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Month: August 2003

Chipping foundations

Juan Cole is a professor of Middle East history at UMichigan, and thus has a little more grounds on which to base his speculations than the rest of us blogger. He has a kickass post on the Imam Ali mosque bombing, which discusses the targets and the probable bombers.

Juan Cole thinks it was Ba’athists, and he has some reasonable-sounding reasons. But whether it was Ba’athists or Al Qaeda or some other group, it is clear that the bombing was a strike against US interests — again, read Professor Cole’s post for a detailed explanation of why.

Hugo says

The Hugo Awards ceremony was last night, and Locus provides us with the winners. I’m surprised by the Best Novel; I enjoyed Hominids, but it was a very strong year for this category and I would have given The Scar the nod.


Bones of the Earth, Michael Swanwick
Hominids, Robert J. Sawyer
Kiln People, David Brin
The Scar, China Miéville
The Years of Rice and Salt, Kim Stanley Robinson


“Breathmoss”, Ian R. MacLeod
“Bronte’s Egg”, Richard Chwedyk
Coraline, Neil Gaiman
“In Spirit”, Pat Forde
“The Political Officer”, Charles Coleman Finlay
A Year in the Linear City, Paul Di Filippo


“Halo”, Charles Stross
“Madonna of the Maquiladora”, Gregory Frost
“Presence”, Maureen F. McHugh
“Slow Life”, Michael Swanwick
“The Wild Girls”, Ursula K. Le Guin

Short Story

“Creation”, Jeffrey Ford
“Falling Onto Mars”, Geoffrey A. Landis
“‘Hello,’ Said the Stick”, Michael Swanwick
“Lambing Season”, Molly Gloss
“The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport”, Michael Swanwick

Related Book

The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction, Justine Larbalestier
Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril, Judith Merril & Emily Pohl-Weary
Bradbury: An Illustrated Life, Jerry Weist
Dragonhenge, Bob Eggleton & John Grant
Spectrum 9: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds.

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Angel, “Waiting in the Wings”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Conversations With Dead People”
Firefly, “Serenity”
Star Trek: Enterprise, “Carbon Creek”
Star Trek: Enterprise, “A Night in Sickbay”

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Minority Report
Spirited Away

Professional Editor

Ellen Datlow
Gardner Dozois
David G. Hartwell
Stanley Schmidt
Gordon Van Gelder

Professional Artist

Jim Burns
David A. Cherry
Bob Eggleton
Frank Kelly Freas
Donato Giancola


Ansible, Dave Langford, ed.
Interzone, David Pringle, ed.
Locus, Charles N. Brown, Jennifer A. Hall & Kirsten Gong-Wong, eds.
The New York Review of Science Fiction, Kathryn Cramer, David G. Hartwell & Kevin Maroney, eds.
Speculations, Kent Brewster, ed.


Challenger, Guy H. Lillian III
Emerald City, Cheryl Morgan
File 770, Mike Glyer
Mimosa, Rich & Nicki Lynch
Plokta, Alison Scott, Steve Davies & Mike Scott

Fan Writer

Bob Devney
John L. Flynn
Mike Glyer
Dave Langford
Steven H Silver

Fan Artist

Brad Foster
Teddy Harvia
Sue Mason
Steve Stiles
Frank Wu

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Charles Coleman Finlay
David D. Levine
Karin Lowachee
Wen Spencer
Ken Wharton

Lines and sand

I suspect the conflict between France and Libya qualifies as irony. Libya’s agreed to pay compensation to the families of those killed in the Lockerbie bombings, but France is threatening to veto the Security Council resolution lifting UN sanctions against Libya.

If anyone was under the impression that France acts on purely noble motives, we can perhaps lay that to rest. France is holding out for more money. On the other hand, one’s forced to wonder why the tactics used with Libya are so unacceptable when it comes to Iraq.

Libya has chemical weapons, and pursued nuclear weapons in the past — and maybe even in the present. On the other hand, Qaddafi has apparently stopped supporting terrorism, so perhaps that’s the difference.

In which case, what does that say about the success of UN sanctions?

Talk is pricy

In a small and no doubt transient victory for civil rights, Judge Brinkema granted Moussaoui access to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s testimony. Moussaoui is on trial for his role in the 9/11 terrorist attack, and he claims Mohammed can testify that he wasn’t involved.

The government is expected to appeal on the grounds that, says CNN, “no court can order the executive branch to produce an enemy combatant detained on foreign soil and that doing so would disrupt the war on terrorism.”

The point they’re still missing is this: the justice system is not designed to make it easier to prosecute the war on terrorism. It’s designed to give people fair trials, and sometimes it even succeeds. We do not make our judicial decisions based on whether or not the choice would make the prosecution’s life easier.

