In Sputnik’s Orbit

A few thoughts to tide you over…


That Our Flag Was Still There

I was recently asked about this pair of images, suggested by moon hoaximonkians that the whole Apollo program was one big load of bull, as real and Donald Trump’s hair:main-qimg-91095b3a66dea9ae83e04217569e73a3

The flags in these two shots are suspiciously similar…These side-by-side comparisons reveal the startling fact that BOTH flags are billowing positively towards the camera…blah blah, blah.”

Originally, I suspected these had been modified as is often the case with hoax monkeys, who either twist things to fit their narrative or simply don’t bother to go find decent quality source material open which to base their flights of fancy. After all, the image on the left was used in a well-known composite called “Flag and Earth,” created in 2003 by Ricardo Salamé Páez.

However, good quality scans are available at Apollo 11 Image Library. Neither is from the Data Acquisition Camera. Both are from magazine 40, loaded into the Hasselblad used for the first EVA. The image on the left is cropped from magazine shot 5905. The one on the left is cropped and blown up from shot 5885.

If the images appear similar, it’s because they are pictures of the same flag photographed from opposite vantage points. For analysis, NASA compiled this map of all features, equipment, and photos taken at the Apollo 11 landing site:

So the images are real, just carefully cropped and manipulated from low quality source and presented with a false claim that they are impossibly “billowing” in the wrong directions. How this is any sort of hoax claim is hard to imagine. After all, someone would have to go to a lot of trouble to MAKE this happen, it’s not like a flag would be very likely to “billow” identically in two different directions in two different shots on its own.

In fact, the flag is not billowing at all. It’s hanging motionless from a metal rod. The rod is too short for the flag so that the fabric can be gathered like a curtain, to sort of simulate waving, but w the moon, they found the end retained the curl from having spent months packed tightly inside a narrow plastic tube. There may also be static electricity at play, this being nylon in a perfectly dry environment.

But okay, it’s a silly claim, but let’s take a look.

First the right image. This is the highest resolution available for this image, blown up to match the size of the left image, and I defy anyone to definitively determine whether any of the folds are towards or away from the camera. The only thing clear in this fuzzy frame is that the flag is fairly opaque. It’s hard to tell from this frame, but we know from the log and from the other picture that the curl near the end of the strips is not a simple bend or roll but is bunched, so it makes sense that it will cast a similar shadow on both sides (it is is similar, but not identical).

Now the left image. Here it’s quite clear that this is not a flag billowing in the breeze but is creased and crumpled cloth. The “billow” indeed appears to project toward the camera on both sides–it isn’t a billow, it’s a gather or bunch.: The shadow is similar but not identical on each side, and what should be the upper left corner (the little flap protruding a third of the way from the bottom, clearly is on the side facing the camera. Going back, the same protrusion is clearly behind the flag in the right image.

And the more you compare the images, considering the stripes are pointing almost directly into the sun, you can see that we are looking at mirror faces of the same, non-moving flag. The fold in the lower stripes in the left image covers one star that remains visible in the right image. A fold at the bottom of the “billow” in the right image is covered in the left. Looking at the ripples where the stars attach to the the rod, the ripples occur in precisely the same spot in each frame, but the prominently lit star in the upper right of the left image is hidden in shadow in the right–the ripples are reversed as they should be.

So like everything put forth by the hoax monkeys, close analysis of good source material only counters the claim.

Forget the conspiracies. Get some intentional fiction free from C Stuart Hardwick

