(1) CAN VIRTUAL CONS BE MADE BETTER? In “What Lessons Can Future Conventions Learn From Virtual San Diego Comic-Con?”, Io9 staffers Beth Elderkin, Jill Pantozzi, Cheryl Eddy, James Whitbrook, Charles Pulliam-Moore, and Germain Lussier assess what didn’t work about SDCC 2020, “from a lack of support for the artists and vendors who would usually be on the show floor, to the lack of fan involvement, to how to create a sense of energy that the convention’s swath of ‘family Zoom call’ style pre-recorded panels were lacking.”
(2) LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. HBO showed its Lovecraft Country trailer to San Diego Comic-Con’s @Home audience.
(3) TRAILER PARK. Ars Technica offers “An Ars roundup of the many trailers unveiled this weekend during Comic-Con@Home” where you can see all the others.
People might not be able to flock to San Diego Comic Con this year in person, but the virtual convention, Comic-Con@Home, has been running all weekend, with countless panels, sneak peeks, and teasers and trailers for upcoming TV shows—but not many films, because let’s be honest: it’s not looking so good for major theatrical film releases in the fall. On Thursday alone, we got the full trailer for Bill and Ted Face the Music, a teaser for the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost horror comedy Truth Seekers, and the first trailer for S2 of HBO’s His Dark Materials. Rather than continue to cover each individually, we decided to compile the remaining trailers of interest into a single roundup post.
(4) A CAUTIONARY TALE. Linda D. Addison offers her experience with Covid-19 as a warning in this public Facebook post.
I’m sharing what my life has been like since June 8 because I’ve seen too many people not taking Covid-19 serious. This virus is real. If sharing this wakes even one person up, it’s worth it.
I’ve been as safe as possible, going to the supermarket every two weeks for supplies, wearing a mask, sanitizing everything, however, 7 weeks ago I got very sick for 9 days with symptoms of mild coronavirus, talked to my doctor and stayed in self isolation for more than 2 weeks. I was fortunate that my temp never went high enough or my breathing bad enough that I had to go to the hospital. Since then, I’ve lived with continued cough, fatigue, shortness of breath (using inhaler from doctor helps).
This is happening to many people in recovery (look up Covid Long Haulers). So I’m sleeping a lot, healing will come, but this is so new there’s not much the medical field can do at this point. I’m ok. My friend, Jill, lives around the corner and has been helping by dropping off stuff.
PLEASE, wear a mask (if not for yourself, for anyone who crosses your path)!
(5) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Vulture’s Mark Harris, in “The Neverending Story of Those Neverappearing Avatar Sequels”, contends that although James Cameron says Avatar 2 has been delayed because of the coronavirus, the guy is suh a perfectionist that it’s highlyunlikely we will see Avatar 3,4, or 5.
…The wait for more Avatar has become something of a running joke, so much so that a Twitter thread I started when it was already a running joke is now well into its sixth year. The first sequel was originally announced almost a decade ago, in October 2010, with a projected release date of December 2014. Since then, its opening date has, at regular intervals, been moved back one year at a time — except once, in 2017, when it moved back two years. But the film has also morphed from a two-sequel series into a four-sequel series, with a lingering sense that the mountain was being made bigger as a way of justifying the length of the climb.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- July 27, 1997 — Stargate SG-1 premiered on Showtime where it would run for its first five seasons. The show which was created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner. It’s based rather loosely off the Stargate film. The initial core cast was Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge. It would run for a decade with the last five years being on Sci Fi. Two spinoff series, Stargate Atlantis which would run five seasons, and Stargate Universe which would last two seasons. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a stellar 91% rating. (CE)
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born July 27, 1870 – Hilaire Belloc. Orator, poet,correspondent,sailor, satirist, soldier, activist. Cautionary Tales for Children includes “Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion” and “Rebecca, who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably”; 1907 readers would quickly recognize the parody. A hundred fifty books; we can claim half a dozen novels (illustrated by G.K.Chesterton!), as many shorter stories. (Died 1953) [JH]
