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Twenty-one Years

Writer, stay-at-home dad, adventurer

Into the Swirling Chaos

I stare into the swirling chaos of my future and I’m reminded of how much I really depend on those around me. My family, my friends. In this time of social distancing, I’ve become acutely aware of the lines that connect us all as those same lines are stretched taut by the stressors of these times. Uncertainty floods every aspect of our lives, with protests in our streets and a pandemic sweeping the globe. And, this?

As I write this, my last days at IBM draw to a close. After twenty-one years I’m leaving my favorite large multinational corporation, not entirely of my own will. I always considered this ending inevitable–the consequence of working for Big Corporate America. I’ve planned for the worst and, well, here it is.

The timing is bad. Anxiety is bad. The world is broken, and the daily grind that used to be my source of stability is dissolving under my feet.

So, what am I going to be now?

Hello, I’m Anthony W. Eichenlaub, writer, a stay-at-home dad, intrepid adventurer. I do my best to make the world better for those around me. I live my best life, whatever troubles come my way.

This is a whole lot of financial uncertainty for me. If you’re someone I’ve supported on Patreon over the years, you may have noticed I’ve pulled my support, and I apologize. In the short term, I’m no longer able to give buckets of money to charity or the arts, and that makes me a little sad. Once my wife is off furlough, we’ll take another look at the old finances. I have a lot of hope.

But things aren’t SO bad. Uncertainty is not strife. Carol IS on furlough, but she won’t be forever, and her salary is good. There will, of course, be cost-cutting measures. Instead of buying siding for the house, I’ll be painting. Instead of fancy new solar panels, we’ll be drawing power off the grid like peasants. With any luck we’ll do fine on this new level of income.

Taking that Step Forward

Things you can do to help if you feel so inclined:

  • Patreon is a part of my plan to bridge this time financially. Join for a buck a month by July 4th and you’ll get a special Bridge Crew badge. Yeah, I know, a dollar isn’t much, but if I get a few more people to join I can start building it into a community of readers and writers. Then, together, we can take over the world.
  • If you know of paid sci-fi writing gigs, let me know. If you happen to be great friends with the team trying to choose their next Star Wars novelist, maybe point them my way. For fifteen years I’ve been writing for fun and money. Now I’m writing for money and fun. It’s… an interesting transition. Still pretty cool, though.
  • Same with teaching gigs. I teach at the Loft and Community Ed. Join those classes if you can (I don’t get paid if there aren’t students.) I love teaching and I’m always looking for more gigs.
  • Drop an honest review on Grandfather Anonymous or the new Metal and Men boxed set. I can’t get those books off the ground without a baseline of reviews (for various reasons) and if you’ve read my books, it one totally free way you can help.
  • Cheer for me. Cheer for everyone. Come on, we’re all in this together. Let’s ALL succeed.
Work

So, expect more posts on this blog. Expect more activity on Twitter and Facebook (but not too much.) I’ll be independently publishing more, but also cranking things up for more long-term traditional publishing. I mean, I might be out of a job, but it isn’t like I don’t have WORK TO DO.

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Worldcon 2018

Worldcon was so much fun last year that I decided to go again. This year it’s in San Jose, California, and I’m told there will be no shortage of tacos.

was so much fun last year that I decided to go again. This year it’s in San Jose, California, and I’m told there will be no shortage of tacos.

I’m not on programming this year, but that’s no reason you can’t find me there. Comment here or find me on Twitter. Just because my schedule is unpredictable doesn’t mean I’m not there to meet people.

One of the things I like best about Worldcon is the sheer number of great authors in all of the different stages of their writing careers. This is the first year I have a SFWA membership, so you’ll probably find me wandering the halls in a pack of early-career authors, trying to scrape up the crumbs of wisdom falling from George R.R. Martin as he wanders among mere mortals.

Should be a good time.

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CONvergence 2018 Schedule

CONvergence is one of my favorite cons, and not only because it’s close to home. It’s a fantastic, intense, and every year I go I find something new. The convention sprawls across several hotels, and even with all that space the rooms are packed with awesome fans and some really excellent artists.

If you’ve never been, well, there’s still time to pick up a pass. This is an extra big year for them, seeing how it’s their twentieth anniversary.

