All of yesterday was spent on the editorial pages for "The Maltese Unicorn." But I saved all the really hard stuff for today. And today is the very last day I have to work on the story, so it's going to be a long, long afternoon. Speaking of long, did I mention this is probably my longest short story since "Bainbridge" back in December 2005?
I've been alerted (thanks, John Glover et al.) to the fact that Amazon.com is now saying that The Ammonite Violin & Others won't be shipping for 1-2 months. No, I don't know why. But I have just emailed Bill Schafer to see if he knows, and I'll pass the news along as soon as I have it.
There's an announcement I need to make, and I see no point in putting it off any longer. This will likely be the last year I do conventions. I have Readercon 21, and then another con this autumn, and I don't expect to do any more after that. They're just too expensive, require too much time and energy and time away from work, and my health isn't what it once was. And, truthfully, I've only rarely enjoyed doing conventions. Dragon*Con was fun those years I costumed, and Readercon is nice, because it's laid back and feels a little more like an academic conference than a sf/f con. But yeah, consider this my last year for cons.
What else about yesterday? I watched an episode of American Experience about the Donner Party, via PBS online. And later, Spooky and I marked the 150th anniversary of Thomas Huxley's 1860 debate with Samuel Wilberforce by watching Jon Amiel's Creation (2009; based on Randal Keynes' 2000 novel Annie's Box).
It's a beautiful, marvelous film. Yeah, it has its share of fictionalized and synoptic history, but it very effectively communicates Darwin's struggles with his own loss of faith, his health problems, the death of a daughter, and the tensions between him and his wife, all leading up to the composition of On the Origin of Species. Both Paul Bettany (Charles Darwin) and Jennifer Connelly (Emma Darwin) are superb in their roles. And Toby Jones was an inspired choice for Thomas Huxley. The film captures all the wonder, confusion, and terror that must have attended Darwin's protracted epiphany. Excellent cinematography, which often makes great use of bright splashes of color against drab canvases. I very strongly recommend this film.
You may recall the kerfuffle that preceded Creation's US release (it was eventually picked up by Newmarket Films; the US was one of the last countries where it found a distributor). To quote producer Jeremy Thomas, "It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America. There's still a great belief that he [God] made the world in six days. It's quite difficult for we in the UK to imagine religion in America. We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the US, outside of New York and LA, religion rules." It is, indeed, unbelievable, and a tragedy that anyone would try to prevent this powerful and powerfully humane film from being shown anywhere. It is unthinkable to me that 151 years after the publication of Darwin's great book, Americans have yet to come to terms with the fact of evolution, and that so many of them cling to the absurdities of Biblical literalism, and, in doing so, contribute significantly to scientific illiteracy in this country. Darwin wasn't wrong in fearing the storm he would ignite, but I don't think even he imagined that we'd still be weathering it this far along.
Now, the mothmen, the platypus, and the dodo are telling me there's a unicorn with my name on it.