Douglas Adams Fan Anthology You & 42 Update: Prepare for the Whooshing

Howdy Hoopy Froods!
If you are shaking your head as to the meaning of my subtitle, “Prepare for the Whooshing,” then shake no more. It is not a tribal rite of Arcturus Grefa, nor the sound of flying mattresses out of the swamps of Sqornshellous Zeta, however it is the distinct noise a deadline makes as it goes by.  Deadline? Deadline? DEADLINE?!
What Deadline?!

I am afraid yes indeed we are imposing a deadline for anyone wishing to still contribute to You and 42: A Douglas Adams Fan Anthology. Wait? What?! There’s a forthcoming anthology dedicated to Douglas Adams? How come I didn’t hear about it you ask….Well…the answer to that is….I do not know, why haven’t you heard of it?

Well the first answer is personal to a degree and it was placed on hiatus a bit.

Firstly, my wife Jessica and I are the You and 42 editors, which will be published by Watching Books and see secondly….
Secondly, for most of this year we have dealt with a family matter, which had all of our time and attention. Our family is still our priority, and we will not get into the matter here, but this unfortunate time in our lives placed all of our projects, career and various matters on hold. Therefore, this project, You and 42 was subsequently on hiatus for sometime.

But Gallifrey Falls No More…Ummmm I mean You and 42 Whooshes Once Again!

What is You and 42?

Well….
“If you hadn’t guessed it, YOU AND 42 is going to be a volume of essays about the life and work of Douglas Adams. The format, as per usual (meaning of you are familiar with the other “You and Who book series by Watching Books), will be a series of essays each focussing on a particular area or production, through which the authors can talk about their personal experiences of Adams and his work. We are not looking for reviews, rather the kind of essays we prefer are those that take a more autobiographical or anecdotal slant; this book is about the “YOU” as much as it is the “42”. Having said that, we appreciate that Adams is a popular and complex author, and this time we’ll be happy to mix it up a bit, by including essays of all kinds as long as they encompass the theme of Douglas Adams touching our lives in some way.”

If I may now direct your attention to the full set of project details over on the You and Who website, which also has a list of topics with authors having been listed alongside some. If you do not see topics that apply to how you may have read the work of Douglas Adams, or how you subjectively feel about his work, then please by all means email me a pitch to youandfortytwo@gmail.com. Please read all of the particulars on the project website and if you do not see your question answered, then by all means email me.  Lastly, if you did not know all proceeds from sales of this books will be donated to charity. If you visit the Watching Books website,  please peruse their collection of  very splendid and worthwhile titles for sale, all benefiting charity.

Now the Rub…
This project began in March of 2016–and of course for every kind of book it takes sometime to come together. It can be 6 months, a year or more before a volume is fully actualized and transmitted across the galaxy. We have a significant amount of contributions but I would really like to bulk it up a bit more. If you have contributed to You and 42, THANK YOU!  If you would like to contribute anymore, then I would be wholeheartedly grateful.
If you have promised to send in an essay I completely understand if life, the universe and everything has gotten in the way…however, I shall be emailing everyone who has inquired, regardless of a contribution or not, within 48 hours. If you receive said email then please read further details of this overall message within and reply accordingly.

Now the great whooshing….
We have never had a deadline for this project, but there comes time when we must push it forward so the reading public can enjoy your contributions, therefore  anyone who wishes to contribute the imposed deadline is Weds, September 20th 2017. This is just one day under the 2 month mark from now and I hope more than enough time for you to complete any contributiuon you wish to send in. Whether you wish your own personal memory, Douglas Adams fan organization, event, or significant occasion represented there will be no extensions beyond this deadline. If we can stick to the aforementioned deadline then You and 42 can be sent into Watching Books before the end of the year and published around the new year. So prepare for the great whooshing for if you wish for your thoughts to be heard within this volume then time will not wait for you.

