Illustration by Jennie Breeden
 


 

Planetary Stories
From the Vibrating Ether
Page 1
 

As Conducted by That Lovely and Intelligent First Lady of the Starways,

Lt. Luna.

Dear Luna-tics,

Here we are with another great issue, and I’m here to tell you, it’s been a close call. The Captain had another brilliant idea. And was it a doozy!

I’m sitting here in the bridge, sipping a glass of tea and checking out the astrogation charts for this issue, when the door bursts open and in storms the Old Man, laughing so hard his eyeballs are bouncing. “Luna,” he says to me, “Luna, my child. We’re going to be rich.” And with that he turns around and goes back out the door he came in. And that’s the last I see of him until we land at Lumbago’s Birthplace.

Now, chances are you’ve not heard the name Lumbago’s Birthplace before. It’s a small backwater planet in the Omega Karioki System, and you won’t find it on very many starcharts. It’s so humiliatingly backwards that word has it the Omega Karioki Chamber of Commerce has slipped most of the space cartographers a few extra credits to forget to show its orbit in the charts. But the Captain knows about it, on account of whatever else the Captain knows or, ahem, doesn’t know, he knows orbits. He knows more orbits than any other human alive, which I know for a fact because some voyages it seems like we can’t start out for anywhere without ending up somewhere else.

 

And the reason I didn’t see him all those weeks while we were zipping out to Lumbago’s Birthplace, is that the Cap is busy at his computer – playing the futures market on the planet. And sure enough, at just the time we plan to set down on that dump, he corners futures in one of their commodities at a rock bottom price.

I asked him what it was we had ourselves a wealth of, and the Old Man says, “Coneys.”

At about that time Wart Ears walks in. He’s been stowing our new cargo, and when he hears “Coneys,” he jumps and says, “Cap, we been robbed. I was just piling the crates into the hold and I swear I didn’t see anything but rabbits.”

That’s right, pee-lots, the Captain had just cornered the Lumbago’s Birthplace market in rabbits.

Fortunately, Lumbago’s Birthplace is a pretty small planet and the market didn’t consist of any more than a dozen or so of the bunnies, and frankly, they’re kind of cute. It’ll be nice not being the only cute thing aboard the old Starship Planetary Stories, if only for one voyage.

But enough of that. We want to remind you that each issue a panel of Secret Masters of Space Opera Fandom selects the best letter from our column and we award it an original illustration. The winner last time was Donald Sullivan. Pick out one of those Mark Fults illustrations shown in issue 5, or one of the Jim Garrison drawings from last issue, Donald. And congratulations. The crew here is so jealous!

Planetary Stories
From the Vibrating Ether
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One more thing and then we’ll get to the letters, which is the reason you came here in the first place. That lovely drawing of (ahem) yours truly up at the top of this page was done by none other than the world famous cartoonist Jennie Breeden. Jennie does a semi-autobiographical comic strip you can find at her website, www.thedevilspanties.com. Your local comic store should be able to supply you with copies of Devil’s Panties comic books and graphic novels, and if they don’t have any, tell ‘em they better get some – fast.

Now let’s get to our first letter. It’s from that space cadet among space cadets, Curt Phillips who hails from Abingdon, Va., USA back on the home world – his home world, not mine. Curt writes:

Dear Lt. Luna,

Gosh Wow!, BoyOhBoy! The latest ish of PLANETARY STORIES arrived today so I quickly ran out to the Official Clubhouse of the Planetary League - Abingdon, VA Outpost #1 (which used to be the treehouse in my back yard) and started reading.  Considering that it's been snowing heavily here in Abingdon all weekend and that the Official Clubhouse is not quite as airtight as we would like it to be, reading PLANETARY STORIES out here takes real dedication.  But then you don't get to be the Commander of the #1 Outpost of the Planetary League without being dedicated!  Besides, Jerry Page (Commander of the Planetary League - Atlanta, GA Outpost #2) assures me that sitting out here in the winter is good training for future space missions since it's at least this cold in outer space or maybe even colder.     

