Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gardner Dozois' List of Essential SF (pre-1980)

Thanks to James Nichol on LiveJournal for pointing to this:

Dozois lists the essential novels and short story collections for someone interested in pre-1980 SF. Like any such list, it has its problems in detail (a couple - Okla Hannali, for one - aren't actually SF), but, overall it's not a bad list of the SF I grew up with. Here's GD's list of novels - books I've actually read are italicized.

Brian W. Aldiss :
The Long Afternoon of Earth

The Malacia Tapestry

Poul Anderson:
The Night Face
Tau Zero
The High Crusade
Brain Wave
Three Hearts and Three Lions

Isaac Asimov :
The Caves of Steel
The Naked Sun

Gregory Benford :

Alfred Bester:
The Stars My Destination
The Demolished Man

Michael Bishop:
A Little Knowledge
Stolen Faces

James Blish :
A Case of Conscience
Cities in Flight

Leigh Brackett:
The Long Tomorrow

Ray Bradbury:
Something Wicked This Way Comes

John Brunner:
The Shockwave Rider
Stand on Zanzibar
Squares of the City

Algis Budrys:
Rogue Moon

Arthur C. Clarke:
Childhood's End
The City and the Stars
A Fall of Moondust
The Deep Range
The Sands of Mars

Hal Clement:
Mission of Gravity
Cycle of Fire

D.G. Compton :
The Unsleeping Eye

Jack Dann:
The Man Who Melted

Avram Davidson:
Masters of the Maze
The Phoenix and the Mirror
Rogue Dragon
Clash of Star Kings

The Enemy of My Enemy

L. Sprague de Camp:
Lest Darkness Fall
The Glory That Was
Rogue Queen

The Hand of Zei
The Tower of Zanid

L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt:
The Complete Enchanter
Land of Unreason

Samuel R. Delany:
The Einstein Intersection

The Fall of the Towers

Lester del Rey:

Philip K. Dick:
The Man in the High Castle
Martian Time-Slip
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Time Out of Joint
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Gordon R. Dickson:
Soldier, Ask Not

Thomas M. Disch :
Camp Concentration

G.C. Edmondson:
Blue Face (a.k.a. Chapeyeca)
The Ship That Sailed the Time Stream

George Alec Effinger:
When Gravity Fails
What Entropy Means to Me

Philip Jose Farmer:
The Lovers
Night of Light
The Fabulous Riverboat

James Gunn :
The Listeners

Joe Haldeman:
The Forever War

Charles L. Harness:
The Rose

Harry Harrison:
Make Room! Make Room!
The Deathworld Trilogy
Bill, the Galactic Hero

Robert A. Heinlein:
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
Double Star
Starman Jones
Red Planet
Between Planets
Citizen of the Galaxy
Farmer in the Sky

Frank Herbert:
Under Pressure
(a.k.a. The Dragon in the Sea)
The Green Brain

Daniel Keyes:
Flowers for Algernon

Damon Knight:
The Man in the Tree
The Other Foot

C.M. Kornbluth:
The Syndic
Not This August

R.A. Lafferty:
The Reefs of Earth
The Devil Is Dead
Okla Hannali

The Fall of Rome
Past Master

Keith Laumer:
A Trace of Memory
A Plague of Demons

Ursula K. Le Guin:
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Dispossessed
Planet of Exile
City of Illusions
The Wizard of Earthsea
The Lathe of Heaven

Fritz Leiber:
The Big Time
Our Lady of Darkness
The Wanderer
Conjure Wife

George R.R. Martin:
The Dying of the Light
Fevre Dream

Walter M. Miller, Jr.:
A Canticle for Leibowitz

Ward Moore :
Bring the Jubilee

Ward Moore and Avram Davidson:

Larry Niven:
World of Ptavvs
A Gift From Earth

André Norton:
The Time Traders
The Beast Master
Galactic Derelict

Edgar Pangborn:
A Mirror for Observers
West of the Sun

Alexei Panshin:
Rite of Passage

H. Beam Piper:
Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen
Little Fuzzy
Fuzzy Sapiens

Frederik Pohl:
Man Plus
A Plague of Pythons

Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth:
The Space Merchants

Keith Roberts:
The Chalk Giants

Joanna Russ:
Picnic on Paradise
And Chaos Died
The Female Man
The Two of Them

Eric Frank Russell:

