The Heinlein Society’s New Officers

By Keith G. Kato: The new officers for The Heinlein Society were selected at its September 9, 2019 Board of Directors meeting.  They are:

  • President and Chairman of the Board:  John Tilden of Maryland.  “JT” was previously Treasurer of the Society, and succeeds Geo Rule of Minnesota as President.
  • Vice President-Secretary:  Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland of Maryland, Emeritus Professor of English at the United States Naval Academy, continues as Vice President-Secretary.
  • Treasurer:  Dr. Beatrice Kondo of Maryland succeeds John Tilden as Treasurer.  Dr. Kondo was re-elected for another three-year term this year, and is the daughter of the late Dr. Yoji Kondo, astrophysicist for NASA who wrote SF under the name Eric Kotani.

The results of this year’s Board of Directors election was announced at the Society’s online phone-in Annual Meeting on September 8.  Three of nine Board seats are elected each year.  By seniority the remainder of the Board is:

  • SFWA Grandmaster Joe Haldeman of Florida, re-elected for another three-year term.
  • John Seltzer of Washington state.
  • Betsey Wilcox of Texas.
  • Walt Boyes of Missouri.
  • Mike Sheffield of California.
  • Ken Walters of Tennessee, elected to his first three-year term.

At the Annual Meeting, President Geo Rule stated he chose not to run for re-election to the Board due to his increased work commitments, which he felt would not allow him to give the Society the time and effort the job required.  He would continue his committee work.

The Heinlein Society 2019 Scholarship Winners

The Heinlein Society celebrated Robert A. Heinlein’s 112th birthday today by announcing the three winners of its 2019 Scholarship competition.

Virginia Heinlein Scholarship

  • Rosemary Lach

Rosemary wins this year’s Virginia Heinlein Scholarship – the “Ginny”. She will be attending Rice University as a freshman in the Fall, majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her favorite hobbies is model rocketry, and she intends to pursue a career working on control systems. She has already worked as an intern for Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. She has volunteered as a mentor for the Miraleste Intermediate School Robotics Team and as an education volunteer for the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Dr. Yoji Kondo Scholarship

  • Charles Boyle

Charles is this year’s winner of the Dr. Yoji Kondo Scholarship. Charles is a senior, attending the University of Texas at Austin. He is pursuing a triple-major in Aerospace Engineering, Physics, and Astronomy. After he completes his Bachelor’s, he plans to pursue a graduate degree. He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and the Sigma Gamma Tau Aerospace Honor Society, for both of which he has performed volunteer work. His main pastime is designing and fabricating in UT’s Makerspace.

Dr. Jerry Pournelle Scholarship

  • Faith Rovenolt

Faith is the Dr. Jerry Pournelle Scholarship winner. She is a senior at Vanderbilt University, majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology. Her career goal is to perform research in epidemiology. She also hopes “…to spread my passion for biology through teaching, outreach, or science writing.” Her mother is an army veteran and her father is serving in the Navy. She has volunteered her time with Vanderbilt Students for the Armed Services as well as Vanderbilt Students Volunteer for Science.

The Heinlein Society received 233 scholarship applications. In addition to the winners, the other top 10 finalists are:

  • Will Butler
  • Madeline English
  • Samuel Heim
  • Esther Lee
  • Trinity Manuelito
  • Shannon Mowbray
  • Clare Williams

The Heinlein Society Scholarship Application Deadline 4/1

The Heinlein Society has opened its sixth annual scholarship essay contest for the 2019-2020 academic year. Three $2,000 scholarships will be awarded to undergraduate students of accredited 4-year colleges and universities —

  • Virginia Heinlein Memorial Scholarship — Dedicated to a female candidate majoring in engineering, math, or biological or physical sciences.
  • The Yoji Kondo and Jerry Pournelle scholarships — May be awarded to a candidate of any gender; in addition, “Science Fiction as literature” is an eligible field of study.

