Wandering Through the Public Domain #3

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: Fans of the public domain have been looking forward to 2019 for a very long time — 20 years to be exact! This is because on January 1, 2019, new works will enter the public domain in the United States for the first time since 1998. In this edition of “Wandering Through the Public Domain,” I want to take a brief look at how the “public domain freeze” happened.

In 1998, the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) was passed by Congress. For copyrights owned by an individual, the term was extended to life of the creator plus 70 years. For copyrights owned by corporations, the term was extended to 95 years from publication or first use.

The previous update to copyright law in 1976 had done away with the need to renew copyrights for 28-year terms. The 1976 law set the term for individual copyright at life plus 50 years, or 75 years for corporate copyrights, and the implications of this latter term is what set the stage for the 1998 changes.

Under the 1976 law, Disney faced the possibility of Mickey Mouse moving into the public domain in 2003, 75 years after the release of the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Steamboat Willie.” Beginning in the early 1990s, Disney heavily lobbied Congress to lengthen the copyright term, joined by other large corporations like Time Warner.

Republican Congressman Sonny Bono was a vocal supporter and sponsor of copyright extension legislation in the 1990s, and his unfortunate death in a ski accident in early 1998 created additional momentum for passage of the new law. Mary Bono, the late Congressman’s widow, was appointed to finish Sonny’s term and took up the copyright cause. The CTEA was renamed “TheSonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act” and passage of the law was promoted as a way to memorialize a popular Congressman and celebrity. The law was passed by both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Clinton in October 1998.

Up until the law was passed, works had been passing into the public domain each January as the 75-year mark was reached. Under the 75-year term, works copyrighted in 1923 would have moved into the public domain on January 1, 1999, but the 20-year extension meant that the new expiration date for 1923 works moved to 2019. The public domain limit that has been frozen at 1922 for two decades will at last begin moving again in just a few weeks.

I’ve been looking at 1923 publications and have not found much in the F/SF realm as yet. The one exception so far is H.G. Wells’ Men Like Gods, a “scientific fantasy” about a utopian society in a parallel universe. There is more to come just over the horizon, as the earliest science fiction magazines began publishing in the late1920s.

In the meantime, we can still enjoy the many pre-1923 works as well as later ones where the copyright was not renewed while we look forward to a new burst of public domain access each January — at least until Congress decides to change the laws again. Mickey Mouse is back on the expiration schedule for 2023, so Disney is probably revving up their lobbying efforts even as I write this….

On to this week’s finds:

Lester Del Rey (1915-1993) is best remembered these days as an editor, particularly of the publishing imprint that still bears his name, but he was also a prolific author of science fiction in earlier years. Project Gutenberg has three Lester Del Rey novels, all of which have also been recorded through Librivox:

I’m not sure this is really science fiction, but Atom Mystery by Charles Coombs (1914-1994) is a fun kid/YA book with a trope you don’t see anymore — finding a uranium mine as a ticket to riches!

Recent Librivox releases:

The Note-Books of Samuel Butler by Samuel Butler (1851-1928) and Henry Festing Jones (1835-1902)

A collection of unpublished writings of Samuel Butler, edited after his death by Henry Festing Jones. Musings on writing, art, and philosophy, including thoughts about Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited, which are often categorized as early F/SF.

[Full disclosure: I worked on this project, recording two of the chapters!]

Mowgli: All of the Mowgli Stories from the Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling (1868-1936)

In the Jungle Books, Kipling tells 9 wonderful and exciting tales about Mowgli, the human baby raised by a pack of wolves in the jungles of India. His exploits and adventures are many and varied especially his dealing with the other animals such as his wolf mother and father and brother wolves, Baloo the wise bear who teaches him the Law of the Jungle, and in his life long battle with Shere-Kahn, the lame human-killing tiger. This edition collects all the Mowgli stories from both Jungle Book volumes and places them in chronological order.

