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The long-awaited ruling in the WB-RDR trial has arrived. The executive summary: Fair use is upheld, authors do not have the right to control everything anyone publishes about their books, and an A-to-Z guide is sufficiently transformative of the novels to be allowed. It is not suffciently transformative of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (which is itself an A-to-Z guide) and Quidditch Through the Ages, and so the court found for Warner Brothers and assigned the minimum possible statutory damages of $6750. The fact of the Lexicon book having money made off of it was deemed relevant, which could potentially make life interesting online, where the customary steps in starting a Harry Potter reference are to copy pretty much the entire content of the companion books and then slap ads all over it. (The Lexicon Web site is notable for only running ads on the front page, and only trying to make enough money to pay its hosting costs.)

Is that finally that? On November 12th, RDR filed an appeal. Aieeee.

In less fraught big-series news, fan group orgainizing a Twilight con in Forks, WA (where the novels are set) says: "Proposals are sought for presentations, papers, moderated panels, workshops, roundtables and posters on any topic relating to the Twilight Saga novels and/or the fan community." See their Web site at

Less fun is likely to be had next year in Atlanta, where NASCAR has decided to resurrect the Southern 500, its traditional Labor Day race, thus pissing off (1) the NASCAR fans who were already upset that it was moved from Darlington, South Carolina in the first place and hasn't been moved back; (2) the NASCAR fans who figure this is going to siphon people away from the replacement event that Darlington runs now; (3) the NASCAR fans in Southern California who were getting used to having a lightly-attended race nearby on a holiday weekend; and (4) some science fiction fans who already had a big event planned for Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, but who cares about them? Nervous rumors are circulating about the status of Dragon*Con's room block, not at all helped by the ominous silence emanating from their Web site.

Back in the publishing world, Random House has published the Gulf War memoirs of New York Times correspondent Dexter Filkins as The Forever War. The first review quote declares without apparent irony, "The Forever War is already a classic ..." Why, yes, I believe we can agree on that. Joe Haldeman will have the last laugh in the publicity game, though-- Ridley Scott is planning to adapt his book.

Looking to space, another newly discovered minor planet, formerly 2003 EL61, has been christened Haumea, with satellites Hi`iaka and Namaka. For those of you keeping score, it joins Pluto/Charon, Eris (formerly Xena, with satellite Dysnomia, formerly Gabrielle), Makemake (formerly Easterbunny), and Ceres in the dwarf planet category. In the ultimate indignity, Pluto is not even the largest Pluto-like object anymore-- the title goes to Eris.

However, the Ares/Orion program, already beset by engineers designing an alternate vehicle on their own time and a wave of wire-eating ants which are advancing across Houston toward Mission Control, has hit a new and potentially fatal stumbling block: the crawlway leading from the hangar to the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center can't take the weight of the new ships, and budget constraints don't allow for the entire road to be dug up and rebuilt. And I swear that I am making absolutely none of this up.

All this talk of going back to the Moon has also made the dust there a hot topic, leading NASA to discover that it had thrown out all its relevant data some time ago due to an "archiving error". Luckily, backups of the original tapes were kept by Sydney University. Work is currently underway to resurrect an IBM 729 Mark V tape drive in hope of being able to read them.

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