Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Star Maker

So, So, So Many Wednesday Links!

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* Just in time for my next trip to Liverpool, the research from my last trip to Liverpool five years ago is finally published! “‘A Dread Mystery, Compelling Adoration’: Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker, and Totality.”

* Social Text interviews Fredric Jameson: “Revisiting Postmodernism.”

Is this sympathy for these arts of the past why in your recent work you returned to questions of modernism and realism?

The series you are alluding to [The Poetics of Social Forms] was always planned that way. I mean, I started with utopias, that is, science fiction and the future; then I went to postmodernism, which is the present, and so I’m making my way back into a certain past—to realism and then on to allegory and to epic and finally to narrative itself, which has always been my primary interest. Maybe indeed I have less to say about contemporary works than about even the recent past; or let’s say I have built up a certain capital of reading but am not making any new and exciting investments any longer. It’s a problem: you can either read or write, but time intervenes, and you have to choose between them. Still, I feel that I always discover new things about the present when working on these moments of the past. Allegory, for example, is both antiquated and surprisingly actual, and the work on museum pieces suddenly proves to make you aware of present-day processes that you weren’t aware of.

* George Saunders has finally written a novel, and I’d bet it’s not what you were expecting.

* Marquette will pilot a J-term.

* Earth First, Then Mars: An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson.

* Relatedly: Would it be immoral to send out a generation starship?

The Tuskegee Experiment Kept Killing Black People Decades After It Ended.

* A Brief History of Marilyn Monroe Reading Ulysses. Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Map of Ulysses.

ClcQJJfWQAA_kon* Donald Trump Far Behind Hillary Clinton in Campaign Cash. More. More. More! The only credible answer is that it is difficult or perhaps even impossible for him to produce these comparatively small sums. If that’s true, his claim to be worth billions of dollars must either be a pure sham and a fraud or some artful concoction of extreme leverage and accounting gimmickry, which makes it impossible to come up with actual cash. Even the conservative NRO! Unraveling Con. The United States of Trump. Will Trump Swallow the GOP Whole? This number in Donald Trump’s very bad fundraising report will really worry GOP donors. The Weird Mad Men Connection. There is “Incredibly Strong Evidence” Donald Trump Has Committed Tax Fraud. And these had already happened before the FEC report: Ryan Instructs Republicans to Follow Their ‘Conscience’ on Trump. Scott Walker agrees! Top GOP Consultant Unleashes Epic #NeverTrump Tweetstorm. Donald Trump Agreed to Call 24 Donors, Made It Through Three Before Giving Up. And the polls, my god, the polls. There Is No Trump Campaign. If things go on this way, can the Democrats retake the House? Endgame for the grift, just as Alyssa Rosenberg tried to warn us. How to Trump.

But this one is still my favorite:

* Meanwhile, the DNC’s oppo file on Trump seems surprisingly thin. This Is the Only Good Oppo Research the DNC Has on Trump.

In a Chicago Tribune article from 1989 (which Buzzfeed actually discovered just under a week ago), Donald Trump reveals that he “doesn’t believe in reincarnation, heaven, or hell.” As far as the DNC is concerned, though, it’s Trump’s apparent lack of faith in God’s eternal kingdom, specifically, that’s damning enough for use as ammo.

* Read Sonia Sotomayor’s Atomic Bomb of a Dissent Slamming Racial Profiling and Mass Imprisonment.

* Cognitive dissonance watch: Could Congress Have Stopped Omar Mateen From Getting His Guns? Gun control’s racist reality: The liberal argument against giving police more power. How I Bought an AR-15 in a Five Guys Parking Lot.

Anti-Brexit British MP Assassinated on the Street.

Venezuelans Ransack Stores as Hunger Grips the Nation.

The TSA Is Bad Because We Demand That It Be Bad. One Woman’s Case Proves: It’s Basically Impossible to Get Off the ‘No-Fly List.’

* The hack that could take down New York City.

* Rethinking teaching evaluations.

* Study Finds 1 out of 10 Cal State Students is Homeless.

What Are College Governing Boards Getting From Their Search Firms?

Saying victims are to blame, at least in part, for their sexual assaults is a legal tactic used by many colleges accused of negligence.

How Not to Write About College Students and Free Speech.

* Once they killed a president with a diet of beef bouillon, egg yolks, milk, whiskey and drops of opium, delivered rectally.

* A map of North America, in Tolkien’s style. Keep scrolling! There’s many more links below.

AorakiMaps-tolkein

On Thursday, Philadelphia became the first major US city to adopt a tax on carbonated and sugary drinks. I’d rather see an outright ban than an attempt to turn it into a permanent revenue stream. New “soda tax” measures show just how narrow the liberal vision has become.