The Castle of the Carpathians by Jules Verne (1828-1905)

The Castle stood above the quiet little town for as long as folks remembered: barren, deserted, lonely and frightening to the townsfolk. Until one day, smoke began to ascend from the dunjon. They were warned not to go near, and when intrepid souls dared to venture to uncover the mystery of the ruined castle, they learned firsthand what supernatural terrors await inside The Castle of the Carpathians.

Short Science Fiction Collection 059 by Various

20 short science fiction stories by various authors. This volume includes stories by Lester Del Rey, H.Beam Piper, Robert Silverberg, Miriam Allen DeFord, Philip K.Dick, and others. 

The Yesterday’s Kin Trilogy: An Interview with Nancy Kress

By Carl Slaughter: Nancy Kress likes to write about hard science.  Especially biotech.  She likes to write about alien contact.  She tends to populate her stories with scientists.  Her recently completed Kin trilogy is a multi-generational first contact pandemic story. The third novel in the trilogy, Terran Tomorrow, was published November 13 by Tor Books.

CARL SLAUGHTER:  Where did you get the idea for the science premise?

Nancy Kress

NANCY KRESS:  The trilogy revolves around microbes, especially pathogens that cause epidemics of various kinds.  Medicine has made good strides against bacteria-caused epidemics, but bacteria mutate, swap genes, and develop antibiotic resistance so fast that sometimes our drugs and vaccines aren’t effective (witness the hit-or-miss gamble with flu shots every year).  And we really can’t handle viral epidemics except by containment (witness Ebola, until recently).  Humanity is overdue for a major pandemic.  These ideas fascinate and scare me.  Fear is good for plotting.

CS: Same question for the plot.

NK: Science is only compelling to most readers if it happens to people.  So in the trilogy, a variety of characters cope with a pandemic on two planets: a geneticist, an Army Ranger, two brothers with vastly different ideas on how to live on a devastated Earth, aliens who are not what they seem, a man more at home in the alien culture than in his own.  These people fight, love, cope, strive.  For me, plot always grows out of character.

CS: Are the main characters throughout the trilogy or a different set of characters for each story?

NK: Both.  Geneticist Marianne Jenner, her children, and ultimately her grandchildren, are the common thread through all three books.  Other major characters appear in just one book: Ranger Leo Brodie,  physician Lindy Ross, the alien woman who adopts the name Jane.

CS: Are the main characters scientists, soldiers, journalists, linguists, professors, politicians?

NK: All of the above!  A large-scale space opera involves everybody.  There is, however, a preponderance of scientists and, in If Tomorrow Comes (book 2), soldiers.

CS: Do you reveal the plot through the characters or vice versus?  My personal preference is vice versa.

NK: This question doesn’t actually make sense to me, since plot and character are intimately connected.  A plot event occurs, and a character shows their personal qualities by how they react.  A character’s actions generate more plot.  It goes back and forth, or occurs at the same time.  There is, however, an inciting plot incident that starts everything going.  In the first book of the trilogy, If Tomorrow Comes, it is the appearance on Earth of aliens with a dire warning for our planet.

CS: Is this one of those ‘the human race might get wiped out’ plots or one of those ‘the human race will definitely go through fundamental change’ plots?

NK: The human race will definitely go through fundamental changes.  I once wrote a novel in which the entire human race gets wiped out (Nothing Human) and it was not a success, although I liked it.  But in this trilogy, there are gallant, resourceful, and hopeful survivors making new societies on two worlds.

CS: What are the recurring themes?

NK: Survival.  Difficult moral choices.  The power of persistence.  The need to connect with others—alien and human.  That faced with crisis, different people will react in far different ways.  Humanity is not a monolith.

CS: Are they the same themes in your other stories?

NK: Yes, I think so.

CS: I haven’t read all of your stories, but enough to know that a large number of them involve alien cultures, hard science, or both.  I’m guessing that’s not a coincidence.

