Historian tells tales of murder, vampires

By Kay Fitzpatrick at Nashoba Publishing
An extra chill was added to an already brisk October night when “Haunted History of New England” came to Lawrence Library. Historian Christopher Daley regaled the standing-room only crowd with ghosts tales tied to some of the region’s historical characters and locales.

The evening’s first story was about Mercy Brown, the vampire of Exeter, R.I. Daley explained that during the 19th century, vampires were not portrayed as bloodsucking creatures but instead as zombies whose presence drained the life from the living.

Mercy’s mother and sister died of consumption (tuberculosis), and a few years later, her brother Edwin also contracted the highly contagious disease and went to Colorado to seek a cure. Mercy came down with “galloping consumption” — an especially virulent form of TB, and died in January 1892. Her brother returned in March, and he too began to fade, and his doctor blamed Mercy for it.

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Sci-Fi Writer Iain Banks Talks Surface Detail’s Hell, Creationist Heresy

Iain M. Banks’ latest novel, Surface Detail, is a grand addition to his long-running science fiction series known as the Culture novels, named after the sprawling civilization which dominates his space opera’s universes.

Banks has used the Culture novels to make space opera his own, and the results are a delight — intelligent, cleverly structured novels bursting with a Dickensian excess of detail, characters and ideas, all held together with extremely tight plotting. When does this story happen in relation to the chronology of the previous Culture novels?

Iain M. Banks: This one takes place about 800 years later on in the chronology of the Culture, that’s why you’ve now got the whole potential of the turf wars, because Contact has hived off itself into different bits and there are various bureaucratic evolutions going on within the Contact section itself.

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Ringworld 40th Anniversary: Getting the Most out of Ringworld

Bruce “Spike” R. MacPhee and David “Lensman” Sooby at Tor
The term “future history” was coined for editor John W. Campbell to describe a series of stories Robert Heinlein was writing for Astounding Science Fiction magazine in the 1940s. As used in the science fiction genre, the term implies more than just a series of stories set in the same universe. The term “future history” is applied to a series that spans an extended period of time. In fact, authors of future histories invariably report it is necessary to write down an outline of the events and changes to society and technology, which occur during various periods of the timeline. Heinlein started this trend with his famous chart. Other future histories include Poul Anderson’s Technic Civilization, Cordwainer Smith’s Lords of the Instrumentality, H. Beam Piper’s TerroHuman Future History, Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth, and Larry Niven’s Known Space.

“Spike” MacPhee (one of this article’s authors) ran the Science-Fantasy Bookstore in Harvard Square, Cambridge Massachusetts, from 1977 to 1989, and so was able to observe people’s reading patterns. In 1977, as a new bookstore clerk, he had many duties, but also time to observe human behavior puzzles. One of these was the case of readers new to Larry Niven’s worlds, who started to explore them by first buying Ringworld. Why then did only one-third of them try more of his books? The normal author continuation rate, he had observed, was roughly one-half. How could he improve this rate for Niven?

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Where Is “The Mammoth Book of Sci-Fi Romance”?

by Heather Massey at The Galaxy Express
I know there are much more important things to worry about, but wahhh, where is my hypothetically titled “The Mammoth Book of Sci-Fi Romance”? I want to read it. Where can I buy it? What’s that, you say? You mean it doesn’t exist? Wahhhh!!!

Okay, so that steampunk one sounds fun, but after my last post, I started to wonder why no one seems to believe that science fiction romance is worthy of a spot in the Mammoth series. Yes, I know: SFR is still a niche subgenre. Books with “paranormal” in the title will automatically sell more copies. Many readers still aren’t sure if they’re ready for a combination of SF and romance.

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Are you a fan of Ringworld? Do you like the Culture series? Do you think there should be a Mammoth book of Sci Fi Romance?