(1) LEARNING SPACE. Steve Davidson has a fine interview with Jim C. Hines about the Launch Pad Academy Workshop.
Steve Davidson for Amazing Stories Magazine: How did you hear about the Launch Pad Workshop?
Jim C. Hines: I heard about it years ago online — I think it might have been the Speculations writing boards, back when it was still active. At the time, I didn’t feel qualified to apply, in part because I was only writing fantasy.
But I kept an eye on how it was going from year to year, as well as the comments and reports from other attendees.
ASM: Was it a program you always wanted to participate in or was your interest piqued when you learned about it?
JCH: I’ve been interested in attending ever since I heard about the program, but there was the combination of needing to be able to leave for a week without causing difficulties with work or at home, and having a project where I thought the knowledge would be useful. This year, I’ve started working on my first SF trilogy, and I’d quit my day job last fall, so the timing was perfect.
ASM: How would you describe your familiarity with astronomy, cosmology, etc., prior to attending?
JCH: I think I had some basic foundational knowledge, but most of it wasn’t anything I’d studied in depth. I knew enough to answer most of my kids’ basic questions about space, which astronomical bodies orbit one another, how the seasons work, and so on. And I’d read Douglas Adams, so I knew space was big. Really big.
(2) WOMEN IN SF, 1961. At Galactic Journey, in “[June 28, 1961] The Second Sex in SFF, Part IV”, The Traveler issues an invitation to increase our history of the genre:
Come meet six of these lady authors, four of whom are quite new, and two who are veterans in this, Part IV, of The Second Sex in SFF.
The six are Kit Reed, Jane Dixon Rice, Jane Roberts (the only woman invited for the first science-fiction writers conference in Milford, PA – I didn’t know that), Joanna Russ, Evelyn Smith, and Margaret St. Clair.
(3) YOUR HOUSE IN NORTH AMERICA. At Tor.com, Emily Asher-Perrin has scouted Pottermore for the latest additions: “Get Sorted Into Ilvermorny, the American Hogwarts!”
A ton of new information on the North American magic school, Ilvermorny, was just dropped onto Pottermore. But that’s not all! You can now get Sorted into the various Houses (if you have a Pottermore account, so sign on up).
As a reminder, the four Ilvermorny Houses are Horned Serpent, Wampus, Pukwudgie, and Thunderbird! Here is where you go for the Sorting, provided you have a Pottermore account. (I got Horned Serpent, which seems to be the brainy house? Not what I expected.) These Houses don’t break down quite the same way the Hogwarts ones do; instead, they are associated as follows….
(4) HOLD THAT TIGER. Lisa Goldstein reviews another Hugo nominee at inferior4 + 1 – “Short Story: ‘Seven Kill Tiger’”.
This review contains spoilers.
“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao is a disturbing story, but maybe not for the reasons the author thinks. We start with a deeply unpleasant main character, Zhang Zedong, a company man sent from China to Zambia who needs to improve his production numbers and who is prone to thinking things like “Africa would be a glorious place were it not for the Africans.” “What he needed was more Han people,” he thinks, and the solution he comes up with is to wipe out the native population of Africa using genetic warfare.
(5) BEST FANCAST. Joe Sherry is “Listening to the Hugos: Fancast” for Nerds of a Feather.
Admission of Bias Time: The longer the podcast, the less interested I am in listening to it. 30 minutes is my sweet spot, I’m comfortable up to an hour, and the farther a podcast goes past an hour the less interested I become, even when the topic and conversation is interesting. Most of the episodes of 8-4 Play run over 90 minutes, with a not insignificant number running over 120 minutes.
8-4 Play did not include links to recommended episodes, so I pulled one from 2015 that was focusing on some video games I was interested in (Zelda and Dragon Quest). 30 minutes later, I was done. 8-4 Play is a video game focused podcast, and it took way too long for the hosts to actually start talking about the games. The opening seemed more focused on refreshing each other what they’ve been up to than moving on to the games. Now, first main section on one guy’s Retro Collection was okay (and I love me some old school games) and they were only just moving into Fallout 4 by the time I gave up on the podcast, so maybe there is solid game talk and a reason why I should consider listening to 8-4 Play in the future, but this particular episode is more than two hours long and that’s really tough for me to overcome, and given that for this particular episode the hosts took waaaaaay too long getting to the meat, I won’t be coming back to it. Perhaps I selected the wrong episode and perhaps I should have skipped forward to the 38 minute mark, but perhaps this podcast is simply not for me. Pass.
