Blog Archives

Whippets In Spaaaace, Week 3

The puppies continue to grow. With their mother as a convenient size reference, observe their terrifying growth rate. There’s starting to be a concern that these puppies are the whippet versions of Babe the Blue Ox. And we all know how that ended – in tragedy and a year’s worth of steak.

The puppies continue to grow. With their mother as a convenient size reference, observe their terrifying growth rate. There’s starting to be a concern that these puppies are the whippet versions of Babe the Blue Ox. And we all know how that ended – in tragedy and a year’s worth of steak.

Tepper the puppy recommends that you read Grass. Clearly this puppy is wise beyond her weeks.

Tepper the puppy recommends that you read Grass. Clearly this puppy is wise beyond her weeks.

It’s been a week, which means it’s time for another installment of Whippets In Spaaaaaace, the continuing mission of four puppies named after some of the greatest sci-fi authors of our day: to seek out new food and OM NOM NOM NOM. (sorry, that’s about as far as the puppies can go before they get distracted by eating)

Asaro disagrees with Tepper, because Asaro prefers space sagas, ship battles, and quantum physics. It is hard to argue with those points, Asaro.

Asaro disagrees with Tepper, because Asaro prefers space sagas, ship battles, and quantum physics. It is hard to argue with those points, Asaro.

There are actually some big changes going on, and not just in their size. The puppies are definitely more interested in the world around them. The plastic tub can still mostly contain them – well, except for Tepper when she’s feeling particularly motivated. This motivation often kicks in when someone is holding any other puppy than her, because Tepper has decided that she is the rightful owner of ALL THE CUDDLES. And as the largest puppy, she’s got an edge over the others. (and, let’s face it, she’s also the cutest. Her big brown eyes pierce my soul!)

Scalzi disagrees with both of his sisters, because he prefers his sci-fi with Star Trek jokes! And if Internet rumors are to be believed, there’s a network that agrees with him!

Scalzi disagrees with both of his sisters, because he prefers his sci-fi with Star Trek jokes!

Another interesting development is that now all of the puppies are showing an interest in human cuddling. They were fine with being picked up last week, but mostly it seemed to confuse them. They would kind of lie on your lap with little thought-bubbles like, “Wait, what’s going on? Why is my head being rubbed? Is there something to eat around here?” The whole situation seemed confusing to them. That’s changing – now when they see a human approaching, their activity level picks up and they scamper over to sniff hands and get head-rubs. Also a new development – they can scamper. During the last week some of that tricky giant belly/stubby legs issue got ironed out, and you’ll notice in the pictures that their legs seem a bit more in line with their general body size. It’s not a great scamper, mind you (there’s a lot of scamper-scamper-PLOP going on), but it’s impressive.
Brin, stretching, feeling grateful that I didn’t try to pose him with books.

Brin, stretching, feeling grateful that I didn’t try to pose him with books.

If they don’t get attention from humans, they’ve also discovered that crying can get them what they want. This is especially practiced by Scalzi, who, according to my mother, is the biggest crier of them all.

If they don’t get attention from humans, they’ve also discovered that crying can get them what they want. This is especially practiced by Scalzi, who, according to my mother, is the biggest crier of them all.

The last big development this week was that they are now actively playing with each other. Previously they would sometimes sit on each other, but it was hard to say exactly how deliberate that was. Things have moved into the realm of hopping onto each other, nipping, and kind of rolling around in a puppy pile. It’s pretty fun to watch.

And that’s pretty much it for this week of whippet development! In non-puppy news, there’s a giveaway for three copies of Iron Night, so you can enter to win one of those. I’ll also be signing the copies, so that’s kind of fun. Iron Night was also reviewed recently at Fantasy Book Café and All Things Urban Fantasy, and there’s also a fantastic review of Generation V over at Bibliotropic that I strongly recommend checking out. Finally, for those puppy-philes in the Rhode Island area – I’ll be doing a signing and reception at Books On The Square on February 28th. Since I’ve been told very specifically that they are “taking a chance on [me]”, spread the word if you live in Rhode Island and let’s see if we can change this bookstore’s mind about out-of-state speculative fiction authors!

The first rule about puppy fight club appears to be: lick everything in sight as much as possible.

The first rule about puppy fight club appears to be: lick everything in sight as much as possible.

Advertisements

Whippets In Spaaaaace, Week 2

Here are the puppies pictured with their mother for size reference. Quite a difference from a week ago!

Here are the puppies pictured with their mother for size reference. Quite a difference from a week ago!

