Monday, April 21, 2008

The Space Review

In the current issue of The Space Review, three articles of interst. Jeff Foust looks at what the "elder statesmen" of NASA might be able to bring to the VSE. Jeff Foust then reviews To the End of the Solar System, now available both more widely and more cheaply than before. And, Dwayne A. Day looks at an anime series set in the near future.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Down Among the Dead Men

Transhuman; edited by Mark L. Van Name and T.K.F. Weisskopf (Baen Books, 2007, ISBN 978-14165-5523-0; cover by Dave Sealy).

(Two background items: Vernor Vinge's now-classic paper on the Singularity. I would also recommend a look at Accelerando by Charles Stross, as the themes explored in that book often dovetail nicely with the themes explored in these stories...or diverge dramatically. Either way, you can get it for free at that link.)

(Several stories have introductions and/or afterwords, this bumps up the overall story count.)

Firewall (David D. Levine): An isolated base on the Moon is infiltrated by the singularity event. Can they believe what they are being told about life being better after the Singularity?

Reunion (Mark L. Van Name): A computer programmer who thinks who is a downloaded program. Is he? Or is he one of many who are suffering from similar delusions? His quest for identity takes him to an series of high school reunions and the realization that maybe what he is does not matter as much as who he is and how he acts.

The Guardian (Paul Chafe): The best story in the collection (so far). A policeman is uploaded into a security system after his death. As he becomes better and better at "his" job, more capabilities are added. Chafe subtly works this in by increasing the detail of the writing, increasing the tempo of the plot. And, an unexpected ending (not where I thought it was going to go, to be sure).

Being Human (Wen Spencer): Spencer takes the approach that the Singularlity event will not quite be "the rapture of the nerds", with everybody ending up in some computerized wonderland. Instead, people will be digitized as they die. This is quite a creepy little tale, reminding me of Ray Bradbury's idyllic towns in Something Wicked This Way Comes or The Martian Chronicles. Idyllic with dark undertones, that is.

Made up of: Introduction (Mark L. Van Name); Firewall (David D. Levine); Reunion (Mark L. Van Name) (extensive afterword); The Guardian (Paul Chafe) (extensive afterword); Being Human (Wen Spencer) (extensive afterword); In Command (John Lampshead); G@vin45 (Daniel M. Hoyt); Home for the Holidays (Ester M. Friesner); Soul Sprinter (Wil McCarthy); Whom the Gods Love (Sarah A. Hoyt); Wetware 2.0 (Dave Freer); Escape (James P. Hogan); About the Contributors.

Counts as 8 entries in the 2008 Year in Shorts.
Shuffle Mania

Following up on this posting, here's what has been on the playlist to date (future entries will only be for a single month!).

Unless I'm on an extended drive, I've been using the "shuffle" feature more on the iPod. After a couple of weeks of doing this, I changed the contents to remove the classical pieces that I had loaded. Too many of them are linked, at least in my mind, so listening to them as an occasional random bit did not work.

I'm still puzzled by how the iPod chooses songs in shuffle mode. On occasion, two songs by one artist will play back-to-back. One day I heard about a dozen songs on the commute and exactly half of them were all by Sting. Other albums have not been touched at all during three months. Very weird.

(What’s amazing to look at the list is not so much as how much music I listened too...but how much music is still in the collection that I have not gotten to!)

(Does not include audiobooks, podcasts and the like.)

On to the selections. In some cases the whole album was heard, in other cases I'll still be hearing bits and pieces in the future.

A Produce:
Land of a Thousand Trances
A Smooth Surface

I first heard tracks by A Produce on the show Hearts of Space. I really need to get whatever other albums have come out, this is still astounding stuff, to me.

Tori Amos:
Little Earthquakes

Laurie Anderson:
Life on a String
Mr. Heartbreak

Art of Noise:
The Best of The Art of Noise
The Seduction of Claude Debussy

Another group I have neglected in purchases, considering how many times I have listened to these two albums!

The B-52’s:
Time Capsule (Songs for a Future Generation)

Pretty much this album gets it all by The B-52's.

