This trailer first aired last night during the football game. Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes to theaters December 15.
This trailer first aired last night during the football game. Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes to theaters December 15.
(1) NO, IT AIN’T COOL. Indiewire reports “Harry Knowles Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Austin Woman Two Decades Ago, and Drafthouse Owners Didn’t Take Action”.
An Austin-area woman said Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles sexually assaulted her at an Alamo Drafthouse event — but the reason she’s speaking out now is she believes change is coming.
“Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion,” said Jasmine Baker. “I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent.”
The specifics are described at the link. Knowles denied the accusations.
Alamo Drafthouse has severed ties with Harry Knowles, who had a business relationship with the owners, and had cofounded a convention with them.
As a result of the charges, several Ain’t It Cool News staffers have left — Eric “Quint” Vespe, Steve “Capone” Prokopy, and “Horrorella.”
— Eric Vespe (@EricVespe) September 25, 2017
An announcement about my leaving Ain't It Cool News. pic.twitter.com/4vyJIhMycQ
— Steve Prokopy (@SteveProkopy) September 25, 2017
(2) WRITING ABOUT HEINLEIN. Farah Mendlesohn answers some pointed questions about her forthcoming Heinlein book in “Q&A with Ken MacLeod”.
KMM: Heinlein is a hero to and an influence on the ‘right’ of the SF field. I remember many years ago being surprised to hear you being enthusiastic about Heinlein, and I probably asked you something like this: As a feminist of the left, why do you find Heinlein so intriguing?
FJM: Heinlein has always been a hero to parts of the left as well, particularly to the anarcho-left of which I am, loosely, a part both as a feminist and because I’m a Quaker (Quakers invented anarchist decision practice, and it’s interesting that anti-pacifist Heinlein has a soft spot for them). But to return to the question: at the age of 12-20 it was because he was pretty much the only male sf writer writing women who had jobs, adventures, access to engineering jobs, and who got to be spies and ornery grandmas, and be liked by men who weren’t as smart as they. Believe me, when you are a smart girl in school, that’s pretty reassuring. In my late teens and twenties I started to get annoyed with the requirement to be “sexy” but attracted to the arguments about consent; frustrated with the performativity of the romances, and irritated by everyone wanting babies but attracted to the arguments about the different ways to construct families. This time round I’ve been fascinated by the way it’s clear that Heinlein knows what his women are up against; I’ve ended up with very different readings of Podkayne, Friday and Maureen (To Sail Beyond the Sunset) in which all three of them become resisters of other people’s narrative of them.
The crowdfunding appeal has reached 80% of its goal as of today.
(3) HEINLEIN COLLECTIBLES. Keith Kato, President of The Heinlein Society, announces: “Ensign’s Prize Offer now open to Non-Members!” Keith explains —
The “Ensign’s Prize” are multiple titles of pirated Heinlein works that Ginny Heinlein won in a lawsuit. She donated them to The Heinlein Society for fund-raising. Until now we have limited sales only to THS members, but as you can see in the link, purchases are now open to anyone while supplies last. There are different numbers of remaining copies of the various titles, and being a pirated version, the quality is what it is (though surprisingly not bad).
More info at the Society website:
There are some rare editions here to add to your collection. A prime example is the only known hardcover edition of The Notebooks of Lazarus Long with lettering by D.F. Vassallo.
The numbers of available individual copies varies by book with no individual copies of Methuselah’s Children. Only a handful of individual copies of Stranger in a Strange Land (5) are available. All individual copies will be offered for a suggested donation of $60 each except for The Notebooks of Lazarus Long which is offered for a suggested donation of $75 each with shipping & insurance on single books at $6.00 in the US. Overseas shipping will be determined at time of donation.
These books/sets are used as a fundraiser to support projects and programs of The Heinlein Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to paying it forward. Proceeds from these books/sets will be used to support projects and programs of The Heinlein Society such as the scholarship program and Heinlein For Heroes.
This link will take you to a page where you can read a description of the books being offered and then click the “Details” link at the bottom of the page to be directed to the ordering site.
(4) BONES OF THE EARTH. “’Biggest Dinosaur Ever’ Discovered in Argentina” — GeologyIn has the story.
New Species of Dinosaur Is the Largest Land Animal to Ever Walk the Earth
One hundred million years ago, a colossal creature the size of a 737 thundered through the forests of South America, picking trees clean with its head extended five stories in the air and sending ferocious T. rex-like therapods scattering like mice below its trunk-sized legs. It’s the largest dinosaur ever found — a titanosaur so huge that its skeleton can’t even fit into a single room in its home at the American Museum of Natural History. Scientists this week unveiled their first study on the ancient beast alongside its new, official name, Patagotitan mayorum, or, The Giant from Patagonia. Astoundingly, the Big Apple’s biggest resident wasn’t even fully grown when it died (scientists don’t know if it was male or female) — and an even more whopping cousin could be waiting to be uncovered, experts said Wednesday. “This animal [hadn’t] stopped growing at the time of death,” said Diego Pol, an Argentina paleontologist who helped dig it up.
…The scientists reproduced the skeleton in 3-D models, but the specimen was too large to fit in any local museum, Pol said, so they sent a fiberglass cast to New York last year. It has been welcoming visitors to the museum’s dinosaur floor ever since — literally, because its massive skull extends all the way out into the elevator bay. “[It’s] probably one of the world’s great selfie spots,” said John Flynn, the museum’s curator of fossil mammals.
(5) A VACUUM CLOSER THAN SPACE. “Australia commits to establish space agency with no budget, plan, name, deadline …” says The Register.
Mission plan: retrieve lost votes from deep within black hole of democratic disillusionment…
Cash’s statement says the agency “will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement”, but there’s no detail on the agency’s name, budget, start date or anything else that would tell us what it will actually do. The fact that its future existence was first revealed to media in the city of Adelaide suggests one mission: help revive the city’s economy, which has struggled since auto-makers left in recent years (along with many votes for the governing Liberal Party).
(6) MAKE YOURSELF A GIBSON. Martin Morse Wooster says, “I finished Conversations With William Gibson and learned about this story, which was new to me. This is from an episode of the Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy podcast by John Joseph Adams and David Barr Kirtley, who interviewed William Gibson in 2012. This probably took place in the early 1990s.
GEEK’S GUIDE: So when I first started going to science fiction conventions, I heard this funny story about you, and I’ve never been sure if it was true or if it happened the way I heard it, and I was wondering if you knew what I was talking about. It was this story where you go into a hotel to check in, and you say, ‘Hi, I’m Mr. Gibson,’ and everyone acts all shocked at the hotel.”
GIBSON: It was the Beverly Hills Hotel, and I don’t know, somebody had checked me in.It was when I had started doing some contact screenplay work after the ALIEN 3 script. So I got there, and it was like, you know, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. The desk people looked gobsmacked and really unhappy. So the bellman takes me up to this very fancy suite, and in this suite there’s a table lavishly arrayed with very expensive wines and liquors and expensive floral displays, and a bit thing that says, ‘The Beverly Hills Hotel welcomes Mel Gibson.'”
And so I looked at the bellman, and I said, ‘No, no, I’m not him. Take this stuff away.’ And he said, ‘No, no, no, you can keep it.’ And I said, ‘What am I supposed to do with it?” He said, ‘Call some friends, have a party.'”
(7) NAMING CALLS. While the writer’s mostly interested in Republican shenanigans, “8 Notable Attempts to Hack the New York Times Bestseller List” ends with a shout-out to a science fiction immortal.
…[DJ Jean] Shepherd decided that he wanted to get a book on the bestseller list—an imaginary book. “What do you say tomorrow morning each one of us walk into a bookstore, and ask for a book that we know does not exist?” he asked his listeners. The book they decided to ask for was I, Libertine, its author, Frederick R. Ewing, published by Excelsior Press, an imprint of Cambridge University Press. And ask they did…
…What is true, though, is that this book became real through sheer force of will. After only a few months, the story broke: I, Libertine was a hoax. But then it was un-hoaxed: Theodore Sturgeon, a friend of Shepherd’s, actually wrote the book, and Ballantine Books published it.
(8) TODAY’S DAY
The purpose of Batman Day is to celebrate the anniversary of the character’s first ever appearance, which was in Detective Comics #27 way back in May 1939. Since those early comic book appearances, Batman has grown into one of the world’s best-loved and most recognizable fictional characters, and is the focal point of television shows, animated cartoons, video games and Hollywood blockbusters.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) COMICS SECTION.
John King Tarpinian suspects there is something missing after reading The Wizard of Id.
(11) BIT PARTS. After reporting a leak about the forthcoming Star Wars movie, CheatSheet also tells about some of the more interesting appearances in earlier films of the franchise: “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: A Few Major Celebrities Will Make a Surprising Cameo”.
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi still upcoming, John Boyega let confirmation of a few major cameos — specifically, Princes William and Harry — slip out in an interview on BBC Radio (via Screen Rant). As he stated:
I’ve had enough with those secrets. They came on set. They were there. I’m sick of hiding it. I think it was leaked, anyway. There were images. Every time I get asked, I have to dodge it. I’m tired of dodging it. They were there. Tom Hardy was there too.
Hardy is certainly a major cameo. But he’s actually just one of many big names to show up in a film from the Star Wars franchise.
As fans look forward to the surprise appearances that are set to come in The Last Jedi, we take a look back at the history of celebrity cameos in the Star Wars franchise — including some you may not have noticed or heard about.
(12) FAN FEUDS. I was struck by David Gerrold’s observation about fan feuds, from a long post mainly about something else, although I’ve kept the first line for context. What he says about fan feuds is spot on.
Yes, I did ask Jody Wheeler and Carlos Pedraza to back off on the Axanar stuff — not just because of my respect for Alec Peters, but also because of my equal respect for Jody Wheeler and Carlos Pedraza, both of whom I have worked with. Fan-feuding helps no one. It hurts everyone. It destroys possibilities. It destroys opportunities. (I know of two entities who decided not to engage with Jody and Carlos because of their efforts in the anti-Axanar movement.) I speak from a half-century of direct experience on this.
But yeah, my bad. I should know better than to ask fans to disengage from a feud. Especially this one. I should have known better because internecine warfare is always more important than mutual support and partnership in any endeavor. It’s much more fun to have enemies — war is the most profitable human product, because it gives you not only the illusion of power and authority, it creates the opportunity to control how others think and act…
(13) YOUR SECOND-BEST SUIT. Electric Literature thought today is a good time to revisit “The 5 Weirdest Lawsuits About Authors Stealing Ideas”.
Claim: J.K. Rowling stole the word “muggle”
J.K. Rowling has been accused of idea theft, and vice versa, so many times that there’s a whole Wikipedia page for “legal disputes over the Harry Potter series.” The earliest was American writer Nancy Kathleen Stouffer, who sued Rowling for infringement in 1999, when only three of the books had been published (although it was already clear that the series was turning a handsome profit). Stouffer claimed that she’d invented the word “muggle” in her vanity-press book The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, and that another of her works featured a character named Larry Potter. This is thin enough—but the court didn’t just rule that the similarities were too vague to amount to much. It actually found that even Stouffer’s weak evidence may have been fabricated.
Two other cases involve Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and Cassandra Clare’s Darkhunter series.
(14) ON OR OFF THE SHELF? The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna, in “Banned Books Week: Why are illustrated books being challenged more than ever?”, notes that the top two books in the American Library Association’s list of banned books for 2017 were graphic novels. He then looks at graphic novels that censors fund particularly irritating.
Some industry observers say that the spike in challenges to illustrated books can be attributed to the recent rise in the literary form’s popularity and accessibility on bookshelves, as well as the subject matter.
