Good morning bookies! It’s Saturday! Stand by for news and comment.
*** As I sat here downing my first cup of coffee and listening to the radio, willing the neurons to begin firing, I heard on the news of the passing of Forrest J. Ackerman. For those who don’t know, Ackerman was one of the earlier founders of modern SFF, is credited with having coined the term ‘Sci-Fi’, discovered and became literary agent for Ray Bradbury, agented Isaac Asimov and others, wrote a few stories, lots of essays and articles and, in general, was a jack-of-all-trades for an industry that mainstream publishers felt was nonsense and not worth their trouble.
I met Ackerman once, at DragonCon 1998, and remember him as a very kind, gentle-seeming man. One morning during the con, BBG and his posse were having breakfast at the hotel restaurant and at the next table, drinking coffee and chatting, were Bradbury, Ackerman and Harlan Ellison. It was amazing to consider the talent assembled at that one small table. It’s a great example of what makes attending conventions so much fun. I’ll miss knowing Ackerman is around, not so much that he directly made my life better, just because I felt better knowing men such as he were in the world.
*** Ebay has no sense of irony. They are doing absolutely everything they can to crush the small sellers on their site, while simultaneously their lobbyists are in front of Congress whining about big box retailers trying to crush the small sellers. Have they no shame? Well, aside from that being a rhetorical question, the answer is no, they don’t.
Ebay has become just another big corporation. Now, you’re friendly neighborhood bookseller is not someone who automatically dislikes big corps. After all, who works at big corps? People do, although the theory that some corporate upper management types might be either part or completely machine-driven does seem to hold water in some cases. I knew this guy once when I worked in the corporate world who…wait, wrong topic. Sorry. Where was I? Oh, Ebay. Right.
Ebay began life as the ultimate egalitarian website. Level the playing field, let the little guy make a buck, fight back against the corporate bullies, all that good stuff. Except now Ebay has become what they were created to fight. Do John Donahoe and team see the irony? They must, surely. Nobody could be blind or stupid enough not to understand. So if we give them enough credit to understand the irony of the situation, then we also have to conclude that they don’t care.
*** Tomorrow is the 67th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This isn’t about a book, but the topic is one that BBG happens to be pretty familiar with, having read almost everything he can find about the attack. So with the anniversary once more rolling around we are seeing the same tired old conspiracies dragged out that FDR knew the Japanese were going to attack and allowed it to happen so the USA would be forced into WW2. The following article makes the case fairly succinctly for the ‘FDR knew’ school of thought.
What is never pointed out by such conspiracy theories is this: a Japanese surprise attack on WW2 was a declaration of war, period. There was no reason to allow the fleet to be destroyed, it would have served our purposes just as well for the Japanese to have found the naval base on alert and the air filled with US fighters. Only the silliest of the lot give FDR the prescience to know that battleships were obsolete and to allow them to be destroyed because they had such low value.
If this topic interest you or someone you know, you can pick up Gordon Prange’s trilogy on Pearl Harbor fairly cheaply. At Dawn We Slept, December 7, 1941 and Pearl Harbor, the Verdict of History. Granted, it’s aging a bit, and here and there a fact or detail may have been overruled by later research, but I haven’t read anything that is comprehensively better, or better written.