Solo: A Star Wars Story Official Teaser is the full-length teaser trailer, versus the shorter Super Bowl-aired teaser. Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters May 25.
Solo: A Star Wars Story Official Teaser is the full-length teaser trailer, versus the shorter Super Bowl-aired teaser. Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters May 25.
(1) POPULAR SF ART INSPIRES FILM, Simon Stålenhags’ art book is becoming a movie reports Swedish news source Boktugg. Thanks to Hampus Eckerman for the translation:
The right to film Simon Stålenhag’s latest art book The Electric State has been sold to Russo Brothers Studio. The sale was preceded by a bidding where several studios showed their interest.
Simon says that it feels very exciting.
– This has never been a goal, but I have loved movies since I was a kid, so it is a little bit of a dream actually. An unexpected dream!
The Passage (in English The Electric State) was released in December 2017 by the publisher Fria Ligan (The Free League). The release was preceded by a kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2017, which attracted over 3 million Swedish crowns. It is Simon Stålenhag’s third art book, his first two titles Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood have made him a world-famous visual storyteller.
Russo Brothers Studio is run by the brothers Joe and Anthony Russo who directed several Marvel films. The film director is expected to become Andy Muschietti (who made the new film based on Stephens Kings It).
What do you think about them winning the bidding?
– They felt very good in our conversations. But above all, I’m very happy to have Barbara and Andy Muschietti with me, I loved It and they are absolutely amazing people. We just had the same picture of what is important in the book, and in movies in general, says Simon.
Simon Stålenhag himself will be an executive producer for the film, which means that he will be involved in all important decisions, such as role crew, scriptwriting and selection of managerial positions.
Will the story work as it is in the movie format or does it need to be adapted?
– I suspect we will want to get a little more drama to fit the long-film format. With emphasis on “a little”, everyone in the team really agrees that the characters and the journey they make in the book is what we’re going to make a film about, says Simon Stålenhag.
(2) CHRISTMAS IN THE COLONIES. Cora Buhlert’s holiday fare includes a work in English: “Two new releases just in time for the holidays: Christmas on Iago Prime and Weihnachtsshopping mit gebrochenem Herzen”
Let’s start with the English language story. Back during the first July short story challenge in 2015, I wrote a little story called Valentine’s Day on Iago Prime, in which a couple attempts to celebrate Valentine’s Day at a new settled space colony.
I’d assumed that this was the first and last time I’d ever visit the colony of Iago Prime. However, I try to write a holiday story every year. And when I searched for ideas for a holiday story for this year, I suddenly thought “Why not write a science fictional holiday story about Christmas in a space station or interplanetary colony?” And then I thought, “Why not reuse the Iago Prime setting?”
The result is Christmas on Iago Prime. The protagonist this time around is Libby, a little girl whose scientist parents are due to spend a whole year on Iago Prime, including Christmas. Libby is not at all thrilled about this, at least at first. Kai and Maisie from Valentine’s Day on Iago Prime also appear and they have big news to share.
Available on Amazon and plenty of other ebook sellers for .99 USD/GBP/EUR.
(3) THE LONG RUN. A New York college made a video showing off its science fiction collection:
The City Tech Science Fiction Collection is held in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library (Atrium Building, A543C, New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201).
This large collection comes to City Tech from an anonymous donor. It includes nearly full runs of every professional science fiction magazine from 1950 to 2010, and an almost comprehensive collection of science fiction until 2010. There is also a significant amount of science fiction criticism, and selections of fringe texts, including horror and the supernatural.
(4) SFPA LEADERSHIP. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association announced the selection of two officers, F.J. Bergmann as Vice-President and Renee Ya as Secretary.
F.J. Bergmann (Madison, Wisconsin, USA) has been a member of SFPA since 2007, its webmaster since 2010 and recently stepped down from 5 years as Star*Line editor…
Renee Ya (Bay Area, California, USA) is a Hmong American writer, photographer, and space shamen who has been volunteering at SFPA for the last three years with varying capacity from keeper of the voting forms to periodic updates to the website.
(5) PARADIGM SHIFT. A revolutionary interpretation: “Physicists negate century-old assumption regarding neurons and brain activity”.
Neurons are the basic computational building blocks that compose our brain. Their number is approximately one Tera (trillion), similar to Tera-bits in midsize hard discs. According to the neuronal computational scheme, which has been used for over a century, each neuron functions as a centralized excitable element. The neuron accumulates its incoming electrical signals from connecting neurons through several terminals, and generates a short electrical pulse, known as a spike, when its threshold is reached.
Using new types of experiments on neuronal cultures, a group of scientists, led by Prof. Ido Kanter, of the Department of Physics at Bar-Ilan University, has demonstrated that this century-old assumption regarding brain activity is mistaken.
In an article published today in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers go against conventional wisdom to show that each neuron functions as a collection of excitable elements, where each excitable element is sensitive to the directionality of the origin of the input signal. Two weak inputs from different directions (e.g., “left” and “right”) will not sum up to generate a spike, while a strong input from “left” will generate a different spike waveform than that from the “right”.
“We reached this conclusion using a new experimental setup, but in principle these results could have been discovered using technology that has existed since the 1980s. The belief that has been rooted in the scientific world for 100 years resulted in this delay of several decades,” said Prof. Kanter and his team of researchers, including Shira Sardi, Roni Vardi, Anton Sheinin, and Amir Goldental.
(6) BACK FROM BOSTON. Marcin Klak’s conreport — “Smofcon 35 or what do you do when you are not organizing a con”.
Handling Feedback panel was not related to programming only, but the programme feedback is important for the development of the convention. There were some discussions concerning the methodology of collecting feedback, but one thing that got stuck with me the most was how to determine whether we should resign from inviting a panellist for the next year. It is obvious what to do when we receive negative feedback about the panellist’s skills. It is more complicated if we have a good panellist who is not behaving properly or who makes racist or homophobic comments during the panel. Nchanter’s solution of checking the negative feedback with co-panellists and finally basing our decision on the reaction of the person in question is a really good and fair approach. It makes sure that we verify the situation and it allows us to predict whether the same situation is likely to happen again in the future.
(7) HELL ON WHEELS. RedWombat saw a reference to “Jane Austen’s Fury Road” and started riffing….
Hmm, y’know, there’s really not enough post-apocalyptic Regency out there. Underserved market.
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) December 23, 2017
“Exceed their income?! Don’t you know that he has 2 gallons of water a day?!”
— David Hall (@doublefakedavid) December 23, 2017
No woman can be really esteemed accomplished have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, the modern languages, looting, off-roading, sharpshooting, axe murder, and vehicle maintenance.
— Gwen C. Katz Punches Every Nazi (@gwenckatz) December 23, 2017
(8) IT’S A WONDERFUL TRIVIA
Sheldon and Leonard of The Big Bang Theory were named after the actor/producer Sheldon Leonard. He played Nick the Bartender in the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. Also, producer of The Danny Thomas Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Spy.
The Muppets, Bert and Ernie, were also named after two characters from It’s a Wonderful Life. Bert the policeman and Ernie the cab driver.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) COMICS SECTION.
(11) FULL KIT WANKER. For the three of you who haven’t seen this yet –
MIND THE GAPpic.twitter.com/k7yUAYQJMS
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) December 22, 2017
(12) BY YNGVI. Kim Huett of Doctor Strangemind knows it’s the time of year to send up a traditional favorite: “‘Twas Night Before Christmas”.
…At one point Harold Shea and the Norse god Heimdall are imprisoned by Frost Giants after losing a fight with them. While there they encountered a fellow prisoner who comes to the front of his cell every hour on the hour to yell, “Yngvi is a LOUSE!”
Thus began a debate which fascinated science fiction fandom for decades. Was this Yngvi indeed a louse or had his good name been falsely besmirched? At the Denvention, the 1941 worldcon, Milton Rothman (who went on to become a nuclear physicist and science fiction author) put forward a motion at the business meeting to the effect that Yngvi was not a louse only for it to be defeated. A subsequent motion was then passed stating that Rothman himself was a louse….
…So I sat back in my chair to wait for my guest
To reveal himself fully and the why of his quest
It took a few moments of squirming and kicking
Before he appeared rather than sticking
It was Yngvi of course, I could tell by his dress
An amazingly scrofulous, glorious mess…
(13) FUNGUS AMONG US. “When this old world starts getting me down….”: “‘Remarkable’ truffle discovery on Paris rooftop raises hopes of more”.
There was celebration among French foodies after a wild truffle was discovered on a Paris rooftop.
The discovery, at the base of a hornbeam tree in a hotel roof garden near the Eiffel Tower, is thought to be a first for the city.
Truffles usually grow further south, in more Mediterranean climes, and are dug up by specially-trained pigs or dogs.
Prices for the aromatic fungi have recently doubled to more than 5,000 euros ($6,000) a kilo.
(14) LAST JEDI. Marc Scott Zicree (“Mr. Sci-Fi”) offers the opinion of a “Star Trek Writer on The Last Jedi.”
(15) THE MALL’S MY DESTINATION. I don’t doubt it. Mine could be up there somewhere.
They say each ornament has trapped within it the soul of a person who waited until the last minute to do their holiday shopping. pic.twitter.com/QQtd7TWMJo
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) December 23, 2017
(16) SAVING HUMANITY. If anything can … “H.G. Wells and Orwell on Whether Science Can Save Humanity”.
…Wells foresaw many of the landmarks of 20th-century scientific progress, including airplanes, space travel, and the atomic bomb. In “The Discovery of the Future,” he lamented “the blinding power of the past upon our minds,” and argued that educators should replace the classics with science, producing leaders who could foretell history as they predict the phases of the moon.
Wells’ enthusiasm for science had political implications. Having contemplated in his novels the self-destruction of mankind, Wells believed that humanity’s best hope lay in the creation of a single world government overseen by scientists and engineers. Human beings, he argued, need to set aside religion and nationalism and put their faith in the power of scientifically trained, rational experts….
…Orwell was not bashful about criticizing the scientific and political views of his friend Wells. In “What is Science?” he described Wells’ enthusiasm for scientific education as misplaced, in part because it rested on the assumption that the young should be taught more about radioactivity or the stars, rather than how to “think more exactly.”
(17) THE SHAPE OF BEER. From The Hollywood Reporter: “Guillermo del Toro on Seeing a UFO, Hearing Ghosts and Shaping ‘Water'”.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s taste for sci-fi and fantasy doesn’t come from nowhere. When he was younger, the acclaimed director recalls, “I saw a UFO.”
“I know this is horrible,” del Toro continues. “You sound like a complete lunatic, but I saw a UFO. I didn’t want to see a UFO. It was horribly designed. I was with a friend. We bought a six-pack. We didn’t consume it, and there was a place called Cerro del Cuatro, “Mountain of the Four,” on the periphery of Guadalajara. We said, ‘Let’s go to the highway.’ We sit down to watch the stars and have the beer and talk. We were the only guys by the freeway. And we saw a light on the horizon going super-fast, not linear. And I said, ‘Honk and flash the lights.’ And we started honking.”
The UFO, says del Toro, “Went from 1,000 meters away [to much closer] in less than a second — and it was so crappy. It was a flying saucer, so clichéd, with lights [blinking]. It’s so sad: I wish I could reveal they’re not what you think they are. They are what you think they are. And the fear we felt was so primal. I have never been that scared in my life. We jumped in the car, drove really fast. It was following us, and then I looked back and it was gone.”
(18) ALTERNATE SOLOS. Will Lerner, in “Harrison Who? Here’s The Actor Who Almost Played Han Solo” for Yahoo! Entertainment. profiles Glynn Turman, who came This Close to being Han Solo, which would have meant that Han Solo would have been played by an African-American actor.
Before Star Wars started filming in 1976, director George Lucas auditioned dozens of actors for the first episode of his space saga, since rechristened as A New Hope. Over the years we’ve learned that Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Kurt Russell all read for the part of Han Solo before the role went to Harrison Ford. But there was a lesser-known candidate who almost scored the gig: Glynn Turman.
Turman, 70, started his career on Broadway, when he was cast as a 13-year-old in the original production of A Raisin in the Sun alongside legends Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. Steadily picking up more and more screen roles through the ’70s, Turman finally got his chance to shine in 1975 as the lead of Cooley High. In the slice-of-life feature, Turman played a proxy of sorts for screenwriter and Good Times creator Eric Monte — a gifted young writer who aspires to a life beyond his housing project. Cooley High showcased Turman’s ability to play a scoundrel capable of great achievements. It’s no big surprise that performance captured the attention of Lucas.
(19) WALLY WOOD SANG? The comics artist seems to have branched out. It’s collectible, if not very listenable.
So, sometime before his death, Wally Wood (THE comics artist) had recorded a blues album with his wife, which was on tape and sold direct, and apparently reissued on CD in 20002, it limited to 100 copies. I can't find much much more info than that. https://t.co/fxrQ1W8yWh
— Jason Payne (@syrupneko) December 17, 2017
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]
(1) THE REASON FOR THE SEASON. Always a big part of my spirituality — the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar.
Open a door of this super-fun advent calendar each day in December to discover a LEGO® Star Wars themed minifigure, starship, vehicle or other collectible. There’s even a foldout playmat featuring images from Jakku, Starkiller Base and deep space for epic Star Wars encounters. This holiday gift is perfect for rebels, Sith Lords, Scavengers and any other life form, and includes 7 minifigures and a BB-8 figure.
- Vehicles include The Ghost, The Phantom, Stormtrooper transport, Rey’s speeder, Millennium Falcon, Snowspeeder, Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle, Y-wing, TIE Striker, Hovertank, AT-ST, blaster cannon, snow blower and a sled with boosters!
- Weapons include 3 blaster pistols and 2 blasters
(2) HANS DUO. He was in The Shootist. Now he’s the Reshootist. ScreenRant reports “Ron Howard Reshot ‘Nearly All’ Of Solo For ‘Twice The Budget’”.
During his time filming, Howard served as the damage control department by posting fun pictures from behind-the-scenes, offering his social media followers a small taste of what was going on. While these were successful in changing the conversation to the content of the film itself (rather than the drama surrounding it), some couldn’t help but realize Howard wasn’t simply finishing what Lord and Miller started. As filming went on for a while, it became apparent there was considerable retooling going on. Now, any issues about who will receive director credit are a thing of the past.
(3) CAT LOVER. From Unbound, Farah Mendlesohn on romance in Robert A. Heinlein — “Q&A with Julie Bozza”.
- How important were the romance subplots in Heinlein’s novels and stories?
