(1) ARTEMIS IS NOT THE EXPANSE. Ioannis Kokkinidis gives an analysis of how realistic Andy Weir’s Artemis is in “The polis of Artemis on the Moon” at Centauri Dreams.
Over the years many rationales have been given to colonize the Moon. This is the only story I have read – granted I have not been able to read that much science fiction – where tourism is the primary driver of colonization. Andy Weir has said that he first created an economy of the town and then went on to write the novel. His description of a tourist dependent city though has several assumptions that, while mostly true for some American destinations, are quite odd for tourist destinations outside the US. This is an analysis by a person who comes from a country whose economy is highly dependent of tourism, has visited some 30 countries and lived in 5 of them. I am trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible so as not to ruin the enjoyment of the book to anyone who has not read it, though I hope that those that have not read the book will be able to follow my arguments and form their own opinions.
Kokkinidis’ article includes the surprise that Andy Weir and James S.A. Corey (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) have agreed that his stories are set in the same universe as The Expanse series.
Or not, says Greg Hullender, who sent the link along with his own research into the matter.
There was a tweet from Corey back in 2015 that said the stories were part of the same continuity —
At SDCC @andyweirauthor and I did a signing together and agreed our books are in the same continuity. Movie and TV show too. Movie's Awesome
— James S.A. Corey (@JamesSACorey) October 3, 2015
But a few months ago, Weir denied it during a Reddit AMA session:
I love The Expanse – fantastic stories. But no, The Martian and The Expanse are not in the same continuity. They just threw in the reference for fun. I’m honored.
And a month later, Daniel Abraham admitted it was just a joke:
It was a friendly joke at SDCC a few years back. Andy’s awesome, and we’re fans. I think we can keep the copyright lawyers in their cages for the time being.
Ah well. It was a pretty idea while it lasted.
(2) DOCTOR STRANGEMIND. Kim Huett of Doctor Strangemind takes the recent controversy over Terry Goodkind’s criticism of cover srt on his new book as a starting point for a dive into sff art history, “Author Vs Art”.
In 1973 Dennis Stocks organized a science fiction convention in Brisbane. At this convention there was a panel titled: “SF Illustration… A Dying Art?” In preparation for this panel he asked various authors their opinions. He received some fascinating answers:
….Perhaps we’ll have more luck with Robert Bloch:
About science fiction illustration being a dying art – I’d be more inclined to regard the patient as not dying but merely partially crippled. My diagnosis is as follows:
His skin – that is to say, cover illustrations in both magazines and paperbacks – has a good, healthy tone and radiates a high degree of vitality,
His insides – i.e. interior illustrations in the magazines are ailing. And have been for many a long year. Much black-and-white is crude, hastily-executed and poorly reproduced, and necessarily limited as to size by the digest format of the pages on which it appears.
(3) FELAPTON PIRATED! Camestros Felapton real life is far more exciting than mere fiction: “Avast! And Splice the Epub Me Hearties! Pirates Off the Starboard iBook!”
So 2018 has so far been a strange year for the Felapton brand, aside from a being a Hugo finalist, being reported to the Federal Police for running a blog and not forgetting being accused of secretly lecturing in philosophy in Aberdeen, I’ve now been pirated!
The Apple iBooks store has two version of The Felapton Digest available. One is the correct one distributed by Smashwords and is free. The other is…I’m not sure, I haven’t looked inside it because whoever is selling it is charging $39.99!
(4) NEW BAT CHANNEL. George R.R. Martin has moved his blog off of LiveJournal. Here’s the link to the new URL for Not A Blog.
(5) FREE COMICS. Free Comic Book Day is coming May 5.
Can't believe Free Comic Book day is racing up so quickly. After these weekend conventions we really gotta get moving to be ready!! #freecomicbookday #freecomicbookday2018 #charlottenc #charlotte #comics#toys #marvelcomics #dccomics #charlottecomiccon #wheecon #concarolinas pic.twitter.com/Fyr48PyHhw
— RebelBaseComics (@ComicsRebel) April 12, 2018
(6) REAL LIFE PODCASTING. Cat Rambo shares a… pro tip? Confession?
