Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.

7/31/2008

Happy Birthday, Ms. Rowling!

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Today is J.K. Rowling’s Birthday!

If you don’t know who J. K. Rowling is, well, you certainly haven’t been paying attention. She is, in short, the creator of Harry Potter and crew. As a divorced, single mother struggling to scrape by on public assistance, aka “the Dole”, in the UK, she wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which she sold astonishingly quickly for a first time author. The book went on to become a wonderfully popular hit with adults and kids alike. At the same time she wrote the first book, she plotted out the rest of the series and started drafts of those books as well. Each year after that first release a new book in the series has come out, for a total of seven.

I know many people who dislike the books for their simplicity or how they handle magic or any of a number of reasons, but, as far as I’m concerned, anything that can get so many kids reading books again, instead of suckling at the glass teat, is okay with me.

I hope Ms. Rowling will keep writing after the series is done. She’s a good one, even if she does write kids books!
Happy Birthday, Ms. Rowling!

7/26/2008

Three Birthdays

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Three birthdays today, all brought to you by way of the Writer’s Almanac.

Today is the birthday of Carl Jung, who was born in Kesswil, Switzerland in 1875. His father was a pastor who was losing his faith. This so shocked Jung as a boy that he decided to become a scientist instead of a minister in order to scientifically prove that religion was important. He is considered the founder of analytic psychology.
More importantly to writers, he noticed that myths and fairytales from all kinds of different cultures have certain similarities, which he called “archetypes”. He believed that these universal archetypes come from a collective unconscious that all humans share. He said that if people get in touch with these archetypes in their own lives, they will be happier and healthier.
He and Sigmund Freud were contemporaries and they even collaborated for a few years, but finally decided that they disagreed with each other’s ideas. Jung thought Freud was too obsessed with sex, and Freud thought Jung was too obsessed with God.

It’s also the birthday of science-fiction writer Aldous Huxley, who was born in Surrey, England on this day in 1894. Huxley wanted to be a scientist like his grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley, but a childhood disease left him almost blind, so he became a writer. His first successful novel was Point Counter Point, which was an extremely ambitious book. Huxley decided that his next book would be something light. He had been reading some H.G. Wells and thought it would be interesting to try to write something about what the future might be like. The result was Brave New World, about a future in which most human beings are born in test-tube factories, genetically engineered to belong in one of five castes: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. There are no families; people have sex all the time and never fall in love, and they keep themselves happy by taking a drug called “soma.”
Brave New World was one of the first novels to predict the future existence of genetic engineering, test-tube babies, anti-depression medication, and virtual reality.

And, finally it’s also the birthday of playwright George Bernard Shaw, born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856. He wrote dozens of plays, but he’s best known for his play Pygmalion, about what happens when a phonetician named Henry Higgins teaches a cockney flower girl named Eliza Doolittle to pass as a lady.
Shaw had an opinion about everything, and eventually became famous more for his personality than for his writing. He was a vegetarian and a pacifist, he didn’t drink, and he believed Christmas should be abolished. In 1925, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died 25 years later in 1950 at the age of 94.
He is now one of the most widely quoted writers in the English language.
He said, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” And he said, “All great truths begin as blasphemies.” And he said, “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.”

7/21/2008

Happy Birthday, Ernest!

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Today is Ernest “Papa” Hemingway’s birthday.

He was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1899. Hemingway snuck off to fight in World War I when he was just 17. He had bad eyesight, so he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross in Italy. Just about a month after he got to Italy, he was hit by shrapnel from an exploding shell. He spent weeks in the hospital and then came back home to his parents in Oak Park.

After his parents got tired of him hanging around, he started writing stories for Chicago newspapers and magazines, and then got a job as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Daily Star and went off to Paris with his wife Hadley. He became friends with a lot of writers who were in Paris at the time, including Fitzgerald and Joyce and Pound and Gertrude Stein. And he wrote every day, sometimes in his apartment, sometimes in caf├ęs, but he wrote every day.

His first collection of short stories, In Our Time, came out in 1925 and the following year, his first big success, Sun Also Rises. Three years later, Farewell To Arms came out. By the 1930s, he was one of the best-known writers alive. He developed cancer and, in true “Hemingway hero” fashion, killed himself with a shotgun in 1961. But, by then, he was one of the most recognizable people on the planet.

7/7/2008

Happy Birthday, Stranger!

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Today is the birthday of Robert Heinlein.

Mr. Heinlein was born on this day in 1907 in Butler, Missouri. He wrote numerous novels and collections of short stories. He is best known for his novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, about a boy born during the first manned mission to Mars. It’s filled with values from the 60’s, including free love, new religions and “different” views on marriage. It was quite ground-breaking in its day and can still be startling to our modern, but still quite Puritanical, society. Heinlein called his books “speculative fiction” rather than “science fiction” because he liked to emphasized the idea that he was writing about things that could, possibly, come true. He tried to stick to only the scientific laws that we knew and their reasonable extrapolation. I think that’s why his work stands the test of time.
So, go read some of his work today, in celebration of his birthday.


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