Read “Guyot Hall under Quarantine” and “The Musical Mineralogist” in The Smilodon

Since the pandemic began, we’ve all had Zoom calls and Zoom meetings. They have their challenges—but what about a Zoom dissertation defense? That was the scenario faced by four Princeton Geosciences Ph.D. candidates this past spring.

It was an honor to be asked to write the cover story for this year’s issue of The Smilodon, the newsletter of the Princeton University Department of Geosciences which traces its history back to 1927.

“Guyot Hall under Quarantine” spotlights the experience of four Princeton Ph.D. candidates who received their doctorates during the COVID-19 lockdown. Taking center stage is their spectacular research—from tracking earthquakes in the most remote reaches of the South Pacific to studying the potential for life on Mars.

In this issue of The Smilodon, it was also a pleasure to write my third article profiling a quirky Princeton mineralogist (the first two, about a Mayor-Mineralogist and Hamilton’s duel doctor, were published in Princeton Alumni Weekly).

“Archibald MacMartin, the Musical Mineralogist” traces the life of a mysterious alumnus who left Princeton with 2,500 exemplary minerals in its collection—as well as founded the first independent music periodical in New York.

You can access a PDF of the issue, featuring both articles, at this link. Thanks for reading, and stay safe and well!

“Tales from the Deep” Anthology due out Nov. 2020

Check out the cool promo page for Flying Ketchup Press’ new speculative fiction anthology, Tales from the Deep, featuring my short story, “Falling.”

From the publisher’s description:

This short story collection will take readers deep into dystopian future water worlds and alien planets that look like home. You’ll visit a doctor in the high mountains of Persia, dive into the microbiology of alien moons, and into the dark recesses of the lives of warriors, deep space travelers, cyborg creatures, and adventurers of all kinds.

–Flying Ketchup Press

The anthology arrives November 2020 in paperback & ebook.

Get ready for Frank Lloyd Wright-themed horror fiction as you’ve never seen it.

Fallingwater, Summer 2018. Photo by Harrison Blackman.

Read “No ‘I’ in Travel?: Travel writing in the Trump era” in The Startup

Travel writing has a long and storied history, dating back to the time of Herodotus. But what is the place of travel writing in the 21st century?

Should travel writing be written by a traveler, or by people who live in the places being written about in question? Should travel writing use the first-person perspective? And how should travel journalists frame their coverage in the age of Trump?

I try to address these questions in my review of The Best American Travel Writing 2019 anthology: “No ‘I’ in Travel: Travel writing in the Trump era” published in The Start Up, Medium’s largest publication. Check it out at the above hyperlink; I hope it can at least distract you from the terrible public health crisis afflicting the globe.

Stay inside and wash your hands!

Read “The Duel Doctor in Weehawken” in Princeton Alumni Weekly

Curious about the connection between the Hamilton-Burr duel, grave-robbing, the US’s first botanical garden, and Rockefeller Center?

Today, Dr. David Hosack is mostly known as the attendant doctor during the Hamilton-Burr duel, a role which overshadowed his career as a leading American physician and botanical pioneer.

Read my latest piece in Princeton Alumni Weekly about David Hosack, one of America’s “founding physicians.”

Art by Daniel Hertzberg for PAW. 

 

 

Read “In Texas, a tale of two cities” on Medium

Working from home today? Tired of reading about COVID-19?

Maybe you’ll read about Texas. Last week, I got the chance to spend time in San Antonio and Austin, TX during the 2020 AWP Conference (which, of course, was marred by the then-dawning novel coronavirus pandemic).

During my travels, what I learned was this: If San Antonio offers a glimpse of Texas’ past, Austin might just yet be a glimpse of its future.

Check out my new travel piece on the divergent trajectories of San Antonio and Austin, TX, from my Medium blog.

Reading at Reno’s Coffee N’ Comics, Monday, January 20

On Monday, January, 20, I’m happy to announce I’ll be part of a group of local writers reading at the latest, “Writer’s Resist” event, to be held at Reno, Nevada’s Coffee N’ Comics on Monday, January 20 from 6-8 PM.

I’ll be reading a short piece on the uncanny similarities between our current times and the bonkers 1920 administration of President Warren G. Harding. Hope to see y’all there.

Read “The Rise of Skywalker’s Story Problem” on Medium

Two years ago, I wrote The Last Jedi had a ‘snark problem,’ a critique that resonated with more than 10k readers and was featured as an audio story (!).

Well, this time The Rise of Skywalker has a ‘story problem’—a cavalier attitude toward storytelling that renders the movie into a series of cheap workarounds which discount the intelligence of its audience and bely its creators’ indifference to their own work, showcasing a greater problem in popular entertainment more generally.

Read my latest Star Wars review on Medium (spoiler alert). Thanks for reading!

“Falling” to be published in Flying Ketchup Press’ “Tales from the Deep” in Spring 2020

I’m thrilled to announced my short story, “Falling,” will be published this spring in Tales from the Deep, an anthology of fantasy, horror and science fiction.

The anthology will be the product of Flying Ketchup Press, a small press based in Kansas City, MO, and be published sometime after May 2020.

“Falling” is a gothic horror retelling of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House for the Kaufmann family in Pennsylvania.

In the story, retail scion Edward Zeliger Jr. (a fictional representation of E. J. Kaufmann Jr.) becomes fascinated with a mysterious architect (a portrayal of Wright), who Edward Jr.’s father has hired to build their family’s country house. But The Architect’s sublime (and perhaps supernatural) work strives to achieve harmony with nature, a process which has devastating effects on the Zeliger family—and leads Edward Jr. along the dark path constructed by the master builder.

In July 2019, Fallingwater was proclaimed a World Heritage Site. So it is fitting that, a year later, this short story—an appreciation yet cautionary tale about Wright’s work—will reach the wider world. Thanks to all the beta readers who helped shape it!

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Fallingwater. Photo by Harrison Blackman, August 2018.