Why you need to see Your Name in IMAX and the potential for more IMAX animation


By now, most sci-fi fans with even a cursory interest in animation will be aware of Your Name, director Makoto Shinkai’s body swap/time travel dramedy – think Freaky Friday meets Back To The Future – that became a global hit last year. At the time of writing, its worldwide gross is at over 355 million in US dollars, over $235 million of which came from its native Japan alone.

Its UK run was also impressive, considering anime that doesn’t involve Pokémon or the input of Studio Ghibli has rarely had the greatest success at the British box office. Distributor Anime Limited put the film out in partnership with National Amusements last November, initially in a one-day engagement across the UK that gave way to longer runs in cities where audiences were lapping up the film. London’s Prince Charles Cinema, to name one location, seemed to have at least one screening of Your Name a week for much of the start of 2017.

As such, it’s not surprising that Your Name has been granted an official one day re-release in cinemas around Britain, ahead of its long-awaited home format release this autumn. To sweeten the deal, the distributors have also thrown in an IMAX version of the film for select participating cinemas – the first anime feature to receive an IMAX release in the UK.

Is that IMAX version worth seeing, though? After all, the film wasn’t originally made for that format, and savvy viewers are increasingly wary of the worth of blown-up versions of movies not conceived with IMAX in mind during production. (LIEMAX, if you will.)

Well, we got a sneak peek at the IMAX version of Your Name and are pleased to report that our initial scepticism was unwarranted. The opening alone basically justifies the endeavour: an already beautiful shot following a meteor’s descent from the skies to the earth below now filling up the biggest kind of screen around, which only enhances the meticulous detail in every painterly frame.

Rather than what happens with most blockbusters released in IMAX form, whether shot with real IMAX equipment (like Dunkirk) or not, Your Name has no aspect ratio shifting; the film fills up the whole IMAX screen for its full runtime. With live-action features, the shift is to properly present the footage that wasn’t shot with actual IMAX film or digital cameras.

As such, animated films released in IMAX form have not an advantage per se, but a different playing field to live-action movies. Thanks to animation generally not incorporating actual cameras (unless you’re rotoscoping or want Spongebob to meet David Hasselhoff), their presentation can be a little more flexible; there’s, in theory, less of a risk of diminishing the film’s look by blowing it up to IMAX size.

While many new animated films get IMAX releases, they’re almost all of the CG and 3D variety. While Your Name has computer-aided embellishments, it still falls under the banner of 2D animation. No disrespect to the likes of Pixar, but it feels like 2D animation is still way ahead in terms of aesthetic beauty when compared to the rubbery look of studio CG animation.

Seeing Your Name in the biggest way possible stirs hopes regarding the IMAX format as a potential renaissance tool for 2D animation. In the early 2000s, the likes of The Lion King got this treatment, and one wonders the potential of IMAX-ising 2D genre titles, particularly anime classics. Something like fantasy epic Princess Mononoke immediately springs to mind, as does Akira – who wouldn’t want to hear the angrily shouted names Tetsuo and Kaneda blasted through IMAX speakers?

Your Name plays in 2D and IMAX format cinemas on Wednesday 23rd August, with additional English-language screenings on 30th August
http://yournamethemovie.co.uk/



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Star Trek: Discovery air date confirmed, beaming down in September


After what seems like an eternity of waiting, we finally know when Star Trek: Discovery will be hitting CBS in the US and Netflix everywhere else.

The show will launch on Monday 25 September. Which is actually not that far away when you think about it, we can be patient.

Another important detail is that the 15 episode series is going to be split into two chunks. So we’ll get weekly episodes from 25 September through to 6 November. Then there will be a break until it returns in January 2018. So, there will be more patience required, but not too much.

“Star Trek, one of the most iconic and influential global television franchises, returns 50 years after it first premiered with STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. STAR TREK: DISCOVERY will follow the voyages of Starfleet on their missions to discover new worlds and new lifeforms, and one Starfleet officer who must learn that to truly understand all things alien, you must first understand yourself. The series will feature a new ship, new characters and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers.”

Star Trek: Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, Doug Jones, Chris Obi, Anthony Rapp, Shazad Latif, Mary Chieffo, Mary Wiseman, Terry Serpico, Maulik Pancholy, Sam Vartholomeos, and James Frain. Rainn Wilson will be playing classic series character Harry Mudd.

Gretchen J Berg and Aaron Harberts are acting as showrunners for the series, while Akiva Goldsman, Vincenzo Natali and Nicholas Meyer are producing. Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman, Berg, Heather Kadin, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth and David Semel are serving as executive producers. The first season will consist of 15 episodes.

