(1) CHESLEY AWARD. Neil Clarke shows off this year’s beautiful trophy.
(2) HELP NEEDED TO FIND TEXT OF A BOB SHAW SPEECH. Rob Jackson and Dave Langford are planning an ebook of Bob Shaw’s legendary Serious Scientific Talks, to be added to the free library at the TAFF site (taff.org.uk). They have traced thirteen of these convention speeches — three never before collected — but not the final one. This was delivered at Confabulation, the 1995 UK Eastercon, and (perhaps with revisions) at the first Glasgow Worldcon later that year. Rather than the usual knockabout punning, Bob reminisced movingly about his 50 years in fandom. Can any Filer help with a copy, transcription or recording of this talk to complete the set?
Here is the planned cover, with artwork by Jim Barker from the five-speech collection The Eastercon Speeches (1979) edited by Rob Jackson.
(3) MODERATING CON PANELS. Matt Moore’s post from a few years ago surfaced again because it has so many useful things to say: “How to Be a Good Moderator for Panel Discussions at Conventions”.
Understanding your role as moderator
The moderator is there to make sure there actually is a discussion, and that it runs smoothly. Panelists should have a lot to say, but you need to guide the conversation. This means:
- Everyone gets a chance to speak
- Only one person speaks at a time
- People can disagree and be passionate in their views, but it must be done respectfully
- You stay on topic
(4) TALKIN’ ABOUT THE 451 WAYS. Alex Jay talks about drafting graphics for a long-ago video game in “Lettering: Fahrenheit 451” at Tenth Letter of the Alphabet.
In 1984 Byron Preiss Visual Publications produced a video game adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for Trillium. The book was published by Ballantine Books on October 19, 1953.
Byron Preiss gave an Atari console to me to create the graphics. I don’t recall the model number. Below are my ideas for the title sequence. Preiss wanted to use a salamander in the sequence.
(5) THE CRAFT IN LOVECRAFT. Learn how unexpectedly picky HPL was about space opera in “The Cthulhu Mythos and Space Opera by Bobby Derie” at the On An Underwood No. 5 blog.
…A keen amateur astronomer, Lovecraft largely eschewed the dynamics that made space opera feasible. In his 1935 essay “Some Notes on Interplanetary Fiction” he railed:
“A good interplanetary story must have realistic human characters; not the stock scientists, villainous assistants, invincible heroes, and lovely scientist’s-daughter heroines of the usual trash of this sort. Indeed, there is no reason why there should be any “villain”, “hero”, or “heroine” at all. These artificial character-types belong wholly to artificial plot-forms, and have no place in serious fiction of any kind…”
(6) FELINE PERFECTION. BBC reports: “Catwoman: Zoe Kravitz follows Hathaway and Berry in The Batman role”.
Comic book fans will be purring with delight at the mews that Zoe Kravitz will play Catwoman opposite Robert Pattinson in the next Batman film.
Kravitz as good as confirmed her casting when she responded to an Instagram post by Aquaman star Jason Momoa in which he said he was “freaking stoked” by her latest role.
“Love that Aquaman and Catwoman spend the holidays together from now on,” wrote the 30-year-old, best known for her appearances in Big Little Lies and the Fantastic Beasts films.
Kravitz, daughter of rock star Lenny and actress Lisa Bonet, previously provided Catwoman’s voice in 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie.
The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Pattinson as a young Bruce Wayne, will be released in the UK in June 2021.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- October 16, 2001 — WB first aired Smallville which would run for ten seasons. Starring Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk and Annette O’Toole, it ran five years on the WB and the last five on the CW. The series lives on in comics and novels.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 16, 1924 — David Armstrong. He never had a major role in any genre show but he was in myriad ones. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. alone he appeared in twenty-two episodes in twenty-two different minor roles, he was a henchmen twice on Batman and had two uncredited appearances on Trek as well. He showed up on Mission Impossible, Get Smart!, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and even The Invaders. (Died 2016.)
- Born October 16, 1925 — Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury, 94. She first shows up in a genre work as Sibyl Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray. A few years later, she’s Queen Anne of France in The Three Musketeers. Somewhat later, she’s Miss Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She voices Mommy Fortuna in The Last Unicorn, and is Granny in A Company of Wolves. And yes, she’s in Mary Poppins Returns as The Balloon Lady.
- Born October 16, 1947 — Guy Siner, 72. He’s one of only ten actors to appear in both the Trek and Who franchises. He appeared in the “Genesis of the Daleks”, a Fourth Doctor story, and on Enterprise in the “Silent Enemy” episode. Interestingly, he shows up on Babylon 5 as well in “Rumors, Bargains and Lies”.
- Born October 16, 1952 — Ron Taylor. He got his break with the 1982 off-Broadway production Little Shop of Horrors as he voiced Audrey II in the show which ran for five years and over 2,000 performances. He didn’t do a lot of genre, showing up only on Ice Pirates, Quantum Leap, Twin Peaks and Deep Space Nine, plus voice work on Batman Beyond. (Died 2002.)
- Born October 16, 1958 — Tim Robbins, 61. His first genre role was Phil Blumburtt in Howard the Duck. He played Erik in Erik the Viking, and is in The Shawshank Redemption as Andy Dufresne. He’s Woodrow “Woody” Blake in Mission to Mars. He was Harlan Ogilvy in the truly awful War of the Worlds followed by being Senator Robert Hammond in the even worse Green Lantern.
- ?Born October 16, 1965 — Joseph Mallozzi, 54. He is most noted for work on the Stargate series. He joined the Stargate production team at the start of Stargate SG-1’s fourth season in 2000. He was a writer and executive producer for all three series. He also co-created the Dark Matter comic book series with Paul Mullie that became a Syfy series.
- Born October 16, 1973 — Eva Röse, 46. Most likely best-known for her role as the android Niska in Season 1 of the Swedish Real Humans upon which AMC’s Humans was based. She also was one of the voice cast for the animated Creepschool series, and was Jasmie on The Befallen, a supernatural series that lasted one season there.
(9) INSERT LIGHTSABER SOUND HERE. Major League Baseball’s Cut4 blog declares “The best possible way to interrupt a live interview is with a lightsaber”.
The Nationals finished off an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals on Tuesday and are headed to their first-ever World Series. Champagne was flowing, players were dancing, Max Scherzer was being Max Scherzer and a couple MLB Network analysts were still on the field — trying to wrap their heads around what had just happened. And then, well …
(10) IF YOU WERE A DESKTOP DINOSAUR, MY LOVE. Gizmodo teases, “Lego’s New Dinosaur Fossils Turn Your Desk Into a Miniature Natural History Museum”. Photos at the link.
You can claim to be interested in historical artifacts like pottery, suits of armor, and maybe even a mummy, but the most compelling reason to visit a museum, even as an adult, are the dinosaur fossils. If your hometown happens to be lacking in museums, however, Lego’s new Dinosaur Fossils set puts a small collection of thunder lizard skeletons on your desk, no admission required.
(11) SMILE AND THE WORLD SMILES WITH YOU. Delish claims “People Are Loving The Joker Frappuccino Even More Than The Movie That Inspired It”.
…First, you’ll have to ask for the barista to draw the smile on the side of the cup in strawberry syrup. Next, they’ll blend a Matcha Green Tea Creme Frappuccino. Then, Pyper suggests you ask for matcha powder to be mixed into the whipped creme but you honestly could probably just get it on top. That’s finished off with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and there you have it.
(12) BOMBS AWAY. The Mirror (UK) names the “Biggest box-office flops of the 21st century”. There are three genre films atop the list. One of them is —
4. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
Starring Eddie Murphy in a dual role, the critically panned sci-fi comedy managed to earn a Razzie nomination for worst film, worst actor, worst director, worst screenplay and worst on-screen couple (both for Eddie Murphy and a cloned version of himself).
It managed to make just £5.73 million on a budget of £81.83 million.
(13) MOBILE SUIT xEMU. “For NASA’s New Suits, ‘Mobility’ Is The Watchword” – NPR has the story. (The BBC has more pictures here.)
NASA has unveiled prototypes of its next generation space suits to be worn inside the Orion spacecraft and on the surface of the moon when American astronauts return there as soon as 2024.
At the space agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., two NASA engineers modeled the new suits destined for the Artemis program, one known as the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), designed for walking around the lunar surface, and the other, the Orion Crew Survival System, a bright orange pressure suit to be worn when astronauts launch from Earth and return.
