Bova’s first professional sf sale was a Winston juvenile, The Star Conquerors (1959), and his first published short fiction was bought by Cele Goldsmith at Amazing – “A Long Way Back” (1961). During the Sixties he had nearly two dozen more novels and stories published.
He made several sales to Analog before meeting editor John W. Campbell, Jr. face-to-face at a Worldcon in Washington, D.C. After shaking his hand, Campbell provocatively said: “This is 1963. No democracy has ever lasted longer than 50 years, so this is obviously the last year of America’s democracy.”
Another story sold to Campbell, “Brillo” (1970), co-authored with Harlan Ellison, was his first story to be up for an award, a Hugo nominee. (And ten years later they won a judgment against ABC and Paramount, makers of Future Cop, for plagiarizing their idea.)
Bova also served as the science advisor for the Canadian television series Ellison created, The Starlost. Appalled by the production, Ellison assigned his credit to “Cordwainer Bird,” and Bova resigned but didn’t have the “contractual right to remove his name from the credits.” His novel The Starcrossed, is loosely based on those experiences.
Ben Bova studied journalism at Temple University in the Fifties, paying his way through by working as a copyboy at the Philadelphia Inquirer on a shift that started at 6 p.m. and went until 3 a.m. He learned “the basics of writing news copy are simple enough: be clear and deliver on time.”
He acquired his interest in science from visiting the Fels Planetarium, part of Philadelphia’s science museum, the Franklin Institute. “I never took a formal college course in science; I learned from the director of the Planetarium, I.M. Levitt, who became a lifelong friend and mentor.”
In 1956 he was hired by Glenn L. Martin Co. and worked on Project Vanguard, having marketed himself to recruiters as “someone who could understand what the engineers were doing and translate it into copy that the general public could understand.” In the 1960s he worked for the Avco Everett Research Laboratory.
When John W. Campbell, Jr. suddenly died in 1971, Bova was offered the job of editing Analog Science Fiction magazine. “It was like being drafted to run for president. You’re terribly afraid you’re not up to the task, but you can’t refuse to step up to it.” He eventually asked the publisher’s executive who had hired him why he was picked for the job, when much better-known science-fiction writers had been considered. The executive answered that he had made it a point to read the work of each person up for the job. “Ben,” he said, “you were the only one I could understand!”
Bova made Analog, already the prozine with the largest circulation, even more successful. His accomplishments included publishing Spider Robinson’s first sale, a Callahan’s Bar story, and during his tenure acquiring many Hugo-winning stories, among them Larry Niven’s “The Hole Man” and ”Borderland of Sol”, Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake, George R.R. Martin’s “A Song for Lya,” The Forever War and “Tricentennial” by Joe Haldeman, “Home Is the Hangman” by Roger Zelazny, “Eyes of Amber” by Joan D. Vinge, and more. He was the winner of the first Best Professional Editor Hugo (1973), and collected five more while at the helm of the magazine.
He left Analog in 1978 to edit Omni, holding that post until 1982.
During Bova’s career he wrote over 120 fiction and nonfiction books. His novel, Titan, part of The Grand Tour series, won the prestigious John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2007. Another in the series was Jupiter —
Bova served as President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) from 1990 to 1992. SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal paid tribute: “I am devastated that our community has lost Ben Bova. He was so welcoming to new writers and embodied the philosophy of paying it forward.”
Bova taught science fiction at Harvard University and at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, where he has also directed film courses. He received his doctorate in education in 1996 from California Coast University.
He was Worldcon Author Guest of Honor at Chicon 2000. He was awarded the Robert A. Heinlein Award in 2008 for his work in science fiction.
Bova was married three times. He had a son and a daughter with his first wife, Rose. They divorced in 1974. That same year he married Barbara, and their marriage lasted 35 years, until her death in 2009. In 2013, he married Rashida Loya.
…Tennant met Piper 15 years ago on the set of Doctor Who. He entered in her second series and it’s hard looking back to imagine it as anything other than an immediate success. However, Piper said that when Dr Who was brought back to our screens with Christopher Eccleston in the leading role, that wasn’t the case. “When we started making it, everyone said it was going to be a failure. So you just didn’t imagine it being on for longer than three months,” she said. “Imagining that 15 years later, it’s still probably the biggest job you will have ever done and you’ll still be talking about it and going off and meeting people and, you know, celebrating it… That was a big reach.”
… Thinking about whether the reboot would be popular wasn’t the only thing on Piper’s mind. Doctor Who was the first big acting role she got after leaving the music world. “I wanted to prove myself as an actress; to myself, family, and this dream I had,” she said, “people don’t greet you with open arms when you’re trying new things, especially in this country. The attitude is very much ‘let’s see it then.’” Piper and Tennant made such a lasting impact on the series they’ve bot returned for guest appearances in Doctor Who.
…Roanhorse is speaking from her home in Santa Fe, overlooking the Sun and Moon mountains. She lives there with her husband, a Diné (or Navajo) artist, and their 12-year-old daughter. She rarely speaks with her birth mother. “I’m sure some people may come home and find joy,” she said, “but that has not been my experience.” Her new book, Black Sun, is an epic set in an imaginary world inspired by the indigenous cultures of North America as they were before European explorers invaded the shores of the continent. Her work has been embraced by the literary world and often appears on lists of the best “OwnVoices” fantasy novels. (The phrase, which originated in 2015 as a Twitter hashtag and has since turned into a publicity tool, signifies that the author shares the same background or experiences as the characters they write.) And since entering the scene a few years ago, she’s already received many of the genre’s most prestigious awards. Black Sun, which was published on October 13, was one of the most eagerly anticipated titles of the fall. Some have compared it to the monumental achievements of N.K. Jemisin and George R.R. Martin. Screen adaptations of several projects are already underway.
But within Native communities, the book’s reception has been mixed. Although Roanhorse has many Native fans who have hailed her work as groundbreaking and revelatory, she also has a number of vocal detractors. Not long after her debut, Trail of Lighting, was published, a group of Diné writers released a letter accusing her of cultural appropriation, mischaracterizing Diné spiritual beliefs, and harmful misrepresentation. They took issue with Roanhorse’s decision to write a fantasy inspired by Diné stories, since she is only Diné by marriage, and wondered why she hadn’t written about her “own tribe,” referring to the Ohkay Owingeh people of New Mexico. Some have even expressed doubts about Roanhorse’s Native ancestry and her right to tell Native stories at all.
At a time when the publishing industry is throwing open its doors to authors who traditionally faced barriers to entry, the controversy over Roanhorse’s work reveals a fault line in the OwnVoices movement. Native identity is exceptionally complex. It consists of hundreds of cultures, each of which has its own customs. Further complicating all this is the fact that Roanhose grew up estranged from Native communities, an outsider through no choice of her own. This complexity is reflected in her writing — both her debut and her latest work concern protagonists who are at odds with their communities. “I’m always writing outsiders,” she says. “Their journey is usually about coming home, and sometimes they wished they’d stayed away.”
… The report discusses how Mr. Science’s income is about double that of Mr. Average’s, and that 38.4% of Mr. Science have had graduate study, compared to 2.3% of Mr. Average. It discusses various professional societies Mr. Science belongs to, and the credentials of some of its authors. It also spends two pages touting the background and editorship of John Campbell….
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm Tuesday, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023.
This well-preserved, ancient asteroid, known as Bennu, is currently more than 200 million miles (321 million kilometers) from Earth. Bennu offers scientists a window into the early solar system as it was first taking shape billions of years ago and flinging ingredients that could have helped seed life on Earth. If Tuesday’s sample collection event, known as “Touch-And-Go” (TAG), provided enough of a sample, mission teams will command the spacecraft to begin stowing the precious primordial cargo to begin its journey back to Earth in March 2021. Otherwise, they will prepare for another attempt in January.
… All spacecraft telemetry data indicates the TAG event executed as expected. However, it will take about a week for the OSIRIS-REx team to confirm how much sample the spacecraft collected.
(5) LEHRER GOES PUBLIC. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Tom Lehrer has put all his lyrics in the public domain: Songs and Lyrics by Tom Lehrer. The site includes lyrics and sheet music, but, alas, no recordings.
My rough quick count shows about 45 songs I’m familiar with (including several from The Electric Company, of which at least four are on a Lehrer multi-CD compilation and on Spotify), although some posted include revisions and/or private versions (and, according to a separate list poster, not all known revisions/updates). Also about 60 songs that I’ve never heard of.
