Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Which Leader is Kim Jong-un?

Kim Jong-un's grandfather, who founded the ratty North Korean hermit kingdom, was known as the Great Leader. His father was known as the Dear Leader. And now, The Daily Beast asks what Kim Jong-un should be called. I'm thinking "The Not-Yet-Dead Leader" is a good one, or "The He Hasn't Killed All of the Citizens Yet Leader" might still be available.

One reader thinks (and I'm still not sure if he/she was joking or sadly serious) that Kim Jong-il shouldn't be mocked in death, because he meant well. Frankly, if anyone ever meant ill, it would be someone like Kim Jong-il, who starved to death millions of his countrymen and helped fuel the nuclear weapons race. But perhaps we can all come together, crazy letter writer and me and you, and help the impoverished and incredibly weird nation of North Korea come up with a new name for Kim Jong-un.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Frank Conniff and Keith Olbermann on Kim Jong-il

It's time for more fun with the late Kim Jong-il, which is fine, because he wasn't much fun when he was alive.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

North Korea's Kim Jong-Il Is Dead

One's mind fills with nasty things to say about North Korea's undearly departed dictatorial godhead, Kim Jong-Il. The fanatical leader has died, according to that country's media.

The first response, of course, is "Good." He was someone who led a country that made its citizens so miserable, so imprisoned, so intellectually impoverished, that his death likely can only improve things. There's always that old commentator's chestnut: Who knows what comes next; it could be worse. And that is true, unfortunately.

But for now, I'll stick with "good."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, Givin' 'Em Hell in Hell

Having watched writer/critic/polemicist Christopher Hitchens on many a talk show, having read a number of his take-downs (sometimes beautifully constructed, sometimes overkill), I was a little apprehensive a couple years ago when I was preparing to interview him. Hitchens was coming back to The Commonwealth Club of California, where I work as VP of editorial and media, and I had arranged to interview him privately for about 30 minutes before his speech. The interview was slated for my column in Northside San Francisco.

I shouldn't have worried; the event organizer, Kara Iwahashi, told me Hitchens is, in fact, very sweet and easy to work with, easy to speak with. So it would have been a fun and interesting interview, had it taken place.

But it was not to be. Just a day or two before his arrival, he canceled his book tour (including our appearance), and announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer. We certainly hoped to get him back on our stage when he was well enough to do so, but we never got the opportunity. Christopher Hitchens died today, 62 years old.

Give 'em hell, wherever you are.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chock Full of the Nineties: The Starlog Project, Starlog #198, January 1994

If there is one consistent complaint that is lodged against Starlog in the 1990s, it is that the magazine focused too much on chasing every detail of every science fiction TV show and movie (and occasionally books), while ignoring the fan experience and other aspects of the science fiction universe. The magazine had been strongest in that regard in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when multiple columnists and the magazine’s then-co-publisher made sure the magazine spoke to the heart of science fiction fans.

Times change, of course, and one of the biggest changes from the early 1980s to the early 1990s is the tremendous growth of SF TV programs. With new television networks needing popular products – er, programs – to push, and with Star Trek: The Next Generation having established the viability of syndication for genre TV, the 1990s would see a never-ending succession of programs. We got everything from Trek spinoffs to non-Trek Roddenberry creations to entirely new efforts. That meant that Starlog had to cover this ongoing onslaught of SF TV, whether it was good, bad, or in between. 

But something else changed between the early 1980s and the early 1990s. What was once a 68-page magazine was now a 92-pager, and that meant that the magazine could have easily found space to slot in the occasional space science story or scientist interview, or run competitions that called for reader creativity, or any number of other things. The Fan Network pages, which by the mid-1990s had for years been just compilations of fan clubs and convention listings, was originally created to feature articles about creative fans, their experiences, their lives. As former managing editor Carr D’Angelo told me, the editors were under pressure from the publisher to find these interesting fan-based stories, but that task was easier said than done; it even resulted at least once in a story being published about something that had been reported years earlier in the magazine.

Even in the mid-1990s, however, Starlog still produced the occasional article outside of its usual SF TV coverage. This issue, that article is F. Colin Kingston’s guide to auctions, where fans can buy science fiction memorabilia (such as a $1,500 Cylon fighter model from the original Battlestar Galactica). Get out the credit card.

Starlog #198
92 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

Odd classified ad of the month: “GIANT WOMEN GROW HUGE in adult books, fantasies! Must state you’re over 21, & sign. $1, long SASE …”

The rundown: The cover is a mishmash of items, apparently none of them strong enough to command the cover by themselves; meanwhile, the work of artist James Bama makes one of many appearances in Starlog publications and is the sole featured illustration on the contents page. In David McDonnell’s Medialog column, the big tease begins, with rumors that a fourth Indiana Jones film is already being written (something that wouldn’t come to fruition for a decade, of course); furthermore, “George Lucas reports that the next three Star Wars films … will probably be shot simultaneously sometime before 1997.” Or maybe not. And in Gamelog, Michael McAvennie reviews Legend Entertainment’s Gateway II: Homeworld, Steve Jackson Games’ Hacker II: The Dark Side, and more.

The Communications section includes Mike Fisher’s Creature Profile of Gamera (misspelled Gammera), plus letters about the need to read, and the requisite debates over the finer points of Star Trek. Booklog reviews Christmas Forever, Tears of Time, Dealing in Futures, Alien Secrets, Heart Readers, The Hidden Realms, Fossil, The Wolf of Winter, Satellite Night Special, Godspeed, and Moving Mars. In his Videolog column, David Hutchison reveals that there’s a new home video release of the Star Wars films called Star Wars Trilogy: The Definitive Collection, which of course stayed definitive until the next collection. The Fan Network includes Marc Bernadin’s list of fan clubs, publications, and conventions. And in his From the Bridge column, the ever-social Kerry O’Quinn travels the country alone.

