(1) ON THE FRONT OF F&SF. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Nov/Dec 2020 cover art by David A. Hardy is for “Skipping Stones in the Dark” by Amman Sabet.
(2) SOME TRICKS, SOME TREATS. A new trailer — Season 2 of The Mandalorian streams October 30 on Disney+.
(3) WATCH THE CHESLEYS. Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists President Sara Felix reminds everyone, “The Chesley award ceremony is this weekend on line in conjunction with IX Arts, Saturday October 24th at 7 pm EST.”
The Warner siblings are back and better than ever in the official trailer for Hulu‘s Animaniacs reboot. True to form, Yakko (Rob Paulsen), Wackko (Jess Harnell), and Dot (Tress MacNeille) are very much aware of how much time has passed since the original series was canceled in the late 1990s.
They’re right at home in a post-Deadpool world and have a lot to catch up on, like mobile tablets, quinoa wraps, and, most importantly, Queen Bae. Meanwhile, Pinky (also voiced by Paulsen) and the Brain (Maurice LaMarche) are still trying to take over the world, but must adapt to the modern woes of catfishing and Instagram likes.
(5) SCHOLARSHIP IN 2020. Livia Gershon’s article “The Self-Styled Sci-Fi Supermen of the 1940s” at JSTOR Daily is filed with the tagline: “Way before there were stans, there were slans. Too bad about their fascist utopian daydreams!” The author is eager to slap the fascist label on fans – and seems ignorant of the fact that that some of the people who lived in the Michigan “Slan Shack” were gay, and that their idea of a utopia free of persecution might not really match up with the author’s fascist stereotype. And treating Claude Degler as a representative of mainstream fandom is an idea as nutty as Degler was.
Pilsch writes that science fiction experienced a “superman boom” starting around 1939. This was driven largely by John W. Campbell Jr., editor of Astounding Stories. Campbell editorialized about the real-world possibilities of human enhancement. He also published many stories about super-human beings. Most notable among these was Slan, a novel by A.E. van Vogt. Amazing Stories serialized Slan in 1940—two years after Superman himself had debuted in Action Comics. In van Vogt’s story, the regular people of Earth persecute “slans,” genetically advanced humans.
The book gave the science fiction–reading community a new slogan: “fans are slans.”
Pilsch writes that some fans took this concept very seriously, imagining themselves as a group distinct from the rest of humanity. Among them were Al and Abby Lu Ashley, who proposed creating a “Slan Center”—a settlement as big as a city block, with homes, a library, and a space for publishing fanzines. Describing the concept, the Ashleys wrote that “Intellectually, fans far exceed the ordinary person.”
Dal Coger, a fan who was involved in the initial planning, explained later that “everyone had experienced the raised eyebrows of mundanes when you tried to discuss science fictional ideas with them. Slan Center would make it possible to be openly fannish any time we were away from work.”
While the Slan Center never became reality, the Ashleys did found an eight-room fan house in 1943. Those who moved into the Ashleys’ “Slan Shack” included fan artist Jack Wiedenbeck, fanzine publisher Walt Liebscher, and science fiction writer E.E. “Doc” Smith. Other fan houses popped up, including Tendril House in Los Angeles, the Ivory Birdbath in Massachusetts, and the Futurian Fortress in New York….
