Monday, March 31, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

At the Core

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Milky Way stretching over the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory.

Going Retro: Hugo 1939

In addition to being able to vote on items produced in 2013, one can also vote on items produced in 1938. This is to honor those who went before who did not get honored (two reasons, in general: items produced before there were awards and items produced during the period in World War II when awards were put aside for more urgent matters).

Initially I was baffled by this, but once I found the lists from the era (mentioned below) and started thinking about titles, I was pretty surprised by the number of titles I remembered reading. Overall, 1938 was on the cusp of what have been the "Golden Age of Science Fiction" for me, just ahead of most of the titles or authors that I feel shaped my interests in the field. Titles chosen or names listed are stories I actually have read, or have read enough by that person to have picked something that  would have likely enjoyed (or seen the influence of that person on the field).

Best Novel:

Edmond "World Wrecker" Hamilton, The Fire Princess, Weird Tales
C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
E.E. "Doc" Smith, The Galactic Patrol, Astounding (like I'd choose anything other?)
T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone
Jack "Star Smasher" Williamson, The Legion of Time, Astounding

It's a shame that two of the author's did not have nicknames. Yes, Edmond Hamilton was "World Wrecker". I remember that to this day and I probably came across the reference in the 1960's.

Source list here.

Best Novella:

Otto Binder (as Eando Binder), Eye of the Past, Astounding
John W. Campbell, Jr. as Don A. Stuart, Who Goes There?, Astounding
Raymond Z. Gallun, Something from Jupiter, Astounding
Henry Kuttner, The Time Trap, Marvel Science Stories
John Wyndham, Sleepers of Mars, Tales of Wonder

Henry Kuttner has started to get reprinted and I don't think John W. Campbell has really been out of print for long. Raymond Z. Gallun wrote many classics, but sadly seems forgotten. Binder and Wyndham are probably the most out of print.

Source list here.

Best Novelette:

John W. Campbell, Jr. as Don A. Stuart, Dead Knowledge, Astounding
Raymond Z. Gallun, Seeds of the Dusk, Astounding
C.L. Moore, Werewoman, Leaves
Eric Frank Russell, The World's Eighth Wonder, Tales of Wonder
Clifford D. Simak, Reunion on Ganymede, Astounding

As above, for commentary on what's in print, add Russell and Simak as being mostly out of print and Moore being possibly coming back into print. Oddly enough, I just re-read Werewoman recently, as part of our coverage on Moore for one of the podcasts I am involved with.

Source list here.

Best Short Story:

Otto Binder, The Atom Smasher, Amazing
John W. Campbell, Jr., The Brain Pirates, Thrilling Wonder Stories
L. Sprague de Camp, Hyperpelosity, Astounding
Lester Del Rey, Helen O'Loy, Astounding
Clark Ashton Smith, Mother of Toads, Weird Tales

The de Camp story has been reprinted enough to possibly be familiar to current readers. The Del Rey story as well. Smith has seen a fairly steady print run, most recently in the multi-volume set from Nightshade Books (still available as eBooks and even as audiobooks, if not currently in paper form).

Source list here.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form):

The Boys from Syracuse (musical)
A Christmas Carol (film)
Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (film)
The Gladiator (film)
I Married an Angel (musical)

In this case, I've seen the film, am familiar with the source material, or am familiar with the music.

Source list here.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form):

Orson Welles, Around the World in Eighty Days
Orson Welles, Dracula
Orson Welles, The Man Who Was Thursday
David Chrisman and Bill Sweets, The Shadow
Orson Welles, The War of the Worlds

Mixed bag here of being familiar with the source material, having heard the actual item. Also, I was blessed with a grandfather who told me in detail about many of the radio programs he listened to.

Source list here.

Best Editor (Short Form):

John W. Campbell, Jr., Astounding Stories
Raymond A. Palmer, Amazing Stories
T. O'Coner Sloane, Amazing Stories
Mort Weisinger, Thrilling Wonder Stories
Farnsworth Wright, Weird Tales

Amazing changed editors partly through the year, hence the two names.

Source list here.

Best Professional Artist:

Margaret Brundage, Weird Tales
Virgil Finlay, Weird Tales
Frank R. Paul, Amazing Stories
Alex Schomburg, Thrilling Wonder Stories
H.W. Wesso, Astounding Stories

Source list here.

