(1) MAKE IT SO. Entertainment Weekly brings word that “All episodes of Star Trek: Picard are now free to non-subscribers”.
More entertainment fodder for your shelter-in-place: Star Trek: Picard is now free to non-subscribers to CBS All Access.
Or, put more accurately: Non-paid subscribers. You’ll still have to sign up for the CBS streaming service to watch the show, but now there’s a coupon code that unlocks Picard: “GIFT.”
There are nine episodes from the show’s first season available now, and the season finale drops on Thursday.
(2) SIT LIKE A CAPTAIN. While you’re binge-watching, you might think about refurnishing your living room with an assortment of the “Commercially Available Chairs in Star Trek”.
Countless off-the-shelf office chairs, lounge chairs or car seats appeared in Star Trek productions. Here is a list of the models that we identified, among them many design classics.
See also a list of unidentified chairs and help us track their origin.
(3) WISCON. Today this year’s WisCon was cancelled:
We are currently working on an online event to replace it — a WisCOnline, if you will. More details will be coming in a second blog post by next Monday (March 30).
WisCon 45, in May 2021, will be a banger, with all the elements of WisCon 44 that we are unable to carry off online, as well as all of the normal elements of WisCon 45! More details will be coming soon on W45 as we confirm them; watch this space!
(4) TOLKIEN READING DAY IS MARCH 25. Actors, scholars and fans will participate in the livestreamed Tolkien Reading Day tomorrow. The Tolkien Collector’s Guide tells where to link up and who’ll be reading. The participants’ schedule is at the link (scroll down).
The live streaming event will take place on Discord, a wonderful service for audio and text chatting – a free account will be needed to participate. The link you will need for the event is https://discord.gg/ZJfh7xD if you want to participate in the live text chat or want to be a reader. If you just want to listen, the live stream should be available on YouTube, thanks to the excellent support of the German Tolkien Society (Deutsche Tolkien Gessellshaft e.V.) – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCerbg8qXXeiQEvxq7u6Kz6w
You are welcome to join in at any time, though there will not be any scheduled readings until March 25th. If you would like to schedule a time to read something, please contact me through private message and we will work it out. Open mic readings will take place all day long as well if you just want to drop in.
Some of the guest readers will be: Marcel Aubron-Bülles, Dr. Luke Shelton, John Garth, Carl Hostetter, Dr. Andrew Higgins, Jason Fisher, Brian Sibley, Chica Chubb (Japan), Dr. Sara Brown, Stephen Hunter (“Bombur” in The Hobbit movies), Bruce Hopkins (“Gamling” in The Lord of the Rings movies), Ted Nasmith, Verlyn Flieger, and Dr. Una McCormack
(5) KAYMAR. Fan artist Jose Sanchez is the winner of the 2020 Kaymar Award, given by the National Fantasy Fan Federation.
Jose’s artistic contributions have added brilliance to the covers of the N3F’s magazines, including N’APA, Tightbeam, and Eldritch Science. Three cheers for Jose’s contributions! And may they long continue!
(6) POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE INFLUENCES. In “How N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became came to be”, Entertainment Weekly interviews he author about influences on the work.
Jemisin cites the recent debates over the World Fantasy Award (which has traditionally been shaped as a bust of H.P. Lovecraft despite the “Call of Cthulhu” author’s public record of vile racism) as one of the main inspirations for The City We Became. That aforementioned “otherworldly threat” facing New York resembles both Lovecraft’s work and his life. The Enemy, as the characters refer to their many-headed foe, sometimes appears in the form of strange tentacled monsters (very reminiscent of Lovecraft’s signature Great Old Ones), but other times disguise themselves in human form as white gentrifiers and alt-right racists. Lovecraft himself lived in New York for a time, and documented in letters how repellent he found the city’s signature mix of people from all ethnicities and walks of life.
“It’s basically me mentally and spiritually engaging with the whole idea of how so much fantasy owes itself to Lovecraft, while overlooking his glaring flaws,” Jemisin says. “I also read some of his letters where you can see him just being horrifically racist, using the same language to refer to people in New York City the same way he refers to the Great Old Ones and Nyarlathotep and all the other creations of his. It’s kind of a deep dive into how pathological racists think. You cannot read Lovecraft without understanding that this is what’s in Stephen Miller’s head. There are all these people out there who sadly and horrifyingly now have positions of power, and they think of their fellow human beings this way.”
(7) UDERZO OBIT. Albert Uderzo (co-creator of Asterix) has died at 92 according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Astérix, which has a cult following, particularly in Europe, has also become a major film franchise, both in animated and live-action form. The property has spawned a number of cinematic adaptations, most notably 1999’s Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar, starring Gerard Depardieu and Roberto Benigni.
