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Match to Flame 130

posted on October 15, 2020

The reaction was, as expected, mixed. There were thoughtful op-ed pieces across the spectrum. Many readers decried the very thought of work such as this appearing on the comic’s page. Others lauded their papers for both running the strips and making the suicide prevention guide available. When the dust settled and enough newsprint was expended to make a small forest disappear, seventy-eight of Funky’s papers ran articles on the story (the monitoring service only monitored papers with a circulation of fifty thousand and above, so smaller papers could have run stories they didn’t see) reaching an audience of almost 42 million readers. Four papers, including the Canton Repository and the Buffalo News, refused to run the strips. In the end, however, a majority of editors and readers gave me the space to tell my story and their permission to do work that mattered. With their imprimatur, it meant that, going forward, Funky Winkerbean could be different.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 8

The Caves of Steel

posted on October 14, 2020

The Caves of Steel is Isaac Asimov’s first robot novel. It’s where he gets to expand and build on the wonderful robot short stories that have preceded it. Even though the robot short stories were written over an expanded period of time, Asimov used the stories written after Caves, to backfill with events that cleverly lead up to this book. Reading The Complete Robot, as I did just before this book, allowed Asimov to delightfully and expertly set the table for Caves.

The early robot stories are behind us and we’re now looking at a far different different Earth where everyone lives cheek to jowl in cities built beneath the surface of the Earth. All this becomes the setting for a “buddy movie” featuring Elijah Baley, a policeman , and R. Daneel Olivaw, a robot as detectives trying to solve a murder. The robot we encounter here, specifically Daneel, is the most advanced ever created with the possible exception of RB-34/Herbie, the accidental robot in Liar that was capable of reading thoughts. With the set-up established, the book then becomes a unique fusion of the SF and mystery genres, and, with Asimov at the helm, it makes for an entertaining ride.

Reading this again after way too many years still finds the work as engaging as ever. Reading this work again after way too many years also means that I forgot who the murderer was, so in some ways it’s a fresh approach. As such, I find the the work still holds up to the glowing memory that I had of it. And now it’s on to Asimov’s second robot novel, The Naked Sun.


John Darling – Take 237

posted on October 11, 2020

This Sunday flowed out of a longer sequence in the dailies where Chippy, the hand puppet of Phil the Forecaster, ran for president obviously intending to install a puppet regime.