(1) OUT OF THE FRIDGE. Tom Nicholson, in “Harrison Ford In ‘Indiana Jones 5’ Is The Tragedy America Needs Right Now” in Esquire, says that Harrison Ford has agreed to be in another Indiana Jones movie, and speculates on what sort of Indiana Jones film that would be given that given Ford’s age (77). This film would take place in 1970.
…Let’s take a step back. At 77, Ford apparently hasn’t quite completed the valedictory tour of his most beloved roles which began back in 2008 with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, continued with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 and rounded off with Blade Runner 2049 in 2017. During that run it felt like Ford was being very savvy in using Rick Dekkard, Han Solo and Indy to cement his legacy and remind younger audiences that he wasn’t always a man badly CGI’d into the fight scene in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
(2) RAGTIME GAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Finally saw The Rise of Skywalker.
Scenes we hadn’t expected to see included:
- Jar-Jar Binks’ daughter showing as the new Darth Vader. (Helmet problems, of course, ears ended up dangling out from visor, tssk!)
- The Force Ghost of Yoda does a comedy song routine, including some action riffs from Singing in the Rain and Make ‘Em Laugh. Using lightsaber as a cane/umbrella was inspired!
What were your (non-spoiler) favorites?
(3) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 6 to make your voice heard: “Uncanny Celebrates Reader Favorites of 2019!”.
We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2019. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)
The poll will be open from January 9 to February 6, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!
A snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of the poll!
So please spread the word! And don’t forget, EVERY VOTE COUNTS!
(4) IT’S IN THE RNA. Romantic Novelists’ Association released the shortlists for the 2020 Romantic Novel Awards on February 3. [Via Locus Online.]
The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award:
- The Girl at the Window, Rowan Coleman, Ebury Press, Penguin Random House
- The Ghost Garden, Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead, Totally Bound
- Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, Ruth Hogan, Two Roads
- The Hotel Where We Met, Belinda Jones, Independently published
- The Stone’s Heart, Jessica Thorne, Bookouture
The awards will be presented in London on March 2.
(5) WIKIPEDIA SPOTLIGHTS FALL’S ‘HELICOPTER’ STORY. Rhetorical question Do very many short stories have their own Wiki article? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Sexually_Identify_as_an_Attack_Helicopter
This seems to have popped up in a hurry, and was promptly featured on Wikipedia’s front page (see last item):
(6) I.D.O.U. Brian Keene weighs in about “The Only Thing An Author Owes”.
…As a public figure, the contract between an author and a reader is as follows:
Author writes the book. Reader purchases and reads the book.
That’s it. That’s the sum total. Purchasing a book or wanting to be an aspiring author doesn’t entitle you access to an author’s social media any more than it entitles you to sleep in their bedroom at night. Social media is necessary marketing for authors, but that doesn’t mean they have to engage with unpleasantness. Some do. In the past, I often have. But I’m older, and hypertension is a thing, and quite frankly, I don’t need the bullshit. If I invite you into my living room, am I expected to sit there and let you call me an “arrogant egotistical asshole with sycophants surrounding” me simply because you shared a link to my podcast a few days ago, or because you bought a book by me at some point?
I don’t block people for politics. I don’t block them for what they like or dislike, or for who they follow. But if I feel someone is being purposely antagonistic or ignorant, or if I think they’re the latest in a very, very, very, very long line of geniuses whose beginning and ending marketing plan is, “I’ll pick a fight with Brian Keene/Nick Mamatas/Wrath James White/insert other name here and that will get me noticed” (a ploy so old, by the way, that Maurice Broaddus wrote about it way back in 2005), or if I think they have the potential to join in on those shenanigans, then yeah, I block them. It’s better for my mental health, and it’s definitely better for my blood pressure.
