(1) DANK DAIRY. Nature gets into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day in its own idiocyncratic way with publication of this research: “Four millennia of dairy surplus and deposition revealed through compound-specific stable isotope analysis and radiocarbon dating of Irish bog butters”.
Bog butters are large, white to yellow waxy deposits regularly recovered from the peat bogs of Ireland and Scotland, often found in wooden containers or wrapped in bark or animal membranes (Fig. 1). With recorded weights of up to 23?kg (and several examples that may be larger), bog butters were first documented in the 17th century; the total number recovered to date may approach 500 specimens1,2. Published radiocarbon determinations on Irish bog butters show activity spanning the Iron Age to the post-medieval period3,4 with folk accounts indicating survival into the 19th century5,6. While the reasons behind their deposition continue to be debated1,2, the remarkable preservative properties of peat bogs are well known7 and several post-medieval accounts mention the practice of storing butter in bogs to be consumed at a later date, whether by necessity or as a delicacy8,9,10. Early medieval Irish law tracts list butter as one of the products payable as food rents11, which may have needed to be stockpiled or stored. Parallels have also been drawn with the widespread deposition of metal and other objects in wetlands during the Bronze Age and Iron Age, often assumed to be votive or ritual acts….
(2) CLOSE GUESSES. The New York Times Book Review has two articles on world-building in speculative fiction this week:
“Ours is a world of laws—and given available evidence, so are all other worlds.
As they build their wild what ifs, the authors of speculative fiction draft legislation: They draw up regulations and establish cabinet agencies and sub-agencies, often employing a diction eerily reminiscent of real-life government and politics—the eeriness being very much the point.”
- “When Science Fiction Comes True” by Namwali Serpell
Maybe because we’re living in a dystopia, it feels as if we’ve become obsessed with prophecy as of late. Protest signs at the 2017 Women’s March read “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again!” and “Octavia Warned Us”…
In “The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered The World,” Thomas Disch calls this relay between fiction and reality “creative visualization.”
(3) FIRE IN THE WHOLE. Steven Zeitchik says in the Washington Post that tensions are rising between the Writers Guild of America (East) & Writers Guild of America (West) and the Association of Talent Agents because the writers think the agents are forming production companies and not being fair to the writers. He says if the agents and writers don’t negotiate a new “artists manager basic agreement” about fee sharing by April 6, the result could be a mass firing by the 20,000 WGA members of their agents. “Hollywood agents and writers meet, but impasse remains”.
…The writers say they do not wish to renew the franchise agreement without significant revisions. They want new units that the agencies created to function as production companies to instead be formally carved out as separate entities. At present those units exist more as extensions of the agencies, which the writers say ups the possibility for conflicts of interest.
The also want to overhaul the main ways agents collect money on writers’ work. At the moment those revenue are dominated not by standard commissions from clients but by packaging fees, in which studios pay the agents for putting together the creative elements of a show. Those fees, the writers say, encourage agents to act against their own clients’ interests and also allow them to dip into a pool of revenue that should go to creators.
The agencies, particularly the Big Four — CAA, WME, UTA and ICM — that are leading the fight, say that the writers are working under false assumptions. Packaging fees and new entities offer riches to both parties, they say, especially as the media companies with which they are negotiating are growing larger and more vertical.
(4) FOR MEMORY CARE. The GoFundMe for Gahan Wilson has raised $52,175 of its $100,000 goal in the first 14 days. More than a thousand people have donated.
(5) NOT SAFE FOR WHATEVER. [Item by Dann.] Netflix recently released their series of sci-fi/fantasy/horror animated short files under the title Love, Death + Robots. The collection features 10-20 minute long films based on genre stories. Original story authors include John Scalzi, Marko Kloos, Joe Lansdale, and Ken Liu.
The collection is billed as an “NSFW anthology”. It generally lives up to that appellation. The films range from mildly questionable language to full-on body dismemberment to sexually explicit content (voluntary and otherwise). The use of felines periodically borders on being questionable.
Tim Miller, director of Deadpool, leads the effort. He is also an executive producer. Miller and David Fincher have been credited with developing the anthology as a sort of modern version of Heavy Metal magazine.
The collection is part of Netflix’s effort to create unique content. Many recently released titles feature genre based stories. Not unlike Amazon’s influence on the increasing number of sub-novel length works, might this development be a signal of technology changing markets to allow a range of video productions other than long format movies or shorter format TV series?
Is there a Hugo worthy animated short in this anthology? Only people living in 2020 know for certain.
Cartoonist Tom K. Ryan, who gave us the syndicated strip Tumbleweeds has passed at the age of 92…actually, about 92.8. His popular western-themed comic made its debut in September of 1965 and lasted until the end of 2007 when Ryan decided he was getting too old to continue it. A run of 42+ years is pretty impressive in any industry. Like most cartoonists, Ryan was aided by occasional assistants, one of whom — a fellow named Jim Davis — did okay for himself when he struck out on his own and created Garfield.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 17, 1846 — Kate Greenaway. Victorian artist and writer, largely known today for her children’s book illustrations. So popular was she and her work that the very popular Kate Greenaway Almanacks appeared every year from 1883 to 1895. Among her best-known works was her edition of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rosa Mulholland’s Puck and Blossom and Bret Harte’s Pirate Isle. (Died 1901.)
- Born March 17, 1906 — Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role a an actress, she played two roles, Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch. Oddly enough I’ve not seen it, so do render your opinions on it please. She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and in particular attacking Jewish financial speculators. (Died 1996.)
- Born March 17, 1945 — Tania Lemani, 74. She played Kara in the Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”. She first met Shatner when she was offered her a role in the pilot for Alexander the Great, starring him in the title role (although the pilot failed to be picked up as a series). She had parts in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Bionic Woman and she shows up in the fanfic video Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. I assume as Kara, though IMDb lists her as herself.
- Born March 17, 1947 — James K. Morrow, 72. I’m very fond of the Godhead trilogy in which God is Dead and very, very present. Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a lot of satisfying satirical fun as is The Madonna and the Starship which is also is a wonderful homage to pulp writers.
- Born March 17, 1948 — William Gibson, 71. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. The works I struggled with are Pattern Recognition, Spook Country and Zero History. I’ve tried all of them, none were appealing. Eh?
- Born March 17, 1949 — Patrick Duffy, 70. Surely you’ve seen him on Man from Atlantis? No? Oh, you missed a strange, short-lived show. His other genre credits are a delightfully mixed bag of such things as voicing a Goat on Alice in Wonderland, appearing on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne as Duke Angelo Rimini in the “Rockets of the Dead” episode and voicing Steve Trevor in the incredibly excellent “The Savage Time” three-parter on Justice League.
- Born March 17, 1951 — Kurt Russell, 68. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good.
- Born March 17, 1958 — Christian Clemenson, 61. Though I’m reasonably sure his first genre appearance was on the Beauty and The Beast series, his first memorable appearance was on the BtVS episode “Bad Girls” as a obscenely obese demon named Balthazar. Lots of practical effects were used. His other significant genre role was on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. as fish way out of the water Eastern lawyer Socrates Poole. And yes, I loved that series!
- Born March 17, 1962 — Clare Grogan, 57. On the Red Dwarf series as the first incarnation of Kristine Kochanski. Anyone here watch it? One truly weird series! She really doesn’t have much of any acting career and her genre career is quite short otherwise, a stint in an episode on Sea of Souls, a Scots ghost chasing series, is it.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Tom the Dancing Bug finds humor in explaining why some time travelers hold no terrors for Americans of the 1950s.
(9) FRANSON AWARDS. National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) President George Phillies has picked three recipients for this year’s Franson Awards, named for the late Donald Franson, and given as a show of appreciation:
As your President, it is my privilege and honor to bestow the N3F President’s Award on our three art-ists, who have been doing so much to beautify our N3F zines. Please join me in thanking Angela K Scott, Jose Sanchez, and Cedar Sanderson for what they have done for our Federation.
(10) BEEP BEEP. MovieWeb is there when “Revenge of the Sith Deleted Scene of Anakin Speaking Droid Goes Viral”.
An old deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith where Anakin speaks droid has started to gain popularity online. Some Star Wars fans are having a hard time believing that the scene is real, which makes sense in an age where deleted scenes are practically a thing of the past. Over the years, the prequels have been looked at in a better light by a younger generation that grew up with those three installments being the first Star Wars movies that they saw.
…While it is a bit of a silly scene, it does probably point Obi-Wan in the direction to learn droid. In A New Hope, he can understand R2D2, so the scene could have served a purpose had it been left in. But it’s a little on the silly side because these are powerful Jedi that we’re talking about here. They should, at the very least, know how to talk to a droid before levitating rocks and using Jedi mind tricks. Whatever the case may be, the scene was left on the cutting room floor and thrown on the DVD.
(11) NOW, VOYAGER. Slate tells why “It Was a Big Week in Politics for Star Trek: Voyager Fans”.
When it comes to ‘90s-era Star Trek series, Voyager doesn’t always get its due, maybe because it couldn’t quite live up to the high standard set by The Next Generation or because it lacked the gravitas and daring of Deep Space Nine. (Or maybe it’s just because we’re all trying to avoid thinking too hard about the events of “Threshold.”) Still, Voyager stayed true to Star Trek’s overarching spirit of exploration and cooperation, forcing two very different groups of people to work together to survive and testing the characters’ utopian ideals by stranding them far from the safety of the Federation. Plus, the series was the first in the franchise to be led by a female captain, Kathryn Janeway, played by the dynamic Kate Mulgrew.
The show’s lasting influence can be felt in two stories from this week about prominent Democratic politicians, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stacey Abrams, both of whom are fans of Voyager and, in particular, its lead character. The first surprise nod to Trek in the political sphere came from the Daily Mail’s unexpectedly wholesome interview with Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, who described how Voyager became a portent of her daughter’s future success.
[…] The other Voyager shoutout appeared in the New York Times on Thursday in a story with the headline “Stacey Abrams, Star Trek Nerd, Is Traveling at Warp Speed.” In quotes from a previously unpublished interview from last summer, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate says that while The Next Generation is her favorite series, she “reveres Admiral Janeway.” She also shows off her good taste in Trek by picking a Voyager episode, “Shattered,” as a favorite. […]
(12) A LORD AND LADY. PopSugar already knows our answer is “Yes!” — “Tell Me Something, Droid . . . Are You Ready For a Star Wars “Shallow” Parody?”
A Star Wars Is Born . . . How did I not see this coming? The Star Wars and A Star Is Born universes finally collided to pay tribute to two fan-favorite ships in a Nerdist parody music video. If Ally and Jackson were transported to a galaxy far, far, away, perhaps their version of “Shallow” would’ve ended up a little like Kylo Ren and Rey’s.
(13) HARLEY QUINN. SYFY Wire eavesdrops as “Kaley Cuoco shares new glimpse of Harley Quinn animated series”.
When DC first announced its new service, it treated fans with an influx of announcements. Not only would they be able to stream classics like Batman: The Animated Series, but they received a plethora of original programming. […] Coming soon to the network will be Harley Quinn, an animated series featuring the voices of Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) as Harley and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) as the Joker.
Other than the trailer released at NYCC, we’ve haven’t seen much else in regard to everyone’s favorite psychopath with a heart of gold. That is until Cuoco took to Instagram and posted some shots from her voice sessions.
(14) ORCISH LAWYERS. “Fearing a trademark lawsuit, Bucksport’s ‘Hobbit Hill’ farm agrees to change name” – the Bangor Daily News has the story.
When Kevin and Mandy Wheaton opened their farm off Ledgewood Drive last April, they couldn’t see anybody having a problem with the name they gave it:
Hobbit Hill Homestead.
“I thought a Hobbit was a small, woodland creature with giant hairy feet, and they were fun-loving and liked to smoke their little pipes,” Mandy Wheaton said, “like a gnome or a leprechaun.”
Well, it turns out that somebody did have a problem with the Wheatons using the name Hobbit — Middle-earth Enterprises.
That’s the California company that owns worldwide rights to trademarked terms within British author J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world, including “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” It’s an arm of The Saul Zaentz Co., which produced the animated 1978 “Lord of the Rings” film.
(15) NO BADGES HERE. Not even B. Traven could save this issue? Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus pans the latest (in 1964) issue of F&SF, which includes a story by the writer:“[March 17, 1964] It’s all Downhill(April 1964 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”. (Traven wrote the novel that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is based on.)
A friend of mine inquired about an obscure science fiction story the other day. She expressed surprise that I had, in fact, read it, and wondered what my criteria were for choosing my reading material. I had to explain that I didn’t have any: I read everything published as science fiction and/or fantasy.
My friend found this refrain from judgment admirable. I think it’s just a form of insanity, particularly as it subjects me to frequent painful slogs. For instance, this month’s Fantasy and Science Fiction continues the magazine’s (occasionally abated) slide into the kaka. With the exception of a couple of pieces, it’s bad. Beyond bad — dull….
FLING THAT THING. Comic Books vs The World calls them “giant death frisbees” in “Every MCU Captain America Shield Explained.”
He may not have been in action in the Marvel Cinematic Universe all that much, but Captain America’s had a bunch of different shields over the years. Let’s look over the timeline of the MCU and see what all he’s used so far!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who just saw Captain Marvel.]