A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Clearing the Tabs


Contracts received for the French e-book edition.  No front money, as is typical for many e-books, but a higher percent of the sales.  So if you can read French, your opportunity to cross my palm with silver will come soon.  Remember, this won the Prix Julia Verlanger while the original did not win the Hugo.  So the French translation must be better than the original.  Right?  Someone buy it and let me know.....


The January Dancer

Author-copy paperbacks for The January Dancer have arrived, so it must be in the book stores.  This is the first volume in the series, even though the second volume was paperbacked already last year.  Big bungle-oo.  They put Up Jim River on the schedule... and bumped The January Dancer to do it! 

"The Return of the Zombie Sea Monster"

A thousand-word short-short was sold to ANALOG as a "Probability Zero" piece.  It marks my first short-short involving zombie sea monsters and their return.  I'll let you know when it is to appear. 

Worst Idea of the Month

Security guard tries to remove wart from finger with a shotgun -- Yorkshire Post, 16 June

Dueling Neuroscientists

Patricia Churchland, who devotes her mind to demonstrating that she has no mind, versus Raymond Tallis, who rather thinks he does. 

Science as She is Done, With Scissors

[W]hen Eddington had Lemaître’s paper translated from French to English, the key equation, No. 24 (as it is labeled in the original), was changed in translation to English, omitting the velocity distance relation
Why Hubble’s Law … Wasn’t Really Hubble’s

Because it was also omitted from the text, the omission of what we now call Hubble's Law in Lemaitre's paper must be considered deliberate. 

Bottum on Disch

In an appreciation of SF writer, art critic, and poet Thomas M. Disch from a couple of years ago, we find the following curious statement:

All in all, it was a fine career--one with which nearly any popular writer would be satisfied. And yet, it seems, in the final analysis, strangely lacking. Or lacking, at least, in the works one would expect from a talent as prodigious as Tom Disch's. He once told me that part of the reason he quit writing science fiction was that, to deepen it into real art, "I would have to be like ... Gene Wolfe and return to the Catholicism that I barely got away from when I was young--and I can't do that, of course."
Thomas M. Disch, 1940-2008, Joseph Bottum on Thomas M. Disch

One cannot help but wonder why he thought so.  Not only why he thought deepening his SF into art would require a return to Catholicism, but why he thought he could not return.  As for the first, I suspect it is because the Church has been studying human nature for close to 2000 years and so the classic view of humanity enables a more empathetic approach to character.  I don't know his actual reasons, so this is just a top-o-the-head guess.  As for the second, he may have thought that people suffering from illnesses are not welcome in a hospital. 

Why Marriage Equivalency Can Be a Problem 
Katherine M. Franke asks in the New York Times (Marriage Is a Mixed Blessing) whether legalizing gay marriage in New York could create problems than it is worth.  As it was at the time of writing, homosexuals like Ms. Franke and her partner had an easier time getting bennies than heterosexual partners, who had to be married to obtain them.  She worried that if gays could marry, they would have to marry to obtain benefits now obtained through domestic partnership laws (apparently not available to heterosexual partners, or for that matter to any two people who wish to set up householding together) and a great many have no desire to marry.  (For one thing, they'd have to pay higher tax rates because their income would be joined.  They would also have to get divorced if they wanted to split.  How bourgeois!) 

You will notice that in the column she speaks of marriage for recognizing and validating "relationships" and for securing "benefits."  This is because for Generation Narcissus, it is always "always about Me."  Bennies and validation.  There is no mention of the reason why marriage was recognized in the Code of Khamurapi and elsewhere from earliest times.    This might be the root of the confusion. 

Will Israel Be the Next Big Fracking Oil Power?
Who knows?  Israel’s new energy

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