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June 8, 2005

Open thread 42
Posted by Teresa at 10:21 AM *

”____, the ________, and __________.”

Comments on Open thread 42:
#1 ::: RandallP ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 10:47 AM:

Oh! Oh! Me first!

"Stan, the pig, and sexism."

Am I right? Am I?

#2 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:04 AM:

I'll plug a law-school buddy's favorite responses to Jeopardy! questions he had no clue about:

"Saskatchewan, the Sputnik, and spotted owl."

(Just as he did, I know they are not the right answers.)

#3 ::: Fran ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:06 AM:

That fill-in-the-blank sentence reminds me of an unpleasant person I'm dealing with on a private board. After an initial bout of posting her opinions in casual conversational style, she is now smugly insulting all those who disagree with her. Her weapon of choice is using bold, coloured font to display sentences that are studded with ten dollar words that sometimes actually match her intended meaning.

I think this is something the board admins will eventually deal with, but I'd appreciate any help from any writers or editors here regarding this exchange.

[Poster #1]: "I don't agree with you. You're an annoying person. Buy a new thesauraus."
[Annoying person]: "Thus, you are compelled to banal ridicule."
[Poster #2]: "Is there a verb missing? (such as, "you are compelled to spew banal ridicule"). If not, how do you banal ridicule?"
[Annoying person]: "Ridicule(noun)is the direct object of the transitive verb compelled(past tense). Banal is an adjective, describing ridicule. No additional verb is required. Comprende?"
[Poster #3]: "Split infiintive! Split infinitive!"

What annoying person has written just sounds wrong to me. She's made obvious errors before. And have I mentioned that she's annoying? My first impression was that she's missing a verb, but could this kind of highly contracted sentence structure be legit? Or is "You are compelled to banal ridicule" just a great blog name that someone should grab as quickly as possible?

#4 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:09 AM:

Fran, could she be using "to" in the sense of "toward"?

#5 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:11 AM:

Stupidity, the Right, and The Communist Manifesto?

#6 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:13 AM:

Or is "You are compelled to banal ridicule" just a great blog name that someone should grab as quickly as possible?

That, certainly.

But at the risk of jumping in ahead of those far more qualified, I believe the infinitive "to ridicule" is indeed the object of "compelled," and a more correct wording would be "you are compelled to ridicule me in your usual banal fashion" to fit the annoying person's apparent style.

#7 ::: Fran ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:14 AM:

Aconite, she might be using "to" that way. I think that "toward" would imply that someone had not yet reached that point, which would not quite match what I think she had in mind, but that way lies nitpicking.

But is "You are compelled toward [adjective][noun]" grammatically correct?

#8 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:15 AM:

I'd say she's well within the standards of English grammar, which are loose, but is failing the basic test of *effective* rhetoric: the more obvious it is that you're using Style, the more perfectly you have to pull it off.

I had this rueful thought while nearly buying a diadem at a summer festival recently; there is sufficient nerdiness in a diadem that it had better be perfectly designed and made, or no degree of sprezzatura in the wearer will carry it off. And while these diadems were good enough for earrings, if you follow me, they weren't good enough for headdresses.

Anyway, back to the annoying sentence: "you are reduced to petty taunts" would be idiomatic, yes? because slightly cliché we understand 'reduced' as 'forced' or 'compelled', and 'taunts' is as much a noun as 'ridicule', and slapping the adjective on it is fine.

#9 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:17 AM:

"Death, the Knight, and the Devil"; or sometimes "and the Maiden".

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:21 AM:

Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything?
World, the Flesh, and Devil?
Rum, the Sodomy, and Lash?
Martin, the Barton, and Fish?

#11 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:21 AM:

clew shoots and scores -- "you are reduced to petty taunts" is what [annoying person] would have said, could s/he write English. The introductory "thus," just seals my judgement of [annoying person].

#12 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:22 AM:

Fran, I am not a Professional Language Expert, like our host and hostess, and many of the others here, but I'd say that this sort of compressed sentence structure is acceptable--it's a characteristic of Latin and its descendent languages; I don't know how much it is a quality of the Germanic ones.
However, Annoying Poster's use of "compelled" is idiotic. What does "compelled" mean, after all? It's really more appropriate for one of the respondants: "I am compelled to spew banal ridicule by your idiocy." The word Annoying Poster wants is probably "reduced"; "You are reduced to banal ridicule [because of your pathertically limited intellect and/or education]."

#13 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:22 AM:

Butcher, the Baker, Candlestick-maker.

#14 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:28 AM:

Belle, the Book, and Kandel.


#15 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:33 AM:


Widget, the Wadget, and Boff.

#16 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:35 AM:

[Widget] [Wadget] Boff.

I am too skiffy for my shirt.

Annoying person is overly stylistic, but not seriously grammatically errant, as others have elucidated. No infinitives have been fractured.

#17 ::: Jack ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:37 AM:

Life, the Universe, and Everything.

(I hate me.)

How about:

Philip A. Cooney, the White House, and decades of climate research right down the toilet? Whoosh!

#18 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:41 AM:

Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me.

#19 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:46 AM:

relevant only to my current mood and life situation:
f*ck this sh*t and damn it all to hell.
(ok, liberties have been taken with the construction).

#20 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:50 AM:

Fran, I think she's using "compelled" in the sense of "driven":
"Thus, you are driven to banal ridicule."

I flubbed when I wrote "toward." I had a handful of chocolate after months of none, and the sugar rush...well, I'm just coming down. Anyway, I meant "to" was probably being used as a preposition instead of a prepositional part of an infinitive.

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:53 AM:

Very good, Jack. This is, after all, open thread #42.

Now: how many of you already knew that? Anybody?

#22 ::: Bueller ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:54 AM:


#23 ::: d ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:02 PM:

i'll still note:

mom, the wolf man, and me

#24 ::: Jack ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:04 PM:

Did Patrick get it? I see an Everything in there. And, well, a Fish.

#25 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:11 PM:

I put this up last week, I've been vaguely wondering who would be interested, this is an open thread, so the answer gets to be *you*:

The Rules of Moopsball. With illustrations! After clutching this article to my bosom for (er) 15 years, I finally got hold of the author's email address, asked him for permission to put it online, and he said yes. (Thanks!)

If you were reading Damon Knight anthologies in the 70s, you may remember this. Or if you were reading "Legion of Super-Heroes" in the 80s. I was neither, but I found a copy of _Orbit 18_ in my high school library.

Also, I know CSS2 now.

If I could find the person with the rights to _The Glass Harmonica_, and get *that* online, my past geek lightcone would be nearly complete. The only thing better would be the discovery of an untouched trove of _Vision On_ videotapes.

#26 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:13 PM:

"15 years"

Or 20, by your feeble Earth mathematics. Er.

#27 ::: Steve Burnett ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:20 PM:

I was going to answer "Heaven, the Its Wonders, and Hell", after the three aliens so dubbed by the main character of the Theodore Sturgeon story, but "the Its" look terrible and I don't feel at liberty to edit the original past the blank lines provided to do so, so I won't.

#28 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:27 PM:

The BBC is offering all of Beethoven's symphonies as MP3 downloads at specific times during this month and next:

#29 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Mongo, the candygram, and ka-boom.

I know it's too late, but if I don't write it here it'll just gnaw its way out of my skull.

#30 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:41 PM:

Mom, the Wolfman and Me.

#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:46 PM:

A Making Light award to Clew for writing an unforced sentence containing rueful, diadem, nerdiness, and sprezzatura.

Fran, your unpleasant acquaintance's grammar is unquestionably in error. Regard the sentence:

Thus, you are compelled to banal ridicule.
If she uses "compelled," the word in the position currently occupied by "banal" has to be a verb. One is compelled to do or be or [insert here the verb of your choice]. One is not compelled to noun or adjective: Thus, you are compelled to wiggly, or Thus, you are compelled to Secretary General of the United Nations. The nearest correct equivalent would be Thus, you are reduced to banal ridicule, or perhaps Thus, you are compelled to use banal ridicule. It would be rhetorically feeble, but at least the grammar would be correct.

Also, the person who was objecting to the split infinitive has committed the error of forgetting which language he or she is speaking. The badness of split infinitives is a non-rule erroneously imported into English by misguided Latinists. Infinitives may not be split in Latin because they're single words, but the language Latin that same thing as English not is. If said person argues with you, tell 'em it's actually a phrasal infix.

#32 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:51 PM:

I came up with this on the walk to the BART station today...

"Lying, the Switch, and a Bored Rube: The Daily Life of Con Men"

#33 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:53 PM:

That guy who posted the bookbinding instructions is planning to be at the MoCCA comics festival this weekend.

#34 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 12:59 PM:

Verbs can easily be assumed in English. "Thus you are compelled to banal ridicule" communicates pretty cleanly to me (and the purpose of grammatical constructions is to elucidate communication, right?). "Compelled" is roughly parallel to "forced" -- and I can't see anyone objecting to "Thus you are forced into an untenable position", where the verb "assuming" is elided between "into" and "an". YMMV.

#36 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:04 PM:

If I can be commanded to court to kneel before the King, then I can be compelled to banal ridicule. Or to derision. Or to Cleveland, for that matter.

I don't see a problem.

#37 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:09 PM:

There's always the "two typos" explanation. The original composition didn't make it past the proofreading imp in my visual cortex. That little twerp is utterly unconcerned with meaning (comprehension not being his bailiwick, y'see) so he forwarded the following to the actual reading-and-thinking part of my brain:

Thus, you are compelled to ban all ridicule.

#38 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:14 PM:

I personally am all excited for the new The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe movie. (When I was at E3, I went to their booth religiously every hour on the hour so I could see the trailer all big on their large screen. They had snow from a snow machine falling during the trailer showings.)

It doesn't quite fit with the blanks though. Too many articles. And I had quite overlooked the 42. :)

#39 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:15 PM:

Fran: Your chum appears to be using the Insult Generators located here.

#40 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:17 PM:

For orotund flaming, the blogumentary rant is hard to beat.

#41 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:17 PM:
Now: how many of you already knew that? Anybody?
Ooooh! Me, me!

It was the first thing I thought of when I saw the fill in the blank, and then I noticed the page header...if only my cursed employers didn't insist that I spend some time actually working, I probably would have been by sooner...

#42 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:18 PM:

Ooh, good one, Tim.

#43 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:18 PM:

If said person argues with you, tell 'em it's actually a phrasal infix.

Teresa: Excellent advice (of course). Not only does this describe the grammar, but the phrase will also cause most people to stop in momentary confusion, thus allowing a quick getaway from a tedious argument.

Fran: If all else fails, simply refer the twit to this thread.

#44 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:38 PM:

Now: how many of you already knew that? Anybody?

What was the question anyway ?

#45 ::: Fran ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:39 PM:

I knew this was the right place to ask about AP's forced rhetoric, even though there is no consensus yet. I agree that "reduced" is probably the best single word substitution for "compelled", but I'm still open to the argument that "compelled to [adjective] [noun]" is a permissible compression in the right hands.
Andrew, your example is intriguing, but the structural differences between the two examples is stopping me from agreeing with you right away. My formal education in grammar is minimal, so pardon my rudimentary attempts at diagramming.

"[You are] commanded to court to kneel before the King." = "You are commanded to [noun defining a location] to [verb]."

"Thus, you are compelled to banal ridicule" = "You are compelled to [adjective] [noun]."

Thanks for the link to the insult generators, but those seem much more well crafted than AP's attempts.

Beth, I think you were mostly joking with your tempting suggestion to point AP to this thread, but I would want to wait for an explicit invitation from our hosts.

Phrasal infix? I like it!

#46 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:56 PM:

Are you sure your nitpicker's first language actually is english ? To me the sentence seemed perfectly valid on first look because the verb "banaliser" exists in french. I actually had to double-check to realize what the problem was.

#47 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 01:57 PM:

Gee, what I thought was:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
but that's not sffnal enough.
And it doesn't fit the blanks.

I think Jack is correct, the answer is Life, the Universe and Everything, since this is open thread 42.

#48 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:06 PM:


reduced to fruitcake
compelled to fruitcake

and also

compelled to yield
reduced to yield

"Reduced to" wants a noun object. "Compelled to" wants a verb object. I'm sure there's a technical term for this, but it's plain to the ear.

Actually, I think this might explain it:

reduced to | fruitcake (verb + auxiliary, noun)
compelled | to yield (verb, infinitive)

#49 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:18 PM:

The "banal ridicule" sentence makes perfectly good sense to me. It fits a pattern used often enough to be a recognizably English construction, for me. It's "highfalutin style" to some extent, out of place, etc. I can see why this person is identified as AP!

I never did learn to apply precise rules of grammar; just as well, since I don't think we *have* precise rules of grammar that actually describe English. But it's like "being reduced to water" or some such; there's an implicit verb.

#50 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:23 PM:

"If I could find the person with the rights to _The Glass Harmonica_, and get *that* online, my past geek lightcone would be nearly complete. The only thing better would be the discovery of an untouched trove of _Vision On_ videotapes."

Also published as The Book of Weird. I do remember that book, see:

The 1994 reprint is listed at Baker & Taylor as "PERMANENTLY OUT OF STOCK" *sigh*

#51 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:36 PM:

Of course, "Open Thread 42" only came from the Question, which is "What is 6 times 8?"

#52 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:41 PM:

Zeno says it's:
(he doesn't admit the existence of spaces).

#53 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:42 PM:

I think what's going wrong in the "banal ridicule" sentence is the writer has mixed up ridicule (noun) with ridicule (transitive verb). "Banal" is an adjective, which makes sense if "ridicule" is a noun, but then "compelled" makes no sense. If "ridicule" is a verb, then "compelled" works, but "banal" should be replaced by "banally".

#54 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 02:59 PM:

What I think is going on with Fran's correspondent is ellipsis which I'm quite likely to commit myself. Here's how the sentence should read for maximal sense

Thus you are compelled [by your lack of wit to utter] banal ridicule.

And it's that double damned passive construction which should be avoided at all costs if you really want to be clear to your listeners. (Yes, I meant to do that)


#55 ::: almostinfamous ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 03:37 PM:

my possible conclusions:

a hip, a hop... no,wait.... that doesnt fit in here.

how about summer, the heat and mosquitoes?

