April 22nd, 2010

Vanitas desk

Authors, papers, books

  • The most exciting moment at the RSA, for me, came when a presenter cited one of my father's articles in his paper.

  • There was one RSA session I went to because it featured a paper on the origins of science fiction. A happy byproduct of this was being present for the paper before it. The speaker was introduced as - among her many other achievements - the author of a medieval cookbook. "Tell me more!", I said, afterwards. She's one of the co-authors of Pleyn Delit, a staple of modern medieval cookery, and one which I own. "Do you cook from it?", she asked, and I admitted that I had only read it. She enthusiastically recommended really cooking from it, given how well-tested the recipes are. The session was, overall, a delight, in large part because everyone else already knew each other and were friendly, welcoming, and somewhat casual. ("You all know who our next speaker is." said the chair. I replied from the audience, "I don't!" and it was all good.)

  • Last night's BSFA interview, of la_marquise_de_ being interviewed by desperance, was more than usually interesting for me, as, structurally, I have more than usual in common with the person being interviewed. She is an early medievalist, now novelist as well. Perhaps I never thought to become a philologist, her original choice of undergraduate degree, because I was raised by art historians.

  • The volcano-induced emptiness of the London Book Fair brought advanced reading copies of the forthcoming David Weber novel, along with its author and editor, to the BSFA and dinner at the local Thai restaurant afterward. Weber is, apparently, a good Thai cook himself.

  • In anticipation of possibly seeing itsjustaname on Friday, I am finally getting around to reading Simon Winchester's biography of Joseph Needham. It's an enthralling read, if moderately intimidating. I don't have a photographic memory, two major careers, major publications before the age of 30, and the creation of, in effect, an entirely new field under my belt. On the other hand, I am a far better poet than Needham was.