Star Trek: Discovery will air on CBS All Access later and Netflix this Autumn. Get all the latest science fiction news with every issue of SciFiNow.



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Free Fantasy Short Stories You Can Read Online

If you like to read, you probably already spend a fortune buying books. I know I can blow $50 at Amazon or Borders without blinking an eye. And as much as I like to support my favorite authors, it does get pricy to buy books all the time. Fortunately, you can find lots of great stuff to read online for free.

You may think I’m talking about those zillions of bottom-of-the-barrel, self-edited fan-fictions and the like (of course, some of those can be pretty good), but there are numerous online ezines with hard-working editors that select different original fantasy stories to feature each month. They pay their authors, just as the print magazines do, so they attract good quality writers.

Since I’m a fantasy fan myself, I’ll point out some fun ezines and websites where you can get your fantasy fix (without paying a dime). For readers of other genres, don’t despair, as there are plenty of great sites out there for you too. Just trying Googling your genre (i.e. mystery stories) + ezine or online magazine.

But, anyway, let’s get on with the fantasy!

Fantasy Magazine

This online magazine publishes fantasy short stories, nonfiction articles related to the genre, and book reviews. When it comes to fiction, you can expect everything from high fantasy to contemporary and urban stories. Magical realism, science fantasy, and folk tales are also found on the site’s digital pages. With new stories published every week, there are plenty of reasons to visit often.

http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/

Goblin Brothers Fantasy Stories

While most of the free story sites I’m mentioning are ezines with submissions by multiple authors, the Goblin Brothers are the work of one author, so not updated as often, but if you’re looking for cheeky heroes who use only their wits to get out of trouble (and to get into trouble too), then you might enjoy these stories.

http://www.goblinbrothers.com

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly

A relative newcomer to the game, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is an ezine that publishes short works of heroic fantasy. If sword-swinging barbarians and epic adventures are your cup of tea, you’ll want to check these guys out and give them your support.

http://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.com/

There are lots of other great fantasy short story sites out there, too, so don’t feel obligated to spend wads of money on books every month. If you can afford it, great, but if money is tight (as it is for all of us right now!), then enjoy the awesome free fantasy fiction you can find on the web.

How to Write a Novel – Fiction or Non-fiction

A writer’s desire to put words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into stories is by no means a mechanical process. It is a force to be reckoned with. You can’t create it, if it isn’t in you and you can’t get rid of it, if you’ve got the bug to write. But turning our vivid thoughts and imagination into solid form can be both challenging and inspiring. The style that you use will depend on whether you have chosen to write a fiction or non-fiction work.

Before you even start writing your book, it is wise to do some research. Do you know if the topic you have in mind is hot right now? Are there similar books on the market and are they selling well? A good way to find out is by reading newspapers, magazines, newsletter and ezines that cater to writers. Join writer’s groups and forums, as well talk to other people in the writing and publishing field. It is wise to be sure you have a potential audience for your book ahead of time.

FICTION WRITING

Fiction writing is base on imagination and if you have a good one, your story will be good. It can also be plot-driven, or based on an idea or concept. The thing to remember as we go through each aspect of fiction writing is that although your story is fantasy, it must still make sense.

The next thing to consider is the physical setting of your story. It must be authentic enough to be believed and include everything from scenery, to atmosphere and perhaps even weather. These elements might have a profound affect on the actions or moods of your characters.

For instance, does your story take place in a run down factory, a dance hall or spaceship? All of these evoke extremely different images. Then you need to ask yourself, do I want my setting to be simply a background or something more powerful?

Choosing the right ‘point of view’ and ‘narrative voice’ for your story is also very important. Writing in the first person, gives the reader the impression that you are personally invested in your story. A third person ‘point of view’ is more detached.

Time is another element that must be established. First of all, what time of day is it? Although you don’t need to specifically state that it’s 2 p.m., your story must indicate through other details that it is mid-afternoon. Different time periods immediately create pictures in the minds of readers. For instance, there is a world of difference between Washington in 2006 and Boston in the 1800s.

Next, the characters in your story must be considered. Are they the primary focus, rather than the plot? Who is the main character and how will you write your book to show that this person is the most important? A good way to answer these questions is to write down character outlines. Describe not only how they look, but also their character traits (strengths and weaknesses), personality, views and moods.