Teresa, for the real nerds a giveaway is any use of #42.

What was the question anyway ?
as far as i can determine, it is "how many roads must a man walk down?"

SLATFATF, ladies and gentlemen

#56 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 03:42 PM:

Teresa, it's not a split infinitive because there's no verb there. "to banal ridicule" is preposition-adjective-noun.

Jonathan Moeller: The question, as I recall from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, was "What do you get when you multiply six by nine?" Which I don't think can actually be spelled out with the standard English Scrabble set -- too many y's.

#57 ::: Jack, a real nerd ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 03:52 PM:

almostinfamous: That's why I suspected Patrick's "Fish" was a hint. Except that there you've got the "and" and the "the" backwards.

What was the question anyway ?
Dude, it was the answer.

#58 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 04:21 PM:

(I had a moment of social paranoia before I realized that all the "AP"s were not me.)

Fran: "[You are] commanded to court to kneel before the King." = "You are commanded to [noun defining a location] to [verb]."

Okay, that example was more ambiguous than I'd intended. I threw in the last clause for decoration, and to weight down the sense of the whole thing. It could equally have been "I am commanded to court", or "I am commanded to court, where I shall kneel before the king."

See also: "remanded", "tempted", and other words with consonants in them. Actually "tempted" is a good example. The usual use is "tempted to ", but if you say "tempted to lechery" -- or Cleveland -- it's the same stylistic angle.

#59 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 05:03 PM:

I knew, but I saw Hitchhiker's last month with the SF discussion group -- the first movie I've seen in a theatre in years. I think our next field trip will be Howl's Moving Castle.

(This cursor is normal.)

#60 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 05:05 PM:

Thanks to several Making Light folks who gave me comments by blog and email, my Westerns & Science Fiction paper has now passed 20,000 words. Drafts still available upon request, by email.

On my academic soap opera, good news. The Academic Vice President has finally succeeded, as of today, in demanding that the bizarre Dean step down, and remain as a mere Assistant Professor of Psychology on a 3-year contract. Now there is no power behind the illiterate and unpublishable Chairman, who deposed me without cause from my Adjunct Professorship. It should now be less of a Hostile Workplace for my wife, and a place where I might reasonably be rehired.

#61 ::: Amy ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 05:47 PM:

The Favor, The Watch, and the Very Big Fish

#62 ::: Jack ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 06:09 PM:

... wow. I haven't dusted off the neurons attached to that movie in a very, very long time.

#63 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 06:50 PM:

Andrew -- that's an interesting use of 'to command', and not one I've ever heard actually used. I suspect it's archaic. In my experience of actual English usage, both 'to command' and 'to compel' always take a verb phrase in the the infinitive in place of an object (if they have one; one can command without specifying what the command is, and equally something can compel... which is usually a non-passive reconstruction of the common idiom 'to be compelling').

I've heard these described as 'causative verbs'.

#64 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 06:51 PM:

Anderw: re: Moopsball.

I haven't played an actual game of Moopsball but I have attended many the Estrella War (SCA event). The rules some years were quite similar.

#65 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 06:53 PM:

Tim, Compelled to Fruitcake sounds like it ought to be against the Geneva Convention.

Also: The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars.

#66 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 07:21 PM:

The Protector, the Ringworld, and the Confusion

(does anyone even have a clue as to what was going on in the last couple of Ringworld books?)

#67 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 08:01 PM:

Grasp the mask firmly and breathe naturally?

(It's better when Garrison Keillor sings it to the tune of "Tell Me Why," but that's something else again.)

Oh, the holly, and the ivy?

#68 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 08:11 PM:

The Girl the Gold Watch and Everything

#69 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 08:20 PM:

TNH: Now: how many of you already knew that? Anybody?

I am mortified; I consider myself a serious Hitchhiker's fan and didn't spot that. (My first thought was the Sturgeon cited by cmk, but I remembered it needs a leading "The".) Marianne, the Magus, and the Manticore
might be my favorite unposted "almost".

Andrew: you might also want to mention in your endnotes that moopsball (in an indoor version) also appears in Gene Wolfe's There Are Doors. This is not surprising as Wolfe was a frequent contributor to Orbit, but I was rather struck to realize that the book gives Wolfe and the late Jim Morrison a point in common.

Jules: the form may be archaic, but it's still known:
With a host of furious fancies
Whereof I am commmander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air
Through the wilderness I wander.
With a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end;
Methinks it is no journey
-- Tom o'Bedlam's song.

(referenced in SF by Bester, Brunner, and Anderson that I can think of offhand; any others?)

#70 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 08:34 PM:

There's also a Mercedes Lackey/Ellen Guon collaborative novel called Knight of Ghosts and Shadows.

#71 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 09:18 PM:

"...moopsball (in an indoor version) also appears in Gene Wolfe's There Are Doors."

It does? I've *read* that. I must have noticed, squeaked, and then forgotten.

Thanks. Will update.

#72 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 09:21 PM:

Tom O'Bedlam's Song was also referenced in M.M. Kaye's historical romance Trade Wind, which is where I first ran into it as the child who would read anything. (Also my first occasion for running into Donne's Song, "Go and catch a falling star," which of course, I later rediscovered in Howl's Moving Castle.)

#73 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 09:23 PM:

<humility type="all.due">Someone, in a Making Light thread since the merger, referred to a Murphy/Godwin-like law referring to the likelihood that a post criticizing an error in someone else's post will itself contain an error.

I've tried using the site search and Google search, but the problem is that "law" and "mistake" and "error" are not specific enough for search strings.

Can someone help me out? I need to refer to this principle for something I'm working on.</humility>

#74 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 09:35 PM:

Wow, I copyedited There Are Doors, and I don't remember that. Not that I don't believe you.

HP, the comment you're looking for is here. As I said: "It is an iron law of online discourse that any post correcting someone else's spelling, grammar, or usage will itself contain an error of spelling, grammar, or usage."

#75 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 09:46 PM:

Ah, I should have known it was my host's comment. That only deepens my embarrassment at not being able to find it on my own. Thank you, Patrick.

#76 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 09:54 PM:

Research To Investigate Links Between Ancient Greeks And Modern Science Fiction

Source: University of Liverpool
Date: 2005-06-08

New research into the Ancient Greeks shows their knowledge of travel inspired early forms of fantasy and science fiction writing.

There is a long tradition of fantasy in Greek literature that begins with Odysseus' fantastic travels in Homer's Odyssey. Dr Karen Ni-Mheallaigh, at the University of Liverpool's School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, is exploring fantasy in ancient literature, examining theories of modern science fiction writing and how these can be applied to texts from the ancient world.... Dr Ni-Mheallaigh's findings will be published in 2006.

This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Liverpool.

#77 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 10:43 PM:

(My first thought was the Sturgeon cited by cmk, but I remembered it needs a leading "The".)

Bedad. I've Googled that, not that I don't believe you, but because the reason it stuck in my memory and the reason it was the first thing that came to mind was precisely the, ah, articular asymmetry.

My memory clearly is not what it was.

#78 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:21 PM:

(I claim priority on the Sturgeon!)

#79 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:36 PM:

Amy: I saw that movie half a dozen times when I was a studio projectionist (at least half a dozen times). The oddity was there were two different prints, one of which was missing changeover marks for reel four. I got pretty good at making the switch anyway.


#80 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:41 PM:

(I claim priority on the Sturgeon!)

Not to be picky, but--the record shows, me by two minutes.

#81 ::: Jonathan Villanelle Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2005, 11:47 PM:

When Rimbaud meets Rambo
Ben MacIntyre
The new French Prime Minister's grandiose poetic style won't cut much ice with the White House action men

“A SINGLE VERSE by Rimbaud,” writes Dominique de Villepin, the new French Prime Minister, “shines like a powder trail on a day’s horizon. It sets it ablaze all at once, explodes all limits, draws the eyes to other heavens.” Here is a rather different observation, uttered by George Bush Sr in 1998, that might stand as a motto for his dynasty: “I can’t do poetry....”

M de Villepin has set himself 100 days to restore French self-confidence, to infuse France with a sense of its poetic destiny: “We need a heart that beats for everyone.” For this poet, practical considerations are secondary. As he wrote in his recent 823-page treatise on French poetry: “What does it matter where this path leads, nowhere or elsewhere, if the furrow continues flowering, if the flash of lightning still inflames the night . . . If the poet still consumes himself, he refuses the enclosures of thought, certainties, to camp in the heart of the mystery, in the living spirit of the flame....”

#82 ::: S. E. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 12:33 AM:

Billy, the Dark, and the Mysterious Drip, or, Uncle Vlad Comes To Town.

#83 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 01:05 AM:

"Jeeves, the twenty-year, and quickly."

#84 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 01:22 AM:

Chris Quinones:

Oops. At least I didn't say six times seven. Poor Douglas Adams would've spun in his grave fast enough to generate an Improbability Field (of course, the very fact he's spinning in his grave due to an incorrect math problem is itself improbably the result of an Improbability Field).

#85 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:34 AM:

It doesn't scan, but sprang to mind the moment I looked at those blanks, so I had to go look it up because of never having precisely memorized the title:

Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg

And yet I can say from memory "The Lemon-Freshened, Active-Enzyme, Junior High School Witch" three times fast without batting an eye. Except I probably got my descriptors out of order. Sorry, Hildick...

#86 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:39 AM:

"The Rain, the Park, and Other Things"

Fran, your unpleasant acquaintance's grammar is unquestionably in error. Regard the sentence:

Thus, you are compelled to banal ridicule.

Actually, as I read it, it may be awkward (or, if you refer, poetic), but it is not grammatically incorrect. I read it not as "compelled to [dance the limbo, bite your fingernails, whatever]" but as "compelled to[ward]. M-W online gives one definition of "compel" as "to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly," so one with a small vocabulary could, indeed, be compelled to banality.

#87 ::: Guy Matthews ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 04:13 AM:

In keeping with this week's cheery outlook on life and the future: "me, the undead, and a shotgun."

#88 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 06:24 AM:

Thanks for the Rimbaud meets Rambo link, made me laugh out loud. Reminded me that in Heian Japan, being a good poet was a pre-requisite of a good statesman. Goes to show (whatever is shown I'll leave to your appreciation).
Of course the cynical might say that's why the Fujiwara took over...

I'm having serious doubts about Mr De Villepin's poetry, though.

#89 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 06:45 AM:

Bedad, cmk, independent creation! Seriously, yours was unseen while I was writing and I didn't pull it out until just now. The perils of a not-completely-simultaneous system. I cede your publication priority, as JvP might say.

Let's see if we can both invent calculus.

#90 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 07:46 AM:

Another submission, taken from the Bible Particle: "Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression."

#91 ::: Jonathan Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 08:13 AM:


"... Rimbaud meets Rambo link, made me laugh out loud. Reminded me that in Heian Japan, being a good poet was a pre-requisite of a good statesman...."

Similarly writing and interpreting poetry was part of the Mandarin Chinese exams for Civil Service, with those getting the very best scores almost automatically assigned to the court of the Emperor. The greatest court poet, Su Tung-Po was the head of the hydraulic engineering, canals and the like, and exiled to a remote island when an unfriendly Emperor was in power.

I also think that those unable to appreciate poetry, let alone write poetry, do not have the nuanced linguistic ability to play as adults on the world stage. Public information allows easy classification: which U.S. Presidents and presidential candidates wrote and published poetry; which were unable to handle prose adequately?

Tom Whitmore & cmk:

"Let's see if we can both invent calculus."

The first post has come, and they're passing Archimedes from the gate in approximating π from polygons approaching circles. Now Tom has the derivatives of polynomials, and cmk says that's not fair, as Tom has better access to used and new books. cmk has a breakthrough with antiderivatives, and found a haiku concealed in an equation of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz. Tom develops the improper integral, and Federal officers seize it... In jail, Tom finds clues in 16 Dec 1998 LIEBNITZ DESCENDANTS CHART as a fold-out of his signed limited edition of Neal Stephenson's "The System of the World" that lead him to crack the da Vinci Code. cmk meets in a Washington DC garage with "Deep Differential" -- a lineal descendant of Sir Isaac Newton, who says: "Follow the counterfeit money in the Tower of London." Tom Whitmore cracks the Differential Equations of "The Courts of Chaos" and sets off a 50-state manhunt when he mysteriously disappears from the high security jailcell. cmk discovers that Japan did not wimp out in discovering Calculus before Europe, then retreating, as popularly believed, via Geometric Calculus in Fukui - Portal... "for geometry, you know, is the gate of science, and the gate is so low and small that one can only enter it as a little child." [Attributed to William K. Clifford (1845-1879)]. Tom Whitmore emerges briefly with a press release with The Man in the High Castle. cmk reveals that Kobo Abe is still alive, and has been writing Philip K. Dick screenplays in Hollywood, but is thrown into the Bobby Fischer Jail Cell for revealing that the covert Calculus Service has built a manned Japanese Moon Base. Then things start to get strange...

#92 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 08:45 AM:

"Compelled to court" is a genuine archaism (archaic not least because if the Queen of Gt Britain tried to compel anybody to court these days, they'd likely respond with a short speech about sex and travel). "Compelled to banal ridicule" is a pseudo-archaism which belongs in sentences beginning, "Lud!, i'faith, sirrah!" Anyone indulging in such usage should be challenged to pistols at dawn (if you're a better shot than them).

#93 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 09:20 AM:

I'm not sure this is an appropriate use for an open thread; if it is not please feel free to reprimand me.

I wrote a poem (or "inherently shapeless bit of text separated into lines") yesterday that I think might be pretty meaningful. I would welcome criticism -- here is a link: Facets

#94 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 09:39 AM:

Ah, what the blanks said to me finally surfaced:
"The Widget, the Wadget, and Boff."

Sturgeon's legacy is there.

#95 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 10:47 AM:

OK, Open Thread: if anyone on here is a marine biologist, please email me if you're willing to help explain a few things about jellyfish. Need to know them for a story I'm working on.

