(1) SPIDER STORY. Worldcon 76 GoH Spider Robinson’s hometown paper profiled him before the convention: see “Spider Robinson’s star shines in Worldcon’s sci-fi universe” in the Bowne Island Undercurrent.
In the waning charge cycles of a 12-year-old MacBook Pro, Spider Robinson is typing out his autobiography.
“I’m writing the serious, logical case that I’m the luckiest [person] who’s ever lived,” he said.
“My luck ran out, but all luck does.”
It’s extraordinary that a man who lost both his wife and daughter prematurely can still count himself as lucky.
But Robinson concentrates on the joy that his family and career brought to his life.
The well-known science fiction writer, winner of three Hugo awards and a Nebula award, has lived on Bowen Island since 2001.
This week, Robinson is one of the guests of honour at Worldcon, the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, this year held in San Jose.
(2) CANON FIRE. Foz Meadows’ “Trash and Treasure” column for The Book Smugglers does a recap on Worldcon 76, including thoughts inspired by the Author vs Fan Ownership panel there wasn’t enough time to unpack:
…Afterwards, multiple audience members asked for my thoughts about the recent trend in claims by some fandom extremists that fans literally own the stories they love, whatever those stories might be, just by straight-up virtue of passion.
To give an example of two of the more toxic examples of this sense of fannish entitlement, taken from both ends of the fan-political spectrum, consider both the MRA Star Wars fans who tried to crowdsource funding for a new, lady-free version of The Last Jedi, and the lone Voltron: Legendary Defender fan who tried to blackmail Studio Mir into making their gay ship canon. In both cases, there’s a belief that wanting a personal, idealised, specific version of the narrative to exist in canon should not only trump the plans of the creators, but effectively constitute a shouted BECAUSE REASONS! override of their actual, legal ownership….
(3) MAINTAINING TWEET SILENCE. Is Wil Wheaton coming back to Twitter? Eh, no. He turned it off one day in August, for reasons he explains in “The world is a terrible place right now, and that’s largely because it is what we make it.” Then he thought he found another social media home, but the administrators wearied of the flood of complaints (see post for explanation) and he left there too.
As most of you know, I deactivated my Twitter account earlier this month. It had been a long time coming, for a whole host of reasons, but Twitter’s decision to be the only social network that gives Alex Jones a platform to spew hate, hurt innocent people, and incite violence was the final straw for me. But I haven’t regretted leaving for even one second. Having that endless stream of hate and anger and negativity in my pocket wasn’t good for me (and I don’t think it’s good for anyone, to be honest).
I was on Twitter from just about the very beginning. I think I’m in the first couple thousand accounts. I remember when it was a smallish group of people who wanted to have fun, make jokes, share information and tips on stuff that was interesting, and oh so many pictures of our pets. It was awesome.
It started to get toxic slowly at first, then all at once, starting with the misogynist dipshits who were behing the gate-which-shall-not-be-named. That was clearly a turning point for Twitter, and it never really recovered from it. I watched, in real time, as the site I loved turned into a right wing talk radio shouting match that made YouTube comments and CSPAN call-ins seem scholarly. We tried for a couple of years to fight back, to encourage Twitter to take a stand against bad actors (HA HA LIKE ME BECAUSE I AM A BAD ACTOR RIGHT YOU GOT ME HA HA HA). Twitter doesn’t care about how its users are affected by themselves, though. Twitter cares about growth and staying on the good side of President Shitler’s tantrums….
(4) LIGHT IS THE BEST DISINFECTANT. An event called KekCon set out to publicize itself at Dragon Con and drew criticism on social media. Lura Groen’s thread starts here.
Groen, who received at least one threat after tweeting her thread, reports the KekCon reps left Dragon Con.
(5) PRESCRIPTION FOR ENTERTAINMENT. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie thinks Filers may enjoy The Third Pill, which BBC Radio 4 has just put on iPlayer.
The Third Pill by James O’Neill
Greg works in children’s publishing but feels middle aged and out of touch. Then something pops up on his computer that will transform his life. A comedy about finding that elusive elixir of youth.
