Snapshots 117 Spartan

Here are 12 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Ian Sales triggered lots of good discussion with his List of 100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women.

All of us have personal litmus tests for deciding the credibility of a list like this — Sales passed mine by including a Katherine MacLean story (“Contagion,” 1950). I remember liking her later story “The Missing Man” (1972) very much. Written for Analog. It won a Nebula in an era when award-winning stories by women were rare, and stories by women in Analog even rarer.

Sales tried to render his list bulletproof with this preface. All perfectly reasonable statements, just the same, best of luck on that deal.

This is the easy summary for those on reddit who seem to have trouble understanding the purpose of this list:

  1. It is not novels, it is short stories, novelettes and novellas.
  2. Each writer appears only once.
  3. It is not a list of “best” or “top” sf stories by women. It is “great” because it was inspired by the anthology 100 Great Science Fiction Short Stories.
  4. The list demonstrates that women have been writing good science fiction since the genre was created in 1926.
  5. There are many more than 100 excellent women sf writers, but I chose 100 because of the anthology named in point 3.
  6. The gender of the author is not irrelevant. Find me a list of great or top or best sf stories where at least half were written by women. You will fail.
  7. The stories were chosen from a) my own favourites, b) suggestions by other people, c) award shortlists, and d) the tables of contents of Year’s Best anthologies.
  8. I have read 63 of the stories on the list.

(2) Look out! The sun is about to flip its wig, er, magnetic field —

“It looks like we’re no more than three to four months away from a complete field reversal,” said solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of StanfordUniversity. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”

The sun’s magnetic field changes polarity approximately every 11 years. It happens at the peak of each solar cycle as the sun’s inner magnetic dynamo re-organizes itself. The coming reversal will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24. Half of “solar max” will be behind us, with half yet to come.

“Did someone tell Jon Pertwee to reverse the polarity?” wonders James H. Burns.

(3) A new hatchling in the lineage of the Great Bird of the Galaxy. Congratulations to Heidi and Eugene Roddenberry, whose son was born August 6:

His name? Zale Eugene Roddenberry, taking his middle name not only from his father and paternal grandfather, but also the middle name of Heidi’s father. Rod joked back in May that he and Heidi had not come up with any names, and might just go with “Khan Roddenberry.”

Rod also said the couple considered calling him “Ryker,” and while it was not an homage to Jonathan Frakes’ character on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” that association might be enough to end that prospect.

(4) Frank Wu takes you inside a successful Kickstarter campaign in a post for the Amazing Stories blog. A fascinating and stat-filled read —

It’s Wednesday, July 31, 10:45 am. Our fingers on the same mouse, Brianna and I simultaneously clicked the button. Then we fist-bump in celebration. Our Kickstarter for the videogame “Revolution 60” is now officially launched. We are terrified. What if it fails?

We’ve researched the risks. 56% of all Kickstarters fail, including three-fourths of all videogames. Failure would brand the studio, Giant Spacekat, as a loser. To say nothing of team morale. Do we really want to put three years of hard work at risk?

(5) Jason V. Brock launched his “Monstrous Singularities” column for The Teeming Brain with a tribute to the “last of the titans”, Ray Harryhausen, Forrest Ackerman and Ray Bradbury.

Becoming iconic — as Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, and Forrest J Ackerman assuredly did — was a process that began long ago in Los Angeles, California, in October of 1934, at a remarkable local landmark known as Clifton’s Cafeteria. As the adopted “home” of LASFS — the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society — this was a meeting place that served as a focal point of the lives of a great many people who later came to shape and influence modern civilization, including Robert Heinlein and the youthful trio of Bradbury, Harryhausen, and Ackerman.

(6) Phil at Ray Bradbury & Media tells about the Irish town of Youghal, a stand-in for New Bedford in the 1956 movie Moby Dick, written by Ray Bradbury and John Huston.

(7) Uncle Creepy’s Dread Central readers rejoice that there will be a film version of Nevermore, Stuart Gordon’s play about Edgar Allen Poe —

Believe us when we tell you that seeing Nevermore is probably the closest we’ll ever come to spending an evening with the maniacally unstable and brilliant Poe. Jeffrey Combs plays the brilliant but tormented American author in this chilling play.