(6) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
2000 — Twenty years ago at Chicon 2000, Vernor Vinge‘s A Deepness in the Sky won the Hugo for Best Novel. The novel is a loose prequel (set twenty thousand years earlier) to A Fire Upon the Deep. Published by Tor Books in 1999, it decidedly beat out Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign with the rest of the final ballot being Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, Greg Bear‘s Darwin’s Radio and J. K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It would also win the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Prometheus Award along with being nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke, Nebula, Locus, BFA and HOMer awards.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 21, 1772 – Samuel Coleridge. This complicated genius wrote, among much else, in 54 lines of poetry, “Kubla Khan”, one of the finest fantasies. See also the Raymond F. Jones story “The Person From Porlock”; C’s title may lie behind the Theodore Sturgeon story “The Skills of Xanadu”. Poet, critic, philosopher. Coined the expression “suspension of disbelief”. (Died 1834) [JH]
Born October 21, 1904 – Edmond Hamilton. Seven novels of the Interstellar Patrol; two of Star Kings; three of Starwolf; a score of Captain Future; a dozen more. Two hundred fifty shorter stories; see The Best of Edmond Hamilton edited posthumously by his widow Leigh Brackett. For DC Comics he particularly wrote Batman and Superman; co-created Batwoman (1956). He reached far. (Died 1977) [JH]
Born October 21, 1914 — Martin Gardner. He was one of leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. The Annotated Alice, which incorporated the text of Carroll’s two Alice books is still a bestseller. He was considered the doyen (your word to learn today) of American puzzlers. And, to make him even more impressive, in 1999 Magic magazine named Gardner one of the “100 Most Influential Magicians of the Twentieth Century”. Cool! (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born October 21, 1929 — Ursula Le Guin. She called herself a “Narrative American”. And she most emphatically did not consider herself to be a genre writer instead preferring be known as an “American novelist”. Oh, she wrote genre fiction with quite some brilliance, be it the Earthsea sequence, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, or Always Coming Home. Her upbringing as the daughter of two academics, one who was an anthropologist and the other who had a graduate degree in psychology, showed in her writing. And the home library of the family had a lot of SF in it. If you’re interested in the awards she won in her career, she garnered the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award, each at least once and she was also awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters It won’t surprise you that she was made a Grandmaster of Science Fiction, one of a few women writers to take the top honor in the genre. (Died 2018.) (CE)
Born October 21, 1933 — Georgia Brown. She’s the actress who portrayed Helena Rozhenko, foster mother of Worf, in the Next Gen’s “Family” and “New Ground” episodes. She was Frau Freud in The Seven-Percent Solution, and was Rachel in “The Musgrave Ritual” episode of the Nigel Stock fronted Sherlock Holmes series. (Died 1992.) (CE)
Born October 21, 1936 – Ken Cheslin. Famously published Fables of Irish Fandom (with John Berry); The Bleary Eyes (about the Goon Defective Agency; JB was Goon Bleary); a second ed’n of Vincent Clarke’s tributezine Atom, and one of his own, Atom 2000 – to this day we still quarrel over writing the fanartist Arthur Thomson’s signature and nickname as “ATom” or “Atom”. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born October 21, 1945 — Everett McGill, 75. Stilgar in the first Dune film. Earlier in his career, he was a Noah in Quest for Fire. Later on, he’s Ed Killifer in License to Kill, and on Twin Peaks, he’s Big Ed Hurley. He was also Rev. Lowe in Stephen King’s Silver Bullet, a werewolf flick that actually has a decent rating of 55% at Rotten Tomatoes! (CE)
Born October 21, 1955 – Nancy Wirsig McClure, 65. Revived, ran, and was Master of Ceremonies for the Masquerade costume competition at ICON (Iowa City); Fan Guest of Honor (with husband Martin McClure), ICON 18. Originated, ran, and MC’d Masquerades at Demicon (Des Moines). Con committees at Minicon, edited the Bozo Bus Tribune at Minicon 30. Moved to Portland; OryCon committees. Runs a design & illustration business; designed e.g. this OryCon flier, this Bruce Schneier book; see here. [JH]
Born October 21, 1956 — Carrie Fisher. In addition to the original Star Wars trilogy, Star Wars Holiday Special, The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, she was in Amazon Women on the Moon, The Time Guardian, Hook, Scream 3, and A Midsummer Night’s Rave. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born October 21, 1958 – Julie Bell, 62. Graphic artist in her own right and with husband Boris Vallejo. Three Chesleys (one with him). Three artbooks and eight with BV. A hundred covers, four hundred interiors. Here is Stonehenge. Here is Falling Stars. Here is Beguilement.Here is Soft as Steel. Also horses and other wildlife. [JH]
Born October 21, 1973 — Sasha Roiz, 47. I know him only as Captain Sean Renard on the excellent Grimm series but he’s also been Sam Adama on Caprica as well. And he’s also been on Warehouse 13 in the recurring role of Marcus Diamond. He even showed up once on Lucifer as U.S. Marshal Luke Reynolds. (CE)
Born October 21, 1974 – Chris Garcia, 46. Fanziner and immeasurable being. Edited Tightbeam and The National Fantasy Fan, served as President of the N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Federation). Hugo for The Drink Tank. Nova for Journey Planet (with James Bacon). Also Claims Department; Exhibition Hall. TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate, his report Rockets Across the Waters. Fan Guest of Honor at SFContario 3, ConQuest 44, Westercon 67, Baycon 2018. He and I were separated at birth; he got the hair. [JH]
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Close To Home shows how one witch is adapting to the latest technology.
