Instead of my previous practice of putting off posting these for as long as I could, which resulted in massive, partly out-of-date links posts, I’m going to try posting smaller ones (ironically, this one is not much, if any, smaller) more frequently, aiming for every Wednesday. This may not last, but we’ll see how it goes. (Tempted to rename this the Hump Day Link Dump or the Hump Dump. No? How about Week Links?)
- xkcd: Newton’s Trajectories. Blacker than Dr. Strangelove, but it’s a cartoon.
- Supreme court sidesteps North Carolina dispute over Republican election maps | Reuters and Supreme Court favors Republicans in gerrymandering cases | Reuters. The articles kind of miss the point. This is not a (D) vs. (R) issue but an issue of a cowardly Supreme Court shoring up the status quo of unresponsive government and it hurts everyone.
- This Is NASA’s New Plan to Detect and Destroy Asteroids Before They Hit Earth. “Stop… or I’ll say stop again!” Still, at least it shows we’re becoming more aware of the problem after having goofed off for decades.
- Modern laser science brightened by 2,300-year-old technology — ScienceDaily. Archimedes, co-inventor of the tractor beam.
- Learning about the Himalayas using Mars technology — ScienceDaily. Reminds me of Monty Python. What has the space program ever done for Earth?
- Martian dust storm grows global: Curiosity captures photos of thickening haze — ScienceDaily. Speaking of Mars, this sort of thing makes it seem like a real place.
- New ‘e-dermis’ brings sense of touch, pain to prosthetic hands: Electronic ‘skin’ will enable amputees to perceive through prosthetic fingertips — ScienceDaily. Benefiting amputees, astronauts, robots, etc.
- Cosmic Engineering and the Movement of Stars. “The speculative buzz I get from this is science fictional indeed.”
- On Galactic Migration. The follow-up to the previous item. Recent stories at least somewhat kindred: “Cosmic Spring” by Ken Liu and “Discard the Sun, for It Has Failed Us” by Marina J. Lostetter. I gave both “honorable mentions” but I would like to see a more direct, more sharply-written, novelette/novella-length treatment.
- CRISPR could use gold nanoparticles to edit your brain | Popular Science. Great! You don’t have to suffer from compulsive behavior any more! Like thinking the wrong things, asking the wrong questions, or voting for the wrong people… or at all. But I do hope this is used for good, in which case it could be very cool.
- How Physics Lost Its Way – Scientific American Blog Network. I’m unfamiliar with Hossenfelder and pretty sure I’ve read something by Horgan I didn’t like at all. I also don’t agree at all that physics is necessarily “crashing into insurmountable limits” but I strongly agree that physicists are crashing into aesthetics when they should be doing science. I looked up Hossenfelder’s blog and have covered only a couple of posts but have already run into a key to one of the many crises of the world these days. On the “multiverse” not being falsifiable, she describes the renowned physicist Ben Carson comparing physics to fairy tales and makes the point that, “he shows what happens when scientists mix fact with fiction: Non-experts throw out both together.” I suspect her new book is required reading. I’m aiming to read it, anyway.
- Hayabusa 2 Arrives at Ryugu. Lucy in the sky with diamonds. (It also looks like two pyramids stuck together at their bases like a mirror image and then eroded for eons but, whatever you see in it, it’s very neat.)
- ‘Oumuamua: New Data Point to a Comet. It’s residual thrust from the aliens’ broken propulsion systems, right? No? Ah well, it’s an interesting piece anyway. Wish we’d have been able to go after it and study it like we’re studying Ryugu.
- Uncanny #18, September/October 2017 | SF MAGAZINES. A “fine wine” review, I suppose. Not prompt, but of high quality. It particularly notes the Prasad and Cooney stories on the positive side of the ledger (as I did individually, without writing up the entire issue) and the counter-productive ideological excesses on the negative side.
- Tyrannosaurus Ranch: In Praise of Form Rejection Letters. Some may appreciate this generally, but I was particularly struck by one element: “Now, some personal rejections can, in fact, help you revise the story into something more publishable. However, in order to give advice of that caliber and with that great detail, an editor is going to have to do some thinking–and thinking takes time. Time that editor could spend on reading more stories.” We certainly wouldn’t want editors thinking would we? What if John Campbell had spent time composing multi-page letters to authors? What if diamonds in the rough were polished rather than just being rejected (or, worse, accepted)? Why, we might have a Golden Age! I think Afsharirad is confusing editors with anthologists. Not every thing in this fast-paced world is better with speed and editors should take time to make authors and stories better. And there should be good proofreaders, too!
- Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and F&SF – Locus Online. Speaking of a guy who was both an anthologist and an editor. (Joe Haldeman has a great comment (seen at File 770) on what a real editor can do. Speaking of “The Hemingway Hoax,” he said Dozois “cut [the novel version] to shreds so he could run it as a novella in Asimov’s. He did so much damage to it that it won both the Hugo and Nebula.”) And Dozois was a reviewer, too! I’m not sure what the backlog on these is like, so don’t know if this is the first posthumous one or also the last ever, but reading it produces a weird feeling, either way. We certainly didn’t have the same taste but he just as certainly influenced me and it’s interesting to see that, in this particular review, he recommends a Clarkesworld story I was less impressed by but thought was clearly the most significant tale of the issue, the two stories he notes in Lightspeed were the ones I gave a recommendation and an honorable mention to, and my favorite story in the F&SF is the one he names the best. It all differs by degree and he’s much more positive about much more than I was but the point is that he influenced me (and a generation or two of readers) in many pervasive, indefinable ways.
- Black Gate » Black Gate Book Club, Downbelow Station, Fourth Discussion. The Union/Alliance conflict is growing and the panel is getting more excited.
- 1957-06-21 Berkeley Breathed
- 1977-06-21 Maria Dahvana Headley
- 1947-06-22 Octavia E. Butler
- 1936-06-23 Richard Bach
- 1964-06-23 Joss Whedon
- 1916-06-24 John Ciardi
- 1903-06-25 George Orwell
- 1935-06-25 Charles Sheffield
- 1954-06-26 James Van Pelt
Charles Sheffield wrote one of my favorite SF novels with Between the Strokes of Night. I know it’s been revised, but I only know the original version. He also wrote one of my favorite connected collections with The Compleat McAndrew. You can get started with “Killing Vector” and “Moment of Inertia” along with many other fine stories listed in the link. Butler is famous for her many novels and didn’t actually like to write stories much but she was extraordinarily good at it. Bloodchild and Other Stories is a masterpiece. Van Pelt has also written scads of noteworthy stories, including “Of Late I Dreamt of Venus.” I haven’t loved everything I’ve read by Headley, but, among those I have, “The Scavenger’s Nursery” made the biggest impression.
This is the week for stretches, too. Whedon is more visual but has created some of the best SF/F shows (and movies) around. Breathed‘s also a stretch, but Bloom County‘s among my top three comic strips. While Ciardi was a poet who wasn’t above writing limericks with Isaac Asimov and pseudonymously contributed two stories to F&SF, I appreciate him most as translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy, which is a giant medieval poem of epic fantasy. Bach is another who doesn’t seem “part of the club” but gets a mention anyway. He’s probably most famous for the talking animal fable Jonathan Livingston Seagull but Illusions was also a fantasy of interest. And, of course, Orwell‘s Orwell.
Former Pantera Drummer Vinnie Paul Dead At 54 – Blabbermouth.net. Sympathies to the Abbott family, again.
Pantera – “Clash with Reality”
Pantera – “Planet Caravan” (Black Sabbath)