Editorial & Letters
Planet says: The way to an alien's hearts is through its stomachs!


Skiffy Speech

I had not intended to discuss this difficult subject of Science Fiction at this particular time, what with the recent elections among the Muggles and the ongoing war against the Borg. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any Sci-Fi/Fantasy-but-not-horror-or-magical-realism-although-weird-SF-is-OK-related issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. The public has asked me how I feel about Science Fiction in general, given my stature in the free/no-pay-SF-Webzine arena and given the SF genre's far-seeing ideas and thus its national (if not pan-galactic) security implications. All right, here is how I feel about Science Fiction.

If when you say Science Fiction you mean the sub-literature spelled Sci-Fi and pronounced “skiffy”, the only friend of antisocial pimply youth, the movie in which you can hear explosions in space, that cheerfully disregards time-travel paradox, allows for raygun-toting space marines to wield cutlasses, and ensures sequels, the story which affixes a rainbow-colored unicorn's horn to the snout of a wise, magical dragon, creating fan-fiction clubs and their Web rings, yeah, the transdimensional demon who literally takes the space elves' pancakes from the mouths of little alien-hybrid children; if you mean the evil tales that topple the typical sitcom-watching man and woman from the pinnacle of normal TV habits into the bottomless pit of collecting all Babylon 5 episodes on enhanced DVD, while shamelessly dressed as a Minbari or, worse, as Neelix (or any other Talaxian, for that matter), or as Greedo the Rodian, or any other vaguely reptilian hominid from a completely different SF universe, or even if, may St. Leibowitz forfend, you mean one of the countless free SF-related Web-zines -- then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say Science Fiction you mean the geriatric spice (melange) of free thinking, the “Philip K. Dick-inspired” story, the extremely personal ideas that are consumed when fans converge for the weekend at a Ramada Inn near Philadelphia to celebrate Being Furry, the subculture that puts a Filk song in their hearts, the repeated quotation “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for!” on their lips, and a positronic glow of contentment in their huge, almond-shaped reflective eyes; if you mean annual Christmas-themed-Santa-is-really-a-Martian-issue cheer; if you mean the classic “City on the Edge of Forever” episode that puts the spring in the old rubber-Vulcan-ear-wearing nerd’s step on a morning that’s colder than the deep-space abode of V'Ger; if you mean the yarn which enables a Klingon-speaking grown man to magnify his obsession, and his mania, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's humdrum responsibilities, like family, work, and community, or life’s tragedies, like the cancelation of "Farscape", and the lack of intelligent nonhumans in "Firefly"; if you mean that kind of cartoonish Dune prequel, of which the sale of the movie and merchandising rights pours into Hollywood executives' personal treasuries untold millions of dollars, the taxes (net, not gross proceeds) on which are used to provide no-name “D” batteries for our plastic flashlight-saber-waving children, and a raison d'etre for our Jedi-worshipping teens, our Fedaykin-following adults, our ShadowSpawn-loving senior citizens, even our misfit applicants for foot soldiers in the Black Company, which is The Last of the Free Companies of Khatovar, and encourages young computer engineers to build even higher-resolution, Maxfield Parrish-like special effects at ILM for sweeping, plotless extravaganzas on the silver screen that could move even The Witch-king of Angmar to tears -- then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand on Science Fiction. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise, unless ordered to do so by The Shrike.

Andrew G. McCann, Editor
November 2002

(With Federation-certified apologies to N.S. Sweat, Jr. and his famous, and thankfully public-domain, "Whiskey Speech". Here's a link to the original: http://www.rdrop.com/users/jimka/whisky.html)




PLANET MAGAZINE'S ANNUAL REPORT

There's not much to say here, given zero revenue and zero profit for the preceding fiscal year (excluding monies, gifts, and favors from "Our Friends from The Stars Who Are Destined to Rule Us", which do not have to be reported under current U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, although, post-Enron/Worldcom/Etc., that could change). Even so, in an effort to seem responsible, we have jumped on the corporate cost-cutting bandwagon, and are looking for more and new ways to save money. Therefore, starting the day after whatever day you read this, we will be charging writers not only for sending their submissions to us, whether or not they are eventually published, but also for any e-mail communications of any kind with Planet. This goes for artists too, and even for readers. Even if you think about Planet Magazine, however fleetingly (even at the mitochondrial level), you should send us money. The flat rate is $10 per e-mail or thought, but we encourage you to pay more. If this works out as planned, we will start pulling in an annual profit that's well in excess of 175 tetrahedrillion space-dollars. Note that all of our revenue projections should be considered "pro forma" (which is Latin for "you wish").

At the same time, Planet will outsource all of its editing functions to some of the smaller of the former Confederation of Independent States, known prior to that as the USSR. Note that this will slow our turnaround time a bit for submissions, to anywhere from 6 months to 18 years (or maybe decades), since very few citizens of these non-English-speaking countries have computers, or much of a postal system, and might not know how to read, or write.

