Petition to name planet after home of Time Lords

A petition to the International Astronomical Union to name a recently discovered planet Gallifrey gathered 13,507 signatures online. The planet, currently known as HD 106906 b, was recently discovered, despite the fact that its existence is causing quite a few theories of planet formation to be rethought. The petition organizers cited its larger size and burnt-orange colour, similar to stated properties of the fictional planet Gallifrey, as the reason why it should be renamed after the home planet of the title character of the series Doctor Who in recognition of the show’s fiftieth anniversary.

Unfortunately, the greatest resistance to the idea may come from the IAU itself. It has been their longstanding policy not to give formal names to any object outside our own solar system that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Also, even in the one instance where the IAU did ask for the public’s input on a name for an object, the popular choice was ultimately rejected.


Vancouver-based Rainmaker Entertainment, parent company of computer animation studio Mainframe Entertainment, has announced a reboot of ReBoot.

ReBoot, Mainframe’s first and flagship show and the first fully 3D computer-animated cartoon series, debuted in 1994 and remained on air in reruns until 2001. In recognition of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the show, Rainmaker announced its revamping of the series, set inside a computer, as well as the resurrection of the Mainframe Entertainment brand as Rainmaker’s television division. Rainmaker acquired Mainframe and its rights and properties in 2006.

Will be hard to bottle…

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has found a surprising amount of water in Martian soil, believed to have been absorbed directly from the very dry atmosphere. However, it has not found traces of methane in the atmosphere, suggesting little or no previous biological activity on the planet. In addition, due to the composition of the soil, NASA scientists believe a different rover with other methods of soil analysis will be necessary to determine if microbial life ever did exist on Mars.

Robert J. Sawyer to be given Lifetime Achievement honour

The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, the governing body behind the annual Aurora Awards, is bestowing a Lifetime Achievement Award to Ottawa native Robert J,. Sawyer on 6 October 2013 at Canvention 33, held this year in conjunction with Can-Con in Ottawa. Sawyer’s is the first such award given in thirty years. He becomes the fourth author to be given a Lifetime Achievement award, following A.E. Van Vogt, Phyllis Gotlieb and Judith Merril. In addition to winning the Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell awards, Sawyer has also won thirteen Aurora Awards over his career, the most of any single recipient.

The Man of Steel gets immortalized in Silver and Gold

In honour of the 75th anniversary of Superman, co-created by Canadian comic artist Joe Shuster, the Royal Canadian Mint has created a series of seven gold and silver coins depicting the Man of Steel at various times during the comic book hero’s lengthy run. The images vary in style from a gold piece depicting Superman in the style of Shuster’s original artwork to a silver coin depicting him as he appeared in the film Man of Steel. The six silver coins range in price from $29.75 to $129.75 while the 14k gold coin sells for $750.

Spokane selected as site of 2015 WorldCon

Spokane, Washington beat Helsinki, Finland and Orlando, Florida to host the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in 2015. This was the first contested site selection vote for a future WorldCon since 2006 voting for the 2008 site. The convention, dubbed Sasquan, also announced their Guests of Honour Brad Foster, David Gerrold, Vonda McIntyre, Tom Smith, and Leslie Turek.

Hugo Awards announced!

The winners of the Hugo Awards were announced at LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, on 1 September 2013. The winners are:

  • BEST NOVEL: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)
  • BEST NOVELLA: The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
  • BEST NOVELETTE: “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi”, Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)
  • BEST SHORT STORY: “Mono no Aware”, Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)
  • BEST RELATED WORK: Writing Excuses Season Seven, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson
  • BEST GRAPHIC STORY: Saga, Volume One, written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
  • BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM: The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)
  • BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM: Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”, Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)
  • BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM: Stanley Schmidt
  • BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • BEST SEMIPROZINE: Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Jason Heller, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker
  • BEST FANZINE: SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo, JP Frantz, and Patrick Hester
  • BEST FANCAST: SF Squeecast, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente (Presenters) and David McHone-Chase (Technical Producer)
  • BEST FAN WRITER: Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • BEST FAN ARTIST: Galen Dara
  • JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER – Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2011 or 2012, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award): Mur Lafferty

Star Wars meets Dune

The set of Mos Espa, built in the Tunisian desert as the home city of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, is slowly being covered by a crescent-shaped sand dune called a barchan which is advancing on the fictional city at the rate of about 15 metres a year. Some of the outer buildings have already started to be covered over.

Construction in the desert typically doesn’t happen in Tunisia because of the chance of these types of dunes covering and crushing the structures. The nearby set of Mos Eisley constructed in the 1970s for the original Star Wars film has already begun to be buried.

Ironically, while the Tunisian government considers ways to keep the structures of Mos Espa uncovered due to their value as a tourist attraction, Ralph Lorenz, an astrophysicist at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, has been studying the dunes in order to compare their movements against the movements of sand dunes on Mars.

Pluto’s smallest moons named

The two smallest moons of dwarf planet Pluto have been formally named by the International Astronomical Union. Kerberos and Styx join previously known satellites Charon, Nix and Hydra. The names of the recently discovered moons were chosen by a vote of the general public via the Internet. A campaign started by Canadian Star Trek actor William Shatner had successfully placed the name Vulcan on the ballot, and that name originally came out with the highest number of votes. The IAU rejected the name, however, on the grounds that Vulcan, the Roman god of volcanoes and metal working, had no connection to the underworld in either Greek or Roman mythology and the name had been used for a supposed tenth planet of the solar system, believed to have been within the orbit of Mercury, the existence of which was ultimately disproved by Albert Einstein nearly a century ago.