NK: No, not a coincidence.  Writing about aliens is a way of making characters confront the alien in others—and in themselves.  Xenophobia is hard-wired into our genes: “That stranger from another tribe might be dangerous!”  Civilization depends on overcoming xenophobia and cooperating.  Civilization is fragile, and fragile situations make for good narratives.  In addition, our current civilization depends on science: computers, cars, medicine, heating and cooling, advanced manufacturing techniques and tools, agribusinesses.  The most intimate science is biotechnology, affecting and altering our own bodies, as well as crops and animals and the environment.  Much of my fiction concerns genetic engineering.  This is the future.

CS: What stories are in the works?

NK: I am working on a long novella that—contrary to everything I just said!—is not about biotech.  Rather, it’s about growing automation of our businesses that result in massive unemployment and the changes to society that will bring.

CS: What’s going on on the workshop front?

NK: I am delighted that you asked!  Taos Toolbox opened for submissions December 1.  Toolbox is an intensive, two-week, Clarion-style workshop that Walter Jon Williams and I teach every year in New Mexico.  Guest lecturers include George R.R. Martin.  This year’s dates are July 7-20.  More information is available at www.taostoolbox.com

CS: Where can fans catch up with you for an autograph/photo?

NK: I am Guest of Honor at a small local con in Seattle, Foolscap (www.foolscap.org).  I will be going to Dublin for Worldcon in August.  Between those two events, I’m not sure.  My husband and I are buying a house and moving—time-consuming if exhilarating events.  Real life goes on next to science fiction life—although sometimes, of course, they blend.  Maybe all the time they blend.  Maybe aliens will inhabit my house.  Certainly microbes will.  Maybe…

Enough.  Stop.  Thank you for the interview, Carl.

Nancy Kress at Capclave 2018

Remembering Ray Milland

By Steve Vertlieb: My brother Erwin and I with the wonderful Oscar-winning actor Ray Milland during a not dissimilar “Lost Weekend” way back in 1967. Ray was appearing locally in Philadelphia, appearing live on stage during a national tour of “Hostile Witness.” He was kind, gracious and a gentleman … the very definition of an old world-class act, and a genuine Hollywood movie star.

Steve Vertlieb, Ray Milland, Erwin Vertlieb.

Ray Milland expressed sincere shock at his own youthful image from 1936. He said “WOW, is that Me??????, joyfully exclaiming that this was “when I had my own hair.”

Wandering Through the Public Domain, Episode 2

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: Thanks for the warm welcome for my first entry! I’ll start with some responses to comments on that post, then move on to some new discoveries for this edition.

Camestros Felapton said: “Interesting that there are public domain works available from the 60s and 70s.”

I’ll start by saying that I’m not expert on the intricacies of public domain, and most of what I say now is based on the discussions I’ve seen about it on the Librivox volunteer forums and a little other reading.

The way copyright worked in the United States for much of the 20th century is that a published work’s copyright expired after 28 years, and then you had to renew it. If the copyright holder did not renew it, the work moved into the public domain.

This changed with the passage of a new copyright law in 1976. Works published on or after January 1, 1978 no longer have to be renewed and are subject to a single, but much longer, copyright term. With the most recent change, in 1998, everything published before 1923 is firmly public domain; for works published between 1923 and 1964, the copyright renewal standard still applies.

The statistic I’ve seen is that only about 15% of copyrights were ever renewed during that 1923-1964 period, so the vast majority of stuff published in that era IS in the public domain. The hitch is that you have to do tedious research to verify that the copyright was not renewed, and it’s hard to be 100% sure unless you are very knowledgeable about such things, or you pay several hundred dollars to have a professional research it for you.

(By the way, I’m not sure where that 1964 cutoff comes from, since 28 years before 1978 would be 1960, but that is the year I keep seeing in discussions, and there are some short stories published in magazines in the early 1960s that are on Project Gutenberg. Hopefully I can find out more about this and update in a future post!)

Works can also be released directly into the public domain. This is the case with that book of 1970s interviews I linked last time. The publication where the interviews appeared is long defunct and the copyright reverted to the author of the interviews, who chose to release them as a public domain compilation.