The design criteria? After keeping the crew safe, including America’s first woman moon walker, it’s all about mobility.
To that end, the suited models demonstrated bending, squatting and walking around in the bulky garments.
“This is the first suit we’ve designed in about 40 years,” Chris Hansen, a manager at NASA’s spacesuit design office, said. “We want systems that allow our astronauts to be scientists on the surface of the moon.”
Amy Ross, NASA’s lead spacesuit engineer, said: “Basically, my job is to take a basketball, shape it like a human, keep them alive in a harsh environment and give them the mobility to do their job.”
(14) WHAT APRIL SHOWERS BRING. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.]“Unmanned ship to go on 400-year-old journey across the Atlantic”. This will be a real test for artificial “intelligence” — how will it aim for Virginia and wind up in Massachusetts?
A fully autonomous ship tracing the journey of the Mayflower is being built by a UK-based team, with help from tech firm IBM.
The Mayflower Autonomous Ship, or MAS, will launch from Plymouth in the UK in September 2020.
Its voyage will mark the 400th anniversary of the pilgrim ship which brought European settlers to America in 1620.
IBM is providing artificial intelligence systems for the ship.
The vessel will make its own decisions on its course and collision avoidance, and will even make expensive satellite phone calls back to base if it deems it necessary.
(15) CUBE ROUTER. Working one-handed and with obstacles, “Robot hand solves Rubik’s cube, but not the grand challenge”. Includes video.
A remarkable robot, capable of solving a Rubik’s cube single-handedly, has demonstrated just how far robotics has advanced – but at the same time, experts say, how far we still have to go.
OpenAI’s system used a computer simulation to teach the robot hand to solve the cube, running through routines that would take a single human some 10,000 years to complete.
Once taught, the robot was able to solve a cube that had been slightly modified to help the machine tell which way up it was being held.
Completion time varied, the research team said, but it generally took around four minutes to complete the task.
Using machine-learning and robotics to solve a Rubik’s cube has been achieved before. Notably, in March 2018, a machine developed by engineers at MIT managed to solve a cube in just 0.38 seconds.
What’s significant with OpenAI’s effort is the use of a multi-purpose robot, in this case a human-hand-like design, rather than a machine specifically designed to handle a Rubik’s cube and nothing else.
(16) TERMINAL MAN. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] “And ‘Lo!’ – How the internet was born”. The writer underestimates undergraduate students…
In the 1960s, Bob Taylor worked at the heart of the Pentagon in Washington DC. He was on the third floor, near the US defence secretary and the boss of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa).
…Next to his office was the terminal room, a pokey little space where three remote-access terminals with three different keyboards sat side by side.
Each allowed Taylor to issue commands to a far-away mainframe computer.
…Each of these massive computers required a different login procedure and programming language.
It was, as the historians Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon put it, like “having a den cluttered with several television sets, each dedicated to a different channel”.
…The solution was proposed by another computing pioneer, physicist Wesley Clark.
Clark suggested installing a minicomputer at every site on this new network.
The local mainframe – the hulking Q-32, for example – would talk to the minicomputer sitting close beside it.
…The network designers wanted message processors that would sit quietly, with minimal supervision, and just keep on working, come heat or cold, vibration or power surge, mildew, mice, or – most dangerous of all – curious graduate students with screwdrivers.
(17) DOGGIE DINER. It can’t be easy to get a real dog to forego eating a meatball. Although maybe the meatball is fake, unlike the dog? “New Trailer for Live-Action ‘Lady and the Tramp’ Teases Iconic Spaghetti Dinner Scene”. Hypebeast breaks it down.
Following the first trailer for Disney’s forthcoming live-action adaptation of the renowned pup love story, Lady and the Tramp, the second trailer for the highly-anticipated film has arrived. Pegged as the first of the entertainment conglomerate’s original movies to premiere via Disney+, the film will take on the memorable story of a cocker spaniel named Lady (voiced by Tessa Thompson) who finds love with a stray mutt named Tramp (Justin Theroux). The film will also star Janelle Monáe, Thomas Mann, Kiersey Clemons, Benedict Wong, Ashley Jensen, and Yvette Nicole Brown.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Dave Langford, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]