By the way, the home page advises: “Note: This website will be shut down on December 31, 2024, so if you want to download anything, don’t wait too long.”
I also recommend the (PBS) Tom Lehrer Live In Copenhagen concert, from decades ago, it shows what a great (IMHO) performer he is – available here at the Internet Archive.
(6) THE VERDICT ON CATS. John Hodgman ruled on a thorny issue in the February 16 New York Times Magazine.
Question: My friend Abby insists that the movie CATS is good. She has even persuaded our friends to perform a live version of it on her backyard on St. Valentine’s Day. She says this is not a sarcastic bit. Please order her to admit that this is some sort of joke.
HODGMAN: I am truly impartial, as I have never seen either the film or the stage production of CATS. However, I have processed enough of my friends’ trauma after they watched the recent movie to establish these principles: 1) There is no way Abby can actually replicate the C.G.I. strangeness of that movie unless her backyard is a literal uncanny valley; 2) Thus, Abby is simply putting on the stage version of CATS, which everyone seems to have liked, even without sarcasm; 3) People like what they like, and it’s not your job to police your friends’ Jellicle thoughts. Happy Valentine’s Day. Now and forever.
Charlie is an enigma: a human corpse found in a cave on the Moon. A missing man should be easy to identify, given how few humans have made it out into space. Inexplicably, all of them can be accounted for. So who is the dead man?…
…For a book lover, stepping into a bookstore is always exciting, but a new bookstore in China makes the experience absolutely spellbinding. Dujiangyan Zhongshuge, located in Chengdu, was designed by Shanghai-based architecture firm X+Living, which has created several locations for Zhongshuge. The two-story space appears cathedral-like, thanks to the mirrored ceilings and gleaming black tile floors which reflect the bookcases, creating a visual effect that feels akin to an M.C. Escher drawing. “The mirror ceiling in the space is the signature of Zhongshuge bookstore,” says Li Xiang, founder of X+Living. “It effectively extends the space by reflection.”
Upon entering, shoppers encounter C-shaped bookcases, which create a series of intimate spaces. In the center of the store, towering arches and columns take advantage of the full height of the space. These bookcases were inspired by the history and topography of the region. “We moved the local landscape into the indoor space,” says Li. “The project is located in Dujiangyan, which is a city with a long history of water conservancy development, so in the main area, you could see the construction of the dam integrated into the bookshelves.”
(9) FUTURE-CON. The success of their first event has encouraged Future-Con’s organizers to keep going. Thread starts here.
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1979 — Forty one years ago, Robert Heinlein’s The Number of The Beast first saw publication as a serial staring with the October issue of Omni magazine which was edited by Ben Bova and Frank Kendig. New English Library would offer the first edition of it, a United Kingdom paperback, the following January. Fawcett Gold Medal / Ballantine would print the first U.S. edition, again a paperback, that summer. There would be no hardcover until twenty-years after it first came out when SFBC did one. It did not make the final voting list for Best Novel Hugo at Noreascon Two. It won no other awards.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 20, 1882 — Bela Lugosi. He’s best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film franchise Drácula. He came to hate that he played that character feeling he’d been Typecast. Now tell me what’s your favorite film character that he played? (Died 1956.) (CE)
Born October 20, 1905 — Frederic Dannay. One half with Manfred Bennington Lee of the writing team who created Ellery Queen. ISFDB lists two Ellery Queen novels as being genre, And on the Eight Day and The Scrolls of Lysis, plus a single short story, “ A Study in Terror”. (Died 1982.) (CE)
Born October 20, 1906 – Crockett Johnson. Of this simple genius – that’s praise – I wrote here: Barnaby and Mr. O’Malley, Harold and the purple crayon, the geometricals. A commenter mentioned Barkis. Also there’s The Carrot Seed; more. Fantagraphics’ fourth volume of Barnaby reprints is scheduled for 1 Dec 20. (Died 1975) [JH]
Born October 20, 1923 – Erle M. Korshak, 97. Sometimes known as “Mel”, hello Andrew Porter. Here he is with other pioneers at Nycon I the 1st Worldcon. Committee secretary, Chicon I the 2nd Worldcon. His Shasta Publishers an early provider of hardback SF 1947-1957; after its end, EMK dormant awhile, then Shasta-Phoenix arose 2009 publishing classic SF art. First Fandom Hall of Fame. Barry Levin Lifetime Collector’s Award. Announced as First Fandom Guest of Honor, Chicon 8 (80th Worldcon, 2022). [JH]
Born October 20, 1934 — Michael Dunn. He’s best remembered for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless, attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had another appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea “The Wax Men” episode. (Died 1973.) (CE)
Born October 20, 1937 – Betsy Haynes, 83. Eighty novels of history, mystery, comedy, the supernatural. In The Dog Ate My Homework a girl using a magic word can make things happen; to escape a test she says the school has been taken over by giant termites: suddenly she hears giant crunching steps. Two dozen Bone Chillers by BH became a television series, some based on her books, some by other authors although BH appeared at the end of each saying Use your imagination. [JH]
Born October 20, 1941 — Anneke Wills, 79. She was Polly, a companion to the Second and Third Doctors. She was also in Doctor Who: Devious, a fan film in development since 1991 with live-action scenes mostly completed by 2005 but the film still not released I believe. You can see the first part here. (CE)
Born October 20, 1955 – Greg Hemsath, 65. Active in Los Angeles fandom during the 1980s. While rooming with local fan Talin, worked on The Faery Tale Adventure, a computer game for the Amiga; here is a map Greg and Bonnie Reid made. Here is Talin in the “Dream Knight” vacuum-formed fantasy armor Greg helped with. Remarks from Greg appear in Bill Rotsler fanzines. Greg told Loscon XXVIII he was a past Guildmaster of the Crafters’ Guild of St. Gregory the Wonderworker. Applying that title to Greg himself would be disrespectful, so I shan’t. [JH]
Born October 20, 1958 — Lynn Flewelling, 61. The lead characters of her Nightrunner series are both bisexual, and she has stated this is so was because of “the near-absence of LGBT characters in the genre and marginalization of existing ones.” (As quoted in Strange Horizon, September 2001) The Tamír Triad series is her companion series to this affair (CE)
Born October 20, 1961 – Kate Mosse, O.B.E., 59. Author of fiction, some historical; playwright, journalist e.g. The Times, The Guardian, Bookseller; broadcaster e.g. Readers’ and Writers’ Roadshow on BBC Four. For us, three Languedoc novels (she and husband lived there awhile), two more. Co-founded the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Officer of the Order of the British Empire. First female executive director of Chichester Festival Theatre. [JH]
Born October 20, 1966 – Diana Rowland, 54. Marksmanship award in her Police Academy class. Black Belt in Hapkido. Math degree from Georgia Tech but has tried to forget. Eight novels about Kara Gillian accidentally summoning a demon prince, and then what. Six about white trash zombies. A story in Wild Cards 26; half a dozen more. [JH]
Born October 20, 1977 — Sam Witwer, 43. He’s had many genre roles — Crashdown in Battlestar Galactica, Aidan Waite in Being Human, Davis Bloome in Smallville, Mr. Hyde in Once Upon a Time and Ben Lockwood in Supergirl. He has voiced Starkiller in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, The Son in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, was the Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars Rebels. and also voiced Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels and Solo: A Star Wars Story. (CE)
Crankshaft knows who to call when you absolutely, positively have to have a facemask right away.
(13) SALADIN AHMED LEAVING MS. MARVEL. In January, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Minkyu Jung will end their run on Magnificent Ms. Marvel with an oversized finale issue.
Since launching last year, Magnificent Ms. Marvel has been a revolutionary era for Kamala Khan, with surprising developments in both her personal life and burgeoning super hero career. Between saving the alien planet of Saffa to fighting against the mysterious and deadly entity known as Stormranger, Kamala Khan also teamed up with new allies to defend her home of Jersey City.
Ahmed and Jung will end this thrilling journey with an issue that sees Ms. Marvel facing down Stormranger with the help of new hero Amulet, all while confronting the ongoing drama surrounding her family and friends. The special giant-sized issue also happens to the be the 75th issue of Kamala Khan’s solo adventures and will be a worthy capstone to a run that has greatly enhanced the legacy of one of Marvel’s brightest stars.
Here’s what Saladin had to say about closing out his tenure on the title:
“Forget super heroes, Kamala Khan is just plain one of the most important fictional characters of her generation. I knew that was true even before I came to write comics. But meeting and hearing from fans since launching The Magnificent Ms. Marvel has made it clearer and clearer. Kamala means so much to so many! Muslim readers. South Asian readers. But also people of all ages and cultures from all over the world who want to root for a selfless, kindhearted (possibly slightly dorky) hero in this grim, stingy era.
