Matters of Degree

Between the attack on Salman Rushdie, and book banners in the US. Both motivated by religion and ideology to suppress the thoughts of others.

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Joe Haldeman’s “The Hemingway Hoax” + 3

“The Hemingway Hoax,” by Joe Haldeman, first published in April 1990, is the third story in the big Gardner Dozois anthology being perused by the Facebook reading group I’m following. (See previous Sundays’ posts.)

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Non-representative Legislatures

Ten days ago in this post, in the aftermath of the Kansas vote supporting protections for abortion, I wondered this:

So what are the justifications of Republican politicians who keep passing or trying to pass restrictions on abortion, when the majority of residents in even a red state like Kansas oppose such restrictions? Who do these politicians think they’re representing? Well, they’re representing those who *elected* them of course. Which… suggests something is wonky with the election system. And it’s not some kind of fraud leading Democrats to win. It’s some kind of malfunction in the election system that is leading Republicans to be elected in disproportionate numbers. What that might be? Hmm, gerrymandering?

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Today’s Headlines and Backlogged Links

The Atlantic, Tom McTague, 12 Aug 2022: What America’s Great Unwinding Would Mean for the World, subtitled, “The conundrum facing America’s allies is how to cope with a great imperial power in decline that is still a great imperial power.”

I will read this closely and comment later. Meanwhile for today, links I’ve collected today and in the past two or three weeks, with minimal comments.

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Two Essays About Current Events: by Connie Willis and Heather Cox Richardson

Connie Willis is one of the most beloved science fiction writers of the past 40 years. As a writer she’s won many awards, for works often humorous but at times tragic, at times building human stories based on the weirdness of modern physics. She’s popular at conventions, excellent as a master of ceremonies (she does this for the Locus Awards every years, e.g. here), and obsessive about the news. She’s said that at conventions she keeps the TV in her room tuned to CNN all day. Continue reading

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George Gamow: One Two Three… Infinity

Here’s an oldie, not just for first being published in 1947 (see Wikipedia) but also for being one of the first science nonfiction books I ever read, back when I bought this copy in 1969.

(Seen here is the Bantam edition of April 1967, a reprint of the revised Viking edition of May 1961. Bantam’s is 340 pages.)

So I would have read this about the time I was in 9th grade and taking, what, high school algebra or geometry? This book doesn’t assume knowledge of those, and largely (but not entirely except in footnotes) avoids equations — just as Isaac Asimov’s popular science fiction, and essays in F&SF, did.

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Links and Comments: Some Good News, and the FBI

Some recent news is actually quite good.

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Longtermism

A key aspect of (good) science fiction is that it takes a long term view, of the species, of the universe, as so few individual people do.

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Paperback Sets: Asimov’s Foundation Novels

I’m going to begin a series of posts capturing photos of some of the many sets of matching paperbacks that appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when I began buying books, that I have acquired (some when published and some over time).

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Walter Jon Williams: “Surfacing” + 2

This week’s story being consider by the Facebook Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Fiction group, for its reading of the big Gardner Dozois book shown here, is the second story in that book, a 1988 novella by Walter Jon Williams called “Surfacing.” It’s about 60 pages in a typical book, fewer pages in this anthology with its tiny print. In this post I’m also reviewing two other notable stories by Williams, from 1999 and 2003.

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