Monday, February 25, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quick update ...

Edited copyright notice:

You may download, copy, and share this document, in its originally published format as either an .rtf or Adobe Acrobat file. You may print one copy of this document for your personal use, and you may loan or share that copy with others.

This document may not be altered in any way. It may not be transcoded into other formats. It may not be sold and printed copies of it may not be sold. It may not be employed for any commercial purpose by any party to whom the author has not contractually granted permission.

The author retains all rights not specifically granted above.

~~~~~

At this time there's no provision for printing your own copy of the documents and making a gift of the printed document -- I'm not against it in principle, but it creates some obvious difficulties. I did look at the various Creative Commons licenses, but there were none that said what I really wanted.

I downloaded all the docs over at immunity and corrected the copyright notice on them. I hoped to have them back up all together, but it's already 2 a.m. as I type this, and my alarm's going off in four hours. Here's the material that's in the "published" directory on my hard drive, however, when I get a chance to re-pdf everything -- this is all proofed and corrected, I think:

Short Fiction and Screenplays
All Possible Worlds
A Moment in Time
Given the Game
In Cool Blood
Leftbehind
Old Man
On Sequoia Time
The Gray Maelstrom

Novels
Devlin's Razor by Jodi Moran
Terminal Freedom by Daniel Keys Moran and Jodi Moran
The Armageddon Bues
Emerald Eyes
The Long Run
The Last Dancer
Lord November: The Man-Spacething War (fragment, discussed recently on the Continuing Time mailing list.)

~~~~~

I don't know if I mentioned this here -- I've been talking to Angel Greenwood about the Sunset Strip, and we're doing a six-week run together -- I'm way late on getting her the script, but I did finish up the first 2 weeks this last weekend. The next time I see her I'll get some artwork scanned and post it here -- her character sketches certainly looked good.

Some samples of her webwork here -- not Sunset Strip stuff, though we've talked about taking some of the characters she's working with here and using them in the strip, if we ever get past six weeks.

http://www.couriersix.com/C6_001.html

~~~~~

OK ... Shaq impressed me last night. If he can keep up that level of effort for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs, the Suns threaten to be pretty good....

A win's a win, regardless. Kobe's the best player in the league and he showed it. The guys around him are first rate, for a pleasant change from the last few years of Kwame and Smush and Chucky Atkins, and the team as a whole is playing as well as anyone in the league since the Gasol trade, maybe better ... and all of this done without Andrew Bynum or Trevor Ariza, the Lakers second-best man defender.

I know Kobe Bryant -- he's looking at the imported and blossoming home-grown talent around him, and thinking seventy wins .... maybe not next year, but the year after? Kobe will be 31, Gasol will be 29, Lamar 29, Jordan Farmar 24, and Andrew Bynum 22. That's a nice mix of talent, youth and veterans.

If the Lakers crack 70 wins, even Kobe might win an MVP. You'd have to figure it would be at least even money at that point.

~~~~~

I know, I know, the only thing people really care about -- Amy's still talking to Bantam about AI War. They actually made noises like they might want the book, after all these years. When I know something, you will.

The Gray Maelstrom

The Gray Maelstrom is the best publishing experience of my life by a fair bit; I had the idea one day, immediately sat down and typed it up, corrected two typos, and mailed it to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction. They bought it and it appeared in the February 1983 issue, when I was twenty, which makes it twenty-five years old this month.

