Here are 9 developments of interest to fans.
(1) “’Unicorn’ Brought Back From Extinction” is the headline of FoxNews.com’s report about the Arabian oryx. When I read it my reaction was — “Extinction ain’t what it used to be!”
This time Fox isn’t entirely to blame for the gaffe – Fox picked up the story from Guardian.co.uk where it ran under the headline “Arabian ‘unicorn’ no longer extinct.”
And, technically, it may not be a gaffe. The wild Arabian oryx population was hunted to extinction. The species has been saved by a captive breeding program and it now is being reintroduced to the Arabian peninsula.
But my goodness.
(2) On the StarShip Sofa message board “Gonzalo” offers a theory to explain why the Hugo rules were changed, opening the way for SSS to be nominated in the Best Fanzine category:
I suspect the set of people who draw up/amend the Hugo eligibility rules considered differentiating between paper/text-based fan material (whether a ‘zine or a “related work”) and other media (audio/video) and ultimately decided that they fulfil the same fan ‘need’ to share and discuss SF work and to form a community – irrespective of the mechanism used.
I’ve never seen such a lucid explanation from the rulesmakers, who will probably rush to appropriate it. What I “suspect” is that they never considered the possibility that their changes would open the category to podcasts, but are indifferent about it happening.
Gonzalo has other insights worth reading, though I take exception to one self-contradicting comment about the Hugo voters:
Absolutely – you could say it’s a self-selecting membership, which probably results in the same people voting for the same types of things time and again.
Same things again and again? Did somebody forget to tell StarShip Sofa that they won last year?
(3) I guess it isn’t the Year of the Jackpot after all. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Wiccan chaplain Patrick McCollum’s claim that the California prison system should add a celebrant of Wicca and other pagan or nature-based religions to its paid chaplaincy program.
The paid-chaplaincy program has evolved in California’s prison system since the 1930s, and today it employs clergy of the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Native American faiths.
According to 2002 estimates, there are approximately 598 inmates in the system who identify themselves as Wiccan, a term that the ruling says includes “faith groups consisting of Wiccans, Goddess worshipers, Neo-Pagans, Pagans, Norse Pagans (and any other ethnic designation), Earth Religionists, Old Religionists, Druids, Shamans, Asatrus, and those practicing in the Faery, Celtics, Khemetic, Gardnerian, Church of All Worlds, Reclaiming, Dianic, Alexandrian, Iseum of Isis, Reconstructionist, Odinist or Yoruban Traditions, and other similar nature-based faiths.”
However, this decision had nothing to do with the court’s opinion about the merits of Wicca as a religion. Rather, the Ninth Circuit disallowed the volunteer chaplain’s attempt to stretch his employment discrimination argument into an assertion of inmates rights. Inmates are free to file their own claims against the chaplaincy program if they want – McCollum has no standing to do it for them.
(4) PulpFest 2011, July 29-31 in Columbus, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Talbot Mundy’s first appearance in print with a showing of The Black Watch (1929), a film adaptation of Mundy’s “King of the Khyber Rifles” and the first sound picture by famed movie director John Ford. The film stars Victor McLaglen and Myrna Loy.
(5) “Now It Can Be Told” by Scott Shaw! depicts a humorous episode in San Diego Comic-Con history when Scott and his friends created a faux rock band to entertain fans at the con, and the big trouble they got into for some satirical lyrics.
(6) Mechnical arms, now used in a few factories, may have a future in medicine and art too:
The zeroG exoskeletal arm, resembling a limb that might have fallen off the Terminator, shares its roots with the Steadicam, which has revolutionized the way action movies are shot.
Equipois sees the same technology helping sculptors, surgeons and dentists work longer without getting tired.
(7) It’s kind of eerie looking at this abandoned Gulliver theme park in Japan
(8) Science Fiction Awards Watch gets into full swing about this time of year. Here are a few new awards shortlists they’ve posted:
- John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalists
- Theodore Sturgeon Award Finalists
- Sir Julius Vogel Awards (New Zealand fan-voted award)
(9) How well I remember Jack Harness as Duck Savage, the Duck of Bronze. I, too, was a member of the group he entered in the 1974 Westercon, my first and only masquerade appearance. We won “Best Humorous.” See a photo of Jack in his ripped t-shirt here.
[Thanks for these links goes out to Andrew Porter, David Klaus and Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol.]