Something not quite right in the San Diego Comic-Con International souvenir book caught Scott Edelman’s eye: “In the midst of getting verklempt reading the In Memoriam section, I spotted a major error on the page honoring the late Ron Goulart — they’ve mistakenly used a photo of the very much living Joe Haldeman.”
Goulart, of course, actually looked like this:
Edelman understands these things can happen. Because it’s happened to him.
“My photo appeared on Robert Reed’s Wikipedia page for awhile, after I accepted his Hugo award in Yokohama.”
When Scott wrote about the Goulart mistake on Facebook, people chimed in with other examples they’d seen.
Mine was remembering that Torcon 2 used the wrong photo for fan guest of honor Bill Rotsler in the 1973 Worldcon program book. At the time someone said it was really a picture of Philip K Dick. Since I didn’t yet know what PKD looked like I always assumed that was the identity. And therefore, the following year when PKD no-showed for his guest of honor stint at the 1974 Westercon, I thought it was an especially funny inside joke that they brought on Bill Rotsler to give the guest of honor speech instead.
The post I planned to write was going to end there. I knew I could find that old 1973 program book on Fanac.org and copy the photo to run with it. Which I have. There is just one problem. I know what Philip K. Dick looks like now, and that photo doesn’t look like PKD to me. I have never seen a photo of PKD with a long scraggly beard. So who is it really?
I asked Andrew Porter, who turned to others in the Fictionmags discussion group for help. Not only did they come up with the name, they found a copy of the original photo online. It’s artist John Schoenherr. The photo was taken by Jay Kay Klein at the 1971 Worldcon.
Porter sent a copy of the photo to John’s son Ian Schoenherr who confirmed the identity. He also commented, “Still have that corduroy safari jacket somewhere – and the ceramic tiki bowl.”
[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?
I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:
31 of the novellas published in 2015,
35 of the novellas published in 2016,
46 of the novellas published in 2017,
and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
(and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)
I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.
The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.
Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.
I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.
Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
By JJ: I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last couple of years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading 31 of the novellas published in 2015 and 35 of the novellas published in 2016 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).
Last year, the result of this was the 2016 Novellapalooza. I really felt as though I was able to do Hugo nominations for the novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I decided to do it again this year.
The success of Tor’s novella line seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas, with Subterranean Press, NewCon Press, PS Publishing, and Book Smugglers jumping on the bandwagon, as well as the Big 3 magazines and the online fiction venues – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. Toward the end, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book in such a case, and to discover that, indeed, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low. Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?
Please feel free to post comments about any other 2017 novellas which you’ve read, as well.
When I plotted out my five-book series a couple years ago, I knew that by book four, it would be time to give my characters a break and began to torture my worlds. I needed to increase the stakes across both dimensions for the big finale in book five. It took quite a bit of research, in spite of my amateur earth and space science interests, and found that it’s not easy to make reality align with your imagination! The challenge was to have my antagonist destroy Thrae, Earth’s mirror dimension, while salvaging enough of the planet to support life. Luckily, I sat on a panel with two NASA scientists at Denver Comic Con and cornered them afterwards to verify my research. I was thrilled, and more than a little relieved, to discover that the details were accurate!
(2) LOCUS AWARD POLL IS OPEN. John Scalzi has beaten me to a pair of headlines today – I’m lucky he spends most of his time on books. John was first with the Audie Awards, and now this —
I have never been involved with a shadow jury before, so I’m probably going to be making it up as we go along. But my take on it is that the Clarke Award has become central to the way we see science fiction in Britain, so the shadow jury will use it as a jumping off point from which to expand the discussion of science fiction.
We’ll be starting with the submissions list, which is due to be published shortly and which is probably the best and most convenient way to discover what science fiction has been published in Britain during any particular year. From this we will each, individually, draw up our own preferred shortlists, based on what we’ve read and what we want to read. (No plan survives an encounter with the enemy, so I assume that as we read through our chosen books our views about what should or should not be on the shortlist will change. In many ways, I suspect that will be the most interesting part of the exercise.) We will also, of course, be reading the actual shortlist when that is announced, so the whole exercise will be a scaled-up version of Maureen Kincaid Speller’s wonderful Shortlist Project from a few years back.
