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Air Conditioning

Previously in this space I posted a statement to the effect that my air conditioning at my house was not working. After two repairmen visiting (only one of which charged me) I have been assured that it is functioning correctly. Both asked me to run an experiment, and the results are in.

The experiment was to see if the house would hold a temperature during a heat wave, like the short-lived one we just had here in Chicago. The answer is "yes." But what my AC won't do is pull the temperature down if the sun is out, and it won't quickly pull it down at night, especially if it's hot outside. Basically, if I want coolth in a heat wave, I need to set it at or very close to my desired temperature and let it run.

Since my AC comfort level is 74 degrees, that means on especially hot days when I leave the house I set the AC at no higher than 76, vs. the 80 that the programmable thermostat is set to. At any rate, now I know.

Muddle In The Middle, Link Salad Edition

The current work-in-progress is very much in the "muddle in the middle" stage. This is where I the writer need to tread carefully, as I build my story to the (very clear to me) climax. In other muddles in the middle, the Hadley Rille fundraiser has 10 days to go. Please donate and share the link at

Link Salad

A) Dinesh D'Souza's book America is largely BS.

B) Back in Ye Olde Dayes, when a horse died in the street, it got left there for a while. Note too that the desperately poor kids are playing in an open sewer.

C) How to be always right on the Internet pick every option and delete what doesn't come true.

D) An interesting article on volunteerism - sometimes the best thing to do is get out of the way and let the locals do it.

Various Excitements


On Friday, I got a 4 ayem wakeup call from our security monitoring system. A bunch of alarms were tripped and I was asked if I wanted to meet police at the site. I did, and discovered the alarms were tripped by a power issue. Alas for my sleep, the damage was done and I spent a good part of Friday in a semi-zombielike stage.

Change of Plans

A former shipmate, with whom I have been in intermittent touch via Facebook, is now getting a degree at New College, Oxford. (They call it new because it was new, back in 1379 when it was founded. "New" is after all a relative term.) At any rate, since he's there and available during the first part of my trip to the British Isles, I am changing my travel plans to make a visit to Oxford. I'm skipping Bath, since the only reason I was going to Bath was I didn't want to spend all my time in London.


I note that yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing. It would be nice to get back before the 50th, but I suspect that's not going to happen.

More Various Thoughts Now With News!


My car is in the shop again. They wanted to look and see if I had a slow Freon leak (I don't), but while waiting for that I noticed a loud whine and some vibration when the car was moving. This proved to be a bad bearing in my right front wheel. They are trying to get the bearing assembly disassembled (if so, a $500 fix) if not, a $800 fix. In the meantime I'm driving a loaner car.

Various Thought #1: Debates

It's hard to have a debate on astronomy if one of the parties says "the Earth is flat and anybody who says otherwise is a lying liar who lies!" (Related thought.)

Various Thought #2: Book Review

I just finished reading the wonderful novel Defenders by Will McIntosh last night. I highly recommend it. Basically, humanity is getting our collective asses kicked by telepathic aliens, so we genetically-engineer humanoid "defenders" to reverse the ass-kicking. The good news is this works, the bad news is the Defenders have ideas of their own.
Thought #1 - Hugos

I have completed my voting on the Hugos. I found the Clarke short story via Google books, and bumped it up to the #3 slot. It was a refreshing parody of the Square-jawed Manly Man Fixes The Wog's Problems, something that was entirely too common in 1938. I also "no awarded" the Novelette category.

Thought #2 - No, Virginia, I Don't Want 'Big Government'

One of the many irritating facets of political arguments with small government types is they assume that I want 'big government.' No, I don't. This guy says it best: [conservatives] thinks that the littlebrains don't know that the power of the state is terrible. But we do know it, and nonetheless prefer to deal with the welfare state -- yes, even with police and taxes -- than take a chance on rule by corporations, because we also know that people who pitch us "customer service" and "entrepreneurial discovery" as an alternative to our current means of survival are the sort of well-manicured grifters who try to talk senior citizens into giving up their life savings for a fake stock certificate.

Thought #3 - Miami Will Be The American Venice

From my friend, the author Toby Buckell (and you really should buy his latest book): Miami is slowly flooding. 2.4 million people live there and will eventually have to move or master the 24/7 breast stroke.


I had the opportunity to play golf in an outing yesterday. Golf, even bad golf, is better than work, and outing golf (with free beer) is better still. Not only that, but we had nigh-unto perfect weather. Color me pleased.


1939 Retro-Hugos, Thoughts, More of


“The Time Trap” by Henry Kuttner - this is another entry in the Square-Jawed White Man Fixes All races. I lost count of the number of exclamation points used, as well as the number of times a nubile young woman lost her clothing in front of our red-blooded hero. Despite all of that, it was reasonably entertaining, but definitely no "Who Goes There" or even "Anthem." This will be my third-place pick.


