Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weird Tales, Vol. II

Weird Tales, Vol. II by E. T. A. Hoffmann

"Glaser, a German apothecary, the best chemist of his age, had busied himself, as people of his profession were in the habit of doing, with alchemistical experiments. He had made it the object of his endeavour to discover the Philosopher's Stone."

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

Keiichi Matsuda gives us a vision of a future in which it takes computer assistance to make a cup of tea. If that's what the kitchen looks like I'd hate to see the bathroom...

[via Technovelgy]

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Inhabited

The Inhabited by Richard Wilson

"Containing a foe is sound military thinking—unless it's carried out so literally that everybody becomes an innocent Trojan Horse!"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Akihabara Majokko Princess

This is a music video by McG starring Kristen Dunst (?) dressed as a mahou shoujo singing the cheesy 80's Brit-pop song "Turning Japanese" in the epicenter of geek culture, Akihabara. Cute, but it would have been a thousand times better if it had starred Beckii Cruel dancing to an actual J-pop song.

[via Japan Probe]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Tales of Hoffmann

Today Project Gutenberg has added some proto-sf to their library in the form of E. T. A. Hoffmann's Weird Tales. (Vol. I). Hoffmann's novelette The Nutcracker and the Mouse King inspired the famous ballet The Nutcracker, and Offenbach's famous opera The Tales of Hoffmann is based on these stories.

"Yet it's very strange that several of us have formed pretty much the same opinion about Olimpia. We think she is—you won't take it ill, brother?—that she is singularly statuesque and soulless. Her figure is regular, and so are her features, that can't be gainsaid; and if her eyes were not so utterly devoid of life, I may say, of the power of vision, she might pass for a beauty. She is strangely measured in her movements, they all seem as if they were dependent upon some wound-up clock-work."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Ultroom Error

"The Ultroom Error" by Jerry Sohl

"Smith admitted he had made an error involving a few murders—and a few thousand years. He was entitled to a sense of humor, though, even in the Ultroom!"

"To Each His Star" by Bryce Walton

'"Nothing around those other suns but ashes and dried blood," old Dunbar told the space-wrecked, desperate men. "Only one way to go, where we can float down through the clouds to Paradise. That's straight ahead to the sun with the red rim around it."

But Dunbar's eyes were old and uncertain. How could they believe in his choice when every star in this forsaken section of space was surrounded by a beckoning red rim?

The Man Who Staked the Stars by Katherine MacLean and Charles Dye

"Bryce Carter could afford a smug smile. For hadn't he risen gloriously from Thieves Row to director of famed U.T.? Was not Earth, Moon, and all the Belt, at this very moment awaiting his command for the grand coup? And wasn't his cousin-from-Montehedo a star-sent help?"

"B-12's Moon Glow" by Charles A. Stearns

"Among the metal-persons of Phobos, robot B-12 held a special niche. He might not have been stronger, larger, faster than some … but he could be devious … and more important, he was that junkyard planetoid’s only moonshiner."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Joanna Russ

Birthday wishes today to Joanna Russ, American writer, pioneer of feminist science fiction, and essayist. She's known for such work as the Alyx stories, that were collected as The Adventures of Alyx (1976), which ran counter to the gender stereotypes dominant in the genre at the time. Her fame was secured with the publication of The Female Man  (1975) which became a feminist classic.

Although she hasn't been active in the genre recently due to health problems her reputation is assured. Happy birthday, Joanna, and many more.

The Invaders

The Invaders by Murray Leinster

"It started in Greece on the day after tomorrow. Before the last act raced to a close, Coburn was buried to his ears in assorted adventures, including a revolution and an invasion from outer space!

We're not given to throwing around the word "epic" lightly, but here is one! Swashbuckling action, a great many vivid characters, and a weird mystery—all spun for you by one of the master story-tellers of our time."

"Satan and the Comrades" by Ralph Bennitt

"It is not always easy to laugh at Satan, or take pleasure in his antics. But when the Prince of Darkness goes on a vacation or holds a mirror up to human nature at its most Luciferian chuckles are certain to arise and follow one another in hilarious profusion. Here is a yarn contrived by a craftsman with ironic lightning bolts at his fingertips, as mordantly compelling as it is jovial and Jovian. If you liked SATAN ON HOLIDAY, and were hoping for a sequel you can now rejoice in full measure, for Ralph Bennitt has provided that longed-for delight."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Laws of Japanese Animation

From that far-off time of the 1990's I bring you the Laws of Japanese Animation.