Because Project Gutenberg has volunteers who are very knowledgeable and careful copyright researchers, you can be 99.9% sure that if it appears on there, it’s out of copyright and safely in the public domain.

On Internet Archive, which allows just about anyone to upload anything, I usually narrow my searches to the “American Libraries” collections, because the libraries are equally cautious about making sure things are out of copyright.

I don’t want to encourage copyright infringement, so I will avoid linking anything here that is questionable; however, I will mention that various collections on Internet Archive are less strict with copyright, and are not hard to find there if you poke around a bit.

Ambyr said: “It might be what encourages me to finally download the LibriVox app.”

The Librivox app is very useful — I listen to it daily! But it’s important to know that the Librivox organization does NOT make the app; the app makers just use the Librivox material. The app also includes some old-time radio programs as well as some self-published/self-recorded contemporary audiobooks, neither of which come from Librivox.

You can stream and download Librivox works from the Librivox website itself, and all Librivox releases are also cataloged on Internet Archive and

Kip Williams said: “Viva la, er domaine libre! And may it start growing a bit faster.”

Fingers crossed, it’s about to, after 20 long years of being frozen. (More about that next time!)

Now onto this week’s finds:

Random searching in Project Gutenberg serendipitously led me to two lawyers who were also early SF authors, and who actually collaborated with each other: Arthur Leo Zagat (1896-1949) and Nat Schachner (1895-1955).

Arthur Leo Zagat has two stand-alone stories on PG:

(“Trapped in the great dome, Darl valiantly defends Earth’s outpost against the bird-man of Mars and his horde of pigmy henchmen”!)

Nat Schachner also has two stand-alone stories on PG:

(This is a longer piece, published as a “novelette” at the time but at around 30K words, would be considered a novella these days)

In addition, PG has a collection of full issues of Astounding Stories from 1930-1931, two of which include stories co-written by Zagat and Schachner:

The first 20 issues of Astounding Stories have also been recorded and released as Librivox audiobooks. These include the May 1931 and July 1931 issues mentioned above.

Other recent Librivox releases:

Although best known for his works of science fiction, social commentary and history, H.G. Wells here gives us humorous and light-hearted pieces on a wide variety of intriguing topics from chess to death. Each essay is a gem of wit and delight.

Mark Twain wrote this fairytale style story about 3 boys who meet Satan’s cousin and they experience many things during this time. The story is narrated by one of the boys many years later.

Wandering Through the Public Domain, Episode 1

[[Introduction: Colleen McMahon, who writes comments as cmm, is launching a new series of posts about sff available through public domain sites like Project Gutenberg and Librivox. Welcome to our guide to these resources!]]

By Colleen McMahon: Hello! I want to first think OGH, Mike, for kindly taking me up on my proposal to contribute a regular feature to File 770, in which I’ll write about science-fiction, fantasy, and horror works that are in the public domain and are available online for free. My plan is to make a biweekly post providing a simple roundup of links and short descriptions of books and other publications in our favorite genres. (Yes, your personal Mt. Tsundoku is likely to grow some new peaks and crags!)

Note: since I’m based in the United States, I’m going to be talking about works that are in the public domain in the U.S., that is, published prior to 1923, or between 1923 and 1964 with a copyright that was not renewed. I believe that most of the works I’ll mention will be in the public domain worldwide, but access to some items may be blocked in countries where copyright expires 50 or 70 years after the death of the author. I apologize in advance for any frustrations, and will mention birth and death dates where I know them.

My interest in public domain works is an offshoot of one of my hobbies — I volunteer for Librivox, an all-volunteer project that creates free audiobooks from works in the public domain. I had been listening to their audiobooks for several years, and decided to take the plunge into volunteering as a reader in early 2017. I quickly became hooked, and have recorded multiple chapters of group projects, contributed short pieces to compilations, and am in the middle of my third solo book project.

