Home Is the Spaceman

On “Mars” he walked the walk — now David Levine talks the talk.

A lot of people want to hear about real science being done on simulated Mars missions. See the lively five-minute presentation he gave to 600 people at Ignite Portland on YouTube.

And the popularity of David’s 30-minute talk at Potlatch was affirmed at the auction when his MDRS mission patch and “Mars” rock sold for $120.

Egyptian Premieres
Charles Beaumont Documentary

Left to Right: John Tomerlin, William F. Nolan, Marc Zicree, Jason Brock, Sunni Brock and George Clayton Johnson.

Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater screened Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone’s Magic Man on March 27. On hand were John Tomerlin, William F. Nolan, Marc Zicree, Jason Brock, Sunni Brock and George Clayton Johnson, Earl Hamner Jr. and Norman Corwin.

John King Tarpinian reports:

The premiere of the documentary was well attended with a book signing preceding the 90 minute documentary and a Q&A afterwards. 

John Tomerlin related a story about the time he, Bill Nolan and Charles Beaumont returned to New York from an auto racing event in Nassau with only $1 among them.  At the end of the taxi ride the taxi driver gave them money. 

Bill Nolan related a story about Charles Beaumont and Ray Bradbury. They were driving somewhere around Los Angeles and they passed a cemetery which had a sign out from advertising FREE DIRT. They both agreed that would be a great title for a story. They argued over who should write the story. Beaumont won the coin toss and wrote the story first, years later Ray wrote his story.

Back Dated

Pat Wynne's calendar cover.

How time flies! This is already the 20th anniversary of the 1990 Not Tolkien Calendar, a project managed by Lynn Maudlin. She explains:

I called it “The NOT Tolkien Calendar” to make it clear that we were playing, in the hope that no one would take offense or be misled into expecting a *serious* Tolkien Calendar; I loved Pat Wynne’s illo for the cover – using the international “No” symbol was important to me. I wrote in “NOT” by hand on every copy.

Lynn’s memoir also tells why Tim Callahan’s contribution was matched up with December at the end of the year. The reason wasn’t subtle — look and you should be able to back into it yourself.

Looking for a Good Read?

Chad Orzel, whom a student once described as “an everyday guy who just happens to have a vast but hidden knowledge of physics,” read a couple of dud novels in a row and decided he needed a better system than simply picking the next book from his to-read pile.

Chad wrote “Science Fiction Disappoints Me” on his Uncertain Principles blog appealing for help.

SF may disappoint, but the combined wisdom of the internet did not — the comments are filled with solid recommendations.

John McGarr Killed by Car

California actor and producer John McGarr, attending the Horrorhound convention in Indianapolis, was walking to breakfast when a car swerved out of the traffic lane and killed him. The Indianapolis Star reports the driver was taken into custody on preliminary charges of driving while intoxicated causing death.

McGarr, the executive producer of House of the Wolf Man, was 45. Friends have created a tribute site here.

[[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]]


Fierce media attention to the security measures that kept each new Harry Potter book locked away until the moment sales officially began impressed me that the release date must be important.

Then I read that Gail Carriger’s Changeless, sequel to Crompton Crook nominee Soulless, is already popping up in bookstores like an impatient Spring bloom.

Whether it’s a few days or weeks early — Amazon says the book will be released March 30, Orbit’s catalog says April 10 — Carriger is taking the news quite tranquilly. She sounds positively cheerful about a photo showing copies already on sale:

Blake snapped this shot of Changeless ~ on shelves (apparently) now! Look, Gentle Reader, I practically have a whole shelf to myself. This is very exciting for an author and some sort of mile marker that I am convinced should be rewarded, if not with shoes, at least with a very large piece of chocolate mouse.

Wouldn’t J.K. Rowling have called Interpol, MI5, the Ticktockman or somebody?

