Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Revamped blog Marooned has new URL

I've revamped my blog in hopes of providing a more enjoyable experience for all. A different template, larger images, simplified tags and more tools for sharing posts with others. The name of the blog remains Marooned - Science Fiction & Fantasy books on Mars but it has a slightly different URL: It will take me a few days to update the links on the sidebar. Meanwhile, check out the revamp!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Winner of The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition giveaway!

Congratulations to Terri L. of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who is the proud new owner of my slightly-used copy of the signed, limited edition, 750-page The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition (Subterranean Press, 2009). Great job, Terri! Enjoy!

Doctor Who television special “The Waters of Mars” wins Hugo Award

BBC’s acclaimed Doctor Who television special “The Waters of Mars” (2009), which attracted millions of viewers in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, just won the prestigious Hugo Award in the category of Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. A science fiction horror set on the Red Planet in the year 2059, “The Waters of Mars” stars British Actor David Tennant as the Doctor and acclaimed Scottish actress Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide Brooke, his companion and head of Bowie Base One on Mars.

The Hugo Awards were announced at Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention, held in this past weekend in Melbourne, Australia.

[via SF Signal]

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Reading Barsoom & Llana Jane Burroughs

If you're a fan of pulp author Edgar Rice Burroughs and his fictional red planet Barsoom, here are some recent links worth checking out. The science fiction blog io9 posted a fascinating four-part series called Reading Barsoom by John Marr:

1) How Edgar Rice Burroughs became one of the twentieth century's biggest scifi authors

2) A naked princess and slave rebellions in Edgar Rice Burroughs' first Martian trilogy

3) In Burroughs' second Barsoom series, the right girl winds up in the right body

4) In Burroughs' final Barsoom series, we see urban Mars, synthetic flesh, and Nazis of Jupiter

Also, the blog John Carter of Mars Reader updated its reviews of the Barsoom novels and posted a review of the once-indispensible and still hip A Guide to Barsoom (1976):

A Princess of Mars (1917)

The Gods of Mars (1918)

Warlord of Mars (1919)

Thuvia, Maid of Mars (1920)

The Chessmen of Mars (1922)

The Master Mind of Mars (1928)

A Fighting Man of Mars (1931)

Swords of Mars (1936)

A Guide to Barsoom (1976) by John Flint Roy

Lastly, the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest in Chicagoland reported on the recent annual gathering of the Burroughs Bibliophiles, which featured an appearance by the lovely Llana Jane Burroughs, great-granddaughter of Edgar Rice Burroughs!

1931 letter to Astounding Stories: "Aren't there any tall girls in your imaginations?"

Dear Editor:

Gr-r-r, now I am mad! I do wish that people who want a regular instruction book of a magazine would kindly refrain from spending their valuable pennies on ours.

And if Mr. Johnston of Newark believes us who like A. S. [Astounding Stories] to be morons, why let's be morons! for when ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise. I'd like to inform this highly intelligent person that our mag is dealing with pure Science Fiction, and why should any author go into detail describing how cities are made to float and why invisible cloaks are invisible? Why, if every paragraph were broken off to let us know how this or that is possible, I'm sure we'd all be yawning and nodding over the magazine, and finally discard it entirely in search of something more to our liking!

Why waste your time, Mr. Johnston, telling us you don't like A. S.? Just don't purchase it, if it isn't to your liking. We're satisfied with what we have.

What if the stories are like fairy tales? Isn't all fiction more or less of a fairy tale? I want Mr. Johnston to get this point: what we want is fiction, pure Science Fiction and not instructions. We read A. S. as a pleasure. We do not have to be scientists just because we are interested in science!

"The Wall of Death" was grand. It's somewhat terrorizing and gruesome, but I get a big "kick" out of such horrors. However, I hope nothing like that would ever happen, 'cause I'm 18 years old, and I'd be among the first ones to be chosen for those mad half-human jelly-fishes, without a doubt.

I shudder to think that meteors could be hurled from one planet to another and then have some kind of machine, with people in it, on the inside of the meteor. But the hero of "The Gray Plague" surely proved himself a hero, in spite of his handicap. I relish the idea of that Venusian instrument, by which one can learn all from another within a few minutes. Something for our students who cannot seem to learn anything.

Here's one point that I don't like: Why are all those invaders from other planets hostile? Why can't they go on an exploring expedition to our Earth? C'm'on, you Authors--get busy!

"The Pirate Planet" has me all hot and bothered, and my brain in a muddle how any craft of such dimension can move through space with such speed. As the story has just started, I can't say much about it, but here's hoping the captured hero conquers the hostile invaders and comes home with bells on and colors flying, as all good stories should end.

That Sargasso Sea, in "Vagabonds of Space," reminds me of a Halloween ghost. And it was just as bad as a ghost, too. After having been scattered once, it just coolly collects itself into twice its size. Br-r-r--that gives me the chills. Howsoever, nevertheless, be that as it may, I will say that I liked it so much that I'm asking for more like it.

