Author Archives: george


The surprising 2-0 Buffalo Bills take on the 0-2 Cincinnati Bengals in the sunshine and 80+ degree temperatures of New Era Field this afternoon. The Bills are favored by 5 1/2 points. The Home Opener is usually a noisy affair with plenty of crowd antics like The Wave and some fool running onto the field in the nude.

I am concerned about Antonio Brown. His increasingly erratic behavior troubles me. Too many concussions? Some sort of bi-polar disorder? Antonio Brown signed a $50 million contract with the Oakland Raiders (after turning down a similar offer by the Pittsburgh Steelers). After that contract was voided by Brown’s instance that he be traded to the New England Patriots, he signed a 1-year $10 million contract with the Patriots. Now, that the Patriots have cut him, that contract is voided. So Antonia Brown has gone from being a $50 million dollar man to a $10 million dollar man, to an unemployed athletic facing rape charges. That is quite a spiral downward. Plus Nike has dropped him. How will your favorite NFL team perform today?


In the sold-out AMC theater where we viewed Downton Abbey: The Movie, the audience clapped and cheered when the film ended. Several of the audience dressed up as their favorite characters–hats, long dresses, etc.–which gave the movie opening a Star Wars or Harry Potter event feel. The elegant costumes, the stately mansions, the cool 1920s vehicles filmed by Ben Smithard look plush and posh. Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, and Elizabeth McGovern return to lead the action at Downton Abbey when King George V and Queen Mary announce they’re going to visit Yorkshire and spend a day or two with the Granthams. This Royal announcement sends the staff of Downton Abbey into a tizzy. Lady Mary brings retired butler, Carson, out of retirement to help prepare for the Royal visit.

To prepare for Downton Abbey: The Movie Diane and I binged on all 52 hours of the PBS series. It took us two weeks of nightly viewing. The back-stories of the dozen or so re-accuring characters of this drama series enriches the movie experience. Director Michael Engler plunges right into the Royal shenanigans so viewers with little or no knowledge of the TV series may be a bit lost as events unfold. Series creator Julian Fellowes provides a screenplay that gives all the major characters some key moments. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, this movie version is a must-see. If you’re a fan of Upstairs Downstairs you might enjoy this clone series and movie. GRADE: B

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #547: THE GREAT SF STORIES #13 (1951) Edited By Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg

Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Sentinel” (aka, “Sentinel of Eternity”), the story that became the basis of 2001: A Space Odyssey, may be the most famous SF story in The Great SF Stories #13. Isaac Asimov delivers a scathing tale about his “role” in the movie opening. C. M. Kornbluth’s bitter classic “The Marching Morons” might be my favorite story in this volume. I’m also fond of Fritz Leiber’s incredible “A Pail of Air.” Fredric Brown’s “The Weapon” still packs a wallop! And it’s last sentence is still a stunner!

Where earlier The Great SF Stories volumes were dominated by stories from Astounding Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction is the prime source of stories in 1951. New writers with new story themes show up while older SF writers like A. E. Van Vogt and Robert Heinlein are nowhere to be found. The times are changing! GRADE: A
INTRODUCTION by Martin H. Greenberg ix
“Null-P” by William Tenn (WORLDS BEYOND, January 1951) 1
“The Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke (TEN STORY FANTASY, Spring 1951) 15
“The Fire Balloons” by Ray Bradbury (IMAGINATION, April 1951) 27
“The Marching Morons” by C. M. Kornbluth (GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, April 1951) 48
“The Weapon” by Fredric Brown (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, April 1951) 83
“Angel’s Egg” by Edgar Pangborn (GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, June 1951) 88
“Breeds There a Man…?” by Isaac Asimov (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, June 1951) 130
“Pictures Don’t Lie” by Katherine MacLean (GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, August 1951) 171
“Superiority” by Arthur C. Clarke (MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, August 1951) 193
“I’m Scared” by Jack Finney (COLLIERS, September 1951) 206
“The Quest for Saint Aquin” by Anthony Boucher (NEW TALES OF TIME & SPACE, 1951) 222
“Tiger by the Tail” by Alan E. Nourse (GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, November 1951) 244
“With These Hands” by C. M. Kornbluth (GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, December 1951) 253
“A Pail of Air” by Fritz Leiber (GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, December 1951) 274
“Dune Roller” by Julian May (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, December 1951) 291

THE PRINCE By Niccolo Machiavelli (Translated by George Bull)

I probably have a dozen different editions of Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince (first English translation 1640). The book was banned by the Catholic Church who maintained The Prince was inspired by the Devil. This book (and Machiavelli’s The Discourses) actually created the area of study we now call “Political Science.” Machiavelli studies history and relates the strategies that work…and those that don’t.