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Peace and Towels,

Anthony S Burdge

Editor, You and 42

Be Excellent (and Charitable) To Each Other

Howdy Hoopy Froods!
It should not matter the day, time, season, or holiday, we should all be excellent to each other, and help those in need. The climate of our current world situation looks grim each and every day, whether war, politics, human rights violations, hunger, or children in need, being excellent to each other should be of great importance. The fall holidays are upon us and we all seek that one great gift for a friend and/or loved one.  In the following I shall cite some great books that may appeal to you or said loved one, which will help out a charity at the same time. In addition I draw a few quotes below from our Galactic Hitchhiker’s Constitution to illustrate a point or two.

As a Fellowship of the Frood we are always excellent to each other, and continue to “…see the Guide as a filter to see the universe through, it reminds us that life is far too ridiculous to be taken too seriously…”  I am of the opinion we should also strive to help those in need as we are best able, whether through kindness, an uplifting word or comment, actions (i.e. helping the disabled and elderly) or donating to a charitable organization.

With this said I would like to appeal to our community as “…science and science-fiction fanatics, social activists, and hopeful futurists. We are space-hippies and dreamers, gamers and geeks, self-professed professional slackers, forward thinkers and generally good folk….”  If you would like to help out a charity and get some excellent books written by science fiction fans, then keep reading.

watchingbooksAs some of our GH Readers may know my wife and I are writers,editors and publishers.  In recent years we have had the opportunity to write for Watching Books and their line of books where all proceeds are donated to charity. Watching Books is located in the UK and you can click here to read “A Note on Our Charitable Donations,” which describes how their “rolling charity payments” system works.  The current charity they are providing donations toward is the Terrence Higgins Trust.
My wife and I first got involved with Watching Books by contacting J.R. Southall when they announced their YOU and WHO project.  Southall is a Starburst Magazine columnist, host of the Blue Box Podcast, and creator of the You and Who series of books.  With You and Who, Southall started a series of books adapting the title to varied themed books, such as You and Who Else, You and Who: Contact Has Been Made, the forthcoming You on Target and our own title we are working on for them: You and 42: A Douglas Adams Fan Anthology. I shall speak of You and 42 a bit more below, but offer below descriptions about a few of their titles you may consider as fans of Doctor Who and science fiction.
However, please visit the Watching Books page for a full listing of all their available titles

youandwhoABOUT YOU AND WHO (respectively borrowed from Watching Books)
After almost 50 years of television serials, original novels, comic strips, audio dramas, short stories, radio plays, cartoons, graphic novels, cinema films and just about anything else you could possibly imagine, after almost 50 years of a series which has change as its most fundamental conceit, there’s only one thing most Doctor Who fans can agree upon: how special it is.

In December 2010, Starburst writer J.R. Southall embarked upon a project that would demonstrate just how much variety there was among fans of the show, and that would conversely show just how much they all had in common, too.

You and Who is the result of that project. It’s an anthology of stories, written by fans, in which those fans attempt to reveal just how and why they became fans of Doctor Who in the first place. There’s humour, there’s horror, and there’s heartbreak. Just as there is in the series itself.

But what You and Who mostly goes to show, is not how much we share in common with the series we all love, but how much we share in common with one another. For the essays contained herein aren’t just the stories of those who’ve written them and Doctor Who, they’re the same story we have all lived.

They’re the story of You and Who.
This title is available at AMAZON.CO.UK and AMAZON.COM

youwhoelseABOUT YOU AND WHO ELSE
Television is the route by which we map our lives. From the day we are old enough to understand words and pictures it is a constant companion, educating and entertaining us, helping us to understand the world around us – and firing our imaginations off into the far reaches of an infinitely varied universe. From Ace of Wands to Worzel Gummidge, from Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) to Red Dwarf, from the moment Professor Quatermass’ rocket ship returned to Earth, to the moment Ian and Barbara entered the Doctor’s Ship, fantasy television has had an extraordinary effect on our emotions and our intellect. Whether it be exploring space or travelling through time, surviving the aftermath of some Earthbound disaster or creating new worlds in uncharted territories, the writers and producers of speculative television have used the format to reflect and inform the world in which we live. And whether it be through horror, science fiction or imaginative fantasy – or a combination of all three – we have all been touched in some way by the creativity and insight provided by such visionaries as Gerry Anderson, Nigel Kneale and Douglas Adams. You and Who Else is a unique history of sixty years of British fantasy television, and a definitive record of its place in our lives – as told by the people who saw it: the viewers.
You and Who Else is available in a variety of formats found on the Watching Books page but we encourage you to get this chunky volume from either AMAZON.COM or AMAZON.CO.UK

