(1) OPEN DISCUSSION OF OPEN LETTER. Several authors have responded to the challenges raised in the letter posted here: “Writers Circulate Letter of Concern About Saudi Worldcon Bid”.
- Robert J. Sawyer wrote extensive comments about the Open Letter in this public Facebook post.
- Seanan McGuire, an author who’s also been a Worldcon runner, has added her insights on Twitter, Thread starts here.
- Cat Valente’s thread starts here, and the comments are along these lines —
(2) EVANIER ON MALTIN PODCAST. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leonard and Jessie Maltin’s latest podcast is with their long-time friend, Mark Evanier. (Click here.) Evanier talks about how he began his career as Jack Kirby’s assistant and then goes on to discuss his years at Hanna-Barbera, including what it was like to work with Tex Avery and Mel Blanc and how Jonathan Winters once used some downtime to do some improv in his office. Also discussed was his six-year run as the writer of Garfield and Friends, and how he gave work to such comedy legends as George O’Hanlon (the original voice of George Jetson) and Rose Marie. He also discusses his role at Comic-Con, where he is one of six people who has attended every Comic-Con. As part of his Comic-Con segment, he gives some valuable advice about running panels. He is also an author, with his edition of the seventh volume of The Complete Pogo about to be sent to the printer. Evanier’s long-time partner was Carolyn Kelly, daughter of Pogo creator Walt Kelly, and Evanier vows to finish the definitive Pogo collection Carolyn Kelly began.
Ray Bradbury is discussed beginning at minute 56, and Evanier discusses what it was like to interview Bradbury in front of several thousand Comic-Con attendees. (He routinely asked Harlan Ellison fr advice about what questions to ask Bradbury). He notes that Bradbury always liked to go to the hucksters room to see what was new in comics and how he would always happily sign his works. Leonard Maltin noted that Bradbury had a youthful spirit throughout his life and “never lost his sense of wonder.”
(3) FUTURE TENSE. The July 2020 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Legal Salvage,” by Holli Mintzer, a story about artificial intelligence, thrifting, and taste.
Twenty, 25 years ago, someone lost a building.
It started as a U-Haul self-storage franchise, and switched allegiance between a few other companies as it changed owners. The last owner had been running it as an independent when he died. His heirs were halfway across the country, and before they could do anything about it, one of them died and the other two spent down the rest of the estate fighting over how to split it….
It was published along with a response essay, “How Can an A.I. Develop Taste?” by Kate Compton, an artificial intelligence coder, artist, and educator.
…As humans, our possessions mean many different things to us. Their value may be practical. We need a blender to make smoothies and a bike to get to work on time. But many objects also have sentimental value and hook into the complex web of human emotions and relationships. We may have aspirational objects that tell us who we want to be (someone who goes camping more, exercises more, would wear those impractical shoes). We also keep nostalgic objects that remind us, through memory or our senses, of people or values that we want to remember. Sometimes our collections simply “spark joy” (in Marie Kondo’s words) in some unknowable way.
In “Legal Salvage,” we meet three collectors: Mika, Ash, and Roz. We also learn about people who abandoned power tools or neon signs or commemorative saltshakers in their storage lockers. We don’t know what these objects meant to the vanished collectors….
(4) JACKSON ON SCREEN. “Josephine Decker Releases A New Film About The Horror Writer Shirley Jackson” – transcript of an NPR inetrview.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
The new movie “Shirley” starts after the author Shirley Jackson has published her most famous short story. It’s called “The Lottery.” You might have read it in high school.
JOSEPHINE DECKER: The town annually stones to death one of its members because that’s just what’s done. You know, I think there’s a reason that that has stayed in our canon. It’s incredibly intense to talk about institutionalized oppression.
SHAPIRO: That’s the movie’s director Josephine Decker. Her film “Shirley” is a fictional story about a real person. And so I asked Decker how she compares the author, who died in 1965, to the character Shirley Jackson that Elisabeth Moss plays in the movie.
DECKER: It was a tricky challenge I guess you could say. But our MO was really just to prioritize making the audience feel like they were inside of a Shirley Jackson story. We put that above all else. So we were always adventuring into her fiction as the primary source for our inspiration of how to approach the film. We were very clear that we wanted to make a film that wouldn’t be mistaken for a biopic, even though I think it totally (laughter) has. It’s hard – when you call a film “Shirley,” I guess people get confused.
(5) CAMP IN TROUBLE. Huntsville’s Space Camp, and the US Space & Rocket Center museum in general, are in deep financial trouble due to knock-on effects of the pandemic and are seeking donations to help stay open: “U.S. Space & Rocket Center launches ‘Save Space Camp’ Campaign” on WAFF 48.
(6) THAT’S STRANGE! Yahoo! News shares tweeted footage from four years ago in “Benedict Cumberbatch Surprised Fans In Comic Store As Doctor Strange In New Video”.
