Nightstand II

  It’s always nice to have things easily to hand. From bottom to top again: Yogi Kondo et al. Interstellar Travel and Multi-generation Space Ships. This seems to be papers presented at an AAAS symposium with the same title as the book. In other words, some serious looks at a few of the technical issues […]

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Retrospective diagnosis

Attempting to impose a modern medical interpretation upon symptoms that have long since carried away their sufferers is always a chancy affair, and the older the facts the more dubious the conclusion. Consider the case of Elizabeth Kelly, eight years old.   I. Sunday 23 March 1662 Elizabeth attends meeting 9 a.m. to noon. She […]

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Against originality

There is after all no such thing. There simply cannot be! This can be proved from first principles. Words — and therefore sentences, paragraphs, pages, books — acquire what meaning they have, termed an acceptation, by the general consensus of a language community. Words mean what we use them to mean. But we cannot use words arbitrarily, […]

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The most glamorous fraud in the world

Everyone loves lists, making lists being one of the chief delights of mastering the arts of literacy. The best lists are capricious, free-form, and strongly believed in, like this one:   Bringing Up Baby: It’s silly and ridiculous and sidesplittingly, eye-wateringly hilarious. I’ve seen it umpteen times and it is always just as fresh and […]

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The greatest writer in the universe (I)

Is of course Joanna Russ. Where did I first encounter her work? It may have been her book reviews in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the late seventies (of the previous century, I mean; I was a teenager, I’m not that old). Certainly they have formed my view as science fiction as […]

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