On January 31, SFWA submitted two sets of copyright-related commentary (authored by SFWA’s Legal Affairs Committee) — one to the Librarian of Congress offering recommendations for choosing the new Register of Copyrights, and one to the House Judiciary Committee regarding its first proposal for copyright reform. SFWA also signed onto a submission from the National Writers Union to the US Copyright Office concerning Group Registration of Contributions to Periodicals.
(5) HEAR THIS ONE BEFORE? From the “Traveler” essay in Larry Niven’s Stars and Gods collection:
Lost luggage? Air France lost a passenger in the Soviet Union, because he annoyed them. They dropped Tom Doherty in Moscow when he only had an internal passport for Leningrad.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY PUPPETEER
Born February 8, 1969 – Mary Robinette Kowal
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GARÇON
February 8, 1828 — Jules Verne
(8) SQUEE. Walter Jon Williams has signed the contract for three more books in the Praxis series. He discusses the deal in “Unto the Breach”.
And so (I hear you ask) why seek publication by the Big Five after all? Because (1) they offered me money, and (2) I don’t want to put all my career eggs into a single basket. Ebook sales are volatile, many sales are generated by gimmicks that quickly grow obsolete, and I’m in competition with a couple million self-published authors who can’t write their way out of a paper bag, but who get just as much shelf space as I do. If you’re published by a traditional publisher, it demonstrates that someone cared enough for your work to pay more than taxi-fare money for it.
And if the books fail, I’ll get them back, and then I’ll market them myself. Win/win.
Construction started on the Hollywood Studios attraction last April, following its August 2015 announcement. Until Iger’s statement on Tuesday, Disney had remained quiet about the attraction — which will be paired with a similar one in Disneyland Anaheim — beyond the release of concept artwork last summer. While it’s still unconfirmed just what the attraction will include, a Disney Parks blog post promised “guests will get the opportunity to pilot the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” after climbing on board a full-size replica of the Millennium Falcon.
(11) THE BOX SCORE. These are the authors who wrote the most short fiction in 2016 that was published in any of the eleven publications or eleven anthologies Rocket Stack Rank reviewed last year. — “2016 Prolific SF/F Short Fiction Authors”
Here are Rocket Stack Rank’s 35 most prolific science fiction & fantasy short fiction authors of 2016. Click on their names in the two tables below to see their stories, and use the Score and AvgScore columns to try some authors you might not have read before. They were selected from the 818 original stories reviewed by RSR in 2016, which include 568 authors who wrote 5.8 million words published in 11 SF/F magazines and 11 SF/F anthologies. (RSR does not read horror magazines or horror anthologies.)
Greg Hullender adds, “Not a surprise to see Rick Larson and Robert Reed at the top in terms of number of stories. The counts by number of words are strongly affected by novella writers, but still interesting. Could be a useful resource to people looking for a new author to try out.”
We routinely hear from customers who want to know the best way to store collectible books. Sadly, even more commonly, we hear from customers who have inadvertently stored their books improperly, eroding the value of their beloved book collection.
We thought we’d take an opportunity to share with you some tips for proper storage of books, gleaned from not only our own personal experience, but that of seasoned professional booksellers. But before we dive right in to the stacks, let’s preface the whole thing by reminding you that:
CONDITION IS EVERYTHING!
Even the most scarce of titles is rarely worth much when it is in poor condition or beyond repair. Mildew, broken spines, torn or faded dust jackets, cocked bindings and similar issues can conspire to move a desirable book from the display case to the bargain bin.
Ok, that said, let’s learn how we can keep your book collection from ruin when you need to put it in storage for a period of time…
The sf connection is that Durborough’s cameraman, Irving G. Ries, had a long, distinguished career in Hollywood capped by an Oscar nomination for his work on the special effects in Forbidden Planet in 1956.