(9) IN DYING COLOR. On Bruce Sterling’s Tumblr today he has a number of crayon Lovecraftian illustrations “by a young Robert Bloch”.
Lovecraftian illustrations by a young Robert Bloch, (original Cthulhu Mythos fanboy, later famous as the author of Psycho) doodled in crayon on various notebooks and pieces of cardboard between 1933 and 1937.
Here’s one —
(10) CHOW CALL. Pirate Stew by Neil Gaiman and Illustrated by Chris Riddell goes on sale December 1.
Meet LONG JOHN McRON, SHIP’S COOK . . . and the most unusual babysitter you’ve ever seen.
Long John has a whole crew of wild pirates in tow, and—for one boy and his sister—he’s about to transform a perfectly ordinary evening into a riotous adventure beneath a pirate moon. It’s time to make some PIRATE STEW.
Marvelously silly and gloriously entertaining, this tale of pirates, flying ships, doughnut feasts and some rather magical stew is perfect for all pirates, both young and old.
Today’s politico-ethical question is easily answered. Yes, science fiction author John C Wright should be allowed to vote in whatever nation he chooses to live in, because people who are held accountable to laws should have a say in those laws AND also the legitimacy of government should derive from the broad consent of the governed….
But why is this a question? Because John C. Wright posed it himself in “It is Time to Reconsider”, although it’s not his own franchise but that of women, that he has doubts about:
Is it time to reconsider the 19th Amendment?
The argument for female suffrage is that women are not more prone to bouts of emotionalism than men, and hence is it equally worthwhile, as the whole, to consult with them over the conduct and control of public business.
Unfortunately, it is evident that there are but rare and few men in the current generation show any particular manly or masculine virtues which would entitle them to a say in the public business, if stoicism, reason, and virtue were preconditions for the franchise.
The argument against female suffrage is that voting is a peaceful substitute for revolution, wherein the less numerous party, seeing himself outnumbered, agreed without bloodshed to abide by the vote of the more numerous. Women, being largely less ready, willing, or able to take up arms than men, have no place in these military questions.….
Yes, if only the legislators who ratified the 19th Amendment – virtually all of whom were men, by the way – had been aided by the prophetic vision of that six-time Hugo nominee and Grand Inquisitor of the Evil Legion of Evil, John C. Wright.
(12) PKD’S POLITICAL ADVICE. Meanwhile, back in 1952, Philip K. Dick wrote to the editors of the Oakland Tribune naming his candidate to save the country:
Editor: Unless we elect Justice William O. Douglas President this country will surely continue to drift toward militarism and uniformity of thought. Only Justice Douglas seems to realize that our military outlook is fast destroying our liberty and economy. We must see that he is nominated and elected, or America may become another Spain. Governments all over the world are gaining in diabolical powers; with a great liberal President this trend might be reversed. . . .
Can science fiction save us in our present political and cultural circumstances? Is it a useful teaching tool to help us think about how to solve our present problems, or model better ways of living?
Well, it’s the latter, for sure. Whether it’s the former depends on whether we pay attention. But let me answer a little more at length.
If you think of science fiction as just a kind of modeling exercise, everybody is a science fiction writer in their own lives. You make plans based on modeling in your mind. When you’re feeling hopeful, you have a kind of utopian plan: if you do these things, you’ll get to a good place. And then when you’re afraid, you have these worries that if you do these things, you’ll get to a bad place. So the fundamental exercise of science fiction is a very natural human thing. And then when it gets written down in long narrative forms, like science fiction novels, everybody recognizes the exercises involved there. Although when I say that, I realize that, actually, lots of people don’t like to read science fiction, so they’re not recognizing the way books are the same as what they do for their own lives. That’s surprising to me, but it happens a lot….
