The Lathe Of Heaven: A Novel

In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes.

The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity’s self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre.

For the Beaver to Poop On!

An exhaustive article about the “Brass Rat” – MIT class ring featuring the school’s mascot, a rat-looking beaver:

“The Brass Rat is traditionally worn with the Beaver “sitting” or “shitting” on the wearer until graduation. This represents the hardships imposed on students at MIT. In addition, the skyline of Boston is facing the student, representing the outside world awaiting. After graduation, the ring is turned around, and the Cambridge skyline is visible to the graduate, as a reminder of times spent at MIT.”

Fans of Harry Harrison can choose to order the Brass Rat in stainless steel instead.

This must be the ugliest class and overstated ring in existence. The Canadian engineer’s iron ring, by comparison is a marvel of good taste (even though  technically it’s a pinky ring).

My favorite part of this trivia was the hack of welding the Brass Rat to the finger of the Statue of the Three Lies (as the model for the statue supposedly went to MIT).

Kicking The Atomic Space Rocket Bucket

Yesterday, while having tea with my wife, I mentioned the uneasy feeling that I was getting over not only how many science fiction writers that influenced the way I think have passed away already, but also of how many were dying lately. I started making a list of dead sci-fi writers (which I enhanced through Wikipedia while writing this post).

Jules Verne died in ’05. Karel Capek died in ’38. H. G. Wells died in ’46. H. P. Lovecraft died of cancer in ’47. Henry Kuttner went to shovel snow off of his driveway in Jersey and died of a heart attack in ’58. Paul Linebarger died in 66. Hugo Gernsback died in 67. William Jenkins died in ’75.Philip K. Dick stroked-out in ’82. Kuttner’s wife, C. L. Moore died in ’87, of Alzheimer’s. Cyril Kornbluth died the same year. Bob Heinlein died in ’88. So did Clifford Simak. Isaac Asimov died in ’92. As it turns out, of AIDS that he contracted from a blood transfusion. Douglas Adams was working out and had a heart attack in 01. Robert Sheckley went to visit Ukraine, fell ill and later died in a hospital in ’05. Andre Norton died in ’05.Stanislaw Lem died in ’06, also of heart-related problems.

Well, at least Kurt Vonnegut is still alive – said my wife. Yeah, but he’s pretty young, I said. Little did we know that he was already gone

It seems that I received a package in the mail from him just recently, although it was already 9 years ago.

Theodore Sturgeon, the real Kilgore Trout died in ’85.

The era’s not over yet. As I went through Wikipedia’s list of important sci-fi writers I was surprised to see so many classics born in the 20s and 30s to be still writing.

Also, three out of six Beatles are still with us.

Serenity Now!

I finally went to see Serenity. Being a not-very-rabid-yet-somewhat-enthusiastic fan of Firefly, I had pretty good expectations of this movie. I was not disappointed – the movie indeed was pretty good. My gripes can be best presented in the following bullet points (if I had the time, I would have created a powerpoint deck for you):

  • No blue-handed men (“Two By Two, Hands of Blue”) or any explanation as to why their hands were blue. And mighty Google brings back hilarious, but most unsatisfying results
  • “The operative” is not bounty hunter Jubal Early, but instead what seems like a one-dimensional character based on the early notes for Jubal Early.
  • I don’t like the explanation of the nature of Reavers.
  • The soundtrack was worse than in the TV Series

Meanwhile, it seemed to me that I’ve seen Morena Baccarin, the actress who plays Inara, somewhere else. I was not mistaken – she had a bit role in a movie that I like very much, Roger Dodger. There she is, Cosmo in hand, next to the boss she has a crush on, right after talking to Roger:

I got to give her credit – so 2 out of 4 movies Morena took a part in are really good. I have half the mind to pick up the other two, to see maybe if they are good too.

By the way, I never really understood what’s so great about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It always seemed like a cheesy show with wooden acting, but then again, I never watched an entire episode or learned the backstory. I guess I’ll have to rent the first season DVDs and see if it’s any good.


Shiny stuff:

Serenity comic book prequel – a bit of filler between the TV series and the movie:

Original TV series soundtrack. It’s on pre-order still, but at least it’s happening.

“Finding Serenity : Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly” contains rants about “Firefly” from various pundits, including an inflammatory (and labeled by some as “male-chauvinistic”) article about the role of women in sci-fi by John C. Wright (as much as I like his science fiction and hate his fantasy, I have to say that he’s full of it).

Famous Claustophiles and Others At Brooklyn Botanical

Brooklyn Botanical Garden has many quirky little oddities, like a path with stepping stones carrying the names of famous Brooklynites. There’s one for Harry Houdini, Lena Horne, Woody Allen and of course, Dr. Asimov.

Asimov’s article at Wikipedia contains this gem of a anecdote:

“Asimov was a claustrophile; that is, he enjoyed small, enclosed spaces. In his first volume of autobiography, he recalls a childhood desire to own a magazine stand in a New York City Subway station, within which he imagined he could enclose himself and listen to the rumble of passing trains”.

I am actually a claustophile too, and I also like the rumble of subway trains. But the thing is, subway magazine stands don’t really have air conditioning…

Ad:


Can I tempt you with these? I think I just did.

Midnight Linkage

* Oh, such an awesome shot from inside the motorman’s cab. Click on “comments” to read about how it was taken.

* Wow. Decopix.com, one of the best sites about Art Deco that I’ve ever seen, presents mind-boggling Art Deco fridge.

* Similar to the celebrity path pavers in Brooklyn Botanical Gardenthat carry the names of famous Brooklynites like Isaac Asimov and Mae West, you can have your own paver in Tompkins Square Park through Make Your Mark in the Park program. And it’s just 250 bucks per paver! 70 characters – enough for a url. I am actually thinking about this…

I Lose My Humanity Bit By Bit

People say funny things when they are woken up while in REM. I only vaguely remember this, but my wife tells me that this morning I kept saying “404” when she tried to wake me up.

This totally makes me feel like Mara Margolies, a character in Ellen Ullman’s “The Bug” who went around saying “Meep” like a robot. This could have something to do with the fact that I am reading “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” on the train.

I’d Buy That For A Dollar!

This bag, standing abandoned near a phone booth and some garbage bags quickly reminded me of Cyril Kornbluth’s masterpiece “The Little Black Bag” and it’s follow up story “The Marching Morons”. I strongly recommend you get acquainted with Mr Kornbluth ASAP. If you are not cheap, splurge on NESFA’s fine compilation.

I bet that bag held a laptop from the year 2047 that could write “Enterprise quality” software by itself. But I somehow chickened out and did not check its contents. Could be a severed head just as well.
This bag, standing abandoned near a phone booth and some garbage bags quickly reminded me of Cyril Kornbluth’s masterpiece “The Little Black Bag” and it’s follow up story “The Marching Morons”. I strongly recommend you get acquainted with Mr Kornbluth ASAP. If you are not cheap, splurge on NESFA’s fine compilation.

I bet that bag held a laptop from the year 2047 that could write “Enterprise quality” software by itself. But I somehow chickened out and did not check its contents. Could be a severed head just as well.