Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily

Tribble Craft

io9 recently mentioned a tribble sale, wherein props from the Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations” were being auctioned off.

If you don’t have the wherewithal to purchase a real one, furry objects rather similar to tribbles (but only coincidentally, as I don’t need a visit from a ravening pack of Paramount lawyers) are easy to make.


  • A scrap of faux fur approximately twice the size of the desired finished size
  • Matching thread
  • Polyester batting or bits of foam rubber for stuffing
  • Plastic pellets (optional)

(Click thumbnails for larger images)

Fur circles Cut two circles of faux fur, one about 1.5″ smaller in diameter than the other. The ones used here were 8.5″ and 7″. (Making the circles uneven sizes means the seam will be hidden on the underside of the furball.)
Pinned Circles Mark each circle at four equidistant points around the edge (the easiest way to do this is to fold them into quarters and mark the folds). Run a long basting stitch 1/4″ inside the larger circle, and a second basting stitch 1/2″ inside. With right sides together, pin the circles together, matching markings.
Gathered Circles Gather the top circle by pulling on the basting stitches, easing the fabric around to distribute the fullness evenly. Pin edges to bottom circle. Stitch with a 1/4″ seam around the edge, leaving a small opening for turning.
Turned Furball Clip the edges at intervals to the seam, then turn right-side out. Add a small amount of plastic pellets (the sort used for stuffing beanbags) to give the furball a little weight, then stuff the rest of the way with polyester batting. Stuff tightly for a tribble-like effect. Stuff loosely for a Martian Flat Cat-like effect. Versatile!
Stitch Seam Turn under the raw edges and hand-stitch to close.
Finished Furball All done! Display your furball with pride. (You may wish to make several; Shadowboy absconded with the one shown here seconds after I was finished with it, and he’s Not Giving It Back.)
Posted in Ephemera March 31st, 2009 by Chip
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So Much for The Naked Orbital Chef

Space BurritoNASA astronaut Sandra Magnus has been spending the last four months learning to cook in zero-G. She’s been keeping a journal of her experiences, doing things like cooking chopped onions in leftover foil pouches and using duct tape to keep crumbs from floating away and clogging air vents. Her experiences to date have been “slow, mediocre, and dangerous.”

Dangerous or not, I am deeply entertained by the floating burrito.

You can see a slideshow of some of her efforts at Discovery.

(via Discoblog)

Posted in Space March 30th, 2009 by Chip
1 comment

The Secret Life of AT-ATs

AT-AT and CatNick Drummond got a new “pet” recently, and has been documenting its behavior as it settles in. He has a whole photoset devoted to its antics, and it’s a sweetly charming glimpse of what AT-ATs do when no one’s watching.

I predict an upsurge in AT-AT popularity once people realize what wonderful pets they make.

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Ephemera March 27th, 2009 by Chip
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Cosmos on Hulu

All 13 episodes are available for free, just in case you haven’t heard the word “billions” enough lately.

In 1980, the landmark series Cosmos premiered on public television. Since then, it is estimated that more than a billion people around the planet have seen it. Cosmos chronicles the evolution of the planet and efforts to find our place in the universe. Each of the 13 episodes focuses on a specific aspect of the nature of life, consciousness, the universe and time. Topics include the origin of life on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere), the nature of consciousness, and the birth and death of stars. When it first aired, the series catapulted creator and host Carl Sagan to the status of pop culture icon and opened countless minds to the power of science and the possibility of life on other worlds.

(I’d recommend against reading the “Discussion” pane unless you want your head to get asplody; Creationists ahoy.)

(via Friendly Atheist)

Posted in Movies & TV March 26th, 2009 by Chip
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Saturday Morning Watchmen

What if “unfilmable” graphic novel The Watchmen couldn’t get off the ground as a movie and was instead turned into a cartoon? HappyHarry has the horribly, horribly plausible answer.

