(1) IT’S ALWAYS NEWS TO SOMEONE. Some Filers have already traveled hundreds of miles to get in position to see the eclipse tomorrow, however, there might be somebody who’s just heard it’s about to happen. These NASA resources will help the latecomers prepare:
- NASA Eclipse Facts
- NASA Eclipse Path (this is an interactive national map showing eclipse times at each location)
- NASA Eclipse State Maps: Eclipse State Maps (includes viewable and printable maps showing the eclipse pathway and times)
(2) ART OF DARKNESS. In advance of the eclipse, Steve Duin of The Oregonian finds a thematically appropriate piece of unpublished sf art — “Alex Schomburg and ‘The Day the Sun Died'”.
The family discovered “The Day the Sun Died” several years ago, matted and tucked inside a 9×11 manila envelope. The artwork, in gouache, was apparently meant to illustrate a novel by Daniel F. Galouye, but the editors of Imagination Science Fiction selected a different cover.
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) August 20, 2017
(3) HAMIT WINS. Francis Hamit’s screenplay for Christopher Marlowe won the award for Best Screenplay at the New Renaissance Film Festival in London today. Shown here is one of the film’s Executive Producers, Stuart Malcolm Honey, who accepted the award on Hamit’s behalf.
(4) THIRD ROCK. At NPR, Amal El-Mohtar reviews N.K. Jemisin: “In ‘The Stone Sky,’ Some Worlds Need To Burn”.
But the fact that The Stone Sky sticks the landing of this astonishing trilogy with timeliness and rigor is the smallest, simplest thing I have to say about it. The gratitude and love I feel for these books, and for what The Stone Sky adds to the triptych, is staggering….
(5) MEMORY. Decades-old memories can be a hazard. In 2015 Douglas Knipe posted a great gallery of photos from Noreascon 2 (1980) with almost 50 authors, plus shots of the Hugo ceremony. But not unlike this week’s unveiling of the digital photos from the Jay Kay Klein collection, it has a tremendous number of mistaken identifications, leading to a considerable amount of unintentional humor. For example, a photo of Craig Miller accepting the Hugo for Alien is misidentified as George R.R. Martin with his novelette Hugo, while a few pictures later the unrecognized (“?”) person receiving a Hugo from Harlan Ellison is the real George R.R. Martin.
(6) HEAD OF THE GLASS. At Nerds of a Feather, Charles Payseur has come up with an entertaining motif for their short fiction reviews: “The Monthly Round – A Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction, 07/2017”. The reviews include the kind of remarks a connoisseur would make about a “tasting flight” of assorted beers.
“Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang (Tor dot com)
Notes: Conflict mingles in the form of a carbonated fizz, giving this drink a shine that cannot hide a complex and mature flavor, and packs a surprising punch.
Pairs with: Belgian Ale
Review: Tian’s life is defined by duty and distance, and as an ansible singer she is part of a power that allows her empire access to the far reaches of the galaxy. As the story opens, though, bubbling tensions are beginning to boil and the relative safety of being an ansible is shattered as corruption, magic, and murder all meet to devastating effect. The story looks very closely at the ways that Tian has been pushed into living as a literal resource for the Empire, used for her talent but denied the open expression of her identity, stripped of her chance to be someone important because of who she loves. And even then, the story shows that as the Empire allows her a sort of space to be herself, it’s defined by distance, by denial. She isn’t allowed to be with the person she loves, isn’t allowed a physical expression of her desire, is instead pushed into being ignorant and, save for the beauty of the song she shares over lightyears, alone. Until a different woman enters her life with magic of her own and the power to break through the walls keeping Tian isolated and repressed. It’s an opening up even as it comes at a time of growing fear, uncertainty, and danger. They both end up becoming a part of a resistance that pushes them to the breaking point and maybe beyond, each of them willing to risk everything once they realize that they never really had anything, just the lies and illusions of securing and contentment they were fed by the powers that be. The story is violent and fast while still maintaining a definite weight around the very small and intimate actions Tian makes. And even amid the galaxy-altering conflict the story doesn’t lose sight of Tian and her desires, holding to the hope that they won’t be consumed by the ravenous jaws of war.
(7) SPINNING. Bleeding Cool succeeded in getting an interview with Alisa Norris: “We Talk To The Supergirl Cosplayer ‘Along For The Ride’ At The White Nationalist Rally In Charlottesville”. It’s not a very sophisticated exchange:
…Alisa was clearly getting more annoyed and certain tropes seemed to start emerging. She told me:
“There were a couple of KKK members out of thousands. The lying press is labeling every person there a ‘Nazi’.”
I stated that the swastika flags didn’t help. She told me:
“Most flags were American or confederate or white nationalist flags… Of course they only show the swastika… Nazi Germany is dead and doesn’t even have anything to do with what happening today. It was stupid of those protestors to fly swastikas.”
(8) ROCKET MAN. Aaron Pound gives his thoughts about the effectiveness of the rules changes in “2017 Hugo Award Longlist” at Dreaming About Other Worlds.