 

Turning first, as I always do, to the letters dept. I was a little disappointed to see that you didn't print my letter of comment on Planetary Stories # 5.  I suppose I can't really hold this against you since I didn't write one, but this

means that my experiment in long-distance telepathy is a complete failure.  This bodes ill for emergency communications in future space missions, but it's always something, isn't it?  I'm reminded strongly of the sad episode last summer when our experiments with smoke signals pretty much ruined any chance that the PL-Outpost #1 would ever get to meet in Arnie's grandmother's garage ever again.  There always seems to be one roadblock after another for us scientific pioneers.  Just ask Jerry Page! 

But the letters you did print are pretty good.  I think Tom Johnson is right about the use of pseudonyms in Planetary Stories.  "Gerald W. Page", for instance.  An obvious pseudonym!  In fact at the last Grand Council of the Planetary League we debated this very point and after considerable wrangling and one fist-fight we arrived at a clear consensus as to the true identity of "Gerald W. Page".  Our top three choices:   

1) G. Peyton Wertenbacker  

2) Norville Page  

3) Hank Reinhardt 

Personally I don't mind the use of pseudonyms in PLANETARY

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From the Vibrating Ether
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STORIES but I do appreciate the openness and clarity of your veteran writers like Michael Shack who use their real names. 

The cover by Jerry Burge is fantastic!  Burge really has a feel for the essence of space stories and this is a great one.  More Burge, please!  As for the interior illos, I'd rate Jim Garrison's illo that accompanied "Gran's World" as the best of the lot.  Some of the others appear to be a little muddy and blurry so I would have to wonder if Nadir McGuirk hadn't slipped a little Xeno into the punch at your last editorial party.  I enjoyed your article of Sixth Fandom and would only offer the sole correction that Bob Tucker didn't just "used " to be the # 1 Fan; in my book he still is and will always be the #1 Fan of all time.  Bob set a standard for the way that this science fiction hobby is enjoyed that is absolutely unassailable and I can't imagine that we will ever see his equal again.  He has long been and will ever remain my role model and personal fannish hero.  How I envy you fellows who were there at the height of Sixth Fandom!  How glad I am to have known a few of the leading lights of Sixth Fandom like Bob Tucker and Shelby Vick...

The fiction in this ish has several interesting points, but then so do the icicles forming on my eyelids so I'll rank my favorites and just offer a few comments:

1) Hoy Ping Bob and the Barbarian Queen - Gerald W. Page proves that he can deliver the goods in this smoooth stef-nal yarn. Nicely done.

2) Corsairs of the Cosmic Legion - Gerald W. Page again turns out a

 

stirring tale of interplanetary intrigue and proves that he can write a fine SF yarn filled with sex and smoke-filled spaceport bars.

3) Red Planet McGuirk - Michael Shack.  Good dialog and use of humor.  Captain Shivers is always a favorite.

4) The Kyth - Eric Lee. A surprisingly up-to-date space epic with drama and tension.  I hope we'll see more by Lee.

5) Gran's World - Bob Bolin.

6) The Jungles of Time - Tom Condarcure

And I can't rank "Boofer and the Manticore" by Leo Tifton because it seems to be missing from my copy! (The link doesn't open.)  Hopefully this will be fixed in the second printing.

And I had to eliminate Gerald W. Page's "Blood on the Armadillo's Snout" from the ranking because I read it when it was first published in that almost legendary magazine BLAZING

ARMADILLO STORIES and it would be unfair to the newer yarns to hold them up to the light of a Blazing Armadillo.  It's good to see one of the great classic yarns of that golden age of late 1980's Armadillo fiction carefully dusted off and presented here again for a young, impressionable pulp reading audience, and I hope that this reprinting might fan the embers of hope that smolder eternally in the hearts of all true Armadillo fans that we might yet again see the Armadillo blaze gloriously in new adventures of pulpish daring-do!  As I wrote back in 1988 in the lettercol of BLAZING

Planetary Stories
From the Vibrating Ether
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ARMADILLO STORIES; "I've faithfully followed the wanderings of the Armadillo since the days when he was just a back-up character in the old MAMMOTH MARSUPIAL MYSTERIES", and followed him in his own magazine BLAZING ARMADILLO STORIES.  Like countless others, I cried a bitter tear when our crime-fighting hero descended into a nightmarish miasma of hedonistic sex and violence when that magazine was renamed SPICY ARMADILLO STORIES, yet I remained faithful to the true spirit of the Armadillo nonetheless, and dreamed of the day when massed Armadillo fans in their thousands would angrily march on Atlanta with burning torches held high to make the Armadillo blaze again!  Perhaps that day has come at last...

