(1) PLAYING IT STRAIGHT? Rowling’s retrospective characterization of Dumbledore will not be in evidence in the next Fantastic Beasts movie — “‘Fantastic Beasts’ Sequel Will Avoid Dumbledore’s Gay Sexuality, Director David Yates Confirms”.
Any “Fantastic Beasts” fans hoping the “Harry Potter” universe would finally be ready to explore Dumbledore’s sexuality in the upcoming “The Crimes of Grindelwald” will surely be disappointed, as director David Yates has confirmed that J.K. Rowling’s screenplay mostly avoids the topic. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Yates said the movie does not explicitly include any reference to Dumbledore being gay, despite the fact that Rowling has spoken in the past about the wizard’s sexuality and his romance with the titular Grindelwald.
“Not explicitly,” Yates said when asked if the film makes it clear that Dumbledore is gay. “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”
(2) RIDGE RUNNER. From Yahoo! — “Curiosity’s sweeping Mars panorama shows how far it’s come”.
NASA annotated Curiosity’s entire trip showing how it went from its initial landing site to Yellowknife Bay, then on to Darwin, Cooperstown and the Kimberly. From there, it hit Namid Dune, ducked and weaved through Murray Buttes, checked out Ireson Hill, crossed the Bagnold Dunes and landed at Vera Rubin Ridge. The image background shows mountains that form Gale Crater’s ridge, and the foreground lower portions of Mount Sharp, which sits in the middle of the 96-mile wide crater.
The rover had used its nuclear-powered motor to climb 1,073 feet when it took the shot on the northwestern ridge of lower Mount Sharp.
(3) IN AN INTERNET FAR, FAR AWAY. Scott Lynch adds realism to Star Wars.
(4) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Cassandra Khaw and Peternelle van Arsdale on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street — just off 2nd Ave, upstairs – New York.)
Cassandra Khaw is the author of the Persons Non Grata series, the Rupert Wong books, and spends a lot of time worrying about those who buy her backlist because they enjoyed Bearly a Lady, her frothy paranormal rom-com. She writes video games for a living, and won an award for doing so. Her short fiction can be found in places like Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and more.
Peternelle van Arsdale
Peternelle van Arsdale is the author of the young adult novel, The Beast Is an Animal, a dark fairy tale, it’s been described as “a swift and compelling read” and “a psychologically intense fantasy” and is being developed by Amazon Studios for a feature film produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free. Her essays have been published by LitHub, Hypable.com, and Culturefly. She’s currently at work on her second novel, also a dark fairy tale, which will be published in March 2019. A former executive editor in the book industry, she is now an independent editorial consultant.
(5) SABRINA RETURNING. Another comic-based series is getting rebooted: “Sabrina the Teenage Witch Netflix release date, cast, trailer: When will the show air?”
Netflix confirmed in September of last year that a remake of the classic 90s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch was in the works.
The streaming company has now confirmed the title of the forthcoming show will be Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre Sacasa, who is also leading the Sabrina reboot, posted on Twitter: “Gotta catch up to #Riverdale… A long way to go, but the PATH OF NIGHT begins here…”
His words now confirm the name of the first episode of the new TV show, which is based on the Archie Comics series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
The story of half-witch half-mortal Sabrina Spellman (played by Melissa Joan Hart in the sitcom) is originally from the Archie Comics, like the Netflix original show Riverdale.
The popularity of Riverdale prompted Netflix bosses to consider creating another show from the Archie Comics and so this dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft exclusive to the streaming site was born.
The new version of the fondly remembered character will be played by Mad Men actress Kiernan Shipka.
…Netflix has not yet announced a release date. Filming is set to begin in February and wrap up in October, meaning that we could be looking at a release date some time in 2019.