I have no idea what (if anything) I'm voting for here. The stories are all weird to the point of craziness or badly dated.

Short Story

“The Faithful” by Lester del Rey - not bad story about man's best friend the dog.
“Helen O’Loy” by Lester del Rey - geeks make robot, love follows.
“Hollerbochen’s Dilemma” by Ray Bradbury - shockingly amateurish.
“Hyperpilosity” by L. Sprague de Camp - Rather interesting. Basically, a flu epidemic makes all humans furry. de Camp's hero scientists (a Mexican, with the accent to match) discovers that back in the day we all caught a disease that made us non-furry, and that this flu is the "cure." The story ends with humanity deciding to stay furry.

I think I'm going with Hyperpilosity as #1, Helen O'Loy as #2, Faithful as #3 and Bradbury's piece as #4. If I succeed in finding the Clarke piece, this may change.


1939 Retro-Hugos, Thoughts


“Hollywood on the Moon” by Henry Kuttner is badly dated. It postulates a deep crater on the Moon's far side with a breathable atmosphere. I found the story hard to get into. "Werewoman” by C. L. Moore was even worse in that regard. I'm still working my way through this category.


Ayn Rand's offering, Anthem, is actually quite good. Her politics are a bit heavy-handed, but not nearly as bad as they would be at novel length. Now, don't get me wrong - "Who Goes There" is definitely a better story - but Anthem is not bad.

Short Story

"Helen O'Loy" is the story of two geeks who create a female robot and fall in love with it. It feels derivative because we've seen a lot of stories like that. It's not derivative; rather it's the base text the other stories were derived from!


No, Not Really

The author John C. Wright has announced that the Left has a Mistrust of Intelligence and Reason. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I disagree. Taken from my comment on his blog:

There are a number of category errors in this post. Basically, Mr. Wright, you misunderstand what the “Left” is thinking (including assuming there is a monolithic “left” to point at) which leads to your confusion. To wit:

1) You say: Hence, whenever someone says we need more black heroes in movies so that young blacks can have apt role models, the unspoken theory on which that pronouncement turns is the assumption that a man’s admiration for heroics turn on the chromosomes controlling skin melanin, and reason cannot compensate. – No, that is not the theory. The fact is that people like to see themselves in their fiction. This goes for everybody from small children who say only white blonds can be princesses (because that’s what they see) to adults who would like to see people like themselves in fiction. I think, sir, you would be singing a different tune if the majority of fiction treated white males as disposable sidekicks.

2) You say: Hence, whenever someone says a man cannot have an opinion about abortion because he is not a woman – No. It’s rather like the old saw about the ham and egg breakfast – the chicken is involved but the pig is committed. Saying “abortion should be illegal” means forcing a woman to carry a baby to term.

3) You say: Socialism says that the barriers between economic categories of investor and worker are so steep that reason cannot overcome them – no, but the financial interests of investor and worker are diametrically opposed. The investor wants cheap labor (= lower costs = more profit) and the worker wants more wages. Although people can be in both classes (as your example of a lawyer) most people draw the majority of their income from one or the other source.

4) You say: or a byproduct of an informal system of “white male privilege” of which the oppressors are foolishly unaware. I refer you to John Scalzi’s lowest difficulty setting post. Speaking as a beneficiary of white male privilege, Scalzi’s post is very accurate.
Writers talk about "the muddle in the middle," which is the phenomenon that the middle part of the story is the hardest to write. The beginning is usually clear, and the end is usually known - besides which, by the time you get to the end you've by definition figured things out. The middle is, well, a muddle. We're in the middle of the Hadley Rille fundraiser, so that's by definition the hardest part. Please send money and links (picture is link).

Link Salad

A) An interesting article on one of the best Star Wars movies, The Empire Strikes Back.

B) The writer SL Huang notes that there aren't a lot of Asian characters in the Asian-culture-dominated series Firefly. She has some casting suggestions.

C) No, Virginia, imposing a carbon tax does not cause the world to end.

D) Want a Sterling engine in your basement?

Home Ownership

My AC at my house runs and puts out some cold air, but was unable to pull the house below 75 degrees last night. Of course my parents are visiting as well. Yippee Kay Aye. (At least the repair guy will be in this morning.)
Herewith are some thoughts on the 1939 Retro-Hugos.


The Sword in the Stone was not in the Hugo packet, and I've not read it, so it's not getting a vote. Carson of Venus and Galactic Patrol are two peas in a pod. They are both Strong-Jawed Manly Men (tm) going forth to Fix The Wog's Problems (tm). In Carson's case, he gets some nookie too. No nookie for the Lensman, at least not yet. Now, there's nothing wrong with a Boy's Own Adventure, but that's a pretty common trope, and to get an award (in my view) you need to do something unique with it. Carson gets 4th on my ballot, only because Galactic Patrol was more influential on the genre.

