Here are 13 developments of interest to fans:
(1) No laughing! A tragic demise is announced in Gene Weingarten’s column titled “Goodbye, cruel words: English. It’s Dead to Me.”
The English language, which arose from humble Anglo-Saxon roots to become the lingua franca of 600 million people worldwide and the dominant lexicon of international discourse, is dead. It succumbed last month at the age of 1,617 after a long illness. It is survived by an ignominiously diminished form of itself.
The end came quietly on Aug. 21 on the letters page of The Washington Post. A reader castigated the newspaper for having written that Sasha Obama was the “youngest” daughter of the president and first lady, rather than their “younger” daughter. In so doing, however, the letter writer called the first couple the “Obama’s.” This, too, was published, constituting an illiterate proofreading of an illiterate criticism of an illiteracy. Moments later, already severely weakened, English died of shame.
But let’s not accuse too hastily. I find it hard to believe that a language able to withstand James Fenimore Cooper and Woody Allen would succumb to the copyeditor of The Washington Post.
Where were all our fanwriters that day? Does Joseph Nicholas have an alibi?
(2) On the other hand, when I grow up I want to write like LA Times critic Kenneth Turan:
In fact, the only problem with calling “Black Swan” sensationalistic and over the top is that it makes this shameless shotgun marriage of “The Red Shoes” and Roger Corman sound like more fun than it is.
(3) Gary K. Wolfe is another good role model. I found his review of Greg Bear’s Hull Zero Three a compelling read. I’m a big fan of critics who are able to paint with the fiction writer’s palette to share the novelist’s universe more fully.
(4) Of course you have to wonder what the Locus staff will have left to review in a few years that way book sales are going. ICV2 reports Barnes & Noble lost $12.6 million in the quarter ending October 30th on declining book sales, increased game and digital sales.
(5) If you’re a hard science writer you had something new and exciting to occupy your attention this week:
The discovery of a strange bacteria that can use arsenic as one of its nutrients widens the scope for finding new forms of life on Earth and possibly beyond.
While researchers discovered the unusual bacteria here on Earth, they say it shows that life has possibilities beyond the major elements that have been considered essential.
“This organism has dual capability. It can grow with either phosphorous or arsenic. That makes it very peculiar, though it falls short of being some form of truly ‘alien’ life,” commented Paul C. W. Davies of Arizona State University, a co-author of the report appearing in Thursday’s online edition of the journal Science.
The discovery resulted from experiments run at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource – see the full press release here.
(6) This season Chicago is enjoying Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in Klingonese:
Artistic Director Christopher Kidder says the play is essentially the same story except their version had to adjust for the Klingon honor code, “instead of them worrying about making Scrooge nice and charitable they come to teach him (Klingon Scrooge) honor and courage.”
While the entire play is in the Klingon language, English subtitles are projected for the audience so they don’t have to keep asking “jIyajbe’?” (“What’s happening?”)
(7) SF Signal’s Patrick Hester concluded that “The SyFy Re-Branding Hasn’t Helped Them One Bit” —
SyFy recently canceled Caprica. I was not a fan but I admit to being more than a little bit biased on the subject. I would’ve preferred another season of Battlestar with a more satisfying ending versus a prequel series (and according to the ratings, I’m not alone). I don’t think Caprica was ever truly embraced by the Battlestar fans, nor did it appeal to the broader audience SyFy was hoping to capture with their silly name change. The ratings for the show have steadily declined over time, with the March finale averaging 1.1 million viewers but the season 1.5 premier drawing just 889,000 (source: TVByTheNumbers).
(8) Last week the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sponsored a showing of a century-old D.W. Griffith film, projected on an original 1909 hand-cranked camera.
(9) Nora Ephron, interviewed in the New York Times, recommended some computer software we probably all need:
Antiprocrastination Technique: I have on my computer something called Freedom. You put in however many minutes of freedom you would want, and for that period of time your computer does not allow you to go on the Internet.
(10) Now that scientists have stored antihydrogen James Hay asks, “Can Warp Engines be far behind?”
(11) The Science Fiction Oral History Association isn’t going to let its historic recordings gather dust on the shelf anymore. Its first Space Dog Podcast features a 1976 discussion with Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Lester del Rey, Frederik Pohl, and Gordon R. Dickson originally recorded for the Ballantine Science Fiction Hour.
(12) eReads reports that Greg Bear and Astrid Anderson Bear (Poul Anderson’s daughter) believe Project Gutenberg has violated copyright by distributing certain stories Poul Anderson had published in 1940s and 1950s.
I was interested to discover there are print-on-demand publishers who follow along and package for sale texts digitized by Project Gutenberg volunteers.
(13) Lastly, we catch up on high school sports news….
The seeker from the Bronx High School of Science had to jump a fence and follow the snitch down Fifth Avenue. He caught the snitch but it didn’t count because his broom wasn’t between his legs.
Bronx Science lost 50-30 to Lenox High School in Lenox, Mass., as Central Park played host to an exhibition of Quidditch, the soccer-like game invented by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
I like to imagine Quidditch replacing stickball on the streets of New York. Though does my romantic notion about what kids play on the streets of New York have any substance — or did it all come from Bowery Boys movies? Then Draco Malfoy, meet Terrence Aloysius “Slip” Mahoney…
[Thanks for these links goes out to John Mansfield, Sam Long, David Klaus, James Hay, Andrew Porter, Ansible Links and Locus.]