Your main character will be the one who is most affected in the story and/or plays the biggest role. He or she will be the one with the most force of action, the biggest problem, the most painful hurt or seeking to accomplish the most tantamount goal. This is the character that you want your readers to know best, to perhaps identify with and to care about. Then unless you are placing yourself in the story, decide which character will tell the tale. This is the ‘viewpoint character’ and the reader will experience the story through this character’s eyes. It is also possible to have more than one ‘viewpoint character.’

Next, consider the plot or story line. How will you let the plot unfold in a natural way and follow it through to the end? Where and at what point will the climax occur? Will there by semi-climaxes as the story moves along and at what points? If you are writing a plot-based story, the intricacies of the plot will be what create the most interesting tale. This, of course, will take some planning. In this case, it helps to write out your game plan ahead of time.

Dialogue is a vital aspect of any written work, as it can really bring out the personalities of your characters. It can also serve to fill in necessary information, without just stating it, it can be used to establish the time and place, and also to develop conflicts between characters. Whatever its purpose, writing dialogue is something that can be difficult to create, if you haven’t done it before. Don’t try to recreate actual conversations, as they’ll likely be very boring and annoying. For instance, most people repeat certain phrases and non-words like ‘um,’ ‘aha’ or ‘you see.’

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “double speak” at some point. In dialogue, it means that what your characters say and what they really mean are two different things. What are your characters saying “between the lines” or “subtext?” This can happen when one or more of your characters don’t really understand themselves or their own motivation. Showing a different side to a character through dialogue will tell the reader more about him or her than if you just outright said it. Knowing how to write this kind of dialogue can set you apart from other writers.

Also if your character has a slang or accent, don’t overdo it. Dialogue should also flow, without a lot of ‘he said,’ ‘she said.’ Also try to intersperse your conversations with associated actions. Finally, always remember to begin a new sentence each time another person speaks and put their words in quotations.

NON-FICTION WRITING

Non-fiction writing is based on reality, but is not necessarily factual. This genre includes recreations of true stories, biographies and autobiographies found in such things as books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements and reference books. You might also want to write a how-to book. There are many of them out there on everything from how to loose weight, dance, find the right mate and build a birdhouse, how to improve your golf game, learn to dance, read sheet music or improve your Internet marketing skills, start a business and even how to write.

Non-fiction also includes medical, travel, space books and whole host of other texts. Obviously, the most important aspect of non-fiction writing is to write about what you know best. You must do your homework and become an authority on your subject matter.

You must also have an angle or purpose. Why are you writing it? In answering that question, you must answer the questions: who, what, why, when and how. For instance, if you are writing on how to balance your budget, your purpose is to help people gain control over their finances. You must decide whether you are aiming at the poor, middle class or wealthy. What do they need to know and why? When should they begin their financial planning and how?

For general non-fiction writing, you must decide on the right ‘point of view’ and ‘narrative voice.’ For instance, if you are writing about a personal and painful experience of your own, you might want to present it in the first person. However, if you are not ready to tell the world it was ‘your’ experience, you will need to write it in the third person. If you’re writing an academic book, you might want to write in the third person in a ‘professor’s’ voice. If it is a book about a conspiracy, you might want to adopt a ‘suspicious’ tone.

Next, choose your setting, which for non-fiction writing should be an actual place. If this is not possible, you will need to recreate the setting as closely as possible. Then establish the time element and your character outlines. Again, these must be factual or as close to it as possible. You must then decide on your characters and who is the primary character. What is the plot and how important is it? Will there be actual dialogue in your non-fiction book? If so, make sure that all words, expressions and accents are authentic in relation to the time element. What genre does your book fall into and are you being true to form for that genre?

Finally, although your non-fiction book should be based on facts, you can be just as creative as a fiction writer to keep your writing from being too dry and boring. Don’t be afraid to spice it up a bit, but at the same time stick to the facts.

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Assuming that you know what genre or category your writing falls into, there are a few things to consider. You must be aware that there are certain conventions of structure, character and conversation that automatically come with specific genres. For instance, writers of science fiction often use the term “faster-than-light travel” or “warp speed.” The sci-fi writer needs to know how and where such terms are used, if he or she intends to use them. In mystery writing, the plot generally begins with a discovery, such as a dead body and ends when the mystery is solved. A great way to become familiar with the conventions of your particular genre is to read similar books by other writers.

There is much a beginning author needs to know about manuscript style, dealing with writer’s block, tricks to unleash the imagination, writing query letters and book proposals, using photos, the importance of editing and book covers, how to find a publisher and/or book agent, copyright, why you should get a literary critique, book contracts, marketing, advertising and so much more.