In Heinlein’s Juveniles romantic subplots are notable mostly by their absence. If there is a lesson in them for smart girls and boys it’s that romance is to be avoided at all cost when you are young because it will restrict your ambitions. Heinlein of course had made this mistake himself with what we’d now call a “starter marriage” in the early 1930s, but in those days it was the only legitimate way for a nice boy to get sex. There is a hint of it in Starman Jones, but it doesn’t work out, in Between Planets the hero doesn’t notice he is being romanced, and in The Star Beast, both female protagonists have it all worked out, but the hero hasn’t noticed yet.
By the 1960s his boys approach girls with awe: Johnny Rico in Starship Troopers likes having women in charge of the space ships because it’s a reminder what he’s fighting for, but there is not a whisper of sex, which is one reason I suggest in the book that we really do need to see this one as a juvenile.
But from Stranger in a Strange Land onwards, it’s not that romance is a subplot so much as that one of the things Heinlein clearly wants to think seriously about is what love is. Stranger is all about how you love someone, how you love without jealousy, and how true love should be expansive, encompassing and generous. Glory Road is this magnificent medieval Romance, intensely performative and playful and a bit silly, but by the end separating the game of romance from the real thing. And of course the Lazarus Long sequence, particularly the tellingly titled Time Enough for Love, and the last novel, To Sail Beyond the Sunset are all about what love means and what we will do for love. But the true masterpiece of Heinlein’s romances is The Door Into Summer which for all the sub plot about Dan’s relationship with Ricky, is truly about a man and his love for his cat.
(4) TERRORWEEN. Yes, this is precisely what we groundlings are always looking for — “McEdifice Returns: Goosebumpy Halloween Special”.
Welcome boils and ghouls to this, your McEdifice Returns Halloween Special. I am your host Tyranny The Torturing Cat-O-Nine-Tails and this is my hideous assistance Straw ‘Wicker man’ Puppy.
We submit for your consideration the strange case of one Chiseled McEdifice. A lowly photocopy repairman or so he says. But what is this? His attempts to prevent paper supplies going missing has brought him to the SPOOKIEST part of any office building!
And there, amid the dust, and the spiders, and the rat-droppings and the incessant drip-drip-drip of leaking pipes, he discovered that all along, the paper was being stolen by…
A HUMANOID ALIEN INFLUENCED PHOTOCOPY MACHINE MAN TRYING TO COPY HIS OWN BUTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hmmm, you think that’s NOT scary?…
(5) BACK TO THE STARGATE. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak invites readers to “Watch the first behind-the-scenes glimpse for MGM’s digital-only Stargate prequel”.
At Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, the studio teased our first look at the upcoming show.
Stargate Origins will be a prequel to the original film and followup television franchise. This two-minute featurette shows off the first week of production, with a small tent city and offices for a young Catherine Langford (played by Ellie Gall).
(6) CHUCK TINGLE IN LA. A certain someone else was also at Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, or as he calls it…
CITY OF DEVILS COMIC CON it was such a nice time i think we all proved love very well thank you to everyone https://t.co/btdtAfdTff
— Chuck Tingle (@ChuckTingle) October 30, 2017
Since Chuck attended with his head in a bag, the mystery lingers on….
(7) PLAN AHEAD. Taos Toolbox (June 17-30) is a two-week Master Class in Science Fiction and Fantasy taught by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress, with special guest George R.R. Martin, and special lecturers Carrie Vaughn and E.M. Tippets. Applications for the 2018 workshop will be accepted beginning December 1, 2017.
Taos Toolbox is a workshop designed to bring your science fiction and fantasy writing to the next level. If you’ve sold a few stories and then stalled out, or if you’ve been to Clarion or Odyssey and want to re-connect with the workshop community, this is the workshop for you!
Taos Toolbox has only been in existence for ten years, and already graduates have been nominated for eight Hugo awards.
(8) FICTION BROUGHT TO LIFE. Amazing Stories goes “Behind the Scenes with a Voice Actor” in an interview with Brad Wills.
- How do you determine what kind of voice to use for different characters? Do you impersonate different actors that you’ve seen? I’m really curious as to the process. Can you explain it?
Usually I’ll apply one of my stock voices to a character based on their personality traits. For instance in the character breakdown of An Unconventional Mr. Peadlebody, you had described Gerald as a bit of a prudish dandy, and a total failure as a vampire. So I used a more nasal, reedy, affected tone to portray those characteristics. It’s a voice I typically use for grousers and malcontents. So with an added bit of cheekiness and fey pomposity, it seemed to suit Gerald well. As for the character of Gainsworthy, yes I did pay a calculated tribute to a certain actor/director and a notorious character he once played. To tell people why would spoil the mystery of the book, though! I’ve also taken inspiration from numerous old character actors from Hollywood’s Golden Era. Turner Classic Movies has been invaluable.
(9) ROYAL MANTICORAN NAVAL MANUVER. Fans of the Honorverse will be interested to know about SphinxCon 2018. I’m a little curious whether David Gerrold fits into the theme somehow, or is simply a good idea as a GoH people want to see,
— SphinxCon2018 (@SphinxConTRMN) October 29, 2017
(10) CHECK YOUR CLOSETS. Definition remembers “20 Older Toys With Insane Value”. Note: This is a click-through article.
- Vinyl Caped Jawa
This version specifically will get you at least $5,000. When this version of Caped Jawa was released in 1978, its cape was made of vinyl, before Kenner Company felt the cape looked too cheap and changed the vinyl to cloth. The vinyl caped Jawa is incredibly rare, very valuable, and worth a minimum of $5,000.
(11) SOLON OBIT. SF Site News reports the death of longtime Chicago fan Ben Solon.
Chicago Fan Ben Solon (b.c.1950) died on October 26. In addition to attending Chicago area conventions, Solon published the fanzine Nyarlathotep.
(12) LUPPI OBIT. Federico Luppi, an Argentine actor who gained fame in the dark fantasy films of Guillermo del Toro, died October 20 at the age of 83. The New York Times obituary adds:
Mr. Luppi’s career, which began in the mid-1960s, included dozens of film and television roles, often in Argentine productions. Slim and stately with a shock of white hair, he endowed his characters with a sense of gravity.
One of those characters was Jesus Gris, the protagonist of the Mexican horror film “Cronos” (1993), Mr. del Toro’s directorial debut. In that film, which also starred Ron Perlman, Gris, an antiques dealer, finds a clockwork device that turns him into a vampire.
Mr. Luppi played the monstrous Gris with touches of weakness — at one point in the film he sinks to a bathroom floor to lap up a spot of blood.
Mr. Luppi appeared in two more of Mr. del Toro’s films, both set in Franco’s Spain. He was a leftist sympathizer who ran a haunted orphanage in “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001), and the monarch of a fairy kingdom in “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006), which won three Academy Awards in 2007.
After Mr. Luppi’s death was reported, Mr. del Toro, writing in Spanish on Twitter, called him “Our Olivier, our Day Lewis, our genius, my dear friend.”
(13) TODAY IN HISTORY
(14) LISTEN IN. Recordings of the play are available at the Internet Archive, including “War Of The Worlds 1938 Radio Broadcast with Orson Welles”.
The War of the Worlds is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938, and aired over theColumbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells‘s novel The War of the Worlds (1898).
(15) COMICS SECTION
(16) POTTERMANIA, The Washington Post’s Karla Adam says “London is going all butterbeer over 20th anniversary of Harry Potter”. Her survey of news about the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone includes a British Library exhibit and various fan activities that are taking place all over London.
Not that it takes much to motivate Potter enthusiasts. Last month, for instance, thousands of Muggles descended on Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross station to mark the day that Harry Potter’s son Albus left for Hogwarts. For those truly potty about Potter, there is the “Making of Harry Potter” studio tour, next to the film studios where all eight films were made, which in the lead-up to Halloween is hosting feasts in the “Great Hall” with pumpkins and cauldrons full of lollipops.
(17) SOFTWARE. The New York Times Magazine tackles the question, “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?” After taking an ax to Benjamin Lee Whorf, the author moves into ancillary matters…
SINCE THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that any language forbids its speakers to think anything, we must look in an entirely different direction to discover how our mother tongue really does shape our experience of the world. Some 50 years ago, the renowned linguist Roman Jakobson pointed out a crucial fact about differences between languages in a pithy maxim: “Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” This maxim offers us the key to unlocking the real force of the mother tongue: if different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.
Consider this example. Suppose I say to you in English that “I spent yesterday evening with a neighbor.” You may well wonder whether my companion was male or female, but I have the right to tell you politely that it’s none of your business. But if we were speaking French or German, I wouldn’t have the privilege to equivocate in this way, because I would be obliged by the grammar of language to choose between voisin or voisine; Nachbar or Nachbarin. These languages compel me to inform you about the sex of my companion whether or not I feel it is remotely your concern. This does not mean, of course, that English speakers are unable to understand the differences between evenings spent with male or female neighbors, but it does mean that they do not have to consider the sexes of neighbors, friends, teachers and a host of other persons each time they come up in a conversation, whereas speakers of some languages are obliged to do so.
(18) PLUTO’S REPLACEMENT. The Planetary Society’s vlog does a seasonal installment: “It Came From Planet 9 – The Planetary Post with Robert Picardo”.
Picardo is the Phantom of the Orbit in this terrifying episode of The Planetary Post. Enjoy a special guest visit from Dr. Konstantin Batygin, one of the members of the team which has theorized a big, ninth planet way out beyond Neptune.
(19) LEST YOU DISCOVER TOO MUCH. Camestros Felapton warns that spoilers abound in his “Review: Star Trek Discovery – Episode 7”.
Aaarrrrgghhhh what a frustrating show this thing is! It can get so much right and then fall flat on its face. Spoilers abound below the fold.
But that’s good for those of us who haven’t subscribed to CBS All Access yet.
(20) BEWARE MORE SPOILERS. Whereas Standback’s retrospective of the first several episodes is on Medium: “ST:Discovery, Five Weeks Deep: Burnham and Lorca”.
Alas. We deserve more. True story: for a brief 24 hours, I was really hoping “Lethe” would be the perfect name for an episode where due to [TECHNOBABBLE], everybody mysteriously forgets Burnham’s mutiny, and she suddenly needs to live amongst a crew who thinks she never did anything wrong. (Sorry, y’all, I don’t watch teasers 😛 ) It could have been glorious. Straight talk: I would x100 rather see Burnham try to go to a book club meeting, then pull off another Daring Impossible Foolhardy Mission. She’s got the chops; what she doesn’t have is the writing.
(21) KEEPING THE WOW IN BOW WOW. Save space on your Hugo ballot for this editor.
My copyeditor found a typo in a page of Morse Code rendered as dog barks. So, you know, that's a badass pro right there.
— Greg van Eekhout (@gregvaneekhout) October 30, 2017
(22) ALT MONEY. Is comics such a rich field? Vox Day’s new right-wing comics series, Alt*Hero, intended to “wage cultural war on the social justice-converged comic duopoly of Marvel and DC Comics,” finished among the most lucrative crowdfunding campaigns ever.
Alt*Hero features unconventional villains such as Captain Europa of the Global Justice Initiative and controversial heroes such as Michael Martel, a vigilante who drops off criminal undocumented immigrants at the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, and Rebel, an Southern girl whose superhero outfit incorporates the Confederate battle flag.
Vox Day looked over Kickstarter’s records of Comics – Most Funded campaigns and determined:
There have been 10,552 comics-related campaigns. The #21 most-funded Anatomy of Melancholy: The Best of A Softer World came in at $251,062 with 3,923 backers. We will probably pass that up when all is said and done later today since backers are apparently still emailing and adding a few things on, but we come in right behind them at $245,825 at present. Probably won’t be enough to get to the $260,942 required to catch #20, though.
So, it’s definitely the 22nd most-funded of the 10,553 comics-related crowdfunding campaigns, which is not bad. Also, if you look at the other 21, you can see that all of them were established comics prior to the kickstarter. So, we are also the #1 most-funded new comics series.
(23) THE SILENCERS. Not genre, but too strange to ignore: “A weird solution for noodle slurpers in Japan”. A BBC video about a noise-canceling fork — and other strange utensils.
A Japanese noodle maker Nissin Foods is trying to reinvent the way we eat ramen by creating a noise cancelling fork that covers up slurping.
It’s the latest in string of bizarre cutlery inventions. Is it insanely clever or just insanity?
(24) SOUND ADVICE. And it’s also a good time of year to remind people about the availability of X Minus One radio episodes at the Internet Archive:
X Minus One aired on NBC from 24 April 55 until 9 January 58 for a total of 124 episodes with one pilot or audition story. There was a revival of the series in 1973 when radio was attempting to bring back radio drama and it lasted until 1975. The show occupied numerous time slots through out its run in the 50’s and thus was never able to generate a large following. X Minus One was an extension of Dimension X which aired on NBC from 1950-51. The first fifteen scripts used for X Minus One were scripts used in the airing of Dimension X; however, it soon found its own little niche. The stories for the show came from two of the most popular science fiction magazines at the time; Astounding and Galaxy. Adaptations of these stories were performed by Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts. They even wrote a few original stories of their own. The writers of the magazine stories were not well known then but now are the giants of today. These stories came from the minds of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Poul Anderson to name a few. This series has survived from its original airing in high quality to be enjoyed today.
(25) ASGARDIAN SNEAK PEEK. Two minutes from Thor: Ragnarok.
(26) PUMPKINS IN CHORUS. Here’s a Halloween light show sure to bring down the house.
[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender.]
(1) NOW YOU KNOW. Ron Howard says the movie will be called Solo: A Star Wars Story.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) October 17, 2017
(2) ATOMIC AGE LORE. Tony Rothman kicks off his American Scientist article “The Forgotten Mystery of Inertia” with – of all things – a Worldcon anecdote.
In days of yore, at a World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, a Harvard graduate student polished his reputation as a brilliant mad scientist by roaming the convention halls, brandishing what at first glance appeared to be a rather peculiar steel bowling ball. Portholes perforated its surface, providing a glimpse of electronic hardware inside; tangled wires sprouted from the same holes, and a gear train surrounded the mysterious object’s equator.
“What’s that?” I asked him.
“It’s the gyro platform for an intercontinental ballistic missile,” he replied. “If you put it on a Titan rocket, it will fly to Kiev.”
“How do you know?”
“It’s an inertial guidance system, stupid. It knows where Kiev is.”
“I know how inertial guidance systems work, but how do you know it knows where Kiev is?”
“Oh, that. It was stamped on the box.”
