(1) SURVEY SAYS. The Stephen Follows Film Data and Education blog asks “Are video game movies the worst type of adaptations?”
The recent release of Pokémon Detective Pikachu has prompted some readers to get in touch and ask about the quality of movies based on video games.
Most of the questions were variations of: “Are video game movies the worst type of movie adaptations?
To answer this, I looked at all movies released in US cinemas between 1993 and 2018, inclusive. (See the Note section for a more detailed explanation of the dataset and sources).
I’m going to use the Metacritic score and IMDb rating to serve as measures of quality from the perspective of film critics and film audiences, respectively.
The answer, supported by all kinds of statistics and graphs is — yes!
(2) FUTURE TENSE. Elizabeth Bear’s “No Moon and Flat Calm” is the latest installment in the Future Tense Fiction series. In it, author Elizabeth Bear imagines a crew of safety engineers on a routine trip to a space that are thrown into sudden disaster onboard the station. How will real future humans react to calamity when we’re millions of miles away from home? And how much can training for such potential crises override our natural instincts?
…It was a tiny, artificial world called Waystation Hab, and my four classmates and I were approaching it in a shuttle we’d been crammed into for four months. My classmates and I were all postgraduate apprentices in the safety engineering internship program….
In a response essay, “How Will People Behave in Deep Space Disasters?”, Amanda Ripley, journalist and author of The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes—and Why, tackles these questions—and what they might mean for those striving to send humans to Mars and beyond.
(3) DEFYING DOOMSDAY AWARD. Nominations for the D Franklin Defying Doomsday Award are being taken until July 31. The award grants one winner per year a cash prize of $200 in recognition of their work in disability advocacy in SFF literature.
This award is possible thanks to D Franklin, our wonderful Patron of Diversity who pledged the top pledge in our Pozible campaign, back in 2015. This allowed the funding of the award for three years, meaning that this will be the last year the award is given, although we hope the recognition helps those awarded in some small way.
The 2016 winner was Disability in Kidlit, a website and resource for discussing the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature.
The 2017 winner was the Kickstarter campaign for Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction, a special issue of Uncanny Magazine.
The Defying Doomsday Award jury comprises Twelfth Planet Press publisher, Alisa Krasnostein, and Defying Doomsday editors, Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench.
Eligible works include non-fiction or related media exploring the subject of disability in SFF literature. Works must have been published in 2018. Use this form to submit nominations.The winner will be announced in September 2019.
(4) SATIRE STORYBUNDLE. You have three weeks left to purchase The Science Fiction and Fantasy Satire Bundle, curated by Nick Mamatas.
For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.
- Jesus and the Eightfold Path by Lavie Tidhar
- A Pretty Mouth by Molly Tanzer
- The People’s Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas
- TVA Baby by Terry Bisson
If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus EIGHT more!
- Koontown Killing Kaper by Bill Campbell
- The Good Humor Man by Andrew Fox
- Scorch by A.D. Nauman
- The Anarchist Kosher Cookbook by Maxwell Bauman
- Nightmares and Geezenstacks by Fredric Brown
- Broken Piano for President by Patrick Wensink
- Leech Girl Lives by Rick Claypool
- The Word of God by Thomas M. Disch
(5) THE BRIGHT SIDE. James Davis Nicoll bucks the trend of fans who gripe about incomplete series — “Hope Springs Eternal: Five Unfinished Series That Remain a Joy to Read” at Tor.com. Being “of a certain vintage,” as soon as I saw James’ title this very series did, in fact, spring to my mind –
Of course, if one is of a certain vintage, one will have lived through Alexei Panshin’s annus mirabilis. In 1968, Panshin published three novels, two of which (Star Well and The Thurb Revolution) focused on wandering interstellar remittance man Anthony Villiers, who righted wrongs with wit and panache. 1969 saw the release of the third volume, Masque World, which raised what seemed at the time reasonable expectation of a new Villiers book every year or so. As it turns out, it has been (counts on fingers) half a century since the third book was published. Hope springs eternal.
There are footnotes at the end of the article, in which the final line is –
Ditto Pratchett’s Discworld. I’d like more, but I’m not dissatisfied.
