Pixel Scoll 10/17/18 They Scrolled Paradise And Pixeled A Parking Lot

(1) BEST OF TED. Ideas.Ted.com. features Nnedi Okorafor: “’Write your story, and don’t be afraid to write it’ — a sci-fi writer talks about finding her voice and being a superhero”.

During family visits to Nigeria in the 1990s and 2000s, Okorafor was fascinated by the harmony between traditional belief systems and brand-new electronic devices. “I started noticing the use and the interplay of technology in Nigerian communities, especially when cell phones came around,” she says. “I saw phones popping up in the most remote places, and they were normalized in really cool ways.” She wondered why stories didn’t depict technology in African nations. In fact, she began to wonder why she wasn’t writing such stories herself.

In college, however, Okorafor found herself discouraged from writing science fiction. “I had professors who were constantly telling me, ‘You’re such a good writer; you want to stay away from all of that weird stuff,’” she remembers. “Eventually I just kind of jumped the rails, because I couldn’t help it.” Okorafor dove headfirst into creating the stories she never found on library shelves growing up — ones with strong female protagonists of color, African locations, speculative technology, aliens and magic, as well as complex and relevant social themes like racial identity and gender violence.

(2) A VISION OF THE FUTURE. Ray Bradbury biographer Sam Weller blasts a proposal to raze Waukegan’s old Carnegie Library building:

And this is why Charles Selle’s ridiculous call to “raze the edifice” of Waukegan, Illinois’ historic 1903 Carnegie Library building is short-sighted and, frankly, emblematic of Waukegan’s frustrating inability to capitalize on its own crown jewel lakefront location and its remarkable history. Cities large and small across the nation are embracing historic revitalization and renovation, attracting artists and entrepreneurs, restaurateurs and urban visionaries who see the connection to the past and the future. Selle’s assertion that the city is “hanging on to the past” with the long-abandoned Carnegie building is correct. Yet he misses the point entirely. Waukegan should hang on to its past. Selle doesn’t even propose a replacement suggestion for the location, instead only calling for the complete demolition of a building with landmark status. The fact of the matter is that the current plans to house the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum in the Carnegie is the best chance to renovate the old biblio-gem, to raise the needed funding, and to properly honor one of the world’s great, inspiring imaginations….

(3) OUT OF THE LINEUP. With Wendig gone, the Shadow of Vader comic has been sidelined, says The Hollywood Reporter — “Marvel Pulls Fired Writer Chuck Wendig’s ‘Shadow of Vader’ Series From Schedule”.

Marvel Entertainment released the official list of January 2019 comic book product this week, and one title was notable by its absence: Shadow of Vader, the five-issue comic book series written by Chuck Wendig, the writer Marvel fired last week because of his social media use.

(4) EREWHON BOOKS BEGINS. Tor.com boosted one of its editors’ new company: “Hugo Award-Winning Editor Liz Gorinsky Launches New Publishing Company Erewhon Books”.

(5) UPTOWN SPOT. Ed Green worked as a background actor on the Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” music video – it’s good thing he got the gig before this new generation of robots came along!

(6) IN PRAISE OF FAMOUS MEN. Except in Slate, this praise is intended satirically — “In Defense of Soylent Green Inventor Henry C. Santini”.

On October 16, 2018, Popular Mechanics published a deeply weird tribute to mercurial industrialist Elon Musk, in which a carefully-curated group of technology journalists and Musk’s fellow rich people praised him for trying, regardless of what he was trying to do, whether or not he succeeded, or the methods he used to pursue his goals. One writer compared him at length to Mark Twain!

On October 16, 2022, NYPD detective Frank Thorn discovered that Soylent Green was made of people. The ensuing public scandal threatened the reputation of Henry C. Santini, the Governor of New York and a board member of both Holcox Manufacturing of Norfolk, Virginia and its parent company, the New-York-based Soylent Corporation.

On October 17, 2022, Slate sprang into action.

He is under attack. For saying the wrong thing, for not making enough Soylent Green, for creating a global manufacturing pipeline based on baking human corpses into little green crackers and telling people they’re made out of plankton. Some of the criticisms have merit. Much of it is myopic and small-brained, from sideline observers gleefully salivating at the opportunity to take him down a peg and maybe score a few extra rations in the process. But what have these anti-cannibalism activists and pontificators done for humanity?

Henry Santini is an engineer at heart, a tinkerer, a problem-solver, a genius at disguising the taste of human flesh—the kind of person Slate has always championed—and the problems he’s trying to solve are hard. Really hard. He could find better ways to spend his money, that’s for sure….

(7) HONEST TRAILERS. These YouTubers bid you “Return to the MCU franchise that makes you say ‘sure’ – It’s Ant-Man and The Wasp.”

(8) PUTTING AWAY THE FEATHERS. Variety has the story — “‘Sesame Street’ Puppeteer Caroll Spinney Retires From Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch Roles”.

Caroll Spinney has been a television mainstay since 1969, but his face has rarely made an appearance.

Disguised beneath a frock of bright yellow feathers and an orange bill, the “Sesame Street” puppeteer was the heart and soul behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the show’s premiere almost 50 years ago.

Now, at the age of 84, Spinney told the New York Times that he is retiring from “Sesame Street” after nearly half a century playing some of the show’s most iconic characters. Come Thursday, Spinney will enter the “Sesame Street” studios in Astoria, Queens for the last time before leaving the roles behind forever.

(9) TODAY IN DUCK HISTORY

  • October 17, 1937 — Huey, Dewey, and Louie first appeared in a comic strip.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 17, 1914 – Jerry Siegel, Comic Book Writer who also used pseudonyms including Joe Carter and Jerry Ess. His first foray into genre was as editor of a 5-issue fanzine called Science Fiction. He was co-creator of the Superman character, along with Joe Shuster. They started off selling stories to National Allied Publications, the original precursor of DC Comics, and sold the Superman character to Detective Comics, Inc., yet another forerunner of DC. His contentious career with DC and elsewhere is far too long to detail here; suffice it to say that if you’ve read comics, you’ve likely encountered some of his characters. He was inducted posthumously, with Shuster, into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame.
  • Born October 17, 1917 – Marsha Hunt, 101, Actor and Singer whose career was hampered by blacklisting during the McCarthy era. She had guest roles on the original versions of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits, as well as on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Shadow Chasers, and the TV movie Fear No Evil. She has spent decades doing humanitarian work to fight poverty, starvation, homelessness, and mental illness.
  • Born October 17, 1922 – George Hay (Oswyn Robert Tregonwell), Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan from the UK who served on convention committees and helped establish the Science Fiction Foundation in 1972. In addition to writing his own four novels, he co-edited the first 6 issues of the long-running Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, edited several anthologies, and his fanzines included Realtime and Door Into George. He co-edited two volumes of The John W. Campbell Letters, the first of which was a finalist for a Hugo for Best Nonfiction Work. Named after him is the George Hay Memorial Lecture, an annual program item at Eastercon (the UK Natcon) in which an invited speaker, often a prominent British scientist, gives a talk on a scientific topic.
  • Born October 17, 1933 – William Anders, 85, Engineer and Astronaut, who was one of the first three persons to leave low Earth orbit and travel to the Moon in Apollo 8 along with fellow astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell. The famous photograph Earthrise was taken by him. His foundation created the Heritage Flight Museum in Washington state; he serves as its President and until 2008 was an active participant in its air shows (his career includes more than 8,000 hours of flight time). The Anders crater on the Moon is named in his honor.
  • Born October 17, 1934 – Alan Garner, 84, Writer from England who is best known for his children’s fantasy novels and his retellings of traditional British folk tales. However, at least two of his novels, Boneland and Thursbitch, are decidedly adult in language and complexity in their storytelling. I strongly recommend both of them for Autumnal reading. His novel The Owl Service received the Carnegie Medal, and he has been recognized with British Fantasy Awards’ Karl Edward Wagner Award for contributions to genre, and with the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, as well as Guest of Honor at World Fantasy Convention.
  • Born October 17, 1946 – Bruce McAllister, 72, Writer, Editor, Teacher, and Poet of mainly short fiction whose novelette “Dream Baby”, about a Vietnam War nurse who can foresee which soldiers will die in battle, was nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards, and was later expanded into a novel which was a Locus Award finalist. Other stories have garnered another Hugo nomination and a Shirley Jackson nomination. As a 16-year-old, he sent a survey to 150 well-known science fiction authors, asking them about symbolism in their work, and whether it was conscious or unconscious, intentional or the invention of readers – and received responses from half of them, ranging from an admin assistant’s blow-off to a thick packet of single-spaced typescript.
  • Born October 17, 1948 – Margot Kidder, Actor and Producer who is best known to genre fans as Lois Lane from Christopher Reeve’s Superman films. Other movie roles included The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, The Amityville Horror, and Halloween II, and guest parts in episodes of The (new) Outer Limits, Tales from the Crypt, Earth: Final Conflict, The Hitchhiker, and – most appropriately – Smallville. She struggled with health issues and bipolar disorder for decades, but in recent years had maintained steady work in numerous independent films and TV roles; sadly, she succumbed to an overdose of alcohol and painkillers in May of this year.
  • Born October 17, 1948 – Robert Jordan (James Oliver Rigney, Jr.), Writer who started out in the 80s writing Conan pastiche novels as well as westerns and historical novels, but who struck gold in the 90s with his Wheel of Time series. The novels were massively popular with fans; his series spawned an ardent Usenet forum community who called themselves Darkfriends and who later built an extensive internet resource at Dragonmount.com (what would now be considered a fandom wiki), inspired the Jordancon annual convention of devotees, and sold millions of copies. In the mid-2000s, he revealed that he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, but continued to work on plot notes for the completion of the WoT series until his death. His widow, Tor editor Harriet McDougal, personally chose author Brandon Sanderson to complete the series using Jordan’s notes, and after the final three volumes were published, the entire series was nominated by Hugo voters for Best Novel. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was posthumously given the Phoenix Award for Lifetime Achievement by Southern Fandom.
  • Born October 17, 1950 – Michael J. Walsh, 68, Publisher, Conrunner, and Fan who found fandom at the age of 17 and became involved in running conventions; he chaired numerous Disclave, Capclave, Balticon, and World Fantasy Conventions, as well as the notoriously-insolvent 1983 Worldcon. He is a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association, and has held a number of offices in that organization in addition to starting WSFA Press, which publishes special editions of works by Disclave and Capclave Guests of Honor. In 1993, he founded Old Earth Books, which publishes niche editions and reprints of out-of-print works, and which received a Special World Fantasy Award for its collections of Howard Waldrop’s short fiction; and he has been Guest of Honor at several conventions.
  • Born October 17, 1956 – Dr. Mae C. Jemison, 62, Physician, Engineer, and Astronaut who was a member of NASA’s eight-day 50th Space Shuttle mission in 1992, beginning each shift with the words “Hailing frequencies open” in honor of Nichelle Nichols, the Star Trek actor who inspired her to become an astronaut. The following year she left NASA to found her own company to promote STEM education to young people; her company won the bid for the joint DARPA and NASA 100 Year Starship Project to create a business plan that can last 100 years in order to help foster the research needed for interstellar travel. Jemison had a cameo on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and served as technical consultant for the current season of National Geographic’s drama series Mars (which – hey! is available in the U.S. via online streaming… BRB in about 6 hours). She was immortalized last year in LEGO’s Women of NASA minifigure set.
  • Born October 17, 1958 – Jo Fletcher, 60, Journalist, Writer, Editor, Critic, Poet, and Publisher from the UK who became involved in fandom at the age of 20, contributing to, and later editing, the British Fantasy Society’s Bulletin and attending conventions. Eventually she wound up running the British Fantasy Society with editor Stephen Jones, chairing Fantasycon (the British Fantasy Convention) and the first World Fantasy Convention held outside of North America, and serving on the boards of the WFA and WHA. After 16 years of running Orion’s Gollancz SFF imprint, including its SF Masterworks and Fantasy Masterworks lines, in 2011 she started her own imprint under Quercus; as ample demonstration of her acumen, Jo Fletcher Books published Robert Jackson Bennett’s Hugo-nominated Divine Cities trilogy. She’s been Guest of Honor at FantasyCon and WFC, has been recognized with the BFA’s Karl Edward Wagner Award for her contributions to genre and the BFS, and was given a special World Fantasy Award for Gollancz’ Fantasy Masterworks series.
  • Born October 17, 1971 – Patrick Ness, 47, Writer, Journalist, and Producer who emigrated from the U.S. to England. He is best known for his books for young adults, including the Chaos Walking trilogy, the novels of which received a Tiptree Award, a Carnegie Medal, and a Clarke Award nomination, and were adapted into a movie which will be out next March. His novel A Monster Calls won a Carnegie Medal and was nominated for a Stoker Award and the Prix Imaginaire; he adapted it into a movie which was nominated for a Saturn Award. He also wrote and produced the Doctor Who spinoff series Class, about a group of teenagers dealing with time travel and aliens.
  • Born October 17, 1983 – Felicity Jones, 35, Actor from England who gained genre fame, and a Saturn nomination, starring in the Star Wars film Rogue One, which won a Saturn Award and was a Hugo finalist for Best Dramatic Presentation; she reprised that role in the animated Star Wars: Forces of Destiny series. Other genre appearances include an Oscar-nominated lead role in the Stephen Hawking docudrama The Theory of Everything, the Saturn-nominated film adaptation of Ness’ A Monster Calls, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Inferno, a main role in the TV series The Worst Witch and its sequel series Weirdsister College, and an episode of Doctor Who. She has a lead role in next year’s The Aeronauts, a fictionalized version of the story of the hot air balloon pilot and the scientist who, in 1862, set a still-standing record for ascending 7 miles up in the atmosphere.
  • Born October 17, 1984 – Randall Munroe, 34, Engineer, Writer, and Cartoonist who has become famous for his webcomic xkcd, which frequently has panels relating to science, genre fiction, and other items of genre interest – including the Filer favorite Today’s Lucky 10,000. His 2015 book Thing Explainer explains concepts using only the 1,000 most common English words. He was twice a finalist for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, and his animated graphic sequence Time won a Hugo for Best Graphic Novel.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) PROBLEMS WITH NOCTURNAL READER’S BOX. Jason Sanford shares a free report from his Patreon: “Publisher files suit against Nocturnal Reader’s Box, alleges $100,000 in books from multiple genre presses are missing”.

Nocturnal Reader’s Box (NRB), a “subscription box service shipping horror-themed books and merchandise for the price of $35 per month,” shut down in September. According to Bleeding Cool, the service run by the husband and wife team of Jessica and Vincent Guerrero was the “subject of numerous complaints about late or nonexistent shipping, changes to the company’s terms of service, missing or different-than-advertised items, and purportedly non-existent tracking numbers.”

The website for NRB currently states that “We’re temporarily closed!” Despite this, people online are alleging that NRB is still charging credit cards and that automatic renewal charges are still going through….

(13) VIEWED FROM THE INSIDE. Joseph Bentz answers the question “Why Is Writing So Hard?” — but as many books as he has out, you’d never suspect he had reason to ask!

Why do you need all those writers conferences to commiserate and moan about an activity—writing—that you supposedly love?

It’s a fair point, and yet, writers are very familiar with all those agonizing hours we spend squirming, staring at walls, searching for words, deleting words, and writing through drafts that won’t quite come together. Why such struggle?

I finally figured out why writing is so hard….

(14) FRANCOFILE. Adweek devotes an article to French company Cdiscount’s ad campaign — “These Outlandish Aliens Getting Ecommerce Deals Is the Spaciest of Oddities” – unfortunately, registration is required to read it.

The animated space creatures featured in Cdiscount’s latest campaign are absolutely over the moon about the French ecommerce site.

Thanks to YouTube you can see the ad – and if you speak French, even understand it!

(15) LEGACY. Vice’s Motherboard website explains how “How Paul Allen Saved the American Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” by donating money to the effort.

On Monday evening, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 65. At the time of his death, Allen was the 47th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $26 billion. For the last few decades of his life, Allen used his wealth for a staggering variety of business and philanthropic interests. In addition to owning the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers, Allen founded a brain science institute, an AI institute, and Stratolaunch Systems, which was exploring private spaceflight.

Yet one of the research areas where Allen made the biggest impact was also the one he spoke about the least: the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Indeed, Allen almost single-handedly rescued American SETI by donating over $30 million to scientists scanning the cosmos for intelligent radio signals.

(16) BRIGHT IDEA? According to the People’s Daily Online, China plans to use a mirror satellite to provide outdoors nighttime illumination for the city of Chengdu—and real soon now  (“Chengdu to launch ‘artificial moon’ in 2020”). The claim is that it will be several times brighter than a full moon over the city.

Southwestern China’s city of Chengdu plans to launch its illumination satellite, also known as the “artificial moon”, in 2020, according to Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd.

Wu made the remarks at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship activity held in Chengdu on Oct. 10.

The illumination satellite is designed to complement the moon at night. Wu introduced that the brightness of the “artificial moon” is eight times that of the real moon, and will be bright enough to replace street lights.

…Some people expressed concern that the lights reflected from space could have adverse effects on the daily routine of certain animals and astronomical observation.

Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, explained that the light of the satellite is similar to a dusk-like glow, so it should not affect animals’ routines

(17) WAX ON. WAX OFF. Gizmodo’s io9 warns you, “Don’t Blink: Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who Wax Figure Is Watching You.”

That’s not a picture of Jodie Whittaker, Doctor Who’s new star, up there. Seriously. It’s a wax recreation so good that even the Nestene Consciousness itself would be a bit jealous of the handiwork behind it.

This frankly absurdly lifelike replica of Whittaker in her full 13th Doctor regalia is the work of a new Doctor Who experience at Madame Tussauds in Blackpool. Alongside the uncanny recreation of the actress, the experience includes one of the actual TARDIS props used during the filming of the 11th season of the show, as visitors are tasked with trawling a forest to hunt down the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver—retrieving it and bringing it back to its rightful, albeit waxy, owner.

(18) TROPE THEORY. The Fifth Element, Enchanted, Tron Legacy, My Stepmother Is an Alien, Sheena, Planet of the Apes, Stargate, Star Trek, Splash and other mermaid tales, even Forbidden Planet.  The female characters in the movies and shows are what Pop Culture Detective labels “born sexy yesterday” and describes as a male fantasy trope.  Occasionally, as in Star Man, the trope is in reverse.

(19) LIVE FROM 2007. For reasons that would take too long to explain I watched a lot of Commando Cody episodes before the start of LASFS meetings, so I especially enjoyed this parody of the classic serial –

[Thanks to JJ, John A Arkansawyer, Jason Sanford, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter, for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor and earworm creator of the day bill.]

Pixel Scroll 10/16/18 Pixel Me, Ray Bradbury!

(1) WORLD FANTASY CON PRELIMINARY PROGRAM. WFC 2018 takes place in Baltimore from November 1-4. Their draft program is now up — World Fantasy 2018 Preliminary Program Grid.

This is the Preliminary program schedule. These are the program items we’re planning on having. New things may emerge, and any of these may disappear in puff of logic, all without warning. The program will be updated as information changes, but please check for official notifications during the convention.

(2) LE GUIN’S EARTHSEA ON RADIO. From SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie we learn: “Beeb Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 Extra has just started season 2 of Le Guin’s The Wizard of Earthsea.

Episode 1 of season 2 here.

On the island of Gont, Tenar saves a remarkable young girl from certain death. She also makes a dangerous enemy.

Ursula K Le Guin’s enduring fantasy saga – based on the novel Tehanu adapted by Judith Adams.

“And the lovely folk have re-posted the 1st season on here on BBC i-Player so you can catch up.  But note: season 1 will only be up on iPlayer for another 3 weeks.”

(3) DEVICES INCLUDED. The audience for the Thirteenth Doctor’s debut grows to record-setting levels when stats from devices are rolled in — “Doctor Who: Biggest first episode for new Doctor”.

Jodie Whittaker attracted a record audience for a new Doctor in the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who.

The episode was watched by 10.9 million viewers, which makes it the highest Doctor Who series opener since the show was relaunched in 2005.

The consolidated figures from ratings body Barb includes the number of people watching on devices as well as TV.

Barb only began counting ratings for phones, PCs and tablets last month.

The previous highest series launch episode for the drama was in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston, which attracted 10.8 million.

That number obviously didn’t include device figures.

(4) SPECTRUM 25 CEREMONY. John Fleskes has just posted a story with photos about the Spectrum 25 awards ceremony last May in Hollywood: “Spectrum 25 Awards Ceremony Stories and Pictures”

To be able to create a gathering where the Spectrum community can get together and celebrate is not only meaningful, it helps to encourage others. All the award recipients had an emotional response and made sincere and expressive acceptance speeches. Everyone who attended left with a want to do more to create and inspire others to do the same. This is why Spectrum exists and why we find the awards ceremony to be so important to have and to share.

(5) GAME ART MASHUP. Fans in Japan get all the cool stuff. Well, at least if you think crossing Edvard Munch and Pokémon is cool (The Verge: “Pokémon’s upcoming ‘The Scream’ cards capture 2018’s existential horror”).

The world is running out of clean water, climate change continues to ravage the planet, and politics everywhere are a total nightmare: nearly every day of 2018 has carried the emotional weight of an entire year. It’s fitting, then, that this is also the year The Pokémon Company is announcing a partnership with the Tokyo Art Museum to produce special trading cards based on The Scream, the iconic expressionist painting by Edvard Munch.

