(1) NOW YOU KNOW. Ron Howard says the movie will be called Solo: A Star Wars Story.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) October 17, 2017
(2) ATOMIC AGE LORE. Tony Rothman kicks off his American Scientist article “The Forgotten Mystery of Inertia” with – of all things – a Worldcon anecdote.
In days of yore, at a World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, a Harvard graduate student polished his reputation as a brilliant mad scientist by roaming the convention halls, brandishing what at first glance appeared to be a rather peculiar steel bowling ball. Portholes perforated its surface, providing a glimpse of electronic hardware inside; tangled wires sprouted from the same holes, and a gear train surrounded the mysterious object’s equator.
“What’s that?” I asked him.
“It’s the gyro platform for an intercontinental ballistic missile,” he replied. “If you put it on a Titan rocket, it will fly to Kiev.”
“How do you know?”
“It’s an inertial guidance system, stupid. It knows where Kiev is.”
“I know how inertial guidance systems work, but how do you know it knows where Kiev is?”
“Oh, that. It was stamped on the box.”
This sorcerer’s apprentice had discovered that for $900 you could buy a surplus intercontinental ballistic missile, 10 years before the electronics were declassified. His Titan was delivered on two railway cars, “Kiev Titan Missile” stamped on the crates. He junked the body, donated the engines to an art museum, and saved the electronics for his research. A tall tale? Sounds like one, but the gyro platform was there for all to see.
That is the question. At what, exactly, is the gyroscope pointed? According to the law of inertia, objects tend to continue doing what they’ve been doing: If at rest, they remain at rest; if moving, they continue moving at the same speed in the same direction. The gyroscope also bends to inertia’s will, but in confounding ways. Touch it, and the gyro opposes you by veering in unexpected directions. If it is spinning extremely rapidly, the gyroscope remains rigidly locked in the direction it has been set, its sights fixed on…Kiev—hence the term inertial guidance systems. If a rocket veers off the gyro’s fixed course, a sensor detects the error, and a servomechanism realigns the missile with the gyroscope axis.
Was that Russell Seitz? When I first got into fandom that was the story going around about him, of which the following is one version:
In the late 70’s, when most of our nuclear arsenal was converted from liquid to solid fuel, the U.S. Government auctioned off a number of obsolete missile silos and their contents. Mostly the silos got bought by local farmers who converted them for grain storage. I only know what happened to one of the missiles. It was offered at sealed bid auction and a friend of mine, Russell Seitz, bought it. When you bid on something like this, you have to send in a check for 10% of your bid as a deposit. He looked at his bank account, and figured he could spare about $300 that month, so that’s what he sent. When he discovered that he’d won the bid, he had to scrounge up the rest. Now the buyer must pick up the goods himself, but he can request that his purchase be delivered, at government expense, to the nearest military base. Being an undergraduate at M.I.T. at the time, he had the missile shipped to Hanscom Airforce Base, about 12 miles away. He then arranged for a truck, and donated the missile to a local modern art museum (I forget which one). Tax laws were a little different in those days, and if you donated something to an art museum, you could deduct not the just the purchase price, but the original value of the object, which was considerable. Income averaging allowed him to spread the “loss” out over a number of years so that he didn’t have to pay taxes for a long time! He was legendary at M.I.T. for quite a while, and acquired the nickname “Missile” Seitz.
(3) ED KRAMER BACK IN THE NEWS. Ed Kramer, Dragon Con founder and convicted sex offender, has sued the producers of The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway, claiming they owe him for his work in creating and developing the program. The Huffington Post has the story: “Sex Offender Claims Responsibility For Natalee Holloway TV Series”.
Just when it seemed the Natalee Holloway case couldn’t get more peculiar, HuffPost has uncovered another twist in the teenager’s 2005 disappearance: A registered sex offender is claiming responsibility for a recent television series about the mystery.
Edward Kramer is suing producers of “The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway,” a TV series that began in August on the Oxygen Network, alleging he is “co-owner, developer and writer,” according to his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in California. Kramer wants unspecified “just compensation” for his work, plus punitive damages.
Kramer’s personal website claims:
Edward E. Kramer is the creator and developer of the six-part series, The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway for Brian Graden Media (BGM) and NBC Universal’s newly re-branded Oxygen Crime Network. This landmark series, featuring Dave Holloway and Private Investigators T. J. Ward, Kathy Wainscott, Trace Sargent and Eric Bryant, Detective Frank Karic and Forensic Scientist Jason Kolowski, which finally puts to rest the 2005 murder of Natalee Holloway.
