WWWednesday; September 13, 2017

Obituary:

Jerry Pournelle, probably best known for his collaborations with Larry Niven, passed away on September 8. In addition to well-known books with Niven, Pournelle wrote a few by himself, and collaborated with writers like Michael Flynn, Dean Ng and S.M. Stirling. In later years, Pournelle shone as an editor, with anthologies like There Will Be War. SFWA’s obituary column can be found here. Cata Rambo, SFWA President, said that Pournelle was one of the founding donors of the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund, and remained very involved in its administration. Scores of SFWA writers who could not afford health coverage (even with the easing of that problem with the ACA) avoided bankruptcy and poverty because of the fund, and I admire his championship of it. Pournelle’s commitment to the field stand out and his influence will continue to ripple out.

Part of the wall of Old City Tallinn

Part of the wall of Old City Tallinn

Earth, Part One:

Our prayers, thoughts and good energy are with all the people in the paths of Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, Hurricane Katya and those were affected by the earthquake in Mexico. Tobias S. Buckell pulled together a list of donation-site links for help to the US and British Virgin Islands, and these links will provide help to people in Florida, courtesy of the Miami Herald.

You can donate here to help survivors of the earthquake in Mexico. I couldn’t find them on Charity Watch, but Charity Navigator gives them 4 stars.

Housekeeping:

There will be no column next week, September 20, because I will be out of town. Giveaways will also be delayed until September 24. I may have a few live-tweets from HawaiiCon, though.

Books and Writing:

Medieval scholars are banding together to set the record straight as white supremacist groups try to co-opt the Middle Ages. (And… Taylor Swift? Really?) Dorothy Kim writes a little more about it here.

Mari Ness introduces us to a 19th century writer who used familiar fairy tales to deliver social commentary on the status of women (and marriage).

Busker in Helsinki, near the waterfront.

Busker in Helsinki, near the waterfront.

What, no map? Nope, no map. That’s what Mark Lawrence says in his, well, rather stern blog post about why he won’t create maps for his fantasy novels. The word map, however, is pretty fun. (H/T to File 770.)

Speaking of maps, Charles over at Nerds of a Feather is embarking on a series in which he will “map” short SFF. He loves short SF fiction, and his definitions here are solid. Certainly people could quibble but for what he is planning to do, these categories work.

I had never heard of a hapax, but it’s a word that appears only once in an author’s body of work, or maybe in an entire language. I was fascinated by this article, but I do wonder if the majority of them appear to be singletons just because we haven’t uncovered enough of the ancient language (or the specific text). Still, food for thought.

This Comic Book Legal Defense Fund article shares a description of a school-sanctioned/encouraged mass burning of comic books on the school grounds in the 1950s. Comic books are dangerous things and must be destroyed, so let’s hand the 13-year-old a book of matches, because what can possibly go wrong? It’s slightly reassuring that back then some adults spoke out against this, too vividly remembering the mass book-burnings in Nazi Germany.

This article from Strange Horizons is a couple of months old. It discusses the development of the female werewolf in fiction. Check out the comments for a link to an article about Salu’ah, an Arabian she-werewolf.

A mysterious old book, the Voynich manuscript, has finally been decoded, and it turns out to be… crib notes for a medical textbook. Well, I’m over-simplifying. It’s really more interesting than that. Near the end of the article is a link to some jpegs, and check out those images. They are amazing.

This is a thoughtful, emotional essay on colonialism of many kinds. It isn’t genre. It packs a punch. By the way, while the essay ends on a suspenseful, questioning note, the writer is doing much better.

New Releases:

Tim is waiting for Book of Swords, edited by Gardner Dozois, although, he says, he’s really looking forward to Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage. Check out upcoming books here.

Tech:

MIT and IBM are teaming up in a $240 million partnership with the intent of dominating AI.

Movies and TV:

Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to the original film. Here is the second trailer.

Blade Runner, 2036; Nexus Dawn, a six-minute movie is a prequel to the sequel. I already don’t like that arrogant guy with the beard.

Earth, Part Two:

But wait! There may be still more natural disasters on the way! A bunch of magazines found out about the super volcano underneath Yellowstone (it wasn’t a secret) and there was a spate of articles last week about a possible eruption and global disaster. I picked

Helsinki Central Terminal, detail.

Helsinki Central Terminal, detail.

this one, because even though on the doom-and-gloom scale it was the worst (Christmas is canceled!), it had a neat section on the possibility of harnessing heat from the volcano to provide energy. That is nifty, even if all the Cheetos will be gone by Christmas.

Nicola Griffith writes about the tomb of a Viking warrior, recently proven to be female.

This restaurant gives away books with meals. Okay, now I have to go there.

Canny hotels in Europe have started offering companions for lonely nights in hotel rooms. No, not that kind of companion. Haven’t you often thought to yourself, “What this hotel room needs is a goldfish?” Hotels in Brussels and one or two in Britain will bring a fish bowl and a fish to your room for an additional charge.

Photos:

I am still inflicting vacation photos on you, and there might be more coming. And I’m not sorry.

 


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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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3 comments

  1. I always find it funny when people suddenly discover that there’s a caldera/super-volcano under Yellowstone — where do they think the geysers and hot springs come from??

    • These articles always have the tone of, “You’ll be shocked to learn that…” I think it must be a slowish news week for them and someone says, “Wait! there’s that supervolcano in Yellowstone!”

      The idea of tapping it for heat and energy is great, though.

      • Tapping it for heat/energy is a great idea so long as it can be done safely and without spurring more earthquakes (ahem, fracking).

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