(1) A MOLE IN BLACK. If everyone could just look right here… Men In Black arrives in theaters June 14.
The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest, most global threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.
(2) SPECULATIVE LITERATURE FOUNDATION. The application period for the Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds begins May 1 and runs until July 31, 2019. Full application guidelines here.
The $500 Diverse Writers grant is intended to support new and emerging writers from underrepresented and underprivileged groups, such as writers of color, women, queer writers, disabled writers, working-class writers, etc. — those whose marginalized identities may present additional obstacles in the writing / publishing process.
The $500 Diverse Worlds grant is intended for work that best presents a diverse world, regardless of the writer’s background.
(3) HWA MENTOR OF THE YEAR. The Horror Writers Association has named its “2018 Mentor of the Year Award – JG Faherty”.
The Mentor of the Year Award was established in 2016 to recognize a writer who has offered extraordinary service to the Horror Writers Association’s Mentor Program, which pairs newer writers with more established writers. Mentors work with their mentees on developing their craft and their business, in the interest of assisting writers in establishing careers.
The year, the Mentor Program Chair has chosen JG Faherty as the 2018 Mentor of the Year.
Upon hearing news of the award, JG said, “It’s really an honor to be chosen as Mentor of the Year. I am a firm believer that the Mentorship program is one of the most important benefits of membership we have, and under Brian Hatcher’s guidance, it’s reached new heights of success. Way, way back in the dark ages (2007 or so), I was a mentee, working on my first novel. I got lucky enough to be paired with then-president Deborah LeBlanc as my mentor. She helped me immensely with my novel and several short stories, and in the process became a friend as well. Without her help, I might never have sold that first book. Because of her, and because of other people in the organization who’ve taught me that giving back is one of the most important things Active members can do, I signed up as a mentor the moment I earned my Active status. My goal is to help each of my mentees the way Deb helped me, because that’s what writers should be doing, helping other writers succeed. And I’m happy to say that along the way, I’ve made several more friends. What could be better?”
(4) TODAY’S DAY
April 26: Did you know April 26 was “Alien Day” since Alien was released on April 26, 1979? In the Yahoo! Entertainment story “#AlienDay: James Cameron On How He Expanded The Universe in Aliens and Where The Franchise Went Wrong,” Ethan Alter interviews James Cameron, who said that David Fincher shouldn’t have killed off the characters played by Lance Henriksen and Carrie Henn in Aliens and that he considers Alien 3 a “brilliant failure.”
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Baptism today – April 26, 1564: William Shakespeare. World’s greatest playwright and perhaps one of our earliest fantasy writers.
- Born April 26, 1914 — H. L. Gold. Best known for launching Galaxy Science Fiction in 1950, which was soon followed by its companion magazine, Beyond Fantasy Fiction which lasted but several years. He was not a prolific writer having published but two novels, None but Lucifer with L. Sprague de Camp and A Matter of Form, plus a generous number of short stories. None but Lucifer didn’t see printing in novel form until 2002. (Died 1996)
- Born April 26, 1922 — A. E. van Vogt. Ok, I admit it’s been so long since I read that I was fascinated by the wiki page who noted that Damon Knight took a strong dislike to his writing whereas Philip K. Dick and Paul Di Filippo defended him strongly. What do y’all think of van Vogt? (Died 2000.)
- Born April 26, 1943 — Bill Warren. American film historian, critic, and one of the leading authorities on science fiction, horror, and fantasy films. He wrote the script for the murder mystery Fandom is a Way of Death set at the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention which was hosted by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society which he and his wife were very much involved in. His 1968 short story “Death Is a Lonely Place” would be printed in the first issue of the magazine Worlds of Fantasy. During the Seventies, he also wrote scripts for Warren Publishing’s black-and-white comic books Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. His film reference guide Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties would be revised and expanded several times. (Died 2016.)
- Born April 26, 1955 — Brad W. Foster, 64. From 1987 to 1991 he was a regular contributing illustrator to the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. In 2008 he began producing illustrations for the newsletter Ansible, creating a full color version for the on-line edition, and a different black-and-white version for the print edition. He won an amazing eight Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist!
- Born April 26, 1961 — Joan Chen, 58. You’ll remember her from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and the tv series as Jocelyn ‘Josie’ Packard, and probably less so as Ilsa Hayden in the first Judge Dredd film. I certainly don’t. She was Madame Ong in Avatar. No, not that film, is a Singaporean sf film from twenty years back. She was the first customer on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe series.
