Yet another title for this type of post. Not sure if anyone got the pun of the previous title, anyway. Going for simplicity now.

From The History Blog

As a bit of WWII history buff as a kid, to the point of going beyond history and reading a couple of novels about the 633 Squadron and so on, I was particularly interested in the Mosquito article. And, even for Greece, the Mycenaean tomb article was neat.

More History

I may have picked this up from the Chronicles posting board. As much as it drives me nuts to think of ancient writings being scribbled over, at least they weren’t always utterly destroyed and we’re making greats strides in finding and deciphering them. This is a particularly impressive example.

On Gerrymandering

I forgot to include the math link when I posted a bunch of anti-gerrymandering links recently. This was ironically one of the most important links because something like this is How It Should Be Done, with no bias but a simple, abstract, fair implementation. Whereas the second link is How Things Are Actually Done. Ridiculous.

From Centauri Dreams

RIP, Cassini. Weird to be sort of jealous of a machine (I mean, not now, but previously) but think of what it got to see with its own “eyes.” And think of all the folks who have spent some or all of the past 13, 20, or more years of their lives on this project. Indeed, thank you.


This link is another belated posting, as I came across it long after it was posted in 2015 but still quite awhile ago. I dunno about the title and I think some of its case may be overstated but I do appreciate the time and effort taken by the book which quantifies women’s involvement with SF and this article which discusses it. I find my own experience (both direct and indirect) to be somewhere in the middle but closer to this. One of the many threads of science fiction, to me, was always about proposing societies counter to our own and addressing gender and race and other issues in an often egalitarian (and often far more subtle and artistic) way. I do not recognize the picture of the field drawn by current revisionist history. Whatever their beliefs, I just think people should expose themselves to both points of view. And I, personally, still believe that science fiction should be celebrated as a pioneering, positive force rather than denigrated.

And now some conceivably thematic tunes…

Continue reading


Rec: “Though She Be But Little” by C. S. E. Cooney

Though She Be But Little” by C. S. E. Cooney, Uncanny #18 September/October 2017, fantasy short story

One day the sky turns silver and the Earth is magically transformed. For instance, sixty-five-year-old Mrs. Santiago becomes fierce eight-year-old Emma Anne. In this story, we follow Emma Anne and her sentient stuffed animals, her pirate frenemy, and her efforts to deal with the scary, deadly, mantis-like Loping Man.

Oh, he was enormous, colossal, an armored giant, but so very terribly compactable. Yes, and maybe that was where he went all day. Not away, but down, folded into leaf and twig and compound eyes, origamied into torpor.

Yes, verbing weirds language—sometimes to great effect.

This is very much like “Gallows Girl,” which I recently recommended, in that it may reduce to a “stick it to the man/grrrl power” theme (with an ambivalent connection between two female figures) but is also wrapped in a wonderfully inventive confection of imagination climaxing in a violent confrontation. However, it is nothing like it insofar as the imaginative details are different and this story has a great deal more whimsy, exhilaration, and lightness of touch. I enjoyed both in their ways.

Rec: “Little /^^^\&-” by Eric Schwitzgebel

Little /^^^\&-” by Eric Schwitzgebel, Clarkesworld #132 September 2017, SF short story

The title refers to the perhaps central protagonist of this tale. That protagonist has been exiled from her community of galactic sentiences because, being young and headstrong, she disagrees with the plan to turn the galaxy into a black hole. (Arthur Dent had similar, if smaller, problems.) So she’s herded out to the ass end of the galaxy and chained to an insignificant star where she notices some monkeys on the third rocky thing orbiting it and, after amusing herself by pocketing the rock’s moon, there follows a very strange tale, from dizzying heights, of her monkey contact and its galactic and greater-than-galactic consequences.

This is a story where the heresy of paraphrase really applies. Everything about the synopsis is true enough in its way but really does nothing to convey the casual scale and calm frenzy of this tale or the way it dives into part of the core of SF and makes it new. (This includes the idea that the vast universe contains a tiny lump of gray matter which contains that universe, as well as the one expressed by this great line (don’t click it until you’ve read the story).) Granted, the names of the characters may seem off-putting and/or gimmicky but they do at least serve to emphasize the remoteness of the beings. Basically, this story makes your head bigger and your mood lighter and the author entertains like a magician with something of substance up his sleeve.

Summation of Online Fiction: August 2017

The last of the dog days caused Clarkesworld‘s recent hot streak of good issues in June and July (rivaling the January issue) to come to an end (apparently because August doesn’t begin with a “J”). compensated by going on a torrid streak of their own. Nature was also perhaps above average and, while Apex didn’t produce anything particularly noteworthy, the whole issue, guest edited by Amy H. Sturgis, was better than usual. All in all, this month’s forty-six stories (of which I read 44 of 218K words)[1] produced plenty of decent reading. What follows are links to the stories I thought were the best and to the notes posted throughout the month which explain why I thought that.

(As usual, links are split into Recs and HMs, then into SF and F, and then alphabetized by title. Honorable mentions, not having full recs, are summarized briefly at the end of this post.)


Science Fiction


Honorable Mentions:

Science Fiction


“First Date” is a tough sell to me, being a post-modern first-contact short-short. It has a conceptual problem (telepathic linguists?), and is otherwise almost completely dependent on its tone for success or failure but the tone worked for me. “Martian” is basically a well-written fantasy which I called “retro-pseudo-AltHist ‘SF'” (and Greg Hullender concisely and charitably called a “pastiche”) in a fuller description at the end of the Egan recommendation. The first of the Compelling stories is a sort of “Ender’s Game meets Total Recall” and the second is not exactly Asimov’s “The Last Question” but is a quick tour through deep time and immense space. “Ink” uses an American hemophiliac philatelist in Italy to perhaps tell us about history and self. And “Plain Jane” took me to an apocalyptic church knitting circle and made me laugh.

[1] Edit (2017-09-04): I discovered Strange Horizons had posted a story out of their usual weekly sequence, so read it and also read one of the previously unread stories for Tangent, so the monthly totals were forty-seven stories, of which I read forty-six of 227K words.