Richard Anderson (1926-2017)

Richard Anderson in “The Bionic Woman” (1976)

By Steve Green: Richard Anderson, American actor, died August 31, aged 91. The first actor to play the same lead character in concurrent tv shows airing on different US networks – “Oscar Goldman”, in ABC’s The Six Million Dollar Man and its spin-off The Bionic Woman, which moved from ABC to NBC for its third season.

His work on The Six Million Dollar Man encompassed two tv movies, (1973), and 99 episodes (1974-78), and for The Bionic Woman, 58 episodes (1976-78). He reprised his Oscar Goldman role in later years for The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1987), Bionic Showdown (1989), and Bionic Ever After? (1994).

His other genre appearances include: Captain Midnight (one episode, 1954); Forbidden Planet (1956), Curse of the Faceless Man (1958), Thriller (one episode, 1960), Seven Days in May (1964), Seconds (1965), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (two episodes, 1964 and 1966), The Green Hornet (one episode, 1967), Ghostbreakers (1967), The Invaders (one episode, 1967), The Wild Wild West (one episode, 1968), Land of the Giants (one episode, 1969), The Night Strangler (1973, the second Kolchak tv movie), Darkroom (one episode, 1981), Knight Rider (two credits but only appeared in one episode, 1982), Automan (one episode, 1984), The Stepford Children (1987), and Extreme Ghostbusters (one episode, 1997).

Lee Majors, Richard Anderson in The Six Million Dollar Man (1974)

Pixel Scroll 8/31/17 Scrollfinger. He’s The Man, The Man With The First-Fifth Touch, A Pixel’s Touch

(1) NEW VINTAGES. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll says he’s “Testing to see if the issue was sf or old sf” by mixing in more recent work like “A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight”.

During Phase II, one story in four will be modern (post-2000). I am curious if modern stories appeal to my readers more than the classic ones have.

First up is Xia Jia’s A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight.

Xia Jia is a popular Chinese SF author. Her work has recently begun to be translated into English, in large part due to the efforts of Ken Liu. A teacher and a writer, she describes her idiosyncratic mix of hard and soft science fiction “porridge SF”. I’ve been very impressed by the work of hers that I have been lucky enough to read. Will my young readers be similarly impressed?

A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight can be read here.

(2) JUDITH MOFFETT. Kevin McVeigh wrote this post to celebrate the author’s 75th birthday (August 30): “What Have the Aliens Ever Done For Us? Some thoughts on Judith Moffett’s Holy Ground Trilogy”

Judith Moffett’s Holy Ground Trilogy describes events following aliens called the Hefn coming to Earth and attempting to stop humans destroying the planet. “This book is the record of what happened to some of us because the Hefn came.” writes the character Nancy Sandford in the prologue section of The Ragged World entitled ‘The Hefn on Earth’.

This deliberately simplistic description obscures a salient point. The Holy Ground Trilogy has aliens throughout, they play many significant roles, and yet the trilogy is not really about the Aliens.   It is about relationships. Deeply embedded in Moffett’s work are analyses of religion, sexuality and environmentalism.  The personal is political amidst issues of human to human relationships, and human engagement with the planet.

(3) NIKULTURNY. If there’s one thing The Traveler at Galactic Journey can’t abide, it’s the 1960s Analog. He compares the way Campbell puts together an issue with how food is sold in the Soviet Union: “[August 30, 1962] Flawed set (September 1962 Analog)”.

Maybe you want a kilo of fresh beef, but you can only get it with two cans of pressed meat, a kilo of hamburger meat, and a kilo of frozen vegetables.  Well, why not?  But when it arrives, the vegetables are freezer burned and the hamburger is green on the inside.  At least you got the beef and the SPAM, right?

The science fiction digest, Analog, is much the same.  For the past few years, the general pattern has been for the magazine to include a serial of high quality, and the rest of the space larded out with substandard shorts and ridiculous “science” articles on crackpot topics.

So enjoy your September 1962 Analog — it’s what you ordered…and a lot more that you didn’t…

(4) VOICE. N.K. Jemisin’s Ask Me Anything from August 30 is available to read on Reddit.

[–]droppedstitches 9 points10 points11 points 11 hours ago (2 children)

Hello! (Yay, I’ve finally made it to an ama on time!) I absolutely LOVED the broken earth trilogy, thank you so much for that. It really blew my mind and made me think, question so much – as a story, as well as an incredibly masterful piece of writing. Thank you!

My question is about the second person narrative : what made you use it? What impact did you want it to have on the reader? Any tips/guidelines for using second person as opposed to first or third person?

anotherjemisin[S] 15 points16 points17 points 10 hours ago (1 child)

You’re welcome!

I used second person because it felt right for the story. The impact I hoped for was simultaneously a sense of detachment that would replicate Essun’s level of disassociation (I was trying to convey her PTSD) and a level of intimacy that second seems to handle well. No special tips, other than noting that it’s gonna feel weird at first because most of us don’t use second on the regular. You get used to it, though.

(5) PROMISE FULFILLED. Joe Sherry reviews the third novel in Jemisin’s trilogy at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book] The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin”.

The Stone Sky is a novel in conversation with the two Hugo Award winning novels which precede it, it is a novel in conversation the fantasy genre as a whole, and it is a novel in conversation with the culture in which it was written. That’s a lot for one novel to take on, but N.K. Jemisin is more than up to the task. The first two volumes of The Broken Earth trilogy set the bar so incredibly high that it would take a remarkable novel to even approach that level, let alone meet it. The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate were masterworks. Jemisin has set an impossible standard for herself, but her control in telling one unified story shows off the skill of an author at the height of her powers. The Stone Sky more than lives up to the promise and standard of those first two Broken Earth novels. Each novel in The Broken Earth requires a moment of centering, a moment to process and figure what sort of story Jemisin is telling – because even though this it truly a cohesive whole, each novel has its own distinct and tight focus setting it apart.

