August 24, 2012

Meet you in New Beijing?

SF&F Literati Meet August 27, 2012
Enter a future where a cyborg mechanic
may save the world.
WhereThe Oak Park Barnes & Noble Booksellers (see embedded map below!)
When: 7:00 p.m. Monday August 27, second floor
What: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

B&N Overview:
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

“Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.”

Publishers Weekly Review
"First in the Lunar Chronicles series, this futuristic twist on Cinderella retains just enough of the original that readers will enjoy spotting the subtle similarities. But debut author Meyer’s brilliance is in sending the story into an entirely new, utterly thrilling dimension. 

"Cinder is a talented teenage mechanic and cyborg—part human, part robot—who has been living in New Beijing with a demanding adoptive mother and two stepsisters, ever since her late stepfather took Cinder in after a hovercraft accident. Several events abruptly turn Cinder’s world upside down: a chance meeting with the handsome Prince Kai has her heart racing; a plague pandemic threatens her beloved sister Peony; Cinder learns she is immune to the plague; and the evil Lunar Queen Levana arrives on Earth, scheming to marry Kai. 

"Though foreshadowing early on makes it fairly clear where the story is headed, it unfolds with the magic of a fairy tale and the breakneck excitement of dystopian fiction. Meyer’s far-future Earth is richly imagined, full of prejudice and intrigue, characters easy to get invested in, and hints of what might await in future books. Ages 12–up."

Prepare now for next month!
Sakurazaka's breakout first novel is the
September selection.
WhereThe Oak Park Barnes & Noble Booksellers (see embedded map below!)
When: 7:00 p.m. Monday September 24, second floor
What: All You Need is Kill, by by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and illustrated by anime and manga graphic artist Yoshitoshi ABe [sic].

B&N Overview:
L to R (Western Style). There’s one thing worse than dying. It’s coming back to do it again and again… When the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many raw recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to find himself reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On the 158th iteration though, he sees something different, something out of place: the female soldier known as the Bitch of War. Is the Bitch the key to Keiji’s escape, or to his final death?”


August 19, 2012

Votes and Thank-Yous: Developments at the August meeting

New Developments:
At the August 18 meeting, members received several important pieces of news.

The Board is in the process of finalizing a bid from a new ConQuesT hotel. Free parking, Free wi-fi for hotel guests, extended food service hours, lower space costs for the convention, and room rates below $100 per night for attendees are some of the potential benefits of the move now under discussion. Stand by for updates!

The addition of several new members, including our ConQuesT Chair Victoria L'Ecuyer, makes it necessary to once again update the Directory. Stand by for a notice of when it is uploaded to the KAXFEN Yahoo Group.

KaCSFFS members will receive birthday cards, thanks to a
new effort by Sherri Dean.
Secretary Sherri Dean has undertaken a new project to send birthday cards to KaCSFFS members who have shared their birthdates with the club (any who have not will receive their cards at the first of the year!). This complements and extends the effort already being made by KaCSFFS President Diana Bailey, to send get-well or sympathy cards to members and friends of KaCSFFS, when they are needed.

Continuing a program of recognizing outstanding volunteer contributors to KaCSFFS that was started at the 40th Anniversary last year, KaCSFFS presented an Award of Recognition to Tyrell Gephardt at the August meeting, "for outstanding contributions to Fhandom." It was presented by Treasurer Cindy Norton, who spoke of Ty's leadership of the podcasting group, his regular contributions to the KaCSFFS Blog, his frequent willingness to help with electronics and heavy-lifting, and his outstanding efforts that very night to help set up and tear down the August Art Night exhibition, and also to make a special run to pick up pizzas for the Pizza Feast at the meeting. 

Other appreciation recognitions were offered to Cindy Norton herself, for arranging for the pizzas, making an emergency run to the storage unit for electrical connections so viewers could see lighted art display panels at the August Art Night display, and a visit on very short notice with Victoria L'Ecuyer and Susan Satterfield to view and discuss negotiations with the potential new convention hotel, on the morning before the meeting.

We also would like to add a special thank-you to Corey Barber for his unflagging help with cleaning up after the meeting, and a special appreciation of Diana Bailey for coming to the Board Meeting, despite being in the midst of a medical problem. Our thoughts are with you, Diana!

Finally, appreciations are due to the artists who brought their work to the Second Annual August Art Night exhibition: Tracy Majkol, Lucy A. Synk, Jan Gephardt, Rachael Mayo, and a brand-new artist to KaCSFFS and fandom, Christopher Frye.

