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From the Quote of the Day:

My experience of life is that it is not divided up into genres; it’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky.
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Kes: I'm almost sorry that I probably won't have an opportunity to use this quote anytime soon
From the quote of the day:

I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.
Ray Bradbury

The author of Fahrenheit 451 was born on this day in 1920.
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From The Art of Darkness blog
which includes pictures and information about the tours for the relevant cathedral in Washington, DC (why does the last part not surprise me?).
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Am I supposed to find Dief quite so adorable? I keep hoping that the female science fiction professor will ditch the oblivious engineering prof/writer and sweep Dief off his tweedy feet.

Now I must google for fanfic...
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The Boston LGBT Film Festival will be May 3rd - 13th. Check out this year's Highlights and Events. We hope to see you there.

For more details, visit:

May 9th - Wednesday
Sci-fi Night & Reception
Brattle Theatre

7 - 8:30 Outland, Part I

8:30 - 9:30 CasablancaReception

9:30 - 11 Outland, Part II

Join us for Sci-fi Night with a hilarious Australian comedy tv show that revolves around a gay science fiction club. Following Part I, join us at Casablanca for drinks and free apps. Finish the night off back at the Brattle for Part II.
more special events listed below )
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from The Art of Darkness blog, which has a
post discussing the difficulty of sifting parody of crazy-talk from actual crazy-talk

block quote start
There’s a concept known as
Poe’s Law
which posits that, unless you state specifically that you’re kidding, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing. I think that idea should be expanded beyond religious fundamentalism, because I’m still not sure whether the Stop Alien Abductions site is serious or not.
block quote end

I'm a little disappointed to discover that Edgar Allan Poe is not the origin of Poe's law, because that would have thrown an extra crazy-spoke in the insanity wheel, but I realize that most people are less willing than I am to live with ambiguity and paradox.

Now, please excuse me--the books are whispering to me (Oo! does that make me The Book Whisperer?).
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'Cause I *really* want one, especially if there is an Internet puppy with dark sunglasses t-shirt. Also, Charlie Stross never struck me as particularly puppylike, unless you can find a sardonic beer-drinking puppy. Oh, wait--I've met guide dogs like that.
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Sorry about the previous incorrect link, although I like to think that Klingons are probably total Lou Reed fans
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Thanks to Selkiechick for the link
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Jesse the K sent me this review from the NY Times (warning: it has many spoilers, so don't read the rest of the review until after you read the book), and it perfectly describes how I've been wandering about trying to find a book which will be as satisfying as _Reamde_. I tried A. S. Byatt's _Ragnorok_, but that was a mistake: reading Byatt right after Stephenson feels like trying to share a space with a neat freak who keeps looking at your dinner and asking are you really going to eat that?

Reamde - By Neal Stephenson - Book Review -

Let us say that novelists are like unannounced visitors. While Norman Mailer and Saul Bellow pound manfully on the door, Jonathan Franzen and Zadie Smith knock politely, little preparing you for the emotional ferociousness with which they plan on making themselves at home. Neal Stephenson, on the other hand, shows up smelling vaguely of weed, with a bunch of suitcases. Maybe he can crash for a couple of days? Two weeks later he is still there. And you cannot get rid of him. Not because he is unpleasant but because he is so interesting. Then one morning you wake up and find him gone. You are relieved, a little, but you also miss him. And you wish he’d left behind whatever it was he was smoking, because anything that allows a human being to write six 1,000-page novels in 12 years is worth the health and imprisonment risk.
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I downloaded _Reamde_ either Wednesday or Thursday, and I've been pretty much reading it continuosly since then. While it is another one thousand page tome, I found it to be fast-paced and enjoyable from start to finish.

I think Reamde_ may be Stephenson's most technically mature work so far: not only is it well-plotted and well-paced, but the story keeps going right up until the end (saving a very short but satisfying epilogue chapter), completely avoiding Stephenson's weakness--until now--of having very weak abrupt endings.

I don't really want to say too much about the story, since it has lots of surprises, but I will say that it is a cyberthriller which involves an online game, and all fo he characers are believably non-superhuman. Also, there's a believable disabled character and everybody keeps their scars at the end, as opposed to to the sort of story where everyone seems to have access to magic healing spells.

For the curious, Jaws unexpectedly but happily pronounces the title (which I think is correct) as "reamed," although Jaws pronounces "reamed" as "re-aimed."
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Weightless Books, which offers a wide variety of SFF, slipstream, spec fic, insert your favorite name for it here, just added a bunch of
Aqueduct Press titles
by Vandana Singh
of which I bought a paper copy months ago, but it was subsequently swallowed up by the Closet of Mysteries, which I expect any day to spit out something quite startling, such as a very bad-tempered Fenris (because just imagine a very large dog going eons without walkies), but just stop and mull that one over for a minute: Fenris as my guide dog!!!

