(1) CON CANCELLED. MediaWest*Con 40 will not be held – the pioneering
sf/media con in Lansing, MI declares it’s the “End
of an Era”. The con had been scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend in
…Sadly, despite our best efforts to increase membership to a sustainable level, advance memberships are at an all-time low and show no sign of improving. Even with repeating the function space downsizing we instituted last year, this year it does not appear we would make the minimum number of hotel reservations needed to avoid thousands in hotel penalties. Therefore, we have no choice but to cancel MW*C 40 and notify attendees so that they can cancel their travel and hotel reservations in a timely fashion.
We hope people will understand that this is not an easy decision for us, and that it does NOT mean MediaWest*Con is dead. Rather, it gives us time to consider how MW*C may continue in some form.
Obviously, the myriad causes are nothing new — the graying of fandom, dwindling interest in fanzine culture, technology that makes face-to-face meetings seem superfluous, ever increasing travel expense and inconvenience, and SF/Media going mainstream, to name but a few. All have contributed to declining membership and participation in suggesting panel topics, Fan Q nominations, etc.. Nor are many of these issues unique to us, as other cons have suffered as well with no solution in sight.
(2) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, 1632. Eric Flint posted a 20-year retrospective of 1632 and the
book series it proved to be a launching point for: “Tempus Fugit”.
…I’ve lost track of how many authors have been involved in the Ring of Fire universe, and how many words have been written in the series. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 authors, and we’re now well beyond 10,000,000 words—of which at least 5,000,000 have been produced in paper as well as electronic format. To put that in perspective, that’s more than twenty times as long as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and sixteen times as long as Tolstoy’s War and Peace. And—wait for it! wait for it!—it’s now much longer than the Bible. (Which comes in at 783,137 words, in the King James edition.)
There are now at least two million copies of the 1632 series books in print. And—this is where grubby scribblers chortle with glee—the royalties earned by the authors have just gone over the $2,000,000 mark. Yay for us!
Literary Hub is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the fourth annual Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize, which awards $1,000 to an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman, aged 30 or younger, who lives in the United States.
According to the guidelines, “the winning collection must have been started by the contestant, and all items in the collection must be owned by her. A collection may include books, manuscripts, and ephemera; it may be organized by theme, author, illustrator, publisher, printing technique, binding style, or another clearly articulated principle. The winning collection will be more than a reading list of favorite texts: it will be a coherent group of printed or manuscript items, creatively put together. Collections will not be judged on their size or their market value, but on their originality and their success in illuminating their chosen subjects.”
…The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2020. You can see the full requirements and apply here. The winner will be announced in September. The prize is sponsored this year by Biblio, Swann Galleries, and Ellen A. Michelson.
Again, we have a strong ballot in this category. G.V. Anderson is certainly one of the best short fiction writers to have emerged in recent years. Her novelette “A Strange Uncertain Light” is also the only Nebula finalist to have originated in the print magazines. “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carroll is a lovely little story and I’m happy that it made the ballot. Sarah Pinsker and Caroline M. Yoachim are both excellent writers of short fiction, though I haven’t read these particular stories. I also must have missed “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” by Mimi Mondal, even though I usually read the Tor.com stories. However, I have enjoyed other stories by Mimi Mondal that I read. Finally, I’m very happy to see Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo on the Nebula ballot and not just because we featured it at the Speculative Fiction Showcase last year. This is the first Nebula finalist we’ve featured at the Speculative Fiction Showcase, by the way, though we have featured finalists and even winners of the Bram Stoker and Sir Julius Vogel Awards.
Diversity count: Six women, two international writers, two writers of colour
Science fiction has struggled to achieve the same credibility as highbrow literature. In 2019, the celebrated author Ian McEwan dismissed science fiction as the stuff of “anti-gravity boots” rather than “human dilemmas”. According to McEwan, his own book about intelligent robots, Machines Like Me, provided the latter by examining the ethics of artificial life – as if this were not a staple of science fiction from Isaac Asimov’s robot stories of the 1940s and 1950s to TV series such as Humans (2015-2018).
Psychology has often supported this dismissal of the genre. The most recent psychological accusation against science fiction is the “great fantasy migration hypothesis”. This supposes that the real world of unemployment and debt is too disappointing for a generation of entitled narcissists. They consequently migrate to a land of make-believe where they can live out their grandiose fantasies.
The authors of a 2015 study stress that, while they have found evidence to confirm this hypothesis, such psychological profiling of “geeks” is not intended to be stigmatizing. Fantasy migration is “adaptive” – dressing up as Princess Leia or Darth Vader makes science fiction fans happy and keeps them out of trouble.
But, while psychology may not exactly diagnose fans as mentally ill, the insinuation remains – science fiction evades, rather than confronts, disappointment with the real world….
Whatever happened to that girl? You know the one I mean: long hair, old-fashioned dress, with a dark, looming house in the distance and a look of anxiety on her face. She’s most often running from said dark house.
The girl from the Gothic novels.
I’m talking about the mid-20th century Gothic novels, not the original crop of Gothic books, like The Castle of Otranto or The Mysteries of Udolpho. No, it’s that second wave of Gothics—termed Gothic romances—that were released in the 1960s in paperback form that I’m referring to. This was a category dominated by authors such as Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney, and their covers fixed in the minds of a couple of generations what ‘Gothic’ meant….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 20, 1955 — Tarantula premiered. It was produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold. It stars John Agar, Mara Corday, and Leo G. Carroll. The screenplay by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley was based on a story by Arnold, which was in turn was based on by Fresco’s script for the Science Fiction Theatre “No Food for Thought” episode which was also directed by Arnold. It was a box office success earning more than a million dollars in its first month of release. Critics at the time liked it and even current audiences at Rotten Tomatoes gives at a sterling 92% rating. You can watch it here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 20, 1906 — Theodore Roscoe. A mere tasting of his pulp stories, The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh, which are sort of based of a member of the French Foreign Legion, and was published by Donald M. Grant. The complete stories, The Complete Adventures of Thibaut Corday and the Foreign Legion, are available digitally in four volumes on Kindle. The Wonderful Lips of Thibong Linh only contains four of these stories. (Died 1992.)
Born February 20, 1912 — Pierre Boulle. Best known for just two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes. The latter was La planète des singes in French, translated in 1964 as Monkey Planet by Xan Fielding, and later re-issued under the name we know. (Died 1994.)
Born February 20, 1925 — Robert Altman. I’m going to argue that his very first film in 1947, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based off the James Thurber short story of the same name, is genre given its premise. Some twenty-five years later Images was a full blown horror film. And, of course, Popeye is pure comic literature at its very best. (Died 2006.)
Born February 20, 1926 — Richard Matheson. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.)
Born February 20, 1943 — Diana Paxson, 77. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well she is. Genre wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which she first co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley, then – after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship of. All of her novels are heavily colored with paganism — sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material.
Born February 20, 1954 — Anthony Head, 66. Perhaps best known as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He also shows up in Repo! The Genetic Opera as Nathan Wallace aka the Repo Man, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as Benedict, and in the awesomely great Batman: Gotham by Gaslight voicing Alfred Pennyworth.
Born February 20, 1964 — Rodney Rowland, 56. His best remembered roles to date are 1st Lieutenant Cooper Hawkes in Space: Above and Beyond and P. Wiley in The 6th Day. He’s also Corey Mahoney in Soulkeeper, a Sci Fi Pictures film that frankly sounds horrid. He’s got one-offs in X-Files, Welcome to Paradox, Dark Angel, Seven Days, Angel, Charmed and Twin Peaks.
Born February 20, 1967 — Lili Taylor, 53. Her most recent role was as Captain Sandra Maldonado in the short lived Almost Human series, with her first genre role being in The Haunting off Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.
(11) ARE WE STILL ALLOWED TO LAUGH? Art Spiegelman reviews SCREWBALL!:
The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny by Paul C. Tumey, and a museum
exhibition of Rube Goldberg’s art, in “Foolish
Questions” at the New York Review of Books.
…Now that comics have put on long pants and started to strut around with the grownups by calling themselves graphic novels, it’s important to remember that comics have their roots in subversive joy and nonsense. For the first time in the history of the form, comics are beginning to have a history. Attractively designed collections of Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, Thimble Theater, Barnaby, Pogo, Peanuts, and so many more—all with intelligent historical appreciations—are finding their way into libraries.
Paul Tumey, the comics historian who co-edited The Art of Rube Goldberg book seven years ago, has recently put together a fascinating and eccentric addition to the expanding shelves of comics history.3 The future of comics is in the past, and Tumey does a heroic job of casting a fresh light on the hidden corners of that past in Screwball!: The Cartoonists Who Made the Funnies Funny. It’s a lavish picture book with over six hundred comics, drawings, and photos, many of which haven’t been seen since their twenty-four-hour life-spans in newspapers around a century ago. The book is a collection of well-researched short biographies of fifteen artists from the first half of the twentieth century, accompanied by generous helpings of their idiosyncratic cartoons. Goldberg—whose name schoolchildren learn when their STEM studies bump into chain reactions—is the perfect front man to beckon you toward the other less celebrated newspaper cartoonists who worked in the screwball vein that Tumey explores.
The Force is strong with Hasbro’s new animatronic Baby Yoda toy.
The actual-sized figure of The Mandalorian‘s The Child comes to life with animatronic motions and sounds taken directly from the hit Disney+ series. Arriving in Fall 2020, this lifelike recreation of The Asset will retail for $59.99 and is intended for ages four and up. He also comes with the Mandalorian’s pendant, as given to him by his mentor Din Djarin.
US customs officers made an unusual discovery when they carried out a spot check on a Canadian mail truck – a human brain inside a jar.
The brain was found at the Blue Water Bridge crossing, between Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, on 14 February, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said.
It was inside a shipment labelled “Antique Teaching Specimen”.
The shipment originated in Toronto and was destined for Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Upon opening the shipment, CBP officers found the package to contain a human brain specimen inside of a clear glass mason jar without any paperwork or documentation in support of its lawful entry into the United States,” the agency said in a statement.
In case you missed it, the end is nigh. Ever since Jared Diamond published his hugely popular 2005 work Collapse, books on the same theme have been arriving with the frequency of palace coups in the late Roman Empire. Clearly, their authors are responding to a universal preoccupation with climate change, as well as to growing financial and political instability and a sense that civilization is lurching towards a cliff edge. Mention is also made of how big-data tools are shedding new light on historical questions. But do these books have anything useful to share?
The upside of societal collapse is that while it
may be the end of the world for them, it can help with innovation and renewal,
if not there then elsewhere. Also, even if the end of the world cannot be
prevented, learning from past societal collapses may help us soften the
A SCIENCE REPORTER. Andrew Porter advises “Print it out, put it in your wallet! (Put your own
name over the one that’s there.)” Was this what he used to get in and
cover events for SF Chronicle?
Rita Ebel, 62, has come up with a novel way of helping wheelchair users like herself enjoy their shopping experiences in the western German town of Hanau.
Rita, who has been using a wheelchair since a serious car accident 25 years ago, has been building ramps from Lego and distributing them around town.
(17) SCIENTISTS GRASP THE OBVIOUS. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Horror films make you scared. It’s official. Shock, horror, drama, probe!!!! Psychologists in Finland used functional magnetic resonance imaging on 37 subjects watching horror films to see their ‘hemodynamic brain activity’, which is a psychologist’s poncy way of what we biologists call ‘blood flow’. (Why use two words when you can use three longer ones). Different parts of the brain were stimulated when another group was shown non-horror films. Or in the psychologists’ words: “[Their] main finding was that acute fear elicited consistent activity in a distributed set of cortical, limbic, and cerebellar regions, most notably the prefrontal cortex, paracentral lobule, amygdala, cingulate cortex, insula, PAG, parrahippocampus, and thalamus.”
…Here we studied the brain basis of sustained and acute fear using naturalistic functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) enabling analysis of different time-scales of fear responses. Subjects (N ?= ?37) watched feature-length horror movies while their hemodynamic brain activity was measured with fMRI….
…Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony said Wednesday that it will not participate in next week’s PAX East gaming exposition at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, out of concern about the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
Sony announced its decision in a post on its PlayStation blog:
“Today, Sony Interactive Entertainment made the decision to cancel its participation at PAX East in Boston this year due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”). We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily. We are disappointed to cancel our participation in this event, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern.”
In response, PAX East organizers vowed that the show would go on, but with extra precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are working closely with the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and following local, state, and federal public health guidelines,” the organizers said on the PAX website. “While we are saddened that Sony will no longer have a presence at PAX East 2020, we look forward to welcoming our friends at Sony to future PAX events and are focused on making PAX East 2020 a successful and enjoyable event for all attendees and exhibitors.”
A new deepfake puts Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the pilot episode of the original Star Trek, “The Cage” — and I kind of love it. In this particular AI-powered face swap, Bezos plays a Talosian alien with a huge bald head, while Musk plays Captain Christopher Pike (who is the captain of the USS Enterprise before James T. Kirk).
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Nina Shepardson, Karl-Johan Norén, Bill
Wagner, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Andrew.]
By Andrew Porter: North Bellmore, NY, fan Elyse Rosenstein, 69, died suddenly on
February 20th. She had been undergoing rehabilitation after suffering a broken
leg. At the time of her death, she was a retired secondary school science
Joyce Yasner, Joan Winston, Linda Deneroff and Devra Langsam, she organized the
very first Star Trek convention, held in NYC in 1972. The convention was
not only the very first media convention, it was also the biggest science
fiction convention to date by a considerable margin.
Rosenstein recounted at a Star Trek convention held at the Javits Center in NYC
which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Star Trek on NBC, she, with
her friend and fellow fan Devra Langsam, first conceived the idea of the
some unknown reason I turned to her and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to have
a science fiction convention for just ‘Star Trek?’ and she turned
to me and said, ‘Yeah,’ we could invite 500 of our most
intimate friends,’” she explained. “If she’d said that it was a terrible
idea, none of this would have happened.”
the time, Star Trek fans were often looked down on by many science
fiction fans, who were more into books and magazines than TV shows. The pair
hoped that a convention specifically geared towards Star Trek would do a
lot to bring fans together. The rest, as they say, is fan history.
her then husband Steve Rosenstein, in the early 1970s she ran Nova Enterprises,
which sold Trek-related products. She was an Honorary lifetime
member of Lunarians, chaired the 1983 Lunacon, and worked on many Lunacon
committees. And she was nicknamed “The Screaming Yellow Zonker” by
Rosenstein had a BS in physics and math, and an MS in physics, and taught
science for more than two decades. She was a member of the New York
Academy of Sciences and the Long Island Physics Teachers Association. She
was featured in numerous honors publications, including multiple editions
of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education,
and Who’s Who of American Women.
Some new stamps have been released by Royal Mail to mark the 25th, and latest, James Bond movie No Time To Die. They’ve all been inspired by the classic opening sequences and feature the six actors who’ve played 007
The Royal Mail is taking orders for the stamps and all kinds of cute
Bond collectibles here.
For example, the “James
Bond Secret Dossier”, “A
confidential dossier containing six missions linked to the Special Stamps.”
(2) JOHN SCALZI’S LAST (EMPEROX) TOUR. From coast to coast –
and in the middle, too, John Scalzi will be promoting The Last Emperox. Find
out when and where:“Tour
Dates! Tour Dates! Tour Dates!”.
…i recently finished a book called Bandernatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings that struck me with a surprising insight into peak performance. The book is about the creative collaboration among a group of exceptional English writers in the 1930’s and 1940’s and its amazing results. If you are a Tolkien or Lewis geek like me, you’ll love the book for its insights into the story behind the story of their writing. For purposes of today’s post, I want to focus on a particular concept introduced to me by author Diana Glyer: the resonator.
The resonator is “…anyone who acts as a friendly, interested, supportive audience … they show interest, give feedback, express praise, offer encouragement, contribute practical help, and promote the work to others. … they are enthusiastic about the project, they believe it is worth doing, and they are eager to see it brought to completion. But more importantly, they show interest in the writer — they express confidence in the writer’s talents and show faith in his or her ability to succeed. They understand what the writer is attempting. They catch the vision and then do all they can. Resonators help innovators to make the leap from where they are to where they need to be.”
Of course, right? How else would anyone get anything amazing accomplished? We like to talk a big collaboration game but few of us do it and fewer still are good at it. Peak performance in our world is the lone athlete doing the impossible. The brilliant scientist with a break through in the dark, lonely hours of the night. The deft surgeon making all of the right decisions, and incisions, in the OR. The inspired novelist typing away in insolation as she produces a story that touches everyone. We see our best coming in isolation and, like much of the rest of our lives, we approach our best life, best self, and best performance with a lottery ticket mentality: buy the ticket and hope for the best.
(4) A SIMPLE TEST YOU CAN DO AT HOME. Aidan Moher did the math and was stunned by the answer.
Weird Tales was Bob Weinberg’s favorite pulp and besides the pulp itself, he loved to collect ephemera related to it. Among the items that will be in the Robert Weinberg Estate Auction being held at the 2020 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention (April 17-19, 2020 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center) are not only many issues of Weird Tales, but some related items as well. The auction will be held on the evening of Friday, April 17, 2020.
Bob collected many letters from Weird Tales’ editor Farnsworth Wright over the years, including several from the estate of author Greye la Spina. She was one of the pioneering female writers of horror and fantasy for the pulps.
…In Star Trek: Picard, we are presented with a future where the powers that be are no longer committed to these great ambitions. Starfleet, it seems, withdrew from the great challenge of its age, the humanitarian project to save the Romulan people from the effects of their sun going supernova, making a distinction between ‘lives’ and ‘Romulan lives’. We see a man whose values are no longer shared by the institutions to which he devoted his whole life, and who is struggling with this misalignment….
1. You may already have received an email from theCombined Book Exhibit’s New Title Showcase. The CBE, an area of standing bookshelves outside the entrance to the BEA display floor, offers display packages for a few hundred dollars. For a few hundred more, you can buy an ad in its catalog; for many hundreds more, you can buy an autographing session.
Your book will be placed on a shelf with hundreds of others, in no particular order: there are no separate areas for genres, for instance. I’ve attended BEA many times, and the CBE is often completely deserted, with not a customer or a staff person in sight. I’ve never seen more than a handful of people browsing it at any one time. There is definitely no handselling involved.
A number of predatory marketing companies re-sell CBE services for enormous markups. The CBE is aware of this, and has posted a warning on its website (it’s no coincidence that all the companies named in the warning appear on the scam list in the sidebar of this blog).
(8) COYNE OBIT. The
Rev. George V. Coyne, a Jesuit astrophysicist and the longtime director of the
Vatican Observatory, who defended Galileo and Darwin against doctrinaire Roman
Catholics, and also challenged atheists by insisting that science and religion
could coexist, died on February 18 at the age of 87 The New York Times
tribute is here.
…Recognized among astronomers for his research into the birth of stars and his studies of the lunar surface (an asteroid is named after him), Father Coyne was also well known for seeking to reconcile science and religion.
…Brother Guy Consolmagno, the current director of the Vatican Observatory, said in an email that Father Coyne “was notable for publicly engaging with a number of prominent and aggressive opponents of the church who wished to use science as a tool against religion.”
Among those he engaged on the debate stage and in print were Richard Dawkins, the English evolutionary biologist and atheist, and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who, in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in 2005, defended the concept that evolution could not have occurred without divine intervention.
During Father Coyne’s tenure, the Vatican publicly acknowledged that Galileo and Darwin might have been correct. Brother Consolmagno said it would be fair to say that Father Coyne had played a role in shifting the Vatican’s position….
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 18, 1908 — Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in Galaxina, The Incredible Hulk, Jason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The Rings, Adult Fairytales, Clones, Dracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.)
Born February 18, 1919 — Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh, the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and he had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.)
Born February 18, 1929 — Len Deighton, 91. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. Itdeals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series was broadcast several years back.
Born February 18, 1930 — Gahan Wilson. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. (Died 2019.)
Born February 18, 1954 — John Travolta, 66. Ahhhh, Battlefield Earth. Travolta, a Scientologist, had sought for years to make a film of the novel by Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Given it is now generally considered one of the worst SF films ever, I do wonder what he thinks of it now. I can almost forgive him for it as he went on to become involved in Chicago which is one of the finest musicals ever filmed.
Born February 18, 1968 — Molly Ringwald, 52. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there.
(10) IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN. In “Love
and Loss in the Time of Swamp Monsters” on CrimeReads, Andy
Davidson recalls his three favorite Swamp Thing stories, and explains
Swamp Thing’s romantic problems because “it can’t be easy falling in love
with a vegetable.”
From his first appearance in 1971 in DC’s House of Secrets #92, Len Wein and Berni Wrightson’s Swamp Thing seemed doomed to be the monster lurking beyond the darkened pane.
By the time Swamp Thing #1 hit spinner racks a year later, Wein and Wrightson’s series had revamped and fleshed out the story of Dr. Alec Holland, a research scientist murdered, along with his wife, for his “bio-restorative formula.” Horribly burned in an explosion that destroys his lab, Holland flees into the swamp, where he succumbs to his injuries, only to be miraculously reborn from the bog, “a muck-encrusted, shambling mockery of life.”
(11) WHO SAYS
YOU CAN’T PICK YOUR PARENTS? Takayuki Tatsumi, a Keio University English
professor and an expert on cyberpunk who has been a frequent panelist at
Worldcons, was interviewed by Elif Batuman in a piece that appeared in the
April 30, 2018 New Yorker on the Japanese practice of “rental relatives,”
where companies rent out actors who pretend to be a client’s spouse, children,
or parents. “Japan’s
Rental relatives have inspired a substantial literary corpus. In Tokyo, I met with the critic Takayuki Tatsumi, who, in the nineties, wrote a survey of the genre. He explained that postmodern and queer novelists had used rental relatives to represent the ‘virtual family,’ an idea he traced back to the -ie- of the Meiji period, where adoption of family members was common and biological lineage was subordinated to the integrity of the household. ‘According to Foucault, everything is constructed, not essentially determined,’ Tatsumi said. ‘What matters is the function.’
(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was perched in front of the TV
tonight when all the contestants whiffled on this Jeopardy! answer:
Category: Speaking Volumes.
Answer: Here’s a revelation — it’s the seventh and “last” book in the Narnia series.
No one got, “What is ‘The Last Battle’?”
(13) MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Brad Torgersen recently was a
convention GoH. Guess which of his good friends praised the choice in these terms:
The very best part of Brad being GoH however was that it caused several of the Shrieking Harpies of Tolerance to throw a temper tantrum and declare that they were going to boycott the event (and they did, yet absolutely nobody missed them). Upon hearing that I asked if they could make Brad emeritus GoH every year forever, because that’s like putting a tick collar on a dog.
To think he used to be the Sad Puppies’ lead dog. Now
he’s just the collar.
Con-goers flirt a lot, it is part of the fun of the event … and is really meant to be light-hearted, not a promise of a serious relationship.
5. Point and stare at people in costume…
…even if you’re one of them. It may look exotic and strange to you, but for a con, costumes are quite common at science fiction conventions. That said, if you like someone’s costume, you can always compliment. Just be sure it is a costume…
(15) PRACTICING? In
the Washington Post, Rick Noack and Stefano Petrilli discuss how the
spread of the corona virus has increased interest in plague-related video
games, with “Plague Inc.” and “Pandemic” racking up sales
around the world. “Virus
games are going viral as the coronavirus spreads”.
The popularity of games centered on the proliferation of pathogens has surged in recent weeks.
