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Showing posts from August, 2017

It's Mary Shelley's 220th Birthday

Born in Somers Town, London, United Kingdom, in 1797, her story, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus , lives on in a million minds. It is amazing how much it is quoted in film and fiction. It's a very effective archetype, the artificial/undead monster given life by an egotistical human seizing divine power. I recently saw a similar revisiting of the theme by Alex Garland in Ex Machina. "Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world."

Hugo Awards: Women > Sad Puppies

After several years of political influence that resulted in No Award votes for the Hugo Awards, this year's were largely uncontroversial, but the results were surprising to many who are not paying attention to SFF. A picture is better to convey the information: Also, N.K. Jemisin who just finished The Broken Earth trilogy. Her series won the Hugo Award last year and this year. Her release this year has a great chance too: n-k-jemisin-broken-earth-trilogy-the-stone-sky-fantasy-book-review Good writing advice: Putting a one-dimensional character of a marginalized background into a story is bad writing, and also tokenism. If the one-dimensionality adheres to common stereotypes, then it's bad writing and also harmful.

Cinder, a hero story in the future from the past, by Marissa Meyer (4 star recommendation)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer My rating: 4 of 5 stars Marissa Meyer writes fairy tales in a dystopian future of high technology and little hope. Cinder, the protagonist, is a homologue of Cinderella. We have a Prince, an evil stepmother, and other aspects of the famous tale, but the original story is used as a device to articulate a much larger narrative, a story of terrifying danger, not only for the protagonist but all of humanity. I really like what the author has done, especially the technical aspects that are at once ultramodern and, yet, full of the same quirks as our world that keep the maintenance people in business--a good thing since our protagonist is a mechanic. The world-building is intriguing, but what I most enjoyed was the sarcastic wit of the protagonist. All of this helps build a likable character, and it works very well. It's even more than the story. The book challenges assumptions about race and a woman's role in a fantasy setting. Our protagonist is a heroic

Wild Cards - Edited by George R. R. Martin

Wild Cards by George R.R. Martin My rating: 3 of 5 stars A mosaic novel where after an alien virus is exploded over New York City (and into the jet stream), society has a parallel force of Aces and Jokers, victims/beneficiaries of the virus. What's coolest (for me) is the way actual events were woven into the story: the McCarthy HUAD hearings, the protest against Viet Nam, Watergate... All in all, it's pretty cool. The stories, however, are uneven: 1. Prologue: a solid piece that explains how Tachyon arrives on Earth. 2. Thirty Minutes Over Broadway! (Waldrop): Even though the story is dark, it taps into the heroic genre. Jetboy is a larger-than-life hero worshipped by the people. The maniac dispersing a virus over New York City rings a lot different now (post 9/11) than when it was written. Consequently, I was really pulling for Jetboy’s success, though, of course, that would have made for a short series. ;-) 3. The Sleeper (Roger Zelazny): One of my favorites in the collec

Vernal Falls

One of the first places Denise and I went together was Vernal Falls in Yosemite. At the end of the trail is a climb to the top of the 318-foot waterfall. It takes almost as long to climb to the top of the fall as it does to reach the start of the switchbacks. I'm not sure how far we went before turning back. The rocks were slick, and we weren't in great shape, smoking, etc. I remember the amazing view, though. It was something like this: I'm posting a contour map too. You can see how the two trails diverge. The trail climbs more steeply when the contour lines are closer:

Getting Ready for the Solar Eclipse

So, with the solar eclipse arriving on 8/21/2017, the first thing you should remember is never to look directly at The Sun, even during the eclipse. There are commercial solar glasses available, but before you buy, make sure the lenses you purchase are really certified. There is an onslaught of counterfeit vendors of solar glasses now. Also, note that looking at The Sun through a film (developed or undeveloped), polarized glass, or (even the best) sunglasses is NOT SAFE. Even if some light is blocked, there is a full electromagnetic spectrum that your retinae are exposed too. There is, however, an excellent (and cheap) way of observing the passage of The Moon across The Sun. The simplest version requires two pieces of paper or cardboard: How to make an inexpensive projector to safely watch the progress of the eclipse. Also, you want to be mobile in case the weather changes. Be flexible with your plans. Get whe