A Hundred Years Hence

I’ve heard that SFWA Grandmaster James Gunn will give a keynote speech for the Cushing Library’s Exhibit above. I wish I could be there. After all, for the last 35 years I’ve witnessed some of that “SF & Fantasy” at TAMU. I remember the first time I ever met Jim Gunn–he came down for something and Dr. Kroiter brought him to the SF as Literature class to talk to us. I hadn’t read much of his work at that time but I was a big fan of the TV series The Immortal.

Since then I’ve learned usual lesson. The source material is almost always better.

Brad Denton was a graduate student under him, writing some of his early short fiction in the program. Read his post about meeting Dr. Gunn back in college, “First Contact with a Grand Master.”

Let’s Agree to Disagree

Scott Edelman, over on Twitter, pointed out this amazingly awful attack on the great writers of science fiction by David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service.  It’s not quite James Bond, Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but it does have a ring to it.

Anyway, his post, titled Beware of Science Fiction, uses Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gene Roddenberry, as examples of agnostic or atheistic proponents.  His descriptions are factual, using quotes from the writers in question.  After reading every one of the quotes, my reaction is “Right on!” but he seems to see them as, uh, damning.

He finishes with:

Science fiction is intimately associated with Darwinian evolution. Sagan and Asimov, for example, were prominent evolutionary scientists. Sci-fi arose in the late 19th and early 20th century as a product of an evolutionary worldview that denies the Almighty Creator. In fact, evolution IS the pre-eminent science fiction. Beware!

So, I’m guessing that evidence based science is just right out of the picture, for him.

I laughed when I read the informational paragraph at the bottom of the website which includes:


In conclusion, I’m making a unilateral deal with him.  He shouldn’t read ANY Science Fiction and I’ll promise never to read his web site again.

(also posted at Steve’s blog, An Unconvincing Narrative)

Iron Chef Pear or What I Did On My Birthday

I’m in Chattanooga, Tennessee (the ‘nooga as us hep kids call it) at a combination writer’s retreat and birthday celebration (not mine, but our host’s, Mary Robinette Kowal.) It just so happens that her BD is one day (and fourteen years) after mine.

I was supposed to be the offeeeeeecial photgrapher for the following event but one of the Team Mary’s sous chefs came down sick and I was roped in.

Nobody really lost, especially all of us who got to eat it.

Oh, Look! Story!

Looking for something good to read?  A screenplay by Ursula K. Leguin, maybe?  Novels by Brenda Clough, Susan Wright or Vonda McIntyre?  Or maybe a handful of short stories to while away that wait for your much-delayed flight home from Kathmandu (now that we can look forward to a new and different president)?

Check out Book View Cafe, a nifty new website featuring work by over two dozen women writers working in SF, horror, fantasy, YA, and related genres.  We (disclosure: yes, I’m one of the roster) have banded together to make the site a place where we can bring our out-of-print work back, republish short stories, and show off new and experimental fiction.  Much of the work is free; there will be some available for subscription, and some for a nominal fee.  Read on screen, or download a PDF to your computer to take elsewhere.  And right now, since we’re in the roll-out phase, everything is free free free!

There’s also the Book View Cafe blog, with brief posts on divers topics by BVC authors.  I know, another damned blog.  But there’s stuff in there runs the gamut from comics to Camelot.  You know you’re curious.

I don’t know if Book View Cafe is an entirely new publishing paradigm, as the big kids say, but it’s at least on the leading edge.  And there’s really good stuff in there.  Come check us out!

Cause With This Economy

…you never know.

How to Live in Your Car – wikiHow

  • Once you find a spot, try to arrive late at night, and leave before 7am. This will draw as little attention as possible to yourself.

How to Live on the Street – wikiHow

  • Another place to sleep relatively safely at night are rooftops of public buildings.

How to Survive on the Streets of Manhattan – wikiHow

  • Avoid bumping into the New Yorkers. They will bump you back. It isn’t pleasant.

How to Survive on the Streets – wikiHow

  • Avoid wearing sandals or flip-flops, and high-hills. If, on your way there’s a rock, you may trip on it, fall or even die, hit by a car. USE TENNIS SHOES!

How to Be a Hobo with a Web Based Income – wikiHow

  • Buy backup batteries for your laptop to continue working until you can reach civilization.

How to Urban Camp – wikiHow

  • Showers!

How to Be a Street Musician – wikiHow

  • Be prepared for requests. People who request songs can be annoying, especially if you play originals, but they also tend to pay you. It’s good to know some covers, and if you can’t play the exact song someone requests, offer a similar tune or one by the same artist.

How to Survive in Dangerous Parts of a City – wikiHow

  • You might have to stop for directions. If you do, try to ask an elderly person, preferably a woman, because there is less of a chance an older person will try to rob or attack you.

How to Keep Chickens in a City – wikiHow

  • Are they all there? Count your chickens every day, especially if you have more than ten.