(6) GOOD OMENS GETS THEATRICAL DEBUT. BBC has the story — “Good Omens: Seat reserved for Terry Pratchett at world premiere”.
There was an empty seat in the front row when Good Omens had its world premiere in London on Tuesday.
But that’s not because organisers had trouble filling the gigantic (and newly reopened) Odeon in Leicester Square – quite the opposite, the event was packed out.
In fact, a seat was deliberately kept vacant for Terry Pratchett, the co-writer of the original novel, who died in 2015.
As a tribute, his trademark hat was placed in the front row as the premiere got under way.
As Peter White noted in Deadline, it’s highly unusual for a TV series such as Good Omens to “receive a glitzy world premiere in Leicester Square” as that’s “a feat usually reserved for big-budget superhero movies”.
Refresher for anyone not familiar with the long history: “Good Omens: How Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett wrote a book” by Neil Gaiman.
(7) LEM DISCOVERY. Read “’The Hunt’: Stanislaw Lem’s Unknown Story”, translated into English, at “Przekrój” Quarterly.
A previously unknown yet print-worthy work by Stanis?aw Lem (unearthed from his immense archives; combed through by his son Tomasz and the author’s personal secretary Wojciech Zemek for the last 16 years) is truly a rare find. This is because the author of The Cyberiad unceremoniously burnt any and all of his own writings that he was not pleased with, in a bonfire at his home in the Kraków suburb of Kliny. He cast quite a lot of texts into the flames there, given that he wrote with such great ease. By what miracle did “The Hunt” manage to avoid the fate of other works that went up in smoke?
(8) ETCHISON OBIT. Horror author Dennis Etchison (1943-2019) died during the night on May 29 reports his Facebook page. File 770 obituary here. Andrew Porter has two photos of him taken earlier in his career, at the Nebulas in New York City, and at a British Fantasy Convention, holding an award.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 29, 1906 — T. H. White. Best known obviously for the wonderful The Once and Future King which I read a long, long time ago. Back in the Thirties, he wrote Earth Stopped and its sequel Gone to Ground, sf novels. Gone to Ground contains several fantasy stories which were later reprinted in The Maharajah and Other Stories. ISFDB also lists Mistress Masham’s Repose, The Elephant and the Kangaroo and The Master as the other novels by him, plus the aforementioned story collection. (Died 1964.)
- Born May 29, 1909 — Neil R. Jones. Early pulp writer who some claim coined the word “ astronaut” which appeared in his first story, “The Death’s Head Meteor”, which was published in Air Wonder Stories in 1930. His stories taken together fit within the idea of a future history like those of Smith and Heinlein. (Died 1988.)
- Born May 29, 1930 — Richard Clifton-Dey. Illustrator of many SF book covers including The Wizard of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs. He did not sign many of his originals so his widow has the final say what is an original and what is not. (Died 1997.)
- Born May 29, 1952 — Louise Cooper. She wrote more than eight works of fantasy and was best known for her Time Master trilogy. Most of her writing was in the YA market including the Sea Horses quartet and the Mirror, Mirror trilogy. (Died 2009.)
- Born May 29, 1953 — Danny Elfman, 66. Ok, pop quiz time. How many genre films can you name that he composed the music for? I came up with Beetlejuice, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Batman, Mars Attacks!, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns and the Men in Black films. And I’d forgotten he was in Oingo Boingo, a truly great pop band.
- Born May 29, 1958 — Annette Bening, 61. Barbara Land in Mars Attacks!, Susan Anderson in What Planet Are You From?, and the Supreme Intelligence / Dr. Wendy Lawson in Captain Marvel.
- Born May 29, 1960 — Adrian Paul, 59. Duncan MacLeod on Highlander. And yes, I watched the whole bloody series. His first appearance in genre circles was as Dmitri Benko in the “Ashes, Ashes” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series. He shows up next as Prospero in Masque of the Red Death. He’s got several series before Highlander, War of the Worlds (not bad at all) where he was John Kincaid, a short-lived role as Jeremiah Collins on Dark Shadows and an even shorter-lived rolled on Tarzán as Jack Traverse. His first post- Highlander Sf series is Tracker where he plays alien shapeshifter Cole / Daggon. A decade ago, he returned to a familiar role in Highlander: The Source. His last series role was playing Dante on Arrow. Note: this is not a complete list.
