Monday, January 29, 2007

Which science fiction writer are you?

Take the quiz here.

Turns out I'm Samuel R. Delany, but y'all can call me Chip.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Harry Potter Introduced Me to Satan

It was like looking in a mirror. Anyone seen this:

She's Back! Laura Mallory, OFF/beat's 2006 Idiot of the Year, appears undeterred in her quest to banish Harry Potter books from school libraries. The suburban-Atlanta mother announced, Wednesday, that she plans to appeal a Georgia court's dismissal of her contention that the best-selling novels are "evil" propaganda aimed at indoctrinating youngsters into witchcraft. Despite having never read the books herself, Ms. Mallory persistently maintains that she is "tak[ing] a stand for truth."

Mallory wrote a long op ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today about her Crusade against Potter and Rowling. I like the fact that her truths and her myths are both derived from myth:

Myth: Witchcraft is just harmless fantasy.

Truth: This is perhaps the greatest myth of all. America's desensitization to the occult is not only sad, but dangerous. We are in serious need of revival and a return to the traditional Judeo-Christian roots upon which our blessed country was founded.

I cannot count the times I have been told that these books are "just fantasy." But if you would like to know the truth, please keep reading and do your own research. Not only is witchcraft a real religion, subtly intriguing and luring our children and teens in unprecedented numbers, but it is also a dangerous one, often leaving its followers in darkness, depression and even suicidal. This was verified by a teenager from Lawrenceville and Mrs. Marsha McWhorter, a registered nurse and certified marriage and family therapist, both of whom testified at the Gwinnett County hearing on April 20, 2006, coincidentally, the anniversary of the tragic shootings at Columbine High School.


When the Bible and prayer were removed from our schools, in effect, God was expelled. So we've raised a generation not to know him. Now our schools and society are filled with violence, drugs, gangs, addictions, perversions, and we wonder why?

We need God in America again. He's the one who says don't lie, steal or murder — for our own good. Likewise, He's the one who says witchcraft, including the casting of spells, is an "abomination," meaning: detestable, repulsive, loathsome, vile, abhorred, (Deuteronomy 18:10-13), and we call it good reading material?

Last time I checked, every society since the beginnings of recorded history has been filled with violence, drugs, gangs, addictions and perversions, mostly due to xenophobic, superstitious nitwits like Mallory. And there was (were) even more god(s) in those eras.

*The painting above depicts the infamous Siege of Antioch, the first known battle in which the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch was used.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I heard Andy webcasting this afternoon with his students about Neil Gaiman's Coraline, a fabulous book about a young heroine who crosses into another world. Since I'm hip-deep in writing a conference paper about Dorothy Gale of Kansas, I'm also thinking about other young female world-striders, like Lyra in the
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. Brilliant books, those, and I'm aflutter waiting for The Golden Compass, due out in December 2007.

Speaking of traveling heroines, let us not forget that Pan's Labyrinth will at the Palace in Frostburg in February. We should try to set up a F2F meeting of FSFS.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Edgar Allan Poe: See and Hear!

This is for all EAP fans!

Excellent, teeth-chattering, spine-tingling renditions. This site indexes radio broadcasts of Poe’s tales, complete with foley effects and incidental music. Highly recommended! You can access “Fall of the House of Usher” for free.
The site also has a catalog for sci-fi broadcasts:
Note: If you purchase Poe, Vincent Price reads “The Imp of the Perverse.”

Tim Burton’s “Vincent”: a short, animated film in which Vincent Price narrates. Highly recommended!
Other works are also available through this site:
Check out this Oscar-nominated film version of the “The Tell-Tale Heart”:

I also thoroughly enjoy and highly recommend Closed on Account of Rabies: Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe.
You can access samples at
The CDs contain:
Alone - Marianne Faithfull
The Raven - Christopher Walken
The Tell-Tale Heart - Iggy Pop
The Conqueror Worm - Ken Nordine
The Black Cat - Diamanda Galas
For Annie - Gavin Friday
To Helen - Ed Sanders
The Haunted Palace - Ed Sanders
Ulalume - Jeff Buckley
Berenice - Dr. John
The City And The Sea - Deborah Harry and the Jazz Passengers
Annabel Lee - Marianne Faithfull
The Masque Of The Red Death - Gabriel Byrne
The Raven (excerpt) - Abel Ferrara

Miscellaneous audio clips:

“The Pit and the Pendulum” read by Basil Rathbone.