(14) THE MATRYOSHKA TWEETS. It began when Cat Rambo reminded SFWA members to make their Nebula nominations.
The Dark is a online magazine of horror and dark fantasy which, in the last three years, has received a number of accolades and reprints in “year’s best” anthologies. Edited by Sean Wallace and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the magazine is open to more experimental stories and new authors, which results in issues of The Dark often pushing the boundaries of both the genre and literary fiction.
The Dark is also known for fast response times on most submissions, often within 24 hours. Sean and assistant editor Jack Fisher divide up the slush pile and give each story a first read.
You’d think authors would be happy with fast response times because it means they can submit their stories somewhere else. But it turns out some authors hate a quick no. They’d rather the band-aid be pulled off bit by bit over months and years instead of a quick yank…..
(2) OH, THOSE SLUSH CRUSHERS. Gardner Dozois, commenting on Sean Wallace’s public Facebook post, told how he dealt with the flood of unsolicited manuscripts in his days at Asimov’s.
In fact, one of the greatest challenges in training a slush reader–and I’ve trained several–is to teach them not to spend time reading all or even more of a manuscript that is obviously hopeless, and train them out of reading all of it to “give it a chance.” We used to get a thousand manuscripts a month at ASIMOV’S; no time for that.
I had a few [slush readers] at the beginning of my tenure at ASIMOV’S, but after a year or so I decided that nobody could do the job as good or as fast as I did myself, so from that point on I read all the slush at ASIMOV’S myself. Part of the challenge of reading slush, and mostly why I took it over myself, is that your job is not only to plow through the bad stories and get rid of them as fast as possible, but ALSO to spot the good or potentially good stories that are also going to show up in the slush. I found I could get people who could plow through the bad stuff, but nobody who was as good as I was myself in spotting the good and potentially good stuff. Used right, a slush pile can be a valuable resource for a magazine, and several writers who later became reliable regulars started there.
That delightful ’60s/‘70s intersection of pop-psychedelic surrealism and space-age futurism produced some of the most awesome book covers the world has ever seen, with illustrations that often far exceeded in greatness the pulpy sci-fi genre novels they’d adorned. While some of those artists achieved renown, too often, those covers were the works of obscure toilers about whom little is known.
Davis Meltzer, alas, fits deep into the latter category. My best search-fu yielded so little biographical data that I’m not even able to determine if he’s currently alive.
(4) OPEN THE POD BAY DOOR. At Reverse Shot, Damon Smith has a deep analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he says is “the first modern sci-fi movie: mature, intelligent, technically precise, and ambiguously metaphysical.”
Science, art, and the spiritual have been linked for centuries across pictorial traditions, but they achieve a unique synthesis in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, an audaciously cerebral epic that, whenever seen or contemplated in its original 70mm format, never feels like anything less than a miracle of human imagination. The relevance of 2001 has kept pace with the times, too, as it coolly examines our relationship with technology and the grand mystery of cosmic reality, which grows richer and stranger the more we learn about the physics of massive phenomena we cannot directly observe (dark matter, black holes) and the even spookier action of quantum-scale particles. Grappling seriously with our place in the universe as individuals and as a species, 2001 was the first modern sci-fi movie; mature, intelligent, technically precise, and ambiguously metaphysical, the film mostly dispenses with conventional narrative in order to represent, for much of its 160-minute duration, the physical and psychological experience of “being in space.” More importantly, by coding his unusually realistic visual journey with mythic totems and baffling set pieces, Kubrick heightens the subjective experience of viewers, leaving the logic of the whole intentionally fuzzy and open to innumerable readings. Forty-seven years after its debut, 2001: A Space Odyssey continues to fascinate audiences, influencing filmmakers as artistically dissimilar as George Lucas, Alfonso Cuarón, and Christopher Nolan, and casting a long, monolithic shadow over any filmic depiction of interstellar space, all without losing its seemingly timeless mystique.
