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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 09:59 am:   

Yes yes yes! And I'm taking my camera. During my trip to Kiev in April (as Guest at Eurocon), we have been offered an eleven hour guided tour of Chernobyl. I have been awaiting this opportunity since I heard it was possible. I cannot wait! I'd like to take my SLR and my digital camera (as the digital will run out of juice too soon) --I hope there's room in my luggage.
Yayyy!
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steve
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 12:15 pm:   

I recommend chewing Wrigley's new Pb-flavored gum while exploring.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 12:23 pm:   

And what is Pb?
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paulw
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 01:19 pm:   

It's the symbol for lead -- for shame, Ellen, and you the editor of Swanwick's Table of the Elements!
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 04:17 pm:   

Just don't drink the water. And try not to breathe too much of the air.

On the other hand, if when you get back you find you now glow in the dark, you can save the portion of your electric bill that comes from staying up late reading submissions.
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PM
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 06:40 pm:   

and therein lies a radioactive tale...

Safe journey!
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 09:27 pm:   

I just assumed Pb meant paperback :-) --what can I say? I've forgotten my chemistry (and Michael's story for lead).
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 09:28 pm:   

Matt, I'll do whatever they tell me for safety --wear an oxygen mask/bio hazard suit...whatever. As long as my hands are free.

PM: thank you ...I'm not going quite yet.
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sublime
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 09:47 pm:   

Have a great trip! I hope you have fun! Please don't turn into a mutant!
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Nathan
Posted on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 10:29 pm:   

But if you do, make sure it's a cannibal mutant! 'Cause they're the best kind.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 12:06 am:   

Ask if you can see the elephant's foot.

Are you gonna read WOLVES EAT DOGS before you go?
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 07:12 am:   

Marc, where is the elephant's foot?

And what is WOLVES EAT DOGS?
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 07:17 am:   

Ooo! I'm jealous.
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Tom Barlow
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 08:47 am:   

This motorcyclist posted a fascinating journal about her ride through Chernobyl:
www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kiddofspeed/chapter1.html
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 09:15 am:   

Tom..it's all bogus.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 12:29 pm:   

Yeah, it's bogus, but I have to wonder if Martin Cruz Smith cannibalized that tale for WOLVES AND DOGS (the latest Arkady Renko/Gorky Park book, set in Chernobyl!). I see from the dustjacket that he travels around Chernobyl on a motorbike.

The elephant's foot is what they called the melted radioactive slag underneath the old reactor. That's what it looks like.

elephantfoot

There's an old PBS documentary which documents a handful of scientists trying to get as close as they can to study the core...it's an amazing film if you can find a copy before you go.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 01:30 pm:   

Here's the old documentary. Your library might have a copy of the tape.

Suicide Mission to Chernobyl

NOVA accompanies Soviet scientists on a deadly mission inside the sarcophagus-the massive structure that entombs the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Will there be another deadly explosion?

Original broadcast date: 10/22/91
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Tom Barlow
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 02:25 pm:   

Oh, man-- bogus information? On the internet? Guess I should have checked my sources a little more closely, but I'm so busy keeping up with chain letters....
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 02:42 pm:   

Marc,
The documentary sounds great. I'd hoped Netflix would have it but no luck. Maybe I'll ask Jack Womack. He often has odd stuff.
In a way, I'd rather be surprised and just enjoy the (11 hour!) tour than research in advance. But I'll keep an eye out.
Tell me the below doesn't sound incredible? Could the film they're showing be part of the documentary?

The program of the tour:

8:00-11:00. Transit from Kiev to the Zone.
11:00-17:00. The Zone.
1. Military and police checkpoint at the zone entry.
2. A talk with Chernobyl Interinform representative. Overview lecture with a map: the most complete and accessible information about the process of liquidation the disaster consequences within the 30 km zone; the most dangerous places, abandoned equipment, etc. Predictions.
3. Visit to the 10 km zone through the checkpoint Leliv. Overview of the territory and abandoned villages.
4. A stop at the 4th power block.
5. Visit to the sight pavilion of the press-center of the Entombment. Demonstration of a unique film about the disaster liquidations and the liquidators working on the 4th power block. Rare information from the first hands.
6. Visit to Prypyat, the town abandoned almost 20 years ago.
7. Lunch, everything is checked with a dosimeter.
8. Possible visit to villages of squatters.
9. Visit to a territory of abandoned machines.
10. Famous Red Forest. Full dosimetric control at the zone exit.
17:00-19:00. Transfer to Kiev.
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Cat Sparks
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 03:01 am:   

Hi Ellen,

Crikey! Chernobyl sounds a bit dangerous... I hope you won't be glowing lurid lime green when you come visit us all in Canberra later this year. I'm glad they'll be checking your lunch with a dosimeter. Package tour food is always suspect. I've eaten plenty of things overseas that I wouldn't have touched had I had a dosimeter handy...

