Friday, April 24, 2009

Links & Writing Update

Micheal Yon - an independent Mideast reporter. Worth reading.

Michael Z Williamson talks about his latest book, over at John Scalzi's place.

Scientia Pro Publica 2 - Science, Nature and Medicine Carnival - *lots* of cool links.

Ron Rolheiser - does a weekly column on theological topics. Well worth the read.


After a dry spell that lasted most of three months, I started writing again. Only a few hundred words a night, and they're not very impressive words, but they're written.

As a reward, I got hit with another plotbunny. God is good. *g*

(When I say 'dry spell' - this was strictly creative writing. Work writing (which can occasionally be very creative, especially when I'm trying to find a nice way to say "what you're suggesting is illegal and ill-advised and no, I'm not going to waste my boss's time by discussing it with him" to the heads of other sections) doesn't count, and I'm not counting the prayer/reflections journal either.)

Near as I can figure, the itch to write again (which, like all good addictions, never really went away) worked its way into action when I started blogging again.

Which is odd, as one of the reasons I stopped bogging was to concentrate on writing. Huh.

Book review: The Counterfeit Man, by Alan E. Nourse

I've been read a lot of older SF lately. Stuff that I think has been called "golden age" SF - you know, the old, pure stuff before it got diluted by politically correct thinking and 'fuzzy' pseudo-science.

My hat's off to the readers of the golden age, for sticking with this genre until it actually got good.

(It's also possible that I haven't been reading the right stories from previous eras.)


The latest collection is The Counterfeit Man and Other Science Fiction Stories by Alan E. Nourse, who I had never heard of before picking up this book from a stack of possibles. The book contains 11 short stories published between 1952 and 1963 in magazines such as Orbit, Galaxy, and Imaginative Tales.

I had expected SF of that age to be more...bound to the limits of the possible, of scientific expansion. And indeed, four of the stories dealt with inter-planetary travel, while a couple others addressed medical science. But a good third of the stories dealt with psychic powers and other elements that (for me) tended to fall a good deal closer to fantasy than SF. (And here I go with labels again...maybe this has more to do with my expectations of what I thought the stories would be about than it does with the stories themselves.)

The use of scientific language was archaic (miles for distance, which is only to expected, I think, given the time) and limited (vague switches and 'controls', which I find an annoying short-cut that cheats the reader (this reader) of real immersion in the created world.) And at least one of the stories ("The Link") depended on a 'gotcha' at the end which I had to read three times before I figured out what the writer meant.

(Sometimes I have to do this because the writer's that good, and I'm that dense. This wasn't one of those times.)

Having said all that - I enjoyed 'The Canvas Bag' (about a traveling man who tries to settle down) quite a lot, and liked 'Circus' as well (a writer is approached by a man who claims to be from another world.) 'Canvas Bag' is probably going to stay with me for a while. I can't say that I reccommend the book to any one, but it wasn't a waste of time to read.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another day of links

Poking about the internets again - this time adding blogs to 'blogs I follow'. The adding is haphazard at the moment - I expect to go through later and tweek the list.

Some things found while wandering:

An article on honeybee colony collapse and possible fixes.

Oxford English Word of the Day

Spanish Word of the Day

Poetry Daily


I also ran across mention of "Amazonfail" - if you don't know what it is, that's what google's for - Neil Gaiman had a couple good posts on it. Which tied in with some thoughts that have been kicking around for a week or so on time.

Measures of time. As in - from who's perspective?

We are not living in a universe that exists at a rate tied to human perception. Either a faithful perspective or a science-oriented one (and these two states don't exclude each other) will say, there are larger things in motion than you.

It is an amazing thing, this internet, and the information that flows so swiftly along it. It is awesome, how fast our world continues to change.

It would be a mistake, I think, to assume that everything changes so fast. Or needs to.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Links and bits and parts

Today I'm just dinking around the web, trying to remember all the cool things I saw when I was at work, and adding the things people have sent me.

Writing Things

From Micheal J. Totten, an independent Middle East reporter, a plug for A Free Lancer's Guide.

Top Ten Writing Top Ten Lists!

The Talent of the Room - I found this via Winds of Change, which is also where Micheal Totten hangs out, sometimes.

Medical/Science Things

Why Health Care Reform Is Hard - a look at the economics of trying to save lives. Which is a hard discussion that we need to have.

I forget the exact verse, but there is a phrase in Scripture about planning out one's costs and resources before building a tower, so as to not leave it half-finished, and look the fool. Wise choices by leaders and managers have a role in providing for the poor and underserved, as well as the front-line medical providers, nurses, and technicians.

Bed Bug Epidemic This article is from the NYT, but BBC had an article a couple days ago, and I've been seeing mention of links to Craigslist give-aways for some months now. Which is a shame.

It's also an indication that some solutions that look good in controlled environments don't do as well "in the wild". Megan McArdle talks more about this here.

The Value of Hospital Chaplains

Other things

Instapundit has a great many links to Tea Party Protests over the weekend. My people are speaking. I really, really, love democracy. (It helps, when they - my people, my fellow citizens - say things I agree with. But I do love it even when they don't.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

- The Gospel of Mark, 16:1-3


The best thing about digging into my faith, for me, is that every year, every day, there is something new to learn.


Sometimes, you can't do everything. But if you're not on the road, heading to the tomb, why would God roll away the stone?

Self - get on the road.

Keep walking.

If the rock's still there when I get that far, I'll figure it out then.

The Wonders I've Seen...

In a post here, Alexander Field writes about fictional places he'd like to visit.

(Do check his list out - he has v. nice pics to go with his choices.)

Added later in the day - A few thoughts on what makes a world memorable...I really like sense detail, and that's really important. And if I didn't like the characters in the story, I'm not likely to really enjoy the setting. (There are exceptions!) But what I think I want most from a fictional world is a 'sense of wonder' - something that I associate with, say, the TV series Farscape. Among others. End addition

Here's mine - not an exclusive list, and subject to change tomorrow. (About the only restriction I put on the list is that all the places are from books, not movies/tv/ect. Otherwise, we'd be here all day...)

1) A China That Never Was, But Should Have Been: Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart. Fantasy, set in China, full of delightful characters, wild adventures, and thousands of plot twists. In the voice of Number Ten Ox, Hughart's narrator, the landscape and heavens and history of the world come alive, both eternally foretold and ever new.

2) London Below: Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. Urban fantasy, set in London. (TV series, novel, and graphic novel - I prefer the novel.) Not a journey to be made lightly, for travelers don't always come back from that place. But the roads and alleys of London Below are like nothing in London Above - except when they are.

3) The Outskirts: The Outskirter's Secret, by Rosemary Kirsten. SF, medieval setting, other planet. Read The Steerswoman first, because otherwise you'll miss the opportunity to figure out the story. The Outskirts are a wild place, as dangerous in their way as London Below. The wandering Outskirters and their herds travel through a wilderness full of demons and armored swamp monsters, and a landscape as deadly as the creatures that inhabit it.

4) The City of Tai-Tastigon: God Stalk, by P.C. Hogan. Fantasy, medieval setting. Another city, one full of warring guilds and fantastic treasures; trembling rooftops and crumbling stone and secret passages - and temples for every God in the world.

5) Omelas: 'The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas", by Ursula K. Le Guin. SF, utopia/thought-experiment. I'd go here just to see how the utopia works, with its public orgies and happy drugs and beautiful trains and cute ponies and soft misty mornings, with no hard labor or untimely floods or shortages of any sort.

6) The Majat Worlds: Serpent's Reach, by CJ Cherryh. SF, future, otherworld. Specifically, the world of the hive-mind Majat, but only if I could see it through their eyes. One of the various reasons I love CJ Cherryh's writing is her ability to craft worlds and cultures. The Majat - jewel-encrusted and many-bodied - have been described as 'the first sympathetic hive-mind in SF'.

7) Ballybran: Crystal Singer, by Anne McCaffery. SF, future, otherworld. Ballybran is the only source of Crystal, a material used to power starships and link worlds together. I am not musically inclined, but I would like to see this world, where light alone can bring forth music from the stones, and gifted musicians drive themselves to madness in the quest for sound.

8) Mirabile: Mirabile, by Janet Kagan. SF, otherworld, colonization Mirable is a colony world, settled by humans who brought all the species of Earth with them - by encoding the genes for, say, a tyrannosaurus rex into the sequence of a sheep. These wild sports - called Dragon's Teeth - are culled and contained by specialists known as Jasons. It is a hazardous world, but there is *always* some new wonder to behold - so long as you see it coming first!

9) The Smoke Ring Integral Trees, by Larry Niven. SF, future, otherworld. A gas world, encircled by a floating ring of enormous trees, in whose branches whole tribes of humans live and die in continuous free fall.

10) The Jungle of the Free People: The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling. Another world that never was, but perhaps should have been. Oh, to hear the call look well, ye wolves, to see the kites circling overhead, to feel the little bald spot under Bagheera's chin...

...and I'll stop there. This was fun!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

But I tell you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.
- Matthew 5:44


I am a part of a group that meets once a week, for breakfast, a brief scripture reflection, and a request for prayers. We talk about the things we're struggling with at the office and back at home, about loved ones in harm's way and struggling with medical issues. We offer counsel for difficult situations and congradulations on obsticals overcome. We ask God to heal sicknesses, to provide strength, to grant wisdom, to give insight. Often - but not quite often enough, we even ask that God's will be done, and not our own.

Prayer is...not as easy as it sounds.


But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
- Luke 7:27-28


Unless you are a far saintlier person than most I know, there are at least one or three people that you interact with regularly that you loathe. Might be someone at the office, a guy who works out at the same gym at the same time, a gal in your internet circle, someone at the job who's arrogant or incompentent or lies or has the b.o. of a skunk ape.

Someone whose mere presence or every word is like sandpaper on your eyeballs. You might not go so far as to say you hated that person, but if you never saw them again, you'd surely not miss them.

And when you say 'Good morning' to that person, you surely don't want them to have any thing pleasant at all.

I have a person like that - heck, I have a list.

This is, for me, the hardest part of being a Christian.


"A car rigged with explosives detonated Thursday in a market crowded with women and children in northern Baghdad, killing 16 people...Residents said a driver left the yellow Renault parked along a street lined with shops and stalls parked along the curb. They said the man walked away with a limp and five minutes later, one small explosion was heard, then a devastating blast before noon."
--Washington Post


What would it take to pray for that man - to pray that his limp be healed, and that he be able to walk sound, run after a child, kneel and stand to pray with ease?

What would it mean, for a Christian to pray for the salvation of the soul of Aldof Hitler?

Who could pray for Osama bin Ladin to be recieved back into his family, embraced the prodigal son of parable, accepted again, beloved again? Who could ask God that he have grandchildern to hold on his knees, and nephews to ask him for stories? For an old man to have the aches in his bones depart and his hands be strong again?

To beg of God that this one person, whom you loathe, be awarded a promotion at work, win the lottery, be healed of their corns, recieve good news from a loved one?

I can't do this. Not often. Not at all, most days. And every time I try and fail - either fail to form the words, or change into something half-hearted and self-centered - God, just bring him to see that I'm right. God, make it so I don't have to fight with her today. God, just make them leave me alone. - every time I wonder if I'm going to be able to try again.


When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter 23, verse 33-34

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Guardian SF book Meme

A meme, stolen borrowed from Biology in Science Fiction.

Bold indicates books I have read.
* means I've heard of this book
# means I've seen the movie

1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) - I read this within a decade of publishing, and it is still one of those that will turn my mood from 'sour and grumpy' to 'rolling on the floor laughing'.
2. Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)
*3. Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951) - No, I haven't read it.
4. Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
*5. Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale (1985)
6. Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
7. J.G. Ballard: The Drowned World (1962)
8. J.G. Ballard: Crash (1973)
9. J.G. Ballard: Millennium People (2003)
10. Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)
11. Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)
12. Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987)
13. Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)
14. Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995)
*15. Greg Bear: Darwin's Radio (1999)
16. William Beckford: Vathek (1786)
17. Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956)
18. Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 (1953) - I dunno if it's fair to put high school required reading books on the list
19. Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992)
20. Charles Brockden Brown: Wieland (1798)
21. Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960)
*22. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966) I own this, from a SFBC edition way back in the day. Never finished it.
23. Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)
*24. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960)
25. Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)
*26. Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912) A gazillion Tarzan books - yes. Barsoom - no.
27. William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)
28. Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979) - I would not have picked this fairly staid cross-time translocation novel to represent what Butler is capable of.
29. Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)
30. Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957)
31. Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)
32. Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) - parts
33. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) ditto
34. Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)
35. Angela Carter: The Passion of New Eve (1977)
*36. Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
37. Arthur C Clarke: Childhood's End (1953)
38. GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
*39. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004) I own this - and have started the first chapter. Eight months ago.
40. Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)
41. Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
42. Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)
43. Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)
44. Samuel R Delany: The Einstein Intersection (1967)
*45. Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
*46. Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)
47. Thomas M Disch: Camp Concentration (1968)
48. Umberto Eco: Foucault's Pendulum (1988)
49. Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)
50. John Fowles: The Magus (1966)
51. Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001) - On my rec list for, oh, *everyone*.
52. Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)
*53. William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
54. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)
55. William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
56. Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)
57. M John Harrison: Light (2002)
58. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The House of the Seven Gables (1851)
*59. Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
60. Frank Herbert: Dune (1965) - And I quit the series somewhere around 'God-Emperor'
61. Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
62. Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980)
63. James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
64. Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
*65. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
66. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)
67. Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
*68. Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898) But you couldn't get me to read another Henry James novel for all the gold in the world, with love thrown in besides.
69. PD James: The Children of Men (1992) - Not a bad SF novel for a mystery writer who never read much SF. The movie, btw, was awesome.
70. Richard Jefferies: After London; Or, Wild England (1885)
71. Gwyneth Jones: Bold as Love (2001)
72. Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
73. Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1966) - Again with the high school required reading list.
*74. Stephen King: The Shining (1977)
75. Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953)
76. CS Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56) - again on the highly reccommended list
77. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Uncle Silas (1864)
*78. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris (1961) - Didn't see the George Clooney movie, either, which I'm still a bit surprised about
79. Ursula K Le Guin: The Earthsea series (1968-1990) - Actually, I didn't read the 1st and 3rd novels.
80. Ursula K Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) - an old favorite, a great journey novel
81. Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
82. MG Lewis: The Monk (1796)
83. David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
84. Ken MacLeod: The Night Sessions (2008)
85. Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black (2005)
86. Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward (1994)
87. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954) - The Will Smith movie was, in many ways, much better.
88. Charles Maturin: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
89. Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy (1992)
90. Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006) - Brillant prose, lousy science/world building, and in an alternative, hyper-politically-correct world, banned due to sucicide-inducing-tendencies.
91. Jed Mercurio: Ascent (2007)
92. China Miéville: The Scar (2002)
93. Andrew Miller: Ingenious Pain (1997)
94. Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960) - classic, and worth the read, even if you're not into post-apoc novels
95. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)
96. Michael Moorcock: Mother London (1988)
97. William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890)
*98. Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987) - I slogged my way through 'Sula'. Not reading more Morrison.
99. Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995)
100. Vladimir Nabokov: Ada or Ardor (1969)
101. Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler's Wife (2003)
*102. Larry Niven: Ringworld (1970) - I keep getting this one, Farmer's 'Riverworld' novels, and 'The Integral Trees' confused.
103. Jeff Noon: Vurt (1993)
104. Flann O'Brien: The Third Policeman (1967)
105. Ben Okri: The Famished Road (1991)
#106. George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-four (1949)
107. Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
108. Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)
*109. Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946) I own the trilogy. One day I shall use it for something other than propping up other books.
110. Frederik Pohl & CM Kornbluth: The Space Merchants (1953)
111. John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
*112. Terry Pratchett: The Discworld series (1983- ) Everyone wants me to read these
113. Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
*#114. Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials (1995-2000) Very iffy on this one, based on the anti-Catholism mutterings and the movie.
115. François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
116. Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
117. Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000)
118. Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002) - Extremely cool idea, that broke down into exposition at the end.
119. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997) - And I quit reading then.
120. Geoff Ryman: Air (2005)
121. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1988)
122. Joanna Russ: The Female Man (1975)
123. Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943) - I have no clue why this one is on the list, but I loved that book. "It has done me good," the fox said, "because of the color of the wheat fields."
*124. José Saramago: Blindness (1995) - own. In Spanish. Trying to finish the Alf collection first.
125. Will Self: How the Dead Live (2000)
*126. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
*127. Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989)
128. Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (1937)
*129. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992) Own
*130. Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)-don't think working as crew for a small town theater adaption counts as actually reading the book
*131. Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)
132. Rupert Thomson: The Insult (1996)
133. JRR Tolkien: The Hobbit (1937)
134. JRR Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) - yes, both. yes, before the movies came out.
135. Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court (1889) - And if Twain wrote SF, there's dang little 'weird' about it.
136. Kurt Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan (1959)
137. Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto (1764)
138. Robert Walser: Institute Benjamenta (1909)
139. Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)
140. Sarah Waters: Affinity (1999)
*#141. HG Wells: The Time Machine (1895) - Think I started this one, once.
#142. HG Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898) - The Tom Cruise movie was...disapointing.
*143. TH White: The Sword in the Stone (1938)
144. Angus Wilson: The Old Men at the Zoo (1961)
*145. Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (1980-83) Started the first book.
*#146. Virginia Woolf: Orlando (1928)
147. John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids (1951) - but so long ago I couldn't tell you anything about it.
148. John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)
149. Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)

