February 4th, 2008


[links] Link salad for a Monday

SMS opens doors to toilets in some rest areas along Highway 1 in Western Finland

Random title generator — (Thanks to GS.)

Going Underground — Concerning fungii and ecosystems. (Thanks to SL.)

Sex in some sf/f stories — A Swedish blogger thinks intelligently about sex in sf/f, using a less-than-favorable reaction to Mainspring Powell's | Amazon | Audible ] as one of their reference points.

stwish talks about Patron Saint of Plagues — In reviewing barthanderson, they deliver some props to a whole segment of the field, with glancing blows to me and matociquala.

Report of UFO thrusts Stephenville into limelight — UFOs in Texas. Who'da thunk it? (Thanks to my dad.)

A miniature synchrotron — Big Science shrinks to the size of your living room. Coming soon from Apple: iSynchrotron.

History's greatest gadgetsWired goes retropunk!

Coulter for Clinton? — Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt. Gold-plated monkeys with million dollar bills in their mouths.

Democratic Senate candidates top Republicans in 4th quarter — I am having a very hard time not laughing myself silly over the headline. Mind, meet gutter. Gutter, meet mind.

[process] A taxonomy of tropes

ozarque has suggested a taxonomy of tropes within our field, in something of the same fashion as I am currently noodling with a taxonomy of (sub)genres. That strikes me as another layer deeper, fuzzier and more complex than the genre question, and therefore an eminently suitable topic of discussion on this here blog. (Plus if we're lucky we might get a slap-fight out of it.)

So, part I of that process. What do you think a genre trope consists of? Please provide examples.

My initial, off-the-cuff answer, is to cite Gardner Dozois who from time to time comments on "the furniture of science fiction." FTL travel, for example, or strong AI — story elements which are common to the (sub)genre in which they are found, generally don't require definition ab initio, and can be experienced purely in context.

I suspect this is a highly insufficient characterization of a "trope", however.


[links] Link salad afternoon update

Mystery of missing Da Vinci sequel — It's tempting to be a bit snarky about this, but I'm trying to imagine myself in Dan Brown's shoes, and it doesn't look fun. Admittedly, I could be hella miserable for $200,000,000 and keep smiling, but, wow. (From a mailing list I'm on.)

Andrew Wheeler comments on my status as a debutante in a post about the Locus list — Also says nice things about me in passing.

Nanotube radios — For you hard sf types out there. Utility fog, anyone?

Putting Candidates' Religion to the Test — Irreligious questions for the candidates. (The comments section has a decent selection of froth-mouthed religious spew about the THEORY OF EVIL-LUTION which can be read for light entertainment — those pesky facts are still biased, I guess.)

Bill Kristol in the New York Times on the successes of conservatism
Since then we conservatives have had a pretty good run. We had a chance to implement a fair share of our ideas, and they worked. In the 1980s and 90s, conservative policies helped win the cold war, revive the economy and reduce crime and welfare dependency. American conservatism’s ascendancy has benefited this country — and much of the world — over the last quarter-century.
Um, yeah, Bill. Here we are most of the way through 2000s. (I won't even mention Bill Clinton's apparently irrelvant role in the 1990s) Remember the 2000s? When conservatism triumphantly introduced permanent war, created a surveillance state, broke all budget-busting records and destroyed the US economy? Oh, wait, tax cuts. What am I talking about? Of course conservatism remains triumphant! Up the devolution!

Polygamists r us — This squib about George Romney, Mitt Romney's father, is fascinating. "Romney's grandfather emigrated to Mexico in 1886 with his three wives and children after Congress outlawed polygamy." So, basically, Mitt is the son of someone who crossed the Rio Grande, and the great-grandson of a religious separatist who fled the United States rather than comply with Federal law. Confidential to GOP in America: now that's a big tent.