The defendants in the lawsuit, Brian Graden Media and Lipstick Inc., filed an answer to the suit, denying they owe anything to Kramer.
He wasn’t “named as a writer, screenwriter, or co-creator,” they said, and was working as an “employee or agent of T.J. Ward,” a private investigator who appeared on the series with Holloway’s father, Dave Holloway.
Read a copy of the original lawsuit filing and the defendants’ answer here.
(4) MARVEL EXEC’S COMICS COLLECTION LOOTED. Marvel’s Joe Quesada is looking for help to recover or reacquire comics and other art stolen from his collection. He gives the background in a long public post on Facebook, leading up to recent discoveries of his artwork for sale, and the arrest of the culprit.
In early June I was contacted by a longtime friend, he was looking at some comic art auctions and was curious as to why I was auctioning a piece that he knew was part of my personal collection and something I would never, ever sell. He sent me a link where I discovered 24 pieces in total from my private collection up for auction including pieces I did long before I was a working professional. While at the moment I’m not at liberty to give the details, investigating this further it turns out that the artwork that was up for auction was all originally purchased from a Mr. Francesco Bove.
Further investigation uncovered that, since the time he was thrown out of my house, at least 185 more pieces of my stolen art were sold at auction and all of it originally purchased directly from Mr. Bove. That’s 185 pieces, sold and gone! How much more was sold privately is unknown at the moment but I’m not feeling optimistic.
So why is this news breaking now? As the case was being investigated the Detective in charge discovered Mr. Bove had left the country and had gone to Italy. Upon his return he was arrested which brings us to right now. From what I know so far it’s believed that Mr. Bove has sold portions of my art to comic shops, dealers and collectors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, as well as parts of Long Island and New Jersey. It could be wider spread than that but I’m not at liberty to say.
And here’s the thing that keeps me up at night. These were pieces that I was never intending to sell, art that had deep personal meaning to every member of my family. There was an enormous collection of Archie art from various artists like Stan Goldberg, Harry Lucey, Sam Schwartz but the majority of it by Dan DeCarlo. There were also Laugh Comics pages by Bill Woggon, The Adventures Of Pipsqueak by Walt Lardner as well as Pat The Brat and Shrimpy by Joe Harold and a huge assortment of other artists from the 50s and 60s to today. I lost pages of my own professional art as well as art I purchased from dear and talented friends. But what stings the most is that Mr. Bove took artwork that I had discovered many years ago stored in my father’s home after he had passed away. Drawings and paintings I did in elementary school, high school and college. Practice sample pages I had done before ever seriously thinking I could be in comics. This was art I was leaving behind for my daughter just as my father had left it for me. It kills me to think that I’ll never get this stuff back now that it’s been scattered to the four winds perhaps bought and sold more times than I care to imagine… or possibly even destroyed. So yes, heartbreak after heartbreak. Not only was the thief someone who I trusted, allowed into my home and helped during rough times, but the items he stole in order to keep himself afloat once he realized he irreversibly burned his bridge with me were the ones most irreplaceable and of personal importance.
Now here’s the part where I could use your help.
While I’m hopeful that now in custody Mr. Bove may lead the Detectives to the people and locations where he sold the art, perhaps some of you reading this might be able to point the Sparta New Jersey Police Department in the right direction. If you’ve purchased any art from Mr. Francesco Bove and have it in your possession or know someone who does please contact
Det. Jeffrey McCarrick at (973) 726-4072
You can also reach out to me here on FB as well. Please know that I understand completely that this was sold under false pretenses and I fault no one for not knowing that. All I want is to retrieve as much of the art as I possibly can especially the attached Dan DeCarlo cover for Archie #322 which means the world to me and my family. Unfortunately it has been sold at least twice over that I’m aware of but if you know where I can find it I will gladly purchase it back.
(5) BOOTS ON THE GROUND. The Planetary Society reports on the first meeting of the newly reconstituted National Space Council in “We choose to go to the Moon and do the other things”.
Returning to the Moon
The biggest news to come out of today’s meeting was [Vice President] Pence’s authoritative declaration that Americans will return to the lunar surface.