According to the official release [Google Translate version], the promotional cards will be available starting October 27th to celebrate a special exhibition at the Tokyo Art Museum. Each card, which will retail for 450 yen, will feature a pocket monster with a scream attack that causes confusion (hence the crossover between the game and the painting). Cards will be available through official Pokémon centers in Japan when fans purchase booster packs, though there will also be other Munch / Pokémon-related merch up for sale, too.

(6) THIS IS MONSTROUS. A special exhibition—De Monstris—at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto caught the attention of  Brigit Katz, writing for Smithsonian.com (“Rare Book Library Summons Tales of World’s Oldest Monsters”).

In December 1495, Rome was devastated by four days of heavy flooding. After the deluge subsided, rumors began to swirl about a terrible monster that had washed up onto the banks of the Tiber. The creature was said to be a grotesque pastiche of human and animal body parts: it had, among other peculiarities, the head of a donkey, the breasts of a woman, the bearded visage of an old man on its behind, and a tail crowned with a roaring dragon’s head.

This was the era on the cusp of the Reformation, and many were convinced that the monster had been conjured as an ominous portent of papal corruption, with each of its hodge-podge body parts representing a different vice. (The creature’s “feminine” breasts and belly symbolized “the sensuality of the cardinals and ecclesiastical elites”; the old man on its hind parts marked a “dying regime.”) Printed images of the so-called “Papal Ass” were circulated widely in the years after the flood. Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, even commented on the monster in his railings against the Catholic Church.

(7) SPACE VS. SCI-FI. In the Washington Post, Elahe Izadi tries to separate space movies from sci-fi flicks, with one difference being if space is “a pretty easy and chill place to hang out” then it’s sci-fi and not a space movie — “Sorry, your favorite ‘space’ movie is not actually a space movie”.

… But what, exactly, makes a movie a space movie? Is it merely the location? What if only a few scenes are in space? What about the involvement of aliens? Is it a space movie if the movie title has a space-y word, like “galaxy” or, say, “space”?

…These are the kinds of questions you have to grapple with before you even try to rank the best space movies. So, below is a system on how to tell whether your favorite movie is actually a space movie — including a handy, totally professional flowchart!

(8) LEARNING TO SPELL. WIRED’s Jason Kehe says he’s seen this before – plenty of times: “Why So Many Fantasy Novels Are Obsessed With Academia”.

The best fantasy debut of 2018 has a problem. It was also the best fantasy debut of 2009. And 2007. And 1997, 1985, 1982, and 1968.

Authors change; the story stays the same. In the darkness a child is born. The child suffers, but he has mysterious power. Posthaste, destiny leads the child to the same place it herds all the courageous orphan-protagonists of speculative fiction: a storied and exclusive institution of magical learning, where he unnerves the faculty, demonstrates arrogance, and forms lasting friendships on his way to vanquishing evil.

…This year’s Potter, though it pulls from a number of related sources, is The Poppy War, the first of a planned trilogy set in the Empire of Nikan, an evocation of 20th-century China in everything from geography and mythology to military history. Written by the scarily proficient newcomer R.F. Kuang—she was 19 and a student at Georgetown University when she sold it—the book adds to a recent wave of East Asian fantasy with a sad, gifted orphan of its own.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 16, 1854 – Oscar Wilde, Writer, Journalist, Playwright, and Poet from Ireland whose only novel, the supernatural gothic horror work The Picture of Dorian Gray, has been translated into more than a dozen languages, made into countless radio plays, musicals, TV films and movies — the 1945 version of which was awarded a Retro Hugo — and had enduring influence on modern popular culture as an examination of morality. His long list of short fiction credits includes some fairy tales and genre stories, of which the best known is “The Canterville Ghost”, which has likewise undergone a copious number of translations and adaptations into various media.
  • Born October 16, 1874 – Lucien Rudaux, Astronomer, Artist, and Illustrator from France who in the 1920s and 30s created famous space-themed paintings featuring planets and moons rendered according to the state of astronomical knowledge at the time, as well the illustrated work Sur Les Autres Mondes (On Other Worlds). The Rudaux crater on Mars and the asteroid 3574 Rudaux are named for him, as is the Lucien Rudaux Memorial Award, given by the International Association of Astronomical Artists to creators of space-themed works (recipients have included Chesley Bonestell and Rick Sternbach).
  • Born October 16, 1925 – Angela Lansbury, 93, Actor from England who emigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. Though perhaps best known now for her long-running Miss Marple homage TV series Murder, She Wrote, her early career included movies of some import, and she received Oscar nominations for genre films The Manchurian Candidate and the Retro-Hugo-winning The Picture of Dorian Gray. Other genre roles include Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Nanny McPhee, and The Mirror Crack’d (for which she received a Saturn nomination), and she has lent her distinctive voice to a number of animated features including the Saturn-nominated adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, the Hugo-nominated Beauty and the Beast, Anastasia, Fantasia 2000, The Grinch, and Heidi 4 Paws, which is, interestingly, a retelling of the well-known Heidi where all of the roles are played by dogs.
  • Born October 16, 1926 – Ed Valigursky, Artist who created more than 200 pulp magazine and novel covers, mainly for Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, and Ace Books, including Ace Doubles, along with dozens of interior illustrations. The more-than-50 covers he did in 1955 earned him a nomination for the Best Artist Hugo the following year. During the 1960s he contributed illustrations to classic trading cards sets, including the Topps titles Batman and Battle!. In the 1970s and 80s he created covers illustrating NASA’s space program for Popular Mechanics.
  • Born October 16, 1927 –  Claire Necker, Librarian and Writer. This might be going a little astray from genre birthdays, but I think not, given that most of us have SJW credentials. She wrote a number of feline-related academic works including The Natural History of Cats, Supernatural Cats: An Anthology — which includes stories by writers such as Fritz Lieber, C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner, August Derleth, and H.P. Lovecraft — and Four Centuries of Cat Books; Cat’s Got Our Tongue is a collection of feline-centered proverbs.
  • Born October 16, 1940 – Barry Corbin, 78, Actor whose face will be familiar from his many character roles — frequently as gruff military officers or crusty eccentrics — including those in genre movies WarGames, My Science Project, Ghost Dad, Race to Space, Dawn of the Crescent Moon, Curdled, Critters 2, and Timequest, which appears to be an uncredited version of Greg Benford’s Timescape (which provided the name for the Pocket Books line of science fiction novels helmed by David G. Hartwell in the early 1980s). He narrated Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon, based on the book by Mercury Seven astronaut Alan Shepard.
  • Born October 16, 1963 – Glenn Glazer, 55, Conrunner and Fan who has been on the concoms for many Worldcons and regional conventions, chaired a Smofcon and a Westercon, and was one of three vice-chairs for Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon. He has been involved in a number of APAs, including SWAPA, Mutations, The Calling, LASFAPA, APA-69, and APA-FNORD.
  • Born October 16, 1966 – Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, 52, Actor, Writer, and Director. Aside from appearing in episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Star Trek: Voyager, and Quantum Leap, she’s credited with more than 500 voice acting roles in animated movies, TV series, and videogames, including The Avengers, Ghost in the Shell, X-Men, Steven Universe, and Bleach. She directed 18 episodes of the long-running anime Naruto, and has been Guest of Honor at Anime Expo.
  • Born October 16, 1971 – Lawrence Schimel, 47, Writer, Editor, Poet, and Translator. He is a founding member of The Publishing Triangle, an organization promoting fiction by LGBTQ authors and/or with LGBTQ themes, which inform many of his short fiction works. He has edited, mostly in collaboration with Martin H. Greenberg, at least 10 anthologies. His solo anthology, Things Invisible to See, and one of his short fiction collections were both recognized with Lambda Award nominations, and his speculative poetry has garnered a Rhysling Award nomination and a win.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

A classic Trek-themed joke in Monty.

(11) DON’T LOOK DOWN. In an article at The Verge, astronaut Nick Hague recounts “What it’s like to fall 31 miles to Earth after your rocket fails”—and fortunately he’s here to tell his own tale.

For the first few minutes, the ride to space had been routine. NASA astronaut Nick Hague and his fellow crew mate, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, were pressed into their seats inside a Russian Soyuz capsule as the vehicle rapidly climbed through the atmosphere. Then then there was a jolt.

“The first thing I really noticed was being shaken fairly violently from side to side,” Hague said during a round of broadcast interviews [16 October 2018].
The vehicle carrying Hague and Ovchinin had just taken off from Kazakhstan at 4:40AM ET (2:40PM local time). Just two and a half minutes into flight, the vehicle began to break apart. It’s still unclear what triggered the failure, but Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos thinks that there was some unintended contact during stage separation. On the Soyuz, four boosters surrounding the center core of the rocket are meant to break away during flight, but it’s possible one of the four crashed into the middle of the vehicle.

(12) SOYUZ. If the previous item doesn’t curb your enthusiasm, The Space Review points the way to joining the Russian space program — “So, you want to become a cosmonaut? Inside the 2018 cosmonaut selection process”.

For more than 50 years, Russia (and, previously, the Soviet Union) selected the majority of its cosmonauts from the ranks of Air Force pilots or engineering and scientific bureaus and agencies closely linked to the space program. There were exceptions, such as the four female parachutists (and one engineer) selected in 1962, but generally, this approach served the requirements of the Russian space effort.

This changed in 2012, when Roscosmos launched the first ever “open selection” for cosmonauts, to which any Russian citizen could apply, subject to having a higher education in certain specified fields, generally good health, and be under the age of 35.

As a result of this process, eight new cosmonaut candidates were presented to the media in August 2012. This group included candidates from a more diverse range of backgrounds, than the traditional careers mentioned above: mostly engineers, as well as two instructors from Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre and a solitary military pilot.

(13) FACT CHECKING FIRST MAN. Christian Davenport in the Washington Post says the scene in First Man where Neil Armstrong leaves a bracelet with the name of his dead daughter Karen on the moon is almost certainly a dramatization that did not actually take place: “‘First Man’ shows Neil Armstrong mourning his daughter on the moon. But did that really happen?”

Bill Barry, NASA’s chief historian, said questions about the scene came up recently during an event for the movie at the Kennedy Space Center. The conclusion, he wrote in an email to The Washington Post: “The scene was created for the movie, and there is no specific evidence that Neil Armstrong left any ‘memorial items’ on the moon.”

(14) GRRM & PEOPLE WHO LOVE HIS BOOKS. Charles Yu profiles “George R. R. Martin, Fantasy’s Reigning King” for the New York Times.

MARTIN WAS RAISED in Bayonne, N.J., the son of a longshoreman and a factory worker. He has talked in the past about his childhood growing up in a federal housing project, gazing across the water at Staten Island, watching ships coming into port, imagining them traveling from distant lands he would never see.

He’s now based in Santa Fe, where he moved in 1979 from Dubuque, Iowa, where he was teaching journalism at Clarke College. After Tom Reamy, a friend of his and a fellow SFF author, died suddenly in 1977, at the age of 42, Martin was galvanized: “I thought, ‘Do I have all the time in the world? I want to write all these stories.’” He decided to quit teaching to write full time in New Mexico, spending the next decade and a half as a well-received, if not yet famous, fantasy author. He lives with Parris McBride, his second wife; the two of them are ardent supporters of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization that rescues and provides sanctuary to captive-bred wolves. When it’s time for him to focus on his books, Martin heads to what he calls his “hideaway” in an undisclosed location.

(15) GRRM SIDEBAR. In this side feature, the writer discloses where he gets his signature hats and the “Game of Thrones” character that reminds him the most of Trump. Watch the video or read the transcript — “George R. R. Martin Answers Times Staffers’ Burning Questions” at the New York Times.

We selected a handful of staffers’ queries for Martin to field on the set of his cover photo shoot, in Santa Fe, N.M., and filmed a number of his responses for the video above. Below are all of the questions that Martin answered — or, in some cases, tellingly declined to answer. Here’s what he had to say about his favorite books, where he gets his signature hats and the “Game of Thrones” character that reminds him the most of Trump.

Maureen Dowd, Op-Ed Columnist

Dowd: Who reminds you most of Trump? Dan Weiss [one of the “Game of Thrones” creators and writers] told me that the character that reminded him the most of Trump is Hodor because he endlessly repeats his own name.

Martin: Well, that’s amusing. But I think even during the campaign I said that Trump reminded me most of Joffrey. They have the same level of emotional maturity. And Joffrey likes to remind everyone that he’s king. And he thinks that gives him the ability to do anything. And we’re not an absolute monarchy, like Westeros is. We’re a constitutional republic. And yet, Trump doesn’t seem to know what that means. He thinks the presidency gives him the power to do anything. And so, yeah, Joffrey is Trump.

(16) TIME PASSAGES. Inverse reports on an anomaly seen around the shooting of the upcoming Joker origin film (“Batmobile Sighting on the ‘Joker’ Set Hints at Time-Related Shenanigans”).

The new Joker movie, which stars Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role as Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, takes place before Batman ever existed. It’s a world where Bruce’s dad, Thomas Wayne, is still alive and running for mayor. So what’s the Batmobile doing on set?

That’s the question Batman fans are reckoning with after a video from the Joker’s New Jersey set revealed what looks a lot like the original Batmobile from the Adam West TV show.

So, sly TV reference aside, how does the Batmobile exist in a pre-Batman world? The Inverse article explores three possible—and very comic-book-esque—explanations.

(17) DOES GOOD FENCING MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS? Russia may be leading the lightsaber race. DW has the story — “Moscow Star Wars school trains novice Jedi”.

But saber fighting is more than a Star Wars fantasy for those training here. It is a style of stage fencing, which has been considered an official sport in Russia since 2008. And here at the school, the novice Jedi say it is a real workout, particularly because the movie fight scenes they are emulating are very dynamic. “I came out of my first training session and my knees were shaking — I thought I was going to sit down now and never get up,” Daria says, thinking back to when she started in January. “But it gets easier with every session.” Now she says she loves the physical challenge. “And also — it’s Star Wars!”

(18) MOVIE STAR DINOS. Scientsts suspect “The ‘ugly duckling’ fossil from the deep” is a juvenile rather than a progenitor of the species.

The mosasaurs recently took a star turn in the Jurassic World movie, showing off the Hollywood version of their fearsome jaws.

Now an “ugly duckling” from 85 million years ago is shedding new light on the giant marine reptiles that lived at the time of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Scientists have long puzzled over how the diminutive fossil fitted into the family tree.

They now think it was still developing the distinctive long snout of its clan.

(19) THE DATING GAME. Was Pliny the Younger too old to remember the right date? “Pompeii: Vesuvius eruption may have been later than thought” – an on-site graffito challenges Nth-generation copies of Pliny’s letter, but matches findings of harvested plants in ashes.

Historians have long believed that Mount Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79 AD, destroying the nearby Roman city of Pompeii.

But now, an inscription has been uncovered dated to mid-October – almost two months later.

Italy’s culture minister labelled it “an extraordinary discovery.”

(20) BITS IS BITS. When the BBC asks “Would you eat slaughter-free meat?” it means feather cells grown into chicken nuggets – a company says the product will be in restaurants “by the end of this year”

In 1931, Winston Churchill predicted that the human race would one day “escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium”.

Eighty-seven years later, that day has come as we discovered at Just, a food company in San Francisco where we tasted chicken nuggets grown from the cells of a chicken feather.

The chicken – which tasted like chicken – was still alive, reportedly roaming on a farm not far from the laboratory.

(21) ROBOT FRIENDS. Dara Elasfar in the Washington Post notes how the Smithsonian now has four robots named Pepper as helpers at four of its museums, a gift from SoftBank Robotics of Japan.  Kids like them; Asa Bernstein, 6, said  “If I had a robot named Pepper, I would make it do my homework, and make sugar cookies with me!” Video — “Meet the Hirshhorn’s newest staffer, Pepper the robot”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Arnold Fenner, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 10/15/18 Scrolldenfreude

(1) WORLDS BEYOND HERE. The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle is hosting Worlds Beyond Here from October 12, 2018 through September 15, 2019.

Looking at the connection between Asian Pacific Americans and the infinite possibilities of science fiction, World’s Beyond Here follows the path of a young Sci Fi fan becoming an empowered creator, limited only by imagination.

Popular science fiction has had a disappointing lack of Asian Pacific American (APA) representation in American media, based primarily on stereotypes. Despite this, APAs have had and continue to have a large impact in science fiction, often behind the scenes, and a number of pioneering APA artists, actors, designers, writers, animators, and directors have persevered and inspired new generations of fans/creators with their stories and visions. For many Asian Pacific Americans, science fiction addresses issues related to identity, immigration and race, technology, morality and the human condition, all while capturing the imagination through exciting adventures in outer space and time travel.

Michi Trota authored the exhibit text, and told Uncanny Magazine readers about her experience in “On Writing the Exhibit Text for Worlds Beyond Here: Expanding the Universe of APA Science Fiction”

The exhibit covers pop culture touchstones like Star Trek, Star Wars, time travel, “cli-fi,” and sentient robots, as well as how APA creators are imagining silkpunk worlds, reclaiming the genre from Orientalism, envisioning exploration narratives free from colonialism, and grappling with the ethics and morality of technological access and development, as well as science fiction’s ever-present questions of what it means to be human—all through the lens of APA experiences and perspectives.

She has a Twitter thread, starting here, that includes photos and art.

On Facebook, Trota posted the list of people who were consulted in the development of the exhibit – lots of familiar names there.

One of them was Mary Anne Mohanraj, who also posted some photos from the exhibit:

I was one of the people the curators consulted at the start of the exhibit, and though I didn’t have time to get as involved as I would’ve liked, I think I helped reframe their initial concept away from just focusing on tokenization and exclusion towards examining and celebrating the historic and current work of APA SF creators.

They even included a little thing I wrote about Spock. Is this the first time I’ve had work in a museum? I think it might be!

Artist Francesca Myrman showed Facebook followers a piece of her artwork that’s in the exhibit.

I am beyond honored that Ken Liu appreciated my artwork illustrating the world of the Grace of Kings for his May 2015 Locus interview. He’s used it a couple times since to illustrate the idea of “silkpunk” for various publications, but a museum show is above and beyond!

(2) OLD PEOPLE READ NEW SFF. James Davis Nicoll has his Old People reading “Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points by JY Yang”. Can they dig it?

This installment of Old People Read New SFF features JY Yang’s Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points. Some of us—well, me, mostly—only became aware of Yang when they read Yang’s Silkpunk works for tor dot com. Yang has in fact been active since 2012, published in venues from Clarkesworld to Apex. Some of us—well, me, mostly—should have been more observant. Although Yang’s protagonist Starling is in no sense human, it turns out Starling shares something vital with its human creators. But is that common element enough to endear it to my Old Readers?

Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points can be read here.

(3) SENDAK. The Society of Illustrators will host a “Maurice Sendak Exhibit and Sale” from October 23 until November 3.

The Society of Illustrators is pleased to announce a special exhibition of legendary artist Maurice Sendak’s work. Longtime friends and collectors Justin Schiller and Dennis M V David present a look at some of Sendak’s rarest pieces, including illustrations from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence, a booklet commissioned by his British publishers as a 1967 Christmas keepsake. It is the only remaining manuscript for a published Sendak title still in private hands and is being exhibited for the first time publicly. In addition to these drawings, this exhibition will include more than a hundred watercolors, ink and pencil designs for Mr. Sendak’s various book, theatre and commercial work. All of the works will be available to purchase.

Admission to the exhibit will be free during special hours (Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 5pm; Saturday – Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm).

(4) KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED. In “Proof of life: how would we recognise an alien if we saw one?” on Aeon, Oxford postgrad Samuel Levin asks how you would recognize alien life from a photograph.  How would it be different from a bunch of rocks  The answer is that natural selection would show that aliens have adapted to their environment.

One thing that sets life apart from nonlife is its apparent design. Living things, from the simplest bacteria to the great redwoods, have vast numbers of intricate parts working together to make the organism function. Think of your hands, heart, spleen, mitochondria, cilia, neurons, toenails – all collaborating in synchrony to help you navigate, eat, think and survive. The most beautiful natural rock formations lack even a tiny fraction of the myriad parts of a single bacterial cell that coordinate to help it divide and reproduce.

(5) THE BOYS. Coming from Amazon Prime Video in 2019.

In a world where superheroes embrace the darker side of their massive celebrity and fame, THE BOYS centers on a group of vigilantes known informally as “The Boys,” who set out to take down corrupt superheroes with no more than their blue-collar grit and a willingness to fight dirty. THE BOYS is a fun and irreverent take on what happens when superheroes – who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods – abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. It’s the powerless against the super powerful as The Boys embark on a heroic quest to expose the truth about “The Seven,” and Vought – the multi-billion dollar conglomerate that manages these superheroes. THE BOYS is scheduled for a 2019 release.

 

(6) OPPORTUNITY LOST? We’re still waiting for it to phone home – and according to Gizmodo, “There May Still Be Hope for NASA’s Sleeping Opportunity Rover”.

It’s been months since NASA engineers have heard from the sleeping Opportunity rover, which powered down after getting caught in a massive dust storm on Mars that obscured its surface from the Sun. But all hope isn’t yet lost, as the space agency said in an update Thursday that a coming windy season on the Red Planet could help clear dust believed to be obstructing Opportunity’s solar panels.

