As constant — nay, fanatical — readers of this site, you’ll recall how yesterday was the 16th anniversary of me proposing marriage to Krissy. Well, today is the 17th anniversary of the two of us having our first date, which for the record, happened at El Presidente restaurant in Visalia, California, followed by dancing at the Marco Polo bar, which is where we had met three weeks previously (that doesn’t count as an official date because she was kind of there with a different date entirely, who she largely abandoned to dance with me, BWA HA HA HAH loser date of Krissy’s).

This means, as those of you with exceptional math skills have already deduced, that I proposed marriage one day short of a year from our first official date. I chose that date because it was a Wednesday, which meant my newspaper was running my weekly column, and my proposal was the subject of the column. However, I had known for some time that I wanted to marry her. In fact, I had known roughly nine months earlier, because after three months of dating Krissy it was clear that a) there was no way in which she was not awesome, b) there was no way I would ever do any better, mate-wise, than I was doing right that very second, so my task for the next 60 or so years would be not to screw up this relationship.

As any guy who has even the slightest semblance of impulse control will tell you, three months is a pretty quick time for a man to determine that he wants to spend the rest of his life with someone, so about seven years into our marriage, I noted to Krissy with some pride how soon it was that I was convinced that she was the person I wanted to marry.

“Uh-huh,” she said, less impressed than I had imagined she would be.

“Well, when did you decide that you wanted to marry me?” I asked.

“Our first date,” she said.

“AAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIEEEEEEEGH,” I said, running terrified from the house — or would have, had, in fact, I had not been already married to her for seven years at this point and had been almost appallingly happy the whole time. Because you know who knows they want to marry someone after the first date? Crazy, crazy people, that’s who. And also, apparently, in data set a completely unattached to “crazy, crazy people,” my wife.

What I actually did say was, “I’m really glad you didn’t tell me that at the time.”

To which Krissy said, “Of course I didn’t tell you. Do you think I’m crazy?”

That statement, or more accurately the strategic intelligence behind it, is part of why we’re still married today.

Lest anyone think that Krissy was overstating her position on the matter, my mother-in-law confirmed that when her daughter came through the door after our first date, more or less the first words out of her mouth were “I’ve met the man I’m going to marry.” Which surprised my future mother-in-law, as previous to this her daughter’s general opinion of men was, shall we say, not nearly high enough to have marriage be part of it. So I have no reason to doubt that, in fact, Krissy had made the decision that night.

In retrospect, it’s a little weird to think that my entire future was falling into place as I obliviously tucked into the El Presidente chimichanga platter, but of course, that’s life for you — the most important days of your existence don’t always announce themselves in obvious ways. At the time, all I knew was that somehow I had managed to get a date with the single most gorgeous woman I had ever met in my entire life, and I focused on not talking with my mouth full, because I wanted to get to date number two. Well, and I did. And got happily ever after in the bargain.

Which means it was a good first date, seventeen years ago today.

Book Sequels and the Likelihoods Thereof

I’m getting a lot of questions about whether I’m going to write sequels to various books, so it’s time to create a standard document on the topic so that I can refer people to it rather than repeating myself over and over.

So, here’s the current status of sequels/continuations for:

The Old Man’s War series: I currently have nothing new planned in the Old Man’s War universe at the moment. This is not to say I will never return to the universe; I like to write in the universe, and on a practical note, it’s my most popular work, so on both counts I’d be stupid not to think about coming back to it in full-length novel form. So I expect I’ll write more novels there when I have a good new story arc to tell. I do plan to write some shorter work in the universe, mostly because I had lots of fun with “After the Coup.”

The Android’s Dream: Yes, I still plan to write The High Castle — indeed, it’s contractually obliged — but it’s not the next book I plan to write, and while it might be the book after that, it probably won’t be. It’s probably a couple more novels down the line.

Agent to the Stars: No plans for a sequel. I think it stands on its own pretty well and I don’t feel a pressing need to return to it. I may write more science fiction that takes place in contemporary time, because that’s fun to do, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be tied into this one.

The God Engines: No plans for a sequel here, in no small part because (ROT-13 SPOILER) V xvyyrq bss gur tbq gung znxrf gur ragver havirefr jbex. That said, I certainly had fun writing this particular dark, nasty fantasy novella, and would not be opposed to writing something else of a similar style and length somewhere down the line. Indeed, I think a quartet of dark, nasty fantasy novellas (including this one) might make a fine book at some point.

Fuzzy Nation: Considering this one isn’t even out yet, it’s a little early to discuss sequels. But if people go nuts for it, as it happens I have a sequel story idea ready to go, because it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

And that’s the status of sequels at the moment.

Also, in case you’re wondering, what I’m currently working on, fiction-wise, is not a sequel. Because I have the mildly crazy belief that from time to time you should write fiction which is not a continuation of something else. Which you can then write sequels for! See? It’s the circle of life, my friends.

The Failure Mode of Clever

So, apropos of nothing in particular, let’s say you wish to communicate privately with someone you’ve not communicated with privately before, for whatever reason you might have. And, wanting to stand out from the crowd, you decide to try to be clever about it, because, hey, you are a clever person, and as far as you know, people seem to like that about you. So you write your clever bit and send it off, safe in the knowledge of your cleverosity, and confident that your various cleverations will make the impression you want to make on the intended cleveree.

Two things here.

1. The effectiveness of clever on other people is highly contingent on outside factors, over which you have no control and of which you may not have any knowledge; i.e., just because you intended to be clever doesn’t mean you will be perceived as clever, for all sorts of reasons.

2. The failure mode of clever is “asshole.”

Allow me to offer a suggestion. If you are privately communicating with someone for the first time, as a general rule, the best course of action is to be polite and to the point. This is particularly the case if the reason you’re communicating with that person is because you are hoping to get them to do something for you, i.e., you’re asking for the favor of their time and attention and even possibly their money. That is not a situation in which you want to risk the failure mode of clever.

This is not to say that your cleverness should not eventually come out in your private communication; there’s a time for it, and usually that time is after you’ve established enough rapport with the other person that you know their receptiveness to cleverness in general, and your brand of it in particular. It’s “third date” material, as it were, not “first date.”

Indeed, the most clever thing you can do with your cleverness is to know when is the right time to use it. When in doubt, don’t. And if you’re not in doubt, ask yourself if you should be, especially if you’re communicating privately with someone for the first time. It’s just a suggestion.

80s Science Fiction Films: Which Should Get the “Karate Kid” Treatment?

The remake of The Karate Kid made a whole bunch of money last weekend, so now every studio will be looking at 80s movies to reheat and remake. In my column, I offer up one science fiction film from every year of the parachute pants decade for their remaking consideration, and try to go beyond the usual suspects, because, seriously, you don’t want a remake of E.T. Trust me on this one. As always your comments and criticisms are totally welcome over there.