The process of finding books and other pieces to record led me first to Project Gutenberg, a site that has been publishing free e-texts of public domain works for decades now (Librivox is actually a spinoff from Project Gutenberg), and then to the Internet Archive, a huge repository of all kinds of stuff, from ebooks to music to film and more. I’ve developed a habit of roaming both Project Gutenberg (PG from here on out) and the Internet Archive (IA) looking through their offerings. (Not everything on IA is public domain, so I tend to limit my searches there to the American Libraries section, as most of it is from 1922 and earlier.)

I regularly come across F/SF and horror books and short stories, and it occurred to me that my fellow Filers might also be interested in some of these. I also thought it would also be a good way to raise awareness of these awesome websites and the work they are doing to make obscure older books and stories available.

So that’s what I’m up to here — a regular roundup of links to public domain works of fantasy, SF, horror, and other adjacent genres that might appeal to File 770 fans.  Be advised that I won’t have yet read or listened to most of the works I mention here (my own Mt. Tsundoku is enormous, though it would be smaller if I spent more time reading and less browsing..), so I make no promises of quality.

Enough with explanations, and onto the good stuff:

A recent File 770 post about R.A. Lafferty (1914-2002) led me to check Project Gutenberg (PG) to see if they have any Lafferty tales on their site. I found six short stories:

Four issues of Ray Bradbury’s fanzine, Futuria Fantasia, are available on PG. They are the issues from Summer 1939, Fall 1939, Spring 1940, and Winter 1940.

There is also one short story by Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), A Little Journey, from Galaxy, August 1951.

Sometimes more recent books show up on PG, because the author releases them as public domain works. One of these is 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s by Max Millard. The introduction explains that this is a collection of interviews he did with famous New Yorkers in the late 1970s for a regular feature in a local free newspaper. Most are actors and others in the entertainment industries. Of interest here because it includes interviews with Isaac Asimov and Stan Lee, and possibly others with genre-related credits.

Recent Librivox audiobook releases:

The novel is set in a parallel world in which the existence of psychic powers has permitted the development of witchcraft into a science; in contrast, the physical sciences have languished, resulting in a modern culture reminiscent of our eighteenth century.

To escape from Mars, all Clayton had to do was the impossible. Break out of a crack-proof exile camp—get onto a ship that couldn’t be boarded—smash through an impenetrable wall of steel. Perhaps he could do all these things, but he discovered that Mars did evil things to men; that he wasn’t even Clayton any more. He was only—The Man Who Hated Mars. Included in this recording are four more stories by Garrett: Bramblebush, Viewpoint, Time Fuze and Heist Job on Thizar.

This is a volume of short stories of supernatural fiction by American author Emma Frances Dawson. Not all of the tales depend on ghosts, most of them are much more subtle than that. The author skillfully creates undercurrents, adding a distinct quality to these stories.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #36

Election Day 2018 : A New Hope

By Chris M. Barkley:

Tuesday, 6 November 2018, was a beautiful day.

The forecast had called for rain but in the mid-afternoon, the temperature was in the low 60’s a scattering of wispy cumulus clouds dotted the skies of southwest Ohio.

I was in a neighborhood park with my nearly three-year-old granddaughter Lily, watching her madly dash around the playground in an effort to tucker her out and be more amenable to an afternoon nap.

Lily has been the main focus of my world for the better part of the past two years. She is beautiful, ebullient, smart, assertive, curious, opinionated and fearless almost to a fault.

She also has a quality I rarely see in children her age. When she was playing and sliding on the artificial hillside, she became very concerned when an older boy and girl were tumbling together down and into a heap at the bottom. Even though they were laughing, Lily turned to me and expressed her worries by saying , “They gonna hurt Papa, hurt,” she said in a concerned tone.

Lily’s show of empathy is quite remarkable for a child as young as she is. Just knowing there are children like Lily out there, being raised by responsible, loving parents and caregivers, gives me hope that America, and the world, can survive our current travails.

My mood last week was cautiously optimistic. News outlets were reporting a record turnout for the mid-term elections and Hamilton County was no exception. I voted in person at the Board of Elections with my partner Juli more than a week and a half earlier. There was steady stream of people present to cast an early ballot.

