Eileen Gunn in Smithsonian Magazine

Eileen Gunn, past Nebula winner and Hugo nominee, and author of the short story collection Questionable Practices, appears in the May issue of Smithsonian Magazine. Her article “How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future” explains that science fiction isn’t meant to predict the future — although sf ideas that fire inventors’ imaginations often have become reality.

The piece quotes Cory Doctorow, William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ted Chiang, Neal Stephenson. Samuel R. Delany, Sophia Brueckner and Jordin Kare.

Jordin Kare, an astrophysicist at the Seattle-based tech company LaserMotive, who has done important practical and theoretical work on lasers, space elevators and light-sail propulsion, cheerfully acknowledges the effect science fiction has had on his life and career. “I went into astrophysics because I was interested in the large-scale functions of the universe,” he says, “but I went to MIT because the hero of Robert Heinlein’s novel Have Spacesuit, Will Travel went to MIT.” Kare himself is very active in science fiction fandom. “Some of the people who are doing the most exploratory thinking in science have a connection to the science-fiction world.”

[Via Ansible Links.]

New Apex Magazine Submission Guidelines

Apex Magazine has modified its submission guidelines, hiking the word limit for short fiction, increasing the pay rate, and setting new rules for poetry submissions.

The limit on short fiction submissions, formerly 5,000 words, is now 7,500 words. The press release explains this will “[give] our authors more room to tell their tales and bring our readers some longer pieces of fiction.”

Apex Magazine will begin paying 6 cents a word for all original short fiction on July 1, complying with SFWA’s latest rate requirements to continue being considered a professional market.

Finally, the magazine has set a 200 line limit on all poetry submissions. All poetry must be original and unpublished.

The Apex Magazine submission guidelines may be read in their entirety here.

The Quiet Man

After two days of cannons to the left and cannons to the right volleying and thundering about the presence of Larry Correia and Vox Day on the Hugo ballot, if you were asked to list the writers who have not taken sides how likely is it that you’d write down the name of the left’s most contentious paladin, Harlan Ellison?

Of course you wouldn’t – Harlan once devoted a Sci-Fi Buzz commentary to roasting Gardner Dozois for allegedly using the internet to ask Hugo voters to nominate Asimov’s stories. Why would he hold back against these two guys?

But he has. Harlan has become a bit more strategic, declining to let his friends and colleagues rope him into a fight with people whose names he didn’t even know til now.

Instead, Ellison said on his forum

I dunno. I report what is conveyed to me. It ain’t my fight, and if wannabes and the entrenched desire to unfurl banners and lob chain-link cannonballs at one another…heh heh heh…I’m a SFWA Grand Master with 4 Writers Guild Best awards, 102 books, 81/2 Hugos, 5 Nebulas, 2 Edgars and more junk metal and Lucite awards than you could cram into ten cells of a psycho ward…(have you noticed, even at age buttin’up’to 80, I don’t do humility very well)…if there’s a fight, and Big Writers think “Vox Day” is not playing fair, this is a reasoned, smart, informed and rational podium, this site, and I urge strongarm demand cozen and inveigle one and all, including the eye of the storm him/or/herself (hashtag-pseudonyms are such bullshit) to avail themselves of this forum.

While I don’t know what Vox Day has to gain by posting comments there, Harlan has distinguished himself from the pack by extending the invitation.

Update 04/22/2014: Day has written to Ellison about the controvery – http://www.harlanellison.com/heboard/unca.php (see April 22 — Ellison’s forum keeps scrolling, and does not provide links to specific comments.)

Johnny Skyrocket, The Golden Vampire and The Jet Craft Mystery Jet

By James H. Burns: There were all kinds of pioneers of public interest in the space program, once upon a time. If one turned out not to be quite all he seemed to be, it’s still fascinating to think how many young minds he might have influenced, or gotten interested in our future among the planets.

The other day, I was looking through a short book by the late Hank Stohl, on the history of children’s TV shows in Pittsburgh, When We Were Kids.

Stohl was a local television host in the area, in the 1950s and 1960s. I encountered him later in the ’60s, when Stohl’s daily kids show was brought to New York for a while, on WPIX. (I am fairly certain he was accompanied by his sidekicks Knish, Rodney Nugent Buster Hackenflash III, and Connie–puppets, of course!)

The book is barely a brief photo album, but one picture particularly caught my eye: Stohl standing in front of a large rocket ship, situated sidewise, aloft on supports on a trailer bed, emblazoned with, “Hank Stohl and Johnny Skyrocket…  National History of Flight… Pittsburgh Airbase…  July 4, 5, 6…”

Kids-TV history, particularly from my era, is an interest of mine. When I Googled “Johnny Skyrocket,” it was intriguing to discover, thanks to an harticle by Dave O’Malley at the Vintage Wings of Canada website that “Johnny” was something of a regular for years at certain air shows in MANY states, making countless appearances on local television.

“He would wear a cape and a golden flying helmet with dazzle dust, and he had a big golden J on the chest of a blue uniform. And he had a mask.”

(At other times, apparently, “He wore a blue satin flight suit and silver helmet and boots.”)

Ultimately, this linked article is more about a small element of the mid-way point of aviation history (including Skyrocket’s evident fascination with the de Havilland jet), but there’s no telling now, half-a-century later, how many people saw this “man of the future” act, and, possibly, were stirred…

De Havilland DH-100 Vampire jet.

