Remote Sensors: Astronomy

  • New SF/Science show for kids on PBS
  • Looking up, this week’s sky highlights
  • Hubble Sheds Light on Super Exoplanets
  • Pluto’s largest moon may have once had an ocean
  • READY JET GO! is a PBS KIDS earth science and astronomy series for children ages 3-8. The series follows two neighborhood kids: Sean, who has an all-consuming drive for science facts, and Sydney, who has a passion for science fiction and imagination. They both befriend the new kid on their street, Jet Propulsion, whose family members happen to be aliens from the planet Bortron 7. Catch this great new science based show for kids week days at 2:30 pm.
  • Looking up, this week’s sky highlights: Sky & Telescope’s weekly observing charts, where to find Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. Jupiter is at opposition, good time to point your telescopes at it.Dusk March 4

Dawn Mar 5

  • New observations from the Hubble Space Telescope are helping characterize the atmospheres of exotic exoplanets. Theory says that the super-Earth 55 Cancri e contains crystallized carbon in its interior, earning it the nickname “diamond planet.” Theory also says that on the hot, young super-Jupiter 2M1207, rain could be made of vaporized rocks, silicates as fine as cigarette smoke particles.  Deeper within its atmosphere, that rain may turn to iron sleet.  Read more from Sky & Tel website.
  • Pluto’s largest moon may have once had an ocean
    It’s possible that Charon once had a subsurface ocean that has long since frozen and expanded. Read more from Astronomy website.

2016 Saturn Award Nominees

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films has announced the 2016 nominees for the Saturn Awards.

Full list of nominations is here.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” leads this year’s Saturn Awards nominations with 15. Its next closest competitors, “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Crimson Peak,” are far behind with nine noms each.

Box office smash “Jurassic World” followed with seven nominations. The Marvel films “Ant-Man” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” were up next, bringing in six and four nominations, respectively.

On the TV side, AMC stalwart “The Walking Dead” shambled off with seven nominations, while HBO’s “Game of Thrones” netted five. There was a four-way tie among “Daredevil,” “Hannibal,” “Supergirl” and “Wayward Pines,” each with four nominations.

The Saturn Awards — now in their 42nd year — are presented annually to films and television series by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.

The award show is known for its eclectic groupings of films in unique categories. In the best action/adventure film category, Oscar favorite “The Revenant” will compete against Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and the Melissa McCarthy comedy “Spy.” Meanwhile, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” leading man Taron Egerton will square off against Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio for best actor.

This year’s Saturn Awards are adding a new category: best new-media television. The nominees include Netflix’s “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones” and “Sense8”; Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” and “Bosch”; and PlayStation/Crackle’s “Powers.”

The award ceremony will take place in June in Burbank.


WARP 94 is available for download

Mascots leave EarthWarp 94 is now available for download. There are 2 different covers. I liked the one you will see in the downloaded pdf, but my printer did not!

WARP 95 is already gathering steam–editor is looking for feature articles, fan fiction, reviews, photos of our activities, and so on. Letters of Comment are much appreciated, and as easy as π — just click the comment button you see at the top of this post.  If you are on Facebook or Twitter, click the share buttons at the bottom.

Do remember to bring your cameras to the Dinosaurs Exhibit in March! We will want lots of photos to post in WARP and on our website.

Pity the IT guy at Hogwarts

ANY SUFFICIENTLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY. Radio Times found a very funny site: “Someone is pretending to be the IT guy at Hogwarts and it’s hilarious”.

The blog is the fictionalised account of an American muggle named Jonathan Dart working as Hogwarts’ first IT guy. The somewhat grumpy character is constantly solving problems and handling the struggles of being a Muggle in a magic world.

I laughed out loud at this earlier entry:

Necessary Equipment

If my “improper” spelling of the word ‘color’ hasn’t cued you in, I am originally from the other side of the pond from Hogwarts. Let me tell you, you cannot find a decent cup of coffee anywhere in Hogsmeade. I’m cool with tea, but sometimes a man needs a taste of what singlehandedly got him through his early 20s.

Luckily, I was able to work a Keurig into the budget this month. The Headmaster asked what the device was for and I insisted that it was a flux relay needed to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow and maintain the balance of the force of the server’s matrix capacity. Long story short he thinks I’m a technical genius and I have a cup of hazelnut flavored happiness.

FanZines for your reading pleasure!

From time to time, MonSFFA receives zines in the e-mail, or we get word of a zine being posted on e-fanzines. Always worth reading, they are often funny and thought provoking.