Surely it is a scam, or is it? And if it works, what are the consequences….
(6) A STROLL DOWN MEMORY ROAD. “A graphic tale: the visual effects of Mad Max: Fury Road” is a nuts-and-bolts of how many of the shots were built over bits of reality. From 2015 – but may be news to you!
But the intense Namibian shoot, and further filming in Sydney, was only half the story in the creation of Fury Road’s insane stunt action and post-apocalyptic landscapes. Hundreds of visual effects artists, led by overall visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson, would spend considerable time crafting more than 2000 visual effects shots and helping to transform the exquisite photography into the final film that at times feels almost like a single car chase. Even more plate manipulation would also be carried out by colorist Eric Whipp, weaving in a distinctive graphic style for the film with detailed sky replacements and unique day for nights.
(7) A STACK OF REVIEWS, AND A STACK OF WAX. Links to the reviews below at Patti Abbott’s blog: “Friday’s Forgotten Books, August 31, 2018”.
- Mark Baker. LOST LEGACY, Annette Dashofy
- Yvette Banek, MURDER MAKES MISTAKES, George Bellairs
- Les Blatt, AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW, Elizabeth Daily
- Bill Crider, EPITAPH FOR A TRAMP, David Markson
- Kate Jackson at CrossExaminingCrime, TILL DEATH DO US PART, John Dickson Carr
- Martin Edwards, THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, Minette Marrin
- Curtis Evans, THE MAN WITH TWO WIVES, “Patrick Quentin”
- Rich Horton, THE FOUR FEATHERS, A. E. W. Mason
- Jerry House, ELECTION DAY 2084, ed. Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
- George Kelley, THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES AND NOVELS, 9th SERIES, T.E. Dikty and Earl Kemp
- Margot Kinberg, FACES OF THE GONE, Brad Parks
- Rob Kitchin, THE SHINING GIRLS, Lauren Beukes
- Kate Laity, SWITZERLAND, Joanna Murray-Smith
- Evan Lewis, WATERFRONT FISTS, Robert E. Howard
- Steve Lewis, SEEING IS BELIEVING, Carter Dickson
- Todd Mason, 1960s audio recordings: THE ZOO STORY, Edward Albee; NO EXIT, Jean-Paul Sartre (translated by Paul Bowles); LUV, Murray Schisgal; JUST SO STORIES, Rudyard Kipling
- Matt Paust, LAST BUS TO WOODSTOCK, Colin Dexter
- James Reasoner, THE WATER BEND FEUD, William MacLeod Raine
- Richard Robinson, A FALL OF MOONDUST, Arthur C. Clarke
- Kevin Tipple, BAD LITTLE FALLS, Paul Doiron
- Tomcat, FLASHPOINT, John Russell Fearn
- TracyK, DARK PASSAGE, David Goodis
Links to online archives of some of the recordings under discussion at Todd Mason’s post: “THE ZOO STORY, Edward Albee; NO EXIT, Jean-Paul Sartre (translated by Paul Bowles); LUV, Murray Schisgal; JUST SO STORIES, Rudyard Kipling”
(8) EC COMICS REMEMBERED. The Society of Illustrators in New York City will exhibit “Tales from the Crypt: The Revolutionary Art of MAD and EC Comics” from September 5 to October 27, 2018.
For the first time in NYC, an exhibition of the EC comic book art that struck fear in the hearts of arbiters of good taste will see the light of day. Featured are more than 70 large original comic book art pages by comic art masters. On display September 5 through October 27 in the Hall of Fame Gallery….
A big business in the fifties, as many as 100 million comic books were sold monthly. Although the superhero and funny animal titles were popular in the forties the appetite had turned to subjects that reflected current trends and interests.
Perhaps the most prominent comic book publisher at the time was Entertaining Comics (EC), led by William M. Gaines. An aspiring high school teacher, Gaines found himself the 25 year old head of a struggling publishing company when his father died in a boating accident. Gaines knew little about the industry but hired young, creative editor/artists Al Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman to test new formats and launched a broad slate of revolutionary titles covering science fiction, horror, crime, war, suspense and humor.