This is broadly set within the Great Wheel of Existence, like most of my writing.

~~~~~

My name is Joel Gray. Or was. The Joel part, of course, is appropriately meaningless. That my surname is Gray I find meaninglessly appropriate, for it is so very, very gray.

There are two shapes here. A mathematician from the place where I was born would tell you that the only meaningful numbers are zero, one and infinity; but then, I have spent infinity, spent it twice over in this limbo of the gray, and I assure you that the number two is the only meaningful number.

The first shape is the line; long, twisting and sinuous, lines weave themselves about my disembodied viewpoint in a multitude that halves forever; they pulse, and resonate, one to another, on those rare occasions when two lines come into close enough proximity to affect each other. They writhe like snakes embracing, exchange information the nature of which I am only now beginning to grasp, and then flash apart to resume their solitary lineness.

The other shape is the sphere. They are perfect spheres, without grain or roughness, and all of a size, unlike the lines. With no reference points to judge against, the spheres may be very large or very small; impossible to say. When I first came here, I used them to measure the lines against.

They are colored in shades of gray, subtle variations of grayness, from dark grays that almost remind me of the color, or lack of it, that I seem to remember as “black,” to pale, chalky grays that almost seem to be the color – or lack of it – that I recall as “white.”

They move. The lines squirm through and above the spheres, and there is never the third element of empty space; all that I see is composed of the dancing spheres, the writhing lines, and the shifting shades of gray.

(The dance was, I thought when I first came to this place, without meaning, but now I see it otherwise; rather than simple Brownian motion, it harmonizes; the dance is of form and rhythm, with a complexity such that without eternity to contemplate it I should never have discovered it.)

Sometimes, when with all the effort that my disembodied self is capable of expending, I am yet unable to concentrate on the gray maelstrom, I remember the time before I came here. I was a geologist, a professor of geology in a place called Arizona. As this timelessness has stretched on I have found myself more and more unable to recall events from that place; it seems to have been a curious world, a place of color and sensation, and most strangely, a place of others who were like myself; they did not bear the name Joel Gray, but they were like me nonetheless.

I do remember the ending. Perhaps I shall never forget it. I was out in the field, collecting samples, and had set up camp as the night wore on. I intended to … sleep? … yes, sleep, and I had built a fire, for warmth.

It had come out of the sky, with fear strong in the thoughts of those contained inside. They were not like me; they were not named Joel Gray, but even more than those who were like me but did not bear my name, these differed.

They thought of their craft as an inverspace ship, and it was crippled by an impact with an antimatter micrometeor. They needed to land their ship and make repairs, but they could not do that without turning off the inverspace drive field. It was their great bad fortune that the micrometeor had destroyed the controls that would allow them to shatter the integrity of the inverspace drive field. They had a way out, though; their drive field, when taken deep into the gravity well of a sufficiently massive planet, would of its own accord attenuate and flicker out.
They knew a very good reason why they should not do this – it had something to do with their religion, or beliefs – but they were weak, and they wanted to live. They took the ship down, to the planet whose name was, I think, Earth.

Thou shalt not activate an inverspace drive within the atmosphere of a potentially inhabited planet.

I learned all of these things as the landing ship’s drive field washed over me, and then, in the instant before I learned from the mind of the drive engineer why an inverspace field must not be used in the atmosphere of a potentially inhabited planet, I was here.

That was two eternities ago.

Damn this grayness.

~~

The storm of line and sphere plays about me. I am certain, now, that there is a pattern to it all. And sometimes … when I concentrate very hard … it seems that I can make the dance shift, and do what I will it.

Of this much I am sure: I am growing. With each pulse of graying eternity, the complexities and intricacies of the dance become plainer, easier to encompass.

With this growth comes a feeling of power, raw, exultant power.

Perhaps some timeless time I shall have grown to such extent that I am able to shed the storm like a snake shedding its skin, and return to the place where I was a man named Joel Gray.
I know, with a certainty that passes description, that the power shall not desert me, if ever I leave the gray maelstrom.

And if this should come to pass, I think I shall ask the drive engineer of the people who are not like me just why an inverspace drive must not be activated within the atmosphere of a potentially inhabited planet.

I am more certain than ever that the dance bends to my will.

~~

There is a story I remember. It concerns a creature called a jinn.

This jinn was imprisoned within a bottle. He was a creature of great power.

After a thousand years in the bottle, he had decided to grant three wishes to whoever unstopped the bottle and let him out.

After two thousand years he had decided to serve forever whoever unstopped the bottle and let him out.

After three thousand years he had decided to spend the rest of eternity torturing the luckless creature who released him.

It amazes me now, how easily the dance shapes itself to my will.

~~

The alien starship sat squat and holed on the cold sands of the Arizona desert. Some forty yards from where the ship landed, a geologist was sleeping next to his fire.

Within just a few seconds, the flickering, dying inverspace field would withdraw from the shape of the sleeping man.

~~

The very last sight any of the aliens had was of a tall, gray demon, stalking patiently toward their ship, a bare few feet beyond the edge of the shrinking inverspace field.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I met Amy Stout the first time twenty-one years ago, pretty close. We celebrated our 21st anniversary of meeting each other on January 20th of this year. Might have been off by a day, maybe two, but probably not more than that, based on our mutual recollections.

I was taken with her from the first. She and I were both married to other people – me rather more happily than her, as I learned in some detail in later years, but neither of our marriages lasted. I had flown to New York on business and she had just bought my first novel, so we met for lunch. I was a vegetarian at the time and Amy took me to a Chinese restaurant – the thing that sticks out in both of our minds is that I tried to order coffee there, and they had none, so after lunch we ended up going to another location to try to chase down a good cup of coffee, and ended up talking together for a couple of hours.

I was in love with her within a year or two of meeting her. We found ourselves talking on the phone together, three thousand miles apart, for hours at a time. Usually they started off as business calls, but they didn’t stay that way. The conversations ranged across every conceivable subject at one time or another – we sent letters to each other, back in those long-ago days before email, that ran on for pages beyond what was necessary to get business done …

As I write this she’s lying in our bedroom, dead asleep. She’s still the beautiful girl I fell in love with, all those years ago. I sat on the stairs that lead down into our bedroom, and watched her sleep. I’ve aged – lost my hair, lost an eye, lost my jump shot. But she hasn’t: five children to the contrary, she still looks like the girl I knew all those years ago, when we were young adults and thought we were grownups. Time passes ….

I’ve used this one before – the first time I said it Amy said it was the best compliment anyone had ever paid her – but it was true when I met her and it’s true today. Wherever we’d been and no matter the company, over all these years she’s always been the most interesting person in the room.

