Barbara Paul's Odds & Ends Page


Odds & Ends

Organizations I belong to

SinC Sisters in Crime is the most effective of the several mystery groups operating today. Founded by Sara Paretsky, SinC is an organization of 3800 fans, writers, editors, agents, and booksellers who have come together to stop discrimination against women writers in the mystery field.

There was a time when the men automatically got the bigger advances, the bigger piece of the advertising pie, the more reviews. That inequitable situation is greatly changed now, thanks almost exclusively to the efforts of SinC. More women mystery writers are being published now than ever before, more are being reviewed, and -- most importantly -- more are being read. The entire field has benefited from SinC's endeavors. Click on the small logo above to visit the SinC Hq website.

Sisters in Crime Internet Chapter

SinC's online chapter (originally on GEnie, now on the web) is meant to provide a meeting place for those who live in areas that have no local chapters; and every member of SinC is welcome to join, even if she/he already belongs to a local chapter. I have a special interest in this chapter, because I founded it.

To visit the Internet Chapter web site, just...


SinC-IC  Web Ring
To visit the SinC Internet Chapter members'  home pages, click here. Then click on the blue button at the top of the screen.

SFWA Science Fiction Writers of America is a collection of the most cantankerous, high-strung, thin-skinned, loud-mouthed, contentious people I've ever known...and I wouldn't have them any other way. They're also funny, well-read, and productive. SFWA is the most livewire writers' organization I know of.

SFWA is in there pitching to improve the writer's lot, helping with such practical matters as publishers who renege on contracts, royalties due that somehow don't get paid, etc. Much of the organization's sense of community was lost when GEnie finally closed its doors. You can visit the SFWA website by clicking on the logo.

The group has officially changed its name to Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Maybe someday we'll all call it that.

A few links
Click on the graphics.

CopNet This site maintains a list of support pages for those whose jobs are fighting crime, with links to law enforcement agencies ranging from the FBI through counterterrorist groups to the campus cops at Rutgers. CopNet is all cop stuff, for cops. A useful place for a mystery writer to know about.

SETIAre you taking part in the SETI@home project? The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence uses participants' home computers when they're not otherwise engaged to analyze signals gathered by the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico. Software provided by SETI does all the data analysis and even acts as a screensaver.


Lois Paul & Partners is my daughter-in-law's company; strategic communications and PR for high-tech companies.

Star Trek
stampAfter a fourteen-year campaign led by Bill Kraft of St. Cloud, MN, the Post Office finally issued a Star Trek stamp -- but as one of a pane of mixed stamps celebrating the 1960s. If you want a Star Trek stamp, you have to buy fourteen other stamps to get it. Bill is launching a new campaign, for a single-issue stamp, and he could use your help.

Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet can lead you to every Shakespeare-related page on the web. Not just a list of links, but time-saving explanations of what to expect at the various sites (and there's a gazillion of them). Terry Gray's beautifully organized and conscientiously maintained site is itself a pleasure to browse, a feast for bardolators.
Here's the place to find a lot of science fiction writers. Check out Mark Sumner's list of links.

If you buy as much cat food as I do, a place that ships the stuff right to your door is a godsend.

Blake's 7 If you've never heard of Blake's 7, why not hop over to Lee Butler's site and get acquainted? And if you already are a B7 fan, you don't need me to tell you where all the web pages are.

The Mermaid Tavern is Kay Koehler's homage to the
sea -- in paintings (mostly her own), photographs, and literary allusions.

mystery links There are so many mystery links, I put them on a separate page. The list includes authors' web pages, fictional characters' pages, bookstores, publishers, conventions, interactive pages, organizations, a big collection of miscellaneous web sites (newsletters, magazines, etc.), mailing lists, and news groups.

iGourmet I love cheese. I adore cheese. A life without cheese must be dull indeed. iGourmet offers an ever-changing list of selections, including lovingly written descriptions of how the cheeses are made, with a little history of each. There's a cheese encyclopedia and a Cheese-of-the-Month Club.


Like opera? Andrew Cooper knows more about opera than anyone I've ever met. Read his commentaries on productions he's seen, from standard repertory operas to obscure and rarely performed works.