“We will return American astronauts to the Moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” Pence said.
This wasn’t unexpected, considering prior statements by Pence, other administration officials, and the backgrounds of space council executive secretary Scott Pace, and NASA administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine.
Very few details were given on how a return to the lunar surface would work, or when it would occur. Pence did not say whether the Americans on the surface would be government or commercially-employed astronauts. And the agency’s exploration goals already include a return to lunar space via the Deep Space Gateway, a small space station in lunar orbit, which would provide a test-bed for closed-loop life support, deep space maneuvering, and other technologies necessary for travel to Mars.
In a statement, NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said the agency has “highlighted a number of initiatives underway in this important area (cislunar space), including a study of an orbital gateway or outpost that could support a sustained cadence of robotic and human missions.” That implies the Deep Space Gateway is still on the table, and could theoretically fit within the broad plans outlined by Pence.
The fate of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule have been a perennial point of discussion among space advocates, particularly during the transition to this new, business-friendly administration. Though it wasn’t stated explicitly, today’s discussions seemed to assume the continuation of SLS and Orion, at least for now. The programs have always had strong congressional support, and were intended to be destination-agnostic, both by design and congressional directive. NASA can thus shift its focus without a drastic restructuring of its major hardware programs.
(6) TAKE A SHOWER. Space.com tells you — “Orionid Meteor Shower 2017: When, Where & How to See It”.
One of the year’s best sky shows will peak between Oct. 20 and 22, when the Orionid meteor shower reaches its best viewing. The meteors that streak across the sky are some of the fastest and brightest among meteor showers, because the Earth is hitting a stream of particles almost head on.
The particles come from Comet 1P/Halley, better known as Halley’s Comet. This famous comet swings by Earth every 75 to 76 years, and as the icy comet makes its way around the sun, it leaves behind a trail of comet crumbs. At certain times of the year, Earth’s orbit around the sun crosses paths with the debris.
(7) NOTABLE SIGNATURES. Michael Burstein posted copies of some historic letters his grandfather received from Einstein, Teller and Isaac Asimov.
Among other things, my grandfather Rabbi Abraham Burstein was secretary of the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences. One of his tasks was reaching out to various luminaries to see if they would be interested in joining the academy. Sometimes he reached out to people whom he knew were Jewish but who might not be very public about it; joining the academy was a way to express solidarity without becoming too public. From what I understand, the academy had annual meetings with speakers.
I do not know what was in the letters my grandfather sent out to these three recipients, but we can see what they said back.
The earliest letter is from Albert Einstein, dated June 7, 1936. The next letter is from Edward Teller, dated December 21, 1962. The last letter is from Isaac Asimov, dated October 21, 1965.
(8) HONOR AN AUSTRALIAN SFF CONTRIBUTOR. The A. Bertram Chandler Award is calling for nominations.
So why is a person awarded this honour? It’s because the recipient has demonstrated over many years untiring commitment and selfless work within Australian fandom or the Aussie SF scene in general. Work such as convention running, local club activities, publishing, writing of merit in the genre whether that be blogs, fanzines, short stories or novels, artistic endeavours such painting, graphics or other such forms. The criteria is not limited to any one activity; but mostly it is for activities that are visible and evident to the Aussie SF community.
So, do you know someone who has made a significant contribution to Australian science fiction and/ or Australian fandom, not just over the last year, but year in, year out? Feel that they should be honoured / recognised for this work? Then why not nominate them for the A Bertram Chandler Award. It is really easy to do: just write to the ASFF and outline why you think that the person is deserving of the award. No forms to fill out, no entrance fee, nothing but a simple few paragraphs outlining the person’s achievements.
For more information about the A Bertram Chandler Award and the Australian Science Fiction Foundation visit our website ( www.asff.org.au )
To nominate a worthy person, send to email@example.com
(9) EBOOK TIDE RECEDING? A Wall Street Journal blogger relates what publishers had to say at the Frankfurt Book Fair in “Book Publishers Go Back to Basics”.
Book publishers are giving an advance review of the industry’s future, and it looks a lot like the past. After a decade of technological upheaval and lackluster growth, executives at the top four U.S. consumer book publishers say they are done relying on newfangled formats to boost growth.
It has been nearly 10 years since Amazon.com Inc. introduced its Kindle e-book reader amid the financial crisis, destabilizing publishers and challenging their well-honed business models.
