Pixel Scroll 4/16/16 I’m Looking Over A Five-Leaf Clover

(1) HOLD ONTO YOUR KAIJU! Scified says Toho’s Godzilla Resurgence will not be released in North American cinemas.

As it stands currently, it doesn’t look like Toho’s Shin-Gojira (dubbed Godzilla Resurgence for us Westerners) will be making its way to the silver screen in North America this summer. With no mention of a US theater distribution company the chances of fans in the US and Canada seeing Godzilla Resurgence in a theater are extremely low.

The only semi-confirmed distribution company for Shin-Goji in North America seems to be a company called New World Cinemas. The downside is they’ve only listed home entertainment release on DvD for Godzilla Resurgence. The other downside is their projected release date is set in 2017… So, G-Fans over here will need to wait half a year to see Godzilla Resurgence… On DvD. We’re hoping Blu-Ray will also be available, but again, no confirmation.

(2) INKLINGS. John Garth reviews Charles Williams: The Third Inkling by Grevel Lindop in Oxford Today Trinity Term 2016.

“…By the time the narrative reaches the Inklings, we already know Williams as intimately as it is possible to know someone so secretive and strange…”

I review the latest biography of Charles Williams, whose shared times with CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were only one facet of a fascinating and peculiar life.

(3) MARS EXPERIENCE BUS. Fulfilling the vision of Icarus Montgolfier Wright….

Lockheed Martin has launched Generation Beyond, a first of its kind, national educational program to bring the science of space into thousands of homes and classrooms across America. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program is designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers, inventors and pioneers to pursue STEM careers.

Generation Beyond includes a real-life Mars Experience Bus that will travel the country providing student riders with an interactive experience simulating a drive along the red planet’s surface. The Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus is the first immersive virtual reality vehicle ever built and replicates 200 square miles of the Martian surface. The Mars Experience was built with the same software used in today’s most advanced video games.


(4) BACK UP THE TRUCK. Indianapolis’ Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is asking his fans to contribute $775,000 to pay for its move to a larger location.

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library needs $750,000 to pay its first three years of rent at a downtown Indianapolis building which has four times more space than its current location.

Library founder and CEO Julia Whitehead says that money will also help pay to reconfigure that 5,400-square-foot building for expanded programming and to exhibit more of its large collection, much of which remains in storage.

Click here to make an online donation.

(5) THE MAGIC NUMBER FIVE. Cheryl Morgan, in “Some Awards Thoughts”, speculates about how the Hugo Awards’ 5% rule will come into play this year.

…The first thing to note is that the rule is 5% of ballots in that category, not 5% of ballots overall. 5% of 4000 ballots is 200 votes, and that will probably be required in Novel and the Dramatic Presentation categories, but participation in other categories tends to be much lower. In addition, there is a separate rule that says every category must have at least three finalists, regardless of the 5% rule. So no category is going to be wiped out by this…..

My guess is, therefore, that we’ll have a few categories with 3 or 4 finalists this year. We’ll be able to draw some pretty graphs showing how more participation means more variation. And that will be useful because a motion to remove the 5% Rule got first passage in Spokane last year. This data will inform the debate on final ratification….

(6) PRATCHETT MEMORIAL. A year after the writer’s death from Alzheimer’s, a tribute in London drew together fans and friends — “Terry Pratchett memorial: tears, laughter and tantalising new projects” in The Guardian.

…Sir Tony Robinson read Pratchett’s Dimbleby lecture on Alzheimer’s and assisted dying, while the author’s daughter, Rhianna, read the obituary she wrote for the Observer. Dr Patrick Harkin, whose collection of Pratchett ephemera includes an onion pickled by the man himself, appeared alongside Discworld sculptor Bernard Pearson, as well as Pratchett’s publisher, Larry Finlay, and agent, Colin Smythe.

Neil Gaiman flew in from the States to read his introduction to Pratchett’s 2014 non-fiction collection A Slip of the Keyboard, and found himself presented with his friend’s trademark hat. Gaiman, looking a tad thunderstruck, placed it for a moment on his head, but quickly took it off again, saying: “Oh, I don’t dare.”

(7) NEW WAVE IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. C. Derick Varn and Dinesh Raghavendra conduct New Worlds: An Interview with M. John Harrison” at Former People.

