Thursday, September 3, 2015

Illuminatus! comic re-released


Adam Gorightly checks in with a scoop: the Illuminatus! comic book is being re-released, as a free digital download. Material will be released on a monthly basis. Adam has posted an installment, but you can also download a zip file of everything available so far.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Some familiar names here

Speaking as a RAW fan, the names I recognize for this Sept. 5 event in  north Wales are John Higgs and Daisy Eris Campbell. You can read all about it. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A reply to the attack on Terry Pratchett


Terry Pratchett — literary treasure or potboiling hack? 

I am sensitive to literary politics and literary fashion — I am convinced that perhaps the main reason Illuminatus! has not received the attention it should from literary critics is simply because it was published as science fiction. So when I found out via Twitter about the attack on Terry Pratchett and people who read "potboilers," published in the Guardian, I wrote a response for my newspaper. 

There's a lot more I could have said. For example, despite what Jonathan Jones says, I am far from convinced that Gabriel García Márquez was a better writer than Ray Bradbury. Yes, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a good novel, and if you haven't tried it, you may have missed something. But although Bradbury was more of a short story writer than a novelist, I still think The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man are really good books, and stories such as "The Pedestrian" are really memorable. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Where are the peace candidates in the current election?


Hillary Clinton 

Joe Scarry (a good resource on Twitter for anyone who wants antiwar news and commentary) has a blog post up about something that bothers me, too: There's been a real lack so far on antiwar candidates, of candidates for president who will speak about about the United States' policy of endless war. (Rand Paul disappointed many of us when he came out against the Iran treaty. I like his dad better.)

In fact, there's been little discussion so far of foreign policy. I covered a speech by Hillary Clinton in Cleveland last week. She spoke for about half an hour, and I wrote a pretty long article about it for my newspaper. You'll see that there's nothing in there about foreign policy. That's not because I left it out; I was eager to hear something about the Iran treaty, the Mideast. She never mentioned foreign policy at all, except in the tangential sense of comparing Republican candidates for president to "terrorists."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

How do you read? A list of my addictions


Iain M. Banks

It's probably fairly apparent that I read a lot.

And my reading style tends to fall into two categories: (1) Reading, in a rather omnivorous fashion, a wide variety of nonfiction and fiction — really, a little bit of everything, with a marked preference for history and science fiction — and (2) a tendency to read another book by one of my favorite authors.

My tendency, since I was a teenager, has been that I will discover a favorite author, and then want to read as many books as possible by that person. In fact, for quite a few authors, I wound up collecting their books.

If you are curious, here is a list of authors in which I've attempted to read a great deal of their work, although in some cases, I've given up the job. This is NOT a list of the people I consider the best authors; it's a list of the authors I am addicted to (or have been addicted to), which is not exactly the same thing. For most of them, I can offer a pretty informed opinion on what their best books are. The first author on the list is probably kind of obvious, given the existence of this blog:

1. Robert Anton Wilson.
2. Tom Perrotta.
3.  Jane Austen.
4. Lawrence Block.
5. Jack Vance.
6. George Alec Effinger.
7. R.A. Lafferty. *
8. Philip Jose Farmer. *
9. Janice Weber.
10. Iain M. Banks.
11. John Higgs.
12. Kim Stanley Robinson. *
13. Vladimir Nabokov.
14. Richard Powers.
15. Bruce Sterling. *
16.  Richard Blake.
17. Martin Amis. *
18. Elinor Lipman.
19. Percy Bysshe Shelley.
20. Neal Stephenson.
21. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
22. Roger Zelazny. *
23.  Samuel R. Delany. *
24. Harlan Ellison. *
25. Gene Wolfe. *
26. Sinclair Lewis.
27. Robert Graves.

A few notes:

Usually I take my time in reading everything by a favorite author, preferring to know that there is a book or two for me to enjoy. This strategy failed with Jane Austen, however. After I read all six canonical novels (my favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion; Mansfield Park was the only one I didn't like very much), I read Lady Susan, the early epistolary work, and the two unfinished novels, The Watsons and Sanditon. There's nothing left. Similarly, although I've skipped the R.L. Stine book Perrotta ghostwrote, I've covered all of his novels and story collections. I have to wait for his new ones to come out to read another Perrotta.

