Zack Parsons, author and Something Awful moderator, writes,
Sean Smith was one of the four men tragically killed in the consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11^th . He was a foreign services officer for the State Department. He leaves behind a wife and two young children. I knew him as “Vilerat” on the SA forums. He has been a moderator there since 2008 and he has posted there since 2002. He was also well-known in the EVE online gaming community.
I am trying to honor him and all of his contributions to our community and to the world by giving his family a helping hand with their expenses. I have started a fundraiser with the assistance of his friend on EVE and the SA forums, and the input of his wife, Heather, and I am trying to get the word out about it.
Alan Poindexter, 50, a U.S. Navy Captain who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1998 and made two space shuttle flights, died this weekend in a WaveRunner accident. Before his space career, "Dex" flew combat missions in Iraq, then became a test pilot. He logged more than 4,000 hours of flying time in more than 30 types of aircraft. Snip from Reuters:
Poindexter and his 22-year-old son Samuel were riding on one WaveRunner and his older son, 26-year-old Zachary, was on another, spokesman Stan Kirkland said. "They stopped and apparently Zachary did not see them stop," Kirkland said. "He struck the right rear or the right stern of their personal watercraft. His watercraft went up and apparently struck Captain Poindexter in the back. Both Captain Poindexter and Samuel were ejected."
Below, videos: Poindexter commenting on the end of the Space Shuttle program, in 2010, and on the food astronauts enjoy eating while in space. Also, a NASA TV video recorded during STS-131, and Poindexter "flying" a shuttle simulator.
The Telegraph's obit for Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld recounts the florid and exciting life of the aristocrat turned French resistance fighter turned UK special forces killer turned escape artist turned colonial enforcer in Indochina. In particular, La Rochefoucauld was a skilled escapologist, and ballsy as all hell about it:
Dropped into the Morvan with two British agents, including one radio operator, La Rochefoucauld teamed up with a Maquis group near Avallon led by a man who called himself The Pope. After destroying the electrical substation at Avallon, and blowing up railway tracks, La Rochefoucauld was awaiting exfiltration by the RAF when he was denounced and arrested. After a series of interrogations, he was condemned to death.
En route to his execution in Auxerre, La Rochefoucauld made a break, leaping from the back of the truck carrying him to his doom, and dodging the bullets fired by his two guards. Sprinting through the empty streets, he found himself in front of the Gestapo’s headquarters, where a chauffeur was pacing near a limousine bearing the swastika flag. Spotting the key in the ignition, La Rochefoucauld jumped in and roared off, following the Route Nationale past the prison he had left an hour earlier.
(Image: downsized, cropped thumbnail of a larger image on The Telegraph) Read the rest
Neil Gaiman's remembrance of Ray Bradbury is very sweet and paints a picture of one of the field's great mensches:
Last week, at dinner, a friend told me that when he was a boy of 11 or 12 he met Ray Bradbury. When Bradbury found out that he wanted to be a writer, he invited him to his office and spent half a day telling him the important stuff: if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Every day. Whether you feel like it or not. That you can't write one book and stop. That it's work, but the best kind of work. My friend grew up to be a writer, the kind who writes and supports himself through writing.
Ray Bradbury was the kind of person who would give half a day to a kid who wanted to be a writer when he grew up.
Ray Bradbury is dead. He was 91 years old. He wrote some of the most inspiring and beautiful stories I've ever read. He fought for libraries. He changed my life with a novel called Dandelion Wine, much of which I can still quote from memory. Every time I find myself wandering a city street alone at night -- every single time -- I think of his story Drink Entire. He did some stuff that disappointed me, but I never fell out of love with the art that he made. The world is much richer for the work he made, and much poorer for his passing.
From the AP obit:
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“The great thing about my life is that everything I’ve done is a result of what I was when I was 12 or 13,” he said in 1982.
Bradbury’s family moved to Los Angeles in 1934. He became a movie buff and a voracious reader. “I never went to college, so I went to the library,” he explained.
He tried to write at least 1,000 words a day, and sold his first story in 1941. He submitted work to pulp magazines until he was finally accepted by such upscale publications as The New Yorker. Bradbury’s first book, a short story collection called “Dark Carnival,” was published in 1947.
He was so poor during those years that he didn’t have an office or even a telephone. “When the phone rang in the gas station right across the alley from our house, I’d run to answer it,” he said.
Erik "Possum Man" Stewart was one of my oldest, dearest friends. He died last week, of a sudden and freak cerebral hemorrhage. It happened while he slept, and his housemates found him the next day, appearing peaceful and not distressed. The coroner believes that his death was instant.
Possum was the epitome of happy mutanthood. We were roommates off and on for more than a decade, and in that time, I was privileged to get a front-row seat for many of his delightful and odd experiments and outlooks. For one thing, he was obsessed with multidimensional space. From a very early age, he worked out a system for visualizing up to seven spatial dimensions. The system was very intuitive for him, less so for everyone else. He decided that the way to convey it would be through simple games that ramped up from 3D to 4D and onward. Back in the 1980s, he spent hours grinding away at his 386, writing an assembler and C program to run a 4D Pong. For a while, he worked at porting this to the Newton (I forget what it was about Newtons that made them seem appropriate for this project, but he had a reason -- he always had a reason). The project popped up, off and on, for many years.
Possum juggled. He made stereoscopes. After reading Understanding Comics, he became an avid creator of comics. He tried at one point to train his eyes to focus independently (because he wanted to be able to walk and read a book at the same time while paying attention to both), but gave it up when the optometrist ordered him to. Read the rest
Spider Robinson writes:
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I just received word that Jay Kay Klein, THE photographer of science fiction and fantasy, passed away on Sunday morning, May 13, in a Catholic hospice (a "Francis House") in Syracuse, NY, at age 80, of esophageal cancer.
