(1) BACK TO THE PRESENT. Rob Hansen has added a preliminary version covering 1991-2000 UK zines to his British Fanzine Bibliography.
(2) GETTING THE BOMB EARLY. Gregory Benford discusses his latest book The Berlin Project with Scientific American in “An Alternate History of the Atomic Age”.
Tell me more about your research process, how you developed this.
I simply went in and read enormous amounts of known correspondence, mostly in the Manhattan Project. It took me four and a half years of work and writing, plus personally knowing most of the characters.
I found all sorts of amazing things — like a memo between Groves and Pres. Eisenhower, where Groves asked Eisenhower’s permission to deploy Geiger counters with every infantry battalion that made a landing at Normandy on D-day. I asked my father James Benford about that — he went into Normandy on the fifth day. He said he remembered them vaguely, and then I found in fact the Geiger counters stayed in the field for about a month before we realized the Germans were not going to use their uranium — of which they had over 150 tons — as essentially a pollutant, a crude terror weapon. But they certainly contemplated doing it — we know that.
The entire history of nuclear weapons is filled with scientists considering the future using science fiction as a prompt. As a scientist and an author of science fiction, I find that fascinating. The idea of using radioactive dust as a weapon came from a short story by Robert Heinlein: “Solution Unsatisfactory,” published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1941, which was about the strategic standoff that would occur from the development of nuclear weapons. But in Heinlein’s story the weapons aren’t explosives, they’re contaminants. That idea went through Astounding directly into the ears of the German rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun, who was still receiving and reading the magazine through a subscription he began in the 1930s via deliveries through the German embassy in Stockholm. He read about it and relayed it to Albert Speer, so the Nazi elite must have known of it as a weapon. The U.S. kept it secret because it occurred to them also, at the same time as Heinlein — in fact, some believe because of Heinlein. There are a bunch of now-declassified memos I have read about uranium as a contaminant, and I quote them in the book! All the memos, letters and so forth in the book are real. I didn’t make them up!
(3) FOR THE BIRDS. A science fiction writer with her own brand of coffee — Balzac’s Atwood Blend. There’s name recognition for you.
Balzac’s is delighted to partner with Canadian author and bird lover Margaret Atwood in creating a Smithsonian Institute certified Bird Friendly blend to help raise funds and awareness for Canada’s Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO).
(4) WHAT COMES AFTER F. Fran Wilde will teach a workshop on “Cussin’ in Secondary Worlds”.
Cursewords, expletives, and more — those things your characters say when nothing else will do — tells you more about the world (including issues of class, cultural taboos, and more) than you might imagine. How cussing and worldbuilding interrelate. AKA the class where we say F*ck a lot.
Join Norton Award winning author Fran Wilde, author of Updraft, Cloudbound, and The Jewel and Her Lapidary for a workshop that will leave you ready to swear magnificently.
Classes are taught online via Google hangouts and require reliable Internet connection, although in the past participants have logged on from coffee shops, cafes, and even an airplane; a webcam is suggested but not required…
The workshop is happening Saturday, June 10, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific Time. Click the link for further details, cost, and information about how to register.
(5) PINING FOR THE FJORDS? Once more real life outstrips science fiction — RockPaperShotgun reports “Many pet rabbits will die in Second Life on Saturday”.
Virtual rabbits across Second Life [official site] will fall asleep on Saturday then never wake up, now that the their digital food supply has been shut down by a legal battle. The player-made and player-sold Ozimals brand of digirabbits are virtual pets that players breed and care for in the sandbox MMO, and even need to feed by buying DRM-protected virtual food. But they rely on servers. Waypoint reported earlier today that the seller of Ozimals and the Pufflings virtuabirds has received a legal threat he says he cannot afford to fight, so they’ve shut down. By Saturday, rabbits will run out of food and enter hibernation.
The rabbits aren’t dead, they’re sleeping. They simply can never wake up.
