Archive for May, 2013

Jack Vance, RIP: 1916 – 2013

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Jack Vance died Sunday, May 26, at the age of 96. Another towering giant of SF gone, and he was one of the best.

A few random images of some of the Jack Vance first editions in my library, just because:

Including an ultra-crappy cellphone pic of The Vance Integral Edition:

Shoegazer Sunday: A Swarm of the Sun’s “Refuge” and “I Fear”

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

If they were from Australia rather than Sweden, I would think that A Swarm of the Sun was A Beautiful Machine reborn, so close is the very heavy shoegaze sound.

A Better Time

Friday, May 24th, 2013

The XKCD comic, that is:

The miniature trebuchet was a nice touch.

“I don’t understand what the sea is doing.”


Avram Davidson Chapbooks

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Since The Wailing of the Gaulish Dead just arrived in the mail, I thought I would do a post on all four of the Avram Davidson chapbooks put out by The Nutmeg Point District Mail/Avram Davidson Society:

  • Davidson, Avram. The Beasts of the Elysian Fields by Conrad Amber. The Nutmeg Point District Mail, 2001. First edition chapbook, Fine. Though there were 70 numbered copies, this one is labeled “review copy.” (There were also evidently 10 presentation hardbacks, which I’ve not seen.)

  • Davidson, Avram. El Vilvoy de las Islas. #7 of 25 numbered copies hand bound in quarter green linen with paper-covered boards, a Fine copy, with errata slip bound in and this copy signed by Don Webb at his introduction. Bought for $35 when they were offered to subscribers of The New York Review of Science Fiction (unless I’m confusing it with Michael Swanwick’s Puck Aleshire’s Abecedary, which was also bound by Henry Wessells and offered through NYRSF).

  • Davidson, Avram. The Last Wizard. The Avram Davidson Society, 1999. First edition chapbook original, #125 of 125 numbered copies, a Fine copy. (There was also a second printing.)

  • Davidson, Avram. The Wailing of the Gaulish Dead The Nutmeg Point District Mail, 2013. Perfect-bound chapbook first edition, one of 200 copies in heavy cardstock with self-wrapper flaps and errata sheet pasted inside, a Fine copy. More Adventures in Unhistory. I’ll have some to sell in the next Lame Excuse Books catalog.

  • Reptoids Among Us

    Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

    I assume you’ve heard about the shape-shifting reptoids that, according to David Icke, rule our world.

    What you may not have heard was that Icke was accused of antisemitism by the Canadian Jewish Congress, who allege that his reptoids are just thinly disguised Jews. Icke, for his part, asserts that no, when he says shape-shifting lizard people from outer space control the world, he means shape-shifting lizard people from outer space.

    So recently I got the bimonthly Angie’s List newsletter. And guess what’s on the cover?

    Now you could say that artist merely draws unusually pointy people, and that it’s just a coincidence that his door-to-door reptoid looks stereotypically Jewish.

    Or you could say that he’s part of the conspiracy

    More Oklahoma City Tornado Footage

    Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

    Current death toll in Oklahoma City Tornado is 51, though I’ve seen estimates of 91 deaths.

    More footage:

    Fast forward footage of the tornado:

    Helicopter footage of the torando and path of destruction, including where it crossed I-35:

    Where it tore through a school:

    Path of destruction through a race track:

    More destruction:

    For one happy note amidst the grim news, here’s a woman finding her dog alive in the wreckage:

    Oklahoma Tornado Raw Footage: Holy Crap!

    Monday, May 20th, 2013

    So far 37 people have been killed in the tornado that ripped through Oklahoma City today.

    Unconfirmed reports had the tornado a mile wide.

    Raw footage:

    Not sure if this is the same one:

    Destruction footage, shot off a TV:

    Shoegazer Sunday: Drifter’s “Summer”

    Sunday, May 19th, 2013

    Drifter is a practitioner of minimalist, almost steady state shoegaze, with one riff repeated over and over again for the entire length of the song. But, by and large, they’re the right riffs.

