Back to previous post: How Many Battalions Does the Pope Have?

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Here We Go Again

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

October 14, 2005

In Our Nation’s Capital
Posted by Patrick at 09:23 AM * 88 comments

Like Jim Henley, we’re at Capclave this weekend—in fact, I’m about to run off to breakfast with Avedon Carol and Max Sawicky. Also here at various points this weekend will be Kathryn Cramer, Henry Farrell, and Rivka. Last night’s Drinking Liberally in Dupont Circle was fun, too.

Oh, yeah, and there are some science fiction people hanging around hereabouts as well. If you happen to be in or near the DC area, whether your business is coordinating our national security or arranging massive giveaways to the powerful and well-heeled, do drop by and say hi.

Comments on In Our Nation's Capital:
#1 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 09:55 AM:

Sounds like a fun weekend, Patrick. Me, I'll be digging holes in the ground, moving flowerbed plants into pots, moving potted plants into flowerbeds. I envy you.

#2 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 10:43 AM:

Have fun.

In the meanwhile, Bush forces soldiers to lie on camera in a scrpited farce that the DOD later lied about as being unscripted.

What gets me about this is the blatancy of the lie. I just can't understand how any member of the armed forces can tolerate supporting an administration that would use them like this.

#3 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 10:51 AM:

The President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces -- the top of the chain of command. Military personnel are *obliged* to support the administration.

Don't forget that officers that get out of line in the Rumsfeld DoD wind up getting framed for sexual offenses. Officers that don't support the administration are pulled out of the chain of command and replaced by ones who do.

(Avedon's in the US? Crap, I'm sorry I have to miss her.)

#4 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 11:02 AM:

Alan: We are not obliged to support the adminstration (anyone who doubt this can look to my livejournal, or a few others I can point them to).

What we are obliged to do is carry out lawful orders and not be disrespectful in uniform, nor to say things as though it were in an official capacity.

Recall the soldiers who told Good Morning America that, were he there, they would ask Rumsfeld for his resignation... they were in bounds. For all the flap that ensued they weren't punished because, per In accordance with AR 600-20, para 5-3(1)(a), we are allowed, not merely to have, but to express, personal political opinions.

That said, the Bush would be foolish to allow unvetted soldiers to ask him questions, because, to paraphrase Mick Fleetwood, he "might not get the questions that he wanted to."

#5 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 11:38 AM:

whether your business is coordinating our national security or arranging massive giveaways to the powerful and well-heeled

There's a difference?

#6 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Luthe: Yes, there is a difference.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of people (including yours truly) who work in national defense and think our work is important and valuable, even thought we hate the current administration and its policies.

#7 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 02:38 PM:

Hope you're having fun here! In that area, you *must* go to Samatha's on University Blvd. and have a pupusa. Just sayin...

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 03:50 PM:

So, Capclave focuses on short fiction? Interesting. I mean, short stories usually gets ignored in the sea of words, although the situation may have improved since Locus started regularly reviewing magazines.

#9 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 07:14 PM:

I followed the link through to CapClave.


I've driven 200 miles to meet HW; but 400 miles is a just a little too far for me.

I'll have to think about the utility of this metric. Who would I travel (and how far) to meet? (OTOH, there are people I would cross the street to avoid....)

#10 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 07:25 PM:

I'll have to think about the utility of this metric. Who would I travel (and how far) to meet? (OTOH, there are people I would cross the street to avoid....)


#11 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2005, 07:28 PM:

I'll be going down to DC tonight if I can get it together. See you there at some point, no doubt. Will have my cell phone with me.

#12 ::: Greg Horn ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 12:04 AM:

Enjoy DC, it's a wonderful town. One thing I'll always remember from living there are the great places to eat. In particular, the first two desserts I thought of were the chocolate hazelnut mousse torte at Jaleo's (good tapas as well) and the pecan cheesecake at Georgia Brown's (gourmet Southern food).

Maybe I should stop putting off dinner. Before I drool on my keyboard.

#13 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 12:34 AM:

I envy you folks down at Capclave. I'm sitting here hearing the sound of the pouring rain outside and some wind blowing (wind on Sunday is supposed to get ferocious), ingesting chicken soup (dug frozen cooked chicken out of freezer, it was sitting defrosting until I stuck it into a pot with water on the stove to cook, cut up and covection-oven-roasted a couple carrots, a couple onions, and some stalks of celery, dumped them into the pot of water and continued cooking...).


