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Online Issue

VCONversation

// December 2012

7


The Vancouver Convention of Science Fiction and Fantasy,
AKA VCON, has been gathering sci-fi and fantasy culture since 1971. We are open-interest, celebrating inclusively literature, art, media, music, costumes, comics, gaming, and onwards. 
We are entirely volunteer-run: we pour in our love and attention and take no monetary profit.  
Get involved or find out more: visit vcon.ca
 


 

In this issue:

  • Space Elevators
  • Tether Reading List
  • DIY Con Wear
  • Pirate Costumes
  • Are pirates sci-fi?
  • Author Feature - Garry Kilworth
  • Happy Ho Ho Ho 

     

 

HELLO AGAIN DEAR READERS!                                 December 9, 2012

Thank you for the response to the last newsletter!  I'm enjoying it and I appreciate the encouragement, interest and submissions!  This month I have a poem forwarded by a Con-goer I met at VCON37, a how-to feature with a dear friend and sci-fi enthusiast as well as an author feature - a prolific UK writer I had not heard of before.  I love what this position is doing for expanding my reading horizons!  Also, the theme of our next convention, VCON38, is PIRATES!  I'll be attempting to inspire and enlighten on the subject of pirates and piracy over the next few editions of VCONversation.  Enjoy.

Theresa Frazao, Syn-Tactical Officer
newseditor@vcon.ca

SPACE ELEVATORS

Last night I was at one of the many holiday parties I will enjoy this month.  Being a geek, my favorite moment of the party was when I somehow ended up in a conversation about sci-fi, sociology and space tethers.  I was more animated in that moment than I had been all night – excited about finding friends who also like Battlestar Gallactica (still a rarity in my crowd) and with whom I could talk about great sci-fi books.  We were talking about how many a science fiction author has predicted scientific advances through what were then the imaginings of their outerspace tales.  I was positive that two examples of this were space tethers and the internet.  I had no evidence to back that up so I made a mental note to do a little online research today.
 
So who predicted the internet?  Jules Verne baby, Jules Verne.  In his novel Paris in the Twentieth Century, written in 1863, Julesy gave “detailed descriptions of a world of glass skyscrapers, high-speed trains, gas-powered automobiles, calculators, and a worldwide communications network.”1  Well, there you have it.  The World Wide Web - Dubya Dubya Dubya.  “His publisher would not release the book because he thought it was too unbelievable.”2
 
As for the space tether, I may not have been 100% on that one.  The first time I heard about tethers was a couple of years ago on CBC radio’s science show - Quirks and Quarks.  Bob MacDonald was talking about a future when we’ll be able to travel to space on an elevator. 
 
An elevator to space, also called a Beanstalk, consists of a cable or tether anchored to the Earth’s surface at the equator and extending into space.  Wiki explains it best:  “The competing forces of gravity, which is stronger at the lower end, and the outward/upward centrifugal force, which is stronger at the upper end, would result in the cable being held up, under tension, and stationary over a single position on Earth.”3  The advantage of the tether is that it would allow for vehicle transport along the cable without the use of rocket engines.

               
Varying images of space elevators courtesy of Google Images.

There are other implications in developing the technology as well, ones that might benefit our environment in the face of our current global warming crisis.  Here’s what Bob MacDonald has to say about it, “Energy can be transmitted through the air on a laser beam, then turned into electricity on the vehicle that runs an electric motor to climb the ribbon. It’s an attempt to get around the problem our vehicles currently face of carrying their fuel with them, whether it’s rocket fuel, gasoline or batteries, which eventually run out because of limited carrying capacity. If the energy source remains on the ground, a lightweight vehicle can run as long as it’s within sight of the beam. Surveillance aircraft could stay up indefinitely; or looking at it another way, energy from solar-powered satellites could be beamed down to the ground.”4  If I’m understanding this correctly, the combination of  lasers and the tether would power the vehicles but could also be used as a means to transmit an alternative energy source.
 
The fact that an elevator into space could someday be a viable option really captured my imagination.  It’s exactly this kind of thing that really interests me in sci-fi – real, actual, plausible scientific theories interwoven with some good space drama.  But did a novelist predict space elevators?


Konstantin Tsiolkovsky 
 

“We could have a working
space elevator about 50 years
after everyone stops laughing.” 

Arthur C. Clarke


According to a list on wikipedia, there are many occurrences of space elevators in fiction, and some depictions may have been made before the space elevator concept became fully established – but none confirmed before the introduction of the concept by Soviet Rocket Scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky – first published in 1895.  You should Wiki him.  He sounds fascinating.  My favorite line about him is, “A recluse by nature, he appeared strange and bizarre to his fellow townsfolk.”5


My “to read” list just got a lot longer!


Despite my mistake in thinking that the concept of tethers originated in sci-fi, I did find a hefty list of sci-fi titles6 that include use of space elevators including:
   

Space Elevators Today

So where are we now?  If you want to keep up to date with space elevator developments, check out http://www.spaceelevatorblog.com/
 

Friday by Robert A. Heinlein

Friday Baldwin, both mentally and physically superior in many ways to an ordinary human, faces great prejudice and risk of death if her "non-human" status is discovered.
Employed as a combat 
courier, she is sent on a mission to a near-Earth space colony where she realizes that her journey is likely to end in death.

Footnotes/Hyperlinks:
 
1:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_predictions
2:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_in_the_Twentieth_Century
3:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_tether
4:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/quirks-quarks-blog/2009/11/canada-rising-to-nasas-space-elevator-challenge.html
5:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsiolkovsky
6:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevators_in_fiction


DIY Convention Wear

If you’re like me, you LOVE getting a t-shirt at VCON but you don’t love it when there are no more in your size!  Personally, I perfer a fitted T and so I experimented with a little DIY t-shirt tailoring. My friend Samantha also wanted a t-shirt from the convention but couldn’t make it in on Sunday so I picked one up for her.  I convinced that even though I purchased size 5X, these were going to be the most awesome t-shirts ever! 