- Born July 27, 1874 — Frank Shannon. He’s best remembered now as the scientist Dr. Alexis Zarkov in the three Flash Gordon serials starring Buster Crabbe between 1936 and 1940. The serials themselves were Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. (Died 1959.) (CE)
- Born July 27, 1891 – Ruth Plumly Thompson. Following Frank Baum’s death, she wrote two dozen Oz books. Three other novels, six dozen shorter stories, ten dozen poems. Also wrote for The Smart Set, The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, Jack and Jill. Many regard her as a worthy successor. (Died 1976) [JH]
- Born July 27, 1908 – W.I. Van der Poel, Jr. Art director for Galaxy 1950-1960. A score of covers – but not, it seems, appearing there. He is however on this famous 1952 Emshwiller cover – see the key here. Look at The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. (Died 1987) [JH]
- Born July 27, 1927 – Mel Hunter. A hundred book and magazine covers, eight dozen interiors. Here is the May 53 Galaxy. Here is The End of Eternity. Here is Double Star – the Great Lorenzo at right. Here is the Jun 58 If. Here is the Mar 61 F & SF. (Died 2004) [JH]
- Born July 27, 1938 — Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best-known for co-creating Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost-beyond-counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels. (Died 2008.) (CE)
- Born July 27, 1939 — Sydney J. van Scyoc, 81. Her first published story was “Shatter the Wall” in Galaxy in 1962. She continued to write short stories throughout the Sixties and Seventies, and published Saltflower, her first novel in the early Seventies. Over the next twenty years, she published a dozen novels and likewise number of short stories. For all practice purposes, she’s not available in digital format. (CE)
- Born July 27, 1948 — Juliet Marillier, 72. She’s a New Zealand born and Western Australian resident fantasy writer focusing entirely on historical fantasy. She has a number of series including Blackthorn & Grim which at two volumes is a good introduction to her, and Sevenwaters which at seven volumes is a serious reading commitment. She’s a regular contributor to the fiction writing blog, Writer Unboxed.
- Born July 27, 1949 – Cora Lee Healy, 71. Fanartist, has done some pro work. Here is a cover for Algol. Here is “Starward”. Here is another astronomical. She has been in Energumen and Granfalloon; she did the Ace of Cups in the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see this review by a Tarot collector; although the reviewer says the Deck is out of print; copies can still be obtained; if all else fails, ask me, John Hertz, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057). [JH]
- Born July 27, 1950 — Simon Jones, 70. He’s well known for his portrayals of Arthur Dent, protagonist of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He first portrayed the character on radio for the BBC and again on television for BBC Two. Jones also featured in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film in a cameo role. He’s in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Brazil and 12 Monkeys as well. (CE)
- Born July 27, 1952 – Bud Webster. Our Gracious Host has done better than I could. (Died 2016) [JH]
- Born July 27, 1958 – Kate Elliott, 62. Two dozen novels (some under another name), a dozen shorter stories; interviewed in Apex, Lightspeed, Locus, Mindsparks. “The Sword of Heaven [in two parts, An Earthly Crown and His Conquering Sword] I call my Mozart novel because of the speed it flowed out of me…. my Beethoven novel The Law of Becoming was like hacking through the jungle into unknown country…. Being a parent has made me a better writer.” Unconquerable Sun just released this month. Mills College woman. [JH]
- Born July 27, 1968 — Farah Mendlesohn, 52. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein which I’m reading now, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein which is up for a Hugo next week. Her work Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. (CE)
- Born July 27, 1979 – Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, 41. Three dozen short stories; poems; essays, reviews, interviews, in Analog, Clarkesworld, Foundation, NY Review of SF, Strange Horizons. Anthology (with Robert Silverberg), When the Blue Shift Comes. Traveler of Worlds, conversations with Silverberg. Good moderator of the Asimov centenary panel at Loscon 46.
- Born July 27, 1984 – Hao Jingfang, Ph.D., 36. Vagabonds just appeared in English and Spanish this year. A score of shorter stories; Best-Novelette Hugo for “Folding Beijing”, first won by a Chinese woman. Translated into English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish. Interviewed in Lightspeed, Monde chinois (in French). [JH]
(8) COMICS SECTION.
