Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Milt Stevens, Simi Valley, CA, USA


The cover on
Challenger #26 is quite impressive and definitely in keeping with the Yeats poem. That certainly looks like a rough beast, and gloating seems to be an appropriate emotion. While that particular poem was written about Hitler, it always seems to be current. It’s as if all of history has a sense of impending doom attached to it. Or at least, most of it.

I looked at The Atlas of the Universe. Wow! That’s enough to make just about anyone feel tiny and insignificant. The universe is so much bigger than it used to be. Cosmology has proven to be a goshwow growth industry. If only you could invest in it…

Back in the early eighties, my then wife was taking Astronomy 1 at a local junior college. She asked me for some help on the course. I told her I’d like to help, but half of what was known about astronomy in 1980 hadn’t been known when I took the course in 1960. What is known about astronomy now has probably doubled or tripled again since 1980.


I agree that looking at the night sky is always calming. When I was in the Navy out west I used to go up to primary air defense and look at the stars at night. I regularly took the 0330 to 0730 watch in main communications, so I’d usually go up there around 0300. We were usually running with a minimum of light which made for good observation. Sometimes we were conducting air ops at that time, and observation conditions weren’t as good. Wars will come and wars will go, but the stars will outlast all of them.

My regard for Robert Heinlein was similar to yours. When I was a kid I thought writers and editors were godlike entities who resided in far off New York. After joining fandom, I discovered writers and editors were just as mortal as the rest of us and had just as many flaws. Even with that realization, Heinlein and Campbell still retained a certain godlike quality. Most mythic figures don’t survive encounters with reality, but there can be exceptions.

Greg Benford’s revelation about Carl Sagan not being admitted to the National Academy of Sciences was interesting in a strange way. Of course, I’ve heard of Carl Sagan. However, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the National Academy of Sciences before. I thought the French were the people who had national academies.

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