Archives for category: William Barton

About Elizabeth Hand and Aestival Tide
I met Elizabeth Hand at the San Francisco Worldcon when our mutual publisher drove a bus filled with its authors up to George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch for the evening. What a memorable evening it was!
I’d also use “memorable” to describe any of Liz’s stories and books. She’s internationally renowned for her lush literary style and cutting-edge ideas. Prepare to be dazzled by Aestival Tide, a wonderful addition to the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle. –Lisa Mason
For more information about Liz and her books, go to http://www.elizabethhand.com/

About Gwyneth Jones and Life
I first became acquainted with Gwyneth Jones via her incisive and award-winning criticism of science fiction. What a treat to discover her own incisive and award-winning science fiction.
Life is a tale of feminism and courage that asks difficult questions about women and society and a splendid example of what science fiction may achieve beyond conventional genre tropes. I’m pleased to include Life in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle. –Lisa Mason
For more information about Gwyneth and her books, go to http://www.gwynethjones.uk/

About Kathe Koja and The Cipher
I remember when Kathe Koja burst onto the science fiction, fantasy, and horror scene with her jaw-dropping stories. A masterly visceral stylist, Kathe fearlessly explores the dark underside of creativity. And reality.
I wasn’t surprised to learn The Cipher also won the Bram Stoker Award, conferred by Horror Writers of America, and was named by io9.com as one of the Top Ten Debut Novels That Took the World by Storm.
When you dive into this selection in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle, be sure to leave the lights on. –Lisa Mason
For more information about Kathe Koja and her books, go to http://kathekoja.com

About Pat Murphy and Points of Departure
I’ve run into Pat Murphy over the years at parties and conventions since she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and so do I.
Points of Departure is a story collection, including Pat’s Nebula-winning “Rachel in Love.” She also won a Nebula for her novel, The Falling Woman. She is renowned for her stories, which are elegant, thought-provoking, and compassionate. I’m delighted to include this fine collection in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle.–Lisa Mason
For more information about Pat Murphy and her books, go to http://www.brazenhussies.net/murphy/

About K.W. Jeter and Dark Seeker
I’ve run into K.W. Jeter once or twice over the years in the San Francisco Bay Area and am glad to have made his acquaintance. I’ve also read his startling stories in the inevitable Year’s Best anthologies.
Jeter is known for his vivid literary style, complex paranoid characters, and dark themes. In Dark Seeker, K.W. boldly tells the tale of a survivor of a deadly cult and his search for his son who may or may not still be alive.
Enjoy another prime example of the outer limits that science fiction may achieve and the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle offers. –Lisa Mason
For more about K.W. Jeter and his books, visit https://www.facebook.com/AuthorK.W.Jeter

About Lisa Mason and Summer of Love
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a hippie. I’m glad we cleared that up!
I did, however, find the sixties a fascinating period in American history in which to set a science fiction story, a time when lingering Victorian attitudes finally expired and we as a society decisively moved forward into the twentieth century, for better or for worse.
I spent over two full-time years researching and writing Summer of Love. I’m gratified so many readers have understood my vision and delighted to include this—still my bestselling book since it was published in 1994—in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle. –Lisa Mason
Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by Tom Robinson, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!
And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

About Lewis Shiner and Frontera
I first became acquainted with Lewis Shiner through his insightful and elegant stories published in all the magazines.
In Frontera, a cyberpunk classic, Lew takes us to a very Phil Dickian world of oppressive corporations and a ruined Martian colony with a terrible secret. I’m thrilled to present Shiner’s excellent science fiction in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle. –Lisa Mason
For more information about Lewis Shiner and his books, please see www.lewisshiner.com.

About William Barton and Acts of Conscience
I appreciate the challenge for an author to depict, and depict deeply, an “anti-hero.” In Acts of Conscience, this anti-hero is a way politically incorrect dude.
But William Barton pulls it off beautifully and his tale of an orbital mechanic, a guy who fortuitously scores a spaceship and takes off for the stars, is a dark journey of the soul as much as a space odyssey. I’m excited to include another genre-expanding title in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle. –Lisa Mason
For more information about William Barton and his books, please see http://williambarton.com/.

About Kay Kenyon and Maximum Ice
I can always count on Kay Kenyon to take me to a deeply realized world, then unleash a dynamic story that will keep me on the edge of my seat.
Maximum Ice delivers an urgent apocalyptic tale set on a far-future Earth. The multi-talented Kay has written extensively in fantasy, as well as science fiction. I’m delighted to include her excellent science fiction in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle. –Lisa Mason
For more information about Kay Kenyon and her books, please visit http://www.kaykenyon.com.