Applicants will need to submit a 500-1,000 word essay on one of several available topics:

a. How Robert Heinlein affected my career choice.
b. Discuss the ‘Golden Age of SF’ and Robert Heinlein’s role in it.
c. Most of the Heinlein estate and literary legacy is devoted to commercial space activities (the mission of the Heinlein Prize Trust). Given that focus, consider Elon Musk (winner of the Heinlein Prize for Commercial Space Activities) and the Falcon Heavy launch with his Tesla Roadster with Starman inside. Discuss these events in comparison with Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold the Moon”, and other works. Will our future expansion into space be government initiated, or private/commercial? Which is better? Which will ultimately be the way forward?
d. Robert Heinlein said “The golden age of science has yet to begin.” Evaluate this statement compared to your technical field.
e. Discuss the advantages to the human race of a permanent settlement on the Moon or Mars.
f. The expansion of social media has led to widespread placement of devices by which your movement and private conversations can be monitored. Social media has also accelerated the clustering of like-minded interests into largely non-interacting ‘tribes’—the so-called ‘metadata’ gathering. Can you find and comment on the Heinlein stories that predicted these phenomena?
g. How might advances in your chosen field of study affect how people live 50 years from now? What changes, good or bad, might society see?

The deadline to apply is April 1. Full guidelines and the application form are on the Society’s website: Society’s website. Winners will be announced on July 7, 2019.

Changing of the Guard at The Heinlein Society

Minnesota fan Geo Rule is the newly-installed President of The Heinlein Society.

Keith Kato’s term as President ended – “amicably and by my own wishes” he notes — with the adjournment of THS’s online Annual Meeting last Sunday and the announcement of its new Board:

  • President:  Geo Rule of Minnesota.
  • Vice President-Secretary:  Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland (“Herb” to friends) of Maryland, retired Professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • Treasurer:  John Tilden of Maryland

Other Board members, listed by seniority:

  • SFWA Grandmaster Joe Haldeman of Florida.
  • John Seltzer, of Washington (state).
  • Betsey Wilcox of Texas.
  • Dr. Beatrice Kondo of Maryland (Yoji Kondo’s daughter).
  • Walt Boyes of Missouri (appointed by the Board to fill Jerry Pournelle’s seat; ratified this past election to continue).
  • Mike Sheffield of California (3rd President of THS, re-elected to the Board this past election).

Incoming President Rule says:

Our previous two presidents have left us a great foundation to build upon. Mike Sheffield was the driving force behind the founding of our very successful Scholarships program, and supported the creation of Heinlein For Heroes during his service as President. Dr. Kato led the Society and ‘Heinlein’s Children’ to the creation and placing of a bronze bust of Robert A. Heinlein in the state capitol building of Missouri in 2016, and leave service as President with membership in the Society, and Society financial assets, at all-time highs in our 20 year history. The membershgip recognized him with a well-earned thank you vote by acclamation at our recent annual meeting.

Rule has served on the Board of Directors of the Society since 2007, and as Vice President-Secretary since 2014. He joined the Society in 2002, and considers himself luck to have had the opportunity to work with Mrs. Virginia (“Ginny”) Heinlein on Society business in the last year of her life.

[Thanks to Keith Kato for the story.]

The Heinlein Society 2018 Scholarship Winners

The Heinlein Society celebrated Robert A. Heinlein’s 111th birthday today by announcing the three winners of its 2018 Scholarship competition.

This year the “Virginia Heinlein Memorial Scholarship” is joined by the “Jerry Pournelle Memorial Scholarship” and “Yoji Kondo Memorial Scholarship,” named in honor of two sff figures and friends of Heinlein who died within the past 12 months.

Virginia Heinlein Memorial Scholarship

Carson Butler

She is attending the University of Virgina entering her junior year. She is majoring in Cognitive Science. While in high school she was selected to attend the Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership Program at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In addition to a potential career in neuroscience, she is interested in aerospace and would “… love to work for NASA one day.” Butler was also the winner of the first “Ginny” in 2016.

Jerry Pournelle Memorial Scholarship

Reese Caldwell

This fall he will be attending Harvard University as a freshman, majoring in Chemical and Physical Biology. For his research into external control activity in synthetic cells with light, he was named one of the top 40 high school scientists in the country by the Regeneron Science Talent Search and has presented at two international conferences. After completing his Bachelor’s, he plans to continue on to obtain his PhD in bioengineering, and eventually to work for a university.

Yoji Kondo Scholarship

Emma Sebesta

She begins her university experience as a freshman at Indiana University Bloomington. She is working toward dual majors in Biochemistry and Spanish, with a minor in Psychology. She will be part of IU’s ASURE program (Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience). She was Salutatorian of her high school graduating class and received a gold medal on the National Spanish Exam. After obtaining her Bachelor’s, she plans to continue on to attend medical school and obtain her residency. Her dream is to become a fellow at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City.