And it is completely unacceptable to create a method by which the executive branch can hold anyone they like without oversight or recourse.

Three worlds over

(Boston, MA) August 28th, 2003 — Innocence Games announced today that it has acquired the license to publish tabletop roleplaying games based on the classic pulp works of William S. Burroughs. The license encompasses both the Warlord of Mars series and the popular Naked Jungle series, starring Tarzan. Innocence Games will release their first Burroughs game in Q4 2004: Tarzan, Lord of the Interzone, based on the first of the Naked Jungle books. Later supplements will incorporate Burroughs’ complex Mars mythology into the world of the Interzone and its street-raised King.

The new games will use the critically acclaimed Transpulp gaming system, the smoothest pulp gaming system on the market. They will be compatible with other Innocence Games releases, including Doc Gold and The Savage Silver Planet.

Projected features of Lord of the Interzone include:

  • Complete transubstantiation mechanics for both Christian and pagan gods
  • Rules for backalley deals and broken promises
  • The flexible Transpulp skill system, which scales to any skill level necessary
  • Detailed maps of the Interzone as it existed in 1914
  • Enemies, allies, and lovers, from proto-fascist Germans to exotic Martian beauties
  • A complete bibliography for the Naked Jungle series, including the pastiche novels by Philip Marlow

Innocence Games is very proud to be the official publishers for roleplaying games based on these classic works of pulp fiction. William S. Burroughs is the first name in pulp fiction, and without his seminal novels the field as we know it would not exist. For the first time, readers can discover the world that inspired Gygax’s Mysteries and Mugwumps in its purest form. Come. Visit the Interzone. It’s just across the hall.

– 30 –

[Text is lies. Words are fiction. Truth is dead.]

Woke up this morning

This morning, Warren Ellis said:

It’s Wednesday. I want to see the world, please.

Send me a photo from your futurephone or webcam. Send it to, which is an email address I have created for the purpose (dadatag = easy to key in on a phone). I will show what I receive here. (This will even work for Sprint PCS phones.)

Show me something.

And people are. Start here, and work forwards. Pictures of the world. Sparse prose, tying it together.

Remember A Day In The Life…? Like that, but raw and real time.

More bitchun

Cory Doctorow’s written a short story, "Truncat", set in the same world as Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It’s on Salon so you’ll need to wander through their day pass thing. But hey, it’s a good day for it. You get Kaufman agreeing with me on Pedro, a nifty article on Bollywood, and some Al Franken miscellanea.

Where was I? Ah, yeah; it’s not a bad story. It’s more transfictionalist stuff, which is all good, but there’s still a tendency to neglect the characters in service of the cool technological concept. Campbell would love Doctorow, which is not a bad thing. Worth reading.

Happy birfday

985 posts, 265,000 page views, 100,000 visits, and 5 gigabytes of data transferred. Not exactly ground-breaking, but certainly more than I expected when I got this puppy underway. Happy first birthday to Population: One!

Thanks to everyone who links and especially to everyone who reads. I write all this for myself, but I won’t pretend it’s not ego-gratifying to have readers.

Party hats are available at the door.

Etheric projection

[The following is a note to myself. Really.]

The telegram says this:

Telluric ectoplasm projector discovered STOP Located in San Francisco STOP Controls still mysterious STOP Daring agents needed STOP Come at once STOP

The Zatarin Agency is located in the basement of a townhouse in San Francisco’s Noe Valley. Above it is the Zatarin Floral Service, and above that is Paul Zatarin’s residence. Mr. Zatarin is a moral man and a first generation immigrant who is immensely proud of his adopted country. As such, when he discovered the telluric ectoplasm projector in the basement, he immediately wired Max Mercer for advice.

Mercer visited San Francisco in person, with Dr. Primoris at his side. Unusually, the pair was unable to make much headway on the device: they were able to turn it on and test its functioning, but control was completely beyond them and the underlying principles remained somewhat of a mystery. Still, it was fairly clear what the thing did.

In short, the telluric ectoplasm projector creates exact replicas of its users and sends them where they are most needed. The window of operation is fairly narrow; a group of people can all arrange to arrive at the same place, but they can’t control where they go and if someone else comes along fifteen minutes later it’s more than likely that they’ll wind up in another location altogether.

Mercer and Zatarin talked over the possibilities, long into the night. Once Mercer was assured that Zatarin had the best interests of the world at heart, he made his recommendation. Simply put, he proposed that Zatarin recruit daring men and women who would be willing to use the telluric ectoplasm projector to fight evil and crime wherever it might take them. And Mercer, as it happened, knew a few likely candidates…

Which brings us back to the telegram. You just got it. There’s a request for assistance therein.

Off to California — and from a basement in San Francisco, the world awaits!