Asterix debuted in October 1959 in the French magazine Pilote, created by René Goscinny and Uderzo. Two years later, the first stand-alone effort, Astérix the Gaul, was released. Since then, the series has gone on to sell more than 380 million copies, translated into more than 100 languages internationally. The duo collaborated on the comic until the death of Goscinny in 1977. Uderzo then took over the writing until 2009.
The Guardian accompanied its main obituary (“Asterix creator Albert Uderzo dies at 92”) with two sidebar articles about the comic and its creators:
- “Asterix: a world of joyful innocence born in the aftermath of war”
- “Illustrator Albert Uderzo drew me in to Asterix’s world with deftness and care”
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- March 24, 1946 — The Shadow’s “The Walking Corpse” first aired. Like most of The Shadow stories aired after the brief glorious run of Orson Welles as The Shadow in the Thirties, little is known about who was involved it in though it is known that Eric Walker was the writer. We were unable to pin down who were the actors involved, nor who the sponsors were. If you listen to the episode, do tell us what you find out!
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 24, 1834 — William Morris. Credited with creating the modern fantasy literature genre, he certainly wrote some of its earlier works, to note his epic poem The Earthly Paradise, The Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World’s End, plus his entire artistic motif fits nearly within a fantasy literature and artistic design that looks as if it was created by the Fey Themselves. All of his works can be found at the usual digital suspects, often at no cost. (Died 1896.)
- Born March 24, 1874 — Harry Houdini. His literary career intersects the genre world in interesting ways. Though it’s not known which, many of his works were written by his close friend Walter B. Gibson who as you know is the creator of The Shadow. And one famous story of his, “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs”, was actually ghost-written by Lovecraft! ISFDB lists another piece of genre fiction for him, “The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstad.” (Died 1926.)
- Born March 24, 1897 — Theodora Kroeber. Mother of Ursula K. Le Guin. Anthropologist. Ishi in Two Worlds is the work she’s most remembered for. ISFDB lists her as having but one genre work, a children book titled Carrousel with illustrations by Douglas Tait. (Died 1979.)
- Born March 24, 1924 — Peter George. Welsh author, most remembered for the late Fifties Red Alert novel, published first as Two Hours To Doom and written under the name of Peter Bryant. The book was the basis of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (Died 1966.)
- Born March 24, 1930 — Steve McQueen. He got his big break by being the lead, Steve Andrews, in The Blob. Setting aside the two different roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents he had which are at least genre adjacent, The Blob is his only genre appearance in his brief life. (Died 1980.)
- Born March 24, 1941 — Henry Glassie, 79. Folklorist who’s the author of one of my all-time fav Christmas books, All Silver and No Brass: An Irish Christmas Mumming. I was delighted to see that ISFDB say he has two works of genre fiction, “Coals on the Devil’s Hearth“ and “John Brodison and the Policeman”. Both are to be found in the Jane Yolen anthology, Favorite Folktales from Around the World which is available at all the usual digital suspects.
- Born March 24, 1946 — Gary K. Wolfe, 74. Monthly reviewer for Locus for twenty-seven years now and yes, I enjoy his column a lot. His brief marriage to Ellen R. Weil which ended with her tragic early death resulted in them co-writing Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. Old Earth Books has reprinted many of his reviews done between 1992 and 2006 in Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996. He’s also written several critical looks at the genre, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction.
- Born March 24, 1946 — Andrew I. Porter, 74. Editor, publisher, fan. Major member of NYC regional fandom starting in the early Sixties. APA publisher and edition in mind boggling numbers with Algol: The Magazine About Science Fiction which became Starship. He won a Hugo for Best Fanzine in 1974, in a tie with Richard E. Geis. who was doing SFR. He sold Science Fiction Chronicle which he founded in May 1980 to DNA Publications in May 2000 and was fired in 2002. Algol/Starship lasted less than five years despite the exceedingly superb reading it was. He has won myriad awards, including the Big Heart Award at a recent Worldcon. He has attended hundreds of science fiction conventions and nearly forty Worldcons since his first in ‘63. He was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1990 Worldcon.
- Born March 24, 1949 — Tabitha King, 71. Wife of Stephen, mother of that writing brood. I met her but once on the lot of the original Pet Sematary a very long time ago. ISFDB to my surprise lists only two novels she’s written solely by herself, Small World and Wolves at the Door, and one with Michael McDowell, Candles Burning. None of her books are with her husband which surprised me.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Lio explains to us why some aliens might wish to visit our planet:
- Half Full, using a Batman reference, proves again that English is a funny language.
- The Argyle Sweater has a horror, and horrible, pun.
- Grant Snider’s cartoon is not genre, but is apropos to the times.
