The Dep’t of Terminology Strikes Back

By John Hertz: (from a letter to Roger Wells)  I have heard a lot about the acronym STEM for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  Your mention of STEAM adding Art prompted a little research in which I found the campaign “STEM to STEAM” which would add Art & Design, sponsored by the Rhode Island School of Design, 2 College St., Providence, RI 02905.  The school’s name ought, I suppose, to recall my childhood sorrow, tinged with relief, when after reading Jack Williamson’s 1947 masterpiece “With Folded Hands” I learned that known science had no support for rhodomagnetics; the author, who knew much, may have known the coincidence of his name with the founder of Rhode Island – and you are another Roger.

Before I went to law school I was already an amateur terminologist; since, I have also been a professional terminologist.  Art has had a strange life.  Art & Design may be better than our habit of saying at science fiction conventions we have a Writer Guest of Honor and an Artist Guest of Honor; writing is, or had better be, art.  The division “science, technology, engineering” is strange: I’ve tried to learn from engineers why they don’t consider themselves scientists; but what about technology?  What about George Sarton’s superb observation – and he should know – “The advancement of knowledge has been made possible by increasing accuracy of measurement” (e.g. Six Wings p. 78, 1957)?  I’d not suggest separating art, or art and design, from science, technology, engineering, mathematics; nor opposing the promotion of all or any: but what can be meant by a name that purports to comprise the five of them – if they are five? A campaign to remind many that the real joys of life are crippled by continuing to live in schoolday disgusts?

You’ll have noticed that Scott Kelly’s valuable Endurance, though it has poetry, and names Barber, Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, and Tchaikovsky – putting Mozart first! – does not explicitly explore art.  This is not the only reason, though you may consider it indicative, why I’m nominating instead for Best Related Work his aimed-at-children version My Journey to the Stars illustrated by both photographs (Endurance has some – another ill-acknowledged art) and André Ceolin’s drawings.

Speaking of Hopkins

By John Hertz:  In a note celebrating the 40th anniversary of File 770 (January 6th) and 10th of File770.com (January 15th), I mentioned Gerard Manley Hopkins and even quoted him, but I didn’t bring him to you (or should that be the other way around?)

Since then he’s been on my mind. Did I do him a disservice?  Or you?

My mother introduced me to a New York cousin, Selma Jeanne Cohen (1920-2005; we were thus also related to SJC’s uncle Benjamin V. Cohen), whom I met while living there, and knew as the editor of Dance Perspectives; at length she found a publisher for her International Encyclopedia of Dance (Oxford Univ. Press, 6 vols. 1998), I even helping with a few articles.  I never knew, I stupidly never learned, she too had been enkindled by Hopkins.  He was the subject of her doctoral dissertation.

Hopkins, a superb poet and one of the most original, was a Jesuit priest, in whose devotion poetry and religion were mutually illuminating, I think I may say inseparable; which SJC, no more a Christian than I am, indeed just as little, found no more daunting than I (nor maybe you, I dare hope, if you happen not to share Hopkins’ faith; if you do share it, may such conjoined inspiration never fail you).

As SJC says beginning “Hopkins’ ’As Kingfishers Catch Fire’” (1877; superb poem, and superbly Christian), a 1950 Modern Language Quarterly piece (v. 11 p. 197), “to consider Hopkins’ lyrics only as restatements of doctrine is to neglect a part of the art [surely an intended chime; see her article] of poetry as he conceived it,” going on to alliteration, internal rhyme, and his coruscations of sound and sense, not neglecting to quote Duns Scotus (MLQ v. 11 at p. 201 n. 17).

Earlier, in the lead article of the January 1947 Philological Quarterly (v. 26 p. 1), “The Poetic Theory of Gerard Manley Hopkins”, she quotes his “Poetry is speech framed for the contemplation of the mind by way of hearing or speech framed to be heard for its own sake and interest even above meaning” (PQ v. 26 at pp. 18-19), going on to sprung rhythm (as he called it).

In case you don’t know Hopkins here’s the start of another fine poem, “The Windhover” (also 1877).  Marking each metrical foot and accent would illustrate what he meant by sprung rhythm, and its extra unstressed syllables he called outriders; even without, by the second line you’ll see.  These eight lines are the octet of a sonnet: but what a sonnet!

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-

dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding

Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding

High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing

In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,

As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding

Rebuffed the big wind.  My heart in hiding

Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

I once told a friend The greater the reality, the better the fantasy.  Or should that be the other way around?

                                            

Much of this material appeared in Vanamonde 1284.

So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes, and into glory creep

By John Hertz: Happening to read D. Hoffman, The Billion-Dollar Spy (2015; Adolf Tolkachev 1927-1986), I came across this striking passage (p. 163) about the subject’s son in 1981.