The “breedables“ craze, which Ozimals played a big role in, may have peaked a while back but a lot of virtual animals still exist. Well, for now. If digirabbits can’t eat, they enter “hibernation’ after 72 hours and will only wake up when fed again. Ozimals need to check in with servers but these shut down on Wednesday, so no rabbits can be fed. Even players who’ve bought a big supply of food will find their rabbits, er, very still forever. I’ve read that some are already gone….
Sounds awful! But before you start thinking up five or six ways this tragedy could have been averted, the company already has:
Ozimals did give rabbit owners a brief chance to save their rabbits. Before shutting down, they gave away items which make rabbits not need food — and leaves them sterile. Some rabbits will live on forever, the last of their kind. If you wish that fate upon your rabbit, apparently some kindly players have a stash you’re welcome to.
(6) MORE SUPER TV. The CW has debuted the first trailer for Black Lightning.
(7) LISTEN UP. “On Star Trek: Discovery and Michelle Yeoh’s accent”: Swapna Krishna tells why a particular moment in the new Star Trek: Discovery trailer was so moving.
This article is about one specific moment in the trailer: when Michelle Yeoh’s character, Captain Philippa Georgiou, speaks for the first time.
“It’s hard to imagine you’ve served under me for seven years,” she tells First Officer Michael Burnham, played by the exquisite Sonequa Martin-Green, as they walk through a searing desert.
This line might seem innocuous, and it is. But that didn’t stop me from bursting into tears the second I heard Yeoh deliver the line. Why?
Because Michelle Yeoh kept her accent.
(8) TERMS OF COMPLIANCE. Gary Westfahl begins “Contractual Obligations: A Review of Alien: Covenant” with a reassurance and a warning.
In contemporary Hollywood, the announced information about a film often conveys an implied contract — a covenant, as it were — between filmgoers and filmmakers: if you buy a ticket to see this movie, you are guaranteed to experience certain desired forms of entertainment. Thus, a picture with the word “Alien” in its title, directed by Ridley Scott, promises potential viewers that they will observe numerous images of H. R. Giger’s iconic “xenomorphs” bursting out of human bodies and energetically attacking any person in their vicinity. And unquestionably, Alien: Covenant fulfills its contractual obligations: so, if you have been longing to watch scene after scene of lunging aliens latching on the faces of intended victims and gruesomely slaughtering every one of them, this film represents the answer to your prayers. The very open question is whether anyone without that fervent yearning will want to sit through two hours and three minutes of this otherwise lamentable movie.
(9) MORE SPOILERS. As Carl Slaughter phrases it:
Michael Fassbender versus Michael Fassbender:
If there’s anything better than an alien, it’s an android.
If there’s anything better than an android, it’s 2 androids.
If there’s anything better than 2 androids, it’s 2 identical looking androids.
If there’s anything better than 2 identical looking androids,
it’s 2 identical looking androids with opposite character.
Matthew Jacobs titles his review for HuffPo “An Ode To Michael Fassbender Seducing Michael Fassbender In ‘Alien: Covenant'”.
“Alien: Covenant“ has two Michael Fassbenders. Both are androids. They engage in existential disputes on a remote planet. They debate the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley. One teaches the other to play a flute. More importantly, they kiss.
These two Michael Fassbenders form the hallmark of “Alien: Covenant,” the sixth installment in the 38-year-old “Alien” franchise. One Fassbender is the prototype David, returning from “Covenant” predecessor “Prometheus.” David’s devilish God-like tendencies have annexed the planet where the titular colony ship is investigating a rogue radio transmission. For his next trick, Fassbender plays Walter, a new-and-improved humanoid that takes care of the Covenant and strains to protect his crewmates from the extraterrestrial beasts David has cultivated.
(10) IT’S A WRAP. The movie arrives June 9, heralded by The Mummy – Official Trailer #3
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. And Paul Weimer, who always retweets the best stuff. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]