(7) THE ZINES OF ’44. Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari helps voters decide for themselves what deserves Retro-Hugo this year. http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Retro_Hugos1944.html
In support of the Retro Hugos project for CoNZealand, we’ve added an alphabetical list of 1944 fanzines. It is the largest list of 1944 fanzines that we could compile. We have linked, both from our site and others, all the zines we can find to give you the ability to read what was going on in 1944. We will link to additional zines as we find them, and are also still scanning more ourselves. If you know of appropriate materials not on the list, please let us know. We hope this will give you some ability to judge the 1944 materials first hand. Much of it may not seem of significant quality to us today, but it gives context and the ability to compare the writers and editors of 1944, rather than just relying on their later reputations.”…Joe Siclari
(8) CLI-FI FICTION CONTEST. The Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative launched their third global climate fiction writing contest yesterday. The Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest 2020 is taking submissions until April 15. Full guidelines at the link.
Inspired by the incredible international response to our climate fiction contests in 2016 and 2018, we are proud to announce our third contest in 2020—a momentous year for climate action, and an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine how humans will live on this planet in the future.
Work will be selected and judged by Claire Vaye Watkins, a Guggenheim Fellow, winner of The Story Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and author of Gold Fame Citrus, a climate fiction novel that was named a best book of 2015 by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and NPR. Claire will join an interdisciplinary group of judges with expertise in climate science, sustainability, creative writing, and environmental literature.
All genres are welcome. The author of the winning story will receive a $1000 prize, and nine finalists will receive $100 prizes. The winning story and finalists will be published in an anthology by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University.
(9) HEMMING AWARD NOMINEES SOUGHT. The Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF) is taking entries in the Norma K Hemming Award for works published in 2019. Submit items here through February 29.
Designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work, the Norma K Hemming Award is now open for entries.
The award is open to short fiction, novellas, novels, anthologies, collections, graphic novels and stage plays, and makes allowances for serialised work. Entry is free for all works, and entries may be provided to the judges in print or digital format.
Two prizes will be given, one for short fiction (up to 17,500 words) and one award for long work (novellas, novels, collections, anthologies, graphic novels and play scripts), with a cash prize and citation awarded.
Nominations are open to all eligible work produced in 2019.
“We encourage publishers and creators to carefully consider their work from the eligible period,” said award administrator Tehani Croft. “It is our goal to see all eligible material considered by the jurors. It is important to us that every person has the opportunity to see themselves reflected in fiction, and we hope that the Norma can have some part to play in making works dealing in themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in speculative fiction more visible.”
(10) CLARK OBIT. Bestselling thriller author Mary Higgins Clark died January 31 at 92. The LA Times notice ends —
Married since 1996 to former Merrill Lynch Futures Chief Executive John J. Conheeney, she remembered well the day she said goodbye to hard times. It was in April of 1977, and her agent had told her that Simon & Schuster was offering $500,000 for the hardcover to her third novel, “A Stranger Is Watching,” and that the publisher Dell was paying $1 million for the paperback. She had been running her own script production company during the day and studying for a philosophy degree at Fordham University at night, returning home to New Jersey in an old car with more than 100,000 miles on it.
“As I drove onto the Henry Hudson Parkway, the tailpipe and muffler came loose and began dragging on the ground. For the next 21 miles, I kur-plunked, kur-plunked, all the way home,” she wrote in her memoir. “People in other cars kept honking and beeping, obviously sure that I was either too stupid or too deaf to hear the racket.
“The next day I bought a Cadillac!”
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- February 4, 1983 — Videodrome premiered. It was written and directed by David Cronenberg, with a cast of James Woods, Sonja Smits, and Debbie Harry. It was the first film by Cronenberg to get Hollywood backing and it bombed earning back only two million dollars of its nearly six million budget. In spite of that, critics and audience goers alike found it to a good film. Today it is considered his best film by many, and it holds a sterling 80% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 4, 1922 — William Phipps. He started off his genre career by being in both The War of The Worlds and Invaders from Mars. He’d later be in Cat-Women of the Moon, The Snow Creature, The Evil of Frankenstein, and the Dune series. He’d have one-offs in Batman, Green Hornet, The Munsters, Wild Wild West and a lead role in the Time Express series which would last four episodes according IMDB. (Died 2018.)
