Posts by Lawrence:

Eating Authors: Terry Mixon

Written on November 11th, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
AUTHOR

I don’t know about you, but I’ve a pretty full day today. It begins with an early morning visit to my cancer center for a blood draw and some chemo — because who doesn’t like starting the week with a belly injection? Then I have a plane to catch for Las Vegas where I’ll be spending the week attending the 20Books conference, an intense event that focuses on indie author life, self-publishing, and the business of selling books. I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends there, and meeting up with new people whom I’ve only known online or in the pages of shared anthologies.

And in the way suggested by segues since the dawn of time, one of those new people just so happens to be this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Terry Mixon. He writes Military SF, doubtless drawing on his experience from having served in the 101st Airborne Division and later working in the Mission Control Center at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

Like a lot of indie authors, Terry doesn’t just write novels, he writes series, or as he prefers to call them, “sagas.” If you’re not already familiar with his work, check out his Humanity Unlimited saga, as well as his Empire of Bones saga (currently at ten books!).

Other than that, all I know about Terry is he has cats and lives in Texas. I’ll try to learn a bit more over the next few days. Maybe we’ll even have time to share a meal, though as you’ll shortly read, he sets a pretty high bar.

LMS: Welcome, Terry. Before we both head off to Las Vegas, tell me about your most memorable meal.

TM: I’m not much of a gourmet. Honestly, I’m a picky eater that despises vegetables and just doesn’t have much interest in food beyond the boring basics, prepared the way I like them. I’m the proverbial meat and potatoes man. So, it probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone that knows me that my favorite meals (two of them) have nothing at all to do with the food served at them, but rather the company sharing it with me.

Empire of Bones

Earlier this year, I attended a three-day gathering of writers in Napa, California to talk shop and let our hair down. We had a couple of fancy meals together as a group, one catered and the other at an upscale restaurant.

The foods served were beyond the pale of my plebian tastes. I’m sure they were excellent, but I couldn’t even tell you what the dishes were. Heck, I don’t really remember caring as I was eating them. I was too engrossed with the tablemates that I had corralled by deftly stalking them as they were sitting down.

The first meal was with a writer that I absolutely adore: David Weber (and his lovely wife Sharon). I honestly want to be him when I grow up, and I can hardly hazard a guess at how many times his work has inspired and entertained me.

I sat directly beside him for hours, listening to him talk about his creations and other anecdotes that delighted me as a writer and storyteller. He was a raconteur without equal and held me spellbound the entire time. I doubt I said more than a dozen sentences all told, which would shock all my friends.

Liberty Station

The meal ended far too soon, even though we stayed until they kicked us out, and even then, I stood in the hallway and listened to him regale a few of us for a few hours more. I only left when exhaustion dragged me to my bed.

The other meal was with the incredibly prolific and talented Kevin J. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta, who is also a writer. I sat across from them in a fancy restaurant talking business and any number of other topics. Basically, wherever the conversation led us. I think I managed to actually hold up my end of the talking this time. It was great fun.

Those two meals eclipse any others that I’ve had before or since. For me, moments like those are far more satisfying than some transient bits of food that are easily forgotten. Those conversations had a lasting impact on me that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. Now, isn’t that what a great meal is all about?

Thanks, Terry. And yes, it’s conversations like these that can take any meal and elevate it to greatness. Personally though, I kind of like the food portion too (though again, we’re in total agreement about the vegetables).

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

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Eating Authors: Felix R. Savage

Written on November 4th, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
Felix R. Savage

I have to say, last week was pretty good. I had more energy, consistently, day after day, then I’ve had in two months. This also manifested in a lot of writing, and believe me there was much rejoicing. Also, feedback from various doctors indicate that I’m responding well to my chemotherapy and also that the gaping holes in my femur (caused by the cancer destroying bone tissue) are beginning to fill back in with new bone cells, inside and out. In celebration of these positive developments, come this Saturday, I’ll be popping over to Philcon for the morning to appear on a panel, give a reading, and do a signing. If you’re at the convention I hope you’ll come see me.