“Graphic novels are more popular and widely read than ever,” said Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an advocacy organization. “Their authors are speaking directly to the real concerns of their audiences in an accessible way.”
Brownstein noted, too, that the illustrated form can attract challenges that other books might not.
“There are many other factors to weigh, including the medium’s reliance on the power of the static image,” he said. “Graphic novels are frequently reduced to a single image or sequence of images that can be removed from the larger context of the work, and used to justify censorship. Comics’ use of images and words give the stories added power that resonates with audiences, and makes works like ‘This One Summer’ and ‘Drama’ even more compelling. These works must be considered as a whole to be fully appreciated. When that happens, the complexity, nuance and sophistication of the stories can be fully appreciated.”
The CBLDF director pointed, as well, to how comics are perceived by many parents and officials. “In many cases, comics are still regarded as lesser reading,” he said. “Some people don’t expect comics to have the kind of complexity or depth that earned ‘This One Summer’ the Caldecott honor and ‘Drama’ a Stonewall honor. We’ve seen cases where comics are challenged because the conversations that they raise were unexpected.”
(15) ALL WRAPPED UP. The Bangor Daily News makes a new novel sound tantalizing: “Kings of fiction: Father and son combine for ‘Sleeping Beauties’”.
In this year of all things King, with nearly two dozen movies, TV shows or miniseries based on Bangor’s own horror-meister in production or on screens, it makes perfect sense to add another Stephen King-thing to what has become a total-immersion experience.
Enter “Sleeping Beauties,” a novel that’s a team effort by Stephen King and his son, Owen. Published by Scribner, it goes on sale on Tuesday, Sept. 25 ($32.50 hardcover).
The duo’s first tandem effort on a novel, “Sleeping Beauties” is an ambitious work that combines some age-old Stephen King themes — the potential end of the world, the battle between good and … well … not so good, if not evil — with a distinctly sci-fi premise.
Simply put: Women around the world are falling asleep, and being covered in wispy cocoons. They may never wake up (and in true Stephen King fashion, those who try to rouse the females from their slumber quickly learn that doing so was a big, bad, bloody mistake).
Is the human race’s demise insured? Will a world with no women become a reality (for a time)? Or is there another option that we just can’t see on this side of the story? Good questions, all
(16) UNDER THE HAMMER. The Daryl Litchfield Collection of Arkham House & H.P. Lovecraft goes on the auction block October 5. So do a great many volumes by Edgar Rice Burroughs and other sff authors.
More than 300 lots of fine literature, from the 18th through the 21st centuries, are included in this exciting auction. Headlining the sale is the Daryl Litchfield collection of Arkham House and H.P. Lovecraft. The collection includes the earliest work by Lovecraft and a near complete collection of Arkham House publications. Many other science fiction and fantasy first editions are also offered, including nearly fifty lots of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels, many in the rare original dust jackets. Also featured are more than fifty lots of Black Sparrow press limited editions of the writings of Charles Bukowski, many signed by the author. Other rare literary works from the last 300 years are also offered, including titles by Dickens, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Stowe, Twain, Wilde, and many others.
See the online version of the catalogue at www.pbagalleries.com
Direct link to the online catalogue: http://www.pbagalleries.com/view-auctions/info/id/434/
To view as ebook: http://pbagalleries.com/content/ecat/626/index.html
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In an Entertainment Weekly video “The Walking Dead cast explains 100 episodes in 30 seconds”.
(18) VIDEO OF YESTERDAY. In March 1971, General Mills introduced the chocolate-flavored Count Chocula and the strawberry-flavored Franken Berry.
[Thanks to Keith Kato, Cat Eldridge, David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Wendy Gale, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories.. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who inquires “Not having read all the Dune books (by Frank Herbert, and then the non-FH prequels), and not remembering all of those I did read… did any of the individual sandworms have names (i.e., not ‘Shai Halud’ (sp?), which was the general name). E.g. ‘Big Fella,’ ‘Spot,’ ‘Masterful Mighty Wriggler of Doom,’ ‘Fluffy’?”]
Britain’s Royal Mail will issue a set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi commemorative stamps on October 12.
STAR WARS:THE LAST JEDI, is blasting its way onto cinema screens from 14 December 2017. To celebrate, we’re proud to announce eight new STAR WARS stamps, limited-edition collectibles and gifts, packed with friendly (and not so friendly) characters.
Beautifully illustrated by UK digital artist, Malcolm Tween, some of the stamps feature secret details, revealed only by UV light.
The iconic stamps, first day covers, and related souvenirs can be pre-ordered now.
(1) TEXAS STYLE. The Austin Chronicle pays tribute to the local sf community then and now — “Writing Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror in Austin”. (Very nice group picture there, too.)
“When I moved to Austin in 1998,” says Christopher Brown, who presents his dystopian debut novel, Tropic of Kansas, at BookPeople this Friday, “it was partly because I could tell that there was a rich fantastic-literature community here, a community of both readers and writers.”
Indeed there was, and had been for years. Brown’s arrival coincided with the 20th anniversary of ArmadilloCon, the homegrown annual sci-fi convention that was not just a celebration of the more fantastic genres of literature and one hell of a fannish good time, but somewhere aspiring writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror could meet and polish their craft via workshops led by their fellow writers from the local scene. In the days of ArmadilloCon’s founding, such writers included Bruce Sterling, Howard Waldrop, Steven Utley, Lisa Tuttle, Tom Reamy, and their beloved mentor, University of Texas anthropology professor Chad Oliver – all members of the Turkey City Writer’s Workshop, a Lone Star coterie that became one of the epicenters of speculative fiction. Of what eventually led, after East Coaster William Gibson had galvanized the field, after enough tons of dream-stained paper had transmediated filmward, to the gritty/glossy mise en scène of the Wachowskis’ Matrix. You know, citizen: cyberpunk. What so much of the future looked like, fictionally, in the Eighties and Nineties.
Brown also landed here while Austin’s fantastic-lit readers and writers still had their own bookstore, one run by ArmadilloCon’s founder. “I remember Willie Siros’ place on West Sixth,” says Brown, “in the building currently occupied by Sandra Bullock’s flower-arrangement-and-money-laundering operation. It was called Adventures in Crime and Space, a specialty science-fiction and mystery bookstore that the community had sustained for a long time.”
Alas, citizen, in the 17th year of the 21st century, Adventures in Crime and Space has gone the way of the space shuttle program, but the rich community it served continues.
(2) POINT OF NO RETURN. Ruth Graham tells why public libraries are finally eliminating the late-return fine at Slate.
In some districts, up to 35 percent of patrons have had their borrowing privileges revoked because of unpaid fines. Only these days, it’s librarians themselves who often lament what the Detroit reporter called “a tragedy enacted in this little court of equity.” Now some libraries are deciding that the money isn’t worth the hassle—not only that, but that fining patrons works against everything that public libraries ought to stand for.
Library fines in most places remain quaintly low, sometimes just 10 cents per day. But one user’s nominal is another’s exorbitant. If a child checks out 10 picture books, the kind of haul librarians love to encourage, and then his mother’s work schedule prevents her from returning them for a week past the due date, that’s $7. For middle-class patrons, that may feel like a slap on the wrist, or even a feel-good donation. For low-income users, however, it can be a prohibitively expensive penalty. With unpredictable costs hovering over each checkout, too many families decide it’s safer not to use the library at all. As one California mother told the New York Times last spring, “I try to explain to [my daughter], ‘Don’t take books out. It’s so expensive.’ ”
(3) THEOLOGICAL PROBLEMS OF THE 21ST CENTURY.
Sometimes when I use a sink in a public restroom and the motion sensor doesn't work, I worry that I died and am now a ghost.
— MichaelDamianThomas (@michaeldthomas) July 15, 2017
(4) TRUNK MUSIC. Gamera Boy posted these scans of an old Starlog article: “Details from the proposed 1977 “Star Trek II” television series from Starlog #136 (1988)”.
Wil Wheaton reblogged the scans and commented:
Some of the unused Phase II scripts were rewritten and used on TNG. They were … not good, if my memory is correct.
(5) SPACE SCHOOL. Fast Company says “Forget Starfleet Academy—Future Astronauts Will Be Trained By These Companies”:
Private space travel could be just a year away.
Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin recently released images of the spaceships it says could be ferrying paying guests to suborbital space in 2018. At the same time, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has hundreds of $250,000 deposits from people who want seats on his spacecraft, and SpaceX’s Elon Musk aims to take a pair of tourists around the moon.
As commercial spaceflights for tourists, scientists, and workers in the burgeoning space economy become more common, experts say those would-be astronauts will need training that goes well beyond earthbound airline safety briefings. Anyone venturing into space will need to know how to deal with space sickness, the effects of acceleration and weightlessness, and even the potential for hallucinations. And those going to do scientific or other work will have to be ready to use their limited time optimally—time outside the earth’s gravitational pull will cost something like $688 per second, according to Gregory Kennedy, education director at the NASTAR Center.
“The research organizations that are sponsoring their flights are going to want to make sure they’re getting their $688,” he says.
The NASTAR Center, located outside Philadelphia, is one of several commercial institutions offering spaceflight training for would-be private astronauts. Founded in 2007 by the Environmental Tectonics Corporation, which makes air and space training equipment, the center has trained more than 500 people for the rigors of spaceflight, Kennedy says. For aspiring space tourists, that includes learning how to tolerate the acceleration forces they’ll experience: “We take somebody with no prior experience and build them up to be able to withstand up to 6 Gs.”
(6) WONDER TRIBUTE. John King Tarpinian says, “I can already hear the audience applaud when she appears on screen.” ScreenRant reports: “Wonder Woman: Lynda Carter Confirms Sequel Cameo Discussions”.
Lynda Carter has confirmed she’s in talks to appear in the Wonder Woman sequel. Director Patty Jenkins has been pressing for a cameo from the actor, who suited up for the film’s starring role via her own TV series in the ’70s, since she started work on the first movie, but the timing didn’t work out. When asked by a fan on Twitter whether she’d keep trying to land Carter for the franchise’s second go-round, Jenkins replied emphatically that she would.
Both women have been vocal about their appreciation for each other’s stake in Wonder Woman: Jenkins, for Carter’s legacy, and Carter for Jenkins’ treatment of it. When Carter congratulated Jenkins et all for the movie’s staggering box office success, Jenkins responded: “Bravo you Lynda. Come on. Let’s admit what was major in starting all of this.”
Now, as focus turns to the sequel, it seems the stars may align for Wonder Woman‘s second outing. In an interview with People, Carter revealed she’d already been approached to appear in the all-but-confirmed movie
(7) SPINNING. Shirley Li, in Entertainment Weekly’s article “Marvel’s The Defenders: Sigourney Weaver says her character is an ‘adversary,’ not a ‘villain'”, tells readers that in describing her work the actress says, “I try to avoid using terms like ‘ice queen’ that are often thrown at women who aren’t completely sympathetic.”
An adversary who, as the head of an ancient organization, has faced worthy opponents before, though none quite like this super-team, says showrunner Marco Ramirez. “In her career, she’s come up against a lot of different people — armies, mercenaries, devoted religious fanatics and all kinds of different groups — who have tried to take her down, but she’s never met four people who are seemingly just interested in taking care of this one little part of New York,” Ramirez says. “I think she’s actually really charmed by it, and weirdly, because they’re unlike anybody she’s ever faced off against before, it’s intimidating to her.”
(8) ALIAS CORDWAINER SMITH & JONES? I didn’t know they knew each other.
Brilliant! How about a nod for Cordwainer Smith too? Say, 'The Game of Rat and Dragon' in the October 1955 edition? https://t.co/i2mkQDL0Tl
— CordwainerJones (@CordwainerJones) July 13, 2017
(9) CALENDRICAL JOT. Aaron Pound covers another Hugo nominee at Dreaming About Other Worlds. A long review follows the executive summary – “Review – Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee”.