As officials and experts worked to stem the global spread of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, and has left more than 1,500 people dead, gamers have turned their attention to parallel, imaginary struggles.Foremost among them: Plague Inc., a strategy game that rose to the top of Apple Store charts in China, the United States, and elsewhere as coronavirus fears mounted. First released by U.K.-based studio Ndemic Creations in 2012, the game, of which there are a handful of variants, asks players to take the part of a pathogen, helping it evolve to wipe out humanity.
The popularity of such games makes sense amid efforts to cope with the coronavirus and the fears it has sown, researchers and game developers said.
(16) EX-TERMINATE! Fabrice Mathieu’s new mashup is Terminators:
Several T-800 are sent back in time by Skynet. But their mission is scrambled. And now they are all targeting each other!
Researchers have described the first “articulated” remains of a Neanderthal to be discovered in a decade.
An articulated skeleton is one where the bones are still arranged in their original positions.
The new specimen was uncovered at Shanidar Cave in Iraq and consists of the upper torso and crushed skull of a middle-aged to older adult.
Excavations at Shanidar in the 1950s and 60s unearthed partial remains of 10 Neanderthal men, women and children.
During these earlier excavations, archaeologists found that some of the burials were clustered together, with clumps of pollen surrounding one of the skeletons.
The researcher who led those original investigations, Ralph Solecki from Columbia University in New York, claimed it was evidence that Neanderthals had buried their dead with flowers.
This “flower burial” captured the imagination of the public and kicked off a decades-long controversy. The floral interpretation suggested our evolutionary relatives were capable of cultural sophistication, challenging the view – prevalent at the time – that Neanderthals were unintelligent and animalistic.
(18) FRENCH VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Dans La Nuit” by Agathe Simoulin on Vimeo
is a creepy story about ghosts in a graveyard adapted from a story by Guy de
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Chip
Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title cedit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
In this debut fantasy novel, Wade writes of Pelismara, a city within a deep cave, occupied by 12 ruling families that form a rigid class system. The city has been in decline, and when an epidemic sweeps over the city and kills their ruler, 17-year-old Tagaret is forced to represent his family to compete to become the heir to the throne. He has to contend with other rivals to the throne, including his sociopathic younger brother Nekantor, who threatens everything that he’s worked for.
Publishers Weeklygave the book a starred review and says that the novel has an “impressively winding plot, layered worldbuilding, and psychologically acute characterizations are sure to hold readers’ attention.”
CBS All Access debuted its new Star Trek series Picardjust a couple of days ago, and to commemorate the occasion, it’s releasing a tie-in novel that sets up the events of the series, written by Una McCormack. The novel will provide some backstory to some of the show’s newest characters.
The exhibition will display an array of rare artifacts, set pieces, and props from the television series, spinoffs, and films, some of which have never been on display in Los Angeles. Highlights include:
Set pieces from Star
Trek: The Original Series, including Captain Kirk’s command chair
and the navigation console.
More than 100 artifacts and props
from the various Star Trek TV series and films, including an original
series’ tricorder, communicator, and phaser; a Borg cube from the film Star
Trek: First Contact; a Klingon disruptor pistol from Star Trek: The Next Generation; and
tribbles from Star Trek: The Original Series.
Spock’s tunic worn by Leonard
Nimoy; Lt. Uhura’s dress worn by Nichelle Nichols; Khan garments past and
present, including the open-chest tunic worn by Ricardo Montalban and the
costume worn by Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2013 reboot; Captain Picard’s
uniform worn by Patrick Stewart; plus, a Borg costume, the alien Gorn, and
Original scripts, concept art,
storyboards, and production drawings.
Spaceship filming models of the
U.S.S. Enterprise, U.S.S. Excelsior, U.S.S. Phoenix, and Deep Space Nine space station.
Objects that illustrate how Star
Trek has become deeply embedded in popular culture and has even
inspired real-world technological innovations, such as a prototype of an actual
medical tricorder, Star Trek-themed beer, Boston Red Sox “Star
Trek Night” foam finger in the shape of the Vulcan salute, a
“Picardigan” sweater, a listening station with songs by Star Trek tribute bands, US postal stamps featuring
the U.S.S. Enterprise, and much more.
No one has nominated us yet for the book cover challenge so we thought we’d take matters into our own hands and publish some of our favourites from the first hundred years of the book cover (as we commonly understand it today) — though we’ve not the restraint for seven spread over seven days, so here’s a massive splurge of thirty-two in one.
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 1, 1984 — The Invisible Strangler premiered. (You might have seen it under the names of The Astral Factor or The Astral Fiend.) It was directed by John Florea. It starred Robert Foxworth, Stefanie Powers and Elke Sommer. Arthur C. Pierce both wrote the screenplay and co-directed the film though was uncredited in the latter. You can see it here.
February 1, 1998 — The Lake premiered on NBC. Scripted by Alan Brennert off the novel by J.D. Fiegelson, it starred Yasmine Bleeth, Linden Ashby, Haley Joel, Osment Susanna, Thompson and Stanley Anderson. It is made not enough of a ripple for there to any critical reviews online, nor foes it get any ratings at Rotten Tomatoes. IMDB reviewers obsess on Yasmine Bleeth of Baywatch fame in her red bathing suit here when reviewing the film which should tell all you need to know.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 1, 1884 — Yevgeny Zamyatin. Author of We, a dystopian novel. He also translated into into Russian a number of H.G. Wells works and some critics think We is at least part a polemic against the overly optimistic scientific socialism of Wells. The Wiki writer for the Yevgeny Zamyatin page claims that We directly inspired Nineteen Eighty-Four, TheDispossessed and Brave New World. (Died 1937.)
Born February 1, 1908 — George Pal. Let’s see… Producer of Destination Moon, When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds (which I love), Conquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time Machine, Atlantis, the Lost Continent, Tom Thumb, The Time Machine, Atlantis, the Lost Continent, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (another I love)and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze which is not so great. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.)
Born February 1, 1926 — Nancy Gates. Though just genre adjacent, I’m including The Atomic City with her as Ellen Haskell as her first SFF appearance, though World Without End in which she’s Garnet is pure SF and that follows that film, so you choose. She was Renza Hale in the “First Woman on the Moon” episode of Men Into Space, and she’s Lois Strand in the “Marked Danger” episode of Science Fiction Theater. (Died 2019.)
Born February 1, 1942 — Bibi Besch. Best remembered for her portrayal of Dr. Carol Marcus on The Wrath of Khan. Genre wise, she’s also been in The Pack (horror), Meteor (SF), The Beast Within (more horror), Date with an Angel (romantic fantasy) and Tremors (SF). (Died 1996.)
Born February 1, 1942 — Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who was considered largely responsible for the program’s structure, in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. (Died 2020.)
Born February 1, 1946 — Elisabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company (truly awfully done including K-9 himself) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (not bad at all). It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.)
Born February 1, 1954 — Bill Mumy, 66. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre were at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He made it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First he plays an orphaned boy in an episode of Bewitched called “A Vision of Sugar Plums” and then it’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” on I Dream of Jeannie, a show he shows he revisits a few years as Darrin the Boy in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh, his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before Our Gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series.
Born February 1, 1965 — Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here. (Died 1993.)
Born February 1, 1965 — Sherilyn Fenn, 55. Best known for playing as Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks. Her first genre work was in The Wraith as Keri Johnson followed by being Suzi in Zombie High (also known charmingly not as The School That Ate My Brain). Her latest work is Etta in The Magicians series.
(8) REMEMBERING KAGE BAKER. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] She passed ten years ago last night. We had a long,
interesting conversation via email with the occasional phone call about her
fiction, and I sent her chocolate and the odd music CD from time to time. We
almost put together a Concordance on The Company novels in which I would
have interviews with each of the major cyborgs. She was particularly interested
in having them express their opinions on chocolate.
She loved her sister Kathleen who maintains a blog, Kathleen,
Kage, and The Company which has thoughts on her passing yesterday: “Oh,
My Breaking Heart”.
She, above all, had a great heart and a wicked sense
of humor. I’m convinced that she really did believe that Harry, her parrot,
really was a space raptor.
For the first time since 2014, zero Star Wars movies are slated to come out this year. But, that doesn’t mean some badass sci-fi action isn’t coming our way. The visionary filmmaker behind Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 is adapting Frank Herbert’s Dune for the big screen this December. Denis Villeneuve’s feature adaptation of the 1965 classic novel is not only an incredibly highly-anticipated 2020 movie, it’s packed with an absurdly-talented cast. Check them out and read up on the Dune characters they’ll be portraying here:
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip
Hitchcock, Andrew Liptak, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Dan Bloch, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
The last checkup was a personal best. Today’s checkup was even better than that. The level of cancer has fallen by a substantial amount to an unprecedented low. After five years. Which is three more than I was supposed to get. And I’m in my late 60s—-not the time of life generally associated with healing, restoration, and/or improvement.
Which just goes to show you: old doesn’t mean it’s over. Cancer doesn’t mean it’s over. And being old and having cancer doesn’t mean you’re marking time till you keel over….
(2) LESSONS LEARNED, WOUNDS REOPENED. Dwayne A. Day, who
was a civilian investigator for the
Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), responds to Eric Choi’s alternate
history story about the shuttle’s last mission in “All these moments will be
lost…” at The Space Review.
…To me, the Columbia accident had been a shock, but it had not been personal. I barely knew the astronauts’ names before the event, and had stopped paying attention to the mission while Columbia was in orbit. But many of the NASA people we encountered during our investigation knew the astronauts personally, and some felt responsible, directly or indirectly, for their deaths. This report on what could have been done to save them if the hole in Columbia’s wing had been discovered in time was like pouring salt on an open wound—like telling people that not only had they allowed the accident to happen, they had done nothing to save their friends. The tension in that room among the NASA people was palpable.
Now, 17 years later, there’s a weird new development in that emotionally-charged issue. Eric Choi, a Canadian science fiction writer, has written an alternative history story about the Columbia mission for Analog magazine where NASA seeks to save the crew. In his story, NASA tries to launch the shuttle Atlantis on a rescue mission. When that mission is aborted, the Columbia astronauts engage in a high-risk backup plan to fill the hole in Columbia’s wing with metal and frozen water. The salvage plan is only partially successful and a few crewmembers successfully bail out of the stricken orbiter, but the remainder perish. Those rescue scenarios are based on the actual ones that I and other investigators heard in the summer of 2003, and which were included in the CAIB final report.
Choi’s story is titled “The Greatest Day,” and it features the Columbia astronauts and some NASA officials. (The story is accompanied by a non-fiction article by Choi explaining his sources about the rescue mission option.) But in a head-scratching bit of fiction, Choi has changed some names but kept others. For the Columbia’s crew, mission commander Rick Husband and Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon have different names in the story. For the ground personnel, Linda Ham, who chaired the Mission Management Team for the STS-107 mission involving Columbia, has a different name. The main character in Choi’s story is Wayne Hale, who during the actual mission had tried to obtain better imagery of the orbiter after launch photography indicated it had been hit by foam coming off the external tank during ascent. Hale’s effort was shut down by Linda Ham.
It is unclear why Choi changed some names and not others. Could he have feared legal action? The character who runs the Mission Management Team in his story is portrayed extremely negatively, but the mission commander and the Israeli astronaut say and do nothing in the story, so why change their names but not the rest of the crew? Why even use the name “Columbia” in the story? …
(3) TODAY’S 10,000. Hey, they’re catching up fast! Amazing
Stories recorded its ”Ten
Thousandth Post” today. Congratulations, Steve Davidson. I’ll soon be wavng
as you fly past! (And tell me, how do I get this thing out of second gear?)
My original instructions to would-be bloggers for the site was to “write about what you are passionate about, because Fandom is all about passion, and the author’s enthusiasm will transmit to the reader”. I believe that most of our contributors achieved that goal.
…Chiang will participate in a collaborative two-day workshop presented by the NDIAS and the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center (ND-TEC). Throughout the event, he will discuss how technical researchers and artists can work together to develop morally significant options for engaging with technology. Additionally, as part of his residency, Chiang will engage with Notre Dame faculty on campus and participate in NDIAS weekly seminars. These seminars will give Chiang the opportunity to discuss his work in progress with NDIAS fellows, students, and invited guests.
