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Odds and ends

“The American academic scientist earns less than an airplane mechanic, has less job security than a drummer in a boy band, and works longer hours than a Bolivian silver miner,” notes Philip Greenspun, a humorist, pilot, prolific blogger, a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science, and a software engineering teacher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

And it’s worse if you’re female. Read more of the article at Inventor’s Digest. This is something I have some personal experience with, and some strong feelings about, and a problem that a lot of people don’t even recognize.

Changing the subject completely, this article on “Create, Connect, and Consume” was fascinating. The basic premise is that creative professionals interact with the world in three ways: creating their own art, connecting with people, and taking in information from elsewhere. All three are necessary, and the things we devote time to should serve one or more of those areas.

And a third and final topic switch: from an interview with Mike Resnick reprinted at Suvudu:

Athans: Please define “fantasy” in 25 words or less.

Resnick: Fantasy is fiction that purposely and knowingly breaks one or more of the known laws governing the universe.

Athans: Please define “science fiction” in 25 words or less.

Resnick: Science fiction is concerned with an alternative past, an altered present, or an imagined future and obeys the known laws governing the universe.

Nice short definitions, as you might expect from Resnick. But I’d go further and add that anything that sounds like science but has no justification is really fantasy. As Russ Colson says, if you can substitute the word “magic” into the sentence and have it make just as much sense, you aren’t really writing science fiction.


  1. Mike Resnick says:

    My friend, the late George Effinger, was fond of saying: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from doubletalk.”

  2. Sarah says:

    But then, so is any sufficiently advanced handwaving. And in fiction, it’s hard to tell the two apart. It isn’t always easy in real life either.