Friday, April 27, 2012

Moving or moving on?

Moving on is an important part of life everyone should strive for. Moving, meaning the act of boxing/unboxing/packing the car/renting U-haul/etc., is another part of life no one really strives for.
I recently became a homeowner. I will soon move with my family to a new house. It is the typical American house, with a nice front yard and a beautiful backyard. I am basically becoming a new Homer Simpson (which means I need more beer in my refrigerator and a decent load of donuts). So, should moving be considered a positive or negative activity?
The physical act itself is pretty tedious and stressing. Living for days between boxes – which are inside another huge box called ‘house’ or ‘apartment’ – can really make someone go postal. It requires organizational skills that most people, including myself, do not have. When moving, the mission is to save time and space. Not because aliens are invading us while our galaxy is colliding with a parallel universe, but because every possible step has to be taken in order to avoid additional and often ineffectual work as much as possible.
Moving means to reinvent the self, to reorganize the house and to reinvent the whole handling of issues. Schedules are changed, roads are different. Bills will be sent to a different address; even the driver license will be different.
So, from a certain perspective, moving is one of the many faces of ‘moving on’. Old habits will have to be left behind and a page will have to be turned.
As Leto Atreides warns young Paul in ‘Dune’ “A person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing you to grow. Without them, it sleeps - seldom to awaken. The sleeper must awaken. ”

In other words, moving boxes from an old house to a new one is nothing more than the preface to the new experiences. Looking for the house, signing the contract, meeting the title lady at the title agency and moving the boxes can be defined, using John Campbell's method, as the 'separation' phase.
And later comes the mysterious part. Every new adventure brings challenges. The 'initiation' phase will begin as soon as we start sleeping in the new house. This will happen next week. What lies ahead? Is it possible to know or at least to have an idea? For sure I will have to fight with Texas' heat. Temps are way too high for grass to grow in peace. Bugs, snakes and maybe some scorpions will try to defend their kingdom and I, as Conan the barbarian, will have to destroy it. Who'll be the last one standing? I will prevail!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April/May's (very variable) book queue.

I am currently reading "American Gods" by Gaiman. So far I am loving it. "Soon" a review.

I just bought "This Alien Shore" by C.S. Friedman.

Next in line is "The Plucker" by Brom. After reading "The child thief" I expect another great book by the author.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Asimov's Science Fiction, June 2012, Volume 36, Number 6

The latest issue of Asimov's science fiction, June 2012, Volume 36 Number 6, is a meatloaf of stories that will be enjoyed mostly by hardcore sci-fi geeks. I would not use it to introduce speculative fiction to anybody. However, the cover price of $4.99 is acceptable.

"Possible Monsters" by Will McIntosh
It is by far the best in this issue. In this story, Cooper is a depressed failed triple-A pitcher. inside his home he finds a multi-eyed monster who loves watching TV. Cooper will then live a strange but very important adventure. This story actually has a meaning.

"Free range" by Bruce McAllister
I firmly believe that, contrary to the popular saying, roasted chicken is man's best friend. So it is natural that I find Bruce McAllister's story amusing. I won't spoil it, but be aware that chickens should not be underestimated.

"Scout" by Bud Sparhawk
It is the classical human vs. aliens story. It is well delivered. Let me tell you, our foes are very mean... and I am downplaying it.

"Final exam" by Megan Arkenberg 
It is a nice experiment. I never read a story made up with only multiple-choice questions and answers. It is a fun exercise, but hopefully there will never be a long version; it would remind someone of the school years.

"Missionaries" by Mercurio D. Rivera is a tale about faith, science, love and death. It is pretty enjoyable and a long form of it may be an interesting read.

"The widdershins clock” by Kali Wallace is a simple story about time, time travel and aging. Where is grandma gone?

"The flowering ape" by Allan DeNiro is, if you will, a story about young space navigators. I did not like it at all. It seems a dumbed down version of Dune's Guild navigators with a teeny mindset. Some may like it. I did not.

"Waiting at the altar" by Jack McDevitt is pure sci-fi. The story has spaceships, astronauts, technology and a rescue mission. Pleasant reading. I could not avoid to feel sorry for Simmons, one of the characters.