Fred Saberhagen:

Pamela Sargent:
Cloned Lives

James H. Schmitz:
Agent of Vega
The Witches of Karres

Robert Sheckley:
The Status Civilization

Robert Silverberg :
Dying Inside
Downward to the Earth
The Book of Skulls

Tower of Glass

Clifford D. Simak:
Way Station
Time and Again

Cordwainer Smith:

Norman Spinrad:
Bug Jack Barron

Theodore Sturgeon:
More Than Human
Some of Your Blood
The Synthetic Man
(aka The Dreaming Jewels)
Venus Plus X

William Tenn:
Of Men and Monsters

James Tiptree, Jr.:
Up the Walls of the World

Wilson Tucker:
The Long Loud Silence

Jack Vance:
The Star Kings
The Killing Machine
The Blue World
The Anome
Big Planet
The Dragon Masters
The Last Castle
The Dying Earth

The Eyes of the Overworld
The Languages of Pao
Trullion Alastor 2262

A.E. Van Vogt:
The War Against the Rull
The Weapon Shops of Isher

The Players of Null-A

John Varley:
Ophiuchi Hotline

Kate Wilhelm :
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
Margaret And I

Let the Fire Fall
The Clewiston Test
City of Cain

Jack Williamson:
The Humanoids

Gene Wolfe:
The Book of the New Sun
(several volumes)
The Fifth Head of Cerberus
The Devil in a Forest

Roger Zelazny:
Lord of Light
This Immortal
The Dream Master
Isle of the Dead
Doorways in the Sand

(that's 166 of 'em; about 31 unread (but those 31 titles include a trilogy and a quartet)

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"There's more to life than books, you know..."

I was participant in a conversation over on LibraryThing that touched on the question of, well, how many books is enough? How many books do you think you're ever going to get around to reading?

The conversation moved on before I could recall enough of the following anecdote to cite it (or even find it: but, yay Google) - but at the time I was vaguely reminded of a factoid that I eventually tracked down to Diana Trilling's obit in the New York Times, October 25, 1996 (this is snipped and re-arranged - and I should learn how to do 'block-quote'):

"I graduated from Radcliffe without having read a line of Homer or Dante or Chaucer, without knowing anything of Shakespeare," she said.

Diana Trilling's career as a critic began in 1941, at the age of 36, when she overheard a telephone conversation between her husband and Margaret Marshall, the literary editor of The Nation, who had called to ask if he could recommend someone to write the magazine's literary notes column. When her husband hung up, Mrs. Trilling looked at him and offered herself for the position.

She began writing in 1941 and never stopped.

At one point, as a critic for The Nation, Mrs. Trilling read a novel a day for six and a half years, delivering challenging reviews on some of the most important works of the modern era: Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited," Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men," Jean-Paul Sartre's "Age of Reason" and George Orwell's "1984." {end NYT quote}

Assuming that's literally true: six and a half years @ one per day = 2374 books. (two leap years makes it an even number....)

Now note that Trilling lived to be 95, so ten times that number of books is certainly possible.

How many people here have had periods when they've read a book a day?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Life List

[Attention Conservation Notice: a long, boring post of interest only to me and some of my real-world friends]

I went to RPI mostly to join the radio station and to be a rock'n'roll DJ. (Remember "free-form" radio?) One fringe benefit was meeting and interviewing and recording rock stars; that, AND getting comp’d into shows. Oh, and all the free records and payola and groupies, of course. (No coke, though, unless the Program Directors kept it all for themselves, AND kept Real Quiet about it.)

A hundred or so pop shows in 36 years:
a few score bands (here are about 70) come more-or-less readily to mind.
(There are other shows that I don’t actually recall 30 years later, but pals will still occassionally remind me that they were there with me.)

