Star Trek Roundup for 3/3/18

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

  • Star Trek: New Federation and Klingon Ships Revealed

Warning! This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Read at your own risk!

Star Trek: Discovery continued its Mirror Universe story arc on “The Wolf Inside,” and there were many reveals that surprised both Michael Burnham and fans of the entire franchise. Among other reveals, Star Trek fans got to see Mirror Sarek, who had a stylin’ goatee much like his son, Mirror Spock. The nod to the classic Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” definitely didn’t escape fans, but there was one additional crazy reference that might have. The episode revealed that Mirror Spock, like Original Series Spock, also went against his father’s wishes, but in a way some fans should be thinking hard about….

  1. The Mystery of the Spore Drive

As noted in an earlier entry, Star Trek: Discovery has multiple starships with “spore drive,” a displacement-activated propulsion system that utilizes an organic mycelial network that exists throughout the universe in a subspace mycelial plane.

By integrating tardigrade DNA into a human host, the USS Discovery was able to use this genetically-modified “navigator” to successfully traverse the mycelial network and enable the ship to move across great distances instantaneously.

It’s curious, then, that the spore drive has never been mentioned anywhere else in the 50-plus years of Star Trek, even as a failed experiment….

According to “Star Trek: Discovery” co-showrunner Gretchen Berg, legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling is the reason why no major character dies in the season finale of “Star Trek: Discovery.”

“We worked on the original ‘Beverly Hills 90210,’” she told IndieWire, “And somebody was going to die or not going to die, and his attitude came back down that he didn’t want the person to die and I was like, ‘Why? Come on, that’s life!’”

TVLINE | Let’s start at the end, with the Enterprise reveal. What kind of storytelling avenues does that open up for you in Season 2?
| I think one of the biggest things it’s going to allow us to do is start to develop how Discovery fits into canon. One of the big things that’s been polarizing for fans is, “We’ve never heard about Discovery! How does it fit? She’s related to Spock?” All those things. And what it’ll allow us to do is hit that straight-on. We see it as an exciting opportunity to say, “This is exactly how Discovery fits into the timeline. This is exactly how we can reconcile the choices we have made.” Because at this period in time, the Discovery and the Enterprise are the crown jewels in the fleet, so they should be face-to-face.

  • Steve Shives tells 5 Ways Deep Space Nine Reinvented Star Trek

  • Was Enterprise really that bad?

The “Star Trek” franchise has spent a lot of time developing concepts about alien physiology across its many shows and movies, but one longtime fan theory about Klingon sexual anatomy has never been confirmed. That is, until Sunday night’s “Star Trek: Discovery” season finale.

“Star Trek” shows like “The Next Generation” and “Voyager” have established that Klingons evolved numerous anatomical redundancies, including two livers, an eight-chambered heart, and two stomachs. Unsurprisingly, science fiction fans being what they are, Trekkers have long speculated that this means Klingons have two of everything. Yes, we mean speculated that they have two penises.

  • Bad Star Trek props

According to “DS9” showrunner Ira Steven Behr, the writers initially tried to make the show similar to other “Trek” series, but the results were not satisfying. Behr and David Zappone are co-directors of the documentary “What We Left Behind: Looking Back at ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.’” The film, currently in post-production at Paramount, marks the series’ 25th anniversary and is slated for release in summer, 2018.

“We tried all these different types of things and none of them really seemed to work,” says Behr. “The standalone episodes just kind of bored the hell out of us for the most part. We were struggling. Then the episode that seemed to work at the end of season one had the double whammy of ‘Duet’ and ‘In the Hands of the Prophets.’ So by the end of season one, I felt that I had a handle on what the strength of this show was, which was building on this complicated backstory [creators] Michael [Piller] and Rick [Berman] had given the show.”

On December 8, news broke that Tarantino was in talks with Paramount Pictures to direct a new, potentially hardcore Star Trek project. Since then, the in-development film has purportedly hired Revenant scribe Mark L. Smith to write the script. And Frakes has one big reminder for the Tarantino project, should it actually materialize.

“Don’t forget the heart,” Frakes told Inverse in a phone interview. “Before you eat it, don’t forget the heart!” Though Frakes’s Star Trek: First Contact was considered a pretty brutal Trek movie when it was released in 1996, it still contains perhaps some of the most heartwarming scenes of hope and friendship in any Star Trek story ever. The Vulcans made contact with the human race, Picard learned to let go of his Captain Ahab rage, and Data admitted he only thought about betraying the Enterprise for like half a second.

  • Patrick Stewart does the TNG prologue with a French Accent!

  • Patrick Stewart talks about his audition for Star Trek the Next Generation TNG

  • Adam Savage Explores Star Trek Costumes and Props

  • William Shatner wants to be in New Quentin Tarantino/Abrams Star Trek movie

The paper’s author, a biologist for 30 years and a fan of “Star Trek,” wrote up a research paper based on the “Voyager” episode. He submitted it to 10 open-access journals known or suspected of charging authors publication fees without providing the editorial services associated with legitimate journals, such as careful peer review and vetting of the paper’s claims. Four accepted it, though only one, the American Research Journal of Biosciences, published the paper.

A Strange Discovery in China

By Carl Slaughter: Got a real treat for you.  Under the east train station in Guangzhou, China, is the Po Park Mall.  At the entrance to the Po Park Mall, next to the Food Republic food court, is a statue of Dr. Strange.  One of the signs says in English and Chinese, “Photo only.  Don’t damage me.”  Another sign has the Marvel logo.  Here are photos of the signs, a full body photo of the Dr. Strange statue, and a head shot of the statue.