Johann Sebastian Bach:
The Brandenburg Concertos (2 CD’s)
The Cello Suites (Volume 2)
Coffee Cantata & Peasant Cantata
The Complete Keyboard Works (Volume 10)
The Complete Keyboard Works (Volume 13)

As much Bach as I have, I still feel like I've only scratched the surface!

The Bangles:
Greatest Hits

The Beatles:
Abbey Road
A Hard Day’s Night
The Beatles (White Album) (2 CD's)
Rubber Soul

Luigi Boccherini:
Cello Concertos, Volume 2, Nos. 5-8

David Bowie:
Fame 90

Maire Brennan:

Jackson Browne:
The Pretender

Harold Budd:
Lovely Thunder
The Pearl (with Brian Eno & Daniel Lanois)
Through the Hill (with Andy Partridge)

With or without Eno, Budd is one interesting composer.

Kate Bush:
Aerial: A Sky of Honey
The Dreaming
Hounds of Love
The Kick Inside
Never for Ever
The Red Shoes
The Sensual World
The Whole Story

One of my all-time favorites. Doesn't create fast enough, though.

The Byrds:
Greatest Hits

David Byrne:
The Catherine Wheel
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (with Brian Eno)

Sean Callery:
24: Season 1 (soundtrack)
24: Seasons 4 & 5 (soundtrack)

Wendy Carlos:
Beauty in the Beast
Digital Moonscapes
Rediscovering Lost Scores, Volume 1 (soundtrack)
Rediscovering Lost Scores, Volume 2 (soundtrack)
Tales of Heaven and Hell

The Clash:
Combat Rock
London Calling

Dire Straits:
Brothers in Arms
Making Movies

Electric Light Orchestra:
Face the Music

Brian Eno:
The Shutov Assembly
Apollo: Atmosphers & Soundtracks (with Roger Eno & Daniel Lanois)
Here Come the Warm Jets
Music for Films
Nerve Net
Spinner (with Jah Wobble)

Eno is one of my all-time favorites.

Roger Eno:
The Familiar (with Kate St. John)
The Flatlands
Lost in Translation

His brother ain't half bad, either.

A Day Without Rain
The Memory of Trees
Shepherd Moons

Greatest Hits

Donald Fagen:
The Nightfly

Richard Feynman:
The Feynman Tapes, Volume 1
The Feynman Tapes, Volume 2
Safecracker Suite
Tuva Talk

A combination of music and dialogue recorded by one of Feynman's friends. Some really funny stuff in here!

Fleetwood Mac:
Fleetwood Mac
Tango in the Night

Peter Gabriel:
Secret World Live (2 CD’s)

Invisible Touch
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
We Can’t Dance

Lisa Gerrard:
The Mirror Pool

Richard Gibbs:
Battlestar Galactica (Pilot)

Philip Glass:
Kundun (soundtrack)
Philip on Film: Filmworks by Philip Glass (boxed set)
Solo Piano
Songs from Liquid Days

Glass is another composer that has done so much that I always feel like I am only scratching the surface.

Global Communications:

As far as I know, a one-album wonder. But what a wonder!

Eliot Goldenthal and Others:
Heat (soundtrack)

Like several of the soundtracks listed here (e.g., Blackhawk Down), something that I listen to over and over again.

Joel Goldsmith:
Stargate SG-1 (Music from the Original Television Series) (soundtrack)

Herbie Hancock:
Future Shock

George Harrison:
Cloud Nine

M.C. Hawking:
E=MC Hawking

Little Queen

Joe Hisaishi:
Spirited Away (soundtrack)

Michael Hoenig:
Departure from the Northern Wasteland

Another interesting atmospheric effort. Something I visit at least yearly.

Gustav Holst:
The Planets Suite

James Horner:
A Beautiful Mind (soundtrack)
Sneakers (soundtrack)

Two more soundtracks that I revisit on a constant basis.

Indigo Girls:
Nomads Indians Saints

Jade Warrior:
Elements (2 CD’s)

I usually jokingly call this "Japanese jazz". This set is made up of four albums. The group seemed to hit a bumpy spot at one point, anything out after these four albums just isn't as good.