Bold = comp’d in; Bold ital = free show
* = a stand-out show, personally or musically memorable


76% Uncertain: Am.Legion Post, Albany.(And a couple even-lesser warmup acts...)
*America: SPAC; I was in HS, ok?
*Joan Armatrading: Proctors? and maybe at SPAC, too?
*B-52s: at JB Scotts
The Bangles: the second (bigger) JB’s, about 1986. I was too old by that point.
*The Bhundu Boys: Iron Horse, Northampton 1990 or 91, before most of them died
Blondie: Asbury Park (farthest traveled? With my college chum 'Thin' Lizzie)
Blotto: some Albany bar
Blue Öyster Cult : Columbia Day at SPAC (WRPI comps)Summer 74; again at ESP July 2006
Gordon Bok: Old Songs, Altamont
Billy Bragg Troy Music Hall
Jackson Browne: SPAC
Camper van Beethoven: QE2 (local club, not the Cunard liner)
Caravan: a late incarnation, at the Palace ca. 1974-5
Chieftains: Proctors. A very young Michael Flatley did step-dancing with them
Petula Clarke: State Fair 85? This literally came under the heading of “Yeah, I’d cross the street to see x”
*Lloyd Cole: Valentine’s Bar Nov 2000?
Elvis Costello & Clover: Siena College (not with the Attractions)
Iris DeMent: Schenectady's Central Park
Dead Kennedys: Danny says this was JB Scotts. Jello Biafra lectured at SUNY, years later
*Devo: Radio City Halloween of 79? With Russ and Danny and M.
*Diblo Dibala: Albany's Wash. Park with Alice and Mary, about July 2003
Fairport Convention WITH Sandy Denny (yay!) (but without RT, boo) Palace
Flo & Eddie: as warmup for Fleetwood Mac just before FM broke out big
The Foundations: My very first show. Jr. College of Albany gym, May of 1969?
*Gang of Four: QE2. Very late incarnation (new rhythm section). "My Date
with Sara Lee" (She lived in Woodstock, came up for the show, and I talked to her in the bar). G04 were great.
Good Rats: at the Hullaballoo? Maybe again as warmup for Van Morrison?
Ritchie Havens : town park July 25, 2002
Hoodoo Gurus: warmup for the Bangles, 1985 or 86
Bert Jansch: Siena College
Kanda Bongo Man: Sch’dy Cental Park
*Kitchens of Distinction: Hoboken (I was in NYC for work, had an evening to kill.)
Nils Lofgren: Palace. And again in the station, Studio A. SteveC interviewed him
Martha & the Muffins: Peppermint Lounge NYC with Danny
Ellen McIllwaine: McNeil Room. Worst show ever, largely thanks to UPAC Sound.
Van Morrison: Proctors
Maria Muldaur: warmup for America at SPAC?
The Nields: Sch’dy Cental Park
Phranc: Foxboro (warmup for the Smiths)
*Plasmatics: JB Scotts. What a great show.
Maddy Prior: Wash. Park, Albany ca.1998 (just a few songs, as I had the kids in tow)
Psychedelic Furs: (warmup for Talking Heads at the Palace 1980 )
Quicksilver MS: warmup at Live at Five, 7/07.(Let’s just say: disappointing)
Bonnie Raitt?: outdoors in the Berkshires - Tanglewood or Music Shed?
*Ramones: The Hullaballoo, Rensselaer. Hey ho, indeed.
*Steve Reich: and musicians. SUNYA PAC
Relativity: Old Songs, Altamont
*REM: The Skyway, Scotia Oct 1983 (I won comps. Beer w the bass player.)
The Roches: (Maggie and Terri and Scuzzy) ESP free show
Rollins Band (Henry, not Sonny): QE2
Todd Rundgren: Sch’dy Cental Park. Past his peak, but still.
Tom Rush: 8th Step Coffee House Lark Street
John Sebastian: at Tawasentha, my town park...
Michelle Shocked: Troy Music Hall late ‘80s. She was warmup for Billy Bragg
*Silly Wizard: Old Songs, Altamont. Their good-bye concert.
Siouxsie and the Banshees: at one of the early Lollapalooza tours, SPAC 1992?
*Patti Smith: Union College Chapel 1974?
*Smiths: Foxboro (farthest traveled?)
*Sonic Youth: QE2. Loudest show ever. Holy crap: I even had ear
protection, and they were STILL unbelievably loud.
Bill Spence & Fennig’s All-star String Band: Niskayuna HS (local folkies)
Star Spangled Washboard Band: McGovern Rally fall '72 (local heroes, pre-Blotto)
Starship: Live at Five, 2007. Not quite the same as Jefferson Airplane at SUNYA in 1969, but hey. With QMS.
Al Stewart: Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center. After his Big Hit.
Steve Stills: SPAC My excuse was that this was after CSNY broke up
Tibetan Monks: Troy Music Hall
The Tubes: Palace
U-2: JB Scotts. Before they became bigger than god.
UK: Madison Theater
Michael Urbaniak: (least distance traveled? from the Quad, over to the McNeill Room
Wolfe Tones etc: ESP convention center (Jimmy comp’d me in)
Yes: SPAC, high school