“Minkyu Jung’s pencils and designs went effortlessly from the streets of Jersey City to the alien plains of Saffa to night sky battles, always maintaining the human emotion that drives this book. From homicidal battlesuits to awkward conversations, he constantly pushed our story in new visual directions. I can’t imagine a more perfect artist for this run, and I’m so happy we got to work together.
“Of course a hero’s myth becomes most fully realized when it is passed between storytellers, changing with each telling. We’ve brought Kamala face to face with new enemies and to new places in her personal life, sent her to space and to the edge of the law. Now others will tell her story their way. I can’t wait to see what that looks like.”
.. The year 2020 and all that has come with it has been a monumental one for Martin-Green, who has become the face of the next generation of “Star Trek” storytelling while also strengthening her voice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in a moment of American social awakening. She and her husband, “Walking Dead” actor Kenric Green, welcomed their second child, Saraiyah Chaunté Green, on July 19 (via a home birth that was planned pre-pandemic). Martin-Green describes 2020 as a “doozy” but says that, despite all its difficulties, it will always be highlighted by the birth of her daughter.
This year’s racial reckoning in America has weighed heavily on Martin-Green, an Alabama native, who says she is keenly aware of the “new” and in some cases “old” world that awaits her Black children.
“Being Black in America, but also being raised in the South — where racism is quite in your face, it’s not so subtle down there — I feel like this is a time of exposure and a time of enlightenment,” Martin-Green said.
(15) TAKE COVER. “Wear a Mask” parodies the “Be Our Guest” number from Beauty and the Beast.
(16) SPIRITS QUEST. Richard Foss will offer a free virtual talk for the Palos Verdes Library called “Imbibing LA: Boozing it Up in the City of Angels” on October 29 at 7 p.m. reports EasyReader News.
In the talk he explores the history of alcohol in Los Angeles, which the library describes as a “historical center of winemaking and brewing, a region where cocktails were celebrated by movie stars and hunted down by prohibitionists, and a place where finely balanced drinks and abysmal concoctions were crafted by bartenders and celebrities. This talk explores that lively history from the first Spaniards to the end of Prohibition.”
Foss says if you want to appreciate the skill and the artistry of a chef or a bartender or anyone else who is in the restaurant industry, “it helps to know the cultural background, and that’s one of the things that I try to do with this particular talk. It’s about the history of drinking in Los Angeles from the time of the Spanish on to the current era.”
…When not reviewing restaurants or giving talks about food history, Foss is busy curating an exhibition for the Autry Museum of the American West called “Cooking up a New West.”
It’s about the waves of immigration that came to California and how it changed the way America eats. “At the time I proposed this I didn’t think of it as remotely political but in the current environment anything that you do about the value immigrants have added to our culture has suddenly become more political than it used to be.”
The exhibit is expected to open in 2021.
Readers can register for “Imbibing LA: Boozing it Up in the City of Angels” here.
(17) SETTING THE BAR WHERE IT BELONGS. [Item by Dann.] I came across this via Grimdark Magazine: “Five Things Netflix Must Get Right For Conan”. I didn’t see any mention of this development until recently. FWIW, I think their points are pretty good. I would summarize them as:
Conan should be a character that demonstrates violence
Conan is more than a brooding hulk of muscles. Get the character right by reflecting his humor and intelligence.
Get the casting right. The lead actor has to be a physical specimen capable of presenting a broad array of emotions.
Respect and represent the source material.
This isn’t generic fantasy. RE Howard created a complete alternative history and mythos. Use that creation to tell better stories.
I’ve got a Kindle edition of the complete Conan stories by RE Howard. I’ll read a story or two in between novels. Too many times, it turns into a story or ten!
… The book was one of three original editions of JK Rowling’s debut purchased by the city’s library in 1997. Only 500 hardbacks were ever printed.
In 2004, two were sold to raise extra money. It was then that staff discovered that the third was missing.
Its whereabouts remained a mystery until it appeared at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, being sold by a Californian owner. A Portsmouth City Library stamp inside the book appears to be from August 1997.
It went on to sell for $55,000 (£42,500), nearly three times its $20,000 estimate.
Portsmouth City Council library service says the book in question was not officially checked out.
Eric Bradley, Heritage Auctions’ public relations director, told the BBC: ‘If the Portsmouth library was interested in getting it back… I think it would set a precedent, because I think it would be the first time a library took a serious case to reclaim a Harry Potter book.’
(19) SECRET HISTORY. Is this how Europe got fractured?
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains the reason the hobbits can float down a raging river on barrels without the barrels filling up with water is that they’re on the river of questionable physics.”
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jeffrey Smith, Dann, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Confuse The Force, Luke” Dern.]
The Analog Science Fiction and Fact’s AnLab Awards and Asimov’s Science Fiction’s Readers’ Awards were presented today in a virtual award ceremony featuring editors and authors. The video is available on YouTube.
Analog Science Fiction and Fact Analytical Laboratory Winners
The Gorilla in a Tutu Principle or, Pecan Pie at Minnie and Earl’s—Adam-Troy Castro (September/October 2019)
Bonehunters—Harry Turtledove (May/June 2019)
Best Short Story
All Tomorrow’s Parties—Phoebe North (July/August 2019)
Best Fact Article
The Venus Sweet Spot: Floating Home—John J. Vester (May/June 2019)
Sequoias and Other Myths—Stanley Schmidt (September/October 2019)
Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers’ Award Winners
Waterlines—Suzanne Palmer (July/August 2019)
In the Stillness Between the Stars—Mercurio D. Rivera (September/October 2019)
(1) STÅLENHAG ARRIVES ON SMALL SCREEN. Amazon Prime
dropped a trailer for Tales from the Loop.
Inspired by the wondrous paintings of Simon Stålenhag, Tales from the Loop explores the mind-bending adventures of the people who live above the Loop, a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe – making things previously relegated to science fiction, possible.
(2) HUGO DEADLINE APPROACHING. CoNZealand sent members a
reminder that the end of the Hugo
nomination period is March 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (2:59
am Eastern Daylight Time, 06:59 Irish time, and 8:59 pm March 14, 2020 New
If you think the government has more information about UFOs than it’s letting on, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority. A 2019 Gallup poll revealed 68 percent of people feel that way. Thirty-three percent of all respondents said that they believe UFOs were built by aliens from outer space.
The Venn diagram center of those two groups clings to one of the most enduring conspiracy theories: The Government (it’s always with a capital G for believers) is squirreling away information about alien spacecraft. This idea appears, and has for years, on internet forums, social media, TV shows, memes, movies, and, of course, fiction, like Max Barry’s “It Came From Cruden Farm.”
There isn’t a word wasted in Nino Cipri’s Finna. For a book about travelling through nightmarish labyrinths that cut and twist between worlds, it’s remarkably straightforward.
Ava works at LitenVärld, an IKEA-like giant box store where “the showrooms sat together uneasily, like habitats at a hyper-condensed zoo.” Her day begins with relatively minor inconveniences — being forced to come in on her day off, worrying about having to work with Jules, her ex as of a week ago — but these escalate significantly when a young woman reports that her elderly grandmother’s gone missing. It turns out that something about the haphazardly organized chaos of LitenVärld makes it an especially likely place for wormholes to open up between dimensions — to the point where there are corporate instructions (on VHS) on what to do when that happens. But corporations being what they are, the in-house division for wormhole-patrol was cut a decade ago as a cost-saving measure, so it falls to the two most junior members of staff — barely able to speak to each other, the wound of their breakup still raw — to venture into the other worlds themselves and retrieve the lost grandmother.
I tore through this book in knuckle-biting delight. The contrast between the wacky extra-dimensional (and often terrifying) hijinks and LitenVärld’s soul-depleting mundanity is fresh and lovely, and you’re never quite able to forget the fact that person-eating chairs and blood-drinking Hive Mothers are more enjoyable to spend time with than the grinding misery of minimum-wage work in our late capitalist modernity. But the shenanigans are not the point; they function best as a sly, winking backdrop to the deeply moving character work.