“A windy period on Mars—known to Opportunity’s team as “dust-clearing season”—occurs in the November-to-January time frame and has helped clean the rover’s panels in the past,” NASA said.

In the meantime, engineers with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—which oversees the 14-year-old rover’s operations—are increasing the number of commands to Opportunity and listening for any calls home in the event that it is still operational.

(7) THEY SCOPED OUT THE PROBLEM. But there’s good news about another piece of space exploring tech: Just a few days after putting itself in safe mode after a gyroscope failure, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has been diagnosed, the problem addressed, and the telescope on its way back to normal (NASA: “Chandra Operations Resume After Cause of Safe Mode Identified”). Science operations should resume shortly.

The cause of Chandra’s safe mode on October 10 has now been understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the spacecraft to its normal pointing mode. The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra’s gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that in turn led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum. The erroneous momentum indication then triggered the safe mode.

The team has completed plans to switch gyroscopes and place the gyroscope that experienced the glitch in reserve. Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations which are expected to commence by the end of this week.

(8) PAUL ALLEN OBIT. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died October 15 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Paul Allen and Bill Gates in 1981.

Allen’s pioneering work in PC’s and software made him a wealthy man – not that it came easily. The Digital Antiquarian’s post “A Pirate’s Life for me, Part 1: Don’t Copy That Floppy!” reproduced an open letter from Bill Gates published in 1976 that ended —

The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however: 1) most of these “users” never bought BASIC (less than 10 percent of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) the amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 per hour.

Of course, just a few years later they secured a deal to provide the software for IBM PCs, the foundation of their success.

Paul Allen effectively left the company he named (“Micro-Soft”) in 1982 due to serious illness, but remained on the Microsoft board of directors until 2000, and retained his stock, so when the company went public he became a billionaire.

His investments and philanthropy have often made news.

  • In a Gehry-designed building near Seattle’s Space Needle he created a dual science fiction and rock music museum with many exhibits drawn from Allen’s own collections. (The cream of those sf collectibles had been bought from Forrest J Ackerman.) And in 2004 the Science Fiction Hall of Fame was transplanted from the GunnCenter for the Study of Science Fiction to Seattle’s Science Fiction Museum. However, not even Paul Allen’s money could sustain things as originally conceived. The Science Fiction Museum was de-installed in 2011 and the place has been reorganized as MoPOP, a pop culture museum that includes science-fiction-themed exhibits.
  • He was the sole investor behind aerospace engineer and entrepreneur Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne suborbital commercial spacecraft.
  • He also donated $30 million to build the Allen Telescope Array, run by the SETI Institute near Mt. Shasta, an enormous ear listening for any sign of intelligent life in the universe.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ — and a guest!]

  • Born October 15, 1911 James H. Schmitz, Writer. An émigré from Germany to the U.S., he produced numerous short fiction works and novels, the best known of which is the space opera The Witches of Karres, which earned him one of his two Hugo nominations and has been translated into several different languages. Witches was an expansion of a novelette originally published in Astounding, where many of his stories were published. His short fiction, which also garnered four Nebula nominations, has been gathered into several collections, including a NESFA’s Choice “Best of” edition.
  • Born October 15, 1919 E.C. “Ted” Tubb, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan from England who between 1950 and his death in 2010 produced more than 230 short fiction works and 140 novels, the best known of which are his Dumarest series, and the Cap Kennedy series written as Gregory Kern. In the late 50s, he edited the magazine Authentic Science Fiction for two years. He was one of the co-founders of the British Science Fiction Association, as well as editor of the first issue of its journal, Vector. Interestingly, he also wrote several Space: 1999 tie-in novels in the 70s. He served on convention-running committees, and was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1970 Worldcon in Germany.
  • Born October 15, 1923 Italo Calvino, Writer and Journalist who was born in Cuba, but grew up in Italy. His works range widely across the literary spectrum, across realism, surrealism, and absurdism. As a genre writer he is best known for his “cosmicomics”, linked stories which explore fantastical speculations about subjects such as mathematics, evolution, and human perception. At the time of his death in 1985, he was the most-translated Italian author, and he was recognized with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.
  • Born October 15, 1924 Mark Lenard, Actor best known to genre fans as Sarek, father of Spock, in both the original and animated Star Trek series, as well as three of the films and two episodes of The Next Generation. He also played a Klingon in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and a Romulan in an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, and had guest roles in genre series Mission: Impossible, The Girl With Something Extra, Planet of the Apes, The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Otherworld. During the same time period as the original Star Trek series, he also starred in the western Here Come the Brides, and SFF author Barbara Hambly famously worked a crossover of the two series into her early Star Trek tie-in novel for Pocket Books, Ishmael, where Lenard’s Brides character is one of Spock’s ancestors, and which also contained cameos by characters from Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica.
  • Born October 15, 1933 Georgia Myrle Miller, 85, Writer under the name of Sasha Miller who produced a number of fantasy novels and shorter works, including collaborating with Andre Norton on the five novels in the Cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan, a novel written in Norton’s Witch World universe, and GURPS Witch World with Ben W. Miller, a rule book for the role-playing game system.
  • Born October 15, 1935 Ray “Duggie” Fisher, Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes.
  • Born October 15, 1938 Don Simpson, 80, Artist and Fan who has done cover art and interior illustrations for numerous genre works. He also shows up in several of David McDaniel’s Man from U.N.C.L.E. tie-in novels as “Mr. Simpson of R&D”, and was the inspiration for the villain in McDaniel’s first U.N.C.L.E. novel The Dagger Affair. He is the proud possessor of a purchase order from the Smithsonian Institution for “One (1) alien artifact,” which he designed for the Air and Space Museum. He has been Artist Guest of Honor at a Westercon and other conventions.
  • Born October 15, 1942 – Lon Atkins, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally!. He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player.
  • Born October 15, 1969 Dominic West, 49, Actor, Musician, and Director from England whose most recent appearance was as Lara Croft’s father in the Tomb Raider reboot, but has also appeared in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, 300, John Carter, The Awakening, Hannibal Rising, and a version of The Christmas Carol, as well as providing voices in animated features such as Finding Dory and Arthur Christmas.
  • Born October 15, 1999 Bailee Madison, 19, Actor who starred in The Bridge to Terabitha at the age of 7, the series The Wizards of Waverly Place at age 11, and the series Good Witch which is now in its fourth season. Other genre appearances include Afraid of the Dark, The Night Before Halloween, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, and Once Upon a Time.

[guest birthday bio from Mark Hepworth]

  • Born October 15, 1953  Walter Jon Williams, 65, Writer. A versatile author who has skipped around genres, including writing his cyberpunk novel Hardwired  without having heard of cyberpunk, while Metropolitan is a novel he insists is fantasy but fans persistently label as some flavour of science fiction. His near-future Dagmar Shaw series rather prophetically featured a Turkish revolution facilitated by social media just as the Arab Spring was gaining momentum. His longest-running series is the space opera Dread Empire’s Fall (Praxis), which he recently rebooted with the short novel Impersonations and the just-released novel The Accidental War. He has five Hugo nominations, ten Nebula nominations (winning twice), a Sidewise Award, and an assortment of other nominations including Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick, World Fantasy, and Prix Imaginaire. He has been Guest of Honour for at least a dozen conventions, including WorldCon 75. Other work includes writing for Star Wars, Wild Cards, RPGs, TV, and historical novels, and he is founder and an instructor for the Taos Toolbox, an annual two-week SF writer’s workshop.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • A little-known fact of airline piloting — The Argyle Sweater.
  • This Monty shows that some things simply can’t be handled by a Universal Translator.

(11) THAT’S WHO. Mashable invites you to “Trip out to the new ‘Doctor Who’ title sequence, made by a longtime fan”:

The sequence is the work of a visual effects artist only known as John Smith, who made his own opening back in 2010 as a 16-year-old fan and posted it to YouTube.

“I had no idea what I was doing, but was so excited for Matt Smith’s first series that I decided to try what every Whovian-turned-VFX-Artist does at some point… making my own title sequence for the show,” Smith wrote in a Facebook post.

Eight years later, Smith was tapped to create a real sequence for the latest series.

 

(12) WHAT’S GALLIFREY LIKE? And Gizmodo consulted an array of scientists and left convinced that Doctor Who’s Gallifrey Would Be a Nightmarishly Awful Place to Live”.

…Assuming that large red star isn’t just extremely close to the planet, it could be a red giant nearing the end of its life. What of the other? For clues, we can look to the planet’s flora.

The Tenth Doctor referenced trees with silver leaves. Lillian Ostrach, a research physical scientist at the US Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center, told Earther the silver color could come from the absorption of strange metals from Gallifrey’s soil. It could also mean that those plants evolved to absorb a different type of solar radiation than Earth’s green plants do….

(13) HISTORIC SFF PHOTOS. The Forbidden Planet bookstore archive hosts images from their instore events — from 1978 to 1989, including signings with Mark Hamill and Dave Prowse, James Doohan, Nick Rhodes, Jon Pertwee, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, Anne McCaffrey and others.

(14) FANNISH PARADISE? Well, at least one day a year…. “Uzupis: a tiny republic of free spirits”.

Meaning ‘beyond the river’ in Lithuanian, Užupis is separated from the rest of the city by the Vilnele River. The republic celebrates its independence annually on 1 April, known locally as Užupis Day. On this day, travellers can get their passports stamped as they cross the bridge into the republic (every other day, the border is not guarded), use the local (unofficial) currency and treat themselves to the beer that flows from the water spout in the main square (yes, really).

(15) A LOT OF BIRTHDAYS AGO. Walter Jon Williams was interviewed about cyberpunk by phone in this 1991 episode of the Chronic Rift TV program.

In our second season premiere, Andrea Lipinski and Keith DeCandido welcome editor Brian Thomsen, physicist Joseph Pierce, and author Walter Jon Williams to our Roundtable discussion of the cyberpunk genre. The Memorable Moment is from the classic film, “H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond”. Trivia: We resolve the cliffhanger by introducing a race of beings called, “The Dork”. We also have a new animated sequence and theme song. The sequence was created by Mike Fichera who wanted to emulate the feel of the “Terminator” movie. The theme song was created by Victor Fichera. It would be the theme song for the rest of the series and was used when the podcast started. Victor recently updated the theme for our Facebook Live show. Originally Aired: September 2, 1991

 

(16) TSUNDOKU OR NOT TSUNDOKU? Most of us own books we’ve read and books we haven’t. Kevin Mims considers the importance of owning books we’ll never get around to finishing — “All Those Books You’ve Bought but Haven’t Read? There’s a Word for That” at the New York Times.

In truth, however, the tsundoku fails to describe much of my library. I own a lot of story collections, poetry anthologies and books of essays, which I bought knowing I would probably not read every entry. People like Taleb, Stillman and whoever coined the word tsundoku seem to recognize only two categories of book: the read and the unread. But every book lover knows there is a third category that falls somewhere between the other two: the partially read book. Just about every title on a book lover’s reference shelves, for instance, falls into this category.

(17) DISABLED PEOPLE DESTROY SF. Charles Payseur returns to review Uncanny in “Quick Sips – Uncanny #24 Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! [October Fiction]”.

It’s the second month of Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! As before, I’m breaking October’s offerings into two parts, the fiction and the poetry, and starting out with the six new stories exploring futures near and far. This month’s pieces definitely focus on some grim realities—hospitals and universities and families and cities where disabled people are not exactly the priority, or at least not in the ways they want. The stories look at characters trapped by circumstance and (largely) by tragedy, brought to a crisis because their situation is getting worse and worse. And in each case, they must make decisions either to sit down and be quiet or to fight back, to try to follow their own hearts. The works are often dark, often difficult, but ultimately I feel reaching for healing and for peace, for a space that the characters can have as their own, which is much more about freedom than confinement. To the reviews!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Outer Space” by Sabine Hossenfelder on YouTube is a video about space travel done by a singer whose day job is as a theoretical physicist.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Jeffrey Smith, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 10/14/18 There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Pixel

(1) WHO NOVELIZATION. The Irish Times profiles Dave Rudden, an Irish writer of Doctor Who tie-in fiction: “Meet the Irish author who is reinventing Doctor Who”. The article includes a sweet story about how Rudden dedicated one of the first 13th Doctor stories to an elderly lady and longterm Who fan, who was bullied by the nuns at her school for her love and science and SF.

At the invitation of the franchise’s custodians at Puffin and the BBC, he has written a new anthology of Doctor Who stories for kids (he has no idea why he was chosen beyond hypothesising that someone must have felt he would do the franchise justice). Get even the tiniest detail wrong – he is, of course, confident he hasn’t – and the internet will emit a mighty howl of outrage.

“I know I am stepping into an established canon,” says Rudden. “People have a preconceived notion as to what a Doctor Who short story should be. And I am little nervous about that. There are people who will say, ‘that’s not how [iconic Fourth Doctor] Tom Baker would speak . . . I hope I get it right. If not, I’ll take the criticism on board.”

Doctor Who: Twelve Angels Weeping represents another feather in the cap of a writer who has built a fanbase with his Knights of the Borrowed Dark fantasy saga (a TV adaptation is in the works). The collection also makes a small piece of sci-fi history. It’s the first Dr Who book to feature Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor, rainbow braces and all.

(2) EMOTIONAL LIVES OF WRITERS. Peter M. Ball returns to the subject of “Writing and Shame” at Man Versus Bear.

…I’ve written about the connections between writing and shame before–the first time back in 2010, when I talked about the connection between shame, writing, and money, and more recently in 2013 when I pondered the narratives of shame that come with the gig of writing. I found myself hinting at it yesterday, talking about cohorts, and it comes up again and again when I start looking at my recurring anxieties.

I often talk about the fear inherent in being a writer, but often it should be phrased as shame: so much of the fear is a consequence of being ashamed at what’s achieved, or more often, what is hoped for.

It starts early, the moment you decide to start writing and the world conspires to tell you that decision is wrong. The terms by which your work will be valued are laid out for you in the rhetoric you hear as a constant refrain: There is no money in writing. Can i buy your work in a bookstore? You should try writing the next Harry Potter. Oh, what have you had published? 

(3) NO PREMIO MINOTAURO IN 2018. Ediciones Minotauro has issued a statement that the XV edition of the Minotauro Award will be given in 2019.

The Minotauro Award has been awarded since 2004, and is the one with the highest endowment among fantastic genre awards in Spanish. In 2004, the winner (León Arsenal , with Mascaras de Matar) was awarded 18,000 Euros, although, due to the crisis, that amount was reduced to 6,000 that Pablo Tébar won in 2017 with Nieve en Marte.

(4) ‘TIS THE HWA SEASON. The Horror Writers Association blog is counting down to Halloween. Here are a few highlights:

One of the main things to remember when world building, especially for horror, is to strike a balance between the suspension of disbelief and logic. If you’re creating a serial killer or monster with supernatural powers, for instance, there should be some limitations on what they can and can’t do so their victims have somewhat of a fighting chance, even if the odds are never in their favor.

“My name is Victoria Winters and my journey is beginning…a journey that will take me to a strange, dark house, high atop Widows’ Hill.  A house called Collinwood…”

So begins the first episode of “Dark Shadows” (DS), a popular 1960’s soap opera featuring an otherworldly cast of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches and other spooks germane to the Halloween season.  As each episode opens with a monologue to set the scene, so it opens with a view of “Collinwood,” the sprawling chateau where the show’s action unfolds.

The image of Collinwood, with its tower, dormers, and multiple chimneys, is as iconic as the vampire Barnabas. Although the interiors of the great estate were stage sets, the exterior of the house and the grounds belong to Seaview Terrace, a mansion in Newport, RI, where I have been privileged to spend Halloween in the company of other DS fans.  This Halloween will be our tenth in the house.  Over time, party attendance has grown from two-dozen people to nearly 100.

Before there were TV horror hosts, haunted houses, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, there were spook shows. Now a nearly forgotten bit of Americana, these once incredibly popular shows toured around the country on the movie theater circuit from the 1940’s through the 1960’s. In some ways the last vestige of vaudeville, they featured comedy, spooky magic, a little burlesque and often a séance. A half-century before it was a term, the spook shows were also on the cutting edge of “immersive” theater. The climax of every show was a “blackout sequence,” in which the audience was placed in total darkness, surrounded by supernatural phenomena they could see, hear and feel. They had all kinds of tricks to make that happen.

(5) HEAR KRUGMAN. Tyler Cowen interviews Paul Krugman in an episode of the “Conversations With Tyler” podcast — “Paul Krugman on Politics, Inequality, and Following Your Curiosity (Ep. 51)”.  The episode has a lot of sfnal content.  Krugman talks about a paper on interstellar travel he wrote in the early 1990s, and answers the question of “Star Trek or Star Wars?” by saying he doesn’t particularly like either show, but likes some of the speculation in Star Trek.  Krugman also discusses his love of Isaac Asimov, and said he became an economist because he wanted to be a psychohistorian, and then explains why Asimov’s psychohistory won’t work.  Finally, he says his favorite contemporary sf writer is Charles Stross, and his favorite Stross series are the Merchant Princes novels, which he says is “a type of development economics.”

(6) DEATH BY CHOCOLATE. Adweek promises “These Brazilian Candy Ads Are Undeniably Dark Yet Surprisingly Entertaining”.

“Chocolate World” for the Lacta 5Star bar is a series of ads where this community of confection is under siege by a raft of cookies, cocoa and caramel, the three ingredients in the candy. All of the spots grab your attention pretty quickly and, despite their graphic nature and dark storylines, are compelling to watch—but be forewarned, this might not be the candy advertising you’re used to.

In one ad, asteroids, in the form of delicious cookies, destroy everything in sight, resulting in rivers of caramel.

In another, an astronaut attempts to flee a massive baked boulder to no avail as a planet explodes into celestial caramel goodness.

And, in probably the most graphic spot in the set, a skier tries to outmaneuver an angry squirrel, only to have his head snipped by a tree before falling into a lake of caramel.

 

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 14, 1926 — A. A. Milne’s classic, Winnie-the-Pooh, was published.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 14, 1891 – Dorothy McIlwraith, Editor from Canada. She was the third editor of the long-running horror fiction and fantasy fiction venue Weird Tales, one of the earliest pulp magazines, and was responsible for buying some of the first published stories by Fritz Leiber and some of the earliest covers and interior art by Hannes Bok. She edited Weird Tales for more than fourteen years, starting in 1940 until the end of its publication in 1954. She also edited Short Stories magazine, an adventure-oriented pulp magazine. She was a finalist for the 1941 Retro Hugo for Best Short Form Editor.
  • Born October 14, 1916 – Jack Arnold, Actor and Director, best known as one of the leading filmmakers of 1950s science fiction films, whose works included Creature from the Black Lagoon, Tarantula, the Hugo-winning adaptation of Richard Matheson’s The Incredible Shrinking Man, and the Hugo-nominated It Came from Outer Space, for which the screenplay by Harry Essex was derived from an original treatment by Ray Bradbury (screen legend says that Bradbury wrote the screenplay and Harry Essex merely changed the dialogue and took the credit). He also directed several episodes of the TV series Science Fiction Theatre and It’s About Time. In 1985 he was given a special Saturn Award, the President’s Award, for his career contributions to science fiction cinema.
  • Born October 14, 1944 – Udo Kier, 74, Actor from Germany who emigrated to England, has appeared in more than 200 films, and has become a well-known face in genre movies (especially of the vampire variety), frequently cast as the villain. Some of his more notable appearances include Johnny Mnemonic, Blade, End of Days, Shadow of the Vampire, BloodRayne, Barb Wire, and Grindhouse. He has also done considerable voice work in animated series including recurring roles in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated and Beware the Batman.
  • Born October 14, 1946 – Katy Manning, 72, Actor from England, later Australia, who appeared in 77 episodes in three years playing Companion to the Third Doctor, a role she reprised with the Eleventh Doctor in 2010 in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode “Death of the Doctor”.
  • Born October 14, 1947 – David Day, 71, Writer and Artist from Canada known for numerous illustrated reference works in the Tolkien domain. Don’t where Tolkien falls for JJ but for me, he is a creature of Autumn, and I love the reference works about him and his fiction, so here’s an academic to my liking and here’s a few of his works: The Hobbit Companion (which I highly recommend), An Atlas of Tolkien, and his newest work, The Dark Powers of Tolkien.
  • Born October 14, 1953 – Richard Christian Matheson, 65, Writer of both horror fiction and screenplays, including the film Nightmare Cinema, the TV series Splatter, and a thankfully-unproduced miniseries of The Chronicles of Amber. He has had dozens of short fiction works published, and his only genre novel was nominated for a Stoker Award.
  • Born October 14, 1953 – Greg Evigan, 65, Actor and Singer who played the lead in William Shatner’s TekWar TV films and series, and had genre roles in the movies DeepStar Six, House of the Damned, Cerberus, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, and in episodes of the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, The Outer Limits, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
  • Born October 14, 1963 – Lori Petty, 55, Actor, Writer, and Director probably best known within the genre for her turn as the eponymous character in Tank Girl; she has an extensive genre acting history, including films Dead Awake, Route 666, Cryptid, and Bates Motel, guest roles in TV series The Twilight Zone, Alien Nation, Star Trek: Voyager, Gotham, and Freddy’s Nightmares, and voice parts in several animated series.
  • Born October 14, 1974 – Itoh Keikaku, Writer from Japan whose breakout 2007 novel Genocidal Organ won a Nihon SF Taisho Award (the Japanese equivalent of the Nebula) and is considered one of that country’s best SF novels of the last decade. Harmony, the sequel, won a Seiun Award and its English translation was a finalist for a Philip K. Dick Special Citation; the translation of his novella The Indifference Engine was a Shirley Jackson finalist; and his novel The Empire of Corpses won a Seiun. All three of his novels were adapted into anime films. His early promise was cut short by his death from cancer in 2009 at the age of 34.
  • Born October 14, 1980 – John Edgar Browning, 38, Writer, Editor, and Critic. It being that month, I’ve got an academic who focuses on the horror genre and vampires. He’s edited nonfiction anthologies of reviews and essays, such as Draculas, Vampires, and Other Undead Forms: Essays on Gender, Race, and Culture, and Graphic Horror: Movie Monster Memories, and co-written the work Zombie Talk: Culture, History, Politics.

