Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More Ellison Wonderland

Harlan Ellison; The Harlan Ellison Hornbook (E-Reads Ltd. via Webscriptions; ASIN ERBAEN0069; cover by Leo & Diane Dillon).

Following up on this read, I have continued my sampling of Ellison's short works (in electronic format) with this collection of essays. Derived from a essay series (which appeared in a number of publications) running under the same name, these are pretty much in a similar vein to the earlier collection (and even have a few that are repeated from that collection). Perhaps a bit more LA-centric, still a lot of good stuff here. I think I will take a break from Mr. Ellison for a bit, two written collections plus five volumes of a audio collection have burned me out for a while!

Made up of: Author's Note; Foreword: The Cricket beneath The Hammer (Robert Crais); Introduction: The Lost Secrets of East Atlantis; Everything I Know About My Father; Valerie, Part One; Valerie, Part Two; Valerie, Part Three; Getting Stiffed; The Tyranny of The Weak, And Some Foreshadowing; With Bloch And Bormann In Brazil; The First of 3 Culinary Comments; No Offense Intended, But Fuck Xmas!; The Day I Died; Harlan Ellison's Movie, A Complete Screenplay; Fair Weather Friends, Summer Soldiers, and Sunshine Patriots; Troubling Thoughts About Godhood, Part One; Bless That Pesky Wabbit; Troubling Thoughts About Godhood, Part Two; Where Shadow Collides With Reality: A Preamble; When I Was a Hired Gun, Part One; When I Was a Hired Gun, Part Two; A Rare, Kindly Thought; 3 Small Pleasures For a More Endurable Existence [Second Of 3 Culinary Comments]; Varieties of Venue; Why I Fantasize About Using an Ak-47 On Teenagers; In Which The Imp Of Delight Tries To Make The World Smile; I Go To Bed Angry Every Night, And Wake Up Angrier The Next Morning; Ahbhu; Death Row, San Quentin, Part One; Death Row, San Quentin, Part Two; College Days, Part One; The Death-Wish of A Golden Idea; College Days, Part Two; College Days, Part Three; The Last of 3 Culinary Comments, Gonzo-Style; Out of The Mail Bag; Oh, Dear, He's Not Going To Do Xmas Again, Is He?; The Death of My Mother, Serita R. Ellison; Enormous Dumb; Revealed At Last! What Killed The Dinosaurs! And You Don't Look So Terrific Yourself; Appendix A: Comic of The Absurd (1970); Dogging It In The Great American Heartland (1974); Darkness Falls In The City Of The Angels (1988); Lenny Bruce Is Dead (1986); Did Your Mother Throw Yours Out? (1988); The Song The Sixties Sang ( 1 987/1 988); The Dingbat Appendix (1990).

Counts as fifty-six (56) entries in the 2011 Year in Shorts.

Some details on the current state of commercial crew being funded by NASA.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ripping Off With Good Intentions

Ah, time to shake open the skeletons in the closet. Gasp, I have an entertainer in the family! The shame, the shame...

The serious question: If you "rip off" for a good cause, should one complain? My cousin, Tom Kiesche, has done many things, including a series of "Real Men Don't..." vignettes. Flashforward to now. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, through spontaneous combustion (since neither appear to have many creative neurons) hit upon a suspiciously similar theme, but for a good cause.

Serendipity? The stars are right? Or something more, well, sinister?

It's a good cause. Recognizing this, Tom could take the low road but has not. But he is asking for your help. Pass the word. He should be recognized for what he has created.

Coverage is spreading, see this, this and this as a start.

Apple is evil! Apple is tracking my every move!

Never mind that credit card companies, wireless providers, banks and many more companies can do the same exact thing.
Rough Guide

A rough guide to Ambergris. 'Ware greycaps!

More here, here and here. Partly on and off of Mount Toberead.

An "app" for making your iPad into a paper journal. Doesn't that kind of defeat one purpose of these paper journals to begin with?
Death and Dreaming

Neil Gaiman; Death: The High Cost of Living (Vertigo/DC Comics; 1994; ISBN 978-1-56389-133-5; cover by Dave McKean).

Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Volume 01: Preludes & Nocturnes (Vertigo/DC Comics; 2010; ISBN 978-1-4012-2575-9; cover by Dave McKean).

Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Volume 02: The Doll's House (Vertigo/DC Comics; 2010; ISBN 978-1-4012-2799-9; cover by Dave McKean).

Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Volume 03: Dream Country (Vertigo/DC Comics; 2010; ISBN 978-1-4012-2935-1; cover by Dave McKean).

Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Volume 04: Season of Mists (Vertigo/DC Comics; 2011; ISBN 978-1-4012-3042-5; cover by Dave McKean).

