Round up #159: Brian Aldiss, Amazon device sale

Round up #159: Brian Aldiss, Amazon device sale

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

I was lucky to get this shot yesterday: it was overcast where I was in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the sun was only visible for about five seconds when I took it (just in the right place at the right time):


I zoomed in on it on my phone, and then did a screenshot, which is why it’s a bit fuzzy. I tweeted this, approximately: “That’s no moon, that’s a space sta– never mind, it is the moon.” 😉

Brian Aldiss has reportedly died

Brian Aldiss (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

was literally a Science Fiction Grand Master (that’s an actual title bestowed by the SFWA…Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and an inductee into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Aldiss was not really an author who mainstream readers were going to embrace…quite simply, the work was often imaginative, even weird. That didn’t stop it from being adapted into movies a number of times, but a moviegoer who only sees a few movies a year wasn’t likely to see Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound or Brothers of the Head (conjoined twin rockstars…but much more than that), although many saw Steven Spielberg’s A.I., based on an Aldiss short story.

I’d say that the Helliconia series is probably the best known now.

Oh, and Aldiss was also a successful anthologist.

Definitely one that we geeks claimed as our own.

I just checked, and fortunately

Frankenstein Unbound (at AmazonSmile*)

is available as part of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

at no additional cost to members.

If you are a KU member and want to try Aldiss, I’d start there. It’s actually the first thing that comes to mind for Aldiss for me, and it’s probably not what you expect.

Happy birthday, Ray Bradbury!

Today (August 22nd locally as I write this) is

Ray Bradbury‘s


There was a time when Bradbury was one of the ABC’s of science fiction: Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke.

They were quite different, though.

Isaac Asimov was the polymath, the one who knew everything about everything. It was widely thought that Asimov had written a book (often one of the best on the topic) in every major section of the Dewey Decimal system, but I believe it turned out there was one missing. I think of Asimov (who I saw in person once, but didn’t know personally) as big-hearted and jovial.

Arthur C. Clarke was the scientist. Clarke was rational, even when writing later on in life about “oddball” topics. Clarke was quiet and wry, not like the larger than life Asimov.

Bradbury, though…Bradbury was the poet. Not that Bradbury only wrote poetry or that the other two didn’t write any, but even when writing prose, it was usually poetic. The Martian Chronicles, for example, is hardly hard science fiction like Andy Weir’s The Martian. Bradbury was the one of the three who got the most mainstream respect (including a special Pulitzer citation), and I sometimes doubted that the “science fiction author” label actually belonged there. A great writer and a geeky writer, certainly, but even Fahrenheit 451 is much more about people and society than a projection of technological and scientific trends. I’m not diminishing Bradbury, of course (or saying that science fiction writers can’t be great)…it was just interesting to me that the author seen as one of the best science fiction writers by the mainstream wasn’t typical of the traditional and narrow definition of the genre.

Amazon devices sale


Back to School Sale (at AmazonSmile*)

includes significant discounts on Amazon Kindles, Fire Tablets, and especially on Echoes.

One of the biggest discounts is on the

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is an absolutely giant 44% off, making “The Tower” only $99.99! That’s in either black or white.

I’ve seen it reported that this goes until September 4th, but I’m not seeing that on the product page. I do think it’s about time for an Echo “refresh”, a new model, so this could be designed to sell down existing stock.

Two other Echo devices are also on sale:

Each of the

Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) (at AmazonSmile*)

except for the top of the line Oasis is $20 off.

As far as the

Fire Tablets (at AmazonSmile*)

go, the Fire 7 is $39.99 ($10 off), the Fire HD 8 is $59.99 ($20 off), the Fire 7 Kids Edition is $20 off ($79.99), and the Fire 8 HD Kids Edition is $99.99 ($30 off).

Not on sale? The Fire TV family…because, you know, students never watch TV. 😉

The blossoming of quality TV often has its roots in books

Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Thirteen Reasons Why, American Gods, Big Little Lies…the buzziest TV series nowadays are often (but not always) based on books.

Streaming television, which allows binge-watching, may be enabling this. Books are long and complicated, and it’s tough to adapt them to a movie (which is only a few hours long at most generally). Even a series of movies may find it a challenge. Even a short streaming series season is usually at least eight episodes of an hour each.

Another factor is that streaming television isn’t as restricted as broadcast television in terms of content…it is regulated differently. Netflix and HBO can have more nudity, violence, and “obscene language” than ABC or CBS, which gives it the flexibility to more closely capture some novels.

I think it also helps that the deep pockets and Emmy recognition of Amazon and others has drawn more movie stars to the small (in some cases, very small, as in SmartPhones) screen. Movie stars and creators, because of the freedom and resources.

That, in turn, helps attract more money.

