I’m about to enter Book Tour Frenzy. Many of you will receive my once-yearly newsletter laying out when and how you can participate during June/July, in person or online. (See below.)
Only first, something more important. At Salon Magazine's request, I wrote this tribute to Ray Bradbury. It was therapy-solace, on the day that my fellow LA High School alumnus graduated from our Earthly plane... leaving this particular world less colorful, less passion-filled today.
Ray was the last living member of a “BACH” quartet — writers who transformed science fiction from a pulp magazine ghetto into a genre for hardcover bestsellers. Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke and Robert Heinlein helped shatter barriers for the rest of us, establishing the legitimacy of literature that explores possible or plausible tomorrows. But it was Bradbury who made clear to everyone that science fiction can be art. An art form combining boldness and broad horizons with sheer, unadulterated beauty.
Well, Ray was plenty loved and appreciated in his own time.
Speaking of Salon, my author's page as a columnist-contributor offers a review of articles that range in topic from transparency and freedom to Tolkien and Star Wars. From how to help Haiti to "Why Johnny can't code." From admiring Ray Bradbury to how the internet may be turning us into "gods." Unlike blog entries, these articles were crafted with meticulous and provocative (and eloquent!) care.
== Book Tour Events ==
In the coming newsletter and at davidbrin.com you’ll find a schedule of both live events and chances to meet/chat with me online. Virtual channels will range from Twitter to Reddit to a vivid new (beta) video chat room. Hope to either see or "see" you soon!
June 14 - 6pm Eastern (3 Pacific, 23h GMT) - a Virtual Book Tour Event with interactive Q&A on Shindig Video Chat (beta). Sign up in advance.
June 20 - 4pm Eastern (1 Pacific, 21h GMT) - a Twitter Forum via #TorChat.
As-yet not scheduled (watch for news) - a REDDIT "ask me anything" or AMA.
These three are very different. For example Reddit and Twitter have unlimited participation... come and go at will... while for Shindig you must sign up in advance for a limited number of video chatroom slots. Still, the interface is really cool and you'll be one of the first to use it. Watch live video presentations and share pictures and music with a room full of people. In contrast, the Reddit AMA is grueling. And I’ll do it soon after giving blood!
My book tour will take me to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, San Diego, and Chicago. Up to date scheduling is found on my site.
=== Also in the Realm of Science Fiction ===
The New Yorker magazine published "The Science Fiction Issue," with stories and essays by Jonathan Lethem, Ray Bradbury, Ursula Le Guin, China Mieville, Junot Diaz, Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan, William Gibson, and others. Has the literary mainstream changed its collective mind about SF and its readers? Judging by its selections, what does The New Yorker think SF is all about?
The (not the) End of the World Cruise is Still on!
Here’s a reminder to think about joining some of us for a luxurious (entertaining, intellectually-stimulating, as well as surprisingly inexpensive) 7-day Not-the-end-of-the-world-cruise -- in the Caribbean with astronaut Steve Hawley, Science Fiction novelists Rob Sawyer and David Brin, plus several esteemed scientists... all of it culminating on the steps of a Mayan Temple on the day the Earth’s supposed to end! Go browse the prospectus and mull over the possibilities. Either join us for fun and good laughs... or else join us to be on ground zero when the feathered serpent god comes down!
Was The Uplift War also good anthropology?
Are human beings natural athletes? In All Men Can't Jump, on Slate, David Stipp contends that our greatest leapers, jumpers, sprinters and so on would seem hilarious to the animals out there whose four-legged gallops nearly always leave us in a cloud of dust. Stipp goes on to make a point that I illustrated with Robert Onmeagle’s race across a continent in The Uplift War, that humans excel at one sport, above all - long distance running. For about a dozen reasons, we are the masters at this art and it may have been crucial in both our survival and evolution.
Still, I must quibble with Stipp’s exaggeration, his claim that long distance running is our only physical species superlative. Wrong. To that you must add anything having to do with precision that a few (not all) humans can achieve. From the delicate movements controlled by finger and thumb, to tonal-sound control more accurate than any bird or whale, to the cosmically difficult task of accurate throwing. Indeed, University of Washington researcher William Calvin, in The Throwing Madonna, shows just how special this last trait is, how difficult, and how it might even have pushed brain development toward capability for language.
Indeed, the maligned American pastime of baseball may be by-far the greatest and best sport by one criterion, when it comes to emulating and training for genuinely useful Neolithic skills! Think about it. The game consists of lots of patient waiting and watching (stalking), throwing with incredible accuracy and speed, sprinting, dodging... and hitting moving objects real hard with clubs! And arguing. Hey, what else could you possibly need? Now, tell me, how do soccer or basketball prepare you to survive in the wild, hm?
=== And an Old Sci Fi Theme - Marching Morons? ===
Are electronic media and devices lobotomizing the new generation? Or empowering all of us to reach ever-higher levels of awareness and effective citizenship? Read an excellent perspective on the pros and cons of the modern, wired lifestyle - The Information: How the Internet gets inside us, by Adam Gopnik. This New Yorker essay dissecting the debate between cyber transcendentalists techno-grouches covers much the same ground as my Salon Magazine feature, Is the Web Helping Us Evolve? comparing the technology pessimists to those who think the Internet is turning us into gods. Only Gopnik then forges into different territory, offering both greater erudition and some well-crafted insights that - honestly - I never contemplated before.
Compare the two. It is a tall wave that we're surfing.
More soon on that book tour!
And so long, Ray. Thanks for all the stories.