(6) OBAMA’S TAKE ON STAR WARS. In the series “Conversations With Tyler,” Tyler Cowen interviews Cass Sunstein about his Star Wars book. The Star Wars geekery begins at about 18:00 and continues to about 40:00, and all of the audience questions are about Star Wars. (There’s also a full text transcript available.) Many examples of the public policy ramifications of Star Wars are discussed, and at one point Sunstein, who served in the Obama administration as chief regulator of the Office of Management and Budget, reveals that he asked President Obama about which Star Wars movie was his favorite and argued with his boss that The Empire Strikes Back was better than A New Hope.
(7) WEDDING. Congratulations to Becky Thomson and Tom Veal, who married on June 25 in Ft. Collins, Colorado.
(8) KYRA IS BACK. Mini-reviews from Kyra today:
Airplane read #1: In the Time of Dragon Moon, by Janet Lee Carey (here)
Airplane read #2: The Wrath & The Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh (here)
Airplane read #3: Kingfisher, by Patricia McKillip (here)
Airplane Read #4: I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (here)
Airplane Read #5: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, by Emily Horner (not SFF) (here)
Airplane Read #6 (last one!): Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, by Elizabeth Moon (here)
(9) ENTERPRISE DUE TO LEAVE DRYDOCK. NPR has a progress report: “Smithsonian Sets Phasers To Restore On Original Starship Enterprise”.
Sorry to disappoint Trekkies who still believe, but the actual USS Enterprise did not really take up much space.
That famous starship of Mr. Spock and Capt. James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series — which turns 50 this year — was a model. Quite a large one, to be fair: 11 feet long and about 200 lbs., made out of blow-molded plastic and wood. But not life-sized.
And for more than a decade, it hung in the gift shop of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C.
“From a conservator’s standpoint, that is probably one of the worst places to put an artifact,” says Malcolm Collum, the chief conservator of the National Air and Space Museum….
On Tues., June 28, the USS Enterprise will reach its final frontier beside other famous and historical aircraft in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- June 28, 1926 – Mel Brooks. He’d like to make Spaceballs 2.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
- June 28, 1979 — Felicia Day
(12) THE ACTOR IS IN. At the invitation of Samantha Bee (Full Frontal), “David Tennant Unleashes His Inner Time Lord On Donald Trump”
The “Full Frontal“ host called on Scottish actor David Tennant to read a series of anti-Trump tweets that his fellow countrymen posted after the real estate magnate erroneously said they were “going wild“ for Brexit.
In contrast to the United Kingdom as a whole, the majority of Scots actually voted to remain inside the European Union.
By proxy, “Jessica Jones“ star Tennant called Trump a “wiggy slice,” “weapons-grade plum” and “ludicrous tangerine ball bag” in the segment that aired Monday.
(13) HOWARD DAYS. Keith West delivers a “Report on Howard Days 2016” at Adventures Fantastic.
Howard Days has grown, something that was emphasized since this year marked the 30th anniversary of the first Howard Days. While things officially don’t start until Friday, people are showing up on Wednesday evenings. Space is becoming a consideration, with events this year moved from the library to the high school auditorium or the Senior Center across the street from the library. There were a number of new attendees, which is always a healthy thing for an event, and I’m not referring the 10,000 or so mosquitoes that showed up.There were multiple anniversaries, such as the first Frazetta cover on a Lancer paperback and both the publication and film version of Novalyne Price Ellis’s memoir, One Who Walked Alone (filmed as The Whole Wide World).
There have been some excellent reports on the 2016 Howard Days, such as this one by Lee Breakiron and this one by David Piske. Also, Ben Friberg has uploaded Mark Finn’s interview with guest Michael Scott Myers and the boxing panel to YouTube. I expect there will be more videos coming. I’ll not repeat what they’ve said, especially since I don’t trust my memory on some of the details and didn’t make some of the panels that they did. Rather I’ll focus on some personal highlights…..