It’s a beetle that can withstand bird pecks, animal stomps and even being rolled over by a Toyota Camry. Now scientists are studying what the bug’s crush-resistant shell could teach them about designing stronger airplanes and buildings.
“This beetle is super tough,” said Purdue University civil engineer Pablo Zavattieri, who was among a group of researchers that ran over the insect with a car in the name of science.
So, how does the seemingly indestructible insect do it?
The species — the aptly named diabolical ironclad beetle — owes its might to an unusual armor that is layered and pieced together like a jigsaw, according to the study by Zavattieri and his colleagues published in Nature on Wednesday. Its design, they say, could help inspire more durable structures and vehicles.
(15) THE LAND AND THE DRAGON ARE ONE. Restore peace. Find the last dragon. See the new trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon, in theaters March 2021.
Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Star Wars: Squadrons” on YouTube, Fandom Games says in this game “you can fly an X-Wing and it makes a “pu-pu’ sound. What more do you want?”
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, Bill, Andrew Porter, Gordon Van Gelder, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, N., Cat Eldridge, Sara Felix, Martin Morse Wooster, Dennis Howard, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
…Minneapolis property owners have complained that the policy was slowing the pace of recovery and turning piles of debris into public safety hazards. The situation is different in St. Paul, which has been issuing demolition permits without requiring the prepayment of the second half of 2020 property taxes, which are due in October.
…“This will remove one small roadblock, but I am not sure how much it will actually speed up the entire rebuilding process,” said Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores in Minneapolis, which were destroyed in the riots. “You are still going to have the problem of a whole lot of demolition permits being handled by people who are working at home because of COVID-19.”
Blyly, who hired a contractor to remove the rubble from his lot a month ago, still doesn’t have his demolition permit, even though he paid his taxes last week.
Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson said he will introduce legislation at Friday’s council meeting that would require city officials to expedite the approval process for riot-damaged properties and waive all administrative fees.
“We should be processing their applications first, in front of everyone else’s, and they shouldn’t be subject to any unnecessary steps that are slowing stuff down,” Johnson said. “We need to bend over backward and do everything possible to help them with rebuilding.”
(2) F&SF COVER. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2020 cover art is by Bob Eggleton for “The Shadows of Alexandrium” by David Gerrold.
(3) QUITE A FASCINATING ARTICLE. In “My First Thriller: David Morrell” on CrimeReads, Rick Pullen interviews Morrell, who explains that sf writer and Penn State English professor Philip Klass not only inspired Morrell to find the path he needed to complete First Blood (whose protagonist was John Rambo) but also introduced Morrell to his first agent.
…He read the show’s credits, noting that Stirling Silliphant was the creator. His local library found the address for the “Route 66” production company (the beginning of Morrell’s love affair with libraries). He mailed Silliphant a hand-written letter, saying “I want to be you.” Surprisingly, Silliphant wrote back with a single-spaced, two-page letter within the week. (The framed letter now hangs in Morrell’s office.)
“I wish I had some specific advice for you or encouragement,” wrote Silliphant, “but what I have to say is certainly not new. Keep writing…eventually if you have something of promise to say, someone will help you or hire you.”
…While at Penn State, he met science fiction writer Philip Klass, better known by the pseudonym William Tenn, who taught the basics of fiction writing.
“It was astonishing that a university would hire a real writer. He did not have a degree. He was the backbone of their creative writing department…I couldn’t get into his classes. They filled up right away. So Klass agreed to meet me during office hours.”
To test Morrell, Klass instructed him to turn in a short story every week, and every week he did.
Eventually Klass summoned Morrell to his office and begged him to stop writing fiction. “You’re terrible,” he said.
“He was right,” Morrell says. “I was writing bad Joyce and Faulkner.”
From Klass, he learned “every writer has a dominant emotion.” Morrell’s was fear. Maybe if he wrote honestly about fear, Klass told him, he would stop writing all of his horrible imitation fiction.
“I took him at his word.”…
(4) HELP NEEDED. Filer Lenora Rose hopes someone can lend a hand:
I have a writer’s issue to do with language — specifically semi-Nordic language — and I think this might be the right place to ask for help?
