Enter the geeks
Just because you're not nerd enough to have heard of it doesn't make the arrival of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop at UCSD any less a big deal. The 40-year-old summer writing course has produced such sci-fi luminaries as Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow (who will be in residence this year) and Kim Stanley Robinson.
Michigan State University, the program's home for the last 36 years, kicked them to the curb last year amid budget cuts. A lengthy search led to the selection of UCSD, the alma mater of Robinson, who is now its director.
“I have a very high opinion of UCSD,” Robinson told CityBeat. “I know it has somehow been the spawning ground for a lot of science fiction writers.”
As it turns out, UCSD has produced an unusually high fraction of big-name authors in the world of sci-fi and fantasy: Raymond Feist, Vernor Vinge and David Brinn, among others.
“Plus, it's a gigantic science school, and the whole biotech world is in San Diego,” he said.
Robinson plans to bring together UCSD researchers and engineers to talk to the newbie writers about the leading edge of research.
“Part of our hope here is we'll get a multi-faceted conversation going,” said Michael Bernstein, UCSD's dean of Arts and Humanities. “As a colleague said to me, ‘Science-fiction writing as the distant early-warning radar for scientific change.'”
Rock on, Murphy
Former San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy's remained pretty much out of sight since his last day in office in July 2005. Murphy announced his resignation three months prior, not too long after Time magazine placed him among the nation's three worst mayors and a grassroots recall movement started taking shape
We've been wondering when and where Murphy would resurface. A City Council meeting? A court hearing on the city's pension mess?
How about a rock-music dive?
Indeed, Monday morning, CityBeat music editor Troy Johnson started receiving e-mails about a Murphy sighting at The Casbah Sunday night (including one from Casbah owner Tim Mays, who confirmed that the former mayor paid for his tickets and didn't use his local-celebrity status to get on the guest list).
Murphy was there with his son to see Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. Malkmus is the former lead singer of influential '90s indie-rock band Pavement—“one of the finest bands” of that decade, Village Voice music writer Robert Christgau has opined. The Jicks, Malkmus' most recent post-Pavement project, includes Janet Weiss on drums (Sleater-Kinney, Quasi).
Johnson tried to contact Murphy through John Kern, his former chief of staff, with no luck. But, by all accounts, Murphy was enjoying the show, even waiting to talk to Malkmus afterward.
Taste in music is a window to the soul. Dick Murphy, we underestimated you. We criticized you for being inaccessible and toeing the Republican line without ever knowing that you and CityBeat have something in common. We love Pavement. We like Malkmus—he's not strayed far from the dissonant, yet melodic, thinking-person's pop that defined Pavement—but we definitely like Pavement more. Which do you prefer?
Someday, maybe, we'll meet up in the Atari Lounge and chat over a pint of Guinness, at a Yo La Tengo show, perhaps?