Monday, August 13, 2018

Worldcon 76 Academic Track Presentation: "Le Guin's Daoism"

This week I'm going to San José, California to attend Worldcon 76 where I'll be making a presentation on the Academic Track called "Le Guin's Daoism."  The presentation will be on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 3pm (details here, abstract below).

This will be my second Worldcon, after MidAmeriCon II (Worldcon 74) in Kansas City, Missouri in 2016 (read about my experience here).  I had a great time at that one, so I'm looking forward to this one.  I'll also be spending a day in San Francisco beforehand, and thus need to pack for a totally different climate than San José.  The Bay Area is weird.

Weird Connections: Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower V) by Stephen King

At some point in Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower V), Roland wonders why the stories from the world of Jake, Susannah, and Eddie (i.e., our world) tend to be of only one genre (science fiction, Western, mystery, horror, etc.).  I've wondered this, too.  And apparently so has Stephen King, especially in this genre-blending series that I continue to love.

Wolves of the Calla is the fifth volume in the series, which is one long story (or more precisely, a network of interconnected stories).  So, don't even think of reading this unless you've read the previous four books (there's a later stand alone novel that I'm saving for later).  You can see my reviews of volumes one and two here, volume three here, and volume four here.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Philoso-monks Save Some Worlds: Anathem by Neal Stephenson

I finally found the Neal Stephenson book that's right for me. I've enjoyed a few of Stephenson's other books (particularly Snow Crash and Seveneves), but I admit I wasn't sure what all the hype surrounding Stephenson was about. Now that I found the right book, I get it.

Monday, July 30, 2018

2018 Hugo Ballot, Part Four (Artists, Zines, Campbell Award, Etc.)

Voting for the Hugos can be a bit exhausting, but I think it's worth it.  If you want to get in on the action, you have until tomorrow (July 31) to do so (see here for details).  Every time I tell myself that next time I will leave myself more time, but I always run out of time.  Where does the time go?  Maybe I need a time machine.  Oh, well.  I guess I'll get started.  (It's about time.)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

2018 Hugo Ballot, Part Three (Related Work, Dramatic Presentation, and More)

I've already submitted my votes for this year's Hugos for Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, and Best Short Story (see my ballots here and here).  But there are a lot more categories!  So ... many... categories.  You can see all the finalists in all the categories here.  There are more categories, honestly, than I can hope to vote for before the July 31 deadline.  I think I can manage a few more at least, so here's what I think about Best Related Work, Best Graphic Story, and Best Dramatic Presentation (Long and Short).  I'm not going to vote for Best Series because I haven't read any of them.  I'll probably also skip the editor categories because I don't feel as plugged into the professional side of science fiction as I feel like I ought to be to vote for those (although editing is a lot of work and deserves recognition, so I may change my mind there).  Hopefully I'll get to the other categories in Part Four!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Rewatching the Matrix Sequels

Morpheus in The Matrix Reloaded

Like many teachers of philosophy who love science fiction, I show clips from The Matrix whenever I teach anything to do with external-world skepticism.  It's a nice way to dramatize the question: how you could know that you're not in some radically different world like the Matrix right now?

Another thing I often mention to my students is that I pretend the sequels (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions) never happened.  The Matrix is a science fiction classic.  The sequels ... not so much.

But was I right?  Could my assessment of the sequels when I first saw them 15 years ago be as wrong as Neo's belief that he's not in the Matrix?  These questions were there like a splinter in my mind.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist).

So the other day I thought I'd conduct an experiment to answer these questions by rewatching the sequels.

Friday, July 27, 2018

2018 Hugo Ballot, Part Two (Novelette and Short Story)

Check out my 2018 Hugo Ballot, Part One to see what I had to say about the categories for novel and novella.  In this post I'm moving on to novelette and short story.  One of my favorite things about voting for the Hugos (which you can do, too!) is that it exposes me to new things and keeps me something like up-to-date with the SFF field.  This is especially true with the short fiction categories as I don't read nearly as much short fiction as I ought to.  So, thanks, Hugo awards!  There's some really great stuff this year!