(1) WILLIS DISCUSSES SURGERIES. Connie Willis gave a medical update to her fans on Facebook:
I haven’t posted anything recently, mostly because I had a difficult summer and fall. I had two surgeries in a row: an emergency surgery for a herniated disc in my upper back and then four weeks later a knee replacement, and the combination completely laid me low. I know, that sounds like poor planning, but the doctor was anxious to get it (and my ensuing physical therapy) done before the Covid got completely out of hand in our area.
We just made it–Weld County goes red tomorrow, with 45 of our 48 available ICU beds filled–so it was the right decision, but two surgeries that close together really took it out of me, and I’ve been too exhausted to do much more than my exercises and my worrying about the political and pandemical situation.
Willis nevertheless has completed a couple of projects:
… In spite of surgeries, the pandemic, and obsessing about the election, I did manage to get some writing done. I finally finished my UFO novel, THE ROAD TO ROSWELL, it’s now in my agent’s hands! Yay!
It’s about a young woman, Francie, who goes to Roswell to be a college friend Serena’s maid-of-honor. Serena (who has horrible taste in men) is marrying a UFO nut, so they’ve scheduled the wedding to take place during the UFO convention that happens every year in July on the anniversary of the Roswell crash. And when Francie goes to get something from Serena’s car, she’s abducted by an alien and dragged off on a road trip across the Southwest that includes RVs, wind farms, rattlesnakes, chemtrails, casinos, cattle mutilations, a charming con man, a truly annoying conspiracy theorist, a sweet little old lady, a Western movie buff, Las Vegas wedding chapels, and Monument Valley.
I also finished a Christmas story called “Take a Look at the Five and Ten,” which is out right now in ASIMOV’S November/December issue and is coming out in a beautiful edition from Subterranean Press.
(2) WOODEN SHIPS. Watch as renowned artist “Johnna Klukas Turns a Spaceship.”
(3) LIADEN AUTHORS ASSIST UNCLE HUGO’S. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have announced how they’re helping Don Blyly of Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore by providing an exclusive signed page —
Don Blyly at Uncle Hugos Bookstore, working from home after his store was burnt out, has been trying to keep up with demand for our books. He tells us that the exclusive to the Uncles signed-via-tipped-in-sheets Trader’s Leap (latest hardcover Liaden novel) has arrived and is being shipped as he has time — he’s already packed some Canadian orders as well as a bunch of US orders. Official publication date was set for December 1, but since Baen doesn’t usually embargo books (and Don’s house can only hold so many books) Don is going ahead now. He mentions that he has more than enough for the 150 or so pre-orders, and he’ll ship new orders first-come basis after the pre-orders are done. http://www.unclehugo.com/prod/ah-lee-miller.php
In the face of this, we’re releasing the related Ambient Conditions chapbook in paper edition as soon as it can work through the Amazon.com …. the ebook is still set to be published November 27.
And that’s the news this morning …
(4) LIMITED TIME BARGAIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Amazon Unlimited for $0.99 for two months –(remember to cancel before the period is up, it’s $9.99/month regularly… although there’s also a $29.97 for 6 months deal on this page.)
While I own an Amazon eReader — Kindle — I’m more likely to read it on my iPad or my non-Fire tablet, so I’ll splurge for the $0.99 deal.
And then do my best to remember to use it while I’ve got it!
(5) SETI. The John W. Kluge Center will host an online discussion of the latest thinking on the search for life and intelligence outside of Earth on December 3 at 10 a.m. Eastern. Register here:“Artificial Intelligence and the Search for Life in the Universe Tickets”.
Join the John W. Kluge Center for a discussion of the latest thinking on the search for life and intelligence outside of Earth.
This conversation, hosted by Blumberg Chair Susan Schneider, and featuring Caleb Scharf and Sarah Imari Walker, explores the relationship between intelligence, life, and consciousness, in biological and synthetic cases. It considers whether AI could be conscious, as well as the related epistemological questions of how to identify intelligence and consciousness in beings that are very different from us perceptually and cognitively. The speakers will consider philosophical issues about the nature of intelligence, discussing how to identify intelligence in biological life and AI, and how our understanding of these areas informs the search for life in the universe and our ability to detect it.
