Retrocomputing at City Tech Site Updated with Software Inventory

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Neuromancer for Commodore 64/128. Item in City Tech’s Retrocomputing Archive.

Recently, I posted about the new OpenLab site that I launched for “Retrocomputing at City Tech.” On the site, I included a photographic inventory of the computing hardware and peripherals that I have on-hand in my office in Namm 520. Now, I’ve added to the site with a second page that inventories a majority of the software that is in the vintage computing archive. The software archive includes games (like Neuromancer pictured above, Star Wars X-Wing and TIE Fighter, and Star Trek 25th Anniversary), productivity software (such as Microsoft Office 2004), encyclopedias (Comptons, Groliers, and Microsoft Encarta), and operating systems (Windows 95, Macintosh System 7.5, Mac OS X 10.0-10.3 and 10.5). Follow the link above to see all of the software on its original media followed by textual descriptions.

Taiwanese Publisher Who Printed My Dissertation Ruined by Inferno

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I was sad to learn that Zonghe Zhuangding, Ltd., the publisher who worked with Y’s father to print an exquisite hardcover edition of my PhD dissertation, “Brains, Minds, and Computers in Literary and Science Fiction Neuronarratives,” shuttered their business after their shop burned down. Zonghe Zhuangding provided printing and book binding services for publishers in Taiwan until the fire consumed their entire facility.

Y’s father insisted that we publish my dissertation after I defended it in 2012. Zonghe Zhuangding did an amazing job printing the book-version of my dissertation, which I had to layout with opposing running headers and other book-design features. The gold-typeface on the cover and spine look very impressive. And, the stitched-in red ribbon bookmark was a surprise bonus (see below).

After Y defended her dissertation last year, her father had her dissertation printed there, too.

N.B.: In Chinese, zhuangding means binding or book binding.

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City Tech Science Fiction Collection Inventory

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L to R: Jason Ellis, Lavelle Porter, and Jessica Roman

Over the past three days, I worked with my City Tech colleagues–Laura Westengard, Lavelle Porter, and Lucas Kwong–and student–Jessica Roman–to inventory the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. Two years ago, I began the collection’s finding aid by cataloging the 4,000+ magazines. Last year, I inventoried the collection’s nearly 1,700 monographs and anthologies. This year, we are creating an inventory of the remaining parts of the collection: scholarly journals and novels. Read details of our progress on the Science Fiction at City Tech OpenLab site here.

Harlan Ellison

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Harlan Ellison died today.

I was fortunate to have met him at Dragon*Con ’99 in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite his public controversies and cultivated abrasiveness, he demonstrated there how invested he was in his fans throughout the convention–at his readings, signings, and public performances (the Atlanta Radio Theater Company’s on-stage production of Heinlein’s “The Man Who Traveled in Elephants” with Anthony Daniels and introduced by Ray Bradbury).

I took the photo above while he was signing one of his collections for me. After his talk and before his signing, he vowed that no fans would be turned away and all would have a chance to talk and receive autographs. I thought that he was crazy considering how many people were there for him. Nevertheless, he was true to his word.

My Review of Henry Wessells’ A Conversation Larger Than the Universe Book Exhibit, Published at the Science Fiction Foundation

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The Science Fiction Foundation recently published my review of A Conversation Larger Than the Universe: Science Fiction and the Literature of the Fantastic from the Collection of Henry Wessells. The exhibit, held at The Grolier Club in New York City from Jan. 2018 through 10 Mar. 2018 offered a very interesting afternoon’s exploration of one reader’s impressive collection of books, autographs, and ephemera. While I hope that you will click through to read the full review, I include my conclusion below and a separate link to the photos that I took at the exhibition, which might be of interest to those folks who were unable to attend the short-lived display.

Personal collections tend to say more about their collectors than anything else. While the totality of the items in the collection (with the exhibit being a curated selection from the larger collection) provides one kind of map and history of the fantastic, it ultimately expresses the logic and lived experience of its collector. Wessells explains: ‘I collect by synecdoche, meiosis, and metonymy, as well as by inclination, and by ties of friendship’, and ‘My interests as a reader have often led me away from the canonical to the uncertain edges of the fantastic. Along the boundaries is often where distinctions are sharpest, where science fiction is not so much a place you get to as it is the way you went’. Wessells’s exhibited collection is as admirable as it is interesting to experience, a path off the busy Manhattan streets and into other, imagined worlds.

