(1) NOM DE GLOOM. Turns out nobody will ever voyage to Alpha Centauri – because the astronomical equivalent of the post office has given it a change of address – “Alpha Centauri Gets a New Moniker as 227 Star Names Are Clarified”.
“Alpha Centauri” is getting the boot. The longstanding star name has been displaced by its ancient counterpart in a new International Astronomical Union (IAU) catalog that designates 227 official names for different stars in the sky.
The move was intended to reduce confusion, according to the IAU. For instance, a star like Fomalhaut has at least 30 different names, so it’s difficult to figure out what to call it — or even how to spell it. Variations over the years have included Fumalhaut, Fomalhut and even the unusual Fomal’gaut.
The IAU, which is the official arbiter of astronomical names, chose single names to refer to those stars that have historically had many. Some of the decisions may rattle longtime observers, however. For example, the binary star Alpha Centauri, which lies 4.35 light-years from the sun, is now known officially as “Rigil Kentaurus,” the ancient name for the system.
(2) WHELAN ART PROJECT. Michael Whelan has a Kickstarter going for a new book with Baby Tattoo. The book is being published to coincide with an exhibition of Michael’s art at the Riverside Art Museum in Southern California in February.
It’s actually done very well already – the target was $10,000, and $54,056 has been raised with 22 days to go.
(3) DON’T SPOON FEED THE AUDIENCE. Misha Burnett made a good point in a comment at Mad Genius Club.
I think that “overbackstorying” is one of the signature literary sins of our age. During the after-film discussion with my roommate after we had we had seen “Dr. Strange” the subject came up of filmmakers not trusting audiences to pick up on subtleties.
I can just imagine a remake of “Citizen Kane”.
“Come in now, young man–you can’t stay out there with your new sled, which is called ‘Rosebud’ all day!”
“But I love my new sled, which is called Rosebud! No matter what happens for the rest of my life, this will be the moment I’ll remember on my deathbed!”
(4) YOU CAN TALK TO THE HORSE, BUT NOT NECESSARILY OF COURSE. Fantasy Faction reposted Aaron Miles’ insightful article “A Question of Technology”.
How fantasy elements interact with technology is another aspect of worldbuilding to consider. Necessity is the mother of invention, the creation of a tool to aid in a task. But when you have characters that can make it rain at will, it seems pointless to dig ditches for irrigation. Does your world have magical solutions instead of technological ones, how prevalent is magic and its availability in solving daily problems? The opposite can be true as well, does your world have technological solutions to magical problems? Has a castle population built giant net launchers and long range crossbows to help defend themselves from dragon attacks? Perhaps they’ve developed fire resistant armour and building materials. This is an example of the necessity point in action, it’s human nature to try and counter a hostile force. In a world ruled by magic users, perhaps a resistance has created mechanical devices that negate their powers; maybe your heroes need them to complete a quest?
The level of technology in your work can influence the plot and what kind of solutions the writer can present to their characters. Is a character sick or injured? Is there a medical cure, it is easily available or a rarity? What about travel, does your world have domesticated horses, are there paved roads that allow them to make good time?
(5) WISHLIST OF A FAN’S DREAMS. Corrina Lawson made a list of “Fictional Presents We’d Love to Receive This Holiday Season” for B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.
Translation Microbe (Farscape) Lots of translation devices pop up in science fiction universes, including the Babel Fish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but you have to stick that leech-like thing in your ear. Ew. The Translation Microbe from Farscape also has to be sent into the body (via injection), rooting itself at the base of the brain. But it’s painless, aside from the initial injection, and there’s nothing living in your head. As for Star Trek‘s universal translator? That’s a machine that can be lost or destroyed, and you don’t want to be caught out as a stranger in a strange land.
(6) ATKINS OBIT. Lon Atkins (1942-2016) has died. Guy Lillian III sent this tribute about the legendary fan.
Lon Atkins, lost either yesterday or just this morning, was a titan in our Southern fannish world. His Rebel Award, his Fan GoHship at the DSC, were beautiful if finally inadequate reflections of his contribution to our early days as a regional fandom and our growth into the vibrant and important segment of SFdom we’ve become. He was Official Editor of SFPA for four years and kept it going through its slimmest days. His fabled battles at the Hearts table with his great frtiend Hank Reinhardt were not only legendary, but entertaining, helping to build the sense of community that marks the region and its game. He did the best apazines — the best-written, the best-reproed, the most comprehensive — I have ever seen. And he was a gentleman.
