Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Category: philosophical musings
by Charles Sheffield
Odyssey One: Into the Black
The names of craft
Beagle, Cassini–Huygens, Chang’e, Curiosity, Gaia, Galileo, GRAIL, Juno, Mariner, MAVEN, MESSENGER, Nozomi, Opportunity, OSIRIS-REx, Phoenix, Pioneer, Magellan, Voyager….
The golden age of Science Fiction
Depending on who you ask, the “Golden Age of Science Fiction,” is either “undisputedly,” or just “widely recognized” as the 1940’s (and possibly 50’s). Of course, one person’s Golden Age is another person’s capital-E Establishment, but historically, the 40’s and 50’s are the era when a younger generation of very talented writers weaned on the pulps and unafraid of speculative-fiction-that-incorporated-science took up pen or typewriter. Among them: Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Tom Godwin, and Isaac Asimov.
It is interesting that of the three biggies I review here (Clarke, Bradbury, and Asimov), Asimov was always my favorite, but (perhaps due to story choices?) this time around, I was much more impressed with Bradbury.
All of these writers are masters of creating fully-realized portraits of everyday life in the future, or on space stations, or the Moon, in very few words. Continue reading “The golden age of Science Fiction”
Pulp (Science) Fiction
Yeah. So. I might have been a little hasty in my prediction that all 30’s pulp sci fi would be melodramatic. Too much (over)exposure to Captain Proton. That said, the sci-fi of the 1930’s still seems to have an earnest straight-forwardness to it. That is, with the exception of minor details, it does not read as particularly revolutionary to the contemporary eye. But you know, neither does a Mondrian abstract painting.
Looked at from a purely 21st century perspective, your gut reaction to such paintings (or such short stories) is “So what? Lots of stuff looks like that.” Yes. These days. But then you glance at the year the painting or the story came out and contrast it with what passed as popular design or entertainment in its day, and the work is friggin’ revolutionary. Indeed, any one of these stories can be classed as a primordial example of what is now a common sci-fi trope. If H. G. Wells is the grandfather of modern science fiction, these writers are his sons:
Sit. Walk. Write: Natalie Goldberg’s “The True Secret of Writing”*
One of my New Year’s resolutions is less a resolution than an experiment. I am going to try to rid myself of one object, thing, trinket, machine, doodad, tchotchke, whatever a day for the next year.
There are not many people who would accuse me of having a cluttered house–I don’t think it’s cluttered–and yet, I still wonder what it would *feel like* to live in a house that isn’t full of what are basically useless distractions. Junk you save thinking it will “have a use someday” that sits there for years serving no purpose whatsoever, practical or aesthetic or entertainment.
The ground rules are pretty simple.
(1) The day’s discard can be one object (say, one issue of a magazine), or a group of objects (all issues of that magazine),
(2) It has to go in the recycling or be donated to a charity/or Good Will, unless it’s really truly biodegradable junk,
(3) It can’t be anything I’m getting rid of simply to replace it with a newer thing that performs the same function.
(4) It can’t be anything with a natural short life span, like fruit peels or paper towels.
So today’s Thing is
(1) a basket full of silk flowers and plants.
Review: The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
I enjoyed this book. If the goal was to bring me back to reading, and to feed my writing with eloquent words, then this book succeeded.
Who am I on social media?
Yes, this is me, yipping about social media again. ‘Cause it’s on my mind. And an article I read today got me thinking about how difficult it is for me to compose website blurbs, blog entries, Twitter tweets, and Facebook feebs. At least when I’m posting as an Author.
It’s a philosophical thing, you know: the marketed person is not the real person. Ask any celebrity.