Former People Speak: What do make of the direction Science Fiction has headed in since you edited New Worlds and New Wave of Science fiction began?

M. John Harrison: New Worlds and the New Wave were a reflection of the more general cultural changes which went on from the late 1950s to the late 1970s. I think science fiction headed in more than one direction as a response to those changes. Or perhaps better to say that it’s an elastic medium, it was heavily perturbed, and it’s been bouncing around inside its formal limits ever since. There was an immediate reaction against the New Wave in the shape of a Reaganistic “back to the future” movement, but that was soon swamped by the concomitant emergence of left wing, feminist and identity-political sf. Now we see an interesting transition into post-colonialism, intersectionality, and–at last–the recognition by western sf that rest of the world writes science fiction too. These are, like the New Wave, responses to changes in the general cultural context. I enjoyed my time at New Worlds, although by the time I got there all the important work had been done. I enjoyed the New Wave for its technical experiments–even in those, though, it was beginning to reflect the generalised cultural shift to postmodernism (while the science fiction Old Guard hunkered down and grimly dug in its heels against the demons of modernism, fighting the previous generation’s wars, as Old Guards will).


  • Born April 16, 1921 — Peter Ustinov, who was in lots of things, including Logan’s Run.

(9) THE 100 ANGERS LGBT FANS. Washington Post writer Bethonie Butler says after Lexa, an openly lesbian character (played by Alycia Debnam-Carey) died on an episode of The 100, a lot of fans of the show vented, although the venting led, among other things, to raising a large amount of money tor the Trevor Project, which runs a suicide hotline for LGBT teens — “TV keeps killing off lesbian characters. The fans of one show have revolted”.

Many fans have stopped watching the show and have redirected their energy to Twitter and Tumblr to vent their frustrations. During the episode following Lexa’s death, fans tweeted with the trending topic LGBT Fans Deserve Better, which has since become an international fan-led initiative. As the show returned Thursday after a two-week hiatus, fans tweeted with Bury Tropes Not Us, sending the topic trending nationally. A fundraising effort has raised more than $113,000 for The Trevor Project, an organization that provides a 24-hour toll-free national suicide hotline and other services for LGBT and questioning youths in crisis.

(10) ASK GANNON ANYTHING. Chuck Gannon announced on Facebook he will be taking questions in a live session on Reddit.

For folks who were among my earliest readers (i.e.; Analog folks), and saw the earliest beginnings of my Caine Riordan / Terran Republic over a decade ago (now thrice Nebula nominated), this is the chance to ask some questions about my stories or what’s to come.

I’ll be on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything. April 20, 2 PM, but u can start leaving questions ~ 11AM EDT. & yes, in addition to answering questions about the craft and biz of being an SF/F author, I will spill beans in re my various series. (And particularly Caine Riordan/ Terran Republic.) PLEASE SHARE! And u can enter ur questions as long as u join Reddit (no cost) for just one day. You’ll be able to drop in by going to the front page of /r/books: https://www.reddit.com/r/books/.

(11) FAAn AWARDS VOTING DEADLINE NEARS. There’s just one week left to vote for the FAAn awards for fanzine activity in 2015. The deadline is midnight on Saturday, April 23. Award administrator Claire Brialey reminds —

So if anyone interested in SF fanzines is looking for something else to occupy their time before the Hugo award shortlists are announced, information about categories and voting can still be found at: http://corflu.org/Corflu33/faan2015.html

People don’t need to be members of Corflu to vote. They just need to have enjoyed some fanzines from 2015 and want to express their opinions about that.

Votes should be sent to me at this address (faansfor2015 [at] gmail [dot] com).

(12) YOUR FELLOW PASSENGERS. Damien G. Walter’s genre overview “Reaching for the stars: a brief history of sci-fi space travel” in The Guardian references Stephen Hawking and David Brin – also Kim Stanley Robinson and some mournful canines:

And the psychology of the human species is so poorly understood that the idea that we might survive for generations together in a big tin can is simply insane. Aurora digs into many of the social and psychological issues of generation ships, but ultimately Robinson is an optimist; a believer in the powers of the rational, scientific mind to overcome all challenges. Meanwhile, the science-fiction writing community can’t even organise the Hugo awards without descending into factionalism worthy of revolutionary France. Think the Sad Puppies are annoying now? Wait until you’re trapped in a space-biome with them.

