January 28th, 2006


Two memes

From marykaykare in this instance, though in fact I did answer this one before. Now I have to do it again and give different answers.

Name a CD you own that no one else on your friends list does.

The Orthodox Celts: "The Celts Strike Again" and "Green Roses".

Name a book you own that no one else on your friends list does.

Thanks to Library Thing this one becomes much easier. Anyone else got What does Joan say? my seven years as White House astrologer to Nancy and Ronald Reagan by Joan Quigley?

Name a movie you own on DVD/VHS/whatever that no one else on your friends list does.

Much the most difficult and I suspect whatever I say I am doomed to failure. But, what the heck. Anyone else out there own The Making of the Dark Side of the Moon?

Name a place that you have visited that no one else on your friends list has.

This I think may be a bit easier. Anyone else been to Prčanj in Montenegro?

And another more showoffy meme from agirlnamedluna:

Which languages do you know? How did you learn them (e.g. natively, from classes, by immersion)? Collapse )
Which language would you most like to learn? Why? Collapse )
Have you visited any places where you did not know the predominant language? If so, which ones? Was it hard to manage? Collapse )
Which language do you most enjoy hearing, seeing, or expressing? Why? Collapse )
Which languages, other than the one(s) you know, are you exposed to your daily life?Collapse )

Autism and sf

Thoughts towards a future web page for my site:

I just read the first story in Gardner Dozois' 2004 collection - Pat Murphy's "Inappropriate Behaviour" - and it is about a girl with autism. Two of the stories in the Hartwell/Cramer collection also featured brilliant academics with autism - Terry Bisson's "Scout's Honour" and Brenda Cooper's "Savant Songs".

There are a number of other sf stories, some well-known, others less so, featuring autism. Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark of course won the Nebula Award two years ago, and deals specifically with a "cure". Most of the others feature an autistic child as the centre of some almost (or even explicitly) magical events: Mary Doria Russell's Children of God, Zoran Živković's short story "The Whisper", Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip, William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties. I also rather liked Brenda Clough's "Tiptoe, On a Fence-Post" where the autistic child was marginal to the story but gave the author an excuse for some sensitive character-building.

Other sf stories that I understand feature autism which I haven't read: Greg Egan, Distress; Dean Ing, "Portions of this Program…"; Diane Duane, A Wizard Alone; James B. Johnson, Daystar and Shadow; Megan Lindholm, The Reindeer People and Wolf's Brother; Jane Lindskold, "Brother To Dragons, Companion To Owls"; Charles Sheffield, Putting Up Roots; Elizabeth Hand, "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol" and Winterlong; Jeffery D. Kooistra, Dykstra's War; Ian Watson, "The Boy Who Lost an Hour, the Girl Who Lost Her Life"; Kathleen Anne Goonan, Light Music; Kathryn Lasky, Home Free; Celia Rees, The Truth Out There; Mira Rothenberg, Children with Emerald Eyes; Eric Brown, New York Dreams; apparently the new Thomas Covenant series; Kathleen Burns, Something's At My Elbow; Lucius Shepard, "The Emperor"; Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, "The Meeting"; Paul Park, "The Breakthrough"; Robert Silverberg, Thorns; Alan E. Nourse, The Universe Between.

Anyone want to particularly recommend (or dis-recommend) any of those, or add to the list? I don't know for sure if autism is a subject which crops up more often in sf than in "mainstream" literature, but it seems rather likely; I can't think of any non-genre novel dealing with it apart from Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but then I don't read an awful lot of non-genre fiction.

For the sf writer, different ways of perceiving and sensing the world are of profound interest, and the enigma of the autistic experience is perhaps an attractive topic. (Of course, this tends to mean that the autistic characters are rather bunched towards the high-functioning end of the spectrum.) For a writer with personal experience of autism, projecting this crucial experience into a fantasy or far-future milieu may also be an important part of the coping mechanism. (I find it interesting that writer Nick Hornby, who has an autistic son, has never used autism in his fiction, which is set in the gritty contemporary world.)

BSFA/Clarke comparison post

I always used to find that the BSFA and Arthur C Clarke awards were better predictors of my personal tastes than, say, the Nebula, and that was even vefore I got to know the people running them. We now have shortlists for both the UK-based awards, and as usual there is a certain overlap:

On both lists
Ken MacLeod, Learning the World
Geoff Ryman, Air
Charles Stross, Accelerando

First off, congratulations to autopope and Ken MacLeod for making the shortlist. I have read Accelerando, and Learning the World is on my to-be-read shelf. Looks like I must now do what everyone who has read it suggests, and buy Air, also the only novel on either list to be nominated for the Nebulas this year. (Though I see last year's Clarke Award winner is also on this year's Nebula shortlist.)

On the Clarke Award shortlist but not the BSFA
Liz Williams, Banner of Souls
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
Alastair Reynolds, Pushing Ice

As before, I have read the one by the author with a livejournal - Banner of Souls - own another but haven't read it yet - Never Let Me Go - and don't have the third. I have rather bounced off Alastair Reynolds on previous encounters; is this time likey to be any different?

On the BSFA shortlist but not the Clarke
Jon Courtenay Grimwood, 9Tail Fox
Justina Robson, Living Next Door to the God of Love

Really loved Grimwood's Arabesk trilogy (Pashazade, Effendi and Felaheen), but was less impressed by his singletons, redRobe and Stamping Butterflies; was also very impressed by Robson's Mappa Mundi which I guess must have been shortlisted for a previous BSFA or Clarke award.

Anyway, am inclined to put in an Amazon order for these two and Air, and perhaps also the Reynolds if I can be persuaded, for diversion during my imminent travels.
Lib Dem, libdem

Bloggers on the Lib Dem leadership

wwhyte commented re a previous entry that the Lib Dem bloggers appear to be drifting to Huhne. Much consultation of Icerocket reveals that in fact the honours are fairly even so far, though it's certainly the case that the bloggers backing Huhne are comparatively more heavyweight. Campbell's internet presence is being run by my old friend Martin Tod, which will certainly give him an edge in cyberspace - in so far as that helps...

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Edited to add: I'm updating this entry as things move. When I originally published it on Friday 20 January, the blog count was 9 (and two leaning) for Campbell; 10 (and two leaning) for Hughes; and 10 (and two leaning) for Huhne.

It is now (28 January) 14 (and two leaning) for Campbell; 15 (and three leaning) for Hughes; and 22 for Huhne.

Best quote on Campbell, from marnanel: "Fin and I were talking about yoghs (Ȝȝ) in bed last night."