Back at the end of January, my mother’s whippet, Jessie, had her litter of puppies. Mom made the fatal error of letting me name the puppies, resulting in a litter named after some of my favorite living sci-fi authors. Since whippets usually have large litters, and Jessie’s first litter consisted of eight puppies, I had originally expected to honor (if you call having a puppy named after you an honor – which, really, shouldn’t you?) several more authors. Bad luck, to Alastair Reynolds, who didn’t make the cut. (honestly thought there was one more puppy in that womb – oh, well. a whippet’s uterus is apparently a harsh mistress)

That’s Tepper – look at those inquisitive eyes! She’s the biggest puppy.

That’s Tepper – look at those inquisitive eyes! She’s the biggest puppy.

I also learned from that blog post that apparently adorable puppies + the names of famous sci-fi authors is blog hit gold. Who knew? (okay, apparently everyone knew except me) So here is an update!

This is Asaro. Her coloring is a bit lighter than Tepper’s. She’s easy to pick out when you’re looking at the litter from above, since she has a white diamond on her butt.

This is Asaro. Her coloring is a bit lighter than Tepper’s. She’s easy to pick out when you’re looking at the litter from above, since she has a white diamond on her butt.

Since the litter is half the size of a usual whippet whelping (say that ten times fast), the puppies don’t have to fight too hard for their meals, so they seem to be growing like a science experiment gone awry. I first saw them when they were two days old, and at that time they could lie in one hand. Now they are about the size of guinea pigs, and they require two hands to cuddle, due to all the puppy fat. Seriously, these puppies are so fat that they can barely lift themselves up. The only one who can maneuver with any kind of real agility (and even that is really being graded on a curve) is Scalzi, because Scalzi is the smallest puppy right now. By smallest I mostly mean “least fat.”

Brin has the darkest fur pattern -- it's a dark brown brindle. Here he is attempting jump the side of the tub.  (unsuccessfully -- no Uplift for you, puppy!)

Brin has the darkest fur pattern — it’s a dark brown brindle. Here he is attempting jump the side of the tub. (unsuccessfully — no Uplift for you, puppy!)

Seriously, these puppies are pretty much fat bellies, superfluous legs, and mouths.

That’s Tepper sitting on Asaro – the puppies are starting to play a little bit in those rare moments between eating or sleeping. Mostly this involves sitting on each other, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere. You can get a partial view of Asaro’s butt diamond in this picture.

That’s Tepper sitting on Asaro – the puppies are starting to play a little bit in those rare moments between eating or sleeping. Mostly this involves sitting on each other, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere. You can get a partial view of Asaro’s butt diamond in this picture.

You’ll notice from the photos that their faces are changing a bit. They don’t have the long nose of their mother yet, but they definitely have more of a snout than before. I’m sure in a few more weeks they’ll have long and inquisitive noses, the better to counter-cruise like mommy. Fun fact – their noses have the most incredibly soft and velvety fur.

They have also matured a little from when they were a week old, and existed solely for the purpose of eating, then napping to get the energy to eat some more. They’re still very focused on eating, but after they fill their bellies there will be about a five second period where they will look around inquisitively before taking a nap. Their eyes are open now, and they seem to recognize people. If they see a person and their mother isn’t around, they will now start making little puppy whimpers until you pick them up and cuddle them – I think this is a heat thing, though my mother has the heat in her house pretty cranked right now, and their little tub is full of blankets and a few heating pads. Once you pick the whimpering puppy up, they kind of snuggle against you for a second, then begin exploring any exposed skin for the possibility of a nipple. You know, just checking about dinner.

And that’s Scalzi, taking a snooze. It’s tough work to double your size in a week!

And that’s Scalzi, taking a snooze. It’s tough work to double your size in a week!

Every time my mother or I walk into the room, their poor mother hops out of the tub (it’s one of those plastic swimmy tubs – it helps contain both wiggly puppies and their urine) and runs into the corner where her big fluffy cushion is. She’ll give the most hysterical, “Oh, thank god you’re here. YOU deal with them for a while,” expression.

So concludes another thrilling adventure of whippets..... in spaaaace!

So concludes another thrilling adventure of whippets….. in spaaaace!

Whippets…… In Spaaaaaaaaace!

Whippet puppies!

Whippet puppies!