Preliminary Round of KaCSFFS and ConQuesT Logo Voting:
Our Logo Contest brought in submissions from several artists, and August 18 was the first chance the members had to look at them and comment. The commentary period is still open, so if you were not able to be at the meeting and have opinions, please let us know! Here are the results of the preliminary round of voting and commenting:

This is KaCSFFS Logo Proposal #1.
New KaCSFFS Logo Proposal #1:
4 voters liked it. One wrote, "Like this very much, but enhance the image with stars or some skiffy elements." Another wrote, "Like--City of Fountains, Art Deco, pointy bits all good. Is it too close to other KC designs, though?"

3 voters disliked it. Two wrote, "No-no-no!"

One voter wrote: "OK, [but] want to see suggestions made on others."

One voter wrote: "Not sure what change would work--like, but could like more."

This is KaCSFFS Logo Proposal #2.
New KaCSFFS Logo Proposal #2:

2 voters liked it.

One voter wrote, "OK." Another wrote, "MEH."

One wrote, "Nice design, [but] stars look a little crowded." (Note: the stars form the constellation Taurus, and are placed accurately, if rather close together).

Two more disliked it. One went to the point of "No-no-no!"

Legacy Logos:
Two more logos were presented, which actually have been used in the past. It is possible one of them might be retained for use, if members like it better than the new offerings.

Several members quickly pointed out that at least two additional "Legacy" Logos had been omitted. Members will have a chance to comment/vote on those at the September meeting.

Legacy Logo #1 had surprisingly strong support.
Legacy Logo #1:
Our 1970s logo appears to have considerable "staying" power.

5 voters liked it, though one added, "But . . . I vote for [the] Brad Foster logo [not offered for consideration in August]." Please note: this logo will be in the September voting. Another wrote, "Nice, clean design, [but] no obvious tie-in. I do know this design has lots of symbolism built in, but [I] don't recall what. The design is good."

One voter was kind of lukewarm, writing, "OK."

2 voters disliked it. One wrote, "No--too obscure. Time for something new." The other simply wrote, "No-no-no."

This is Legacy Logo #2.
Legacy Logo #2:
This logo was used in the 1980s and early '90s.

3 voters liked it.

2 voters were positive, but had comments. "I like this and would like to see it used somehow, but I think there are too many tiny details to work as a logo," one wrote. The other said, "Good design for a T-shirt, but not for a logo. Too complex. Can't be reproduced legibly in [small] sizes.

Others wrote: "OK, [but] large. Too busy, [and?] small." Another wrote, " Way, way too busy. Will not reduce well."

And 2 disliked it. One wrote, "No-no-no!"

ConQuesT Logos:
We also had three submissions for a ConQuesT logo, and some strong opinions were registered about them.

This is ConQuesT #1.
ConQuesT #1
This was a very popular logo. It got 10 "like" votes. One added, "Like-like-like: beautiful graphic and multiple KC icons. Should reduce very well." Another said, "LOVE this--best logo in show."

One voter wrote, "I like the rocket and the lettering--take out the tower/theater for a blank space."

Another suggested, "Remove the rocket. Put a dirigible moored to a sky station."

This is ConQuesT #2.
ConQuesT #2
This logo earned 4 "like" votes. One voter wrote, "Like--my second choice" (after #1).

However, one voter wrote, "The stars are too small and cluttered." (We should note this is another use of the Taurus constellation)

Others disliked it. It received 3 "No-no-no!" votes, with two adding that the rocket "looks too phallic."

This is ConQuesT #3.
ConQuesT #3
This logo also got 10 "like" votes.

However, three voters found it wanting in one way or another. One wrote, "DEATH TO COWS--Mooove on!" Another wanted "something in the empty space," and another suggested, "move the cow more center." It should be noted that the design was conceived for the number of the particular ConQuesT (for example, "43" for the convention held this year, or "44" for the one in 2013) to be shown in white in the blank space.

If you have opinions about any of these logos, please plan to come to the second round of voting at the September meeting, or share your opinions in a comment on the blog or Facebook page, or in an email to the KAXFEN list.

IMAGE CREDITS: The photo of a pile of birthday cards is from the "Photos Public Domain" website.  The logo images all have been submitted as part of our Logo Contest, with permissions included. Many thanks to all!

August 11, 2012

Art and Pizza! What's not to love?

2nd Annual August Art Night, Logo Exhibition and first commentary, and Pizza Party Extravaganza

When: August 18th, 2012,  6:30-9:30 p.m.
Where: The Writer's Place (Map)
What: 2nd Annual August Art Night plus Pizza Party, plus choosing a LOGO!

