Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Grab Bag of Thoughts from William Wood on Strategies, Goals, the Emerging Science of Morality, and Science Fiction

William Wood, In a comment to David Brin's post on Facebook, 10/23/10,  wrote a thoughtful essay on values. He completed the essay with words on the usefulness of science fiction in exploring alternatives.

First, the question tossed out by David Brin.
David Brin If communism was a principal threat to freedom a generation ago, can there be any doubt that the madness and danger is coming from a different direction today?
Lighting the political lamp (it may be on for a couple of weeks), let me begin with a disclaimer, for those of you who don't know me ... I despise all dogmatists, including those on the far-left. As a one-time keynoter for a Libertarian Party Convention, I have the bona fides of someone who has re...

Source:, [10/23/10]

Next the Essay in a Comment by William Wood

Here's a grab bag of not-entirely-related thoughts...

FIRST, David, I think you are absolutely right to point to measurables [sic] as a basis for evaluating the success of alternative strategies. This is hard won data that we should prize accordingly.

SECOND, I think that a large part of the problem is that parties in this discussion are at odds not only over methods but over goals. We can't even agree, for instance, whether addressing climate change IS a goal (i.e. if it is real and/or caused by humans having put trillions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere) let alone HOW we might address it.

One type of participant in the discussion will try to inventory worthy goals (based either on concrete issues such as climate change, defeating poverty, protecting the world from WMD proliferation, conquering cancer, etc., or on aspirations such as returning to the moon, placing humans on Mars, etc.), develop means to achieve them, then weigh priorities.

Another type of participate will enter the discussion not with projects such as these in mind, but with the goal to protect individual liberties. Projects such as the above, requiring collective, coordinated will (and expense), are most easily seen as a threat to one with individual liberties in the forefront of her values.

This second problem is caused by the immaturity of the emerging science of morality. For so long, people have thought of morality in either religious terms or intuitive terms. Conceived either way, morality is no more than a fiction, a contest of who can persuade better to get his way. It's clear, though, that if we swap out the term "morality" and instead speak of a "science of human well-being", there is content here that is real. As Derek Parfit says, "Disbelief in God, openly admitted by a majority, is a recent event, not yet completed. Because this event is so recent, Non-Religious Ethics is at a very early stage. We cannot yet predict whether, as in Mathematics, we will all reach agreement." (Reasons and Persons, p.454).

Looked at in terms of a science of well-being, it is clear that there is no such "thing" as a "right" to individual liberties (what could such a "thing" be? point to one, please!); acknowledging liberties, instead, is a strategy for achieving well-being -- one that works quite well in many contexts. We need to ask the deeper, harder questions, though. WHICH contexts, specifically? Where will it not work well? How may promoting the concept of individual liberty affect the aggregation of wealth, and what affects will that have on well-being? Etc.

Alas, many unknowns.

My own view is that promoting individual liberties (and their corollary: individual responsibilities and accountabilities) is probably a good default strategy for promoting well-being -- but the ecology of our interconnectedness is so complex, so little-understood, that we should be wide open to exceptions and in full support of more study.

Which brings me to my THIRD (and last!) point: SF as a genre is uniquely poised to be the literature of this experiment. It is the genre where positing possible futures is the norm! Some are posited as cautions, others as choices we may wish to pursue. We can rally 'til we're blue in the face, but what will really change the world is when lots of people can understand and embrace a choice for the future together. Stories do this far better than argumentation or argument! (Although, to Stewert's and Colbert's credit, humor does a damn fine job, too.) We need to be able to see, smell, LIVE the possible futures, in advance, to be able to choose them.

And sadly, I don't think sf is succeeding here. Not for lack of quality or insight, mind you! Gad, no! It's a much simpler reason: to connect to lots of people, literary sf has got to get off its high horse and get into film and television. Much. Much. More. What I would give, for instance, to have a series similar to Masterpiece Theater / Mystery! devoted to high-quality sf! How can we make this happen?!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Upcoming Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions that Have Come to my Attention

Most conventions are annual events. At many of the larger cons are rff members indulging their passion for fun, creative dress, and dialog with like-minded readers.

At these cons meet members of several organizations that share the goals and mission of Reading for the Future, including RFF. They meet amid the fun to arrange collaborative activities and projects.

These members are often panelists and workshop presenters at these conventions. These members include authors and artists of the very genre that spawns the cons.

These members show teachers and homeschoolers and parents and librarians how to motivate children to read the books, which books are judged the better ones for such lofty purposes, and how to encourage youth to write for future youth, to pass on the sword as it were. Out of these conventions come the resources that are given freely to those who will teach and share.

OK. OK. I am NOT a sci fi writer. Just a wannabe. I am a fan. I get thrills from my association with these lofty elites of the genre, the authors who work as members of RFF. And there are quite a few. I have read books written by some of them.

To inform you readers of the upcoming conventions, I elected to make an entry to which comments could be added. Those of you who have a convention to list, comment away.

I will get the ball rolling with a comment on Rustycon in Seattle. I'll try to add more. You do the same.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Reflections Collection -- 10/25/10

Celebrate the Outreach

To date this blog has been viewed 184 times.

RFF, Inc.,  now has a Reading for the Future community on Live Journal as Reading4Future  administered by Julia.

Cie explained the power of Facebook in accomplishing the RFF mission in Outreach through Facebook.

The Facebook Report

Likes for the Facebook is growing and is now over 200.
Cie continues to locate interesting and informative links. Others are beginning to post links there, too. Read weekly summaries of activity on Facebook in the FB Reports. To date there are 3: Since the Facebook page is older than the blog, the initial FB Report does some catching up; after that the postings are done weekly, 10/10/17 and 10/24/10.

If you know of a link that suits the RFF mission, add a comment here and/or mention it to Cie. Another way to get your ideas about science fiction for youth is to become my friend on Facebook. Be sure to mention RFF or Reflections in the message when you Friend me. Also, I will want permission to quote you from time to time; if that is OK, add "Yes, quote me," so I can include comments you write, too. If you send me your website url I will reference it when you are quoted. Then add links and conversations about speculative fiction for children, effect of reading speculative fiction, children and reading, etc. Share it on the RFF page on Facebook or with me or Cie.

