ellestra: (aeryn)
The 2012 Nebula (and adjacent) Awards were awarded last night and the winners are:

NOVEL: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

NOVELLA: After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (Tachyon)

NOVELLETTE: Close Encounters by Andy Duncan (The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories)

SHORT STORY: Immersion by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 6/12)

RAY BRADBURY AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING DRAMATIC PRESENTATION: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin (director), Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Abilar (writers), (Journeyman/Cinereach/Court 13/Fox Searchlight)

ANDRE NORTON AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY BOOK: Fair Coin, E.C. Myers (Pyr)

2012 DAMON KNIGHT GRAND MASTER AWARD: Gene Wolfe

SOLSTICE AWARD: Carl Sagan and Ginjer Buchanan

KEVIN O’DONNELL JR. SERVICE TO SFWA AWARD: Michael H. Payne

I still haven't read any of these but I'm happy about Ray Bradbury Award going to Beasts of the Southern Wild. All the other films were good entertainment but this one was something more. And congratulations to Gene Wolfe.
ellestra: (muppets)
I flew back on Friday and spent a weekend trying to sleep off the jetlag while fighting the remains of the cold. My voice still breaks a little but it's almost gone. Of course the dry cough will stay for few more weeks. That's just how it works when I'm sick. No fever - excess of phlegm and coughing. So that's how my year started.

I had a pretty good flight this time. I almost slept. I met a friend I studied biology with on the plane. I walked around. I spent 4 hours on JFK. Next day I skyped with my mum and had the weirdest feeling when I saw her sitting in that room I was just in when I realised I'm now an ocean away. Plane travel boring and tedious, yet still amazing.

Meanwhile the first week of 2013 is behind us and everyone did their reviews of last year and lists of best. Locus posted the results of its polls for the best SSF in two centuries (full version here). io9 did a whole cycle of post reviewing 2012 and a post about genre shows coming in 2013.

Adam of the Wertzone and Patrick of the Pat's Fantasy Hotlist did their annual list of best. Larry on OF blog not only shared his best novels, collections and non-English language fiction of 2012 but also collected lists of other people.

I haven't really thought about mine. I was to busy enjoying having a cat and a family.

Bye

Dec. 15th, 2012 11:57 pm
ellestra: (winged)
I'm all packed and start my journey home early tomorrow (early because after they switched my flight to Chicago 3 times I ended up with 5 hour layover there - I have to stop connecting through Chicago as things like that keep happening). This means this is probably my last post for a while - maybe even till next year.

I'm leaving you with a short movie and a parody.

Tempo from Red Giant on Vimeo.



This Gangam parody is worth watching just for the "Hey Science Lady, hey it's amazing..." part.

12-12-12

Dec. 12th, 2012 10:18 pm
ellestra: (aeryn)
This is the last one of this century - day, month and year represented by the same number. And it seems like the century just started a moment ago - now it's almost a teenager. I suppose that's what getting old feels like.

The Jim Hines fundriser for Aicardi syndrome has passed 6000$ and some of the promised poses have already been posted and it's scary. However nothing can measure up to the result of his pose-off with John Scalzi. They both took on The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson. There is a poll to vote who did it better. Scalzi is trying to buy our votes by donating 5 cents per vote up to 500$ but I have to admit that Hines pose is almost perfect. The head position, the point, his leg even looks like it belongs to a different person just like on the cover. I'm torn.

In another follow-up here's the full version of CERN PHD students filmed at the LHC. Zombies are not my thing by LHC is so I watched it for the location - concrete tunnels, tubing and occasional shots of the machinery. And of course title is a great pun.
ellestra: (telamon)
I ate (too much). I played with cats (not mine, unfortunately) and kids (not mine, fortunately). I even talked to my family (because I was at home during late afternoon and they got my package). I even bought something today. So I think this qualifies as celebrating Thanksgiving. I'm starting to feel like I'm getting good at it.

Now I'm tired so I'm just sharing my latest webseries obsessions. Between this and the H+ I'm starting to feel like all the good SF in on the web.


ARG/viral campaign for something from Google that has a really cool concepts (reminds me a little of Charlie Stross Laundry series). This is the start. Tracking the whole thing can become an obsession.