#96 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 11:03 AM:


You mean "a better shot than they" (or she, or he, but the point is that "better than" requires a subject pronoun).

I anxiously await the discovery of the error in this post.

#97 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 11:04 AM:

Anyone indulging in such usage should be challenged to pistols at dawn (if you're a better shot than them).

Pistols? Tsk. Swords! More visceral.

Also, I didn't see it, but one might point out that if we're descending into the grammar critique of the argument, one might point out that while ridicule can be a verb, banal is deep in adjective territory.

He made a banal argument.
He argued banally.

#98 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 11:06 AM:

(referenced in SF by Bester, Brunner, and Anderson that I can think of offhand; any others?)

Robert Silverberg wrote a novel called Tom O'Bedlam, which included what seems to be to be the full lyrics of Tom O'Bedlam

(As opposed to Bedlam Boys, which follows the same melody but seems to have a complete discrete set of lyrics as some musicians play it - and to be a mish-mash of itself and the Tom O'Bedlam lyrics per others. Not a criticism, just folk process, though it does seem a pity none of the recordings I have seem to be the actual Tom O'Bedlam).

#99 ::: Nikki ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 11:12 AM:

Can't help it:

Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe

#100 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 11:35 AM:

From the treehouses page: “We’ve also had a lot of international enquiry regarding manufacturing the sphere’s under license..."


Cool spheres (NOTE!) though.

#101 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 11:42 AM:

My first response to those dashes was: looks like something from Howard Dean's latest comments on Republicans, the expurgated version.

Another thread, and a link here, mention that horrible cult of teenage anorexics. SFGate columnist Mark Morford had a column about it yesterday: linked text

#102 ::: David Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 11:58 AM:

Take, the money, and run.

#103 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 12:22 PM:

See also Jack Lindsay's Loving Mad Tom with lovely fantasy illustrations by his brother Norman. If, that is, you can find a copy at a price you're willing to pay....

#104 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 12:38 PM:

Lenora Rose,

You can find a version of "Tom O' Bedlam" (set to a melody by Antonia Duren) on the Stampfel & Weber album Going Nowhere Fast. Stampfel & Weber are also known as the Holy Modal Rounders; in addition to their own albums, you can hear Stampfel's idiosyncratic vocal style on "Fingertips" by They Might Be Giants (he's the guy singing the title) and "New Amphetamine Shriek" by the Fugs.

I don't think Going Nowhere Fast ever made it to CD, alas.

#105 ::: Jonathan Vatican Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 01:28 PM:

Da Vinci Code fans note that since Pope Benedict XVI was installed, the Cardinals, Padres, and Angels are all off to impressive starts, although the Angels could use a few heaven-sent batters. [modified from Steve Harvey, "Only in L.A.", L.A. Times, 9 June 2005]

#106 ::: Pellegrina ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 01:48 PM:

<delurking very humbly>

I've been following your conversations with great enjoyment and enlightenment for nearly two years, but have hitherto been too shy to introduce myself, until now. Rather in the spirit of "Mr Underhill" at Bree (except that I really am writing what I say I am!), and hopefully with the blessing of our kind hosts, I'd like to pick your estimable brains.

For my library degree at UCL (London) I have to write an MA dissertation, and for my research topic I've chosen to look at libraries in SF (loosely defined). The jury is out on whether this was inspired, or incredibly foolish - probably the latter, as I am not very well read in SF, but it seemed to me that there must be something in it. I am open-minded as to what constitutes a library for the purposes of the dissertation - scenarios where libraries as we know them have (God forbid) been entirely replaced by computer networks would also be useful, provided there is more to be said than "no library here either"! I am mostly interested in discussing the texts as literature - the library (or lack of it) as symbolic of attitudes to knowledge/culture/the written heritage - than in assessing how realistically the future of libraries has been anticipated.

I have a rag-bag list of titles I am aware of (ranging from Asimov to Jasper Fforde and Pratchett via Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but inevitably it is biased towards the books I've read since I began to think of myself as a future librarian, as I wasn't paying attention before.

Given that the regulars here clearly have vast and retentive memories (and libraries), I would be very very grateful for any reading suggestions of primary or secondary texts. Hence the nervous wait for an Open thread in which to delurk...

<holds breath and waits to see if this was a good idea or a dire social solecism>

#107 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 01:59 PM:

Borges, to start with; at the outer edges, David McDaniel's The Arsenal out of Time and H. Beam Piper's The Cosmic Computer for stories in which library research drives the plot (also Melissa Scott's Silence in Solitude and E. C. Tubb's Dumarest books).

You might want to go with a strict definition. Loosely defined, this is way too big a topic.

#108 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:02 PM:

Pellegrina, the last time someone asked for book recommendations we ended up with this list. If you can find that old open thread, you'll find more there. Good times...

#109 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:06 PM:

Niven's Ringworld Engineers has an extensive section on finding and using a library's resources.

I haven't read the Discworld series (yes, bad me) but the Unseen University and its library have been prominently mentioned... someone more familiar with the series want to recommend which novel is best for this?

Ugh. Brain browned out... will come back to this later.

#110 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:11 PM:

I heard recently that Algis Budrys is quite ill, Teresa. Does anyone here know anything more? An email address to send best wishes?

#111 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Scorpio: Ah, what the blanks said to me finally surfaced:
"The Widget, the Wadget, and Boff."

You, me, and half the readership. What astonished me (when I brought the immense power of the Internet to bear on bringing the words to the top of my cranial eight-ball) was the overwhelming tendency to omit the brackets from The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff. Was it republished without the flourishes, or do people simply omit them?

I second tnh's appreciation of Tim's entry. John M Ford's is a valiant attempt, but I've never known Bertie to care about the age of his brandy, as long as it was not too diluted with soda. I also suspect that the first comma needs to be an exclamation point.

The true, the blushful answer embarrasses those of us who could have counted underscores, who could have noticed a remarkable number, and who didn't. All die.

#112 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:28 PM:

I'd comment on "compelled to court" if only I could spell pheromones.

See Foundation's Friends for Orson Scott Card's "The Originist", largely set in a research library and in which research is an integral part of the plot. (I am not the fan of Ender's Game that so many people are--maybe I shouldn't've read Ender's Shadow first--but he may have written the best Foundation story ever there.)

In my game of humiliation, I'll admit I've never read Dune, or any other Frank Herbert.

Did anyone catch Michael Cunningham on The Diane Rehm show yesterday? Specimen Days sounds like a good book, but should I be happy that he sounds respectful (in a good way) of SF genre traditions? Or should I be mad that he said of the phrase 'speculative fiction' "Thank goodness for Margaret Atwood"? Or both?

Roland, the headless, Thompson gunner.

#113 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:33 PM:

Oh, and if comic books count, Tom O'Bedlam (not the original) is a character in Grant Morrison's The Invisibles which, like David Byrne's solo albums, took me a while to like, then love.

#114 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 02:46 PM:

I always enjoy the way Kimball Kinnison rewards the librarians with diamond bracelets .... wish that would happen more often around here.

Pellegrina, here's my short, messy, and very much incomplete list of libraries and librarians in fantasy and SF. Some are mere asides (but show how the concept of libraries evolves or more usually, does not evolve, in SF), and in some the library or librarian is central:

Librarians in Fantasy & SF

Smith, E.E. Doc. Lensman series
Pratchett, Terry. Discworld series
Wolfe, Gene. Shadow of the Torturer
Star Trek: All My Yesterdays; Lights of Zetar. Star Trek book Memory Prime
Eco, Umerto. Name of the Rose
Springer, Nancy. Fair Peril
Robinson, Spider. Callahan's Bar
Bes shahar, eluki. The New Britomart in Chicks in Chainmail.
Another short story in Did You Say Chicks?
Heinlein, RA. Have Spacesuit will travel.
Rowling. Harry Potter books.

Article in American Libraries May 2000, p.42 (a whole long list -- very good place to start your project)

#115 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 03:01 PM:


A search for Gordon R Dickson's ultimate library (The Final Encyclopedia) led me to John Gunn's article on Libraries in SF. I can imagine you might rather avoid it for fear of being drawn into a plagiarism trap, but when there is prior art on the subject, your work must compare and contrast itself. Consider yourself compelled there.

You have my sympathy for any difficulties this information may cause you.

By the way, there was an article or story, somewhere in the narratonoetic region that stretches from popular maths to science fiction, about the dire results of the exponential growth in scientific libraries. I somewhat expect an authoritative ID from someone on Making Light within 90 minutes of this comment, unless my presumption puts them off.

#116 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 03:03 PM:

Pellegrina--Neil Gaiman dreamed up the best library ever in Sandman.

#117 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 03:28 PM:

Ray Bradbury is a GREAT lover of libraries, having written Farenheit 451 in one, that novel giving us the Living Library, and giving free talks in many. Busy as he is, he is also generous, hence he might give you a few wonderful quotations that would enrich your thesis, if you write to him (his daughter will take his dictation as reply).

Janet Croft:

You nailed it. I cannot resist correcting some of the typos (the b in Umberto ...):

Librarians in Fantasy & SF

Smith, E.E. "Doc". Lensman series
Pratchett, Terry. Discworld series
Wolfe, Gene. Shadow of the Torturer
Star Trek: All My Yesterdays; Lights of Zetar. Star Trek book Memory Prime
Eco, Umberto. Name of the Rose
Springer, Nancy. Fair Peril
Robinson, Spider. Callahan's Bar
Bes shahar, eluki. The New Britomart in Chicks in Chainmail.
Another short story in Did You Say Chicks?
Heinlein, R.A. Have Spacesuit Will Travel.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter books.

I can't recall the story that predicted the modern use of the word "web" for the electronicized library, and dealt with successive miniaturizations to storage on individual molecules, then atoms, then quanta, then "notched" quanta... Eventually the entire moon (?) is the index, but the orginal complete contents have been lost.

"The Enchanted Duplicator" is a sort of anti-library story.

"Memex" by Vannevar Bush was a theoretical predecessor to electronically readable libraries, albeit he envisioned something extrapolated from microfilm technology. Ted Nelson cites that concept as an ancestor of Nelson's invention of Hypertext, itself cited as an ancestor of the Web.

I regret that my keynote address at the Hawaii Library Association had the recording botched to total loss.

#118 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 03:29 PM:

"odore" "ophrastis" "erson"

#119 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 03:31 PM:

D'OH! I seem to have assumed an initial "the," in contravention of common sense. So much for *#&@ clevertude. they still have that place when you can buy a used clue for a quarter?

#120 ::: Jonathan Variable Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 03:41 PM:

At last, a chance to give an equation inoffensively:

Do the Math: Brits Concoct Sitcom Formula

Pilcher and her team analyzed two decades' worth of British comedies and came up with a formula that looks like this: [((R x D + V) x F) + S]/A. Pilcher explains to the paper:
"Comedic value is determined by multiplying the recognizability of the main character (R) by their delusions of grandeur (D). This is added to the verbal wit of the script (V), and the total is multiplied by the amount someone falls over or suffers a physical injury (F).

"The difference in social status between the highest- and lowest-ranking characters (S) is added, and finally the total is divided by the success of any scheme or stratagem in the show (A). Each term in the formula is assigned a value up to a maximum of 10 to give an overall scientific score."

#121 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 03:48 PM:

I don't think there is a book called Callahan's Bar. Are you perhaps thinking of Callahan's Crosstime Saloon?

#122 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 03:53 PM:

As this is an open thread, I'd thought I'd ask a general question:

When, if ever, is it appropriate to use italics for emphasis in text?

Ex: The last time Alice ate chilled monkey brains, the prince had been pleased but it had turned her stomach. She was definitely not interested in doing that again.

I've read half a dozen different rules in different places and thought I'd ask for a few dozen more opinions, just to make sure I'm thoroughly confused.

#123 ::: jeffk ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 04:01 PM:

A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi


A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave

#124 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 04:10 PM:

More libraries:
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Lirael by Garth Nix
Beauty by Robin McKinley
and I can't believe no one has mentioned Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell...

The first is definitely SF; the others tend more toward fantasy.

#125 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 04:48 PM:

Dunno if this has been mentioned here, but the latest installation of Song Of Ice And Fire (the first half of the first draft of A Feast For Crows) has been sent to it's publishers.


#126 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:00 PM:

Early s-f information-science story: "Ms Fnd in a Lbry" by Hal Draper, from 17 x Infinity edited by Groff Conklin. A problem occurs after the entire Galactic Libary has been archived into a very small ( one cubic inch?) area of storage space.

Probably a more compelling later story: "Picnic on Paradise" by Joanna Russ. This describes a "Planetary Library" that contains indexed psychic holograph rods instead of books. (I think this predates the 3-D "talking book" library that eventually showed up on Star Trek.)

#127 ::: michelle db ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:01 PM:

Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep has ancient, alien, inadequately indexed archives of information and programming located in deep space. ISBN: 0812515285 for the paperback.

#128 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:02 PM:

Oops. "And Chaos Died" by Joanna Russ. Not "Picnic on Paradise."

#129 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:02 PM:

Greg Egan's Diaspora had a library of sorts, although it was virtual and highly interactive. I think he called it the Data Mines, or something like that?

#130 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:06 PM:

Ooh, thanks, Michelle! That reminds me of the library in Janet Kagan's Mirabile.

#131 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:18 PM:


"... an article or story, somewhere in the narratonoetic region that stretches from popular maths to science fiction, about the dire results of the exponential growth in scientific libraries."

was Kurd Lasswitz's story "The Universal Library", which appeared in Fantasia Mathematica, edited by Clifton Fadiman. This long-out-of-print gem was reissued a few years ago, along with its companion volume, The Mathematical Magpie.

#132 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:24 PM:

And the library in "A Rose for Ecclesiastes", and Piper's "Omnilingual"; we could list titles for a week and barely scratch the surface. Oddly, the Clute and Nicholls Encyclopedia of Science Fiction does not have an article on libraries (but does have one on major research collections!); the Clute and Grant Encyclopedia of Fantasy has a one-column article on the theme.