Foundations that Ground RFF

The Letter from the Killer Bees has been added as a page to this blog. Remember, this is the letter that encouraged David-Glenn Anderson to start the first RFF Yahoo! Groups to grow a collaboration of volunteers into the body of Reading for the Future that it is today.

In the Blog Pages

Among the new permanent pages added to the blog is a Newsletter page. This page will list links to the Reflections Collections and to the FB Report posts so you do not have to search the archives. The Resources page contains links to organizations with similar goals, Teacher workshops and lessons from RFF members, book lists, science fiction conventions of interest to RFF, and more.

Recent posts to Reflections

Our own Lindalee Stuckey, also of Golden Duck Awards, discusses media piracy in Comments from a Concerned Librarian.

Learn about what The Heinlein Society does for encouraging reading in youth, the Pay it Forward Blood Drive, the free CD/DVD for educators and librarians chock-full of teaching resources, and more.

A primary activity in promoting the mission of RFF is the presentations by members at science fiction conventions. Read the Call for Papers to plan how you can participate, know which convention to attend, or even what questions to ask RFF members about what RFF can do for you. Currently, this information is updated in the comments. Eventually this could become a regular feature like the FB Report. A word of caution: to be sure that you miss nothing, join RFF and get the ongoing discussions as they are created.

Cybils: Another Site with a Similar Mission

Cybils offers an annual award to authors of children and young adult books. There are numerous book reviews on the Cybils site, too. Look for a future article on this effort. Look for the link to the newest Cybils awards in the 10/25/10 Facebook Report.

Notes from the rff-blogmaster

Cie sent a list of royalty-free images, mostly from NASA this time, to use to spice up Reflections.

David Brin keeps tossing provocative question out to his Facebook friends. In response, they comment enthusiastically. Look for an article on last Wednesday's discussion to be posted, hopefully, later this week.

Regretfully, no one sent in a book review during the last two weeks. Many RFF members are currently busy getting lessons and such together for upcoming teacher workshops at a couple of sci fi conventions and for an RFF databank. Plus their day jobs keep them busy. However, I ran across this blog that has reviews of children's fiction. Check out , although the archive seems to indicate a long period of inactivity. And there are plenty of book reviews on Cybils to keep you busy for a bit.

So much to write about, so little time! There were some interesting discussions in the rff group. There are plans for future articles based on several of these discussions. How will you know where to find them? Keep reading the blog. Click that Feedburner button and get the Reflections by RSS feed.

And don't forget, you can write an article, too. Just send it to me. Or send me your ideas and data and I, or one of the others on the blog committee, will work it up.

Quotes from the Group

What have you done for RFF today?

"I give general SF talks all the time and I always mention RFF and what we do."
~Turnshek, 9/26/10 message to rff Yahoo! Group.

", the blog for the publisher Tor, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the publication of Ringworld with a series of blog posts about the book. Here's my post about using Ringworld to learn about and teach about physics - in the comments, I provided links to RFF and AboutSF.
~Andy Love, 10/19/10 message to rff Yahoo! Group.

Note from Valerie: Join the RFF Effort
Join RFF in our efforts to donate speculative fiction--science fiction, alternative history, and fantasy--for grades K-12 to schools and libraries. Give a book or two today. Leave a comment here and on the Reading For the Future page on Facebook that tells us what books inspired you to read, stay in school, and study for your chosen career! Join others with this mission. Join RFF, a collaboration of volunteers.

Outreach through Facebook : Counting the Ways

by Cie McCullough

with note of introduction by Valerie Coskrey, rff-blogmaster
In an RFF Yahoo Group email to Cie, David G. Anderson asked, "How can Facebook get people to support RFF not just 'like' it? DGA"

Now, Dave is the Founder of the RFF Yahoo Group, and the Trustee who spearheaded the incorporation of Reading for the Future, Inc., and is the prime mover in obtaining the organization's tax exempt status -- a work currently in progress and almost completed. So Cie, enthusiastic about the 200+ "Likes" for the Reading For the Future page on Facebook for which she is responsible, quickly answered, informing the group how Facebook can further the RFF mission. Can you count the ways? ~Valerie

Outreach through Facebook

Facebook is outreach. It's a commercial. People see the words "Reading For the Future" and want to know what it is. When I am on FB I look for articles that deal with Speculative Fiction in many ways. Writing, teaching, how it affects us, the history of it, where it is now. Banned Book Week just passed and I posted about banned books, especially Fahrenheit 451. I look for articles I would use in teaching, whether they are explicitly "teaching" articles or not. Maybe some pictures that could be used as writing prompts; maybe a website offering free audio books.

I then post the article, or whatever, to the RFF page. People who have liked the page will get them as 'News' or in their feed. If you are on Facebook, I encourage you to like those articles, or make a comment, start a discussion after a post. More comments means it is more likely that people will stop and look further. Whenever I post to the RFF page I hit "Share," which means it will go to my own page, but it will say 'via Reading For the Future'. Like a brand name, another commercial.

I would love to have people come on and write more about who we are and what we do. Specifics, not links to a webpage. Short, KISS, people know in a quick read. What are we doing NOW? or SOON? WHEN is the next Con? WHAT will we have there? HOW are we outreaching to schools? WHO gets our next book? Facebook has the ability to blog, maybe we can cross connect the two [the RFF blog Reflections].~Cie

What is KISS?
In rff-Talking Reading for the Future (rff Yahoo! Group) jargon, KISS is "Keep it Simple" and is used to ask people to cut out the extraneous parts of their quotations of previous email messages in the replies.

What is Con?
To a sci fi fan, Con is a science fiction convention.

What is sci fi or scifi?
Science fiction.

FB Report: Lots of Links on Speculative Fiction -- 10/24/10

This week reports a Featured Event, children's book award nominations, a book list, and lots more.

Quote of the Week:  "Remember that a story with worldwide wireless communication was fantasy 150 years ago, scifi 100 years ago, and is not scifi today. "  by Sean OBrien 
[October 18, 2010 on in a discussion concerning the definition of hard science fiction.]

