Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fantagraphics prints cryptozoology sequel

Cryptozoology! Fantagraphics Books, Seattle publisher of graphic novels, has come out with Beasts! Book Two the follow up to Beasts! Book One (2006, now out in softcover), an art volume of mythical creatures. Apparently there was a 2nd anniversary party earlier in December for the bookstore and gallery. Anyone make it? How was? If you need details on the book, check out Michael Upchurch's article in The Seattle Times, Seattle's Fantagraphics introduces hopping vampires and other beasts.

But if they had you at cryptozoology, on the hunt for mythological creatures, (and seriously, yeah) just bop over to Fantagraphics to check out the book and see the art exhibit, 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays (yea, open late so even us working stiffs can get there on a "school night"), 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. 24, at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, 1201 S. Vale St., Seattle. Free. Call 206.658.0110.

Before we head out though, let's drop some names and give kudos: local graphic artists featured in the book include Peter Bagge, Kazimir Strzepek and Jim Woodring.

Need more cryptozoology? Check out Jorge Luis Borges' The Book of Imaginary Beings and join the Newsvine cryptozoology group. So much bigfoot!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Exposed: Pi, 7 p.m., Jan. 20 at SFM

"Extraordinary how mathematics help you to know yourself."
Molloy, Samuel Beckett
*Or is it?
The Exposed: Inside Film series, which took a detour from its mission to provide insight into cult films to offer the inexplicable holiday strangeness, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, returns with Pi, 7 p.m., Tues., Jan. 20 at the JBL Theater ($5 general, free for members. Call 1.877.EMP.SFM1).

Pi (1998), directed by Darren Aronofsky, tells the story of a lonely mathematician who believes that nature can be represented and understood through numbers. After the film, a rabbi, a mathematician, and an expert in the game of Go (anyone have the punch line?) enumerate the facts and fiction in Pi.

For a jumpstart on this discussion, check out the
Science News article, Brain reorganizes to make room for math, which explains how learning math messes with kids' minds.

The Exposed: Inside Film series is another Seattle International Film Festival and EMP/SFM team up (They're also bringing us our film festival Feb. 7). The theme of the series this winter is Do-It-Yourself (DIY), more play for low-budget sci-fi films.

Speaking of DIY, everybody caught the article on San Francisco's biohackers, right? Doing genetic engineering at home for fun and, well, mostly just fun, but who knows, maybe innovation or mayhem too. Good for science? People are debating. Good for science fiction? Aw, yeah. The apocalypse can start in anyone's apartment for less than $100.

More evidence for the science fiction/reality merger: per io9, per William Gibson.

"One day I counted them. Three hundred and fifteen farts in nineteen hours, or an average of over sixteen farts an hour. After all it's not excessive. Four farts every fifteen minutes. It's nothing. Not even one fart every four minutes. It's unbelievable. Damn it, I hardly fart at all, I should never have mentioned it. Extraordinary how mathematics help you to know yourself."Molloy, Beckett

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eileen Gunn: 7 p.m., Mon., Jan 26 at Hugo

Gotta love the Northwest. The weather keeps writers right where we want them, stuck at home with nowhere to go but into their imaginations. Snowbound Seattle writers tweeted about the snow and posted snow pics on blogs. Perfect!

Every now and again though, it's good to let 'em out. The next chance to get out of the house with Eileen Gunn is at her workshop "Wit and Tragedy: Writing the Savagely Funny Story,"
10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sun., Jan. 25 at Richard Hugo House ($130, or $117 members) or the following day when she reads and talks about her work 7 p.m., Mon., Jan. 26 at the house ($5). This is part of the Fantastic Fiction Writing Workshop Series and Salons (upcoming events with Molly Gloss in February and Nancy Kress in March).

Gunn wrote the short story collection
Stable Strategies and Others (2004), won the Nebula for "Coming to Terms," and serves on the Clarion West Writers Workshop board of directors.

She's also responsible for
The Difference Dictionary, a supplement to William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's mother of steampunk novel, The Difference Engine. Get your absinthe, Charles Babbage, and hallucigenia definitions here. (Huckle-my-buff: "a hot drink made with beer, egg, and brandy." Needed that one directly. Thank you much! Steampunk people: Have you braved this beverage? Tasty?! Potent?!?)

Also, check out Gunn's online zine: Infinite Matrix. It looks like the site was last updated for Cory Doctorow's birthday but, whatever, mine it for content including Doctorow's story, "Nimby and the Dimension Hoppers," Gibson's essay, "Time Machine Cuba," and Gunn's editorials.

And now back to rain but, no worries, it's even better than snow at keeping writers en chair.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New links added: 12-21-08

who is NWSFS New Blog suggested that some new links be added to the the Local links list on the left, so I have gone ahead and added the following:
I too was planning to add a link for Science on Tap based on this article I came across on Slashdot about Denver couple who built a robot. Give the Slashdot article a read and then check out the links below related to Science on Tap, and the Denver Robot.
Bully to bots and beers! ~ Jim

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy 20th Birthday Space Telescope

Celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's 20th birthday and the Transformation of Modern Astronomy at the next Science on Tap event (science plus beer!) with speaker Bruce Balick, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Washington.

The event is 7:30 p.m., Tues., Jan. 6 at T.S. McHugh's Irish Pub, Lower Queen Anne, 21 Mercer St., Seattle. Call 206.282.1910.

