Snapshots 77 Sunset Strip

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans:

(1) David Klaus, pointing to Forbes.com’s “Scientists Are Building Robot Dinosaurs Out Of 3-D Printed Fossils,” declares: “This combines two of my favorite things, dinosaurs and robots. It’s two, two, two fannish desires in one!”

“We don’t know a lot about the way dinosaurs move,” Lacovara said in a press release. “How did they stand? How did they ambulate? Did they run or trot? How did they reproduce? It’s all a bit mysterious.”

By the end of the year, the paleontologists at Drexel hope to have a completed 3-D robotic dinosaur limb featuring muscles and tendons. The next step after that is to build a full robotic dinosaur replica.

This work is similar to Tangorra’s other project, which is building robotic fish that move like the real thing. “We extract features from biological species and create software-based or robotic testing systems. It’s easier to test a biorobotic system than a biological system,” Tangorra said.

(2) Congratulations, Michael J. Walsh! Washington Post critic Michael Dirda is enthusiastic about your reprint of  Keith Roberts’ Pavane – an Old Earth Books publication:

A pavane is a stately dance, one with all its steps set out, with a clear beginning and a foreseen end. To my ear, the word itself sounds melancholy, with an air of plangency that fits this achingly beautiful novel perfectly. First published in 1968 and now reissued by Old Earth Books as a handsome large-size paperback, “Pavane” is one of the masterworks of modern science fiction, a book that has won the admiration of such contemporary giants of the field as Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Terry Pratchett, Christopher Priest and William Gibson. On the cover — itself a striking example of Leo and Diane Dillon’s distinctive artwork — George R.R. Martin, author of “A Game of Thrones,” calls Roberts’s book “a masterpiece … one of the greatest alternate world stories ever told.”

(3) When LASFS honored me with the 2011 Forry Award for Lifetime Achievement in SF, surprisingly this news was deemed worthy of reporting in Germany’s Fandom Observer. Auf Deutsch, natürlich –

Mike Glyer, der Herausgeber des langlebigen Fanzines FILE 770, wurde nun für sein Lebenswerk im Dienste der Science Fiction geehrt – die LASFS, die Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, verlieh ihm den Forry Award 2011 im Rahmen der LosCon 38 Ende November. Der FANDOM OBSERVER gratuliert!

(4) Is this now the all-Hamit-all-the-time network? Well, my goal in using these items is to create a window into an author’s working life – learning about self-publishing, protecting copyrights without the help of a large company, finding ways to promote the work and make a living. Thought I’d better have a preamble, because here come two more links. First, there’s a 14-minute video of Francis Hamit’s talk to the Civil Warriors Round Table on February 8 [YouTube]. Second, Hamit was interviewed about Rose Greenhow, The Queen of Washington, by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt:

[Rose had] been mentored by Dolley Madison, who also had that title, and created that entire society in Washington where the men were above politics and the women did the deals. Rose couldn’t vote, but she could get you a government job…or a spouse. It was a very corrupt system and the secessionists infiltrated the government before the Civil War and started to steal information and assets. Weapons were shipped South. Documents and maps disappeared. Money disappeared. And Rose was up to her neck in most of it. 

(5) What is Costume-Con? is a 3-minute trailer promoting the travelling, 4-day conference devoted to all forms of the art of costuming. Costume-Con 30 takes place May 11 – 14 in Tempe, Arizona.

(6 ) Retronaut hosts an online exhibit Soviet Space Propaganda Posters, 1958-1963. (Might be something here that will inspire future Orlando in 2015 ads.)

(7) Mark Squirek recently interviewed Stephen Haffner about his publishing house for “The Main Event” column at SCOOP, Diamond Galleries/Gemstone Publishing’s weekly online newsletter.

Haffner wanted to create affordable hard covers that would last. “We looked at several different publishers from the turn of the century forward. I make sure that we use acid free archival quality paper. These are always going to be full cloth bindings. Smythe-sewn type of bindings instead of just pages glues to spine. There is no better, longer-lasting way to produce a printed work. These are designed to last centuries. A good printed book should last 400 years.”

(8) The Nonstop Book Of Fantastika Tattoo Designs, edited by K.J. Cypret, is forthcoming from Nonstop Press. It contains over “180 fantastic tattoo flash design inspirations.” Artists include Hannes Bok, Ed Emshwiller, Lee Brown Coye, Virgil Finlay, Jack Gaughan, Harry Clarke and other notable 20th century fantasists.

(9) Michael A. Burstein’s birthday received a substantial paragraph in This Day, February 27, In Jewish History by Mitchell A. Levin, posted at the Cleveland Jewish News. Detailed examples follow these introductory lines:

1970: Birthdate of science fiction writer Michael A. Burstein. According to some, Burstein is not unique because he is a Jewish science fiction writer. He is unique because he is a practicing Jew who writes science fiction.

(10) Snapshots 76 referenced a New York Times article about Professor Matthew Kirschenbaum’s effort to find out “Who Word-Processed First?” and Jerry Pournelle’s unhappiness that he had been overlooked as the first author to write a novel on a word processor. Once clued in, Kirschenbaum went in person to visit Pournelle’s old machine at the Smithsonian. Then he sent a wry e-mail which Pournelle posted on Chaos Manor:

This morning I went to the Smithsonian to visit Zeke II. He was dozing comfortably when I arrived, in a cabinet on the fifth floor which a curator was on hand to open for me. (As you know, the Information Age exhibit is currently mothballed, to be replaced with something on “American Enterprise.”) What a sturdy looking machine–they sure don’t make them like that anymore. Two shelves above him is the keyboard and some other components for the IBM Deep Blue computer, so I suspect he doesn’t lack for intelligent conversation where he is now. There’s also a Mac Classic: you’d know better than I whether Zeke would ever make a pass….

(11) Megan Daum’s essay “Haterade” in Believer magazine tells a lot of truth about how we interact online, and the woundedness that results from people’s inability to resist reading any calumny with their name attached.

In “The Readers Strike Back,” a particularly thoughtful article on this subject that appeared on Salon back in 2007 (Salon being famous for some of the more affronted and pious commenters on the web), Gary Kamiya admitted that “it’s very hard for writers, who want to be read and want to know what readers are saying about them, to ignore letters or blogs about themselves.” He quoted Salon senior writer Laura Miller, who allowed that “practically every writer I know has gone through the mill with this,” and then invoked Anthony Trollope’s line from Phineas Finn: “But who is there that abstains from reading that which is printed in abuse of himself?”

[Thanks for these links goes out to Andrew Porter, David Klaus, Janice Gelb, Lisa Hertel and Francis Hamit.]

5 thoughts on “Snapshots 77 Sunset Strip

  1. My copy of Pavane stills sits on my bookshelf (next to Robots Have No Tails). A wonderful novel.

  2. Hey, Mike, my memory is hazy these days but wasn’t David Gerrold using a mag card Selectric for word processing before Pournelle stated using a computer for it? Or doesn’t that count as it is not a true computer?

  3. When I shared the dedication of Robert Shea’s All things Are Lights (mid-80′s), I was surprised, and when he inscribed my copy, “To Neil Rest, who helped illuminate the author”, I was delighted. But very puzzled. When I asked, he explained, “You were the first person to tell me that I should be writing on a computer.”

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