Archive for July, 2013

Great review for Second Chance, Daily SF Kickstarter, and mad science reprint sale

SF Signal has posted the first review of the BVC edition of Second Chance, and it’s a doozy!

An evocative, emotional, character-focused novella with enough crunch to satisfy space travel SF grognards … has, in resonance with its title, a second chance to engage with readers in an ebook format from Book View Cafe … I highly enjoyed Second Chance. If I had been aware of the story in 2010, I would certainly have given it a Hugo award nomination at the time. Second Chance does deserve a second chance for readers, and I recommend it to any and all short-fiction genre readers.

Read the whole thing for even more embarrassingly effusive praise.

In other news, Daily Science Fiction has, for some years now, been paying pro rates and sending out a story every day for free. How can they keep this up, you may ask? Well, they’re having a
Kickstarter to fund payments to authors for the next six months. It’s a worthy cause, and if you pledge $100 or more you can get a short story critique from me (I’m tough, but fair).

Finally, my story “One Night in O’Shaughnessy’s Bar” will be reprinted in an anthology titled Mad Science Café, coming soon from Book View Café.

SFWA Pacific Northwest Reading Series: Seattle area 8/13, Portland 8/14

This is just a quick reminder that SFWA’s Pacific Northwest Reading Series is having our next events in Seattle and Portland in two weeks!

On Tuesday, August 13 in the Seattle area, we’ll have the multitalented Laura Anne Gilman, along with New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn and award-winning writer Barbara Caridad Ferrer. The University Bookstore will be on hand again selling books and all the authors will be available to sign.

When: Tuesday, August 13, 2013, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Where: Wilde Rover Irish Pub & Restaurant, 111 Central Way, Kirkland, WA 98033

On Wednesday, August 14 in Portland, Laura Anne Gilman will be joined by Phyllis Irene Radford and Diana Pharaoh Francis. Wrigley-Cross Books will be selling books and all the authors will be available to sign.

When: Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Where: McMenamins Kennedy School, 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. Portland, OR 97211

See for more information on both readings. Tell your friends!

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


Parsec Award finalist, Daily SF sale, and more!

2013-Parsec-Finalist-BadgeSo while I was busy with the ebook of Second Chance, a bunch of good news has crept up on me. Hence, a list:

  • My video of “Dr. Talon’s Letter to the Editor” is a finalist for the Parsec Award in the category Best Speculative Fiction Video Story!
  • I sold short-short story “Artist’s Retrospective” to Daily Science Fiction!
  • Space Magic has received its first audiobook review at the Fantasy Literature blog, and it’s a hit!

    It rarely happens that I enjoy every story in a collection, but that’s what happened here. All of these tales are entertaining, I was pleased with the diversity of themes and styles, and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the audio production. … [I]n my experience authors are not usually the best narrators for their own material, [but] I was surprised at how well Levine’s audiobook turned out. … Space Magic is a professional quality audiobook and one I have no trouble recommending both for the stories and the audio production.

  • “I Hold My Father’s Paws” was recommended by the blog Ten to Infinity.
  • I wax nostalgic over at the Book View Café blog about my first computer, a home-built CP/M machine.
  • And, finally, I am pleased(?) to report that I will have a silly Green Lantern poem in Flying Higher: An Anthology of Superhero Poetry!


Second Chance for “Second Chance”

Second Chance by David D. LevineI learned a lot at Clarion West, but I was miserable most of the time. But, eventually, I got a novella out of it. This is the story behind that novella.

Clarion West, in case you don’t know, is a six-week “boot camp for science fiction writers” held every summer in Seattle. Seventeen writers who’ve survived a rigorous selection process, but have never met before, live together in a dorm and do nothing but write and critique for six solid weeks. It’s a lot like a reality show, except that there are no cameras and no one ever gets voted off the island — you’re stuck together for the whole time. No one gets a lot of sleep, and the pressure is intense, but you’re all in it together. It’s a lot of fun and you can make friendships that last a lifetime.

At least, that’s the way it is supposed to be. But it didn’t work out that way for me.

