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It must be Awards Season.
At the recent Campbell Conference in Lawrence Kansas, TAU CETI (which consists of a novella by me and a sequel novelette by my Writers of the Future student and long-time friend, Steven Savile) received the inaugural “Lifeboat to the Stars Award,” given “for the best work of science fiction of any length published in 2011 or 2012 contributing to an understanding of the benefits, means, and difficulties of interstellar travel.” The award came with a nifty (and very heavy) trophy, as well as $1000 prize money—always a good bonus.
Tau Ceti’s competition included works by top authors in the field, including Larry Niven, Gregory Benford, Michael Bishop, Ben Bova, Jack McDevitt , Domingo Santos and Alastair Reynold.
Lifeboat Award Coordinating Judge, Robert J. Sawyer, described the book—
“Tau Ceti tells of a generation ship approaching that nearby sun-like star of the title, and it does so in an unusual manner, combing a novella by Kevin J. Anderson and a sequel novelette by Steven Savile into one fast-paced, character-rich, technologically accurate adventure story. In the capable hands of both authors, interstellar travel doesn’t just seem possible but inevitable, and they bring real depth to the issues of generation ships, the politics surrounding such voyages, and the danger A.E. van Vogt first alerted us to in the classic ‘Far Centaurus,’ namely that just because you head out first doesn’t mean you’ll arrive first. Tau Ceti is a terrific work of hard science fiction, and the Lifeboat Foundation congratulates the authors and their editor, Mike Resnick.”
The book is available in print and eBook formats from all major retailers. You may also be interested in the unabridged audio version from audible.com, narrated by me and Gigi Shane.
I flew in to the Campbell Conference, landing at the Kansas City (MO) airport, where I was picked up by CJ Harries, who would be my guide and able assistant throughout the conference. We drove to Lawrence, where I checked into my hotel and then went to give an opening keynote speech to the group of writer attendees, as well as SF legend James Gunn and visiting writer Andy Duncan, and my long-time writer friend Kij Johnson, after which I sat on a panel with Andy and James.
That night at the banquet, I hung out with other attendees, then waited for the awards ceremonies. The John W. Campbell Awards and the Theodore Sturgeon Award was given, as well as the Lifeboat to the Stars Award. My friend Robert J. Sawyer had been tapped to present me with the award, but could not attend because of the death of his brother, but James Gunn did the duties.
James E. Gunn, Kij Johnson, and Kevin J. Anderson
James E. Gunn presents the Lifeboat to the Stars Award
Receiving the Lifeboat to the Stars Award
Yes, it’s a cool Award
After the awards, I went with CJ, Bryan Thomas Schmidt,Writers of the Future winner Alisa Alering, and other friends to the local Lawrence microbrewery. The following morning, we all participated in an insightful and invigorating roundtable discussion about interstellar travel. After I did a book-signing and reading, CJ took me back to the airport for my flight home (where I had the added adventure of experiencing my plane struck by lightning on the way out—I’ve never seen that before, a blinding flash right outside the window…no damage, but exciting nevertheless.)
The following weekend, I drove to Aspen, Colorado because my novel CLOCKWORK ANGELS was nominated for the Colorado Book Award, a prestigious literary award. I had a lovely drive over Independence Pass, through spectacular scenery.
The ceremonies were held on Friday afternoon, a nice reception, and a hang-out and book signing with other Colorado authors. CLOCKWORK ANGELS was one of three finalists in its category—I didn’t win . . . BUT it was still a wonderful excuse to spend some time up in Aspen, one of the most scenic areas of Colorado. I had rented a great off-season ski condo in the adjacent town of Snowmass. I holed up to do some editing, and on the long hike the following day (to high-alpine Lost Man Lake) I finished dictating the last chapters in my comedy fantasy THE DRAGON BUSINESS.
So, here was my consolation prize:
I get a lot of people asking about how I write and hike at the same time. I’ve posted my main essay on the subject, “Talking to Myself,” here on the blog, but if you’d like to read it again, you can click here.
This morning, the newsletter from Olympus Recorders also ran an interview/article on my technique of using dictation tools to write fiction:
“The writing tool New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson can’t live without? The Olympus DS-3500 Professional Dictation System.
Anderson, who has written more than 120 books over the span of his career to date, appreciates the system’s push-button design, takes full advantage of its workflow efficiencies and credits his dictation style of writing with his productivity. The DS-3500’s Olympus Dictation Management Systems Software (ODMS) also allows Anderson to work seamlessly with transcriptionists, who often serve as his first line of editors – they can point out of something he’s written is unclear. And, of course, being a bestselling author, security is of the essence.”
You can read the rest of the article in the Olympus Newsletter.
