Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The last of the Big Three Sci Fi Writers Dies

In the Science Fiction writing world, there are three writers who wrote books that almost transcended everything. Frank Herbert with his ecological themes, Isaac Asimov with his Generational Government and population themes and last but definitely not least, Arthur C. Clarke with his Scientific themes. Herbert died in 1986, Asimov in April 1996.

Everyone always thought of Clarke as the best of the three because of his scientific knowledge which seemed to go into his stories in a manner which could be easily implemented and believed. But whether you think any one of the three were the best, all of them are now gone and the world is a lessor place because of it.

For this writer and reader, these three writers were a main stay of my library with first editions of each in it. Of course, having read many books outside the main stream by these authors, I can tell you without hesitation that not everything they wrote was great. But the overall package was far greater than the average writer could ever hope to achieve. With careers spanning more then 50 years each, Herbert, Asimov, and Clarke had a style which is lost on today's writers.

In the stories written by the big three, you could always count on the fact that the stories they had written would paint not only a unique world or universe, but also that their characters would be rich, deep and well rounded. No shallow characters for these writers.

And now here we are 22 years after Herbert died and now all three are gone. Lost are the new stories that they would have written. And at 90 years old, Clarke was the longest lived of the three. But you can say that he gave us all of those years in 2001, 2010, 2061, and finally 3001.

For the science fiction world, I guess the challenge now will be to find the next big three that will affect the next generation of readers.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Are terorists targeting the Olympics?

China has announced that it has broken up a terrorist group that was targeting the olympics. The group known as ETIM, while as small as a couple of dozen members, has been all but wiped out by the raid which killed two and left 15 in custody.

While the Chinese are playing up this incident, many are a bit hesitant to agree that it was really terrorism. But based on the history of the Olympics and the fact that is has been a target with the Munich and Atlanta incidents, we have to take this threat seriously.

Unfortunately, the Olympics are the highest profile event there is with more than 150 countries participating in the event. Terrorists see this as a chance to make their impact upon the world, spreading fear. It has not worked out very well in the past but with the damage that 9/11 caused, it is bound to be similar in impact if they are successful.

I for one applaud the amount of effort the Chinese are putting into stopping these idiots. It is high time that the terrorists were stopped and that events like this were respected for the good that they bring to the people of the world.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Olympic Facilities in Beijing...and Censorship

The 2008 summer Olympic Games are upon us. Almost. And befitting of the timing, this week, the Chinese government gave tours of the new olympic housing facilities to the media. While spartan by normal standards, I am sure that compared to the normal chinese home that these temporary housing units for the athletes are better than many of those used by every day Chinese.

Running water is the hot item and definitely a must have when you are living in a dormitory type situation and competing on the highest level there is for athletics. But that brings us to the one item which the Chinese are not being so open about.

Internet access and transmissions apparently will be available but will be subject to the same stringent safeguards as the official government line says. What this means is that those athletes who plan on blogging their experiences will find that their words are being scrutinized by people who agenda it is to prevent any dissension among its people.

Free speech which is enjoyed in many countries is not enjoyed by the most populous nation on the earth and will not be enjoyed by any of the athletes coming to beijing this summer. Those who have politically tuned blogs will particularly need to be wary of the censors and would more likely be better off doing a daily journal and posting those to the blog once they leave China.

A more interesting way would be to post to the blog and then when they get home, post the real materials. It will be particularly interesting to find out what the government feels is worthy of their time and efforts. Any one care to take this one on?