So It Goes…


[after Diane gives Thornton an ‘F’ for his report, which was actually written by Kurt Vonnegut]
Diane: Whoever *did* write this doesn’t know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut!
[cut to Thornton’s dorm suite]
Thornton Melon: [on the phone] … and *another* thing, Vonnegut! I’m gonna stop payment on the cheque!
[Kurt tells him off]
Thornton Melon: Fuck me? Hey, Kurt, can you read lips, *fuck you*! Next time I’ll call Robert Ludlum!
[hangs up]

Ladd Observatory, Providence

Chris Perridas has been blogging about H.P. Lovecraft and his time in Providence, Rhode Island and his post today featured the Ladd Observatory. Originally built in 1891, Lovecraft used to hang out there quite a bit:

Ladd remains a living museum of 19th century astronomy practices, complete with creaking staircases and a pleasantly musty attic smell.”

“Some of those rooms, like the one that houses the old transit telescopes, haven’t been fully renovated. As the door creaks open, visitors are greeted by a blast of cold air. The lights don’t work, but Targan shows groups around anyway, with the aid of a flashlight, pointing out how the telescopes were used to keep time by tracing the stars along the sky’s meridian. In the dark, with various strange-looking contraptions covered in dark sheets, the building has a certain haunted house-quality, and indeed, Ladd is said to be haunted by at least one ghost — that of noted Providence fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft. “Did he ever come here?” a visitor asks. “Are you kidding?” Jackson says. “He had a key to the place.” As a teenager, Lovecraft displayed a keen interest in the skies, even writing regular articles about astronomy for Providence newspapers. And he enjoyed the run of the observatory, thanks to then-director Winslow Upton, a friend of the Lovecraft family.”

I took a mini-Lovecraftian tour of Providence on my Loop The USA road trip in 1994 and fell in love with the little observatory the second I saw it.

Ladd Observatory

I have my doubts that the swing set out front can ward off Eldrich Horrors, but maybe that’s how you summon Them in the first place.

SF book meme

The latest blog meme, this one courtesy of writer Ian McDonald

This is the Science Fiction Book Club’s list of the fifty most significant science fiction/fantasy novels published between 1953 and 2002. Bold the ones you’ve read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov*
3. Dune, Frank Herbert*
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson*
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury*
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman*
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams*
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson*
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley*
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick*
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement*
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute*
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke*
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven*
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson*
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner*
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer*

Not sure why the early cutoff date is 1953, there’s some significant work from before then. I also have to obviously question why Terry Brooks is on this list while Stanislaw Lem isn’t. And I’m not even going to snobbishly object to the inclusion of fantasy lit into a purported science fiction list (er, and Peter S. Beagle isn’t on this list because?)

I’ve been listening to StarShipSofa‘s podcast overviews of classic SF writers and I forget that I missed reading much of the early classics – no Blish, Budrys, Smith, etc.

Op-Art Enlightenment via album covers

Back when it was still fashionable to have band stickers on the back of your car I home-brewed up a Spectrum sticker using the back design of the “How You Satisfy Me” single. It’s a cool op-art design and later Sonic printed up a t-shirt with it for the 2002 tour.

I always figured that the origin of it was some sort of “generic” op-art design from the sixties and sure enough while hopping around on eBay I noticed this cover:

So it dates back to at least 1973. I’m sure that it’s something/someone famous that I should already be aware of but the archeology continues…

Things I Like (Feb 2005)

1. Zaha Hadid’s deisgn for the Bergisel Ski Jump in Austria.


2. Italian science-fiction magazine covers.

urania-u289 urania-ubis321

3. Brazilian album covers from the 1960s.

sabadabada-amada sabadabada-bailegato sabadabada-papsmodernsound sabadabada-samba707

4. The mind-croggling critters of crank biologist and illustrator Ernst Haeckel.


5. Eurotrashy road trip quests. Probably best exemplified by William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and Wim Wenders’ Until The End Of The World. Transnational citizens with no visible means of support other than from some sort of shadowy organization hop, skip, and angst their way across continents in pursuit of some esoteric “something.” With the aid of consumer brands, the lead characters find hidden truth that they can’t comprehend – proving cultural critic David Lee Roth’s axiom “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how good you looked.” Am I the only one to wonder if Cayce was named after Edgar Cayce?