My final Eating the Fantastic episode recorded during the Kansas City Worldcon was also my final taste of Kansas City BBQ. I chose Q39 for my brisket farewell, as Bonjwing Lee, a foodie I trust, had written that the place offered “some of the most tender and well-smoked meat” he’d eaten recently according to his Eater survey on Kansas City burnt ends.
My guest this episode is the incredible prolific Robert Reed, who’s been writing award-winning science fiction for decades—and I do mean decades—starting in 1986, when he was the first Writers of the Future Grand Prize Winner for his story “Mudpuppies,” all the way to 2007, when he won the Best Novella Hugo Award for “A Billion Eves” (which I was honored to accept on his behalf at the 2007 Worldcon in Yokohama).
Why this particular collection, of all Niven’s books? It has some of my favourite stories in it, such as Eye of an Octopus for a start. It’s also an interesting collection for a writer since it charts the evolution of his Known Space writing and includes a timeline as well as some author’s notes reflecting on the haphazard creation of a milieu through a varied body of work, written over many years. Unsurprisingly, this is of particular interest to me, as I continue exploring the River Kingdom world which I’m developing. I also want to take a new and closer look at Niven’s skills and techniques, in the peace and quiet that I hope to find on this notional Desert Island. The advent of ebooks is seeing a resurgence in shorter form fiction and I reckon we can all learn a lot from looking back to the previous heyday of SF as published in weekly and monthly magazines.
What? I’m calling for a return to the past? Advocating a reactionary, old-fashioned view of SF? Not at all. Don’t be daft. I’m talking about craft, not content here. Mind you, if you want to argue with the content, you’ll need to come prepared. Niven is an eloquent and persuasive advocate for his particular world view. Do I always agree with him? No. But that’s something else I’ve always valued about reading science fiction: getting insights into attitudes that might challenge me to justify my own. All the more so in our current world, now that it’s fatally easy to end up in our own personal echo chambers, thanks to Twitter and Facebook. Reading stories from people who in operate in different spheres can definitely broaden our perspective.
To peer through it, Kraan-Korteweg and her colleagues combined the observations of several telescopes: the newly refurbished South African Large Telescope near Cape Town, the Anglo-Australian Telescope near Sydney, and X-ray surveys of the galactic plane.
Using that data, they calculated how fast each galaxy they saw above and below the galactic plane was moving away from Earth. Their number-crunching soon revealed that they all seemed to be moving together — indicating a lot of galaxies couldn’t be seen.
“It became obvious we were uncovering a massive network of galaxies, extending much further than we had ever expected,” Michelle Cluver, an astrophysicist at the University of the Western Cape, said in a release.
The researchers estimate that Vela supercluster is about the same mass of the Shapley supercluster of roughly 8,600 galaxies, which is located about 650 million light-years away. Given that the typical galaxy has about 100 billion stars, researchers estimate that Vela could contain somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 trillion stars.
(9) GODZILLA EFFECTS. “Shirogumi X Stealthworks Shin Godzilla Destruction Reel” gives some examples of the FX used in Shin Godzilla, while carefully NOT explaining why the filmmakers decided to make 90 percent of the film a foreign policy seminar about Japan’s role in world affairs
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
November 25, 1915: Albert Einstein formulated his general theory of relativity.
November 23, 1951 — DC Comics has its first feature film with Superman and the Mole Men.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
Born November 25, 1920 — Noel Neill
Born November 25, 1920 — Ricardo Montalban
Lois Lane and Khan….
(12) @MIDNIGHT PROFILES TINGLE. Chris Hardwick enlists Willam Belli, Justin Martindale and Bridget Everett to help him uncover the identity of mysterious erotic novelist Chuck Tingle.
(13) IT’S ABOUT TIME. This New York Times op-ed writer doesn’t just want to get rid of the changes between daylight savings and standard time, but wants to dump time zones too.
