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Site of the Week: The Website at the End of the Universe

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Mark Stachiew is always a bit surprised when he looks at the keywords people use to find his website. That’s because a good number reflect a search for info about the end of existence as we know it. “I always hope they’re not disappointed when they find out that I don’t have the answer — unless 42 counts.”

Neither an apocalyptic database nor an evangelical site of redemption, The Website at the End of the Universe is, to the contrary, an irreverent Sci-Fi blog that started as a dial-up Bulletin Board System back in 1992. While most sci-fi blogs trouble themselves with disseminating genre news to fill pixels, Stachiew (or rather his onscreen avatar  Captain Xerox) says his website is a web log in the absolute traditional sense of the word: “I track links of interesting science fiction sites I’ve visited and share them with my readers,” he says. “I actually don’t even read any other science fiction blogs on a regular basis, so you’ll find that most of the links on my blog aren’t recycled.” That doesn’t mean Stachiew has no interest in Sci-Fi news, but to that end he has created an ancillary Digg-like website called SciFinds, which encourages visitors to submit news links and vote on their favorite stories.

One of the more remarkable aspects about TWATEOTU (Stachiew’s abbreviation) is the community, which has stayed loyal since the site’s early dial-up days. “We’re an old school online community with BBS roots so there’s a bit more depth to our discussions,” he says. “I’ve learned about all sorts of new authors that I never would have discovered, sub-genres of Japanese monster movies I never would have watched, and made some good friends both on and offline.”

But the site attracts new visitors every day, some drawn to its nomenclature (with its reference to Douglas Adams’ sequel to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy); others eager to drool over Stachiew’s yearly Sci-Fi calendar, which features twelve months of scantily-clad space babes from pulp magazine covers. “Thousands of people download the calendar ever year. I’ve always been curious to know how many people actually print it out and use it,” Stachiew muses. Chances are that 42 isn’t the correct answer to that question.

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