Archive for January, 2013

Successful SFWA reading

Tonight’s Portland SFWA reading, with James Patrick Kelly, Felicity Shoulders, and Grá Linnaea, went very well! It was nicely attended and Jim brought a great energy to the proceedings, especially the Q&A. Thanks to everyone who attended.


The next readings are Tuesday April 23 (Seattle area) and Wednesday April 24 (Portland) with Mary Robinette Kowal, Tina Connolly, and Nisi Shawl.

SFWA Pacific Northwest Reading Series: Seattle area TODAY, Portland TOMORROW

This is just a quick reminder that SFWA’s Pacific Northwest Reading Series is having its next events this week!

Today (Tuesday, January 29), in the Seattle area, local favorite Cat Rambo will be accompanied by Portland writers Felicity Shoulders and Grá Linnaea. The University Bookstore will be on hand again selling books and all the authors will be available to sign.

When: Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Where: Wilde Rover Irish Pub and Restaurant, 111 Central Way, Kirkland, WA 98033

Tomorrow (Wednesday, January 30), in Portland, we’ll have multiple award winner James Patrick Kelly (all the way from Maine!), also accompanied by Felicity Shoulders and Grá Linnaea. Wrigley-Cross Books will be selling books and all the authors will be available to sign.

When: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Where: McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. Portland, OR 97211

Both events are free and open to the public.

I hope you can join us! It should be a lot of fun.

See for more information and to RSVP (not required, but encouraged).

Potlatch 22 last-minute updates

Potlatch 22 is now just one week away! Here’s some last-minute news and reminders.

The Potlatch track program schedule has been posted at

The schedule for Foolscap’s Friday writing seminars has also been posted, at These seminars are free, but you must sign up by 1/25 (tomorrow!)

The Potlatch 22 Local Guide has gone to the printer and is now available as a PDF for your pre-con research at

The transit instructions we gave you last time about how to get to the con from the airport have been updated slightly:

Finally, if you are planning to come to Potlatch and still haven’t bought your membership, it’s not too late. The cost only goes up at the door and we would love to know in advance if we get to see your smiling face at the con. Memberships are still only $50, but the clock is ticking. Buy your membership now!

That’s all the news for now. See you at the con!

The Zoom in Winter

Recently I watched The Lion in Winter (1968) for the first time in a long while. Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn’s performances are fabulous, of course, and a very young and very sexy Timothy Dalton enlivens the scene no end, but the film is an interesting historical document, in at least three ways.

First, real-world history. We had to pause the DVD several times during the early going to revisit our memories of the historical characters and situation. Were the princes Richard and John the same as Richard the Lionheart and Robin Hood’s King John respectively? How does this Henry connect with the Henry V we saw in Ashland last summer? Though I haven’t looked into it, I’m sure most of the intrigue in the film is entirely historical… but I doubt it all came to a head in one long weekend in real life.

Second, theatre history. This film was a Broadway hit first, and it’s a very theatrical film — the dialogue is delicious and eminently quotable — and, considered as a play, it’s a marvel of concise character development and wickedly twisted power games. But the dialogue is a bit stilted by modern standards; it’s brilliant, yes, but people don’t really talk that way in real life, and I don’t think they talk quite that way on stage any more.

Third, film history, and this is the bit I really wanted to blog about. Although the film is justifiably praised — it won three Oscars and a pile of other awards — and very enjoyable, in some ways it has dated badly.

The problems, to the modern eye, begin in the opening credits, superimposed over shots of gargoyles, where the occasional cobweb drifts in a corner. These cobwebs are not deliberate, not atmospheric. There are only one or two of them in the whole sequence and their appearance and motion are nothing but distracting. These are the opening shots of a major motion picture and whatever second unit head shot them couldn’t be bothered to use a feather duster.

There are many other such glitches, which would never be accepted today in any film from a major studio. In significant scenes, Hepburn’s shadow falls on O’Toole’s face for long stretches of his dialog. There’s one picturesque stairway which appears again and again, nominally in different parts of the castle. And then there’s the zoom.

In many occurrences — I counted at least five — there’s a shot in which a main character or an important bit of scenery rests at the center of the frame while the camera slowly zooms in (or, in one memorable instance, out) for dramatic effect. These zooms are just a little uneven; you can practically feel the cameraman’s hand rotating the lens housing. And I realized that you never see zooms like this in film any more.

I know that when I was an amateur filmmaker in high school (not all that long after The Lion in Winter was released), my camera had a zoom lens and I did sometimes use it while the camera was running. Of course, there was a time before this camera effect was technically possible. But apparently, at some time between then and now, it fell out of favor.