I am lost in regret. Lon was a mentor and a model for how a good man conducts himself in science fiction fandom. MELIKAPHKAZ forever!
(7) JIM C. HINES RESUMES FUNDRAISING AUCTIONS. He took a few days off for the holiday, but Jim C. Hines today is taking bids on an autographed, personalized series from Sherwood Smith.
Welcome back to the third of 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions.
Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464. Every tax-deductible donation helps them continue to provide support, advocacy, and education.
Auction number three is for a personally autographed hardcover set of either the INDA or DOBRENICA series, by author Sherwood Smith. Sherwood is also willing to personalize the books if the donor wishes — doodles, notes about something they’re interested in on the text, etc.
(8) FOR THOSE WHO COULD NOT MAKE IT IN PERSON. The exhibit ended its local run yesterday, and will be moving on to other cities. Steve Weintraub has done his best to show Collider readers what they missed — “Over 150 Pictures from the Cool & Unusual ‘Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters’ LACMA Exhibit”.
As you’ll see in the pictures below, not only will you notice things from his films like Cronos, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, and Crimson Peak, you’ll see the 1907 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, original Moebius artwork, original comic book pages from Alan Moore’s From Hell, concept art from films like Walt Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Sleeping Beauty, Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, James Cameron’s Aliens, Drew Struzan’s poster for Pan’s Labyrinth, his love of all things Dracula, Frankenstein, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, and so much more.
Since most people will never be able to check out the At Home with Monsters exhibit, while walking around I took a ton of pictures. Even though I snapped over 150 high-resolution pics, trust me when I say I didn’t come close to capturing everything there and if you’re near the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Minneapolis Museum of Art when the exhibition opens in either city, I strongly suggest stopping by and seeing it for yourself.
(9) WORLD FANTASY PROGRAM. From Tor.com we learn that the 2017 World Fantasy Con is gathering program ideas. The convention’s theme is Secret Histories – The Use of History in Fantasy. Use their online form.
(10) THE MAGICIANS ON SYFY. This is no fantasy. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians returns for Season 2 on January 25.
(11) THE HOLE YOU SAY. Cards Against Humanity raised over $100,000 on Black Friday by broadcasting a video of a giant hole and asking its users to throw the money in!
This has raised a lot of questions in NPR’s newsroom, some of which Cards Against Humanity endeavored to answer on its site:
What’s happening here?
Cards Against Humanity is digging a holiday hole.
Is this real?
Unfortunately it is.
Where is the hole?
America. And in our hearts.
Is there some sort of deeper meaning or purpose to the hole?
What do I get for contributing money to the hole?
A deeper hole. What else are you going to buy, an iPod?
Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity?
Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money.
Is the hole bad for the environment?
No, this was just a bunch of empty land. Now there’s a hole there. That’s life.
How am I supposed to feel about this?
You’re supposed to think it’s funny. You might not get it for a while, but some time next year you’ll chuckle quietly to yourself and remember all this business about the hole.
How deep can you make this sucker?
Great question. As long as you keep spending, we’ll keep digging. We’ll find out together how deep this thing goes.
(12) JONATHAN LIVINGSTON YODA. CinemaBlend makes sure were there when a “Star Wars Bad Lip Reading Video Turns Empire Into Hilariously Funky Seagull Song”.
The folks at Bad Lip Reading have produced some stellar videos over the course of the last few years, but this one might actually be their magnum opus. Reimagining Luke Skywalker’s time with Yoda on Dagobah, the video follows the mismatched pair as the ancient Jedi master sings to a clearly annoyed Luke. Using the speech of the Yoda puppet as a template, the video features a voiceover that replaces the wise teachings of the alien warrior with utter nonsense about seagulls, logs giving birth to sticks, and getting hit in the neck with a hacky sack. It’s undoubtedly one of the weirdest Star Wars related videos that we have ever seen on the Internet, but it’s also that weirdness that makes it so utterly awesome.
[Thanks to Arnie Fenner, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Guy H. Lillian III, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]