As for Planet's current editors, this outsourcing will free us up to focus on more long-range, big-idea projects, such as finding ways to distribute Planet to possible nano- or pico-sized civilizations, which may or may not be living in that glass of milk that's been sitting on the breakfast table all morning in Planet's Group Home.

Signed,
Andrew G. McCann
Chief Ceremonial Officer / Self-Taught Auditor
Planet Magazine



REGULATORY NOTE:

Planet Magazine (SM), a leading manufacturer of free Web-based science fiction zines, announced today that its President and Chief Executive Officer, Andrew G. McCann, and its Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Biedermeier X. Leeuwenhoek, have certified to the U.S. Science Fiction and Fantasy Commission that the Magazine's Quarterly Report on Form 2002-SFF for the quarterly period ended September 30, 2002, fully complies with the GASFFP (generally accepted SF & Fantasy principles) requirements of Section V (a) of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Act of 1984 and that the infotainment contained therein fairly presents, in all material respects, the dire financial condition and negative results of operations of the Company.

Signed,
Fudnoy Q. Blick
Recording Secretary
Planet Magazine



Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor: Hi. My name is Joe Sasson. I created a free kids (of all ages) website named theplanetw.com. It is sci-fi and fantasy oriented.
Joe Sasson
http://www.theplanetw.com



Dear Editor: This is Nadia Lemmon, and my husband is science fiction and fantasy writer Don Lemmon from http://www.planetofthegods.com. I invite your readers to visit our site. Planet of the Gods could have been your typical good-versus-evil fantasy novel, but it goes way deeper. If you are a Lord of the Rings or Star Wars fan... You'll become a Planet of the Gods fan overnight.
Sincerely,
Mrs. Lemmon 



Dear Editor: Odyssey, a six-week workshop for writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, held annually at Southern New Hampshire University, has announced its Summer 2003 session. The award-winning author Gene Wolfe will be the special writer-in-residence for the session.  New to the program this year are the Gandalf Grants, which were created to provide financial assistance to writers wishing to attend the Odyssey Writing Workshop. The 2003 guest lecturers are Melissa Scott, Roland J. Green, Bruce Holland Rogers, John Crowley, and literary agent Lori Perkins.  
Jeanne Cavelos, Director
JCavelos@sff.net
More Info: http://www.sff.net/odyssey



Letters to Failed 'Kwisatz Haderach' Candidates

Dear Count Hasimir Fenring: I built a time machine, and it worked. I left the year 1976, when I was 16 years old, and arrived here just last week. Unfortunately, I've found that time travel ages you one year for each year in the future that you travel. So I am now about 42. Not much of a benefit to me really, although I didn't have to go through all that college, career, marriage, mortgage, children, etc. stuff. So, anyway, if you see me on the street panhandling for funds for my Reverse Time Machine, please drop in a few extra dollars.
With Tear-Filled Eyes,
Watt. A. Screu-Oppe



Dear Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen: Have you ever noticed that you can't pick and choose the cable-TV channels you want -- like, keep HBO but dump CNN? And that you can't have your home phone and your cell phone link to the same number? And that you can't find toothbrush handles that are thin enough to fit into the toothbrush holders built into the walls? And that you can't fit the double- and triple-roll Charmin into the built-in wall dispensers? And that you can't get away from people making ironic "meta-observations" about wacky modern life, even under the guise of commenting on these commentaries? And that, eventually, escalating this concept leads to commenting on the commenting on the commentaries? You could blame people like Stephen Wright, Andy Rooney, or Jerry Seinfeld. But I blame Saddam.
Literally,
Fay Savalue



Dear Jimmy Atreides: The biggest problem, I feel, with the Lord of the Rings movies (besides, for example, the constantly changing relative sizes of the Hobbits and everyone else) is that I was not cast in the film, specifically as the 10th member of the Fellowship, a character, in fact, of my own devising -- Cthultor! This character is a crawling, black THING from an icy, nameless black hole deep in space -- an all-powerful creature with the ability to crush Sauron to a smoking cinder with one, simple thought-pulse. It's not too late, though. I believe this character could be deftly woven into a re-edit of the first film in the series by shooting an early scene where Cthultor kills Tom Bombadil in a knife fight over some sultry Hobbit wench down in a Tookland pub. Then, in a series of crosscuts, he would flee to the Barrow Downs, kill the wights and steal their weapons, jewelry, and energy points (to get extra lives for the Fellowship), and there meet the boys on their way to Bree. Simple. Also, the magma-powered flying stone car of Cthultor, which appears when he winks and snaps his fingers, could get the Hobbits down to Mordor in about 30 minutes from anywhere in Western Europe, I mean, New Zealand, I mean, Middle Earth. You wouldn't even need to do a third film in the series. One more thing: since Cthultor is even more powerful than the Ishtar, or even the Valeries, you could even the playing field and make a more satisfying picture by having him phase in and out of existence during the film -- maybe while flying the stone car! Scary for the Hobbits! This phase-shifting would be due to the fact that Cthultor comes from an alternate fantasy universe, where there is no magic, only hideous, megalomaniacal meddlers.
I Await Peter Jackson's Call,
Cath Ultore



