(1) SEND YOUR NAME TO MARS. NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover is heading to the red planet. Submit your name by September 30, 2019, and fly along! Full details on the NASA website. Over five million names have been sent in – two million of them from Turkey?
Your email is used only to give you “Frequent Flyer” points and to allow you to send your name on future Mars missions.
(2) MALCOLM EDWARDS LEAVES GOLLANCZ. The Bookseller reports “‘Publishing legend’ Edwards steps down from Orion and Gollancz roles”. (Via Ansible Links.)
Orion consultant publisher and Gollancz chair Malcolm Edwards is stepping down from his roles after first joining the SFF imprint 43 years ago.
Hachette UK c.e.o. David Shelley said Edwards, who will work his last day at Orion on 31st May, is a “true publishing legend”.
…Edwards started his publishing career as a sci fi editor at Gollancz in 1976, quickly rising up the ranks to become publishing director. He established a stellar list of authors including Brian Aldiss, Octavia Butler, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, Ursula Le Guin and Terry Pratchett. One landmark month in 1984 saw him publish J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun, William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood.
He went on to join HarperCollins in 1989, becoming fiction publishing director and editing Stephen Baxter, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, David Eddings, Alan Furst, James Herbert and Peter Straub. He edited and published both Michael Dobbs’s House of Cards novels and George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, going on to release Stephen King’s The Green Mile in serial paperback parts.
Edwards moved to Orion in 1998 as manging director of Orion Books before promotion to deputy c.e.o. and publisher in 2003. … In 2015 it was announced he would leave his roles to become chairman of Gollancz and consultant publisher, allowing him to work on “fewer projects closer to his heart”.
(3) READY TO AIR. The Verges’s Andrew Liptak has some advice for TV programmers in “These eight short story collections would make excellent sci-fi anthology shows “.
It’s easy to see why anthology shows based on short stories are appealing: they don’t represent a whole lot of commitment from viewers, and provide a lot of variety. A science fiction writer’s collection of short stories can provide both: self-contained, bite-sized narratives that can play out in 20-40 minutes. Don’t like one? Skip to the next. With word that Ballingrud’s debut collection is in the works, we had some ideas for other single-author collections that might make for a good anthology series in their own right….
(4) THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE NOSTROMO. BBC’s Nicholar Barber explains “What Ridley Scott’s Alien can tell us about office life”.
It’s the 40th anniversary of the ground-breaking sci-fi. HR Giger’s nightmarish demon aside, the 1979 film is about a group of interstellar wage slaves doing ordinary, unglamorous jobs, writes Nicholas Barber.
Forty years ago, a little-known director and a little-known cast made a small-scale slasher movie set on a spaceship. It was a masterpiece. Ridley Scott’s Alien would go on to spawn three sequels, two prequels and two Alien v Predator mash-ups, not to mention a slew of comics and video games. But even after all this time, and all those spin-offs, the first film is unique.
A significant factor, naturally, is the title character: the sleekly nightmarish biomechanical demon designed by HR Giger. But another, under-rated, ingredient is everyone in the film who is not an alien. While James Cameron’s sequel revolved around a squad of hard-bitten marines, Scott’s 1979 original features ordinary, unglamorous people doing what are, for them, ordinary, unglamorous jobs. We never hear their full names, and they never talk about their past experiences or their future plans. Nonetheless, we get to know all seven of them, which is one reason why their deaths hit us with the force of a chest-bursting xenomorph….
(5) HIGH SCORE. WIRED lists “12 of the best science fiction books everyone should read”. Hey, the best I’ve ever done on a list – 8 out of 12. But two by Atwood, neither of which is The Handmaid’s Tale?
Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood (2003)
While The Handmaid’s Tale describes a world that seems more plausible by the day, in Oryx and Crake Atwood spins a genetically-modified circus of current trends taken to their absolute extreme – a “bio-engineered apocalypse,” is how one reviewer put it. A number of television adaptations have been mooted, including a now-defunct HBO project with Darren Aronofsky, but this might be one to place alongside The Stars My Destination in the impossible-to-adapt file. The world of the book is vibrant, surreal and disturbing enough.
(6) TALES OF URSINIA. The Hollywood Reporter’s review (‘The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily’: Film Review) of the Cannes-screened film The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily tries to sum it up with a “Bottom Line” of “A folkloristic work of the imagination for under-14s.” The short official trailer (with English subtitles) would seem to partly belie that, in that the film could easily appeal to fantasy fans of any age.