(6) POUND FOOLISH? “Shut up very much,” may have been the message on their pink slips: “After Pentagon Ends Contract, Top-Secret Scientists Group Vows To Carry On”.
A secretive group of scientists who advise the U.S. government on everything from spy satellites to nuclear weapons is scrambling to find a sponsor after the Defense Department abruptly ended its contract late last month.
The group, known as the Jasons, will run out of money at the end of April. The Pentagon says that the group’s advice is no longer needed, but independent experts say it has never been more relevant and worry the department is throwing away a valuable resource.
Russell Hemley, the head of the Jasons, says that other government agencies still want advice and that the Jasons are determined to give it.
…The Jasons group comprises about 60 members. By day, they’re normal academics, working at colleges and universities and in private industry. But each summer, they come together to study tough problems for the military, intelligence agencies and other parts of the government.
…”The department remains committed to seeking independent technical advice and review,” Pentagon spokesperson Heather Babb said. But Aftergood sees another reason for the end of the relationship. He says that the Jasons are a blunt bunch. If they think an idea is dumb or won’t work, they aren’t afraid to say so.
“They were offering the opposite of cheerleading,” he says. “And DOD decided that maybe they didn’t want to pay for that any longer.”
(7) THE BUZZ. NPR will clue you in —“How Do Mosquitoes Taste DEET? Hint: It’s Not With Their Mouthparts”.
Emily Dennis has spent hours, if not days, watching mosquitoes buzz around her bare, outstretched arm. Carefully, she’s observed the insects land, stab their mouthparts through her skin and feed.
But if her arm is slathered with DEET — shorthand for the chemical N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, the active ingredient in many insect repellents — mosquitoes stay away.
“DEET works better than any other insect repellent, and despite it being around since the late 1940s, we still don’t really understand why,” says Dennis, a neuroscientist currently at Princeton University who endured many bug bites while studying how DEET repels insects en route to her Ph.D. at Rockefeller University.
Those bug bites paid off. In a paper published Thursday in Current Biology, she and her colleagues show that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, common transmitters of diseases such as dengue and Zika, sense DEET through their feet, not their mouthparts. According to the authors, the finding narrows the path for future research that could potentially help scientists develop more desirable alternatives to DEET — for example, repellents that don’t need to be reapplied as often as DEET.
(8) STUDYING THE OCCULT(ATION). Saturn disappeared behind the Moon for awhile last night:
And another nice photo here on the Dunedin Astronomical Society’s Facebook page.
(9) TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE. NPR asks: “Blockbuster Films Keep Getting Longer; How And Why Did We Get Here?”
“No amount of money ever bought a second of time,” says Tony “Iron Man” Stark, patient zero of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, midway through the new Avengers: Endgame.
As has frequently been the case in the nine Marvel films in which he has appeared, Mr. Stark is right but also wrong. Endgame, the long-promised commencement ceremony/farewell tour for the founding class of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, has both commodities in abundance. Contrast that with the 1990 Cannon Films production Captain America, starring Matt (Revenge of the Nerds) Salinger as Steve Rogers, which runs a svelte 97 minutes and looks like it may well have cost several hundred dollars.
That was then. As the capstone of Marvel Studios’ 11-year, 22-film saga, freely adapted from more than half a century of comic books, the no-expense-spared Endgame dares what few blockbusters have, occupying a bladder-taxing, intermission-free 182 minutes. But then, movies such as this one — franchise entries, popcorn flicks, movies that often harbor artistic ambitions but are always designed to draw a huge audience — began to Hulk out years before Iron Man arrived in May of 2008…
(10) COOL PICTURES. “Hayabusa-2: Spacecraft’s ‘bomb’ crater found” – BBC has the story.
The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft has sent back images of the crater made when it detonated an explosive charge next to the asteroid it is investigating.
On 5 April, the Japanese probe released a 14kg device packed with plastic explosive towards the asteroid Ryugu.
The blast drove a copper projectile into the surface, hoping to create a 10m-wide depression.
Scientists want to get a “fresh” sample of rock to help them better understand how Earth and the other planets formed.
Hayabusa-2 has now taken pictures of the area below where the “small carry-on impactor” (SCI) device was to have detonated, and identified a dark disturbance in which fresh material has been excavated from beneath the surface.
(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Clock Face” on Vimeo Natalia Ryss has a beautiful fantasy about life in old Jerusalem with plenty of clocks!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]