Journal Entry #14

March 31, 2008

A New York Times story last week reports that a judge is being asked to decide whether a giant particle accelerator constitutes a menace to the world, and possibly to the entire universe. The suit has been filed in Hawaii, and unless he intervenes, the accelerator will begin smashing atoms outside Geneva this summer. Scientists are saying it's unlikely that the research will produce a black hole, which of course could be extraordinarily bad news for the real estate market. I remember when I was in high school and we were conducting H-bomb experiments. At that time, there was a lot of talk about the possibility of a chain reaction destroying the world. Scientists reassured us not to worry, that there wasn't much chance, and went ahead. And of course they were right, so why worry? Readers of Odyssey may get the feeling they've heard all this before.

I've just begun K. C. Cole's The Hole in the Universe. It's been on my shelf for a few years. Negligent on my part. And my guilty pleasure for the month is The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures. It's another one I've been trying to get to. In fact I have several Holmes collections waiting for me.

I've signed a contract with Subterranean for a 'best of' collection to be titled Cryptic. It'll be out next year, probably checking in at 200,000 words.

Audio versions of Seeker and The Devil's Eye are coming. Details will be passed along when they show up.

Time Travelers Never Die is well underway. I'm trying to look at what time travel might really be like if you actually acquired a device, along with a warning to change nothing. And no instructions. How, for example, could you manage to have the thing put you down at the intersection of W 45th Street and Fifth Avenue? (If there is such a place.) How do you buy meals in medieval Italy? How find an address in 16th century London? (Did they even have addresses?)

Headed for Willycon in Nebraska next weekend.

And finally, we learned this week of the death of Arthur C. Clarke. I never had the opportunity to meet him, although I felt I knew him intimately through his books. Exchanged one e-mail with him. (One of the three fan letters I can recall having written.) I wouldn't know how to measure Clarke's contribution to the field. Or to me, personally. I believe his classic story "The Star" hit me as hard as any piece of SF, ever, and maybe as hard as any piece of literature, period. My other favorite moments are the conversation between Adam and God in Paradise Lost when Adam complains about being alone, and God asks, 'Who is more alone than I?' And Hector's farewell to Andromache in The Iliad. And maybe's Ivan's story about the Russian duke and the young mother he wants to bed in The Brothers Karamazov.

If you're interested, the other fan letters went to Dennis Overbye for Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos, and to Will Eisner, for The Spirit, which showed me what a short story could be long before anybody got around to it in school. (In fact, I'm not sure anybody ever did get around to it in school.)

In any case, Arthur, we'll miss you. There'll never be another.

— Jack

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