Not round these parts much anymore

Blogs get like the shells that hermit crabs choose: after a while they no longer fit so well, they chafe in awkward corners, they persist in allowing unfiltered Russian spam to masquerade as comments on your posts.*

I've pretty much abandoned Livejournal of late, a situiation I think is unlikely to change. At some point I should get around to rescuing the useful content from previous posts.

If you're feeling a need to monitor my current lack of progress, my new(er) locus of bloggish activity is my Wordpress site, simonpetrie.wordpress.com. Feel free to check it out.

* To those of you who would quibble about whether this is an affliction generally suffered by hermit crabs, answer me this: Are you currently, or have you ever been, a hermit crab? (Pics or GTFO)
Flight 404

Free to a good home

Actually, the quality of the home doesn't matter, just the timing.

As of now--which should be, by my calculations, mere minutes after midnight on Saturday the 2nd of March (Pacific time)*--the e-book of my novella of deep-space detection and deception, Flight 404, is available for free download from Amazon's Kindle store. The window of opportunity stays open for three days, to slam shut at the end of March the 4th (which will, of course, already be March the 5th in many parts of the world).

What's the story about? Well, there's an overview of sorts here, on my Wordpress site, and some reviews (also on my Wordpress site) gathered here, which show that, so far, people haven't hated it. It's your basic woman-and-her-android-search-for-answers-in-the-disappearance-of-a-large-passenger-spacecraft trope, with some transgender aspects, some psychodrama, and (I hope) not too much changing-of-the-laws-of-physics.

If you're curious, please give it a look. And, please, feel free to signal-boost.

(* For a given value of 'mere minutes' which, as it turned out, was closer to one hour and twenty-five minutes)
SF moomin

That's not a moon, that's a--no, wait, you're right, that IS a moon ...

I have a slightly unusual request ...

Please help me name Pluto's fourth moon. I'd like it to be called 'Erebus'. It's important that 'Erebus' is the name chosen for it, so as not to spoil a story I had published last year.

They're also looking for a name for the fifth moon. I don't care what that gets called, it can be called any old thing for all I care, I didn't write about it. But I'd like the fourth moon to wind up with the name Erebus, if it's at all possible. The dignity of my first pro sale depends on it.

For those who want the long story ...

In June 2011 a team at the SETI institute, led by Mark Showalter, discovered Pluto's fourth moon (and, a year or so later, its fifth moon). The two objects are still waiting for names. In September 2011 I found out about a competition to write a story using a scientific discovery made within the last 12 months, and I chose Pluto's fourth moon as the kernel around which to wrap my entry. I needed an underworld-themed name for Moon 4, and 'Erebus' struck me as a likely contender. ('Cerberus' is another likely choice, but there's already an asteroid of that name.) Three days before I finished the story, the contest folded ... so I decided to try out the story elsewhere. The thing you need to realise here is that astronomical objects are normally named fairly promptly, within just a few months of discovery, so I figured any place that took the story would not get around to publishing it before the moon's real name had been finalised. I was wrong. Redstone SF, the second or third place I sent the story, took it, and it appeared in their August 2012 issue, just before they went into hiatus. The name had still not been finalised by the astronomical community, so my original placeholder/best guess of 'Erebus' stayed in the story.

Now Mark Showalter, the leader of the team that discovered the fourth and fifth moons, is holding an Internet competition to see what the most popular names are, from a list of about a dozen underworld-themed names, and 'Erebus' is one of those names ... you can vote between now and Monday Feb 25th, up to once per day if you feel like it, to make your voice heard. The link's the first one at the top of this post, but in case that doesn't work, the url is: http://www.plutorocks.com/. If you choose to vote for 'Erebus' and for one other name on the list, you'd make a distinctly mediocre SF writer very happy.

(Oh, and if you're willing / able to signal-boost this entirely self-serving request, I'd be eternally grateful. Who knows? I may even go the extra mile in assisting you when you need an astronomical object named ...)
ASIM logo B&W

Early-bird special going cheep, but not for much longer

And while I'm on the subject of signal boosting ...