And speaking of wild beasties, I also had to buy a copy of
Bewere the Night
which is an anthology of shapeshifter stories, although I bought it solely on the fact that it contains a Richard Bowes story and an Elizabeth Hand story, which is good, because they are two of my favorite authors and it's been way too long since they hadnew books out, although it seems 2012 will do something about that, but frankly, sometimes I feel as grouchy as a Fenris who has gone eons without walkies.

And I never did mention the Twilight Zone moment I had at Readercon when I tried to go to a Small Beer Press reading of Mexican fantasy writers and instead seemed to have ended up at a reading which no one else remembers and which didn't show up on the program, but involved he Elder Gods returning to Earth, except they seemed to be large sharklike beings, so it was kind of like Cthulhu meets Jaws.

Did anyone else experience the parallel universe Readercon?
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1Touch is a life-empowering self-defense skill for the blind

The ability to react boldly and forcefully to physical aggression provides a foundation of self-confidence that affects every aspect of life, even when this skill is never used. Request that this training be provided by your local organization for the blind and share this email with your social network. If you are a representative of an organization for the blind please contact Liz Myska to set up a training event in your community.

If we let things terrify us, life will not be worth living. ---Seneca
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LJ user tasha18 and I were exchanging some comments regarding
"The Lifecycle of Software Objects" by Ted Chiang
and she mentioned that she found it strange that the AI in the story could obviously learn, but their use of a kind of pidgin English never progressed to the kidn of language they exchanged with the people with whom they had relationships.

I myself found the statement that the AI never learned to read because no one ever read bedtime stories to them when they were "children" immensely odd, as I never had anyone read to me as a child and yet I turned out to be something of a bookworm, and I'm certain I am not the only example of this.

It seems as if, in the case of language, Chiang is implying that AI can't learn because they can't change how they are programmed to speak, yet, in regard to reading, Chiang seems to switch to implying that reading is culturally learned.

Can anyone comment on Chiang's reasoning for his depictions of learning in this story? Is it connected to real theories regarding learning and/or AI?
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Amazon's Omnivoracious blog
has a post about the 2010 Nebula nominees .
which contains some lovely comments by some of the authors about their stories.

I personally am currently reading and enjoying _The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms_ by N.K. Jemisin, with whom I was on a Panel at Readercon last year. I've been mostly off fantasy in the past few years--all those pretty people with their pretty hair and pretty jewel-colored eyes and pretty clothes and magical consumer goods got to be pretty predictable--but this novel manages to shrug off a lot of the cliches. (Note that this book and the next book in the trilogy--which features a blind female artist--are both available on

The Omnivoracious blog post also has some lovely comments about
"The Green Book" by Amal El-Mothar
which I mentioned earlier this week (yes, imaginary books are definitley one of my narrative fetishes).

the novella
"The Lifecycle of Software Objects" by Ted Chiang
is a powerful story about how humans who become emotionally attached to their AI pets in an online environment nurture those AI over a span of years. What I found particularly intriguing in this story was it's repeated references to children with disabilities as a framework for how the humans thought of their AI "children."

While I usually plow through Scott Westerfeld's books, I've repeatedly failed to manage to get through the first book of his Liviathan series, and I'm embarraased to admit that I actually spent hours of my life which I will never get back on the doorstop duet by Connie Willis. The fact that this book, with its confused plot, glacially slow pacing, incredibly stupid and annoying characters, and thousand pages which begged for an editor, was nominated for an award doesn't so much surprise me as support my suspicion that some nominations are made more for nostalgia's sake than for quality.

What was missing: how about China Mieville's _Kraken_?
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Kes: I'm trying to find out if there will be any description provided for the visually and hearing impaired, but so far have not found contact info., science fiction, and spontaneous combustion--that sounds like good theatre to me.

Bellona, Destroyer of Cities  
A performance work by Jay Scheib

Bellona, Destroyer of Cities, After Samuel R. Delanyʼs Dhalgren, Adapted and Directed by Jay Scheib

Friday, May 13 and Saturday May 14,  7:30 pm
Sunday, May 15,  2:00 pm
Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Avenue, Boston (
Tickets: For ticketing information, please visit:

MIT Professor Jay Scheib, named one of 25 artists who will shape the next 25 years of theater by American Theater Magazine, returns to the ICA stage with
a new work, based on Samuel R. Delany’s epic science fiction novel, Dhalgren.  Bellona is part two of Simulated Cities/Simulated Systems, Scheib’s trilogy
of multimedia performance works.

Bellona, a once illustrious city, has been decimated by a mysterious cataclysmic event, leaving it all but forgotten.  Its people try to understand why
buildings repeatedly burst into flames and city streets appear to rearrange themselves, citing race-related violence and a social experiment gone wrong.
 A parable of the dangers facing the modern American city, Bellona, Destroyer of Cities explores the shaping of space to express complex issues of race,
gender, and sexuality. The production combines passages from Delaney’s novel with original material and video and photography by Scheib and artist Carrie
Mae Weems.

Bellona, Destroyer of Cities is presented as part of Emerging America, the second annual theater festival, co-presented with American Repertory Theater
and the Huntington Theatre Company, launching the new American voices of tomorrow.


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