CONTACT: A conference in the spirit of George R. Stewart. Updated announcement

Announcing CONTACT 2012
• A Premier Forum for the Future •

Astronomers have given us a new bucketful of worlds to consider for habitable planets and inhabitable star systems. At CONTACT 2012 we will explore this new galaxy of possibilities with NASA and SETI scientists, noted science fiction authors, artists, composers, and others. (See the list at the bottom of the page.)

CONTACT 2012 will be held on March 30-April 1 at the Domain Hotel in Sunnyvale, CA. Friday sessions will be held at the SETI Institute. Our keynote speaker will be SETI pioneer Frank Drake.

In 2010, CONTACT celebrated the start of its second quarter century with a resurrection of our original focus on COTI (Cultures of the Imagination). The event was such a success that we will again return to the thrilling days of yesteryear at CONTACT 2012 with COTI Classic. Human and alien teams will be recruited from our presenters and audience; and Contact between the teams will bring the conference to a climax on Sunday. This will please those longtimers who have been clamoring for a return for years, and newcomers who can now join the event that made our initial conferences so successful. Award-winning science fiction author Larry Niven will act as COTI advisor and trouble-shooter.

Since CONTACT’S birth more than 25 years ago our exciting and responsible speculation has made our conference and organization unique and fun.
CONTACT remains committed to its original interdisciplinary, creative and scientific approach to humanity’s future. As usual, we will offer symposia on a wide range of topics, with speakers sharing new ideas with the audience. Our program will be updated on our website:

Don’t miss CONTACT 2012! Register and reserve your room NOW! Early bird registration prices until February 15. Register on our website.

Looking forward to working and playing together …

Participants: Phil Aaberg, Karen Anderson, Penny Boston, Bill Clancey, Bruce Damer, Kathryn Denning, Frank Drake, Donna Duerk, Dennis Etler, Chris Ford, Gus Frederick, Jim Funaro, Roberta Goodman, Al Harrison, Randall Hayes, Jeroen Lapré, Rob McCann, Larry Niven, Gerald Nordley, Jim Pass, Doug Raybeck, Reed Riner, David Sanborn Scott, Donald Scott, Michael Shermer, Seth Shostak, Melanie Swan, Jill Tarter and Israel Zuckerman.


Word has just come from McFarland Publishing that they plan to release The Life and Truth of George R. Stewart as an eBook, a few weeks after its publication as a printed book. As information comes available, about date, cost, etc, I’ll post that.

Atwater Village

As the George R. Stewart biography heads toward publication, I’m considering another book.   The overall book, at this stage, is about the national parks.  But in order to give a grand overview of parks and rangering, I need to tell the Scott family story.  The first Scotts were rangers, the recently-deceased head of the clan was a ranger, and I’m a ranger.  Writing up nearly a millennium of family, including immigration to Ireland and Boston, service in the Civil War, probable involvement in building the Union Pacific, life in San Francisco from about 1870 through today, family connections to film, oil, and manufacturing,  and my work with the national parks and NASA is going to be a big task.  It should keep me out of trouble for a decade, and by then I’ll be too old to get into trouble.

And what has this to do with Atwater?  One section of the book, or opus, as currently conceived, may focus on Atwater in the early 1940’s.  My parents lived there when I entered life, so it was the first neighborhood I knew.  Dad’s good friend, Bob Broughton and his family lived there as well, and my mother’s sisters in nearby Glendale and Eagle Rock.  So we had many good family memories — and in my case, the first good memories of a place.  For example,  Bob and Dad used to take cousin Larry and I to the old Glendale station to watch the steam trains; afterwards we went to Van De Kamps for hot chocolate and donuts.

But it’s much more than nostalgia.  That nearly mythical time — the golden age of California, of movies, oranges, oil, and autos which has captured the culture of humankind — was also the time when California was inventing the national park, and establishing large, wild city preserves like Griffith Park.  Atwater seems to be one of those places where many new trends meet and interact and give birth to a new age.

The fact that Disney’s California Adventure is going to honor Atwater is quite proper, because the neighborhood is truly an archetype of that golden mythical age.  (And especially proper since Bob Broughton worked for Disney and eventually became a Disney Legend.)

There’s also a George R. Stewart connection.  When the family lived in Pasadena, Stewart’s father bought a house in Hollywood.  He decided to move the house’s furniture to the family home.  Young George and a hired man went to Hollywood, loaded up the furniture, and took it back to Pasadena — in a horse-drawn wagon, on Los Feliz Boulevard, in 1910.  Stewart remembers thinking it must have been one of the last horse-drawn wagons to use that busy road.

When the furniture movers went through early Atwater, they  passed about a block from the place that would become the first home I knew.

It’s a small, circular world.


Frank Brusca’s 40 year project re-photographing George R. Stewart’s U.S. 40.  This is Smithsonian quality work, which builds on Stewart’s classic book and Tom and Geraldine Vale’s equally classic U.S. 40 Today.  Well-worth supporting.  Check out the website.

Stewart’s book inspired two German films, William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways, and Least Heat Moon’s Roads to QuozRoads has several chapters about Stewart’s work, and Brusca’s.  Frank’s done most of the re-photography on his own ticket; this funding will allow him to complete the last 20%.