On person who I’m confident will not be dropping in on me on Saturday is this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, for the simple reason that he lives in Japan. And yes, that was your official segue; pretty slick, right? Anyway, I’m fairly certain — in a conventional wisdom kind of way, as opposed to empiricism from having actually met him — that Felix R. Savage, does not in fact possess the head of a cat. I’m willing to accept on face value (see what I did there?) that he’d simply prefer not to make it any easier for face recognition algorithms to further erode his privacy. Which explanation you prefer may depend on whether you’re more into fantasy or science fiction.

The other thing you need to know about Felix is that he doesn’t fit into a single science fiction niche. He writes hard SF (like his Extinction Protocol series). He writes humorous SF/space opera (check out his A Cauldron of Stars series). He writes SF techno-thrillers set in space (e.g., his Earth’s Last Gambit series). The man is everywhere! And yes, you’ll also find him in that massive anthology, The Expanding Universe 5, that I’ve been drawing on for many other recent guests here. As far as I know, he’s the only one in that work with a cat head though, so he still stands out.

LMS: Welcome, Felix. What stands out for you as your most memorable meal?

FRS: My brain is usually too busy churning through the Big Questions of life—what if microbes are discovered on Mars? How can I get Yusaku Maezawa to pick me for the #DearMoon mission? Does the baby need her nappy changed?—to notice what I’m putting in my mouth. In fact I have eaten the same thing for lunch every day for several years, a very tasty … um … uh … What would happen if a giant solar flare hit the ISS?

The Chemical Mage

I’m a science maven and crazy about space, so it comes as a surprise to some to learn that I’m also a traditional Catholic. Interestingly, my Catholic faith and my love of science took root at more or less the same time, about fifteen years ago. It’s all part of my ongoing quest for truth in whatever form it might take: factual, historical, ontological, or experimentally validated and peer-reviewed. Life, after all, is a reciprocal process of accepting help from others and paying it forward. I feel the love from the Communion of Saints and also from countless scientists around the world doing their bit to expand our understanding of this grand old universe, and I try to pay it forward by writing the best books I can, as well as by changing nappies, taking the whole gang to Mass, and cooking the occasional … um … uh … Why couldn’t we build a BIG SLING to launch payloads from the moon?

Guardians of Jupiter

(That’s the core question of my upcoming hard-SF novel from Aethon Books. Stay tuned!)

Conversion is hard. It took me years to give up being an insufferable twerp who wrote millions of words of crap, and become a happy sci-fi writer with thousands of happy readers. But truth, once apprehended, cannot be resisted. It’s a positive joy to accept that one’s purpose in life is to serve. So it was that one rainy night in central Tokyo, in a wooden-paneled chapel, I bowed my head for the trickle of water, sipped from the chalice, and ate the morsel of bread. It tasted like spiced gold. Nothing has ever tasted like that before or since. That’s one meal I will remember all my life!

Now, what if … Come on, Maezawa! You HAVE to pick at least one sci-fi writer! Wouldn’t it be cool if I could experience my next memorable meal in orbit around the moon?

Thanks, Felix. I have to wonder if being in space would improve the likelihood of you remembering what you had for lunch. Then again, I suspect the chance to received communion in space would sear the event to your core and go beyond memorable to transformative. Where do I go to send Maezawa my vote?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

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Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

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Eating Authors: Stephanie Mylchreest

Written on October 28th, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
Stephanie Mylchreest

So here’s this cool thing. An unexpected side effect of having a story in Craig Martelle’s The Expanding Universe 5 is that it’s been exposing me to some wonderful writers I didn’t know existed. To make up for that lack I’ve been reaching out and inviting them (as you may have noticed in recent weeks) to share their most memorable meal with you.

FYI, that was your official segue.

This week’s EATING AUTHORS guest comes to your from that same anthology with a sweet tale. Stephanie Mylchreest is the author of the four (so far) book Insularity series, a blending of post-apocalyptic fiction, space opera and dystopia. Think of it as three scoops in a waffle (surely not a sugar) cone. Personally, I’m a little too stressed in real life to read much in this area. That probably just means I’m a wuss, because I know plenty of people who thrive on this kind of thing. If that describes you, and you haven’t previously discovered Steph, congratulations here’s a new series to add to your To Be Read list.