In a Startling Starlog Stories faux-pulp layout, Michael J. Wollf (and illustrator George Kochell) examine shows that deal with, um, brains, including a certain infamous Star Trek episode. Tom Weaver interviews Lost in Space actress June Lockhart, revealing – among other things – that she once worked at religious magazine Guideposts to gain experience in the publishing business. Today she’d just blog. Bill Warren profiles genre stalwart Ted Raimi, who was starring in seaQuest DSV at the time. And Will Murray interviews artist James Bama, who painted years of Doc Savage paperback covers, as well as some SF-themed works.

Actress Lindsay Frost (Monolith, Dead Heat, etc.) is interviewed by Pat Jankiewicz, revealing that the first money she earned on stage was “about a madam who ran a whorehouse.” So, no Star Wars, then. Craig W. Chrissinger checks in with Mike W. Barr about the new Star Trek: Deep Space Nine comic book. Rod Taylor and Alan Young reminisce about working with the great George Pal, in an article by Bill Warren. Much is made of the iconic time machine from the same-titled Pal film, and much also is made of Bob Burns, the man who ended up buying and restoring the machine. And Steve Eramo contributes his first article to Starlog, an interview with Doctor Who actor Jackie Lane, who discusses portraying Dodo Chaplet to William Hartnell’s Doctor.

F. Colin Kingston explores the hot commodities on sale on the SF memorabilia auction circuit, and he includes a how-to-bid sidebar (in those admittedly pre-eBay days). Tom Weaver interviews Michael Fox, who discusses acting in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Conquest of Space, Young Frankenstein, Twilight Zone episodes, and more. And in one of the odder or more creative (take your pick) ways for editor David McDonnell to get out of writing his editorial column, the final four pages of the magazine are taken up with imitation trading cards, featuring photos and facts about various Starlog correspondents. It is, at least, an interesting way to put faces to names we’ve been seeing in print for years. It’s also where we learn that Mike McAvennie once “caught 38 quarters after placing them on my elbow.” Talented group, this.
“I used to be made fun of a lot. There was one kid, who will remain nameless, that I’ll never forget. He used to come up to me and say, ‘Raimi, you’re a geek! Hyuk, hyuk!’ Every day he would pop my books and they would go sliding down the hallway. I thought, I have to do something at school. I’m not a jock, so I chose acting; it was natural, it was the only thing I could really do.”
–Ted Raimi, actor, interviewed by Bill Warren: “The Young Ted Raimi” 
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Latest Northside Column: Where to Go, What to Do and Eat Near the Bay Area

For my latest Common Knowledge column in Northside San Francisco, I talked to Bay Gourmet leader Cathy Curtis about cool places to go, the best foods to eat, neat things to do in the Bay Area hinterlands.
The Bay Area Fun Belt
By John Zipperer 
After the fall of the Soviet Union, a new Russian term came into vogue: “the near afar.” It referred to those newly independent countries bordering the Russian Federation, at once close by and yet more distant than before because they were no longer part of the same empire. 
In the Bay Area, our “near afar” is a stunning belt of hills, wine country, farms, and small towns that girdles our metropolis, and getting there is quite easy. Knowing how to make the most of your time there can be a challenge, so I turned to an expert. When Cathy Curtis is not busy with her duties as the owner of Curtis Financial Planning, she volunteers at The Commonwealth Club as chair of our Bay Gourmet Forum, and she also leads groups of travelers on day trips and slightly longer visits to exciting destinations in the near afar. I asked Curtis to share with Northside San Francisco readers some tips for finding great local getaways.

Read the entire column
When she's not busy giving financial planning advice, Cathy Curtis enjoys showing people how to enjoy the finer features of the world. Photo by Beth Byrne.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hillary Clinton on Gay Rights (Video)

She shows she's lost none of her strengths since her landmark speech in China on women's rights in the 1990s. "Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."

Below, video of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.N. today. It made Rick Perry flip out; he claimed Obama was proving himself to be further out of step with the American people; but this is just one more topic on which Perry is wrong. Americans – even young evangelicals – are increasingly with Obama and Clinton (and many Republicans) who don't want to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Dealing with Consultants

For reasons I don't need to go into here, I've been thinking a lot about organizations that bring in outside consultants to evaluate things and offer recommendations. It reminded me of an Internet Whirl column I'd written for Internet World (yes, the column name was a pun) magazine a decade ago, so I share that column with you.
Internet Whirl
Grin and Bear It
The Upside of Letting an Outsider Tell You What You Already Knew 
By John Zipperer
(06/15/01) An e-business consultant was recently in our conference room, commiserating about the challenges he faced helping companies get from point A to B in their Internet plans. He remarked that though he is often mistaken for one, he is no magic fountain of secret knowledge. In fact, he said, “Often, I’m telling them to do what they already know needs to be done.” It may sound like an unnecessary waste of money for a company, but it often proves to be a very necessary reassurance. 

This is a lesson I learned firsthand while working on a project to Web-enable a former employer’s database. We had legacy software specially designed for our type of organization, but it hadn’t been designed to work with Windows NT—which we didn’t know when we started the project—causing us a great deal of trouble when we went live. Only after months of struggle did we get the software maker to admit their software was the problem. It was your typical e-business nightmare: The database was too slow; it often crashed; it didn’t have enough search functions for our customers.

There were other problems, too. We had a number of broadcast e-mail lists I administered, which pulled their addresses out of the same legacy database. Except that the filters for the broadcast e-mail software often failed; people couldn’t get subscribed easily and often got unsubscribed because the system overwrote new lists of subscribers with older lists. Those were the lucky ones. We also heard from more vocal customers who had not subscribed but nonetheless were receiving the e-mail, which in such circumstances translates into spam.

The technical problems weren’t monumental. We knew what we needed to do—upgrade various software programs, bring in a new technical consultant with expertise in our broadcast e-mail system, establish a position of chief architect for all of our technology efforts, and eventually, switch server platforms. We ended up doing all these things, but only after a second trial by fire. The first trial had been handling problems and dealing with customer complaints. The second trial was implementing the new system despite losing the confidence our customers and board members once had in us.

We had to go through a long political charade before we could get the necessary changes made. The board’s solution was to bring in an outside consultant who would do a review of our technology use, needs, and future growth. A local firm was hired to conduct interviews. We worked with them, and then waited anxiously for their report. It essentially restated what we had said all along—what needed fixing, what staffing changes were necessary, and what future investments had to be made to get the company where it wanted to be.

