Archive for May, 2005

Dread Empire’s Fall

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

This is going to be another one of those go-out-and-buy-it reviews. Dread Empire’s Fall: The Praxis and Dread Empire’s Fall: The Sundering are the beginning of a lovely space opera by Walter Jon Williams. There’s romance and inbred aristocracy and slow-motion space battles and of course a dread empire falling. I couldn’t put it down.

The dread empire has an intriguing philosophy I would have liked to see more of. It banned all those troublesome non-space-operatic technologies like immortality and artificial intelligence, leaving a familiar milieu that reminded me mostly of Lois McMaster Bujold (who, by the way, has another Chalion book out).

But in a good way. If you liked her space opera but want something with more of a bite, you’ll love Dread Empire’s Fall. (If you prefer her lighter moments, WJW has done some comic space opera, too—though you won’t find it here.) The next installment of the series is due out in November 2005. See his FAQ for the titles.

Return of the American Chestnut

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

See GNXP for the exciting tale of the return of the American chestnut tree, Castanea dentata, wiped out by chestnut blight over 50 years ago. They say they’re “breeding” a new blight-resistant strain, but I wonder if genetic engineering is also involved.

If you’d like to help restore the King of the Forest, consider a donation to The American Chestnut Foundation.

Random Link Day

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

Actually, these links are fresher and less random than my usual link dumps. Here you go:

Muse Abuse

Saturday, May 21st, 2005

Tiger link of the day: I suppose it has to be OK (John Gruber)

I was chatting with someone recently about people who don’t believe in the muse. I have a muse, though I haven’t seen him/her (she has several incarnations) lately, so of course I believe. I think there are three types of disbelievers:

  1. Muse Atheists: those who have never experienced the muse and dismiss everyone else’s experience, from Homer to Shakespeare to fanficcers. This type lacks imagination, so they’re unlikely to get far writing science fiction. We can dismiss their opinions out of hand as they have ours.
  2. Muse Agnostics: those who have no muse themselves but are willing to concede that other people may have the muse. I include in this category anyone who dislikes the term “muse” itself, but will tolerate talk of the unconscious or other kinds of muse-like inspiration. So they’re not so bad once you get to know them.
  3. Moms Against the Muse: those who campaign against the muse not because they disbelieve (though they probably do) but because they think the muse is bad for you, little ficcer. Hair will grow on your palms and you’ll never get anything written, just because you believe the evidence of your own creative experience. There’s a lot of this kind of mommery in writing circles; it’s not confined to the muse by any means. Mom-types can be helpful when they’re preaching at you about plot or manuscript format, but when they tell you they know the contents of your skull better that you do yourself, little ficcer, it’s best to just nod and smile.

Do people use the muse as an excuse not to write? Sure they do. People use anything and everything as an excuse not to write, but that doesn’t mean that jobs, movies, sleep, real life, computer games, depression, spouses, and children don’t exist, or are bad for you, little ficcer.

On the contrary, jobs, movies, sleep, real life, computer games, depression, and children rarely encourage a person to write. Only spouses and muses are encouraging, and of the two only the muse provides actual joy in the writing process. It’s the last thing writers should be preaching against. Some people seem to think writing doesn’t count unless you’re suffering and sweating blood while you do it, so maybe Masochists are the fourth type of muse abusers.

Victory over Emacs

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

After much experimentation, I got Emacs to build and run on Tiger. I ran mac/make-package instead of the usual configure/make/install cycle, as advised by Stefan Tilkov. That built an installer instead of the usual, but the installer worked fine. (I started with a clean checkout, but make-package wouldn’t bootstrap so I just copied a bootstrapped lisp directory over from one of my failed attempts and that worked.)

So it seems that something is messed up in the main emacs configure script in CVS, since I saw someone else suggest commenting out the link to fink. I may have lost ispell, but at least I have Emacs back.

Emacs on Tiger

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005

As I mentioned last night, I had to rebuild emacs for both MacOS 10.4.0 and 10.4.1. The second build failed, and then I screwed up my CVS (that is, my copy of the emacs source code) by trying to check out an older version. Let that be a lesson to you young’uns: Always Google first!

Google tells me I’m not alone in my emacs difficulties. I shouldn’t have been able to build Emacs for 10.4.0 and now my luck has run out. I could check out the source tree again and try a patch, but it will probably be easier to download one of the Tiger binaries that are floating around:

Of course, you could skip them all and use the built-in terminal emacs, but I prefer the GUI.

[Update] I should have downloaded Aquamacs, because the other two didn’t work. I’m trying some hacks now, but they’re not going well.

Maybe the opendarwin port would work. I also found a couple of links to 10.4.1 binaries:

True Tales of Tiger

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005

Upgrading my MacOS version is a hassle for me because I have Too Much Stuff™ on my mac. I have three virtual hosts to configure in the new Apache config file. I have Emacs to rebuild. I have too many fonts so I have to do the font cache deletion ritual. I have system hacks like CandyBar that require upgrades.

On the bright side, I now have all my fellow bloggers loaded into Safari RSS, so I can keep up with the fen without opening NetNewsWire Lite. (Safari RSS looks kind of like a LJ friends list. I could just read my LJ friends list, but Safari is so much cooler.)

And now Tiger is up to 10.4.1, so I’m building emacs again

Jade’s Latest

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

Jade has four new Voyager fics up: a J/C story, two drabbles, and a haiku. Putting them up made me realize how long it’s been since my hostees and myself have written any fic to speak of. But there may be a new Blog War in the works, so don’t despair entirely…

In the tradition of 5-minute Voyager…

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Book-a-Minute SF/F (ultra-condensed sci-fi and fantasy books). See especially the extra-condensed Collected Work of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Collected Work of Stephen King and Collected Work of H. P. Lovecraft.

Tablet Mac

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

The tablet mac has been rumored since about the time of the Lisa, but now there’s finally hard evidence in the form of a US Design Patent No. D504,899.