(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present James Patrick Kelly and P. Djéli Clark on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY.
James Patrick Kelly
James Patrick Kelly has won the Nebula, Hugo and Locus Awards; his fiction has been translated into eighteen languages. His most recent books are King Of The Dogs, Queen Of The Cats, a novella from Subterranean Press, and a collection, The Promise of Space from Prime Books.
Phenderson Djéli Clark
Phenderson Djéli Clark is the author of the fantasy novellas The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His writing has appeared in numerous Best of the Year anthologies and his short story “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Negro Teeth of Washington” earned him both a Nebula and Locus award.
(2) SPEAKING OF DOGS AND CATS. James Patrick Kelly has made available as a free download the audiobook version of King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats:
I don’t know about you but I’ve been waiting for a long time for this day. King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats is now available in print and as an ebook from Subterranean Press and I certainly hope you’ll consider buying a copy there. But I’m trying an experiment with the audiobook version. If you’ve followed my career at all, you know that I might have recorded this myself, as I have for many of my other stories. But I’m particularly proud of this work and thought it deserved a truly outstanding performance. Which is why I turned to Stefan Rudnicki of Skyboat Media to record this short novel. Stefan has narrated more than three hundred audiobooks and has participated in over a thousand as a writer, producer, or director. For these efforts he has won a Grammy as well as many Earphone and Audie awards. In short, he’s one of the best.
I took the unusual step of paying to have my audiobook recorded by Stefan because this gives me the right to make it available to you for free. I mean, you could buy it on Audible for twelve bucks and change, but why would you? This is my gift to my readers. But I do have a favor to ask. If you like what you hear, please make copies. Share them with your friends and families. This publishing experiment will only succeed if my book reaches as many listeners as possible. So click on my circus announcement for your download.
(3) PREVIEW EUROCON SITE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here is a short video from the German language cultural TV program “kulturzeit” about the Croatian city of Rijeka, which is the 2020 European Capital of Culture (along with Galway in Ireland) and also the site of the 2020 EuroCon. So if some Filers are considering attending EuroCon, here is a look at what they could see in Rijeka: “Kulturhauptstadt Rijeka”.
The video is in German (and Croatian), but you don’t really need the text anyway.
(4) DATA POINTS. Gizmodo’s James Whitbrook unfolds “A History of Star Trek’s Uneasy Relationship With Androids”.
…Separately, early Trek also featured androids that, while synthetic, were replicas of organic beings instead of their own selves. “I, Mudd” featured a few, notably Mudd’s recreation of his “beloved” wife Stella—but we also had the Exo III androids of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” Even more advanced than the Mudd Androids or Rayna, they couldn’t just deal with emotions but developed their own android duplicator that could create a synthetic copy of an organic being, complete with their memories and personality.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture also gave us a grim form of android in V’Ger’s creation of the Illia Probe, a hybridization of one of its sensor probes with the unfortunate body of the Enterprise’s Lieutenant Illia, using her corpse essentially as a puppet. We also got the inverse of that idea in the Sargon-types of “Return to Tomorrow”—android “shells” designed by the disembodied being Sargon, intended to store the disassociated minds of the last survivors of his race.
(5) LET THE WOOKIE WIN. “All Nerddoms Welcome: The Intergalactic Krewe Of Chewbacchus Parades In New Orleans” — lots of pictures.
In the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras on Feb. 25, the streets of New Orleans are filled with a series of extravagant parades organized by local krewes.
Saturday night’s parade was a glittering, glowing procession of Wookiees, Trekkies, and other self-proclaimed sci-fi geeks and super-nerds: the tenth annual parade of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus.
The krewe’s name is, as you might guess, an irreverent mashup of Chewbacca, the shaggy 8-foot Wookiee from Star Wars, and Bacchus, the Roman god of wine.
“That is a huge part of the krewe: mashups, puns and stacking together things that you love,” said one of the krewe’s captains, Brooke Ethridge, better known as Overlord Padme Almandine.
Richard Riggs, aka Overlord Strangelover, added: “The mission of the krewe is ‘Saving the galaxy one drunken nerd at a time.'”
…When the krewe was formed 10 years ago, it focused on classic sci-fi – Star Trek and Star Wars. But over the years, the boundaries loosened, in a big way.
“We say now, all nerddoms,” Ethridge explained. “So anything that you want to nerd about is welcome in the Chewbacchus parade.”
NPR also devoted a segment to the krewe – the transcript is here: “Nerd Out With Mardi Gras’ Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus”.
