Damn it, Tor

Until Sunday, July 27, you can download all the novels and wallpapers that were given away in our recent “Watch the Skies” program–for free. Don’t delay!

Now they’re gleefully boasting that the carrot they held out to encourage people to sign up early is available to everyone. I know, I could have been reading all those stories I downloaded before everyone else, and it’s not Tor’s fault that there are no good ebook readers. But I really can’t figure out why they wanted people to sign up early. And now that all the free stuff is available to everyone, I can’t even gloat about how I got it first. What a bunch of jerks.

After all that, Scalzi had to tell me?

The new Tor.com beta has launched. Despite signing up with them months ago, when they promised free goodies for getting on the mailing list, they seem to have forgotten to notify me of the opening. They did come through with the free goodies – I have a few dozen free ebooks to read as soon as someone makes a stinkin’ ebook reader that doesn’t suck. And now they have new short stories from John Scalzi and Charles Stross, which is cool. But I didn’t hear about the launch from Tor, I heard about it from John Scalzi’s blog. What’s the point of signing up for the early mailing list if you aren’t informed when the new site goes live? And why did they do it on a Sunday when no one is paying attention? And why didn’t I already have a username and password? I don’t remember if I signed up for one when I got on the mailing list, but I should have, and they should remember it. I haven’t poked around on the site yet, so I can’t speak to what it’s like, but after all this buildup, the launch itself has been pretty disappointing. Hopefully they’ll iron out the wrinkles and end up with a nice site. I suspect that they will. So now I’m off to check out the site.

Dinner and Drinks with Charlie Stross

Charles Stross @ BrickskellerI got to meet Charles Stross! And drink good beer! I dragged the wife down to The Brickskeller last night to meet the author and his wife, and an eclectic group of local fans. It was a little tough for the wife, since they now have a bunch of Bell’s Beer on hand. But it was less tough than it could have been, because they were out of most of it, including the Hopslam they claimed to have on tap. But it was fun. He signed my copy of Halting State. I wasn’t sure which book to bring. I could have done what one person did, and brought everything Charlie had ever published. But really, the marginal utility of each subsequent signature is pretty insignificant. I thought about bringing Singularity Sky, which I really enjoyed. Or Accelerando, the first of his that I read. But I have both of those in paperback. And my favorite of his, Iron Sunrise, I apparently don’t own at all. I guess I must have gotten it from the library. Anyway, I finally settled on a nice hardcover, and I’m happy with my decision. Plus I got this great picture of him. Didn’t get to talk to him much, but that’s okay. Not sure what I would have said. The conversation mostly centered around Charlie, talking about writing and politics. He says he’s not writing any more in the Iron Sunrise post-Singularity universe, which is too bad because I really like those stories. He related some stats on the death penalty that suggest we shouldn’t be killing people. The wife and I talked to his wife about beer – she was looking for weird American stuff they can’t get back home in Scotland, which is exactly my attitude when traveling. I will never understand those who travel abroad and want hamburgers and Budweiser. It was a good night. We got a little wet walking home, but since this was the warmest day we’ve had since last summer, and it didn’t rain too hard, it wasn’t too unpleasant.

New science fiction site coming soon

Making Light | Phase one: collect underpants via Whatever Tor Books, a big (the biggest?) name in science fiction publishing, is opening a new website. It is supposed to be “a place and a context for the lively, ongoing, wide-ranging, and profoundly self-organizing discussions that have characterized the science fiction subculture since its earliest days”. That sounds pretty cool to me. I signed up for their advanced membership or whatever it is to get some free ebook downloads. I haven’t read any of them, because I don’t have an ebook reader (Please, won’t someone make a good, affordable ebook reader?). But I have them, and I plan to read some or all of them, and I suspect that I will end up buying something from some or all of the authors that I read. I hate announcements of far away website launches – I don’t really care until your site is live. Actually, I don’t really care until it’s live and finished being Dugg and Slashdotted, which I’m sure it will be. But I am looking forward to this. I was really disappointed with Gawker’s crappy science fiction blog, and I have high hopes for this one.