Fires Too Close For Comfort. Global warming, which is roundly denied by that round denizen of the Beltway, Jerry Falwell, is here to stay. We saw a touch of it here in Southern California this Oct/Nov 2003, and it wasn't pretty. With the ice melting on both poles, and sea levels threatening to rise dramatically in this century, cult leaders will have to find other whizzdom to impart to their sheep. When I was a kid, I remember reading about ancient Pompeii when Vesuvius blewit was raining ashes, and I remember thinking: why didn't they get the howling hello out of there? Now I've experienced this phenomenon at least twice: once during the Normal Heights fire in 1984, and again last month in the string of wildfires that set Southern California alight. Had our shuttle not burned up, and were we capable of putting people in space, they would have reported that the fires were visible from orbit. Remember the days when we used to be treated to such technological marvels? Now we are in a time loop, back in the 1960s in Vietnam. It's a clear example of "those who do not learn from history are doomed to relive it." Whatever happened to the Powell Doctrine? Instead of Powell, we have a three star general in Iraq informing those heathens that they are devil-worshippers and we are there to make Iraq safe for "Kristianity." As a Christian, I object. But nobody listens not in 2000, when the people voted for Al Gore, and not now when increasingly many people understand we disobeyed Eisenhower's dictum not to get involved in any land wars in Asia. Last time I looked, Afghanistan and Iraq are in Asia, mostly, sort of. Back then the civilian whiz kid who knew it all (despite the Generals) was MacNamara; now it's Rumsfeld. Remember these golden oldies from the Sixties? "The light is at the end of the tunnel." "We are winning this war." "We shall stay the course." "Just another 25,000 troops will do the trick." "We must involve the local Vietnamese in the direct fighting." "They will be home by Christmas" (That last was the big Korean War fairy tale). For my money, I agree that Saddam is or was a sewer rat. Personally, I would have laughed if we could have wasted that genocidal loudmouth. But we didn't. We couldn't. We couldn't waste that one guy, but we could put a huge number of American troops and supplies in harm's way in the world's oldest country where they have been chewing up invaders since halfway to the last Ice Age. Meanwhile, that $87 billion our leerless feeder is handing the Iraque sham government would have provided much-needed health care to most one third of U.S. children who have no access to medicine. The wildfires that were raining ashes on us here in Pompeii whoops, SoCal were a warning, whether from supernatural or just plain natural sources. Better go to zoo and look at the animals, because half of them will be extinct in the next 20 years. It's been estimated that we'll see the last tiger in about twelve years, the last polar bear in about 20. Same for lions, elephants, and anything to big to get out of man's way. Did I mention the last human? It's just possible that we, and cockroaches, and similarly unsavory companions, will be the last guys standing when the ecological smoke clears. God pity us. But I feel sorrier for the tigers, and for my great-grandchildren who may never see a living one.
Chinese Taikonauts Take Wing (No Pun Intended): As predicted here at least a year ago, Mainland China has launched its first person into space. His name wasn't Wing, sorry, but Yang Liwei...and nobody but I seems to have picked up on this little irony: While Yang was flying for China, a Chinese-American astronaut named Ed Lu was just coming home from the Bipartisan Extra-Large Pork-Barrel, or BEP (also known as the International Space Station, or ISS), so China really had two faces in space for a day or two. Way to go! ### The North Koreans are threatening to start a new nuclear arms race in East Asia, Reddish China (formerly Communist, now run by a corrupt oligarchy who laughingly claim ideological high ground while skimming the top off the treasury) has ostensibly started a new space race. There have been no noises from the Tush hegemony or their European laughing mates about ever revisiting space (we put our last guy on the moon a third of a century ago). This is no surprise, since, despite all his money, Tush never thought it worth leaving the U.S. to visit any other countries before he seized power here. Even the poorest shlepp working at Walmart longs to stand on the Eiffel Tower or suck spaghetti on the Via Veneto, but not our lantern of enlightenment; after all, Texas is the world. With such guidance (as my old Army sergeant used to say, "Can't lead three pissants to a urinal"), there is no danger the U.S. will ever have a serious space program again...plenty of space between Tush's ears, so who needs to go looking for more? If it ain't worth going to look at the Louvre or the Coliseum or that other commie pinko kulchur shit in Europe, who wants to go look at some blank space with little twinkling lights in it? Plenty of that if you just blow a few more lines of coke... or are we discussing that oxycontin street junkie Limbaugh here? Anyway, look for India and their dancing partner Pakistan to be thinking about launching a can fulla guys into orbit some year soon, perhaps out of Kazakhstan or Kourou. The Europeans launched some sort of contraption to the Moon, which is expected to arrive in a few years via slow rail (maybe they mailed it via the U.S. Postal System?). The Japanese may surprise us by putting a Honda full of people with sunglasses and cameras into orbit some time soon, or maybe a pachinko parlor twirling in our night skies. Or is that snapping flashbulbs? Don't get me wrong -- I'm staying here where the toilet paper is soft and the shopping malls play Christmas music as early as October. Sadly, that's where our troops in Iraq long to be, and, as one who was marooned overseas for years long ago, I wish them well. Get back to the world soon and in one piece. We miss you. This is home no place like it on earth, or anywhere else in the universe. And that's a very scientifictional thought to close on.
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Clarion West: More on this in later issues. Pat Murphy, Larissa Lai, Geoff Ryman, John Kessel, James Patrick Kelley, Kelly Link, and Charles de Lint will instruct at the 2004 session in Seattle, WA. Contact Nisi Shawl, firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 720-1008 or http://www.sff.net/clarionwest/ for info.
Received: Nob Hill Historical fiction; novel by Ann Cymba. In the final days of World War II, Germany sent the giant submarine U-234 to Japan carrying nuclear material and jet planes to deliver atomic bombs on U.S. citiestrue history. The German skipper packed enough rifles and whiskey for a two-year stay on some deserted Pacific island, blasted out of his gourd and eating wild pig, but instead turned the whole shooting match over to nervous U.S. Navy officials in mid-Atlantic. The U-234 sank during target practice at sea months later, but the uranium vanished off a U.S. dock in New Hampshire, and has not been found to this day. Another true fact: the first Secretary-General of the United Nations, as it was founded in San Francisco during the closing days of WW2 in 1945, was not only a high-ranking U.S. State Department official but also a top Soviet spy, whose name was Alger Hiss. Against such a background, where truth is stranger than fiction, this novel regales us about the fictitious adventures of a U.S. Naval officer named Tim Nordhall. Tim's hair-raising adventures include shipwreck and slavery in Mauritania, uranium mining in the Belgian Congo, skullduggery in wartime London, and espionage with several beautiful women, a phantom international spy, and at least one corrupt Allied officer. The novel is framed around his daughter's search around the world for the truth about her father, who mysteriously vanished in the closing days of WW2 with (allegedly) two wives and has been hiding ever since in the U.S. heartland under FBI protection. Free thinkers will have an easier (and "funner") time with this one than will those looking for a character set built around Victorian morays. Due from Clocktower Books in March 2004, 313 pages. Suggested list (before typical retail discounts): POD $18.95 (ISBN 0-7433-0900-6) or ebooks (Fictionwise, Amazon, etc.) $6.75. Look for your copy in March 2004 or later.