                   * * * Laws of Japanese Animation * * *
                    = = ============================ = =
                                Version 4.0
                            Compiled and edited by
                Ryan Shellito (
                Darrin Bright  (
#1 - Law of Metaphysical Irregularity

   The normal laws of physics do not apply.

#2 - Law of Differentiated Gravitation
   Whenever someone or something jumps, is thrown, or otherwise is rendered airborn, gravity is reduced by a factor of 4.

#3 - Law of Sonic Amplification, First Law of Anime Accoustics

   In space, loud sounds, like explosions, are even louder because there is no air to get in the way.

#4 - Law of Constant Thrust, First Law of Anime Motion

   In space, constant thrust equals constant velocity.

#5 - Law of Mechanical Mobility, Second Law of Anime Motion

   The larger a mechanical device is, the faster it moves.  Armored Mecha are the fastest objects known to human science. 

#6 - Law of Temporal Variability

   Time is not a constant.  Time stops for the hero whenever he does
   something 'cool' or 'impressive'.  Time slows down when friends and
   lovers are being killed and speeds up whenever there is a fight.

#7 - First Law of Temporal Mortality

   'Good Guys' and 'Bad Guys' both die in one of two ways. Either so quick they don't even see it coming, OR it's a long drawn out affair where the character gains much insight to the workings of society, human existence or why the toast always lands butter side down.

#8 - Second Law of Temporal Mortality

   It takes some time for bad guys to die... regardless of physical damage.  Even when the 'Bad Guys' are killed so quickly they didn't even see it coming, it takes them a while to realize they are dead.  This is attributed to the belief that being evil damages the Reality Lobe of the brain.

#9 - Law of Dramatic Emphasis

   Scenes involving extreme amounts of action are depicted with either still-frames or black screens with a slash of bright color (usually red or white).

#10 - Law of Dramatic Multiplicity

   Scenes that only happen once, for instance, a 'Good Guy' kicks the
   'Bad Guy' in the face, are seen at least 3 times from 3 different angles.

#11 - Law of Inherent Combustability

   Everything explodes.  Everything.

      First Corrallary - Anything that explodes bulges first.
      Second Corrallary - Large cities are the most explosive substances known to human science.  Tokyo in particular seems to be the most unstable of these cities, sometimes referred to as "The Matchstick City".

#12 - Law of Phlogistatic Emission

   Nearly all things emit light from fatal wounds.

#13 - Law of Energetic Emission

   There is always an energy build up (commonly referred to as an energy
   'bulge') before Mecha or space craft weapons fire.  Because of the
   explosive qualities of weapons, it is believed that this is related to
   the Law of Inherent Combustability.

#14 - Law of Inverse Lethal Magnitude

   The destructive potential of a weapon is inversely proportional to
   its size.
#15 - Law of Inexhaustability

   No one *EVER* runs out of ammunition.  That is of course unless they are cornered, out-numbered, out-classed, and unconscious.

#16 - Law of Inverse Accuracy

   The accuracy of a 'Good Guy' when operating any form of fire-arm
   increases as the difficulty of the shot increases.  The accuracy of the 'Bad Guys' when operating fire-arms decreases when the difficulty of the shot decreases.  (Also known as the Stormtrooper Effect)  Example:  A 'Good Guy' in a drunken stupor being held upside down from a moving vehicle will always hit, and several battalions of 'Bad Guys' firing on a 'Good Guy' standing alone in the middle of an open field will always miss. 

       First Corrallary - The more 'Bad Guys' there are, the less likely they will hit anyone or do any real damage.

       Second Corrallary - Whenever a 'Good Guy' is faced with insurmountable odds, the 'Bad Guys' line up in neat rows, allowing the hero to take them all out with a single burst of automatic fire and then escape.

       Third Corrallary - Whenever a 'Good Guy' is actually hit by enemy fire, it is in a designated 'Good Guy Area', usually a flesh wound in the shoulder or arm, which restricts the 'Good Guy' from doing anything more strenuous than driving, firing weaponry, using melee weapons, operating heavy machinery, or doing complex martial arts maneuvres.

#17 - Law of Transient Romantic Unreliability

   Minmei is a bimbo.  (* Note: The Minority Opposition in Ohio disagrees and thinks all men who like this stuff need to get out more. *)

#18 - Law of Hemoglobin Capacity

   The human body contains over 12 gallons of blood.  Sometimes more.