On a side note, Silverberg reviews some work of Philip K. Dick. Very interesting.
Here's the TOC from Asimov's website:

Missionaries by Mercurio D. Rivera

Possible Monsters by Will McIntosh 
Final Exam by Megan Arkenberg
Waiting at the Altar by Jack McDevit
The Flowering Ape by Alan DeNiro
The Widdershins Clock by Kali Wallace
Free Range by Bruce McAllister

Scout by Bud Sparhawk
Pavane by F. J. Bergmann
I am nothing, you say, to you, coming close to it by W. Gregory Stewart

Objectifying Faerie by Jane Yolen

The Novikov Self-Consistency Conjecture from "The Official Guide to Time Travel" by Robert Frazier

Care and Feeding by Mary A. Turzillo
Editorial: We Have Met the Alien by Sheila Williams
Reflections: Rereading Philip K. Dick by Robert Silverberg

Next Issue     

On Books: Short and Sweet by Paul Di Filippo

The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Got Asimov's science fiction - June 2012; Got 2600 - Spring 2012 issue

Just got the latest issue of Asimov's science fiction (June 2012). "Soon" a review.
Here's the cover:

Here's Asimov's website:

I also got '2600 - The hacker quarterly', Spring 2012 issue

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: F&SF, March/April 2012, Volume 122, No. 3 & 4

This issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine is what I was expecting. The quality is pretty good, the volume is 260 pages thick and filled with interesting stories. The retail price is $7.50.

"The perfect day" by C.S. Friedman
The story I enjoyed the most is "The Perfect day" by C.S. Friedman. This is very surprising because Friedman's work does not try to be the best in modern science fiction or, for the matter, in this issue. It is a satyrical view of today's dependence on portable devices and on our attitude toward communication technology. It is an interesting scherzo. The story got me at its first sentence:
"When Stanley Betterman awoke Monday morning he didn't know that everyone else in the world was naked"
The story then revolves around what we actually live every day, but in a futuristic environment. I have to admit that the Nigerian scam personification is a first-rate funny idea. "The Perfect Day" seems a mix between J.C. Hertz' "Surfing the internet" and "The Matrix" in satyrical tone. Most readers will forget it soon, which is a shame since the actual topic is quite important.

"The queen and the cambion" by Richard Bowes
This story features Queen Victoria and Merlin (the wizard). The queen is forced by a court conspiracy to summon Merlin for the first time and ask him to solve the issue. During the story, when Merlin is summoned he is in a different time and in contact with a different ruler. So, the reader meets Henry X, king of Britain in 2159. In the XXII century the crown is used only for advertisement and has no real value.

"The great triumph of his reign was being named spokesperson for Vhang'an/Ford/Honda, the world's mightiest automaker"

Sad, isn't it?

"Twenty-two and you" by Michael Blumlein
Interesting story about DNA manipulation and its consequences. It is very credible and quite possibly real in the near future. Just be warned that changing what you wish and fear brings consequences!
This story has the WORST sentence of the whole issue:
"They ordered the genome kit that same morning. Like an arrow waiting to be launched, it came the very next day"
I couldn't help but laugh.

Electrica by Sean McMullen
Cover story. Here we are reading about some invention that may help the British to communicate via ether which means only one thing: the defeat of Napoleon. The story has its potential but what we really get is a love triangle and a mad scientist.

Other Stories
Greed by A.E. Cowdrey: a weird castle in Mississippi? Well, "greed is good" may not be the best slogan for the main character. I found it very readable.

The man who murdered Mozart by Robert Walton and Barry N. Malzberg: a story with clones and time travel. Sufficiently interesting.

Olfert Dapper's Day by Peter Beagle: a story in early Puritan America, with unicorns and indians. Enjoyable.

Full Index from F&SF website:

March/April 2012

Electrica – Sean McMullen
Twenty-Two and You – Michael Blumlein
Greed – Albert E. Cowdrey
Gnarly Times at Nana'ite Beach – KJ Kabza
Olfert Dapper's Day – Peter S. Beagle
Repairmen – Tim Sullivan
One Year of Fame – Robert Reed
The Tortoise Grows Elate – Steven Utley
The Queen and the Cambion – Richard Bowes
Demiurge – Geoffrey Landis
The Man Who Murdered Mozart – Robert Walton and Barry N. Malzberg
Perfect Day – C.S. Friedman
Hanging Noodles – Sophie M. White
Books to Look For – Charles de Lint
Books – Chris Moriarty
Plumage From Pegasus: Pimp My Read – Paul Di Filippo
Films: Melancholy Danes Nacho E.T.s, and Nazis from the Moon – Lucius Shepard
Coming Attractions –
Curiosities – Frances Grimble
S. Harris, Tom Cheney, Frank Cotham, Bill Long, John Jonik, M. Nadler, J.P. Rini, Tom Cheney.
David A. Hardy For "Electrica"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Yesterday night Mike Napoli was hit in the head hit by a pitch. Luckily he's fine.


Picture from ” Dallas Morning News”.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yu are safe!