So I’m dealing with a fantasy setting that is used for the course of at least three books. One of the countries major characters come from speaks something I have been rendering, for the purpose of getting through the rough drafts, as quasi-Nordic — sometimes actually looking up words in Swedish or Norwegian or Icelandic and picking the one that sounds the least like English, and also going a Germanic style take two or three words and squish them together. It didn’t help that I decided they were the culture where the names of humans mostly translate to other nouns (Snow, Willow, etc) and the names of the non-human sapient race are usually those Germanic-style squished-together compounds (Bright Witty Magpie is one, as is Stream in Spring Flood). The protagonist is a multi-linguist and cares about this stuff.
Well, the story is now getting into final draft stages in every other way, and the placeholder language is still something that would almost certainly give any linguist or speaker of any of the related Scandinavian languages creeping horrors.
It certainly bothers me, because in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” way, I’m terrified I am going to end up, (as one author did when inventing names she thought sounded Welsh), naming someone a slang term for women’s hygiene products or something similarly terrible.
So basically I need a consult with someone who speaks a related language and would be willing to make non-painful translations or naming suggestions, or a linguist to do the same. *I am assuming this is something where I should pay for their time in some way*, at least if it goes past an initial consultation.
If anyone is willing to help, please relay your email through OGH – mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
….With 2020 seeing the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, leading to many conversations about inclusivity, [George R.R.] Martin’s mispronunciations have taken on a deeper meaning.
“The backlash is absolutely justified,” said Hugo award winner and British fantasy author Jeanette Ng. “But I am sometimes frustrated that it gets reduced down to an anger about him mispronouncing names rather than this deeper tension between competing visions of the genre and the award…Whilst the mispronunciations matter, they are ultimately a symptom of that deeper disconnect of what the [awards are meant to do].”
(6) ASFA SPONSORS BIPOC MEMBERSHIPS. The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists is offering “Sponsored Memberships For BIPOC”. Donations have raised the number available to 15.
In recognition of systemic biases against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & other People of Color) both within the Speculative Fiction & Fantasy communities and without, the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists intends to sponsor memberships in the organization for BIPOC artists. These sponsorships will be open to up-and-coming artists as well as established artists, and each membership will convey voting rights in the annual Chesley Awards in addition to periodic opportunities to exhibit in shows with other ASFA artists. Additionally, ASFA encourages its BIPOC members to participate in our Board elections, as candidates for Board positions and as voters, to ensure that the organization’s representatives are truly representative of our membership and our aspirations for the community overall.
The site of America’s first nuclear meltdown — and subsequent cover-up — in the picturesque hills of Ventura County may soon join Hearst Castle, the cable cars of San Francisco, and the Santa Barbara Mission as an official landmark in the National Register of Historic Places.
In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S. government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana Field Laboratory for official listing asa traditional cultural property.
…Hidden within the chaparral and rocky peaks of the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Field Lab conducted research that was critical to the nation’s Cold War ambitions, yet toxic to the Earth. The partial meltdown released radioactive gasses that the public was never warned about, and spent rocket fuel, heavy metals and other toxins contaminated the soil and groundwater.
…Now, NASA and a coalition of Native American groups have proposed the area be designated a traditional cultural district. The move has been opposed by critics, who fear that strict laws protecting Native American artifacts, combined with terms of the 2010 agreement, could make it difficult to clean up contamination.
4. Winning an award is not always as important as being a finalist. I can speak to this personally: In terms of my career, it was far more important for me to have been nominated for the Best Novel Hugo award in 2006, than it was for me to win it in 2013. Why? Because in 2006 I was new to the field, and having my first novel nominated was a thing, especially when coupled with the nomination for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I was the first person in more than twenty years to get nominated for the Campbell and Best Novel in the same year, and it changed my status in the field from “who is John Scalzi” to “oh, that’s John Scalzi.”
I didn’t win the Hugo that year (nor should I have: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson won, and deservedly so), but it didn’t matter because the boost put me in a different career orbit. When I did win the Best Novel award, several years later, it was great, and I loved it, and I wouldn’t trade the experience. But careerwise, it wasn’t a transforming event. It was a confirming event. My professional career didn’t change all that much after I won. Whereas being nominated earlier was transforming, and ultimately more important to my career.
