(1) AHH, THE CLASSICS. Newly available from British fandom’s premier historian, Rob Hansen, a reader of fannish literature intended as a companion to his classic history of UK fandom, THEN, assembled by Rob and the late Vince Clarke.
THEN Again: A UK Fanhistory Reader 1930-1979 is a free download (in multiple formats) from Dave Langford’s TAFF website, but please consider making a donation to the Transatlantic Fan Fund while you’re there. (And check out the other free downloads, too.)
This companion to Rob Hansen’s monumental THEN: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980 brings together the writings of many players on the stage of British and Irish fandom from 1930 to the end of 1979, telling in their own words the stories of SF groups – including the BSFA – fanzines, famous fannish addresses, bizarre fan activities and much more. There are 59 articles, several compiled from more then one source, plus an Introduction, Appendix and Afterword.
(2) SLIMED. Alyssa Wong was the victim today of right-wing media circulating a fake anti-Stan-Lee tweet (dated last November) reports Bleeding Cool. Wong herself tweeted a denial:
What seems to have triggered the attack on Wong, says Bleeding Cool, was this news:
Two weeks ago, Greg Pak announced that fantasy, sci-fi and comics writer Alyssa Wong was to work with him on the current Aero series, writing the character’s origin. This would be her first work for Marvel Comics.
As the article shows, Wong sharply criticized Marvel’s C.E. Cebulski in the past, but that’s not in dispute.
Meantime, outlets like Bounding Into Comics today ran stories capitalizing on the fake tweet. (I’m not linking to it, you do what you need to do.)
(3) LOTS TO LOVE. James Davis Nicoll is “Celebrating Poul Anderson with Five Favourite Works” at Tor.com.
Poul Anderson died on this day back in 2001. Anderson’s career spanned over sixty years, from the 1940s to the early 2000s. He wrote fiction and non-fiction. He published in many genres: fantasy, science fiction, historicals, and mysteries. He wrote dozens of novels and hundreds of shorter pieces, all of a level of quality that was never less than competent—and sometimes better. The often acerbic Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls Anderson “his generation’s most prolific sf writer of any consistent quality[…].” (He was the anti-Lionel Fanthorpe.)
(4) IT’S ONLY NATURAL. John Scalzi has tweeted the photo that goes with his Whatever post from the other day that said:
On my walks on my street these days, I pass by a dairy farm. Mostly the cows keep near the barn but yesterday they were down by the road, and they were very very interested in me as I walked by.
Of course these cows are interested — they’ve heard John knows when The Last Emperox is arriving.
(5) DRAWING A LINE IN THE SILICON. “Toby Walsh, A.I. Expert, Is Racing to Stop the Killer Robots” – the New York Times interviewed Walsh about his concerns.
What was your argument?
That you can’t have machines deciding whether humans live or die. It crosses new territory. Machines don’t have our moral compass, our compassion and our emotions. Machines are not moral beings.
The technical argument is that these are potentially weapons of mass destruction, and the international community has thus far banned all other weapons of mass destruction.
What makes these different from previously banned weaponry is their potential to discriminate. You could say, “Only kill children,” and then add facial recognition software to the system.
Moreover, if these weapons are produced, they would unbalance the world’s geopolitics. Autonomous robotic weapons would be cheap and easy to produce. Some can be made with a 3-D printer, and they could easily fall into the hands of terrorists.
Another thing that makes them terribly destabilizing is that with such weapons, it would be difficult to know the source of an attack. This has already happened in the current conflict in Syria. Just last year, there was a drone attack on a Russian-Syrian base, and we don’t know who was actually behind it.
(6) THE WILL TO WRITE. “Facebook funds AI mind-reading experiment”. The opening line of BBC’s article says “Facebook has announced a breakthrough in its plan to create a device that allows people to type just by thinking” – which sounds like it should be easy for a company that already has people typing without thinking.
It has funded a study that developed machine-learning algorithms capable of turning brain activity into speech
It worked on epilepsy patients who had already had recording electrodes placed on their brains to assess the origins of their seizures, ahead of surgery.
Facebook hopes it will pave the way for a “fully non-invasive, wearable device” that can process 100 words per minute.
University of California San Francisco scientists asked the patients to answer out loud a list of simple multiple-choice questions ordered randomly.
And the algorithms learned to identify:
the question they had been asked, 75% of the time
their chosen answer, 61% of the time
“Most previous approaches have focused on decoding speech alone,” Prof Eddie Chang said, “but here we show the value of decoding both sides of a conversation – both the questions someone hears and what they say in response.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born July 31, 1932 — Ted Cassidy. He’s best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. if you’ve got a good ear, you’ll recall that he narrated The Incredible Hulk series. And he played the part of the android Ruk in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” on Trek, and provided the voices of the more strident version of Balok in the episode “The Corbomite Maneuver” and the Gorn in the episode “Arena”. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode “The Napoleon’s Tomb Affair”, he was Edgar, who kidnapped, tortured, and repeatedly attempted to kill Napoleon and Illya. (Died 1979.)
- Born July 31, 1951 — Jo Bannister, 68. Though best know as a British crime fiction novelist, she has three SH novels to her credit, all written in the early Eighties — The Matrix, The Winter Plain andA Cactus Garden. ISFDB lists one short story by her as genre, “Howler”, but one I wasn’t aware that Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine printed genre fiction which is where it appeared first.
