News: February 2009 Archives
Philip Jose Farmer died yesterday, February 25, 2009. According to his official Web site, he died peacefully in his sleep.
I first read his Riverworld series when I was about ten. It was so creative and so different than the other sci-fi and fantasy that I'd been reading up until that time, that it really opened up one of those doors in my head. You know... you think you understand the dimensions of something, then you notice another door... a small, unobtrusive bit of a thing. But when you open it, there's an entirely new world there. You take a look and say to yoursef, "Ahhh... Well. Yes. Now I see. Things can be this other way, too."
If that sounds overly dramatic, well I'm sorry. There are few series of books that had as profound an impact on me as a young writer. One of my writing professors at college used to say, "All great writing is about two things. It's about what it's about, and it's about great writing." Farmer's stories weren't just great because they were great stories... they were great because they pointed at all kinds of other *ways* that stories *could be* great. Without being obnoxious or heavy-handed, they were meta-story guideposts.
[The SciFi channel series based on the books was, of course, awful. The main protagonist of the series was the post-mortal (it makes sense... read the books) Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, one of the most interesting people you'll meet in fiction or history. Because of Riverworld, I read two actual biographies of Burton before the age of 16, and a third later in life. In the TV series, Burton was replaced with (gag) an astronaut. I was deeply and personally offended.]
Anyway... if you're looking for good, odd, important, rollicking sci-fi fun... look no further than PJ Farmer.
I would say, "He will be missed," but we do not need to miss him, as he is still very much with us.
We're two weeks into the WorldCat Mobile pilot and you've already uncovered a lot of future functionality and would-be-nice-to-have features--in addition to helping identify specific troubles with certain models of phones. Thanks to the 1,315 people who have already downloaded the app to their mobile phone, there were 39,474 queries made to WorldCat.org through the app. in January.
Extrapolating from the usage statistics, most people seem to be starting their searches at the "home" screen (1,209 users made 26,450 queries). But then 452 people started at the "change location" section (452 users made 4,218 queries)--which just goes to show that lots of people are either reading my hints or more likely, you're using the app on the go, for travel. Finally, the down economy may be prompting people to find more libraries, more often, because the 263 people who used it created 5,355 queries.
All in all, it's a fantastic start for the WorldCat Mobile pilot, and if you haven't tried it yet, go on and give it a go. If you have tried it and received an error message, brace yourself and would you be willing to try again? Our partner organization with the pilot has been making fixes and putting in patches almost 'round the clock. If you try it again and still have problems, please send us feedback so we can get it fixed.