Logan film review: down to the bone


Most films in this genre need to succeed in order to guarantee sequels and justify plans for shared universes. Logan needed to be excellent because it had the chance to be a fitting farewell, an R-rated swansong for a character that has earned one, and a more personal take on the end of everything. It could be that rare thing in comic book movies: a great final chapter.

After a compromised “gritty, grounded” take on the character with The Wolverine, James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have finally been given free rein and they haven’t wasted it. Logan has a raw emotional power that the bulk of comic book films don’t seem to feel the need for. While other X-Men films are bursting at the seams with characters and timelines, the script by Mangold, Michael Green and Scott Frank is stripped down to the bare essentials: three characters on the run who are torn between remembering a better time and wanting to forget how they lost it.

It’s 2029, mutants are nearly all gone, and the Wolverine is no longer healing like he used to. He’s also a full-blown alcoholic, and drives a limo to pay for the black market drugs he takes across the border to Mexico. There, he and Caliban (Stephen Merchant) care for an invalid Charles Xavier, whose deteriorating mental state leads to potentially catastrophic seizures.

Trouble comes with cyborg mercenary Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook, a lot of sneering fun), who’s tracking a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen). Turns out, Laura’s a lot like the Wolverine, and after a terrifying display of her powers, she, Logan and Charles are racing across the country with Pierce and his Reavers close behind.

After spending the last few X-Men films wondering who’s going to get to say “fuck,” it’s a little jarring to hear Hugh Jackman (and everyone else for that matter, including Sir Patrick Stewart) spit the word so freely, and even more so to see him brutally dispatch a gang of thugs in the first sequence, no matter how prepared we were for swearing and gore. However, while the action sequences shock throughout (a lot of savage maiming, gaping wounds and claws through skulls), there’s depth beneath the dismemberment.

Logan is at its best when it forces its three leads to talk (or not, in the case of Laura) and listen to one another, and Jackman and Stewart clearly relish the opportunity to explore their roles in depth. The father-son relationship is given room to breathe over the 140 minute running time and it’s incredibly affecting. Stewart is as flawless as you’d expect, finding the tragedy and humour in the man who has next to no control over his mind and body left (“I’m not a box of avocados!”) but is still desperate for Logan to be the good man.

Logan, meanwhile, is essentially waiting for a time when he’s allowed to die. Jackman taps into the darkest elements of the character but never loses the humanity, and if this is his last outing, he’s gone out with a perfect, heart-breaking portrayal full of rage and grief.

Then there’s Laura. Keen is both terrifying and thrilling to watch as she carves a bloody swathe through the Reavers, and she gives as good as she gets in intense scenes with her veteran co-stars. Her carefully-paced emotional development completes this broken trio perfectly, peaking with a wonderful family dinner sequence full of well-earned sentiment.

Somewhat inevitably given the tone, the few issues come from the more familiar comic-book-y elements, which we won’t go into here for fear of spoilers. It’s also worth noting that Richard E Grant’s villainous Zander Rice could have done with a bit more bite, and that Mangold can’t always resist using a hammer when a lighter touch would do, especially in the second half. However, none of these problems are ever serious enough to derail the film.

We’re hesitant to describe Logan as “grown-up” or “adult” because really, what does that actually mean, but the raw emotions in the film pack as hard a punch as the Berserker rage and the f-bombs.

It’s a grim, violent and genuinely moving take on Wolverine that clearly loves his comic book origins but puts many of the genre’s constraints and tropes to one side to great effect. If this really is the last time we see Logan, we’re thrilled that he’s gone out with such a bang.



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Introduction to Science Fiction

Science fiction is simply a story that is based on speculative or plausible scientific ideas. Good examples of science fiction in pop culture include Transformers, Terminator Salvation, Jurassic Park,  A.I., Star Trek, and Resident Evil. All of these films deal with technologies that make seemingly amazing things possible. Notice that Lord of Rings and Nightmare on Elmstreet do not fall under the Sci-Fi category. Although amazing things happen in these movies, they are not scientifically based. Instead, they rely on supernatural ideas.

Science fiction does not have to be purely scientific in terms of accuracy; however, it must at least have a scientific theme. For example, if someone wrote a story about how a kid made a type a goo out of toxic waste and paint and then stuck electricity in it to produce a super hot woman, that would be sooooo unscientific for obvious reasons, but it is playfully a scientific theme, so that would be a sci-fi story  – probably a comedy.

Now that we know what science fiction is, let’s explore its history briefly and talk about its resulting genres. The genres may overlap in some cases where there is more than one theme. We will talk mostly about science fiction cinema (movies science fiction take place) because it is something more people can relate to.

