(1) PRIORITIZING THE CREW. Claudia Black weighs in on the death of Halyna Hutchins and set safety. Thread starts here. Some excerpts:
(2) LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Business Musings asks why publishers aren’t pivoting the way TV streamers are: “Untapped (Part One)”.
… Which is why the upfronts were so odd this year. A few networks didn’t even push their fall line-ups, which used to be essential for ad revenue. Now, these networks are pushing their platforms or even, at times, their older programming, trying to pair up the right ad with the right program in the right way so that consumers will see it all.
What I wrote in my blog was that, for publishers, IP should be the new frontlist. Rather than promoting the new books and titles at the expense of everything else, traditional publishers should be mining their backlist for items that will capture the moment.
For example, let’s take the pandemic. (Please, as the old comedians used to say.) If publishers had been smart, they could have combed their backlist for stories of survival in the middle of a plague. Or maybe a few books that would make us all feel better about the extent of the pandemic we’re currently in. With just a little time on the Google (as a friend calls it), I found a dozen lists of good plague literature. None of the lists were published in 2020, by the way.
Here’s one that has books by Octavia Butler (with a novel first published in 1984, and a paper edition of 1996 that seems to be OP), Mary Shelley (with a novel that has an in-print edition), and about eight others, some of whom have their plague/pandemic in print and some of whom do not.
The point isn’t whether or not the books are still in print—although that’s part of this argument. The point is also that the publishers themselves should be putting books like these out as part of their front list, books they’re throwing money behind so that readers know about them and buy them….
(3) BUH-BACK IN THE KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted photos from the first in-person KGB reading in 18 months at Flickr. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB even on October 20 featured readings by Daryl Gregory and Michael J. DeLuca.
(4) RIGG PROFILE. Rachael Stirling recalls her mother’s last months for The Guardian: “Diana Rigg remembered: ‘Ma didn’t suffer fools: she exploded them at 50 paces’”.
…She was always curious. Her mind was always engaged. She read prodigiously. She tested herself constantly; learning great swathes of poetry just to see if she could. She said to the Cyberknife man: “I shall be reciting Katherine’s speech at the end of Taming of the Shrew and if I get a word wrong I’ll know you’ve FUCKED it UP!” She was entirely self-educated, having been dropped off at one appalling boarding school after another….
(5) MORTON Q&A. Voyage LA Magazine caught up with past Horror Writers Association President and Halloween expert Lisa Morton for an interview: “Rising Stars: Meet Lisa Morton”.
Hi Lisa, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’m a writer, a Halloween expert, a paranormal historian, a bookseller, and a lifelong Southern Californian. My particular genre happens to be horror; I’m a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award (for both fiction and non-fiction works) and a former President of the Horror Writers Association. As a writer, I actually started in film; but after having six feature films produced – four of which I’d like to disown – I moved into prose. I’ve had more than 150 short stories and four novels published in the horror and mystery genres. Last year I had a story included in Best American Mystery Stories 2020; this year started with my story from the anthology Speculative Los Angeles receiving a Locus Recommendation….
(6) NO TUBE STEAKS ANYMORE. Mental Floss delivers an ambitious look at off-planet dining in “Gastronauts: A History of Eating in Space”.
…While today’s space meals are planned with taste, nutritional value (usually under 3000 calories, with the proper ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates), and visual appeal in mind, NASA’s earliest attempts at providing sustenance for astronauts was focused mostly on one thing: Could a human even swallow or digest food in space?
Astronaut John Glenn answered that question in 1962, when he became the first American to consume food on board the Friendship 7 spacecraft as part of the Mercury mission. “The original space food was tube foods,” Kloeris says. “These were puréed foods you’d squeeze into your mouth.” Glenn dined on applesauce, and his side dish of sugar tablets and water went down without issue (unless you consider the experience of eating from a toothpaste tube an issue). Applesauce wasn’t the only option, either; if Glenn wanted a fancier dinner, puréed beef with vegetables was available.
… With a decline in Space Shuttle missions and a shift to long-duration trips on the International Space Station (ISS) beginning in 1998, Kloeris and her team began to focus more on a menu variety that could sustain astronauts both nutritionally and psychologically. Omega 3-rich foods low in sodium help offset bone density loss common during space exploration. Food also had to be appropriate for the environment.
Most dishes were a success; some were not. “With something like soup, you had to check the viscosity to make sure it was thick enough,” Kloeris says. “It needs to stick to a utensil. If it’s too thin, it will just float.”
Kloeris and her team created freeze-dried scrambled eggs, thermostabilized seafood gumbo, and fajitas. Food was either flash-frozen or superheated to kill off any bacteria, then air-sealed in a process similar to canning. Once a recipe was proven stable after processing—and making it palatable could take numerous attempts—NASA’s kitchen would invite astronauts in for a taste test….
(7) CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS OBIT. Author Carole Nelson Douglas died earlier this month at the age of 76. She wrote sixty-three novels and many short stories in a range of genres. Her best known mystery series were the Irene Adler Sherlockian suspense novels and the Midnight Louie mystery series about “the twenty-pound black tomcat with the wit of Damon Runyon.”
After selling a paperback original novel, Amberleigh (published 1980), to Jove and an adventurous and original high fantasy, Six of Swords (1982) and its sequels to Del Rey Books, she became a fulltime fiction writer in 1984.
Her genre series included Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator, and the Sword & Circlet fantasy series.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
- 1997 – Twenty-four years ago, Fairy Tale: A True Story was released by Paramount. It was directed by Charles Sturridge and produced by Bruce Davey Wendy Finerman from a story by Albert Ash, Tom McLoughlin and Ernie Contreras. It has a stellar cast of Florence Hoath, Elizabeth Earl, Paul McGann, Phoebe Nicholls, Harvey Keitel and Peter O’Toole. So what’s it about? It is loosely based on the story of the Cottingley Fairies. Its plot takes place in the year 1917 in England, and follows two children who take a photograph soon believed to be the first scientific evidence of the existence of fairies. (Hint: it wasn’t.) Oh, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini and Peter Pan figure into the narrative. Peter Pan? Yes. It received mixed reviews from critics with many thinking it quite “twee” and others really, really liking it. Audience reviewers at Rotten currently give it a sixty-six percent rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born October 24, 1915 — Bob Kane. Editor and artist co-creator with Bill Finger of Batman. Member of both the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. Batman was nominated for a Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at ConFiction. (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade won that year.) (Died 1998.)
- Born October 24, 1952 — David Weber, 69. Best known for the Honor Harrington series, known as the Honorverse. He has three other series (Dahak, War God and Safehold), none of which I’m familiar with. The Dragon Awards have treated him well giving him three Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novels for Hell’s Foundations Quiver, A Call to Vengeance and Uncompromising Honor. His only other Award is a Hal Clement Young Adult Award for A Beautiful Friendship.
- Born October 24, 1954 — Jane Fancher, 67. In the early 80s, she was an art assistant on Elfquest, providing inking assistance on the black-and-white comics and coloring of the original graphic novel reprints. She adapted portions of C.J. Cherryh’s first Morgaine novel into a black-and-white graphic novel, which prompted her to begin writing novels herself. Her first novel, Groundties, was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, and she has been Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at several conventions. Alliance Rising, which she co-authored with C.J. Cherryh, won the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel.
- Born October 24, 1954 — Wendy Neuss, 67. Emmy-nominated Producer. As an associate producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, her responsibilities included post-production sound, including music and effects spots, scoring sessions and sound mixes, insertion of location footage, and re-recording of dialogue (which is usually done when lines are muffed or the audio recording was subpar). She was also the producer of Star Trek: Voyager. With her husband at the time, Patrick Stewart, she was executive producer of three movies in which he starred, including a version of A Christmas Carol which JJ says is absolutely fantastic, and a rather excellent The Lion in Winter too. Impressive indeed.
- Born October 24, 1955 — Jack Skillingstead, 66. Husband of Nancy Kress, he’s had three excellent novels (Harbinger, Life on the Preservation and The Chaos Function) in just a decade. I’ve not read the new one yet but I’ve no reason not to assume that it’s not as good as his first two works. He’s due for another story collections as his only one, Are You There and Other Stories, is a decade old. All of his works are available at the usual suspects for quite reasonable rates.
- Born October 24, 1971 — Sofia Samatar, 50. Teacher, Writer, and Poet who speaks several languages and started out as a language instructor, a job which took her to Egypt for nine years. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and is the author of two wonderful novels to date, both of which I highly recommend: Stranger in Olondria (which won World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards and was nominated for a Nebula) and The Winged Histories. Her short story “Selkie Stories are for Losers” was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, and BFA Awards. She has written enough short fiction in just six years that Small Beer Press put out Tender, a collection which is an amazing twenty-six stories strong. And she has a most splendid website.
