April 5th, 2005

chi2

forward motion

By about 6:30 yesterday evening, I'd written 1,140 words on Chapter Four of Daughter of Hounds, completing the first section of the chapter. It was a profound relief. I only hope I can do as well again today. This will be a shorter entry than the mammoth things I've been posting the last few days, because I want to get back to it. The day is beautiful here, and I'd like to have time for a walk after I get my "words" done. My agent called from NYC this morning to see how things had gone last week when I spoke with my new editor at Penguin. I was out on the front porch, reading Robert R. Bellrose's Woonsocket, and we talked for a little while about her walk through Central Park this morning and some absurd football stadium that Michael Bloomberg and the Jets have managed to finagle. Manhattan needs a frelling football stadium about like I need a few more deadlines. She was glad to hear that I was writing again.

I forgot to mention that Spooky and I saw Steamboy on Saturday. I think it's probably the best anime I've seen since Rintaro's Metoroporisu. And it managed an almost flawless fusion of cell animation and cgi that I've seen a lot of film's make a mess of recently (Ghost in the Shell 2, for example).

Here's something incredible that brokensymmetry dropped in the comments yesterday. These form a ball of plasma about 300 times hotter than the surface of the Sun. This fireball, which lasts just 10 million, billion, billionths of a second, can be detected because it absorbs jets of particles produced by the beam collisions. But Nastase, of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, says there is something unusual about it. Ten times as many jets were being absorbed by the fireball as were predicted by calculations. What does one say to such a thing? Wow. Drad. Oh, shit. & etc.

Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure, which I'd thought would be a biography has turned out to be more of a very annotated bibliography, and the author, Richard Lupoff, is, to put it plainly, a bit of a dork, but I am finding some interesting bits, here and there. This for example:

Burrough's influence on the development of science fiction has been an odd one. For some years, particularly in the 1920s and 30s, there was a great deal of Burroughs-type material produced, but as the years passed and science fiction 'matured,' the adventuresome themes of scientific romance, the wonder tales, gave way largely to introspective, social-satire material. It seemed that Burroughs was totally outdated.

This was written in 1965. Anyway, it struck a chord with me because a good portion of the sf I want to do owes a lot to that old Burroughs school of sf, stuff that today tends to get called "space opera." I want to write sf stories that make people think about the things they need to think about, personal and poltical and existential, but I also want to write sf stories that make people say "Wow." I think the wow thing has largely been relegated to film these days, perhaps because film is simply better at evoking wonder (many will disagree). But. Still. It's what I want to do.

Okay. I should get to work. But, since some of you have expressed an interest in my paleo' research, here's a photo of a specimen that I'm finishing up a short paper on (the paper was begun a couple of years ago and shelved):



It's the proximal (upper) half of the femur of an extraordinarily tiny pterosaur from the Late Cretaceous Mooreville Chalk of Alabama. The white scale bar in the photo is divided into 1 cm sections. This fossil probably represents a hatchling belonging to the Pteranodontidae, which includes such familar pterosaurs as Pteranodon. Remains of young specimens are very rare, and this one was found in sediments preserved in moderately deep water, at a considerable distance from shore. The adult would have been a pterosaur with a wingspan of 9m, if this is indeed a juvenile Pteranodon. It's also an example of how much time may pass between the discovery of a fossil and its description; I actually collected this femur way back in 1983.
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    NIN, "Reptile"