Short review: Tasked with putting down a heretical rebellion within the Hexarchate that has caused calendrical rot, Kel Cheris convinces her superiors to revive the insane dead General Jedao. If that sounds kind of incomprehensible to you, be warned that reading the book only makes it a little bit clearer.
(10) BY A WHISKER. Spacefaring Kitten’s tweets about this year’s nominees are collected in “Hugos 2017, part 1” at Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens
— Spacefaring Kitten (@SpacefaringK) July 14, 2017
(11) WE, ROBOT. Advanced technology in real life: “When your body becomes eligible for an upgrade”.
Prof Herr is a double amputee. In 2012, I saw him move a room in London to tears when he revealed his incredibly sophisticated bionic legs that allowed him to move with natural poise and grace.
In 2014, Prof Herr’s technology meant Adrianne Haslet-Davis returned to the dancefloor, less than a year since losing a limb in the Boston marathon bombings. Her first performance after the incident brought a TED talk audience instantly to its feet.
I visited Prof Herr’s lab last week to learn more about the work is team is doing, and where it may lead. Right now, much of the research is focused on doing things the human body can do instinctively, but are extremely complex to engineer.
(12) THEY CAME RUNNING. A siren based on science: “The brain-hacking sound that’s impossible to ignore”.
In a remote and rural part of Malawi in Africa, a siren has been alerting people – and it sounds like nothing you’d recognise from a street elsewhere in the world. Strangely unlike a conventional emergency services siren, instead it is a discordant mashup of musical fragments and intermittent white noise.
“It’s like hearing music on an old transistor radio that seems to be a little bit broken,” explains American artist Jake Harper, who designed it. You can hear it at the beginning and end of the clip below, coupled with a spoken announcement.
The signal was inspired by neuroscience research on sounds that affect the emotion-processing centres of the brain.
The aim? To alert Malawi locals to HIV tests and health checks from a mobile clinic funded by the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation’s (ETAF) and operated by the Global Aids Interfaith Alliance. As the medical van travels through an area, speakers on the roof broadcast these eerie tones.
(13) BEAM MY DATA UP, SCOTTY. “Sounds more like Stross’s version of an ansible,” opines Chip Hitchcock: “Teleportation: Photon particles today, humans tomorrow?”. (Or Clifford D. Simak’s system in Way Station?)
Chinese scientists say they have “teleported” a photon particle from the ground to a satellite orbiting 1,400km (870 miles) away.
For many, however, teleportation evokes something much more exotic. Is a world previously confined to science fiction now becoming reality?
Well, sort of. But we are not likely to be beaming ourselves to the office or a beach in the Bahamas anytime soon. Sorry.
How does it work?
Simply put, teleportation is transmitting the state of a thing rather than sending the thing itself.
Some physicists give the example of a fax machine – it sends information about the marks on a piece of paper rather than the paper itself. The receiving fax machine gets the information and applies it to raw material in the form of paper that is already there.
(14) FIRST NOVEL PRIZE. The longlist for 2017 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize includes several books of genre interest. (Just don’t ask me which ones.) This annual award was created in 2006 to honor the best first novel of the year. The titles below were chosen by a panel of five distinguished writers: Sonya Chung, Anne Landsman, Fiona Maazel, Rick Moody, and Kia Corthron.
(15) WRINKLE IN TIME. Here’s the teaser trailer for Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time, which opens in US theatres March 9, 2018.
(16) LAST JEDI FEATURETTE. The end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi Behind The Scenes may bring on a tear or two.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bonnie McDaniel.]
(1) CALL THE MOUNTIES. Imagine that — when you walk around town costumed as an armed survivalist, some people just can’t help believing their lying eyes: “Cosplay goes bad for gamer in Grande Prairie”.
Grande Prairie RCMP draw firearms in response to man dressed as video game character
It was almost game over in Grande Prairie this week for a cosplay enthusiast.
Dressed as a character from Fallout, a popular post-apocalyptic video game series, the man walked down a street wearing a gas mask, helmet, armour and bullet belt.
He carried a flag that said “New California Republic” — one of the factions from the games.
A man dressed as a character from the Fallout video-game series walks down a street in Grande Prairie. (Kyle Martel/Facebook)
RCMP Cpl. Shawn Graham told CBC News that police received calls just before 5 p.m. Tuesday from citizens concerned the man was wearing what looked like a bomb on his back.
At least eight officers responded with their long guns drawn. Photos show them crouched behind vehicles and bushes
(2) HPL. Thanks to rcade, we know what a World Fantasy Award nominee pin looks like:
(3) NEW DIGS. LASFS sold its clubhouse and is vacating the premises. They haven’t bought a replacement property yet, so the club will be meeting temporarily at the Art Directors Guild in Studio City beginning May 4. More details at Meetup.
(4) A HAMMER FILM. We’ve seen ice cream made with liquid nitrogen; Nottingham University professor Martyn Poliakoff shows that same liquid gas can be used to make the new “indestructable” 5-pound note destructible.
In a clip uploaded to his Periodic Videos series on YouTube, the professor said:
“The Bank of England is issuing new bank notes starting with the five pound note, and they made them plastic and there have been all sorts of advertisements that you cannot break them.
“I felt immediately challenged, and I had the idea that if we froze it with liquid nitrogen, the strands of the polymer would be frozen rigid and you may be able to break it, hitting it with a hammer.”
(5) WHO BLABBED? CBR.com reports animated adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen is on the way.
An animated adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ celebrated “Watchmen” is on the way, and it may arrive sooner than you’d think.
A recent survey by Warner Bros. “A-List Community” program, which regularly asks subscribers for their opinions on upcoming or recent film and television projects, has revealed the studio is bringing the graphic novel to animated form.
Reading the survey’s description of the project as “an upcoming made-for-video movie,” it’s apparent the film is already either in development, or in the final stages of production.
The survey further describes the film as “A faithful adaptation of the Watchmen graphic novel executed in an animation style that mirrors the source material.” Going by that description, it’s safe to assume Warner Bros. Animation has opted to take a similar approach to the comic as it did when bringing Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” and Moore and Brian Bolland’s “The Killing Joke” to life; both of those films homaged the respective artist’s style, making changes as needed to properly animate the story.
It’s interesting to note, though perhaps not surprising, that at no point in the survey are Moore or Gibbons mentioned. While Gibbons participated in the production and promotion of director Zack Snyder’s 2009 live-action “Watchmen” adaptation, Moore has made his disapproval of any “Watchmen” follow-up extremely clear. He was once quoted as saying he’d be “spitting venom all over” the Snyder-directed film, and has expressed on numerous occasions his preference that the original story be left to stand on its own.
ComicsBeat sounded cranky when they relayed the story – “Someone broke NDA and revealed that an R-rated watchmen animated movie is coming”.
It’s a little surprising that news of this new adaptation of Watchmen has leaked to the general public so quickly as membership to Warner Bros. A-List Community program requires the signing of an non-disclosure agreement….
Then they proceeded to quote the NDA language at length, presumably to shame the rival news site. Bad, naughty news site!
(6) I LIKE CAKE. Lynn Hirschberg, in W magazine article “Gal Gadot Listened to Beyonce in Preparation for her Wonder Woman Debut”, profiles Gadot, who discusses how Beyonce provided inspiration, how she auditioned blindly for the part, and how despite being in a superhero movie she still likes to decorate cakes.
On the day we met, she was channeling her powers into decorating a cake. (Who would’ve guessed that the actress had such a way with fondant?) “I want to start with a blue cake,” Gadot said definitively, as we entered Duff’s CakeMix, in Los Angeles. She was wearing simple black pants, a navy sweater, and classic black Gucci loafers.
Although she was six-months pregnant with her second child, the baby bump was nearly undetectable. Gadot, who has a doelike quality, wasn’t wearing makeup and her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail. “You couldn’t have invented a more perfect Wonder Woman than Gal,” Patty Jenkins, the film’s director, told me later.
(7) YOUR MOROSE ROBOT PAL. I think this is cool, although the name “Orpheus – The Saddest Music Machine” is a bit of anthropomorphizing I could do without. Having survived the effects of puppy sadness, do I really need robotic sadness?
We need companions in our lives. And it’s always helpful to have one who needs you in return. Orpheus, a robot-shaped DIY music box that plays music and lights up, is a bit sad and melancholic. But he looks cheerful, and he has a big heart. Orpheus will be a steadfast companion to any older child or adult. Though he needs some help being his best self, right out of the box. Assemble Orpheus yourself or with your kids from the laser-cut wood pieces, and soon you will have your own hand-cranked music box with moving gears and lights, as well as arms and legs. His melody is called “Cycle of Happiness,” which you can play any time you need some inspiration, or when you feel Orpheus needs some attention. Orpheus is available in the U.S. through ThinkGeek before anyone else.
(8) THE WRITE CHOICE. Although it won’t be a pal, you could spend more than a hundred times more money on this geeky Chushev pen.
The “Complication” fountain pen pays homage to the Swiss watchmaking trade for all the innovations in precision mechanics it has achieved. Inspired by the craftsmanship of the Swiss masters, Chavdar Chushev, saw the miniature details in the watches as ideal specimens for abstract art compositions. From that moment, he spent the next three decades refining his technique and evolving his creative vision. The sophisticated design of the “Complication” is the result of countless artistic iterations and technological evolutions.
(9) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian knows you’ll appreciate the sf reference in Frank and Ernest.
He also recommends the cinematic humor in Brevity.
On the other hand, Martin Morse Wooster is certain Tolkien fans will want to throw things at Stephen Pastis after reading today’s Pearls Before Swine.
(10) HANSEN OBIT. Actor Peter Hansen died April 9 at the age of 95. He was one of the stars of the 1951 science-fiction film When Worlds Collide, which won an Academy Award for special effects. He also appeared in an episode of TV’s Science Fiction Theatre.
However, his real claim to fame was years spent playing a character on the soap opera General Hospital, earning an Emmy in 1979 as Best Supporting Actor.
More details here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY WIZARD
(12) DOOMED AGAIN. LegalVision analyzes why an Australian court ordered the destruction of The One Ring – “This Apparently Precious Ring: Tolkien Estate Limited v Saltamacchia”.
The Infringement Issues
The Respondent hosts a website called “Australian Jewellery Sales”. Over the course of eight years, the Respondent sold approximately 1300 rings with the One Ring Inscription between $5 and $30 AUD each. He advertised the rings by referencing phrases such as: “The Lord of the Rings”; “The Hobbit”; and “Bilbo Baggins”.
The Respondent has about 50 remaining rings with the One Ring Inscription left. Right up until the date of the proceedings he continued to offer them for sale. The Respondent argued his rings did not accurately replicate the One Ring Inscription. It is important to note, here, that reproduction of copyright work does not need to be exact. The infringement must be a “substantial part”.
(13) WHAT’S COOKIN’? Enceladus also shows signs of life, although there’s still more hope for Europa:
Could there be life under the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus?
Scientists have found a promising sign.
NASA announced on Thursday that its Cassini spacecraft mission to Saturn has gathered new evidence that there’s a chemical reaction taking place under the moon’s icy surface that could provide conditions for life. They described their findings in the journal Science.
“This is the closest we’ve come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement.
However, the scientists think that because the moon is young, there may not have been time for life to emerge.
In 2015, researchers said that there was evidence of a warm ocean under the moon’s surface, as NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel reported.
This posed an exciting prospect — researchers wondered whether that warm ocean might be interacting with rock to create a form of chemical energy that could be used by some forms of life.