Well, it wasn’t all stuff we’d been saying all along. On one page of the report was a particularly annoying chart that purported to show how our company would fall behind the technology curve if we didn’t keep investing and upgrading. It was an amateurish chart: it indicated no quantities of time or money, just some curved lines, our company’s name, and a description with a dire warning about our future if we failed to heed the report’s recommendations. That graphic was, to me, the final insult of an insulting process. Yet it was swallowed whole by the board, for the sole reason that it had been prepared by highly paid outside experts.

It was galling, but also a lesson in the value of refraining from asserting the need to be recognized for having been correct all along. What the consultants provided (for a few thousands of dollars) was a comforting aura of expertise that our board needed in order to accept our recommendations and accept a new working arrangement with us. In short, it gave them ammunition with which to answer potential critics. Politics is a messy thing, and it ain’t just in Washington. But if one can manage to set aside one’s distaste for it, the bigger picture will unfold.

For us, there was a happy ending; the political games served to get us to where we needed to be all along. Frustrating as it was, it was the right thing to do, because it allowed everyone involved to eventually buy into the plan. But all it required of us in-house folks in the end was a little patience and humility. To reach our goal, that wasn’t too much to ask.

The Star Wars Holiday Special Goes Glee


The 1978 TV one-shot program featuring Bea Arthur, Wookie Life Day, Harvey Korman, an animated Boba Fett, and way too much singing, is being resurrected. It will be the basis of an upcoming holiday episode of Glee, reports Britain's SFX magazine.

Sort of a Muppets Meet The Carol Burnett Show, the Star Wars Holiday Special aired on CBS in 1978 and is generally an unloved – and oft-mocked – part of the Star Wars universe. It only snagged one magazine cover at the time (Starlog #19, above), despite the Star Wars fever raging in the young country at the time. Directed by Steven Binder and written by five writers, including Bruce Vilanch, the show was a hodgepodge of cameos by the stars of the original Star Wars film and new characters trying gamely to make a kiddie-friendly show.

It remains to be seen if Glee will treat it as aging cheese that has become good again or as a source for mocking.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pew! Pew! Pew! Zzzzaaap!

Why post this? Because I like to think I live in a world – er, universe – in which spacemen can have laser battles with robotic warriors in orbit. That's why. Is that a crime?

Pelosi Whets Our Appetite for Newt Gingrich Candidacy

Read the above short note that was posted on Talking Points Memo. Anyone who thought the Democrats were worried about a "smart" Republican like Gingrich becoming the Republican nominee for president simply doesn't know what they're talking about.

And Pelosi does know what she's talking about. But she waved off pleas for details: “When the time’s right.”

Just give us a 15-minute warning before that press conference, so we have time to make popcorn and open up a few cold sodas.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Print Is the New AM Radio

Folio: reports that a regional magazine publisher in North Carolina is starting a new print newspaper. He has spotted the problems that have occurred with the decline (that's a nicer word that collapse) of daily newspapers, and he is concerned that citizens are not getting good information on the workings of their communities and the world. So he is creating a new weekly newspaper that will serve his audiences.

It is counterintuitive only if you aren't paying attention to media and business. Big daily newspapers have basically imploded under the weight of high costs that were no longer supported by massive print classified advertising. Readership has also shrunk, but the newspaper's problems today are primarily advertising revenue-based, not readership based. So daily newspapers have tried to reinvent themselves over and over again, with a lot of wasted money and a lot of amnesia about why people want to read newspapers in the first place (and therefore why advertisers would want to pay to reach those readers in print).

AM radio was once written off as a has-been, overtaken by the superior FM stations. But then talk radio (and particularly the conservative kind) saw an opportunity, and AM radio became hot again.

I see a similar coming opportunity as big publishers lose the ability to publish magazines that drop from something like 900,000 circ to 450,000 or 250,000. Those lower numbers can't support the corporate infrastructure and massive debt loads carried by the big publishers, especially the public ones. But that leaves lots of burgeoning opportunities for smaller publishers (existing and new ones) to step in and successfully publish magazines in many niches at 100,000 to 500,000 circ. I remember pitching a science/science-fiction magazine to a small publisher fifteen years ago when Bob Guccione canceled Omni magazine, which had fallen from more than 1 million circ in the early 1980s to around 600,000 by the mid-1990s. Guccione couldn't make a 600,000-circulation Omni work; many others could have been profitably thrilled with such a number, or even half of it.

That small publisher didn't bite, and I think he lost a good opportunity.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

SF Movie News Video (beta)

Galaxis SF Movie News Dec. 2011
by: jzipperer

Readers of this blog know that I created a free digital science & science-fiction magazine called Galaxis, which can be read or downloaded from the issuu website.

Today, I present a new experiment, to be followed by more (and much better, I assure you) such videos as I learn the XtraNormal text-to-movie system. Above, my Galaxis news staffer reads the quarterly science-fiction movie news.

Like I say, it's a beta test; the timing is off, and there is much more that can be done with additional speakers, facial expressions, movements, and pauses. But I still think it's a fun experiment. And, again, it will get better...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Architectural TV: Chicago Temple (First United Methodist Church) on WTTW Tonight

One of the treats of living in Chicago during the 1990s was that I got to be surrounded by some stunning architecture. From the bridges to the parks to the monumental museums, there was inspiring work all around.

I was a member of the First United Methodist Church during my time in that city, and I've told people since then that that church ruined me for other churches. If I don't explain, they might get the wrong idea, thinking that the church was a bad influence or terrible experience. In fact, between the friendly, diverse congregation and the wonderful pastors (led by the incomparable and now-retired Dr. Eugene H. Winkler – still the best preacher I've ever had the pleasure of hearing), First Church simply set the bar too high for any other church to meet, as far as I'm concerned.

Today, I certainly wouldn't pass a litmus test for believers, but if I lived in Chicago, I'd still be a member of this wonderful church. It is located in a historic skyscraper in the heart of the Loop (if you've seen Blues Brothers, the church is briefly visible at the very end in a scene of various police cars converging on City Hall) and is an architectural marvel. The building itself is called the Chicago Temple (which leads some people to assume the congregation is Jewish, then they get confused with the Methodist Church bit) and it is the oldest congregation of any faith in Chicago. It's even in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest church in the world.