Good lettercol with a nice mix of comments.  It's good to see that there are still a few fans of the old style SF around these days and I'm glad that PLANETARY STORIES is here to help fill that demand.  A suggestion; on your "links" page, how about including a link for the previous issues of PLANETARY STORIES?  That would be a nice convenience for us.  And we'll have to see about setting up a link to the website of the Planetary League so that all us little leaguers can get together and swap Gerald W. Page stories.   Well, it's well below freezing out here in the clubhouse now and my fingers have actually frozen solid. I'm only able to finish typing this loc by Mental Telepathy alone so it's time to close.  Hopefully someone will come out here and drag me inside to thaw out before the next ish of PLANETARY STORIES appears.  Till then, clear skies and hot jets to you all from: 

Comm. Curt Phillips

Planetary League - Abingdon, VA Outpost #1

 

Curt Phillips has a website at http://www.freewebs.com/absarka/links.htm

Thanks a heap, Curt. That’s what we call a letter here in the old comm-center.

Sorry about the telepathy experiment. But don’t give up hope. It so happens your letter of comment came in a couple hours before the issue went on line. That’s gotta count for something.

If you access PS with www.planetarystories.com, you’ll find yourself on our contents page, which has links to all our issues. Maybe you missed that with another of your experiments in telepathy. (I’m not going to use the word ‘mental.’ Not that I don’t think you are, understand.)

We think Tom Johnson’s suggestion that some of our by-lines might actually be pseudonyms is interesting. For one thing, a lot of those same names used to show up on the contents pages of the pulp-collector’s journal, Echoes, that he used to publish and edit. How about it, Tom?

Funny you should mention Hank Reinhardt. (Funny anyone should mention Hank, of course.) Hank’s been helping out behind the scenes here, and is one of the fine folk who help the Cap select the winning letter each issue.

As for artwork by Jerry Burge, his widow Sue has given us access to his sketch books which is where most of the art we’re using has come from. For example, the cover for the first issue of Wonderlust, and the illustration that accompanied the story “Falling” by Ian Coverdell, were both apparently studies for a painting Jerry never got around to. Other drawings by him come from old fanzines and a portfolio of finished drawings in the styles of various sf illustrators, as well as stuff that was scheduled for Flashback, the fanzine he and Jerry Page did together. Quite literally, we

Planetary Stories
From the Vibrating Ether
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have several hundred pieces of art available by Burge.

Curt followed up his first letter with a nostalgic second letter urging us to add wire staples to Planetary Stories and Wonderlust. Sorry, Curt, Bob Tucker beat you to the suggestion.

You know, it sure is nice having such cute little animals as those bunnies wandering around the ship. Just look over there in the corner … Wait a minute. I don’t remember ever seeing those bunnies before … I better check this out.

But before I do that, the Famous Donald Sullivan, winner of last issue’s Best Letter Competition, sent in a new one.

Hi Shelby,

Well, you coulda knocked me over with a feather when I saw that I won the LOC prize.  Didn't expect it cuz I really didn't think of it as an entry--sent it as a garden variety LOC.  That, and when I saw the other super great LOCs, I was even more surprised.

My choice:  The last babe, lower right (The Pistol Packin' Mama!).  But I'm kinda slow in some things.  Now that I won it, how do I go about picking it up?  (Not the girl--I'm a married man--but the illo.)

Also, I'm wondering what happened to "Temple of Eden."  Thought you accepted it for this issue...or did another story bump it?  (I see some that look super good!)

Best,

Donald

 

I’m assuming, Donald, that it’s because you’re so married (plus the fact you’re so excited about winning) that you addressed this letter to the Captain and not me. But since you sent it to Cap, I’ll let him have some words. It’s OK so long as we don’t make it a habit.

The Captain’s reply –

Just send me your snailmail address, Don --

I'll package it up and rely on the US Mail (shudder!) to do its job.

