(1) LOOTERS HIT MORE SFF BUSINESSES. Bleeding Cool has a roundup about genre businesses struck by vandals: “8 Comic Stores Hit By Looting Across the USA”. They include:
- Los Angeles County: Golden Apple Comics, Hi De Hi Comics, JapanLA,
- San Diego County: Crazy Fred’s Cards And Comics (local NBC news report here.)
- Chicago: Graham Crackers, Challengers Comics + Conversation
- Berwyn, IL: Top Cut Comics
- Minneapolis: DreamHaven Books and Comics (Publishers Weekly has an overview of all the local bookshops that were hit, including notes on Uncle Hugo’s and DreamHaven: “Minneapolis Bookstores Deal With Fire, Vandalism During Chaotic Weekend”.)
Alt-right blog Bounding Into Comics had details about yet another store:
- Grand Rapids, MI: Vault of Midnight
(2) DREAMHAVEN UPDATE. Katya Reimann helped out at DreamHaven and learned more details about the vandals who hit that shop.
…”Luckily” for Dreamhaven (which stocks fantasy and science fiction books, comics, and collectibles), the four white teenagers who broke in were incompetent non-professionals. They trashed things, tipped shelves, smashed the glass display cases, and tried to burn the building down. Fortunately, the book used to try to light the fire failed to properly catch.
Neighbors saw the foursome running from the building carrying armloads of stuff (including a replica Captain America shield which they abandoned in the street) before hopping into an old gray beater car and driving off.
(3) UNCLE HUGO’S UPDATE. A post on the bookstore’s website emphasized: “Don Has Not Authorized Any Fundraising”.
Elizabeth here. I spoke with Don this afternoon regarding this topic and am conveying his views here. He has spoken with several people about crowdfunding, and asked them NOT to implement anything on his behalf. One person refused to comply with Don’s request, and Don is following up to have that effort stopped.
There are a lot of complex issues involved in any possible rebuilding of the store, including insurance, city ordinances, and business requirements for newly constructed buildings (as opposed to existing structures). Until Don has definite information about all these things, he will not be making any decisions regarding rebuilding.
At that point, if he decides to crowdfund, he will do it in under his own name, and you will know about it because the information will be posted here on the store website, and as an official store Facebook post. In the meantime, anyone else purporting to be fundraising for the store is doing it without Don’s consent, and against his expressed wishes.
Don is making some interim plans for operating a limited mail-order business, and we’ll keep you informed as things develop. He does appreciate everyone’s support and enthusiasm.
Also, store dog Echo is doing fine, I petted her this afternoon and fed her a small snack (as is my custom).
Elsewhere The Federalist, a site that in the past I’ve looked at only when Jon Del Arroz appeared there, ran a piece by Tony Daniel, “Minneapolis Rioters Burned One Of America’s Most Beloved Independent Bookstores To The Ground”, with his own idiosyncratic ideas why Don Blyly qualifies for sympathy:
…Uncle Hugo’s was known in the often politically contentious science fiction community as a place where good books and good storytelling was prized above all else. Blyly took a decidedly nonpartisan stance when it came to what he sold. The physical store supplied a wide mailing list as well, with often hard to find first and special editions of books.
(4) AGENT OF CHAOS. Publishers Weekly reports: “Three Agents Resign After Red Sofa Literary Owner’s Tweet”.
The civil unrest in the Twin Cities continues to take its toll on Minnesota’s literary community—sometimes in unexpected ways. Thursday evening, the night before protesters set fire to two adjoining Minneapolis indie bookstores and destroying them both, the reaction to a St. Paul–based literary agent’s tweet ended up gutting the boutique agency she owns.
Three agents affiliated with Red Sofa Literary tweeted this past weekend that they have resigned in response to owner Dawn Frederick’s tweet, leaving one subsidiary rights executive besides Frederick still employed there. Frederick’s official Red Sofa account on Twitter has been removed.
