Fortune is Smiling



Actual Photograph of ISS, courtesy of NASA. One of my tattooed friends explained to me that marking yourself with something you believe in connects you to it. You know what I believe in? This thing. Not getting a tattoo, but if I were, this would be a candidate.

A conspiracy of happy turns of events!

Mumblety-mumblety years ago, I attended a dinner meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers with a guy I was dating. They served a dinner featuring lots of the newly trendy cracked pepper, which allowed me to discover my allergy to pepper. And also, sadly, made me have to step into the hallway and miss a good portion of the fascinating presentation on this thing they were seeking support for: a space station. To be built by, just imagine, international cooperation. I wished frantically for Gene Roddenberry to be sitting next to me so I could elbow him sharply. I made do with nudging my companion.

The hope of the thing! The audacity!

But we couldn’t be sure it would be built. The number of things which could go wrong, while not infinite, sure seemed like it. And Congress, unsurprisingly, was dragging its feet over funding the proposed U.S. portion. But still … that the thing could be imagined? Seriously considered among the scientific community, and at least discussed by world governments? Breathtaking.

Years later, I still have that guy sitting next to me for convenient nudging. (Reader, I married him.) And I still have the glossy 8 X 10 artwork NASA distributed to us: the artist’s conception of the structure, hanging against the blackness of space.


I am very fortunate to walk my wee dog almost daily with an amazing neighbor. She texted me yesterday to alert me to the International Space Station due to pass overhead close enough to see with the unassisted human eye. (The humor in this is that she did so at 6:45 a.m. The thing was due at 6:48. I was also fortunate in that I had, this time, closed my window curtains securely and so did not scandalize the neighborhood in my desperate flinging about of clothes and my sleep-draggled self.)

Good fortune indeed: the sky was clear enough in the necessary stretch so that we could see the ISS pass. Obliging clouds … we miss a great many astronomical events due to the South Florida weather.

And there it was. A marvel. A wonder. The product of so very many hours of human energy, ingenuity, labor, experiment, resources. And perhaps more astonishingly, cooperation of large groups of organized people. Good fortune smiling upon the enterprise? Or was it the power of belief? The commitment of so many to making an idealistic concept come into physical existence. How many times did that scientist stand in front of a small crowd, with his impassioned speech and his glossy prints? And he was one tiny fragment of the whole. How many more people dedicated their energy, the precious hours of their lives, into this dream? And look what they did. Humans. Tiny creatures on this speck of a planet, reaching out with our minds and our hands and saying yes.

Michelle and I craned our necks, saw the rising sun glinting off the solar arrays. We watched it until it faded into the clouds.

The sighting colored our walk with talk of technology, of the future, of things which were once wonders that are now every-day and taken for granted. Wouldn’t it be great if world cooperation to solving difficult problems were one of them?

I want to wave the International Space Station in front of people. People who have decided to care about things and processes that separate us from each other. “Look! Look what we can accomplish together!”



Tuesday: Tea and a Tome 9/13/16


In my studio today.

My happiest time is when I stand in front of a white empty board: the space is full of hope.

— Kinuko Craft

Too much wrestling with tech yesterday left me irritable. Today is a new beginning! So I had a lovely cup of chai tea with a friend to start my morning. Cinnamon and ginger, allspice and cloves, quiet conversation: all warming and life-enriching. These things will soothe.

As will a peek into the visually delicious Kinuko Craft: Drawings & Paintings. I purchased a copy in New York recently. You may not know Kinuko Craft’s name, but you might recognize her paintings: ethereal, yearning,  ambient pieces that cup narrative in an enchanted, wordless space.

If you know her work, then like me you probably saw her paintings first on a book cover. I looked into her art after discovering her wonderful illustration for The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip, and realized that many of these paintings were familiar to me. Generally, yes, via book covers. A good cover stands alone as a work of art, but also serves as a sort of gateway, inviting a reader to come step through into the story.

An ill-suited cover can suffocate a book, but the right cover can make it sing. Craft and McKillip are well suited. As are Craft and Ellen Kushner, at least in the case of the wonderful Thomas the Rhymer. I read this story in 1990, when it was a new version of an old wonderment, and have revisited it since. I loved the Thomas Canty cover back then, and thought it couldn’t have an equal, but the US and Kindle reissues are graced with a Kinuko Craft cover that will likely draw in a new generation of readers. (You can see more about it on Terri Windling’s wonderful blog post over at Myth and Moor.)

But back to the book at hand. This volume (available through her official gallery for $25 at the time of this post) is a lovely production. Gleaming gold ink, lavish borders, and vividly printed illustrations. Worth the space on your bookshelf.

Kinuko Craft’s words give insight into her process and motivation.

“The stories invite me into a world the author has created. I start living there and let my own dreams and imagination explore and guide me.”  — Kinuko Craft

The art, though, is the main reason for picking up the book. Line drawings let us see pieces of the creation of the finished works. She has a very great technical skill in art, but as with the best writers, she transcends technique and takes us into worlds of her own creation. Dense, layered, rich with detail and color. Her paintings are so narrative, they don’t have subjects: they have protagonists.

Once a painting is finished I never look back. The journey is done, and I go on to the next adventure. — Kinuko Craft

Visit Kinuko Craft’s official website for more wonderment!

Future Home of Epic Hat Battles


Tower of Geek at SuperCon in Miami. See if you can spot the Truly Impressive Hat.

If you saw my post on visiting Supercon in Miami, you might remember how much I liked the WordFire Press extravaganza, the Tower of Geek. Writers smiling, interacting one-on-one with fans. Happy volunteers helping people find their next great read. Where I had my awesome (if one-sided) hat battle (which I lost) and met some very cool people.

It reminded me of my old bookstore days. I didn’t have to look very far to find interesting people with sparkling minds back then … they just came walking into the shop. And then I got to talk to them about some of my favorite things: reading, and books, and art Star Trek and gaming and oh by the way if you like that have you seen this author. I didn’t make a lot of money, compared to some in other fields, but the quality of my hours was matchless.

The Tower of Geek is the kind of thing that makes you want to be part of it, whether you’re buying books — which I did — or being part of the crew. And I told Bertie.

And Bertie did what Bertie does, and wrote Kevin Anderson an e-mail. And sent him a book. And told him about the other we were working on.

And Kevin Anderson said yes.

So Albatross has been revised, the better to have a companion volume, and will be coming out in print and a new e-book, likely within the year. And Book Two, for now called Shimmer, is ready to be looked at by a pro Editor as well. And Bertie and I have signed both contracts with WordFire Press.

And I have purchased a new hat.

To celebrate.

Prepare for Epic Hat Battle, part Two!