#133 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:31 PM:

One of my favorite SF libraries is a hallucination of sorts, in Alan Dean Foster's "Paths of the Perambulator from the Spellsinger series. His Humanx Commonwealth books also have several scenes set in "data archive" storage facilities. Nor Crystal Tears on the Thranx world, and a couple of the Flinx and Pip books as well.

I'm as astonished as S. Dawson that it took that long for Norrell's collection to appear.

#134 ::: Jonathan Vellum Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:38 PM:

The Battle of the Books [1710]
By Jonathan Swift
Edited by Jack Lynch

The text comes from A Tale of a Tub, to which is Added the Battle of the Books and the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit, ed. A. C. Guthkelch and D. Nichol Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1920).

"... They are known to the World under several Names: As, Disputes, Arguments, Rejoynders, Brief Considerations, Answers, Replies, Remarks, Reflections, Objections, Confutations. For a very few Days they are fixed up all in Publick Places, either by themselves or their *Representatives, for Passengers to gaze at: From whence the chiefest and largest are removed to certain Magazines, they call Libraries, there to remain in a Quarter purposely assign'd them, and thenceforth begin to be called, Books of Controversie."

"In these Books, is wonderfully instilled and preserved, the Spirit of each Warrier, while he is alive; and after his Death, his Soul transmigrates there, to inform them. This, at least, is the more common Opinion; But, I believe, it is with Libraries, as with other Cemeteries, where some Philosophers affirm, that a certain Spirit, which they call Brutum hominis, hovers over the Monument, till the Body is corrupted, and turns to Dust or to Worms, but then vanishes or dissolves: So, we may say, a restless Spirit haunts over every Book, till Dust or Worms have seized upon it; which to some, may happen in a few Days, but to others, later; And therefore, Books of Controversy, being of all others, haunted by the most disorderly Spirits, have always been confined in a separate Lodge from the rest; and for fear of a mutual violence against each other, it was thought Prudent by our Ancestors, to bind them to the Peace with strong Iron Chains. Of which Invention, the original Occasion was this: When the Works of Scotus first came out, they were carried to a certain great Library, and had Lodgings appointed them; But this Author was no sooner settled, than he went to visit his Master Aristotle, and there both concerted together to seize Plato by main Force, and turn him out from his antient Station among the Divines, where he had peaceably dwelt near Eight Hundred Years. The Attempt succeeded, and the two Usurpers have reigned ever since in his stead: But to maintain Quiet for the future, it was decreed, that all Polemicks of the larger Size, should be held fast with a Chain."

"By this Expedient, the publick Peace of Libraries, might certainly have been preserved, if a new Species of controversial Books had not arose of late Years, instinct with a most malignant Spirit, from the War above-mentioned, between the Learned, about the higher Summity of Parnassus."

"When these Books were first admitted into the Publick Libraries, I remember to have said upon Occasion, to several Persons concerned, how I was sure, they would create Broyls wherever they came, unless a World of Care were taken..."

#135 ::: Menolly ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:49 PM:

I was thinking The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul, having read Rudy Rucker's blog shortly before seeing the link to this thread. But that suffers from the surplus article problem.

(note to powers that be: something about one or more ads on this page was breaking display for me until I adblocked *.blogads. It was specific to this post; I could read the next one problem free. I assume it's not affecting everyone, though, so I don't know what the magic ingredient is.)

#136 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 05:49 PM:

KipW: "odore" "ophrastis" "erson"

I am *so* naming a character "Thomas O'Frastis" in some future work. No matter how much I have to pound my universe around it to fit.

#137 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 06:22 PM:

Silence in Solitude, by Melissa Scott, is another book basically set in a library.

#138 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 06:35 PM:

Pellegrina; there's a Librarian in _Snow Crash_, and I second the recommendation of _Mirabile_ - they have the library; they've damaged the catalog; they don't know what they know...

Also McKillip's _Alphabet of Thorn_, though that's fantasy. I can't remember if the library is mentioned in Bellamy's _Looking Backward_, but it's the sort of thing he liked.

...would googleprint/Search Inside and good metadata make this question easier to answer, or impossible to sift through? There's a meta-question...

#139 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 06:40 PM:

Pellegrina, Sean McMullen's Souls in the Great Machine is about librarians, although the library parts are soon overtaken by war (and bad plotting).

#140 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 07:38 PM:

Grenade instructions came to mind:
"pull, the pin, and run"

#141 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 07:38 PM:

ah, maybe you had to be there....

#142 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 07:48 PM:

John Dalmas has lots of material on science fiction's debt to librarians - MJ Engh may give a nod to librarians without hitting Mary Sue territory.

Jerry Pournelle's King David's Spaceship/A Spaceship for the King is book and library technology driven.

#143 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 07:59 PM:

pull, the pin, and run!
the grenade, you fool, times come!
never mind, you're done.

yes, that was a grenade lobbing haiku....

#144 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 08:14 PM:

Pellegrina - There's a library in Greg Bear's Eon that plays a fairly important role in the development of the story. It's electronic and unmanned, though.

#145 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 08:30 PM:

pull pin and throw hard
lest your parts flutter groundwards
like cherry blossoms

#146 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 08:37 PM:

or the Basho version:

Pull the pin and throw
far from the edge of the swamp
Lest you disturb frogs

#147 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 08:41 PM:

Pin falls to the ground
Warm silent summer evening
Blam! Grenade shatters the calm.

#148 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 08:43 PM:

Oops, bad last line. How 'bout:

Blam! rain of shrapnel.

#149 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 08:45 PM:

Basho's calm old pond.
My grenade falls into it.
Bang! Instant sushi!

#150 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 08:48 PM:

Sundiver, Startide Rising, and The Uplift War (by David Brin) have The Library (an electronic data repository) as a major source of information for all of the alien species. Of course, the humans think (rightly) that it's biased and heavily redacted. Usually filed as Science Fiction (in libraries that distinguish).

The Sword of Maiden's Tears, The Cloak of Night and Daggers, et sequelae (by Rosemary Edgehill) have conventional Earth libraries as important settings, in part because most of the major human characters are librarians. Usually filed as Fantasy.

#151 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 09:09 PM:

Pull pin and counteth
Antioch's holy grenade
tarries not 'til five.

#152 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 09:33 PM:

JVP--Great Swift quote--wonder if the same thing happens in the electronic Neverland of Google caches...

the overwhelming tendency to omit the brackets from The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff. Was it republished without the flourishes, or do people simply omit them far as I know, this story has always been published with the names in brackets as above. As for the text...

When this story first appeared as a 2-part serial in F&SF, there were many words throughout the story that were in brackets. The bracketed words represent words in an alien langauge that cannot be adequately translated, but are approximated by the bracketed term. This was obviously Sturgeon's intention. When the story was reprinted in Sturgeon's collection Beyond (Avon), however, all the brackets were replaced with parentheses. (It actually gets even more complicated, since there are parentheses that represent brackets within brackets, but I'll spare everyone...) When Tor reprinted the novella in its Tor Doubles series, we (that's the editorial "we"; I worked there then) used the Avon text as the setting copy, but (after consulting with PNH and TNH) I had Avon's parentheses returned to brackets with the F&SF text as reference for the typography only. There's more geeky detail, but that's the gist of it...

#153 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 11:40 PM:

More libraries:

Protector, Larry Niven. Earth is a colony that's been lost for 2.5 million years, and a Protector figures out its location from the library.

The Counterfeit Heinlein, Laurence M. Janifer. (Background: Robert Heinlein referred to "a story I will probably never write.") Hundreds of years from now, a copy of the "lost" novel appears, is displayed in a library, and is stolen. Our Hero must solve the mystery. (Bonus points for this one: it's a novel about a novel stored in a library.)

"The Last Question," a story by Asimov. This is on the outer fringe of your topic--it's closer to "the sum of all knowledge" than to "collected texts"--but it's worth reading.

Borges. I wish I could remember the title of this, but one sentence went "God is in one of the letters in one of the books in the eight thousand books in the library at Alexandria."

Happy reading.

#154 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2005, 11:59 PM:

Throw! the spoon flys off
and gobbles like a turkey.
time to suck dirt now.

hm. for those of you who don't know,
the spoon/handle on a grenade has a fairly
strong spring underneath it, and when you
give it a toss, the spring pushes it off
pretty fast and furious, so then you've
got this very unareodynamice thing
(handle/spoon) flying through the air,
and it makes a sound that is surprisingly
like a turkey call. I just couldn't figure
out how to explain that in 17 syllables.

It's just that without that little bit
of explanation, it just sounds weird.

Oh, it sounds like a turkey call,
and then the turkey goes BOOM!

#155 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 12:04 AM:

Gollum walks Mount Doom
"They're nasty little hobbits"
then he frags Frodo

I must say I think I've discovered a new literary style here. there seems to be an endless supply of grenade haikus to be written...

#156 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 12:11 AM:

Kip W: D'OH! I seem to have assumed an initial "the," in contravention of common sense. So much for *#&@ clevertude.

You're not the only one; as I look through the comments I'm struck by the number of entries assuming a little "the" that isn't there.

Andrew/PNH: indoor moopsball is played in the first asylum section, at the beginning of chapter 9 of TAD. I remembered because both of the editions I've seen credit it, on a separate leading page as if it were a dedication. (I can't believe I went down and dug that out; I should have crashed long ago. If you see an item tomorrow about somebody scaling the Needham antenna farm and screaming nonsense from the tops, that will be me.)

#157 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 12:20 AM:

"Richie, the Fonz, and Ralph"

Or, in the lost Happy Days episode by Sturgeon,

[Wichie], the [Fonz], and [Balf].

Ron Howard - Richie Cunningham
Donny Most - Ralph Malph
Henry Winkler - Arthur Herbert "Fonzie" Fonzarelli

Apparently, Sturgeon had creative differences with Ron Howard as to whether or not Apollo 11 would make it as a Science Fiction film, since it was, after all, factual.

#158 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 08:11 AM:

'The publishing industry operates primarily through the medium of lunch.'

So says the Guardian in How to make a book, which follows a comic novel entitled The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists from writing to arriving on bookshop shelves.

#159 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 08:49 AM:

The oddest thing about "Apollo 13" as a movie was that - over the course of my lifetime - the events depicted had moved from Science Fiction all the way over to Historical Costume Drama.

#160 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 10:53 AM:

The egg lands in the grass--
Whither the bird who laid it?
Oh. Grenade. (Kerblam.)

#161 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 12:00 PM:

Regarding "The Hole" in Particles: Never did "Get your own fun + free diary at Diaryland!" seem more like an awful non sequitur.

#162 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 12:04 PM:

The pin in his hand
Can't be farther from his mind.
All goes in one bang.

Wasn't it in Orson Scott Card's Wyrm that someone used a library as her brain ?

#163 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 01:02 PM:

Here is some quite fine Lovecraftiana: The Indoctrination by Matthew Cheney.

#164 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 01:47 PM:

Ooh -- indeed I see it is already linked as a Sidelight.

#165 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 02:06 PM:

I was reminded of this when someone mentioned in another thread here.

Periodic Haiku

#166 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 03:41 PM:

Re: Libraries in SF, what about the hidden sybil library of Joan D. Vinge's Snow Queen and Summer Queen?

I also quite liked the idea of the magic mirror in Del Rey's Day of the Giants, which the hero used to read library books and scientific papers over the shoulders of the patrons while he was trapped in Asgard.

#167 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 04:21 PM:

The World's Largest Christ. Part of the Varieties of Religious Art series; other entries are linked to this one.

#168 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 04:32 PM:

Slightly interesting in the context of this thread, I just got e-mail from a tech support co-worker whose primary language is Russian, that "Jeremy, you[r] request is compelled." I don't think he was using it to mean "driven" though.


#169 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 06:57 PM:

OG: All Things Considered had a story yesterday on selenium pollution (more EPA twistage); after the serious part, they quoted several of the haiku. The instrumental break afterwards was "Modern Major General"

#170 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 07:34 PM:

I'm sure this tech question was discussed recently, but I don't see geeky-details-about-the-merger post I thought it was on, so asking here. The new format doesn't like the browser on one of my systems; asssorted links (both NH's interesting-thing links, last-400-comments, ...) do not appear to change color after I visit them. Using IE6 on Windows, and probably a local problem since the same thing works on another system; suggestions to fix?

#171 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 08:31 PM:

Speaking of "tech" and geeks, I went today to Caltech's 111th Commencement, with the first time the speaker being a Caltech alumnus, Sandra Tsing Loh, (B.S.Physics & English Lit), humorist. Funniest speech I've heard in ages. Hope it's up on the web soon.

"Dare to disappoint your father. Rock on!"

Then the Glee Club sang the Hallalujah Chorus, but with spoof science lyrics, speaking of Science Songs.

#172 ::: Adrien ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2005, 08:35 PM:


Comics Continuum has a first look at Serenity #1 comic from Joss Whedon and Dark Horse. It's at the bottom of the page. They have five pages.


#173 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 02:11 AM:

Pellegrina, if you're fortunate enough to find a copy of Thomas Ligotti's Grimscribe (or the omnibus The Nightmare Factory), check out the story "The Library of Byzantium." I suspect there's a bit of call-and-response with Borges there, though I know not enough of Borges to tell for sure.

#174 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 03:59 AM:

Until Sandra Tsing Loh, whose father and brother also graduated Caltech in Physics, puts the whole snarky ironic clever and passionate commendement speech on the web (her delivery and timing cannot be captured in print), best I can find is the snippets embedded in:

Grads get the Loh down
Alumna, radio personality says 'dare to disappoint your father.'

#175 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 07:46 AM:

The Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness has a hilarious instructional drawing showing how to de-flea a cat. It culminates with vacuuming the cat!

#176 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 09:07 AM:

At the count of two
Everything is still and calm;
Will "three" ever arrive?

The really hard thing is trying to make it a haiku instead of just counting syllables. All I know is I tried.

I understand that 13 isn't a hard and fast requirement, either. Some are shorter.

#177 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 09:08 AM:

Did I say 13? I meant 17. Look! It's Michael Jackson and the Runaway Bride!

