Pixel Scroll 8/31/20 Inspired By Cordwainer Smith And Seeing
A Sign Backwards

(1) THE BROTHERS STRUGATSKY. “Striving to become: how a former officer changed Russian science fiction” at Pledge Times.

,,,,But it was Arkady Strugatsky who was the first to understand that if they really want to “break out, break through, ah,” then the last thing they need to do for this is to become normal good science fiction writers.

He formulates the credo of the Strugatsky writers back in 1959: “Our works should be entertaining, not only and not so much in their idea – even if the idea has been sucked by fools ten times before – but in a) the breadth and ease of presentation of scientific material; “Down with Zhulvernovshchina”, we must look for very precise, short, clever formulations designed for a developed student of the tenth grade; b) according to the good language of the author and the diverse language of the heroes; c) by the reasonable courage of introducing into the narrative the assumptions “on the verge of the possible” in the field of nature and technology and by the strictest realism in the actions and behavior of the heroes; d) by a bold, bold and once again bold appeal to any genres that seem acceptable in the course of the story for a better depiction of a particular situation. Not to be afraid of light sentimentality in one place, rude adventurism in another, a little philosophizing in the third, amorous shamelessness in the fourth, etc. Such a mixture of genres should give things an even greater flavor of the extraordinary. Isn’t the extraordinary our main theme? “

(2) MAGICAL POWERS. James Davis Nicoll asks the Young People Read Old SFF panel what they think about “The Putnam Tradition” by Sonya Hess Dorman.

Sonya Hess Dorman’s science fiction career lasted about a generation and produced enough short pieces to fill a collection, as a well as a fix-up. I first encountered Dorman via her ?“When I Was Miss Dow”, reprinted in Pamela Sargent’s ground-breaking Women of Wonder (as well as many other anthologies). ?“When I Was Miss Dow” was considered for a Nebula, although it didn’t make the finalist list, and it won a retrospective Tiptree. Odds on the favourite for inclusion in Rediscovery. That is not the call Journey Press made. Journey Press eschews the easy choices.

One wonders, therefore, what my Young People will make of the Dorman Journey did select.

(3) STAND AND DELIVERY DATE. ScreenRant looks for clues to the forthcoming series: “The Stand Trailer Teases the Aftermath of the Modern-Day Plague”. The limited weekly show will debut on CBS All-Access on December 17, 2020. ScreenRant adds:

King has reportedly written a new ending for The Stand, which isn’t surprising considering he has released multiple versions of the novel since its initial release in 1978.

(4) SFF EXHIBIT ARCHIVED ONLINE. “A Conversation larger than the Universe: science fiction and the literature of the fantastic” is a website that provides an illustrated record of the books and other materials displayed at the Grolier Club in New York City from January to March 2018. 

It suggests, among other things, a history of science fiction from its Gothic roots to the present. Items are arranged here chronologically and the labels are keyed to numbers in the exhibition checklist included in A Conversation larger than the Universe. Readings in Science Fiction and the Fantastic 1762-2017, published by the Grolier Club (and available here). 

In the original exhibition, the entries were grouped in four broad periods: from 1762 to 1912 (nos. 1-14); the interwar years (nos. 15-27); the late 1940s through 1980 (nos. 28-49); and from 1981 to the present (nos. 50-70); there are seven chronological headings here, and three additional headings offer new ways of making connections between the works. A very few items displayed at the Grolier Club are not reproduced on this website.

(5) IF YOU EVER ASKED, “WHERE IS MY FLYING CAR?” CNN reports “Japanese company successfully tests a manned flying car for the first time”.

A Japanese company has announced the successful test drive of a flying car.

Sky Drive Inc. conducted the public demonstration on August 25, the company said in a news release, at the Toyota Test Field, one of the largest in Japan and home to the car company’s development base. It was the first public demonstration for a flying car in Japanese history.

The car, named SD-03, manned with a pilot, took off and circled the field for about four minutes.

“We are extremely excited to have achieved Japan’s first-ever manned flight of a flying car in the two years since we founded SkyDrive… with the goal of commercializing such aircraft,” CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said in a statement.

(6) IN THE TRASH. Alan Stewart’s report of site selection voting in CoNZealand Progess Report #4, released today,prompted a critical response from Cade. Thread starts here.

(7) SOMETHING NEW. As Variety notes, it may not be big as Hollywood measures things, it’s just the biggest thing going: “Box Office: ‘New Mutants’ Lands $7 Million Debut”

Superhero thriller “The New Mutants,” one of the first major movies to open since coronavirus forced theaters to close in March, launched to $7 million over the weekend. Though ticket sales were on the lower end of expectations, the Disney and 20th Century Studios title marks the biggest debut yet for a new release during the pandemic.

Around 60-70% of theaters have reopened across the U.S. and Canada, according to Disney. However, some of the biggest moviegoing markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, New Jersey and New York, still remain closed. In parts of the country where theaters have resumed business, venues are capping capacity and keeping space between seats to comply with social distancing measures. “The New Mutants” played in 2,412 theaters, making it the widest release in months.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 31, 1979 Time After Time premiered. (It would lose out to Alien for Best Dramatic Presentation at Noreascon Two.)  It was directed by Nicholas Meyer who wrote the screenplay from a story by Karl Alexander and Steve Hayes, and produced by Herb Jaffe. The primary cast was Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen. Reception by critics was unambiguously positive, the box office was good and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 72% rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 31, 1908 – William Saroyan.  This remarkable Armenian American gave us a short novel Tracy’s Tiger and a handful of short stories.  One was in Unknown Worlds!  Outside our field his play The Time of Your Life won a Pulitzer Prize, which he refused, saying commerce should not judge the arts; his screenplay for The Human Comedy, rejected as too long, he made into a novel and won an Academy Award for Best Story.  In 1991 the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. jointly issued postage stamps honoring him.  (Died 1981) [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1914 Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Died 1984.) (CE) 
  • Born August 31, 1927 – Ted Coconis, 93.  Illustrates children’s books e.g. Newbery Award winner The Summer of the Swans.  For us, here is Camber of Culdi.  Here is Labyrinth.  Here is A Matter of Time.  Here is Dorian Gray.  Here is Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1941 – Larry Schwinger, 79.  Six dozen covers, a handful of interiors.  Here is The Owl Service.  Here is Star Rangers.  Here is On Basilisk Station.  Here is the Jul 95 Burroughs Bulletin.  Here is Kindred.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1942 – Alan J. Lewis, 78.  Member of the leading apas of his day, FAPAOMPASAPS, he famously in the mid-1960s organized the Fanzine Foundation which shipped a ton of fanzines – really; more than 2,800 pounds – to Bruce Pelz, where they became part of his elephantine collection; this at BP’s death went to Univ. California at Riverside.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1949 Richard Gere, 71. He was Lancelot in First Knight starring Sean Connery as King Arthur, and  he was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it for genre video work. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honors, but he also was in live performances of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in the Sixties. (CE) 
  • Born August 31, 1968 – Néné Thomas, 52.  As it happens she was Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at InCon the year I was Fan Guest of Honor; since then, Loscon 29, Windycon 37, MidSouthCon 29, ConQuesT 46.  Artbooks Parting the VeilThe Unwinding Path.  Here is Aveliad: the Forest done as a 1,000-piece puzzle.  Also she makes cross-stitch charts and decorative resin butterflies.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1969 Jonathan LaPaglia, 51. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favorite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in a really bad film called Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history as far as I can tell unless you count the Bones series as SF in which he’s in “The Skull in the Sculpture” episode as Anton Deluca. (CE)
  • Born August 31, 1974 Marc Webb, 46. Director of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as well as the forthcoming Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He’s also directed over ninety music videos over the past several decades with the first being Blues Traveler’s “Canadian Rose”.  (CE) 
  • Born August 31, 1982 G. Willow Wilson, 38. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the Hugo Award winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list as well. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite the read. The only thing I’ve by her that I’ve not quite liked is her World Fantasy Award winning Alif the Unseen novel.  I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story: should I? (CE)
  • Born August 31, 1984 – Cassandra Khaw, 36.  Her work is horrible – I mean, on purpose.  Or we could call it horrific.  She knows and includes Southeast Asian images.  Hammers on Bone is one of four Re-imagining Lovecraft novellas.  Fifty short stories, half a dozen poems, in ApexDaily SFGamutThe Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionUncanny; interviewed in LightspeedMithila ReviewNightmare.  Ranks Oor Wombat’s Castle Hangnail above Lukyankenko’s Night Watch and Pratchett’s too.  [JH]
  • Born August 31, 1992 Holly Earl, 28. English actress who was Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, and Agnes in Humans. She also played the young Kristine Kochanski in Red Dwarf in the “Pete, Part One” as well as Lily Arwell in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor story, “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.“ She was Céline in the “Musketeers Don’t Die Easily” episode of Musketeers, and played Hermia in the ‘18 A Midsummer Night’s Dream film. (CE) 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) DC IGNORES COMICS SHOPS. Cliff Biggers, owner of Dr. No’s Comics in Marietta, GA told Facebook followers today:

DC’s latest slap in the face to comic shops: in all their promotional information about Batman Day, they don’t mention anything about comic shops or what they intend to do for our market (probably because, as in years past, they don’t intend to do ANYTHING for our market). Short of beating us up and stealing our lunch money, there isn’t much more that DC can do to show their contempt for comic shops that would surprise me any more.

(12) BATMAN NEWS. This is from U.S. News: “Batman Prowls Streets of Santiago Delivering Food to Homeless”

There is a masked crusader on the streets of Santiago, Chile this summer.  But rather than fighting criminals, Solidarity Batman delivers hot meals.  Months of lockdown have caused hardship in Chile, where unemployment has reached a record 12 percent.  Recently, an unidentified man has been donning a full Batman suit, plus a surgical mask for coronavirus protection, and travelling through the capital city sharing sympathy and plates of food.  Almost anybody can be like him, the everyday superhero says.  ‘Look around you, see if you can dedicate a little time, a little food, a little shelter, a word sometimes of encouragement to those who need it.

(13) NUMBER FIVE, NUMBER FIVE. James Davis Nicoll counts up ”Five SFF Stories Featuring Truly Terrible Parents”.

Parents! Pesky narrative roadblocks when writing books centred on young people. Common, garden-variety parents want to make sure their offspring are healthy and happy, which is a problem for writers who want to send young protagonists off into danger. Authors can, of course, dispatch parents to a location too distant for them to interfere or simply kill them off—both very popular choices—but there is another alternative: Simply have the parents themselves (or their equivalent) be part of the problem….

(14) STRANGE AUCTION ITEM: Heritage Auctions is taking bids on a fragment salvaged from the Hindenburg wreckage. Current bid is $5,000.

Graf Zeppelin Hindenburg: Large Section of Aluminum Framework. 28″ long section of the strut or framework used to construct the famous dirigible Hindenburg, destroyed in a catastrophic & dramatic explosion on May 6, 1937, while attempting to dock at the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The scene was captured on film and broadcast live via radio. The reason for the explosion remains elusive and controversial, even to this day. It is thought that a spark of static electricity might have ignited the flammable outer skin. Various relics from the event come on the market from time to time, but none are as sought-after as sections of the strut work. This example is covered in deep emerald and black carbon deposits. It is accompanied by a July 14, 2020 Letter of Provenance that indicates a workman in the clean-up crew, Harry Manyc, was permitted to take home a large section of the “ribbing” as a souvenir, from which pieces, like this, were parceled out over the years.

(15) WHERE HE GOT HIS LICENSE. At BBC Sounds, a 9-minute “Witness History” segment: “Inventing James Bond”.

The author Ian Fleming created the fictional super-spy, James Bond, in the 1950s. Fleming, a former journalist and stockbroker, had served in British naval intelligence during the Second World War. Using interviews with Fleming and his friends from the BBC archive, Alex Last explores how elements of James Bond were drawn from Ian Fleming’s own adventurous life.

(16) BE THE ENTRÉE. We ran an item before about what visitors can eat here – now read about something there that’s ready to swallow them: “Godzilla Museum Allows You to Zipline Into the Kaiju’s Mouth”.

The Godzilla Museum located in Japan is now open. The Attraction features tons of Godzilla memorabilia, interactive sections and a themed menu. Most notably, the upcoming giant true-to-size statue that allows you to zipline into Godzilla’s mouth to perform a mission.

(17) UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS. In these homes, it’s not the staff you’ll find below stairs: “Truly, madly, deeply: meet the people turning their basements into secret fantasy worlds” in The Guardian.

…Shron needed the perfect basement because, for nearly 30 years, he had dreamed of building a life-size replica of a 1970s Canadian VIA Rail railway carriage inside his house, the exact train that took him from Toronto to Montreal to visit his grandmother when he was a little boy.

Step inside Shron’s basement today and you will be greeted by a 200lb blue-and-yellow train door. As you pass through it, an MP3 player will hiss the sounds of air circulation accompanied by the squeaking of gangway connections. Inside the carriage there are rows of vintage reclinable red-and-orange-striped seats, luggage racks, a real VIA garbage can removed from a scrapped train and a metal sign instructing passengers that smoking is indeed permitted. What Shron couldn’t find on the scrap heap, he made. He printed out orange litter bags, custom-printed napkins and engraved wine glasses.

“The great thing was it ended up looking exactly as I’d envisioned it,” the 45-year-old says of his basement train, which took him four-and-a-half years to build and cost $10,000 (the scrapped carriage alone cost $5,000). “I fell in love with VIA trains from the age of two – I became madly obsessed, it’s all I would talk about, all I wanted.” Shron recreated the train that he took to visit family to tap into “that very warm, comfortable, positive energy” he felt as a child. “I get a little bit of that every time I go down to the train.”

Shron’s basement is an unusual thing, but it is perhaps a little more common than you’d expect. A number of people have created their own “worlds” underneath their homes. In late May, the listing for a Maryland mansion went viral after a Twitter user discovered a fake town inside the basement. The basement features cobbled streets, 15 shopfronts, fake flowers and real vintage cars. But even this isn’t unusual. More than a decade ago, a YouTube video documented the basement of John Scapes, an Illinois man who had built an 1890s street under his home.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, James Davis Nicoll, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James Moar.]

Final CoNZealand Progress Report Available

CoNZealand, the 2020 Worldcon, has published a post-convention roundup of awards and other official announcements in Progress Report #4.

It includes recaps of the Masquerade, Big Heart, First Fandom, Sir Julius Vogel Awards and Hugo and Retro Hugo Awards winners, and results of the 2022 Worldcon site selection.

There is a reminder about how to get the Sir Julius Vogel Awards finalists voters packet (available until mid-September)

And there also is an update on Souvenir Books delivery.

The Chairs say in their final Progress Report message, “It was a ten year journey from inception to completion, thank you all for exploring the virtual space of CoNZealand with us.”

[Based on a press release.]

2020 Sunburst Award Winners

Sunburst medallion.

The Sunburst Award Committee announced the winners of the 2020 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic in Adult, Young Adult, and Short
Story categories on August 31.

ADULT AWARD

The winner of the 2020 Sunburst Award for Adult Fiction is Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey).

The Sunburst Jury commented:

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an exquisite genre blender with a painfully human story at its heart. Gods of Jade and Shadow masterfully mixes together fairy tales, romance, historical fantasy, a coming-of-age feminist story, and a lavishly detailed odyssey through Mexican history and mythology. It is truly a tale of the fantastic, defying categorization while celebrating the magic of imagination itself. 

“Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination”, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is no stranger to the Sunburst family. Her debut novel, Signal to Noise, won a Copper Cylinder Award. Her short story collection, This Strange Way of Dying was a finalist for the Sunburst. She has edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award winner Cthulhu’s Daughters (published in Canada as She Walks in Shadows). Silvia is a publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, as well as being a columnist for the Washington Post. She holds an MA in Science and Technology Studies from the University of British Columbia. Gods of Jade and Shadow was the 2020 American Library Association Reading List winner in the Fantasy category.