Thematically, the film spins around the eternal clash between humans and other members of the animal kingdom. When the bear cub Tonino is captured by hunters, his father Leonzio, the king of the bears, leads his thousands of brave subjects into the city to search for him, and also to rustle up some food. The encounter between Leonzio’s easy-going bears and the army of the evil Duke who rules the city highlights the naïveté of the bears in thinking they would get a fair shake out of humans.
The story is framed by the wandering storyteller Gedeone (Antonio Albanese in the Italian voice cast) who takes shelter in a big cave one inclement day with his young daughter and assistant, Almerina (Leila Bekhti). They are surprised to wake up a huge old bear (Andrea Camilleri in the Italian version; Jean-Claude Carriere in the French), who listens to their tale about the bears’ invasion of Sicily. The storyteller reappears several times in the film, keeping the tone light.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- May 26, 1897 – The first sale of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in London.
- May 26, 1961 — The Twilight Zone aired “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” One of the lines in this Rod Serling penned script pays homage to his friend, Ray Bradbury. “It’s a regular Ray Bradbury.”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 26, 1865 — Robert W. Chambers. He best known for his book of short stories titled The King in Yellow, published in 1895. I see that it has been described by such illuminaries as Joshi and Klein as a classic in the field of the supernatural. (Died 1933.)
- Born May 26, 1913 — Peter Cushing. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the Fifties to the Seventies, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. He also played Holmes many times, and though not considered canon, he was the Doctor in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and Dr. Who and the Daleks. He even made appearances in both The Avengers and The New Avengers as well as Space: 1999. There’s a CGI recreation of Grand Moff Tarkin used for his likeness in Rogue One. (Died 1994.)
- Born May 26, 1921 — Mordecai Roshwald. His best known work is Level 7 written in the Fifties. He is also the author of A Small Armageddon and Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction. (Died 2015.)
- Born May 26, 1923 — James Arness. He appeared in three Fifties SF films, Two Lost Worlds, Them! and The Thing from Another World. The latter is based on the 1938 novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell (writing under the pseudonym of Don A. Stuart). The novella would be the basis of John Carpenter’s The Thing thirty years later. (Died 2011.)
- Born May 26, 1923 — Roy Dotrice. I’ll always think of him first and foremost as Jacob “Father” Wells on Beauty and the Beast. He was Commissioner Simmonds in two episodes of Space: 1999. He also appeared in recurring role on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Zeus. He’s on A Game of Thrones in the second season playing “Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer” in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and “Blackwater” episodes. (Died 2017.)
- Born May 26, 1925 — Howard DeVore. He was according to all sources, an expert on pulp magazines who dealt in them and collected them, an APA writer, con-runner and otherwise all-around volunteer in First Fandom. He wrote two fascinating-sounding publications all with Don Franson, A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards. (Died 2005.)
- Born May 26, 1964 — Caitlín R. Kiernan, 55. She’s an impressive two-time recipient of both the World Fantasy and Bram Stoker awards. As for novels, I’d single out Low Red Moon, Blood Oranges (writing as Kathleen Tierney) and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir as being particularly worth reading. She also fronted a band, Death’s Little Sister, named for Neil Gaiman’s character, Delirium.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Lio knows all about green power.
(10) TANKS FOR THE MEMORY. These fans may belong to Starfleet, but don’t let them near the Enterprise: “Paint job mystery solved: Local college club explains purchase of incorrect color”.
A tank’s mysterious transformation from olive drab to lemon-lime green was solved Wednesday when the sponsor of a Bluefield State College club came forward and said some paint that was ordered turned out to be the wrong color.
Local residents and officials were puzzled Tuesday when Daily Telegraph photographer Eric DiNovo shot a picture of the tank parked near Bowen Field. DiNovo had noticed that the tank had been painted a bright lemon-lime color….
The mystery was solved Wednesday when Jerry Conner, sponsor of the U.S.S. Yeager Chapter of Starfleet International, a science fiction club at Bluefield State, sent a letter to the Daily Telegraph describing how the color change had happened.
Conner said that the U.S.S. Yeager club had been cleaning and painting the M-41 Bulldog tank near the entrance to Lotito Park for about 20 years. The tank needed a new coat of paint, and the club had made plans to get “the proper shade of olive drab for a World War II-period tank.”