One of the nine sounded to me like an ass-licking son of the dying [I wish...] regime :

[Sgt Ron Brown]

...We were given an idea as to what topics he may discusss with us, but it's the President of the United States, He will choose which way his conversation with us may go...

President Bush told us, during his closing, that the American people were behind us...It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart.Worthless!


I am not impressed with the fellow's literacy, tenses don't seem to be a strong point with him. On the other hand, he (or perhaps someone assisted him...) appears to be able to spell words competently and makes fewer typoes that e.g. I am wont to.

I spent six years in the US military; had I stayed in I would be retired now or long out anyway from not passing "up or out" (the promotion rate for people who weren't pilots in the USAF was extremely low) point from captain to major (or have stayed in busted down to sergeant for eight years after 12... I decided to avoid the issue and get out after six years instead)). I don't know the background of Sgt Brown other than his blog says he's a combat medic in Iraq, he's from Tennessee, he seems to be interestingin learning about Iraq, and he gives every appearance of being someone who isn't what I think of as a deep thinker (or particularly bright...). He appears to have a cheerful earnest dedicated outlook on life. He seems to be less deep than e.g. Madonna, or Britney Spears, or Tom Cruise, etc. He appears extremely loyal--but then the Praetorian Guard tended to be extremely loyal, too. Caligula was well-protected for quite a long time.

(Who, me making vicious comments?)

#14 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 12:36 AM:

Greg, you're making me drool on my keyboard. Unfair, unfair, unfair!

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 12:55 AM:

'YMMV' ?

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 01:06 AM:

Sgt Brown reminds me of my days in California when it was time to vote for or against this or that Proposition. Each Prop would (and presumably still does) come with a description, arguments in favor, and arguments opposed. It was usually easy to spot the Right-wingers because their arguments were fulls of CAPS and exclamation marks!!!

#17 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 01:13 AM:

The fellow is earnest...

Having said that, I am wont to grammatical overexaggeration myself... but I put don't put events which are in the past, in the future tense as if they haven't happened yet!

#18 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 01:23 AM:

"YMMV" = "Your Mileage May Vary".

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 01:23 AM:

Earnest? Maybe, Paula... As for our military in Iraq, last year one of them wrote to my wife because he liked some of her novels. It's not every day that a romance writer gets letters from a male Wiccan. Didn't hear from him for quite some time then he wrote again to say he was OK.

By the way, were you in the Air Force? Some of your recent posts indicated quite an extensive knowledge of warplanes.

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 01:25 AM:

Thanks, Patrick, for explaining what "YMMV" stands for. Say, what are you doing posting at this time of night? Parties winding down at Capclave?

#21 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 07:24 PM:

It was usually easy to spot the Right-wingers because their arguments were fulls of CAPS and exclamation marks!!!

I find that anyone with little or no facts, little or no knowledge, little or no... brains writes with lots of CAPS and exclamation points!!! SOMETIMES TOGETHER!!!

It's also one of the hallmarks of hoaxes.

Hmmm... relationship?

#22 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2005, 07:31 PM:

Bob: a friend of mine classifies authors by how long she'd wait in line to have a short chat with them.

#23 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 07:56 AM:

LJ user=soldiergrrrl has a post on the press conference in Iraq. I may have shot my mouth off uninformedly. I still say Mclellan was lying to us though.

#24 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 08:41 AM:

I've posted photos from Capclave on Flickr, including extesive coverage of the blooging panel. (I'm still putting them up, so if you look now, you should also look again leter.)

#25 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 09:35 AM:

Teresa, what was the link I was supposed to send you? Was it the Jean Shepherd Archive? I had a great time, although I forgot to sing "The Cursing Polka" for folks. Well, I remembered it once. Anyway, thanks again for the tasty fruit beverage. It was Julie Andrews.

#26 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 11:08 AM:

The thing I wish I could go have while we're here in DC is the black bean cake at Americas Grill, at Union Station (if I have the grill's name right). It's served with pulled pork barbecue over it, and it sits on a bit of cream cheese.

But I had food at Touch of Morocco, Mandalay, Panera and the noodle place, so life is swell anyway.

