(1) WHEN GRAVITY DOESN’T FAIL. “NASA Wants Ideas for How to Destroy the International Space Station”. Really. SYFY Wire explains why.
…At present, Roscosmos has committed to continued use and maintenance of the station through 2028 while the other four agencies will remain through 2030. After that, unless there’s another extension, everyone will come home, and the station’s life will end. Of course, we can’t just leave the largest spacecraft we’ve ever built unattended and uncontrolled. Instead, all five agencies share responsibility for bringing the ISS down in a controlled and safe way. No easy task.
Previous plans relied on Russian Progress vehicles to reduce the station’s orbit and push it into the atmosphere. Now, NASA is looking for a bespoke craft to do the job more efficiently. To that end, NASA has released their final Request for Proposals (RFP) for a novel deorbit vehicle to aid in the destruction of the International Space Station.
Interested parties must submit proposals by November 17. A virtual pre-proposal conference is planned for October 3 at 12:00 p.m. Central.
If you’ve ever wanted to destroy an orbiting science laboratory, this is probably your best chance. Who knows when we’ll have another station that needs vaporizing.
(2) WOLE TALABI INTERVIEW. “A Conversation With Wole Talabi” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.
… Talabi’s novelette A Dream of Electric Mothers was published in Africa Risen (edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight), which was one of the first anthologies published by a North American publisher focusing on science fiction and fantasy from African authors. He says the public response to the novelette — which explores identity, memory, and culture through artificial intelligence in an alternate history setting — has been gratifying.
“Some people have messaged me to ask if it’s a far-future science fiction story, and I enjoy telling them that it isn’t. It’s an alternate history story,” Talabi says. “I don’t make that obvious because the story uses the traditional Yoruba calendar, not the Gregorian calendar. It actually takes place in an alternate 2021 in a timeline where essentially European colonization of Africa never happened and they formed an intellectual partnership instead … that’s why it seems like a far-future story. Because we’ve made more progress by not fighting.”,,,
(3) WARNING. Ansible® 435, the October issue released today, warns fans:
Ripoff Alert. The US dealer Fifth Generation Books is selling Rob Hansen’s TAFF-benefit paperback Bixelstrasse: The SF Fan Community of 1940s Los Angeles on the Walmart website for $43.50 (allegedly discounted from the wholly made-up figure of $50.50), presumably filling orders by buying copies at $22.50 from the official Ansible Editions/Lulu sales page (linked from ae.ansible.uk/?t=bixel). They reproduce the AE blurb in full, including the assurance IN CAPITAL LETTERS that all proceeds will go to TAFF, but somehow one has one’s doubts. [RH]
(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Some Worldcon guests/speakers announced — https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/trpOJYSgoWertsvyoPE5JQ
Yesterday (28th) a couple of panels were announced, I think by a children’s book publisher. Most of the names weren’t known to me, but ones that were are academic and author Wu Yan, and Hugo Best Novelette winner Hao Jingfang.
Ground level views of the con venue — http://xhslink.com/kK7e1u
A few photos seemingly taken by a member of the public in the area around the venue were posted to the Xiaohongshu social network earlier today. I think these give a better idea of what it looks like in-person, compared to a lot of the images that have appeared before now.
Reminder that you need to press Submit on your Hugo votes — https://mastodon.social/@[email protected]/111149676161220869
This was something I didn’t realize when I did my votes yesterday, and looking at the reposts, I suspect I’m not the only one.
Translated video about Chengdu publisher 8 Light Minutes Culture — https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV1aT411n7NS/
This 6:45 video from the Chengdu_Plus channel on the Bilibili video site dates from April, and doesn’t directly reference the con or Hugo Awards. However, Best Editor (Short Form) finalist Yang Feng is interviewed, along with a bit about her Best Related Work finalist. The issue of Galaxy’s Edge magazine that features Best Novelette finalist The Space-Time Painter is also shown. Usefully, it has English subtitles and narration.
Note: Sergei Lukyanenko and his work are discussed at the 4 minute mark.
(5) SPACE COWBOY BOOKS CO-HOSTS BANNED BOOKS EVENT. A “Banned Books Reading with Desert Split Open”, co-hosted by Space Cowboy Books of Joshua Tree, CA is an in-person event that will take place October 1 from 5-7 p.m. Pacific.
