wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
[livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar, who recently wrapped up the most excellent "Spots The Space Marine" web serial here on LJ, recently made a trip to Readercon and posted about it here.

I'm glad she did well there, but I completely sympathize with her decision not to go back for a while - if ever. The knee-jerk political and anti-religious attitudes on display there aren't unique to Readercon by any stretch of the imagination, and to say it sticks in my craw is a massive understatement. The inability of these people to see that they're engaged in a massive case of projection is truly astounding, and says volumes about how compassionate and sensitive they really are. As I put it some years ago at one of the last Convergence cons I went to before moving down here, "Look, I'm not here to discuss politics. I'm here to discuss SF & fantasy. You want to talk to me about politics, do it somewhere else because I'm not going to do it here." Still, the ugly fact is that most SF fans seem to assume that you, too, are politically liberal and atheist, and that political conservatives/religious people are suitable figures for derision. Which we don't appreciate, surprisingly enough.

Related: I don't pimp Liberty SF nearly enough and should probably put it in my blogroll here at the LJ.
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Lileks and [livejournal.com profile] chebutykin are both mourning the end of the NASA Shuttle program in their different ways, communicating that they both feel that the door to America's future in space has been closed. Texas Governor Rick Perry is also less than pleased.

Me, not so much. To be honest, I've been annoyed with NASA since the 1970s when they shut down the Apollo program and let Skylab fall out of orbit, and I've been wishing that they, like many agencies of the Federal government, would just die and get out of the way. When you look back at the roots of the space program in science fiction, there wasn't much in the way of great space epics that involved massive government bureaucracies re-enacting the Manhattan Project IN SPACE! For that matter, Heinlein's juvenile novel Rocket Ship Galileo presented America's first trip to the moon as, basically, a backyard science project. So historically, we should look at NASA as an aberration, a sixty-year detour from the road we should have been on all along. That road, the private-sector exploration and exploitation of space, is one we're belatedly going down, mainly because nobody can rely on NASA to get payloads into orbit any more, and there are a lot of reasons we don't want to put all our eggs in Russian and Chinese baskets.

I sometimes wonder if the massive presence of fantasy fans hasn't derailed fandom from what used to be fairly unanimous support for organizations like the L5 Society (now merged with the National Space Society); certainly, there's less visible presence of such groups at conventions these days, or so it seems. Or maybe it's just that the NSS doesn't do the kind of outreach to fandom that it used to. In any case, space is the logical extension of America's long and successful history in aviation, which in turn is one of the few remaining successful export industries left in this country. It's still raining soup out there, and if we can get NASA out of the business of buying, selling, manufacturing, and writing regulations about bowls, we might could get some more cool things done in space, for the benefit of our country and the world.

UPDATE: I guess I'm not alone in thinking that fandom has failed the space program. (Jerry Pournelle)
wombat_socho: Wombat (Masha. Darling.)
Joel Rosenberg is dead.
Condolences to [livejournal.com profile] fgherman and his daughters.

He was a good SF/fantasy writer and a tireless advocate for RKBA, and he will be missed.
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Baen has a Heinlein Quiz posted at their website which is tougher than it looks.
I only got 15/20, myself - and this after reading the first volume of his biography. :(
(Instapundit)
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Apropos of nothing -well, maybe my brain starting to come out of the fog imposed by too much work, not enough sleep, and a few too many carbohydrates this weekend- it occurred to me that there are only a handful of SF stories that depict the exploration and conquest of Mars as the difficult, dirty and very likely lethal undertaking it'll probably be when we finally get around to it. The three stories that come to mind are all fairly old, too:

  1. "What's It Like Out There?" by Edmond Hamilton

  2. "Crucifixus Etiam" by Walter M. Miller Jr.

  3. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury


There are newer stories that show a Mars that's decayed into a galactic-scale slum world (Dan Simmons' Hyperion, for example, and James Daniel Ross' Radiation Angels stories) but none that are quite as bleak as Hamilton and Miller's Mars. Anyone know any others?
wombat_socho: Wombat (FGSFDS - Technoviking)
[livejournal.com profile] chebutykin posted this link from Wired over at FB, and while I think Bob Subiaga did a good job ripping Oswalt's glaring stupidity to shreds, there were a couple of things I wanted to expand on.
Would you like to know more? )
wombat_socho: Wombat (WTF)
Kids Draw Cthulhu - By John J. Miller - The Corner - National Review Online:
Meanwhile, we are one day closer to piecing together the disassociated knowledge that will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.


