Saturday, April 14, 2018

Banned from Facebook!

On Monday it turned out I couldn't log in to my Facebook account anymore. I tried resetting the password, but to confirm my identity it said it would send a code to my phone, and it never did. I tried a few times with no success. Since a lot of people are being banned nowadays, I wonder if my account might have suffered the same fate? It gives me a warm, proud feeling to imagine that I was banned for trespassing against FB content-based censorship, so I'm going to go with that assumption.

That leaves the question of why I'd get banned, especially now. About the last thing I posted on FB was a link to this story, "The Thirtieth Amendment", a bit of science fiction flash fiction I dashed off lately. It's topical in that I make the gun-control proponent a young numbskull, though the real concept of the story isn't tied to the gun issue in particular. As I see it, it's more about the way strident politics is splitting our society into partisan factions that would rather separate than come to a compromise, and the likely result of allowing the most intolerant elements to leave and set up their own separate "safe space". 

It ain't Shakespeare, but would such a story get me banned? Maybe. One thing that makes the Left so prickly, I believe, is their belief that they are "on the side of History": in other words, they take it for granted that the future belongs to them by rights. This is why so many on the Left have descended into gibbering madness at the election of Donald Trump, as so many did also at the election of George W. Bush. They can't stand the thought that their way of looking at things might lose.

And this in turn is why writing and reading science fiction that presents our vision of the future is so key: because the Left has been cranking out theirs for decades, and has taken enough control of publishers and networks and studios that the future where the Left has already won, where there are no more conservatives, no more libertarians, no more religious believers of any sort, but especially no Christians or Jews, or at least none whose religion is the most important part of their life: this becomes the standard way for many people to think about the future.

I don't mean that we should be writing "our own propaganda", that actively argues for our beliefs. I mean, unless we feel like doing that. But mainly, I mean that we should write stories where the future contains people who believe as we do, where religion is not presented as a ridiculous or despicable thing. As a dry little joke I once tweeted, "Oh, I remember this episode of Law and Order: it's the one where the fundamentalist Christians turn out to be the bad guys." I could multiply examples of the Leftward bias in SFF, but it hardly seems necessary... I remember, for instance, reading a story in one of the science fiction magazines set in a dystopian future where enemies of the state were taken off in police vans that the author called "ashcrofts", after a Republican then serving as attorney general. It was a completely gratuitous, unfair and unnecessary slam. Similar zingers, always aimed rightward, are what turned me off mainstream SFF for twenty years.

Simply writing stories that give religion, or businessmen, or patriots, or veterans, or conservatives, or Republicans a fair shake is mischievous enough to shake up the Left's monopoly. 

And if they're set in the future--and if it turns out that conservative ideas have become the norm in the future--that's icing on the cake. Good stories with such backdrops are what I want to do as a writer.

I haven't tried getting back into Facebook. But it has given me an idea for a cartoon that I don't have the talent to draw. Perhaps someone else would care to. It goes like this:

First panel: Two guards in uniforms with the Facebook "f" on them are hustling a frightened-looking fellow forward, roughly holding an arm each, coming through an institutional corridor. There is a poster on the wall captioned "BIG ZUCKER IS WATCHING YOU", with Zuckerberg's face staring out. Word balloons: "That's enough out of you!" "It's off to Facebook Jail with you!" "B-but, guys, can't we talk about this?"

Second panel: They throw him through a barred door. "We don't have to explain anything to the likes of you!"

Third panel: They walk off laughing, the prisoner holding the bars, looking after them. Main word balloon: "W-wait! Wait! At least tell me--" Very small word balloon, from off to the right behind the bars, a musical note. A thought balloon with a question mark to the prisoner.

Fourth panel: The viewpoint pans far back to the right inside the "cell", and we see that it is not a cell at all: the "prisoner" is standing in an outside courtyard, open to the sidewalk and the street, where people are walking dogs, children are playing, etc. The prisoner is dumbfounded, his hands still on the bars of the door locked before him, which we now see leads to the inside of a prison.

Fifth panel: the viewpoint pans still further back and upward, and we see that the prison is a building shaped like a Facebook "f", and the "prisoner" is now running toward the street along the right crossbar.

