I don’t know any Muslims in real life and only a handful online, all of which are decent people.

My most memorable encounter with Muslim people was when a few years ago we visited Istanbul during the Ramadan. Part of the reason that Istanbul is now among my favorite cities, is its Muslim population. It’s a well known fact that Hungarians like Turks, despite the 150-year Turkish occupation in Hungary during the middle ages. The feeling is mutual; Turks also like Hungarians. Enough to learn our language, a language that’s not only difficult for people who were not born with it, but also one that few non-Hungarians speak. It’s a novelty, and a very pleasant one. People whose native language is English, Spanish, French, or German are accustomed to hear their language spoken by non-native speakers, but for Hungarians it’s a novelty. Turkish and Hungarian are not similar, though we have some loan words from Turkish, like sapka, meaning cap, as in hat and not the cap of a bottle; and bögre, meaning mug, as in coffee mug. I don’t speak Turkish, but seeing the written language often made me do a double take, because it seemed that I could almost read it. It’s mostly due to the double dot accents on their ö and ü vowels, which Hungarian also has in abundance.

The other reason Istanbul is one of my favorite cities is its history, architecture, and culture, so we stayed in the Old City and explored many of its wonders: the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, the numerous restaurants that served local food. When I visit a country, I want to eat local food and not American or Hungarian. I like Middle Eastern spices, so I found the meat dishes very tasty. But the fresh salads with tomatoes that tasted like tomatoes should, the lemon and parsley dressings, the hollow sesame bread Lavas were delightful. Most everything we ate was wonderful. Except the desserts, which I found way too sweet, and no pun intended, but the Turkish Delight was less than delightful.

Last but not least it was the sheer friendliness of people that made the Istanbul visit so memorable. We spent some time (resting between visits to various attractions), at the park facing the Blue Mosque, just people watching or walking around. Several times people approached us, mostly young men, teenagers with bright smiles on their faces, just talking, asking about us and telling us about themselves, and finally asking timidly if we could shake hands. No one has ever asked permission to shake my hand before. People usually just stick out their hand out of politeness, because it’s the western way to greet a stranger. In Istanbul it went beyond formality; it was simple and earnest, just a wish to make a brief connection.

Raoul Wallenberg, remembering a hero

We were walking in the XIII district in Budapest and came across Raoul Wallenberg street. He was a Swedish diplomat during WWII who saved thousands of Jews in 1944. He was killed in 1945 by the Red Army, the so called Liberating Army. Every time I come here, I thank him silently for his heroic actions, and not just because I’ve lost ancestors in the Holocaust, but because he was an exceptional human being.


Cheeky car is named Lenke

My new car has probably more software than hardware. On the drive last month to Atlanta and Savannah, within the first two hours, it flashed a warning that I needed to take a rest. I find that not only annoying but distracting as well, and so far, I haven’t found a way to disable that feature. Then there’s the Eco Drive, which is essentially to save fuel by shutting off the engine while the car is at a red light. Fortunately, that one is easy to disable by the push of a button.

The car is a bit annoying, but very pretty, sleek, and rather feminine. And cheeky. So I’ve decided to name her Lenke. The name comes from the Hungarian word szemtelen (cheeky) + the endearing ending -ke, making her name Lenke.

Book release

I haven’t yet received my author’s copies but The Last Outpost and Other Tales is up on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble.

WOOT, I have a book and it’s on sale!

Signal boosting

Novel Spaces interviews Eric T. Reynolds, publisher of Hadley Rille Books. He talks about genre crossovers and the Archeological series he publishes.

The James Gunn online workshop is back. I highly recommend this workshop to anyone who has no time to attend a real live one. And it’s being taught by the Grand Master.

Flash fiction contest at Hadley Rille Books with a beautiful image prompt.

And if you love Heroines of Fantasy, and who doesn’t, mosey over to the new blog of my fellow Hadley Rille Books authors.

Destination Future Honorable Mention

Congratulations to the authors whose Destination Future stories received Honorable Mention in Gardner Dozois’ 2010 Best Science Fiction 28

"When You Visit the Magoebaskloof Hotel Be Certain Not to Miss the

Samango Monkeys" by Elizabeth Bear [info]matociquala

"Games" by Caren Gussoff [info]spitkitten

"Dark Rendezvous" by Simon Petrie [info]punktortoise

Quake in Japan


For a few days now every morning I wake up with dread. This tragedy is only the last one in a string of natural disasters that resulted in massive deaths. My heart goes out to the people of Japan. I have already donated to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, but here are a couple of legitimate sites where donations are accepted.
Red Cross
Doctors Without Borders
I find it annoying (and callous in the face of this disaster) that various media have been exaggerating the dangers of the nuclear reactors in Japan. The possibility of a total Chernobyl-type meltdown is extremely small. I have this from a friend who knows about nuclear reactors.
I have been also talking with another friend, a geophysicist, who has some concerns about the recent seismic activities on Earth. But that’s for another post.