Marvel and More: A Superhero Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:


  • Marvel Studios’ Black Panther – Warriors of Wakanda

  • Black Panther / Fantastic Four animated episode

  • How the Black Panther’s suit works

To bring Wakanda, Black Panther’s fictional African nation, to the screen, director Ryan Coogler and his crew travelled throughout Africa and drew from various African cultures and practices to create a new African nation….

  • Wesley Snipes as the Black Panther

“5 ways Wesley Snipes would have made a vastly different ‘Black Panther'”

Before Blade, Wesley Snipes tried and failed to get a Black Panther movie made. It would have been dramatically different from the new film.

“Wesley Snipes Remembers Trying to Get ‘Black Panther’ Made in 1992: ‘There Were Three Scripts Penned’”

Snipes recently joined Variety for an interview in which he looked back at trying to adapt “Black Panther” for the big screen in 1992. Snipes felt the material was rich enough to appeal to all kinds of audience demographics, and he was particularly excited about the character’s utilization of African martial arts.

“We thought it would be very cool and atypical for a Marvel comic-book character,” Snipes said of “Black Panther.” “Something that would be appeal to white people, black people, Asian people, and have some martial arts in it and expose the world of Africa in a way that most people were unfamiliar with and very contrary to the stereotypes that are projected about the continent.”


“Jemma, it’s me. Don’t turn around. Just play it cool…. Oh, I’ve missed you so much. I spent six months locked up in an off-the-books military prison, not to mention 80 years frozen in space, all just hoping to find you. But here you are…. You know, I realized something: the universe can’t stop us, because we have crossed galaxies, we have traveled through time, we survived the bottom of the Atlantic just so we could be together. And a love like that, that is stronger than ANY curse. You and I, we are UNSTOPPABLE together. I don’t want to live another day without you. So Jemma Simmons, will you marry me?”  –  Fitz to Simmons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 5, episode 6

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk!

Friday’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was, quite literally, a bloodbath.

Though Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) suggested the Destroyer of Worlds take part in a fight to the death, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) was one of the few who did not die. Telepathic Inhuman Ben (Myko Olivier) was killed for lying to Kasius (Dominic Rains). Tess (Eve Harlow) was strung up for protecting new Inhuman Flint (Coy Stewart), who killed Grill (Pruitt Taylor Vince) to save Coulson (Clark Gregg) & Co. from being turned over to Kasius. May’s (Ming-Na Wen) fate hangs in the balance after being sent to the surface of the Earth. Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) slit Kasius’ throat, so he might be dead.

“She’s a great cause and she takes action, so there’s so many things going on socially from the 50s to when she passes, that I think she’d have loved to be a part of, There are so many things so could have been a part of, and probably did do. It could probably fill another season, I’m sure. I hope.”


  • Top 10 Superhero Origin Story Movies

  • Best superhero opening scenes

The point is, while the Rotten Tomatoes score of a certain movie or TV show certainly helps bring some clarity to whether or not it’s worth watching, it often doesn’t tell the whole story. That said, chances are that if a television show was canceled after just one season (like so many shows on this list were), then it likely had a crappy score on Rotten Tomatoes.

With that in mind, it got us thinking, what are the superhero shows with the worst Rotten Tomatoes scores of all-time? While some of the items on this list have a decent Rotten Tomatoes score, they’re only included because most (basically all) of the superhero cartoons ever made aren’t rated on the website, nor are many older shows.

So without further ado, these are the 15 Worst Superhero Shows Ever (According To Rotten Tomatoes).

15. Gotham (78%)

  • Superheroes who died in 2017

  • Jodie Foster on superhero movies:

“Jodie Foster Slams Superhero Movies, Compares Studios’ “Bad Content” To Fracking”

In an interview with the magazine version of Radio Times (via DailyMail), Foster, who recently directed the “Arkangel” episode in the fourth season of Black Mirror, did not hold back when talking about movies of the Marvel and DC variety saying, “Going to the movies has become like a theme park.”

She added, “Studios making bad content in order to appeal to the masses and shareholders is like fracking — you get the best return right now but you wreck the earth.” Then in a final jab she said, “It’s ruining the viewing habits of the American population and then ultimately the rest of the world.”

“Director James Gunn Calls Jodie Foster’s Superhero Take-Down ‘Old-Fashioned’”

Gunn certainly isn’t dismissing Foster’s opinion completely, but he does think she’s being a bit out-dated. “I think Foster looks at film in an old-fashioned way where spectacle film can’t be thought-provoking. It’s often true but not always.”

Gunn concedes that “most studio franchise films are somewhat soulless” but that creating “spectacle films that are innovative, humane and thoughtful is what excites me about this job.”

Super- and Not-So-Superheroes: A Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:


  • 10 Stupid Arguments About Superman That Don’t Make Sense


  • Antman Easter eggs


  • Infinity Stones

  • 10 Most Hated Retcon Changes In Marvel Comics


  • Was Terminator Genisys Really That Bad?

Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger are back in the franchise together for the first time since Terminator 2 in 1991.  The chronology will be a sequel to Terminator 2 and the movie will be the first in a new trilogy.  Filming begins in March 18.James Cameron is producing, Tim Miller is directing, No one else has been cast.  There’s no synopsis, trailer, or poster yet, David Goyer and Josh Friedman are among the writers.


Amazon decided to take on the quirky superhero spoof The Tick in 2016 despite the fact that the last live-action version of the comic was cancelled before it could complete a single season. But that risk seems to be paying off because Amazon has now greenlit a second season of the show even though the first season isn’t yet finished.


