Joe Haldeman's Blog

February 6, 2018

Writing days . . . .

1. Spring 1970.  Writing on THE FOREVER WAR at the outdoor hot dog cafe in Brooksville. It opened at 9 in the morning and had ice-cold beer. Outside of town, on the road to Ocala. Biked there with the Olivetti Valentine strapped on the bike, maybe a half-mile. They had great foot-long chili dogs!

But I'd start my day before that.  I'd usually get up around 4 and have a quick shower while the espresso machine perked. Wake up with a triple espresso and then decelerate into deceptively strong Luzianne (half chicory).

Best writing days . . . 

Writing at home before dawn, while our Manx Petie (named after Heinlein's Petronius Arbiter) sat and napped in the bookcase overhead. Once she started make retching noises, and I just managed to snatch the typewriter away in time!

2. Same machine, an Olivetti Valentine,  writing in the bodega across the alleyway from our little hotel in Sevilla, Old Town.

(On perhaps the same machine, I wrote a story about a storm to end all storms, typing in the most pleasant environment imaginable -- on the fragrant veranda of a motel in Montego Bay, surrounded by humid darkness.  Quiet surf  under a crescent moon.)  

3. Pounding away on WAR YEAR on the new Smith-Corona electric, present from my mother, in College Park,  Maryland; my last year in college. Think I started the Attar series a year or so later, in the side room in Big Red's. (A small upstairs apartment with a bright red door -- we'd lived there some months when we found out it used to belong to a prostitute named Big Red.)

4. The confident hum of the Olivetti Praxis -- I think Roger Zelazny talked me into getting it, when we were visiting Jay in Baltimore. The keys couldn't jam, and the type face was Wide Elite Victorian, a pseudo-weighted font. The motor burned out twice, but I loved the feel of it. (Though it didn't help my typing ability, since there was no penalty for errors.  It stopped rather than jamming.)

5. Bought my first Selectric discounted through Analog/Conde Nast. Picked it up at the Analog office and carried it home on the commuter train. While brother Jay and I were waiting (drunkenly) at the commuter station, a cop came up to interrogate us about the obviously stolen machine! (My mother luckily drove up, probably not too sober herself, and rescued us.)

6. First computer, an Apple //. It came with Dr. Memory, and I used it with a couple of upgrades over the years. I gave it lower-case by soldering in an extra third-party chip, which worked with AppleWorks.

7. Apple ][+

Writing at home there before dawn, while our Manx Petie (named after Heinlein's Petronius Arbiter) sat and napped in the bookcase overhead. Once she made retching noises, and I just managed to snatch the typewriter away in time!

8. First MacIntosh Powerbook. Carried it to the South Seas, where a line of ants invaded it for some reason!

9. Toshiba and Tandy "laptops," primitive machines with little static RAM memory. Bought my first one on the road, with blackjack winnings from a Louisiana casino.

10. Little Red, an antique Royal (I think 1929) manual. A beautiful little workhorse that I saw in a typewriter shop window in Iowa City while the city was deserted during a football game, cheers echoing from the stadium. Carried it to most of the Apollo launches. Keys covered with isinglass, I think.

I wrote a lot of the first Attar novel on this machine in Ocean City.

In 1983, the same time we moved into Eastgate housing at MIT, I started writing my novels in fountain pen ink in bound ledgers or blank books. Some of the blank books are pretty fancy, though many are plain Moleskine-type books. Somewhere I have a picture of them stacked in order. <Insert here when I find it.>

11. Mostly MacBook Pros from the 90s on.

12. Can't remember which machine was attacked by ants! We were somewhere in the South Seas, maybe Aitutaki. We had a cabin just up a short gravel road from the surf. We spent the morning snorkeling in the shallow reefs just beyond the surf, in  mostly knee-deep water, and when we came back I found a long line of tiny black ants leading from the kitchenette baseboard up the table leg and into my computer. We sprayed them to oblivion and I took the computer apart; no obvious sugary substances in evidence.  Never happened again. I've never found out what inside the computer might have triggered this pheremone-like response. Some lubricant or adhesive, I suppose.

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Published on February 06, 2018 08:04

November 21, 2017

Vietnam and Other Alien Worlds

Joe's collection VIETNAM AND OTHER ALIEN WORLDS is on sale at Earlybirdbooks and Amazon and elsewhere, just today, November 21. $1.99
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Published on November 21, 2017 05:39

October 31, 2017

DEADWOOD, by Pete Dexter

Just finished reading DEADWOOD, by Pete Dexter, for the second time. I read it some years ago in Australia, and it stuck in my mind -- so strongly that when I picked it up again a couple of weeks ago, at random, I kept on reading. It's an unusually rewarding book.It's sort of in the fake-biography mode, carefully researched but amplified with rumors that brush factuality without surrendering to actual truth. Wild Bill Hickock is the locus, rather than focus, of the book, set in and around Deadwood, South Dakota, in the years after the Civil War.Dexter is a good and careful writer with more experience with actual trauma than any writer needs, once hospitalized after a truly epic bar fight.It's commercial writing, but with a real difference. Characters to care about in an authentic setting that unfolds in growing complexity.
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Published on October 31, 2017 07:14

June 9, 2017

Forever Free

From Gay: Early Bird Books has FOREVER FREE, the sequel to THE FOREVER WAR, as a daily deal today, June 9.
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Published on June 09, 2017 07:34

June 5, 2017


Kindle Daily Deal on  is selling THE FOREVER WAR ebook today only for $1.99.
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Published on June 05, 2017 11:14

March 18, 2017

Ebook THERE IS NO DARKNESS on sale today, March 18.