Congratulations to my mother’s dog Jessie Bell, who over the course of a very long day has had four puppies! (we’re not entirely sure if she’s done — there might be one still left in there, but since Jessie is now taking a break to eat dinner, it’s kind of a Shrodinger’s Puppy kind of situation)

My mother has agreed to let me name them (always the first mistake), so I have chosen to name these puppies in honor of some of the best living writers of sci-fi. (how did I choose this genre? well, in the interests of not being a total puppy naming hog, I chose the speculative genre that my brother and I both have the most overlap of interest in)

At the far left, and the first puppy born (and the one who looks most like Jessie in her coat pattern) is Asaro (named of course for Catherine Asaro, physicist and author of the amazing Saga of the Skolian Empire series). At the far right with the really funny spot pattern is Scalzi (named for John Scalzi, whose Old Man’s War series my brother and I both really love).

In the middle are Tepper (named for the amazing and prolific Sheri S. Tepper, whose books I discovered in graduate school and which utterly blew my mind) and Brin (named for Davin Brin, whose Uplift fantasy series is so beloved by my brother that he very seriously tried to get me to shlep all the books in the series down to WorldCon to get them signed). All puppy genders match their namesakes.

If there does end up being a Puppy #5, then it will be named (regardless of gender!) Reynolds — not for Mal of Firefly, but for Alastair Reynolds, because in my brother’s words about his book Pushing Ice, “Long journeys are the best journeys.” Let’s hope so, Possible Puppy #5! (I had the pleasure of being on a panel with Alastair Reynolds at Worldcon, and he is such an amazingly nice guy that I really hope he will not be INCREDIBLY CREEPED OUT by having Possible Puppy #5 named in his honor. I feel like Scalzi can accept this canine naming tribute in the spirit to which it is offered, and I have no basis to make a guess regarding Asaro, Tepper, and Brin, so I’m going to figure that what they won’t know certainly won’t hurt them).

There will be more photos to come over the next few weeks, but I hope that everyone enjoyed meeting Whippets…… in Spaaaaaace!

January 22 Update: Potential Puppy #5 turns out to be… not. Sorry, Alastair Reynolds! If she ever has another litter, you’ll be Definite Puppy #1!

Here’s a picture of Jessie and her 1-day-old puppies!

Scalzi is having breakfast, Asaro is snuggled in Jessie's front paws, and I'm honestly still having trouble telling Tepper and Brin apart, but they're the puppies bookending everything.

Scalzi is having breakfast, Asaro is snuggled in Jessie’s front paws, and I’m honestly still having trouble telling Tepper and Brin apart, but they’re the puppies bookending everything.

Whippets…… in spaaaaaace!

Back from WorldCon!

WorldCon items

That was a very busy weekend! I was lucky enough to meet a number of writers who I admire, several very lovely and kind fans of Generation V, and quite a few interesting and kind-hearted people who listened to my spiel and professed themselves very interested in checking out Generation V.

My cat gives my business card five lazy blinks of approval. Pretty heady, I know.

My cat gives my business card five lazy blinks of approval. Pretty heady, I know.

Now, as fast as I was handing out my cards and info, people were handing great cards and info back to me. Check out my collection!

WorldCon cards and items

Pretty nice, right? I know I have two of Taylor Anderson’s cards, but that’s because I ran into him twice – once at a party, and once at breakfast. What a great guy, with an absolutely fascinating skillset!

Definitely take a close look at the flier at the bottom – when I was doing my autographing session (which, actually, went very well – a combination of everyone’s love of free books, plus being seated next to the amazing Cat Rambo) I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk to Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, and they told me about their newest project – it’s a Kickstarter for a story-driven RPG that’s set in their Sime~Gen universe! Gamers, particularly the gamer ladies, this one is definitely one to take note of. You can check it out in more detail at
Ambrov X.

I’ll talk about the con (so much fun!) and San Antonio (seriously, San Antonio, what the hell is going on with that river? it looked like Chtulhu’s bathwater!) in a bit more detail later, but for now, I’m going to tell you about something important.

A quest.

A quest that happened when I suggested to my hard sci-fi loving brother that he check out the list of WorldCon attendees to see if there was anyone that he really liked, because I’d be happy to get a book signed for him. Well, it turned out that there were quite a few of my brother’s SF heroes at the con, and we entered into some fairly intense negotiations about exactly how many books I was willing to shlep down for him. (I drew the line at bringing David Brin’s entire Uplift series. Yes, I am heartless)

So my brother managed to narrow it down to his top five picks, which he then mailed to me from San Francisco. Here’s what that stack looked like:

Right now there are books in my brother’s apartment that simply will not even look at him, so disgusted are they that they didn’t make the cut.

Right now there are books in my brother’s apartment that simply will not even look at him, so disgusted are they that they didn’t make the cut.

