Monthly Archives: February 2006


I had one of these! (via Boing Boing)

It was, as it says, a plastic mechanical computer. You ‘programmed’ it by inserting cylindric pegs along the front tabs–the pegs are visible as black or dark grey in the photo–and then you manually moved in and out the long base plate with the handle visible at lower right. The vertical rods pivoted, powered by rubber bands (!), depending on where the tabs where placed as you moved that base plate, and created the ‘answer’ in three-bit format at left.

I did a grade-school show-and-tell with it, with input from my Book of Knowledge encyclopedia at home. In those days, it was an issue whether ‘digital’ or ‘analog’ computers would prevail.

Is the recreation worth $49? Well–maybe.

Full Moon

The image at the top of this blog is the full moon just after sunset, taken from Medina Road in Woodland Hills CA. It is not the sun through the smoggy Los Angeles haze. It is the full moon at sunset.

500 ballots received so far. The leaders in most categories have not changed since the first sampling. I’ve said for the past two years that I’ve intended to post some comments about voting patterns — how many voters vote in how many categories, etc. — and not gotten around to it; I’ll intend to do so again this year. Soon. It’s not about the results, it’s about the patterns.

Still getting over the flu.

Category Inflation

I hadn’t noticed until I was reading my copy of the February issue of Locus thoroughly that for purposes of the Locus poll (390 ballot received and counting) the definition of the fiction categories have been changed, the break between novella and novel now occurring at 59,000 words, rather than the traditional 40,000. This seems entirely reasonable, considering how huge most genre novels are these days, compared to those slender paperback originals of 40 and 50 years ago. The change allows a short book like James Patrick Kelly’s Burn, for example, to count among novellas, rather than novels. (By the same token, if it were up to me, I might edge the novelette/novella break up from 15,000 to 20,000 words, though I’d leave the short story/novelette break at 7500 words, considering how many ss’s are published every year.)

I’ve been flu-bug-bitten the past few days, which is why the relative lack of posting on the site. I have a backlog of emails and book listings to post, maybe this weekend.

PS There was a problem with my archive links in the right column, and so I fixed it, I thought, but now the links are arranged from earliest to latest, rather than latest to earliest. Any Blogger experts know how to fix this?

Voting Sins, 2

Look people, if you submit a vote in the Locus Poll and enter the same title in every one of the ‘Best SF Novel’ write-in slots… not to mention the very same title in every one of the ‘Best First Novel’ slots… why, then, we’re not going to count your ballot at all. You broke the rules. The rules clearly state “Do not vote for the same work more than once” (though a first novel can also be voted for in the Best SF novel or Best fantasy novel category, true, but only *once* in each category). The tabulation process is automated, yes, but not that automated. Clear violations go into the bit bin….

Another 20 some ballots since my post earlier today. I don’t expect this rate to continue.

Today I finished setting up archive pages for 2006 posts — news, monitor, features, etc. The drop-down links on the homepage go to the new archive pages, and everything on the new pages flow to the previous year’s 2005 archive pages. I feel so much better now.

I’m fascinated by Andrew Wheeler’s post about reading a book a day — via various other blogs — because I’ve engaged in various schemes to document and metricize my own reading for most of my life, and never thought it was a subject to admit in public. Like one of those fetishes that, in this age of the internet, it turns out is not unique only to you. So, then, perhaps I’ll discuss this further, some time, maybe, in another post…

Voting Response

Discounting a handful of duplicate/repeat voters, no less than 250 votes have been received in this year’s Locus Poll and Survey by this morning. Last year it took a full month to accumulate that many. Obviously the various notices online, those mentioned earlier plus Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing and Neil Gaiman on his blog and no doubt others, bought in a lot web voters. A quick tabulation of those 250 ballots shows only about 40 — 16% — indicating they’re subscribers to Locus Magazine; if I recall correctly in previously years the percentage is around 50% by the end of the voting period, and I expect this year’s results to move in that direction by the time voting ends. (Voters like me have some remedial reading to do before we’re ready to cast our ballots, e.g.)

Off and Running

Here we are about 24 hours since the online Locus Poll ballot went live, and so far 86 Locus Poll ballots have been received, as well as … 11 Poetry Poll ballots. (Well, I knew there would be relatively light response to that poll. SF poetry readers are to SF readers as SF readers are to all readers, or something like that.)

The initial response to the Locus Poll is about twice as heavy as it was last year, when only 41 ballots were submitted in the first 24 hours. The difference I’m sure is due to the mention of the online ballot on several popular blogs, including Cheryl’s and Jonathan’s and John’s, and probably others I haven’t seen. All are welcome. Vote!

Get Ready, Get Set, Vote

The 2006 Locus Poll and Survey ballot is now online. Who will be the first to vote? In past years it hasn’t taken long; there are usually a handful of votes the first evening, several dozen the first week.

Also this year, at the suggestion of Greg Beatty some months back, there’s a special online-only poll for best poem of 2005, and of all-time. Don’t count on this becoming an annual Locus Poll/Awards category. It will be interesting to see how many votes it gets.

Update 7:23 p.m.: John Klima is the first to submit a Locus Poll/Survey ballot; simultaneously, Helena Bell submitted a Poetry Poll ballot.