    And check out their previous Shoegazer Sunday entry “Fade” if you haven’t already.

    Movie Review: General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait

    Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

    General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait
    Directed by Barbet Schroeder

    At this remove, few people remember how big Idi Amin Dada was in the 1970s. He wasn’t just an African dictator, he was the African dictator. Richard Pryor spoofed him on TV (“My name is Idi Amin Dada. That’s 3 A’s, 2 D’s, and one gun.”) He made the cover of Time magazine, back when it actually mattered. Never mind that Uganda is only the ninth most populous nation in Africa, or that Amin was arguably less murderous than (to name but a handful of African dictators) Haile Mengistu of Ethiopia, Francisco Macías Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, and possibly half a dozen others. Amin was well known in the 1970s, while the others remained obscure to all but foreign policy wonks.

    I suspect that Barbet Schroeder’s documentary, General Idi Amin Dada: A Self-Portrait, had a lot to do with that. It’s a fascinating film about a man who was a ruthless dictator, giving access to a film crew in expectation that it would make a fine piece of propaganda, unaware of how nakedly it would reveal the vast gulf between his own self-image and reality. Amin was a man of limited intelligence and limitless ego, who would eventually adopt “”His Excellency President for Life Field Marshal Al Hadji Dr. Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular” as his preferred title.

    I knew that Idi Amin was crazy, but until I watched Schroeder’s documentary, I didn’t realize he was nine different types of crazy.

    The film follows Amin around to several official and unofficial functions: reviewing troops in parade formation and field maneuvers, giving speeches, watching (and occasionally participating) in musical and dance performances, conducting a waterway nature tour, and conducting a cabinet meeting. All more-or-less normal for a modern head of state, except all these scenes play out differently than they would in a First World country. Amin watches paratroopers descend playground slides. He leads a mock assault on the Golan Heights with a force so small and ill-equipped it would have trouble capturing a 7-11. His cabinet meeting is filled with meaningless platitudes (“You should not be weak, like a woman”), and a voiceover tells us that the Minister of State Amin criticized ended up dead in the Nile two weeks later. He sends inexplicable letters to other heads of state (“If you were a woman, I would marry you,” he says to the President of Tanzania). He says he has prophetic dreams, including one telling him the time and place of his own death. He tells us he’s obtained a secret Israeli policy manual: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    And yet, despite all that, and despite knowing what a monster he was, the film also displays a playful, charismatic side to Amin. Like Dwight said while we were viewing it, “he’s like a big kid with the world’s biggest toybox.” He loved firing guns and riding boats and having jets fly overhead. He was a competent accordionist and an enthusiastic dancer.

    It’s amazing that Amin let Schroeder film this. There was an hour version of this broadcast on Ugandan TV, and a 90 minute version released in the west. When Amin’s agents transcribed the longer film, the dictator only asked for about two and a half minutes of cuts. When Schroeder refused, Amin rounded up some 500 French citizens in Uganda, put them in a hotel surrounded by his troops, and gave them telephones and Schroeder’s phone number. The director caved to this censorship by hostage, but restored the footage once Amin was deposed.

    The complete film is available online, but not embeddable.

    It’s a fascinating documentary, but by the time it was over, I was tired of watching Idi Amin.

    Library Addition: Signed Edition of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation’s Edge

    Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

    You may remember that I’m collecting all the Hugo winners in first edition hardback. I finally picked up a limited edition of one of the ones I lacked.

    Asimov, Isaac. Foundations Edge. Whispers Press, 1982. First limited edition (consensus seems to be that the Doubleday trade edition precedes by about a month), #282 of 1,000 signed, numbered copies, a Fine copy in quarter-bound leather over embossed cloth boards, top edge gilded in real gold, sans dust jacket, as issued. Hugo winner and Nebula Finalist. Chalker/Owings, p. 476. Bought off the Internet for $160.

    By no means as good as the first three Foundation books. The trade edition is extremely common, but this signed edition isn’t. I’ll probably pick up the trade edition as well, but I’m waiting for a Fine/Fine copy to come along super-cheap…