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Sketchbook HarvestNanofiction

Forgotten Heroes of the Space Race

We started losing when the Chief Designer died; after the N1 rocket exploded, only we robots could continue the race. My sister, Luna-15, tried to bring back the first rocks, but she crashed even as her rivals orbited nearby. But I'm proud of Mother Russia, for I am the first motorcar on the Moon.


"Tatooine orbits a binary star system. Yet in all the scenes we only see single shadows."
- Phil Plait

Cool Words

froward (froe'-werd) adj. stubbornly contrary and disobedient; obstinate

Haiku Reviews

Waking Ned Devine :-|

Call me a cynic
but inflation's going to
tear that town apart.
Daddy-O's Reviews

Fantastic Planet

The best way I can think of to describe this amazing animated science fiction story (a French-Czech film from 1973) is as a combination of Battlefield Earth and the Codex Seraphinianus. It tells the story of Ter, a human orphan who grows up as little girl's pet on the incredibly strange planet where gigantic blue aliens are dominant and humans live in the wild.

Tirade's Choice

Work Well With Others
Fruits of Chaos
Egyptian Pyramids
#12's Webcomic picks

Thursday, October 21, 1999
by the Wunderland Toast Society

New this week:

What's New? The Dream Becomes Reality / The Pop-Tart Cafe

A dream we've been chasing for over 10 years became a reality this week: at long last, we have mass produced Icehouse pieces in our hot little hands. It was an incredible joy to see Icehouse pieces, in little formations of 3, popping out of the mold like you see here, in this amazing action shot. I put up a page of initial photos last Friday; since then, KLON has made green and blue pieces, and they're planning to start running the reds sometime today. At the same time, TJ's Print Shop has been hard at work on the rule booklets, and they too are expected to be done by the end of this week. All of this means that, unless something goes wrong, we should be able to start sending out the pre-ordered sets a week earlier than last week's estimate, i.e. at the begining of next week. Wow! Keep your toes crossed...

Meanwhile, I won the Jury Duty Lottery this week, and got the big payoff, too: I'm on a jury. Of course, with everything we've got going on right now, the timing on this just plain sucks... particularly since I ended up on a comparatively long trial, expected to last almost a week. The trial isn't over yet, which not only means that I really had to rush to get this week's update done, but also means that I can't talk about the case right now. But I will say that it involves someone's death, and that it's apparently a significant enough case that there've been reporters around (whom we've been instructed to avoid contact with). Some of my fellow jurors said yesterday that they'd had to studiously avoiding reading articles (in both the Washington Post and the Journal) about the trial, which had appeared earlier in the week. (It made me wish I had copies, so that I could read the articles later on, when it's over). Anyway, tune it next week and I'll let you know what happened.

We've finally firmed up our plans for Philcon: we're going to throw an Icehouse product release party, in our suite, on Saturday night!

For those who don't know, Philcon is a major science-fiction convention, held each November in Philadelphia. It has long been a favorite of many in the Icehouse community, and it's also a really good choice for throwing a hospitality suite, since Philcon is in general an excellent party convention. The hotel in which it's always held has a floorplan that is perfectly suited to meet the needs of roving con-goers, who want to systematically patrol the entire building, seeking out the best parties. The top floor is given over entirely to large suites, which are always the scene of big parties; but additionally there are 4 "junior" suites on each floor, each the perfect size for entertaining a crowd. (I have fond memories of several interactive literature games that took place in these rooms at Philcons in the past, including "Bleak Frontier" and "The Second Earth Assembly.")

So, we've booked ourselves a suite. We're going to call it the Pop-Tart Cafe, and we plan to set it up as something akin to the Saturn Cafe, with beaded curtains, synthesizer music, mood lighting, and 4 or 5 small gaming tables (several for the various Icehouse games, plus a couple for Fluxx and Aquarius). And of course, for refreshments, we'll be serving up a full menu of freshly toasted Pop-Tarts.

The whole thing should be a lot of fun, and we're getting pretty excited about it. Philcon takes place November 12-14th, so if you don't yet have plans for that weekend, you might want to consider coming out to Philly.

I feel the need to offer a little bit of explanation with today's Nanofiction, since it is, in essence, a true story. It's not well known, since it was a well-concealed secret project for decades, but the Russians were in the space race to win, and might have actually landed on the moon themselves if their enormous moon rocket, the N1, hadn't blown up every time they tried to launch it. But even after it became clear they'd never beat the NASA team in person, they still hoped to steal back a piece of the glory, by being the first to bring home samples of the lunar surface. The unmanned lander called Luna-15 was launched 3 days before Apollo 11, but it crashed into the surface during the landing attempt, just a few craters over from Tranquillity Base. A later mission did succeed, as did their unmanned rover, which drove around up there for weeks, sending back pictures... but we in America never heard about it. These news items were only of interest to those inside Russia, where coverage of the American moon landings was suppressed.

AndyHave you pre-ordered your Icehouse set yet?

New Iceland cartoonthe story so far

Thought Residue
53 Spades is back in print! (We've been out of stock for several weeks...)
"Its appearance was unusually silvery. It was the most silvery spaceship of all the spaceships that we ever produced and launched into space." - Alexei Leonov, first man to walk in space, commenting on the Vostock spacecraft
Our games are starting to show up in mail order catalogs! Fluxx is the Turn Off The TV catalog (page 31), The 3 Trolls are now carrying Aquarius (page 22), and both games are featured on the inside back cover of the Terrific Toys catalog.

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