About This Moon Malarky

I try to be tolerant and understanding of other people’s positions, but moon-hoax conspiracultists really get my dander up. I mean….I mean…no, we’ll come back to that.
My recent post, Yes virginia we really did land on the moon has been very popular, and prompted someone on Quora to asked what are the best pieces of evidence that the moon landings were faked. Well, there are none. No, really. None at all. There are only assertions made by people who have absolutely. No. Clue:
  • No stars in pictures (camera stopped down for lunar surface )
  • Flags waving (held by wire)
  • Apollo 11 flag “billowing ” (it was curled from long storage)
  • No blast crater under the LEM (early engine cutoff was to prevent cratering)
  • Dust around the lander. Or something.
  • Non-parallel shadows. (The moon has terrain)
  • Seemingly identical backgrounds. (when kilometers away)
  • Lander unable to balance itself on a rocket. (Like Surveyor and Lunakod did? Like space-X did–YESTERDAY–with six times the gravity and cross winds?)
  • Lunar trainer impossible to fly. (It was not, except when it broke).
  • No flames from lunar launch. (small UDMH engine in a vacuum)
  • Herky-jerky movement of LEM (in low frame rate engineering camera films)
  • No RCS plumes (in same footage with shutter speed less than thruster duration)
  • Astronauts footage shot in slow-motion (demonstrably not so)
  • Why was every picture perfect? (Because NASA didn’t put the crappy ones in Life—but they are on the website)
  • Missing crosshairs in photos (because LIGHT)
  • The deadly radiation of space (is not deadly for a mere camping trip)


Every single assertion made by these hoaxicanians only demonstrates their own ignorance of physics, optics, basic science, basic math, how to keep a secret (tell only two people–then kill them), how rockets work, how air works, how inertia works, the effects of radiation on the human body, how static charge affects objects, the state of electronics in the 1960s, how TV works, gravity–and EVERY OTHER SINGLE THING

But that’s okay. If it will make the world a better place and my blog a busier nexus of nerd-dom, I’m prepared to refute every single claim by any hoaxicanian anywhere, no matter how daft or ditsy–if that’s what you all would like.

But first, what think ye of this quick and dirty stab? Does this do it in a nutshell? Want more? Have a few dozen more assertions to add to my list (I’ve heard some doozies)? Let me know. The more the merrier.

Why Are There No Stars On the Moon?

Moon hoax wackadoos have long complained that we couldn’t have gone to the moon because there are no stars in the pictures. It all had to have been shot on a sound stage. By idiots. Too stupid to think of the stars.

Right. Actually, prominent stars in the Apollo picture would have been suspicious. As anyone who’s ever played around with a camera at night can tell you, stars are only a little brighter than moon hoaxers. We went to the moon in the daytime. When you set a camera’s exposure to capture shiny spacecraft and smiling ‘nauts posing on a gleaming lunar surface, the stars kinda fade away. They ARE there, though, if you look for them.

This is frame 5905 from magazine 40 shot during Apollo 11. Stars are clearly visable at full res (
AS14-64-9197, from EVA2 on Apollo 14:
That’s Earth up in the sky, and Venus to the right of the antenna. Blow this image up and you can see a number of the brighter stars.
Here is 9207 from magazine 64, with a number of stars clearly in evidence even without full resolution:
And here is a color shot from magazine 67 showing a few dim stars, the brightest directly above the lunar ranging retroreflector:
The stars are right where they are supposed to be. The only mystery is, why a bunch of numnuts who don’t understand such a fundamental aspect of photography as exposure, presume to attempt photoanalysis in the first place.
By the way, these are all scans from prints, available at Apollo 14 Lunar Surface Journal


As always, skepticism is healthy, paranoid delusion, less so. Have your own favorite example of moon hoaxican tripping over their own brains? Leave a comment and share.

How Can I Improve My Writing?

Increasingly, I am asked by aspiring writers of various levels how they can improve their writing. This is a sufficiently common question, that warrants a sufficiently long answer, that I’ve decided to post the answer here for future reference.

How to improve your writing:

Join a critique group. No matter your skill level, the hardest thing for any writer to learn is to see through the eyes of readers. No writing book, course, or lecture can take the place of real live feedback from disinterested strangers looking at your work. Your local writers guild probably has a list of local groups in your area, or if you prefer, there are now many good online critique services. In addition, most good critique sites offer a host of forums and resources that can be invaluable to you.

I have tried and can recommend and, both of which have free options. Critters is also a reputable service, though I found it less conducive to building relationships with critiquers and other writers. I can’t personally recommend Wattpad or Amazon’s WriteOn, as they seem to me too focused on the superficial, and I fear they may be designed to feed the fantasy of the aspirant more than to instill the skills of the serious writer.

Do not reply to critiquers to explain, justify, defend, or argue. Just say thanks, move on and use or don’t use their feedback as you see fit. Learn to see the truth beneath the comment, even when the comment is wrong.