Best Fanzine:

Current Fantasy, Sam Moskowitz
The FAPA Fan, Donald A. Wollheim
Leaves, Robert H. Barlow
Science and Fantasy Advertiser, Bob Tucker
Science Fiction Critic, Claire P. Beck

For this category, it was the most difficult to break down. I went with names that I knew, publications that seemed to have had an impact beyond "fan writing".

Source list here.

Best Fan Writer:

Forest J. Ackerman
Claire P. Beck
Sam Moskowitz
Bob Tucker
Donald A. Wollheim

As above. Now, I'm not 100% sure all these folks actually wrote as well as edited, but since most fanzines had "staff" that wore many hats, it seems a sure bet that each of these wrote something at some point!

Source list here.

The remaining categories either didn't apply (there was no "fancast" in that era) or I just didn't have enough information to make any decision. For example, for Best Editor (Long Form) it is stated that the candidate must have edited four books in the period. Not only can't I find the names of editors from the period, I doubt if easy access to titles, let alone quantity of titles exists!

Hugo Nominations

Because all the cool kids have put their nominations up...

For these categories, I've actually read the title listed or read enough of the person's "body of work" to have made a decision. Alas, you know my mantra: "So many books, so little time, so many ex-lover's to bury." That goes doubly so for shorter works. If you're bored, if you think there is nothing to read, you are not subscribing to the vast number of electronic periodicals out there. This era mirrors the 1930's onwards; we may not have physical newsstands in our cities anymore, but you have a electronic newsstand with a metric ton of written or spoken fiction to choose from every month.


Charles E. Gannon, Fire with Fire, Baen Books
John Lambshead, Wolf in Shadow, Baen Books
Linda Nagata, The Red: First Light, Mythic Island Press
Chuck Wendig, The Cormorant, Angry Robot Books
Django Wexler, The Thousand Names, Roc


Neal Asher, The Other Gun, Asimov's
Beth Bernobich, Thief of War, Tor Dot Com
Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages, Wakulla Springs, Tor Dot Com
Mary Anne Mohanraj, The Stars Change, Circlet Press
Charles Stross, Equoid, Tor Dot Com


David D. Levine, Wreck of the Mars Adventure, Old Mars (edited by Dozois & Martin)
Ken Liu, The Litigation Monster and the Monkey King, Lightspeed
Will McIntosh, Over There, Asimov's
Ian Tregillis, What Doctor Ivanovich Saw, Subterranean
Carrie Vaughn, Harry and Marlowe Escape the Mechanical Siege in Paris, Lightspeed

Short Story:

Maurice Broaddus, Ebony Paradox, Punchels Magazine
Carrie Cuinn, About the Mirror and Its Pieces, Woman and Other Constructs (anthology)
Tim Maughan, Collison DetectionFutures Exchange
Ramez Naam, Water, Institute for the Future (website)
E. Lily Yu, The Pilgrim and the AngelMcSweeny's Quarterly

Best Related Work:

Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column (ongoing series of columns and podcasts)
David Langford, Benchmarks Revisited and Benchmarks Concluded, Ansible Editions
Stanislaw Lem, Summa Technologiae, University of Minnesota Press
Andrew Liptak, SF History Column at Kirkus Reviews (ongoing series of articles)
David Portree, Beyond Apollo, Popular Science (web series of articles)

Best Graphic Story:

Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton, The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who, IDW
Harlan Ellison & Paul Chadwick, Seven Against Chaos, DC Comics
Matt Fraction & David Aja & Javier Pulido, Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon, Marvel
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics
Jim Zub, Skull Kickers: Eighty Eyes on Evil Island, Image Comics

I regret only being able to make four nominations here, but despite the best machinations of my fellow Three Hoarsemen, Jeff Patterson and John Stevens, I am still sadly lacking in knowledge of this part of the field!