  • When Doctor Who Completely Jumped The Shark

So, is everyone dead then?

Steven Moffat is famous for not quite killing characters off. In River Song’s first story, for example, she dies in reality but has an afterlife when her conscience is downloaded into a library computer (which, based on my experience working in a library, would still be running on Windows XP). Amy and Rory were horribly killed by living a normal human lifespan. In the Capaldi era, Clara dies but is then brought back by the Doctor and given a theoretically infinite fanfic shipping situation. Bill Potts is turned into a Cyberman, but retains her personality and the Doctor believes she will not survive the events of The Doctor Falls. Nardole, too, is presumed to live life on the run but it’s hard to know if he can die (what with being decapitated in his first appearance).

Laura Resnick: Genres Unlimited

Laura Resnick

By Carl Slaughter: Laura Resnick broke into writing through the romance genre, switched to sci-fi short fiction, did an urban fantasy trilogy, and then a series of comedy-horror-detective novels.  The first 7 in the series were recently produced as high quality full cast audio.  Now Resnick is offering a humorous take on Lovecraft in Alex Schvartsman’s latest humor anthology.

CARL SLAUGHTER: What was the appeal of writing Lovecraft type horror?

LAURA RESNICK: Well, we didn’t write horror in the recently released anthology, The Cackle of Cthulhu (ed. Alex Shvartsman) from Baen Books, we wrote humor.

Lovecraft’s fiction seems to be going through another period of revival, where people discover or rediscover it. Cthulhu is a Lovecraft creation which, in addition to being popular with fans, has entered mainstream consciousness (ex. “Cthulhu for President” as an internet meme in 2016). Even people who’ve never heard of Lovecraft, or who’ve heard of him but have never read his work, are aware of Cthulhu these days. Also, Lovecraft’s prose style is tempting to satirize. So when Alex Shvartsman came up with the idea for the anthology, Baen Books was immediately interested, since Cthulhu is commercial and a Lovecraft humor anthology is unusual.

(The Baen Free Radio Hour on January 26 did a podcast interview with some of the contributors — Alex, me, Esther Friesner, Jody Lynn Nye, and Gini Koch.)

Part of the appeal for me was also that it was a good reason to read some Lovecraft, which I had never gotten around to doing. When Alex invited me into The Cackle of Cthulhu, I was completely unfamiliar with Lovecraft’s work (apart from the Cthulhu memes)—a fact I did not share with Alex until we did a podcast interview to promote the anthology’s release!

CS: Describe the research you did into Lovecraft and what did you discover along the way?

LAURA RESNICK: I normally turn down any invitation to write a story inspired by works that I don’t know (ex. a series of novels I haven’t read, or a TV series I haven’t watched, etc.), since I can’t spare the time to dive into that much material for a random short story. But one thing I did know about Lovecraft was that he focused on short fiction, so I could get a good feel for his writing and themes, and particularly for the “Cthulhu mythos,” in just a couple of evenings.

So I read The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness, The Dunwich Horror, and a few others. The story I liked best happens to have nothing to do with Cthulhu; in “Imprisoned With the Pharaohs,” the great Harry Houdini gets abducted while visiting Egypt and has to escape from mysterious ancient underground caverns where Strange Things Happen.

I found Lovecraft’s stories very imaginative and colorful and pretty creepy. It’s easy to see why his work influenced people. The language is rich and interesting, but it’s also melodramatic; as someone else said, it often seems like a thesaurus vomited on the page. His writing also evinces fastidiousness (or sometimes revulsion) about anyone who isn’t a white Anglo-Saxon protestant.

CS: Describe studying and writing about Cthulhu.

LAURA RESNICK: Well, the assignment was to write a funny Lovecraftian story, and reading the stories had got me thinking in pulp fiction mode. I am a fan of noir crime story motifs and hard-boiled detective tropes (or, okay, clichés). So I reimagined Cthulhu as a traditional private eye, writhing tentacles and all. In my story, “Cthulhu, P.I.,” the cruise ship industry has discovered R’lyeh and corporate culture has taken over. Cthulhu, who got terrible legal advice, signed such a bad contract with a marketing company that he can’t be seen anywhere near R’lyeh without violating the licensing rights for his own image. So he has relocated to Innsmouth and reinvented himself as a private detective. The story begins when a long-legged blonde walks in the door, needing his help to deal with a blackmailer, but things aren’t quite what they seem… Also, there are some Airplane-style jokes.

CS: You’ve conquered several genres.  How do you go from inexperienced to master in such a short time?

LAURA RESNICK: I would say I’ve “worked in” several genres, not “conquered” them. And there hasn’t been anything “short” about the time!

I broke into the business very young, writing “category” or “series” romance novels for Silhouette Books, a division of Harlequin. Back then, Silhouette was a good place to start a writing career. My editors there worked closely with me and taught me a lot, and Silhouette in those days was buying books as fast as their authors could write them. You learn by doing, and I learned a lot by delivering a dozen books in 5 years (as well as by writing a lot of proposals during those years that got rejected).

A few years into my career, I also started writing sf/f short fiction, and that was a case of learn-by-doing, too. I wrote stories for about half a dozen anthologies per year back then (when the late great anthology packager Martin H. Greenberg was at his peak), and even though some of my early efforts weren’t that good, you’re bound to get better if you’re delivering a short story every couple of months for 3-4 years.

When I started writing book-length sf/f, I wrote a number of book proposals I couldn’t sell, before I finally came up with a viable project (on my third or fourth complete overhaul of the idea). And then after I sold it, it took me about a year to write the first book, In Legend Born, in that trilogy (and longer to write the next two books).

