “Die Dunkle Schwinge”, and can be ordered from amazon.de.

The Dark Path is now in its second printing in paperback.

The Dark Path is now out in Taschenbuch-Format (paperback) in Germany under the title “Der Dunkle Pfad”, and can be preordered from amazon.de.

The Dark Ascent is now out in mass-market paperback.

The Dark Ascent is now out in Taschenbuch-Format (paperback) in Germany under the title “Der Dunkle Stern”, and can be ordered from amazon.de.

According to amazon.de: “Walter H. Hunt zählt neben John Ringo und David Weber zu den bekanntesten Military-SF-Autoren in den USA.” (”Walter H. Hunt ranks beside John Ringo and David Weber as one of the best known military SF authors in the USA.” Well, that’s good to know!)

The Dark Crusade is now out in mass-market paperback.

Random House Germany will publish The Dark Crusade in Taschenbuch-Format (paperback) in Germany under the title “Der Dunkle Kreuzzug”. It should appear toward the end of this year.

The biggest news, however, is that my next book will be completely new. An offer is being made for a novel to be published in the Fall of 2008; see the header “New Writing Projects” below.

Stone of Remembrance

My weblog at is going strong. You don’t need to register to offer comment, but due to recent spamming I’ve enabled moderation on the blog, so all comments must be approved before they appear. I cordially invite all of you to join, comment, and participate.

I have been posting excerpts from “Sword and Sun”, the Dark Wing Universe prequel, on the blog. The first eight chapters are available. This book is not on submission for publication, though I hope to see it in print some day. This is the story of how the Solar Empire came to be. Now you can read it. For the moment, the eight chapters on the blog is all I’m going to post, though I’m looking for a way to make it available in some way to people interested in reading it on a subscription basis. Please post to the blog and let me know if you’re interested in this idea. (I’ve received a few inquiries already – thanks!) All of it is copyrighted and subject to change.

The blog has been very hit-and-miss during the last eight weeks, with some commentary on gaming (our continuing attempt to winnow the game collection and comments on and links to ‘The Spiel‘ – Stephen Conway and David Coulson’s fine gaming podcast).There’s also a report on my recent trip to Balticon and Points South.

My blog also shows the current top ten games in my Boardgamegeek collection; I’ve gone through the process of entering it into the Geek – process of entering it into the Geek – and with over 500 games entered we’re still way short.

Projects in the Dark Wing Universe

Not much to report. The RPG possibility has been set aside, but thanks to my buddy Tee Morris, I’ve begun to consider podcasting Sword & Sun.

New Writing Projects

I’m pleased to announce that my novel “A Song In Stone” will be published as a part of the Wizards of the Coast Discoveries imprint in the fall of 2008. It came about during a moment of insight while visiting Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland in 2005. It is completely unrelated to the Dark Wing Universe; while in Scotland I expected to be doing some on-site observation and research for my 18th century novel, but fate intervened.

“A Song In Stone” begins with a premise that was suggested by the guide who showed me Rosslyn Chapel. This structure, a confection of sculpture and artistry, is an unfinished part of a larger church originally built in the fifteenth century. It has fascinated historians and mystics for centuries; it is even the final location in “The DaVinci Code”. When my guide showed it to me, he pointed to a part of the interior and told me that the sculpture there was a complex, undecoded piece of music. The light went on . . . and now it’s a novel. The majority of the book is set in Middle Ages France and Spain, and (among other things) reveals the linkage between Gothic architecture and polyphonic music. The blurb hasn’t been written and the editing for publication hasn’t begun, but I believe that it is a significant piece of writing for me, worthy of my readers.

I hope you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did, and that it will find a place on your shelf with my other work.

Also . . .

I will also be writing a shared-world work for hire for WotC to be published in 2009. This book is a Gothic horror novel set in Paris in 1878, and will be lots of fun to write. More details on that as they become available.

The Colonial Project

I’ve written about 15,000 words of the 18th century novel, set in British America in 1754. I’ve done an enormous amount of research, and continue to be amazed how much there is to read. I’ve read a few chapters to book groups, and have met with excellent response. Until “A Song In Stone” is out the door, this has to be set aside, but I’ll keep you informed of its progress.

Other Creative Stuff

I was interviewed by Shaun Farrell for his podcast “Adventures In Sci-Fi Publishing“. My conversation with Shaun will be in Episode 25. Shaun has recently completed a podcast version of my buddy Paul Levinson’s SF novel ” The Silk Code“, and is an excellent interviewer.

Upcoming Appearances

I will be at Readercon 18 – check out their website, it’s undergone quite a revision!) on the weekend of July 5-8, 2007, in Burlington, Massachusetts.

My schedule:

  • Friday 9:00 PM: Kaffeeklatsch
  • Saturday 3:00 PM: Panel – The Challenge of Near-Future Political Scenarios in SF (Leader/Moderator)
  • Sunday 10:30 AM: Reading from “A Song In Stone”
  • Sunday 12 N: Autographing

As you can see, not much, but I’ll be around and we’ll be onsite at the hotel this year.

I have been invited to Libertycon in Chattanooga, Tennessee on the weekend preceding NASFiC (July 27-29, 2007). Unfortunately the schedule hasn’t been kind and I cannot attend.

I have already accepted an invitation to NASFiC in St. Louis in 2007; more details to follow as we get closer. Unless someone wishes to offer me a large bagful of money, I regret that I will not be traveling to Yokohama to attend WorldCon 2007.

I have been invited as a Special Guest at ConText in Columbus, Ohio, September 28-30, 2007. Tim Powers is the Guest of Honor – I’ll be looking forward to seeing him again; he’s one of my favorite writers.

The date for the Stamford Writer’s Fair in Stamford, Connecticut has been pushed back to some time in November. My presentation will discuss writing historical fiction.

I have not yet accepted an invitation to Philcon in Philadelphia in November; I’ve missed the last few and would like to get back there again. I have received a verbal invite to return to Capclave in Silver Spring, Maryland, but don’t know if i can make it.

Worldcon Bids

Denver has won the right to host the 2008 Worldcon. It will take place August 6-10, 2008 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver. We’ve bought our memberships already and look forward to our first visit to Colorado.

We have presupported both Montréal and Kansas City for the 2009 Worldcon. The 2009 bid will be decided at, and by mail-in votes to, Yokahama.

I need to sell a lot of books to be able to attend the proposed Australia Worldcon in 2010, but would really like to go. After the 2007 Worldcon this bid will step it up, and there’ll be some competition on planet. We’ll see.

According to Chaz Baden’s page there’s only one announced bid for 2011 – Seattle – and only one for 2012, Chicago (as I reported on my blog a couple of months ago.) At LA Con I recall seeing a table for a Worldcon in Washington, DC for 2010 or later, but can’t find any information on it.

Website Updates

We have recently given the site a facelift, including new links to our Amazon-listed books. The guestbook is back online, and there’s been some reorganization of the various departments.

Once “A Song In Stone” is under contract and a date for publication is announced (probably Fall 2008), I’ll put an excerpt up.

Yahoo Mailing List

Some local fans have set up a Yahoo mailing list for my writing. As I say at public appearances – you can ask any question you like (just be prepared for me to answer as I please.) I hope you’ll join the list and be a part of an interactive discussion.

What I’m Reading

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

I’m reading Adrian Tinniswood’s “The Verneys“, a biographical insight into an extraordinary seventeenth-century family. I read Tinniswood’s “By Permission of Heaven“, a history of London’s Great Fire of 1666, and thought it was superb.

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 © 2007, Walter H. Hunt.

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