BLOCK: This parade marches with wildly elaborate, handmade contraptions propelled by bikes or shopping carts or whatever roles – no combustion engines, though, no people riding on top of floats. They’ve constructed an alien in a gigantic spaceship hovering over a scale model of New Orleans, an old favorite Bar 2-D-2 – there’s a keg inside – and the krewe’s idol, Chewbacchus, a six-armed Wookiee made of Styrofoam. As Overlord Strangelover shows me, Chewie is in full roar riding on top of the starship Millennium Falcon.
RIGGS: Chewbacchus is the sacred drunken Wookiee who we worship. Yes. He is our godhead.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- February 3, 1961 — Twilight Zone‘s “A Penny For Your Thoughts” it was written by George Clayton Johnson who scripted the first broadcast episode of Star Trek called “The Man Trap”. He would script these additional Twilight Zone episodes: “Nothing in the Dark”, “Kick the Can” and “A Game of Pool”. It was directed by James Sheldon, with a rather large cast of Dick York, June Dayton, Dan Tobin, Hayden Rorke, Cyril Delevanti and James Nolan. The opening narration was “Mr. Hector B. Poole, resident of the Twilight Zone. Flip a coin and keep flipping it. What are the odds? Half the time it will come up heads, half the time tails. But in one freakish chance in a million, it’ll land on its edge. Mr. Hector B. Poole, a bright human coin – on his way to the bank.”
- February 3, 1977 — Fantastic Journey premiered on NBC. Intended to run thirteen episodes, it was canceled after nine and a tenth was later shown. It was written by D. C. Fontana et al. while it was directed by Barry Crane and a lot of other folk as well. Its cast was Jared Martin, Ike Eisenmann, Carl Franklin. Katie Saylor and Roddy McDowall. Much of the canceled production team would end up working on the Logan’s Run series. You can see the “Vortex” episode here.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 3, 1925 — John Fiedler. He’s solely here as he played the ever so bland bureaucrat who gets possessed by the spirit of Jack the Ripper on the Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”. I’m less interested in him than who wrote that screenplay. It was written by Robert Bloch, a master of horror who would write two other Trek episodes, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and “Catspaw”. (Died 2005.)
- Born February 3, 1933 — George Gipe. Screenwriter, The Man with Two Brains. He also wrote Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid but it’d be a stretch to consider that even genre adjacent. He wrote novelizations of Back to the Future, Explorers and Gremlins. And his Nearer to the Dust: Copyright and the Machine is interesting early (mid Sixties) look at the potential effects of computers on copyrights. (Died 1986.)
- Born February 3, 1938 — Victor Buono. I remember him best in his recurring role of Count Manzeppi in The Wild Wild West. In his very short life, he showed up in a number of other genre roles as well including as a scientist bent on world domination in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in an episode titled “The Cyborg”, as Adiposo / Fat man in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Colonel Hubris in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Professor William McElroy / King Tut in Batman, Sir Cecil Seabrook in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and Mr. Schubert on Man from Atlantis. (Died 1982.)
- Born February 3, 1954 — Shawna McCarthy, 66. Editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction from 1983 to 1985, and Realms of Fantasy from 1994 to 2011. Sheila Williams in her history of the former said “While remaining a welcoming home for new writers, Shawna’s Asimov’s acquired an edgier and more literary and experimental tone.”
- Born February 3, 1963 — Alex Bledsoe, 57. I highly recommend his Tales of The Tufa which can sort of be described as Appalachian Fae though that’s stretching it. His Eddie LaCrosse novels remind of Cook’s Garrett PI series and that’s a high compliment as that’s one of my favorite fantasy PI series. Anyone read his Firefly Witch series?
- Born February 3, 1970 — Warwick Davis, 50. Nearly fifty live and voice appearances since first appearing in the Return of the Jedi in in place of Kenny Baker who was going to be an Ewok before he fell ill. Did you know he’s in Labyrinth as a member of the Goblin Corps? I certainly didn’t. Or that he did a series of humorous horror films centered around him as a Leprechaun? They did well enough that there was six of them. Hell, he even shows up in Doctor Who during the time of the Eleventh Doctor.
- Born February 3, 1979 — Ransom Riggs, 41. He’s best known for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which I’ll confess I know absolutely nothing about, so educate me. I know it was turned into a film by Tim Burton which could a Very Good Thing. His first book btw was The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: The Methods and Mysteries of the World’s Greatest Detective.
- Born February 3, 1980 — Ben Turner, 40. Louis XV In the Tenth Doctor story, “The Girl in the Fireplace”. He’s also General Artaphernes in 300: The Rise of An Empire which is very loosely based on historical fact, and Achilles in The Iliad at Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.
(8) FLAME ON. At SYFY Wire “Locke & Key’s Joe Hill shares the ‘smoking rejection’ he got after pitching Doctor Who”.