It also took, overall, more than ten years to get my urban fantasy series, the Esther Diamond novels, from proposal to publication. These days, I’m contracted through the 10th Esther Diamond novel, so it has worked out well; but it was a long road to get here—a road that was cluttered with agents who told me the project wasn’t marketable and wouldn’t sell (which is just one example, among many, of why I stopped working with literary agents).

At any rate, anyone who writes as much as I’ve been writing ever since the early days of my career has very little excuse not to keep improving at it.

CS: Any other genres in your future?

LAURA RESNICK: I have learned to avoid predictions, since nothing ever goes the way I expect! That said, I really enjoy mysteries and romantic suspense, so I can certainly see myself trying something in that vein eventually.

CS: Your Esther Diamond series is part horror, part fantasy, part detective, part romance.  How do you juggle all those genres in one story?

LAURA RESNICK: Artist Dan Dos Santos, who does the extraordinary covers for the Esther Diamond books, once said to me that the challenge of creating those images is coming up with the right balance of menace, comedy, and sexiness that characterize the novels.

And the word he chose—balance—is also what I strive for when writing the books, what I have to get right to make the stories work. The books are comedy, and whenever working on the humor aspect, the stakes still need to be compelling. I keep my eye on that ball, so that the comedy doesn’t descend into aimless schtick. Similarly, when following the plot-driven aspects of the story (usually the “detective” part), I need to make sure I don’t neglect the humor. The balance I look for in Esther’s chaotic love life is that she’s not just “hot” for her love interest, her heart is at stake. And when working on the horror/fantasy aspect of the stories, I remember that whatever scary stuff I write has to be able to balance with the comedy aspects of the books. So, for example, murder in an Esther Diamond novel often happens offstage, and it typically happens to characters we never meet, barely see, or really dislike; and it does not happen in these books to children or to characters we love.

CS: Give us the inside story on full cast audio.

LAURA RESNICK: The first seven Esther Diamond novels (which is how many have been published so far) were all adapted last year by Graphic Audio, which company describes its format as “a movie in your mind.”

These are full-cast audio recordings, including sound effects and music. They’re halfway between a traditional audiobook and a radio play. Each character is played by a different actor (and the casting maintains continuity, using the same actors from book to book for the continuing characters in the series). The novel is the basis of the script, but Graphic Audio adapts it to the format. So, for example, instead of the narrator reading, “he whispered” or “she sounded angry,” you hear the actor or actress playing that character whispering the dialogue or sounding angry when speaking. Instead of the narration telling you someone laughed, you hear the laughter. If a scene takes place on the city streets, you hear traffic and footsteps; if there’s action, you hear it happening.

Actress Colleen Delany plays Esther Diamond, who is the protagonist and the first-person narrator of the novels. Delany also directs the productions. I think she’s done a terrific job, and I’ve been delighted with these recordings. They really capture the tone and feel of the stories, and the voices are well cast. There are even some actors whose interpretations I like so much, it’s influenced me to put those characters in upcoming books, in hopes of hearing those actors play them again in the Graphic Audio adaptations.

Here’s a quick 3-minute sample that gives you a taste of the series and what Graphic Audio is doing with it. Enjoy!

Pixel Scroll 1/30/18 The Man Who Mooned The Scroll

(1) ANTIQUARIANS ARISE. Posters for three upcoming book fairs across the U.S.

(2) A WRITER’S LIFE. Kameron Hurley opens her books in “Writing Income: What I Made in 2017”.

A couple of observations:

Patreon Saves the Day (But Don’t Count On It)

Patreon has been a godsend this last year, as I’ve been producing a short story every month, instead of every other month or so as I did last year. That said, the shitstorm at Patreon at the end of last year when they were going to up their fees by 40% for folks at the $1 tiers saw me bleeding fans from the platform. That experience reminded me again that this income – though provided by a large pool of 750+ fans, is still reliant on a third party system that could implode and fuck everything at any time….

(3) SHARKE CALLING. Now online, a self-introduction by a 2018 Shadow Clarke juror — “Introducing Alasdair Stuart”.

What I hope for is this: that my time on the Shadow Clarkes will allow me to get better at walking that line between undiscerning joy and the relentless caution of analysis. That I’ll be able to communicate the joy of a trick well executed, and the astonishment of a trick never before seen. To explore the idea that there is joy in skill as well as show, and that when that joy is absent we can learn at least as much as when it’s present.

Stuart’s name will be familiar to Filers for his podcasting empire, described in an interview he gave to Carl Slaughter.

(4) TENNANT TENTHS AGAIN. Comicbook reports “‘Doctor Who’: The Tenth Doctor and Jenny Return in New Video”:

David Tennant’s time on Doctor Who may have ended over eight years ago, but his Tenth Doctor will always live on in the hearts of fans and, it seems, in clever video messages for friends.

Tennant recreated his role as the Tenth Doctor alongside his wife, Georgia Tennant, who appeared as The Doctor’s daughter in the appropriately titled episode “The Doctor’s Daughter,” for a short video to wish his friend, Doctor Who script editor Gary Russell, farewell upon Russell’s move to Australia back in 2013. You can check out the video embedded below

(5) DOCTOR PHONE HOME. Also in the news, David Tennant accepted a settlement in his suit against the now defunct News of the World over a phone hacking claim.

News Group Newspapers (NGN) settled Mr Tennant’s High Court claim and issued an apology.

Tennant’s lawyer said he was “outraged and shocked” by the invasion of privacy.