The Desert Split Open and Space Cowboy Books will again celebrate Banned Books Week. Let’s meet at the Sun Alley stage, behind the bookstore (61871 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree, CA). We will read from books that have been challenged or banned. What some attempt to silence, we will amplify. All are welcome at this free community event.
The sudden increase in book challenges motivated us to hold last year’s Banned Books Week event. This year, the situation is worse:
“The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data more than 20 years ago. … Censors targeted a record 2,571 unique titles in 2022, a 38% increase from 2021. Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community or by and about Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.” (ala.org)
This is not just an issue for “Red” states – in fact, in 2022, California saw 32 attempts to restrict access to 87 different titles. The most challenged title in CA was a tie between Gender Queer: A Memoir and Beyond Magenta.
Now, more than ever, we must speak up – not just against censorship but in favor of diverse voices and stories.
Here’s a list of the most challenged books of 2022
Register for free here.
(6) DON’T TAKE THE MASK OFF THE OLD LONG RANGER. “Oscar Meyer again renames its mobile back to Wienermobile” reports Yahoo! [The typo above is intentional.]
Slotted in between items on a recent Associated Press news round-up that mentioned the impeachment inquiry into President Biden and the looming government shutdown was the report that the Oscar Meyer brand was again changing the name of its famous…vehicle.
The Wienermobile was renamed the Frankmobile only four months ago. But the meat-maker, apparently caving to pressure from the Hotdoggers—those who drive the thing and were upset by the change—has reverted the name back to Wienermobile.
Roll out the bun puns. Like, “I guess Frankmobile didn’t cut the mustard.”
…Today, Oscar Mayer maintains six of the 23-foot-long motorized sausages across the US. The custom-made fiberglass dog sits atop a lightly toasted fiberglass bun on a converted Chevrolet chassis with a 300-horsepower Vortec V8. It was designed by the General Body Company of Chicago….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 29, 1934 — Stuart M. Kaminsky. Though best remembered as a very prolific mystery writer for which I single out the Toby Peters series about a private detective in 1940s Hollywood and the Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov series about a Moscow police inspector, he does have genre works. He did two Kolchak the Night Stalker graphic novels, plus wrote the scripts for two Batman stories, “The Batman Memos” and “The Man Who Laughs”. As an editor, he’s responsible for the On a Raven’s Wing: New Tales in Honor of Edgar Allan Poe anthology. (Died 2009.)
- Born September 29, 1947 — Scott Baker, 76. His first novel, l’Idiot-roi (Symbiote’s Crown), won the French Prix Apollo Award. In addition, he won the World Fantasy Award for his “Still Life with Scorpion” short story. All three of his short story collections and his one anthology are French only, though all of his novels are in English.
- Born September 29, 1952 — Lou Stathis. During the last four years of his life, he was an editor for Vertigo. He had a fascinating work history including collaborating with cartoonist Matt Howarth by co-writing the first few issues of Those Annoying Post Bros. (Kindle has them available.) He was also a columnist and editor for Heavy Metal and a columnist for Ted White’s Fantastic magazine during the late Seventies through early Eighties. His fanwriting included the “Urban Blitz” column for OGH’s Scientifriction (the first installment appearing in 1977, Issue 9, page 29). (Died 1997.)
- Born September 29, 1954 — Shariann Lewitt, 69. First, let me commend her for writing one of the better Trek novels in Cybersong set in the Voyager verse. Bravo, Shariann! Most of her fiction, be it Memento Mori or Rebel Sutra is definitely downbeat and usually dystopian in nature. Well written but not light reading by any means.
- Born September 29, 1961 — Nicholas Briggs, 62. A Whovian among Whovians who started out writing Who fanfic. First off he’s the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen in the new series of shows. Well not just them as he also voices the Judoon, the Ice Warriors, the Nestene Consciousness, the Jagrafess and the Zygons. Second he’s the Executive Producer of Big Finish Productions, the audio drama company that has produced more Doctor Who, Torchwood and other related works that you’d think possible. Third he did act twice in the Whoverse. Once on Torchwood as Rick Yates on “Children of Earth: Day Four” and The Sarah Jane Adventures as Captain Tybo in “Prisoner of the Judoon” episode. Fourth he’s appeared as himself in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
- Born September 29, 1968 — Stephen Deas, 55. British writer. He is most known for his fantasy franchise, the Memory of Flames which is set in a fantasy world inhabited by dragons. Yes, more dragons! Though dragon free free, I highly recommended his Thief-Taker’s Apprentice series as well. Good fantasy doesn’t always need dragons, does it?