Movies based on books are still part of the cinema landscape, of course, but The Dark Tower wasn’t exactly a blockbuster…and we’ll see how It does. I watched an “experience” of a preview for It in virtual reality yesterday. It had some scares and was creepy, but Tim Curry (full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Tim’s) was creepier. 🙂

We’ll see how it goes…

Bonus: want to see one of our dogs do something cute and smart? “Treadmill, Elf!” at YouTube

My current Amazon Giveaway:

We Can Do It! giveaway

That’s for a chance to win my sibling’s book:

We Can Do It!: A Problem Solving Graphic Novel Guide for General Physics (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! 🙂 



7 Responses to “Round up #159: Brian Aldiss, Amazon device sale”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    It looks like the eclipse in SF was about the same as here in Port St Lucie FL. We had mostly sunny skies with only a few clouds that would occasionally block the sun. I hadn’t been paying much attention to this eclipse because as a kid in the late 50’s near NYC there was one that was almost total. I can remember we took pieces of glass and used candles to coat them with lampblack — making the glass totally opaque save when looking at sun. So solar eclipses were not on my bucket list. Nevertheless, I decided to take a gander. I had no glass pieces nor any candles so I used 4 sunglasses on top of each other, and only for quick glimpses. Afterwards, I realized I should have done what you did, and just used my smartphone to take pictures. I guess my head was back in the fifties (:grin).

    Brian Aldiss was one of the primary authors that came to represent the “New Wave” in science fiction. For the most part I didn’t find New Wave Sci-Fi to my taste. Although there were a few authors: Phillip Jose Farmer (Riverworld), Frank Herbert (Dune), and John Brunner (Stand on Zanzibar) that I found enjoyable. I can’t say the same though about Aldiss.

    I actually met Isaac Asimov twice at street fairs in Manhattan. He would sit in the street behind a folding table hawking I know not what. Once was on the Upper Westside (where he lived), and once in the village (near where I lived). I read most of his stuff a long time ago. Recently I reread a couple of his things (and also some Arthur C Clarke), and I found them very dry, and not very entertaining. 40-50 years makes a difference I guess. Of the golden age authors only Heinlein can I say still is enjoyable (though none of his later work — after The Moon is a Harsh Mistress).

    Its a little jarring when you mention “Back to School” — down here in Florida the kids are coming to the end of their second week of back to school (:grin). They didn’t get out either until early June — they only get barely 8 weeks. When I was a kid we got 10-12 weeks (depending upon which school you went to).

    I don’t watch TV much any more, though once a year I do visit my brother in Athens GA where he is a professor at UGA. He has “cut the cord” and only has Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. He and my sister are accomplished couch potatoes, and they binge watch incessantly. After they go to bed I (the night owl) will indulge in a little binging as well (:grin). But in general TV (whether binged or not) just takes too much time — I have too many calls upon my time as it is.

    I’ve noticed an upsurge in 3rd party Echo devices. One, an Echo Dot Clone (without Bluetooth) sells for $35! I hope some of these “Back to School” sales also represent some inventory clearance in advance of holiday device announcements.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Yes, I remember longer school vacations…and longer school days! It was really complicated for us when our now adult kid wasn’t allowed to stay on (high school) campus every the school day ended, which I think was 2:40. I was really surprised that even the library was off limits…only sports teams got to stay (which suggested to me a not unusual preference for athletics over academics).

      I do think there are holiday announcements coming…this might not be exactly reducing stock for that, but it’s an added benefit. 🙂

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I saw a news report that Amazon is planning to give Prime members an additional discount when they shop at Whole Foods. Does this mean they’ll be sending out courtesy cards, or will it be done through smart phone apps?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I think I’m going to write more about what I see as likely for Whole Foods powered by Amazon. I think a card would be pretty unlikely. It’s older tech and requires both the customer and Amazon to go through a whole new set of hoops. They give Prime discounts at the brick-and-mortar Amazon Books, and don’t require them there.

      They would really like you to have the app, so that’s one way to go. It could even eventually be used to pay, and for the cashierless checkout. As an alternative, they could have you enter your e-mail address and Amazon password at check-out…and they could also then give you the option to pay with your Amazon account.

      With Bluetooth or other short range communication, the store could even know when you entered it (based on geofencing your phone) and show you coupons, just like Minority Report.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        Well, my only phone is plugged into the wall jack in my house so……….sigh!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        It won’t be a problem. They could have you enter your Amazon credentials at check-out…or perhaps recognize your payment method (credit/debit card) or even have you designate one for Whole Foods use with a PIN (Personal Identification Number).

        I’m confident you’ll be able to take advantage of it. 🙂

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        It’s possible that Amazon could provide Prime members with a “virtual” card. This is usually done via scannable “QR” codes. Walgreens does this (usually it’s scanned at checkout from your phone). Airline boarding passes use QR codes as well. They don’t have to be on a phone screen — you can just print the code out on paper, and then it can be scanned at checkout — no phone required.

        I often print my boarding passes, and let the QR code be scanned at boarding (I could also bring the code up on the screen of my phone, but I find scanning QR codes from paper is a little more reliable).

        Depending how Amazon implements the whole foods “Prime” shopper program. They could ask for your email (or phone number)at checkout, and have you key in a pin — just as you do when paying with debit/credit cards.

        We’ll just have to wait and see how they implement it. It will take some technical modifications to Whole Foods’ checkout systems that will take some time.

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