3-D vs. 4-D Wars



Today I sold a SF story to Galaxy’s Edge, “Pretty Pictures at War.” The story is about a billionaire who declares war on the 4-D world that humiliated him. The story will be in the March 2016 issue. It’s my 73rd short story sale.

This is the third SF story I’ve sold that involves a battle between 3-D and 4-D worlds. It’s a strange type of battle that’s rather hard to imagine. To a 4-D being, a 3-D world is like an animated picture on the wall, rather like a 2-D picture in a 3-D world. How do they battle with 4-D beings? You’ll have to read the stories!

The first of the three, “First Cat,” was one of my first sales, way back in 2006 to the Twisted Cat Tales Anthology (and since resold to two other anthologies). It was a humorous farce about 4-D beings invading Earth through a portal they create in the Oval Office in the White House, and how the president’s cat, after getting its brain partially sucked into the fourth dimension and thereby dramatically increasing its intelligence due to the increase in brain cells, saves the day. (They increase in number the same way a 3×3 matrix in a 2-D world has 9 squares, but in a 3-D world it becomes 3x3x3=27 cubes.)

The second was “The Awakening,” which won the 2010 Garden State Horror Writing Competition, and was then published in 2011 in Space and Time Magazine. (It was a cover story.) This was the story of an artist from a 4-D world who, playing around with Earth, pulled part of a fly’s brain into the fourth dimension, thereby dramatically increasing its intelligence just as with “First Cat.” The rest of the story is about the fly going to war first with the human who tried to swat it, and then with the 4-D artist and his world.

The first of the three was humorous SF; the second horror SF; and the third straight SF with a humorous edge. What’s next, a doomed romance story between 3-D and 4-D beings?

Moving everything down one dimension, my first novel, “Sorcerers in Space,” featured Jim, the world’s only two-dimensional sorcerer, described as a glowing white sheet of paper that twisted in the air like a luminescent jellyfish, with a single giant almond-shaped blue eye centered on it. (His primary magical power was that whenever good things happened, people credited him, though he rarely had anything to do with it.) If I ever get to writing a sequel to that, central to that will be Jim’s 2-D world going to war with us!

I don’t know of any other stories or novels that feature battles between 3-D and 4-D beings. (We’re talking actual 4-D beings, not 3-D beings that can travel in other dimensions.) In the Futurama episode “Mobius Dick” they battle a 4-D space whale. Anyone know other examples, or perhaps an example of battles between 2-D and 3-D beings? Comment below!

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“Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions” – Coming January 2016



BIG NEWS!!! – In October, 2015, I sold my SF novel “Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions” to World Weaver Press! It comes out late in January, 2016 – exact date is not yet set. The novel (123,000 words) is a drama/satire that covers the election for president of Earth in the year 2100, where the entire world has adopted the American two-party electoral system, with an alien ambassador showing up at the start as an observer. More on this as it comes up!

Here’s the World Weaver Press Announcement.

On Oct. 9-13, I attended a writing retreat at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where I began the sequel, “Campaign 2110: Scorpions in Space.” I’m now 17,000 words into that.

On a side note, I plan to start blogging here more regularly, probably as a weekly thing, perhaps every Monday starting in January.

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“Sorcerers in Space” Now Out!



My first novel, “Sorcerers in Space,” is out! It actually came out on Friday, Nov. 15, but it took a few days to show up everywhere. The book is on sale at Amazon.comHere’s the blurb from the back cover:

It is 1969, at the height of tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Neil, 13, badly wants to be someone. Instead he’s stuck as a sorcerer’s apprentice for Gus, the “meanest sorcerer in the world.” Gus creates a magical talisman to spy on the Soviets, but instead it spies on them and sends text into space. A Giant Face in the Sky shows up, reading the text.

Since whoever gets to the Face first can lob down spells and have the world at their mercy, the Race to the Face begins. The Soviets invade the U.S. in their attempts to kill Neil, who is prophesied to defeat them. A floating, talking meteor assassin named Buzz becomes Neil’s companion–but in one week, Buzz must kill Neil.

President Kennedy puts together a motley crew that includes Neil, Gus, Buzz, a dragon, the god Apollo, a 2-D sorcerer, and the sorceress Jackie Kennedy. Can they make it to the Face before the Soviets? And before Buzz kills Neil?


“Head or Heat”



I just sold my short story “Head or Heat” to Ares Magazine. They are a “Pro” magazine, and pay professional rates. The story is a dark satire on Halloween with a twist ending. It’s my 68th short story sale.

“Head or Heat, Head or Heat, give us something good to eat!” chant the master race Sizan children on their version of Halloween. But what they want are the heads of the slave race Slabinnac children, or they’ll burn your house down. What’s a slave mother to do?


