(1) LIBRARY EBOOKS. According to WIRED: “Publishers Worry as Ebooks Fly off Libraries’ Virtual Shelves”.
BEFORE SARAH ADLER moved to Maryland last week, she used library cards from her Washington, DC, home and neighboring counties in Virginia and Maryland to read books online. The Libby app, a slick and easy-to-use service from the company OverDrive, gave her access to millions of titles. When she moved, she picked up another card, and access to another library’s e-collection, as well as a larger consortium that the library belongs to. She does almost all of her reading on her phone, through the app, catching a page or two between working on her novels and caring for her 2-year-old. With her husband also at home, she’s been reading more books, mostly historical romance and literature, during the pandemic. In 2020, she estimates, she’s read 150 books.
Adler buys books “rarely,” she says, “which I feel bad about. As someone who hopes to be published one day, I feel bad not giving money to authors.”
Borrowers like Adler are driving publishers crazy. After the pandemic closed many libraries’ physical branches this spring, checkouts of ebooks are up 52 percent from the same period last year, according to OverDrive, which partners with 50,000 libraries worldwide. Hoopla, another service that connects libraries to publishers, says 439 library systems in the US and Canada have joined since March, boosting its membership by 20 percent….
… But the surging popularity of library ebooks also has heightened longstanding tensions between publishers, who fear that digital borrowing eats into their sales, and public librarians, who are trying to serve their communities during a once-in-a-generation crisis….
(2) HOLD THAT SANDWORM! Collider reports “Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ Movie Is Moving to Late 2021”.
It seems the spice won’t flow until next year, as Warner Bros. and Legendary are moving Denis Villeneueve‘s Dune off its December release date and will unveil the epic sci-fi movie on Oct. 1, 2021, Collider has exclusively learned.
(3) WORLD FANTASY CON PR#3 AVAILABLE. The virtual World Fantasy Convention (October 29-November 1) has released its third Progress Report [PDF file].
In it you will find…
– an update on the program and schedule
– a description of our online and mobile platform
– information about the convention time zone
– pre-convention sessions by some awesome instructors, available to all attendees
– exciting news about the free books available to all participating members
– a beautiful piece of artwork by our Artist Guest of Honor, David A. Cherry
(4) FANS ARE WHERE YOU FIND THEM. [Item by Rich Lynch.] Nicki noticed, on the Good Morning America broadcast, that their medical advisor, Dr. James Phillips, appears to be a Star Wars trufan. On his wall bookshelf behind him were Princess Leia and Han Solo bookends, between which were various Star Wars books and DVDs. And to the left of the bookshelf was a framed photo of Chewbacca. “Walter Reed attending physician calls out Trump’s irresponsibility”
(5) NEW FREE GUY TRAILER. Meanwhile, Ryan Reynolds’ video game movie is still due to open December 11.
In Twentieth Century Studios’ epic adventure-comedy “Free Guy,” a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, decides to become the hero of his own story…one he rewrites himself. Now in a world where there are no limits, he is determined to be the guy who saves his world his way…before it is too late.
(6) REINING IN MAGICAL REALISM. Fernando Sdrigotti explains “What We Talk About When We Talk About Magical Realism” at LA Review of Books.
… I do not expect everyone to be aware of the many differences between Latin American people, the contrasting cultures and literatures of each country. I do not bother trying to convince anyone that it would be highly unlikely for Argentines (like myself) to make much of the words “magical realism” when thinking about our own contribution to letters. But I have no qualms in declaring that this label isn’t in any way useful to explain all of the fiction produced south of Texas, as so many have tried to do, forcing the most disparate authors into this pigeonhole. And to raise the ante even more, I’d happily die on the hill which declares that magical realism doesn’t even say that much about the region’s fertile literary production, beyond what it might say about a handful of authors, mostly around the Boom of the ’60s, plus their disciples.  In other words, the Latin American titles that would be shelved under the category of magical realism — without resistance from producers, critics, or well-informed readers — would represent a rather limited sample, if we consider contemporary and historical examples, regardless of originality and literary quality. 
But we are talking about a very powerful Force (uppercase intended). The “magical realist imperative,” critic Sylvia Molloy calls it, understanding that this is a label but also a demand: the demand that Latin American literature fit the label. This sounds circular, like the Chicken or Egg Paradox, and paradoxes are confusing. To make it simpler, for simple it is, it all boils down to: “If it comes from Latin America, it has to be magical realism, in some way, even if it looks like something completely different.” Needless to say, this results in terrible reductions. It has “wreaked havoc,” as Jorge Volpi puts it without much exaggeration, for it has “erased, with a single [stroke], all of Latin America’s previous explorations […] and it became a choke-chain for those writers who didn’t show any interest in magic.”
(7) THE SKY’S THE LIMIT. The Constelación Magazine Kickstarter has reached 40% of its goal with 26 days to go.
The magazine will open for submissions on October 15.
The theme for our first issue is The Bonds That Unite Us:
Constellations are the product of human imagination, giving meaning to the patterns we see in the sky. From these scintillating dots lighting up the night, we’ve created stories about heroes, legends, and mythological creatures. We created those bonds, and we give them meaning.
Each culture that has looked up at the sky with wonder has its own interpretation of these connections, and now we want to hear yours. What are the bonds that unite our cultures and languages around the world? How are these bonds formed, and what upholds them? How can they be broken and forged again? What unites an alien civilization to humankind? What ties the dragon to the unicorn and prevents it from making a meal out of her?
Sometimes these bonds are ones of blood. (Vampire tastes may vary.) Sometimes they’re shaped by shows of courage and strength, and the common struggles we face. These bonds can topple walls and bring down civilizations, and sometimes they’re the foundation for something new.
The theme is open to interpretation, as long as the stories fit under the speculative fiction umbrella.
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
- October 10, 1962 – The first James Bond movie premiered.
- October 10, 2007 — The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising premiered. It’s based rather loosely on the second book in Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. (Cooper has a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.) It was directed by David L. Cunningham and produced by Marc Platt from a screenplay by John Hodge. It starred Alexander Ludwig, Christopher Eccleston, Frances Conroy and Ian McShane. The Jim Henson Company owned the original film option on the series but never exercised it. Critics generally didn’t like it though they really loved Christopher Eccleston’s performance. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a thirty three percent rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born October 5, 1882 – Robert Goddard, Ph.D. Built the first liquid-fueled rocket, a vital development. Worked out the math himself. Two hundred patents. Had little public support; ridiculed. Decades later NASA Goddard Space Flight Center named for him; Int’l Aerospace Hall of Fame; Int’l Space Hall of Fame. (Died 1945) [JH]
- Born October 5, 1889 – Robert Jones. A hundred covers, almost as many interiors. Here is the Oct 46 Amazing. Here is the Apr 50 Fantastic. Here is the Jul 53 Other Worlds. Here is the May 54 Universe. (Died 1969) [JH]
- Born October 5, 1897 – George Salter. Thirty covers for us, hundreds more outside our field; distinctive with us, pioneering with others. Here is the Fall 50 F&SF. Here is The Trial. Here is Atlas Shrugged. Here is Brighton Rock. Here is Absalom, Absalom! See this Website. (Died 1967) [JH]
- Born October 5, 1923 – Tetsu Yano. First Japanese SF author to visit the U.S. Three hundred fifty translations, Heinlein, Herbert, Pohl. His own novella “Legend of the Paper Spaceship” often translated (English 1983), anthologized. Big Heart, our highest service award. (Died 2004) [JH]
- Born October 5, 1949 — Peter Ackroyd, 71. His best known genre work is likely Hawksmoor which tells the tale of a London architect building a church and a contemporary detective investigating horrific murderers involving that church. Highly recommended. The House of Doctor Dee is genre fiction as is The Limehouse Golem and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein. I thought Hawksmoor had been turned into a film — it has not but he has a credit for The Limehouse Golem which is his sole film work to date. (CE)
- Born October 5, 1950 — Jeff Conaway. Babylon 5 has seen a lot of actors die young and he was one of them. He played Zack Allan, a security officer promoted to Chief of Security upon the resignation of Michael Garibaldi. Other genre roles including being in Pete’s Dragon as Willie Gogan, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark as Travis, Alien Intruder as Borman and the Wizards and Warriors series as Prince Erik Greystone. (Died 2011.) (CE)
- Born October 5, 1952 — Clive Barker, 68. Horror writer, series include the Hellraiser and the Book of Art which is not to overlook The Abarat Quintet which is quite superb. Though not recent, The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction published some twenty years ago contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories. His Imaginer series collects his decidedly strange and often disturbing art. There has been a multitude of comic books, both by him and by others based on his his ideas. My personal fav work by him is the Weaveworld novel. (CE)
- Born October 5, 1959 — Rich Horton, 61. Editor of three anthology series — Fantasy: Best of The Year and Science Fiction: Best of The Year both no longer being published, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy which is ongoing since 2009. He has been a reviewer for Locus for over a decade. (CE)
- Born October 5, 1967 — Jenna Russell, 53. She appeared as the Floor Manager in the Ninth Doctor stories “Bad Wolf” and “The Parting of the Ways”. She sang the Red Dwarf theme song,the recording that has been used for all of the show’s series over the last thirty years. She also plays the Baker’s Wife in the film version of Into The Woods. In the 1998 London revival production of it, she played Cinderella. (CE)
- Born October 5, 1974 — Colin Meloy, 46. He’s best known as the frontman of the The Decemberists, a band that makes use of folklore quite a bit, but he has also written the neat and charmingly weird children’s fantasy Wildwood trilogy which is illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis. (CE)
- Born October 5, 1971 – Paul Weimer, 49. (Name rhymes with “dreamer”) Writer, roleplayer, podcaster, photographer, often seen here. The Skiffy and Fanty Show since 2013. Hundreds of reviews and articles for SF Signal 2011-2015. Tor Website reviews. DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate; trip report What I Did on My Summer Vacation. [JH]
- Born October 5, 1979 – Grace Krilanovich, 41. The Orange Eats Creeps an Amazon Book of the Year. MacDowell Colony Fellow. In 2010 a Nat’l Book Fdn “5 Under 35” honoree. An interview here. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
(11) MARVEL’S 616 TRAILER. Yahoo! News took a look at “Marvel’s 616 at PaleyFest Fall TV Previews 2020”. All episodes available for streaming November 20 on Disney+.