Sorry. I could go on and on, because I have too many great memories of my time at the Chicago Temple. The memories were spurred by a Facebook post by the Temple that the building will be featured tonight (November 29) at 7:30 pm Central time on Chicago station WTTW. Below is a short video excerpt that will give you a taste of the WTTW program and of the building.

(If the video below doesn't work, you can see it on WTTW's website.)

iPhone4 vs. HTC Evo

I do love Apple and Google, and I refuse to take sides. But as a confirmed Mac user (at work and at home) with a much-loved Android phone from T-Mobile, I found this video to be hilarious. (Warning: If you're offended by off-color language, this video might not be for you.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Confused Market

Below, courtesy of my Google homepage gadgets, are screenshots of the current (as of this writing) stock index numbers and headlines from the Financial Times.

Stocks are up dramatically so far this morning. But the headlines sure as hell don't tell us why. Moody's is crying about eurozone debt. Okay, we can discount what the crediting agencies say; they're not the most trustworthy source of financial estimates (despite the fact that, um, they're supposed to be so). But the OECD "highlights eurozone contagion risk" and those darn banks have to "scramble to plug capital deficits (which usually leads to immediately reduced lending, thus hurting expansion).

Yet stock indices are up a lot. The one headline that would seem related is "Equities rally on hopes for eurozone," but what artificial substances are people ingesting to have hopes for the eurozone if Moody's and the OECD are both telling people to run for the hills?

It could mean nothing more than that the sell-off in recent weeks was overdone, so this is a correction to that overcorrection. Also, the fears that the eurozone problems were now affecting even super-triple-A Germany's economy could have evaporated upon further review (because Germany's economy is so strong and its credit so sound, it was offering extremely low returns, so its recent "failed" bond sale doesn't necessarily mean people feared that even Germany couldn't sustain its debt – it could have just meant that there are other places with better yields right now; that would actually be good news, because it would indicate a slightly increased appetite for risk).

No, the boost to Wall Street is likely due to reports of a possible new initiative by EU countries to tackle their debt problems. Initial sketchy reports are that it would combine the German tough-love approach with the French money-shoveling approach. Markets love that stuff, apparently.

But we've seen any number of new initiatives that are launched by Europe's leaders and, no matter how sound the initiatives are, quickly deflated by market fears. So I won't hold out hope that this is a long-term sustainable rally.

If you're more optimistic than I am, then also remember that America's ticking time bomb of municipal, state, and federal debts and unfunded obligations (of many tens of trillions of dollars) is still out there, as is the largely ignored big debts of China's cities and regions.

Happy post-Thanksgiving!

Star Wars Loves People, People Loves Star Wars

This is the holiday season, so I thought it was high time to present a retrospective of People magazine covers featuring Star Wars. People has changed quite a bit since those days; nowadays, if Kim Kardashian isn't wearing a stormtrooper uniform, it isn't going on the cover of People

So here they are, in no particular order. Enjoy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Lawsuit of the Beast

All he had to do was drop a crate on his foot on day 665. Instead, he sued.

So he's devout, but not very imaginative. And not willing to really suffer for his faith. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Star Trek Viewing Star Wars

Because you've always wondered what Deanna Troi would say about Han Solo, right?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Everyone's a Corporation ... I Mean, a Person

Interesting: The conservative state of Mississippi will vote to officially declare that a person is a person from conception. Will that mean that any time I can conceive of a corporation, it will be illegal to destroy it? I think I've just found a way to ensure that my business plan is finally funded ...

Friday, November 4, 2011

After 43 Years, Star Trek Episode "Patterns of Force" to Air in Germany

"Don't mention the war," was the warning from Fawlty Towers. It appears that Star Trek didn't get the message, and it paid for it for more than four decades.

German public broadcaster ZDFneo is going to air the original Star Trek episode "Patterns of Force" for the very first time, nearly 43 years after it aired in the United States, according to a report on The Local, an English-language German news website. Though the episode did air on German pay TV in the mid-1990s, this is the first time it'll air on public TV.

The episode, written by John Meredyth Lucas, is an extremely unsubtle homage to World War II and a certain rotten little German regime run by Nazi fanatics. Whatever art might have been in the episode is probably drained away by the heavy-handed bluntness; as The Local notes, it involves a war between two planets, one of them named Zeon, whose partisans are called "Zeonist pigs."

Okay, so not all science fiction is finely honed cultural critique. Sometimes the critique is slathered on with a ping-pong paddle.

Nonetheless, the German broadcaster apparently decided that the Huns – oops, one war too far back – could stand a little thinly veiled attack on a German government that was soundly blasted into smithereens 66 years ago.

One wonders what they would think about Starship Troopers ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Northside San Francisco: Reviewing Henning Mankell's Latest

My book review also appeared in the latest issue of Northside San Francisco.
The Last of Kurt Wallander
The Troubled Man, by Henning Mankell
By John Zipperer 
For a country that is rich and at peace, Sweden sure does have a bad case of Scandinavian gloom. When Britain produces world-famous popular literature, it is from people like J.K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett who write about worlds of fantasy, wonder and hope. But nearby Sweden’s contribution to the global best-seller market is the edgy mystery thriller, with isolated heroes and heroines solving brutal crimes against the backdrop of social and political decay.
Read the entire article

Northside San Francisco: Oh, Give Me a Home

My latest column from Northside San Francisco magazine:
Oh, Give Me a Home
By John Zipperer 
In the midst of a tough fight for the GOP nomination, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney recently decided to tear down and replace his 3,009-square-foot beachside home in La Jolla, Calif., with an 11,062-square-foot property. It might be less of an attempt to tell the American people “I’m one of you” and more to let them know “I might hire you to paint my garage.” This led Vanity Fair to run a list of things that would fit inside Romney’s new house, including “the Diane Von Furstenburg flagship store in New York’s meatpacking district” or “the world’s largest whale.”
Read the entire article
Bank of America Home Loans president Barbara Desoer says the recovery is slow but real. Photo by Ed Ritger.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Question for Obi Wan

