2009: The Summer of Sci-Fi

John Hodgman, look what you started.

Hodgman gave a very nice speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner ...

... and it made me want to increase my nerd cred. Which I am sorely lacking.

The thing is, I identify with nerds, but I have trouble with the major shibboleths. I don't know much about computers. I like science but didn't go into a scientific field, and while I did OK in math, it was still my worst subject. I never read comic books as a kid, and now I fear I will never catch up on the mythology. While I claim to be a Star Trek fan, I've seen precisely one TOS episode. (In my family, we watched the movies and TNG - was TOS even in syndication in the '90s? OK, it almost certainly was.)

And I've never read many of the classics of science fiction. When some nerd references Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke, I have no choice but to respond with a blank stare.

God, I'm such a poser. (Am I actually a geek instead of a nerd? I hear varying accounts of what the terms mean ...)

But no more! Because Hodgman's speech reminded me I need to read Dune, and because I'm in the middle of Neuromancer, I decided to declare 2009 the Summer of Sci-Fi! Over the next 10 weeks, I will catch up on the books I should have read in ninth grade when all the other kids were befriending seniors so they'd use their fake IDs to buy them Zima (note to my parents: this is not what all the other kids were doing).

(What was I reading back then? I want to say ... Stephen King? Cynthia Heimel? Jane Austen, maybe, but I think that was more of a college thing for me.)

Anyway, I started with this list I found of top sci-fi novels, thinking I could round out the top 10, and then I asked Mr. W (a consummate nerd) for suggestions and substitutions based on what we could find in his prodigous bookshelves. (Dude needs a card catalog and a little ladder on wheels like now.)

Here's the list:

  • Neuromancer by William Gibson (in progress)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlen
  • Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling
  • The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
  • Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke
  • Codgerspace by Alan Dean Foster (this is not a book or author I've ever heard of, so I don't know whether it's a classic, but Mr. W said it's good, and it has a robot/dinosaur/toaster on the cover, so I'm game)

Dear me, when am I going to find the time to read all those books by September? Perhaps someone would like to pay me? Like, enough so that blogging about reading novels can be my full-time job? Thanks - I appreciate it!


Conan is such a copycat

We all know that bacon alcohol is a bad idea, because we all saw my post about it. And yet, here's Conan O'Brien, making Andy Richter try bacon vodka like he didn't read about it here first:

My guess is that the vodka didn't need bacon flavoring to taste terrible, by the way; I imagine the company is using a gimmicky flavor to mask a subpar liquor, because that is TOTALLY how I would do it if I were a manufacturer of trendy vodka.

I dunno - should I buy a bottle of a guaranteed-sippable vodka and try the bacon experiment again, just to show Andy Richter how it's done? (The answer to this question, of course, is no. As much fun as it is to show up Andy Richter, it's not worth the very real risk of turning a palatable vodka into an unpalatable vodka.)