So, out of 149, I've read 27, (and have read something by 37 of 135 authors) and have heard of other 31 novels.

The list is...odd - UK heavy, naturally, given the source, but so many are borderline SSF. Very many of the authors listed are mainstream authors represented by their one venture into spec lit. The part of me that likes things tidy and in the proper boxes is...disquieted.

...and now I want to go buy books. Botheration.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Military SF; Wheat Rust

First the MilSF-

I have a weakness for this sub-genre, so I was very pleased to see this article here in i09. Andrew Liptak gives *a* list of 'the most realistic military SF'.

Liptak does not claim military service, and while that does not prevent him from making a judgment on the realism of the works in question, it does (for me) raise the question of how he makes that determination. If it had been me, in that situation, I would have chosen a different yardstick - although I would have probably fallen back on that old and barely meaningful descriptor 'best'.

In addition, I'm not sure how useful 'realistic' is as a single yardstick for the judgment of fiction. Important? Oh, my, yes - perhaps more so for SFF than for mainstream western lit, because we are dealing with suspension of disbelief, and there is little more than careless errors of fact (or significant misconceptions of reality) to jerk the reader from the invented world of the story. And that goes double for the sort of SSF that is attempting to question reality or teach the reader - it is easiest to convince the reader/viewer of the truth of one thing when the rest of the environment is accepted as true.

And I'm on the side of more realism rather than less - I adore sense-detail in writing, and appreciate depth in world building.

But if realism was all-important, we'd not be talking about dragons and FTL, now would we? Beyond which, there are a whole slew of writing rules which advise on adjustments to reality - "truncate conversation" "real life can get away with things that fiction can't", and so forth. There are other elements of story-telling - pacing, theme, characterization (although realism in characterization can also be significant) which can draw (or lose) the reader.

Which is enough grousing, I think, about the establishment of such a list. On to recommended additions:

To his list, I would add David Drake (Counting the Cost, although any of the Slammers books would count). As others noted in the comments, it really is *odd* to see Drake not represented on that list. CJ Cherryh (Rimrunner and 'Scapegoat'; as well as some fantasy work) has proven herself well in depicting both space wars at both the strategic and the personal level. SM Stirling (Marching through Georgia - but not for the faint at heart), like David Drake, writes gritty, dirt-in-your-teeth war, both in fantasy (Snowbrother) and the earlier-mentioned Draka novels. (Again, not for the faint of heart, or those who demand political correctness from their fiction.) I think that Gordon R. Dickinson absolutely should be mentioned for his Dorsia novels, with Three for Dorsia being a favorite. His fiction tends to be be more of the bloodless sort, which is why I list Three for Dorsia. Finally, for those who would protest that all these are "old" - Tanya Huff's 'Confederation' novels are a must-read - Valor's Choice being an excellent start.

I'd also throw Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor and Barrayar on the stack, although that one is reaching a bit.

Despite my reservations, it's a good list, (nothing that includes Aliens is all bad!) with lots more options in the comments.


Wheat Rust on the Rise - I wouldn't call something that was in Africa, the MidEast, and Asia "isolated".

What is pointed out in this article - and yet was missing from a similar article I saw about a year ago - is the mention of decades-past Nobel-prize winning work on breeding rust-resistant strains of wheat.

Diseases like rust are have been with humanity since we started pulling weeds and bandaging sick sheep instead of just eating them first. It is not a struggle we can expect to win, permanently, ever. And we need every tool in the box - from under-performing 'heirloom' breeds through GM and the judicious use of vaccines, pesticides and antibiotics, on to things we don't have names for because we haven't invented them yet.

...and I'll stop there before I get on a pro-food-and-health-tec rant. The internet should be for things we are happy about, moreso than rants. *g*