Snapshots 49ers

Here are 15 developments of interest to fans:

(1) Is the new Hugo Award logo gaining acceptance? Baen recently put out The Vorkosigan Companion by Lillian Stewart Carl and John Helfers (eds.) in mass market paperback format and Lois McMaster Bujold grotched to Facebook readers that “they didn’t get a little cartouche with ‘Hugo Award Nominee!’ on the cover…” It’s good to see a writer looking for it.

(2) Also, don’t miss Lois McMaster Bujold bantering with Miles Vorkosigan on the Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore site:

LMB:    It’s a hard-used 39 [years old]. You need reliable help, I acknowledge that. And Roic is practically a Boy Scout, or at least a Canadian Mountie. Quite a change from old Sergeant Bothari. Have you noticed how your minions are getting saner and saner as you age? Why is that, I wonder?

Miles:   Sampling artifact. If you’re starting with Bothari, there’s nowhere to go but saner.

Lady Vivamus

(3) Having Thanksgiving dinner with fans? Think how impressed they’ll be when you carve the turkey with your double hollow-ground steel blade designed by master swordmaker Jody Samson:

This is the only official Lady Vivamus, endorsed by the Heinlein Prize Trust, in a limited edition of 100 swords, based on the sword described in the Robert Heinlein classic, Glory Road.

No, no, just kidding. Master Samson isn’t any likelier to endorse using Lady Vivamus to take off a drumstick than Len Moffatt is to let someone make a mixed drink with his Chivas Regal.

(4) A Washington DC area Shakespeare theatre company will do selections from Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing in the original Klingon next month

Don’t you love that remarkable moment when roSenQatlh and ghIlDenSten exit the stage and Khamlet is left alone to deliver the immortal words: “baQa’, Qovpatlh, toy’wl”a’ qal je jIH”?

No? Well, it always kills on Kronos. That’s the home planet of the Klingons, the hostile race that antagonizes the Federation heroes of “Star Trek.”

The play owes its Klingon language to Mark Okrand. Okrand says actors have been challenged by it since he consulted on the first Star Trek movie

After an actor put too much lilt into a line, Okrand recalls, Nimoy shouted: “Cut! Cut! You’re Klingon, not French!”

(5) Now available, time travel into the past without that inconvenient grandfather paradox.

(6) Kirstin Imani Kasai has taken the plunge and is shopping for her first ereader:

I was staunchly pro-print. Books are tactile. You can dog ear the pages and write in the margins. If you drop a novel in the bathtub, you simply let it dry out and continue reading its rippled leaves. Finish a book on a trip and you can leave it behind in the plane’s seat pocket for another traveler to discover. Best of all, books are desert island-proof–no batteries required.

Conversion has been a slow process. My right hand got tired holding up “The Girl Who Played with Fire.” It was no easy feat to iron my hair while reading it, the book balanced on the sink’s edge, a giant clippy holding it open.

(7) I thought heroic rats only existed in cartoons. Laurel Anne Hill has discovered them in real life:

Giant pouched African rats have a nose for success. APOPO, a registered charity in Belgium and based in Tanzania, has trained these long-whiskered critters to sniff out unexploded land mines and save human lives. Working for rewards of banana slices and peanuts, “Hero Rats” schooled in Tanzania have become amazingly proficient at smelling TNT on the job in Mozambique.

(8) One of our leading sf writers said on Facebook the other day, “Excess fat carried on American tummy hips & butt would sustain caloric needs of Afghanistan people for a year.”

It’s only a matter of time until we see a Pashto translation of George Scithers’ famous cookbook To Serve Man.

(9) Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void was reviewed by M. G. Lord in the New York Times who liked the book but not the vision of man on Mars:

At the book’s end, after more than 300 pages of debunking the romance of spaceflight, Roach herself buys into that idea, making a misguided, emotional pitch for a $500 billion human Mars mission — at the expense of cheap, reliable, robotic missions. I am not impervious to sentimentality. I felt a surge of tenderness when Roach described the “unlikely heroics” of a patch of moss on Devon Island: “something so delicate surviving in a place so stingy and hard.”

Yet compared with the irradiated void of space, a frozen rock in the High Arctic is as cozy as a baby’s crib. Packing for Mars, Roach has shown, can be entertaining here on Earth. But no way are humans ready to make the actual trip.

(10) Geoff Boucher of Hero Complex explained that Star Wars Uncut  is a shot-for-shot crowd-sourced remake of Star Wars, and —

It is, foremost, hilarious and strange, a stunt and a hoot, a crazy idea — crazy good idea! — that actually got done.

(11) Letters of Note has posted a 1987 progress report from Paramount about the casting of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Can you imagine Wesley Snipes as Geordi? It could have happened.

(12) Prisoners at Gitmo like to read. Harry Potter is a particular favorite:

There’s not a lot to look forward to if you’re one of the 176 prisoners held in the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay — no visits from loved ones; no parole or release date; and for many, no prospect even of a day in court to answer charges. Still, at least there’s Harry Potter. He may not come riding in on the back of a hippogriff to free his favorite captives from their own version of Azkaban, but he shows up once a week on a cart of books from the prison library, offering an escape of the imagination treasured by many. Indeed, the Harry Potter series has been one the most popular titles among the 18,000 books, magazines, DVDs and newspapers on offer from the prison library at Guantánamo.

A conservative sf writer likes to talk about the West using its “cultural weapons of mass destruction” to overcome enemies by converting their citizens to a materialistic lifestyle resembling our own. But I’ve long suspected they could find reasons entirely their own for enjoying our mass entertainment. Is that the case here?

(13) Rachel Bloom sang that NSFW song about Ray Bradbury, inspiring someone (you know who you are) to arrange for them to actually meet. This link will take you to a perfectly innocent photo of the two talking up a storm (Facebook access required).

(14) SF Signal’s Mind Meld, one of the best things going on the internet, recently asked participants: What are some of the SF/F tropes that need to be retired? Nick Mamatas went first and when he finished there didn’t seem to be a single old favorite left. Then he wisely added, “But that’s what genre is, isn’t it?”

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Michael Walsh, Bjo Trimble, Dave Langford (oops, I’ll bet that comes as a surprise,) Steven H. Silver, Taral, Gary Farber and James Hay.]

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