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Let me tell you about one person: Scott Allen.
When I was in High School, I was obsessed with Star Wars. I’d read the books, watched the movies, and chatted about everything on internet forums such as the TheForce.net’s Jedi Council Forums. It wasn’t long before that interaction wasn’t enough: I needed more.
Throughout my time at Harwood Union High School, I’d pestered our band director to play the music from Star Wars. Poor Mr. Rivers put up with six years of me constantly asking, and eventually caved: the last concert that I played in, we played a selection of the music. That should of been enough, but we needed to do more: I invited the 501st Legion to come play.
This was 2003, and the group was much smaller then. I had found out about this amazing organization through pictures in Star Wars Insider, and figured that they might send someone up. To my surprise, one of them did: Scott. He drove up from Rhode Island, suited up and took part in the concert, marching down one of the central aisles. The crowd went nuts. I also knew what I wanted to do next: get one of my own.
Scott ended up selling me a suit of armor: a pre-trimmed FX kit that came with everything. I wasn’t really aware of any presence in Vermont, although there were a couple of members. I trooped in public a couple of times, at Halloween. At college, I was the guy with the storm trooper suit. I attended Celebration 3, meeting other members of the group for the first time.
When I left college, the 501st turned out to be the perfect hobby for someone with a bit of disposable income and plenty of time on the weekends. I began making the long drive down every couple of weekends to anything I could get time to do: conventions, bookstore events, even escorted Snoop Dogg once in Times Square. I bought a Clone Trooper, and assembled it in my apartment.
There weren’t many of my friends who were interested in the group, however. My friend Mike joined up, and we trooped together before he moved away. Then I found my friend Lara, and eventually convinced her to join. We got Dave to come out of retirement and join us. Another trooper joined us, then another, over the years. We trooped a bunch of things in Vermont, anything to establish a basic presence in the state. We dreamed of putting together a proper squad, so that we’d have a good, permanent presence in the state. I tracked recruits and followed up with people: more often than not, they didn’t come through.
Then last year, we had a flood. We set up a booth at Vermont Comic Con, and got a long list of names: people who were genuinely interested. We did a group build; six boxes of Stormtrooper armor arrived at my house one day. I set up a Facebook group, e-mailed everyone on my list. By December, we had 10 people, and appeared at the first screening of The Force Awakens and blew everyone away.
And now, we just got word that our unit is now approved: the Green Mountain Squad is now, after so many miles, e-mails, chats and armor building sessions. It’s more than just a unit: it’s a community of like-minded people who share an interest in Star Wars, for sure, but who have bought in to the ideals of the 501st Legion: giving back to the community. I’m proud of the group that’s come together: it’s like finding friends who you knew were out there, but hadn’t come across yet.
All of that comes down to Scott, who made that massive drive from Rhode Island, just to make a high school band concert the best that it could be.
I can’t wait to see what we do next: I think that the best is yet to come.
20 November 2015 @ 08:30 pm
With Amazon​ releasing The Man In The High Castle, I take a look at how PKD​ wrote the novel over on Kirkus Reviews: http://bit.ly/1Lrx6wG 
28 May 2015 @ 06:17 pm
I've had a trio of articles pop up this week.

Evolution of a Space Epic: James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse: This is the product of several months worth of work, a visit to a film set in Toronto, and lots of interviews. Very happy with how this one came out.
The Not-So-Typical Adventures of Lois McMaster Bujold: My latest for Kirkus Reviews, looking at Lois McMaster Bujold.
Escaping the Apocalypse: My first post for the Science Fiction Book Club, this one about the end of the world.
01 May 2015 @ 09:15 pm
Over on Clarkesworld Magazine, I've got an article about the history of the discovery and exploration of the planet Mars, and how science fiction adapted over time. I'm pretty excited to have a piece there - it's a prestigious magazine, and I had a lot of fun writing up this piece:


Over in Kirkusland, I've had a bunch of posts up since I last posted in February:

Terry Pratchett: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/memoriam-sir-terry-pratchett-1948-2015/
Jack Williamson: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/jack-williamsons-space-operas/
A. Merritt: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/merritt-and-plausible-science-fiction/
Culture Wars: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/science-fictions-culture-wars/
Douglas Adams: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/highly-amusing-douglas-adams/

23 February 2015 @ 06:38 pm
Over on io9, I've written a short history of the discovery of Ceres, one of the coolest points in the solar system: http://io9.com/the-complete-history-of-ceres-the-planet-between-m-1687511548  
29 January 2015 @ 06:22 pm
New column up over on Kirkus Reviews! We look at the rise of the chain bookstore and the rise of mega-bestsellers: http://bit.ly/1zj47bF
15 January 2015 @ 03:57 pm
New Kirkus column up: this time, a bit of a change from the usual: how did the paperback novel change the SF genre? https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/rise-paperback-novel/
06 January 2015 @ 06:17 pm
Over on Kirkus Reviews, I've taken a look at the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/kim-stanley-robinsons-mars/
21 November 2014 @ 08:55 am
My latest column is now up on Kirkus Review: Looking at Joanna Russ's particular brand of Feminisim and her contributions to SF:   https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/radical-joanna-russ/
10 November 2014 @ 07:36 pm


Public service announcement: Apex Publications has discounted War Stories: New Military Science Fiction in light of Veteran’s Day today. You can pick up the book for 40% off the cover price (print and eBook) directly from their website. The sale will run today through midnight tomorrow. If you’ve been looking to pick up a copy, now’s a good opportunity to do so!

In other news, the book has been picking up some very good reviews, which I’m happy about.

The Atlantic Council (via their Art of Future War project) called War Stories “a superb anthology with the kind of diverse insights and compelling narratives that make it a very practical book for national security professionals as much as it is a highly enjoyable read for die-hard military sci-fi fans. ” You can read the rest of the review here, as well as a short interview with Jaym and myself!

SF Book Reviews noted “War Stories is a collection of excellent works and undoubtedly an impressive tome for the bookshelf,” and you can read the rest of the review here.

So, feel free to pick it up!