May 17, 2004


When I talk about SF being about the possibility of a different world, this is the kind of thing I mean. John Brunner could be horrifyingly depressing. Consider, for example, The Sheep Look Up - the prototype of the environmental catastrophy novel. But, this was the same man who wrote Stand on Zanzibar a novel which one reviewer (Thomas Disch I think) said described an absolutely horrible world which is nonetheless better in almost every respect than the one we have.

What I most prize in an SF story is to find a world which I couldn't imagine wanting to live in, but which is still credibly better than this one. The only thing still better is a world which seems to fit my intentions and sucks even worse than this world. The first makes me dream, the second makes me think.

There will be no SF in my life for a little while. My Russian exam starts at 6pm tonight. Then, it's Chinese tomorrow night, and my Russian oral on Wednesday. I've decided to register for the one month intensive Dutch if, as advertised, they really will be doing level 3 Dutch. Thursday is the beginning of a four-day weekend. I'll need it. My new Dutch class will be starting Tuesday and my Chinese oral is Wednesday next week. Then, it's back to work in a big way. Big project, gotta be done by October.

Posted 2004/05/17 15:59 (Mon) | TrackBack

Heel veel succes gewenst met je studies. Mocht je in oktober eindelijk weer tijd hebben voor wat ontspanning, dan kan ik je Eddy C. Bertin aanraden, een Vlaamse science fiction schrijver en volgens mij de beste sf schrijver in het Nederlands taalgebied.

Posted by: Martin Wisse at May 19, 2004 13:38

Eddy C. Bertin... Ik weette niet dat er Vlaamse SF schrijvers waren. I hoop dat ik na deze klas goed genoeg Nederlands ga hebben om romans en kranten gemakkelijk te lezen. Ik hoop dat na deze project ik genoeg tijd ga hebben om meer te lezen, in Nederlands zoals in Frans en Engels.

You know, there's nothing like an impending oral exam in Russian (three hours away now) to make your Dutch seem real fluent.

Posted by: Scott Martens at May 19, 2004 15:28

Ну и как, сдал? Большого успеха дальше!

Ik zou het leuk vinden, als ik net zo goed Nederlands als Russisch kon spreken... volgende maandag heb ik een afspraak voor een "inburgeringsonderzoek," en als mijn taalniveau niet voldoende is zal ik een klote cursus moeten volgen.

P.S.: ik wist niet

Posted by: vaara at May 19, 2004 18:10

Wim Gijsen was ook een goede Nederlandstalige sciencefiction- en fantasyschrijver.

Posted by: Peter at May 20, 2004 14:12

By the way, do you speak Spanish, Scott?

Posted by: Pedro at May 25, 2004 1:01

Pedro - un poqueno. I studied Spanish in Indiana a long time ago, but not for terribly long. I can read basic Spanish and get the gist of things, but subtilties of verbal tense and aspect miss me entirely. I can follow Mexican TV too - I used to watch Telemundo and Univision in California - but Eurospanish is harder for me to follow. I get TVE now, and I almost never watch it because it's much harder for me to understand.

I ought to do Spanish. I ought to just go somewhere cheap and Latin American and do six months of immersion. I expect that would be enough to do. I don't think I would find it terribly hard to learn. It's just that there have always been higher priorities.

Posted by: Scott Martens at May 25, 2004 9:38


I ask because there are a few people in important places in a tiny Latin American country who have expressed interest in flying you there to give a talk or two. Unfortunately, Spanish is a must. But there's always the possibility of booking a translator. The deal is pretty sweet for Latin American standards. They pay your airfare, and your living expenses for four days or so. You get to give a talk or two to University professors (people with the equivalent of undergraduate degrees in social sciences) on a topic of your choice, provided it relates to globalization in at least a tangential way. This isn't an official invitation yet, but do think about whether you'll have time in the near future for something like this.

Posted by: Pedro at May 25, 2004 18:12

Pedro, yes it's possible in fall. I am going to take time off in October, and I'm owed nearly a month of time off. I have to go to a wedding in Winnipeg first and I need to check the exact date for that. But then, I can arrange something.

I have to have my report in to the sponsors of the company's research in September and I can't go before that.

Posted by: Scott Martens at May 25, 2004 21:27

Is there *something* you want to tell me??? Are *we* taking a Latin American holiday this fall or are you planning to run away without me for a few weeks???!

Posted by: The Little Mrs. at May 27, 2004 20:19

I enjoy trying to read pulp fiction in languages I don't actually know, such as Norwegian (Mickey Spillane, "Lev Hardt" I think it was called). The plots, etc., are predictable enought that you can guess pretty effectively. You need to know a related language of course -- it worked with Norwegian and Catalan, but not at all with Polish or Finnish.

Posted by: Zizka at May 28, 2004 7:30
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