#19 - Law of Demonic Consistency

   Demons and other supernatural creatures have at least three eyes,
   loads of fangs, tend to be yellow-green or brown, but black is not
   unknown, and can only be hurt bladed weapons. 

#20 - Law of Militaristic Unreliability

   Huge galaxy-wide armadas, entire armies, and large war-machines full of cruel, heartless, bloodthirsty warriors can be stopped and defeated with a single insignificant example of a caring/loving emotion or a song.
#21 - Law of Tactical Unreliability

   Tactical geniuses aren't....

#22 - Law of Inconsequential Undetectability

   People never notice the little things.... Like missing body parts,
   or wounds the size of Seattle.

#23 - Law of Juvenile Intellectuality

   Children are smarter than adults. And almost always twice as annoying.

#24 - Law of Antagonistic Americanthropomorphism

   The really nasty 'Bad Guys' are always skinny Americans.

#25 - Law of Americanthropomorphistic Intellectual Inferiority 

   The stupid 'Good Guys' are always big Americans.

      First Corrallary - The only people who are more stupid than the big dumb Americans are the American translators. (Sometimes referred to as the Green Line Effect)

      Second Corrallary - The only people who are more stupid than the  American translators are the American editors and censors.

#26 - Law of Mandibular Proportionality
         (from and
   The size of a person's mouth is directly proportional to the volume at which they are speaking.

#27 - Law of Feline Mutation

   Any half-cat/half-human mutation will invariably:
      1) be female
      2) will possess ears and sometimes a tail as a genetic mutation
      3) wear as little clothing as possible, if any

#28 - Law of Conservation of Firepower
   Any powerful weapon capable of destroying/defeating an opponent in a single shot will invariably be reserved and used only as a last resort.

#29 - Law of Technological User-Benevolence

   The formal training required to operate a spaceship or mecha is inversely proportional to its complexity.

#30 - Law of Melee Luminescence

   Any being displaying extremely high levels of martial arts prowess and/or violent emotions emits light in the form of a glowing aura.  This aura is usually blue for 'good guys' and red for 'bad guys'.  This is attributed to Good being higher in the electromagnetic spectrum than Evil.

#31 - Law of Non-anthropomorphic Antagonism

    All ugly, non-humanoid alien races are hostile, and usually hell-bent on destroying humanity for some obscure reason.

### Notes ### : The few but very spirited responses we received from posting version 3.0 prompted us to add a few more laws.  We have endeavored to give proper credit to those individuals who offered suggestions/additions.  If no credit is given then the discoverer is either unknown or one of the authors.
We took the liberty of editing or discarding suggestions/additions that were vague, poorly worded, or just not universal enough to be a "Natural Law" of Japanese Animation.  Please feel free to send us suggestions or Gundam subs.

                     * * * C O M I N G   S O O N * * *
                      = = ======================= = =

     Just when you thought it was safe to blow up Neo-Tokyo again... 
A dark shadow spreads over your friendly neighborhood humanoid planet... 
Is it that time of month again for the Quadronos?  Is it the Robot Carnival?
No!  It's a Mutant... It's a, it's--

                        ANIME - THE DRINKING GAME !

------- End of Forwarded Message

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Master of the Moondog

"The Wealth of Echindul" by Noel Loomis

"Though he carried with him the loot of the ages, who in The Pass—that legalized city of vice and corruption—would dare risk his neck to help Russell, the Hard Luck Man of the Swamps?"

Master of the Moondog by Stanley Mullen

"Idiotic pets rate idiotic masters. Tod Denver and Charley, the moondog, made ideal companions as they set a zigzag course for the Martian diggings—paradise for fools."

Comrade Who

The other day Mick Farren pointed out that across the pond in Britain they're in something of a tizzy after realizing twenty two years after the fact that -- brace yourself -- some episodes of Dr. Who involve social commentary. Shocking, isn't it? Specifically, it's the "revelation" that the Seventh Doctor's adventure "The Happiness Patrol" (1988) was a criticism of the retrograde politics of Margret Thatcher that has the Brit's knickers in a twist.

Can you spot the vicious egoist?

