(1) STAR TREK CATCHES UP WITH THE PRESENT. The BBC story “Star Trek character Hikaru Sulu revealed as gay” says the Star Trek Beyond development is a salute to actor George Takei.
One of Star Trek’s best known characters, Hikaru Sulu, has been revealed as gay.
The character, played by John Cho in the current franchise, will be shown as having a same sex partner in the forthcoming Star Trek Beyond.
Cho told the Herald Sun the move was a nod to George Takei, the gay actor who played the character in the original 1960s television series.
The decision was taken by British star Simon Pegg, who wrote the screenplay.
(2) TAKEI UNIMPRESSED. Takei himself is not enthusiastic about the idea, he told The Hollywood Reporter.
The idea came from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new films and penned the Beyond screenplay, and director Justin Lin, both of whom wanted to pay homage to Takei’s legacy as both a sci-fi icon and beloved LGBT activist.
And so a scene was written into the new film, very matter-of-fact, in which Sulu is pictured with a male spouse raising their infant child. Pegg and Lin assumed, reasonably, that Takei would be overjoyed at the development — a manifestation of that conversation with Gene Roddenberry in his swimming pool so many years ago.
Except Takei wasn’t overjoyed. He had never asked for Sulu to be gay. In fact, he’d much prefer that he stay straight. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
He explains that Roddenberry was exhaustive in conceiving his Star Trek characters. (The name Sulu, for example, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate.) And Roddenberry had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.
(3) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HETEROSEXUAL FRONTIER. In the link above, Takei also discusses the Kirk/Uhura kiss, to which the BBC devoted several paragraphs in an article about classic Star Trek’s handling of black/white race issues.
In 1968, US television broadcast what many claim was the first interracial kiss on American airwaves. It occurred between two of the sexiest characters alive: Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura, on Star Trek. According to Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, “We received one of the largest batches of fan mail ever, all of it very positive, with many addressed to me from girls wondering how it felt to kiss Captain Kirk, and many to him from guys wondering the same thing about me.
(4) THE IDEA FOR FOLDING. The author of “Folding Beijing”, “Hugo-nominated Chinese author Hao Jingfang talks sci-fi, inner journeys and inequality” with the South China Morning Post.
For me it was heartbreaking to read about how people in different “spaces” had different amounts of time when they had access to daylight. That sounds like the most basic thing. How did you think about illustrating those discrepancies?
We always think that time is the only thing we share equally. So if time is divided unequally by social status, then inequality is complete. For me it was artistically striking to create this setting.
The other reason is perhaps economic because unemployment is always a problem in the US, in Europe, as well as in China. The Chinese government is afraid of unemployment, so sometimes it will maintain a plant or a factory to avoid huge unemployment. But in the future as technology develops, how will people deal with unemployment? Perhaps the easiest and cruellest method is to limit the time (they are awake), and then they will not create problems. So this setting provides an extreme solution to a social problem. I hope that we can find better solutions in real life, but in stories you can just push things to the extreme.
(5) MORE HUGO REVIEWS. Doris V. Sutherland, having completed her long series comparing the 2014 and 2015 Hugo nominees, moves on to discuss this year’s contenders – “2016 Hugo Reviews: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics.
(6) SF ART IN SCOTLAND. The Adventures in Time and Space exhibit runs July 7-October 2 at The Lighthouse in Glasgow.
Science fiction films exert a powerful grip on the human imagination. This innovative exhibition, curated by Berlin based leading Scots designer, Jon Jardine and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland will offer insights into the architecture of science fiction. It will compare the ideas of architectural visionaries with startling representations of buildings and cities from the birth of cinema to the present day.
Over 180 new works of art have been specially commisioned by Artists Ian Stuart Campbell, Douglas Prince, Ciana Pullen and Piotr Sell for the exhibition.
The Festival of Architecture 2016 is a year-long, Scotland-wide celebration of design, creativity and the built environment, led by The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
July 7, 1907 – Robert Anson Heinlein would have been 109 years old today.
(8) QUOTE OF THE DAY
According to Spider Robinson, the closing quotation for today’s edition of the emailed morning headline-summary The Economist Espresso is by Robert Heinlein: “Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”
(9) ABSTAIN. At Mad Genius Club, Kate Paulk looks over the nominees in the two editor categories — “Hugo Category Highlights – The Finalists – Best Editor, Short Form and Long Form”. She finds only Jerry Pournelle worthy of consideration in Short Form, and as for Long Form:
I think I’m going to have to sit out this category. There simply isn’t enough in it that’s caught my attention over the year for me to make a judgment, and I personally refuse to simply say “Oh, X is a good person and they’ve done a lot of good over the years”. That’s not what the award is for.
That’s pretty amazing, to think Paulk invested a whole year promoting the Sad Puppy cause while being bored by the output of nine of its ten Hugo-nominated editors.
(10) HUGOGAMI. Lisa Goldstein weighs in on Hugo nominated Novelette: “Folding Beijing” at inferior4+1.
“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu, is on the Rabid Puppies slate, but it also seems to be a popular story in its own right. There are other popular stories on the slate as well, in an attempt, I think, to confuse Hugo voters. Apparently we’re supposed to react like Harcourt Mudd’s robots in Star Trek: — “But it’s a Puppy choice! — But I like it! — But it’s a Puppy choice!” — and then our logic circuits overheat and our brains shut down.