Broken Toys 46 Edited by Taral Wayne : A most interesting description of the Pompeii exhibition at the ROM (starts on page 32). I’m amazed he was allowed to take photographs, many reproduced in Broken Toys. This exhibition is now in Montreal, and I’m planning a visit. I wonder if we will also be allowed photos here.

I think it is fair to say that there is a broader scope of material in this issue. Apart from the usual self-pity and whining about the vicissitudes of aging, there is a tribute to File 770’s eight years on-line, a terrifying journey into the bottom of my deep freezer, and a pleasant little jaunt to the scenic resort town of Pompeii, in the autumn of 79 AD. Bring a stout hat and respirator.

Opuntia 334 : Edited by Dale Speirs: Starts with Part 2 of Dale’s photographs of Calgary’s Chinese New Year Celebration. I also enjoyed the article on mystery stories/SF, and was reminded of the RNA experiments where some researchers claimed that RNA could transfer memories, an idea that was picked up by SF writers. (Of course, who could resist an idea like that??)

The Art of Garthiness 10:  Edited by Garth Spencer: Static in my Attic, hilarious comments on all sorts of unrelated topics.

Where are the mad scientists in Vancouver? We need a few mad scientists. Is it just me, or are all the heathens living in Surrey? Are there any abandoned properties or forgotten subterranean structures in Vancouver where criminal supervillains could set up their lairs? Is it true that Canadian water supplies are doped with Prozac? When the Arctic ice cap finally melts, will we find evidence of lost human civilizations, or mind-melting Lovecraftian horrors that time forgot, or just more mineral resources to fuel a 22nd-century gold rush? Is there an English word that rhymes with orange?

Garth then goes on to discuss Micronational Politics, another progress report on the Common Sense Life Skills Book, Phan Nuiuz (fan news–Yeah, I know, took me a couple of seconds), and Semiprozines and other marketlike news.

Spartacus 12 Edited by Guy Lillian:  Guy is also known to MonSFFA as editor of Challenger and the Zine Dump. (Always has nice things to say about WARP.  🙂 ) Spartacus is a zine in which he gives personal views on current events. In this issue, the death of Antonin Scalia, gravitational waves, the American elections, the diversity controversy at the Oscars and the way the Academy is shutting out older actors (he reprints Bill Mumy’s letter, adding the comment, send them to the cornfield, Bill) winding up with his own list of preferred candidates for the Hugo Awards.


Stan Lee Makes a Cameo During Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 30th Anniversary Panel

….The evening took an unexpected turn right out the gate as Miller’s panel was interrupted by an audience heckler. That heckler turned out to be none other than Marvel Comics legend/cameo king Stan Lee, who was on hand to celebrate pal Miller’s accomplishments. Lee of course demanded to know who would win in a showdown between publisher mainstays Batman and Captain America, to which Miller slyly responded “Robin.”….

Read all about it!




February 21st Meeting Recap

The theme for February was RED, and several did in fact remember to wear red. Josée won the points for best use of red as she had made her own  Valentine tee-shirt. We found several red tablecloths stashed in the closet and quickly appropriated them for the day.

Early Birds were treated to (or was it tortured with ??) episodes of The Wizard of Aus. It proved a dark influence, at least on one of our members who started using language she barely knew existed.  A wizard fed up with the constant warfare of his world moves to the sanest place he knows:  a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.  It does not remain sane for long….  And by the way, this is NOT the Michael Shanks we know from StarGate.

Josée Bellemare: Protecting the Magic

Josée Bellemare kicked off the meeting with a debate on “Protecting the Magic” Citing shows such as The Librarians and Warehouse 13, Josée got us thinking about magic, its uses and the dangers it could present in the wrong hands. Of course, being MonSFFen, our debate quickly spawned a slew of discussions on tangential topics, such as people believing in a flat earth, magic stones, various gods, and so on. What is it about the idea of magic that draws us to it? Why do perfectly sane and well-educated people carry good luck charms? If you believe in a magic relic, or sacred religious item, does it become real, at least for the believer? Can there be a God if there is no magic?

MonSFFA 20160221-15b panellists
Keith, François, Cathy, Fern–What drives us crazy?

Next up were Cathy Palmer-Lister, François Ménard, and Fern Novo, to lead a discussion on “What Drives you Crazy?” Fern had prepared a series of slides with some of his personal irritants, which really got people talking. Space monkeys, plot holes bigger than Montreal potholes, bad use of science, inconsistencies, budget slashing which leads to us seeing the same 3 ships flying across the screen in every episode, and so on.  Like the talk on magic, we probably could have gone on for another hour! Indeed, during supper, we talked about possibly having a panel on conspiracy theories, pseudo science and just plain bad science, and the strange things people want to believe.  Apparently, lots of things drive us CRAZY!!!

