Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beagle's Shorts

Peter S. Beagle: The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and Other Odd Acquaintances (Tachyon Publications; 1997; ISBN 0-9648320-7-0; cover by Michael Dashow).

Made up of: Under the Zucchini (Patrica A. McKillip); Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros; Come Lady Death; Lila the Werewolf; Julie's Unicorn; The Naga; Pittsburgh Stories; Telephone Call; My Daughters Name is Sarah; Learning a Trade; My Last Heroes; D.H. Lawrence in Taos; The Poor People's Campaign.

Counts as thirteen entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts.

I recently received Mirror Kingdoms from Subterranean Press and was shelving it when I saw I had another collection by Peter S. Beagle...this one...and much to my embarrassment, I realized that not only did I have this collection but I had never read it.


So I sat down and read it. Overall, an amazing journey!

Beagle is known more for his long works (A Fine and Private Place, The Last Unicorn, etc.) than his shorter works. In fact, in the introduction to Mirror Kingdoms he talks about a very long dry spell for short works lasting years. So perhaps a can be forgiven for having overlooked this book.


What really struck me about most of the stories were the fantastical elements. Or, how unnecessary they are because Beagle just knows how to tell a good story. Take the first tale in the collection, Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros (cleverly retagged to give the title a name). Forget the rhinoceros/unicorn that can spout philosophy. Strip away that fantasy element. What is left? A very moving tale about a bachelor professor who moves through life affecting students and having a relationship with another professor where neither can move towards a commitment. Until it is too late. Good stuff.

Luckily for you, if you cannot find this collection (it is even autographed by the author, you putz, how could you forget about this book for years?), you might be able to find Mirror Kingdoms easily. Which I am now reading, so it does not spend more than a decade on my bookshelves. Putz.

FTC Disclaimer: Despite being a putz and having the book on the shelf for several years, I actually bought it. What a putz.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Even More City Noir

Now that I'm about to re-watch the "restored" edition of the classic Metropolis comes the news of an even more restored version (coming in November 2010).

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Space Review

A couple of installments from The Space Review.

From the April 5, 2010 issue: Dwayne Day wonders if people will still flock to sites like Kennedy Spaceport once the big (government) launches are gone. Jeff Foust looks at the demand for launches in the commercial sector.

From the April 12, 2010 issue: Jeff Foust looks at the "maturing" NewSpace industry. Dwayne Day looks at current and future "space coast ghosts". Angela Peura tries to clear up what the "new direction" in space will be. Gemini on steroids? Jonathan Coppersmith also looks at the new direction and decides it isn't bold enough.

From the April 19, 2010 issue: Jeff Foust looks at the reset button. G. Ryan Faith also examines the new direction (still seems like there are more rumors than facts with all these articles). S. Alan Stern (a real rocket scientist) urges the diversification of the "spaceflight portfolio". Dwayne Day continues the Air Launched Sortie series (shades of the film Moonraker with that top illustration!). Finally, Jeff Foust on Leonard Nimoy's thoughts on NASA.
Born Under Punches

Yep, still here. See occasional updates under The Year in Books and The Year in Shorts.

Things have not gotten quieter since my father died. Since then my mother has had a broken furnace, a broken water heater (twice) and a broken septic system. Plus harassing telephone calls from somebody who got her name from one of the published obituaries.

Toss in some health issues with the in-laws. Shake well and toss in a aged dog who is getting more aged (16+ years, breed average 10 years) who has been to the vets twice this week and is now in doggy hospital. Toss in homework, book reports, projects, etc.

Life is busy. Just not busy online. But, yep, I am still here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

To Say Nothing of the Dog

"Well, the fact of the matter, Stephen," said Jack, staring at the cow, "the fact of the matter is that she refuses the bull. He is game enough, oh Lord, yes; but she will have nothing to say to him. Then he flies into a hellfire passion, bellowing and tearing up the ground; and we go without milk."
A Voice Crieth Out in the Wilderness

[Sophie said] "Tell me, how do you find [Jack], after all these weeks?'

'More worn than I could wish,' said Stephen, looking at her.

'Yes,' said Sophie, and she paused before going on, 'And there is something on his mind. He is not the same. It is not only the ships and all the business: besides, the invaluable Mr Adams takes a great deal of that off his hands. No. There is a sort of is not that he is in the least unkind—but you might almost say a coldness. No. That would be an absurd exaggeration. But he often sleeps in his study because of the paper-work or because he is out late. And even when he does not he gets up at night and walks about until the morning.'

(Patrick O'Brian, The Commodore)

(Administrative Note: I am still around. I am still alive. However, family matters continue to wear me down.)

Thursday, April 01, 2010


The April 2010 issue of the one science fiction fanzine you just can't do without is...out.

Bruce Sterling has discovered that Hacking in the Computer World by 'Sandeep Gupta', published in 2004, is in fact a pirate repackaging of his very own The Hacker Crackdown (1992). 'Great re-skinning job there! Digging the new cover!' (Wired blog, 17 March) [LP]