- Born February 4, 1925 — Russell Hoban. Author of a number of genre novel of which the best by far is Riddley Walker. Indeed, ISFDB lists some fifteen such novels by him, so I’m curious how he is as a genre writer beyond Riddley Walker. (Died 2011.)
- Born February 4, 1936 — Gary Conway, 84. Best remembered I’d say for starring in Irwin Allen‘s Land of the Giants. You can see the opening episode here. He was also in How to Make a Monster, a late Fifties horror film which I’m delighted to say that you can watch here. He’s the Young Frankenstein in it.
- Born February 4, 1940 — George A. Romero. He’s got an impressive listing form the Dead films, I count seven of them, to Knightriders, which is truly genre adjacent at best, and one of my favorites of his, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Oh, and he wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as Stan Lee, but he did show up in at least seven of his films. (Died 2017.)
- Born February 4, 1940 — John Schuck, 80. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He guest starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn in “The Maquis: Part II”, on Star Trek: Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes. Oh, and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today. Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns?
- Born February 4, 1959 — Pamelyn Ferdin, 60. She was in the “And the Children Shall Lead” episode of Trek. She’ll show up in The Flying Nun (as two different characters), voicing a role in The Cat in The Hat short, Night Gallery, Sealab 2020 (another voice acting gig), Shazam! and Project UFO. She’d have a main role in Space Academy, the Jonathan Harris failed series as well.
- Born February 4, 1961 — Neal Asher, 59. I’ve been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I’m listening to The Line War right now and it’s typically filled with a mix of outrageous SF concepts (Dyson spheres in the middle of a hundred thousand year construction cycles) and humans who might not be human (Ian Cormac is back again). As I said last year, h the sort of writer that I think drives our Puppies to madness — literate pulp SF pumped out fast that readers like.
- Born February 4, 1962 — Thomas Scott Winnett. Locus magazine editorial assistant and reviewer from 1989 to 1994. He worked on Locus looks at books and Books received as well. In addition, he wrote well over a hundred review reviews for Locus. He died of AIDS-related pneumonia. (Died 2004.)
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- Farcus shows the origins of empire building.
(14) WADE IN. Find out what’s behind the new novel Mazes of Power in “The Big Idea: Juliette Wade” at Whatever.
This is the story of a very old, and very big idea. When I first had it, I was thirteen years old, and the idea was so big that I couldn’t even wrap my mind around it. It was the idea for a world of cavern cities, where families were restricted in their professions, and about conflicts of power… but until I’d turned this idea over hundreds of times, over years, it always seemed out of my grasp. I learned about anthropology, and added a new social awareness to my idea, and realized it was for a work of sociological science fiction. I studied linguistics, and added that, too. I tried to write a story about it, knew it was wrong, and learned more, and wrote it again. I concentrated hard on learning how language and the world around us reflect our concepts of our social selves, and wrote it again.
Until it stopped being wrong, and became the world of Varin….
(15) TRUE GRIT. Dune and The Martian are two of the recommendations on Penguin Random House’s “Books to Read on a Desert Island”, which makes an unintentionally humorous kind of sense….
So you found yourself stranded on a desert island, what book do you wish you had with you? More realistically, you’re sitting on a long plane flight or waiting for an appointment, but the question still applies! We’ve suggested a few fiction and nonfiction books below that will have you contemplating life or forgetting reality.