More dramatic readings by Basil Rathbone indexed at the Glowing Dial:

“The Raven” read by Chris Goringe.

Edgar Allan Poe New Media Book. Collection of stories with Flash player (even using high-speed, I had difficulty getting these to download):Tales marked for “Horror and Mystery” are posted and “Fantasy” is coming soon.

Project Gutenberg: The Works of EAP
The first few links include copyright information and a reading of contents.
The drawback is that this is read by a ‘computer’ voice – no inflection.

The Science of Sleep this weekend

Sydney and I have a conflict Saturday night, so we plan to see The Science of Sleep tonight, at the invaluable Palace Theatre on Main Street in Frostburg. So if any (FS)2 fellow travelers are in attendance, please let us know via the secret handshake, whatever that is.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Science Fiction at TVG

I've been blogging about science at The Voltage Gate for about 10 months now, and have written a stray post on science fiction and myth. I thought I would share those links in lieu of a more substantial, original post (I just finished slaving over the latest edition of the Tangled Bank; my brain is a bit fried):

The death of Isaac Asimov and the dangers of overspecialization

A missing element in most modern sci fi: science

Asimov's robot stories as anti-Faustian

Star Trek as the typic Promethean story

Fairy Rings beyond the myths

Since the opportunity rarely presents itself at TVG, I'm looking forward to ranting and raving about sci fi here at FSFS.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tolkien (and Jackson) in the Times-News

At the bottom of the front page of every edition of the Cumberland Times-News is a quote of the day -- whether obtained from a subscription service or collected by the editors, I don't know. The Jan. 5 quote of the day was by J.R.R. Tolkien:
All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.
This is, of course, from the ancient verse quoted by Gandalf in his letter to Frodo in Book 1, Chapter 10 of The Fellowship of the Ring:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
So Tolkien's pronoun was who, not that, but that quibble aside, I was pleased to see this on the front page. Five days later, on Jan. 10, came a column by Times-News editorial page editor Richard Kerns on ExxonMobil and global warming. It begins:
"We now have but one choice. We must face the long dark of Moria ..." -- Gandalf the Grey, noting with great foreboding the path the nine-member Fellowship must follow in its quest to destroy the ring of power in The Lord of the Rings.

The great wizard of Middle Earth could have been talking about January in Western Maryland, or just about anywhere for that matter. ...
Kerns returns to The Fellowship of the Ring at the end of his column:
"Be on your guard," Gandalf warns as the Fellowship sets off on its journey through the goblin-infested mines of Moria. "There are older and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the world."

There's oil, too. And greed ...
I believe the quotes in this column are from Peter Jackson's movie The Fellowship of the Ring, not the novel. In Tolkien's Fellowship, Book 2, Chapter 4, Gandalf says of the tentacled thing outside Moria's west gate:
Something has crept, or has been driven out of dark waters under the mountains. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.
Maybe Richard Kerns ought to be in (FS)2!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"Drawing Mythological Creatures"

Once you start looking for it, local science fiction/fantasy stuff crops up everywhere. I see in Allegany College's latest continuing-ed catalog that artist Donna Housel will teach a one-day course titled "Drawing Mythological Creatures" Saturday, March 10, at Allegany College in Cumberland. Tuition is $20, plus a $4 registration fee. Here's the info.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Some of Andy's favorites

Besides many of those already mentioned, these are among my favorites -- though I'll think of dozens of others moments after I post this, I'm sure, and favorite short stories are a (lengthy) post for another day:

  • Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
  • Octavia E. Butler, Kindred
  • Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
  • John Crowley, Little, Big
  • Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle
  • Harlan Ellison, Deathbird Stories
  • Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary
  • Ken Grimwood, Replay
  • Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
  • Judith Merril, Shadow on the Hearth
  • Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants
  • Keith Roberts, Pavane
  • Peter Straub, Ghost Story
  • Manly Wade Wellman, Who Fears the Devil?
  • H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
  • Gene Wolfe, The Fifth Head of Cerberus

  • Bedazzled (the Peter Cook-Dudley Moore original)
  • Brazil
  • Bride of Frankenstein
  • Dr. Strangelove
  • Ed Wood
  • Glen or Glenda?
  • Groundhog Day
  • The Invisible Man
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • Pinocchio (the Disney version)
  • Planet of the Apes
  • The Shining (Kubrick's)

    Comic books
  • Jack Cole, Plastic Man
  • Will Eisner, The Spirit
  • Steve Gerber, Howard the Duck
  • Harvey Kurtzman, Mad

    TV series
  • The Prisoner
  • The Twilight Zone (the original series)
  • The X-Files

    I have no experience with computer games, but in my youth I loved the TSR board game Divine Right and the Lord of the Rings war game (a tie-in to the Ralph Bakshi animated movie, if I remember correctly), and I spent a lot of time in the late 1970s and early 1980s playing tabletop RPGs, mainly Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu. More recently, Sydney and I have gone through a Magic: The Gathering phase and a Cheapass Games phase, especially The Great Brain Robbery. (A FSFS evening or weekend afternoon devoted to some game or other would be a fine thing.)

    I strongly ditto all these already mentioned:
  • Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, The October Country, Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Neil Gaiman, Sandman
  • Kelly Link, Magic for Beginners
  • Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz
  • Alan Moore, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • Christopher Priest, The Prestige
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
  • Doctor Who
  • Life on Mars
  • Star Trek (especially Kirk and company)
  • Star Wars (the real first trilogy, a.k.a. Episodes IV-VI)
  • Twin Peaks
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Thursday, January 11, 2007

    My Faves List

    I'm going to get a list in before Andy posts his. We'll overlap on at least two books, I'm sure.

    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark
    The Prestige by Christopher Priest
    Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
    Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
    Beluthahatchie and Other Stories by Andy Duncan

    Doctor Who (The 10th Doctor rules!)
    Life on Mars (arguably SF)
    Twin Peaks

    Edward Scissorhands
    Blade Runner
    Princess Bride

    From Hell by Alan Moore
    Promethea by Alan Moore
    Sandman by Neil Gaiman

    Pan's Labyrinth

    You heard it here first: Pan's Labyrinth, the acclaimed new fantasy movie from director Guillermo del Toro, is coming to the invaluable Palace Theatre on Main Street in Frostburg in February. So said Kurt Deffinbaugh and Emilie Gallagher in the equally invaluable Main Street Books when I popped in this afternoon. I can't remember whether they said Feb. 16-17 or Feb. 23-24; correct me, please, guys. In the meantime, better clear your schedules for both weekends, and start rubbing your hands together in Mr. Burns-like anticipation.

    My list

    Thought I'd follow Jeremy's lead and post my list of sci-fi/fantasy favs. (And also thank Andy for the invite.) Even though I'm not yet in the area, I'm working on it, and I look forward to getting together to discuss these and others in the near future.

    So, in no particular order (and by no means comprehensive)...

    • A Voyage to Arcturus, by David Lindsay
    • VALIS, The Divine Invasion, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, by Philip K. Dick
    • Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny
    • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

    • Stargate
    • Battlestar Galactica (new)
    • Lost (which I think counts, but feel free to disagree)
    • Firefly

    • F.E.A.R.
    • Half-Life 2

    • Blade Runner
    • The Fifth Element
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey
    • Stargate
    • Solaris

    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    Hi All!

    I wanted to get to this earlier, but it's been a tough couple of days.

    First of all, thanks to Andy for the invite. I'm looking forward to meeting other people in the area interested in reading, writing, blogging and watching science fiction.

    I thought I would share a list of a couple of my sci fi favs from different media.