The other shortlisted works for the 2020 Adult Award were:

  • Scott R. Jones, Shout Kill Revel Repeat [Trepidatio Publishing]
  • Helen Marshall, The Migration [Random House Canada]
  • Karen McBride, Crow Winter [HarperAvenue]
  • Richard Van Camp, Moccasin Square Gardens [Douglas & McIntyre]

YOUNG ADULT AWARD

The 2020 winner of the Sunburst Award for Young Adult Fiction is The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills [Annick Press]

The Sunburst Jury commented:

Allison Mills’ The Ghost Collector is both delightful and haunting. A delicious blend of the supernatural and the very real. Mills has great respect for her audience. Taking great care to keep the narrative moving while never simplifying the novel's ideas and themes of loss. The result is a nuanced study in empathy for both the characters and the readers. 

As the daughter of a teacher-librarian, Allison Mills grew up surrounded by books, and discovered an early passion for fantasy tales, which grew into a life-long fascination with ghosts. As someone who is Ililiw-Cree and settler Canadian, she sympathizes with those who like to straddle boundary spaces. And this fascination with the ghost world inspired her first novel, The Ghost Collector. Allison is an avid student, achieving three Masters degrees, including an MFA in Creative Writing. She works as an academic librarian and archivist.

The other shortlisted works for the 2019 Young Adult Award were:

  • Nafiza Azad , The Candle and the Flame [Scholastic Inc.]
  • Sara Cassidy, Nevers [Orca Book Publishers]
  • Aviaq Johston, Those Who Dwell Below [Inhabit Media]
  • Jess Keating, Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray [Scholastic Inc.]

SHORT STORY AWARD

The winner of the 2020 Sunburst Award for Short Story is “The Fourth Trimester is the Strangest” by Rebecca Campbell [The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May/June 2019]

The Sunburst Jury commented:

With a brilliant eye for detail and a masterful sense of control, Rebecca Campbell has crafted an unforgettable and quietly terrifying story, one that combines domestic horror – in this case the disorientation of postpartum depression – with the supernatural in a seamless and thoughtful fashion. It is at once plausible and terrifying. The fragmentation of the central character`s personality is believably and sympathetically drawn. As in all the best stories about mental disintegration, we are left wondering where the truth in fact lies.

Rebecca Campbell’s work has been in Canadian literary magazines such as Grain and Prairie Fire. She is also published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Interdictions Online and Interzone. Her first novel, The Paradise Engine, was published by NeWest Press in 2013. She received her Masters Degree in English at the University of British Columbia. Originally from Duncan, British Columbia, Rebecca now resides in Toronto.

The other shortlisted works for the 2019 Short Story Award were:

  • Amal El-Mohtar, “Florilegia” [The Mythic Dream, Gallery/Saga Press]
  • Kate Heartfield, “The Inland Beacon” [Tesseracts Twenty-Two Alchemy and Artifacts, July 2019]
  • Catherine Kim, “The Hundred Gardens” [Nat. Brut, Issue 12, Spring 2019]
  • Richard Van Camp, “Wheetago War II: Summoners” [Moccasin Square Gardens, Douglas & McIntyre]

The 2020 Sunburst Award jury members were Peter Darbyshire, Kristyn Dunnion, Omar El Akkad, Michelle Butler Hallett, John Jantunen, Michael Johnstone, Ursula Pflug, and Sarah Tolmie.

[Based on a press release.]

New Collection of Aldiss Essays from Ansible Editions

Photograph of Brian Aldiss in June 1970 taken by Margaret Aldiss.

The Jonbar Point: Essays from SF Horizons by Brian Aldiss will be released by Ansible Editions on September 1, with a new introduction by Christopher Priest.

The Jonbar Point collects, for the first time, two major essays on science fiction which Brian Aldiss published in the two issues of SF Horizons, the magazine of science fiction criticism originally published and edited by Aldiss and Harry Harrison, with Tom Boardman Jr.

  • “Judgement at Jonbar” (1964) is a lengthy analysis on several levels of Jack Williamson’s pulp-era classic The Legion of Time, which gave SF the term “jonbar point” – where alternative timelines diverge. This essay is described in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as “one of the most penetrating studies yet written about a pulp-sf novel”.
  • “British Science Fiction Now: Studies of Three Writers” (1965) examines the work of the contemporary authors Lan Wright, Donald Malcolm and J.G. Ballard – treating the first two somewhat cruelly (though very entertainingly) and the third with measured admiration. This, based on his early work to 1965, was the first substantial critical study of the later very famous J.G. Ballard.

27,000 words. Trade paperback 9″ x 6″, 82pp. £7.50 or $9.99 plus local postage from Lulu.com: click here. Ebook in the usual formats at £3.00: click here.

2020 Gamescom Awards

Gamescom, the world’s largest event for computer and video games, announced the winners of the 2020 Gamescom Awards in two virtual ceremonies over the weekend.

This year the Best Of Gamescom Award went to Cyberpunk 2077, an RPG developed by Polish studio CD Project Red. The game also impressed the jury in the categories of Best Sony PlayStation Game, Best PC Game and Best Role-Playing Game. Fans, in consumer voting, also chose the game as “the most hotly anticipated” of all the games nominated for the award.

This year’s special jury prize, the Heart Of Gaming Award, went to the all-digital Indie Arena Booth, a virtual walk-through MMO designed by Super Crowd Entertainment within a few months.

The prizes in the following genre and platform categories were awarded during the Gamescom: Best Of Show on August 30.

Best Family Game

  • KeyWe, Stonewheat & Sons

Best Ongoing Game

  • Borderlands 3, 2K

Best PC Game

  • Cyberpunk 2077, CD PROJEKT RED

Best Racing Game

  • DIRT5, Codemasters

Best Remaster

  • Mafia: Definitive Edition, 2K

Best Role-Playing Game

  • Cyberpunk 2077, CD PROJEKT RED

Best Simulation

  • Project CARS 3, Bandai Namco Entertainment

Best Sports Game

  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, Activision

Best Strategy Game

  • Humankind, Amplitude Studios & SEGA Europe

Most Original Game

  • Voidtrain, Hypetrain Digital

Most Wanted Hardware/Technology

  • Xbox Series X, Microsoft

Winners of the following gamescom global and consumer awards were also revealed during the gamescom: Best Of Show.

Best Announcement

  • Unknown 9: Awakening, Reflector Entertainment

Best Lineup

  • Bandai Namco Entertainment

Best of Gamescom

  • Cyberpunk 2077, CD PROJEKT RED

Best Presentation/Trailer

  • Little Nightmares 2, Tarsier Studios

Best Show

  • World of Tanks Blitz gamescom Stream, Wargaming

Best Streamer

  • Erik “Gronkh” Range

Gamescom “Most Wanted” Consumer Award

  • Cyberpunk 2077, CD PROJEKT RED

HEART OF GAMING Award

  • Indie Arena Booth, Super Crowd Entertainment

The following winners were already announced on August 27 during Gamescom: Opening Night Live.

Best Action Adventure Game

  • Watch Dogs Legion, Ubisoft

Best Action Game

  • Star Wars Squadrons, Electronic Arts

Best Indie Game

  • Curious Expedition 2, Maschinen-Mensch

Best Microsoft Xbox Game

  • Tell Me Why, Microsoft

Best Multiplayer Game

  • Operation Tango, Clever Plays

Best Nintendo Switch Game

  • Little Nightmares 2, Bandai Namco Entertainment

Best Sony PlayStation Game

  • Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red

Pixel Scroll 8/30/20 An Eruciform’s Body Is Wonderful Long.
Says Alice.

(1) FILM PRODUCTION RESUMES IN PRAGUE. Czech diplomat Jaroslav Olsa Jr. told Facebook readers, “I am happy that the Czech Republic is back as the powerhouse for Hollywood productions as it became the first country in Central Europe to reopen for filmmakers!” And he linked to this Czech Film Commission post: “Carnival Row completes two weeks of remaining filming in the Czech Republic under strict coronavirus protocols”.

In the Czech Republic, the clapper has just fallen on the most financially beneficial foreign production since the introduction of production incentives. The neo-Victorian fantasy television series Carnival Row starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, a joint venture between the American companies Amazon Studios and Legendary Television, has completed two weeks of remaining production in Prague, after filming was interrupted at the beginning of March due to the spread of Covid-19.

