This could be really useful for SF writers.
Extreme Planet Makeover
The new "Extreme Planet Makeover" on the NASA/JPL PlanetQuest site lets you roll up your sleeves and create your very own planet.
Balance five factors to create an Earth-like habitable world, or get wild and make your own extreme exoplanet. Use the Image Gallery feature to compare your creation with those of other Earthlings. Once you've finished creating the exoplanet of your dreams, download a picture of your custom world for posterity.
Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
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This poem came out of the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from ellenmillion and sponsored out of general funds, selected by the audience in a recent poll.
Engine 18 is a real Detroit firefighting company, among the oldest. Devil's Night (aka Hell Night) is an arson fest that thrived in Detroit for years before being somewhat repressed; not all of the horror in my poetry is imaginary.
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This poem came out of the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from kyleri and eseme. It was sponsored by kyleri. This is another poem in which magical creatures have adapted comfortably to an urban environment.
The subways of a city are the secret of its flow
That hold the busy citizens as they go to and fro.
The lines are very intricate; they link the far and near
But what is close can seem quite far -- you can't get there from here.
The focus of the subway is the swift and shining trains
But when they're gone, the dark returns to see that which remains.
The secret life of cities is the subway underground
With mystic creatures thriving where no hunters may be found.
The blind and bat-like dragons hoard lost tokens bright as gold;
The unicorns use sonar horns to navigate their hold.
When thunderstorms send waterfalls to drain beneath the rails,
The sewer-mermaids splash below with alligator tails.
The curving tubes are beautiful, organic in their shape,
A hint of how they came to be an underground landscape:
A subway station never built, but slow and surely grown,
By elves and dwarves in darkness deep, true lovers under stone.
Which $15 poem do you most want to see published?
Which $5 poem do you most want to see published?
"Astropolis" -- 8 lines,
From the prompt about star cities, I got the free-verse poem "Astropolis." It's a conversation between a young planet-dweller and an old spacer.
"Beneath Suspicion" -- 5 lines,
From your prompt about other creatures powering public transit, I got "Beneath Suspicion," a free-verse poem about an unexpected power source for the subway's third rail.
"Breathing People" -- 36 lines, $15
To your prompt about the growth and decay, I added one from akilika about why people move into or out of cities. The result is "Breathing People," which looks at cities as living creatures. I still had Detroit on the brain from whoever started that ball rolling, so the ending includes some rather disturbing imagery.
"The City at the Sun's Edge" -- 36 lines, $15
Your prompt about city spirits brushed against one by marina_bonomi on newly appointed city gods. I remembered a long-ago fishbowl poem I wrote about a human woman named Dawn, who brought civilization to an alien race. So it seemed natural to continue the story with them making her into the guardian-spirit of their first city. "The City at the Sun's Edge" is written in couplet-rhymed quatrains. (And in case you're wondering, "The Builders of Dawn" is still available; 12 lines = $10.)
"Feminists Under Glass" -- 32 lines, $15
From the "glass ceiling/glass houses" prompt I got the poem "Feminists Under Glass." It looks at how women's experiences and tactics have changed over time.
"Gaslight and Cold Iron" -- 20 lines, $10
Your prompt "Gaslight and Cold Iron" turned into the title of a poem, written in rhymed and metered quatrains. It's a rather creepy bit of steampunk, in which fairies are used as streetlights -- a musing on how progress in any society tends to come at somebody's expense, and the people who benefit by it usually don't care. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
"The Houses of Haunted Dolls" -- 33 lines, $15
I put "things left behind" with what janetmiles said about feral buildings. The result is "The Houses of Haunted Dolls," a free-verse poem describing what happens when diverse mythologies are left to their own devices in inner-city Detroit. When we forget that we are responsible for the things we build, the results can get scary...
"Perishable Truths" -- 27 lines, $15
I combined your prompt about magical creatures disguising themselves as machines with one from janetmiles about fae adapting to iron. "Perishable Truths" describes what happens when the fae begin taking forms that will blend into the modern world, just as they used to blend into natural scenery. Humans are a little too slow on the uptake...
"A Thousand Pokes of Failure" -- 66 lines, $33
I wrote you a poem based on your prompt about Titivillus, combined with what minor_architect said about beginning-of-semester woes [...] It is the history of Titivillus tormenting scribes, up to the point where universities start putting things online. You can imagine that this ends badly for everyone who is not a demon.
"Urban Shamans" -- 40 lines,
I liked the idea of urban shamans and painted designs. "Urban Shamans" is a free-verse poem that visits some representatives from four different cities and how their various cultural backgrounds blend into modern life. They work their magic in plain sight, filling the ancient role of go-between.