Archive for March, 2010

The Drabblecast podcast of my story “Babel Probe” won the People’s Choice Award for Best Story of the Year! My story “Teaching the Pig to Sing” appeared in the May 2010 issue of Analog, my non-fiction essay “How the Future Predicts Science Fiction” appeared in the final issue of The Internet Review of Science Fiction, and “Wind from a Dying Star” appeared on Escape Pod (available as an MP3 file or via iTunes) and got some nice comments in the Escape Pod forums. I also sold “The Last McDougal’s” to Escape Pod for a future podcast. I’ve also added some Upcoming Appearances below, including a talk about my trip to “Mars” at Powell’s Technical Books in Portland.

Mars talk: April 8, Powell’s Technical Books

On Thursday April 8 at 7:00 PM I’ll be presenting a thirty-minute talk about my trip to “Mars,” profusely illustrated with photographs, at Powell’s Technical Books in the Park Blocks (33 NW Park Avenue, Portland, Oregon). People seem to like this talk a lot. If you’re in the neighborhood, please do stop in!

Feelin’ the love

I am feeling very much loved right now. And that includes both the warm-and-fuzzy and the cold-hands, butterflies-in-the-stomach aspects of that emotion.

It started at Ignite Portland, where I presented the five-minute version of my Mars talk in front of about 600 people. The feedback on my talk at the event, on Twitter, on the forums, and from my MDRS crew and others who watched it on YouTube has been most gratifying.

The next day we headed to Seattle for Potlatch, which was as usual filled with lovely people, both old friends and new, and we had many fine conversations and excellent meals. I was amazed by the number of people who came up to me to say they liked my work, even people I barely knew or didn’t know at all. The “Writing the Other” panel on Friday evening went well, and then at the auction Saturday night I got to do the Happy Snoopy Dance for a bid of over $100 many times — including when my MDRS mission patch and “Mars” rock went for $120. Color me astonished!

The peak of the weekend for me came at brunch on Sunday, when I presented the 30-minute version of my Mars talk. People laughed in all the right places, there were tons of excellent questions, and I was just bowled over by sustained applause at the end of it. After that several people came up to me to talk about presenting my Mars talk at other events (I’m told that one person from Wiscon said to someone else “we’ll have to be sure to get a big room for it!”). Some of those discussions are beginning to bear very exciting fruit, which I hope to be able to report on soon.

Online, I participated in a “Burning Question” discussion at the blog of Laptop Magazine, in which several SF writers answered the question “Which Technology Makes You Feel Like You’re Living In The Future?”. (Thanks to K. Tempest Bradford for the invitation.) That’s nice enough, but then the editors of Laptop liked the results so much that they decided to print it in the May issue of the paper magazine. And then Annalee Newitz at io9 picked up one paragraph I wrote in that about “techno-snot” and called it out for a whole article on its own. This attracted the attention of Dearbhaile Heaney, an MA student at the Royal College of Art in London, who is working on an art project investigating the social and cultural perceptions of “goo” and emailed me to pick my brain about the issue. I wound up writing a 300-word flash piece about a fictional techno-goo for the project.

On and on the connections and the links go. There’s more in the works, and I’ll let you know when I have details.

It’s amazingly cool to be at the center of attention like this, and yet it’s also scary and nerve-wracking. Although I’m a big ham, performing takes a lot out of me and I have to retreat to a dark room for a few hours afterward to recuperate. I imagine this is a tiny taste of what it’s like to be Neil Gaiman. It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted, but I’m also kind of hoping it will slack off and get back to normal soon. Looking at my schedule for the next few months, though, I’m not sure that it will.

The business of being a famous Marsonaut has also interfered with the business of writing. I’ve written barely half a short story since the beginning of 2010. I’ve also received a couple of very disheartening rejections recently. But when I look on all these accolades and awards I know that I am capable of writing work that makes people smile. I fully intend to get back on the writing horse this month.

Writers’ Weekend July 22-25

Jay Lake and I will be “writer gurus” at Writers’ Weekend this July 22-25 (Thurs-Sun) at the Ocean Crest Resort on the coast of Washington state. This is a continuation of the former Iron Springs Writers’ Workshop at a new location. It’s educational, laid-back, and fun, with critique, lectures, and plenty of free time for writing and revising. There are still a few spots left, so if you’re interested you should head over to for more information. To register, email

San Jose, April 4-7

We are coming to San Jose for the ECR@25 square dance fly-in, April 2-4, and have decided to stay on for a few days afterwards, returning on the 7th. Anyone in the Bay Area want to hang out April 4-7? We’re also interested in crash space, and information about events happening during those days. Leave a comment below or email me at dlevine at spiritone dot com.

Doesn’t suck to be me

At the moment we are at Potlatch in Seattle. So far we have had a delightful Chinese dinner with Janna Silverstein and Jack Bell, dim sum with Allen Baum and Donya White, and vegetarian Thai with Liz Argall and Julie and Greg Sardo. I also participated on a panel about “Writing the Other” with Ellen Klages and Nisi Shawl and hung out and talked with a bunch of other cool people.

We also spotted the May 2010 issue of Analog, containing my story “Teaching the Pig to Sing,” at a Seattle magazine shop. My name’s on the cover! (Yes, as far as the magazines are concerned it is now May. If you want a copy, run down to your local newsstand before June arrives at the beginning of April. This issue will also be available as an e-book in a variety of formats but I don’t know when.)

The video of my Ignite Portland talk has been posted on YouTube:

Someone accidentally opened a fire door at the beginning of my talk, causing a loud alarm buzzer. This made me really flustered and I flubbed some of my lines (like calling the Viking rover Voyager and forgetting where Bianca came from) but I did manage to recover once the noise stopped. Everyone said I handled the interruption really well.

Many people in the audience were on Twitter and you can see some of their comments here. The Mars Society’s Director of Operations called it “a very inspirational talk” and says she will be including it in the training videos for future crews.

You can see all 20 talks from Ignite Portland 8 on YouTube. My favorites are Why Wikipedians are the Weirdest People on the Internet and The Beginner’s Guide to Psychiatric Hospitalization.

I also participated in a group discussion on Laptop Magazine‘s blog about Which Technology Makes You Feel Like You’re Living In The Future?. Go over there, read it, and if you like it leave a comment. There may be more of these “Burning Question” discussions in the future if there’s sufficient response.

Ignite Portland starts now!

Having driven myself to a frazzle with rehearsing all day, I’m just heading out the door for Ignite Portland right now. If you’re coming, bring a nonperishable food donation. If not, you can watch it live — I’ll be appearing in the second half of the show. Wish me luck!