Stone of Remembrance

July 10, 2012

July 10 Update

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 09:07

This is my as-often-as-I-can-manage-it post to bring you up to date on my world. I hope you find it interesting, informative, and/or entertaining. It’s been a busy few weeks, so I’m just getting caught up . . . something I find myself saying with alarming regularity.

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: I am working on updates and changes suggested by Eric, and will have more to say in a few weeks. The effort continues.

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. (I expect some news very shortly.)

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.

Prologue Books, my e-book imprint, has reached a deal to create an audio book of A Song In Stone, along with a number of other books in their line. I’ve signed the contract and am awaiting details, but this is very exciting – people have been asking about this for some time.

My Dark Wing series is now available in e-book form from Baen Books. Interest in these titles, in this form, will help encourage Baen to consider new material in the universe. I am extremely excited to have my first four books on my iPad and iPhone, and I hope you will consider them.

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 the ”Proceedings”. My next article in the fall will be about Grand Master John T. Heard.

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.

At Origins, I made a game design pitch which I think is going to turn into something exciting. More on this as it develops.

Current Reading

Recently read:

  • The disturbing young-adult book on the Killing Fields, Never Fall Down;
  • A somewhat disappointing biography of our 9th president, Linda Conrad’s William Henry Harrison. I expected a little more detail on his earlier exploits, but like his presidency, the book is too short.
  • Matti Friedman’s The Aleppo Codex, about a tenth-century Hebrew Old Testament – a sort of complex mystery, very detailed;
  • Richard Zacks’ Island of Vice, covering Theodore Roosevelt’s year as Police Commissioner of New York. Other reading has introduced me to many of the cast of this interesting historical account, but this book gave me a new perspective;
  • An excellent autobiography of Jim Abbott, Imperfect – for anyone who doesn’t remember him, Abbott was born without a right hand, but was a very capable major league pitcher;
  • And the current book being read, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, a book about the Taiping Rebellion.

I’m getting lots of book recommendations by listening to The John Batchelor Show, mostly as a podcast. John is conservative, but extremely literate and articulate. He’s seemingly the anti-O’Reilly: He has informed guests on his show, asks good questions, and lets them talk. He’s not Hannity or Limbaugh by a long stretch.

Facebook Updates

June 22: A disturbing movie poster.

June 23: Steampunk Me, from the Burke-Turi wedding.

June 23: Resistance is useful.

June 25: Some llamas.

June 25: 12 jobs going extinct. There was an interesting discussion on this topic, though some folks took it a little seriously.

June 26: A very cool magic lantern. I was at a lodge in Lincoln, Mass., and saw a presentation using this gadget.

June 27: Octopodiform deterrent.

June 30: My talk in Colorado. It went well, though it was during a period of wildfires, which kept some potential attendees away. I posted several pictures of things I saw – and even changed my profile picture. Take a look at the album from the Frontier Historical Museum.

July 3: “You’ve been doing thought experiments, haven’t you?”.

July 5: My argument is apparently invalid.

July 8: I agree about the need to avoid hyperbole, and am introduced to Godwin’s Law.

July 10: Relativistic baseball.

July 10: Abstruse Goose’s take on Walt Whitman.

Upcoming Conventions and Appearances

July 13-15, 2012: I will be an attending author at Readercon in Burlington, Massachusetts.

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

October 12-14, 2012: I am likely to attend Capclave in Rockville, Maryland.

We are already signed up to attend San Antonio Worldcon on Labor Day Weekend 2013, and have presupported London in 2014. We are watching bids for the 2015 Worldcon but have not supported any bid yet.

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.

June 21, 2012

June 21 Update

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 12:30

This is my as-often-as-I-can-manage-it post to bring you up to date on my world. I hope you find it interesting, informative, and/or entertaining. With a wedding to attend this weekend and the trip to Colorado next week (see below), I’m trying to shoehorn everything else in.

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: I am working on updates and changes suggested by Eric, and will have more to say in a few weeks. The effort continues.

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. (I expect some news very shortly.)

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.

Update: I have another news item that I will be able to bring to you all soon – there’s something exciting on the way. More on this as it develops.

