Friday, October 18, 2019

Davy Crockett vs. The Saucer Men

My short story "Davy Crockett vs. The Saucer Men" appears in Parallel Worlds: The Heroes Within.

You can buy the ebook here and the paperback here.

When the anthology was originally conceived, the editors asked each author to write a short introduction to his or her own story. Ultimately these didn't make it into the book, but you can read mine below. I think it nicely sums up my feeling on what is one of my favorite stories I've ever written and (hopefully) serves as a teaser to make you want to buy the book.


Davy Crockett vs. The Saucer Men was inspired by two of my heroes: the frontiersman Davy Crockett and my uncle, Brooks Griffin. I'll start with the lesser-known first.

Like the narrator of the story, Uncle Brooks grew up in small-town Texas during the 1950s. While roaming the town unsupervised, he and his friends played impromptu games of baseball, read comic books, and in his words, "shot a million [imaginary] Indians." (Not the most p.c. game, but it was a different time.) And when "Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter" premiered on Disneyland in late 1954, he was the perfect age to get swept up in the Davy Crockett frenzy that Walt Disney ignited. He had the coonskin cap described in this story (sadly, lost) as well as the Davy Crockett-branded toys mentioned therein. These, along with countless other treasures, he passed down to me. From Uncle Brooks, I inherited my off-kilter sense of humor and Mad Magazine view of the world. (Do I need to mention that he also game me a stack of old Mad Magazines? He did.) And it was Uncle Brooks who introduced me to the King of the Wild Frontier, via a set of taped-off-the-television-commercials-included VHS tapes.

Which brings us to hero number two: David "Davy" Crockett. I will confess that the Crockett I look up to most is not the real, historical figure, though he did many heroic things, not just fighting at the Alamo but also opposing Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act, a move which wound up costing him his seat in Congress. The Davy Crockett that looms large in my imagination, however, is the folk hero of the tall tales. The Davy who killed a bear when he was three years old; the Davy who grinned a raccoon out of a tree and made a hat of him; the Davy, in short, portrayed by Fess Parker in Disney's adaptation. "The Disney Version" of practically anything gets a bad rap these days—for being too saccharine, for being too simplistic, for being too . . . Disney.  Some of the criticisms are fair. And in the case of Davy Crockett, Walt took a lot of liberties with the source material. The real David Crockett was a complex, flawed human being (as all human beings are); Disney's Davy was a hero, through-and-through. And while I would never caution against learning more about a historical figure, I think sometimes it's okay to indulge in the fiction. We need heroes. And sometimes tall tales, legends, lies, myths, stories are better at getting at the Truth (with a capital T) than the historical record could ever hope to be. Davy Crockett said, "Be sure you are right, then go straight ahead." Disney's Davy Crockett always was and always did. We need heroes like that.

A final note: though Uncle Brooks and I share many common interests, he is not much of a fan of science fiction. I hope he will forgive me for inserting aliens into his childhood. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Chronicles of Davids reviewed in Booklist

Afsharirad brings together some of the genre's most beloved authors with David as their first name in a collection that covers time travelspace operaAI trouble.. and military sfa fun collection of imaginative Davids. Booklist 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Quote of the Day

"Ultimately, each life is a mystery until we each solve the mystery, and that's where we are all headed whether we know it or not."—David Lynch

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Dragoncon 2018

DragonCon, like Christmas (or say, April 14th) comes but once a year, and as I write these words, DragonCon 2018 is in the books. This was the fourth consecutive year I attended and it was great fun as always. Though Armadillocon remains my favorite convention, Dragoncon is an extremely close second—and really they're so different it's probably more accurate to say they are both numero uno.

I kicked off the convention on Thursday evening with dinner at Trader Vic's with a group of Baen Books (and Baen Books-adjacent) folks.  The conversation was fun and free-wheeling. At one point we got on the topic of religion. For ten to twenty minutes we discussed our various faith backgrounds. Represented were Protestants of various stripes, a non-denominational Christian, both practising and lapsed Catholics, and a couple of atheists. The conversation was completely civil. Well, the conversation moved on, as conversations do, and eventually we got on the topic of Star Wars, specifically The Last Jedi. The conversation got so heated we had to forcibly shut it down after no more than two minutes and move on to something else lest it come to violent yelling in the restaurant. That's right, this same group that calmly discussed religious differences that people in the past were literally killed over almost came to blows over Star Wars. Hilarious.

On Friday, I participated in the DragonCon mentor program. This is part of the writers' track programming. Aspiring writers sign up for fifteen minute slots with a professional and are free to use that time to ask any questions they might have. I had two folks come by and talk with me, one of whom I'd met at World Fantasy. It was flattering and a little surreal that someone wanted my advice, and I hope that the things I said were helpful.

Saturday I was at the Baen Travelling Roadshow to hand out the Year's Best Military and Adventure SF Readers' Choice Award. This year, the award went to the very deserving Kacey Ezell for her story "Family Over Blood." I've known Kacey for a while now and she's a great person and a great writer. For several years now I've heard seasoned pros refer to her as "someone to keep an eye on" and I couldn't agree more.

We also announced volume five in the Year's Best Military and Adventure SF series. Look for it next June!

Is that Year's Best Military and Adventure SF Readers' Choice Award winner Kacey Ezell 
or Bad Janet from The Good Place?

Sunday was the Baen Brunch at Pitty Paty's Porch. This is where any and all Baen authors, editors, and Baen-adjacent folks get together and chat over tasty Southern-style food. I sat across the table from the legendary Mike Resnick and got to bend his ear about all sorts of things, including his time writing softcore porn novels back in the sixties. I've looked up to Resnick for some time, ever since reading his story "Kirinyaga" in college. He also published my story "See a Penny . . ." in his magazine Galaxy's Edge earlier this year, so it was really cool to get a chance to talk with him.

Later on Sunday, I moderated a panel titled "The Military Mind in SF," which went really well. And I can now say I've moderated John Ringo, David Weber, and Jack Campbell, which is a worthy distinction, I think. I also did a panel on promotion and PR on Monday.

Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time at the Baen Booth in the Vendor Hall, talking to fans and (hopefully) future fans, helping facilitate author signings, and generally hanging out with Baen folks. And of course there was much fun had over various dinners and at Speaker's Speakeasy (aka the Barfly Suite).

At the Baen Booth with Tim Powers and Ben Yalow

There's a lot more that went on—it really is a whirlwind—but I'll stop there. If you've never been to DragonCon, you really should give it a try. I can't wait for next year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Quote of the Day

"Intellect is a great danger to creativity."—Ray Bradbury

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Song of the Day

Here's a twofer for ya! "When Sin Stops Love Begins" was an early release of Waylon Jennings', produced by his good friend Buddy Holly (who also played guitar on the record). It was later recorded at Norman Petty Studios by the Nighthawks, in a distinctly Buddy Holly style.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Writing Advice of the Day

Interviewer: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

James Ellroy: Stop aspiring. You want to be a writer, be a writer. What's stopping you?