One of the things I used to wonder about when I read C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle was that literal died-in-a-train-wreck ending . . . it always seemed to me like a rabbit pulled out of a hat. Then one day while idly mousing around the internet, I found out about the 1952 Harrow and Wealdstone railway crash, a three-train collision where 112 people died and 340 were injured, and I thought, “Yeah . . . for a book published in 1956, something on that scale that happened in 1952 would have still been taking up space in the author’s mind during the writing process.”
Writers aren’t necessarily in control of what sinks into their memories, and they don’t always have a say in how it may bubble back up to the surface later.
Science Fiction’s Hugos would not be what they are without accompanying periodic outbursts of controversy. This year’s topic is the email sent out to nominees for the award, “encouraging” them to dress professionally for the awards ceremony. The backlash from the sf/fantasy community was, shall we say, vociferous and overwhelmingly negative.†
As well it should be. To quote my elder daughter, on an occasion some time ago when I was fretting about the advisability of going out in public with my hair pulled back using a kid’s Snoopy-the-Flying-Ace hair tie:
“Don’t worry, Mamma. You’re a science fiction writer. You can wear anything.”
†File 770 has a summary here — scroll down to item 8 in the entry.
The weather is hot and sticky, and leaves me disinclined to do anything at all, including cook dinner. So cold cuts and storebought potato salad are the order of the day.
We have what I think — based on comparison of its noises with sound files on the web — is either a barn owl or a screech owl living in the messed-up soffits of the upstairs gable window.
There is a black bear wandering around town, eating from the garbage cans out back of the Wilderness Restaurant and showing up in people’s back yards — also once in broad daylight at the verge of the school baseball field, while a game was going on. (The kids were taken inside — a case of “game called on account of bear,” I suppose.)
And something knocked down and tore up our front-yard bird feeder last night.
It’s enough to make one peevish, so it is. Herewith, therefore, a peeve to make your day complete:
Past and passed are not the same word. Past-the-noun refers to an earlier point in time (“The past is another country”); past-the-adjective describes something having to do with an earlier point in time (“remembrance of things past”); and past-the-preposition indicates that something is moving from a point either metaphorically or literally behind something to a point forward of it (“a first-past-the-post voting system.” Passed, on the other hand, is the past tense of the verb to pass (“time passed” or “the winner passed the post in record time.”)
Don’t confuse them; it makes the baby copyeditors cry.