Sixth panel: Back inside the jail, the two guards are intimidating another frightened person, who was just putting something up on a bulletin board, maybe with a heading like "New Facts About Benghazi!" Word balloons: "Hey, you! Yes, you! You better take that down if you know what's good for you!" "Yeah! You don't want to wind up in Facebook Jail like that other guy!" 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Nine Books

Minutes ago, Cedar Sanderson posted an interesting challenge on MeWe. (What, aren’t you on MeWe yet? Has the steady drip of revelations of malfeasance by the Twitter and Facebook people still not gotten to you? Well, please add me as a contact when you get around to joining.)

The challenge is simply: list the classic books you think people should read, and its occasion was a list at which a commenter pointed out was “mostly crap”. I checked it out anyway, and found some of the proposals pretty odd. The listmaker was wise to save his suggestion of Joyce’s Ulysses till last, because I probably would have given up on him as soon as I saw it.

It so happens that I’ve finally begun the huge task of unpacking and organizing my books this past week, so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about literature lately. So here is a quickie list of seven books I think people who like reading fantasy and science fiction should read. Perhaps I’ll try to reread them all in the coming year: I haven’t been doing nearly enough rereading lately, and these are all old friends.

The Charwoman’s Shadow, by Lord Dunsany.
Winter’s Tales, by Isak Dinesen.
That Hideous Strength, by C. S. Lewis.
Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad.
A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller Jr.
The Worm Ouroboros, by E. R. Eddison.
The Odyssey, Homer.
The Man Who Was Thursday, by G. K. Chesterton.
The Castle, by Franz Kafka.

If you have suggestions of your own, please chime in. I always like to get comments.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Thirtieth Amendment

Someone (was it on one of the Superversive Press roundtables?) suggested that they do an anthology someday named MISTAKES WERE MADE. Even though as far as I know no one has definitely started work on it, this story I just wrote might fit in it.

I actually wrote it after a Tweet I put out last week sometime, describing the general idea at a high level. Jonathan Swift said of GULLIVER'S TRAVELS that once you think of the idea of big men and little men, the story practically wrote itself; this one has the same quality of following rather immediately from the basic concept.


"The Thirtieth Amendment"

Larry Kellerman gritted his teeth as he listened to the youth sitting in his office. “I just feel like, if there were no guns, like, then everyone would be safe and stuff, you know?” the kid—his name was Nevish, Liam Nevish—said.

“I understand the idea,” the official said patiently. It was a pleasant office, decorated with dark-finished wood furnishings, and a lovely picture window looking over the park. The oil paintings were attractive portraits of famous people, representational art having come back into vogue even in government buildings in the last couple decades. Over his desk, he knew, was a motto of the Thirtieth Amendment in gold letters. Everything was designed to relax, but Kellerman always felt on edge with a client: largely, he thought, because the clients themselves seemed too calm about their purpose in coming for transference.

He drew in breath. “Well then, Mr. Nevish, you can certainly choose any alternity you prefer, and there are many that were founded with the intention of eliminating guns, some where that was the chief motivating principle, others where it was included in a menu of other policy choices. Actually, before we waste any time, let’s make sure of one thing: you are twenty-one, correct?”

“Yeah, I’m 21. Last fall.”

Damn, thought Kellerman. “Very good,” he said aloud. “And you wish to leave our time line, Alternity Zero, for another that was colonized by persons intending to eliminate guns, either entirely or from the citizenry, is that your idea?”

“Umm. Wait a minute, when you say ‘colonized’, does that mean the people already in the other worldline might have guns? How does that work?”

Great heavenly days. “No. There are no people native to any of the worldlines that we have designated for utopian alternity experiments, Mr. Nevish. The parameters our team sets up when we initialize a portal define a worldline that branched from Alternity Zero at a point twenty to thirty million years in the past, and in which human life never evolved. Nor any other intelligent life, nor any life elsewhere in the Solar System…we’ve taken care to avoid any complications, aside from those the colonists take with them. The founders of each alternity are literally colonizing a world of their own, presumably according to the principles they spell out in their charter.”

“Okay, but the way you keep using words like ‘presumably’ and ‘intended’, it sounds like you’re hedging. There’s no catch to this, right? I mean, you guarantee that there won’t be any guns in the alternity I choose?”

“No, Mr. Nevish,” Kellerman said firmly. “There can be no guarantee of what you will find on the other side of the portal. We have no information about the utopian alternities, other than what we knew of the original worldline query that designated it, and the stated intentions of the colonists who have gone there already. The transference is strictly one-way, sir: this is why we keep emphasizing that you should think carefully about your decision before you step through.”