The EC team would later be called among the most talented assembly of comic book artists and writers the industry had ever seen. While quickly copied because of their unprecedented success, EC stories were markedly different from the competition. They were expertly illustrated, written for an intelligent audience and offered an unexpected twist ending. Critics would point to the violence depicted in the crime and horror titles or the mature nature of the story subjects. Gaines had assumed an intelligent audience comprised of young adults and older readers and not children who would otherwise find little meaning in the work.
Titles presented in the exhibit include Aces High, Crime Suspenstories, Crypt of Terror, Extra!, Haunt of Fear, Frontline Combat, Impact, Piracy, MAD, Two-Fisted Tales, Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Fantasy, Weird Science, Weird Science Fantasy, MAD 3-D art and more. Artists featured include Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Al Feldstein, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, B. Krigstein, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Marie Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson and Wally Wood.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
- September 1, 1902 – A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) is directed by Georges Méliès is released.
- September 1, 1954 — Tobor the Great premiered.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 1, 1885 – Edgar Rice Burroughs. Pulp writer (and no I’m not being disparaging with my use of that term) of many series of which I’ll single out the Barsoom, Pellucidar, Tarzan and Venus series. Both Rudyard Kipling and Ray Bradbury considered him to be an influential and entertaining writer. Edgar Hamilton in an interview said once that “We sort of grew up on Edgar Rice Burroughs.”
- Born September 1 — Diana Pleasance Case Gillon, 103. Only one novel, The Unsleep, but noted here for one hundred and three years old! Or at least that’s what three sources think.
- Born September 1 – C.J. Cherryh, 76. Author of several major series set in different settings including the Alliance-Union universe, the Foreigner universe, the Russian stories, Heroes in Hell, the Fortress universe and Ealdwood. I think my favorites are the Russian stories, particularly Rusalka which was a Locus Fantasy Award nominee. Downbelow Station and Cyteen both won Hugo Awards as did her short story titled “Cassandra.”
- Born September 1 – Timothy Zahn, 66. I’ll admit that I’ve not read anything by him on and only know of him by his work in the Star Wars Universe. His other work appears largely to be milsf and largely on Baen Books.
- Born September 1 – Brad Linaweaver. His Moon of Ice novella was a Nebula Award finalist and the novel length version won a Prometheus Award
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Frank and Ernest decide it’s better to go with their second favorite name for a new invention.
(12) A COOKIE WITH MORE BITE TO IT. Oreo has introduced two new cookie flavors — wasabi and hot chicken wing. For now, they are only available in China.
(13) A LITTLE LIST. Kendall has read the comments here before and introduced this as “Another list for people to slam!”
Unbound Worlds, who posted a ‘100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time’ list a while back, now has a 100 Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time list. As before, they’re clear they just asked staffers for top sci-fi recs…
Hey, there are a bunch of books on this list I like, and if I’ve read 41 of them, your count probably will be even higher.
(14) IT’S NOT EPIC BUT IT IS FANTASY. Camestros Felapton reviews Matt Groening’s new series for Netflix, Disenchantment.
A new series from Matt Groening of Simpsons and Futurama fame was bound to generate some excitement. Using an epic fantasy/fairytale faux-medieval setting sounds like a fun premise for the kind of genre subverting humour that worked for Futurama. I’m up to the last two episodes and well, it isn’t great. It isn’t terrible but it isn’t great.
There are two issues:
- Quite a lot of Futurama wasn’t that great either but your brain edits in the best bits.
- Disenchantment leans too much on standard jokes and tropes used in its predecessors, making the show feel less fresh and novel.
It gets better, mainly because the characters start working on you and sometimes because of basic plot development.
(15) DOCTORDONNA IS IN. Sometimes the unexpected happens at Dragon Con. Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia Stacey Abrams encountered actress Catherine Tate.
(16) SIDEBAR. Cat Rambo found comic relief at the SFWA business meeting during Dragon Con.