Of the Universal classic monsters — Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, et al. — The Invisible Man is by far the most destructive, the most psychotic, and, not coincidentally, the most recognizably human of them all. (As played by Claude Rains, he’s also the wittiest.) When a man doesn’t have to look at himself in the mirror, he divorces himself from the moral accountability that curbs his worst instincts. Arrogance and contempt are his defining character traits, and invisibility has the effect of weaponizing them, because his scientific genius has both isolated him from other people and heightened his superiority complex.
With his ingenious updating of The Invisible Man, writer-director Leigh Whannell changes perspective from the mad scientist to the terrified victim he’s stalking, which effectively turns the film into Gaslight with a horror twist. And with an actress of Elisabeth Moss’ caliber in the lead role, the film has a psychological realism that’s unusual for the genre, with Moss playing a woman who’s withstanding a form of domestic abuse that may have a supernatural component, but feels sickeningly familiar in many respects. Invisibility has the effect of elevating a person’s worst instincts, so it follows that the manipulation and torment she experiences is just a more extreme version of common behaviors.
…As Cecelia gets pushed to the brink of madness — as much by not be believed as being stalked — Whannell gives the suspense set pieces plenty of room to breathe and take on a paranoid flavor. Moss and the camera are co-conspirators in horror: She imagines Adrian watching her silently from some empty corner of a room and the camera seems to affirm her worst fears, suggesting a presence through odd angles and pans across the space. Where another actor might look foolish swatting and wrestling thin air, Moss sells it as part of the overall choreography between an immensely powerful, destructive husband and a wife struggling to leverage control over a desperate situation.
Physicist Freeman Dyson suggests that we start looking for life on the moons of Jupiter and out past Neptune, in the Kuiper belt and the Oort cloud. He talks about what such life would be like — and how we might find it.
And Axios Future Issue #2 carried this information about
Dyson never won a Nobel Prize for his work. He never even bothered to earn a PhD.
He achieved popular renown as a gifted scientific writer, publishing his final book in 2018 at the age of 95.
A dedicated contrarian, later in his career he came under fire for doubting the danger of human-made climate change.
The bottom line: Few scientists can be said to have played as important a role in the making of our present than Dyson — and even fewer could so brilliantly envision the future.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 29, 1952 — Tales Of Tomorrow first aired “The Children’s Room”. A secret Children’s Room at a college attracts the attention of intellectual advanced youths. A professor uncovers that his son and other children are mutants being groomed to assist an alien race in a distant part of the galaxy. It was written by Mel Goldberg by a story by Raymond F. Jones who you’ll know as the author of This Island Earth novel. It starred Claire Luce, Una O’Connor and John Boruff. You can see it here.
February 29, 2000— Episode three, “Crunchy Munchy” of The Strangerers would air. This SF comedy about two plant beings who assume human form on Earth to accomplish their mission. The series was by Rob Grant, the creator of Red Dwarf. It would last nine episodes and unsurprisingly ends on a cliffhanger as it was canceled. Jack Docherty and Mark Williams played Cadet Flynn and Cadet Niven. You can see this episode here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 29, 1920 — Arthur Franz. He played Dr. Stuart Kelston in the early Fifties Invaders from Mars. He was also Jim Barker in Flight to Mars, and, on a much lighter note, Tommy Nelson in Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet the Invisible Man. He’ll have six appearances on Science Fiction Theater in six roles, play a hideous monster in Monster on the Campus, and have one-offs on The Invaders, Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea, Land of The Giants, Mission: Impossible and The Six-Million Dollar Man. (Died 2006.)
Born February 29, 1928 — Joss Ackland, 92. A very long history of genre involvement starting with Ghost Ship, an early Fifties horror film. He’d soon after play Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and makes a stop on The Avengers. (I’m skipping over a lot of horror he did.) he’s Sapten in Royal Flash but I’ll bet you won’t consider that genre though Kage loved that scoundrel. He shows up in Brett’s Sherlock Holmes, and he he’s in a Jekyll and Hyde film in that time period as well. I think I’ll stop with him voicing Black Rabbit in the Watership Down film…
Born February 29, 1948 — Patricia A. McKillip, 72. If I was to recommend a short list of essential readings of her, I’d start with The Riddle-Master trilogy which is absolutely amazing, toss in the Cygnet series, and add in the linked novels of Winter Rose and Solstice. (The latter has the most cool stitching circle you’ll ever encounter.) For her tasty short stories, there’s Harrowing the Dragon, Wonders of the Invisible World and Dreams of Distant Shores.
Born February 29, 1948 — Yanti Somer, 72. Finnish-born actress who appeared in a spate of French and Italian genre films in the late Seventies: Star Odyssey, Battle of the Stars, War of the Robots and Cosmos: War of the Planets. She retired from acting in the early Eighties.
Born February 29, 1952 — Tim Powers, 68. He’s won the World Fantasy Award twice for Last Call and Declare, the latter of which I think is awesome. I’m also fond of The Anubis Gates and On Stranger Tides.
Born February 29, 1952 — Albert Welling, 68. He played Adolph Hitler in the Eleventh Doctor story, “ Let’s Kill Hitler”. It’s one of the stranger stories they told for that Doctor. He had one-offs on Tales of The Unexpected and Outlander.
Born February 29, 1984 — Rakhee Thakrar, 36. She also plays the Eighth Doctor’s companion, Bliss, in Big Finish’s Doctor Who: The Time War audio dramas. Have I ever noted that what I admire about the Whoverse is how expansive the the definition of accepted storytelling is? Big Finish has done hundreds of hours of new stories, all adding to the original mythos.
Scientists have detected evidence of a colossal explosion in space – five times bigger than anything observed before.
The huge release of energy is thought to have emanated from a supermassive black hole some 390 million light years from Earth.
The eruption is said to have left a giant dent in the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster.
Researchers reported their findings in The Astrophysical Journal.
“I’ve tried to put this explosion into human terms and it’s really, really difficult,” co-author Melanie Johnston-Hollitt told BBC News.
“The best I can do is tell you that if this explosion continued to occur over the 240 million years of the outburst – which it probably didn’t, but anyway – it’d be like setting off 20 billion, billion megaton TNT explosions every thousandth of a second for the entire 240 million years. So that’s incomprehensibly big. Huge.”
The WEHO TIMES reported the statute’s return today, capturing its image in a brief moment during installation before it was covered. An official unveiling is planned for the end of March, but no date has been set.
The spinning statue depicts Bullwinkle holding his friend Rocky. It stands on the corner where Sunset Boulevard splits into Holloway Drive. The statue was removed in 2013 for restoration work.
Today, a giant crane placed the 14-foot, 700-pound statue on its pedestal. The statue dates to 1961, but the original creator is not known. The statue was restored by Ric Scozzari with funding by Twentieth Century Fox and Dreamworks, and donated by the Jay Ward family for the City of West Hollywood’s Urban Art Collection. It was last seen at the Paley Center’s Jay Ward Legacy Exhibit in 2014.
There is a rising din in the oceans – and whales are having to struggle to compete with it.
“They’re spending more time or energy trying to communicate… by essentially screaming at each other – what we would have to do at a nightclub,” explains says Mark Jessopp at University College Cork.
Dr Jessopp was recently involved in a research project to study the effects of marine seismic surveys on animals such as whales and dolphins.
He and his colleagues found a “huge decrease” in sightings of such species when the work was going on, even when accounting for other factors such as weather.
Seismic surveys are carried out by a range of organisations, including oil and gas companies, as a means of mapping what lies beneath the seafloor.
Shockwaves fired from an air gun – like a very powerful speaker – are blasted down towards the seabed. The waves bounce off features below and are detected again at the surface. The signal that returns reveals whether there is, for instance, oil locked in the rock beneath.
The process creates a tremendous racket. “It’s like an explosion,” says Lindy Weilgart at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. She says that there is now plenty of evidence to show that many marine animals are negatively affected by the clamour.
…And yet a technology exists that could be far less harmful. It is called marine vibroseis and is a low-energy alternative to air guns. Instead of explosive blasts, vibroseis uses smaller vibrations to transmit waves down to the seabed. It actually emits a similar amount of energy overall but spreads it over a longer period, meaning the survey has a less “shocking” impact.
The “appropriateness” of Google’s sister company’s plan for a “digital city” in Toronto has been questioned.
A panel set up to scrutinise Sidewalk Labs’s plan has asked it to explain what the benefits would be for citizens in collecting large amounts of data.
The company wants to build a sensor-laden, eco-friendly neighbourhood with all the latest technology innovations.
But it has faced opposition locally. A final decision on whether it can proceed is due next month.
Sidewalk Labs’s plans for a “city… built from the internet up” include sensors to monitor traffic, noise, weather, energy use and even rubbish collection.
