Today in geek news, it’s a banner day for Canadian Science Fiction writers, a hopeful day for grown-up video games and a poignant day for space exploration.

Yesterday the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announced the nominees for the 2011 Prix Aurora Awards.  The Auroras honour the best in Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy as voted by members of the CSFFA – a non-profit organization that offers free membership to all Canadians.  While I extend kudos to all those in contention for an Aurora, I’d like to offer my personal recognition – for the fifty-three cents that it is worth – to two nominees, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting at this year’s Ad Astra convention.

Matt Moore is up for Best English Short Story with his story Touch the Sky, They Say.

Marie Bilodeau is up for Best English Novel with her book Destiny’s Blood.

Spoiler Alert: One of these two writers has agreed to be on an upcoming podcast.

On behalf of myself and everybody else who makes The Page of Reviews possible, we wish both of you the best of luck.

The full list of Aurora nominees can be found here

In video games, today sees the launch of two highly anticipated titles, L.A. Noire by Rockstar Games and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings by CD Projekt.  Rockstar, best known for the Grand Theft Auto and the Red Dead franchises, brings its unique style of hard nosed gameplay to post WW2 Los Angles.  Players will assume the role of Cole Phelps an LAPD detective who finds himself caught up in a story of organized crime, sex and drugs.  L.A. Noire promises to deliver “a violent crime thriller that blends breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience.”   Given the gritty nature of the game, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before some group of concerned crackpots begin lambasting the game for every ill that society has to offer.  L.A. Noire is now available for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Meanwhile The Witcher 2 has been collecting its fair share of launch hype.  The game has already been hailed for its mature and non-linear story line, unabashed nudity and solid RPG elements.  This sophomore entry into a franchise that began in 2007 also boasts a deep branching dialogue system that will have significant impact on how the game unfolds.  Naturally, this style of gameplay has invited comparisons between Polish publisher CD Projekt and Edmonton’s BioWare, the studio that brought us such RPGs as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age and Mass Effect. One noticeable difference between the two companies is that CD Projekt will be offering all DLC for The Witcher 2 for free.  That’s right, gratis DLC for registered users.  I’ve got to admit that this game, and its progressive DLC model, have piqued my interest.  Also, it would be nice to use my PC for something other than marathon Starcraft 2 sessions and internet porn.

Finally, yesterday saw the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.  Flying its 25th mission, the Endeavour is set to bring parts and technical staff to the deflector shield station on the third moon Endor said “up yours” to gravity one final time as it brought spare parts for a robot arm and an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station.  According to NASA, “The AMS-02 uses the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe’s origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter and measuring cosmic rays.”  In a related story, renowned Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking says that Heaven is a fairy story.

Levity aside, I can’t help but feel a collective loss for humanity as another one of our mighty shuttles prepares for life as a museum piece.  It’s well and good for NASA to plan new ships with greater lift capacity.  However, these plans are all talk until the new vehicles get built.  I fear that the short-term exigencies of life on this planet may end up precluding the long-term need for humanity to expand beyond our small world.  So on that sombre note, here’s the video of Endavour’s last launch.  Let’s all marvel at human ingenuity giving the finger to gravity.

That, prisoners of gravity, is your geek news for May 17, 2011.

Today’s Geek News is brought to you by Chris Noon Graphic Designs.  See what Chris can do for your business at www.chrisnoon.com