…Chiang will also interface with undergraduate students throughout his residency. Students will have an opportunity to engage with Chiang during a one-credit course about his and other science fiction writings taught by Sullivan and McKenna. First year students enrolled in Sullivan’s course God and the Good Lifewill read “Hell is the Absence of God”and Chiang will discuss the story with students in a question and answer session.
(5) HENSON PUPPETS. What happens when Henson puppeteers are
joined by some of the best comedians in the world in a battle of improv comedy?
“Brian Henson presents Puppet Up“.
Shows in Hollywood next week.
Created by award-winning director, producer, Brian Henson (“Muppet Christmas Carol”, “Muppet Treasure Island”), and actor, director, and improv expert Patrick Bristow (“Ellen,” “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”), Puppet Up! – Uncensored promises to deliver a completely unique experience (it’s never the same show twice!), and expertly combines dynamic and spontaneous off-the-cuff comedy with the unmatched talent and creativity of Henson puppeteers.
Based on suggestions from the audience, the puppet anarchy is two shows in one: the improvised puppet action projected live on screens above the stage, and the puppeteers racing around below in full view of the audience to bring it all to life. The show also features recreations of classic pieces originally created by Jim Henson, Jane Henson, and Frank Oz that haven’t been seen by live audiences in decades.
The award-winning Puppet Up! – Uncensored is hosted on The Jim Henson Company’s historic lot in Hollywood. Built by Charlie Chaplin and a legendary part of movie history, the lot is a classic destination that is not to be missed.
From Kickstarter to ko-fi to patreon, the search for funding can be a huge challenge. I recently attended a lecture provided by the St. Louis chapter of the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts on the subject of applying for grants. Some of the most basic hurdles include finding grants that might be a good fit for your work, and how to prepare your materials in a way to make it easy for the folks reading your submission. The greatest learning curve when it comes to grant writing is how to think about looking for grants, and how to frame your work as a good fit. Here is a bit of grant application 101.
William Gibson does not write novels, he makes bombs.
Careful, meticulous, clockwork explosives on long timers. Their first lines are their cores — dangerous, unstable reactant mass so packed with story specific detail that every word seems carved out of TNT. The lines that follow are loops of brittle wire wrapped around them.
Once, he made bombs that exploded. Upended genre and convention, exploded expectations. The early ones were messy and violent and lit such gorgeous fires. Now, though, he does something different. Somewhere a couple decades ago, he hit on a plot architecture that worked for him — this weird kind of thing that is all build-up and no boom — and he has stuck to it ever since. Now, William Gibson makes bombs that don’t explode. Bombs that are art objects. Not inert. Still goddamn dangerous. But contained.
You can hear them tick. You don’t even have to listen that close. His language (half Appalachian economy, half leather-jacket poet of neon and decay) is all about friction and the gray spaces where disparate ideas intersect. His game is living in those spaces, checking out the view, telling us about it.
Agency, that’s his newest. It’s a prequel/sequel (requel?) to his last book, The Peripheral, which dealt, concurrently, with a medium-future London after a slow-motion apocalypse called “The Jackpot,” and a near-future now where a bunch of American war veterans, grifters, video game playtesters and a friendly robot were trying to stop an even worse future from occurring. It was a time travel story, but done in a way that only Gibson could: Almost believably, in a way that hewed harshly to its own internal logic, and felt both hopeful and catastrophic at the same time….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 21, 1991 — Dead Space premiered. It was directed by Fred Gallo, produced by Mike Elliott and Roger Corman. The cast included Marc Singer, Laura Tate, Bryan Cranston and Judith Chapman. The movie is a remake of the Corman-produced Mutant and while we will note that are minor differences, it still retains both story and characters from that film. It does not fare well at Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of only 18% among reviewers there.
January 21, 2016— DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow premiered. It was developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, and Phil Klemmer, who are also executive producers along with Sarah Schechter and Chris Fedak; Klemmer and Fedak serve as showrunners. The cast is is sprawling but Rip Hunter (portrayed by Arthur Darvill of Doctor Who fame) was at the center for the first few seasons. The time travel, multiverse premise, and it’s now been renewed for a sixth season, allows for everything from Greek Mythology to Jonah Hex to show up.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 21, 1923 — Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the Hearth, Gunner Cade, Outpost Mars and The Tomorrow People of which the last three were with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote twenty-six stories which can be found in The Best of Judith Merril. She was an editor as well of both anthologies and magazines. Her magazine editorship was as Judy Zissman and was Science*Fiction in 1946 and Temper! In 1945 and 1947. May I comment that ISFDB notes Temper! has a header of The Magazine of Social Protest which given its date may make it the earliest SJW citation known in our genre? Oh, and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She was also a much-lauded Books Editor there at the same time. (Died 1997.)
Born January 21, 1924 — Dean Fredericks. He’s best remembered for being Steve Canyon in the series of the same name which aired from a year in the late Fifties on NBC. Is it genre? You decide. He did have genre credits as he played Captain Frank Chapman in The Phantom Planet. He also appeared in The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold and The Disembodied. (Died 1991.)
Born January 21, 1925 — Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination Space, The Invaders, Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name bunt a few of them. (Died 1993.)
Born January 21, 1934 — Audrey Dalton, 76. I’ve first got her visiting the SFF genre in the Fifties monster flick The Monster That Challenged the World where she was Gail MacKenzie. She’ll make three more SFF appearences in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild Wild West and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. before retiring from acting.
Born January 21, 1940 — Mike Reid. He’s a curious case as he’s been in a number of SFF roles, usually uncredited, starting with a First Doctor story, “ The War Machines” and including one-offs for The Saint, The Champions and Department S. He is credited as playing Frank Butcher in Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time which you can watch here. (Died 2007.)
Born January 21, 1950 — Ken Leung, 50. His SFF roles include Syatyoo-Sama in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Miles Straume in Lost, Admiral Statura in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Kid Omega in X-Men: The Last Stand. He also played the Karnak, a member of the Inhumans, on that series which had poor rating and was canceled after eight episodes.
Born January 21, 1954 — Katey Sagal, 66. She voiced Leela on Futurama, the spaceship captain and head of all aviation services on board the Planet Express Ship.
Born January 21, 1956 — Geena Davis, 64. Her first genre appearance was as Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife In The Fly reboot followed by her widely remembered roles as Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice and Valerie Gail In Earth Girls Are Easy. She also plays Morgan Adams in the box office bomb Cutthroat Island before getting the choice plum of Mrs. Eleanor Little in the Stuart Little franchise. She has a lead role in Marjorie Prime, a film tackling memory loss in Alzheimer’s victims some fifty years by creating holographic projections of deceased family members that sounds really creepy. Who’s seen it? Her major series role to date is as Regan MacNeil on The Exorcist, a ten-episode FOX sequel to the film.
Born January 21, 1962 — Paul McCrane, 58. Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop whose death there is surely an homage to the Toxic Avenger. A year later, he’d be Deputy Bill Briggs in the remake of The Blob, and he played Leonard Morris Betts in the “Leonard Betts” episode of the X-Files.
(10) PAWSOME IDEA. Discover your Jellicle cat name:
…I heard from a friend who works at the ABC that Australia has been one of the first countries to buy Doctor Who from the BBC. In fact, I was really excited when he told me in March last year that the ABC had purchased the show and intended to debut it last May, but then delays arose due to censorship issues. Yes, although Doctor Who is classed as a family show in Britain, the Australian censors (who view and classify every overseas television show that comes into the country) have deemed the first thirteen episodes to be not suitable for children and classified them as “Adult”! This means that the ABC must schedule these episodes for screening after 7pm and couldn’t show Doctor Who in the Sunday night 6.30pm timeslot it originally planned. But at last Doctor Who has found a home on Friday night at 7.30pm (at least in Sydney). I just hope the censors aren’t going to decide one day that some stories are too scary to be screened at all!
OF DEATH. Accompanying TheCriterion Collection’s January selection of Seventies sff films, Ed
Park analyzes the dual themes of “The
Labyrinth and the Plague”.
…The decade’s science-fiction legacy is partly obscured by the extraterrestrially inclined blockbusters appearing near its end: George Lucas’s Star Wars and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). But before that, filmmakers were using the genre to construct bleak, paranoid scenarios right here on earth: claustrophobic labyrinths and lethal plagues. Consciously or not, some films read like responses to the ongoing war in Vietnam, corruption in the shadow of Watergate, environmental degradation and urban decay, and the rise of a new machine age. Some of the films snap back at the excesses of the sixties, too: it can’t be coincidence that the slavering creeps whom Neville battles every night call themselves the Family, à la Charles Manson.
Even though humans reached the moon in ’69, most of these movies remain earthbound, as if the gravity of the world’s problems wouldn’t permit such easy, escapist fare—at least for a while. Indeed, the jarring prologue of George Lucas’s 1971 debut, THX 1138, is a snippet of an old Buck Rogers serial, pounding home the difference between a tale of derring-do and the imprisoning nature of man’s own inventions.
(13) ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN.Superversive Press has closed. It
stopped selling its books on Amazon last fall, and turned over the balance of
its unfinished Planetary Anthologies to another publisher. Today’s announcement
It is with great sadness that I bring you the announcement that the owner of Superversive Press has made the decision to shutter the press. His reasons are his own and personal, and I understand that running even a small company is a large amount of work. I would like to thank you, Jason, for all your hard work. It was a good run, and you brought a lot of us together.
Now, with that having been said, Superversive is a movement, not a company, and as authors, we will still be there, pressing forward with our goal of fiction that ennobles and inspires. If you were working with Superversive Press, check with your editors; most are looking at other presses we have worked with. (As we did with the Planetary Anthology.)
…Specialising in conservative orientated speculative fiction with an intent to ‘inspire from above’, the publisher was a part of a wave of attempts to revitalise right-leaning science-fiction in the mid 2010’s. From my perspective, given the world we do live in, experiments like Superversive Press were a far more positive outlet for some of the angst and frustrations among conservative SF/F fans than others. If we had to be in the midst of a culture war within science fiction, it was much, much better to be conducted with people exercising their creative energies creatively.
(14) ALL CATS GO TO DINNER. Karen Bruillard in the Washington Post reports that
researchers at the “body farm” (formally known as the Forensic
Investigation Research Station) at Colorado Mesa University found that cats
will eat dead people, but because cats are finicky they may not eat your corpse
if you’re dead. The researchers found that one feral cat, given a choice
of 40 bodies to consume, gnawed at one corpse for 35 consecutive days. “Compelling
new evidence that your cat might eat your corpse”.
It is one of those pet-owner musings, a conversation topic so dark that it inspired a book by a mortician: Would Fluffy eat me if I dropped dead? The answer, according to small but growing body of scientific literature, is a fairly clear yes.
Lego is releasing an official International Space Station kit, which includes a scale model of the orbital platform, along with a miniature dockable Space Shuttle, a deployable satellite and two astronaut mini figurines. The kit is made up of 864 pieces, and celebrates the science station’s more than 20 years in operation. It was originally suggested through Lego’s Ideas platform, which crowdsources ideas from the Lego fan community.
(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter deduced these Jeopardy! contestants
are not insatiable sff TV viewers.
Category: Spaced-Out Pop Culture.
Answer: Led by Captain Mercer, this sci-fi series on Fox sees its title ship & crew boldly going where no comedy has gone before.
No one got the question, “What is ‘The Orville'”.
was a bit of a gaffe in the final round, too.
Final Jeopardy: Classic Movies.
Answer: This 1939 movie was loosely based on Senator Burton Wheeler, victim of a sham investigation for looking into the Justice Department.
Wrong question: What is “Gone with the Wind.”
Correct question: What is “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
In 1985 the US pulled the plug on a computer-controlled anti-aircraft tank after a series of debacles in which its electronic brain locked guns onto a stand packed with top generals reviewing the device. Mercifully it didn’t fire, but did subsequently attack a portable toilet instead of a target drone.