Dear Siegfried & Roy:
One day a speeder was stopped on a crowded street by several combat-hardened stormtroopers who looked over the two robots sitting in the speeder along with an old man and a young lad. One trooper questioned the young man, who was named Luke:

TROOPER: How long have you had these droids?

LUKE: About three or four seasons.

BEN (the old man): They're for sale if you want them.

TROOPER: Let me see your identification.

Luke becomes very nervous as he fumbles to find his ID while Ben speaks to the Trooper in a very controlled Voice. [Editor's note: Ben's ability to use Voice was due to his Bene Gesserit (no relation to Ben) training, which he underwent at Jedi Night School, in Cleveland, Ohio. Although Ben was not a failed Kwisatz Haderach, he became adept at using Voice, even when his words were printed, and he found it quite easy to sway the weak-minded.]

BEN: You don't need to see his identification.

[Editor's Note: We don't need to see his identification.]

BEN: These are not the nerds you're looking for.

[Editor's Note: These are not the nerds we're looking for.]

BEN: He can go about his business.

[Editor's Note: You can go about your business.]

BEN: Move along.

[Editor's Note: Move along. Move along.]
Move Along,
U. Ben Hadd


Dear Ron Silver: I've noticed you publish a lot of SFku, and I'd like to offer my own:

SFku

Oh, San Francisco!
Just what have you got to do
with Science Fiction?

Please publish this and e-mail me three copies of your Webzine as payment.
Thanks,
Sam Freaudeau



Dear David Hasselhoff: Like the person who wrote the first letter, I also built a time machine that works. It uses a "real time" technology; thusly, if you wanted to travel from January 1, 2002, to January 1, 2003, you'd enter the time machine with lots of food and drink supplies and sit in it for 365 days. When you'd emerge, there you'd be in the future, exactly a year later! Works like a charm, and there are no moving parts. Make your deposit today! Avoid the rush!
With Gimlet Eyes,
Al Skamya



Dear Bill Clinton:
I am Peter Jackson, director of "The Lord of the Rings Colon" series of films, and I wanted to announce in your e-pages that I have decided to NOT ever film the book, "The Hobbit", which precedes the LotR: series. The reason is that it has come to my attention that Leonard Nimoy's classic "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" has now been widely disseminated on the Internet. I cannot compete with that. In its stead, I now plan to film an all-new musical, "The Ballad of Sarek", about a brave young Vulcan who journeys there and back again to Mt. Vulcano, logically avoiding all dangers and drama, and in the process earns his Pointy Ears.
Throwin' Another Hobbit on the Barby,
Peter Jackson



Dear Gore Vidal:
Hi, my name is Grashlak and I'm a Recovering Minion of Sauron. All Glory and Praise to Him! Oops. Sorry, that's a hard habit to break. Anyway, I'm here today to warn the kids among your readers that a life of service to the Dark Lord is not the fun and games you might expect. For one, you've got to be home by 8 p.m. Then, after a day of praising the Dark Lord while marching and drilling and running errands, it's time to mind the orc kids while mother takes a break. Every Saturday, you've got to mow the lawn, which takes hours and ruins the blades, since it's gravel and pumice that you're mowing. And on Sundays, it's Dark Lord worship and service most of the day. I mean, come on, what kind of life is that for a goblin!? And it's even worse for humans! I should be out there slaying innocent victims, night and day, with a bit of pillaging thrown in and all other ancillary activities that apply. Frankly, I think He might have more true believers among us Orcs if he helped out a little now and then with the yard work, for example, or perhaps did some babysitting. He could rake the yard for me with a mere wave of His hand -- but it's always "too busy on confidential Dark Lord business". I guess that's what the "Dork" Lord is calling "Grand Theft Auto III - Vice City" these days! But don't quote me.
Bye,
Grashlak



