January 6th, 2011


Make Your Own Planet

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.

More information
http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/planetMakeover/planetMakeover.html .

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

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Poem: "The Mascot of Engine 18"

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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Poem: "The Secret Life of Cities"

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 Secret Life of Cities

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.


Generally Sponsored Poetry Poll for January 2011, Part 2

The previous poll voted to sponsor "The Mascot of Engine 18" plus one $15 poem and one $5 poem. There are six $15 poems left: "Breathing People," "The City at the Sun's Edge," "Feminists Under Glass," "The Houses of Haunted Dolls," "Perishable Truths," and "Urban Shamans." There are two $5 poems left: "Astropolis" and "Beneath Suspicion."

Poll #1665173 Generally Sponsored Poetry Poll for January 2011, Part 2
This poll is closed.

Which $15 poem do you most want to see published?

Breathing People
The City at the Sun's Edge
Feminists Under Glass
The Houses of Haunted Dolls
Perishable Truths
Urban Shamans

Which $5 poem do you most want to see published?

Beneath Suspicion

List of Unsold Poems from the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl

The following poems from the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl are currently available. They may be sponsored via PayPal, or you can write to me and discuss other methods.

"Astropolis" -- 8 lines, $5 SOLD to Big Pulp
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, $5 SOLD
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 [info]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 [info]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 [info]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 [info]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 [info]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, $15 SOLD
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.