This sorcerer’s apprentice had discovered that for $900 you could buy a surplus intercontinental ballistic missile, 10 years before the electronics were declassified. His Titan was delivered on two railway cars, “Kiev Titan Missile” stamped on the crates. He junked the body, donated the engines to an art museum, and saved the electronics for his research. A tall tale? Sounds like one, but the gyro platform was there for all to see.
That is the question. At what, exactly, is the gyroscope pointed? According to the law of inertia, objects tend to continue doing what they’ve been doing: If at rest, they remain at rest; if moving, they continue moving at the same speed in the same direction. The gyroscope also bends to inertia’s will, but in confounding ways. Touch it, and the gyro opposes you by veering in unexpected directions. If it is spinning extremely rapidly, the gyroscope remains rigidly locked in the direction it has been set, its sights fixed on…Kiev—hence the term inertial guidance systems. If a rocket veers off the gyro’s fixed course, a sensor detects the error, and a servomechanism realigns the missile with the gyroscope axis.
Was that Russell Seitz? When I first got into fandom that was the story going around about him, of which the following is one version:
In the late 70’s, when most of our nuclear arsenal was converted from liquid to solid fuel, the U.S. Government auctioned off a number of obsolete missile silos and their contents. Mostly the silos got bought by local farmers who converted them for grain storage. I only know what happened to one of the missiles. It was offered at sealed bid auction and a friend of mine, Russell Seitz, bought it. When you bid on something like this, you have to send in a check for 10% of your bid as a deposit. He looked at his bank account, and figured he could spare about $300 that month, so that’s what he sent. When he discovered that he’d won the bid, he had to scrounge up the rest. Now the buyer must pick up the goods himself, but he can request that his purchase be delivered, at government expense, to the nearest military base. Being an undergraduate at M.I.T. at the time, he had the missile shipped to Hanscom Airforce Base, about 12 miles away. He then arranged for a truck, and donated the missile to a local modern art museum (I forget which one). Tax laws were a little different in those days, and if you donated something to an art museum, you could deduct not the just the purchase price, but the original value of the object, which was considerable. Income averaging allowed him to spread the “loss” out over a number of years so that he didn’t have to pay taxes for a long time! He was legendary at M.I.T. for quite a while, and acquired the nickname “Missile” Seitz.
(3) ED KRAMER BACK IN THE NEWS. Ed Kramer, Dragon Con founder and convicted sex offender, has sued the producers of The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway, claiming they owe him for his work in creating and developing the program. The Huffington Post has the story: “Sex Offender Claims Responsibility For Natalee Holloway TV Series”.
Just when it seemed the Natalee Holloway case couldn’t get more peculiar, HuffPost has uncovered another twist in the teenager’s 2005 disappearance: A registered sex offender is claiming responsibility for a recent television series about the mystery.
Edward Kramer is suing producers of “The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway,” a TV series that began in August on the Oxygen Network, alleging he is “co-owner, developer and writer,” according to his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in California. Kramer wants unspecified “just compensation” for his work, plus punitive damages.
Kramer’s personal website claims:
Edward E. Kramer is the creator and developer of the six-part series, The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway for Brian Graden Media (BGM) and NBC Universal’s newly re-branded Oxygen Crime Network. This landmark series, featuring Dave Holloway and Private Investigators T. J. Ward, Kathy Wainscott, Trace Sargent and Eric Bryant, Detective Frank Karic and Forensic Scientist Jason Kolowski, which finally puts to rest the 2005 murder of Natalee Holloway.
The defendants in the lawsuit, Brian Graden Media and Lipstick Inc., filed an answer to the suit, denying they owe anything to Kramer.
He wasn’t “named as a writer, screenwriter, or co-creator,” they said, and was working as an “employee or agent of T.J. Ward,” a private investigator who appeared on the series with Holloway’s father, Dave Holloway.
Read a copy of the original lawsuit filing and the defendants’ answer here.
(4) MARVEL EXEC’S COMICS COLLECTION LOOTED. Marvel’s Joe Quesada is looking for help to recover or reacquire comics and other art stolen from his collection. He gives the background in a long public post on Facebook, leading up to recent discoveries of his artwork for sale, and the arrest of the culprit.
In early June I was contacted by a longtime friend, he was looking at some comic art auctions and was curious as to why I was auctioning a piece that he knew was part of my personal collection and something I would never, ever sell. He sent me a link where I discovered 24 pieces in total from my private collection up for auction including pieces I did long before I was a working professional. While at the moment I’m not at liberty to give the details, investigating this further it turns out that the artwork that was up for auction was all originally purchased from a Mr. Francesco Bove.
Further investigation uncovered that, since the time he was thrown out of my house, at least 185 more pieces of my stolen art were sold at auction and all of it originally purchased directly from Mr. Bove. That’s 185 pieces, sold and gone! How much more was sold privately is unknown at the moment but I’m not feeling optimistic.
So why is this news breaking now? As the case was being investigated the Detective in charge discovered Mr. Bove had left the country and had gone to Italy. Upon his return he was arrested which brings us to right now. From what I know so far it’s believed that Mr. Bove has sold portions of my art to comic shops, dealers and collectors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, as well as parts of Long Island and New Jersey. It could be wider spread than that but I’m not at liberty to say.
And here’s the thing that keeps me up at night. These were pieces that I was never intending to sell, art that had deep personal meaning to every member of my family. There was an enormous collection of Archie art from various artists like Stan Goldberg, Harry Lucey, Sam Schwartz but the majority of it by Dan DeCarlo. There were also Laugh Comics pages by Bill Woggon, The Adventures Of Pipsqueak by Walt Lardner as well as Pat The Brat and Shrimpy by Joe Harold and a huge assortment of other artists from the 50s and 60s to today. I lost pages of my own professional art as well as art I purchased from dear and talented friends. But what stings the most is that Mr. Bove took artwork that I had discovered many years ago stored in my father’s home after he had passed away. Drawings and paintings I did in elementary school, high school and college. Practice sample pages I had done before ever seriously thinking I could be in comics. This was art I was leaving behind for my daughter just as my father had left it for me. It kills me to think that I’ll never get this stuff back now that it’s been scattered to the four winds perhaps bought and sold more times than I care to imagine… or possibly even destroyed. So yes, heartbreak after heartbreak. Not only was the thief someone who I trusted, allowed into my home and helped during rough times, but the items he stole in order to keep himself afloat once he realized he irreversibly burned his bridge with me were the ones most irreplaceable and of personal importance.
Now here’s the part where I could use your help.
While I’m hopeful that now in custody Mr. Bove may lead the Detectives to the people and locations where he sold the art, perhaps some of you reading this might be able to point the Sparta New Jersey Police Department in the right direction. If you’ve purchased any art from Mr. Francesco Bove and have it in your possession or know someone who does please contact
Det. Jeffrey McCarrick at (973) 726-4072
You can also reach out to me here on FB as well. Please know that I understand completely that this was sold under false pretenses and I fault no one for not knowing that. All I want is to retrieve as much of the art as I possibly can especially the attached Dan DeCarlo cover for Archie #322 which means the world to me and my family. Unfortunately it has been sold at least twice over that I’m aware of but if you know where I can find it I will gladly purchase it back.
(5) BOOTS ON THE GROUND. The Planetary Society reports on the first meeting of the newly reconstituted National Space Council in “We choose to go to the Moon and do the other things”.
Returning to the Moon
The biggest news to come out of today’s meeting was [Vice President] Pence’s authoritative declaration that Americans will return to the lunar surface.
“We will return American astronauts to the Moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” Pence said.
This wasn’t unexpected, considering prior statements by Pence, other administration officials, and the backgrounds of space council executive secretary Scott Pace, and NASA administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine.
Very few details were given on how a return to the lunar surface would work, or when it would occur. Pence did not say whether the Americans on the surface would be government or commercially-employed astronauts. And the agency’s exploration goals already include a return to lunar space via the Deep Space Gateway, a small space station in lunar orbit, which would provide a test-bed for closed-loop life support, deep space maneuvering, and other technologies necessary for travel to Mars.
In a statement, NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said the agency has “highlighted a number of initiatives underway in this important area (cislunar space), including a study of an orbital gateway or outpost that could support a sustained cadence of robotic and human missions.” That implies the Deep Space Gateway is still on the table, and could theoretically fit within the broad plans outlined by Pence.
The fate of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule have been a perennial point of discussion among space advocates, particularly during the transition to this new, business-friendly administration. Though it wasn’t stated explicitly, today’s discussions seemed to assume the continuation of SLS and Orion, at least for now. The programs have always had strong congressional support, and were intended to be destination-agnostic, both by design and congressional directive. NASA can thus shift its focus without a drastic restructuring of its major hardware programs.
(6) TAKE A SHOWER. Space.com tells you — “Orionid Meteor Shower 2017: When, Where & How to See It”.
One of the year’s best sky shows will peak between Oct. 20 and 22, when the Orionid meteor shower reaches its best viewing. The meteors that streak across the sky are some of the fastest and brightest among meteor showers, because the Earth is hitting a stream of particles almost head on.
The particles come from Comet 1P/Halley, better known as Halley’s Comet. This famous comet swings by Earth every 75 to 76 years, and as the icy comet makes its way around the sun, it leaves behind a trail of comet crumbs. At certain times of the year, Earth’s orbit around the sun crosses paths with the debris.
(7) NOTABLE SIGNATURES. Michael Burstein posted copies of some historic letters his grandfather received from Einstein, Teller and Isaac Asimov.
Among other things, my grandfather Rabbi Abraham Burstein was secretary of the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences. One of his tasks was reaching out to various luminaries to see if they would be interested in joining the academy. Sometimes he reached out to people whom he knew were Jewish but who might not be very public about it; joining the academy was a way to express solidarity without becoming too public. From what I understand, the academy had annual meetings with speakers.
I do not know what was in the letters my grandfather sent out to these three recipients, but we can see what they said back.
The earliest letter is from Albert Einstein, dated June 7, 1936. The next letter is from Edward Teller, dated December 21, 1962. The last letter is from Isaac Asimov, dated October 21, 1965.
(8) HONOR AN AUSTRALIAN SFF CONTRIBUTOR. The A. Bertram Chandler Award is calling for nominations.
So why is a person awarded this honour? It’s because the recipient has demonstrated over many years untiring commitment and selfless work within Australian fandom or the Aussie SF scene in general. Work such as convention running, local club activities, publishing, writing of merit in the genre whether that be blogs, fanzines, short stories or novels, artistic endeavours such painting, graphics or other such forms. The criteria is not limited to any one activity; but mostly it is for activities that are visible and evident to the Aussie SF community.
So, do you know someone who has made a significant contribution to Australian science fiction and/ or Australian fandom, not just over the last year, but year in, year out? Feel that they should be honoured / recognised for this work? Then why not nominate them for the A Bertram Chandler Award. It is really easy to do: just write to the ASFF and outline why you think that the person is deserving of the award. No forms to fill out, no entrance fee, nothing but a simple few paragraphs outlining the person’s achievements.
For more information about the A Bertram Chandler Award and the Australian Science Fiction Foundation visit our website ( www.asff.org.au )
To nominate a worthy person, send to firstname.lastname@example.org
(9) EBOOK TIDE RECEDING? A Wall Street Journal blogger relates what publishers had to say at the Frankfurt Book Fair in “Book Publishers Go Back to Basics”.
Book publishers are giving an advance review of the industry’s future, and it looks a lot like the past. After a decade of technological upheaval and lackluster growth, executives at the top four U.S. consumer book publishers say they are done relying on newfangled formats to boost growth.
It has been nearly 10 years since Amazon.com Inc. introduced its Kindle e-book reader amid the financial crisis, destabilizing publishers and challenging their well-honed business models.
Now, e-book sales are on the decline, making up a fraction of publishers’ revenue, and traditional book sales are rising. The consumer books industry is enjoying steady growth in the U.S., with total revenue increasing about 5% from 2013 to 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers.
Executives gathered in Frankfurt for the industry’s biggest trade fair said they are returning to fundamentals: buying and printing books that readers want to buy—and they are streamlining their businesses to get them out faster than ever before.
It is about “knowing what [readers] want,” said Markus Dohle, chief executive of Bertelsmann SE and Pearson PSO -1.91% PLC’s joint venture Penguin Random House, “to drive demand at scale.”
The shift is a surprise reversal for an industry that experts just a decade ago predicted was facing radical change, if not a slow death, because of digitization and changing reading habits. Instead, e-book sales in the U.S. were down about 17% last year, according to the AAP industry group, while printed book revenue rose 4.5%.
…Mr. Murray blamed flagging e-book sales on “screen fatigue,” and said HarperCollins was upping investment in printed books, “the value anchor” for the entire business. Printed books are “more beautiful now,” he said. “You’ll see endpapers [and] a lot more design sensibility going into the print editions because we recognized that they can’t be throwaway.”
(10) IT’S THE PRICE. Amanda S. Green’s opinion about the above news is that trad publishers constantly talk around the real obstacle to e-book sales, which she identifies in “The delusions continue” at Mad Genius Club.
…Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy claims that nothing “went wrong” with e-books. It seems she believes people have gotten tired of reading on their screens. Again, a complete disconnect from reality. People don’t want to pay as much — or more — for an e-book as they will for a print copy. But the laugh out loud moment comes further down in the article when Reidy says she firmly believes “a new version of the book based on digital delivery will come eventually, though she does not know what it might look like.”
Hmm, wouldn’t that be an e-book? The bells and whistles might be a bit different, but it if walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, isn’t it a duck?
And what about her argument that e-book sales have leveled off because we are tired of reading on our screens?
It constantly amazes me the way these folks continue to tie themselves into knots trying to explain how e-books are bad, or are a passing fad or a way for writers not good enough for traditional publishing to get their works into the hands of readers. All I know is that the real numbers, the numbers that look at more than the Big 5 titles, tell a different tale. As a reader, I know I find myself picking up more and more books from indie authors because they are writing stories I want to read and they are doing it at prices that allow me to read two or three or more books for the price of a single Big 5 title. When is the point going to come where an accountant who isn’t afraid of rocking the boat says they can actually sell more — and make more money — if they lower their prices to something reasonable?
(11) SPLATTERPUNK AWARD SEEKS NOMINATIONS. As announced recently on Episode 136 of The Horror Show with Brian Keene, the SplatterPunk awards are now taking nominations for works of horror. The categories are:
Anyone registered to attend next year’s KillerCon is eligible to nominate. Early registration is $89.99 until the end of 2017. Registration is capped at 250 attendees.
Dann sent the link along with an observation, “The nomination form is a little unusual in that there is only one space provided for a nomination. The attendee is supposed to indicate the appropriate category in one box and the work being nominated in a second box. It isn’t clear how an attendee is supposed to nominate works in more than one category.”
