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In 1978 Philip K. Dick gave a speech entitled "How to Build a Universe that Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later" - here is the transcript.


Great question and answers on Yahoo! - Is it OK to run an illegal library from my locker at school?


Bookarmy is a social networking website for every sort of reader. Whether you're a bookaholic or someone who picks up a book only once a year while relaxing on holiday, bookarmy is the place to discuss and review books, build reading lists, get the best book recommendations, and where you and your friends, family or classmates can read books together.


Cory Doctorow has posted a glowing review of The Beats: A Graphic History, from which:

From cover to cover, The Beats is a wonderful history of a complicated and misunderstood cultural movement -- its achievements, its place in history, its flaws and its brilliance. The graphic novel format is perfect for the subject -- straddling the line between respectability and disreputableness just as the Beats themselves did.


I recently stopped in Hay-on-Wye on the way to Wales. Hay is known as the second hand book capital of Britain and is listed by the International Organisation of Book Towns, which defines a Book Town as:

A small rural town or village in which second-hand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated. Most Book Towns have developed in villages of historic interest or of scenic beauty.

If you want to visit Hay-on-Wye I can highly recommend staying at the Hollybush Inn and Campsite.


At the end of August the Porcupine Bookcellar in Kings Cross will close its doors for the last time. In its place will arise The Public Reading Rooms. There is an impressive list of supporters and the official opening event will be on Saturday August 30th.


I just read an intriguing short story called The Island of Gulls by Sebastian Hayes from his collection "The Foundling and Other Stories". In fact I just ordered the book from Brimstone Press.


I just watched a 10 minute video on YouTube called Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man Beginning - here is the description:

In 1951, George Whitman opened a bookshop-commune in Paris. George, 92, still runs his "den of anarchists disguised as a bookstore," offering free, dirty beds to poor literati, cutting his hair with a candle and gluing the carpet with pancake batter. More than 40,000 poets, travelers and political activists have stayed at Shakespeare and Company, writing or stealing books, throwing parties and making soup or love while living with George's generosity and fits of anger. Illustrious guests include Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Jacques Prevert, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, James Baldwin and Richard Wright. Welcome to the makeshift utopia of the last member of the Beat Generation.


Open Book is a weekly programme on BBC Radio 4 that "spotlights new fiction and non-fiction, picks out the best of the paperbacks, talks to authors and publishers, and unearths lost masterpieces". Last week I happened to tune in and catch the lovely Mariella Frostrup talking to Manil Suri about his new novel The Age of Shiva (it was the 16 March 2008 edition). Manil Suri was born in Bombay and is now a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Maryland.


Years ago I started reading Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan. I found it quite hard going and only got about half way through it - I don't even know where my copy is right now but when I find it I will give it another try. Anyway, I just found an article which sheds some light on it - What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message? by Mark Federman, Chief Strategist, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology.


One of my favourite books is Godel Esher Bach by Douglas Hofstadter (I was about to describe it as non-fiction but in fact it does contain some wonderful stories). I first read it quite a few years ago and even though I had a stong mathematical background I found it quite hard going, but that was part of it's appeal, it made me think. I have not read anything else by Hofstadter but Tim Bray's review of I am a Strange Loop made me add Le Ton beau de Marot to my reading list.


I was trying to recall the title and author of a story I once read which predated Bram Stoker's Dracula but which used the same sort of theme. I guessed that it might have been Christobel and my hunch proved semi-correct. I found a reference to Christobel in this pre 20th Century Horror Timeline at Tabula Rasa. Christobel is a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge which he wrote in 1801. I do remember reading Christobel but that is not what I was trying to find. However, I did find what I was looking for on the same page - Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu, published in 1872. Dracula was not published until 1897.

While reading the Horror Timeline I also noticed that in 1833, the Baltimore Sunday Visitor published MS Found in a Bottle by the then unknown author Edgar Allen Poe. I guess this was the inspiration for the title of Hal Draper's 1961 short story MS Fnd in a Lbry which I mentioned in my first entry on this page.


Renascense Editions is an online repository of works printed in English between the years of 1477 and 1799.


British author Doris Lessing has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.


From Robert Heinlein at 100 by Brian Doherty:

The science fiction writer Robert Heinlein's 100th birthday is July 7. Despite his visions of near-immortals and cryogenic sleep, he didn't live to see it. He died in 1988, mourned by millions of readers who saw him more as a father or a guru than merely as a spinner of captivating tales.


One of the outstanding figures of modern US literature, Kurt Vonnegut, has died aged 84 in New York.


I have finally found an online copy of the Hal Draper short story MS Fnd in a Lbry which I have referred to before on this page. Now at last I will be able to read it (it is difficult to find in print).


There is some good stuff on Martin Hardcastle's poetry page, including G.K. Chesterton's The Secret People.


I have been listening to a CD called Buddha Sunset and there is one track with a sample of a woman saying "today I call you to my riverside, If you will study war no more. Come, clad in peace". I just looked it up and I guess it must be Maya Angelou herself reading her poem The Rock Cries Out To Us Today.


The life and work of Stanislaw Lem (who passed away yesterday) is discussed in the comments on this Slashdot posting.


Check out Harold Pinter's December 2005 Nobel Lecture Art, Truth & Politics.


Ben Marcus defends experimental fiction against critics, Jonathan Franzen in particular, who disparage it.


The original handwritten manuscript of what became Alice in Wonderland has been put online using software to virtually turn the pages.


A couple of years ago I read an excellent comic strip called Fleep by Jason Shiga. It is now available to view free on

The only book I have read by Oliver Sacks is An Anthropologist on Mars which was very interesting. When I have time I would like to read his famous The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat.


I have never read A Passage to India by E. M. Forster but am inclined to do so after reading some quotes about the Marabar Caves in Grand Old Inquisitor: The Republican Party's gift of innocense by Luke Mitchell.


One of my favourite books is G K Chesterton's The Man who was Thursday. I also love his poem "The New Unhappy Lords". Today I listened to The Singular Speculation of the House Agent, the fourth in a series of six tales from his The Club of Queer Trades adapted for radio by Simon Littlefield and broadcast on Radio 4 at 11:30. Next Monday's tale will be The Noticeable Conduct of Professor Chad.


Someone has just reminded me about Hay-on-Wye, the second hand book capital of the UK. I have never been there, but since I am planning to move to Wales this summer I expect to be visiting it at some point.


I first read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas while living in the U.S. in the late 1980's and still rate it very highly (I thought the film was rubbish but then how could you possibly do such a book justice on film - perhaps if it had been done with animated Ralph Steadman drawings?). Anyway, I mention this now only because of the news that Hunter S Thompson has apparently committed suicide at his home in Colorado.


Someone called Leslie Kay Swigart contacted me with more information about the Hal Draper story MS Fnd in a Lbry including a list of places it has been published (Library Journal, Laughing Space, 17 X Infinity, Inside Information) - cheers Leslie.


I can't actually recall reading anything by Edgar Alan Poe but I immediately recognised this quote:

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow -
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream:
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I just spotted it in Erinn Clark's excellent quotes file but I first heard it many years ago on track one of Propaganda's 1985 album Secret Wish. It is the first of the two verses of A Dream Within A Dream.


I have not yet read anything by Spider Robinson but I want to get hold of a copy The Crazy Years, a recently published collection of essays whose title refers to Robert A. Heinlein's designation of the last years of the 20th century.

And talking about Science Fiction, I would love to get hold of a copy of the elusive 1961 Hal Draper's short story MS Fnd in a Lbry which was mentioned in Pst Fnd in a Blg. Ian Gregory 2010