About your story -- it's there!  Oh, I know it WASN'T there, but it is now.  Somewhere I had mentioned there was a last minute story I'd put in later.  The 'later' was now (which is now then – February 21, 2007 – Lt. Luna), delayed partly becos of the computer problems I've been having.  Also, I was searching for an appropriate illo. Found a great one on hand, so to speak, by Roy Coker. I put your story in sans columns, so's I can add later with no prob.

And, hey; don't be bashful about winning.  Two judges agreed.  'Sides, being natural is part of the secret of success!

--The Captain

Not even I could put it better, Cap! And I’m glad you replied to that one, because I’m really busy hunting down bunny rabbits. Turns out we now have more than we started this voyage with. Which reminds me … I need to ask Slops if he has a recipe for rabbit stew …

But we’d better go back to the letters; I’m making myself hungry. And what could be more filling than a letter from Tom Johnson?

Planetary Stories
From the Vibrating Ether
Page 6
 

Dear Lt. Luna,
Wow! You could have knocked me over with a stick when I saw the contents for PS #6. First of all, I am tickled to see Tom Condarcure and Donald Sullivan writing for PS, but doesn't that mean you're going from Planet Stories to Astounding SF? I've got to pick these two stories as my favorite this time. Sully and Tom are great writers, and I hope to see more of their work soon! And after I complain about the interior artwork, what do you do? You add artists like Jim Garrison, Jeff Fraker and Paul McCall to the pages! I love their art!

Let me move over to Wonderlust for just a second. First, I still think the cover for issue #1 was best, but, again, I love Jim Garrison's art! So let me pick "Blue Water" as best story in this issue of Wonderlust, and "The Temple of Eden" and "The Jungles of Time" as best in PS #6. Hey, and congratulate Sully for taking top honors as best LOC this time! That guy will probably win every issue!

Still love the covers, by the way.

Tom Johnson

Jerry Page came up with an interesting idea. Gonna run it below, followed by Cap’s response.

Dear Lt. Luna (Carbon to the Captain) --

It might be interesting to publish ideas of the perfect issue of PS, using stories from the pulps and asking readers for their ideas. It

 

could give us some idea of where they would like to see us go. What would go in yours?

What would go in mine? Hmmmm. Let’s set some groundrules, here. One novel. Three novelettes or short novels. Six short stories. My list:

NOVEL: Return to the Stars by Edmond Hamilton.

NOVELETTE: The Veil of Astellar by Leigh Brackett

NOVELETTE: On the Planet Fragment by Neil R. Jones

NOVELETTE: Lorelei of the Red Mist by Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury

SHORT: A Martian Odyssey by Stanley Weinbaum

SHORT: The Million Year Picnic by Ray Bradbury

SHORT: What Hath Me? by Kuttner

SHORT: Shambleau by Moore

SHORT: Fondly Fahrenheit by Bester

SHORT: The New Prime by Jack Vance.

Okay -- what would be yours? --Jerry

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From the Vibrating Ether
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Cap responded:

Now you've got me, Jerry --

It’s a great idea, but I have such rotten memory, and woeful research material!

Believe it or not, L Ron Hubbard would be on my short story list; he did a series about a . . . space doctor? Doc Methuselah? Anyway, it was both full of action and humor.

And, of course, one of the space hillbillies stories, the Hogbens by Henry Kuttner; I particularly remember one where a salesman kept coming by, wanting to buy one of their specialties.

Northwest Smith, as you included with Shambleau.

And Joseph Green had a series about a guy whose purpose was to determine if alien life was intelligent.

Novels? Aside from the well-known classics, I liked the Ringworld series.

I'd hafta do a lot of checking around to come up with others. Realize, of course, that my choices aren't always REALLY my top favorites -- just stories I like a lot that aren't ALWAYS in lists.

I’ll bet our readers can come up with a lot more!

The Captain

 

I said we weren’t going to make it a habit, letting the Captain talk in this column. You think I’m going to forgive him for all those rabbits? I guess we’d better fill up some space with more letters.

Here’s yet another letter from Donald Sullivan.

Dear Lt. Luna,

I enjoyed this issue, and here's a comment or two on the contents.

Jungles of Time--Tom Condacure. This is a really super time travel story by Tom Condacure with lots of danger and adventure. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Gran's World--Bob Bolin. The story of a couple's struggle to survive on an uninhabited planet. No bone jarring action and adventure here, but a good, well written story nevertheless.

