(1) A REAL STEMWINDER. BBC America’s Pratchett-inspired series The Watch was teased during today’s virtual New York Comic Con.
Welcome to Ankh-Morpork. Expect dragon sightings. ‘The Watch’, an all-new series inspired by characters created by Sir Terry Pratchett and starring Richard Dormer as Vimes and Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin, premieres January 2021 on BBC America.
(2) DOOMED TO REPEAT. K. Tempest Bradford lists year-by-year the harassment, accessibility, and programming diversity issues that have stalked World Fantasy Con since 2011. She then comments at length about her interactions with the 2020 committee in “World Fantasy, the Convention That Keeps On Failing”. In winding up a detailed 6000-word post Bradford says:
I want people to realize how serious, deep-seated, and currently intractable WFC’s problems are, both with this convention and with the organization as a whole. I want people to understand that this org has been given chance after chance, great piece of advice after great piece of advice, and example after example of how to do well, and this still happened. It is time to stop giving benefits of the doubt, or worrying over the social consequences of speaking up, speaking out, removing yourself from programming, or tossing your membership altogether.
What has kept WFC going all these years is the continued attendance of all those vaunted professionals [2020 chair] Ginny [Smith] mentioned. Luminaries that include writers and editors and agents and publishers. Even as con-goers (mostly women) were harassed without consequence, and people with disabilities were made to feel unwanted or as if they were a burden to accommodate, and as an environment of oppression and bigotry against BIPOC flourished, many people still paid several hundred dollars to attend and be on panels and give readings and network.
But they were gonna change it from the inside, doncha know!
(3) IN COMMUNITY. Filip Hajdar Drnovšek Zorko, a Slovenian-born writer and translator currently living in Maine, guests on Sarah Gailey’s Pesonal Canons series with “Personal Canons: Dinotopia”.
…Dinotopia is one of the few books I have read in both Slovenian and English, a fact which speaks to the level of popularity it enjoyed at the peak of the dinosaur renaissance in the early nineties. Like so many other beloved children’s books, Dinotopia is essentially a portal fantasy, in disguise as the journal of Arthur Denison, a scientist from Boston, who is shipwrecked with his twelve-year-old son William in 1862. Rescued by dolphins and delivered to the uncharted continent of Dinotopia, the two are gradually integrated into a society in which dinosaurs live side-by-side with humans.
Classic portal fantasies—Narnia foremost among them—often take the form of white saviour narratives. Dinotopia averts this trope from the start. Gurney’s lavish illustrations spend as much time on minor details of Dinotopian society as they do on the Denisons. Nor are our protagonists especially privileged by virtue of their status as “dolphinbacks”: when Will declares he wants to become a Skybax (pterosaur) rider, his newcomer status is neither boon nor hinderance. He’s warned that no dolphinback has ever been one; then he’s given a course of study, a route by which he might achieve his dream. There are no shortcuts here. It takes a few timeskips to get him to his goal, and when he gets there, when he and his Dinotopian friend Sylvia ask the instructor Oolu for permission to fly as full-fledged Skybax riders, Oolu replies, referring to their pterosaur partners: ‘You don’t need my permission: you have theirs.’
(4) CONGRATULATIONS. [Item by Dann.] Rebecca F. Kuang is graduating from Oxford with distinction.
(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites everyone to cross the pond for pappardelle with Priya Sharma in Episode 129 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.
Priya Sharma has published fiction in Interzone, Black Static, Nightmare, The Dark, and other venues. “Fabulous Beasts” was a Shirley Jackson Award finalist and won a British Fantasy Award for Short Fiction. “Ormeshadow,” her first novella, won a Shirley Jackson Award. All the Fabulous Beasts, a collection of some of her work, won both the Shirley Jackson Award and British Fantasy Award. She’s also a Grand Judge for the Aeon Award, an annual writing competition run by Albedo One, Ireland’s magazine of the Fantastic.
We discussed the best decision she made about her debut short story collection All the Fabulous Beasts, how the cover to that book conveys a different message in our COVID-19 world, why we each destroyed much of our early writing, a surprising revelation about the changed ending to one of her stories, who told her as a child “your soul is cracked,” the two of us being both longhand writers and defenders of ambiguity, what it’s like writing (and not writing) for theme anthologies, the most difficult story for her to write, how the pandemic has affected our writing, and much more.