(16) DO NOT COLLECT $200. Vanity Fair replays the crime – and no, the culprit wasn’t the Hamburglar: “McMillions: The Stranger-Than-Fiction Story of the $24-Million McDonald’s Monopoly Theft”
…But in 2000, the FBI got an anonymous tip about an “Uncle Jerry” rigging the McDonald’s competition. The organization launched an investigation that would uncover the fact that many of the winners—despite the out-of-state addresses they listed—actually lived within a 25-mile radius of the lakefront home Jacobson owned. According to the Daily Beast, “25 agents across the country…tracked 20,000 phone numbers, and recorded 235 cassette tapes of telephone calls.” McDonald’s even sent an employee undercover to help the FBI stage a fake TV commercial campaign—Argo–style—to get the fraudulent winners to incriminate themselves on camera. There were raids. And in 2001, in a scene tailor-made for the third act of an action thriller, McDonald’s launched another Monopoly game—knowing that their game had been compromised—because the FBI needed more evidence.
(17) EXTRAORDINARY. Adler #1 will be released in comic shops tomorrow. “Irene Adler is on a mission to take down Sherlock’s greatest nemesis, Moriarty!”
It’s the League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen, as Adler teams up with a host of famous female faces from history and literature to defeat the greatest criminal mastermind of all time!
Written by World Fantasy Award Winner Lavie Tidhar, with art by Paul McCaffrey (TMNT).
(18) VAMPIRE PAPERWORK. The AP reports “Tulane acquires archive of “Vampire” author Anne Rice”.
Tulane University has acquired the complete archives of bestselling author Anne Rice, who was born and raised in New Orleans and whose books, including “Interview with the Vampire,” often drew inspiration from her hometown.
The collection was a gift from Stuart Rose and the Stuart Rose Family Foundation to the university’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, the university said in a statement.
“That Tulane has provided a home for my papers is exciting and comforting,” Rice said in the statement. “All my novels — in a career spanning more than 40 years — have been profoundly influenced by the history and beauty of New Orleans, and by its unique ambience in which my imagination flourished even in early childhood.”
Rice has written 30 novels. She moved to California to attend university and has spent much of her life since then in California, according to her biography. But New Orleans has played a central role in much of her fiction.
(19) AUTISM RESEARCH. “Researchers Link Autism To A System That Insulates Brain Wiring”.
Scientists have found a clue to how autism spectrum disorder disrupts the brain’s information highways.
The problem involves cells that help keep the traffic of signals moving smoothly through brain circuits, a team reported Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The team found that in both mouse and human brains affected by autism, there’s an abnormality in cells that produce a substance called myelin.
That’s a problem because myelin provides the “insulation” for brain circuits, allowing them to quickly and reliably carry electrical signals from one area to another. And having either too little or too much of this myelin coating can result in a wide range of neurological problems.
For example, multiple sclerosis occurs when the myelin around nerve fibers is damaged. The results, which vary from person to person, can affect not only the signals that control muscles, but also the ones involved in learning and thinking.
The finding could help explain why autism spectrum disorders include such a wide range of social and behavioral features, says Brady Maher, a lead investigator at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and an associate professor in the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
“Myelination could be a problem that ties all of these autism spectrum disorders together,” Maher says. And if that’s true, he says, it might be possible to prevent or even reverse the symptoms using drugs that affect myelination.
“If we get to these kids really early, we might be able to change their developmental trajectory and improve their outcomes,” Maher says.
(20) SOMEONE’S KNOCKING AT MISTER ROGERS’ DOOR. “’Exploding meteor’ drops out of night sky in Derby” — short video.
A man’s doorbell camera has captured a celestial light show as what is thought to be a meteor dropped through the night sky in Derby.
Gary Rogers, 52, who captured the footage about 23:30 GMT on Monday, said he was amazed and felt lucky to have seen it.
Experts at the National Space Centre in Leicester said they believe it was a bolide – a bright meteor that explodes in the atmosphere.
Rob Dawes, chairman of nearby Sherwood Observatory, said the brightness suggested it was larger than a normal meteor.
He said: “[Mr Rogers] was very lucky to get such a nice bright one. But you’d be surprised how many of these do come into the atmosphere at any time of year.”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]