Snapshots 31 Flavors

Here are 9 developments of interest to fans:

(1)  I just discovered Beth Bernobich’s hilarious “Secret Diary of Clueless Newbie” (though it’s been around for years.) These little satires on the foibles of wannabe writers are funny! I won’t copy a whole entry, but here’s a line from one:

Handed in resignation to stupid day job boss and spend day looking at Ferraris. Red is nice. Might do novel manuscript in red also. With ZapfChancery font.

You might like the Star Trek themed entry, too.

(2) Kim Stanley Robinson surprises readers by documenting that Virginia Woolf was a fan of Olaf Stapledon, and praises at length the heirs of Stapledon responsible for the current golden age of British science fiction.

(3) We seem to be going through a cycle where the game of Monopoly appears in a lot of news articles. For example, it’s central to the latest story about methods British airmen used to escape POW camps in World War II:

It’s a story that will forever change the way you think of the phrase, “Get Out of Jail Free.”

During World War II, as the number of British airmen held hostage behind enemy lines escalated, the country’s secret service enlisted an unlikely partner in the ongoing war effort: The board game Monopoly

Included in the items the German army allowed humanitarian groups to distribute in care packages to imprisoned soldiers, the game was too innocent to raise suspicion. But it was the ideal size for a top-secret escape kit that could help spring British POWs from German war camps.

 The British secret service conspired with the U.K. manufacturer to stuff a compass, small metal tools, such as files, and, most importantly, a map, into cut-out compartments in the Monopoly board itself.

(4) For years old-time LASFSians have met annually at Clifton’s Cafeteria to celebrate the club’s October anniversary in one of their old haunts. It’s getting to be that time of year again, and as usual the presence of Ray Bradbury assured the LA Times would cover the event. A photo gallery is here. The one bothersome thing is that the Times has lost track of LASFS’ full name, referring to it only as the “Science Fiction Society.”

(5) There can’t be too many folks named Gasperik. I wonder if the fellow shown here working on Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a relative of that well-known LASFSian and inspirer (if that’s a word) of Niven/Pournelle characters, the late Frank Gasperik?  

(6) Fans know that the sign hanging outside the Inklings’ favorite pub, The Eagle and Child, features a picture of Ganymede borne aloft by Zeus in the form of an eagle. A myth, of course. Yet it does not seem impossible something like it really happened, considering what this report from New Zealand tells about a recently extinct giant eagle

Sophisticated computer scans of fossils have helped solve a mystery over the nature of a giant, ancient raptor known as the Haast’s eagle which became extinct about 500 years ago, researchers said Friday. The researchers say they have determined that the eagle – which lived in the mountains of New Zealand and weighed about 40 pounds (18 kilograms) – was a predator and not a mere scavenger as many thought.

Much larger than modern eagles, Haast’s eagle would have swooped to prey on flightless birds – and possibly even the rare unlucky human.

(7) Time magazine feels Wikipedia is on the verge of giving us “the Web’s first major ecosystem collapse”:

Instead of prairie grasses, Wikipedia’s natural resource is an emotion. “There’s the rush of joy that you get the first time you make an edit to Wikipedia, and you realize that 330 million people are seeing it live,” says Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation’s executive director. In Wikipedia’s early days, every new addition to the site had a roughly equal chance of surviving editors’ scrutiny. Over time, though, a class system emerged; now revisions made by infrequent contributors are much likelier to be undone by élite Wikipedians. Chi also notes the rise of wiki-lawyering: for your edits to stick, you’ve got to learn to cite the complex laws of Wikipedia in arguments with other editors. Together, these changes have created a community not very hospitable to newcomers. Chi says, “People begin to wonder, ‘Why should I contribute anymore?'” – and suddenly, like rabbits out of food, Wikipedia’s population stops growing.

(8) The US military is getting back in the airship business  — see page 8 of this article in Newsweek. Lockheed Martin’s website has art and photos of the High Altitude Airship.

(9) Tim Powers confirmed to Locus that his novel On Stranger Tides has been optioned by Disney. Elements in his story will be used to concoct a fourth Pirates of the Carribean movie.

[Thanks for the links included in the post goes out to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, James Hay and Steven Silver. ]

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One thought on “Snapshots 31 Flavors

  1. Escape maps in Monopoly Sets: But I knew about this by reading the original story by the man who did it, Clayton Hutton’s Official Secrets (1961). I read it . . . well a lot closer to when it was published.

    There is a new book out, Churchill’s Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945 (2008), by Nicholas Rankin, that touches on this and other such ideas. It must be the old idea that “If I never heard of it before, it must be news.”

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