Bruce Murray (1931-2013)

Bruce Murray

Bruce Murray

Planetary Society co-founder, Dr. Bruce Murray died from the progressive effects of Alzheimer’s Disease on August 29. He was 81.

Murray was formerly Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, guiding JPL during the Viking landings on Mars, through Voyager’s encounters at Jupiter and Saturn, to the start of Galileo to Jupiter and Magellan to Venus.

Together with Carl Sagan, he created an organization designed to demonstrate to politicians that backing planetary exploration would bring them voter support. Murray and Sagan directed the Society together for 16 years, and after Sagan’s death, and Murray took over as president for another 5 years.

See the Society website for the obituary by Charlene Anderson and Executive Director Emeritus Louis Friedman.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Hugo Multiplication Tabled

An impassioned march on the Worldcon Business Meeting is expected Friday morning to make sure no Hugos are subtracted. Then, depending on how much of the agenda survives the preliminary meeting, members may get a chance on Saturday to play Santa by adding two new Hugos and radically expanding eligibility for another.

For the third consecutive year voters will be asked to create a YA Hugo category. This time called Best Youth Book, the Hugo would be given to “a science fiction or fantasy book published in the previous calendar year for young adults, middle readers, or children.”

The 2012 motion to create a Best Young Adult Fiction Hugo failed 51-67, however, losing a relatively close vote represented an improvement from the year before when the YA Hugo motion never made it to the floor, being disposed of by a vote to object to consideration.

Attendees of this year’s Business Meeting will also be invited to further subdivide the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo by adding a category for short length works.

Proposed by Eemeli Aro and seconded by James Bacon, John Coxon, and Jesi Pershing, this new Hugo would be given to a “video, audio recording or other production, with a complete running time of less than 15 minutes, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects.”

They say an extra category will “provide a more even ground for the promotion and popularization of both more and less professional short films, filk songs, commercials, and even acceptance speeches” which are now being overwhelmed by episodes of TV shows.

The existing Long Form category would continue to cover work more than 90 minutes in length, but be renamed “Best Dramatic Presentation, Feature Length Long Form.” The Short Form category would become “Best Dramatic Presentation, Mid-Length Short Form” and cover works 15 to 90 minutes in length.

Lastly, Joshua Kronengold and Lisa Padol want to transform the Best Fan Artist Hugo into something that can also be won by “musical, dance, jewelry and costuming artists.”

The new eligibility definition would be — “An artist or cartoonist working in any visual or performance medium whose work has appeared through publication in semiprozines or fanzines or through other public, non-professional, display (including at a convention or conventions) during the previous calendar year.”

Illustrators and cartoonists appearing in fanzines and semiprozines would remain eligible. Kronengold and Padol, in a commentary, say animators and artists working in special effects would also be eligible. But the motion’s fate could depend on wooing votes from costumers and filkers onsite at LSC3. Saturday is also the day of the masquerade, so costumers might need to juggle the demands on their schedules if they want to vote for the change.

Glitter & Mayhem Launches at Worldcon

glitter SMALLApex Publications will launch Glitter & Mayhem, an anthology dedicated to Roller Derby, nightclubs, glam aliens, (literal) party monsters, drugs, sex, glitter, and debauchery, at a skating party during LoneStarCon 3.

The 120,000 word, 346-page anthology originated as an idea on Twitter and with was funded through Kickstarter, with fans chipping in nearly $16,000 for a chance to read the stories promised by Seanan McGuire, Alan DeNiro, Amal El-Mohtar, Daryl Gregory, Damien Walters Grintalis, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kat Howard, Jennifer Pelland, Tim Pratt, Cat Rambo, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Diana Rowland, Sofia Samatar, David J. Schwartz, and William Shunn.

The edition is introduced by Amber Benson and contains 19 original short stories and a novella by Seanan McGuire set in her InCryptid universe.

The official book launch takes place Saturday, August 31 at the San Antonio Rollercade from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. Meet and skate with Glitter & Mayhem’s editors John Klima, Lynne M. Thomas, & Michael Damian Thomas, cover artist Galen Dara, and authors Rachel Swirsky, Maurice Broaddus, Cat Rambo, Daryl Gregory, and Vylar Kaftan. Admission is $11. (Regular skate rental included.)