Forced together under all that pressure, people can regress emotionally to high school or even middle school. Cliques form; best-friendships are made and broken rapidly; arguments can be intense; resentments simmer. That happened to me, in spades. And for a variety of reasons having to do with who I was at the time and what was going on in my life outside Clarion, I felt extremely isolated. It looked to me as though everyone else was making friends and having fun, while I was failing and failing creatively and ostracized from the group. (I realized much later that I did have friends, the failures were a necessary part of the learning process, and the isolation I felt had more to do with me than them, but that’s not what this post is about.) I cried almost every day, and the worst part of it was that this was supposed to be the best six weeks of my life — something I’d been hoping and dreaming about for years — and now it was ashes in my mouth.

But the thing about being a writer is that nothing that happens to you is wasted… it’s all material. So I put a note in my ideas file: “Old adolescents in space.”

Stan Schmidt, longtime editor of Analog, always said that he was looking for science fiction stories in which the science and the fiction were given equal weight. The science part of my idea was this: sending people to other stars is hard, because people are heavy and require a lot of maintenance, so I would instead just send a few cells, recorded memories, and a very clever robot that would build a space station from local materials, clone up the crew from the cells, and load them up with their previous memories. The fiction part of the idea was that those freshly-cloned astronauts would be experienced adults, mentally, but their bodies would be young and hormonal and their relationships would be middle-schoolish — my main character would be a man who achieved his dream but had it turn out sour because his emotions were all in a roil.

I attended Clarion West in 2001. I didn’t start writing the story until 2006, and when I did I threw everything I had into it. (In retrospect, I did everything I could to make it hard for myself to write. Maybe I didn’t really want to write it.) The main character, Chaz Eades, I made the opposite of myself — a religiously conservative black man whose faith put him on the outside of a diverse, liberal crew — but I demanded of myself that, despite a faith that I will never share, he had to be a fully-rounded human being, not a caricature or a villain, and that he would not let go of that faith. Then I threw issues at him to make his life hell: difficult ones of sexuality, gender, and race. This complex story grew as it was written, from a long short story to a novelette to a novella, but that was the length it needed to be to contain all of the ideas and emotions I’d put into it. I called it “Second Chance,” not only because it was a second chance for me to find some meaning in my Clarion West experience, but because it’s all about second chances. In fact, there are at least three significant second chances in the story, but you’ll have to read it to find out what they are.

Novellas are hard to sell. There were only about four markets that would even consider a story that long, and none of them wanted it, but they each took a long time to say so — actually, one of them folded while I was waiting for a response. But, eventually, I found a small press that was producing an anthology of three novellas, and after considerable editorial feedback and numerous rewrites, they published it in 2010. But, despite good reviews, it didn’t sell well. So, after joining Book View Café in 2012, I decided to publish Second Chance as a stand-alone ebook… to give this novella, so painful and so important to me, a second chance at an audience.

But the second chances don’t stop there.

I tackled some tough issues of race, religion, sexuality, and gender in this story, and in general my treatment of these issues seems to have been well-received. But I got some negative feedback on the transgender character, and upon reflection I realized it was deserved. So when I set out to make the ebook, I ran the story past a transgender friend. She concurred with the issues I’d known about, and also pointed out some others I hadn’t known about, some of which were are deeply baked into the story. I did what I could to address those issues, and I think the story is improved by the changes, but I recognize that even this revised edition isn’t perfect. I’ll try to do better next time.

So, anyway, here it is: the novella “Second Chance” is now the ebook Second Chance, and starting today you can buy it from the Book View Café, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Apple ebook stores.

If you’d like to try before you buy, you can download a free sample in EPUB or MOBI format.

Go on. Give it a chance.

Mysterious Portuguese tweet

A Twitter search on my name just turned up a tweet in Portuguese from user @lamevaperdicio (La Meva Perdició):

“#02DL “Portava a la mà una carpeta vermella amb una etiqueta en què es podia llegir TOP SECRET”. (David D. Levine).”

This tweet is a translation into Portuguese of a sentence from my Wild Cards Volume 1 rev 2.0 story “Powers,” but I can’t figure out what the #02DL hashtag is or why he tweeted it. Any guesses?