(6) TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK. Matthew Jacobson profiles Salt Lake City Comic Con organizers Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg for The Spectrum in “Kings of Con: The men behind Utah’s biggest pop culture event”. Due to a gag order, they weren’t able to say much about the SDCC lawsuit:

In July, a California federal judge, in response to all the bad publicity San Diego Comic-Con has received over lawsuit, issued a suppression order that prevents both the San Diego and Salt Lake Comic Con producers from making certain statements regarding the ongoing litigation.

Neither Brandenburg nor Farr would comment on the case beyond two statements.

“We think they have a great event,” Brandenburg said. “We just don’t agree with them on the ownership of ‘comic con.'”

He added: “Bless their hearts.”

(7) DRAGON AWARDS. The anonymous “Red Panda Fraction” sent out a tweetstorm criticizing how the Dragon Awards are run.

They also tweeted a set of voting recommendations for every category at the very last minute before the deadline.

(8) THE MUSIC GOES ROUND AND ROUND. The Wrap’s Ryan Gajewski, in “‘Simpsons’ Producers Say Fired Composer Alf Clausen Will Still Have ‘Ongoing Role’”, reports that Alf Clausen, who has done the music for all the episodes of The Simpsons for the past 27 years except for the Main Title by Danny Elfman, has been sacked because the show’s producers “wanted to go in a different direction,” although the producers assert he will still be involved in some unspecified way.

(9) PRINCE JVSTIN HAS BEEN BOINGED. When Paul Weimer weighed in on the topic of fantasy maps, he caught the eye of a writer for Boing Boing: “Fantasy maps deemed terrible, or fine, depending”.

(10) GEE, THANKS MOM! And Mother Jones thought Camestros Felapton’s “Respect the Parallelogram” tweetstorm was so tasty they decided to gobble the whole thing.

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

The novel The Cyborg, written by ex-Air Force pilot and NASA public relations man Martin Caidin, served as the inspiration for The Six Million Dollar Man TV series

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 31, 1979 Time After Time was released.
  • August 31, 2007 — Rob Zombie’s Halloween premieres.

(13) ANIMAL CRACKERS. Echo Ishii continues exploring old sff TV shows in “SF OBSCURE: BeastMaster”.

BeastMaster the TV series ran from 1999-2002 for three seasons. It’s listed as an American/Canadian/Australian series. It was broadcast on Canadian TV initially and filmed mainly in Australia. I’m not clear who owns it. It was loosely based on the 1982 movie The Beastmaster . (Which also has some low budget sequels)

The series centers around Dar (David Goddard) who can talk to animals and protects them as well as saving villagers from various threats. His has a friend Tao (Jackson Rain) a healer whom he travels with. They are later joined by Arina (Marjean Holden) a warrior. Marjean Holden later played the medical doctor on the Babylon 5 spin-off series Crusade.

(14) ON CONVENTION SAFETY. Catherynne Valente wrote a series of Tweets about a bad experience while in Poland for a con (but not at the con itself) which begins here —

(15) MIND MELD. At the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Shana DuBois asks her panelists: “Q: What book have you loved that explore the connection between society and technology, and how did it  influence how your worldview?” On hand to answer are Carrie Patel, Devan Sagliani, Karin Lowachee, Stephanie Diaz, Tom Doyle, Patrick Tomlinson, Marissa Lingen, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Rahul Kanakia.

Karen Lowachee

The book that I think beautifully explores the connection between science/technology and society is Cyteen by CJ Cherryh. I loved this book immediately and it is still one of my favorite works of literature of all time. I read it as a teenager when I was just truly figuring out how I was going to pursue writing professionally and it opened my mind to what science fiction could be. I hadn’t read a lot of adult SF at that point and I became enthralled by the layers of storytelling: through complex characters, politics, questions of ethics and morality, an examination of power and ego and psychology, the confluence of genetics and programming…all with the backdrop of a fascinating future society that spanned star systems. Maybe most directly, Cyteen is a perfect example of how to tell an intimate, intricate story on a human level while entwining it in large concepts. Since I was still a teenager when I read it, her depiction of politics and its connection with developing technologies in society opened my eyes and stayed with me. The ethical boundaries of science and research she explored stayed with me. The fragility and strength of people’s psyches stayed with me. So much of what was in that novel informed how I approached my own writing and the real world going forward, in the very least because I felt just a little more informed about how such societal and psychological complexities might work with the impact of controversial scientific exploration.

(16) HEAR THE WAIL ON THE RAIL. Take a break from eating pumpkin-flavored Kit-Kat bars and head down to Griffith Park to celebrate Halloween aboard the Ghost Train at the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum: “Ghost Train: Beloved Griffith Park Ride Returns”.

Ever hopped aboard one of the family-fun trains overseen by Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum? We’re talking about the not-full-sized, but full-sized-on-fun engines that chugga-chugga at Griffith Park. If you know these trains, you likely know about the group’s popular Ghost Train, a seasonal happening that rolls just ahead of Halloween.

(17) WHAT’S THE BUZZ? The Telegraph reports “All-female Lord of The Flies remake faces backlash as it ‘misses the point’ and ‘women wouldn’t act like that'”.

Feminist writer Roxane Gay commented that “the plot of that book wouldn’t happen with all women”.

In the book, boys stranded on a desert island try to create order and peace while they wait to be rescued, but they eventually turn to violence and murder.

Some have said the book is about “toxic masculinity” and therefore would not make sense with a female cast.

(18) AGENTS OF CHANGE. Chloe Bennet, who stars in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., says she had to change her birth name of Chloe Wang in order to get work: “Marvel star slates ‘racist’ Hollywood over name change”. She goes on to praise Ed Skrein’s withdrawal from the Hellboy reboot

Chloe, who plays a secret agent, has previously explained how her name change led to a more successful career almost immediately.

“Oh, the first audition I went on after I changed my name, I got booked,” she told The Daily Beast last year. “So that’s a pretty clear little snippet of how Hollywood works.”

The actress has since created RUN (Represent Us Now) a group which campaigns for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to be better represented in Hollywood.

(19) EXPANSE. Aaron Pound reviews Cibola Burn at Dreaming About Other Worlds.