If true, it would be analogous to ancient organisms on Earth fueled by the energy in deep-sea ocean vents.
(14) IMPROVING RECOGNITION. AIs are biased, probably due to inadequate samples: “Artificial intelligence: How to avoid racist algorithms”.
The Algorithmic Justice League (AJL) was launched by Joy Buolamwini, a postgraduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in November 2016.
She was trying to use facial recognition software for a project but it could not process her face – Ms Buolamwini has dark skin.
“I found that wearing a white mask, because I have very dark skin, made it easier for the system to work,” she says.
“It was the reduction of a face to a model that a computer could more easily read.”
It was not the first time she had encountered the problem.
Five years earlier, she had had to ask a lighter-skinned room-mate to help her.
“I had mixed feelings. I was frustrated because this was a problem I’d seen five years earlier was still persisting,” she said.
“And I was amused that the white mask worked so well.”
(15) IT’S CALLED ACTING. Variety’s Lawrence Yee, in “Meet Rose, The Biggest Little Part’ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi“, discusses how Grace Marie Tran, who plays Rose, appeared on a panel at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando and while she couldn’t say anything about the film, she did say she told her parents she was shooting “an indie movie in Canada” and bought some maple syrup to prove to her parents she was in another country.
(16) THAT THING THEY DO. George Saunders probes “What writers really do when they write”.
…An artist works outside the realm of strict logic. Simply knowing one’s intention and then executing it does not make good art. Artists know this. According to Donald Barthelme: “The writer is that person who, embarking upon her task, does not know what to do.” Gerald Stern put it this way: “If you start out to write a poem about two dogs fucking, and you write a poem about two dogs fucking – then you wrote a poem about two dogs fucking.” Einstein, always the smarty-pants, outdid them both: “No worthy problem is ever solved in the plane of its original conception.”
…I had written short stories by this method for the last 20 years, always assuming that an entirely new method (more planning, more overt intention, big messy charts, elaborate systems of numerology underlying the letters in the characters’ names, say) would be required for a novel. But, no. My novel proceeded by essentially the same principles as my stories always have: somehow get to the writing desk, read what you’ve got so far, watch that forehead needle, adjust accordingly. The whole thing was being done on a slightly larger frame, admittedly, but there was a moment when I finally realised that, if one is going to do something artistically intense at 55 years old, he is probably going to use the same skills he’s been obsessively honing all of those years; the trick might be to destabilise oneself enough that the skills come to the table fresh-eyed and a little confused. A bandleader used to working with three accordionists is granted a symphony orchestra; what he’s been developing all of those years, he may find, runs deeper than mere instrumentation – his take on melody and harmony should be transferable to this new group, and he might even find himself looking anew at himself, so to speak: reinvigorated by his own sudden strangeness in that new domain.
It was as if, over the years, I’d become adept at setting up tents and then a very large tent showed up: bigger frame, more fabric, same procedure….
(17) VISITING SPACE SOON. A European Shuttle?
While Tumino and his team have worked on IXV and then Space Rider, there have been other European concepts in the background. UK company Reaction Engines has a design for an unmanned spaceplane, Skylon, that will launch satellites and the German Aerospace Agency has a concept called SpaceLiner that carries people. But, neither will be in orbit before Space Rider or anytime soon.
Space Rider could be in orbit in 2020 or 2021, as design funding was approved by Esa’s 27 member states in December last year. The money will enable Esa to work with the Italian Aerospace Agency, Cira, which is managing the project, and Thales Alenia Space and Lockheed Martin to complete the spaceplane’s design in 2019.
Its first flights will not, however, leave the Earth’s atmosphere. A full-scale model will be dropped in 2019 – both by atmospheric balloon and helicopter to test how it lands.
(18) ANOTHER APRIL FOOLS CLASSIC. Mount Vernon’s newest website translation for visitors is in Klingonese. And it’s dialed-in to Klingon sensibilities, as this video tour of George Washington’s home shows.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender.]
(1) SF IN CHINA. At Amazing Stories, Shaoyan Hu highlights the developing science fiction scene in China —
Science fiction is a growing phenomenon in China: the various organizations are living evidence of that. It’s not just Star Wars or The Three-Body Problem now, but a substantial foundation quickly coming into shape. Although speculative fiction is still a small portion of the market, the large population in China suggests a considerable potential return for whoever ventures into this new area. As it happens, quite a few principal investors already have eyes on the genre, but this is perhaps a topic for another time. For now, suffice it to say that the unceasing efforts of all the people within the SF community have given the genre a positive outlook in China and a flourishing future is yet to come.
A museum is asking fans of Jim Henson’s Muppets to help pay for an exhibition featuring original puppets of beloved characters like Elmo, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.
The Museum of the Moving Image launched a Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday seeking $40,000 to help preserve the puppets for posterity.
“Jim Henson’s work has meant so much to so many people, myself included,” actor Neil Patrick Harris says in a video on the Kickstarter page. “His humor and inventiveness have inspired people to find their own creative voices.”
The Queens museum owns hundreds of Henson puppets and other objects including costumes and props, all donated by Henson’s family in 2013. Henson died in 1990.
Museum staff members are working to conserve the items along with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, which was founded by Henson in 1979 and carries on his work, and fine-arts conservators.
The Kickstarter campaign has already raised $66,416, far in excess of its goal, with 26 days remaining.
(3) JEDI CRITIC. USA Today’s Jesse Yomtov took a look at The Last Jedi teaser trailer and decided it was time to speak up: “Why the Jedi were actually the worst and really should ‘end’”.
At the end of the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi (aka Episode VIII), Luke Skywalker brings up an important issue.
“I only know one truth,” he says. “It’s time for the Jedi to end.”
That sounds ominous and bad, but Luke is 100% correct. It’s not even up for debate that a group like the Jedi would be the bad guys in any other movie.
The Jedi were nearly brought to extinction at the end of Episode III, and while yeah it was the result of Palpatine’s super-evil scheme, it only got to that point because of their own incompetence and self-destructiveness.
Here are some of the most off-putting things about the Jedi Order:
(contains information/spoilers from The Clone Wars animated show, which ended three years ago so that’s kind of on you)…
(4) FINAL WORD ON CARRIE FISHER’S FUTURE IN STAR WARS. VIII yes, IX nay. That’s the word from Kathleen Kennedy.
Carrie Fisher will not appear in Star Wars: Episode IX, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy said on Friday.
The announcement came during an interview with ABC News and was something of a bombshell, as Todd Fisher, the late actress’ brother, previously said his sister would be in the planned ninth installment of the blockbuster franchise. Kennedy said he was “confused.”
“Sadly, Carrie will not be in nine,” said Kennedy. “But we will see a lot of Carrie in eight.”
(5) FAMILY PORTRAIT. On the first day of the Star Wars Celebration happening in Florida, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford posed with Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter.
This is so beautiful ? pic.twitter.com/5WSoIVG1Cm
— Star Wars Stuff (@starwarstuff) April 13, 2017
(6) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Ken Liu was finally able to reveal he is at work on a Star Wars book.
So, the news is out: I’m writing a Star Wars book as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi project. Working with the team at Lucasfilm Publishing has been such a pleasure — they’re the best.
I can’t tell you much about the book yet, except that it’s called The Legends of Luke Skywalker, it’s going to go on sale on 10/31/2017, and it’s going to be awesome….
I think a writer’s job is to build a strong, welcoming house. Readers then move in and fill the rooms with their individual experience and understanding of the world. And only then, after they’ve settled in and begun to explore, do they discover its little nooks and crannies, its hidden passages and secret staircases, and following these, they find breathtaking vistas of other planets, rogues who prize friendship more than treasure, mystical sages full of wisdom, princesses leading grand armies, and farm boys dreaming of walking among the stars …
The Star Wars universe is grand and beautiful, and it is ever expanding. To be able to build a house in this universe after my fashion, to welcome fellow fans and readers into this house, and to see them get comfortable and discover its secrets … I don’t have the words for my joy.
(7) ZUCCHINIS VS. BEETS. On March 31, Margaret Atwood discussed 10 of her favorite speculative fiction novels at the website Omnivoracious: The Amazon Book Review. But as you might expect, she has a few things to say about defining the term first:
There is still some fuzziness around the terms “speculative fiction” and “science fiction.” Some say that “speculative fiction” includes such things as horror and reality-based dystopias and vampire stories, with “science fiction” being a subset. Others make a distinction between “science fiction” – hard and soft, but involving other planets and universes accessed by devices we do not currently have and cannot realistically expect to have – and “speculative fiction,” located on this earth and containing no devices that we cannot currently foresee. Let’s just say that there is a difference in nature between stories set in a universe far, far away – some call these “science fiction fantasy” — and those set on this planet, in a future we can plausibly describe, though not infallibly predict. (No predictions are infallible.) All fictions both entertain – otherwise nobody turns the pages – and also instruct – because stories will inevitably be given a moral interpretation by readers, language and people being what they are. But the far, far away galaxy kind – let us call them “zucchinis” – will inspire less immediate fear than the other kind – let us call them “beets.”
The list below is a list of “beets.” There are many more, but these are some of the books I have read and enjoyed. They concern this earth and what is possible on it, given the knowledge available at the time of their writing. They are mostly dystopias – they describe a world we would rather not have. But some are utopias – they point to improvements.”
From the middle of her list –
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
A personal favourite. Written in the Future-English of a post-apocalyptic British teenager. The apocalypse has been atomic, as they once were. Young Riddley is on a quest, as his riddle-based first name and his ambulatory last one would suggest. A puppet show featuring Mister Clevver is his day job, insofar as he has one. Beware of Mister Clevver!
(8) TWEETS OF THE DAY. The investigation begins at SFWA.
@Catrambo Cat, I'm going to ask you point blank: are you using SFWA dues to create a robot army?
— Adam Rakunas (@rakdaddy) April 13, 2017
@rakdaddy Why do you hate America, Adam?
— OneWomanRiot Rambo (@Catrambo) April 13, 2017
(9) TAKE-OUT. Episode 34 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast takes place in the middle of Brian Keene’s live-streamed fundraising telethon. At first, Keene couldn’t find time in his schedule —
But when it came time for Brian to record the 100th episode of The Horror Show as a live 24-hour-long telethon to raise funds for the Scares That Care charity, he had a brainstorm—that I invade his event with a meal of some sort, and record my own show as part of his livestream.
So that’s what I did—show up at a conference room of a Hunt Valley hotel with a ton of takeout from Andy Nelson’s Barbecue, which has repeatedly been voted best BBQ by Baltimore Magazine—bringing enough to feed Brian, his co-hosts, and some of the live studio audience you’ll hear in this episode, too.
Brian’s published more than 40 novels, including the best-selling The Rising, and he’s the winner of the 2014 World Horror Grand Master Award. He’s also written comics, including the adventures of the Doom Patrol.
