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Moving Forward:
Life in a Science-Fiction Novel

April 24th, 2020

A few months back, while prepping for The International Conference on the Fantastic, I wrote a piece titled “Existential Threats” that considered how social media and digital tech were reshaping our culture. The essay centered on two sf classics, Ray Bradbury’s “The Murderer” (pictured at left) and Arthur C. Clarke’s “Dial F for Frankenstein.” Since the conference would focus on the Anthropocene, I figured the essay would fit nicely into … [read more at The 21st Century Scop].

Fiction for the Ears:
Storytelling for Shut-Ins

March 30th, 2020

[…] there would be three months of enforced isolation and leisure, between the harvest that takes place just before the rise of the swamps and the clearing of new farms when the water goes down […]. As the swamps rose, the old men found it too difficult the walk from one homestead to the next, and […] as the swamps rose even higher all activities but one came to an end […]. They drank and sang or they drank and told stories.

The above is from “Shakespeare in the Bush” (1966) by anthropologist Laura Bohannan. Recounting the activities of a Nigerian tribe during the rainy season, it serves as a reminder that … [read more at 21st-Century Scop].

Surviving World War C:
Music to Span the Social Distance

March 24th, 2020

Last week’s post offered a list of “Podcasts for Shut-Ins,” which included what was then an unreleased installment of Inside The Hive. Although I had expected that podcast to feature an interview with screenwriter Scott Burns (Contagion), it instead offered a conversation with radio host Kai Ryssdal (Marketplace). Titled “Coronovirus against the World,” the interview concluded with Ryssdal giving some sage advice: “You got to know what the news is, but you don’t have to know what it is all the time. Just check in once or twice a day and then take care of yourself.”

So let’s assume that you have addressed the latter. You are stocked up, settled in, and asymptomatic. Situation stable. Now what?

This time, I’d like to offer some music recommendations. And, in keeping with this blog’s consideration of the writing life, we’ll focus on the work of contemporary writers who are also musicians.

[Read and hear more at The 21st Century Scop.]

Podcasts for Shut-Ins:
Tune In, Hunker Down

March 19th, 2020

I’ve been trying to track down a piece that I heard on NPR following the 9-11 attacks. I can’t remember who delivered it, but the voice in my memory sounds like Scott Simon. It was a reflective piece about the uncertainty felt in the aftermath of the attacks, a time when the country was bracing for an uncertain future.

As I recall, the commentator contrasted the moment with bombings in Europe during WWII, when people would hunker down and await the all-clear. The piece ended with the question: Will there ever be an all-clear this time?

[Read more at The 21st-Century Scop.]