Oleg … a teenager [1966-  ] … interests ran … toward … arts, culture, music, and design….  attended a special school that emphasized English instruction.  He was already reading Kipling and Asimov

– my emphasis.  There’s glory for you!

                                            

[Title ref.] H. Vaughan, “They Are All Gone into the World of Light”, Silex Scintillans [“The Flashing Flint”] 2nd ed. 1655, no. 1; L. Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass ch. 6 (1871)

Happy 10th Birthday,
File 770 Blog

We’ve reached the second bookend of File 770’s 10/40 anniversary celebration.

As I said about the zine in the first post here on the File 770 blog

You never know how long a fanzine will be around. When the first pages rolled out of the mimeograph in January 1978, I decided it was premature to order personalized [File 770] license plates. But by now, the zine has outlasted 5 cars.

And just as surprisingly, the blog itself has reached the age of 10 today.

It might still be one of fandom’s best-kept secrets if not for John King Tarpinian’s January 2015 article “Viewing the Remains of Bradbury’s Home” and his photographs of the Bradbury home teardown that touched the hearts of all the fans who still hadn’t finished mourning Ray. John’s post became File 770’s most viewed up to that time (and is still in second place, behind “Sunday Business Meeting at Sasquan.”) It made more readers familiar with File 770 as a news source, preparing the way for the rapid audience expansion that happened when I started daily roundups of Sad/Rabid Puppy news.

I actually did those for only three months (and the titles people came up with launched another tradition). But the commenter community that grew out of them inspired me to invent the daily Pixel Scrolls, fan news and pop culture roundups, so we continue to have issues to discuss and ideas to play with.

Of the dozens of frequent contributors I owe thanks to, I especially want to remember John Hertz, who spans so many times and cultures in his writing; JJ, for vast review projects; Chris Barkley, a passionate fannish advocate; and Carl Slaughter, whose interviews help steer this blog toward its polestar interest in sff.

I’ll also never forget the late James H. Burns, who specialized in reminding us that fandom is fun. Usually his posts here were inspired by memories of “growing up fannish,” such as the very popular Once, When We Were All Scientists, and CLANKY!. But Jim was especially proud of a trio of posts that paid tribute to the influence of his father — My Father, And The Brontosaurus, Sons of a Mesozoic Age, and World War II, and a Lexicon in Time.

Thanks to all of you who contribute a review, a filk, a cat photo, or in some other way use your creative abilities to energize the conversation at File 770.

Lastly, thanks to Camestros Felapton for creating this birthday video —

Two Doors

By John Hertz:  In our calendar – there are others – the first month, January, is named after the Latin word for a door (ianua), since it is the door of the year.  Its birthstone is the garnet, symbol of constancy.

Two doors opened for us this month, the fanzine File 770, whose 40th birthday is January 6, 2018, and its electronic pseudopod, the Weblog File 770, whose 10th birthday is January 15th.  Fanzines and Weblogs come and go; this is an extraordinary constancy, worth celebrating.  Indeed here we are.

The name File 770 is a joke, like many things around here.  If you don’t know it, you can look in the “About” section.

Those of us in or familiar with the United States know Our Gracious Host deserves a 10/40 anniversary if anyone does.  He might prefer we not associate this numeration with motor oil, but consideration may show his merit in reducing friction of moving parts, which would waste useful power by converting kinetic energy to heat, and by wear lead to lower efficiency and degradation.

I’ve contributed in one way or another to File 770 for a while.  You have too – even if you haven’t been sending in much.  Those also serve who only sit and read.

However, File 770 is a newszine, so do send the news.  In fandom (as a teacher of mine used to say in another context) the difference is the participation.  Over the years OGH has grown unsurprised when people evidently think “Oh, Glyer must already have heard” and no one tells him.

I asked him if there was anything in particular he hoped from me for this occasion.  He kindly suggested I think whether there was any poetry, Chinese or otherwise, I could comment on.

“Otherwise” is usually good for me.

I was going to quote “Pied Beauty”. What could be more fannish than glory in all things counter, original, spare, strange; whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how)?

In my college days, which partly by my own doing were counter, original, spare, strange, I began with credit from Advanced Placement exams, so in my first year I took fourth-year English.

It was Antioch – not the one on the Orontes, nor on the Sacramento; nor had we a Crusader or a Killer Rabbit – and I should have realized that the teacher might be counter, original, spare, strange, or that we might waste useful power by converting kinetic energy to heat, and by wear lead to lower efficiency and degradation.  However, I was thus introduced to Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), and the end crowns all.

But Hopkins was a theist; indeed, a Christian, indeed, a Jesuit.  He wrote “Pied Beauty” the year he was ordained a priest.  Of course he wrote God in, the third word and the last, the beginning and end.  Never mind what I believe, or what OGH may believe, why should I put you to the trouble, in case you don’t, of transposing some fellow’s poetry into a different key you’re happier to sing in?