#27 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 08:41 PM:

Great to see you Patrick and Teresa!! I had a terrific Capclave.

Kip: We went to Manalay too, and Cubano's and Thai Silver Spring. A great eating weekend (and seeing Sarah now that she's so mobile was fun, too).

#28 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2005, 11:02 PM:

This was my second trip to Mandalay, but my first in a large group and my first with Jon Singer. After counting up the dishes we'd ordered, Jon said, "That's more than enough food," and I said, "That seems like about the right amount." And it was; there was just a little bit of food left over, then we had dessert. Every dish was wonderful.

The blogging party was cozy and enjoyable. I stayed at least half an hour longer than I meant to, and by the time I left I was losing words. (I could remember that the condition which makes Teresa fall asleep had an N, an R, and a C, but the only word I could come up with was "necrophilia", which I knew was wrong.)

Teresa did an excellent job moderating the one panel I attended. It is unfortunate that the convention scheduled it opposite Howard Waldrop's reading, but I do not regret my choice.

The con suite contained lots and lots of board games, including two which members of my family will receive for Christmas. I narrowly lost both of them. I won Power Grid, but didn't deserve to.

#29 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 12:23 AM:

Josh: soldiergrrl's whining doesn't impress me; I heard much too much of the rehearsal session that was supposed to be a secret but got sent out, taped, and repeatedly broadcast. I haven't figured out whether it's nice to know I'm not paranoid or horrible to know it's true.

#30 ::: Paula LIeberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 12:46 AM:

I was in Air Force ROTC, then served six years on active duty, and then spent eight more years in the defense industry as a contractor.

#31 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 01:09 AM:

I declined an opportunity back around 1980--I don't remember the date, but it was the (failed) rescue attempt of the imprisoned US citizens in Iran--for an unstaged interview with the media.

The story goes, Los Angeles Air Force Station is probably the closest active duty military base to major US networks' news offices, it's in El Segundo, a mile south of Los Angeles International Airport, and convenient to Los Angeles where networks have their west coast headquarters.

When the announcement hit that the US Government was launching a rescue attempt for the hostages taken when the US Embassy hadn't been evacuated during the fall of the Shah's government and its replacement with Islamic theocrats, the networks went looking for the most convenient military base, which was LA Air Force Station, and which would be willing to allow the supposedly ordinary military sorts to be interviewed, which was also LA AFS.

It was laughable, actually. It was in the morning or maybe lunchtime, and I was down in the Officer's Club getting a snack or lunch or something, when down the stairs came this flood of reporters with videocameras guided by the Public Affairs Officer, who announced to all and sundry that the news media was interviewing people and it was approved for any of us to talk to the news media.

What was so utterly laughable, is that LA AFS had very little to do with the operations. It had provided some space systems setup support, was pretty much it. Regarding flying in sandstorms, coordinating a tri-service [debacle] operation, flying long distance from wherever the staging was to try to fly to wherever the hostages were supposed to be with the intent of sending in a fighting force to break the hostages out, get them onto the air vehicles, and fly out out of there, HA! The people at LA AFS were space wienies, some had aircrew time and experience, who were on "rated supplement"--that is, a ground assignment that flying and flight and air operations were almost completely irrelevant to, and there were a handful or so of Army liaison officers and representatives around (such at the fellow in the program office I was in, who was the token Army officer who was involved with "the ground segment" which was mostly Army satellite communcations terminals, and the DCA representative, who was a retired Signal Corp colonel) amongst the hundreds of Air Force space wienes.

So basically, here came this horde of reporters looking for The Military View, and asking a bunch of people who dealt with spacecraft, about an air and ground operation. Snort. That's like asking someone who writes Analog nuts and bolts stories to comment cognizantly on the military operations in one of Harry Turtledoves' Videssos novels.

But anyway, my point of relevance to Schmuck and the troops, is that there was NO rehearsing, NO briefing by the PAO, and no canned content involved in the interviewing by the media of the troops at LA Air Force Station that quarter century ago. Nobody told us what we could and couldn't and should and shouldn't say.

So, my personal experience in such things, is far different than the Canned Content Claptrap Conversation that took place last week...

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 09:58 AM:

There's one point of soldiergrrl's that I'm curious about. She says that the media just isn't reporting the good news coming out of Iraq.

