The Reluctant Paladin

August 30, 2009

I had a friend send me a link to a blog I hadn’t seen before. The Reluctant Paladin has some very interesting posts.


If the image above isn’t moving, click to view the animation.


Libraries and eBooks

August 25, 2009

There has been a LOT of blogs, news articles, essays and flame wars on how eBooks are either A) Destroying the publishing industry or B) a new cultural wave that will revolutionize our society.

Anyone who has chatted with me knows that I love the idea of eInk technology. I’m looking forward to getting a Plastic Logic reader or perhaps a Bebook sometime in the next year or so. I’m not found of the Kindle or the Sony Reader for several reasons, but they have already made a huge difference in how the general public handles eBooks.

Now we have something new to deal with that will have some wide repercussions.

Consider your local, public libray.  It purchases a dead-tree book from a publisher, then loans it out to one person at a time. Back in the early part of the 20th century, there were a lot of lawsuits by publishers who tried to stop this practice. Their business models depended on every reader paying for every book read. The courts upheld the practice that a purchaser, like a library, could loan, sell or give away the book anytime they wished. Over time, the book would wear out, it would become dog-eared, the binding would fail and it would eventually become unreadable.

Now, we step forward to the 21st century and we have ebooks.  An eBook does not wear out. What is more important, is that any copy is just as good as the original.

The latest development is that the new Sony Daily Reader is a bit larger at seven inches and it has a wireless internet connection built in. Sony has worked out a system where libraries who are already collecting eBooks can now download one to the Sony Daily Reader for free.

Now we all know that both Sony and Amazon are big proponents of DRM and will do all they can to limit what you can do with these eBook files. But the truth is, any file you load onto a system can be copied one way or another.

I’m curious as to what sort of questions come to mind when my faithful readers consider this latest development.

My previous post has a great piece of dialog from The Avatar, by Poul Anderson. But that is just barely scratching the surface of this fun book.

At first glance, this appears to be a light-hearted space opera that deals with first contact with an alien species and indeed, one may accept it at that.  It does take the reader on a well-thought-out roller coaster ride that addresses xenophobia, socialism, technology and of course, what it means to be human.

I believe this 1978 paperback is out of print, but if you find one at a garage sale, library or bookstore, or Amazon, do yourself a great favor and grab it. Take the time to savor the writing as the like is seldom seen these days.

I give it my top rating and call it GREAT!


Many of my readers know that I used to be very active in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Poul Anderson, along with Marion Zimmer Bradley were among the founders of the SCA.

His device (coat of arms for the uninitiated) reflected his creativity as well as his sense of humor. It was a polaxe under a golden sunburst. Think about it.


Great quote!

August 16, 2009

This weekend, I was poking around a thrift shop (as I’m wont to do) and picked up a handful of cheap paperbacks. They were all books I have read before, but since they are so good and so cheap, I decided to reread and then pass them on to some deserving friends.

One of them is a 1979 novel by Poul Anderson called “The Avatar”. It has been a long time since I’ve read any of Anderson’s work and this is a pleasant surprise. So much so, that I want to share a few sample paragraphs.

“…How could a bird get born?”

He hoisted himself to sit cross-legged beside her. “The same way an idea gets hatched,” he suggested.

“Aye,” she responded quickly. “see, Einstein brooded long over his – they had to bring him food and tobacco where he sat – until one fine day the egg went crack and a little principle of special relativity peeped forth, all wet and naked, and then the poor man must scurry to and fro fetching long wiggly equations to stuff down its beak, but at last it was grown to be a grand big cock of a general relativity theory and the quantum mechanics came to build a proper perch for it.”

Isn’t that just lovely?

There will be more to come of this review when I finish the tale.