Astrogator's Logs

New Words, New Worlds
Artist, Heather Oliver             

What I Did During My Summer Non-Vacation

(best read to Oysterband’s Dancing as Fast as I Can)

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes,
and oh, my friends —
It gives a lovely light!

— 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.

On the Saturday of Readercon Joan Slonczewski, Jack McDevitt and Sue Lange came to dinner. Given the topics we covered, I should have registered this as a panel!

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.

7 Responses to “What I Did During My Summer Non-Vacation”

  1. Neo says:

    I’m glad you’re back…. 🙂


  2. Athena says:

    Awwww! *smile*

  3. Sue Lange says:

    Hey, how come we didn’t get a tour of the hanging gardens?

    Seriously, though, I don’t know if the Democrats have ever had a spine. Maybe it’s better that way, if the opposed groups both strut and puff, we’d have nothing but war. Somebody’s got to think before shouting.

  4. Athena says:

    It was icky that day — rainy, humid, dark… Also, I didn’t want to have a food riot on my hands!

    I’m with you about thinking (and checking facts) before acting. Which is why the Democrats should have seen the entire video of Shirley Sherrod’s speech before asking her to resign — by cell phone while she was driving, yet!

  5. intrigued_scribe says:

    Welcome back! 🙂

    And I totally agree that thinking needs to be placed before shouting.

  6. r0ck3tsci3ntist says:

    Readercon sounds like it was fun. And your porch is just lovely!

  7. Athena says:

    Heather, I’ve often thought that jumping to conclusions is a major source of conflicts. It can start vendettas and wars.

    Kathryn, it was — and it was twenty minutes away, so I could dart in and out! My porch is not bad, but it pales before your magnum opus garden. The heat has been good to some plants (the hibiscuits are rioting), not so good for others (the begonias rot in too much humidity).