Traffic control was necessary due to the large number of people crossing the street from the parking lot. I witnessed one telling incident; a car driven by a middle-aged white man was approached by several black women who shouted at him to encourage him to stop in and vote early. The man visibly recoiled from these loud, but friendly entreaties and looked relieved when he was permitted to proceed by the police.

My county has been seen as a growing Democratic stronghold the past few election cycles and a quarter of the people in line were holding lists of party candidates. But my hope had been tempered by the fact that southwest Ohio has been gerrymandered in favor of the Republican Party for the past eighteen years. Still, I was feeling hopeful as I filled out my ballot.

As it turned out the Republican incumbent won his house seat again, but only by five and a half points. And most of the statehouse will be red as well, but, paradoxically, our current Democratic Senator held onto his seat.

Across the nation, more than one hundred million people voted in the mid-term elections, the largest turnout in a non-presidential election year. The House of Representatives changed hands and the Senate (as of today) may end up being a 50-50 tie.

The results of this election cycle is sent a clear message from voters that our current dystopia was unacceptable and that at least a modicum of oversight was in order.

That folks, is hope. And that, coincidentally, is the message that the best imaginative literature offer as well. And when our children read, listen to, watch imaginative literature and stories, we produce better and more aware children.

Well, at least that’s what I think. Which brings me back to the young adults who are coming of age today and all of the other children who will come after them, including Lily.

The future of our country, and our world, is going to eventually rest on their shoulders.

The most apt piece of advice I can give them came in the form of a very inspirational (and viral) Facebook meme posted by (but not authored by) a fan named Michael Annis on November 1st:

To which I reply, “SO SAY WE ALL!”

Excelsior!

(Dedicated with Much Love & Gratitude to the memory of Stan Lee)

Continued from Previous Rock

By John Hertz: (reprinted in honor of RAL’s birth month from Vanamonde 485)  A.E. van Vogt called R.A. Lafferty the most original writer in s-f (Science Fiction Review 23, 1977).  There’s a tribute.

Lafferty is gone now (1914-2002).  He was a strange dreamer, a strong drink.  He published 200 short stories and 20 novels, if that’s what they were.  He won the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award (1990), and a Hugo for “Eurema’s Dam” (1972); he was nominated for three other Hugos and seven Nebulas.

His best may be Past Master (1968) and The Fall of Rome (non-fiction, 1971).  Okla Hannali (1972), an Amerind novel, is celebrated.  Small presses reprint him; you can get Does Anyone Else Have Something Further to Add? (short stories, 1974; repr. 2000) or many others.

He worried about men who knew everything, machines, manipulation; they made him mordant, and Gene Wolfe says he was the favorite of Joe Mayhew (Locus 496, 2002).

Damon Knight in the original-story anthology Orbit ran nineteen by Lafferty, and introduced the collection Lafferty in Orbit (1991), attracted, I fear, by satire, praising diamonds most for their hardness.

Even the title Past Master is a jest; the expression is “passed master”, i.e. one who has passed the test – “of the guild or public opinion”, W. Follett, Modern American Usage p. 312 (1966) – and earned recognition, but Sir Thomas More has been brought centuries into the future, because or in spite of his mastery.  At the end, re-reading just now, I cried.

Lafferty beginning Rome starts on mosaic chips in the Empire, catches himself with Dimitte nobis rhapsodia nostra, “Forgive us our rhapsodies”, and sails away.

Knight did have another side.  In the “Arcs & Secants” part of Orbit 18 (p. 249; 1976) he printed from Lafferty “the following poem about Ms. Wilhelm:

“Oh Kate has gone to writing pomes!
   Hi ho!
She writes them bright without the bromes,
She piles them up as tall as tomes!
    Hi ho!  The Gollie Woll!
She routs the temper of the times,
    Hi ho!
She cuts the strings that worked the mimes,
It doesn’t matter if they rimes.
    Hi, ho!  The Gollie Woll!

