Neil Armstrong, Rest in Peace

Taking a moment to mourn the passing of one of truly great figures of the Space Age:  Neil Armstrong.

Born in 1930 Neil served as a Navy Fighter pilot and served in the Korean War.  He became a test pilot before entering the astronaut program.

His first trip into Space was with Gemini 8.  This mission accomplished the first ever docking between two space vehicles–the Gemini capsule and the Agena target vehicle.  During that mission a malfunction caused the spacecraft to tumble out of control.  Neil was able to recover control sufficiently to successfully re-enter saving the capsule and the lives of Neil and his fellow astronaut David Scott.

Later, during preparations for the Apollo moon landings, a highly experimental training vehicle began to have control problems while Neil was flying it.  He ejected at the last possible instant (later analysis suggested that a mere half second further delay would have not given his parachute time to open) and his only injury was from biting his tongue.  Although nearly killed in the accident, Neil later credited the experience in that vehicle with making the moon landings possible.

Then, finally, in Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong and Buz Aldrin (with Michael Collins remaining in the command module above them) made the first ever landing on another body by human beings.  The landing itself was not without its own harrowing moments.  When their planned landing area appeared to be unsafe, Neil took over manual control, shifted their descent, and safely brought the Lunar Excursion Module (the LEM) to a landing with a mere thirty seconds of fuel remaining.

After his famous trip to the moon, Neil generally lived a quiet life but his legacy remains.  As a science fiction writer I find Neil and his legacy to be important to me personally.

It is still my hope that we might move beyond this one planet, out beyond the Earth and the Moon, and eventually to the Stars, and that our children’s, children’s children will look back on a truly great man who led the way.

Goodbye, Neil.  You will be missed.

Another Rogues in Hell review

The Dowser’s Delusions

I’ve always been a fan of the shared-world universe of Thieves World. It’s sword and sorcery at its best: character-oriented, with great plots and stories. Janet Morris has been editing, and writing stories for her “In Hell” shared-world Universe for quite some time now: Heroes in Hell and Lawyers in Hell. And now, continuing with the series, she brings us Rogues in Hell, which IMHO is the best of the lot. I love the whole concept behind the series, the cultures, inhabitants and levels of Hell. It’s quite a cool concept, and for writers this is a great place to let your imagination run wild. And I like the use of historical, legendary and mythic characters.

A review for Rogues in Hell

Rogues in Hell contains my latest story “The Place of Fear.”  It has just been reviewed at:

Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart

Rogues in Hell created by Janet Morris, edited by Janet and Chris Morris, with the diabolical assistance of their damnedest writers

Into the rich shared world milieu of Morris’s  In Hell series we are given glimpses into a number of adventures and cruel double-crosses.

One thing I particularly enjoyed was the varied and wild assortment in this rogues gallery, there were quite a few individuals I guess I never expected to see in Hell, among them Mary Shelley, Ben Franklin, Solomon, Wyatt Earp, Frank Hopkins, Bat Masterson, and T.E. Lawrence. Some others I have to admit to not being too surprised about as residents of the netherworld.


Periodic Product Shill

Books and other things by The Writer in Black that you can buy:

Rogues in Hell (Heroes in Hell 13)

Sword & Sorceress 26

Lawyers in Hell (Heroes in Hell 12)

Analog Science Fiction & Fact April ’91

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Winter 1991

Books by Janet and Chris Morris (Editors of the Heroes in Hell series):

Interview with the Devil (Heroes in Hell series)

The Fish, the Fighters, and the Song Girl

The Sacred Band

Wake of the Riddler

Mage Blood

Science Fiction Conventions and "con food."

One of the things I like about LibertyCon is that I can eat there.  You see, I was recently diagnosed with type II diabetes.  And while my blood sugar numbers aren’t really bad even without watching diet and medication (my doctor says a lot of doctors wouldn’t even treat at my level, but he likes to be aggressive on treatment for a better chance of reversing things) I have to really watch carbs to keep the numbers fully within the “normal” range.  And by “really watch” I mean something like eighty to one hundred grams a day usually.

One of the issues that comes from that is that eating out tends to be expensive for me.  A lot of “cheap” foods are very high in carbs and even things that look like they should be “OK” turn out to be surprisingly high in carbs. (Beef is low carb, of course, and broccoli is excellent as a non-starchy vegetable, but the sauce in that beef with broccoli at the local Chinese buffet?  It took three days for my blood sugar to come back down!)  I can eat “fast food” but that usually means ordering two sandwiches, tossing the buns, and eating the centers (two to compensate for not eating the buns and no fries, of course).

This is an issue with my attendance at Science Fiction conventions since, first off, the con is already an expense.  Even if I get a comped membership as a program participant, there’s the hotel, travel to the con, hotel, and memberships for my wife and daughter if they are accompanying me (which I try to arrange whenever possible).  Being able to save money on food by eating, or even snacking from what the con provides is helpful.

The first Con I went to after being diagnosed was Inconjunction here in Indy.  There was literally nothing I could eat in the con suite.  Now, their contract with the hotel was that they couldn’t serve “real food” in the con suite, snacks only, but surely a cold cut platter, or even some non starchy vegetables could have been provided under that contract.  Fortunately, Incon was local so I could do most of my eating at home.

Then came LibertyCon with both a much better con suite and BFC (and considerable overlap between the two this time around).  It was nice to be able to feed myself without giving my blood sugar meter fits.  It will be interesting to see how things are in the rest of my “con schedule.”

Now, obviously it’s not the various science fiction conventions responsibility to see to my specific dietary needs but I’m hardly the only person who has problems with high carbohydrates.  I admit, to my shame, that it’s not really something I thought about before being diagnosed myself.  About one person in twelve in the US is diabetic and more than three times that are “prediabetic”

Would a vegetable platter or some cold cuts, maybe some cheese, in the con suite alongside the chips and cheese balls be too much to ask?  Even if they don’t serve “real food” and perhaps especially if they do?