Most people would be happy to dispense with this oddity of timekeeping, first imposed in Germany 100 years ago. But we can do better. We need to deep-six not just daylight saving time, but the whole jerry-rigged scheme of time zones that has ruled the world’s clocks for the last century and a half.
The time-zone map is a hodgepodge — a jigsaw puzzle by Dalí. Logically you might assume there are 24, one per hour. You would be wrong. There are 39, crossing and overlapping, defying the sun, some offset by 30 minutes or even 45, and fluctuating on the whims of local satraps.
Let us all — wherever and whenever — live on what the world’s timekeepers call Coordinated Universal Time, or U.T.C. (though “earth time” might be less presumptuous). When it’s noon in Greenwich, Britain, let it be 12 everywhere. No more resetting the clocks. No more wondering what time it is in Peoria or Petropavlovsk. Our biological clocks can stay with the sun, as they have from the dawn of history. Only the numerals will change, and they have always been arbitrary.
Some mental adjustment will be necessary at first. Every place will learn a new relationship with the hours. New York (with its longitudinal companions) will be the place where people breakfast at noon, where the sun reaches its zenith around 4 p.m., and where people start dinner close to midnight. (“Midnight” will come to seem a quaint word for the zero hour, where the sun still shines.) In Sydney, the sun will set around 7 a.m., but the Australians can handle it; after all, their winter comes in June.
Why are kayaks Incredibly Rude to swans? I’m asking because we have a lot of wild turkeys on my college campus and they HATE cars. They will block you from opening car doors, circle you in your car like a shark, jump on top of cars and snap at tires.
…2/2 so I was wondering if large birds just hate human transportation or something haha. Thanks for your post, very interesting.
(In reference to a comment I made about kayaks being incredibly rude in Swan Culture)…
I’ve been looking at my inbox like “I am not some kind of ECCENTRIC BIRD WHISPERER,” but I actually know the answer to this one, and it’s hilarious.
Large birds don’t have a particular hateboner for human transportation, but wild turkeys have two unique properties that make them behave ridiculously when they collide with human populations….
The First Unique Turkey Property: Now, wild turkeys are a little bit like betta fish, in that they perceive any shiny/reflective surface that shows them a reflection as actually containing Another Turkey, and they react accordingly. When they react to the Other Turkey – usually by posturing aggressively and flaring their fins feathers majestically – the Other Turkey ESCALATES THE SITUATION by posturing as well. At some point the real turkey loses its temper and attacks, pecking and scratching and trying to take the fucker apart, only to find that the Other Turkey has protected itself with some kind of force field.
So to a wild turkey that has encountered enough autumnal car-related psychic battles, the completely logical conclusion to take away from them is that cars contain demonic spiritsthat must be subdued. Other examples of things that wild turkeys are compelled to vanquish include… well, other reflective things.
To address this, cover reflective things (you can rub soap on your car to make it less reflective) and frighten off the turkey if it’s keeping you from leaving your car….
[Thanks to Todd Dashoff, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]
Twilight Zone Prop Reproduction From the only Twilight Zone episode, scripted by Ray Bradbury, I Sing The Body Electric comes a Facsimile UnLimited original – entitled: Eye Lettuce, it represents one of the eyes available for the fabrication “Grandma”.
(4) RONDO NOMINATING OPEN. If you’re a fan who’s enjoyed James H. Burns’ columns for File 770, affirming that you’d like to see him as a nominee for this year’s Rondo Awards could make a difference.
Yours to Tell is a writers guide to fiction based on Steve and Melanie’s writing processes and experiences they’ve had teaching fiction, including two stints at the annual Odyssey Writing Workshop in New Hampshire.
About Yours to Tell, Steve says, “The book consists of a series of dialogues in which we discuss a number of topics on the writing of fiction, a method which we developed while teaching and continued to use for various articles and columns on both genre and non-genre writing. This is a unique approach for a writing guide, and has the advantage of presenting two different, but complimentary points of view for the basic issues of craft and encouragement which face all writers, whatever their level of skill and experience. We made this guidebook dense with practical information, empowering for new writers desiring a path for learning the craft, and inspiring even for those with more experience but wanting a fresh and encouraging view of the fiction writing process.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn has come out with a very positive review of 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool, but warns that some in Hollywood already have misguided reasons on why the film is a success.
