Monthly Archives: September 2004

Summer Cold

Sniffles early last week turned out not to be merely allergic response to the dry Santa Ana winds, but the advent of a (so-far relatively mild) summer cold; sniffles, head congestion, and general lassitude, so far, the lack of energy to do much else this weekend besides sit and read and occasionally nap. Well, and I did manage to finish up New Books listings for the past couple weeks, posted earlier this afternoon. Still to go, New in Paperback and Classic Reprints pages for this month; plenty of material seen and on hand for both pages.

Worldcon Addendum

I see David Gerrold had a problem with the “door Nazi” (as we both described her) at the Hugo Losers’ party in Boston too — read his 9/22 entry (I can’t seem to find the permalink) to the end — and in fairness and gratitude I should also mention that Vince Docherty, chairman of the ’05 convention that hosted the party, and also an old friend of mine, tracked me down at the Locus table the next day to apologize for the incident, and explain about the crowded room and the clueless door guard. Apology accepted, no big deal; next year in Glasgow.

Hot and dry here in SoCal the past couple days. The Santa Anas have begun. Red flag warnings for fire danger.

Air is Here

Big day at the bookstore today, with three much-anticipated volumes going on sale: Stephen King’s final Dark Tower novel; Neal Stephenson’s final “Baroque Cycle” volume, The System of the World; and the 11th volume of Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, The Grim Grotto. I bought 2 of them, hoping that the publisher of the 3rd will send me a review copy, as they did of the previous volume…

Actually, the book I was most excitied to find today was the one I found by chance (having overlooked its entry on the forthcoming books list): Geoff Ryman’s Air, a new novel by one of my favorite authors, and a novel that has been frustratingly delayed since its announcement some… 2 years? ago. (Apparently there was a final rewrite that took place after its initial announcement.) The book is subtitled “Or, Have Not Have” and is based on a 2001 story, “Have Not Have” that was a Sturgeon Award finalist, that placed 12th on the Locus Poll that year, and that was reprinted in Dozois’s 19th annual anthology. Which I mention to justify my text-unread recommendation. In fact, I will be so helpful as to post this handy link so you can order a copy yourself…

The Sundays

Yesterday Yeong and I visited the UCLA Hammer Museum, aka the Armand Hammer museum, a compact facility on Wilshire Blvd in Westwood Village just off the UCLA campus. It opened over 10 years ago yet is one of those local places in one’s hometown I’d never been to. It’s not large, but has an impressive permanent collection of 19th and early 20th century paintings, including an iconic Rembrandt of a man with a black hat, and a famous painting of George Washington (or at least, one that looked very much like the famous painting we’ve all seen). There was also a special exhibition of prints by Albrecht Dürer, which if the website hasn’t changed you can see a few of here — elaborate, detailed, fantastic visions that struck me as obvious precursors to the work of Ian Miller

In the evening we watched “Going My Way”, one of those multi-Oscar winning pictures that neither of us had ever seen; sweet, sentimental, utterly predictable. Still, we’ll have to rent its sequel, “The Bells of St. Mary’s”, next.

The daily email Publishers Lunch supplied a link today to a Telegraph article about publishers who mislead readers about what awards a book or its author has won. As an awards follower, the subject has long been one of my pet peeves. In SF, an especially annoying example is a claim about “Nebula award nominee” that turns out, upon investigation, to be indicative of nothing more than a single recommendation/nomination by one of the author’s peers in the elaborate multi-staged Nebula nomination process–not, as one might suppose, a claim about having reached a final ballot.

Sorry, Wrong Ending..?

We watched Sorry, Wrong Number last night, the 1948 movie starring Barbara Stanwyck (rented via Netflix), one of those movies I’d heard about so often that I had a firm impression of what it was about (and what the ending was) without ever actually having seen it. Seeing it confirmed my second-hand impressions, but also suggested to me that this was a story that would never be released today with the same ending. A remake by today’s Hollywood would demand that Barbara struggle from her bed, stand at her window, and scream at the night watchman in order to save herself; it’s hard to imagine any recent Hollywood pic with the sort of inevitable tragic ending as the original film…


Ah, another letter writer today, responding to John Shirley’s social roundable, simply declines to believe my statement yesterday that Shirley invited a broad range of writers to participate but that the several of those on the ‘right’ whom he invited declined. We are accused of ‘systematically silenc[ing]‘ voices of dissent. Sigh. It’s always useful to keep in mind that most people who bother to write letters are those who have some sort of complaint; they are not representative of the entire readership. However, though I’m not planning to actively pursue this, I will state for the record that I would be happy to consider a similar roundtable from the ‘other side’, if anyone would care to submit something, or even suggest names of spokesmen they would approve of (which none of the letter writers has); and I would be happy to post letters by anyone who cares to debate the substance of the roundtable, rather than dismissing it as ‘left-wing views’ and evidence of the liberal media, blah blah blah. Anyone?

Featured Responses

John Shirley’s social-future roundtable has brought a handful of email responses, some of them coherent, the recurrent theme the observation that all of those interviewed are on what we call in the US the ‘left’. (Who are mistaken in their worldviews, etc.) John has assured me–even before he completed the piece–that he had invited numerous other writers, including several ‘right-wing’ writers, to participate, but all of them refused. So it goes.

Special Features

John Shirley’s roundtable interview on the social future brought a spike to views of the website over the weekend, peaking at 15K unique viewers on Sunday alone; typical viewers on a weekday is 7K, and for a Sunday 4K. Links from Boing Boing, slashdot, and Bruce Sterling’s blog no doubt helped.

Upcoming is a review of “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” from Lawrence Person and Howard Waldrop. And Lawrence’s update on his “Donnie Darko” review, now that the director’s version is out.


Ah, got around to connecting, er, unconnecting, the wireless connection, er, link, between my new laptop and the wireless router I acquired 2 weeks ago. It was a matter of reading the instructions (!) and pressing the button on the laptop that looks like a microphone surrounded by double parens, a button I had previously not noticed (!!).

Now I can carry my laptop all about the house and grounds, upstairs, downstairs, to the tennis court, the pond, the rooftop observatory, and stay connected, downloading my thousands of spams, surfing the web, and ftp’ing updates to the website. (If I had a tennis court, pond, or observatory, of course. It’s the principle that counts.)

Shopping On and Off Line

To make up for attending Noreascon without my partner Yeong, I spent Sunday with him doing his favorite passtime: shopping, in this case for a particular household gizmo that he’s lusted after for some time, which gizmos are fortunately nowhere near as expensive as they were just a year ago.

We happen to live in an area replete with electronics stores — Fry’s, Best Buy, Comp USA, Circuit City, Good Guys, and a high-end place called Magnolia — so we learned a lot by visiting each, asking slightly different naive questions each time as if we hadn’t already been to the other stores, then balancing the options and our budget and making a decision. Then we came home and ordered it online. From Amazon.* For a better price than any of the stores offered, though in point of fact all the physical stores were out of stock of this particular model aside for an occasional floor model.

I realize we’ve done this now several times–spent a day, or several days over a period of weeks, driving around the city shopping, and ended up buying online for less. Still, the point is you can’t omit the in-person experience. You have to see what you’re going to get, make a decision about what’s acceptable, which is difficult to do by simple online browsing. Amazon is great if you already know what you’re looking for, but it can’t replace serendipitous browsing in a physical bookstore.

*Which, as you no doubt already know, provides Locus Online a modest commission for every item ordered through the links we provide, e.g. Amazon, at no additional cost to yourself.