If You Need 654.5 Cubic Inches of Gil Thorp then Today Is Your Lucky Day


My love and I went to Ann Arbor over the weekend because the University of Michigan Natural History Museum is moving to a new building after this month, and we wanted to see the charmingly old-fashioned diorama labels before they get thrown out in favor of some boring old accurate-to-stuff-we’ve-learned-since-1963 text written in Helvetica. But we also stopped in the Dawn Treader used bookstore because why would you not go to a used bookstore like that? And there we spotted … the 1991 Science Fiction Fan Directory, a list of among other things all the bookstores that have major science fiction sections. So there, in the Dawn Treader bookstore, I found the address listed for the Dawn Treader bookstore. And that I found that funny gives you some idea why I am a humor blogger instead of a successful humor blogger.

Anyway, we also found this on the Comics/Humor shelves.

Eight _Gil Thorp_ collections on a bookshelf at the Dawn Treader, Ann Arbor.
Also in the shop, if you want: one of those collections of “the funniest stuff on the Internet” that the publisher insists in the foreward is too in the public domain because it was on the Internet so shut up asking questions. My love took a photo of the introduction and I’m encouraging putting that up on the Internet to insult the guy. Also, really, nothing in that book is going to be as funny as this time on sci.math that someone tried to explain that the then-resident crank’s proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem was wrong by using the crank’s method to attempt to show that 15 should be equal to 3 times 5. It went on for hundreds of words and got nowhere near that or anything else, and I just bet that wasn’t included. Also besides that I think someone bought the collection of the web comic User Friendly that had been there last time.

So yes, that’s eight collections of Gil Thorp comics. Most of them were printed in the mid-2000s, although the Silver Anniversary yearbook on the far left there is dated 1984. It’s a slightly weird set. The books give off many of the signs of being self-published, such as the publisher’s contact information including a comcast.net e-mail address. But not entirely! And the Silver Anniversary book is dated two decades earlier yet looks just about the same, apart from not listing the publisher’s comcast.net e-mail and having a silver rather than white cover. (Trust me on this.) They’re all 8.5-by-11-inch pages, and as you can see, there’s eight books there and it’s got to be at least seven inches thick of reading to get to. That’s why I estimate the volume so.

Obviously Playdown Pandemonium intrigued me because of the promise of explaining what the deal is with “playdowns”. What I learned from skimming it is: the “playdowns” first appeared for the basketball storyline of 1963-64. The introductory text makes it sound like the playdowns are a format for a bunch of teams to get gradually eliminated — played down — to a final two. But that description also matches every playoff format ever, so I’m not enlightened.

Despite the temptation I didn’t buy any of the books, or all of them. But now I have another source of possible bonus content for my Patreon subscribers. We’ll see. Let me know if I have a Patreon.

Oh, also, I had another couple comics with mathematics themes over on the other blog. Thanks.

Surrounded By Robert Benchley-Killers


When I happen to be in the bookstore I occasionally pick up the science fiction magazines, for the same reason all their buyers do: I have vague thoughts of someday being published in them and you’re supposed to scope out your target markets. Anyway, the cover story of Fantasy and Science Fiction for May/June was this piece by David Gerrold. A normal person hasn’t got the faintest idea who that is, but he’s the guy who wrote the Tribbles episode of Star Trek. He’s also the guy who figured that for Next Generation it’d be much more sensible if the show focused on Will Riker leading Away Teams instead of Picard giving speeches until the aliens surrendered, but I believe he changed his mind once the actors were cast.

Anyway, right next to this was the July issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and there there’s another cover story by David Gerrold, “The Great American Airship Mystery, Or, Why I Murdered Robert Benchley”. It’s a title meant to grab my attention, but why is David Gerrold surrounding me entirely in magazine covers? I didn’t think he even knew me.

Long story short, I scurried out without looking to see if he had also grabbed the cover of other magazines like Entertainment Weekly or People Fondling Motorbikes or Pictures Of Local Historic Stuff Bimonthly. If he’s doing something with more magazines I don’t want to know it.

The Book-Categorizer’s Lament


This book is just madness. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t think it’s fiction. It’s certainly not fact. The history books hissed when it was brought near. The religion books gave it this hostile sneer. New Age turned its back; Philosophy wouldn’t even give it that. The text spills out round pictures meeting some need; the exposition plunges on as a panicked steed. It can’t be filed as a kitchen appliance or set of magnetic poetry blocks. We just have to put it on a little table by itself under signs reading “?”. If someone comes in saying they just need a “book” we can point them to this and wish them good luck.

Bookstore Numbers


14: the average number of minutes you have to hover around the History section of a bookstore before hearing some fully grown-up man explain in all sincerity to another fully grown-up woman that, actually, the United States was justified in getting involved in World War II. This is down one minute from the same statistic as measured last year.