So, wait: There were only a million people on the entire planet of Alderaan, or only a million of them bothered to cry out?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pro Bowl Packer (and Former Neighbor) Gale Gillingham, RIP

I was sorry to see the news today of the passing of former Green Bay Packers player Gale Gillingham. It's a name that many of you – even recent Packers fans – might not remember, but I've always known it; during the NFL season back in the early 1970s, his family lived in the same apartment complex as we did on Green Bay's west side. We played with his kids, and I remember that his family was very nice. My condolences to the Gillinghams.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In the Spirit

Here's a photo of the Halloween season checkout counter at Fog City News in downtown San Francisco. Okay, the copy of Cricket doesn't help anything, but Fangoria sets the tone.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bad Lip Reading's Latest

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann as you've never seen her before, or perhaps like you've always seen her:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs, RIP

The Apple website homepage says it all:
Farewell to a business and technology genius.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

They'll Be Burning This Issue of Monocle All Across Silicon Valley

What?!? Old media isn't a waste of time? It can still be profitable? The all-new-media-all-the-time crowd is going to fall off their skateboards when they see this issue of Monocle – assuming they see this issue of Monocle. The cover story announces "Newspapers booming, book sales up, record shops opening: Monocle charts the media trend that's e-free, profitable, and going global," and "confirmation that old-school media models are fit and healthy, and how the American media stuffed itself."

Well, the American media stuffed itself by listening to a bunch of trend-following lemmings who didn't take the time to figure out why people actually read magazines, consume long-form journalism, pay for content, expect quality.

It is appropriate that this story is appearing in Monocle, a magazine (and company) that truly thinks differently and has been successful by stressing quality and content.

Friday, September 23, 2011

And You Thought I Was Dreaming: Is the Magazine's Savior Already on the Market?

My sister, who works in the book business, let me know about the above video. The video's intended for publishing industry people who might buy the machine, but I post it here because it represents an exciting advance in print-on-demand and on-the-spot retailing. It is being pitched as a way for book publishers to keep their backlist available to customers without having to risk printing and distributing thousands of copies.

Readers of this blog know that my focus is more on the magazine business, and I think this could be similarly helpful for publishers of current magazines.

As I wrote a few years ago, I don't think the magazine business model has collapsed; it's the magazine distribution market that's collapsed. Retailers are carrying many fewer titles, fewer distributors even exist, and newsstand publishers still have to print untold copies of each issue that will never be sold but will instead end up in the shredders after they sit unsold on a magazine rack for a week or month. The cost of those over-print quantities is of course added to what customers pay for the copies they do buy. Therefore, I predicted that the salvation of the hard-copy print magazine will come from continued advances in personal printer technology, so that one day you can download and print out a fully bound, high quality magazine that's identical to one you would have picked up at the possibly non-existent newsstand or retailer. And those still-existing retailers could have such printers in their stores, where they print and sell copies as they need them.

If the magazine that this Espresso Book Machine can produce can be sold at a reasonable price, it could not only help all of us domestic publishers, but it could spawn hundreds of new publishers, and it could make it possible for a small magazine retailer to sell far more magazine titles than they can normally stock on their shelves; they could sell publications from all around the world, current copies and back issues.

There's probably still more development to go before this could be utilized for magazines (after all, photo-heavy magazines would require different paper, inks, and resolution than an all-text book interior), but magazine publishers and editors and advertisers and designers and writers and readers should start clamoring for it now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Time to Blame Helmut Kohl for Europe's Problems?

The German parliament in Berlin.

Recently, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl took to task current Chancellor Angela Merkel for her handling of the European debt crisis. "She's destroying my Europe," Der Spiegel quotes him as complaining.

 Kohl later disowned some of the comments he'd made and clarified, "It is true that I -- like many people -- am worried about the development in Europe and of the euro. I also see it as urgently necessary that the supposed euro crisis isn't regarded and discussed as a structural crisis of the euro per se, but as what it is: The result of homemade mistakes and challenges for both sides -- Europe and the national states."

The British press in particular likes to display great impatience with the way the fiscally responsible states (led by Germany, but also including smaller northern European nations) have dealt with the – there's no kind way to put it – disastrously fiscally irresponsible states. (One of the more intelligent articles of this type ran in the Financial Times.) The answer seems to be that the responsible states should just take on the burdens created by the irresponsible ones, without forcing the bad apples to rectify the structural problems that led to this disaster in the first place. I think Merkel has been slow and, yes, unimaginative, but she has also been largely correct: She has staked her reputation and political future on saving the eurozone, but she is also dedicated to forcing Greece, Italy, and others to learn to live like adult countries and not like teenagers who've just scored their parents' credit card for the weekend.

But we are still left with the ungenerous conclusion that Kohl himself should shoulder much of the blame. He, with France's then-President Francois Mitterand, cooked up the euro scheme as a way of mollifying European nations (France among them) that were worried about German reunification. It wasn't all a matter of that, because the European Union had been growing and solidifying for years, extending a zone of prosperity and law across a continent that had been destroyed countless times by conflict. So a common currency was a likely development at some point. But it's early introduction was intended to tie Germany closely enough to its neighbors that it theoretically would not go off marauding through the neighborhood again.

As such, it wasn't a bad idea. An unnecessary one, perhaps; there is absolutely zero appetite in Germany for fighting wars. But still, an understandable idea nonetheless.

What is not understandable is how Mitterand and Kohl, two veteran politicians who supposedly learned from the mistakes of the past, could concoct a system that is structurally illogical. Economic union without some sort of political union to enforce it is a recipe for disaster. This disaster, in fact. It could lead to large countries forcing their policies down the throats of smaller countries, which is what Merkel is being accused of doing by trying to get the poor performers to reform their economies and politics to make themselves competitive; or it could lead to poor countries overspending and expecting the rich countries to bail them out, which is the situation that has happened and that Merkel is trying to rectify.

Merkel is trying to clean up the mess that Kohl created.

