Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wild West Show Rides Again....

Annie Oakley bottle

On March 4, I published a blog post about my father's collection of Wild West whiskey decanters, many of which he designed himself.

Since my parents' house was for sale and, in fact, three days later, on March 7, I signed the paperwork that placed the house in escrow, I was desperate to find a home for these bottles. There were thirty-three of them -- too many for me to display at my house, too many for me to even store at my house. I was hoping to find a place, a museum of some sort, preferably, where the decanters would forever be safe, and still be able to be seen by the public.

Thanks to Cory Doctorow, my blog post was cross-posted on -- and between the two posts, the response from readers was overwhelming, with suggestions of possible resources both in and outside the state. I was elated. I contacted the Autry National Center (formerly the Autry Museum of Western Heritage) and the Santa Clarita Historical Society, among others, and I even visited Walker '47 -- a Western-themed gun store in Anaheim only three and a half miles from my parents' house, with quite the historical display throughout the shop, and chatted briefly with owner Andy Cauble.

Within a couple weeks I had actually found a home for the bottle collection, but I haven't been able to say anything until now: the official "Deed of Gift" forms have finally arrived.

My father's collection of Wild West whiskey bottles have been acquired by the Autry National Center (Twitter: @TheAutry); from their website:
The Autry is an intercultural history center dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West. Located in Griffith Park, the Autry’s collection of over 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts, which includes the collection of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, is one of the largest and most significant in the United States....

My initial email communications were with Jeffrey Richardson, Gamble Curator of Western History, Popular Culture, and Firearms at the Autry National Center. I provided him with a link to my March 4 blog post, and then provided whatever additional information I was able to in response to his many questions. After expressing an interest in the collection, Jeffrey introduced me, virtually speaking, that is, to Steven Walsh, Registrar & Project Manager at the Autry National Center. There were some telephone calls along the way as well. Steven arranged a meeting at the house on Thursday morning, March 22, to pack up all the bottles and transport them to the Autry.

Steven arrived on schedule, along with a couple dozen or more bankers boxes, a ton of styrofoam packing peanuts, plastic bags, bubble wrap -- and a car that I thought was far too small to hold everything -- but it did!

Even though the collection was now in the Autry's possession, it was still not a done deal. On Wednesday, April 4, the Accession Committee was to meet to review my donation of the ceramic decanter collection. The final decision was up to this committee. Later that day I received a telephone call from Jeffrey Richardson, informing me that the collection donation had been accepted by the Autry. But, it still wasn't official just yet: I had to wait to receive the "Deed of Gift" forms, which, as I have already said, are now in my hands. These forms consist of thirty-one pages (two pages contain two entries) describing each of the thirty-three decanters, with a place at the bottom of each page for my signature and date. The letter that accompanied the "Deed of Gift" forms states in part:
It is with great pleasure that the Autry National Center accepts your donation for the museum. The Accession Committee, whose members review each donation to ensure that it meets our acceptance criteria, were delighted with the donation and feel that it will make an important and lasting addition to the museum's collection.


Please accept our thanks for your gift to the Autry National Center. Your interest and support is greatly valued, and your generosity in making this donation is sincerely appreciated.

[signed] Steven Walsh, Acquisitions Registrar

I, in turn, wish to thank all the readers -- both here and at -- for their support, and especially their suggestions. I didn't know there were so many speciality museums! I particularly want to thank Pamela Kruse-Buckingham, who went the extra step with some additional suggestions on museum donations.

Jeffrey Richardson has informed me that the museum plans a special exhibit in 2013 that will focus on the Wild West in American pop culture, which will include my father's decanter collection.

Thanks again, everyone!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nancy Kress: After...Before...During the Fall

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the FallI'm delighted to announce here that I have editorial credit on the recent book by multi Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Nancy Kress: titled After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, the novella (38,300 words) is published by Tachyon Publications.

In addition to proof reading, line editing, copy editing, and other such editorial stuff, the manuscript also required a bit of fact checking, given the story's sense of place in the three ultimately intersecting timelines: future, past, and present: 2035, 2013, and 2014.