(11) CALLING SHORT ORDER COOKS. The editorial team of Journey Planet is looking for articles, artwork, creative writing, or anything printable for their upcoming issue dedicated to DC’s Swamp Thing. Anything related to that character in comics, film, and television — live action or animated — is all good. They’ve received great submissions already. They’d like yours as well. Send entries to Chuck Serface at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 1, 2020. The issue will appear shortly thereafter.
(12) FREE BOOK OFFER. To encourage folks to STAY AT HOME, Black Coat Press is now offering one free book to anyone who will write to them and request one! You have a choice between four titles:
- TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN (VOLUME 1) (pulp literature)
- THE ZOMBIES OF NEW ORLEANS (aka THE KATRINA PROTOCOL) (horror)
- THE ORIGINAL BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (fantasy)
- HEXAGON: DARK MATTER (superhero/sf)
Send them an email at email@example.com telling (1) which title you desire, and (2) if you want to receive it as a PDF or an EPUB file. That’s all! No strings! No archiving of email addresses! Please stay home!
(13) THE ROOTS OF HORROR. The Horror Writers Association is rolling out a “Haunted Library of Horror Classics”.
The Horror Writers Association (HWA) and Poisoned Pen Press, an imprint of SourceBooks, present the Haunted Library of Horror Classics, a line of reissued classic horror literature books from over the past 250 years. These books are recognized as literary masterpieces of their era and are either remembered today only through distorted theatrical or movie versions, have been relegated to academic study, or have otherwise been nearly forgotten entirely.
- The Phantom of the Opera
- The Beetle
- The House on the Borderland
- The Parasite and Other Tales of Terror
- The King in Yellow
- Of One Blood: or, The Hidden Self
- Ghost Stories of an Antiquary
- The Castle of Otranto
- The Mummy!
- The Picture of Dorian Gray
(14) IT’S A LONG WAY FROM AMPHIOXUS. Earlier than even the earliest bird — “Fossil worm shows us our evolutionary beginnings”.
A worm-like creature that burrowed on the seafloor more than 500 million years ago may be key to the evolution of much of the animal kingdom.
The organism, about the size of a grain of rice, is described as the earliest example yet found in the fossil record of a bilaterian
These are animals that have a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and openings at either end joined by a gut.
The discovery is described in the journal PNAS.
The scientists behind it say the development of bilateral symmetry was a critical step in the evolution of animal life.
It gave organisms the ability to move purposefully and a common, yet successful way to organize their bodies.
A multitude of animals, from worms to insects to dinosaurs to humans, are organised around this same basic bilaterian body plan.
Scott Evans, of the University of California at Riverside, and colleagues have called the organism Ikaria wariootia.
(15) NOT JUST HAMBURGERS. “Could synthetic fish be a better catch of the day?” It’s not impossible…
…”Simply put, we are running out of fish,” says Daniel Pauly, a professor of fisheries at the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia. “And the situation, the trend line, is getting worse every year.”
“Maybe centuries ago we could live off hunting for our food but we can’t live off hunting today and fishing is hunting. The notion of hunting in the 21st century to feed 10 billion people is absurd.”
A handful of start-up firms think they might have the answer. They are experimenting with growing fish “meat” in the lab.
Mainly based in Silicon Valley with a couple in Europe and Asia, they have developed techniques to extract fish stem cells and grow them into commercial quantities of edible flesh.
Stem cells are a type of cell, found in embryos or adult creatures – which can grow into a number of different specialised cells. They can grow into the muscle cells which make up most the parts of fish people like to eat.
(16) SORRY, WRONG NUMBER. Here’s how NASA dresses up its 404 error messages.
They’ve also released “The Jedi Went Down to Tattooine” –
What happens when you mix The Phantom Menace with Charlie Daniels? An outer rim ho-down, ya’ll. Strap in and enjoy this before the mouse yeets it.
(18) JIM BUTCHER DOUBLE PLAY. A new trailer for Peace Talks (the next Dresden) just came out — and at about the 1:49 mark of the trailer comes the announcement that another new Dresden, called Battle Ground, will be coming out in September of this year.
PEACE TALKS by Jim Butcher, Book 16 of the five-time #1 NYT Bestselling Dresden Files book series. Coming July 14th in hardcover, ebook, and audio formats from Penguin Random House.
And if that’s not enough for you, Andrew Liptak has rounded up “More Details From Jim Butcher and Priscilla Spencer on The Dresden Files Short Film and Surprise Book Announcement” at Tor.com.
[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Dann, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Chuck Serface, Nina Shepardson, Darrah Chavey, Daniel Dern, Danny Sichel, Paul Di Filippo, Contrarius, and birthday boy Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]