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Science, Fiction, and points in between

§ The New Yorker June 14
An article [not online] by Frederic Raphael, screenwriter for Eyes Wide Shut, on working with Stanley Kubrick:

The writer on a movie is like someone running the first leg of a relay race. He has to set off at full speed while everyone else stands around and wonders if it's going to be worth his while to remove his tracksuit. I ran my leg, arrived exhausted, and was promptly asked to run it again and again.
Joe Mankiewicz used to say that a good script had, in some sense, already been directed. That is not the kind of script Kubrick would ever want. Anything too finished left him with an obligation to obedience. The only kind of rebel he was, in fact, was a rebel against being told what to do.

§ HMS Beagle June 11
Top Ten Novels Written by Scientists: [site requires free registration]

  1. Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman
  2. Timescape, Gregory Benford
  3. Contact, Carl Sagan
  4. The Turing Option, Marvin Minsky
  5. Startide Rising, David Brin
  6. Strangers and Brothers, C.P. Snow
  7. Cantor's Dilemma, Carl Djerassi
  8. Animal Dreams, Barbara Kingsolver
  9. The Dechronization of Sam Magruder, George Gaylord Simpson
  10. Mr. Tompkins in Paperback, George Gamow

§ Los Angeles Times June 11
A column by Patricia Ward Biederman about how the Internet is changing the way readers find and acquire books. ''Latter-day Luddites claimed the Internet would kill the book, but, in fact, it is selling more books than ever. And not just new books. The Internet has revolutionized the selling of rare and used books as well.''

§ New York Times June 10
An article about how the Internet is changing publishing, especially how British publishers regard the US market.

§ Wired News June 10
Readers of Chris Lawson's ''Written in Blood'' in the June '99 Asimov's may be especially interested in this article (from Reuters) about coding words in DNA. More in this BBC article [Link source: Honeyguide].

(Fri 11 Jun 1999)
The Washington Post reports today that CNN Financial News anchor Lou Dobbs has resigned, in part to launch a new Internet venture. Dobbs will be chairman of, a website offering space news, space fiction, live feeds, science and business content, and educational material for children, according to the Post. The venture has major backing, and Dobbs hopes to take the company public. He's quoted that he left CNN ''to be active in []'s creation. I truly believe space is the biggest story of this century and the next, and I really wanted to be part of it.''

100 Gay Novels
A panel of gay writers and editors has compiled a list of the 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels (not limited to the 20th century). Leading the list is Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. Christopher Bram's Father of Frankenstein (the basis for the film Gods and Monsters) is ranked in 51st place. A handful of other titles have an SF or fantasy connection: Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (11th place), William Burroughs' Naked Lunch (52nd), Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire (60th), Geoff Ryman's Was (79th), and Joanna Russ's On Strike Against God (99th) place. The complete list is here.

Berkeley's Recommended Reading
CNN and others report that A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh has been included on the University of California at Berkeley's list of recommended reading for incoming freshman. Also on the list: Carl Sagan's Contact and Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams; plus Genesis and Exodus from the King James Version of the Bible, and books by Jared Diamond, Jon Krakauer, Barry Unsworth, and others.

Millennial Writers
A BBC Online poll in March determined the best writers of the millennium. The winner: William Shakespeare. Third place: George Orwell. Sixth place: J.R.R. Tolkien. Perhaps most remarkably, in fifth place: Iain Banks, a writer (of both SF and mainstream novels) obviously much better known in the UK than in the US.

§ New York Times Magazine June 6
The magazine's latest Millennial Issue, third of six, is on the theme of exploration. Oddly, there's virtually nothing about the exploration of space, except for this web-only feature by Bruce Duffy about the people behind the Hubble telescope. Also notable, a feature contrasting the supplies and equipment available to various explorers throughout history, from Leif Ericsson to Apollo 11 and ''the modern adventurer''.

More interesting was the magazine's first Millennial issue (April 18th) on ''the best'' of the past 1000 years: A.S. Byatt on the Best Story (Scheherazade), Edward O. Wilson on the Best Species (depends how you measure best), and Richard Powers' long essay on the Best Idea: the rise of the experimental method.

The greatest idea of the last 1,000 years has granted us ascendance over matter by asking not how things ought to be but how things are. We have given ourselves to finding out not what we should do with the world, but what we can make the world do. The greatest idea of the next thousand years must make up the difference, returning subtlety and richness and morals and lightness of spirit to the long human experiment, if any part of it is to survive.

§ Salon June 4
An article by Jon Bowen is about new research from the University of Washington indicating that people can internalize fiction reading to such an extent that they come to believe that incidents they've only read about actually occurred to them. One can only wonder how this might apply to reading SF, or fantasy or horror, books.

§ New Scientist June 5
An article about exploring Mars with tiny, insect-sized helicopters.

§ Utne Reader
The 20th Century: What's Worth Saving? is an eccentric editorial compilation of 100 things to take into the 21st century, among them birth control, the frisbee, hot running water, the Internet, paperback books, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and the zipper. They invite readers to submit additional ideas.

(Wed 9 Jun 1999)
© 1999 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.