The Heinlein Society received 301 scholarship applications, almost double last year’s number. In addition to the winners, the other top 10 finalists are:

  • Kayla Keith
  • Neetij Krishnan
  • Kyra Moosmueller
  • Natalie Murren
  • Spencer Pote
  • Stephen Rosene
  • Edith Steffenhagen

[Thanks to Keith G. Kato for the story. The website text was written by Mike Sheffield, Emeritus President of THS and Chairman of the Scholarship Committee.]

Neal Stephenson Wins 2018 Robert A. Heinlein Award

Neal Stephenson in 2008.

Neal Stephenson, science fiction and futurist author, is the 2018 winner of the Robert A. Heinlein Award. The award is bestowed for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space. This award is in recognition of Stephenson’s body of work, including his 15 novels and many non-fiction articles.

The award will be presented on the evening of Friday, May 25 at opening ceremonies during Balticon 52, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention. Stephenson will not be able to attend due to prior scheduled international travel. Accepting for Stephenson will be his editor, Jennifer Brehl of William Morrow an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Balticon and the Robert A. Heinlein Award are both managed and sponsored by The Baltimore Science Fiction Society. A grant from the Heinlein Society funds half of the costs associated with the award.

The Robert A. Heinlein Award is a sterling silver medallion bearing the image of Robert A. Heinlein, as depicted by artist Arlin Robbins. The medallion is matched with a red-white-blue lanyard. In addition, the winner receives two lapel pins for use when a large medallion is impractical, and a plaque describing the award, suitable for home or office wall display.

The Robert A. Heinlein Award selection committee consists of science fiction writers and was founded by Dr. Yoji Kondo, a long-time friend of Robert and Virginia Heinlein. Members of the original committee were approved by Virginia Heinlein. The current Chairman of the Selection Committee is Michael F. Flynn.

Virginia Heinlein authorized multiple awards in memory of her husband, including the Heinlein Prize, which is fully funded by Virginia Heinlein’s estate, and a National Space Society award for volunteer projects.

More information on the Robert A. Heinlein Award, including past winners, can be found here.

Neal Stephenson’s official webpage — https://www.nealstephenson.com/. He lives near Seattle, WA.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 1/21/18 Right Here In File City, Trouble With A Capital T, That Rhymes With P, And Stands For Pixel

(1) COMPOSING SPACE OPERA. In this Twitter thread Cat Rambo captured the highlights of the Ann Leckie Space Opera class.

(2) WORLDCON 76 ACADEMIC TRACK ADDS PRIZE. The Heinlein Society’s Board of Directors has authorized a $250 cash prize to be awarded to the “Best Paper Presented at the 2018 World Science Fiction Convention’s Academic Track.”  President Keith Kato says “The final evaluation process is under discussion, but will likely involve a judging panel.”

The concom has extended the deadline for Academic Track papers to March 1 as a result.  This prize is not the William H. Patterson, Jr., Prize which is evaluated annually by the Society for the best Heinlein-related academic paper in a particular calendar year.

In addition, The Heinlein Society will be teaming with the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation for Academic Track papers, and possibly other con activities.

(3) HOW CAN THEY EVER RESPECT US AGAIN? She blabs a trade secret to The Guardian: “Margaret Atwood: ‘I am not a prophet. Science fiction is really about now’”.

“I’m not a prophet,” she says. “Let’s get rid of that idea right now. Prophecies are really about now. In science fiction it’s always about now. What else could it be about? There is no future. There are many possibilities, but we do not know which one we are going to have.” She is, however, “sorry to have been so right”. But, with her high forehead and electric halo of curls, there is something otherworldly about Atwood. Dressed in one of her trademark jewel-coloured scarfs and a necklace of tiny skulls, she cuts a striking figure outside the cafe in Piccadilly where we are huddled.

(4) OUTSIDE SFWA. Vox Day’s post “SFWA rejects Jon Del Arroz” [at the Internet Archive], in which the expelled member condemns and reviles the organization’s decision to refuse admittance to JDA, publishes what is represented to be the text of SFWA’s notification to JDA.

(5) DILLMAN OBIT. Actor Bradford Dillman died January 16 at the age of 87. Some of his better-known roles included Robert Redford’s best friend in 1973’s The Way We Were, and two appearances in Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movies.

His genre work included TV shows like The Wild, Wild West; Mission: Impossible; Thriller; Wonder Woman; The Incredible Hulk; and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In the movie Escape From The Planet Of The Apes he was the kind Dr. Dixon who helps Cornelius and Zira evade capture. He also starred in Bug, and appeared in Swarm, and Pirhana.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian didn’t look to see if this was really in the Old Testament, he just laughed: Bizarro.
  • Chip Hitchcock has his eye on the same cartoon series. He noted that this Bizarro shows new job opportunities, and another Bizarro tells us that even ~gods apprentice:

(7) DREAM HOME. In a hole in the ground there stayed a tourist — “Calling all ‘Lord of the Rings’ fans! You can spend the night in a real-life hobbit hole”.