On another hand, if nothing like that may ever be, good-bye diversity.

So let’s go to China.

There the flower of January is the plum.  It starts to bloom around now, and is particularly beautiful in the snow (there isn’t any where I’m writing, or in Australia & New Zealand – I really should do my DUFF Report — but you may have plenty).  It symbolizes resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity.  It lives long; Huang-mei County in Central China is said to have a 1,600-year-old plum which is still flowering.  Here are two plums of Chinese poetry.

Both are anthologized in the Ch‘ien-chia-shih; not literally “A Thousand Poems by Masters” or “A Thousand Masters’ Poems”, it’s two hundred poems by a hundred poets, “eminently useful in teaching … the rhythms of the language and also the heart….  the most-quoted poems in the Chinese language….  for the past eight centuries, it has been the most-memorized collection of verse in China and part of every student’s education” (p. 5 of the 2003 edition I’m using, called Poems of the Masters). There’s diversity for you.

These two, in the original, are each four 5-character lines.

About No. 11, by Ho Chih-chang (659-744), the translator notes: “Although he served [as] vice-minister of the Ministry of Rites and director of the Palace Library, he was better known for his clever conversation and love of drinking.  Tu Fu [712-770, possibly the greatest Chinese poet] included him among the Eight Immortals of Wine” (p. 28; the Chinese is given too, the translator showing his work).

We’ve never met good sir
I stopped because of the woods and stream
don’t worry about buying wine
I have some coins in my purse

About No. 6, by Li Pai (701-762; also known as Li Po; the other main candidate, with Tu Fu), we’re told: “He wrote this poem … in Hsuan-cheng … south of Nanching….  Chingting Mountain … five kilometers northwest … was only 300 meters high … known for its crags and cliffs….  water represents wisdom … mountains represent compassion” (pp. 16-17).

Flocks of birds disappear in the distance
lone clouds wander away
who never tires of my company
only Chingting Mountain

Some have translated it differently – there’s Chinese poetry for you – one taking it as Ch‘an Buddhism (or if you prefer, Zen) saying the poet sat until only the mountain remained.  You could.

This translator, quite familiar with such things, said only (only!) “poetry…. summarized the subtleties of the Chinese vision of reality….  in the palace, in the street, in every household, every inn, every monastery, in every village square” (p. 3).

So be it.  Happy New Year.

My Life at Loscon, Episode 44

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1277-79) Loscon XLIV (“Los Angeles s-f convention”, our local con; sponsored by LASFS the L.A. Science Fantasy Society) was held on United States Thanksgiving weekend, this year 24-26 Nov, at the L.A. Int’l Airport Marriott Hotel in its ongoing renovations. Pro Author Guest of Honor Carrie Vaughan; Graphic Artist, Howard Chaykin; Mass Media, Jane Espenson; Fans, Kevin Roche & Andrew Trembley. Attendance about 900.

The Rotsler Award, named for Bill Rotsler and given annually for long-time wonder-working with graphic art in amateur publications of the s-f community, is announced at Loscon, with an exhibit of the winner’s work in the Art Show. The current judges are Mike Glyer (since inception, 1998), Sue Mason (since 2015), and me (since 2003). Tech wizard Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink helped me build an exhibit for this year’s winner, Jeanne Gomoll.

We included some of her work for Janus and its successor Aurora; Chunga; the Tiptree Award. The Rotsler is sponsored by the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (yes, that spells SCIFI; pronounced “skiffy”).

I led three Classics of S-F book discussions, trying to rouse consideration of the books, letting go for the moment their “messages”, “relevance”, politics, authors’ lives, which need no help from me, and can even constitute a distraction. When you’re trying to grow wheat, a rose is a weed.

Friday at 1:30 p.m., a reading-aloud session with Will Morton. He and I had done this before and agreed to do it again. He thought we might as well read from this year’s three Classics, to which I’d no objection. Few present had read or heard of them; none had looked at the con Website or here to see what they might be: we asked; people said they’d come to our reading-alouds before, or had heard they were fun.

Will and I took turns. Between excerpts we talked of this great but now somewhat neglected art. From the audience, “I’m a teacher; I read to students; I’d never thought of reading to adults” who were quite capable of it for themselves.

Four p.m., Herland (C. Perkins Gilman, 1915; my note in Vanamonde 1242 is reprinted here). Some folks had copies of the book in hand.

In it three men find a land populated only by women for two millennia; a woman bore a daughter parthenogenetically, which bred true: we were willing to suppose that plausible as of 1915. The visitors keep discovering that various “natural” customs or tendencies are treated otherwise or don’t exist: men’s nature, not human nature.