NGN made no admission of liability to claims relating to The Sun.

Tennant was among six people to settle claims with NGN on Tuesday.

The other claimants were Olympic medallist Colin Jackson, actress Sophia Myles, party planner Fran Cutler, fashion designer Jess Morris and footballer David James’s ex-wife, Tanya Frayne.

Tennant first launched his lawsuit in March 2017, after the parent company of the News of the World closed its compensation scheme in 2013.

(6) ARMIES TO COME. Marina Berlin, in “Five Ways To Build A More Believable Futuristic Military” at The Book Smugglers, subverts the axiom that sf is never about the future by asking what MilSF would look like if it was about the future like it pretends to be.

The military of Battlestar Galactica is supposedly egalitarian, with all types of soldiers filling all types of roles, and without divisions in bathing and sleeping areas. And yet, the women who have children on the show are never shown to have a systemic, military framework to fall back on when it comes to parental leave or childcare. It’s not that Sharon or Cally would be able to rely on the same system the military had in place before everything exploded, of course, but some traces of that system, some expectations, some details, had to have remained. Just like there are echoes of every other part of a particular military system on the show, even if parts of it have disappeared. Instead, for both women, it seems like they are the first soldiers in history to give birth, and the solutions they have to find for childcare, for being soldiers and mothers simultaneously, are personal and anecdotal.

Examples of stories that show a military like this, where everyone serves together and sleeps together and bathes together and yet pregnancy is not addressed one way or the other are endless in military science fiction. From old classics like Ender’s Game (where the kids in Battle School with Ender were in their mid to late teens by the end of the first book) to newly released books, like Yoon Ha Lee’s excellent Ninefox Gambit.

(7) SFWA STATS. Cat Rambo delivers the digits:

(8) CREDENTIALS AND OTHERS. SyFy Wire’s Ana Marie Cox, in “Space the Nation: The most important pets of fantasy and sci-fi”, does a roundup of famous genre pets.

Salem, Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Technically, Salem is not a cat, but a 500-year-old witch sentenced to live as a cat as punishment for attempting to take over the world. Cat people might argue that becoming a house cat only furthered Salem’s ambitions rather than stymieing it.

(9) WINDING UP 2016. Rocket Stack Rank concludes a multi-part series on the best short SFF of 2016 with a look at their different sources of recommendations: “guides” like reviewers, “best-of” anthologists, and awards finalists — “2016 Best SF/F Short Fiction Guides”.

Greg Hullender notes:

The biggest takeaway (which we saw in earlier installments) is that although some judgment is subjective, there does seem to be a strong underlying idea of excellence that runs across almost all the guides and which is consistent with the idea that the awards are, in general, recognizing stories that are among the very best. Awards are better guides than best-of anthologies, but the anthologies are better guides than any reviewer, and the reviewers are much better guides than just picking stories at random.

(10) MORE LE GUIN MEMORIES. Michael Dirda tells readers of The Weekly Standard  “Why Ursula Le Guin Matters”.

…I suspect that Le Guin, who herself majored in French at Radcliffe, must early on have taken to heart Flaubert’s dictum: “Be regular and ordinary in your life like a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your work.” For there is no question about it: This humorous, outspoken woman, who once told a feminist conference that she actually enjoyed housework, was one of the essential writers of our time. As I sit at this keyboard, the whole world, especially the science-fiction world, is mourning her passing—and a certain committee in Sweden is, I hope, kicking itself for having neglected to award her the Nobel Prize for literature.



  • Born January 30, 1941 – Gregory Benford

(13) HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREG! Gregory Benford’s birthday is celebrated by Steven H Silver at Black Gate in “Birthday Reviews: Gregory Benford’s ‘Down the River Road’”:

Gregory Benford was born on January 30, 1941. He helped start the first science fiction convention in Germany, WetzCon, in 1956 and the first convention in Texas, Southwestern Con, in 1958. He received the Nebula Award for Best Novelette in 1975 for his collaboration with Gordon Eklund, “If the Stars Are Gods.” His novel Timescape received the Nebula Award for Best Novel, the John W. Campbell Memorial, Jr. Award, the Ditmar Award, and the British SF Association Award. It also loaned its name to a publishing imprint. Benford received a Phoenix Award from the Southern Fandom Confederation in 2004 and a Forry Award from LASFS in 2016. Benford was the Guest of Honor at Aussiecon Three, the 1999 Worldcon in Melbourne, Australia.

“Down the River Road” was included in After the King: Stories in Honor of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Martin H. Greenberg. Originally published in January 1992, the book and all the stories in it were translated into Dutch, Italian, and French. The story has not appeared outside of the original anthology.

(14) CHANGE AT NYT BOOK REVIEW. N.K. Jemisin will leave the column and be replaced by another well-known sf author — “Amal El-Mohtar Named Otherworldly Columnist for The New York Times Book Review”.

Amal El-Mohtar has been named science fiction and fantasy columnist for The New York Times Book Review.  She replaces N.K. Jemisin who served as the Otherworldly columnist for two years. Read more in this note from the Pamela Paul, Greg Cowles and David Kelly.

After two stellar (and interstellar) years as the Book Review’s science fiction and fantasy columnist, N.K. Jemisin is leaving to devote more time to her numerous outside projects, including her own books and a guest editorship for the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy series. Since inaugurating the Otherworldly column in January 2016, Nora has gone on to win consecutive Hugo awards for best novel, and her book “The Fifth Season” (the start of her Broken Earth trilogy) is in development as a television series for TNT. We were delighted to have her.

