A Brief Guide to Space Race Documentaries, Part II

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Earthrise The First Lunar Voyage-smallI’ve written two articles at this site about movies and documentaries that deal primarily with the Space Race years, which I define as 1957 (Sputnik) to 1969 (first Moon landing):

A Brief Guide to Space Race Movies
A Brief Guide to Space Race Documentaries

I thought I’d exhausted the supply of space race documentaries worth mentioning, but alas, I recently ran across two more.

Both are worth noting for the simple fact that they solve two problems I often see with this type of documentary. One is the tendency to cram too much into too little time, which means it’s hard to go into any kind of depth in one specific area. The other is the tendency to rely on footage that’s rather familiar.

Which comes with the territory, I guess, at least to an extent. If you’re going to do a documentary on Apollo 11 you can hardly leave out the footage of Neil Armstrong’s first step on the Moon. Ditto for many of the events that made up the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.

But one can’t help but suspect that there’s a vast amount of footage from this era that we don’t see much of. The following two documentaries seem to support that theory.

Earthrise: The First Lunar Voyage (2014)

It’s safe to say that the best known space missions of all time — whether American or otherwise — are Apollo 11 and Apollo 13.

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The Three Phases of Adam Warlock: Return from the Dead

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Infinity_Gauntlet_Vol_1_1_001I’ve been taking a look at Adam Warlock, one of my favorite comic characters. In previous posts, I’ve written about his early period as a failed messiah figure on Counter-Earth in the early- and mid-1970s, and then his Jim-Starlin-written tragic middle period as the cosmic champion of life, which led to his heroic death in 1977.

Today, I want to take up the thread of the Adam Warlock saga fourteen years later, when both he and the Champion of Death, Thanos, were resurrected as the core of a massive cross-over event called The Infinity Gauntlet.

This may be timely for some folk who had never read the original or reprinted Warlock runs, because Marvel movies have already teased us with a hero-sized cocoon in a Thor movie and have announced an Infinity War movie for 2018.

So, since the Infinity Gauntlet series is now 24 years old, I’m not going to issue spoiler alerts; I’ll likely just berate you for not having read this already (you can, incidentally, stop reading this post, go pick up the Infinity Gauntlet at comixology.com, and then come back when you’re done; I don’t own Marvel stock or anything, it’s just that much fun).

To remind readers where we left off, in 1977, Adam Warlock, the lonely, tragic Champion of Life, killed Thanos, the nihilistic, insane cosmic Champion of Death. Fast forward to 1991 to Infinity Gauntlet #1, and we find that quite a bit has happened. Death has been chaffing at the imbalance between Life and Death and has pulled out her greatest admirer and lover, Thanos to rectify things.

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Chivalry: Might is Right… Not Quite What You Think

Friday, August 28th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page

Chivalry and Violence

I love writing knights because they had such a fascinatingly simple way of looking at the world.

I love writing knights because they had such a unapologetically simple way of looking at the world (first blog entry in this series here).

The knightly world view was internally consistent, but must have been infuriating to anybody with a logical turn of mind. In Swords Versus Tanks, I had fun imagining just such a conversation:

Ranulph swept his arm around the cell to indicate the corpses. “God has just shown you His will.”

“Knights!” The red-haired girl gestured at the carnage. “You think that was a trial by combat.” Her eyes narrowed. “You wear a somewhat soiled arming jacket, so it was defeat in battle which brought you to this dungeon. Was that also God’s will, Sir Ranulph?”

“I suppose that God wanted me here to save you,” said Ranulph, with a vague, familiar, feeling that he was going to regret arguing with her.

Swords Versus Tanks 1: Steel Tide (forthcoming)

In fact — if Kaeuper’s Chivalry and Violence is to be believed — real knights tended to take things further with an utterly glorious piece of reasoning:

Knight: “God granted me victory, therefore  I am more pious than the dead guy.”

Priest: “But you still need to do penance!”

Knight: “Penance, Sir Priest? Pah! Wearing armor in the field is mortification enough.”

Partly this was lazy thinking at work.