My Dark Wing series is now available in e-book form from Baen Books. Interest in these titles, in this form, will help encourage Baen to consider new material in the universe. I am extremely excited to have my first four books on my iPad and iPhone, and I hope you will consider them.

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 the ”Proceedings”. My next article in the fall will be about Grand Master John T. Heard.

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.

At Origins, I made a game design pitch which I think is going to turn into something exciting. More on this as it develops.

Current Reading

This week’s reading material is Gregory Dyson’s Turing’s Cathedral, about the building of the first computers. I have a stack of books to look at, including (believe it or not) a biography of William Henry Harrison.

I’m getting lots of book recommendations by listening to The John Batchelor Show, mostly as a podcast. John is conservative, but extremely literate and articulate. He’s seemingly the anti-O’Reilly: He has informed guests on his show, asks good questions, and lets them talk. He’s not Hannity or Limbaugh by a long stretch.

Facebook Updates

June 7: Here I am, playing a game by Chris Kirkman, who’s publishing a game I backed on Kickstarter: VivaJava.

June 9: The Canadian Borg. Prepare to be assimilated. Courteously.

June 9: Some cool roadside sculptures.

June 11: It’s the Sesame Lodge. Freemasonry, notwithstanding, still survives.

June 11: Some pictures from Norumbega Fraternity’s June meeting:

June 11: Some copy-editing symbols you might not have seen.

June 12: Parodying the anti-science evangelicals, as if that’s even necessary.

June 12: An interesting discussion on American Exceptionalism, based on this Neil Cavuto op-ed.

June 14: Chorizo brains. ‘Nuff said. I love my iPhone.

June 16: Another TV series that looks interesting: Copper, set in 1860s New York.

June 18: It’s Popeye the Sailor Moon. You may not want to click on this link.

June 20: Randall Munroe’s diagram of the Exoplanets. Cool.

June 21: Some familiar faces in some cool uniforms.

Upcoming Conventions and Appearances

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.

October 12-14, 2012: I am likely to attend Capclave in Rockville, Maryland.

We are already signed up to attend San Antonio Worldcon on Labor Day Weekend 2013, and have presupported London in 2014. We are watching bids for the 2015 Worldcon but have not supported any bid yet.

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.

June 7, 2012

June 7 Update

Filed under: Commentary, Newsletter — admin @ 12:40

This is my weekly (insert highly amused snort here!) post to bring you up to date on my world. I hope you find it interesting, informative, and/or entertaining. It’s been an insane four weeks, but they’ve been very productive. I traveled to Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and am back home with lots of catching up to do.

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: I am working on updates and changes suggested by Eric, and will have more to say in a few weeks.

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. (I expect some news very shortly.)

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. No new news this week.

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 the ”Proceedings”. My next article in the fall will be about Grand Master John T. Heard.

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 was at Origins at the end of May, working for Rio Grande. I believe we made a few converts. There are revised rules available on Boardgamegeek.

Current Reading

This week’s reading material is Robert Wuthnow’s Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America’s Heartland, an account of political movements in Kansas. I’ve also recently read Edmund Stump’s book on the mountains of Antarctica (yes, you Lovecraft fans, they actually exist!), The Roof at the Bottom of the World, which has some terrific photographs.

I’m getting lots of book recommendations by listening to The John Batchelor Show, mostly as a podcast. John is conservative, but extremely literate and articulate. He’s seemingly the anti-O’Reilly: He has informed guests on his show, asks good questions, and lets them talk. He’s not Hannity or Limbaugh by a long stretch.

Facebook Updates

May 9: Here’s a bit of astronomical perspective.

May 9: My Uncle Albert Bell passed away and was laid to rest on the following Saturday. I joined cousins and friends in spreading his ashes at the longitude and latitude where we spread his wife’s ashes fifteen years earlier.

May 9: An interesting article on handedness, and the biology that brings it about.

May 9: A picture of a previous amendment to the North Carolina constitution. Oops.

May 9: An infuriating article on veteran charities.

