Thursday, August 17th, 2017 05:11 am

Just after moonrise on August 12 this grain of cosmic sand Just after moonrise on August 12 this grain of cosmic sand

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 11:10 am

Hi! Apologies for the long hiatus. I've been kind of preoccupied, with a funeral in the family and then a world science fiction convention in Helsinki, but I'm finally home and trying to get back to some semblance of normal.

In the meantime, some news:

If you're in the United States and read ebooks, The Rhesus Chart is currently discounted to $1.99. (The link goes to but it should be the same price on iBooks and the Google Play store and Kobo. It's probably also at this price in Canada, but not in the UK or Europe--different publishers in different territories.) If you haven't tried the Laundry Files, this book isan entrypoint: why not give it a try?

Tonight, August 16th, I'm appearing at the Edinburgh Book festival with Nnedi Okorafor, Jo Walton, and Ken Macleod. We'll be at the Studio Theatre from 7:15pm; it's a ticketed event from the main book festival box office.

And on Friday August 18th, I'll be back at the book festival for a discussion with Nalo Hopkinson, Ken MacLeod, and Ada Palmer: we'll e at Bosco Theatre (on George Street) from 6:30pm, and again, it's a ticketed event.

And finally, the big news: my space opera, Ghost Engine, is being rescheduled for 2019; instead, July 2018 should see publication of The Labyrinth Index, the ninth Laundry Files novel! Publishers will be Orbit in the UK and Tor in the USA (this being the New Normal for the Laundry Files). This change has been in the works for a few months, but I didn't want to pre-announce it until I had it nailed down. (In a nutshell: Ghost Engine was too ambitious to finish on my original schedule, and The Labyrinth Index was growing more and more timely, until they just crossed over.)

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 01:59 am

Posted by John Kovalic

The Steve Jackson Games booth isn’t hosting any signings this year, so here’s where you can find me at Gen Con 50:

Thursday, July 17th:

2:30 – 3:30, Dealer’s Hall, Booth 118 (Game Trade Magazine)

7:30 – 8:30 The Munchkin Tavern, Tavern on South, 423 South St. (Steve Jackson Games)

Friday, July 18th:

2:30 – 3:30, Dealer’s Hall, Booth 118 (Game Trade Magazine)

Saturday, July 19th:

11 am – Noon Humor in Roleplaying (with James Wallis and Matt Forbeck) Indiana Convention Center, room 244

2:30 – 3:30, Dealer’s Hall, Booth 118 (Game Trade Magazine)

I’ll ask be at the Diana Jones Awards Wednesday night, and gaming over in the CMON area from time to time!

Quick note: I’m typing this on an iMac I thought was dead – dead as a parrot; computer no more; ceased to be; expired and gone to meet its maker; kicked the bucket; shuffled off this mortal coil; run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible; AN EX-iMAC – but for a few hours there Apple Support helped bring it back from the grave. It was a bot of good news in a week of bad news, so that was welcome.

Customer Support takes a lot of flak, some of it well-deserved. But I wish I’d gotten the name of this fellow, who was patient, understanding and clear as he essentially guided me through brain surgery on my machine.

Seriously, you have no idea how relieved I am, right now.

More good news, though: Insane Charity Bike Ride 2017 is closing in on 40% of its goal! That’s still more than 60% away from me wearing a duck on my head (AGAIN!),  but it’s a solid start.

There are only four more weeks yo go, though, so fingers…and webbed feet…crossed!


Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 05:01 am

From cold, clear skies over Riverton, Manitoba, Canada, planet Earth, From cold, clear skies over Riverton, Manitoba, Canada, planet Earth,

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 05:01 am

What if you could fly over Pluto's moon Charon -- what might you see? What if you could fly over Pluto's moon Charon -- what might you see?

Monday, August 14th, 2017 07:51 pm
Esoterrorists is a game I've looked at and found quite interesting, from some excellent designers, but have never run:

"Revived from November 2015, this collection features The Esoterrorists by Robin D. Laws (Feng Shui, HeroQuest, Hillfolk) from Pelgrane Press. As an investigator for the benevolent secret conspiracy Ordo Veritatis, you defend modern-day reality against a loose network of occult terrorists, the Esoterrorists, who try to weaken the protective Membrane and summon Unremitting Horrors from the Outer Dark. The Esoterrorists was the first RPG to use Robin's GUMSHOE System (seen in Trail of Cthulhu, Night's Black Agents, and many other RPGs of detection and mystery).
We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders and music players.
Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to the charity chosen by Pelgrane Press co-owner Simon Rogers, Cancer Research UK.
The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$106. Customers who pay just US$8.95 get all four titles in our Player's Collection (retail value $44) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition (retail price $15): The original GUMSHOE System investigative game of sinister occult conspiracies. We also include The Esoterrorists 1st Edition (retail $9), because Pelgrane gave it to us so why not?
  • The Esoterror Factbook (retail $15): An indispensable reference for assets, protocols, psychogeography, Membrane permeability, and Techno-Macho Utterances.
  • Dissonance - Music for Esoterrorists (retail $5): Four atmospheric tracks by composer James Semple encompassing suspense, action, and horror for The Esoterrorists or any modern mystery game. Includes the music that introduces the ENnie-winning podcast Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff.
Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $17.95 to start, also get our entire Gamemaster's Collection with seven more titles worth an additional $62:
  • The Esoterror Summoning Guide (retail $10): The Ordo Veritatis summarizes what it knows of the enemy's world-threatening methods.
  • Book of Unremitting Horror (GUMSHOE version, retail $15): A boundary-crossing collection of truly disturbing modern monsters.
  • Albion's Ransom: Little Girl Lost (retail $9) and Worm of Sixty Winters (retail $9): A complete two-part campaign of battle against a climate catastrophe in northern England.
  • The Love of Money (retail $10): A full-length campaign investigating Esoterrorist funding sources, and what they're doing with all that rhodium.
  • Profane Miracles (retail $5): Leonard (Fate Core) Balsera's fast-paced investigation of a millionaire supposedly raised from the dead.
  • Six Packed (retail $4): A gruesome revenge killing in a London slaughterhouse leads to a terrible threat from the Outer Dark.
There's going to be at least one item added after launch: When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early."

This is a fun system and I think it's pretty good value - but as usual (especially when I recommend things) I have to point out that I get this stuff free if I want it, your opinion may differ.
Monday, August 14th, 2017 05:31 pm
Didn't get to the Dead Dog in the end - there was a huge crowd waiting outside when I got to the hotel where it was being held and I got the impression it was going to be very crowded if I ever got inside. Ended up going into town for a meal with friends. At which point, wanting to take a couple of pictures of the architecture of Helsinki Station, I discovered that my little Fujitsu bridge camera appears to be dead. I could have used my iPhone but for some reason it never occurred to me, so I've ended up with no photos of Helsinki. I hope it's just bad batteries, charging them now and crossing my fingers, but I've a feeling it's more serious.

My flight home turned out to be an hour earlier than I thought so there wasn't really time to do any sightseeing today - plus the most direct route to the airport was the station near the convention centre so I didn't need to go back to Helsinki station anyway. For Dublin in 2019 I really must add a couple of days one side or another of the con to do some proper touristy things.

Got home about five to the usual pile of mail - unfortunately the battery for the Eos 400D I got hasn't arrived, so I can't test it yet. But everything else is OK so far, I had a pretty good time, and given the total cost of the con (and food at the convention centre) the dead camera (if it is) is about two extra meals worth of annoyance rather than a huge disaster.

later - forgot to mention something announced at the closing ceremony: the predicted membership was around 3000, in line with previous worldcons in non-English speaking countries. Instead they got a hell of a lot more - I think they said 5800 plus, the second biggest membership ever. The reason for the initial confusion with room sizes was that all of the arrangements were made with the lower figure in mind, most of the excess signed up in the last couple of weeks before the con.

I have no idea what caused this, but they did handle it reasonably well once the initial panic was over.
Saturday, August 12th, 2017 11:21 pm
Another good day at the con, they seem to have got their act together on putting programs into rooms that are large enough to hold them.

Heard at the end of the first panel that Dublin has won the 2019 bid, as expected, so should be headed over there in about two years. Some fun guests including Diane Duane and Steve Jackson.

And both of my program appearances went well, including the fanfic one that worried me a bit. Tomorrow's the last day, but I want to stay for the dead dog party in the evening so won't head home until Monday afternoon. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see the sights a bit before I go.
Friday, August 11th, 2017 07:27 pm
 Waiting for the Hugo award ceremony to start. No wifi in this hall so will post from my phone if I can. I'll add the winners as announced as comments on Dreamwidth. Live journal users should read them on Dreamwidth.

later - read the full list here:
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 06:56 pm
 The con committee seems to have underestimated attending membership a bit - someone said by about a third, which is a half kiloton or so of fans. A lot of the rooms are too small for the numbers wanting to use them. They've also used one hour programme slots with no time for movement factored in, so panels end up at 45-50 minutes and begin and end with huge crowds around the entrances. They're also relying on people using on line resources to keep track of room changes, which is a bit of a pain if you're not in the habit of checking. Nevertheless I'm enjoying myself, and I've got to most of the items I wanted, or found fun alternatives. And they've got a lot of things right, e.g. Free bus and tram travel throughout the con.

Hopefully things will improve as the con continues, but I think it'll be a success provided nothing goes catastrophically wrong.