And of course the first 4 webisodes of BSG:B&C are out.
ellestra: (aeryn)
I mostly avoided commenting during the pre-election period as I try to not be too involved in other country politics. I get all my facepalms and excitement at home (seriously - the whole TNT on the Smoleńsk plane thing was like really bad conspiracy theory ridiculous). I don't need anybody else's. But I live in US now and I had opportunity to watch the whole American presidential election process from up close. Or rather was forced to watch as on could not escape it.

I learned few months ago, to my surprise, that I live in swing state. I was pretty sure this was Republican to the core - reinforced by the whole putting real marriage thing in the state constitution. But it turns out that between the academic regions and pretty high percentage of black and Hispanic voters it was on the brink to the very end.

It did go for Mitt Romney in the end but barley and it obviously didn't make any difference. It all went like the maths predicted and frankly part of my disinterest comes from the fact that I tend to believe maths more then just people talking on TV. I think my biggest satisfaction was not Barack Obama's win (I like almost all the world wanted him to win just because Republican increasingly land between crazy and repugnant) but because it showed the superiority of science over feelings. Facts and reality don't change just because your gut tells you something else is true. Even when you want it really, really hard.

I know it's easy to say when it goes your way. Especially the most famous one was made by someone who is openly liberal and gay and therefore enemy by default. However, if several statistical models tell you basically the same thing and you see it come true exactly as predicted you may want to consider that maths doesn't have bias - you do.

From my point of view the whole process seemed way too long, extremely loud and annoying and practically inescapable. One doesn't realise it from outside but inside the amount of money spend on it is so immense you are being attacked on every corner, every channel and every site. And the way they attack each other and their respective news outlets attack the other side and the base is almost disgusting. Right is worse but left looks better only in comparison. Even the people who stay in the middle are horrible. It's almost like there's no news programs left. Just one giant cycle of political tabloid. I miss CNN International and BBC World - actual news. It's scary when things like hurricane Sandy seem like a relief.

I mentioned being annoyed by all the youtube ads before but it got even worse. And you cannot escape it as there's no pre-election silence so the ads and meetings and polls seem to come almost non-stop. Even on election day. I stopped watching news because all the commercials were campaign ads (in other programs - about 50%). If not presidential then local. There were some gems though. I couldn't believe this one was real when I first saw it as it's like something out of Doctor Horrible (sung by Bad Horse henchmen) but it was real and the guy won. Enjoy:


As for the results I'm most happy that the rape Republicans lost, women got most seats in Senate ever and the WoW playing Democrat won. As a non-voter she was my candidate - female gamer persecuted for her hobby and with Polish surname - I rooted for her too win. Even though she is from completely different state. But then I know people here for who the most important outcome of this election was legalising marijuana in couple of states on the other side of the country.

And just because I am socialist and US election matters to the rest of the world I will share with you the schadenfraude filled Republican Tears. But because I'm Polish and I understand being stuck between tolerable party and crazy party I will also share John Scalzi's Post-Election Notes For the GOP.
ellestra: (tiger)
I have to give a presentation tomorrow so I just wanted to post this nice explanation of this year's Physics Nobel
ellestra: (sunrise)
I just finished rearranging my closet. I moved the warmer clothes to the front as autumn is truly here. It's funny how there was barely any colour change just a week ago and now it's clearly visible. Here are tow photos of the same place - one taken a week ago and the second today.




The difference is obvious and I could see the colours getting more and more intense every day. I think it's the cold nights. This is the coldest October of the three I spent here and everyone is complaining how unusually cool it is for this time of year. Of course it's still just over 20oC during the day most of the time so it is much warmer and much sunnier then what I'm used to anyway. I talked to my parents today and they said they had a very beautiful weekend but it was still almost 10 degrees colder.

This, here, now, is a perfect weather. Sunny and warm and the colour change is just beginning but soon when it's fully spreads it's going to be so beautiful. The colours of autumn are much more impressive here. These are the main reasons this is my favourite time of year. Spring brings allergies, summer's too hot and winter is surprisingly unpleasant for this far south. Autumn is perfect.

But somehow I still miss the morning (and evening) mists on the fields and the beautiful light effects they created. It doesn't happen here. At least not very often.
ellestra: (sunrise)
Mondays are not good days at work (even without the whole Monday thing) and today it was also raining since with drizzle alternating with real rain. And, although, the day was pretty warm the cold nights combined with rained made it feel like a real autumn day even though leaves are barely changing colours yet. I knew it was going to be this way so I decided to do the whole birthday thing during the weekend.