A few weeks ago, didn't some right-wing guy announce he'd go to Iraq so that HE could tell us all the good news that the media was silent about?

So, what happened to him?

#33 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 01:39 PM:

Kip, I really really want to know what you mean when you describe a fruit beverage as "Julie Andrews." I'm having all kinds of fun hypothesizing, but the not-knowing is killing me.

#34 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 02:12 PM:

Half a glass and the hills were alive with the sound of music. It was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. But mostly, I was looking for a new way to say the tasty fruit juice was really stapling machine.

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 04:41 PM:

I hate to think what a "Joan Crawford" drink would be like, especially after seeing that Turner Classic Movies montage of all the scenes where Joan slapped someone throughout her career.

#36 ::: Chuck Divine ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 05:45 PM:

Capclave was moderately interesting. Your panel on blogs and your GOH interview were the best parts of programming I saw.

The parties on Saturday were amusing. Your blogger party -- the short time I was able to stay -- was interesting in that there were several small groups interacting. I was the guy in the grey sweatshirt and AIAA baseball cap who chatted with Jim Henley briefly about running.

Did you stay through today (Monday) for the Emily's List 20th Anniversary Luncheon? I ran into John Pomeranz of WSFA there today.

#37 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 09:26 PM:

Steven desJardins - there were some nifty games weren't there? I think Cameron, my youngest son, spent eighty percent of his time playing them. We all had lots of fun and I'm really pleased we got to go.

#38 ::: Greg Horn ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 09:38 PM:

Thank you for Saint Triceratops. This will soon be circulating amongst geology students.

#39 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 10:19 PM:

Uh huh, I knew I was right to refuse Teresa's punch! I had a lot of fun at Capclave -- went to Brenda Clough's reading and to the end of the blogging panel (to meet Jill Smith) and the end of the Mad Scientist panel (to meet Mary Kay). I worked at registration for an hour or so, and otherwise, I mostly talked to friends. Some new people, too, I remember you, Chuck Divine.

The really good thing for me was that in this disabled-hostile hotel, the concom had set up all things general congoers would attend/do in areas served by elevators.

(There wasn't enough hot water for just about everybody and I think since we'll be back there next year, they should negotiate a lower rate with the hotel.)

#40 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2005, 10:44 PM:

Joan Crawford drink = two and you start beating the s!#t out of everyone in sight either physically or verbally.

#41 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 05:51 AM:

"Would you like another Julie Andrews, sir?"

"Please tell Peter Cook that I shouldn't have Dudley Moore, I'm driving. Just a Judy Garland -- straight."

#42 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 06:56 AM:

Saint Triceratops?

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 07:15 AM:

And how did Capclave's focus on reading turn out?

Which brings a question I've been meaning to ask on this site for some time... What is the most common path that leads people to real SF/fantasy? For me, it all started with Buck Rogers circa 1960, when George Tuska was the artist. I understand that I used to just stare at our daily's comic-supplement even before I knew how to read. Then, one day, after I started going to school, it all clicked together with that comic-strip. I could read the words. If you showed me reprints from that era, I probably could recognize the very story that started me down the slippery slope.

#44 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 10:19 AM:

(There wasn't enough hot water for just about everybody and I think since we'll be back there next year, they should negotiate a lower rate with the hotel.)

We checked out at the front desk to tell the hotel that the toilet handle in our room needed some repair, and mentioned that we had had no hot water -- and they comped us one night.

#45 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 01:33 PM:

I'm pleased to recognize a fellow fan of the original and only true Bedazzled.

"And the magic word: Julie Andrews!"

#46 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 02:55 PM:

Wizard of Oz books as a young girl (I read my mother's and my father's and my aunt's collections from the 30's) were my ticket into scifi/fantasy. Followed by reading Tolkien in 6th or 7th grade.

#47 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 03:04 PM:

Interesting, hrc... I had a friend who absolutely REFUSED to read stories when she was young. Then, when she hit puberty, someone somehow managed to convince her to try Lord of the Rings. from that point on, she was on the Road to Perdition.

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 03:18 PM:

My father had a copy of the Astounding SF anthology (now in my books), and was a reader until he died, having found it while stuck in an airport in the fifties. I started early: that, and a children's storybook set about the size of a small encyclopedia with one volume that was partly juvenile SF, some fairly good.

