AMAZING NEWS: 12/20/20 – Pre Great Conjunction Edition

Dead alien civilizations; Last Dangerous Visions announcements, AI piloted spy planes, robotic frog cells, Chicken Little, Firefly reboot?, what’s not to like about 2020?

SPECIAL NOTE: Tomorrow, December 21st, at approximately one hour after sunset (on the east coast of the US), and assuming clearing skies, the Grand Conjunction will occur for the first time in about 400 years.  See below for details on how to watch this celestial event.

OTHER SPECIAL NOTE: Amazing Stories is hosting an on-line book release party for its latest publication – NO POLICE = KNOW FUTURE, an anthology edited by James Beamon and featuring stories centered on the future of policing and justice. December 27th at 4 PM EST. Details forthcoming.

SPECIAL SPECIAL NOTE: #DISNEYMUSTPAY:  On-going coverage of Alan Dean Foster and SFWA’s fight to protect authors from studios.  PolygonWSJ.
MINI-EDITORIAL:  The ONLY pressure that Disney is going to experience is that exerted by their audience.  Disney (Hollywood in general) has more dollars, more lawyers and more influence than any individual author or group of authors.  They’ve been stonewalling and ghosting agents and lawyers for months now.  Speak up – the future relationship of authors and studios is at stake.  Spread the hashtag!

NEW RELEASE:  James Whalen announced the publication of THE BIG SHUTDOWN, a space western: “Whatever happened to Randolph Scott?” He’s alive and living in the future in THE BIG SHUTDOWN.

RIP John le Carre, 1931 – 2020

Robotic Frog Cells!  Who wins that bingo card entry? Xenobots are robots made from living cells.

7 Billion Year Old Stardust Found.  Half the age of the universe.  Stardust in my pocket like grains of sand?

Surrealist SF artist’s $300k painting recovered from a trashcan.  If you’ve been reading SF paperbacks as long as I have, you’ll recognize the art.\

I bet I’m not the only one who wanted one of those lounge chairs from the space station in 2001:  Furniture in SF Films

Peter Quill – aka Star Lord – is Bi.  Orientation confirmed by Marvel.  Well, we already knew he was into A’askavarians, with those needle teeth.  This should not surprise.  Upset some, sure, but not surprise.

Sustained High-Fidelity Quantum Entanglement.  Yeah, what she said.  Wait, what?   A necessary milestone in quantum computing has been achieved.

Disney to reboot Firefly?  Lots of people are saying this is a rumor and it ain’t gonna happen.  Original crew?  Great, finish the first season.  Otherwise, I hope its just a rumor.

YAY!  Chicken Little Lives.  No, not that “the skies are falling bird”.  I’m talking about the giant blob of vat grown chicken flesh featured in The Space MerchantsVat grown chicken has been approved for several markets (not the US yet).  Thank goodness.  I can’t digest that plant-based stuff, tears me right up (a known issue with some), but I will happily switch to this when available.

Give Octavia the Covers her books deserve

The late, great Ben Bova recently passed.  Here are five authors he helped to discover.

Locus interviews Kim Stanley Robinson

What’s up with Orion?

All of that Right Wing Conspiracy Nonsense is Fueling Radicalization (There’s a whole future of armed idiots in our future)

We go from the approval of “super soldiers” by the French Gov. last week to this:  AI piloted spy planes

A trove of behind-the-scenes photos from The Empire Strikes Back have been unearthed.

China’s Lunar Lander lifts off and returns lunar samples to Earth. Watch the liftoff here.

Ohio lawmakers not only recently enacted a law that could bankrupt churches that back environmental protests, they also try to ban books!

J. Michael Straczynski unveils the name of the first author to agree to write new content for The Last Dangerous Visions.  Also, the first page of a ms originally submitted back in the day (and scheduled for inclusion), with Harlan’s editing marks, is revealed.  You’ll need to sign up with JMS’ Patreon Page to learn the details.

Steven H Silver unveils the Little Free Library erected in front of his home

Major solar eruptions predicted;  could interfere with communications

Radio emissions from a distant world detected

Fans of Pratchett are not enjoying The Watch

Just in case you needed a reminder that the President is insane and Covid is real….

Space Force names its members, and just about everyone not in Space Force laughed

The British Columbia Science Fiction Association has been releasing images from prior V-Cons.  And more V-Con news.

On the something anniversary of one of the Star Wars films, an article about what it was really like to see the original film (before it was re-named and CGI-ed) in theaters in 1977.  Probably written by someone who wasn’t there, like I was.  I sat through three showings in a row.  I was lucky that the film, in limited release, was shown at two theaters in NJ.  Yes, we sat with our mouths open, stunned by the images on display, deafened by the score, discombobulated by seeing things we’d never seen before.  Now, 43 years later, I really wish the whole thing had never happened.  YMMV

In somewhat support of my no doubt unpopular opinion above, here are some excerpts from reviews of the time, including this spot on take: “you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality, without even a ‘future’ cast to them. Human beings, anthropoids, or robots, you could probably find them all, more or less like that, in downtown Los Angeles today. Certainly the mentality and values of the movie can be duplicated in third-rate non-science fiction of any place or period.”  or perhaps this one: “There’s something depressing about seeing all these impressive cinematic gifts and all this extraordinary technological skills lavished on such puerile materials. Perhaps more important is what this seems to accomplish: the canonization of comic book culture which in turn becomes the triumph of the standardized, the simplistic, mass-produced commercial artifacts of our time. It’s the triumph of camp — that sentiment which takes delight in the awful simply because it’s awful.” (emphasis added)

Tips for finding and seeing the Great Conjunction of 2020.

COOL!  The Galaxy is probably filled with the remnants of dead civilizations!  That’s one of my favorite tropes.  Now all I have to do is get out there and find some!

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