The episode's impact was undoubtedly blunted by the fact that Sylvester McCoy ranks down with Colin Baker as one of the least popular Doctors of all time. But it did make Den of Geek's list of "Ten Under-rated Classic Doctor Who Stories" last year, where it was described as "...a great mix of anarchic Troughton-style Who and heavily Eighties-style, political comedy/thriller."

What makes this such a bizarre controversy is that at that same time the BBC was airing another show called Yes, Minister (1980-1988), which was consciously intended to discredit democracy and advance a right-wing ideology. So apparently in Britain right-wing propaganda passes without comment, but left-wing allegories are scandalous decades after the fact. No wonder the BNP is winning elections.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Angel of the Revolution

Today Project Gutenberg adds something for the Steampunk enthusiasts in the form of a Scientific Romance written by George Griffith and illustrated by Fred T. Jane.

The Angel of the Revolution: A Tale of the Coming Terror (1893) by George Griffith

"A strange story, and truer, I think, than the one I told you. Now tell me on your honour as a gentleman: Were you really in earnest when I heard you say on the embankment that you would rather smash up your model and take the secret with you into the next world, than sell your discovery to the Tsar for the million that he has offered for such an air-ship as yours?"

"Absolutely in earnest," was the reply. "I have seen enough of the seamy side of this much-boasted civilisation of ours to know that it is the most awful mockery that man ever insulted his Maker with. It is based on fraud, and sustained by force—force that ruthlessly crushes all who do not bow the knee to Mammon. I am the enemy of a society that does not permit a man to be honest and live, unless he has money and can defy it. I have just two shillings in the world, and I would rather throw them into the Thames and myself after them than take that million from the Tsar in exchange for an engine of destruction that would make him master of the world."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bride of the Dark One

"One Purple Hope!" by Henry Hasse

"Once he had been a tall, straight spaceman, free as the galaxies. Now Joel Latham was a tsith-addict, a beach-comber at Venusport. Maybe he'd get one last chance...."

"Bride of the Dark One" by Florence Verbell Brown

"The outcasts; the hunted of all the brighter worlds, crowded onto Yaroto. But even here was there salvation for Ransome, the jinx-scarred acolyte, when tonight was the night of Bani-tai ... the night of expiation by the photo-memoried priests of dark Darion?"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Strange Tale of Solarcon-6

The Fortean Times is featuring an article by Nick Redfern, author of Science Fiction Secrets: From Government Files and the Paranormal, on one of the more unpleasant episodes of PKD's later life.

"Undoubtedly, one of the prime reasons why Dick attracted attention from the FBI was a series of bizarre letters he penned to the Bureau in the early 1970s, in which he described his personal knowledge of an alleged underground Nazi cabal that was attempting to covertly manipulate science fiction writers to further advance its hidden cause."

Most serious fans know the general outlines of this sordid story, which involves PKD making false accusations against the late Thomas M. Disch. The whole incident served as the inspiration for PKD's novel A Scanner Darkly (1977). The article draws on declassified documents to reveal all the details of the affair and is well worth reading.

Let'Em Breathe Space

"Turnover Point" by Alfred Coppel

"Every era in history has had its Pop Ganlon's. Along in years and not successful and not caring much anyway. A matter of living out their years, following an obscure path to oblivion.
It was that way in ancient Egypt, just as it will be when the Solar System shrinks to our size. And once in a while such men are given an opportunity to contribute to the society that has forgotten them...."

Let'Em Breathe Space by Lester Del Rey

"Eighteen men and two women in the closed world of a space ship for five months can only spell tension and trouble—but in this case, the atmosphere was literally poisoned."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Ian M. Banks

I know it's already tomorrow in Scotland as I post this, but happy birthday to Ian M. Banks. Mr. Banks came to fame with novels like The Wasp Factory (1984) writing under the name Ian Banks. But it is the novels he's written as Ian M.Banks that have earned him a prominent place in the rolls of sf. Beginning with Consider Phlebas (1987) and elaborated upon in subsequent novels, Banks crafted an amazing future history centered on The Culture. Thank you for creating such a marvelous literary universe and happy birthday, Ian.

Mars Confidential

"Mars Confidential" by Howard Browne (writing as Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer)

"Here you'll learn why Mars is called the Red Planet, the part the Mafia plays in her undoing, the rape and rapine that has made this heavenly body the cesspool of the Universe. In other words, this is Mars—Confidential!"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Star Trek Shoop

Something Awful LLC. featured a Star Trek Invasion! for their latest Photoshop Phriday and some of the entries weren't half bad.