Before:  Sam models her 5x VCON t-shirt.

 

Using t-shirts that fit, we trace their shape over top.  
 
     
After:  I made mine into a long sleeve dress and Sam’s shirt is transformed and fabulously fitted!
 

VCON38 Pirate Costume Ideas

I was already inspired at VCON37 when I saw some gorgeous brown leather corsets in the marketplace.  I pictured these with flowy layered skirts and blousy white tops, layered jewelery treasures and big hoop earrings.  Of course I don't have the right boots but that just means another shopping trip for boots is in my future.  Never a bad thing, unless you are my bank account.  I compiled a few ideas to get my own brain working about what to wear next year.  Maybe it will inspire you too!

Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Carribean

Is it too obvious if I start with Cpt. Jack Sparrow?  A great costume for a boy or a girl I think!!!
 

Steampunk Pirate

The opportunity to wear a fabulous hat must not be missed!


One of the fantastic mermaid costumes from last year.
 

Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Carribean

I love Kiera in this dirty white dress.  What does that say about me?  I just think it's simple, achieves the theme and ... well, of course if you are Kiera you can pull it off.  

Seafaring Tricorn

And this hat takes us from Pirate territory into mermaid territory which is a great seque don't you think?  

Steampunk pirates Photography and Styling By: Joel Daavid
I love these two - again could be wonderful on both men and women.
 


What do pirates have to do with sci-fi???

If you're wondering this very thing, you are not alone!  One of our convention committee members asked that very question today as we brainstormed programming elements to include in next year's convention.  Think of it this way - well first of all, it's a sci-fi and FANTASY convention, and secondly, we're hoping to explore the idea of pirates and piracy.  I'm imagining lots of William Gibson style hackers - Girl with the Dragon Tattoo type stuff and this convention leans heavily on science as well - one of the things that makes it a fascinating experience - so I for one am hoping to learn more about internet piracy.  How do you get your favorite music, movies, tv shows and books?  Pirate Bay perhaps???  Just today, NZBMatrix closed it's virtual doors due to pressure from major production companies looking to protect their interests.  There goes my husband's mainline to UFC fights.  And what about internet terrorists?  What could be more futuristic than pirates operating through the internet to sabotage oil pipelines and nuclear powerstations!   I wonder if any novelists from the past predicted that???  

FOR MORE ON SPACE PIRATES:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpacePirates


Reach for the whiskey, boys. 
Reach for the stars. 
They won't stop us drinking on Venus or Mars. 
Reach for the whiskey, boys. 
Reach for the sky!' 
The vacuum of space sucks the bottles all dry!

— The Senate, "Space Shanty"
  

 

Futureama:  Arrrr!  Hand over yer space booty, or I'll blast ye with me space cannons!


Author Garry Kilworth

Another new addition to my reading list!

One of our newsletter readers tipped me off to Garry Kilworth, a prolific and award winning sci-fi and fantasy writer from the UK.  I had a look at his personal website (http://www.garry-kilworth.co.uk/) and of course, had to see what Wiki reported on him and I am definitely intrigued!  According to his own website, "Garry (Douglas) Kilworth is a little-known but prolific writer who has travelled widely since childhood, living in a number of countries, especially in the Far East. His books include imaginative fiction, historical novels, literary novels, short story collections, children’s books and film novelisations."

According to Wiki he has published one hundred twenty short stories and seventy novels!!!  I think when you're that prolific there has got to be something good in such a large body of work.  So I had a look at some of the titles, and being a creative type myself, it was the covers that sucked me in further.  Take this one for example: (right) The Night of Kadar.  There's just something about the cheesy 70's look of this cover that I love.  That couple could be Luke and Princess Leia or Conan and ... well, some young barbarianess.

Also, this snippet intrigued me:  "His most recent books are Brothers of the Blade, a historical war novel set in India, and Attica, a dark quest set in an attic the size of a continent."  I had to shake my head and read that twice.  Set in an attic the size of a continent?  Well, I think I'll have to check some of this out.

This is the synopsis for Attica:  "Jordy, Chloe and Alex have moved to a new house in a new town. They seem perfectly ordinary, verging on the dull, but their new landlord, Mr. Grantham, has a spectacular secret. Join Jordy, Alex and Chloe as they cross the portal from our world to a strange and wonderful other place, accessible for just a moment in time through the trap-door of the attic in their family home."

I've read a lot of fantastic fiction meant for young readers - it's a shelf I don't think adults should avoid.  Some of my favorite books are from the young fiction category.  

I'd like to thank Ian Alexander Martin for telling me about Garry Kilworth.

Let me know if you've ever read one of his books.  Happy reading friends!
 

Front Cover

Happy Ho Ho Ho … and a bottle of Rum!

Wishing the best of the season to all of you and in the spirit of VCON38’s Pirate theme, an anonymous Facebook posting courtesy of Alexandria MacDonald: 

 
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Twelve whoring wenches
Eleven rum bottles
Ten slaps in the face
Nine dreadlock beads
Eight ships in a fleet
Seven tri corn hats
Six eunuchs singing
Five ports to raid
Four bed warmers
Three cannonballs
Two pompous stiffs
AND A COMPASS THAT DOESN'T POINT NORTH!
   
 

CONTACT

T H E R E S A  F R A Z A O
Syn-Tactical Officer
newseditor@vcon.ca

VCON38 Vancouver's annual science-fiction, fantasy and gaming convention www.vcon.ca
     
 

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