LMS: Welcome, Stephanie. Please tell me about your most memorable meal.

SM: As a new vegan, I had been researching the best vegan restaurants in New York City for months. My husband and I had planned a trip there from Dubai, where we were living at the time, when I was thirty-five weeks pregnant with our first child.

Greenhouse

Dubai was an incredible place to live. Like a mirage, the jagged city skyline rises out of the rolling desert. A huge fourteen-lane highway—Sheikh Zayed Road—slices the city down the middle. Bumper to bumper traffic, ebbing and flowing like a living beast, rushes people along. There are so many faces of Dubai, so many people trying to make a better life for themselves in the glitzy, sand-swept metropolis.

Stepping off the plane into busy John F. Kennedy Airport was intense. As we joined the monstrous line of people, the woman in uniform smiled at me, “Come over here, you can join the priority line.” So my huge, protruding belly ushered us through the immigration queue, and soon we were in our yellow taxi racing towards the city. After being in the monochrome desert, the vitality and color of Manhattan was a welcome change.

We rented a charming apartment in the middle of Greenwich Village, chasing the New York life for the sliver of time we were there. We were so close to the beating heart of the city, we could feel the vibrations from the subway each time a train barreled past. And just a few doors down from our window, in 1963, Bob Dylan took that famous walk with Suze Rotolo for the cover of Freewheelin’.

Glasshouse

We sought out the most interesting vegan cafes and restaurants I could find. “There’s an ice cream parlor we have to go to on the Lower East Side.”

“There isn’t a closer one?”

“This one is supposed to be epic!”

My husband, ever the good sport, traipsed all over Manhattan with me, searching out Italian hoagie, crispy fried not-chicken, cashew nut mac ‘n’ cheese… the dishes and places I’d spent months dreaming about. We ate the most incredible food, vegan or otherwise, that I’ve ever tasted.

But what was the most memorable meal from that trip?

Hothouse

Jet lag hit us hard. I blame the pregnancy exhaustion. I’m not sure what my husband’s excuse was. Whatever the cause, by 5 p.m. each day we were sprawled on our bed, the curtains drawn, snoring to the ambient sounds of the Village below.

Early to sleep means early to rise, and for the city that never sleeps, finding something for breakfast at 4 a.m. was surprisingly difficult. And this leads to the most memorable meal on our gastronomic tour of New York City.

There we were: 5 a.m., the corner of 6th Avenue and Waverly. A Starbucks filled with bleary-eyed customers on their way home from the night before. My husband and I holding hands across the sticky table, my belly pressed against the edge, our son wriggling and kicking inside. A flimsy plastic spoon in my hand, a small cardboard tub of creamy oats in front of me.

He smiled as he passed the packet of brown sugar, “Do you want the fruit and nuts?”

“Yes, please.” It was sweet, warm, and perfect. A moment, a meal, seared forever in my memory.

Thanks, Stephanie. Oats. There’s something primal and comforting. Whether you doctor it with honey or sugar, butter or salt, fruit or nuts, or just slurp up plain, it satisfies and fortifies. But next time, try the groats!

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Rachel Aukes

Written on October 21st, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
Rachel Aukes

If things go as planned, I’ve returned from a successful trip down to the greater D.C. area and enjoyed the company of many friends and fans and colleagues at Capclave, and now I am resting comfortably, basking in the experience. I won’t be sleeping in this Monday morning because there’s a nurse practitioner who is looking forward to jabbing me in the belly with a needle before 8am, and I hate to disappoint her.

Be that as it may, before my weekend began I prepped this week’s EATING AUTHORS post in advance because I didn’t want to leave you hanging. Alas, I failed to come up with a suitable segue, so I’m just going to come out and tell you that this week’s guest is Rachel Aukes, another of the talented authors sharing the ToC of last month’s The Expanding Universe 5 anthology.

Rachel writes both short and long, with stories that have made her a Wattpad Star and several novels series to her credit (including the Fringe series, the Colliding Worlds trilogy, and the Deadland Saga). As if that weren’t enough, she also writes about being a writer, as demonstrated by her latest work, The Tidy Guide to Writing a Novel.