(13) ASTRONOMICAL PUNCHLINES. David Brin feels like cracking jokes today

Asteroids, gotta love the yummy things.  For example: asteroid 5748 Davebrin made its closest approach to Earth April 4. (1.7 AU). Hey! I can see my house from here! Come on guys, it’s mine so let’s go melt it down and get rich.

And yes, this means it is time for one of our “look up!” postings, here on Contrary Brin!

For example…

Many of you recall the thrilling sight of Jupiter getting whacked multiple times by the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1994. Now Phil Plait reveals some video taken this month by an amateur astronomer, which appears to reveal another one smacking the King World. And hints there may have been another collision some years ago. Yipe!  This’ll affect the statistics, for sure. No fluke, after all.  As Goldfinger said: “Three times, Mr. Bond, is enemy action.”

(14) PLEONASM INSTRUCTION MANUAL. At SFFWorld Mark Yon reviews the dictionary. But not just any dictionary — “Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse by Monica Valentinelli”.

Nominally it’s as the title suggests – a dictionary/phrasebook of all those words created and amalgamated into the language of the TV series. For those who don’t know, Firefly is a future Western series set in the year 2517, where the language used by Joss Whedon’s characters is a mash-up of English and Mandarin Chinese.

So if you were wondering what words like ‘gorramn’ meant, then here’s the place to look them up. *

The writer, Monica Valentinelli , has a wealth of background that she draws on for this book. She worked on and became the lead developer and writer for the Firefly Role-Playing Game, and it is this that informs her work here. She has also had access to the original TV scripts.

(15) VERTLIEB ON JOINING RONDO HOF. Steve Vertlieb is thrilled to be voted into the Monster Kid Hall of Fame.

I awoke quite late last evening to a congratulatory telephone call from writer pal Jim Burns informing me of the astonishing news that I’d been inducted into The Monster Kid Hall Of Fame, the ultimate honor bestowed by voters in the annual Classic Horror Film Board competition for excellence in genre contribution. I am stunned, choked up, and deeply humbled by this wholly unexpected honor at the CHFB. I’ve been involved in organized fandom since September, 1965, when I attended Forry Ackerman’s very first Famous Monsters of Filmland convention in New York City, and have been a published writer since 1969 with my first published articles in England’s L’Incroyable Cinema Magazine. I dutifully voted this year for many deserving recipients of the “Rondo,” as I do each year, but I NEVER had ANY expectation of ever winning this most loving, prestigious award myself. I am profoundly moved by this wonderful recognition of my work for nearly than half a century, and want to thank everyone who helped behind the scenes to make it a reality. I’d also like to congratulate Mark Redfield and David Del Valle who happily share this distinct honor with me in the Hall Of Fame category, as well as Mark Maddox for his win in the Best Artist category, Gary Rhodes for Writer of the Year, and so many others whose artistic excellence has garnered them a well deserved commendation. I don’t know what else to say just now….except that I am utterly speechless and humbled by this wondrous honor, and most gracious kindness. Thank You all sincerely.

[Thanks to Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

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117 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/16/16 I’m Looking Over A Five-Leaf Clover

  1. Standback: I feel like getting rid of the 5% rule is kind of saying “Oh, we set up this alarm system, but now it’s going off and making loud annoying noises. Let’s disconnect it.”

    Remember that the 5% rule was implemented back when 30 nominations would have easily cleared 5%. I think 30+ non-slate nominations is an indicator of some consensus on quality. I mean, even if someone gets all their relatives to buy a supporting membership and nominate, 30 will be a stretch (IIRC, the 1984 case had 19).

  2. When was the 5% rule passed and what were the circumstances?

    I suspect it’s an alarm system we’ve outgrown. I remember a time when for short stories, outside anthologies, you went to the news and smokeshop. There you’d find Analog, Asimov’s, and maybe Omni. That’s it (on any regular basis anyways). I can’t say my experience is universal but I suspect it wasn’t uncommon. Given such a small pool of choices the 5% rule makes more sense.