In the tweet that set off the resignations, Frederick wrote that the gas station on her block, in the city’s Groveland/ Macalester neighborhood across the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, was “officially getting looted.” She added that she was calling the police, “as someone will need to board up this place.” Almost immediately, several followers responded, asking Frederick not to call police on anyone in the midst of widespread civil disobedience in the Twin Cities. (There is a growing concern among area residents and other observers that the police, armed with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters, are targeting people of color protesting George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer.) One follower, author Mandy Ryan Sandford, tweeted, “Please do not call the cops right now. Imagine if you were black right now.” Although the exchange between the two was later removed, others captured screenshots that still remain on Twitter….
The news prompted Foz Meadows to share her own experience with the agency and Dawn Frederick: “Red Sofa”.
…This is a small matter in comparison to the ongoing protests over the extrajudicial murder of George Floyd and the egregious police brutality with which those protests have been met, but it is still, to me, an important matter, as how the SFF community responds to racism and bigotry in other contexts will always relate to how it deals with internal gatekeeping. After what’s happened, I don’t feel that I can in good conscience continue to remain silent.
Last week, Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary, who lives in Minneapolis, tweeted that she had called the police about “looters” at the gas station near her house in the wake of protests about the death of George Floyd. When other people pointed out that calling the police could potentially result in more violence towards Black people in particular – the Minneapolis protests were peaceful until police turned water cannons and rubber bullets on the crowd, precipitating the riots through a series of violent escalations – Fredrick doubled down in defense of her actions. When one of her agents, Kelly Van Sant, announced her resignation from the agency over the matter, Frederick posted a statement to the Red Sofa Literary website, insisting that there were “zero protesters” present at the gas station, just “straight up looters.” (How she could be certain there was no overlap between the two while watching from a distance is, presumably, unknown.)
Since then, two more Red Sofa agents, Amanda Rutter and Stacey Graham, have likewise resigned from Red Sofa in protest, while several of Frederick’s clients have dropped her. It was only after this that Frederick published a second statement, apologising for her actions; she has also deleted her twitter account. As as a result, I have seen many members of the SFF community debating whether or not the reaction Frederick received was proportional to her offence, with some asserting her credentials as a long-standing advocate for diversity in the SFF community as a reason why she has been treated unfairly.
It is for this reason that I have decided to speak publicly about my own past experiences with Dawn Frederick….
An extended narrative follows.
(5) THE GUARDIAN REMEMBERS TOTAL RECALL WHOLESALE. [Item by Olav Rokne,] Guardian film critic Scott Tobias (@scott_tobias) tackles the 30th anniversary of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi actioner Total Recall. Writing in the Guardian, Tobias explores the themes of totalitarian governments, propaganda, and colonization. In doing so, he makes a decent case to reconsider Total Recall’s canonical standing as the middle chapter of director Paul Verhoeven’s science fiction trilogy. “Total Recall at 30: a thrilling reminder of Paul Verhoeven at his best”.
“Verhoeven pushed the politics of RoboCop and Starship Troopers more to the foreground than he does in Total Recall, but he shows again how propaganda networks brand the resistance as “terrorists” and describe their indiscriminate slaughter as “[restoring] order with minimal use of force”. Total Recall suggests that colonization is an opportunity to terraform a reality that’s entirely managed by the terraformers, without a scrap of land that regular people can call their own.”
(6) LOST, BUT NOT IN SPACE. Emily Carney’s piece on autobiographies of failed or angry ex-astronauts is worth noting: “The genre-defining astronaut/ex-astronaut autobiographies” in The Space Review.
Books still matter. Throughout the last sixty-plus years of spaceflight, literature chronicling spaceflight history and heritage, which runs the gamut from detailing hardware and rocketry to describing the features of the Moon and various solar system objects, have dazzled and awed readers, often introducing audiences to the subject. However, frequently the books that draw the most interest from readers are about the people: the astronauts, the flight controllers, and the workers. First-person accounts of a particular period can function as a “time machine,” pulling the reader closer into a project’s or program’s orbit (pardon the pun.)
