Letters to the SF Site
With an ever-growing readership at the SFSite, there has come an ever-increasing chorus of readers asking to be heard; to voice their opinions, to find help in looking for that lost book title, and to keep us informed.
This is what came over the wires to us at the SFSite over the last two weeks. If you have anything to add to the discussion yourself, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd like to hear it.
The letter writers below are all looking for more information on stories they read but can't find, or haven't read and are looking forward to.
From: Simon Abbott
I'm looking for a short story by John Steinbeck called "The Short, Short History of Mankind". It was apparently published in a "SF '59".
I surfed some of the academic sites on Steinbeck with little success, but you might want to try the John Steinbeck Bibliography by Adrian H. Goldstone and John R. Payne (Austin, TX: The University of Texas At Austin, 1974) According to the people running a John Steinbeck Bibliography site , this book is the standard reference for works by and about John Steinbeck--including almost (but not quite) everything. It's rather pricey (around $300 US), so you might want to check your local research library, or maybe surf a few of the other Steinbeck bibliography sites at the above URL. Good luck!
More Help Needed
From: John Hartmire
I am looking for a science fiction short story anthology that was probably published 25-30 years ago. I thought it was Harlan Elison's Dangerous Visions, but when I finally got my hands on a copy it was not there.
As best I can recall, the story involves an adolescent living in a society where an individual's profession/career path is determined at a very young age though assessments of some sort. Our hero, however, resists the societal determination. In the end, it turns out that the "prison" or hospital he thinks he has been senteced to is actually a think tank for the greatrest minds of the society, of which he is one. Have any idea of what I am talking about? I will keep searching, but for some reason I think it appeared in a volume with a story called "These Roads Must Roll."
This story sounds an awful lot like "Unaccompanied Sonata" by Orson Scott Card, but I don't have the publication information about it with me. Does anyone out there have a better suggestion?
Watch for Low-flying Moon
From: Charles Pevsner
I am trying to find a SF story, probably from the 40s or 50s, that involved a planet with a basketball-sized moon that orbited just a few feet off the ground. A scene I vaguely recall had a village where the people had to crawl across the main road in case the moon came shooting by.
If this rings a bell, I'd appreciate knowing what it is and where to find it.
We have no clue what story this is, but would love to find out.
New Eve Forward Novel
From: Marc Waldman
Eve Forward has a new book coming out by Tor titled Animist. Her first book, Villains by Nec was a wonderful book, and I have been eagerly awaiting her next book. Anyway I have been looking for information of what this book is about. I wrote to Tor and they did not respond. Do you have any idea(or do any of your sources) have any idea of what this book is going to be about?
Thanks for your email. It is the start of a trilogy following the adventures of Alex, a recent grad of the College of Animism, who starts out on a quest for the animal with which he will bond for life through a world filled with magic and adventure, sentient non-humans and exotic kingdoms. It'll be out in June.
Another Man's Poison
SF Site reviewer Rick Norwood defends his opinion from last issue of Mission to Mars against two comers.
From: John Kissinger
De Palma may have gotten the science right in Mission to Mars, but I suspect that's the work of a consultant rather than of a writer. And while he may not have rubbed our noses in the science, his character's dialogue certainly rubbed our faces in the voice-over explanations of the aliens' visual message - when it comes out on video, try watching it with the volume turned down during the last twenty minutes. In fact, the entire film should probably be watched muted, because it has the worst musical score I've heard in a long time, I can't think of one scene that had an appropriate music background. Wait for it on video - you won't be disappointed as much, then.
DePalma may have used an advisor to get the science right, but at least he cared enough to try. I didn't notice the music one way or the other. I'll listen for it if I see it again.
But Did You Like the Movie?
From: Mervius (John Murray)
Hi, Mr. Norwood,
With all due respect, ARE YOU HIGH?!!! This movie is scientifically pathetic. Our astronauts take leaps of faith left and right. Pretty lame representation of scientists.
That candy DNA wouldn't work. Think about it. Each piece of candy would need to be moving in a circular path, i.e. contrary to laws of physics as we know 'em.
And the movie resorts to that lame-o convention of "sound in a vacuum" (i.e. the rumble/hum of spaceships coasting past the camera), because our audience is too stupid to get it otherwise.
This movie is horrible!
Mervius (aka John Murray)
Rick replies again:
Notice I said Mission to Mars tried to get the science right, not that it succeeded. Your point about the M&M's and the "rumbling" space ships are both well taken. I noticed the first blunder myself. I am sorry to report that the rumbling space ship convention is now so expected that I didn't even notice it. By your standards, there are only three scientifically accurate SF films in the history of cinema, 2001, 2010, and Contact. I'm willing to cut a little slack for a film that recognizes the speed of light, zero-g in space, and the alien landscape of another planet. Even Star Trek, which I love, has Earth gravity and atmosphere on almost every planet (and moon!) they encounter. And the Enterprise goes "Whoosh!" And most SF films are much, much worse.
From: Noel V.
IS John Sladek dead? I heard from this website that he is. Could you possibly verify this?
According to our sources, he is. A tragic loss for SF.
No Third Hiero Book
From: Kerry J.
I have just read the two books by Sterling E. Lanier called Hiero's Journey and The Unforsaken Hiero. They were both great. Do you know when the third book will be written or how I can contact the author?
To our knowledge, he hasn't written another. Sources tell us he's pretty much given up writing fiction. We suspect he hasn't changed his mind since another Hiero book would be trumpeted around the SF world.
I'd like to thank Rick Norwood for responding to our readers' letters about his review of Mission to Mars with such good spirit, as well as our readers for contributing to a lively dialogue. I'm looking forward to posting more such exchanges.
Speaking of which, I got some lively letters about the role of editors in SF, which I will be posting next issue. It'll be worth looking in on.
Until next time,
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please send them to email@example.com.
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