Thursday, December 15, 2005

What He Said

For myself, I probably stand alone in owning to a sentimental weakness for the night-piercing whistle--judiciously remote, as some men love the skirl of the pipes. In the days when streets were less wearily familiar than now, or ever the golden cord was quite loosed that led back to relinquished fields and wider skies, I have lain awake on stifling summer nights, thinking of luckier friends by moor and stream, and listening for the whistles from certain railway stations, veritable "horns of Elf-land, faintly blowing." Then, a ghostly passenger, I have taken my seat in a phantom train, and sped up, up, through the map, rehearsing the journey bit by bit: through the furnace-lit Midlands, and on till the grey glimmer of dawn showed stone walls in place of hedges, and masses looming up on either side; till the bright sun shone upon brown leaping streams and purple heather, and the clear, sharp northern air streamed in through the windows..."We are only the children who might have been," murmured Lamb's dream babes to him; and for the sake of those dream-journeys, the journeys that might have been, I still hail with a certain affection the call of the engine in the night...


—Kenneth Grahame, "The Romance of the Rail", Pagan Papers (essays)

In later years it is stifled and gagged--buried deep, a green turf at the head of it, and on its heart a stone; but it lives, it breathes, it lurks, it will up and out when 'tis looked for least. That stockbroker, some brief summers gone, who was missed from his wonted place one settling-day! a goodly portly man, i' faith: and had a villa and a steam launch at Surbiton: and was versed in the esoteric humours of the House. Who could have thought that the Hunter lay hid in him? Yet, after many weeks, they found him in a wild nook of Hampshire. Ragged, sun-burnt, the nocturnal haystack calling aloud from his frayed and weather-stained duds, his trousers tucked, he was tickling trout with godless native urchins; and when they would have won him to himself with honied whispers of American Rails, he answered but with babble of green fields. He is back in his wonted corner now: quite cured, apparently, and tractable. And yet--let the sun shine too wantonly in Throgmorton Street, let an errant zephyr, quick with the warm South, fan but his cheek too wooingly on his way to the station; and will he not once more snap his chain and away? Ay, truly: and next time he will not be caught.


—Kenneth Grahame, "Orion", Pagan Papers (essays)

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Authorized Biography

Neil McAleer was given the blessing to write Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography. This biography really didn't tell me anything that I did not know about Clarke from reading his many non-fiction pieces. I get the impression that McAleer used the same sources, plus some interviews with associates and family members. You really don't get much of the "inner Clarke" here.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Space Is A Place

One potential setting is either the asteroid belt or an asteroid in general. Looking at this site, there seems to be no lack of material for resources!
L5 News

One good source of scenarios are the back issues of the newsletter for the L5 Society. They can be found online here. NASA's space settlement studies can be found here and can be found here. A special issue of CoEvolution Quarterly is also online.
Geologic History of the Moon

One setting for a story is on the Moon, around the time that it starts to get explored again. This work is considered one of the seminal papers on the structure of the Moon.
Borderlands of Science

Another good non-fiction reference is Borderlands of Science by the late Charles Sheffield. As with the previous book mentioned, Baen Books has an electronic version available. If I could get anywhere near the level of these stories, I'd be a very happy camper.
Indistinguishable from Magic

Indistinguishable from Magic is a non-fiction book by the late Dr. Robert L. Forward. He takes a look at (what was at the time of the writing) some bleeding-edge science. A good book for reference if you're writing science fiction. And, even better, Baen Books has an electronic version available!
Project Rho

One of the most invaluable sites on the web. By the time you work through the Atomic Rockets section, you'll be ready to fly your own spaceship!
The World, The Flesh and The Devil

One of the biggest inspirations to science fiction has been a little book called The World, The Flesh and The Devil by J.D. Bernal. There are a couple of versions available online, this one is pretty good (if you ignore some of the additions).

For a good addition, however, I recommend this posting at Impearls. Michael McNeil got permission to post Freeman Dyson's look back and speculations forward from Bernal's seminal work.
Beginnings Are Delicate Things

So I've been kicking around a couple of story ideas and a framework to hang them on. This blog will show some of the framework and perhaps (if I feel brave enough) drafts of the stories.