Fantasist's Scroll

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


Happy Birthday, Guy Montag!

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

It’s the birthday of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who was born in Waukegan, Illinois on this day in 1920.

Bradbury is one of the most famous and well-known science-fiction writers of all time, having written a number of classics.
The story goes, that one night, Bradbury was out for a walk when a policeman pulled up on the side of the road to ask what he was doing. He said, “I was so irritated the police would bother to ask me what I was doing — when I wasn’t doing anything — that I went home and wrote [a] story.” That story became a novella called “The Fireman” and eventually grew into his first and best-known novel, Fahrenheit 451, about a man named Guy Montag who lives in a future world in which books are outlawed and burned wherever they’re found. Montag is one of the firemen whose job it is to burn the books. One night he takes a book home that he was supposed to destroy and reads it. The act of reading persuades him to join an underground revolutionary group that is keeping literature alive. Ironically, when film-maker Michael Moore used a similar title for his movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bradbury, who didn’t agree with Moore’s politics, sued him, trying to stop his use of the title, and squash free speech.

Ray Bradbury said, “I don’t try to describe the future. I try to prevent it.”


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.”


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.


Happy Birthday, Mr. Gibson!

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

Today is William Gibson’s Birthday!

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for the past twenty years, or have been freshly cloned, William Gibson is the primary progenitor of the cyberpunk movement. He’s generally credited with coining the term “cyberspace” and popularizing a somewhat more realistic, if somewhat bleak, view of the future.
He also ran away to Canada in 1968 to avoid the draft. Which is the only bad thing I can say about him. I otherwise admire his work and thought processes. Certainly his literature is beyond compare. I admire his work very much and occasionally will reread some of his short stories, just to capture the feel of his prose.

Anyway, celebrate his birthday with a little science-fiction in thanks for what he’s done for the genre.


Orange Clockworks

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

Today is the birthday of novelist and critic Anthony Burgess

He was born John Anthony Burgess Wilson in Manchester, England on this day in 1917. Though he had written several novels early in his career, none of them were particularly successful. His career took a different tur, however, when, in 1959, he began to suffer from severe headaches and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The doctor told him he only had one year to live. The diagnosis turned out to be incorrect. However, Burgess wrote five novels in that following year, the year he believed to be his last.

Though he wrote and edited a large body of work, including a fair selection of non-fiction, he’s best known for his novel A Clockwork Orange, which is perhaps most famous for the slang language he invented specifically for that work, called Nadsat.


Happy Birthday, Mr. Asimov!

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

It’s the birthday of one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century, Isaac Asimov, who was born in Petrovichi, Russia in 1920. He came with his family to the United States when he was three years old and his parents opened a candy shop in Brooklyn. Issac grew up to become a professor of biochemistry at the Boston University School of medicine and in 1950 he published his first novel Pebble in the Sky.

About the same time Asimov took part in writing a textbook for medical students and he found that he loved explaining complicated things in ordinary language, and so he set out to write about science for the general public, in language they would understand. He said, “Little by little my science writing swallowed up the rest of me.”
Asimov developed a regimen of working ten hours a day, seven days a week, producing between two and five thousand words a day. Asimov’s method was to write a book about any subject that interested him but which he didn’t fully understand. He used writing as a way of teaching himself about everything.
By 1970 Asimov had written more than a hundred books and he began branching out into areas other than science. He wrote about nuclear physics and organic chemistry, history, Greek mythology, astronomy, religion, in addition to his collections of limericks, mystery novels, autobiography and science fiction. By the time of his death in 1992 he had published more than 400 books.


A Tale of Two Birthdays

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

Today is the birthday of two very important science-fiction writers.
The first is science fiction novelist Philip K. Dick, who was born in Chicago in 1928. He wrote many novels that pushed the edge of science-fiction a little further out, making room for the cyberpunk movement to follow him. Some of his work includes Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Minority Report (which is a collection of short stories), We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (another short story collection), and A Scanner Darkly. Since his death in 1982, many of his novels and short stories have been made into movies, including Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990) and Minority Report (2002).

It’s also the birthday of the science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke, who was born in Somerset, England in 1917. He’s the author of many science fiction novels, including Childhood’s End, 2001: A Space Odyssey(which was written in the year of my birth!), and Rendevous with Rama. He is also famous for inventing the concept of the communications satellite.


Happy Birthday, Frank!

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

Today is Frank Herbert’s Birthday.

Of course, we haven’t had him with us since 1986, the year I graduated from high-school, but his work lives on. Mr. Herbert is primarily known for his seminal work, Dune, and the other books in the series that followed. Though, interestingly enough, he never intended to write sequels.
Often refered to as the science-fiction Lord of the Rings, the Dune series of books detail an amazingly rich science-ficiton culture. The novels are some of the first science-fiction to have detailed political and sociological sub-plots, not to mention ecological sub-plots! The way Mr. Herbert used religion in his work is quite interesting as well. In a genre that often avoids discussing religion, he explored the topic in detail and with a depth that was personally inspiring.

There hasn’t been anyone else quite like Frank Herbert and I am in awe of the ways in which he influenced the genre, which is why I celebrate this every year.

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