The M247 Sergeant York (pictured above) may have been an embarrassing failure, but digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI) have changed the game since then.
Today defence contractors around the world are competing to introduce small unmanned tracked vehicles into military service.
…Will this new generation of mini-tanks change the face of warfare? How much autonomy can they be trusted with?
Estonian soldiers currently serving in Mali are going out on patrol with an unmanned ground vehicle or UGV. The size of a sit-on lawn-mower with tracks, it carries heavy supplies such as water and ammunition. Trundling behind a conventional armoured personnel carrier it resembles an obedient younger sibling.
…Across the Atlantic US defence contractor FLIR has been buying up robotics firms in order to put together a UGV package with a group of technology and engineering firms, Team Ripsaw. This group has adapted the Ripsaw, a small tracked vehicle with sports car speeds popularised on TV and by Hollywood.
Originally marketed as a millionaire’s plaything and subsequently starring in Fast and Furious 8, the Ripsaw may be about to earn further recognition as an unmanned war machine.
Astroland is a project designed to see how humans would cope with the psychological demands of living on Mars and to test out potential technologies.
It is thought the first colonists on Mars will have to live in caves or lava tubes to protect them from interstellar radiation and for the purpose of the Astroland experiment, “Mars”, is set up in a remote cave in Arredondo, Spain.
A court in Thailand has acquitted one of the country’s largest opposition parties after it was accused of having links to a mythical secret society.
A sedition charge against Future Forward alleged that it was influenced by the Illuminati and was seeking to overthrow the monarchy.
The Constitutional Court dismissed the charge. A guilty verdict could have seen the party banned.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew
Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
…When I began writing my Worldbreaker Saga back in 2012, which begins with the novel The Mirror Empire, I too was obsessed with this idea of two choices: the light and the dark. I was writing fantasy, after all! While my protagonists might be morally messy early on, I always knew I was headed for a showdown where they had two choices: good or evil. Genocidal or self-sacrificing.
But it was a false choice.
And it literally took me years to realize this.
At some level I must have understood I was setting up a false choice as I finished the second volume, Empire Ascendant, and began the grueling process of tying everything up in the third and final book, The Broken Heavens. Emotionally, I was rebelling against my own embrace of these false choices, because no matter how many times I tried to get myself to write the ending I had in mind at the beginning of the series, it just never felt… right.
(2) BASE RUMORS. CoNZealand has extended the deadline for
entering the Hugo base design competition until January 31.
If you were thinking of entering the competition to design bases for the 2020 Hugo Awards and 1945 Retro Hugos, you’re in luck. The deadline for entries has been extended until 31st January 2020 (from the original deadline of 17th January).
(3) SCREAM QUIETLY. Paramount dropped a
trailer for A Quiet Place II.
Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
For a long time Weird Tales (probably best known for short stories by H.P. Lovecraft, Robert. E. Howard, and later Ray Bradbury) was seen as the first fantastical magazine, publishing science fiction, weird fiction and horror. That history has been revised over the past few years. Der Orchideengarten (in English, The Garden of Orchids) was a Munich-based magazine first published in 1919, predating the better known American magazine by several years, and is now acknowledged as the first fantasy magazine (archived digitally here).
Only published until 1921 Der Orchideengarten is somewhat overshadowed by its better known, and more mainstream, Munich-based contemporaries, Jugend and Simplissicimus, yet the breadth of stories and unsettling art is worth looking at.
(5) WOLFMAN. One of the many cameos in CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths “Part 5” was the real Marv Wolfman, who co-wrote the original Crisis on Infinite Earths mini-series which was published by DC Comics in 1985-1986. CBR.com has the dialog, from when Marv, playing a fan, stops Supergirl and The Flash to ask for their autographs.
“Wait, you know both of us?” Kara asks. “And it’s normal to see us together?” Barry adds.
“Well, normally, you’d also have Green Arrow and a Legend or two,” Wolfman explains. “Last year, even Batwoman joined in.” He points to the folder. “Would you make that out to Marv? Thank you!”
“You’re welcome,” Barry says as he scribbles. “Marv, as far as you know, how long have Supergirl and I and all the rest of us been working together on this Earth?”
…Meanwhile, Long Beach Opera, as ever priding itself with radically rethinking repertory, has done a full refashioning of the first great “King Arthur” opera (there aren’t many, but Chausson’s “Le Roi Arthus” is a neglected beauty). Arthur here becomes the comic book delusional fantasy of a pudgy, narcissistic, emigrant-phobic politico requiring psychiatric treatment.
…Arthur King is a patient at Camelot O’Neil, a behavioral residence mental health unit. His sexy nurse is Gwen E. Veer. His buddy is another patient, Lance E. Lott. Doc Oswald runs the dubious joint.
Mitisek then takes apart the opera, adapting Purcell’s music to fit new circumstances and a completely new theatrical structure. His cutup rearranges, revises, reorders and reduces Purcell’s score. The occasional Dryden line is retained, but much of the sung text is new. Five acts become a single uninterrupted one under two hours.
Our schlumpy, Trumpian Arthur thinks he can save the world from aliens. He can be ridiculously pompous, Drydenesque even. He can also be sympathetically vulnerable.
(7) MAISEL MASHUP. Marvel’s
Mrs. Maisel: Rachel Brosnahan Enters the
Marvel Universe on The Late Late Show with James Corden.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 15, 2010 — Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold‘s The Lovely Bones novel premiered. It starred starring Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, and Saoirse Ronan. The screenplay was by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. Although Ronan and Tucci were praised for their performances, it received mixed reviews from critics. It has a 32% rating at Rotten Tomatoes by reviewers.
January 15, 2008 – File 770 blog makes its first post. Happy birthday to us!
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 15, 1879 — Ernest Thesiger. He’s here because of his performance as Doctor Septimus Pretorius in James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein. He had a major role in Hitchcock’s not completed and now lost Number 13 (or Mrs. Peabody) which is even genre adjacent. He was also in The Ghoul which was an early Boris Karloff film. And he continued to show up in SFF films such as The Ghosts of Berkeley Square where he was Dr. Cruickshank of Psychical Research Society. (Died 1961.)
Born January 15, 1913 — Lloyd Bridges. Though I’m reasonably sure Secret Agent X-9, a 1945 serial, isn’t genre, I’m listing it anyways because I’m impressed with it — it was based on a comic strip by Dashiell Hammett, Leslie Charteris and others. He’s the Pilot Col. Floyd Graham in Rocketship X-M, Dr. Doug Standish In Around the World Under the Sea, Aramis in The Fifth Musketeer, Clifford Sterling in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and Grandfather in Peter and the Wolf. His television appearances are too many to list here. (Died 1998.)
Born January 15, 1926 — Maria Schell. German actress who had roles in Superman and The Martian Chronicles. I’m reasonably sure that the Village of The Damned was her only other SFF film appearance. (Died 2005.)
Born January 15, 1927 — Phyllis Coates, 93. Lois Lane on The Adventures of Superman series for the first season. She’s also in Superman and the Mole Men which preceded the series. And she was in Fifties horror film Teenage Frankenstein. Wiki claims she had an appearance on Lois & Clark but IMDB does not show one.
Born January 15, 1928 — Joanne Linville, 92. Best remembered I’d say for being the unnamed Romulnan Commander Spock gets involved with on “The Enterprise Incident”. (Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz, calls her Liviana Charvanek.) She also starred in the Twilight Zone‘s “The Passersby” episode, and she starred in “I Kiss Your Shadow” which was the final episode of the Bus Stop series. The episode was based on the short story by Robert Bloch who wrote the script for it. This story is in The Early Fears Collection.
Born January 15, 1935 — Robert Silverberg, 85. I know the first thing I read by him was The Stochastic Man a very long time ago. After that I’ve read all of the Majipoor series which is quite enjoyable, and I know I’ve read a lot of his short fiction down the years. So what should I have read by him that I haven’t?
Born January 15, 1944 — Christopher Stasheff. A unique blending I’d say of fantasy and SF with a large if sometimes excessive dollop of humor. His best-known novels are his Warlock in Spite of Himself series which I’ve read some of years ago. Who here has read has Starship Troupers series? It sounds potentially interesting. (Died 2018.)
Born January 15, 1945 — Ron Bounds, 75. One of the founders of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in the Sixties. He co-chaired Discon 2, was a member of both the Baltimore in ’67 and Washington in ’77 bid committees. He chaired Loscon 2. He published the Quinine, a one-shot APA. He was President of the Great Wall of China SF, Marching & Chop Suey Society which is both a cool name and a great undertaking as well.
(10) BINTI FOR TV. Author Nnedi Okorafor will co-write the
script alongside Stacy Osei-Kuffour (Watchmen) for Media Res.Shelf
Awareness reports –
Hulu has given a script order for an adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning Binti trilogy. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Stacy Osei-Kuffour (Watchmen, PEN15,The Morning Show) will co-write the script with Okorafor. The studio is Media Res, the banner launched by former HBO drama head Michael Ellenberg, who will executive produce alongside Osei-Kuffour and Okorafor.
The first newly created branch of the U.S. armed forces in more than seven decades now has its first official member.
Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond was sworn in Tuesday as chief of Space Operations. It’s the top post in what since late last month is the Pentagon’s seventh military branch, the United States Space Force.
…But at the moment, there are no Space Force troops to command. Most of the 16,000 officers, airmen and civilians who Pentagon officials expect to comprise the new service branch in the next few months would likely be Air Force personnel drawn from the U.S. Space Command, which is to be the Space Force’s operational component.
Scientists have discovered the secret of how the ginkgo tree can live for more than 1,000 years.
A study found the tree makes protective chemicals that fend off diseases and drought.
And, unlike many other plants, its genes are not programmed to trigger inexorable decline when its youth is over.
The ginkgo can be found in parks and gardens across the world, but is on the brink of extinction in the wild.
“The secret is maintaining a really healthy defence system and being a species that does not have a pre-determined senescence (ageing) programme,” said Richard Dixon of the University of North Texas, Denton.
“As ginkgo trees age, they show no evidence of weakening their ability to defend themselves from stresses.”
In Carrie Vaughn’s Steel, fourth-rate fencer Jill Archer tumbles off her boat during a family vacation near Nassau. She hits the water in the 21st century; she is pulled out during the Golden Age of Piracy. Luckily for the teen, Captain Marjory Cooper offers Jill the choice between signing on as a pirate or remaining a prisoner. (Less savoury fates are not on offer.) She chooses piracy, a life that involves a lot more deck swabbing than Basil Rathbone movies would suggest. Jill’s astounding temporal displacement makes her of considerable interest to scallywag pirate Edmund Blane. Jill will need better than fourth-place sword skills to survive Blane and find her way home.
(14) TWO RESNICK TRIBUTES. One of them was a young writer longer ago than the other, but they both admire how Mike Resnick treated them then.
I don’t recall when I first met Mike, but it was a long, long time ago, back in the 1970s when both of us were still living in Chicago. I was a young writer and he was a somewhat older, somewhat more established writer. There were a lot of young writers in the Chicago area in those days, along with three more seasoned pros, Gene Wolfe, Algis Budrys, and Mike. What impressed me at the time… and still impresses me, all these years later… was how willing all three of them were to offer their advice, encouragements, and help to aspiring neo-pros like me. Each of them in his own way epitomized what this genre and this community were all about back then. Paying forward, in Heinlein’s phrase.
And no one paid it forward more than Mike Resnick.
People who had met me in real life found this hilarious. I think one of them was certain I was play-acting. I wasn’t, of course. I was terrified. I could stand outside a door that lead to a publisher party and hyperventilate.
Resnick?—?I called him Resnick, not Mike; I don’t remember why?—?understood that fear. He talked about being nineteen and terrified at his first convention. And I knew that if I went to a convention that Mike Resnick was at, I’d know at least one person. I’d have one friend.
From the looks of it, these are actually Golden Oreos that have been dyed pink and made to look like decorated Easter eggs. As @ThreeSnackateers pointed out, these aren’t any fancy flavor, they’re just festive and fun.
