Snapshots 21: Old Enough to Drink

Fourteen developments of interest to fans:

(1) Andrew Porter contends aliens are here, taking our luggage as souvenirs of Earth. Whatever the reason, Britain’s Air Transport Users Council says:

More than 40 million bags were misplaced by airlines in 2007. Of those more than 1 million pieces of luggage were irretrievably lost.

(2) Classic satire: Aigamemnon (A Fragment) by Kieran Healy:

Citizens of Argos, you Elders present here, I shall not be ashamed to confess in your presence my fondness for my CEO, billions of dollars of losses notwithstanding….

(3) Booksonmars recently excerpted Samuel R. Delany’s thoughts about Red Planet juvies.

(4) James Hay told the ConDor list: “Here is a web page devoted to the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, a children’s playset which included four different radioactive materials! You gotta love the fifties!” Holy glow-in-the-dark cow…

(5) I’ve got to see Harvard Beats Yale 29-29. Here’s a line from the LA Times review:

Particularly compelling is the story of Harvard backup quarterback Frank Champi, who came into the game to try to get the offense moving and ended up engineering one of the great college comebacks. Champi’s Boston accent was so thick, his teammates couldn’t understand the first play he called. “Forty-one on one,” came out as “fowty-wordy on whad.”

In the end, Champi would be a worthy match for his Yale counterpart, Brian Dowling, who is best known today as the helmet-wearing B.D. character in “Doonesbury” (classmate Garry Trudeau had already begun drawing the strip in the Yale Daily News).

(6) A Canadian filmmaker plans to install a mini camera in his prosthetic eye to make documentaries and raise awareness about surveillance in society.

Rob Spence, 36, who lost an eye in an accident as a teenager, said his so-called Project Eyeborg is to have the camera, a battery, and a wireless transmitter mounted on a tiny circuit board.

(7) After reading a post at Armageddon Online, David Klaus thought, “It may be that Gene Roddenberry’s conjecture (the Star Trek Hypothesis, if you will) about the number of Earth-like planets in the galaxy might be correct.”

There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US conference has heard.

Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple lifeforms.

(8) Publishers Weekly reports that Beacon Press will publish a graphic adaptation of the late Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred.

(9) If Ghostbusters can make me associate New York with Armageddon, why the skepticism about the makers of “Kings” being able to pass the city off as another locale in the Bible?

Imagine you’re scouting locations for a television series, a biblical allegory that unfolds in a contemporary monarchy. The script calls for a clean, new capital “unspoiled by time or litter,” modern with a touch of Renaissance Revival, “a city to make you believe in magic.”

Would you ever choose New York City?

(10) When the flying car finally arrived, I wasn’t expecting there to be any doubt that it could stay aloft longer than the first Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk!

Logging 37 seconds in the air, a prototype of a flying car completed its first test flight earlier this month in upstate New York.

(11) Borg version 0.1?

A Finnish programmer who lost his finger in a motorcycle accident has now replaced it with a prosthetic finger that has a USB drive built in.

(12) A co-founder of the Sci Fi Channel is grumpy that they changed the name.

Before the Sci Fi Channel launched, Isaac Asimov (a member of the Sci Fi Channel’s Board of Advisors along with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Laurie and I presented the concept of a 24-hour cable TV network dedicated to science fiction to a packed room of SF writers at the Science Fiction Writers of America meeting…. I was booed.

Then Isaac started to speak and said that the name had to be Sci Fi Channel and not the SF Channel in order to draw a wide, diverse audience and be successful. To be in a financial position to acquire and produce the best programming. That’s really what counts, right? The writers came around and agreed. Heck, it was Isaac Asimov saying “Sci Fi Channel” was OK, and that was that.

(13) Remember, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of petty minds:

Neil Gaiman may have turned down his Hugo Award nomination for Anansi Boys(2005) in 2006, but he’s game this time with his recent recognition for The Graveyard Book (2008, both HarperCollins)…

In a blog post from 2006, Gaiman explained why he withdrew his work from consideration for the Hugo, writing, “I suppose partly I did it because I have three Hugos already, and I felt it was better to get more names on the ballot that weren’t mine, and partly because I think I feel more comfortable when the things of mine that get Hugo nominations are marginally closer to SF than to pure fantasy.”