Jean Michel Jarre:

King Crimson:
The Abbreviated King Crimson (a.k.a., Heartbeat)
Absent Lovers (Live in Montreal, 1984) (2 CD's)
Three of a Perfect Pair
The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson (two boxed sets)

Good stuff. Sometimes hard to listen to, in places, but good stuff.

Mark Knopfler:
All the Roadrunning (with Emmylou Harris)
Golden Heart
Neck and Neck (with Chet Atkins)

With or without Dire Straits, one of my favorites.

David Lanz:
Cristofori’s Dream

Ambient Three: Day of Radiance
Flow Goes the Universe

Another discovery by Brian Eno. Good mediations.

Ray Lynch:
Deep Breakfast

Paul McCartney:
Band on the Run (with Wings)

Bear McCreary:
Battlestar Galactica, Season 1
Battlestar Galactica, Season 2
Battlestar Galactica, Season 3

Loreena McKennitt:
The Mask and the Mirror

Sarah McLachlan:
Fumbling Towards Ectasy

Pat Metheny:
Under Missouri Skies (with Charlie Haden)
As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (with Lyle Mays)

The first is one of my all-time favorites. Great music for those summer days after several hours of lawn work or fence painting, when you have a couple of cold ones.

The Patti Smith Group:

Giorgio Moroder:
Cat People (soundtrack)

Michael Nyman:
The Piano (soundtrack)
The Piano Concerto & MGV

Robert Palmer:
Heavy Nova

Tom Petty:
Full Moon Fever
Playback (boxed set)
She’s the One (soundtrack) (with The Heartbreakers)

The Police:
Regatta de Blanc

R.E.M. :
Out of Time

Graeme Revell:
Frank Herbert’s Dune (soundtrack)

Robert Rich:

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov:
The Best of Rimsky-Korsakov

Steve Roach:
Body Electric (with Vir Unis)
Dreaming...Now, Then: A Retrospective (A Retrospective, 1982-1987) (2 CD's)
Light Fantastic
Kiva (with Michael Stearns & Ron Sunsinger)

Rich and Roach are two artists that I discovered via the radio show Hearts of Space. Their albums are rich, complex, strange. And they are both prolific...lots more to buy!

The Robert Fripp String Quartet:
The Bridge Between

Todd Rundgren:
Something/Anything (2 CD's)

Klaus Schulze:

Robert Schroeder:
Brain Voyager
Harmonic Ascendant

Andres Segovia:
The Segovia Collection (boxed set)

Paul Simon:
Negotiations and Love Songs (1971-1986) (2 CD’s)
The Rhythms of the Saints
You’re the One

Patti Smith:
Gone Again

Mark Snow:
Songs in the Key of X (soundtrack)
The Truth and the Light (Music from the X Files) (soundtrack)

The second is a mixture of music from the show and dialogue snippets. You pretty much get the thrust of the first several seasons from this CD!

Chip Meditation, Part 1
Chip Mediation, Part 2
Electronic Universe, Part 1
Electronic Universe, Part 2
Modesty Blaze
Past Present Future, Part 1
Past Present Future, Part 2

A group that never quite (in the US) achieved the fame that Tangerine Dream did. The collections have a lot of good stuff on them, the non-collections vary widely in quality.

Fernando Sor:
Guitar Duets (Complete) (Volume 1)
Guitar Duets (Complete) (Volume 2)
Guitar Music

Michael Stearns & Ron Sunsinger:
Singing Stones

Steely Dan:
Can’t Buy a Thrill
Countdown to Ecstasy
Katy Lied
Pretzel Logic
The Royal Scam
Two Against Nature

Another all-time favorite.

Leith Stevens:
Destination Moon (soundtrack)

A classic soundtrack of a classic movie.

Brand New Day
The Dream of the Blue Turtles
Fields of Gold
Mercury Falling
Nothing Like the Sun
The Soul Cages
Ten Summoner’s Tales

David Sylvian:
Damage: Live in London, December 1983 (with Robert Fripp)
Dead Bees on a Cake
Everything and Nothing (2 CD's)
Gone to Earth
Secrets of the Beehive

Recommended by a friend. I'm glad he did.

The Jupiter Menace

Talking Heads:
Fear of Music
Little Creatures
The Name of This Band is Talking Heads (2 CD's)
Remain in Light
Sand in the Vaseline (2 CD's)
True Stories

Another recommendation (years ago) of a friend.

Tangerine Dream:
220 Volt Live
Force Majeure
The Keep (soundtrack)
Legend (soundtrack)
Lily on the Beach
Miracle Mile (soundtrack)
Optical Race
The Park is Mine (soundtrack)
Pergamon (Live at the Palast Der Republik, GDR) (2 CD's)
Poland: The Warsaw Concert (2 CD’s)
Risky Business (soundtrack)
Thief (soundtrack)
Turn of the Tides
Tyranny of Beauty
Underwater Sunlight
White Eagle

A band that has varied widely in my interest over the years. Their best efforts, for me, were in the 1970's and early 1980's, as well as several soundtrack albums. Once the group seemed to be run only by the father and son...I stopped buying their stuff.

Peter Tchaikovsky & Ludwig van Beethoven:
1812 Overture & Wellington’s Victory

10,000 Maniacs:
Blind Man's Zoo
Hope Chest: The Fredonia Recordings 1982-1983
In My Tribe
Love Among the Ruins
MTV Unplugged
Our Time in Eden
The Wishing Chair

Fiorella Terenzi:
Music from the Galaxies

The Planets (Holst)
Snowflakes are Dancing (Debussy)

Brian Tyler:
Frank Herbert’s The Children of Dune (soundtrack)

Achtung Baby
Joshua Tree
Rattle & Hum
The Unforgettable Fire

Oops! Wrong Planet!
Swing to the Right

Blade Runner (soundtrack)
1492: The Conquest of Paradise (soundtrack)

Ambient (A Brief History of Ambient) (2 CD’s)
Forrest Gump (soundtrack) (2 CD’s)
The Big Chill (soundtrack)
Celestial Journey 2
Celtic Twilight
Cruisers 1.0
Gettysburg (soundtrack) (Randy Edelman and others)
Guitar Concertos
Hearts of Space: Universe 3
Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World (sountrack) (Davies & Gordon & Tognetti and others)
MBNT (A Recollection of Proto-Ambient from Hearts of Space)
Miramar Collection 1
More Songs from Gettysburg (soundtrack) Randy Edelman and others)
Musical Evenings in the Captain’s Cabin: Duos for Violin and Cello
Musical Evenings with the Captain, Volume 1
Musical Evenings with the Captain, Volume 2
The Music of Cosmos (soundtrack) (2 CD’s)
O Brother, Where Art Thou (soundtrack)
Roast Beef of Old England
Starflight 1
The Sounds of Murphy Brown (soundtrack)
Unidentified Floating Ambience
Universe Sampler 92
Whaling and Sailing Songs from the Days of Moby Dick

Heitor Villa-Lobos:
Complete Music for Solo Guitar

Bill Whelan:
Riverdance (soundtrack)

The Who:
Tommy (2 CD’s)

John Williams:
The Indiana Jones Trilogy

Mason Williams and Mannheim Steamroller:
Classical Gas

George Winston:
Linus & Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi
Winter into Spring

Steve Winwood:
Arc of a Diver
Back in the High Life
Junction Seven

The Big Express
Black Sea
Drums and Wires
English Settlement
Oranges & Lemons
Rag & Bone Buffet

A college discovery that I go back to again and again.

The Ladder
Magnification (2 CD’s)
Symphonic Music of Yes
Tales from Topographic Oceans (2 CD’s)
The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection (boxed set)

Out there they are. Strange they are. But one of the greats.

Hans Zimmer:
Blackhawk Down (soundtrack) (with others)

One of my all-time favorite albums. I bought it before I saw the movie, loved it just for the music. After seeing the movie, I love it for the connections with the movie as well.
Another Ansible

It's back! It's up!

As Others Research Us. 'I've always been a fan of H.G. Wells, the 19th/20th century British sci-fi author. You know, he's the guy who penned such classics as "The War of the Worlds," "The Time Machine" and my personal favorite, "1984."' (Greg Bucci, city editor, Mohave Valley Daily News, 13 March) [MRL]

I'm always amazed at the stuff he finds.