(That’s about 70 bands)

Spitzer inaugural, 2007: Judy Collins, James Taylor, Natalie (Attired) Merchant, etc.

Multi-band events:
- WRPI got tickets for some jazz festival in the rain in Vermont - and we spent most of it huddling for warmth, and the music is entirely blotted from my memory. Metheny?
- The rest of the Lollapalooza roster 1992 (nothing but Siouxsie sticks in my mind, I should look up and list the other forgettable bands...)
- Columbia Day at SPAC: BÖC + several other bands - Pavlov’s Dog!, Dave Sancious & Tone, etc.
- Fox Hollow Folk Festival (but today I can’t name a single act besides Robert
J. Lurtsema). Didn’t this have Jean Redpath? Wouldn't I remember that?

And the “I’d sure as hell see that again” list:
(Here are ~38 shows, a further 16 bands)
- 5 Grateful Dead shows: *Utica 3/73 / Syracuse 9/73 / Boston summer 76? / Field House in the 70s/ Knick 3/91
- 4 Richard Thompson: McNeil Room 2 August 1985 (a Friday...) / Bottom Line '86? /in-store, StuyvesantPlaza ~'94?/ Troy Music Hall Oct '96
- 3 *Bruce Springsteen: Union College Chapel Oct '74 (Wow!)/ Lenox July '75 / Palace Theater fall '75?
- 2 George Thorogood Palace (warmup for Bruce? or headlining?) / then at Cornell w M
- 2 Oregon: McNeil Room/ then at some club in Poughkeepsie (the Chance?)
- 2 *Be-Bop Deluxe Palace, for both the ‘Air Age’ and ‘Drastic Plastic’ tours
- 2 *Mekons Both QE2 (Hello to Mekons)
- 2 Talking Heads *Madison ’77 / Palace ’80. First show might have been comp’d.
- 2 10,000 Maniacs JB Scotts? Palace?
- 2 Suzanne Vega I helped roll the Ampex 351 over to the McNeil Rm to record her; and again shortly thereafter with M, but where? I think the ESP CC.
- 2 Laurie Anderson: Proctor’s May ’90, and an earlier show -- at the Palace?
- 2 Fleetwood Mac *Palace March 75? / SPAC a yr or so later because BoJo
gave me a ticket
- 2 NRBQ at some Albany bar / then as warmup for George Thorogood?
- 2 Dave Amram: Café Lena’s - the first show was so good that we went
back the 2nd night
- 2 Devilish Merry: Wobblie Joe’s Bar, Pittsburgh, successive years in the late 70s
- 2 PDQ Bach SPAC w Roxanne, Palace with Maggie

Seen twice, but more by accident than intentionally:
- 2 Renaissance I remember it as: Caravan was warmup; then Renaissance came back a month or two later with Fairport as warmup, and the Palace was empty. Hope they fired their booking manager.
- (Joan Armatrading?) I think twice, once at Proctor’s, once at SPAC
- (Chieftains?) I think I saw them twice, probably both at Proctor’s

Concerts that did NOT make a big impression:
(or just too light-weight to bother listing above...)