When she’s not pounding out the words, she can be found flying old airplanes into the Iowa sunset. It’s unclear from her bio if her 50-pound lap dog flies with her, but I like to think so. Dogs deserve a little air time too.

LMS: Welcome, Rachel. What stands out as your most memorable meal?

RA: I love traveling and one of the things I love most about traveling is the opportunity to try new cuisines. I’ve had many adventures, some memorable for their flavors, some for the atmosphere, some for the company. My most memorable meal came from my first time at a Brazilian churrascaria.

I was on vacation in Rio de Janeiro with my husband and two friends. The concierge at the hotel recommended something that loosely translated into “barbeque,” which is a type of food I’d never, ever turn down. We walked for many blocks before we came to a nondescript, outdoor restaurant. We entered to discover what was a bustling buffet, which we enjoyed sampling (Brazil is famed for its variety of fruits).

Fringe Runner

A multitude of servers walked around tables, and each server carried a different meat that they’d slice and serve on the spot. I tried at least a half-dozen meats during that visit. Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and others I couldn’t identify. Fortunately, the serving sizes were small so I could sample so many. Every ten minutes or so, a waiter would stop by to wipe condensation from our water glasses. We sat there for what must’ve been hours, laughing over stories and gorging on delectable foods under a beautiful Brazilian night sky.

I’ve since seen churrascarias arise across the United States, and every time I do, I fondly remember the first churrascaria I visited. None of the churrascarias I’ve dined at since have had the magical perfection of that first restaurant, but I suppose if I returned to the same one, it wouldn’t be the same as I remember so perfectly in my mind.

It couldn’t be. A lot changes in fifteen years. I doubt I could even find the churrascaria again. And even if I could, one of the friends who’d gone with us has since died, the other has moved to Hong Kong.
And so I have no plans to return and will instead remember the perfect memory of good food with good friends.

Thanks, Rachel. I confess, I love a a good Brazillian steakhouse, though I rarely visit them. For me, the delight of the meal always carries the cost of a full night and day of meat sweats. Deliciously self-destructive.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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My Tentative Philcon 2019 Schedule

Written on October 14th, 2019 by
Categories: News
Philcon

In just a few days I’ll be away at Capclave, but in less than a month it will be time for Philcon. I have another trip that starts the Monday after Philcon, and so to conserve energy I’ll only be at the convention for a single day, Saturday, November 9th. If you think you see me there on Friday or Sunday, it’s probably not me but some alien doppleganger, so please take appropriate precautions. But on Saturday, here’s where I’m currently expected to be:

Saturday, November 9th
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. | Plaza III | Linguistics in Science Fiction
SF & F writers sometimes invent entire imaginary languages. Sometimes they imply imaginary languages with consistent names. Sometimes they even depict alien thought patterns on the basis of imaginary languages. How much is faking it and how much requires real knowledge?
with Vikki Ciaffone (mod), Aaron Rosenberg, abd Anna Kashina]

12:00 p.m. – 01:00 p.m. | Executive Suite 623 | Readings: Three Authors
This year, in its infinite wisdom, Philcon is meeting the demand from its author guests by cramming them in threes into the hour-long Readings slot, referring to it as 20 minutes each, but ignoring the need to end before the top of the hour or allow time for audience members to get settled in the venue. So, more like 15 minutes each. Maybe. Foolishly, they’ve made me the “moderator” of my time slot, which means I get to choose the reading order. I”m telling you now, I’m going first, so show up on time. And then, please stay for my fellow authors who got stuck in the same time slot as me. Thanks.
with Michael A. Ventrella, and Elektra Hammond

1:00 p.m. – 200 p.m.| Crystal Ballroom Promenade | Signing
Much as with the readings, the convention is this year packing three authors (instead of the usual two) into the signing slot. No problem. I’ll be there ready to sign all the things. I should also have a nice assortment of books for you to purchase, in case you forgot to bring me something to sign (I’m helpful that way). In particular, I expect to have copies of the relaunched titles in the Amazing Conroy series. They’re very shiny. You want one of each. Really.
with Michael A. Ventrella, Jay Smith Hodges

And that’s it. I asked the kind folks in programming to keep it light for me as I don’t know how much energy I’m going to have and they came through.

