Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’
eBooks are become mainstream. They are something I’ve read about in science fiction and now they’re taking off. There’s a number of ways to read an eBook and some lovely person has created an entry in Wikipedia which includes the name of the device, who manufactured it and the date of manufacture. Linked from this page is this one which is a comparison of eBook formats.
I know some people are very upset about the loss of paper books, but there are some very good reasons we should stop printing them. They all have to do with the environment. Paper is made from trees and the more trees we cut down for paper the worse off the environment is. The more paper we use that gets thrown into the rubbish the worse things get. I’m not going to give a diatribe about this as there are plenty of people out there who are much more capable, but I will take a slight detour into the realms of science fiction and mention a book I have waiting for sale called Garbage World by Charles Platt. In this book there is a world which is just for rubbish. Every other world in the solar system brings their rubbish there and dumps it just like we dump our rubbish in the tip. I’m not saying that’s where we’re heading, but it certainly looks probable if we are not careful. So the fewer books we print then the less rubbish we’ll have. This does work for other items as well as books, but I don’t sell other items so I’ll just concentrate on books. Basically, I’m saying the eBooks are great as they greatly reduce the printing and therefore the rubbish.
When choosing your eBook reader think carefully about the types of books you read. If you read mostly modern books your choice will be different than if you mostly read books which are out of copyright. Any books which are out of copyright are being collated by Project Gutenberg and Google Books. Project Gutenberg are easily downloadable and free, Google Books are generally read in the browser but some titles are also available for mobile devices. Books written since 1955 are also easy to download, but do cost money to ensure the authors and publishers get paid. Google have been asked to stick to this ruling and this article makes this quite clear.
I heard about a device to me the other day and when I looked it up just now I was blown away by it. One of the books I plan on listing is Walk With Me by Kevin Hitchcock. It’s an autobiography detailing the accident which made him quadraplegic and his subsequent recovery. It’s a very moving story and helps give some ideas of the problems quadraplegics have. One of the challenges that struck me was because they have no use their arms they are at the mercy of whoever is with them and they have absolutely no control of anything around them. I’m sure they can learn to work the remote for the TV if someone is able to rig it up in a suitable spot and they are able to poke it with something. It would take great control though. If they wanted to read they would have to wait for someone to read to them or to turn the page for them or even to turn the cassette over. The device mentioned to me was born of sheer laziness and combined with some form of eBook reader would free up a quadraplegic to read at their own pace and to be able to load a new book. If you look here you can see what I mean. Basically, he’s made a cradle for his Kindle so he can lie in bed and only move one finger to turn the page. I’m not impressed by the laziness angle, but I just love the other possible uses. They’re just way cool.
Yes, I know I’m a little late, but better late than never. Landing on the moon in real life as opposed to science fiction was a massive step. It made so many people’s dreams come true and so many of us want to be in space and on the moon, I know I’m not alone in that dream. My grandmother wanted to be the oldest person in space and if she’d been born in a different era she would definitely have pulled out all stops to make it happen.
If you look at literature you’ll see so many instances of flights to the moon beginning with Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon written in 1865 and H. G. Well’s The First Men in the Moon written in 1901. Isaac Asimov set many of his stories on the moon as did Arthur C. Clarke. I could give you a long list of English speaking authors who have written books set on the moon including Robert A. Heinlein and Larry Niven, but I won’t as that will look like I’m just trying to have lots of tags to bring more readers. I’m going to take a little look at French Science Fiction.
Pre-dating English speaking writers by quite some decades, Cyrano de Bergerac wrote The Other World: The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon in 1657 and The Comical History of the States and the Empires of the Sun unfortunately he failed to complete this last one before his death in 1655 which describe fictional journeys to the Moon and Sun. I pinched this little bit of information from Wikipedia which quite fails to examine how he could have written a book two years after he died. The answer is given here along with the French names of the books. Voyage dans le Lune (1657) and L’histoire des états et Empires du Soleil (1662) both being published posthumously. I don’t know why so many of the best books had to wait until after the author’s death to be published, but I’m sure there’s a good reason…or not.
Here I’m going to swipe bits from Wikipedia again and you can see the whole post here. Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle wrote Entretien sur la Pluralité des Mondes or the English title Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds in 1686 with a philospher musing on the possibility of there being extraterrestrial life, although not necessarily discussing the idea of humans being on the moon it is still a fairly early discussion of extraterrestrial life and you can find it on Google Books. Voltaire’s short stories written in Micromégas and Plato’s Dream are particularly prophetic of the future directions science fiction would take. Somehow I’m getting away from humans being on the moon and edging towards extraterrestrials.
