Not a Blog

Another Nameday

September 24, 2020 at 8:43 am
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I had a pretty nice birthday.   And thanks to all my fans and friends who sent me greetings by email, text, or (in one case) card.

Parris came up to the mountains to visit me in my fortress of solitude, the first time she has checked out the cabin, and I was thrilled and delighted to be able to spend some time with her.   She brought me a wondrous present, a  wolf from the same Santa Fe artist who made my ravens.   I will need to take a picture and post it here.  He’s marvelous.   My thanks to Dahlia, her right hand and assistant, for helping her make the trip.

My assistant Sid, who is an incredible baker (she owned her own coffee and pastry shop when she was only eighteen, before coming to work for me) baked us a birthday cake from scratch, a gorgeous… and delicious… red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.

I got several other nice gifts as well, among them some amazing old vinyl albums, including old Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers radio dramas, and an album of JFK’s speeches.   Which is uplifting and depressing at the same time, when one contemplates how far we have fallen.   My thanks to my friend Ti Mikkel for the thoughtful present.

Come evening, we watched the Emmy Awards.   A very strange Emmy night.   Jimmy Kimmel did a nice job hosting, playing to an empty auditorium, and I got a hoot out of the big robo-boxes that John Oliver and a few others received, with a big hand that burst out clutching an Emmy when the winner was announced.   Congratulations to all of this year’s winners…. and to the losers.    I have lost quite a few myself, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the bridesmaids… whether Emmy losers or Hugo losers.   It IS an honor just to be nominated.

In addition to the pandemic-inspired weirdness, it also felt odd for me personally.   For ten of the past eleven years, I have attended the Emmy Awards in LA… including last year, when GAME OF THRONES won its fourth for Best Drama.   But I have to say, it was much more relaxing to be watching from home.   The big Hollywood awards ceremonies are exciting, beyond a doubt, but they are also very stressful… and exhausting, especially for an old codger like me.

And there is no doubt, I am an old codger.   As of the 20th, I turned 72.   Damn.   When did THAT happen?   The years have gone by so quickly, it seems.  Inside I certainly do not feel 72.  Hell, scratch me and that kid who wrote those letters to Stan & Jack and stories for dittoed comics fanzines is right below the surface.   Truth be told, birthdays tend to depress me these days.   And this year… ancient as I may be, there is no doubt that 2020 is the worst year I have ever lived through (I never thought any year could be as bad as 1968, till now)… I think the occasion might really have gotten to me, if not for that fact I was surrounded by friends and loved ones.   Thanks to them, I did have a happy birthday.

Current Mood: happy happy

Words For Our Times

September 21, 2020 at 9:12 am
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Current Mood: determined determined

More Death

September 12, 2020 at 2:07 pm
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I am late to post about this, but I was very saddened by the news of a couple recent deaths.

The world of television and film lost a titan with the passing of Dame Diana Rigg.   Such an amazing talent.   It was such an honor to have her on GAME OF THRONES as the Queen of Thorns.  I only had the chance to meet her once, when I visited the set the first year she was on the show.   As brief as that meeting was, I count that a rare privilege.  A lovely lady.   As great as she was as Olenna Tyrell, for me… and for most every other member of my generation… she will always remain Emma Peel.


I was also moved by the death of Tom Seaver — Tom Terrific, the Franchise, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Amazin’ Mets who led them to their World Series Championship in 1969.   I never met Seaver at all, but of course I was a fan.   I do not follow Major League Baseball as much as I did when I was younger, but as a kid in Jersey I was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and had my heart ripped out when Da Bums moved to LA.   So of course I became a Mets fan when they began play in 1962 as an expansion team.   I suffered through all the years of losing — as lovable as they were, they were still losers — and the turnaround led by Seaver and Koosman and the rest of the Amazin’s in ’69 was nothing short of miraculous.

It is odd, when you think of it, how caught up a sports fan can get in the fortunes of their team… but the emotions are real.   That World Series victory made me so very very happy, that even now half a century later I still smile when I recall it.

And in these dark days, we need every smile.

Goodbye, Tom.  Goodbye, Diana.  Rest in peace.

Current Mood: sad sad

Life After Death

August 26, 2020 at 9:01 am
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Even the greatest of minds may disagree about what to do with those who came before us, fallible fellows all.

The Bard of Avon put the truth in the mouth of Mark Antony.   That was the way the world worked in the late Roman Republic when JULIUS CAESAR was set, that was the way the world worked in Elizabethan England when the play was written, and that, alas, is the way the world seems to work now, despite the passage of centuries.  Shakespeare was a pretty smart fellow.   He told it like it is.

Gandhi was an idealist.   The world he imagined, dreamed of, and worked to create was a better world than Shakespeare’s; a gentler, kinder, more loving world, a peaceful and non-violent world.   We are not there yet.   We are a long way off, I fear, centuries off.   But Gandhi moved us toward it.   Before a better world can be created, it must first be dreamed.