Want your link to be listed? Share it to the Reading For the Future page on Facebook or make me your Friend and post links on your Wall that you share with Friends. If you think I will overlook it, send me a message with the link attached and the remarks you want to say in introducing the link. Be sure to include your personal website url.

This is the third in the series of links of interest found on Facebook from the Reading For the Future page on Facebook and a few Walls of various friends.

Please note the spelling is corrected now in that the word "For" is capitalized. Cie named the page this way to distinguish it from other RFF sites online. Me, I noticed it once, then promptly forgot and misspelled the page for weeks of blog posts and rff group emails--even after someone remarked on how I had a typo in place. There are none so blind... My apologies.

Remember, the Note.


Reading For the Future, "...article at the bottom of the page entitled 'Notes on Writing Weird Fiction'. [essay by] H.P. Lovecraft...1933,...published...[in] June 1937 issue of The Amateur Correspondent."
Flash Fiction Online
Flash Fiction Online is a free source of professional flash fiction -- complete stories of 1,000 or fewer words. It includes stories from award-winning authors as well as first-time publications. Check us out!

From David Brin, "Every instance of First Contact in human history resulted in pain for the less advanced culture. I believe we should exercise caution before allowing a few individuals to beam messages into space."
David Brin Wants Us To Keep A Low Galactic Profile |
From An interview with Tom Fudge of KPBS. In the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, called SETI, people point powerful radio telescopes at distant stars in hopes of hearing radio signals from other civilizations. But the problem comes when humans stop listening and begin to shout.

Reading For the Future, "Saw this... and had to share with fellow Spec Fiction fans....[for]Lovecraft's 120th birthday."
H P Lovecraft Cthulhu necklace in black stainless by FableAndFury
An homage to one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century, Howard Phillips Lovecraft. This framed silhouette pendant is detailed with sprawling tentacles... a nod to Lovecraft's cosmic creature, Cthulhu.

On Valerie's wall from Science Fiction Book Club, " news...PJ's Hobbit movies...casting of Bilbo Baggins...-Rome
Peter Jackson officially announces the cast of The Hobbit (Yes!) | Blastr
The Hobbit is moving out of New Zealand to Australia. Or to London...[Peter] Jackson does know...who'll be starring in the long-delayed movie.

On Valerie's wall from David Brin's Uplift Universe "Dolphins uplifting themselves? In Australia, a group of river dolphins has learned to walk on water...[and] taught others."
BBC - Earth News - Dolphins learn to 'walk on water'
Wild dolphins in Australia are naturally learning to "walk" on their tail flukes, a rare example of playful behaviour being culturally transmitted among animals.

On Valerie's Wall from Bobbie DuFault, "Hey how cool!"
About « Do Nothing But Read Day
On December 3, 2009, Amanda Lanyon-LeSage said something on Facebook that could possibly change the world. She merely wished that she could take a day off and do nothing but read. Her idea was seconded–and thirded and fourthed–and then it happened for real.[10/22/10]

On Valerie's wall from West Wing Week is a link to a video of the 2010 National Science Winners meeting with President Obama. Believing it is important to share any activity that motivates children to read and learn, I share this with you.
West Wing Week: "The White House Science Fair"
This week, walk step by step with the President as he holds the first ever White House Science Fair, signs an Executive Order renewing the Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics...

David Brin shared this link.
Considering Cryonics | Lightspeed Magazine
From submarines to robots, much of the technology we take for granted today was originally conceived, not by scientists or inventors, but by that biggest of dreamers: the science fiction writer. Once thought wildly impossible, cryonics—the freezing of the recently dead, to be revived and repaired

Reading For the Future, "2010 Nominations: Fantasy/Science Fiction for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards"
Cybils: 2010 Nominations: Fantasy/Science Fiction
The Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards

Bobbie DuFault shared, "How about a Peter Parker toilet seat?"
The 6 most awful comic book toys and action figures EVER | Blastr
We all love toys,... love comics....But we don't love ALL toys, because all toys don't deserve it.

David Brin, "Science fiction can infect children with the dangerous mental habit of imagining things different than they are."
Contrary Brin
An occasional online journal to handle discussions generated by "The David Brin Site" ( ) Courteous argument is welcome...

On Valerie's wall was the remarks of Lynda Williams sharing Valerie's link (Yep, that's me.) to her own blog post.
Said Lynda,"Valerie of RFF wishes for Okal Rel Universe paper dolls near the end of this delightful description of her encounter with artist Tom Tierney."
Wonderful Paper Dolls of Tom Tierney
(After describing a visit to the Tom-Kat Paper Dolls store, I speak of the conversation I had with Tom Tierney and the books I looked at. I speak of using paper dolls to motivate children to read and then wonder if science fiction characters in Tierney's fashions would foster reading of science fiction.)

To which Valerie asked," Will beautifully illustrated paper dolls of literary characters encourage kids K-12 to read?"

In an answering comment, 10/21/10, Bobbie DuFault said,"Of course they will! And cut out action figures for the boys with lots of swords."

Reading For the Future quoted David Brin, "[F]iction is one of the most 'American' literary genres, because, like America itself, SF has a relentless fascination with change. In fact, I believe that this trait - rather than technology - is what most distinguishes SF from fantasy." Astronomy, SETI, science, transparency and wonders!
Contrary Brin An occasional online journal to handle discussions generated by 'The David Brin Site' ( ) Courteous argument is welcome..."

Reading For the Future "From Valerie C comes a great SF reading list for SF!  thanks for all the hard work Val :)"
Valerie's Memos: Suggested Readings for K-12 From the Golden Duck Reading List
Last month,I posted a book list at a local library in TX while visiting my parents, Smithville Public Library. The book list was based on the Reading List provided by DucKon the sponsors of the Golden Duck Awards and the Hal Clement Awards.

To which William Wood commented that very same day,"Glad to see "George's Secret Key to the Universe" on the list. I finished it with my 6 year old a couple weeks ago and we are now reading the sequel. Well suited to this age and yet still packs a lot of cutting-edge space-related concepts."