First, there is hard Sci-Fi, which is about hardcore emphasis on science. It is also very strict on scientific detail to make the story as real as possible. All theories, even if unconfirmed, are carefully thought out based on what we know. Arthur C Clarke is one such famous writer of hard SF. He wrote A Fall Of Moondust.

Soft Sci-Fi on the other hand does not really mean lack of scientific accuracy. It actually means a lighter focus on science. The focus instead is usually exploring the aspects of the human condition in terms of psychology, economics, political science, sociology, and anthropology. V for Vendetta is a good example of soft Sci-Fi with its look into political science, sociology, biological warfare, futuristic electronic media/surveillance, and psychology.

Cyberpunk emerged in the 80’s and was especially popular around that time with films such as Blade Runner and Robocop. It features a pessimistic outlook on future society as corporations or an authoritative organization takes over society. Themes usually include a full reliance or immersion into information technologies, artificial intelligence, and prosthetics. The reason why the word punk is in it is because there is usually some kind of punk-attitude rebellion against such evil authoritative forces. This is shown especially in the 1995 film Hackers.

Time travel is also another Sci-Fi theme that is very popular. The Butterfly Effect and The Time Traveler come to mind. It is simply the exploration about the possibly of time travel as a central theme in the movie. Often, the question of the past affecting the future is explored. It also deals with the ethics of changing the past if indeed it were possible.

Alternative Sci-Fi is a very interesting subcategory in which time travel or alternate universe themes are used to ask what if history as we know it was changed. For example, in The Man In the High Castle, it explored the idea of what if the Allies had lost WWII and the Germans and Japs won. An intriguing thought indeed!

Military Sci-Fi explores conflicts between national, interplanetary, or interstellar armed forces. The details of the armed forces are seen in great detail usually from the perspectives of the soldiers themselves. Although Star Trek has overlapping themes in it, it can be considered a military Sci-Fi.

Superhuman is another sci-fi genre that has become very popular recently. It is about humans with exceptionally great strength. Examples are found in Superman, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, and Spider Man. These figures usually find themselves in alienation from the rest of society because they are different.

Finally, the last popular genre of Sci-Fi is the apocalyptic theme of the world ending. Apocalyptic films include Armageddon and of course 2012. It deals with mankind’s reaction to all that he knows coming to an end. It forces people to find meaning in something greater than themselves – whether it be about love or religion.

Other genres in Sci-Fi worth mentioning are Space Westerns, Space Operas(super-dramatic in space), Feminist SF(gender role exploration), New Wave(experimental crazy ideas), and Steam Punk(steam machines theme).

As you can see, science fiction genres are very broad in terms of their variety. These ideas should help you structure your ideas for your own original science fiction if you are going to write one. Remember, it’s not about whether the theme has been done a billion times. It’s the execution that tells whether you have bought your own depth to it. If you are serious about writing science fiction, then you should also get some science fiction reading in as opposed to just watching science fiction cinema.

A Cure For Wellness poster for Dane DeHaan horror takes a creepy bath


Following the new trailer for Gore Verbinski’s upcoming horror A Cure For Wellness, there’s a new poster (via IMPAwards) that emphasises the fact that there will be creepy eels featured in this film. Just in case you weren’t aware.

Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth star in the first horror from the Pirates Of The Caribbean and The Lone Ranger since he gave us The Ring remake.

“An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness centre” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. He soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem. When he begins to unravel its terrifying secrets, his sanity is tested, as he finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all the guests here longing for the cure. From Gore Verbinski, the visionary director of THE RING, comes the new psychological thriller, A CURE FOR WELLNESS.”

A Cure For Wellness will be released in cinemas in February 2017. For all the latest movie news, pick up the new issue of SciFiNow.



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Book Publisher Launches Science Fiction Trilogy Publishing Package


Xlibris, the leading book publisher in the industry, recently launched a publishing package tailor-made for science fiction writers. The Science Fiction Trilogy Publishing package is available to writers in the genre who have completed their imaginative tales, giving writers the means to put their work in print and reach their specific audience.

With three options to choose from, writers cannot go wrong with the Xlibris Science Fiction Trilogy Publishing. Choices start with the Sci-Fi Solo, which allows writers to publish a book for only $533. For authors who have conjured up a two-part story, the Sci-Fi Duo is perfect for publishing two books at only $1,000. Finally, the Sci-Fi Trilogy, the zenith of the three packages, enables the writer to publish their trilogy for only $1,333.