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Camestros Felapton on The True History of the Great Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The True History of the Great Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015-smallIf you’re feeling a certain degree of Hugo controversy exhaustion, no one could blame you. The past few days have seen an explosion of debate and analysis, here and elsewhere, since the winners of the 2015 Hugo Awards were announced late Saturday night.

If you’re a little late to the party, or just not following events all that closely this year, the high volume of virtual high-fives and angry rebukes ricocheting around every corner of the genre is probably pretty confusing. Figuring it all out at this late date probably seems a little daunting. I would have agreed, until I stumbled across this summary of the entire affair by Camestros Felapton, “The True History of the Great Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015,” a marvel of compact narrative. I do believe it has captured virtually every event of importance in the whole affair, with the sole exception of Amal El-Mohtar’s June 2013 call to expel Theodore Beale from SFWA, which arguably triggered Vox Day’s two year scheme for revenge against the entire industry. Here’s Felapton’s intro:

This is literally a narrative as it is a story shown over time with a plot and complications but it is also a subjective mapping of headspace. It looks more serious than my map but the same caveats apply – it is how I perceive the kerfuffle and while it is made out of truthful bricks (I believe) the structure itself is a fabricated thing. Same warnings about false balance apply and also the timeline has the issue of stirring up old arguments.

Suggestions and corrections are welcome within the limit of not wanting to re-kerfuff old kerfuffles and certainly not wanting to re-open old wounds.

Major sources: Mike Glyer’s puppy round ups, Jim C Hines’s article “Puppies in Their Own Words”, The Hugo Awards blog, and the blogs of Larry Correia, Vox Day, Brad Torgersen and John C Wright.

See the thing in its mind-boggling entirety here.

Chivalry: Not Really About Opening Doors (and Still Quite a Useful Coping Strategy)

Friday, August 21st, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page


He can’t give the lady her favor and spare the other man. What’s he going to do?

So, Lancelot is fighting this knight who insulted him. A few blows in and the rude fellow is on his knees: “Mercy, Sir Lancelot!”

Sir Lancelot stays his hand. He always grants mercy when asked.

However, before he can help the other chap to his feet,  a lady rides up. “Lancelot! I beg you a favor.”

“OK…,” says Lancelot. He also always grants favors to damsels.

“Give me that knight’s head! He slew my sister.”

Lancelot frowns. Now he’s caught between two imperatives.

He can’t give the lady her favor and spare the other man.

What’s he going to do?

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Sharing Creative Space: An Interview with Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum

Saturday, August 15th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

ketchu 3So far in this series, I’ve interviewed Marvel Associate Editor Jake Thomas, Assistant Editor Xander Jarowey, and Assistant Editor Heather Antos about their roles in the production process and their editorial voices.

Today, I wanted to e-talk about the sharing of creative territory between writer and editor. So, I’m having an e-conversation with Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum, who edits A-Force, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Storm, X-Force, X-Men and other books.

Daniel, in an interview you mentioned that part of your job is deciding which villain the X-Men fight in the next issue. I suppose I assumed (naively) that the writer got to decide most things. How do you divide creative decision-making roles with your writers?

Haha. Truth be told, that answer I gave is more of an easy-to-grasp oversimplification of what Marvel editors do. Four times out of five, the conversation with a writer at the outset of a story arc starts with them pitching the story they want to tell. (That other one time is when something like AXIS or SECRET WARS comes up and you just shouldn’t avoid addressing it.)

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Short Speculative Fiction: A July Round-Up

Thursday, August 6th, 2015 | Posted by Learned Foote

Lightspeed July 2015-475 Clarkesworld-July 2015 Asimovs-Science-Fiction-July-2015-475

In this column, find recommendations for short speculative fiction from Lightspeed (July 2015), Clarkesworld (July 2015) and Asimov’s (July 2015).