Did I see some incarnation of King Crimson? at the Madison? (or am I confusing this with UK?)
I have a faint (and possibly false) memory of seeing Steve Forbert someplace the year he premiered - at the pub in the student union? (or was he later at el Loco?)
Didn’t I see Utah Philips at Mothers Wine Emporium? Or is this another false memory?
Commander Cody played at RPI when I was there, right? outside? GM week,maybe?

A bunch of my college chums and I saw somebody at the Village Vanguard.
(Aaron suggests that this may have been McCoy Tyner; this was almost certainly on the Death Trip, when Peggy crashed the car in the snow - - which would explain why I don’t much recall this show ... mostly I was just being glad to be alive, and the VVanguard had a several-drink minimum.)
Nick F. Brignola (and one or more Mangione -- more likely Gap than Chuck -- but maybe both) played at my high school...does that count?
What was that local Latin/Cuban band that Rod and Aaron dragged me out to see in Nashville?

I’ve seen a whole bunch of local bands too tedious to recall... including half of the warmup bands for the above shows (Doug Sahm for the Grateful Dead; Lloyd Cole had a couple local guys do warmup...)
Some WRPI bands (Monolith, Banquo’s Ghost, Roger and Jimmy’s various projects, etc)
One stand-out:
The Matterbabies at Jimmy’s store,3rd St.Troy, early ’90s - Free, or nearly free: $3?
They were good enough that I bought their tape.

Some radio station appearances: Root Boy Slim, Rory Block(*sigh*), various hair bands

Some regional bands I saw around campus: Pearl Harbor & the Explosions, the Flashcubes, The Todd Hobin Band; Orleans played somewhere.

A bunch more free shows at Tawasentha, Schenectady's Central Park, Albany's Washington Park, out at the State Fair, downtown Albany, Larkfest, etc.

A few forgettable minor-league shows at local clubs where WRPI was on the guest list.
(What was that dreadful band Lou-the-Who & I interviewed at the Hullabaloo?)

I’ve been to forgettable pop shows at the Lenox Music Shed and at Tanglewood, but don’t recall exactly who - Bonnie Raitt seems to have been one of them? Judy

And I can’t rightly include a few shows I heard from the outside:
most notably, Mahavishnu Orchestra across the street in the Armory when I was living in the Quad back in ought ’74 - - (this sounded like The End Of The World at fully 100 yds);
el Loco Mexican restaurant used to do live music (Odetta!) that we could basically watch/hear from our stoop across the street on Madison Avenue; arguably, this was a more intimate concert setting than, say, SPAC... but really, now, it's hard to claim....
Aaron & Anne’s apartment next to the jazz club, etc.

Concerts I missed:
this list is essentially an infinite set, but notable highlights include:
- The local ’60s shows I was too damn young to get to:
Steppenwolf, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin at The Aerodrome in Schenectady;
(Roxanne claimed to have gone to all of these shows...)
Jimi Hendrix at the RPI Armory (Easter 1968?)
The Doors at the RPI Fieldhouse (December 1967?),
Jefferson Airplane at SUNYA (I was in the 9th? 10th? grade - - I think Mr. Mastro went)
The Knickerbockers played St. Rose in the ’60s....
Genesis with Peter Gabriel, at the Palace 1972? ’73?

- Walking past the venue, but couldn’t change plans in time to get to the
show later

The Gang of Four in Philadelphia 1992 (...I was pushing a baby in a
The B-52s at Max’s Kansas City, with a bunch of college chums

- Too far/too broke/too many obligations/ just couldn’t make the effort/and I still regret missing:
Steeleye Span in the Berkshires early summer of 1974?
Various Roxy Music gigs in NYC, 1975-2001
Gang of Four in New York circa 1981; and again in 2006
New Order in New York circa 1982 (just too damn broke...);
John Cippolina played at some Albany bar just a couple of years before he died.
Linda Thompson was singing at Ronnie Scott’s (London ’85), but we were too tired....
The Smiths did a NYC tour about 1983, before I even knew who they were.
Deacon Blue and a half-dozen other minor bands we liked were playing up near Oxford the day we got off the plane in London in June ’90, but we were too jet-lagged to jump in a rental car....