May 10: A quote from Archbishop Tutu. Some interesting commentary on my wall about his possibly anti-Semitic attitudes; I’m not completely convinced.

May 11: An article about a sports team that won its championship because its opponent had a girl on its team. Absurd. Also linked to this article on May 23.

May 11: An interesting article on U.S. states that never were.

May 12: Thebacon. Bacon, The.

May 13: Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Still miss you.

May 13: The Nine Circles of Hell, done in Legos. Too much free time.

May 19: Spooky Van Gogh retouch. Also this one.

May 19: Masonic Heritage Family Day at Sturbridge. An excellent event I was glad to be a part of.

May 22: The SpaceX launch. Big thumbs up for commercial space exploration. It was a stunning success. Also, goodbye to James Doohan, who has returned to star-stuff.

May 24: Are the 2012 Yankees the 1965 Yankees redux?. Could be.

May 24: Googly balls. Kids love ‘em.

May 28: My kind of superhero.

May 28: Geek horoscope. Beats the Chinese placemat.

May 29: Wise words from Darths and Droids: ‎”I could just choke *all* the incompetents *half* to death.” If you’re not already doing so, read this site. It’s hilarious.

May 29: Photo album from Natick #28 IORG Installation, with my daughter as Worthy Advisor.

May 29: Photo album from Gettysburg Tour. Here’s another gallery.

May 29: Kohl’s does what?

May 31: Richard Borg’s new Samurai Battles, which I bought because I like Commands and Colors. But the figures had teeny tiny bits that broke easily. But we finished putting them together – glad I have a clever daughter to help.

May 31: Michael Ventrella’s Balticon Album, which has some pictures of me at Eye of Argon.

June 2: An appalling story about a teacher who was suspended for insisting on standards.

June 3: Various pictures, including some from Origins.

June 5: Steampunk Trek. Great stuff.

June 6: The death of the great Ray Bradbury, at age 91. I cannot express my sadness sufficiently. But read this, which must be close to his very last work.

June 6: Why yes, it’s the Transit of Venus. Ho ho.

Upcoming Conventions and Appearances

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.

October 12-14, 2012: I am likely to attend Capclave in Rockville, Maryland.

We are already signed up to attend San Antonio Worldcon on Labor Day Weekend 2013, and have presupported London in 2014. We are watching bids for the 2015 Worldcon but have not supported any bid yet.

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.

May 8, 2012

May 8 Update

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 08:12

This is my weekly post to bring you up to date on my world. I hope you find it interesting, informative, and/or entertaining. One day late this week, but that’s an improvement on the last update.

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. (No new news this week.)

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. (No new news this week.)

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. (No new news this week.)

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

This week’s reading material is Craig Shirley’s superb December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World, a day-by-day account of that month, drawn from official and unofficial accounts from America and elsewhere. It’s amazingly compelling – particularly the few days before the Pearl Harbor attack. Knowing what’s going to happen (and knowing that the people in the story have absolutely no idea) only enhances the narrative.

Facebook Updates

April 30: A modern take on the Bayeux Tapestry. Make sure to take a look at the animated tapestry link – thanks to Kristen Page!

May 1: Literary devices are explained.

May 2: A flowchart indicating what our early exposure to D&D did for and to us.

May 2: A humorous memento mori.

May 2: Death By Puppets brings us this short video. By the way, the web comic Tree Lobsters is one of my favorites – it’s the best arboreal seafood comic on the web. You can’t prove they don’t exist.

May 2: A collection of cards showing a weird Mardi Gras parade from the 1870s.

May 3: An article on the 1859 auroral storm. What effect might this sort of event have today?

My wall was pleasantly interrupted with almost 300 posts wishing me a happy birthday on May 4. I am now 53, thank you very much: my last prime number for several years. I am duly appreciative of everyone’s well wishes. This apparently lines up with “Star Wars Day”, which I did not know.

May 4: A Magic card I wish I had.

May 4: A leftover bit of info from last week – a link to Frankie’s Donuts in Niagara Falls. We stopped there just before leaving town.

May 5: A darkly humorous inquiry to Dr. Laura regarding other Biblical injunctions we might need to check on.

