Asimov Centenial Panel at Albacon (notes)

 Asimov’s Centennial (11 AM Sunday Sept. 15, 2019). The centennial of Isaac Asimov’s birthday is January 2, 2020. Might be appropriate to look back on his life and impact.

(I brought an Asimov’s omnibus robot book to pass around/ use as a theme prop)

Intros. Panelists were Tom Easton, Carl Frederick (who built a robot w/ Asimov), Herb Kauderer, Vaughne Hansen (agent), Barry Longyear, Ian Randall Strock (who worked with Asimov when he still ran the magazine).

List of questions for panelists

  • Ask each panelist his or her experiences with Asimov or his work.
  • Did you know he was a non-fic writer, too?
  • What Asimov stories or non-fic books influenced you the most?
  • Do you have to be as prolific/driven/compulsive a writer to make it?
  • Bring up the “I, Robot Movie” – the three laws of robotics. Will we use them in real life? (DARPA)

First Law

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law

A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law

A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

Nancy Kress anecdote ( @first OMG it’s ISSAC ASIMOV, later – hide me it’s Zac.)

Enormous early influence on me and on the field of SF.

From Wikipedia: He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books.

Asimov wrote hard science fiction. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov’s most famous work is the “Foundation” series, the first three books of which won the one-time Hugo Award for “Best All-Time Series” in 1966. His other major series are the “Galactic Empire” series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, with Foundation and Earth (1986), he linked this distant future to the Robot stories, creating a unified “future history” for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson.  He also wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction novelette “Nightfall”, which in 1964 was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by SFWA. Asimov also wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile of science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.

CLOSING QUOTE “[T]he only thing about myself that I consider to be severe enough to warrant psychoanalytic treatment is my compulsion to write … That means that my idea of a pleasant time is to go up to my attic, sit at my electric typewriter (as I am doing right now), and bang away, watching the words take shape like magic before my eyes.”

— Asimov, 1969

Ebook of Writing the Entertaining Story is now live

The ebook version is here! Buy it now.

The paperback version will probably debut at Capclave (Oct. 19). The paperback version was held up by, among other things, Hurricane Dorian because Amazon’s local priniting for my area is done in Charlston SC. So the paperback edited author’s proof did not get to me in time to make the same date as the ebook of WTES. There were editorial changes to the paperback version, and once those and the new cover are approved in a new proof, the same changes will go into the ebook. (Those who buy the ebook now will get a free update when those editorial changes go in, but they were mainly comma placements.)

New Blurb: “Wendy S. Delmater’s Writing the Entertaining Story is a must-read for all new and aspiring writers. Leveraging her years of experience as editor of the acclaimed speculative fiction magazine Abyss & Apex, Delmater has written a comprehensive and invaluable guidebook on the craft of storytelling. The book presents numerous examples of stellar writing from different venues and also contains helpful “pro tips” and warnings about common pitfalls (denominated with a “Danger, Will Robinson!” heading). Simply put, every writer should own this book.” –  Mercurio D. Rivera, Science Fiction Author

My Bird’s Eye View of 9/11

(This is an excerpt from my book, Confessions of a Female Safety Engineer.)

I was still at the circuit breakers houses job. At 9 AM on September 11, 2001, I was supposed to be at their job progress meeting at NYC Transit headquarters, which was the same 2 Broadway I’d worked at in lower Manhattan, but the meeting was postponed. So I was on the #7 train, coming back to the office from looking at one of our remote circuit breaker house retrofits. The train was on the elevated section of track that ran in the middle of Queens Boulevard, a main route into Manhattan heading toward the Queensboro Bridge. I was looking out the window past Aviation High School when I first noticed flames coming out of one of the distant twin towers.

“Wow,” I remarked to a fellow passenger, “there’s a fire at the World Trade Center.”

A lady across the aisle, next to the conductor’s booth, said, “Yes, the conductor just heard about it on his radio. A plane hit it.”

“That’s terrible,” the man next to me said, shaking his head. We all watched the fire through the train windows until the view was obscured by a building, and then I got off at the (no longer swaying) Court Square Station.

I came down the stairs from the station to find the sidewalk filled with people, all looking toward the twin towers, which were due west down the street, direct line-of-sight. My project manager was among them. “I saw the other plane hit,” he informed me, and like everyone else who got that news I realized we were under attack.

If you were in New York City that morning you couldn’t watch TV coverage of the disaster, and you could not hear about it on the radio. All of our local broadcast towers were atop those burning structures, coming down when they did. But a local business had the BBC network on cable, and I watched the agonizing pictures of jumpers and falling rubble from there. I’d been scheduled to be two blocks from the towers; I’d have been at that postponed meeting at 8:30 AM. The pictures of people running from the falling rubble and women emerging from clouds of white concrete dust, coated and terrified, hit me especially hard. That could have been me, had the scheduled meeting actually happened.

The word was to just get home, so I walked to the E subway to take the train, but the trains were not running. On my way back to the site office I pushed through crowds of panicked people in the street, darting to and fro like schools of fish avoiding a predator, terrified of any planes in the air if the plane strayed near the nearby Citibank building, the tallest building in Queens. What if a plane hit that, too?

One of my coworkers who’d brought his car in drove me as far as a Long Island Railroad station, and dropped me off there. After the NYPD went through the train cars with bomb sniffing dogs, we were told we did not need a ticket; just get in and get home. It was obviously something they’d drilled for; they were following an emergency contingency plan.

I took my car home from my local commuter rail station, and like everyone else in America who was not a first responder to the three locations in NY, PA and DC, I huddled near the light of our collective television news, fending off the dark.

Working in the City, I realized, was about to get very different.