About William Jon Williams and Knight Moves
I first learned about Walter Jon Williams when he burst onto the publishing scene with his visionary magazine stories.
Walter has gone on to write twenty-seven novels and three story collections, appearing on the New York Times and London Times bestseller lists, winning the Nebula Award, nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, and also writing for comics, the screen, and television.
Walter brings more of his visionary imagery to Knight Moves, which takes us to a far-future Earth depopulated by a space-faring humanity, a lonely and fantastic place where legends roam again, thanks to modern technology. I welcome this classic science fiction to the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle. –Lisa Mason
For more about Walter Jon Willliams and his books, go to http://www.walterjonwilliams.net/

About Sarah Zettel and Reclamation
I can count on Sarah Zettel to entertain me with her renowned witty and fast-paced style and classic themes.
She’s the award winning, cross-genre author of thirty novels that cover the literary spectrum from science fiction and fantasy to Young Adult to Mystery and Romance. Sarah’s science fiction has won critical acclaim and the Philip K. Dick Award for her novel BITTER ANGELS (written as C.L. Anderson). I’m delighted to include RECLAMATION in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle. RECLAMATION was a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and also won Locus Magazine’s Best First Novel award. –Lisa Mason
You can find all of Sarah Zettel’s books in all her genres at www.sarahzettel.com

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle ENDS TODAY October 15 midnight East coast time, 9 P.M. West coast time so you must act now! Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t let this incredible bargain slip away! Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

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Like the movie and music industries, publishing offers its share of exciting awards recognizing excellence in writing.

One of these awards is the coveted Philip K. Dick Award, presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States. The award was inaugurated in 1983 after the untimely death of the iconic science fiction author, Philip K. Dick, whose work has been adapted into major motion pictures such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report.

I’m serving as one of five judges for the 2016 PKD award. After participating in the Time Travel Bundle for Storybundle.com earlier this year, I became excited by the concept of a bundle comprised of PKD Finalists and Winners.

One thing led to another, and now I’m thrilled to curate the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle for Storybundle.com. Above and beyond earning the distinction of the award, this unique and historic collection of eleven amazing books showcases the many-splendored spectrum of science fiction from classic themes to the avant-garde.

Visit the majestic city of the Ascendants in Elizabeth Hand’s Aestival Tide, the spooky abandoned storage closet down the hall in Kathe Koja’s The Cipher, rock-n-rolling San Francisco in 1967 in my own Summer of Love, a Martian colony with a terrible secret in Lewis Shiner’s Frontera, the visionary far future in Walter Jon Williams’ Knight Moves.

As always at Storybundle.com, you the reader name your price—whatever you feel the books are worth. You may designate a portion of the proceeds to go to a charity. For the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle, that’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (“SFWA”). SFWA champions writers’ rights, sponsors the Nebula Award for excellence in science fiction, and promotes numerous literacy groups.

The basic bundle (minimum $5 to purchase, more if you feel the books are worth more) includes:

  • Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist)
  • Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner)
  • The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist)
  • Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner)
  • Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist)
  • Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist)

To complete your bundle, beat the bonus price of $15 and you’ll receive another five books:

  • Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist)
  • Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation)
  • Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist)
  • Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist)
  • Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist)

All of these accomplished, traditionally published authors have received recognition and been shortlisted for or won multiple awards in addition to placing as a PKD Finalist or Winner, and we’re delighted their ebooks are available for the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle.

Elizabeth Hand has won the World Fantasy Award (among many others), as has Gwyneth Jones. Walter Jon Williams has appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list, won the Nebula, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. Sarah Zettel has both won the Philip K. Dick Award and placed as a Finalist. Pat Murphy has won the Nebula twice, Kathe Koja the Bram Stoker. Lisa Mason has had a New York Times Notable book, a New York Public Library Recommended Book, and a San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book. The list goes on.

If you’re just dipping your toe into science fiction and not sure where to begin or if you’re a long-time fan and reader, this stellar collection, which is both historic and unique, is an excellent addition to your elibrary, providing world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

–Lisa Mason

The Philip K. Dick Award Bundle ENDS TODAY October 15, 2015 and only via Storybundle. The bundle is easy to read on computers, smartphones, and tablets, as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books.

When the bundle is gone, it’s gone. So download yours today!