Did the author make a story of this sermon? If so, how? There isn’t much conflict, but there’s event; there’s looking for this led us to look for that and we tried this which didn’t work so we turned to that; there are distinct viewpoints; the characters change; and there’s a light, sometimes comic touch. As I’d hoped, women in the discussion were very helpful.

Regency Dancing, which always reminds me of I learned much from my teachers, more from my students. Sometimes I can open the door of dance for those to whom it seemed closed; as a fan I’m fascinated by cross-cultural contact: John Campbell and Larry Niven have both said the heart of s-f is Minds as good as you but different.

This period two hundred years ago, a short span in human history, is different enough from us that trying to dance as in its ballrooms (why? see e.g. my article in Mimosa 29 “The English Regency and Me”) amounts to meeting aliens. Its ideal was the co-dominium – Jerry Pournelle had to coin this word because condominium meant something else – of elegance and ease, to us so nearly unimaginable that we instinctively throw one or the other away.

Just before, while I was amid costume adventures, was the Ice Cream Social. The con committee scheduled a filk concert by Lee & Barry Gold. This while a fine idea in itself was also a ruse to bring Barry where he could be presented suitably with the Evans-Freehafer, LASFS’ annual service award. Lee had been given it some years earlier.

Saturday 11:30 a.m., a memorial to Pournelle, Len Wein, Milt Stevens, whom I list and whom we considered in their order of departure. Niven said Pournelle “was the shaping guy when we wrote together; I just came up with stuff.” That was not the time for me to say False modesty is not a virtue. Pournelle used to say “Niven writes better, I plot better.”

Laura Frankos told of sharing with Wein a love of Broadway musicals, a tribute from one whose knowledge of them is almost measureless. I told of Stevens’ career in fanzines. Nick Smith in the audience said, with him the art of conversation was important. I seeing Craig Miller about to hand over the microphone begged “Will you please talk about co-chairing a Worldcon with him?” False modesty is not a virtue.

Milt Stevens and Craig Miller, L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon, 1984

Half past two, Citizen of the Galaxy (R. Heinlein, 1957). From the audience, “It’s fast-paced.” I asked, how does he do that? Another: “It’s really four novellas.” We discussed whether there was a single story; as A.J. Budrys used to say, Always ask “Why are they telling us this?”

The vividness of the slave market illumines Leda’s relationship with John Weemsby when she tries to tell Thorby there isn’t any slavery. Although she can’t be called the protago­nist, it is she in whom a change is pivotal. The author shows Thorby’s adolescent failure to understand women, leaves for deduction what disturbs the orbit of a girl who’s got everything.

Does the book end? Or does it, in the besetting sin of s-f, build a world (or worlds!) then trail off? Will Morton said, Thorby’s character is completed, which is the end. To have present Keith Kato, President of the Heinlein Society, was an honor.

In the Art Show at Westercon LXX (West Coast Science Fantasy Conference; Tempe, Arizona, 1-4 Jul 17) I’d seen prints of remarkable pictures by an artist exhibiting as “Voit”. Pos­sibly at my recommendation the Loscon XLIV Art Show got in touch with him; he brought seven originals over his full name Vadim Voitekhovitch.

In his world of railroads, horse carriages, and great steam-driven airships, e.g. “The Road to Babylon” (oil on canvas, 2014), what impressed me most was his execution: he sets off detail with space, he paints what we know to highlight the strange, he builds on the levers our minds tend to give our eyes.

Vadim Voitekhovitch, “The Road to Babylon”

Richard Hescox, one of our best, had hand-ornamented prints with pencil drawings in the margins. Barbara Hambly brought eight gouaches on illustration-board, all Not for Sale but enriching the Art Show; focussed on their main characters (one of whom was Groucho Marx), free of the unmarshaled detail that has been perplexing many.

Mary Jane Jewell’s quilts are unusual: I can’t think of others in our field working with this medium. “The Menacing Empire” was strongly composed. I liked the big red bridge diagonally across “Images of Japan”.

One p.m. Sunday, Hard to Be a God (A. & B. Strugatsky, 1964). David P. Levine (I don’t expect David D. at Loscon) pointed out it took the shortest time of our three, all the world in a few days (or worlds; as Buckminster Fuller said, “Unity is plural and at minimum two”.)

Here was a Prime Directive two years before Star Trek, an idea of course millennia old, hence the title. Jane Shvetsov was particularly helpful, knowing Russian. I only had the new Bormashenko tr. 2014, so couldn’t ask her to compare Wendayne Ackerman’s 1973 (from Buchner’s 1971 German) which JS hadn’t seen.

From the audience, “Should Anton have been a merchant instead of a lord?” We thought he’d have had less freedom to move, and to lead – absent which his conflicting head and heart would have been harder to show.

The Soviet-era imagining of feudal folk – which for the authors’ health had better be politically correct – was fascinating, compare e.g. Twain’s Connecticut Yankee or White’s Once & Future King (including its deliberate anachronisms).

