Baen Books’ free 2021 short stories

Baen Books has released a collection of three short stories for free download for 2021.

The stories are

  • APPLESEED: A Founder Effect Legend by Robert E. Hampson
  • Latuda’s Lady in White by Aaron Michael Ritchey
  • Misfits by A.C. Haskins

Baen Books began the free story downloads back in 2011 and have shared a sample of free short stories each year since. The stories are a great opportunity to discover new authors.

There are 72 free downloads available on the Baen Books site, including previous years’ short story collections, novels and reading guides.

Have you read any of the books or stories on the Baen free books list? What did you think of them?

dear Moon project looking for crew to register for moon flight

The dearMoon project is a lunar tourism mission and art project conceived and financed by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. The first civilian mission to the Moon, planned to occur in 2023, will make use of a SpaceX Starship on a private spaceflight flying a single flying a single circumlunar trajectory around the Moon.

In other words, flying to the Moon and back.

Applications are open until March 14th for anyone to register for consideration to be a crew member. So, feel like going on a long flight?

Dining out – Flavours of India

The Canberra Science Fiction Club usually meets twice each month.  The first Thursday is a General Meeting and on the third Thursday members, friends, family or guests can gather together to talk and eat at a restaurant.  Each person pays for their own choice of meal.  Everyone is welcome.  You don’t have to belong to the club to join in.  The only requirement is that you notify the Secretary at least two days before attending the dinner.

The Secretary has pre-selected the restaurants for this year and the cuisines are varied – Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian, Malaysian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Nepalese, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese, just to name a few.  Most restaurants have a banquet as well as a normal menu.

February’s choice was Indian cuisine.  We gathered at Flavours of India at G90 Corrina St, Phillip  We had dined there many times and said we would be back.  And we were.  As usual we were looking forward to an excellent meal.  Yet again we were not disappointed.

They remembered us and had reserved a lovely table up near the door.  Their staff are wonderful and so friendly and helpful. 

As usual, while we waited for everyone to arrive, we were offered drinks.  The drink menu is very wide and varied – wines, beers, ciders, spirits, soft drinks, juices, lassi and a selection of hot drinks.  What more could we ask for?

This time we didn’t have the usual banquet.  Everyone ordered their favourite meal. So on with some of our selections.

  • Butter Chicken – Barbecued boneless chicken pieces.  A favourite!
  • Sweet Potato and Spinach Chaat  Sweet potatoes, spinach, wheat crisps, date and tamarind chutney. Mouth watering.
  • Samosa  Deep-fried crisp triangles of spiced peas and potatoes, Beautifully cooked and so tasty.  You have to try them to see just how good they are.
  • Golgappa (Down Memory Lane) .  Arguably the most famous Indian street snack where every mouthful is an explosion of flavours.  So very different and soooo tasty.
  • Onions and Corn Bhaji GF*  Sweet corn and onion fritters.
  • Kosha Mangsho (Goat)  Bengali favourite of tender goat.
  • Prawn Balchao  Portuguese-influenced Goan dish comprising of prawns and other tasty ingredients.
  • Chettinad (Southern Style) Lamb/Beef/Chicken/Prawns.  An aromatic treat from the Chettiyar Business community of Tamil Nadu.
  • Rice – A fragrant accompaniment to any meal.
  • Riata – Yoghurt and cucumber to compliment the spicy tastes.
  • Papadams. – Love those crispy wafer-like snacks.

And this is not the full list of their dishes.  Just look at their menu online, or better still, look in person.

Dessert for those who wanted it –

  • Gulab Jamun and Belgian Chocolate Mousse.  so sweet and chocolate laden
  • Mango Rasmalai  Homemade cheese patties.  Oh so yummy!
  • Almond Pista Kulfi  Homemade Indian ice-cream with almonds and pistachios and berry coulis.  Mouth watering.
  • Vanilla Ice-cream.  Choice of toppings: Mango/Strawberry/Caramel/Chocolate.  Who can resist it?

Then coffee or tea to round off the meal.

What a meal!  Our dinner did not include dessert, but after the feast I don’t think anyone had room for dessert. 

What can I say to add to everyone’s compliments?  It was just so good!  While I thought the chef was top-notch after our last visit, I am now convinced he is even better.  Perfection.

We all had a excellent time and very, very much enjoyed the food.  We will definitely be back there again.

~ S.H. ~

Exhibition – Australia in the space age

The National Archives of Australia exhibition “Out of this World: Australia in the Space Age” is continuing in Parkes until 14 March 2021.

The exhibition covers the impact of the dawn of the space age on culture and design from the 1950s to the 1970s in Australia.

The exhibition is free and open every day from 9.30am to 4,30pm with limited numbers admitted at any one time due to social distancing rules.

We’re back to the cinema for The New Mutants

With the cinemas in Canberra reopening, my husband and I decided to be adventurous and see The New Mutants at our local Hoyts.