This event is cosponsored by Florida Atlantic University, Initiative on the Future of Mind.
Susan Schneider leads the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Initiative on the Future Mind, and is the William F. Dietrich Professor of Philosophy at FAU. She is the most recent Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration, and Scientific innovation at the Kluge Center.
Caleb Scharf is Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, New York as well as a research scientist studying exoplanets, exomoons, and the nature of environments suitable for life.
Sara Imari Walker is Deputy Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University (ASU), Associate Professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU, Deputy Director, Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at ASU, and an associate professor at ASU
(6) READY TO MOVE IN. Suzanne Walker’s addition to the series hosted by Sarah Gailey — “Personal Canons: Lloyd Alexander”.
…Somewhere during that period, I picked up a book called The Black Cauldron, by Lloyd Alexander. It was my first introduction to a secondary fantasy world so vast and lush that I could imagine myself in it with remarkable ease. Based loosely off Welsh mythology, the world of Prydain contains undead soldiers, evil witches, giant cats, dwarves, and giant winged birds called gwythiants.
I was enchanted in a way I’d never been with any other book before. I wanted to live in this world, despite its rather high body count. I wanted to pick up a sword and ride on a horse and follow Taran of Caer Dallben on his adventures. I discovered the book was actually the second in a series, and quickly devoured the rest of the Chronicles of Prydain.
Lloyd Alexander’s books are what made me fall in love with fantasy. Theybecame a direct line to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce, and Megan Whalen Turner. I might have discovered those books eventually, but Prydain was my first and best love. They introduced me to the themes that so often appear in fantasy, ones I cherish and hold dear.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- November 22, 2012 — The animated Rise Of The Guardians enjoyed its premiere. It was directed by Peter Ramsey and produced by Christina Steinberg Nancy Bernstein from a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire. The feature starred the voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher. It was based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series, it really bombed though most critics at least grudgingly liked it. However, the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is very healthy 80%.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born November 22, 1862 – Warwick Goble. Illustrator, mainly of children’s books or what was so thought. First to illustrate The War of the Worlds. I’ve found only a few covers made during his lifetime; at least a hundred fifty interiors. Here is Vector 202 re-using a War of Worlds interior. Here is another for War of Worlds. Here is the 2014 reprint of Green Willow (1910), with his forty watercolor-over-ink interiors. Here is a Pook Press biographical page showing several reprints. Here is a 2008 Dover edition of reprints. Here is The Star Lovers. Much more outside our field, e.g. Van Milligan’s 1906 Constantinople, Fletcher’s 1919 Cistercians in Yorkshire. (Died 1943) [JH]
- Born November 22, 1896 – Joel Townsley Rogers. A dozen short stories for us; his fine novelette “Beyond Space and Time” is in Boucher’s Treasury vol. 1 (don’t complain of its 1938 style, it’s a masterwork; Boucher was no dope), “No Matter Where You Go” is in Mills’ 9th Best from “[The Magazine of] Fantasy & Science Fiction”. Four other novels, hundreds of shorter stories. JTR was one of the first U.S. Navy flyers. (Died 1984) [JH]
- Born November 22, 1932 — Robert Vaughn. His best-known genre work was as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with other genre work being in Teenage Caveman, Starship Invasions, The Lucifer Complex, Virus, Hangar 18, Battle Beyond the Stars, Superman III, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (seriously who penned that awful title?), Transylvania Twist and Witch Academy. God did he do some truly awful films. Oh, and he wrote the introduction to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series companion that came out a generation after the series aired. (Died 2016.) (CE)
- Born November 22, 1940 – Roy Thomas, 80. Took over Alter Ego from Jerry Bails, appeared in DC and Marvel lettercols; going pro, worked a while for Weisinger at DC, then Marvel: Sgt. Fury, Doctor Strange, Conan, the Avengers, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, first successor to Lee as editor-in-chief. Back to DC: Wonder Woman, revival of the Justice Society. Marvel again and independents. Saw Lee about RT’s Stan Lee Story 48 hours before Lee died. Inkpot. Roll of Honor in the Eagle Awards. One of Fifty Who Made DC Great. Eisner Hall of Fame. [JH]