Guests of honor at next year’s Killer Con include Brian Keene, Edward Lee, and Lucy Taylor. Special Guests include author Matt Shaw and freelance editor Monica J. O’Rourke.
The 2018 Splatterpunk Awards jurors are David J. Schow, Gerard Houarner, Monica J. O’Rourke, Mike Lombardo, and Tod Clark.
The Founders of the SplatterPunk Awards, Wrath James White and Brian Keene, will select the Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
(14) THE NEIGHBORS’ HALLOWEEN DISPLAY. That would be a two-story tall Star Wars Imperial Walker — “‘The Force’ is strong in Parma as residents unveil towering Star Wars’ robot”.
Everyone wants to see Nick Meyer’s latest Halloween decoration.
“That is an imperial armored transporter from (‘Star Wars: Episode V – The) Empire Strikes Back,’” said Meyer.
Star Wars’ fans would know the official name for the towering rover: an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport).
Seven years ago, Meyer and his family started the tradition of building a Halloween display in the front yard.
“I love it, I encourage it,” said Nick’s wife Becky Meyer.
It gets bigger every year.
“I liked the clowns we did one year. Last year we did ‘Friday the 13th’ cabin, that was one of my favorites,” Becky said. “Last year was pretty awesome, and he topped it,” said next door neighbor, Amber Johnson.
One would think some neighbors might not want to stare at a two-story Star Wars robot for a few weeks, you’d be wrong.
“No, this is our fourth year living next door to them, and we love it,” Johnson said.
(15) IN MEMORY YET GRAY. Lawrence Schoen asks the inevitable question of Vivian Shaw, author of Strange Practice, in “Eating Authors: Vivian Shaw”.
LMS: Welcome, Vivian. What’s your most memorable meal?
VS: If you’d asked me this two years ago, I would have had no difficulty whatsoever in coming up with the best meal I’d ever eaten. That was in 2004, in Chicago, the same day I met Scott McNeil and George Romero: I was at a Transformers convention and decided to take myself to an actual steakhouse for an actual steak, and I can still so clearly remember the gorgeous rich mineral taste of that first-ever filet mignon, the way it almost dissolved in my mouth. The vivid greenness of the two asparagus spears on the plate, the peppery kick of the Shiraz that accompanied it — even thirteen years later it’s incredibly easy to recall.
(The most memorable, however, was the time on British Airways in the 1990s where for reasons known only to themselves somebody had decided to add bits of squid to the fruit salad. Memorable doesn’t equal pleasant.)
(16) LECKIE’S PROVENANCE Camestros Felapton reviews the new novel Provenance by Ann Leckie.
The people of Hwae (or at least the high-ranking ones) obsess over social status in a way that the Radch obsesses over rank (and tea). Central to this cult-like obsession is the veneration of ‘vestiges’ – artifacts that demonstrate the age of a family and possible connections to historical events. Vestiges can be anything from physical objects to letters and postcards or ticket stubs.
When we first meet Ingray she is off planet, embroiled in a scheme that is within her cognitive capacity to execute but for which she is not temperamentally prepared. As events unfold, a prison break, stolen spaceships, a murder of foreign dignitary and an invasion plot unfold around Ingray in a story that has elements of a mad-cap caper along side space-opera and Leckie’s trademark examination of the potential variety of human culture.
Above all Ingray is an honest person caught in a story in which most people she meets (both the good and the bad) are liars. This is such a clever trick by Leckie, as she manages to encapsulate Ingray very quickly as a character very early in the book, while giving her a backstory that gives her reasons to attempt a devious scheme (returning a notorious exiled criminal/disgraced vestige keeper to Hwae to embarrass her parent’s political rival). Ingray’s basic niceness wins her some useful allies and her naturally bravery pushes her further into the events.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Andrew Finch tells the inspiration for his short film Others Will Follow.
Thanks for watching, Others Will Follow was inspired by this speech written for President Nixon to deliver in the event that the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the moon. Fortunately they never used it, so I figured I would. NASA has parked its space ships in museums in the decades since the contingency speech was written. Most humans alive today didn’t exist the last time humanity left low earth orbit. I wanted to make something that would outline the importance of human space flight by imagining a brute-force mission to Mars in the early 2000s that, despite disastrous circumstances still manages to pass the torch of inspiration. I spent 4.5 years making this short and attempted to do every aspect of its creation myself, from pyrotechnics to music composition. Many of the disciplines were completely new to me like designing and building the space ship and constructing the space suit, others like VFX and cinematography I had a background in.
The lone survivor of the first mission to Mars uses his last moments to pass the torch of inspiration.
Making of: Others Will Follow
VFX Breakdowns and funny funny stuff from the set of Others Will Follow
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Dann, Michael J. Walsh, Steve Davidson, Cat Eldridge, Andrew, and Rose Mitchell for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brad J.]
(1) THUMBS UP. Good words: “Blade Runner 2049: The first reactions are in”.
“Good news!” tweeted Guardian scribe Jordan Hoffman. “Blade Runner 2049 is a terrific continuation and expansion of the orig[inal].”
Erik Davis from the movie site Fandango agreed, calling Denis Villeneuve’s film a “sci-fi masterpiece“.
“If you were worried, don’t be,” said Empire contributing editor Dan Jolin of the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s film.
(2) CONSPIRACY THEORY. The Wall Street Journal noticed a King Tut-like pattern among the companies shown in the original movie: “Science Affliction: Are Companies Cursed by Cameos in Blade Runner?” The story is behind a paywall, unfortunately.
The 1982 sci-fi classic is back with a splashy sequel but Atari, Pan Am, RCA and other companies featured in the futuristic original struggled in the real world
(3) SHAPE OF TREK TO COME. ScienceFiction.com points to the way: “‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Trailer Teases The Full Season”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
Given this somewhat unorthodox approach to their pilot, it’s only natural that they would want to give viewers a taste of what’s to come, a sense of what the show is actually going to be on a weekly basis, now that it’s underway. This is especially so given that CBS hopes to use ‘Discovery’ to drive interest in their streaming service, CBS All Access. To that end, the network has released a “what’s next?” trailer for the show’s first season
(4) UNBEARABLE. BBC review of “Goodbye Christopher Robin”, which “looks sweet on the surface, but is quite depressing – ‘a wolf in teddy bear clothing,’ writes Nicholas Barber.”
Goodbye Christopher Robin is a strange proposition. It’s a film that won’t attract many viewers who aren’t already fans of AA Milne’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh books, and yet its explicit purpose is to ensure that anyone who sees it will never enjoy those books in the same way again. Remember Saving Mr Banks? Remember how it suggested that PL Travers wrote Mary Poppins because she had an alcoholic father and a suicidal mother? Compared to Goodbye Christopher Robin, that was a feel-good treat for all the family.
(5) DEDICATED SPACE. The Marsh Collection covers both science fiction and Scientology: “SDSU Library Debuts New Science Fiction Room”.
The Edward E. Marsh Golden Age of Science Fiction Room will open on Thursday, Sept. 28, giving San Diego State University and the local community access to one of the most comprehensive collections of science fiction in the United States. The opening celebration begins at 2 p.m. on the first floor of the Love Library on the SDSU campus. Eventually, the Marsh Room will serve as the main point of contact between the community and SDSU’s Special Collections and University Archives, which is home to Marsh’s collection.
Marsh, who attended SDSU in the 1960s, spent 30 years assembling his $2.25 million collection of signed and inscribed first editions by science fiction greats, including Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Included are the fiction and non-fiction writing of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. Marsh gifted the entire collection to SDSU in 2013.
Donald Westbrook, who received a Ph.D. in religious studies from Claremont Graduate University in 2015, called the collection “a preeminent resource for scientology studies [which] continues to receive fuller academic attention as one of many American-born new religious movements.” His book about the Church of Scientology is due out next year from Oxford University Press.
The Marsh collection is a recent addition to SDSU’s Special Collections, a repository for more than 80,000 printed volumes, over 500 manuscript and archival collections, 800 linear feet of university records, plus numerous graphic and digital collections and ephemera.
[Gale Etschmaier, dean of the Library and Information Access] said relocating Special Collections to the library space in and around the Marsh Room will strengthen SDSU’s role as a source of “living history”—the documents, photos, letters, newspaper clippings and oral accounts that enable researchers to understand the past through their own critical senses rather than through another’s interpretation.
(6) MORE WOMEN ACCUSE KNOWLES. Indiewire reports that in the wake of allegations against the Ain’t It Cool News founder, more women have stepped forward with stories about their experiences: “Four More Women Accuse Harry Knowles of Sexual Assault and Harassment”.
Another film writer, who goes by the online handle “sick__66” and wishes to stay otherwise anonymous, alleges that as recently as this May, Knowles harassed her on Twitter. The Miami resident, 23, was first approached by Knowles online in April, after he followed her on the social media platform and reached out via Twitter direct messages. The two have never met in person.
Over the course of a month, the pair shared a friendly conversation over direct messages about film history, with Knowles frequently sharing stories of his career and connections. (IndieWire reviewed the full history of these messages.) In the messages, Knowles writes frequently about things he’s done over the course of his work, name-dropping such celebrities as Kevin Smith, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro. (At one point, he sent “sick__66” a link to his wedding invite video, noting that it was directed by Jackson.)
After a month of communicating, Knowles asked “sick__66” to come to Austin, to which she did not respond, deeming the interaction “creepy.” …
(7) WORKAROUNDS NEEDED. Jason Sanford asks “What happens to storytelling when the audience knows everything?” Stories of a certain type become harder to set up, though others must surely be easier to tell – what would they be?
We’re already seeing major changes in society from people having access to information through mobile devices. Paper maps and guides, which existed for thousands of years, are nearly extinct in some countries as people use their phones and GPS to navigate. Printed encyclopedias and dictionaries have also mostly disappeared, replaced by Wikipedia and other online resources. And social movements like the Arab Spring owed much of their power to the instantaneous sending of information between people by social media.
Those are merely the start of the changes we’ll see when every human has instant access to any information they desire. And one intriguing question I’ve been pondering is what this continual access to information will do to storytelling.
Here’s the issue: the vast majority of stories deal with an information gap between that story’s characters. This gap between what is known and not known by different characters helps create a story’s drama.
For example, in Romeo and Juliet a main character commits suicide because he believes his lover is dead. But what happens to that story when the characters can instantly find out they’re both alive?
Or what about Liam Neeson’s film Taken, where a father hunts for the people who kidnapped his daughter? What happens to that story when the father can instantly know the address where his daughter is being kept? Or his daughter can access an online database to learn of her kidnapper’s true nature when she first meets him?
(8) WRITTEN IN STONE. In “Did Ron Howard tweet out a Han Solo clue through Ralph McQuarrie’s art?”, SyFy Wire explains how the clue was solved and speculates about what it means for the Han Solo film.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) September 26, 2017
Less than two hours later, one fan with an eagle eye named Paul Bateman recognized this carving and distressed ruin to be the language seen on a piece by the late Star Wars conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie, who inspired the aesthetic for what we all visualize as the world of Star Wars. Bateman, also a concept designer and art director, called McQuarrie one of his friends.
— Paul Bateman (@PaulRMQ) September 26, 2017
(9) BOARDING PARTY. News From ME’s Mark Evanier had a bad experience with an airline – not so unusual – but received a surprisingly frank answer when he complained, as he explains in “Fright Attendants” and “Fright Attendants: Part 2”.
What occurred is kind of difficult to explain but basically, one employee of the airline — a lady at the gate — told me something. A second employee — a flight attendant — told me something different during the boarding process. I said, “That’s not what I was told” and I repeated what the lady at the gate had told me and I even gave her name. The attendant accused me of…well, basically lying about her telling me that. “That’s contrary to our policies, sir,” she said. “No one would tell you that.” My traveling companion backed me up strongly and she was accused of being rude and suddenly this flight attendant was announcing that she had the power to have us both removed from the flight.
…The Customer Relations lady was totally with me and clearly frustrated. She said — and this is a quote — “When I fly now, I just do whatever they say, even when I know it’s wrong because you never know what’s going to set some of them off. If they somehow get it into their heads that you’re a threat to the flight, you’re in for a lot of trouble.”
This is a woman who works for this airline. She is in a position to receive and deal with complaints about flight attendants who misbehave. And she is afraid of the occasional flight attendant on that airline. She also told me that recently, they had two incidents where flight attendants ejected pilots’ wives.
Rhetorical Question: If you were a pilot and they thought maybe your wife was a threat to the safety of the flight, what does that say about you?
(10) ON WRY. Anatoly Belilovsky entertains with “Dear Editor” at the SFWA Blog. The story doesn’t lend itself to an excerpt, but his bio does —
Anatoly Belilovsky was born in a city that went through six or seven owners in the last century, all of whom used it to do a lot more than drive to church on Sundays; he is old enough to remember tanks rolling through it on their way to Czechoslovakia in 1968. After being traded to the US for a shipload of grain and a defector to be named later (courtesy of the Jackson-Vanik amendment), he learned English from Star Trek reruns and went on to become a pediatrician in an area of New York where English is only the fourth most commonly used language. He has neither cats nor dogs, but was admitted into SFWA in spite of this deficiency…
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
(12) ON THE ROAD AGAIN. Our literary cartographer, Camestros Felapton, discusses how the territory and the story interact in “The Plot Elements of Fantasy Maps”.
There is a new good article on fantasy maps at The Map Room Blog: http://www.maproomblog.com/2017/09/the-territory-is-not-the-map/ The point being that much of the discussion of fantasy maps is not the map as such but rather the implausible territories that they depict. Fair point. However, I wanted to loop back to the post I made on the simplified Middle Earth map. A successful fantasy geography requires the terrain to shape the story and The Lord of the Rings does this well. It matters to the story whether the characters are in forests or towns/villages or mountains.
Roads, paths trails
These imply places where the story covers a greater distance. Travel is either uneventful or involves encounters with others. Leaving the path implies not only danger but a shift from the main objective. They are also (random encounters aside) boring but may also imply more personal conversation between characters. Outside of fantasy, a road trip has its own conventions and expectation of bonding between travellers.
(13) DISH SERVED COLD. “Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Radio Telescope Suffers Hurricane Damage”, but not as much as first believed.
When Hurricane Maria raked Puerto Rico last week as a Category 4 storm, it cut off electricity and communications island-wide, including at the Arecibo Observatory, one of the world’s largest radio telescopes.
Initial reports, received via ham radio, indicated significant damage to some of the facility’s scientific instruments. But Nicholas White, a senior vice president at the Universities Space Research Association, which helps run the observatory, tells NPR that the latest information is that a secondary 40-foot dish, thought destroyed, is still intact: “There was some damage to it, but not a lot,” he says.