…The novel, which follows the love story between vampire Edward Cullen and high schooler Bella Swan that fans originally fell for in the first Twilight book back in 2005, is currently No. 1 on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books List as well as on The New York Times’s Children’s Series List. While the original book series —which was adapted into a franchise of movies starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the leading roles — was told from the point of view of Bella, this version takes readers inside the mind of her bloodsucking boyfriend, Edward.
Something about that last line sounds a little off….
When I first envisioned Web-beings, it was a thought experiment on a biological basis for being semi-immortal. I arrived at the notion of organisms who manipulate their molecular structure using energy to repair aging and damage. It led me to aliens who’d hide themselves by cycling, as I called it, into the form of shorter-lived intelligent species. To be convincing, they’d need to know how to behave as one. Thus I had them (there were six at the start) collect and share everything they discovered about a species, from its biology (and thus how to be that form) to every aspect of society and culture.
When your memory consists of your flesh, you’re able to store vast amounts of information, which Web-beings exchange by biting off bits of one another. (I love my job.)…
(11) A CONZEALAND SOUVENIR. W.O.O.F. #45 put together by the Worldcon Order of Fan-Editors for CoNZealand is a free download from eFanzines [PDF file]. It boasts a cover by Tim Kirk, and contributions from John Purcell, Chris Garcia, Rich Lynch, Chuck Connor, Ahrvid Engholm, Evelyn & Mark Leeper, David Schlosser, Mark Blackman, Andrew Hooper, Murray Moore, Kees van Toorn, Wolf von Witting, R. Laurraine Tutihasi, Roger Hill, Alan Stewart, and Phil Wlodarczyk. Guy H. Lillian III served as the Offcial Editor.
(12) I DON’T KNOW — THIRD BLAST! On the Dragon Awards site: “A Blast from the Past (Winners) – Part 3” with Kevin J. Anderson, Nick Cole, Larry Correia, Richard Fox, Claudia Gray, Brian Niemeier, S.M. Stirling, and Harry Turtledove.
If you were a voting electorate of one, what book by any other author would you give a Dragon Award to? What books by other authors would you recommend to those who voted for or enjoyed your book?
Nick Cole: I’m going to decline naming any authors because I have too many talented friends. If you enjoyed Ctrl Alt Revolt!, I guess I would recommend that you read any book by any author who’s been cancelled. Instead of just arbitrarily listening to someone’s opinion on some author and why they should be banned, blacklisted, and their works burned in a bonfire either digital or physical, I think you should take the time to read that book, listen to that person, and come to the conclusion yourself.
(13) BOOK ANNVERSARY.
August 2015 —[Item by Cat Eldridge.]The House of Shattered Wings, the first of her Dominion of The Fallen series by French-Vietnamese author Aliette de Bodard was published by Roc in the U.S. It would be the first novel in what has been a prolific and award-rich writing career. In addition to the decadent, ruined Paris set of the Dominion of The Fallen series, there’s her Xuya stellar empire where she makes rich use of her French-Vietnamese heritage. Of the new writers I’ve been reading (and most are female), I think she’s one that bears watching as it’ll be interesting to see what new universes come from her. And yes I’m waiting for the first Xuya novel somewhat impatiently.
