(1) NASA “HUMAN COMPUTER” NOW ON THE MAP. “Moon Mountain Name Honors NASA Mathematician Melba Mouton” the space agency announced this week.
Scientists recently named a mesa-like lunar mountain that towers above the landscape carved by craters near the Moon’s South Pole. This unique feature will now be referred to as “Mons Mouton,” after NASA mathematician and computer programmer Melba Roy Mouton (MOO-tawn).
Members of NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) mission proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The flat-topped mountain is adjacent to the western rim of the Nobile Crater, on which VIPER will land and explore during its approximately 100-day mission as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
The IAU theme for naming mountains (mons) on the Moon focuses on “scientists who have made outstanding or fundamental contributions to their fields.” The lunar landmark naming honors and recognizes Mouton’s life, her accomplishments as a computer scientist, and her contributions to NASA’s missions.
“Melba Mouton was one of our pioneering leaders at NASA,” said Sandra Connelly, the acting associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “She not only helped NASA take the lead in exploring the unknown in air and space, but she also charted a path for other women and people of color to pursue careers and lead cutting-edge science at NASA.”
Mouton was first employed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in 1959, just a year after the space agency was established. She became the head mathematician who led a group of “human computers,” who tracked the Echo 1 and 2 satellites, launched into Earth’s orbit in 1960 and 1964, respectively.
A few years later, in 1961, Mouton was the head programmer responsible for the Mission and Trajectory Analysis Division’s Program Systems Branch – the team who coded computer programs used to calculate spacecraft locations and trajectories, giving NASA the ability to track spacecraft while in orbit.
Before retiring in 1973, after a career at NASA that spanned 14 years, Mouton had become the assistant chief of research programs for the Trajectory and Geodynamics Division at Goddard. In appreciation of her dedicated service and outstanding accomplishments, which culminated in the successful Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20, 1969, she was recognized with an Apollo Achievement Award.
(2) BSFS REVAMPS COC. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has posted the updated BSFS Code of Conduct, approved by its Board of Directors on February 11. An extensive document, its Introduction says:
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) exists to promote the creation and appreciation of science fiction, fantasy, and related sub-genres, primarily through literary art forms, but also embracing the many related cultural arts in graphical, musical, theatrical, and media forms inspired by speculative fiction. BSFS welcomes all people to be part of the activities we sponsor and to consider becoming one of our members.
We affirmatively welcome individuals who identify with groups based on characteristics such as, but not limited to (in alphabetical order) age, ancestry, citizenship, color, disability status, familial status (including marital status), gender identity and/or expression, immigration status, level of educational attainment, national origin, physical appearance, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and/or veteran status. Attendees at our meetings/events and participants in our social media and/or digital platforms, are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that is courteous and respectful of the other people present. By attending a BSFS event, all individuals are required to abide by BSFS policies, including this Code of Conduct, venue policies, and all municipal, state, and federal laws….
(3) HARPERCOLLINS RESOLUTION. Publishers Weekly, in “HarperCollins Union Ratifies New Contract”, says strikers return to work next week.
After three months on strike, unionized HarperCollins employees will return to work on Tuesday, February 21, after voting 194-10 to ratify a labor agreement with the publisher that includes a higher minimum salary and new benefits.
“We are pleased that the agreement was ratified,” HC said in a statement. “We are excited to move forward together.”
According to Local 2110 of the UAW, the union that represents unionized HarperCollins employees, the contract “achieves improved compensation and benefits, including higher minimums, guaranteed annual increases for everyone rated above ‘unsatisfactory,’ two hours of overtime without approval for lowest paid employees, improved union rights with release time during work hours, paid time to participate in the joint labor-management committee and company’s diversity initiatives, improved paid time off, and ability to continue to work remotely until July 1.”
In terms of minimum salaries, the lowest salary, $47,500, will increase to $48,500 in January 2024 and go up to $50,000 in January 2025. More details of the agreement can be found here….
(4) NEW VOICE IN ANALOG. Rosemary Claire Smith’s first installment of Analog’s book review column, “The Reference Library”, appeared in the latest issue. (Via Cat Rambo.)