- Born October 24, 1972 — Raelee Hill, 49. Sikozu Svala Shanti Sugaysi Shanu (called Sikozu) on Farscape, a great role indeed enhanced by her make-up and costume. She’s also in Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. Genre wise, she’s also been on The Lost World series, Superman Returns, BeastMaster and Event Zero.
(10) COURTING A MARVEL CELEBRITY. Aussie town creates campaign to get Chris Hemsworth to visit.
Suggested “plot twist: he sends Liam Hemsworth dressed as Loki.”
(11) ANOTHER MARVEL CELEBRITY. Got a big laugh with this at the Ringo Awards last night.
(12) TAKE A RISK. It’s been around since 2003 but it’s news to me (blush) — “Review: Lord of the Rings Risk – Trilogy Edition” at Critical Hits.
LotRR presents a number of very obvious differences from standard Risk. First of all, the theme is different. Instead of Napoleonic warfare, we have Middle Earth warfare. Naturally, the board is also different. Instead of continents from the Earth that we know, (Africa, Asia, North America, etc.) there are regions from the Middle Earth (Gondor, Mordor, Mirkwood, Rohan, etc.). The regions function the same way as continents from Risk – you control the entire region, and you get bonus troops. One of the key differences in this regard is that in LotRR, there are 9 different regions; in regular Risk there are only 6. Thus, in LotRR, it is easier to control at least one region than it is to control one continent in regular Risk.
But the map adds additional complexity by designating certain territories as fortresses, and others as ‘sites of power’ (more on ‘sites of power’ later). Fortresses aid in defense, by adding 1 to the defender’s highest die roll of each round of combat fought in the territory where it is located. Fortresses also generate 1 free unit every turn, and are worth 2 victory points at the end of the game. Because of these advantages, fortresses tend to be pretty important, and territories that have a fortress become key areas in a region….
(13) BLOCKING A THIEF. “Lego trafficking scheme of stolen sets worth thousands busted ‘brick by brick,’ Seattle police say” – MSN News has the story.
…The [Seattle] PD said they began to investigate after Amazon 4-Star, an in-person store owned by the online retail giant, reported in July they had been the target of repeated thefts.
Between July and September, one thief allegedly stole an estimated $10,000 worth of sets and electronics from the store, according to a criminal complaint.
It wasn’t until September when an employee from Amazon 4-Star entered Rummage Around, a store in downtown’s Pike Place Market, and noticed that the Lego sets for sale seemed to match the sets stolen from Amazon.
“He notified police, and a detective went to the store to investigate. While the detective was at the store, the prolific shoplifter arrived and sold multiple items to the shop’s owner,” the SPD wrote on their crime blotter….
(14) A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. “NASA Plans February Moon Launch With Giant Rocket” — the New York Times has the story.
A flight of the Space Launch System and Orion capsule without astronauts aboard is planned for early next year, a first, long-delayed step toward returning astronauts to the moon’s surface….
.. In January 2021, the rocket was finally ready for its first big test, a sustained firing of the engines that would simulate the stresses of a trip to orbit. The test was supposed to last for eight minutes, but was cut off after only about a minute.
During the second attempt in March, the rocket recorded a sustained 499.6-second burn of the giant engines that sent a giant cloud of steam over the massive test stand in Mississippi. Once the test was deemed a success, the agency shipped the massive rocket to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin preparations for flight.
This week, the Orion spacecraft was lifted atop the rocket and put into place. Together, they stand 322 feet tall, or higher than the Statue of Liberty and its base.
If an assortment of spaceflights stick to their schedules, 2022 could be one of the busiest years the moon has ever seen. In addition to Artemis-1, NASA plans to send a small satellite to orbit the moon and a pair of robotic landers carrying a variety of private cargo to the lunar surface. China, Russia, India and South Korea have all announced plans for lunar orbits or landings in 2022….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Hear Kurt Vonnegut talk to Case Western Reserve students in 2004. At around 37 minutes he draws diagrams.
Known as one of America’s literary giants, Kurt Vonnegut visited the campus in 2004 to meet with Case’s College Scholars and to give a public lecture.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]