(6) SWEDISH BNF HOSPITALIZED. SF Journalen reports 2005 Worldcon fan GoH Lars Olov Strandberg suffered a stroke:
Sverifandom’s Grand Old Man, Lars-Olov Strandberg, HOSPITALISED AFTER STROKE. Lars-Olov, now 89 years, was fan GoH of the 2005 Worldcon. A pillar of Swedish fandom since mid-1950’s. Sadly, reports are bad: he’s half-paralysed, can’t communicate.
See Strandberg’s online photo archive at Fanac.org.
Lars-Olov Strandberg was born in 1929 and became active in fandom in 1956, when he attended the first Swedish convention, the Luncon. Lars-Olov was one of the founders of the Scandinavian SF Association (SFSF), and served on the organization’s board of directors for decades afterward. He also served as chairman of the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Foundation after it came into being in the late 1970s.
A very active convention fan, Lars-Olov served as treasurer for most Stockholm conventions, starting with the 1965 Stockon, and continuing throughout the decades of the 1970s and 1980s. He became known internationally from his travels to Worldcons, British Eastercons, and continental European SF conventions. This was facilitated by his profession, as head of life insurance investment training with Sweden’s largest insurance corporation.
According to John-Henri Holmberg, Strandberg was “Sweden’s combination of E. E. Evans, Howard DeVore, and Forry Ackerman: a soft-spoken, self-effacing man whose devotion without any doubt guaranteed the survival of the SFSF.”
(7) RICK RIORDAN PRESENTS. The cover of Yoon Ha Lee’s upcoming middle-grade book has been revealed.
(8) BALLARD CONSIDERED. John Dodds previews what you’ll learn from a study of an opaque SFF author — “Book Review: J. G. Ballard (Modern Masters of Science Fiction) by D. Harlan Wilson” at Amazing Stories.
The popular idea is that “Empire of the Sun” (the Spielberg film that brought Ballard’s work to a wider audience) is an autobiography is false. It is, as Wilson explains, a fictionalised autobiography. And neither are the Ballardian protagonists in some of the novels purely autobiographical. They serve a purpose in the complex machinery of the author’s unique, mainly strange, often deeply obscure and incomprehensible books.
I found the section about his most experimental novel, “The Atrocity Exhibition”, both fascinating and reassuring. Reassuring, in that I felt I did not understand the novel at all when I read in in my early 20s and because Wilson affirms that it more or less defies explanation, though he is very clear about the themes therein. I still remember being completely hooked by the cut-up technique (also beloved of William Burroughs, though Ballard’s approach is very different). I came away from that chapter in this book feeling that it was okay not to understand completely, but also enriched by the author’s commentary on its themes, ideas and exposition.
(9) HINDS OBIT. Author Kathryn Hinds died on January 30:
Kathryn Hinds is a prolific author whose short stories and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. Her most recent works are The Healer’s Choice, a feminist fantasy novel published by Dark Oak Press, and The Forty, a collaboration with photographer Fox Gradin and author James Palmer that re-envisions the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Kathryn’s first poetry collection, Candle, Thread, and Flute, came out from Luna Station Press in 2013. That year also saw the release of her six-book series Creatures of Fantasy (Cavendish Square), which brought her total number of nonfiction books for children and young adults to fifty. Her current works in progress include a sequel to The Healer’s Choice along with a novel in verse and a collection of steampunk short stories. Kathryn did graduate work in comparative literature and medieval studies at the City University of New York and is now a lecturer in the English Department of the University of North Georgia. She has lived in Dahlonega, Georgia, since 1995.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- January 31, 1971 — Apollo 14 departs for the moon.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- John King Tarpinian enjoyed the horrible literary pun in Brevity.
(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Newsweek says get ready — “Earth’s Magnetic Poles Show Signs They’re About to Flip—Exposing Humans to Radiation and Planet-Wide Blackouts”.
Historically, Earth’s North and South magnetic poles have flipped every 200,000 or 300,000 years—except right now, they haven’t flipped successfully for about 780,000 years. But the planet’s magnetic field is at long last showing signs of shifting. Although there’s no way to know yet for sure, it could be gearing up to flip once more, according to Undark Magazine. And that possibility is raising new speculation about what that means for planetary life.