But now, the Waterfront Toronto’s digital strategy advisory panel has questioned the “appropriateness and necessity” of some of its innovations and asked whether “sufficient benefits had been identified to justify the proposed collection or use of data”.
Amazon has banned more than one million products which claim to protect against the coronavirus – or even cure it.
The online retailer told Reuters it had also removed “tens of thousands” of overpriced health products from unscrupulous sellers.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) expressed concern about some misleading Amazon listings earlier this month, including fake treatments.
The virus, which causes Covid-19, has killed about 2,800 people worldwide.
The WHO said fake coronavirus claims online were causing mass confusion, and urged tech giants to combat the spread of misinformation.
A search for “coronavirus” on Amazon brought up results for face masks, disinfectant wipes and newly-published books on viral infections, revealing how some sellers are cashing in on the health crisis.
It also offered results for vitamin C boosters – a fake cure for the virus that has been widely disseminated online.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Charles M. Schulz Interview on Peanuts (1997)” on YouTube is an interview Charles Schulz did on The Charlie Rose Show.
[Thanks to Christian Brunschen, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Tolan, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew. Will this be the first time the title is longer than the Scroll?]
Ashley Boone Jr., the first black president of a major Hollywood studio, helped make George Lucas’ quirky space opera a hit in the 1970’s — yet chances are you’ve never heard of him: “He was way ahead of his time.”
When thousands gathered Dec. 16 in Hollywood for the world premiere of Star Wars:The Rise of Skywalker — supposedly the last Skywalker film — they heard Bob Iger, Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams thank everyone from creator George Lucas to the actor who played R2-D2. But one name was not so much as whispered, despite this person’s critical 1970s role in launching what would become the most successful movie franchise of all time: the all-but-forgotten Ashley Boone Jr….
(2) WHERE TO LOOK FOR MIDDLE-EARTH. The Worlds of J. R.
R. Tolkien: The Places That Inspired
Middle-earth by John Garth, “an illustrated look at the
locales familiar to J. R. R. Tolkien, the creator of Middle-earth,” will be
released by Princeton University Press on June 2.
Garth identifies the locales that served as the basis for Hobbiton, the elven valley of Rivendell, the Glittering Caves of Helm’s Deep, and many other settings in Middle-earth, from mountains and forests to rivers, lakes, and shorelands. He reveals the rich interplay between Tolkien’s personal travels, his wide reading, and his deep scholarship as an Oxford don. Garth draws on his profound knowledge of Tolkien’s life and work to shed light on the extraordinary processes of invention behind Tolkien’s works of fantasy. He also debunks popular misconceptions about the inspirations for Middle-earth and puts forward strong new claims of his own.
(3) BRADBURY ON STAGE. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Ray Bradbury’s
birth, Caltech Theater celebrates the prolific science fiction writer by
producing a series of his one-acts and adapted stories: Bradbury 100. (Ticket
prices at the link.)
The creative team of Bradbury 100 is drawn from Caltech undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, Caltech community and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), to celebrate the legacy of Bradbury and his connection with Caltech that began over fifty years ago.
FIRST WEEKEND Friday & Saturday, February 21 & 22 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 23 at 2:30 p.m.
All Summer in a Day. directed by Aditi Seetharaman Marionettes, Inc., directed by Barbie Insua The Martian Chronicles, directed by Brian White
SECOND WEEKEND Friday & Saturday, February 28 & 29 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 1 at 2:30 p.m.
The Flying Machine (in Mandarin w/English subtitles), directed by Miranda Stewart A Sound of Thunder, directed by Doug Smith The Martian Chronicles, directed by Brian White
On Friday night of the second weekend (2/28/20) H/SS Professor Chip Sebens will discuss Bradbury’s science fiction and the paradoxes of time travel and on Saturday night (2/29/20) one of Ray’s daughters Ramona Bradbury and her two daughters Claire and Julia Handleman will make appearances on stage to share personal stories of their father and grandfather.
(4) CALIFORNIA HERE YOU GO. Isaac Butler interviews Kim Stanley Robinson about science fiction, utopia, and the reissue of his Three Californias trilogy in “Three Californias, Infinite Futures” at Slate.
So it’s a few years later, you’re writing The Wild Shore, the first in the trilogy—do you remember how you worked out the post–nuclear apocalypse world of it?
I went back into the history of science fiction and read other after-the-fall novels: Earth Abides by George Stewart, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller, a couple of Philip K. Dick—especially Dr. Bloodmoney. I also got to study with the California poet Gary Snyder at UC–Davis. In terms of these Three California novels, Snyder is as important as anybody in terms of my teachers, because he was the one that established what a California writer ought to be doing: facing Eastern Asia, getting interested in Buddhism, kind of getting rid of the European influences. I began thinking of myself as a poet in the Snyder tradition before I discovered the science fiction. That was always underlying every sentence.
(5) BCS STAYS ABOVE EVENT HORIZON. Beneath Ceaseless
Skies met its goal of attracting enough Patreon support to keep their pay rate for short stories at 8c/word,
which is the new higher SFWA “pro” pay rate. BCS was able to
institute the new rate when it went into effect last September, but there had since
been some contraction in their Patreon support. BCS is now back on
The merge lets us analyze the Locus list to see which stories that were broadly recognized as outstanding were left out, which publications stood out, which authors did particularly well (or not), how many were eligible for the Astounding Award, and how RSR‘s own recommendations stack up with Locus reviewers in general.
Eric Wong adds, “As with all RSR lists, you can flag
and rate stories on the page, see the recommendations earned by each story
(reviewer, award, year’s best anthology), get links to the story, author, and
other reviews (if online), and group stories by length (default), publication
(7) FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION.Asimov’s and Analog have
made the short fiction on the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2019
available as free reads – in PDF files linked from the Locus list. That’s
seven stories altogether. [Via Rocket Stack Rank.]
[The] rift between Russ and Le Guin was a different sort of disagreement. Even before the symposium, the two writers had begun to distinguish themselves from each other, though Russ seems to have been more invested in these differences than Le Guin was. In public, Russ had written a harsh review of Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed,” characterizing some of the book’s central conceits as “a fancy way of disguising what we already know” and its anarchist society as poorly realized. Privately, to mutual friends, Russ accused Le Guin of being accommodating to men, of refusing to write as a woman. In some ways, Le Guin conceded the argument—she claimed to write under the influence of her male “animus”—but in other ways she resisted. After all, wasn’t her freedom not to write “as a woman” precisely the point?
At stake in this disagreement was not simply the sorts of struggles that feminists have always had with one another. There was also a question of what science fiction was for and what it should ultimately do. For Russ and Le Guin both, science fiction represented the possibility of telling a genuinely new story. Science fiction, Russ once wrote, was poised to “provide myths for dealing with kinds of experiences we are actually having now, instead of the literary myths we have inherited, which only tell us about the kinds of experiences we think we ought to be having.” The form aspired not to fantasy but to reality.
The search for that reality led Russ and Le Guin in different directions, and, though the latter has become, in the years since, the face of women in speculative fiction, it would be a mistake to regard Russ as overshadowed.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 6, 1974 — Zardoz premiered. Starring Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling and Sara Kestelman. It was written, produced, and directed by John Boorman. It was made on a shoestring budget of one point six million and made one point eight million at the Box Office. Critics praised its special effects but thought both the acting and story fell rather flat. It holds a 50% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 6, 1922 — Patrick Macnee. He was best known as the secret agent John Steed in The Avengers, a tole he reprised in the New Avengers. He made his genre debut as Young Jacob Marley in Scrooge. He then starred as Derek Longbow in Incense for the Damned (also released as Bloodsuckers, Freedom Seeker Incense for the Damned and Bloodsuckers, Freedom Seeker and Doctors Wear Scarlet). Next up is an uncredited role voicing Imperious Leader on the original Battlestar Galactica. He played Captain John Good R.N. in King Solomon’s Treasure based rather loosely on the H. Rider Haggard source material. What else? Let’s see… he shows up in The Howling as Dr. George Waggner, as Dr. stark in a film as alternative title is, I kid you not, Naked Space and Spaceship. It’s a parody apparently of Alien. Next up for him is another toff named Sir Wilfred in Waxwork and its sequel. Yes, he wears a suit rather nicely. At least being Professor Plocostomos in Lobster Man from Mars is an open farce. His last film work was genre as well, The Low Budget Time Machine, in which he started as Dr. Bernard. (Died 2015.)
