deep thoughts

Changed my Mind

This week I was a guest on the Changed my Mind podcast, hosted by Luke T. Harrington, the award-winning author of Ophelia, Alive: A Ghost Story and Murder Bears, Moonshine, and Mayhem.

As you might guess from the name, the podcast is devoted to interviews with people who’ve changed their minds about something important. In this episode, Luke and I talk about why I left the Lutheran church. I’ve discussed this publicly a few times before, most notably in a speech I gave at the 2010 Calvin College Festival of Faith & Writing, but for a lot of fans I suspect this will be new, and may give some additional insight into why and how I write the kinds of novels that I do.

If you enjoy my conversation with Luke, I’d highly recommend you check out his other podcast episodes. The “loss of faith” interviews — such as the ones with Ryssa Marshall, Yons, and Calvin Moore — tend to be particularly interesting. I also really enjoyed the Halloween episode with Christian Tiews, a Lutheran exorcist, which I did not know was a thing (though having discovered that it is, I am unsurprised to learn that Lutheran exorcists think their version of the rite is superior to the Roman Catholic version).

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88 Names: the Big Idea

This morning I have an essay up on John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, talking about the Big Idea behind 88 Names. You can read it here. (While you’re visiting Whatever, you can also check out my two previous Big Idea essays, about Lovecraft Country and The Mirage.)

And speaking of big things (he segued flawlessly), next Tuesday I’ll be playing the character of Mr. Big, aka Alvin Peaseblossom, a 4th level gnome rogue adventuring in the cursed city of Drakkenheim on the Dungeon Dudes’ Twitch stream. The fun starts at 3 PM Pacific / 6 PM Eastern.

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Lovecraft Country: the Big Idea

I wrote an essay about Lovecraft Country for The Big Idea over at John Scalzi’s Whatever blog. It’s up today, and you can read it here. (And if you’re feeling nostalgic, you can also check out my 2012 Big Idea essay for The Mirage.) Thanks to John for the space!


Last night’s reading at Third Place Books in Seward Park was a lot of fun. If you missed it, your next chance to see me live will be on Tuesday, March 21, at 7 PM, when I’ll be appearing “in conversation” with my friend Nisi Shawl, author of Everfair, at Elliott Bay Book Company.

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Speaking to America’s youth

One of them, anyway:

Today I have a guest blog post over at Dear Teen Me, which has authors write letters to their younger selves. This is a fun game if you play it straight. I tried to stick to advice that my younger self would actually listen to, or at least pretend to listen to.

Hunting for a photo to accompany the piece, I discovered that I’ve got a lot of pictures of me as a toddler and a lot of me in college, but not so many of me as a teenager. Fortunately someone—probably Dad—snapped this shot of me at my IBM Selectric II. If you look on the right at the blue box, you can see the alternate font balls that allowed you to type in italics and boldface.

Also online this week, an interview I did with Norelle Done for her Seattle Wrote blog, which profiles local authors. You can read that here.

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The Mirage: the Big Idea

This morning I have a Big Idea essay up on John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, explaining some of the thoughts behind the making of The Mirage. You’ll find the essay here. My thanks to Mr. Scalzi for the opportunity.

Also, a quick programming reminder: I’ll be appearing at Elliott Bay Book Company tonight at 7 PM to read from and talk about the novel. If the Big Idea catches your interest and you’re in the neighborhood, feel free to come by the bookstore and ask me some questions.

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Yes, says Wikipedia, dreams do come true

So in the course of researching a plot-point, I discovered that Wikipedia has an entry titled “Reproduction and pregnancy in speculative fiction,” which opens with the following (emphasis added):

Because speculative genres explore variants of reproduction, as well as possible futures, SF writers have often explored the social, political, technological, and biological consequences of pregnancy and reproduction. However many SF writers have used their dreams for their inspiration, and dreams are known to provide prophetic content for everyone that has used them.

I find this noteworthy because I had a dream last night that I was sitting next to Kathryn Bigelow when she won her director’s Oscar for The Hurt Locker, and while I can imagine ways in this dream would prove prophetic, they all involve either time travel, an oscillating universe, or brains in vats.

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I think we want one. Lisa and I are still discussing whether the extra cost of the 3G would be worth it, since 95% of the time we’d be using it in the house, and if we did bring it along on a trip it’d most likely be to use it as a preloaded reading device.

About the name, I’ve heard the iTampon jokes (my favorite so far is the one about the iPad with wings), but honestly it seems fine to me. Of the two most obvious alternatives, iSlate sounds too much like “Isolate,” and iTablet feels clunky, a break with the naming convention of using “i” plus a single-syllable noun.

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Does the universe have a birthdate?

Via jaylake, Andrew Wheeler notes that yesterday was the 6012th anniversary of God’s creation of the Earth, according to James Ussher’s chronology.

These days, of course, the enlightened view is that God did not create the Earth 6012 years ago, but rather that the universe sprang into existence for unknown and possibly unknowable reasons approximately 13.7 billion years ago.

But thinking about Archbishop Ussher got me wondering: Whether or not it could ever actually be calculated, does the universe, under Big Bang theory, have a birthdate? Your typical Big Bang chronology lists various events — e.g., the formation of the first atoms — occurring X number of seconds or minutes after the Big Bang, which suggests that time as we understand it goes back to the beginning, which further suggests that at least in principle, you could extend modern-day calendars backwards and say “Yeah, the universe began on such-and-such a Friday in the Year Whatever, BCE.” (In practice, of course, the information you’d need to do this might not be obtainable.)

Modern physics is nothing if not counterintuitive, though, so the above is quite possibly wrong. Anybody out there know?

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