The Conversation

Readers Respond to the April Issue

Why’d it have to be snakes? “Sorry, nature, but I’m glad this doesn’t exist anymore,” Todd Gorman tweeted after reading “Monster Discovery,” about the 40-foot-long snake Titanoboa. Others called the extinct reptile “cool” and “an exciting find.” The paleo-commentary continued after the unveiling of a full-scale Titanoboa model at New York City’s Grand Central Station—“Prehistoric Snake Amazes NYC,” reported—first stop on its journey to Washington, D.C., where it is currently on display at the National Museum of Natural History. “Awesome, simply awesome,” one reader told

We’re still receiving mail about the March cover illustration for “Shadow of the Titanic.” “The No. 4 stack was a dummy, therefore no smoke ever belched from it,” wrote Richard Moore of Willow Street, Pennsylvania. But we weren’t blowing smoke: The artist was depicting steam. According to the Titanic Historical Society, the fourth stack provided kitchen ventilation. Still, maybe we did go overboard.

Well Versed
You have published two of my favorite poets, Billy Collins [“The Unfortunate Traveler,” March] and Kay Ryan [“Venice,” April] in your newly designed magazine. Since there is no dearth of outstanding poets in the United States, may I ask for more? More! More!
Regina Morin
San Diego, California

When Computers Attack
After reading the interview with Richard Clarke on “weaponized malware” [“Cassandra Syndrome”], it seems to me that creating monsters like Stuxnet is a dangerous game, as monsters sometimes turn on their masters. The story says many cyberattacks on the United States originate in China. But China’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team says cyberattacks on Chinese sites increased in 2011, mainly to steal confidential information, with 20.4 percent coming from the United States.
Kenneth Abeywickrama
Montgomery Village, Maryland

Let There Be Gloom
Are you trying to Pollyanna-ize science fiction [“Science Friction”]? I was inspired by sci-fi stories that stretched scientific possibilities to the limit. There are lessons to be heeded—they should not be ignored for fear of depressing future readers. Scientists and engineers of tomorrow need to temper enthusiasm with responsibility.
Frank Erickson
Pendleton, Oregon

Hitting the Heights
Bruce McCall’s illustration about takeout food getting cold by the time it reaches a skyscraper’s 527th floor [“The Future That Wasn’t”] makes an important point about problems that must be overcome in constructing very tall buildings. From a technical standpoint, it can be done. From a practical standpoint, why would you?
Peter Tritz
St. Paul, Minnesota

We misspelled the name of the artist who created the “Perception” illustration on page 20 of the March issue. She is Jessica Hische.

On Twitter
@CosRyan Sci fi does seem rather pessimistic these days. But then maybe that’s because we have nothing to hope for.

@thesaturnbull “One ‘takes’ a person to prom the way one ‘takes’ one’s most valuable possessions when one’s house is on fire” [“American Prom”]

@conarelli I really wish it was me in a previous life [“Casanova Slept Here”]

On Facebook
Cassandra Syndrome” changed my worldview. Why aren’t we talking about Stuxnet? Why isn’t it the lead story everywhere? This is scary stuff!
Carrie Jones

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