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Spider's Online Diary

Much more detailed, and much less frequent than a blog, every few months Spider writes a Diary entry to let us know what's on his mind. Great performances he has seen, great albums he has discovered, exciting events and personal recollections are all grist for the Onilne Diary.

11/03/14 -- Ups and Downs

I apologize profoundly to all of you who’ve been kind enough to keep up your subscription payments even though I’ve stopped posting podcasts for you to subscribe to, and generous enough to keep making donations too. There’s no way I can convey how grateful I am, or how much your generosity has helped to keep my pilot light lit. The least I can do in return is update you on the most recent developments here at Tottering-on-the-Brink, and offer you my best excuses for continued non-podcasting and nonpublication.

May as well start with good news. A few weeks ago, at V-Con 39 (the Vancouver science fiction convention), my Jeanne and I were, along with the great William Gibson, inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction And Fantasy Hall Of Fame, a lifetime achievement honour from by the same Canadian Science Fiction And Fantasy Association that gives out the annual Aurora Awards. The award comes with both a snazzy plaque, and a striking sculpture by Gideon Hay that he’s still working on as we speak. I’ve seen a maquette, a 3-D model of the finished piece; it is a work of great power and beauty, and when photos are available I’ll post them here.

This honour moves and humbles me. I was present for the first-ever induction, of A.E. van Vogt, and was there in Toronto when Frederik Pohl formally inducted the immortal Judith Merril. I am deeply gratified to be considered worthy of joining them and Bill Gibson and all the other inductees.

In my brief acceptance remarks, I mentioned that Jeanne was the first woman to win the Hugo and Nebula with her first published work. The vigorous applause warmed me.

It was the first con I’ve attended in corpus since Jeanne had to leave in 2010, and it felt indescribably weird to be without her. But the support of old friends including Steve Fahnestalk, Tam Gordy, and Don DeBrandt got me through it. Also I met a new friend with an incredible singing voice and a great laugh, the actress CJ Jackman Zigante, and I got to hear at least a portion of my friend and longtime science consultant Guy Immega’s riveting slideshow presentation on Alien Languages, and I witnessed a genuinely exciting cartoonists’ live duel, ably moderated by Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk.

The next bit of news I want to share with you is the glorious visit I had a couple of weeks ago from my beloved daughter and granddaughter. Terri and Marisa came back to visit me and to say hello to all the many friends they made when they lived here on Bowen Island from 2009-11. They arrived just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving, bringing with them Terri’s friend Nicole from Vancouver and her friend Erica from Brooklyn, now of Mendocino, and we all basically partied for a week, starting with a superb Thanksgiving Feast at the home of my friend Earl Jenkins. My house echoed with love and laughter and music and warmth all week.

Terri was in rocky shape from the chemo, but seemed determined to pay no attention to it. She walked with a pronounced limp, but never seemed tired, or stopped smiling. For me, her visit was like watering a cactus. I took nourishment from her, and from Marisa who owns my heart, and was sorry to send them home to Connecticut at the end of a 10-day visit.

Two days ago, October 25, was Terri’s 40th birthday, and several friends and family members from all around North America flew her to Chicago for a special celebration. Almost on arrival, she tripped and fell.

Which is how we learned that her limp was due to a slowly-fracturing femur, weakened by her chemo drugs. The fall did so much more damage that she required, and yesterday she received, a hip replacement.

There are at least two up sides to this. First, she’s in Chicago, where she will probably have better surgeons and better care than she might have if this had happened back home in rural Connecticut. And second, her Aunt Laurie is with her, and can stay for at least a week. My sister Mary calls Laurie “a mighty goddess of coping,” and I wholeheartedly agree. I feel much better just knowing she’s there to be Terri’s advocate and buddy and travel facilitator.

But there is no doubt that Terri is now facing long painful rehab. If you pray, your prayers would be most gratefully accepted; if not, please just, as we used to say in the Bronx, “hold a good t’ought” for Terri. Look for updates on her condition on her Facebook page. []

I am and have been and will be trying to produce more fiction for you to read, and podcasts for you to groove to. But things have been going especially slow, lately. Minor health problems of my own I don’t even want to go into. Household emergencies that would bore the balls off a buffalo. And obvious emotional wear and tear from the distractions detailed above. Bachelor life in general, basically.

I’m workin’ on it. For 35 years Jeanne made it possible for me to spend my days and nights staring into space and dreaming about the imaginary problems of imaginary people. She did this with something like 10% of her attention, while maintaining fulltime careers of her own in at least three different demanding professions. Now that she’s gone, I’m lucky to keep cornflakes on the table and the
laundry folded. These days I consider it a good day if I’m able to seize enough time to not get any writing done.

I used to write in blocks of six or eight hours, of which the first three or four were spent warming up. That luxury is gone, probably forever, and I’m doing my best to learn a whole new way to write, one that requires short bursts with no warmup at all. Ideally, a way that can be done while cooking. That level of multitasking. Like I said, I’m workin’ on it.

I always like to leave ‘em smiling if possible. Here’s my best shot: Very Soon Now (that is, once I complete the furshlugginer Introduction for it), my first-ever ebook short story collection, titled MY FAVORITE SHORTS, should be published for your reading pleasure. My sagacious agent Eleanor Wood has persuaded me that people who typically read ebooks (and bless your hearts) are often multitaskers such as I’m trying to become, and no longer have huge blocks of time to commit to reading novels. If the new collection sells, perhaps I’ll find myself writing short fiction again, after a hiatus of decades. That’d be a lot easier to do while cooking.

And at least you’ll have some good, time-tested stuff to read while you wait for me to get off my duff and finish ORPHAN STARS. Once I finish that Intro, of course.

In the meantime, I can’t say it enough: thank you for your support and patience. It is appreciated more than I can say or will ever be able to repay.