(1) LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE AFFECTS A DRAGON CON HOTEL. CNN reports one person has died of Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. Further —
Eleven others who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, while another 61 probable cases have been identified, according to Nancy Nydam, director of communications at Georgia Department of Public Health.
“Probable cases” are people who have symptoms of the disease but have not yet had a laboratory test to confirm the disease — a serious form of noncontagious pneumonia.
“Based on epidemiological evidence we have an outbreak among people who stayed at the (Sheraton Atlanta) during the same time period,” said Nydam. Guests who complained of lung problems and were later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ had attended a convention at the Atlanta hotel in early July.
The Sheraton Atlanta Hotel has been closed since early July while it is being tested to determine whether it is the source of the outbreak. It is one of Dragon Con’s five main hotels, listed as sold out on the con website. Dragon Con begins August 29.
Though the bacterium causing Legionnaires’ has not yet been confirmed at the hotel, Sheraton Atlanta voluntarily shuttered its doors and hired outside experts to conduct testing, Nydam said.
“Sheraton Atlanta remains closed until at least August 11,” Ken Peduzzi, the hotel’s general manager, said in a statement Tuesday. Public health officials and environmental experts are working with the hotel to determine if it is the source of the outbreak, he said.
About one in 10 people who get sick from Legionnaires’ disease will die, a recent government report found.
(2) AURORA AWARDS VOTING BEGINS. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announces to members that voting for the Aurora Awards is now open, and will continue until September 14.
If you have not yet logged in, or you need to renew your membership, go to the member login page.
If you have not yet been a member of CSFFA, this year or in the past, you can go to the become a member page to join us. Membership costs $10 for the year and is renewed every year in January.
If you just want to see the public ballot, it is here.
The winners will be announced at Can-Con October 18 – 20, 2019 in Ottawa (http://can-con.org/).
(3) WHEATON SUES. The Hollywood Reporter tells why Wheaton filed: “Wil Wheaton Sues Geek & Sundry Over Web Series Profits”.
… Wheaton and his loan-out company Media Dynamics on Monday sued Legendary Geek & Sundry for breach of contract. The actor claims Legendary in 2015 hired him to create, write, executive produce and host a web series called Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana and he’d be paid $50,000 and 50 percent of the net profit from the series.
Legendary had the exclusive right to distribute and promote the web show, but it was supposed to “consult meaningfully” with Wheaton before doing so, according to the complaint. The actor says Legendary defied that provision and negotiated license agreements with Sinclair Broadcasting, Hulu and Pluto TV without informing him.
Wheaton expects Legendary has collected significant fees in connection with those deals, and therefore he’s due his share, but says the company won’t let him audit its books.
Wheaton is seeking at least $100,000 in damages and is asking the court to order that a full accounting be conducted.
(4) F&SF COVER. Publisher Gordon Van Gelder has unveiled The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Sep/Oct 2019 cover, with art by David A. Hardy.
(5) TO INFINITY AND PITTSBURGH. NBC Sports Craig Calcaterra is among the admirers: “Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove shows off his Infinity Gauntlet glove”.
Yesterday Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove showed off his new glove for Players’ Weekend. And while it was a big hit and made me laugh, in hindsight it seems, I dunno . . . inevitable that someone would go with this model.
(6) MORE ON MACMILLAN LIBRARY EBOOK POLICY. In a CNN opinion piece, Vermont librarian Jessamyn West comments on the ongoing controversy regarding Macmillan’s library ebook purchase policy (first tested by Tor Books): “Libraries are fighting to preserve your right to borrow e-books”.
…Public libraries in the United States purchase a lot of e-books, and circulate e-books a lot. According to the Public Library Association, electronic material circulation in libraries has been expanding at a rate of 30% per year; and public libraries offered over 391 million e-books to their patrons in 2017. Those library users also buy books; over 60% of frequent library users have also bought a book written by an author they first discovered in a library, according to Pew. Libraries offer free display space for books in over 16,000 locations nationwide. Even Macmillan admits that “Library reads are currently 45% of our total digital book reads.” But instead of finding a way to work with libraries on an equitable win-win solution, Macmillan implemented a new and confusing model and blamed libraries for being successful at encouraging people to read their books.