This was the first year in which the E Pluribus Hugo voting system for nominations was implemented, and it seems to have worked as well as one could possibly hope to expect. The change in the voting rules, coupled with their waning ability to whip their adherents into a frenzy after being shellacked in the voting in 2015 and 2016, resulted in the Sad Puppies kind of slinking away after not even putting a token effort into putting together a voting slate. The Rabid Puppies continued their Quixotic quest, but changed tactics, putting forward only one or two candidates in each category in order to try to get someone on the ballot via “bullet voting”, and that seems to have had mixed results. They managed to get eleven finalists on the ballot, while five more appear on the longlist. They could have had five more finalists, but Rabid Puppy leader Theodore Beale is apparently really terrible at understanding the eligibility rules, so those five potential finalists were all disqualified as ineligible. The Rabid Puppies were able to get no more than one finalist per category.
(9) LEWIS OBIT. Comedian Jerry Lewis died today; the Daily Mail collected the celebrity tributes from Twitter: “‘The world is a lot less funnier today’: Jim Carrey, William Shatner and George Takei lead stars in paying tribute to comedy icon Jerry Lewis after his passing at age 91”.
William Shatner and George Takei were among the numerous celebrities to pay tribute to comedy legend Jerry Lewis, who died Sunday at the age of 91.
‘Condolences to the family of Jerry Lewis. The world is a lot less funnier today,’ Shatner, 86, tweeted on Sunday morning.
‘We have lost a great comedian and even greater heart,’ Takei, 80, tweeted. ‘Thank you for the laughs and the feels, Jerry Lewis.’
Lewis even did a genre movie – Visit To A Small Planet (1960). His legacy also includes more than $2.5 billion raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through the annual Labor Day telethon. I remember being at a Worldcon (Chicon 2000?) where, in one of the rooms not taken by the con, MDA was hosting a viewing and fundraiser.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- August 20, 1973 — Twentieth Century Fox Studio executive Alan Ladd Jr. blessed George Lucas with a small contract to first develop a shooting script and then direct Star Wars for the silver screen.
- August 20, 1995 — Amanda & The Alien, based on a story by Robert Silverberg, aired on TV.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born August 20, 1890 – H. P. Lovecraft
- Born August 20, 1943 — Sylvester McCoy, the 7th Doctor. (He also played the wizard Radagast the Brown in Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Hobbit.
(12) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian got a laugh from Off the Mark.
(13) SJW CREDENTIAL DOMINO EFFECT.
We have had cat sitters but I have never done cat sitting. Our Worldcon cat sitter had to get a cat sitter for his cat. Cat pyramid scheme.
— Ian Moore (@IanMoore3000) August 20, 2017
(14) CHANGE IN RANKING FOR BEST NOVEL. The Best Novel Hugo voting stats have been updated to reflect the change in fifth and sixth places.
(15) SWEEP. Mimi Mondal’s article in Scroll.in, “Women science fiction writers won big at the Hugo awards this year. Here are five you should read”, is illustrated with great photos by K. Tempest Bradford.
The 2017 Hugo Awards were announced on August 11 at the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in Helsinki. It has already made headlines for women writers and editors winning all twelve of the individual Hugos, as well as the John W Campbell award. The women writers are a significant part of the team awards as well.
This clean sweep is a first, although women have been dominating the international science fiction and fantasy awards for years now. It is also a triumph, especially for the Hugos, which have been plagued since 2015 by a malicious right-wing voting bloc called the Sad Puppies, who sabotage the nominations every year and oppose any kind of “diversity” in the genre.
(16) TURN DOWN THE LIGHTS, THE PARTY’S OVER. The Worldcon 75 social media crew takes a victory lap: “The Road to Worldcon 75”.
To my own astonishment, this tweet gained a lot of traction, being retweeted by over 100 people during the course of a few days. It was my first taste of Worldcon 75 Social Media awesomeness and resulted in me being assigned to work as a Social Media (SoMe) staffer.
I’ve since then been working Worldcon 75-Social Media almost all of my waking hours for 2 years, save for a few breaks, work, and other cons. I did expect to work a lot, but in the end I worked a lot more than initially expected, just because it was such a wonderful experience, and unexpectedly rewarding. I love interacting with people online, and working customer service. Another benefit of working Social Media is that it gave me an overview of the all the different corners of the convention and included working closely with all the other divisions, meeting with and chatting with lovely staffers from all over the world. It’s the best position I could ever have hoped for.
(17) WSFS ROUNDUP. Michael Lee also chimed in with a “Worldcon 75 WSFS Division Post-Con Report”. Here’s a chance to read about something besides the Hugos —
We had done Site Selection for the Kansas City Worldcon, and we new Dublin was unopposed, so much was easier there. I was happy that Johan Anglemark signed on as a Site Selection admin as I wanted to see someone Nordic in the division, and he did an outstanding job.
Despite some mild trolling I participated in of some people opposed to electronic site selection, we never seriously considered it. I’m convinced that generally the current method works for now, and given the political opposition I think there are other ways to improve the process. Note that emailing signed scanned ballots to someone else to print out and hand carry is allowed.
Electronic validation of voters against the registration database is something that worked and can be improved for future Worldcon site selection. Carrying around all of that Personally Identifiable Information on paper at Kansas City was nerve wracking, and something that could be improved without changing the overall traditions of a paper based site selection. I gather we didn’t save Dublin as much time after receiving the data as we hoped, but that may be something that future Worldcons could improve.
We accepted Dublin’s Advance Supporting Membership rate without sufficient consideration; which had differing amounts in Euro and USD. This was an error, as people would want to shop for the rate that was cheaper when they mailed items in, and our credit card banking was in Euro. Currency rates are complicated, especially for mail in ballots.
(18) VIRTUAL REALITY THEME PARK. The latest progress report on Utah’s Evermore Park, now under construction.
In VR we have been able to virtually walk around our park and understand many of the intricate details that frankly just a few years ago was not possible. 3D renderings on a 2D screen is not the same as walking around in what looks and feels like real space. We were able to fix many aspects of the park prior to the expense of physical construction. For example, one of our buildings was much to small, yet in 2D there was no way assess scale, but standing in front of the building (just like you would in the real world) showed us that it had scale issue and we were able to make adjustments with our architects prior to breaking ground. We were also able to use VR to understand and refine our garden/landscape design and sightlines, etc., making many adjustments. In the next week we will be launching our new website that will provide many new and exciting details about Evermore, including a closer look at the park and our Festival/Shows, Themed Parties and Garden Adventures.
(19) CHANNEL SURFING. British TV science fiction is quite the thing in 1962. Galactic Journey has the story — “[August 20, 1962] A Galaxy of Choices (British TV: The Andromeda Breakthrough)”.
Science fiction on British television used to be one of those once-in-a-blue-moon events. When it happened, what we got could often be very good. Certainly Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass series was compelling viewing, which drew in a large audience from the general population with millions tuning in each week to find out the fate of the infected astronauts.
The impact of Quatermass cannot be over stated, the name having taken root in the British public’s imagination. And, now we have a sequel to A for Andromeda, which I reported on last year, to carry the torch for science fiction on British TV, which also looks like it will enter public’s lexicon. With the additional transmission of the anthology show, Out of this World, we seem to be entering a golden age of science fiction on television.
(20) DEFENDERS. Today, TV shows air in beautiful living color. Camestros Felapton gives his opinion about one of the newest: “Review: The Defenders (Netflix) – minimal spoilers”.
Imagine Pixar’s Inside Out but for grown-ups – each character represents one of the four key emotions: Guilt, Petulance, Sarcasm and Luke Cage. Luke Cage is an emotion now or at least he should be – some sort of combination of every positive association with masculinity you might want, with a deeply smooth voice and an excellent soundtrack.
(21) A VAGRANT THOUGHT. I gather The Philadelphia Story was on TCM today….
— TCM with a Twist (@TCMwithaTwist) August 20, 2017
(22) NOW, VOYAGER. An overview of our furthest spacecraft on their 40th anniversary: “Voyagers: Inside the world’s greatest space mission”.
Remarkably, both Voyager spacecraft are still working. Whenever Voyager 1 sends back a signal, it is from the furthest distance any human-made object has travelled from Earth.
Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2013 and is (at the time of writing) 20 billion kilometres (12 billion miles) away. Voyager 2, on a different trajectory, is 17 billion kilometres (10.5 billion miles) away. Maybe it’s easier to imagine it like this: it takes a radio signal, travelling at the speed of light, 38 hours to travel from the Earth to Voyager 1 and back. And it’s some 30 hours for Voyager 2. (For their latest position, visit the Voyager home page.)
Chip Hitchcock adds, “Amusing note: the receiver station they mention using is the direct successor to the one that picked up the pictures of Armstrong setting foot on the moon, as vaguely remembered in The Dish.”
(23) IMAGINE THAT. Another sci-fi trope bites the dust – the BBC says most hackers aren’t sophisticated.
The ways in which young people become involved in this sort of activity were recently detailed in a report by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA). The average age of those arrested for malicious hacking activities was just 17 – the offences included vandalising websites, stealing data and breaking in to private computers.
Because our world is so much more connected than ever before, and those connections are often woefully insecure, it’s relatively easy to find ways of exploiting computer systems illegally. And ransomware in general is increasingly successful. In 2016, criminals made an average of $1,077 with every attack. For the BBC’s Cyber-hacks series, Click’s Spencer Kelly discovered how cyber-criminals can acquire off-the-shelf ransomware using only a search engine.
As Woodward points out, the easiest thing to do is “just cast it out there” – whether it’s ransomware, spyware or spam – and see what comes back. Many people are often surprised by the amount of spam they receive, especially because so many of the scams are so obviously illegitimate. But the reason you still get emails from a Nigerian prince offering cash out of the blue is because people continue to fall for such stories. Not huge numbers, but a few. And that’s all it takes to make a profit.
(24) BOARD OUT OF THEIR MINDS. Metro.uk has obviously played these: “Your favourite retro games renamed with the titles they really deserve”. Like the famous game of insincere apologies —
[Thanks to JJ, David Doering, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Doering.]