(9) RUN AWAY! Mashable issues a warning with this news item — “Jon Favreau teases his Star Wars TV series with an alarming set photo”.

It’s time to pack it in, my fellow Star Wars fans. The atrocious(ly amazing) Holiday Special is officially canon.

Jon Favreau treated Instagram followers to a teasing visual nugget tied to his upcoming TV series, The Mandalorian. You might look at the photo and think, “So what? It’s just a funky Star Wars blaster, right?”

Right. And wrong. This image contains multitudes. Look upon it and weep, Star Wars faithful.

That’s not just any blaster, you see. That blaster contains multitudes. It bears a striking resemblance to the one an animated version of the notorious bounty hunter carried around in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, a made-for-TV assault on the senses driven by hilariously bad writing and excessive holiday schmaltz.

(10) MIB. SYFY Wire boosts the signal — “Tessa Thompson shares photo from new Men in Black set”.

With the sneak peeks Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth are giving us of the upcoming Men in Black film, we have to hope no one with a neuralyzer shows up at our door any time soon. The two have been doing an excellent job of teasing the film, from sharing their travels from the set to that of Avengers 4 to giving us an initial image of themselves as MIB agents. Now we have an even better idea of what the two will look like in the movie thanks to a photo Thompson shared on Instagram Friday from the set.

View this post on Instagram

Buds in Black. @chrishemsworth

A post shared by Tessa Thompson (@tessamaethompson) on

(11) SCREAM QUEEN. Leonard Maltin interviews “Jamie Lee Curtis on Her Return to Halloween.

At one point, she recalls making a conscious effort to leave the horror genre behind. Then the son of late producer Moustapha Akkad, who launched the Halloween films, convinced her in 2011 to attend an event to benefit a children’s charity called sCare dedicated to corralling horror fans, and stars, to fight poverty and homelessness among America’s youth.

She agreed and met her fans en masse for the first time. It made her realize she’d made the right decision, movie-wise, and that being scared could, indeed, be a good thing, with very positive vibes.

“I had a bucket,” she recalls. “People would come up with a hundred bucks and say, ‘I believe in what you’re doing. Thank you for those movies.’ It was crazy. It was fantastic. What I ended up getting back from that group is love—pure, beautiful love of the genre. Love of Laurie, love of the story, love of it all.”

(12) REFASHIONING SCI-FI. Dazed, in “New zine Vagina Dentata is exploring sci-fi through a feminist lens”, speaks to founder Smin Smith “about the importance of representation, reclaiming science fiction from the cis, white hands of Hollywood and how minorities are biting back in a post-Trump world.”

Hey Smin, can you start by telling us a bit about where you interest in sci-fi and fashion came from?
Growing up, I didn’t watch any science fiction or fantasy, but I loved designing as a child and would watch Alexander McQueen catwalks on YouTube, so this probably all stems back to the Plato’s Atlantis collection. I was 15 at the time and can remember having it in every sketchbook at school, finding a way I could incorporate it into every project – that’s how I discovered science fiction.

I went on to study at UCA (Epsom) and one of my first projects at university was a zine inspired by film culture, so I drew my favourite characters in collections from that season – Tom Ripley in Commes Des Garçons, Barbarella in Vivienne Westwood and Princess Leia in McQueen. Science fiction, fashion, and feminism have always been the biggest influences upon my creative practice (whether as a stylist or writer), and the concept evolved over the next few years and became the much more collaborative and photographic zine that you see today.

So what was your mission when launching Vagina Dentata Zine?
I wanted to explore the symbiotic relationship I saw between science fiction, fashion and feminism. Recent theories like Xenofeminism have proposed a shift in technology production away from white, cis men, and into the hands of minorities. This feels particularly poignant when you realise that sci-fi film employs less women than any other film genre (both in front and behind of the camera). The zine provides a platform for those excluded by Hollywood (women, LGBTQIA+, POC and non-binary creatives) to interact and engage with science fiction – so it’s both a love letter and a burn book to the genre that shaped me.

(13) BARREL OF LAUGHS. “Whisky Wonka-style tour creates a boozy wonderland” – the Calgary Herald tells an LA story.

… Hidden behind a Queen of Hearts painted wall where the eyes rotate to see who is walking into the warehouse-come-distillery in the heart of the Los Angeles Arts District is a wonderland of amusements and whisky….

…As we continue our journey, we enter the vast lab to hear about “Project One Night Stand.” In the middle of the room sits a lonely nightstand made in the 1880s from a now-extinct American chestnut. The team of beakerheads are trying to recreate a whisky that was aged in barrels matured in that American chestnut. To do that, they scour antique stores to find old furniture to chip into the reactor.

We move on to taste more spirits in a tent with first edition novels by H.G. Wells lining the walls, then to another room to drink from ornate tea cups. But then, the tour takes a spin. Serious … we spin on a carousel where someone in the dark starts reciting that creepy Willy Wonka Tunnel song … ”there’s no way of knowing … which direction we are going …” As it borders on creepy, the curtain opens to a new land and, yeah … more booze and it’s tasting better all the time.

(14) BURNING BOOKS. Carolyn Kellogg finds the mystery irresistible: “Who started the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Library? Susan Orlean investigates in her new book” in the Los Angeles Times.

Hundreds of L.A. firefighters fought the devastating fire.at downtown’s Central Library on April 29, 1986. Thousands of people contributed to the Save the Books campaign afterward. Millions heard the news that the library was burning and then that it was caused by arson. But more than three decades later, only Orlean was asking who did it and why, and wondering whether anyone today should care. In a reverse “Fahrenheit 451,” Orlean took a fire and turned it into a book.

Titled — aptly and ingeniously — “The Library Book,” it tells the story of the mysterious fire that burned 400,000 books while also tracing Orlean’s love of libraries, from trips with her mother to taking her son….

Tapping a concrete wall, she explained where the fire had started, in the stacks. Built as two secure concrete chutes within the original 1926 building, the stacks held hundreds of thousands of books and were connected by a catwalk for librarians. After the fire started — leaping across the catwalk from the first stack to the second — the chutes served as dual furnaces, books trapped inside with the fire.

“Their covers burst like popcorn. Pages flared and blackened and then sprang away from their bindings, a ream of sooty scraps soaring on the updraft. The fire flashed through fiction, consuming it as it traveled,” Orlean writes in her book. “It reached for the cookbooks. The cookbooks burned up. The fire scrambled to the sixth tier and then to the seventh. Every book in its path bloomed with flame.”

(15) SUPERHERO SPECTRUM. Here’s an interesting concept – where else would you find Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan, the Genie from Disney’s Aladdin, and Sadness from Inside Out teamed together? “This Artist Sorted Famous Characters By Color And Here’s What She Found Out” at deMilked.

The artist said she tried to classify these pop culture characters to see how different shades and tones interact in a group of characters of supposedly the same color. “Unlike humans, fictional characters are very different from one another – they have different, sometimes very odd, forms, they are made of different unearthly substances, and lastly, they are, undeniably, different colors – even when they seem the same. Is the blue color of a Smurf the same as Megaman’s? I don’t think so,” said Linda about her project.

Check out the color-coded characters in the gallery below!

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]

Pixel Scroll 10/13/18 I Can Hear The Pixels Singing Each To Each

(1) GREAT AMERICAN READ UPDATE. Right now five of the top 10 books are sff, as Shelf Awareness alerts readers that the “Great American Read Voting Deadline Nears”:

The deadline is approaching to cast votes for the country’s best-loved novel, and organizers of The Great American Read have released a Top 10 list of the leading candidates thus far. The project’s “Grand Finale” episode will air October 23 on PBS stations nationwide to reveal the number one book.

To date, more than 3.8 million votes have been cast. Viewers can vote for their favorite titles each day through October 18 using hashtag voting via Facebook and Twitter, SMS texting with the dedicated book hashtag, and toll-free by phone. All methods can be found here.

Entering the final week, the current top 10 books, in alphabetical order, are:

• Charlotte’s Web
• Chronicles of Narnia series
• Gone with the Wind
• Harry Potter series
• Jane Eyre
• Little Women
• Lord of the Rings series
• Outlander series
• Pride and Prejudice
• To Kill a Mockingbird

(2) GENRE CROSSOVERS. Claire O’Dell, in “Crime In The Land of Gods and Monsters” on Crimereads, recommends eight sf/mystery crossovers, including works by Aliette de Bodard, Malka Older, and Nnedi Okorafor.

Aliette de Bodard, The Tea Master and the Detective (Subterranean Press)

Ever since the original Watson and Holmes stories first appeared, other authors have experimented with their own takes on the genius detective and his faithful friend. De Bodard has set her own pastiche in her Xuya universe (a far future space age initially dominated by Asian powers). Here we have a Watson who is a mindship named The Shadow’s Child, and who brews psychotropic teas for her customers. Long Chau is our Holmes, and just as abrasive and given to self-medication as the original.

Of course, there is a mystery. Long Chau initially comes to The Shadow’s Child because she wants to locate a corpse in space—for scientific reasons, she says—but she needs a specific concoction to ensure her mind still functions in the Deep Spaces. Chau and The Shadow’s Child do locate a corpse, but when Chau deduces that this was no accident, but a murder, the two embark on an investigation together.

(3) SAWYER ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. Reuters conducted a wide-ranging interview with Robert J. Sawyer about the future of AI — “Judging artificial intelligence on its prospects for judging us”. This is just a sample —

ANSWERS: Do you think we will achieve artificial general intelligence (AGI) this century? If so, how do you see it taking shape? And how can it be contained and managed by humans?

ROBERT J. SAWYER: …There is no inner life whatsoever, to that AI or any other AI in the world right now as far as we’ve been able to determine; not any inkling of what we would call consciousness.

The reason for that is very simple. We don’t know what gave rise to it in humanity. Therefore, reproducing it in lines of code is the same thing as saying to a programmer (no matter how good that programmer is), “Reproduce artistic genius for me. Reproduce poetic inspiration for me. Reproduce romantic love for me.”

We don’t know how to do it, so we don’t know how to code it. In that sense, I think we’re nowhere near having artificial general intelligence in the strong AI sense, the way academics use it to refer to machines capable of experiencing consciousness, of having an inner life. Not Watson, not Deep Blue, you name your favorite one, it ain’t doing it. There’s nobody home.

In the weaker sense of being able to perform any intellectual or cognitive task that a human being can perform, absolutely we will have AGI. In the near future, it will be a reality for sure. There’s no question that, with computer growth being exponential as described by Moore’s Law, we are absolutely going to have AGI and in a horizon for which business and the general public should be concerned right now.

(4) FINAL PAPER. Engadget reports “Stephen Hawking’s last paper on black holes is now online”.

Stephen Hawking never stopped trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding black holes — in fact, he was still working to solve one of them shortly before his death. Now, his last research paper on the subject is finally available online through pre-publication website ArXiV, thanks to his co-authors from Cambridge and Harvard. It’s entitled Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair, and it tackles the black hole paradox. According to Hawking’s co-author Malcolm Perry, the paradox “is perhaps the most puzzling problem in fundamental theoretical physics today” and was the center of the late physicist’s life for decades.

The information paradox arose from Hawking’s theoretical argument back in the 1970s that black holes have a temperature. As such, they’re bound to evaporate over time until there’s nothing left, releasing energy now called the “Hawking Radiation.” See, it’s believed that when an object enters a black hole, its information gets preserved on its surface forever even if it vanishes from sight. If a black hole evaporates, though, then so will that information. That creates a paradox, because according to the rules of quantum physics, information can never be destroyed.

The new paper shows how that information can be preserved by photons called “soft hair” surrounding the edge of black hole, which you might know as the event horizon. According to Hawking, Perry, Andrew Strominger and Sasha Haco, a black hole’s temperature changes when you throw an object (say, a planet’s atoms) into it. The hotter it gets, the more its entropy (its internal disorder) rises. That entropy is what’s preserved in a black hole’s soft hair.

(5) FISTREBUFFS. The Hollywood Reporter says this Marvel show is leaving the air: “‘Iron Fist’ Canceled After Two Seasons at Netflix”.

The first Marvel drama has been canceled at Netflix.

Iron Fist, the fourth in the original four-show deal between the streaming giant and Disney’s Marvel, will not return for a third season.

“Marvel’s Iron Fist will not return for a third season on Netflix. Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is proud of the series and grateful for all of the hard work from our incredible cast, crew and showrunners. We’re thankful to the fans who have watched these two seasons, and for the partnership we’ve shared on this series. While the series on Netflix has ended, the immortal Iron Fist will live on,” reps for Netflix and Marvel said in a statement to THR late Friday.

(6) SIGNS OF THE TIMES.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • October 13, 1939 – Melinda Dillon, 79, Actor who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the Hugo finalist Close Encounters of the Third Kind. She also played roles in Harry and the Hendersons, Spontaneous Combustion, the Matt Salinger version of Captain America, and had guest roles on The Twilight Zone and the miniseries adaptation of James Michener’s Space.
  • October 13, 1954 – Stephen Gallagher, 64, Writer and Producer. He wrote more than a dozen genre novels and several dozen shorter fiction works, largely science-fictional horror, mostly in the 80s and 90s, as well as 4-part Doctor Who TV serials for both the Fourth and Fifth Doctors, and adapted his novels Chimera and Oktober into TV miniseries. He has received several British Fantasy, World Fantasy, Stoker, and International Horror Guild Award nominations; his collection Out of His Mind won a BFA, and his short story “The Box” won an IHG Award.
  • October 13, 1956 – Chris Carter, 62, Emmy-Nominated Writer, Director, and Producer, best known as the creator of The X-Files, which has accumulated more than 200 episodes during its initial run from 1993 to 2002 and its renewed run from 2016 to 2018, as well as the spinoff series The Lone Gunmen and the series Millennium (no connection to the John Varley work) and Harsh Realm. He shares a credit with Elizabeth Hand for one of the X-Files tie-in novels entitled Fight the Future.
  • October 13, 1959 – Wayne Pygram, 59, Actor from Australia who played quite possibly one of the best-developed villains in genre series history, in the role of Scorpius on the Farscape series. He also appeared as Governor Tarkin in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and had guest roles on the TV Series Lost, Time Trax, and The Girl from Tomorrow.
  • October 13, 1962 – Patrick McMurray, 56, Conrunner and Fan. He is an Irish-born resident of the UK who chaired Mancunicon (the 2016 UK Eastercon National Convention), and has served on a number of other Eastercon and Worldcon committees. He has been a member of several fan groups, and for several years maintained the Memory Hole Annex, a paper archive of printed convention materials. He attended the Australian Natcon in 2004 as the GUFF delegate.
  • October 13, 1963 – Hiro Kanagawa, 55, Actor and Playwright from Japan who emigrated to Canada and has become a go-to actor for character roles in genre TV shows and films. He has had recurring roles in Salvation, Altered Carbon, Legends of Tomorrow, Heroes Reborn, The Man in the High Castle, The 100, and Caprica, with guest roles on dozens more, as well as parts in genre films such as Elektra, The Day the Earth Stood Still remake, and Doomsday Prophecy.
  • October 13, 1964 – Christopher Judge, 54, Actor, Writer, and Producer best known to genre fans as the Jaffa warrior Teal’c in more than 200 episodes of the Hugo-nominated Stargate SG-1, for which he received a Saturn nomination, with a guest appearance on Stargate: Atlantis, and a reprise of that role lending his magnificent voice to the Stargate videogames.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Good grief! A Halloween legend gets out of hand in Bacon.
  • You’ll never guess who joined the National League in Over the Hedge.
  • Can you pass the bookstore entrance exam in this Non Sequitur?

(9) KERMODE. First Man — it’s not a film about a shark (makes sense in context).

Mark Kermode reviews First Man. A biopic of Neil Armstrong and the legendary space mission that made him the first man on the Moon.

 

(10) BAD WEEK FOR SPACE TELESCOPES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] ABC News reveals: “Another NASA space telescope shuts down in orbit”. Damn, it must be catching… first the Hubble loses a gyro, now what Chandra?

Another NASA space telescope has shut down and halted science observations.

Less than a week after the Hubble Space Telescope went offline, the Chandra X-ray Observatory did the same thing. NASA said Friday that Chandra’s automatically went into so-called safe mode Wednesday, possibly because of a gyroscope problem.

Hubble went into hibernation last Friday due to a gyroscope failure.

Both orbiting observatories are old and in well-extended missions: Hubble is 28, while Chandra is 19. Flight controllers are working to resume operations with both.
NASA said it’s coincidental both went “asleep” within a week of one another. An astronomer who works on Chandra, Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted Friday that “Chandra decided that if Hubble could have a little vacation, it wanted one, too.”

Launched by space shuttles in the 1990s, Hubble and Chandra are part of NASA’s Great Observatories series. The others are the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, which was also launched in the 1990s but eventually failed and was destroyed, and the Spitzer Space Telescope, launched in 2003 and still working. Each was intended to observe the cosmos in different wavelengths.

(11) ARK PARK. Jamie Lee Curtis Taete’s byline by itself is more interesting than this religious theme park in Kentucky: “This $100 Million Noah’s Ark Theme Park Is a Boring, Homophobic Mess” at Vice.

[Owner Ken] Ham has previously blamed multiple factors for the underwhelming performance of the attraction. From local business owners to atheists. But is there a simpler explanation? Is it possible that people don’t want to visit the Ark because it sucks?

Then it’s on to the living quarters—a series of rooms showing how Noah and his family might have lived. There’s a sign as you enter explaining that they’ve had to take artistic license while designing the area, because the Bible doesn’t give much info on this topic.

They could’ve used that artistic license to make something cool, like Biblical Wakanda. But instead, they made up a name for Noah’s wife (Emzara) and created an exhibit on looms, the single least entertaining object on earth.

IS IT FUN ENOUGH TO CONVERT YOU TO A CREATIONIST BELIEF SYSTEM? No. You can see fake bedrooms and living rooms in an IKEA for free. And you don’t have to read a single word about looms while doing it.

(12) ANTI-DRONE WEAPON. BBC profiles a security technology —“Sky battles: Fighting back against rogue drones”.

Rogue drones have nearly caused air accidents, have been used as offensive weapons, to deliver drugs to prisoners, and to spy on people. So how can we fight back?

…Drones are also being used by so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq as offensive weapons. On one occasion, a small number of drones carrying hand grenades were able to take out an entire Russian weapons depot….

So what can be done to prevent drones from flying places they shouldn’t?

Several companies, including Droptec, OpenWorks Engineering, and DroneDefence have developed hand-held or shoulder-mounted “guns” that fire a net to trap a suspect drone.

They’ve already been used to protect heads of state on foreign visits and other dignitaries at international meetings.

(13) UK COMICS LAUREATE. She’s the third person to hold the title: “Hannah Berry: New UK comics laureate to harness ‘untapped’ potential”.

New comics laureate Hannah Berry has said she wants to use the position to remove some of the “stigma” that still surrounds graphic novels and comics, and harness their “untapped” potential.

Berry is the award-winning creator of graphic novels Adamtine and Livestock.

“There are still a lot of people who think comics are just superheroes throwing stuff at each other.

“With the enormous, diverse, wealth of subjects out there, there’s a graphic novel for everybody,” she said.

“There’s nothing wrong with superhero comics, but I think if people were aware, maybe the stigma could be removed.”

(14) LEAPS AND BOUNDS IN SCIENCE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Phys.org’s article “Numerous boulders, many rocks, no dust: MASCOT’s zigzag course across the asteroid Ryugu” discusses findings from the German “hopping” lander on Asteroid Ryugu (deployed from Japan’s Hayabusa2).

Six minutes of free fall, a gentle impact on the asteroid and then 11 minutes of rebounding until coming to rest. That is how, in the early hours of 3 October 2018, the journey of the MASCOT asteroid lander began on Asteroid Ryugu – a land full of wonder, mystery and challenges. Some 17 hours of scientific exploration followed this first ‘stroll’ on the almost 900-metre diameter asteroid. The lander was commanded and controlled from the MASCOT Control Centre at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) site in Cologne in the presence of scientific teams from Germany, France and Japan. MASCOT surpassed all expectations and performed its four experiments at several locations on the asteroid. Never before in the history of spaceflight has a Solar System body been explored in this way. It has now been possible to precisely trace MASCOT’s path on Ryugu’s surface on the basis of image data from the Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe and the lander’s images and data….

“We were expecting less than 16 hours of battery life because of the cold night, says MASCOT project manager Tra-Mi Ho from the DLR Institute of Space Systems. “After all, we were able to operate MASCOT for more than one extra hour, even until the radio shadow began, which was a great success.”