“Oh, I’ve thought carefully, and all that. I mean, a world just like this one, but with no guns, has to be better, right? I mean, that guy in Missouri who shot those three people last week, I just couldn’t believe the vids. I kept thinking, if only he didn’t have a gun!”

Kellerman nodded sympathetically. “Yes, that was certainly horrific. Of course, statistically, the trend in gun violence has been downward—“

“But what if you’re one of those three people?” the young one shot back, with an air of making a conclusive point.

“Yes, then the statistics would hardly be comforting for you,” agreed the official. “However, you might still wish to take some time to study the alternatives available to you. As I say, there are a number of utopian experiments putting various levels of restrictions on guns, so you can also make a selection of other social parameters you prefer. The degree and kind of social safety net provided, versus the level and distribution of taxation required to pay for it, for example; or the toleration or lack of it for various recreational substances, forms of energy, religious practices, et cetera. I could give you some literature for you to study for a few days before you make your final selection.”

But Nevish was shaking his head. “No, I want to get this done today. I just want a place as much like Alternity Zero as possible, but without guns. Isn’t there one like that somewhere? I mean, they’ve founded hundreds and hundreds of these by now, right?”

Kellerman’s heart sank. “Yes, there are over a thousand alternities registered to various groups of utopian founders, to which more than one hundred fifty million people have emigrated. But surely, even on gun policy, you’ll want to give some thought to the exact plan that you prefer? Do you want a place where even the police have no guns? What would you want the government response to be if someone mischievously builds a gun of his own in a metal shop in his basement, or 3D prints a hundred of them and tries to take over the whole place? What if—“

“Okay, the police can have guns, no one else is allowed to. What have you got like that?”

Kellerman turned reluctantly to his keyboard and tapped keys for a few moments. Damn that lunatic in Missouri, anyway. “Well, Alternity 784 would seem to fill the requirements. Would you like specifications?”

“It’s just like here, but there aren’t any guns, right?”

Kellerman made one last try to get through to the boy. “Mr. Nevish. The people who founded Alternity 784 said that they wanted to set up a utopian community in which only the government would have guns. Their project was officially granted a worldline when one hundred thousand individuals agreed to this charter and presented themselves for transference. Robots and provisions were sent through adequate to create the physical infrastructure of the proposed society. Since that time, everyone who has transferred to Alternity 784 has stated the intention to live in such a world and signed an agreement to abide by this charter. Note, however, that their signature is purely a pro forma agreement, carrying no penalty of perjury nor possibility of the slightest repercussions: either for changing their mind later, or for straight-out dishonesty up front, because we will have no way of knowing what they do after their transference.” He put his hands on his desk and leaned forward for emphasis. “That’s all we know, Mr. Nevish.”

Nevish frowned, as if trying to look like he was thinking hard. Perhaps he believed he was thinking hard. At last he said, “Look, Mr. Kellerman, you’ve been doing this a long time, right?”

“Yes,” said Kellerman. “Ever since the program began, right after the Thirtieth Amendment was passed. Nearly forty years, now.”

“Well, the people you’ve sent through—aren’t they mostly just people like me?”

Kellerman looked sadly into the young man’s eyes, and said, “Yes, that would be a fair statement. I think nearly all of them, perhaps every last one, was someone very much like you.”

The boy sat back and nodded his head. “Then print out the forms. I’m ready to sign.”

After the paperwork was completed and young Nevish had gone on to the transference portal for Alternity 784, Kellerman stopped by the office of his supervisor, Jeffrey Waters. “Got a minute?” he asked, with a long face.

“Sure, Larry.” Waters sat back. “You look like you just served another client.”

His office was shaped much like Kellerman’s. The decorations were different, but there was the same gold motto of the Thirtieth Amendment on the wall behind his head. Kellerman sat down and looked bleakly up at it.

Congress shall make no law impeding any person from living under the government of his preference.

“Serving another client,” said Kellerman. “I just can’t think of it that way.”

“Larry, you know we have to do this. Not just by law, but by necessity.”

“Sure, once the alternity portals were invented, it’s inevitable that people would group into like-minded enclaves—“

“Not just the alternity portals, Larry. Even before then, as soon as it became possible to associate electronically with people who thought the same as you, and disassociate from people who thought differently, the centrifugal tendencies of the new age were set up. Think of the chaos before the Second Constitutional Convention, and then the even worse chaos in the fifteen years before the Third. The alternity portal system is the only thing that has finally saved us, and it’s really not so bad, is it?”