The authors with an asterisk besides their names are the cases where I have given up trying to read every word they produced. I finished Delany's Dhalgren in college (I had trouble finding anyone else who could say that) but it was a Pyrrhic victory; I lost all desire to keep up with him. Roger Zelazny turned out to be uneven in his work, although I still read Zelazny novels I haven't gotten to yet. (In contrast, I've yet to find a Richard Powers or Tom Perrotta book that isn't worth reading.)

Kim Stanley Robinson has an asterisk because I don't like the direction his work has gone in, although I just read Aurora. For Gene Wolfe and R.A. Lafferty and Philip Jose Farmer, I realized after reading a great deal of their output that I didn't have to read every minor work they've produced and could be satisfied I've read the best ones.

My newest "acquisitions" are Janice Weber and Iain M. Banks and John Higgs and Richard Blake. Three our of four are Brits, but that may be a coincidence. Weber I'm a little bit behind on, but I will read her latest soon. The Richard Blake reading project is a little stalled because I want to read the Aelric books in order, and I can't find a library copy of Sword of Damascus or a Kindle version. Higgs I'm caught up on, except for the new one, which isn't out yet over here in the former colonies. Banks, I've mostly read the science fiction, but I'm almost done with Stonemouth.

I realize I don't have enough women, but the ones I've listed I love -- they're not there for affirmative action purposes. I don't love Sue Grafton, but I've read about half of her Kinsey Millhone books and will probably finish the series. I've read a lot of Connie Willis. I probably need to read another Allegra Goodman to see if I like it as much as The Cookbook Collector.

Harlan Ellison was almost left off the list because I realized early on I was never going to try to read all of the work he wrote in the 1950s, before he reached his stride. That said, I've read an awful lot of Harlan Ellison and still do so, so I decided he belongs on the list. I feel no compulsion to try to read all of Mark Twain, but I've read a lot of him. I've read a fair amount of Charles Dickens while leaving many works out. I've read a lot of Sinclair Lewis, but nothing before Main Street.  He's on the list  because I've steadily chipped away at him and read quite a few of the not-famous novels. (Work of Art is quite good).

Some favorite "genres": Russian science fiction (in translation), science fiction in general, books of history on the "fall of Rome/"Dark Ages"/Byzantium/Late Antiquity, ancient history.



Saturday, August 29, 2015

An Autonomous Agent on Prometheus Rising



A blog called An Autonomous Agent (I found nothing on the site to identify the man or woman who writes it) tackles Prometheus Rising. and references Alan Watts. "Wilson explains how tunnel-realities are formed:

“Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves”


"And he makes it clear that his book is itself a tunnel-reality written in English to appeal to the third circuit semantic logic of the reader."

I enjoyed exploring the site and its various sections and links; the person who does it has a lot of interests. I had never heard of AudioPhile Linux and there's a lot of beautiful stuff to look at. The image I used to illustrate this posting is from the site.

Hat tip: TimothyLearyFutique on Twitter, i.e. R.U. Sirius, who uncovers a lot of interesting stuff.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Finland considers basic income guarantee


Charles Murray, who wrote a book on his basic income guarantee plan 

While it hasn't been a major issue in the U.S., the idea of replacing the welfare system with a basic income guarantee apparently is being seriously discussed in Europe. As I've written before, Robert Anton Wilson is among those who suggested that it would be a good idea.

In Finland, for example, the various political parties are talking about it, according to this article in the Helsinki Times.  Excerpt:

If some  people have their way, you might soon be receiving a monthly payment from the State of Finland. You won't have to apply for it or prove that you need it. In fact, it doesn't matter if you are destitute or a billionaire. Simply by living in Finland you would be eligible. This is the so-called basic income.

The basic income is designed to be paid to every person, regardless of need. In its pure form it would be enough for anyone to live frugally. With a basic income all other transfer payments would cease. There would be no more child allowances, student stipends, unemployment benefits, housing assistance, disability payments or pensions. All such programmes would be unnecessary, because every person would automatically receive enough to cover basic living expenses.

I also found another article offering background on the Finnish situation.

Meanwhile, Switzerland is apparently going to have a national referendum in 2016 on a basic income guarantee proposal.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Charles Murray's In Our Hands, his book about the basic income guarantee.