…Thankfully, while awaiting the next crewed mission to the Moon, readers like me can sink into a spate of new books that build on recent scientific discoveries and technological advances to reenvision what off-planet settlements could look like during this century and into the next. John Kessel, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Maurice Broaddus put forward diverse, well-thought-out visions for lunar settlements and communities of varying sizes in space, mindful of the ramifications these developments may have for everyone who remains on Earth. …
(5) INCREDIBLE WITNESS. Today’s litigation release from Dominion Voting Systems includes something of genre interest: “Sidney Powell cited woman who claimed to be headless, time-traveling entity in email pushing election conspiracy theories” reports MSN.com.
Trump-allied lawyer Sidney Powell sent Fox an email full of wild claims from a woman claiming to be a decapitated time-traveler, according to a recent court filing.
Excerpts of the message formed part of a filing from Dominion Voting Systems released on Thursday in its defamation case against Fox….
(6) PERISHO OBITUARY. The SFWA Blog yesterday mourned the passing of Marjorie Nelson Perisho who died December 29. Their tribute begins:
Marjorie Nelson Perisho (24 June 1939–29 December 2022), who also wrote under the names Marjorie Nelson and Majliss Larson, was a lifetime SFWA member. Her Star Trek novel Pawns and Symbols, was published in 1985 and later translated into Serbian….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1962 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
So what is our Beginning this Scroll? Well it’s A Clockwork Orange.
I read this novel by Burgess oddly enough in a high school literature class. Brave teacher, I’d say.
It was published sixty-one years ago by William Heinemann, and turned into the Kubrick film nine years later. The film won a Hugo at the first L.A. Con.
A true first goes for four thousand dollars currently.
Now A Clockwork Orange to me, and this is emphasized in this Beginning, represent the banality of Evil. Anthony Burgess makes the lads sound so, well, ordinary here. They’re just drinking milk. Drugged out milk, yes, but milk none the less. And planning to do vicious things.
So here’s our Beginning…
What’s it going to be then, eh?’ There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry. The Korova Milkbar was a milk-plus mesto, and you may, O my brothers, have forgotten what these mestos were like, things changing so skorry these days and everybody very quick to forget, newspapers not being read much neither. Well, what they sold there was milk plus something else. They had no licence for selling liquor, but there was no law yet against prodding some of the new veshches which they used to put into the old moloko, so you could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom or one or two other veshches which would give you a nice quiet horrorshow fifteen minutes admiring Bog And All His Holy Angels And Saints in your left shoe with lights bursting all over your mozg. Or you could peet milk with knives in it, as we used to say, and this would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of dirty twenty-to-one, and that was what we were peeting this evening I’m starting off the story with.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 17, 1912 — Andre Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. If you putting together the essential reading list of hers, what would be on it? (Died 2005.)
- Born February 17, 1913 — David Duncan. A screenwriter and novelist who was twice nominated for Hugos, first at Seacon for writing the screenplay for The Time Machine, and at NyCon 3 for the same work on Fantastic Voyage. He also wrote Time Machine: The Journey Back sequel to The Time Machine. And he wrote The Outer Limits’ “The Human Factor” episode. (Died 1999.)
- Born February 17, 1930 — Ruth Rendell, whose full name of Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE (née Grasemann) is quite wonderful. I know her only as an English author of very superb thrillers and somewhat disturbing murder mysteries but ISFDB lists her as doing horror as well to my surprise in the form as three novels, to wit The Killing Doll, The Tree of Hands and The Bridesmaid, plus a not inconsiderable amount of short fiction that is fantasy no doubt. She was also the editor of A Warning to the Curious: The Ghost Stories of M.R. James. (Died 2015.)
- Born February 17, 1939 — Kathy Keeton. Founder and publisher of Omni. It was founded by her and her partner and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse. It would publish a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata”, Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” “and “Johnny Mnemonic” and George R. R. Martin’s “Sandkings” to name a few of the stories that appeared there. (Died 1997.)
- Born February 17, 1947 — Bruce Gillespie, 76. He’s one of the major Australian SF fans and is best known for his long-running fanzine SF Commentary. Over the years, he’s published The Metaphysical Review, Steam Engine Time and is currently putting out Treasure. He was fan guest of honor at Aussiecon 3, the 57th Worldcon held in Melbourne in 1999.
