(1) OKORAFOR. “A Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor” at Weird Fiction Review.
WFR: Binti’s hair, or her tentacle-like okuoko almost becomes a character in its own right. It’s striking that this kind of physical transformation is both by choice but also not by choice; it reflects the physical difference with which Binti already marks herself through her otjize. There are so many layers of cultural and biological meaning wrapped up in Binti’s hair alone. Can you talk a little about this part of the story?
NO: The theme of choice and the power of culture pops up in my stories often. Before Binti, the biggest example of this is in Who Fears Death when Onyesonwu must face the decision of whether or not to go through a ceremony that required cutting off her clitoris. To many readers, the fact that she even has to think about whether or not to do this is shocking. It’s not shocking to me at all, coming from the culture that I come from where the individual is often secondary to the community. I may have been born and raised in the United States, but there are significant parts of me that are VERY Igbo (Nigerian) and I am often in conflict with these parts. This is the plight of many Nigerian Americans. And this is the root of my deep understanding about and experience of African cultures.
The same goes for Binti. Binti is a Himba girl of the future and though many things about her ethnic group change, some things stay the same. Some of those things include a strict adherence to community and culture, and the practice of applying otjize. Culture is very deep, it can’t just be shed just as you can’t shed what is part of your DNA. But culture is also alive and can incorporate things, it blend, shifts…and there are always consequences to change.
(2) EVERY TRUE FAN. At More Words, Deeper Hole, James Davis Nicoll lists “Twenty Core SF Books Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. Their Billy shelves, presumably.
(3) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET WOOLLY. The BBC shares “DNA clues to why woolly mammoth died out”.
Dr Rebekah Rogers of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the research, said the mammoths’ genomes “were falling apart right before they went extinct”.
This, she said, was the first case of “genomic meltdown” in a single species.
“You had this last refuge of mammoths after everything has gone extinct on the mainland,” she added.
“The mathematical theories that have been developed said that they should accumulate bad mutations because natural selection should become very inefficient.”
The researchers analysed genetic mutations found in the ancient DNA of a mammoth from 4,000 years ago. They used the DNA of a mammoth that lived about 45,000 years ago, when populations were much larger, as a comparison.
(4) KNIGHT CHECKS KING. Brooke Seipel on TheHill.com in “Actor Patrick Stewart Applying for U.S. Citizenship to Help Fight Trump” says that SirPatStew tweeted that he is applying to become an American so he can fight the Trump Administration. She also quotes from his appearance on The View.
(5) SEPARATING PAST FROM PRESENT. “The Past, Present And Future Of Sci Fi With N. K. Jemisin”, an interview with the author on WBEZ.
Johnsen: Recently, friends have asked me for recommendations of things to read or watch. They’re like, “I’ll check out anything, except sci fi.” And that drives me crazy. Because to me, that’s like saying, “Oh, I like anything except imagination.” Can you help me make the sell to the haters? Because that’s ridiculous.
Jemisin: It is ridiculous. It’s because science fiction is terrible at marketing, I think. Science fiction has, for years, allowed a fairly vocal subset of its readership to declare that the only true science fiction is stuff that was written 50 or 60 years ago, that the pulps of the ’40s is what the genre is all about. The plain fact of the matter is that it’s an art form like any other. It has evolved. It has grown. It has expanded in ways that I think it hasn’t done the best job of revealing to the mainstream.
So I would test anybody who says they don’t read science fiction or fantasy. I’d say, “OK, what was the last science fiction or fantasy that you read? Where is this coming from? Did you just watch an episode of old school Star Trek and call it a day, or are you doing this with some real information here?”
And then, there’s multiple places that I would direct them. I would take them to the Nebula list and have them look at a few years’ worth of Nebula nominees and novels. I would show them some current science fiction on television, quite a bit of which is getting critical acclaim. I’m very excited that Stranger Things season two is coming. I just watched the first season of Westworld. I had some questions and thoughts, but it’s an example of something that you can shoot to people to say, “Hey, we’ve moved on a little from Star Trek.”
(6) THIRTY BUT NOT #30#. Scott Edelman is amazed – “Hard to believe I’ve made it this far!” – to have reached Episode 30 in his series of podcasts Eating the Fantastic. This time Scott joins Richard Bowes to eat Italian in Greenwich Village.
The venue was suggested by this episode’s guest, who happens to be a long-time resident of Greenwich Village—science fiction and fantasy writer Richard Bowes, who’s a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, and who has also won the International Horror Guild Award as well as the Lambda Award. That photo of him below is not from Café Reggio, however, but rather from the nearby New York Frost Factory, where we went in search of something sweet after the recording.
We discussed his early career as a designer of board games for clients like National Lampoon, why “going to conventions sober is beyond me,” the political transformation of Li’l Abner creator Al Capp, why everyone during the old folk scene days loathed Bob Dylan, what attracts him about writing mosaic novels, and more.
(7) HUGHES OBIT. Hugh Zachary (1928-2016), who wrote as Zach Hughes, died September 5, 2016.The news is just now circulating in fandom, having been learned by William G. Contento.
He wrote over two dozen sf novels as Zach Hughes, and the America 2040 series as Evan Innes. He also wrote westerns, romance, and erotica. As he put it, “I’ve written in every field except bestseller.” If he never made the New York Times list, the books he wrote under a house name for “The White Indian” series of westerns did in fact sell millions of copies over the years.
Zachary gave a very entertaining interview to a UNCW oral historian in 1998 which is still online:
Hayes: So even during the radio/TV days, writing still was kind of a driving force?
Hugh Zachary: That’s what I wanted to be, yes. And I have 375 rejections before I ever sold one single thing; I was persistent if nothing else.
Hayes: Well, talk about some of those rejections. What was the, what were you writing early on then that you were trying to get in?
