News from the Orphan sequel front:

Bad news and good news. Bad: I’m working on the middle of the sequel to The Eons-Lost Orphan. It is going OK, but it does take some work to keep up to the qualities of the first book. Good: I know the end of the sequel and have plotted it (very roughly). I quite like it and hope lots of others will agree.


At 25 Jane Kuznetsov (the Orphan) has her first boy friend. This is normal for the people where she was born. They lived very long lives and matured much later. They might not marry and have children until they were 50 or 100 years old.

Her boyfriend is a good deal older and a celebrity in the entertainment industry. On occasion he treads various red carpets at such events as movie premieres, awards shows, and such events. Naturally Jane has to have nice outfits for such events. Here is one.

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I took some time off from the The Eons-Lost Orphan sequel because I was having trouble with a plot point. The next morning as I came slowly awake the solution occurred to me. I hurried through getting ready for the day and returned to the sequel.

Jane is now on the World Space station doing, hmm…. You’ll have to buy the book to find out what.

Here is my first draft of an image of the space station. In the time of the Orphan, some 15+ years in our future, it was built by a consortium of the top hoteliers of the world. The “cans” at the far ends of the station are like combination hotels, shopping malls, entertainment arenas, and offices.

The station spins to create artificial gravity in the cans that mimics the gravity of the Moon. This serves double duty. It lets people traveling to and from the Moon adjust to the transition in gravity. More importantly, it keeps people who spend a long time in zero-G from being near-invalids for a few weeks when they return to Earth.

Click image to see a larger version

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Two more stories available about THE FIRST SHAPECHANGER

I was working on two Shapechanger Tales novelettes when the Orphan appeared naked and asleep in a public park. She haunted me until I HAD to tell her story. I did that in The Eons-Lost Orphan. She haunts me still as I work on the sequel: The Orphan in Near-Space.

Recently, when the Orphan gave me a few hours off from her story, I polished one novelette (Phoenix’s Flight) and finished the other (The Fair Warrior). They further extend the narrative of the first shapechanger, Maelgyreyt.

Click image to read an excerpt and to buy the stories.

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THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME – surprisingly hilarious

With no better movies to choose from my lady friend and I watched “The Spy Who Dumped Me” during our usual weekend movie night – and were pleasantly surprised.

There’s hardly a scene after the action-adventure chase scene which opens the movie which isn’t funny. Some of them are hilarious, surprising us into laughs. Such as the restaurant scene seemingly populated by every spy in Europe, which degenerates into multiple shootouts which leaves the restaurant full of dead people – except for our crouching pair of women bewildered by the chaos around them.

Drop-dead gorgeous Mila Kunis has solid comedic chops, not surprising in an actress who seemingly can play any kind of role, including the antagonistic ballet dancer in Black Swan. Kate McKinnon was a revelation to me. A regular on Saturday Night Live, she can give us a laugh with just a blank stare – and when she drops into a celebrity or other impression she is funny as Hell.

Available for streaming from Amazon and rental from RedBox.

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Lois McMaster Bujold’s THE SPIRIT RING – terrific fantasy

You’re in for a treat if you’ve somehow overlooked Lois McMaster Bujold‘s first fantasy novel, written after she’d achieved success with the “Vorkosiverse” novels. I had. Recently I came across a mention of it and snapped it up.

I’m glad I did. The Spirit Ring is set in an alternate Renaissance Italy where magic is real. It has believable likable (and hatable) characters, richly realized setting, and action as straight as an arrow shot.

I suspect I overlooked it because it’s fantasy and I disliked that genre when it first came out. Don’t make my mistake.

Click image to read an excerpt and to buy the book.

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I’ve had a lot of queries about sequels to The Eons-Lost Orphan. Good news: I’m a quarter of the way into the first one. Bad news: I don’t expect to finish before Thanksgiving. Christmas week is a more likely launch date.

What will Jane do in the sequel? Spend more time in space. Some on or near the World Space Station, on or near the Moon. There she will meet her first lover. And there and back on Earth begin to tangle with one or more of the three Chinese splinter empires.

Sequels can be tough. I have to maintain the appeal of the first, and I don’t really know what that is. I broke a number of rules of writing I always thought universal. Some of the negative reviews took me to task for that.

For instance, Jane is a sort of Supergirl-lite, nearly a “Mary Sue” – a term for someone perfect in every way. There is little conflict, no great super-villain or super-bad problem. Jane and her kind were designed by an advanced race over a thousand years to be perfect warriors and charismatic leaders. Anything or anyone who threatens the people under her protection is doomed. Fights with her are quick and lethal, so there are no long-drawn-out fist-fights so beloved of action movie makers.

Luckily for the people of Earth she’s also a loving person who likes being around people and working with them, building them up rather than using them. (Like her super-soldier nature, she was designed that way too.)

So what’s in the quarter-novel so far? Jane is assigned to the space-threat program by the Space Force (the short name for the real-world Air Force Space Command). This is just an excuse. Basically they have a proven genius on their payroll and they want to give the golden goose a chance to lay more golden eggs.

She is stationed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (where I spent 11 years). The first task she sets for herself is doing research on telemagnetic floater tech. This will allow aircraft to take off from almost any flat surface rather than huge and expensive (and vulnerable) runways. This is vital to ground support aircraft that do emergency evacuations, reconnaissance, and ground attacks. Below is the first of four test beds which she and her staff build.

To see the others (and find out a little bit more about the sequel) follow this link: FLOATER TECH at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Click image to see a larger version

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MURDERBOT 4, last of the series, now available

The last of the four novellas which make up Martha Wells’ The Murderbot Diaries is now available. Each is a complete story, but together they make up one complete novel. It brings to a satisfying resolution the longer story arc.

In case you don’t know her, Martha is a prolific writer with several series as well as single books to her credit. I’ve long been a fan of her, ever since I was introduced to her Ile-Rien series, one of my favorite series of all time. Find out more about her extensive works on the Martha Wells web page.

Click on the images to preview or buy the books.

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SHUFFLE DANCE – a growing phenom

The Shuffle Dance was inspired partly by Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. It began in Melbourne, Australia, in the ’90s and grew in Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Japan, and especially China. At the same time it was spreading to Europe and more slowly the US.

Here are a couple of videos that show it off. The first is of a Chinese grandfather and his very young daughters. I wish I could dance as well as they do!

The second video features Slovakian dancer Nicolette Paxi Paxianova performing to a mix which includes Alan Walker‘s hugely breakout hit “Faded.”

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ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL preview & director discussion

20th Century Fox has just released the latest preview of “Alita: Battle Angel.” Along with it is an interview with producer James Cameron, director Robert Rodriguez, and actress Rosa Salazar.

You might think the youngest of the trio would have little to say. You’d be wrong. The actress shows herself well able to keep up with the two heavy hitters of the movie world. (Which is appropriate, as she portrays a supreme warrior well able to hit very heavily in the fictional world!)

I found the discussions fascinating. They made me even more interested in seeing the movie when it comes out the Friday before Christmas: December 21st.

(You might want to tap the YouTube icon in the bottom of the screen to see the interview on YouTube and thus in a window filling your computer screen. Or you can do what I did.

I downloaded the video and made a DVD so I could see it on my TV via my Blu-ray player. Products used to do that: the Firefox extension Easy Youtube Video Downloader. And Freemake Video Converter.)

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WOMEN with SWORDS – hypnotic

The title says it all!

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