Bradbury’s Fannish Collectibles

Among the 15 most expensive Bradbury collectibles ever sold by Abe Books are two items of fanhistorical significance.

The Pacificon Combozine, souvenir book of the 1946 Worldcon, went for $3500.

Inexplicably bringing just half of that, $1750, was a copy of the even rarer first Worldcon souvenir book (1939) autographed by organizers Will Sykora and Mario Racic, and by Ray Bradbury at a later date.

Some other Bradbury collectibles are far more valuable, like the edition of Fahrenheit 451 with the special fireproof asbestos cover which goes for over $10,000.

Also of interest is the complete collection of Bradbury first editions offered by The Fine Books Company, more than 60 different titles published from 1947 until 2009, with an asking price of $37,105.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Snapshots 41

VSS Enterprise on captive carry flight.

Here are 6 developments of interest to fans:

(1) To quote Jean-Luc Picard, “Let history never forget the name…ENTERPRISE!” Virgin Galactic announced on March 22 that VSS Enterprise has completed her inaugural captive carry flight from Mojave Air and Spaceport.

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic added: “Seeing the finished spaceship in December was a major day for us but watching VSS Enterprise fly for the first time really brings home what beautiful, ground-breaking vehicles Burt [Rutan] and his team have developed for us. …”

The VSS Enterprise test flight programme will continue though 2010 and 2011, progressing from captive carry to independent glide and then powered flight, prior to the start of commercial operations.

(2) Trek Today has posted a video of George Takei and husband Brad Altman encouraging gay couples to participate in the 2010 Census. In the message Takei wears his uniform from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan:

“[You may ask] why I’m still wearing this Starfleet uniform,” he said. “It’s to get you to actually listen to this important message, that affects how our community and marriages such as ours are viewed by this nation. Be counted!”“This is the first time in history the census is counting marriages like ours,” said Altman.

(3) Harlan Ellison volunteered his superb, Grammy-nominated vocal cords to dramatize the parody poem “I Will Not Read Your ***king Script” by Steve Jarrett, which turns Josh Olson’s essay of the same name into a version of Dr. Suess’s Green Eggs and Ham. (Not safe for work unless your boss edits The Village Voice.)

(4) Langford’s quite right, every fan will enjoy reading Graham Charnock’s Corflu Cobalt Report. One hilarious line after another. Mostly safe for work. What isn’t safe is for me to admit which lines made me laugh hardest.

(5) Letters of Note has posted two letters from Lewis Carroll apologizing with all the charm at his disposal for failing to arrange a railway ticket on time.

P.S. I must tell you candidly that the whole of this letter is a hoax, and that my real reason was—to be able to make you a nice little portable present. Friends suggested a corkscrew, a work-box, or a harmonium: but, as I cleverly remarked, “These are all very well in their way, but you can only use them sometimes—whereas a railway ticket is always handy!” Have I chosen well?

(6) David Klaus reveals the secret of The Mission: Impossible Revival that Never Was:

The recent death of actor Peter Graves reminds me of a story line for a revived Mission: Impossible series idea Bob Short told me about many years ago, long before the Australian-filmed Mission: Impossible revival series or the current movie series.

[Thanks to David Klaus and Andrew Porter for the  links in this article that weren’t thieved from Ansible.] 

Harlan Ellison and Josh Olson

Update 3/26/2010: Corrected Virgin Galactic link as recommended in David Klaus’ comment.

Patricia Wrightson Dies

Australian children’s author Patricia Wrightson died March 15 of natural causes at the age of 88.

She wove Aboriginal mythology into her writing, for which she has been both praised and criticized. She was awarded the biennial Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1986 for her body of work.

An Associated Press story said in recent years some have characterized her fiction as an exploitation and misappropriation of Aboriginal culture. Her publisher, Mark Macleod, said,”She was trying to create a kind of pan Australia – a whole new Australian mythology which was part non-indigenous and part indigenous.”

 [Via Michael Walsh.]