… “I’m especially fascinated by books that don’t want to save the world so much as break or dislocate it further, in order to build something better in its wake,” she told us. “Fantasy and science fiction have long had at their heart the question of how to be good, and the 20th century’s shifting visions from monoliths of Good and Evil to the more complicated battle between individuals and systems has been a wild ride. I’m excited to see it develop further.”

[Hat tip to SF Site News, Locus Online, and Andrew Porter.]

(15) TERRA TALES. Charles Payseur is back with “Quick Sips – Terraform SF January 2018”:

The new year kicks off at Terraform with three excellent stories exploring futures that seems almost inevitable, that seems in many ways here already. The stories look at three very different things—immigration, employment, and nuclear destruction—but they all manage to tell emotionally resonating stories that share the feeling that most people are already accepting these futures as reality.

(16) RELATIONSHIPS SUCK. The Empties comic premieres on Valentine’s Day, 2018. Of course it does —

It’s a horror story centered around losing someone you love (or think you love). How scary is it to find out that person you love isn’t who you thought they were? (I’d say, pretty darn scary).

You can check out a preview of the book at Kristen Renee Gorlitz says, “If you like what you see, sign up to check out the premiere of The Empties comic book on Kickstarter this Valentine’s day!”

When a loving chef comes home to an unfaithful wife, he cooks up a revenge plan so twisted… so disturbed… it will leave you in pieces.


(17) FEAR AND LOATHING. There are several genre authors among the “13 Writers Who Grew to Hate Their Own Books” discussed at Literary Hub: J.G. Ballard, Stephen King, Kingsley Amis, Stanislaw Lem, and —

Octavia Butler, Survivor (1978)

Survivor was Butler’s third novel, and also the third in her first series, now called the Patternist series. Though the rest of the series was reprinted (some multiple times), Butler refused to allow Survivor to be included, and (rumor has it) she didn’t even like to talk about it at signings or appearances. In an interview, she said:

When I was young, a lot of people wrote about going to another world and finding either little green men or little brown men, and they were always less in some way. They were a little sly, or a little like “the natives” in a very bad, old movie. And I thought, “No way. Apart from all these human beings populating the galaxy, this is really offensive garbage.” People ask me why I don’t like Survivor, my third novel. And it’s because it feels a little bit like that. Some humans go up to another world, and immediately begin mating with the aliens and having children with them. I think of it as my Star Trek novel.

The novel is still out of print—used copies sell for about $175.

(18) COMMON KNOWLEDGE. The UK’s Mastermind show ‘banned’ Harry Potter and Fawlty Towers because too many would-be contestants want these categories and the show will use a category only once a season.

Hundreds of Mastermind applicants are being asked to change their specialist topics because too many people are choosing the same subject.

Mastermind received 262 applications to answer questions about the Harry Potter series last year.

It is the most popular topic, alongside Fawlty Towers, Blackadder and Father Ted.

But only one contestant can tackle a subject during each series.

(19) THINKING OUTSIDE THE ARK. An “‘Unsolvable’ exam question leaves Chinese students flummoxed”:

Primary school students at a school in the Chinese district of Shunqing were faced with this question on a paper: “If a ship had 26 sheep and 10 goats onboard, how old is the ship’s captain?”

The question appeared on a recent fifth-grade level paper, intended for children around 11 years old.

The answer in the last paragraph obviously comes from a fan….

The traditional Chinese method of education heavily emphasises on note-taking and repetition, known as rote learning, which critics say hinders creative thinking.

But the department said questions like the boat one “enable students to challenge boundaries and think out of the box”.

And of course, there’s always that one person that has all the answers.

“The total weight of 26 sheep and 10 goat is 7,700kg, based on the average weight of each animal,” said one Weibo commenter.

“In China, if you’re driving a ship that has more than 5,000kg of cargo you need to have possessed a boat license for five years. The minimum age for getting a boat’s license is 23, so he’s at least 28.”

(20) ALTERNATE ART. BBC’s “The Star Wars posters of Soviet Europe” shows lots of examples with bright space-filling colors, wild designs, and flashy features that aren’t in the movies.

(21) DON’T FORGET. There’s a “Super Blue Moon eclipse on January 31”.

The Blue Moon – second of two full moons in one calendar month – will pass through the Earth’s shadow on January 31, 2018, to give us a total lunar eclipse. Totality, when the moon will be entirely inside the Earth’s dark umbral shadow, will last a bit more than one-and-a-quarter hours. The January 31 full moon is also the third in a series of three straight full moon supermoons – that is, super-close full moons. It’s the first of two Blue Moons in 2018. So it’s not just a total lunar eclipse, or a Blue Moon, or a supermoon. It’s all three … a super Blue Moon total eclipse!…

IMPORTANT. If you live in North America or the Hawaiian Islands, this lunar eclipse will be visible in your sky before sunrise on January 31.

(22) INTERSTELLAR. The Dave Cullen Show on YouTube does a segment about a movie they can’t forget: “Revisiting Interstellar”

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, Kristen Renee Gorlitz, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

A Collection of Contrary Opinions

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:


  • 10 people who hated working on Marvel movies

  • 10 actors who said no to Marvel


  • Cinema Sins takes on the most beloved science fiction movie of all time

  • Cinema Sins takes on Your Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman

  • Cinema Sins takes on a science fiction movie favored by critics


  • Michio Kaku on the alien mega structure

Zoo theory:  aliens may know we’re here, but not want to disturb us. From Newsweek, “Where Are All the Aliens? Zoo Theory Has Creepy Explanation for Why We Haven’t Made Contact Yet”

One popular theory to explain why aliens have not made open contact with humans is the “Zoo Theory.” John A. Ball, an MIT radio astronomer, proposed the theory in 1973, suggesting that aliens may purposely be avoiding contact with humans so they don’t interfere with our activity, similar to zookeepers at a zoo or nature preserve, Science Alert reported.