Wolfe relied on the construction know-how she’d picked up from her parents — her mother remodeled houses when Wolfe was a child — and brought in a backhoe to clear the land. Wolfe needed to ensure the hobbit hole could hold the foot of dirt she planned to place on the roof, so she used marine-grade, pressure-treated wood.

“Any time you put dirt on top of a house, when that dirt gets wet, it’s basically having a swimming pool on top of your house,” she added. “It’s a lot of weight.”

Up next: an entrance fit for a hobbit. Wolfe wanted a signature round entryway, which she created using an industrial-sized cable spool. She enlisted a local designer to craft the hinges and the opening to the 288-square-foot space. He repurposed a trailer hitch to build the door handle.

When guests enter through the circular portal, they immediately stand in the bedroom. To the right is a fireplace, which helps heat the home in the winter, along with a woodworker’s bench. To the left is the bathroom, complete with a large wooden tub…

 

(8) WHO OWNS WHAT? THIRD BASE! At Plagiarism Today, they take on “The Strange Copyright of Doctor Who”.

Exterminate… Exterminate the copyright!

….It’s a bizarre show, even for science fiction. However, a recent news story highlighted an even stranger part of the series.

Shortly after the airing of the 2017 Christmas Special, which marked the end of Peter Capaldi’s run as The Doctor and introduced Jodie Whittaker, the series first female Doctor, a copyright controversy arose.

According to The Mirror, the estate of Marvyn Haisman, the creator of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, took issue with the episode introducing a new character that turned out to be Lethbridge-Stewart’s grandfather. Lethbridge-Stewart is popular character from the series that they hold the rights to.

Though later reports have downplayed the dispute, the story raised an interesting question: Why was one of the series’ most popular characters not controlled by the BBC, which produces the show?

It turns out though that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is far from alone in his bizarre copyright status. Many of the show’s iconic characters are controlled, at least in part, by outside entities. The list includes both the robotic dog K9 and even The Daleks themselves.

How did this happen? The answer is both complicated and simple at the same time but it all centers around how the series was written during its early years.

(9) WE INTERRUPT THIS MAELSTROM. Here is the kind of thing people discuss on days when the news cycle isn’t spinning like mad. Or if they need a break on a day when it is.

(10) MOONDUST AND SAND. Andy Weir was the subject of a podcast with Tyler Cowen (“Conversations With Tyler.”) Martin Morse Wooster says, “I’m sure it’s good because Cowen is a good interviewer.”

Martin adds: I learned about this by listening to Cowen’s podcast with New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, which has quite a lot of sf content.  Douthat explained that he wanted to be a fantasy novelist, but settled for being an opinion journalist.  He talks about how Watership Down is his favorite fantasy novel, and about ten minutes of the hour and a half podcast is devoted to a discussion of Dune with an emphasis on the Butlerian Jihad.  The interview revealed that, along with Paul Krugman, there are two New York Times columnists who know a great deal about sf.” — Ross Douthat on Narrative and Religion (Ep. 32).

[Thanks to JJ, Keith Kato, Cat Rambo, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 9/26/17 I’ve Been To Arrakis On A Sandworm With Two Names Twice

(1) NO, IT AIN’T COOL. Indiewire reports “Harry Knowles Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Austin Woman Two Decades Ago, and Drafthouse Owners Didn’t Take Action”.

An Austin-area woman said Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles sexually assaulted her at an Alamo Drafthouse event — but the reason she’s speaking out now is she believes change is coming.

“Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion,” said Jasmine Baker. “I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent.”

The specifics are described at the link. Knowles denied the accusations.

Alamo Drafthouse has severed ties with Harry Knowles, who had a business relationship with the owners, and had cofounded a convention with them.

As a result of the charges, several Ain’t It Cool News staffers have left — Eric “Quint” Vespe, Steve “Capone” Prokopy, and “Horrorella.”

(2) WRITING ABOUT HEINLEIN. Farah Mendlesohn answers some pointed questions about her forthcoming Heinlein book in “Q&A with Ken MacLeod”.

KMM: Heinlein is a hero to and an influence on the ‘right’ of the SF field. I remember many years ago being surprised to hear you being enthusiastic about Heinlein, and I probably asked you something like this: As a feminist of the left, why do you find Heinlein so intriguing?