Yes, The Prince is an amoral book. Machiavelli advises princes and leaders to lie and cheat under certain circumstances. He maintains that fear works better than love in ruling a populous. Religion becomes a tool for social control. You can see why the Catholic Church banned The Prince. Of all the translations of The Prince I prefer George Bull’s clear and concise version. The Prince is less than a 100 pages long, but its power has lasted centuries. It is the playbook of most governments and political leaders. If you’re interested in the hows and whys of politics, it all begins with The Prince. Have you read The Prince? GRADE: A

THE ROOM OF WHITE FIRE By T. Jefferson Parker

The Room of White Fire is the first book in T. Jefferson’s Parker’s Roland Ford series. Ford is a San Diego-based private detective whose specialty is finding people. Arcadia, a mental health facility for wealthy “partners,” discovers that Clay Hickson–son of powerful corporate mover-and-shaker–is missing. High profile psychologist Briggs Spencer, owner of Arcadia, hires Ford to find Clay Hickson. But immediately Ford begins to find flaws in the data about Clay Hickson. Hickson served in the Air Force in Iraq…except he didn’t. Ford learns Hickson was actually at a secret CIA black-ops site in Romania during his Air Force career. What happened there caused Hickson’s mental break-down that led to his stay in Arcadia.

While tracking Clay Hickson down, Ford deals with the death of his wife in a plane crash. T. Jefferson Parker blends personal trauma and page-turning action in his thrillers. If you’re looking for a fast-paced Summer Read, The Room of White Fire delivers. I plan to read the Roland Ford series in the weeks ahead. Are you a T. Jefferson Parker fan? GRADE: B
Roland Ford series:
The Room Of White Fire (2017)
Swift Vengeance (2018)
The Last Good Guy (2019)


Diane and I joined three other couples at Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre for an evening of fun and drama. Yes, Neil Simon wrote many funny plays, but Lost In Yonkers–which won Simon his only Pulitzer Prize–blends comedy with some tragedy. Local actors (not Richard Dreyfuss nor Mercedes Ruerhl) star in this production. The two young boys, Ayden Herreid (15 years old) and Timothy Whipple (13 years old), are brothers who must deal with the 1942 World War II circumstances their father (Kevin Nagel) finds himself in: he owes money to a loan shark.

The brothers are forced to stay with their crusty grandmother (played by Ellen Holst) and follow her strict rules. Their mentally challenged Aunt Bella (Diane DeBernardo) both comforts the boys and drives them crazy. Uncle Louie (Eliot Fox), their father’s brother who is a small-time crook, shows up to liven the action.

Lost In Yonkers is not my favorite Neil Simon play (that would be The Odd Couple), but this local production was fun and entertaining. And the food was good, too. Do you have a favorite Neil Simon play or movie? GRADE: B


In 1949, Australian doctor John Cade, working alone and in obscurity, discovered that lithium–a natural occurring substance like salt–could relieve the symptoms of manic depression (aka, bipolar syndrome). Cade published his work, which was mostly ignored, and for decades a treatment for one of the worst mental health problems went unnoticed.

One reason for lithium being ignored is that it wasn’t a drug that pharmaceutical companies could make Big Money on. You can get lithium at your local health food store for a few bucks. Meanwhile, people suffering with manic depression or bipolar syndrome where given expensive electroshock treatments and psychotropic drugs that didn’t work well. In the 1970s, Norman Lear’s Maude (based on his wife) featured an episode where Maude takes a drug that helps her combat her depression. The Network censors would not allow the word “lithium” to be spoken (p. 147), but Lear’s wife was on it at the time and found great relief from her mood swings. A couple decades later, Homeland’s Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) struggles with her psychotic problems and only finds relief with lithium (p. 148).

Three years ago, I started to experience vague but persistent anxiety and troubled sleep. I could find no logical reasons for these conditions. At that time I read an article in the New York Times about lithium. Regions with high lithium levels in their drinking water–Texas, Japan, Austria, Greece (p. 183)–had lower levels (up to 50% decrease) in suicide rates. And lower rates of manic depression. So I bought a bottle of lithium and started taking it. Within a week, my vague anxiety disappeared. I started sleeping better and longer. My blood pressure went down. Placebo Effect? Possibly. But I returned to normal and I’ve continued to take lithium daily ever since. Walter A. Brown’s Lithium explains why my mental health and the mental health of thousands of others improved. GRADE: A
Introduction vii
1. Manic-Depressive Illness, A Brief History 1
2. The Naturalist 29
3. Lithium 47
4. Breakthrough 61
5. Aftermath 89
6. Prophylaxis Rex 127
Epilogue 165
Acknowledgments 191
Notes 193
Selected Bibliography 205
Index 213


Today, Diane and I host our Annual Buffalo Bills Party. We invite some of our friends, provide pizza, chicken wings, wine, assorted beverages and Peanut M&Ms. Desserts include carrot cake, chocolate cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes with sprinkles, and pumpkin cupcakes. Our friends usually bring the salads, shrimp, appetizers, and beer.

