Snapshots Area 51

(1) This weekend at ZomBcon 2010 in Seattle they left no topical gravestone unturned.

Regular Foreign Policy contributor Daniel Drezner, author of Theories of International Relations and Zombies, was on hand to answer the question “What would happen to international politics if the dead rose from the grave and started to eat the living?”

Up til now the political impact of the dead has been limited to a few well-known cities where they habitually rise and vote for the living.

(2) Just how many academics study the undead anyway?  At Harvard Extension School Sue Weaver Schopf is running a course called “Vampires 101”:

Schopf, the associate dean of the Master’s of Liberal Arts program at the Extension School, has always been interested in myths about the undead. She’d been thinking of putting together a course on the subject for years, but when she read the “Twilight’’ series and saw it spark a cultural phenomenon, she put her plan in motion.

Her timing for the class couldn’t have been better. When she listed “ENGL E-212 The Vampire in Literature and Film’’ for the first time for this fall, she not only drew her many loyal literature students, but also pop-culture obsessed vampire lovers — fans not only of “Twilight,’’ but of HBO’s “True Blood,’’ “Let the Right One In,’’ and other blood-sucking narratives.

(3) Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea started airing when I was 12 years old. I was an ambivalent fan of the show, highly critical of its silly special effects – how many times did the sub’s rippling-lighted control panel blow up in a shower of sparks? – yet I watched every week. Perhaps Pete Graham was right when he said that the Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12.

I have no need to buy the newly-released DVDs and re-watch the program. But I see from reading TV Shows on DVD there are still fans out there interested enough to nitpick details about the series:

…[on the DVD package] the picture on the left, of David Hedison’s “Captain Crane”, shows him in a Soviet uniform from the second season episode “Time Bomb”. This is obviously not really an appropriate image to go on the cover for “Season 4, Vol 2“, and so we passed along this fan feedback to Fox the same day. Fox Home Entertainment has now revised the package art to include a more appropriate picture of Crane…

(4) John Purcell has a lot to say about awards in the latest issue of his fanzine, Askance 21 (PDF file). He bids us not to forget that  

…even Arnie Katz, a long-time fan editor, hosted a webcast, The Wasted Hour, for a short while that was like an audio fanzine but done LIVE online

If John means that fanzine fanac must be defined by its content and not the delivery technology that may be an accurate statement about the fannish culture, but I don’t accept the implication that every form and manner of expressing fannish verbiage ought to be lumped into the Best Fanzine Hugo category.

(In the same article John makes a delightful typo — the “Sidewinder Awards for Alternative History.” If they ever start this, the first award must go to Indiana Jones for “Snakes! Why’d it have to be snakes!”)

(5) This summer readers on the NPR (formerly National Public Radio) nominated 600 novels to the “Killer Thrillers” poll and cast more than 17,000 ballots. The Silence of the Lambs came in first. Stephen King’s The Shining was seventh, The Stand, twelfth. Psycho by Robert Bloch at #56 was the highest ranking by an author closely connected with the SF field. Carl Sagan came next, whose novel Contact ranked #69.

(6) Who’d have predicted this in the days of the New Wave? J.G.Ballard’s archives have become a treasure of the British Library:

And the library is making the most of its new star. One of the jewels of the archive is Ballard’s annotated typescript for Crash, the semi-sane fantasy of autogeddon and paraphilia that cemented his cult status on its publication in 1973. Its first page, scored with madcap scribbles and red pen revisions, now forms part of an exhibition of the library’s greatest treasures, which includes a specimen of Shakespeare’s handwriting, one of the earliest surviving Bibles, a Beethoven sonata in autograph and the Magna Carta. This might, one imagines, come as rather a shock to the publisher’s reader who famously advised after seeing the Crash manuscript that the author was “beyond psychiatric help”.

(7) Highly-sensitive synthetic skin is being developed by several research teams reports the IEEE Spectrum:

Today’s advanced robots and prosthetic arms can grab an egg or a plastic cup without crushing it, thanks to tactile sensors on the fingertips. But you wouldn’t say they’re sensitive enough to pat a baby to sleep. For that you’d need to cover the robot arm with pressure-sensitive synthetic skin that could sense a featherlight touch.

Two research groups are advancing the development of such a sensitive system. An example of how it will be useful is as pressure-sensitive coating on surgical tools which then will be able to feel their way inside a body cavity without jabbing and damaging body tissue.

(8) Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction is a fan-produced TV show on public access in the DC area. The June episode was a highlights version of the 2010 Nebula Awards ceremony. This episode is available to view (or listen to, as an audio only file) from the Fast Forward website. Here is the link to the MP3 audio file.

[Thanks for these links goes out to Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol, David Klaus, Steven Silver, Isaac Alexander and Andrew Porter.]

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5 thoughts on “Snapshots Area 51

  1. “J.G.Ballard’s archives to have become a treasure of the British Library”

    Posted that one to Facebook back in July, along with a bunch of other Ballard links to stories on the archives, with detailed photos, etc., plus other Ballard links.

    Alas that I was in a blogging hiatus, since I’m not going to manually count my way back through hundreds of links to provide links only some can get to, and FB has yet to provide a search function for one’s own text/links.

    But better late then never, for anything of substance! 🙂

  2. @Gary: I’m getting a vision of you in a marathon running backwards so you can explain to the people you pass how fast you are going…

    I blush to discover I am three months behind you in Ballard linkage.

  3. The only love I had for the program stemmed from the beautiful design of the Seaview exterior. I had always hope the Navy would have General Dynamics’ Electric Boat division build at least one of the exterior designs (there were several) as an experimental design. Unfortunately, the SeaQuest DSV was not nearly nearly as pretty as the Seaview.

  4. Vote rigging in Chicago is an art form. It is generally known that the Cook County Morgue vote gave John F. Kennedy the presidency in 1960 and the winning margins for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

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