- Born November 22, 1940 — Terry Gilliam, 80. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Tideland, The Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else. Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his work for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had the staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup. He’s also co-directed a number of scenes. Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one. He’s not won any Hugos to date. My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits. (CE)
- Born November 22, 1943 — William Kotzwinkle, 77. Fata Morgana might be in my opinion his best novel though Doctor Rat which he won the World Fantasy Award for is in the running for that honor as well. And his short stories of which there are many are quite excellent too. Did you know Kotzwinkle wrote the novelization of the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? The usual digital suspects are well stocked with his books. (CE)
- Born November 22, 1949 — John Grant, 71. He’d make the Birthday list solely for being involved in the stellar Hugo Award winning Encyclopedia of Fantasy which also won a Mythopoeic Award. And he did win another well-deserved Hugo Award for Best Related Work for The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective. Most of his short fiction has been set in the Lone Wolf universe though I see that he did a Judge Dredd novel too. (CE)
- Born November 22, 1953 – Marly Youmans, 67. (Pronounced like “yeoman’s”.) Ten novels, two dozen shorter stories, poems (five books so far). Interviewed in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Waylines. Six of her books collaborated with Clive Hicks-Jenkins who decorated; MY did title poems for The Book of Ystwyth: Six Poets on the Art of CHJ. Website here (“Seek Giacometti’s Palace at 4 a.m. Go back two hours”). [JH]
- Born November 22, 1957 — Kim Yale. Married to John Ostrander until 1993 when she died of breast cancer, she was a writer who’s first work was in the New America series, a spin-off of Truman’s Scout series. With Truman, she developed the Barbara Gordon Oracle character, created the Manhunter series, worked on Suicide Squad, and was an editor at D.C. where she oversaw such licenses as Star Trek: The Next Generation. Oh,and for First Comics, she co-wrote much of Grimjack with her husband. (Died 1993.) (CE)
- Born November 22, 1958 — Jamie Lee Curtis, 62. Can we agree that she was the best Scream Queen for her film debut in the 1978 Halloween film in which she played the role of Laurie Strode? No? Well, that’s my claim. She followed up with yet more horror films, The Fog and Prom Niight. In all, she’s the only character that survives. She would reprise the role of Laurie in four sequels, including Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection, Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch. She shows up in up of my fav SF films, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Sandra Banzai but you’ll need to see the director’s extended version as she’s only there in that version. Is True Lies genre? Probably not but for her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress. Damn impressive I’d say. No, I’m not listing all her films here as OGH would likely start growling. Suffice to say she’s had a very impressive career. (CE)
- Born November 22, 1980 – Daniele Lanzarotta, 40. A dozen novels, four shorter stories. Recently some film work. Has read The Old Man and the Sea, looks forward to Dracula. Hockey fan. [JH]
- Born November 22, 1982 – Maryse Meijer, 38. One novel, two collections; novella “Northwood” separately published. I thought this interview after a reading MM headlined more helpful than her Website, but what do I know? [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- At Dilbert, naming calls.
(10) ANOTHER THEORY OF FANDOM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a passage from Isaac Asimov’s In Memory Yet Green (1979) about how he joined fandom only to learn that in 1938 the Queens Science Fiction Club and the Futurians were engaged in a titanic fan feud.
Science-fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp (another dear friend of mine) has…developed a theory of human contentiousness that I rather like. He points out that in the long history of human groups in the food-gathering stage. a multiplying tribe was always in danger. A group of fifty could not gather any more ground than a group of twenty-five could, and would not find any more food. Therefore, the fifty might starve where the twenty-five would not.
If the fifty were full of loving kindness and brotherly affection and could not bear to break up, they would be in serious trouble. If they were contentious individuals who tended to split up, each smaller group, staking out a territory of its own, might survive. Hence contentiousness had survival value and flourished, and still exists among mankind despite the fact that ever since agriculture became the most important activity of man, co-operation, and not contentiousness, has been required.