Read like a writer. Read a lot, especially award-winning work in and beyond your genre. Study these tales as instructional samples. Look at formatting and punctuation, especially dialogue and dialog attribution. Move on to pacing, tone, word choice.

Some writing gurus advise reading bad prose in order to learn by counterexample. That’s a terrible idea. Humans learn by imitation, and until you have found your voice, you will tend to sound like whatever author you just read, be it Tolstoy’s translator or Edward Bulwer-Lytton. You can, however, learn a great deal by studying the masters from an earlier age and cringing over their self-indulgences. Nathaniel Hawthorn, for example, had a knack for saying something wonderfully, then saying it again (wonderfully) and then again (also wonderfully). This isn’t the nineteenth century. We can’t get away with that anymore, but if we can just come up with one “wonderfully” at a time, we’re good.

Stop trying to impress. Beginning writers invariably overwrite. They fluff up their prose with fresh ten-gallon words and flowery description. They invert standard sentence order incessantly. They use metaphors that leave readers scratching their heads, and they use metaphors entirely too much. They try too hard to be philosophical, to pull at the heart, to be dark and obscure and literary. Knock it off. Relax. Tell a good story. Make it clear. The rest will come with practice.

Look for the “Telling Detail.” Beginners, lacking confidence, often bury their story under the weight of unnecessary and often repetitive detail. Learn to recognize the one or two key details—in a setting, character, conversation, etc.—that implies everything else the reader needs to know. Better to give one bit of description that implies character and mood, say, than to spell out all three in long winded prose.

Master the basics. Become an expert on grammar, usage, punctuation, manuscript formatting, and vocabulary. As a writer, you will often break the rules, but you can only do so confidently and cogently if you know what they are in the first place. And by the way, many of the rules you were likely taught in elementary school are simply wrong. Often, they were contrived to steer students away from common sources of confusion. Learn those sources and avoid them—and learn when to ignore those sorts of rules.

Here are some resources to help you:

Do not for a moment think you can rely on a grammar checker, or tools like Grammarly or Autocrit/Procrit. These can be helpful learning aids. They flag what they think are errors, and you research to decide whether they are right or not. Once you master the basics, you’ll find these tools are no longer almost ever right, and then you don’t need them any more.

Don’t accept shortcuts. The late Christopher Hitchens was fond of saying he reckoned “everyone has one book in him….and in the great majority of cases, that’s just where it should remain.” If you want to write as a hobby, that’s fine. It’s great therapy, a sort of thematic extended diary. No one wants to see that, but that’s okay. Meanwhile, there are frankly more aspiring writers than the world has need of. A great many spend an inordinate amount of time complaining that their chosen pariahs (agents, editors, purchasers, publishers, name-brand bookstores, the public, “gatekeepers,” etc. are conspiring to keep their voice from being heard. Well this is nonsense. All those “gatekeepers” make money by getting great works into the public’s hands. They want you to be great, but the cold reality is, if you aren’t, there are always others in the slush who may be. For many writers today, the greatest threat to eventual greatness is the impatient unwillingness to invest in their craft. Don’t be one of the whiners.You have little control of luck and taste, so focus on what you do control, attitude and industry.

Which leads me too…if you are really seriousgrind about writing…

Write a million critiqued words. No kidding. Ten long novels worth of your best effort, edited and polished, critiqued and revised, and most of it tossed in the forever file. That’s what it takes.

Dave Farland, first reader and lead judge for the Writers of the Future contest talks about “confident writing” as the ineffable divide between professional quality work and “not there yet.” I can’t explain what Dave means by “confident writing” any better than he can, but I understand it perfectly. Read sparkling pro-quality stories until you see it, and then you know what you’re shooting for.


What do you think? Have a good resource I should add? Want to suggest another tip? Leave a comment and let me know.


Wifi AC — Worth the Upgrade

Yesterday, I posted about my adventurous emergency wifi replacement. Today, the last puzzle piece fell in place.

You might recall that I write at a treadmill desk. You might even recall–if you’re a stalker of some sort–that I don’t use the wifi on the Dell Inspirion All-in-One computer mounted to the treadmill. The Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 wireless network adapter in this machine is universally reviled and, when packed inside the radio-noise infested confines of the All-In-One computer, it’s utter garbage.

Seriously, Dell. What were you thinking?