…Having reconstructed the events that took place on asteroid Ryugu, the scientists are now busy analysing the first results from the acquired data and images. “What we saw from a distance already gave us an idea of what it might look like on the surface,” reports Ralf Jaumann from the DLR Institute of Planetary Research and scientific director of the MASCOT mission. “In fact, it is even crazier on the surface than expected. Everything is covered in rough blocks and strewn with boulders. How compact these blocks are and what they are composed of, we still do not know. But what was most surprising was that large accumulations of fine material are nowhere to be found – and we did not expect that. We have to investigate this in the next few weeks, because the cosmic weathering would actually have had to produce fine material,” continues Jaumann. [Emphasis added.]

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, IanP, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 10/12/18 Good Pixels Make Good Scrolls

(1) MARVEL FIRES CHUCK WENDIG FROM STAR WARS PROJECTS. Chuck Wendig is off the Shadow of Vader comic books team announced just a week ago at New York Comic Con, and off an as-yet-unannounced Star Wars book. This is the reason he was given —

Today I got the call. I’m fired. Because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring. Seriously, that’s what Mark, the editor said. It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.

The thread starts here.

The text of his Twitter thread also appears in a post on his blog, “In Which I Am Fired From Marvel”.

I know it hands Comicsgate a big win. It will embolden them. But they won — I’m out of Marvel and, I guess for now, at least, out of any kind of Star Wars. Do your victory lap, I guess. (Just please leave me out of it.) (All that being said, a lot of wonderful people still work inside those institutions and storyworlds, and I hope you’ll continue to support them and the stories they’re telling.) To conclude: this is really quite chilling. And it breaks my heart. I am very sad, and worried for the country I live in, and the world, and for creative people all around. Courage to you all. I have a dire fear this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

P.S. Vote in November like your life depends on it. Because it just might.

A site that publicizes Vox Day and Jon Del Arroz projects, Bounding Into Comics, cited a half-dozen recent examples from Wendig’s social media they thought supported Wendig’s firing and concluded —

…Wendig can claim that he’s a victim all he wants. It’s simply not true.

One thing appears to be clear. Disney might ignore the behavior of a number of Marvel Comics professionals, but Star Wars is a whole other beast. It appears Disney doesn’t want their multi-billion dollar investment to be harmed by a novelist and comic book writer.

There also appears to be a line that Disney will draw when it comes to who they employ. We’ve recently seen them fire James Gunn for his Tweets about pedophiles and child rape, and now Chuck Wendig has been fired after calling for calling Disney consumers white supremacists, racists, and rapists. Not to mention he called for violence against Trump supporters…

At the other end of the response spectrum is Kate Gardner’s post for The Mary Sue:

…It does hand Comicsgate a big win. It hands people who want to see their media homogenized and reduced down to the same white cishet male stories a massive win. Worse, it sends a message that if you want to work for a big title, keep your mouth shut and don’t talk about politics, even though at this point in the game silence is nearly complicity.

All art is political, and apparently people being angry that politics in certain works are progressive matters more than artists actually standing up for what’s right.

This is frightening. I won’t call it censorship, but it’s pretty close. It’s a big message saying keep your mouth shut and take the abuse, because apparently defending yourself (and others around you) is as bad as being a troll. It’s “vulgar.” It’s not “civil.” Marvel has known about Wendig’s politics since 2015 at the very earliest, but suddenly there’s a problem with him being his usual self and using his platform for good?

(2) ON BROADWAY. Peter Marks in the Washington Post has a profile (“A Perfect Pitch To Land Gig For Beetlejuice”) of Australian composer Eddie Perfect (his real name!) who wrote the score for the musical adaptation of Beetlejuice opening in Washington next month and who also wrote the songs for the forthcoming Broadway version of King Kong.

Perfect has been a popular recording artist and comic songwriter in Australia. He ventured into musical comedy a decade ago with his satirical bio-musical “Shane Warne: The Musical,” based on a onetime Australian star cricketer. Though he has been eager to break into theater here, a musical about a former captain of the Australian national team playing something called “limited overs cricket” was never a safe bet to get him noticed. When he learned that “Beetlejuice” was on a wide search for a composer, he saw his opening.

(3) THE RIGHT NUMBER. Bill contributed this magic square:

203, 184, 178, 205
172, 211, 197, 190
207, 180, 182, 201
188, 195, 213, 174

Each column and row adds to 770. Each diagonal. The center 4 squares. Each corner of 4 squares. The blocks of 4 squares on the center of the top and bottom, and on the center of left and right sides. There are 52 ways to get to the magic sum.

(4) STAFFORD OBIT. Greg Stafford of Runequest and Call of Cthulhu fame died October 11 reports Michael O’Brien on the Chaosium Inc. blog. (For more detail about Stafford’s career, see his Wikipedia entry.)

The shock and grief the Chaosium family felt at the news of the passing of our beloved and revered company founder, Greg Stafford, cannot be measured. Greg died yesterday in his sweat lodge at his home in Arcata, CA. Mercifully, his passing was painless and quick. He died as he lived, on a spiritual quest of enlightenment.

As one of the greatest game designers of all time; winner of too many awards to count; and a friend, mentor, guide, and inspiration to generations of gamers, “the Grand Shaman of Gaming” influenced the universe of tabletop gaming beyond measure.

Greg founded The Chaosium in 1975, and from the outset (to quote his own words) “was never content to imitate, but instead published games that were original in their style of play, content and design”. Under his leadership, the company quickly became renowned for its originality and creativity, and was responsible for introducing numerous things to the hobby that are standards today.

… For now, we leave you with the words of the Myth maker himself, speaking at the 2018 ENnies Awards ceremony, his last public engagement….

 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 12, 1875 — Aleister Crowley. Genre writer? You decide. But I’ve no doubt that he had a great influence upon the genre as I’m betting many of you can note works in which  he figures. One of the earliest such cases is Land of Mist, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1926.
  • Born October 12, 1916 – Lock Martin. He’s had three genre roles but only one’s a doozy — the seven-foot tall Gort in The Day in The Earth Stood Still. The others are in The Invaders from Mars (1953) and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) in which apparently he only appears in deleted scenes.
  • Born October 12, 1904 – Lester Dent. Pulp writer who is best known as the creator and main author of the Doc Savage series. The 159 novels written over 16 years were credited to the house name Kenneth Robeson used by Street & Smith as the author of this character and later The Avenger.
  • Born October 12 – Storm Constantine, 56. Writer with her longest running series being the Wraeththu Universe which has at least four separate series within all of which are known for their themes of alternative sexuality and gender. She has also written a number of non-fiction (I think) works such as Sekhem Heka: A Natural Healing and Self Development System and The Grimoire of Deharan Magick: Kaimana.
  • Born October 12 – Hugh Jackman, 50. Though much, much better known for his work in Wolverine in the X-Men film franchise, I’m more fond of him for his voice work as Bunny in the Rise of the Guardians film which is based on the William Joyce Guardians series. He’s also appeared in Van Helsing, The Prestige and Pan.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • You should mosey around John Atkinson’s “Writers’ Block” at Wrong Hands.
  • This celebrity couple in Off the Mark probably won’t make it to a second date.

(7) THE BAR’S MY DESTINATION. Elon Musk has confirmed “Teslaquilla” is a thing reports TechCrunch.

Elon Musk confirmed Friday in a tweet that the Tesla-branded tequila called “Teslaquilla”—the bottle of liquor that co-starred in his April Fool’s Day joke about the automaker filing for bankruptcy — is “coming soon.”

Musk’s tweet was a response to a CNBC article that reported Tesla had filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Teslaquila.”

(8) FIRST MAN. In The New Yorker, Richard Brody analyzes the culture wars influencing a film director’s choices: “‘First Man,’ Reviewed: Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong Bio-Pic Is an Accidental Right-Wing Fetish Object”.

The one scene that embodies the sixties onscreen is, to my mind, among the most contemptible scenes in recent movies. It takes place midway through the action, when Congress begins to question the value of the space program. Neil is dispatched to represent NASA in a meeting at the White House, where senators fret about “taxpayer dollars,” and while there he is summoned to the phone and informed of the deaths of three astronauts in an Apollo test. The point is clear: that the astronauts are risking their lives while Congress is counting beans and playing politics.

But Chazelle takes that notion even further a few minutes later in the film, when, racked with unspeakable grief over the deaths of his colleagues, Neil drives off to be alone. “Half the country” may oppose the moon mission, but here Chazelle offers a peculiar, tendentious, and self-revealing cinematic interpretation of that phrase in the form of a montage. It shows Kurt Vonnegut, appearing in a black-and-white television clip, saying that the government would do better to spend the money on such things as making New York City “habitable.” There’s an archival clip of chanting protesters, featuring, prominently, a sign saying “¡Ayuda al Pueblo!” and footage, staged for the movie, of Leon Bridges performing Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 song “Whitey on the Moon.”

With this sequence, Chazelle openly mocks people who thought that the moon money was spent foolishly—those pesky intellectuals, blacks, and Hispanics who go on TV or into the street demanding “gimme” while the likes of Neil and his exclusively white, male colleagues uncomplainingly put their lives on the line to accomplish historic things in the interest of “mankind.” In its explicit content, and by artful omission, “First Man” subscribes to the misbegotten political premise that America used to be greater—and that the liberating and equalizing activism of the sixties ignored, dismissed, and even undermined that greatness.

(9) DOWNHILL ALL THE WAY. It arrived on Earth without the assistance of astronauts — “For Sale! Certified Lunar Meteorite — Weight 12 Pounds — Mileage 250,000”.

A Boston-based online auction house began accepting bids Thursday on a rare lunar meteorite at $50,000. But the firm estimates it could go for $500,000 or more when bidding closes on Oct. 18, according to the item’s posting.

There are a few reasons why this meteorite might command such a large price.

First, at about 12 pounds, the lunar rock is very large….

BBC was first with the story here, but NPR notes how we know it’s a moon rock rather than a random meteorite:

Bidders should be aware the specimen is considered a lunar feldspathic breccia in geological terms and contains absolutely no cheese.

(10) RESCUE ROBOT. In a BBC video, “Humanoid ‘rescue robot’ learns parkour”. Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a note, “Video. obnoxious music, and bizarre comments at the end, but the first several seconds are stunning.” You’ve been warned.

Atlas, the robot developed by tech firm Boston Dynamics, has learned the art of parkour.

The humanoid has been taught several skills during its development, including how to run, jump over objects and perform backflips.

The latest development shows the robot leap up on to 40cm (15.7in) high blocks without slowing down.

The company has suggested Atlas may one day be used in search and rescue operations, although critics fear it will be used for other purposes by the military.

(11) WHO’S HUMAN? Admit it.  You lay awake at night wondering about the ending of The Thing.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Eric Franklin, Trey Palmer, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]

Pixel Scroll 10/11/18 My Pixels Touched Dog Pixels! Agh!

(1) F&SF. Gordon Van Gelder shared F&SF’s Nov/Dec 2018 issue cover:

(2) ISS CREW OKAY AFTER FAILED TAKEOFF. Astronauts bound for the ISS safely returned when their rocket failed soon after launch — “Space crew survives plunge to Earth after Russian rocket fails”.

A Russian cosmonaut and a U.S. astronaut were safe on Thursday after a Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff in Kazakhstan, leading to a dramatic emergency landing.

The two-man crew, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and American Nick Hague, landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe as rescue crews raced to reach them, according to the U.S. space agency NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.

The mishap occurred as the first and second stages of a Russian booster rocket separated shortly after the launch from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.

(3) WHALE OF A TALE. L.A. Smith has a fascinating writeup about this 8th century artifact — “The Franks Casket” – carved from whalebone.

…So, the pictures and inscriptions on the casket are a great source of scholarly discussion. To top it all off, there seems to also be some numerological significance to the number of runes on the casket. There are 72 runes on the front and left panels, and a total of 288 runes in total. The 72 could correspond to the 72 disciples mentioned in the Latin Vulgate Bible familiar to the Anglo-Saxons. The number 288 is a multiple of 24, which is the number of runes in an early continental Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet, which had magical significance for the Anglo-Saxons.

Phew! No wonder many scholars have devoted so much time and effort on trying to decipher the runes and pictures on this little box. The more you look at it, the more you discover.

This beautiful box has so much to tell us about this fascinating period in England’s history….

(4) ANIME TRIAGE. Petréa Mitchell reviews 15 anime series and approves many as the title of her Amazing Stories post hints — “Anime roundup 10/11/2018: Sturgeon Takes a Holiday”. For example —

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime premiere – Satoru Mikami is a single geek who suddenly gets stabbed to death on a Tokyo street, only to find himself in a fantasy world, granted fabulous powers, and hobnobbing with a mighty dragon. Typical light-novel power fantasy, right? Well, there are a couple of catches. One is that he’s been reborn as the weakest creature possible. The other concerns the visual presentation of the show itself.

When adapting a popular property, a show is expected to make a predictable amount of money off selling Blu-Rays and merchandise to hardcore fans. Since those fans will buy it no matter what, most shows like this have a look about them that the only minimum necessary effort was made. In this case, a similar calculation seems to have been made, only the conclusion was that those fans will still mindlessly purchase it if it turns into an art film.

This premiere is one visual treat after another, from the careful attention to detail in the movement and posture of people in modern Tokyo, to the trippy mixed-media imagery as Satoru falls into another reality, to the wild expressiveness wrung from a ball of goo. This still has some of the usual problems of light-novel adaptations— the protagonist is already ridiculously overpowered, too much game terminology, and a lot of time spent sitting around and talking— but between the unique twist and the look of this episode, it’s actually enjoyable.

(5) FIRST MAN REVIEW. NPR’s Linda Holmes reports that “‘First Man’ Considers Glory, Grief And A Famous Walk On The Moon”:

…We encounter Armstrong at three points: 1961, leading up to the start of his training as an astronaut; 1965, just before his first space flight; and 1968, as he prepares to be the first person to walk on the moon. His family life progresses alongside his much more famous professional one: the loss of his two-year-old daughter from brain cancer, the grief that nearly consumes him after, the sacrifices that his service demands from his wife, Janet (Claire Foy), and his relationship with his two boys, to whom he hesitates to explain the dangers of space travel….

(6) WHAT WE LEARNED FROM WAR GAMES. The answer is: absolutely nothing. BBC reports “US weapons systems can be ‘easily hacked'”.

…The committee’s members expressed concerns about how protected weapon systems were against cyber-attacks.

The report’s main findings were:

  • the Pentagon did not change the default passwords on multiple weapons systems – and one changed password was guessed in nine seconds…

So, does the United States use its birthday as a password? – July41776….

(7) RIVERDALE RECAP. A public service message from Martin Morse Wooster:

For people who are wondering how much Riverdale is like Archie Comics, I offer the folllowing recap of last night’s show.

Archie Andrews was found guilty of murder, but he was framed by Veronica’s father.  The underground offers to sneak him into Quebec but he decides to stay in Riverdale and take his punishment.

Veronica finds out where the jury in Archie’s trial is sequestered and sneaks into the hotel in a maid’s outfit but is thrown out before she can engage in jury tampering.

Betty is an Adderall addict and is stopped before she can fill a forged prescription.

But the gang still relaxes at Pop’s Malt Shop!

Also, I learned that fans who want Betty and Jughead to have a relationship are known as “Bugheads.”

(8) GLASS. M. Night Shyamalan’s next picture, about tortured people with superpowers, will be released in the U.S. on January 18, 2019.

M. Night Shyamalan brings together the narratives of two of his standout originals—2000’s Unbreakable, from Touchstone, and 2016’s Split, from Universal—in one explosive, all-new comic-book thriller: Glass. From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 11, 1922 – G.C. Edmondson (José Mario Garry Ordoñez Edmondson y Cotton), Author from Mexico who mostly wrote Westerns under several pen names – and, being fluent in six languages, he also did translations – but produced a number of science fiction works, many involving time travel and Latin America, including the Nebula Award-nominated The Ship That Sailed the Time Stream and its sequel, the trilogy The Cunningham Equations (co-written with C. M. Kotlan), and numerous short works in his Mad Friend universe.
  • Born October 11, 1928 – Doris Piserchia, 90, Author of more than a dozen of what multiple sources call “darkly comic novels”, including her penultimate novel, I, Zombie which she published under the pseudonym Curt Selby, and a somewhat larger number of short fiction works. Because she had a story in The Last Dangerous Visions, she has been labelled New Wave by some who didn’t do their research properly. Like most genre writers of the 70s and 80s, she has greatly benefited from digital publishing, with all of her backlist now republished in that format.
  • Born October 11, 1944 – Patrick Parrinder, 74, Writer and Critic from England who is one of the foremost experts on H. G. Wells, having written works specializing on that author subtitled Shadows of the Future, Science Fiction and Prophecy, and The Critical Heritage. Not to be mistaken as a one-trick pony, he’s also penned Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching and Utopian Literature and Science.
  • Born October 11, 1944 – Julek Heller, 74, Artist and Illustrator from Jerusalem who emigrated to England, who did cover art for around 80 novels and more than 50 works of interior art, mostly in the 80s and 90s, including covers for works by Norton, Moorcock, Silverberg’s Majipoor series, and several Mammoth Books. He also provided artwork for the 1978 TV series Pinocchio.
  • Born October 11, 1945 – Gay Haldeman, 73, Writer, Translator, and Member of First Fandom who has Masters degrees in Linguistics and Spanish. A fan and con-goer since 1963, she has contributed many letters, essays, and convention reports to genre and fannish publications, a fair number of them written in Spanish. She and her author husband Joe have been Guests of Honor at numerous conventions – including a relaxacon in Sydney, Australia named Haldecon – and she has been much in demand as a con Toastmaster. She and Joe were given the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award (NESFA’s Skylark Award) in 1996.
  • Born October 11, 1950 – William R. Forstchen, 68, Writer and Historian, whose early novel series included Ice Prophet, Wars of Heaven, Gamestar Wars, and The Lost Regiment, and more recently the One Second After post-apocalyptic novels. Has also contributed novels to the Star Trek, Riftwar, and Wing Commander universes. He was Guest of Honor at InConJunction XIX.
  • Born October 11, 1953 – David Morse, 65, Actor, Writer, Singer, and Director, who has had main roles in the Hugo-nominated Twelve Monkeys, The Green Mile, The Boy, Double Vision, the Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge-inspired Passengers, and the Hugo-winning film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Locus-winning Contact, as well as parts in World War Z, Joe Hill’s Horns, TV series Friday the 13th: The Series, Tales from the Crypt, SeaQuest DSV, Medium, and Blindspot, and the Stephen King miniseries The Langoliers.
  • Born October 11, 1962 – Joan Cusack, 56, Actor and Writer especially known for comedic roles, who had main parts in the Hugo-nominated Addams Family Values (for which she received a Saturn nomination), the film adaptation of David Gerrold’s Hugo- and Nebula-winning The Martian Child, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and a plethora of voice roles in animated features including the Hugo-nominated Toy Story movies and TV specials, Chicken Little, and Mars Needs Moms.
  • Born October 11, 1965 – Lennie James, 53, Actor, Screenwriter, and Playwright from England who has had main roles in the genre TV series The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Jericho, and movie roles in Blade Runner 2049, Sahara, Lockout, and the (in JJ’s opinion) vastly-underrated Lost in Space.
  • Born October 11, 1965 – Sean Patrick Flanery, 53, Actor who starred in the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and also had lead roles in the genre films Powder, Demon Hunter, The Insatiable, Veritas, Prince of Truth, InSight, The Devil’s Carnival, and The Evil Within, and guest roles on Stargate: SG-1, The Twilight Zone, The Dead Zone, The Outer Limits, Charmed, and Touched by an Angel.
  • Born October 11, 1972 – Claudia Black, 46, Actor from Australia best known for her roles as Aeryn Sun on Farscape (for which she won a Saturn Award) and Vala Mal Doran on Stargate SG-1 (for which she won a Constellation Award, Canada’s counterpart to the Saturn Award), who also appeared in the films Pitch Black and Queen of the Damned. Her first genre role was as Cassandra on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, followed by episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Beastmaster, The Dresden Files and Haven, a recurring role on The Originals, and a main role on Containment. She has also provided character voices to animated films and TV series, and a very large number of videogames, including Uncharted, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Final Fantasy.
  • Born October 11, 1972 – Nir Yaniv, 46, Writer, Editor, Musician, and Fan from Israel who in 2000 founded the webzine of the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy and was its chief editor for seven years. He later edited several issues of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professional printed science fiction and fantasy magazine. He co-authored with Lavie Tidhar the short novel The Tel Aviv Dossier, and has published a collection of his short fiction, The Love Machine and Other Contraptions; several of his stories have been translated into English by Tidhar. As a musician, he created the first Hebrew-language SF music-themed album, The Universe in a Pita, and more recently has begun writing and directing short films of strong genre interest.
  • Born October 11, 1974 – Ian Mond, 44, Writer, Critic, and Podcaster from Australia who has published a dozen of his own stories, plus a few Doctor Who stories. He was Tuckerized by fellow Australian and Doctor Who writer Kate Orman in the tie-in novel Blue Box. For eight years, he co-hosted with Kirstyn McDermott the Hugo-nominated and Ditmar-winning book podcast, The Writer and the Critic, and his reviews of genre fiction have garnered him two Atheling nominations. He started reviewing for Locus Online in June this year.
  • Born October 11, 1978 – Wes Chatham, 40, Actor best known for a main role in the Hugo-winning TV series The Expanse, as well as a role in the two-movie Hunger Games installment Mockinjay.
  • Born October 11, 1974 – Doona Bae, 34, Actor from South Korea whose most notable genre role has been as a lead in the TV series Sense8 but has also had roles in Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, as well as several South Korean science fiction and horror films including The Ring Virus and The Host and the manga adaptation Air Doll.
  • Born October 11, 1985 – Michelle Trachtenberg, 33, Actor and Producer who started early in genre roles with a guest role on Space Cases at the age of 11 and a main role on Meego at the age of 12. At 14, she took on a main role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for which she received 3 Saturn nominations. Her other appearances include the films Inspector Gadget, Can’t Be Heaven, Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish, Black Christmas, 17 Again, and The Scribbler, and guest spots on the live-action and animated TV series Sleepy Hollow, Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Robot Chicken, The Super Hero Squad Show, SuperMansion, and Superman/Shazam. She currently has a starring voice role in the animated SF series Human Kind Of.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) FRANKENSTEIN. Sean O’Hara talks about how Mary Shelley’s preface to the book was an attempt to whitewash her life — “The History of Frankenstein Part I: Lies, Damned Lies, and Mary Shelley’s Preface to Frankenstein”

Most of us are familiar with the tale of how Mary Shelley came to write Frankenstein — how she and her husband Percy were on vacation in Switzerland and happened to be staying near Lord Byron, and on a dark and stormy night, after reading some German horror stories, they decided to have a contest to see who could write the scariest story. It all sounds so genteel. Something you’d see on Masterpiece Theater.