    • As Andy said before, the Foundation series, by Isaac Asimov (especially Second FoundationFoundation and Earth)
    • The Dying Earth stories (Cugel's Saga, etc.), Planet of Adventure and the Demon Prince stories, by Jack Vance
    • October Country (short story compilation), Something Wicked This Way Comes, and of course, Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
    • The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester
    • Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clark
    • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
    • Earth X, Universe X and Paradise X
    • Crimson
    • Excalibur (the original, with Alan Davis; awesome)
    • Star Trek
    • Battlestar Galactica (new version)
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Angel
    • Final Fantasy: IV, V, VI, VII, X2 and XII
    • Resident Evil: I (remake), II, IV
    • Morrowind
    • Super Mario Bros 3
    • Okami
    • Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
    • Star Wars: X-Wing
    • The Matrix
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    • Star Trek (pick one)
    • Star Wars (pick one, from the original trilogy, anyway)
    • Seven
    • Evil Dead 2
    This is just a sample of my favorites, especially when it comes to the books. How about everyone else?

    Tuesday, January 09, 2007

    The Science of Sleep

    The Science of Sleep, the latest romantic fantasy from writer-director Michel Gondry (who directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), is coming to Frostburg for two shows only: Friday, Jan. 19, and Saturday, Jan. 20, at the invaluable Palace Theatre on Main Street. Showtime is 8 p.m. both nights. Maybe we could use the occasion to have a sort of mini-(FS)2 get-together ... if only in the theater lobby?

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    Poe, Poe, Poe

    I just noticed yesterday that a selection of books by and about Edgar Allan Poe is in the display case at the Frostburg Library on Main Street, along with biographical and reference information.

    A resident Poe expert is Amy Branham of the English department at Frostburg State University, who just presented a paper at the Modern Language Association convention on Poe's unfinished play Politian. Here's the abstract, though you'll have to scroll down to read it.


    Chris writes:
    Hooray! I'm biding my time in Catonsville (Baltimore) until I'm able to sell my house and move to Frostburg/Cumberland. Was hoping to find a writers group out there...and here it is!
    "Hooray!" is just the sort of response we're looking for, Chris, and we look forward to meeting you. Send me an e-mail and I'll send you a blog invite. What brings you to Allegany County?

    I should add, though, that (FS)2 isn't exactly a writers' group, as it isn't just for writers; it's for everyone interested in this stuff. I wouldn't be at all surprised, though, if a subset of (FS)2 members didn't form a local writers' group, sooner or later. I'm not in the market for a writers' group myself, but I have a lot of experience with them and have found them, at times, invaluable; I happily encourage others to try them, too.

    Aspiring sf, fantasy and horror writers also should check out the workshops and writers' resources in the links column to the right.

    (Thanks to undergrad math major Tricia Shore and her engineer husband for pointing out my mathematical typo earlier.)

    Welcome, Jeremy

    Jeremy Bruno is editor in chief of The Bottom Line, Frostburg State University's student newspaper, and author of the science blog The Voltage Gate.

    On his blog profile, Jeremy lists among his favorite books Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan, Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, Isaac Asimov's Foundation and The Caves of Steel, and Jack Vance's The Dying Earth. One of the best reasons to have a group such as FS2 is to share reading lists.

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    The Frostburg Science Fiction Society

    Let's have a Frostburg Science Fiction Society, so that folks in western Maryland who are interested in any aspect of science fiction, fantasy or horror, broadly defined, in any form (fiction, film, television, comics, games, mythology and folklore, etc.), can converse and get to know each other, online and in person. We'll have no dues and no formal organization, and our activities will be determined by the interests and involvement of the membership. We begin on New Year's Day 2007 with two founding members, Andy Duncan and Sydney Duncan. One day we may have meetings, an e-mail listserv, and who knows what, but for starters, we have this blog. We have a short list of potentially interested parties to whom we'll send blog invites, but if you're in the area, or the contiguous areas of Pennsylvania or West Virginia, and any of the aforementioned is of interest to you, please let us hear from you, by posting a comment here or by sending an e-mail.