Just because the name suggests this will be a super sugary drink (based off the beloved jelly beans, of course) doesn’t mean that’s true. These seltzers are going to have zero calories and zero sweeteners and will only use two ingredients.
The cans will begin to stock shelves next week, and the drink comes in eight of the iconic Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors. You can take your pick between French vanilla, lemon lime, orange sherbet, piña colada, pink grapefruit, tangerine, very cherry, or watermelon. Each flavor is made only with carbonated water and natural flavors, so you can have a taste of the candy jar with zero of the cals.
Yusaku Maezawa is a Japanese billionaire and the founder of online fashion retailer Zozotown—according to Forbes, as of today, he’s worth $2 billion…
Let me be perfectly clear: the Bachelor references are there for fun, and technically, Maezawa is looking for a female “life partner,” not a moon wife, but other than that, nothing else in this story is a joke. These are facts: Yusaku Maezawa, a billionaire, is taking applications from women (aged 20 and up) who want to be his life partner. One of the things that life partner will do with Maezawa is go to the moon, and that’s not just a minor perk or something, it is his major selling point.
(17) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned in when a Jeopardy! contestant missed another chance:
Answer: This Netflix show is a chilling reworking of Shirley Jackson;s gothic horror tale.
Wrong question: “What is ‘The Lottery.'”
Correct question: What is ‘The Haunting of Hill House’?”
And somebody else took a header over this —
Answer: One of England’s most beloved tunes is the one by Hubert Parry names for this faraway Mideast city.
Bizarrely wrong question: “What is Van Diemon’s Land?”
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In the sci-fi short film ‘Regulation'” on YouTube, Ryan Patch describes a dystopian future where children are forced to wear “happy patches” to fight depression.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster,
John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack
(1) PROZINE REJOINS THE LIVING Compelling Science
Fiction has been saved from the scrapheap of history. Editor Joe Stech explains
how it happened:
We’re back in business and will be open to submissions once again on Monday, January 13th!
After I announced in September that Compelling Science Fiction would be shutting down for good, Nick Wells of Flame Tree reached out to me and suggested we work together to keep the magazine publishing our unique brand of science fiction stories. Over the last month we came to an agreement that will allow Compelling Science Fiction to continue publishing — you may recall that my issue was one of time, and Flame Tree will take over many of the most time-consuming aspects of the magazine. My role will transition to that of editor-in-chief, and Nick will take over the publishing role. I’m very excited to work with Nick and Flame Tree, and continue to support this genre of fiction that I love.
We’ll be transitioning to a quarterly schedule, and will also be accepting submissions much more often. Authors, we need your wonderful stories, so please send them our way! And readers, thanks for entrusting us with your time. I will always treat it with respect, and do my best to provide the types of stories you come here for.
(2) MORE SFF ON JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb says “The third episode of the ‘Greatest of All Time’ Jeopardy! tourney had a number of SFF-related questions.”
Here was the $800 answer in “Prequels and Sequels”:
Edited by the author’s son Christopher & published in 1977, it’s a history of Middle-Earth before “Lord of the Rings”.
Ken Jennings readily questioned, “What is Silmarillion?”
And the $400 answer:
Set for release in 2020 is Suzanne Collins’ “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”, a prequel to this series.
James Holzhauer asked, “What is The Hunger Games?”
In the “TV Green Thumb” category:
$1200: On “The Handmaid’s Tale”, this wife of Commander Waterford has some pivotal scenes in her greenhouse.
Two wrong guesses, but nobody got, “Who is Serena?”
$1600: Played by Carolyn Jones in the ’60s, she loved to cut the heads off her roses, & rejoiced when her thorns came in sharp.
Crickets. “Who is Morticia Addams?”
And the $2000 featured a picture of Jean-Luc Picard and Boothby the groundskeeper: Jean-Luc Picard once helped Boothby, played by this one-time TV Martian, to replant some flowers at Star Fleet Academy.
Ken Jennings got it: “Who is Ray Walston?”
Goldfarb concludes, “The game in the second half (each day’s game is two regular games put together) had questions about Cocteau’s ‘La Belle et Le Bête’ and Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’, but I’m going to call those only genre-adjacent and not quote them.”
Then, Andrew Porter saw this go down —
Category: Book Marks
Answer: In this novel, Mark Watney says, “I didn’t die on Sol 6. Certainly the rest of the crew thought I did.”
…Video game remakes work because, in many ways, they are the antithesis of film remakes. They honor the original vision by elevating it to what it was hoping to be but unable to achieve due to the limits of technology. The best remakes (in any medium) maintain the heart and soul of their source material while simultaneously modernizing them. In that regard, games have outshone film, delivering on the promise of the original while also updating them in a way that appeals to the nostalgia of longtime fans and the discerning eye of newcomers.
(4) STREAMING SEVENTIES SFF. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Criterion Channel, a streaming service that focuses
on art films and is based on the home video distributor The Criterion
Collection, will be featuring a wide range of science fiction films from the
1970s for most of January 2020. The service’s sci-fi offerings
for the month are:
No Blade of Grass (Cornel Wilde, 1970)
A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971) [based on the
Anthony Burgess novel of the same name]
The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971) [based on Richard
Matheson’s novel I Am Legend]
THX 1138 (George Lucas, 1971)
Z.P.G. (Michael Campus, 1972)**
Westworld (Michael Crichton, 1973) Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973) [based on Harry Harrison’s Make
Room, Make Room!]
Dark Star (John Carpenter, 1974)
The Terminal Man (Mike Hodges, 1974)
Rollerball (Norman Jewison, 1975),
A Boy and His Dog (L. Q. Jones, 1975) [based on the Harlan
Ellison story of the same name]
Death Race 2000 (Paul Bartel, 1975)
Shivers (David Cronenberg, 1975)
The Ultimate Warrior (Robert Clouse, 1975)
Logan’s Run (Michael Anderson, 1976)
God Told Me To (Larry Cohen, 1976)
Demon Seed (Donald Cammell, 1977)
Mad Max (George Miller, 1979)
Other genre-related SF films from the decade may already
be available on the service (Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Solaris are
definitely there) .
(6) CROWDFUNDING WISDOM. Cat Rambo tweeted the highlights from “Crowdfunding and Kickstartering with M.C.A. Hogarth.” Thread starts here.
(7) GETTING THE ROCKETS READY. CoNZealand has posted a “Hugo Awards
Video” hosted by Tammy Coxen, this year’s awards administrator.
If you’d like to know more about the Hugo Awards, check out this new video from the CoNZealand team, talking about the history of the awards and why they’re so important.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 11, 1997 — in Japan, Barb Wire got released. Starring Pamela Anderson and a very brief outfit, it was based on a Dark Horse comic (written by John Arcudi and illustrated by a rotating group of artists), the film was made on a shoehorn budget (about the size of her outfit) of nine million but was still a box office bomb bringing in only four million. Excepting Ebert, most critics didn’t like it and the reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are especially harsh, giving it just a 14% rating. And there’s a lot of them that don’t like it — 47, 276 so far!
January 11, 2013 — Survival Code (Borealis was its original name and it was called that in Canada), and it starred Ty Olsson, Patrick Gallagher and Michelle Harrison. It was directed by David Frazee. It won three Canadian Screen Awards at the Second Canadian Screen Awards for Best Dramatic Miniseries or Television Movie, Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Miniseries, and Best Original Score for a Television Program. The film was created to be a series pilot for Space, but the series never happened for reasons we can’t find but Space, its distributor, aired it instead as a television film. Yes it scored well at the Canadian Screen Awards, but the reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes were less forgiving as it get just 33% there.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 11, 1906 — John Myers Myers. Ahhh, Silverlock. I read the NESFA Edition which has the Silverlock Companion in it which is very useful as you know the novel’s very meta indeed. If you don’t have this, it was reprinted separately later. Thirty years after Silverlock was published, The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter novella came out. Myers claims it’s a sequel to Silverlock. (Died 1988.)
Born January 11, 1923 — Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name, and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which Fantastic Voyage series is based, and the Isaac Asimov novel was based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.)
Born January 11, 1923 — Wright King. He’s had roles in the SFF realm starting with Captain Video and His Video Rangers and including Johnny Jupiter, Twilight Zone, Out There, The Invaders, Planet Of The Apes , Invasion of the Bee Girls, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Logan’s Run. (Died 2018.)
Born January 11, 1930 — Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), The Time Machine, Colossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.)
Born January 11, 1937 — Felix Silla, 83. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi.
Born January 11, 1961 — Jasper Fforde, 59. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted wordplay as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought last year when I wrote Birthday note up that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them.
Born January 11, 1963 — Jason Connery, 57. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly including the music which was done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the “Vengeance on Varos”story on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (my least favorite Doctor). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins.
Born January 11, 1971 — Tom Ward, 49. He’s Captain Latimer in the Eleventh Doctor’s Christmas Special, “The Snowmen”. And he’s Edward Goodwin in Harry Price: Ghost Hunter. His latest genre role was as Sir Robert Peel in The Frankenstein Chronicles.
Born January 11, 1972 — Amanda Peet, 48. Not a long SFF précis but an interesting one none-the-less. She first shows up voicing Maria Montez in Battle for Terra. She was then Harlee in Martian Child which is at genre adjacent. She was ASAC Dakota Whitney in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Say did you know that Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey was paid for in part by NASA? Way cool. She voiced Ranger in it.
(10) BRITISH INTERPLANETARY SOCIETY REMEMBERED. The London Review of Books has
linked to “Operation
Backfire” by Francis Spufford first published in 1999. This history
of the British space program mentions Arthur C. Clarke twice: first in
describing the British Interplanetary Society in 1944 and second a theological
debate Clarke had with Lewis and Tolkien in 1958.
In November 1944 a group of men met in a London pub. In this fifth year of the war, the capital was dingy, dog-eared, clapped-out, frankly grimy. Though Britain had not shaken off its usual inefficiencies at mass production, it had converted its economy to the needs of the war more completely than any other combatant nation. For five years there had been no new prams, trams, lawnmowers, streetlamps, paint or wallpaper, and it showed. All over the city things leaked, flapped, wobbled and smelt of cabbage. It was the metropole that Orwell would project forward in time as the London of 1984.
These drinkers were not the kind of people to let an unpromising present determine the shape of things to come. They were the inner circle of the British Interplanetary Society, and in 1938 they had published a plan for reaching the Moon using two modules, one to orbit, one to descend to the lunar surface. The cost of the rocket – as much as a million pounds – was far more than they could raise, but they did have enough money to make a couple of instruments for it. ‘We were in the position of someone who could not afford a car, but had enough for the speedometer and the rear-view mirror,’ Arthur C. Clarke would remember. They constructed a ‘coelostat’, a device to stabilise the image of a spinning star-field. It was made from four mirrors and the motor of Clarke’s gramophone; it worked, and was proudly displayed in the Science Museum.
(11) “FUN” IS OVER. For awhile Jon Del Arroz branded his videos
Diversity in Comics – but no more! “Why I’m Changing the
Channel Name Back to Jon Del Arroz”. Here’s the transcript of his explanation. (And
remember, YouTube talking head videos really do tend to be one endless run-on
…But for here I’ve used the name Diversity in Comics over the last I guess two three months helped grow the channel quite a bit so thank you everybody came by because you saw the name and thought it was funny and all that but there comes a time where jokes have to end and we had a funny joke for a bit there and it was great and at this point I’m seeing that there’s a couple things that are an issue with this which is one that yeah it is needlessly antagonizing some people who get really worked up about this and and while I I do enjoy triggering people who get triggered for no reason and all that there there comes a time where joke a stand and it’s it’s just not funny and it’s not funny even watching somebody lose their minds over something like this anymore so definitely don’t want that happening anymore don’t want to insult anybody who might be a comic book reader who might check out the books and things like that I definitely want that to be something uh you know to where we can have are buying comic books and and we’re coming back and changing it back to just my name and the reason we’ll go with my name instead of something fancy….