[via SF Signal and Jeff's Gameblog]

Sunday, February 14, 2010

R.I.P. Anvil & Tenn

I'd like to offer my belated respects to a couple of sf authors who died recently, Christopher Anvil (1925-2009) and William Tenn (1920-2010).

Anvil was a regular contributor to Analog magazine, with a career the began in the 1950's and ran steadily through to the 1990's. I know him best from his Interstellar Patrol stories which were recently reprinted in collected volumes by Baen Books. Not only did they feature colorful adventure, and a memorable A.I. super-ship, but they also explored some interesting ideas. One of the most memorable for me was "Stanglehold," which did a good job of dramatizing how the existence of strong psi powers (or magic, if you will) would make discovery of the scientific method impossible. This despite the fact that the story, like many at the time, was just a build-up for a bad pun.

Tenn was less prolific due to the fact that he secured a job teaching at Penn State, but what he lacked in quantity he made up for in quality. I only know his work from his most notable stories which I read in scattered anthologies, but I enjoyed them thoroughly. The one I remember best is "On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi". Frederik Pohl has written a better eulogy to him than I ever could, and points out his collected works have been issued by NESFA Press. I really should read more of his writing.

Hover cat


Having refined their superconductor technology, the cats began experimenting with powerful diamagnetic fields.

[via Dangerous Minds]

EDIT: Apparently blogger displays gifs as pngs, so the effect is completely lost. Go to DM if you want the full Hover Cat experience.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rastignac the Devil

Rastignac the Devil by Philip José Farmer

"Enslaved by a triangular powered despotism—one lone man sets his sights to the Six Bright Stars and eventual freedom of his world."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Black hole simulator

NewScientist recently featured this short vid that shows how the extreme gravity of a black hole warps light. The weird visuals just go to show that realistic science can be just as cool as anything cooked up by a Hollywood SFX team.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Martyr by Alan E. Nourse

"Rejuvenation for the millions—or rejuvenation for the five hundred lucky ones, the select ones, that can be treated each year? Tough, independent Senator Dan Fowler fights a one-man battle against the clique that seeks perpetual power and perpetual youth, in this hard-hitting novel by Alan E. Nourse. Why did it have to be his personal fight? The others would fumble it—they'd foul it up, Fowler protested. But why was he in the fight and what was to happen to Senator Fowler's fight against this fantastic conspiracy? Who would win?"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Infinite Intruder

"The Homicidal Diary" by Earl Peirce

"What strange compulsion drove an ordinarily gentle and cultured man, on one night of each week, to roam the city streets and commit a ghastly crime?"

Infinite Intruder by Alan E. Nourse

"When Roger Strang found that someone was killing his son—killing him horribly and often—he started investigating. He wasn't prepared to find the results of another investigation—this time about his own life."

Monday, February 8, 2010

A World Apart

"Collectivum" by Mike Lewis

"The Oren were one and their strength was legion. They had it all figured out, in their own parasitical, cold-blooded way. But they'd neglected one she-cat of a girl...."

"A World Apart" by Sam Merwin, Jr.

"Most men of middle age would welcome a chance to live their lives a second time. But Coulter did not."

"Where the World is Quiet" by Henry Kuttner

"Fra Rafael saw strange things, impossible things. Then there was the mystery of the seven young virginal girls of Huascan."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

DIY Phaser

Here are some step-by-step instructions for building your own working laser phaser pistol. I wonder how it would do against ice and snow...

[via The Website at the End of the Universe]

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Scale of the Universe

Here's a fantastic flash app by Newgrounds user Fotoshop that captures the truly mindboggling scale of the universe, from the microscopic to the inter-galactic. "Zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of spacetime and learn the scale of things along the way! Learn the size of the Pillars of Creation and marvel at the minuscule scale of a neutrino!"

[via Phil Plait]

Friday, February 5, 2010

Red Shirts

Teleport our team
To the blue planet below…
Wait! Wore my red shirt!

--- Mike Brotherton

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Astounding Stories (July, 1931)

The Doom from Planet 4 By Jack Williamson

"A Ray of Fire, Green, Mysterious, Stabs Through the Night to Dan on His Ship. It Leads Him to an Island of Unearthly Peril."

The Hands of Aten (A Complete Novelette.) By H. G. Winter (pseudonym)

"Out of the Solid Ice Craig Hews Three Long-Frozen Egyptians and Is at Once Caught Up into Amazing Adventure."

