You deserve a bigger one, but let’s pretend this Scroll came out on time!
(1) FANGRRLS INTERVIEWS KOWAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SYFY Wire’s Fangrrls column keeps dropping posts, in this case an interview with an author I had the honor of meeting at the late Con†Stellation in Huntsville AL (“Space the Nation: Mary Robinette Kowal on astronauts, social justice and needing glasses”). Being a geek, I was intrigued at the way she uses spreadsheets in her writing (though that was probably only the third or fourth most interesting thing in the interview).
Mary Robinette Kowal’s multi-award-winning “Lady Astronaut” series imagines what the 1950’s space race would have been like if women weren’t just behind-the-scenes “calculators” (like the heroines of “Hidden Figures”), but center-stage mission members. If you’ve grown up in an era where female astronauts are not that all remarkable, maybe this doesn’t seem like much of a twist. But consider what Kowal has to do to make such an alternate history plausible: She smashes an asteroid into the East Coast of the United States, an extinction-level event that both transforms the space race into an attempt to colonize Mars and radically reduces the number of men available to work on this ambitious project — meaning that female astronauts are needed for both their bodies and their brains.
[…]FANGRRLS: How explicitly are you thinking about modern-day politics when you’re putting these stories together?
KOWAL: Pretty explicitly. These two books were odd because I wrote them before Trump. So, writing a book in which I slam an asteroid into Washington, DC is very different before Trump than after Trump. I went on a book tour for the book before this, Ghost Talkers, and my first tour date was election day. And what I usually do is read a chapter out loud from the next book. So, election day. I read the first chapter…
FANGRRLS: The slamming asteroid chapter?
KOWAL: I read the slamming asteroid chapter. And it’s fine. Because at this point, the results are not in yet. The day after that, I read it again and the audience has a completely different reaction. It was just — it was so uncomfortable and different. And I just didn’t read it for the rest of the tour.
(2) WIRED’S PICKS FOR BEST COMICS OF LAST YEAR. Wired talks about what they consider “The Best Comics of 2018— From Sabrina to Crowded.”
Each year, more comics hit the shops than any one person could ever read. And while the splashy superhero titles are (somewhat) easier to keep up with, finding all of the great hidden gems each year is tough. We’re here to help. Below, just in time for you to spend the holiday break catching up, are some of the best books of 2018. We say some of the best because we’re not mentioning titles that have appeared in previous year-end wrap-ups—like, say, DC’s Mister Miracle, which would have appeared otherwise—nor are we including books that have only just launched, which explains the absence of Vertigo’s Goddess Mode. But enough about what didn’t make the cut—let’s look at the books that did. And the best part? Some are continuing titles, which means you’ve got more to look forward to in 2019.
The comics discussed in the rest of the article include:
- Sabrina (Drawn & Quarterly)
- Immortal Hulk (Marvel)
- Woman World (Drawn & Quarterly)
- Beneath the Dead Oak Tree(ShortBox)
- Crowded (Image Comics)
(3) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born January 1, 1954 – Midori Snyder, 65. I was most impressed with The Flight of Michael McBride, the Old West meet Irish myth story and hannah’s garden, a creepy tale of the fey and folk music. She’s seems to have been inactive for a decade now. Anyone know why?
- Born January 1, 1957 — Christopher Moore, 62. One early novel by him, Coyote Blue, is my favorite, but anything by him is always a weirdly entertaining read. I’m hearing good things about Noir, his newest work. Has anyone read it?
- Born January 1, 1976 – Sean Wallace, 43. Anthologist, editor, and publisher known for his work on Prime Books and for co-editing three magazines, Clarkesworld Magazine which I love, The Dark, and Fantasy Magazine which is another fav of mine. He won an impressive three Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. His People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy with Rachel Swirsky is highly recommended.
(4) GET STARTED DECORATING THE SET IN LA.
(5) NEW SPACEPLANE. Another spacecraft manufacturer is looking to start cargo runs to the International Space Station in the near future (ScienceAlert: “NASA Just Cleared The “Dream Chaser” Space Cargo Plane For Full-Scale Production”). The Dream Chaser had originally been conceived as a crewed vehicle, but was repurposed after it lost out on the commercial crew program to Boeing and SpaceX. The winged craft is projected to have payload capacities of 5,500 kg up to the ISS and 1,850 kg down.
Watch out space, there’s a new commercial cargo carrier entering the race.
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been given the go ahead from NASA to begin full-scale production of its “Dream Chaser” commercial space cargo plane.
Scheduled to make its first mission in 2020, the company announced on December 18 that it had cleared the last milestone in its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract.
Now the company is able to move ahead with the full-scale production of the carrier which will be used to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
BRAINS CONNECTED. Science Alert: “Brains of 3 People Have Been Successfully Connected, Enabling Them to Share Thoughts”
Neuroscientists have successfully hooked up a three-way brain connection to allow three people to share their thoughts – and in this case, play a Tetris-style game.
The team thinks this wild experiment could be scaled up to connect whole networks of people, and yes, it’s as weird as it sounds.
It works through a combination of electroencephalograms (EEGs), for recording the electrical impulses that indicate brain activity, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), where neurons are stimulated using magnetic fields.
The researchers behind the system have dubbed it BrainNet, and say it could eventually be used to connect many different minds together, even across the web.
But apart from opening up strange new methods of communication, BrainNet could actually teach us more about how the human brain functions on a deeper level.
Preprint of the paper: “BrainNet: A Multi-Person Brain-to-Brain Interface for Direct Collaboration Between Brains”.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]