Literary Wanderings

The Great American Eclipse



In Chapel Hill, North Carolina we had 93.3% coverage. That's not totality, but it was awesome nonetheless. I started observing at 1:30. It was about 91 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. Standing under direct sunlight, one would sweat within minutes.

Around 2 things started to get interesting. The first thing I noticed were the sharply-defined shadows. The sky was not as bright, either. You didn't have to squint when looking up! By 2:15 the temperature started to drop. And then something occurred which I hadn't expected--had never read about--a cool breeze started up. I didn't know if this was due to the eclipse or not, but it was noticeable and lasted throughout the event. (I have a friend who journeyed down to Columbia, SC to witness totality; he said a similar breeze occurred there.) I later learned this phenomenon is real and is termed an eclipse breeze.

By 2:30 the temperature had dropped several degrees. The shadows were even more sharply-defined. I'd never seen anything like it. Our black cat came out of hiding in his bush by the side of the driveway and gazed uneasily about. Take a look at the picture below. We have a large pin oak tree in our front yard. The sunlight passing through the spaces between the leaves acted like pin-hole projectors and cast hundreds of mini-eclipses on the driveway. So cool!

Greatest coverage occurred at 2:43. It was amazing. The light-level was a bit brighter than at dusk. Everything had a slightly green-orange tint. The air was cool. This phase lasted about fifteen minutes or so. Then the sky began to brighten. The temperature climbed. Though I wished otherwise, soon it was summertime once again.

Mini-Eclipses with Black Cat

 

 

More Classics of Modern Science Fiction



Another interesting collection of classic science fiction is to be found in the Science Fiction Book Club 50th Anniversary Collection. These came out between 2003 and 2007, about eight volumes per year, each with a full-color newly-commissioned illustration on the front cover and black-and-white photograph of the author on the back cover.

There are some real finds here: Under Pressure was Frank Herbert's first novel, published in 1956 and out of print for decades. City, by Clifford Simak is an eerie tale, one of the first to predict the rise of robots and the first to predict the takeover of the human race by talking dogs. It also includes early works by Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.

Below are the volumes in the series:

1. The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein

2. The Space Merchants by C. M. Kornbluth, Frederik Pohl

3. The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke

4. Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson

5. City by Clifford D. Simak

6. Under Pressure by Frank Herbert

7. The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

8. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

9. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer

10. Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith

11. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

12. The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny

13. Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner

14. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

15. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

16. Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin

17. Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

18. Gloriana, or The Unfullfill'd Queen by Michael Moorcock

19. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

20. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.

21. Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

22. The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

23. The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle

24. Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison

25. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

26. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

27. Blood Music by Greg Bear

28. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

29. Courtship Rite by Donald Kingsbury

30. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

31. Schismatrix Plus by Bruce Sterling

32. Startide Rising by David Brin

33. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

34. Rats and Gargoyles by Mary Gentle

35. Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold

36. Only Begotten Daughter by James Morrow

37. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

38. Steel Beach by John Varley

39. The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick

40. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge