Science Fiction Double Feature @ Phoenix Books!

On October 11th, Phoenix Books will be hosting two science fiction related events: Star Wars Reads Day, and the next installment of the Vermont SF Writer’s Series event, War Stories!

Star Wars Reads Day

Starting at 1:00pm, Star Wars Reads day is an international celebration of Star Wars books held each year. It was created by Lucasfilm and its publishing partners–Abrams, Chronicle Books, Dark Horse, Del Rey, DK Publishing, Random House Audio, Scholastic, Titan Magazines and Workman, and actively works to promote reading of all types.

Joining the event will be members of the 501st Legion’s New England Garrison, who’ll be on hand to pose for pictures. The store will also have Star Wars-themed crafts, and more! Costumes welcome.

RSVP here.

War Stories

Following Star Wars Reads Day, Geek Mountain State is pleased to present War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, an anthology edited by GMS founder Andrew Liptak. He will be joined by two of the book’s authors (potentially others), to read several of the stories from the anthology, to answer questions and to sign copies. Joining the event will be James Cambias and F. Brett Cox.

This event will start at 4pm.

RSVP here.

Release Day for The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton’s Lair

The sequel to S.S. Taylor’s The Expeditionersand the Treasure of Drowned Man’s CanyonThe Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton’s Lair is now out in stores today!

Here’s what it’s about:

Kit, Zander, and M. K. West are settling into their new lives as students at the Academy for the Exploratory Sciences when Kit finds another mysterious map left for him by their father, the brilliant, famous — and presumed dead — explorer Alexander West. Why did Alexander leave the maps behind, and why are government agents so determined to seize them? What is really going on in a mysterious and unknown stretch of the Caribbean, famous for its violent storms and shipwrecks? And what is the huge contraption M. K. is building in her workshop? As two world powers come to the brink of war, Kit must find a deadly hidden island and unlock its secrets, hoping he has the courage to follow the trail of maps, wherever it may lead.

Geek Things for September 23rd, 2014

  • Board Game Night, 5pm – 11pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • NEW! Tue MTG Draft, 6:30pm, Flights of Fantasy Books and Games, Albany, New York. (Gaming)
  • Magic the Gathering EDH/Casual play, 6:00pm, Triple Play Games, Claremont NH. (Gaming)
  • Tuesday Night Fights!, Triple Play Games, Claremont NH. (Gaming)
  • Archer Mayor reading & discussion. 7:00pm, Hancock Town Library, Hancock NH. (Authors)
  • Guided Nature Walk. 9am, Barre Town Forest, meet at Brook St. parking area, Barre Town. Info. 476-4185. (Hike)
  • “Vermont Connected” Summit. 9 am-4:30 pm, Vermont State House, Montpelier. $30. Pre-reg. at (Tech)
  • Tuesday Night Magic: Modern, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Black Moon Games, Lebanon NH. (Gaming)
  • 802MTG and 802RPG Burlington, 5:00pm – 7:45pm, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Game Night in Danby, 5:00pm – 10:00pm, Silas Griffith Inn, Danby. (Gaming)
  • MTG:Cubesday Tuesday, 6:30pm, Brap’s Magic, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • “Night Sky” Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium, 3:30pm – 4:00pm, Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, St. Johnsbury. (Astronomy)
  • Mathematics Seminar – Archimedes Meets Geometric Series: Robert Kantrowitz, Hamilton College, 3 – 4:15pm, Warner 202, Middlebury College, Middlebury. (Maths)
  • Story Explorers: Fall Is Here! I Love It! 10:30 am – 11:00 am, ECHO, Burlington. (KidS)
  • Technology Help, 10 am-1 pm, Ilsley Public Library, Middlebury. (Tech)
  • Knights of the Mystic Movie Club, 8 pm, Main Street Museum, White River Junction. (Movies)

Obscure Vermont: Experiencing East Mountain

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine and I made the drive up to the North East Kingdom, where we hiked up an access road to East Mountain, where the Air Force abandoned a radar installation. Chad over on Obscure Vermont recently made the same hike, and took some fantastic pictures of the site:

It was the mid 1950s, and the United States and The Soviet Union were in the middle of the Cold War. The race was on, both nations already possessing enough fire power to wipe out most major cities – the ensuing radiation would take care of the rest. According to those in the know, if a nuclear bomb was dropped, the result would be an obliterating flash of light, brighter than a thousand suns.
Paranoia gripped the nation, and preventative measures were taken by the government. Vermont’s desolate Northeast Kingdom became one chosen location to detect and be an early warning against the end of the world.
The United States Air Force chose East Mountain, a 3,438 foot sprawling ridge line surrounded by some of the most remote wilderness in all of Vermont, to be the site of a radar base. Construction started in 1954, and by 1956 and 21 million dollars later, the North Concord Air Force Station was functional. The base was designed to provide early warning signs and protection from nuclear fall out, as well as sending information to Strategic Air Command Bases.
About 174 men lived in the base in a village of tin and steel Quonset Huts, situated on a mid mountain plateau surrounded by almost impenetrable bogs. Their job was to guard the radar ears, which resided in massive steel and tin towers on the summit of East Mountain – constantly straining to hear the first whines from Soviet bombers coming from the skies above. The giant buildings were topped with large inflatable white domes that protected the radars. The government spared no expense protecting the United States from a possible soviet attack. People were urged to build bomb shelters in their basements, school kids were taught to hide under their desks in case of a nuclear blast, and almost every town had a fallout shelter.

Read his entire post here.

Fantastic Vermont: The Panel Discussion

Image copyright David Hartwell

Yesterday, we hosted a panel at the Burlington BooK Festival titled Fantastic Vermont, with the aim at taking a look at the nature of speculative fiction in Vermont over the years. On the panel was Brian Staveley, Daniel Mills, Erika Nichols, myself, Aimee Picchi, Brett Cox and Kristen Dearborn, all of whom have published in a variety of means.

In this panel, we talked about a couple of broad topics, starting off with how Vermont has influenced us as writers. There was a general consensus: Vermont is a bit of a backwater in New England, and particularly, Vermonters are a group of people who really identify with one another. Three of us on the panel were native Vermonters, something we noted we pointed out right away, almost unconsiously. Everyone else coming in from out of state noted this, that there’s a certain level of feeling like an outsider in the state when they arrived, which we attributed to geography and some amount of history. Vermont is the only New England state that’s land-locked, and historically, it’s been difficult to reach, with little to offer most people (farmers, once the west began to open up, left the state in droves), something that’s changed as technology and infrastructure have opened the state up a bit more.

Another thing that we noted was Vermont’s two personalities: the utter beauty of the state, with its forests, mountains, lack of bill boards, small towns and more, and the length and darkness of the nights, when scary things seem to come out. It seems as though a number of us on the panel have been drawn to the snow, darkness and terror, as well as historical authors, such as H.P. Lovecraft and Shirley Jackson.

There was also some discussion on how the insular community culture really thrives with horror novels and stories: just look at how The Lottery was recieved, and how people thought that it was a real thing. Indeed, there’s some places where I can imagine it happening!

We also touched on how, with a state of so many writers, there’s so few science fiction and fantasy authors – we tacked this up to a long-standing impression that science fiction and fantasy stories are sub-par stories, with a legacy coming out of the pulps. It’s interesting to see how this idea lingers, and how it’s beginning to change a bit.

All in all, the event was well recieved, with a good audience in house. Thank you to everyone who came!

Nerdcore Concert: MC Chris, MC Lars and Spose


Higher Ground will be home to a nerdcore concert on Saturday, October 4th, when MC Chris, MC Lars and Spose come through on their Ghosthunters Tour. Doors will open at 8:00 pm with the show starting at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $12 in advance, and $15 at the door.

MC Chris and MC Lars have some fantastic songs out there, rapping about all manner of geek things. This looks like it’ll be a fun concert!

As an added bonus, Tilt Classic Arcade and Ale House says that they’ll give you six free tokens if you come in after the concert with a ticket stub.

Hobbit Day at Phoenix Books!