It’s super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of thrilling titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their list. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity. The Philip K. Dick Award Bundle features Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
  • Receive extra books: If you beat our bonus price, you’re not just getting six books, you’re getting eleven!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, Twitter us at @storybundle, Like us on Facebook, and Plus us on Google Plus. For press inquiries, please email press@storybundle.com.

Today, October 15, is the last day for The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle until midnight Eastern Standard Time, 9 P.M. Pacific Standard Time

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

Thousands of purchasers can’t be wrong! But you must act now because once this bargain is gone, it’s gone! Download yours today at http://www.storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

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What the Authors and books of The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle share is the award itself, whether the book was a Finalist or Winner.

Above and beyond the prestige of the award—and the superb quality of the work—you will find a diverse array of protagonists to root for and startling worlds to visit.

In Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand, come to Araboth—the majestic, domed, multi-tiered city of the Ascendants as the once-in-a-decade Aestival Tide approaches and destruction looms.

In Life by Gwyneth Jones, meet Anna Senoz, a scientist who makes a momentous discovery about the X and Y chromosomes. Anna’s discovery provokes shocking reactions and impacts her career, her marriage, and her child.

In The Cipher by Kathe Koja, join Koja’s artists of the modern-day demimonde as they experiment with the mysterious, dangerous Funhole in a storage closet down the hall.

In Points of Departure by Pat Murphy, meet a chimpanzee whose brain is implanted with the personality of a young girl who has died, a farmer who grows a spouse from a packet of seeds, a fortune-teller learns that there’s a difference between seeing the future and changing it, and more.

In Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter, root for the survivor of a lethal Manson-like cult as he searches for the son he once believed was dead and has reason to believe is still alive. Will he find the boy? And what will he find if he does?

In Summer of Love by Lisa Mason, run away to the Haight-Ashbury of 1967 where a teenage girl holds the key to the survival of the future. With the help of a half-black, half-white Hip merchant, a time-traveling young man from five hundred years in the future must find the girl and protect her life during the dangerous Summer of Love.

In Frontera by Lewis Shiner, travel to the lost Martian colony of Frontera with Reese, an aging hero of the US space program, as he discovers a secret so devastating that the new rulers of Earth will stop at nothing to own it.

In Acts of Conscience by William Barton, have a brewski with a politically incorrect orbital mechanic who must confront his own conscience and decide what, if anything, to do about the systematic destruction of a planet’s intelligent species and his discovery of another species’ own plans for humanity.

In Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon, return from space after two-hundred-fifty years to an Earth nearly swallowed by a peculiar crystalline, icelike substance and figure out how to survive amid Ice Nuns, snow witches, and renegade cannibals.

In Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams, visit a depopulated Earth eight hundred years in the future as Doran Falkner confronts his lost promise, his lost love, and his lost humanity, aliens dig among ancient ruins for old comic books, and the creatures of legends walk again thanks to modern technology. Will Doran make the right move?

In Reclamation by Sarah Zettel, explore a far future where human groups have colonized the galaxy, but seek their mythical “Home Ground.” Eric Born, a lapsed priest, has escaped to the stars but discovers the shocking secret of the Home Ground. A classic science fiction tale told in Sarah’s award-winning witty and fast-paced style.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only four more days until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t let this bargain slip away. Act now and download yours today at http://www.storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

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It should come as no surprise that the authors participating in The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle and their books have received recognition and awards in addition to the Philip K Dick Award.

Elizabeth Hand has received the Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopeoic, Tiptree, and International Horror Guild Awards, and her novels have been chosen as New York Times and Washington Post Notable Books. She’s been a Philip K Dick Award Finalist three times.

Gwyneth Jones has won two World Fantasy awards, the Children of the Night award, the BSFA award and the Pilgrim award for Science Fiction criticism.

Novels of Lisa Mason have been chosen as a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Public Library Recommended Book, and a San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book.

Kay Kenyon has been a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and chosen twice for the ALA Reading List.

Pat Murphy’s Nebula Award-winning story “Rachel in Love” is included in Points of Departure and she won a Nebula for her novel, The Falling Woman. Her fiction has also won the World Fantasy Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the Seiun Award.

Stories and books by Lewis Shiner have frequently been short-listed for the Nebula and the Hugo Awards.

Walter Jon Williams has appeared on the best-seller lists of the New York Times and the Times of London, won a Nebula Award for his novelette, “Daddy’s World,” won the Nebula again for “The Green Leopard Plague,” and was nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, and a World Fantasy Award.

