2011 Worldcon Rates Rise in October

Most attending memberships in Renovation, the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention, will cost more on October 1, 2010. The new rates will be:

  • Full adult attending memberships: $180
  • Converting a supporting membership to an attending membership: $130
  • Family rates: $460
  • Friend of the Reno Bid Conversion from supporting to attending: $90

The full press release follows the jump.

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Van Name to Donate Hardback Income

Mark Van Name will be giving 100% of his proceeds from hardcover sales of Children No More (Baen) to Falling Whistles, a charity that helps rehabilitate and reintegrate child soldiers in the Congo. The novel’s official release date is August 3.

For more information about this promise, visit www.childrennomore.com. To learn more about the subject of child soldiers and Falling Whistles’ work, visit http://fallingwhistles.com.

The full press release follows the jump.

[Thanks to Laura Haywood-Cory for the story.] Continue reading

Sand Running Out of Hugo Voting Hourglass

The Hugo Awards voting deadline is fast approaching!

All ballots must be received by this highly scientific deadline: Saturday, July 31 2010 23:59 PDT; (Sunday, August 1, 2010 02:59 EDT, 06:59 UTC/GMT, 16:59 AEST). 

This is also your last chance to download the 2010 Hugo Voter Packet: a collection of ebooks, art, and excerpts made available to voters by the nominees and their publishers. The packet will cease to be available after the voting deadline.

Ray Bradbury at Comic Con 41

By John King Tarpinian: I will never stop feeling the love people give to Ray Bradbury at such events. I’ve said it before but again having people of all ages stopping in their tracks and going wide-eyed or misty-eyed when they see Ray never ceases to amaze and delight me. Fathers telling their sons about the first time they read “The Veldt.” People just shouting out “I Love You Ray.” One young woman was visibly shaking and crying, tears of sheer joy, when she was brought before Ray to sign her well read tattered book. Many of us welled up for her joy.

When Ray was with Jerry Robinson there was a young woman who walked by wearing a spot-on Harley Quinn costume made of body hugging spandex and latex. Being the helpful person that I am I went up to her to say that the man with the beard is the creator of her boyfriend. I got a blank stare (something I usually deserve). I went on to tell her that he created, The Joker. A light bulb never went on for her…the poor dear. I can only say I tried.

Ray’s favorite part of Comic Con is the Old School stuff, the only booths that have been around for the 41 years of the Con, the comic books and the Artist’s Alley, which is where he spent most of his time on the floor. Many old friends of his were there, Stan Freberg, Jerry Robinson and William Stout, among others.

At just a few weeks shy of 90, Ray still can fill a 2,000 seat theater…being a living legend helps. Ray received the obligatory standing ovation when he went on stage. He gave a lovely speech that he has had many years to perfect with Sam Weller filling in minutiae. The Q&A proved that Ray still has a quip or two left. At the end of his talk he received a very spontaneous concert of Happy Birthday from the crowd.

After the lecture Ray and Sam signed for about an hour. Before he left for a well deserved dinner and long ride back home he made one final tour of the Artist’s Alley to say good-bye to his old friends.

Photo captions: (1) Ray with Jerry Robinson, noted Batman illustrator and creator of The Joker; (2) On Stage: Arnold Kunert, Sam Weller and Ray; (3) Frank Ley and Bill Stout: The producer/director of the just released DVD, Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis and noted dinosaur artist William Stout; (4) Big Screen: What people at the back of the hall enjoyed. (5) Signing: Sylvia Mancini, Sam Weller, Ray, Patrick Heffernan (manager of Mysterious Galaxy). Photos by John King Tarpinian.

The Frugal Alien

Gregory Benford outside the UCI observatory.

Searchers for extraterrestrial intelligence have spent years listening for continuous, structured signals being punched through interstellar space by a civilization lavishly investing energy and technology in an attempt to contact its neighbors.

But what if the alien scientists running this project were on a budget — just like their human counterparts? They’d have to take a more economical approach.

That’s why future researchers will probably be looking for “Benford beacons.”

Astrophysicist and SF writer Greg Benford, his brother Jim — a physicist specializing in high-powered microwave technology — and Jim’s son Dominic, a NASA scientist, contributed two studies to the June issue of Astrobiology . They propose that an alien civilization striving to optimize costs and make its signaling technology more efficient, would prefer signals that are pulsed, narrowly directed and broadband in the 1-to-10-gigahertz range.

“Omnidirectional beacons are big-time and expensive, but easily noticed,”says James Benford. “But we haven’t seen any, so the observational test result is that they don’t exist.”