Cheers, Cat
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Bruce
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 07:33 am:   

Hi Ellen,

Chernobyl?! Cool!

I was in Kiev for ten days last September but didn't make it that far up the river Dnieper. When asked about water quality, my friends there said that it's the most heavily tested water in the world - for obvious reasons - and the fish caught in it are extensively tested as well.

A fine, interesting city. It reminded me of Stockholm but I've heard others say it's more in line with Prague, which I haven't visited unlike yourself. There's a few must-see spots, and if you're interested, I know several good restaurants.

Definitely read "Wolves Eat Dogs"! [It's book 5 in the Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith].
Also, 'The Dragons of Pripyat' by Karl Schroeder if you haven't already.
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Scott Edelman
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 01:01 pm:   

It was nice knowing you, Ellen ...
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 01:03 pm:   

This a terrific documentary about Pripyat called, oddly enough, PRIPYAT. It's pricey, but well worth it.

http://www.xploitedcinema.com/dvds/dvds.asp?title=7273
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 01:58 pm:   

Bruce, yes, please recommend restaurants!

I'll see if I can grab the Smith before I go (although I don't have much time--I guess I could read it enroute).

Gee Scott. See? You go to China and the Galapagos Islands and I go to Chernobyl :-)

Thanks, Lucius.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 04:14 pm:   

I've heard...sniff...that Chernobyl is absolutely...sniff...beautiful.

You're going to have...sniff...a lovely time up there. It couldn't have happened...sniff...to a more deserving person.

We're going to...sniff...miss you very much and...sniff...will always carry you in our hearts. Please...sniff...say hello to granny for me and...sniff...maybe I'll see you there in thirty years or so if I'm...sniff...good enough.
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Bruce
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 04:26 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

My Cyrillic isn't terrific [i.e. non-existent] but I'll root through some Visa receipts when I get home.

1) The War Memorial is on a heavily wooded hill overlooking the Dnieper and features a stunning Ukrainian Orthodox Church, assorted obelisks, bleak military statuary, an open-air military museum...hard to miss the rockets and MIGs and a pair of psychedelically painted tanks underneath a 150' Motherland statue. Just off this park is an authentic Ukrainian dining establishment disguised as a whitewashed farmhouse. It's very well-known and the food is excellent [try the rabbit stew and the cherry-filled vereniki]!

2) At the north side of the park, a major road beside a cylindrical 8-story hotel has two excellent restaurants: one Uzbek, one Vietnamese. They're just up the street from the Chinese Embassy [the Presidential Palace is nearby].

3) Another excellent Ukrainian restaurant is in a large park downtown next to, I believe, Kiev's major art musuem. The sturgeon is brilliant and has the requisite two eyes.

4) There's a decent Italian restaurant on the main drag just down from Revolution Square. The food's good, but the main draw was the fact it's one of the few Wi-FI spots we could find.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 06:25 pm:   

Byron,
Thanks for your worry.

Bruce,
Thanks for your suggestions. Don't bother to check old visa slips. I'm hoping Boris will also have some good places to take us.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 12:34 pm:   

Speaking of books containing Chernobyl references, I'd like to remind people of Jack Womack's woefully underappreciated LET'S PUT THE FUTURE BEHIND US. A totally great black-comic Russian thriller.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2006 - 04:02 pm:   

I received WOLVES EAT DOGS and hope to get to read it before I leave.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2006 - 04:34 pm:   

I'm reading it now, and it's pretty sweet. Renko gets to Pripyat around the quarter mark. Judging from the acknowledgments, it looks like Smith did a lot of local research and not just compiling stuff from the internet.
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MarcL
Posted on Saturday, March 25, 2006 - 08:12 pm:   

Ellen, the April issue of National Geographic features a story on present day Chernobyl. It's the ideal companion for WOLVES EAT DOGS as well...one shot of local scientists and social workers partying might be taken straight out of the Smith novel.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 08:11 am:   

Thanks for the tip. I'll see if I can pick it up--can you buy them on newsstands? (I've only ever see them in doctors' offices over the years, and not for a very long time).
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 04:28 pm:   

Yes, they're usually at supermarkets...the cover story is about earthquakes.

