Here are 13 developments of interest to fans.
(1) “Steampunk weapons useless against fists” reads the Daily Mash headline:
Bravado and goggles are a dangerous combination
While attending the Whitby Goth Weekend, steampunk lifestyle person Julian Cook received a beating in a pub despite being armed with a laser blunderbuss and a Gatling-gun duelling pistol.
This is a joke, no matter how much people might like it to be true…
(2) Admirers of manual typewriters and the writers who used them are in for a treat. The Typewriter Movie gallery contains photos of the machines used by Hemingway, Updike, George Bernard Shaw and Jack London. Better yet, the movie, largely funded through Kickstarter, is now in release and got a positive review in the LA Times:
Such prize-winning authors as Robert Caro and David McCullough, various collectors, journalists (including former L.A. Times reporter Alex Pham) and “typosphere” bloggers, plus an eclectic array of active typewriter repairmen all warmly celebrate their predilection for their vintage Royals, Underwoods and Smith-Coronas. Several “poets on demand,” a few teen enthusiasts and even a musician who uses the 19th-century invention as a percussion instrument also weigh in.
Although the movie is mostly dominated by these talking heads, and punctuated by only bits of archival clips and other fleeting visuals, [director] Lockett keeps things moving quickly and enjoyably.
(3) With the aid of a Saskatchewan synchrotron a Canadian paleontologist hopes to learn the color of a hadrosaur’s hide. (Can you say that three times fast? I knew you could.)
Hadrosaurs are duck-billed dinosaurs that lived 100 million to 65 million years ago.
If the search works, this would be the first time anyone has found color in dinosaur skin, Philip Currie, a University of Alberta paleontologist who is working on the project, tellsPopular Science. During the last few years, paleontologists have found melanosomes, the organelles in living cells that are responsible for certain colors, in dinosaur feather fossils. But colors haven’t been found in skin fossils.
“It’s not that these older specimens don’t have melanosomes,” Currie says. “Nobody’s really looked for them.”
(4) You’ll find an excerpt from Steven Paul Leiva’s collection of Bradbury essays at Neworld Review.
Leiva writes in “Ray Bradbury: Masterheart of Mars” —
The mission of Curiosity to Mars, and all the other past Mars missions, might very well not have happened without Ray Bradbury. It would probably be difficult to find a space scientist, especially one concentrating on Mars, who was not inspired by Ray’s The Martian Chronicles, despite the fact that the novel contains not one concrete factual detail on the difficulties of getting to, landing, and living on Mars.
Count me among Ray Bradbury’s ardent admirers, yet I find Leiva’s suggestion that the current exploration of Mars literally owes its existence to Bradbury’s stories a bit overblown. Visionaries like Burroughs, Wells and Welles had already done enough to rouse curiosity about the Red Planet – were, in fact, responsible for Bradbury’s own interest in the setting.
(5) But if they’re really sending haikus to Mars make sure there’s an entry written by Bradbury.
Here’s how to become famous.
Send your work to Mars!
NASA is raising awareness for its upcoming launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft with its Going to Mars project. The MAVEN spacecraft is scheduled for launch this November, to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere; the craft will examine why Mars lost its atmosphere, and how that catastrophe affected the history of water there.
But to liven things up, the mission managers have invited the public to submit literary messages that could be tucked into a DVD that will go with the craft. Three lucky poets will get the chance to include their haiku, specifically written for the occasion — and everybody who submits something will have their name included on the DVD.
(6)The Week has distilled all the Star Wars movie rumors into one article, and confirms that John Williams is aboard:
5. John Williams will probably be writing the score
It’s hard for many fans to imagine a Star Wars film without John Williams’ bombastic score — particularly the immortal title theme, which helped the first Star Wars film pop off the screen from the moment it began. Fortunately, fans probably won’t have to imagine a Williams-less Star Wars; at an April 29 promotional appearance for Star Trek Into Darkness in Berlin, J.J. Abrams revealed that Williams is likely to return. “For Star Wars, it’s very early days — but I believe that, going forward, John Williams will be doing that film, because he was there long before I was,” said Abrams.
(7) Famous Monsters of Filmland promises there are “five never before seen photos from the set of Return of the Jedi”. After 30 years I’m unlikely to remember if I’ve seen them before, however, Craig Miller checks in here every so often and I know he’ll set us straight if this is a bogus claim.
(8) And my third of three Star Wars items…
The largest Native American tribe in the U.S . plans to dub Star Wars in Navajo as means of preserving its traditional language.
Fluent Navajo speakers have been invited for a casting call in Window Rock in northern Arizona on Friday and Saturday to dub the roles of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and others, tribal officials said.
Manuelito Wheeler, the director of the Navajo Nation Museum, said he first came up with the idea 13 years ago as a way to preserve the consonant-rich Navajo language, believed to be spoken by about 170,000 people, according to government figures.
(9) Researchers believe they have identified some words that are 15,000 years old. Read the Washington Post article to see how they did it.
A team of researchers has come up with a list of two dozen “ultraconserved words” that have survived 150 centuries. It includes some predictable entries: “mother,” “not,” “what,” “to hear” and “man.” It also contains surprises: “to flow,” “ashes” and “worm.”
The existence of the long-lived words suggests there was a “proto-Eurasiatic” language that was the common ancestor to about 700 contemporary languages that are the native tongues of more than half the world’s people.
This reminds me of one of Owen Barfield’s ideas about the original language in Poetic Diction.
(10) Sue Lange at Book View Cafe pointed to Strange Horizons’ statistical profile of literary coverage by gender for 2012 which concluded:
As in previous years, in the majority of the SF review venues surveyed, disproportionately few books by women were reviewed, and disproportionately few reviews by women were published
Perhaps the larger question and the one the Strange Horizons post seemed to be asking is why aren’t the women being reviewed? Which actually translates to: why isn’t women’s writing being taken seriously? I’ll let the academics, the people that study science fiction, answer that. They’re the ones falling down on the job.
(12) Elinor Busby won the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to her at Corflu XXX in Portland.
(13) James H. Burns wonders if the Philip K. Dick stamp will have any (ahem) special properties:
Once it’s finally released:
If one goes beyond its self-stick transluscency:
For those who dare to lick the inverse:
Will it be coated with a hallucinogenic?
Surely it ought to be the dopest stamp in history!
[Thanks go out to James Hay, Gerry Williams, John King Tarpinian, Janice Gelb and David Klaus for these links.]