May 5: An expose of a disturbingly corrupt “prosperity gospel” ministry. For a capper, take a look at the theme park these wingnuts have built. But for God’s sake, turn your computer sound off before you do.

May 6: My daughter’s installation as Worthy Advisor of Natick Assembly #28, IORG. So proud of her.

May 7: A description of a hardware keylogger, which could compromise users of public computers. As is pointed out in the comments, however, there are more insidious methods in software that make them even more easily compromised.

May 8: RIP, Maurice Sendak.

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.

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.

April 16, 2012

April 16 Update

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 22:46

This is my weekly post to bring you up to date on my world. I hope you find it interesting, informative, and/or entertaining.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Gathering of Friends

I’m posting from the Gathering, where I’ve been playing games and relaxing after a rather stressful month. Already made a facebook appearance on Debbie Ohi’s wall, who bought a copy of my book.

I’ll be reporting on the games that hit – and missed – later in the week, or next Monday at the latest.

Facebook Updates

April 9: The flamingos put up a good fight.

April 10: 10 Guides for Freemasons. A very worthwhile summary of what we believe and try to hold.

April 10: A little web comic humor about all-nighters.

April 12: North Korea’s failed missile launch makes news. I don’t know if our government will hold them to account for this act of absurd defiance. On the following day, Borowitz reports that they’ve been ejected from the Axis of Evil.

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.

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.

April 9, 2012

April 9 Update

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 12:54

This is my weekly post to bring you up to date on my world. I hope you find it interesting, informative, and/or entertaining.

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.

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

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.

A Song In Stone will be available in e-book form in late April from Adams Media. I will provide a link when the e-book is available. It’ll be available for Kindle first, probably later this month. No other news on this front.

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. This week’s update: 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 have received a copy of Rolling Freight by Kevin Nunn, which is another take on the rail-and-business milieu and is pretty good. A long time to wait for this one, and it’s good to finally have a copy.

Current Reading

I am reading Gordon Wood’s history of the Early Republic, Empire of Liberty. The period 1789-1815 is even more poorly understood than the Revolution, the history (and legacy) of which was already in the process of being rewritten during the first quarter-century of the United States. Wood is a superb historian and a very good writer.

Facebook Updates

April 2: A fine sentiment, quite harmonious with my Masonic tenets:

April 3: A series of photographs showing Martian sunrises. Not artists’ renderings but actual photos. Glorious.

April 4: A link to a 1974 video in which Arthur C. Clarke predicts the future. Computers in the home; mobile devices; information ubiquity.

April 4: A new iOS app showing exoplanets. Regularly updated.

April 5: My town becomes the center of a furor regarding the preemptive changing of the lyrics of a song which included the word ‘God’, so as not to offend anyone. Needless to say, it offended everyone.

April 6:


Yep: A Seuss Army Knife.

April 8: The death of Mike Wallace, a journalist of the old school.

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.

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.

April 2, 2012

April 2 Weekly Update

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 11:55

This is my weekly post to bring you up to date on my world. I hope you find it interesting, informative, and/or entertaining.

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.

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

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.

A Song In Stone will be available in e-book form in late April from Adams Media. I will provide a link when the e-book is available. This week’s update: It’ll be available for Kindle first, probably later this month.

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. This week’s update: 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.

Current Reading

I am reading an excellent book by Jack Beatty entitled The Lost History of 1914, which contains both historical and “counterfactual” essays on the various participants. Beatty’s basic thesis is that the Great War was by no means inevitable. Some of the arguments are thin reeds, but others I find quite interesting.

Facebook Updates

March 27: A link to the troubling Creation Wiki. It’s really amazing what people believe – for example, that Einstein’s relativity theory is “liberal claptrap” . . .

March 27: Stupid questions that people ask of booksellers. Laugh out loud funny.

March 29: Sunrise City, a new board game that I backed on Kickstarter. Played it once so far: it’s a nice, beautifully-produced, one-hour board game.

March 31: Just plain funny.