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form):

An Adventure in Space and Time, Mart Gatiss
Gravity, Alfonso CuarĂ³n
Orphan Black, Season One, Graeme Manson and John Fawcett (creators)
Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro (director)
World's End, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form):

The Day of the Doctor, Steven Moffat
The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, Peter Davison
The Name of the Doctor, Steven Moffat
Natural Selection, Orphan Black, John Fawcett and Graeme Manson
The Night of the Doctor, Steven Moffat

Best Editor (Short Form):

John Joseph Adams, Lightspeed
Neil Clarke, Clarkesworld
Ellen Datlow, Tor Dot Com
Irene Gallo, Tor Dot Com
Jonathan Strahan, Subterranean

Take note: I nominated these as much for their online work (more so, pretty much) than print work. The field is shifting the center of gravity.

Best Editor (Long Form):

Lou Anders (Pyr)
Ginger Buchanan (Ace)
Lee Harris, Angry Robot
William Schafer (Subterranean)
Betsy Wollheim (DAW)

This probably was the hardest category to fill. The requirement is that the person edited four books during the period. Can I name four titles that each of these edited? Absolutely not. I went with people who worked at publishing houses where I buy a steady stream of titles. You'd think that editors would do a better job of promoting themselves, or publishers would do a better job of making it easy to reward their staff with a nomination, but not so, it seems.

Professional Artist:

Dalve Halverson (a.k.a., "Joey HiFi")
John Harris
Gregory Manchess 
John Picacio
Jon Sullivan

Best Semiprozine:

Apex Magazine
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Bull Spec
Crossed Genres

I read all of these electronically, again that center of gravity shifting. Also, what the hell is a "semiprozine". Do we have too many award categories, or what?

Best Fanzine:

Stainless Steel Droppings, Carl V. Anderson
My Bookish Ways, Kristin Centorcelli
Bookworm Blues, Sarah Chorn
The Functional Nerds, Patrick Hester and John Anealio
Sci-Fi Fan Letter, Jessica Strider

All online sites. The fanzine is dead. Long live the alternate form. Do mimeograph machines even exist anymore? It also struck me that I don't really consult any site (other than SF Signal) on a regular basis. I stated (on Twitter) that "Twitter was my fanzine". Several people either agreed, or said that they had thought the same thing recently. That continues to shift.

Best Fancast:

The Coode Street Podcast, Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan
Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Alex Pierce
SF Crossing the Gulf, Karen Burnham and Karen Lord
The SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester
The Three Hoarsemen, Fred Kiesche, John Stevens and Jeff Patterson

Well, d'oh, when it comes to The Three Hoarsemen! Overall, these are the podcasts that caused me to acquire books or caused me to think the most in 2013.

Best Fan Writer:

Carrie Cuinn
Kameron Hurley
Stina Leicht
John Stevens
Paul Weimer

Best Fan Artist:

Patrick Hester
Mandie Manzano
Jeff Patterson
Allie Strom
Sarah Webb

Next to Best Editor (Long Form), the hardest category to fill. Given that I don't read paper fanzines and most sites use cover art or film or television stills and the like as "illustration" it was hard to find names (other that two friends)!

John W. Campbell Award (Not A Hugo):

Adam Christopher
John Chu
Wesley Chu
Tim Maughan
Ramez Naam

And there we are!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's Like They Know Me

Tsundoku. It's how I live. Use it.

More from the Hunter

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day follows up on yesterday's posting and gives us another view of the many nebula found in the constellation of Orion. Orion is westering these nights, so get your views in now (or wait for much later in the year).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Clouds In My Coffee

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a deep exposure look at one of my favorite areas of the night sky, the Great Nebula in Orion. A fantastic picture from Robert Fields!

The Library of Babel

This year I have been reading Jorge Luis Borges, somebody that I've read, on occasion. I am only an egg. He's endless fascinating, especially as he blurs the lines between reality and fiction. There is a line between Borges and Eco and Delany, with an occasional intersection by Lem that I am beginning to see.

Today, one of the churches of Tlon Platonically maintains that a certain pain, a certain greenish tint of yellow, a certain temperature, a certain sound, are the only reality. All men, in the vertiginous moment of coitus, are the same man. All men who repeat a line from Shakespeare are William Shakespeare.

Works for me! In the meantime, A Lecture on Johnson and Boswell by Borges.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Red and Blue for Seventeen

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an anaglyph of the Apollo 17 landing site, showing the lunar rover in the foreground and the delicate bubble of human-compatible environment in the background.

Dismantling the "State"

Can you imagine the head of any government these days becoming so accessible and dismantling the bureaucracy that surrounds him or her?