FJM: Heinlein has always been a hero to parts of the left as well, particularly to the anarcho-left of which I am, loosely, a part both as a feminist and because I’m a Quaker (Quakers invented anarchist decision practice, and it’s interesting that anti-pacifist Heinlein has a soft spot for them). But to return to the question: at the age of 12-20 it was because he was pretty much the only male sf writer writing women who had jobs, adventures, access to engineering jobs, and who got to be spies and ornery grandmas, and be liked by men who weren’t as smart as they. Believe me, when you are a smart girl in school, that’s pretty reassuring. In my late teens and twenties I started to get annoyed with the requirement to be “sexy” but attracted to the arguments about consent; frustrated with the performativity of the romances, and irritated by everyone wanting babies but attracted to the arguments about the different ways to construct families. This time round I’ve been fascinated by the way it’s clear that Heinlein knows what his women are up against; I’ve ended up with very different readings of Podkayne, Friday and Maureen (To Sail Beyond the Sunset) in which all three of them become resisters of other people’s narrative of them.

The crowdfunding appeal has reached 80% of its goal as of today.

(3) HEINLEIN COLLECTIBLES. Keith Kato, President of The Heinlein Society, announces: “Ensign’s Prize Offer now open to Non-Members!” Keith explains —

The “Ensign’s Prize” are multiple titles of pirated Heinlein works that Ginny Heinlein won in a lawsuit.  She donated them to The Heinlein Society for fund-raising.  Until now we have limited sales only to THS members, but as you can see in the link, purchases are now open to anyone while supplies last.  There are different numbers of remaining copies of the various titles, and being a pirated version, the quality is what it is (though surprisingly not bad).

More info at the Society website:

There are some rare editions here to add to your collection. A prime example is the only known hardcover edition of The Notebooks of Lazarus Long with lettering by D.F. Vassallo.

The numbers of available individual copies varies by book with no individual copies of Methuselah’s Children. Only a handful of individual copies of Stranger in a Strange Land (5) are available. All individual copies will be offered for a suggested donation of $60 each except for The Notebooks of Lazarus Long which is offered for a suggested donation of $75 each with shipping & insurance on single books at $6.00 in the US. Overseas shipping will be determined at time of donation.

These books/sets are used as a fundraiser to support projects and programs of The Heinlein Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to paying it forward. Proceeds from these books/sets will be used to support projects and programs of The Heinlein Society such as the scholarship program and Heinlein For Heroes.

This link will take you to a page where you can read a description of the books being offered and then click the “Details” link at the bottom of the page to be directed to the ordering site.

(4) BONES OF THE EARTH. “’Biggest Dinosaur Ever’ Discovered in Argentina”GeologyIn has the story.

New Species of Dinosaur Is the Largest Land Animal to Ever Walk the Earth

One hundred million years ago, a colossal creature the size of a 737 thundered through the forests of South America, picking trees clean with its head extended five stories in the air and sending ferocious T. rex-like therapods scattering like mice below its trunk-sized legs. It’s the largest dinosaur ever found — a titanosaur so huge that its skeleton can’t even fit into a single room in its home at the American Museum of Natural History. Scientists this week unveiled their first study on the ancient beast alongside its new, official name, ­Patagotitan mayorum, or, The Giant from Patagonia. Astoundingly, the Big Apple’s biggest resident wasn’t even fully grown when it died (scientists don’t know if it was male or female) — and an even more whopping cousin could be waiting to be uncovered, experts said Wednesday. “This animal [hadn’t] stopped growing at the time of death,” said Diego Pol, an Argentina paleontologist who helped dig it up.

…The scientists reproduced the skeleton in 3-D models, but the specimen was too large to fit in any local museum, Pol said, so they sent a fiberglass cast to New York last year. It has been welcoming visitors to the museum’s dinosaur floor ever since — literally, because its massive skull extends all the way out into the elevator bay. “[It’s] probably one of the world’s great selfie spots,” said John Flynn, the museum’s curator of fossil mammals.

(5) A VACUUM CLOSER THAN SPACE. “Australia commits to establish space agency with no budget, plan, name, deadline …” says The Register.

Mission plan: retrieve lost votes from deep within black hole of democratic disillusionment…

Cash’s statement says the agency “will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement”, but there’s no detail on the agency’s name, budget, start date or anything else that would tell us what it will actually do. The fact that its future existence was first revealed to media in the city of Adelaide suggests one mission: help revive the city’s economy, which has struggled since auto-makers left in recent years (along with many votes for the governing Liberal Party).