~~~~~

My daughter Alexandra is nearly 18 – gets to escape from the grasp of the Los Angeles Family Court System, which is all to the good, in just a few short weeks. Once she turns 18 I’m adopting her and she’s changing her name to Alexandra Stout-Moran. It’ll be nice, sharing part of my name with her, but not nearly as nice as being legally her father after all these years.

She’s graduating third in her high school, and has been chased by every college in the country that matters. After years of theater, she’s picked up the theater-people habits and mannerisms – she’s loud, witty, opinionated, colorful – she has that thing some people have, actors in particular, that quality of demanding attention when she enters a room. Now and again I see odd flashes of my father in her – not very surprising; I use a lot of his phrasing, and she’s picked up a fair number of mine. She’s tough and direct, as he was, and when one of his phrases emerges from her mouth, it’s always jarring … and very nice. I don’t know if that’s immortality, exactly, but it’s not bad.

She’s going away to college in September, and even leaving behind a house with six people, I’m going to miss her dreadfully.

~~~~~

My daughter Andrea is nearing 16-1/2 … not shut of the court system yet, but nearly to the point where she can decide who she wants to associate with, so she’s nearly safe as well. After some years of struggling in school, in recent years she’s buckled down and hammered away at it, with predictably superb results. She’s incredibly focused, probably the most focused of my children; wants to be a psychiatrist, and barring something unexpected happening, should be, a decade or so down the road. (And she speaks Mandarin. Every now and again while I’m feeling smart I think about the fact that my sixteen year old daughter actually speaks Mandarin, and I’m thoroughly humbled.)

She’s the one who had the worst time of it when her little brother died three years ago, for reasons we needn’t go into at this point. But for all the difficulties she’s had to work her way through, she’s kept her head up and kept plugging away.

She took up cross-country in high school – which surprised me. Andy’s short. Her legs aren’t that long and she’s not really cross-country material, in any obvious way … except that she doesn’t quit. Every race, the pack would pull away from her … and then all the people whose conditioning wasn’t up to hers would falter, and Andy wouldn’t. The second half of every race consisted of Andy doggedly chasing down all the long-legged runners who lacked her fire and dedication, and I’ve rarely been prouder of anyone than I was of Andrea at the end of each of those races.

When the season ended this year, her team had an awards banquet. We weren’t expecting any individual awards for Andrea, though her team did well enough in competition we knew she’d take home a team trophy, and she did … but she also took home a special trophy from her teammates: “Most Inspirational.”

It works for me.