Reading For the Future~Valerie,'From James Sawyer comes this update on ereaders and a new source for his book Iterations. The article goes on to say, "To get things started, famous science fiction writer Robert Sawyer has graciously contributed his short stories to the mix which will be free for all jetBook owners, now how about that? Ectac...o has also invited writers to send in their own written material in order to have a chance for their writings loaded to every jetBook sold"
Ectaco introduces jetBook mini » Coolest Gadgets
Once you’ve taken a look at the title, do not groan and say “Oh no! Not another e-book reader that has descended upon us!”. Well, that might be the case, but you need not worry about Ectaco’s latest offering as the jetBook-mini will be an extension of the world’s leader in portable language learning...

Also on 10/20/10, I asked James whether the reader showed colored pictures. Unfortunately, no, he he told me.

Reading For the Future from Lynn E. Cohen Koehler, "Educator's workshop at the MICHENER ART MUSEUM Doylestown, PA
Saturday, November 13, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm
$45 Registration deadline: November 2, 2010
James A. Michener Art Museum: Events and Programs: Teacher Workshop: Graphic Novels in the Classroom
An introduction to the popular literary art form, the graphic novel, and its benefits for your curriculum.This three hour workshop led by artist, Scott Hanna, will introduce, LitGraphic:The World of the Graphic Novel, followed by a hands-on workshop focused on the visual elements in the graphic nove...

The above link refers to our Featured Event. Read more below.

Reading For the Future, "Teaching Physics With Niven [Ringworld] Wow that would be fun :)"
Ringworld 40th Anniversary—Learning Physics with Ringworld
The Physics of Ringworld by Andrew Love, part of the Ringworld 40th Anniversary celebration on

Reading For the Future, "Check out the RFF Reflections Blog for a great article on The Heinlein Society!"
The Heinlein SocietyReading for the Future Reflections
The Heinlein Society. Sharing common goals, some RFF members have worked closely with The Heinlein Society,, on projects in the past. The two organizations even have members in common. Expect more collaborative efforts from these two organizations

Reading For the Future,"Spooky Legends Event: Oct 18th-31st; 2 supernatural blogs + 14 spine-tingling days + 28 frighteningly talented authors & characters, creepy cool urban legends, and the most chilling new releases of the season = Spooky Legends"
All Things Urban Fantasy: Spooky Legends Event: Oct 18th-31st
I’m teaming up with...Angela from Dark Faerie Tales, for this wickedly wonderful event that will feature some of the biggest names in paranormal fiction writing...

Reading For the Future From Mike Resnick -
Just went into the self-publishing biz. (Bear with me; it's not a vanity
press.) I have 29 stories and about 270,000 words worth of Hugo-winning
and Hugo-nominated I put together 5 e-books, THE HUGO
STORIES Volumes 1 through 5, with a cover photo of me standing next to
...the trophy case, and uploaded them to... the Barnes & Noble web
page. (They'll be on the Amazon Kindle page in another day or two.)
Below is a link to volume 1
The Hugo Stories -- Volume 1
The Hugo Stories -- Volume 1 by Mike Resnick eBook at the World's Largest eBook Store. Download eBooks and free samples within seconds from Barnes & Noble.

Reading For the Future, "Good blog post about writing"
What is Great Fiction About? | Creed_of_Kings on Xanga « A. R. Travis's Blog
When they say there is nothing new under the sun, that is correct. It has all been done. This is what I’ve tried to be mindful of when creating my book.

Featured Event

This event was shared by Lynn E. Cohen Koehler. She reminds us to RSVP directly to the Michener Art Museum (contact link below) not to Reading For the Future page on Facebook. Using the RFF page on FB rsvp link will allow you to network with RFF members, but will NOT notify the museum or Workshop organizers of your intentions.

Featured Event from Reading For the Future

Lynn E. Cohen Koehler Educator's workshop at the MICHENER ART MUSEUM Doylestown, PA
Saturday, November 13, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm
$45 Registration deadline: November 2, 2010

For more information, contact jamam1@
James A. Michener Art Museum: Events and Programs: Teacher Workshop: Graphic Novels in the Classroom
Copyright © 2001-2010, The James A. Michener Art Museum. All rights reserved. James A. Michener Art Museum | 138 S. Pine St. | Doylestown, PA 18901 | 215.340.9800 Contact us at

Quoted from the link above, this abstract tells what the workshop is about.
"An introduction to the popular literary art form, the graphic novel, and its benefits for your curriculum.This three hour workshop led by artist, Scott Hanna, will introduce, LitGraphic:The World of the Graphic Novel, followed by a hands-on workshop focused on the visual elements in the graphic nove[l]..."

More information on the Workshop was provided by Cie, admin of Reading For the Future.

An introduction to the popular literary art form, the graphic novel, and its benefits for your curriculum.This three hour workshop led by artist, Scott Hanna, will introduce, LitGraphic:The World of the Graphic Novel, followed by a hands-on workshop focused on the visual elements in the graphic novel. In this session, ...K-12 educators focus on the elements of the design process concentrating on visual techniques to construct a world and deliver a story.This will include: how to express a time frame, how to convey emotions and retain a reader’s interest, utilize various types of perspective, emphasizing line quality to create form and texture, the use of color, adding value to enhance mood/atmosphere, utilizing expressions and body language, and more. Visual examples will draw from graphic novels as well as video games, movies, animation, cartoons, etc. Supplies will be provided.

The instructor, Scott Hanna, is one of the most published inkers in the industry today. His drawing/ inking work has appeared in over 100 books to date. He currently works for both Marvel & DC Comics. His comic and graphic novel pages have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution and at MOCCA, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York City.Topics in Scott's work cover a vast range of Superhero themes, including many of the Hollywood movie adaptations, such as “Iron Man” (the first movie),“The Hulk,”“Daredevil,”“Batman Forever,”“Spiderman 3,” and “X-Men.” Scott received the 2005 Wizard Fan Award for “Best Inker” and the 2002 Eisner award for “Best Serialized Story.”

Does your event fit the mission of RFF? Share it with RFF, Cie and me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Heinlein Society

Sharing common goals, some RFF members have worked closely with
The Heinlein Society,, on projects in the past. The two organizations even have members in common. Expect more collaborative efforts from these two organizations.