“So far, the only damage that’s confirmed is that one of the line feeds on the antenna for one of the radar systems was lost,” White says. That part was suspended high above the telescope’s main 1,000-foot dish, which lost some panels when it shook loose and fell down.
(14) UNUSUAL ANIMATION. NPR says “‘Loving Vincent’ Paints Van Gogh Into A Murder Mystery”. It would be hard to pay homage to Vincent Van Gogh with more fervor or devotion than filmmakers Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman bring to Loving Vincent, in which they’ve not only created thousands of new oil paintings in his style, but also made him the subject of a murder-mystery.
It begins in 1891, a year after Van Gogh died, when a postman discovers an undelivered letter the artist wrote to his brother Theo, and sends his very reluctant, very drunk son to deliver it — a task that will prove difficult. The postman’s son discovers that Theo died soon after Vincent did, and then tries to find others who knew him, realizing as he goes that the death that was said to be a suicide, may not have been so cut and dried.
All of this is about what you’d expect of a film — in this case an animated film — that means to make a mystery of Van Gogh’s suicide. But if you’re picturing “animation” in the Disney-drawn or Pixar-computerized senses of the word, you’ll need to think again. In Loving Vincent, it’s as if the paint has leapt directly from Van Gogh’s canvases to the screen, and then started moving.
(15) TROLLING FOR DOLLARS. Intellectual judo, using science against itself! “Rapper B.o.B. raising funds to check if Earth is flat”. But you know that check is going to bounce.
Spoiler: The Earth is not flat.
But US rapper B.o.B. is crowd-funding the launch of satellites to see if he can get some evidence to the contrary.
The rapper, whose real name is Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, has been a vocal proponent of the Flat Earth theory – the claim the Earth is, in fact, a disc and not spherical.
Some proponents of the Flat Earth theory claim NASA employees guard the edge of the world to prevent people falling off.
(16) THINGS THAT GO BUMP. Developing driverless cars based on traffic in India: “Could India’s crowded roads help us create better cars?”
“In 60 seconds you have to consider 70 options,” says my rickshaw driver Raju, leaning over his shoulder as we weave through traffic. We’re navigating the infamous congested streets of Bangalore, and he’s explaining the rules of the road.
Having lived in India for two-and-a-half years, I get what he means. Not an inch of the road is wasted – if there’s a gap, a scooter will fill it. Vehicles travel bumper to bumper. Overtaking is attempted as frequently as possible. Indicators and wing mirrors are optional extras. Most drivers seem to rely on the incessant honking of nearby vehicles – almost a form of echolocation.
But there is method to the madness. Drivers deftly navigate around manoeuvres that would lead to accidents in the UK, and offenders rarely elicit more than a mutter. They’ve adapted to predictable unpredictability.
(17) A BATTERY OF TESTS. “Why switching to fully electric cars will take time” – the BBC has the story.
…Other companies, including Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover and Honda have made similar pledges.
These are undoubtedly ambitious plans – but it is important to recognise their limitations.
They are not saying they will get rid of diesel or petrol cars completely. They are simply promising to make electrified versions of them available.
It is also important to recognise what “electrified” actually means.
It can, of course, refer to fully electric battery powered vehicles. But it can also be used to describe hybrids – and hybrids come in many forms
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Don’t Say Velcro” is a pretty wild musical in which Velcro® protects its trademark!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Edd Vick, Keith Kato, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
(1) EVERYBODY NEEDS A HOBBY. They look like inanimate objects auditioning for parts in an N.K. Jemisin novel. What they really are is more easily explained: “How stone poses became a surreal project”.
“Sometimes people assume they must be Photoshopped, but that would be more of a technical challenge than what I actually do, which is throw the rock into the air – or ask a friend to throw it for me – and photograph it while it is up there.
“That way the light and shadow position themselves correctly on the rock without any further intervention.”
(2) GRAPHIC ARTS AND SCIENCE. In “What’s your science teacher doing in a comic book?”, the Washington Post’s Erin Blakemore discuses “S.T.E.A.M. Within The Panels: Science Storytelling Through Comic Books, Comic Strips, and Graphic Novels”, currently on exhibit at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Space is massive, time is infinite, and the future is limitless. But, with comic books, the massive, the infinite, and the limitless are broken down into individual panels, discrete moments of time that readers ingest and process at their own pace. From the factual to the fantastic, comic books and graphic stories show the application of science in the modern world and well beyond, one panel at a time.
Since very early in their history, comics have been inspired by science, resulting in stories that range from hopeful to bleak, utopian to dystopian, and somewhere in between. In “S.T.E.A.M Within the Panels” we look at how science has been depicted in comics and narrative literature. Some of the pieces are explicitly connected to science, while others reflect reactions to science. Others still are, in the tradition of science fiction, springboards to speculation based on scientific ideas. In all, they show how comics project the complicated and often contradictory ways that the public perceives science.
Includes the work of the following artists and creators: Jordan Clark, Matt Dembiciki, Kata Kane, Sean Gorman, Jay Hosler, Vince Underwood, Paul Hoppe, Magret de Heer, Matteo Farinella, Katie McKisock, Rosemary Mosco, Damion Scott, James Harvey, Orion Zangara, Paul Sizer, Vasco Sobral, Roxanne Bee, D.M. Higgins, Kelly Phillips, Matthew R. McDaniel, and more!
(3) CHOWCAST. Scott Edelman invites you to Brunch on Eggs Benedict with A. Merc Rustad in Episode 45 of Eating the Fantastic.
A. Merc Rustad has published fiction in Lightspeed, Uncanny, Shimmer, and other magazines, and their short story “How To Become A Robot In 12 Easy Steps” was included in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015. They were on that weekend’s Nebula ballot in the short story category for “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door,” which is included in their debut short story collection So You Want to Be a Robot, described by Publishers Weekly as “unmissable.”
We discussed some terrible writing advice which messed with their head and the way they got over it, how the Redwall series by Brian Jacques turned them from a reader to a writer, why some fan fiction doesn’t get the fan fiction label while other fan fiction does, the reason the animated television series Beast Wars: Transformers was such a major influence both professionally and personally, why they almost destroyed their Nebula-nominated story “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door,” the secrets to assembling a short story collection, and more.
(4) A ROYAL WEDDING. TrekMovie.com found a funny video clip to run at the end of their news flash “Terry Farrell and Adam Nimoy To Wed”:
Congratulations are in order for two members of the Star Trek family. Over the weekend Star Trek: Deep Space Nine star Terry Farrell confirmed that she was engaged to be married to Adam Nimoy, son of Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy. The news first came via Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz and was confirmed by Terry via Twitter.
— Scott Mantz (@MovieMantz) August 18, 2017
(5) CRAFT TIME. The weapon for the chosen one has been forged.
My son was at his blacksmithing camp yesterday. He came home with a knife "forged in the dark of an eclipse."
I am so proud.
— Sigrid Ellis (@sigridellis) August 22, 2017
(6) DESTROYING SF IN PRINT. The Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction/Uncanny Magazine Year 4 Kickstarter reached the Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction PHYSICAL BOOK STRETCH GOAL.
Everybody who backs for just that or at $50 and above is getting a FANCY BOOK!
And in another update, they posted a new Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction personal essay:
Here is today’s new Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction personal essay (edited by Nicolette Barischoff). These essays, much like their counterparts in the previous Destroy Kickstarters, will feature disabled creators sharing what it is like being a disabled person in the science fiction community. Shine on, Space Unicorns.
“After the Last Chapter” by A.C. Buchanan
…The Chrysalids was different. The edge of panic started to seize me when I read it. I knew it was saying something deeply personal to me; was too scared to contemplate what.
The novel is set in northern Canada, some years after a global nuclear war, in a society ruled by religious extremism which denounces any biological mutation or atypicality as the work of the devil. This is a world in which disabled people are either killed or sterilised, then banished from society. The book follows a group who are forced to conceal their telepathic abilities for fear of their lives. At the conclusion of the novel they are rescued by a woman from the island country of Sealand, where these telepathic abilities are both common and viewed as a positive stage in evolution.
In retrospect, it’s obvious why this work was so important to me. I was both autistic and queer, only partially aware of both, in a conservative country where neither was acceptable. I tried—and failed—to find a balance between the inevitable violence that would follow any expression or exploration of my reality, and the slower, but no less destructive, intense denial of any sense of self. I spent my teens careering between rebellion and obsessive rule following, between internalised self-hatred and burning anger, eventually determining that no matter what I did, the parts of my person I did not yet know to call autistic would always be suppressed whenever they dared to show themselves.
(7) VACUUM PACKED. The Verge has ranked “18 space suits from science fiction, from worst to best”. Here’s one they’re very fond of:
One of my absolute favorite space suits appeared long before real humans went into space: it’s in the 1950s Tintin comics (and later cartoons) Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon. These suits aren’t what we ended up using: they’re hard armor with a bubble helmet rather than lighter cloth, and seem cumbersome to wear and walk around in, not to mention specifically fitted to each person (and dog!)
But, they’re still a beautiful, iconic design that did draw on some real concepts. While they certainly predate the space age, and Hergé does depict the suits in use on the Moon, as well as a couple of points where they’re being constructed and fixed, which means that he did put some thought into how these theoretical space suits might have functioned.
(8) COMICS SECTION. Mike Kennedy appreciates the astrophysical humor in yesterday’s In The Bleachers.
(9) WHAT DO THE SIMPLE FOLK DO? Nancy Kress told her Facebook followers:
Working on draft three of a novel, an insanely complicated sort-of-space-opera-with-physics that STILL has too many inconsistencies in the timeline. I swear, my next book will be single-viewpoint, near-future, on-Earth, and short. Possibly a haiku.
(10) WIELDING THE HAMMER. A new take on Thor:
In a flash, the Marvel heroes are offered a gift: to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who came before them! Today, Marvel release GENERATIONS: THE THUNDER written by Jason Aaron with art by Mahmud Asrar. In this new and exciting story, Jane Foster meet a version of Thor she’s never met before – one who has not yet picked up the hammer.
(11) HEALTHY SCRATCH. You won’t be seeing this actor in the Han Solo movie after all: “Michael Kenneth Williams’ Role Cut From ‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Movie Amid Reshoots” reports Deadline.
“I felt great about what I created with the directors that I worked with,” said Williams, who was cast in the Han Solo origin story by original helming duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who exited in June. “It is what it is.”
“When Ron Howard got hired to finish out the film, there were some reshoot issues that needed to be done in regards to my character, in order for it to match the new direction which the producers wanted Ron to carry the film in,” Williams told Deadline. “And that would have required me on a plane a month ago to London, to Pinewood, to do reshoots. But I’m here, on location in Africa. It’s scheduling. I’m not going to be back on the market until the end of November after [his SundanceTV series] Hap and Leonard, and for them to wait that long for me, that would have pushed back the release date, which I believe is in May 2018. They wanted me now; I couldn’t go. So they had to clip-clip-clip.”
Plot and character details had been kept under wraps, but Williams said he played a half-human, half-animal in the film and that “we created a kick-ass character, in my opinion. I’m proud of it.”
Original ”Krazy Kat” hand-drawn and signed illustration by George Herriman, rendered in multi-color ink and watercolor. An extremely popular comic strip created by Herriman in 1913, Krazy Kat depicts the unlikely love triangle of a cat, a mouse and a dog: Krazy Kat, Ignatz Mouse and Officer Bull Pupp. Krazy Kat’s naive, unrequited love for Ignatz is consistently and unceremoniously rewarded by bricks hurled to the back of his head, thrown by the cantankerous mouse. Officer Bull Pupp does his best to protect Krazy Kat, whom he not so secretly loves, from Ignatz’ relentless brick attacks. In this hand-drawn illustration from the early 1930s, the three march along, holding up their respective offerings: a brick, bobby stick, and umbrella and flower. Signed by Herriman, ”Hey ‘Louie’ – Thine – Geo. Herriman”, drawn for Louis Staub, a New York printer. Krazy Kat ran for almost thirty years, from 1913-1944, a favorite of comic fans and such notables as E.E. Cummings, William Randolph Hearst, Jack Kerouac and Pablo Picasso. Illustration measures 9.5” by 6”. Three hole punches at top and light creasing to edges, otherwise near fine condition.
Other auction highlights:
(13) POPULARIZING SCIENCE. Award-winner Nora Bourbia tells about “My academic poster at the Worldcon75 in Helsinki (Finland), August 2017”.
For the last two years the Worldcon has invited young scientists (PhD student and postdoc level) to present their work to the public audience via a poster and a five minute presentation. I couldn’t miss this great opportunity to do some public engagement and I was really happy to be accepted among 15 others for the academic poster presentation session. The title of my talk was: The tale of the neuroscientist who modifies DNA of mice with viruses.
…It was great to talk to a variety of people, from both scientists in my field to non-scientists. I was happy to see curiosity and have a range of discussions with the Worldcon75 attendees. On top of that I was surprised and very pleased to win the academic poster presentation judged by the panel of the Worldcon75 and sponsored by the BWAWA (Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association). It was really amazing, the panel judged the poster as well as the presentation. I am so happy about this award and to have been part of the Worldcon75.
(14) WHOO – IS TO BLAME? The BBC asks “Has Harry Potter cursed these owls?” There’s a video report at the link.
Since the runaway success of the Harry Potter series some Indonesians have started keeping owls as pets. More owls are being sold and conservationists are worried about the impact on the population in the wild.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Trailer for Every Oscar-Winning Movie Ever with BriTANick” has the smart-alecks at Cracked trying to put every cliché they can into a three-minute video.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rich McAllister.]
(1) WHAT I READ. Mary Robinette Kowal sent several tweets prodding reviewers to do better assessments:
Book reports exist to convince your teacher that you did your homework, which was reading a book.
— Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette) July 8, 2017
To be clear: "I liked it" is also not a book review unless supported by your reasoning. "I liked it" is just a generic opinion.
— Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette) July 8, 2017
When seeking reviews to link here, I’ve been surprised at how very many people start off with brilliantly written story summaries — then the review promptly ends, with very little having been said about what the writer accomplished or what the story adds to the genre.
(2) TOO MANY WORDS. But those reviews we’re complaining about above look like gems beside the work of The Literate Programmer at A Literate Programmer’s Blog who posted his “Hugo Awards – Best Novella” rankings with a confession –
…With the voting deadline for the Hugos coming up on the 15th, I decided that I wouldn’t have the time to read all the books in their entirety, and would instead just read far enough to get a feel for the style….
So I began once again working my way up to the novels, this time reading the novellas….