#178 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 11:04 AM:

There is more than you may want to know about cats at:

#179 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 11:23 AM:

Really, Kip? All I can see is the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

#180 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 11:58 AM:

Bring on the Mud
by Christopher Hitchens

An essay on why Bipartisanship is a Crock.

Michael Flanders & Donald Swann, on the basking habits of the hippopotamus:

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood!

So follow me, follow—down to the hollow

And there let us wallow

In glorious mud!

#181 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 12:13 PM:

Kip, I'm reasonably certain that 17 is a hard-and-fast requirement in Japanese. When you translate Japanese ones into English they can be shorter. In a language with a fixed small number of possible syllables, 17 syllables just doesn't carry that much information.

I believe a proper haiku is also supposed to mention a season or time of day as well. I remember one that ended "Happy hour at Splash" that I thought was delightful...a purist might not agree that "happy hour" is a time of day, but all New Yorkers know it is!

#182 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 12:45 PM:

The old pond.
A critic jumps in.
[Oops!] The sound of falling short.

From: "Reviving the Love of Poetry" by Jerry Griswold, L.A. Times, 11 June 2005, p.E6, review of "Break, Blow, Burn" edited by Camille Paglia, Pantheon, 2005. Hammers her mis-reading of Gary Snyder's "Old Pond," in which Ms. Paglia chatters about Kafka and Byron in wrestling with "What are we to make of the title of Gary Snyder's 'Old Pond?'" without recognizing the obvious reference (Snyder studied Zen) Basho's verse, probably the most famous of all Japanese poems.

#183 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 02:08 PM:

Sandra Tsing Lo's Commencement Speech to the Caltech
Class of 2005
"PS: The Last Caltech Lesson"

Congratulations Caltech, class of 2005! Welcome
friends and family and no, you didn't hear wrong... I am indeed your commencement speaker.

Yes, we are at Caltech, the top science school in the country -- No matter what MIT may pathetically try to claim-- Speaking of which, I thought we were promised a prank by MIT. A commencement prank. What's the matter... Too scared, Girlymen? I'm sorry-- What with our Governor, "Girlymen" is what we say in
California-- It's a kind of Austrio-Hollywood term of endearment-a love tap, if you will....

Well [Feynman] sees we're in a glaze, and so, to perk things up, in describing electromagnetic induction, where a magnetic coil pulls a needle in, out, in, out. . . He suddenly stops, in amazement, and erupts comedically, in his thick Bronx [No Sandra, BROOKLYN!] accent: "Look at that! It's little like?.

And then--to our shock--he utters a non-FCC approved word for which, on public radio last year, I got fired-

So I won't say it again but you may figure it out if you consider that Feynman's own commencement speech right here. . . in '74 began with Feynman's famous riff on pseudoscience which features. . . a naked woman getting a massage at Esalen. And he doesn't mean Madame Curie.

So under the bas-relief of Feynman as God, I suggest. . . Maybe a little electromagnetic coil. . . Flanked by a bottle of champagne, two wine glasses and. . . maybe some bongos....

#184 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 03:24 PM:

Cambridge is getting moving and singing benches.

#185 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 03:43 PM:

A good Haiku is hard to come by. First because, if you want to stay true to form, there's a whole list of conventional "season words" and other pre-made references that have to be inserted, according to certain rules, the main one being respect of realism, as established by litterary conventions.

Then, and that's the trickiest part of it, a good haiku has to be a completely non-symbolic item. To a well crafted haiku, any attempt at commentary will end up turning into paraphrase.

The one I made earlier in the thread is bad in that regard. Trying too hard to be clever. And poorly, at that.

Anyway, I've kept thinking about this: the commentary section of a blog might be a good place to practice haikai/renga, à la Bashô.

#186 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 04:47 PM:

Per our previous thread on Noir, and why it is fruitless to define Science Fiction, I am utterly convinced that "The Twisted Thing" by Mickey Spillane is utterly Science Fiction, although that is not clear to the mundane reader until the final chapter. I shall avoid a spoiler.

Mickey Spillane [1918-] pseudonym of Frank Morrison Spillane, "American thriller writer, master of 'hard boiled' style peppered with sex and sadism. Spillane is best-known for his private detective Mike Hammer, who appeared in his first published book I, THE JURY (1947). The hardback edition did not sell well, but the paperback became a world-wide phenomenon. In the character of Hammer, the most chauvinist avenger among classical private eyes, Spillane created a dark counterpart to the knightly Philip Marlowe...."

"The biggest part of the joke is the punch line, so the biggest part of a book should be the punch line, the ending. People don't read a book to get to the middle, they read a book to get to the end and hope that the ending justifies all the time they spent reading it. So what I do is, I get my ending and, knowing what my ending is going to be, then I write to the end and have the fun of knowing where I'm going but not how I'm going to get there." (Spillane in Speaking of Murder, ed. by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, 1998)

"Mickey Spillane was born in Brooklyn, New York, as the son of a bartender. In his youth he read such writers as Alexandre Dumas and Anthony Hope, and was also fascinated by comic books. He attended briefly Fort Hays State College in Kansas, but dropped out, moved back to New York, and began his writing career in the mid-1930s. Spillane's first stories were published mostly in comic books and pulp magazines. He developed Mike Danger, a private detective, and wrote among others for Captain America, Captain Marvel, and The Human Torch. During WW II Spillane worked as a flying instructor for the U.S. Army Air Force [sic]...."

"I, the Jury was written in only nine days, but it became such success that Spillane quickly produced six more Hammer novels, five of them published between 1950 and 1952. THE LONG WAIT (1951) sold 3 million copies in a single week in 1952. 'Crime novels are a good way to make money,' Spillane once stated. The sixth, THE TWISTED THING, did not appear until 1966."

excerpts from Mickey Spillane

Again, avoiding a spolier, the final chapter of The Twisted Thing proves that the entire plot could not imaginably be possible without a very specific, and rather horrifying, fictional technology and its direct effect on one person, and indirectly on a whole community. That this is Science Fiction does NOT depend on the "mad professor" type character at the start, or the Frankenstein paradigm, but on that final chaper, and how it forces one to re-revaluate the novel retroactively. I think it would make a great movie, but only if directed by someone who knows BOTH genres.

Anyone else familiar with the book in question, who wants to opine in support or opposition to my thesis?

#187 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2005, 10:28 PM:

"Using IE6 on Windows, and probably a local problem since the same thing works on another system; suggestions to fix?"

First, empty your cache, for IE6 is lame and stupid, and will insist on loading old un-updated CSS stylesheets until you stick a firecracker up its ass.

#188 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 01:00 AM:

(arriving late at the parlor game):

The Steel, The Mist, and the Blazing Sun

- - - - -

Libraries in sf: In one of Dean Koontz's very early sf novels (one of the ones he won't allow to be reprinted), STAR QUEST perhaps, one of the characters is a disembodied brain operating a travelling spaceship/library. It's been over thirty years since I read it, but I think the ship was supposed to contain real paper-and-ink books.

Yep. "Bookmobiles-s-s-s-s. In-n-n-n-n. Spa-a-a-a-a-ce!"

#189 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 01:06 AM:

Bruce Arthurs: "Bookmobiles-s-s-s-s. In-n-n-n-n. Spa-a-a-a-a-ce!"

And just think, between stops you could evacuate the stacks to keep all that acid-laden paper from oxidizing.

#190 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 01:26 AM:

"In his youth, (Spillane) was captivated by comic books." Never mind that the first comic books came out (IIRC) circa 1936, when he was 18, and the first Superman comic came out in 1939, when he was 21.

I guess both "youth" and "comic books" are rather flexible terms here....

#191 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 02:54 AM:

Tom Whitmore:

I'm guessing that the reviewer meant "comic strips." My point is that Science Fiction is a "big tent" which includes people not normally taken as Science Fiction authors, including those who kick and scream that they are not Science Fiction authors. I've been focussed on the Science Fiction / Westerns intersection and interaction, and so it was a nice surprise to read another Spillane novel that is clearly SF (he had an antigravity maguffin at the end of another). But thanks for keeping us honest on matters chronological. Extra credit to name the other Spillane to which I refer, or to say more about the Science Fiction that he says he's planning.

#192 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 02:05 PM:

Reading Into Britain's Exclusive Book Awards
One rejects men; another ignores all Americans. There is plenty of discussion about who is left out of the contests -- and why.

By Vanora Bennett,
Special to The Los Angeles Times

"LONDON — For book lovers here, June can be the cruelest month. The carefree summer lies ahead, with its pretty British regional book festivals, partying, lecturing and autographing. But first, the literary pecking order must be established. Just one question is on all lips at book parties: Who will win the prizes?"

"Three literary awards worth a total of $220,000 are presented in June. The Orange and the Samuel Johnson prizes each are worth $55,000, while the new Man Booker International Prize, to be awarded once every two years, is worth $110,000 — life-changing sums for people scribbling in garrets. And even some of the top losers are winners: Being short-listed can substantially increase sales."

"There's just one catch. London's biggest book awards (these three, plus the British Man Booker Prize of $90,000 in October and the Whitbread prize of $55,000 in January) appear designed to exclude as much as to enthuse."

"Until the creation of a parallel international prize this year, the Man Booker Prize in practice rewarded all English-language fiction that was not American. And the Orange Prize is for all novelists — as long as they are not men...."

#193 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 02:23 PM:

Softly it explodes
Infernokrusher haiku
All seasons are one

#194 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 02:35 PM:

From the above-linked article:

"The Orange Prize is a blot on Britain's literary landscape," fumed one critic, Simon Jenkins, of the London Times.

I find it hard to put much faith in the writing of anyone who gets the name of such a well-known newspaper as The Times wrong.

Other prizes have their quirks. The Samuel Johnson is only for nonfiction.

Oh, dear. It's a hard life when you're excluded from a prize for something totally different from what you do...

The rules of the Whitbread are too complicated for ordinary mortals. (Winners in each of five categories — poetry, novel, first novel, biography and children's writing — face off for the big prize)

Doesn't sound that hard to me. Honestly, I don't see why anyone's complaining. If the sponsors of these prizes want to restrict them to certain people, what's wrong with that? It's their money that's being awarded.

#195 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 04:01 PM:

JVP--I haven't read The Twisted Thing, but (SPOILER ALERT) I can tell you that Spillane's most recent novel. Something Down There, seems to be sf of sorts until the ending explains everything.

#196 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2005, 06:48 PM:

Having had "Oh, The Wind And Rain" stuck in my head all week thanks to this thread, and being annoyed that I couldn't find an mp3 to link to earlier, I decided to record my own version, thus transferring my earworm to others. I offer it here for what it's worth.

#197 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 10:09 AM:

Today's Morning Edition had a completely uncritical report on self-publishing. Mostly it seemed to be about those goofy authors giving away cookies and T-shirts to move their vanity press books. The only traditional publisher they spoke to made some good points but came off sounding whiny. Not a word about the business practices of many self-publishing houses.

#198 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 10:24 AM:

In Love with Jane
By Diane Johnson

New York Review of Books
Volume 52, Number 11 · June 23, 2005

"In A Fine Brush on Ivory, his 'appreciation' of Jane Austen, Richard Jenkyns remarks that in Austen scholarship there are "pressures which cause ordinary critical circumspection to break down,' and principal among them is 'the peculiar affection in which the person of Jane Austen is held by many readers." This affection is not altogether explained by admiration for her genius, nor is it entirely a symptom of nostalgia for her orderly, decorous, vanished world (though there is a Web site, 'your haven in a world programmed to misunderstand obsession with things Austen'). What does explain this 'peculiar affection' for Jane Austen?..."

Now, thanks to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, we know how Jane Austen would have written High Fantasy.

But what sort of Science Fiction, or Noir Detective fiction could she have written, if so inclined?

#199 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 10:26 AM:

That's an interesting excerpt from a self-published book there. I'm looking at the description of the dog, at the moment. How much information can you put in without there actually being enough to visualise what the creature looks like? Perhaps telling us the breed would be better than all of those other, probably irrelevant, details?

The cover looks well produced though. I doubt she got that on a $500 package.

#200 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 12:27 PM:

If you got here from the link: I'm just shutting down the "Which SF writer?" thread. I figure there's a chance they'll check that one and believe I've shut down the rest. If not, no harm done.

#201 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 02:47 PM:

TNH: If you got here from the link...

(picks self up, looks around, blinks)
Boy, that felt like falling through the rabbit hole. Where am I?

#202 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 03:55 PM:

On libraries in SF:

Roger MacBride Allen's Solace trilogy has some great library scenes. For safekeeping, the solar library keeps most of its physical materials in the stacks, a giant space habitat, filled with nitrogen and kept at a low temperature, in orbit around Neptune.

If I recall correctly, There and Back Again, by Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy, has a library in it.

#203 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 03:58 PM:

Oh yeah, what I came here to say was check out the sunset.


#204 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 04:15 PM:

Oh yeah, what I came here to say was check out the sunset.

Dang. I'll never get to go on a sunset excursion to Mars. *sigh*

Cool photo, though.

#205 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 04:29 PM:

I have a rather specific book recommendation request. Apologies for people who are sick of them.

I'm looking for books in a category I would call AU historical fantasy. In other words, books set in historical places, which may be significantly and consciously different from the real historical places, with "fantastic" elements such as magic that really works. My two primary examples of this are Philip Pullman's Oxford in the His Dark Materials books and Susanna Clarke's Regency England. Surely there are other people doing this sort of thing? Who are they? Books in which seemingly-historical places are thinly disguised with fantatic names are okay, but not precisely what I'm after.

Many thanks in advance.

#206 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 04:31 PM:

Er, I mean apologies to. I am not authorized to apologize for said people.

#207 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 04:41 PM:

Tim: that's a nice version of "Wind and Rain." I can't tell, listening to it, whether the recorder and bass are real or keyboards. (The recorder sounds real to me, with the perception of occasional breath stops.)

My favorite recorded version of this is the Garcia Grisman one, 10 seconds of which are available, here. (This was a standard part of their repertoire -- obscenely cheerful, with lots of Deadhead twirlers in the aisles at every performance.)

