(1) OUTRUNNING CANCER. Pat Cadigan decided – why wait to party? “The Hormones Laughed At Me, Saying, ‘Sleep? B!tch, Please – You Can Sleep When You’re Dead! Mwahahahahahaha!’”
Truth to tell, I suspected I was going to have some sleepless nights coming up anyway. This December was my original estimated time of departure. I didn’t believe for a moment that it would be (I’ve probably said that about a thousand times, here and elsewhere). But when a doctor gives you an expiration date, it kinda sticks in your mind even if it doesn’t come true. And though I didn’t believe it, I tried to imagine what it would be like but as I never got within spitting distance of Death’s Door, it didn’t seem like a productive use of my time so I stopped.
Anyway, starting tomorrow, 1 December, every day is a party. They won’t all be noisy and lively parties; some will be too sedate to really be worthy of the term. But I’m calling them parties anyway. From 1 December till…well, who knows? Whatever I’m doing, I’ll be partying. If I’m writing, I’m partying. If I’m in the bathtub, I’m partying. If I’m reading, I’m partying. You get the idea.
(2) IT ONLY TAKES MONEY. Martin Morse Wooster knows how you can get into the Hollywood sci-fi event of the season:
Now I know you’d like nothing better than to go to the Star Wars premiere in LA and chill with Forest Whitaker afterward. Well, guess what: this experience is yours for ONLY $35,000! But you get TWO tickets.
This offer is made on a website called ifonly.com, which offers “unique experiences.” I wish I could tell you more but they demand you sign up for their newsletter before they show you what they have so that’s what I’m able to tell you.
You know, the Washington Nationals only charged me $40, and I got to see two Cy Young winners AND get a Coveted Star Wars Thingie. Five digits for a STAR WARS experience is a little much…
- 2 tickets to the premiere of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in Los Angeles on December 10
- 2 passes to the after-party
- Does not include a meet & greet with any cast members
- Must be 16 or older
- Travel and accommodations not included
- Background check may be required and guests must provide names within 24 hours of the auction’s close
Auction ends December 5.
(3) END OF TORONTO FAN INSTITUTION. In her latest newsletter for the group, Yvonne Penney announced Toronto’s First Thursday gatherings will end next week.
December will be the final First Thursday as founded by Tommy Ferguson in 1997. This decision has not been an easy one because of its longevity in the SF community in Toronto and region.
Here is why this is happening:
- I am retiring in 2017 and I have a long list of things that I want to accomplish and hopefully will have the time and continued health to do it in.
- Arthritis is slowly making its presence felt. For a number of years I have had difficulty in walking because of arthritis in my right ankle, my shoulders are in constant pain and my hips give me grief at times.
- Because of an unfortunate atmosphere that has arisen because one member decided he didn’t like the pub we were using. When the Foxes Den suddenly closed its doors (It’s now a Firkin), a new venue needed to be found, and rather than work with the group, he decided to start his own. He and his group cannot lay claim to the original pubnite as they were not around when the First Thursday Pubnite was created, which by the way was not created solely for the 2003 Worldcon bid – it predates that. Also, attendance has been low for the past several years; we no longer had the numbers, even at the Foxes Den, we once had many years ago.
This sort of split is not new; it occurs all the time anywhere in the world for any community or interest. I find it stressful….
(4) TREASURE HOUSE FOR READERS. Literary Hub reveres the memory of James Lackington — “The Man Who Invented Bookselling As We Know It”.
Today, few people are likely to remember James Lackington (1746-1815) and his once-famous London bookshop, The Temple of the Muses, but if, as a customer, you’ve ever bought a remaindered book at deep discount, or wandered thoughtfully through the over-stocked shelves of a cavernous bookstore, or spent an afternoon lounging in the reading area of a bookshop (without buying anything!) then you’ve already experienced some of the ways that Lackington revolutionized bookselling in the late 18th century. And if you’re a bookseller, then the chances are that you’ve encountered marketing strategies and competitive pressures that trace their origins to Lackington’s shop. In the 21st-century marketplace, there is sometimes a longing for an earlier, simpler age, but the uneasy tension between giant and small retailers seems to have been a constant since the beginning. The Temple of the Muses, which was one of the first modern bookstores, was a mammoth enterprise, by far the largest bookstore in England, boasting an inventory of over 500,000 volumes, annual sales of 100,000 books, and yearly revenues of £5,000 (roughly $700,000 today). All of this made Lackington a very wealthy man—admired by some and despised by others—but London’s greatest bookseller began his career inauspiciously as an illiterate shoemaker.
