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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Prehistory of the Future: Venus Prime

John Colby’s Brick Tower Press offers the Venus Prime series among many other titles from the Byron Preiss estate. John also recently reissued Core in a revised ebook edition, with a new trade paperback on the way, which I talked about in the previous post – although I didn’t realize the Brick Tower Venus Primes […]




Saturday, February 01, 2014

Book Reviews: A New Century, a New Light

After Byron Preiss died in a traffic accident in 2005, hundreds of works he’d packaged for others or published under his own imprints, including iBooks, went on auction. John T. Colby, Jr., the founder and publisher of Brick Tower Press, acquired the assets in 2006, including several stories and novels I’d written for Byron, a […]




Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Patrick Leigh Fermor: A Home in Greece

Over Thanksgiving Debra and I spent some time with Sid Mintz, whom I began to know while taking his first-year anthropology class at Yale, and his wife, Jackie. Both later moved to Baltimore when he co-founded the anthropology department at Johns Hopkins University. Catching up, I asked Sid if he was familiar with Patrick Leigh […]




Thursday, November 21, 2013

Patrick Leigh Fermor: His Charm Conquered (Almost) All

Patrick Leigh Fermor was raised virtually an orphan, his parents divorced, his father away in India, his mother often neglectful. He managed to get himself expelled from every English boarding school that took him in. Eighteen years old and at loose ends, instead of joining the army he decided to walk to Constantinople (he would […]




Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Patrick Leigh Fermor: A Time of Confusion

On first reading John Fowles’s The Magus, a novel set in the fifties, an odd locution snagged my attention. Early in the story Nicholas Urfe is talking to a man who previously held the teaching post in Greece that Urfe is about to take up. “He had been parachuted into Greece during the German occupation, […]




Friday, October 25, 2013

Wormholes vs. Wormholes

Did I mention that wormholes are prime examples of why science fiction writers, along with all other fiction writers, have to lie to tell a good story? A day after posting that claim, I caught an article on the National Association of Science Writers website by Dennis Meredith, introducing his novel Wormholes. His first words […]




Friday, October 11, 2013

Big Blunders: When the Multiverse is Not the Answer

Astrophysicist Mario Livio has a gift for clear prose and something more: the ability to turn up – or track down – the odd fact, the misunderstanding, the story behind the story everybody thinks they know, the stuff that makes science come alive. The discussion of infamous scientific goofs in Livio’s recent book, Brilliant Blunders, […]




Saturday, October 05, 2013

Fictional Worlds: True, but Possible?

In an essay titled “Truth in Fiction,” philosopher David Lewis argued that worlds created by fiction writers, worlds where “the fiction is told, but as known fact rather than fiction,” are not only possible but real. “When I profess realism about possible worlds, I mean to be taken literally,” Lewis wrote elsewhere about his possible-worlds […]




Friday, September 27, 2013

Fiction, Science, Truth

In my last post I mentioned the apparent absurdity of a story that depends on drilling through Earth’s mantle with a rig that makes hole – when it’s actually working – at sixty miles an hour. Reality check: the Kola Superdeep Borehole, the deepest hole yet, began drilling in 1970 and stopped nineteen years later […]




Friday, September 20, 2013

Core and The Core: Why Not Brazzletonite?

In 1947, while teaching a graduate course in physics at the University of Chicago, Enrico Fermi famously posed the question, “What is the deepest hole that may be dug into the Earth?” Since it was an experiment that had never been done, he didn’t have the answer, but it sure got the students thinking. The […]