…The excitement doesn’t just stop at the return of Tennant. A cherished post-show tradition is making a grand comeback after a long hiatus of 12 years. As whispers and wonders swirl around, an official post from BBC Three’s Instagram has put all speculation to rest. Yes, the behind-the-scenes specials are back! Giving fans an intimate look into the creation and the intricate details, the series, aptly named Doctor Who: Unleashed, is all set to satiate the curiosity of aficionados and novices alike….
(9) BOOK REVIEW. From the New York Times: “Empire Of The Sum: The Rise and Reign of the Pocket Calculator, by Keith Houston”. Daniel Dern notes, “I don’t necessarily feel the need/urge to read the book, but I love the title (which called to mind JG Ballard’s book Empire of the Sun, and while that book is not itself sf, Ballard of course wrote lots of sf, in case one wants a modicum of sfnality for items beyond simple, ‘an amusing pun.’).”
(10) PRODIGAL INSIGHTS. “Star Trek: Prodigy Featurette Clip Shows How Stories Go From Script to Screen (Exclusive)” at Comicbook.com.
Star Trek: Prodigy‘s final Season 1 comes to Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow, and ComicBook.com has an exclusive look at one of the home media set’s bonus features. Star Trek: Prodigy: Season 1 – Episodes 11-20 is available to pre-order now on Blu-ray and DVD from Amazon and features more than 45 minutes of features diving into Star Trek: Prodigy‘s creation and place within the Star Trek franchise. The “Creating New Wolrds” clip sees series creators Kevin Hageman and Dan Hageman discussing how consistently impressed they are with the Star Trek: Prodigy art team’s ability to go beyond their expectations, with director Ben Hibon chiming in toward the end. You can watch the clip above….
(11) A LOT OF DOLLAR SIGNS. “Mars Sample Return got a new price tag. It’s big” reports the journal Science. “Independent review finds mission could cost as much as $11 billion and pushes NASA to delay or rethink program”.
NASA’s audacious Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission has serious technical flaws and “unrealistic” assumptions about its budget and timetable, an independent review found in a report released yesterday. Originally estimated to cost some $4 billion, the reviewers found that NASA’s share of the mission could end up costing between $8 billion to $11 billion, and that launch could happen no sooner than 2030, 2 years later than now planned.
A joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), MSR would gather rocks collected by the Perseverance rover, which has been drilling samples since it landed on Mars in 2020. MSR would then rocket the samples off the planet and ferry them to Earth, where scientists would study them for signs of past life and planetary evolution. The top priority of planetary science for several decades, it remains a worthy goal and one still worth pursuing, especially in light of similar sample return plans for Mars planned by China for later this decade, according to the review report, which was commissioned by NASA.
(12) MEASURING DELAYS CAUSED BY STRIKES. After 5 months, the writers’ strike has come to an end. On that note, JustWatch summarized how it influenced the number of delays of movies and TV shows of original productions of various streaming services.
Global streaming giant: Netflix is the most affected by the writer’s strike with 3x more production delays than Apple TV+. Other major US streaming services: Max, Prime Video and Disney+ all suffer, collectively taking up 27% of the total content disruption for streaming platforms in the country.
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Wrap explains the “Argylle Trailer: Henry Cavill and Dua Lipa Are Spies in Meta Comedy”.
The first trailer for “Kingsman” and “X-Men: First Class” filmmaker Matthew Vaughn new spy film “Argylle” has arrived, and it’s hardly what anyone expected. The trailer begins as a standard spy thriller with Henry Cavill and Dua Lipa getting into some sexy spy shenanigans, but then the story pulls back to reveal they’re characters in a book written by a spy novel author played by Bryce Dallas Howard.
The problem? What she thinks is fiction is actually happening, and now real-life spies are after her for outing their dealings…
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dan Bloch, Bill, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]