Copies of Glitter & Mayhem are available at Larry Smith Books in the Worldcon Dealers’ Room.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Snapshots 118 Freeway Granada Hills

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans.

(1) A new Batman? OMG! Or maybe not. Josh Gad says all that really needs to be said about this internet-shaking development in his piece for USA Today:

Yesterday, I came out of my bunker after being in seclusion for five days. With nothing but mace, a half gallon of water and a butter knife, I ventured outside to witness the apocalypse. To my surprise, the world looked surprisingly similar to the way I left it. The storefronts were still intact. Cars were not on fire. Miley Cyrus was continuing to go through her “transformation.” Whether by some miracle or just good old-fashioned divine intervention, everyone from the prairies of the Midwest to the coasts of the Far East, survived the worst potential crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis: the decision to make Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt, aka Ben Affleck, the next Batman.

(2) Playing StarCraft can boost problem solving and creative thinking abilities according to a study reported in the Wall Street Journal —

Participants in the research were assigned to one of three groups. Two groups engaged in different versions of StarCraft, where players fight for control of a territory, and a third played The Sims, a slower-paced game where users manage a simulated household. Each played video games for roughly an hour a day for six to eight weeks.

Researchers found that in subsequent psychological tests, volunteers who played the most complex version of StarCraft were the quickest and most accurate in their responses.

StarCraft can require players to recall multiple fact sets simultaneously to make quick adjustments, particularly in early base-building strategy decisions and in high-intensity confrontations. Professional players can engage in hundreds of actions per minute as they decide where to build and expand and what their opponents may do in response.

Sounds great. Now tell me, what’s the real-life payoff? Producing optimum widget-makers? Quicker cold callers for boiler room businesses? There’s an answer they can work on in the next study.

(3) Wait! Maybe they’ll make perfect employees for the burgeoning drone industry. The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s annual gathering at the Washington Convention Center brought together 8,000 participants from 40 different countries.

Most delegates said they were focused on generating new business from unmanned technology systems, promoting diverse use on farms, firefighting and law enforcement, security and surveillance.

The industry got a huge boost when the Federal Aviation Administration said last year it would allow drones to join civilian airspace once a regulatory framework was in place.

Up to 10,000 unmanned craft could be flying in U.S. airspace within five years.

(4) Forty years ago – on August 17, 1974 – the Rocky Horror Show was transplanted to Broadway. Lots of photos and clips here, spanning the show’s history from Tim Curry to Glee.

Yes, indeed, there is something unmistakably unique and oddly alluring about the tale of two all-American teens on the day of their nuptials who come upon a castle straight out of Hammer horror – complete with the far-out cast of characters contained within; many of them actually coming from another universe entirely (as we eventually come to find out) – and proceed to go on a journey testing limits probably neither one of them were ever aware even existed; moral, sexual and even planetary.

(5) Joss Whedon is constantly dropping reminders that he’s a trufan at heart. Like this complaint about the ending of Empire Strikes Back in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

“Well, it’s not an ending,” Whedon explained about the 1980 film, which had a cliffhanger leading into the next entry of the series, Return of the Jedi. “It’s a Come Back Next Week, or in three years. And that upsets me. I go to movies expecting to have a whole experience. If I want a movie that doesn’t end I’ll go to a French movie. That’s a betrayal of trust to me. A movie has to be complete within itself, it can’t just build off the first one or play variations.”

(6) On Ray Bradbury’s 92nd birthday Mental Floss listed 10 things you should know about the legendary sf writer.

1. Most teenagers get a first job sacking groceries or slinging burgers. At the age of 14, Ray Bradbury got himself a job writing for George Burns and Gracie Allen’s radio show.

“I went down on Figueroa Street in front of the Figueroa Playhouse,” Bradbury said. “I saw George Burns outside the front of the theater. I went up to him and said, ‘Mr. Burns, you got your broadcast tonight don’t you?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘You don’t have an audience in there do you?’ He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Will you take me in and let me be your audience?’ So he took me in and put me in the front row, and the curtain went up, and I was in the audience for Burns and Allen. I went every Wednesday for the broadcast and then I wrote shows and gave them to George Burns. They only used one—but they did use it, it was for the end of the show.”