    The Internet media explosion changes that. I agree greater convergence would be nice but I don’t think the 5% rule really helps achieve it. I’m not sure how to get convergence today without limiting either the nominating voter pool or, else, the allowed sources they can nominate from. Either would go against the intent of the award. The perils of growth and the embarrassment of riches!

  3. I suspect on the Godzilla front, that Toho isn’t going to pay for a US Release, and hasn’t attached a major distributor to release the film. If somehow, say, Funimation were to license the film for US release, it’s entirely possible that Toho would either include a theatrical release as an option, or outright require a theatrical release (much as the licenses for the Rebuild of Evangelion films did).

  4. @ Standback

    That’s beyond “The Hugos are an imperfect system,” and through to “Our shortlist is fundamentally arbitrary.”

    There are definitely some fundamentally arbitrary elements to the entire system. The books and stories most likely to be nominated are ones that get buzz (which is typically how most people hear about them to consider them). And the generation of buzz is in many ways independent of merit. (Not “unrelated” but “independent”.) In particular with regard to short fiction, people are most likely to read and consider stories that they’ve already heard people talking about, which creates several layers of pre-filtering.

    Even apart from the awards nomination realm, the phenomenon of buzz generating buzz generating buzz is a major force on which works ever come to people’s attention to be added to to-be-read piles. (This dynamic plays out in the comments here all the time.) Every time someone sees an award long-list and says, “OK, these go to the top of my to-be-read pile,” all the works that slip sideways between the cracks of the buzz machine fall even further off the radar.

    Relying on aggregated review/recommendation/eligibility lists to brainstorm one’s personal nominations adds another layer of arbitrariness. One that I’m quite guilty of myself in some categories. And the personal or logistical biases of those aggregation lists can take some close examination to untangle. (Does the aggregator have a fairly specific definition of SFF? is the list being crowd-sourced from a particular online community or social network? are certain types of publication contexts actively filtered out?)

    Like so many things in life, none of this means that the arbitrary nature of the process indicates brokenness, only that it should never been forgotten.

  5. Yes. The arbitrariness is a necessary result of there being a lot of high quality material, or what is plausibly seen as such, around. It’s not as if a changed procedure would lead to us discovering things that are indisputably the best; there are no such things, so there has to be some arbitrariness in the selection.

    The difference between novels, graphic stories, etc., on the one hand, and short fiction on the other, is that the arbitrariness is located at different points. With short fiction it happens at the point of nomination; works go into the process on more or less equal terms, and a few emerge in front. In other categories some things have already emerged, through the process of buzz and recommendation which Heather Rose Jones describes, so the nominations are more focused. But there has to be arbitrariness somewhere.

  6. @Cally: Oh yeah, Best Editor. Um. 😉 Gotcha! Anyway, yeah, not the kindsa stuff I was thinking of, so I did indeed over-read what you were saying (which sounds like was basically “I got nuthin’ in this category,” not “I can’t nominate X ‘cuz I haven’t read N works” or something along those lines). Thanks, and sorry for misunderstanding.

  7. @ Andrew M

    I would argue that for short fiction the “buzz filter” operates very strongly in the pre-nomination period. Perhaps even more strongly than for novels. An individual story may be less of an investment to read and evaluate for short fiction than for novels, but locating potential items involves a much more diffuse field, and therefore tends to be affected very strongly by word of mouth.

  8. Stoic Cynic:

    I remember a time when for short stories, outside anthologies, you went to the news and smokeshop. There you’d find Analog, Asimov’s, and maybe Omni.

    I grew up with one of those. Used to be next door to The Morning Call in Metairie, Louisiana. I’d go there for exactly those magazines you mention, along with F&SF, and also a handful of rock & roll magazines that were an instant buy if any of the members of Rush were on the cover.

    Christmas 2014, it was still there, and I bought a SFF magazine there I’d never heard of that turned out to have a story by someone I knew in it. Christmas 2015, it was gone. (Also gone was the Saints/LSU swag shop I was hoping to buy some black and gold leggings at. And the Morning Call has a full “traditional New Orleans” menu now instead of just beignets, cafe au lait, milk, and chocolate milk. GET OFF MY LAWN.)