“When Your Child Strays from God”
by Sam J. Miller
Clarkesworld 106

This delightful short story is the 1st person account of Bethesda Wilde, an account prepared for the e-mail bulletin of Grace Abounding Evangelical Church. In order to save her son from a life of sin, Beth goes “webslinging” (i.e., takes a drug that puts her in a shared hallucination with her son). Madness ensues. Much of the story’s delight comes from the hallucinatory imagery: inventive, funny, and creepy. Sam J. Miller’s writing bounds from one sentence to the next with tremendous energy and confidence. Aside from the insane web world, the story possesses a sincere emotional core and I found it quite moving in the end. Beth is a memorable and multidimensional character: hilarious, lovable (sometimes hateful), and with a good head for science. She has a few secrets of her own up her sleeve.

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Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: A Story Analysis Worksheet

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015 | Posted by Tina Jens

Writing Group-smallPeer review or small group critiquing is one of the most common techniques authors use to improve their story drafts. Virtually every author I know has been a part of a critique group at one time or another. Some authors are strong proponents of the exercise, others are adamantly opposed to it. I suspect the primary factor in how authors feel about them is whether their early experiences were helpful, or not.

Feedback that amounts to little more than, “I really liked this!” or “I don’t really like this kind of story,” are equally unhelpful. While the first is more pleasant to hear, it’s no more constructive than the second.

Critique groups are just one of the manuscript analysis exercises I have my students do. Done in-depth, they can take a great deal of time. It is not unusual for it to take five hours to do a written critique of a 3,000 word story. It may take much longer than that.

The instructions I give to my students are as follows.

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The History of the Other Necronomicon

Thursday, July 30th, 2015 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Necronomicon-small(With sincerest apologies to H. P. Lovecraft)

Original title, Watdiz Rafaflafla — Rafaflafla being the word used by residents of the greater Pittsburgh area to designate that harrowing sound (made by insects and tiny flying horses) suppos’d to resemble the flatulence of daemons who have been tuned to the key of B flat.

Composed by Haminah Haminah H. Haminah, Esq., a sad clown and learned scholar of the Peoria, in the American caliphate of the Illinois, who is said to have flourished during the early period of the Flock of Seagulls and the A-ha, circa 1983 A.D. He visited the ruins of the Cleveland and he explored subterranean secrets of the Memphis and spent ten years alone in the great southern desert of the Phoenix — the Hoolenah Whooleenah or “Artificially Irrigated Space” of the ancients, which is held to be inhabited by evil blue-haired spirits and sundry other monsters of the retirement catacombs. Of this desert many tedious and mediocre marvels are told by those who have much time on their hands and are usually about two and a half sheets to the wind.

In his last years H. Haminah dwelt in Topeka, where the Necronomicon II was written, and of his final death or disappearance (c. 1989 A.D.) many random and pointless things are told. He is said by Reebeeh Bopaloola (his biographer) to have been seized by an unspeakably vile monster with breath that would stop a tank in broad daylight in the produce aisle of the Safeway and devoured horribly before a smattering of bored witnesses. Who just wanted some arugula and really didn’t want to get mixed up in yet another one of those supermarket devouring incidents.

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The Altarpiece of the Virgin of the Milk, the Breast of Spanish Renaissance Art

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan


Photo copyright Sean McLachlan.

In a previous post about Salamanca, Spain, I talked about Salamanca cathedral’s rich collection of Medieval and Renaissance art, inlcuding a splended retablo and some rare wall paintings. Like many cathedrals in this country, it also houses a small museum of some of its treasures. One of the most unusual items is the Altarpiece of the Virgin of the Milk.

It dates to the second half of the 16th century and was produced by an unknown artist. At its center is a breastfeeding Virgin, “La Virgen de la Leche,” part of a tradition of such depictions dating back to at least the 12th century. She is surrounded by other images detailing her Bible story and also related religious figures. Above is her Coronation. On the upper left is the Annunciation, and to the upper right the Archangel Gabriel.  To the left is the Assumption of Mary, to the right the Birth and Adoration of Jesus.

It gets weirder in the lower register, with Saint Agatha on the lower left offering a plate of breasts to Saints Cosmas and Damien. On the lower right Saint Margaret rounds out the picture.


Photo copyright Sean McLachlan.

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