“We took a sample of the color to a Bluefield merchant and purchased two gallons which was supposed to match our sample,” Conner said in the letter. “We were worried when we opened the containers and found something nowhere near our sample. ‘Surely it will dry the right color,’ we thought, and proceeded with the prep and painting. Imagine our chagrin when it dried, not green-brown olive, but instead, bright mustard yellow!”
…Rideout said the city obtained a copy of the paint receipt from the local retailer that sold it to the club. On the receipt, the color is called “tank green.”
(11) DRAWN THAT WAY. NPR considers “How Disney Princesses Influence Girls Around The World”.
Many academics and parents have said that Disney princesses are “bad for girls” because they are defined by their appearance – and they often must be rescued by men rather than act on their own (see: Sleeping Beauty and Snow White).
Sociologist Charu Uppal in Sweden has another concern – the fact that many classic Disney princesses are white and Western.
Uppal has been studying the effects of Disney princesses on girls internationally since 2009. In a world where Disney’s TV channels are broadcast in 133 countries, and its films and merchandise pervade even more, she wanted to see how girls of different nationalities perceived the idea of a princess.
…Her latest study, published in March in the journal Social Sciences, analyzed 63 princess drawings from girls in Fiji, India and Sweden. In this sample, nearly every drawing — 61 out of 63 — depicted a light-skinned princess, many of those resembling Disney characters. Fijian girls drew multiple Ariels; Indian girls drew Belles and Sleeping Beauties. Not one girl drew a princess in her country’s traditional garb.
(12) BOOM BOOM HA HA. “He Led A Platoon Of Artists Who Fooled The Germans: ‘Imagination Is Unbelievable'” – NPR profiles a veteran member of the unit.
After World War II broke out, 26-year-old Gilbert Seltzer enlisted into the Army.
Soon after, he was told he was being put on a secret mission — and an unconventional one at that.
Seltzer, then an architectural draftsman, was selected to lead a platoon of men within a unit dubbed the “Ghost Army.” Made up mostly of artists, creatives and engineers, the unit would go on to play an instrumental role in securing victory in Europe for the U.S. and its allies.
Their mission was deception. From inflatable tanks, to phony convoys, to scripted conversations in bars intended to spread disinformation, they used any and all possible trick to fool the enemy….
(13) THEY’LL PUT A STOP TO THAT. “Google thwarts Baltimore ransomware fightback” – BBC has the story.
Google has inadvertently thwarted attempts by Baltimore’s city government to fight off crippling ransomware.
The cyber-attack struck civil computers in Baltimore on 7 May, blocking email accounts and online payment systems.
City officials set up GMail accounts to restore communications between citizens and staff.
The mass creation of the accounts triggered Google’s GMail defences which shut them down, believing they were being used by spammers….
(14) MAKING THE MOVE. BBC investigates how Norway encourages electric cars: “‘I drive in the bus lane'”.
“I drive in the bus lane because I have an electric car. It saves me 30 minutes on every journey to work.”
Dagfinn Hiehe was smiling ear-to-ear as he told me his favourite thing about having an electric car.
…Driving in the bus lane is just one of the incentives the Norwegian government is offering its citizens, in exchange for dumping their petrol or diesel and switching to electric.
Like many big cities, Oslo’s roads are crowded, and saving time on the commute is hugely appealing. Another big benefit is the discount on road tolls, which you are largely exempt from in an electric vehicle.
(15) YOUR PRINTABLE MARTIAN HOME. Popular Mechanics is there when “NASA Crowns Winner in Mars Habitat Competition”.
What would life on Mars look like? NASA thinks it’s getting one step closer to figuring it out. The Agency has awarded a combined $700,000 to the first and second-place teams in its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge.
Self-described “multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency” AI SpaceFactory, based in New York, took first place with $500,000. A team of professors from Penn State finished in second with $200,000.
AI SpaceFactory beat over 60 other teams in the finale of an ongoing competition that began in 2015. NASA ran the contest in conjunction with Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, where the final challenges were held.
For the On-Site Habitat Competition, teams had to autonomously print a one-third-scale habitat. This habitat had to be built from recyclables and materials that could be found on deep-space destinations, like the Moon and Mars.
(16) ANOTHER DAY IN COURT. The first one went so well *coff* let’s see how a “Real Lawyer Reacts to Game of Thrones: Trial of Tyrion Lannister.”
Tyrion is put on trial for the murder of Joffrey. Does he get a fair trial?
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, David Doering, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]