On of the things I did was going to the cinema. I've been planning to see a movie for a long time and just postponing it over and over again. But this time I decide I just have to do it. For birthday's sake. So I went to see Looper because I saw so many conflicting reviews I wanted to decide for myself.

When my parents asked me the next day (that I spent skyping with my family) what it was about I told them Bruce Willis travelled in time but then I realised that was 12 Monkeys. This time he was a B plot. This movie was about JGL not travelling in time. And I could nitpick it but then I could also explain it as it made prefect sense in a way but the important part was that it was fun.

I liked the future of loopers that is like the whole world became a bad neighbourhood and the social structures seem to be in complete shamble. I wondered how come in 30 years it rebound so the law can enforce both time travel ban and find every murder victim. It didn't look like police state much - Bruce Willis was still a gangster.

I loved the whole TK promise and the kid going the whole It's a Good Life on whoever angered him. It was cool visually but both made sense in the story and felt like a cheap shot with including superpowers in the mix.

I'm pretty sure Kid Blue was young Abe. I kept thinking that most of their problems would unhappen if they finally killed him. And then it was too late. I'm not even sure he died really.

The hardest part was the understanding how time travel works in this universe. It doesn't nullifies whatever future versions did so far just catches up with them in real time. It doesn't make much sense but it is at least consistent. It's like the future versions became quantum flux of all their possible pasts with the one they lived being most clear until their past selves do something and that past becomes fixed. It took me some time to get and then it took me some time to get why Rainmaker became himself in the world with no Old!Joe coming for him because the end showed a perfect reason for him to hate all loopers and killing them (Young!Joe even tells the story about wanting to kill all the men who wronged him and his mother). But then I read someone explaining that before Young!Joe he didn't accept Sara as his mother and would probably kill her eventually and turn bad. And then I thought that maybe in different versions there were different loopers who tried to kill him. In the end what matters is that Young!Joe decided not to accept the version his future self created and it did matter to Sara and her son.

I liked how Bruce Willis became villain of the story. Killing children just because he wasn't ready to give up his life. He was so bent on having it exactly as he did so unable to give up his happiness, not even to save his wife that he became a monster his younger self despised so much he decided to sacrifices himself even though we saw the same selfishness in him before.


I think that the best part of this story was showing the fallacy of changing the future by travelling to the past. If it is changeable you by default introduce so many uncontrollable variables that what you create won't be what you intended. And this is why the movie was worth watching.

Emily Blunt was awesome. JGL make-up was horrifying - he looked like a botched plastic surgery victim. Bruce Willis was badass. Garret Dillahunt showed us he didn't lose his ability to play creepy kickass. Fun was had.
ellestra: (Default)
European Union got the Peace Nobel Price. The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 was awarded to European Union (EU) "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe". Unlike the others this is awarded in Oslo which makes it a little funny as Norwegians have been consistently rejecting joining the EU for years (and are even less interested now). On the other hand when I thing all that joining did for Poland both as a country and for each of us and all that it did for the stability and cooperation on the continent I admit that I'm happy about this. I'm proud to be EU citizen. I hope to be one my whole life.

In local news, few weeks ago Neil Gaiman posted photos of a bus. The photos looked strangely familiar and now I know why. I've been seeing it around. I saw something Neil Gaiman posted about while walking around town. It's a strange feeling. Like the one I wrote in Chemistry Nobel post. It feels like something that should be happening far away but instead it's right here. It makes me suddenly realise once again I am living on another continent. Now, it's EU that's ocean away and this is around the corner:
ellestra: (Default)
Yesterday was a tough day so I was to tired for this so here's your delayed Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka "for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors".

Robert Lefkowitz at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Durham, North Carolina, and Brian Kobilka at Stanford University in California were recognised for their work on G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Receptors are protein complexes sticking out of cells that molecules outside the cells attach to and this causes receptors to start a signalling cascade that lets the cell respond to the outside stimuli. One of the most important class of receptors are G-protein coupled receptors (you probably don't want to know on how many of my exams they appeared). The G in this case is guanosine triphosphate - one of the triphosphate nucleotides. A pool of each nucleotide exist in the cell and, besides being used for DNA synthesis and repair, the highly energy phosphate bonds are used for various cell functions. ATP is cell main energy storing molecule. GTP and the forms it can change to are used mostly in signalling.