(5) HINES AUCTION #5. In the fifth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions, up for bid are two autographed books (one trade paperback, one hardcover) by author Stephen Leigh.
Today’s auction is for a signed trade paperback of the Spectrum Award-winning DARK WATER’S EMBRACE and a signed hardcover of CROW OF CONNEMARA, both by Stephen Leigh.
The Crow of Connemara is a contemporary Celtic fantasy set primarily in Ireland. Picking up threads from ancient Irish mythology and folktales, this story is fantasy, drama, and tragic romance all at once, a tale caught in the dark places where the world of ancient myth intersects our own, where old ways and old beliefs struggle not to be overwhelmed by the modern world.
Often compared to Ursula Le Guin’s ground-breaking The Left Hand of Darkness, Dark Water’s Embrace is a fascinating look at issues of human (and alien) sexuality. Stephen Leigh creates a rich world with elaborate care and uses this alien backdrop to delve into issues of survival, sexuality and the meaning of life itself.
(6) STRAHAN’S FAVORITES FROM THIS YEAR’S SHORT NOVELS. Spotted via Black Gate, Jonathan Strahan posted his imaginary ToC of Best Short Novels 2016
- The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor)
- The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor)
- Every Heart A Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor)
- This Census-taker, China Mieville (Del Rey)
- The Charge and the Storm, An Owomoyela (Asimov’s)
- The Devil You Know, K.J. Parker (Tor)
- The Iron Tactician, Alastair Reynolds (Newcon)
- The Best Story I Can Manage, Robert Shearman (Five Storeys High)
- The Vanishing Kind, Lavie Tidhar (F&SF)
- A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor)
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
- November 30, 2011 — A pristine copy of Action Comics #1, famed for the first appearance of Superman, sold for $2,161,000. It was the first comic book to break the $2 million mark.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born November 30, 1937 – Ridley Scott
(9) QUARK FOR REALZ? Daniel Dern drew a connection between this New York Times news item and a Seventies TV show — “Space Trash Collector? A Japanese Entrepreneur Wants the Job”.
Sitting in a drab industrial neighborhood surrounded by warehouses and factories, Astroscale’s Tokyo office seems appropriately located for a company seeking to enter the waste management business.
Only inside do visitors see signs that its founder, Mitsunobu Okada, aspires to be more than an ordinary garbageman. Schoolroom pictures of the planets decorate the door to the meeting room. Satellite mock-ups occupy a corner. Mr. Okada greets guests in a dark blue T-shirt emblazoned with his company’s slogan: Space Sweepers.
Mr. Okada is an entrepreneur with a vision of creating the first trash collection company dedicated to cleaning up some of humanity’s hardest-to-reach rubbish: the spent rocket stages, inert satellites and other debris that have been collecting above Earth since Sputnik ushered in the space age. He launched Astroscale three years ago in the belief that national space agencies were dragging their feet in facing the problem, which could be tackled more quickly by a small private company motivated by profit.
Dern remembers Quark was a 1977-1978 TV show. Per Wikipedia:
Quark was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of the spy spoof Get Smart.
The show was set on a United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol Cruiser, an interstellar garbage scow operating out of United Galaxies Space Station Perma One in the year 2226. Adam Quark, the main character, works to clean up trash in space by collecting “space baggies” with his trusted and highly unusual crew.
In its short run, Quark satirized such science fiction as Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Flash Gordon. Three of the episodes were direct parodies of Star Trek episodes.
(10) MIND MELD RETURNS. At Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Shana DuBois curated “Mind Meld: Some of Our Favorite Characters”.
Kate Wilhelm wrote, “Great fiction reveals that there is no such thing as a common, everyday uninteresting person. They are all interesting if you learn enough about them to discover who lives behind the facade.”
So we asked members of the genre community:
What is one of your favorite novels in which the characters sucked you into the story? What about these characters sets them apart?
The panelists answering the question are: Michael Damian Thomas, Cheryl Morgan, Jana Nyman, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Arianne “Tex” Thompson, Rachel S. Cordasco, and Beth Cato.
(11) FIGHTING ALZHEIMERS. Bill Gates tells about the research he saw on a visit to CalTech in “Why I’d Love To Be A College Student Again”.
People often think that the U.S. spends a huge amount of money—perhaps too much—on R&D. In fact, all U.S. R&D spending accounts for less than 1 percent of national income.
I’ve written before about the importance of government investment to jumpstart innovation. Government-backed research in universities and labs leads to new ideas and technology that build new businesses, create jobs, and strengthen our overall economy.