After the break and the raffle, we planned our March 13th outing to the Old Port to see the dinosaurs.

Predator Trap-Stegosaurus juvenile and pack of Allosaurus juvenile_1
Predator Trap Stegosaurus juvenile and pack of Allosaurus juveniles, from website

An immersive experience steeped in realism bringing to life 14 roaring full-sized and strikingly real animatronic dinosaurs. Go back in time more than 65 million years to what life was like on Earth and imagine their breath on the back of your neck. Explore spectacular prehistoric scenes telling the story of two major excavation sites, two skeletons, and twenty fossils. Discover newly revealed secrets about these giants by probing into the most recent and remarkable discoveries about their appearance and behaviours. Take command of an animatronic dinosaur and explore our four interactive stations.

We will meet at noon, in the main lobby and  buy tickets for the show closest to 1:00 PM (if shows are scheduled), and proceed to a search for snacks. (It does not seem that there are scheduled shows, but we are aiming for 1:00 PM. ) I called the science museum, we are permitted cameras, and we can get real food at a kiosk next to the ticket booths. We are also permitted to bring our own lunch boxes.

I recommend buying tickets on line, if possible, to save time. Information on parking is here.

After that, we got into our stop motion project, which is starting to get more exciting as we move from colouring rocks and trees to the construction and testing of the “stage” for our puppets.  A broken pane of glass caused us some worry, but a solution was found. Our “art portfolio” now boasts cratered asteroids, exotic foliage, various rocks, and of course, our “puppet” dinosaurs.  If you have not yet seen our storyboards, you can download the package here.

Mark carpentry
Mark Burakoff fits glass into frame.
camera fit
François Ménard & Danny Sichel, testing the camera.









Our producers, François & Keith, discuss strategy
Our producers, François & Keith, discuss strategy
Leslie Perryon works at background scenery.








Many more photos from our meeting can be downloaded from our members’ pages.

N-Fr-classic-amber(1)Supper was at the 3 Brasseurs on Ste-Catherine.  The food was good, the waitress seemed new at the job, but we all agreed the beer was excellent! Upstairs, we could view the brewing facilities. It was only when I was leaving that I realized we could buy their products.  That amber was delightful! I’ll be back…

THE-VCON-VANGUARD #3 February 2016

THE-VCON-VANGUARD #3 February 2016


I delayed sending this out till new VCON website, link to hotel booking & link to buying memberships ready. All three in zine.

Cheers! Graeme

VCON is Canada’s oldest ongoing science fiction and fantasy convention. The first VCON was held in 1971 at the Hotel Georgia with Ursula K. Le Guin as Guest of Honour. The upcoming VCON will be our 41st!
The theme of VCON in 2016 is “Muppets, Puppets, and Marionettes” which includes everything from giant puppets to stop motion models to Supermarionation. Expect panels and lectures on these and many other SF&F topics, plus demos, workshops, and numerous audience-participation live action games like “Human Battleship” and “Fan Feud.” A mid-sized SF&F convention run by fans for fans, we average 700 to 800 attendees.
The secondary theme is “The Small Press Cabal” which will celebrate independent Small Press Canadian Book and Magazine publishers who have created the environment for a veritable renaissance of Canadian SpecFic. Participating professionals will include publishers, editors, authors, artists and poets.


TOLKIEN POEMS DISCOVERED. Two poems by J.R.R. Tolkien have been discovered in a 1936 copy of a school annual reports the BBC.

According to The Guardian

The first poem, The Shadow Man, is an early version of a poem that Tolkien went on to publish in his 1962 collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. It tells of “a man who dwelt alone/ beneath the moon in shadow”, who “sat as long as lasting stone,/and yet he had no shadow”. When “a lady clad in grey” arrives, he wakes, and “clasped her fast, both flesh and bone;/and they were clad in shadow”.

The second, Noel, is a Christmas poem, albeit one set in scenery that would not be out of place in Middle-earth. “The hall was dark without song or light,/The fires were fallen dead,” writes Tolkien, going on to portray “the lord of snows”, whose “mantle long and pale/Upon the bitter blast was spread/And hung o’er hill and dale”.

Noel is a beautiful and unusual take on the Christmas story, set in a wintry landscape. The focus is on Mary, which may be why Tolkien wrote the poem for the school magazine, given that we are dedicated to Our Lady. The Shadow Man is also a very beautiful story, about two people finding each other and thereafter casting only one shadow – it feels like a poem about marriage. The Shadow Man is incomplete until a woman comes to him and relieves his loneliness.”


Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association