In most cases, the protein binds GTP and when something activates the receptor, by binding to it, it results in GTP being hydrolysed to guanosine diphosphate (GDP). The released energy is used to change conformation and then start series of reactions that change cell metabolism. The multitude of changes and complexity of signalling pathways means that this is the basis that makes all life work. It's cell talking, eating, breathing - their (our) whole life is based on the receptor signalling.

This is a very deserved Nobel and I'm happy for both of them. However, it's also made me feel weird because I now work very close to one of the laureates and watching him walk those familiar corridors gave strange feel of disconnection. Somehow it made the whole thing seem unreal. I don't know why. It should be opposite, right?

In today's news - Nobel Prize for Literature went to Chinese author Mo Yan.
ellestra: (tiger)
Today it's time for the Physics Nobel and it's quantum. Serge Haroche of France and David Wineland of the US got the prize for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems".

Serge Haroche at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, and David Wineland at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado, Boulder both work in the field of quantum optics. They approach on detecting the quantum states of particles from opposite directions - Wineland used photons to measure the properties of ions trapped by electric fields, while Haroche used superconducting mirrors to cage photons making them travel back and forth inside for more than a tenth of a second (long enough to travel 40,000 kilometres - distance equal to Earth equator). Both managed to invent ways to measure and control tiny quantum objects without destroying their fragile states. Normally the "observer" effect would cause the collapse of quantum state. Their methods allow to detect particles to observe them in their natural state. This bodes well for quantum computers, devices that exploit the weird properties of quantum systems to solve problems that stymie ordinary computers.

"The new methods allow them to examine, control and count the particles" which may lead the way to superfast computers and "the most precise clocks ever seen".

It's funny how both this and yesterday's Nobels are for such a sci-fi subjects. Both are about something that's been horribly misused, mostly in B-movie and TV episodes. Stem cells, cloning and all that quantum stuff that's basically magic for SF (and some of the crazier religious leaders). It's been all treated so badly I cringe when I hear anyone on screen (books are usually better researched) mentioning it as I prepare to do mental list of WRONG. It's nice to remember actual science behind it all. It's not made up and it's not magic. It just doesn't work like your paper headline implies.e
ellestra: (tiger)
It's Nobel week and we'll get a new laureate every day. We start with the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine that was given to two stem cell researchers whose discoveries are over 40 years apart. John Gurdon from the UK and Shinya Yamanaka from Japan were awarded the prize "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent".

Stem cells are the cells that still have ability to turn into different types of specialised cells. That's how embryos are like and then few types of cells in our bodies - ones that produce blood cells or sperm - forever dividing. All the other cells only get limited divisions and use only the genes that are important for their function. They have specialized shape and specialized function and are unable to change. In normal conditions.

Sir John Gurdon 1962 showed in 1962 that if you take genetic material from a fully differentiated adult frog intestine cell and placed it inside a frog egg you will get a frog. Now this is what we know as cloning then it was unknown. It proved that every cell - even non-dividing, mature ones - contain all the genetic information the full organism.

In 2006 Shinya Yamanaka showed that those mature cells could be be reset back to that pluripotent stage and start over developing into a variety of other cell types. He did this by adding four genes to skin cells which transformed them into stem cells then those were able to become specialised cells again. This is what we hope to use to heal organs from hearts after stroke to brain damage to skin.

The Nobel committee said the discovery had "revolutionized our understanding of how cells and organisms develop. The discoveries of Gurdon and Yamanaka have shown that specialized cells can turn back the developmental clock under certain circumstances. These discoveries have also provided new tools for scientists around the world and led to remarkable progress in many areas of medicine."

It's pretty rare now for people to get Nobels so soon after the discovery. I know it's because the need to make sure the discoveries are real but it also undercuts their original goal. They were supposed to help the winners with continuing their careers (that's way they are not awarded posthumously). However, people who get them now are often at the very end of their career. I hope we can get to reward such revolutionary discoveries sooner instead of just saying high time.
ellestra: (telamon)
I realised I haven't written anything about Mars lately and Curiosity has been busy all this time. This weekend she's supposed to take first soil sample and do chemical testing on it. Right now it's just to check if all the elements of her chemistry lab are working properly (including scoop) but even that will give us interesting data about Martian sand.