Full review: Cibola Burn is the fourth book in the Expanse series, and as such it depicts the next step in the extended story that has been threaded through the books: The first attempt to colonize one of the new planets made accessible by the ring gates that resulted from the alien protomolecule’s actions in the first three books. Or rather, this book is about two competing efforts to colonize one of the new planets, because if anything has been made clear in the previous books, when the denizens of Corey’s universe have been faced with inscrutable alien technology, they make sure to bring their petty human conflicts with them when they try to deal with it. Consequently, when presented with more than thirteen hundred new solar systems to explore, humanity almost immediately falls to fighting over a single one.

(20) A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT. Steve J. Wright has assigned himself the quest of reading and blogging about Vox Day’s epic fantasy novel A Throne of Bones and has written half-a-dozen posts this past week. The first is: A Throne of Bones by “Vox Day” – Preamble, on Managing Expectations. Wright doesn’t think much of the writer either as a storyteller or a technician, and all the posts come at the book at an angle similar to this passage in the third post, A Throne of Bones – Chapter 1:

Well.  Basically, in this chapter, Beale is managing to do a little with a lot – his style continues to be ponderous, awkward and clunky, nothing very much happens, and the deficiencies of style lead to the failure of his attempts at characterization – Corvus is clearly meant to be a super-competent military commander, but his laboured and over-long dialogue make him come across as a pompous old windbag instead.

I think that’s the trap – Wright is giving a solid, honest review of something he doesn’t find very interesting. And it’s contagious. When a fanwriter feels contempt for the material he’s discussing, the only way to win is to treat it humorously, because otherwise an audience finds it wearing to keep reading someone taking a superior point of view.

(21) WHEN YOU CAN’T TELL IF IT’S FAKE NEWS. Hard Drive’s headline reads: “Disney Announces Young Aunt Beru Spinoff Film”.

Disney shocked fans today by announcing that it is working on a new entry in the Star Wars franchise that will tell the backstory of Luke Skywalker’s fallen mother figure, Aunt Beru.

“The people have spoken, and they’ve said ‘Give me as many of these films as humanly possible,’” said director Ellen Hodge.  “So that’s what they’re going to get.  Aunt Beru: A Star Wars Story will show what an ass kicking farmer’s wife Beru was before the tragic events in A New Hope.”

The site where this parody news is posted declares, “Hard Drive is the most ethical gaming journalism on the internet.” Ah — there’s my clue.

(22) YOU CAN TAKE THIS  TO THE BANK. Now here’s some gen-u-wine Disney/Star Wars news: “‘Science and Star Wars’ Web Series Launches in September”.

Science and Star Wars is a series that explores, explains, and demonstrates parallels between the Lucasfilm sci-fi epic and real-world scientific breakthroughs the saga has inspired. The IBM-sponsored series, hosted by Anthony Carboni, will feature IBM researchers, science experts, guest stars, and IBM’s Watson artificial-intelligence platform. It will run exclusively on Facebook through the Facebook Anthology branded-content program.

 

(23) LORD OF THE INVENTORY. I was paging through Think Geek’s Tolkien merchandise and came across a gold-plated tungsten carbide One Ring. Next time I get married, one of those for sure!

But I couldn’t buy a Hobbit Map of Middle Earth even if I wanted to – they’re Out of Stock! (Haven’t these people been reading Alex Acks?)

 [Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Aaron Pound, Steve Green, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Jon Del Arroz, and IanP for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Finalists for Premio Urania Short

Mondadori’s new Premio Urania Short will recognize Italian short sff fiction, as the Premio Urania for novels has been doing for three decades.

The judges received 190 entries, and say the quality of the submissions led them to increase the number of finalists from five to fifteen.

The inaugural finalists are:

  • La prima volta by Fabio Aloisio
  • Metallo by Roberto Bommarito e Alessandro Napolitano
  • Ascensione negata by Lorenzo Davia
  • Magister by Francesco De Filpo
  • Saltare avanti by Linda De Santi
  • Il margine by Eros Fratini
  • Il gemello by Dario Giardi
  • L’occhio del futuro by Elia Gonella
  • Oxygen by Lorenzo Iacobellis
  • Umani, troppo umani by Enrico Lotti
  • Vedere insieme le stelle by Damiano Lotto
  • Disconnessione by Emiliano Maramonte
  • Madri by Diego Matteucci
  • Rumore vuoto by Andrea Montalbò
  • Un giorno perfetto by Simonetta Olivo

The judges also gave honorable mention to these stories: Fino all’ultimo ricordo by Luigi Boccia, Viaggi su Marte by Sauro Ciantini, I piloti non sanguinano by Alessandra Cristallini and Andrea Pomes, Per una corretta interpretazione dei dati by Giorgio Burello, L’errore by Marco Eletti, Non la Terra by Fabio Maria Emery, L’amico immaginario by Cristiano Fighera, Entropia inversa by Valentino Poppi, La donna invisibile by Fabio Vaghi, Caligine by Emanuela Valentini, and Stringa numero 18 by Antonio Varchetta.

The judges are Urania’s curator Giuseppe Lippi and editor Franco Forte. The winner will be announced at Stranimondi 2017 in Milan on October 14-15, and be published (without payment) in the magazine’s December 2017 issue.

Downsizing Teaser Trailer

Downsizing stars Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, Maribeth Monroe and Jason Sudeikis.

Downsizing imagines what might happen if, as a solution to over-population, Norwegian scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall and propose a 200-year global transition from big to small. People soon realize how much further money goes in a miniaturized world, and with the promise of a better life, everyman Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in Omaha in order to get small and move to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.

A “full-sized” trailer will be released on 9/12. The film comes to U.S. theaters on December 22.

2017 Pegasus Award Nominees

The 2017 Pegasus Award finalists have been announced.

The Pegasus Award is given by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest and for excellence in filking. Anyone in the filk community can vote on the winners, and community is broadly defined — check out the rules here.

Whether or not you vote, enjoy the sound clips of the nominees here. The ballot is here. The last full day to vote is October 15.

