The Science of Airships, Redux


Once again, I will be giving a talk on The Science of Airships at Clockwork Alchemy this year, this time at 11AM on Monday. I had to suffer doing all the airship research for THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, so you should too! Seriously, I hope the panel is fun and informative and it was received well at previous presentations. From the online description:

Steampunk isn’t just brown, boots and buttons: our adventurers need glorious flying machines! This panel will unpack the science of lift, the innovations of Count Zeppelin, how airships went down in flames, and how we might still have cruise liners of the air if things had gone a bit differently. Anthony Francis is a science fiction author best known for his Dakota Frost urban fantasy series, beginning with the award winning FROST MOON. His forays into Steampunk include two stories and the forthcoming novel THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE.

Yes, yes, I know THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE is long in forthcoming, but at least it’s closer now. I’ll also be appearing on two panels, “Facts with Your Fiction” moderated by Sharon Cathcartat 5pm on Saturday and “Multi-cultural Influences in Steampunk” moderated by Madeline Holly at 5pm on Sunday. With that, BayCon and Fanime, looks to be a busy weekend.

-the Centaur

Everyone’s fooling people by taking their laptops to coffee shops, and here I am just editing anthologies

john scalzi in motion

So this is me, with my laptop, in a coffee shop, editing the science fiction anthology DOORWAYS TO EXTRA TIME, listening to an author reading by John Scalzi, author of YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE WHEN YOU TAKE YOUR LAPTOP TO A COFFEE SHOP.

I read Scalzi’s blog Whatever and was pleased to hear he was coming to my favorite bookstore / coffeeshop combination, Books Inc. in Mountain View and the attached Cafe Romanza. It’s right up the street from my work, so I dropped in to the coffee house, got a copy of REDSHIRTS for signing (never having read his fiction, it seemed a good place to start since the book he’s promoting is a sequel), got coffee, got permission from the staff to set my laptop up at a small table above the signing, and camped out.

I edited. Friends dropped by. We chatted. The room filled, and then Scalzi showed up…


…and he’s even more entertaining in person than he is on his blog. He read from his latest novel THE HUMAN DIVISION, a little side tale about aliens and churros (I’ve never had any, but they’re kind of like Spanish doughnuts, apparently), and from his blog the hilarious and insightful post “Who Gets to Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be.

When it got to Q&A, I didn’t ask any questions: everyone asked all my questions for me. It turns out Tor approached him about serializing his books, and THE HUMAN DIVISION came out of that conversation. I’m jealous; I and my publisher are still negotiating how to serialize THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, which I wrote with the design for it to be serialized.

After the talk, I waited for the line to die down before getting REDSHIRTS signed. Scalzi and I talked about the irony of me editing my anthology on my laptop in a coffeeshop while the author of YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYONE WHEN YOU TAKE YOUR LAPTOP TO A COFFEESHOP was reading, and he pointed out that there’s two types of people who take their laptops to coffeeshops: those who go to write, and those who go to be seen.

He asked about the anthology, and I told him about DOORWAYS TO EXTRA TIME: an anthology that asks the question what would you do if you really could get an extra hour in the day. Oddly enough, Scalzi had the same answer about what he’d do with that hour as one of my barista friends in the coffeeshop: both said they’d use the extra hour to catch up on sleep.

I think John Scalzi and that barista must be two of the smartest people in the world.

-the Centaur

P.S. What’s this, Google+? You can animate several pictures taken together, even when I didn’t tell you to in advance? Really? We’re not living on the moon, but we are living in the future. That’s awesome. UPDATE: Apparently it only works by default on Google+, as I don’t see it on my blog that way. Still, the downloaded image has all the frames, so I could fix it up in Photoshop real quickly if I wanted to. Still the future. UPDATE UPDATE: May be a Ecto upload issue. Will fix later. Regardless, future. UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: I managed to manually upload it, but it took a little squeezing in Photoshop to make the image manageable.

Finally …


Barnes and Noble is adding Google Play to the Nook.

I remember when I looked at my first Nook Color, how excited I was to learn from the in-store sales representative that this great tablet supported Android, and how betrayed I felt when I learned that I’d have to root the device to actually install Android apps on it. Barnes and Noble, you (collectively) lied to me, and I’ve never gotten over it.

The rooting procedure always looked a little heinke to me, and I never did it – so my beloved Nook Color, which had the best form factor of any tablet I’d used, eventually ended up languishing as I couldn’t use it for most of what I wanted it for. I ended up using my phone as my primary reader, and occasionally my Asus Transformer Prime, though it was a bit big.

Now Barnes and Noble is opening up the Nook to Android applications, legitimately. I could have told them that trying to lock down their devices wouldn’t work. Steve Jobs tried it, with the iPhone and the iPad, but you know what? I didn’t buy an iPad. I bought a Nook Color for the free OS, then got cruelly disappointed. Good job, salesman. Bad job, B&N.

Well, now they’ve changed course, a little. Should I find an excuse to spend my piling-up B&N gift cards upon a Nook HD? Perhaps. But I already have a Nexus 7, which fits right into the form factor that the Nook should have occupied. Why get yet another tablet … especially when Barnes and Noble is dialing back its investment in the Nook?

I hope Barnes and Noble survives. I hope we’re not seeing another death spiral, a la Borders.

But it feels like too little, too late.

Still … I have all those gift cards.

-the Centaur

Pictured: A Nexus 7. Barnes and Noble, this could have been your device … but years ago, you betrayed my trust.