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Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Robert Silverberg

By: dakine01 Saturday July 19, 2014 4:05 am
A fannish jiant

Robert Silverberg

As is often the case, I’m not sure which of Robert Silverberg’s books I first read. In fact, it may well have been an anthology of some sort where he was both a contributor of a story or two as well as the editor. Here’s his Goodreads.com bio:

Robert Silverberg is one of science fiction’s most beloved writers, and the author of such contemporary classics as Dying Inside, Downward to the Earth and Lord Valentine’s Castle, as well as At Winter’s End, also available in a Bison Books edition. He is a past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the winner of five Nebula Awards and five Hugo Awards. In 2004 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America presented him with the Grand Master Award. Silverberg is one of twenty-nine writers to have received that distinction.

I’ve long known that Silverberg was and is a prolific writer but when I took a look at his wiki, I was a bit stunned. By my count he has 78 mostly science fiction books, 30 collections of short stories, 30 more anthology collections he has edited, and 77 non-fiction books. Needless to say, I have not come remotely close to reading all of his books.

I think I am most impressed by his non-fiction, even though I don’t think I have read any of it (looking through the titles and his pseudonyms none of them look familiar). Yet, the titles cover a lot of periods of history and biographical figures that I have found fascinating. Seventy-six of his 77 non-fiction works were written from 1960 – 1974, a period when the sci-fi field was in a lull but even during this period, he still was writing one or two award winning sci-fi books each year.

As I say, I’m not real sure which of Silverberg’s books I first read. I know I have read and enjoyed Lord Valentine’s Castle, the first of his Majipoor series. I have also read Majipoor Chronicles and Valentine Pontifex, the second and third Majipoor books. Another of his novels I know I have read and enjoyed is Gilgamesh the King, set in 2500 BCE. Gilgamesh the King is based upon the Epic of Gilgamesh derived from cuneiform tablets dating to 2100 BCE. There is a second Silverberg Gilgamesh book that takes him into the after life.

I’ve probably read more of the short story anthologies that Silverberg has edited and contributed to over the years. I had a period of probably ten to fifteen years where I read more short stories than novels. during this time, I know I read Legends I and Legends II (both more short novel collections than short stories), Worlds of Wonder, Nebula Awards Showcase, 2001, Voyagers in Time, and Tomorrow’s Worlds.

One surprising thing about Silverberg is how little of his writing has been used for TV or movies either one. His IMDB page shows only five writing credits. The most well known film is Bicentennial Man starring Robin Williams and based on an Asimov short story of the same name and an Asimov/Silverberg collaboration titled Positronic Man. Otherwise, there are a couple of TV movies, one short movie and an episode of the re-make of The Twilight Zone.

Sunday Food: Ham

By: dakine01 Sunday July 13, 2014 4:05 am

When I was a child, I learned very early that there were two types of hams, “city” hams and “country” hams. My grandfather had cured country hams, serving the ham in my grandparents restaurant. Then my uncle took over the ham business and grew it a bit larger. In last week’s Sunday Food post on Lard, I mentioned the “hog killin’” when I was ten. The primary reason for the hog killin’ was to get the hams that Uncle Howard cured and sold although I think that year may have been the last year he raised and killed his own hogs, later turning to Kahn’s Meats in Cincinnati for the hams.

country ham

fried Country Ham slice

Country hams are, or at least were, a big business in Kentucky. My uncle showed his hams at the Kentucky State Fair each year and in I think it was 1974, won the Grand Champion. There is a Country Ham Breakfast each year at the Fair where that year’s Grand Champion ham is auctioned for charity. If I remember correctly, the year Uncle Howard won it, his ham set a then record by selling for $10K. Last year’s Grand Champion sold for $350K. The current record looks to be $600K (2011).

Smithfield Ham is probably the most widely known of country hams. I have ordered from Broadbent Hams and Meacham Hams as they are both Kentucky based and online.

City hams were all the other, non-country hams – at least as far as my father was concerned. While country hams usually have a sharp, salty taste, the city hams (“deli hams” as a variant) are the cold cut, lunch counter hams. Or the canned hams. They are nowhere near as salty as the country hams.

Which is best? Well, the country ham is generally much more expensive but for folks who love the country ham, it is well worth the price. A one pound package of “Danish ham” at the grocery may run $3 to $4 depending on the brand.

This is a Google search for cooking country ham that covers from individual slices to the whole ham. This Google search covers cooking all types of hams.

As with every other food item, your choice of hams is dependent on your own taste and experience. I will admit that as a child, I was not all that fond of country ham, preferring instead, slices of “city” ham on crackers. Nowadays, as an adult, I do like country ham sandwiches (especially on salt risen toast) or the traditional southern breakfast of fried country ham, grits, eggs, and red-eye gravy. If I do not have any country ham available, I am perfectly fine eating a slice or two of pan broiled ham at breakfast or dinner either one. Most grocery stores have cooked and uncooked hams as well as individual slices of varying thickness and as always, it is all a matter of your individual taste.

Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Louis L’Amour

By: dakine01 Saturday July 12, 2014 4:05 am

Louis L’Amour probably stands next to Zane Grey as a writer of westerns. From his wiki intro:
Haunted Mesa

Louis Dearborn L’Amour (22 March 1908 – 10 June 1988) was an American author. His books consisted primarily of Western novels (though he called his work ‘frontier stories’), however he also wrote historical fiction (The Walking Drum), science fiction (The Haunted Mesa), nonfiction (Frontier), as well as poetry and short-story collections. Many of his stories were made into movies. L’Amour’s books remain popular and most have gone through multiple printings. At the time of his death some of his 105 existing works were in print (89 novels, 14 short-story collections, and two full-length works of nonfiction) and he was considered “one of the world’s most popular writers”.[1][2]

As I looked through the list of L’Amour’s works at Goodreads.com, I realized that I have not read many of his books although I have seen a number of regular and TV movies from L’Amours books. One L’Amour book I know I have read and enjoyed very much is The Haunted Mesa, a science-fiction (cross dimensional) story set in the southwest. From the wiki of the book:

The Haunted Mesa is a science fiction novel by Louis L’Amour, set in the American Southwest amidst the ruins of the Anasazi. L’Amour attempts, as in others of his works, to suggest a reasonable explanation for the phenomena attributed to The Bermuda Triangle, i.e., portals between worlds or different facets of this world.

Other L’Amour books I have read over the years are Sitka (set in Alaska) and High Lonesome.

As I said, I have seen more movies based on L’Amour’s work than I have read his actual books. Hondo with John Wayne, Utah Blaine with Rory Calhoun, and Heller in Pink Tights with Anthony Quinn. Sam Elliott has made a pretty good career out of Louis L’Amour books made into TV movies starring in The Sacketts, The Shadow Riders, The Quick and the Dead, and Conagher. Tom Selleck co-starred with Elliott in the first two and also starred in Crossfire Trail.

L’Amour wrote a novelization of the script for the epic western movie How the West Was Won.