Libraries don’t just pay full price for e-books — we pay more than full price. We don’t just buy one book — in most cases, we buy a lot of books, trying to keep hold lists down to reasonable numbers. We accept renewable purchasing agreements and limits on e-book lending, specifically because we understand that publishing is a business, and that there is value in authors and publishers getting paid for their work. At the same time, most of us are constrained by budgeting rules and high levels of reporting transparency about where your money goes. So, we want the terms to be fair, and we’d prefer a system that wasn’t convoluted….
(7) POST-CONZEALAND NZ TOUR OFFERED. Val and Ron Ontell bid fans “Welcome to our 2020 tour of the North and South islands of New Zealand”:
Back-to-back non-US Worldcons has presented some unique challenges. One has been to arrange two tours back-to-back, but we have done it. With our Ireland tour about to begin, we are pleased to announce that we will be running a tour of both islands of New Zealand in connection with CoNZealand in 2020.
The proposed itinerary is here [PDF file]
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 6, 1874 — Charles Fort. Writer and researcher who specialized in anomalous phenomena. The term fortean is sometimes used to characterize such phenomena. No, not genre as such, but certainly an influence on many a writer. The Dover publication, The Complete Books of Charles Fort, that collects together The Book of The Damned Lo!, Wild Talents and New Lands has a foreword by Damon Knight. L. Sprague de Camp reviewed it in Astounding Science-Fiction in the August 1941 issue when it was originally published as The Books of Charles Fort. (Died 1932.)
- Born August 6, 1877 — John Ulrich Giesy. He was one of the early writers in the Sword and Planet genre, with his Jason Croft series He collaborated with Junius B. Smith on many of his stories though not these which others would call them scientific romances. He wrote a large number of stories featuring the occult detective Abdul Omar aka Semi-Dual and those were written with Smith. I see iBooks has at least all of the former and one of the latter available. Kindle just the latter. (Died 1947.)
- Born August 6, 1926 — Janet Asimov. Author of some half dozen novels and a fair amount of short fiction on her own, mostly as J.O. Jeppson; co-author with Isaac of the Norby Chronicles. Her Notes for a Memoir: On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing, came out thirteen years ago. (Died 2019.)
- Born August 6, 1934 — Piers Anthony, 85. Ok I’ll admit that I’m not at all familiar with him as comic fantasy isn’t my usual go-to reading. I know he’s popular so I’m going to ask y’all which of his novels would be a great introduction to him. Go ahead and tell which novels I should read.
- Born August 6, 1956 — Ian R. MacLeod, 63. Another author I need to read more of. I’ve read the first two in what’s called the Aether Universe series, The Light Ages and The House of Storms, but there’s a number of novels I’m intrigued by including Song of Time and The Great Wheel. Anything else y’all would recommend I read?
- Born August 6, 1962 — Michelle Yeoh, 57. Ok, I have to give her full name of Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng. Wow. Her first meaningful genre roles was as Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies and Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I actually remember her as Zi Yuan in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the first film of a since-cancelled franchise. And then there’s her dual roles in the the Trek universe where she’s Captain Philippa Georgiou and Emperor Philippa Georgiou. The forthcoming Section 31 series will involve one of them but I’m not sure which one…
- Born August 6, 1972 — Paolo Bacigalupi, 47. I remember the book group I was part of having a spirited debate over The Windup Girl over the believability of the central character. I think he did a better job with characters in his next novels, Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, but he’s really not about characters anyways.
(9) DISNEY V. BULLETPROOF BACKPACKS. “Disney Seeks to Shut Down Avenger and Princess-Themed Bulletproof Backpacks “ says The Hollywood Reporter.