- Born February 17, 1954 — Don Coscarelli, 69. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- This cartoon from The New Yorker dares to contradict Stan Lee.
(10) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 77 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Slightly Less Troglodyte-y Than You”, is live.
John Coxon has trauma, Alison Scott has poetry and Liz Batty hasn’t got Paramount+. We draft our picks for the Hugo Awards nominations in Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form before, er, picking some more things.
(11) BANNED PICTURE BOOKS. PEN America introduces readers to “The Most Banned Picture Books of 2022”. There’s a three-way tie for first place.
PEN America counted school book bans in the 2021-2022 school year and found an alarming 1,648 titles banned somewhere in the United States — the most comprehensive count of book bans to date. With some titles restricted in multiple places, the total count of book bans is more than 2,500.
The most banned books were primarily young adult or adult titles, but picture books for the youngest readers were not spared, with 317 titles banned. Several of the most banned picture books are nonfiction, including histories of civil rights and gay pride. Others are lighthearted fiction about animals or babies. Most feature a protagonist of color or characters who reflect the LGBTQ+ experience.
This is the list of the most banned picture books of the 2021-2022 school year, according to the PEN America Index of School Book Bans. For more on what kinds of bans are happening and where, see the full Banned in the USA report.
MOST BANNED PICTURE BOOKS
1 (tie). Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, by Rob Sanders and Steve Salerno, 5 bans
This true story traces the origins of of the Gay Pride flag from its beginnings in 1978 with activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker.
1 (tie). I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, and Shelagh McNicholas, 5 bans
The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of transgender activist Jazz Jennings.
1 (tie). And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell, Justin Richardson, and Henry Cole, 5 bans
The heartwarming true story of two male penguins at the Central Park zoo who adopt a baby penguin.
(12) IF YOU’RE NEAR SANTA MONICA. Variety tells fans, “Guillermo del Toro to Host ‘Pinocchio’ 35mm Screening at Aero Theatre”.
In celebration of his love for animation, Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro is set to program a weekend of animation for the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica called “Guillermo del Toro’s Weekend of Animation.”
The films programmed by del Toro will include screenings of “The Red Turtle” and “I Lost My Body.”
The weekend of animation will open with the 2016 Studio Ghibli film, “The Red Turtle,” with del Toro virtually introducing the film. Following that, there will be a screening of the Netflix film “I Lost My Body.”
Sunday concludes with a 35mm screening of the Oscar-nominated film “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.” Del Toro and co-director Mark Gustafson will attend a post-screening Q&A….
(13) MANCON 1952. Rob Hansen has added pages covering the first Manchester con to his fanhistory website: “MANCON (1952)” at Fiawol.org.
…Next came the visiting celebrities. John Russell Fearn spoke first, and he turned out to be a very nice friendly sort of character. In answers to an absolute barrage of questions, he released the following information – He enjoys writing S.F. and has done so for about 25 years. The pseudonym Vargo Statten was his publisher’s idea, not his; he doesn’t like it, but as he’s under contract there’s nothing he can do. Astron del Martia is another of his names, but he only wrote one story under it, “The Trembling World’. The rest are not his. The Vargo Statten tales are turned out at the rate of three a month, each one comprising 40,000 words, taking eight days to write. It’s a full time job even when they are not accepted. He sometimes finds it difficult to find time for a shave….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. There’s quite a cast in “Extrapolations”, coming from Apple TV+ on March 17.
Extrapolations is a bracing drama from writer, director and executive producer Scott Z. Burns that introduces a near future where the chaotic effects of climate change have become embedded into our everyday lives. Eight interwoven stories about love, work, faith and family from across the globe will explore the intimate, life-altering choices that must be made when the planet is changing faster than the population. Every story is different, but the fight for our future is universal. And when the fate of humanity is up against a ticking clock, the battle between courage and complacency has never been more urgent. Are we brave enough to become the solution to our own undoing before it’s too late?
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Robert Brown, Rob Hansen, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]