Category Archives: science fiction

Star Wars reconciliation?

If you know anything about Star Wars, you know that this is a strange set of bedfellows. We have a Wookie, a robot, a Storm Trooper, and an evil follower of the Dark Side, all sharing a Star Wars-themed bedspread and pillows.

There is something strange about this setting, with storm troopers, wookies and robots all sharing a bed at J.C. Penny.
There is something strange about this setting, with storm troopers, wookies and robots all sharing a bed at J.C. Penny.

No, we can’t blame George Lucas and his rewriting of the Star Wars narrative; this scene was on display at a J.C. Penny store.

Urgent: escaped tribble!

After spending a week at Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, it was somewhat disturbing to find this on my desk:

According to the printing on the side of this container, it should contain a tribble. But it obviously does not. The tribble, in fact, appears to have escaped. Note the warning at the bottom: "Please do not feed." This could be bad.
According to the printing on the side of this container, it should contain a tribble. But it obviously does not. The tribble, in fact, appears to have escaped. Note the warning at the bottom: “Please do not feed.” This could be bad.

The obviously empty container claims to contain a tribble, an alien species from the planet Iota Geminorum IV. Tribbles are soft, furry, and purr or coo when petted. They have a calming effect on humans.

But they are also born pregnant, and will reproduce as fast as they can eat. They also eat all the time, which means that their movement and diet should be severely constrained.

Which means this empty tribble container presents an urgent threat to everyone in the building, and especially to kitchen refrigerators, stashes of food squirreled away in employee desks, and other possible sources of food. For more information, consult this synopsis of “The Trouble With Tribbles.”

Titles from a strange upbringing

There are many titles I wish I had read; I have bookcases filled with unread and partially read volumes. But here are some that are high on my list:

Untouched by Human Hands: The Last Dangerous Visions, by Robert Sheckley and Harlan Ellison. Ellison’s famous epic struggle to get his last Dangerous Visions anthology out is assisted by Sheckley.

All the Myriad Ways: Of Man and Monsters, Heroes and Horrors, Parsecs and Parables, Nightmares and Geezenstacks, Ice and Iron, Digits and Dastards, Murder and Magic, Ape and Essence, Fancies and Goodnights, Alchemy and Academe, Foundation and Empire, Visions and Ventures, Time and the Stars, by Larry Niven, William Tenn, Fritz Leiber, Robert Silverberg, Fredric Brown, William Tucker, Frederik Pohl, Randall Garrett, Aldous Huxley, John Collier, Anne McCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon and Poul Anderson. A galaxy and time-spanning story of nouns smashed together into subjects.

“Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman, Or All the Seas With Oysters, formed of Mist, and Grass, and Sand, and ruled by the Queen of Air and Darkness, will carry you Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38º54’N, Longitude 77º00’13″W, where you may watch The Dance of the Changer and the Three, and learn that Love is the Plan the Plan is Death, and that The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas must confront The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth, never to discover that Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones is the Good News from the Vatican, by Harlan Ellison, Avram Davidson, Vonda N. McIntyre, Poul Anderson, Terry Carr, James Tiptree Jr., Usula K. LeGuin, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delany, and Robert Silverberg. This surprisingly thin science fiction-fantasy mix is essentially a fleshed-out expansion of the title.

Early version of Google

This was the early version of Google. Using these humble wooden drawers, generations of scholars and researchers, desperate students and cunning spies, despairing parents and fanatical bibliophiles, and every other shape and size of reader delved into the depth and breadth of human understanding.

Something worth considering: Google contains only a fraction of the knowledge once cataloged by card catalogs. Technology has digitized and indexed only that which is easy to digitize and index; most journal articles, newspaper articles, books, scientific papers, notebooks and other written material are still confined to physical forms, and unknown to Internet search engines.

How I miss card catalogs.

The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder's of the world's past and the future of the universe.
The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder’s of the world’s past and the future of the universe.

Iron Man is in Louisville, Kentucky

Tony Stark is apparently in Louisville, Kentucky. The apostrophe is missing. Sad.

Tony Stark's place in Louisville, Kentucky.
Tony Stark’s place in Louisville, Kentucky.