Higher-resolution SWF and downloadable mp3 of the theme song(!!!) here.


Strong together, united forever
They’re the best of friends

But when troubles about, you’d best watch out
For the Watchmen!

Nite Owl is their leader
And he loves to party down

Rorschach’s friends to the animals…
“Yeah, when hes not clowning around”

“I’m nutty!”

Beat up some thugs, say no to drugs
Be in bed by 10

But if troubles about, you’d best watch out
For the Watchmen!

Silk Spectres a sensation
You should really never miss

The Comedian’s her biggest fan now…
“If I could only get that kiss!”

Ozy and Bubastis – a couple o’
Crimesolving superstars

John can give you cancer
and he’ll turn into a car

Strong together, united forever
Come and meet your friends

Have no fear, times up, times here
For the Watchmen!


(via Lore Sjöberg)

Posted in Humor March 25th, 2009 by Chip
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Science Fiction vs. Science

The BBC asked authors Ken MacLeod, Paul Cornell, Iain Banks and Ian Watson whether science fiction can keep up with modern science, and whether the genre needs to stay current with the latest breakthroughs in order to be relevant.

They all give long and thoughtful responses to the question. My own thought is that it isn’t strictly necessary; quite a lot of “classic” SF references woefully outdated technology, but the stories are still relevant.

Do you find yourself jerked out of the story if the science isn’t cutting-edge?

Link (via Big Dumb Object)

Posted in Books & Authors March 24th, 2009 by Chip
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The Strangest Thing You’ll See All Day

The Bangles’ “Going Down to Liverpool,” with an extended cameo by Leonard Nimoy. For no discernible reason.

(via Francesco Explains it All)

Posted in Ephemera March 23rd, 2009 by Chip
1 comment

Hugo nominees for 2009

(Lookit John Scalzi – 3 nominations! Wonder if that is a record?)


Anticipation: Press Release #20, March 2009
Hugo Nominees Announced

Anticipation is pleased to announce the Hugo nominees for 2009. For more information about the award and the voting process consult our website

The Hugo Award, first presented in 1953, celebrate the best in the field of science fiction and fantasy. Recipients are chosen by members of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). The Hugos are presented each year at the World Science Fiction Convention.

799 Total Ballots cast

Best Novel (639 Ballots Cast)
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross
Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi

Best Novella (337 Ballots Cast)
‘‘The Erdmann Nexus’’ by Nancy Kress
‘‘The Political Prisoner’’ by Charles Coleman Finlay
‘‘The Tear’’ by Ian McDonald
‘‘True Names’’ by Benjamin Rosenbaum & Cory Doctorow
‘‘Truth’’ by Robert Reed

Best Novelette (373 Ballots Cast)
‘‘Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders’’ by Mike Resnick
‘‘The Gambler’’ by Paolo Bacigalupi
‘‘Pride and Prometheus’’ by John Kessel
‘‘The Ray-Gun: A Love Story’’ by James Alan Gardner
‘‘Shoggoths in Bloom’’ by Elizabeth Bear

Best Short Story (448 Ballots Cast)
‘‘26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss’’ by Kij Johnson
‘‘Article of Faith’’ by Mike Resnick
‘‘Evil Robot Monkey’’ by Mary Robinette Kowal
‘‘Exhalation’’ by Ted Chiang
‘‘From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled’’ by Michael Swanwick

Best Related Book (263 Ballots Cast)
Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn
Spectrum 15: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art by Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds.
The Vorkosigan Companion: The Universe of Lois McMaster Bujold by Lillian Stewart Carl & John Helfers, eds.
What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction by Paul Kincaid
Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 by John Scalzi

Best Graphic Story (212 Ballots Cast)
The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle
Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones
Fables: War and Pieces
Schlock Mercenary: The Body Politic
Serenity: Better Days
Y: The Last Man, Volume 10: Whys and Wherefores

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (436 Ballots Cast)
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Iron Man Mark