Hill’s been making the rounds lately to promote the new Locke & Key Netflix series and his Hill House line of horror comics for DC — check out SYFY WIRE’s interview with Hill about his new comic Plunge right here — and that included a recent stop at Brian Keene’s The Horror Show podcast. Near the end of the show, while talking about projects that might have been, Hill mentioned his deep love of Doctor Who and his fond memories of watching the David Tennant era of the legendary BBC series with his children. Then he revealed that he actually tried to pitch several story ideas to the show at one point, with a little help from one of Doctor Who‘s most famous contributors….
(9) WISHES. Frank Olynyk spotted this little note on a bottle of Acai water and, realizing it is probably of genre interest, sent photos. The complete label is shown in the second image.
(10) LOCAL HERO. “Google Doodle celebrates Scots scientist Mary Somerville”.
Scots scientist Mary Somerville is being celebrated with a Google Doodle on its UK homepage.
The firm said it wanted to honour “one of the greatest intellectual writers of the 19th Century”.
The illustration of the Jedburgh-born mathematician and astronomer will appear on the page for 24 hours.
Google said her books were some of the most popular scientific publications of her time “opening the door for generations of female scientists”.
Somerville enjoyed similar recognition a few years ago when it was announced she would appear on the new Royal Bank of Scotland £10 note.
The company said it wanted to recognise her “immense contribution to science and her determination to succeed against all the odds”.
Who was Mary Somerville?
Mary Fairfax Somerville was a mathematician, geographer and astronomer, who was born in 1780 in Jedburgh but her childhood home was at Burntisland in Fife.
Her parents tried to stop her studying because they thought it would kill her. Her sister had died and they thought studying was to blame.
But Mary ploughed on and carried out detailed and highly-accurate studies of the solar system.
(11) ISLE BE SEEING YOU. “The divers rescuing a drowning island” – BBC has the story.
Vaan Island in India’s Gulf of Mannar has been rapidly disappearing into the Laccadive Sea. But a team of marine biologists is working to save it.
Hundreds of fishing boats bob on the bright blue waters surrounding Vaan Island, a tiny strip of land between India and Sri Lanka. The island marks the beginning of a fiercely protected fragile zone, the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve. These waters are home to India’s most varied and biodiverse coastlines. Teeming with marine life, it is home to 23% of India’s 2,200 fin fish species, 106 species of crab and more than 400 species of molluscs, as well as the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, the finless porpoise and the humpback whale.
…The reason that small, ecologically rich islands like Vaan are vanishing is a combination of unsustainable fishing practices, rising sea levels due to climate change and historic coral mining, which has now been banned in the area. Artificial reefs were deployed to help buffer waves reaching the islands, and they were effective. But to give Vaan and its neighbours a longer-term future, the ecosystem as a whole needed replenishing.
Gilbert Mathews, a marine biologist at the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI) in the nearby coastal town of Thuthukudi in southern India, turned to seagrass, a plain and innocuous-looking type of marine plant, as a way to save the island ecosystem. Often mistaken for seaweed, seagrasses are plants that grow underwater and have well-defined roots, stems and leaves. They produce flowers, fruits and seeds, and play a vital role in maintaining a marine ecosystem.
“Like corals, these tufts of grass provide a habitat to many splendorous sea-creatures, such as seahorses and lizard fish, which can be found in seagrass throughout the year,” says Mathews. Seagrass provides the right environment for young fish and invertebrates to conceal themselves, while absorbing dissolved carbon dioxide and creating an oxygen and nutrient-rich environment. With its ability to trap sediments, seagrass also acts as a natural filter, clearing the waters and slowing erosion.
Mathews first surveyed the seagrass around Vaan Island in 2008, diving into the shallow waters twice a month, for up to eight hours a day. With a sense of dismay, he saw many tufts of seagrass floating in the water around him. These islands were home to the most luxuriant seagrass meadows of the Indian sub-continent, but they were coming loose.
(12) WANDERING STARS. “Mercury: How to spot the planet in the night sky in February”
…Mercury will be visible in the evening, around 35 to 40 minutes after sunset.
You don’t need a telescope to spot it – you should be able to see it with your eyes.
Mercury will be visible very near to the horizon. To make sure you’re looking in the right direction, it’s recommended that you look for the planet Venus, shining very brightly nearby.
Once you’ve spotted that, look to the lower right and you’ll come to Mercury.
(13) BEFORE HE WAS JAWS. The actor, that is, not the collector — “Meet Ed Montalvo Extra: Autographed Kanamit Doll” – a video interview with the owner of a fabulous Twilight Zone collection.
Richard Kiel, the towering actor who played James Bond’s nemesis Jaws, signed this bobblehead based on his Twilight Zone character Kanamit, the alien in “To Serve Man.”
(14) MULAN. Walt Disney Studios dropped the final trailer for the live-action Mulan remake.
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]