So, for the last couple of years since I set this puppy up, I’ve had it connected via Cat5 Ethernet cable to my old Linksys WRT-G wireless router, running an opensource firmware that lets me use it as a wireless repeater. That works well except that there is something wrong with the Linksys WRT-G, and not just with mine. Something causes it to drop connections and loose its DNS mind several times a week. This was why I replaces it as my wifi router to start with, and to my amazement, the firmware overhaul had no effect whatever on the problem. So..a week ago I got fed up with the frequent rebooting and ordered myself a new Amped REC15A Wireless AC range extender:amped

I choose this little dude for one simple reason: it has a cat5 connection. It’s also handy that it plugs right into the wall, so no shelf space is needed. The extender is simplicity itself. You plug it in, tell it how to connect to your network, and it broadcasts its own dual-band wireless ac networks that more distance devices can connect to. Nice, if you need that.

I turned the extended wireless off. All I want is the cat5 cable connection to my treadmill workstation. Done.


So here are the results on my new network:

Download speeds….
using the Dell’s crappy built-in wifi through the new Netgear 4X AC router: 0.15Mbps
using the Dell All-in-one through the WRT-G as a repeater: 5.8Mbps
using the Dell’s built-in wifi through the Amped extender wifi network: 5.8 Mbps
using Cat5 cable through the Amped as repeater: 28.8 Mbps average

And using my little chromebook running xubuntu over the Netgear’s AC wifi? Up to 56Mbps!

Apparently, Netgear routers work on sorcery. My cable connection is only 10Mbps.

So that’s sorted, then.





Wifi Come Home

So, I have a new wifi router. TECH WARNING. TECH WARNING. TECH WARNING.
Day before yesterday, as I’m getting ready to go to bed early for a 3 am work call that I am facilitating, the network craps out. Actually, the wireless is fine, but the router can’t reach the Internet. Great. Comcast is very helpful, and although my cable modem appears to be working fine, suggests it, being near end of life, might be causing a problem. Great.
World’s fasted trip to Best Buy later and I have a new cable modem.
Naturally, that’s not the problem.The problem is the ASUS RN66-U Wireless N router I bought last year. They’ll repair it of course, like I can wait weeks for that to happen. So I run my work meeting over cat 5, with no phone, sitting in the closet with the modem. Then I have to drive the kids to school and attend a half-day mandatory training. Swell. Thank God for coffee.
I still have another 3 am call coming up. On the way home, I swing by Office Depot and buy a Netgear – Nighthawk X4 AC2350. This has high ratings, excellent coverage, whole new level of speed, great. Get it home. There’s no power adapter in the box.
So I run back to the Best Buy and buy another one from them ($30 cheaper). In the car, I carefully open it and find the power adapter inside. Excellent. Then I drive next door to a different Office Depot, and they are nice enough to take the return with no fuss. Yeah, I know, the manufacturers hate it when you do that. They want you to mail it to them and make them look good to their distributors, LIKE THAT’S GONNA HAPPEN.
So on two hours sleep and a gallon of coffee, I set it up. It’s ginormous, like a pizza box had a love child with a horseshoe crab. r7500_3-4rt2_transparent_082014
It’s so big it won’t fit on the “wiring shelf” I put in the closet. I hung it on the wall, accepted the defaults, and calldc it a night (okay, an afternoon).
So great. We’re back in business. Today, I put it through it’s paces. True to the hype, this thing puts out enough radio jazzam to light up a fluorescent tube at twenty paces. By which I mean, I can connect from the sidewalk, a house away in either direction. Not just connect, but get 13 GB per second download speed. Nice. Inside?
Screenshot from 2016-02-27 19:35:18
What the…56Mbps? I only have 10Mbps service!
I assume the cable company is just giving me extra juice at the moment. They do that, because they have extra capacity to make sure they meet their contracted SLAs.  But it’s for real. My Internet is now faster than at the office. If I load Pandora, it’s playing as soon as the page loads, 7 seconds after hitting Enter.
I like.

Support Your Favorite Authors

Ye Olden Times

My mother always wanted to be an author. She went so far as to give me what she thought was a writerly name and to send a few pages off to an editor who was kind enough to write back with encouragement and advice. In those days, most editors saw it as part of their job to help find and nurture the next crop of writers. Agents would take on new clients and then eat their commission through the first unprofitable, formative years as a writer found his or her wings.