A behind-the-scenes video of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange delightfully stopping by a comic bookstore is making the rounds, and it’s exactly a bright spot the internet needed these days.
Scott Derrickson, the director and co-writer of “Doctor Strange,” on Monday night shared a “never before shown moment” of Cumberbatch, in full character regalia, casually walking into. a comic book store in New York City during the filming of the 2016 superhero flick.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAYS.
- July 28, 1940 – Bugs Bunny, the iconic cartoon character, made his official debut in the 1940 Oscar nominated short, The Wild Hare. The Looney Tunes standout was first voiced by actor Mel Blanc. NPR “Morning Edition.” “What’s Up, Doc? Bugs Bunny’s Age. Cartoon Rabbit Turns 80”.
- July 28, 1955 — X Minus One’s “The Embassy” first aired. The story is that a man walks into a detective agency wanting to hire them to find the Martians that he says are here on Earth. It’s based on a story by Donald Wollheim published in Astounding Science Fiction in the March 1942 issue. The script is by George Lefferts. The cast includes Joseph Julian and Barry Kroger. (CE)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born July 28, 1844 – Gerard Manley Hopkins. Including this original extraordinary poet will startle any Christian. “What? That’s not fantasy!” Be kind, brothers and sisters. Discovering him was worth all the quarreling with my teacher after high test scores put me in English IV my freshman year in college. Read this; and yes, it’s a sonnet. If you didn’t look up “Heraclitean” and you should have, shame on you. (Died 1889) [JH]
- Born July 28, 1866 – Beatrix Potter. Famous for The Tale of Peter Rabbit; two dozen of these. Prizewinning breeder of Herdwick sheep. Conservationist. Careful mycological paintings finally published in W.P.K. Findlay’s Wayside & Woodland Fungi (1967); Linnean Society finally apologized for sexist disregard of her research (1997). (Died 1943) [JH]
- Probably best known for Tales of Peter Rabbit but I’d submit her gardening skills were second to none as well as can be seen in the Green Man review of Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life here (Died 1943.) (CE)
- Born July 28, 1928 — Angélica Gorodischer, 92. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got translated by Ursula Le Guin into English. Likewise Prodigies.has been translated by Sue Burke for Small Beer Press. (CE)
- Born July 28, 1931 – Jay Kay Klein. For decades he was fandom’s photographer. He wrote Analog’s Biologfor thirty years. Fan Guest of Honor at Discon II the 32nd Worldcon. Big Heart (our highest service award). First Fandom Hall of Fame. At the end he donated some 70,000 photos to the Eaton Collection at U. Cal. Riverside; so far 6,000 digitized and available electronically. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2012) [JH]
- Born July 28, 1941 — Bill Crider. Though primarily a writer of horror fiction, he did write three stories in the Sherlock Holmes metaverse: The Adventure of the Venomous Lizard, The Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul and The Case of the Vanished Vampire. He also wrote a Sookie Stackhouse short story, “Don’t Be Cruel” in the Charlaine Harris Meta-verse. (Died 2018.) (CE)
- Born July 28, 1947 – Colin Hay, 73. Six dozen covers, a few interiors. Here is The Left Hand of Darkness. Here is Orbitsville. Here is Rendezvous with Rama. Here is Before the Golden Age vol. 2. [JH]
- Born July 28, 1955 – Ed Green, 65. Hard worker at cons within reach, local, regional, world. Chaired Loscon 24 and 31, co-chaired La-la’s Eleven (9th in a series of relaxacons, named with variations of “La-la Con” i.e. for Los Angeles and La-la Land). Served as LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) President. Evans-Freehafer Award for service to LASFS. [JH]
- Born July 28, 1966 — Larry Dixon, 54. Husband of Mercedes Lackey, both GoHs of CoNZealand, who collaborates with her on such series as SERRAted Edge and The Mage Wars Trilogy. He contributed artwork to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons source books, including Oriental Adventures, Epic Level Handbook, and Fiend Folio. (CE)
- Born July 28, 1968 — Rachel Blakely, 52. You’ll most likely know her as Marguerite Krux on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as that was her longest running genre role. She was briefly Alcmene on Young Hercules, and played Gael’s Mum on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And showed as Penelope in the “Ulysses” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. (CE)
- Born July 2, 1980 – Kelly van der Laan, 40. Four novels, three shorter stories in her Spring (in Dutch, Lentagon) series – first novel came from Nanowrimo; a dozen more short stories. “Pink Water” won first prize in the Fantastic Story contest. Collection Lost Souls just released in February. Likes Corey, King, Lynch, Martin, Sanderson, Rothfuss. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Is Herman the subject of alien catch-and-release?
(10) FROSTY IN SPACE. Official ice cream of the Space Force TV show, “Ben and Jerry’s Boots on The Mooooo’N.” Here are four minutes of laughs about the ice cream in “Boots on the Moooon: Space Force R & D Diaries.”