I had read (and partly-read) a couple of books talking about Neil Gaiman and skipped through large chunks of each when it came to his work in "graphic novels"; I never really picked up on comic books as a kid, never haunted the shops for the latest issue of The Fantastic Four or The Amazing Spiderman. Books were where it was at for me.

On the other hand, I've always been a fan of the "Sunday funny papers" in the form of Prince Valient or Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon and the like, so maybe it was a problem of where to start for the digest style lines. Each line from Marvel or DC, or even the independents, grow and grow and develop a massive backstory. Where to start? What in jokes would you not get?

The Sandman series is based off of long-dormant character that DC owned, but Gaiman took it and gave it his own spin. With the publication of these new editions, "fully recolored", I figured it was time to give them a try.

The results have been mixed. The two volumes that each contained an overall arc: The Doll's House and Dream Country were better than the initial volume (which threw me out of the story, for example, when established costumed superheroes showed up).

Conclusion? Mixed. The stories get better and better, as Gaiman moves away from the established DC background and does his own thing. But, as I read them, I still think that I'd rather read them as stories, not graphic stories. Perhaps all those years of not reading comic books installed permanently a need to build my own images?

Addendum: Since reading the previous items, I have also read The Sandman Volume 05: A Game of You; The Sandman Volume 06: Fables & Reflections; The Sandman Volume 07: Brief Lives; The Sandman Volume 08: Worlds' End.
Versus the World

Bryan Lee O'Malley; Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Oni Press; 2004; ISBN 978-1-932664-08-9; artwork by Bryan Lee O'Malley).

Bryan Lee O'Malley; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Oni Press; 2005; ISBN 978-1-932664-12-6; artwork by Bryan Lee O'Malley).

Bryan Lee O'Malley; Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness (Oni Press; 2006; ISBN 978-1-932664-22-5; artwork by Bryan Lee O'Malley).

Bryan Lee O'Malley; Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (Oni Press; 2007; ISBN 978-1-932664-49-2; artwork by Bryan Lee O'Malley).

Bryan Lee O'Malley; Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (Oni Press; 2009; ISBN 978-1-934964-10-1; artwork by Bryan Lee O'Malley).

Bryan Lee O'Malley; Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (Oni Press; 2010; ISBN 978-1-934964-38-5; artwork by Bryan Lee O'Malley).

I've been a fan of a number of webcomics and have been hooked on some manga or manga-style series recently; several friends recommended this series to me. Heck, there's even a movie (but those same friends have said the movie did not do the comic series justice). Being stuck dogsitting in the deep dark backwoods of Pennsylvania recently, I gave them a try.


That's pretty much my reaction. Scott Pilgrim did not strike me particularly interesting or sympathetic; sure, I have read unsympathetic characters in the past, but at least they were interesting. Pilgrim wanders/stumbles through life, oh the emo, oh the tragedy.

Maybe I'm too old to get it. My God, I've turned into my father.

Seriously, I enjoyed the art style. Some of the ideas tossed in were nifty (using hyperspace shunts to help deliver packages for the Canadian branch of Amazon). I liked some of the secondary characters.


Blinking lights and buzzing sensors in the movies evolve into "user interfaces" and now move into the real world.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Elisabeth Sladen

Elisabeth Sladen, probably best known as Sara Jane Smith in Dr. Who and a couple of specials and spinoffs, has passed away. You came a long way baby: it is a mark of who far genre has come that this is listed as a "top story" by AP.

Addendum: A nice commentary at Dork Tower.
Meet Earl

Hurricane Earl as seen from the International Space Station.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Space Review

In the current issue of The Space Review, we find: Charles A. Gardner talks about economics and a sustainable path into space. Stewart Money looks at SpaceX and the Falon IX Heavy. Jeff Foust looks at the bro-hah-hah over the shuttle as a museum piece. (Sigh. Too bad NASA only seems to be focused on taking itself apart.) Hey, look, Taylor Dinerman has noticed that NASA is circling the drain as well! Finally, Jeff Foust looks back at a time, which, in retrospect, was a lot brighter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Galactic View

Millions and millions and millions of galaxies, stars and asteroids. A job well done!

Friday, April 01, 2011

April Showers Bring...

...the latest Ansible!

Corporate Pirates. Dorchester Publishing, hugely in debt, has a new business plan: selling digital books to which it no longer has rights, not paying the writers, and blaming all this on vendors like Amazon. Unpaid author Brian Keene, who called for a boycott of Dorchester and its Leisure Fiction imprint, is far from alone. A literary agent who's struggled with Dorchester said wearily, 'We tell them to suppress [the ebook], and they do for a few weeks, and then it's back up again.' [JS]