Read my full review here and browse photos of the exhibit here.

Interzone 14, Winter 1985/1986

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I received another eBay find today: Interzone issue 14 (Winter 1985/1986). This is a special magazine issue for me, because it contains “The New Science Fiction” manifesto by Vincent Omniaveritas (pseudonym for the science fiction writer and activist Bruce Sterling; his alter ego also appears as publisher of the zine Cheap Truth–read scanned issues here or text of each issue here).

Originally published in the Puerto Rican fanzine Warhoon, this hard-hitting call-to-arms advocates that, “We must create the native literature of a post-industrial society” (40).

This isn’t necessarily a manifesto for the movement known as cyberpunk, but many cyberpunk works fit. Instead, it is a larger artistic movement, which he describes thus at the end of the essay:

What, in short, is the New Science Fiction? How do you write it, how do you recognize it?

First, it is not the property of any editor, clique, publisher, or regional or national association. It is not a question of personal influence, creative writing classes, or apprenticeship to genre gurus. It is a question of approach, of technique. And these are its trademarks:

(1) Technological literacy, and a concern with genuine modern science as opposed to the hand-me-down pseudoscience guff of past decades.

(2) Imaginative concentration, in which extrapolations are thoroughly and originally worked out rather than patched together from previous notions.

(3) Visionary intensity, with a bold, no-holds-barred approach to sf’s mind-expanding potential.

(4) A global, 21st-century point of view, which is not bound by the assumptions of middle-aged, middle-class white American males.

(5) A fictional technique which takes the advances of the new Wave as already given, using the full range of literary craftsmanship, yet asserting the primacy of content over style and meaning over mannerism.

The New Science Fiction is a process, directed toward a goal. It is an artistic movement in the fullest sense of the word. It is the hard work of dedicated artists, who know their work is worthwhile, who treat it as such, and who push themselves to the limit in pursuit of excellent.

And it is for real. (Omniaveritas 40)

The entire manifesto is worth reading–for its historical significance, its ideas for the New Science Fiction, and its prize-fighter-like style of sending its message home blow-after-blow. You can find a copy on Archive.org’s Internet Wayback Machine here.

Works Cited

Omniaveritas, Vincent (Bruce Sterling). “The New Science Fiction.” Interzone. No. 14 (1985), pp. 39-40.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, his personal narrative twined with his intellectual accomplishments, was published in 1988. I read it midway through high school, probably in 1993. Shortly afterward, I read his book Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays when it was first released. Also during this time, I was reading books by other scientists, such as Albert Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory (1920), Richard Feynman’s The Feynman Lectures on Physics (1964), Steven Weinberg’s The First Three Minutes (1977), John Gribbin’s In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat (1984), Roger Penrose’s The Emperor’s New Mind (1989), and Michio Kaku’s Hyperspace (1994), Kip Thorne’s Black Holes & Time Warps (1994),  and many more. And, in parallel, I had gotten into reading science fiction from Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury. For me, Hawking’s cosmologies combined with science fictional imaginings were a tremendously powerful fuel feeding my incandescent wonder.

Probably in the 11th grade, my friend Marty Magda, who worked at the local Waldenbooks store, helped me track down Hawking and George Ellis’ The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time (1973). It would be dishonest of me to say that I understood this tome, but I made an attempt using what was available to me at that time to learn how to cross each cognitive hurdle–library encyclopedias; popular science books; borrowed math books; newfangled CD-ROM resources, such as Groliers, Encarta, databases; a subscription to Physics Today; the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics; and A Physicist’s Desk Reference.

These intellectual explorations led me to want to earn a degree in Physics after graduating from high school. While my life veered away from physics except as an intellectual hobby, I am very glad that Hawking’s ideas and writing were and continue to be a part of me. He will be dearly missed.