Showing posts from June, 2008


I'm moving back to New Hampshire at the end of this week, and so I'm going to put things on hold here at The Mumpsimus for a little bit. I'll have a lot more time for reading and writing once I'm settled, though, and so I expect that things will be livelier around here soon enough.

Best American Fantasy 2008: The Contents

We have now finally settled on the contents for Best American Fantasy 2008 (to be released this fall) and tracked down all the permissions, which means I can now announce the stories that will be included: "Bufo Rex" by Erik Amundsen ( Weird Tales ) "The Ruby Incomparable" by Kage Baker ( Wizards ) "The Last and Only" by Peter S. Beagle ( Eclipse 1 ) "Mario's Three Lives" by Matt Bell ( Barrelhouse ) "Interval" by Aimee Bender ( Conjunctions ) "Minus, His Heart" by Jedediah Berry ( Chicago Review ) "Abroad" by Judy Budnitz ( Tin House ) "Chainsaw on Hand" by Deborah Coates ( Asimov's ) "The Drowned Life" by Jeffrey Ford ( Eclipse 1 ) "The Naming of the Islands" by David Hollander ( McSweeney's ) "Light" by Kelly Link ( Tin House ) "The Revisionist" by Miranda Mellis ( Harper's ) "In the Middle of the Woods" by Christian Moody ( Cincinnati Re

Biological Determinism, Essentialism, and You

Cheryl noted that some new studies are best read in conjunction with Ekaterina Sedia's recent analysis of some older, similar studies . Now a post by Mark Liberman at Language Log takes a look at not only the stats in the new studies, but the way those studies have been reported: If we do the same calculations for the means and standard deviations reported for the other categories, we get predictions that might have been presented as follows: Rightward hemispheric asymmetry was found in the brains of 14 of 25 heterosexual males and 11 of 20 homosexual females, but in only 13 of 25 heterosexual females and 10 of 20 homosexual males. How much media play do you think the study would have gotten, if the results had been spun like that? Or to put it another way, how many readers of the media descriptions do you think understood the story in those terms? I've just begun reading Deceptive Distinctions: Sex, Gender, and the Social Order by Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, which is a similar

Stoner by John Williams

It's all Mr. Waggish's fault. Since the marvelous book publishing arm of the NY Review of Books reprinted John Williams's little-known novel Stoner , I've noticed mentions of the book here and there, and I had even picked it up a couple of times in bookstores. There was something mysteriously attractive about the cover (part of a Thomas Eakins painting ). But I always hesitated because the novel was praised for its realism, and because the central character is an unexceptional professor at the University of Missouri in the first half of the 20th century. (No, the book is not the sort that has a sequel called Pothead . It was published in 1965 and the central character's name is William Stoner.) The people praising the book, I figured, were probably the sorts of people who truly like books about unexceptional professors at midwestern universities. I am not that sort of person. But then Waggish wrote about it . Mr. Waggish has extraordinarily good taste, i

Mind Meld!

I love SF Signal's "Mind Melds", where a bunch of people riff on a question. I'm part of the new one, where the question is: Which new or little-known genre writers will be tomorrow's big stars? Why? I was clearly in a goofy mood when I wrote my answer, but every name mentioned was done so in seriousness.


Things fell into neglect here. Various reasons for that, most having to do with busy-ness, though the silence of the last few days has been caused as much by heat as anything else -- my study here is not air conditioned, and we're having a heat wave , which has made the keys to my laptop actually hot to the touch, so I've been keeping away from the computer. Things are a little bit cooler tonight, though, and so here are a few stray bits of something or other... First, don't miss the Strange Horizons fund drive . Lots of fun prizes available, and your money supports a worthy cause -- a weekly online magazine that actually pays its writers (though not the staff) and is officially a nonprofit organization. (Don't punish them for publishing me; everybody has their faults.) Some Strange Horizons readers may remember the Speculative Poetry Symposium I put together a few years back. One of the members of that symposium, Theodora Goss , has just published an interesting

The Sound and the Fury (April 7th, 1928)

I was surprised that some people left at intermission. After all, it was the final performance of Elevator Repair Service's production of The Sound and the Fury (April 7th, 1928) at New York Theatre Workshop , it was an extended run, and if you'd been exposed to any of the reviews or publicity, you would know that the script of this play was the actual, pretty much complete text of the first section of William Faulkner's novel , with the various characters recited or portrayed by multiple actors. If you want South Pacific , that's playing uptown. Nonetheless, there was audience attrition. I sometimes forget that bewildering joys and joyful bewilderments are an esoteric taste. But I am deeply grateful to the ever-intrepid Liz G. for having the foresight to get tickets, and the great generosity to offer me one. (I should note here that NYTW has a great program called CheapTix Sundays, where tickets can be bought in advance for only $20. When the average Off-Broadwa

Bacigalupi in Quarterly Conversation

The summer issue of The Quarterly Conversation is now online, and in addition to all sorts of interesting things, it includes a lengthy review I wrote of Paolo Bacigalupi's Pump Six . It began as a simple, straightforward review, but 3,000 words later it turned into something a bit more than that... Paolo Bacigalupi's stories echo and build upon the work of writers who came before him, and in some ways they feel like an extension of the better ecological science fiction of the 1970s; the imagined ecocatastrophes of that era lost some of their power through reiteration, and growing interest in genetic engineering and nanotechnology led to many stories of technological triumph over the nonhuman world (and nonhuman worlds). In Bacigalupi's futures, whatever solution technology offers creates its own problems, and technological innovation is often a tool of the rich to shore up their defenses against the huddled masses yearning to breathe. Readers unfamiliar with Paolo's