(6) MAKE YOURSELF A GIBSON. Martin Morse Wooster says, “I finished Conversations With William Gibson and learned about this story, which was new to me.  This is from an episode of the Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy podcast by John Joseph Adams and David Barr Kirtley, who interviewed William Gibson in 2012.  This probably took place in the early 1990s.

GEEK’S GUIDE:  So when I first started going to science fiction conventions, I heard this funny story about you, and I’ve never been sure if it was true or if it happened the way I heard it, and I was wondering if you knew what I was talking about.  It was this story where you go into a hotel to check in, and you say, ‘Hi, I’m Mr. Gibson,’ and everyone acts all shocked at the hotel.”

GIBSON:  It was the Beverly Hills Hotel, and I don’t know, somebody had checked me in.It was when I had started doing some contact screenplay work after the ALIEN 3 script. So I got there, and it was like, you know, I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  The desk people looked gobsmacked and really unhappy.   So the bellman takes me up to this very fancy suite, and in this suite there’s a table lavishly arrayed with very expensive wines and liquors and expensive floral displays, and a bit thing that says, ‘The Beverly Hills Hotel welcomes Mel Gibson.'”

And so I looked at the bellman, and I said, ‘No, no, I’m not him.  Take this stuff away.’ And he said, ‘No, no, no, you can keep it.’ And I said, ‘What am I supposed to do with it?”  He said, ‘Call some friends, have a party.'”

(7) NAMING CALLS. While the writer’s mostly interested in Republican shenanigans, “8 Notable Attempts to Hack the New York Times Bestseller List” ends with a shout-out to a science fiction immortal.

…[DJ Jean] Shepherd decided that he wanted to get a book on the bestseller list—an imaginary book. “What do you say tomorrow morning each one of us walk into a bookstore, and ask for a book that we know does not exist?” he asked his listeners. The book they decided to ask for was I, Libertine, its author, Frederick R. Ewing, published by Excelsior Press, an imprint of Cambridge University Press. And ask they did…

…What is true, though, is that this book became real through sheer force of will. After only a few months, the story broke: I, Libertine was a hoax. But then it was un-hoaxed: Theodore Sturgeon, a friend of Shepherd’s, actually wrote the book, and Ballantine Books published it.

(8) TODAY’S DAY

Batman Day

The purpose of Batman Day is to celebrate the anniversary of the character’s first ever appearance, which was in Detective Comics #27 way back in May 1939. Since those early comic book appearances, Batman has grown into one of the world’s best-loved and most recognizable fictional characters, and is the focal point of television shows, animated cartoons, video games and Hollywood blockbusters.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 26, 1937 – The first episode of The Shadow was broadcast.
  • September 26, 1987 Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

John King Tarpinian suspects there is something missing after reading The Wizard of Id.

(11) BIT PARTS. After reporting a leak about the forthcoming Star Wars movie, CheatSheet also tells about some of the more interesting appearances in earlier films of the franchise: “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: A Few Major Celebrities Will Make a Surprising Cameo”.

With Star Wars: The Last Jedi still upcoming, John Boyega let confirmation of a few major cameos — specifically, Princes William and Harry — slip out in an interview on BBC Radio (via Screen Rant). As he stated:

I’ve had enough with those secrets. They came on set. They were there. I’m sick of hiding it. I think it was leaked, anyway. There were images. Every time I get asked, I have to dodge it. I’m tired of dodging it. They were there. Tom Hardy was there too.

Hardy is certainly a major cameo. But he’s actually just one of many big names to show up in a film from the Star Wars franchise.

As fans look forward to the surprise appearances that are set to come in The Last Jedi, we take a look back at the history of celebrity cameos in the Star Wars franchise — including some you may not have noticed or heard about.

(12) FAN FEUDS. I was struck by David Gerrold’s observation about fan feuds, from a long post mainly about something else, although I’ve kept the first line for context. What he says about fan feuds is spot on.

Yes, I did ask Jody Wheeler and Carlos Pedraza to back off on the Axanar stuff — not just because of my respect for Alec Peters, but also because of my equal respect for Jody Wheeler and Carlos Pedraza, both of whom I have worked with. Fan-feuding helps no one. It hurts everyone. It destroys possibilities. It destroys opportunities. (I know of two entities who decided not to engage with Jody and Carlos because of their efforts in the anti-Axanar movement.) I speak from a half-century of direct experience on this.