The cinema experience was essentially the same as before the pandemic except for: the seating arrangements, with the tickets sold so people are seated apart across the cinema; the extra cleaning; and, the lack of cinemagoers.

We found ourselves in an unintended private screening as we were the only people in the cinema. And I may add it was the cleanest cinema I’ve been into in many years. I was surprised at how loud the sound felt, which shows how long it has been since I’ve been in an environment louder than a room with a television.

Onto the movie…

Set in the same Marvel comics movie universe as the X-Men, The New Mutants is a coming of age story about five teenagers who have extraordinary abilities as a result of genetic mutations.

The story follows Danielle Moonstar, a first nations girl who wakes up in a mysterious facility. Dani is told that everyone else on her reservation was killed by a tornado and the facility is her new home. What follows is a story of Dani and the four other teens in the facility learning about each other, the realities of their abilities, and the dangers in their current life.

The New Mutants is billed as horror action which is true but I feel it misrepresents the movie somewhat. While there are scary moments, they’re reminiscent of a very impressive scary episode of Doctor Who, The X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer rather than a full-on horror movie.

The story hangs together well, the script is good, the acting is strong and the special effects are well done.

Recommended for teens and adults – far too scary and adult for pre-teens.

His rating: 3.5 out of 5, what I expected and enjoyable.
Her rating: 4 out of 5, would happily watch it again.

Science Fiction documentary

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction is an exploration of movie, and to some extent written, science fiction. The history, themes and key protagonists of science fiction are examined across six 41 minute episodes.

The documentary includes discussions between James Cameron and other sf movie directors including George Lucas, Steven Spielburg, Christopher Nolan, and Ridley Scott. As well as other science fiction writers, creators and actors.

This documentary series provides an engaging overview of the topics with some analysis but not a lot of deep analysis – which is understandable given the length of the episodes.

The series is broadcast on SBS Viceland and streaming on SBS On Demand.

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, 8.30 pm Thursday on SBS Viceland.

Sometimes ‘superhuman’ means just getting up in the morning

Doom Patrol season 1

Doom Patrol reimagines some of DC’s most unique Super Heroes – Robotman, aka Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser); Negative Man, aka Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer); Elasti-woman, aka Rita Farr (April Bowlby); and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero) – led by the Chief, aka mad scientist Niles Clauder (Timothy Dalton). Each suffered a horrific tragedy that left them scarred and disfigured, but with superhuman abilities, so the traumatised misfits band together to support each other while they investigate bizarre phenomena. When the Chief disappears, Cyborg, aka Vic Stone (Joivan Wade), offers the reluctant heroes a mission that’s impossible to refuse. In 15 intriguing and powerfully funny episodes, these superpowered freaks battle Mr Nobody, aka Eric Morden (Alan Tudyk), in hopes of saving a world that, honestly, wants nothing to do with them. DVD blurb.

Doom Patrol is an off-beat dark comedy that is more about the journey rather than the destination. It is a refreshing show in the DC world which focuses on three-dimensional flawed, mature characters that are often overwhelmed by the ordinary world. The show reflects the quirkiness of its characters in non-standard storytelling with heavy layers of dark humour. Some aspects of the tv show reminded me of Dead Pool with it’s mix of violence and absurd humour.

The strength of Doom Patrol is the cast of highly talented actors who each make the most of each line and situation, and stories that examine body horror in ways that are both sad and at times funny. However, if you’re after a detailed adventure with a fulfilling conclusion then you will be disappointed.

Strongly recommended for those of us who enjoyed Dead Like Me, The Middle Man or Dead Pool.

Doom Patrol is available in Australia on DVD and on Foxtel.

Potter and trivia

Quizzic Alley, the Harry Potter store in Fyshwick, has been repaired after some (ponders to think of an appropriate term) dunderhead ram raided the store. The shop is now open on Wednesday afternoons, Friday and Saturday, and online.

As they can’t hold Quiz events and theme parties at the shop at the moment, Quizzic Alley are holding a Wizard’s Worldwide Pub Quiz via video on facebook from 7.30 pm each Wednesday. For everyone at home, the shop’s site includes a downloadable answer sheet.

Update on Canberra region conventions and fairs

The pandemic mitigations have impacted the Canberra region genre conventions:

  • Conflux 16 has been postponed a year to the weekend of 1 to 4 October 2021, with the theme and guests of honour etc remaining the same. According to the announcement on their website: some digital events are planned for October 2020; and full refunds will be offered to anyone who has bought tickets for the 2020 convention.
  •  Gamma con has been postponed from its 1 and 2 August 2020 dates to an unconfirmed date which their post indicated could be sometime in late 2020.

Across the border:

  •  The Streampunk Victoriana Fair at Goulburn Waterworks is still scheduled for 17 and 18 October 2020. As an open-air event it has more likelihood of going ahead than an indoor event.

If you have news of any other science fiction and fantasy related events please let us know.