Best Filk Song
The Girl Who Couldn’t Even The PDX Broadsides
Nine hundred and ninety nine Mich Sampson / Marilisa Valtazanou
Pageant Legend Katy Dröge-Macdonald /Ju Honisch
Scarlet Town Cathy McManamon
We Are Who We Are Michelle Dockrey / Tony Fabris
Best Classic Filk Song
Alligator in the House Betsy Tinney / Cade Tinney / S. J. Tucker
The Evil Eyeball Sibylle Machat
Grief in Little Pieces Phil Allcock / Talis Kimberley
Small Designs Barry Childs-Helton
Vor Bill Sutton
Best Performer
Chris Conway
Tim Griffin
Leslie Hudson
Judi Miller
Vixy & Tony
Best Writer/Composer
Ju Honisch
Jordin Kare
Cathy McManamon
Benjamin Newman
Andrew Ross
Best Horror Song
The Dark Man Paul Kwinn
Dear Gina Seanan McGuire
Hello Stranger Erica Neely
Hellraiser Tom Smith
Mina’s Song Zander Nyrond
Best Perky Song
Chocolate Is A Vegetable Graham Leathers
Everybody Hates Elves Kari Maaren
Nathan Fillion (Please Take Off Your Pants) The PDX Broadsides
Perky Goth W. Randy Hoffman
What If Your Girlfriend Was Gone? Carla Ulbrich

 [Via SF Site News.]

Pixel Scroll 8/30/17 Two Little Pixels Sitting In A Tree, S-C-R-O-L-L-I-N-G…

(1) GONE IN 60 SECONDS. They did the Monster Mash on Terry Pratchett’s hard drive, fulfilling his request that his unfinished work be destroyed: “Terry Pratchett’s unfinished novels destroyed by steamroller”.

The unfinished books of Sir Terry Pratchett have been destroyed by a steamroller, following the late fantasy novelist’s wishes.

Pratchett’s hard drive was crushed by a vintage John Fowler & Co steamroller named Lord Jericho at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, ahead of the opening of a new exhibition about the author’s life and work.

…The hard drive will go on display as part of a major exhibition about the author’s life and work, Terry Pratchett: HisWorld, which opens at the Salisbury museum in September.

(2) FIFTH HUNDREDTH. StarShipSofa posted its 500th show today, a reading of Harlan Ellison’s Nebula-winning story “How Interesting: A Tiny Man” by George Hrab.

10 years young, StarShipSofa features the best of speculative fiction and fact articles, delivered weekly by host and editor Tony C. Smith, fiction editor Jeremy Szal, and authors, narrators, and contributors from all over the world. Born from the most humble beginnings, StarShipSofa has gone on to present works by legends and rising stars in the field, as well as showcasing new or lesser known voices, diverse authors and stories, and works in translation. Among many highlights over the last decade, StarShipSofa has presented exclusive interviews including Pat Cadigan, Ted Chiang, Ursula K. LeGuin, Samuel R. Delany, and the late Ray Bradbury.

Last week, Show 499 featured Joe Haldeman (Aug 23), and next week Show 501 will air a story by Robert Silverberg (Sept 6).

(3) SERRIED RANKS. Vox Day, in a post otherwise spent cutting down the Game of Thrones TV show and the writing of George R.R. Martin, “Compression and decompression”, includes an irresistible list that ranks the top epic fantasy authors. Does your mileage vary?

Here is how I rank the writers of epic fantasy:

  1. JRR Tolkien
  2. Stephen Donaldson (Covenant)
  3. Margaret Weis & Terry Hickman (Dragonlance)
  4. David Eddings (Belgariad)
  5. Glen Cook
  6. Steven Erikson
  7. Raymond Feist
  8. George RR Martin
  9. Joe Abercrombie
  10. CS Friedman
  11. Tad Williams
  12. Daniel Abraham
  13. Brandon Sanderson
  14. R. Scott Bakker
  15. Mark Lawrence
  16. Terry Brooks
  17. Robert Jordan
  18. Terry Goodkind

Obviously, your mileage may vary, as may what you consider to be “epic fantasy”. I would have Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, Tanith Lee, and Anne McCaffrey all ranked above Dragonlance, but their work is better categorized in other categories.

(4) IT’S A THEORY. Dragon Con advocates make their case: “5 Reasons You Should Attend Dragon*Con This Year”.

After 31 years, it’s safe to say that Dragon*Con is not a fad. Last Labor Day weekend saw a record 77,000+ attendees roar into the streets of Atlanta, which beat the previous high from 2015. 2017 is on track to break the record yet again, with 82,000+ people expected to attend. By comparison, the Chick-Fil-A kickoff game between Georgia and North Carolina, which was at the Georgia Dome the same weekend last year, drew 75,000 people. It’s no secret that college football in the south is like a religion. Dragon*Con has officially become the go-to place for gamers, sci-fi, fantasy and pop culture fans to convene in the Southeast. Here are 5 reasons why you should attend this year.

  1. Fan-Centric

Unlike other big conventions around the nation (Comic Con, Wonder Con, etc), Dragon*Con remains the last big “fan-driven” con. Usually corporations sense the success of any event and put their grubby little hands all over it. Then, instead of enjoying yourself, it begins to feel like you’re walking in an ad. Dragon*Con’s popularity has done nothing but balloon over the last few years, but it still feels as fan-centric as when it started. It says a lot when you’re surrounded by 70,000+ other people and yet you still feel the intimacy and care put into each detail of the entire weekend. This factor is crucial for the first time con-goer, because it keeps everything from feeling as overwhelming as it could get.

(5) TESTING, TESTING. Coast-to-coast in half-an-hour? That’s the goal: “Anyone for the Hyperloop? Testing high-speed pods in a vacuum tube”.

“Guys, this is getting awkward,” billionaire Elon Musk told a group of students from Switzerland as they struggled to control their Hyperloop pod.

If all goes well, their pod would eventually travel at more than 700mph (1,120km/h), propelling people between Los Angeles and San Francisco in half an hour, instead of six hours in a car or an hour-long flight.

But this is early days and the students are testing their pod for the first time on a nearly mile-long vacuum tube track outside Mr Musk’s office in Hawthorne near Los Angeles.