But yeah, my bad. I should know better than to ask fans to disengage from a feud. Especially this one. I should have known better because internecine warfare is always more important than mutual support and partnership in any endeavor. It’s much more fun to have enemies — war is the most profitable human product, because it gives you not only the illusion of power and authority, it creates the opportunity to control how others think and act…

(13) YOUR SECOND-BEST SUIT. Electric Literature thought today is a good time to revisit “The 5 Weirdest Lawsuits About Authors Stealing Ideas”.

Claim: J.K. Rowling stole the word “muggle”

J.K. Rowling has been accused of idea theft, and vice versa, so many times that there’s a whole Wikipedia page for “legal disputes over the Harry Potter series.” The earliest was American writer Nancy Kathleen Stouffer, who sued Rowling for infringement in 1999, when only three of the books had been published (although it was already clear that the series was turning a handsome profit). Stouffer claimed that she’d invented the word “muggle” in her vanity-press book The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, and that another of her works featured a character named Larry Potter. This is thin enough—but the court didn’t just rule that the similarities were too vague to amount to much. It actually found that even Stouffer’s weak evidence may have been fabricated.

Two other cases involve Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and Cassandra Clare’s Darkhunter series.

(14) ON OR OFF THE SHELF? The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna, in “Banned Books Week: Why are illustrated books being challenged more than ever?”, notes that the top two books in the American Library Association’s list of banned books for 2017 were graphic novels.  He then looks at graphic novels that censors fund particularly irritating.

Some industry observers say that the spike in challenges to illustrated books can be attributed to the recent rise in the literary form’s popularity and accessibility on bookshelves, as well as the subject matter.

“Graphic novels are more popular and widely read than ever,” said Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an advocacy organization. “Their authors are speaking directly to the real concerns of their audiences in an accessible way.”

Brownstein noted, too, that the illustrated form can attract challenges that other books might not.

“There are many other factors to weigh, including the medium’s reliance on the power of the static image,” he said. “Graphic novels are frequently reduced to a single image or sequence of images that can be removed from the larger context of the work, and used to justify censorship. Comics’ use of images and words give the stories added power that resonates with audiences, and makes works like ‘This One Summer’ and ‘Drama’ even more compelling. These works must be considered as a whole to be fully appreciated. When that happens, the complexity, nuance and sophistication of the stories can be fully appreciated.”

The CBLDF director pointed, as well, to how comics are perceived by many parents and officials. “In many cases, comics are still regarded as lesser reading,” he said. “Some people don’t expect comics to have the kind of complexity or depth that earned ‘This One Summer’ the Caldecott honor and ‘Drama’ a Stonewall honor. We’ve seen cases where comics are challenged because the conversations that they raise were unexpected.”

(15) ALL WRAPPED UP. The Bangor Daily News makes a new novel sound tantalizing: “Kings of fiction: Father and son combine for ‘Sleeping Beauties’”.

In this year of all things King, with nearly two dozen movies, TV shows or miniseries based on Bangor’s own horror-meister in production or on screens, it makes perfect sense to add another Stephen King-thing to what has become a total-immersion experience.

Enter “Sleeping Beauties,” a novel that’s a team effort by Stephen King and his son, Owen. Published by Scribner, it goes on sale on Tuesday, Sept. 25 ($32.50 hardcover).

The duo’s first tandem effort on a novel, “Sleeping Beauties” is an ambitious work that combines some age-old Stephen King themes — the potential end of the world, the battle between good and … well … not so good, if not evil — with a distinctly sci-fi premise.

Simply put: Women around the world are falling asleep, and being covered in wispy cocoons. They may never wake up (and in true Stephen King fashion, those who try to rouse the females from their slumber quickly learn that doing so was a big, bad, bloody mistake).

Is the human race’s demise insured? Will a world with no women become a reality (for a time)? Or is there another option that we just can’t see on this side of the story? Good questions, all

(16) UNDER THE HAMMER. The Daryl Litchfield Collection of Arkham House & H.P. Lovecraft goes on the auction block October 5. So do a great many volumes by Edgar Rice Burroughs and other sff authors.

More than 300 lots of fine literature, from the 18th through the 21st centuries, are included in this exciting auction. Headlining the sale is the Daryl Litchfield collection of Arkham House and H.P. Lovecraft. The collection includes the earliest work by Lovecraft and a near complete collection of Arkham House publications. Many other science fiction and fantasy first editions are also offered, including nearly fifty lots of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels, many in the rare original dust jackets. Also featured are more than fifty lots of Black Sparrow press limited editions of the writings of Charles Bukowski, many signed by the author. Other rare literary works from the last 300 years are also offered, including titles by Dickens, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Stowe, Twain, Wilde, and many others.