Hayes: That is hard.
Hugh Zachary: Some of those were poems and at that time there was a much bigger market for poetry if you could call it that. The first thing I ever sold was a poem to a magazine called, “Drift Word” and they sent me a check for $10 and they went out of business before it was published (laughs).
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- March 3, 1915 — The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor of NASA, was founded.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- March 3, 1920 – James Doohan
(10) TODAY’S DAY
I have it on good authority from Jack Lint that this is “I cannae change the laws of physics!” Day celebrated on March 3 in honor of James Doohan’s birthday
(11) THE FANBOY DEFENSE. “3D guns accused manufacturer was a ‘science fiction fanboy’, court hears”. The ABC in Australia has the story.
A man accused of manufacturing 3D printed guns is a fan of science fiction who let his hobby get “out of hand”, a Sydney court has heard.
Sicen Sun, 27, an account manager for an advertising agency, was arrested yesterday when detectives searched his Waverley unit in Sydney’s east, following a tip-off.
Officers found four imitation pistols, including 3D-manufactured semi-automatic Glock pistols and a 3D-manufactured Sig pistol, two air pistols, computer equipment and two 3D printers.
Sun was arrested and charged with various offences relating to the manufacture of firearms using a 3D printer.
At a bail hearing at Waverley Local Court this morning Sun’s solicitor, Jason Keane, said his client was a science fiction fan who got carried away with his hobby and wanted to imitate the weapons from police shows such as NCIS and video games like Call of Duty.
(12) RUMBLINGS. While hawking t-shirts, Vox Day indicated that this year’s Rabid Puppies action is about to begin.
And here’s a hint: if you like the awesome Rabid Puppies 2016 shirt, you should probably pick one up soon, as the Rabid Puppies 2017 logo is almost ready to make its debut.
(13) BRADBURY’S PIVOTAL YEAR. Now available for pre-order, The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury: A Critical Edition, Volume 3, 1944-1945 edited by Jonathan Eller.
The original versions of an American master’s best-known tales
Though it highlights just one year of writing, this third volume of The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury represents a crucial moment at the midpoint of his first full decade as a professional writer. The original versions of the 1940s stories recovered for The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury, presented in the order in which they were written and first sent off to find life in the magazine market, suggest that Bradbury’s masks didn’t always appeal to his editors. The Volume 3 stories were all written between March 1944 and March 1945, and the surviving letters of this period reveal the private conflict raging between Bradbury’s efforts to define a distinct style and creative vision at home in Los Angeles and the tyranny of genre requirements imposed by the distant pulp publishing world in New York.
Most of the twenty-two stories composed during this pivotal year in his development reflect the impact of these creative pressures. This period also produced important markers in his maturing creativity with “The Miracles of Jamie,” “Invisible Boy,” and “Ylla,” which were among the first wave of Bradbury tales to reach the mainstream markets.
The early versions of Bradbury’s stories recovered for Volume 3, some emerging from his surviving typescripts and several that restore lost text preserved only in the rare Canadian serial versions, provide an unprecedented snapshot of his writing and his inspirations. Underlying this year of creativity was the expanding world of readings in modern and contemporary literature that would prove to be a crucial factor in his development as a master storyteller.
(14) PILOT PROGRAM. A genius idea, but one that will only succeed once they have an AI to fly the drones — “Rise Of The Robot Bees: Tiny Drones Turned Into Artificial Pollinators”.
With the live-model tests deemed a success, Miyako turned his attention to drones. He settled on a bee-sized, four-propeller drone, commercially available for around $100 each. He and his colleagues found that the gel alone was not enough to hold the pollen, so they added horse hair to mimic the fuzzy exterior of bees and provide an electric charge to keep the grains attached. Using fluorescent microscopy, the team observed pollen glowing in test tubes – offering strong proof that fertilization was successful.
Although artificial pollination is already possible, it’s a tedious, time-consuming process. When done by hand, using a brush to apply the pollen, a person can pollinate five to 10 trees a day, depending on the size of the trees. Tackling thousands of trees takes major manpower and a hefty budget.
But even if cost were no object, an army of pollinating robot bees would face myriad obstacles.
“There are 1 million acres of almond trees in California,” says Marla Spivak, a MacArthur Fellow and entomologist at the University of Minnesota. “Every flower needs to be pollinated to set the nut. Two million colonies of bees are trucked in to pollinate the almonds, and each colony has between ten and twenty thousand foragers. How many robots would be needed?”
(15) SANITY CLAWS. Chris Klimek reviews Logan for NPR: “’Logan’ Is The Best At What it Does – And What It Does Is Gritty”.
Long live Logan, James Mangold’s sad, stirring requiem for the X-Men franchise’s most beloved character. The only problem with calling it the boldest and most affecting superhero flick in many years is that it’s barely a superhero movie at all.
It doesn’t talk like a superhero: too many F-bombs, including its very first word. And it doesn’t walk like a superhero: No computer-generated cities are razed in its finale, no unseen thousands sacrificed. Though with its gnarly R-rated medley of stabbings, slicings, skewerings, and impalings in what has been, Deadpool excepted, a PG-13 franchise, Logan sure feels bloodier than most of its ilk. And feels is the right verb: The deaths have weight. For once. To misquote the 40-year-old tagline of the very first big-budget comic book movie, you will believe a man can cry …
… at a movie about a 200-year-old rage monster with a silly haircut and retractable knives implanted in his knuckles.
Because Logan is unlike any capes-and-tights movie we’ve seen. It does for the creaky X series what Creed did for the Rocky cycle, restoring the integrity and emotion of the earliest installments while introducing talented new blood.
(16) PRESENTING THE BILLS. The new Duck Tales trailer.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Scott Edelman, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]