Books Celebrating the Hadron Collider

April 1, 2010

The powerful collider at CERN broke world records for smashing together elementary particles at high levels of energy.  Several great doomsday books have been inspired in anticipation of this major event.

Dan Brown’s book, Angels and Demons, has a main character (Langdon) pondering antimatter, the big-bang theory, the cult of the Illuminati and a threat to the Vatican, among other things.

Douglas Preston’s new book, Blasphemy, features a collider experiment.

Then, there’s my favorite:

Robert Sawyer’s amazing novel, Flash Forward. He researched heavily before writing his story, which opens with a 4-page description of the collider. All the rest proceeds from there.  The novel has gone on to inspire a highly successful television series that is going into a new season.


Atlas Shrugged (in a Nutshell)

April 1, 2010

Anyone who’s attempted to read Ayn Rand’s heavy tome of a book, Atlas Shrugged, knows it isn’t an easy book to get through. I have started and stopped countless times throughout my life, always getting further, but never getting DONE. I apply the drudge theory to it: if it becomes a drudge to read, it’s not worth my reading time.

Imagine my relief to find the folks over at Spudworks decided to save me from the I-still-haven’t-finished-it-guilts by offering this brief abridgement. Surprisingly,  it is pretty accurate; I can follow the book all the way through to  where I last left off.


Colum McCann’s Next Novel

March 30, 2010

Colum McCann, winner of the 2009 Nat’l Book Award for his novel, Let the Great World Spin, has some new work in the pipeline.

The first novel, tentatively titled THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING, explores a murder from multiple points of view, and is in part inspired by the Wallace Stevens‘ poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”


Bram Stoker Award Announced

March 30, 2010

Over the weekend, Sarah Langan won the Best Novel award at the Bram Stoker Awards for her horror novel, Audrey’s Door.


Twilight Saga Fans, Rejoice !!

March 30, 2010

Stephanie Meyer will release her first new book in almost two years. Entitled The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, the novella will sell for $13.99 in hardcover, with a free e-book available for online readers from June 7th thru July 5th at this site.   Not a book for collectors, at 1.5 million in the first printing, but a charitable endeavor instead. Every book purchased will see $1 going to the American Red Cross directly for Haitian Relief. We knew we liked Stephanie Meyer!


The Raven

January 30, 2010

(Photo by Andy Comanda)

THE RAVEN

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.’

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

~~ Edgar Allen Poe


Top 10 Literate Cities in the U.S.

January 5, 2010

USA Today again rates the top 10 most literate cities in the USA.  Not surprisingly, Seattle, home of many high-tech companies and start-ups, as well as several fabulous independent bookshops keeps the top spot. Minneapolis has been edged out for the number 2 spot by none other than Washington D.C.  That’s a tough city to edge out. Congrats D.C.ers.

Pittsburgh continues to surprise me by finding a place on the list. Bravo,Pittsburghians!

The ratings are determined by six indicators: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources. I suspect a few literary cities were overlooked due to the criteria used, but overall, this is certainly a designationto be envied.

1) Seattle

2) Washington D.C.

3) Minneapolis

4) Pittsburgh

5) Atlanta

6) Portland, Ore.

7) St. Paul

8) Boston

9) Cincinnati

10) Denver