(2) G.O.A.T.? Matthew M. Foster strikes an exceptional note of excitement over “Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)”.

This is the greatest movie ever made.

Am I over praising it? Absolutely. But this is the movie we need now. This is it’s time. If there’s ever been a more perfect fit for a film with reality, I don’t know it. Perhaps it won’t end up as the best film of the year, but it will be THE film of the year.

In this miserable time, filled with hate and doom and surrounded by loneliness, there’s been no cinema for nearly six months. Nothing. A huge gaping void to go with the huge gaping void which has been life, and Bill and Ted come along to fill it…

(3) MARK YOUR CALENDAR. Or whack your porcupine, or whatever it is you do to remember a date. 8-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Scott Edelman will launch a book on September 22. Scott elaborates —

Since this pandemic has made an in-the-flesh book launch for my new short story collection Things That Never Happened impossible, I’m doing as so many have done and holding a virtual one. So I’ll be running it live on September 22 through YouTube.

And you can even click to set yourself a reminder. I’ll briefly interview the cover artist to discuss how she came up with the concept, then I’ll be interviewed, and take questions. And as you can see by the image, the publisher even donated gift cards good in their store for me to give away as prizes.

Attend this live event for a chance to win one of three $50 gift certificates good at the Cemetery Dance store.

(4) VIRTUAL OR-ECON PLANNED. OryCon 42 has been postponed to next year due to the pandemic. It will be held November 13 to 15, 2021.

They will have a free virtual mini-con in 2020 from November 12-14, 2020 which has been dubbed OR-eCon. See updates at the OryCon website.

For now, we’re actively recruiting volunteers interested in making this virtual event happen. Please contact volunteers@orycon.org if you are interested in volunteering for OR-eCon.

If you would like to be notified as our plans progress, you can join our mailing list here.

While this will be a free event, we will be requesting donations both to cover the costs of the virtual event and for use elsewhere in the organization. As always, the various OSFCI charitable funds (Clayton, Petrey) are also open to donations.

(5) WHERE’S THAT OSCAR? ScreenRant is still peeved: “These Fantastic Sci-Fi Movies Were Some Of The Oscars’ Biggest Snubs”.

… These are often genre films, such as sci-fi, which continually fail to receive the recognition they deserve. While things are getting better, the Academy has a long and storied history of ignoring these excellent and influential films. With this in mind, here are 10 fantastic science-fiction films that were snubbed by the Oscars…

08 Blade Runner

Blade Runner presented a vision of the future unlike anything seen before and its influence continues to be felt today, but it was tragically overlooked by the Oscars and only picked up a mere two nominations and failed to win either award.

Harrison Ford’s fantastic portrayal of Rickard Deckard wasn’t enough to earn him a nomination, or any other member of the cast. Blade Runner’s score was also overlooked. However, Bafta showered the film with eight nominations and awarded it three awards. The huge disparity between organizations goes to show how subjective these nominations are.

(6) TELL KIDS ABOUT BOSEMAN DEATH? Actor Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer on August 28. In the Washington Post, Keith L. Alexander says Black parents with young children who are Black Panther fans are struggling to determine if they should tell their kids that Boseman died: “Parents of young ‘Black Panther’ fans struggle with telling children of actor’s death”.

… Graphic designer Kyle Cox remembers how he struggled to keep his own pain away from his 3-year-old son Lucas when NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, Cox’s idol, was killed in a helicopter crash in January.

“Every time he sees Chadwick on TV or in a movie, he points and says ‘Challa,’ ” said Cox, 34, of Lawrence, Mass. Lucas’s bedroom is covered with Black Panther posters, bedsheets, pillowcases and action figures.

“My wife and I have not decided yet if we are going to tell him. He wants to be like T’Challa when he grows up, a Black king. I don’t know if I want to tell him his hero died. That might crush him,” he said. “He’s still trying to get used to the pandemic and not seeing his friends anymore.”

(7) NEIL KADEN HAS DIED. Fanzine publisher and conrunner Neil Kaden (1954-2020) died August 28 at the age of 66. The family memorial notice is here, where it says a full obituary is coming. He is survived by his wife, Cris. There are some fine photos of the pair here at BostonBaden.com.

In a 2010 letter of comment, Neil told File 770 readers that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease around 2005. He told about his concern that other fans who also suffer from it might lose their connection to fandom and no one would know:

Statistics should show that over 1-in-100 fans are stricken with PD, but neither of us could identify where these fans are. Without a faanish safety net, they fall out of touch. The motion related symptoms, balance problems, bradykinesia, tremors, memory problems, and uncontrollable dystonia, are frequently not very visible, especially in the early stages.

Kaden at one time participated in several amateur publishing associations (APAs), founding DAAPA, and belonging to Taps, Applesauce, Anzapa, Canadapa, Vanapa. His publications included Dopplegangers!; Nekromancy; and Confessions Of A Failed Yuppie.

He co-chaired Ditto 13, a con for fanzine fans, in 2000.

(8) NELSON OBIT. Actress Lori Nelson died August 30. The Hollywood Reporter paid tribute.

Lori Nelson, the 1950s starlet who was kidnapped by an amphibious monster in Revenge of the Creature and portrayed Barbara Stanwyck’s daughter in Douglas Sirk’s All I Desire, has died. She was 87.

Nelson had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years and died Sunday at her home in the Porter Ranch section of Los Angeles, her daughter Jennifer Mann said.

…In Revenge of the Creature (1955), the first of two sequels spawned from 1954’s Creature From the Black Lagoon, Nelson played the ichthyology student named Helen who is snatched from a seaside restaurant by a smitten Gill Man (Tom Hennesy and Ricou Browning).

She initially did not want to make the movie but in the end was glad she did.

“I played opposite Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin and Audie Murphy, but who’s the leading man everybody wants to ask me about? The Gill Man!” she said in an interview for Tom Weaver’s book The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy. “It’s so funny, Universal had to twist my arm a little to be in a monster movie. But if I knew then how popular they would remain, I would have twisted their arm to be in a couple more.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 30, 1999 — The animated Roughnecks: The Starship Trooper Chronicles first aired in syndication from the Bohbot Kids Network. Produced by Co-Executive Producer’s Verhoeven-Marshall Flat Earth Productions (Richard Raynis was the other Co-Executive Producer), it’s loosely based off both Heinlein’s novel and Verhoeven‘s film. Very loosely. Duane Capizzi who later wrote the Superman: Doomsday film was one of the actual producers. The voice cast was rather large and consisted largely of no one you’ll recognise without Googling them. The series would last one season and thirty six thirty minute episodes before being canceled by Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures on a cliff hanger as the last four episodes weren’t produced. You can see the trailer here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz]