…The Making of an Ex-Astronaut, by Brian O’Leary (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970)
Published 50 years ago, this choice might be somewhat controversial. Dr. Brian O’Leary, perhaps NASA’s most famous (or infamous?) ex-astronaut, doomed himself to a permanent exile from the fighter jock-heavy astronaut corps with the sentence, “Flying just isn’t my cup of tea.” But O’Leary’s 1970 sort-of-memoir mixed with op-ed essays, The Making of an Ex-Astronaut, was the first autobiographical work that began to lift the veil obscuring the astronaut corps during 1960s NASA. (Another work that would fully lift the veil will be discussed later.) Moreover, it set the scene. You can envision a bespectacled O’Leary, age 27, walking around Houston’s Manned Spacecraft Center, looking bewildered, out-of-place, and anxious as he realizes he got himself waaaaaaaay in over his head with a job he can’t quite fulfill. Many of us have been exactly where O’Leary was at the time—except unlike us, his resignation would be broadcast all over the world.
(7) A SIGNPOST OF QUALITY. The Hugo Book Club Blog considers the long-term impact of “The Astounding Award”.
…Reviewing the list of Astounding Award finalists and winners makes it clear that part of the joy and value of this award is that it can help new generations of readers find works by creators whose careers never soared to Scalzian heights, or whose years of writing were few in number.
…The fact that Melko, Roessner and Carter do not seem to be publishing new books or stories anymore does not diminish in any way the depth of their talent, or the worthiness of their existing works. But it would, unfortunately, have made it significantly less likely that they will find new readers if awards like the Astounding didn’t exist.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- June 1, 1984 — Star Trek III: The Search for Spock premiered. It was written and produced by Harve Bennett, and directed by Leonard Nimoy. It starred William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan. George Takei, Walter Koeni, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick and Christopher Lloyd. Critics generally loved it and thought Nimoy caught the feel of the series; audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 61% rating. It would finish third at Aussiecon Two behind 2010: A Space Odyssey which won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo and Ghostbusters which came in second.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born June 1, 1858 – Frank Ver Beck. Wood engravings; illustrations for Collier’s, The Ladies’ Home Journal, Scribner’s; superlatively, animals, sometimes in a style eventually called anthropomorphic. Twenty books, e.g. A Handbook of Golf for Bears, and in particular Baum’s Magical Monarch of Mo. (Died 1933) [JH]
- Born June 1, 1914 — George Sayer. His Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times which won a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies is considered one of the best looks at that author. He also wrote the liner notes for the J. R. R. Tolkien Soundbook, a Cadmeon release of Christopher Tolkien reading from excerpts from The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. (Died 2005.) (CE)
- Born June 1, 1928 — Janet Grahame Johnston and Anne Grahame Johnstone. British twin sisters who were children’s book illustrators best remembered for their prolific artwork and for illustrating Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians. They were always more popular with the public than they were critics who consider them twee. (Janet died 1979, Anne died 1998.) (CE)
- Born June 1, 1940 — René Auberjonois. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder Woman, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, The Bionic Woman, Batman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Enterprise, Stargate SG-1 andWarehouse 13. He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming productions in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series. (Died 2019.) (CE)
- Born June 1, 1947 — Jonathan Pryce, 73. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. (CE)
- Born June 1, 1947 – Adrienne Fein. One of 3 Founding Mothers of CMUSFS (Carnegie Mellon Univ. SF Society). Introduced Arthur Hlavaty to apas (apa = amateur press ass’n, originally a way of distributing zines, eventually a kind of fan activity in itself). Known as a loccer (loc or LoC = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines) but no slouch as a fanartist, e.g. this cover for Granfalloon 1 and interiors there, this one for It Comes in the Mail 18, interiors for Riverside Quarterly. (Died 1990) [JH] [Corrected 6/2/20 as noted in comments by Arthur Hlavaty and John Hertz.]
