Wednesday, July 20, 2005


In the morning I got up and made a cup of Earl Grey tea while watching the Rosella parrots in the backyard. Every time they visit, I'm struck by how vivid their colouring is; if you saw it in a textbook you would probably assume the printers had exaggerated the tint.

My sister was still recovering from her weekend trip to Devonport. She is such a creature of late nights that it only takes a couple of early morning starts to really set her back on her heels. It will probably take another day till she's over it.

The Sunday morning sermon at church this week was from our second minister (R2 I usually call him) and went right back to basics with the fifth chapter of Genesis in a sermon titled "Adam's Family".

From one man, the book of Acts tells us, God made all the races of humanity. And since God created Adam, we are all descended from God the Creator. As we try to become more like Jesus, the family resemblance becomes more marked.

A lot of the Old Testament is devoted to carefully noting the lives and family links of God's people. The individual and the family group are both important in the eyes of God. This chapter traces the family tree from Adam down to Noah.

Like Enoch, we all need to walk with God in ways that please Him. [Trivia question: who were the only two men never to die? Enoch and Elijah]

Noah's true glory was neither as a boat-builder nor as a descendant of Adam, but as a link to the birth of Jesus the redeemer.

Praise to the Lord --
O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that has life and breath
come now with praises before Him!
Let the 'Amen' sound
from His people again:
gladly forever adore Him!

Later in the day I went out to the Federation Concert Hall down near the waterfront. There was a free concert on that afternoon -- a jazz quartet featuring guitar, drums, saxophone and Hammond organ.

The music was good, but what gave it that extra something was that it was a live broadcast for the national radio programme Sunday Live. If I had a coughing fit or one of the musicians fell off the stage, it would have been beamed instantly across the country by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Classic FM network.

It was the first time I've seen a radio programme being broadcast (aside from the time I was interviewed by the ABC about the H.G. Wells anniversary) and it was much more straightforward than the days of Old Time Radio.

The announcer, Lee Parker, vanished behind a screen when she wasn't actually introducing items, and the microphones were nothing like the elaborate gear seen in old photographs.

Curious to think that once nearly all radio shows were done like this -- staged live and beamed out across the country. Comedy, drama, variety, children's shows. Remind me sometime to tell you the story about Bing Crosby and the birth of the tape-recorder industry.

That evening we were listening to the late show on ABC radio while Julie was feeding her animals. The Sunday night quiz segment is usually made up of questions about religion, but to my surprise after the first couple of questions they began to concentrate on science fiction movies that had some religious tie-in.

I picked up my mobile phone and started dialling. By the time I got through, we were down to the final question. John Cleary played a piece of the theme music from 2001 and asked "How is that music related to the statement 'God is dead'?"

The next couple of contestants fell at this hurdle and I sat there thinking "Come to me, come to me..."

Then I was on. "Michael from Hobart -- can you link those two?"

"Yes," I said cautiously. "The music 'Thus Spake Zarathustra' and the quote are both linked to..."(I paused imperceptibly as I realised I wasn't sure how to pronounce the name correctly ) "...Nietzsche, Friedrich Nietzsche." I slurred the surname a little and hoped for the best.

"Correct! You're this week's winner." Phew!

I finished the novel I was reading and decided to take a look at one of the books I bought at the Thylacon convention. Musing on this, I mentally ran through the list of stories that were involved. Which one did I want to read first?

It only took a moment to decide. Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement.

This was one of the novels I read when I first started reading science fiction in the 1960s, one of those snazzy Penguin paperbacks with an upmarket modern-art cover (no spaceships or monsters for Penguin!).

I'm fairly sure it was the first novel I read in which the narrator wasn't a human being. A memorable character from a high-gravity planet, Barlennan is (to be candid) a centipede.

Even forty years later I remember how utterly fascinating I found the book.

"High time I read it again," I thought and reached for volume 3 of The Essential Hal Clement. .

Murray Leinster, Cordwainer Smith and Eric Frank Russell will have to wait till later, much as I love them.

Thanks to NESFA Press for bringing back into print these great old authors. And thanks to Justin Ackroyd for having them on his stall at the convention.


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