Capclave 2013



I spent Friday night, and about half of Saturday and Sunday at the Capclave Science Fiction Convention in Gaithersburg, MD, held ten minutes from my house. I was on three panels, including two that I moderated, plus I did a reading.

I moderated the infamous “Religion and Politics” panel, which can get rather heated, but we managed to keep it mostly low-key this time around – much of the discussion wasn’t about actual religion or politics, but about famous religious or political novels and movies that influenced the world. This was a good fit for me, as many of my short stories and both of my novels (one coming Nov. 15, the other in a state of flux as I do a rewrite for a possible publisher) are political. I sat next to the famous James Morrow during the panel. It’s the second time I’ve been on a panel at a convention with him.

I also moderated the panel on “Amazon – Good or Bad?” I had to great moments in this panel. At the start, after we introduced the panelists, I said, “I have some disturbing news. Some of us who really hate Amazon have gotten together and formed the Orange Crush Party.” (I held up a can of Orange Crush that I’d just picked up from the con suite.) “We demand that Amazon be closed down immediately. Otherwise, we will defund and close down Capclave. There will be no more panels, the exhibits and dealer’s room will be closed, and all parties are cancelled.” At first many in the audience thought I was serious, but they figured it out and laughed at the end. I also did a stunt where, right there on stage, I bought a book from one of my four fellow panelists on my Kindle (“Baby Boy Blue” from Kathryn Morrow, wife of James Morrow). I also explained my experiences with Amazon in selling my table tennis books. One surprise – I thought most of the people would think Amazon was bad, as they continued to use it, but the general consensus – with a few notable exceptions – was that Amazon was good.

I was also on the “1001 Uses for an Unsold Story” panel where we talked about the possibilities – rewriting it, reusing the central ideas of the story in another story, using it in a novel, or just saving it for the appropriate anthology that might someday come along. Or printing it out to line your parakeet cage.

I did a 25-minute reading on Sunday, where I read an excerpt from my upcoming novel, “The Giant Face in the Sky.” I also had time to read my “cult classic” story, “The Bat Nerd,” about a bat that thinks it’s a superhero.

And I got to meet and shake hands with George R.R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones novels, now an award-winning HBO series. Plus I attended a number of panels, readings by Lawrence Schoen and Scott Andrews, and spent much time in the dealer’s room, where I ended up buying only two books somehow – “The Mammoth Book of Time Travel,” edited by Mike Ashley, and “Chess with a Dragon,” by David Gerrold. I also bought two anthologies from Lawrence Schoen at his author’s table, “Buffalito Buffet” and “Sweet Potato Pie and Other Surrealities.”


Capclave 2013 Schedule



Off to Capclave Science Fiction Convention

This weekend I’ll be at the Capclave SF Convention, held about ten minutes from my house in Gaithersburg, MD. I’m on three panels, two of which I’m moderating. I’m also doing a reading. Below is my schedule. Here’s my Capclave Bio. If you are in the area, come join us!

Friday 4:00-4:55 pm, Salons CDE
God Emperor of Capclave – The Politics and Religion Panel
Panelists: Brenda W. Clough, John G. Hemry, Larry Hodges (M), James Morrow, Brian Shaw
Verboten at the dinner table, but not here. How do authors’ political perspectives and religion influence their writing? And what happens when an author’s politics/religion starts influencing the real world (cue Ayn Rand)

Friday 9:00-9:55 pm, Rockville/Potomac Room
Amazon, Hero or Villain?
Panelists: Marilyn “Mattie” Brahen, Larry Hodges (M), John Edward Lawson, Kathryn Morrow
Debate: Amazon is good for its low prices, Kindle, and ease of shopping. Amazon is evil for killing off bookstores, taking more and more profit/control from writers/publishers, and for being so big

Saturday 12:00-12:55 pm, Rockville/Potomac Room
1001 Uses for an Unpublished Story
Panelists: Laura Anne Gilman, Larry Hodges, Victoria Janssen (M), Craig Alan Loewen, Alan Smale
Sometimes they sell,sometimes they don’t, what do you do with your unsold stories? Do you ever write anything you know can’t be sold? Do you mine the novel in your trunk?

Sunday 3:00-3:25 pm, Frederick Room 
 I’ll be reading an excerpt from my upcoming novel, “The Giant Face in the Sky,” a humorous fantasy that parodies the U.S.-Soviet Space race of the 1960s, but with sorcerers instead of astronauts. If there’s time, I’ll also read my “cult classic” short-short story, “Manbat,” about a bat that thinks it’s a superhero.