- Born June 1, 1947 – Chris Moore. Four hundred sixty covers, eighty interiors. Collection, Journeyman. Here’s a cover for The Stars My Destination; one for The City and the Stars; one for Hexarchate Stories. Here’s his story. [JH]
- Born June 1, 1948 – Mike Meara. Nova Award for Best Fanwriter. Administered the FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards at Corflu XXXII (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable). Fanzine, A Meara for Observers. [JH]
- Born June 1, 1950 — Michael McDowell. His best-remembered works are the screenplays for the Tim Burton‘s Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. He also wrote scripts for Tales from The Darkside, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Amazing Stories, Tales from the Crypt and Monsters. He’s an accomplished horror writer as well but I’ve not read any of his work. (Died 1999.) (CE)
- Born June 1, 1958 – Ian Gunn. Seven dozen interiors in Banana Wings, Focus, and like that; in Program Books for the 51st Worldcon (ConFrancisco), 52nd (ConAdian), 57th (Aussiecon III); logo for The Frozen Frog; 10 Ditmars (one won by a story!), 2 FAAn Awards, 1 Hugo at last. (Died 1998) [JH]
- Born June 1, 1965 — Tim Eldred, 55. Author and illustrator of Grease Monkey, a most excellent humorous take on space operas and uplifting species. As an illustrator alone, he was involved in Daniel Quinn’s superb The Man Who Grew Young. (CE)
- Born June 1, 1973 – C.E. Murphy. Two dozen novels, in particular The Walker Papers; two dozen shorter stories; one graphic novel. Born in Alaska, she moved to Ireland her ancestral homeland. Essay on Anne McCaffrey for the 77th Worldcon last year. Her Website is here. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Frank and Ernest meet space aliens who have a very friendly first contact.
(11) MORE TO READ. Publisher Joe Stech has released Compelling Science Fiction Issue 15, a magazine that specializes in “stories that are self-consistent, scientifically plausible, and technically detailed when necessary.”
Here are the five new stories that you can enjoy right now:
We start with Steve Rodgers’ “Housefly Tours”. Four hundred years in the future, a very special adventure tour takes tourists to spy on the only other sentient race ever discovered. But human mistakes and frailty may just ruin everything (9461 words). Our second story is “The Stillness of the Stars” by Jessica McAdams. A young woman escapes the lower-class decks of a generation ship only to find that those on the affluent upper decks have been lying about the journey on which they’ve all embarked (5627 words). The third story this issue, Dominic Teague’s “Portrait of a Rogue,” is a story about an investigative journalist who interviews a wealthy savant concerning his family’s shady history of scientific and artistic innovations (2000 words). Next we have “Two Moons” by Elena Pavlova. This one is a story about a young girl who must survive a coming-of-age trial outside the giant extra-terrestrial organism in which she lives (6500 words). The final story is “Drought and Blood” by Spencer Koelle. Amelia Okella’s life work is threatened by public suspicion when a man is found exsanguinated in a field of her bio-engineered drought-prevention plants (5900 words).
(12) ON BOARD THE ISS. “Astronauts on historic mission enter space station” — includes video.
US astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have docked with, and entered, the International Space Station (ISS).
Their Dragon capsule – supplied and operated by the private SpaceX company – attached to the bow section of the orbiting lab 422km above China.
After a wait for leak, pressure and temperature checks, the pair disembarked to join the Russian and American crew already on the ISS.
US astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have docked with the International Space Station (ISS), after a 19-hour journey.
The men will have to wait for leak and pressure checks to be completed before they can safely disembark and join the Russian and American crew already on the ISS.