Born February 6, 1927 — Zsa Zsa Gabor. Her first venture into SF was the Fifties very camp Queen of Outer Space which she followed up by being in Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie. She had a cameo in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. She’s Erika Tiffany Smith on Gilligan’s Island, and Minerva on Batman. One of her last appearances was as herself on The Munsters Today as she retired from acting in late Nineties. (Died 2016.)
Born February 6, 1931 — Mamie Van Doren, 89. She made but two SF films, the first being The Navy vs. the Night Monsters (a.k.a. Monsters of the Night and The Night Crawlers), and the second being Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women.
Born February 6, 1932 — Rip Torn. First genre work that comes to mind is of course RoboCop 3 and his Men in Black films. His first dip into our world comes as Dr. Nathan Bryce in The Man Who Fell to Earth. Yeah that film. Actually, if you count Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he’s been a member of our community since his twenties. He also shows up on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Died 2019.)
Born February 6, 1943 — Gayle Hunnicutt, 77. I’m giving her Birthday Honors as she was Irene Adler, opposite Jeremy Brett, in the first episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, “A Scandal in Bohemia”. She also shows up in The Martian Chronicles, The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Legend of Hell House, Fantômas (a French series) and Tales of The Unexpected.
Born February 6, 1943 — Fabian, 77. Bill Dexter in Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (which the Italians got boring by naming it Le spie vengono dal semifreddo, literally “The spies who came in from the cool”.) He doesn’t have much of a genre resume appearing only once on Fantasy Island, plus being in Kiss Daddy Goodbye. The latter would be shown on Movie Macabre, Elvira’s early Eighties movie show.
Born February 6, 1947 — Eric Flint, 73. Definitely a Good Guy for both being on Baen Books and fighting against the Sad Puppies who thought he’d be on their side because he was, well, on Baen Books. They really should’ve looked at his work history. Now fiction-wise, I really like his Assiti Shards series, and the Heirs of Alexandria as well.
Born February 6, 1958 — Cecily Adams. She played Ishka (aka Moogie), mother of the Ferengi brothers Rom and Quark, in four of her five appearances on Deep Space Nine. (Andrea Martin played her the first time.) Most of her genre experience was in such concerns as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Flash Forward, Lost on Earth, Bone Chillers and 3rd Rock from The Sun. (Died 2004.)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump tells us why we don’t know about Pinocchio’s brother.
After ending 2019 with a magical Harry Potter Christmas pop-up, Chicago’s Replay Lincoln Park bar is back with another franchise theme targeting a devout fanbase. Last weekend, the space transformed into a Lord of The Rings wonderland, …and it has everything from meals named after Frodo to photo opps with a Ring Wraith and the Balrog…
To fuel your quest, Replay has once again partnered with Zizi’s Cafe, a local restaurant, to create a LOTR-inspired menu. Think Gandalf’s Corn Staff (aka, two corndogs), Pippin’s Popcorn, Beef Lembas, Frodo’s Dolma, Fried Po-Tay-Toes, and Lord of the Wings—plus, the Onion Ring to Rule Them All, if you’re not prone to the ring’s temptations.
“The Monster Maker” by Ray Bradbury is a science fiction short story, which appeared in the spring 1944 issue of Planet Stories and is therefore eligible for the 1945 Retro Hugos. The story may be found here….
Warning: There will be spoilers in the following!
(16) RIVERDALE EPISODE RECAP: BEWARE SPOILERS. [Item by
Martin Morse Wooster.] I saw Riverdale last night and thought Filers would
like to get up to speed on what’s happening with Archie and the gang.
We learned that Archie’s uncle, Frank, was a mercenary who had other mercenaries chasing him. One of the mercenaries fights Archie in a high school men’s room and throws Archie into a sink which is smashed. The rogue mercenary is captured shortly thereafter.
Jughead is in a chess death match with the president of the Quill and Skulls fraternity. In the middle of the match action is stopped because an alarm goes off at the fraternity. The fraternity president finds that Betty and a friend have discovered a secret trove of VHS sex tapes which the fraternity compiled for use against the frat’s many enemies. The chess match resumes, but soon ends when Jughead deliberately causes a checkmate and I’m not sure why.
Veronica and her friend Katy Keene decide to go out, and Veronica asks her friend, ‘Do you like drag?’
Seismologist Wenyuan Fan explains the accidental discovery — buried deep in seismic and meteorological data — that certain storms over ocean water can cause measurable seismic activity, or ‘stormquakes.’ He says this phenomenon could help scientists better understand the earth below the sea.
The original paper Wenyuan co-authored on stormquakes
…As Wenyuan and his colleagues outlined in their paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, stormquakes all come down to waves.
FAN: Because when you have large storms, it will couple with the ocean and make high waves.
FAN: And by doing the cross-examination of the ocean waves and the seismicity, we start to see a clear correlation between the occurrence of stormquakes and also the high-wave conditions.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Dinosaurs In Love” on Vimeo is a song by Fenn Rosenthal about
what happens to dinosaurs when they fall in love.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Castro, Eric Wong, Mike Kennedy, Nina, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, N., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
The Wall Street Journalreported Tuesday that members of Manhattan’s Community Board 5 are objecting to parts of the plan from Warner Bros. to open a Harry Potter–themed exhibit and store in a landmarked building in the Flatiron District. The studio has proposed opening a roughly 20,000-square-foot store called Wizarding World at 935 Broadway, the former home of upscale furniture brand Restoration Hardware.
Crain’s first reported in September that Warner Bros. had reached a deal with the building’s landlord, Shefa Land Corp., for the store.
Design firm Studio Superette unveiled plans for the store at the hearing Tuesday. The design calls for adding a fiberglass dragon with a clock, two backlit Harry Potter signs and six flagpoles, designed to look like wands, to the building’s facade, the Journal reported.
The changes require approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which refers such requests to community boards for a recommendation before making a decision.
Members of the community board’s landmarks committee said the design ideas represent “inappropriate signage,” according to the Journal, and voted unanimously to recommend against approval.
The full community board will vote on the proposal later this month before sending its recommendation to the city landmarks commission, according to the report.
(2) A SHOCK. Steve Stiles, one of fandom’s all-time most
popular artists, revealed
sad news on Facebook saying, “So the word is: I’ve got a few months, more
I was going to write a rant about how writers should be supportive of each other.
Then I realized …
I’m naive. ….
(5) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen
Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw on Wednesday,
January 15, 7:00 p.m.at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York).
Richard Kadrey is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim dark urban fantasy series. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime,” and is in production as a feature film. Some of Kadrey’s other books include The Grand Dark, The Everything Box, Hollywood Dead, and Butcher Bird. In comics, he’s written for Heavy Metal, Lucifer, and Hellblazer. He’s currently partnered with Winterlight Productions for his original horror screenplay, Dark West.
Cassandra Khaw is a scriptwriter at Ubisoft Montreal. Her fiction has been nominated for the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award, and her game writing has won a German Game Award. You can find her short stories in places like F&SF, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. Her novella Nothing But Blackened Teeth is coming out from Nightfire, the new Tor horror imprint in 2021.
January 8, 1958 — Teenage Monster premiered and you can see the trailer here. It was produced and directed by Jacques R. Marquette, and starred Anne Gwynne (who was a scream queen in the Forties but past her prime now) and Stuart Wade. It played as double bill with The Brain from Planet Arous which is a story unto Itself.If you saw it on television, It was called Meteor Monster. We can find reviews of it at the time (not unusual) and It has no ratings at Rotten Tomatoes. The Fifties is littered with similar films.
January 8, 1967 — It’s About Time aired “To Catch A Thief.” It’s here today because we’ve never heard of this series before. It was created by Sherwood Schwartz, and used sets, props and the music bits from his other television series shooting at the time, Gilligan’s Island. Its cast was Frank Aletter, Jack Mullaney, Imogene Coca, Joe E. Ross, Cliff Norton and Mike Mazurki. It lasted but one season and twenty six episodes, considerably shorter than his other show did. This futuristic spaceman meet cavemen comedy bombed in the ratings after the first few episodes.
January 8, 2006 – The BBC’s Hyperdrive enjoyed its premiere. The series was written by Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley, directed by John Henderson and produced by Alex Walsh-Taylor. The cast was Nick Frost, Kevin Eldon, Miranda Hart, Stephen Evans, Dan Antopolski and Petra Massey. BBC ran it for two seasons and twelve episode. It’s a comedy with a decidedly scatological and crude sexual bent.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 8, 1908 — William Hartnell. The very first Doctor who first appeared when Doctor Who firstaired on November 23, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years leaving when a new showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.)