Now, e-book sales are on the decline, making up a fraction of publishers’ revenue, and traditional book sales are rising. The consumer books industry is enjoying steady growth in the U.S., with total revenue increasing about 5% from 2013 to 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers.
Executives gathered in Frankfurt for the industry’s biggest trade fair said they are returning to fundamentals: buying and printing books that readers want to buy—and they are streamlining their businesses to get them out faster than ever before.
It is about “knowing what [readers] want,” said Markus Dohle, chief executive of Bertelsmann SE and Pearson PSO -1.91% PLC’s joint venture Penguin Random House, “to drive demand at scale.”
The shift is a surprise reversal for an industry that experts just a decade ago predicted was facing radical change, if not a slow death, because of digitization and changing reading habits. Instead, e-book sales in the U.S. were down about 17% last year, according to the AAP industry group, while printed book revenue rose 4.5%.
…Mr. Murray blamed flagging e-book sales on “screen fatigue,” and said HarperCollins was upping investment in printed books, “the value anchor” for the entire business. Printed books are “more beautiful now,” he said. “You’ll see endpapers [and] a lot more design sensibility going into the print editions because we recognized that they can’t be throwaway.”
(10) IT’S THE PRICE. Amanda S. Green’s opinion about the above news is that trad publishers constantly talk around the real obstacle to e-book sales, which she identifies in “The delusions continue” at Mad Genius Club.
…Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy claims that nothing “went wrong” with e-books. It seems she believes people have gotten tired of reading on their screens. Again, a complete disconnect from reality. People don’t want to pay as much — or more — for an e-book as they will for a print copy. But the laugh out loud moment comes further down in the article when Reidy says she firmly believes “a new version of the book based on digital delivery will come eventually, though she does not know what it might look like.”
Hmm, wouldn’t that be an e-book? The bells and whistles might be a bit different, but it if walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, isn’t it a duck?
And what about her argument that e-book sales have leveled off because we are tired of reading on our screens?
It constantly amazes me the way these folks continue to tie themselves into knots trying to explain how e-books are bad, or are a passing fad or a way for writers not good enough for traditional publishing to get their works into the hands of readers. All I know is that the real numbers, the numbers that look at more than the Big 5 titles, tell a different tale. As a reader, I know I find myself picking up more and more books from indie authors because they are writing stories I want to read and they are doing it at prices that allow me to read two or three or more books for the price of a single Big 5 title. When is the point going to come where an accountant who isn’t afraid of rocking the boat says they can actually sell more — and make more money — if they lower their prices to something reasonable?
(11) SPLATTERPUNK AWARD SEEKS NOMINATIONS. As announced recently on Episode 136 of The Horror Show with Brian Keene, the SplatterPunk awards are now taking nominations for works of horror. The categories are:
- BEST NOVEL (for works of more than 50,000 words)
- BEST NOVELLA (for works from 15,000 to 50,000 words)
- BEST SHORT STORY (for works from 500 to 14,000 words)
- BEST COLLECTION (for single-author works over 50,000 words)
- BEST ANTHOLOGY (for multiple-author collections over 50,000 words)
Anyone registered to attend next year’s KillerCon is eligible to nominate. Early registration is $89.99 until the end of 2017. Registration is capped at 250 attendees.
Dann sent the link along with an observation, “The nomination form is a little unusual in that there is only one space provided for a nomination. The attendee is supposed to indicate the appropriate category in one box and the work being nominated in a second box. It isn’t clear how an attendee is supposed to nominate works in more than one category.”
Guests of honor at next year’s Killer Con include Brian Keene, Edward Lee, and Lucy Taylor. Special Guests include author Matt Shaw and freelance editor Monica J. O’Rourke.
The 2018 Splatterpunk Awards jurors are David J. Schow, Gerard Houarner, Monica J. O’Rourke, Mike Lombardo, and Tod Clark.
The Founders of the SplatterPunk Awards, Wrath James White and Brian Keene, will select the Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
- October 17, 1937: Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Donald Duck’s nephews) first appeared in a comic strip.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born October 17, 1914 – Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman.
- Born October 17 – Michael J. Walsh, publisher, Old Earth Books, and former Worldcon chair (1983)
(14) THE NEIGHBORS’ HALLOWEEN DISPLAY. That would be a two-story tall Star Wars Imperial Walker — “‘The Force’ is strong in Parma as residents unveil towering Star Wars’ robot”.