Another word to ye Authors: Please do not always have the girls in your stories such sweet little bundles of humanity. Aren't there any tall girls in your imaginations? Please give us tall girls a break once in a while. It makes me feel better. Thanks.

Gertrude Hemken, 5730 So. Oshland Ave., Chicago, Ill.
[Astounding Stories, March 1931]

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Events of Martian Rails: Green Mars!

Martian Rails (2009), the crayon board game manufactured by Mayfair Games about railroading on the Red Planet in which players build tracks and haul freight, has a long list of events to which players can respond in order to generate revenue for their rail companies. For example:

Green Mars! -- Spring comes suddenly to the Southern hemisphere. Due to the eccentricity of the orbit if Mars, the Southern hemisphere is much hotter in the summer and colder in the winter versus the Northern hemisphere. The Southern Ice Cap is partly water ice and partly frozen carbon dioxide. When it begins to melt, the floods often overflow the canal system and destroy all canal structures and bridges in their paths. The Northern Ice Cap is mostly water ice. Therefore, when it begins to melt, the floods often overflow the canal system and destroy all canal structures and bridges in their paths.

Martian Rails is loaded with references to Martian SF!

Friday, September 3, 2010

“The First-Born” -- new health sciences short story by Brian W. Aldiss

Here’s another new short story written by award-winning British science fiction author Brian W. Aldiss. It’s titled “The First-Born” and it was published earlier this summer in Gateways (Tor, 2010) , an anthology of new, original stories by bestselling SF authors inspired by science fiction great Frederik Pohl and edited by his wife, Elizabeth Anne Hull. Set on an arid Mars settled by bands of unemployed humans and their families thanks to subsidies from blocks of universities back on Earth, the plot revolves around the death of the first baby born on Mars, the medical issue of Martian infant mortality, and what it all means for the human colonization of the Red Planet. Here are the opening lines:
This week marks the first fifty years of humanity walking on the planet Mars. As yet, a better and more peaceful culture has to establish itself, but that the settlements still exist is a matter for congratulations.

Fadrum and his buddy Reet were kicking a ball against the alley wall, Fadrum to Reet, Reet back to Fadrum. Thud bump thud bump, went the echoing ball, in terms of complaint. They seemed never to tire, those two bored boys, but suddenly ceased their game.

Reet made off, ball under arm.

“You don’t say much these days,” he shouted back at Fadrum.

“Gotta study,” was his response.

Fadrum, before heading for his house, launched a jet of urine against the wall, that wall like most others made of processed rock and facbric-blend...
Brian W. Aldiss is also the author of the poem “There Are No More Good Stories About Mars Because We Need No More Good Stories About Mars” (1963), the short story “The Difficulties Involved in Photographing Nix Olympica” (1986) and the novel White Mars or, The Mind Set Free (1999).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rogue archivist and other in$ider$ at Public.Resource.Org earn ea$y ca$h

Thanks to Canadian science fiction author and blogger Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing, I learned all about “10 Rules for Radicals” by rogue archivist Carl Malamud. Apparently, it’s “a must-read for anyone interested in the history or future of universal access, open networks and free societies.” I can’t speak to that, but I did take the time to browse the financial paperwork (IRS Tax Form 990s and audited financial statements) of Public.Resource.Org, Inc., (PRO) a California nonprofit public benefit corporation founded in 2007 by Mr. Malamud to “create, architect, design, implement, operate and maintain public works projects on the Internet.” Here are some of the more interesting bits:

Carl Malamud, president and CEO of Public.Resource.Org, earned $144,000 in compensation for 2007; $147,962 in compensation for 2008; and $149,928 in compensation for 2009.

• In 2007, Public.Resource.Org signed a related-party agreement for “services and office space” with Dover Beach Consulting, which is owned by Board of Directors member Marshall T. Rose. In 2007, PRO paid $21,000 for these services. In 2008, PRO paid $17,500 for these services.

• In 2007, Public.Resource.Org signed a related-party agreement for design services with Point B Studio, which is owned by Rebecca Hargrave Malamud, the ex-wife of president and CEO Carl Malamud. In 2007, PRO paid $16,833 for these services. In 2008, PRO paid $23,400 for these services. In 2009, PRO paid $14,000 for these services.

• In 2007, Public.Resource.Org signed a related-party lease for office space and data communication access with O’Reilly Media, which is owned by an unnamed member of the Board of Directors. In 2007, PRO paid $4,726 for office space. In 2008, PRO paid $6,808 in rent for use of the space. In 2009, PRO paid $7,080 in rent for use of the space.

• In 2008, President and CEO Carl Malamud sold to Public.Resource.Org computer and video equipment appraised at $34,100 for $14,000. The balance of $20,100 was recorded as an in-kind contribution. Malamud also donated a domain name for exclusive use by PRO, appraised at $12,400. This, too, was recorded as an in-kind contribution.