From Gay: THERE IS NO DARKNESS, the novel collaboration between Joe and his brother, Jack C. Haldeman II, is on sale today only, March 18, for $1.99.
and also on and on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
Buy early and often!
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Published on March 18, 2017 07:03

March 5, 2017

Back in Gainesville

We watched Aldebaran blink out last night in occultation, right on time at 10:59 p.m. Right above the quarter moon. Quietly magical. Nicely scheduled; we just came in from a Pierce Pettis concert, and watched it from the driveway.

A nice cool morning today, mid-fifties. It was also gorgeous yesterday, and we went out to the Town of Tioga for an art fair, and a good lunch at the Spanish restaurant, Saboré.

I was greatly tempted by a couple of clever pens, repurposed military ammunition. But the most impressive ones were $50, so I resisted.

I didn't take any special drawing stuff to the concert, but did a pencil sketch in my small dinosaur notebook. (Somehow I got mixed up trying to draw his hands playing the guitar and got the right and left mixed up! That's what I get trying to do two things at once.) (Oh well -- Picasso did it too, and got paid well for it.)

Will be going to meet Doris Nabors and sister-in-law Barbara for lunch. (Three cardinals, two of them bright red boys, playing out by the feeder in back. Plus a couple of mockingbirds, much annoyed by them.)
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Published on March 05, 2017 12:34

February 25, 2017

Winter Star Party VII-Saturday

We had a few hours of good observing last night, though I got tired and pooped out. There wasn't a long line at the star telescope (so to speak), a giant 10" refractor., where we saw gorgeous colors in the Orion Nebula, and a stunning clear view of "the Pup," the dim white-dwarf companion to Sirius. (It's nine magnitudes dimmer than the Dog Star, whose flood of brilliance normally washes out the Pup.)We did a little exploring during the day. Went to the Blue Hole, a fresh-water pond that's a circular crater that is actually a deep salt-water hole with a "lens" of fresh rainwater floating on top. Fresh-water fish like bass live there. And three alligators.
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Published on February 25, 2017 06:26

February 24, 2017

Winter Star Party VI-Friday

Friday: Saw a Key Deer a couple of houses away yesterday morning.We went over to the Winter Star Party site, but heavy clouds moved in.. We were moved by Christian charity to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies from a table of cuties, though, and charitably munched a dozen or so, walking back.Too tired from our labors to even watch television. More torpidity than labor, I suppose. We'd also had a generous supper up at the No Name Bar & Grill, a large order of fried grouper.(The place was full of HUGE people, which might have impaired my appetite a little. I wonder whether they all live on the island, and they're lithe and beautiful until about thirty, when with great relief they surrender to their appetites.)Still scattered clouds this morning, but they're beautiful high cumulus, cheerful and hopeful. Except to astronomers, perhaps.I hope we have another good night of observing tonight, but it was good to have the one.I got a nice pair of binoculars yesterday, to replace the lost 7X50's. These are a little smaller, 8X42. Noticeably lighter, for birding, but still good light-gathering power. I have four hard-cooked eggs sitting in hot water. Delicious farm-fresh, perhaps from the cacklers that wander around underfoot. Think I'll attack a couple of them.
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Published on February 24, 2017 05:35

February 23, 2017

Winter Star Party V-Thursday

Thursday: It was cloudy last night, but I can't say I was disappointed. We were pretty tired after walking around Key West. We had a good lunch with old friends Toni and Larry at that beachfront bistro that we often bike to, Salute. Went to the specialized KW bookstore -- no new Hemingway or Fitzgerald -- the lazy guys have quit writing just because they're dead -- but I got Key West:Turn of the Century (a picture book) and Walk on Water, by Lorian Hemingway, EH's granddaughter, who is evidently a chunk off the the old block, a hard-drinking laconic word lover. Opening at random --"We hadn't reached the Gulf Stream yet, but there was a light chop, and the sun, at 10 a.m., was a high-noon sun. The bank of clouds in the distance that had brought hard rains the night before showed in relief against waves that were green and aqua peaks, as if painted by a sea-struck Van Gogh, all their madness and tranquility taken into account."Not too shabby, granddaughter. We had a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc at a wine bar on Duval Street and walked awhile looking at tourists and natives, pretty easy to tell apart.We were just as happy that clouds kept us inside last night. Watched some interesting public TV and turned in pretty early.I went out at dawn and wandered around a bit in the quiet beauty. A little rain after midnight had discouraged the bugs; I hope it was clear at the observing site. (The weather there can be much different from here, less than ten miles away.) It's about 75% cloudy now.
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Published on February 23, 2017 05:50

Joe Haldeman's Blog

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