(1) A TERRAN ECLIPSE. Click to see the Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 11
This snapshot from deep space captures planet Earth on March 9. The shadow of its large moon is falling on the planet’s sunlit hemisphere. Tracking toward the east (left to right) across the ocean-covered world the moon shadow moved quickly in the direction of the planet’s rotation. Of course, denizens of Earth located close to the shadow track centerline saw this lunar shadow transit as a brief, total eclipse of the Sun. From a spacebased perspective between Earth and Sun, the view of this shadow transit was provided by the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC).
(2) GROKKING THE FULLNESS. In “Fandom Needs to Change to Insure Its Future Survival”, Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson devotes 3,500 words to thinking outside his box on the subject of Worldcons. (The newer ideas are in the last half of the piece.)
Fandom is growing. It’s growing tremendously. Unfortunately, the major percentage of that growth is taking place under the auspices of institutions and organizations that are not themselves fannish (or are fannish so long as being so is in service to making a profit).
As fans, we like to say that we’re not in “competition” with events such as SDCC or Dragoncon. Not only do we dismiss Anime conventions and multi-media cons as doing something that we’re not doing, we discount the experience that attendees and staff gain from these events. In our minds there is a difference between the conventions that are connected to fan history and largely follow fannish traditions (you buy a membership, not a ticket; we don’t pay guest to appear; we’re focused on the literature; those aren’t real conventions) and those that aren’t. We go to great pains to try and distinguish the bona fides of small ‘f’ fans and large ‘F’ fans.
But here’s the problem: the non-traditional conventions are offering the vast majority of “fannish experiences” these days. Traditional conventions have such a small footprint in national awareness that so far as most potential fans are concerned, non-traditional events ARE fandom.
In short, it is non-traditional events that are educating the public about what fandom is and what it’s all about. Not traditional fandom.
(3) INCOMING. Neil Clarke analyzed the “2015 Clarkesworld Submissions Stats”, complete with beautiful graphs.
In 2015, we received submissions from 109 different countries. In the above chart, the blue bar represents the percentage of total submissions for that country. The green bar indicates the percentage of all acceptances. (Reminder: The Chinese translations are handled by a separate process and not included in these numbers.)
Note: If you feel inclined to proclaim that this data indicates that I have a bias towards international submissions, perhaps you should read this editorial. That said, it pleases me that Clarkesworld has a more global representation of science fiction. There’s a lot of great work written beyond our shores.
(4) AND A DEAFENING REPORT. James H. Burns had a blinding insight.
Hanging out at Joe Koch’s comics warehouse the other day, it suddenly occured to me, that if Barry West was Catholic, he would have no problem with Lent.
(Or, if he were Jewish, no problem with Yom Kippur.)
Because the Flash is the FASTEST man alive.
(5) SILENT SPRING AHEAD. Matt Novak has a clever question – “What Time Is The End of The Daylight?”
What time is the end of the daylight? The sun is expected to die in roughly 5 billion years. But humans—provided we survive any number of ecological, nuclear, or alien-based disasters—are only expected to last about another 1 billion years on Earth.
So technically the “daylight” will be over for humanity in 1 billion years, which is again, predicated upon the absurd assumption that we make it that long anyway.
(6) YA WORLDBUILDING. Alwyn Hamilton picks “The Top 10 invented worlds in teen books” for The Guardian.
8) Crown & Court Series by Sherwood Smith
I have recently been led to understand that the world in Sherwood Smith’s brilliant duology is supposed to be ours, set far in the future on a distant planet, where the magic is alien science. This would certainly explain why they share many touchstones with our world, while also having two moons for the characters to gaze up at and trees willing to exact revenge. But the true magic in these books for me is in the complexities of the ballroom. Smith has created a complete court to rival Versailles in intrigue, with fan language, complicated symbolism woven covertly into jewelry, long lineage that gives you the feeling every character does have a twisting family tree, and old traditions so tangible you’re sure they must have been in fashion once in our world too.