- Born May 29, 1987 — Pearl Mackie, 32. Bill Potts, the companion to the Twelfth Doctor. The first openly gay companion in the history of the series. She’s got a podcast called Forest 404 which the BBC calls an “immersive sci-fi drama”. And finally she’s in the BBC Radio’s The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James as Mika Chantry.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Lio finds Gaiman fans in the most unexpected places.
(11) THESE ARE THE TOURISTS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. Mashable thinks it’s going to work this way: “Stormtroopers will enforce four-hour time limit at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge”.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the $1-billion Disneyland attraction set to open May 31, will employ Stormtroopers to enforce a strict time limit on visitors. The Los Angeles Times reports that the four-hour rule is only one part of the park’s efforts to avoid overcrowding and a situation that feels as claustrophobic as being stuck in an Imperial trash compactor with a wookiee.
During the first three weeks after opening, guests will be required to make reservations and wear colored wristbands that designate their time slot. Once that four hours expires, the Galactic Empire forces will escort visitors out in a way likely more polite than normal Stormtrooper protocol.
(12) AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON AMAZON STREET. ComicMix’s Glenn Hauman sent the link because he doesn’t want Filers to miss a new literary work that navigates the space created by his legal victory over Doctor Seuss Enterprises: “Oh, That Book Of Chuck’s, Though!”
There’s really no way not to feel pioneering
when Chuck Tingle‘s collection makes us feel like cheering.
We hope DSE will not try now to state
that this was a market they could– penetrate.
Perhaps they have learned to keep their case shut.
You limit fair use… you’ll get slammed in the butt.
More details on Tingle’s website:
Have you ever considered how handsome a sentient, physically manifested state was? Or dreamed about traveling abroad and having a fling with some charismatic living continent? This love of locations is an erotic fantasy as old as time, and who better to bring it to life than the world’s greatest author, two-time Hugo Award finalist Dr. Chuck Tingle.
(13) TECH TESTIMONY. Fast Company has assembled “An oral history of USB, the port that changed everything”: “Ajay Bhatt was struggling to upgrade his computer when he began to see the need for one plug to rule them all.”
AB: I didn’t get any positive response, so I decided to make a lateral move within the company to a sister group, and that’s when I started working for a gentleman named Fred Pollock. At that time, there were a handful of Intel Fellows in the company. These are the topmost technical folks at Intel. He’s an incredibly smart person and one of the top computer scientists. I spoke to him, and his view was, “I don’t know. You know what? Go convince yourself.” That’s all I needed. I needed somebody who would be open-minded enough to allow me to take this risk.
I didn’t just rely on him. I started socializing this idea with other groups at Intel. I talked to business guys, and I talked to other technologists, and eventually, I even went out and talked to Microsoft. And we spoke to other people who ultimately became our partners, like Compaq, DEC, IBM, NEC, and others.
Basically, I had to not only build a life inside the company, but we had to ally with people outside, and obviously, each company or each person that I spoke to had their own perspective on what it ought to be. One thing that was common was that everybody agreed that PCs were too hard to use and even hard to design around. Something had to be done, and that’s where it all began.
(14) MANHATTANHENGE. Wow, this is news to me! From the New York Times: “Manhattanhenge 2019: When and Where to Watch, If It’s Not Too Stormy”.
New Yorkers, get ready for another chance to marvel at Manhattanhenge.
For two days every spring and summer, the sunset lines up with Manhattan’s street grid, creating a gorgeous celestial spectacle. For a brief moment, the sun’s golden rays illuminate the city’s buildings and traffic with a breathtaking glow.
“It’s the best sunset picture of the year that you will have in this beautiful city,” Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History said to The Times in a 2017 interview. “Sometimes they call it the Instagram holiday.”
Manhattanhenge’s name is a homage to Stonehenge, the monument in England believed to have been constructed by prehistoric people and used in rituals related to the sun. During the summer solstice, the sunrise there is perfectly framed by its stone slabs.