Since watching Lion in Winter, I’ve been looking carefully for examples of zoom in more recent films. You do occasionally see it, but it is usually much more subtle and/or combined with a pan, a dolly, a change in focus, or some other effect so that the zoom is only part of the camera move and not the dominant note. But, in general, zoom seems to have fallen out of the cinematographer’s vocabulary.

If you listen to the later Beatles with headphones, you’ll hear numerous examples of stereo being used overtly (e.g. all the guitars in one ear, all the vocals in the other) and it’s really distracting. It was early days and they were still figuring out how to use the technology. We’re still using stereo today, of course, but it’s much more subtle and much more integrated with the other tools in the audio engineer’s toolbox. The same seems to have happened with zoom.

I’ll be looking out for more examples of this.

Video of Dr. Talon’s “Letter to the Editor”

I have just released a 15-minute video of my story “Letter to the Editor” from John Joseph Adams’s forthcoming anthology The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination!

I hope you enjoy the video. If you do, please share it with your friends! The YouTube short URL is

I made this video after reading the story at a couple of conventions and receiving rave reviews for the story and performance. The nature of the story (plus my friend Robin Catesby’s mad video skills) makes it work really well as a video and I’m extremely pleased with the way it came out. The Mad Scientist’s Guide is also a kick-ass anthology, which has already received a starred review from Library Journal and been named a Top Pick by Romantic Times, and I hope that the video and anthology will be excellent publicity for each other.

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, due out on February 19, is now available for pre-order in both hardcover and trade paperback at traditional brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, via online retailers such as or, or you can support an indie bookstore by ordering through See for more information on the anthology.

Space Magic interviews and reviews round-up

So this was the week of the Space Magic ebook release. Thank you to everyone who helped to publicize it and/or bought it! Here’s a round-up of the press it’s received so far:

Teaser: Dr. Talon Wants You

Thanks to everyone for your support, blogs, and retweets on the Space Magic ebook release. This, and my new website ( are two of the three major projects that have been occupying a lot of my writing time in the last few months.

The third project goes live next week. Here’s a teaser.

Dr Talon Wants You

Space Magic ebook launches today!

I am very pleased to announce that the ebook of Space Magic, my award-winning short story collection, is available for purchase starting today!

This Endeavour Award-winning collection pulls together 15 critically acclaimed science fiction and fantasy stories that take readers from a technicolor cartoon realm to an ancient China that never was, and from an America gone wrong to the very ends of the universe. Including the Hugo Award-winning “Tk’Tk’Tk,” the Writers of the Future Award winner “Rewind,” “Nucleon,” “The Tale of the Golden Eagle,” and many other highly-praised stories, Space Magic shows David D. Levine’s talents not only as a gifted writer but as a powerful storyteller whose work explores the farthest reaches of space as well as the depths of the human heart.

This edition comes to you from Book View Café, an author-owned co-op publisher whose 40 members include Hugo and Nebula award winners (Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, and Linda Nagata), NY Times bestsellers (Patricia Rice and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff), and other notable book authors (Sherwood Smith, Madeleine Robins, Lois Gresh, and Sarah Zettel). BVC members pool their many talents — in editing, proofing, graphic design, marketing, management, and book formatting — and, in return, receive 95% royalties on their books. Currently they have over 160 titles for sale and publish around five new titles each month. They publish romance, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and a strong YA list. I’ve been a member of BVC for a while now, but this, my first official BVC release, marks my formal debut.

I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the members of Book View Café for assistance and impetus in transforming this book into an ebook, especially Chaz Brenchley for proofreading and Chinese transliteration, Dave Smeds for work on the cover, and Vonda N. McIntyre for much help and advice on the ebook transformation. Also to Janna Silverstein for her fabulous marketing copy, Darin Bradley and Bruce Holland Rogers for selflessly donating the e-rights to their work on the print book, and of course to Deborah Layne of Wheatland Press for publishing the original paper version.

You can buy Space Magic directly from Book View Café or on the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Apple ebook stores. It’s DRM-free and I’ve made it available in as many countries as I could on each store. In addition to the collection itself, for $5.99, each of the 15 short stories is also available as a stand-alone ebook for 99¢.

With so many choices, where should you buy it? I’d ask that you buy it from whatever ebook store you usually frequent, because more sales on each store will help make the book more visible, but you should also consider buying from the Book View Café website because almost all of the money goes to me and the other members.

If you aren’t an ebook reader, the trade paperback is still available from Wheatland Press, Powell’s, and Amazon, and there are still a few copies of the signed and numbered hardcover at Wrigley-Cross Books.

Wherever you buy it — or even if you’ve already bought the paper version, or just borrowed it from the library or a friend — if you’ve read and enjoyed the collection or any of the stories in it, I would really appreciate it if you would let your friends know about it (on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or your blog) or post a review (on Goodreads, LibraryThing, Powell’s, Amazon, or the nearest tree).

Thank you very much for your support!