Sprague says that if the contentiousness of small groups is to be studied seriously, no better start could be made than to read and study (however painful that might be) The Immortal Storm [by Sam Moskowitz].
(11) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. “Scientists Say Laser Device Can Make Lightning Strike Specific Targets” reports The Futurist.
An international team of researchers says that small lasers could be used to guide lightning strikes — much like Thor’s legendary hammer Mjölnir.
“It turns out that to deliver particles, you do not need high-intensity lasers, even low intensity like your laser pointer will be already enough,” Andrey Miroshnichenko, a researcher at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia, told Agence France Presse of the work.
The team says it’s already tested the concept in labs using devices known as hollow lasers, which in effect create a pipe of light. These lasers can short circuit storm clouds and trigger lightning strikes by heating micro-particles in the air.
(12) KEEP YOUR IDEAS IN CIRCULATION. WIRED finds there’s “A New Way to Plug a Human Brain Into a Computer: via Veins”.
… On Wednesday, a team of scientists and engineers showed results from a promising new approach. It involves mounting electrodes on an expandable, springy tube called a stent and threading it through a blood vessel that leads to the brain. In tests on two people, the researchers literally went for the jugular, running a stent-tipped wire up that vein in the throat and then into a vessel near the brain’s primary motor cortex, where they popped the spring. The electrodes snuggled into the vessel wall and started sensing when the people’s brains signaled their intention to move—and sent those signals wirelessly to a computer, via an infrared transmitter surgically inserted in the subjects’ chests. In an article published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, the Australian and US researchers describe how two people with paralysis due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) used such a device to send texts and fool around online by brain-control alone….
(13) DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS. Mental Floss simulates a trip on America’s “Most Haunted Roads”.
What could be scarier than driving down a dark road at night? Driving down one of these dark roads at night. If any of the below routes—compiled by Commercial Truck Trader—pop up on your GPS this spooky season, consider finding an alternate way to your destination.
1. JEREMY SWAMP ROAD // SOUTHBURY, CONNECTICUT
Jeremy Swamp Road and several other streets in southwestern Connecticut are said to be frequented by Melon Heads, creatures that, according to the New England Historical Society, live in wooded areas and “look like small humanoids with oversized heads” that “survive by eating small animals, stray cats and human flesh, usually the flesh of teenagers.” Some say the Melon Heads are the result of inbreeding, with others theorizing that they escaped from local hospitals or asylums….
(14) ESCAPE CLAWS. Den of Geek reminds us never to underestimate “The Importance of Cats in Horror Cinema”.
… Exempting terrors such as Nine Lives and Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas from the canon of feline representation, these everyday animals are turned to all sorts of purposes in horror, and seeing as it’s Halloween, we’ve been thinking about some of those different portrayals. There’s a famous storytelling maxim that states characters should ‘save the cat’ early on in the story, but in horror, they more often need saving from the cat.
What follows is not a complete, exhaustive cat-alogue of their screen history in the genre. We haven’t included one-off models of moggyness, such as the 2010 home invasion film Burning Bright, which contrives a Lemony Snicket-esque tower of circumstances to put a live tiger in a boarded up house with a teenager and her autistic brother during a hurricane. Instead, we’re using key examples to look at nine major tropes for cats in horror, whether lucky or unlucky; natural or supernatural; good or evil…
Getting onto actual feline characters, there are a fair few films that position cats as zombies or revenants, to one end or another, usually to differing degrees of gross-out.
For instance, on one end of the scale, we have Thackery Binx in Disney’s Hocus Pocus, with his immortal soul trapped inside a black cat by the wicked Sanderson sisters. He gets flattened by a tyre at one point, but the curse affords him a swift return. On the gorier end, Re-Animator‘s Herbert West demonstrates his ghastly green serum on his roommate’s dearly departed pet Rufus, though it’s unclear if he was already dead when West got hold of him….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Genshin Impact” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this game has so many micropayments that it’s perfect for people who played trading card games as a teenager and can say to themselves, “I’ve been ripped off this way since I was a kid and I’m not stopping now!”
[Thanks to Steve Miller, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]