Reading in Sydney (updated)

For those of you on the east coast of Australia, a quick heads-up to say that Justine and I will be signing this week at Sydney’s premier sf bookstore, Galaxy Books.

Date: Thursday, April 27
Time: 6:00PM
Place: 143 York Street, Sydney CBD

We’ll be celebrating the Aussie release of Peeps and the import version of Magic Lessons.

Hope you can make it. (But we’ll understand if you’re, you know, 10,000 miles away and stuff.)

If you can’t, you can always read this cool interview with Justine.

Also, watch this space for big news early next week.

UPDATE: Okay, we did the reading and it was way fun. Thanks to all the folks at Galaxy for having us, and to Jess (who posts comments here) and our pal Deb for coming along.

Goodbye Sydney

We’re leaving on our World Tour tomorrow, but before we go I’d like to say goodbye to lovely Sydney. Ages ago, I took a bunch of pictures of the Sydney Opera House. This building is famous and iconically Sydney-ish, and it’s practically required by law that a picture of it appear alongside every mention of this city.

But the usual pictures never capture how cool the SOH is in person. How alien and dazzling, and how much fun Dess would have with the sheer mathiness of it. So here’s me trying.

Of course, the classic view of its “sails” is pretty cool . . .

But what you don’t get from that distance is how much like a grounded alien spaceship the building is. As you get closer, the sails tower over everything, till you sort of expect them to swallow the tourists. This is a BIG building. It’s intimidating and jaw-dropping, like getting too close to a sleeping dinosaur.

Supposedly, the goal-state of every English garden is that you can point a camera in any direction and get a perfectly composed picture. The Opera House gets much closer to this state than any garden I’ve ever seen. As you walk through the sails, unexpected compositions appear all around you.

Sometimes they’re soft and curvilinear . . .

And sometimes they get that alien spaceship/dinosaur vibe again.

But the coolest feature of the Opera House is the tiles. Every surface is covered with them. The tiles come in several shapes, and are organized in patterns that reflect the curve of the sails. There’s this self-similar fractal thing going on, so as you get closer or step away, the same curves pop out at your eyeballs at different scales.

And the tiles are really shiny, so the sun gets involved in the whole transformative process . . .

The whole building has this totally math-ilicious-ness about it that I’m sure Dess would love. Walking among its shifting shapes is sort of what I imagine it would be like to be in her head at midnight.

To see what I mean, click here for a monster-big version of the tiles in action.

Cool, huh?

Overall, it’s my favorite piece of modern architecture in the world. I’ll miss it while I’m gone.

Ergo Telescopy

Westerfeld’s Law #1: When you live around the corner from the best Thai food in Sydney, you eat a lot of Thai food.

Westerfeld’s Law #2: When that food is next to a telescope store, you stare longingly into that telescope store frequently.

Westerfeld’s Law #3: When you stare longingly into a telescope store frequently, you eventually BUY A TELESCOPE!

The laws in graphic format:

Or to put it another way, I have bought a telescope . . .

iPod for scale

My little Celestron is very cool. It’s quite small and indestructible, as you can see, perfect for taking camping (or, say, to boutique hotels out in the country). It takes up zero room in the house, and swivels around quite pleasingly on its little base. The fact that I don’t have to set up a tripod means that I will actually use it, rather than it gathering dust.

But one thing I will say is, it’s really a stupid idea to have telescope stores open during the day. Like, what are you supposed to do for the hours between purchase and sunset? Well, I briefly watched this couple breaking up on the veranda of a nearby apartment complex, but one really shouldn’t do that sort of thing.

So mostly I looked at Centrepoint Tower, and experimented with putting my digital camera right up to the eyepiece:

Cool, huh?

But mostly I was waiting for friggin’ Mars to rise! Celestial dance, my ass. It took forever!

Finally, though, the splendorous red planet arose. And was really hard to find. That’s what I always forget about telescopes, all that looking through a narrow tube for a little dot. How did Gallileo and those guys ever manage to, like, discover stuff?

But finally I found Mars, and it was pearly and beautimous and red. I can’t wait for Jupiter to return to the southern night skies, and for the moon to reappear. I love my telescope. (And must now purchase a more expensive one.)

Also, I have vowed never again to use my telescopic powers for evil, even to find out what happened with that couple who broke up. I will only look at the moon and stars, and possibly Centrepoint Tower when bored during the day.

PS For comparison, this is what Centrepoint Tower non-telescopically looks like from my window:

I’ll see if I can take some lunar pictures, once the moon comes back. Stupid new moon.