  9. I remember a time when for short stories, outside anthologies, you went to the news and smokeshop. There you’d find Analog, Asimov’s, and maybe Omni.

    We had one of those in the town I grew up in. You could also order records there. The guy who ran it was also a promoter of track for elementary-school kids – and not just for boys. They named a park for him, later.

  10. Re: Rev Bob., general OJRN

    This is one of those thing were after a certain amount of repitition, I assume what has been repeated is the message. Even if I hadn’t read similar sources to Arkansawyer, that detailed that Ghost is Ringo working out thoughts Ringo himself had, the fact that these themes repeat, and repeat, and repeat, is hard to look past.

    There will be situations where sex will be viewed as the inevitable result of manly men being that; with any messy impediments like “consent”, or a shockingly low age, thrown out the window. The view that men simply can’t control themselves when faced with anything that could be read as sexual temptation – the classic view of the masculine, or every rapists defense. I get them confused, as I’ve heard this so often both ways. And from Ringo’s description of Mike Harmon, and the character’s genesis, how unfair am I being?

    And so much if it will be presented as inviting the reader to join the world of manly men who know that this is the “real” world, under all the fake niceties society imposes that you, the reader, must be too tough and manly to be fooled by. You are viewed as knowing that when the apocalypse comes, or when the chips are down, and all falsity is stripped away, things will revert to what they truly are. And in Ringo’s books, this is when heroes are heroes.

    It’s just so much of Ringo’s work, the real sexual fulfillment that real men want, and none of this sissy stuff about consent or female agency. Yes, I know that this can be written off as artistic license, or the great defense of smiling monsters everywhere, “satire” or “just a joke.” But all of it? Like this lifeboat scene with zero relevance to the plot that jump-started the discussion, that just gives the reader the feel of being one of the people who “get” it? Or the ? Or any of a dozen other examples? Really, what’s “better”? The idea that these are for Ringo’s boner or his readers?

    Really, I have no reason to doubt that Ringo is charming in person. He gets passed on this all, where a more abrasive person would be wrecked for it. And I haven’t even brought in the SS as heroes novel yet!

  11. I think the biggest problem with 5% (specifically) is that it’s linear. In statistics, to get a meaningful sample size, you scale by the square root of N, rather than a fixed percentage of N. This is proven mathematics.

    If someone were to introduce a resolution suggesting that the Hugos adopt a new minimum based on X times the square root of the number of voters, I could probably get behind that. But 5% is a really bad factor, which is already showing its flaws, and at the moment, because of last year’s business meeting, we have a chance to get rid of the bad 5% rule, and I fully support that. We can’t get a replacement rule in less than two years, and I don’t think we should wait for that. Especially since there’s no guarantee that any such rule will be proposed, let alone adopted!

    Re. short stories. There was a time when I and a lot of other people subscribed to the main sources of good SF stories. About three or four subscriptions was generally what you needed to get your hands on the overwhelming majority of award-worthy shorts that came out each year. Today, things are quite different.

  12. Semen contains prostaglandins, which in theory could help ripen the cervix. But that says absolutely bupkis about how well the subsequent labor will go. In general it’s not wise to induce labor by any means unless you have a reason to do so, and if you do have a reason to do so, and have a hospital and doctors there (which it sounds as though they did), why not just do a regular medical induction? Or for that matter, given that most 12-year-olds aren’t fully grown, just go straight to C-section?

  13. @Rev Bob
    I have written and deleted a dozen comments on OJRN. I’m unable to talk about how I feel without going into a diatribe about rape culture and how triggering the little bit posted here was.

    Thanks for reminding me why I haven’t read the John Ringo books on my kindle which I got for free.

    This is a situation where one can have an opinion on a book without reading it. John Ringo with his sexy little girls, rape may be ok (what’s exactly is consent?), and men can’t go without sex for any time period would trigger me and have me go to a bad place. There is no good reason for me to read his books. I can’t review his books as I’m not willing to read them.

  14. OJRN may be a swell guy IRL, and completely faithful to his partner, and never have engaged in any sexual activity without explicit consent, where all people involved were of legal age, and could personally go years surrounded by only women and not demand they put out for him.

    But hoo-boy, does he ever give cover and encouragement to those who don’t.