contactABOUT YOU AND WHO CONTACT HAS BEEN MADE
Very few television programmes make it to their fiftieth birthday. But then, Doctor Who is just a little bit special. From its humble beginnings being recorded in a tiny studio on 405-line black and white video cameras with a minuscule budget, to its latest incarnation on HD as one of the BBC’s flagship dramas, Doctor Who has always moved with the times, and often reflected them. For the last five decades, the series has inspired and engaged audiences in a way that no other television programme has ever managed. For more than 26 years, the original series delighted children of all ages with its unique blend of sci-fi and horror, excitement and scares, cliffhanger storytelling and, above all, monsters. As the programme grew, so we grew with it, absorbing its pleasures in diverse and changing ways. As it enters its anniversary year, Doctor Who is more popular than ever before. This wholly original blend of science fiction concepts and magical storytelling, updated for the 21st century, is delighting a whole new generation of fans, alongside those of us who waited patiently for the inevitable regeneration. You and Who: Contact Has Been Made is a record of how that relationship began, how it continues, and of how we have experienced those fifty years, as written by the show’s own fans. This combined edition of You and Who: Contact Has Been Made features a reduced print size necessary to include both volumes in one book, and includes two brand new replacement essays not featured in the first edition of Volume One, as well as several brand new essays bringing the book up to date with Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary programming. 100% of the royalties from You and Who will be donated to charity.
You can acquire You and Who Contact Has Been Made as a single combined editions, from two volumes, or purchase the two volume sets.
Please Click here to see Watching Books for varied formats and purchasing options

youn42imgEarlier this year it was announced that my wife and I are compiling and editing a Douglas Adams Fan Anthology for Watching Books entitled: You and 42. A topic quite applicable to our community here, which you can read more about in my GH article here. We have been taking contributions all year long, and are still open to submissions. As lifelong fans of The Frood, my wife and I are very honored that Watching Books accepted our proposal  for this book. You and 42 is dedicated to all things Douglas Adams and will illustrate how much he is loved and missed through our adoration of his work.  We already have contributions from a number of members here at Galactic Hitchhikers, like our founder Zaxley Nash, Jared McLaughlin our audio/web engineer, the fabulous writer Demetria Blacksmith, Kevin Jon Davies (who did the Guide animations for the Hg2g TV series, and The Illustrated Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), and Jay Rainha who has provided Guide styled entries that will appear throughout the book. If you would like to write for You and 42, please visit the project page here, to get all the details.

My wife and I have a fair list of publication credits but it is our work for charity projects that mean the most to us. In the end, when these books sell the money is going toward services our fellow human beings need the most. It is our hope that as part of this community, and beyond, you will consider purchasing the aforementioned titles, or others listed on the Watching Books website, and help out a charity.  Have a wonderful, blessed and geek filled holiday season.

Underrated SF/F: Hopscotch by Kevin J. Anderson

Once more unto the breach we go.

When people hear the name Kevin J. Anderson, about the last thing they think of is an underappreciated or underrated author. And for good reason. He’s been wildly successful in his career. But he also has a black sheep of sorts floating around, and I think it’s one worth a much closer look.

hopscotch-cover

This is Hopscotch.

Originally published in 2002, and republished by Kevin J. Anderson’s own publishing house (Wordfire Press) in 2013. And it is the very first Anderson book I ever read. In fact, I would say that reading this book had an impact on me (I originally read this in sixth grade.) and my writing that goes pretty deep. Sure, it’s science fiction, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be time for drug use, drinking, tortured artists, and lots of sex.

