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Spider On The Web, the FREE podcast, is updated infrequently with fresh content. Follow the link.

29 Februrary, 2016:

Okay: new to e-book format. But two of the best, which readers have been requesting for quite a while now. They should both be available in your chosen e-book platform sometime within the next month, and either one may be out right now.

Yes, genties and ladlemen of the audio radiance, thanks to the diligent work and creative genius of Eleanor Wood and Kris Bell of the Spectrum Agency, I’ve got two smokin’ new e-books for you: the Callahan novel that happens to be my own favorite, and a collection of my favorite short stories plus some previously unreleased original music I’m fond of.

Unavailable digitally until now for contractual reasons, CALLAHAN’S KEY was the book that moved Jake, Zoey, and Erin Stonebender, and the entire Callahan’s Place/Mary’s Place gang with them, from Long Island to Key West, lock, stock and barrel of monkeys. It is chock full of places I love—Key West, for a start, and America’s first spaceport, the Kennedy Space Center, and Slip F-18, Bahia Mar Marina, Fort Lauderdale, which sadly no longer exists—and also chock full of people I love—including my wife and daughter, Nikola Tesla, Robert Heinlein’s cat Pixel, Dr. Ludweg Meyer, and retired Mafioso Bert The Shirt, graciously lent to me by his creator Laurence Shames, whose ten Key West novels and one short story (so far) are all treasures I cherish and re-read often. I am the sort of writer who most enjoys having written: my favorite part is usually typing “—30—.” But CALLAHAN’S KEY was a book I genuinely enjoyed writing, and finished reluctantly.

That happens more often with short stories, since they simply don’t last long enough to become oppressive. MY FAVORITE SHORTS is exactly what it says. And for lagniappe, I threw in some original music: in keeping with the slightly risqué title, it includes a couple of tracks on which I am heard…uh…playing with myself. If your e-book reader (like mine) does not allow you to play music, please be patient, and when I get around to it, I’ll post those tracks to this website.

Kris tells me that MY FAVORITE SHORTS uploaded successfully to Barnes & Noble and iTunes, and is now on sale there, but there’s some technical problem with Amazon, which she suspects is because the music is making the file too large, so we may have to drop the music from the Kindle edition. Again, it’ll show up here eventually.

And with any luck, CALLAHAN’S KEY—number 8 of the 9 Callahan books that currently exist—is available at all three of those locations either as we speak, or Real Soon Now. In plenty of time to help celebrate the first day of Spring! Also, a Callahan’s title would be a perfect gift for St. Patrick’s Day....


11 September, 2015:

I am grattered and flatified to be able to report that I have tied with Charles Lee Jackson II for this year’s Forry Award, given out in memory of the late great Forrest J. Ackerman since 1966 by the members of LASFS, the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society.

It’s a lifetime-achievement honour, and the list of previous winners is so impressive I can’t resist reproducing it here:

1966 Ray Bradbury
1967 Fritz Leiber
1968 Poul Anderson
1969 Larry Niven
1970 Harlan Ellison
1971 Theodore Sturgeon
1972 A.E. van Vogt
1973 C.L. Moore
1974 Robert Bloch
1975 Kris Neville
1976 Marion Zimmer Bradley
1977 L. Sprague de Camp
1978 Leigh Brackett
1979 Jerry Pournelle
1980 Robert A. Heinlein
1981 Horace Gold
1982 Arthur C. Clarke
1983 Frank Kelly Freas
1984 Julius Schwartz
1985 Robert Silverberg
1986 Jack Williamson
1987 Donald A. Wollheim
1988 Ursula K. Le Guin
1989 Andre Norton
1990 Isaac Asimov
1991 Curt Siodmak
1992 Hal Clement
1993 Roger Zelazny
1994 Frederik Pohl
1995 Harry Turtledove
1996 Chuck Jones
1997 Jack Vance
1998 David Brin
1999 Connie Willis
2000 Anne McCaffrey
2001 Ray Harryhausen
2002 Forrest J Ackerman
2003 Philip Jose Farmer
2004 Len Moffatt
2005 John DeChancie
2006 William Tenn
2007 David Gerrold
2008 Joss Whedon
2009 Fred Patten
2010 Karen Anderson
2011 Mike Glyer
2012 Terry Pratchett
2013 Lois McMaster Bujold
2014 Tim Powers

I have to say I’m in some damn fine company. Most of the gods of my personal pantheon are there. My only regret is that Jeanne can’t be here to share this with me.

My profound, sincere thanks to the members of LASFS. I look forward with great eagerness to receiving the plaque that I have read comes with the award, and I hope one day I’ll have an opportunity to view the special plaque in LASFS HQ on which I understand my name will now be inscribed with those above.


Where Tesla Meets Robinson....Near Callahan's Place
(all photos by John Moore)

In the first photo (#546), the buildings visible on the right, behind my brother-in-law John Moore's PT Cruiser, are all that remains today of Wardenclyffe, Nikola Tesla's laboratory in Shoreham NY, designed by Stanford White. All but invisible in the woods directly behind me is the huge circular concrete base of the 187-foot-tall tower Tesla raised for the purpose of giving free limitless electricity to the whole world--until his chief backer J.P. Morgan found out, and pulled the plug. (Perhaps one of the most apt uses ever of that particular metaphor.)

Notice the street sign in the foreground. I'm shown standing at the closest spot a civilian can now get to the surviving structures: the corner of Tesla St. and Robinson St. (See photo #551) No shit. It's within a block or two of Rte. 25-A--which is the only location I ever gave for the original Callahan's Place.

Robinson St. Tesla St.

Some, including me, believe it was with that tower, designed by White's associate W.D. Crow (which, by the way, took the best efforts of three successive demolition firms to bring down; a shitload of dynamite was required) that Tesla accidentally caused the Tunguska Event of 1908, which leveled 2,150 square kilometers of Siberian wilderness. See my CALLAHAN'S KEY for details (and see photo #553 for a better shot of the tower's base). He also designed and produced the first Tesla Turbine there, and did the first mass production of Tesla Coils.

The site was subsequently purchased by the Agfa corporation, which polluted it with photographic chemicals so horrifically that it's now a Superfund Cleanup Site, which is why it's surrounded by high chain-link with serious barbed wire on top and camera surveillance. (see photo #559)

Wardenclyffe Superfund Cleanup Site

By a coincidence even more gasp-worthy to me than the name of the nearest intersection, the Wardenclyffe property is in the path of a huge power-line right of way corridor (seen in photo #562), which was constructed for the purpose of carrying the immense amounts of electricity that were expected to be generated by the Shoreham nuclear power plant only a few miles away--which never opened, thanks in part to the efforts of my anti-nuke friends David Crosby and Graham Nash. The reactor was fired up exactly once before it was abandoned, but never produced a single watt. TWO schemes to bring almost limitless power to the Long Island/NYC area, and both of them failed utterly, the first due to greed, the second to fear. A dispiriting thing to see and contemplate....relieved only slightly by the visible presence in that power-tower corridor of cell-phone towers (see photo #565), a technology that did not fail.

power corridor cell phone tower

In photo # 579, taken from where John's car is seen parked in the first photo, you can see the back stairway on which I like to imagine Tesla used to catch a smoke between experiments.


There are several groups presently trying to have Wardenclyffe cleaned up and turned into a museum/historic site/tourist attraction--among them the Tesla Science Center mentioned at the bottom of this webpage. Please Google them all, and support all you find worthy. A science center and museum at Wardenclyffe would be a fitting memorial for the man who invented the modern world single-handed, and got screwed out of all the money and most of the credit.

As Wikipedia notes:

Designation of the structure as a National Landmark is awaiting completion of plant decommissioning activities by its present owner. [The Agfa Corporation--SR]
In 1976, an application was filed to nominate the main building for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It failed to get approval. The Tesla Wardenclyffe Project, Inc. was established in 1994 for the purpose of seeking placement of the Wardenclyffe laboratory-office building and the Tesla tower foundation on both the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. Its mission is the preservation and adaptive reuse of Wardenclyffe, the century-old laboratory of electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla located in Shoreham, Long Island, New York. In October 1994 a second application for formal nomination was filed. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation conducted inspections and determined the facility meets New York State criteria for historic designation. A second visit was made on February 25, 2009. The site cannot be registered until it is nominated by a willing owner.

Anyway, that's how I spent (part of) my winter vacation. The first thing I intend to do when I get home in mid-January will be to record and post a new podcast for you. In the meantime, I hope you'll find these photos entertaining.

What's New

  • Heinlein Award Spider has won the 2008 Robert A. Heinlein Award for Lifetime Excellence in Literature!

    This year’s co-winners of the 2008 Robert A. Heinlein Award for Lifetime Excellence in Literature were announced at the 66th World Science Fiction Convention, Denvention 3; they are Ben Bova...and Spider Robinson.

    ...and more happy Heinleinian news!

    Most readers who’ve responded to VARIABLE STAR by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson have expressed strong desire to know what happened next. Spider is delighted to report his agent Eleanor Wood has, in the worst times in sf publishing history, sold Tor Books not just one but three sequels to VARIABLE STAR, to be known collectively as The Orphan Stars Trilogy. For more information, listen to Spider On The Web #59.

  • Please help save Nikola Tesla's memory.

    Wardenclyffe, Nikola Tesla's only surviving labratory is currently for sale, and the owners are threatening to raze the buildings in spite of the state acknowledging their importance as an historical landmark.

    The Tesla Science Center wants to save Wardenclyffe, and turn it into the museum it should be.

    Fans of the CALLAHAN'S series know that Tesla was an important figure in Spider's heart, and he mentioned Wardenclyffe in several books beginning with CALLAHAN'S KEY. Anyone interested in preserving the memory of Tesla can make a donation to The Tesla Science Center to help save Wardenclyffe.

  • Jeanne Robinson and her co-producer/writer James Sposto have launched a website to promote the Stardance feature film project at: Get the all the news and photos at the Press Room link and the blog Watch video clips of the Stardance team adventures on the December 30, 2008 flight on Zero-Gravity Corporation’s refitted 727 on the Homepage, where Jeanne put her concepts of “dance beyond the bonds of gravity” to the test.
    Stardance Experience Movie