Final Book Tally 2008

My final Book list from 2008.
51 Books, down from last year. 13 books were Advanced Reader Copies or books given in expectation of a review–from Amazon Vine, from Library Thing, and personally sent as well. It was a good year for expanding my horizons in that fashion.
As I said in the entry when I mentioned being chosen to participate in a Mind Meld, I may be a 5th rate blog, but a few people do come by here. I do hope you’ll continue to come by in 2009 as I discuss books, science fiction, and a phethora of other subjects.
51 Prospero Lost, L Jagi Lamplighter
50 Champlain’s Dream, David Fischer
49 The Universe Twister, Keith Laumner
48 City at the End of Time, Greg Bear
47 Sharing Knife: Horizon, Lois M Bujold
46 Sharing Knife: Passage, Lois M Bujold
45 Atlas of Lost Cities,Brenda Rosen
44 Adventures in Unhistory, Avram Davidson
43 Necropath, Eric Brown
42 After the Downfall, Harry Turtledove
41 Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton
40 The Golden Key, Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson and Kate Elliott
39 From Colony to Superpower, George Herring
38 Kushiel’s Justice, Jacqueline Carey
37 Nation, Terry Pratchett
36 Implied Spaces,Walter Jon Williams
35 Legacies, L.E. Modesitt
34 Whiskey and Water, Elizabeth Bear
33 Axis, Robert Charles Wilson
32 Selling Out, Justina Robson
31 The Shadows of God, Gregory Keyes
30 The Code Book, Simon Singh
29 The Last Dragon, J M Mcdermott
28 The Gist Hunter and Other Stories, Matthew Hughes
27 Majestrum, Matthew Hughes
26 Dzur, Steven Brust
25 Galactic Empires, Gardner Dozois (editor)
24 The Rosetta Key, William Dietrich
23 The Twisted Citadel, Sara Douglass
22 Little Brother, Cory Doctorow

21 The Martian General’s Daughter, Theodore Judson
20 The Gate of Gods, Martha Wells
19 A World too Near, Kay Kenyon
18 In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, S.M. Stirling
17 Reaper’s Gale, Steven Erikson
16 The Merchants War,Charles Stross
15 Silverlock, John Myers Myers
14 The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
13 The Dragon’s Nine Sons, Chris Roberson
12 A Shadow in Summer, Daniel Abraham
11 The Eternity Artifact, L.E. Modesitt
10 Wolf Who Rules, Wen Spencer
09 Hiding in the Mirror, Lawrence Krauss
08 The Stars my Destination, Alfred Bester
07 Opening Atlantis, Harry Turtledove
06 Death by Black Hole, Neil DeGrasse Tyson
05 Now in Theaters Everywhere, Kenneth Turan
04 Never Coming to a Theater Near You, Kenneth Turan
03 Plague Year, Jeff Carlson
02 Writers of the Future Volume XXIII, Algis Budrys (editor)

01 The Trojan War a new history, Barry Strauss

Life’s “Second Big Bang”

The moderately scientific literate amongst my readership (which is probably most of you) have heard of the “Cambrian Explosion”, the massive diversity and proliferation of life 540 million years ago. I first came across the idea 25 years ago, thanks to the late Carl Sagan.
Did you know that, 489 million years ago, after a die off of a lot of that diversity, there was a second proliferation, an Ordovician flowering?
“By the end of the Ordovician, biodiversity had reached a level that would not be surpassed for another 200 million years. Look along the shoreline today and chances are you will find creatures that first appeared in the Ordovician, including starfish, sea urchins, oysters and scallops.”

Call him Sir Terry, or perhaps Sir Terry of Discworld?,27574,24858967-5018541,00.html

FANTASY author Terry Pratchett is now a real-life knight after being awarded the highest recognition in the Queen’s new year honours list.
Pratchett, 60, best known for his satirical Discworld fantasy series, becomes a knight, one of the queen’s most important honours, and will now be addressed as a ‘Sir’.
“There are times when phrases such as ‘totally astonished’ just don’t do the job,” he said. “I am of course delighted and honoured and needless to say, flabbergasted.”

Accents and language

Sneakel asked:
Just curious. Do you actualy say “You betcha?” Do you say it with a
Staten Island/Brooklyn Accent?