Get to know the Heinlein Society

Actively promoting the works and philosophy of Robert Heinlein, The
Heinlein Society has many programs, including these: 
  • donate books to libraries
  • award scholarships and grants
  • organize and sponsor the Pay It Forward blood drives at science fiction conventions;  For schedule:
  •  award the Heinlein Prize for accomplishments in commercial space activities 
  • provide a CD of workshop resources, science fiction stories, teacher resources and other materials free to teachers and librarians; for a description; table of contents; and to order a copy, visit
  • run teacher workshops at science fiction conventions.
RFF has often collaborated in some of the programs, especially the
workshops for teachers and librarians. RFF assisted in the development
of the Heinlein Society Educator's CD, and many of the RFF members take part in the presentation of the workshops.

Overheard in the rff Yahoo! Group Messages, 10/8/10

The conversation kicked off with a message from David-Glenn Anderson:
"Geo -- Tell Valerie about the Heinlein Society please.  Robert was
goh at the Seattle worldcon.  'All I could see was naked studs...' The hotel was still under construction." Dave then asked a few leading questions for Geo to answer.

"Blood donations were one of Heinlein's concerns (they saved his life
at one point), and in the 70s he promoted blood drives at SF
conventions. When THS started in 2000, we continued that tradition as
well, and to date have collected over 7,400 pints of blood at blood
drives the Society has participated and promoted at various
conventions over the years." wrote Geo Rule, member of both THS and
RFF, in the email conversation of 10/8/10; He was answering Dave
Anderson's question, "Why does the society support blood drives?".

In the same conversation, Maurine Starkey, another member of both
organizations, credits THS with, "My introduction to the Heinlein
Society was with ConJose 2002 as the Blood Drive Coordinator. It was
the best experiance anyone could want with a new organization."

Geo went on to tell us that Robert Silver was the past
president/chariman of The Heinlein Society; Mike Sheffield is the
current leader. ( )

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Call for Papers: Sci Fi Cons are Asking now for the Future -- 10/17/10

 Are you a serious scholar of science fiction? Are you a literary critic? Do you enjoy serving on panels while dressed as aliens?

These science fiction conventions have asked members of RFF to prepare presentations in a Call for Papers.

"We wouldn't mind a paper or two ourselves," writes
Tuckborough, The Shire, of the 3rd Conference on the Middle Earth.

Featured Call

The deadline for the call for papers for Life, the Universe, & Everything XXIX  is November 15.
 The Marion K. and Doc E  Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and
Fantasy will be held February 10-12, 2011, on the Provo campus of
Brigham Young University.

 We are especially interested in papers in the following areas:

*Mormon culture, literature, and society in relation to sf&f

 รข€¢ Literary criticism/analysis of sf&f and related literature
(medieval, renaissance, mythology, magic realism, etc.)

*Science and technology (especially new or unusual)

*Analysis of sf&f relating to poetry and/or theatre

*Serious analysis of sf&f in cinema, television, radio, and other media

Submit FULL papers for consideration to LTU&E to Academics,
4087 JKB, Provo, UT 84602 or email electronic submissions as RTF
files to marny_parkin @ (note new address). Include name,
phone number, street address, and email address on cover sheet.

Papers submitted without contact information will not be considered. Student papers welcome. Please see for more information.

 Papers must be submitted no later than November 15, 2010.  Accepted
papers may be published in the Proceedings volume at a later date.

Other scifi cons have calls out for papers and panels. Visit the resources page for a list of conventions that have frequently hosted workshops and talks by members of RFF.

This list is growing as I learn more about the past activities of RFF. If your favorite science fiction or fantasy convention has room for a session that meets our mission, or workshops for teachers, parents, and librarians on encouraging reading with speculative fiction, let us know.
Please tell the deadline for the presenters to apply as well as the dates of the next convention.  Website links help, too, as do contact names.

Maybe there is a calendar in the making.

Either blog comments or direct contact are welcome ways of sharing this information.

FB Report: Lots of Links on Speculative Fiction -- 10/17/10

How many posts to Facebook can we read in a week?

This is the second in the series of Facebook links of interest from the Reading for the Future page on Facebook.

With over 200 people "liking" the page, Cie is celebrating by posting ever-more web resources of value to the RFF mission. Better yet, the sites are fun reads and great sites to visit. Also, from other Walls come a few more sites of interest. Did you catch the latest?

Note: This is not a verbatim report. Extraneous phrases were cut, some phrases were reworded, and info after the link is dropped. But you get the idea, right?


Cie expressed sorrow in sharing that the developer of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbot, died.
Benoit Mandelbrot, mathematician who developed field of fractal geometry, dies at 85 in Mass.


David Brin shared a link on how science fiction clarifies human rights, asking, "How will technology impact personal liberties? The ACLU is analyzing sci-fi plots to plan its future battles over individual freedom. Its report, Technology, Liberties and the Future, draws upon science fiction for worst-case scenarios to study possible civil liberties violations that may result from advances in technology: omni-surveillance, cloning, gene splicing, nanotech, cyborgs...,"
Humanoid Rights | The American Prospect   
A few months ago I watched Moon, a 2009 indie science-fiction film, with a friend who works on public relations for the American Civil Liberties Union. The movie centers on Sam Bell, a solitary laborer who spends his days extracting helium from moon rocks and drawing comfort from correspondence with...

Angela Lott posted to the RFF, sharing her enthusiasm for the Okel Rel Universe with these words, "If you like Comedy, Drama, Romance, or Action or even if you just like well written character driven fiction, you will like The Okal Rel Universe Saga by Lynda Williams. Vist the site and see for yourself."
Home of the Okal Rel Science Fiction Series
The ORU is a 10 novel series, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, set in a very different universe. The character-driven stories tackle themes of culture clash in a context where all-out war is so horrific it is all but obsolete, but passions still run high.

 Admittedly, Angela knows Lynda personally, but I have read her wall often enough to know that she actually reads and enjoys these books and read them as a YA.  If a teenager enjoys the series, well, ...

Courtesy of Jan Howard Finder, the Wombat:
Astronomy Day 2010 at George Observatory - Houston astronomy |
George Observatory is operated by the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS). The three observatories there (telescopes are 14", 18", and 36") offer the public a view of the diamond studded sky typically lost in the bright lights of the city. This Saturday is Astronomy Day 2010.

