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 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 CONTINUE READING

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

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I JUST HAD A ‘WHAT A COINCIDENCE’ MOMENT! They 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 vu can CONTINUE READING

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

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IF I SAID 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 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 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 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 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 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 not surprising 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 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. 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 for CONTINUE READING