  • Born August 30, 1797 – Mary Shelley.  Frankenstein her first novel; I agree with Brian Aldiss it’s the first science fiction novel.  Alas, it seems one of those books everybody talks about but nobody has read.  It’s an irresponsibility contest between the man and the monster.  Also a feminist tract; I’ve said that of Glory Road but falling on deaf ears.  One more novel, a score of shorter stories, for us; five other novels, travelogues, biographies, editions of Percy Shelley’s work.  (Died 1851) [JH]
  • Born August 30, 1887 – Ray Cummings.  Two dozen novels, two hundred thirty shorter stories for us; perhaps seven hundred fifty all told.  He, and not e.g. Feynman or the Flying Karamazov Brothers, wrote “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once” (a character in The Girl in the Golden Atom says it, ch. 5).  (Died 1957) [JH]
  • Born August 30, 1896 Raymond Massey. In 1936, he starred in Things to Come, a film adaptation by H.G. Wells of his own novel The Shape of Things to Come. Other than several appearances on Night Gallery forty years later, that’s it for genre appearances. (Died 1983.) (CE)
  • Born August 30, 1931 – Jack Swigert.  Licensed private pilot by age 16; attained Second Class Scout, Boy Scouts of America.  At Univ. Colorado, football for the Buffaloes; M.S. (aerospace engineering) from Rensselaer; M.B.A. from Univ. Hartford.  U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, Korea; jet fighter pilot, Air Nat’l Guard; engineering test pilot; 7,200 hrs in flight.  AIAA (Am. Inst. Aeronautics & Astronautics) Chanute Award for demonstrating Rogallo wing.  NASA (Nat’l Aeronautics & Space Adm’n) Astronaut; on Apollo 13 mission said “Houston, we’ve had a problem here”; Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Elected to U.S. House of Representatives, developed cancer, died before serving.  Three honorary doctorates.  Int’l Space Hall of Fame.  (Died 1982) [JH]
  • Born August 30, 1940 – Ye Yonglie.  (Written Chinese-style; the family name is Ye, rhymes with Heh heh.)  Chemist, poet, biographer, film director; fifty volumes of various material; proclaimed the leading science popularizer by the Party (thus sometimes “the Chinese Asimov”).  Xiao Lingtong Manyou Weilai (in romanization the Party prefers; “Little Know-it-all Roams the Future”) and sequels still in print, three million copies circulating, many Chinese children’s first contact with Futures Studies.  Half a dozen short stories for adults, three translated into English, see e.g. Science Fiction from ChinaTales from the Planet Earth.  Reports on SF in China for FoundationLocus.  (Died 2020) [JH]
  • Born August 30, 1942 Judith Moffett, 78. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award with her story “Surviving” and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Nolacon II (1988) for her Pennterra novel. Asimov wrote an introduction for the book and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series. Her Holy Ground series of The Ragged World: A Novel of the Hefn on EarthTime, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream: A Sequel to the Ragged World and The Bird Shaman are her other genre novels. The Bear’s Babys And Other Stories collects her genre short stories. All of her works are surprisingly available at the usual digital suspects. (CE) 
  • Born August 30, 1956 – Lissanne Lake, 64.  A hundred covers, plus interiors, for Feast of LaughterMythic DeliriumStrange Plasma, books, gaming cards.  Here is Lafferty in “Orbit”, i.e. stories published in Orbit.  Here is the Four of Chivs (blades) from her Buckland Romani Tarot Deck.  Of course she has a Facebook page.  [JH]
  • Born August 30, 1963 Michael Chiklis, 57. He was The Thing in two first Fantastic Four films, and Jim Powell on the No Ordinary Family series which I’ve never heard of.  He was on American Horror Story for its fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show as Dell Toledo. The following year he was cast as Nathaniel Barnes, in the second season of Gotham, in a recurring role. And he voiced Lt. Jan Agusta in Heavy Gear: The Animated Series. (CE)
  • Born August 30, 1965 Laeta Kalogridis, 55. She was an executive producer of the short-lived not so great Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like. (CE) 
  • Born August 30, 1972 Cameron Diaz, 48. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. (The sequel is bloody awful.)   She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she’s cast as an uncredited Bus passenger in Minority Report. Oh, and she’s Lenore Case in the cringingly awful Green Hornet, a film I gave up on after fifteen or so minutes despite being predisposed to liking it. (CE)
  • Born August 30, 1973 – Echo Chernik, 47.  Commercial artist including science fiction and fantasy images; in four issues of Spectrum.  Here are some cards from her Patrick Rothfuss Name of the Wind Art Deck.  Here is Echo Recoil.  Here is a tote bag for the Uwajimaya shops.  Here is her Four of Blades for the “Shadowrun” Sixth World Tarot.  Here is an Elf for Shadowrun.  [JH]
  • Born August 30, 1980 Angel Coulby, 40. She is best remembered for her recurring role as Gwen (Guinevere) in the BBC’s Merlin. She also shows up in Doctor Who as Katherine in the “The Girl in the Fireplace”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also voices Tanusha ‘Kayo’ Kyrano in the revived animated Thunderbirds Are Go series. (CE)

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

  • It’s Fred MacMurray’s birthday. He was used by artist C.C. Beck as the basis for Captain Marvel back in 1939.

(12) LEADERSHIP. “Octavia Butler on How (Not) to Choose Our Leaders” by Maria Popova at Brain Pickings.

Like Ursula K. Le Guin, Butler straddled the timeless and the prophetic, saturating her fiction with astute philosophical and psychological insight into human nature and the superorganism of society. Also like Le Guin, Butler soared into poetry to frame and punctuate her prose. Each chapter begins with an original verse abstracting its thematic direction. She opens the eleventh chapter of the second Earthseed book with this verse:

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.

(13) POETIC LICENSE. In the latest podcast from Diamond Bay Radio, Lex Berman interviews Sebastian Doubinsky.  Touching on drugs, music, and the need to protect poets as the last bastion of freedom, Seb provides a thoughtful background to his novel The Invisible  (Meerkat Press, 2020):  The Invisible With Seb Doubinsky’.

Take a stroll around New Babylon with the City Commissioner, Ratner, who finesses his way through the subcultures of Synth music, political corruption, and the invisible power of shared delusions. Ratner is out to find the murderer of Jesse Valentino, the former cop and unknown poet, unknown at home, and famous everywhere else.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY.“It’s a Neil Gaiman Universe, We Just Live In It” on YouTube is a clip from a 2014 episode of the NPR game show Ask Me Another where a contestant was asked whether a passage was from Neil Gaiman’s work or was made up by the Ask Me Another staff.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mlex, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #53

Some Birthday Thoughts – 64th Annual Edition

By Chris M. Barkley: 

Chris M. Barkley. Photo by Juli Marr.

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four

– John Lennon and Paul McCartney, circa 1967.

One of my earliest childhood memories occurred fifty-seven years ago this week; on Wednesday, August 28th 1963, I clearly remember parking myself in front of my grandmother’s Philco television for an afternoon of cartoons and silliness that I was accustomed to.

Instead, I saw a sea of faces. All gathered at that time by what I took to be a large lake. The faces, mostly of black people but with a sprinkling of others mixed in, all gathered near a domed building. I tried other channels. It was on all three major network stations. I was so mesmerized by this mass of humanity that was speaking and cheering that I gave up on seeing cartoons and watched for a while… 

What I was witnessing of course, was the March on Washington For Civil Rights, centered around the Lincoln Memorial, was one of the most galvanizing events of American history at that time. I had just turned seven years old.

When I was that small child, I was totally oblivious to the troubles of the world: racial prejudice and strife, lynchings (still a THING back then, people), stranger danger or pedophile priests, redlining, segregation and the ongoing Cold War with various Communist entities. 

I’ve been told that when I was a boy, I was very shy and often seeking solitude, either by myself or curled up with any of a number of Dr. Seuss books my parents bought for me. 

There’s also this: sometimes, I would inexplicably wake up in the middle of the night and wonder about the future. Would I be alive to see it? What would it be like? Where would my parents and siblings be? I spent countless nights wrestling with these existential questions…

Now, on this end of the timeline and on the occasion of my 64th birthday, I can stand back and recall all of those struggles and how I dealt with them, one by one. There was a steep learning curve as I navigated through life; with school, dealing with other people, raging hormones, the bullies, beatings, self-doubt and several bouts of deep depression.

And against all odds, I survived, alive, well and somewhat healthy for my age.

And as I sit and write this, I see history repeating itself. This past Thursday, August 28th 2020, I again saw a sea of faces, a glorious rainbow of skin color, in high definition, all calling out for justice, equality and peace. But this gathering was concerned with the same sorts of basic issues that could have been ripped from a mid-20th century newspaper; racial strife, gun violence, police brutality, rioting in the streets and voter suppression. 

America today seems more like the America of 1968, when we seemed to be a mess, politically, physically and socially divided to the point of militancy, with the added complication of a pandemic disease which has no known effective treatment, vaccine or cure.  

All this leaves me wondering, after nearly sixty years, why do a substantial number of American white people still loathe, discriminate and outright hate people of color such as myself, simply because we look different or have differing attitudes and opinions. We may not have originated on this continent but neither did they!

THIS is not the science fictional future I signed up for.

And the answer is this; we, collectively, have not had a reckoning with our past history of the illegal taking of land from Native Americans, the enslavement of African natives and the combination of systemic racism that on the surface,  promises an abundance of freedom and opportunity but, in fact, has created a de facto caste system of poverty and income inequality.

The ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic and the less than adequate response to the emergency (and other malicious missteps) by the current administration has shorn away the thin veneer of propaganda that the United States is a shining monument of freedom. 

And yet…

People, immigrants, illegal or otherwise, still want to come here. They want to come even though the President can’t string two coherent sentence together without the help of a teleprompter, the people he has chosen to guide governmental policies are incompetent or corrupt, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate deliberately subverts the process of democracy on a regular basis and a good portion of the white population doesn’t want them there.

Why? Because they have seen glimpses of how great we can be. 

We have enacted civil rights legislation. Our collective efforts put twelve men on the moon and returned them all safely to Earth. Our technological innovations are still admired to a certain extent. We continue to fight against climate change and environmental reforms even when the government refuses to acknowledge it. Our athletes are showing that they are politically aware and active. Our artists still have the right to express themselves freely, through books, paintings, sculptures, music and architecture.

And when black people, like Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, Atatianna Jefferson, Philando Castille and George Floyd and are murdered in their homes or in the street by the police, the collective outrage is felt by many more than just the Black Community alone.

And then, most notably, there are the visual arts: Star Trek. And Star Wars. The Marvel Universe of films. Babylon 5. The Expanse. The Good Place. Rick and Morty, And, yes, The Orville and Galaxy Quest as well.

These films and television shows are our true brand and main calling card; the possible futures that may not be pretty, desirable or very easy, but they are thrilling to experience and definitely show that we have some sort of future to look forward to and it is worth living for.

I still wake up in the middle of the night, moreso in the past six months. As I lie in bed, I still worry about the future. Although now I mostly wonder what will happen in the November elections, if I have taken enough precautions so I don’t become ill and what sort of future my grandchildren will inherit from us. And, more morbidly and with growing distress, how much time I may have left to live.

Somehow, some way, I still believe that there is hope for myself, our country and the world. That’s probably due to my lifelong love of science fiction and fantasy. 

That spark of optimism, buried deep within even the darkest of the novels, stories and films that I have loved and enjoyed all of these years, has kept my own spirits alive and well. I have chosen to embrace the future, not be consumed by it.

Because ready or not, the future is now. 

This column is dedicated to the memory of Chadwick Boseman, a splendid human being and an extraordinary actor. Best known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther, he spoke the following lines, which resonates, for America and the world at large, NOW, more than ever. Rest In Peace, My King; we will always be inspired by you and the many roles you played, to make this a better world…

New Volume from Ansible Editions Completes Bob Shaw Collection

Slow Pint Glass, the final volume of Bob Shaw’s collected fanwriting compiled by Rob Jackson and David Langford for Ansible Editions, is available today as a free download in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund website (where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.) Find it here.

The cover art is by Jim Barker, a July 2020 reworking of his memorial piece for Bob Shaw first published in Tyne Capsule (March 2015; TAFF ebook September 2019).

Slow Pint Glass contains 167,000 words of Bob Shaw’s other fan and fan-adjacent writing not already included in The Enchanted Duplicator (1954 with Walt Willis; much reprinted; TAFF ebook May 2015), The Serious Scientific Talks (TAFF ebook November 2019) and The Full Glass Bushel (TAFF ebook June 2020). Together these volumes represent Shaw’s complete fanwriting.

And Langford’s Introduction shows what fans will get with Slow Pint Glass:

Most of the humorists for which Bob shows admiration in the articles that follow – Patrick Campbell, Stephen Leacock, S.J. Perelman, James Thurber, Mark Twain – cultivated an air of bemusement at the vagaries of the weird world we live in. This was an attitude that Bob himself could always carry off brilliantly. What other writer, struggling with deadlines, would find himself fatally distracted by a noisy invasion of hot air balloons? Or be a fascinated eye-witness on the utterly memorable night when Brian Aldiss broke the bed? Or, in a perfectly ordinary visit to the loo at an SF convention, become entangled in the embarrassing toils of the Penis Fly Trap? See “The Writer’s Year”, “Once Upon a Tyne” and “Wetfoot in the Head” respectively.

[Thanks to David Langford for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 8/29/20 I Know I Filed This Pixel Somewhere

(1) DATLOW TAKES QUESTIONS. On the Full Contact Nerd podcastCris Alvarez does a Q&A: “Ellen Datlow Interview- Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Fiction – ‘Edited By’ (Subterranean, 2020)”

Ellen Datlow has been editing horror, fantasy, and science fiction short stories and novellas for over forty years. She’s won numerous awards and accolades for her work and has edited numerous best of anthologies along with short stories for magazine and book publishers. Subterranean Press is releasing a book on some of the best stories she’s edited. I spoke to Ellen about her work as an editor, about genre fiction, and about the business in general.

0:32: Ellen talks about how she got into editing and editing anthologies….

(2) COPING WITH ALS. Sara Hendren tells Slate readers about “The Truest Cyborg I Know”.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been visiting Steve Saling in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where he lives in a residence he designed for himself and a couple dozen other people, a mix of stunning “smart home” technology and human care that he created to arrive in time for his body’s big changes. Steve got a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in his late 30s. He’s 51 now. More than a dozen years into his condition, he has said repeatedly that his life is worth living—and that technology, in the absence of medicine, is “the cure.” Maybe that sounds like one more instance of overhyped claims for Silicon Valley—I would have thought so upon first hearing—but, over time, I came to understand what he meant.

In the architecture of the life that Steve created, I saw a kind of “anticipatory design”—to repurpose a term of Buckminster Fuller’s. At Saling House, the residence that bears Steve’s name, there are impressive digital devices that act, in one sense, as treatment: a whole array of ingenious software and hardware made to maximize his independence even as his body gradually changes. The sheer novelty of the engineering is impressive. But more impressive by far are the ideas packed into all his designed gear and services for life with little mobility—ideas about help, about needfulness. About assistance itself in every life. On my afternoons with him, my perspective and my vocabulary about giving and receiving help changed. Steve taught me to think differently about the plain fact of human needfulness and its role in a desirable life….

(3) EXCELLENT. We’ve recently seen what a John Scalzi 1990s movie review looks like – here’s your chance to see one from 2020: “Movie Review: Bill & Ted Face the Music”

I enjoyed Bill & Ted Face the Music quite a bit, which is utterly unsurprising as I am both Gen-X, i.e., the generation of Bill and/or Ted, and also I used to live in San Dimas, home of Bill and Ted and the town in which almost all of this film takes place (fictionally; it doesn’t look like they did a whole lot of filming in actual San Dimas this time around). Also I am the fan of the first two films, particularly Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the first film in history to successfully reference both Ingmar Bergman and the glam band Poison. What was surprising to me was that I teared up a bit at the end of this one. I know why, and I’ll tell you in a bit.

(4) D&D IS BETTER THAN IRL. “Plague Comforts: Dungeons & Dragons Is the Real World Now” contends Mother Jones writer Wll Peischel.

…In Dungeons & Dragons,everything pretty much goes as planned. 

In the real world, the pressing themes—pandemic, climate change, state-sanctioned brutality, the government’s emphatic disinterest in functioning properly—lend themselves to a darker, more surreal plot. It is serious. We’re holed up in our homes. The absence of bars, physical workspaces, and cheap baseball tickets from our lives creates a sense of confused inertia. Are we a tenth of the way through the pandemic or halfway? Are we actually getting anywhere, or are we stuck in the last season of Lost? There is endless horizon in every direction—we’re measuring our time in hair growth, if at all.

D&D, on the other hand, is full of clear lines and brighter absurdities. I’m on my 18th session; I live in a tower on the outskirts of a village called Goosetown. Like real life, much of what goes on isn’t scripted. But, unlike reality, it’s safely self-contained. In a session of D&D, the cocktail of youth nostalgia and fantasy otherworldliness could give rise to almost anything—as long as it abides by the game’s few rules. It isn’t the leap into unbounded fantasy that appeals; it’s the lines, the structure, the finitude (with a sort of community working within them).

(5) DON’T FIRE THE RETROS. Cora Buhlert takes up the challenge of explaining “Why the Retro Hugos Have Value” – of which this excerpt is just part of the introduction.