Waiting to tape a podcast and another episode of the host saying "There seems to be a lot of noise at Cat's end, do you have a window open" and me saying "yes I live on a major street that is indeed a fire engine going by."
— Rainbow Riot Rambo (@Catrambo) April 13, 2018
(7) COMICS SECTION.
- Cat Eldridge agrees with xkcd’s Narnian punchline about Turkish Delight.
(8) NIHIL NECCO? Meanwhile, the fate of another candy hangs in the balance — “Necco wafers may disappear forever due to candy factory shutdown”:
Still, Necco Wafers are not as flashy as more modern confections, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Baby Ruths. Naysayers have complained that Necco Wafers taste like drywall or chalk; time and again, the wafers have topped lists of America’s most hated candy.
Be that as it may, Necco Wafers are suddenly having a huge revival. Why? Because the candy factory — the New England Confectionary Company, or Necco — that makes these deliciously despised candies may shut down.
In March, Necco CEO Michael McGee told the Boston Globe that the failing company would be closing down — and laying off nearly 400 people — if it could not find a buyer.
(9) A REAL SPACE MUSEUM. The BBC tells about : “The ambitious proposal to create a space ‘museum’ in orbit” — preserving the Hubble as an exhibit now that there’s no shuttle to keep refurbishing it.
One of the most significant scientific endeavours of all time, Hubble is destined to burn apart as it re-enters the atmosphere in the early 2030s. It will go the same way as many other historic space objects – from the first satellite and Laika the space dog, to Skylab and the Mir space station.
But there may be an “impossible” alternative.
“It seems an ignominious end for such a celebrated object,” says Stuart Eves, chair of the Space Information Exchange – a UK government and industry forum for space security and infrastructure – who is a satellite engineer and expert on space debris. “Instead, in the same way we preserve historic ships, aircraft, cars and trains in museums,” he says, “we ought to look after Hubble and preserve it for posterity.”
Rather than bring it back to Earth – a costly and challenging mission (successfully attempted by the Space Shuttle in 1984 with two communications satellites) – Eves is urging the US to preserve the telescope in space.
(10) THE GOAL. Greg Hullender explains the reviewing philosophy of Rocket Stack Rank in “A Word for Authors”. “It tries to give authors some guidance on when they ought to engage with us about a review they had problems with,” he says. “The key thing is that it separates our reviews, which are matters of opinion, from our index, which should be a matter of fact. We have an adversarial relationship with authors regarding reviews, but we ought to be cooperative when it comes to the index. It’s the one place where we have the same goal: to attract readers to stories that might interest them.” Here’s an excerpt —
Honest Doesn’t Mean Cruel
Some authors can’t handle any amount of criticism of their work. One author complained about five negative words in thousand-word 5-star review which otherwise gushed over how great the story was. Another complained that a 5-star review praised their story for the wrong reasons. We can’t make everyone happy, and we aren’t going to try.
But there’s no reason to be cruel either. Nothing I post is ever meant to hurt an author’s feelings. If I’ve overstepped the line, anyone (readers, authors, editors, etc.) should feel free to let me know. In particular:
- A review should never be personal. “This story suffers from a weak plot” is okay. “This author can’t plot his way out of a paper bag” is not.
- A review should not pile on. Once I’ve cited enough reasons to explain why the story got a 2-star review, I should stop. There’s no point in trying to list 50 things that bothered me if 5 will do.
- A review should never use the race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or disability of an author or the characters portrayed as factors for or against a story. (Unrealistic portrayal is a different story, of course. “But a Mainer would neverbe best friends with a New Yorker!”)
Beyond that, if an author believed I was unnecessarily harsh, he or she should feel free to let me know. If I somehow wrote “This was the most awful thing I’ve ever read,” I’d almost certainly be willing to soften that to “I didn’t enjoy this story at all.”