This Census-Taker by China Miéville was the first of the novellas I dug into. …However, the story definitely has a strange and slow start, so it was easy to move on….
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson sets up a nice inversion right from the beginning…. I didn’t finish it yet, but I expect it to take a rather darker turn eventually, tough not entirely too dark….
Then I picked up Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire and didn’t put it back down until I was done. …
Victor LaValle wrote the other novella I finished in its entirety, The Ballad of Black Tom …
The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boe is another take on Lovecraft… Definitely something I will finish, as I want to know what happens to Vellit….
Last but not least comes Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold. I like what I’ve read so far and it’s entertaining …
Someone else might have spent the time it took to write this post on, oh, I don’t know, reading the rest of these novellas before voting?
(3) BOOK JENGA. Walter Jon Williams describes the “Tower of Dreams”.
So the other night I dreamed I was in the Tower of Definitive Editions, a giant structure literally built from the definitive editions of every book ever written. There was some kind of mechanism that would pluck the book that you wanted from the structure without either damaging the book or destabilizing the tower. (Maybe it stuffed the hole with John Grisham novels or something.)
(4) DON’T LET THE DOOR BANG YOUR BUTT. Tony B. Kim at Crazy4ComiCon does not sympathize with what he calls “Mile High Comics breakup letter to San Diego Comic-Con” by owner Chuck Rozanski. Kim devotes several paragraphs mocking him as a “dinosaur” in “Comic-Con has changed and it sucks…”.
I cringe whenever I hear someone say that ‘the show has changed’ in a negative context. The show hasn’t just changed, the world has changed and certainly no one has felt it more than the publishing industry. We all know change is hard but writing letters and blaming everyone else for your business woes sounds like an entitled kid that wants to take his ball and go home. Chuck had 4 1/2 decades of pursuing what he loved and built one of the most noteable shops in history- hashtag #FirstNerdWorldProblems. I want good men and companies like Chuck and Mile High to win and get the respect they deserve. No doubt he has paid his dues and has committed his life to providing comics to a legion of adoring fans. My hope is that he and his business continues to grow each year without relying on Comic-Con business. However, after his letter, I won’t shed a tear for him and I hope Comic-Con International doesn’t either. Chuck, just go to the island, Chris Pratt will be along shortly to welcome you.
(5) JUST A LITTLE SMACK. Will this work? “Nasa to send asteroid away from Earth by firing a bullet at it in attempt to save the Earth from future strikes”.
The agency has laid out the plans for its DART mission – where it will send a space capsule the size of a fridge towards an asteroid to shoot it off course. For now, the mission is just a test, but in the future it could be used to save Earth from what scientists say is an underappreciated threat from asteroids.
The mission has now been approved by Nasa and will move into the preliminary design phase, getting ready for testing in a few years.
“DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique – striking the asteroid to shift its orbit – to defend against a potential future asteroid impact,” said Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This approval step advances the project toward an historic test with a non-threatening small asteroid.”
DART’s target is an asteroid that will pass by Earth in 2022, and come back two years later. More specifically, it’s actually two asteroids: a binary system called Didymos B made up of a larger and a smaller rock.
It’s the smaller one that Nasa will try and knock off course. But by using a binary system, scientists will be able to check with more accuracy how well their test has worked.
(6) KEEPING THE STEAM IN SELF-ESTEEM. Jon Del Arroz says 80% of the people responding to his survey recommended he not join SFWA. So our genre’s leading concern troll has worked up a list of what needs to be fixed. With SFWA, that is.
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA
The Twilight Zone episode, “A Penny for your Thoughts,” written by George Clayton Johnson was shopped around as a series where each episode would have a different cast experiencing the ability to read minds.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
(9) CLASSIC ROCHE. Next year’s Worldcon chair Kevin Roche makes a fashion statement in this (public) photo on Facebook.
(10) SOLO ACT. ScreenRant evaluates Ron Howard’s latest news-free tweet.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) July 8, 2017
While Howard’s tweet is amusing, it’s realistic to think that at some point Star Wars fans will grow tired of non-news “news” from the Han Solo set. Since Howard is relatively new to the project, perhaps he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing anything from a film that he hasn’t really taken ownership of yet, his presumably strict NDA aside. Hopefully, that time will come once he not only completes principal photography but the five weeks of reshoots which were previously budgeted into production. Only then will Howard be able to help shape the tone and vision that Han Solo co-writer Lawrence Kasdan originally intended.
(11) DRAGON QUEEN. TIME Magazine’s Daniel D’Addario, in “Emilia Clarke on Why Dragons Are Daenerys’ True Love on Game of Thrones”, has a lengthy interview with Emilia Clarke where she says “I’m five-foot nothing, I’m a little girl” and adds that she thought she would be sacked from Game of Thrones because it was her first job out of drama school and she felt insecure.
(12) FIGHTING WORDS. Jonathan Cook, in “Wonder Woman is a hero only the military-industrial complex could create” on Mondoweiss, says the heroine is “carefully purposed propaganda designed to force-feed aggressive Western military intervention, dressed up as humanitarianism, to unsuspecting audiences.”
My reticence to review the film has lifted after reading the latest investigations of Tom Secker and Matthew Alford into the manifold ways the U.S. military and security services interfere in Hollywood, based on a release of 4,000 pages of documents under Freedom of Information requests.
In their new book “National Security Cinema,” the pair argue that the Pentagon, CIA and National Security Agency have meddled in the production of at least 800 major Hollywood movies and 1,000 TV titles. That is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg, as they concede:
“It is impossible to know exactly how widespread this military censorship of entertainment is because many files are still being withheld.”
(13) BIG PACIFIER THEORY. Baby’s first quantum-mechanics book: “Something New For Baby To Chew On: Rocket Science And Quantum Physics”.
The books introduce subjects like rocket science, quantum physics and general relativity — with bright colors, simple shapes and thick board pages perfect for teething toddlers. The books make up the Baby University series — and each one begins with the same sentence and picture — This is a ball — and then expands on the titular concept.
In the case of general relativity: This ball has mass.
But some of the topics Ferrie covers are tough for even grown-ups to comprehend. (I mean, quantum physics? Come on.)
(14) SLOW DEATH. A Ghost Story may be too slow for some: “Grief Hangs Around At Home In ‘A Ghost Story'”.
I should mention that the film is virtually without plot, so it requires some patience. Major stars and that title notwithstanding, A Ghost Story is not a Saturday-night date movie. More a provocative art film in the European sense. Though barely 87 minutes, it unfolds in long, static shots, most of them without faces to hang onto. It’s almost a film without genre, and by the end it’s become a story untethered from time itself.
(15) A SERIOUS HARRY HABIT. The 100,000 UKP Potter habit: “Harry Potter fan from Cardiff spends £100K on memorabilia”.
Her collection features posters, scarves in the house colours, broomsticks and the official Harry Potter magazines – with the memorabilia costing more than £40,000.
The rest has been spent travelling to Orlando in Florida to the film studios and more recently to Harry Potter World in both London and America.
(16) AVAST ME HEARTIES. Davidoff of Geneva is sold out of the pen and letter opener set shown here, but they have plenty of other golden loot they would love to sell you.
(17) ANOTHER AMAZON PRODUCT. Brazil gets into horror: “The Blair Witches of Brazil”.
Their titles practically shriek at you: Night of the Chupacabras, When I Was Alive, The Necropolis Symphony. Right away you can guess that these are films you might need to watch through your fingers, tales of horror to quicken the heart. But you might not know where they’re from. Step aside Carmen Miranda and The Girl from Ipanema, these frightfests are from Brazil.
(18) NOT GOING APE OVER THIS ONE. The BBC is disappointed by War for the Planet of the Apes.
The first point to make about War for the Planet of the Apes is that it isn’t actually about a war. There are a couple of Skirmishes for the Planet of the Apes and one brief Battle for the Planet of the Apes, but the all-out humans-v-hairies conflict that the title promises is nowhere to be seen. And that’s one reason why the film, for all of its technical wizardry and daring solemnity, is a let-down.
(19) GOOD NIGHT. Next year’s CONvergence GoH Elizabeth Bear signs off from this year’s con:
Good night Batgirls
Good night catgirls
Good night Buckys
Good night Chewies
Good night dinos
Good night Kal-Els#cvg2017
— ? Elizabeth Bear ? (@matociquala) July 9, 2017
— ? Elizabeth Bear ? (@matociquala) July 9, 2017
(20) LAST WORD. John Hertz is never impressed when I use idioms as I please.
— Language Log (@LanguageLog) July 8, 2017
(21) DARTH HOMER. Here’s a selection of YouTube videos in which Darth Vader is voiced variously by Clint Eastwood, Nicholas Cage and Arnold Schwarzenegger. John King Tarpinian declares the Homer Simpson version to be the funniest.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) MORE, PLEASE. Here’s a provocative (in a good way) question:
If one book you love by a living author could get a sequel, what would it be?
— Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) June 25, 2017
(2) NOMINEE REVIEWING. Marco Zennaro is making progress in his Hugo reading, adding reviews as he goes along. Here’s the latest addition to “The Hugo Awards 2017 Finalists: Best Novels”.
Death’s End by Cixin Liu Death’s End is the conclusion of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by world acclaimed author Liu Cixin. The first installment of the series won the prestigious Hugo Award for best novel.
I finished reading the story a couple of days ago, but it is still stuck in my head. More I think about it, more I come to realize how adroitly woven it is. All the elements, themes, concepts from the three books fit together perfectly at the end, giving birth to a logically self-consistent, scientifically sound (and deeply terrifying) cosmology.
I also like how this third book manages to color what would have been an otherwise plot-driven hard sci-fi book, with very human, emotional, moments. Cheng Xin ethical struggles, and Yun Tianming love are some of the best elements of the story.
The story begins during the fall of Constantinople, and then moves backs to the event of the previous novels: after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to coexist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent…
Hugo worthy? Yes! It was one of the books I nominated.
Was it part of a slate? No
(3) COMPELLED. In a review for Strange Horizons, Alexandra Pierce works hard to explain the complex world of Jo Walton’s novel Necessity.
On the philosophical side, the interactions of Apollo and Hermes demonstrate how gods are themselves constrained by higher powers: both by Zeus, father of all the gods, and Necessity. As the title suggests, the compulsion of Necessity is an important aspect of the novel. It’s a force that not even gods can avoid, and it can even be used to avoid the potentially damaging aspects of time travel, of getting stuck in difficult situations: if Necessity says you must do something later in your timeline, you can’t be stuck somewhere else. Complementing this is a strong focus on the free choices of humans to undertake either stupid or worthy actions, in politics and personal relationships and everything else—and the contention that this is a noble part of the human condition.
(4) BRONZE PLATE SPECIAL. The other day I Scrolled about the “Dendra panoply, the oldest body Armour from the Mycenaean era” – never suspecting my friend, archeologist Louise Hitchcock, has personally worn a replica.
After you’ve looked at the picture, check out Minoan Architecture and Urbanism: New Perspectives on an Ancient Built Environment edited by Quentin Letesson and Carl Knappett, which includes the co-authored article “Lost in Translation: Settlement Organization in Postpalatial Crete – A View from the East” by Louise A. Hitchcock and Aren M. Maier. The book is available for pre-order, with a release date of September 23.
(5) IMMORTAL CATS. No one can forget them once she’s told their story — “Mog author Judith Kerr, 94, to publish new book Katinka’s Tail”.
Almost 50 years after the appearance of one of the most famous felines in children’s books, Mog creator Judith Kerr is to publish a book inspired by her latest pet cat, Katinka. The much-loved author and illustrator, who celebrated her 94th birthday last week, is to publish Katinka’s Tail in the autumn.
The story of a “perfectly ordinary cat with a not-so-ordinary tail” was inspired by Kerr’s observations of her cat, the ninth in an inspirational line. “She is a ridiculous-looking white cat with a tabby tail that looks as though it belonged to somebody else,” she said. It was watching the “bizarre” behaviour of her first family pet, Mog – which included licking her sleeping daughter’s hair – that inspired the eponymous stories beloved by generations of children.
(6) BIGGER ON THE OUTSIDE. The Last Knight, an unimpressive number one at U.S. box offices this weekend, did better overseas — “No. 1 ‘Transformers’ hits new low with $69-million domestic debut, but is saved by global box office “.
“Transformers: The Last Knight,” the fifth installment in the blockbuster franchise from Michael Bay, may have topped the weekend, but all the robot-smashing has gotten a bit rusty at the box office.
The Paramount film, which opened Wednesday, took in $45 million in the U.S. and Canada over the weekend, placing it in the No. 1 spot ahead of returning titles “Cars 3” and “Wonder Woman.” When factored into its five-day debut, “The Last Knight” grossed a franchise low of $69 million.
….The latest installment, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins and features a new mythology involving King Arthur and Stonehenge, cost $217 million to make. And however squeaky “The Last Knight’s” debut may have been domestically, the film took in an Optimus Prime-sized number overseas. It earned $196 million from its first 40 markets — with $123 million of that haul coming from China.
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA
Anyway, he was – Olan Soule (1909-1994).
Soule’s voice work on television included his 15-year role (1968-1983) as Batman on several animated series that were either devoted to or involved the fictional “Dark Knight” superhero
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY DYSTOPIAN
(10) LINE DIRECTOR. While being interviewed about his new assignment directing the Han Solo movie, Ron Howard reminisced that right after he and his wife saw Star Wars they loved it so much they got right back in line and waited to see it again.
As news of the 1977 film Star Wars began to unfold, Howard said he became “so curious.” He and his wife went to see it on the first day of release and were “so moved by the movie. It was all the things you dream you’re going to experience in the movies.”
Although they had stood in line for two hours to see it, when Howard and Cheryl came out, they threw each other a look and decided to see it again immediately — standing in line for another 90 minutes.
Which made me wonder — how did Ron Howard not see this movie at a free pre-release screening? After all, I did — along with many other LASFSians.
(11) WHY IT HAPPENED. Carl Slaughter recommends, “For those in shock or scratching their heads over the Han Solo project shakeup, Mr. Sunday Movie offers an explanation that seems to make sense.”
(12) EQUIVALENCIES. Jesse Hudson makes clear there are some usages of alternate history that have worn on him, in his “Review of Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore” at Speculiction.
Its Jonbar point the American Civil War, Bring the Jubilee looks into the idea ‘what if the South won’? The story of Hodge Backmaker, son of a poor farmer in what’s left of the United States of America (essentially the Union), the young man breaks free of his rural home at an early age and heads to New York City—an impoverished metro compared to the grand, lavish cities of the Confederate States of America. Getting lucky and finding work with a book printer, Hodge spends the next few years of his life learning the trade. And he learns much more. The book printer’s essentially a front, namely that of printing propaganda and counterfeiting money, Hodge learns of ongoing secret operations to build a Grand Army and restore the United States to its former glory.