Loscon XLIV had hour-and-a-quarter sessions; we’d unexpectedly caught up with ourselves, so I asked “Anything else?” and someone said “I was hoping you’d read aloud,” gosh.

Right after (2:30), Charles Lee Jackson II moderating Andrew Trembley and me on “The Past & Future of Fan Publishing”. I cleared once & future kings from my mind, which hardly mattered because the three of us were it (not my mind – but that could be a story –). I was unsurprised; I knew, as apparently CLJ II and AT didn’t, that fanziners never attend panels about fanzining, and sometimes no one else does either.

But AT’s involvement in next year’s Worldcon was upon us, so we talked amongst ourselves about Progress Reports, Program Books which these days are sometimes Souvenir Books, at-con newsletters, publicity (Marty Massoglia quotes my sad “It was very well publicized to the people who were already going”), paper & electronics, and like that.

This kept us well occupied and must have been interesting because Dave McCarty dropped by and stayed.

I had lots of questions, some along the lines of “How hard can it be?” – remembering Indiana Jones having said that flew an airplane into a cliff (Temple of Doom, 1984) – also, speaking of 1984, I’d done the Progress Reports (which stank) and the Program Book (which I think still looks good) for the Worldcon that year, with much less powerful tech, more cumbersome? or less? ha ha ha. I’d better stop there.

Update 12/20/2017: Corrected to show the Jeanne Gomoll display.

What a Coincidence

By John Hertz:  I’m a known Jane Austen fan, so you’ll expect me to point out it’s her birthday.  I gladly call her one of the greatest writers in the world — yes, along with Shakespeare and Lady Murasaki.

Thanks to an honorary member of the Epsilon Iota chapter at Florida State U. of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity (oldest and largest music fraternity in the world), you may know it’s Beethoven’s birthday too.

Right there is a coincidence.  Indeed they were contemporaries.  What a lesson for us in the range of human creativity.  They’re not wholly disparate – I’d not say that even of Shakespeare and Lady Murasaki – and being a fan I can’t take refuge in “I am human; nothing human is alien to me” – except to the extent we say (altering the sense of one word) “Science fiction is about people; some of the people are aliens” – but compassing them both calls for a reach. To people who know only that one was born on this day, I may mention the other.

I’ve said a classic is a work that survives its own time; after the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.  I’ve led, I hope – inspired, perhaps – goaded, maybe – discussion on this topic; indeed with some of you.

Today happens to be another historic birthday.  It’s Sir Arthur Clarke’s 100th.

If we triangulate, as I try to, and as Buckminster Fuller taught, we might get an even better span.

So far my favorite Austen novel is Mansfield Park, upon which I can’t do better than recommend Nabokov in his Lectures on Literature. What’s my favorite Beethoven?  There I’m still like – well, somewhat like – Nero Wolfe over the cheese course in “Omit Flowers”.  Yehudi Menuhin playing the Violin Concerto with Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Philharmonia Orchestra?  Solomon playing Piano Sonata No. 29, the “Hammerklavier”? Oh dear.

I can tell you my favorite Clarke is The City and the Stars. That’s no surprise for some of you. I think it’s his masterpiece.  I wrote a note about it for Challenger 25.  There’s a link on the sidebar.  I certainly recommend it to you – the book, I mean, although I’d hardly mind if you read my note.

Some say there’d be no fanwriting without disagreement.  Ted White, I believe, said disagreement is the blood of fanzines (sorry if I misquote you, Ted).  I’ve disagreed with Charles N. Brown over his opinion that Against the Fall of Night is better (literary present tense) than The City and the Stars, into which Clarke made it.  I’ve disagreed with many who’ve held Childhood’s End better.  If you suppose I only put in this paragraph to get your attention, I disagree.

I think today, and the three shining points of this triangle, deserve applause.

An observing eye,
Boundless probing of the heart,
Cerebrating verve.

They aren’t all acrostic (I told you, Greg Benford), but this one is.

How to Write Criticism

By John Hertz:   Actually it’s a lesson from Hilaire Belloc.  He (1870-1953) wrote 150 books; his comic poems Cautionary Tales for Children (1907) include “Rebecca, who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably”; two of his essay collections are On Everything (1909) and On Nothing (1910); his polemical biographies of Wolsey (1930) and Cranmer (1931) are masterly; by the first decade of the 20th Century people who did not agree with him – I often don’t (literary present tense) – were among those who called him the greatest living prose writer.

Here he is, writing in those days and in the style of his time, about what had just been.

In one epoch lubricity, in another fanaticism, in a third dulness and a dead-alive copying of the past, are the faults which criticism finds to attack.  None of these affected the Victorian era.  It was pure — though tainted with a profound hypocrisy; it was singularly free from violence in its judgments; it was certainly alive and new; but it had this grievous defect (a defect under which we still labour heavily), that thought was restrained upon every side.  Never in the history of European letters was it so difficult for a man to say what he thought and to be heard.  A sort of cohesive public spirit (which was but one aspect of the admirable homogeneity of the nation) glued and immobilized all individual expression….