Ya'll be sure to ask her how it went!

From Reading For the Future" "Check out the site and then join the Facebook page so that you can get all the latest details!"
The Utah Humanities Book Festival
What Kind of Idea Are You? Find Out at the 13th Annual Utah Humanities Book Festival! All Book Festival activities are free and open to the public...

On the Reading for the Future page, "Remember the classic black and white docudramas from school? I found this site, which is associated with others for each discipline of teaching. It offers older film clips and educational videos that are now in the public domain to teachers. Enjoy the one on this page on Why to Study Science. There is even a mention of sci fi in the video!~Valerie C."
Why Study Science
Why Study Science? Dramatizations explain why science is important and the benefits of scientifice study.

Yeah, it's a new site with a few typos still in place last time I checked. But the site is well worth the visit.  According to the comments posted with the link, a few homeschoolers think so too.

Reading For the Future:  This link is the Introduction and First Chapter of 'Teaching Fantasy Novels' by Phyllis J. Perry. It is the synopsis and Lesson Plan for teaching Lloyd Alexander's The High King.

Reading For the Future, "Found some interesting sites while doing some research online. This first one lists good Fantasy short stories for use in modeling Fantasy writing. The entire list is available online, either in text or audio."
Teaching Fantasy « Torque Control
Since so many smart critics frequent here, I’d like to pitch a question to y’all: I’ve been teaching undergraduate creative writing for years (am an English MA/ poetry MFA) but this semester for the first time I’m teaching a course focused on writing fantasy fiction.

This entry brought a few few comments. One from Philippa Ballantine,, an author of what she calls "adult high fantasy and steampunk" fiction, which she wrote me were probably a bit too violent and sexually explicit for RFF to recommend for teens, even though she knows of many fans who are teenagers.  She also reads books for pod casts.

Anyway, Philippa did suggest a book for the Reading for the Future book lists. At Cie's request, on 10/14/10, she commented, "For older children I love Garth Nix's books."

Valerie asked, as Reading For the Future, "Has anyone seen the commercial for The Dead Zone that features the nine lives of a cat? I laughed so hard at that one."  I, Valerie, posted the question in response to the Cat Poster from Cie's wall, which I shared with the RFF page.
"Found this on Cie's page, which she titled, 'Wanted Dead and Alive'"
Unfortunately, I was unable to copy the photo. Try to visit the page. If not there, try the Links. It is a riot!

 On 10/13/10, David Brin put out a call for books on manufacturing in a status comment on his page, "I need references/links for and SCI FI NOVELS about *manufacturing*... especially about its decline in America and /or prospects for better manufacturing in the near future." 

Read the comments for a new book list. How many are suitable for youth? At least a teaching concept is identified.

On the RFF page, "Science in Sci Fi Recommended by member Lynda Williams" 
Orbiting Frog | Astronomy, Space and Science
Andre Geim, an Ig Nobel laureate and physicist working at the University of Manchester has been jointly awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics. He is joined by Konstantin Novoselov, his former PhD student and research partner in ground-breaking work on a substance called Graphene, which forms the b...

I visited and discovered that the blog author is asking readers to suggest a quote that he can use on the blog's home page. Help him out, Somebody.

That's all to report for the time span Oct. 13, 2010 - Oct. 16, 2010 as of my last visit to Facebook. Do you have a few authors or other contributors that you want followed? Not yet a member of RFF? Send suggestions through the comments. RFF members, you may send comments to Valerie C. in a group email.

Did you read the first Facebook Report? Now's your chance. FB Report: Lots of Links on Speculative Fiction -- 10/12/10

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Comments from a Concerned Librarian

Help stamp out media piracy.

I recently received this email from a librarian who understands that it takes the personal action of those who care to stop the rampant media piracy that is supported by several online sites. Want to assist in protecting the copyrights of our nation's writers and artists? Here's a few suggestions on how.

The Concerned Librarian writes:

I am a librarian turned computer teacher. One of my passions is to answer questions on Yahoo Answers. I just made over 400,000 points for helping others.

I have gotten increasingly upset by requests for pirated books. I saw all the postings for Stephenie Meyer books and I checked them out. I could not believe how many kids were scanning her books and posting them on file sharing sites for others to read. Not just in English; but in Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Croatian.

I saw the viral process when her fourth book came out. Twenty-four hours before the books came out in stores, there were copies online. And there were copies of the 12 chapters that Stephenie Meyer gave to the director and Rob Patterson to help with the Edward character in the movie.

The worst sites are and but and others are guilty too. For the past two years, I have been writing down the file names and sending a letter to abuse@   and cc the author and publisher. I have removed thousands of files. Kelly Armstrong, Eoin Colfer, and Darren Shan have sent me nice letters thanking me for my work.

Another good site is copy not. They are aimed at movie and audio theft. I reported Suzanne Collin's Catching Fire audio book on one site and many sites have posted the Twilight movies.

Obviously the kids are reading science fiction and fantasy. These are the most requested books to be pirated. These are the most requested movies to be pirated. Illinois recently mandated copyright to be one of the lessons taught. A video piracy ring was apprehended in one of the towns that is part of my school district.

Be aware that your students may be tempted to obtain pirate copies. Some do this because they can't remember or be bothered to take home their books. Some just want their own copy of the hottest books. Some prefer to read on their cell phone or computer rather than go to a library.

I can sympathize that the kids want to read, but authors are being ripped off. Good authors may lose future publishing contracts because of poor sales and we all lose when the price of books goes up to compensate for piracy.

Lindalee Stuckey

FB Report: Lots of Links on Speculative Fiction -- 10/12/10

 After only a few months, the Reading for the Future page on Facebook is approaching 150+ Likes.  In the Discussion threads are dozens of books categorized by reading level.

And there have been some really interesting links posted. Most were introduced by Cie, the page's main admin lady (or, as David A. called her in a recent email, our RFF-FB "missionary"). Did you catch these on your visits to rff on fb?