Someone* neglected to switch off the special deal (which had supposedly been set to expire as of 31st January) for a one-year e-subscription to ASIM (four issues, over 600 pages' worth of quality fiction, poetry, reviews and nonfiction, in your choice of pdf, epub, or mobi) for just $12AUD rather than the standard $18AUD. It's still on offer, but it will definitely cease to be offered as of 10 pm Canberra time tomorrow night (February 10th). If you're unsure when '10 pm Canberra time tomorrow night' is, I suggest you not leave it to chance.

* That would be me ...

Wot I dun this year past

Stories released to the wild:
'The Man Who ...' (short story, Redstone SF)
'Sky Pie' (short story, Jupiter Magazine)
'Cruisy' (short story, Ticon4)
'A Night to Remember' (novelette written in extreme haste for the SpecFicNZ blogging week, and hosted as a serial on various SpecFicNZ members' websites and blogs)
'The Hunt for Red Leicester'
and 'Flight 404' (two novellas, published by Peggy Bright Books)

(The above are all eligible for Ditmar and Sir Julius Vogel awards under various categories.)

Achievements made while wearing my editor's cap:
Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear (co-edited with Edwina Harvey, published by Peggy Bright Books)
Two stories from the Hivemind-edited tenth anniversary issue, ASIM 56
Next (co-edited with Rob Porteous, to be published by CSFG this year; obviously, this is a work-in-progress)

Activities in layout:
ASIM 53, 54, 55, 56: print, pdf, epub, and mobi editions
The above Peggy Bright Books titles: print, pdf, epub, and mobi editions
Ripley Patton's YA novel Ghost Hand: pdf, epub, and mobi editions

Last year, I made my first pro sale (to Redstone SF), completed my two longest stories to date (the novellas), and enjoyed my first stint at editing (to be pedantic, co-editing) something other than an issue of ASIM (i.e., Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear). I attended my first NZ Natcon and my first Continuum. And I once again managed not to convert any of a growing number of story threads into a novel, despite a late run (now stalled) at exploring a follow-up to 'Flight 404'. This year, I am determined to get my still-largely-unwritten Titan novel, Wide Brown Land, into something approximating finished form, unless I get distrac--

Hey, look, a squirrel!

And just because this shouldn't only be about me ... a few lists:

Stories I've edited (or co-edited) which are eligible for the upcoming Ditmar awards:
Joanne Anderton, 'The Bone Chime Song' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Adam Browne, 'The D____d' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Sue Bursztynski, 'Midwinter Night' (short story, ASIM 54)
Sue Bursztynski, 'Five Ways to Start a War' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
C A L, 'The Iron Lighthouse' (short story, ASIM 54)
Belinda Crawford, 'Lex Talionis' (short story, ASIM 54)
Katherine Cummings, 'The Travelling Salesman and the Farmer's Daughter' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Tamlyn Dreaver, 'Petting the Tiger' (short story, ASIM 54)
Thoraiya Dyer, 'Faet's Fire' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Jacob Edwards, 'Yet Another Kill Hitler Story' (short story, ASIM 56)
Dirk Flinthart, 'Head Shot' (short story, ASIM 54)
Edwina Harvey, 'HG' (novelette, ASIM 54)
Kathleen Jennings, 'Kindling' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Dave Luckett, 'History: Theory and Practice' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Ian McHugh, 'The Godbreaker and Unggubudh the Mountain' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Sean McMullen, 'Hard Cases' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Robert Porteous, 'Roasted' (short story, ASIM 54)
Robert Porteous, 'The Subjunctive Case' (novelette, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Kent Purvis, 'Going Fourth' (short story, ASIM 54)
Nigel Read, 'The Bridge' (novelette, ASIM 56)
Nike Sulway, 'The Fox's Child' (short story,ASIM 54)
Anna Tambour, 'Murder at the Tip' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)