It is to be carefully discerned how many apparent exceptions to this truth are, if they be closely examined, no exceptions at all.  A whole series of national defects were exposed and ridiculed in the literature as in the oratory of the day; but they were defects which the mass of men secretly delighted to hear denounced and of which each believed himself to be free.

Preface to Froude’s Essays in Literature and History (1906)

in J. De Chantigny ed., Hilaire Belloc’s Prefaces, p. 86 (1971;
B goes on to say “In such a time Froude maintained an opposing force”, p. 87)

It Could Happen to You

By John Hertz: One-third through Henry Hardy’s monumental four-volume Letters of the monumental Isaiah Berlin (IB 1909-1997; Flourishing 1928-1946, Enlightening 1946-1960, Building 1960-1975, Affirming 1975-1997, some 3.000 pages, completed 2015), I came across this innocently-presented footnote (Enlightening p. 197 n. 3).

The Siena Musical Week was founded in 1939 to introduce to wider audiences undervalued composers of the past, starting with the then little-known Vivaldi.

_____________________________________________________

One cannot accept Dr. Hardy’s modesty about these notes, they’re wonderful.

About the subject, on the next page is a 1950 letter to Bernard Berenson, in which IB says, helplessly (if you will allow me to say so) self-referential, “my head in a great whirl with all the ideas, images, glimpses of persons & relationships, forms of life which, if you will allow me to say so, you scatter with so prodigal & unreckoning a hand.”

Pixel Scroll 12/8/17 Is There A Hologram On My Shuttlecraft That Says ‘Dead Klingon Storage’?

(1) CHECK-IN. The 1954 Worldcon chair Les Cole and Esther Cole, who live in the vicinity of the Ventura, CA fires answered Rich Lynch’s query about how they are doing —

Thanks for asking. Les and I and doggies are OK. Fire went passed us. The air is heavy, so we stay indoors. Much of southern California is rough.

(2) HERBERT MAY BE HONORED BY HOMETOWN. Metro Parks Tacoma Public Information Manager Michael Thompson says a recommendation to name a local peninsula “Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park” and its loop trail “Frank Herbert Trail” probably will go to the Park Board for a vote in January. The proposal has been working its way through the system for some time. The News Tribune has an update: “‘Dune’ author Frank Herbert finally set to get his due in his hometown of Tacoma”:

While the Metro Parks Board will have the final say on the matter — and it’s the elected body’s prerogative to deviate or tweak — it’s clear that the public has spoken, and Metro Parks’ staff has attempted to listen. During a public outreach effort earlier this year, more than 500 possible names were submitted via an online survey. The majority of responses referenced Herbert or “Dune.”

“This name provides a simple, evocative identifier that highlights the uniqueness of the peninsula remediation and new park features,” according to the staff recommendation. “On a literary level, it honors the name of the book series by Frank Herbert, a famous Tacoma author, which was inspired by the environmental history of Tacoma’s Asarco copper smelter site, directly adjacent to the peninsula.”

Last month, Thompson helped a local radio reporter tour the peninsula with park commissioner Erik Hanberg. “‘Dune’ And The City Of Destiny: How Tacoma Inspired One Of The World’s Most Acclaimed Sci-Fi Authors”.

If you go to the base of Point Defiance in Tacoma and look east, you’ll see a finger of earth jutting into Puget Sound.

It formed as toxic slag spilled from a copper smelter during the city’s industrial heyday.

For years, it was a foreboding sliver of black, glassy material. Today, workers and machines roam the peninsula as they transform it into a grassy park with Puget Sound views.

Tacoma Metro Parks Commissioner Erik Hanberg has a space-age term for what’s going on there. He calls it “terraforming.”

(3) BACK TO THE STACK. Doris V. Sutherland does a good job framing the issues in “Rocket Stack Rumpus: Critics, Authors, and Non-Binary Science Fiction” accompanied by light analysis. Sutherland concludes:

Greg Hullender responded by writing an apology-cum-rebuttal in collaboration with Eric Wong and altering the offensive reviews. Despite this, he has paid a high price for his faux pas. Locus decided that he was unfit to recommend stories to readers and removed him from its reading list jury, making the following announcement on Twitter.

Thank you to those who brought their concerns about RSR to our attention. Greg Hullender will not be involved in the Locus Recommended Reading List. We support our wonderfully complex and diverse SF community, and hope for continued positive dialogue on these issues.

