Snapshots 21: Old Enough to Drink

Fourteen developments of interest to fans:

(1) Andrew Porter contends aliens are here, taking our luggage as souvenirs of Earth. Whatever the reason, Britain’s Air Transport Users Council says:

More than 40 million bags were misplaced by airlines in 2007. Of those more than 1 million pieces of luggage were irretrievably lost.

(2) Classic satire: Aigamemnon (A Fragment) by Kieran Healy:

Citizens of Argos, you Elders present here, I shall not be ashamed to confess in your presence my fondness for my CEO, billions of dollars of losses notwithstanding….

(3) Booksonmars recently excerpted Samuel R. Delany’s thoughts about Red Planet juvies.

(4) James Hay told the ConDor list: “Here is a web page devoted to the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, a children’s playset which included four different radioactive materials! You gotta love the fifties!” Holy glow-in-the-dark cow…

(5) I’ve got to see Harvard Beats Yale 29-29. Here’s a line from the LA Times review:

Particularly compelling is the story of Harvard backup quarterback Frank Champi, who came into the game to try to get the offense moving and ended up engineering one of the great college comebacks. Champi’s Boston accent was so thick, his teammates couldn’t understand the first play he called. “Forty-one on one,” came out as “fowty-wordy on whad.”

In the end, Champi would be a worthy match for his Yale counterpart, Brian Dowling, who is best known today as the helmet-wearing B.D. character in “Doonesbury” (classmate Garry Trudeau had already begun drawing the strip in the Yale Daily News).

(6) A Canadian filmmaker plans to install a mini camera in his prosthetic eye to make documentaries and raise awareness about surveillance in society.

Rob Spence, 36, who lost an eye in an accident as a teenager, said his so-called Project Eyeborg is to have the camera, a battery, and a wireless transmitter mounted on a tiny circuit board.

(7) After reading a post at Armageddon Online, David Klaus thought, “It may be that Gene Roddenberry’s conjecture (the Star Trek Hypothesis, if you will) about the number of Earth-like planets in the galaxy might be correct.”

There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US conference has heard.

Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple lifeforms.

(8) Publishers Weekly reports that Beacon Press will publish a graphic adaptation of the late Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred.

(9) If Ghostbusters can make me associate New York with Armageddon, why the skepticism about the makers of “Kings” being able to pass the city off as another locale in the Bible?

Imagine you’re scouting locations for a television series, a biblical allegory that unfolds in a contemporary monarchy. The script calls for a clean, new capital “unspoiled by time or litter,” modern with a touch of Renaissance Revival, “a city to make you believe in magic.”

Would you ever choose New York City?

(10) When the flying car finally arrived, I wasn’t expecting there to be any doubt that it could stay aloft longer than the first Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk!

Logging 37 seconds in the air, a prototype of a flying car completed its first test flight earlier this month in upstate New York.

(11) Borg version 0.1?

A Finnish programmer who lost his finger in a motorcycle accident has now replaced it with a prosthetic finger that has a USB drive built in.

(12) A co-founder of the Sci Fi Channel is grumpy that they changed the name.

Before the Sci Fi Channel launched, Isaac Asimov (a member of the Sci Fi Channel’s Board of Advisors along with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Laurie and I presented the concept of a 24-hour cable TV network dedicated to science fiction to a packed room of SF writers at the Science Fiction Writers of America meeting…. I was booed.

Then Isaac started to speak and said that the name had to be Sci Fi Channel and not the SF Channel in order to draw a wide, diverse audience and be successful. To be in a financial position to acquire and produce the best programming. That’s really what counts, right? The writers came around and agreed. Heck, it was Isaac Asimov saying “Sci Fi Channel” was OK, and that was that.

(13) Remember, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of petty minds:

Neil Gaiman may have turned down his Hugo Award nomination for Anansi Boys(2005) in 2006, but he’s game this time with his recent recognition for The Graveyard Book (2008, both HarperCollins)…

In a blog post from 2006, Gaiman explained why he withdrew his work from consideration for the Hugo, writing, “I suppose partly I did it because I have three Hugos already, and I felt it was better to get more names on the ballot that weren’t mine, and partly because I think I feel more comfortable when the things of mine that get Hugo nominations are marginally closer to SF than to pure fantasy.”

This year is different “because it’s really astonishingly nice company to be in,” Gaiman wrote.

(14) Terrence Rafferty, author of the New York Times review of Alien Trespass, once upon a time was Terry Rafferty, Pat LoBrutto’s assistant on the Doubleday SF line:

It’s not just the weird extraterrestrial creatures running amok on Earth, sneaking up on decent, hard-working, small-town folks and reducing them to puddles of goo; we’re used to that. It isn’t even the aliens’ shiny spaceships, with their inexplicably powerful thrust and sinister but somehow festive blinking lights. What feels galactically remote in “Alien Trespass,” and in the half-century-old movies it evokes, is the people, the “ordinary” human beings whose existence is so direly imperiled by superior intelligences from far, far away.

[Thanks to David Klaus, Andrew Porter, John Mansfield and James Hay for the links used in this story.]

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