Topics include: exploring how Marvel and the outside world have influenced one another; the series’ eight episodes as discrete films with different styles and visions; the Marvel Spotlight program, which helps to craft plays for high school students, as seen in Brie’s episode; highlighting “Japanese Spider-Man,” the 1970s kids’ TV series that reinterpreted the webslinger for Japanese audiences; tracking down information and interviewees for the extremely niche show, never before seen in the West; the “616” title, which refers to the many realities within the Marvel multiverse; and creating space for comic book newcomers and veterans alike to see themselves reflected in the stories.
(12) THE HOLE EARTH CATALOG. Futurism thinks they know where this idea got started: “Strange Research Paper Claims There’s a Black Hole at the Center of the Earth”.
…When researchers dug the paper up this week — it was published about a year ago, but attracted little attention until now — they expressed consternation about both the contents of the paper and how it ended up in what appears to be a vaguely credible scientific journal. The bylines on the paper do appear to correspond to actual researchers at a variety of European universities. But its claims, about a black hole formed by something “like DNA,” are hilariously tabloid-esque.
… The most likely explanation, according to Cambridge University mathematician Sarah Rasmussen, is that the authors purposely submitted a ridiculous paper in order to expose “predatory journals” that purport to be normal, peer-reviewed publications, but in reality apply little scrutiny to material that they publish, often in order to collect publication fees.
(13) AIRLESS TRAFFIC CONTROL. “Satellite swarms as a service? IBM announces open-source projects to increase access to space” – TechRepublic has the story.
Access to orbit around Earth was once limited to a handful of space agencies around the globe. With the proliferation of spacefaring technologies and cost-efficient craft, low-Earth orbit (LEO)—the sliver of space extending to 1,200 miles above our planet—is now an increasingly populous mix of private and public interests. Today, LEO is brimming with government craft, commercial programs, university undertakings, venture capital funding, and more.
On Thursday, IBM announced two open-source projects in an effort to “democratize access” to space technologies and help track the debris field orbiting overhead. We spoke with Naeem Altaf, IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO of space tech, to learn more about these programs.
… To assist, IBM has created the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) project, operated in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin, which leverages two models to monitor space debris. The physics-based SSA model incorporates Cowell’s formulation to model “perturbation” space debris orbit “caused by the Earth.”
A second model uses machine learning to predict errors in orbit predictions using XGBoost gradient-boosted regression trees, per the IBM release. With USSTRATCOM data acting as “the ground truth,” the machine learning model is trained using the physical model’s orbit predictions to predict errors in the physics model.
(14) IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A… SYFY Wire knows its dino plumage: “After 159 Years, An Archaeopteryx Is Thought To Have Shed The First Fossil Feather Ever Found”.
How much can just one feather reveal—especially if that feather is a fossil that drifted to the ground sometime during the Jurassic era?
Archaeopteryx is the earliest known bird that is thought to have looked mostly birdlike with some dinosaurian features. When a fossilized feather was first unearthed near Berlin 159 years ago, it sparked a debate over whether it was really molted by the extinct Archaeopteryx or some yet-unknown feathered dinosaur species. Now that a team of paleontologists from the University of South Florida have analyzed the feather, its attributes have shown that it is more likely to have come from an Archaeopteryx than any other creature.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that even though the Percy Jackson movie has scenes in a magic school called “Camp Halfblood,” the film has absolutely nothing to do with the Harry Potter series.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]