“Which is a problem for SETI,” writes Astronomy Now contributor Keith Cooper, because —

many of our detectors are designed to spot exactly these kinds of signals, rather than the shorter beacons. The characteristics of Benford Beacons are a short duration and a rapid revisit time. All they have to do is pique our curiosity and, once detected, we may study the location of the beacon with more scrutiny to try and detect the real message content in the form of a fainter, lower power signal. So we’re searching for what may appear at first glance to be transient radio pulses, and we’ve found plenty of these.

Cooper speculates, “Maybe when we finally open our ears to Benford Beacons, we’ll be surprised to find that everybody has been yelling at us all along.”

[Thanks to Dan Goodman for the story.]

No Parties Please, We’re Marriott

If you’re staying in the Marriott Raleigh City Center Hotel during the 2010 NASFiC (ReConStruction) you won’t be hosting a party. Nope. No way. Not allowed.

With the convention less than 2 weeks away, fans planning hospitality events have been informed that that the Marriott, as a corporate entity, has a strict “no party” rule. I didn’t know about it, but this actually is not a recent development. A Google search shows the chain’s customers have been encountering the policy for several years. A defender commented:

[This] type of policy is put in place to ensure guest comfort and hopefully communicate to every guest that the hotel is concerned about making their stay more enjoyable and peaceful – not to insinuate any distrust in the ‘average’ guest. No hotels want to have parties in them – we don’t need/want that type of business. That is what we sell meeting/banquet rooms for.

So what to do? Fans are being told that the Marriott does allow “Meet and Greets.” Meaning, no loud music. No hanging out in hallways.  Go inside and shut the door.

Definitely do not post any flyers about having a “party” in your room or security may come by and shut down your “Meet and Greet.”

According to the ReConStruction website they’re also using a Sheraton, but evidently the official cluster of “Meet and Greet” suites is in the Marriott.

So…Meet-and-Greet like it’s 1999?

Hugo Analysis in Drink Tank

Chris Garcia and James Bacon have created a magnificent Drink Tank theme issue about the Hugo Novels. The 37-page fanzine is rich with thoughts and comments on the category’s history and this year’s nominees in particular. It boasts contributions from Michael Moorcock (reprinted from The Guardian), Cory Doctrow (from BoingBoing) , Niall Harrison, Paul Kincaid and Peter Weston. But you may agree that the liveliest parts are those written by Chris and James themselves.

Click here to read Drink Tank #252 (PDF file).

2010 Mythopoeic Award Winners

The winners of the 2010 Mythopoeic Society Awards were announced on July 11 at Mythcon 41 in Dallas.

Fantasy Awards, Adult Literature

Jo Walton, Lifelode (NESFA Press)

Fantasy Awards, Children’s Literature

Grace Lin, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown)

Scholarship Awards, Inklings Studies

Dimitra Fimi, Tolkien, Race, and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Scholarship Awards, Myth and Fantasy Studies

Marek Oziewicz, One Earth, One People: The Mythopoeic Fantasy Series of Ursula K. Le Guin, Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L’Engle and Orson Scott Card (McFarland, 2008)

Also presented at the awards banquet was the first Alexei Kondratiev Student Paper Award. Named for the popular Mythopoeic scholar who passed away earlier this year, the award is given for a paper read at the conference. The winner was Michael Millburn for “Art According to Romantic Theology: Charles Williams’ Analysis of Dante Reapplied to J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Leaf By Niggle’.”

Update 07/12/2010: Two of the acceptance messages from absent winners were especially memorable. Jo Walton has posted her wonderful verse here. And I hope that Mythprint will run the text of Marek Oziewicz’ message about the meaning Narnia and such books had for him growing up in Poland at a time when Marek’s father, a Solidarity activist, was jailed and their home searched by police.

Texas Calling

This has been a hectic, hyperfannish week for me, bookended by Westercon in Pasadena and Mythcon in Dallas. I think it’s the first time I’ve attended conventions on consecutive weekends — somehow I never needed to, unlike some veteran worldcon bidders I could name.

Diana, Sierra and I are together at Mythcon 41. And I’m posting this just after we all participated in a reader’s theater organized by David Bratman to reprise one of Charles Williams’ Amen House masques. Sierra, age 8, did a great job as The Manuscript. Emily Rauscher, who originated that role at a long-ago Mythcon, was cast this time as Master Librarian. (So how long ago was that Mythcon? Well, Emily was probably in high school then, and this year she’s a newly-minted Ph.D.)  Bernie Phillips Bratman and David were stellar as those rival managers Alexis and Dorinda. Diana took the narrator’s role while I was gruff Colin.

More about Mythcon tomorrow.