How to Urinate Outside Discreetly – wikiHow

  • If pants are equipped, carefully zip them once you are done. Careless zipper operation especially in males can cause great pain.

How to Survive a Super Comet Hitting Earth -wikiHow

  • Your Government will likely set up “public shelters” for people to ride out the impact aftermath. Do Not go to these shelters. They are a perfect place for disease to spread and crime will be rampant in these places. If however, you cannot be evacuated from near the impact site, you will have to go into a nuclear bunker that you may have to share. If you are far away from the impact, making your own shelter out of a windowless room in your house or out of a cellar is the best option.

Just sayin’.

Remember John Edwards $250 Haircut?

Stylin' PalinThe Republican National Committee apparently spent one hundred and fifty thousand dollars on clothes for Sarah Palin and her family in the month of September.

John Edwards didn’t get a pass for his ‘spensive stylin’ but the RNC says that media attention on this is inappropriate.

“With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it’s remarkable that we’re spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses,” said Tracey Schmitt, a party spokeswoman.

(Laura remembered it as a $400 haircut but I checked. It was over $400 for TWO haircuts. Remember kids, shop in volume for big savings!)

Meanwhile, even Republicans are unhappy.

The Democrats are going to have a lot more fun with this than is prudent, but the heat for this story will come from Republicans who cannot understand how their party would do something this stupid … particularly (and, it must be said, viewed retroactively) during the collapse of the financial system and the probable beginning of a recession.

The Atlantic

Paris Hilton was heard to say, “Ohmighod. In one month? What a bargain. She’s a shopping genius!” Steve (not a plumber and not a hockey mom) Gould was heard to comment, “This is twice my average annual income.”

The only thing I can say is the RNC doesn’t have to worry about zombies. They are the Coke Zero of brains.

Addendum:I thought, okay, this is her RNC handlers making sure she looks good on camera.  But then I saw this:

AP INVESTIGATION: Alaska funded Palin kids’ travel

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters’ 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.


Laura pointed out that even if someone else is holding onto the credit cards, you can’t buy that many outfits without some idea what they cost.

Fun With (Electoral) Math; or, How Omaha Can Save the World

College Dean

Several different “Interactive Electoral Maps” for the 2008 Smackdown are available online . . . but my favorite is at http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008/pick-your-president/.  This one allows you to screw with the Electoral College in all sorts of ways, much as you probably did with your Actual College.

The best thing about this map, to me, is that it includes options for splitting up the Electoral Votes of Maine and Nebraska.  You see, unlike every other state in the Union, Maine and Nebraska do not have a winner-take-all policy regarding their Electoral Votes for President.  Instead, they use the “Congressional District Method,” in which the popular-vote winner of each Congressional District is awarded one Electoral Vote (just as each district has one Congressperson), and the state’s overall popular-vote winner is awarded the remaining two Electoral Votes (just as each state has two Senators).

So far, in actual practice, this has never resulted in a split Electoral Vote for either Maine or Nebraska.  But I want to believe that 2008 could be different, particularly in Nebraska.  For one thing, Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District is home to the University of Nebraska, where support for Senator Obama is reported to be strong . . . and the 2nd District is basically the city of Omaha, which (among other blue-leaning factors) is the home of billionaire, philanthropist, and Obama-supporter Warren Buffett.  (You can forget about the 3rd District, though.  They’re red ’til they’re dead.)

I’ve had a lot of fun playing Electoral God with the map as a whole, making swing-states like Ohio and Pennsylvania swing first one way and then the other.  But somehow I can never manage to convince myself, even for a make-believe moment, that Florida will ever wind up in the blue column.  (Comedienne Sarah Silverman thinks there’s a way it could happen, however.)

My favorite tweak of the map — and note that “favorite” doesn’t mean that I think it’s either likely or desirable, but wackily possible — gives WA, OR, CA, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY, VT, ME, RI, CT, DE, MD, NJ, HI,  and DC to Senator Obama.  Everything else goes to Senator McCain.

This results in a 269 to 269 tie, which throws the election into the U.S. House of Representatives.

Unless . . .

You click that tiny little box that represents Nebraska’s 2nd District, turning it blue.

And then, with its one Electoral Vote, OMAHA SAVES THE WORLD!!!

Well, I mean, jeez.

SOMEbody has to.

The Oceans are dying. Just thought you ought to know.

People don’t like bad news. They get irritated with environmental scientists and advocates who hit them with warnings. “Alarmists!” is a favorite pejorative.

I don’t like upsetting my friends, either, so I have been cowardly, and stopped posting on the ongoing march of destruction of the planet’s species. But this table, posted at Deep-Sea News by science blogger Peter Etnoyer, was pulled from his colleague Jeremy B. C. Jackson’s recent publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The table really says it all, and people do need to know. Even if we don’t want to.

Kate Wilhelm has a short story called “The Chosen.” It depicts the forests of the future, which have fallen silent. And still we mine them. This table is a glimpse at the reality that story predicted.

We are devouring our world. We are devouring our children’s future. Just thought you should know.