Sunday, August 23, 2015

An honor just to be nominated

That my story "Championship B'tok" made it onto the final ballot for this year's Hugo awards? It was a surprise and an honor, notwithstanding the accompanying puppygate controversy. To share the novelette category with four such fine stories -- including two by fellow Analog-ians Mike Flynn and Rajnar Vajra -- only enhanced the honor.

2007 version
That was April. It's now August, and the votes have been counted. Thomas Olde Heuvelt will be taking home the rocket. Let me be among the first to congratulate him.

That's all I'll say for now about the news ... but in a few days, I may have something to add.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Stoopid clock!!

Going really fast and dropping into a gravitational rabbit hole are both proven ways to make time's passage slow down. Having too much that needs doing? That seems to have the opposite effect.

So: no post for awhile. With luck, next week.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Short stuff

I've largely spent 2015 completing InterstellarNet: Enigma, serializing it, supporting the publisher's launch efforts, and attending the latest Nebula Awards weekend (plus bunches o' personal activities -- all good, just not relevant here). But don't take that emphasis to mean there's no other writing going on ...

Are you done with steampunk? (That's SF re-imagined as though progress ended with Victorian science and technology.) Editors Thomas A. Easton and Judith K. Dial were ... and they put out the call for SF stories set in a later, but still retro era. The result -- and see the gorgeous cover nearby -- was Deco Punk: The Spirit of the Age. My contribution to the anthology was "Judy Garland Saves the World (And I Don't Mean Oz)."

I had so much fun with that foray into the era between the World Wars that I tried my hand at another such story. That became "Soap Opera," in an upcoming (but as yet unscheduled) issue of Analog.

Analog, of course, is a frequent home of my shorter writings. So you'll likely not be surprised that I have more things in their pipeline:

Monday, August 3, 2015

And now for something (in fact, many somethings) completely different

I read mostly SF and current science/technology. For a change of pace, I recently pulled off my shelf a thick volume that I had forgotten even owning. It's been years -- at the least -- since I bought it.

But this book was well worth the wait.

Highly recommended
The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself, by Daniel J. Boorstin, is as ambitious as the title suggests. Boorstin, if the name isn't familiar, was Librarian of Congress from 1975 to 1987. An historian, educated at Harvard, Oxford, and Yale, his writing is as solid and meticulously detailed as anyone could want -- and for all its encyclopedic depth and breadth, eminently readable.

The Discoverers takes on -- and admirably discharges --  the project of  surveying how our modern scientific understanding came about. It's a scholarly salute to the pioneers of dozens of fields, from explorers to clock makers to archeologists to ... you name it.

Beyond fascinating and cogent introductions to many scientific topics, and the often quirky biographies of the key players, Boorstin provides context. Why did a particular advance occur when it did? Why in one part of the world, or in a particular culture, and not others? How did deference to Ptolemy, Aristotle, Galen, and Confucius, among many,  inform -- or impede -- the development of science? How did prevailing beliefs, both religious and philosophical, advance or impede particular revolutions in thought? How did seemingly disjoint scientific awakenings pave the way for whole new disciplines?

The Discoverers examines geographical exploration, the invention of objective methods of measurement, standardization of calendars and chronologies (how else can one even hope to talk about world history?), evolution, economics, anthropology, the discovery of prehistory, advances in astronomy, and much more.

But beyond its fascinating narratives and diverting anecdotes, The Discoverers offers food for thought. Throughout mankind's millennia-long career, the common understanding(s) of our world's true nature has undergone revolution upon revolution. Much that we moderns immodestly take to be proven fact is of very recent vintage. Most science dates back no more than a few centuries -- and some branches are younger than that. Peer back even a few decades at what was then perceived wisdom, and it looks quaint. Cutting-edge technology from that same era already often seems primitive. It's enough to make one wonder: how much of what we feel certain about today will likewise seem misguided mere decades hence?

The Discovers, by Daniel J. Boorstin. Highly recommended.