… As a Canadian writer who initially marked his territory in a future Japan, what attracted him to setting his post-Jackpot world in London? He doesn’t see it as so much of a jump. “On my first three or four visits to Japan I immediately thought that Tokyo had more in common with London than with any other city,” he says. “These disproportionately large sites of former empires, huge concentrated populations, recent wartime trauma, lots of fatalities. They’re capitals of island nations. But also cultural things: the fanatical attention paid to specific individual classes of objects. In London you could probably find a speciality shop for almost anything. And you certainly could in Tokyo. All these parallels. I’m curious that I’ve almost never seen it mentioned anywhere.”
The parents of a teenager who suffered a seizure while chatting online have thanked his friend who called emergency services from 5,000 miles away.
Aidan Jackson, 17, was talking to an American gamer from his bedroom in Widnes on 2 January when he had a fit.
His friend, 20-year-old Dia Lathora, from Texas, alerted police in the UK.
The first Aidan’s parents knew of the emergency was when police and an ambulance appeared at their front door, the Liverpool Echo reported.
Caroline and Steve Jackson then rushed upstairs to find their son “extremely disorientated”.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. They intend to live happily ever
Lee Loechler recently proposed to his girlfriend, Sthuthi David, by taking her to a packed theater to see her favorite movie, Sleeping Beauty. Little did she know that Loechler had spent six months altering the animation of the film’s most iconic scene, changing the characters to look like the couple themselves and altering the storyline to set up his Big Question. And that’s only the beginning.
Watching David’s face during the scene change is sheer delight, as her confused look proves that she has no clue what is about to happen. The set-up is great, but the magical moment when Loechler’s illustrated self tosses the engagement ring to his real-life self? That’s when we all toss up our hands and say, “OKAY, man. You win at proposing. Everyone else must bow before you now.”
The whole proposal—the re-illustrations, the heart jokes (David is a cardiologist), and the bride-to-be’s surprise when she finds surrounded by her friends and family—it’s all perfection. Just watch:
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) QUEEN’S NEW YEAR HONOURS. Over a thousand people are on the list. It is a very good New Year to be a musician with the surname “John” — both Olivia Newton-John and Elton John received honours.
As for literature and genre…
Queen’s New Year’s Honors list, literary agent Felicity
Bryan was given an MBE for services to publishing, and novelist Rose
Tremain was made a Dame.
Director Sam Mendes received a Knighthood for services to
drama. He was Executive Producer of Penny Dreadful, and his two James
Bond movies, the Oscar winning Skyfall and Spectre, released in
2012 and 2015 respectively, are the most successful in the history of the
(2) THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES. Jason Sanford has released “a detailed look at science fiction and fantasy magazine publishing in this day and age” — “#SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines”. His report is loaded with information and includes observations by a dozen magazine editors.
Back in August I tweeted congrats to the fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies for achieving their fundraising goal. Which again, excellent news! But I then foolishly used that thread to try and demonstrate why BCS’s success was proof that science fiction and fantasy magazines were doing better than ever.
Spoiler: I was wrong. As multiple editors and publishers of genre magazines quickly pointed out.
In addition, the boon of e-publishing has lowered the traditional printing and distribution cost barriers to creating new genre magazines. This allows more people than ever, including marginalized and diverse voices, to create their own magazines without the need for a large company or trust fund to support their dreams.
But despite all this, times are still tough for many magazines. A number of high-profile and award-winning genre magazines have shut down in the last two years, including Apex Magazine, The Book Smugglers (although their review site continues), Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Shimmer.
And during this same time period Neil Clarke, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Clarkesworld, has been speaking publicly about the many issues faced by genre magazines and warning that the short fiction market was “oversaturated when compared to the number of paying readers.” He believed this might eventually result in a market correction and said a big part of the problem was that having so many SF/F short stories available to read for free had “devalued short fiction.”
(3) CLIMATE CHANGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan
Cowie.] Not strictly SF but since climate fiction
is arguably a sub-branch of SF —
The BBC Radio 4 morning Today programme is the
most listened radio news programme in the British Isles.
In the dead period between Christmas and New Year,
when Westminster and Capitol Hill are shut down, the Today programme
gives over editorial control to guest editors. This morning (30th Dec) we
had Greta Thunberg as the day’s editor who brought on folk from Antarctic
researchers to the head of the Bank of England.
It is a three-hour programme interspersed with the
general news of the day — such as the Australian wildfires. Rarely do we
get such an intense, diverse burst of climate information on a news programme. You
can listen to it here.
Back then I was perhaps considered as depressing and
even a few might have thought a little controversial alarmist. However over the
subsequent decade I have bullet-point listed the key science developments since my
original writing of the essay. These show how the overall science view
has slowly migrated to my own perspective. In fact, today my own views
might be considered by some as positively conservative…
But if you want a short (8 minute) summary as to how
well we are doing addressing the issue then here’s Thunberg herself earlier
Map lovers will be thrilled by the possibility to peruse some of the world’s most unique historic maps. Over 91,000 maps from the exhaustive David Rumsey Map Collection have been placed online for the world to view and download, making it a treasure trove of information related to cartography. The collection, which was started over 30 years ago, is now housed at Stanford University.
In the 1980s, David Rumsey, president of the digital publishing company Cartography Associates, began building his collection by first focusing on maps of North and South America. With materials dating from the 16th to 21st centuries, the collection is unique in its scope of maps focusing on the United States. From 19th-century ribbon maps of the Mississippi to the world’s largest early world map, the collection is filled with special gems that show the wide variety of artistic maps produced throughout history.
If you’re a pantser you are not in sole charge of the work. The characters, the plot, the theme, all chip in and drag the book to new and exciting places. You want them to do that. This is the whole point of pantsing in the first place. The book will go to places that you, if you outlined it at the beginning, could never have imagined. You know the thing’s really alive, when it gets up and runs!
But to get this to happen, you have to listen…
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 30, 1865 — Rudyard Kipling. Yea, Kipling. I didn’t do him last year and he’s written enough of a genre nature such as the Just So Stories for Little Children stories like “How the Camel Got Hump“ and “ The Cat that Walked By Himself“ being wonderful stories with a soupçon of the fantastic in them that I should’ve of done so. Or there’s always The Jungle Books, which run to far more stories than I thought. Yes, he was an unapologetic Empire-loving writer who expressed that more than once but he was a great writer. (Died 1936.)
Born December 30, 1922 — Jane Langton. Author of the Hall Family Chronicles series which is definitely SFF in nature having both fantasy and SF elements in these charming tales for children. The eight books herein are mostly not available digitally though Kindle has the final novel but the Homer Kelly mysteries which both Fantastic Fiction and ISFDB list as genre or genre-adjacent are partially available. (Died 2018.)
Born December 30, 1942 — Fred Ward, 77. Lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins which was pleasant but forgettable upon finishing. Co-lead with Kevin Bacon in several of the Tremors films. Plays The Captain in The Crow: Salvation and Maj. General David Reece in the Invasion Earth series. My favorite role for him? Detective H.P. Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell. Is he that Lovecraft? Maybe, maybe not.
Born December 30, 1945 — Concetta Tomei, 74. Blank Dominique, operator along with Blank Reg (the late Morgan Shepherd) of Big Time Television, on Max Headroom. She’s had one-offs on Touched by an Angel, Numb3rs, Ghost Whisperer, and Voyager.
Born December 30, 1950 — Lewis Shiner, 69. Damn, his Deserted Cities of the Heart novelwas frelling brilliant! And if you’ve not read his Wild Cards fiction, do so now. He also co-wrote with Bob Wayne the eight-issue Time Masters series starring Rip Hunter which I see is on the DC Universe app. Yea! Anyone that’s read the Private Eye Action As You Like It collection of PI stories I see listed on Kindle with Joe Lansdale? It looks interesting.
Born December 30, 1951 — Avedon Carol, 68. She was the 1983 winner of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund to Albacon II in Glasgow, And she was GOH at Wiscon II along with Connie Willis and Samuel R. Delany. She has been nominated for three Hugos as Best Fan Writer. She’s been involved in thirty apas and fanzines according to Fancyclopedia 3.
Born December 30, 1959 — Douglas A. Anderson, 60. The Annotated Hobbit, for which he won the Mythopoeic Award, is one of my favorite popcorn readings. I’m also fond of his Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction which has a lot of great short fiction it, and I recommend his blog Tolkien and Fantasy as it’s one of the better ones on fantasy literature out there. Today he’s saying a few words about Holdstock.
Born December 30, 1976 — Rhianna Pratchett, 43. Daughter of Terry who now runs the intellectual property concerns of her father. She herself is a video game writer including the recent Tomb Raider reboot. For her father, she’s overseen and being involved several years back in The Shepherd’s Crown, the last Discworld novel, to print. She was also with Simon Green the writer of The Watch, the Beeb’s Ankh-Morpork City Watch series. She’s a co-director of Narrativia Limited, a production company which holds exclusive multimedia and merchandising rights to her father’s works following his death. They, of course, helped develop the Good Omens series on Amazon.
Born December 30, 1980 — Eliza Dushku, 39. First genre role was Faith in the Buffyverse. Not surprisingly, she’d star in Whedon’s Dollhouse. I think her Tru Calling series was actually conceptualized better and a more interesting role for her. She voices Selina Kyle, Catwoman, in the animated Batman: Year One which is quite well done and definitely worth watching. She done a fair of other voicework, two of which I’ll single out as of note. One is is the character of Holly Mokri in Torchwood: Web of Lies – view here. The other role is fascinating — The Lady In Glen Cook’s The Black Company series. Here’s the link to that story.
Born December 30, 1986 — Faye Marsay, 33. Shona McCullough In a Twelfth Doctor story, “The Last Christmas”. She also was on A Game of Thrones for several seasons as The Waif. (Who that is I know not as I didn’t watch that series.) She also played Blue Colson in Black Mirror’s “Hated in the Nation” tale. Her theater creds include Hansel & Gretel, Peter Pan and Macbeth — all definitely genre.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump – a superhero joke so obvious you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it first.
…The most recent teardown on our list, this 1937 Cheviot Hills house was the home of author Ray Bradbury for more than 50 years. In January 2015, starchitect Thom Mayne began deconstruction of the house, much to the chagrin of Bradbury fans and local preservationists. Mayne claimed, “I could make no connection between the extraordinary nature of the writer and the incredible un-extraordinariness of the house. It was not just un-extraordinary, but unusually banal.”
In Retrospect: Rowling’s Hugo Award is very likely one of the most controversial in the history of the award – while beloved, the Harry Potter novels have never quite received their due as literature. They are books for children and the series is wildly popular, a combination which is great for success and less great for earning respect (such that it truly matters).
The main thing working against Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for its place in Hugo Award history, though, is that it won the award over A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin (as well as novels from Ken MacLeod, Robert Sawyer, and Nalo Hopkinson). A Storm of Swords is, notably, the third novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire sequence and widely considered the finest novel in not only that series but in Martin’s acclaimed career. To those who care about such things, Martin is considered “core genre”, writing epic fantasy and being a lifetime part of the Worldcon community. Rowling was an outsider who writes children’s books. I’m sure there is a segment of the old guard Worldcon crowd who still has not gotten over Rowling’s win and Martin’s loss….
After first pledging to upend the way people worked, WeWork vowed to change how they lived: WeLive, a sleek dormitory for working professionals with free beer, arcade games in the laundry room and catered Sunday dinners, would spread around the world.
It has not quite turned out that way.
WeLive has not expanded beyond its first two locations and efforts to open sites in India and Israel have collapsed. In addition to long-term rentals, WeLive offers rooms at its only locations, in New York City and Virginia, for nightly stays on hotel sites.
…Now WeLive’s chances of surviving as the We Company tries to recover from its failed initial public offering are slim, said Scott Galloway, a business analyst and professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“I bet WeLive is wonderful for everyone except the shareholders and We,’’ Mr. Galloway said. “There was a total lack of internal controls. Where were the board’s basic questions like, ‘Why are we doing WeLive?’”