Born January 8, 1925 — Steve Holland. Did you know there was a short lived Flash Gordon series, thirty-one episodes in 1954 – 1955 to be precise? I didn’t until I discovered the Birthday for the lead in this show today. Except for four minor roles, this was his entire tv career. Biography in “Flash Gordon: Journey to Greatness” would devote an entire show to him and this series. And yes you can see him here as Flash Gordon. (Died 1997.)
Born January 8, 1941 — Boris Vallejo, 79. Illustrator whose artwork has appeared on myriad genre publications. Subjects of his paintings were gods, hideous monsters, well-muscled male swordsmen and scantily clad females. Early illustrations of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Doc Savage established him as an illustrator.
Born January 8, 1942 — Stephen Hawking. Y’all know who he is, but did you know that Nimoy was responsible for his appearance as a holographic representation of himself in the “Descent” episode? He also guest starred in Futurama and had a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory. Just before his death, he was the voice of The Book on the new version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. (Died 2018.)
Born January 8, 1947 — David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He next shows up in The Hunger, an erotic and kinky film worth seeing. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python could have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI AgentPhillip Jeffries, which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series. He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel. Ok, what did I am leaving y’all to mention? (Died 2016.)
Born January 8, 1956 — Jack Womack, 64. Ok, I was trying to remember what I’d read by him. I realized it was his excellent Ambient novel when it first came out and that I hadn’t kept up with his later writings. So what do y’all think of his later novels? I know, he stopped witting essentially a generation ago except for his Flying Saucers Are Real! non-fiction release. Non-fiction?
Born January 8, 1977 — Amber Benson, 43. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a Sci-fi Channel film called Gryphon, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters. She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too.
Born January 8, 1979 — Sarah Polley, 41. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh, she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The Movie, Existenz, No Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the Dead, Beowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range jokes about studying fantastic beasts in Oz.
…Cogo Guebara rushed over to the motorized police officer and pushed its emergency alert button on seeing the brawl break out in Salt Lake Park, Los Angeles, last month. But instead of offering assistance, the egg-shaped robot, whose official name is HP RoboCop, barked at Guebara to ‘Step out of the way’. To add insult to injury, the high-tech device then rolled away while humming an ‘intergalactic tune’, pausing periodically to say ‘Please keep the park clean.’
The explanation turned out to be disgustingly simple:
Local Police Chief Cosme Lozano says the robots, which cost between $60,000 and $70,000 a year to lease, are still in a trial phase and that their alert buttons have not yet been activated.
It’s one of the more remarkable specimens taken into London’s Natural History Museum. It’s certainly one of the most “fantastic”.
The horn comes from an Erumpent, a fictional beast created in the mind of author JK Rowling.
It’s going to feature in a major new exhibition at the South Kensington institution this spring, in which the extraordinary creatures of the Harry Potter universe are used to shine a light on some of the “magical” animals that exist in the real world.
The NHM is describing the show as its most ambitious to date.
…The exhibition will put 50 specimens from the museum’s world famous collections next to props from the Potter movies. Interactive displays will compare and contrast different animals.
“You’ll recall the Erumpent’s mating dance from Fantastic Beasts. We’ll be making comparisons with the peacock spider, which has its own extraordinary movements that it uses to attract a mate,” explained the NHM executive.
From the robots we know and love, to the robot in your pocket, explore the fascinating future of robots at work, at home and in the blurring boundaries between human and machine.
With new technological developments being made every day, it has never been more important to explore our relationships with robotics.
Explore the influence of robots through four galleries that draw you into a conversation with simple but thought-provoking questions.
Trace our fascination with the science and fiction of robots before delving into an evolving world of industry and work. Consider the role of robots as companions and helpers and explore what the future may hold as we find new ways to tackle social and environmental problems. Would you live in a robot? And can they make us better than nature intended?
Michael Thorn, Fox’s president of entertainment, shared his thoughts on the matter with The Wrap. “Any time we look at one of our classic titles, if there’s a way to reinvent it for today so it’s as resonant now as the original was, and is, to the fans, we’re wide open,” he said.
“I loved ‘Firefly,’ personally, and I watched every episode. I didn’t work on it, but I loved the show. It had come up before, but we had ‘The Orville’ on the air and it didn’t make sense for us to have, as a broadcast network who is very targeted, to have two space franchises on our air.”
The Orville now airs on Hulu, but [Firefly executive producer Tim Minnear] is allegedly currently tied up with a number of other projects.
Astronomers have discovered a vast structure in our galaxy, made up of many interconnected “nurseries” where stars are born.
The long, thin filament of gas is a whopping 9,000 light-years long and 400 light-years wide.
It lies around 500 light-years from our Sun, which is relatively close by in astronomical distances.
…An international team analysed data from the European Gaia space telescope, which was launched in 2013.
The monolithic structure has been dubbed the Radcliffe Wave, in honour of Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“What we’ve observed is the largest coherent gas structure we know of in the galaxy, organized not in a ring but in a massive, undulating filament,” said co-author Joao Alves, from the University of Vienna, Austria, and Harvard.
…Co-author Prof Alyssa Goodman, from Harvard, commented: “We were completely shocked when we first realised how long and straight the Radcliffe Wave is, looking down on it from above in 3D.”
‘Scenes in the Square’ is a new installation at London’s Leicester Square next month that will include eight dynamic statues – which means they will be integrated into the existing landscape of the Square, rather than actually move or anything. Regarded as the home of cinema in Britain, Leicester Square has had a statue of Charlie Chaplin for many years. From February 27th, he will be joined by statues of Laurel and Hardy, Bugs Bunny, Gene Kelly, Mary Poppins, Batman, Mr Bean, Paddington and Wonder Woman, sculpted by David Field.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock,
Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Hampus Eckerman, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit goes o File 770 contributing editor of the day rgl.]
“An Astounding 90 Years of Analog Science Fiction and Fact: The Fourth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium,” takes place on Thursday, December 12. Held in conjunction with City Tech College in Brooklyn, this daylong symposium is free and open to the public. It convenes at 285 Jay Street, Room A105 and runs from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The event will feature papers from distinguished academics, readings from Phoebe Barton, Leah Cypess, Alison Wilgus, Frank Wu, Jay Werkheiser, and a keynote speech from Michael Flynn. Stanley Schmidt, Trevor Quachri, and Emily Hockaday will also participate on an editorial panel. Copies of the official 90th anniversary issue will be given away. The full program for the day can be found here.
Tech will provide breakfast and lunch, so they ask interested parties to please
RSVP (even tentatively) for headcount. RSVP here.
He evolved his style over several issues of Moon Knight, then started putting it into comic book covers. Marvel offered him the chance to be the artist on X-Men — but he turned it down.
“Because, I told them, I want to do some experimentation. I want to just push and see what’s possible. So I don’t want to take Marvel’s flagship characters and drive them into the ditch,” Sienkiewicz said.
But he found a way in sideways. X-Men writer Chris Claremont came to him and asked if he wanted to work on X-Men spinoff New Mutants, and with more free range, he took the assignment as part of his quest to help change the perception of what comics are.
He used abstract expressionism, doing art that was more about the feeling than about being exactly true to reality. He describes his own work as being drawn well enough to look like what it’s supposed to, but that he’s more interested in what the people and the story feel like.
(2) PLAGIARIZED STORY? Pro-paying short story outlet Daily Science Fiction has published a story apparently plagiarized from another online source. Today’s story “No Time For Guilt Now” [Internet
Archive link] credited
to Abdullahi Lawal, is a copy of Avra Margariti’s “Ephemera” [Internet
Archive link] which ran in The Arcanist earlier
this year. (Wayback Machine links to the respective pages are provided in case
either original gets taken down.)
Several readers took notice in comments on DSF’s Facebook page. DSF has yet to respond either there or on its own website.
The Arcanist tweeted this reaction:
Update: Daily Science Fiction’s Jonathan Laden subsequently took down the story and posted this statement: “Apologies”.
A reader (and contributor) let us know that today’s story was evidently plagiarized from another story published by another site on the internet.
Sometimes a movie taps up a brand to design a shoe for a specific outfit and scene, which is how Reebok came to birth the Alien Stomper. A basic model of a basketball shoe provided the foundation for the sneaker that was worn by those operating the yellow Power Loader. A close-up reveals the Reebok logo in a moment of product placement. The sneaker saves Ripley in the climatic airlock sequence; which informed how the shoe was constructed, as designer Tuan Le explains — it needed to slip off with ease. On the 40th anniversary of Aliens, Reebok released a limited run of this iconic model.