Set in 1848, Nevermore is loosely based on real events and follows Poe on a cross-country speaking tour fraught with strange occurrences that signal his descent into madness.

(8) The “William Ashbless” cult classic is back and Subterranean Press has it —

Nearly a decade ago, we published an extended bit of tomofoolery by Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock. On Pirates contains a previously unpublished nautical story, a poem, and various nonsense by the two authors, as well as their sometimes compatriot, William Ashbless. Now this rare bit of arcana is available as an ebook. It’s as much fun as you can have for $2.99.

(9) Len Wein told Hero Complex he was pleased with Hugh Jackman and Wolverine:

HC: For those who might not know the story, could you share Wolverine’s creative origin?

LW: It’s one of my favorite stories to tell. Wolverine came out of my writing an entirely different book. I was writing a book called “Brother Voodoo” for Marvel at the time, which was set in the Caribbean. I like writing accents, I like to write so you can sort of hear the voice. So, I was writing a number of the characters with Caribbean accents. Then the editor in chief at Marvel, Roy Thomas, called me into his office and said, “You know, I hate you.” I said, “Thank you so much!” He said, “No, seriously, you write these great accents and I can’t do accents.” He said, “I’d love to see how you would write a Canadian accent. I have the name.” The name was Wolverine. He said, “Come up with a Canadian character called Wolverine.” So, I went and researched wolverines and discovered they were short, really hairy, feisty animals with razor-sharp claws who are utterly fearless and would take on animals 10 times their size. I went, well, that’s the easiest character I’ve ever created. I developed him out of that particular definition. The weird thing was, I actually did a lousy Canadian accent. I thought he ended up sounding more Australian in that first story. The irony of that is so amazing to me. (laughs) I made him a mutant because there had been discussions about reviving the X-Men as an international team of mutants. I thought I would provide for whoever ended up writing that book [“Giant-Size X-Men” No. 1]. I never realized I would be the guy who ended up writing that book. I made my own life much more interesting and simple than I expected.

(10) Once again there’s a chance the Worldcon and a major party’s political convention will happen in the same city in the same year. The GOP likes Kansas City in 2016.

The 1976 GOP National Convention was historic because it marked the last time that such a gathering was involved in making a momentous pick between competing presidential candidates.

Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan weren’t exactly buddies that year.

For those of us around here, it was historic because it marked the last time Kansas City hosted a major political convention.

(11) John Billingham, who helped persuade the federal government to use radio telescopes to search for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, died August 4 reports the New York Times

“We sail into the future, just as Columbus did on this day 500 years ago,” Dr. Billingham said on Oct. 12, 1992, when after two decades of planning and maneuvering NASA formally began its search for extraterrestrial intelligence, known by the acronym SETI. “We accept the challenge of searching for a new world.”

The effort, which Dr. Billingham led as chief of the life sciences division at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, involved using huge radio telescopes to search for radio signals — either deliberate intergalactic flares or incidental noise — emitted by other technologically advanced civilizations that might be billions of years old and billions of light-years away.

(12) Not only are Jonathon Wright’s fairy doors cute as the dickens, it’s only right that Ann Arbor, hometown of the Stilyagi Air Corps, look and feel enchanted.

Fairies are settling in the Michigan college town of Ann Arbor. At least, that’s what artist Jonathon Wright would like you to believe.

All across the city, “fairy doors” are popping up. The miniature openings into imagined fairy homes are unsponsored, unauthorized works of public art that have captured the imagination of the city.

A six-inch white wooden door with a carved jamb framed by miniature bricks was the first to appear, outside Sweetwaterz Cafe. Since the spring of last year, seven more doors have appeared at businesses around Main Street.

[Thanks for these links goes out to John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, David Klaus, James H. Burns and Andrew Porter.]

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One thought on “Snapshots 117 Spartan

  1. The Wolverine hasn’t got a Canajun accent, eh, because there’s no difference between Canajun and Amer’can midwest accents to make fun a-boot. There’s another notable failure to employ a “Canadian” accent. According to Robert Llewelyn, the British actor who plays the mechanoid Kryton on Red Dwarf, he was attempting to sound Canadian in that role. I assure you that he sounds hardly any less British than any of the other actors…

    Anyway, “a-boot” is better than “a-boat,” which is what you South-of-the-Borderians say.

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