Archive for the ‘Characters’ Category

When The Stars Come Out…

Posted by | Filed under Characters | Sep 26, 2015 | Tags: , | No Comments

Tales of celestial descent are not restricted to ancient myth. Superman, who qualifies as a post-Classic Perseus, also dropped out of the sky when he survived a ballistic trajectory from his home planet, Krypton. As an infant, he was cradled in a projectile launched by his rocket-scientist father to ensure his escape from the catastrophe his world was about to suffer. He landed safely in a cornfield on Earth and grew up to become the Man of Steel–more powerful than a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet, and able to transform the comic-book industry in a single bound.

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Modern science fiction has also leveraged uncontrolled descent to Earth into a variety of perspectives on the meaning of contact from outer space. In “Kaleidoscope,” Ray Bradbury’s bittersweet tale of an accident in space, the spacesuited crew is scattered to separate trajectories of gravitational doom. One of them, routed toward Earth, realizes he will be immolated on reentry and wonders if anyone will notice the human meteor returning dust to the Earth.

L’Sprague De Camp: Iconoclast!

Posted by | Filed under Characters, Science Fiction | Sep 12, 2015 | Tags: , | No Comments

De Camp, a native of New York City, was one of the leading early figures in science fiction, getting his start in the 1930s and 1940s at the same time as colleagues such as Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Lester del Rey, and Frederik Pohl. John W. Campbell, the influential editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, pointed to de Camp’s stories as an example of the kind of science fiction he was looking for.

They were based on imaginative but careful and reasonable extrapolation from contemporary science. De Camp was known for his erudition (especially about history), scientific accuracy; polished writing, and “swashbuckling” style.

decmAlthough best known as a fiction writer, de Camp was a meticulous researcher who brought his interests in science, history, and archaeology and his background as an engineer (B.S. in aeronautical engineering from California Institute of Technology in 1930; masters from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1933) to his nonfiction works. During World War II, de Camp, Heinlein, and Asimov independently worked on research projects at

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