My current plan is to slink off from my signing to have a late lunch with an old friend, and then maybe come back and chill in the lobby for a while (assuming I have sufficient spoons). Seriously, the lobby is the place to be. All the cool kids are there. Join us.

Eating Authors: A. M. Scott

Written on October 14th, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
A. M. Scott

Last month I had the privilege of being part of ‘The Expanding Universe 5 anthology edited by Craig Martelle. Not surprisingly, it has a definite Military-SF slant and many of the authors who contributed to it have done tours of service, quite a few in the Marines. An indie anthology, I’d not encountered most of the authors previously and it’s opened me up to a huge number of new books. Naturally, I began reaching out to these authors, inviting them to share a memorable meal.

Which is your segue into this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest. A.M. Scott put in twenty years with US Air Force space operations. It’s proved to be good background, as she’s traded real world satellites for fictional spacecraft. She’s the author of the Folding Space Series, currently at five books and counting.

Under other circumstances, I’d tell you that she’s an active volunteer in Team Rubicon, but she’s about to do so far more eloquently than I could.

LMS: Welcome, Anne Marie. Tell me about your most memorable meal.

AMS: Narrowing down to just one memorable meal is challenging. I could write about my childhood Easter dinners, roasting a whole lamb on a spit and hunting Easter eggs with my extended family. Or eating the fabulous, cheap food in the restaurants just outside Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey where I was deployed at the turn of the century. Or the incredibly fresh and delicious Kiwanis Club Halibut Fry on Kodiak Island, Alaska, where I got to watch a missile launch, and then squealed and hid like a little kid when I spotted one of my previous bosses there, the woman I so affectionately call the “Wicked Witch of the West, PhD.” Or any number of meals in the backcountry of Colorado, Alaska, Montana and other western states with my husband of twenty-six years, the Amazing Sleeping Man. Or the dining experiences Chef Loreli cooks up in my novels–I’d love to actually eat one of those!

Lightwave: Clocker

But my most memorable meal was a little over five years ago on a picnic table in the smoke-filled air of Pateros, Washington. I don’t remember what we actually ate, only that it was warm, bland and filling, served in a white styrofoam container from a Red Cross van. In the summer of 2014, much of Pateros burned to the ground in a wildfire. Earlier that spring, I’d joined a fairly new volunteer organization called Team Rubicon–and yes, it’s named after the river Caeser crosses. Team Rubicon (TR) started in 2010 after the Haiti earthquakes. A couple of Marines wanted to help the survivors, but being Marines, they didn’t want to wait for any of the traditional disaster relief organizations to get started–they wanted to help now. They found a few other folks, loaded up a bunch of medical supplies, got to the Dominican Republic and from there, to Haiti. You can read the whole story on their website at https://teamrubiconusa.org/story/. Those Marines did a fantastic job and decided military veterans and disaster relief were a perfect match. They were right. We know how to get stuff done, we’re used to austere environments, and we’re built to serve.

Team Rubicon

There were some hiccups along the way, and still are, that’s the nature of volunteer organizations. On my first Team Rubicon deployment in 2014, the leadership at Pateros had no idea I was coming. I showed up at the Red Cross shelter where they were staying, totally clueless and bewildered. One of the other volunteers told me to pick a cot and what time breakfast started, then went to bed at 8:00 pm–I really wondered what I’d gotten myself into. The next morning, I followed the crowd through breakfast and to the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Pateros. I was assigned to Disaster Assessments, and spent the day driving through a scorched, blackened landscape, where cars melted into puddles and houses were nothing but piles of ash. I talked to disaster survivors who’d lost everything they owned. In the following days, I helped clean up some of those sites, sifting through the ash for valuables and keepsakes for the homeowners, and I helped the command staff keep everything organized. I met a lot of great people. I had the best coffee, ever, made on the picnic tables at the FOB by the IsraAid folks working with us. And I too, went to bed fulfilled and exhausted at 8:00 pm every night for the next week.