April 2: The release of the 1940 Census. The 72-year confidentiality period has elapsed on this census, the first one to be released to the net (instead of microfilm). The 3.9 million records are organized by Enumeration District, but the Census will have a name-based index in a few months; a crowd sourcing project is underway to create it. The effort to make the data available is very cool; the public approach to creating a more useful index is almost as cool.

Upcoming Conventions and Appearances

May 25-28, 2012: I will be an attending author at Balticon 2012 in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

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.

March 26, 2012

March 26 Weekly Update

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 09:03

This is my weekly post to bring you up to date on my world. I hope you find it interesting, informative, and/or entertaining.

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.

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

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.

A Song In Stone will be available in e-book form next month from Adams Media. I will provide a link when the e-book is available.

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.

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.

Current Reading

I have just finished reading the third volume of Edmund Morris’ magnificent biography of Theodore Roosevelt, Colonel Roosevelt. TR, with all his flaws, is still one of my favorite Presidents of all time. Morris is a wonderful writer; he is clearly sympathetic to his subject, but as he points out, he is neither a hero-worshipper nor a “revisionist” repelled by Roosevelt’s attitudes, which are a century out of date but were extremely forward-looking for his time.

Facebook Updates

March 17: An article about home schooling by a particularly insidious sect of Christian Fundamentalists, the so-called Quiverfull movement. This is not, as I pointed out, me being critical of homeschooling as such, but this particular approach bothers the crap out of me.

March 20: A must-read guest post on Scalzi’s blog. No, really. Read it. This transvaginal ultrasound crap has got to be stopped.

March 20: Man bored of leading thing that doesn’t matter. A humorous bit about the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is stepping down. Make sure to look at this post in the replies, which is a hilarious Canterbury Tales parody from Iowahawk, a conservative blog.

March 21: 106 Excuses That Prevent You From Ever Becoming Great. A fine article that goes beyond the usual cheerleading platitudes about motivation and success.

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.

Xenophon visits Nineveh, and is surprised

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 07:58

Blogs, like any creative enterprise, have a certain inertia associated with them. Inertia tends to cause objects in motion to stay in motion, and objects at rest to remain at rest; I’m sure there is a more scientific definition, but this is from a strictly literary source, so it’s my metaphor and I’m sticking to it.

What I’ve not stuck to – particularly over the last year or so – is posting to this forum. I should like to think that this is due merely to the lack of time to devote to so worthy an enterprise as keeping posted the seven or so of you who might be inclined to read what I write here; alas, that is not the only reason. Inertia has played a significant role. As with anything else that, if not maintained, falls into disrepair, Stone of Remembrance has suffered from neglect. (I also think it may have been invaded by spammers, but I’ll be attending to that, hopefully, this week. It does mean that I’m probably going to shut off the ability to register for a user name.) It has also suffered from the advent of Facebook, where I post regularly; this medium requires far less of the user than to compose blog entries. It is ephemeral, and redundant, and as much (if not more) a real-life, real time demonstration of Sturgeon’s Law as anything else you might encounter on the web. Sometimes I encounter something interesting, or funny, and post a link to it; more often I add my own largely irrelevant comment to the other irrelevant comments on something from Taste of Awesome, or someone’s cat picture, or some other damn thing that it takes me five seconds to be faux witty about.

Meanwhile the blog remains neglected as other matters press for my attention. I only have three hands, as my mother was fond of saying.

When something gets neglected in this way, and to this extent, there are only two real choices. One is to abandon it entirely. Blogs often suffer this sort of mid-life crisis; they’re not updated for a period of time and then they become no longer current. They become relics, like Assyria, when Xenophon passed through two hundred years after its fall. Don’t worry, though: storage is cheap, so these things will be around forever – or at least until people stop paying their ISP.

The other is to return to the stage with determination, and with a plan.

I’ve decided on choice 2. Starting this week, I will be posting something here every week. I’ll bring you up to date on my writing projects; on what I’ve just read (or am reading now); on my most recent contributions/links on Facebook; and my upcoming conventions. It’s not going to be Boing Boing, or Scalzi; but it will hopefully be something worth reading.

And thus will civilization be maintained. Xenophon will reach Nineveh, six months after the last post, and discover that the blog is still active.

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