Adam Stemple and Todd Menton do a good version, too. Leadheads in the gallery will probably know whether that one's recorded anywhere.

#208 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 04:53 PM:

S. Dawson -- some of Valerio Massimo Manfredi's historical fiction has a slight fantasy edge to it; see for instance Spartan, in which the main character has a prophetic dream and one woman he meets makes a further prophecy that is too accurate to be purely coincidental. However, these features of the story are minor and the plot doesn't really depend on them.

#209 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 06:06 PM:

S. Dawson: Judith Tarr has written a number of those. I don't know if Guy Gavriel Kay's books would fit your criteria or not; they're very definitely not set in our world, but they jump off from recognizable bits of our history.

--Mary Aileen

#210 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 06:13 PM:

S. Dawson, Vonda McIntyre's The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars would fit. Also, Pat Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's "Chocolate" books.

#211 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 06:45 PM:

S. Dawson, many of Joan Aiken's books (YA and otherwise) are set in an AU Britain. There are similarities between her universe's atmosphere and the atmosphere in HDM, IIRC.

#212 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 07:04 PM:

S. Dawson: Wrede solo did Mairelon the Magician and Magician's Ward, ~Regency fantasies. Stevermer solo did three works set in late-19th-c Europe; the College of Magics starts in a renamed Mont St. Michel and ends up among the principalities of 19th-c romance. (Graustark ought to be there; not sure it is.) Ian MacLeod's The Light Ages has England based on mined (solid) mana; feel is late-19th c but could easily be later -- there's a suggestion that non-magic tech developed more slowly.

I suspect Kaye wouldn't fit; his works start by renaming everything but keep all the historical details in place. And I'm not sure there's any actual fantasy in them, except as we take in stories that are non-fantastic but mundanely unfashionable and colorfully told (cf Randall, Winter's King(?)) just as SF includes alternate history even without a mechanism to travel to it.

#213 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 08:37 PM:

S. Dawson: Avram Davidson's "Triune Monarchy" (or, if you prefer, "Doctor Eszterhazy") stories can be closely mapped to Central Europe. There's more folklore than magic, but supernatural occurences do happen. There also seems to have been an actual Prester John's Kingdom, though we do not see it. (I'm assuming you aren't including Fabulous Places, that were believed in but didn't exist.)

And I wrote one, The Dragon Waiting.

#214 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 09:02 PM:

A most very exceeding fine book The Dragon Waiting is, too. (I pressed it on my English profs to the point of giving them copies, back in the day.)

Glen Cook's latest -- The Tyranny of the Night -- is perhaps an edge case, in that I don't know how many people would recognize the history he's using. (Dread Empire does the Albigensian Crusade, with a side of extra-creepy.)

#215 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 09:09 PM:

Lenny: thanks! Both the bass and the (tenor) recorder are real, although I ran the latter through a guitar amp simulator with the distortion turned all the way up.

I've never heard the Garcia/Grisman version, but that snippet sounds good. And I thought I was a Leadhead, but I must be out of date, because I didn't even know Stemple and Menton had done anything together.

#216 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 09:20 PM:

speaking again of cat-vacuuming, check out Stuff on my cat.

#217 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 10:04 PM:

Other historicals with fantasy elements: Peter Dickinson's Tulku and The Blue Hawk; Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon books; Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell; Poul and Karen Anderson's Roma Mater series; possibly any of Quinn Yarbro's Comte de Saint Germaine vampire novels, if the mere presence of a vampire is fantasy enough for you in a straight historical setting; Ian MacLeod's The Light Ages. I could probably come up with another dozen, but the margin of this comment thread is not quite large enough to contain them.

#218 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2005, 10:21 PM:

Re libraries: There's a quotation from the first Mary's Place book by Spider Robinson to the effect, "Librarians are the secret masters of the universe. They control access to information. Never piss one off."


#219 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 12:17 AM:

James Branch Cabell's Beyond Life is set entirely in a private library, with a few rather special collections:

--Books by fictional authors ("That section of the room is devoted to the books of the gifted writers of Bookland. You will observe it is extensive; for the wonderful literary genius is by long odds the most common character in fiction.")

--Unwritten books ("masterpieces that were planned and never carried through.... The main treasure of my library is that unbound collection of the Unwritten Plays of Christopher Marlowe.")

--Books as the authors meant them to be ("Oh, that is the 1599 version of Troilus and Cressida--the only edition in which the play is anything like comprehensible...")

#220 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 12:45 AM:
I suspect Kaye wouldn't fit; his works start by renaming everything but keep all the historical details in place. And I'm not sure there's any actual fantasy in them, except as we take in stories that are non-fantastic but mundanely unfashionable and colorfully told (cf Randall, Winter's King(?)) just as SF includes alternate history even without a mechanism to travel to it.

Tigana has significant fantasy content (powerful magic). A Song for Arbonne has much less, but some, and The Sarantine Mosaic a bit more than Arbonne. The Lions of Al-Rassan has almost none, and The Last Light of the Sun a moderate amount. However, as noted these are not set in our world, but in close historical analogues.

As for actual alternate history with fantasy... I can't think of much that hasn't been mentioned except Dave Duncan's "Demon" books (The Demon Sword/Knight/Rider), published under the name "Ken Hood." However, as the series was never finished it makes for somewhat unsatisfying reading, given the number of major narrative threads left unresolved.

There's also Lois McMaster Bujold's The Spirit Ring - one of her lesser novels, but good fun nonetheless. There is not a lot of historical background given, but it clearly diverges from our timeline.

#221 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 12:50 AM:

If more recent history is allowed, Tim Powers' Declare posits a fantasy underpinning to the Cold War.

Mary Stewart's Arthur series also comes to mind.

#222 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 01:27 AM:

Please to distinguish Marvin Kaye from Guy Gavriel Kay....

#223 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 05:14 AM:

Besides the Roma Mater series (available in a single volume under the title The King Of Ys), Poul also has Thee Hearts and Three Lions (and sequel-ish A Midsummer Tempest), The Broken Sword, and Operation Chaos and Operation Luna. The mention of the latter is in no wise a recommendation, mind.

#224 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 06:51 AM:

I am looking for a reference to something* in the older threads, and ran across a link to a review at the London Review of Books website, which led me to another one in the same issue that I thought the more politically-oriented persons might find interesting in the "framing" debate & related ones.
Tax Breaks for Rich Murderers
David Runciman: Review of Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth by Michael Graetz and Ian Shapiro

"Death by a Thousand Cuts... tells the story of the campaign to repeal the estate tax (what we [in the UK] would call inheritance tax [and Aussies call death duties]) in the United States, which culminated in the inclusion of the measure in George Bush's massive tax-cutting legislation of 2001. Don't let that put you off. This is one of the most interesting books about politics, and power, and the way the world is going, that you are ever likely to read.
What makes it so fascinating is that it is a mystery story. The mystery is this: how did the repeal of a tax that applies only to the richest 2 per cent of American families become a cause so popular and so powerful that it steamrollered all the opposition placed in its way?"
[*The story idea where two enemies are thrown together, have to co-operate and learn to respect each other.]

#225 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 08:38 AM:

S. Dawson,

I second (or theird?) the recommendation of Guy Gavriel Kay (I'm re-reading 'Tigana' right now.)

I also like Sean Russell ('The Initiate Brother' and 'Gatherer of Clouds' are his first books I believe, and I just finished his latest, The Swans War series and loved it). I just finished Lian Hearn 'Tales of the Otori' which I quite liked.

Besides the Avalon books, Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote 'The Firebrand' (Troy) and 'The Fall of Atlantis' which I think fall into that category.

Also: Morgan Llewellen, Ellen Kushner, Steven Brust & Megan Lindholm's 'Freedom & Necessity', Neil Gaiman's 'Stardust', Garth Nix's 'Sabriel', Pat O'Shea's 'The Hounds of the Mórrigan'.

#226 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 10:57 AM:

Publicitity (and legal action, finally) against a topic that's been discussed here before.
A Guardian Story on FLDS

#227 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 12:01 PM:

I don't know if anyone would be interested, but since this is an open thread and the topic has come up on Making Light before, here is a link to more goings-on with polygamy and the situation in Colorado City:

#228 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Almost everything Tim Powers has written has been secret magical backstory behind real historical events. He's probably the best source for this kind of thing.

Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon blends fantasy elements into the famous pair's voyage across colonial America, but many people find Pynchon a difficult read.

#229 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 12:46 PM:

That's even been reported, in less detail, in the Sydney Morning Herald, headlined Sect expels 1000 boys so men get more wives. Their source is given as The Guardian, and it does look cut down from that story.

#230 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 01:54 PM:

This I find just bizarre: one of the "lost boys" profiled in the LA Times article says, "I was really into the religion. I would have been the first to drink the poison Kool-Aid."

#231 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 02:16 PM:

Wow, that kid Gideon made me cry. His REAL mother, the one who adopted him, deserves all his gratitude, and gets it.

Note to self: send contribution to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I still think we need Project Pied Piper to spirit away all the children in their communities, but there's no way to do that without doing additional harm to them.

#232 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 02:36 PM:

helo crashed in NYC's East River.

The article then mentions that the passengers were standing on the helo's PONTOONS when police rescue picked them up.

For news copyeditors out there, it isn't a crash if you can walk away from it. It definitely isn't a crash if you're floating when it's over. Now, a chopper that goes underwater, now THAT is a crash...

Sorry, just a pet peeve....

#233 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 02:36 PM:

That "Lost Boys" article reaffirms my mistrust in those who claim to have a monopoly on "truth". Wildly exclusionary doctrines always seem to lead to wildly exploitative actions no matter how benign they seem at the start.

The only solution, of course, is to abduct all these prophets and convert them to the One True Way of Pluralism, by suasion or the sword.

Oh dear...

#234 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 02:55 PM:

It definitely isn't a crash if you're floating when it's over.

Um, it is if you're floating upside down at the end. (Pictures are worth a thousand words after all. Who'd'a thunk?)

#235 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 03:10 PM:

ah, merely a flesh wound...

#236 ::: Pamela ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 04:02 PM:

Stevermer's College of Magics fits this thread in two ways - it's AU historical, and the Tom O'Bedlam song comes up. How's that for a tied together open thread?

(Now, if only her next book were out in paperback...)

#237 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2005, 05:32 PM:

Faustus, M.D. at The Search for Love in Manhattan talks about his history with the Necronomicon.

#238 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 12:12 AM:

YEOW! The emergency alert system was just activated out here. There's a tsunami warning out for the Oregon coast.

#239 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 12:34 AM:

Hmmm - according to the TV Nooz, the warning has been cancelled. Still, lookit that big blue square out there in the ocean.

I live ~30 feet uphill from Salmon Bay in Seattle, and I suspect that the Ballard Locks would slow things down (plus there's lots more hill behind my building) so I suspect I'd be OK in a tsunami, but still...

#240 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 12:36 AM:

Oh, and back to the top of the thread, an evil muse visited and presented me with:

Santorum, the dog and wedded bliss.

#241 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 02:09 AM:

Re the polygamy & related issues story: A local version of leader's religio-sexual scandal, somewhat similar has just got into the news again, after simmering along off & on for quite a while.
Little Pebble in court -- "He said he was the New Abraham, in direct communication with the Virgin Mary. His mission was to bring a new race onto the Earth, the children conceived through his "mystical marriages" with 84 designated princesses and queens."
There does seem to be a consistent theme (meme?) where the leader of a religious group will claim special privileges, especially having multiple partners, sometimes initiating all the young girls, or producing many offspring. It's very much what I call baboon behaviour; classic animal drives, mediated through religous forms of control.
Sometimes the leader will bind the other males by divvying up the females among them, forming a heirarchy with increased sexual & other privileges. Other times the leader promotes abstinence for the lower orders. It just recurs so many times.

PS: the individual comments have apparently lost their links. Is this part of the War on Comment Spam?

    Sister Stiletto of Subtle Suasion

#242 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 06:29 AM:

I heard the tsunami warning on the local Emergency Broadcasting System (which makes 3 times I've heard the EBS actually used in the last year, after never hearing it used at all before that; the first was the only useful one). The warning was a bit of an over-reaction -- I mean, we're only talking about a Richter 7 quake, and a slip-strike (mostly horizontal motion, unlikely to cause tsunami) one at that. Still, I'd rather have the warning than not.

#244 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 02:13 PM:

Department of Hey, Look Over There!

Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-California) is having a bit of trouble explaining how it is that a defense contractor with business before his committee bought a house from Cunningham for $700,000 over market value and was promptly rewarded with contracts.

So how is Duke Cunningham responding to this?

He's launched an all-out drive to support the flag-burning amendment!

#245 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 02:25 PM:


Thanks for the link. Good stuff.


#246 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 05:39 PM:

I just read the sidebar link about the kidnapped Dalek and have a question:

What the heck is a "Glastonbury Tor"?

Is it a thing or a place?

I think the article said it was found "on" GT, but I'm not sure if that's a British-ism for "in" a certain location, or if a GT is some sort of thing, and the Dalek was actually on top of it.

#247 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 05:44 PM:

The Glastonbury Tor is a hill in Glastonbury. "'Tor' is a local word of Celtic origin meaning 'conical hill'," to quote the wikipedia article.

#248 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 05:47 PM:

Thanks, cd.

#249 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 06:02 PM:

Those singing benches and trash bins have been removed from Cambridge because they kept on being intimate with the bike racks and each other.

#250 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 06:10 PM:

Larry Brennan & Tom Whitmore:

My wife and I were in Santa Maria when the Michael Jackson verdicts were announced. We were on the beach at Morro Bay, felt the quake (I thought it was a collision of vehicles in a trailer park at first), and were evacuated to high ground, right after the tsunami warning, by John Varley. We saw a car crash on the 101 heading south (idiot driftsed off the freeway's high speed lane into ditch, overcorrect getting back on freeway, pulled a 720 or so, hit a produce truck). Our coffee (all we ordered) never arrived at Sambo's in Santa Barbara, so we left in a huff after 2 tables seated after us got their full breakfasts. Our tire blew out a hundred feet before the Arroyo exit from the 210 approaching Pasadena. Slightly more exciting 1/2 week vacation than planned, but could have been far more exciting. In some alternate history, the rioting fans when Michael Jackson was convicted, the tsunami killing folks all along the West Coast, the car crash or flat on freeway leading to fatalities. So we'll accept excitement without death anytime. Will repond to other threads after I've caught up.