… Some 200 years ago, the architects who created the plan for modern Manhattan decided to build it using a grid system with avenues that run north and south and streets east and west. That choice inadvertently set the stage for Manhattanhenge, according to Dr. Faherty.
(15) ONLY YOU CAN OUTRUN FOREST FIRES. Science Alert reports “Wild New Study Links Humans Walking Upright to Exploding Stars Millions of Years Ago “
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. According to a hypothesis astronomers have laid out in a new paper, the exploding stars at the end of their lives – supernovae – could have bathed Earth in cosmic radiation, beginning around 8 million years ago, and peaking around 2.6 million years ago.
This radiation would have ionised the lower atmosphere, likely resulting in an increase in cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. This, in turn, could have increased forest fires – eradicating the forests of Africa, where early humans are thought to have originated, and allowing the savannah to take their place.
You see, bipedal locomotion confers a number of advantages to human species, especially in the African savannah where height increases visibility.…
“Not as crazy as it sounds” – but maybe “not as convincing as you’d like,” too.
(16) HUGO FINALISTS. Garik16 continues with “Reviewing the 2019 Hugo Nominees: Best Novelette”.
In this post, I’ll be going over the nominees for Best Novelette. Novellettes are defined by the Hugos as works between 7,500 and 17,500 words, so these are stories that can be read in a single sitting, although, they still require a little bit of time to do that (for the longer end stories). I’m generally not the biggest reader of shorter fiction, so most of the nominees here were new to me (I’d only read 2 of the 6 nominated stories prior to the packet being released). Still, I really enjoyed pretty much all of the nominees – so I think all of these six are award worthy, and choosing how to rank them was not particularly easy….
(17) BOOKSTORE BLUES. “WH Smith ‘worst’ retailer in UK, says Which? survey”.
WH Smith has been ranked the UK’s worst High Street retailer for the second year in a row, according to a Which? survey of 7,700 shoppers.
…The poll, which covered 100 retailers, rated the chain “very poor” for value for money and in-store experience.
Last week, outgoing boss Steve Clarke admitted it was an issue, telling the BBC it was the “most painful aspect of my job”.
He said for some stores, there was a trade-off between being profitable or redecorating.
(18) NOT ALL IN YOUR HEAD. BBC investigates “Why you shouldn’t trust your food cravings”.
…Most of us know what it feels like to experience food cravings. We usually crave higher calorie foods, which is why cravings are associated with weight gain and increased body mass index (BMI). But the story we tell ourselves about where these cravings come from could determine how easily we give into them.
It’s widely believed that cravings are our body’s way of signalling to us that we’re deficient in a certain nutrient – and for pregnant women, their cravings signal what their baby needs. But is this really true?
Much of the research into cravings has instead found that there are probably several causes for cravings – and they’re mostly psychological.
…There is evidence suggesting that the trillions of bacteria in our guts can manipulate us to crave, and eat, what they need – which isn’t always what our body needs.
This is because microbes are looking out for their own interests, says Athena Aktipis, assistant professor at Arizona State University’s department of psychology. And they’re good at doing this.
“The gut microbes that are best at surviving inside us end up being more frequent in the next generation. They have the evolutionary advantage of being better at affecting us in ways that get us to preferentially feed them,” she says.
(19) MOOD RING FOR MILLENNIALS? BGR: “Amazon reportedly developing a wearable that recognizes human emotions”. Mike Kennedy says, “I don’t think anything needs to be said past, ‘Gee, what could go wrong with that?’”
In its latest effort to be involved in every aspect of our lives, Amazon is reportedly working on a new voice-activated wearable device that is capable of recognizing human emotions. According to Bloomberg, the wearable will be worn on the wrist, like a watch, and is described as a health and wellness product in internal documents. Lab126, the team behind the Echo and Fire Phone, is working on the device alongside the Alexa voice team…
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In The Quintet of the Sunset on Vimeo, Jie Weng looks at how five cats, including Business Cat, Workout Cat, and Race Car Cat, view their owner.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Hampus Eckerman, Glenn Hauman, Chip Hitchcock, ULTRAGOTHA, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]