This is a photo by Neelix, taken at the 2011 August Art Night.

Second Annual August Art Night 
We have reservations from Neelix, a totally new artist named Chris Frye, Nancy Nutt, Lucy A. Synk (with new prints!), and Jan Gephardt (hoping to be there with a new print!).

Art will be for sale at the show, but we cannot take credit cards on the artists' behalf. Most purchases will be by checks or cash only, so come prepared!

Logo Display 
We also will have our first chance to look at the logos that were submitted for the Logo Contest, and compare them with logos of the past. Each will have a "suggestion box" for you to submit suggestions or comments.

Pizza Feast
This is a "Papa Minsky's" pizza.
This meeting also features a Pizza Feast, via Business-Friend-of-KaCSFFS, 39th Street Minsky's--where your KaCSFFS membership card will get you a 10% discount! To see a PDF of a menu, check the Menus File on the KAXFEN Yahoo Group.

For those of you on the group email please find the menu in the files section and tell Cindy what you'd like. Thanks.

IMAGE CREDITS: "Neelix," A.K.A. Tracy Majkol, took the art show photo at last year's August Art Night; it is used here with his permission. We also should note that there will be a display of Neelix's photography in this year's show! The illustration of a "Papa Minsky's" pizza is from Jim Nichols' "Foodspotting" blog. The blog also includes images of food offerings from several other Kansas City-area restaurants.

August 07, 2012

August Laser Rangers 2012 Meeting

Doomsday, Knocking at Our Door

Date: August 11, 2012
Time: Around 4:45pm (fanish time)
Place: David Sooby’s home theater with 51-inch Samsung HDTV, a 5.1 Surround Sound Dolby Digital sound system, a full set of audiophile-grade speakers, and brand new seating for about 15 people without crowding.
Captain Laser: Bill O.Food Theme: Concession Stand/Drive-in
Dress theme: 1950's Garb

See more information at the Laser Rangers website!!  

A short feature will precede our first feature: 

The Magnetic Monster 

(1953, 76 minutes), starring Richard Carlson and King Donovan
IMDB Synopsis: Working for O.S.I., the Office of Scientific Investigation, A-Man agent Jeffrey Stewart and his partner Dan Forbes are sent to a local hardware store where they find a strong magnetic field has magnetized every metal item in the store. Investigating further, they eventually trace the source of the magnetism to an airborn [sic] flight carrying scientist Howard Denker, now dying of radiation poisoning, who has carted on board with him a new radioactive element which he has bombarded with alpha particles for 200 hours.
See the thrilling trailer on YouTube now! 


Following our potluck dinner (bring what you'd like to share) we'll be showing another short or two then our second, main feature.

The Satan Bug

(1965, 114 minutes) starring George Maharis, Richard Basehart, Anne Francis, and Ed Asner
IMDB Synopsis: A germ warfare lab has had an accident. The first theory is that one of the nasty germs has gotten free and killed several scientists. The big fear is that a more virulent strain, named The Satan Bug because all life can be killed off by it should it escape, may have been stolen.
What in amazement the trailer on YouTube now!

Reviews by Ken Keller of Kansas City.
The Magnetic Monster
First off, forget the title. If you go into director Curt Siodmak’s "The Magnetic Monster" looking for a monster movie, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. What we have instead is one of the most ernestly serious science fiction films of the 1950’s, and one of the very few that attempted to examine the newborn horrors of the Nuclear Age in a sober, non-sensational, but low budget manner. (Typical of producer Ivan Tors, who would use the same approach for his "Science Fiction Theater" syndicated TV series.)

The film opens with narrated exposition that science fiction film makers of the 1950’s loved so much: "One of the side-effects of this decade’s rapid expansion in the importance of cutting-edge science in all fields of human endeavor has been the emerging need for a federal investigative agency to deal with the unexpected consequences of these new sciences. Thus, the Office of Scientific Investigation was created to serve as a sort of scientific counterpart to the FBI." 

Dr. Jeffrey Stewart (Richard Carlson) is one of the OSI’s most talented investigative scientists. As the film opens, he and his partner, Dr. Dan Forbes (King Donovan), are sent out to look into a very strange occurrence: Every metallic object in a Los Angeles hardware store has been endowed with a very powerful magnetic charge. Stewart and Forbes determine that the source of the intense magnetic field is in one of the apartments above the store, and they go upstairs to investigate. When they do, they discover that a very odd magnetism emanates from the body of a dead man, killed apparently by some sort of unusual, unknown radiation. Stewart orders the store closed and the building evacuated, and then returns to OSI headquarters with the magnetized and radioactive body. From then on, their investigation grows only stranger, pushing the known boundaries of 1950's science, as they pursue something quite unexpected and extremely dangerous to all of humanity.

