July 29, 2008
July 21, 2008
More than once my writing mentors have recited the quotation that “Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.” The Internet tells me a fellow named Christopher Hampton coined the phrase. Regardless, having heard the quotation more than once, I’ve been dreading my first brush with critical opinion. Wrongly so, it seems. The Publisher’s Weekly reviews for Seeds of Change have come back:
This thought-provoking anthology of nine original stories posits near-future paradigm shifts in everything from race relations (in Ted Kosmatka’s vivid and moving “N-Words,” where cloned Neanderthals encounter violent hatred from Homo sapiens) to the morality of uploaded consciousness (in Blake Charlton’s clumsy but charming “Endosymbiont”), with varying success. The hero of Jay Lake’s “The Future by Degrees” invents an energy-saving thermal superconductor only to be pursued by corporations protecting their business, with predictable results. Pepper, the mercenary hero of Tobias S. Buckell’s Crystal Rain, refuses to assassinate a dictator in the morally contrived “Resistance.” Considerably more powerful is Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu’s “Spider the Artist,” which combines African folk tales and advanced robotics in a chilling story about a rising social conscience in the Nigerian oil fields. Despite weak spots, this anthology accurately reflects many of today’s most pressing political and social issues, and will give readers plenty to think about and argue over.
July 5, 2008
Twenty odd Stanford medical students squeeze into a Cal Trans packed with other ‘peninsulares’ who are heading up to the city for the 4th. There’s a long train ride with card games and gossip. A subsequent adventure of muni and shuttles to get to the waterfront and then a safari through the crowds in the chilly late afternoon. A slice of grass is claimed by blankets, search parties are sent out and return with pizza and beer. More cards games as the fog rolls in from the west and forms a high ceiling that stretches out to Alcatraz.