Note: This is not a verbatim report. Extraneous phrases were cut, some phrases were reworded, and info after the link is dropped. But you get the idea, right?
Said physicist Stephen Hawking, “Science fiction is useful both for stimulating the imagination and for defusing fear of the future.” Sigma Xi the Scientific Research Society recently surveyed its members, asking: '"Did science fiction influence you?"  10/7/10 
Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society: Member Newsletters: Did Science Fiction Influence You?
This is an interesting article, possibly some hints to reach some Romance readers who think SF is not for them? 10/6/10 GeekMom » Blog Archive » Science Fiction Romance: Not an Oxymoron
Of course we all know this is by no means complete. They didn't even mention War of the Worlds' laser beams and chemical warfare. 10/4/10 11 Astounding Sci-Fi Predictions That Came True

To this on 10/5/10, William Wood commented, "Not to poo-poo the idea that 'one of the most important reasons for reading and teaching SF' is it's ability to anticipate technology, but..." He continued, "What gives sf its literary potency is not that it anticipates tech but that it provides a way for u...s to envision possible worlds. Some sf worlds are offered as cautions; others as options we may wish to choose. In either case, the thing is this: we need to take responsibility for bringing about the future, and sf is the genre that gives us a laboratory for envisioning our choices."
To which Cie responded, "But it does illustrate one of the most important reasons for reading and teaching SF. "
'Looking for the Science in Fiction' Thank you David Brandt!  10/3/10 Hard SF: Free Audio SF - Story Readings, New Additions
Why is this here? Read the fine print...
The Echo Park Time Travel Mart helps support 826LA, a non-profit organization “dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write”.   10/3/10 Echo Park Time Travel Mart
To commemorate Banned Books Week, the Internet Archive lets you read & download 74 banned books, and they're all FREE.
~Cie   10/2/10 Banned Books : Free Books : Free Texts : Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
Attention Librarians! Here is a great resource for using SF in your Libraries. Please leave some feedback, your thoughts are important.
(Note, the link below is to the download page.~Valerie)
Said AboutSF, "We are currently beta testing a Librarian's Portable Teaching Workshop. Please feel free to download this material and add any comments about usability, effectiveness, or suggestions for change in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you about our newest project."   9/30/10  Beta Test the Workshop for Libraries (Download) | AboutSF
Below is a series of statements and links that represent a combined, shared link. Eventually, at the bottom of the set, you get to the link to the actual statement by Walter Mead. Enjoy the conversation!

David Brin shared this link. Said David, "This is essentially a blog post about Walter Russell Mead's article, but the more important point here is:
"Thanks to C. J. Cherryh for bringing this to my attention and for having such a great cover for Cyteen: The Betrayal - seen below :)
Read science fiction to understand the things that mainstream pundits won't talk about.(sic)"
"'Why should you be reading more science fiction? Not just for the thrills or awesome science. You should read SF to explore ideas about society that academics and pundits won't talk about,'(sic) writes Walter Russell Mead in The American Interest."   9/23/10

Then there was a second share; and the same conversation continued.

Cie added, "Thank you David Brin for bring this to our attention!"
Literary Saturday: Science Fiction is a Genre That Everyone Should Read - Walter Russell Mead's Blog
David said "I have read a lot of science fiction. I started reading this stuff when Sputnik was still in the news; the first satellites were spooking through the sky when I was turning the pages of novels by Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein and A. E. Van Vogt. I read everything in the genre that the Glenwood Ele..."   9/23/10

Another conversation on fb that made the rounds of friends and ended up on emails in Talking RFF, the rff Yahoo! Group. The original source was Al MacAlister. and it became part of the dialog on appreciating alternative history as speculative history, speculative fiction, and a learning motivator--that is, once we had wiped our eyes and otherwise recovered from the pain of laughing so hard! In that dialog, Valerie reminded the group that many a space opera series has become what someone once called "future history." Be sure to learn about World War II in this article. Priceless.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Reflections Collection -- 10/11/10

    a biweekly newsletter....Vol. 1....Oct. 11, 2010

    Book Reviews

    Fledgling and Saltation, both by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, are reviewed by Laura Swift Lind of the StarHouse Discovery Center.

    Snippets of History  

    Introducing Reflections and Reading for the Future
    A brief overview introducing Reading for the Future begins the blog "Reflections." 


    The common goal that organizes and unites the volunteers of RFF, Inc.

    Convention Intentions

    Current activity revolves around plans for a teacher workshop in Reno, Nevada, at the upcoming  WorldCon Convention.

    New Resources for Public Outreach 

    Winners of the Golden Duck Awards for 2010 have been released.

    RFF now owns a poster called 'Lil Newt by M. Starkey.  It can be used by members in workshops, library book lists, teaching materials and other ways created by RFF volunteers in RFF projects.  Locate the link in the RFF Yahoo Group Links.

    Lynda says this site,, is about the science in science fiction.

    David keeps finding sites that discuss all sorts of ideas about science fiction. He share them on 2 different Facebook pages. Some of these will eventually be added to the Resources pages on this blog.

    Cie keeps finding interesting articles and quotes for the Reading for the Future page on Facebook. 

    Others have shared links and books, too. These collections will be posted soon.

    Delving into the RFF Resources Collection

    What resources does RFF, Inc., have to share with teachers, parents, librarians, and students? Since 1999, past activities have produced resources of value for that can be used to foster reading using speculative fiction. Today's featured resources include a poster, a page on Facebook, links to book lists, and links to other organizations with a common mission.  Links and information about each are posted on the Resources page of the blog. Look for the list to grow. 

    Message from the Blogmaster

    Much of the work for incorporating Reading for the Future is now complete; papers have been filed. The RFFOrg members and the RFF Board are busily fine-tuning paperwork and procedures. Much of the collaboration is by email and polls.

    To more fully include members in discussions yet cut down on the chaos of group emails, a decision was made to consolidate the regional groups into the main body of the rff Yahoo Group. As current dialogs and projects are completed among members of the regional groups, the smaller groups are being shut down. All members of regional groups are asked to join the main rff Yahoo Group. The tag in the subject area of RFF group emails is [Talking RFF].   

    Interest in the blog and the cooperation of RFF members has been wonderful. I want to thank all RFF and RFFOrg members for their contributions and willingness to help. 

    You will notice that much is left unposted. There is so much information that it will take time to organize it and write about it. Look for a richer second Reflections Collection!