- Born July 31, 1955 — Daniel M. Kimmel, 64. His essays on classic genre films were being published in The Internet Review of Science Fiction from 2005–2010 and are now in Space and Time. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association.
- Born July 31, 1956 — Michael Biehn, 63. Best known in genre circles as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss. He’s also as being The Sandman in a single episode of Logan’s Run.
- Born July 31, 1959 — Kim Newman, 60. Though best known For his Anno Dracula series, I’d like to single him out for his early work, Nightmare Movies: A critical history of the horror film, 1968–88, a very serious history of horror films. It was followed up with the equally great Wild West Movies: Or How the West Was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten.
- Born July 31, 1962 — Wesley Snipes, 57. The first actor to be Blade in that Blade film franchise. There’s a new Blade actor though they name escapes right now. I also like him as Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man.
- Born July 31, 1965 — J. K. Rowling, 54. I will confess that the novels were not my cup of Earl Grey hot but I loved the films. Anyone here read her Cormoran Strike crime series?
- Born July 31, 1976 — John Joseph Adams, 43. Anthologist of whom I’m very fond of The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West which he did. He was the Assistant Editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for nearly a decade, and he’s been editing both Lightspeed and Nightmare Magazine since the early part of this decade.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- xkcd jokes about ebook reading habits.
(9) A WHIZ OF A WIZ. ModernCryptid muses about D&D interior design. Thread starts here.
(10) THE DOCTOR IS IN…THE COMPUTER? Smithsonian Magazine: “Will Artificial Intelligence Improve Health Care for Everyone?”
Tagline: “A.I.-driven medical tools could democratize health care, but some worry they could also worsen”
There is no shortage of optimism about A.I. in the medical community. But many also caution the hype surrounding A.I. has yet to be realized in real clinical settings. There are also different visions for how A.I. services could make the biggest impact. And it’s still unclear whether A.I. will improve the lives of patients or just the bottom line for Silicon Valley companies, health care organizations, and insurers.
(11) LE LOCH NESS. Look out! “Giant Serpent Emerges From the Sea Off the Coast of France”.
Just off the shore of the Loire estuary outside of Nantes, France, a slithering serpent rises from the water. Completed in 2012, Serpent d’océan is an impressive 425-foot (130 meters) sculpture by French Chinese contemporary artist Huang Yong Ping and is part of the Estuaire permanent public art collection along the estuary’s 37 miles.
The aluminum skeleton of the serpent is continually covered and uncovered by the tides, excavating itself as the water level decreases and revealing its archeological remains. The curving shape of the serpent’s spine mirrors the form of the nearby Saint-Nazaire bridge, harmonizing the creature with its surroundings.
(12) SMASH HIT. BBC finds Disney has gotten into a habit: “The Lion King hits $1bn box office mark”.
The Lion King has become the fourth Disney film this year to make $1bn (£821m) in worldwide box office sales.
The Disney remake of the 1994 classic has achieved the feat less than three weeks after being released in cinemas.
The movie, which features the voices of Beyonce and Donald Glover, joins Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel and Aladdin in Disney’s $1bn class of 2019.
As reported by Variety, director Jon Favreau’s version is already the fifth-biggest global release of of the year.
(13) NON LOCATION. “The Lion King – how VR brought the animals to life” – a BBC video.
Director of Disney’s The Lion King, Jon Favreau, has told BBC Click how they created a completely digital 3D environment with 3D digital animals.
“We had a full live-action film crew in VR, operating camera equipment as though it was a live-action set,” said Favreau.
The crew achieved a documentary look by limiting themselves to the camera platforms that would be available to them if they were out on location filming live animals, he explained.
The digital characters and environment were created by visual effects company MPC.
(14) IT’S DANCEABLE. For the ages: “Could La Folia be history’s most enduring tune?”
Why did this humble tune, first conjured by medieval farmers, capture so many people’s imaginations and even feature in The Addams Family? Andrea Valentino takes a look.
Checking the pop charts today is simple. Want to know the most popular artist on Spotify? Just a few clicks will take you to Ed Sheeran and his 72 million monthly listeners. What about the most popular song? The scruffy ginger-haired heartthrob strikes again. Sheeran’s Shape Of You was the first track to be streamed a bewildering two billion times. The numbers elsewhere are even more astounding. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s Despacito has over 6.3 billion views on YouTube.
But for all that, the internet can’t tell you everything. What, for example, is the most popular tune ever? Not the most covered song: that would be Yesterday by The Beatles. But rather the most enduring melody, a simple theme that has been shaped by countless hands. One of the strongest candidates is a tune few will recognise. Yet for centuries, La Folia has dazzled hundreds of composers and musicians, up to the present day. Its story tells us much about the history of music, and maybe even something about ourselves….
(15) MCU COMMANDMENTS. ScreenRant chronicles “25 Strict Rules Marvel Actors Have To Follow” if they want to keep making the big bucks.
In today’s ScreenRant video special, we’re going to look at some of the rules that Marvel devised. You lucky bunch. The video has a variety of different rules. Some rules dictate the public personas that the actors must show. Another rule looks at which other production companies that the thespians can’t work for. A different collection of rules include what the actors can be expected to do when on set. And finally a different bunch of rules that cover Marvel’s obsession with reducing the possibility of film leaks. So, strap in. Get your cape ready. And relax whilst we fill you in on Marvel’s collection of rules.
[Thanks to Moshe Feder, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Contrarius, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]