An interesting juxtaposition of the Mythos with a very common affinity plate here in the Commonwealth. Well worth the ten seconds of your time.

(Moe Lane)
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Via Moe Lane, I see that Charles Stross and a lot of his commenters are bemoaning the fact that 1) there's TOO MUCH steampunk, and 2) it isn't sufficiently realistic for their rarefied socialist sensibilities.
I can rant if I want to )
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Well, not really. But she does, in her own gentle and indirect way, explain why "realistic" steampunk, which shows the horrors of Victorian life for the proletariat, isn't that common and is rarely popular when it does show its head. Basically, nobody wants to read it.

And I'm totally on board with that argument. People read fantasy (and let's face it, steampunk is fantasy) to explore and enjoy another world. People play fantasy RPGs to be heroes in their own fairy tales. Being a TB-stricken denizen of a city's slums is seldom heroic, being a farmer is not all that exciting, and usually if we see one of those people in a fantasy novel they're either supporting characters or they get ripped out of their unpleasant/boring lives and thrust into the plot, in which case they're no longer the people they were. So of course most of the protagonists in steampunk stories are aristocrats, Wrench Wenches, stodgy yet solid bourgeoisie, or plucky proletarians who are on the make/on the rise. You want to have heroes the reader can identify with, after all, and most readers aren't into reading about losers.

Which is why Chivalry and Sorcery never caught on. People didn't want to deal with the filthy, disease-ridden mess of the actual medieval period any more than they want to eat actual rats on a stick when they go to the RenFest. And the same is true of the Victorian Era.
wombat_socho: Wombat (Happy)
Normally I despise everything ST:TNG related that doesn't have Klingon content, but this is too good.

(h/t [livejournal.com profile] jamestrainor)
wombat_socho: Wombat (Happy)
Pajamas Media » 2010: Dawn of the Terran Empire?:
Remember that episode of Star Trek (original series) where Captain Kirk, Scotty, Dr. McCoy, and Lt. Uhura accidentally transported into a parallel universe which was an eerie mirror image of the real world? The Federation was an evil “Terran Empire.” Star Fleet officers moved up not by merit, but by assassinating their superiors. And mirror-universe Spock wore a cool goatee.


More proof that fandom won the culture war: A Denver doctor has no compunction about leading off a somewhat serious essay on politics with an extended Star Trek: TOS reference. Jonah Goldberg, call your office, I think your shtick has been copylefted. :)
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
OMFG, there's a comic book.

In other news, I succumbed to the blandishments of the Internets and bought two bags of coffee (coals to Newcastle, honestly) for the free coffeemaker.
It's pretty much the same one-cup model you can find in any hotel these days, but that's pretty much all I need. I now have a lifetime supply of filters for my Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club mug, which is reserved for those mornings when I need a LOT of coffee fast.
wombat_socho: Wombat (DC)
Didn't get everything done that I wanted to, but one of the things on my to-do list got punted until tomorrow since it makes more sense to do it at school anyway. I did get the Toaster's oil changed and a new kludge installed to hold the driver's seat down, but decided against getting the A/C fixed after Carlos told me there's coolant in the system but nothing happens when he hits the button. I'd think it was a matter of not being familiar with the controls, except nothing happens when I have the fan on and hit the button either. Which means it's probably an electrical problem, and that means a trip to the dealer for a $1500 wiring harness repair job, and my wallet just can't handle that right now. Or in the next year or two, either, most likely. Shouldn't be an issue since I don't drive during rush hour if I can possibly avoid it. Almost all the garbage I've been meaning to throw out this weekend is now gone.

I'm re-reading Anton Myrer's Once An Eagle, a book that I picked up off a giveaway rack in high school and have been re-reading ever since. Once again, I am dithering over whether I want to read the end of the book, starting with the last part of the Pacific War section. I didn't see all of the mini-series when it was on the air, but I did see the ending, which was much better for TV (and Sam Elliott was perfect as Sad Sam Damon, just as he was perfect as John Buford in Gettysburg) but I understand why Myrer didn't end the book that way. What I don't understand is why I keep coming back to the book; parts of it are almost too painful to read, and others ache like a dry socket. It's a compelling tale, with some memorable characters, but I have dozens of other books like that in my library. Why does this one keep calling to me?

