Three Monkeys - Ten Minutes : Presidents Page December 2001

The deadline for the 'zine is upon me and I have no inspiration at all as to what I can write about this month. So I shall try the old technique of writing any old rubbish at all in the hope that putting any old words on screen will stir the creative processes. Luckily I have at my disposal, a ready made set of old rubbish that I can trot out to get this started. Well not necessarily rubbish, but old in the sense that I am repeating something that I have gone over before - the notices about upcoming meetings.

December is the quiz and Xmas PIG - don't forget to bring along something to at and drink. January is our pub meeting - we are at the Ferrymans discussing beer or whatever else we might wish to consider. February, Norman will be giving us the inside story when the final veil of secrecy is lifted on that film. March, we will be graced by a visit from our patron Philip Mann. Its been way too long since Phil came to see us.

So now we come to April, and maybe there is a tale to tell. It seems that Bill from Armageddon ended up with one more guest than he expected for his April pulp culture expo in Auckland. It seems he was offered the chance to get someone who was just too good to refuse. So Bill has arranged a little fund raising trip down to Wellington to help cover the extra expense of getting this person here. It just so happens that the timing fits in really well with our regular Phoenix main meeting in April. The upshot is that Jason Carter is going to coming to Phoenix for a special event.

So who is Jason Carter you ask. Well some of you are asking. The Babylon 5 fans out there know that he plays the character of Marcus Cole - the brooding ranger with the Ivanova fixation. This visit could be quite an event for us, so we have a bit of planning to do. In particular we need to, really quickly, get an estimate of how many people are likely to turn up. So I need you to all try to get some feedback from your contacts as to how many would turn up to such an event if say there was a $10 entry charge.

It has actually been quite an eventful week for me. Apart from it being my birthday and the discussions with Bill about Jason Carter, there has also been a huge number of things going on at work. One of the projects was a bit of a first for me and not without some trepidation on the part of all involved. While I have been involved with projects which have been tied to major advertising campaigns before, the project which came to a culmination this week got coverage on the 6pm TV news and other news sources. On TV3 it was the first item after the regular roundup from Afghanistan. I have to say it was an interesting sensation waiting to see what the coverage was going to do to us.

From time to time, an author or publisher takes it into their head to write a sequel to a famous work of many years earlier. The author of that earlier work is dead, but what they produced was so important, that there seems to be a market for more. The decision to write such a work is usually more financial than a real desire to extend the earlier work. The plan is presumably to cash in on the fame of that earlier book or books to generate sales for the new piece. It does not have to be strictly speaking a sequel either as the recent Dune prequels by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson show. I recently read the first of these and while they were competently done, I could not shake the voice that kept saying that ol' Frank would have done it so much better and without so much padding. There have been other recent sequels about which much the same could be said. I'm thinking here of the sequels the H. G. Wells' Time Machine, Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids.

I have just finished reading Flatterland by Ian Stewart. I am sure that a few of you will know that this is a sequel to Flatland by E. A. Abbott. But I am equally sure that there are not as many who will know this work compared to the those who know about the famous works mentioned above. The original work was written in 1884 and dealt with "A Square" a geometric shaped person who lived in a two dimensional world. This slim volume was both a social satire of Victorian England and an educational work in geometry. When I was in school, I read this book many times.

The more recent work is clearly written by someone who feels as I do about that wonderful book especially since there is much less commercial benefit to be gained from association with the older work. But there is some cachet still to be gained from the association and with that come the responsibility to create something worthy of the linkage. On consideration, Stewart has managed what most of the other sequel writers has managed. The work is competent, fatter but not in the same class as the original. But Flatterland can do something that the other sequels cannot. It can be useful. If you are looking for a fairly easy to read overview of modern concepts in geometry and how that ties into other fields of mathematical and Physics theory then you really should consider this book. It may help next time you are struggling with the concepts in a Stephen Baxter novel.