I submitted the final, edited manuscript to Tachyon Pubs on June 13, 2011. A couple months later, on August 24, I received the following email from Jill Roberts, Managing Editor at Tachyon:

Marty --

From Nancy [Kress], re the copyediting job you did for After the Fall:
"Whoever the copy-editor is, he or she is the best one I've ever had: thorough, sharp-eyed, and willing to be editor instead of a co-author. Please thank him/her for me."
Pretty sure I told her it was you, but I will again. And I totally agree with her. Well done.

Obviously, at the time Nancy Kress sent that email, she didn't know I had been assigned to her manuscript; but thankfully Jill rectified that fact. When one [me!] is conscientious about a project, makes every effort to do the best job possible, those two sentences from the author can be extremely gratifying. Such praise typically isn't expressed often enough -- I mean, I'm just doing my job, right? -- so when it is, it makes the long hours I spend on a manuscript well worth the effort.

Later, I had an opportunity to briefly chat with Jill and Nancy about the project when we met at Tachyon Publications' "Sweet 16" birthday party at Borderlands Books on September 11, which I wrote about in a previous blog post.

After the Fall... has gotten some great press, and I believe the best way to give readers a taste of this novella is to share some excerpts from those reviews.

The first review (and the longest review) is courtesy of Stefan Raets on

Superstar SF and fantasy author Nancy Kress returns with After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, an elegant novella that combines several wildly different science fiction ideas into a tight package. There's a little bit of everything here: time travel, hard science, environmental collapse, aliens, post-apocalyptic dystopia. It may sound hard to combine all of these in such a short format, but Nancy Kress makes it work.

The novella's slightly unwieldy title refers to the three plot lines described above: the survivors in their Shell in the future, the mathematician trying to solve the "crimes" happening in the present, and the environmental changes. What makes this much more than just another story told from three separate points of view is the time travel angle: as the novella progresses, the stories occasionally connect and weave through each other. After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall is really a series of interlocking flashforwards and flashbacks that continuously provide new information and different perspectives about each other to the reader.


The characters eventually lose [the misconceptions built into the story by the author] as everything inexorably works its way to a convergence, but until that happens there's constant tension between the three plot lines. It's this tension that ultimately makes After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall a great success. Expect to see this one on the final ballots of the major awards next year.

Monday, April 2, 2012

March Links & Things

This is my monthly wrap-up of March's Links & Things. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern; or Friending me on Facebook (FB). Note, however, that not all of my tweeted/FB links make it into these month-end posts. Once again there is a lot of content, so please return if you need to to take full advantage of all the links. Previous month-end posts are accessible via the "Links and Things" tag in the right column.

  • Unfortunately, words of warning to authors are an endless stream, and even more so in this digital age of publishing. This month's word of warning concerns Dorchester Publishing. Author Brian Keene details the current mess surrounding this publisher (with numerous links to other sources). In one place Dorchester states they are closing down; yet elsewhere they continue to buy new material and sell existing material, even when they no longer have the authors' permissions to do so -- while owing their authors advances and royalties. Bottom Line: DO NOT DO BUSINESS of any kind with Dorchester Publishing.
  • This was brought to my attention via Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) along with a warning for those who travel with digital comics on their cellphones, laptops, and tablets, particularly in Canada (though there are other countries far more repressive, certainly, than Canada). Everyone who travels with digital comics really needs to read this.... The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) reports "Criminal Charges Dropped in Canada Customs Manga Case." This case involved defendant Ryan Matheson, a 27-year-old comic book reader, amateur artist, and computer programmer, who ended up in this criminal and legal brouhaha because manga comic books were found on his computer. The total legal costs in this case exceeded $75,000 -- and contributions are being sought to help pay off Matheson's huge remaining debt: $45,000.
  • On March 13, Encyclopaedia Britannica announced that -- after 244 years; since 1768 -- they will discontinue the 32-volume print edition once the current inventory is gone. But, they add: "...the encyclopedia will live on--in bigger, more numerous, and more vibrant digital forms." (via @HuffPostBooks)
  • From The Guardian UK: Lloyd Shepherd, author of The English Monster, found a request to pirate his novel on the discussion board Mobilism; so, he decided to respond to the request himself, to open up a dialog with said individual. Frustration and anger followed with this individual's responses, so Lloyd opened a topic himself entitled "Novelist seeking understanding" on the main discussion board. (via @ebooknewser)
  • Brad Torgersen guests on Kevin J. Anderson's (@TheKJA) blog, with a blog post entitled "On Not Quitting." Brad writes: "One week ago, I got a call from the President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He told me that my novelette, 'Ray of Light,' was nominated for the SFWA Nebula Award.... Being nominated for a Nebula means my story not only connected with readers, it connected with a readership composed of my peers.... I can say from now on that my fiction is 'Nebula quality,' something I find more than a little astounding when I consider the fact that I didn't have a single word in professional print prior to 2010. How did it happen? Simple: I didn't quit."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