Red Planet McGuirk--Michael Shack. A good, light-hearted read with zany characters.

Corsairs of the Cosmic Legion--Gerald W Page. A great story of adventure and intrigue. I think this one might make a good flick.

Hoy Ping Bob and the Barbarian Queen--Gerald W Page. Talk about your odd couples. Here's a rollicking tale of a pompous-but-lovable and highly effective wizard, and a swashbuckling female space adventuress. Pity the poor reptilian

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invaders.

The Kyth--Jim Garrison. The kyth was a super, nearly indestructible creature reminiscent of some of A E van Vogt's creatures. A tale filled with adventure and danger.

Boofer and the Manticore--Leo Tifton. A lighthearted but wild space opera tale. Kind of like the Yokums, McCoys, and Clampetts running around in space. But where was (yum yum) Ellie Mae?

Blood on the Armadillo's snout--Gerald W Page. Now here was a superhero to end all superheroes. A combination of The Shadow, Batman, Mike Hammer, and Sherlock Holmes (how'd he get in there??) Good read, lots of chuckles.

The Spirit of Pulp was both entertaining and informative, as were the Flashy Features. This is a great lineup of stories, and I'm proud to have my story in such good company.

We're encouraged to also let you know what we didn't like, so here goes:

Nothing.  Nothing negative to say cuz I liked it all.  Tell Shelvy to keep up the good work, Lt.

Donald

Rebecca Brayman sends in this short but sweet missive:

 

Hello, Luna,

Hey, Blood on the Armadillo's Snout was GREAT!

Did the Easter Bunny leave many eggs on the old starship?  All we got were a bunch of chocolate bunnies.

--Rebecca

Don’t I wish all we got were chocolate bunnies. Frankly, I envy you. We got so many rabbits on board the old ship PS right now that when I opened the frequency on your letter, I was terrified I might hear “What’s up, Doc?”

But that’s about it for the lettercol this time. I’d love to run more letters but I got things that need doing before we touch port. Dad blast it! Where’d I put my shotgun?

Lt. Luna

WAIT! It ain't over yet. I let him in too much, I guess, 'cause the Cap decided to add some more to my load! Of course, when he pointed out that I hadn't had to stoke the boilers since issue two, I decide I really didn't have it that bad, after all. . . .

ANYhoo, he wants me to add a new discussion line. Being the Nice, Sweet Guy He Is (I better not lay it on any thicker'n that) he agreed to start it off with the stuff that follows. He's calling it Springboard.

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This springboard for discussion is open to everyone. If you have a pet peeve about science fiction or fantasy, or just an idea you’d like to toss out, dive right in! Or respond to my objection below. You can have lots of space, or we can run many short bits, depending on what turns up.

WARP SIX, SCOTTY!

Science fiction has always called for us to suspend disbelief, to accept that an author’s precept is – well – acceptable, as a way to move the story.

Rocket ships?

–Hey, these days that’s a given! (Altho Our Hero always just

 

jumps into one and takes off; no concern about the weather!)

Ray guns?

We already have lasers, so that’s not much of a stretch.

Life on other worlds?

Why not; there’s billions of them out there!

. . .And on and on and on. BUT – Star Trek has taken things too far! Instead of ‘faster-than-light’ travel, they have warp engines. But the end result is the same; they travel to worlds that are many, many lightyears away, and get there in a matter of days or weeks.

Then go back home.

Back to a home that is just the same as they left it. Same people, same politics, same everything, and they’ve only been gone a few weeks.

Warp drive or not, it just don’t work that way. If you go somewhere many lightyears away and get there and back, even by warping space, that’s faster-than-light travel, and you know what Einstein says about that. Yeah, yeah; I know the ‘warp’ theory which is illustrated by someone drawing a long line on a sheet of paper, then folding the paper so’s the two ends of the line meet – warp travel! But Star Trek’s ‘warp’ don’t work that way! When they show ‘windows’ picturing outside space, you can see the stars move by. Now, that takes one helluva speed, to be able to see stars move –

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but it ain’t warp! With warp, you’re ‘here’ and then you’re ‘there’ – you don’t see stars zip by, you just show up where you wanted to be. So they’re moving – faster than the speed of light.