William Barton has been a Philip K. Dick Finalist three times.

And Kathe Koja’s The Cipher not only placed as a PKD Award Finalist but also won the Bram Stoker Award and was recently named one of io9.com’s Top 10 Debut Science Fiction Novels That Took the World By Storm.

Sarah Zettel won critical acclaim and the Philip K. Dick Award for her novel BITTER ANGELS (written as C.L. Anderson). RECLAMATION was her debut novel, was a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and won Locus Magazine’s Best First Novel award.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15, midnight East coast time, 9 PM West coast time, so you must act now. Once it’s gone, it’s gone! Download yours today at http://www.storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

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I appreciate the challenge for an author to depict, and depict deeply, an “anti-hero.” In Acts of Conscience, this anti-hero is a way politically incorrect dude.

But William Barton pulls it off beautifully and his tale of an orbital mechanic, a guy who fortuitously scores a spaceship and takes off for the stars, is a dark journey of the soul as much as a space odyssey. I’m excited to include another genre-expanding title in the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle. –Lisa Mason

For more information about William Barton and his books, please see http://williambarton.com/.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle is live only until October 15 so you must act now! Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

I’m always fascinated by author interviews, biographies, and the story behind the story—discussions of an author’s inspiration and genesis from concept to finished work. This just in from Bill Barton, the author of Acts of Conscience:

The Road to Green Heaven
by William Barton © 2015

Almost all writers begin by imitating other books, and in modern times, other media. All writers living today were exposed not only to books, but to movies and television, to comic books, graphic novels, cartoons, anime, you name it. I am as subject to those influences as anyone else, and most especially to the cheap paperback novels and comic books published during my own annus mirabilis of 1964, when I was thirteen and then fourteen years old.

Green Heaven, and this Acts of Conscience, is technically part of my Starover Universe, which began with the publication of Hunting On Kunderer, in 1973, but it’s a late addition, and contains some crossover with the Silvergirl Universe (When We Were Real and several other stories). The crossover is mainly technological, representing some of what I learned between the 1970s and 1990s, but the worlds of the book are pure Starover.

I have sometimes described the Starover Universe as Larry Niven’s Known Space meets A. Bertram Chandler’s Galactic Rim. And though it was far beyond that, it remains true, because it and its ancestors are what I call “featural universes.” They are all about the naming of names and the relationships between them. The thing is, you can map a featural universe, and that’s how the Titanium Brick Road to Green Heaven began.

I am a very visual person, and always have been. When I was a boy, I drew scenes from things I was reading, borrowed and expanded on illustrations from books like the Grosset & Dunlap Tom Corbett editions. And I tried to draw maps, against which to visualize the story. One day, I was laying on the floor, sketching out a map with 3D renderings of places named Tentholm and Aerhurst, when my father wanderer by, looked at it, and exclaimed, “Why, this is a map of Swiss Family Robinson!” I was proud he recognized it, and happy to have amazed him. It was certainly a validation of my sense of self-worth, and like most of us, I was a decidedly underappreciated ten year old.

I continued drawing maps of things I read, including some exquisite renderings of Barsoom, once I realized you could locate Exum positively on a map, and then work outwards, jumping from place to place, relating them to one another. Finally, maybe in the sixth grade, I began creating and mapping my own worlds. You can see how some of them turned out in the frontispiece maps to Crimson Darkness.

What I didn’t have was a sound mechanism for mapping some of the science fiction stories I liked. Oh, I knew where the planets and major asteroids of the Solar System were, and even had some sense of where the nearest stars were, once I learned a little spherical geometry. But some of those stories were scattered around the galaxy, for which no real map then existed. I could look at photos of Andromeda, and kind of guess, but… how to draw a map? One that would look  the way I thought maps should look?

At first, I tried drawing the “lens” as described in some novels, with dots for stars/worlds/civilizations. Not so satisfactory. One day I tried to map the Galactic Rim universe, as Chandler described it. I drew a circle, then put the dots of the major elements of the Rimworlds Confederacy around the edge. Hmm. That was the first time I realized the old sea-captain had created an impossible entity, as if the Isle of Man, Tahiti, the Falklands, and the Seychelles had declared independence and banded together. The other thing I realized was, the rest Chandler’s galaxy was full of space-going countries. The Terran Federation, the Shaara Empire, etc.

Now, I had already created a non-featural universe, the Ohanaic Universe that would give birth to its own stories, such as Yellow Matter, based loosely on James Blish’s space-going Okie stories. I never really tried to map it, because it was internalized, more about Spenglerian history than about settings.

