Category Archives: fandom

In the Midst of Life….

A few days ago, the daughter of one of our nicest choir members was born with her umbilical cord wrapped far too tightly around her neck. I’ve heard that her grieving father was able to reach a priest and get her baptized; her parents also were comforted by many, many of the staff at the hospital who very kindly stopped by while they were given the time to hold her. Somehow, this baby’s death was as blessed and comforting as it was sad and wrenching. We forget that there really can be such a thing as a happy and blessed death — and then it happens again, and we remember how humans were meant to live and die, before we first sinned.

(We say these things are extraordinary, but really, they happen all the time yet are always something unexpected. We don’t know why some people receive certain consolations in special ways; why others are comforted by God through more mundane channels; or why others suffer like Christ, mostly alone. Some day we will know, but not yet.)

Just yesterday, Robert L. Asprin (funny and controversial author, musician, songwriter, co-creator of the Thieves’ World shared world anthologies, creator of the Mythadventures, and founder of the Dorsai Irregulars, the Klingon Diplomatic Corps, and the SCA’s Great Dark Horde) passed away at his home in New Orleans. He was fine earlier that afternoon; he was dead by the time a friend arrived to give him a ride to the airport to be Guest of Honor at Marcon in Columbus. He died reading a Terry Pratchett book — and surely, that’s a little sign of God’s grace to him.

I only met him once or twice. Sure, I’ve heard lots about the bad stuff he did. But my friends and acquaintances in the Horde and Dorsai have enriched my life, and so have his songs and stories. He was good and bad; but he was never indifferent. So farewell, Yang the Nauseating, Commander Kras of the KDC, and all the rest.

In the midst of life, we are in death. This Memorial Day, we will remember and pray for our gallant dead. Please add to your prayers and thoughts a moment to remember an old pro and a tiny young girl — to pray for their friends and family as well — and to remember that you too must die.

Will you and I make as much of a difference as he did? Or as she?

UPDATE: A portrait of Bob Asprin by Kaja Foglio.

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Technology for a Better Life

If you are reading a fanfic on your computer, and the author names one of his characters

A) something twee, and

B) after someone you despise,

you can easily solve the problem with a global search and replace. What’s more, you can use this to deal with overly elaborate Mary Sue names, foolish errors in historical naming, and the like. (As long as you remember what you’ve done, and never write any reviews of scholarly articles based solely on your version, that is.)

Now, let’s see. Wouldn’t it be better if people didn’t use Merlin’s name so gratuitously to name their characters? Aren’t there a wide variety of other magicians about, like Michael Scott, Gerald Fitzgerald the Wizard Earl, Jan Tregeagle, Virgil, and Maugis? And wouldn’t it be better if everyone with a pretentious name were renamed things like Bob or Ann? So… if somebody is named, say, Pretentius Myrllllyn, you just rename him Bob Tregeagle or Mac Mogie.

Ahhhh. Much better.

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Because It’s There

I’ve always liked Vathara, who is one of the better exponents of the theory that any sufficiently interesting universe can be crossed over with any other. I don’t like all her stuff, but I couldn’t go to sleep last night until I finished “Shadows in Starlight”.

Even if you don’t normally like fanfic, this one you might enjoy. It is a work in which we learn what Rurouni Kenshin would be like if the people and situations had been born into the Star Wars universe, circa A New Hope. However, she also manages to retcon the chronologically-earlier first trilogy,  such that I don’t hate and despise all its works and pomps at the moment. (Though I still say Alec Guinness was thrice the Obi-Wan that anyone else could possibly be.) Anyway, tons of fun. If we have to have Those Other Movies, I’ll explain ’em to myself like this.

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“Inventor Rutili” Update

You know how you tend to have a certain picture in your head of how history was, and then you find out some little bit of information that brings you up short, like you’ve just tried to walk through a glass door?

In the Pope’s Easter Vigil homily this year, he said, “Gregory of Tours recounts a practice that in some places was preserved for a long time, of lighting the new fire for the celebration of the Easter Vigil directly from the sun, using a crystal.”

ACK!

I assumed that the “petram” “silicis” in the hymn was flint. So did everybody else, apparently. But the poetic images transition much more smoothly from sun to rock, if Prudentius were referring to using rock crystal to focus sunlight the same way a magnifying glass does. Heck, the whole Easter Vigil imagery is stronger, for that matter.

We just don’t want to think of the classical world as knowing so many of the same scientific facts we do, much less of the early Church as employing science and technology in the service of religion. But many of the Fathers loved natural philosophy as much or more than regular philosophy. Also, it’s much easier for a Christian to love the wonderful things God’s creation can do, than if one were a Stoic thinking of the world as a plate that can break or a Gnostic hating all matter. So heck, if the early Christians had had a “frickin’ laserbeam” available to turn the sunlight into something that could start the Easter fire, they’d probably have used it.

(*rub hands together evilly* And you know, I have seen some calculations that lasers were possible in the classical world, given a good enough gemstone… that is, a good enough crystal…. Heh! No, I don’t really believe the early Christians had lasers. But in an alternate Greco-Roman universe, it’d be a pretty obvious liturgical development; and it would be really cool if the Vatican did something like that now. Not practical for every parish, though. And I think the frickin’ Roman laserbeams wouldn’t really have been technically possible without some real improvements in all kinds of materials. So take this all as total fiction; but it was pretty cool in a fictional way in that one James Rollins novel, and I think it might have showed up in a few more sf historical novels.)

UPDATE: Thanks, Cassandra, for the correction! At certain hours of the morning, I apparently can’t remember what Latin goes where, and… um… I was kinda in a hurry to post before work, so I didn’t do a fact check. *bloggy blush*

So silex, silicis = pebble, stone, rock, flint, boulder, stone. Not sounding very much like “rock crystal”, is it? I suppose Prudentius could have been writing about it in a way which would possibly include both flint and rock crystal, but… I don’t know that I’m buying it.

Sigh. Another beautiful crystalline boat of theory sinks slowly into the West, under the weight of a boulder of fact. Taking with it my frickin’ laserbeam.

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Hornblower Audio Drama? Hornblower Fan Discussion Podcast?!?

Well, some people certainly are busy! And since I know that certain readers of this very blog are very fond of Horatio Hornblower, I have to link to it. Enjoy!

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OMG!

Rob Thomas is going to remake Cupid?!

Yes, it died too soon. And now it’s being reincarnated as a new pilot for faithless-but-repentant ABC, with new cast and new scripts but the same concept.

I assume that this time he’s going to lean harder on the “this guy is crazy” side, as it disconcerted him last time that all the fans were totally convinced that “this guy is a Greek god exiled to Earth”. Unless he’s decided to let go and let god. :)

But I don’t care. I’m sorry that our old friends won’t be there, but it’s such a theatrical concept that a recast won’t be too much of a strain. Besides, most people never saw the thing at all, let alone the most brilliant television episode ever to feature linguistics as a plot point. (Snif.)

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I Wish to Register a Protest.

Janet Kagan died on February 29, 2008. Of COPD, of all things, which explains why she hasn’t been writing much for the last ten years. But there were no global funeral parades, no memorial tailkinker jalapeno eating contests. In fact, I wasn’t even informed. What is the deal, people!?!

(All right, the date’s got style. But as for the rest, I disapprove.)

Still, I bet the angels are having a lot of fun, with her around.

If you don’t know who Janet Kagan is… well, she was the author of one very good Star Trek novel, Uhura’s Song. She was also the author of a good but hard to find sf novel, Hellspark, and the wonderful Mirabile series of stories about genetic engineering that’s a bit too creative. She also wrote a few more stories, which I mostly haven’t read. She won a Hugo for one of them — I did read that one, but it’s not a favorite.

If you go to her webpage, she has a couple of free stories still up.  You might want to go soon.

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