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October 23rd, 2012

Update... death, asteroids, and writing

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted here; I've been busy with unimportant things, and then the recent deaths of people close to LJ friends of mine has made my minor events seem so trivial by comparison that I hesitate to even mention my own affairs. (Not to mention that I feel utterly powerless to say anything beyond the obvious: I mourn my friends' losses, and celebrate the lives that they were able to share. Some of them would, no doubt, be amused -- or appalled -- to hear that they were being prayed for at My Place of Work.) For my own part, an elderly Jesuit who was an important part of my novitiate and who had stayed in touch over the years also died this past week. (Quietly in his sleep; he was 85.)

Last week was spent in Reno, at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences. (I had more fun at the Worldcon there last year; this time we were isolated in a huge casino. The one time I stepped outside, police cars and a police helicopter happened to be circling the enormous parking lot, as if to prevent my escape.) The best part was connecting up with so many old friends. The frightening thing was recognizing the double edge of "old" in that statement, tempered by the joy of seeing so many good young scientists joining the field. The most inspiring paper I heard was one that I disagreed with, completely and violently; it will, perhaps, inspire me to write up something of my own diametric views on the topic. (It was about models for the evolution of asteroids, the minutiae of which I hesitate to outline here... but I might, anyway. If dared.)

Meanwhile, my Tigers are in the World Series (yay!) but facing a team that is charmed and thus probably unbeatable. I may be a scientist in most things, but when it comes to sports I am a firm believer in magic (and the occasional miracle).

This month I had a dozen writing projects to accomplish, and I have done all but one of them -- the review of a book on the philosophy of astrobiology. It's not a bad book. And I do know something about the subject. It's even well written. I just find the topic itself to be boring... because while the author does address interesting questions, they're just not the questions that I am interested in. I don't get the feeling that I will learn anything that I care about in the half of the book that I have yet to read.

By contrast, in my odd moments I find myself re-reading the Lee and Miller space opera series. I could tell you in detail all the flaws in these books... having read each of them at least four times so far. Among books I have finally encountered for the first time, I just finished the River of the World books by my LJ friend desperance . I am constantly amused at the contrast between his gentle LJ persona and the gritty things he writes. But (at the risk of embarrassing him here) -- damn, they were good. And the ending was perfect... if, sadly, all too realistic.

Speaking of writing, I have gotten a couple more assignments (for the far distant future, which means I won't even think about them until the deadline has arrived) and my agent reports that our book proposal for Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial has been submitted by an editor at a Major Publisher to her Pub. Board. We were expecting an answer today, but nothing yet.



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