“I love Deadpool even more – the film is hilariously funny, has lots of heart, and is exactly what we need right now, taking true risks in spectacle film,” Gunn posted on Facebook.
However, Gunn takes issue with the perception of an unnamed studio executive who stated (viaDeadline) that Deadpool succeeded because “The film has a self-deprecating tone that’s riotous. It’s never been done before. It’s poking fun at Marvel. That label takes itself so seriously, can you imagine them making fun of themselves in a movie? They’d rather stab themselves.”
“Come on, Deadline,” said Gunn, going on to state that saying Marvel wouldn’t poke fun at itself is “rewriting history.”
“Let’s ignore Guardians for a moment, a movie that survives from moment to moment building itself up and cutting itself down – God knows I’m biased about that one. But what do you think Favreau and Downey did in Iron Man? What the f*** was Ant-Man??!”
Gunn goes on to say that he worries studio executives will learn the wrong lessons from Deadpool.
“Deadpool was its own thing. THAT’S what people are reacting to. It’s original, it’s damn good, it was made with love by the filmmakers, and it wasn’t afraid to take risks.”
The preliminary recommendations for the Best Related Work category:
Appendix N by Jeffro Johnson.
Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini.
The Story of Moira Greyland by Moira Greyland.
Safe Space as Rape Room by Daniel Eness.
SJWs Always Lie by Vox Day.
(10) OCCURRING IN NATURE. The weekly science journal Nature for at least a decade has run an SF short story on the last page of each issue. The story in the February 4 issue was Robert Reed’s “An investment for the future.”
Nature’s brief background statement about author Reed says —
Robert Reed is the author of several hundreds stories and a few novels. He won a Hugo before it was controversial. He lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Space enthusiasts, particularly those who have a vision of humanity spreading out into the solar system and establishing settlements, have had a difficult time convincing anybody other than a small group of true believers of the legitimacy of their cause. To have a broader impact they need as much help as they can get, particularly in the form of mass entertainment that can shape the popular culture and influence the general public, making settlement seem not fantastical or crazy but instead acceptable, as simply another step in human evolution….
The Expanse is the closest depiction of what space settlement advocates must see when they dream—and yet it is not a very positive vision of the future….
Life is not entertainment and entertainment is not life. But space advocates need popular entertainment to provide positive depictions of humanity’s future in space, not negative ones. They need a culture that is not hostile to their religion, and so far they haven’t gotten that, not even from the most sophisticated portrayal of solar sci-fi to date. Dying of asphyxiation or starvation on Ceres is not an appealing vision, and none of these examples of popular entertainment have provided a satisfactory explanation of why humanity should spread out into the solar system. So far popular entertainment is not helping. Perhaps somewhere right now a space advocate is penning the next great movie about humans moving beyond low Earth orbit, one where the achievement may involve struggle, but where the payoff is greater than simply survival against all odds. After all, survival is a heck of a lot easier by simply staying on Earth.
We’ll need maps when we go to Mars, too. At least, that’s the thinking behind British mapping organisation Ordnance Survey’s new map of the Martian landscape, which presents an otherworldly location in a format earthly ramblers will find familiar.
“There’s certainly no reason why you couldn’t imagine a future where someone might actually use a map on Mars in the same way that they would use a map on Earth,” said cartographic designer Chris Wesson, who made the map of a patch of Martian topography 3672 by 2721 km across, to a scale of 1:4 million.
(16) MARTIANS NEED PHONES TOO. This 1995 ad for AT&T stars Ray Walston who played a Martian living on Earth in the 1960s TV series My Favorite Martian which is the in-joke
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dave Doering, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark Olson, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]