(11) LAST CHANCE TO SEE. BBC reports “Van Gogh: Postcard helps experts ‘find location of final masterpiece'”.
A postcard has helped to find the probable spot where Vincent van Gogh painted what may have been his final masterpiece, art experts say.
The likely location for Tree Roots was found by Wouter van der Veen, the scientific director of the Institut Van Gogh.
He recognised similarities between the painting and a postcard dating from 1900 to 1910.
The postcard shows trees on a bank near the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise.
The site is 150m (492ft) from the Auberge Ravoux, the inn in the village, where Van Gogh stayed for 70 days before taking his own life in 1890.
(12) STEVEN KNOWS BEST. In Yahoo! Entertainment’s “‘Waterworld’ at 25: How Kevin Costner’s choice to ignore Steven Spielberg resulted in one of the most expensive movies ever”, Ethan Alter interviews Waterworld screenwriter Peter Rader, who says that Steven Spielberg’s advice to director Kevin Reynolds and star Kevin Costner to film most of Waterworld in a tank rather than on the water led to colossal cost overruns when the film’s sets were destroyed in a typhoon.
Memo to all aspiring filmmakers: When Steven Spielberg tells you not to do something, you’d be wise to listen. Kevin Costner and Kevin Reynolds learned that lesson the hard way during the production of their 1995 action epic, Waterworld. Set in a dystopian tomorrow where the polar ice caps have melted, erasing “dryland” and bathing the world in water, the movie was conceived as an ambitious aquatic Western with a science-fiction twist. But when Waterworld washed ashore in theaters 25 years ago this summer, all anyone could talk about was the out-of-control budget and behind-the-scenes creative battles that culminated with Costner replacing Reynolds in the editing room. According to Waterworld screenwriter, Peter Rader, the source of the movie’s many troubles stemmed from one fateful decision: the choice to shoot the entire film on the open water rather than in a controlled environment like a studio water tank….
(13) IN THE QUEUE. “Virgin Galactic set for last key rocket test flights”.
Virgin Galactic is about to start a key series of powered test flights of its passenger rocket plane.
The company’s Unity vehicle has so far conducted only glide flights after moving into its operational base in New Mexico earlier this year.
The powered ascents will see Unity ignite its hybrid rocket motor to climb to the edge of space.
These tests will set the stage for Virgin Galactic to introduce its commercial service.
Six hundred individuals have so far paid deposits to take a ride on Unity, with many of these individuals having put down their money a good number of years ago.
But George Whitesides, the company’s chief space officer, said their wait would soon be over.
“Our next flight will be just purely two pilots in the front to do a systems check,” he told BBC News.
“And then, once we’ve done that – well, we’re in pretty exciting territory because the plan is to start putting [four of our] people in the back. We haven’t shared exactly how many flights that will be because we’ve got to see how it goes. But it could be a fairly small number.”
(14) HAVE A LOOK AROUND. “The interior design of Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane” – BBC video.
Fare-paying passengers will have big windows to view space from the vehicle’s cabin.
(15) PUTTING IT TOGETHER. “Iter: World’s largest nuclear fusion project begins assembly” – BBC has the story.
The world’s biggest nuclear fusion project has entered its five-year assembly phase.
After this is finished, the facility will be able to start generating the super-hot “plasma” required for fusion power.
The £18.2bn (€20bn; $23.5bn) facility has been under construction in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, southern France.
Advocates say fusion could be a source of clean, unlimited power that would help tackle the climate crisis.
Iter is a collaboration between China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US. All members share in the cost of construction.
(16) STUCK IN A GROOVE. At the New York Times, two space journalists say “Too Much Mars? Let’s Discuss Other Worlds”.
Three government space agencies around the world are getting ready to return to Mars this summer. Along with China and the United Arab Emirates, the United States plans to land the fifth NASA rover, Perseverance, on the red planet (along with a small, experimental helicopter, Ingenuity). But the rover’s most important job will be scooping up and caching some samples that humans or robots may eventually retrieve.
The planetary science community will cheer these missions. But many researchers have started asking, more loudly than usual, why we’re going back to Mars yet again. So we invited Rebecca Boyle and David W. Brown, two journalists who have devoted a fair share of their careers to interviewing space researchers at NASA and in academia, to discuss why Mars, a planet that lost its atmosphere long ago, seems to absorb so much of the oxygen — and budgetary resources — in the rooms where explorations of our solar system are decided.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Screen Junkies take on a classic in Honest Trailers: E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial on YouTube. The junkies spend most of their time bashing the ’80s cheesefest Mac And Me, which they show is almost like E.T. “except for one major difference: E.T. is good!” (DId you know Jennifer Aniston made her debut in Mac And Me?)
[Thanks to Joey Eschrich, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]