First, Detcon1 has created an award for YA and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. Two awards will be given out. Anyone can nominate up to five titles. Only Detcon1 members (attending or supporting) will be able to vote on the final ballot, but if you’re not a member, you can still nominate. All nominations must be received by 11:59pm EST March 7th, so go nominate.
YA and Middle Grade works first published in 2013 are eligible. More details are available on the DetCon1 website .
Second, nestcam watch has begun. For those interested and keeping track, in the Midwest
- Iris, the Great Horned Owl, at the International Owl Center is currently sitting on two eggs
- Mom at the Decorah eagle nest laid her first egg of the season February 23rd and her second on February 26th. Cams of that nest and others can be found here.
For me, the best new news came Tuesday with the announcement that the Kepler space telescope had discovered over 700 new planets, over 100 of which are Earth-sized. (Full news article from Slate and Yahoo News). For a writer, this opens so many more possibilities once again.
Writing science fiction even just a few decades ago meant you had the option of creating your own planets and dreaming up names for them. No one could say that such a planet couldn't exist or that you had gotten your science “wrong”. But then the “hard science” crowd demanded more and more accuracy (not in itself a bad thing) and one got the impression that inventing planets (or stars) that didn't already exist was considered a bad thing.
For those who want to use what has been found, there are databases listing the new planets: the Open Exoplanet Catalogue, the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia, the Exoplanets Catalog, the NASA Exoplanet Archive, and the Exoplanet Orbit Database. These already have the new planets listed and will continue to add any new discoveries.
But for those who want to create and name their own planets, the possibilities are there once again.