The Satan Bug
An Americanized adaptation of an early Alistair Maclean thriller, this 1965 film made quite an impression at the time. It was one of the first films to deal with the horrific threat of biological warfare, and it offered the underrated George Maharis as a U.S. agent who uses his mind as much (or more) as his muscles. Supported by a fine cast of solid actors, Maharis works his way through a tangled web of misdirection to discover who has stolen the ghastly Satan Bug -- and more to the point, why. The story is a little sluggish at times, but that still doesn't detract from the creepier portion of the story, which allows the viewer to contemplate the apocalyptic results of unleashing such a horrible weapon on the world of the 1960s, unprepared in every way for such a biological catastrophe.

It's a treat to see actors like Ed Asner & Frank Sutton before their huge TV sitcom successes -- Sutton is especially good as a leering thug. And of course there's the luminous presence of Anne Francis, whose rapport with Maharis was previously demonstrated in one of the classic episodes of the very popular TV series "Route 66" -- the actors genuinely liked each other, and it shows again in this film. It's just a shame her role is underwritten, and she never really gets a chance to show off what she could do with her character. But her mere prescience in the film makes it all the more worth watching.
This film has something of the quality of a made-for-TV 1960s movie--but a very good one! Modern audiences may find its pacing occasionally slow, as it's more of a police procedural than an all-out action film. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Mentally adjust for the difference in the evolution of film making styles during the last 40+ years, and you will find yourself engrossed before you know it.

"The Satan Bug" is an entertaining film that leaves the viewer with something troubling to think about afterwards: There's no reason to believe that work on biological weapons hasn't advanced even further, in secret, in the decades since this film first appeared--and that's a chilling thought, indeed!

The DVD-R transfer isn't very good--more like an average VHS-to-DVD transfer. A real DVD, remastered & complete with extras, would be great to have...but for the time being, this is what's available. The film itself is certainly worth seeing as the first example of the modern techno-thriller genre.

Thank you Ken for your write ups! 
The home of the Laser Rangers is located about two miles north of the Kansas Speedway, NW of the intersection of I-70 and I-435 on the Kansas side of the Greater Kansas City area. For the exact address and directions, e-mail David Sooby at the email address given here.

IMAGE CREDITS: The information and movie poster images for all of these shows come from the invaluable IMDB or the movie's  respected distrubutors. The movie screen frame image used for the Laser Rangers contact information is courtesy of Psychology Today Online. Many thanks to these websites!

August 03, 2012

Art and KaCSFFS!

Meet us at the World's Fairs!
Who: All interested KAXFEN and/or Laser Rangers
When: THIS Sunday, August 5, at 1 p.m.
Where:Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, MO 64111
Exhibit Title: "Decorative Arts at the Worlds Fairs, 1851-1939" (more information)
Admission: Museum admission is free; tickets to this exhibition are normally $8--for a $2 discount coupon, click here. Note: there is a $5 fee to park in the parking garage, but there also is offsite parking nearby.

Several of our members have already seen this show, and praised it as outstanding and enjoyable. Here's a chance to go (or go again!) with friends!

This is a photo by Neelix, taken at the 2011 August Art Night.
We go to see art--and 
Art Also Comes to Us: Second Annual August Art Night 
Several artists--including some who are new to the event--already have reserved their spaces for the Second Annual August Art Night! Others who exhibited last year will be back, with new artwork!

Art will be for sale at the show, but we cannot take credit cards on the artists' behalf. Most purchases will be by checks or cash only, so come prepared!

When: at the monthly KaCSFFS meeting, August 18, 6:30-9:30
Where: our usual venue, The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, MO 64111.

This is a "Papa Minsky's" pizza.
Note: this meeting also features a Pizza Feast, via Business-Friend-of-KaCSFFS, 39th Street Minsky's--where your KaCSFFS membership card will get you a 10% discount! To see a PDF of a menu, check the Menus File on the KAXFEN Yahoo Group.

IMAGE CREDITS: The World's Fairs poster is from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. "Neelix," A.K.A. Tracy Majkol, took the art show photo at last year's August Art Night; it is used here with his permission. We also should note that there will be a display of Neelix's photography in this year's show! The illustration of a "Papa Minsky's" pizza is from Jim Nichols' "Foodspotting" blog. The blog also includes images of food offerings from several other Kansas City-area restaurants.