#49 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 03:28 PM:

I'm sure that liberal doses of Roald Dahl provided the powder, but Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising struck the match. I was never the same.

(Mike Ford, I'm told that if you want a really good Jerry Lewis you have to go to Paris. Can you confirm?)

#50 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 03:28 PM:

You got into SF because of your father being stuck in an airport, P J? That's funny. And quite appropriate.

One thing I forgot to mention about how I got here is that nobody in my family - and I mean NOBODY - reads anything other than newspapers. I discovered the pleasures of Reading without any encouragement from anyone.

#51 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 03:41 PM:

That's what I was told. I had a lot of fun, in junior high and high school, getting home before he did, sliding the brown paper wrapper off the magazine, eye-tracking it (generally the editorial, the Reference Library and Brass Tacks: I only had an hour to do this before he got home!) and sliding the cover back on. Which he knew, of course. (Insert remarks about eyetracks here.)

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 03:45 PM:

You hid your SF reading from your dad, PJ? Because you were a girl, or because he'd be afraid of your wrecking his library?

#53 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 03:53 PM:

I literally can't remember not being able to read. (Started around 3 years old.) I also can't remember not reading fantasy and science fiction.

Things I can remember:
-Deciding that the cover to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I was give for Christmas when I was 6, looked dumb. Reading it and being hooked on it.
-Not liking The Hobbit at 9, thinking it was dumb, and finally reading it at 11 and loving it, and The Lord of the Rings

Books I can remember, but cannot date reading:
-Tarzan and Conan books
-The Mushroom Planet books (Eleanor Cameron)
-Greek and Norse mythology
-a tourist guide to the moon
-When a little older- Asimov, Heinlein, Marion Zimmer Bradley, A.E. van Vogt, a lot of which was meant for the adults, but my parents could not read as quickly as I do, so they couldn't vet books for me. Some of it was from the library, some of it was from my uncle's books left in my grandmother's basement. She wanted them out of the house, so my brother and I got the box.

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 04:05 PM:

Serge: It was the game of being first to the magazine without being obvious about it. I wasn't hiding the reading, except in the usual way of under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight. (My family has home libraries; reading is encouraged.)

I don't remember learning to read either. The first book I owned is still around: "Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street", a Christmas gift when I was three.

#55 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 04:42 PM:

I read many of the above, and also the Moomin books.

#56 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 05:15 PM:

Yes, Jeffrey, that makes sense for this year. But since we know there will be no hot water next year, either (they're not replacing the old boilers before then), we should just get a reduced rate.

Serge, I certainly saw a lot of people sitting around reading.

My first SF was The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet but it didn't just lead me to reading SF, but to being an engineer.

#57 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 05:55 PM:

I wasn't disagreeing.

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 07:15 PM:

Interesting. More people seem to have been introduced to SF thru the purely written word than I expected. There was very little written SF available where I grew up so, from 1960 to about 1972, my exposure was a mish-mash of comic-strips French and American, TV shows, Jules Verne, stuff like that. Then there was a flood of translations and, within the same 5 years, I was hit by Asimov, Zelazny, van Vogt, Disch, Dick, Silverberg, all those people. Especially my old fave, Simak.

#59 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 08:27 PM:

I wouldn't say I came to Fantasy and SF through the written word alone, because really, the first fantasy that hooked me as Dr. Seuss (I was another early reader, though 4 not 3, entirely due to memorizing his books.)

Though The Hobbit and Narnia came not too long after (About 8), but Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown was definitely the last nail in the coffin at about 9. I might have been saved before then, and weaned into mysteries or history or something else (Mom's fiction collection was about 45-45-10 fantasy-mystery-"Everything else", and her non-fiction close to 90% history/historical biography, so those really are the most likely options), but at that moment, I was doomed to the pits of the fantastical.

#60 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 08:39 PM:

My poor father hated science fiction, but he was the one who started me down that path. We went to the Bahamas for two weeks in the winter likely just before I turned eight, and I asked dad to check something out of the library for me, "A real book with no pictures." He got an Jules Verne omnibus, plus at the airport I picked out an Astounding or something like that at the airport in Miami. (had a story that scared the crap out of me...)