Tell Me, Have You Seen the Yellow Sign?

I am vastly amused to learn that a classic work of the weird, which I read as a kid, has become the obsession of so many television viewers. Here's a look at some of the other fictions which have skirted True Detective (an HBO series that I haven't seen yet). Maybe next season they can embrace Clark Ashton Smith?

Pi Day

Real-world uses of Pi include an end result of some stunning pictures, courtesy of the Cassini orbiter.


Linking back to this post from earlier today, here's Deep Space Station 41 in Woomera (Island Lagoon), Australia.

Unloading 38

Ground crew unload cargo from the Soyuz capsule that returned Expedition 38 from the International Space Station.

Sailing the Solar Seas

While more widely known as the place that brought the Dean Drive to the world, Astounding Science Fiction also brought us an early appearance of solar sails in a non-fiction article.

Racy Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings as depicted by Frank Frazetta. What might have been for the movies (and maybe was, in an alternate universe).

Mars as an Abode of Life

An image of Mars, based on the research (however mistaken) of Lowell. Ah, the planetary romance!

Space Ghost Coast to Coast

A website that shows what components of the Deep Space Network are talking to which of our deep space missions!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Desiderius Erasmus

I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their store-chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily use thumb them, batter them, wear them out, who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults.

I have turned my entire attention to Greek. The first thing I shall do, as soon as the money arrives, is to buy some Greek authors; after that, I shall buy clothes.


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 2685 in the constellation of Ursa Major. Also known as Arp 336, the galaxy shows a ring of stars and dust perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 63 (NGC 5055) in Canes Venatici. Popularly known as the Sunflower Galaxy, the picture is courtesy of Bill Snyder of Sierra Remote Observatories.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Heart of the Rose

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the inside of one of my favorite astronomical objects, NGC 2244 and NGC 2237, the Rosette Nebula.

Creative Carries

The "everyday carries" for "creative" people. (And by creative they seem mostly to be advertising. How about the EDC's of non-creative types?)

Here Comes the Sun

Saturn's second-largest moon, Rhea, enjoys the rays of the Sun. Image courtesy of the long-running Cassini, may it long be funded!

Second Glory

The ESA's Venus Express images a "glory" from Venus.

Avoiding the Kessler Syndrome

Here's one solution for ever-increasing space junk. Blow it all away with a laser! (Funding suggestion: I bet a lot of people would like to push the button...)

Chipping Away

A roundtable discussion over at Locus regarding Samuel R. Delany. Good stuff from many people such as Fabio Fernandes, Cat Rambo, John Clute and more. And if you're interested in a take by three cranky old guys...see this.

King Cake

Another day, another reading list. This time, Stephen King's list for writers.

Monday, March 10, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day depicts one mystery that might be the sign to prove another mystery. Are the bright regions of gamma-rays from our galactic center signs of dark matter?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hole In One

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us the side of Pavonis Mons, one of several large martian volcanoes. A meteor punctured the side of the volcano, opening up access to what appears to be a cavern. What might lie beneath?

Stan Lee

Stan Lee has some thoughts for comics fans. I am amused.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ellison, Asimov, Wolfe

Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov and Gene Wolfe discuss science fiction. And two other guys, but you can ignore them. With a hat tip to long-time fellow blogger, Three Star Dave.

The Demise of Civilization

The internet and social media will drive a wedge between people and make them less social! Or maybe we're talking about newspapers, as Italo Calvino suggests? (Puts me in mind of some images that have been posted recently, sort of like this, this, this or this, where everything old is new again.)

Surface Tensions

How is the situation in Ukraine affect relations on the International Space Station? (Caveat: Ask me sometime my opinion of this site.)

As the Ice Retreats

Coming as we are on the 100th anniversary of the War to End All Wars, it is strange to see that retreating glaciers are uncovering the bodies of some who fought in that conflict.

Unseen Vision

A look at one of the several failed attempts to film Frank Herbert's Dune. Coming soon (maybe) to a theater near you as a documentary covering the effort.

They're All Books

I've maximized my reading time by combining paper books, electronic books and audio books. Jo Walton looks at how having an eBook gadget has changed her reading habits.


Following up on this posting, a high cuisine manager and a high cuisine chef review French and British rations (what, no review of American rations?).

