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.
My brain is completely fried. I spent the last two weekends writing horrible XSLT templates for work. This Sunday I was I was listening to Survivor soundtrack, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Doc Watson cds. Big Drama on the Survivor CD goes especially well with my mood right now. I hate XSLT.
Lost a few pounds. Not eating in the evening and running seems to have nudged me off the plateau. In fact, I am going to the gym right now.
In other news: the doctor’s office with a phone number that is similar to my work number is back in business! The new doctor’s name is either Rafi or Ravi.
Reading The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson. All I have to say, this is going to be the subject of the next “Best Sci-Fi You Haven’t Read” article. , if you are reading this, check out Night Land and Hodgson’s biography. Good stuff.
Why did I get into an argument about abortion with ? I don’t have any spare brain cycles for that. What will I do next, start arguing about animal rights with MIA ? Am I turning into ?
Wright’s book The Golden Age seems to be on a Hugo list at NESFA. I know it’s worthy of a Hugo and I think Gernsback would have agreed too. Heh heh, interesting how spellcheckers suggest “greenback” for “Gernsback”.
Today, when we think about science fiction, we think of rocket ships and outer space. But things were different in the 40s and 50s. Back then the blue sky was almost as exciting a frontier as the black void of space. Hugo Gernsback’s magazine Air-Wonder Stories and TV serial Zombies of the Stratosphere featuring young Leonard Nimoy were all the rage.
The word “stratosphere” was considered and became a futuristic branding element a bit less common than “o-matic” and “o-rama”. It seems to me that Boeing started this trend : B-52 Stratofortress bomber , KC-135 Stratotanker and 377 Stratocruiser. But then the marketers caught on to the hipness of everything “strato”: Sheaffer Stratowriter pen, Fender Stratocaster guitar, Pontiac StratoChief car and probably many other things that I don’t know about. Prefix “strato” was usually applied to top of the line products.
And you don’t really get any more “strato” than Zenith Stratosphere 1000Z console.
Considered by some to be the best vacuum tube radio ever produced, it is also one of the rarest. It was top of the line and cost $750 when it was made in 1930s. Times were tough, and there were not enough customers to purchase these amazing and beautiful radios. Only 350 sets were ever made, 40 are known to survive. Today 1000Z is a wet dream of any vacuum tube radio enthusiast.
What attracts me to 1000Z? Well, first of all I am a fan of vaccuum tube sound. The absolutely stunning art deco design is just gorgeous, especially the airplane style tuning dial. It looks like it belongs on a starship. This is how I imagine Henry Kuttner’s “twonky” device.
There is an interesting thing about the ads for 1000Z. As it can be seen in this ad, there is a art deco porcelain cat sitting inside the concave area of the cabinet of the radio. This led some collectors to believe that the cat was sold together with the radio. But apparently it was only used for the photo shoot. Still, people lucky enough to own a Zenith Stratosphere try to buy a cat statue to go with it.