Those days are gone.

In this branded, Internet age, publishers, editors, and agents face grueling competition from every direction. They still try to find and foster new talent, but everything they do must be funded from the profits from the big brands in their portfolio. It’s a dangerous game. If they invest too little in the future, they’ll slowly starve, to much and they’re bankrupt tomorrow.

Today, you almost can’t sell a non-fiction book without a built-in audience from Youtube, a contentious term in Congress, or prime-time news coverage of you taking a bullet to save a kitten. And we fiction authors are not far behind.  Anyone with a credit card can publish a book. Millions do each year. Publishers, increasingly, struggle to get their big guns out in front of consumers, to say nothing of the little guys or the new guys.

So how does this affect you as a reader? In two ways: First, you have your pick of more new reading material than ever before, though must of it, to paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, is that one book that everyone has in him but which, in most cases, is just where it should remain. Second, you can help.

How you can help good writing

  1. Be understanding. Yes, some writers are downright obnoxious in their obsessive desperation to self-promote, but we have to toot our own horn. Any writer who doesn’t maintain a mailing list, who doesn’t add a promotional footer to email and social media interactions, simply isn’t doing his or her job. I try to keep mine simple, tasteful, and whenever possible, humorous, but it has to be done.Screenshot - 02272016 - 01:58:47 PM
  2. Spread The Word. Liking and following on social media is awesome–thank you! But you know what’s even awesomer? Sharing. Retweeting. Blogging. When you do that, your peeps can see what you like and your author gets badly needed exposure.
  3. Visit Their Website. We built it for you. Visit it and report any problems you see, then sign up for the newsletter, request the freebie, and pass the word to your like-minded friends.
  4. Review Their Work. Goodreads and Amazon are just two places where you can rate and review books and magazine issues you like. Reviews help sell all products these days,  but they especially help with books by increasing the attention they get online. Have a blog or Youtube channel? Post a review, start a discussion, or just tweet a selfie of yourself with the book–or an “in the wild” photo of the book on a bookstore shelf. God, how we love those.
  5. Review the author. Love an author’s latest–and not for the first time? Think of why you like it–what it is that speaks to you–and post on that. One of my favorite parts of my website is a little scrolling list of kind words from readers.
  6. Pre-order that Novel. Preorders mean everything to new authors with a book contract. Really. Preorder it. Pre-order a copy for gifting, for the library, for the school. Tie up your friends, er…I mean…talk your friends into pre-orpodiumdering too.
  7. Nominate us. Attending Worldcon? YOU can nominate for the Hugos and the Campbell. Know all that “Sad Puppies” kerfuffle last year? That was only possible because almost no one ever does. Nominate and vote for awards big and small, international and local. We love that. A lot. Really.
  8. Come see us! We authors, we do these things called book signings? You know…you buy or bring a book and we open it up and scribble, “Dear Sally, I was told there would be donuts,” or something like that. Do that. You know what really makes our day? Smiling, happy readers. We love you. Really. We do it all for you. Well, at least half for you. Well you’re in there somewhere, anyway. And if you don’t come see us at Barns & Noble, we’ll have to post another selfie with the barista in the coffee shop, and no one wants that. Seriously. No one.

Get My Free Sampler

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This is an offer from C Stuart Hardwick, not an advertiser. Your email will never be spammed or sold.


See what I did there? 🙂

Outer Spacey Music

The media has been all abuzz today with amazing “revelations” of alien music heard by the crew of Apollo 10 on the dark side of the moon and “classified” until 2008.


Got a source for that guys? A source other than Fox News or the Interwebs? Cause I do, and it’s not classified, it’s right on the official web site of Nasa’s history office:

Some Apollo data was classified at the time (remember the Cold War and the Space Race?) and some of it might not have been released in a timely manner due to oversight, but there was certainly no special treatment given to this event on some “spooky” account. How do I know? Simple. I read the freakin transcript.

Here’s the deal. Apollo 10 went to the moon and did everything but touch down. They detached the LEM and maneuvered in space, the CSM and the LEM, orbiting together as the LEM prepared to go down on a checkout flight. The idea was to run through a landing, but do a planned abort to test the ascent propulsion system and guidance without getting too low for rescue by the CSM in case of failure.