The Fourth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium celebrates “An Astounding 90 Years of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.” Bringing together SF writers, scholars, and fans, the conversations today will reflect on the past, comment on the present, and contemplate the future of Analog SF. Linked to these discussions is the role of SF in a college of technology that recognizes the importance of the genre through its Science Fiction class and support for the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, an archival holding of over 600-linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and scholarship. Together, we will explore these connections.
(5) UNEXPECTED CONNECTION. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Ursula K. Le Guin is the only science fiction author that
is discussed in Harold Bloom’s last book,The American Canon: Literary Genius
from Emerson to Pynchon, which is a collection of essays about significant
authors in America. According to Max Rubin, president and publisher of the
Library of America, Le Guin and Bloom knew each other. “He “lived and breathed literature”—Library of America
remembers Harold Bloom, 1930–2019”.
“Poetry…was always more important to Bloom than prose. Later in life he came to a real appreciation for the poetry of Ursula K. Le Guin and enjoyed a friendship with her via email.”
…This may sound far-flung from our own reality, but as the opening credits tell us, the film is set in Los Angeles, November 2019. In that sense, Blade Runner is no longer science fiction. It’s a contemporary thriller. The question is: in the 37 years between Blade Runner’s release and its setting – our present – how close have we come to the future presented in the movie?
…However, beyond particular components, Blade Runner arguably gets something much more fundamental right, which is the world’s socio-political outlook in 2019 – and that isn’t particularly welcome, according to Michi Trota, who is a media critic and the non-fiction editor of the science-fiction periodical, Uncanny Magazine.
“It’s disappointing, to say the least, that what Blade Runner ‘predicted’ accurately is a dystopian landscape shaped by corporate influence and interests, mass industrialisation’s detrimental effect on the environment, the police state, and the whims of the rich and powerful resulting in chaos and violence, suffered by the socially marginalised.”
In the movie the replicants have a fail-safe programmed into them – a lifespan of just four years – to prevent a further revolution. Trota believes there is “something prescient in the replicants’ frustration and rage at their shortened lifespans, resulting from corporate greed and indifference, that’s echoed in the current state of US healthcare and globalised exploitation of workers.” She adds: “I’d have vastly preferred the flying cars instead.”
(7) JOIN SLF. The Speculative Literature Foundation has
a fundraiser for its operating needs, a reading series, and a major project
THE PORTOLAN PROJECT. We’ve set ourselves an ambitious goal for 2020 — to develop the Portolan Project, an open-source creative writing resource — sort of a Khan Academy for fiction.
We’ve begun interviewing masters of the field (including so far George R.R. Martin, Nalo Hopkinson, Kate Elliott), on aspects of craft. We’re building out a free website to host those interviews, along with syllabi, lesson plans, individual lectures and assignments on aspects of craft (plot and structure, language and style, setting and world building, etc.), the writing business, and the writers’ life.
We’re also interviewing emerging writers from across the planet, developing a better understanding of the international speculative fiction landscape, and the challenges and opportunities for writers in both independent and traditional publishing. We have academics helping us build a searchable database of speculative literature, to make it much easier to find stories that are relevant to you and your own work.
November 12, 1995 — The rebooted Invaders premiered on Fox. Directed by Paul Shapiro, it starred Scott Bakula, Elizabeth Peña, DeLane Matthews, Richard Thomas and Terence Knox. Invaders Roy Thinnes very briefly appeared as David Vincent. The two ninety minute episodes were intended as a pilot for a series that never happened.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 12, 1917 — Dahlov Ipcar. Though primarily an artist and you really should go visit her website, she wrote three amazing young adult novels between 1969 and 1978 which are The Warlock of Night, The Queen of Spells and A Dark Horn Blowing. She lived but thirty miles north of here and I was privileged to meet her a few times. Lovely lady! (Died 2017.)
Born November 12, 1922 — Kim Hunter. She portrayed the chimpanzee Zira in the Planet of the Apes films For the first three outings. Her first genre role was also her first film role, as Mary Gibson in the early Forties movie The Seventh Victim. She’s June in A Matter of Life and Death, and Amanda Hollins in The Kindred. She has one-offs on Project U.F.O., Night Gallery, Mission Impossible and even appeared on The Evil Touch, an Australian horror anthology series. (Died 2002.)
Born November 12, 1929 — Michael Ende. German author best known for The Neverending Story which is far better than the film. Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves is a charming if strange novel worth your time. The rest of his children’s literature has been translated from German into English mostly by small specialist presses down the years. Unlike TheNeverending Story and Momo, which I’ve encountered, I’ve not read any of these. (Died 1995.)
Born November 12, 1943 — Julie Ege. A Bond Girl On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as Helen, the Scandinavian girl. She also appeared in Hammer ‘s Creatures the World Forgot and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. And in The Mutations which got released under the alternative title of The Freakmaker. She had a role in De Dwaze Lotgevallen Von Sherlock Jones which got dubbed into English as The Crazy Adventures of Sherlock Jones. (Died 2008.)
Born November 12, 1943 — Wallace Shawn, 76. Probably best remembered as the Ferengi Grand Nagus Zek on Deep Space Nine, a role he only played seven times. He was also Vizzini in the beloved Princess Bride, and he played Dr. Elliott Coleye in the My Favorite Martian film.
Born November 12, 1945 — Michael Bishop, 74. David Pringle included his Who Made Stevie Crye? novel in Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1946-1987, high praise indeed. Though slightly dated feeling now, I’m fond of his Urban Nucleus of Atlanta series. And Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas is simply amazing.
Born November 12, 1952 — Max Grodénchik, 67. He’s best known for his role as Rom, a recurring character on Deep Space Nine. He has a long genre history with appearances in The Rocketeer, Here Come The Munsters, Rumpelstiltskin, Star Trek: Insurrection (scenes as a Trill were deleted alas), Tales from The Crypt, Sliders, Wienerland, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Bruce Almighty.
Born November 12, 1982 — Anne Hathaway, 37. She starred as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in The Dark Knight trilogy. More impressive she was The White Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass, and she was Agent 99 in the remake of Get Smart! No, not as good as the original but fun none-the-less.
(10) EUPHEMISMS FOR DOLLARS. The Publishers Lunch news
service shared an intriguing bit of intelligence with potential contributors.
A handy key to our Lunch deal categories. While all reports are always welcome, those that include a category will generally receive a higher listing when it comes time to put them all together.
One of our collections staff takes you through the process of lowering, disassembling, and transporting large artifacts like the Douglas DC-3. These artifact moves are part of the multi-year renovation project at the National Air and Space Museum in DC to transform the museum from the inside out.
The clip shows two different Vulcan-ear options for actor James Frain in his role as Spock’s father, Sarek. We also get a look at how Kelpien faces are made.
The clip comes from Creature Comforts: Season Two, a behind-the-scenes feature that takes fans into the design process behind the characters, from make-up to making molds. It includes a one-on-one discussion with makeup artist James McKinnon and Mary Chieffo (L’Rell).
The film’s original trailer dropped in April, and led to a deluge of mockery and fan backlash on social media for the way Sonic looked. The reaction was so negative it led to the film’s director Jeff Fowler announcing that his team would rethink Sonic’s design, all of which led to a three-month delay to the release date.
(14) TRAILER TIME. Pixar In Real Life
is a hidden-camera show on Disney+ that watches what happens when people meet
live versions of Pixar animated characters on the street.
…As a friend, I frequently break the first rule of fiction: I’m all tell, no show. I’m not going to remember your kid’s birthday, or even yours, despite Facebook’s helpful nudges. When you’re in a crisis, I won’t know the right questions to ask. I blame my Southern parents for placing so many topics in the forbidden zone. I grew up being told it was rude to discuss age, income, health, feelings. I often think that’s why I became a reporter.
I have a list in my head of all the friends I let down. It’s not long, but it’s longer than I’d like, and it’s probably longer than I know. Most of those friends have forgiven me, but I never lose sight of my failures. It’s like a stain on a busily-patterned rug; once you know where to look, your eye goes there every time. I know where to look. I am aware of my misdeeds. Every friend who has ever called me out on being a bad friend had me dead to rights.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe” on Vimeo is a surreal film about
a rationalist scientist who discovers religion in a surreal manner.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Edmund Schluessel, Rob Thornton,Andrew, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]