No word on whether Public.Resource.Org intends to change its name to Self.Dealing.Org.

Five Mars SF&F guys who committed suicide

Guess who?

1. James Ashmore Creelman (1894-1941) Hollywood film writer whose credits include King Kong (1933) and The Journey to Mars (1936).

2. Thomas Disch (1940-2008) Science fiction author and poet whose works include the children’s book The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (1988).

3. Gray Morrow (1934-2001) Illustrator of paperback book covers and comics whose works include the cover art for the 1966 editions of the trilogy Warriors of Mars, Blades of Mars, Barbarians of Mars by Michael Moorcock.

4. H. Beam Piper (1904-1964) Science fiction author whose works include the classic short story “Omnilingual” (1957).

5. Wally Wood (1927-1981) Comic book writer and artist whose works include “Spawn of Mars” (1951) and the concept roughs for the famed 1962 Topps Mars Attacks trading cards.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Top 10 Marooned posts for August 2010

The Top 10 Marooned posts for August 2010:

1. Gallery of b&w illustrations from Edison’s Conquest of Mars (1898, 1947)

2. “They All Had Grandfathers” a previously unpublished Martian tale by Ray Bradbury

3. New short fiction: “How to Become a Mars Overlord” by Catherynne M. Valente

4. Trailer: 1964 film Robinson Crusoe on Mars, featuring Adam West

5. Jet Powers diffuses royal Martian plot in Golden Age comic

6. Chinese cover art: Barsoom

7. Buster Brown Goes to Mars – 1958 comic book

8. Events of Martian Rails: White Mars!

9. Original advertisement for Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1917 novel A Princess of Mars

10. Haydn of Mars, 2005 fantasy novel by Al Sarrantonio

Cover art: Podkayne of Mars

Check out this Flickr gallery of cover art portraying Podkayne of Mars, the title character in Robert A. Heinlein’s classic 1963 juvenile novel. More than 25 pieces of beautiful artwork, including covers from Britain, Germany, Finland, Brazil and Japan. Interesting how few covers include both Podkayne and a phallic rocket! I had difficulty determining some of the dates of publication, so additions or corrections are welcome.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wanted: Info on Brain W. Aldiss’ new SF story “Finches of War”

Late last month, reported that award-winning British science fiction author and artist Brian W. Aldiss has written a new science fiction short story set on Mars. It’s called “Finches of War”. Does anyone have any more information? Thanks.

Dark Horse to reprint John Carter of Mars comics from 1970's Weird Worlds and Tarzan

Dark Horse Comics is collecting and reprinting the John Carter of Mars stories that were originally published in the 1970's comic books Weird Worlds #1-#7 and Tarzan #207-#209. The forthcoming volume, titled John Carter of Mars: Weird Worlds and scheduled to be released in January 2011, features the handsome work of comics legends Marv Wolfman, Murphy Anderson, Gray Morrow, Sal Amendola, Joe Orlando, and Howard Chaykin.

[via JCOM Reader and Doc Mars]

Swedish art: Marsmänniska glass vase

There’s a beautiful Graal glass vase by Swedish artist Eva Englund (1937-1998) for sale on eBay. Created in 1988, the piece is called "Marsmanniska" ("Martian"). It’s about 8 inches high and 25 inches across at the widest point. Only $4,000. The face on the vase looks similar to ones I have seen on a few European covers of The Martian Chronicles. Cool piece of glass!

Monday, August 30, 2010

New gender switch short story: “Amazon Arena of Mars” by Tara Loughead

Jekkara Press, the home of The Adventures of Bulays & Ghaavn and The Gender Switch Adventures, has an interesting, free short story titled “Amazon Arena of Mars” (2010). Written by Tara Loughead and dedicated to Leigh Brackett, the Queen of Space Opera and Martian Science Fiction, the story stars Erica Joan Stark, a character based on Brackett’s legendary male character, Eric John Stark. Here are the opening lines:
“PINT OF BITTER and your comm number.”

The big-breasted bartender regarded Bulays with amusement, because she’d certainly heard that one before.

“Bit desperate, aren’t you?” Called a deep female voice from a seat in the shadowy far corner of the bar.

The woman that stood as she spoke was tall and built and muscled like a lioness. She walked with a flat-hipped arrogance, more than a match for the swagger of Bulays. Her hair was like coiled midnight. She wore a kilt and sandals, her magnificent body bare above the waist. She carried a longsword sheathed across her back...
It’s worth noting that Jekkara Press takes its name from an ancient city located on the Mars of Leigh Brackett.

(Artwork by Vickie Shan)

Retro review: Siskel & Ebert discuss 1996 Sci-Fi spoof Mars Attacks!

Film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert review Mars Attacks! (1996), director Tim Burton's science fiction spoof based on the 1962 Topps trading cards. Starring Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Sylvia Sidney and Pam Grier.

One thumb up and one thumb down!