A few good books I've read recently...

Tour of the Merrimack, by R. M. Meluch (DAW).
#1 The Myriad
R. M. Meluch had written half a dozen offbeat science fiction novels by the early 90s but then dropped out of sight for 13 years. Now she's back, with the first book of a new series called Tour of the Merrimack. An Earth colony has rebelled and modeled itself after the Roman Empire, but Earth and the Romans have to put their differences aside when they are threatened by a common enemy. Called "The Hive" for a lack of a real name, the race of unstoppable creatures is moving through the galaxy eating everything in sight. Captain Farragut is the perfect commander for the Merrimack, crewed by as idiosyncratic a bunch of characters as you can ever hope to meet. This book is a good antidote to those works of SF that take themselves so very seriously; everything has its humorous side, even a couple of intense battles with The Hive. One Roman is on board, as a special advisor to Farragut. At one point a marine officer declares loudly he has never spoken Latin and he never will. To which the Roman replies simply, "Semper Fi." The story has a big surprise ending which sets the stage for the next book in the series.
#2 Wolf Star
That big surprise, which I must now reveal, was a time-travel paradox that changed all the relationships that the first book had established among the characters. Yet when the second book begins, those relationships are the same as they were before the paradox. It gradually becomes clear that the action of the second book takes place before that of the first -- Earth and the Romans are at war, Farragut and his crew hear of the Hive for the first time. And yet the characters remember things that happened in the first book; Farragut makes decisions based on those past/future events. The second book ends where the first one began, with a marine grieving loudly and angrily over the death of her lover. I don't know where Meluch is going with this, but I can't wait to find out. Great fun.

Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage, by Stephen Budiansky (Viking). MI-6 didn't spring into existence overnight; its origins go all the way back to the 16th century. Francis Walsingham had no experience in dealing with heads of state when he was made Ambassador to France, with the assignment of negotiating a semi-sincere proposed marriage between Protestant Queen Elizabeth and Catholic King Charles IX. His on-the-job training required him to lock horns with that master manipulator, Catherine de Medici (the king's mother). And he provided sanctuary to as many Protestant Englishmen as he could when the appalling St. Bartholomew's Day massacre took place (1572), in which French Catholics slaughtered over 100,000 of their fellow countrymen as punishment for the crime of embracing Protestantism. This baptism by fire taught Walsingham the importance of intelligence-gathering, which became England's primary defense against the superior military might of Spain and France. How he went about building his network of spies makes for fascinating reading.

Old Twentieth, by Joe Haldeman (Ace). Here's a different kind of Virtual Reality story, set in a future that's obsessed with the past. At a time when the human lifespan has been extended to centuries, the psychological need for closure can be satisfied only virtually, through visits to the past. To that end the entire 20th century has been recreated in VR, and much of the book is given over to imagined details of maintenance (such as finding out why a decade or so of New York City has lost all its virtual odors). Then someone dies in VR, thought to be a physical impossibility. This is a quiet book, contemplative and rather bemused. Good reading.

Mission to Minerva, by James P. Hogan (Baen). Hogan writes hard SF on a grand scale, and this book is no exception. The premise of this novel is that there was once an additional planet in the solar system, called Minerva. But that world was destroyed by its inhabitants, divided into two warring factions. The mission of the title is an attempt to travel back in time and create a new reality in which Minerva survives. Hogan thinks big, and he writes beautifully. What more could you ask?

The Aubrey/Maturin novels, by Patrick O'Brian (W. W. Norton). O'Brian has created two wonderful characters -- hearty, good-natured Captain Jack Aubrey, supremely capable at sea but something of a doofus on land; and his rather grubby, erudite friend, ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin who is also a spy for the Admiralty. Two flawed people, both of them capable of great acts of heroism. The humor is lively and never far from the surface; and the picture of life aboard 19th-century sailing vessels is fascinating, even if you don't know a jib from a topgallant. These books absolutely must be read in the order in which they were written (beginning with Master and Commander), because the entire series of 20 books is one continuing glorious adventure. Only 20; I wish there were more. But those 20 are even better on second reading. I'm going to leave this listing here forever.

Page created 27 June 1995;
last updated 2 July 2006.