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Science, Fiction, and points in between
Saturday 12 May 2001

§ Warp speed underwater? According to this article by Steven Ashley, evidence surrounding the Kursk accident last year suggests it

revolved around an amazing and little-reported technology that allows naval weapons and vessels to travel submerged at hundreds of miles per hour - in some cases, faster than the speed of sound in water.
Scientific American, May 2001

And here's a piece about British scientists building a superluminal transmitter...

New Scientist, 28 April

§ Here's an review of an art show at the New-York Historical Society (through June 10), "Out of Time: Designs for the 20th-Century Future". Show organizer Norman Brosterman's book of the same title includes all the artwork discussed in the review.

New York Times, 12 May

§ Information on the web is free, but how much does anyone really pay for content anywhere else?

Most leading print magazines would happily send you their product for free if they had any way of knowing (and proving to advertisers) that you read it. Advertisers figure, reasonably, that folks who pay for a magazine are more likely to read it, and maybe see their ad, than those who don't. So magazines make you pay, even if it costs them more than they get from you.
— Michael Kinsley in Slate, 10 May

§ An answer for authors who dread bookstore appearances, "no matter how many people don't turn up": concerts.

Novelist Daniel Handler (The Basic Eight, the "Lemony Snicket" series) has also read (and played accordion) at Magnetic Fields gigs, and when they play on June 17 at the Bottom Line in New York City, Neil "Sandman" Gaiman will be the warm-up.
Slate, 10 May

§ Harry Potter is good for you, psychiatrists have decided.

One thing is consistent, Benedek said. None of her young patients -- not even those who idolize the rapper Eminem and quote his violent lyrics -- identifies with the character of Harry's archenemy Voldemort, a dark wizard driven by his lust for power into a life of evil.
New York Times, 8 May

And at a medievalists' convention, professors compare Hogwarts to the court of King Arthur.

New York Times, 12 May

§ Has Roget's Thesaurus caused more harm than good? Long article by Simon Winchester:

The Atlantic, May 2001

§ All about novelizations.

Written and published at lightning speed they're typically written in four to eight weeks novelizations can make a John Grisham novel itself the larval stage in the book-screenplay-movie metamorphosis seem like high art...

Some novelizations have even become classics: the novelist William Kotzwinkle wrote a charming book for Steven Spielberg's "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," and fans of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" tried to unravel some of the film's mysteries by reading Arthur C. Clarke's novelization of the screenplay that he wrote with Kubrick. Both books have gone on to long lives on the shelves of bookstores and libraries. In fact, the genres that sell best as novelizations are young adult books, horror and science fiction. Isaac Asimov's novelization of the 1966 film "Fantastic Voyage" is still in print, and all of the "Star Wars" novelizations have done quite well (then again, everything having to do with "Star Wars" is in a universe of its own).
New York Times, 1 April

§ David Shields: a writer who reads his reviews.

I read all my reviews, though not necessarily every word of every one. The really positive ones are boring after a while, but I must admit I find bad reviews fascinating.
New York Times, 9 April

§ Charles Taylor on bookflap copy.

Authors have little or no control over their jacket copy. That doesn't stop me from wondering how good a novel can be when its description is so carelessly written. "In memories that rise like wisps of ghosts" suggests that the narrative is going to be even wispier. I mean, a ghost is already vaporous -- how the hell hard is the wisp of ghost to detect? Does the book come with special glasses, like the ones handed out at the William Castle movie "13 Ghosts," which enabled you to see the spooks?
Salon, 30 April

§ Are you afraid of cookies?

— Scott Rosenberg in Salon, 7 May
Because cookies are simple text files and not active code, they can't contain viruses or wreak malicious damage to your system. And whatever a cookie is doing, you are its master: You can always delete it, destroy it, blast it out of existence and return your relationship with any Web site to square one. You don't have to beg the company to "take me off your list"; you own the list.

March Aether Vibrations

© 2001 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.