Anyone wanna argue?

(Now, wormholes are another matter. . . .)

+ + +

Anyone care to comment on how the Mayan calendar (which many say is even more accurate than ours!) ends December 21, 2012? That ain’t so far away!

Hey, Cap! Lemme add that Unsteady State is wide open for discussion, too!

Mike Mott took the Cap's challenge and responded with --

There's been a lot of hype, particularly in New-Age circles, about the predicted "end of the world" as forecast by the ancient Mayans, in their cyclical calendar of not just years, but Ages of Time.

According to the Mayan calendar, the present Age or Epoch of Time will come to an end on December 21, 2012, the end of the "long count" calendar of measurement. Of course, in Apocalyptic terms,

 

this really stirs some folks up; but to the Maya, it actually meant the end of one cycle of 5,126 years, and the beginning of another one. With each new "age" would come a new beginning--but this did not necessarily mean total destruction of everyone and everything which existed previously. Far from it. It is simply a time of cosmic transition in Mayan belief, but is loaded with symbolic and physical manifestations of change on the Earth.

The idea of "cycles of history" is not unique to the Maya. It exists in Christian tradition, for instance, with the various "ages" being equivalent to divine "days" which can correspond to 1000 years each, or even longer if God changes his mind. According to Judeo-Christian tradition, we are leaving the sixth "day" or millennium now and are about to enter the seventh, which is believed by many to correspond to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. The current day is known as "the Church Age", interestingly enough long dominated by the Zodiacal sign of Pisces, the fish, and the coming seventh age corresponds to the entrance into the House of Aquarius, the Water-Bearer (and of course, Christ said that from him "rivers of living water" would flow).

Other traditions harbor similar ideas. According to Hindu cosmology, the span of such ages is much greater, comprised of "yugas" or ages of time and development which last 432,000 years. According to this chronological system, we are currently just entering (as of 18 February BCE) the Kali

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Yuga, or Age of Kali, the "Age of Darkness".

Going all the way back to Sumerian cosmology and time-keeping, ages or epochs on this planet are measured in "shars", periods of 3630 years which correspond to cyclical periods of total destruction on the Earth. This is due, according to the Sumerians, to the passage of a heavenly body known as Nibiru (called Nemesis by the Greeks), the Destroyer, or Planet of the Crossing, which they believed would return regularly on an angular, long-elliptical orbit around the sun, cutting through the solar system and leaving gravitational chaos in its wake. According to the Sumerians, civilizations have regularly been destroyed for untold ages by the passage of this heavenly monstrosity, with the Sumerian version of the Great Flood corresponding to the last such transit through our system. There are those today who believe that the return of this super-massive, rogue planet, or dark-star/dwarf-star twin of our own sun, is near at hand once again, and place it also roughly within the 2012 time frame, give or take a few years.

So who's right, if anybody? Or do all of these cosmological prognostications overlap, converge, or support one another? Or do they negate one another completely? These questions should not be dismissed out of hand.

Ancient peoples had a lot more on the ball, in terms of knowledge, than modern science, history and archeology often give them credit for. For instance, the Mayan calendar

 

is of a mathematical precision that is staggeringly precise, as was the Sumerian calendar; and the latter people knew about all of the planets of our solar system, including Pluto, and all of their attendant moons--a pretty neat trick for the "first civilization", which one would suppose had neither advanced telescopes nor other methods of determining the make-up of a heliocentric planetary system (a fact of which they were also well-aware).

So when 12/21/2012 rolls around, hunker in your bunker--or grab a lawn chair and a cooler of beer, because there may be one heck of a show after all.

Or not.

William Michael Mott is the editor of (among others) This Tragic Earth, the Art & World of Richard Sharpe Shaver, a fascinating study of Shaver's "rock drawings" including dozens of images, as well as essays, interviews and commentaries by the most controversial science fiction writer ever. Published by TGS Publishers at $19.95, check it out on Amazon or HiddenMysteries.com.

So 12/21/12 is just the end of a Mayan age? Ved-d-dy interesting!


THERE'S MORE!

Our new address is planetarystories@gmail.com

 
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