    The 5% rule has outlived its usefulness because intarwebs, and I’d vote against it if I was at the business meeting.

  15. @lurkertype: “But hoo-boy, does he ever give cover and encouragement to those who don’t.”

    That’s an excellent point.

    I’m almost done with book three – another chapter or so to go – and I’ve been reflecting on the series’ treatment of girls. (Not women – the underage set.) Specifically, I’m looking at Faith versus Lee Ann at the point of their introduction.

    Faith is introduced as a bloodthirsty, six-foot tall brawling machine with high pain tolerance and “something like male muscle density.” Her first zombie kill is before the Fall, when she has to use a baton because she’s been forbidden to carry the arsenal of guns and knives she wanted to bring along. She’s a hero, and the masses see her that way while describing her as desirable jailbait. She’s literally the cover girl for the series, and the first book has her showing plenty of skin. (In fairness, she’s much more concealed on the other three covers, but the upcoming anthology cover puts her on display again. The presence of Trixie the teddy bear in her backpack is the signature.)

    Lee Ann is introduced as an ignorant refugee and a presumed victim. She’s literally a virgin mother, thanks to medical improbability, and the masses are ready to kill the father for his grievous crime. She’s weak and scared and very much a child. Only one man – five times her age – even hints that she’s desirable, and everyone wants to pummel him for saying so.

    Here’s the thing. Comparing them at their point of introduction,* there’s only a year separating the two characters. Lee Ann has just turned twelve, and Faith must have recently turned thirteen when book one opens, because she’s still a month away from hitting fourteen as the women impregnated during the Fall begin giving birth. Faith is an adult without the years, but Lee Ann might as well have “child” tattooed on her forehead to drive the point home.

    There’s no gray area, and nobody sees any kind of contradiction there.

    None of the 8,000+ people in the post-Fall society questions those roles. The closest they get is giving Faith some superficially childish attributes: she lacks vocabulary, she hates math, she’s easily bored, and she carries a teddy bear as an excuse for not looking into compartments where people died in horrific ways unrelated to zombies. When it’s time to fight, though, most of that sloughs off and she’s Super Marine Badass Babe. Similarly, her two-years-older sister is barely acknowledged as underage at all, what with the I-hate-clothes attitude and her status as Invaluable Scientific Expert Who Also Commands Three Boats.

    I think that’s what troubles me most about the series. These three characters should be more alike than they are. If Ringo was using them to ask some questions about maturity (of all types) and age and development, that’d be one thing. That could be a theme worth exploring. But he’s not. He’s just putting “capable and desirable” and “pitiful victim” cards on them, with no indication that either status is even slightly malleable.

    * Note that they’re introduced close to a year apart in story time. That’s why I’m explicitly comparing their first depictions. Similarly, I’m describing how “the masses” see them to avoid the “well, that’s just one outlying character’s opinion” argument.

  16. Thank you for the interesting quote by M. John Harrison and the New Wave of the 60s. As he intimates, it was about experiments in literary technique, and — I’d say — also about expanding the field into new topical areas, like war and environmental issues. Along with this the 60s saw a return to hard sf, like Larry Niven’s work. Thus, Niven as the science visionary, Frank Herbert as the environmental narrator and Pournelle and Dickson as the tellers of sf war stories were four important figures of the era, leading the way to some kind of conservative wonder and glory, sf style.

    In the essay Science Fiction Seen From the Right (Manticore Books 2016) the 1960s sf development is rendered thus:

    In retrospect and seen from the right, the most influential SF authors of the 60s-early 70s were authors like Frank Herbert and Larry Niven. They left a tangible mark on the genre; Herbert, in portraying an alien world with a spiritual, traditional feel and a previously unseen attention to detail (q.v. for instance the ecology of Dune) and Niven in taking the big science of E. E. Smith and Arthur C. Clarke to a new level of plausibility and giving it a contemporary feel. — To this must be mentioned authors like Gordon Dickson and Jerry Pournelle, making the field of military SF an enduring character of speculative fiction. Taking the figure of Competent Man (Heinlein) and sublimating it into Responsible Man (Dickson) was the defining feature, showing that the eternal virtues of ”duty, honor, courage” can and must play a key role in SF.

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