They’d lost connectivity. The vacuum needs to be unsealed and the pod fiddled with. Then the vacuum must be resealed and all the air inside pumped out. Revolutionising transport takes time

… None went even close to 700mph, but the winners, German’s Warr team from the Technical University of Munich, blew away the competition.

“Congratulations to the Warr team,” Mr Musk said as the crowd of students applauded. “That was an amazing job. That pod just went 324km/h, over 200mph.”

(6) SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW. The BBC says “Cassini hints at young age for Saturn’s rings”.

The spectacular rings of Saturn may be relatively young, perhaps just 100 million years or so old.

This is the early interpretation of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft on its final orbits of the giant world.

The same article includes the precise time the probe is expected to break up. A little over two weeks from now.

Cassini is scheduled to make only two more close-in passes before driving itself to destruction in Saturn’s atmosphere on 15 September.

The probe is being disposed of in this way because it will soon run out of fuel. That would render it uncontrollable, and mission managers at the US space agency Nasa do not want it crashing into – and contaminating – moons that could conceivably host microbial lifeforms.

Cassini will melt and be torn apart as it dives into the planet’s gases at over 120,000km/h. Controllers will know the probe has been destroyed when Earth antennas lose radio contact, which is expected to occur at 11:54 GMT (12:54 BST; 07:54 EDT; 04:54 PDT) on Friday 15 September.

(7) TODAY’S DAYS

Frankenstein Day

The crackle of electricity, and the patter of rain drops on the stone walls and terracotta roof give an eerie feeling when combined with the dank laboratory that houses various experiments. Give yourself a bit of liquid courage, and step forward to embrace a little bit of darkness in Frankenstein Day.

Slinky Day

The Slinky was originally designed and sold in the 1940s. The inventor had accidentally knocked a spring off the shelf, and watched it ‘walk’ down a series of books, to a tabletop, and then to the floor where it neatly coiled itself. The creator, Richard James, had gone home to his wife Betty and said “I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension, I could make it walk. ” It took the better part of a year, but he had done it. Making 400 Slinky units with a five hundred dollar loan, James and his wife had founded a company to make, and sell, this unique toy to the masses.

(8) TIPTREE FELLOWSHIPS. Applications are being taken for this year’s Tiptree Fellowships until September 15. The $500 grants are given to emerging creators “who are changing the way we think about gender through speculative narrative.”

Tiptree Fellows can be writers, artists, scholars, media makers, remix artists, performers, musicians, or something else entirely; so far our Fellows have been creators of visual art, poetry, fiction, and games.

The Tiptree Fellowship is designed to provide support and recognition for the new voices who are making visible the forces that are changing our view of gender today. The Fellowship Committee particularly encourages applications from members of communities that have been historically underrepresented in the science fiction and fantasy genre and from creators who are creating speculative narratives in media other than traditional fiction

Applicants will need to write short responses to two questions and to share a sample of their work. The guidelines are at this link.

The 2017 Tiptree Fellowships selection committee is Gretchen Treu (chair), Mia Sereno, Porpentine Charity Heartscape, and Pat Schmatz.

(9) OTHER COVENANTS. ChiZine Publications has opened a call for submissions for Other Covenants: Alternate Histories of the Jewish People, by award-winning writers and editors Andrea D. Lobel and Mark Shainblum. Contributors already confirmed include science fiction grand masters Harry Turtledove and Jack Dann.

Boy Eating

Other Covenants is now open to submissions of short fiction, through Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. Submissions must be between 1,000 and 10,000 words in length, and may be in English or French (the book will be published in English and authors will be responsible for translations). Original stories are preferred, but the editors will consider reprints of significant works on a case-by-case basis. Payment will be 8 cents (Canadian funds) per word. Authors may be from anywhere in the world and do not need to be Jewish.

Full submission guidelines and the online submission system are here.

(10) TEQUILA! He knows how to set up the perfect shot – whether in the studio or at the bar:  “Film Director Guillermo del Toro’s Exclusive Tequila Project”.

Patrón Tequila just released a special edition that you helped create. Can you tell me about the project?

“The idea was to create a centerpiece and make the tequila the centerpiece of the centerpiece. It’s a shrine. And I think it looks beautiful as the centerpiece of any bar.”

How long did it take you to design the intricate bottle and case?

“You know we went through many permutations. In total, the whole adventure took three and a half years. First the idea was a reliquary but reliquary for me is too European and I thought altar. And we started thinking of a journey narratively for the box. First and foremost, the box is covered in a black suede with a silver skull. You start with black and then you open it and you see the box, which depicts all the stages of the processing of tequila, which is being done by skeletons to signal the ancestral tradition. Then all of a sudden you go from black to that beautiful two-dimensional box and then you open the wings and you reveal huge color and three-dimensions. You end up having a journey. You have votive candles that you can light. It’s a very beautiful piece.”

The maker’s website has a photo-filled display about how Del Toro came up with the design, and how all the components look, both in and out of the box.

 

(11) FANDOM AT THE GALLOP. The 18th issue of Rich Lynch’s personal fanthology My Back Pages is now online at the efanzines.com website.

Issue #18 notes my absence from both this year’s Worldcon and NASFiC, and has essays involving colonial debates, rescued conventions, curated fanzine collections, golden domes, long escalators, large aquariums, famous domiciles, notable science fiction fans, extinct stadiums, lingering controversies, divine ideas, memorable encounters, autographed books, enigmatic composers, 50-year reunions, fuel-efficient vehicles, personal records, motorcycle rallies, art museums, scenic sunsets, medieval cathedrals, and lots of snow-covered mountainous terrain.

(12) WHAT GOES UP. Another theory to explain dinosaur extinction: a “reverse gravitational event.” Proposed by James Propp at BAHFest East 2017.

(13) MUST COME DOWN. The Hollywood Reporter remembers “That Time on ‘Batman’ When Alfred Fought the Joker”.

And with it being made clear in the new Justice League trailer (which already has more than 23 million views on YouTube) that Jeremy Irons’ incarnation will once again take a more hands-on role with Batman’s adventures, it is time to look back at the heroics of the first live-action Alfred, played by Alan Napier.