The uncertainty about WeLive comes as other co-living companies are thriving and expanding. A London-based company, The Collective, has plans to build a co-living building in Brooklyn, while another company, Common, has more than 12,000 beds under development in multiple cities, including a 600-unit building in Miami.
Constance: Ooh, this is tricky, and actually, Veronica Mars is a good case study here.
Veronica Mars went on as long as it did entirely because of its fandom. In the ’00s, fan mail-in campaigns got it renewed for a second and third season despite low ratings. In 2013, the fan Kickstarter campaign raised over $5 million to pay for the movie’s production budget. This year, the show’s history of intense fan engagement is an enormous part of what led to the Veronica Mars Hulu revival — and in that revival, Veronica’s love interest Logan dies, destroying the ship that large swaths of the fandom were hugely invested in and, with it, their fannish investment in the show.
My impulse when Logan died was to think, “Well, that sucks, but certainly showrunner Rob Thomas is entitled to do whatever he wants with his characters. He doesn’t owe me or his fans anything.” But a number of fans disagreed: Rob Thomas, they said, had taken advantage of their desire to see Veronica and Logan together, using their investment as shippers to leverage not just their time and attention, but the literal dollars out of their pockets. In that case, didn’t he owe them something? Wasn’t killing Logan a betrayal of the contract Thomas had made with the fandom?
To be honest, I can see the argument. When a show’s survival depends this heavily on its fans, the power dynamic between creator and fandom does change dramatically. The Veronica Mars fandom went above and beyond to keep that show coming back again and again, and the showrunner responded by destroying the piece of the show that a huge part of the fandom cared about most. Emotionally, that does feel like a betrayal.
Emily:…I think a lot about a quote from Joss Whedon that I heard when I was a teenager and decided was accurate without a ton of reflection: “Don’t give people what they want; give them what they need.” Of the many bits of storytelling wisdom Whedon has dispensed in interviews over the years, this is the one that has most taken on a life beyond his fandom, because it speaks to something that I think we’re all a little wary of in 2019: anesthetizing art against the horrors of the world so much that it becomes a sort of safe space.
…That rich worldbuilding seen in the first novel is extended and expanded on here. From the nature of magic, to the political structure of the capital (including the true structure of the Queen’s Men), the novel enfolds rich details of the main character’s world. Both Ellisberg and now, Dannsburg come across as distinct, real cities that you can imagine walking down the streets of (although do mind the smell of the first, and all the guards in the second)….
(14) JEOPARDY! On tonight’s Final Jeopardy, contestants
showed they can draw a blank on non-sff literary items, too. Andrew Porter took
Answer: In a New Yorker profile, he said, “Where I like it is out west in Wyoming, Montana, & Idaho, & I like Cuba & Paris.”
Wrong questions: “Who is Kerouac?” and “Who is John Wayne?”
In this episode of Kurzgesagt, they’re talking about building engines powerful enough to move entire stars, dragging their solar systems along with them….
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, N., Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Bill, Alan Baumler, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
The January 1 episode is part one of a two-part story called “Spyfall,” with part two arriving on Sunday, January 5, presumably also at 8 pm. That will be ‘Doctor Who’s regular time slot going forward.
If you’re a ‘Doctor Who’ superfan, BBC and BBC America are teaming up with Fathom Events for a one-time-only screening of both parts of “Spyfall” on the big screen, followed by a LIVE Q&A with Whittaker, Cole, and Gill from the Paley Center for Media in New York. These showings will be held at 600 theaters in the US on January 5. (Tickets go on sale on Friday at FathomEvents.com.)
(3) SMILE FOR THE CAMERA. Kevin Standlee promoted the
Tonopah 2021 Westercon at this weekend’s Loscon.
Team Tonopah welcomed 19 new attending members while we were at Loscon 46 at the LAX Airport Marriott, and talked to many more people to tell them all about our plans for Westercon in Tonopah, Nevada.
(4) KGB READINGS. TheFantastic Fiction at KGB reading
series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Paul Tremblay and
Nathan Ballingrud on Wednesday, December 18 at the KGB Bar. Event starts at 7
p.m. (KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY.)
Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the author of The Cabin at the End of the World, A Head Full of Ghosts, and most recently the short story collection Growing Thingsand Other Stories. His essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly online, and numerous year’s-best anthologies.
Nathan Ballingrud is the author of North American Lake Monsters and Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell. He’s twice won the Shirley Jackson Award, and has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards. His stories have appeared in numerous Best of the Year anthologies. Wounds, a film based on his novella “The Visible Filth,” has recently been released. North American Lake Monsters is in development as an anthology series at Hulu.
The Doppelgänger Gambit by Leigh Killough, 1979, cover by Michael Herring
Herring’s cover captures two key elements of this gripping 21st-century police procedural. The first: the two police officers don’t get along. The second: clothing fashions in this future are somehow even more hideous than real-world 1970s fashions. The cover is true to the work. Detective Janna Brill thinks Maxwell takes unconscionable risks, and these are the clothes described in the novel. (Though I suspect the cops in the novel used holsters.)
Two years ago, Ikea sent designers to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), which created a habitat in the Utah desert that mimics the conditions on the Red Planet. Ikea interior designer Christina Levenborn stayed in the habitat, ultimately creating an Ikea line for small spaces inspired by her stay. But more recently, she used her experience living in the habitat to help researchers outfit the space. She just returned from redecorating the habitat, which now looks brightly lit and neatly organized. In fact, it looks a lot like what you’d see in an Ikea catalog—which is impressive, because the space is exceptionally small and stark.
Sff writer David Levine did a cycle with the MDRS in 2010 and File
770 ran several posts based on his updates, including “Levine Reaches Mars”.
Two external members of the Nobel literature prize committee have quit after criticising the Swedish Academy.
Gun-Britt Sundstrom said the choice of Peter Handke as this year’s winner had been interpreted as if literature stood above politics and she did not agree.
The choice of Handke was criticised because of his vocal support for the Serbs during the 1990s Yugoslav war.
Kristoffer Leandoer said he’d left due to Academy reforms taking too long following a sexual assault scandal.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 2, 1979 — Star Trek comics premiered in syndicated form in the U.S. From 1979 to 1983, the Los Angeles Times Mirror Syndicate produced a daily and Sunday comic strip based upon this series. Larry Niven was among the many writers who did scripts for it. IDW has reprinted them in two volumes, The Newspaper Comics, Volume 1 and The Newspaper Comics, Volume 2.
December 2, 2005 — Aeon Flux premiered. Produced by Gale Hurd, it stars Charlize Theron in the title role. It’s based on the animated Aeon Flux series of the same name created by Peter Chung. It bombed at the box office, was poorly received by critics, and currently has a 9% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
December 2, 2017 – First pizza party in space took place on the International Space Station.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 2, 1913 — Jerry Sohl. Scriptwriter and genre writer who did work for The Twilight Zone (ghostwriting for Charles Beaumont who was seriously ill at the time), Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits and Star Trek. One of his three Trek scripts was the superb “Corbomite Maneuver” episode. (Died 2002.)
Born December 2, 1914 — Ray Walston. Best known of course for playing the lead in My Favorite Martian from 1963 to 1966, alongside co-star Bill Bixby. His later genre appearances would include The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Six Million Dollar Man, Galaxy of Terror, Amazing Stories, Popeye, Friday the 13th: The Series and Addams Family Reunion. He would appear in The Incredible Hulk (in which David Banner was played by Bill Bixby) as Jasper the Magician in an episode called “My Favorite Magician”. (Died 2001.)
Born December 2, 1937 — Brian Lumley, 81. Horror writer who came to distinction in the Seventies writing in the Cthulhu Mythos and by creating his own character Titus Crow. In the Eighties, he created the Necroscope series, which first centered on Speaker to the Dead Harry Keogh. He has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association, and a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Born December 2, 1946 — Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon, which was based on the Russian fairy tale “The Feather of Finist the Falcon”. She was a prolific writer both on her own and in collaboration authors such as Mecedes Lackey (A Cast of Corbies), and Laura Anne Gilman (two Buffyverse novels). I knew her personally as a folklorist first and she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf. Neat lady who died far too soon. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man twenty years ago. (Died 2012.)
Born December 2, 1946 — David Macaulay, 73. British-born American illustrator and writer. Genre adjacent I’d say. Creator of such cool works as Cathedral, The New Way Things Work which has he updated for the computer technology age, and his latest, Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World.
Born December 2, 1952 — OR Melling, 67. One of her favorite authors is Alan Garner whose The Owl Service is a frequent read of hers she tells me. As for novels by her that I’d recommend, the Chronicles of Faerie series is quite excellent. For more adult fare, her People of the Great Journey is quite good.
Born December 2, 1968 — Lucy Liu, 51. She was Joan Watson on Elementary in its impressive seven-year run. Her other genre role, and it’s been long running, has been voicing Tinkermist in the Disney Fairies animated franchise. I kid you not. She’s had a few genre one-offs on The X-Files, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and the Rise: Blood Hunter film, but not much overall.
Popular Edwardian novelist and inventor of the concept of Time Travel Herbert George Wells has appeared in central London this morning, intending to punch whoever made the BBC adaptation of War of the Worlds squarely on the nose.
Wells, who believed the chances of anyone making a boring adaptation of his masterpiece were a million to one, said ‘but still, it’s done’.
“There was a great disturbance in the… oh, I’m sure you’ll come up with a word for it”, said Wells. “As if millions of my fans voices cried out ‘what the heck’.”
Tamara Wilhite: What are you currently working on?
Louis Antonelli: Well, kind of following up the previous question, since the Sad Puppies in 2015 there’s been a pretty ironclad blacklist in the major science fiction magazine and publishers against anyone who isn’t an intolerant doctrinaire left-wing asshole. Nobody denies it anymore, because such assertions only gets the horse laugh.
The only major book publisher that judges authors impartially is Baen; Analog is the one major magazine that seems to pick stories based on merit and not the author’s politics and lifestyle….
Eighty million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period, Mongolia’s Gobi Desert was a dinosaur’s paradise of vast valleys, freshwater lakes and a humid climate.
Mammal-eating velociraptors, lizard-hipped sauropods and spike-armoured ankylosaurs could have been spotted roaming in what are now the Martian red sandstone spires of Bayanzag’s Flaming Cliffs.
These prehistorically favourable conditions make the Gobi Desert the largest dinosaur fossil reservoir in the world.
Over almost 100 years of palaeontological research in the Gobi, more than 80 genera have been found. But for many people living there, this scientific heritage remains unknown.
“Putting a fence up is not protection; protection is people’s knowledge,” Mongolian palaeontologist Bolortsetseg Minjin explains as we wind through the Flaming Cliffs in search of signs of fossil poaching.
A tiger has undertaken the longest walk ever recorded in India, travelling some 1,300km (807 miles) in five months.
Experts believe the two-and-a-half-year-old male is possibly in search of prey, territory or a mate.
The tiger, which is fitted with a radio collar, left its home in a wildlife sanctuary in the western state of Maharashtra in June.
It was then tracked travelling back and forth over farms, water and highways, and into a neighbouring state.
So far, the tiger has come into conflict with humans only once, when it “accidentally injured” one person who was part of a group that entered a thicket under which it was resting.
(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watched tonight’s Jeopardy!
with wrapped attention….
Category: Literary Works of the 1920s.
Answer: “Jane Webb Loudon wrote the 1st novel about one of these creatures, including the line, ‘Weak, feeble worm! Exclaimed Cheops.'”
Wrong question: “What is a Sphinx?”
Correct question: “What is a Mummy?”
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The
Mushroom Hunters” on YouTube is a poem by Neil Gaiman read by Amanda
Palmer, with music by Jherek Bischoff.
[Thanks to Camestros Felapton (Felapton Towers, Bortsworth, Bortsworthshire),
John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Mike
Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]