After all she's just send a photo of something that looks just like a riverbed. From the look of the rocks water there used to ran fast and deep - from ankle to maybe even hip deep. They water flowing through the channel named Peace Vallis rounded pebbles and gravel fragments in a way that could have only been weathered by strong currents. Their shape and orientation shows they were carried by water for a while and signs of many channels indicate the water flowed in this region continuously or, at least repeatedly, for years. So we missed on the rivers of Mars. But, you know, one day.

And recently she posted enough times on Foursquares to become mayor of Mars. One day children will learn about it in history.

So here's panoramic view of View on the Way to 'Glenelg'


And as for what happens next it seems Red Planet wasn't far off base and we may use microbes to help us with making Mars more livable. But not for making breathable atmosphere (at least not yet). For now we are happy for using ones that can make bricks. You just need to pee on them. Peeing bricks - that's the future of masonry.
ellestra: (muppets)
The summer has officially ended by I still managed to get that one last swim today before it gets to cold. But end of summer is also the time for the Ig Nobels. The 22nd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was conducted on Thursday and you can go and watch it all (including real Nobel laureates hoping pointlessly to join the exclusive club of people who won both awards, people painted in silver and the reaction to the world "Universe").

If you don't have the time for the whole 2 and half hours ceremony the list of laureates is here. My favourite this year is the Neuroscience Prize for people who have shown that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.

Fraggle Rock is about to be 30 years old and Lisa Henson and Chris Hardwick got the Fraggles and Ben Folds Five to make a video together.


The Hobbit became 75 yesterday and before the first film comes out here is something that needs to be seen to be believed. If I'd ever taken drugs I would think I'm on them as fandoms collide and Spock sings about Bilbo Baggins.

via Mary Sue
ellestra: (Default)
Drama:
Last Resort - I didn't expect to like it - it seemed to be too overboard - but I did. The idea seemed stupid and I only watched it for the cast and because I try to try all that even a little sf but I had fun. There was suspense and action and interesting characters who really nicely interacted with each other - equator crossing, reactions to the order - you feel like the characters know and care about each other. I even liked the nebulous conspiracy. I usually am very wary of this things but I liked how we got all the red herrings for various people to belong to that and then they didn't and might be good guys. I loved the Australians. I liked how they clearly left now for sf - they exploded nukes in Pakistan! And then in US! And of course all the questions - Why? Who? What did the marines do? I hope they'll keep it fun.

Revolution - I wanted to like it (SF!, post-apocalypse!) but it was just so full of so stupid things I almost don't want to see any more. It's like they took the worse parts of Abram's and Kripke's works and put them together. The premise with big event that doesn't have any sensible explanation (changing laws of physics? seriously?) with results that don't even align with the voice-over (pastoral villages! clean, new clothes straight from the machines 15 years after all of them stopped working!). It reminded me of the shared universe from the series of Polish sf novels where there are nanomachines that attached to and disrupt all that's electrical. But I doubt this is going to make that much sense. Also in the novels everyone goes back to steam - lost opportunity for Revolution - they could've gone steampunk.

The most annoying part came from obsession with family (the Google guy is the only non-family member in the group) and spectacularly stupid behaviours that make everything worse (both kids acted like they were at least 10 years younger then they really were - there was pouting and pointing gun at the whole army). Add to that missing parent and rescuing younger (sick) brother from evil that wants him and you can tell who has issues. He even made that brother responsible for the death of a family member in the first episode. I wanted to slap them, or ground for life. So frustrating. The only interesting parts - uncle and his connection to the militia ruler and the device that can make electricity work again. And the poison scene.


Comedies I liked:
Go On - I liked the patients and even Perry's character,
The New Normal - It's kind of cute but grandma is horribly stereotypical in her stereotyping (but the gun thing was funny)
The Mindy Project - It was cute too although full of douchey people but funny too. It's nice to have self-deprecating female lead.

Meh:
Guys with Kids - I'm pretty sure I saw it but I don't remember what happened.

Bad:
Animal Practice - Just not funny
ellestra: (aeryn)
The 2012 Hugos were awarded yesterday on Worldcon. The ceremony was transmitted live on the web until the robots shut it down. No, that's not an SF story - it's the automated DRM protection of Upstream that stopped streaming right in the middle of ceremony during Gaiman's acceptance speech. This means the internets only learned about him writing another Doctor Who episode from twitter. Not quite the same as hearing it from the man's mouth. Who wants to bet that that means another Hugo both for him and Doctor Who?