…The “Ballistic Shield” recently unveiled by TuffyPacks, a Houston-based manufacturer of bulletproof backpacks, has a brightly colored picture of the Avengers charging headlong into view, with Captain America and his famous shield front and center.
Amid an epidemic of gun violence in America highlighted by recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, Calif., the TuffyPacks shield is designed to keep children safe from handgun bullets.
TuffyPacks rolled out its latest models, which include a “Disney princess” theme featuring Jasmine from Aladdin, Cinderella, Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel from Tangled, less than a month ago. In addition to Disney’s Avengers and Princesses, other themes include “Harry Potter,” “Major League Baseball” and “Camo.” They all retail for $129.
But the new bulletproof backpacks aren’t exactly endorsed by the Walt Disney Co. or Warner Bros.
“None of these products were authorized by Disney, and we are demanding that those behind this stop using our characters or our other intellectual property to promote sales of their merchandise,” a spokesperson for Disney says in a statement
(10) PLAN B. In a follow-up to a recent Pixel, NPR reports “Amid Protests In Hawaii Against Giant Telescope, Astronomers Look To ‘Plan B'”.
A consortium of scientists hoping to build the world’s largest optical telescope on Hawaii’s tallest peak has applied to site it instead in the Canary Islands amid ongoing protests by native Hawaiians who oppose construction of the instrument on what they consider a sacred volcano.
For weeks, protesters have delayed the start of construction on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea volcano of the Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT, which astronomers say will have a dozen times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.
In a written statement on Monday, TMT Executive Director Ed Stone said that obtaining a permit to build in Spain’s Canary Islands, off West Africa, was meant as a “‘Plan B’ site … should it not be possible to build in Hawaii.” However, he emphasized that Mauna Kea “remains the preferred site.”
(11) SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS. David Wellington shares “Five Things I Learned Writing The Last Astronaut” at Terrible Minds.
Everyone in space is ugly and ready for a fight.
Human bodies were never meant to exist in weightless conditions. All the fluid being pumped around your body right now needs gravity to get it to the right place. Think about hanging upside down from a jungle gym, the blood rushing to your head. How long do you think you could handle living like that? How many days in a row?
In microgravity, all of your internal organs climb up into your chest cavity, because the mass of the Earth isn’t holding them down anymore. This makes it a little hard to breathe. Farts collect inside your intestine until the pressure suddenly forces them out when you least want them to. Fluid builds up in places it shouldn’t, and there’s no good way to pump it back out of your tissues. The most dramatic—and obvious—way this effects you is that your face gets super puffy, distorting your features. And that’s when you learn just how much of living with other people is processing their facial expressions. Since everyone in space looks like they have the mumps, people start to get irritable. Innocent comments get misconstrued, and tempers flare. I spoke with one astronaut who joked that in the future one big career option is going to be “space lawyer”. Because of all the fistfights that are sure to break out during long missions to Mars. Of course, bouncing off other people all the time and getting in their way is inevitable given the close quarters. It might be better than the alternative, though…
(12) NOT WITH A BORROWED TONGUE. But maybe with this one: “Glasgow scientists develop artificial tongue to tackle fake whisky”.
An artificial “tongue” which can taste subtle differences between whiskies could help tackle the counterfeit alcohol trade, according to engineers.
They have built a tiny taster which exploits the properties of gold and aluminium to test differences between the spirits.
The technology can pick up on the subtler distinctions between the same whisky aged in different barrels.
It can tell the the difference between whiskies aged for 12, 15 and 18 years.
Engineers say the tongue “tasted” the differences with greater than 99% accuracy.
Alasdair Clark, of the University of Glasgow’s school of engineering, said: “We call this an artificial tongue because it acts similarly to a human tongue – like us, it can’t identify the individual chemicals which make coffee taste different to apple juice but it can easily tell the difference between these complex chemical mixtures.
