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Clearing the Minefields of Self-Indoctrination

Pleasantly surprised to discover Indoctrinaire, the first novel by Christopher Priest, a tale of strange foreboding and paranoia, wrapped up in altered states of consciousness and alternate realities. The protagonist, Dr. Wentik, finds himself forcibly recruited from his scientific research post beneath the South Pole, and whisked away to the Planalto District of Mato Grosso in Brazil. Both of these places are so far off the beaten track and outside of the ordinary world of human affairs that the novel begins with an eerie sense of dislocation, which is only accelerated into total disorientation as soon as Wentik begins to trek into the strangely deforested zone of Planalto. His guide, a tight-lipped man named Musgrove, shows signs of mental illness as the story progresses and Wentik finds himself an occupant of “the jail,” under interrogation by an equally opaque antagonist named Astourde.

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Ten Years Until My New Brain

How is it that my brother, Po, marooned out in the wilds of the high desert at Canyon Blanco is first one to tell me about the synthetic brain news?    Here I am, wired up to the ears with wireless routers zapping me and servers buzzing underfoot…only a beer cap toss from a major data center…and as far as I knew I had a unique and unreplaceable hunk of gray matter floating in my skull.   Sure it’s a little frayed around the edges, has its foibles, is a beast when it comes to  cold starts on a winter morning, but still - after all it’s been through - it seemed a right decent old brain, as far as I was concerned.  But now we know that these dweebs over at Blue Brain Project have already concocted a rat’s brain, and are madly tuning their skills to create a human brain within ten years.  BBC Story Is it just me, or does that seem like it might not work out according to plan?

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Steele Savage Paints the Kenekito Madual

It’s been a while since I posted a somewhat sarcastic note about the fine artist, Steele Savage. Now I feel compelled to follow up those seven images with yet another appreciation, since I really w

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Readercon 2009: Apollo 11 and Science Fiction

**Update** Terrific Photo Spread in Boston Globe - Big Picture Did SF become irrelevant after the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969? This panel explored the relationship between the Apollo program and SF, and the ways in which SF did or didn’t live up to its visionary potentials after manned space flight became a reality. Paul De Fillippo kicked things off by asking to what extent SF inspired the space program? And to what extent did the eventual breakdown of the manned space program affect SF?

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Readercon 2009: Novels You Write vs. Novels You Talk About In Bars

This panel included Barry Malzberg, Allen Steele, James Morrow, and Rick Wilber. Rachel Pollack was scheduled to appear, but nobody seemed to know where she was. By way of introduction, Rick Wilber had prepared some sort of pseudo-clever analogy about the panelists, saying that they were at different places along the timeline. Wilber said that Allen Steele, having already published 15 novels was someplace near mid-career, and that James Morrow was “settled” into a successful career with a number of major achievements under his belt. Then Wilber introduced Barry Malzberg, with his long and distinguished career, as “still active in the field…” Somehow you could sense the fumble on that last note, which provoked Malzberg to pounce into action: “What a euphemism!” he roared. “Just say it: I’m an ancient writer, a washed up writer! Remember when Tom Disch said we’re all just ‘robots wired for sound?’ Well you can just go ahead and say a corpse wired for sound.” Richard Wilber, recovering, said: “Ok, late career…” “Autumnal!” said Malzberg.

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The riches of Readercon 2009

It was great to attend my first Readercon. Like entering a stranger’s house and finding yourself among all of your best friends. Of course some of them I met for the first time… like the Crochety

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Readercon 2009 - Egocentrism and Creativity

This panel, moderated (with immoderate gusto) by James Patrick Kelly, featured Scott Edelman, Eileen Gunn, Gene Wolfe, and Catherynne Valente. John Shirley was scheduled to participate, but got stuck in San Francisco, where I can picture him flailing savagely around in the airport trying to get on any flight to anywhere! The premise of the panel was based on Michael Swanwick‘s contention that “modesty and a reasonable awareness of one’s limitations have no place in a writing career.” Yes, that’s the same Swanwick who declared at Readercon one: “With the possible exception of Gene Wolfe, I’m the best writer here today.” Thus egocentrism…

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Only a sample...

This “sample page” appears on Golden Age Comics blog, and makes me wonder if the wolfbane is blooming yet! The artist, Howard Norstrand, was a prolific inker of horror comics in the 50s. Thanks,

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Aloha Mars, Can-D gram for Perky Pat!

Given the opportunity, I just couldn’t resist sending a little micro-chipped token of my affection to my favorite sub-miniaturized phantasm on Mars. Aloha, Perky Pat! How’s the water at Lake Shalb