In Sputnik’s Orbit

A few thoughts to tide you over…


In The Running — Again

For three years, the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award competition has been a regular feature of my writing life, and I’m honored and proud to announce that I am once again in the running.

Each time I’ve entered, I’ve been a finalist, which I am rather proud of. The competition is judged by Baen Books editors Hank Davis, Jim Minz, Tony Daniel, David Afsharirad, and best selling Baen author David Drake. Four years ago, I’d have been ecstatic just to have my work on these folks’ radar. Well, it’s still pretty awesome, but four years ago, I’d have been counting the seconds till the big reveal, praying that I win, readying myself for disappointment. No more. This year, I’m happy to be listed alongside these talented authors

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How to Save Your Children

Sixty years ago, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the world.

Each year, warming weather brought polio season. Late summer was “polio season.” Public swimming pools were shut d

own. Movie theaters urged patrons not to sit too close together. Insurance companies sold polio insurance for newborns.

In 1952 alone, 60,000 American children were infected; thousands died; many thousands were paralyzed.

My aunt was one of the lucky ones; she might have been the girl in this photo. She eventually learned to walk without crutches, but the leg never grew again, and she wore orthopedic platform shoes and heaved through the house like Hephaestus, or through the school where she taught the next two generations

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Meet WotF Winner, Matthew S. Rotundo

Greetings fellow scifi lovers!

Since winning the Writers of the Future contest myself, I’ve made it an annual tradition to interview some or all of each year’s winners on my blog. It’s fun, it’s a nice welcome, and it’s a great way to meet new friends.

As always, I’m kicking off the series this year with a veteran, the wonderfully amiable, Mathew S. Rotundo, who won in 2009. I’ll start off by saying the Matt and eight other former WotF winners has contributed a reprint to our anthology, The Future is Nigh and it’s no exaggeration to say that it would be a bargain at $15 in hardcover, it really is that good. But enough of that.

Stuart: Matt, welcome! Thanks for dropping by.

Matthew: Thanks for having me!

Stuart: No problem. See, this is great, because we’ve hung out at the SWFA table at conventions and worked together on the odd project, but we’ve never really gotten the chance to talk. Tell me, and my many dozens of mostly loyal followers, who you are. Where do you hail from?

Matthew: I’m from Omaha. As in Nebraska.

Stuart: Home of Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom.” Do you know the guy with the animals?

Matthew: Umm…yeah. More, where the corn is. But we have indoor plumbing, so we’re doing OK.

I’ve lived here all my life, actually, except that I was born in Germany. My dad was in the Air Force and was stationed overseas

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A Very Nice Compliment

I got a very complimentary note from an editor today who told me “Dreams of the Rocket Man” was in consideration for his best of the year anthology till the very last cut. Of course, I’d love to have made that cut, but I also know there are many considerations in choosing works for a commercial anthology, and a long work from a little known author is not an easy sell.
Oh well. I will just have to become better known. Oh write shorter stories. Or both. Meanwhile, you can still read the story on my sample page, and it’s for sale on Amazon.

On the Model of Parents

Idon’t often talk or write about my personal life, but a recent question of social media hit a nerve. The question was, “What if it turns out we’re all wrong about gay parenting, and it is indeed harmful to kids?

Now, why would this touch a nerve with me, a straight, white middle-class man with all the benefits of a mid-twentieth century American upbringing?

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Sale of For All Mankind!

Contract in hand, I can now announce that I’ve sold my most ambitious short work yet to Analog Science Fiction & Fact!

For All Mankind is the tale of two very different women, each hiding secrets from a hostile world.  When their respective nations must reach across the Iron Curtain to avert disaster, they find in space, something bigger than fear or prejudice.

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The OA: A Near Story Experience

Spoiler alert. If you haven’t yet watched Netflix’s series, The OA, to the end yet, go away and come back after you have. It’s okay. We’ll wait.

Image result for the OA


The OA is the story of Prairie Johnson, adopted daughter of two small town Samaritans who has just turned up in the hospital and on YouTube after having been abducted seven years previous, just as she reached her maturity. As she tries to readjust to normality, she acts weird and assembles her own little quasi cult of followers who meet every night in a half-finished house to hear the spooky tale of her childhood, her abductor’s maniacal research into near death experiences, and the trans-dimentional Tai-Chi she brought back from the wichy woman at the bottom of the lake, the veracity of which is apparently demonstrated by the odd nocturnal nosebleed.

Got that? Doesn’t matter. No really,

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Make Your Website Shine!

Sprucing up your website for the new year? Now’s a good time to consider how it looks and works on mobile devices.

According to my stats for 2016, a quarter of my followers now arrive on mobile devices. I work hard for their patronage, and I want to ensure their experience is as pleasant as possible, but there are a huge variety of devices, resolutions, and user settings to contend with–and it all takes time away from writing. What to do?cellphone-use

Fortunately, the days of testing software out on every possible client configuration are long gone, and for the casual brochure site(1) developer, most of the heavy lifting has already been done. I use a paid Weebly account for my brochure site and a free WordPress site for my blog

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Goodbye Microsoft Sculpt

The Microsoft Sculpt is the worst keyboard I’ve ever used, and I’ve used a Magnavox Odyssey 2.

Image result for magnavox odyssey

I mean, the Odysey was useless, but at least it worked consistently badly at super low speed and was amenable to being hacked apart and reused for the science fair.
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