Out of the Silent Planet has to be #1 on my ballot, mostly because it's the only novel on the list that's stood the test of time enough to be actually published and read nowadays. This leaves my #2 slot, and I have to say that The Legion of Time was a pleasant surprise to put there. (Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, considering Jack Willamson wrote it.) The version in the packet has to be a post WWII rewrite, because they allude to mysterious doings at Los Alamos (in 1939, Los Alamos was a dude ranch nobody had heard of.) ETA: Wikipedia tells me this novel and another one were republished in the early 1950s. Since the version I read didn't have the breaks for serialization, that must have been the version included.

But what I like about Legion of Time was Williamson's approach to time travel. His world is that the future isn't determined but rather a probability. Legion also had two strong women characters, a rarity for works in this age.

Pro Artist

Geez Louise, some (most) of the cover art from 1939 was damn near pornographic! I think I know why a lot of boys bought the magazines, and why their parents were down on science fiction. I'm giving Margaret Brundage my top vote.


Hugos, 2014 and 1939

I have cast my ballot for the 2014 Hugos Awards. Also, I see that the packet for the 1939 Retro Hugos is now available.


Links So Nice We'll Do It Twice

For my American readers, please to enjoy your upcoming three-day weekend. To carry you off, have some links:

A) Elizabeth Bear has 13 ways of looking at narrative.

B) An interesting map showing where the GDP of the US is concentrated. To nobody's surprise, 50% of US GDP happens in the top 23 metro areas.

C) A pair of fascinating images from XKCD:

First, how big of a change from global warming:


Second, all the surface area in the Solar System on the same map. As one can clearly see, Mars may be a small planet but it's got the same land area as all of Earth's continents.


Links and Fundraiser

First, this week's beg for our wonderful Hadley Rille Books fundraiser, now with no totebags!

Second, links!

1) Independent bookstores start a new chapter: Growth. Their numbers are up, along with their sales, as e-book novelty wears off and human interaction becomes a top priority.

2) Krugman on global warming. Tl;dr = a) the "war on coal" is BS - coal mining jobs are being lost to stripmining, not environmentalists, and b) if you believe in Ayn Rand, the only response to global warming can be angry denial.

3) An interesting article about the economics of developing self-driving cars.

4) Not news to my readers, but the US missile defense system is utterly broken.

Weather and Travel

Two pretty heavy storms rolled through Chicago last night. In my neck of the woods, the one window that hasn't been replaced yet sprung a small leak, and that was the extent of the damage. (The rain was being blown against the window as if I were in a giant car wash.)

Over the weekend, I was reviewing my travel plans for Worldcon. I was looking to see if I could squeeze in a jaunt across the Channel to see the D-day beaches. It doesn't look promising - the fastest option I saw involves taking the Eurostar train to Paris and backtracking to Bayuex. In short, I'd burn a day of travel to get there and another day getting to Ireland.

No Rotary today, because we're marching in the 4th of July parade Friday so I cancelled the meeting. Since I have writer's workshop tonight, this will allow me to get to the gym over lunch.

Two Great Opportunities!

Pirates of Mars
Opportunity #1

As recently announced, my novel Pirates of Mars is now available as an audio book. I have a limited number of free copies. If you are interested and willing to post a review, please contact me.

Opportunity #2

Speaking of publishing, my publisher is doing a fundraiser to generate marketing funds. We have a number of cool perks (no tote bags!) for donations. Please stop by and give (and share!)


Now you can listen to Pirates of Mars

Pirates of Mars
I am pleased to announce that the audio version of Pirates of Mars is now available for download.


Trivia! - The Answers

Yesterday, I posted my Wednesday night trivia questions. Here today are the questions and answers:

1. I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse. The Godfather (Marlon Brando / Vito Corleone)

2. What we've got here is failure to communicate. Cool Hand Luke Strother Martin / The Warden

3. Round up the usual suspects – Casablanca Claude Rains / Captain Louis Renault

4. When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk, shoot. – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Eli Wallach / Tuco

5. A man’s got to know his limitations – Magnum Force (Clint Eastwood – Inspector Harry Callahan)

6. Now you understand. Anything goes wrong, anything at all... your fault, my fault, nobody's fault... it won't matter. Big Jake (Richard Boone – John Fain) John Wayne – Jacob McCandles



Last night at my weekly team trivia event, I was a guest host for a round. I wrote six questions in order from easy to hard. The category was "movie quotes" - I give you the quote, you give me the movie. This proved surprisingly hard for my team and the other teams.

As a test, here's my questions. You tell me what movie they are from (without Googling!). Extra credit if you give me actors and/or character names (questions are progressively harder).

1. I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.

2. What we've got here is a failure to communicate.

3. Round up the usual suspects

4. When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk, shoot.

5. A man’s got to know his limitations

6. Now you understand. Anything goes wrong, anything at all... your fault, my fault, nobody's fault... it won't matter.


Comment Policy

This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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