My schedule this year:

  • Adventure in Short Stories: Thursday July 5th 12:30
  • AI in Fiction and Reality: Thursday July 5th 3:30
  • Year in Books: Saturday, July 7th at 2:00
  • Group Signing: Saturday, July 7th at 3:30
  • Reading: Sunday, July 8th at 9:30
  • Signing: Sunday, July 8th at 12:30

When I’m not in panels I’ll be wandering the halls and just generally interested in meeting people. If you see me there, stop and say hi!

Oh, and there’ll be lots of time for drinks. PLENTY of time for drinks.

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A Few of One Hundred: 2017

Book textAs this stray 2017 gets flushed away by vodka tonics and nachos, I find myself reflecting back upon the year and all its greatness. Sure, it wasn’t always wonderful, but there were some aspects of this year that I was pretty damn happy about.

I mean, I read a lot of books. A LOT.

In this last week of the year, I finally managed to hit my 100 books for the year. As a fairly slow reader, this is a pretty nice accomplishment. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, dedicate time in the evenings to read, and just generally work hard to consume stories.

And some of them were quite good.

Books of My 2017

Following are some of my favorites of the year. They aren’t necessarily books that came out this year, but they’re books I READ this year. And I liked them.

  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders – I loved this book, and it’s wonderful. I read it early 2017 and I still think about it from time to time.
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – This is a beautifully written book full of Russian folklore. It was a pleasure to read, and I’m really looking forward to the sequel.
  • City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett – This whole series is good. This is powerful fantasy deeply rooted in the issues of the day, but full of those stand-up-and-cheer moments that really only happen when you get really, truly involved with the characters.
  • The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin – Another fantastic series. Deeply powerful books and for sure worth your time.
  • Guns of the Dawn by Adrien Tchaikovsky – I’ve read a bunch of Tchaikovsky’s work this year and Guns of the Dawn was my favorite. Such richly realized world and characters drew me and kept me going the whole way through. It’s long, but the audiobook is read by Emma Newman and she’s fantastic at pretty much everything.
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren- Picked this audiobook up randomly from the library’s Overdrive and was floored by it. Chapters alternate between rich, powerful descriptions of botany and the events of Hope Jahren’s life. It’s a wonderful book and, I mean, she’s a paleobotanist. Isn’t that just the best word?

There were many other great books, but hey I gotta draw the line somewhere, right? You can follow me on Goodreads if you’re really interested in tracking my reading as it happens.

Short Stories of My 2017

In addition to books, I spent a whole pile of time reading short stories. I’m working on improving my own short story writing, so one of the things I’ve done is crank my reading WAY up. This, actually, made the completion of my 100 book challenge a lot harder. I mean, I made it anyway, but it was tough.

Here are a few short stories I read that really had an impact for me. Some I’m using to teach my classes, while others are just cool.

Oh, and there’s so much more out there. My goal for next year is going to be 75 books and a whole lot more short fiction. There’s so much happening out there in the world of short stories, that I feel like I’m missing quite a bit.

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Making the Move to Rochester Above

It’s been quiet around here for a while, but I still exist.

My family has been swept up in the great chaos of moving. We’re not going far. It’s only about a mile, really. But the move takes us to Rochester Above and we’re super pleased with the new house. Also, the view from Rochester Above is pretty nice.

rochester20160930_day
Rochester Day

rochester20160930_night
Rochester Night

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One Week Till Gencon

Bug Guy will mess you up with that shovel
Bug Guy will mess you up with that shovel

Gencon 2016 is next week. Oh my gosh, Gencon is next week.

It’s my favorite convention of the year. Certainly the biggest. Gaming has been a part of my life since before I could drive. I have *always* played Dungeons and Dragons. I probably always will. Board games, card games. All the games. I love them.

These days I spend a lot of time in the Writer’s Symposium. I’m not on programming, or anything. But that’s where I’ll be.

The Gencon Writer’s Symposium is one of my favorite writing events every year. I owe a lot of my current skill to things I’ve learned there. The event draws piles of great authors, from Brad Beaulieu to Howard Taylor. And of course, Kameron Hurley, Elizabeth Bear, and Sunil Patel. It’s an exciting lineup this year and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Will you be there? Drop me a line in my contact page or ping me on Twitter. I’ll still have plenty of time for games.

Just not for sleep.

No, no time for sleep.

