on writing about knights and jousting with darragh metzger

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THE TRAILER for the 2001 movie A Knight’s Tale did not im­press us, but four­teen years later a friend brought the DVD over so we were obliged to sit through it. The star, Heath Ledger, had im­pressed us in his tour de force as the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008). With the silly trailer still in CONTINUE READING

on poul anderson’s brain wave

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I FOUND MY AGING COPY of Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave when I dis­cov­ered Joachim Boaz’s site Sci­ence Fic­tion and Other Sus­pect Ru­mi­na­tions. I read Joachim’s take on Poul Anderson’s novel — he con­sid­ered it “vaguely good” — and the com­ments sub­mit­ted by his read­ers and I dis­agreed with cer­tain ob­ser­va­tions of theirs. So, I want to ad­dress a few of those CONTINUE READING

yet more on science fiction and fantasy (is this modern science fiction part 6?)

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I JUST HAD A ‘WHATCOINCIDENCEMOMENTThey are not all that dis­sim­i­lar from deja vu mo­ments, ex­cept the some­times slightly scary feel­ing that ac­com­pa­nies the lat­ter is rarely part of the for­mer. When co­in­ci­dence oc­curs to me, I am usu­ally de­lighted, rarely fright­ened into be­liev­ing some form of pre-determinism, as deja CONTINUE READING

modern science fiction and the gimme part 5 – on modern fantasy and the gimme

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IFSAID that all ‘mod­ern’ fan­tasy can be traced to one au­thor and one story, J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord Of The Rings, few would ar­gue. While afi­ciona­dos and his­to­ri­ans can make ar­gu­ments for the in­flu­ence of Lord Dun­sany, James Branch Ca­bell, and oth­ers, al­most all the well-known fan­tasy ti­tles of the past four CONTINUE READING

modern science fiction and the gimme part 4 – on various genres and the gimme

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THIS IS THE FOURTH of five es­says (all ti­tled “mod­ern sci­ence fic­tion and the gimme part 4” or 3 or 1) ad­dress­ing as­pects of the ac­knowl­edged “laws” of plot­ting and story-telling in mod­ern sci­ence fic­tion. It is not nec­es­sary to have read the first two parts to un­der­stand this part. Here are a few very brief, easy-to-understand CONTINUE READING

modern science fiction and the gimme part 3

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I CAME OF AGE as a reader of sci­ence fic­tion in the late 1960s and early ’70s. My ex­po­sure to what was hap­pen­ing in sci­ence fic­tion was lim­ited, as I was never in­volved in any or­ga­nized fan­dom. For me, the early ’70s was spent turn­ing on tun­ing in drop­ping out, protest­ing the war, ex­pand­ing my con­scious­ness, and CONTINUE READING

modern science fiction and the gimme part 2 – on the rule of the gimme

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ALL FANTASTICAL LITERATURE de­pends on a state of be­ing known as the ‘will­ful sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief.’ That is, the reader en­ters the story pre­pared to toss all skep­ti­cism aside for the sake of the story! This term was coined by Samuel Tay­lor Co­leridge in 1817 in his Bi­ographia lit­er­aria (or ‘bi­o­graph­i­cal sketches of my lit­er­ary life’) and opin­ions he CONTINUE READING

modern science fiction and the gimme part 1 – on certain laws of science fiction

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THIS IS THE FIRST OF FIVE in­ter­con­nected es­says on ‘mod­ern’ sci­ence fic­tion and fan­tasy. They are in­tended to be read as a piece when all five are posted over the next week. This es­say started off as an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into two as­pects of sci­ence fic­tion based on MY mem­o­ries con­cern­ing the field, most of them from CONTINUE READING

the most consistently able writer science fiction has yet produced

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FREDERIK POHL—sci­ence fic­tion au­thor, for which he won a Hugo and a Neb­ula (Gate­way, 1977) and the only Na­tional Book Award given in a one-year cat­e­gory for that genre (Gem, 1980); ed­i­tor (for which he won seven Hu­gos (Galaxy and If mag­a­zines, 1962-1969); lit­er­ary agent (who helped get Isaac Asimov’s first novel CONTINUE READING

how many inter-neuronic connections are there in the human brain?

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MAYBE YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND how com­plex a struc­ture the hu­man brain is. Be­lieve me, it makes the side­real uni­verse look like a child’s build­ing set. There are many times more pos­si­ble inter-neuronic con­nec­tions than there are atoms in the en­tire cos­mos — the fac­tor is some­thing like ten to the power of sev­eral mil­lion.

It’s CONTINUE READING

isaac asimov on american anti-intellectualism and ignorance

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ISAAC ASIMOV was one of America’s great­est in­tel­lec­tu­als, and a pro­lific writer: he au­thored or edited more than 500 books! His in­ter­ests were all over the map, but he is gen­er­ally known as one of sci­ence fiction’s most ac­com­plished writ­ers.

His Foun­da­tion Tril­ogy of nov­els is con­sid­ered a clas­sic of sci­ence fic­tion, must-reads for any se­ri­ous CONTINUE READING

catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world

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I WAS MOTIVATED to dig up my old copy of Poul Anderson’s novel Brain Wave when I dis­cov­ered Joachim Boaz’s site Sci­ence Fic­tion and Other Sus­pect Ru­mi­na­tions. I read Joachim’s take on the An­der­son book (he con­sid­ered it “vaguely good”) and the com­ments sub­mit­ted by his read­ers and I dis­agreed with cer­tain ob­ser­va­tions of theirs. So, I want to ad­dress CONTINUE READING

norman spinrad walks among us

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IN 1969, I MET NORMAN SPINRAD. Well, met him in the sense that I dis­cov­ered his nov­els while I was work­ing at Leo Matus’s news­stand. Leo car­ried to­bacco, mag­a­zines, and sun­dries and was lo­cated on Pub­lic Square — smack dab in the mid­dle of Wilkes-Barre in North­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia. He had a cou­ple of spin­ners with racks CONTINUE READING