(6) ALAN MOORE SPEAKS. A rare Garbo-like sighting. Tom Grater, in the Deadline story “Alan Moore Gives Rare Interview: ‘Watchmen’ Creator Talks New Project ‘The Show’, How Superhero Movies Have ‘Blighted Culture’ & Why He Wants Nothing To Do With Comics”, says that Moore, promoting his new film The Show, says that he doesn’t care about comics anymore, and the last superhero movie he saw was Tim Burton’s Batman, but he is enjoying calling his grandchildren and reading stories to them.
DEADLINE: You said you feel responsible for how comics have changed, why?
MOORE: It was largely my work that attracted an adult audience, it was the way that was commercialized by the comics industry, there were tons of headlines saying that comics had ‘grown up’. But other than a couple of particular individual comics they really hadn’t.
This thing happened with graphic novels in the 1980s. People wanted to carry on reading comics as they always had, and they could now do it in public and still feel sophisticated because they weren’t reading a children’s comic, it wasn’t seen as subnormal. You didn’t get the huge advances in adult comic books that I was thinking we might have. As witnessed by the endless superhero films…
(7) CHOPPED. The seven-foot-tall bronze sculpture of “Medusa With The Head of Perseus” being installed across the street from 100 Centre St., Manhattan’s criminal courthouse this weekend has been called a commentary on the #MeToo movement (see image here).
Many have tweeted support for the idea. Courtney Milan, however, has voiced a strong dissent. Thread starts here.
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1975 — Forty-five years ago, the first World Fantasy Award for Best Novel went to Patricia A. McKillip for The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. It was published by Atheneum Books in 1974 with the cover art by Peter Schaumann. It was her second novel after The House on Parchment Street and was nominated also for a Mythopoeic Society Award but it went to A Midsummer Tempest by Poul Anderson. Thirty-three years later, she would garner a much deserved World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born October 9, 1863 – Elaine Eastman. Superintendent of Indian Education for the Two Dakotas. Married Dr. Charles Eastman, a Santee Sioux, first American Indian to graduate from medical school and become a physician; with him Wigwam Evenings, Sioux folktales; eight other books by him, a dozen by her. Her collected poems, The Voice at Eve. Her memoir Sister to the Sioux published posthumously. (Died 1953) [JH]
- Born October 9, 1900 – Harry Bates. First editor of Astounding. Under a different name, with D.W. Hall, a novel and five shorter stories of adventurer Hawk Carse; eight more stories with DWH; ten more under HB’s name and others. Not one but two stories in the great Healy-McComas Adventures in Time & Space. “Farewell to the Master” unsurpassed. (Died 1981) [JH]
- Born October 9, 1935 – Celia Correas de Zapata, 85. Directed the 1976 Conference of Inter-American Women Writers, one of the earliest. Edited Short Stories by Latin American Women: the Magic and the Real (2003), also pioneering. Professor of literature at San Jose State U. [JH]
- Born October 9, 1937 – Margo Herr. Fifty covers for us. Here is Can You Feel Anything When I Do This? Here is Analog 9. Here is Down Here in the Dream Quarter. Here is Shadows of Doom. Much more outside our field; Website here. (Died 2005) [JH]
- Born October 9, 1948 — Ciaran Carson. Northern Ireland-born poet and novelist who is here, genre-wise at least, for his translation of the early Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, which he called simply The Táin. I’m also going to single him out for penning the finest book ever written on Irish traditional music, Last Night’s Fun: About Time, Food and Music. It’s every bit as interesting as Iain Banks’ Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram is. (Died 2018.) (CE)
- Born October 9, 1952 – Steven Popkes, 68. Four novels, forty-five shorter stories. In Caliban Landing humans arrive on a planet, start mapping, told from the viewpoint of a female alien there. [JH]
- Born October 9, 1953 — Tony Shalhoub, 67. Two great genre roles, the first being Jack Jeebs in Men In Black, the second being I think much more nuanced one, Fred Kwan in Galaxy Quest. Actually, he’s done three great genre roles as he voiced Master Splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. (CE)
- Born October 9, 1956 — Robert Reed, 64. Extremely prolific short story writer with at least two hundred tales so far. And a number of novels as well, such as the superb Marrow series. I see a won a Hugo at Nippon 2007 for his “A Billion Eves” novella. And he was nominated for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer as well. (CE)
- Born October 9, 1961 — Matt Wagner, 59. The Grendel Tales and Batman / Grendel Are very good as is Grendel vs. The Shadow stories he did a few years back. His run on Madame Xanadu was amazing too. Oh, and I’d suggest both issues of House of Mystery Halloween Annual thathe did for some appropriate Halloween reading. (CE)
- Born October 9, 1964 — Jacqueline Carey, 56. Author of the long-running mildly BDSM-centered Kushiel’s Legacy Universe which also includes the Moirin Trilogy. (Multiple Green Man reviewers used this phraseology in their approving reviews.) Locus in their December 2002 issue did an interview with her called “Jacqueline Carey: Existential BDSM”. She did several stand-alone novels including the intriguingly entitled Miranda and Caliban. (CE)
- Born October 9, 1964 — Guillermo del Toro, 56. Best films? Hellboy, Hellboy II and Pan’s Labyrinth which won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Nippon 2007. Hellboy II is watchable over and over just for the Goblin’s Market sequence. Worst films? The Hobbit films. (CE)
- Born October 9, 1976 – William Alexander, 44. Six novels, sixteen shorter stories. Interviewed in Lightspeed. He calls this in Strange Horizons about Le Guin’s Earthsea a revisionist history. [JH]
(10) SHH! IT’S A SECRET! Let 13th Dimension tell you about “The Goofy Charm of 1950’s ATOM MAN VS. SUPERMAN”.
… Atom Man vs. Superman opens with a series of robberies that are plaguing Metropolis. It is, of course, the work of Lex Luthor, who threatens to destroy a nearby bridge if he and his gang don’t receive all the money from the Metropolis Trust Company. He turns a destruction ray on the bridge, but luckily Superman arrives to keep it in place while police rescue some stranded motorists. The Man of Steel then finds Luthor, arrests him, and the arch-criminal is sent off to jail. A year later, everyone is perplexed by a second crime wave, since Luthor is in solitary confinement!
What they don’t know is, Luthor has created a machine that can teleport people short distances, activated by small coins pressed by the user (which sound like the Looney Tunes music starting up). He has been “beaming” in and out of his jail cell, back to his hideout, where he has been masterminding his gang and their numerous robberies.
(11) AND IN THE DARKNESS. Admittedly this story’s from The Sun, but anyway: “Lord of the Rings TV series slammed for ‘trying to rip off Game of Thrones’ with nudity and sex scenes”. (Incidentally, Stephen Colbert also devoted a couple minutes of his show to the item.)
THE Lord of the Rings TV series has been slammed by fans for ‘trying to rip off Game of Thrones’ with nudity and sex scenes.
Amazon’s new version of the fantasy saga is set to tell the story of Middle Earth before the events of the three Lord of the Rings films.
And according to TheOneRing.net a casting call has been put out for New Zealand-based actors who are “comfortable with nudity.”
The news followers earlier reports that an intimacy coordinator had been brought onto the production team.
Fans of JRR Tolkien’s stories have been quick to express their dismay at the prospect of nudity in the much-loved fantasy stories.
Twitter user Autumn Fox wrote: “Something I’ve always loved about Tolkien is that he portrayed love as containing infinite permutations, none of which depended on sex to be compelling and interesting.”
(12) MINI LTUE. The Life, The Universe, and Everything crew will run a free virtual mini-event on October 10 from 6-9 p.m. MDT. Full information here.
Life, The Universe, and Just a Few Things features all the things you love about LTUE in a mini one-night event. There will be 3 streams running side-by-side for 3 hours, giving you 9 great events to choose from, including panels, presentations, and more! Simply head to our website on the 10th and click the stream you want to join. We will also soon have a Discord for further discussions with attendees. We look forward to having you with us!
(13) BRADBURY’S MARS. Phil Nichols will present “Artsfest Online: Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles at Seventy” on November 10.
…In this illustrated lecture, Phil Nichols recounts the history of The Martian Chronicles, and shows how this short-story collection masquerading as a novel has constantly evolved with our changing times. He considers the long shadow the book has cast over television, radio and film science fiction, and shows how Bradbury’s unscientific book has nevertheless inspired several generations of real-life scientists and astronauts.
(14) FLAME ON. Some Jeopardy! contestants obviously need to sign up for Phil Nichols’ classes. Andrew Porter watched tonight’s panel stumble over the last, Bradbury-themed hurdle. Only the returning champion got it right.
Final Jeopardy: Books of the 1950s.
Answer: A special edition of this 1953 novel came with an asbestos binding.
Wrong questions: What is “Invisible Man?” “What is Brave New World?”
Correct question: “What is Fahrenheit 451?”
(15) SHARP CLAUS. Fatman is coming December 4. Maybe you’ll be lucky and theaters will still be closed when this movie gets released. (Although it looks like Walton Goggins is playing another character of the type he did on Justified, so that could be interesting.)
To save his declining business, Chris Cringle (Mel Gibson), also known as Santa Claus, is forced into a partnership with the U.S. military. Making matters worse, Chris gets locked into a deadly battle of wits against a highly skilled assassin (Walton Goggins), hired by a precocious 12-year-old after receiving a lump of coal in his stocking. ‘Tis the season for Fatman to get even, in the action-comedy that keeps on giving.
