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Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Talk about lateness. Did you hear that Frederik Pohl, the classic science fiction author, just got his high school diploma? Oh yeah, and he’s 89. Apparently, he never graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, so now he’s been given “this bit of closure.” Pohl, who stands in the same league as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, wrote his most recent novel — The Last Theorem — with Clarke himself.

I’ve been meaning to read the Grand Master Fred Pohl for quite some time, especially his most famous novel, Gateway, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. However, I have tasted bits and pieces of his short story collection Platinum Pohl when I find the time — and when I’m in the mood — to get into some quality short stories. I think the collection is just fantastic, ranging from the harsh and brutally realistic landscape of Venus for which he is most famous for in his “Heechee” stories to a society ruined by extreme class division to a socially responsible environment project in a near-future New York City.

It’s kind of funny to see a literary genius like Pohl get his high school diploma now, so late in his life, but I have to say — good for him.

 

The New York Times — August 22, 2009

“A Trip Through Time to Collect a Cherished Technite Document”

by Susan Dominus

Generally native to New York City, the Technites sound, from their name, as if they could be distant cousins of the Heechees, the star-traveling creatures that populate Frederik Pohl’s science fiction classic “Gateway,” as well as many of his other works.

Mr. Pohl, who is now 89, has never had personal contact with the Heechees outside the realm of his imagination, but for three years, some 75 years ago, he was briefly a full-blooded Technite: a student at Brooklyn Technical High School.

Mr. Pohl tested easily into Brooklyn Tech back when it was new. Then, sometime around his junior year, he hit a wall. “I largely stopped paying attention,” Mr. Pohl recalled by phone from his home outside Chicago. He failed two drawing classes, one of them twice, and a math class. His father and mother were divorcing at the time, which he thinks probably explains his troubles at school. “I can scarcely believe I was so dumb as that,” Mr. Pohl said.

He loved Brooklyn Tech — even now, he remembers fondly the name of the author of his industrial processes textbook, and the day that Alex Raymond, the creator of Flash Gordon, spoke to students. But he was discouraged …

article continued here.

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Here’s a funny article about zombies, math, and infection. It’s actually very interesting to see how math can be applied to zombie attacks. And the fact that the mathematical model that the students created can also be applied to the spread of real diseases in the real world is pretty cool.

Before I went to the Alpha science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing workshop this summer (check out my post about that), I didn’t have much of a regard for zombie fiction or zombies in general. Today, I still think that zombie stories can get pretty stupid, but when I went with the other kids at Alpha to the Confluence science fiction convention one of our teachers, David Barr Kirtley, did a late night reading of his short story “The Skull-Faced City” — a sequel to his story “The Skull-Face Boy,” which appeared in John Joseph Adams‘ anthology The Living Dead (the short story collection is currently on the World Fantasy Award ballot). “The Skull-Faced City” turned out to be a really good story — the thing just worked, and worked so well. It fit exactly with all the writing stuff Kirtley taught us about at the Alpha workshop.

After that, I felt a strong desire to write my own zombie story — though I’m not yet sure what about. But I will write one. Someday.

So this zombie article sparked my interest, as I’ve developed a recent appreciation for the elegance of math. And maybe for zombies too.

 

Inside Higher Ed — August 21, 2009

“Students Model Zombie Attack”

Historically, zombie attacks have been the dominion of science-fiction fanatics and Hollywood producers, not scholars. But in a paper scheduled to be published this year, three Canadian graduate students expose the popular sci-fi trope to some long-awaited academic scrutiny.

For the paper, set to be included in the book Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress, Philip Munz and Ioan Hudea of Carleton University, in Ottawa, and Joe Imad, of University of Ottawa, used advanced mathematical modeling to examine the chances of mankind surviving a typical zombie epidemic.

Munz said he conceived the study last fall as a term project, and recruited classmates Hudea and Imad (the two universities share a math program) before pitching the idea to assistant professor Robert J. Smith? — who, fortuitously, is a fan of zombie cinema (and whose taste for the unconventional may be evident in his decision to legally add a question mark to his last name).

“It kind of came as a crazy idea on my part while doing math homework with a movie on in the background,” Munz said.

That movie was Shaun of the Dead — a parody of the 1978 cult classic Dawn of the Dead and of zombie films in …

article continued here.

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