I bet that not a single person in the crowd of 42,003 expected this kind of game. Tens of thousand gathered at the Rangers Ballpark with just one thing in mind: to see Yu Darvish's debut. Oh my, oh my what did they pay to see. In his first American inning he let not one, not two, not three but FOUR runs. At the end of the first inning the pitch count for Darvish was already fourty.
It took him 74 pitches to get out of the first three innings. I honestly don't blame him, there was just too much hype around him. I am sure that by the end of the first half inning many fans chocked on the two-foot long monstrous hot-dog watching Yu wrecking.
Fortunately for Yu, the Rangers lineup is shockingly strong, almost at the outer limits of reality. At the bottom of the first both Kinsler and Beltre scored. Top of the second looked similar to the first inning, with Yu in clear difficulty, but only Suzuki scored. Score at the bottom of the second: Sea 5 - Tex 2.

And then the Rangers went wild.
At the bottom of the third Cruz homers, sending in Beltre and Young for the tying runs (5-5).
From that point on on Yu became what everyone expected to be, retiring ten players on a row.
Bottom of the fourth, homer by Moreland, with Napoli on base and it's 5-7. Then, bottom of the fifth and Josh Hamilton hit a towering 400+ foot homerun for the 5-8.
It's not over yet!
Bottom of the eight and Ian Kinsler  hits another homeroun for the team,.sending in Napoli and  Moreland for the 5-11.

Here's the happy ending. The Rangets were able to win 11 to 5 and were able to help a Yu in difficulty. Amazing game.

Full stats here:

The monstrous hot dog:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sweet sweep!

And so it is! The Yankees and the Red Sox are both 0-3. Gotta love baseball. According to USA Today this is the first time it happened since 1966. I guess it is going to be an interesting baseball season; I am so glad baseball is back!

Tampa Bay's Hellickson

For the Rangers, tomorrow is Yu Darvish day. The $150million Japanese pitcher will make his debut at the Texas Rangers Ballpark vs. the Seattle Mariners. Let's see if he is worth the money.
Let's go Rangers!

(Picture from USA Today)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Received F&SF Mar/Apr 2012

Just got the latest F&SF in the mail... soon (in biblical terms) my review.

Review: "The Child Thief"

There are very few books that are able to take the reader to a different world, play with him and then bring him back. "The child thief" by Brom is one of them. I really have to thank my friend Zac for letting me discover this amazing piece of art.Disclaimer: this book is not for everyone and is not for the occasional reader. Its contents and themes are very abnormal, to say the least.

In this book the author narrates the stories of none other than Peter Pan. Peter is very different than the nice never-grown kid we know from the current Disneyan's mythology. He's dark, he's blood thirsty, he has a job to do. He has to defend the land of Avalon (yes, you read correctly: Avalon and not Neverland) from the flash-eaters and their Captain. In order to win his battle he needs an army. Here the other characters come in play. I cannot spoil it too much, but I will say that his army is composed of desperate real-world kids. Among them, Nick. He's a fourteen year-old kid. He hates his mother and lives amongst drug dealers (but he's not one of them). Actually he cannot stand them so he chooses to leave, angering their leader. Peter will "rescue" him and will bring him to Avalon.

Brom's book is a voyage between the real and a fantastic world, but is especially a true voyage inside the mind of a poor kid and a twisted fantastic hero.
I think the sentence I liked the most is in chapter one. Peter is looking at a fight between teenagers:

"He looked at the numbed, perplexed expressions on the three older teens and thought. They're blind. Blind as a nut in a nutshell. There's magic all around them and they don't see a lick of it. How could this be possible? Only a few short years ago, possibly only a few months, they were still children, their minds in bodies full of magic, open and alive to all the enchantments swirling around them. Now look at them, miserable self-conscious fuckwits, going to spend the rest of their lives trying to find something they never even realized they'd lost.
I'd be doing them a favor. To gut the three of them. His eyes gleamed at the thought. Hell, and it'd be fun too. Watching their faces as they juggled their own guts. Much fun indeed. But he wasn't here to have fun. He was here to make a new friend".

There is a whole philosophy in there.
At the end (no spoiler, don't worry) there is a small dissertation by Brom on how he created his character: thanks to this I will definitely read the original Peter Pan!!

I can't spoil much more about this book, however the reader will find much enjoyment in Brom's illustrations. They really fit the theme.
Last thing: notice how the Captain evolves.


The Captain:

The Lady of the Lake:

The Reverend:

(All images from: )

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Unbelievable. FC Dallas 1, New England Revolution 0 with a goal by defender Ugo Ihemelu at the 94th minute. Unbelievable! Thanks to a beautiful ball by Zach Loyd on a free kick our defender was able to score with his head...

Match highlights here: