Detective Ash is a veteran Blade Runner, set on the trail of a kidnapped child in the streets of Los Angeles, 2019 – but as the bodies mount and Replicants crawl from the shadows, Ash’s own secrets come under fire!
From writer Michael Green (screenwriter for Blade Runner
2049) and Mike Johnson (Star Trek), and illustrated by Andres
Guinaldo (Justice League Dark, Captain America).
By Martin Morse Wooster: Perhaps the most
interesting play I saw in 2018 was a revision of Macbeth done in 1664 by Sir William Davenant, which was performed
at the Folger Theatre. Davenant wrote
his revisions after theaters had been closed for 20 years, and the audiences of
the 1660s wanted something different than when Shakespeare wrote 60 years
before. They liked songs more than
Shakespeare’s audience, so the witches had three arias, with the Folger Consort
as musical accompaniment. Davenant also
used his blue quill to change words he didn’t like, so the witches became
“unhappy sisters” instead of “weird sisters” and when Macbeth says “out, out
brief candle,” Davenant had him say “out, out, short candle.”
Peter Pan and Wendy
is a revision of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan
by Lauren Gunderson. Gunderson is
credited as adapting Barrie’s play, but a better credit would be that Peter Pan and Wendy is a play by Lauren
Gunderson based on characters created by J.M. Barrie. Peter Pan and Wendy is to Peter
Pan as the Star Trek: Kelvin
universe is to Star Trek; the male characters are mostly Barrie’s, the female
characters are Gunderson’s, and nearly everything that happens in Neverland is
radically different than what Barrie had in mind.
Lauren Gunderson (whose website is here) is credited by American Theatre as being the most
produced playwright in America in 2018.
She’s 37 but has already written about 15 plays, as well as at least one
kids’ book about science. Her plays are
noted for having strong women characters and having something about science, so
the audience gets fun facts along with good theater. The only play of hers I’ve seen is Emilie, about an 18th-century
aristocrat who makes important discoveries in physics. Friends of mine saw her play The Book of Will, about the creation of
Shakespeare’s First Folio, and thought they learned things about how the book
And because Gunderson was sitting four rows in front of me
in the dress rehearsal I attended, she told me that, even though she writes
about women and science, she doesn’t consider herself an sf writer.
Much of what Barrie wrote in Peter Pan remains in Peter
Pan and Wendy. Peter Pan is a blond
guy who wears the traditional green outfit.
Lots of members of the cast fly around the stage in harnesses.
There’s still a giant crocodile with a
clock inside who likes eating people.
There is still a dog on stage; Bailey, in fact, was the understudy for
the dog that appeared in Finding Neverland. Most surprisingly, Gunderson figured out a
way to get the audience to clap for Tinkerbell, although the reasons why they are clapping are quite
Where Gunderson differs from Barrie is in how the women in the
play are depicted. We begin in the
Darling’s bedroom, where Wendy and her brothers are getting ready for bed. Then they see a light. But Wendy decides she will report the new
star to the Royal Astronomical Society.
Then she discusses her love for Marie Curie, who won the Nobel Prize a
year before Barrie’s play was first produced.
Then there is a magnifying glass Wendy uses, which will play a key role
in the second act.
So we’re off to Neverland!
And yes, the Lost Boys are there, and Captain Hook, and Smee. But then we have Tiger Lily, whose role is
now problematic. Changing her role
changed the backstory of how Neverland came to be.
“The most important part of this project was rewriting
Tiger Lily to counteract the colonialism, racism and harmful stereotype of the
original,” Gunderson writes in an essay in the program. “I’m deeply grateful to the indigenous
consultants that helped me begin to understand the Native American
perspective.” She adds that her
characters become “activists ready to work together to make the world—even the
dream world of Neverland—a better place for all.”
This might lead people to think that Peter Pan and Wendy offers the audience an unwanted dose of
double-strength vinegar, so that it would only appeal to the small number of families
who think a fun day with the kids is a hearty discussion about the evils of
It is to Gunderson’s great credit that she refrains from lecturing the audience. We learn that Tiger Lily is part of the indigenous peoples who existed in Neverland and that the world changed when Peter Pan and the Lost Boys showed up. In the end battle, tomboy Tiger Lily, scientist Wendy, and girly Tinkerbell all join Peter Pan and the Lost Boys to fight Hook and his gang. Moreover, Tiger Lily says she’s joining the fight for her own reasons and not because Peter Pan told her to.
But Gunderson’s love for Barrie’s male characters makes for
effective drama. Peter Pan and Wendy is not a play where the women win when the men
lose. Peter Pan could easily have been
presented as a jerk. Gunderson’s Peter
Pan is initially clueless, but he grows, learns, and improves.
Finally, it should be noted that Peter Pan and Wendy has many jokes, including a couple of
groaners. There’s an inscription on a
redshirt’s sword that is really funny.
struck me as a musical that had been rewritten too many times by too many hands. Peter
Pan and Wendy strikes me as being Lauren Gunderson’s vision. It should not
be the last word in how Peter Pan is portrayed in this century, but as long as
audiences realize they are entering Lauren Gunderson’s world and not J.M.
Barrie’s, they will find Peter Pan and
Wendy is enjoyable, effective, and provocative theatre.
The “Restoration Shakespeare” Macbeth was very well done, with excellent
performances by Ian Merrill Peakes as Macbeth and Kate Eastwood Smith as Lady
Macbeth. But the Folger made a mistake
by presenting the play as a benefit performance by the Bedlam asylum, where
some of the swords were real swords that actually killed actors. They should have presented Davenant’s play
straight so that the audience could experience it, since the likelihood it will
be performed again is vanishingly small.
Shakespeare Theatre dramturg Drew Lichtenberg told us in an essay in the
program that harnesses were cutting-edge technology in 1904 and that all the
flying in a dress rehearsal led to a set collapse, a delay for a week, and
Barrie frantically rewriting the conclusion.
(1) LEST MARKNESS FALL. Christine Feehan tweeted a justification of her application to trademark book series with the word “Dark” in the title. Penny Reid is one of many who still hopes someone will put a stop to the idea. [UPDATE: Feehan has removed the tweet to which Reid is responding. I have not located a screencap to replace it.]
As Portland State University Indigenous Nations Studies professor Grace L. Dillon wrote in the introduction to 2012’s Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, “It is almost commonplace to think that the Native Apocalypse, if contemplated seriously, has already taken place.” Indigenous authors are thus in a unique position to reclaim sci-fi narratives as a form of resistance against settler colonialism. Indigenous science fiction or speculative fiction—which Dillion encapsulates with the term “Indigenous futurisms,” inspired by the Afrofuturism movement—offers a space for Indigenous writers, filmmakers, and artists to explore possible futures. From cowboy films to government-assimilation policies, Native American communities and cultures are often portrayed as a “vanishing race” with no place in the present, let alone the future. Indigenous futurism is a contemplation of what our futures look like as Indigenous people, one that recognizes the significance and strength of Indigenous knowledge systems.
Such possible futures are prevalent themes in Cherie Dimaline’s 2017 novel The Marrow Thievesand Rebecca Roanhorse’s 2018 novel Trail of Lightning. Both books create new worlds that center and celebrate Indigenous people, knowledge, and land. “You don’t see a lot of Native Americans in science fiction and fantasy, and when you do they are usually not situated in a world that is specifically Native, like the Navajo reservation,” Roanhorse told Barnes & Noble in 2018. “I wanted to read a science fiction and fantasy story where Native characters held front and center, where the landscape was filled with the places and the people that I knew from living on the rez, where the gods and heroes were of North American Indigenous origin.”
…As each world is destroyed, a new one begins. The Diné believe that we are now in the fifth world, and in Trail of Lightning, Roanhorse creates the beginning of the sixth—one that takes shape in the aftermath of global destruction brought about by climate change and human hubris. In effect, Roanhorse is modernizing Diné stories and history without translating it for readers. She expects those who read her books to already know about these traditions and beliefs, making the Sixth World series uniquely accessible to Diné and other Native peoples in a way that other sci-fi and fantasy series are not.
(3) DEAD ASTRONAUTS MUSIC. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Jeff VanderMeer has posted “The Operatic, Post-Punk Sounds of Dead Astronauts”,
a selected list of 23 songs that were on the playlist that he listened to while
writing Dead Astronauts, his latest science fiction book for the Farrar,
Straus & Giroux imprint MCD Books. The playlist includes songs by Midnight
Oil, The Church, Spoon, Mercury Rev, Three Mile Pilot, Tropical Fuck Storm, and
The Dead Astronauts “mix tape” consists of 900 songs, played on shuffle unless I needed to summon a certain emotion for a particular scene. The 23 songs here are either favorites or representative of albums I love. But loving an album isn’t enough—I write very much by feel and music is essential to that. I have to be in the right headspace to stay within the style and voice of the novel. In the case of Dead Astronauts, there are ten sections and ten different perspectives and styles.
Yet pervading everything in Dead Astronauts is a dual sense of anger and defiance mixed acceptance and loss. These are big, almost operatic emotions that manifest in the novel in both bold, over-the-top ways and in a minor key, with intricate little eddies and shifts in perspective.
Leading up to its widely watched, less widely admired culmination in May, much was made of Thrones’ status as the last of its kind, a great unifier whose most fantastical flourish of all was reviving the monoculture for an hour at a time on Sunday nights. Nearly seven months later, those eulogies for Thrones still echo, though they take on a different tone when held up against the context of all this year’s other finales. In truth, television as communal mass consumption is a model that was de facto extinct long before Game of Thrones artificially expanded its lifespan, White Walker–style—and may in fact be better represented by The Big Bang Theory, another monster hit that wound down within days of its flashier peer. However warranted, the noise around Thrones may have obscured the passing of a different kind of cultural moment.
There’s so much else unusual about Los Espookys thatit’s easy to forget the novelty, and significance, of its being the first-ever Spanish-language series to air on HBO. Conceived of by SNL’s Fred Armisen and cowritten by Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega, all of whom serve in the ensemble cast, Los Espookys seems to set and defy its own rules at will. In this unnamed Latin American country, there’s ample demand for “horror groups” to stage elaborate, quasi-mystical pranks, some of them involving aliens. Also, valet parking is a high art; news anchors are beautiful, brainwashed abductees; and the U.S. ambassador is a live-action Barbie doll who gets trapped in an enchanted mirror. At once deadpan and fantastical, Los Espookys’flair for the dramatic resembles nothing else on television, except for Torres’s distinctive sketch work over in Studio 8H. The showachieves a similar effect, immersing the viewer in an alternate reality mercifully low on stakes and high on cursed amulets. Only when the spell is broken do you notice the quietly forceful statement of subtitling the English dialogue along with the Spanish.
(5) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense
Fiction series is “A Priest, a Rabbi, and a Robot Walk Into a Bar,” by Andrew Dana Hudson, a new short story that looks at how
artificial intelligence could support, and distort, faith.
(6) BABY YODA. Funko Pop’s The Child comes in two sizes, 10 and 3.75 inches. Speculation is that the former is intended to be life-sized. Available for pre-order now with delivery in Spring 2020, so don’t expect to see it in your Christmas stocking.
The Outspoken Author series is unique: it covers the gamut of genres, from hard SF to crime and literary fiction, and it collects the underappreciated and hard-to-find work of legendary figures in an accessible format. Not only is there fiction, the authors offer up essays, transcripts of talks and speeches, and ruminations about the writing life. Each volume concludes with an in-depth interview conducted by series editor Terry Bisson, and these go deep: you’ll learn about everything from revelations about drag personas to dissections of Trotskyism in the United Kingdom.
Never has a single StoryBundle offered work by so many of speculative literature’s most important figures: Ursula K. Le Guin, Samuel R. Delany, Michael Moorcock, and many others. We’re offering twenty-three volumes in DRM-free digital formats that are yours to keep till freedom reigns over the world.
You decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of six books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
Thoreau’s Microscope by Michael Blumlein
A City Made of Words by Paul Park
The Beatrix Gates by Rachel Pollack
Totalitopia by John Crowley
Raising Hell by Norman Spinrad
Modem Times 2.0 by Michael Moorcock
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all six of the regular books, plus SEVENTEEN more books!
The Atheist in the Attic by Samuel R. Delany
Fire. by Elizabeth Hand
Miracles Ain’t What They Used to
Be by Joe R.
Gypsy by Carter Scholz
My Life, My Body by Marge Piercy
Patty Hearst & The Twinkie
Murders by Paul
The Science of Herself by Karen Joy Fowler
New Taboos by John Shirley
The Human Front by Ken Macleod
Report From Planet Midnight by Nalo Hopkinson
Surfing the Gnarl by Rudy Rucker
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow by Cory Doctorow
The Wild Girls by Ursula K. Le Guin
Mammoths of the Great Plains by Eleanor Arnason
The Underbelly by Gary Phillips
The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Left Left Behind by Terry Bisson
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 4, 1970 — Latitude Zero premiered in New York City. It was directed by Ishir? Honda and scripted by Ted Sherdeman as based on his Latitude Zero radio show. The film stars both American and Japanese actors including Joseph Cotten, Cesar Romero, Akira Takarada, Masumi Okada, Richard Jaeckel and Patricia Medina. Critics found the plot weak but the special effects rather fun. It currently has a rating of 50% at Rotten Tomatoes among viewers.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 4, 1937 — David Bailie, 82. He played Dask in “The Robots of Death”, a Fourth Doctor story, and also appeared in Blake’s 7 as Chevner in the “Project Avalon” story. Also, he played the mute pirate Cotton in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. Intriguingly he shows up in The Creeping Flesh which starredChristopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
Born December 4, 1939 — Jimmy Hunt, 80. He plays Dave MacLean in Invaders from Mars. Some three decades later, he’ll appear in the remake as the Police Chief. He’s an uncredited appearance early in his career in My Brother Talks to Horses which is definitely genre. And he’s in Close Encounters of the 4th Kind: Infestation from Mars though I know nothing of this film. Have any of you seen it?
Born December 4, 1945 — Karl Edward Wagner. As an editor, he created a three-volume set of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian fiction restored to its original form as it was originally written by Howard. He is quite likely best known for his invention of the character Kane, the Mystic Swordsman who I think is in as many as thirty works by Wagner. Anyone here read them? Rhetorical question I know. His Carcosa publishing company issued four volumes of stories by authors of the Golden Age pulp magazines. Anything I left off that folks should know about him? (Died 1994.)
Born December 4, 1949 — Jeff Bridges, 70. I’d say his best genre role was as Starman / Scott Hayden in the film of that name. Other genre work includes King Kong, the voice of Prince Lir in Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, Jack Lucas in The Fisher King, Iron Monger in Iron Man and Kevin Flynn/CLU 2 in Tron: Legacy. He appeared also in a film called R.I.P.D. as Roycephus “Roy” Pulsipher which was either really bad or really, really bad.
Born December 4, 1954 — Sally Kobee, 65. Fan, Bookseller, filker. She has served on the committees for myriad conventions, and chaired both Ohio Valley Filk Fest 4 and OVFF 10, and WFC 2010 and 2016. She was honored as a Fellow of NESFA and as a Guest of Honor at Windycon XXVII. She and her now late husband purchased a bookstore in the 90s. She continues to the day to sell books at conventions.
Born December 4, 1954 — Tony Todd, 65. Let’s see… He was a memorable Kurn in Next Gen and Deep Space Nine, he plays Ben in Night of the Living Dead, he’s of course the lead character in the Candyman horror trilogy, William Bludworth in the Final Destination film franchise, Cecrops in Xena: Warrion Princess and Gladius on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Those are just selected highlights.
Born December 4, 1957 — Lucy Sussex, 62. Fan, reviewer, author, and editor. Born in New Zealand, resident in Australia… she’s been writing SFF ever since attending a Terry Carry led workshop. And she’s edited several anthologies such as She’s Fantastical, the first collection of Australian women’s speculative fiction. She’s won three Ditmar Awards, A. Bertram Chandler Award and an Aurealis Award to name some of her awards — impressive indeed! I’ve not heard of her before now, so I’ve not read her, so who has read her?
Born December 4, 1964 — Marisa Tomei, 55. May Parker in Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also to my delight has an uncredited role as a Health Club Girl in The Toxic Avenger. She also shows up as Mrs. O’Conner in the “Unwomen”, an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Born December 4, 1989 — Nafessa Williams, 30. She had only two genre roles but with the first being the revival series of Twin Peaks where she was Jade. The other is what gets her Birthday Honors — She’s Anissa Pierce who is the superhero Thunder on the Black Lightning series. Superb series, great character!
Now Disney is finally pulling the curtains off “Rise,” opening on Thursday at Walt Disney World and on January 17 at Disneyland. The stakes are high for this expensive gamble to succeed: Attendance at Disney’s domestic theme parks was down 3% in its latest quarter. The company also recently announced the departure of Catherine Powell, the president of Disney Parks who oversaw Anaheim and Orlando.
Disney is betting it can turn things around with the power of high-tech experiences. The attraction packs dozens of audio-animatronics — and a couple of giant AT-ATs — holograms, lasers, and the most complex ride system Disney’s Imagineers had ever designed: a trackless vehicle that moves laterally, vertically, and at all times unpredictably. At its annual shareholders meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger called the ride “the most technologically advanced and immersive attraction that we have ever imagined.”
It’s written in a language called ZIL, which stands for Zork Implementation Language. The games have been rewritten for various platforms and have been circulating for years, but knowledge of the actual scripting language used to create the game was lost to the annals of history.
Recently a well-regarded essayist expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of the SF novel. He went so far as to confidently assert, “I stopped reading novels last year. I think you did too.” Sweeping assertions are often wrong. This one is definitely wrong, at least where I am concerned.
…What may have sparked his comment is burnout, of the form that might be called “reader’s block.” You want to read something, but can find nothing specific you want to read. I think most of us who read extensively have been there.
The best method I know of for mitigating reader’s block is to cast one’s net wider….
On Black Friday, as shoppers packed an outlet mall just up the road, Patrick Darby sat behind the counter at Novel Books, his charmingly cramped bookstore in suburban Maryland, narrating the last chapter of his business.
“I’ll be gone by next week if something doesn’t happen,” Darby said, his hands trembling.For Darby, 60, this bookstore tucked inside an old yellow house with a wraparound porch in Clarksburg was his opportunity to finally sell books the old-fashioned way. He had spent decades working for big chains, including Crown Books, once a staple of Washington.
“I’d been thinking about a store like this the whole time,” Darby said.
…The response from some fans online was highly reminiscent of the “Fat Thor” controversy after the release of Avengers: Endgame. Many were incredulous that Marvel appeared not to have learned anything from said controversy, including Twitter user @The_GothDaddy, who wrote, “The Black Widow trailer looks pretty good I’d like it more if Marvel learned their lesson with Thor and maybe considered leaving out yet… A n o t h e r… Dig at fat people.”
User @Artists_Ali agreed, writing, “So I watched the Black Widow trailer. Is Marvel just gonna do wall to wall fatphobic jokes in all their movies now or….? Yeah that’s gonna be a no from me.”
There were a wealth of similar tweets to be found in the trailer’s immediate wake, and while everybody is obviously entitled to their opinion, ours is that — as with the Endgame controversy — the approach to Harbour’s character is being wildly misinterpreted. User @MediocreJedi (great name) contributed another critical tweet that touched on our reasoning: “Imma watch the hell out of #BlackWidow,” they wrote, “but did Marvel learn ANYTHING from their Endgame Thor fat joke backlash? Most women I know find David Harbour hot. So, another fat joke? Signed, guy who can barely fit into his 21-year-old dress uniform but can still kick ass.”
(19) SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED. New trailer for the next James
Bond movie No Time To Die.
In No Time To Die, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King
Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, N., Jennifer Hawthorne, Darrah Chavey, Rob Thornton, Joey
Eschrich, Chip Hitchcock, StephenfromOttawa, Mike Kennedy, and Cat Eldridge for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing collaborative
editors of the day cmm and Jayn.]
By Mark L. Blackman: The Beatles entered my consciousness not
through the bathroom window but with my brother telling me about a new singing
group with “haircuts like Moe” of the Three Stooges. (Decades later, he watched
Sir Paul perform in Tel Aviv.) Soon after I saw their landmark first appearance
on Ed Sullivan. By then Beatlemania had
erupted – the moptops were the Fab Four – everyone had to get them into their
lives. We followed their long and winding road from sweet love songs to India
and Sergeant Pepper and The End.
friends visited from England, they made a pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields – a
place to go – then across the street to the Dakota.
time of year is a sad one for Beatles fans. Last month saw the anniversary of
George’s death, next week will be that of John’s murder. A celebration of their
music, fame and legacy, what they meant, something to say that it’s O.K. and
make us feel good in a special way, is most welcome. We saw a reminder of their
status as The ’60s Icons last summer as fans gathered on the 50th
anniversary of Abbey Road on, where
else?, London’s Abbey Road.
on the evening of Tuesday, December 3rd – Giving Tuesday
– at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in Brooklyn, the New York Review of
Science Fiction Reading Series hosted a launch party (we’re going to a party
party) for Across the Universe, an anthology
of 25 freaky and twisted (and shouted) speculative fiction
stories about the Beatles and alternative variations of the still-Fab Four.
Edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn, the ticket to ride features
what-ifs by Spider Robinson, Jody Lynn Nye, David Gerrold, Cat Rambo, Lawrence
Watt-Evans, Allen Steele, Pat Cadigan, Gregory Frost, Gregory Benford, Matthew
Amati, Ken Schneyer, Bev Vincent, Patrick Barb, Gail Z. Martin, Barbara Clough,
Eric Avedissian, Alan Goldsher, R. Jean Mathieu, Beth Patterson, and Christian
Smith, coming together, plus the, um, Fab Five readers of the evening: Charles Barouch, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Carol Gyzander,
Gordon Linzner, and Sally Wiener Grotta.
As we gathered, Beatles tunes played to get us into
the spirit of things. The event opened, as usual, with producer and executive
curator Jim Freund, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio program Hour of the Wolf (with WBAI-FM back on
the air, he’s no longer sitting in a nowhere land) welcoming the audience to
the last reading of 2019. He began by noting that tonight’s readings would be on
Facebook Live, rather than streamed on Livestream, plugging that the Café’s
kitchen would be open through most of the evening, and announcing that next
month’s readers (January
7th) would be Hildy Silverman and A.C. Wise (though without
glitter). He reminded those who can to donate to the Series ($7
is the suggested donation, but no one is ever turned away due to lack of
funds), and reported that the home audience may donate on its Patreon page, Jim
Bringing up guest host and the book’s co-editor Randee
Dawn, he reported that Across the Universe is actually the second such
anthology, the first being All Together
Now, edited by James Ryan. Dawn is a Brooklyn-based author and
entertainment journalist who focuses on speculative fiction, but is co-author
of The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. After
recounting how she and Ventrella pretty much simultaneously came up with the
idea, presented it to Ian Randal Strock of Fantastic Books and launched a
Kickstarter campaign to realize it, she introduced the evening’s first reader.
Sally Wiener Grotta is the author of The Winter Boy and Jo Joe, a journalist and the co-curator of the Galactic
Philadelphia author reading series. She read from her story “The Truth Within,”
in which George goes to Key Biscayne and tries to get Nixon interested in
(“hooked on”) transcendental meditation: “Imagine a chilled Nixon at peace with
himself. … And poof! No more carpet bombing and napalm.”
Carol Gyzander, writer of various crossgenre ’punk
stories and the second reader, read from “Deal with the Devil”, which is one
answer to “how did the Beatles get so good?” Set in Liverpool after their
return from playing clubs in Hamburg (Pete Best is still their drummer), two
kids, fans of Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne, using black magic to connect
with their idols, instead reach – through their old black and white “telly” –
Next up was Gordon Linzner, founder and former editor
of Space & Time Magazine, author of The Spy Who Drank Blood, and who, as lead singer of the Saboteur
Tiger Blues Band, has covered a fair share of Beatles songs. His story alludes
to a tv show with four protagonists, “The Hey! Team.” With John as leader and
wacko Richard “Ringo” Starkey in the Murdoch role, they try to prevent the
abduction of Chuck Berry’s guitar Maybellene, while being pursued by Colonel
Pepper (he was promoted).
“The Perfect Bridge,” Charles Barouch’s quickie was
another time travel story. A computer programmer in 1978, using a “Yellow
Subroutine,” reaches across to 1967 to plant an Appleseed.
the intermission, a raffle was held for those who donated, with three prizes:
from Carol Gyzander’s What
We’ve Unlearned; Sally Wiener
Grotta’s Jo Joe; and Gordon Linzner’s
The Spy Who Drank Blood. Freund
reported that the Brooklyn Commons was starting a series or festival of short
subject films and invited us to sign up electronically at a terminal up front.
Opening the second half of the show was Keith R.A.
DeCandido, who is perhaps best known for his media tie-in work across “33
different universes, from Alien to Zorro.” In “Used to Be,” which is set sort of in his “Precinct” fantasy
police procedural series, the Beatles are recast as Jahn, Gyorg, Paol and
Starki, D&D tropes (Jahn is a bard, Starki a barbarian).
Filling in for the scheduled final reader, Dawn read Matthew Amati’s “Apocalypse Rock.” Set in an alternate
history where the U.S. lost JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis gamble, four musicians
wander a postapocalyptic landscape of gangs and cannibal mutants to a battle of
the bands at the titular site.
Then, in a bonus, the book’s publisher (“the guy who
writes the checks”), Ian Randal Strock, read “Rubber Soul” by Spider Robinson.
In the 1985 story, John is resurrected 24 years after his death at 40, making him…
Finally, it being a party party and all the world is birthday
cake, Dawn brought out a huge cake (though not honey pie or marshmallow pie) decorated
with a copy of the cover art by Dave Alvarez. (I took a piece but not too much.)
The traditional Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered a
small assortment of books. The audience of close to 80, counting Freund and the
readers, included Karen Heuler, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff, John Kwok,
James Ryan and Susan Bratisher Ryan.
It was a hard day’s night.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
By John Hertz: (reprinted from No
Direction Home 39) John Paul Stevens
(1920-2019) was the 101st Justice (as we call judges there) appointed to the
United States Supreme Court (served 1975-2010), taking the seat vacated by the
retirement of William O. Douglas (1898-1980; served 1939-1975). Justice Stevens was appointed by President
Ford; Justice Douglas had been appointed by President F.D. Roosevelt.
retiring, Justice Stevens wrote Five
Chiefs (2011), a memoir of the Chief Justices he had served under. A fuller memoir The Making of a Justice (2019) appeared two months before his
death. Only Douglas and Justice Stephen
J. Field (1816-1899; served 1863-1897, appointed by President Lincoln) were
longer on the Court.
Stevens and I both went to the University of Chicago Laboratory School and
Northwestern U. law school. He was and I
am a Chicago Cubs baseball fan. At
Northwestern, he and I had the same professor for Antitrust law, James A. Rahl
been said that a man who wears a bow tie is a joker. On the strength of my grandfather, of one of
my brilliant first-year law school professors, and of Justice Stevens, it may
be true. The Making of a Justice is full of jokes, many dry, some wry.
a few feet from him at a law-school reception when he muttered to another of my
brilliant professors – who didn’t wear bow ties, but always wore a gray
three-piece suit, white shirt, black knitted four-in-hand; not until watching
him closely in a second class I carefully took with him did I see from slightly
differing lapels, or buttons, or tie weave, that he had several – “I never had
the Latin for the judgin’”.
only time The Making shocked me was a
manifest set-up. The title itself is a
joke; how can it cover Stevens’ entire life and not merely the years 1920-1975?
but he was famous for saying learning on the job was essential to judging (e.g.
his 2006 article “Learning on the Job” [based on a 2005 speech], Fordham U. Law Review, vol. 74,
beginning at p. 1561).
consummation devoutly to be wished is that judges, most of all – supremely – on
the Supreme Court, will study the law, study the facts of the case before them,
and decide how the law applies to the case and with what result. In the words of Gelett Burgess’ poet (“The
Protest of the Illiterate”, 1897), that’s hard as the deuce; we can have panels
of three judges, or seven, and on the U.S. Supreme Court are nine.
can happen, what we hope will not happen, and what the mass news media and, it
seems, many politicians insist always does happen, is that judges unconsciously
or otherwise bend toward their existing opinions – alas, their prejudices – and
reach results accordingly. A Spanish
proverb says Every man pushes his own
sardine closer to the fire. So we
worry about liberal and conservative judges, if wisely then unfortunately.
the extent that is real and not false wisdom I think the Supreme Court should
have two thoughtful articulate liberals, two thoughtful articulate
conservatives, and the rest moderates.
Thus various views will be expressed, and if I may quote Justice William
J. Brennan, Jr. (1906-1997; served 1956-1990, appointed by President
Eisenhower), praised, when he is (literary present tense), as a thoughtful
articulate liberal, It takes five votes
to get anything done around here.
and politics are neighbors. Supreme
Court justices, who are not elected, are nominated by a President and confirmed
by a Senate who are. It is tempting, and
some would say rightful, for the President and the Senate (where the President
may not have a sympathetic majority) to try moving the Court in a favored
direction. Even so that does not always
Stevens, nominated by a President who was a moderate Republican, appeared to be
a moderate Republican. By his retirement
liberals were boasting of him. But he
always said he was a conservative, and as time went on, he said the Court, not
he, had shifted.
had sometimes been called “even Stevens” for delivering both opinions conservatives
liked and opinions liberals liked. At
his death both Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. (born 1955; serving since
2005, appointed by President G.W. Bush), a conservative, and Justice Elena
Kagan (b. 1960; appointed by President Obama to succeed Justice Stevens), a
liberal, praised him for kindness, humility, and independence; Justice Kagan
said he was fiercely independent.
also called him a model of collegiality (which another of my brilliant law
professors always deliberately pronounced “colleague-iality”). That shows in both Five Chiefs and The Making of
many times wrote the opinion of the Court, many times a concurring opinion to
record why he could not wholly agree, many times an opinion in dissent. I’ll record one dissent of mine; to keep this
note from being technical, not on a legal point – and I concur in his result.
a moot-court competition which argued whether the actor Shakespeare (1564-1616)
had actually written the plays under that name, he held that the challenger had
not brought evidence enough to overturn the prevailing view in favor of the
actor, but “confessed to having some doubt….
the striking difference between the spelling … of his … actual
signatures and the name ‘Shakespeare’”, adding in his memoir that, when
visiting the Shakespeare home in Stratford-upon-Avon later in the year, he
“found no evidence whatsoever that the house ever contained a library. The man who wrote those plays must have owned
some books,” Making pp. 235-36.
his legal opinions Justice Stevens insisted on understanding the facts. Here in my own view he was alas ill-informed
of contemporary spelling in written English, of what actors like Shakespeare
had in ready memory, of the notorious errors indicating the playwright had not
consulted books, and of the cost and availability of books then.
in 2005 Gerald Ford said “I am prepared to allow history’s judgment of my term
in office to rest (if necessary, exclusively) on my nomination thirty years ago
of Justice John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court…. He has served with dignity, intellect, and
without partisan political concerns,” Making
pp. 527-28. R.I.P.
schools: some universities and other institutions engaged in teacher education
maintain these to train teachers, further educational research and
experimentation, and like that.
Antitrust law: so called in the U.S. because at the turn of the 20th
Century businesses perceived to exercise oppressive economic power acted by
using, or abusing, the form of legal entity known as a trust, one person (which need not be a natural person, could be a corporation) holding property for
others’ benefit; thus e.g. the 1914 Sherman Antitrust Act. “Never had the Latin for the judgin’”: P.
Cook as E.L. Wisty (1960), see his Tragically
I Was an Only Twin pp. 43-45 (2002).
Moot court: a mock trial or arbitration
examining a hypothetical case as an academic exercise.
Part 1 — Supergirl: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One” (December 8, 2019)
Part 2 — Batwoman: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” (December 9, 2019)
Part 3 — The Flash: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three” (December 10, 2019)
Part 4 — Arrow: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four” (January 14, 2020)
Part 5 — DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five” (January 14, 2020)
to mention a fair amount of preliminary/build-up over the current season, in Flash
and Arrow and presumably (I haven’t been watching it or Arrow), Supergirl.
particularly cool thing that the showrunners have done is that the events start
in the shows in “real time” — that is, the Flash episode premiering
on December 9, 2019 is taking place on “show calendar time” of December
CROSS-OVERS AND EVENTS: THEY’RE ESTABLISHED THINGS. “Cross-over events”
combine two of comic books — and, somewhat more recently (I think)
where characters from one title/”universe”/publisher visit another’s
— sometimes within the same publishing company, sometimes cross-publisher,
like when Marvel’s Punisher came to Riverdale in 1994, or DC/Marvel’s AMALGAM
these are within an existing title, sometimes a separate title, e.g. Batman and
the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles miniseries.
some overlap with the notion of team-ups (and “Vs”s), like Superman
and Batman, Flash and Green Lantern, JLA/Avengers, etc., and also with
“cameos” — guest appearances, like Don Rickles in two issues of Jimmy
Olsen during the 1970’s (part of Jack Kirby’s great Fourth World/New Gods
run). See “15
Unlikely Comic Book Crossovers (That Actually Happened)” at Newsarama.
Dynamite Comics has lots of great cross-over comics. ‘Nuff said!)
for more crossover listings and info, feel free — after you are done with this
scroll — hop over to
typically refers to a big plot with lots of action, sub-plot, interaction,
reveals, and whatnot. Some events are strictly within a title or (main)
character, e.g., “Death of Superman,” Spider-Man Clone Conspiracy.
Others span lots of titles, characters, and even times and universes/realities,
e.g. Marvel’s Civil War and House of M, and, well, DC’s various
TV DOES CROSS-OVERS AND EVENTS, TOO. TV, increasingly, is doing this.
Back in 1967, the Batman and Green Hornet TV shows had a
cross-over episode (“A Piece of the Action”). A decade before that, I
Love Lucy had a “Lucy and Superman” “Lucy
and Superman” episode.
Flavorwire (“10 Great TV Crossover Episodes”) I just learned
the St, Elsewhere cross-overs included a visit to Cheers
(“…Turns out that Norm is Dr. Auschlander’s former accountant and Carla
gave birth to her last child in the St. Elsewhere hospital…”). Homicide:
Life on the Streets crossed over with Law & Order.
DC DOES CRISES. For DC Comics, “Crises” and other events often do
“housecleaning” — condensing multiple “universes,” in
particular, multiple versions of characters. That’s what DC did in their first
Crisis, Crisis on Infinite Earths by
Marv Wolfman and George Perez, in the mid-1980’s. (I believe I still have all my
original copies of the mini-series and the tie-in issues.)
did this, too, in one of their (over)big events.) This doesn’t, IMHO, always
work well; it feels to me like we go from clear, well-delineated parallel
realities with the opportunity for world-hopping visits to one world with often-arbitrary
who’s left’s and/or multiples, e.g., ya got both Peter Parker AND Miles
Morales. (Yes, I know, that’s Marvel, not DC.)
problem is, the simplification never lasts long. But that’s another article/rant.
INFINITE CAMEOS? NOT A CRISIS. DC-on-WB began to give us an inkling/sowed the seeds early on in
this Flash series, with the Gideon computer room periodically showing
Early Edition-class “future headlines” of Flash dying in the Crisis.
then, warming my fan heart, a season or so later IIRC, an episode opening with
the simple caption, “Earth-2” (or something like that).
we’ve been teased with multi-verse cross-overs and changing Gideon headlines
and Monitor pop-up appearances for well over a year now.
per this year’s Arrowverse cross-over event is battling the Anti-Monitor
and (hopefully) preventing the collapse/death/whatever of the multiverse (the
“infinite Earths”), the really fun part is the lengths the showrunners
and network have gone to bring in/back characters from past episodes and other
shows, and the actors who have played them, or had other roles.
example, Black Lightning, whose eponymous WB series was not necessarily part of
“the Arrowverse” (although, given we’ve got a multiverse, that’s
easily finessed, I assume).
as with last year’s intro of Batwoman, we are getting an, ahem, harbinger of
upcoming shows, with Stargirl. (Harbinger is an established Crisis character,
hence my “ahem.”)
notably, Kevin Conroy, best known as the voice of Batman in the animated Batman
Beyond (and other animated shows), showing up as Bruce Wayne. Lots of people
are excited about this.
Routh will have two roles: as Legend’s Ray Palmer/The Atom, and also as
(one of the) Clark Kent/Superman’s (men).
other CK/S is being played by one of the Smallville alums: Tom Welling.
Burt Ward, who played Robin to Adam West’s Batman, playing… “Burt Ward
MY CROSS-OVER/CAMEO SUGGESTIONS AND HOPES THAT I DOUBT WILL BE
already an impressive list and effort.
y’know, particularly given the multiverse aspects of this event, why stop
there? Here’s my suggestions, which, granted, it’s likely too late to be done,
for a few more, perhaps done as a quick-cut montage or two (using the same
logic that let the pirates in the Pirates of Penzance movie overflow
into a production of HMS Pinafore):
Batman Legoverse. I consider the Batman LEGO movie the best Batman movie
to date, and tied with Into the Spider-Verse for best superhero/comic
Not provably connected to the DC multiverse, but it’s on the same TV network,
which should be equivalent in terms of connectivity.
Penn & Teller’s Fool Us: Masters of Illusion. The first because it
would be great to see P&T do some super magic, the second because it’s
hosted by Dean Cain (who was Superman in The Adventures of Lois and Clark,
and Supergirl’s dad in the current Supergirl show).
o Burden of Truth. Since the protagonist is played by Kristen Kreuk, who was Lana Lang on Smallville.
o Nancy Drew (for detecting) and Katy Keene (can work with Black Lightning’s spy/tailor/costumer Gambi)
o And if they could shim in from DC’s own streamingverse, the Titans (Dick Grayson/Robin/Nightwing, Donna Troy/Wonder Girl, Garth/Aqualad, Gar Logan/Beast Boy, Kory/Starfire, Hawk’n’Dove, Jason Todd/Robin, Conner/Superboy, Rachel/Raven, Rose & Jericho, Krypto), and The Doom Patrol.
o Lorelei and Rory Gilmore
o The Buffy and Scooby-Doo gangs.
o And oh yeah, that’s right — the good guys from Gotham.
TO KNOW MORE BEFORE (OR AFTER) THE FUN STARTS? There is, unsurprisingly, no
shortage of (other) articles and videos for this fast-approaching TV cross-over
event, ranging from “helpful stuff to know from comics history and these
shows” to character and plot analyses of the trailers and other publicity.
Here’s a few:
(1) NAVIGATING THE MAZES. Clarkesworld’s Arley Sorg interviews Juliette Wade — “Caste in Blood”.
The Mazes of Power copy calls it “sociological science fiction.” What does this mean exactly, and how does this term apply to Mazes? What are a few of your favorite sociological science fiction novels and how are they similar or different from Mazes?
Sociological science fiction, sometimes also called social science fiction, is science fiction that sets its major focus on society and its impact rather than on other elements like gadgets, technologies, or frontiers. This is not to say that those other things are not involved! The term definitely applies to Mazes of Power, which features a complex caste system with seven different levels, each of which has its own vocation, ideals, manners, and culture. Members of the castes struggle to cope with the expectations of their caste identities just as people in our world struggle with the identities that are placed on them. My favorite past work of sociological science fiction is Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, which was one of the works that inspired me to explore characters’ culturally grounded judgments and flout readers’ underlying expectations. (The other major work that had the same effect was not science fiction, but the diary of Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book.) I also consider Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch series an example of sociological science fiction, though it’s more typically categorized as space opera. I love how Leckie keeps her focus tight and examines characters’ social and cultural expectations even as she works with the larger politics of the Radchaai Empire.
The spot, created by Wunderman Thompson Philippines, depicts a pair of kids working on a mysterious building project. We see them going around town collecting items such as a tire, cardboard, plastic toys and tinsel, as well as a whole bunch of mobile phones, but it isn’t clear exactly what they are doing. (One thing is for sure — these kids are more creative and enterprising than the pair in the Apple holiday ad and their parents, rather than trying to keep them quiet with an iPad, are quite happy for them to wander on railway lines by themselves.)
Finally, they invite a friend into their home to watch “Star Wars” in the special 4D viewing experience they’ve rigged up — and there’s an even more heartwarming twist that we definitely weren’t expecting. The final reveal is that the friend is actually deaf and they’ve created the whole thing just for her to be able to experience the movie without sound.
…Overall, the figures show a troubling picture that squares with reports I’m hearing from a number of other convention dealers. Some of the decline in sales and profitability can be ascribed to a saturation of the convention market as more and more promoters, especially for-profit companies who have the financial reach to rent large venues and sign large numbers of high-ticket media guests, move into the business. Whereas a decade ago there might be only one or two conventions each year in a region, now there are often a dozen or more. Furthermore, very few of these conventions are old-school fan-run science fiction conventions where the membership can hang out with the guests of honor at the con suite. Instead, more and more of them are focused primarily on media celebrities and formal encounters with them, to the point that attendees (a significant difference in terminology) spend as much or more time and money on getting autographs and photo-ops with the celebrities as they do on buying things from the dealers and artists in the vendor hall.
Because these extremely celebrity-focused shows (often referred to as “autograph mills”) draw such large crowds, they can sound like great possibilities to a dealer accustomed to lower-key shows. However, they often prove to be a double whammy to the unsuspecting dealer’s bottom line: not only are the large crowds not spending on the dealers’ wares, but the large crowds are also used to justify much higher booth costs to vendors, leaving the vendor with a much higher break-even point….
(4) GOING TO THE
WELLS AGAIN. Steve J. Wright reviews The
War of the Worlds, the three-part TV adaptation recently shown on the BBC
in “Martians Go
…Harness takes that time to create and expand on the characters, who are mostly just names in the novel – in fact, the narrator and his wife aren’t even named. The domestic situation of George (Rafe Spall) and Amy (Eleanor Tomlinson) is drawn from H.G. Wells’s own turbulent personal life; the adaptation also codes astronomer Ogilvy (barely more than a name in the book) as gay, which attracted some criticism from the usual suspects…. One twerp apparently complained that the story was being made “too political”, which, since the book was written as a massive up-yours to colonial imperialism by one of the twentieth century’s foremost socialist pundits, makes me wonder what he was expecting. (Again, because contemporary Victorian-Edwardian political references aren’t necessarily accessible to the modern audience, the adaptation takes the time to make the anti-colonial message explicit.)
(5) MCU LIVES ON. Marvel dropped the Black Widow teaser
…The character first appeared in 2010’s Iron Man 2, and has since then been a significant figure in the Marvel cinematic universe.
The new film, starring Scarlett Johansson, isn’t an origin story, but it does come before the events of the last two Avengers movies, Infinity War and Endgame.
It may not be out until May, but while we wait here’s seven talking points from Tuesday’s new trailer.
1) Just like Budapest!
The opening shot of the Hungarian capital Budapest teases that we’ll finally uncover more about an event briefly mentioned in the first Avengers movie back in 2012.
In that film, during the intensity of the battle of New York, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow – firing off gun shots – casually says to Hawkeye: “Just like Budapest, all over again.”
Hawkeye responds: “You and I remember Budapest very differently!”
It’s a reference that has intrigued and excited fans ever since. But there is a complicating factor. This movie is set after, not before The Avengers. It actually follows the events of Captain America: Civil War. So is Budapest here a flashback, or is Black Widow revisiting it after traumatic events in the past?
LANGUAGE. Juliette Wade’s Dive into Worldbuilding recently featured “S.
Qiouyi Lu and As Dark as Hunger”. View the video or read the synopsis –
or both! Toward the end they also discuss whether there should be a Hugo award
… In “As Dark as Hunger,” the main character lives a simple humble life fishing, but then her former lover comes to the village. Her lover wants to hunt mermaids, because people pay handsomely for them, but to find a humane way of doing it that won’t kill them. S. told us that part of this conflict came from the conflicted feelings they have about shark fin soup. It’s a celebratory dish, but cruel because it kills sharks.
S. told us that they struggle with xenophobia in the US, where there is an anti-China climate. They want to be able to defend their personhood without feeling obligated to defend Chinese politics they don’t approve of.
In the story, there is a contrast between the village and the city. The village is downstream from the city, which pollutes its water. Talented people seek opportunity in the city, and children and the elderly are left behind. The city drains away the village’s people. The main character has an ethical objection to hunting mermaids, but she does want a better life than the stinking river.
One of the major themes of the story is diaspora, of being removed from the motherland. While, in this story world, foxes can shapeshift back and forth many times, mermaids can only shapeshift from tail to legs once, and then can’t change back. Their children are human. This is a metaphor for immigration and assimilation. One of the main character’s ancestors made this change in order to keep her descendants from being hunted, but in so doing, closed a door that could not be re-opened.
(7) TODAY IN
December 3, 2000 — Frank Herbert’s Dune three-part series premiered on the SciFi Channel. Directed by John Harrison, its cast starred Alec Newman as Paul Atreides, William Hurt as Duke Leto, and Saskia Reeves as Jessica. The first Dune miniseries and this sequel are two of the three highest-rated programs ever to be broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel. Weirdly, it has no viewer rating at Rotten Tomatoes, but has a very healthy 71% rating among critics there.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 3, 1918 — Polly Freas. Fan and wife of SFF artist Frank Kelly Freas with whom she had 3 children. She was much loved in fandom. She and Kelly co-edited Wonderworks: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Michael Whalen, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Nonfiction Book. She was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was given a Special Award by Southern Fandom. (Died 1987.)
Born December 3, 1922 — Donald Tuck. Australian fan and writer of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968 which he revised twice. SFE in the form of a lure says “among the most extensive produced since the pioneering work of Everett F. Bleiler.” It earned him A Special Hugo at Chicon III. Back in time, he found other fans in Hobart where he lived and they produced the first Tasmanian fanzine, Profan which had just three issues between April and September 1941. Bertram Chandler who visited the couple frequently honored Hobart by naming one of the spaceship bases in his novels after it. (Died 2010.)
Born December 3, 1937 — Morgan Llewelyn, 82. Ok, so what have I read by her… The Horse Goddess is wonderful as is Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas and Lion of Ireland which I read a long time ago because the now closed Brian Born Pub had just opened here and I was interested in his story. I later booked uilleann piper Paddy Keenan there…
Born December 3, 1948 — Ozzy Osbourne, 71. Yes, he has a history in SFF films — most of it is in voicing characters though he did show up as himself in the recent Ghostbusters film. His first appearance in our genre was as himself (“Famous Rock Star“) along with Simmons in Trick or Treat (also known as Ragman and Death at 33 RPM. He’s the voice of The Vicar in Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters Of The Herd Kind, and Fawn in Gnomeo & Juliet and Sherlock Gnomes.
Born December 3, 1958 — Terri Windling, 61. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year, she has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Bram Stoker Award, and The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood. She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Manhere.
Born December 3, 1960 — Daryl Hannah, 59. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear which by being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits where she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she that bad in it? Last latest genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing.
Born December 3, 1968 — Brendan Fraser, 51. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark Town, Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Journey to the Center of the Earth, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Doom Patrolseries that that airs on DC Universe.
Born December 3, 1969 — John Kenneth Muir, 50. I really adore niche non-fiction writers with genre focus. He did write a novel, Space: 1999: The Forsaken, but horror is his passion as he’s written Horror Films of the 1970s, Horror Films of the 1980s and Horror Films of the 1990s, all on Macfarland. He’s also authored A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television which covers the classic Who and yet more horror in Horror Films of the 1990s.
Born December 3, 1980 — Jenna Lee Dewan, 39. She portrayed Freya Beauchamp on the Witches of East End and played Lucy Lane in The CW version of Supergirl. She’s Tamara, complete with bloody axe, in the horror film Tamara. She’s Sophia Loomis in the unsold Dark Shadows pilot. It was commissioned by The WB and produced in 2004, but not picked up for a series. You can see that pilot here.
Born December 3, 1985 — Amanda Seyfried, 34. She plays Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds here playing Anita “Needy” Lesnicki. Red Riding Hood, yes, another horror film, had her cast has as Valerie. She plays Sylvia Weis in In Time in a dystopian SF film next and voices Mary Katherine, Professor Bomba’s 17-year-old daughter in Epic which is at genre adjacent. She’s living Mary in an animated Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan which sounds delightful. Lastly, she has a recurring role as Becky Burnett on Twin Peaks. And did we decide Veronica Mars was at least genre adjacent? If so, she has a recurring role as Mary on it.
(10) MORE BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. NPR’s Book Concierge filters the year’s titles into many categories, such as the Best Geek Books of the Year and Best Genre Books of the Year. Chip Hitchcock tried out the links and forwarded them with a note on his experience: “Thanks to recommendations from Filers and others, I’ve read 13/63 of the genre books, including 1 I’d disrecommend and 2 I’d recommend only with serious caveats. I’ve read only 1 of the 15 geek books not on the genre list — I know I should read more nonfiction….”
(11) CHINESE SF. Alexandra Alter tells New York Times
Magazine readers “Why
Is Chinese Sci-Fi Everywhere Now? Ken Liu Knows”. The profile extensively
covers Liu’s work as a translator and curator as well as his own fiction, and repeatedly
probes the constraints on Chinese sff at home.
…“The political climate inside China has shifted drastically from when I first started doing this,” Liu says. “It’s gotten much harder for me to talk about the work of Chinese authors without putting them in an awkward position or causing them trouble.” Liu usually travels to China at least once a year to network and meet new writers, and has attended the Chinese Nebula and Galaxy Awards, the country’s most well known science-fiction prizes. But this year he was denied a long-term visa, without explanation, prompting him to cancel his planned trip.
In another alarming setback, when his American publisher tried to send copies of his recent translations to writers in China, the shipments failed to arrive. It was unclear whether the books were seized or simply disappeared into a bureaucratic black hole. Liu finally managed to get copies distributed through visiting Chinese friends, each of whom carried a few copies back in their suitcases. In April, when I met Liu at the Museum of Chinese in America, he seemed irritated by the cumbersome workaround, which he called “preposterous.”
But later, when I asked if he felt he was being blacklisted by the Chinese government because of his translation work, Liu deflected and declined to speculate. “I don’t want to magnify the problem,” Liu told me, as we sat in a cafe a few blocks from the museum. “If the authors want to say something daring, then I will honor that, but I’m not going to impose my own politics on them. There’s a lot of room to say what you want to say if you leave things ambiguous.”
(12) HELP THE PKD AWARD.
Gordon Van Gelder says to raise money for the award there is an annual Philip K. Dick Award auction at World Fantasy Convention. This
year, they had too many books to put all of them up for bids at the con,
so the’re holding a score of auctions on eBay. Many signed books.
(13) UNKISSED TOADS ASSEMBLE. Amanda S. Green, who also writes under the name Sam Schall, says her friend Sarah A. Hoyt used her larger platform to recommend one of Schall’s works – an imprimatur which still didn’t deter some negative comments left by people who hadn’t even read the book: “A Cyber-Monday Promo and a Few Thoughts”.
…No matter how hard you try to write the best book possible, find the best cover you can and present your work in the best shape, someone is always going to hate. I learned long ago from a dear friend the dangers of reading reviews on Amazon, etc. All too often the person writing it never read the book or only read far enough to be offended. I was reminded of that this morning.
That same friend shared a link to the book. I made the mistake of checking the comments. Let’s say my first response was to beat my head against the desk. One person said not to read it because it was a book about a woman written by a male. Yep. I suddenly have a penis. You see, this person never bothered to look beyond the cover. They didn’t follow the link to Amazon and see not only the pen name listed but my real name as well. But, because they read the blurb on the page where the link was listed and saw “Sam Schall”, they just knew it had to be bad — and probably written by a white male deep into the patriarchy (okay, they didn’t quite say that last part but it was pretty clear).
Others hated the cover. That’s fine. That’s their right. The thing is, it does cue the genre and that is the important thing.
Then there was the one (or maybe two) who had a few words to say about how it is basically stupid to think there will be women in the military in fighting roles. Yep, they went there.
And here’s the thing. Each and every one of them were condemning the book without reading it. They were making judgments based solely on what they saw in the blurb and on the cover. Again, that’s their right. But it is also my right to point and laugh (or beat my head against the table).
…Lisa Yaszek, a professor of science fiction studies at Georgia Tech, describes the feminist appeal of science fiction like this: “We can imagine spaces that radically break from our own world and from what we know or at least believe to be scientifically or socially true about sex and gender.”
The conversation around science fiction and gender recently broke out on the national stage, when Esquire published an interview with 82-year-old Billy Dee Williams, who’s best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980). He’ll be reprising the role for the first time since 1983 in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which comes out Dec. 20.
In his Esquire interview, Williams said he uses both “him” and “her” pronouns. “I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine,” he said. “I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”
The moment was seized on by fans, with many applauding Williams’s “gender fluid” approach. But the discussion of gender in the context of “Star Wars” isn’t new; last year, Donald Glover, who played the same character in 2018’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” said he had a non-binary approach to his Lando, too.
Nasa says one of its satellites has found the debris of India’s Moon rover which crashed on the lunar surface in September.
The space agency released a picture showing the site of the rover’s impact and the “associated debris field”.
Nasa has credited an Indian engineer, Shanmuga Subramanian, with helping locate the site of the debris.
Mr Subramanian examined a Nasa picture and located the first debris about 750m north-west of the crash site.
…”We had the images from Nasa [of] the lander’s last location. We knew approximately where it crashed. So I searched pixel-by-pixel around that impact area,” the 33-year-old Chennai-based engineer told BBC Tamil.
Mr Subramanian said he had always “been interested in space” and had watched the July launch of the rocket.
Call it a tale of science and derring-do. An international team of researchers has spent six years fanning across the globe, gathering thousands of samples of wild relatives of crops. Their goal: to preserve genetic diversity that could help key crops survive in the face of climate change. At times, the work put these scientists in some pretty extreme situations.
Just ask Hannes Dempewolf. Two years ago, the plant geneticist found himself in a rainforest in Nepal, at the foot of the Himalayas. He was riding on the back of an elephant to avoid snakes on the ground — and to scare away any tigers that might be lurking about. Then all of a sudden came an attack from above.
“There were leeches dropping on us from all directions,” Dempewolf recalls — “bloodsucking leeches.”
Now, this is far from where he thought he’d be when he got his Ph.D. But as a senior scientist and head of global initiatives at the Crop Trust, Dempewolf has been overseeing an ambitious international collaboration. More than 100 scientists in 25 countries have been venturing out to collect wild relatives of domesticated crops — like lentils, potatoes, chickpeas and rice — that people rely on around the world. The Crop Trust has just released a report detailing the results of this massive effort, which secured more than 4,600 seed samples of 371 wild relatives of key domesticated crops that the world relies on.
Video-sharing app TikTok has been hit with a class action lawsuit in the US that claims it transferred “vast quantities” of user data to China.
The lawsuit accuses the company of “surreptitiously” taking content without user consent.
Owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, TikTok has built up a keen US fan base.
TikTok, which is thought to have about half a billion active users worldwide, has previously said it does not store US data on Chinese servers.
However, the platform is facing mounting pressure in North America over data collection and censorship concerns.
(18) TUNING IN. DJ Baby Yoda?
[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster,
John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Steve Davidson, Contrarius, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Vicki Rosenzweig.]
French publisher ActuSF gives the award in three categories:
The Literary Prize, rewarding
essays and novels.
The Prix Graphisme, rewarding
comics, covers and other pictorial initiatives.
The Special Prize, rewarding an
original uchronic work, be it a game, an exhibition, etc.
Frankenstein 1918 de Johan Heliot,
Le Dernier Atlas T1/3 de Fred Blanchard
(dessin), Gwen De Bonneval (scénario), Hervé Tanquerelle (dessin) et Fabien
Vehlmann (scénario), Dupuis
Effluvium de Didier Graffet et
Xavier Mauméjean, Bragelonne
It is an award for work in a specialized segment of sff field,
described in the Wikipedia:
Uchronia refers to a hypothetical or fictional time-period of our world, in contrast to altogether fictional lands or worlds. A concept similar to alternate history but different in the manner that uchronic times are not easily defined.
Middle-Earth and the Hyborean Age are examples of uchronic
The 2019 jury was composed of Étienne Barillier, Bertrand
Campeis, Karine Gobled, Hermine Hémon, Jean Rebillat and Jean-Luc Rivera.
Famed Star Trek writer D.C. Fontana has died at the age of
80. The American Film Institute announced today the
news of Fontana’s passing.
She gained fame for her work on the original Star Trek series and the 1970s animated series, which she also associate produced. In later years she wrote Trek-themed games and comics.
According to IMDB, she was advised by Gene Roddenberry to use her initials (D.C.) on her initial scripts for the original Star Trek series because at the time, networks were often biased against female writers. That may have been sound advice, although in her first several TV writing credits for The Tall Man series in 1960 she was identified by her full name, as “Dorothy C. Fontana.”
On Star Trek, she received credits in 11 episodes — her Wikipedia bio has a discussion of her specific contributions to various episodes, and how in some cases credit was apportioned by the Writers Guild of America. A few of her works on Star Trek were credited to the pseudonym Michael Richards.
Fontana and Gene Roddenberry
shared writing credit on “Encounter at Farpoint,” the premiere episode of Star
Trek: The Next Generation.
She later contributed to several Star Trek spin-off series and quite a few
other genre TV shows, among them The Fantastic Journey, Logan’s Run, The Six Million
Dollar Man, Buck Rogers in the 25th
Throughout her career she also wrote episodes of non-sff
shows like Ben Casey, Bonanza, The Streets of San Francisco, Kung Fu, The
Waltons, and Dallas, In 1969 she was
nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for an episode of Then Came Bronson entitled “Two Percent of Nothing”.
Dorothy Catherine Fontana was
born in Sussex, New Jersey in 1939. She was most recently employed as a senior
lecturer at the American Film Institute.
Fontana is survived by her husband, Oscar-winning visual effects cinematographer, Dennis Skotak. Both of them have generously shared their experience on many convention panels in Los Angeles over the years.
Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest
Bradford, administrators of Writing the Other online classes, have announced
that their scholarship program, initiated in 2016, is being retitled the Vonda N. McIntyre
Sentient Squid Scholarship. The name change, in honor of the award-winning
and beloved science fiction and fantasy novelist who passed away in April 2019,
comes about not only because Vonda was a friend and mentor to both Shawl and
Bradford, but also because without her there would be no scholarship fund.
2016 Vonda offered to pay for a registration in an upcoming Writing the Other
class so writers who couldn’t afford to take it could benefit. When announced,
her donation–which she insisted should be anonymous to the public–inspired
others to donate as well, covering all or part of the enrollment fees for two
additional students. Enough donations came in afterwards that Writing the Other
was able to establish a small scholarship fund. Though Vonda didn’t want public
credit, Nisi suggested naming the scholarship “Sentient Squid” in
secret honor of a character in her Starfarer book series, the
anonymously was very Vonda-like,” Nisi Shawl said. “I’ve called her a
‘behind-the-scenes powerhouse’ because those who knew her mainly as the author
of five Star Trek novels aren’t automatically aware that she founded the
Clarion West Writers Workshop as well as Book View Café. She was generous with
her funds and donated money in support of many feminist and other
social-justice causes: the James Tiptree Jr. literary awards; the Octavia E.
Butler Scholarship Fund; the ACLU; Planned Parenthood.”
she offered to pay for a registration in our classes, she did so
unprompted,” K. Tempest Bradford said. “She was part of a
conversation on Facebook where I talked about balancing the affordability of
our classes with our need to make a living. I had never considered asking
others to help out with this, and then Vonda just did it. In doing so she
opened up the possibility to me that other people would be willing to
contribute as well.”
the years Vonda gave to the scholarship fund on multiple occasions, always
without wanting credit, and promoted the program whenever there was a
fundraising drive. Because of her support and example, Writing the Other has
been able to offer scholarship spots in every course and make classes more
financially accessible. To date, the Sentient Squid Scholarship has provided
over $15,000 in financial aid to a wide range of deserving applicants.
Approximately 20% of alumni have benefited directly from scholarship funds.
Because of how vital she was to making all this happen, Shawl and Bradford
decided that renaming the scholarship was one of the best ways they could honor
the Vonda N. McIntyre Sentient Squid Scholarship provides both full and partial
scholarships for students in all Writing the Other online courses, including
Core Classes, Master Classes, and Workshops. For 2020 offerings, Shawl and
Bradford hope to reach $10,000 in direct donations or $1,200 a month in support
via Patreon so that they can set aside at least a quarter of spots in their
classes for writers who need financial aid. Donors can visit http://writingtheother.com/donate-scholarship/
to contribute, learn more, or to contact Writing the Other for more
Receiving the Sentient Squid Scholarship both instilled further confidence in me as a writer and enabled me to grow in ways I wouldn’t have been able to without taking the Description Deep Dive class. Receiving the scholarship has had long-term effects on my writing that I wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.
James Henry Feeman
The Sentient Squid scholarship allowed me to take my first ever writing workshop. I’m an older working mom who’s managing various health challenges–both my own & my kids. Until I won this scholarship, I thought writing workshops were just a dream for me. A “one day” thing. Now I’m aware of accessible options available.
As a financially struggling trans man, I don’t have the means to attend classes for professional development, despite how much I want to and how much I know it would improve my work. I was lucky enough to receive a Sentient Squid Scholarship which removed that financial burden. The course changed the way I look at world building and the scholarship gave me the space I needed to expand my knowledge and grow as a writer.
The Sentient Squid Scholarship was a unique opportunity for me, and I’m thankful for it. I’m from Brazil, and we don’t have many creative writing classes here and classes about “writing the other” are nonexistent. It gave me the chance to learn how to write better and to rethink the way I write, while it also taught me how to tell my own experience better.
Writing the Other: Writing
the Other offers online and in-person classes that draw on the work of Nisi
Shawl and Cynthia Ward, authors of the acclaimed reference Writing the
Other: A Practical Approach. Through live courses and on-demand webinars,
Shawl and co-administrator author K. Tempest Bradford, along with a deep bench
of guest instructors, hope to help writers and creators from all backgrounds
develop the skill and sensitivity to portray difference in fiction, games, and
other media as well as allay anxieties about getting it wrong.
impetus for the original book came during Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward’s
attendance at the 1992 Clarion West writing workshop, when one of their
classmates announced that it is a mistake to write about people of backgrounds
different from your own because you might get it wrong, and so it is better to
not even try. This opinion, commonplace among published as well as aspiring
writers, struck Nisi as taking the easy way out and spurred her to write an
essay addressing the problem of how to write about characters marked by racial
and ethnic differences. She then collaborated with Ward to develop a workshop
to address these problems, which became the basis for the book.