Our planet’s magnetic field protects us from lethal levels of radiation from phenomena like solar rays. The dangerous particles never hit us directly, because upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere the magnetic field deflects them and forces them to move around, according to NASA. So the prospect of that field weakening, which it does when it’s getting ready to flip, is worrisome: It would leave us without sufficient protection.
(13) COLD FACTS. The Planetary Society’s monthly video – “Space Robots in Antarctica” – The Planetary Post with Robert Picardo.
While Picardo speaks to Astronauts and fans on a Star Trek cruise ship, one of our other board members, Dr. Britney Schmidt toughs it out at the South Pole to research how one day robots could work underwater on ice moons.
(14) OFF WITH HER HEAD. Here’s a freaky story —
Guests at Disney‘s California Adventure reported getting an unexpected scare when Ursula the sea witch’s head fell off — and she kept singing.
(15) SCREENWRITING. Withoutabox has opened the 4th annual ScreenCraft Sci-Fi and Fantasy Screenplay Contest. Full details at the link:
We’re thrilled to announce our 2018 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay Contest! Whether you’re writing a contained science fiction drama or an epic fantasy saga, we want to read your feature film script. The jury is out of this world — with judges who love sci-fi movies — from top companies including 20th Century Fox, Sony and Lionsgate! Don’t miss the industry’s #1 sci-fi & fantasy feature screenplay contest.
…ScreenCraft runs a suite of screenwriting competitions that have a long history of getting writers repped and working. The secret is that ScreenCraft actually determines the winners with judges who work in the particular genre or space – real industry executives (not just readers). The winners get actual meetings with actual executives, so that a relationship forms beyond just a great script.
Hollywood’s #1 Sci-fi & Fantasy Screenplay Contest jury includes executives from Sony, 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate:
Development Executive at 20th Century Fox, the studio behind AVATAR, X-MEN, ANOTHER EARTH, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, PROMETHEUS, PREDATORS and more!
Executive Assistant at Sony Pictures, the studio behind PASSENGERS, GHOSTBUSTERS, MEN IN BLACK, RESIDENT EVIL and SPIDER-MAN.
Development Executive at Lionsgate, the studio behind TWILIGHT, HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT.
(16) IN THE MARKET. Unsung Stories is open for submissions from January 29 to February 26.
Speculative fiction. That means anything not mundane: fantasy; science fiction; horror; weird fiction; magical realism; etc. Complete novels of 40K + words to be considered for print publication.
We are also interested in exploring the potential of shorter fictions that challenge the definition of the traditional novel; sets of novellas or novelettes, interlinked short fictions and the like.
Full details at the link. This is the publisher of The Arrival of Missives, the novella by Aliya Whiteley.
(17) CALL FOR PAPERS. The organisers of the (Un)Ethical Futures conference, held in Melbourne last December, invite contributions for a special themed issue of Colloquy: Text, Theory, Critique and an edited essay collection, provisionally titled (Un)Ethical Futures: Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction. — “CfP: (Un)Ethical Futures: Utopia, Dystopia and Science Fiction”
Deadline for submissions: 30 April 2018.
We are interested in submissions that explore the ethical dimensions of utopia, dystopia and science fiction (sf). This focus on ethics allows for a range of topics, including environmental ethics and climate change, human bioethics, animal ethics, the ethical use of technology, ethics of alterity and otherness, as well as related issues of social justice. We welcome submissions that bring these ethical considerations into dialogue with speculative fiction across different genres and modes, from sf about the near or distant future, to alternative histories about better or worse presents, to stories about utopian or dystopian societies. Possible areas of engagement include, but are not limited to:
- Environmental ethics in speculative climate fiction (“cli-fi”)
- The treatment or representation of animals, artificial intelligence, aliens or other posthuman or non-human entities in utopia, dystopia and sf
- Utopian and dystopian dimensions of Indigenous literatures and traditions
- Postcolonial and critical race theory studies of utopia, dystopia and sf
- The ethics of alterity and ethical responses to otherness in speculative fiction
- Politics, activism, social justice and ethics in sf and its fan communities
- Bioethical issues in sf, including biopunk and cyberpunk subgenres
- Feminist and queer theory engagement with utopia, dystopia and sf
- Philosophy, ethics and the utopian impulse
Colloquy is an open access, peer-reviewed journal published by the Literary and Cultural Studies Graduate Research Program at Monash University. We publish scholarly work and creative writing from emerging and established researchers in literary and cultural studies, critical theory, continental philosophy, film and television studies, communications and media studies, and performance studies.
(18) CANNED ANYWAY. An investigation found that the “Worker Who Sent Hawaii False Alert Thought Missile Attack Was Imminent”:
A false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii was sent on Jan. 13 because an emergency worker believed there really was a missile threat, according to a preliminary investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.
The report finds that the false alert was not the result of a worker choosing the wrong alert by accident from a drop-down menu, but rather because the worker misunderstood a drill as a true emergency. The drill incorrectly included the language “This is not a drill.”
The top two civilian officials at Hawaii Emergency Management Agency announced their resignations Wednesday, Reuters reports, and the employee who issued the alert was fired. In addition, the agency’s military director told the wire service, a midlevel manager is being suspended.
(19) THE VERDICT. The BBC says “Black Panther reaction is in… and it’s good news”:
It’s not out until 13 February but reviewers got to see the film at its premiere on Monday night.
Here’s a taster of the reaction so far (and we’ll try to avoid any spoilers):
The LA Times’ Trevell Anderson described it as “a love letter about blackness”.
Freelance film writer Rebecca Theodore-Vachon said Black Panther “was everything I wanted and more”.
Fandango’s managing editor, Erik Davis, agreed.
(20) ALMOST BLACK PANTHER. Wesley Snipes started out as a dancer and fully intended to play Black Panther wearing nothing but a leotard. Maybe with some little cat ears on it. The project was never made: “Wesley Snipes Reveals Untold Story Behind His ‘Black Panther’ Film” in The Hollywood Reporter.
“I think Black Panther spoke to me because he was noble, and he was the antithesis of the stereotypes presented and portrayed about Africans, African history and the great kingdoms of Africa,” Snipes tells THR. “It had cultural significance, social significance. It was something that the black community and the white community hadn’t seen before.”
Created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Panther was revolutionary as the first African superhero in mainstream comics. The king and kick-butt protector of Wakanda had it all: brawn, brains, wealth and advanced technologies.
Snipes was hooked in an instant when he and his then manager, Doug Robertson, were approached by Marvel for the project. Feeling that Africa, save for the unique animal population, was too commonly shown in film as a depressing, desolate land, Snipes yearned to show its beauty and lush history.
…Recalling the costume idea leaves Snipes in hysterics.
“Actually, I figured it would be a leotard,” he says. “A leotard with maybe some little cat ears on it. I would have to be in shape and just be straight bodied up. I never imagined anything more than a leotard at the time, which I didn’t have a problem with because I started out as a dancer.”
(21) LEGOVERSARY. Lego celebrated its birthday is the most appropriate way —
Building toy giant Lego marked its 60th anniversary by constructing a 10-foot-tall version of a Lego brick from 133,000 smaller Lego bricks.
The company posted a time-lapse video to YouTube showing “Master Builders” at Lego’s U.S. headquarters in Enfield, Conn., using 133,000 Lego bricks to build a massive version of its classic “2×4” Lego brick.
The brick, which weighs 1,200 pounds, took about 350 hours to build, Lego said.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Nancy Sauer, Cat Eldridge, JJ, ULTRAGOTHA, Standback, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Brian Z., Carl Slaughter, Francis Hamit, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]