Blashfield Address, American Academy of Arts & Letters, 2013

One day in the late spring of 1983, toward the end of my junior year at the University of Pittsburgh, I stopped by during office hours to see my poetry teacher, Ed Ochester, up on the fifth floor of the Cathedral of Learning. I had just been asked to join a band that some guys I knew were putting together. It’s possible, looking back, that I went to see Ed because I was excited, and wanted to share the news with a paternal figure who was likely to be more excited than my father about my imminent baptism in the…


NOTE ON NAREK

Born into the upper-caste, politically prominent qNaqoan kinship unit in 2364 (Earth reckoning), in the Romulan capital, Ki Baratan.

Parents, uncles, aunts, siblings and cousins — up to 270 can live in the most prosperous (or the most impoverished) kinship compounds — all had careers in Romulan government, diplomacy, and halls of power.

It’s not easy to shine in a family like that. It was even harder for Narek (his “open name”, the average Romulan having nine names, each with its own social or religious function), because he grew up in the shadow of his (one year)…


Reading the accounts of Scott Rudin’s present and former employees, of the abuse they suffered and were expected to endure at Scott Rudin Productions, has broken my heart.

In the roughly twenty years that I regularly collaborated with Scott, I worked with and got to know many of his employees — a generation of them — from the VPs, to the researchers, to the assistants who worked the phones. …


Romulan pixmit card featuring the Dirge Sisters, Seb-Cheneb (L) and Seb-Natan.

Version recorded by Prof. Ramdha of K’mu University, Romulus.

This myth is believed to descend from ancient Vulcan, long before the Time of Awakening and the departure of those rebel Vulcans who eventually settled on Romulus. It forms part of the Ilqoant Telant, or Book of Uncoverings, a collection of myths that, while they no longer form the basis of religious belief, are widely read and known to all literate Romulans, and have been retold in countless plays, operas, poems, films, holos, etc.

To understand the myth of Seb-Cheneb and Ganmadan we first have to know something of the creation of the world, which happened this way:

In the…


Condensed from various SI (Starfleet Intelligence) analyses, accuracy unknown.

Two Romulans, goes an old Romulan proverb, three conspiracies. As Vulcan culture is rooted in logic, and Klingon in honor, the foundation of Romulan society is secrecy.

Their culture is an endless series of variations on themes of concealment, the covert, the hidden: masks, pseudonyms, conspiracies, layers of deception, cover stories.

Traditional Romulan compounds — Romulans live in kinship units — are built at the center of a kind of hedge maze whose outer perimeter is often contrived to look like a “natural” grove of trees, as if, within, there were…


SOME NOTES ON FREECLOUD

Freec Out in a Moonage Daydream

Introduction

Freecloud is a planet in the Alpha Doradus system, Iconia sector, Beta Quadrant. Initially settled in 2180 by a schismatic group of Earth-descended Anarcho-Existentialists from the planet Silentum. Until the Federation drawdown of 2385, Freecloud was one of a handful of Federation-affiliated star systems in the so-called Thread, a narrow “isthmus” connecting two larger areas of Federation-controlled space, surrounded on all sides by the Klingon and Romulan empires. Freecloud’s proximity to three major star-civilizations and several important outer-Beta Quadrant trade routes, and its location just beyond the negotiated terminus of the Neutral Zone, along…


On the 45th Anniversary of a Classic

In 1976, my mother, recently divorced, broke up painfully and protractedly with her first real boyfriend since the collapse of her marriage to my father. I turned thirteen that May, and her birthday present to me was Desire. It was my first Dylan album. I had been talking for a while about this song I’d heard, only once, playing over the speakers in a Washington, D.C., bookstore sometime during the preceding winter. I stood there in the aisle, with a science fiction novel in my hand, trying to catch the lyrics, to guess the singer, to figure out what the…


The Paracosm and Conlangs of Thaddeus Troi-Riker (2381-2396)

The imaginary world that came to be known as Ardani began as a language, Kelu, invented by Thaddeus Worf Riker-Troi circa 2384, when he was about three and a half. From a very early age, Thad became interested in the different native languages spoken by non-human personnel on board the USS Titan, a starship under the command of his father, William T. Riker. Born on Titan, taught Federation Standard, Thad was fascinated by the idea of a “native language” and how it was intimately associated with the idea of “home.” Home —…


“Tower of Babel,” Josh Dorman, 2016

And all the people were one people, and spoke one tongue. They were subject to one king, and one law. Their manner of dress was uniform, and the food of their tables, in its stuff and style of preparation, was the same in every home. They sang one body of songs, followed one calendar of feast days, and told one cycle of tales and legends, into which variation crept only through carelessness or lapse of memory, because experience was everywhere uniformly expressed, and the people’s power to interpret that experience was limited by the patterns and coloration of the solitary…


Robert Chabon, MD, JD, MPH

Died on March 22, 2019. Born in Brooklyn, NY, on December 2, 1938, he spent his formative years there, a passionate fan of Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and the other Dodger greats of that era. Precocious, whip-smart, and the darling only child of his parents, Irene and Irving, he never afterward lost his accent or his working-class Flatbush-born drive to make something of himself in the world. On graduating from Walt Whitman Junior High, he moved with his parents to Washington, DC, where he attended Anacostia High School before going on to George Washington University…

Michael Chabon

Berkeley, California

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