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (336 Ballots Cast)
Lost: “The Constant”
Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Battlestar Galactica: “Revelations”
Doctor Who: “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead”
Doctor Who: “Turn Left”

Best Editor, Short Form (377 Ballots Cast)
Ellen Datlow
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Gordon Van Gelder
Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form (273 Ballots Cast)
Lou Anders
Ginjer Buchanan
David G. Hartwell
Beth Meacham
Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Best Professional Artist (334 Ballots Cast)
Daniel Dos Santos
Bob Eggleton
Donato Giancola
John Picacio
Shaun Tan

Best Semiprozine (283 Ballots Cast)
Clarkesworld Magazine
The New York Review of Science Fiction
Weird Tales

Best Fan Writer (291 Ballots Cast)
Chris Garcia
John Hertz
Dave Langford
Cheryl Morgan
Steven H Silver

Best Fanzine (257 Ballots Cast)
Banana Wings
The Drink Tank
Electric Velocipede
File 770

Best Fan Artist (187 Ballots Cast)
Alan F. Beck
Brad W. Foster
Sue Mason
Taral Wayne
Frank Wu

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (288 Ballots Cast)
Aliette de Bodard
David Anthony Durham
Felix Gilman
Tony Pi
Gord Sellar

The 67th World Science Fiction Convention, known as Anticipation, will take place in Montréal, Québec, Canada from Thursday, August 6th through Monday, August 10th, 2009.

More information about Anticipation, including current membership rates, is available on our web site

Posted in News March 20th, 2009 by Gandalara

The SyFy Hatred Roundup

The Sci Fi Channel recently announced that it was changing its name to “SyFy,” and lo, there was much gnashing of teeth. The uniformity of the negative response to the decision is surprising: Virtually no one is saying, “Hey, great idea,” the most positive responses have been along the lines of, “Meh,”* and the negative reviews…oh, the vitriol that is pouring forth.

Here are a few of the many zillions of posts from around the blogosphere, all of which are hating white-hot hatey beams of hate at “SyFy”:

The Crotchety Old Fan – CDC Issues Bulletin on the Detection and Prevention of SyFy

io9 – 25 Other Names The Sci Fi Channel Could Rebrand With

Topless Robot – Tragically, The SciFi Channel Is Now SyFy

TV Squad – Sci Fi becomes Syfy… as if that makes a difference

Collider – Like The SCI-FI Channel? No, You Like The SyFy Channel.

Gawker – SyFy is the New Sci-Fi

Fanboy – As a Fanboy I’ve Always Deeply Hated the SyFy Channel

SciFi Dimensions – The “SyFy” Channel? You’re kidding, right?

IT World – Sci Fi channel becoming Syfy. Huh?

The Escapist – Sci-Fi Channel Hits Head, Wakes Up As “Syfy”

Cinematical – SciFi Channel Changes to ‘Syfy’ — Insults Entire Audience in the Process

Den of Geek – Geeks Need Not Apply: Sci Fi becomes Syfy

Whoa, Nelly.

What do you think? Good marketing decision, or eye-rollingly bad way to alienate the core demographic?

*As MoorishDignity said over on Twitter:

In an effort to seem “much cooler…more hip” the Sci-Fi Channel has changed its name to SyFy. Yeah, that’ll get you invited to prom. Nerd.

Posted in News March 20th, 2009 by Chip
1 comment

Science is Easy, Comedy’s Hard

Sometimes you can tell when it’s a slow news day. Newspapers start digging up stories about things like a sudden upswing in comedy routines involving science.

“Physics can be hard for comedy,” he admits, “but biology is hilarious. It’s easier to make a joke about the sex lives of bonobo chimpanzees than it is to do a mime representing wave-particle duality.”

They’ve obviously never heard the one about the traveling wavicle and the physicist’s daughter.

Link (via Skepchick)

Posted in Science March 19th, 2009 by Chip
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