It’s also pure BS.

Mary and her step-sister Claire were the Kardashians of the early 19th Century. And I don’t mean they were wild by the standards of their day. They did things that would still make the front page of TMZ. If they were alive today, they’d be feuding with Beyonce and Taylor Swift, I guarantee it.

So where did the sanitized version of the story come from?

Why Mary Shelley herself….

— Then steps back to look at her mother, the feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft: “The History of Frankenstein Part II: That Time the World’s First Feminist Married the World’s First Libertarian”.

But their happiness was short lived. Wollstonecraft became pregnant at the end of 1796, and she and Godwin decided, despite their mutual misgivings about marriage, to wed so their child would be legitimate. But Wollstonecraft was by now thirty-eight, an age at which child birth became dangerous. Her daughter Mary was born safely, but Wollstonecraft contracted a postpartum infection and died a mere two weeks later, leaving her two daughters in the care of a forty year old man who had spent his entire life as a bachelor.

There are several more posts in this series at O’Hara’s blog, Yes, We Have No Culottes.

(12) KIRBY YOUR ENTHUSIASM. Scott Bradfield recommends “Reading irresponsibly with Jack Kirby” at the LA Times.

Probably what I miss most in our perilous, terrifying and end-of-times-like historical era is the ability to read irresponsibly. There’s just too much responsible reading around; it can drive you to drink. Everything we’re supposed to read keeps looming up out of the darkness, bristling with portents, economic data, apocalyptic planetary crises and an endless urgent blizzard of news bulletins about tweets, personal liberties, gun violence and conflagrations both natural and metaphorical — all of which require more sober attention than most of us can muster. Increasingly (and understandably), reading has become a duty to be performed by conscientious citizens and students. And I’m sorry, but jeez, that just isn’t right.

When I was young, reading irresponsibly was easy. I did it all the time. In fact, well into my late teens and early 20s I could easily lose myself in books and comics; it just came with the territory.

(13) WFA CONTENDER. Lela E. Buis sings the praises of a World Fantasy Award nominee: “Review of City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty”.

…So, counter to the depressive trend in the WFA finalists this year, this is a romance and an intrigue. All these people are lying to each other, and political groups are plotting right and left. Daevabad is exotic, the details of the city life, the temples and the palace very well assembled. I didn’t have any problems visualizing the people, the creatures or the scenery–the author has done a lot of research. The characters are slightly flat, but the story is more focused on the action and intrigue than on revealing their deepest inner thoughts. The reader is left to deduce a lot of what’s going on from their actions….

(14) MURDER MOST ‘BOT. And Buis gives five stars to the conclusion of the Murderbot series, but says it is not flawless – “Review of Exit Strategy by Martha Wells”.

On the not so great side, I’ve got some nits to pick with the whole story arc at this point. I suspect the series was written fairly quickly, as Wells has said it’s a short story that got out of control, and after the huge success of the first novella, she quickly got in gear to produce the rest. Tor was also in a hurry to follow up on the initial success, and went light on the editing. That means there are some inconsistencies in the content.

(15) CHIBNALL ON WHO. Showrunner Chris Chibnall discusses his new vision for Doctor Who.

(16) WHO PANEL AT NYCC. Here’s the full Doctor Who panel from New York Comic-Con 2018, with Jodie Whittaker, Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens.

(17) THE NOSE KNOWS. io9’s Germain Lussier is thrilled to hear that “The Most Disgusting Scenes in Star Wars Are Now Scented Candles”.

Scents like “Trash Compactor,” “Inside of a Tauntaun,” “Rancor,” and “Sarlacc Pit” are just some of the scents available in these new, officially licensed candles. There are some more pleasant sounding ones, too, like “Bantha Milk,” “X-Wing Cockpit” and “Yoda’s Cooking Pot”—as well as just plain weird ones like “Death Star Destroyed,” “Millennium Falcon,” “Han Solo Carbonite” and “Lightsaber Duel.”

(18) AND SMALLER FLEAS TO BITE ‘EM. Science Alert is sure “You’ll Never Guess What Scientists Want to Call The Moon of a Moon”.

Stars have planets, and planets have satellites we call moons; but can a moon have its own satellite? And if it did, what would we call it?

In a paper currently up on pre-print resource arXiv, astronomers Juna Kollmeier of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Sean Raymond of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux have called them submoons.

But other scientists are using the far more delightful term moonmoon, so that’s what we’re going to go for.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In La Futur Sera Chauve (The Bald Future) on Vimeo, Paul Cabon imagines how limited his life will be when he loses his hair.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 10/10/18 I Grow Old, I Grow Old, I Shall Wear The Bottoms Of My Pixels Scrolled

(1) SCA DEATH. A longtime member accidentally killed himself while riding at a Society for Creative Anachronism event in Kentucky. SFGate has the story —“Man is impaled, dies in ‘freak accident’ during medieval horseback stunt”.

It happened Saturday during the Society for Creative Anachronism event in Williamstown.

The president of the SCA, John Fulton, said Barclay was trying to spear a paper plate on the ground.

Barclay’s brother posted on Facebook that the metal tip of his brother’s lance hit the ground, flipped and then impaled him under his sternum.

“I’ve never had an injury on the field like this, ever, that led to something like this” said Fulton.

We’re told Barclay was flown to a hospital, but died en route.

The SCA said Barclay was a master within the organization and had practiced medieval sports for more than 30 years.

(2) POLCON GROWING PAINS. Marcin Klak analyzes “The issues of Polcon”, Poland’s national convention.

We can define a few issues with Polcon but the main one is that no one really wants to organize Polcons any more. Of course this is not 100% true but we can see an issue here. In the last few years, there was usually only one group willing to run Polcon. It happens that it was known before that Polcon won’t be good but there was only one group willing to do it so there was no choice (and no one really wanted to cancel Polcon). This year, all in all, we haven’t chosen the place for Polcon 2020 yet – we hope that in December we will know this as there is one group that thinks about applying to run it.

(3) BATTLING THE ODDS. Brianna Wu wrote up her congressional campaign for Marie Claire: “I Ran for Congress. I Lost. I’m Persisting. Quitting Is Not an Option In the Trump Era.”

Here in New England, I got to know almost 100 other women that had decided to run for office, many through the Emerge program for training Democratic women. We were running for mayor, running for state senate, running for Congress. Like me, most of my peers were first-time candidates. We were starting to figure out this alien life of being a political candidate.

And I would love to tell you that we all won. In the movies, the underdog always wins. The Death Star always explodes. Carrie always walks into the sunset with Mr. Big. But reality has somewhat different odds than Hollywood. In a congressional race, the person spending less money wins only 9 percent of the time. You have less than 15 percent chance of beating an incumbent—and those odds are way worse if you’re running for the first time.

…For a first-time candidate who raised under $200,000, I did a fantastic job. I got almost 25 percent of the electorate, with over 17,000 people voting for me. I sometimes try to imagine 1000 people telling me they believe in me enough to be their congresswoman, and it’s overwhelming. 17,000 people believing in you isn’t a loss, it’s an excellent start to a career. The guy I was running against has a 20-year head start…

(4) IMAGINE A WORLD IN WHICH… One way social change is contributing to the boom in sff sales — “How Feminist Dystopian Fiction Is Channeling Women’s Anger and Anxiety” in the New York Times.

On a desolate island, three sisters have been raised in isolation, sequestered from an outbreak that’s causing women to fall ill. To protect themselves from toxins, which men can transmit to women, the sisters undergo cleansing rituals that include simulating drowning, drinking salt water and exposing themselves to extreme heat and cold. Above all, they are taught to avoid contact with men.

That’s the chilling premise of Sophie Mackintosh’s unsettling debut novel “The Water Cure,” a story that feels both futuristic and like an eerily familiar fable. It grew out of a simple, sinister question: What if masculinity were literally toxic?

“The Water Cure,” which comes out in the United States in January and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, joins a growing wave of female-centered dystopian fiction, futuristic works that raise uncomfortable questions about pervasive gender inequality, misogyny and violence against women, the erosion of reproductive rights and the extreme consequences of institutionalized sexism.

…Most of these new dystopian stories take place in the future, but channel the anger and anxieties of the present, when women and men alike are grappling with shifting gender roles and the messy, continuing aftermath of the MeToo movement….

(5) FANSPLAINING, CONTINUED. David Gerrold has been there, too:

I always get a smile out of fans trying to school pros.

The latest is a self-appointed gatekeeper telling Neil Gaiman that he must be a relatively recent fan of Doctor Who.

Oh my.

My own recent experience happened a year or so ago, when one of the sad puppies tried to tell me that my argument was useless. He said, “It is too late for the pebbles to vote, the avalanche has already started.”

I don’t remember my exact words. Something to the effect that those words were spoken by Kosh in the Babylon 5 episode “Believers.” It would have been nice if he’d credited the source — and the author of the episode.

He dropped out of the thread immediately. I don’t remember his name or the thread. I just remember the moment of delicious amusement I experienced….

(6) NEW IN 1963. Natalie Devitt is still undecided whether she’ll keep letting Outer Limits control her set’s vertical and horizontal according to her review at Galactic Journey: “[October 10, 1963] The Outer Limits of television — a first look”.

The Outer Limits may have the power to control transmission, but can the show keep viewers tuning in week after week? The verdict is still out. The show seems to be much more rooted in science fiction than most other anthology shows in recent years, which is a distinguishing point, but the batting average will probably have to improve: this month only gave me one fantastic, one somewhat entertaining and two otherwise okay episodes.

(7) CLARKE CENTER. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination presents “Fred Adams: The Degree of Fine-Tuning in our Universe—and Possibly Others” on November 8 at UCSD.

Fred C. Adams, theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Michigan, joins us for an insightful talk about how life in this universe—and potentially others—is possible.

The fundamental constants of nature must fall within a range of values in order for the universe to develop structure and ultimately support life. This talk considers the current constraints on these quantities and assesses the degree of fine-tuning required for the universe to be viable. The first step is to determine what parameters are allowed to vary. In the realm of particle physics, we must specify the strengths of the fundamental forces and the particle masses. The relevant cosmological parameters include the density of the universe, the cosmological constant, the abundance of ordinary matter, the dark matter contribution, and the amplitude of primordial density fluctuations. These quantities are constrained by the requirements that the universe lives for a sufficiently long time, emerges from its early epochs with an acceptable chemical composition, and can successfully produce galaxies. On smaller scales, stars and planets must be able to form and function. The stars must have sufficiently long lifetimes and hot surface temperatures. The planets must be large enough to maintain atmospheres, small enough to remain non-degenerate, and contain enough particles to support a biosphere. We also consider specific fine-tuning issues in stars, including the triple alpha reaction that produces carbon, the case of unstable deuterium, and the possibility of stable diprotons. For all of these issues, the goal of this enterprise is to delineate the range of parameter space for which universes can remain habitable.

November 8, 6:00 p.m. Natural Sciences Building Auditorium, UC San Diego. Free and open to the public; please RSVP here

(8) AT C. James Davis Nicoll continues his new series for Tor.com, “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1980s, Part III”, with writers whose surnames begin with the letter “C”.

Mona A. Clee began publishing short SF works in the 1980s but I know her from her two novels: pessimistic ecological thriller Overshoot, and the somewhat more optimistic Branch Point, in which time travelers try desperately to prevent a 1963 Soviet-American nuclear exchange, only to discover they’ve replaced a horrific atomic war with even more horrific variations. “Oh, dear, we seem to have made a bad situation much worse,” may not sound like it could be more upbeat than any other book, but A) there is a solution, and B: Overshoot is pretty glum.

(9) YARNALL OBIT. Celeste Yarnall, who appeared in a Star Trek episode and in Elvis Presley’s Live a Little, Love a Little, has died at the age of 74 reports Deadline.

In the Star Trek episode titled “The Apple” that aired on October 13, 1967, Yarnall’s red-uniformed Yeoman Landon has a romantic encounter with Walter Koenig’s Chekov. It didn’t last.

Other credits include appearances on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Bonanza, Hogan’s Heroes, It Takes a Thief, Captain Nice, Mannix, Bewitched, Land of the Giants and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and in the films The Nutty Professor, Under the Yum Yum Tree, Eve, The Velvet Vampire, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Scorpio, among others.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 10, 1863 – Vladimir A. Obruchev, Geologist, Writer, and member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR who was one of Russia’s first science fiction authors. In his native country he is best known for two perennially popular science fiction novels, Plutonia and Sannikov Land. Both of these stories are similar to Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, but depict with rigorous scientific accuracy the discovery of an isolated world of prehistoric animals in hitherto unexplored large islands north of Alaska or Siberia.
  • Born October 10, 1924 – Ed Wood, Jr., Actor, Writer and Director who created numerous low-budget science fiction, comedy, and horror films and wrote more than 80 pulp novels. He is most famous for the notoriously-bad cult SF film Plan 9 from Outer Space. In 1994 Tim Burton directed and produced an eponymous biographical drama of his life starring Johnny Depp, which won two Oscars.
  • Born October 10, 1947 – Laura Brodian Freas, 71, Classic Music Radio Host, Voiceover Performer, Illustrator and Historical Customer. While married to the artist she published a collection Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It containing art and essays by the two of them. She has also provided a few genre covers, including the cover for the anthology New Eves: Science Fiction About the Extraordinary Women of Today and Tomorrow, and numerous pieces of interior art for Weird Tales, Analog, and several Easton Press Signed First Editions. One of her collaborative works with Frank won a Chesley Award; another collaborative work and one of her solo works also received Chesley nominations.
  • Born October 10, 1950 – Nora Roberts, 68, Writer probably best known, and a favorite of Cora Buhlert, for her near-future science fiction In Death (Eve Dallas) series written under the pen name J.D. Robb, which is approaching 50 novels now and features robots, cloning, flying cars, and space habitats; as well as many other fantasy series including the Key Trilogy, the Sign of Seven Trilogy, and the Three Sisters Island Trilogy.
  • Born October 10, 1959 – Kerrie Hughes, 59, Writer and Editor. A prolific anthologist, some of which impressively have had several printings, many co-edited with Martin H. Greenberg, and four of the Fiction River series. Favorite titles for me include Chicks Kick Butt (co-edited with Rachael Caine), Zombie Raccoons & Killer Bunnies (with Martin H. Greenberg) and Shadowed Souls (with Jim Butcher). She’s published more than a dozen short fiction works of her own and essays including “A Travelers’ Guide to Valdemar and the Surrounding Kingdoms” in The Valdemar Companion.
  • Born October 10, 1959 – Bradley Whitford, 59, Actor, Writer, and Producer whose most recent genre role was as the sinister patriarch in the Hugo finalist Get Out; other movie appearances include Bicentennial Man, Kate & Leopold, RoboCop 3, The Cabin in the Woods, The Darkest Minds, The Muse, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters and guest roles in TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, The X-Files, Touched by an Angel, and Cloned.
  • Born October 10, 1967 – Michael Giacchino, 51, Oscar- and Grammy-winning Composer and Musician, who has created the soundtracks for many genre films such as the Hugo-nominated Rogue One and Star Trek 2009 reboot and its sequels, Jupiter Ascending, Tomorrowland, John Carter, Mission: Impossible III and Ghost Protocol, Jurassic World and Fallen Kingdom, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Cloverfield, and the Planet of the Apes reboot movies. His animation soundtrack credits include the Hugo finalists Up and The Incredibles, Incredibles 2, Ratatouille, Cars 2, Inside Out, Zootopia, and Coco. He has also composed music for many TV series such as Lost (for which he received an Emmy), Alias, and Fringe, and video game series including Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. He is also responsible for the soundtrack in the Space Mountain attraction at Disneyland and Disney World.
  • Born October 10, 1968 – Bai Ling, 50, Actor, Writer, and Producer originally from China who has had genre roles in the films League of Superheroes, Andover, Blood Shed, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Gene Generation, Code Hunter, and The Crow, guest roles in episodes of Lost and Jake 2.0, and a main role in the TV miniseries The Monkey King.
  • Born October 10, 1968 – Mark Bould, 50, Writer, Editor, and Critic from England who emigrated to Scotland, who has co-authored several nonfiction works on SF including The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction and The Routledge Concise History of Science Fiction, as well as Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction (with China Miéville). He guest-edited two issues of Science Fiction Studies, one on the British SF Boom and one on Afrofuturism (with Rone Shavers), and an issue of Paradoxa on Africa SF, and contributed numerous essays to other scholarly works on SF. He will be Scholar Guest of Honor at next year’s International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA).

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GET NANOWRIMO SUPPORT. K. Tempest Bradford will host a course in “Daily Writing Exercises – NaNoWriMo Edition” during the November novel-writing marathon, joined at times by four other well-known sff authors.

Practice and warm-ups are fundamental to every artistic discipline, from the musician who practices scales for hours on end to visual artists who cover reams of paper with sketches to dancers and actors who rehearse for months. Practicing craft is important for writers, too. Especially when you’re about to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Doing one 10 – 20 minute writing exercise every day before diving into your novel can help kick your brain into creative gear without pressure and give you the chance to try out new craft skills.

That’s what this course is all about. Starting November 1, you’ll get a writing exercise via email every day for a month. Each one is designed to get you warmed up and also to help you get to know your characters better, dig into details of your setting, and play around with voice, point of view, and other aspects of craft.

…In addition to the emailed exercises, all writers taking the course can attend live online write-ins four times a week with me + special guests. Each write-in will start with that day’s exercise then move into 45 minutes of writing together via Zoom video conferencing software. These write-ins are optional and times/days will vary to accommodate writers across different time zones.

Four times during the month we’ll be joined by guest writers who will offer a short pep talk and a writing exercise of their own: Tananarive Due, Stina Leicht, Stant Litore, and Monica Valentinelli.

(13) WALLY WORLD WATCHES. Who knew that Big Brother would manifest as Wally World? Apparently Motherboard (part of Vice) is on the job and knew. Um, knows. Um, at least suspects. (“Walmart Patented a Cart That Reads Your Pulse and Temperature”).

You’re moving through Walmart at a quick clip, bookin’ it through the clearance bread aisle. Sweat beads on your forehead, and your hands grip the cart handle. It’s a race against time before you run into an elementary school classmate’s mom or run into that guy you made out with in high school and his three kids. God, get me out of h—

I saw you might need assistance! An employee appears from behind the off-brand tampons and accosts you. He knows this because he’s been monitoring your biometric data and location from a room in the back, from the sensors in your cart handle. The sensors told him you’re clammy and stressed.

Walmart recently applied to patent biometric shopping handles that would track a shopper’s heart rate, palm temperature, grip force, and walking speed. The patent, titled “System And Method For A Biometric Feedback Cart Handle” and published August 23, outlines a system where sensors in the cart send data to a server. That server then notifies a store employee to check on individual customers.

(14) CAREER REVIVED? The director canned by Marvel could be back in the business already: “James Gunn in Talks to Write, Possibly Direct SUICIDE SQUAD 2”ComicsBeat has the story.

James Gunn, the director fired earlier this year from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, is now in talks to write DC’s Suicide Squad 2 with an eye to also direct, according to a report today from The Wrap.

This could be somewhat of a coup for Warner Bros., the studio behind Suicide Squad and other films based on DC superheroes. With Gunn writing and directing, Guardians of the Galaxy grew from a relatively obscure comic book property into a veritable household name after just two high-earning and critically-acclaimed movies.

Gunn was dismissed from writing/directing Guardians of the Galaxy 3 earlier this year after a concentrated online campaigned publicized a series of tasteless jokes he made years ago about rape and pedophilia on Twitter. Gunn had long since apologized for the jokes, and, as such, his firing set off widespread debate over whether it was merited, with members of Guardians’ cast going to bat for him (especially Dave Bautista).