Hidden Assistance

During the second height of the Cold War, NASA and the Soviet space program worked together on a mission to Halley's Comet (audio story).

Kicking It Old School

In the world of physics, a step away from the Power Point presentation and back to whiteboards. The military probably could use a retrograde shot in the arm like this as well.

The Fix Is In

Fixing coffee. An interesting story, but I think we have a long way to go.

The Persistence of Vision

Don't give up. If a wiener dog can do it, so can you!

On the Road

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is an anaglyph three-dimensional image taken by MSL Curiosity on the way to "Mount Sharp" (Aeolis Mons to cite the official name).

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


A look at the U.S. Army's treasure of historical artifacts.

Do You Know the Way to Sesame Street?

It appears that Philip Glass knows the way!

Civilization Falls

A base commander bans the barbaric practice of...sandwiches...


That nice Dave Langford is back with all the genre news that's fit to print...errr...put on a website.

Oooohhh...conferences on Iain M. Banks and M. John Harrison! If only I could win that lottery!
OUTRAGED LETTERS. E-mail Too Eldritch to Answer Dept: "The Lovecraft Reference Resource are a new religious organisation established to represent that which is Lovecraftian on the Internet into one place. Our idea is that the Lovecraftian is being established on the Internet as a growing artistic, literary and religious movement, and that if we can organise this towards one resource, then a more cohesed movement can be organised. [...]" Partly cohesed and partly squamous.
Errr...what he said.

The Sky is Falling

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day takes a good look at IC 2944 in the constellation of Centaurus. A wonderful "amateur" shot by Fred Vanderhaven.

He Was a Cavalier

Over at BoingBoing they've been going retro with H. Beam Piper: The Space Viking and The Cosmic Computer.

Sword Worlds...Sword Worlds...where have I heard that before?

It's Back

Cosmos has been rebooted. Fingers crossed Fox doesn't cancel it before the end of the run.

Nose Art

Have any artistic ability? How about entering a contest to celebrate NASA's space workhorse, the Centaur (veteran of over 200 missions)?

Major Matt Mason

A look at the real version of the lunar exploration suit for Major Matt Mason.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Brian Eno's recommended books.

Where I Work

I'm always interested in seeing how people work, especially writers (given the solitary nature of the task). In fact, I'd love to see a book made of one particular series of photographs.

Just found yesterday is where Marcus Sedgwick works. I'm particularly interested in that pair of windows!


Expedition Thirty-Eight to the International Space Station takes a group shot. Hey, look! Nations working together!


An interesting look at how NASA might have saved Space Shuttle Columbia. High risk, every domino had to fall correctly. If it had been tried, it probably would have been NASA's greatest moment.

Solar Loops

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows some activity on Our Quiet Sun. To put it into perspective, a small blue dot is shown.

The Seven Keys

I think we've found the vehicle for Eddie Murphy's next film. It'll be bigger than The Golden Child!

Monday, March 3, 2014

2014: February Readings

And here we are, the shortest month at an end. Cold, cold, cold, snow, snow, snow. I finished the month at ninety-nine short works read (out of a projected goal of 365 for the entire year).

In books, I brought my yearly total up to sixteen, and read the following books during February: Ignition City (006); Anna Mercury (007); Ministry of Space (008); Ocean (009); Solaris (010); At the Mountains of Madness (011); Northwest of Earth (012); Naruto 01, 02, 03 (013, 014, 015); Vectors (016).

Books being read (or near the top of the pile) can be found here.


Close Up: New Worlds

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a series of artist depictions of potentially habitable worlds discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope and other instruments. (The name of this post comes from a mid-70's non-fiction book featuring the art of Rick Sternbach.)

Factory Days

NGC 7538, in the constellation of Cepheus, is imaged by the Herschel Space Telescope. At a "mere" 9,000 light years distance, this star factory is close enough to allow astronomers a look at the process of star formation.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Twenty Years Ago

Could we have started crewed missions to Mars...twenty years ago? Space historian David S. F. Portree looks at the plan proposed by NASA engineer (and occasional, alas, all too occasional! SF author) Geoffrey Landis to get us to the red planet.

Beyond the Spiral

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows several spiral galaxies beyond spiral NGC 7331 in the constellation of Pegasus.