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Hans Camenzind

- About the Book

Much Ado About Almost Nothing: Man's Encounter with the Electron
by Hans Camenzind
Published by BookLocker.com
(ISBN 978-0-615-13995-1, 240 pages, many photos, index, footnotes, bibliography, soft cover, $14.95)

Much Ado About Almost Nothing presents the history of electronic invention through profiles of dozens of personalities who have diligently followed the electron to riches and ruin.

Author Hans Camenzind shows a palpable love for the oddballs and eccentrics who tamed electricity: scientists, engineers, inventors, self-promoters, professors, visionaries, speculators, moguls, geniuses, politicians, venture capitalists, and con artists.

Camenzind covers well-known luminaries such as Ben Franklin, Michael Faraday, Samuel F.B. Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Philo Farnsworth and William Shockley. But he also covers the lesser lights who nonetheless made important contributions to the history of invention. Read about:

  • Lee de Forest, the self-proclaimed "Father of Radio" and a 3-times rags-to-riches inventor and conniver.
  • John Baird, who built the first TV set in his attic in 1923. He got rich, went broke, and was made obsolete in the late 1930s by RCA.

Camenzind races through the history of electronic discovery like a charged particle. He briefly sketches the lives, education, achievements, fortunes and misfortunes of dozens of explorers and risk-takers.

Topics covered in Much Ado About Almost Nothing include:

  • Electricity, magnetism, electromagnetism
  • X-rays, cathode rays, subatomic particles
  • Transmitters, receivers, amplifiers
  • Vacuum tubes, transistors, integrated circuits
  • Telegraph, telephone, radio, television
  • Microchips, calculators, computers


Much Ado About Almost Nothing is a well-written book. I was amazed how easy it was to understand even complex technology (I am not an engineer or scientist). There are many interesting people in here, making an absorbing story.
-- John Petersen

An informative and captivating tour of science focusing on the people that have contributed to our knowledge of electricity. Surprise! These are interesting -- and sometimes satisfyingly odd -- people.
-- Ozdachs

Suddenly these people come alive and we read about their achievements, ambitions and frustrations, successes and tragedies.
-- Reini Zimmerli

Stepan Chapman

- About the Book

The Troika
by Stepan Chapman
Published by Ministry of Whimsy Press

Under the glare of three suns, three beings travel across an endless desert. They argue, whine, wheedle and needle each other. Sometimes they switch identities when the sandstorms roar in. As The Troika rolls on, we learn more about Alex, who started out as a man, then became cyborg, then jeep. About Naomi, a veteran soldier who woke up from her cryogenic storage tank to a new life, now a dinosaur. About Eva, who fled her native land to escape her fate as an organ-donor for the emperor. Fantasy? Surrealism? The desert landscape spins and alters as we look at the man behind the curtain: mad angel Dr. Mazer, testing a controversial therapy program at his isolated asylum. Science fiction after all?

Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for 1997,The Troika is speculative literature at its finest. --Bonnie Bouman

Paul J. McAuley, Interzone:"It's a remarkable debut, with the inventive power of Steve Erickson or Jonathan Lethem."

Kathleen Ann Goonan, SF EYE :"If you enjoy finely controlled absurdity, freewheeling invention pinned down with precisely detailed description, black humor, and language that is breathtakingly engaging, there is little more to be said except 'Read this!' "

Review of Contemporary Fiction: "absurd fantasy beautifully rendered in detail. The surreal landscapes of isolation are reminiscent of Waiting for Godot...you'll walk away smiling for being whipped through surprising twists and loops."

Michael M. Levy, Science Fiction Research Association:"Chapman successfully combines traditional science-fiction techniques with sophisticated surrealism and theological fantasy reminiscent of James Morrow to create a novel of unusual beauty and power. In case you hadn't noticed, I strongly recommend Stepan Chapman's The Troika."

Paul DiFilippo, Asimov's: "A masterful dream voyage through realms of terror and strange beauty. Like Ellison's 'I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,' this novel portrays the indomitability of the human spirit, all the while permuting reality in fascinating ways."

Publisher's Weekly: "[The Troika] abounds with savage imagery reminiscent of William S. Burroughs, and, sentence for sentence, the writing is brilliant, lucid, and poetic... as startling and satisfying as a painting by Dali, Magritte, or Klee, whose compositions it resembles."

SF Age: "Here's further proof that the small presses can compete with the big dogs at their own game. This tale of a bizarre trio's journey across a desert planet delivers the goods."

John Shirley: "Any book that can fairly be described as a surrealistic, high energy tour de force is supposed to also be tedious and self indulgent - but The Troika is an entertaining read as well as being brilliant and would even be a good companion on an airplane."

Brian Stableford: "Stepan Chapman's The Troika is cornucopia with a cutting edge: a vivid phantasmagoria crowded with bizarre imagery which contrives to remain heartfelt and engaging. It has style, it has wit, it has guts and it has showmanship; what more could anyone want?"

Kathe Koja: "...completely unlike everything else that's out there...an ambitious yet playful work, with a clear pleasure in language."

Eliot Fintushel: " I...make...a habit of reading Publisher's Weekly...so...I...read the...review...of Stepan Chapman's The Troika...from which...the Ministry of Whimsy...excerpted a...rave for their ad in NYRSF 113...I am an admirer of Chapman...and...that particular review was...really...genuinely good... Let's hope...they...do it again."

Arabu Minnekotubu, Banu Warrior Daily: "Of all the loose-leaf novels out there, this one was a really good wipe."


Copyright ©1997 by Stepan Chapman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not duplicate or distribute this file without permission from the author. Thank you.

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