Best Novel: "Among Others" by Jo Walton (Tor)

Best Novella: "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" by Kij Johnson (Asimov's, September/October 2011)

Best Novelette: "Six Months, Three Days" by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com)

Best Short Story: "The Paper Menagerie" by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2011)

Best Related Work: "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition" edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)

Best Graphic Story: "Digger" by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): Game of Thrones (Season 1) (HBO)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): The Doctor's Wife (Doctor Who) (BBC Wales)

Best Editor (Short Form): Sheila Williams

Best Editor (Long Form): Betsy Wollheim

Best Professional Artist: John Picacio

Best Semiprozine: Locus, edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.

Best Fanzine: SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo

Best Fan Writer: Jim C. Hines [livejournal.com profile] jimhines

Best Fan Artist: Maurine Starkey

Best Fancast: SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente

The John W. Campbell Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2010 or 2011: E. Lily Yu

And before I forget here are other awards given during the Worldcon. The 2012 Chesley Award Winners are given by the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists each year for excellence in genre art. Here's the winner for the Best Cover Illustration: Paperback Book. You can see all the winners and all the nominees through tor.com post.

Also Moebius won the lifetime award
ellestra: (charlie jade)
I really want Americans to be done already with their elections. It's getting really annoying. I've been watching a lot of youtube lately (catching up on Crash Course) and I swear 90% ads were one of the candidates talking to me in soothing voice or attacking the opponent. Most of them couldn't be skipped. I understand the need for adds but at least hulu gives me an option to tell it it is not relevant to me and pick something else. If I could just tell them all that yes, the geolocation is right - I am in US but I'm a foreigner and cannot vote in your elections (which is what I tell to all the people who stop me on the street wanting to register me to vote). They are even worse targeted then beer commercials (alcohol - even worse tasting than coffee) because, even if I could vote, my political views are left of what American political scene offers. This means Republicans are out of question - no convincing required.

And this rant came out when the show I was to watch on TV was replaced by Romney speaking. I hate when that happens. Makes me dislike the perpetrator instantly. It's a childhood trauma of all that football matches extra time that superseded my goodnight cartoons.
ellestra: (winged)
Neil Armstrong, the first human who ever walked on a something that wasn't Earth, died today. He was 82 and died from bypass complications. He was part of that awesome part of space exploration when we were actually going to space and vacations on the Moon where something people in 21st century would do every year. It makes me sad that he didn't live to see humans going to Mars or even walking on the Moon again. It makes me sad he is gone. It feels like loosing essential part of history - somebody who lived it and could tell the story from the first hand experience. He has been to the Moon. The experience is so exclusive it's just makes you feel awe if you think about it. And he was the first one to do it. And now he is gone.

CNN has a photo gallery of the man both on the Moon and here on Earth.

Neil Gaiman shares his picture the Neil #1 and some other guy named Neal.



P.S. With Harry Harrison, Tony Scott and Jerry Nelson dying it reminded me also how many people who influenced our lives are old and that loosing them was inevitable. Still, you're never ready for it to be now, are you?
ellestra: (winged)
The winners (loosers?) of the 2012 The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been announced. These awards are given to the worst first sentence in a book and is named for Victorian novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton who opened his novel Paul Clifford with "It was a dark and stormy night". It wasn't a cliche then but it is now so he became a patron of all of those who start badly.

This year's overall winner is Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England for this:

As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.
There are also winners in individual categories: Adventure, Children’s Literature, Crime, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Purple Prose, Romance, Science-Fiction, Vile Puns and Western. There are also various Runner-Ups and Dishonourable Mentions for many of the categories plus some Miscellaneous ones and Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award.

It makes for quite a dreadful read and it's hard to consume at once however my favourite is this SF Runner-Up:

The real problem with the “many universes” interpretation of quantum mechanics is that if it’s true, then somewhere, in some universe, anything you can possibly imagine has already happened, which means that somewhere, another version of me has already finished writing the rest of this science-fiction novel, so I’m not feeling real inspired to do it myself. — Steve Lauducci, Bethlehem, PA
However, I really think that John Scalzi was robbed. None of them had really said "It was a dark and stormy night" quite like him.

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