This year is different “because it’s really astonishingly nice company to be in,” Gaiman wrote.

(14) Terrence Rafferty, author of the New York Times review of Alien Trespass, once upon a time was Terry Rafferty, Pat LoBrutto’s assistant on the Doubleday SF line:

It’s not just the weird extraterrestrial creatures running amok on Earth, sneaking up on decent, hard-working, small-town folks and reducing them to puddles of goo; we’re used to that. It isn’t even the aliens’ shiny spaceships, with their inexplicably powerful thrust and sinister but somehow festive blinking lights. What feels galactically remote in “Alien Trespass,” and in the half-century-old movies it evokes, is the people, the “ordinary” human beings whose existence is so direly imperiled by superior intelligences from far, far away.

[Thanks to David Klaus, Andrew Porter, John Mansfield and James Hay for the links used in this story.]

Boldly Going Where You’ve Gone Before

You might not see the new Star Trek movie before May 8, but Paramount knows you’re going to love it. That’s why they’re already at work on the sequel.

Variety reports Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof are writing the screenplay for the next Trek movie. Paramount is aiming for a 2011 release. J. J. Abrams and Bryan Burk will produce, but no decision has been made on whether Abrams will repeat as director.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

UK Corflu in 2010

Corflu Cobalt will take place March 19-21, 2010 in Winchester, England. The bid was accepted at the recent Corflu in Seattle. Rob Jackson will chair. The Winchester Hotel will host the con.

Attending membership is £40 UK or $55 US til 31 May 2009; this includes the Sunday banquet. Supporting membership is £10 UK or $15 US. Paypal registration will be available soon. Until then, send memberships to Corflu Cobalt, 45 Kimberley Gardens, London N41LD, UK. (UK cheques payable to Pat Charnock.) US Agent: Robert Lichtman, 11037 Broadway Terrace, Oakland, CA 94611-1948, USA. (US checks payable to Robert.)

In addition to chair Rob Jackson the committee includes Pat Charnock (memberships), Graham Charnock (programme), John N. Hall (treasurer), and Linda Krawecke (hotel liaison). You can contact the con by e-mail at

More on Sohus Grand Jury

A Los Angeles County grand jury looking at the 1986 disappearance of LASFSians Linda and John Sohus are expected to hear from two handwriting specialists about the authenticity of a postcard from Europe purportedly signed by Linda Sohus, received by sf bookstore owner after she had vanished. The Boston Globe reports:

Prosecutors reviving the case have subpoenaed Katherine Koppenhaver, a handwriting analyst who has testified in more than 350 cases….

Last summer, The Pasadena Star-News contacted Koppenhaver and two other handwriting analysts to examine one of the Paris postcards and compare it with a known sample of Linda Sohus’s writing from late 1984. Koppenhaver and another analyst concluded that the postcard they examined was written by someone else. A third analyst, however, believed that both writing samples were from Sohus…

Koppenhaver said yesterday that she gave verbal, not written, findings for the newspaper story. But she reiterated that the known Linda Sohus writing sample and the postcard were written by different people….

Koppenhaver and the dissenting analyst have been subpoenaed in the case. The third specialist contacted by the Pasadena newspaper, Karl Schaffenberger, could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Sheila Lowe, a handwriting analyst from Ventura, Calif., said she mailed prosecutors written findings, including a chart prepared for the Star-News. The different writing samples contained many similar features, suggesting they were written by the same person, she said. “That’s something I’d feel comfortable going to court and testifying in.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]

Nolan, Johnson Sign in Glendale

 William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson William F. Nolan, Sea J, George Clayton Johnson

John King Tarpinian snapped these photos of William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson during their appearance at Mystery and Imagination Bookshop in Glendale, CA on March 28.

The picture on the left shows the duo holding up Bill’s early birthday gift to George. On the right, Bill and George flank “Sea J,” Erv Kirshner’s assistant videographer.