Fantasist's Scroll

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


Review: Pale Fire

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

I finished Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov over the weekend.
It was an interesting book, though not quite what I expected. The story, as such, is told via an introduction and a series of comments on a poem. The commentor is, or believes he is, the deposed king of an Eastern European country called Zembla. He reviews and annotates a poem, called “Pale Fire”, written by his neighbor and friend in a little, college town named New Wye, where the former king now lives in exile and teaches Zemblan and Zemblan literature to students at the local college. Frankly, it’s a little hard to tell if we are expected to believe that the view-point character is, in fact, a deposed monarch or if he’s just quietly stark, raving mad. There is plenty of evidence for either argument, but, I believe he’s living out some kind of delusion that seemed harmless and charming to his poetic neighbor, who took pity on him and befriended him.
In any case, it was an interesting book and a literary departure for me. It was also not quite what I expected from the author of Lolita. It was far more accessable than I would have thought and, though sex and homosexuality was a minor theme, not as focused on abberant behavior as I feared it might be. The insanity or delusions of the main character were quite subtle and presented in that strange, calm, almost reasonable way that only the truly insane can present their view of the world.
One of the reasons I got this book was for that ficticious kingdom and language. I was a little dissapointed that there wasn’t more Zemblan represented in the book. The few words and phrases were really just there to spice and flavor the created kingdom of Zembla. Still, it does serve as an excellent example of how a little foregin flavor can go a long way. Again, I was impressed with the subtlty with which Nabokov presented his work. He paints his word-pictures with a very fine brush. The tiny details highlight the over-sweeping whole.
So, while it was not exactly “light” reading, Pale Fire was a very pleasant read, especially for a peice of “classic literature”. I heartily reccomend it.

(And, yes, this also appeared, yesterday, on my other blog, Diary of a Network Geek. So sue me!)


Quantum Computers

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

Where’s Majel Roddenberry when you need her?
According to the Technology Review, we’re only three years away from a quantum computer. What does that mean? Calculations on an unimaginable order of magnitude greater speeds than any we’ve know so far, among other things. At least, the speeds and calculations are unimaginable to me! Really fast stuff. And, also, these computers will be able to factor all kinds of horribly complicated equations that we can only just concieve of now. Truly, it will result in a computer not too far removed from that of the U.S.S. Enterprise, which was able to calculate all sorts of obscure probabilities from pretty fuzzy word problems asked by the crew. Indeed, this might be the first step towards true machine intelligence.
Eventually, that is. The computer they’re predicting in the next three years won’t be anything close to that, but, apply Moore’s Law to that and consider the difference between the 8088’s of ten or twelve years ago to the Pentium 4’s of today. The possibilities are endless.


The Spiders

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

No, this is not a bad acid trip.
Actually, it’s a pretty interesting web comic set in the not too distant future. What’s even more interesting is that it takes place in an Islamic-centric desert country torn by war and terrorism. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought it might. And, trust me, this is a very different look at how that dynamic works. Very thought provoking.
So, check out The Spiders and get ready to be blown away.

Have a fun freaky Friday!


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.


Security Bot

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

Danger Will Robinson!
Accordingto this article on MSN, those inventive Japanese are at it agian! This time, they’ve created another piece of science-fiction: The Security Robot. According to the article, they will patrol shopping malls looking out for potential trouble. In the picture, they show a security robot putting out a fire, so I’m assuming they’ll have some safety features, like fire extinguishers. No word on whether or not they’ll have firearms built in, but I doubt it, considering the laws in Japan regarding that sort of thing. Of course, they may develop that for export…
Oh, that’d be scary. A robotic mall security guard with a gun. Like the human variety isn’t bad enough already. I just hope the designers have read Asimov’s Laws of Robotics!


Island In The Sky

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rat which is in the wee hours.
The moon is Waning Crescent

IslandInTheSkyMaking art is fun and easy!

I’ve never understood people who spend all the money on high-end graphics software only to claim they still can’t produce any art. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s not the tools, it’s the workman. I’ve seen artists who painted with coffee and rusty water. I know a guy who takes old bill-board canvas and makes collage art out of that. (In fact, I hear it sells for a pretty penny!) But, me, I’m a computer geek, so I make computer art. Hmm, I wonder if it’s worth putting a copyright statement on these?
Oh, you may notice that this is a square instead of my regular full-screen rectangle. “Why?”, you ask? Well, simple. I was over at Cingular, looking at graphics, and it occured to me that I could use their custom picture tool to send a nice picture that I created to my new phone. So, I made a square graphic that I can compress with their program and fit onto my phone’s little, square screen. It may have taken all night to render, but, I think it was worth it.
In any case, I hope you enjoy it.


Silver Bullet

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

Just in time for werewolf season.
Ha! I’m kidding about that. There is no werewolf season! You can shoot them anytime. But, only if you have a silver bullet. Not exactlly something you can pick up at the local gun store. So, what’s a would-be werewolf kilelr to do? Make your own!
Thanks to Boing Boing, is proud to bring you Popular Science’s How To Cast a Silver Bullet. No joke. Popular Science. Is casting silver bullets really all that popular? Well, anyway, now you can kill that pesky werewolf that’s been stealing your chickens or sniffing around your daughter.

(Please note: does not endorse random gunplay or irresposible werewolf slaying. If you can’t prove to authorities that you just shot a werewolf, you WILL be prosecuted for murder. Actually, you may be prosecuted for murder even if you CAN prove you shot a werewolf. Even lycanthropes have rights!)

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