Any number of shows at the Chateau (that vanished little ’80s club they knocked down to build the Knick Arena (not a fair trade)) – but I couldn’t be bothered to cross the street: The Sick F*cks is at the top of this list, but there must have been 20 or 50 noteworthy shows there.

Shows that everybody in the Capital District would later claim that they
were at: The Police at JB Scotts; [even more obscure: The Police at the Hullabaloo at couple months before that. There were supposed to have been a dozen people in the audience, and I've heard this story from everybody in Albany.]

Note that the listing of ‘bands seen’ doesn’t line up perfectly with the listing of 'shows seen’, as some shows get counted twice when the warmup band was also memorable.

Someplace I have a shoebox full of ticket stubs that would answer a few of these hazy memories.

I saw Jelly Biafra and Henry Rollins as lecturers, too.

A quarter or so of the shows listed were free; most expensive was probably the Smiths?

Smallest venue: Cafe Lena’s in Saratoga. (Why did I never bother to see Christine Lavin when she worked there?) I've been to a half-dozen shows there, and the only one I can recall is Dave Amram. Seats what, 40?
Smallest house (as proportion of capacity): Fairport/Ren. at the Palace. There couldn't have been 200 people there, in a 1500? seat theater.

Largest venue: SPAC Runner-up: Foxboro
Largest indoor show: the Dead at the Knick

Note that once the scale popular rock shows moved from the Aerodrome/ Field House -sized venues up to arenas, the only venue big enough here for big-name bands was SPAC, until the Knick opened in about 1990.

Although Steve Reich is listed above as pop, there’s a separate (shorter) Life List for classical gigs:

Philadelphia Orchestra ~1966, Boston Symphony ~ 1967, a half-dozen Albany SO ca. 1977 season; the Northern Sinfonia/Iona Brown ca. 1986; some major string Quartet (Borodin?) at Union with Aaron ca. 1978; Troy Music Hall for Ma/Stern/Laredo/Ax ca. 1988; U Mass Lowell for Antheil’s Ballet Mechanique (farthest traveled?) Nov.1999;
ADD: Dutoit/Phillie/Ma SPAC July 31, 2002

...And then, starting in ’99, the score or so of gigs I recorded as Don's assistant, using Aaron’s hi-tech 'Calrec' Ambisonic mike: Kronos Quartet, Emerson Quartet, Takacs, Gil Shaham, Lang Lang, Edgar Meyer, Boston Camerata, the *BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Iggy rocks my world...), Kremerata Baltica, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, etc., etc.

The Emerson Quartet is now at 4 gigs on my Life List, which puts them ahead of Bruce -- plus two or three shows by their cellist, and yet another show by their violist. So David Finckel is probably my most-seen artist. And I’ve now seen Edgar Meyer twice, too: once solo, once in a quintet with the Emersons]

Danny, Aaron, anybody: anything I've missed?

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I hate that car, Part XXIII

The last tail light bulb I changed was on the Civic, a year or so ago.

I stopped at the store on my way to work, bought a replacement - I'm pretty sure it was 59¢ - reached into the hatch, and changed it in the parking lot, and was on my way. Five minutes, 59¢.

But the MPV uses "European-style" (#7443) bulbs: $2.99, sold only in 2-packs,
and not in a drug store: so, not 59¢, no, a dead tail light now costs me $5.98 and a trip to an auto-supply store. (As I told the guy at the counter: "I hate cars." He agreed.)

And then I had to find a Phillips-head and figure out how to take off the lens. (Today's MPV tip: it's held by two screws, and then by two pins, so the lens pulls off perpendicular to the side, it doesn't pull off to the back.) And now I have to store the second bulb against the day the right-side brake light fails. (I hung the blister-pack on a hook in the shed with the 'car' stuff, maybe I'll actually be able to find in next year.)

Ok, it's literally ten times as expensive, no surprise there.
But it's not just more expensive, it also that they've taken a "nothing" job (take five minutes to jump out and fix it on the way to work) into an actual "get out the toolbox and spend fifteen minutes on it" job.

On the other hand, the Youngest Member got to work the pedal for me, so it was a Teaching Moment, too.

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