…Now no one is obliged to care about the Retro Hugos. However, if you didn’t nominate and vote, you don’t get complain about the results. I also understand the frustration that Retro Hugo voters keep voting for familiar names like John W. Campbell and weak early stories by future stars of the genre over better works, because I share it. However, unlike many other folks, I didn’t complain, but decided to do something about it, so I started the Retro Hugo Recommendation Spreadsheet and Retro Science Fiction Reviews to help potential Retro Hugo nominators and voters make more informed choices. Because I believe that it’s better to try and fix something than destroy or abolish something that some people enjoy.

And while I understand why Worldcons are reluctant to give out Retro Hugos due to the work and expense involved, I really don’t understand the intense hatred they engender in some fans. There are a lot of things going on at Worldcons that I personally don’t care about, but that doesn’t mean I want to take those things away from the people who do enjoy them. I simply focus on the things that give me joy and ignore the rest.

However, the current campaign against the Retro Hugos is part of a larger trend to dismiss the past of our genre as racist, sexist and irrelevant. Also witness the recent debate about the SFF canon, what it is and whether it is relevant with contributions by John Scalzi (here and here), Nina Allan, Camestros Felapton (here and here), the Hugo Book ClubFont FollySteve Davidson, Doris V. SutherlandAidan Moher and others. The canon discussion is mostly civil (and the only uncivil are the usual idiots I haven’t linked here) and also makes a lot of good points, such as that there is no one fixed SFF canon, but that individual people have different works which are important to them, that canons can be abused as a form of gatekeeping, that it’s not necessary to read classic SFF works, unless you enjoy them or want to write an academic work about SFF. However, pretty much everybody who is interested in older SFF has experienced hostility about this interest, even if we don’t go around and tell people that they’re not “real fans” (TM), unless they have read the entire output of Heinlein, Asimov, Lovecraft, etc… (and in that case, I wouldn’t be a “real fan” (TM) either). Witness Jason Sanford saying that the Retro Hugo voters are “a small group of people stuck in the past giving today’s genre the middle finger”, never mind that most Retro Hugo voters are Hugo voters as well. Or the person who called me a Nazi on Twitter for tweeting about the Retro Hugo winners, until I blocked them.

As I said before, no one has to care about older SFF and no one has to read it, if they don’t want to. But attacking people for being interested in older SFF and enjoying the Retro Hugos is not okay. Nor is everybody who’s interested in older SFF a reactionary fascist, even if received wisdom claims that the SFF of the golden age was all racist and sexist stories about straight white American men in space, lorded over by the twin spectres of Campbell and Lovecraft.

There is just one problem: The received wisdom is wrong. Because the golden age (intended here as a designation for a specific time period, not a value judgment) was more than just Campbell and Astounding.  It was also a lot more diverse than most people thinkas I explained in a three part post last year….

(6) SKIFFY TREATS. “I scream, you scream, what’s up with all the celebrity ice cream?” asks FastCompany. Followed by Cat Eldridge asking, “So I wonder what would be celebrity genre ice creams?” 

… It appears that we are now entering into a new phase of celebrity signature products, one that combines the scarcity of a limited-edition booze or sneaker, with the massive scale of something everybody loves.

Welcome to celebrity ice cream.

This week two very different arbiters of cool dropped their very own frozen treat collaborations. First up was pop star Selena Gomez, who managed a double dip collaboration, first on a song called . . . yep . . . “Ice Cream” made with K-pop stars Blackpink, and spinning that into her very own flavor for specialty ice-cream brand and chain Serendipity. It’s called Cookies & Cream Remix, and it’s pink vanilla ice cream with crunchy cookie bites and fudge bits.

(7) GARCIAGATE GOFUNDME. The “GarciaGatePenguins Fire Relief” GoFundMe has raised $11,115 (the original goal was $10K) and is still taking donations. Chris Garcia, Vanessa Applegate and the boys had to evacuate from their Northern California home because of the fires. So far their house has survived, but there’s no telling when they will be able to return. Til then, they’re in hotels.

(8) BOSEMAN OBIT. Actor Chadwick Boseman died August 28 reports Yahoo! News.

Chadwick Boseman, who played Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown with searing intensity before inspiring audiences worldwide as the regal Black Panther in Marvel’s blockbuster movie franchise, died Friday of cancer. He was 43.

…Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family said in a statement.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family said. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more – all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”

Boseman had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis. He is survived by his wife and a parent and had no children, Fioravante said.

(9) TODAY’S DAY.

John Hertz celebrates it.

The sun’s risen on
Independent Bookstores Day.
May they earn still more.

The celebration had been delayed from April until today.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 29, 1957 X Minus One’s “Volpla” was first broadcast. Based on a story by Wyman Guin who first gained noticed with his “Beyond Bedlam” novella in Galaxy Science Fiction in August 1951. (In 2013, he would receive the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.) His story in “Volpla” is that an individual creates small creatures and teaches them to say they are aliens. Ernest Kinoy as usual wrote the radio script. Nelson Olmstead, Adele Newton and Sarah Fussell were the cast. You can listen to it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 29, 1905 – Don Wilcox.  Five novels for us, ninety shorter stories; detective  and Western stories; plays; paintings.  Some Captain Video for television.  For a while with Amazing and Fantastic under Palmer, averaged 40,000 words a month.  Best of DW vol. 1 appeared 2016; vol. 2, 2017.  (Died 2000) [JH]
  • Born August 29, 1926 – Thomas N. Scortia.  Chemist.  Worked in aerospace.  Six novels for us (some with Frank Robinson), fifty shorter stories.  The Glass Inferno (with FR) became The Towering Inferno (I. Allen dir. 1974).  With Dalton Trumbo, The Endangered Species.  Collection Caution! Inflammable! has an introduction by Theodore Sturgeon.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born August 29, 1942 – Dian Crayne.  Three novels, eight shorter stories (one with Larry Niven), a few interiors; The Game of Fandom.  Married to Bruce Pelz 1964-1970 (their divorce party inspired LN’s “What Can You Say About Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?”; a chocolate-covered manhole cover has been part of the L.A. Science Fantasy Soc, Gift Exchange every December since), to Chuck Crayne 1972-2009 (he and BP co-chaired L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon, co-founded the North America SF Con held when the Worldcon is overseas).  Here she is at Pacificon II (22nd Worldcon) as Thuvia, Maid of Mars, BP at her left.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • August 29, 1942 Gottfried John. He’s likely best-known as General Arkady Orumov on GoldenEye but I actually best remember him as Colonel Erich Weiss on the extremely short-lived Space Rangers. He was Josef Heim in the “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” episode of the Millennium series, and played König Gustav in the German version of Rumpelstilzchen as written by the Brothers Grimm. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born August 29, 1946 – Robert Weinberg.  A dozen novels, fifty shorter stories; five dozen anthologies; Biographical Dictionary of Science Fiction & Fantasy ArtistsThe Art of the Pulps (with D. Ellis, H. Hulse), The Collectors’ Book of Virgil Finlay (with D. Ellis, R. Garcia).  Letters, essays, editorials in Collecting FantasyThe DiversifierERB-dom (E.R. Burroughs), Fantasy NewsletterHorrorstruckThe “Weird Tales” CollectorWindy City Pulp Stories.  Co-chaired Chicago Comiccon 1976-1996; 9th and 16th World Fantasy Cons.  Sam Moskowitz Archive Award (excellence in collecting).  Chicon 7 (70th Worldcon) Special Award for service.  (Died 2016).  [JH]
  • August 29, 1951 Janeen Webb, 69. Dreaming Down-Under which she co-edited with Jack Dann is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction which won a World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. The Silken Road to Samarkand by her is a wonderful novel that I also wholeheartedly recommend. Death at the Blue Elephant, the first collection of her ever so excellent short stories, is available at iBooks and Kindle though Dreaming Down-Under is alas not. (CE) 
  • August 29, 1953 Nancy Holder, 67. She’s an impressive four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. I’m not much of a horror fan so I can’t judge her horror novels for you but I’ve read a number of her Buffyverse novels and I must say that she’s captured the feel of the series quite well. If you are to read but one, make it Halloween Rain. (CE)
  • August 29, 1954 Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 66. A filker which gets major points in my book (filker link: “Back in Black” .) And yes, I’m stalling while I try to remember what of his I’ve read. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well. God, it’s been twenty years since I read him. I’m getting old.  (CE) 
  • August 29, 1959 Rebecca de Mornay, 61. May I note she made a deliciously evil Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers? She’s Clair Dupin in The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Wendy Torrance in The Shining miniseries (no, I never heard of it) and Penelope Decker in several episodes of Lucifer. Oh, and she was Dorothy Walker in Marvel’s Jessica Jones series. (CE) 
  • Born August 29, 1970 – Jenn Reese, 50.  Five novels; Tales of the Chinese Zodiac, twelve shorter stories 2005 adding in 2006 a carp, a mantis, an owl; Alphabet Quartet perhaps inevitably became 26 flash-fiction stories “Arthur” – “Zoom” (with G. van Eekhout, T. Pratt, H. Shaw); two dozen other short stories; nine covers.  Here is Mitigated Futures.  Here is Do Better.  Currently a graphic designer in Portland where she can revel in the rain.  [JH]
  • Born August 29, 1977 – Renée Carter Hall, 43.  One novel, thirty shorter stories.  Limestone Circle (poetry) 1999-2002.  Cóyotl Award.  Co-authored a story in 8th Grade with two friends which reached Steven Spielberg and was used in Tiny Toon Adventures with all three friends as cartoon characters.  Website here.  [JH]
  • August 29, 1989 Charlotte Ritchie, 31. Like so many British performers, she’s had a role on Doctor Who playing Lin in the Thirteenth Doctor story, “Resolution “. Her first genre role was an uncredited one in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and I see she was Alison in the first season of Dead Pixels, and another Alison in Ghosts, a truly haunting series. (CE) 