I packed them into my bag, and took them down. Something to keep in mind – first, I made my brother prioritize them, just in case I had only a chance to get one signed and not another. Then he took it a little further and wrote up a post-it note for each one so that I could read it to the author to explain just why this book was beloved.

Okay, so I set myself up to go – firstly, I didn’t get down to WorldCon until Friday afternoon, which means that the first thing that happened was that I completely missed Joe Haldeman and David Brin’s signings. Nuts. Now, they both had programming later in the con, but the problem there was that I’d scheduled myself pretty tightly for most of the con and I actually didn’t get to go to many panels. (‘cuz I was there to, you know, *work*) And then I couldn’t find Greg Bear anywhere on the programming, and was told that he’d had to cancel at the last minute. Whoops. But that still left Gregory Benford, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Alistair Reynolds. And Alistair Reynolds was actually on my panel, so that seemed very doable!

So, the quest began. (impressive music) I flew down to San Antonio, got to the hotel room, and packed my shoulder bag for the day. Off I went to pick up my badge – and guess who was in front of me at the programming table? DAVID BRIN! And I was all, “FUCK, I left the book back in the room!” (which is probably something that David Brin is not un-used to hearing when people meet him) But he was absolutely lovely, and had a stack of fliers for his new book on him, so he personalized one of those for my brother. And then even let me take a photo with him. Awesome!

And then I realized about forty minutes later that I’d actually had the book in my bag at the time, and I screeched obscenities at myself for about five minutes. Good times! (seriously, the moral of this might be – I kind of suck at this thing) And I really tried, but I never saw David Brin again.

Which, in all honesty, isn’t surprising. I mean, somewhere a deity was just shaking Its head, all, “Seriously, ML? I arrange it so that the very first person you bump into at WorldCon is David Brin, who is your brother’s personal SF hero because of the Uplift series, AND that he’s in a good mood, and you completely fumble the moment? Forget any favors in the future.”

Bummer.

But after that I went the solid route – autographing lines. And I learned a few things – firstly, that autographing lines are actually a good way to meet some pretty neat and nice people. Secondly – there are people who are kind of in the business of getting autographs. There were people with *carts* of books! And lists! (at one point I was at the SFWA table, and after I introduced myself to a very nice woman, she pulled out her list to see if I was on it – it turns out that I was, but only sort of. She’d actually put *Marie* Brennan on her list, because she thought we were the same. This actually turned out to be kind of a theme, so I’ve made an adjustment to my FAQ sheet.)

This is Marie Brennan. I am definitely not Marie Brennan. I love her books, but all we have in common is the fantasy genre, potato-digging forebearers, and one letter of the alphabet.

This is Marie Brennan. I am definitely not Marie Brennan. I love her books, but all we have in common is the fantasy genre, potato-digging forebearers, and one letter of the alphabet.

I also learned that it’s usually kind of important to get to the autographing line a little early. That way you can save some time. But on Friday I was able to get two of my brother’s books signed!

See? That’s Gregory Benford holding my brother’s book post-signature, and that’s David Brin *thinking* about my brother’s book. Or, you know, space. Or cheese.

See? That’s Gregory Benford holding my brother’s book post-signature, and that’s David Brin *thinking* about my brother’s book. Or, you know, space. Or cheese.

Single-author books are a bit easier. That’s Kim Stanley Robinson, who was very nice about me fucking up the first photo and having to re-take.

Single-author books are a bit easier. That’s Kim Stanley Robinson, who was very nice about me fucking up the first photo and having to re-take.

Then on Saturday I went to my panel on writing horror. It was very fun, very sharply moderated, and there were some pretty cool questions from the audience. One interesting thing that came out was that all five of the authors sitting on this panel were completely obsessed with non-fiction accounts of Himalayan mountain climbers – particularly when someone loses fingers or a nose to frostbite and then keeps climbing. Make of that what you will, but to those of you who like getting writing advice? Apparently you should be reading Into Thin Air and watching some documentaries.

Anyway, it was lots of fun, and then at the end Alistair Reynolds was very lovely and signed my brother’s book!

We were getting kicked out of the room so that the next group could come in, but he even took the time to reference the post-it note!

We were getting kicked out of the room so that the next group could come in, but he even took the time to reference the post-it note!

That was basically the end to the quest. However, my brother did have one specific desire to make his nerd life complete, and that was a photo of Benson, Brin, and Bear all together. And I completely delivered.

This might look photo-shopped, but I assure you, all three of these men were standing together! It was just a very complicated room design!

This might look photo-shopped, but I assure you, all three of these men were standing together! It was just a very complicated room design!