In fact, in reality, those are probably where a lot of our scientific advancements will go instead of, I don’t know, faster than light travel. Kind of just the way of the world.

Spoilers Start Here

Now, this is the story of four people, in a world where body swapping is not only possible, but exceedingly common. People swap consciousness back and forth more often than I change clothes. Three of our four main characters have this ability: Garth, who’s a talented artist, Teresa, who’s looking for the answers to life’s great mysteries, and Eduard, who has turned body-swapping into a business. Don’t want the flu? Live in my body for a couple weeks. Going through surgery? Take my body to the Bahamas.

Needless to say, Eduard is the one who ends up in a problematic situation, needing the Bureau of Tracing and Locations to step in when someone refuses to give his body back (The BTL is a necessary part of this kind of world. They can track who’s actually in which body.). And this is where we see character four, Daragon. These four were orphans in a monastery together. But while the other three were normal and could hop minds around willy-nilly, Daragon was the freak who couldn’t. Instead, he was able to tell who’s mind he was dealing with, no matter which body it moved into. Hopscotching didn’t trick him at all… which of course meant he was immediately sniped up to work in the BTL.

The plot of Hopscotch is… well… which one? There are four plots, and rather than focusing on one main one, Anderson allows them all room to breathe, and one of them will almost certainly speak to any given reader. Which is risky… but kind of brilliant. It’s a move that led critics to sort of pan the book, and they are certainly allowed their opinions. Everyone is. My opinion is that, by leaving room around the plots like that, I not only got the story that grabbed me hardest of all—Garth, the artist who swaps bodies so his can rest while his mind continues to work on the collection—but I got three other very interesting plot lines that gave me room to take a break.

Spoilers End Here

Kevin J. Anderson is a true fixture in the science fiction community. And clearly not just because he shows up at conferences all the time (Seriously, though. All. The. Time. Even in little old middle of nowhere Eastern Washington where I live. There he is.). He’s written over 120 books, including Star Wars EU (Excuse me, Star Wars Legends, thank you so much Disney…), X-Files companions, Dune prequels, and dozens of his own books. Yet somehow, when Hopscotch is brought up… crickets.

And hopefully, I can be a little part of the movement to change that. Because, really and truly, the book is brilliant.

Underrated SF/F: The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem

Hello all, and welcome to what’s hopefully going to be a new series for y’all: Underrated SF/F Novels. It’s a bit of an interest of mine, seeing what was written that maybe doesn’t get the same attention as the Fahrenheit 451s and Hunger Games and Left Hand of DarknessesLeft Hands of Darkness? I’m not entirely sure how you would pluralize that.

But anyway, I’d like to take a closer look at the books that never quite made it into the eye of the general public. Whether they’re just a little bit too old to still be in the public eye, they’re new but haven’t made it, or were just a little bit too bizarre to make big public waves no matter when they came out, I want to share them… or at least the ones I know. We are talking about underrated books, and with so many out there, I probably haven’t even read one percent.

And, just in case anyone is being extra wary, there be spoilers in this and pretty much any of these posts. I’ll try to mark them off so you can skip through them, but I’m only human and might miss something. You’ve been forewarned.

So, today I want to take a swing through one of my favorite books. Now, a lot of people know Stanislaw Lem from his novel Solaris. It’s far and away his most popular work, and there was even a movie made of it. But I’m not here to talk about that.

cyberiad cover 75

I’m here to talk about The Cyberiad.

If you know the book, you’re probably very excited to find someone else who’s actually read it. I always am. If you don’t know it… well, here’s the basic rundown: The Cyberiad is a collection of short stories written by Stanislaw Lem about the “illustrious constructors” Trurl and Klapaucius. It’s a universe where the majority of intelligent life is robotic or mechanical in nature, the squishy “Paleface” having died off long ago. It’s a universe where gleaming robo-knights ride mechanical steeds to save princesses made of steel and wire and resistors.

