(1) DUBLIN 2019 ADDS FACILITIES. Next year’s Worldcon is branching out to accommodate a growing membership: “Dublin 2019 Expands: Announcing Dublin 2019’s New Creative Hub”. Chair James Bacon told fandom:
It is with excitement that I write to share that Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon is expanding.
We have watched as membership increases beyond our expectations, and have been working for some time now on how to ensure we can welcome and accommodate everyone.
We also want to ensure that any expansion works to improve the experience for members who come along, while taking into account that there is not a building directly next to the Convention Centre Dublin that we can expand into.
Eight hundred and fifty meters from the CCD, or just over half a mile, are a number of facilities that we have decided to hire and use at a wonderful location called The Point. Conveniently, there is a Luas stop outside the CCD and one outside our new facilities, with direct tram travel between them. The facilities include hotel function rooms for over 300 people, auditorium space in the Odeon Cinema for 1,000 people, 2,600 sq metres of extra exhibits space, and a number of bars, social spaces, and restaurants, all in one ‘Block’.
The additional space is not only desirable to accommodate our members, but also to accommodate everything we want to celebrate and bring to our members. It allows elements such as our art show to increase their footprint, it allows programme to programme more items for the 800 potential participants who have signed up already, it allows us to include an amazing installation from a featured artists, it will allow us to have more large displays, and it will allow us to increase dealers’ space and our ‘creative alley’.
The new spaces are the Odeon Cinema, The ‘Warehouse’, and the Gibson hotel.
More details at the link.
(2) MAPPING IRELAND’S MT. TSUNDOKU. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The Guardian’s Jack Fennell (@JFennellAuthor), who literally wrote the book on Irish science fiction, shared his list of the “Top 10 Irish science fiction authors”. If you’re looking for some reading to get you in the mood for Dublin 2019, this might be a good place to look. It is surprising to note that he omitted mention of James White’s media tie-in novel for the TV series Earth Final Conflict.
9. Sarah Maria Griffin (1988-)
Spare and Found Parts is a homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a feminist dissection of creativity and interpersonal relationships, and a dystopian critique of Irish society. Set in a disease-ravaged future Dublin, the story follows Nell Crane, a talented roboticist who decides to construct a companion for herself out of items she salvages from a nearby beach. Griffin refers to herself as a “spec”(speculative) writer, rather than declaring allegiance to any one genre, but her appreciation for sci-fi, horror and fantasy bleeds through all her work.
(3) NO NINE WORLDS IN 2019? Former committee member Steve Lacey casts doubt on the chances of there being a Nine Worlds next year. Thread starts here. (The London convention Nine Worlds announced in August that they are “beginning a process of reconstitution”.)
(4) HELLBOY TRAILER. In theaters April 12, 2019.
(5) UNALLOYED PLEASURE. Steve Carper revisits a comic that fascinated me as a kid in “Elementary, My Dear Metal Men” at Black Gate.
It’s 1962. You are Irwin Donenfeld, executive vice president for DC Comics, the 800-pound gorilla of superhero comics. You are riding high on the Silver Age of comics, having revived superhero comics from their near-death experience at the hands of Fredric Wertham, the New York District Attorney, and Congress itself. A dozen new versions of 1940s legends have poured from your offices since 1956 along with brand-new successes. The secret? Showcase, a comic invented purely to give tryouts to comic concepts and get the fans, the readers, the buyers to write in insisting that one or another of them be given their own titles. The Barry Allen Flash emerged from Showcase #4, The Challengers of the Unknown in #6, Lois Lane in #8, Green Lantern in #22, Aquaman in #30, the Atom in #34.
(6) WHAT HORROR WRITERS EAT. The “Winners of the 2018 Cookbook Contest” have been announced by the Horror Writers Association. They’ll publish the winning recipes and photos in their January newsletter.
- Owl Goingback – Indian Pumpkin Fry Bread
2nd Place – Tie
- Dan Rabarts – Slow-Cooked Minotaur Shanks
- Kelly Robinson – Blue Hubbard Squash Tarts & Cemetery Quiche
3rd Place – Tie
- Frank Coffman – Hungry for man Goulish
- Bruce Boston – WASP Pizza (with story)
(8) IT CAN GET WORSE. That’s Phoebe Wagner’s takeaway: “Microreview [Book] Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias”at Nerds of a Feather.
…Ten years ago when Ink first hit shelves, it would have been a difficult read. Now, the images of tattoos, GPS trackers, internment camps, border dumps are all too mainstream. Just like Twitter in the novel, these stories fill my timeline. This past weekend, a brief discussion popped up on my timeline regarding good speculative fiction: it’s not meant to predict the future but warn against a type of future…
(9) WHERE DID UNIONS GO IN SFF? Olav Rokne begins a short series about “Imagining the future of organized labour (part one of two)” at the Hugo Award Book Club.
At their peak in 1954, unions represented almost a third of workers in the United States, and it was easy to take their existence — and their action as a counterbalance to the power of capital — for granted. Even employees in non-union workplaces enjoyed gains because employers had to keep up with union shops to retain and recruit labour.
But despite their prevalence in society, labour unions were largely absent from science fictional narratives during the Golden Age, and their few portrayals in the genre are usually either comedic or antagonistic.
As labour activist and science fiction author Eric Flint pointed out atWorldCon76, the major contributors to the development of science fiction — from the dawn of the Golden Age of Science Fiction through this era of union organizing and stability — were largely drawn from academic circles or the upper middle class. Despite working for a living, these authors and editors did not see themselves as part of the proletariat, and thus based their narratives on assumptions that their privileged working relationships allowed them to hold.
(10) BOWDLERIZING HARLAN. Amazing Stories’ SF Trivia Context #3 poses this question:
True or False:
Harlan Ellison once stated that the “hideous neologism”…”SciFi”…“sounds like grasshoppers f***ing”.
I know the answer – though I’m curious about the attempt to clean up the quote.
(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA
The late Penny Marshall was the first-ever guest star on The Simpsons.
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
- December 19, 1918 — Marylou Tousignant in the Washington Post notes that Robert Ripley started the comic strip that, re-named, became “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” in December 1918.
- December 19, 1958 — The first known radio broadcast from outer space was transmitted when President Eisenhower’s recorded voice issued a holiday greeting for the whole world from the Atlas satellite which was launched the previous day.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 19, 1902 – Sir Ralph Richardson. God in Time Bandits but also Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke:The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and Chief Rabbit In Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh my he had an interesting genre film career! (Died 1983.)
- Born December 19, 1960 – Dave Hutchinson, 58. Best known for his Fractured Europe series which consists of Europe in Autumn, Europe at Midnight, Europe in Winter and Europe at Dawn. Great reading! He’s got a lot of other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into that yet.
- Born December 19, 1969 – Kristy Swanson, 49. Her first starring genre film role was in Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend, but no doubt her best known genre role was as the original Buffy. She also shows up in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Phantom, Not Quite Human and The Black Hole. For the record, I like her version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer!
- Born December 19, 1972 – Alyssa Milano, 46. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer Limits, Fantasy Island, Embrace of the Vampire, Double Dragon, the Young Justice animated series as the voice of Poison Ivy and more voice work in DC’s The Spectre, an excellent animated short.
- Born December 19, 1975 – Brandon Sanderson, 43.Best known for the Mistborn series . He is also known for finishing Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time .OK I’m going to freely admit I’ve not read either of these series. Opinions please.
- Born December 19, 1979 – Robin Sloan, 39. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me to me consider reviewing, Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, is also probably genre but is also weirdly about food as well. And he’s a really nice person as well.
- Born December 19, 1980 – Jake Gyllenhaal, 38. First genre role was the lead in Donnie Darko. Later roles have included The Day After Tomorrow, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Source Code and the forthcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home.
(14) THE SOUND OF M.R. JAMES. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie recommends these Christmas short audio ghost stories from the BBC and M.R. James (grandmaster of horror). “They are only 14 minutes long and perfect to bring a delightful shiver to the festive season. Yesterday’s was this one –“
“Casting the Runes” by the master of the ghost story, M.R. James. The tale of a curse passed on by a curiously inscribed slip of paper.
This story inspired the film Night of the Demon (1957). You can hear it online for the next 28 days.
(15) READING BY GASLIGHT.Did somebody hack JDA’s blog? There’s a new post, “On Bullying And ComicsGate” [Internet Archive ink], which begins —
One of my main principles is I’m anti-bullying….
(16) SAD PUPPY DNA. Gizmodo says “Don’t Take the DNA Test You’ll Probably Get for Christmas”.
… there’s no guarantee that the results you get back from a DNA-testing company are particularly meaningful or even accurate. Earlier this year, a company called Orig3n, which claims to offer fitness and lifestyle advice based on your genes, failed to note that a sample of submitted DNA actually came from a Labrador retriever.
(17) EXPLAINING THAT FLOPPEROO. Looper would be delighted to have you watch their video explaining why Mortal Engines tanked, although by the time you’ve read the “hook” you may already know all they have to say:
Mortal Engines was a massive flop at the box office. What was the reason that this potential series builder bombed so hard at the box office, really? There’s a lot to unpack with this movie – which potentially just killed a franchise. Despite a $100 million budget, and a marketing budget of more than $120 million, Mortal Engines pulled in a measly $7.5 million domestic in its opening weekend – only good enough for fifth place. What went wrong exactly? Well, we can start by looking at the marketing. Despite a lot of cash and ads, unless you were familiar with the 2001 Philip Reeve book (and books after), the idea of cities on wheels that roll around and gobble up smaller cities sounds… well… silly. The ads didn’t do a very good job explaining what exactly was going on. Another issue was the presentation: Is this a drama? An action movie? Is it a teen drama? If you went with teen drama for Mortal Engines you’d be correct, and we are at a time when teen/young adult dramas are flopping left and right; the timing was rather poor. Then Mortal Engines had the misfortune of opening against Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and The Mule – which eliminated two major age groups from seeing it. Add in a surprise exclusive showing of Aquaman via Amazon Prime and holdovers like Ralph Breaks The Internet, it’s not a surprise at all that the city on wheels movie never got rolling.
(18) GENIE-US. ScienceFiction.com liberated Entertainment Weekly’s photo gallery so that you can “Get Your First Look At Will Smith And The Cast Of ‘Aladdin’”.
In May of next year, Will Smith is hoping to enchant audiences with his depiction of the Genie in the latest live action remake of a classic Disney animated film, ‘Aladdin’. This project is directed by Guy Ritchie (‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’) and also stars Mena Massoud (‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’) as Aladdin, Naomi Scott (‘Power Rangers’) as Princess Jasmine, and Marwan Kenzari (‘Murder on the Orient Express’) as the villainous Jafar, as well as Numan Acar, Billy Magnussen, Navid Negahban, and Nasim Pedrad.
To prepare you for your trip to Agrabah, Disney has released a series of first-look photos from the film…
(19) CLEAR ETHER. BBC assures everyone “Nasa’s New Horizons probe on course for historic flyby”.
The American space agency’s New Horizons probe remains on course for its daring flyby of Ultima Thule…
When the mission sweeps past the 30km wide object on New Year’s Day, it will be making the most distant ever visit to a Solar System body – at some 6.5 billion km from Earth.
Mission planners decided at the weekend to forego a possible trajectory change.
It means the probe will get to fly 3,500km from icy Ultima’s surface to take aseries of photos and other data.
There had been some concern that the object might be surrounded by large debris particles which could destroy the probe if it were to run into them. But nothing of the sort has been detected and so a wider, safer pass will not be needed.
(20) WHICH CAME FIRST? Maybe neither the chicken nor the egg – it may have been the feathers: “Pterosaurs: Fur flies over feathery fossils”.
Two exceptionally well preserved fossils give a new picture of the pterosaurs, the flying reptiles that lived at the time of the dinosaurs.
Scientists believe the creatures may have had feathers, and looked something like brown bats with fuzzy wings.
The surprise discovery suggests feathers evolved not in birds, nor dinosaurs, but in more distant times.
Pterosaurs were the closest relatives of dinosaurs, sharing a common ancestor about 250 million years ago.
“We would suggest – tentatively – that it would be worth considering that feathers originated much earlier than we thought,” Prof Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol, told BBC News.
(21) THE CONQUEROR BEFORE WILLIAM. “Hastings dinosaur footprints exposed by cliff erosion”. “Yes, technically the conqueror before William was Claudius,” admits Chip Hitchcock, who sent the link, “but he didn’t land at Hastings.”
Dozens of well-preserved dinosaur footprints from at least 100 million years ago have been uncovered in East Sussex.
At least seven different species were identified by University of Cambridge researchers during the past four winters following coastal erosion along the cliffs near Hastings.
They range in size from less than 2cm to more than 60cm across, and are so well-preserved that even the skin, scales and claws are easily visible.
There are more than 85 markings, all of which date from the early Cretaceous period.
(22) WHAT’S UP, DOCS? The American Chemical Society sent out a story about how “Rabbit gene helps house plant detoxify indoor air.”
A genetically modified houseplant can efficiently remove toxins from the air.
Our homes are supposed to be safe havens from the outside world. However, studies have shown that household air is more polluted than either office or school air, exposing children and home workers to higher levels of carcinogens than the general population. Now, researchers have made a genetically modified houseplant that can efficiently remove at least two toxins from the air. They report their results in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Indoor air often contains volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, benzene and chloroform. These toxins come from many sources, including cooking, showering, furniture and smoking. House plants can remove some toxins from the air, but they aren’t very efficient: A homeowner would need more than 20 plants to remove formaldehyde from a typical room, researchers estimate. Stuart Strand and colleagues wondered if introducing a mammalian gene called CYP2E1 to a common houseplant, pothos ivy (Epipremnum aureum), would boost the plant’s detoxifying potential. his gene encodes cytochrome P450 2E1, an enzyme that breaks down a wide range of volatile organic compounds found in the home.
The team introduced rabbit CYP2E1 to the ivy’s genome and injected benzene or chloroform gas into closed vials that contained growing plants. After 3 days, the concentrations of these compounds in the vials had dropped dramatically, and by 8 days, chloroform was barely detectable. In contrast, the compounds’ concentrations in vials containing unmodified ivy or no plants did not change. The researchers estimate that a hypothetical biofilter made of the genetically modified plants would deliver clean air at rates comparable to commercial home particulate filters.
(23) MORE SEASONAL VERSE. Submitted by Anna Nimmhaus, inspired by item 14 in the December 17 Pixel Scroll. (Apologies for the formatting — I have not yet conquered the WordPress 5.0 update of a week ago.)
Pixel scroll, pixel scroll,
Pixels all the way.
Oh, what fun it is to rhyme
With Camestros today.
Scrolling pixels through
With Camestros today,
Internets we view,
Laughing all the way.
Trolls will fail to sting,
Making spirits bright.
Camestros and we shall sing
A scrolling song tonight.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ. John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, Anna Nimmhaus, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]