We discussed why the ending to The Rising isn’t as bewildering as some seem to think it is, whether new horror writers should try to replicate his career path, how Marvel Comics creator Steve Gerber is responsible for him becoming a writer, the shady way Brian amassed the largest comics collection in the sixth grade, if he’s a Scully who changed into a Mulder as he got older or if he’s been a Mulder all along, and more…
(10) GETTING AROUND HELSINKI. Going to Worldcon 75? Then this info is for you:
The Helsinki Regional Transit Authority (Helsingin Seudun Liikenne) has announced that as of June 19, 2017, tickets will no longer be sold on Helsinki commuter trains, and therefore must be purchased in advance from one of the available outlets: ticket machines (map of ticket machine locations), the HSL mobile phone application, or HSL Travel Cards.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
(12) A NIGHTMARE TO REMEMBER. As a child, Steve Vertlieb was haunted by the image of the Titanic:
One hundred five years ago tonight, at 11:40 PM, RMS Titanic fulfilled its terrifying date with history as innumerable heroic souls perished beneath the icy waters of The Atlantic. This horrifying remembrance remains among the most profoundly significant of my own 71 years. As a little boy, during the early-to-mid-1950s, I was tormented night after night by nightmares of finding myself upon the deck of a huge ocean liner cruising the darkened waters of the Atlantic. After a time, I’d find myself walking along the brooding ocean floor, enveloped in crushing darkness, when I sensed a horrifying presence behind me. I’d turn slowly each night with fear and encroaching trepidation. As I gazed up into the watery sky, I’d find myself next to the enormous hull of a wrecked and decaying ship. I awoke screaming on each of these nights. I’d never heard of Titanic in my early years, but I was tormented by these crippling dreams, night after suffocating night, for years. To this day, the very sight and sound of the name “Titanic” sends me into cold sweats and an ominous sense of dread, and foreboding. I’ve come to believe that I may have been aboard the doomed ocean liner that awful night, and that I’d been reincarnated three decades later. I fear the ocean still. Suffice to say, it is a chilling remembrance that will forever haunt my dreams. May God rest Her immortal soul, and all those who perished that terrible night.
(13) HOPE FOR THE WORLD. It’s Good Friday, but this is not about that. Rather, James Artimus Owen draws our attention to another epochal breakthrough:
I’m…feeling some very, very strong emotions that I don’t know how to process. I think I knew, somehow, but didn’t realize until just now – Burger King really does have Froot Loops shakes. They exist. And thus give me hope for the whole world. #apexofcivilization
We confirmed this with Fox News. (How often do you get to say that with a straight face?) Froot Loops shakes debut at participating Burger King stores nationwide on April 17, but will only be around for a limited time.
So what, exactly, is in a cereal milkshake?
According to a spokeswoman for Burger King, the drink features “velvety Vanilla-flavored Soft Serve, Froot Loops Cereal pieces and sweet sauce.”
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SLAYER
(15) PUPPIES FOR PRESIDENT. Lou Antonelli ran a poll on his Facebook page asking people to vote for the sf writer they’d most like to see as President of the U.S.
In Antonelli’s case, that doesn’t necessarily mean he was looking for any great departure from the current tenant of the White House – and he certainly didn’t end up with one.
President… Larry Correia!
The clear winner with 18 votes.
It was very close for second place. John Ringo had nine votes and Tom Kratman had eight.
A strong fourth place showing goes to an author who would not be considered right-of-center by any definition, David Brin – which shows there is come diversity of political opinion among my Friends.
Dr. Jerry Pournelle received five votes, and Ursula LeGuin – also certainly not a right-winger – received four.
(16) TAD WILLIAMS. Patrick St-Denis of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist interviewed Tad Williams about his return to the universe of Osten Ard in The Witchwood Crown.
Stephen R. Donaldson once said that he waited for so long to write The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant because he wasn’t ready and needed to grow as an author before he felt comfortable tackling such a project. Would you say that, at least to a certain extent, this was one of the reasons why it took so long for you to finally decide to write the long-awaited sequel to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn?
Yes, but not necessarily in the same way as Donaldson’s talking about. I said for years that I wouldn’t write a sequel to anything or even re-visit a world unless I had a story first, a story that cried out to be written. And for years Osten Ard was in that category, although I had thought a bit about the Chronicle project. Then, when I sat down one time to list off for Deborah (my wife and business partner) all the reasons I had no more stories about Simon and Miriamele and Binabik and the rest, I realized that I had left most of the main characters still very much in the bloom of their youth, and that after decades of life and growing responsibility — which I had undergone myself since I wrote it — they must all look at the world very differently. That set me to thinking, and within one night the first rudiments of the story for The Last King of Osten Ard (the title for the whole series) had begun to take real shape. So every moment I was aging, and moving from one country to another, and becoming a parent, and so on, I was actually creating a plot for new Osten Ard books without realizing it.
(17) YOUR SHADOW CLARKE JURY AT WORK. Racing to finish ahead of the shortlist announcement, scant weeks away —
This is the first novel I’ve read from my shortlist that feels like it belongs on the actual Clarke shortlist. Written by a genre outsider, but built definitively upon a classic sci-fi concept, and clearly aware of decades of science fiction fandom and inside jokes, it ticks a few those well-established Clarke-preferred boxes. It’s also quite enjoyable for those same reasons.
It follows the Toula/Tolliver family over four generations of delusions of grandeur beginning with Ottokar Toula: family patriarch, pickle cultivator, and mad scientist of the pre-Atomic Age. His “discovery” of the Lost Time Accidents is overshadowed by the work of “the patent clerk” in Switzerland, dooming the Toula name to forgotten history. That is, until his son, Waldemar, seizes upon Ottokar’s ideas and uses Nazi-era concentration camps to carry out his secret, malevolent time experiments…
We awaken in a contemporary alternate Finland, a country whose path diverged from its realworld twin’s shortly after World War One. We discover that Finland is now a eusistocracy – all for the best in the best of all possible worlds – separated technologically and politically from the ‘hedonistic democracies’ of the rest of Europe and forging its own path to racial purity, social stability and material content. In this new Finland, a systematic program of eugenics has been implemented in order to reinstitute traditional gender roles and relieve the increasing psychological and social tension that has been the inevitable result of female emancipation:
Nowadays, when people talk about science fiction being socially relevant, they often gesture towards Dave Hutchinson’s on-going Fractured Europe series and how the early books seemed to pre-empt not only the break-up of the European Union but also the brutal militarisation of European borders. Though dystopias will always have a role to play in helping us to prepare for unwanted futures, there is also something to be said for books that make a positive case for what it is that we are about to lose. Hutchinson’s books may be about the ugly, regressive, and nationalistic future we are going to get but Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station is about the beautiful, strange, and unapologetically multicultural future we need.
Science fiction is not and never has been about predicting the future. But it is about using satire, extrapolation, exaggeration, distortion and any other tools at its disposal to reflect and comment upon the present. Right now, Europe is in a parlous state. The enterprise of friendship and cooperation that began in the wake of the Second World War is under unprecedented threat from the emergence of just such nationalist movements that it was deliberately conceived to counter. There are currently populist movements whose avowed aims are directly counter to the European ideal active and prominent in the UK, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere. This is the world we live in. It is not the world we encounter in contemporary science fiction.
The Fractured Europe sequence may not be a perfect way of bringing this modern world into science fiction, but since it is the only way that anyone is currently attempting, it is de facto the best.
The last one is a roundup rather than a review:
…On which note, it seems only fair that I come clean regarding how I, personally, feel about my personal shortlist now that I’ve read it. Did the books I chose turn out to be as worthwhile, not to mention as Clarke-worthy, as I hoped they would be? The short answer, I suppose, would have to be partly, and no. Above a certain level, very few books are ever entirely a waste of reading time, and that certainly holds true here….
(18) BE YOUR OWN RORSCHACH. Who was that masked man? — “How what you wear can help you avoid surveillance”.
Imagine you’re living in a dystopian future. Surveillance cameras scan the streets to recognise and record the faces of passersby – but you’re wearing a HyperFace scarf. Amid a kinetic assortment of grid-like structures printed on the fabric, black squares suggest tiny eyes, noses and mouths. The cameras’ facial recognition algorithms are confused. Your identity is secure; your privacy, protected.
(19) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. On April 19, Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Laura Anne Gilman & Seth Dickinson.
Laura Anne Gilman
Laura Anne Gilman is the author of the best-selling Devil’s West novels (Silver on the Road and The Cold Eye) which NPR described as “a true American myth being found,” the Nebula-nominated Vineart War trilogy, and the story collection Darkly Human. Her writing past encompasses a ten-book urban fantasy series, a quartet of cozy mysteries, three paranormal romances, and a middle-grade Arthurian adventure. A once and future New Yorker, she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.
Seth Dickinson’s short stories have been published in in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and elsewhere. He also contributed writing to video games, including Destiny: The Taken King. His first novel the epic fantasy The Traitor Baru Cormorant was published in 2015 and he’s working on a sequel.
Wednesday, April 19th, 2017, 7pm at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)
(20) CONCERN TROLL ON DUTY. Superversive SF’s “sciphi” (which I believe is editor Jason Rennie) is worried about the impact Monica Valentinelli’s decision to quit as Odyssey Con GoH will have on other women authors. Sure he is. — “Why doesn’t Monica Valentinelli want women as Guests of Honour?”
What I am wondering though is, has Monica considered the wider implications of this sort of diva behaviour? If you were organising a Con would you invite her as Guest of Honour? I wouldn’t given this is her idea of professional behaviour. More than that, this will likely cause any rational Con organiser, even if only unconsciously, to be less willing to invite any women as Guest of Honour. Who wants the headache of someone flaking at the last second because they have decided their feelings of “unsafeness” trump any consideration of professional behaviour or the enormous problems it will cause other people? Monica in her betrayal of the trust shown in her has made it harder for women everywhere. What if a guest you have invited and planned for decides to “Pull a Valentinelli” at the last second? I suppose it isn’t fair to generalise this to all female authors, as much as it would be more reasonable to generalise this to any sort of grievance peddling group instead.
The people I feel most sorry for are the Jagi Lamplighters, Sarah Hoyt’s and other female authors of the world who are actual professionals and would never engage in this sort of childish tantrum, but whose prospects are damaged by one ridiculous drama queen and idiots who are enabling her behaviour.
(21) SUPERVERSIVE SF’S RESPECT FOR WOMEN. Immediately preceding that post on the site is a reprint of one of their “more popular Superversive articles,” “The Bosom-Jiggle Factor”, which is indeed about what you were assuming. With illustrations. And the name of the author? Answer: L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright.
“The Needs of Drama vs. The Needs of Culture, as illustrated by the BJF Index:”…
The Needs of Drama—the qualities that make a story dramatic, eye-catching, intriguing. Sex, sizzle, bang, POW! Seduction! Explosions! LOTS OF CAPTIALS AND EXCAMATIONS!!!!!!
The Needs of Culture—the desire to use the story to teach lessons needed to participate in the culture, like an Asops Fable or a morality play. These stories include topics like: How to behave. How to treat friends. How to treat strangers. What is and is not moral. – the message of the work.
It is not my opinion that one of these forces is better than the other. Rather, I believe that there needs to be a harmonious marriage of the two of a work to be really great.
Too much drama leads to meaningless sex and bloodshed. Too much culture leads to boring message fiction….
(22) A WORD FROM THE SPONSOR. Because you don’t watch enough commercials already, click this link to watch Baby Groot and the GEICO gecko trying to sell you insurance.
(23) CIRQUE DU PIZZA. Hampus Eckerman is right – you shouldn’t miss this.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, Steve Vertlieb, Mark-kitteh, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
Not to be confused with being the last teaser for the movie.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in your hearts today, in theaters December 15.
[Thanks to Iphinome for the story.]
(1) THE HAT MAKES THE MAN. From Bored Panda, “Photographer Travels Across New Zealand With Gandalf Costume, And His Photos Are Epic”.
Who can be a better guide of New Zealand (Middle Earth) than Tolkien’s Gandalf himself? The guy has been traveling around that place for more than 2,000 years, so he probably knows his way around. That was the idea behind photographer Akhil Suhas’s 6-month trip across the country with a Gandalf costume.
Suhas called his 9,000-mile adventure #GandalfTheGuide and documented it using photos. “I wanted a recurring subject in my photos and with so many photographers visiting the country, I figured that I needed to do something to set me apart!” he said. “I was watching the LOTR for the 5th time when I figured New Zealand is famous for 2 things: its landscapes and the LOTR + Hobbit Trilogies. So why not combine the two by having Gandalf in the landscapes?”