(7) Many journalists have visited the LASFS over the decades and tried their level best to describe it based on the alternately earnest, self-aggrandizing and just plain wacky stuff people unload on them in the course of an evening. Ariane Lange’s article for Buzzfeed is by far the best ever because she decided to report about that experience itself, thereby creating a much richer portrait of the club’s characters.

The head librarian’s name Warren Johnson, but here he is Whisky (“If you’re gonna spell Whisky, make sure you spell it the Scotch way without the ‘e,’” Pincus told me in the library). Later that night, Whisky poured out glasses of beer for the people hanging around his desk in the library.

Johnson explained that taking the library position was strategic. “I’ll never get dragged into (higher office),” he said, facing president Poliner.

(8) General Mills has announced the return of its legendary Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy cereals after decades in hiatus. Reports io9 —

This Halloween, both cereals will be on-sale alongside the traditional cereal monsters Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry.

Fruit Brute, a Froot Loop-y cereal with fake-lime-flavored fake-marshmallows, was discontinued back in 1983. It was replaced five years later by Yummy Mummy, which was almost exactly the same thing but with fake-vanilla-flavored fake-marshmallows, and whose curse was lifted from the cereal aisle in 1993.

(9) Trekcetera is the newest attraction in Vulcan, Alberta. Opened this month, it displays original Star Trek costumes, props and set pieces.

Vulcan has come a long way since it hosted its first Trek convention in 1992 and tickets were sold by the town’s funeral director —

It was all so new that people who wanted to buy tickets had to call Wisener — at the funeral home. He remembers answering the phone and often being greeted by “this big silence on the other end.”

Now known as “Spock Days,” the convention is the time of year when you might see Klingons walking down Vulcan’s streets — “other than that, we’re quite normal,” Dirks said. The festival also allows the town’s one hotel and two motels to lure guests with creative amenities, such as a “deluxe intergalactic breakfast!”

In 1995, officials unveiled the “Star Ship FX6-1995-A,” a 9-foot tall, 5-ton replica of the USS Enterprise, near the town’s entrance. Three years later, the Vulcan Tourism & Trek Station — a tourist information center shaped like a spaceship — opened its doors to the public.

Vulcan was declared the Official Star Trek Capital of Canada in 2009.

(10) They’ll be showing 35 classic 3-D movies at World 3-D Expo III

Actress Piper Laurie (Hud), Lea Thompson (Back To The Future), Barbara Rush (Peyton Place) and producer Walter Mirisch (the Pink Panther films) are among guests scheduled to attend The World 3-D Film Expo III, September 6-15, 2013, at the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The ten-day festival will pay tribute to the 60th anniversary of what many film historians regard as the “Golden Age” of 3-D. The Opening Night Screening of John Wayne’s only 3-D movie Hondo on Friday, September 6th will feature a Guest Q&A with Wayne’s daughter-in-law, Gretchen Wayne of Batjac Productions, about the restoration of the film.

I never knew John Wayne made a 3-D film!

(11) And we’ll close on a Worldcon-themed item… about Susan and Jeff Stringer, a match made in the masquerade followed by a professional career in costuming.

People come to the shop from all over the Southeast to make sure to have unique and well-made costumes. Susan sews most of them herself. She and Jeff have won several awards for grand master costuming.

“I was engaged to someone before I met my husband and I had wanted to do a Beauty and the Beast pair of costumes for a science fiction convention, but he would have none of it. He said, ‘I don’t dress up’ and I thought, ‘Well, this is not going to last’,” Susan laughs.

In 1986, when she met her husband Jeff, he liked the idea so Susan made the costumes and they wore them to ‘Worldcon’ – the World Science Fiction Convention in Atlanta. Worldcon is one of the biggest science fiction conventions held for over 71 years and giving the illustrious ‘Hugo’ award.

The Stringers won ‘best in class’ for novice that year, as that was the first Worldcon they had attended.

[Thanks for these stories goes out to Steven H Silver, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, David Klaus, James H. Burns and Andrew Porter.]

Update 08/28/2013:

Where Is The Love?

The SFWA Blog proudly announces “some of us are bucking the trend and going to Dragon*Con”. Oh, you rebels. 

Several notable SFWAns will be in Atlanta. SFWA also advertises where its table will be, managed by SFWA Communications Director Jaym Gates, and links to Dragon*Con’s guest list and schedule.