February Links & Things (This Post Not Quite Past Its Sell-by Date)

To say that my February wrap-up of Links & Things is a bit late would be a gross understatement. After spending two separate weeks in February in Southern California (see this previous blog post for some background), I was just too overwhelmed with catch-up in the first half of March -- and then preparing for my next (and hopefully last) trip to SoCal in the second half of the month -- to deal with February at that time; and now, here it is April 1! But there were some excellent resources in February and I didn't want to simply overlook that month entirely, so here they are, February's Links & Things: better late than never.

  • Consumers in greater numbers are finally questioning the source of their food (and what is in it), which has led more and more people to begin growing their own. So I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you that the long-out-of-print (1995) book Homestead Year: Back to the Land in Suburbia, by author (and my friend) Judith Moffett, is now back in print courtesy of the Authors Guild Back-in-Print program. [Note: I appear, though not by name, in Homestead Year, in a paragraph on "September 4" (page 258 in the original hardcover edition) in Judith's journal; she refers to me as a "[book] collector in California."]
  • What was undoubtedly the biggest news of the month (and yet I've seen no further details on this since): On February 6 Reuters reported that Amazon "plans to open a physical store in its home town of Seattle in coming months to showcase and sell its growing line of gadgets, including the Kindle Fire tablet..." (via's @galleycat)
  • A website entitled BookBub has recently come to my attention, and if you are an avid eBook reader, then you'll want to sign up at the site's home page. BookBub describes itself as "an alert service that keeps you updated on great book deals. We only notify you about deals that meet the following criteria: Free or Deeply Discounted, Top Quality Content, and Limited Time Offers." When you register for BookBub's newsletter, you can select the categories of books in which you have an interest. View the latest BookBub Deals.
  • Author N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) shares with her readers an essay she wrote for a forthcoming anthology entitled The Miseducation of the Writer -- essays by writers of color on genre literature -- edited by Maurice Broaddus, John Edward Lawson, and Chesya Burke, to be published by Guide Dog Books, the nonfiction imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. From the essay: "Not so long ago, at the dawn of the New World, black people were saved from ignorance in darkest Africa by being brought into the light of the West. This is bullshit." This is a must-read essay for all writers (and editors, too).
  • James L. Sutter's guest post on SF Signal (@sfsignal) deals with "Technology in Fantasy." Sutter writes: "Some people prefer technology that precisely matches that of a given real-world historical era. Others see nothing wrong with mixing and matching, combining swords, laser pistols, zeppelins, and dinosaur-pulled chariots. Some feel that technology itself should be the defining feature of the world (hence the ever-popular steampunk genre). Yet whatever path you choose when designing worlds for your fiction or RPG setting, there are a few important technological issues to consider." And he deals with each of these issues: 1) Anachronism; 2) Multiple Technology Levels; 3) The Question of Magic; and 4) Common Technologies, in which he covers these specifics: Airships; Sanitation; Medicine; Printing Press; Steam Power; and Firearms.