(14) ENCELADUS. Scientific American discusses why “Excitement Builds for the Possibility of Life on Enceladus”.
Saturn’s frozen moon Enceladus is a tantalizing world—many scientists are increasingly convinced it may be the best place in our solar system to search for life. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, currently orbiting Saturn, has made intriguing observations of icy jets spewing from a suspected underground liquid ocean on the mysterious world that might be hospitable to alien life.
Cassini’s tour is due to wind down in 2017, and scientists badly want to send a dedicated mission to Enceladus to look for signs of life. In fact, some have already started seriously thinking about exactly how they might do this—including planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, who is the imaging team leader for Cassini. Earlier this month, she gathered a group of researchers including oceanographers, organic chemists and astrobiologists at the University of California, Berkeley, to strategize how to search for extraterrestrials on Enceladus—which, according to Porco, “is a total bitch of a problem to solve.”
Although Enceladus is small in size and shrouded in a thick shell of ice, it appears to be a habitable world: It has a source of energy from friction created by its orbit around Saturn, organic compounds that are building blocks for life and a liquid water ocean underneath all that ice. But just because Enceladus may be hospitable to life does not mean life exists there; it will take much more work to definitively prove it.
(15) TEACHING WITH COMICS. San Diego Comic-Con International has teamed up with the San Diego Public Library to host a free four-day “Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians” from July 20-23.
This first-of-its-kind educational conference will take place during Comic-Con, and will explore the role comics play in promoting education and literacy for all ages.
Library professionals and educators are invited to this free event to learn creative and exciting ways to incorporate comics and graphic novels into their work. Through presentations and panel discussions, the conference aims to engage the community, promote comics as a powerful tool for learning, and celebrate the medium as an important literary art form. The Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians is also an opportunity for attendees to connect and dialogue with publishers and industry professionals.
The Conference will be located in the Shiley Special Events Suite on the ninth floor of the San Diego Central Library. Each day of the Conference will have different themes….
The conference is free to attend, but space is limited and registration is required for each day. Comic-Con badge-holders with valid single same-day or four-day badges are welcome to attend and are not required to register. Further details about the Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians will be provided for registrants in the coming weeks.
(16) THE TWINKIE OFFENSE. “The World’s Oldest Twinkie” is has spent 40 years on display at a Maine school.
Bennatti had students buy a package of Twinkies from a nearby store during a 1976 lesson on food additives and shelf life. He placed the Twinkie on the blackboard for the class to observe, and there it remained until Bennatti retired in 2004 and passed custody of the aging snack cake to Rosemeier, who placed it in a case in her office.
(17) HOYT SERIES. Jeb Kinnison has kind words for “Sarah Hoyt’s Through Fire – Darkship Book 4”.
Through Fire, Book 4 in Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship series, came out last month and I bought it immediately, but despite its can’t-put-it-down action, I had to put it down until this week.
It’s a fine entry in the series, plunging us into action on the Seacity Liberté, which unlike the last book in the series I read, A Few Good Men (review here) is dominated by French cultural influences, with the rebellion set in motion in the first scene modeled on the French Revolution and its Terror.
(18) LMB ON SELF-PUBLISHING. At Eight Ladies Writing,“Lois McMaster Bujold Answers Three Questions about Self-Publishing”, now that she’s self-pubbing increasingly large parts of her back-catalog, and her novellas.
LMB: I first had some e-publishing experiences starting in the early 00s with the e-books company Fictionwise (later to be bought out and terminated by B&N.) This was not self-pubbing; they just took my manuscript files, or in some cases made OCR files themselves of my older paper books, did everything else themselves, and sent me checks. (These were the selection of my books whose old contracts predated e-books, hence those rights were still mine.) Their sales were all through their own website. But for one very interesting statement, my Fictionwise backlist e-titles were for sale on or via Amazon, for which the maybe $500-to-$1000-a-quarter they’d been jointly clearing shot up seven-fold, which riveted my attention. But then that went away as mysteriously as it had arrived, for corporate reasons I never discovered….
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Lisa Goldstein, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]