A “Chilling Effect”

In my long discussion with Australian computer science professor Tim Lambert on the topic of self-defense in the UK, I finally got him to admit that the laws there had a “chilling effect” on the willingness of residents of that polity to defend themselves against attack. Of course, that was our fault for pointing out the vagaries of the Crown Court’s prosecution policies.

Using UK newspaper stories.

Well, here’s another illustration of that chilling effect:

Before Monday (August 8) evening’s events there were warnings that Turkish shopkeepers in Tottenham were forming “protection units” to stop their businesses being looted, while retailers in nearby Wood Green were said to have equipped themselves with crowbars and other weapons after holding emergency meetings.

When the trouble came, hairdressers, sales assistants and butchers were among the scores of Turkish and Kurdish workers who stood outside their businesses in Green Lanes, Haringey, from 8pm having been warned by police to expect trouble.

The Guardian filmed others – some armed with baseball bats – on guard outside shops and restaurants in Kingsland Road, only a mile away from Hackney’s burning high street. Three workers from Re-Style Hairdressers were among those out in Green Lanes, after word spread that an attack was imminent at about 4pm.

“I was here with my brother and my boss waiting for them until about midnight,” said 16-year-old Huseyin Beytar. “If some guy ever breaks a window in this street, all the Turkish Kurdish people come down to protect the shops. We’re like a family.”

“We have to do things for ourselves,” said Huseyin. “We have to look after each other. If they come here tonight there will be a fight, a big fight.”

“We were outside ready and expecting them,” said the manager of Turkish Food Market, who asked not to be named.

“But I felt very panicky because we are not safe from either the rioters or police.

“We put all of our efforts into this shop. It took 20 years to get it like this. But we do not know about our rights.

I’m scared that the police and the government will attack us if we defend our businesses.

“We are being squeezed between the two.”

(My emphasis.)  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is not the fault of the people pointing out what the government does to its own citizens.

The Top 100

So NPR did a “top 100 fantasy and sci-fi” book list as voted on by their audience.  It was picked up as a meme by a chunk of the blogosphere, including here.  At almost every site the complaint was the same – “They picked that? There’s no mention of (x)!”

So here’s your opportunity.  In the comments, leave your top 10 favorite fantasy and/or sci-fi novels or series.  They don’t need to be in order.  Assuming this draws enough response, I’ll try to combine all the responses into a real “top 100.”  I think the TSM audience is a much better population sample for something like this.

I’ll go first.

1.  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein

2.  Starship Troopers – Robert A. Heinlein

3.  Dune – Frank Herbert

4.  The General series – David Drake, S.M. Stirling – the original quintilogy, not the three follow-ons.

5.  The Vorkosigan saga – Lois McMaster Bujold

6.  The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. I – this is cheating, but it is a book I re-read, and I went to a lot of effort to get a copy when one I loaned out never came back.  This is where I first read Flowers for Algernon, and it is by far not the best story in that anthology.

7.  The Hammer’s Slammers series – David Drake

8.  The Ring of Fire series – Eric Flint & others.  I also enjoy the Dies the Fire flip-side of this universe.

9.  The Nantucket series – S.M. Stirling

10.  The Past Through Tomorrow:  A Future History – Robert A. Heinlein.  Another anthology, but this one is all Heinlein.

I discovered Sci-Fi at about age 11 – Heinlein’s juveniles.  When I was 13 or so, I found The Science Fiction Hall of Fame in the school library.  That was it.  I was hooked for life.  Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and everything else Heinlein wrote followed.  Also Azimov, Clark, etc., though honestly I like Azimov’s nonfiction better than his fiction.  While Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell are not represented on this list, I do love their stuff. The Mote in God’s Eye and Footfall are favorites, I just don’t find myself re-reading them.

This list represents the books that I re-read on a relatively regular basis – books I’ve literally worn out and had to replace.  I read a lot of other stuff, both fiction and non-fiction, but Sci-Fi is my preferred genre.  SF can be anything, from pulp to high literature, bodice-ripper to deepest, darkest horror.  Science Fiction is the ultimate “what-if?”

One more:

11.  Empire of the East – Fred Saberhagen.

So, what are yours?

Earthquake Jokes

So there was a bit of an earthquake in Virginia this afternoon, and its effects were felt quite distinctly in Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas.

The jokes, of course, began immediately.  Some of my favorites:

They discovered an new fault just outside Washington:  Bush’s Fault.

That wasn’t an earthquake – the Founding Fathers are actually spinning in their graves.

That was no earthquake, that was the debt ceiling shattering!

Paul Krugman said it wasn’t big enough.

Everyone in Washington left work early due to the earthquake.  The economy experienced a brief rebound.

The earthquake is Palin’s fault.  She’s been threatening to “shake things up”!!

Quote of the Day – Electile Dysfunction Edition

As a highly disgruntled GOP-aligned voter, I must confess to viewing the current slate of GOP POTUS candidates with emotions running from despair to disdain.

You’ve got serial flip-flopper and dog abuser Mitt Romney, who with his usual brilliant sense of timing has decided that a period of serious economic concern and persistent financial populism among the public is the right time to quadruple the size of his multimillion dollar home in La Jolla.

You’ve got people like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry who seem more interested in running for President of the Southern Baptist Convention than POTUS.

You’ve got Sarah Palin lurking in the shadows, a prospect that gives me the willies.

And then you’ve got seven or so dwarves.

In point of fact, Sarah doesn’t really bother me that much, but overall I’m in agreement with Professor Bainbridge here.

Non Sequitur

And now for something completely different. Via Mostly Cajun, the NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy novels with the ones I have read in bold:

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien – Once. It was good, but not enough to make me want to re-read it.

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert Well, I read the original trilogy, but that’s where I stopped. IMHO Frank Herbert had one truly exceptional work of fiction in him, and Dune was it. The rest of the canon? Meh.

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin – I’ve read the first two. Just not my cuppa.  I understand the mini-series is quite good.

6. 1984, by George Orwell

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov – Really, not Isaac’s best. Interesting idea, but if we were really that predictable . . .

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov – THIS was one of Isaac’s best.

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick

22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

25. The Stand, by Stephen King

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess – I haven’t, but I need to.

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein – perhaps my favorite book EVER.  I’ve worn out multiple copies.

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien – After completing The Lord of the Rings, I just didn’t have the interest.

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons – well, I’ve read Hyperion anyway.

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman – is Gaiman really all that?

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett – I will be.  I now “get” Pratchett, and will be reading all of his stuff.

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson – I’ve tried, but Donaldson and I just don’t get along.

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold – I will read anything this woman writes, including grocery lists.

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy – What a depressing read. Riveting, but depressing.

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb

70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore

74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson

82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks – Well, I’ve read Use of Weapons, anyway, and Matter is on my headboard waiting patiently in queue.

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson – And after I was done, my reaction was “Meh.”

96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

Damn, not even half?  I’m a piker.