STATUS December 2023:
What keeps me busy.
Science Fiction Awards Database (sfadb.com)
I maintain this site all by myself, and plan to do so indefinitely. This entails compiling data for several dozen SF/F/H awards as they are announced throughout each year, and maintaining all the supporting pages that index results by author or nominee. I’ve been doing this since 2000, when the index was part of the Locus Online site; it became sfadb.com in 2012.
Supporting pages that compile data for “citations” (expert lists, reader polls, and so on) and “anthologies” (the contents of several hundred edited books of stories) are complete as they stand, though they might be updated as significant new sources become available. These support the final piece, which I’m closing off at the year 2020.
The final piece of the site has been in work for several years: roll-ups, into rankings and reading lists, of all the award, citation, and anthology data, to provide a more complete profile of science fiction works than awards by themselves could do. This is close to being finished, depending mostly on how much time I take to write descriptions and commentaries about the top ranking works.
Locus Online (locusmag.com)
I founded this website in 1997 as the online counterpart to Locus magazine, for which I had doing a monthly review column since 1988. I ran the website pretty much single-handedly for 20 years, in that I controlled the design and manually posted the vast majority of pages, from news to reviews to various listings and indexes, some generated from MS Access databases. (By 2009 or so I began implementing parts of the site in Blogger, then WordPress, to allow the magazine staff to post directly, especially news.) The awards site (above) began as a section of Locus Online. In 2017 the publisher of the magazine and her staff took control of the site.
Since then my contributions have dwindled to three things. Every Monday I survey bestseller lists from general publications and compile genre titles appearing on those lists, and post a “Weekly Bestsellers” page. Every month I work with reviewer Paul Di Filippo to solicit and edit three book reviews by him. And intermittently I gather links to various items of interest to sf/f/h readers and post a page called “Around the Web” (aka “Blinks”), much as I do with general items on this blog, though without the commentary or quotes. Oh, and every month or three I update the Reviews and Interviews indexes, which are all driven by data I’ve compiled in my personal databases for 20+ years.
(A history of my tenure, with a timeline and (at the bottom) images of what the site looked like over the years, is here: 20 Years of Locus Online.)
I wrote a monthly review column for Locus Magazine from 1988 to 2000, comprising some 150 columns. (I took part of one year off.) This page at isfdb.com lists those columns plus dozens of other incidental pieces that I did over the years for Locus.
For a period of a year and a half, in 2020 and 2021, I wrote two dozen plus reviews for the website Black Gate (isfdb.com doesn’t index material from websites).
As discussed on this site, for over a decade now I’ve contemplated writing a book about how science fiction relates to science, skepticism, and more recently to topics of conspiracy theories, delusions, and misinformation. Especially psychology, which brings them all together.
A significant portion of such a book has been completed, in 2023: an 11,000 essay for an academic anthology edited by Gary Westfahl. It summarizes one, perhaps the most important, theme of the book (evolutionary psychology). That book will be published probably toward the end of 2024.
I continue to contemplate a full book, which might be part memoir, part survey of science fiction, and part how modern science informs science fiction. In a sense, every commentary in every post I do on this blog is a working over of ideas for that book.
Not a “project” necessarily, except to the extent that it contributes toward the book. Reading and rereading many of the “classics” of science fiction, and reading substantial nonfiction books, about science, philosophy, and religion. Even reading some the “classics” and modern literature. And perhaps to the extent that, when I post summaries about reading such books on this blog, they’re informative to people who might be interested in reading those books too.
Family History and Personal Memoir, including Pics
I’ve written extensive family and personal history here, mostly in 2020 after the pandemic set in, and may not have much more to write, except for filling in gaps. I’ve also posted many pictures, from boxes of slides my father left me, but have more interesting ones yet to post (especially from my parents drive through England and Wales, before I was born).
Previously, as of June 2021:
IN WORK FOR COMPLETION IN 2021: Expanding the Scope of the Science Fiction Awards Database
This entails completing the ranked lists of stories and novels. So far short stories and novelettes have been posted. The rankings for novellas, sf novels, and fh novels have been done for some time, but are awaiting annotation (at least of the top 20 on each list) before posting.
IN WORK FOR COMPLETION IN 2021: Family History and Pics; Personal Narrative (Memoirs)
The narratives are mostly done, as of 2020, though they can always be amended as new thoughts or memories occur to me. The backlog now are the photos I’ve scanned or have already digitally that haven’t yet been posted. And unscanned are still most of the slides in the metal boxes of slides I inherited from my father in 2001, photos of my parents’ early life an family trips while I was growing up.
ONGOING INDEFINITELY: Science Fiction Awards Database (sfadb.com)
Aside from the rankings described above, this project is simply to maintain the sfadb site as new awards data — nominations and winners — are announced.
ONGOING INDEFINITELY: Reading
Currently my reading consists mostly of reading or rereading many of the “classics” of science fiction, and of reading substantial nonfiction books, about science, philosophy, and religion. (For 30+ years we’ve been a golden age of substantial books written for the lay reader about these subjects, and I’ve amassed several hundred of them.) Ideally I’ll post comments about each book here on the blog, but I’m usually behind on those.
ONGOING INDEFINITELY: Reviews for Black Gate
In January 2020 at the invitation of the site’s editor, I began contributing biweekly essay-reviews of the classic sf books mentioned above to Black Gate. There have been interruptions due to hospital stays, but I plan to keep going as long as editor John O’Neill is open to them.
ONGOING INDEFINITELY, but with a potential conclusion: The Book
My provisional project is to write a book that integrates my Provisional Conclusions (based on life experience and reading all those nonfiction books), with close readings of foundational science fiction works, both novels and short fiction, to examine how science fiction works to anticipate and explore humanity’s ideas about reality and the future.
Update November 2020: The title will be Unfolding Infinity: Science Fiction as a Prism in the Dawn. The parallel with a well-known book by Carl Sagan is quite deliberate.
ONGOING, IF INCIDENTALLY: support for Locus Online (locusmag.com)
I founded this website in 1997 as the online counterpart to Locus magazine, for which I had doing a monthly review column since 1988. I ran the website pretty much single-handedly for 20 years, in that I controlled the design and manually posted the vast majority of pages, from news to reviews to various listings and indexes, some generated from MS Access databases. (By 2009 or so I began implementing parts of the site in Blogger, then WordPress, to allow the magazine staff to post directly, especially news.) The awards site (above) began as a section of Locus Online. In 2017 the publisher of the magazine and her staff took control of the site, with a redesign in WordPress that I did not have any say in and that I don’t particularly like (too many differently sized graphics; too many places on the homepage where new content might appear).
As of 2019 I still contribute a couple weekly listings, and I solicit and edit the reviews by Paul Di Filippo and Gary Westfahl. A history of my tenure, with a timeline and (at the bottom) images of what the site looked like over the years, is here: 20 Years of Locus Online.
While some of the routine chores (like index updates) may be transitioned to the Locus staff, I plan to continue posted occasional “blinks” and to solicit and edit Paul Di Filippo’s reviews.