If the euro was the first price Kohl and Germany paid to get reunification, then Greece, Ireland, and Italy have just presented the official invoice.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tim Burton’s Nightmare: The Starlog Project, Starlog #197, December 1993

According to Wikipedia, director Tim Burton’s mother ran a “cat-themed gift shop.” We can all resist the temptation to declare that the feline connection explains Burton’s weirdness; for that matter, I write many of these Starlog Project reports with my cat Charlie camped out next to my computer. So you will have to look elsewhere to explain Burton’s unique style and outlook.

And whether you like his work or not, I think it is difficult to argue that he didn't make a number of standout films in his career, starting with Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, his breakout Beetlejuice, his Batman reboot, and many others. When one heard that Burton was preparing another film, one almost started playing guessing games: What would be the angle? What would be weird about it (I mean, it’s Batman, right? Cape, tights, crazy villains – how could you possibly do that differently than past productions? Oh...)? Again, whether or not you liked his final film, it did have his vision stamped on it, and he managed to break out of a lot of the writing and styling straightjackets of so much big-budgeted Hollywood output of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Well, he did it again with The Nightmare Before Christmas, which Starlog gives the cover feature treatment this issue. Actually, Burton created and produced this film, which was directed by Henry Selick. This stop-motion holiday film not only revived a dormant puppetry art form but twisted the usual holiday expectations around and around until you didn’t know what to expect and you just reveled in being shown something new and innovative.

Oh, and we should note that the mayor’s car in Nightmare has a cat-shaped ornament that wails when its tale is pulled. Or so says Wikipedia.

Starlog #197
92 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

This issue, Starlog announces its newest spinoff publication, the odd-duck Starlog Platinum Edition. It was a neat basic idea: Devote each entire issue to one topic; the first issue is devoted to writers, including a tales-from-the-front article by Starlog’s new assistant editor, Marc Bernadin (who would eventually become the magazine’s managing editor, and is today a comics writer). Anyway, the Platinum concept either wasn’t a success or the editors grew bored with it; after all, the first issue is devoted to writers, the second to actors, and third to “makers of science fiction,” and there aren’t that many more single-issue topics you can use when your topics are that broad. So the single-topic idea was soon dropped, and with issue #6, Starlog Platinum Edition was relaunched and renamed Starlog Science Fiction Explorer. This new incarnation was nicely done, in my opinion, with some very nice designs and interesting articles. But as editor David McDonnell wrote a decade later, Explorer was really just “more Starlog” and wasn’t different enough from its mother magazine to make it on its own. It died with issue #11.

But enough of Platinums and Explorers. What about Starlog #197?

The rundown: On the cover is Jack Skellington as the Santa who’d really frighten the kids at the mall; a different fantasy image – a painting by Michael Whelan – is featured on the contents page. In his Medialog column, David McDonnell tells us that The Invaders is returning to the TV screen with a new series, allegedly as a Fox show. Michael McAvennie’s Gamelog column reviews Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Dragon Strike, and other games. The Communications section includes Mike Fisher’s Wolf Man Creature Profile, plus some interesting letters about sex roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation. David Hutchison’s Videolog column notes the release of a bunch of additional Next Generation cassettes, plus a nonfiction turn by Patrick Stewart as narrator of The Planets. And Booklog reviews A Night in the Lonesome October, Chanur’s Legacy, Berserker Kill, Crossover, Empire Builders, Empire of the Eagle, The Sharp End, The Dream Machines, Winds of Fury, White Queen, Healer, The Hammer and the Cross, and Sam Gunn, Unlimited.

Over the years, Creature from the Black Lagoon got a lot of love from Starlog, often in the form of interviews by Tom Weaver of its stars. This issue the mag goes back to the well once again, only this time writer Pat Jankiewicz steps up and provides an interview with Harry Essex, Creature’s screenwriter. Essex also talks about some of his other projects, including It Came From Outer Space and even I Dream of Jeannie. Marc Shapiro examines a less-exhalted piece of science-fiction cinema in an interview with actor Wesley Snipes, who talkes about his role in Demolition Man. Veteran fantasy artist Michael Whelan is profiled by managing editor Maureen McTigue. And actor Robert Burke chats with Kim Howard Johnson about Burke’s role as “This Year’s RoboCop.”

Dan Yakir writes the cover story, “‘Twas the Night Before Halloween,” about the Nightmare Before Christmas. Director Henry Selick notes that “I’m personally very influenced by both Dr. Seuss and a lot of Eastern European animation. When I was a kid, I used to see the films of German animator Lotte Reininger, who actually did the world’s first animated feature, The Adventures of Prince Ahmed: It was all black cutout figures, silhouettes. This is the same kind of background Tim Burton came from.” That, and cats.

Meanwhile, Joe Nazzaro talks to actor Peter Davison about his place in Doctor Who history. Bill Warren interviews teen actor Jonathan Brandis, who probably didn’t make Wil Wheaton happy when he said, “Wesley Crusher?! Oh, no, no, no, no. I rarely ever save the seaQuest.” Of course, he later notes that “I’m a big fan of Wil Wheaton’s stuff – he’s a good actor.” Peter Bloch-Hansen chats with actor Famke Janssen about her role in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Perfect Mate.” Marc Shapiro talks to actor Bruce Campbell about his move from films to his new Fox TV series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and notes, “I’m used to getting away with murder. It’s interesting now to be in a world where I have to abide by certain restrictions.”