(13) HISTORIC CARTOON CHARACTER AT CENTER OF RIGHTS DISPUTE. In the Washington Post, Robyn Dixon details the efforts of Russian animation company Soyuzmultfilm to reclaim the rights of cartoon character Cheburaska, which were sold to a Japanese firm in a 2005 dea the Russian company believes it cancelled in 2015 in a letter the Japanese say they never received. Dixon interviews Maya Balakirsky Katz, an art historian at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, who explains how Cheburaska and other Soviet animated films of the 1960s and 1970s were innovative because many of the animators were Jews who used the films as an outlet to comment on Soviet anti-Semitism. “Cheburashka was the beloved misfit of Soviet animation. It’s now a missing treasure for Russia.”
… The Soyuzmultfilm archives — and especially Cheburashka — offer a study in creative criticism of aspects of Soviet life.
Soviet censors tried to stifle the Cheburashka animations, which poked fun at nitpicking bureaucrats, polluting factory directors, nasty train conductors and the orthodoxy of the Soviet children’s movement, the Pioneers.
Still, the character Cheburashka only sees the best in people and is chirpy even in the gloomiest situation.
(14) OLD WINE IN NEW CASKS. BBC wonders “Could Poe teach Trump about wall building?”
If you think that the sort of things that millennials make trend on social media are entirely predictable, then you may need to think again.
A curious phenomenon has emerged on the micro-blogging site Tumblr. It’s perhaps been best summed up by one user called brinnanza: “Oh, giant company, you want your advertisement to go viral? Well this week the kids are obsessed with a short story written in 1846.”
The short story in question is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”, and unlikely as it may sound it’s inspired a series memes that thread together images and quotes from this macabre tale with more modern concerns.
…So what is it about this 170-year-old unhappy ending that resonates with today’s Tumblr users (who according to the Pew Research Center are mostly 18-29 year olds)?
…”The Cask of Amontillado is the new meme in reaction to the clown epidemic,” wrote Tumblr user memeufacturing. “We all became aware of the clown epidemic a week or two ago and now the new meme is luring and subsequently cementing a clown into your ancient cellar …”.
We should say that memeufacturing message is tongue-in-cheek (we hope)…
And that was just the start of the memestorm as Poe’s creepy classic was given all sorts of popular culture twists.
(15) SOURCING THE VIRUS. “U.S. and Chinese Scientists Trace Evolution of Coronaviruses in Bats” in a New York Times report.
Researchers whose canceled U.S. grant caused an outcry from other scientists urge preventive monitoring of viruses in southwestern China.
An international team of scientists, including a prominent researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has analyzed all known coronaviruses in Chinese bats and used genetic analysis to trace the likely origin of the novel coronavirus to horseshoe bats.
In their report, posted online Sunday, they also point to the great variety of these viruses in southern and southwestern China and urge closer monitoring of bat viruses in the area and greater efforts to change human behavior as ways of decreasing the chances of future pandemics.
The research was supported by a U.S. grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit, that was recently canceled by the National Institutes of Health. The grant, for more than $3 million, was well on its way to renewal, and the sudden reversal prompted an outcry in the scientific community.
Thirty-one U.S. scientific societies signed a letter of protest on May 20 to the N.I.H., and 77 Nobel laureates sent another letter to the N.I.H. and the Department of Health and Human Services seeking an investigation of the grant denial. The Nobelists said the cancellation appeared to be based on politics rather than a consideration of scientific merit.
…The researchers, mostly Chinese and American, conducted an exhaustive search for and analysis of coronaviruses in bats, with an eye to identifying hot spots for potential spillovers of these viruses into humans, and resulting disease outbreaks.
The genetic evidence that the virus originated in bats was already overwhelming. Horseshoe bats, in particular, were considered likely hosts because other spillover diseases, like the SARS outbreak in 2003, came from viruses that originated in these bats, members of the genus Rhinolophus.
None of the bat viruses are close enough to the novel coronavirus to suggest that it jumped from bats to humans. The immediate progenitor of the new virus has not been found, and may have been present in bats or another animal. Pangolins were initially suspected, although more recent analysis of pangolin coronaviruses suggests that although they probably have played a part in the new virus’s evolution, there is no evidence that they were the immediate source.
[Thanks to Bill, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Dale Nelson, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]