On my last full day there, a couple of the guys who had been a part of Team Rubicon almost from the start sat down next to me at lunch. I’d talked to them a little during the week, but they were both in leadership and busy trying to keep everything organized. The twenty or so volunteers at those picnic tables ate, joking around, tossing insults and putdowns like military people always do. At the end of lunch, Breaux and Jordan said, “Hey, AM, you’re the only Team Rubicon member we know from Montana. Want to be the State Coordinator?” I said yes!

Lightwave: The Sisters of Cygnus

In 2014, there were ninety-eight members in Montana. It’s been a really challenging job but we’re now at 432 volunteers in the state, and over 100,000 nationwide. Team Rubicon Global has teams in Canada, the UK, Norway, Sweden, and Australia, and there are more countries in the works. We help disaster survivors with cleanup and help communities to prepare for disasters with mitigation operations across the US. TR has the only US volunteer-based World Health Organization certified medical relief team. We’ve got a huge effort going in the Bahamas right now and another in Houston. I’ve personally run multiple operations in Montana, including filling over 100,000 sandbags in Missoula last year to help homeowners along the Clark Fork River. I’ve deployed to North Carolina to run a chainsaw, removing downed trees from homes, Houston to pull the muck of floods out of houses and to Colorado for multiple operations and events. I’m fortunate to have the capability and TR training to help survivors during the terrible aftermath of a disaster.

I also have friends across the country and the world, and TR friends on Facebook I’ve never met in person. But I know them–those Greyshirts, both military and civilian, are part of my TRibe. The TRibe that makes the food at my most memorable meal completely irrelevant. And I can’t wait to join them on another operation, because the PBJs or MREs won’t be memorable, but the people I’m eating with, my TRibe, will be.

Thanks, Anne Marie. I have no problem being convinced that MREs aren’t memorable, but PB&J? C’mon, we’re talking the pinacle of comfort food! Full disclosure, in recent weeks I’ve discovered the incredible, ready-to-go “Uncrustables” from Smuckers, and I am replete.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Clara Martin

Written on October 7th, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
Clara Martin

Earlier this year, I took on the role of mentor for another writer, Brian Thorne, and together we’ve been working on two different series of books. Despite the surprise change in my health status, I’m still hoping you’ll see the first results of these efforts before the year’s end. I tell you this because it’s a segue to this week’s EATING AUTHOR guest. You see, Brian recently brought Clara Martin to my attention. Like Brian, Clara is a veteran, and just a few weeks ago released her first novel, Kingdom of the Northern Sun, the first volume of her Revolution series.

As she mentions below, Clara grew up as a Navy brat and perforce moved around a lot, both within the US and country to country. She ultimately jumped ship (see what I did there?) and joined the Army and attended the University of Virginia on an Army ROTC scholarship. After four years of service, she found herself medically retired. A civilian again, she became a Sexual Assault Specialist, a substitute teacher, and most recently a novelist.

But service still defines who she is. She’s volunteered on the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network, the IMAlive Crisis Chatline, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. She’s also a proud member of Team Rubicon, a disaster relief nonprofit composed of veterans, first responders, and kick-ass civilians. And did I mention? 10% of the sales of this first novel go to IMAlive and Team Rubicon.

LMS: Welcome, Clara. Congratulations on your debut novel. But now, let’s get down to it, what’s your most memorable meal?

CM: When I was eleven, my best friend took me out to eat.

We lived in Japan at the time – Navy brat! – and Fumiko’s father owned a sushi bar. Fumiko, several years older than I, thought I needed to Experience Japanese Culture. So, one night she invited me to her father’s sushi bar for dinner.

Kingdom of the Northern Sun

I was a bit nervous, but gamely went along; I’d been learning Japanese and thought this the perfect time to practice it. We got to the bar, a small, brightly lit place, with a long counter running from one end to the other; we sat down, our reflections peering back at ourselves from the glass separating us from the cook; and Fumiko pointed out what she thought I should order on the laminated menus in front of us. I nodded, and, in my best Japanese, told the cook. He peered curiously at my face – and brought out a dish of raw fish, piled high on rice.

I swallowed. That wasn’t what I had intended to order. I thought I’d been getting steamed fish wrapped in seaweed roll. That had been what Fumiko had suggested… too late now.