What is being reported as some great mystery is this exchange, plainly recorded in the publicly available transcript just as they were testing their radar (Snoopy is the Lunder lander, flying free of the CSM):

102:12:53 Stafford (in Snoopy): You want some more brownies?

102:12:54 Cernan (in Snoopy): No.

102:12:56 Stafford (in Snoopy): [Garbled] go hungry.

102:13:02 Cernan (in Snoopy): That music even sounds outer-spacey, doesn’t it? You hear that? That whistling sound? (This is the first mention of the sound.)

102:13:06 Stafford (in Snoopy): Yes.

102:13:07 Cernan (in Snoopy): Whooooooooooo.

102:13:12 Young (in CSM): Did you hear that whistling sound, too?

102:13:14 Cernan (in Snoopy): Yeah. Sounds like – you know, outer-space-type music.

102:13:18 Young: I wonder what it is.

102:13:20 (Cernan and Stafford discuss burned insulation outside their LEM windows.)

102:13:29 Cernan (in Snoopy): – eerie, John?

102:13:34 Young: Yes, I got it, too. I was going to see who was outside.

102:13:45 Stafford (in Snoopy): You mark that set of features, Gene-o. I’m going to fix us some grape juice. OK? (Stafford is clearly taking Young’s remark as a joke. All is well.)

. . .[The next three minutes are spent discussing photography of a lunar crater, altitude and range, and how well the radar is performing.]. . .

102:17:58 Cernan (in Snoopy): Boy, that sure is weird music.

102:18:01 Young: We’re going to have to find out about that. Nobody will believe us.

102:18:07 Cernan (in Snoopy): No. It’s a whistling, you know, like an outer space-type thing. (He means like a theramin, commonly used in scifi movies of his youth. In fact, it sounds more like a lightning strike creating shortwave radio noise that travels around the ionosphere back on earth, but its much more uniform than that.)


102:18:10 Young: Probably due to the VHF ranging, I’d guess. (Yeah, that’s what it sounds like to me too, either that or electrical noise from static charge movement we now know to occur near the lunar terminator due to the solar wind.)

102:18:16 Cernan (in Snoopy): Yes. I wouldn’t believe there’s anyone out there. OK, Tom, I’m going to call up P20 (Program 20, universal tracking–using the radar).

102:18:26 Cernan (in Snoopy): We want to pressurize our APS here. You get your Rendezvous Radar breakers all In?

102:18:29 Stafford (in Snoopy): Oh, yes. I’m locked on to him (The LEM radar is locked onto the CSM)

102:18:31 Cernan (in Snoopy): OK.

102:18:42 Stafford (in Snoopy): It may be a side lobe (The “music” might be a side lope of the radar beam interfering with the radio.

102:19:01 Stafford (in Snoopy): It’s weird, isn’t it?

102:19:03 Cernan (in Snoopy): Isn’t that weird?

102:19:11 Stafford (in Snoopy): I think that’s a side lobe.

102:19:15 Cernan (in Snoopy): Is it? Huh?

102:19:17 Stafford (in Snoopy): Yep.

And there you go. Later analysis confirmed the cause to be interference between the VHF radio gear on the two spacecraft. The great mysterious “space music,” which according to “News” reports was “classified till 2008” was just the rendezvous radar leaking into the radio spectrum. You know, my college radio station had sideband leakage into the shortwave bands, and even though our transmission was FM, we once got a letter from a guy 600 miles away in Illinois saying he listened on shortwave (AM).

I’m not sure where this “classified” recording would have come from. Apollo uses a special recorder to store voice and instrument data for compressed transmission back to earth. The recordings were transcribed back in the ’70s, and stuck in a warehouse somewere. The have been out on the Internet for a few years, but there is no good index and the recordings are raw. Crew voices are often inaudible beneath the thrum of the instrument signal data. It’s possible someone went looking for the “music” and was able to extract it from the background noise. It would not be surprising if it survived, given that it was heard over the radio by both the CSM and LEM.

At any rate, it wasn’t little green DJ’s playing “Space Music.” It was interference from the rendezvous radar other radio emmissions from the two spacecraft, and the (rather obvious) testement to that fact is the crew’s reaction: Hey what’s that? The Radio. Great, want some juice.