Not bad to start the week with some good news. This morning I learned that the first Dan Shamble, Zombie PI novel, DEATH WARMED OVER, has been nominated for the Shamus Award, given by the Private Eye Writers of America in the category of Best Paperback PI Novel. I was excited enough to wake the dead…and have them solve crimes for me. This a real thrill to me because the Dan Shamble series is a real departure from my usual fare, and while I’ve won or been nominated for most of the major awards in the SF/Fantasy field, this is the first time I’ve gained attention in the mystery field.
The award will be presented this September at BoucherCon in Albany NY.
If you haven’t read DEATH WARMED OVER yet, remember you have only two more days to dig up your eBook copy in most eBook formats for only $1.99.
And for another taste of Dan Shamble, don’t miss the standalone short story ROAD KILL, either free or 99¢ in all eBook formats.
I can smell smoke. And it reminds me too much of this time last year.
In 2012, the Colorado Springs area was devastated by the Waldo Canyon Fire, which started in a canyon far south of here, but raced along the ridge top in high winds, causing major evacuations and incredible destruction. It was the worst fire in Colorado history. But all records are made to be broken.
A week ago, I had a free day to go out hiking, and I explored a beautiful area in canyons around Cheyenne Mountain to the south of Colorado Springs, a quick drive for me, but new trails. I am under a tight deadline to write a new humorous fantasy novel, THE DRAGON BUSINESS. I needed time on the trail to dictate chapter after chapter, and nice winding trails are best for that. The scenery was spectacular, much like the Black Hills of South Dakota, and I took quite a few photos. I also managed to finish four chapters—a great writing day. As I reached an overlook at the summit of Grayback Peak in mid-afternoon, I could really smell smoke in the air, and a haze hung over the views, getting thicker. This is fire season, and blazes happen frequently.
When I drove out of the dirt roads and wound back down from the mountain, I reached the interstate, I headed north (unfortunately timed to hit afternoon rush-hour traffic)—and the traffic was worse because of the gigantic cloud of smoke roiling north of Colorado Springs. Near where I lived. The area called Black Forest, rolling hills covered with a lot of trees, large houses on large lots was on fire.
I got home, and Rebecca was listening to the news. She had intended to spend the day editing; she’s under a crunch deadline, too, to finish the line-by-line polishing of THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS, with 830 pages to get through. But she made little progress with the news flashes of how swiftly the fire was spreading. Black Forest was immediately evacuated—so swiftly that people couldn’t even get home from work in time to grab a few possessions and their pets. They were blocked from access as their houses burned.
By the next morning, firefighters were coming in from all over the state; air operations took over with constant flights dumping water and retardant on the flames. Evacuation zones were expanded. And the weather proved particularly malicious—several days in a row with very high temperatures and very high winds. Our house was five or six miles from the core of the fire, which seemed like a long distance, except that 30 mph winds were blowing directly toward us. From our house, we could see the smoke rising.
The fire continued to spread, despite increasingly desperate firefighting measures. The morning briefing listed the acreage burned at 8000 acres the first day, then up to 15,000 by the next day. 90 homes were destroyed, burned to the ground. The following day, the number went over 300. Two people were found dead, burned in their garage, still frantically packing up their car as the fire swept over their house. The evacuation zones were expanded, with additional pre-evac zones designated—in which homeowners might have less than an hour to get out of their house. We were a mile away from the edge of the zone.
Rebecca and I started preparing. We decided we would move our three cats out the following day, where they would stay with Jonathan and Jessica, the two grandsons, and their cousin-kitties. That night, at 11:30 PM, we went to Wal-Mart to buy the very last cat carrier in the store. The parking lot was surreal, a makeshift campground as evacuees who had their own RVs parked their, waiting news about when they could go back home.
After delivering the cats (who didn’t like the smell of smoke in the air, but did not approve of the evacuation either), Rebecca and I spent the day gathering up papers and documents, taking down the valuable artwork from the walls, then packing up copies of the books we’ve written. Just ONE copy of each edition of my books filled an entire SUV. We had already made plans to stay with my friend and coauthor Doug Beason (ILL WIND, ASSEMBLERS OF INFINITY), who lives about twenty miles north.
The wind was a little calmer, the weather cooperating. The firefighters managed to hold the line, and on the following day we even had a little rain. Then more rain and cloud cover the day after. And we could finally breathe a sigh of relief. In his daily briefing the sheriff announced the fire was 5% contained, then 30% contained, 45%, 75%. There were other fires burning in the state, too—particularly one that damaged many of the facilities around the spectacular Royal Gorge Bridge, a popular tourist attraction.
We brought the relieved cats back home and spent a day de-vacuating, re-hanging the artwork, re-filing the files, and unpacking and organizing all the contributor copies of our books. Needless to say, neither Rebecca nor I got much writing or editing done for the entire week.
All told, the fire burned more than 15,000 acres, completely destroyed over 500 homes. 38,000 people were evacuated; two people died. The worst fire in Colorado history…but I’ve heard that before.