See the online version of the catalogue at www.pbagalleries.com

Direct link to the online catalogue: http://www.pbagalleries.com/view-auctions/info/id/434/

To view as ebook: http://pbagalleries.com/content/ecat/626/index.html

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In an Entertainment Weekly video “The Walking Dead cast explains 100 episodes in 30 seconds”.

(18) VIDEO OF YESTERDAY. In March 1971, General Mills introduced the chocolate-flavored Count Chocula and the strawberry-flavored Franken Berry.

[Thanks to Keith Kato, Cat Eldridge, David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Wendy Gale, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories.. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who inquires “Not having read all the Dune books (by Frank Herbert, and then the non-FH prequels), and not remembering all of those I did read… did any of the individual sandworms have names (i.e., not ‘Shai Halud’ (sp?), which was the general name). E.g. ‘Big Fella,’ ‘Spot,’ ‘Masterful Mighty Wriggler of Doom,’ ‘Fluffy’?”]

Heinlein Society Elections Affected by Unexpected Death of Jerry Pournelle

Results of The Heinlein Society’s board of directors elections were announced at its Annual Meeting, a phone-in teleconference held September 10. On the line were the 2017-2020 class of three seats on its nine-seat Board of Directors. An impressive 66.5% of eligible voters participated in an online election via the SimplyVoting.com website.  The three incumbent Directors standing for re-election, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, John Seltzer, and John Tilden, all won re-election, which was certified by Simply Voting on 28 August 2017.

The passing of Dr. Jerry Pournelle on September 8, after the election and certification of results, has led to the Society’s remaining Board to invoke Article II, Section 5D of its Bylaws to fill this vacancy.  At the Society’s September 11 Board Meeting, Walter Boyes, an Illinois SF writer, technologist, futurist, and fan, was selected to fill the open seat.  As a Board appointment, Walt is required to stand for a ratification vote in the 2018 Society elections.

At the same September 11 Board Meeting, Society officers Dr. Keith Kato of California, Geo Rule of Minnesota, and John Tilden of Maryland, were retained as President, Vice President-Secretary, and Treasurer respectively.  Keith Kato stated this would be his last year in office.  The remainder of the new Board, by seniority, is Joe Haldeman, John Seltzer, Elizabeth Wilcox, Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland, Dr. Beatrice Kondo, and Walter Boyes.

[Thanks to Keith Kato for the story.]

Heinlein Society Awards Scholarships

The Heinlein Society marked Robert A. Heinlein’s birthday (July 7) by announcing the 2017 winners of its Heinlein Society Scholarships.

Three winners were selected from a record field of 163 applicants — almost twice as many as last year.

  • Alec Jobbins – Alec is attending U.C. Berkley in California as a sophomore, majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Biomedical Engineering. In addition to his numerous academic honors, Alec is also a four-time Junior Olympian and state champion in slalom ski racing. He hopes “… to develop new technologies such as biocompatible prostheses and micro-implants that will improve the lives of patients.”
  • Lydia Pscholka – Lydia is this year’s winner of the “Virginia Heinlein Memorial Scholarship”. She will be attending the University of Colorado Boulder as a sophomore, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. She has been very active with various community service organizations. Among her career goals, she wants to “… make jet fuels and rocket fuels more environmentally safe.”
  • Emma Riedi – Emma is enrolled at Bemidji State University in Minnesota as a freshman. Her major is Environmental Studies with an Emphasis in Environmental Health and Toxicology. She credits a PBS special for inspiring her towards a career choice that will allow her to combine her love of the outdoors with her desire to make a positive impact on the world.

The other top ten finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Cameron Angulo
  • Alexandra Barletta-Chacon
  • Markika Fox
  • Markisha Fuller
  • Charles Hanson
  • Priyanka Koratpallikar
  • Courtney Nieto

The three winners will receive $1,250 each, an increase of 25% over last year. Society President Keith Kato adds, “All of the Top-10 finishers will receive a certificate which, we hope, can be used as a ‘letter of recommendation’ if not egoboo.”

The 2017 selection committee was chaired by THS past president Michael Sheffield, and consisted of Dr. Pauline Bennett, Dr. Marie Guthrie, Dr. Keith Kato, Dr. Beatrice Kondo, Geo Rule, and Elizabeth Wilcox.