2009 marks the 20th year of the Hubble Space Telescope and the 400th anniversary of Galileo the "father of modern observational astronomy" Galilei's demonstration of his first telescope.
Hubble has entertained 4,000 astronomers worldwide and snapped about 500,000 images of more than 25,000 celestial objects. These include Balick and friends' pics of planetary nebulae.

Because of Hubble we have intel on the age of the universe (13.7 billion years old), how planets are born, and dark energy. Balick will also give an update on the Hubble Servicing Mission 4 planned for this winter to improve Hubble's space armor and make it more powerful than ever.

Need more Hubble? Check out National Geographic's book Hubble: Imaging Space and Time, reviewed by the LA Times here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

20 Science Fiction + Fantasy Shorts: Feb. 7

The 35th Seattle International Film Festival starts May 21. But the science fiction version is sooner. The Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival promises 20 new, creative additions to science fiction and fantasy cinema arts. The festival will be 4-6 p.m. (10 films, Session 1) and 7-9 p.m. (10 films, session two, an awards ceremony follows), Sat., Feb. 7, at the Cinerama.

Tickets are $9 for a single session, $15 for both sessions on sale now at Questions? Call 206.464.5830. This is the Science Fiction + Fantasy Festivals' fourth year. How was last year? Are you going again?

Critically acclaimed weird tales: Rikki Ducornet reads Dec. 16

Author Rikki Ducornet, of Port Townsend, WA, reads from her new short story collection, The One Marvelous Thing, 7:30 p.m., Tues., Dec. 16 at Elliot Bay Books. Ducornet writes fantastic, delicious, and creepy stories. She's been compared to Angela Carter (Check out Carter's modern updates of fairytales in The Bloody Chamber) and H.P. Lovecraft. Ducornet's works win many awards too. The Seattle Times says this is a book of "surreal, phantasmagorical tales" with illustrations by cartoonist T. Motley (creator of Aline the Alien) that some may find "disturbing." Sounds great!

Ducornet is the author of seven novels including
Gazelle (2003), The Fan Maker's Inquisition: A Novel of the Marquis de Sade (1999), and The Jade Cabinet (1993), and two previous short story collections The Complete Butcher's Tales (1994) and The Word 'Desire' (1997). She is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Potlatch 18: Feb. 27-March 1, Silicon Valley

Potlatch, the all volunteer, non-profit literary convention, for readers and writers of speculative fiction, descends on Silicon Valley this year, at The Domain Hotel in Sunnyvale, Calif. Proceeds benefit Clarion West. Last year's Potlatch in Seattle kicked off Clarion West's 25th Anniversary celebration.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Paradoxa No. 21: Ursula K. Le Guin

The current issue of Paradoxa, a journal of articles on genre literature published on Vashon Island, features "New Writing on the Works of Ursula K. Le Guin." The collection of 17 essays is edited by Sylvia Kelso of James Cook University, Australia and includes works by a few Le Guin scholars (yes, people who read and write about Le Guin for a living and, presumably, teach too). They are teaching Le Guin's short story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas," for example. Ms. Le Guin herself, still around (Are you reading Lavinia (2008)?) and not so far away in Portland, Ore., weighs in, as well, talking about the influence of her childhood home, a Maybeck house in the Bay Area, California, on her writing. The collection ranges from Darko Suvin's scholarly examination of The Dispossessed, (which fabulously concludes "Truth shall make ye free (if you organize).") to scholar April Kendra's fannish reaction to first meeting Le Guin. Richard D. Erlich's essay, "Always Coming Home: Ethnography, unBible and Utopian Satire" could be a good warm-up for Potlatch 18, but more on that later. Look forward to a similarly thorough treatment for Darko Suvin from Paradoxa, No. 22, in 2009.

Local heroes: Robotics flashback, Lifesuit

Speaking of robotics, in 2005 the Seattle PI ran an inspiring story about a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger who was told he might never walk again after breaking his back in a nighttime parachute jump. After reading Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, Monty Reed got the idea to build a device to allow quadriplegics to walk, climb stairs and someday dance. He enrolled in a robotics program at North Seattle Community College and built the Lifesuit, a robotic exoskeleton, with some help from the Seattle Robotics Society. Later, he went on to the University of Washington, regained movement in his arms and legs, but continued work on his prototype and received a Mary Gates Scholarship. Where's the Lifesuit today? Well, there's fundraiser for Reed's non-profit TheyShallWalk, 6 p.m., Sat. Dec. 13 at the New York Fashion Academy in Ballard. Back to the earlier neurobotics post, wonder if anyone at the Pacific Northwest Center for Neural Engineering was inspired by Starship Troopers? Or any science fiction?

Local heroes: Neurobotics expert Matsuoka

Here's a great science mashup: robotics plus neuroscience gives us neurobotics. Expert Dr. Yoky Matsuoka, an Associate Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, aims to make Seattle a hub of Neural Engineering. Matsuoka, a MacArthur Genius Fellow, is up to the task. Over at the Neurobotics Laboratory, they're using robotic models to simulate the biomechanics of human limbs and robotics systems to augment, replace and rehabilitate damaged motor functions. Matsuoka is working to build a fully functional replica of a human hand that can be controlled directly by the brain. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Computational Neuroscience at MIT where she was also a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department. Sounds fun! Matsuoka gave a recent talk on neurobotics at a Society of Women Engineers meeting. Anyone catch it? If you hear of an upcoming talk on neurobotics, let us know!