Blog #35

Short fiction has always seemed to be the natural narrative form for SF. Ask most readers for their all-time science fiction favorites and they will usually respond with stories like Arthur Clarke’s “The Star,” Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains,” Harlan Ellison’s “’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” Robert Heinlein’s “Requiem,” and others with similar punch. Novels occasionally make the cut, but they are inevitably selected far less often than the stories. This may be more a comment on my age and that of the people with whom I’m most often in communication. Or it may be that science fictional subject matter simply fits the short form more effectively. When a story ends with

Blog #34

The Milky Way has, at last count, about two hundred billion stars. Billions of them are G-type main sequence, the same as our sun. Which means they are stable, with long lives. Estimates about terrestrial worlds suggest they too are in substantial numbers. So there should be a lot of other intelligent beings. Which brings us to the Fermi Paradox. Enrico Fermi was an Italian-born physicist. He won the Nobel Prize in 1938 for his work with neutrons and radioactivity. He was one of the leaders of the team that put together the atomic bomb in 1944. So, he famously asked, if we are surrounded by billions of places that seem reasonable sites to produce intelligent life, where is everybody? We’ve b

Blog #33

I was an avid science fiction reader from my earliest days with Astounding Science Fiction, Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder. While I was stationed in Japan, I picked up a copy of Famous Science Fiction Stories, edited by Raymond Healy and J. Francis McComas. I loved it. The book is on a shelf watching me at the moment. At no time during those years did I have any idea there was such a thing as a science fiction convention. In 1962, I left the Navy and was adrift trying to decide what I was going to do with my life. I took a job as a cab driver in Philadelphia and on a brisk November afternoon dropped a few people off at the Sheraton Hotel for a thing they referred to as Philcon. One o