De Havilland DH-100 Vampire jet.

1954 Worldcon Archive Offered

The papers of the Twelfth World Science Fiction Convention are back on the market. This archive of correspondence, contracts and the like from SFCon, held in San Francisco in 1954, previously offered in 2012 by The Fine Books Company for $12,218.50, is available from the same dealer but with a new asking price of $15,925.00.

Here is the seller’s list of all the goodies in this fanhistorical treasure trove –

A UNIQUE OFFERING THE TWELFTH WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION PAPERS. Held in San Francisco in the summer of 1954 with G.O.H. John Campbell, Jr., this was one of the great early gatherings. Included in this massive archive is everything that one might want to know about running a convention: Hotel rates for rooms, banquets, buffet menus, rentals, carpenters, electricians, etc. There are letters from attendees and those who wished to attend but could not; paid invoices from photo shops, printers, etc.; canceled checks (along with some unused ones as well) and check stubs; Radio scripts from local stations and press clippings and pictures from local papers; letters from major Motion Picture Studios answering requests about film availability; SIGNED letters from advertizers (including all the small presses); the entire convention mailing list; black & white photos picturing singularly or in group Ackerman, Anderson, Boucher, Bloch, Campbell, Clifton, Dick, Ellison, Evans, Gold, Mayne, Ley, Moskowitz, Nourse, E.E. Smith, Williamson, Van Vogt, Vampira, et.al. But of course the major importance of this archive has yet to be mentioned. And that’s simply the great abundance of SIGNED letters, post-cards and notes from authors and artists. To wit: Anderson, Asimov (3), Blaisdell, Blish, Bond, Bonestell (4), Boucher (3), Bradbury (4), Bretnor, F. Brown, Howard Browne, Budrys, Campbell (5), Clement, Clifton (2), Collier, Conklin, DeCamp, DeFord, Dick, Dickson, Dollens (8), Emshwiller (2), Eshbach (2), Evans, Farmer, Freas (3), Greenberg (2), Gunn, Heinlein, Hunter (5), Kuttner, Ley (5), Moskowitz, Neville, Nolan (3), Nourse, Obler, Orban (3), Palmer, Pratt, Simak, E.E. Smith (2), Tucker, Williamson (3), Wylie, et.al. Finally, also included is a set of audio tapes which were taken at this convention. Now for the first time (depending on your age I guess) you can not only be privy to what went on at this convention, but also hear the actual voices of Anthony Boucher, John W. Campbell, E.E. “DOC”Smith and others too numerous to mention. A unique opportunity to snatch a bit of vintage post-war Science Fiction history. (The tapes, while definitely included in this grouping, may not be immediately available.)

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Apex Magazine Issue #59

ApexMag04 SMALLThere are 29,000 words of short fiction, poetry, and interviews in Apex Magazine #59, by Haddayr Copley-Woods, Tom Piccirilli, Ferrett Steinmetz, John Chu, Pamela Dean, Lavie Tidhar, Beth Cato, Michele Bannister, Chris Lynch, Sonya Taaffe, and Abra Staffin-Wiebe. The cover art is by Mehrdad Isvandi.

Here is the table of contents of issue 56.

“Perfect” by Haddayr Copley-Woods
“Steel Snowflakes in My Skull” by Tom Piccirilli
“The Cultist’s Son” by Ferrett Steinmetz
“Repairing the World” by John Chu
“Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary” by Pamela Dean (eBook/subscriber exclusive)
The Violent Century (extract) by Lavie Tidhar (eBook/subscriber exclusive)

“Cogs” by Beth Cato
“Unlabelled Core c. Zanclean (5.33 Ma)” by Michele Bannister
“Tell Me the World is a Forest” by Chris Lynch
“Aristeia” by Sonya Taaffe

“Resolute: Notes from the Editor-in-Chief” by Sigrid Ellis
“Interview with Cover Artist Mehrdad Isvandi” by Loraine Sammy
“Interview with Ferrett Steinmetz” by Maggie Slater
“After Our Bodies Fail” by Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Podcast Fiction
“Repairing the World” by John Chu

SFWA Readings in SoCal

Science Fiction Writers of America is launching a Southern California Reading Series on May 31. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore will host these free, quarterly events at its San Diego and Redondo Beach locations.

The inaugural readings will take place Saturday, May 31 at 2 p.m. at the San Diego store (7051 Clairemont Mesa Bl.). Featured authors will be Cecil Castellucci, Nalo Hopkinson, and a third to be announced.

The second event is scheduled for Saturday, August 30 at 2 p.m. at Mysterious Galaxy’s Redondo Beach location (2810 Artesia Blvd, Redondo Beach). Readers that day will be Stephen Blackmoore, Sofia Samatar, and Sherwood Smith.

Shatner’s World a Fathom Event on 4/24

William Shatner’s one-man show will be screened in cinemas nationwide on April 24.

Shatner’s World, the critically acclaimed one-man show, takes audiences on an exhilarating behind-the-scenes voyage through his storied life and career. With an energetic mix of personal anecdotes, laugh-out-loud humor and poignant moments, William Shatner shares his phenomenal journey from classically-trained Shakespearean actor to internationally-known cultural icon, all the while illuminating the unique persona of his most important character, himself.

Whatever will we do for news when Shatner’s career finally comes to an end?

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the link.]