At first, he tried self-portraits: “I tried the camera on a tripod with a timer shot, didn’t work for me,” Suhas said. “So, I started asking the people I met along the way if they wanted to put on the outfit.” Surprisingly, people agreed, and Suhas created an amazing small-person-big-landscape photo tour of New Zealand.
started the hike to Isthmus Peak at 4:30pm, soon got a stomach cramp and really wanted to turn back but powered through the pain, next was the relentless uphill for 2.5 hours, reached the peak where we got panoramic views of lake wanaka, lake hawea and the southern alps, stayed for 🌅 and shot some 🌌 after, started our decent at 10:40pm, face planted while trying to 🏃 downhill and finally finished at 12:40am. just another adventure with #GandalfTheGuide @lakewanakanz @purenewzealand
(2) A HEFTY PRICE. L. W. Currey is offering The David Rajchel Arkham House Archive for sale. Kim Huett writes: “Those of you interested in small-press fantasy publishing might want to have a look at this collection of Arkham House paperwork that’s being offered for sale even if the price being asked is out of our collective range.”
The Arkham House Archive contains over 4000 letters and documents related to publications issued by Arkham House, Mycroft & Moran and Stanton & Lee between 1939 and 1971, as well as correspondence and business papers related to Derleth’s activities as writer and editor for other publishers, including his editorial work as an anthologist in the 1940s and 1950s, and as a TV scriptwriter in the 1950s.
The David Rajchel Arkham House Archive is a highly important collection of letters and documents that compliment the papers held by the Wisconsin Historical Society. These papers and those held by WHS are essentially all the Arkham House papers that survive.
…One of the most important twentieth century small publisher’s archives offered for sale in the last several decades. The collection, $415,000.00
(3) KEEPING SCORE., A lot of movie music on the bill at the Hollywood Bowl this summer —
The Harry Potter™ film series is a once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomenon that continues to delight millions around the world. Experience the second film in the series in high definition on our big screen while John Williams’ unforgettable music is performed live-to-picture.
The Harry Potter™ phenomenon continues with the third film of the series. The Los Angeles Philharmonic will perform every note from John Williams’ sensational score while audiences relive the magic of the film projected in high definition on the big screen.
The film that gave the world one of its most iconic movie heroes, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), is back and better than ever! Relive the magic of this swashbuckling adventure as one of John Williams’ best-loved film scores is performed live, while the thrilling film is shown in HD on the Bowl’s big screen
Continuing a beloved Bowl tradition, legendary composer John Williams returns to conduct many of his greatest moments of movie music magic. David Newman kicks off the evening with more of the best in film music. A selection of clips will be featured on the big screen.
It’s time to get things started, to light the lights… the iconic and beloved Muppets will perform a sensational, inspirational live show you’ll never forget! Join Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo and the rest of the zany Muppet gang, including – fresh off their triumphant festival performance – Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, with legendary rock drummer Animal, for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. All this, plus special surprise guests and fireworks!
(4) SETTING A RECORD. And, by the way, “John Williams and Steven Spielberg’s Work Together Is Getting an ‘Ultimate Collection’”.
John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection is a three-disc retrospective due out March 17 from Sony Classical and includes new recording of Williams’ scores. Listen to a new recording and reworking of “Marion’s Theme” from Raiders of the Lost Ark and watch a behind-the-scenes video at the bottom of this story.
It’s an update of a previous collection, which over two discs included music for Spielberg films that Williams recorded with the Boston Pops Orchestra for 1991’s Sony Classical: The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration and 1995’s Williams on Williams: The Classic Spielberg Scores. Those collections featured music spanning 1974’s Sugarland Express through 1993’s Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List.
The update was recorded in 2016 with the Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles and includes work from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Amistad, The BFG, Lincoln, The Adventures of Tintin, Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse, The Terminal, Munich and the 1999 documentary The Unfinished Journey.
(5) DUAL TO THE DEATH. At Break, Urbanski chronicles the feud between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison — “Two Of The Greatest Comic Book Writers Have Been In An Occult War For 25 Years”.
…By the early 90s, it was already obvious Moore had issues with Morrison. He claimed to have helped give Morrison a leg up in his career (Morrison later pointed out he was making comics, though much less famous ones, before Moore had become known at all), and that Morrison in return just ripped-off all of Moore’s work.
Morrison, on the other hand, claimed that Moore’s own work was derivative of a 1977 novel called Superfolks, and that “Watchmen” was not as great as everyone thought, and that Moore wants to take credit for everything great in comics while slagging anyone he sees as competition.
Moore has continued to insinuate throughout the years that Morrison has kept ripping off his ideas, once notably saying, “I’ve read Morrison’s work twice: first when I wrote it, then when he wrote it.”
…But it’s too easy to try to write the conflict off by painting Moore as some kind of grumpy old traditionalist, and Morrison as the bold in-your-face counter-culture rebel.
Remember, it was Moore who argued his way out of mainstream comics forever. On the other hand, Morrison plays the rebel but has become an icon of Mainstream Comics (though anyone reasonable would agree he’s transformed that mainstream and helped enormously to raise the quality of mainstream comics writing).
Morrison even got an MBE from the Queen, which Moore saw as the ultimate proof of Morrison’s fake rebel act being exposed as conformity. For it, he called Morrison a “Tory” (which, from Moore, is like the dirtiest word imaginable).
Morrison once claimed that Moore only had one “Watchmen”, while he does “one Watchmen a week”; which frankly is complete bullcrap. And you could laugh at Morrison’s arrogance for saying something like that, except that then he went on to launch a magical attack directly at Watchmen just to prove his point, with his comic “Pax Americana.”
“Watchmen” had started out as an idea Moore had using a certain group of DC-owned characters (Captain Atom, Peacemaker, The Question, Nightshade, the Blue Beetle, Thunderbolt) which DC wasn’t really using. Luckily for us all, DC didn’t let him use them, so he reinvented them as the Watchmen characters (Dr.Manhattan, Comedian, Rorschach, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, Ozymandias) and created a masterpiece.
But in “Pax Americana,” Morrison reversed the situation. First, he did get to use the DC characters; but he wrote them in a style that imitated (almost but not quite to the point of mockery) the style of Moore’s “Watchmen” characters. Then he makes a complete story in just one issue, that is just as much a work of genius as Moore’s 12 issues of “Watchmen.” This too is a magical technique, once again, Morrison has turned a comic book into a spell. “Pax Americana” itself even deals with the nature of time, and the keys to the universe in the number 8; he even magically over-rides “Watchmen”’s base-3 (9 panel) format with a base-4 (8 or 16 panel) format. It’s like a wizard crafting a more powerful magical square-talisman than his rival…
(6) 404 OF THE DAY. The editors of the Problem Daughters, Djibril al-Ayad, Rivqa Rafael, and Nicolette Barischoff packaged the “Intersectional SFF Roundtable” for Apex Magazine that was taken down after Likhain’s open letter to the editor protesting the involvement of Benjanun Sriduangkaew. Apex Magazine editor Jason Sizemore answered with an apology earlier this week.
Beginning February 14 – at least for awhile – an apology signed the three editors also appeared on The Future Fire site. It’s gone now (although for as long as it lasts the text can be read in the Google cache file). The gist of the apology was that they were sorry for not including a black woman in a panel about intersectionality. The controversy about Sriduangkaew’s participation was not addressed.
(7) DUFFY OBIT. Jonny Duffy, a LASFS member since 1990, has passed away from complications due to a removal of a growth in his neck reports Selena Phanara.
Duffy had five sf stories published in the 1990s, one in collaboration with G. David Nordley appeared in Analog.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
(9) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY
(10) MORE NEVERWHERE. Tor.com knows what Neil Gaiman is going to write next.
Now that Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology has hit shelves, the author has announced his next upcoming work–the long-awaited sequel to Neverwhere, titled The Seven Sisters.
Gaiman had already planned to write a sequel to Neverwhere, and the FAQ on his website had given the title of the sequel out some time ago. An event at London’s Southbank Centre this week ended with an announcement from Gaiman confirming that he had written the first three chapters, and that The Seven Sisters would be his next book.
The title of the book comes form an area of north London where seven elm trees are planted in a circle, denoting possible pagan worship at the site, stretching back to Roman times. There are legends and myths attached to the area that make it a perfect setting or launch point for a Neverwhere story.
(11) COUNTING JEDS. Danielle Bitette, in an article in the New York Daily News called “Mystery Surrounding Next Star Wars Title is Solved”, says that speculation is rife whether the subtitle of Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi refers to one Jedi or a lot of Jedis. After looking at the French and Spanish translations of this title she concluded that the subtitle refers to many Jedi.
Ah, remember, “Jedi” is both singular and plural.
Therefore, “Episode VIII” could very well be an uprising, of sorts, for the previously erased Jedi. That’s not to say the Council will reconvene — and that Luke will dispense justice across the galaxy from his ivory tower, the Temple retreat on Ahch-To. Just that “Episode VIII” could be a step toward “resurrection,” perhaps with the help of longtime enabler Maz Kanata, former Stormtrooper Finn (aka FN-2187), everyone’s favorite Wookiee, Chewbacca, and others.
In George Lucas’ prequels, fans of the franchise witnessed a galactic purge of the Jedi Order, in Emperor Palpatine’s infamous Order 66.
From that point on, Jedis were drastically reduced in number and were forced into hiding. Even Yoda, the grand master of the Jedi Order, does not survive to see Darth Vader deposed (but that’s only because he dies of natural causes on the planet Dagobah; he sees the victory in ghost form).
(12) UFO LORE. John Crowley reviews Jack Womack’s Flying Saucers Are Real! (and Tom Gauld’s Mooncop) in The Boston Review.
The ability to stand stock-still in the sky and then vanish away at impossibly high speed has long been a hallmark of saucer sightings, explained by believers with fantasy physics or appeals to cosmic forces. Flying saucers, so named as a sort of dismissive joke, first entered public awareness in 1947 when pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine flying past his plane near Mt. Rainier. The public’s obsession with UFOs reached fever pitch during the height of the Cold War, and had already lost much of their psychic force by the time I saw mine. I had not yet begun writing what could only be called science fiction novels (they were rather non-standard ones) but I had noticed that the issues and hopes and fears that animated science fiction since its beginnings—faster-than-light spaceships, telepathy, time travel, people-shaped robots, etc.—hadn’t come much closer to reality.
Flying saucers, though, were special: they inhabited a realm neither plainly actual nor wholly fantastic, explored in fiction but also by real-life investigators with extremely varied credentials, who published reams of exposés and personal accounts. And they persisted, as threat or promise, without ever actually appearing in any ascertainable way.
Flying Saucers Are Real is Jack Womack’s wondrous compilation of flying-saucer materials…
(13) LOOK, UP IN THE SKY. Stephanie Buck says, in contrast to Paris, on this night in 1994 LA was more like the City of Too Much Light.
In 1994, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake rumbled through Los Angeles at 4:30 a.m. The shaking woke residents, who discovered the power had gone out citywide.
Some left their houses or peered outside to check on the neighborhood. It was eerily dark—no streetlights and few cars at that late hour.
They looked up at the sky. It was flush with cosmic bodies that had been invisible up to that point?—?twinkling stars, clustered galaxies, distant planets, even a satellite or two. Then some people became nervous. What was that large silvery cloud that trailed over the city? It looked so sinister they called 911.
That cloud was the Milky Way. They had never seen it before.
I remember the earthquake but I didn’t get a look at the sky – I stayed in bed til sunrise because I expected to have to climb over piles of books to get to the door….