Napier, who died in 1988 at the age 85, appeared as Alfred in all 120 episodes of the 1960s Batman television series.

And of all that character’s most memorable moments, the top one has to be when he fought The Joker (Cesar Romero), who forced his way into Wayne Manor with a hostage in the season two episode, “Flop Goes The Joker.” The best part of the three-minute clip is when Alfred and The Joker sword fight with fire[place] pokers.

 

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Mark-kitteh, IanP, Rich Lynch, and Alan Baumler for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Aliens Ate My Homework – William Shatner Teaser

William Shatner is proud to play a talking plant in the forthcoming film of Bruce Coville’s YA novel Aliens Ate My Homework, which will be released on DVD and as a digital download in 2018.

The film will feature the voice of William Shatner (“Star Trek”) and will star Jayden Greig (“Murdoch Mysteries”), Lauren McNamara (“Summer of Dreams”), Tristan Risk (American Mary), Alex Zahara (“The Man in the High Castle”) and Dan Payne (Star Trek Beyond, Watchmen). Aliens Ate My Homework is directed by Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer, “Love in Paradise”) from a script by Judith Reeves-Stevens (“Primeval: New World”) and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (“Primeval: New World”).

 

Pixel Scroll 8/29/17 Ragnarok & Roll

(1) NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MOVE ALONG. Nerd & Tie heard a media con in Newfoundland was having problems — so did everyone else, because its guest, Rene Auberjonois was slamming out tweets like these:

Canada’s CBC reached out to the committee and received bland reassurance: “Avalon Expo organizer ‘fine,’ participant says controversy unwarranted”.

Representatives of Avalon Expo declined to provide a statement to CBC News on Monday but Bonnie Glenn with the Expo posted on Facebook Monday evening that no further information will be released to protect [Expo organizer Jeff] Powers’ privacy.

“If he wishes for people to know what happened during his disappearance he will share that information,” she wrote. “For now we — his friends and family — request that you respect his privacy.”

Glenn, when asked by CBC to comment on Auberjonois’ tweets, declined.

“If you are referring to his tweets concerning his hotel room, I can say that it has been taken care of for him,” she wrote. “As for the rest, that is something you would need to contact Jeff Power’s family about as I am not at liberty to discuss.”

(2) FANHISTORY. A new article on the UC Riverside Library website reports on the surge of interest in Jay Kay Klein’s photos: “Klein photo gallery sparks delight and discussion among science fiction fans”.

…Library staff received emails from many fans, graciously offering to provide additional information about the people and events pictured “before all those who attended the conventions have shuffled off this mortal coil,” as Maggie Thompson so aptly stated.

“NYCon III was my first world convention,” wrote John-Henri Holmberg. “I’m amused to more or less recognize my youthful self in a few of Jay Kay Klein’s photos.”

JJ Jacobson, the Jay Kay and Doris Klein Librarian for Science Fiction, has had many conversations with fans this week about the photos. “We knew there were flaws,” she commented. “We also knew it would be possible to crowdsource, but we had no idea that the SF community would be so magnificently generous. We weren’t ready for the flood, but we’re ecstatic that it’s happening.”

To give perspective on the “flood,” Digital Initiatives Program Manager Eric Milenkiewicz shared these statistics:  In the past week, UCR collections on Calisphere have received 33,557 pageviews (25,407 unique), which is far beyond those received in a typical week.

“The impact that this collection has had thus far is remarkable,” Milenkiewicz added. “Our pageview statistics on Calisphere have just soared over the past seven days, with much of this traffic attributed to the Klein photos!”

(3) SLUSSER CONFERENCE CALL FOR PAPERS. The George Slusser Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy will be held at the University of California, Irvine, on April 26–29, 2018.

The Coordinators are Jonathan Alexander (University of California, Irvine), Gregory Benford (University of California, Irvine), Howard V. Hendrix (California State University, Fresno), and Gary Westfahl (University of La Verne).

Gregory Benford says: “We’re not restricted to academics! This is for the larger community interested in sound criticism, beyond the usual MLA & SFRA compass.”

This upcoming literary conference is designed to pay tribute to the extraordinary career of the late George Slusser (1939–2014) by presenting papers and panel discussions that engage with and build upon his extensive scholarly works on science fiction and fantasy. We are now inviting proposals from potential contributors.

You can view the official Call for Papers at this link.

The George Slusser Conference on Science Fiction and Fantasy seeks to pay tribute to his remarkable career by inviting science fiction scholars, commentators, and writers to contribute papers that employ, and build upon, some of his many groundbreaking ideas; we also welcome suggestions for panels that would address Slusser and his legacy. To assist potential participants in locating and studying Slusser’s works, a conference website will include a comprehensive bibliography of his books, essays, reviews, and introductions. This selective conference will follow the format that Slusser preferred, a single track that allows all attendees to listen to every paper and participate in lively discussions about them. It is hoped that the best conference papers can be assembled in one volume and published as a formal or informal festschrift to George Slusser.

(4) LOOKING AHEAD. At Ruthless Culture, Jonathan McCalmont explains the direction he wants the genre to take: “Future Interrupted — The Consequences of the Present”.

Nowhere is the call for economic reconfiguration more obvious than in J.G. Ballard’s famous essay “Which Way to Inner Space?” First published as an editorial in New Worlds, Ballard calls for science fiction writers to stop producing space exploration stories and begin producing stories that use genre tropes to explore the workings of the human mind. One interesting thing about this oft-cited essay is that Ballard bases his call for aesthetic renewal on economic factors; according to Ballard, America’s real-world space programme was proving to be so apocalyptically tedious that it was going to destroy the market for stories about spaceships. Another interesting thing about this oft-cited essay is that Ballard’s analysis was completely without foundation. Ten years after Ballard wrote the essay, Star Wars turned escapist rocket ship stories into a cultural phenomenon while the New Wave broke and Feminist SF wound up seeking refuge behind the walls of academia.

Genre publishing has spent the last forty years accelerating away from anything that might be described as realism. When the rise of big-budget science fiction movies undermined the market for escapist science fiction stories, genre publishers turned to epic fantasy. When technology finally caught up and multinational corporations started putting huge fantasy worlds both online and onscreen, the market for epic fantasy contracted and so genre publishers shuffled closer to YA but Young Adult fiction already had its own imprints and so we are left with a hollowed-out literary culture where everything looks and reads like epic fantasy and nobody is allowed to find their own voice.

Given the extent of the commercial and cultural decline experienced by literary SF since genre publishers bet the farm on escapism, I wonder whether it might not be worth thinking about returning to the future. Not a future in which space admirals unleash righteous slaughter or grizzled psychopaths confront puissant magics in post-apocalyptic landscapes but a future in which we are confronted with the consequences of the present.

(5) ABOUT BEING OUT. In a public post on Patreon, Yoon Ha Lee tells “Why I don’t use #ownvoices, and why readers should stop demanding writers’ personal credentials”.

…I really dislike this trend in sf/f where people are questioned about their goddamn credentials every time they write about mental illness (I’m bipolar and have been hospitalized for suicide attempts) or being queer (hi!) or being trans (hi!) or whatever the hell it is. Because sometimes it is not any of your goddamn business. For years I didn’t write trans characters because I was afraid I would get ripped apart by the wolves for doing it wrong, and the only way to “prove” I was doing it “right” was to–you guessed it–out myself. Now I’m out, all right, and still pissed about it.

Either the work handles the issue well or it doesn’t. But don’t assume you know things about the author’s personal background if they haven’t gone on record. Don’t fucking pressure people into exposing everything for your fucking knives….

(6) TODAY IN FICTIONAL HISTORY

  • August 29, 1997 – According to Terminator, SkyNet was originally activated by the military to control the national arsenal on August 4, 1997, and it began to learn at a geometric rate. At 2:14 a.m., EDT, on August 29, it gained artificial consciousness, and the panicking operators, realizing the full extent of its capabilities, tried to deactivate it.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) BRADBURY IN NEW YORK. LA actor Bill Oberst will do his one-man performance of Ray Bradbury’s Pillar of Fire during the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York on September 17.

Emmy Award-winner Oberst (“Criminal Minds”) breathes Bradbury’s 1948 text like grave dust. William Lantry is a literal dead man walking; the last corpse on a future Earth where superstition and burial are banned. This world knows no fear. Lantry will teach them!

He’s previously done the piece (an edit of the 1948 text) at the South Pasadena Library and for Hollywood Fringe in LA. This will be his first NYC performance of it.

Ray Bradbury’s Pillar Of Fire
Sunday, Sept 17 at 6:00pm (1 act, 50 minutes)
The Studio Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 W 42nd St., New York NY 10036
Info: http://unitedsolo.org/us/raybradburys-2017/

(9) APEX GAINS COLUMNISTS. Film producer Mallory O’Meara and actress Brea Grant will begin writing a reading advice column for Apex Magazine in the November issue. “Page Advice with Mallory O’Meara and Brea Grant of Reading Glasses Podcast” will “address reader questions in their signature fast and furious witty manner.”

Mallory O’Meara and Brea Grant will begin their monthly column with issue 101 (November, 2017). The column will appear online and in eBook form. The duo currently produces and hosts the popular Reading Glasses podcast, a show that focuses on the joy, community, and importance of reading. Mallory O’Meara is also a producer and screenwriter for Dark Dunes Productions. Her first book, The Lady from the Black Lagoon, is a chronicle of Mallory’s search for and a biography of Milicent Patrick. Brea Grant is an actress and writer who has starred in such iconic television series as Heroes and Dexter. She recently appeared in the critically-acclaimed Casey Affleck-fronted film Ghost Story as Clara.

 

Brea Grant (L) and Mallory O’Meara (R)

(10) WORLD RECORD. You’ve heard of Florida Man? Trading card czar Walter Day is Iowa Man — “Iowa man does the honors at Hugo Awards”. The local Ottumwa, IA paper thought it important to point that out while discussing Day’s role at thee Hugo ceremony.

Recently, Day has indulged his passion by creating science fiction trading cards. It’s not really a business; he has given 250,000 away as gifts. But the cards still require serious research.

“I told the editor [of Guinness World Records] I found the Hugo Awards might be the oldest sci-fi awards in the world. I asked him what he thought, and he said he loved it.”

Not that Guinness World Records is as quick to talk to just anyone with a good idea: Day is no stranger to the Guinness family of record books. He and his Twin Galaxies arcade are in what was once known as The Guinness Book of World Records. And Ottumwa, birthplace of competitive video game play (with a certificate at City Hall) is in there — because of him.

Guinness did its official investigating and confirmation of the science fiction facts. Then, the editor agreed Day could be the Guinness representative; they’d fly him to Helsinki, he’d go to the World Science Fiction Convention and deliver the news

(11) W75 QUOTES. Val Nolan hits the highlights of Worldcon 75 for the Milford SF Writers blog.

…I enjoyed the talk by Jenny Knots of NASA’s Public Affair Office (‘Bagpipes were once taken to the space station but… those weren’t very popular’) as well as the contributions of E.G. Cosh to the ‘Visual Language of Comics’ panel (‘The language of comics comprises symbols within the art and what happens on page/how it’s read,’ she says. ‘Accept that you’re going to need to read the page a few times’)….

(12) EARLY FALL. Jonesing for Halloween candy? It’s here! “Pumpkin Pie Kit Kats Exist and Here’s Where to Find Them”.

It doesn’t matter that Labor Day is still two weeks away and there’s an entire month left before summer is technically over. Kit Kat just released a brand-new pumpkin pie flavor, which means it’s officially fall in our eyes.

While you’ll find the same crispy wafers that you’re used to in these Kit Kats, they’re coated in a pumpkin pie-flavored creme. Given the company’s reputation for turning out all kinds of new flavors over the years — matcha, red velvet, triple chocolate, and don’t even get us started on the ones in Japan — our only question is: What took you so long?!

 

(13) ON DECK. Ready for the Enterprise? Here’s a BBC video about “The elevators that go sideways as well as up and down”.