Dear Neil Bush:
Inventor Dean Kamen here. It's true that the Segway (http://www.segway.com) was not the "It" that I had been promising for so long (although the name is a good pun, you've got to give me that much). Now, I swear that I'm not kidding when I reveal here that the "real It" I had been talking about is a Personal Jetpack I've developed for letter carriers, or local commuting and errands, or perhaps office parks, or university campuses, or maybe developing countries, or perhaps even short-range exploration on the surface of Mars. Really, it's true! The Segway was just a diversion and not meant to be actually used by anyone. Now, eventually, when Jetpack users start regularly crashing into windows on the second floors of buildings, or colliding with each other in midair, or simply setting afire their owner's azaelea bushes one too many times upon takeoff, I will then have to introduce "the actual real It", since my lawyers gave me the impression that this will help with the inevitable lawsuits. (Lord knows the Segway is some young Johnny Cochran's retirement plan!) I don't know yet what I'm going to pull out of my hat for subsequent alleged "Its", but I do have a feeling they will involve time travel and eventually journeys to an alternate dimension of reality -- where, by the way, I keep a summer home.
Best,
Dean



Dear Michael Jackson:
I'm very excited because my wife tells me that for my 50th birthday she is going to have me youth-anized! I guess it's some sort of facelift, but in any case she tells me that I have an appointment already scheduled with a world-famous physician, a Doctor K. Vorkian. Wish me luck!
Later!
Neff R. Reed-Snewzpapers



Dear Simon Callow:
Sometimes, I look at my girlfriend and think, "Wow, she's so beautiful." And then I realize, "No, no... I'M beautiful!" But what can I say, I'm a guy. We think like that. Although, to tell you the truth, sometimes I wonder whether I really am a guy, and not some beautiful lesbian who was actually gazing into a mirror the whole time. I guess we'll never know, will we? Unless, perhaps, I get up from my very comfortable home-theater chair and feel around the perimeter of my "girlfriend" for any mirror-frame edges.
Sigh,
Lei Z. 'Les' Bienne



Dear Elrond:
This is Isildur666 with a shout-out to my hackerz -- the way I see it, we got a big job facing us. Hack mother nature! With all these species dying or mutating and these killer plants and insects encroaching on foreign ecosystems, we've got to get active. I see basically an open-source structure to, first, write some code to patch nature, so She can fight off these problems (for example, rapid loss of rain-forest habitat in one area, like the Amazon, could cause counter-balancing rapid growth of rain forest elsewhere in the world, maybe a place that needs some trees, such as Antartica or the Gobi. Of course, these will need to be 'super-trees' of some kind, perhaps with the ability to walk to find water). Such code will require the development of a machine-language-level interface to reality. Command-line is fine, but, as a Mac fan, I think we should consider a beautiful Aqua-type GUI. Second, we need to add a 'weapons' layer (i.e., fists, M-16s, laser rifles) to nature, so that we can frag some of these bad critters. Bye bye, kudzu; c ya later, Africanized honey bees, nice knowing ya (not!) sex-change leopard frogs!. Anyway, I have more details on my blog. Or you can catch me on ICQ 24/7365.
Morgoth Lives!
Isildur666



Dear Mr. Sulu:
This plea goes out to all the peoples of all nations of this Earth, as well as beings, both incarnate and discarnate, throughout the known Omniverse who have a stake in this planet's future. We must all do what we can to make this world a better place -- like the person in the previous letter suggests -- and part of that is to improve the soundness of the economic environment, in particular, key industries. To that point, just recently, the latest earnings figures for Krispy Kreme donuts were released, and they once again show continuing strength. This is very positive, and indicates to me that there is light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that we have all been traveling through for what feels like a very long time. However, I believe we can still do better. A lot better. So keep that in mind for the next time when you feel hungry (and if you're anything like me, that's about once every five minutes!).
Sincerely and according to GAAP,
Chris P. Kreim (no relation)



Dear Luke Skywalker:
Look, I don't know how to convey the absolute seriousness of my feelings, because, unfortunately, the human language appears to be ill-equipped for such an overwhelmingly complex task. Suffice it to say that my seriousness is literally immeasurable, and no matter how you quantify it, my seriousness is greater!
I'm Serious,
Sir E. Yusse



Dear Bugs Bunny:
I would like to officially protest the US government's plan to bomb all men with mustaches. This seems completely unfair and indiscriminate. For example, such a strategy could very well kill famed American author Samuel Clemens (dba Mark Twain), were he alive, as well as eliminate most, if not all, of the circus strongmen in the world, which would be a tragedy, however absurd. Which reminds me: Have you ever seen the Vegetable Tamers at the PETA Circus? They're not very scary, but they do end up with the makings of a delicious ratatouille, unlike the unappetizing rat-a-tat of Bush's anti-bigtop policies!
Regards,
Kofi Klatch
President, The United Nations



Dear Editor:
This is your Emperor speaking. I hereby command all "hackers" out there among the federated planets to immediately cease and desist in your continued defilings of the Imperial Web site. Such actions will be met with the strongest possible military action by Imperial Sardaukar or Imperial Stormtroopers, etc., depending on which of the many Sci-Fi universes you inhabit. I must go now, as I am in the middle of a Google.com "ego search".
Exaltedly,
The Emperor




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