(12) BLACK-OWNED BOOKSTORES. O, the Oprah Magazine, lists “120 Black-Owned Bookstores in America That Amplify the Best in Literature”. Even a few comics stores in there.

… Kalima Desuze, owner of Cafe con Libros in Brooklyn, New York, describes recent business as both “lucrative” and “bittersweet.”

“Many folks are buying books, but may not have a home to dialogue about it,” she says. “This work cannot be done in isolation; we all need community. I’m tired of solidarity with Black folks only coming after death when some of us have spent our lives talking about and organizing against systemic racism… So, while I definitely appreciate the support, it’s been hard to profit off the bodies of fictive kin.”

It should also be remembered that independent book stores owned by African Americans have been around for decades. The first in the country was Oakland, California’s Marcus Books, which opened its doors in 1960 and is still in business today. There are now 119 other Black-owned establishments in the country, and though they make up just 6% of indie bookselling companies in the U.S., they’re home to powerful works that serve to educate and amplify vital voices.

“The stories have always been there, and the experiences have always been there, but not everybody was comfortable talking about them,” says La’Nae Robinson, who co-owns Bliss Books & Wine in Kansas City with her sister, La’Nesha Frazier. “So I think now that it’s more in the spotlight, it’s creating more conversations, and people are open to having conversations—and they’re actually holding them in their hands and educating themselves on topics that they just didn’t think about.”

(13) SFF MARKETING. Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron will do a show about “SF&F Marketing Masters: Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Self-Publishing” on September 5, 2020.

Joining us on the 5th of September will be those who plan and execute the marketing of legends.
– Dave Farland will join us to discuss his plan with Scholastic for making Harry Potter big.
– Ed Elbert will discuss the advertising of Star Wars.
– Craig Miller will share the stories of fandom and community outreach for Star Wars.
– Brian Meeks will bring us to 2020 with a discussion of self-publishing.

(14) YOU COULD WRITE AN EPIC WITH IT. Fork over $4,275 and this sterling silver “Montegrappa The Lord of the Rings Fountain Pen” will be on its way to you. Comes with a removable gold ring!

One pen to rule them all. Our tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved trilogy is made with a level of craftsmanship to rival the great Elven-smiths of Eregion. The Lord of the Rings Limited Edition is a magical creation of lostwax casting that celebrates imagination, creativity and heroic journeys at their finest.

…Armaments and regalia belonging to the Fellowship of the Ring make up the elements of the barrel. Gandalf’s staff, Aragorn’s sword and Gimli’s axe are just some of the icons contained within a structure crowned by a cubic zirconia set in the emblem of the White Tree of Gondor.

The cap’s major features are a hand-enamelled Eye of Sauron suspended in the Tower of Barad-dûr, and a clip resembling Frodo’s Elvish blade, Sting. In place of a conventional capband sits a removable replica of the One Ring, inscribed with Tengwar script and plated in gold.

(15) R.H.I.P. Popular Mechanics boosts a signal from Admiral Kirk: “William Shatner to Space Force: Use Navy, Not Air Force Ranks”.

A sci-fi legend is making the case for the new U.S. Space Force to use naval ranks. In an Military Times op-ed, Star Trek‘s William Shatner argues—with prodigious use of emoji—the long history of naval ranks in science fiction makes it appropriate for the burgeoning Space Force to follow suit.

Although Shatner’s argument is tongue in cheek, there’s actually a more practical reason why the Space Force might emulate the U.S. Navy—not the U.S. Air Force.

…Shatner writes:

“Star Trek” has borrowed so much of its iconic rank symbols from the U.S. military and NASA. When you unveiled the Space Force logo, many immediately saw it as an homage to “Star Trek” (even though our Delta was an homage to the previous military space insignias). Why not borrow back from “Star Trek” and adopt our ranks as well? We took them from the Navy for good reason, even though Gene Roddenberry was a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps. They made better sense when talking about a (space) ship.

In a practical sense, there is some rationale for using naval ranks. Spaceships are a lot like submarines: enclosed vessels traveling through a void-like medium on long treks. Like subs, spaceships handle hull pressures, though they must deal with pressure on the inside and outside.

Naval forces have deep experience with planning and conducting voyages that could take weeks or months, while most Air Force missions last several hours at the most. When the Space Force finally operates spaceships, it might find itself more culturally aligned with the Navy than the Air Force….

(16) FLY FREE. The Austin Chronicle tells how this weekend’s virtual con will escape Planet COVID: “ArmadilloCon 42 Blasts Off Into Cyberspace”.

…Sure, we know as well as you do that the transition to online events has been 50 shades of awkward for most organizations. But if any group should be prepared for a transition to the digital plane, it’s fans of speculative fiction, who have been immersed in synthetic lifeforms, alien worlds, next-wave tech, and cyber-realms for years. No need to be skeptical about ArmadilloCon 42’s virtual nature; these folks are hardwired for it.

More importantly, the ArmadilloCon team is still inspired by the same spirit of community and love of the genre that was shared by the 300 or so fans who gathered at the Villa Capri Hotel in May of 1979 for the first con. That means not just celebrating the futures of the past – those imagined by Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Dick, and their peers – but also the futures of the future: those being conjured by writers breaking into the field. The con’s 42-year mission, to borrow a phrase, has always been to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new writers and new speculative fiction, to boldly go with them where no fan has gone before. You can count on ArmadilloCon to continue that mission online in the same way it always has IRL.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Bill, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, Gadi Evron, Cat Eldridge, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Marvel Heroes Team Up
With Fortnite Characters
On Covers This Fall

The worlds of Marvel and the Island collide in Nexus War in Fortnite Chapter 2 – Season 4. This new season will feature Marvel heroes crossing over with the world of the Fortnite via character skins, weapons, comics – and a new series of variant covers releasing in September and October.

Some of the industry’s top artists including Joe Quesada, Ed McGuinness, Sara Pichelli, Russell Dauterman, and more will showcase Fortnite favorites like Blaze and Carbide side by side with the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the X-Men.

Set in Marvel Comics continuity, the events of Nexus War take place between the panels of Thor #4, which released this past March. To learn more, don’t miss a special 10-page Fortnite/Thor crossover story written by Donny Cates and drawn by Greg Land in Fantastic Four #24.

The artwork for six of the Fortnite variant covers, plus a list of the others, follows the jump.

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