Phoenix Books in Essex and Burlington are celebrating Bilbo Baggin’s birthday today! Head over to either store to celebrate:

Celebrate Bilbo’s birthday and your love of The Hobbit with us. Need another reason to celebrate? The third film in The Hobbit Trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies comes out in theaters from Warner Bros. Pictures on December 17th.

Here at Phoenix Books Burlington and Essex, we’ll have some fun Hobbit giveaways (while supplies last)!

Geek Things for September 22nd, 2014

  • Hobbit Day, 5:48pm, Phoenix Books, Burlington and Essex. (Tolkien)
  • Casual Card Games, 5:30pm – 11:00pm, Quarterstaff Games, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • ‘Stop. Think. Connect. Two Steps Ahead: Protect Your Digital Life’, 9-11 am, Milano Ballroom, Norwich University, Northfield. (InfoSec)
  • Martha Reid – “Public Libraries and Lifelong Learning: Changes, Opportunities and Challenges.”, 2 pm, Faith United Methodist Church, South Burlington. $5. (Libraries)
  • Ask an Archaeologist, 5:30-7:30 pm, Eureka Schoolhouse, Springfield. (Archaeology)
  • “Night Sky” Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium, 3:30pm – 4:00pm, Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, St. Johnsbury (Astronomy)
  • Pathfinder Society, Brap’s Magic, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • MTG:MNM Brap’s, 6:30pm, Brap’s Magic, Burlington. (Gaming)
  • Warmachine/Hordes Night, 6:00pm, Triple Play Games, Claremont NH. (Gaming)

Reminder: Fantastic Vermont Panel and Reading!


A final reminder for the week: we’ll be hosting a panel called Fantastic Vermont, which will look at how Vermont and speculative fiction intersect. Brian Staveley, Brett Cox, Erika Nichols, Aimee Picchi and Kristin Dearborn will all take part. The panel will kick off at 3:30 pm at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington.

Afterwards, join us at the headquarters of the Burlington Writer’s Workshop at 5:00pm, where our panelists will read one of their own stories.

We hope to see you there!

Vermont Comic Con Anti-Harassment Policy


Vermont Comic Con is coming up, and one of the things that we’re happy to see that they’ve put together is a solid policy for conduct at the event. Conventions are increasingly taking harrassment of patrons seriously, and we’re very happy to see that VTCC has taken the time to put something like this together.

You can find the policy on their website.

Here’s what it says:

Vermont Comic Con is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, fandom, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, political background, body size, race, religion, etc.

We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. This includes, but is not limited to: physical assault, verbal harassment, sexual harassment, stalking, unwanted physical contact, unwanted advances, or inappropriate photography. (Inappropriate photography is defined as photography where the subject feels they are being stalked, exploited, degraded, or disrespected through being photographed. While it is reasonable that photographers will be photographing costumers and other parts of the convention, should this photography become harassing or sexual in nature, the photographer will be subject to the above harassment policy.) Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference (without a refund) at the discretion of the conference organizers.

Harassment is defined by the victim. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. If you cannot find a staff, crew, or volunteer member to assist you, please go to the information desks located near registration or near the entrance of the exhibition floor. Please report to us before taking matters into your own hands (such as personally confronting the aggressor or posting on social media). We have professional security and they are properly equipped for these contingencies.

The individual or group may be:

Warned to cease and desist;
Asked to leave the convention, or;
Banned from the convention for any period of time (without a refund).
Exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.

We expect participants to follow these rules at all conference venues and conference-related social Vermont Comic Con events.

We’re happy to see this: it defines what types of behavior are unacceptable at the convention, what steps to take if it happens, and what happens to the offender. This also appears to apply to all participants, whether it’s a costumer, attendee, volunteer or vendor.

As we noted on Twitter when we asked the convention if they had a policy (it wasn’t clearly linked on their website), this is important stuff. Far too often, (and not just at genre conventions), people are made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable by simply showing up to have a good time – harrassment of all types has been in the news lately, especially in the genre commuunity. Too often, this is pushed aside as being not important. This is a good step.