* Missing Barnes and Noble.

It’s not the right question to ask “how do I get 200 students with laptops in a lecture hall to learn my course material?” Why are they in a lecture hall for 50 minutes, three days a week for 15 weeks or whatever the schedule is? Why do they need to learn the material in your course?

* The illusion of progress: Ditching the headphone jack on phones makes them worse.

* The mind behind UnREAL.

* We’re All Forum Writers Now.

Space Travel Has ‘Permanent Effects,’ Astronaut Scott Kelly Says.

* Sherryl Vint on China Miéville’s The Census-Taker, a book that wasn’t especially well-received by the other critics I’ve read.

At the moment, Netflix has a negative cash flow of almost $1 billion; it regularly needs to go to the debt market to replenish its coffers. Its $6.8 billion in revenue last year pales in comparison to the $28 billion or so at media giants like Time Warner and 21st Century Fox. And for all the original shows Netflix has underwritten, it remains dependent on the very networks that fear its potential to destroy their longtime business model in the way that internet competitors undermined the newspaper and music industries. Now that so many entertainment companies see it as an existential threat, the question is whether Netflix can continue to thrive in the new TV universe that it has brought into being.

* Waukegan group offers tours to raise awareness for proposed Ray Bradbury museum.

* What’s happening in Oakland is incredible.

* #TheWakandaSyllabus. Trump 101. A response to the Trump Syllabus.

* Secrets of my blogging: Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting.

Homeless in Seattle: five essays.

* Jay Edidin on How to Be a Guy: After Orlando.

* Cunning Sansa, or Dim Sansa? Game of Thrones’ bungled Arya plot explains why George R.R. Martin’s taking so long to finish the books.

* Presenting the world’s ugliest color.

The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife. I want to believe!

* “People believe that a plane is less likely to crash if a famous person is among the passengers.”

* Death of a startup.

* Such a sad story: Alligator Drags Off 2-Year-Old at Disney Resort in Orlando. My son turns two today, which is almost too much to bear in juxtaposition with this headline.

* The Pixar Theory of Labor.

* The boys are back in town. It’s too late for you. It’s too late for all of us now.

Now new research helps explain the parental happiness gap, suggesting it’s less about the children and more about family support in the country where you live.

The Microsoft founder and philanthropist recently said he would donate 100,000 hens to countries with high poverty levels, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa but including Bolivia. Bolivia produces 197m chickens annually and has the capacity to export 36m, the local poultry producing association said.

* “Why Chris Pine says you can’t make Star Trek cerebral in 2016.” Respectfully disagree. Meanwhile, sad news in advance of next month’s release of Star Trek Beyond.

That Scrapped Star Wars TV Show Would’ve Starred a Sympathetic, Heartbroken Emperor. Sounds like they were aiming at a version of Daredevil‘s Kingpin plot.

* Laying down my marker now that Flashpoint won’t save The Flash from its downward spiral. Meanwhile, DC seems utterly spooked by the failure of Batman v. Superman and has opened the set of Justice League to reporters to try to spin a new narrative. Lynda Carter is your new POTUS on CW’s Supergirl. Syfy’s Krypton Show Already Sounds Goofy as Shit.

There really was a creepy fifth housemate lurking in cult British TV show The Young Ones.

* In praise of She-Ra.

* Two thousand miles away from the U.S. A-bomb tests in 1945, something weird was happening to Kodak’s film.

Why NASA sent 3 defenseless Legos to die on Jupiter. Earth’s New ‘Quasi’ Moon Will Stick Around for Centuries. Astronomers say there could be at least 2 more mystery planets in our Solar System.

Proportional Pie Chart of the World’s Most Spoken Languages.

* True stories from my childhood having purchased the wrong video game system: 10 of the best Sega Genesis games that deserve a comeback.

* Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

* And Quantum Leap is back, baby! I have five spec scripts in my desk ready to go.

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 22, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Adventures in Time and Space

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Written by gerrycanavan

October 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Wednesday 2

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Wednesday 2.

* My North Carolinian readers should consider sending a letter expressing their displeasure to the offices of our senator, Kay Hagan, who as Facing South reports is currently one of the major stumbling blocks for health care reform.

Sen. Kay Hagan
521 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-6342
Fax: 202-228-2563

You can contact her via email at her web site, but a snail mail letter is still best.

* Climate Progress analyzes the concessions made to Collin Peterson to get Waxman-Markey to the floor this week. Kevin Drum and Yglesias has more, as well as a teaser for how much worse the Senate version will be.