So I drew another circle, drew an inner circle I labeled “Galactic Core (uninhabitable),” scattered a few dots around where I knew I wanted “capitol planets,” then drew borders, colored everything in, and invented names, just like I’d done with my planetary romance settings. To the big blue splotch centered on Earth, I attached the label Terran Colony System, and the Starover Universe was born.

The rest of its genesis came from my other habit, of drawing pictures of my characters, and setting them in scenes from the stories I was imagining, and sometimes trying to write. This second element of the Starover Universe came from a coloring book I was using as a template. I could draw pretty well as a kid, but things like human figures are pretty hard, so I traced people from other sources (primarily comic books) and placed them in backgrounds of my own devising, sometimes even scaling them with a toy pantograph I had.

The first story of the Starover Universe came out of a Superman coloring book I’d spotted. Oddly, though it was without captions, there was an implied story in the sequence of images, and so I wrote a story of my own to connect them together, spawning characters from the unknown ones in the coloring book. Superman became Zoltan Tharkie, the uniformed airline pilot became Dexteran Kaelenn, the thuggish villain became Shane Lawrency, and so on. I even tried to write the story down, petering out after a few pages, as I usually did, but a decade later, that early effort became the first chapter of my second published novel, A Plague of All Cowards.

The next phase came as I began reading Larry Niven’s Known Space stories. I was fascinated by his “habitable point” gimmick, but much more interested in the fact that his planets seemed like entire real worlds, rather than “spots for plots,” like in so much science fiction of the era. I had made up a few Starover planets, but didn’t know much beyond what was in the story ideas.

And, of course, I’d drawn fairly detailed maps of my planetary romance settings, which is the whole idea. Venusworld had more than a hundred countries, each with its own language, culture, and history. Obviously, every planet in a science fiction universe should too. The next thing I realized was, the Starover Universe was in the fairly remote future, mainly years after 4000 AD. I knew something of its history, of how there’d been a terrible dictatorship called the Combine that’d been overthrown a thousand years before the events of A Plague of All Cowards.

How had human civilization gotten to that point? So I started writing down a future history that connected the 1960s, where Project Gemini was the latest thing in space travel, to the universe of Zoltan Tharkie, two thousand years later, where humans and their allies had just fought a devastating interstellar against the Tertris and their allies. Let me tell you, I thought I was mighty clever making Zoltan Tharkie the hero who’d ended the war by vaporizing the Tertris homeworld. And I did understand that made him a genocidal war criminal.

Looking at Known Space, I realized what I needed to do to flesh out the very near future Starover Universe, providing a linking civilization that would connect the twentieth century USA to the Combine of the twenty-eighth. In addition to the historical narrative, I picked out a couple of dozen stars that I figured could support habitable planets, made up star systems for them, including a “scientific” nomenclature for them (in it, Earth’s Moon would be called Sol IIIi. For Kent, it would be Alpha Centauri A-IV, etc.). Then I made up microhistories that would implement logical names for the planets in the star systems. And then I began drawing maps of each and every inhabited planet, and some of the important uninhabited ones as well. I even drew pictures of some of the gas giants I figured my characters might want to visit.

The frontispiece map of Green Heaven from the StoryBundle edition of Acts of Conscience is scanned from one of a later series of color maps I did of the major worlds. I even did a spiral arm map of the entire Starover galaxy, used as the frontispiece of This Dog/Rat World. As the Universe evolved, I decided there would be far-flung clusters of such worlds, highly habitable planets colonized first, then others nearby in secondary colonizations. In A Last War for the Oriflamme, readers get to visit Vincenzo Prime, capitol planet of the Vinzeth Empire, along with a few other planets later incorporated in the Terran Colony System. They all have maps of their own.

I wrote the outline for Acts of Conscience some time in the middle 1970s, but didn’t have either the skillset or free time to write it properly. Not long after finishing This Dog/Rat World, I threw in the towel on writing science fiction, and wasn’t to resume for fourteen years. When I did, there were all those beautiful maps, and the outline for an extraordinary novel. When I got that Special Citation from the Philip K. Dick Award, it was a personal validation not unlike the one I’d gotten from my Dad, thirty-five years earlier.

Thank you, Bill, for your insightful and moving monograph on the writing of Acts of Conscience. For more information about William Barton and his books, please see http://williambarton.com/.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15 so you must act now! Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.