“But Jeff, this kid—and there have been others, all over the country, just this week, since that nutcase in Missouri. He has no clue what he’s getting into, just randomly reacting.”

“Well, Larry, that’s his right, isn’t it? Who knows, maybe his alternity will turn out great for him. And meanwhile, as the utopia-seeking tendency boils out of our own worldline, things here where the bulk of humanity lives get pretty good indeed, and each year we have fewer clients requesting transference.”

“True, true,” sighed Kellerman. “And after all, as I tried to point out to him, three homicides, in the entire nation, over the past two years, is really not that bad.”

“Not bad at all. And the figure I’m even happier about: no new alternities set up for four years straight now.” He stretched. “Why don’t you knock off early today, Larry? Beautiful afternoon.”

“Thanks, Jeff, think I will.”

Liam Nevish looked down the portal to Alternity 784. It was a corridor that receded from a large, high-ceilinged area, one of several dozen in this lobby. He found it hard to rest eyes upon, as it flickered and flashed in an irritating way. His escort, having accompanied him to the very foot of the portal, seemed to have no such problem gazing in. Probably long custom had desensitized him to it.

“Last chance to change your mind,” he said with a grin.

“No, thanks,” said Nevish. “So I just walk in?”

“Yep. Good luck.”

“Okay,” he said, feeling a bit nervous. “Here I go.” The escort nodded and turned to go back.

Nevish started into the flickering haze. As he walked, the part close to him stayed normal, and the zone of turbulence always seemed about five feet ahead of him. He looked back and saw that the same was true behind him. Swallowing, he continued into the portal. After a few more steps, he found it seemed to be pulling him forward, as if he were walking down an increasingly sloped hill.

At last he felt a rushing suction and almost lost his balance, then at once found himself standing on perfectly firm ground. He looked around at his new worldline, and his jaw slowly dropped open.

“Oh, no,” he whispered. “Oh, nooooooo!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Writing progress

I’ve written another story and submitted it for one of the Superversive Press Planetary anthologies: so I have my fingers crossed. It may need some more work including a title change but I think the basic story is pretty good. I’ll post an update when I know more.

Meanwhile I’m picking a next project from my notebooks: there are several I’d like to work on. One is a superhero/supervillain tale set in a major city that hasn’t been built yet, on the Gulf coast in Texas, with a futuristic dome over the city-center and the tallest building in the world (4000 feet) rising up at its center. It might grow into a short novel.

I also have a couple ideas for some other tales of Sir Sagredur, the Knight of the Round Table introduced in my first story. If I write a half dozen more of them perhaps I could do a collection one day.

Then I have an idea still at a very early stage of an old-style pulpy SF tale where a small team of adventurers in the near future set off for a planet orbiting a dwarf star that orbits Sol at about 40,000 AU, discovered by themselves and not yet revealed to the public.

Decisions, decisions...

Friday, January 19, 2018

Jordan Peterson interview: Chess vs Kriegspiel

If you’re interested in seeing how a mature, intelligent, professional scholar deals with a jingoistic liberal who thinks in platitudes, and you haven’t seen this yet, you’re in for a treat. It’s half an hour long and Peterson shows great aplomb and grace under fire. The most delicious part is after he’s endured about 20 minutes of the “interviewer’s” hostility, when he flummoxes her by referencing her own supposed principles ... you can see her sluggish mind creaking around to the idea she had never considered before: Oh! He means that if I apply this standard to him, then I should also apply it to myself! Huh! 

There is a delightful chess variant called Kriegspiel , where each player plays without being able to see the other player’s moves. Usually they sit at separate boards, back to back or with a barrier, while a third person referees by rejecting moves that are illegal. It’s actually a fun game even for spectators to watch, which is a rarity for chess variants.

Anyway, what struck me watching that interview/debate was that while he was playing chess, she was playing Kriegspiel: flailing about making moves that had nothing to do with what was actually going on in the discussion. Such a handicap naturally turned out to be insurmountable.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday, Fun Day (#2)

Sundays I like to post something fun in a puzzle or recreational math line. This starts a little slowly but I do get to some numerological relevance after a build-up, so bear with me if you like that sort of thing ...

The past week saw the United States finally and belatedly coming into compliance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, with President Trump’s order to move the American Embassy in Israel to that country’s capital in Jerusalem. 