(9) NEW TUNES TOON. SYFY Wire’s points out you can watch the new cartoon as part of this Comic-Con@Home video panel: “Boo! Looney Tunes Cartoons Debuts New Porky And Daffy Short At Comic-Con@Home”,
“We wanted to tap into the zany energy of the 1940s stuff,” added supervising producer Alex Kirwan. “That was our favorite era of the shorts and we just wanted more of that. We didn’t want to set out to reinvent it and we didn’t want to set out to put new sensibilities on it … What we love about the shorts is that they’re wonderful slapstick humor and we just wanted to get back to [that] and be really true to the way they paired the characters and the way they built comedy dynamics.”
(10) WATCH ALEX ROSS AT WORK. Over the last two months, Marvel has revealed 28 “Timeless” variant covers created by Alex Ross, which will begin to hit local comic shops in September. See Ross craft his iconic painted covers, and see how his timeless imagery was made into a magnificent mural in Marvel’s NYC offices in this video.
(11) FROM BACK STORY TO NO STORY. “Peter Shinkoda says Marvel exec claimed ‘nobody cares’ about Asian people” – BBC has the story.
Daredevil actor Peter Shinkoda says his storyline was cut after a Marvel executive said “nobody cares about” Asian characters.
Shinkoda played Nobu in the Marvel Netflix series, which was cancelled at the end of 2018.
But he says his character’s “back story was dropped” on orders from former Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb.
“I’m kind of reluctant to say this, but… I’m going to take this moment,” Shinkoda said during a virtual talk.
“Jeph Loeb told the writers’ room not to write for Nobu and Gao – and this was reiterated many times by many of the writers and show runners – that nobody cares about Chinese people and Asian people,” he alleged.
The Canadian actor, who was taking part in a #SaveDaredevil roundtable discussion with actors from the show, said a storyline about Nobu’s journey to America ended up being dropped.
(12) THE SUN SHINES ON EVERYBODY. And some take more advantage of that than others:“What the heroin industry can teach us about solar power”
If you have ever doubted whether solar power can be a transformative technology, read on.
This is a story about how it has proved its worth in the toughest environment possible.
The market I’m talking about is perhaps the purest example of capitalism on the planet.
There are no subsidies here. Nobody is thinking about climate change – or any other ethical consideration, for that matter.
This is about small-scale entrepreneurs trying to make a profit.
It is the story of how Afghan opium growers have switched to solar power, and significantly increased the world supply of heroin.
(13) RETURN TO SENDER. “Nasa Mars rover: Meteorite to head home to Red Planet”.
A small chunk of Mars will be heading home when the US space agency launches its latest rover mission on Thursday.
Nasa’s Perseverance robot will carry with it a meteorite that originated on the Red Planet and which, until now, has been lodged in the collection of London’s Natural History Museum (NHM).
The rock’s known properties will act as a calibration target to benchmark the workings of a rover instrument.
It will give added confidence to any discoveries the robot might make.
This will be particularly important if Perseverance stumbles across something that hints at the presence of past life on the planet – one of the mission’s great quests.
“This little rock’s got quite a life story,” explained Prof Caroline Smith, head of Earth sciences collections at the NHM and a member of the Perseverance science team.
“It formed about 450 million years ago, got blasted off Mars by an asteroid or comet roughly 600,000-700,000 years ago, and then landed on Earth; we don’t know precisely when but perhaps 1,000 years ago. And now it’s going back to Mars,” she told BBC News.
(14) I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING. NPR reports “Lottery Winner In Jamaica Avoids The Spotlight Dressed As Darth Vader”.
It’s not uncommon for lottery winners to want to avoid the spotlight, right? But showing up dressed as Darth Vader to collect your check is a new one. It happened in a galaxy not so far away, in May Pen, Jamaica, when a man claimed his $95 million prize in a dark lord of the Sith costume.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that Saruman is spinning Gandalf around, he “forces Gandalf to learn breakdancing against his will.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Mlex, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]