(15) BATWOMAN. I didn’t think it was a compelling news item, but four people have now sent me links to it, so I’m obviously wrong: “Ruby Rose Rises in First Official Look at the CW’s Batwoman”, image online at ComicsBeat and elsewhere.

(16) GOLDEN AND LESS SHINY AGES. Rob Latham reviews Alec Nevala-Lee’s Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction for Nature — “Beyond pulp: trailblazers of science fiction’s golden age”.

…Hubbard’s gift for the hard sell was pivotal, and Nevala-Lee’s portrait of him as a paranoid narcissist and skilled manipulator is scathing. However, Campbell is also sharply scrutinized for his role in midwifing and unleashing Dianetics. Heinlein and Asimov were repelled by what they saw as an uncritical embrace of quackery, and took refuge in newer, often more lucrative markets. The book’s final chapters detail the steady decline of the magazine into a second-rank publication, and Campbell (who died in 1971) into a reactionary crackpot with racist views.

Although much of the story outlined in Astounding has been told before, in genre histories and biographies of and memoirs by the principals, Nevala-Lee does an excellent job of drawing the strands together, and braiding them with extensive archival research, such as the correspondence of Campbell and Heinlein. The result is multifaceted and superbly detailed. The author can be derailed by trivia — witness a grisly account of Heinlein’s haemorrhoids — and by his fascination for clandestine love affairs and fractured marriages. He also gives rather short shrift to van Vogt, one of Campbell’s most prominent discoveries and a fan favourite during Astounding’s acme, whose work has never since received the attention it deserves….

(17) INFINITY’S END. At Nerds of a Feather, Joe Sherry weighs in on the closing volume of an anthology series — “Microreview [book]: Infinity’s End, by Jonathan Strahan (editor)”.

I’m sad that Infinity’s End is the purported final volume in Jonathan Strahan’s Infinity Project of anthologies. The theme has always been loose, no matter what Strahan has stated in the introduction (and I’m not sure he’d truly disagree with me here). He’s just looking for science fiction which stretches the bounds of humanity living in the wider universe. The success is that Strahan has a great idea for good stories and each of the Infinity Project anthologies hits the mark for top notch stories. While I hope that Strahan will revisit the Infinity brand again several years from now (and if so, the anthology should maybe be titled Infinity’s Rebirth), Infinity’s End is a fitting and excellent way to close the book on a solid anthology series. Reading each volume and reading Infinity’s End has been a delight.

(18) GOOGLE’S CHINA AMBITIONS. BBC’s Dave Lee tells how “Leak chips away at Google’s secrecy on China”.

…Now, a freshly leaked transcript of Mr Gomes addressing employees suggests he perhaps wasn’t being entirely forthcoming in our interview. Published by The Intercept on Tuesday, his words suggest an enthusiasm and readiness that arguably goes well beyond “exploration”.

‘We are ready for it’

“Overall I just want to thank you guys for all the work you have put in,” reads the transcript, said to be taken from a meeting on 18 July at which Mr Gomes addressed those working on Dragonfly.

…”Of the people who are internet-enabled, a huge fraction of the ones we are missing out are in China […] It’s clearly the biggest opportunity to serve more people that we have. And if you take our mission seriously, that’s where our key focus should be.”

Standing in Google’s way is the uncomfortable reality that many people do not agree with that focus – including the vice-president of the United States, Mike Pence. He has said Google should “immediately end development” on Dragonfly.

Hiding from public scrutiny

I can’t fathom how Google thinks this will end. Recent history shows how executives at the company have chosen to hide from immediate public scrutiny, only to seriously regret it later.

With Dragonfly, the company simply refuses to share details – not even with US lawmakers. In September, Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai did not show up to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing….

(19) HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE. “Seafloor mapping XPRIZE final will be in the Mediterranean” – here’s what BBC says:

The final of the ocean XPRIZE, which will see fleets of robots compete to map the largest area of seafloor inside 24 hours, will take place in deep waters off the coast of Greece.

Teams will be invited in turn to showcase their technologies, starting in early November.

They will have to chart at least 250 sq km at depths down to 4,000m, and image 10 items of interest.

The group that comes out on top will win $4m. Second place earns $1m.

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE was launched in 2015 to find systems and approaches that could finally map the world’s ocean basins to an acceptable precision.

Currently, less than 15% of their bathymetry (depth) has been measured in a meaningfully accurate way. It is one of those truisms that the global surfaces of Mars and the Moon – because they have no water covering – are known in greater detail.

(20) TIME FREAK TRAILER. Coming to theaters November 9, Time Freak.

If you could turn back time…could you win back the love of your life? That’s the problem puzzling Stillman (Asa Butterfield, Ender’s Game), a physics genius recently dumped by his stunning girlfriend Debbie (Sophie Turner, “Game of Thrones”). So after creating a timeline of their romance and a machine to rewind the past, he grabs his wingman, Evan (Skyler Gisondo), and sets off to right every wrong he made with Debbie. But as this insane comedy proves, there are some mistakes too perfect for science to fix.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Karl-Johan Norén, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kaboobie.]

Pixel Scroll 10/9/18 PIXËL SCRØLL IK DEN HØLIË MÜRDËRBØT NØMINEE

(1) WHO IS NUMBER ONE. Patrick McGoohan had to keep asking but Star Trek answered the question right away: “‘Star Trek: Discovery’s Rebecca Romijn Releases First Look Photo Of Number One”.

Romijn will play Number One (a character featured in the original 1966 Star Trek pilot) who serves as Captain Christopher Pike’s second-in-command on the USS Enterprise. The original Number One was played by Star Trek creator Gene Roddeberry’s wife Majel Barrett-Roddeberry.

(2) THE TRAILER OF DOCTOR DEATH. Honest Trailers has answered the plea to do trailers for the Classic and Modern versions of Doctor Who.

You know his name, you know his faces, but maybe these faces not as much- it’s Honest Trailers for Doctor Who! (Classic Version)

 

From fancy PBS comes a show where anything can happen and none of the continuity matters- it’s Honest Trailers for Doctor Who! (Modern Version)

 

(3) SKILLFUL RESEARCH. Juliette Wade’s latest Dive into Worldbuilding features “Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff and The Antiquities Hunter”. This interview was really interesting for me — I’m always curious about the process of figuring out the right questions, so you can go get good answers. Read the summary, and/or watch the video —

I asked Maya about her research process. She said this book took a very long time to write. It started with the character of Gina. Gina’s mom, Nadya, was initially in psychology, but then later changed to folklore. Maya did research on Russian Orthodox magic with the book “The Bathhouse at Midnight: A Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia.” For the archaeological aspects, Maya drew on Archaeology Magazine, where she found a lot of information on National Park Service Agents. There was a story about a woman with a family who was in the field conducting sting operations on antiquities thieves and black market dealers. For the background of a character named Rose, Maya looked at black market antiquities that showed up at Sotheby’s and the English Museum, like the Elgin Marbles (a set of marble statues that once stood in the Parthenon). Maya also had questions like, “What is it like to go to a Police Academy?” and “How are police departments structured?” which she got answered by police officers she connected with in online chatrooms. She also explored questions of what happens when jurisdictions collide, how departments work together, etc.

…Maya suggests if you want to make stuff up well, you should study Science, History, and Psychology. That way when you make stuff up, you’ll be using solid pieces to do it.

 

(4) KGB READINGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Tim Pratt and Lawrence M. Schoen on Wednesday, October 17 the KGB Bar.

Tim Pratt

Tim Pratt has won a Hugo Award for short fiction, and was a finalist for Nebula, World Fantasy, and Philip K. Dick Awards, among others. He is the author of 25 novels and four story collections, and works as a senior editor at Locus magazine. His latest project is the Axiom space opera series, begun with The Wrong Stars in 2017 and continuing this year with The Dreaming Stars.

Lawrence M. Schoen

Lawrence M. Schoen has been a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award, the Hugo Award, and the Nebula Award. A variety of small presses have published a series of humorous short stories, novellas, and novels about his protagonist the Amazing Conroy, a stage hypnotist turned CEO who travels the galaxy with Reggie, his alien companion animal that eats anything and farts oxygen. On a somewhat higher level, Lawrence’s book Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard won the Cóyotl Award for Best Novel. Its sequel, The Moons of Barsk, was published by Tor Books this past August.

Starts 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New York, NY.

(5) FINDING THE BUCKS FOR WAUKEGAN’S BRADBURY MUSEUM. The Chicago Tribune paints a word picture of the proposed exhibits: “Fundraising for Ray Bradbury Experience Museum in Waukegan kicks off as designs take shape”. The organizers are looking for a million dollars to get the museum completely up and running, and are pursuing a mix of grants, large donors and smaller individual donations.

Themed around the Waukegan-born author’s “Martian Chronicles,” the room will allow visitors to explore the concepts of space, time travel and “the limits of human endeavor,” Petroshius said.

An adjustable periscope could use augmented reality to transform the view of Genesee Street beyond the front windows into Mars or another vista.

A sphere in the center of the room could show the surface of Mars, Earth or the planet of the aliens that appear in the story “The Fire Balloons” and glow with blue flames in crystal spheres. Also, using tablets, visitors can explore the stories of the “Martian Chronicles.”

Design work on a room dedicated to “Fahrenheit 451” just began this past week, Petroshius said. The room will examine freedom of expression, censorship and creativity, as well as Bradbury’s experiences being investigated by the FBI during the McCarthy era.

The goal is to appeal to grown-ups who are already fans of Bradbury as well as students who haven’t yet been exposed to his work, said Keith Michalek, a senior designer with Chicago Exhibit Productions Inc., the firm behind the renderings.

(6) WAR GAMES ANNIVERSARY. Slate tells “How Sci-Fi Like WarGames Led to Real Policy During the Reagan Administration”.

This year, John Badham’s WarGames—one of the movies most beloved by hackers, techies, and tech policy wonks (like me!)—celebrates its 35th anniversary. Though it may look a little kitschy now, it was notable for several firsts: It was the first popular film depiction of the now well-known hacker archetype. It raised the specter of an artificial intelligence starting World War III a year before James Cameron’s The Terminator did, and it introduced America to a young Matthew Broderick….

Larry Niven was interviewed for the article.

However, the biggest sci-fi influence on Reagan—arguably the biggest example of sci-fi influence on policy ever—came directly from a group of sci-fi writers and aerospace professionals. The Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy was primarily led by two sci-fi writers: Larry Niven, best known for the sci-fi classic Ringworld, hosted a council meeting of dozens of authors and experts at his home over a long weekend shortly after Reagan’s election. That meeting was organized and led by his friend and regular co-author Jerry Pournelle, who died in 2017. As Niven recently told me in a phone interview, the conservative cold warrior Pournelle was “the beginning, the middle, and the end” of the council and its proposals for the future of America’s presence in space. Several of Pournelle’s ideas were distinctly ahead of their time—ideas about mining asteroids for mineral resources, or developing reusable rockets that could take off and land vertically “just as God and [legendary sci-fi writer] Robert Heinlein intended,” as he once put it. (That’s a phrase Sigma Forum founder Arlan Andrews Sr. first used in 1993 in the sci-fi magazine Analog.)* That proposal ultimately led to Vice President Dan Quayle supporting the development of the DC-X test rocket that Elon Musk has credited as a key predecessor to the reusable rocket systems now deployed by SpaceX.

(7) THE LATEST FROM STAN LEE. Mark Ebner, in “Stan Lee Breaks His Silence:  Those I Trusted Betrayed Me” on The Daily Beast, has a lengthy interview with Lee, where he strikes back at some hangers-on he says betrayed him and says he is reconciled with his daughter J.C.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but there have been stories out, and at least one upcoming story with allegations of elder abuse on you by your daughter.

STAN: I wish that everyone would be as abusive to me as JC.

J.C. LEE: [Interjecting] He wishes everyone was so abusive.

STAN: She is a wonderful daughter. I like her. We have occasional spats. But I have occasional spats with everyone. I’ll probably have one with you, where I’ll be saying, “I didn’t say that!” But, that’s life.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 9, 1894 – Harlan Thompson, Screenwriter, Lyricist, Stage and Screen Director and Producer. After an early career co-writing scripts and lyrics for Broadway musicals, he turned his talents to Hollywood, creating films and musicals which starred names such as Cary Grant, Bob Hope, Mae West, and W.C. Fields. His genre connection is his credit for the official novelization in 1972 of the movie Silent Running. The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction notes that “The novel quietly patches some plot holes in the film’s script.”
  • Born October 9, 1900 – Harry Bates, Writer, Editor, and Member of First Fandom. Editor from 1930 to 1933 the new pulp magazines Astounding Stories of Super-Science (which later became Astounding Stories, then Analog) and Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror. His Retro Hugo finalist novelette “Farewell to the Master” was the source of the classic science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still. He wrote a number of other stories under his own name and under various pseudonyms. In 1976 he was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame.
  • Born October 9, 1936 – Brian Blessed, 82, Actor, Writer, and Comedian from England known to genre fans as Prince Vultan in the Hugo-nominated Flash Gordon and as Richard IV in Blackadder (I don’t care what you say, it’s alternate history, I’m calling it genre). He has also appeared in the films Dark Ascension, Shed of the Dead, MacGyver: Lost Treasure of Atlantis, and the Gerry Anderson space opera pilot The Day After Tomorrow, had guest roles on episodes of The Avengers, Space:1999, Doctor Who, and Blake’s 7 – and even contributed a character voice in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – as well providing that magnificent voice to characters in a long list of animated shows and videogames.
  • Born October 9, 1953 – Tony Shalhoub, 65, Actor of Screen and Stage, known for his role in the Hugo-winning Galaxy Quest and character roles in a number of Hugo-nominated movies including Gattaca, Men In Black, and Addams Family Values, as well as Thirteen Ghosts and the adaptations of Philip K. Dick’s Impostor and Stephen King’s 1408. He has provided voices to main characters in Pixar’s Cars films and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot movies.
  • Born October 9, 1954 – Scott Bakula, 64, Actor, Singer, and Director with lead roles on the TV series Star Trek: Enterprise (for which he received 3 Saturn nominations) and Quantum Leap (for which he won a Golden Globe), and the movie adaptations of Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions and Tom Clancy’s NetForce.
  • Born October 9, 1956 – Robert Reed, 62, Writer who has published at least 17 novels and more than 200 short fiction works, many of them in his superb Great Ship universe, his series about a Big Dumb Object and how it gets reused once it enter our galaxy. He was a finalist for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1987, and since then has racked up 7 Hugo nominations, in addition to winning Best Novella for A Billion Eves, and an impressive array of Nebula, Campbell, World Fantasy, Tiptree, Sturgeon, Sidewise, Imaginaire, Asimov’s, and Locus Award nominations.
  • Born October 9, 1960 – Dr. Cheryl Ann Brigham, 58, Astrophysicist who is married to Dr. David Brin and credited in many of his science fiction works for providing research and critical assistance.
  • Born October 9, 1961 – Matt Wagner, 57, Writer, Artist, and Illustrator whose greatest work is no doubt his Grendel series, of which I recommend Grendel: Behold the Devil, Grendel: War Child, and the first sequence of Batman/Grendel. He’s done quite a bit of work for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and other comic houses over the years. In 1991, he illustrated part of the “Season of Mists” story arc in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series, and his work on Sandman Mystery Theatre #1-60 was one of his longer runs. Mage #1-15 for Image Comics is exemplary work as well. He has been nominated for an Eisner Award nine times, winning three of those, and he received an Inkpot Award in 1988.
  • Born October 9, 1964 – Jacqueline Carey, 54, Writer of the long-running mildly erotic Kushiel’s Legacy universe which contains three trilogies, the first novel of which, Kushiel’s Dart, won a Locus Award for Best First Novel. Locus in their December 2002 issue did an interview with her about this series called “Jacqueline Carey: Existential BDSM”. Her most recent works are the standalone novels Miranda and Caliban, which is a re-telling of The Tempest, and the epic fantasy Starless.
  • Born October 9, 1964 – Guillermo del Toro, 54, Oscar-winning Writer, Director, and Producer originally from Mexico who has become especially known for his deeply fantastical Hugo-winning film Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hugo finalist The Shape of Water, as well as Pacific Rim, The Hobbit, Crimson Peak, Hellboy and Hellboy II, Blade II, and Mimic.
  • Born October 9, 1968 – Pete Docter, 50, Oscar-winning Screenwriter, Animator, Voice Actor, Director and Producer, of works Toy Story, Monsters, Inc, and Up which were all Hugo finalists, and WALL-E, which won a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. At the age of 21, he was one of the first people hired at Disney’s Pixar Studios in 1990, and he was named Chief Creative Officer at Pixar in June this year.
  • Born October 9, 1979 – Brandon Routh, 39, Actor known for the lead role in Superman Returns, as well as the science fiction film 400 Days, and the movie version of the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In 2014, he began a recurring role on Arrow, which spun off into a recurring role on The Flash, and a starring role on Legends of Tomorrow.
  • Born October 9, 1980 – Arnold Chon, 38, Actor, Producer, and Stunt Coordinator and Performer who began Tae Kwon Do lessons at the age of 4, earned a Black Belt at the age of 11 and became a NASKA World Karate champion. He has had guest roles and performed stunts in more than a hundred movies, including Ant-Man and the Wasp, Fear the Walking Dead , Doomsday Device, The Last Airbender, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Invasion, and the Hugo-nominated Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
  • Born October 9, 1985 – Amanda Richer, 33, Actor, Writer, and Producer from Canada. As an 18-year-old, she starred in Deafplanet, a Gemini-nominated Canadian children’s show which ran for 4 years, about a boy who accidentally launches himself into space on a museum rocket and becomes stranded, with his robot, on a planet where everyone is deaf and only communicates through sign language. She spent 4 months coaching Sally Hawkins in ASL for the Oscar-winning and Hugo finalist film, The Shape of Water.
  • Born October 9, 1994 – Jodelle Ferland, 24, Saturn-nominated Actor from Canada whose genre credits include roles in Twilight: Eclipse and Breaking Dawn and the SyFy series Dark Matter, as well as many other movies, mostly horror, including They, Tideland, Silent Hill, The Messengers, Seed, Bloodrayne II, Cabin in the Woods, and guest roles in many TV series including Stargate: Atlantis, Supernatural, and Smallville.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • In Brewster Rockit, Dr. Mel Practice has a suggestion on how to ensure funding for science (and it involves a certain credential).
  • A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away, and arriving a little late to do any good — Strange Brew.
  • And an embarrassing false alarm at Off the Mark.

(10) FANSPLAINING. Somebody on Twitter decided Paul Cornell didn’t know Who he was talking about. Somebody was wrong.

(11) MORE NYCC COSPLAY. Gothamist has an enormous gallery of cosplayers from New York Comic Con: “Photos: Huge Cosplaying Crowds Pack Javits Center For Comic Con 2018”

Comic Con has grown so huge that it takes over the entire convention hall—some 200,000 people were expected to attend over the four-day run—and on Saturday and Sunday it often felt like every square foot was packed with bizarre creatures, grim warriors, heroic men and women and aliens and animals looking to save or possibly destroy the world. There are no rules of cosplay, of course, except for maybe that no store-bought, factory-made outfits are allowed. Which is why many of the most jaw-dropping costumes took months to create.

(12) GOT WHISKEY? Vinepair reports “Winter Is Here: Johnnie Walker Debuts Nine Game Of Thrones-Themed Scotches”

The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection includes eight blends. Seven are paired with the Houses of Westeros, and one is dedicated to the Night’s Watch:

  • Game of Thrones House Tully – Singleton of Glendullan Select
  • Game of Thrones House Stark – Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost
  • Game of Thrones House Targaryen – Cardhu Gold Reserve
  • Game of Thrones House Lannister – Lagavulin 9 Year Old
  • Game of Thrones The Night’s Watch – Oban Bay Reserve
  • Game of Thrones House Greyjoy – Talisker Select Reserve
  • Game of Thrones House Baratheon – Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old
  • Game of Thrones House Tyrell – Clynelish Reserve

Also promised — “Johnnie Walker Teases Game of Thrones-Themed ‘White Walker’ Scotch”.

A Game of Thrones-themed Scotch is on its way from Johnnie Walker. Dubbed “White Walker,” the Scotch whisky is set to debut this fall. You know, that season that comes before winter. In other words, when winter is coming.

(13) BLUE SKY. Branson says: “Virgin Galactic to reach space in ‘weeks not months'”

Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has said that Virgin Galactic is “weeks” away from its first trip into space.

“We should be in space within weeks, not months. And then we will be in space with myself in months and not years,” the firm’s founder and chief executive told news website CNBC.

He said the firm would be taking people into space “not too long after” that.

(14) DISABILITY IN DOCTOR WHO. Tom Gerken tells BBC readers: “Doctor Who: How the dyspraxic assistant became my hero”.

In Doctor Who, Ryan becomes angry at his failures as he relentlessly falls off his bicycle. Later in the episode, he attempts to channel his frustration and learn again – yet he still fails.

It cannot be overstated how happy I was at this moment. I didn’t want Ryan to suddenly, magically succeed. I wanted him to keep failing.

Don’t call him inspirational

Dyspraxia doesn’t have an overnight fix. You can’t will yourself to not be disabled anymore. It’s always there, always present, always making things harder than they should be.

I don’t want to see people using the word “inspirational” to describe him. He’s not an inspiration. He’s a normal guy, who happens to have a disability.