The Science Fiction Trilogy Publishing package also includes amazing features. The registration of their books with online resellers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders), targeted science fiction marketing, and a book review on the Yellow30 Science Fiction website are just some of the elements of the sci-fi publishing packages.

More information about the Xlibris Science Fiction Trilogy Publishing package can be found at www.xlibris.com.

About Xlibris
Xlibris was founded in 1997 and, as the leading publishing services provider for authors, has helped to publish more than 20,000 titles. Xlibris is based in Philadelphia, PA and provides authors with direct and personal access to quality publication in hardcover, trade paperback, custom leather-bound, and full-color formats.

For more information, please visit http://www.xlibris.com/requestkit/index.asp?src=apr&key=mm, e-mail pressrelease@xlibris.com or call at 1-888-795-4247, to receive a free publishing guide.

Unusual, Weird & Interesting Scholarships

Unusual, weird and interesting scholarships

Many students believe that they won’t be eligible for scholarships unless they’re the valedictorian or a star athlete or got a perfect score on their SAT. What these students don’t realize is that today there are scholarships for almost any skill or unique quality you can think of. You no longer have to break the state track record or win a national science fair to get money for college. Now you can earn scholarship money simply for having an unusual hobby or distinctive trait, for anything from knitting to being left-handed and from duck-calling to being interested in space and science fiction! Take a look at these weird, interesting, and fun scholarships we found and remember that applying for scholarships, just like the whole college admissions process, isn’t about being the world’s most perfect student but about highlighting your personal strengths and abilities.

Scholarships just for being you:

Tall Clubs International (TCI) Scholarship 
This scholarship is for those who have always been asked to get things down from the top shelf. Tall Clubs International (TCI) offers a $1,000 scholarship for tall people, the Kae Sumner Einfeldt Scholarship. Women who are at least 5’10” and men who are at least 6’2″ are eligible. Candidates must be under 21 years old and plan to attend college in the fall.

Little People of America Scholarship
By contrast, The Little People of America scholarship is an award given to future and current students who are 4?10? or less in height attending a college or vocational school. Prizes range from $250 to $1,000—sometimes more. Although one does not have to be a little person to apply, the greatest preference is given to LPA members who have been diagnosed with a form of dwarfism. Students with dwarf-diagnosed family members and those who demonstrate financial need are also given preference.

Scholarship for Left-Handed Students
For those in the company of greats like Albert Einstein, Picasso, and Jimmi Hendrix, Juniata College offers the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship of up to $1,000 for left-handed students.

Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship
Do you delight in finding new ways to cook tofu? Do your parents roll their eyes at your “meat is murder” bumper sticker? If so, you might be eligible for the Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship. High school seniors who promote vegetarianism in their schools and communities are eligible to win one of the group’s two $5,000 scholarships.

National Beef Ambassador Program
For those fonder of big macs than veggie burgers, a few lucky award winners will get the chance to represent the beef industry, and will receive a college scholarship. The National Beef Ambassador Program (NBAP) is a speech and interview competition for students between the ages of 16 to 19. Winners can earn between $250 and $2,500.

Twins Who Don’t Mind Seeing Each other for 4 More Years
Several schools offer scholarships for twins: Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, waives tuition for one twin when both enroll, Lake Erie College in Painsville, Ohio, offers half-off tuition for each twin, Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, has 45% discounts available on tuition for female twins only, Carl Albert State College in Oklahoma offers the Paula Nieto Twin Scholarship, George Washington University in Washington, DC gives a 50% discount for the second sibling, Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, VA gives a 15% discount, Sterling College in Kansas offers a 50% discount for each twin, and West Chester University of Pennsylvania offers the Bonnie Evans Feinberg Scholarship for twins.

Last Name Scholarships
A number of schools offer scholarships for students with particular last names. The Zolp Scholarship is restricted to students at Loyola University in Chicago who are Catholic and whose last name is Zolp. The good news is, the scholarship provides full tuition for four years; the bad news is, have you ever heard of anyone named Zolp? Texas A&M University pays full cost of attendance at for anyone whose last name is Scarpinato by birth or marriage. The John Gatling Grant provides scholarships for students who were born with a surname of Gatling or Gatlin to attend NC State University. The scholarship provides up to $9,000 for in-state students and $18,000 for out-of-state students. The Van Valkenburg Memorial Scholarship awards $1,000 to students with the Van Valkenburg name or a similar variation . Even Harvard University has several scholarships based on the student’s last name, including Baxendale, Hudson, Thayer, Downer, Bright.