(16) KNOT JUST A MODERN PHENOMENON. “The grim reality behind sea-serpents of old”. Nature relates these research highlights –
‘Sea serpents’ spotted around Great Britain and Ireland in the nineteenth century were probably whales and other marine animals ensnared in fishing gear — long before the advent of the plastic equipment usually blamed for such entanglements.
The snaring of sea creatures in fishing equipment is often considered a modern phenomenon, because the hemp and cotton ropes used in the past degraded more quickly than their plastic counterparts. But Robert France at Dalhousie University in Truro, Canada, identified 51 probable entanglements near Great Britain and Ireland dating as far back as 1809.
France analysed 214 accounts of ‘unidentified marine objects’ from the early nineteenth century to 2000, looking for observations of a monster that had impressive length, a series of humps protruding above the sea surface and a fast, undulating movement through the water. France says that such accounts describe not sea serpents but whales, basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) or other marine animals trailing fishing gear such as buoys or other floats.
Such first-hand accounts could help researchers to construct a better picture of historical populations of marine species and the pressures they faced, France says.
(17) NOT THE LAND OF 10,000 LAKES, BUT A FEW AT LEAST. Will The Martian Chronicles be followed by the Martian barnacles? All that water must mean something. Nature is keeping tally: “Three buried lakes detected on Mars.”.
Two years ago, planetary scientists reported the discovery of a large saltwater lake under the ice at Mars’s south pole, a finding that was met with excitement and some scepticism. Now, researchers have confirmed the presence of that lake — and found three more.
This adds to the possible detection of a polar subsurface lake in 2018, covered at the time by SF2 Concatenation.
(18) INDUCTOR PROGRESS. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Nature tells how “Inductors enter the world of quantum magnets” [PDF file]. This may seem a little esoteric for Filers but actually it is quite important.
Inductors are coils of wire that impede changes in current and they are key components of electrical circuits. The problem is that their effectiveness is proportional to their cross-sectional area (size) and this is a pain if the goal is to miniaturise.
Researchers have now managed to create inductance using magnetic moments (spins) in a magnet to create a quantum mechanical inductor or an emergent inductor. In addition to reducing their size – which has obvious integrated circuit benefits – this new inductor can quickly switch between positive and negative which normal inductors cannot.
However, there is one big problem. These new inductors need to be super cool. Yet if this can be solved then there will be a revolution in electronics.
(19) DUST TO DUST. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Nature reports the latest ideas about “Early onset of planetary formation” [PDF file].
Several very young stars (only around a million years old) that still have their surrounding dust cloud, have been seen to have planetary formation as the protoplanets sweep out a circular path in the dust about the young star.
It is thought that planets from by dust, clumping into pebbles, then into boulders and so build their way up into planets.
However modelling this process and it seems to take too long.
This problem may have been solved by astronomers who have now seen patterns in a condensing dust cloud that is in the process of becoming a star. These patterns are rings that could indicate the presence of an orbiting protoplanet. The key thing is that this star is so young that it has not yet even properly got going. This means that planet formation may begin even before the star properly ignites (starts fusion).
(20) EARTHSHOT PRIZE. Vanity Fair shares a glimpse as “Prince William Previews His TED Talk: ‘The Shared Goals For Our Generation Are Clear’”.
Prince William has recorded his first TED talk, an 18-minute speech—recorded at Windsor Castle— discussing climate change and his vision of the Earthshot Prize, the ambitious initiative he announced yesterday. The TED Talk will air on Saturday as part of the Countdown Global Launch, the first-ever free TED conference that will be available on YouTube.
The Duke joins a number of high profile people for the event devoted to climate change, including Pope Francis, Al Gore, Chris Hemsworth, Jaden Smith, Jane Fonda, Christiana Figueres, and Don Cheadle.. In the preview clip William says, “The shared goals for our generation are clear — together we must protect and restore nature, clean our air, revive our oceans, build a waste-free world and fix our climate. And we must strive to do all of this in a decade. If we achieve these goals, by 2030 our lives won’t be worse and we won’t have to sacrifice everything we enjoy. Instead, the way we live will be healthier, cleaner, smarter and better for all of us.”
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. John King Tarpinian says, “If nothing else the closing credits are worth it.” Ray Bradbury’s The Homecoming” Ben Wickey’s 2016 CalArts Film.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, Dann, John Hertz, Rich Lynch, Mike Kennedy, N., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]