Meeting Epstein

You can't wash this shit off by taking a shower.

In late 2011, at the behest of Marvin Minsky, a number of prominent folks were invited to attend a trial conference in the U.S. Virgin islands sponsored by billionaire and so-called entrepreneur Jeffrey Epstein, all expenses paid -- basically a free vacation in the Caribbean. Minsky’s participation was major, as is his reputation to this day -- though he passed in early 2016.

Having heard some suspicious tales about Epstein, I asked a long-time friend about him and his character. This friend told me, through email, "The man who did the things the press reported is not the person I've experienced."

Whatever he had done, it seemed he had spent some time in prison, and perhaps he had emerged a chastened and better person.

The trip and arrangements were being made with the coordination of the wife of the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cecile de Jongh, whom we never actually met.

And so, we agreed to go. Astrid and I had a lovely time, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with friends, colleagues, and new acquaintances, and returned from the conferences on St. John bathed in sun and good conversation.

On a couple of occasions, we had face time with Epstein, who seemed, to me, an eccentric and possibly brilliant financier with weird ideas about economics--but hell, he was paying all the bills, so we were polite. One of our observations about his entourage was they consisted mostly of attractive young women in their twenties or early thirties, at most, brought over from his private island near St. John, where it seemed they staffed his house. We had been dangled the possibility of being taken out to that island to see the sights, but most of us did not get that opportunity.

The women, by my instincts, were of a uniform and somewhat inaccessible temper, and I got the impression that Epstein was their lord and master, and they did not range far in their daily lives. But they were all adults.

At one point during the conference, with Epstein in the room, some imp of perverse in me made an analogy (I cannot remember my exact point, or the reason for the analogy) to Dracula coming down out of his castle to ravage the young women of the village. That put an end -- though not abruptly -- to our face time with Epstein, and the conference ended on schedule. We had a great time with Marvin and his wife, Gloria, loved the islands and towns, and never heard from Epstein or his people again. No further conferences were arranged, at least with me involved.

I wondered if I had screwed up royally by alluding, in metaphor at least, to Epstein's behavior.

Now, it just seems I was being protected or warned by a guardian angel.

In 2017, Hurricane Irma ravaged the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with much of the Caribbean, and nearly destroyed the Westin Hotel where we stayed during the conference. Looking at videos of the damage, we could not identify many of the places we visited.

And now, Epstein is in jail, awaiting trial on the same charges he should have faced back in 2005, not having substantially altered his behavior or having learned any lessons -- unredeemed, and facing long prison time in less-than-fancy rooms where one’s neighbors have a phrase for what you are -- Short eyes.

Trump, an avowed friend of Epstein at least until he booted him out of Mar a Lago, observed Epstein had a taste for younger women.

You can't wash this shit off by taking a shower. But at least we better understand now how a rich sonofabitch can be protected by money, influence, local politicians -- and career prosecutors who would be better employed shining muddy shoes in airports, which at least is an honorable profession.


"Very sorry indeed to hear about the death of Yoshio Kobayashi. Yoshio was a fine translator and a major part of Japanese and world SF. He was my translator, and an excellent guide to Japan. He will be missed in so many ways." - Greg

10 Enchanting Fairy Books That Will Spirit You Away

Greg Bear's The Infinity Concerto has been featured on The Portalist's list of '10 Enchanting Fairy Books That Will Spirit You Away.'
[See the complete list]

Happy World Oceans Day

Celebrate #WorldOceansDay by taking a deep dive into how some of today's most promising innovations might positively impact our ocean in the future. @XPRIZE introduces Current Futures: A Sci-fi Ocean Anthology:

18 Must-Read Nebula Award-Winning Books

Greg Bear's Moving Mars has been featured on The Portalist's list of 18 Must-Read Nebula Award-Winning Books!

Dennis Neal Smith

Fond farewell to Dennis Neal Smith, famous for many things, and scholar of many things, who inspired Harlan Ellison's "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream," with his richly textured illustrations, and who illustrated my first story collection for Arkham House, as well as Joanna Russ' collection. Last saw him at a Comic Fest where he was contributing to our panel (along with David Clark) on H.P. Lovecraft and Arkham House illustrations, where he demonstrated an astonishing expertise.


Vonda and Greg, 1989 at The Bears
Vonda and Greg, September 1989
Photo by Kathleen Alcala

After a short illness, we have lost one of our finest Seattle writers and a good friend to all writers, Vonda McIntyre. She was attended by a loyal group of extended family and neighbors. We will miss her. - G

[More from Locus Magazine]
[Leave a message for Vonda's Friends and Family]

Junocam Image Processing

Michael Ravine, Advanced Projects Manager at Malin Space Science Systems, Inc., has kindly agreed to share this fascinating post about how he and his team translate black and white images from JunoCam on the Juno Jupiter Orbiter into color images.

[Read More]

Anne Adams

Anne Adams, our major project point person on the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, has passed after a long and difficult battle with cancer. Here's Anne on a fine day in 2003 visiting with Forry Ackerman. She was a good friend, an amazing person, and a great fan of science fiction and Forry.

Betty Ballantine

"Very sad to hear of the passing of Betty Ballantine. She and husband Ian were major players not just in paperback publishing, but in promoting science fiction and fantasy into the mainstream. They also published and promoted books of science fiction and fantasy art. We shall not see their like--or their times!--again." - Greg

[Betty Ballantine, NY Times]


Boy, do we need a joyful moment like that provided by NASA and the Insight probe! Congratulations and appreciation to all the engineers and team participants for putting us back on Mars. Very much looking forward to learning a lot more about the Red Planet!