#251 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 07:11 PM:

JVP - How about:
Rioting Jacko Fans All Wet
Tsunami Clears Courthouse After Verdict
Johnnie Cochrane Airlifts Star To Safety

From an alternate timeline near you!

#252 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 08:43 PM:

Larry Brennan:

Dr. Chistine M. Carmichael (a.k.a. Mrs. Jonathan Vos Post): LOL!

[plus she strongly recommends the new John Varley novel, only available in hardback?, MAMMOTH. I similarly recommend the (paperback available) RED THUNDER.

#253 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 11:00 PM:

Nice photo of me, John Varley, and my wife at Morro Bay, with a "Warning: Dangerous Surf.." sign, before the tsunami alert.

More nice photos by Lee, unrlated to me, with cute quotation: "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."
- Dorothea Lange

Note also that this Official Varley home page links to recipes, movie reviews, and other delights.

#254 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 11:32 PM:

Glastonbury Tor is the legendary site of Arthur's castle and court. simple, yet mythical answer.

#255 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2005, 11:53 PM:
Glastonbury Tor is the legendary site of Arthur's castle and court.

If you are using legend as in "medieval," no, it's not. Glastonbury Tor may be thus described in a modern Arthurian text, though I can't think of one, but it is not the site of Arthur's court or castle in any medieval text I can think of.

Glastonbury is the earliest specified place for the "abduction" of Guinivere, it's supposed to be the site of Arthur's final resting place, and it's got various connections to grail myth (particularly to the Joseph of Arimathea branch, and the Glastonbury Thorn), and it's a popular hermitage for varous knights, including Lancelot. In 1190 the then abbott is said to have discovered Arthur's grave, including an inscribed cross, with "Arturius" on it.

#256 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 12:04 AM:

Ha! I keep wanting to read Glastonbury Tor as some far-flung outpust of the Berlin subway.

Näxte Halt, Glastonbury Tor. Ausstieg Links!

(Tor = City Gate, now where many junctions, and therefore subway stations can be found.)

#257 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 01:20 AM:

I kept wanting to read Glastonbury Tor as a familiar publisher's new Religious Studies imprint

#258 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 02:01 AM:

The aged knight had many scars and wounds. But Glastonbury Tor him a new one.

#259 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 05:57 AM:

In our 3-week tour of the UK, we only had about 1 or 2 hours for Glastonbury, and were dropped off in the middle of the town, not far from the ruined Abbey. I have read a few Marion Zimmer Bradley's, so it was mandatory that if we stopped there, we at least get close to the Tor.

It was a long, hard, walk there and back again, but we actually managed to scale it to look over the old lakelands, and stood near where the abbot was hanged because he disagreed with Henry VIII, plus we were able to draw some water from one of the springs, to go with the bottle I also brought back from Lourdes.

#260 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 06:46 AM:

Well, it's about time.

The Sci-Fi channel is picking up Firefly.

#261 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 10:03 AM:

Re: Firefly: Don't get too excited...they're re-airing the original episodes, not making new ones.

#262 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 10:07 AM:

...Yes, but it at least opens the door for new episodes...

#263 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 10:20 AM:

People who a) Live in Atlanta and b) want to see a preview screening of Serenity can win tickets here:

#264 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 10:28 AM:

Does anyone here know if Sci Fi is airing them in the 'correct' order, or the original airing order?

--Mary Aileen

#265 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 11:02 AM:

They will be airing them in the correct order - praise jebus - because it is in Universal's (SciFi parent co) best interest to actually do a good job and gain new fans before the release of Serenity. Whatever the reason, Huzzah!

Is anyone else finding the "Choose Your Own Adventure" particle addicting? I added a few choices yesterday; today I'm going to figure out which existing choices to link back to. While it is a lot of fun to go through and "choose" a great story, it is even more fun to randomly punch in a number and see what comes up. I wonder if that bit about being surrounded by Welshmen and encountering a sheep is any less of a non-sequitor within a story path?

#266 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 02:10 PM:

When they originally showed them in the UK, Sci Fi did a good job of showing the complete series in the right order, and did some pretty good promotion for it too. I suspect they'll do it justice now they've got it over there too. :)

#267 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 02:15 PM:

...Yes, but it at least opens the door for new episodes...

My understanding is that this is legally impossible, as Fox have an exclusive contract for first showings (at least in the US -- here in the UK Sci Fi were the first to show Firefly, so I don't know where that stands) and are refusing to have anything to do with the show.

#268 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 02:21 PM:

Yeah, Fox owns the TV rights, Universal owns the Feature rights. Fox doesn't look to be offering the sale of those TV rights, but has no intention of making the TV show.

Frustrating, but reminds me of those "permanently out of stock" books we'd try to order when I worked at the bookstore. Not out of print, but not being printed!

#269 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 05:20 PM:

Just had a medium earthquake. Have put on shoes, opened front door, in case it was a foreshock and there might be broken glass.

5.3 2005/06/16 13:53:25 34.058N 117.007W 12.5 4 km ( 2 mi) NE of Yucaipa, CA [San Bernardino County]

#270 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 05:28 PM:


That's the third one in 4 days - when do we start breaking apart from the rest of the country and sliding into the ocean?


I take it you've reported it to the USGS -

Also, does anyone know the efficacy of huddling under a "desk" during a quake? That's what our office building earthquake propaganda instructs us to do. I can understand if you're a manager with a proper desk, but most of us are in these cubicles that have a sort of countertop along 3 sides. Doesn't seem like it would stand up to strong shaking, and I might get a computer monitor crashing down on my head in the bargain.

#271 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 05:39 PM:

Yeah, the structural integrity of cubitechture is doubtful. Big heavy slabs of counter top hanging on relatively puny lugs.

I'm close enough to a door that I could run outside. I just hope I'm never surprised by a 'quake when I'm in the server lab, which is full of racks of big heavy video server modules, switches precariously sitting on rack-tops, overhead cable runs, and a great huge air conditioning system you can just tell is living for the day it can take out us carbon units.

#272 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 06:07 PM:

Luckily the computers in this department are all your garden variety Dell somethingerother. I don't think they have it in them to plot.

I'm on the 7th floor (of a 30-something floor building) so running out the door isn't an option. I am concerned about what *is* an option, as I really don't think these cubes are what they had in mind when they suggested getting under desks. The floor wardens look at me like I've gone chartreuse when I ask for options.

All in all, I prefer to be at home, which is only 2 stories. Sunday morning, when I realized it was a quake, and not a large animal running under the sofa (no, we don't have a large animal. I'm not sure when I'll start experiencing earthquakes as actual quakes, and not some big guy jumping on the floor above me or whatever) I only had the presence of mind to make sure I wasn't near the bookcase. I should probably review my Earthquake Preparedness stuff.

#273 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 09:02 PM:

Appropos of nothing . . .

For the authors in the crowd (probably everyone here but me) here is pathologist Ed Uthmann's Autopsy Screenwriter's Guide. It has, in addition to his comments on The Brain Cutting (good for the Food Channel, perhaps) this note:

There has been a general belief that some dieners [morgue atttendants] also take payment under the table for notifying funeral homes of deaths in the hospital (so that the funeral home can send an agent out to approach the family), but I am not aware of any cases where this allegation was proved. From my own experiences, I know that in some cities the funeral home business is extraordinarily competitive, and I am aware of one case where agents of two funeral homes got into a physical altercation in the morgue over the disposition of a body that each claimed.

Hmm. I haven't seen that on CSI, at least not yet. I wouldn't know about Six Feet Under. Interesting site overall, if you like this sort of thing.

#274 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2005, 09:48 PM:

Bultitude for the Multitude at Glastonbury Dept.:

Einstein rocks into Glastonbury
By Justin Parkinson
BBC News education reporter

Forget Coldplay and think cold fusion: Albert Einstein, the world's best-known scientist, is hitting the Glastonbury music festival this summer.

E=MC Hammer

"... Project leader Dr Karen Bultitude said: 'Einstein would have enjoyed Glastonbury. He wasn't one just for putting his theories together in the lab - he liked to get out and about. I'm not sure whether he would like the mud, so he would be hoping for good weather, like the rest of us....'"

#275 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 12:06 AM:

I've been fooling with the video editor that came with my DV camcorder. Someday I hope to re-edit Star Wars so that Han shoots first, the way God intended.

For now, a Divx clip I shot this afternoon showing my dog hurling herself through a hula-hoop:

#276 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 12:44 AM:

Next up: your dog hurls herself through a hula hoop at Jar Jar, who then runs screaming into a gigantic East European mining machine. Pull back to show Saruman watching the scene in his palantir. His eyes rise, and he says, "Ah, Mr. Bond. So glad you could join us."

Technology is Good.

#277 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 01:36 AM:

Teresa -

Thank you for the particle about the tree houses. I suggested them as the perfect Father's Day gift for my column last week.

#278 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 01:38 AM:

Yikes I am tired. I did not mean to suggest that they are a good gift to give to my column. In my column I touted them as the perfect gift is what I meant to say.

Right, I am going to bed before I lose all ability to communicate.

#279 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 07:28 AM:

Georgiana: What, then, is an appropriate gift to give your column?

(puts treehouse back on shelf)

#280 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 07:39 AM:

Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions. I will now become greedily over-optimistic and ask if anyone knows of historical fantasy set in Tudor/Stuart period England. If not, I still have a nice-sized list of books that look intriguing, minus the few I've already read.

#281 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 11:57 AM:

Scott & Barnett's THE ARMOR OF LIGHT is the first one that comes to mind. And there's Poul Anderson's A MIDSUMMER TEMPEST, though that may be a bit off-trail from what you're looking for.

Keith Roberts's PAVANE is an extraordinary piece of work, but it may miss your criteria; it's a series of shorter pieces, only one of which has any fantastical element, and a revelation at the end somewhat alters the whole nature of the story. Still worth reading.

#282 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 12:41 PM:

Genuine Sensawunder up there in the Particles. I love the pictures of the Small Giantess of Nantes and the Sultan's Metal Elephant. Would be wonderful to have them visit my city.

Jean Luc Courcoult says:

“In the year 1900, Professor SAHIB started work on the phenomenal construction of an elephant
to be used as a time machine. His project, now matter how insurmountable it may have
appeared, took up all his energy and also attracted the attention of the sultan of his country. This
ensured that he had the necessary means and funding for his project. The results of his efforts to
transform giraffes and monkeys into machines were disappointing for many years; it was not
that his special training hurt the animals but they did not like his treatment and he was faced
with the stumbling block of their problems of memory which meant that they could not
concentrate enough to go back in time.

Faced with the sultan’s dissatisfaction, he obtained a troop of elephants and fed them with a
mixture of crushed metal, gunpowder and denatured oil that he imported from Abyssinia. This
source of oil attracted his attention because the nearby trees had become large metallic
sculptures. However, although the metal provided the idea of eternity, it did not provide the
movement necessary for his invention. Of course, the elephants became metallic after a few
months, but they were as immobile as the sculptures. The professor has to face the facts: he
needed a special elephant and at that time, there was a group of isolated mountains in the heart
of India where an elephant that was over there hundred years old lived. The sultan was growing
impatient. So all the people in the palace were requisitioned to capture the animal. Time went
by and the elephant became nothing more than a steel sculpture, like the hundred or so that
decorated the city’s gardens. Afraid of the sultan’s wrath and vexed by his failure, he had the
idea of building steel kneecaps that he placed on the key points of the animal’s joints. With the
help of ropes, jacks and springs he succeeded in getting the animal to move.

Then, he placed a terrace on the elephant’s back and made rooms in its stomach. It was a
real vessel with a kitchen and a bathroom. He invited the sultan and his suite to climb onto
the back of the machine and got his team to set the elephant in motion. He was surprised,
even astonished and afraid when he saw the trees grow slowly, the buildings deteriorate
and the city mushroom. The delighted sultan showered him with gold and set off a few
weeks later on the back of the elephant on a long journey through time…”

More pictures, swell video clips, and commentary in English from Ian Flanigan.

Here's a collection of links from Hilary Talbot's puppetry blog, Spirits Dancing.

They're in Amiens right now. London in September. Other cities later.

#283 ::: AS ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 01:02 PM:

On Tudor/Stuart historical fantasy, I vaguely remember a lot centering around John Dee. Lisa Goldstein is the only author coming immediately to mind, though there are others hovering just out of reach.

#284 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 01:46 PM:

For fantasy set in Tudor/Stuart times, have you tried Judith Merkle Riley? She has a few set in 17th century France, one set in Medici Italy and one - The Serpent Garden - set in 16th c France and England. There are not a lot of changes with the history, but there are touches of the supernatural (demons and magic) that enhance the court intrigue, etc.

#285 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 01:49 PM:

* Peter Ackroyd, The House of Doctor Dee, 1994, man who inherits house previously inhabited by Dee; the story of Dee becomes woven with that of the contemporary owner. ISBN 0-14017117-7

* Armin Shimerman's novel series, sciencefictionalises Dee's magic

* Philippa Gregory, The Queen's Fool, 2004, fictionalised 1550s, John Dee a minor character.

* H. P. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror" says that John Dee translated the Necronomicon into English.

* John Crowley, Ægypt, 1987, Dee and as Giordano Bruno as characters.

* Gustav Meyrink, The Angel of the West Window, 1927, John Dee is the second protagonist.

* Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, Dee in Conspiracy Theory.

* Derek Jarman's film Jubilee, Dee kicks off the plot.

* Neil Gaiman, Marvel 1602, graphic novel, Dee's position as Advisor to the Queen has been taken by Doctor Strange.

* Michael Moorcock, Gloriana, Doctor Dee in Fantasy very loosely based on Elizabeth's court.

* Robin Jarvis, Deathscent [1st book of trilogy], Dee a major character, Fantasy Elizabethan England.