(17) RUGRATS. Airboy notes, “There was a ‘weird news’ story on the front page of August 31’s Wall Street Journal on the odd carpet design of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Atlanta that is one of the DragonCon Hotels. It had an odd carpet that was eventually removed due to age. Some fans obsessed over it creating dresses, camo outfits, and eventually a group of them marched together in the annual DragonCon parade in downtown Atlanta.”
The article is online behind a paywall at the Wall Street Journal, “‘We’re Spending Our Hard-Earned Money to Dress Up Like Carpet.’ The Tight-Knit World of Rug Fans”.
These are the people who are obsessed with carpet and rug patterns in hotels, airports and office buildings; Dragon Con at the Marriott
Here’s a lot more material (free!) at the Dragon Con Eternal Members site: “Marriott Carpet Pattern”, including the famous photo of two prone cosplayers whose camo military uniforms blend almost perfectly with the rug.
(18) IN CASE YOU’RE CURIOUS. I’d never seen a photo of Dragon Con CEO Pat Henry before (not that they aren’t available). Writers of the Future’s John Goodwin posted a photo of them together.
He also posted a photo of the Writers of the Future panel with Contest judges Kevin J. Anderson, Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick and Jody Lynn Nye.
(19) MORE CON HEALTH ADVICE. In advance of this weekend’s PAX West convention, the Seattle’s Public Health Insider warned con crud is a thing: “Gaming, Cosplay, and Con Crud, Oh My!”
PAX West opens on Friday and will bring tens of thousands of people to downtown Seattle. Be prepared for legions of cosplayers and badge wearers in downtown, even if you aren’t attending.
So… what is “con crud”?
“Con crud” is an artificial term that refers to the common cold, mild flu, or other non-threatening illness that may strike towards the end of a convention, or soon after leaving. You might have also heard it called PAX pox, festival plague, or even nerd flu.
The balance of the post advises ways to avoid getting it. [Via Ron Oakes.]
(20) AIR APPARENT. Fixing a flat: “Astronauts tackle air leak on International Space Station”.
Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are having to deal with an air leak from a possible collision.
It has been traced to a small hole in a capsule that was used to deliver a new crew to the laboratory 400km (250 miles) above the Earth in June.
It is thought the damage was caused by the impact of a high-speed rocky fragment flying through space.
(21) BACK ON THE RAILS. BBC tells “How the Hogwarts Express was saved from a Welsh scrapyard”.
Emerging from the clouds of steam engulfing platform nine and three-quarters, the gleaming Hogwarts Express commands a special place in the hearts of Harry Potter fans.
Yet there was a time when the only place this engine could call home, was a south Wales scrapyard where it lay rotting among the hulks of a bygone era.
That is because the locomotive that entranced millions of Potter viewers and now sits proudly in Warner Brothers Studios, was once earmarked to be dismantled for the furnace.
Written off, abandoned and forgotten for 17 years, this lowly engine’s final destiny was originally far from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
(22) MORE THAN JUST ONLINE. “Telepresence: ‘My robot makes me feel like I haven’t been forgotten'”. – about helping shut-ins keep up with school.
Internet-connected robots that can stream audio and video are increasingly helping housebound sick children and elderly people keep in touch with teachers, family and friends, combating the scourge of isolation and loneliness.
Zoe Johnson, 16, hasn’t been to school since she was 12.
She went to the doctor in 2014 “with a bit of a sore throat”, and “somehow that became A&E [accident and emergency],” says her mother, Rachel Johnson.
(23) CASTING CONTROVERSIES. ScreenRant analyzes “10 Superhero Castings That Caused Fan Backlash.”
(24) ALMOST TIME. The House with a Clock in Its Walls – in theaters September 21.
In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead. Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke (creator of TV’s Supernatural). Co-starring Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams and Sunny Suljic, it is produced by Mythology Entertainment’s Brad Fischer (Shutter Island) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), as well as Kripke.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Todd Mason, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. And belated thanks to Joanna Rivers for an item the other day. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]