Money for that unique hobby you never thought would pay off:

Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest
Students who can quack their hearts out for 90 seconds using four calls: hail, feed, comeback and mating and can win big ducks, I mean, bucks for higher education (we couldn’t resist a least one bad pun). Seriously though, The Duck Calling Contest awards $1,500 to the best duck-calling high school student. The first runner-up receives $500, the second $300 and the third $200 in scholarship money.

Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship
Now how to land a kickflip? Could you do Ollies in your sleep? The Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship awards one $5,000 and three $1,000 scholarships to skateboarders who are high school seniors with a GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale and submit an essay on how skateboarding has had a positive impact on their lives. Recipients must enroll as a full-time undergraduate at an accredited college or university the fall after high school graduation.

Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest
In our first scholarship for sci-fi enthusiasts, student authors and artists can submit science fiction stories and/or illustrations to be considered for this award of up to $4,000. An entry consists of three black and white works illustrating a science fiction or fantasy story with no recurring theme. Entries may not have been previously published. Should the artist win the Illustrators Contest with their first entry, he is then sent a story from the companion L. Ron Hubbard Writers of The Future Contest for which to render an illustration. This illustration then becomes his or her entry in the yearly Grand Prize competition. Three winners are selected each quarter and are awarded $500 each; the yearly Grand Prize winner is awarded $4000.

American Welding Society Scholarships
Student welders familiar with trade skills such as allied joining, brazing, soldering and thermal spraying are eligible for this scholarship. The American Welding Society Foundation offers numerous scholarships to students interested in welding-related education or training programs. Award sizes depend on the scholarship.

SPAACSE Scholarships
The Society of Performers, Artists, Athletes and Celebrities for Space Exploration, Inc. (SPAACSE) offers two $1,000 scholarships: The SPAACSE Galaxy Music Scholarship for graduating high school seniors who are pursuing an interest in space music as a means of expressing the beauty and inspiration of the universe and The SPAACSE Liliane Webb Art Scholarship for graduating high school seniors who have an interest in space art.. The music submission must be recorded on either a cassette or CD and should be 4-6 minutes in length.
Candidates for the art scholarship must provide an original two-dimensional space artwork to be considered for this award. Candidates must also include a 1-2 page description of prior artistic and other school activities and awards.

Knitting
If you know the different between a knit stitch and a purl stitch and your friends make fun of you for having a grandma-hobby, you may be able to get scholarships. The American Sheep Industry Association sponsors four scholarships for applicants who submit a sample of an article of clothing they created completely with wool. Philadelphia University also offers the Bernard Steur Scholarship for textile engineering students with an interest in knitting. Also, The National Make It Yourself with Wool (NMIYWW) competition awards $2,000 and $1,000 scholarships for knitting wool garments. Winners are selected based on the appropriateness to the contestant’s lifestyle, coordination of fabric/yarn with garment style and design, contestant’s presentation, and creativity.

David Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship
Because David Letterman was a C student at Ball State University, he established a scholarship at his alma mater that is awarded to telecommunications majors based strictly on the creativity of a submitted project, rather than a student’s GPA. The awards are intended for average students who nevertheless have a creative mind. Projects may involve a variety of media, including written work, research, audio, video, graphics and film. The winner receives a $10,000 scholarship. The first runner-up receives $5,000. The second runner-up receives $3,333.

Aspiring Children’s Television Stars
Similarly, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awards three $10,000 scholarships annually in the name of the late Fred Rogers (yes, Mr. “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” Rogers) to college students pursuing a career in children’s media.

Rodeo
At last those lasso skills can rope you some money. Institutional awards, like Colorado State University’s rodeo scholarships, are usually reserved for students on the school’s rodeo team. Private awards, like the San Angelo Rodeo Scholarship, give students more flexibility in their college choice, but often have other requirements, like county of residence.

Puppetry
The Connecticut Guild of Puppetry offers the Margo Rose Scholarship for students involved in puppetry who wish to attend the National Puppetry Conference. The American chapter of the theatre organization Union Internationale de la Marionette, offers scholarships for students with experience in puppetry to study at the Institut Internationale de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France. Since puppetry degree programs are rare, most scholarships in this field are for private programs or for puppetry studies within a theatre arts department. Pinocchio would be proud.

Chess
Chess stars could turn their winning moves into money for college. Several colleges, including Texas Tech University, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the University of Texas at Dallas, offer promising chess players up to four-year, full-tuition scholarships. The United States Chess Federation provides information on chess tournaments and available chess scholarships, both college and privately-sponsored. Casual chess players, be warned, these scholarship programs are often very competitive.