While many readers might expect such an early effort of alternate history to go the black and white route of vilifying the South by portraying them as tyrannical victors while glorifying the North as honorable victims, instead, the South is not portrayed as a slave-loving region which stamps the poor further into the ground, rather simply an economically and politically aggressive government bent on empire. In other words, Moore spins the tables… to look something like the North. This is all a convoluted manner of saying Bring the Jubilee is more interested in finding common ground between reality and the alternate reality, than it is putting the 8 millionth nail in the coffin of ‘slavery is bad’.
(13) EUROCON REPORT. Alqua shares the many highlights of “Eurocon 2017 (U-con) in Dortmund” at Fandom Rover.
The evening concert on Friday was called A night to remember. I was a little bit sceptical if it would be really a night I will remember for long, but I was wrong. There were few artists presenting their pieces. We were able to hear people playing guitar and theremin, reciting poetry or “interpreting alien poetry”. But the best pieces of this evening were songs played by Dimitra Fleissner on her harp and the ATS show by Gata. Music and dance were quite different but they both left me astonished and I will be looking forward for another possibility to see one of these artists performing.
(14) DISSENTING VOICE. Brad R. Torgersen deems “cultural appropriation” of no concern in his Mad Genius Club post titled: “If you’re not appropriating culture, you’re not paying attention”.
Clearly, nobody owns culture. So why do we worry about appropriating it?
(Cough, when I say “we,” I mean American progressives and Social Justice Zealots who clearly have too much time on their hands, cough.)
My take: If you’re a science fiction or fantasy writer, you have more to say on this topic than anyone. Because you’re extrapolating futures, presents, and pasts. Alternative histories. Possible horizons. The “What if?” that makes SF/F so much fun in the first place. There are no rules which you aren’t automatically authorized to break. The entire cosmos is your paint box. Nobody can tell you you’re doing it wrong.
Are we really going to be dumb enough to pretend that SF/F authors of demographics X, Y, or Z, cannot postulate “What if?” for demographics A, B, and C?
We’re not even talking about homework — which is a good idea, simply because some of your best syntheses will occur when you take Chocolate Culture and Peanut Butter Culture — kitbash them together — and come up with the inhabitants of a frontier planet for your thousand-year-future interstellar empire.
We’re talking about authors voluntarily yoking their creative spirits to somebody else’s pet political and cultural hobbyhorses. A game of rhetorical, “Mother, may I?”
(15) WEIRD TECH. Labeling produce with lasers instead of paper: “M&S says labelling avocados with lasers is more sustainable”.
M&S will sell avocados bearing what look like pale tattoos, showing a best-before date and origin.
Peeling away the traditional labelling will save 10 tonnes of paper and five tonnes of glue a year, says M&S.
More of its fruit and vegetables may be laser-branded in future, the retailer says.
“The laser just takes off one layer of skin and instead of inking it or burning it, the skin retracts and leaves a mark,” says Charlie Curtis, senior produce agronomist at Marks and Spencer.
“What we’re putting onto the fruit is country of origin, best before date and there’s a short code so you can put it through quickly at the [checkout] till.”
(16) JUST WEIRD. The new Canadian Toonie glows in the dark.
Canadians may now have a slight advantage when it comes to digging for lost change in sofa cushions and car seats; the Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled what it described as the world’s first glow-in-the-dark coin in circulation.
The specially designed two-dollar coin, or toonie, as it’s known in Canada, features two people paddling in a canoe as the northern lights – vivid in green and blue – dance high above them. When the coin is put in the dark, the aurora borealis glows softly, thanks to a new ink formulation that contains luminescent material.
The coin, part of a collection created to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, also ranks as the world’s first coloured bimetallic coin, said a mint spokesperson. “Only the core of the $2 coin is coloured and the glow effect makes the aurora borealis part of the design look lifelike,” said Alex Reeves.
(17) UNABOMBER INVESTIGATION. Polygon’s article “The FBI kept a list of D&D players as part of its hunt for the Unabomber”.
It appears that in 1995 the FBI made a sincere effort to investigate a group of D&D players. It suspected them of having a connection with the Unabomber, a terrorist named Theodore Kaczynski who spent the better part of two decades mailing people explosives.
Step one was to dig back into the past of TSR and the role-playing hobby as a whole. In so doing, the FBI put together a pretty decent three-page history, if I do say so myself. It also came up with a list of armed and dangerous individuals who were “known members of the Dungeons & Dragons” that it pulled from TSR’s own computer system.
David Klaus sent the link along with his comments:
The fishing expedition into TSR as a cocaine front would appear to be sparked by cultural bigotry. Unable to find real crime, to justify his existence, local FBI agent investigates legitimate business run by “weirdos” playing a game Pat Robertson says is Satanic. (This would be in keeping with the Secret Service act of stupidity against Steve Jackson Games at about the same time.) Again, having no evidence of crime, just prejudiced opinion, the personal histories of all corporate officers are gathered, civil rights being violated, the company computers are invaded and lists of game purchasers are kept on file. And that Gary Gygax! He answers his mail! He ‘s a Libertarian Party member! He had a difficult divorce! He’s eccentric! Somebody whose credibility can’t be judged says he’s “frightening”! His business makes money! He spends his own money as he pleases! The file included allegations he breaks drug and gun laws. (If there were evidence, why didn’t they make an arrest? Perhaps because there wasn’t?) We’re incompetent to find the Unabomber, and this guy uses a computer. It might be him, yeah, that’s the ticket! Let’s drop some hints among his friends and watch them get paranoid about each other! Since we couldn’t find evidence, let’s see if one of them will manufacture some out of fear! Scare ’em enough, and they’ll say anything. These Flatfeet Keystone Cops are supposed to protect us from foreign terrorism. Right.
(19) THE WAKING LAND. Strange Horizons reviewer Mark Granger finds much to like in The Waking Land by Callie Bates.
Callie Bates’s strength lies in how quickly and succinctly she lays down the plot without making it complicated, a great feat when you consider the story is told in the first person; Elanna’s view point restricts us to what she is seeing and hearing, but never distracts from the bigger picture—and Bates manages to cleverly insert plot points along the way without them appearing to be shoe-horned in. I was immediately sympathetic to Elanna’s plight, her confused and conflicted state: the fact that everything she has been taught—from history to basic morals—is falling down around her makes her someone you want to side with. In a lesser writer’s hands Elanna’s character could have easily become whiny, but Bates makes her a strong, opinionated woman, yet one who is forced to have her mind opened to something beyond herself.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, David K.M. Klaus, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Chip Hitchcock, and Louise Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]
(1) MORE CORE. Some might wonder if James Davis Nicoll has hit peak trollage with his latest list, “Twenty Core Problematic Speculative Fiction Works Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Some might thank him for listing their favorite book.
As with the previous core lists, here are twenty Problematic Speculative Fiction Works chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field 1 and in this case, the likelihood of encountering their avid fans. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you should consider or the only twenty books whose fans may some day corner you so they can expound at length on the virtues of these books.
Here are the first three on his list of 20 —
(2) YOUNG PERSON WATCHES OLD SF. Echo Ishii’s next excursion into old sf TV series has a William Shatner connection – “SF Obscure: TekWar”.
Tek War is based on William Shatner’s TekWar books, ghostwritten by Ron Goulart. There are about nine books in the series. The show started as a series of two-hour TV movies and then a proper second season, from what I can figure out. Open to corrections.
(3) THE SOUND OF WHO. Some of the more, ahem, “experimental” Dr Who soundtracks. “12 ‘Doctor Who’ Jazz Funk Greats” at We Are Cult.
The Sea Devils (1972)
A relentless barrage of white noise that was the result of a life or death struggle between sonic terrorist Malcolm Clarke and the Radiophonic Workshop’s massive EMS Synthi 100, otherwise known as the ‘Delaware’. Anticipates, at various points, Throbbing Gristle, Metal Machine Music, Frank Zappa’s Jazz From Hell and – in its calmer moments – Eno & Fripp’s No Pussyfooting. A BDSM specialist’s shag tape.
(4) DON’T RUN, WALKAWAY. The Reason interview with Cory Doctorow, “Cory Doctorow on Cyber Warfare, Lawbreaking, and His New Novel ‘Walkaway'”, is also is available on YouTube.
Katherine Mangu-Ward: Do you think that the underlying conditions of free speech as it is associated with dubious technologies, are they getting better or worse?
Cory Doctorow: There is the—there is a pure free speech argument and there’s a scientific argument that just says you know it’s not science if it’s not published. You have to let people who disagree with you—and who dislike you—read your work and find the dumb mistakes you’ve made and call you an idiot for having made them otherwise you just end up hitting yourself and then you know your h-bomb blows up in your face, right?
And atomic knowledge was the first category of knowledge that scientists weren’t allowed to freely talk about—as opposed to like trade secrets—but, like, scientific knowledge. That knowing it was a crime. And so it’s the kind of original sin of science. But there’s a difference between an atomic secret and a framework for keeping that a secret and a secret about a vulnerability in a computer system. And they’re often lumped together….
(5) DID YOU KNOW? Complaints Choirs took their inspiration from a conversation in Helsinki.
It all got started during a winter day walk of Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen in Helsinki. Perhaps it was due to the coldness of the day that they ended up discussing the possibility of transforming the huge energy people put into complaining into something else. Perhaps not directly into heat – but into something powerful anyway.
In the Finnish vocabulary there is an expression “Valituskuoro”. It means “Complaints Choir” and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen thought: “Wouldn´t it be fantastic to take this expression literally and organise a real choir in which people sing about their complaints?”
As complaining is a universal phenomenon the project could be organised in any city around the world. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen offered the concept to different events where they were invited as artists – but it was only after Springhill Institute in Birmingham got excited about the idea that the First Complaints Choir became a reality.
And here’s a detailed plan for starting a complaints choir in your town.
STEP 1 – Invite People to Complain
Invite people from your city to join the complaints choir. Distribute flyers, spread posters and write a press release. Everybody can join, no singing skills required! The more diverse the participants the better. From pensioner to teenager, everybody has something to complain about. The people that sign up for the choir send in their complain before the first meeting….
(6) RECOMMENDED. Professional filker Miracle of Sound has a released a Wonder Woman song.
I walk a wild new world
The strangest sights surround me
I grow into
This sense of wonder that I’ve found
There is pain
There is joy
There is so much they destroy
Every soul here is a two way battleground
(7) TODAY’S DAY
Octavia Butler Day
Here are links to the first five of a dozen posts BookRiot has published in honor of the day.
- Science Fiction Short Story Collections by Authors of Color – Amy Diegelman
- Fear and Butler in America – Jessica Pryde
- Fierce: The Short Fiction of Octavia Butler – Cassandra Neace
- A Smurfette in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Octavia’s Legacy – Priya Sridhar
- LUMINESCENT THREADS: Knowing Octavia Butler Through a Community That Loves Her – Deya
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
(9) FROM SOMEBODY’S MOUTH TO GOD’S EAR. Yesterday it was (supposedly) speculation. Today’s it’s a done deal. The Hollywood Reporter says “Ron Howard to Direct Han Solo Movie”.
“I’m beyond grateful to add my voice to the Star Wars Universe after being a fan since 5/25/77,” Howard tweeted Thursday afternoon. “I hope to honor the great work already done & help deliver on the promise of a Han Solo film.”
Howard, who directed 1995’s Apollo 13 and won an Oscar for helming 2002’s A Beautiful Mind, comes to the Han Solo film with several connections to George Lucas and the worlds of Lucasfilm. He appeared in Lucas’ 1973 breakout film American Graffiti and helmed Lucas’ 1988 pet fantasy project Willow. Howard also revealed on a podcast in 2015 that Lucas had approached him to direct the 1999 Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace.
(10) GONE IN SIXTY DIGITS. Another unexpected side-effect of tech: “‘How I could have stolen my old car using my smartphone'”.
Charles Henderson loved his “awesome” convertible, particularly the fact that he could start, lock and unlock it remotely via his mobile phone.
It was one of the first connected cars that synchronise wirelessly with smartphones for entertainment and work purposes.
But after he sold the vehicle, he was astonished to discover that he could still control it using the associated smartphone app.
“I could have found out where the car was, unlocked it remotely, started it and driven off with it,” he tells the BBC.
Mr Henderson, from Austin, Texas, is global head of X-Force Red, IBM’s offensive security group, so he knows a thing or two about security. He tests companies’ defences, both physical and digital.
(11) NEXTGEN ST. BERNARD. (Video) “The soft 3D-printed robot that could come to the rescue”.
Engineers at the University of California are working on a soft legged robot that can navigate difficult terrain. Its complex design has been achieved through 3D printing.
One possible use for the robot would be to help in search and rescue operations – perhaps in a collapsed building. Its legs can alternate between walking, crawling and climbing.
(12) TIME MACHINE OUT OF ORDER? Tech failure: “California earthquake alarm sounded – 92 years late”.
A computer error caused the US Geological Survey (USGS) to issue the false alarm about the magnitude 6.8 quake.
The quake actually took place in 1925 when it laid waste to the city of Santa Barbara and caused 13 deaths.
In a statement, the USGS said its computers had “misinterpreted” data causing the alarm to be wrongly issued.
News organisations across the US received the emailed alert about the quake which, if it had been real, would have been one of the largest ever recorded in California.
Few organisations reacted directly to the news because it was dated 29 June 2025 – exactly 100 years after the actual event took place.
The LA Times, which uses AI-based software to automatically write up the USGS alerts, did issue a news story based on the alarm notice.
(13) PLANETEXIT. The UK gets ambitious: “Queen’s Speech: Plan aims to secure space sector”.
The stated purpose of the new Bill is to make the UK the most attractive place in Europe for commercial space – including launches from British soil.
(14) DEAR DIARY. Aaron Pound reviews Carrie Fisher’s Hugo-nominated The Princess Diarist at Dreaming of Other Worlds.
Short review: Carrie Fisher found some old diaries she wrote when she was filming Star Wars and having an affair with Harrison Ford. She used them as the basis for a book.
When filming Star Wars
Fisher had a fling with Ford
Now she remembers
(15) HAPPPY NOMINEES. Fangirl Happy Hour is a Hugo-nominated fancast where Ana of The Book Smugglers and Renay of Lady Business team up to discuss books, comics, TV and movies, fandom and pop culture.