Only as homage to my adopted hometown. I don’t truly grok it as part of my vocabulary, per se, and it sounds a bit silly coming out of my mouth. As far as my accent–according to reports from people who have known me here for several years, I seem to be losing my (never entirely strong) NY accent. For a while I protested that I really had an accent–and now it seems it is fading.
On the other hand, NY culture runs strong in my blood. I get into good natured arguments about the right form and style of pizza, to say nothing of bagels, and clam chowder…

GB 31 Detroit 21
Why, gentle reader you may ask, am I blogging about the GB-Detroit game rather than the Giants loss (boo, hiss) to the Vikings?
Why, because the Lions made history. Last year, we had a team have a perfect regular season–the New England Patriots. (Who are not going to the playoffs this year. Joy!).
This year, we also have a team with a perfect regular season–perfect in the sense that for the first time since going to 16 games, a team has lost every game. That team is the hapless Detroit Lions.
So we congratulate the Lions for their singular haplessness. However, they still have one more NFL futility record that is not yet theirs! In 1976, their inaugural year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14, the only other team in the Modern Era to go winless. However, in 1977, that same team started the next season 0-12 before finally winning, for a total losing streak of 26 games.
So, the Lions still have to lose their first 11 games next year to break *that* record.

We are literate up here, you betcha

Most Literate Cities
Once again, bookworms in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest have beaten out Yankee types to reach the very top of a researcher’s list of the most literate American cities.
Minneapolis and Seattle tied for the top ranking this year, based on local newspaper and magazine circulation, library data, online news readership, book purchases and resources, and educational attainment.
Here is the full Top 10 Most Literate list for 2008 (OK, there are 11 cities on the list) generated by Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University:
Minneapolis (tied for 1st)
Seattle (tied for 1st)
Washington, D.C.
St. Paul, Minn.
San Francisco
St. Louis
Cincinnati (tied for 10th)
Portland, Ore. (tied for 10th)
You will note that each of the Twin Cities came in tied for first, and Number 4 on this list.
So, if you are a science fiction author, you could do worse than a book signing at one of our two F/SF bookstores! And if you want to support an Independent bookstore that isn’t explicitly F/SF, we have a boatload of them, too.
We read up here, you betcha. Blame it on the snow. What else are you going to do when the temperature is 10 below, the wind is howling and your satellite connection is out?

A movie worth getting shot for?

You may have already heard this story.
A man was shot because he was talking with his son during a screening of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Christmas Day, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Reportedly, 29-year-old James Joseph Cialella told the unidentified victim’s family to be quiet and threw popcorn at the man’s son. After exchanging words, Cialella allegedly got up to confront them, the victim stood up, and Cialella shot him in the arm with a .380 caliber gun. As other theatergoers ran for safety, Cialella sat back down to watch the movie. Police arrested Cialella and charged him with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons violations.

Just bizarre. Bringing guns to the movies–that’s not a surprise, I am afraid. Still, the alleged assailant shot the man and then sat down to continue to watch the movie. Very, very odd.
“The armed society is a polite society” Heinleinians would say that if the victim had a gun and the assailant had reason to believe he would have gotten shot in return, probably wouldn’t have taken the shot in the first place.
Bollocks, I say. In a Heinleinian “Everyone has a gun” society, it would have turned into a free-for-all.
The size of the population and the population density of modern society makes the Second Amendment, as intact, in serious need of further amendment, by amendment or by statute.
The Founders did not envision cities of millions, each of the adults with guns, running around. At the eve of the Revolution, Philadelphia had 40,000 people. NYC, 25000, Boston 16000, Charleston 12000, and Newport 11000. (Taken from here:
There is a fundamental difference of scale between a city of 40,000 and a city of 1.3 million.
Enough of that digression, though. Is “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” such a good movie that not only its worth shooting someone loud, but then to remain in the theater watching it afterwards?

Television Tropes Wiki

Have you heard of the Television Tropes Wiki?
I think I came across it via I09 or Sf Signal. It’s basically a wiki which deconstructs genre conventions in television (and by extension) other media as well.
It’s a big wiki, and not as formal as Wikipedia, but its a lot of fun to read through–and its given me ideas for things to netflix.
I was thinking that some of my RPG characters fit into these tropes rather well…

Continue reading Television Tropes Wiki

The Beatles and Mathematics–Two Great Tastes

A Mathematical Mystery Tour
On NPR this morning, Kevin Devlin talks about the connection between the Beatles “Hard Day’s Night” and Fourier Analysis. That jangling chord that starts the song? The analysis can tell you just how the Beatles did it in the days before synthesizers.
This sort of analysis might lead to being able to determine the authorship of songs that are in dispute, like “In My Life”. The theory goes that musicians have certain patterns and cadences that Fourier Analysis can tease out.