(15) BEWARE THE POINTY BITS. The warning from the transformed David Bowman in 2010: Odyssey Two (“All these worlds are yours—except Europa. Attempt no landings there.”) may have taken on a new meaning. A new scientific paper (Nature Geoscience: “Formation of metre-scale bladed roughness on Europa’s surface by ablation of ice”) warns that sharp spikes of ice could form on Europa, potentially making it very difficult to land. The Nature Geoscience article is behind a paywall, but Popular Mechanics stepped up to make the key info accessible (“Menacing Ice Spikes on Europa Could Endanger Future Landers”).

All eyes are on Europa right now, with a dedicated NASA mission headed there in 2022, and the European Space Agency launching a more general Jupiter moon probe that will have a couple encounters with Europa that same year.

But if these orbiters are the first step toward more widespread exploration of the ocean moon, they may reveal a giant complication. Like 50 foot spikes of ice jutting out from the crust of the moon.

…[Dr. Daniel] Hobley [of Cardiff University] and his team looked toward another place with a deep ice shell and liquid water below: Antarctica. Specifically, they looked at the formation of penitentes. These structures begin their formation below, jutting out areas of higher altitude into the ice shell.

In turn, sublimation—the process of turning a solid directly into a gas—leaves behind some more compacted areas, that appear as spikes of ice, some of them taller than a human and sharp as a blade. Because the surface of Europa is ever-changing, geologically speaking, Hobley thinks there may be different kinds of spikes at different latitudes. Some of them could even reach as tall as 50 feet high.

(16) BRAAAAAAINS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SingularityHub brings the story of “How BrainNet Enabled 3 People to Directly Transmit Thoughts,” based on a preprint paper on arXiv.org (“BrainNet: A Multi-Person Brain-to-Brain Interface for Direct Collaboration Between Brains”). The usual grain of salt (or 10) should be applied since preprints are not yet peer reviewed.

For a remarkably social species, we’re not particularly effective communicators.

Finding the right words to clearly, efficient transmit our thoughts to another consciousness—even something as simple as driving directions—can be a challenge, especially in-the-moment and under pressure.

What if we could do away with words altogether? What if, rather than relying on an intermediary, we could directly transmit our thoughts through a digital, internet-like space into another mind?

Technology mediated brain-to-brain communication (basically a binary signal) has been demonstrated before. This would appear to be the first time than multiple (two) senders have been connected to a receiver, though. The network was used to play a Tetris-like video game with the senders viewing the full game but the receiver only being able to see part of it. The senders try to signal the receiver to either rotate or not rotate a falling block. The research team claims that the average accuracy is 81.3%, far better than chance. They even injected noise into one sender’s signal (call it “fake news”), but the receiver was able to learn which sender is more reliable “based solely on the information transmitted to their brains.” The researchers consider this the first step toward a social network.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. in “An Object at Rest” on Vimeo, Seth Boyden tells the story of the past few thousand years from the viewpoint of a very sleepy rock!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Peer, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 10/8/18 And We Are Her Sisters, And Her Cousins, And Her Ancillaries

(1) RECESS IS OVER. File 770 was down for approximately 7 hours today, for reasons never fully explained by customer support, except they were “actively working” on a server problem. Well, to quote Sam Gamgee, “I’m back.”

(2) WHO WATCHED. The Guardian has the numbers: “Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who debut is most watched launch for 10 years”.

Jodie Whittaker’s take on the Time Lord drew Doctor Who’s biggest series launch audience in more than a decade on Sunday night.

An average of 8.2m viewers watched Whittaker’s first outing as the Doctor, beating the ratings for political thriller sensation Bodyguard, which attracted 6.7m viewers when it debuted in August. With an audience share of 40.1%, Whittaker’s performance was the most-watched episode of the science fiction drama since the 2008 series.

The first female doctor bettered Matt Smith and David Tennant’s debut viewing figures of 7.7m and 8m respectively. While she drew a smaller audience than Christopher Eccleston’s first appearance, which was watched by 9.9m, he had the advantage of appearing in the show’s comeback episode in 2005.

(3) WHO LISTENED. But some claim the Doctor Who theme music has been defaced. “Yes,” says SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “thought impossible but some consider true.”

The brand new theme for Doctor Who Series 11, composed by Segun Akinola, which premiered tonight during the closing credits of ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’

 

(4) IT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE! Alastair Reynolds apparently blazed the trail for Banksy“Artist shreds unique work of art”.

Alastair Reynolds destroys last english copy of his short-story “Pandora’s Box” at Finncon’09

 

(5) A VOLUNTEER FOR PICARD’S CREW. Wil Wheaton told a Baltimore Comic Con audience he’d say yes — “Star Trek: Wil Wheaton Wants to Return in New Picard Series” at Comicbook.

Of course, fans also want to know if he could appear as Wesley Crusher could appear in the new show. Wheaton says he thinks its unlikely he’ll be asked, but he’d definitely be up for it if asked.

“I think it is very unlikely they will ask me to participate in it,” Wheaton said. “I mean, I think it is just extraordinarily unlikely that will happen. If they did, I would say ‘yes,’ of course. I think all of us would say ‘yes.’ I think all of us if we were given the opportunity to put on the spacesuits again and go work together and bring those characters back, as they would be thirty years later, we would all say ‘yes.’ And I don’t think it’s because we want the work. I don’t think it’s because we need the money. I don’t think it’s because we don’t have other things to do. It’s because we love each other so much and an opportunity, even for a day, to return emotionally to some of the best times of our lives, I think that we would jump at that opportunity.”

(6) LONG LIST ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen’s Long List Anthology Volume 4 Kickstarter has fully funded, included the stretch goal — 204 backers pledged $4,754.

(7) BITE CLUB. Ron Charles in the Washington Post discusses how Fangoria, which died last year, has been revived “as a new quarterly journal with photos so high-gloss that the blood looks wet.”  But Charles notes many book reviews amid all the gory photos, as well as a short story by Chuck Pahlaniuk — “Fangoria, the fabled horror magazine, has risen from the dead”.

…There’s also a piece for die-hard fanatics about continuity problems among the various “Halloween” sequels and a true story about a young man in North Carolina who built a replica of the Myers house. “I have to carefully pick what I’m going to invest my time in,” he says without any apparent irony.

Handy advice abounds in these pages. Makeup artist Tate Steinsiek explains “how to slit your own throat,” and director Corin Hardy walks us through hideous visuals in his new movie “The Nun.” “Malignant Growths,” a piece about homemade horror films, should come with its own barf bag….

(8) RAH RAH RAH (RAH RAH).  In a piece for Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll says there are “Five Books That Improve Upon Heinlein’s Juveniles”. (How can that be possible?)

Nothing fills me with dread quite like a middle-aged male writer announcing that he plans to write a YA novel just like the ones Robert Heinlein used to write . I could explain why this is such a harbinger of disappointment…but Charles Stross has already beat me to it. Instead, allow me to offer some non-Heinlein novels that succeed in scratching some of the same itches that the RAH juvies once scratched. For me, that requires the intended audience to include teens, that the genre be science fiction in the narrow sense, that the protagonist be a young adult, and that they get to do something that actually matters in the course of the book .

(9) NYCC COSPLAY. Huffington Post’s photo gallery promises “Here Are The Best Costumes From 2018’s New York Comic Con”.

But aside from stars to see, artists to discover, and unique merchandise to buy, people go to Comic Con to see (and be seen in) costumes. There were probably as many people in costume as not this year, and as always it was a wonderful distraction when walking from one part of the convention center to another.

(10) NYCC PROGRAM VIDEOS. On the Penguin Random House YouTube channel you’ll find links to 12 full panels recorded at New York Comic Con. These include a Patrick Rothfuss panel, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Panel, A Night with Author Andy Weir (The Martian), “How Writers Build Authenticity Into Diverse Worlds Panel,” Patrick Rothfuss and R.A. Salvatore Discuss Epic Fantasy, “Disney-Lucasfilm Publishing: Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away,” The World of Lore with Aaron Mahnke Panel, “Disney-Lucasfilm Presents: A Celebration of Female Writers in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.”

 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 8, 1916 – George Turner, Writer and Critic from Australia, who was a successful mainstream novelist but turned to writing SF fiction and criticism in his sixties. His novel Drowning Towers (also published as The Sea and Summer) was a near-future story about global warming and economic collapse, which won the Clarke Award and was a finalist for the Nebula, Campbell, and Ditmar Awards. His book In the Heart or In the Head: An Essay in Time Travel, a memoir in which he chronicles his chaotic growing-up in a family for whom fact and fantasy were equally acceptable and often indistinguishable, won the William J. Atheling Jr. Award and was a finalist for the Hugo for Best Nonfiction Book. He wrote a lot on the history of the genre, including John W. Campbell: Writer, Editor, Legend for an Australian symposium on Campbell in 1971. He was given an A. Bertram Chandler Award – Australia SFF fandom’s highest honor – and his other works, both SF and genre nonfiction, received many nominations and wins for Ditmar and Atheling Awards, all earned between the age of 60 and his death at age 80. He was to be Author Guest of Honor at Aussiecon 3, the 1999 Worldcon, but died prior to the convention. The interview “Judith Buckrich in Conversation with George Turner” can be found in SF Commentary #76.
  • Born October 8, 1920 – Frank Herbert, Writer well-known for his Dune series – the first of which won Hugo, Nebula, Seiun, and Locus Awards – which has been translated into more than a dozen languages and adapted to movies and videogames, including the Hugo-nominated version by David Lynch. Songs of Muad’Dib: Poems and Songs from Frank Herbert’s Dune was published posthumously, edited by his son Brian Herbert. Other work includes the ConSentiency universe novels, Under Pressure and Hellstrom’s Hive (which was awarded the Prix Apollo), and works in his Pandora and Jorj McKie universes. He was nominated for the 1956 Most Promising New Author Hugo, and was Author Guest of Honor at a number of conventions.
  • Born October 8, 1941 – Penny Frierson, 77, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired or co-chaired several conventions and Worldcon bids, and co-chaired the 1986 Worldcon. She was one of the founders of the Birmingham Science Fiction Club. She collaborated with her husband Meade in her fan writing; they were big H.P. Lovecraft fans, and their fanzines included Science Fiction on Radio, HPL, The HPL Tribute, The HPL Supplement, and the fannish play, Shattered Like a Clockwork Orange. She was a member of the APAs Myriad, RAPS, and SFPA, Guest of Honor at Coastcon in 1978, and in 1987 Southern Fandom recognized her with the Rebel Award.
  • Born October 8, 1943 – David Dvorkin, 75, Writer from England who emigrated to the U.S., and has written more than a dozen of his own speculative fiction novels, but is perhaps best known for three of the earliest novels written in the Star Trek Original Series and Next Generation universes for Pocket Books.
  • Born October 8, 1943 – R.L. Stine, 75, Writer, Editor, and Producer. Author of more than 300 novels, mostly young adult horror, most famously the Goosebumps series, which, along with some of his other works, has been made in TV series and videogames. He has written novelisations of the genre films Ghostbusters II and Spaceballs. He was recognized with a Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2013.
  • Born October 8, 1949 – Sigourney Weaver, 69, Oscar-nominated Screen and Stage Actor and Producer. Her most famous genre roles are in Hugo-winning movies the Alien series and the Star Trek homage Galaxy Quest, in addition to parts in both Hugo-nominated versions of Ghostbusters, Dave (an uncredited version of Robert Heinlein’s Double Star), the Hugo finalist Avatar and its upcoming sequels, The Village, Vamps, and Chappie. She has also provided voices for animated films including the Hugo-winning WALL-E, Happily N’Ever After, The Tale of Despereaux, and Finding Dory.
  • Born October 8, 1949 – Richard Hescox, 69, Artist and Illustrator who, between the years of 1976 and 1993, illustrated over 135 covers for genre books, but now works mostly in the games industry and for private commissions. He is also notable for producing advertising art for such movies as Escape from New York, Time Bandits, Swamp Thing, The Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story, and Conan the Barbarian. Some of his work has been gathered into two collections, The Fantasy Art of Richard Hescox and The Deceiving Eye: The Art of Richard Hescox, with text by Randy Dannenfelser. He has been nominated for a Chesley a half a dozen times, winning in 2003, named Artist Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and received The Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist in 1991.
  • Born October 8, 1956 – Stephanie Zimbalist, 62, Writer and Actor of Stage and Screen. While she is best known for the lead in the TV series Remington Steele, she has appeared in more than 60 stage plays and as many TV series, with her most notable genre appearances being the films Jericho Fever and a Saturn Award-nominated role in The Awakening, the film version of Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars. She appeared in the 2006 documentary Christa McAuliffe: Reach for the Stars, and also portrayed McAuliffe in the play Defying Gravity.
  • Born October 8, 1970 – Matt Damon, 48, Oscar-winning Writer, Actor, and Producer. His most famous genre roles involve having to be rescued in both the Hugo-winner The Martian and the Hugo finalist Interstellar. After starting his career with a role as an uncredited extra on the Hugo-nominated Field of Dreams, he later had parts in genre films The Adjustment Bureau (based on a Philip K. Dick story), The Brothers Grimm, Contagion, Elysium, The Zero Theorem, Downsizing, and he reprised his Dogma role playing Loki in a cameo in the Hugo-nominated Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Born October 8, 1979 – Kristanna Loken, 39, Actor and Producer, known to genre fans as the cyborg Terminatrix from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Her other genre appearances include the films Bloodrayne and In the Name of the King, and the TV series Mortal Kombat: Conquest and Painkiller Jane.

(12) HERBERT DAY. Steven H Silver finds a story to celebrate in a 1971 Analog – “Birthday Reviews: Frank Herbert’s ‘By the Book’” at Black Gate.

Originally published by John W. Campbell, Jr. in the October 1966 issue of Analog Science Fiction Science Fact, “By the Book” was reprinted in 1971 in The Worlds of Frank Herbert and again in The Best of Frank Herbert. It was also included in the Herbert collections Eye and The Collected Stories of Frank Herbert. The story was translated into Croatian in 1978 for inclusion in the Yugoslavian magazine Sirius and into French in 1987 for the Hebert collection Champ Mental.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) LOCAL TALENT. In LA on October 11 — “Dana Gould – A reading of Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space”. Here’s some names you don’t see all the time anymore.

Dana Gould presents A Live, Stage Reading of EdWood’s… Plan 9 from Outer Space

w/ Bobcat Goldthwait, David Koechner, Janet Varney , Laraine Newman, Kevin MacDonald, Dana Gould, Matt Braunger, Rob Zabrecky, Ron Lynch, Nate Mooney, DeborahBaker, Jr., Ken Daly, G CharlesWright, w/ Eban Schletter and other surprises!

(15) DADDY DATA? Variety reports — “TNT Orders Ridley Scott-Produced Sci-Fi Drama ‘Raised by Wolves’”.

TNT has given a straight-to-series order to a sci-fi drama project that hails from executive producer Ridley Scott.

Titled “Raised by Wolves,” the series centers on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task….

(16) SECOND NOVEL. Adri Joy has been looking forward to the continuation of this series – see “Microreview [Book]: The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The Phoenix Empress pick up almost exactly where its predecessor leaves off, and while the “present” takes up more of the narrative in this volume, there’s still a substantial story-within-a-story as Shizuka fills Shefali in on the events that led to her becoming empress, not to mention developing an alcohol addiction and a severe phobia of water. Shefali has returned from her own travels even more changed, following events in that have led to her being contaminated by black blood but not succumbing to the usual progress of the illness, and now expects to die on her next birthday in four months’ time. A great deal of the book is therefore based on learning each others’ secrets and renewing their relationship, as well as working out what the wider implications of Shefali’s return are for the future of Hokkaro and the black- blood plague.

I suspect that the unusual structure of these novels is playing an important trope-subverting role as well as being a narrative choice….

(17) AGE BEFORE BEAUTY. Apparently D.B. Jackson couldn’t resist the challenge – at Whatever, “The Big Idea: D.B. Jackson”.

Anyone who has written a time travel novel knows that they can send an author ‘round the bend. Time travel is a plotting nightmare. It creates narrative holes big enough to accommodate a truck. It acts as a virtual eraser, a do-over generator, a distributor of endless mulligans. Even the most sound, well-considered plot point can be undermined by the simple question, “Well, why can’t one of our characters go back and prevent this?” Hermione Granger’s ill-advised flirtation with Time-Turners is just the tip of the iceberg. Time travel will make an author’s brain explode.

So, naturally, I have just published the first novel in a new time travel/epic fantasy series.

(18) PALACE INTRIGUE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Various sources are reporting that the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) has announced an intent to deorbit their Tiangong-2 (Celestial Palace 2) space laboratory during or after July 2019. You may recall that Tiangong-1 deorbited in an uncontrolled manner (though the Chinese claim otherwise) earlier this year. Fortunately,  the bits of Tiangong-1 that didn’t burn up on reentry happened to hit an unoccupied part of the Pacific Ocean. The plan for Tiangong-2 is to deliberately aim for such a spot.

Neither of the Celestial Palaces were intended to be permanent space stations, though China is planning a modular space station of a more permanent nature. Mooted dates for launching the various parts of that are currently 2020–2023.

(19) GOTHAM’S FIFTH. The trailer for the last season of Fox’s Gotham was played at the New York Comic Con.

(20) THE LAST GYRO. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA has confirmed, via Twitter, that the Hubble Space Telescope has been put into “safe mode” following the failure of one of its gyroscopes (Space.com: “Hubble Space Telescope in ‘Safe Mode’ After Gyroscope Failure”). This leaves the iconic telescope with only two gyros operating, not enough to “ensure optimal efficiency” per the Hubble website. All six gyroscopes were last replaced during Servicing Mission 4 when Shuttle Atlantis visited in 2009 during mission STS-125. With the Shuttle fleet long retired now, further servicing is not an option.

Dr. Rachel Osten, Hubble Deputy Mission Head, has tweeted that the “[f]irst step is try to bring back the last gyro, which had been off, and is being problematic.” If that fails, there was quick speculation that a change in operational mode may emerge, Dr. Grant Tremblay, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted:

*IF* the third [gyroscope] doesn’t spin back up, I wouldn’t be surprised if they drop to 1 gyro mode, keeping the second as reserve. @rachelosten might know, but I imagine it’s a stressful, difficult decision. Let’s just hope the brilliant people at @STScI can recover the third. Stress.

That plan was confirmed shortly after, when Dr Osten replied:

It’s not a difficult decision, @astrogrant: the plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain. There isn’t much difference between 2- and 1, and it buys lots of extra observing time. Which the Astro community wants desperately.

In fact, the gyroscope that just failed lasted “about six months longer” than had been anticipated. This failure is one more confirmation that the Hubble is nearing the end of it’s life, though it is clearly still doing good science.

(21) RED HAT. Mlex says he’d wear one –

(22) STYLE POINTS IF YOU STICK THE LANDING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] There’s video of the first Vandenberg landing of a SpaceX Falcon 9 on The Verge (“SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on the California coast for the first time”). The video includes launch, side-by-side views of the second stage burn and the first stage return to Vandenberg, and more. If you want to skip ahead to the final landing  burn, that starts just after the 29 minute mark of the video when the stage is still over 4 km in altitude. This is a night landing, so the burns are spectacular, but overall visibility is limited. The split screen for the last few moments of the landing has video from the side of the stage (looking down) and from a ground camera viewing from a safe distance.

(23) EPISODE RECAP. Martin Morse Wooster says, “My local public television station is showing the New Zealand series The Brokenwood Mysteries.  Last night they showed an episode which appeared in the show’s third season and was broadcast in New Zealand in 2016.” —

The premise is that a sleazy tour operator is offering “Lord of the Ringz” tours to the Brokenwood forest for Chinese tourists.  They’re shown a crappy matte painting of mountains.  Guys with pointy ears do some swordplay. The climax of the tour is when a giant plush toy spider descends on a woman wrapped up in spider webbing–but the unplanned but is that the woman is dead, and the detectives then find out who killed her.

A German guy complains that he isn’t seeing anything from The Lord of the Rings, and is told, “Oh, in New Zealand we spell things creatively.”  In another scene, a lawyer explains that as long as the customers aren’t told they’re seeing things from The Lord of the Rings–and every sign, for some reason, isn’t spelled correctly!–then it’s legal.  “We could be showing scenes from some direct-to DVD film,” he said.

I hope this lawyer never deals with the Tolkien estate…

(24) SHADOW OF VADER. Chuck Wendig will write a five-issue miniseries for Marvel Star Wars:

Chuck Wendig on Darth Vader and his newly-announced series, Shadow of Vader: “Vader is a character with a long shadow, literally and figuratively. His legacy is deep and unpleasant.” The world will not be bereft of Darth Vader in their comics for long, as Wendig announced that he will be writing a miniseries called Shadow of Vader, beginning in November. Each issue will feature a different set of characters: Issue #1 is a Friday the 13th homage, with Vader hunting down kids at summer camp; issue #2 stars the one-and-only Willrow Hood; issue #3 centers on a morgue attendant on the Death Star; issue #4 diverges to focus on the Acolytes of the Beyond; issue #5 follows a New Republic pilot — whose parents were killed by Vader — who joins the Resistance only to learn that Leia’s father is the Sith Lord.

(25) AMERICAN GODS TRAILER. The second season of American Gods is on the way.

A storm is coming. American Gods returns to STARZ in 2019. Starring Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Yetide Badaki, Orlando Jones, Omid Abtahi, Mousa Kraish, and more.

 

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, Bill, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]