The kids are taking swim lessons this week and next, or at least the 3 oldest ones are. But when we got swim goggles for the oldest 3, Claire needed them too. And she insisted on wearing them to the pool last night.
Getting ready to go in the water, she proudly said to me, "I'm wearing goggles."
Replying in the same fashion, I pointed down and said, "I'm wearing socks."
She looked down and, having just shucked her flip-flops, replied, "I'm wearing feet!"
My Aunt Mikey passed away last night. We've known it was coming for the past week; she'd suffered a brain stem stroke last Friday. Uncle George when I talked to him before our trip seemed to be holding up well, sad, yet pragmatic about what was happening.
We talked about my books on the phone. I told him again that my writing career was due to him and Mikey. One summer for my birthday - I was 12 I think - they had bought me two books: Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel and The Rolling Stones. I couldn't tell you a thing about the latter, but the first fired my imagination and made me think about things I hadn't thought about before. Kip was solving problems! With a slide rule. I was mesmerized. That one book did more to shape my future as an engineer and as a science fiction writer than any other thing in the universe.
Suddenly, because of Uncle George and Aunt Mikey, instead of being a listless youth, I had a passion. Have imagination, will travel!
I know Uncle George had read my books, but I don't know if Aunt Mikey did. I'll have to ask at the funeral on Tuesday. I hope she did. I hope she saw what she had started.
It's clear now to whom my next book will be dedicated.
I don't think the highlights of family vacations are the locales visited at all. It's the family parts of the vacation that count.
We visited the Hocking Hills of Ohio this weekend, hiking the various sites of interest: Old Man's Cave, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls. Here's what I'll be remembering.
Story the first: Graham at Old Man's Cave.
"Where's the old man?"
When explained that there was no old man, it was just the name of the cave.
"Dad, when you're one hundred, you can live here and be the Old Man."
Story the second: Eli on the second day.
"We haven't played Wii for 24 hours and I didn't even notice!"
Story the third: Graham as we gathered sticks to toast marshmallows
"Careful of sparklers!"
"Careful of sparklers!"
"What's a sparkler?"
"If you grab a piece of wood you might get a sparkler in your finger."
Story the fourth: Eli and Dad around the fire
"Dad, did you and mom go to grade school together?"
"Uh, no. Your mom grew up in New Jersey and I grew up in Ohio."
"Where did you meet?"
"Oh... Were you on the football team and was she a cheerleader?"
Yes, I won the Compton Crook Award/Stephen Tall Memorial Award for Best First Novel... on my birthday! Here's my speech:
What an honor to be here today and receive the Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Memorial Award for best first novel. I'm glad you all got the invitation and could make it. Today is my birthday.
This is not my first award ceremony, I'll have you know. In fact this is not the first award for which these words were nominated. The first chapter of this book, in slightly altered form, was on the ballot for the best novelette in the Asimov's Readers Poll. I didn't win. But that's not the point of this story. Because I won today.
Even though I did not win, I did get a nice breakfast out of it. Sheila Williams was kind enough to invite me to the awards breakfast, held that year at the Nebulas in Chicago. The hotel, when asked if they had a room suitable for a literary award breakfast, replied that yes, yes indeed we have the Library Room. How grand, perfectly suitable. The Library Room would be perfect for an award ceremony celebrating short stories.
It was a nice room, wood-paneled, lined with book shelves, upstairs from the hotel restaurant. After our buffet breakfast, we as writers were naturally attracted to the walls of the room and began perusing the titles. Gardner Dozois pulled a book off the shelf. He turned toward the rest of us, horrified. And if you know Gardner, you know it takes a lot to horrify that man. This may be the only time in 2004 that he was horrified. We'll have to check records.
The book shelves were too shallow to hold a full-sized book. Such a book would have extended off the end of the shelf. So, for aesthetics, the designer of the room had cut all the books in half so that they fit on the shelf clearly and evenly! Every single of one of the books had been sliced in half.
The irony, the horrific irony, was that an awards ceremony for the best literature in Asimov's SF magazine was being held in a room full of mutilated books.
As is often the case when confronted with horror, the human mind turns to maniacal humor. It was the only way we could deal with the trauma. Someone took a book, held it, and recited the title.
Charles Dickens' A Tale of One City
Next to it was Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 225 and a Half and the European version, Celsius 116
Harry Potter and the Quarter Blood Prince was there.
Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 2 and a half.
Zelazny's 9 Barons of Amber.
Orwell's medieval book of authoritarianism: 942.
To Maim a Mockingbird.
A Streetcar Named Lukewarm Affection.
Tuesday Brunch with Morrie.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Solar System.
1001, a Feudal Odyssey.
The Skirmish of the Worlds.
10,000 Leagues under the Sea.
Journey to the Mantle of the Earth.
The Time Traveler's Girlfriend.
Tolkien's second book in his trilogy... (pause while the audience fills in the gap.) See, it's like you all were there.
But the story ends well. When we left, we only tipped 7 and 1/2 percent.
Every book I've written is dedicated to my best friend, my wife Stacey, who was kind enough to travel here with me. Also present is my editor David Hartwell. Thank you, David. And Havis Dawson from my agency is here as well. And thank you to all the readers who read my book, even if you only read half-way.