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Leaf and the Lord of Electricity

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf in fancy gray

I leased a Nissan Leaf in October and apart from when the salesperson dubbed me Lord of Electricity an made me wear a special hat, it all went quite smoothly.

Several months and a thousand miles later and I’m ready to report on my experience. I’ve driven my Leaf in bad weather, around town, and on the big highway. It’s had its chance to impress me.

I never want to buy another combustion engine vehicle.

That’s not to say the Leaf is perfect. It’s not. The range is too short and the Lightning Cannon never worked properly even once. Despite those shortcomings, I love the vehicle. Here are a few observations I’ve made:

The Leaf’s Nonexistent Systems

What are the annoying parts that break on our cars? Mufflers? Radiators? Brakes? You know what? The Leaf doesn’t have them, so they can’t break. There aren’t even any oil changes!

*Checks documentation*

Ok, we might have brakes. It’s a little unclear. Still, there’s a lot missing on this car. All that extra waste heat and exhaust that combustion engines need to deal with? We don’t really have that here. Not at the same scale, anyway. It’s kinda nice.

Waste Heat

It’s winter in Minnesota. What the hell is waste heat?

Well, the heater is a big deal in the Leaf. It never really seems to heat the air up. I imagine that’s because I’m not getting the benefit of all that wasted energy, but I don’t really know.

Also, in a gasoline vehicle you never really think about your heater using energy. In an EV, absolutely everything you do impacts miles. Turn the heater on and you’re likely to shave miles off the distance between charges. Noticeable miles.

Gadgets

The little computer gizmos don’t really sell a car for me, but the Leaf has some fun stuff. The key never has to leave my pocket, for instance. Also, there are integrated GPS and maps, blah, blah, blah. My other car has a heated seat, which is cool, but the Leaf has that plus a heated steering wheel.

With our steering wheels heated in the cold winter, we will drive like kings, my friends. Like kings.

There is also this remote climate control, which I’ve used a few times. The app for my phone is absolute garbage, but if you are patient enough to click through a few long pauses, you can turn your heater on from anywhere. Anywhere! It almost makes Minnesota bearable. (not really)

Hot Hell, It’s Fast

I thought I was leasing a low-end Tesla wannabe. It is. Don’t get me wrong. It really is. But wow, the Leaf really moves. Not only does it accelerate fast enough to cause neck pains, but it also corners well. I guess that’s something to do with low center of gravity. Maybe. I don’t care. It is genuinely fun to drive.

The electric motor is far more responsive than those gas ones I’m used to. When I go back to my other car I notice the delay between pressing the accelerator and going forward. It’s annoying.

Liberal Cred

Guy walks up. “Hey, man. You wanna see liberal? Check this out.” He shows me his Wellstone tattoo.

“Wow,” I say.

The guy takes a bite of kale and shows his knuckles sport tattoos S-O-L-A-R and F-A-R-M, with letters squeezed in because he doesn’t have enough fingers for “solar” but hadn’t thought it through before starting the tattoo.

“Impressive,” I say.

He looks down at me, his recycled hemp shirt smelling like all-natural eco-friendly laundry detergent.

I pull out my phone, push a few buttons. My Leaf crashes through a window.

“Time to go, sir?” says the Leaf.

“Yeah, Leaf,” I say. “This place is a little too conservative for my tastes.”
The guy’s jaw hangs open as I drive silently away.

Quality

Liberal cred is not actually what I like about the car. In fact, it’s kind of annoying to me that EVs are considered to be liberal cred. The electric motor is, in my mind, better than the combustion engine in every way. It’s more efficient, more powerful, quieter, less likely to kill you when you’re parked somewhere making out, and less likely to bathe you in gasoline and set you on fire. From an engineer’s standpoint there is absolutely no doubt what the better technology is.

There should be no liberal/conservative bias here, and it’s a big problem that there is.

Gas Stations and Car Washes

Ok, this is a serious problem, too. With my other vehicle, I use the car wash at the gas station. I haven’t been to a gas station in several months now and my Leaf iElectros absolutely filthy. The backup camera is getting hard to see through.

I seriously have no idea what to do about this. I’m not sure I’m allowed near a gas station. What do I do?

So yeah. I like my Leaf. I’d buy another one in an instant. By the time I’m in the market for a car again, there will probably be more EV options than there are now. I will have one of them.

I will never relinquish my title as a Lord of Electricity.