Sunday, March 26, 2000

Bears Discover Fire

OK, I admit it; I bought this book in large part for the title, and the cover (sadly not available at Amazon), which shows bears with torches.
Wallace was the first to speak. "Looks like bears have discovered fire," he said.
Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories by Terry Bisson is a collection of short (often very) stories. Many, like the title story are based on a single conceit -- everything else is the same, except, well, bears discover fire. And instead of hibernating, they're camping out in the medians of interstates. Or in "England Underway," England starts moving around Ireland, swings past Bermuda and comes to rest off the East Coast of the U.S. The best comparison I can make is to Steven Wright jokes. "Press Ann" can't really be described here, but is now one of my all-time favorites.
Bisson admits he sometimes writes "odd mainstream works" that get passed of as fantasy and SF. While only a handful of his works "count" as true fantasy or SF, they are no less enjoyable. 5 stars.

Friday, March 24, 2000

Future Perfect...

The premise of the anthology How to Save the World, edited by Charles Sheffield is jokingly put forward that science fiction writers have the best ideas; they just never get to implement them. This collection is a mixed bag; some, like "Raw Terra," weren't interesting enough for me to finish. A major theme of this collection is the law of unintended consequences -- "Choice," "The Meetings of the Secret World Masters," "Souls on Ice," "The Product of the Extremes," and others all show less than utopian outcomes when the solutions are implemented. But for near-future SF, this is a pretty good collection of short stories. 3 1/2 stars.

Kartchner Caverns

We toured Kartchner Caverns Thursday. Kartchner just opened up in November, but it's already really popular. Tours are sold out into June. The Caverns were discovered in 1974 by a couple of guys who kept them a secret. In 1978, they clued in the Kartchners, who own the land, and in the 1980s, they brought the state of Arizona in. The neat thing is that since the caves were kept a secret until the state took over, they've never suffered from any vandalism and are in pristine condition. It's a "wet" cave, which leads to some very interesting formations. Unfortunately, they didn't let us take any pictures, but I have a feeling pictures wouldn't capture these amazing formations. Some looked like Cthulhu, but the "cave bacon" was especially neat. It really looks like bacon. Anybody who's in southern AZ should have a look at some really impressive caves...but make your reservations months in advance.

Wednesday, March 22, 2000

It's No Hitchhiker's...

Well, today in Arizona was spent looking for the ghost towns of Gleeson, Courtland and Pearce. It actually snowed, so the weather wasn't really up for poking around in the ruins. And to the extent it was, well...the ruins weren't so exciting.

But the car trip did give me a chance to finish Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic by Terry Jones. Take a computer game written by hilarious author Douglas Adams, get Monty Python's Terry Jones to write the novel (naked), and you get...a novel that reads like it was based on a computer game. Some talent shines through, but not worth a full review. Sigh. 2 stars.

Tuesday, March 21, 2000

Rocket Boys

Greetings from Arizona, where I'm kicking back, relaxing and getting some reading done. My latest read is Homer Hickam's Rocket Boys, the based-on-a-true-story tale of the author's childhood growing up in a coal town of West Virginia and making his dreams of building rockets come true. (This book was the basis for the movie October Sky.) One of the more enjoyable books I've read in a while. 4 1/2 stars. Read my review. Also check out

Tuesday, March 14, 2000

Dungeons and Dragons

I started a new weblog for Ben's D&D campaign. Check it out for my tale of adventure.

Sunday, March 12, 2000

The Last Days of Disco

"Disco will never be over. It will always live on in our minds and hearts. Disco was too great and too much fun to be gone forever"
We rented The Last Days of Disco last night. Read my review. 2 1/2 stars.

Monday, March 06, 2000


Marlee was working on New Year's Eve, so we rang in the new year (and millennium, depending on whom you believe) at CNN's Washington bureau. Check out the photos.

Sunday, March 05, 2000

Martian Race

I just finished reading the book Martian Race by Gregory Benford. This book is the latest in my series of "Mars books". 3 1/2 stars. Read my review.

Saturday, March 04, 2000

Reindeer Games

I saw Reindeer Games this afternoon. Fairly entertaining, though it won't go down on my all time favorites list. 2 1/2 stars. Read my review.

Friday, March 03, 2000


I went to Atlanta last weekend for a dinner party my sister-in-law had. Yeah, I know, it's a long way to go for a dinner party, but...well, that's not the point of this. Four years ago, before the Olympics, my friend Ben graduated from George Mason. Since he was coming down to visit Georgia for the Olympics, I thought it would be cool to buy him a brick in Centennial Olympic Park.

The only problem was, the bozos running the operation didn't get all the bricks laid in time for the Olympics, or the other few visits Ben made to Georgia before I moved up to Maryland. So while Marlee was visiting CNN, I went to Centennial Park, and, well, anyway, Ben, here you go...

Freaks and Geeks

I found this photo essay entitled "Convention Freaks" in a random comment on Slashdot. I know I shouldn't enjoy making fun of people, but...well, this is a good way to do it.

Thursday, March 02, 2000

From a Boob to a Dweeb

Bush was on Letterman last night, and sadly I missed it. CBS has an article on it, though. It sounds like he came across like a dolt who has no idea of what's appropriate. I don't know what's scarier -- the idea that he wrote these jokes himself, or that he had someone else write them.