“This was a contribution to a round-robin letter circulated among a few Orbit writers.  Mr. Lafferty later withdrew from it, alleging unparliamentary remarks and stuffiness.”  R.I.P.

A Visit to the Hallmark Museum

By Airboy: Everything is somewhere.  Hallmark’s HQ is in Kansas City.  They have a free museum which includes samples of things from their history.

My wife and I went to the Hallmark Museum at the corporate campus in Kansas City late last month while I was there for a conference.

Norman Rockwell, Charles Schultz and Winston Churchill all designed cards for them.

In addition to cards, Hallmark does Christmas ornaments, pop-up books, and movies.  Hallmark Theater did quality dramas going back to the black and white era of network television.  Today they have the Hallmark Channel and are probably best known for their Christmas movies and other upbeat cozy movies.

Weirdly, the Wall Street Journal did an article a few years back that pointed out filmmakers who do Christmas movies also do monster and slasher movies.  If you think about it, both types of movies follow a set formula, are low-budget, and must be shot on tight schedules.

Catmosphere: Cat Café Has an SF Theme

By Hampus Eckerman: Feeling a bit depressed about my continuing illness, I thought I would choose to cheer myself up by visiting Sydney’s cat café. As it was but 15-minute walk from my hotel, it was at just my limit for walking before growing too tired.

Fittingly enough, Sydney’s cat café has a Science Fiction theme. It is called Catmosphere and its cats are named things such as Tardis, Neil Pawstrong and Obi-Wan Catobi. Apart from just sitting on the floor and petting a cat, they also have the possibility to do cat Yoga or watch a movie together with the cats.

I chose the kitten experience for myself. I was lucky to be alone for 30 minutes with a group of very excited kittens who played hide-and-seek around my cardigan and selected my backpack as the Best. Toy. Ever.

All kittens, just as the older cats, are rescue kittens. The money for the visit goes to feeding them, giving them a place to live and adjust to humans and hopefully get adopted. I feel both lucky and sad that I live in another country, otherwise I surely would have adopted them all.

The cat café does not serve food as yet, so you are limited to coffee, tea and other beverages.

Some person involved must be artistically inclined, because they sell adorable pins created in the likeness of the cats.

But here’s the main surprise. Turns out that a very special cat well-known to us filers has been involved. That’s right – Timothy! On the website is shown Timothy in an astonishingly good disguise. He must be sneaking off to do charity work when no one notices him. Everything to not destroy his image. Under his purple fur beats a heart of gold! So know you know where he goes when he “just want to take a stroll along the neighborhood,” Camestros!

Catmosphere can be found just 10 minutes walk from Central Station. Its website can be found here: Catmosphere.

Classics of SF at Loscon 45

By John Hertz:  We’ll take up three Classics of Science Fiction at Loscon XLV, one discussion each.  Come to as many as you like.  You’ll be welcome to join in.

We’re still with “A classic is a work that survives its own time.  After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.”  If you have a better definition, bring it.

Each of our three is famous in a different way.  Each may be more interesting now than when first published.  Have you read them?  Have you re-read them?

Arthur C. Clarke, Prelude to Space (1951)

Halfway between the end of World War II and the rise of Sputnik – I warned you about these puns – is this fine instance of giving the touch of reality to what had never yet been, as SF hopes to achieve.  Today, knowing many things happened otherwise, we can watch the author at work.

Hal Clement, Iceworld (1953)

Interstellar traders return to a world where they’ve been operating with great difficulty.  Its inhuman cold hinders everything.  It seems to have intelligent life, but how could that be?  The world is so cold it freezes zinc – yes, Earth: the protagonists’ world is hundreds of degrees hotter.

Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959)

An extraordinary novel, terrifyingly grim, prodigiously imaginative, richly comic – well, that’s true.  Also we’re not long on stories that well paint any mainstream religion.  Here the Catholic Church is at center stage, the light relentless, but not ruthless, on Catholics and everyone else.