(14) MEET CUTE. John King Tarpinian says, “A buddy who collects movie scripts just bought this. The working title is different than the final title, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Notice who the copy belonged to…”
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester.]
(1) SLOWER THAN EMPIRES AND HALF VAST. It all seems to obvious now. CheatSheet explains: “’Star Wars’: Why Delaying ‘Episode VIII: The Last Jedi’ Was the Right Call”.
From there, the plan was to release Episode VIII (now officially titled The Last Jedi) a quick five months later, with each subsequent sequel and spinoff releasing in May of their respective years. Recent events though have put that schedule in jeopardy, culminating in a massive seven-month delay. Our first hint at this possibility came courtesy of Meet the Movie Press, with host Jeff Sneider reporting on rewrites for Rian Johnson’s script that pushed the beginning of production out to February (initial plans had production scheduled to begin in September 2015). Already under the gun with the minuscule five-month gap between Rogue One and Episode VIII, the call was made official by Lucasfilm: The sequel to The Force Awakens will now release December 17, 2017.
…More than anything, the May release of Episode VIII would have been a nightmare from the marketing side. The Force Awakens released its first teaser almost exactly a year before its premiere. To follow a similar plan, Episode VIII would need a teaser by May of this year, all while Rogue One tries to get itself heard above the din of the main trilogy ahead of its own December release. The end result would have drowned out Rogue One and kept everyone’s eyes fixed on May 2017. With a year of spacing now between the two films, Lucasfilm no longer runs the risk of making people feel inundated by a revived franchise that’s already permeating every facet of our pop culture.
(2) KICKSTARTER SUCCESSS. Matt Godwin’s crowdfunded Latin@ Rising gets favorable notice from a San Antonio news outlet — “Anthology gathers best Latino sci-fi stories” in MySA.com.
Matt Goodwin compares “Latin@ Rising,” the new anthology of science fiction from San Antonio’s Wings Press, to an eclectic literary mix tape or playlist “in which there is an ebb and flow as you move through the loud and the brash, the quiet and the thoughtful.”
The latter might be Carmen Maria Machado’s “Difficult at Parties,” a first-person, present-tense story told as if through a camera lens about a woman struggling to return to some semblance of normal life after a sexual assault. As tension builds, she discovers she has developed a disturbing new psychic power.
On the other hand, Giannina Braschi’s “Death of a Businessman” is the cacophonous opening to a novel titled “The United States of Banana,” which is the author’s response to 9/11: “I saw the wife of the businessman enter the shop of Stanley, the cobbler, with a pink ticket in her hand. The wife had come to claim the shoes of the businessman. After all, they had found the feet, and she wanted to bury the feet with the shoes.”
(3) BOYCOTT WHEN CONVENIENT. Charles Stross says he’s canceling GoH appearance at Fencon XIV and won’t be making any other US appearances after that — “Policy change: future US visits”. However, he’s not cancelling a business trip to New York or attendance at Boskone because that would cost him money.
…Consequently I’m revising my plans for future visits to the United States.
I’ll be in New York and Boston for business meetings and Boskone in mid-February (I unwisely booked non-refundable flights and hotel nights before the election), but I am cancelling all subsequent visits for now. In particular, this means that I will no longer be appearing as guest of honor at Fencon XIV in Texas in September.
…As for why I’m cancelling this appearance … I have two fears.
Firstly, at this point it is clear that things are going to get worse. The Muslim ban is only the start; in view of the Administration’s actions on Holocaust Memorial Day and the anti-semitism of his base, I think it highly likely that Jews and Lefists will be in his sights as well. (As a foreign national of Jewish extraction and a member of a left wing political party, that’s me in that corner.)
Secondly, I don’t want to do anything that might be appear to be an endorsement of any actions the Trump administration might take between now and September. While it’s possible that there won’t be any more bad things between now and then (in which case I will apologize again to the Fencon committee), I find that hard to believe; equally possibly, there might well be a fresh outrage of even larger dimensions right before my trip, in which case my presence would be seen by onlookers as tacit acceptance or even collaboration.
As for my worst case nightmare scenario? Given the reshuffle on the National Security Council and the prominence of white supremacists and neo-nazis in this Administration I can’t help wondering if the ground isn’t being laid for a Reichstag Fire by way of something like Operation Northwoods. In which case, for me to continue to plan to travel to the United States in eight months time would be as unwise as it would have been to plan in February 1933 to travel to Germany in September of that year: it might be survivable, but it would nevertheless be hazardous….
(4) DICKINSON OBIT. Andrew Porter reports —
Originally from Leeds, England, fan Mike Dickinson, 69, died from cancer on January 20th. He had been in poor health for a year since being hit by a car, and then was diagnosed with lung cancer.
With David Pringle, he co-chaired Yorcon, the 1979 Eastercon, in Leeds, and was toastmaster of Yorcon II in 1981..
Among fanzines he published were the one-off fanzine Adsum in 1978; with Alan Dorey the one-off Sirius; three issues of Bar Trek with Lee Montgomerie; in 1979, the 95-97th issue of Vector for the British SF Association; and, in 1984, Spaghetti Junction.
David Pringle writes, “He was a mainstay of the Leeds SF group which met every Friday evening from some time in 1974 onwards, initially in a pub called The Victoria and later in one called the West Riding. That petered out in the 1980s — after I’d left Leeds in 1982, and after Mike and his partner Jackie went abroad for a couple of years, teaching English as a foreign language in Italy.”
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
(6) QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” ~ George Orwell
(7) ALL THE ROAD RAGE. My daughter liked playing on Wii, but I drove off the road so many times in one of those Mario Bros. games I would never be the kind of customer for this platform that this collector is — “Guy completes entire Wii library, and it’s massive”
Your stack of old Wii games pales in comparison to this guy’s collection. Nintendo Age forum user Aaron Norton, who goes by Nintendo Twizer, has posted pictures of his entire Wii library collection, and it’s ridiculous.
According to Norton, the Wii had 1,262 game releases in North America. His collection doesn’t include variants, like different cover arts, collector’s editions, or Nintendo Selects, which were discounted re-releases of popular games. It also doesn’t include demo discs or games that were released in two-packs later on, like the Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy bundle.
(8) JUST DROPPING IN. What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? NASA’s video “A Colorful ‘Landing’ on Pluto” simulates the ride down.
This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip down onto the surface of Pluto — starting with a distant view of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon — and leading up to an eventual ride in for a “landing” on the shoreline of Pluto’s informally named Sputnik Planitia.
To create a movie that makes viewers feel as if they’re diving into Pluto, mission scientists had to interpolate some of the panchromatic (black and white) frames based on what they know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible. Low-resolution color from the Ralph color camera aboard New Horizons was then draped over the frames to give the best available, actual color simulation of what it would look like to descend from high altitude to Pluto’s surface.
After a 9.5-year voyage covering more than three billion miles, New Horizons flew through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015, coming within 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) of Pluto. Carrying powerful telescopic cameras that could spot features smaller than a football field, New Horizons sent back hundreds of images of Pluto and its moons that show how dynamic and fascinating their surfaces are.
(9) RHYME AND REASON. The Science Fiction Poetry Association has started a blog, SPECPO, with a flurry of interesting posts. SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra introduced it on Facebook:
Some of you may have noticed we had a soft-launch of the new blog for the Science Fiction Poetry Association, SPECPO. This will be where we hope to share and archive more member news, interviews, reviews, readings, announcements, and shareable items with one another in a more timely and entertaining way.
To keep it clear: From an organization standpoint, SPECPO does NOT replace Star*Line as the official newsletter of the SFPA for more formal matters that require members atte…ntion, such as voting or other issues outlined in our bylaws and constitution. But SPECPO can serve as a space to post reminders and clarifying commentary and frequently unofficial viewpoints, particularly from guest posters (which will be clearly marked as such when appropriate).
The hope is that this will facilitate conversations on speculative poetry for those who aren’t actively on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, and to provide diverse content that’s reasonably easy to search back for, given the often overwhelming flurry of items that can come up on our list-serv and other forums. This is a work in progress, but I hope you enjoy what we’re putting together and that many of you will volunteer to be guest contributors! 🙂
Keep inspired and keep creating!
(10) DEFINE SPECULATIVE. Just like defining science fiction gives rise to controversies, so does the effort to define speculative poetry. SFPA’s Shannon Connor Winward asked people what is and isn’t “speculative” in a poll on her website. Now the results are in.
In November 2016, the SFPA officers published an informal online survey entitled “What Is Speculative Poetry”. The main purpose of this survey was to determine whether there is an overall consensus among the membership regarding what genres or sub-genres of poetry belong under the heading “speculative”, assuming no other genre elements are present. The results are posted below.
As indicated in the graph and table below, the results of the “What Is Speculative Poetry” survey represent a wide spectrum of opinion regarding what counts as “speculative”. On the upper end of consensus, we find categories that are understood across the literary landscape as falling within the speculative umbrella, including Science Fiction, Space science & exploration, Fantasy, Magic, Supernatural Horror, Myth and Folklore, Fairy Tales, Alternative History, SF&F pop culture, Superheroes, Surrealism, Slipstream, Fabulism, and Weird and “What If”.
Genres that fell more towards the middle of the spectrum—that is, those receiving support by 40-65% of responders, included Science (physics, chemistry, biology, etc), Domestic Fabulism, Dinosaurs, “Interstitial” works, biographies of speculative poets, and poems in which traditional SF&F tropes as literary device (analogy, simile).
On the lower end of the spectrum—those genres that are most controversial, according to responders—we find Bizzaro, SF&F tropes as metaphor (bit of inconsistency there), biographies of scientists and (non-speculative) poets, Mundane Horror, Nature, Religion, Gender, Real history, Cowboy & Western, and Romance.
… Based on the results, the answer to that question is clear as mud–yes, there is consensus, and no, there really isn’t. Are we surprised? Not really!
Nevertheless, it is the consensus of the SFPA executive committee that this survey was, at least, an interesting experiment. We feel that you, our members and colleagues, will also find it interesting, and that, in regards to eligibility for our awards and publications, this survey can also be a useful tool to future SFPA editors and award Chairs, who are tasked with answering the practical question, “What is speculative poetry?”
(11) HOUSE DIVIDED. Shannon Connor Winward has also released the results of a poll about a more specific question – “SFPA ‘Rhysling Maximum Length’ Survey Report” . Despite the narrower question, there was even sharper division.
One such discussion pertained to the Rhysling award “Long Poem” category – specifically, what, if anything, should be done with especially long poems that are nominated for the award. Several members voiced concerns that poems above a certain length might strain the budget for the Rhysling anthology by adding in extra pages and printing costs. Others expressed the idea that particularly long poems might be better considered as a distinct genre, rather than competing against poems of a more easily-consumed length.
In response to these concerns, the SFPA officers published an online survey entitled “Rhysling Maximum Length”, in November 2016.
Question #1: Should there be an upper line limit to long length Rhysling nominated poems?
While not every participant responded to all six questions; this fundamental question received exactly 100 responses, revealing a pure 50/50 split in member opinion:
No – 50 (50%)
Yes – 50 (50%)
Question #2: If yes, what should the upper limit be?
Assuming the membership voted in favor of an upper line limit for poems in the “Long Poem” Rhysling category, it would be necessary to define said limit.
The first option, “9 pages / 5K words / 500 lines” was designed to dovetail upper length limit for Rhysling “Long Poems” with the minimum length requirements for the SFPA’s Elgin Award for book-length works. Out of 51 responses, this option received a majority vote.
9 pages / 5K words / 500 lines – 30 (59%)
Other – 21 (41%)
(12) TRADING PRICES. If you already ordered this Gauntlet Press at the original $150 price you saved $50. Maybe more
When we priced the lettered edition of John Russo’s Night of the Living Dead we were told that George Romero would not be signing the lettered edition (even though we had a preface he wrote). Now Romero has agreed to sign that edition. His signing makes this an event book, therefore we are increasing the price of the lettered edition to $200. The only reason we would increase the price of a book is if we had someone sign our lettered edition we hadn’t expected; someone truly collectible. The good news is that anyone who has already purchased the lettered edition for $150 won’t have to pay a penny more. We don’t believe we should make those who pre-ordered a book pay more if we increase its price. Those who pre-ordered get the same lettered edition, signed by Russo and Romero, as anyone who orders now. And, a word to the wise…we are trying to get other major names to sign the book so the price might increase again. Order now and you get the book for $200 regardless whomever else we get to sign.
(13) MARTIAN CHRONICLER. In 2009, Ray Bradbury made his last visit to JPL to celebrate the success of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andew Porter, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) SOMETHING IN THE AIR. Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer interviews Lois McMaster Bujold at Tor.com: “Fanzines, Cover Art, and the Best Vorkosigan Planet: An Interview with Lois McMaster Bujold”. Everyone will have a favorite section – here’s mine.
ECM: You published a Star Trek fanzine in the 1960s, while the series was still on the air. It’s the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek, so I can’t resist asking you about it. What was it like to be a fan writer in the 1960s?
LMB: It was a lonelier enterprise back then than it is now. I go into it a little in this recent interview.
Other than that, I expect it was like being a newbie writer at any time, all those pictures and feelings churning around in one’s head and latching on to whatever models one could find to try to figure out how to get them down on a page. Besides the professional fiction I was reading, my models included Devra Langsam’s very early ST fanzine Spockanalia, and Columbus, Ohio fan John Ayotte’s general zine Kallikanzaros. It was John who guided Lillian and me through the mechanics of producing a zine, everything from how to type stencils (ah, the smell of Corflu in the morning! and afternoon, and late into the night), where to go to get electrostencils produced, how to run off and collate the pages—John lent us the use of his mimeograph machine in his parents’ basement. (And I just now had to look up the name of that technology on the internet—I had forgotten and all I could think of was “ditto”, a predecessor which had a different smell entirely.)
Fan writing, at the time, was assumed to be writing more about SF and fandom, what people would use blogs to do today, than writing fanfiction. So an all-fiction zine seemed a novelty to some of our fellow fans in Columbus.
John Ayotte! There’s someone I haven’t heard of since I was a young fan.
(2) A GR8 NAME. It’s only fitting that the official Star Wars site be the ones who tell us: “The Official Title for Star Wars: Episode VIII Revealed”.
THE LAST JEDI is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is scheduled for release December 15, 2017.
(3) BUMPER CROP. The Razzie czars, explaining the extra nominees this year, said, “The crop of cinematic crap in 2016 was so extensive that this year’s 37th Annual Razzie Awards is expanding from 5 nominees to an unprecedented 6 contenders in each of its 9 Worst Achievement in Film categories.” Genre films stank up the shortlist, for example —
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- Dirty Grandpa
- Gods of Egypt
- Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
- Independence Day: Resurgence
- Zoolander No. 2
- Ben Affleck / Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- Gerard Butler / Gods of Egypt & London Has Fallen
- Henry Cavill / Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- Robert de Niro / Dirty Grandpa
- Dinesh D’Souza [as Himself] Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
- Ben Stiller / Zoolander No. 2
- Megan Fox / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
- Tyler Perry / BOO! A Medea Halloween
- Julia Roberts / Mother’s Day
- Becky Turner [as Hillary Clinton] Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
- Naomi Watts / Divergent Series: Allegiant & Shut-In
- Shailene Woodley / Divergent Series: Allegiant
The “winners” will be announced February 25, the day before the Academy Awards.
(4) CLARKE ESTATE SUES. 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the works recast as a “study guide” for elementary school readers. Publishers Weekly has the story: “PRH, S&S Sue Moppet Books’ KinderGuides for Infringement”.
Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster have joined with the estates of Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac and Arthur C. Clarke to file a lawsuit against Frederik Colting, Melissa Medina, and their publishing firm, Moppet Books, charging copyright infringement.
Filed January 19 in the Southern District of New York, the suit alleges that Moppet Books’ KinderGuides, a line of illustrated children’s adaptations that feature versions of The Old Man and the Sea, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, On the Road, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, with “willful copyright infringement of four acclaimed copyrighted classic novels.” The suit notes that PW wrote about the launch of the KinderGuides in August 2016.
The suit charges that the KinderGuides seek “to capitalize on the [classic] Novels’ enduring fame and popularity,” describing the titles as “a transparent attempt to recast their unauthorized derivatives as ‘study guides’ intended for the elementary school set.”
(5) ’69 IS DEVINE. Martin Morse Wooster uncovered a hidden gem. “That Nature profile of Sir Arthur C. Clarke linked to a 1969 New Yorker profile of Clarke by Jeremy Bernstein that I haven’t seen before. (The New Yorker has been putting some of its older pieces online.) It’s called ‘Out of the Ego Chamber’ and is well worth breaking the paywall for. You learn how Clarke’s experiences in fandom in the 1930s and 1940s informed his fiction, how he wrote many books about the sea even though he never really learned to swim, and how a 16-year old doofus asked Clarke in 1968 to write a scenario for a short film for free in the hopes he would be paid back when the doofus ‘became famous.’”
However, it is only in the last few years—especially since he and Stanley Kubrick wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey”—that he has become widely known to the general public. He became even more widely known, of course, during the recent flight to the moon, when he served as one of the commentators assisting Walter Cronkite in his coverage of the event for the Columbia Broadcasting System. Cronkite has been a Clarke fan for many years, and Clarke has done a number of television broadcasts with him, beginning as far back as 1953. In following the Apollo 11 flight, Clarke made some dozen appearances. During an early one, Cronkite asked him if he would mind explaining the ending of “2001,” and Clarke answered that he didn’t think there was enough time—then or later. He went to Cape Kennedy with the C.B.S. team, and at the moment of the launch, as he told a friend on his return, he, like everyone around him, burst into tears. “I hadn’t cried for twenty years,” he said. “Right afterward, I happened to run into Eric Sevareid, and he was crying, too.” After the launch, Clarke returned with the rest of the C.B.S. crew to New York and spent most of the next several days in and out of the C.B.S. studios, watching the flight and, from time to time, going on camera. The actual landing on the moon was, in many ways, the fulfillment of a life’s dreaming and prophesying. “For me, it was as if time had stopped,” he said later.
(6) 2001 ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. Sci-Fi writer-director-producer Marc Zicree went to Stan Lee’s Comikaze Convention for his Space Command panel and ran into 2001: A Space Odyssey star Keir Dullea, who shared a scene cut from the film — and re-enacted it!
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
(9) BELATED BARBARIAN BIRTHDAY
(10) THEATER OF THE IMAGINATION. Turner Classic Radio hosts vast quantities of Golden Age shows, which evidently are free to listen to. Includes lots of superheroes (Superman, The Green Hornet) and suspense (Suspense, what else?).
(11) SEVENEVES? Mental Floss compiled a list of “86 Books Barack Obama has recommended during his presidency”, including the Harry Potter series, Seveneves, and The Three-Body Problem.
(12) SIGNERS OF THE TIMES. The Change.org petition to “Repeal California Assembly Bill 1570” (the new law about sale of autographed items) now has 1,612 signatures.
Nearly everyone in California is impacted by AB 1570, California’s new autograph bill, because it affects everyone with a signed item in their possession, whether it’s a painting passed down through generations, an autographed baseball, or a treasured book obtained at an author’s book signing. Under the new law, when a California consumer sells an autographed item worth $5 or more, the consumer’s name and address must be included on a Certificate of Authenticity. This requirement applies to anyone reselling the item as authentic, be it a bookseller, auction house, comic book dealer, antiques dealer, autograph dealer, art dealer, an estate sales company, or even a charity.
AB 1570 is fatally flawed and must be repealed with immediate effect. It is rife with unintended consequences that harm both consumers and small businesses. It has been condemned by newspaper editorial boards and the American Civil Liberties Union.
(13) EXPLORE SPACE IN THE DISCOMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME. A BBC reporter speaks of the “lucky” people who have been to ISS, but discovers in just 48 hours that it’s not the least like fun and games: “My unhappy 48 hours as an astronaut”.
Yet, it is not always necessary to travel into space to experience what it is like living as astronauts do. It may come as a surprise to discover on Earth, dozens of people all over the world have spent months, and even over a year, living in specially built confined spaces that mimic life in space. These simulation pods are found in places like China, Hawaii and Russia, giving researchers the ability to study the effects of long-term isolation and confinement on people in preparation for long-haul space travel.
While we can glean plenty of information from astronauts’ experiences in the ISS and its predecessors, the challenges faced by astronauts will change as space agencies set their sights on the Red Planet. A mission to Mars will mean spending approximately three years in space – six-to-eight months to travel there, several months on the surface, and six-to-eight months to return. The long-term nature of the trip is expected to pose several psychological challenges for those picked to make it
To find out what it might be like, for 48 hours, I tried to live just as astronauts do – attempting to keep up with the schedule of crewmembers on the ISS. As it turns out, they have a very tightly packed workday. I woke up, drank coffee, ate not-so-great food directly from the bag, worked out, worked and repeated the pattern until the day was done. Oh, and I had to spit into a towel twice a day after brushing my teeth.
(14) NO. 1 SHOULD BE NO SURPRISE. Blastr lists “The top 11 composers who have created musical masterpieces for geeky properties”.
- Murray Gold
If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you know the music of Murray Gold. Gold has been the composer for the popular series ever since it returned to television in 2005. Composing for such distinguished Doctors as Christopher Eccleston to Peter Capaldi, he’s created some of the best themes and music in the series’ more than 50-year history. His unforgettable work includes “The Doctor’s Theme,” “Doomsday,” “This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home,” and “I Am the Doctor.” His music has made us feel like we’re on other planets, in a different time period, and traveling through time and space in the TARDIS. Gold also created the themes for the spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Notable piece: “A Good Man? (Twelve’s Theme)” from Doctor Who
Out of all of Gold’s work, his theme for the current Doctor stands out from the rest. It’s like nothing we’ve heard before in the series and captures Capaldi’s Doctor perfectly, more so I think than a theme has fit any of the previous Doctors. Listening to it, you get a sense of mystery, danger, wonder, adventure and determination. There’s gravity to it as well as playfulness. Gold laces it all together into a complex, catchy piece that makes it hard not to picture everything the Doctor has been through, all he has done and all he will continue to do.
(15) FICKLE FINGERS. Atlas Obscura claims: “One Danger of Flashing the Peace Sign Could Be Stolen Fingerprints”. Cat Eldridge sent the link with a comment, “Brunner was right: the future indeed does arrive too soon and in the wrong order.”
Have you ever posed for a photo with your index and middle fingers raised, indicating your desire for world peace? Probably, since the sign has become shorthand for the sentiment after Vietnam War activists popularized it in the 1960s.
But researchers in Japan warned this week that those flashing their exposed fingertips were at risk of fingerprint theft, which in turn could be used for any number of things, like unlocking your iPhone.
Isao Echizen, a researcher at the National Institute of Informatics, said that he and his team were able to lift the fingerprints from someone’s fingers from a photo taken about nine feet away, according to Phys.org.
(16) MAKE AMERICA SMART AGAIN. Owning this shirt will give you an IQ bonus.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Stephen Burridge, Steven H Silver, Arnie Fenner, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark-kitteh.]