Saturday, March 20, 2010

Starship Sofa Articles: January 2010

Episode 115
Extra-long introduction this week about the future of the podcast and the effort to help Spider Robinson and his wife with her cancer.
Fact Article: Looking Back at SF History by Amy H. Sturgis
An interesting biographical piece on Anthony Trollope and a discussion of his novel The Fixed Period, a book that is apparently very hard to find, with few reprints since it's publication in 1882. The novel deals with mandatory euthanasia and imperialism and seems very interesting, especially in an historical sense. I'll be keeping my eyes open for this book, and I certainly look forward to more articles on semi-obscure old SF like this one. Reminds me of Curiosities from F&SF.
Sofanaut Award Winners

Fact Article: Meat Opera by Fred Himebaugh
Excerpts from and pimpage for the awesome sounding jazz opera rendition of the classic story They're Made Out of Meat. I really enjoyed this sample, and the full version is excellent as well. Very enjoyable noises from blowing all this air through meat.
Fact Article: Film Talk by Rod Barnett
A more-insightful-and-nuanced-than-average review of Avatar. Summed up by: "I have to admit, I ended up liking this film, but the road was rocky." Interesting as Mr. Barnett has the same component opinions I do, but the semi-opposite conclusion.

Fact Article: Transcribers by Robyn Bradshaw
Biographical info on each member of the group transcribing old Starship Sofa podcasts into text. And a bit of discussion on the project's progress. Not interesting listening, but a worthy project.
Extra Story: The Good Detective by M. John Harrison
I guess I should put this here. It is an extra story at the beginning of the episode, and honestly much better than the main story, A Weeping Czar.... It isn't a fact article, but I wanted to put a link to it here for the sake of completeness with the end-of-year summary since it isn't listed as a piece of main fiction for voting purposes, but it improves the overall quality of the episode.

Fact Article: This Week in Science Fiction by Tony C. Smith
Aurealis Awards, BSFA Awards, Philip K. Dick Awards, Ann VanderMeer's promotion to editor-in-chief at Weird Tales, and probably some other bits that I missed in the Tony-jabber.
Fact Article: Explained in 60 Seconds by Megan Argo
Red Dwarf Stars - Basically just what they are and why they are cool, small, and have long lifetimes. I didn't know about the slower rate of fusion, but it makes sense. A useful bit of trivia but mostly this was nothing I didn't already know. Still definitely worth including at this length.
Fact Article: Science News by J.J. Campanella
Devil Facial Tumour Disease and how it is wiping out the Tasmanian Devil population. Interestingly, all the tumors are identical, and the same cloning cell transfers itself from one devil to another through bites. This is a sad, important, and very scientifically interesting news story and I'm glad to see it given a better treatment here than it was in the New York Times.
In other news, Campanella discusses the recent discovery that eyeless sea urchins can actually see, using their spines and their entire body to see. Also lupus that affects one "identical" twin and not the other, based on environmental factors; and experimental evidence that whisk(e)y may give you a worse hangover than vodka, but no more mental impairment.

J.J. Campanella's Science News is easily the most interesting, with Amy H. Sturgis' SF History in second and nothing else really appealing besides the They're Made Out of Meat advertising. But two good articles a month isn't bad.

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