Architecture is a challenge built on techno trends
And many tough decision upon which a system bends.
So when I’m asked for my advice by strangers and by friends,
I look them squarely in the eye and answer, “It depends!”

Depends on what app server’s hot,
What the last SVP bought,
The foresnics of this system’s rot,
And other stuff that I forgot.

This project’s benediction —
Is it real or is it fiction?
I can take no firm position.
I am not a geek magician
Blessed with techno-precognition.
So I have no ammunition
For your big Enterprise mission.
I am just a politician
Who, waffling, contends:
“It’s architecture – it depends!”

Depends on who’s been talking smack,
Who has lots and lots of cash,
On who’s been drinking sour mash
Or maybe even smoking crack.

You want to know if you should build a data access bus
Or buy a turnkey product to ameliorate your fuss
But if you ask me what a systems guru recommends,
I’ll look you squarely in the eye and answer, “It depends!”

Depends on what’s your IDE,
Your build procedures currently
And what the process wonks defend.
Let’s just say it all depends.

Those Accenture guys will never leave!  Their project never ends!
That code they wrote!  I’d like to kill them!  Them and all their friends!
You want me to clean up their mess, your disbelief suspends,
I’ll look you squarely in the eye and answer, “It depends!”

Will this pig scale?
It all depends!
This framework hale?
Dot NET the Holy Grail?
Executives in jail?

It just depends!
Production ready?
Well, I’ll tell you

That in my best projection
Based on thorough and professional
Analysis and code dissection,
Testing that’s regressional,

Interviews confessional,
Demos very sleek,
With ducky-horsey Visio,
And Power Point technique,
And thirty six page writeup
Which to reputation lends
I’ll look you boldly in the eye
And tell you, “It depends!”

Dan Marcus (with apologies to John Vorhaus and his excellent book “Killer Poker”)

(reposted from the sad ashes of Posterous)

I will be lurking about most of the weekend, but will be reading from new work at 4:30 PM on Friday in the Santa Rosa room.  See you there.

Checking out the ACC award longlist and shortlist (as well as the award itself, of course) is a great way to get yourself provisioned with interesting reading material.

From Award Director, Tom Hunter:

“It’s important to remember that prizes like the Clarke Award are first and foremost celebrations. We celebrate new books and new writers, but most of all we celebrate alongside all the readers and lovers of stories who are given a unique invitation to encounter something new, something strange and something wonderful whenever a new shortlist is announced. The love of books and the sharing of stories is the true legacy we should aim to create.”

2015 Winner  Station Eleven, also a National Book Award Finalist.  This was a great read, and I’m delighted to see it getting the recognition it deserves.

2015 Shortlist. Man, The Girl With All The Gifts made it onto the shortlist.  If you haven’t read this yet, check it out. Possibly my favorite SF book of 2014.

2015 Longlist. No guarantee that everything on this list will kick ass, but there are some really fine titles and authors represented here.


As of this year, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy has been added to the Houghton Mifflin annual roster of “Best Of” titles (Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories, etc.  My story, Albion Upon The Rock (Fantasy and Science Fiction, Mar/Apr 2014) made the short list for this inaugural anthology and is listed in the “Other Notable Stories of 2014” section in the back.  Although I didn’t make the final cut, I am still pleased as all get-out.

I’m pleased to announce that my novel, Burn Rate, is now available on Kindle.

Fat City

Leonard Gardner’s proto-Cali-noir masterpiece.  I read this as a young man, loved it, and haven’t thought much about it since (along with the many other authors I read in my misspent youth that have slipped into my brain’s archival storage – Celine, Donleavy, Crews, others …).  Just stumbled across it paging through post-purchase Amazon recs, sucked it down, and was immediately immersed in its bleak poetry.  Highly recommended.

I’m always looking for good writing warmups.  They’re like scales and arpeggios for musicians.  They get me in the zone before diving into serious work and they’re fun just for standalone word play.  Lately, I’ve been doing 20 lines a day of iambic pentameter.  Not poetry, not even poultry, just setting to cadence the random-ass stream of muttering bullshit that passes for thought in my addled brain.  For those who have somehow missed a standard issue liberal arts education, iambic pentameter is (basically) just a 5-beat line:  DUM-ba-DUM-ba-DUM-ba-DUM-ba-DUM. That’s it!  Kind of.  A bit like saying learning the hook to The Standells’ “Dirty Water” makes you a badass post-proto-punk. It does!  But it also doesn’t.   Regardless, jamming all your thoughts into this template can make you crazy almost immediately, and has a kind of Neil-Diamond-lyrics brainworm effect — you can’t fucking get it out of your head.  No, you can’t get it out of your head.

Some ‘xamples:

Pass the salt; these eggs are really bland.

I’m going to the store; you still need milk?

The cat puked on the rug – I’ll get a rag.

The London data center just went down.
I didn’t get a fucking page — did you?
The customers will make a lot of noise
Until we fix it like we always do.
And something something something rhymes with clown.

I missed the fucking bus again today!
I’ll go back home and have another cup
Of coffee, maybe half a bagel, too.
My team will wonder where the hell I am.

I’m watching Season One of Game of Thrones
Again.  You’re dead.  You’re dead.  And so are you.