(11) YANG AT HIGH TIDE. Joe Sherry covers three books in “Nanoreviews: Good Guys, Penric’s Fox, The Black Tides of Heaven” at Nerds of a Feather.
He really likes this one –
Yang, JY. The Black Tides of Heaven [Tor.com Publishing]
Have you ever read a book and midway through you’re actively angry at yourself for not reading it sooner? That was me after maybe twenty pages of The Black Tides of Heaven. By the end of the book my jaw was on the floor in amazement at just how spectacular this novella is. Told over the course of more than thirty years, The Black Tides of Heaven is not quite the story of revolution, but it is more a story of politics, of family, of personal choice, with a bit of revolution in the mix. All of that, and more, is woven together to something that is far superior than any facile description I could possibly give. I’m not sure I am up to the task of properly reviewing thie novella. I can only give The Black Tides of Heaven my highest possible recommendation.
(12) THE U.S. ARMY’S OWN MILSF. The IEEE Spectrum says “To Illustrate the Dangers of Cyberwarfare, the Army Is Turning to Sci-fi”.
Graphic novelettes issued by the U.S. Army Cyber Institute aim to educate soldiers about digital threats…
The books grew out of the ACI’s collaboration with the Threatcasting Lab at Arizona State University, in Tempe. Brian David Johnson is the director of the Threatcasting Lab and Intel’s former in-house futurist. He wrote the books—Dark Hammer, Silent Ruin, Engineering a Traitor, and 11/25/27—with Sandy Winkelman as creative director.
“We do two-day threatcasting events where we…model possible threats 10 years in the future,” Johnson says. “Threats to national security, threats to the economy, threats to civilization. And once we’ve established those, then we look backward and say, ‘How do we disrupt and mitigate those threats?’ ” he says.
The ACI decided they wanted more than just the lab’s traditional reports, Johnson says. “They wanted something that was much more visceral, that could be put in front of an 18-year-old cadet and also in front of a three-star general. They chose a process of mine called science fiction prototyping. You write science fiction stories based on science facts to explore possible futures. We used the threatcasting reports as the science facts, and we developed these four comic books as a way to illustrate these possible threats.”
(13) THE NEXT JOB FOR ROBOTS. Never mind hamburgers: “Could a robot pip people picking peppers?” [Video]
A pepper-picking robot named Harvey is being developed by Queensland University of Technology with the aim of reducing crop waste.
Moving between crop rows autonomously, the robot can detect when the fruit is ripe and picks the pepper with the aid of a suction grip and an electric saw.
(14) WINTER IS COMING. Europe could get colder: “Climate change dials down Atlantic Ocean heating system” — “the Atlantic Ocean circulation system is weaker now than it has been for more than 1,000 years – and has changed significantly in the past 150.”
The study, in the journal Nature, says it may be a response to increased melting ice and is likely to continue.
Researchers say that could have an impact on Atlantic ecosystems.
Scientists involved in the Atlas project – the largest study of deep Atlantic ecosystems ever undertaken – say the impact will not be of the order played out in the 2004 Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow.
But they say changes to the conveyor-belt-like system – also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc) – could cool the North Atlantic and north-west Europe and transform some deep-ocean ecosystems.
(15) PAY THE WRITER. The BBC article “Dealing with clients who expect you to work for free” is a collection of sleazy lines turned into cartoons — not specifically genre, but a common concern in the field. (Cartoons at the link.)
She calls this a “graphic survey” approach – drawing illustrations that put a face with the crowd-sourced quote – that would create a space for creatives to share their experiences.
“It’s fun to create that in-joke where people have experienced these things,” she says. “But the other people [who aren’t in on the joke] are like, ‘What’s going on, am I getting made fun of?’ It creates awareness, and hopefully it gets shared.”
The goal of For Exposure, beyond creating a platform for frustrated creatives? It’s not only to arm them to be savvier – it’s also hold the people they work for accountable.
“I want artists to learn to recognise red flags,” Estrada says. “And I want clients to learn how not to be insulting.”
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Greg Hullender, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cora Buhlert.]