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JOURNAL #191

August 15, 2015

                The Saint Simons Island Literary Guild has invited me to participate in a conversation about Mark Twain. He can be a broad topic. Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. His travels through the West. Attitudes about religion and politics. His time travel novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The lecture tours, brilliantly covered by Fred W. Lorch in The Trouble Begins at Eight.  If I had a time travel device, I'd head directly for London on October 13, 1871, and make for the Queen's Concert Hall, where Sam Clemens won over a moderately skeptical audience.  As Lorch puts it, "While it was admitted that the humorous outweighed the serious, it was nevertheless clear the American deeply appreciated the pathos of life which lay at the base of all true humor." In fact, for me it was a lost opportunity. Dave and Shel (in Time Travelers Never Die) could have cornered him after the lecture and given him the idea for Connecticut Yankee.

               In any case, we decided to focus the discussion on Mark Twain's humor. Maybe concentrate on his essays. That seemed like a good idea, and it gives me an excuse to go back and read them again, at least the ones in the Library of America two-volume set. The conversation is scheduled for Tuesday, February 23, 10:30 a.m., at the Saint Simons Island Casino. Room 108. Ten dollars provides entry and a year's membership.

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             On a connected topic, David Bellanger is putting together an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories, to be titled Beyond Watson. The theme, as suggested by the title, is that Watson will not be the narrator. So who takes his place? My first reaction was to think in terms of picking one of the better-known characters from the canon, Irene Adler, maybe. Or Mycroft. But that looks past a golden opportunity. Why not bring in a well-known historical character?

             I have a couple of sets of Lone Ranger radio broadcasts that I listen to when I travel long distances alone (along with Jean Shepherd, Lights Out, and Jack Benny). The Lone Ranger episodes that stand out are the ones in which historical characters appear. The Masked Man meets Teddy Roosevelt. Or Billy the Kid. Other visitors include Buffalo Bill, Kit Carson, Annie Oakley, and George Custer. So, maybe Holmes should provide an assist to a young Winston Churchill, who then records the story. Or to Archduke Franz Ferdinand. I was thinking about my choices when the Literary Guild contacted me about Mark Twain.

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             One of the advantages of writing science fiction is that publishers frequently send ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) of forthcoming books, for which they would like to see a blurb. The downside is that most of us tend to get more than we can do justice to. To be honest, I rarely buy an SF novel. No need to. Anyhow, a new Mike Resnick book, The Prison in Antares showed up two weeks ago.

             It's sequel to Fortress in Orion, which I'd enjoyed last year. The books feature Nathan Pretorius and a group of characters with mixed capabilities, referred to as the Dead-Enders. Think of an interstellar Impossible Missions force. I didn't go near it for a while because I've been tied up on projects, and the first book was hard to put down. The same is true of Nathan's second outing.

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        Maureen and I will be at Dragoncon over the Labor Day weekend. My schedule, with other panelists:

       Fri., 11:30 a.m.   Science Fiction Rises From the Ashes,  Embassy D-F (Hyatt) Stephen Antczak, Timothy Zahn, Jack Campbell, Alexandra Duncan

       Fri., 10:00 p.m.    Eugie Foster Memorial Nebula Discussion, Embassy A-B (Hyatt)  Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Claire M. Eddy

       Sat, 4:00 p.m.     Magnificent Men of SF/F Fiction,  Regency VI-VII (Hyatt) A.J. Hartley, Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher, John D. Ringo, Nancy Knight

       Sun, 10:00 a.m.  Autograph session,  International Hall South (Mariott) David Mack, Jamie Pearce

      Sun, 2:30 p.m.    Reading   Marietta (Hyatt)