SMOFCon in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has won the right to host SMOFCon in 2011 The Amsterdam bid, led by Vincent Docherty, had competition from a bid for Maui, led by James Stanley Daugherty. Votes were note actually counted as a separation of ballots into piles indicated that Amsterdam had a majority. SMOFCon 29 will be held at the Park Plaza Victoria Hotel from 2-4 December 2011.

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Spaceship Comes Home

NASA’s X-37B, an unmanned spacecraft launched via rocket in April, landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base after a seven month long mission that NASA says was used as a test for the spacecraft itself. According to officials, the flight was to test guidance, navigation, control, thermal protection, and autonomous operation in orbit, re-entry, and landing. NASA plans to launch the craft again some time in 2011

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Avatar at SFM

A collection of memorabilia from the film Avatar is scheduled to go on display at Seattle’s Science Fiction Museum from June 4 through September 3, 2012, at which time it will tour other cities. The exhibit will include props and costumes used in making the film.

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Bears Battle Gutenberg Over Anderson

Greg and Astrid Bear and Karen Anderson have accused Project Gutenberg of posting stories written by Poul Anderson in violation of copyright. Project Gutenberg claims the stories, originally published in the 1940s and 1950s, are in public domain. The Bears and Anderson state that the copyrights are current and belong to their family. Karen Anderson is Poul Anderson’s widow, Astrid and Greg Bear are Anderson’s daughter and son-in-law.

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“Alien” Life on Earth

NASA has discovered a microorganism in California’s Mono Lake which has replaced phosphorus with arsenic in its cell components. This is the first organism ever discovered to use arsenic in this manner, which expands the possibility for the search for life, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial. Until this discovery, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur were considered the six basic building blocks of all known forms of life on Earth.

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Ecce Frankenstein

The original hand-written manuscript to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, considered by some to be the first science fiction novel, will be on display at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford as part of the display Shelley’s Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family, scheduled to run from December 3 through March 27. This is the first time the manuscript has been displayed publicly. After the exhibit closes in Oxford, it will move to the New York Public Library.

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Obituary: John D’Agostino

Comic artist John D’Agostino, Sr. (b.1929) died on November 28. D’Agostino immigrated to the US and took a job as a colorist with Timely Comics, the fore-runner to Marvel, where he was the letterer for the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man #1 using his pseudonym “Johnny D.” From 1965, he has worked on Archie comics.

Penultimate Shuttle Launch Delayed

The second-to-last scheduled space shuttle launch has been delayed again. Originally scheduled for November 5, NASA now says the last flight of Discovery will occur no earlier than February 3. The Discovery launch has been plagued with fuel tank issues and cracks appearing in the stringers. The delay in Discovery‘s mission also pushes back the date of the final launch of the program, for Endeavour to April 1.

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SFWA Appoints Ombudsman

John Scalzi, the President of SFWA, has announced the appointment of Cynthia Felice as the organization’s ombudsman. The ombudsman serves as the members’ advocate to the board of directors, on any issue of concern to the organization or its individual members. The position was created in 2008 by Russell Davis and was previously filled by Lee Martindale.