Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Pedantically speaking...

I was reading New Scientist this morning, catching up on the backlag of magazines that came in while I was travelling, and between the articles on How Eating Fruit Bats Can Cause Alzheimers and an article on copyright laws in which the Recording Industry Association of America states that proceeds from online file-sharing and music distribution "are known to fund terrorism" (although who knows this, and how it is known, and why they then don't prosecute the terrorists instead of twelve year old girls it doesn't say) I ran into an article called IS EARTH ONE OF A KIND? by Hazel Muir. It begins:

Although many more planets are being discovered outside the solar system, none of them looks anything like our own planets. And it is possible that they formed in a completely different way, making our planetary system rather unique.

...and I found myself puzzling what "rather unique" means, when used in a paragraph like that in a scientific journal. I think it means that our solar system is more unique than a solar system that is quite unique, fairly unique or a bit unique, but less unique than a solar system that is very unique, extremely unique or unbelievably unique. All of which, I suspect, must be less unique than a simple "unique", which means, of course, "one of a kind".

I don't have a problem with gradations of uniqueness when used to describe hairstyles, dancers, or the taste of stewed fruit-bat, but in an article like that, it seems rather meaningless. Or quite meaningless. Or even meaningless.


Jouni Koponen is a Finnish illustrator. For fun and for experience, he created an illustrated edition of my Lovecraftian tale "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar". He painted the cover. He did a dozen or so creepily hilarious scraperboard illustrations. He set the type and laid it all out. He sent me a link to the website where he was working on it, and I showed it to Greg Ketter at DreamHaven Books, and suggested that it might make a good chapbook. Greg agreed enthusiastically, and Jouni blinked a lot..

The chapbook will come out, in a limited edition, in time for Fiddler's Green. A hefty share of the book's profits will go to the CBLDF.

You can probably find out more over at DreamHaven's slowly-being-redesigned-now-with-search-functions online bookstore. And I just noticed that they now have the Michael Zulli cover to the untitled next CD -- which I think will be called Speaking In Tongues -- up on their site.

Hmm. And they've also put up MP3s of me reading "A Writer's Prayer" and "Nicholas Was..." as well, as tasters for the Warning Contains Language and the Telling Tales CDs, for anyone who's interested. (Click on the listen buttons on the front page).