(best read to Oysterband’s Dancing as Fast as I Can)
– Edna St. Vincent Millay
To anyone wondering about the unusually long silence on the blog — I’ve been working solo in the lab and closing out my two small grants. I’ve gone once again to half salary, to nurse my tiny seed corn until the fate of my pending grant gets decided.
On other fronts, I’ve managed to keep my hanging gardens going despite the weather. Last weekend we went on an art walk in that lovely corner of New England tucked between Newport and South Dartmouth, which is Cape Cod minus tchotchkes and tourists. I’m wrestling with several invited stories, articles and reviews — though I need to impose some discipline, because they keep jostling each other for attention in my head.
I was one of the judges in the short story contest of Science in My Fiction. The ten finalists were excellent and hard to rank. They also had several commonalities. All but one and a half were resolutely earth-bound; all but two unfolded in the US or a vague post-apocalyptic landscape; all took their kernels from biology and focused on the brain/mind; and they contained zero romance. In short, cyberpunk… but they engaged well with the scientific concepts that fueled them.
I also gave a solo talk and participated in two panels at Readercon. In my talk, Citizens of the Universe, Citizens of the World, I discussed the importance of wide horizons to writing speculative fiction with authenticity and legitimacy. The panels were Avatar and the Future of Planetary Romance and The Body and Physicality in Speculative Fiction. Both were thought-provoking and lively – and if you guessed that I had much to say and did so, you’d be right. The second panel could easily have lasted three hours. We were just getting warmed up when we had to roll our tents.
And I still take the occasional moment to shake my head over such things as the seriously flawed longevity gene study (another spectacular case of hype over rigor, especially for a journal like Science) and the witchhunts by those whose appetite for destruction has overwhelmed their reasoning capacity. The Democratic leadership should grow a spine and re-read the tale of the scorpion and the frog.
Images: top, Loie Fuller, Serpentine Dance (1896); bottom, the hanging gardens of North Cambridge.