Dwelling where I am now, deep in the heart of Westeros, I find myself surrounded by my characters, the children of my mind and heart and soul.   They are real to me, as I write them, and I struggle to make them real to my readers as well.   All of them are flawed, from the best to the worst.  They do heroic things, they do selfish things.   Some are strong and some are weak, some smart and some stupid.  The smartest may do stupid things.  The bravest may have moments when their courage fails.   Great harms may be done from the noblest motives, great good from motives vile and venal.   Life is like that, and art should reflect that, if it is to remain true.   Ours is a world of contradiction and unintended consequences.

Boromir is my favorite member of the Fellowship.   The tragic hero.   Shakespeare’s Brutus speaks to me as well (more so than the real one); the noblest Roman of them all, whose nobility — and gullibility — lead him to commit a vile crime.   Captain Ahab, Wolf Larsen, Gatsby, Falstaff and Hotspur and Prince Hal (those plays are full of flawed characters, each with his own failings), Ebeneezer Scrooge and Sydney Carton, Gully Foyle, Roger’s Sam, Dr. Doom and Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Moreau, Morbius of Altair IV, Huckleberry Finn, Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain (but not Sir Galahad, so perfect, so empty) and Guinevere and Arthur and even Mordred, that little shit.. oh, the list is long.   And when my reading turns to history, biography, memoirs, my response is much the same.

I am not blind to the flaws of those who went before us, and I recognize the truth of Mark Antony’s words.   But Gandhi’s words are nobler, and those are the words I choose to live by… to treasure the memory of the good they did.

Our world needs more empathy, less anger.




Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

Keep Your Masks On

August 8, 2020 at 9:34 am
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The pandemic is not over.   We are deep in the midst of the predicted second wave.   And who knows how many more surges will follow this one?   Too many, unless more of us do a better job of staying in quarantine and wearing our masks.

New Mexico has done a much better job with Covid-19 than most of the surrounding states, thanks in large part to our amazing governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.  But numbers are rising here too.

I don’t know how long this will last.   We just had our first virtual worldcon, and I cannot even say for sure that DC next summer will not turn out to be our second.   All I know for sure is that I am headed back into my own quarantine… and whenever I go out, I will be wearing a mask.

Please do the same, all of you.


Current Mood: anxious anxious

Rest in Peace, Susan

August 4, 2020 at 1:11 pm
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These are sad sad times, and it seems as if every day they get a little sadder.

I was shocked and horrified to hear of the sudden death of Susan Ellison out in Sherman Oaks.   She died in the house she had shared with Harlan for so many years, sometimes known as Ellison Wonderland or the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars.  At this writing, no one seems quite certain of the cause of death.

No one saw this coming, not even her closest friends… and certainly not me.   Susan was only 60.   Which I suppose is old in the eyes of some of those reading this, but still seems young to me.   I would have guessed that she was even younger, but perhaps that is only because she was so much younger than Harlan.   The last time I saw her was back when I flew out to LA for the premiere of the TOLKIEN movie, at which she was one of my invited guests.   But I was on stage for that one and she was in the audience, and after the panel was done they hustled me right out of there, so we only had time for a brief hello and a hug.  I wish it had been longer.   The last time I saw Susan for any significant length of time was at Harlan’s memorial at the Writers Guild Theatre.  That was a heartbreaking occasion… made less heartbreaking by Susan’s own courage and strength, and her insistence that we make the evening a celebration of Harlan’s life and work, not a dirge for his passing.

No one who was there that day — and there were a lot of us,  for Harlan was greatly loved — could ever have dreamt that Susan herself would follow Harlan so soon.

There will be obituaries and tributes all over the internet, I am sure, so I am not going to try to write a summary of Susan’s life here.   Others knew her much much better than I did and are better equipped for that task.   All I can say, from my own perspective, is that she was a sweet, gentle woman, unfailingly kind to everyone… and especially to Harlan.   As fierce and combative as HE seemed at times, he needed kindness too.  All of us do.   And Susan seemed to make him happy.   She was his fifth wife, and their marriage lasted longer than all of his first four marriages put together.   She was feisty and funny, too.   I remember a few times, when dining at their place, that Harlan would be going on about something, getting angrier and more worked up, and Susan would put in a quiet word, and suddenly Harlan would be laughing.

She was a profoundly decent person, and our field, our country, and our world are all the poorer for her passing.

Current Mood: sad sad

Words For Our Times

July 11, 2020 at 10:02 am
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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Beastly Books Reopens

June 10, 2020 at 8:34 am
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New Mexico has begun to reopen — cautiously, step by step — from its lockdown, and that includes at least one of my own enterprises.

Beastly Books, my bookshop on Montezuma Street, opened its doors again on June 2, for coffee, hot chocolate, and — of course — signed books.   We are not doing any author events at present, except the virtual kind, and we are taking every precaution, with masks, sanitizers, limits on the numbers of people allowed in the shop at one time, and so forth.   We shall see how it goes.   All of us hope the worst is over.