~~~~~

Happy Valentine’s Day to Amy, Alex, and Andrea. I love you all.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Shaq is Done

Nothing could make me happier, as a Lakers fan, than watching Andrew Bynum blossom; the Lakers had the best record in the Western Conference when he was healthy. Bynum's the one the Lakers are going to build around for the next decade plus, and if Bynum never ends up as one of the great centers in NBA history, there's little doubt he'll be a good one -- and the post and point guard are the two hardest spots to fill in the NBA.Barring injuries, the Lakers are set in the post for 15 years to come....

Nothing could make me happier than that, this season (short of a championship) ... but the Gasol trade came close. The Lakers with Bynum were a contending team. The Lakers with Kobe, Bynum, Gasol, Odom, and Derek Fisher, are the best starting five in the NBA. You can argue with me, but you'll be wrong. And the second team may be the best second team in the league -- Jordan Farmar, Vladimir Radmanovich, Sasha Vujicic, Trevor Ariza, Rony Turiaf, and Luke Walton -- Farmar, Ariza, and Turiaf are future starters in this league. Sasha and Rad might be. (Walton has been in the past and might also be again, though he shouldn't be -- he's not a starter on a good team.)

Gasol takes the Lakers from probably-not-a-championship-this-year to possibly-a-championship-this-year ... the only real question is whether the Lakers can mesh in the time remaining. In any event I don't have any big hesitation naming them the favorite for next year -- put a year of seasoning behind this group, and assuming everyone's healthy, which has lately been a crapshoot with the Lakes suspect medical staff, and I don't see a team in the NBA I like better. (And yeah, I'm prejudiced, but, and you non-Lakers fans must forgive me for saying this - Lakers fans have seen a lot of championship squads close up. The Lakers have appeared in nearly half of all NBA Finals, since the league's inception -- that's a lot of good teams to watch. And these guys should be in the mix ...)

And now, in a stretch when my happiness is already at a very high level ... the Phoenix Suns traded for Shaquille O'Neal, giving away in Shawn Marion possibly the best rebounding small forward in the history of the game to do it.

I dislike Shaq. I always disliked Shaq, even when he was bringing rings to the Lakers. He's charming and jokey and dishonest and never loved the game nearly as much as Kobe -- or Magic or Kareen or Worthy or Logo -- yeah, we've been spoiled. If Shaq'd had half the work ethic of a Bryant or Jordan or Magic, he'd have been the best player the game had ever seen. He was a big, Big, BIG man with the moves of a guard. In the post he was fluid, smooth, quicker than any behemoth of that size had any right to be. Sometimes he'd get goofy, put the ball on the ground and dribble it the length of the court, usually finishing with a monster stuff at the other end. No big man does that....

But he dogged it. He was lazy and sullen and insecure and masked it with the outgoing personality. For all the trillion words written about the "Kobe And Shaq Feud" ... Shaq started that feud. Shaq kept it going. In his career Shaq's feuded with Penny Hardaway, with Kobe, with Phil Jackson, and with Pat Riley. Hey, but at least Shaq didn't have problems with the third of the three All-Star shooting guards he's been fortunate enough to be paired with ....

Of couse there's this: "Probably this year more so than any year I have been more vocal with Shaq, talking to him and trying to motivate him. But the main thing is Shaq has got to be self-motivated. He has got to be willing and ready to do it. Even though he is not getting the ball as much as he wants, we need him to help lead this team in other ways, whether it's rebounding the ball or passing the ball the way he knows how to pass."

Who said that? Sounds like Kobe, circa 2004, no? It's not; it was Wade, about two months ago. Apparently Wade didn't think they were getting the effort Shaquille was capable of.

And now the Suns have him. And his 20 million a year, for the rest of this year and all of the two to follow, with Shaq vowing to play out those two years and take his 40 million.

