order of oddfish cover order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


Hawaii, David Lynch, Legendarium, Marginalia, and Chicon 8!

September 8, 2022

It’s been a while, but I’ve been busy! First off, Heather and the girls and I took a vacation to Kauai, thanks to our good friends Alisha and Sharon. Snorkeling, hiking, boating, ziplining, relaxing and delicious foods. Heavenly!

I also wrote an essay for the Quirk blog about David Lynch, whose work I’ve been obsessed with ever since high school. It’s called “What Makes Something Lynchian?” and but the essay is also kind of about Dare to Know too.

I included a lot of Twin Peaks gifs in it, so it’s extra fun to read. “I don’t want the mysteries of Lynch’s movies to be cleared up,” I write. “I want to live in those mysteries and let them accompany me through my life.” Go read it here.

MORE STUFF! On August 15, I was a guest on the Legendarium Podcast, which is all about science fiction and fantasy:

Host Craig has invited me on to talk about “Predestination In Science Fiction and Fantasy”—which makes sense, Dare to Know, isn’t the only SFF story to play with ideas of fate, prophecy, predestination, etc. In this discussion, I float my theory that there are four distinct types of predestination in fiction: Durable, Fragile, Volitional, and Broken. A meaty interview, check it out! You can also find an audio-only version of the podcast episode here.

But wait, there’s more! I was interviewed by Beth Golay for her Marginalia podcast (a production of the KMUW, the NPR affiliate in Wichita):

This interview is actually from December, but because of a technical snafu, we thought we lost the audio. But Beth resurrected the episode, and I’m really glad because she’s a great interviewer who gave Dare to Know a thoughtful and appreciative read, and had lots of smart questions about it! You can listen to it here.

One last thing that happened this past week: I appeared at panels, table talks, signings, etc. at Chicon 8: The 80th World Science Fiction Convention! Believe it or not, it was my first time at a science fiction convention. I had a blast, and they kept me busy:

I got to meet so many great people, but I’ll just mention two. On the “Walk With The Stars” I met author Mary Anne Mohanraj, and it turned out that we have a lot of friends in common—and she also seemed to know everyone at Chicon, and she also turned out to be a presenter at the Hugo Awards at the convention! She was delightful to talk to and befriend!

At my Table Talk, I met a wonderful woman named Hope Kennedy. It turned out we had more in common than a last name. Just like me, her daughter had been on the JET Programme (that is, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme), which is how I came to spend two years in rural Japan back in 2004-2006. She’s also a PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER at Doomsday Wrestling in Houston (“Violence has never been this funny!”), wrestling under the name “Hot Flash, the Menopausal Mauler.” I’m definitely checking them out the next time I’m in Texas!

Okay, this post has gone one really too long . . . and I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s been going on! Look for updates about the 2023 90-Second Newbery soon, we plan to go back to live screenings!

A Doctorow Rave, a Philosophical Chat, and I’m in 20×2!

July 25, 2022

Cory Doctorow has come through again! I woke up today to find he had posted a very positive review of Dare to Know. Anyone who knows modern sci-fi knows Doctorow is a powerhouse, and yet for all his success he still finds time to read and promote lesser-known authors. It was a real pleasure to be reviewed by someone as informed as Cory, because not only did he clock my obscure references (the video games Aztec and Prince of Persia!) and adroitly situate Dare to Know in the history of SF (Heinlein’s “Life-Line”! Machine of Death!) but he also charted how it relates to The Order of Odd-Fish, which he had positively reviewed many years ago. I’m really grateful.

But wait, what’s that video above? I was interviewed by Greg Sadler for his philosophy YouTube channel. I had met Greg in real life when I did an author appearance at Boswell’s Book Company in Milwaukee a few weeks ago. Since Greg is a bona fide professor of philosophy, we were able to go deeper than usual discussing Dare to Know. And since I have a few interviews under my belt at this point, I’m more coherent than usual. So please check it out, he’s a great interviewer!

One last thing! I was invited by literary fellow-about-town Andrew Huff to speak at 20×2 in Chicago back in June. The premise, per their website: “What happens when you take 20 handpicked creatives and luminaries, give them each two minutes before a live audience and the same (fuzzy) question to unravel?”

I had a great time! The question was “Who Cares?” and I tried as best I could to answer it in two minutes below. Readers of Dare to Know will recognize a riff about the Beatles at the beginning of the video—this is because I had googled the phrase “Who Cares” and found that the first result to show up was a 2018 song by Paul McCartney with the name “Who Cares.” After that, I was off to the races:

But the real fun for me that night was meeting all the other “creatives and luminaries” and seeing how they answered the question “Who Cares.”

Some, like the hilarious Alisa Rosenthal, I had met long ago in improv classes, and it was great to reconnect with her (here’s her entry, a song about junior high school awkwardness).

I had also previously met Felix Jung (here’s his unexpectedly emotionally affecting short video) when he and I both made videos for the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Month at the Museum” contest (my entry here features a very young me, Heather, and Lucy).

Other luminaries I met just that night, and I was blown away by everyone’s talent and guts, especially when Lily Be did a stage-dive and when Brenda Scott Wlazlo did a show-stopping number in a Care Bears costume.

I hope to be invited back to 20×2 someday! You can find all their videos here.

My 16-year-old niece Sophia published a book: STUCK BETWEEN THE STARS!

July 13, 2022

I certainly wasn’t capable of anything like this when I was sixteen years old! My niece Sophia Brown has just published her first novel, Stuck Between The Stars. It’s available in paperback on Amazon here and this is what it’s about:

Stuck Between the Stars is a science fiction novel about two planets (Tenemon and Novana) that have been at war for many years. The Novanian Council sends Callahan Kennedy to battle the evil leader of Tenemon, Empress Vanessa Mills. After a series of events, the two end up falling in love, and Callahan realizes that maybe Vanessa is not the bad one in this story, and the real villain has been hiding in her shadows for all of these years…

Full disclosure: since 2020, I have read several drafts of this manuscript and given Sophia notes when she’s asked for them. And she’s been a real pro about taking what’s useful from my notes while still remaining true to her vision! So I’m extra proud that her book is finally seeing the light of day. And people, it’s a legitimate good read! You should buy it! It’s got forbidden romance, interplanetary battles, political intrigue, tests of loyalty and courage, and a chicken wearing a cowboy hat named “Country Jim”!

There was a release party at Sophia’s house last night, and it was a lot of fun. She signed books for fans (this is her cousin Dylan):

My Aunt Sandee cosplayed as the character “Marticus” from the book. (This is expected behavior; she dressed up as Lily Larouche when The Order of Odd-Fish came out):

Of course, there was a reading, which Sophia nailed:

One of the most beloved characters in the book is the aforementioned cowboy hat-wearing chicken “Country Jim,” a sidekick for Callahan Kennedy:

And here is Sophia with her proud parents, Lloyd and Krystin. Lloyd is holding up some other fantastic fan art she’s received, and Sophia is holding up a picture of the character “Vanessa” done by my own daughter Lucy:

Fun fact: while she was editing Stuck Between the Stars, Sophia attended a weeklong creative writing camp at Interlochen, where her teacher was none other than the wonderful author Mackenzi Lee (coincidentally, I once met Mackenzi briefly, but I doubt she remembers me). So anyway, thanks to Mackenzi for helping Sophia out with the manuscript too. This picture is cropped from a larger photo of Mackenzi’s whole class at Interlochen—I didn’t want to put Sophia’s classmates’ images online without permission:

I’m looking forward to settling in and reading Sophia’s book yet again, in all its final edited and printed glory! Country Jim for President!

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