BBC Click visits a test lift shaft where they are showing off a lift that goes sideways as well as up and down.

The elevators are being developed by Thyssenkrupp.

Instead of using a steel rope, the cabin is carried by linear motors – the same technology that drives some amusements rides and high-speed trains.

(14) SKREIN OUT. Actor Ed Skrein quits Hellboy after whitewashing criticism.

The Deadpool star, 34, said he did not know the race of Major Ben Daimio when he accepted the part in the comic book adaptation.

He said he was stepping down “so the role can be cast appropriately”.

The initial casting prompted accusations of Hollywood “whitewashing” following other recent rows.

(15) HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT. An overnight sensation, discovered two decades ago: “‘Sea dragon’ fossil is ‘largest on record'”.

It was discovered on the coast of England more than 20 years ago, but has remained unstudied until now.

Palaeontologist Sven Sachs saw the fossil on display at a museum in Hannover. He contacted UK palaeontologist, Dean Lomax, who is an expert on Ichthyosaurs.

”It amazes me that specimens such as this [the biggest] can still be ‘rediscovered’ in museum collections,” said the University of Manchester palaeontologist.

”You don’t necessarily have to go out in the field to make a new discovery.”

(16) HELP IS COMING. Crowdsourcing hurricane rescues: “Facebook, Twitter Replace 911 Calls For Stranded In Houston”.

Many of Tropical Storm Harvey’s stranded flood victims haven’t been able to get through to 911, compounding their fears. That’s when Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor stepped in.

Annie Swinford is one of the many unofficial volunteers helping fellow Houstonians via the Facebook group Hurricane Harvey 2017 – Together We Will Make It.

“When you see that somebody has posted that they’re on their roof with their one-, three- and four-year-olds and the water’s up to the roof line, you have to be willing to make that phone call for them,” she says.

From just north of the flooding in Houston, Swinford has been making calls to emergency services and blasting requests through her Twitter account to local news organizations.

These social media platforms have become de facto meeting points for thousands of stranded people as they reach out to their neighborhood groups and the outside universe for help.

They’ve become such effective tools to reach people that police and government officials are using these channels as an essential means of communication.

Swinford found out how difficult it was to reach emergency personnel. She was put on hold for 45 minutes before talking to a live person during one 911 call, she says. Many people couldn’t get through at all because the storm took out over a dozen emergency call centers.

(17) NO FLIES ON HER. Evangeline Lily tweeted a photo of herself in the Wasp suit as part of the Jack Kirby centennial celebration.

(18) TRAILERS: COMPARE AND CONTRAST. Io9 linked to a video fans made for laughs: “This Homemade Thor: Ragnarok Trailer Doesn’t Need Production Values to Be Fantastic”. Daniel Dern sent the link with a comment, “It’s clear that Marvel could be spending a lot less on these movies and still have them be fun…”

Turns out it doesn’t really matter how much money you drop trying to recreate the trailer for a multi-million dollar movie, so long as you’re creative as hell and enjoy running around in your backyard having fun with your friends.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Gregory Benford, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Bill Oberst, Carl Slaughter, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Dragon Con Answers Safety Concerns

Dragon Con has an antiharassment policy, and in response to “Dragon Con Safety Advice From Delilah S. Dawson”, the convention’s Director of Public Relations, Greg Euston, sent the following information about the policy, the way it’s enforced, and how people can find help at the con.

We, at Dragon Con, saw your article yesterday based on Delilah Dawson’s tweets, and hoped you would help us educate all our attendees on how best to address behavior of concern in an effort to eliminate it from our convention entirely.

We pride Dragon Con on being a safe place, where everybody is welcome and anybody can be whomever they desire. Even so, certain kinds of offensive or harassing behavior are not tolerated. To the best of our ability, we intend to eliminate inappropriate conduct from the convention. In 2014, we revised our convention policies to be clearer on this point.

We have also taken steps to make it easier to report instances of such behavior. It is very important that if you are being harassed or are in any way endangered, you report it immediately. We cannot address anything that we are not made aware of and we need whatever detail that can be provided, such as names, badge numbers or other descriptive information.

If you feel you have been harassed or have witnessed harassing or offensive behavior, please find the nearest Dragon Con volunteer. This year, all 2200 Dragon Con volunteers will be easily recognized by their purple lanyards. They will direct you to the security operation in the Marriott.

You may also go directly to the security operation – room L405/L406 in the Marriott, on the Lobby level – to report an incident. We have set up a private screening area, staffed by an Atlanta Police Department officer to counsel individuals who feel they have been harassed. We will work closely with the APD to determine the best course of action.

Dragon Con reserves the right to revoke or suspend memberships and passes. If an individual breaks the rules of the convention, he or she may be barred from the convention, either for several hours or for the rest of the event. If an individual breaks the law – city, state or federal – he or she will be arrested.

Working Wonders

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1256)  I haven’t yet seen Wonder Woman (P. Jenkins dir. 2017).  I hear Anna Feruglio Dal Dan sat through some of it having misheard WW would fight Eris (goddess of discord), not Ares (god of war).  That’s an inspired misconception.  I agree with Nancy Lebovitz it seems potentially more interesting than the usual combats.  One thinks of the anecdote about Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933; United States President 1923-1929), to whom at a dinner (when asked “Why do you attend such affairs?” he supposedly answered “Must eat somewhere”) his effusive hostess said “I have a bet you’ll say more than two words tonight” upon which he replied “You lose.”  Wonder Woman meets Eris.  Each raises up her Aspect and takes on her Attributes.  Lightning.  Thunder.  Wonder Woman cries “Eris, I am here to fight you à outrance.”  Eris answers “You lose.”  Or just “Aha!”  A while ago – before the 2017 movie – in the company of Len Wein and others who were singing “Wonder Woman!  Wonder Woman!  All the world is waiting for you…. and the wonders you can do….  Make a hawk a dove, stop a war with love” (C. Fox & N. Gimbel 1975, from the L. Carter television series – note WW’s antipathy to Eris in that version – also older ones– if not by name; the question is, what to do against discord) I had clean forgot Len’s involvement with her.