Other Ditmar-eligible stuff:
'Nine Lines: A Nail Clipping from the Hitchhiker's Thumb?', Jacob Edwards' speculations on a possible 'lost and found' fragment attributed to Douglas Adams, in ASIM 54
Greg Hughes' and Kathleen Jennings' internal illustrations for ASIM 56
Lewis Morley's illustrations (front cover and all internals) for ASIM 54
Lewis Morley's front cover illustrations (novella double: two front covers, one with artfully-incorporated barcode) for Flight 404 / The Hunt for Red Leicester
Nick Stathopoulos' front cover illustration (the birthday cake) for the tenth-anniversary issue, ASIM 56

And a list of SJV-eligible content I've edited or done layout on:
Ripley Patton, 'Mary Had a Unicorn' (short story, Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear)
Ripley Patton, Ghost Hand (YA novel)
Dan Rabarts, 'Paint By Numbers' (short story, ASIM 55)
Grant Stone, 'Better Phones' (short story, ASIM 56)
M Darusha Wehm, 'Modern Love' (short story, ASIM 54)
SF moomin

Next ... a Table of Contents

The release of the 'Next' anthology, from CSFG, is still over four months away, but fellow editor Rob Porteous and I can now reveal the list of thirty stories that will comprise the book. You can read the full announcement here, on the CSFG site, but I'll take the liberty of cutting and pasting the TOC list here, just because I can, with hearty congratulations to all those below:

Kris Ashton:   ‘The Midway Hotel’
Daniel Baker:   ‘Stories in the Square’
Alan Baxter:   ‘Quantum Echoes’
Adam Browne:   ‘Animal the Colour of Waiting’
David Coleman:   ‘Gambler’s Blues’
Craig Cormick:   ‘Ned Kelly and the Zombies’
Elizabeth Fitzgerald:   ‘Phoenix Down’
Ross Hamilton:   ‘When Money Talks’
Richard Harland:   ‘Here’s Glory For You’
Edwina Harvey:   ‘Next, cried the Faun’
Rik Lagarto:   ‘The Wild Hunt’
Chris Large:   ‘Girl Finds Key’
Martin Livings:   ‘Cause and Effect’
Tracie McBride:   ‘Wooden Heart’
Chris McGrane:   ‘The Cat and his Zombies’
Ian McHugh:   ‘Vandiemensland’
Claire McKenna:   ‘The Ninety Two’
Shauna O’Meara:   ‘The Dream Tracker’
Robert Phillips:   ‘A Dream of Something More’
Gillian Polack:   ‘Someone’s Daughter’
Angela Rega:   ‘Almost Beautiful’
Nicky Rowlands:   ‘On the Wall’
Leife Shallcross:   ‘A Little Warning’
Daniel Simpson:   ‘Those Days’
Steve Simpson:   ‘The Electrician and the Circus’
Helen Stubbs:   ‘Casino Five’
David Versace:   ‘Imported Goods—Aisle Nine’
Janeen Webb:   ‘Hell is Where the Heart Is’
Catherine Whittle:   ‘The Room’
Suzanne Willis:   ‘Of Starfish Tides’

It is, I reckon, a beautifully varied and wonderfully exciting lineup. (And difficult to decide on: we received many more excellent stories than we were able to accommodate.) Now, there's just the small matter of editing ... and layout ... and actual publication, and all that kind of stuff, which needs to be dealt with over the next few months.
SF moomin

More reviewage, and a big-river release

The Cosmos Online review of Coeur de Lion's Anywhere But Earth anthology (edited by Keith Stevenson) gives the book a pretty favourable reception: "A comprehensive sci-fi anthology entertains and provokes thought.". Cosmos' reviewer, Rivqa Rafael, says of my own humble contribution that "Simon Petrie's Hatchway is a nail-biting thriller about gang hazing and revenge in the harsh environment of Titan, one of Saturn’s satellites."