* Philip Pullman, Northern Lights, Dee is mentioned, Alternate History Elizabethan England.

* The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, Dee is baffled by wizards in a magic circle who claim to come from another sphere, talk to a crystal ball, and tell him there's no such thing as magic.

source: Wikipedia, "John Dee."

#286 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 01:58 PM:

AS said:

"Lisa Goldstein is the only author coming immediately to mind, though there are others hovering just out of reach."

Cool! Do I get to plug my books now? The two you might be interested in are _Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon_ and _The Alchemist's Door_ (the latter about Dr. Dee).

#287 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 02:10 PM:

Lisa Goldstein:

Sorry, meant to fill in what Wikipedia missed: your _Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon_ is absolutely breathlessly cleverly WONDERFUL! Now I must read _The Alchemist's Door_ to find out more about Dr. Dee -- especially as I've sold an 8- or 16-page comic with him and kindred, and hope to spin off a novella and/or graphic novel. I connect the dots between Newton, Hawking, and Clinton Avery (the heroic Doctor Arcane). Cambridge University was "probably founded in 1209 by scholars escaping from Oxford after a fight with locals there." Hence Clinton Avery is asked to plan Cambridge University's 800th Anniversary gala, as that's where he earned his degrees, before he skipped town to compete with Indiana Jones. Sort of. I mean, isn't Hawking the #1 wizard alive?

#288 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 03:30 PM:

Good lord, that's a lot of fictional John Dee. You can add to that list Auriel Rising by Elizabeth Redfern, which I'm in the middle of at the moment (but which doesn't seem to be fantasy by my definition, insofar as the alchemy doesn't appear to work).

I mentioned Pullman earlier, but unless Northern Lights is something other than the British title of The Golden Compass, which is what I thought it was, IIRC it's not set in the Elizabethan era, but in a vaguely 19th-century England whose alternate history goes at least as far back as the Reformation and Pope John Calvin. I could be losing my mind, though.

Thank you again to everyone who's volunteered information. You've given me a lot of leads on the kind of stuff I want to read more of.

#289 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 04:28 PM:

C-SPAN geek alert:

The editors of The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad: The Lost Legacy of Ancient Mesopotamia will appear on the C-SPAN2 channel (which becomes "BookTV" on weekends) on Sunday, 19 June, at 10:30 AM EDT, repeated the following midnight EDT.

The program apparently lasts for less than 75 minutes.

#290 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 06:46 PM:

nerdycellist, the last time I had earthquake training was in 1967 just outside Seattle. We had to go to the hallways (concrete block) and do the huddle along the walls.

Lisa, I'm normally quite immune to fantasy, but I've been recommending _Dark Cities Underground_ to just about everybody I know. I love the net of references.

Also, since this is an open thread, does anybody remember the URL for the photo demo of bookbinding? I tried searching and apparently I'm not using good terms. Someone in rasfc needs to see it.

#291 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 07:12 PM:

Is it this one?

It had only just dropped off the bottom of the visible particles list.

#292 ::: michelle db ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2005, 08:00 PM:

S. Dawson:
Mirror Mirror: A novel by Gregory Maguire is a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale set in 16th century Tuscany.

#293 ::: Dylan O'Donnell ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2005, 05:49 AM:

Mary Gentle's 1610: A Sundial in a Grave is mostly set in England, though also France and Japan. I believe that Gentle would claim that it's actually science fiction rather than fantasy; it's just that the science in question is contemporary Hermetic natural philosophy rather than ours.

#294 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2005, 09:35 AM:

Sarah Hoyt's Ill Met by Moonlight is Shakespeare meets Faerie. It also has a couple of sequels.

If you don't require actual fantasy with your AU, Harry Turtledove's Ruled Britannia is set in a London in which the Spanish Armada was successful. (It also involves Shakespeare.)

#295 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2005, 11:57 AM:

Christine M. Carmichael's comments on "How to name-drop in Australian" --
(1) Scientists aren't trusted?
(2) There are dead people on the most-trusted name list.
(3) Princess Mary is actually Scottish, although resident in Australia.

(2) suggested a Noir title to me: "The Dead Don't Lie."

#296 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2005, 01:34 PM:

JvP and Merilee -- Thanks!

And here's another Dr. Dee book, _The Book of Splendor_ (forgot the author). It takes place during Dee's visit to Prague, just as mine did, and it came out the same year as mine. I haven't read it -- I'm too chicken.

#297 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2005, 02:02 PM:

The Book of Splendor, Frances Sherwood, W. W. Norton, July 2002, hardcover, ISBN 0-393-02138-6, 6" x 9", 352 pages

"A historical novel about the most unlikely of lovers, interwoven with the mysticism of the Jewish occult."

"It is 1601, in the old city of Prague under the reign of Hapsburg emperor Rudolph II. Rochel is young, illiterate, of dubious birth, a Jew who is not quite a Jew, an outsider among outsiders. Yet she has heard stories, not only of the ancient Hebrews' heroic deeds but also of the handsome prince who rescued the virtuous Ashenputtel, and of the mermaid who sold her voice for a pair of legs. Rochel's chance to escape poverty comes in an arranged marriage, but her heart belongs to another."

"In his castle on the hill, in possession of every luxury known to man, Emperor Rudolph II is discontent. There is no end to what he wants. His mania will ignite the long-standing resentments of his foes within the city...."

I've been compling vast amounts of data on Emperor Rudolph II, for the backstory to my Alternate History Fantasy Murder Mystery novel set at CalThaum (the California Institute of Thaumaturgy), in Paradena, California, "Axiomatic Magic" (mss. roughly 3/4 complete). When the world's #1 Group Theorist is magically murdered on campus, the Paradena Police Department is not quite prepared, so enters the amateur sleuth: Wizard-Professor Richard Feynman. I pitch this as "Harry Potter meets A Beautiful Mind."

In that novel-in-progress, in Newton succeeded as an alchemist, and Kepler as an astrologer, thanks to Rudoph, because of the strange conjunction of his expensive obsession with the occult, his covert support of Kepler, his explicit support of Tycho Brahe (and thus of having Kepler edit The Rudophine Tables), and his commissioning the most elaborate automated pneumatic-hydraulic organ ever (reputed to be able to compose its own music).

I figure that the organ was really the first digital computer, and was used by Kepler, and will get me a $500,000 advance similar to that of Neal Stephenson for playing equally fast and loose with the intersection of cryptohistory and cryptography.

#298 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2005, 06:29 PM:

Yes, Aquila, thanks!

#299 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2005, 09:50 PM:

... most of us are in these cubicles that have a sort of countertop along 3 sides. ...

Ours have drawers under (usually) one end of each counter. So far they haven't come down (10th floor of relatively new building in downtown LA). And I went under desk because it felt like a Really Good Idea at the time.

And on a different theme:
AU stories with recognizable locations (or nearly so): I'm surprised no one mentioned Randall Garrett.

#300 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2005, 11:59 PM:

P J Evans: I'd argue that Garrett's locations aren't particularly recognizable; the geography is still there but history is radically different -- not surprising considering that the deviation point was most of a millennium back. Not to mention that the original query was for historical fantasy, where I've always read Lord Darcy as happening about on the dates they were published. If S. Dawson allows contemporary or wildly-divergent AU as well as historical, there are many more stories, e.g. Anderson's Operation Chaos and Operation Luna.

#301 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2005, 02:00 AM:

Apropos of nothing, I just posted a bunch of snaps of the Fremont Solstice Parade in Seattle. Well after the flotilla of naked bicyclists, there was a group that featured some post-InfernoKrush robot costumes. I like Seattle.

Happy (early) Solstice!

#302 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2005, 12:10 PM:

It is bittersweet to say this, having lost my father last month, but Happy Father's Day.

Being a father is one of the greatest joys in my life. The joy of being a spouse is well-known, and promoted by classical Comedy, and mainstream media. The joy of parenthood is under-represented, I believe, by the same media. Perhaps this is because (1) spousal joy is signified by the wedding, and the "happily ever after" is glossed over; (2) parenthood has the birth as a (painful) priviliged point in time, but the rewards are spread over a spectrum of later events (first word, first walking, first day of school); (3) the vast majority of people know at least one parent, but not all are in a hurry to become parents, or enjoy it; (4) dysfunctional parents or children make for better drama (King Lear springs to mind, or Oedipus).

Remember when Nancy Reagan tried to launch Grandparents' Day? But there is no American Cousins' Day, or Aunts' Day, or Uncles' Day, or Greatgrandparents' Day.

"This leads to the concept that an individual should sacrifice itself in order to save 'two siblings, four nephews or eight cousins,' since siblings share 50% of an individual's genes, nephews 25% and cousins 12.5% (in a diploid, randomly mating and outbred population)."

"For kin-selection to occur all that is necessary is for individuals to behave nepotistically towards their kin. Usually this requires kin recognition either due to innate cognition of character traits associated with relatedness or due to recognition of specific individuals with whom they have grown up."

Darwin first wrote about kin selection, in explaining the sterile castes of social insects W. D. Hamilton provided the mathematical mechanism for evolution of superficially altruistic acts.

Now, where's the hammock, and my beer?

#303 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2005, 03:57 PM:

Churchill in Iraq--nothing new under the sun, it seems; Churchill was a great orator, but perhaps less so as a military commander. Just right now, I am wishing that my side had an orator as great as Churchill.

Churchill also served under David Lloyd George as Minister of War and Air (1919-20) and Colonial Secretary (1921-22). Churchill created great controversy over his policies in Iraq. It was estimated that around 25,000 British and 80,000 Indian troops would be needed to control the country. However, he argued that if Britain relied on air power, you could cut these numbers to 4,000 (British) and 10,000 (Indian). The government was convinced by this argument and it was decided to send the recently formed Royal Air Force to Iraq.

An uprising of more than 100,000 armed tribesmen took place in 1920. Over the next few months the RAF dropped 97 tons of bombs killing 9,000 Iraqis. This failed to end the resistance and Arab and Kurdish uprisings continued to pose a threat to British rule. Churchill suggested that chemical weapons should be used "against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment." He added "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes to spread a lively terror" in Iraq.

I stumbled across this in Spartacus. Some research confirms, at least, the basics of the stated account from that reliable but partisan (Trotskyite?) source.

#304 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2005, 04:04 PM:

JVP, the WashPost is all over Father's Day today. (And doesn't mention Juneteenth, although they did celebrate it yesterday.)

#305 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2005, 10:58 PM:

Particles: "Neil has found the world's most clueless article about comics."

Perhaps not meant to be taken too seriously. I certainly got a chuckle out of 2,5,9,10 - and the only one which made me think 'clueless' was 7.

#306 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 08:23 PM:

Randolph: the Churchill quote came up recently; reportedly Spartacus skipped the part that made it clear he was talking about riot gasses rather than killers. Whether even riot gasses are appropriate considering it wasn't Churchill's land is also relevant, but less so.

#307 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 08:45 PM:

A bold Los Angeles Times experiment in letting readers rewrite the paper's editorials lasted all of three days.

#308 ::: Pellegrina ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 07:38 PM:

Yikes :-)

Thank you *very much* to everyone who has replied to my request for reading tips on libraries in SF. I haven't had a chance to read through them carefully yet, as I somewhat unthinkingly posted my request two days before flying off to the US for a fortnight's holiday to visit my neo-Luddite mother. Rather than attempt a cut-and-paste job into Word on the public library computer, I'll wait till I get home to compile a proper list and any other responses that seem apt. But I didn't want to wait that long to express gratitude!

I will naturally be wishing to acknowledge your (plural) contribution - are there any house rules for that, or would a reference to Making Light (assuming there is an approved style for references to blogs) with the URL of this thread be sufficient?

#309 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 07:49 PM:

Greg London:

"A bold Los Angeles Times experiment in letting readers rewrite the paper's editorials lasted all of three days."

To me, as a Los Angeles Time subscriber, who's appeared in the L.A. Times editorial page, and who tried this wiki, the interesting thing is the L.A. Times complaining about the blog

Major newspaper attacks major blog. Sign of the times?

#310 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 07:52 PM:

OH MY F#$^#%^# GAWD!

Check out this week's "THE ONION" ASAP.

Start with the Horoscopes.

#311 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 05:17 PM:

Jim, Teresa and Patrick: I wonder if I might pick your brains for a moment. A member of my writing workshop has finished a fantasy novel. I've read the first few chapters; it's really quite good. I'm wondering if you could point her to any good information on the business of getting your first fantasy novel published. There's such a lot of crappy information out there -- and so much of it is extremely credible to the newbie -- that I'm fearful of just Googling the information, or browsing the library and bookstore shelves.

#312 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 05:26 PM:

Mitch, start her with Slushkiller and its followups.

Send her over to Everything You Wanted To Know About Literary Agents at Neil Gaiman's blog.

And buy her a Yog's Law tee-shirt.

#313 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 05:48 PM:

>And buy her a Yog's Law tee-shirt.

And this would be purchased where ?

#314 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 06:14 PM:

Get your Yog's Law Tee Shirt here:"

#315 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 11:21 PM:

Thanks, Jim.

#316 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2005, 11:31 PM:

I just read the Gaiman piece. It's great stuff.

You advise that the writer should get an offer before shopping for an agent. Yet my quick scan of Ralan's guide to markets indicates that Tor is possibly the ONLY major fantasy publisher that looks at unagented MSes. If Tor doesn't take the book, what then? It sounds like a Catch-22 to me.

#317 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 01:40 AM:

Then get an agent. I'm aware of several first-time authors who snagged well-known agents recently.

There's been a move toward only-agented. All this has done is moved the location of the slush pile.

#318 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 08:08 AM:

Mitch: No, Baen does, too. They'll even take e-subs.

#319 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 08:16 AM:

Mitch, ignore me. I should not try to read tiny type before breakfast. You specified "fantasy," not SF. My bad.

#320 ::: fidelio wonders if it's spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 04:19 PM:

The name links to a youtube thingy...

#321 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 04:26 PM:

It most assuredly was. It's now ex-spam; it has ceased to be.

#322 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2011, 04:46 PM:

*lays faded blossom from her office amaryllis on the grave*

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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