Monday, June 11, 2007

Blog in Exile: Random News & Links for 6/11

You've probably heard this by now, but...the US government's Homeland Security Department has been taking anti-terrorist advice from a group of SF writers (including Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, and Greg Bear), operating under the codename "Sigma." You know, I'm pretty sure I saw that movie in 1983, and wasn't very impressed with it then...

Another one I'm sure you've heard about already is the mass deletion of sex-themed discussion groups on LiveJournal, which also did not go over well...

As had been rumored for quite some time, Universal announced that they have obtained the exclusive theme-park rights to J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series, and that a new area of Universal's Islands of Adventure park in Orlando, Florida based on the Potter books will open in late 2009. Some reports slightly misreported the new area as a separate theme park. (SF Signal had some ideas about possible rides.)

Ray Bradbury recently told LA Weekly that his 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 is not about censorship, as he and everyone else had said for the past five decades, but instead was about how television destroyed reading. (Didn't you notice?) In related news, Gone With the Wind is now believed to be about crop rotation and Stranger in a Strange Land about the importance of manned space exploration.

Let no one say she doesn't work for those massive piles of money: J.K. Rowling will spend the night Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows debuts reading it, in its entirety, to an audience of 500 randomly-selected fans.

I suspect there's a lurking conflation of intellectual and physical property that's not entirely justifiable, but I do admire the audacity of the BEA exploit of Richard Charkin (Macmillan CEO) -- he stole a number of laptops from the Google booth, and is claiming that he was doing to Google's property precisely what Google is trying to do to the property of publishers. (I also feel compelled to point out here that, in most cases, publisher do not own books at all; they license certain limited rights to those books from authors -- the authors own the books.)

The British public seem to be ready to vote on any book-related topic at the drop of a hat; the current poll, run by The Guardian, was to find the "definitive book of the 20th century." The winner was Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. wishes that politicians were more like SF writers -- at least in the plausibility of their solutions and clarity of their ideas.

At the Amazon Blog, Jeff VanderMeer plugs Shared World Camp, where he and several other writers (including Jim C. Hines and Jack McDevitt) will lead teenagers in exercises to create their own fantasy worlds. I might have actually gone to a summer camp if they had something like that when I was a kid.

Cory Doctorow, writing in The Guardian, attempts to make the case that filtering the Internet is a bad idea because bad people (e.g.: China) do it.

Thanks to Robert J. Sawyer and Marel Gagne, there is now a Canadian SF Works Database (fully wiki-editable for logged-in users).

Robert J. Sawyer was also the recipient of an honorary doctorate of letters from Laurentian University.

Niall Harrison of Torque Control transcribed most of a WisCon panel on the appeal of Kelly Link's fiction (being WisCon, the intial focus was feminism).

The (Canadian) National Post gathers many booksellers' suggestions for summer reading, including Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union, some obscure book about a kid named "Harry Potter," and -- from Toronto's SF-specialist Bakka-Phoenix shop -- books by Robert Charles Wilson, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Megan Whalen Turner.

John Scalzi now has a Creation Museum very close to him. Does he want to go see it? No, he does not. But will he? Yes, if people donate enough money to his PayPal account (money to go to American United for the Separation of Church and State). Are there humorous banners involved? Of course there are.

Douglas E. Cohen presents his two favorite (personal) crazy author stories.

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