Return to Palau

by wjw on October 22, 2016

img_0057After two days on airplanes and in airports, we got to spend a night in a luxury hotel.  It caters more to Japanese than American visitors, so the breakfast buffet had some interesting choices.  I had a vegetable stir-fry of udon noodles topped with a couple eggs sunny-side-up, along with tropical fruit and coffee, and from the terrace I could view the Palau Aggressor, which I’ll be boarding in a few hours, for a week of undersea adventure.

img_0065Last time I was in Palau I got an award-winning story out of it, so fingers crossed.

The hotel room came equipped with a perfectly magnificent multi-function Panasonic toilet, complete with a heated seat (somewhat less useful here in the tropics, I wot).  There was an entire control arm full of buttons and instructions, some of which were only in Japanese.

Fortunately for dim-witted foreigners there was a button on top that you could press to cause it to flush.

Mechanics to the rescue!

Here’s a detailed photo of some of the instructions:




by wjw on October 19, 2016

img_1556I’m going off to the Pacific for two and a half weeks, to commune with my finny friends.

Much of that time I’ll be on a boat with no phone or internet connection, which I for one find to be a delightful prospect.  The rest of the time I’ll be on one or another island.  I don’t know what the online setup there will be, but I expect it it will make me long for the good old days of dial-up service.  I don’t think they’re running a lot of T3 connections to Pacific atolls, but maybe I’m wrong.

Posting in the interim will be sparse.  Play nice, and I’ll tell you stories when I get back.

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Wonderful World of Color

by wjw on October 18, 2016

img_0022When I made my trip in August to view the Tall Ships, I decided to replace my digital Pentax SLR.  I chose the camera in the first place so that I could use the lenses that belonged to my beloved old Pentax film camera, which finally pooped out around 2006.  But the new camera had auto-focusing, while the old lenses did not, and the two systems didn’t work very well together.  After it jammed when trying to use my old zoom lens, I paid a couple hundred bucks to get it repaired; and after it jammed in Green Bay, I decided not to spend the money for what was clearly a temporary fix.

Plus, when you’re using an SLR, the mirror flips up when you’re taking the picture, and this allows dust and/or debris to enter the camera.  This isn’t so important when you’re using film, because the dust would contaminate one tiny bit of the film and then get rolled up in the film roll; but when the dust ends up on a digital sensor grid there can be trouble.

In my Pentax, there was enough debris on the sensor grid to appear as little spots on the finished photo, as if the lens was lightly speckled with water drops.  (These were easily repaired in Photoshop, but I resented having to do it.)  I failed in any attempt to remove the debris, and I didn’t want to spend the money to send the camera back to Pentax for whatever it is they do for the problem.  I decided to spend the money on a camera that didn’t have these problems.

I also carry a Canon Elph pocket camera, which is handy and takes good pictures, but which lacks a degree of flexibility.  I wanted a very good zoom feature, and more options than were available in a pocket camera.

I’d heard about “super zoom” cameras, and after I looked into reviews and whatnot, I got a Canon Power Shot SX530 HS.  The controls are very similar to my little Elph, so there was a large degree of familiarity right on the first use.  It wasn’t an SLR, so there would be no problem of contamination of the sensor grid.  And the optical zoom was 50-to-1, with a whole powerful software package to keep the picture from jerking or blurring, and which would allow me to take good pictures of rocket ships heading for space should I ever have that opportunity.

And I got the camera for relatively little money, because the SX530 has already been replaced by a camera with a 100-to-1 optical zoom.

So the other weekend we went to Fourth of July Canyon, which is a little canyon with a micro-climate suitable for the maple trees that covered the area during the last Ice Age, and I took lots of pictures.  I tried deliberately to take pictures that would be challenging for the camera’s little robot brain, featuring light and dark, near and far, bright and shadow, contrast and no contrast.  The camera performed well throughout, except for two occasions when the brain crashed and shut the camera down.  It rebooted right away when I pressed the power button.

I don’t think this will be a problem, because I was deliberately trying to overtax the camera.  But more experiments are in the offing, so soon I’ll know for sure.


Last Chance

by wjw on October 16, 2016

investments750My 99-cent sale on my Praxis novel Investments, and my sale (outside North America) of The Praxis, are now entering their last hours.

So if you want Investments at 99 cents, please go to:   [kindle] [nook] [Smashwords] [iBooks] [Kobo].

And The Praxis may still be found for 99 cents at:, and Google!

But only for a few hours!  Click now!

 UPDATE: The sale is over!  Catch you next time!


Ms Bourke Opines

by wjw on October 13, 2016

impersonations101Liz Bourke really likes Impersonations.  Odds are that you will, too.


Reviews Too Late: Staying Up Too Late with HBO

October 13, 2016

I got free HBO last weekend as part of a promotion for Westworld, which I didn’t watch.  But I did sit down to watch a number of movies I hadn’t seen in theaters.  (I see so few movies on release that if I were an Oscar voter, I’d be voting only for the Retro Oscars.) And […]

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Taos Toolbox 2017

October 9, 2016

Taos Toolbox, master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy, is on track for 2017!  The workshop will take place June 18-July 1 2017, in Angel Fire, NM.  Teaching will be Nancy Kress, Walter Jon Williams, and special lecturers Stephen Gould and EM Tippetts. This is a serious workshop for anyone who wants to […]

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Here, There, and Another Place

October 7, 2016

I am newly located in various corners of cyberspace.  First up, I am interviewed at MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape, specifically about Impersonations, but also about a few other things. Nextly, over on, I have provided an appreciation of the strange and marvelous fiction of Cordwainer Smith. And lastly, EBookDaily has seen fit to give Investments a promotion.  This is […]

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Release Day!

October 4, 2016

George R.R. Martin writes: “Interstellar adventure has a new king, and his name is Walter Jon Williams.”  Now, my friends, comes the Return of the King. The new Praxis novel Impersonations is released upon the world today, either in trade paperback or ebook format.  You may order the book from your local bookstore, or order online from Barnes […]

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Uranus is Heaven!

October 2, 2016

Betcha didn’t know that Frank Sinatra recorded science fiction songs. Not only that, these were on an album that sold incredibly well and was nominated for Grammys. “Trilogy: Past, Present, Future” was a three-album boxed set released in 1977, and was produced by Gordon Jenkins, who more or less invented the idea of the concept […]

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