The reference to positive dialogue seems out-of-place. The Rocket Stack Rumpus marks a breakdown in communications all around, from a reviewer missing the point of the stories he was covering, to authors misreading his reviews in turn. Meanwhile, the issue of Rocket Stack Rank’s provincial approach to stories set against non-Western cultural backdrops–as flagged up by Rose Lemberg in this Twitter thread–ended up being lost alongside Hullender’s misunderstanding of non-binary SF, which is perhaps a secondary issue.

There may well be positive dialogue to come out of the controversy, but at the present moment, there is little of it to be seen.

(4) MEAT AND PROPER. Autocorrect is being blamed rather than legislators falling down on the job: ” Typo in Bill C-45 legalizes cannibalism instead of cannabis”.

Canada is one step closer to the accidental legalization of cannibalism after the House of Commons passed a typo-ridden Bill C-45, formerly known as The Cannabis Act.

“I think no one wanted to be the one to point out the error,” MP Sara Anderson said. “We all thought someone else would do it, and then they called the vote, and here we are, all voting to legalize cannibalism.”

(5) RADICAL CHANGE. If this catches on, Twitter will get awfully quiet.

(6) ANDERS STORY COLLECTION. At Locus Online, “Rachel Swirsky reviews Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charlie Jane Anders”.

Anders’s unique humor provides a uniting theme. Only some of the stories are explicitly comic, but all benefit from her linguistic wit and her quirky but generous characterization. Her stories seem to say with affection, “People. We’re weird. What can you do?” She’s particu­larly good at tailoring prose to her characters, revealing their lives through their diction. Char­acters go to “one of those mom-and-pop Portu­guese places” and “the kinda-sorta gay bar.”

(7) MCDUFFIE AWARD OPEN. The 4th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics is taking entries until December 31.

Please attach a link or a 15mb .PDF file of the work to be considered. When submitting work, we strongly suggest sending the first issue of a series. If submitting anything other than the first issue, a one-page synopsis of what came before must accompany the submission. Also, we suggest sending the first 25-30 pages or first chapter of a graphic novel. We cannot guarantee anything more will be considered. If one is available, please also attach a .JPG photo of the entrant to the email. Please do not include any further attachments.

The award’s three new selection committee members are Jennifer de Guzman, Jamal Igle and Mikki Kendall, who join Mark D. Bright, Joan Hilty, Heidi MacDonald, Kevin Rubio, Gail Simone, and Will J. Watkins.

(8) ELIGIBILITY POSTS. Cat Rambo is doing her annual award eligibility post round-up, this year including editors, publishers, and magazines: “2017 Award-Eligible Work Blog Posts & Roundups for F&SF”. Right now there are about 20 entries on the list. She will be doing daily updates.

(9) CLASS TOMORROW. Cat Rambo says there is still space, including a couple of free slots, in the December 9 class “Speculative Poetry with Rachel Swirsky”.

Next classes are Saturday, December 9 – 9:30-11:30 AM or Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 4-6 PM. (Each class is a separate session.)

Poetry requires intense linguistic control. Every word matters. Whether you’re a poet who wants to create fantastical verses, or a prose writer who wants to learn the finely tuned narrative power that poetry can teach, you’ll find something in this class.

(10) WRITER’S LIFE. A short interview with Ursula K. Le Guin at Shelf Awareness:

Who do you write your blog for? Do you ever read the comments, and if so, what do you learn from them, if anything?

I write them for anybody who wants to read them. (Writers live in hope.)

Yes, sure, I read all the comments. They’re mostly good-natured, and some are thoughtful and enlightening.

You say that dystopian literature is yang-driven, and its opposite–utopian literature–is also yang-driven. Is there a literature that presents a realistically complex vision of a world in balance? Or is that just fantasy?

Of course it’s just fantasy. That’s why I write fantasy…

(11) NOBODY LIKES BEING SLAPPED. Cat Rambo, talking about writers and audiences: “Nattering Social Justice Cook: This Is Not A Review”.

So why did this book hit me so hard in an unhappy place? Because it was so smart and funny and beautifully written and involved connected stories about a favorite city and magic, which are three of my favorite things. And because it had a chapter that was one of the best short stories about addiction that I’ve read, and that left me thinking about it in a way that will probably shape at least one future story.

And yet. And yet. And yet. Women were either powerful and unfuckable for one reason or another or else fell into the category marked “women the protagonist sleeps with”, who usually didn’t even get a name. Moments of homophobic rape humor, marked by a repeated insistence on the sanctity of the hero’s anus, and a scene in which he embraces being thought gay in order to save himself from a terrible fate, ha ha, isn’t that amusing. And I’m like…jesus, there is so much to love about this book but it’s like the author reaches out and slaps me away once a chapter or so.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 8, 1991 Hook premieres in Hollywood.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 8, 1950 – Rick Baker, the Monster Maker

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian saw that First Contact isn’t going too well in Close To Home.