(13) SKOAL! “Archaeologists find ‘Viking drinking hall’ during Orkney dig”reports the BBC. Chip Hitchcock sends the link with a note – “The Orkneys appear to have had many Earl/Jarl Sigurds; AFAICT, the one mentioned here is not the one who died in 1014 fighting for an Irish crown, as Debra Doyle filked in ‘Raven Banner’ back before she became known as a fiction writer.”
Archaeologists have found what could be a Viking drinking hall during a dig in Orkney.
The site, at Skaill Farmstead in Westness, Rousay, is believed to date back to the 10th Century and may have been used by the chieftain Sigurd.
…Westness is mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga – a historical narrative of the archipelago – as the home of Earl Sigurd, a powerful 12th Century chieftain.
The name Skaill, which is a Norse word for “hall”, suggests the site could have been used for drinking and was high-status.
(14) PLAYING CATCH-UP. The Goodreads Blog does a rundown of “The 24 Most Popular Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels of 2019 (So Far)”. Some were published last year, but other items are things you missed while doing your Hugo reading.
A mercenary seeks a missing child, a dead man’s brain is reactivated, a woman travels to the Mayan underworld, a disease drives its victims mad with false memories. These are just a few of the plots that have captured readers’ attention in this year’s batch of science fiction and fantasy novels.
To identify the books resonating with readers, we looked at sci-fi and fantasy novels published so far this year in the U.S. Then we filtered that list by average rating (everything on this list has at least a 3.5-star rating), number of reader reviews, and additions to readers’ Want to Read shelves (which is how we measure buzz and anticipation).
(15) HABEAS CORPUS. BBC finds out “What happens to a body donated to science?”
A man who donated his mother’s body to what he thought was Alzheimer’s research learned later it was used to test explosives. So what does happen when your body is donated to medical science?
Last week new details of a lawsuit emerged against The Biological Resource Centre in Arizona following an FBI raid in 2014 in which gruesome remains of hundreds of discarded body parts were discovered.
The now closed centre is accused of illegally selling body parts against the donors wishes.
Newly unreleased court documents revealed that families of those whose bodies had been donated to the centre said they believed their relatives remains would be used for medical and scientific research.
Jim Stauffer is one of the multiple plaintiffs suing the centre. He told Phoenix station ABC 15 he believed his mother’s donated body would be used to study Alzheimer’s, a disease she had, but he later found out it was used by the military to examine the effects of explosives.
He says on the paperwork he was given by the centre he specifically ticked ‘no’ when asked if he consented to the body being used to test explosives.
So how does the body donation business operate in the US and what expectations do people have about these facilities?
(16) COURT MUSICIAN. “Simpsons composer Alf Clausen sues Fox following ‘firing'” – BBC has the story.
A man who wrote music for The Simpsons for 27 years is suing its makers for allegedly firing him due to his age.
Composer Alf Clausen, 78, said he was sacked from the show in 2017.
In his claim, Clausen states he was informed that the show was “taking the music in a different direction”.
“This reason was pretextual and false,” the claim reads. “Instead, plaintiff’s unlawful termination was due to perceived disability and age.” The BBC has approached Fox for a comment.
At the time of Clausen’s departure, the show’s bosses stated they “tremendously value[d] Alf Clausen’s contributions” to the show.
According to trade paper Variety, Clausen was replaced by Bleeding Fingers Music, a music production company co-founded by Russell Emanuel, Hans Zimmer and Steve Kofsky.
Clausen’s suit says his replacement “was substantially younger in age, who was not only paid less, but was not disabled”.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Destination Moon 1950–On The Set With George Pal 1949” on YouTube is an hour-long show, first broadcast as an episode of City at Night on Los Angeles station KTLA in 1949, from the set of Destination Moon that includes rare interviews with Robert A. Heinlein and Chesley Bonestell.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Eric Franklin, Rich Lynch, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Nina Shepardson, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributor of the day Acoustic Rob.]