So I'm making my prediction right now: the Suns will be worse because of this trade. They'll miss Marion, who was their best on the ball defender, and Shaq won't bring them a thing when it comes time for the playoffs. And man, I'm going to enjoy it. It's been a great stretch for the Lakers: Bynum, Gasol, and Shaq to the Suns. Couldn't have asked for more, when this season began, so unpromisingly, just a few short months ago.

~~~~~

I've really never seen anything like this, in all my years watching basketball: the best teams in the NBA is probably the Celtics, much as it pains me to say so, in the Eastern Conference. And the Pistons are pretty good -- and that's it, in the East.

The Eastern Conference has been deteriorating for a solid decade. One of the reasons the 72-10 Bulls went 72-10 was because they got to feast on rotten Eastern Conference teams. Since the Bulls broke up, the East has won only two championships, versus seven by the West. (And both the victories were considered upsets, and were.) The overall records in those finals were West 31 games, to East 17.

This year the disparity's even greater than it's been previously. There are 10 teams with winning records in the West; there are 5 in the East. (Obversely, since there are 15 teams in each conference, there are 5 teams with losing records in the West, and 10 in the East.) The Houston Rockets are 30-20 right now; ten games above .500. And if the playoffs started today, both they and the Portland Trailblazers would miss them, while Washington, Atlanta, and New Jersey, three teams with losing records, would all make it in, in the East.

There's not a single team in the West guaranteed of a playoff spot. The Suns, with the fewest losses ... 15 ... are only five losses ahead of the Houston Rockets, who have 20. One injury, one losing streak, and the Suns could easily miss the playoffs. (So could the Lakers or Spurs or whomever.)

The East has two good teams, and they're both old. We've been through a decade of rotten Easern Conference basketball -- and we may be in for another.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Vote ...

If you're in a Super Tuesday state, then, to borrow from Robert Heinlein -- there may be nothing you want to vote for, but there's sure to be something worth voting against.

I'm voting for Hillary Clinton, which, given my distaste for her husband, is something of a surprise to me -- but I'd be perfectly happy with Barack Obama, so no problems there, regardless of what happens. I have a post coming about how and why I ceased being able to vote Republican. I used to occasionally (though I always voted Democratic more often), but over the last decade I simply can't bring myself to cast a vote for Republican candidates. The last Republican I recall voting for was Dick Riordan for Mayor of Los Angeles -- who offered me a job once, so there's that, but I didn't vote for him in when he ran for his first term, so there's that too. But he did a very good job as mayor, and a decade or so back, whenever he ran for his second term, I was still willing to cross the aisle to vote for the right candidate. Seems like a long time ago.

But regardless of how you feel about my politics, if you're able to vote today, do. Encourage others to vote. There's not much these days that my conservative friends and I really agree upon ... but if you're left, right, center, or off on some axis all your own (and good for you if so) ... this is one of them. Participate. It pays off, at least in the long term.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Boston Goes Down

No chance at all that the Patriots could lose this one ... until they did.

That play by Manning, toward the end -- swarmed by the D, three different guys got a hand on his jersey, and he fought them off and and got that ball into the air -- man, what a great moment. Even if I hadn't been rooting for the Giants (and I wasn't, much, except that they were playing the Pats) ... even if I hadn't been rooting for them, that's the sort of play people remember on their death beds.

And earlier today the Lakers, sans Gasol, Ariza, Bynum, and Mihm, took it to the Wizards. They're now 2 & 1 on their longest road trip (9 games) in the modern NBA era, and what's left isn't as scary. They should beat the Nets (with Gasol in the lineup) -- should beat Atlanta, Orlando's going to be tough, should beat Miami (though the Heat will be amped for them), and should beat Charlotte and Minnesota. That's a likely 4-2, or 6-3 to finish the nine game roadie.

I wish we had our own football team in L.A., but barring that, watching the Patriots lose works for me.

The definition of Hubris:

19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England's Unbeatable Patriots (Paperback)

Only $10.17 at Amazon.com.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Gasol!

It's good to be a Lakers fan, and damn, I owe Mitch Cupcake an apology for all the times I thought bad (but true) things about his GM skills ...

Pau Gasol (18 points & 9 boards & 3 assists & 1.5 blocks) for Kwame (Yes They Wre Really Paying Him $9 Million A Year) Brown, Javaris Crittenton, and two first round picks which (if this trade is what it appears to be) will be near the bottom of the first round ...

Mitch, you stud. My man-love for you knows no bounds.

... ok, a few bounds. But you know what I mean.

~~~~~

Been a rough, busy few weeks. Some eye problems combined with too much travel. This weekend I'm at home with nothing scheduled -- last time that happened was before Christmas. I should be catching up with things, and I was going to wait until tomorrow to post, but this couldn't be allowed to pass ....

I'm ready for another parade. It's been six years since the last one and my two youngest don't remember it. It's wrong, them being denied their birthright as Lakers fans ...