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  • Jack McDevitt

Blog Post #43

One of the advantages writers experience, one that people generally don’t hear about, is that publishers and other writers send them a lot of free books. I have more volumes than I could ever hope to read in a lifetime even if I did nothing else. The books are, with a few exceptions, centered in the field in which I work. In addition I buy a fair number of science books so I can keep up with what’s happening.

Three volumes arrived during the past few weeks. Howard Hendrix sent a story collection , The Girls with Kaleidoscope Eyes, which contains ten stories of widely different length. Howard provides living characters with plotlines that draw the reader easily into the narrative. He takes us to the 1939 World’s Fair, accidentally shuts down the universe, and generally creates havoc.

Howard has written six novels, including Better Angels and Spears of God, and approximately fifty short stories. His work appears regularly in Analog.

I also received a copy of Martin L. Shoemaker’s The Last Dance, a dazzling account of our early efforts to get to Mars. Much of it reads like a compelling murder mystery. And I hope I’m not giving anything away by revealing that Martin has figured out that fiction usually works best when it doesn’t rely on a villain to create the conflict.

One of the chapters appeared originally as the novella “Murder on the Aldrin Express” in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection and The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 4. He’s also received the Washington Science Fiction Small Press Award for his Clarkesworld story “Today I Am Paul.”

Martin has promised to write a story for me, “The Adventure of the Martian Tomb.” I’m looking forward to it.

Also arriving about two weeks ago was a Michael Bishop collection, The City and the Cygnets. The stories are connected, with continuing characters and an overall narrative that takes place in an alternative Atlanta. The United States has pretty much fallen apart, and the major cities are now independent, and enclosed within domes. The characters introduce visiting aliens to the church, live within a bureaucratic system that leaves the reader thankful for democracy, and experiment with marriages that include several partners.

Mike has won two Nebulas and numerous other awards. He is a member of the Georgia Writers’ Hall of Fame.

I’ll probably receive three or four more books during November. Love this job.

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