Tor.com content by

Tim Hamilton

Space and Time

A few weeks ago J. C. Hutchins wrote a post on Tor.com about how science fiction authors can benefit from reading other genres. I couldn’t agree more and thought I’d point out a few of my favorite non sci-fi reads. Although most of my writing is in the realm of comedy or satire, not counting “Adventures of the Floating Elephant” over at Activatecomix, I actually enjoy curling up with factual books about time, space and quantum theory. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m no rocket scientist, and I certainly have no idea what all those elaborate equations on the black boards of scientists mean, but I’m fascinated by theories about how our universe works.

My love for all things science fact started back in the very early eighties with Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. I never missed an episode of that show while in junior high. Secrecy was the name of the game back then of course. I’d have to watch a few snippets of The Dukes of Hazzard so I could interact with other kids in 8th grade. It was important they never know of my secret love, Carl Sagan. After Cosmos ended I lapsed back into high school concerns and my mundane activities of planet Earth. It wasn’t until a few years later that Stephen Hawking became known to the general public due to his popular and bestselling book, A Brief History of Time. I was probably being a bit of a sheep when I bought the book, but it was so nice to do so out in the open in front of all the other normal people. That was one less category of book to hide thanks to Mr. Hawking! I still had to keep my comic books hidden in those days before graphic novels were “cool.”

[More space below.]

People in my Neighborhood or, Strange Adventures part B

In my previous post I talked about the interesting people or places I encountered while traveling. After writing that essay, I heard a piece on the radio about the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street and suddenly remembered…”the song.” The one I’m sure you heard over and over as a child if you likewise grew up with Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. That catchy tune sung by Bob McGrath known as, “Who Are The People in Your Neighborhood.” As I immediately regretted looking that particular Sesame Street segment up on You tube, it’s stuck in my head now, and I realized that one never has to travel far to encounter the interesting or unexplained.

So, with apologies to Jeff Moss, I give you my version of “The People in My Neighborhood(s).”

[They]

Strange Adventures

Traveling to strange new worlds or dimensions play a big part in that genre we call science fiction. In fact it’s one of my favorite themes. I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, talking to schools and libraries across the country about the Fahrenheit 451 adaptation, and how graphic novels are created in general.

Traveling all these places, I assumed there would be many interesting events or adventures to write about. This turned out not to be the case. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed all the wonderful people I’ve met and had a great time talking about my work, but everything is taken care of for me on these trips. That is, I’m flown around the country, put up in nice hotels and taken out to eat. All very embarrassing at times actually. It’s an uneasy feeling to have people cater to your needs so much.

[More Adventures below the cut]

Day Dreaming, Night Dreaming

“Timmy is very much a dreamer.” That’s what Mrs. Wharton wrote on my fifth grade report card.

My grade school teachers were often angry with me for not answering them in class when they called on me. I was, as the report card said, daydreaming. In fact, I distinctly remember the one time I did answer a question in class. It was a very momentous event for me. My first grade teacher asked who the president was as everyone sat in silence. My household had been following the current scandal and I somehow knew the answer. I raised my hand thinking it must be a trick. How could nobody know

“Nixon?” I answered correctly

I vaguely knew that Nixon had been involved in some sort of break in, but also believed that he and Ed Sullivan were the same person as I thought they looked very similar. Crook, president and entertainer! How did he find the time?

Dreamy, mysterious images especially drew me in and fascinated me. It was during this time that the Zapruder film was often examined on news shows while men with big hair and leisure suits proposed conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination. The Zapruder film was a nightmare blurred by the chaos of the events it captured. I couldn’t look away. Likewise, the Patterson film was a hazy dreamscape I watched every chance I had. This was in the days way before YouTube. You saw the Patterson film once a year at most when a special would be shown about U.F.O.s, the Loch Ness Monster and of course, Bigfoot.

[More subconscious below the cut]

The Make Believe Empire

“In the water. Did you see that?” I asked Janet as ripples spread across the pond near our hotel. A nearby sign warned, “Do Not Feed the Alligators” in big letters. I had heard that alligators could be found inhabiting any body of water in the South, but then again, I was known for letting my imagination run wild a bit too much. In fact, “Timmy is very much a dreamer” is what my teacher wrote on my fifth grade report card. I remember thinking that was a compliment until I showed my parents.

“I did see something,” I repeated as we hauled our luggage up the to the second floor of the hotel which over looked the pond in question.

“Uh huh,” Janet mumbled as she looked for our room number.

[There are no alligators below the fold.]