As if going to the freakin moon isn’t entertaining enough.


And the Nominees are!

Check it out–check it out!
The nominees are out, and my friends, Beth Cato and Martin L. Shoemaker are up for the Nebula!


Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)


Wings of Sorrow and Bone, Beth Cato (Harper Voyager Impulse)
‘‘The Bone Swans of Amandale’’, C.S.E. Cooney (Bone Swans)
‘‘The New Mother’’, Eugene Fischer (Asimov’s 4-5/15)
‘‘The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn’’, Usman T. Malik ( 4/22/15)
Binti, Nnedi Okorafor (
‘‘Waters of Versailles’’, Kelly Robson ( 6/10/15)


‘‘Rattlesnakes and Men’’, Michael Bishop (Asimov’s 2/15)
‘‘And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’’, Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed 2/15)
‘‘Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds’’, Rose Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/11/15)
‘‘The Ladies’ Aquatic Gardening Society’’, Henry Lien (Asimov’s 6/15)
‘‘The Deepwater Bride’’, Tamsyn Muir (F&SF 7-8/15)
‘‘Our Lady of the Open Road’’, Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 6/15)

Short Story

‘‘Madeleine’’, Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15)
‘‘Cat Pictures Please’’, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
‘‘Damage’’, David D. Levine ( 1/21/15)
‘‘When Your Child Strays From God’’, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 7/15)
‘‘Today I Am Paul’’, Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld 8/15)
‘‘Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers’’, Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)


Six Top Lesson From Winning Writers Of the Future

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Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

Ex Machina, Written by Alex Garland
Inside Out, Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original Story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Jessica Jones: AKA Smile, Teleplay by Scott Reynolds & Melissa Rosenberg; Story by Jamie King & Scott Reynolds
Mad Max: Fury Road, Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
The Martian, Screenplay by Drew Goddard
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Written by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt


Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
Seriously Wicked, Tina Connolly (Tor Teen)
Court of Fives, Kate Elliott (Little, Brown)
Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK 5/14; Amulet)
Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Big Mouth House)
Zeroboxer, Fonda Lee (Flux)
Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine)
Bone Gap, Laura Ruby (Balzer + Bray)
Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

So proud. So envious. Must write faster!

Meet The Winners! Kate Julicher

Greetings fellow readers! Allow me to introduce this year’s Writers of the Future Published Finalist, the very lovely, Kate Julicher.


Author Kate Julicher

Stuart: Hi Kate! It was great meeting you at Superstars earlier this month, tell my readers a bit about yourself.

Kate: I’m actually only half of the KD Julicher team. My husband and I collaborate closely – you might say intimately – on everything I write. My role is to be the “hands on keyboard”. We toss ideas around through emails during the work day or on weekend expeditions into the mountains around our home or over dinner. Then I sit down and write a draft, then we edit it together with a fine-tooth comb, lots of wine, and hopefully no need for marital counseling.

Oh, and I keep trains from crashing into each other.

Stuart: Wow! Any talents or hobbies, aside from the train thing?

Kate: I sing a lot. Not professionally, but it seems like once a month someone comes up after church and says “you should join the choir!”. I don’t think it’s because I’m that good, I think it’s just that I’m loud and enthusiastic.

Stuart: Enthusiasm definitely counts! So how’d you get into writing?

Kate: I’ve always been a writer. I wrote on that “story paper” you get in kindergarten, the stuff with the big lines and space at the top for art. I spent three years in fanfiction as a teenager and then discovered NaNoWriMo, which I’ve done every year since 2002 and only failed once. About four years ago we decided to get serious and went from NaNovelists to working at the craft year-round.

Stuart: Ha ha! I remember “story paper.” How long have you been entering WotF?

Kate: Two years ago I decided to enter every quarter of WotF until I won or pro’d out. I’ve racked up 4 HMs, 3 finalists. One of those won the Baen Fantasy Adventure contest in 2014.

Stuart: All right! Way to go, Kate! Okay, Star Trek or Star Wars?

Kate. Yes? I grew up on Star Trek. For a while it was the only thing my parents would let us watch. I saw the whole Star Wars trilogy at one sitting when I was 13 and it really fired my imagination. Right now I am enjoying the new Star Wars movie more than the new Trek movies but I would love to be won back over by Trek.