And my novella double has scored some plaudits from Aurealis Xpress reviewer Lachlan Huddy: "Don’t you just adore the small press in the digital age? Where and how else would it be possible to publish this delightfully slim and superbly incongruous volume, composed as it is of two very different novellas by Aussie spec-fic stalwart Simon Petrie? The Hunt for Red Leicester ... is such a breezy read it’s impossible to hold anything against it. “Breezy” is the last word I’d use to describe Flight 404, the heavier, longer tale completing the collection, and that’s no pejorative. This tale of a transgender pilot assisting a search and rescue mission for a vessel that turns out to be carrying her estranged sister tilts heavily to hard science fiction and builds a masterful sense of dread along with its (to this upper-middle-class white boy, anyway) pitch-perfect treatment of a transgender woman. The science is gripping, the writing that of an author at the top of their game, the story full of rivets that drive in and don’t let go. It’s certainly Red Leicester’s opposite number, but it just might be even better."

Also, I've now been informed that the Peggy Bright Books books--or, at least, their Kindle-friendly mobi versions--are newly available on Amazon.com. The Whale's Tale, Rare Unsigned Copy, and Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear are on-site already, and Flight 404 and The Gordon Mamon Casebook should show up within the next few hours. (And a reminder that, as before, the ebooks--both epub and mobi--are still available from Cheryl Morgan's wonderful Wizard's Tower Books shopfront, and, of course, from the publisher).

Ten minutes later ...

... my fingers are aching and bruised, and it's still not open.

I hope, I really hope, that there is a special ultra-basement level of Hell, reserved solely for the inventor of the blister pack. A level of Hell without the traditional torments; a level of Hell, in fact, with all of the amenities and delights that might be expected of Paradise on display, but all of them shielded behind layers of hard, transparent, impenetrable plastic.

When I am King, I will perfect a tool for the straightforward and painless opening of blister packs; because it is obvious that such a tool is sorely needed. Kitchen kinves aren't up to the task, nor scissors. Box cutters will work, but one runs the risk of mutilating whatever lies behind that unyielding plastic casing. I will perfect a blister-pack-opening tool, and I will market the hell out of that blister-pack-opening tool. It will be readily affordable, and widely available. It will be the signature achievement of my reign, and my name will accordingly be legend. But I will make the tool only available in a blister pack, because that's the kind of King I will be. My subjects should not have it too easy.

But if there is any justice, my marvellous blister-pack-opening tool will be there on full display, yet forever out of reach behind hard, transparent, impenetrable plastic, on that ultimate level of Hell.
ASIM logo B&W

New from Andromeda Spaceways

It's been a while--maybe more than just one Standard While, by now--since I did an ASIMish post. But now there is news. Two news, to be precise.

(1) From now until 31st January 2013, we're offering electronic subscriptions at a reduced rate: $12AUD (down from $18AUD) for four issues (one year), or $30AUD (down from $35AUD) for eight issues (two years).* That's the e-ink / pixel-based equivalent of around 600 pages of groundbreaking, Galaxy-spanning fiction for just $12, in your choice of pdf, epub, or miobi formats. Take out a subscription for yourself, or buy one as a seasonal gift for a friend, significant other, or overlord-in-training. Just $12! Twelve dollars!! How can you possibly refuse? **

(2) Although ASIM 56 has been out for quite some time, there had been no reliable sightings of ASIM 55 since it disappeared traversing a wormhole on its maiden flight. That has now changed, and we are pleased to announce that ASIM 55 as arrived safely and is now available for boarding. Read all about it here!  As always, the latest issue is available in print, pdf, epub and mobi formats. And I can confirm that Jacob Edwards has done an excellent job in assembling this latest issue.

* Yes, we know the two-year rate is currently more than two one-year rates. But the two-year rate is still reduced from its standard setting, so you still save money with the two-year option. Honest.
** This is not merely a rhetorical question. Our Marketing / Pheromones division is desperate for this kind of information.