(1) LISTEN UP. Here are works of genre interest picked for AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2019 beyond the Best Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror category announced at File 770.
- Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
- The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust volume 2) by Philip Pullman
FICTION, POETRY & DRAMA
- The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
BIOGRAPHY & HISTORY
- American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley
- Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham
(2) TUNE IN DOCTOR WHO. ScienceFiction.com knows the airtime, and also how to see the two-parter on the big screen via Fathom Events: “New ‘Doctor Who’ Trailer Delivers The Release Date/Time For Season 12”.
The January 1 episode is part one of a two-part story called “Spyfall,” with part two arriving on Sunday, January 5, presumably also at 8 pm. That will be ‘Doctor Who’s regular time slot going forward.
If you’re a ‘Doctor Who’ superfan, BBC and BBC America are teaming up with Fathom Events for a one-time-only screening of both parts of “Spyfall” on the big screen, followed by a LIVE Q&A with Whittaker, Cole, and Gill from the Paley Center for Media in New York. These showings will be held at 600 theaters in the US on January 5. (Tickets go on sale on Friday at FathomEvents.com.)
(3) SMILE FOR THE CAMERA. Kevin Standlee promoted the Tonopah 2021 Westercon at this weekend’s Loscon.
Team Tonopah welcomed 19 new attending members while we were at Loscon 46 at the LAX Airport Marriott, and talked to many more people to tell them all about our plans for Westercon in Tonopah, Nevada.
(4) KGB READINGS. TheFantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Paul Tremblay and Nathan Ballingrud on Wednesday, December 18 at the KGB Bar. Event starts at 7 p.m. (KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY.)
Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the author of The Cabin at the End of the World, A Head Full of Ghosts, and most recently the short story collection Growing Things and Other Stories. His essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly online, and numerous year’s-best anthologies.
Nathan Ballingrud is the author of North American Lake Monsters and Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell. He’s twice won the Shirley Jackson Award, and has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards. His stories have appeared in numerous Best of the Year anthologies. Wounds, a film based on his novella “The Visible Filth,” has recently been released. North American Lake Monsters is in development as an anthology series at Hulu.
(5) RIGOROUS ARTWORK. James Davis Nicoll compliments “Five ’70s SF Cover Artists Who Stay True to the Story” in a post for Tor.com.
The Doppelgänger Gambit by Leigh Killough, 1979, cover by Michael Herring
Herring’s cover captures two key elements of this gripping 21st-century police procedural. The first: the two police officers don’t get along. The second: clothing fashions in this future are somehow even more hideous than real-world 1970s fashions. The cover is true to the work. Detective Janna Brill thinks Maxwell takes unconscionable risks, and these are the clothes described in the novel. (Though I suspect the cops in the novel used holsters.)
(6) MARTIAN FURNITURE. FastCompany reports “Now that Ikea has colonized Earth, it’s going after Mars”.
Two years ago, Ikea sent designers to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), which created a habitat in the Utah desert that mimics the conditions on the Red Planet. Ikea interior designer Christina Levenborn stayed in the habitat, ultimately creating an Ikea line for small spaces inspired by her stay. But more recently, she used her experience living in the habitat to help researchers outfit the space. She just returned from redecorating the habitat, which now looks brightly lit and neatly organized. In fact, it looks a lot like what you’d see in an Ikea catalog—which is impressive, because the space is exceptionally small and stark.
Sff writer David Levine did a cycle with the MDRS in 2010 and File 770 ran several posts based on his updates, including “Levine Reaches Mars”.
(7) MORE BLOWBACK. “Two Nobel literature prize committee members quit” – BBC tells how the membership continues to churn.
Two external members of the Nobel literature prize committee have quit after criticising the Swedish Academy.
Gun-Britt Sundstrom said the choice of Peter Handke as this year’s winner had been interpreted as if literature stood above politics and she did not agree.
The choice of Handke was criticised because of his vocal support for the Serbs during the 1990s Yugoslav war.
Kristoffer Leandoer said he’d left due to Academy reforms taking too long following a sexual assault scandal.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- December 2, 1979 — Star Trek comics premiered in syndicated form in the U.S. From 1979 to 1983, the Los Angeles Times Mirror Syndicate produced a daily and Sunday comic strip based upon this series. Larry Niven was among the many writers who did scripts for it. IDW has reprinted them in two volumes, The Newspaper Comics, Volume 1 and The Newspaper Comics, Volume 2.
- December 2, 2005 — Aeon Flux premiered. Produced by Gale Hurd, it stars Charlize Theron in the title role. It’s based on the animated Aeon Flux series of the same name created by Peter Chung. It bombed at the box office, was poorly received by critics, and currently has a 9% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
- December 2, 2017 – First pizza party in space took place on the International Space Station.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 2, 1913 — Jerry Sohl. Scriptwriter and genre writer who did work for The Twilight Zone (ghostwriting for Charles Beaumont who was seriously ill at the time), Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits and Star Trek. One of his three Trek scripts was the superb “Corbomite Maneuver” episode. (Died 2002.)
- Born December 2, 1914 — Ray Walston. Best known of course for playing the lead in My Favorite Martian from 1963 to 1966, alongside co-star Bill Bixby. His later genre appearances would include The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Six Million Dollar Man, Galaxy of Terror, Amazing Stories, Popeye, Friday the 13th: The Series and Addams Family Reunion. He would appear in The Incredible Hulk (in which David Banner was played by Bill Bixby) as Jasper the Magician in an episode called “My Favorite Magician”. (Died 2001.)