(7) CHICKENS, NOT POTATOES. This week’s The Simpsons has a Bradbury-esque title: “The Marge-ian Chronicles.”
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- March 12, 1971 — The Andromeda Strain opens in theaters.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY.
- Born March 12, 1923 – Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra.
(10) UNCORK NO ALIEN BEFORE ITS TIME. Io9 will hook you up: “Orson Welles Hosted a NASA Documentary About Aliens in the ’70s and It Is Amazing”
It is damn near impossible to explain the joy that comes from watching Who’s Out There, a documentary on aliens made by NASA in 1975 starring real scientists, regular people, and then Orson Welles, pontificating into the camera. I cannot emphasize this enough: Spend half an hour watching this.
(11) FEARSOME. “11 Books That Scared The Master of Horror, Stephen King, And Will Terrify You, Too” from Bustle.com.
King obviously has a way with words, and his Twitter is no exception. Full of hilarious thoughts and weekly answers to reader questions, it’s always entertaining. He alternates between adorable tweets featuring his dog, Molly (aka The Thing of Evil), and recommending the books he’s reading. Being the master of horror that he is, I consider him an authority on recommendations in that genre. You could make an entire reading list based on Stephen King recommendations, and be set for a long time.
Here are 11 books that scared the unshakable Stephen King, and so are pretty much guaranteed to keep you up at night and/or give you nightmares. But hey, that’s the fun part!
(12) RAGE SHORTAGE. Lela E. Buis dropped a post about J.K. Rowling into the well of the internet but never heard it splash — “No comments on cultural appropriation?”
Since I’ve not gotten any comments on this question at all, I’m going to assume either 1) it’s Saturday and everyone is out enjoying the spring weather or 2) there’s not much interest in what J. K. Rowling publishes on her Website.
Besides this, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of concern about cultural appropriation except as a tool to attack people who are perceived as targets in some way. I expect Native Americans are fairly used to being abused, so another semi-fictional essay on skinwalkers isn’t going to affect their social outlook one way or the other.
(13) THE LONG VIEW. “11 Amazing Discoveries By the Mars Orbiter” at Mashable.
4. Fresh craters
The MRO has also treated scientists to views of relatively fresh craters on Mars.
One crater — which appeared in photos in 2010 — was not in images taken in 2008, meaning that whatever impact created the crater happened in between those years.
(14) THE ZERO LIFE. “Fukushima’s ground zero: No place for man or robot” from Reuters.
The robots sent in to find highly radioactive fuel at Fukushima’s nuclear reactors have “died”; a subterranean “ice wall” around the crippled plant meant to stop groundwater from becoming contaminated has yet to be finished. And authorities still don’t know how to dispose of highly radioactive water stored in an ever mounting number of tanks around the site.
(15) BATMAN SINGS. In the episode of The Hollywood Palace originally aired October 8, 1966 Adam West sings “The Orange Colored Sky” and “The Summer Wind.”
(16) IT’S GOT CHARACTER. “Ed Wood’s ‘Plan 9’ Studio To Be Preserved” says LA Weekly.
A storied Hollywood building once used by late pulp film director Ed Wood will be preserved by its new owners, said the sellers’ agent, Kay Sasatomi of Silver Commercial Inc.
That’s good news for fans of the low-budget auteur and for fans of the low-budget building.
The 13,650-square-foot Ed Wood structure on a seedy stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood is said to have also been used as rehearsal space by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Guns N’ Roses.
The director housed his Quality Studios at the address, and classics including Plan 9 From Outer Space and Glen or Glenda were filmed there, according to Silver Commercial.
The building features a ground-floor dive bar, Gold Diggers, that plays home to Thai bikini dancers.
The residential hotel next door is a flophouse made famous when a suspect in the Beverly Hills murder of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen committed suicide as police descended upon the block.
There’s a lot of character here.
(17) STICKING IN HIS TWO CENTS WORTH. Spider-Man appears in the last seconds of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War – Trailer 2.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Andrew Porter, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]