The Buffalo Bills return to Met-Life Stadium after their incredible come-back game against the Jets last Sunday. Today, the Bills face the NY Giants who got stomped 35-17 by the Cowboys last week despite generating 470 yards of offense. Eli Manning threw for more than 300 yards in that losing effort. The Giants defense allowed several big passing plays. The Giants’ All-World running back, Saquon Barkley, rushed for more than a 100 yards. I’m guessing Eli will be feeding Saquon the ball much more in this game.

The Bills are 2-point favorites in this game. I’m expecting a close game (and hoping for a win). How will your favorite NFL team fare today?


Yes, I actually owned the issue of GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION (January 1953) that featured this robot cover by Ed Emshwiller. Robots in American Popular Culture explores how robots entered the American consciousness. Steve Carper traces the evolution of robots from clunky machines to sexbots. Carper provides a lot of history of the development of robots, both real and imaginary. Good robots and bad robots (aka, terminators) are all discussed in context of science fiction and American society. If you’re a fan of robots, this book is a must-read. My only quibble with Robots in American Popular Culture is the lack of robot artwork. Other than the iconic cover, the pages are lacking artwork with the variety of robots. Maybe in the next edition… Are you a fan of robots? Would you buy one? GRADE: A-
Introduction 1
Part One: The Robot ­Pre-Computer 9
1. The Robot and the Android: The Origin of the Species 11
2. The Heimlich Maneuver: Robots in Early Fiction 21
3. Is It Mechanism or Soul? Robots on the Stage 35
4. The Wonderful Walking Mechanical Men 46
5. “Quiet, Please—I’m Talking”: The Westinghouse Family of Robots 64
6. Iron Monster Turns Traitor: Amateur Robots 74
7. Buck, Flash, Tillie and Mickey: Robots in Comic Strips 89
8. A Tribe of Living Mechanical Men! Robots in Comic Books 110
9. Utterly Alien and Nonhuman: The Robot in Golden Age Science Fiction 128
10. The Automaton! Robots in Movies 148
Part Two: The Robot ­Post-Computer 157
11. Robots as Camp 159
12. Robots and Kids 172
13. Robots as Androids 192
14. Robots as Sexbots 208
15. Robots as Enemies 220
16. Robots, Robots Everywhere 229
Chapter Notes 245
Bibliography 261
Index 285

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #546: Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy Compiled by Desirina Boskovic

Lost Transmissions: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy compiled by Desirina Boskovicas is a browser’s delight! And, of course, Lost Transmissions has a wonderful Paul Lehr cover, too! I enjoyed the essays of Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Nisi Shawl, Molly Tanzer, Charlie Jane Anders, Lev Grossman, Jeff VanderMeer, and other knowledgeable writers.