The Fan Network pages include the usual SF clubs and publications directory, the convention calendar, and a gaggle of comics. Kerry O’Quinn’s From the Bridge column looks at efforts to find planets outside our solar system – something that would become much more common a decade and a half later. Pat Jankiewicz visits the set of Monolith. And editor David McDonnell uses his Liner Notes column to present one of his look-at-all-the-new-mags-we’re-selling-today previews. The amazing thing is that most of them were edited by McDonnell, who was simultaneously running Starlog, Starlog Platinum Edition/Explorer, Star Trek: The Next Generation licensed magazine, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine licensed magazine, and Comics Scene. And I’m probably leaving some off that list. It’s pretty impressive when you consider just how much of the magazine rack in the TV/movie section of the time were products of that overworked editor.
“Of course, everybody [pities the Creature.] I do many of my movies that way. In another movie I did, He Walked By Night, Dick Basehart is roaming the streets, gets stopped by a policeman, so he kills the cop. I made everybody love the cop killer by doing strange things. It was kind of a game, ‘I can make you love this man!’ ‘No, you can’t, he’s a killer!’ I made him a loner, he has an animal – a cat – and he’s stealing milk for this cat. Then, he does a surgical thing where he tries to take a bullet out of himself. He spends five minutes trying to dig out that bullet. The audience beings to feel that pain and wants him to get away!”–Harry Essex, screenwriter, interviewed by Pat Jankiewicz: “Bard of the Black Lagoon”
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site

Borussia Dortmund and Zeit Magazin: This Week's Cool Magazine Cover

In this week's look at random but well-done magazine covers, I present these three handsome gentlemen on the cover of Germany's Zeit Magazin.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Revenge of the Jedi Kittens

More light-saber cat fights, courtesy of FinalCutKing:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Complete Contents of Galaxis October 2011 Issue

Now that several hundred people have already sampled the second issue of Galaxis, my digital magazine devoted to "The Worlds of Science & Science Fiction," it's time to share the entire contents with you.
The Great Starship Challenge (help NASA and DARPA plan an interstellar spacecraft)
Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Episode Guide (to the reimagined series)
The Old German Future (a look at forgotten German science fiction)
Prometheus Unbound (a critical examination of the free-for-all attempts to publicize secrets about Ridley Scott's new film)
Bunky's Odd Friends (Lyle Lahey's 1970s comic strip rediscovered)
Perry Rhodan Starts Over (rebooting the German SF series)
Trips to the Moon (possibly the very first SF story ever written)
Saturn's Secrets (photo guide to the ringed planet) 
Viewscreen (when politics and SF meet)
Launch Tube (short news about Schwarzenegger and the next Terminator, remembering Martin H. Greenberg, Star Trek updates, and more)
Worldly Things (these are a few of our favorite things)
Webbed (websites of interest)
Compendium (event listings – exhibits, conventions, space launches, lectures, and much more)
Mail (reader reaction)
Reviewscreen (reviews of The Magician King, The Windup Girl, The Host, the summer's superhero onslaught, and more)
Plus, of course, a look at the next issue.
All of that is in one colorful 60-page magazine, which I've designed for people who love science fiction and science, and particularly for people looking for something a little different, a little deeper, than they get from other magazines in the field. Won't you join us?

Remember, you can read or download a free digital copy of Galaxis from here, or you can purchase a print-on-demand copy here.

The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Copyediting

 As often is the case when I write a post about magazine covers, this is apropos of nothing particularly significant.

This morning I found online the above cover of a 1992 issue of Omni magazine. I immediately figured I should order a copy, because it features an article on Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of the great TV shows of all time. Except ... Omni mistitles MST3K on the cover text: "Laughing at the Future with Mystery Science 3000."

It would not be the last time that MST3K was incorrectly identified on a genre magazine cover. Four years later, Starlog would announce the MST3K motion picture by shouting on its cover, "Joel, Tom Servo & Crow make a movie!" Which would have been great, except that creator and host Joel Hodgson had left the show some time earlier and it was his successor, Michael J. Nelson, who made a movie with the help of his robot friends.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chinese "UFO" Videos

So either China has been recognized even by aliens as the new alpha nation worth visiting, or digital videography has achieved widespread popularity in Guangzhou

We'll probably learn soon enough that this was all just a publicity stunt for an upcoming Chinese science fiction movie.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Interview with Immigration Attorney Lavi Soloway

Lavi Soloway (photo by Klaus Enrique Photography)
There have been some momentous developments in the nation's immigration laws lately. After journalist Jose Antonio Vargas spoke at The Commonwealth Club (where I work) about his life as an undocumented immigrant, I talked with well-known immigration attorney Lavi Soloway about what it all means and where it might be heading.

Read it on The Commonwealth Club of California's blog

I think I'm going to have to buy this issue.

10 Years Later, Still Fresh

As we head into the 10th anniversary weekend of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, I offer up some memories that I've posted here before:
Remembering 9/11 in New York City 
I can only imagine what this time of the year is like for the people who lost loved ones in those plane hijackings and the destruction of the office towers and part of the Pentagon. My connection to it is merely one of my memory starting with walking to work in Manhattan. The offices for Internet World magazine were located just a couple blocks north of Union Square, which means that if one went to a north-south street, one could count on seeing the twin towers. Read the entire post

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Galaxis #2 Now Available on MagCloud Print-on-Demand

Galaxis: Galaxis
New! Complete episode guide to the new Battlestar Galactica series, plus a look at the lost worlds of German science fiction, a Cassini visit to Saturn, Perry Rhodan starts over, Bunky comics, SF from the Roman empire, reviews of The Magician King, and so much more!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Galaxis Issue Two – Now Available

The free digital edition is available at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Looking at Wookies: This Week in Cool Magazine Covers

Apropos of nothing whatsoever, I serve up for you today two covers that feature the same cool photo of Chewbacca from The Empire Strikes Back.

The Fantastic Films cover on the left is the September 1980 issue, one of approximately 4 zillion Empire-themed covers that FF published. (Hey, you go with what sells newsstand copies; no argument there.) The cover on the right was actually not an external cover; it was inside the July 1980 issue of competitor Starlog, serving as the intro page to its special anniversary section.

Though I take second place to no one when it comes to over-the-top Starlog appreciation, I have to give first-place honors here to the Fantastic Films cover. It's colors are better, and even the piling on of endless cover text works in the manner they did it. Either way, we need more Wookies on magazing covers.

Click on the image to biggie-size it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

T-Mobile Still on the Block for a Purchaser?

So if AT&T can't take over T-Mobile, who benefits (other than Sprint's lobbyists, who probably earned themselves big bonus checks)?

As a T-Mobile customer who dreaded having to put up with AT&T's infamously bad customer service but who very much looked forward to getting an iPhone with the new combo company, I'm obviously split.