So, having lost the idea of humans being on the moon I’ll just take this entire bit from Wikipedia. Also worthy of note are Simon Tyssot de Patot’s Voyages et Aventures de Jacques Massé (1710), which features a Lost World, La Vie, Les Aventures et Le Voyage de Groenland du Révérend Père Cordelier Pierre de Mésange (1720), which features a Hollow Earth, Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s L’An 2440 (1771), which depicts a future France, and Nicolas-Edmé Restif de la Bretonne’s La Découverte Australe par un Homme Volant (1781) notorious for his prophetic inventions.
I think the lesson there is that French authors were looking at life on other planets long before English authors. They were creating science fiction many decades before English speaking authors. Speaking as an English speaker (what a dreadful phrase, I’m sure there is a better phrase for that) I have always felt that English authors were the best and that no other country could have written science fiction first so this brief foray into walking on the Moon has taken me places I never felt possible. It’s been a real eye-opener for me and it feels very appropriate that I started writing about walking on the Moon slightly later than anyone else as I’m sure so many other people knew the French were leaders in the Science Fiction field long before me. I think I’m going to stop there as I’m about to start rambling, I can just feel a ramble about nothing coming on.
Edit: Forgot to remind everyone there’s only a few more days of this competition left. You have to comment to be in it.
I declare that the following article is my own work.
DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE’S SHORT STORIES – UNTANGLING THE THREADS.
30th May 1947 – 30th May 2009, celebrating 62 years of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’
When, on 6th October 1952, ‘The Mousetrap’, a play written by Agatha Christie, opened at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, England, it had already undergone transformation from a radio play to a short story and then into the stage play. The play, ‘The Mousetrap’, was based on the short story, ‘Three Blind Mice’, written by Agatha Christie in a collection of her stories entitled ‘Three Blind Mice and other Stories’, which was published only in the United States of America in 1950, but the short story had previously been published in England in a women’s magazine in serial form. ‘Three Blind Mice’, a thirty minute radio play, was written in response to Queen Mary’s request for a play by Agatha Christie to celebrate her 80th birthday and was transmitted by the BBC on 30th May, 1947.
On 25th November, 1952, ‘The Mousetrap’, the stage play, opened in the West End of London in the Ambassadors Theatre, and ran there until 23rd March 1974, when it was moved to the larger St Martin’s Theatre, next door, opening on 25th March 1974, keeping its ‘initial run’ status, where it still plays. It is the longest running play in history, and as requested by Dame Agatha Christie, the short story has never been published in England in any short story collection. Film adaptation, under the contract conditions of the play, will not be considered until the play has stopped running for a period of six months.
Such is the acclaim for Agatha Christie, often dubbed ‘The Queen of Crime’, and her works, in 1962, UNESCO claimed she was the ‘most widely read British writer in the world’, beating William Shakespeare for the first position. With her deft writing skills, Christie taunted her readers, laying red herrings to confuse them, and tacitly challenging them to unravel the mystery within her works. Her characters were believable and her writing style was fluid and compact. Author of numerous novels, radio plays, television plays and other works, Christie wrote 160 short stories.
Her novels beguile us, but her collections of short stories may have exactly the same effect for a different reason. While some collections of Christie’s short stories share the same title in the UK and in the USA, most do not. Many of Christie’s books were published firstly in England then later in America. To appeal to the American market, the titles were sometimes changed and another cover picture was created, more appropriate to the American life-style. ‘Poirot’s Early Cases’ (UK) was changed to ‘Hercule Poirot’s Early Cases’ for the American market, presumably because Hercule Poirot at that time was not as well known in America as he was in England. ‘Double Sin and Other Stories’ (US) contains eight short stories, which cannot be found together as a collection published in the UK, but can be found as parts of four other collections in England (‘Poirot’s Early Cases’, ‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and Other Entrees’, ‘Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories’ and ‘The Hound of Death and Other Stories’). Many of her short story collections suffered the same fate.
Whether it was because of cultural differences or for financial reasons, that Agatha Christie’s and/or her publishers chose to separate and publish her short stories in different collections, we may never know. To get a definitive collection of Agatha Christie’s short stories has, perhaps, become as much a challenge to unravel as anything Christie herself wrote.
To the ‘Queen of Crime’, long may she reign…..
Dame Agatha Christie: 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976.
1.‘The Mousetrap and Agatha Christie’ by Sir Peter Saunders, in ‘50th Year Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap’, Souvenir Brochure.
2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
© Valerie Ann Lettau 20th May 2009.
All rights reserved. No part of this article maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.