“ETI (extraterrestrial intelligence) may be discreetly and inconspicuously watching us but not dabbling,” Ball wrote in his paper on the subject.

According to this theory, we are too unevolved and uncivilized to be a threat or burden to alien life, but rather than interfere with our natural evolution, they monitor us from afar. Of course, they aren’t completely perfect in their effort to stay out of human affairs, which is why we have several thousand alleged sightings each year.

Alternate and Non-canonical Star Trek Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: (1) Deadline reports “Quinton Tarantino’s Star Trek will be R rated”:

After Deadline this week revealed that Quentin Tarantino pitched a Star Trek film to JJ Abrams and Paramount, the whole thing is moving at warp speed. Tarantino met for hours in a writers room with Mark L. Smith, Lindsey Beer, Drew Pearce and Megan Amram. They kicked around ideas and one of them will get the job. I’m hearing the frontrunner is Smith, who wrote The Revenant. The film will most certainly go where no Star Trek has gone before: Tarantino has required it to be R rated, and Paramount and Abrams agreed to that condition. Most mega budget tent poles restrict the film to a PG-13 rating in an effort to maximize the audience. That was the reason that Guillermo Del Toro’s $150 million At The Mountains of Madness didn’t go forward at Universal, even though Tom Cruise was ready to star. The exception to this rule was Fox’s Deadpool, but that film started out with modest ambitions before it caught on and became the biggest R rated film ever.

(2) Most lethal Star Trek captains

(3) ScreenRant tells about “17 Canceled Star Trek TV Shows And Movies We Never Got To See”:

(4) Dodged the bullet: ScreenRant tells “15 Ways Star Next Generation Was Almost Completely Different”.

  1. Gene Roddenberry Super Did Not Want Captain Picard Or Patrick Stewart

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry did not like Patrick Stewart. Actually, that’s putting things pretty lightly. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry hated Patrick Stewart.

He didn’t want Stewart to play Captain Picard, he didn’t even want him to audition for the part. The creator famously described Stewart as both “too old and too bald” to play the iconic captain.

Roddenberry pushed heavily for Yaphet Kotto to play the ship’s captain. While we can’t imagine The Next Generation without Stewart’s devilish smile and never-ending sense of fun, but it’s hard to actually argue with Roddenberry on this one.

Had Kotto been cast in the role, he would have given the Star Trek franchise their first black captain decades earlier. There’s just nothing wrong with that.

(5) Trek online game: “Bridge Crew drops its VR headset requirement”

There’s no question that Star Trek: Bridge Crew benefits from VR — it helps fulfill that fantasy of helming a starship. Most people don’t have the VR headset you need to play the game, however, which makes gathering a crew rather difficult. Red Storm and Ubisoft’s solution? Make the game playable for everyone. It just released a “non-VR” update that makes the game playable for anyone with a PS4 or sufficiently capable PC. You can play with others whether or not they have headsets, and there are even graphical enhancements for non-VR players to take advantage of the lighter processing requirements.

Happy 10th Birthday,
File 770 Blog

We’ve reached the second bookend of File 770’s 10/40 anniversary celebration.

As I said about the zine in the first post here on the File 770 blog

You never know how long a fanzine will be around. When the first pages rolled out of the mimeograph in January 1978, I decided it was premature to order personalized [File 770] license plates. But by now, the zine has outlasted 5 cars.

And just as surprisingly, the blog itself has reached the age of 10 today.

It might still be one of fandom’s best-kept secrets if not for John King Tarpinian’s January 2015 article “Viewing the Remains of Bradbury’s Home” and his photographs of the Bradbury home teardown that touched the hearts of all the fans who still hadn’t finished mourning Ray. John’s post became File 770’s most viewed up to that time (and is still in second place, behind “Sunday Business Meeting at Sasquan.”) It made more readers familiar with File 770 as a news source, preparing the way for the rapid audience expansion that happened when I started daily roundups of Sad/Rabid Puppy news.

I actually did those for only three months (and the titles people came up with launched another tradition). But the commenter community that grew out of them inspired me to invent the daily Pixel Scrolls, fan news and pop culture roundups, so we continue to have issues to discuss and ideas to play with.

Of the dozens of frequent contributors I owe thanks to, I especially want to remember John Hertz, who spans so many times and cultures in his writing; JJ, for vast review projects; Chris Barkley, a passionate fannish advocate; and Carl Slaughter, whose interviews help steer this blog toward its polestar interest in sff.

I’ll also never forget the late James H. Burns, who specialized in reminding us that fandom is fun. Usually his posts here were inspired by memories of “growing up fannish,” such as the very popular Once, When We Were All Scientists, and CLANKY!. But Jim was especially proud of a trio of posts that paid tribute to the influence of his father — My Father, And The Brontosaurus, Sons of a Mesozoic Age, and World War II, and a Lexicon in Time.

Thanks to all of you who contribute a review, a filk, a cat photo, or in some other way use your creative abilities to energize the conversation at File 770.

Lastly, thanks to Camestros Felapton for creating this birthday video —

Marvel and DC Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:


(1) Dark Phoenix  –  first photo — “X-Men: Dark Phoenix heats up EW’s First Look Issue”.

