Category Archives: books

plague novels: a scent of new-mown hay

While Andromeda Strain is the most bloodless science fiction – the microorganism is a solid hexagonal crystal, no messy fluids here – A Scent of New Mown Hay (John Blackburn, 1959) is a work of horror. Every other chapter ends with people people running screaming, or … Continue reading

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plague novels: the andromeda strain

In Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, published in 1969, a microorganism of apparently extraterrestrial origin manifests as a cloud that saturates the air like nerve gas and seems to kill on contact. The best part of the book, the only … Continue reading

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faraway lights

“The Nutcracker serves up an idealized Christmas on a platter full of treats that everyone has been promised at one time or another – by our parents or by books and movies and TV specials. Christmas can be a joyful … Continue reading

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due diligence

November Bookcrossing was a Zoom with just a few people. I volunteered to arrange it, then decided I’d rather be at Punctuation, then E arranged it and I joined anyway. It was nice to see BCX people. Obviously no takeaway … Continue reading

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a distant mirror

I, too, could not believe that they would railroad Nixon through until I read a [Walter] Lippmann column a few days before they did, who explained to my satisfaction how it had all been planned for weeks and months ahead; … Continue reading

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first Bookcrossing meetup since March

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partial explanations

Red alert, day 74. Lockdown, day 64. More of Warren Weaver, this time on scientific explanation. Many of us have thought the following, for example when reading bad wall texts in science museums, but Weaver, with the confidence of the … Continue reading

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polarity problems

Red alert, day 73. Lockdown, day 63. Here’s a more durable excerpt from the autobiography of Warren Weaver, the science administrator discussed yesterday. Relevant to studies of qualia and evaluation/Appraisal: [I have had a lifelong curiosity] about the magnitude of … Continue reading

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scene of change

Red alert, day 72. Lockdown, day 62. I continue to note the counts for each day in a notebook, and they are still alarming. Marscon (January, Virginia) now takes the prize for farthest-off cancellation. The house cleanout in 2018 unearthed … Continue reading

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Ladeco flight 115 from Asunción, Paraguay, was about to land an hour late at Santiagoäs Pudahuel airport. To our left, Aconcagua, at 23,000 feet, appeared as a steel promontory in the moonlight. The plane dipped its left wing with terrifying … Continue reading

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Eastercon: twilight of the booksellers

Brian from Porcupine Books is making this his last con. He’s turning 65 and has had it with the schlepping. After Worldcon he was thinking of selling up, but now he’s planning to carry on online.“I imagine the driving back … Continue reading

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Eastercon: Geoff Ryman workshop on literary analysis

The text was “What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky,” Leslie Nneka Arimah, which I did not have, but the talk was crystal clear anyway. Geoff took this as an example of African writing generally and ponted … Continue reading

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