(15) END OF THE MAZE. Maze Runner: The Death Cure comes to theaters January 26.

In the epic finale to the Maze Runner saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet. To save their friends, they must break into the legendary Last City, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all. Anyone who makes it out alive will get answers to the questions the Gladers have been asking since they first arrived in the maze.

 

(16) CONTRARIAN. Go figure. While Patreon was in flames yesterday, Jon Del Arroz climbed aboard — “Jon Del Arroz Patreon Launch!”.

(17) EWW. It’s admittedly a mixed message when I say “Don’t look!” then put in a link anyway — “Here’s What It Looks Like When You Fry Your Eye In An Eclipse”.

“We were very surprised at how precisely concordant the imaged damage was with the crescent shape of the eclipse itself,” noted Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, a retina surgeon at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York, in an email to NPR.

He says this was the most severely injured patient they saw after the eclipse. All in all, 22 people came to their urgent care clinic with concerns about possible eclipse-related damage, and most of them complained of blurred vision. Of those, only three showed some degree of abnormality in the retina. Two of them had only mild changes, however, and their symptoms have gone away.

The young woman described in this case report, at last check, still has not recovered normal vision.

(18) SUPPORTING SPACE EXPLORATION. Bill Nye says The Planetary Society’s latest collaboration with the Chop Shop store is mission posters for kids, like this one:

(19) TENTACLE TIME. In the garden: “‘Underwater city’ reveals mysterious octopus world”.

Once thought of as solitary creatures, scientists discover ‘underwater city’ full of octopuses living side by side

A couple of assumptions are often made about octopuses. First, that they are smart. There is truth in that: octopus behaviour such as tool use, predation techniques and puzzle-solving suggest a higher level of intelligence than other invertebrates. Everyone has watched an octopus unscrewing a jar.

Second, they have a reputation for being solitary. So solitary in fact that an official collective noun for octopuses doesn’t even exist (though ‘tangle’ has been suggested).

This may have to change, however. Over the last decade, scientists have discovered that octopuses aren’t always lone beasts. In fact, octopuses engage in rich, fascinating and unusual behaviours when they interact with each other.

(20) PATREON SURVIVOR, IF POSSIBLE. Cat Rambo is weathering the storm by asking readers how to add more value to her Patreon campaign (and also whether or not to bail from it): https://www.patreon.com/catrambo

Cat She says, “I’ve lost about 15% of my income from there so far, but I’m a very minor player. however if there is something the F&SF is not seeing from me but desperately yearns for, now’s the time to weigh in: “Patreon Changes”.

(21) FRONT PAGE NEWS. I have added to the File 770 sidebar a link to John Hertz’ review of The Glass Bead Game (Hesse), which has found a permanent online home.

(22) KRYPTON. SyFy has put out a teaser trailer for its series about Superman’s homeworld. ScienceFiction.com sums it up:

The series is set two generations before the destruction of the Man of Steel’s home planet. ‘Krypton’ follows Superman’s grandfather (Cameron Cuffe), whose House of El was ostracized and shamed, as he fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his world from chaos. The Seg-El name is both a nod to Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and a reference to John Byrne’s 1980s miniseries, ‘The World of Krypton.’ Cameron Cuffe is set to play Seg-El alongside with Georgina Campbell as Lyta Zod.

 

(23) THE DARK SIDE. Charles Payseur turns his attention to dark fantasy and horror in “Quick Sips – The Dark #31”.

December brings a pair of stories to The Dark Magazine that focus sharply on observation and theater. In both, women drawn into roles where they are closely watched by men, and in both these experiences are further framed in terms of a sort of voyeurism. In one, a woman is filed, in the other, a woman is part of a play. Both feature stages and bring the reader in as spectators and in some ways as participants. We are the eyes that act as camera and as audience.

(24) BLOW BY BLOW. Sci-Fi Design has a gallery of “Comic Book Covers Recreated Using Balloons”.

Comic book cover art is awesome. They use a variety of styles, but have you ever seen comic book covers that are made from balloons? These awesome balloon sculptures as comic book covers were created by Phileas Flash. They take days to make and the pieces themselves fit into a 10 foot by 10-foot space. Then photoshop is used to add the letters which are also balloons. I love all of the detail that he gets with this unusual medium.

(25) POP CULTURE SUMMIT. Rolling Stone took notes: “Alice Cooper on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury”.

After Cooper’s initial meeting with Bowie in the late Sixties, they later forged a friendship. Once, they even had dinner together with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. “It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere,” he says. “They were talking about quantum physics, and I’m going, ‘So … what kind of car are you driving?'” Cooper laughs.

(26) CAMERON PROJECT. Alita: Battle Angel Official Trailer.

From filmmakers James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez. Alita Battle Angel is in theaters July 20, 2018. Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Greg Hullender, David K.M. Klaus, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darren Garrison.]