The rest, as they say, is history. Had to be second grade, third grade we started having Scholastic-sponsored book fairs and I learned the joy of buying books! And Andre Norton. And so much more.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2005, 10:12 PM:

The reading habit I got from my mother is mysteries and the better romances (Heyer). It pretty much guarantees reading anything, including cereal box labels. It also probably explains why most of the Required Reading in school was boring. (I'll see your For Whom The Bell Tolls and raise you Dune and Tiger In The Smoke.)

#62 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 12:24 AM:

I used to blame my parents for giving me Tom Swift Jr. for my 8th birthday instead of the Hardy Boys, but that was in the middle of the space race; I think I would have found SF regardless. I certainly was already a reader -- hardly surprising with both parents being teachers -- but having the head librarian at the county's central library as a family friend gave me an extra push. The first time I missed a ride because I had my nose in a book was no later than 2nd grade.

#63 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 01:14 AM:

My sister had taken one of the Lucky Starr books out from the library, I gave up trying to read it because I got lost in the dialogue regarding who was speaking (I was three or four at the time). The first SF I read that I finished, that I can remember, was Dophin Island by Clarke.

#64 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 02:32 AM:

I was prepared for reading SF by superhero comics -- one of my earliest memories is picking out World's Finest #199 off of a newsstand because the cover intrigued me. I've since found out from the web that I can't yet have been two and a half years old at the time. (I had that comic for over 25 years before finally losing it in a fire.) It was the conclusion of the third Superman-Flash race, and I didn't get to read the first part of the story for more than 35 years.

What got me into print SF was a birthday gift, an anthology of stories called Tales of Time and Space. Not long after, I found my parents' hardcover copy of The Hobbit, and forced them to take me out to the nearest bookstore (fortunately only a few blocks away) to buy the trilogy....

#65 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 02:54 AM:

The first SF I remember reading was one of those Groff Conklin anthologies (the one with Theodore Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God," which made a strong impression). It was in the elementary school library in Kadena AFB, Okinawa, which means I would have been seven or eight years old.

I'm not at all sure it was the first SF I read, though--I'm another one who doesn't remember learning to read.

#66 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 03:05 AM:

As a family, we have a tradition of reading, at least on my father's side.

As for SF&F, I suppose that I must blame Doctor Who as my first exposure to the genre, and the BBC Radio adaption of the Foundation Trilogy, a few years later, is perhaps what fixed my enthusiasm for the written stuff.

It occurs to me that many of the books available in the house were from the period between the two world wars, and that may be a part of the reason the Lensman books made such an impression on me. The style of writing was, in some respects, similar. The authors arose from the same, slightly alien, world. You could not confuse Kipling, Wodehouse, Chandler, and Smith, but their prose had the same foundations shaping their language.

#67 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 03:52 AM:

I'd like to think it was Jules Verne which influenced my reading choices, but I can't say for sure. First sf books I remember owning were the Lensman ones.

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 07:43 AM:

I think I've seen interviews with SF writers who said they were heavily influenced by Heinlein's juveniles. I think I read one (the young Earthman who befriends Venus's intelligent dragon Isaac Newton) and liked it, but I didn't know it was supposed to be for kids. In high school, I went for what little translated SF their library had, whether it was the above or van Vogt. Later, in my college's library, I discovered a lot of translated SF, thus my going thru Asimov and Zelazny at the same time. Then I found a bookstore near that college with the SF equivalent of Ali Baba's cavern: it carried a lot of SF in English. That's when my years of watching Bugs Bunny cartoons in English came in handy. And led to my now being an American citizen.

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 08:26 AM:

Reading comic-books when you' weren't even three years old, David? I'm impressed. Before 1970, I didn't have access to them, but one weekly carried Superman in serialized form so I knew about superheroes. Then, around 1966, I came across a TV show with superheroes I had never heard about, but they definitely were different: the Submariner, Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man...

Anyway, I consider comic-books to be SF. Mind you, I always knew they were not in the same league as real SF. One can hardly confuse Jack Kirby & Stan Lee with Asimov.

#70 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 09:57 AM:

SPACE CAT, by Ruthven Todd. I was six years old. It was not only the first SF book I remember reading, it was my first book period, and my first library book.

#71 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 10:41 AM:

Tim Walters: The first SF I remember reading was one of those Groff Conklin anthologies ...

That was Giants Unleashed. I got to it somewhat later in my own evolution.

Hosts: this thread has mutated into a discussion of "the first SF I read". Is it possible to request that a new thread be started for this topic?