Greg Bear

John Rogers

Very sad to hear. It was an honor to meet John Rogers on his home turf, the offices of San Diego Comic-Con, at the invitation of Mark Yturralde. John and his team were key in elevating a small fan convention to a major force in art and literature. As the fiftieth anniversary approaches, it’s certainly time to remember all they’ve done, and how San Diego Comic-Con International and the cultures it celebrates will endure.
[Read More]

Soyuz Followup

"What it's like to fall 31 miles to Earth after your rocket fails" - NASA astronaut Nick Hague recounts his experience during last week’s harrowing Soyuz flight. Article by Loren Grush for The Verge

Paul Allen

We're very sorry to hear of the passing of Paul Allen. It was our pleasure to work with him on the Science Fiction Museum phase of MoPop, and to enjoy his other contributions to culture and technology in the Pacific Northwest—including his financing of visionary space ventures, medical research, and so much more. His art collection was phenomenal, the Flying Heritage Museum was one of our favorites, and he was beyond doubt a multi-faceted., multi-dimensional man.

Ray Harryhausen and Paul Allen
click for larger view
Ray Harryhausen and Paul Allen having a good time at EMP/MoPOP in 2006. Ray H. brought along his famous skeleton puppet from Jason and the Argonauts. Photo credit: Greg Bear

Soyuz Booster

We're all very glad to hear of the safe return of astronaut/cosmonaut Nick Hague and Alexei Ovchinin after the abort of their Soyuz booster early this morning. The video footage looked quite alarming, even without an immediately up-to-date commentary—crew jerking and shaking suddenly, and very concerning scraps falling away from the ascending vehicle. Their landing was much rougher than anticipated, but both seem to have no injuries. This could have major implications of course for the space station and the crew already there. We sincerely hope this gets resolved soon.

I may have missed a story on the major U.S networks, but there seems nearly nothing.

Good coverage at CBC, where they also interviewed Chris Hadfield. [Read CBC Coverage]

Harlan Ellison

Years ago, when Alan Brennert and I visited Harlan Ellison's amazing house (and brought him a Cuban sandwich as an illicit coin of entry) I asked Harlan what he thought his greatest work was. He said, "My marriage to Susan. I finally found a woman who would put up with me."

In addition, there are books, scripts, comics, movies, TV shows, games... But my memories of Harlan extend well beyond these excellent and explosive productions. (Don’t try taking an Ellison collection through an airport!) Harlan was one of our favorite presences, a man who did not suffer fools, or many smart people, and who often exceeded the Rickles line by a considerable margin. He was an energizing presence at conventions, a guaranteed promoter of controversy, and—for me and Astrid—a lively and pleasant companion. To those who worked with him, he was a bracing challenge and an often brilliant contributor. I described him, to his face, as the flip side of Ray Bradbury, and he smiled. He understood, as did Ray, how much they were like two sides of the same coin.

And he was Susan's husband. Susan reported he died in his sleep.

Wow. Harlan went gentle into that good night. In the end, that's primal wisdom.

Greg Bear

Biblical Quote for the Month

In honor of Jeff Sessions, here's my biblical quote for the month—

"The stink of Hell will rise from all who bring pain upon the mothers and their children, and who follow the Father of Lies."

Gospel of Mary 1:1


I am furious and heartbroken over the plight of children being separated from their parents on America's border. Donald Trump and his agents should be indicted in the Hague for crimes against humanity. Anyone who remains in the Trump administration, or who votes Republican, is about to reap the whirlwind blowing around this monstrous man and his enablers. MARCH! MARCH AND VOTE!


Greg Bear

Halo Precursors Sketch

Halo sketch by Greg BearTidying up the office today, I came across this preliminary sketch I did of the Precursors, for the Halo books. - Greg

(click for larger image)

The Poul and Karen Anderson Memorial International Travel Fund for Clarion West

From Astrid: "Greg and I are very pleased to be able to make this commitment to Clarion West in honor of my parents, Poul and Karen Anderson. The SF/F field is getting to be more international every year, and the Clarion West students reflect this. By making funds available to help one student from outside of North America each year to get to Seattle to attend the workshop, we hope to add our support to the transformative power of diversity in SF/F literature."
[This year's recipient: Ted Mahsun from Ipoh, Malaysia]

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Kids

"The powerful, motivated students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida are truly amazing. Once again I am proud to be an American. Republican legislators and NRA administrators should see this passion, this strength in youth soon to vote, as a real sign from God that they have to change their ways—or become extinct." - Greg

Twentieth Anniversary

"Celebrating twenty years (or so) of this Web Site! Many thanks to Terran Joy McCanna for designing it, and then keeping it fit and alive! And thanks to all who have contributed over those two decades. We couldn't do it without you!" - Greg Bear

SpaceX Falcon Heavy

"A huge hurrah for SpaceX and the flawless launch of its Falcon Heavy! Elon's Tesla roadster will no doubt be intercepted by an alien intelligence, and who knows where that will lead?" - Greg Bear

12 Portal Fiction Books That Will Transport You

Thank you to The Portalist for including The Infinity Concerto in this list of wonderful books:
[See Complete List]

The Portalist - How Much Revolutionary Technology is Too Much

In Greg Bear’s technothriller Dead Lines, a man’s life is forever changed when he starts seeing the ghost of his murdered daughter...
[Continue Reading]

Ursula K Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of our truly great writers, wielding great imagination to spin wonderfully human (and feline) tales. It was my pleasure to once have edited one of those tales, and to have been selected for one of her own anthologies. No higher honors. Her stories possessed a mythic resonance that takes us deep into both dream and hope. She will be greatly missed.

Brain Cells Share Information With Virus-Like Capsules

This amazing article capsulizes—pun intended—a grander view of life so vaguely hinted at in DARWIN’S RADIO. Utterly amazing!

[Read Full Article in The Atlantic]

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