This sad news came to me today by phone from Craig Peterson, a local plumber and a great-souled man, whom Jay Kay originally hired to fix a bathroom faucet in his longtime home in Bridgeport, NY....and who then, miraculously, took it upon himself to become Jay Kay's final friend, exactly what he needed, helping him with his constrained living situation (Jay Kay's late wife had been a serious hoarder), plowing his driveway, and (all gods be thanked) helping him get his immense and precious collection of over 65,000 negatives of virtually everyone in our field over a 40-year+ period safely to the University of California's Riverside Libraries Eaton Collection of SF & Fantasy. Jeanne would have called Craig a true bodhisattva.
Craig's been going through Jay Kay's address book all day, calling people like Fred Pohl, Bob Madle, and me. He tells me an exhibition and celebration of Jay Kay's photos will be mounted at Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention (Aug 30-Sep 3), by Melissa Conway, the Head Librarian at Riverside Libraries, who now has charge of the collection.
The incomparably rhythmic bass player Donald "Duck" Dunn, who was the soul of Booker T's rhythm section and the heart of the Blues Brothers' band, is dead. He died on tour with Steve "The Colonel" Cropper, also of the Blues Brothers, in Japan. He was 70.
His friend and fellow musician Steve Cropper, who was on the same tour, said Dunn had died in his sleep.
"Today I lost my best friend," Cropper wrote on his Facebook page. "The World has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live".
Miho Harasawa, a spokeswoman for Tokyo Blue Note, the last venue Dunn played, confirmed he died alone early Sunday. She had no further details.
DeviantArt's ~AgarthanGuide created this Maurice Sendak/Avengers mashup: "Two things on my mind today: RIP Maurice Sendak. Yay Avengers. Okay- I put together some wallpapers using the original- I tried to make them as big as possible and cover the major aspect ratios. You can download them here. Enjoy!"
Beloved children's author Maurice Sendak, creator of Where the Wild Things Are, is dead at 83. Here's some of what The Guardian's Michelle Pauli has to say about him.
The wild things of Max's imagination were based on Sendak's own relatives. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish Jewish immigrant parents and was aware, in his early teens, of the death of much of his extended family in the Holocaust. The terrors of his childhood specifically, and childhood more generally, flow through his work. "I refuse to lie to children," he said in an interview with the Guardian last year. "I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence."
Sendak also said that the term "children's illustrator" annoyed him, since it seems to belittle his talent. "I have to accept my role. I will never kill myself like Vincent Van Gogh. Nor will I paint beautiful water lilies like Monet. I can't do that. I'm in the idiot role of being a kiddie book person," he said.
"I refuse to lie to children," is probably the best kids'-author manifesto statement ever.
Jean Giraud, the comics artist who worked under the name Moebius, has died at the age of 73. Moebius defined the style of Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal, a surreal, madcap, sometimes grotesque science fictional visual style that is often imitated but which Moebius himself produced to high spec and in such great amounts. On Tor.com, art director Irene Gallo remembers him: "He was a particular favorite among his fellow artists. Many creatives and readers will mourn his passing." Neil Gaiman also has words on his passing:
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I couldn’t actually figure out what the Moebius stories were about, but I figured that was because my French wasn’t up to it. (I could get the gist of the Richard Corben Den story, and loved that too, and not just because of the nakedness, but the Moebius stories were obviously so much deeper.)
I read the magazine over and over and envied the French because they had everything I dreamed of in comics - beautifully drawn, visionary and literate comics, for adults. I just wished my French was better, so I could understand the stories (which I knew would be amazing).
I wanted to make comics like that when I grew up.
I finally read the Moebius stories in that Metal Hurlant when I was in my 20s, in translation, and discovered that they weren’t actually brilliant stories. More like stream-of-consciousness art meets Ionesco absurdism. The literary depth and brilliance of the stories had all been in my head. Didn’t matter.
Those who knew him testify that Michael Hart was an extraordinary individual – idiosyncratic, original, humane, determined and generous to a fault. He never made much money, repaired his own car, had scant faith in medicine and built most of his own electronic gear from stuff he picked up in garage sales. On Saturday mornings over breakfast in the local diner, he would work out the optimum route to cover the maximum number of garage sales that day; it was his version of the travelling salesman problem in mathematics.So farewell Michael Hart, the genius who freed up literature
In his obituary of Hart, his colleague Gregory Newby described him as an "unreasonable" man, in George Bernard Shaw's celebrated use of the term. "Reasonable people," wrote Shaw, "adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people."
(Image: Brewster Kahle) Read the rest
Michael S. Hart left a major mark on the world. The invention of eBooks was not simply a technological innovation or precursor to the modern information environment. A more correct understanding is that eBooks are an efficient and effective way of unlimited free distribution of literature. Access to eBooks can thus provide opportunity for increased literacy. Literacy, and the ideas contained in literature, creates opportunity.E-book pioneer Michael Hart dies
In July 2011, Michael wrote these words, which summarize his goals and his lasting legacy: “One thing about eBooks that most people haven't thought much is that eBooks are the very first thing that we're all able to have as much as we want other than air. Think about that for a moment and you realize we are in the right job." He had this advice for those seeking to make literature available to all people, especially children:
"Learning is its own reward. Nothing I can say is better than that."
Michael is remembered as a dear friend, who sacrificed personal luxury to fight for literacy, and for preservation of public domain rights and resources, towards the greater good.