T-Mobile has justly famous customer service; I still rave to people about the polite, helpful, friendly customer service reps I dealt with a year and a half ago when I switched my phones with the service. Customer service is something of a telltale sign of corporate intelligence, to me; companies – especially large public companies – tend to treat the front-line customer service staff as expendable, and they pay them poorly. That has always struck me as ridiculous and self-defeating; I likely will never talk to or correspond with the CEO of T-Mobile or Comcast, so their exorbitant salaries improve my service not one bit. But I will talk to and correspond with their customer service reps from time to time, and those are the interactions that determine whether or not I stay with the company and continue to help pump in enough money to overpay the C-suite employees.

And despite whatever the corporate honchos would surely tell us during and after the merger (probably crap like, "We will never cut customer service quality" or "Customer service and excellent customer care are always our top priority" or "We'd rather shoot our grandmother into the sun on a rocket than hurt customer service,"), customer service is exactly one of the places they'd look to get rid of "redundancies" and "excess spending."

iPhone should come to T-Mobile eventually anyway (hopefully before my latest HTC smartphone dies), so if all other things remain normal, I will be a happy customer. But it seems that Deutsche Telekom AG has been looking to unload T-Mobile for some time, so it's probably going to be sold to somebody at some point. And I don't want an iPhone with terrible customer service or coverage. If I wanted that, I'd have switched to AT&T a long time ago.

Watch and wait.

ST:TMP, TESB, Black Hole – Yes, 1980 Was a Magical Time

This was a special issue of Germany's Cinema magazine from 1980. If focused on the big science fiction films of the time, including the current Empire Strikes Back and the very recent Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Black Hole.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Germany's Philipp Lahm and the Gay Soccer Player Question

Germany's national team captain Philipp Lahm is getting a lot of flack these days for his new book, which includes criticism of teammates and competitors. He's backed off on some of that, reportedly, but today the hullaballoo is all about Lahm's comments that gay football players should stay in the closet and not publicly disclose their sexuality, lest they become the target of intense public scorn.

It's accepted as scriptural truth by many on the Left that every gay public figure should be public about their sexuality, because the more people see that gays and lesbians are all around the world, the more quickly prejudice will fall. I frankly tend to agree with that, and in fact I think that's what is causing the steady erosion in anti-gay prejudice here in the United States – more and more people are simply seeing that their neighbor, daughter, police officer, etc., is gay and they're realizing that it doesn't really matter, certainly not in a negative way. But I am also sympathetic to people in the public eye who fear that it would ruin their careers. You know what, it would for many of them. For every Neil Patrick Harris, there's one or more Rupert Everetts, whose advice is strikingly similar to Philipp Lahm's.

Gay-baiting in professional sports is pretty deep-rooted. Even in relatively tolerant Germany, it still makes headlines when the gay issue is brought up. The agent of Michael Ballack, the previous team captain, ridiculously accused the team's failure to win the World Cup on the presence of, in effect, a gay mafia on the team. The public reaction (at least reported in the German media that I was following) is indicative of a good trent; it seemed to treat Ballack's agent as the ridiculous figure he is and was generally supportive of the idea of gay footballers. After all, Germany has an openly gay foreign minister (Guido Westerwelle) in its conservative-liberal coalition government.

But Westerwelle's been known to be gay for some time, and his career isn't in danger, unless he doesn't improve Germany's shaky foreign policy performance. There are a number of popular gay politicians in Germany, including Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit. A young person trying to ensure that they have a career is facing a different constituency, if you will; football fans are fans of the players in a much more personal way than voters are fans of the politicians. And thus Lahm felt it necessary to let his readers know that he himself is not one of the gay players on the national team: "First, I am not a homosexual. I am not married to my wife Claudia for appearances and I do not have a friend in Cologne with whom I really live," Lahm wrote in his book, A Subtle Difference, according to The Local.

I wouldn't be too hard on Lahm, whether he's straight or gay. He's not a raving anti-homosexual. Those people are on U.S. sports teams and running for the U.S. president, they're not popular German football players. Furthermore, Lahm's is not the only voice on this issue; his teammate Mario Gomez has given gay players the opposite advice: Come out, it'll be fine.

More and more, Gomez will be proven correct and Lahm incorrect, but that's just because the public is increasingly tolerant of homosexuality and uninterested in making it a heated topic. So I do hope that gay German soccer players will publicly disclose their sexuality, but I definitely respect the decision of any who decline to do so. Assuming they're not crusading against gay rights while they're in the closet, of course.

Microbes Turn Newspaper into Biofuels

So – HAH! – the print media does have a business model, after all.

It's just, um, not what they expected it to be.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy 262nd Birthday, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Today is the birthday of the German writer Johann von Goethe. He is 262 years old today, or he would be if he hadn't died in 1832.

Remembered most for his work Faust (which has been staged, filmed, and otherwise adapted countless times), Goethe produced a number of works in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and was, frankly, a giant of Weimar classicism.

Anyway, this blog frequently concerns itself with broad matters Weimar, so it is appropriate that we send very posthumous birthday greetings to the great von Goethe.

Friday, August 26, 2011

France 24 News Site at a Loss for Words

And you can count how many words they are at a loss for, in the text crawl box that has no headline other than the instructions to the headline writer. Oops.

la tragédie!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

As We Approach Second Issue of Galaxis, A Look Back at Issue One!

I've finished writing the last articles for the second issue of Galaxis: The Magazine of Science & Science Fiction. I figure it'll be ready to be digitally "published" and available on schedule, in about two and a half weeks of final production and editing.

So, in the meantime, if you haven't already seen the previous issue of the magazine, here's your chance. You can click on the image below and see the magazine full-screen on your computer. You can also save a copy to your computer or device, and you can print out any or all pages. It's all free.

The first issue features an exclusive interview with physicist Michio Kaku, shorter Q&As with Michael Medved, Mary Doria Russell, and others; plus SF reviews, industry news, an overview of David Gerrold's Star Hunt novels including comments by the author, NASA photos, a look back at the heyday of science fiction movie magazines, and much more. So take a look, send a letter to the editor, and get prepared for the second (and even bigger and better) issue in early September!

UPDATE: Issue #2 of Galaxis is here.