Favorites include “The Weird World ofMervyn Peake’s Gormenghast,” “Harland Ellison’s Legendary Lost Anthology,” The Outerworldly Visions of Philip K. Dick,” “On Viriconium: Sone Notes Toward an Introduction” by Neil Gaiman, and the eye-popping artwork in the ART AND DESIGN section. All in all, Lost Transmissions is the best table-top Science Fiction book of 2019! Don’t miss it! GRADE: A
Forward by Jeff Vadndermere viii
Introduction xi
Kepler’s Proton-Science Fiction Manuscripts Somnium and its Legal Consequences 2
How Jules Verne’s Worst Rejection Letter Shaped Science Fiction…for 150 Years 6
Jane Webb Loudon’s The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Christie Yant 9
Early Feminist Utopias, from Gilman’s Herland to Rokeya’s Sultana’s Dream 13
The “Timeless Green Kingdoms” of George MacDonald 18
The Inklings: A Friendship that Changed Fantastic Literature Forever 26
Henry Dumas’s Foundational Afrofuturism by John Jennings 29
The Author of the Narnia Books Worked on a Mega-Creepy Time Travel Story…Probably 31
The Weird World of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast 36
The New Wave and New-Metal Men: The Almost-Forgotten Brilliance of David R. Bunch 39
The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe 43
Harlan Ellison’s Legendary Lost Anthology 45
The Otherworldly Visions of Philip K. Dick 48
The Empress of the Sensual: Kathy Acker by Nick Mamatas 53
On Viriconium: Some Notes Toward an Introduction by Neil Gaiman 56
The Salvage Yard: Real-Life Experiences Revisited in Science Fiction by Darran Anderson 61
The Dark Fairy Tales of Angela Carter 64
Funny Fantasy’s Myth Conceptions by David Barr Kirtley 68
It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s Apocalypse by Grady Hendrix 70
Forward to John Shirley’s City Come a Walkin’ by William Gibson 73
An Interview with John Shirley 76
An Interview with Thomas Olde Heuvelt 81
An Interview with Karen Joy Fowler 85
Le Voyage duns la Lume, The First Science-Fiction Film Ever Made 92
Metropolis: The Long Shadow of the Never Seen 95
THX 1138: A Decidedly Un-Lucas-Like Production 99
The Enduring Creations of Ralph McQuarrie 101
The Death Star’s Architect: Concept Artist John Berkey 103
Star Wars vs. Battlestar Galactica: The Legal Battle Over Space Opera’s Look 105
“The Spice Must Flow”: Iterations of Dune 108
“The Tourist”: The Alien Sex Film Noir We Deserve 115
The Unicorn-Like Creations of Moebius, Concept Artist by Meg Alison 118
How WarGames Changed American Military Policy 120
The Alien III(s) That Might Have Been 122
Behold, the Science-Fiction Comic Horror of Phase IV! by Paul Tremblay 129
A Boy and His Goblin: E.T.’s Creepy Origin Story 132
The Overlooked Genius of Space Island One by Charlie Jane Anders 136
The (Very) Secret Adventures of Jules Verne by Emily Asher Perrin 138
James Cameron’s Explorations of the Watery Depths On-Screen and in Real Life 141
Hugh Ferriss: Draftsman, Theorist, Gotham Visionary 146
Dreams in the Desert: The Utopian Vision of Paolo Soleri 148
Reality Ahead of Schedule: The Deisgns of Did Mead by Matthew Kresel 151
Weird Tales Regular, Pulp Illustrator Virgil Finlay 156
The Surrealist Stylings of Richard M. Powers by Stephen Sonneveld 159
The Dreamy Atmospheres of Painter Paul Lear 160
Space and Science-Fiction Artist David A. Hardy 163
Psychedelic Master Bob Pepper 164
A New Realism: Contemporary Cover Artist Michael Whelan 165
On Fantasy Maps by Lev Grossman 166
Science-Fiction Storytelling in the 1960s and ’70s, Set to Music 172
Astro Black by Nisi Shawl 175
The Who’s Liflong Search for the “One Note” 178
Sweet Bye and Bye and Speculative Fiction in Musical Theatre 181
X-Ray Spex, Poly Styrene, and Punk Rock Science Fiction Annalee Newitz 183
Speculative Music of the New Millennium 190
The Timeless Brilliance of of Deltron 3030 Mark Oshiro 194
The Science-Fiction Soundscapes of Porcupine Tree 196
Metropolis Meets Afrofutrism: The Genius of Janelle Monae 198
Plenty of Pockets: Fashion in Feminist Utopian SFF By Penny. A. Weiss & Brennin Weiswrda 204
The Fashion Futurism of Elizabeth Hates and Rudi Gernreich By Ekaterin Sedia
David Bowie’s Queer Glam Futuristic Fashion By Meg Alison 212
Textile Arts Are Worldbuilding, too By Jeannette Ng 215
Savage Beauty: Alexander McQueen By Genevieve Valentine 218
The Surreal Potential of the World’s Most Mysterious Manuscript 222
Celebrity Robots of the Great Depression By Selena Chambers 227
The Historical and Literary Origins of Assassin’s Creed 223
Jack Kirby, the King of Comics 232
Valerian, the Popular French Comic Series that Inspired a Generation 236
Beyond D&D: Lesser-Known Fantasy Role-Playing Games By Frank Romero 239
Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play: A Grim World of Perilous Adventure By Molly Tanzer 241
Kentaro Miura, Grandmaster of Grimdark By Jesse Bullington 243
The Ambitions of BioForge 245
The Massive Artificial Landscape of Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! 247
Raelism: The Space-Age Message of the Elohim By Robert Levy 250
CyberCity: Hackers, Virtual Reality, and the Games of War 252
On the Internet, No One Knows You Aren’t a (Gay) Wizard: An Ode to Fan Fiction By K. M. Szpara 255
The Time of the Mellon Chronicles By Silas K. Barrett 258
An Interview with Hugh Howey 261
Contributor Biographies 266
Sources and Credits 278
Index 272
Acknowledgements 276