No, I’m not making any of this up.
My talk yesterday at the LA Science Fiction Fantasy Society regarding BURNING SKIES triggered the ire of Jerry Pournelle, who became nearly apopoletic with rage that I was unable to articulate exactly how many degrees warmer the Earth of AUTUMN RAIN is than now. Things sped downhill from there. I’ve got a couple notes in the timeline of how much said temperature has gone up by specific years, but Jerry wanted the exact figures . . . and I didn’t have the heart to tell him I didn’t have spreadsheets on the ocean salinity factor, and had neglected to draw up the precise ratio of atmospheric composition to describe the peasoup of the early 22nd century. This led to the question of whether I was a Real Science Fiction Writer, or just one of those imposters you keep hearing about. We had a particularly vigorous dispute on my doubts about whether solar power satellites would be the panacea that he thinks they’d be.
All of which was good fun. But Jerry was a big teddy bear compared to his partner in all of this, Karen Anderson, who happens to be Poul Anderson’s widow (and Greg Bear’s mother-in-law—ye gods Greg, talk about karmic burden). She was about as angry as anyone I’ve ever seen, interrupting me repeatedly, and ultimately stalking out of the room halfway through snarling that the world of Autumn Rain was obviously “magic not science.” It just wasn’t the same without her, but Jerry and I managed to cope nonetheless, getting into a no-holds barred debate on whether Reagan’s SDI could have been used as a first strike weapon. Jerry seemed less incensed by that point, but maybe it’s because I was getting used to how loud he yells.
Anyway, everyone else at the club seemed pretty chill, and watched the conversation unfold with interest. And I gave Jerry a signed copy of BURNING SKIES afterward (“to a living legend”), so it was all good. They really do have a clubhouse there, btw, right in the middle of North Hollywood—one reason they’re the oldest running science fiction society on the planet. This was meeting #3749, and I can only imagine what’s gone down at the other 3748. The stories those walls could tell….
Anyway, I need to go find some coffee.
And you need to go buy BURNING SKIES.