(1) FEELING FELINE. Beware “Timothy’s Spoiler Filled Review of Captain Marvel” at Camestros Felapton.
[From the desk of the CEO of Cattimothy Media dot Org] This is Marvel’s second cat led superhero movie. Black Panther was a bit disappointing as they cast a human in the key role of the Black Panther. Disappointing but understandable given that big cats have been boycotting Hollywood ever since the tiger in Life of Pi didn’t get their fair share of the royalties.
Goose is a superhero cat who is a regular cat and also an alien cat….
(2) SURVIVORS. Aniara, based on a 1956 poem by Swedish Nobel Prize-winning author Harry Martinson, opensin theaters and on demand May 17.
A spaceship carrying settlers to a new home in Mars after Earth is rendered uninhabitable, only to be knocked off course.
(3) ATWOOD’S NEW BOOK. “Atwood to launch The Handmaid’s Tale sequel with live broadcast” – they’re making it into a big media event reports The Guardian.
Margaret Atwood is to mark the publication of her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale with a midnight launch in London on 9 September followed by a live interview at the National Theatre broadcast around the world.
There will also be a six-date tour of the UK and Ireland.
The rock-star arrangements reflect just how anticipated publication of her book, The Testaments, is. It will be set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, and returns readers to life in Gilead, a theocratic dictatorship with its roots in 17th century Puritanism that has replaced the United States’ liberal democracy. It is a place where women have almost no rights and are used as enslaved breeding vessels.
(4) NORSTRILIA. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus, while at a comic fest in Southern California, paused to read the current (1964!) issue of Galaxy and review Cordwainer Smith’s latest: “[March 9, 1964] Deviant from the Norm (April 1964 Galaxy)”.
25 years ago, a group of fen met in New York for the first World’s Science Fiction Convention. Now, conclaves are springing up all over the nation (and internationally, too). Just this weekend, I attended a small event ambitiously titled San Diego Comic Fest. It was a kind of “Comics-in,” where fans of the funny pages could discuss their peculiar interests: Is Superman better than Batman? Are the X-Men and the Doom Patrol related? Is Steve Ditko one of the best comics artists ever?
…For years, Cordwainer Smith has teased us with views of his future tales of the Instrumentality, the rigid, computer-facilitated government of Old Earth. We’ve learned that there are the rich humans, whose every whim is catered to. Beneath them, literally, are the Underpeople — animals shaped into human guise (a la Dr. Moreau) who live in subterranean cities. A giant tower, miles high, launches spaceships to the heavens, spreading the Instrumentality to the hundreds of settled stars of the galaxy. All but one, the setting of Smith’s newest book.
(5) SF IN CHINA. Will Dunn analyzes “How Chinese novelists are reimagining science fiction” at New Statesman America.
One afternoon in June 1999, more than three million Chinese schoolchildren took their seats for the Gaokao, the country’s national college entrance exam. Essay subjects in previous years had been patriotic – “the most touching scene from the Great Leap Forward” (1958) – or prosaic –“trying new things” (1994) – but the final essay question of the millennium was a vision of the future: “what if memories could be transplanted?”
Chen Quifan, who is published in the West as Stanley Chen, says this was the moment that modern Chinese science fiction was born. “Earlier that year,” he explains to me in the offices of his London publisher, “there was a feature on the same topic in the biggest science fiction magazine in China, Science Fiction World. It was a coincidence, but a lot of parents then thought, OK – reading science fiction can help my children go to a good college.”
The magazine’s circulation exploded, as hundreds of thousands of new readers began to explore a genre that had previously been classified as children’s literature. Among those readers were Chen and other aspiring writers who would go on to submit stories to the magazine, and eventually to publish novels. This new generation of sci-fi authors has become hugely popular in China and, increasingly, around the world.
(6) MOON MEMORIES. Leonard Maltin has a personal review of this one: “Apollo 11: Reliving A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience”.
I was a teenager when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in the summer of 1969 and, like millions of people around the world, I will never forget that moment. I can only guess how this film will play to viewers who didn’t experience the glory years of NASA and America’s space program, but I can tell you that I marveled at the sights and sounds of Apollo 11 and choked up as it reached its conclusion. (Moreover, I didn’t need a title card to identify the first voice we hear, which recurs throughout the movie. Newscaster Walter Cronkite has become synonymous with mid-20th century events.)
Watching this saga on a giant IMAX screen plays a key role in its impact. NASA documented every facet of its operations, but only a fraction of their vast archive has ever been tapped. David Sington was one of the first filmmakers to dig deep and find previously unused material for his excellent feature In the Shadow of the Moon (2007). Apollo 11’s Todd Douglas Miller made an even more dramatic discovery: large-format 65mm footage that was never processed, unseen for fifty years. This material was destined to be shown in IMAX.
(7) PEN AMERICA. “The 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Winners” were announced February 26. The list is at the link.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born March 9, 1940 — Raul Julia. If we count Sesame Street as genre, his appearance as Rafael here was his first genre role. Yeah I’m stretching it. Ok how about as Aram Fingal In Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, a RSL production off the John Varley short story? That better? He later starred in Frankenstein Unbound as Victor Frankenstein as well. His last role released while he was still living was in Addams Family Values as Gomez Addams reprising the role he’d had in The Addams Family. (Died 1994.)
- Born March 9, 1955 — Pat Murphy, 64. I think her most brilliant work is The City, Not Long After. If you’ve not read this novel, do so now. The Max Merriwell series is excellent and Murphy”s ‘explanation’ of the authorial attributions is fascinating.
- Born March 9, 1958 — Linda Fiorentino, 61. She played Laurel in Men in Black but I forget what her one-letter designation was. Scant other genre work though she did appear on Alfred Hitchcock Presents early in her career and I see she was in What Planet Are You From?, a SF film a decade before she stopped acting altogether.
- Born March 9, 1964 — Juliette Binoche, 55. Several green roles including in the the recent remake of Godzilla as Sandra Brody, in Ghost in the Shell as Dr. Ouelet, and in High Life as Dr. Dibs.
- Born March 9, 1965 — Brom, 54. Illustrator and novelist who I think is best in Krampus: The Yule Lord and Lost Gods. Interestingly he did a lot of covers early on in his career including Michael Moorcock’s Elric: Tales of the White Wolf anthology and Jack Vance’s The Compleat Dying Earth on SFBC.
- Born March 9, 1978 — Hannu Rajaniemi, 41. Author of the Jean le Flambeur series which consists of The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel. Damn if I can summarize them. They remind a bit of Alastair Reynolds and his Prefect novels, somewhat of Ian Mcdonald’s Mars novels as well. Layers of weirdness upon weirdness.
(9) OPPOSITE SWEDEN. “Your money’s no good here” used to be a way of saying something was on the house, not a literal statement — “Protecting The ‘Unbanked’ By Banning Cashless Businesses In Philadelphia”.
Back in December, the Philadelphia City Council passed “Fair Workweek” legislation, joining a growing national movement aimed at giving retail and fast-food workers more predictable schedules and, by extension, more predictable lives. Low-income residents and unions lobbied lawmakers and put the issue on their radar. Similar laws are on the books in New York, San Francisco and Seattle.
That’s typically how it works. Advocates shine a light on a problem. A bill gets introduced.
That’s not the way it worked with another new law in Philadelphia. That law can be traced back to one man: City Councilman Bill Greenlee.
Last fall, Greenlee introduced a bill outlawing cashless businesses — brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants where customers can only pay with credit and debit cards.
“I heard that there started to be some establishments in Center City. Something just didn’t sit right with me on that,” said Greenlee.
Mayor Jim Kenney signed it into law last week, making Philadelphia the first big city in the country to ban cash-free stores. It takes effect July 1.
(10) DOTTED LINE. NPR finds the lighter side of the issue — “When Not Reading The Fine Print Can Cost Your Soul”.
Nobody reads the fine print. But maybe they should.
Georgia high school teacher Donelan Andrews won a $10,000 reward after she closely read the terms and conditions that came with a travel insurance policy she purchased for a trip to England. Squaremouth, a Florida insurance company, had inserted language promising a reward to the first person who emailed the company.
“We understand most customers don’t actually read contracts or documentation when buying something, but we know the importance of doing so,” the company said. “We created the top-secret Pays to Read campaign in an effort to highlight the importance of reading policy documentation from start to finish.”
Not every company is so generous. To demonstrate the importance of reading the fine print, many companies don’t give; they take. The mischievous clauses tend to pop up from time to time, usually in cheeky England.
In 2017, 22,000 people who signed up for free public Wi-Fi inadvertently agreed to 1,000 hours of community service — including cleaning toilets and “relieving sewer blockages,” the Guardian reported. The company, Manchester-based Purple, said it inserted the clause in its agreement “to illustrate the lack of consumer awareness of what they are signing up to when they access free wifi.”
(11) HUGOS THERE. Mark Yon reviews “An Unofficial History of the Hugos by Jo Walton” at SFFWorld.
…As this is an ‘informal’ history, there are clear favourite authors and non-favourites which are freely admitted by the contributors. Most noticeable is the consistent love of Theodore Sturgeon and Gene Wolfe’s work throughout. However Jo is not a fan of everything and everyone. She admits that she is not a fan of anything cyberpunk, Dan Simmons’s later Hyperion books and Philip K Dick’s writing to the point where she has avoided his work, including the 1963 Award Winner The Man in the High Castle. Although she is often an advocate of Heinlein’s work (such as Double Star), she is less enamoured with the more famous Stranger in A Strange Land (rather like myself, actually.)
(12) NOT IMPOSSIBLE. The Clarke Center’s podcast Into the Impossible, in Episode 21: Beyond 10,000 Hours explores physics, education, and what it takes to train imaginative scientists with Carl Wieman, Nobel Prize winning physicist with joint appointments as Professor of Physics and Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Dr. Wieman is interviewed by Brian Keating, UC San Diego Professor of Physics, Director of the Simons Observatory, and Associate Director of the Clarke Center.
(13) HEAT VISION. Scientists have used nanoparticles inside the eyeballs of mice to make otherwise invisible near-infrared light visible to the mice (Gizmodo: “Incredible Experiment Gives Infrared Vision to Mice—and Humans Could Be Next”). What’s next, X-ray vision?
By injecting nanoparticles into the eyes of mice, scientists gave them the ability to see near-infrared light—a wavelength not normally visible to rodents (or people). It’s an extraordinary achievement, one made even more extraordinary with the realization that a similar technique could be used in humans.
(14) OVERMATCHED. From Captain Marvel, “Talos Vs Nick Fury Fight Scene Clip.”
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “One Minute Art History” is a video by Cao Shu on Vimeo which condenses a great deal of art history into a 90-second video.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]