The online version has a long slideshow of photos that didn't make it into the issue.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 06:13 pm:   

Thanks. I watched the slideshow. Very depressing.
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 10:55 pm:   

I can't help wondering what W. Eugene Smith would have done with it.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 07:29 am:   

He would have made amazing photographs. He was brilliant and compassionate.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, March 31, 2006 - 11:07 am:   

Finished WOLVES EAT DOGS last night...if I were heading to Chernobyl, I'd be both more excited and more trepidatious. Great book though.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, March 31, 2006 - 11:40 am:   

Uh oh. I haven't had a chance to read more than a few pages yet. I may end up taking it with me.
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Bruce
Posted on Friday, March 31, 2006 - 01:49 pm:   

Hmm. I ended up taking 'Magic For Beginners', 'White Time' and 'The Best of Cordwainer Smith' to Kiev. Surreal books for a surreal place.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Saturday, April 01, 2006 - 02:09 pm:   

Jack Ketchum told me I should read it on the plane as 1) it may scare me off visiting Chernobyl and 2) it's a good plane read.

Eileen Gunn found out from her guide book that we have to drink bottled water in Kiev...
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MarcL
Posted on Saturday, April 01, 2006 - 11:00 pm:   

It won't scare you off. If anything, it romanticizes the area. All Smith's books are excellent plane reads, however. This is the first one aside from Gorky Park that I haven't read on a plane, which meant my experience was diluted by many many interruptions. It would've been better if I'd been stuck in a seat for the length of the novel. Enjoy!
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, April 02, 2006 - 06:26 pm:   

Oh good.
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Bruce
Posted on Sunday, April 02, 2006 - 07:55 pm:   

'Eileen Gunn found out from her guide book that we have to drink bottled water in Kiev...'

Never a bad idea wherever you travel :0)

The Radisson I sayed at in Beijing was very specific about the fact their tap water was not potable. They did use the grey water from the shower to fill the toilet tank...interesting conservation technique.

Cheers, Bruce
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, April 02, 2006 - 11:02 pm:   

Ewww....grey water? Eileen says she heard that it's not good to drink tap water anyplace in the former Soviet Union.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Saturday, April 08, 2006 - 05:05 pm:   

Leaving for the airport in an hour. Flight delayed by one hour, so we don't fly out till midnight. It doesn't affect anything as I had a three hour layover in Paris in the morning. Now it'll be a two hour layover.
Ciao kiddos~ !
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Saturday, April 08, 2006 - 06:26 pm:   

Have a good time!
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PM
Posted on Sunday, April 09, 2006 - 08:16 am:   

Bombs away :-)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, April 21, 2006 - 05:23 pm:   

Back last night and finally figured out how to register for the BB. Had a great time, about to take a nap. Jetlag sucks.
Took lots of photos of Kiev and of Chernobyl and Pripyat--read half the Martin Cruz Smith enroute and while there and finished it on my way home. I knew every place he describes when we did the tour last Monday. It really is a character.
More later.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Friday, April 21, 2006 - 07:46 pm:   

Why, Ellen, that trip did you so much good. You're positively glowing!
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 08:35 am:   

Thank you Matt, but how can you tell? :-)
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 10:05 am:   

I was once pecked by a radioactive bald eagle, and developed fantastic long-distance eyesight. The downside is that I have this overpowering urge to hang out on riverbanks during salmon runs, gorging myself on rotting fish.
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Mary Robinette Kowal
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 02:44 pm:   

I look foward to the pictures.
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Marc Laidlaw
Posted on Saturday, April 22, 2006 - 09:18 pm:   

Can't wait to hear the comparison between reality and Martin Cruz Smith.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 10:01 am:   

Matt: You kidder, you :-)

Mary: I'm sorting, editing, and labelling them. I've got about 800...

Marc: He's dead on in his descriptions of certain places like the never-used amusement park (I took photos of the ferris wheel and bumper cars) and the school. But we barely saw any squatters (we wouldn't then, would we?) although we did occasionally see someone ride by on a bike.
Several people on the tour brought geiger counters (or the equiv) to check for "hot spots" and there were some where near where we walked so we avoided them. We were brought by bus to certain areas and let loose to wander as we wished. Some excellent graffiti. We stopped in spots in Pripyat and in another smaller village (I don't recall the name but will try to ask someone).
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 12:24 pm:   

Welcome back!
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Phillip Miller
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 05:17 pm:   

I'm looking forward to the pictures too!

Glad to hear that you had a safe trip and avoided the "hot spots".
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, April 23, 2006 - 09:52 pm:   

I've started posting the photos (not of Chernobyl yet as I'm trying to start at the end --Flickr loads things backwards and once you post them you cannot move them around).
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 10:39 am:   

Eileen Gunn and I were guests at this year's Eurocon in Kiev. The special GOH was Harry Harrison, whose work is apparently lionized in Ukraine.
Here's the general info about what went on:
The convention was held in conjunction with the annual Book Exhibition in a convention center.
Eileen and I were interviewed on radio and tv , taken around by our own translator/guides, given some kind of "medal" and at the opening ceremonies for the book fair, I cut the ribbon (I had no idea what I was doing).

It was great fun and the photos from the convention and book fair, plus touring (including Chernobyl and Pripyat) are now up:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/35025258@N00/

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