    Keep that blog data coming! Wanted: Articles to post!

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Have you read the latest from the Liaden Universe?

     Book Reviews
    A Quick Word from Valerie

    I am a huge fan of Lee and Miller's Liaden Universe series. This mix of sweeping sci fi space opera, romance, alien cultures, and fantasy--with a bit of military sci fi thrown in--keeps me begging for more. For years I wanted to know Theo's story after she was introduced in I Dare.

    Well, the wait is over for most. For me, the wait ended last year when I read the working draft of these two novels as they were serialized online, along with the network of fans who were invited to critique the novels as they were written. Maybe Lee and Miller started a trend. Hope so. You can find out more about it on their site .

    It was with great pleasure that I received these 2 book reviews from an RFF, Inc., volunteer to tell you what the two novels are about and how they fit in with the mission of RFF, Inc.
    ~Valerie, rff-blogmaster

    Two Book Reviews by Laura Swift Lind

    Fledgling by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

    Theo Waitley is a young woman who, although she likes learning, isn't doing well in school. It doesn't help that her dad is from another planet and doesn't care about fitting into the university culture, or that her parents have been together her whole life on a planet where most kids don't even know who their dad is, or that she is always getting in accidents. When her mom has to travel to another planet for research, Theo goes with her, and begins to learn about who she is and why she has always had trouble at school.

    Saltation by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

    In the sequel, Theo Waitley goes off to college. She does much better, but still has trouble with math, until an upperclassman sees her knitting while trying to work out a knotty problem. This gets her an interview with one of the top administrators; and all of a sudden, Theo is on the fast track to be an interstellar pilot. Unfortunately, the planet she's on doesn't like outsiders, and with all her studying, Theo's still not fitting in with the culture.

    These two new books set in the Liaden Universe created by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller are geared towards teenagers with the school settings and coming-of age-themes, but will still appeal to adults. It is not necessary to know anything about the previous books to enjoy these, as the main character doesn't know about any of that history, herself. If you have read I Dare, though, you will recognize the final scene.

    ~Laura Swift Lind
    Visit Laura Swift Lind at the StarHouse Discovery Center

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Introducing Reflections and Reading for the Future

    Concerning Reflections

    Welcome to Reflections.  Watch future posts for snippets of  the history of Reading for the Future. Stay up to date with current activities. Get details on our projects.  Meet our volunteers.   Examine our goals and philosophy.  You can also  share our  links, book lists, author interviews, book reviews, K-12 lessons, and more.

    Concerning Reading for the Future

    This post is just a brief overview.  Watch for details in future accounts of RFF Historical Musings and other blog posts.

    RFF Historical Musings

    The first email in the rff Yahoo Group welcomed members with this statement:

    "Readers of the Future is an internnational advacacy geared toward secondarary school students and reading science fiction."

    (OK, so volunteers do their e-groups messages in the middle of the night after long days on their real jobs. Don't let the misspellings fool you. There are active, accomplished people in this group. Quotations of messages will include errors since most whip off an email in a few minutes between other tasks, amid constant interruptions and with minds preoccupied with plans for numerous activities and projects. Also, they type fast and click send—sometimes before they remember to proof!)

    Since then, librarians, professors, teachers, home school parents, authors, artists, and speculative fiction fans have joined together to advance the mission of Reading for the Future, which quickly expanded to cover fostering reading within the age groups K-12 and the early college years.

    Within the e-group, email dialogs coordinated efforts of the members in such activities as these.
    • creating book lists
    • sharing links
    • creating and presenting teacher workshops
    • forming and sponsoring panels at science fiction conventions
    • creating and sharing lesson plans for using science fiction in college and k-12 classrooms
    • donating science fiction and speculative fiction books suitable for grades K-12 to schools and libraries
    • collaborating with other like-minded organizations in various projects

    Amidst the collaborating, these passionate science fiction and speculative fiction fans have shared their personal opinions and insights into science, science fiction, reading, and teaching.

    For years, all this was done in a voluntary collaboration within a half dozen or so Yahoo Groups opened to unite people regionally and to work on specific projects. United by shared postings amongst all the e-groups by David Glenn Anderson and the membership of a core group of highly active members, the e-groups formed a community of volunteers loosely organized by a common mission and mutual encouragement.

    Dave kept the groups on track with his ownership and moderation of all the e-groups; his sharing of messages among all the e-groups; his newsletter "Bits and Pieces" that he used to summarize and bring closure to a bit of the ensuing chaos of so many simultaneous group threads; and his acceptance and encouragement of a constant flow of ideas and projects, stepping in now and then with an invitation to brainstorm for new projects.

    Today, the group has coalesced into a strongly active volunteer collaboration with a stated mission and an organically developed group organization.  Recently, the members have decided to make the organization official.  Now, the members are part of Reading for the Future, Inc.  As of this year, the group is a non-profit corporation registered in Utah, the home of David Anderson and a few of the other highly active, core members.

    Furthermore, we Members are all united by the ideas of certain documents that we look to for definition, guidance, and goals in all projects and collaborations:
    We refer to ourselves as RFF or RFF, Inc.  We have adopted working group nomers over time, so watch for those labels, too. Now that we are officially a non-profit organization, we might have to adopt a stable label for use in referring to ourselves and our volunteer activities, but we are a fairly free-wheeling group. Sit back and watch to see what ensues.

    Learn More about RFF

    Find out more about Reading for the future from these online sites:

    Website:..............Reading for the Future
    Blog:...................Reading for the Future Reflections
    Facebook:..........Reading for the Future on Facebook
    Yahoo Group:.....rff Yahoo Group

    Observers welcome--Feel free to lurk in the background until you get inspired to go active. 

    Note from Valerie: Today, 10/12/10, I added links to the ideas that unite us.  The Mission Statement and Letter from the Killer Bees (I also corrected the originally incorrect spelling from B's to Bees) are now posted on permanent pages. 

    Furthermore, the original Letter from the Killer Bees is posted online at
    Since Reading for the Future used the letter in its incorporation papers, I felt it would be an important addition to the RFF blog.

    Finally, the link to the bylaws is an email address. Request a copy and I will forward your request to the RFF Board who handle your request.