Everyone wants to see Nick Meyer’s latest Halloween decoration.
“That is an imperial armored transporter from (‘Star Wars: Episode V – The) Empire Strikes Back,’” said Meyer.
Star Wars’ fans would know the official name for the towering rover: an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport).
Seven years ago, Meyer and his family started the tradition of building a Halloween display in the front yard.
“I love it, I encourage it,” said Nick’s wife Becky Meyer.
It gets bigger every year.
“I liked the clowns we did one year. Last year we did ‘Friday the 13th’ cabin, that was one of my favorites,” Becky said. “Last year was pretty awesome, and he topped it,” said next door neighbor, Amber Johnson.
One would think some neighbors might not want to stare at a two-story Star Wars robot for a few weeks, you’d be wrong.
“No, this is our fourth year living next door to them, and we love it,” Johnson said.
(15) IN MEMORY YET GRAY. Lawrence Schoen asks the inevitable question of Vivian Shaw, author of Strange Practice, in “Eating Authors: Vivian Shaw”.
LMS: Welcome, Vivian. What’s your most memorable meal?
VS: If you’d asked me this two years ago, I would have had no difficulty whatsoever in coming up with the best meal I’d ever eaten. That was in 2004, in Chicago, the same day I met Scott McNeil and George Romero: I was at a Transformers convention and decided to take myself to an actual steakhouse for an actual steak, and I can still so clearly remember the gorgeous rich mineral taste of that first-ever filet mignon, the way it almost dissolved in my mouth. The vivid greenness of the two asparagus spears on the plate, the peppery kick of the Shiraz that accompanied it — even thirteen years later it’s incredibly easy to recall.
(The most memorable, however, was the time on British Airways in the 1990s where for reasons known only to themselves somebody had decided to add bits of squid to the fruit salad. Memorable doesn’t equal pleasant.)
(16) LECKIE’S PROVENANCE Camestros Felapton reviews the new novel Provenance by Ann Leckie.
The people of Hwae (or at least the high-ranking ones) obsess over social status in a way that the Radch obsesses over rank (and tea). Central to this cult-like obsession is the veneration of ‘vestiges’ – artifacts that demonstrate the age of a family and possible connections to historical events. Vestiges can be anything from physical objects to letters and postcards or ticket stubs.
When we first meet Ingray she is off planet, embroiled in a scheme that is within her cognitive capacity to execute but for which she is not temperamentally prepared. As events unfold, a prison break, stolen spaceships, a murder of foreign dignitary and an invasion plot unfold around Ingray in a story that has elements of a mad-cap caper along side space-opera and Leckie’s trademark examination of the potential variety of human culture.
Above all Ingray is an honest person caught in a story in which most people she meets (both the good and the bad) are liars. This is such a clever trick by Leckie, as she manages to encapsulate Ingray very quickly as a character very early in the book, while giving her a backstory that gives her reasons to attempt a devious scheme (returning a notorious exiled criminal/disgraced vestige keeper to Hwae to embarrass her parent’s political rival). Ingray’s basic niceness wins her some useful allies and her naturally bravery pushes her further into the events.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Andrew Finch tells the inspiration for his short film Others Will Follow.
Thanks for watching, Others Will Follow was inspired by this speech written for President Nixon to deliver in the event that the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the moon. Fortunately they never used it, so I figured I would. NASA has parked its space ships in museums in the decades since the contingency speech was written. Most humans alive today didn’t exist the last time humanity left low earth orbit. I wanted to make something that would outline the importance of human space flight by imagining a brute-force mission to Mars in the early 2000s that, despite disastrous circumstances still manages to pass the torch of inspiration. I spent 4.5 years making this short and attempted to do every aspect of its creation myself, from pyrotechnics to music composition. Many of the disciplines were completely new to me like designing and building the space ship and constructing the space suit, others like VFX and cinematography I had a background in.
The lone survivor of the first mission to Mars uses his last moments to pass the torch of inspiration.
Making of: Others Will Follow
VFX Breakdowns and funny funny stuff from the set of Others Will Follow
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Dann, Michael J. Walsh, Steve Davidson, Cat Eldridge, Andrew, and Rose Mitchell for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brad J.]