#72 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 11:44 AM:

I don't remember the first SF/F I read. I was a complete bibliovore as a child, though. The first books that I specifically remember are Asimov, Vance and a collection of the Year's Best - it had Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God" in it.

Unless you count dreadful children's books with talking dinosaurs in them.

#73 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 12:05 PM:

First SF I can date was Rocket Ship Gallileo when it was more or less a new book - picked up from a friend's older family members. Other early reads were Van Vogt's Space Beagle before I knew what the Beagle meant. These 2 stand out because I read them again later but not too much later which nailed down the memory - other early reads have faded into a blur. Oz was much more real than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

I remember a very early serial in I think Boy's Life (which certainly had a space opera comic in the color section later in the 50's?) in which one character cracked "should invent a grapefruit capsule that squirts the other way" I found that hilarious but the story and the author are likely rightly forgotten.

Simak provided an early epiphany - I opened something haphazardly read a little and thought this is by Simak; I can identify some styles.

#74 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 12:17 PM:

My first SF book was Have Space Suit--Will Travel. Actually, I loved all of the Heinlein juveniles, particularly Time For The Stars. I still pick up some of the old Heinleins from time to time and reread them.

I was supremely fortunate in that a man who lived down the street from me was an old-school SF collector. He had enormous piles of old SF magazines (years & years of Analog) and paperbacks in an attic room, and he let me have free access to his collection. I get all misty- eyed just thinking about it.

So, even though I grew up in the 70s and 80s, a big chunk of my early reading was in 50s and 60s pulp SF. Have any of you got any idea what the market for old SF magazines is like? Have they all rotted away? I think it would be cool to have some of that stuff for the library.

#75 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 01:15 PM:

Someone donated a sizable pile of Analogs -- 1960s and 70s -- to a local Goodwill recently.

Because they're not the kind of thing that can be sold in one of their slick thrift shops, they went straight to the $.25/each bin at the Thrift Outlet, which is the step before the pulping mill.

I had a brief "I wonder if someone I know would want those?" moments, but passed them by. Very few people care about old mags, and taking them under my wing would mean having them hanging around for months or more looking for a new home.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 03:58 PM:

Thanks for the responses, everybody. It seems that we all got introduced (or introduced ourselves) to SF at an early age.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 04:23 PM:

Stefan: If they have the one with the Giant Meteor Impact (cover story), I'm looking.... It was in 1966, IIRC.

#78 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 05:45 PM:

Jeffrey, sorry, I was taking out my annoyance at Ernest Lilley on you.

#79 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 06:28 PM:

Marilee wrote:

Yes, Jeffrey, that makes sense for this year. But since we know there will be no hot water next year, either (they're not replacing the old boilers before then), we should just get a reduced rate.

He was not disagreeing with you, but I do. It makes more sense for the people who are actually inconvenienced by the lack of hot water to get the reduced rate, rather than everyone who rents a room. The inconvenienced ones mention the problem at checkout and get their discount. People who take showers when the hot water is sufficient don't need a discount.

It beats me how Ernest Lilley is involved with this, though.

#80 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2005, 07:12 PM:

Have any of you got any idea what the market for old SF magazines is like? Have they all rotted away? I think it would be cool to have some of that stuff for the library.

Scott, some of it is very pricey and some of it is cheap. You can often buy fair-sized lots of old sf magazines on eBay for not too much; it depends on the number of people looking at any given time. I've bought a dozen issues for under $10 at some times, and similar lots for $30-40 at others. Specific issues with stories by collectible authors can be hard to come by.

#81 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2005, 12:08 AM:

Serge (Stefan, too): "Giant Meteor Impact" was March, 1966, if that helps.

Scott H: I think it would be cool to have some of that stuff for the library.

I'm getting the sense that you might be able to provide a home for some? Keep talking.

#82 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2005, 05:52 PM:

Dan, it may just be that people tend to speak more when they want to complain, but I only found one person who didn't have cool water (she had hers come out boiling hot). If it was a small group, then individual talks with the desk would be fine, but it appears to have affected almost everybody.

Ernest is involved because I went to the gripe panel (to thank them for making con places accessible and offer a joke about the program guide) and made the suggestion about getting a lower rate next year. Ernest pointed at me and said "That person can ask at the desk." I would have thought he'd know my name by now, but at least he could have said "you" or "she" rather than "that person."