And it’s a world with a new profession: the constructors. Essentially, with enough time and resources, they’re very nearly god-like. But through these tales of electronic men and women, we’re offered the chance explore ourselves as humans. Aging, dying, dementia, injury. We get to look at the entirety of the human condition through these stories.

A bit of brief history: the collection was originally published in Lem’s native language (Polish) as Cyberiada in 1965. In 1974, the first English translation (The Cyberiad – Fables for the Cybernetic Age) was published. And major kudos have to go to Michael Kandel, the translator. I don’t know how he managed to do what he did. Lem wrote in rhyming verse (In Polish), and relied on puns and humor and pseudo-technical jargon, and Kandel managed to translate all of that without losing the unique spirit that made The Cyberiad its own special entity, separate from almost all of Lem’s other works (Although a bit of that whimsy can be found in Imaginary Magnitude, as well.).

Spoilers Start Here

So, without going through each and every story individually (There are a lot of them.), I’m just going to give a bit of a personal highlight reel. There’s not a bad story in the book, but some of them are always going to stand out more for a particular reader than others.

The first story I think of when The Cyberiad comes to mind is The Third Sally, or The Dragons of Probability. For me, this is quintessentially what the book is about. Why yes, of course dragons exist. Well no, of course you can’t see them. They’re highly improbable. The only reliable way to encounter one is to artificially raise the probability of one existing to a near certainty. It’s full of a lot of mumbo-jumbo about dracometers and such, and includes a wonderful sequence where Klapaucius is raising the probability in the area so high that rocks are floating and passing moths are beating out entire books in Morse code with their wings. It’s inanity on the page.

After that? The Second Sally, or The Offer of King Krool. This one is about the epitome of the fake technical jargon Lem has throughout the book, with an entire chase scene between the beast they intend to create and the titular King Krool… but all done through mathematical equations in order to program the creature. King Krool is a great hunter, and if the beast doesn’t meet his needs, well… that would be the last of our illustrious constructors.

I think the human angle is shown most in The Seventh Sally, or How Trurl’s Perception Led to No Good. And it brings up a very fundamental question, one that’s explored often by various science fiction greats: when does consciousness begin? If you craft something, and the programming is so advanced that they feel pain and anguish and joy and sorrow and every other human emotion, who’s to say that they aren’t themselves conscious, sentient beings? And this story best shows off the differences between two otherwise fairly similar characters. Trurl is egotistical and rash, whereas Klapaucius is calmer and thinks less of himself. True, they’re both incredibly intelligent, and think highly of their own intelligence, but it’s subtle differences that keep these two friends/colleagues/rivals from coming too close to each other.

Spoilers End Here

Mix those stories with others, such as Altruizine, A Good Shellacking, Prince Ferrix and the Princess Crystal, and Trurl’s Electronic Bard, and you have a collection that seems like it should have gone places, at least to me. Perhaps it was a bit too strange for its own good. Perhaps the humor wasn’t all-encompassing enough. Perhaps the moon and stars were out of alignment or the editors sacrificed one too few goats to the Gods of Publishing. Whatever the reason, this book has always languished in the dreaded midlist, even at the height of its popularity. It retains a loyal following, but never enough to skyrocket him to the fame of other SF/F short story writers like Bradury or Pohl.

If you’re looking for something a little bit odd, a little bit funny (Or at times, a lot.), and entirely unique to itself, I can’t recommend The Cyberiad enough. It’s, for me, the book I turn to when I’m feeling a little down and out. It makes me smile, it’s never too heavy or too childish. Like a cybernetic Goldilocks, The Cyberiad is just right.

Now, I don’t know when I’ll see you all again. I’m hoping to do relatively regular posting on here, but how often that is will all depend on how this fits into my own schedule. I have books that need writing, books that need reading, dogs that need tending, and websites that need maintaining. But I promise not to leave for too long.

Voss