Renay: Yeah, I remember telling everybody, “Hey, Bridget’s doing great work, why don’t we nominate her, ” and apparently everybody was already planning to because here she is. I was super excited. And then next category is Best Semiprozine which has you in it! Yay!
Renay: It’s Ana! I’m so excited, The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James. Look at you guys. Look at you on the ballot. so cute!
Ana: I’m very pleased about that. There is a lot of work that goes into the Book Smugglers as you know. I’m happy to be here. There are other amazing nominees in this category and I am like, “Oh fuck.” [laughter]
Renay: Would you have your feelings hurt if I voted for Strange Horizons first and then you second?
Ana: I would, but I would also understand.
Renay: Well I’m gonna put you first, and Strange Horizon second. I was just feeling it out.
Ana: I was very conflicted, because I love Strange Horizons and I think Niall Harrison has done such amazing work for the past few years. And he announced that he’s stepping down from being editor in chief of Strange Horizons and I’m like FUCK so this means that this is the last year that he’s eligible for the Hugos. And I’m like, I think he deserves one? But I also want one!
(16) ANTIQUE VERBIAGE. Brenda Clough takes us on a visit to “The Language Attic” at Book View Café.
Our language is a treasure house. Some of its glories are well-used and well-polished, taken out and set on the table every day. But up in the attic we’ve got some thrilling long-lost terms. This is a series devoted to dragging some of the quainter antiquities out, and dusting them off for you to see.
And today’s fun word is fistiana. Oh, you have a dirty mind. I can see what you’re thinking. No, no — it had nothing whatever to do with X-rated matters. We have pure minds around here, at least at this moment. Maybe later in this series we’ll get some really colorful words. This word’s close relative is boxiana, and both words refer to boxing — pummeling people with your fists.
(17) FOUND IN SPACE. Kyle Hill of Nerdist calls on everyone to “Join Us on the Bizarre Pop Culture Quest that is THE S.P.A.A.C.E. PROGRAM”
As Nerdist‘s resident sci-fientist (TM), there are never enough collisions between science and pop culture. I truly believe that exploring our nerdy passions with science helps appreciate both even more. I’ve tried my best to do this for the last few years with Because Science, but something was missing…oh, right, I wasn’t in sppppppaaaaacccccceeeee!
Starting today, you can watch the first episode of my new Alpha show The S.P.A.A.C.E. Program. It takes all the geeky analysis that I do on Because Science and combines it with a real set, actual production value, and a snarky artificial intelligence. It’s like if Carl Sagan’s COSMOS and Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a weird, long-haired baby. Check out a promo below:
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Aaron Pound, Chip Hitchcock, Jay Byrd, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
Commence appertainment in 5..4…3…2…
(1) BOMBS AWAY. Contrasting Giles Coren’s first novel experience with his own career, Ben Jeapes explains “Why everyone should be a science fiction fan” at Milford SF Writers.
…Ten years later he felt brave enough to make a documentary about it. Links have changed since I first saw it, but search “Giles Coren my failed novel” and you’ll find it. It’s really quite touching as you see the penny begin to drop. He speaks to the reviewers who had slated it. He listens in on a book club tearing it apart. He takes the first chapters to a creative writing course workshop. He tries rereading it himself and finds it unbearable. (He can’t get through the Bad Sex Award-winning passage without breaking down into laughter.) He listenes in awe to the likes of David Mitchell and Jeffrey Archer as they describe their highly disciplined writing habits, and admits to the latter that he had basically been lazy.
And he comes to the conclusion that this was the first novel everyone has – the one that should be written and then spend the rest of eternity in a trunk in the attic. Only, because he was Giles Coren, his got sold for a £30k advance. You sense that even he feels the injustice of this. No one likes being done a favour.
But here’s the thing. Coren was born in 1969. He’s in his late 40s, but I can’t imagine his discoveries and revelations being news to anyone past their late 20s or even late teens. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been spoiled by growing up in the science fiction community, where expertise and experience flow like milk and honey. I read Dave Langford’s columns in 8000 Plus. I went to Milford. I jostled with the large crowd trying to get through the narrow doorway of Interzone acceptance. I knew it took hard work. I knew that if you didn’t think this was your best yet then you didn’t send it in. How did anyone not know that?
Conclusion: everyone should be an sf fan….
(2) WHERE THE IDEAS COME FROM. The Red trilogy features in “The Big Idea: Linda Nagata” today at Whatever.
Next, it occurred to me that if I set the new book even closer to the present time, I might have a chance of pushing beyond the science fiction genre and making inroads into the military thriller market.
Hey, we can all dream.
The Red trilogy was written around a unit of US Army soldiers. Following that similar-but-different philosophy, I decided the new novel would involve a private military company, because that would allow for more freedom with the plot.
Even with the benefit of hindsight, this all still makes sense to me. But in selecting my protagonist, I embarked on a major gamble.
My version of brainstorming is to engage in swiftly typed stream-of-consciousness question-and-answer sessions. It’s the best way I know to develop ideas. I was brainstorming the possible identity of my main protagonist when I typed this:
Hey. Maybe she’s middle aged. (How to kill a novel in one bad move.)
Generally speaking, middle-aged women are not considered to be cool main characters of the sort that commonly inhabit techno-thrillers. So this was a perfect example of the creative and logical parts of my mind contending with one another. The logical part immediately recognized the risk, but the obstinate, defiant, creative part turned out to be in charge.
(3) A STATISTIC. Here’s Clarkesworld’s box score.
30% of our readers, listeners, and story submissions come to us from outside the US. Would be nice to increase that. We can do better.
— clarkesworld (@clarkesworld) June 19, 2017
(4) OPIE TO DIRECT ‘HAN SOLO’? Let’s just drop his name here: “Ron Howard Top Choice To Take Over Han Solo Film?” Deadline has the story.
Deadline hears that Ron Howard has emerged as front-runner to replace Phil Lord & Christopher Miller on the untitled Han Solo Star Wars spinoff film. Disney dropped a shocker this afternoon with the announcement that the duo exited a picture that has been in production since February at London’s Pinewood Studios. This after an inability to recover from creative rifts with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. The latter has been mentioned as possible to step in, but I’m putting my money on Howard.
(5) ‘BOTS! IT HAD TO BE ‘BOTS! I suspect this review is more entertaining than the movie. Nick Schager at The Daily Beast says “‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Is Two-and-a-Half Hours of Racist Robot Torture”.
Those fans will be thrilled to hear that the latest entry in the canon du Bay-hem, Transformers: The Last Knight, more or less picks up right where its predecessor left off—by which I mean, in an orgiastic stew of detonations, jingoism, and sequences in which CGI vehicles make that weird wrink-wronk-wrank-wank noise as they turn into CGI titans. The only thing missing is Wahlberg unsubtly lusting after his offspring. Luckily, though, he’s still playing a character named Cade Yeager—a moniker that would make Keanu Reeves’ Point Break hero Johnny Utah stand up and slow-clap in appreciation—and this time around, he at least has an amusingly floppy new haircut. Oh, and there’s a three-headed Transformers dragon who’s amassed from ancient Autobots who used to hang out with a drunken Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. If you were worried that Bay had lost his touch for sublimely absurd, wantonly steroidal toy cinema, you can lay your fears to rest.
(6) PALEO-HEDGEHOG. Live long enough and you see strange things happen, like 1991 becoming “the good old days” — “Sega Forever makes Genesis classics free on mobile”.
We have no shortage of shiny, life-like HD games these days, but if you’d like to revisit older titles from a bygone era, Sega has got your back. The video game company has just officially launched the first wave of the Sega Forever collection with five titles meant to begin “a retro revolution that will transport players back through two decades of console gaming.” Starting today, the 1991 version of Sonic the Hedgehog, fan-favorite RPG Phantasy Star II, classic arcade-style beat ’em up Comix Zone, platformer Kid Chameleon and Greek mythology-themed beat ’em up Altered Beast will be available on Google Play and iTunes as free ad-supported games. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, your games will even come accompanied by iMessage sticker packs.
(7) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. After reporting the other day that he was too shy to try, Wil Wheaton got to meet David Tennant after all.
IT HAPPENED! IT HAPPENED! I MET DAVID TENNANT! pic.twitter.com/eMzgzqsPlv
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) June 18, 2017
(8) ALIEN TRIPPER. Mark Kaedrin ranks the finalists in another category — “Hugo Awards: Novelettes”. There’s an alien in first place, and another in last place.
So we come to the short fiction categories of this year’s Hugo Awards. This year, I start with the Novelettes, that odd category that fits stories that are longer than a short story but shorter than a novella. If the past several years are any indication, these stories actually tend to be my favorite of the short fiction finalists. Short stories have been almost uniformly a disaster for the past few years (partly the doing of the Puppies, but it was an issue for me even before then). Novellas somehow seem to be bloated and overlong while still missing the depth you get from a novel (with the notable exception of Bujold’s Penric novellas, which I love). Novelettes hit the Goldilocks zone, providing enough space for a complete narrative, but not so much that the story drowns in hooptedoodle. Does the trend continue this year? Let’s find out:
- Touring with the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman – Mysterious alien ships arrive one night without warning. Translators (comprised of formerly abducted humans) emerge and claim the aliens come in peace and don’t want anything. A woman is hired by the government to drive around a translator so that he can see the sights. It turns out that the aliens are intelligent but unconscious, which has some interesting implications. This story works well, with a good exploration of consciousness with the occasional detour into other areas. The ending has a twist that’s pretty easy to see coming (though it does elicit some questions as to the premise of this whole road trip – aren’t there, like, security clearances or something? Is the trip even necessary?), but it works. Lots of open questions, but at least we’re getting something that’s engaging with an interesting idea and trying to hit that sense of wonder that makes SF so great. Short and sweet, this is certainly not perfect, but it’s got some solid ideas and it works well enough…
(9) NOMINATED NOVELLA. Elan Samuel praises “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe – Kij Johnson” at Warbler Books.
A strange and delightful congruity connects The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe with the last Hugo-nominated book I reviewed, The Ballad of Black Tom. Both reach back toward Lovecraft, grab hearty handfuls of story, and mold it into works that manage the requisite respect for the author of such incredible tales while openly challenging his prejudices. You can refresh your memory about how Victor LaValle elegantly reframes Lovecraft into a tale of loss and revenge in last month’s review. We’re here today to talk about Kij Johnson’s brilliant, expansive, and enthralling The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.
(10) INSIDE THE VOTING BOOTH. Ariela Housman of Geek Calligraphy gives readers the lowdown about how she’s voting in three categories on her Hugo ballot – including a thorough discussion of Best Fanartist, which is something you rarely see. Here’s part of her take on the Best Novel finalists.
Novels are my favorite thing to read and what I read the most of. I had already read a number of the nominees before nominations opened, much less after they closed.
- A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers I adored The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which was an utterly delightful reading experience. But it lacked the emotional punch that the sequel delivers here. I’m a sucker for “what does it mean to be a person?” books, and this one comes at it from both ends in a devastating way.
- Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee I will admit that I couldn’t finish this one, which I started before award season. I bounced off it in much the same way I bounced off Ancillary Justice my first time around. Serious culture shock, working too hard to absorb the world to be able to sit back and enjoy the story. Though I finished AJ on my first attempt, it took me until my third readthrough to just enjoy it. I suspect it will be the same here. As is, I recognize the technical accomplishment already.
(11) FB. After being away for a while Joe Vasicek put a set of fresh eyeballs on Facebook and here’s what he found:
Second, Facebook has become really slutty. Again, first impressions here. It’s really interesting when Facebook has nothing to base their algos off of. I assume from what I’m seeing that the recommendations default to its power users, which at a cursory glance are mostly chicks and dude bros. Also, some of the group recommendations I’m seeing are insanely over the top in terms of sheer raunchiness. Since when did Facebook turn into Potterville?
He’s also a critic of multiracial emojis.
But Joe, what’s the harm in an emoji that reflects your skin tone? Two things. First, social media divides us far more than it unites us. It walls us off into tribes, helping us build our own custom echo chambers full of people who only agree with us. It’s an incubator for much of the divisiveness in society right now. Second, there is a very real effort in the country today to divide us all by race.
(12) THE FRENCH HAVE AN EQUATION FOR IT. Of concern to Traveling Jiants everywhere: “Why suitcases rock and fall over”.
It’s a common experience when dashing for a train or plane while lugging a two-wheeled suitcase.
The bag rocks alarmingly from side-to-side and threatens to overturn.
Now, scientists have investigated this conundrum of everyday physics. Speeding up rather than slowing down can solve the problem, they say.
Alternatively, you can pivot the handle of the suitcase as close to the ground as possible.
French scientists studied a model suitcase on a treadmill to see what goes wrong when a suitcase rocks out of control at high speed. They developed equations to explain why two-wheeled trolleys have a tendency to rock from one wheel to the other.
(13) ON RELIGION. Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica reviews American Gods season 1: “American Gods may be the best show about religion on TV”
The first season of American Gods ends with an image that compacts the many themes of the series into one odd moment. It’s an aerial shot, slowly revealing a line of cars, buggies, and other vehicles crowding the tiny road to a neglected Wisconsin tourist trap called The House on the Rock. Without giving you any spoilers, I can say that this scene captures American Gods‘ perspective on religious faith in America.
And now, with a generous dose of spoilers, I will tell you what I mean by that….
(14) LOST LIGHT. The Wertzone is sarcastic about the need for a Watchmen TV series: “Damon Lindelof penning frankly unnecessary WATCHMEN adaptation for HBO”.
Scriptwriter Damon Lindelof will be helming the new project, as he continues to play Russian Roulette with his career. He charmed millions of fans with his TV series Lost, only to annoy them with a somewhat confused ending, and then really annoyed lots of people with his scripts for Star Trek (2009) and Prometheus (2012), which were both troubled. More recently, however, he has won plaudits for his work on HBO’s The Leftovers, which recently concluded a three-season run with a lot of critical acclaim and plaudits.
(15) NEW GAME OF THRONES TRAILER. Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres this July. “It may be the first day of summer, but #WinterisHere on 7.16.”
(16) PHILIP “TWO SHEDS” PULLMAN. House Beautiful reports “Author Philip Pullman’s old shed is Shed of the Year 2017 contender”.
This shed has an impressive literary history – it was once owned by renowned author Philip Pullman. He allegedly even wrote His Dark Materials trilogy within it. It was passed down to current owner Ted, who is an author himself. But this shed comes with one strict rule – it must be freely passed on to the next steward of creative endeavours.
(17) STRANGE MAN. There’s a common saying that “Inside every man, there’s X trying to get out.” How often does X = dragon? I Am Dragon (2017) Movie Trailer.
[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]