The same post starts with a throwaway line, “While many SFWA members are at WorldCon in San Antonio this weekend….” that hints at the organization’s much larger presence there. It’s even holding an official meeting at the con on Saturday. But the SFWA Blog has never promoted its members’ participation at LSC3 in any way.

In fact, the SFWA blog has only linked to the LoneStarCon 3 site one time ever — in 2011 on the day San Antonio won the site selection vote.

2013 SF Translation Award Winners

The 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Award winners have been announced.

Long Form Winner

Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City by Kai-cheung Dung, translated from the Chinese by Anders Hansson, Bonnie S. McDougall, and the author (Columbia University Press)

Short Form Winner

“Augusta Prima” by Karin Tidbeck translated from the Swedish by the author (Jagannath: Stories, Cheeky Frawg)

[Thoughtfully thieved from SF Site News.]

James Gunn in 1960s

Harlan Ellison and James Gunn.  Photo by and copyright © 2013 Andrew Porter.

Harlan Ellison and James Gunn. Photo by and copyright © 2013 Andrew Porter.

Andrew Porter is on his way to San Antonio to “hobnob with my fellow wizards.” His farewell gift to you is a photo of LoneStarCon 3 Guest of Honor James Gunn, taken on East 40th Street in NYC in the 1960s.

“Snazzy dresser; nice mustache!” says Porter. “Pay no attention to Harlan Ellison, behind him. I hope that photo, plus others I took of other GoHs, will be in the Program Book.”

2013 WSFA Small Press Award Finalists

The Washington Science Fiction Association has announced the finalists for the 2013 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction:

  • “Astrophilia” by Carrie Vaughn, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, edited by Neil Clarke (July 2012).
  • “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu, published in Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams (August 2012).
  • “Bottled Spirits” by Pamela K. Kinney, published in Buzzy Mag, edited by Laura Anne Gilman (June, 2012).
  • “Coca Xocolatl” by Lawrence M. Schoen, published in ReDeus: Divine Tales, edited by Robert Greenberger and Aaron Rosenberg (Crazy Eight Press 2012).
  • “Good Hunting” by Ken Liu, published in Strange Horizons, edited by Brit Mandelo (October 2012).
  • “Mornington Ride” by Jason Nahrung, published in Epilogue, edited by Tehani Wessely (Fablecroft Publishing June 2012).
  • “The Six Million Dollar Mermaid” by Hildy Silverman, published in Mermaids 13: Tales from the Sea, edited by John L. French (Padwolf Publishing Inc. December 2012)

The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction.

All voting is done with the identity of the author and publisher hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction Association and will be presented at their annual convention, Capclave, held this year on October 11-13 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

[Via Locus Online.]

Kramer Trial Date Set

Ed Kramer will go to trial on child molestation charges in December. Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers placed Kramer’s case on the calendar for the weeks of Dec. 2 and 9 reports the Gwinnett Daily Post. Still to be worked out are reasonable accommodations for health issues affecting Kramer’s ability to participate in his defense, which might alter the length of daily court sessions.

Testifying at today’s hearing, Dr. Lloydstone Jacobs, medical director at the GwinnettCounty jail, said Kramer suffers from all of the following —

[P]ain related to a cervical (neck) fusion; Type II diabetes; psoriatic arthritis; hypothyroidism; asthma; COPD, or emphysema; sleep apnea; narcoplepsy; fluid retention in his feet; “moderate to severe” hearing loss; and a recent bout with staph infections. Jacobs said all of the defendant’s issues are being addressed and controlled with medication or other treatments, and that Kramer rarely complains of any side effects from that long list of medications.

Kramer used a walker to enter the courtroom Monday, breathing heavily even with an oxygen tank.

Judge Beyers also heard from the parties about Kramer’s habeas corpus complaint, which argues that the bond conditions implemented upon his release from house arrest in 2008 — particularly, that he not have unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 — were no longer valid because of a 2009 modification. Kramer is still seeking release on bond, which was denied at an earlier hearing.

Edwin Marger, one of Kramer’s attorneys at the time, testified at today’s hearing that the 2009 modification was not meant to nullify the previously agreed upon conditions of bond.

Judge Beyers reserved judgment, giving the parties until Wednesday, August 28, to file their proposed orders on the matter.

[Thanks to Don Cook and Nancy Collins for the story.]