But those big, life-changing discoveries and innovations—from the cancer cures to moonshots to solar cells– often get their start as an experiment in a university lab, an equation sketched on a professor’s blackboard, or a student asking, “What if?”
A new idea is a fragile thing. It needs allies to nurture it. Government R&D investments provide that important support. Without it, we would have fewer scientific breakthroughs.
Let me give a couple examples of why this is so important.
Some of the most exciting research I learned about during my visit was from Caltech scientists working on identifying possible treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. All of the researchers received government R&D funding.
(12) VISION QUEST. Diane Duane told Facebook readers she developed an eye problem last Sunday. She feared it was a torn retina. It wasn’t – though the real problem is also a concern.
So here’s the tl:dr; version of today’s episode of the Adventure of the Dexter Eye.
Part 1: What happened to me was (thank all Gods in the neighborhood) NOT any kind of retinal detachment, vitreous detachment, or similar traumatic damage to the retina. So today’s teaching moment is: even if you are a health care professional (or former one) and expert at Googling For Symptoms, don’t be so sure you know what’s going on.
This means that I’ve dodged this bullet, only to find I’m standing in front of a bigger, slower one.*
Part 2: What seems to have happened to me is a small transient circulatory blockage in the retina….
And that could be symptomatic of any number of other problems.
This is a herald of other things that may be going on elsewhere. So over the next couple of weeks I get to go to my GP here and have a full workup of bloods and various diagnostic procedures to be determined as we go along, with an eye to ruling in/out a complex of possibilities: circulatory system problems, heart problems, incipient dIabetes, plaque, sunspots, you name it. (There are way too many possible causes for this event…) (OKAY, maybe not sunspots.)
(13) MARTIAN HOPS. The Space Review posted the first part of a discussion of two new productions with Martian roots. “Love and a Red Planet: popular entertainment and the settlement of Mars (part 1)” at The Space Review.
It takes Hollywood about two years to produce a movie or a television show. It can happen faster, and it certainly can be done slower—a situation often referred to as “development hell” in the industry—but two years is about average. Thus, it is unlikely that any of the Mars-themed shows and movies appearing today are a direct result of the success of last year’s movie The Martian. More likely, National Geographic’s Mars series and the weepy teen romance The Space Between Us got started as a result of the success of Andy Weir’s 2014 book that inspired the hit movie, as well as the increased attention that human exploration of Mars gained starting around 2013 or so with Mars One and Elon Musk. The success of the movie, which starred Matt Damon and premiered in fall 2015, probably only reassured any nervous financiers that movies and television shows that used Mars as a backdrop could find an audience.
Mars premiered on The National Geographic Channel on November 14. The Space Between Us was to open in theaters in mid-December (it has recently been delayed to early February), but had a special advance showing in Washington, DC, a couple of weeks ago. Both have at their core fictionalized stories about the first humans on Mars, and in both cases they depict plans for settlement involving public-private partnerships, as opposed to the more common theme of human exploration of Mars. Because of these similarities they serve as useful indicators of how the subject of human settlement of Mars—not simply exploration—is being depicted in popular entertainment. Has Mars-themed entertainment been liberated of some of its prior constraints and is it evolving in new ways, or is it still beholden to many of the standard tropes we’ve seen in numerous other movies? This article will address The Space Between Us, and the second part will address the National Geographic series Mars.
Has Mars-themed entertainment been liberated of some of its prior constraints and is it evolving in new ways, or is it still beholden to many of the standard tropes we’ve seen in numerous other movies?
…Part 2 will address National Geographic Channel’s Mars miniseries.
(14) DEEP SPACE NEIN. With fake news getting so much attention right now, can a new Moon mission succeed in convincing people Neil Armstrong really went there in 1969? “German Mission to the Moon Will Prove the Apollo Landings Weren’t a Hoax”. Gizmodo has the story.
A German Lunar X-Prize team has announced its intentions to send two mobile probes to the Moon to inspect the lunar rover left behind by the Apollo 17 mission. Finally, something that’ll get the Moon landing conspiracy nutters to shut the hell up.
The group, known as PT Scientists, is one of 16 teams currently vying for the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize, a competition requiring a private group to land an autonomous vehicle on the Moon, travel more than 500 meters (1,640 feet), and transmit high-definition photographs back to Earth. The group is currently working with German automobile manufacturer Audi to develop the rover, and it has signed a deal with broker Spaceflight Industries to secure a ride on a commercial launch vehicle (which rocket company is yet to be determined).
[Thanks to Murray Moore, JJ, Daniel Dern, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]