Rugby
Rugby may not be an official sport at most U.S. universities, but it can still help pay your college costs. Rugby scholarships are offered at New Mexico University, Texas A&M University, Saint Bonaventure University and many other colleges. Playing rugby can also send you abroad. The Center for International Studies offers a rugby study abroad program for students to study for one or two semesters in Wellington, New Zealand and play in a local rugby club. A $500 scholarship is available to make this program more affordable. Check with USA Rugby for more rugby scholarships.

United States Bowling Congress (USBA) Scholarships
Yes, bowling congress. And each season, bowling associations, councils, tournaments and proprietors offer over $6 million in scholarship money. Some of these programs include the Chuck Hall Star of Tomorrow Award for $1,500 per year for three years, the Annual Zeb Scholarship for $2,500, the Alberta E. Crowe Star of Tomorrow for $1,500 per year for three years, the Youth Ambassador Award for $1,500, and the Gift for Life Award for $1,000.

Bagpipe Majors at Carnegie Mellon
One of the least competitive scholarships in the U.S.—it’s not unusual for there to be zero applicants—is the Carnegie Mellon University Bagpipe Scholarship. It offers $7,000 per year to a student who intends to major in bagpiping. You even get a kilt subsidy.

Just plain unusual scholarships:

Duck® brand duct tape Stuck at Prom® Contest
The Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest is open to students ages 14 years or older who are attending a high school prom in the spring. Entrants must enter as a couple and attend a high school prom wearing complete attire or accessories made from duct tape. The submission must include a color photograph of the couple together in prom attire. The winning couple gets $3,000 each towards college and some cash for their school to boot. Other prizes include $1,000 for second place, $500 for third, and Duck Tape sportswear for honorable mentions. The winning couple will be selected based on a variety of criteria, including originality, workmanship, quantity of Duck Tape used, use of colors, and creative use of accessories.

Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year (SAMMY) Award
If you demonstrate excellence in academics, athletic performance, leadership and community service, and like to sport a milk mustache, this is the scholarship for you. Candidates must also be a resident of one of the 48 contiguous states or the District of Columbia. Each of 25 winners receives $7,500 in scholarship money, a designated place in the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex and a role in a USA Today Milk Mustache special.

Students for Organ Donation Youth Leadership Award
Candidates of this awardmust have made a commitment to raising awareness of organ donation and transplantation. Selection is based on effectiveness, leadership, creativity and sustainability of efforts. Applications may be based either on a report of previous events that have successfully raised organ donation awareness, or a detailed and realistic plan to raise donor awareness. One or two $500 to $1,000 scholarships will be awarded.

Evans Scholars Foundation Scholarship
Where would golfers be without their caddies? Not very far. For all of their help, caddies are finally being rewarded by the Evans Scholars Foundation. Each year, the Western Golf Association awards scholarships to more than 200 student caddies. Scholarship winners are required to reside in the scholarship house at each participation college. They must also demonstrate academic merit, financial need, exceptional character and, of course, a great caddie record.

Klingon Language Institute Award
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a Klingon-loving Trekky to apply. The Klingon Language Institute (KLI) awards this $500 scholarship award to one graduate or undergraduate student each year. The scholarship was created to encourage the study of and achievement in the area of language. Applicants must be nominated by a school department and must demonstrate academic merit. Submissions should include the nomination letter, two recommendation letters, a resume and a statement of future intent.

The National Candy Technologists Scholarship
The American Association of Candy Technologists (AACT) awards a $5,000 scholarship to sophomore, junior and senior students who demonstrate an interest in confectionary technology. The award is paid in two $2,500 installments to winners who attend an accredited four-year college or university. Applicants must earn a 3.0 GPA and be majoring in food science, chemical science, biological science or a related field, and, of course, be a bit of a chocoholic.

National Marbles Tournament Scholarship
This isn’t your friendly game of marbles—this game is for keeps for the eight to fourteen-year-old players who compete. The King and Queen of Marbles (yes, that’s what they call the winners) will each receive $2,000, and, to calm things down a bit, a sportsmanship award of $1,000 will also be granted. The eight pages of rules, albeit in large child-like print, will show you just how serious these competitors are.

The Spirit of the Hiram College Hal Reichle Scholarship
Here is some chicken soup for the college student soul. This scholarship is administered by the Secret Society of Serendipitous Service to Hal, otherwise known as SSSSH. Hal Reichle had a history of secretly surprising people with sweet gifts. He was a modern-day Santa Clause and SSSSH is convinced that Hiram College has more of them. It’s about time being nice got you some cash!