#83 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2005, 05:54 PM:

And speaking of SF magazines, old and new, there's a fabulous display of covers here.

#84 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 03:39 AM:

Marilee, I don't know which I'm more impressed with, the technical skills to put that together, or the collection itself. Wow.

#85 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2005, 03:49 PM:

To Bob Oldendorf:

Hell yes I can provide a home for some! Low humidity, comfortable shelving, lotsa love. I'm not rolling in dough at the moment, but we might be able to work something out.

If you want to take this off line, I'm

#86 ::: Caineisable ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 09:23 AM:

Oh man...I've spent one too many weekends at scifi conventions lately I'm on hiatus. Sounds awesome.

#87 ::: soldiergrrrl ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2005, 12:08 PM:

This is for CHip, athough I doubt his willingness to actually reply to me.

One, it's my blog and I don't exactly consider it whining if I express frustration with the fact that the average American has no clue what it takes to arrange a teleconference/media event.

I also find it extremely frustrating that my job had mud slung all over it. I don't know any of the PA folx involved in that particular incident, but someone who I have great deal of respect for does, and he's mentioned that she's a hard worker and an ethical woman.

Do I think it was all on the up and up? I can't judge. I wasn't there, but I do know that if you got a chance to look at the media operations center that I worked in 30 minutes before the start of an interview/teleconference, you'd be pretty convinced it was all about pulling the strings on a puppet. Add in two-way talkback or live video feedback, and it gets about sixteen times more complicated. Hell, I'm just a print monkey but I can tell that much. You couldn't *pay* me enough to be a broadcaster.

Anway, I only have a small dog in this fight, and I sincerely doubt that anything I say will sway you from your smug perch, looking down upon the lowly mortals.

With that being said, I'm gonna go grab a cuppa and see about hitting the rack. It's only 2008 here, but I've have a long day.

#88 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2005, 10:28 PM:

soldiergrrrl, I don't know how much the average American knows about the effort of preparing for a telecast, but if you read through this blog you'll see that many of the contributors are less average than I am -- and I've done mobile theater, so I do have some idea what a remote involves. For that matter, I doubt there are many Americans who think the President just happens to call up and find a handful of presentable soldiers to talk to in the middle of a war. Of course it's your blog, and you can say whatever you like in it -- but since you choose to say it in public and in a semi-permanent form, you're going to get called on remarks that readers think are out of line. I wouldn't be surprised if there were other references, probably some of them much less flattering than mine; have you searched for and read everything that people have said about you?

But that's not the point of the original story. The point was that all of the effort -- all of the work you have to do to make something go on the air with better quality than a home movie -- have nothing to do with the fact that a totally scripted event was presented as a spontaneous conversation. The problem is that it's perfectly possible to be an honest person and a hard worker who nonetheless serves a lie. The people on this blog don't normally slam the people on the line. (Eric Bogle put it neatly by saying he doesn't criticize the point of the sword.) But you're only talking about the peripherals, and we're talking about the (by-courtesy) person who designed this event, who not only set up a fraud but did it so incompetently that just the soundtrack, half-heard while I was driving, made the setup obvious. I suppose we should be grateful these were soldiers rather than politicians; they weren't good enough at mouthing other people's words, or stuffing pre-packaged points into a conversation, to sound convincing. Instead they sounded like people with no sales talent trying to sell something they don't like very much, perhaps crossed with authors trying to drag a panel around to self-advertising. (see "Book Dumps" elsewhere in this blog.)

I suppose I shouldn't be depressed that this administration could find ~.01% of the on-site military still willing to be sock puppets, despite the way they've been screwed, blued, and tattooed by that administration. (e.g., lack of armor, lack of much other prep, lack of sufficient forces, collapse of a strategy that \might/ have made less of a mess, attempting to wipe out the conventions that could make existence easier for anyone captured, and all of it in service of an alleged danger that was always a fantasy.) You can call me a gormless civilian if you wish, but if you do I suggest you do read-all-by on Terry Karney and James D. MacDonald, who are talking from experience.

And wrt your opening -- do you have any particular evidence suggesting I won't be willing to reply to you, or are you just assuming (without bothering to look at the evidence) that we're all cowardly drivebys? That's a rather trollish attitude.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.