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So Gardner went into the hospital for treatment of mild congestive heart failure, caught massive antibiotic-resistant infections while in the hospital, and has now shuffled off this mortal coil.

One of my greatest regrets in life is that I never managed to sell anything to Gardner. Because once you did, you knew you’d made it as a science fiction writer. I state that he was the best editor of short science fiction ever because during his 20 years as editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction, stories that he purchased and edited for the magazine won Nebula awards 40 times and Hugo awards over 40 times, as well as he himself winning Editor of the Year 18 times. His editorship of the magazine resulted in a magazine whose quality still astounds. I can pick up, say, a 1988 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and it’s still mind-blowing. You can’t say that about a 30+ year old issue of any other science fiction magazine.

Now, then there’s people who will bring up John W. Campbell. Yes, Campbell basically defined the modern science fiction genre. But: he was relevant for far less time than Gardner was. By the mid 50’s Campbell was basically irrelevant to the field. The leading edge had leaped over to Galaxy under the editorship of Horace Gold and, later, Fred Pohl, and most of the leading writers of the field had deserted him. Even during his glory years in the late 40’s / early 50’s the stories were laughably crude by today’s standards. You won’t enjoy many of them today. You’ll laugh at how ridiculous they are, perhaps, but you won’t enjoy them. Meanwhile, pick up any issue of Asimov’s edited by Gardner and prepare to have your mind blown. They were that good, usually 2/3rds of the nominees for the Hugo and Nebula for short fiction during his editorship of Asimov’s were first printed in Asimov’s.

The science fiction short story arguably hit its peak during Gardner’s editorship of Asimov’s. He published stories that were both literary and scientific, hard science fiction and things you could barely recognized as science fiction or fantasy. And they were *good*, tight and beautiful and full of impact and meaning. Not by accident, either. Joe Haldeman once noted that Gardner had gutted and filleted one of his shorter novels into being a novella to run it in Asimov’s, completely ruining it in Joe’s opinion at the time. The end result, “The Hemingway Hoax”, won both the Hugo and Nebula Award for Novella in 1991. Needless to say, Joe changed his opinion :).

That’s what Gardner was as an editor: Someone who could take one of the best works by one of the best writers in science fiction, and make it better. Sadly, as the Internet era took its toll on print magazines, it became harder to maintain that quality and eventually he retired as editor and returned to writing. He was a good writer too. But not as good a writer as he was an editor. (And I say this despite the fact that he won both a Nebula and a Hugo for his writing).

His work as an anthologist was also praise-worthy. Starting in 1984, he compiled the annual “Year’s Best Science Fiction”, a huge doorstopper of a book that collected the best short science fiction published in the English language, along with commentary about the works and the state of the industry. His taste at selecting stories for this anthology was as refined as his taste for selecting stories for his magazine. His work as an anthologist became perhaps even more important as the Internet gutted the traditional science fiction print magazines and the publishing of short fiction spread across the Internet to all manner of small sites, making it difficult for someone with a busy life like mine to find it. I mean, I subscribe to two of the traditional print magazines today (albeit delivered via Kindle now as vs paper, I just don’t have room for paper), but they aren’t anywhere near the quality that they were back in the last final gasp of the print magazines, during Gardner’s editorship of Asimov’s and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s editorship of F&SF. The rest of what’s published in short science fiction is scattered all over the Internet or in small ‘zines with a circulation of sometimes and never. Gardner Dozois’s work at ferreting out the gems from around the Internet was tremendously valuable to the field, bringing together a fragmented market into something visible to science fiction fans.

So that was Gardner Dozois. He was 70 years old. We probably lost ten more years of his work. So it goes.

– Badtux the Sad Penguin

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I have to laugh at the ammosexual boobs who think the Viet Cong guerrillas won the Vietnam War and thus this proves that unorganized peasants with AK-47’s can defeat the US Army. They didn’t. They were totally destroyed as an effective fighting force in 1968 when the North Vietnamese deliberately sent them all into battle as a distraction against regular U.S. Army units.

All fighting after that was by regular units of the North Vietnamese Army vs regular units of the U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The NVA were armed with artillery and tanks and surface to air missiles but had trouble moving these into South Vietnam when they infiltrated units into South Vietnam, thus the illusion that the US was fighting a bunch of peasants armed with light weapons. But they weren’t. It was just that U.S. bombing made it hard to move the heavy weaponry into South Vietnam. Once the U.S. left the war and quit bombing, it turned into conventional warfare between conventional army units of the North Vietnamese Army and the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam. It was regular units of the North Vietnamese Army backed by Soviet-provided tanks and Soviet-provided artillery, surface-to-air missiles, and other such heavy weapons who conquered South Vietnam, not some random civilians with AK-47’s.

The myth that the Viet Kong won the Vietnam War is an old one and a deep one, fed by stupid newspapermen and stupid movies and racism on the part of Army grunts over the course of decades. But in the end, it took tanks and artillery and other heavy weaponry to win the war for North Vietnam — not a buncha peasants armed with AK-47’s. All that the peasants ever managed to do was become dead bodies. Which is all that would happen if the ammosexuals decided to take on the U.S. Army, too.