Carefully, I picked a piece up with a chopstick.

And dropped it on my pants.

Thanks, Clara. As a huge sushi fan, I weep for that lost morsel. Such an epic tradgedy. It’s the kind of moment that can define a person’s entire life. Fortunately, this is why we have time machines. Oh, wait, never mind, sorry, I’m not supposed to talk about that.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Wil McCarthy

Written on September 30th, 2019 by
Categories: Plugs
Wil McCarthy

I suspect that the first time I met Wil was back in 2002 at the Nebula Awards in Kansas City, where his novel The Collapsium (the first book in what would become his The Queendom of Sol series) was a nominee for Best Novel.

Wil is very much a science guy. He’s the science columnist for Syfy, but probably has no control over the continuing production of Sharknado films. He also cofounded RavenBrick, a materials science company that developed thermochromic filter technology for managing solar heat gain in windows (as one does). Given that background, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the concept of “wellstone” from much of his fiction is also a real thing: Programmable Matter, physical material with the capability of information processing. Living in the future!

After a long absence from publishing novels, he returns, tomorrow, with a new book, Antediluvian, a time travel tale unlike any you’ve seen before. I’m quite excited to read it!

LMS: Welcome, Wil. What comes to mind as your most memorable meal?

WM: It was 1990 in Kagoshima, Japan, on the island of Kyushu. I had just visited the Uchinoura Space Center, one of two locations from which the Japanese launch rockets into space, and I was eating in a seafood restaurant (which in Japan is simply known as a “restaurant”) when I noticed they had fugu as an option on the menu. This was exciting and a little scary, as I had recently read Wade Davis’ The Serpent and the Rainbow, and was well aware that fugu was made from the most toxic parts of the very toxic pufferfish. Packed with tetrodotoxin, it was the raw material for a Voodoo witch doctor’s drug that could put people in a cataleptic state indistinguishable from clinical death, and sometimes led to actual clinical death. The Japanese, God love ’em, serve it as a delicacy at the fanciest of sushi bars.

Antediluvian

This takes years of training to do safely — the raw meat is so toxic that even touching it can kill you. However, these expert chefs have learned (presumably through horrific trial and error over a period of many centuries) how to detoxify the meat so that instead of killing you or putting you in a deathlike trance, it, you know, gets you high. Although deaths do still sometimes occur, and you have to sign a waiver in order to dine.

The dish was expensive (about a hundred bucks in 1990 — roughly equivalent to a new car today), and consisted of several distinct components: the sushi, the sashimi, the pâté, and the eyes. Fish eyes are gross; I’d eaten them before, but wasn’t eager to again, so I left those alone, and nibbled daintily on the rest of it, washing it down (perhaps ill-advisedly) with a Sapporo Light. At this point, I began to feel a little weird and paranoid, so even though I was there with people, I took out a pen and scribbled a note onto a cocktail napkin: “I HAVE EATEN FUGU. IF I APPEAR TO BE DEAD, PLEASE DO NOT BURY ME.” I spoke conversational Japanese at an idiot level, but couldn’t write it, so the note was in English. I slipped it into my front pocket, where any coroner would surely find it before commencing with the actual autopsy.

The Collapsium

Thus prepared, I set off with my group of associates to explore the town a bit. The fugu high isn’t one I recommend; as I walked down the sidewalk, I felt a peculiar sense of dissociation, almost an out of body experience. My body walked down the sidewalk, and my awareness floated along with it, physically overlapping but not actually connected. Worryingly, my lips were numb. I was capable of speech, but slurred a bit, as if I’d had a couple of stiff belts of whiskey, and I didn’t really want to talk. I didn’t really want anything.

Did I survive the experience? In this universe, yes, although I went to bed that night still feeling off-kilter, and awoke with a headache. Am I glad I did it? Definitely. Would I do it again? Probably not, although it’s worth considering that my most memorable meal was more than half my life ago. Maybe I’ve been living too tamely.

Thanks, Wil. I have to say, fugu makes my list of foods that I’m hard pressed to understand how or why someone said “hey, this would be good to eat.” Move over lutefisk.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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