The aforementioned law, which stipulated that half the State Department’s funding should be forfeited starting in 1999 until they moved our embassy to Israel’s capital, in accordance with usual custom and common sense. In spite of the Act’s passage by wide margins (374-37 in the House, 93-5 in the Senate), the embassy remained unmoved and the State Department saw no inconvenience as a result.

The last of the five Senators who had voted Nay departed the Senate in 2010. That was Robert Byrd, the notorious former Klansman Democrat from West Virginia, who left the Senate upon his death that year, R.I.P.

The date of the Trump announcement is foretold numerologically in the cube root of the year, 2010, when the last Senate opponent to the 1995 bill left office. That cube root is 12.6 2017.

Soon it will be 2018 A.D., but the Hebrew calendar has a different numbering system for the year that started in September. To find it, write 2018. On the next line, copy the 8 below:

2  0  1  8
__ __ __ 8

Then take the digit you just wrote (8) subtract the digit above and to the left, and write that in the next spot. Eight minus one is seven:

2  0  1  8
__ __ 7  8

Continue. Seven minus zero is seven. Seven minus two is five.

2  0  1  8
5  7  7  8

And the Hebrew calendar year is 5778.

This is a triangular number, by the way. (The spirit of Dr. Matrix explained those in this post.) Perhaps President Trump is moved to support Israel’s capital this way because of an affinity with the current Jewish calendar year, since Trump is the 45th President, elected in 2016, and 45 and 2016 are also triangular numbers.

There is a simple test for whether a given number is triangular, which I “discovered”. (It’s not deep mathematics or anything, but I’ve never seen it published.) Take the number, double it, add 0.25, take the square root, and subtract 0.5. If the result is a whole number, the original number was triangular. Applying this to 5778 gives 107, so 5778 is the 107th triangular number: it is 1+2+3+...+105+106+107.

I’ll close with an original seasonal puzzle for the stout-hearted: if you’ve read this far you’re probably a mathie like me. The letters in MERRY CHRISTMAS each stand for a digit, the same letter for the same digit throughout. So MERRY is a five-digit number and CHRISTMAS is a nine-digit number, and the R’s stand for the same digit wherever they appear, as do the S’s and so on. (The word for this kind of puzzle is "cryptarithm".) So here is the puzzle, and it's a tough one: If MERRY is a perfect square and CHRISTMAS is a triangular number, what are the numbers?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

“The Kings of the Corona”

My first story, or anyway my first “real” story (with, you know, plot and characters with motivations and all), is “The Kings of the Corona”, and appears in the anthology TALES OF THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING, along with about 20 other stories by other authors. I’ve read the collection with pleasure.

But for me, the experience of doing something I'd always wanted but never managed was thrilling. I’d wanted to write fiction, either science fiction or fantasy, for a long time, and in the past four or five years I've begun thinking more seriously about it. I had started reading John C. Wright's blog about how the culture wars are playing out in SF/F circles and the idea of contributing something to "building our own culture" attracted me. It was the fracas over the 2015 Hugos that stirred me into making preparations—like Mauregal, the hero of my story, I’m very big on methodical preparations—jotting down story notions that randomly occurred to me, and in a few months I had a list of ideas that could form the bases of many stories—but still no actual story begun. 

About this time I read Anthony Marchetta's anthology, GOD, ROBOT. The theme of this anthology—a line of sentient robots that muse on matters of faith and take up religion, and the interactions they have with humanity over the centuries—intrigued me as much as the stories themselves (which are delightful and thought-provoking—if you haven’t read it yet, go get it), and got me thinking more seriously than ever about buckling down and writing.

Then, spring 2016, Declan Finn had Anthony Marchetta and several of the GOD, ROBOT authors on his Catholic Geek podcast, and I made sure to listen. The whole podcast had me enthralled: these were the writers of the stories I’d just read, some of them experienced authors, some (unless my memory is tricking me) only a little further along than I was—except that they’d actually done it while I was still only thinking about it! 

But I was most excited when Anthony remarked that his next project would be an "Arthurian juvenile" anthology: tales of King Arthur and the knights of Camelot, but in any settings the author might like: they could be pirates, cavemen, as wild as you please: or even in the traditional Old England. He planned to invite submissions and make his selections that summer.

As soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to be in that anthology. I turned to my "story notions" notebook and looked at all the ideas I’d jotted down. Most of them I couldn’t imagine fitting into an Arthurian frame, even with the wide latitude Anthony had suggested, but there was just one that had possibilities. I still have it, exactly as I wrote it down when it had first occurred to me—please pardon the informality:
Fantasy world: the people are ruled by a king, who had a kind of halo. When king dies, halo moves to someone else, not predictable. If king orders someone to do something, and they don't do it, misfortune befalls them. 
Alternative: world has magic, but con men tell that story to stranger when all they really have is the halo.
Alternative: Kingship transfers to a reluctant peasant. POV his brother? friend?
What other magic enters into the story?
Is the story about the end of the halo spell? Learning something about it? The effect it has on characters?

That was all. If you read "The Kings of the Corona", as I hope you will, you'll see that the final story differs from the original germ in many ways: the "alternatives" I played with in the note fell by the wayside, and I settled on "Corona" (Latin for "crown") as the preferred name for the thing, avoiding the religious charge of "halo". This was because, as I began to work on the story seriously, I realized that the power to make someone do something just by issuing a command would be so overwhelming that it had to be the bad guy who wielded it. If the good guy had the Corona, there'd be no story. The story has to be about fighting against the King of the Corona, and somehow winning, which meant I had to work out a back-story for the Corona, and then show how a Knight of King Arthur defeats it.

I started writing, first describing the little isolated kingdom of Palavel, ruled by a man made king by the Corona, from the point of view of a young man, a brewer's apprentice, named Mauregal. Then I would have the Knight, whom I named Sir Sagradur, arrive ... but as I wrote, I realized I was telling a different kind of Arthurian story.

Pardon me for a digression. A formula that many stories have used, from the Knights of King Arthur all the way to Star Trek, consists of presenting a place with a problem, and a good guy rides up in his horse or spaceship or whatever, solves the problem, basks momentarily in the gratitude of the people, makes a nice speech that shows how he's finer and better than they are, and rides off into the sunset, warp factor 6. Granted, I'm parodying here to make a point—the point that this formula is actually pretty anti-libertarian, anti-dignity-of-the-common-folk in its philosophical implications—but I think you will recognize this formula. 
The Lone Ranger used it. Have Gun, Will Travel used it. James Bond used it, only without the "gratitude of the people" part because in the 007 adventures the general population is so benighted they never even know they've been rescued, or that they were in danger in the first place.

But, as I wrote, it turned out that I wasn't using it. I didn't really set out to write the anti-Paladin story, but somehow that's exactly what I did. Sir Sagradur is a noble character, he’s a much-needed inspiration for Mauregal, and he’s crucial for the plot: if he and his dipsomaniac squire Kincarius hadn't arrived, Christians among pagans, but totally focused on the mission King Arthur had given them, nothing would have happened to save Palavel. But in the end ... well, I’m trying to give up my bad habit of blurting spoilers, so enough already. 

Another thing I didn't set out to do, but did anyway, was write a story that went over Anthony's length-suggestion (well, length-limit, originally). It was supposed to be up to 10,000 words, or not much more. I had started by writing a rough outline, like a detailed plot summary, and then working from that. The summary was about 2,000 words, and as I went along it seemed to be "inflating" at a good ratio of about five finished-words to one summary-word, so I figured I'd be fine. Then I got to the last quarter, and something happened to the ratio ... somehow, that last quarter of the outline took a whole lot more words to turn into final story than the rest of my outline did, and my first draft of the story weighed in at about 15,000 words, if I remember correctly. However, it was 11 PM of the last day of the submission period, so I sent it off with an apologetic cover note. I figured the worst Anthony could say was no, and if that was the decision maybe I could find some other use for it.

But to my great gratification, he liked it! He decided to forgive me the extra few thousand words. I did further revisions, and struck out some of the excess verbiage in that original version over the following few months, but also added others, so that the final version was, I think, around 17,000. As with the periodic attempts to cut the federal budget, somehow the net result of each round of cutting was to make it a little bigger. Oh well, as an e-book it hardly matters, I hope.

As I say, I hope you'll read "The Kings of the Corona", in TALES OF THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING. In the process of revising it I’ve read it many times myself and I still like it. Now that I’ve read the other stories in the anthology I have to say that it may not be the best story in the book, but it is still the longest. So any way you look at it, this is a book you should get.

And, if you've been giving any thought to doing some writing of your own, I hope you'll be as inspired by this anthology as I was by GOD, ROBOT, and start jotting down your own story ideas. I found writing to be a lot of work, but also great fun, and highly satisfying when you finish.