– Badtux the Military Penguin

While doing research for the current novel, I spent time looking at what happens to the least amongst us when they die. Our poor and homeless die in the streets regularly, except that the cause of death is always listed as “exposure” or “pneumonia” or some other disease that comes with poor diet and poor housing and lack of medical care, rather than “nobody gives a shit about the least amongst us, unlike what the Bible says to do.” The dead bodies get scooped up and hauled off to the morgue on a regular basis, often never identified as anything other than “John Doe” or “Jane Doe”, then after a belated attempt to identify them over the course of a couple of weeks by trying to match missing persons reports with dead bodies or a belated attempt to find relatives who can afford to claim them, they’re incinerated and buried in a mass grave somewhere along with others who died indigent or anonymous or just nobody cared.

Eichmann would be proud of the silent and efficient way in which we disappear the dead bodies of our untermenschen, our unidentified, our unwanted, our poorest, the least amongst us. His mass graves were messy things later opened up and used as evidence in a war crimes tribunal against him, after which the Israelis hanged him. Our mass graves are quiet, and the ashes in them will never testify against the society that put them there.

– Badtux the Grave Penguin

Note: The state of California is especially bad here. In California, it is not permitted for non-relatives of the deceased to claim his body for burial. So if the deceased’s family is all dead, nope, he can’t be buried in the family plot. His ashes get buried in a potter’s field somewhere.

Apparently the law in question was intended to keep random people from claiming corpses in order to use them for nefarious purposes like, say, necrophilia. Yay, California. Master of unintended consequences ever since 1849.

So, ho hum, another school shooting today. Ten people died, mostly kids, as usual. The shooter did the deed with guns his father had just left sitting around the house — a shotgun and a .38 revolver. Which was quite legal for his father to do in the state of Texas, which has no gun storage laws requiring guns to be secured if they’re not on your person or being used.

So, as we hit an average of one school shooting per week (U S A! U S A! MAGA! YAY!), the solution that the NRA-backed politicos are talking about is…. reducing the number of doors at schools?

Uhm, wut?

Well, gosh, they have a point, I guess. If a school has *no* doors, then it’s perfectly safe! Oh, how are the kids going to get into the school? Well, we just set up Star Trek style transporter booths outside the schools and teleport the kids into the school building. But only the organic parts of the kids get transported. No clothing that guns could be hidden in, and, of course, no guns. Once they arrive, naked as the day they were born, they are issued hospital gowns and then crayons, paper, and books (crayons because we can’t issue pens and pencils, why, some kid might put another kid’s eyes out!). At the end of the day they are teleported back to the booth they arrived from, where they are reunited with their clothing and get to go home where they then get to study with their at-home copy of their books.

Or we could enact strict gun controls like every other civilized country, which have had zero school shootings this year. But that’s far less practical than teleporter beams, apparently.

So it goes.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

91,300 words. That’s how far I am in writing the novel right now. I’m aiming for 120,000 words, so we’ll see how far I get towards that goal.

I have photo albums here. Old photo albums, old family photo albums. Some of the people in these albums are people that I knew when I was growing up, great-aunts and uncles, cousins of various degrees. Others… I have no idea.

There is one photo in particular that I look at from time to time. There are a number of children gathered on a swing set in early 70’s attire, complete with bell bottoms and button-up vests. I know three of the children in that photo. One of them is dead now, dead of diabetes that she refused to control. Two others are still alive but it is many years since I saw them last. In this photo they are young and healthy and dressed in that groovy early 70’s way, and will be forever like that in my memory.

Someday all of us will be gone, and then someone will come across this photo, and look at it, and then throw it into the trash. Because without the memories, it is just a photograph of some children, children that no one remembers, children that no one would ever know.

Went into a dark place for the past few thousand words of the story. It will get lighter. Sort of.

– Badtux the Writer Penguin

By which I mean, Karl Marx.

May 5th was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.

Hard-core Marxists are fond of saying “true Marxism has never been tried.” Well, there’s a reason for that. It’s because true Marxism is unworkable. That was the biggest reason why Communism arose — as it became clear that real people just don’t behave in ways that make Marxism workable, the creators of the Communist Revolution in Russia decided that what was needed was a dictatorship of the proletariat to train the people, over the generations, to behave in the ways needed for Marxism to work. In the end that dictatorship became a self-propagating mechanism that completely forgot about why it was created in the first place. After all, what dictator really wants to relinquish power?

Still, none of that changes the fact that Karl Marx correctly diagnosed the problems of the capitalist system of his era, a capitalist system that monopolized the output of workers at gunpoint into the hands of leeches who would be bankrupt if not for the output they stole from workers at gunpoint, a capitalist system that viewed workers as disposable, safety nets as dangerous weakness, and old people should just die, already, as useless eaters. His policy prescriptions for dealing with those problems were unworkable and eventually distorted into something horrific (the Communist system that killed tens of millions of people worldwide, maybe even hundreds of millions, over the roughly hundred years that it was extant), but his observations were correct — and are becoming true again. Alas.

– Badtux the History Penguin

I had someone mention “Agenda 21” today as part of some conspiracy theory. And that was pretty much my response: “Agenda 21? Is that similar to Area 51? Or Pier 1?”

He then replied: “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”

And of course I immediately responded:

That’s okay. My tin foil hat fits closely, so I’m sure the mind control rays being beamed through the chemtrails aren’t affecting my body full of toxins like dihydrogen monoxide (which is *deadly*, thousands of people per year die from inhaling the stuff!).

Though I think what finally does me in will most likely be my cat. I swear he’s trying to kill me. Every time I try to go somewhere in my house, he’s underfoot trying to trip me….

Hey, do you think my cat could be a Russian agent?

Thus far no response.

Heh.

– Badtux the Poking-conspiracy-theorists Penguin