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Issue Number : 46 - Back Home Again, From the News Page, Heretics Books, Bulletin Board


BACK HOME AGAIN

I've recently returned from a second visit to the US this summer. The prime reason this time was to give a talk to scientists, research people, and others at Eglin AFB near Fort Walton, Florida, generously hosted by the USAF Munitions Directorate. They'd asked me to say some words about flexible thinking in the scientific environment, and to illustrate the topic I chose the emerging field of Electric Universe theory, which has interested me for some time. The title ended up as "Flexible Thinking and Cosmic Electricity," and for those interested to read it we have it posted on the web site at www.jamesphogan.com/talks.php. The organizers told me afterward that it was one of the most interesting they'd had on their Guest Speaker Program. I hope readers here think so too. Questions and suggestions are welcome, since I'm in the process of gathering together material for the intended book on the subject. It would be valuable to have inputs at this stage on aspects that people find confusing or especially interesting and would like to see covered in detail.

The timing enabled me make it again to the ArmadilloCon convention at Austin, Texas, which I attended last year. Ideally I would have preferred to fly into Austin and return from Pensacola (just along the coast from Fort Walton), but car rental companies have thoughtfully thrown away the huge competitive advantage they stood to gain because air travel has become so ghastly, by introducing one-way drop-off charges that can run to hundreds of dollars and rival the basic charge itself. So I came in earlier than I would have and rented a car round-trip from Pensacola.

The route followed Interstate 10 through Houston. The first time I drove through Houston was in late 1980, at which time the road system was under construction, and a mess. It has been every other time since, and still is. Needless to say, I hit the center just in time for the evening traffic snarlup. ("rush" hour?). The tank was getting low, but I figured that the area floats on oil, so there would be no shortage of filling stations in the city. Not so. Once inside the belt, there were endless dealerships for every automobile made, occupying Texas-size acreages, thousands of vehicles idling on the long, thin, parking lot that I-10 had become, but not a pit-stop in sight for mile after inching mile. It became a mystery as to what kept them all going. This is not funny when you're walled in by three lanes or more of stationary traffic, and the "Miles to E" display on the dash is relentlessly counting off digits. I edged my way across and exited onto the service road so that at least, if the car did die, I wouldn't be blocking the main highway. And then, like the palm fronds of an oasis appearing on the skyline to a character from Beau Geste, crawling on his knees in the last stages of thirst-crazed exhaustion, a sign came into view above the rooftops, saying GAS. I reached it with the sides of the tank still not quite dry. Sam's Club. I no longer have a Sam's card. But . . . from where I now was, I could see a Shell sign a few blocks farther on. I would gladly have paid any price they might care to have charged that day. Which kind of sums up how they have the world in general, doesn't it?

Staying in Pensacola meant being able to spend some time with sons Joe and Mike, who live there, and their brother Alex came up from Orlando for the week. And once again the timing was perfect, because that week took in Mike's birthday--duly celebrated in the traditional style of The Auld Country, with "My Three Sons" being remade as "My Three Drunks."

Sheryl had things to take care of in Ireland and couldn't make it on this trip, but in some ways this turned out to be just as well. The Irish construction industry decided to mount a Surge of its own on Hogan's place, and suddenly people to do work on the new extension to the cottage that we'd been trying to schedule for months came falling out of the sky. In rapid succession the ceilings went up, the inside and outside plastering was done, and all the electrics were in, connected, and working. Being American, Sheryl wasn't familiar with the plaster-over-cinder-block style of building and said she had no idea that anything could be so messy. She had to go into town during the day to be away from it. (I'd made sure for that reason that breaking through to connect into the existing hallway will be left until last.) Next will be to run in the plumbing and install the floors. I had a fellow lined up to begin that this week, but he called over the weekend to say it will be delayed because he has urgent work to do on his own house. I asked him what. He said that the roof had been leaking, and the bedroom ceiling fell in on him. Maybe I should keep asking around a little more.

From the NEWS PAGE

GIANTS Special Offer

As an introductory offer to accompany the recently released omnibus The Two Worlds (3rd and 4th Giants novels), a companion volume to the earlier The Two Moons (1st and 2nd Giants novels), we're offering both for a total of $12.00. That's four novels at $3.00 each--not bad. In step with this, the first three single-title editions: Inherit the Stars; The Gentle Giants of Ganymede; and Giants' Star are now available for $4.00 each; and the 5th, Entoverse, UK hardcover edition, for $6.00.

ECHOES Special Offer

Also, Echoes of an Alien Sky, the new novel released this year, is available from the site for $18.00, compared to $24.00 list.

REMINDER

The short story "Murphy's War" was released online from Jim Baen's Universe in August, downloadable at baens-universe.com/authors/James_P._Hogan.

BOOKSTORE

Correction to what I said in the Issue 44 Newsletter. Following their abolition of surface options, the USPS does not have a reduced overseas book rate, and have hiked their regular air rates. There is still a domestic Media Mail rate, which paradoxically seems to be actually cheaper than the system that applied before, so home readers do okay. But shipping out of the US is now limited to more expensive air rates, which I hear is hurting many booksellers who serve a large overseas readership. I've been looking at shipping rates from Ireland, which still does have a book rate, and we're thinking of keeping a secondary ManyWorlds to JPH Titles Catalog page stock here for orders from Ireland, the UK, Europe, and elsewhere. The advantages appear quite significant, so more on that soon.

HERETICS BOOKS

An interesting new title that we've added is Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, a writer and biology Ph.D. who took a break from professional life to experience firsthand a series of service jobs at minimum wage and try to live on the proceeds. An illuminating insight into the world of the working poor.

BULLETIN BOARD

New postings include a review of an easy-to-read and informative book providing an antidote to radiation phobia; a web site devoted to myths and facts in physics, and a resolution passed by the Irish Trades Unions Congress declaring their solidarity with the peoples of Palestine, whose plight is consistently distorted or ignored by so much of the mainstream media. Also, a warning for those who imagine they've found a way to avoid the all-pervasive government apparatus of surveillance and intrusion.

Thanks to all, as always.

 
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