* Also from Yglesias: (1) a post on Asimov’s novel The Gods Themselves that intrigued me enough to drop everything and read the book and (2) a report that the Iranian soccer players who wore green in solidarity with the protesters have been banned from the sport for life. The Gods Themselves, I can report, is a great read: in addition to the environmental allegory Yglesias highlights there’s also some really intriguing queer sexuality stuff in the “how aliens have sex” section—very rare for Asimov—and a nice Star Maker-style cosmology regarding the origin of the universe and the fates of planets that don’t solve their energy crises. I think Asimov’s probably right that it’s his best book.

* Squaring off on the suckiness of Transformers II. In this corner, Roger Ebert:

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.

And in this corner, Walter Chaw:

The worst summer in recent memory continues as Michael Bay brings his slow push-ins and Lazy Susan dolly shots back to the cineplex with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (hereafter Transformers 2), the ugliest, most hateful, most simple-minded and incomprehensible assault on art and decency since the last Michael Bay movie.

* And your webcomic of the day: Warbot in Accounting.

Fifty Fantasy & Science Fiction Works That Socialists Should Read

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Fifty fantasy & science fiction works that socialists should read. Cool list—if a bit questionable sometimes. (Beloved? Really?) Perhaps not surprisingly, this is all very contiguous with my exam lists. A few notable omissions, off the top of my head: John Brunner’s ecopocalyptic The Sheep Look Up (1972), which I’ve been meaning to blog about for months now; the incomparable Samuel Delany’s Triton (1976), likewise; Joanna Russ’s The Female Man (1975); and, most unforgivably, Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker (1937), which I’ve blogged about once or twice and which I must insist again is very, very good.

See also: Portable Learner’s reading list for time travel and alternate history, in which I must say I am also surprisingly well-read.

That pun is fully intended.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 3, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Great Opening Sentences from Science Fiction

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io9’s playing with great opening sentences from science fiction. (More at MeFi.) Contrary to the aesthetics of io9’s list, it seems to me that the best are those which refuse to immediately announce themselves as science fiction. Here are just a few from favorite s.f. novels that I haven’t seen anywhere else (all links go to Amazon):

“We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.”
—Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“Mars was empty before we came.”
—Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

“On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.”
—Richard Matheson, I Am Legend

“What’s it going to be then, eh?”
—Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

Though what can match the quiet elegance of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed? “There was a wall.”

Unless of course it’s Octavia Butler in Dawn: “Alive!”

QUICK UPDATE: I realized too late that I’d omitted a book that should be on any list of this sort, Olaf Staledon’s Star Maker:

One night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill.

kidding on the square

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I’ve put together another experimental post on science fiction theory for culturemonkey, this one playing with Greimas squares, subgenres, and Olaf Stapledon’s wonderful novel Star Maker. As with others, it’s a bit theoretical and a bit undercooked…

Written by gerrycanavan

March 21, 2008 at 2:32 am

‘Enjoy life while you can. Because if you’re lucky it’s going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.’

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“It’s just too late for it,” he says. “Perhaps if we’d gone along routes like that in 1967, it might have helped. But we don’t have time. All these standard green things, like sustainable development, I think these are just words that mean nothing. I get an awful lot of people coming to me saying you can’t say that, because it gives us nothing to do. I say on the contrary, it gives us an immense amount to do. Just not the kinds of things you want to do.”

He dismisses eco ideas briskly, one by one. “Carbon offsetting? I wouldn’t dream of it. It’s just a joke. To pay money to plant trees, to think you’re offsetting the carbon? You’re probably making matters worse. You’re far better off giving to the charity Cool Earth, which gives the money to the native peoples to not take down their forests.”

Do he and his wife try to limit the number of flights they take? “No we don’t. Because we can’t.” And recycling, he adds, is “almost certainly a waste of time and energy”, while having a “green lifestyle” amounts to little more than “ostentatious grand gestures”. He distrusts the notion of ethical consumption. “Because always, in the end, it turns out to be a scam … or if it wasn’t one in the beginning, it becomes one.”

James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia hypothesis, says we’re all screwed. MeFi continues its never-ending discussion about the extent to which the sky is really falling. There’s something of Olaf Stapledon’s wonderful Star Maker, which I think I should have more to say about soon, in the way this article ends:

“There have been seven disasters since humans came on the earth, very similar to the one that’s just about to happen. I think these events keep separating the wheat from the chaff. And eventually we’ll have a human on the planet that really does understand it and can live with it properly. That’s the source of my optimism.”

And of course, something of No Future as well:

What would Lovelock do now, I ask, if he were me? He smiles and says: “Enjoy life while you can. Because if you’re lucky it’s going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.”

Written by gerrycanavan

March 3, 2008 at 9:55 pm