This Phoenix has risen… again. On Nov. 2, 2018, Dark Phoenix will arrive in theaters and finally deliver the storyline X-Men fans have wanted for years. Simon Kinberg previously attempted to tell the iconic Jean Grey tale — about the telepath’s battle with demons in her own mind — with his screenplay for 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, but studio pressure squeezed her story into a reductive subplot. Kinberg, making his directorial debut, felt in his gut that this was the story that he needed to tell once Bryan Singer, who directed the previous two sequels, stepped aside. “[The film] was so clear in my head, emotionally and visually, that it would have killed me to hand this to somebody else to direct,” Kinberg says

(2) ScreenRant “15 Things Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Wants You To Forget About”.

As Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs its fifth season, there are certainly some loose hanging threads left behind by previous seasons. But some of those loose ends go all the way back to season one, which means that those are probably plots and characters the series just wishes fans would forget.

However, fans are notoriously good at remembering many smaller details of their favorite shows. That means we still have a lot of questions about what happened to those hanging plot threads that sort of got tossed to the wayside. It’s bad enough that two characters, Bobbi and Lance got forced to leave the show for Marvel’s Most Wanted, a series that never made it to air. But it’s also even worst that never really said goodbye to Agent Grant Ward after he became a good guy in the Framework. And it’s just sad that Ian Quinn is still out there somewhere doing bad Hydra things. Also, there were a lot of Daisy LMDs running around: surely they’re still out there somewhere ready to create chaos?

Perhaps some of these questions will get answered in season five. But most of these will probably keep hanging in the ether as questions that will never get answered.

(3) CinemaBlend reports another round with Peggy Carter — “Check Out Hayley Atwell’s Return As Peggy Carter For Marvel’s Avengers: Secret Wars”.

Ever since Agent Carter left the air, fans of both the character and actress Hayley Atwell have been hoping Marvel would bring Peggy Carter back into the action on a more consistent basis. While the world continues to speculate on whether or not the actress will appear in Avengers: Infinity War, Atwell fans can definitely witness her return as Peggy in animated form on a new episode of Marvel’s Avengers: Secret Wars.

(4) WhatCulture: Predicting the fate of every Avenger in Infinity War

(5) ScreenRant says Marvel has the rights to 7000 characters:

Marvel Studios may not own the film rights to the X-Men or Fantastic Four, but they have thousands of other characters that could one day come to theaters. The story of Marvel Studios’ film and TV rights is a long and complex one, but the comics giant has been slowly regaining them over the years. By now, most of Marvel’s heroes and villains are under their roof save Fox’s ownership of various X-Men and Fantastic Four characters. There’s also Sony’s Spider-Man pantheon, though that’s become a bit of a gray area due to recent events.

Despite some major characters not being able to show up in the MCU, Marvel Studios has done a masterful job of elevating a roster of heroes and villains to household names. And given their working relationship with both Sony and Fox, a uniting of the entire Marvel Universe doesn’t seem unlikely. In the meantime, however, Marvel are gearing up for a team-up film like no other in Avengers: Infinity War. It’s sequel, Avengers 4, will then wrap up the current iteration of the MCU—and kick off a new era of films.

(6) “35 Avengers Characters Unite For Vanity Fair Infinity War Cover”Click through to see.


(1) WhatCulture: 5 ways Justice League ruined its best characters

(2) Grunge: Why DC changed the way its characters look

(3) Cosmonaut  Variety Hour tells the problem with DC superheroes

(4) ScreenRant says The DC Movie Universe is Worse Without Zack Snyder

For those who felt that Zack Snyder was always the problem, not simply for his tone, but his entire method of storytelling, Justice League seemed the perfect chance to prove it. Considering the reactions to Justice League‘s ‘Frankenstein-ed’ identity (and some woeful CG mishaps), the problem was never that simple. And for the fans demanding Snyder’s version of Justice League be released, the movie that was supposed to jumpstart DC using Snyder’s successes has crushed it into the dust.

(5) ScreenRant opines about 8 Villains The Arrowverse Failed At Adapting (And 7 They Nailed)

The Arrowverse, which began with Arrow almost 6 years ago and has grown with The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and most recently Supergirl, has already seen a number of very successful crossovers and though its cast of characters is immense, it actually follows through on the promise of individual programs’ events having consequences throughout the universe.

Having said that, some of the villains they’ve attempted to adapt from the comics have been less than stellar. While it’s understandable that over multiple series some villainous interpretations are bound to fall short, there have been surprise successes as well

(6) ScreenRant says Arrow needs more female characters:.

Supergirlwhich has always been the most female-centric of the CW’s universe, continues to put its female characters front and center. Beyond the superheros and villains, though, Supergirl has also been focusing on female friendships this season. Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Lena (Katie McGrath) continue to develop their relationship, while also bringing newcomer Samantha (Odette Annable) into the fold. Along with Kara’s sister Alex (Chyler Leigh), they form a group that supports each other in a wonderful way. Legends of Tomorrow continues to add new female heroes to the team with Zari (Tala Ashe) bonding (slowly) with Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) while Sara (Caity Lotz) heads up the team as Captain. And The Flash pulled out all the stops in recent weeks to address the friendship between Iris (Candice Patton) and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker). Finally, Joe’s (Jesse L Martin) new fiancee Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) and Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) girlfriend Gypsy (Jessica Camacho) round out the women of Team Flash.

But where the rest of the Arrowverse is killing it, the one that spawned it all seems to be falling down. Arrow has fewer female main characters than ever, and no female friendships appear this season. What’s gone wrong with the women of Arrow, and how can they get back on track?