Aphelion Issue 254, Volume 24
September 2020
 
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Hello and welcome to the September 2020 issue of Aphelion!

We finally got a break from the heat wave here in Georgia. I don't know how long it will last, so I'm determined to enjoy it as long as it does. I expect the heat to return, even if only briefly, before Autum arrives. For some, this week and weekend would normally be DragonCon. For obvious reasons, that, and several other conventions, are taking place online rather than in person. People are determined to have fun, visit with their friends, and try to mke the best of a bad situation.

Another thing that has quickly become normal are stream-casts. Like podcasts, but with video. The new acceptance of Zoom meetings, Streamyard, Skype, and other similar online meeting sites has provided a taste of what IRC chats used to be like as a social meet-up avenue. Some of us old timers still do text-based chats. For instance, there is a monthly IRC chat for Larry Niven fans that has been going on longer than Aphelion has existed. Larry, himself, tries to show up for an hour or so every month. Jerry Pournelle would grace us with his presence infrequently. Ed Lerner was a frequent visitor while he and Larry were colaborating on the "Of Worlds" series of Ringworld books. It's always a lot of fun. Yesterday, for instance, our group being the very definition of Topic Drift, started off talking about racing in Sci-Fi, then changed gears to debate the reality of "hyperspace monsters," then changed again to debating the existence of Mist Demons on Larry's planet of Plateau--which orbits the star Tau Ceti. We then debated how they would evolve. After that, we drifted into discussions of raising chickens, then to gardening. All in all, a good day's chat.

As I said before, live-streaming video chats are becoming more normal. I've gotten involved with a few of those lately. Joe McKeel's Stupid O'Clock and his Armchair Rocket Science are two. Stupid O'Clock is twice weekly, 9 PM EST on Thursdays and 11 PM EST on Saturdays. It's like being at a convention, and walking into one of those random discussions between groups of old friends who share some wildly different interests, as well as some which coincide. Armchair Rocket Science is set around watching rocket launches, so its schedule depends on when someone launches or lands something. I'm one of the regulars on SO'C, and have occasionally had time to be on ARS. I've been invited to be a guest on a few author interview shows as well. Those are very much like being on a panel at a convention.

These live-streams are much like today's online classes for students--in that they're using the same sorts of platforms. The subjet matter is different, but the tech is the same. Kids have already been doing video chats with each other on their cell phones or tablets for years. This is just grownups catching up to the kids, really. Everyone deserves to have some fun in their lives.

Live-streaming conventions are much the same. Someone schedules a panel, sends the link to the expected guests, then publically posts links to a site where the panels can be viewed. Afterward, the recorded panels can be archived on YouTube, or other video archive sites, so that even if you miss something live, you can find it and wach later on. If you look around, you'll be able to find anything that interests you.

For now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my Labor Day holiday weekend. Still have some yard work and housekeeping to do while I have an extra day off from work.

About time I quit talking and let you get to reading!

Dan 

 



ON THE COVER

Title: Title: Roaring Perseverance Launch

Courtesy: NASA/Joel Kowsky