...also, tactical corsets. Perfect if your girlfriend/SO/lady you want to impress is into corsets and RKBA. And, really, shouldn't she be? ;)

also also, [livejournal.com profile] jariten has a few things to say about anime conventions. You should go read them. All I can add is HELL YEAH.
wombat_socho: Wombat (SSuiseiseki)
Ironically enough, I'm writing this on a Friday afternoon before the monthly PRSFS meeting.

P returned from the Great American Desert, where Convergence is held every Independence Day weekend, and had much news, most of it amusing in a "ha-ha, funny!" way and some of it amusing in a bitter, cynical "LOOK HOW STUPID YOU ARE" way.
LOLWUT? )
wombat_socho: Wombat (The General)
I'm hauling out the MacArthur icon for this because I'm putting on my ex-Chairman hat for this post.
Sensitive, caring fans will probably not want to read this. )
wombat_socho: Wombat (Happy)
You're going to the worst place in the internet, and you don't even know it yet.
Strip name gives away the joke.

(h/t [livejournal.com profile] psiten)
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Michael Williamson has an excellent post about military SF in response to Andrew Liptak, who seems to be yearning for the bad old days of Gernsback-era scientifiction.
a few thoughts of my own )
Shit, I understand this and I've never had a syllable of SF published. What the hell is wrong with Andrew Liptak that he doesn't?
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Went out to PRSFS last night; meeting was in the ass-end of Cheverly, practically in [livejournal.com profile] digex' back yard, and since I'd agreed to give one of the members a lift home to Vienna, it seemed only reasonable to get together with P, who is on her three-day weekend from working the midnight shift. The PRSFS meeting...hm. On the one hand, I like talking about science fiction, but on the other hand, I don't like being reminded of these truths:
cut to spare the f-list )
So...I dunno. It was good seeing Kyle & Monica, it was nice to see the hostess' charming daughter, but there were 4-5 people there who just got up my nose. Maybe I'll go back next month, and maybe I'll find something more constructive to do.

As mentioned before, returning one of the members to their place in Vienna took until 0100, at which point I got together with P for breakfast at Sheetz and a drive with conversation so we could get caught up with each other. Got home ~0300, full of caffeine, started reading Michael Flynn's The Wreck of The River of Stars to decompress, and that backfired by keeping me up until 0600. Up at 1400 with decent blood sugar...probably going to crash early tonight to get back on a normal sleep schedule.
wombat_socho: Wombat (SSuiseiseki)
History is important. Studying it and (hopefully) learning from other peoples' horrible mistakes in the past keeps us from repeating those mistakes, and moves us a little further along the road of progress to a happier, healthier, more productive society. That's the theory, anyway. I've made occasional posts about the theory behind the organization of Anime Detour, a subject of interest to me and a half-dozen other people maybe, but fortunately some of those people are running Detour's parent corporation at the moment and are the kind of people who do learn from history.

For this reason, I present the annotated version of the press release sent out in 1997 when the High Resolution Minicon Proposal (hereafter abbreviated HRMP, sod all that typing anyway) was announced to a less than enthusiastic fandom. I came across this press release about six years later, after the effects of implementing the HRMP were clear to everyone who wanted to see - and quite a few folks who didn't want to. I couldn't resist the temptation to make snarky comments (in red) and serious comments (in blue). On re-reading this, I don't feel the need to substantially change any of the comments. Minor edits have been made for grammar and suchlike things.

This was originally going to be printed in an issue of Enur, a fanzine intended to dredge up all manner of Minnesota fannish history and print it in one embarrassingeducational place, but [livejournal.com profile] huladavid and I got distracted by illness, shiny objects, cows, and an anime convention and never quite got around to doing it. So, here it is. Enjoy. Or at least learn something.

Would you lke to know more? Sure you would. )
The moral of the story is pretty simple. These people fucked up their convention and alienated thousands of people in the process. Don't be like these people.

(Cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] animedetour )

EDIT: Note to visitors from Facebook who haven't been here before - anonymous comments are screened and generally not approved if you can't be arsed to sign them. We occasionally get an influx of anonymous cowards here, and I see no point in encouraging them. That having been said, press release text has been edited from black to pink so you can read it more easily in this LJ.

wombat_socho: Wombat (The General)
Many many years ago, when I was a young Civil Air Patrol cadet, one of the senior members explained to us that CAP wasn't interested in professional volunteers, they wanted volunteer professionals. Therefore we needed to step up and get professional.
Well, what the fark did that mean? )

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