- Born December 2, 1937 — Brian Lumley, 81. Horror writer who came to distinction in the Seventies writing in the Cthulhu Mythos and by creating his own character Titus Crow. In the Eighties, he created the Necroscope series, which first centered on Speaker to the Dead Harry Keogh. He has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association, and a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
- Born December 2, 1946 — Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon, which was based on the Russian fairy tale “The Feather of Finist the Falcon”. She was a prolific writer both on her own and in collaboration authors such as Mecedes Lackey (A Cast of Corbies), and Laura Anne Gilman (two Buffyverse novels). I knew her personally as a folklorist first and she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf. Neat lady who died far too soon. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man twenty years ago. (Died 2012.)
- Born December 2, 1946 — David Macaulay, 73. British-born American illustrator and writer. Genre adjacent I’d say. Creator of such cool works as Cathedral, The New Way Things Work which has he updated for the computer technology age, and his latest, Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World.
- Born December 2, 1952 — OR Melling, 67. One of her favorite authors is Alan Garner whose The Owl Service is a frequent read of hers she tells me. As for novels by her that I’d recommend, the Chronicles of Faerie series is quite excellent. For more adult fare, her People of the Great Journey is quite good.
- Born December 2, 1968 — Lucy Liu, 51. She was Joan Watson on Elementary in its impressive seven-year run. Her other genre role, and it’s been long running, has been voicing Tinkermist in the Disney Fairies animated franchise. I kid you not. She’s had a few genre one-offs on The X-Files, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and the Rise: Blood Hunter film, but not much overall.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Lio tells Santa what he wants.
- At Existential Comics, leading philosophers brawl over the implications of “I am no man!”
The original intentions or ideas of the author aren’t necessarily more valid than those of any other interpreter.
(11) WRITER’S WRATH. “HG Wells builds time machine so he can punch whoever was responsible for that adaptation of War of the Worlds” – NewsThump has the story,
Popular Edwardian novelist and inventor of the concept of Time Travel Herbert George Wells has appeared in central London this morning, intending to punch whoever made the BBC adaptation of War of the Worlds squarely on the nose.
Wells, who believed the chances of anyone making a boring adaptation of his masterpiece were a million to one, said ‘but still, it’s done’.
“There was a great disturbance in the… oh, I’m sure you’ll come up with a word for it”, said Wells. “As if millions of my fans voices cried out ‘what the heck’.”
(12) AS OTHERS SEE US. Liberty Island’s Tamara Willhite uncovers a rich vein of fantasy in “An Interview with Author Louis Antonelli”.
Tamara Wilhite: What are you currently working on?
Louis Antonelli: Well, kind of following up the previous question, since the Sad Puppies in 2015 there’s been a pretty ironclad blacklist in the major science fiction magazine and publishers against anyone who isn’t an intolerant doctrinaire left-wing asshole. Nobody denies it anymore, because such assertions only gets the horse laugh.
The only major book publisher that judges authors impartially is Baen; Analog is the one major magazine that seems to pick stories based on merit and not the author’s politics and lifestyle….
(13) POACHING SCIENCE. “Dinosaurs: Restoring Mongolia’s fossil heritage”.
Eighty million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period, Mongolia’s Gobi Desert was a dinosaur’s paradise of vast valleys, freshwater lakes and a humid climate.
Mammal-eating velociraptors, lizard-hipped sauropods and spike-armoured ankylosaurs could have been spotted roaming in what are now the Martian red sandstone spires of Bayanzag’s Flaming Cliffs.
These prehistorically favourable conditions make the Gobi Desert the largest dinosaur fossil reservoir in the world.
Over almost 100 years of palaeontological research in the Gobi, more than 80 genera have been found. But for many people living there, this scientific heritage remains unknown.
“Putting a fence up is not protection; protection is people’s knowledge,” Mongolian palaeontologist Bolortsetseg Minjin explains as we wind through the Flaming Cliffs in search of signs of fossil poaching.
(14) CAN’T DANCE TO IT. “Amazon’s AI musical keyboard ‘sounds terrible'”.
Amazon has unveiled a musical keyboard with a built-in artificial intelligence (AI) composer.
The AWS DeepComposer is a two-octave, 32-key keyboard that can connect to computers via a USB cable.
Users can play a short tune, or use a pre-recorded one, ask the keyboard to embellish it in one of four styles – jazz, classical, rock or pop – and then publish it on Soundcloud.
But one expert said the audio demo provided by Amazon was “terrible”.
(15) INCREDIBLE JOURNEY. BBC follows“India tiger on ‘longest walk ever’ for mate and prey”.
A tiger has undertaken the longest walk ever recorded in India, travelling some 1,300km (807 miles) in five months.
Experts believe the two-and-a-half-year-old male is possibly in search of prey, territory or a mate.
The tiger, which is fitted with a radio collar, left its home in a wildlife sanctuary in the western state of Maharashtra in June.
It was then tracked travelling back and forth over farms, water and highways, and into a neighbouring state.
So far, the tiger has come into conflict with humans only once, when it “accidentally injured” one person who was part of a group that entered a thicket under which it was resting.
(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watched tonight’s Jeopardy! with wrapped attention….
Category: Literary Works of the 1920s.
Answer: “Jane Webb Loudon wrote the 1st novel about one of these creatures, including the line, ‘Weak, feeble worm! Exclaimed Cheops.'”
Wrong question: “What is a Sphinx?”
Correct question: “What is a Mummy?”
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Mushroom Hunters” on YouTube is a poem by Neil Gaiman read by Amanda Palmer, with music by Jherek Bischoff.
[Thanks to Camestros Felapton (Felapton Towers, Bortsworth, Bortsworthshire), John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]