Of course, our mail order department remains open as well, as it has throughout the pandemic.   Check out our offerings at     ALL our books are autographed, and we have some great titles on offer.

The Jean Cocteau Cinema, next door to Beastly Books, remains closed for the moment, but is showing new films every week via streaming video.  You can sign up for that via the JCC newsletter.   I am not sure when the theatre will reopen.  That depends in large part of the progress of the fight against coronavirus… but we are also looking at doing some major renovations to the old gal, down the line.


Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Words For Our Times

June 9, 2020 at 11:35 am
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Current Mood: angry angry

This, That, and T’Other Thing

April 14, 2020 at 3:41 pm
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No big news here, but it has been a week or so since my last blog post, so I thought I would say hi.   I am still up in the mountains, doing the social distancing rag, and writing WINDS OF WINTER.   I have good days and bad days, but I am making progress.

Most of the world remains closed, including my theatre and bookshop, the Jean Cocteau Cinema and Beastly Books.   I had originally announced that we would re-examine the situation come April 15.   That date is now upon us, and it is obvious that I was wildly optimistic in hoping we might even consider re-opening then.  No.  Won’t work.   We’re going to remain shut until JUNE 1.  Then, once again, we will revisit the question, once we see what state the world is in.

I am continuing to pay my staff during this closure, something I wish more small businesses would do.   Beastly Books is still selling signed books by mailorder.  Every order helps keep us afloat, so please take a look at our offerings:

Along the same lines, though we cannot of course open our theatre to the public while coronavirus still rages, the JCC has gone virtual, and is screening new and old movies that way.  For details on our Virtual Feature of the Week, go to

Hollywood has largely closed down as well, at least as far as actual production is concerned.  (If this pandemic goes on long enough, I wonder if the pipeline will go dry, and we will start to run out of new films and television shows.  If so, sheltering in place is going to get an order of magnitude harder.  Television right now is doing a lot to keep us all sane — and no, not the news, which has the opposite effect).   But while nothing is being filmed right now, development is continuing apace, since writers can still write at home.  The only thing I am writing myself is THE WINDS OF WINTER, as I have said many times… but with my producer’s hat on, I am still involved in a number of exciting new shows for HBO, and a few film projects as well.  When and if any of these make it to the screen, well, that’s always the question… but I do know that Ryan Condal and his team are roaring ahead on the scripts for HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, and that one has a full season’s order from HBO.  As for the other stuff I may or may not be involved in, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you all.

Oh, of course, I am doing a lot of reading these days.  Rereading too.  Some of my favorite writers are Robert A. Heinlein, Roger Zelazny, Tony Hillerman, Nnedi Okorafor, Howard Waldrop.  Oh, and that GRRM guy did some good stuff too, before he started that fantasy series.   Some of his old stories might even make good movies, donchaknow.  (No, seriously, you guys should check out DREAMSONGS.  Signed copies available from Beastly Books).

I have also been trading emails with my friends down in New Zealand.   CoNZealand, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, has also gone virtual in response to the crisis.   A prudent move, but a challenging one.   As this year’s Virtual Toastmaster, I am still going to be hosting the Hugo Awards… virtually.  That should be… interesting.  Especially for me, since I am one of the least tech savvy guys in fandom.   I still write my novels with WordStar 4.0 on a DOS computer, after all, and when I interface with the internet it is mainly through this blog.  (Good thing Howard Waldrop isn’t going to be hosting.  He still works on a manual typewriter).

Anyway, the Kiwis have some smart guys working for them, and they assure me everything will go fine.   They are working out the tech now, and we hope to have several trial runs before The Big Night.   We are all certainly going to try to do our best.  I expect there will be glitches and mistakes, many of them doubtless mine, but I do hope all those looking in will be patient and understanding.  In any case, the rockets will be handed out one way or t’other, though the actual delivery may have to be entrusted to DHL or Federal Express.

Some cool stuff happening with WILD CARDS that I should mention.   Check out our Wild Cards website, if you haven’t seen it in a while.  Lots of great content there for you to explore, including a new blog post every two weeks by a rotating cast of our amazing Wild Cards writers.  You will find it at   

We also have a brand new Wild Cards original coming out at the end of this month from Harper Collins Voyager in the UK.   The title is THREE KINGS, and it’s a full mosaic,  was edited by Melinda M. Snodgrass (yours truly assisting), and features contributions from  Peter Newman, Peadar O’Guilin, Caroline Spector, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Melinda herself.  It’s a sequel to KNAVES OVER QUEENS, and like that volume it is set entirely in the British Isles and features an English and Irish cast.   (More on that one in a later post).

There’s more, of course.   There’s always more.   But this post has grown long enough, and Westeros is calling.

Current Mood: busy busy