(11) 2016 SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. “Gardner Dozois reviews Short Fiction, June 2016” at Locus Online.
He covers Asimov’s 4-5/16, Tor.com 1/6/16 – 4/13/16, Lightspeed 4/16, and Slate 4/26/16.
(12) WORLDCON NEWS. MidAmeriCon II has released several updates.
Fan Tables – deadline for reserving is July 15.
Worldcons traditionally offer complimentary Fan Tables to non-profit groups organized by members of a particular science fiction/fantasy fandom or convention. Fan Tables are an opportunity for attendees to get information about other fan groups and for fan groups to introduce themselves to fans from around the world. MidAmeriCon II has a limited number of tables available for fan groups to promote themselves and to sell memberships or club paraphernalia. (If you would like to sell more than memberships and T-shirts, please investigate the Creators Alley or Dealers Room).
The following conventions, convention bids, clubs, and societies have already reserved or are expected to reserve a Fan Table at MidAmeriCon II: …
Please remember that your $60 child membership comes with 5 FREE hours of childcare, the earlier you book those hours the better to ensure we still have enough space. At the door convention rates for children are: Wed $15, Thurs-Sat each day $25, and $15 for Sunday. Onsite childcare, if there is still room, will be $15 per hour (pre-reg is $10 online).
We are thrilled to be working with KiddieCorp as the professional childcare provider for MidAmeriCon II. KiddieCorp has worked regularly with Worldcon in recent years including in Spokane, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Denver, Montreal, Reno, and Chicago and have an excellent understanding of our needs and interests. Childcare will be held in the Kansas City Marriott which is close to the convention center and also connected to it via underground tunnel. More information about our hotels and room bookings can be found on our hotel information page.
Our children’s program is for children aged 6 to 12 and also their parents. Some items are suitable for older kids and teenagers who are also welcome. We plan to have a program for the full weekend involving crafts, games, toys, mini-projects, books, comics, and a bit of space for children to enjoy. We want to create a room where there is always something to do, where science and engineering meet fiction, film, books, comics, and the fantastic, and where kids will enjoy themselves and have fun!
MidAmeriCon II will also have some great YA programming including workshops, panels, and more for the young and young at heart. From steampunk to romance, action, and film, our YA programming explores the fun in fiction while also tackling some tough questions about ethics, love, and nontraditional families.
Panelists include Guest of Honor Tamora Pierce, Gail Carriger, Stina Leicht, Rebecca Moesta, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Greg van Eekhout, and other fabulous authors in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and more.
(13) ALWAYS. From The Guardian: “Tesla driver killed while using autopilot was watching Harry Potter, witness says”
The Tesla driver killed in the first known fatal crash involving a self-driving car may have been watching a Harry Potter movie at the time of the collision in Florida, according to a truck driver involved in the crash.
The truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, told the Associated Press that the Tesla driver Joshua Brown, 40, was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” during the collision and was driving so fast that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him”.
The disclosure raises further questions about the 7 May crash in Williston, Florida, which occurred after Brown put his Model S into Tesla’s autopilot mode, which is able to control a car while it’s driving on the highway.
The fatal crash, which federal highway safety regulators are now investigating, is a significant setback and a public relations disaster for the growing autonomous vehicle industry.
(14) FAILED PREDICTIONS ABOUT REAL TECHNOLOGIES. The BBC ginned up a five-things article about transportation technologies that never became centerpieces of a glorious future.
WITH EVERY JULES VERNE NOVEL, James Bond film or World’s Fair came new, fantastical ways of getting around. They packed our near-future with science-fiction promises: walkways that did the walking for us, pod cars built for one, jet-powered backpacks that let humans fly. Today, although these things exist, they’re hardly commonplace. Why did these transportation moonshots fall by the wayside, and short of their pledges to revolutionise the world? ….
Then: There is likely no discarded transportation relic that sums up the past’s vision of the future better than the monorail. Inventors had been toying with the idea of an elevated, single rail line since the 1800s, and by 1956, Houston, Texas saw the first trial run of a monorail in the US, in all its shiny, glass-fibre glory. The otherworldly, curvy carriages that zoomed high above the ground popped up piecemeal around the world in places like Japan, but the turn of the century’s rise of the automobile proved too much for the sky high train of tomorrow.
Now: Today, monorails are chiefly the chariots of airport terminals and amusement parks. Disney World in Florida has a monorail system that shuttles Mickey lovers from car park to theme park — including a line that runs directly through the soaring lobby of Disney’s Contemporary Resort hotel.
(15) AVOIDING THE OBVIOUS ANSWER. They’re pretty sure Tunguska was a meteorite, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying these other interesting theories.
Some suggested the Tunguska event could have been the result of matter and antimatter colliding. When this happens, the particles annihilate and emit intense bursts of energy.
Another proposal was that a nuclear explosion caused the blast. An even more outlandish suggestion was that an alien spaceship crashed at the site on its search for the fresh water of Lake Baikal.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, David K.M. Klaus, Spider Robinson, Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Lisa Goldstein, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]