Stuart: Fair enough. Hey…what’s that…who’s shining that light in my eyes?

Kate: Winks.

Stuart: Pantser or Plotter?

Kate: Definite plotter. If I have a detailed scene-by-scene outline when I sit down I can whip out a first draft in no time flat. That said I leave enough room for my characters to surprise me.

Stuart: Very impressive. How do you come up with the outline?

Kate: My husband and I throw ideas back and forth at each other for a while. Then I sit down and start plotting in Scrivener. I set up a new project, break things into three acts, and start dumping in the events I know will happen as separate scenes.  I use the notecard function to jot down some notes for each scene. I’ll put in placeholders in between the scenes I know about, and start filling in. Usually at this point my writing brain is active and things just start to click. I also like to put in a word count estimate on each scene. If I’ve got multiple POVs, I color-code the scenes. Then I look and say, ok, this part needs to be longer, I need another Lord Evilpants chapter here, etc.

After that we’ll ideally go over the outline and make sure it makes sense. Then I sit down to write. If I’ve done this outline right, the writing part is pretty darn fast. I wrote a 120,000-word draft last November for NaNoWriMo, thanks to this system. It’s got some flaws and the pre-writing part can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months, but I feel like the resulting product is strong.

I’m looking to upgrade this process to the next level by incorporating scene/sequel plotting as described in Deborah Chester’s “The Fantasy Fiction Formula” but I only just got that book so I haven’t actually tried yet.

Stuart: What’s the nuttiest thing that ever happened to you?

Kate: My boss wouldn’t let me quit my job.

No, seriously, I went in saying, “Sorry, love you guys, but my husband got a job offer a thousand miles away, here’s my two weeks’ notice” and they said “Wait wait, how about you work for us remotely?” Eight years and three moves since, I have either the longest or the shortest commute of anyone I know. It only takes me thirty seconds to stroll down the hall to the living room, but if I have to actually go to the office, that’s an all-day flight…

Stuart: Hola! If you had a superpower other than enrapturing employers, what would it be?

Kate: Can I have Hermione’s Time-Turner instead? I work full time, raise my daughter, and try to put in 3-4 hours a day on writing related stuff. As a result I often feel like Bilbo: “Butter that’s been scraped over too much bread”.

Stuart: Done! Now where did I put that thing….oh well, here’s a bagel. Er…next question. What was your favorite toy growing up?

Kate: The woods out back. We had a narrow lot that stretched out for what felt like miles, all wooded and hilly, with a four-foot ravine along one edge to play in and fallen trees to turn into forts. We’d go out after lunch and just be gone all day.>

Stuart: Ha ha! Me too. That tree made it into my upcoming Analog story, in fact. My sister and I were always secret agents looking for missing isotopes–whatever those were. If you adopted a unique wardrobe tag (ala Dr. Who’s scarf/bowtie etc.), what might it be?

Kate: My husband and I had custom-fitting hats made recently by a local hatmaker. He used this steampunk tophat device to measure our heads, and then shaped the hats to our heads. I love my fedora, I wear it every time I go out.

Stuart: Tell us about your winning story.

Kate: I’ve had three finalists at WotF now and they’re actually all in the same world, though that is not obvious at first glance. Swords Like Lightning, Hooves like Thunder is one of my favorites. It starts with the heroine running desperately from the enemies that have captured her brother. She meets a mysterious stranger and goes on a journey into a strange, exciting new world. This story actually sprang from an offhand reference to a legend that I wrote into an as yet unpublished novel. I started wondering just what that story had looked like to the people who lived it…. Interestingly, my other published story, The Golden Knight, was the second legend referenced in that same novel, and I wrote it for the same reason.

Stuart: Do you prefer fantasy or scifi?

Kate: You’d think as a software engineer who was reading hard SF at twelve ,that would be my passion, but I’ve been drawn to traditional fantasy. I like stories about duty and honor and sacrifice. I also really like using family, marriage, and relationships as plot motivators, and that tends to work better in fantasy.

Stuart: Well awesome, Kate. Enjoy the WotF workhop, it’s definitely a bit of fairytale come true.

Follow Kate at, and check out The Golden Knight at