The Diamond Thunderbolt By H. Thompson Rich

"Locked in a Rocket and Fired into Space! Such Was the Fate which Awaited Young Stoddard at the End of the Diamond Trail!"

The Slave Ship From Space By A. R. Holmes (pseudonym)

"Three Kidnapped Earthlings Show Xantra of the Tillas How "Docile" Earth Slaves Can Be."

The Revolt of the Machines By Nat Schachner and Arthur L. Zagat

"Something in the Many-Faceted Mind of the Master Machine Spurs It to Diabolical Revolt Against the Authority of Its Human Masters."

The Exile of Time (Conclusion.) By Ray Cummings

"Only Near the End of the World Does Fate Catch Up with Tugh, the Cripple Who Ran Amuck Through Time."

The Planet with No Nightmare

"The Planet with No Nightmare" by Jim Harmon

"The creatures on the little planet were real bafflers. The first puzzler about them was that they died so easily. The second was that they didn't die at all."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Doctor Who and the Silver Spiral

When you think of hard sf you don't usually associate it with Doctor Who, but this piece of fan-fic by an astronomer has the Doctor and Martha witnessing supernova SN 2007gr firsthand. Definitely worth a read.

Doctor Who and the Silver Spiral

'Far across the universe, something big was about to happen. The explosion would outshine an entire galaxy and be visible billions of kilometers away. Its light would travel across the universe for millions of years but, aside from a few astronomers, it would go unnoticed on the Earth.

With a grating, wheezing noise, a small blue box flickered into existence.

"So, where are we?"
"Have a look..." the Doctor replied, tapping a control, "but... don't step outside."
The door of the TARDIS clicked open, and Martha gave him a quizzical look. "Why, what's out there?"
"Take a look" he said, a lopsided grin on his face.
Gingerly, she pulled open the door of the police box and looked out.
"Oh my God," exclaimed Martha. "Is that real?" She was looking out at a vast star-scape, hundreds of stars embedded in swirling clouds of gas, stretching out as far as she could see.
"What? Of course it's real!" he laughed, looking out over her shoulder.
"It's amazing! Where are we?"
"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." he quoted thoughtfully.
"Sorry. We're in a galaxy the local species call the 'Silver Spiral'. From Earth, it's a tiny, faint speck in the sky, somewhere in the constellation of Perseus. You'd never even notice it without a telescope. These stars are part of a cluster formed just a few million years ago, out in one of the spiral arms."
"It's beautiful. But... why are we here?"
"Why not?" he said. "Have you ever seen a star explode?!"
She stared at him.' 


[via i09]

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


"Telempathy" by Vance Simonds

"Suppose you really knew what everyone was feeling ... suppose you had a surefire way of predicting public reaction. Wouldn't you wonder, sometimes, if it could backfire."

Monday, February 1, 2010

More Pohl on Asimov

Frederik Pohl has posted another reminiscence about the early days of the U. S. sf scene and about Isaac Asimov. I can't get enough of this stuff.

"Around about then, both Isaac and I formed the habit of visiting science-fiction editors in their offices. Isaac concentrated on a single one, John Campbell, who had recently replaced F. Orlin Tremaine as editor of Astounding.

What Isaac did was write an actual story, leave it with Campbell and come back a month later to get the rejected manuscript (which he then mailed off to Amazing Stories, who bought it right away), along with a thirty-minute lecture on what Isaac did wrong and what he should have done right. So Isaac wrote a second story, trying to do it as Campbell had described. That got the same treatment; bounce with lecture from Campbell, acceptance by Amazing. And the third story was the charm. It was accepted by Campbell, as were scores of others over the next decades."

He also talks about how during WWII Asimov teamed up with Robert A. Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp to work at a Naval research facility. One of the comments nails it. "Hmmm . . . famous SF authors working on weird technologies . . . that would make a great SF series."

R.I.P. Kage Baker

Very sad news today that sf author Kage Baker has passed away. She's best known for her long running Company series of novels and stories about time travel and immortality. She also recently wrote a book for children, The Hotel Under the Sand (2009), and her fantasy novel The House of the Stag (2008) was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Not long ago she made public her battle with cancer, and it was known she had only a short time. The Green Man review has posted a letter from her sister, and Marty Halpern has posted an appreciation of her. My sympathy goes out to her family and friends.