(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 13, 1953 — George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Not New York City as is popularly believed.) It was directed by Byron Haskin from the screenplay by Barré Lyndon. It starred Gene Barry and Anne Robinson. It was narrated by Cedric Hardwicke. The film was both a critical and box office success with it earning back its budget in its first run. And it would won an Academy Award for Special Effects. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 71% rating. (CE)
(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 13, 1895 — Bert Lahr. Best remembered and certainly beloved as The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, as well as his counterpart who was a Kansas farmworker. It’s his only genre role, though In the war film Meet the People, he would say “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” which was later popularized by a cartoon character named Snagglepuss. (Died 1967.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1899 — Alfred Hitchcock. If he’d only done his two Alfred Hitchcock series which for the most part was awesome, that’d be enough to get him Birthday Honors. But he did some fifty films of which a number are genre such as The Birds and Psycho. Though I’ve not read it, I’ve heard good things about Peter Ackroyd’s Alfred Hitchcock. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1909 — Tristram Coffin. He’s best remembered for being Jeff King in King of the Rocket Men, a Forties SF serial, the first of three serials featuring this character. He showed up on the Fifties Superman series in different roles, sometimes on the side of Good, sometimes not. He played The Ambassador twice on Batman in. “When the Rat’s Away the Mice Will Play” and “A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away”. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1922 — Willard Sage. He showed up on Trek as Thann, one of the Empaths in “Empath”. He was Dr. Blake in Colossus: The Forbin Project, and had roles in The Land of Giants, Invaders, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer Limits and The Sixth Sense. (Died 1974.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1928 – Sir George Pollock, Bt. The 5th baronet (an oversimplification); pursued photography that had light itself as its subject; invented color photographs using controlled light, originally through glass, which he called Vitrograph; later, large-scale photographic murals. Five book and magazine covers for us; here is New Writings in SF 3. Two album covers for His Master’s Voice; here is HQM 1008 with Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale (translation in part by Michael Flanders!), here is HQM 1026 with Prokofievand Shostakovich. Here is Galactic Event. Website here (under re-construction but some help). Appreciation by the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain here (“NGV” is Nat’l Gallery of Victoria) (PDF). (Died 2016) [JH]
Born August 13, 1932 – John Berkey. A hundred seventy covers, two hundred twenty interiors. Mixed his own colors. Here is Starman Jones. Here is Star SF 6. Here is the Nov 94 SF Age. Here is a Star Wars book. Here is One Giant Leap. Four artbooks; lastly J. Frank ed., The Art of John Berkey. Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. Spectrum Grand Master. Website here. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born August 13, 1945 – Rita Krupowicz. (She usually signed “R.J. Krupowicz”.) Ten covers, as many interiors. Here is The Dark Cry of the Moon.Here is the Nov 85 Fantasy & Science Fiction. This is from The Vortex Library on Twitter. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born August 13, 1952 – Donna Barr, 68. Enlisted in the U.S. Army, school-trained Teletype operator. Much of her work self-published, available electronically. Stinz was serialized in the Eclipse Comics series The Dreamery (hello, Lex Nakashima). GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System) and Traveller role-playing books. “I usually do a rough on scrap paper (junk mail has lots of blank backs!), happily cutting and pasting, then I copy the whole thing (so the back is clear), rearrange the copy backwards on the back of the final paper, slap in some lettering guides, flip it over on a light table, and use it as a rough guide while I ink. No penciling, and no erasing.” Website here. [JH]
Born August 13, 1974 – Christina Henry, 46. A dozen novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Alice, Red Queen and Looking Glass are “a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”; The Girl in Red is “a post-apocalyptic Red Riding Hood novel”. The Ghost Tree, expected next month, is “an homage to all the coming-of-age horror novels I read when I was younger – except all those books featured boys as the protagonists when I longed for more stories about girls. Just to clarify, though – this is not a young adult novel; it’s intended for an adult audience (like all of my work).” [JH]
Born August 13, 1977 — Damian O’Hare, 43. Though you might know him from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Curse of the Black Pearl and On Stranger Tides where he played Gillette, I know him as the voice of John Constantine on Justice League Action. He also showed up in Agent Carter. (CE)
Born August 13, 1990 — Sara Serraiocco, 30. She plays the complex role of Baldwin on the Counterpart series which I’ve got on the iPad for watching soon. Anyone watch this? (CE)
Born August 13, 1990 – Marlon Pierre-Antoine, 30. “Helena’s Empire” is an E-book novelette. Its sequel Wandering Stars explores a teenage girl’s whblooming romance with Lucifer (i.e. after his fall), whom she meets on a beach. MP ranks The Divine Comedy above Animal Farm, both below The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. [JH]
Years after the completion of the second outing of his alternate history series The American Way, 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley is returning to comics to reveal The Other History of the DC Universe. The long-awaited series, exploring DC’s lengthy comic book mythology from a new angle, has been newly scheduled for a November release.
The five-part series, originally announced in 2018, re-examines important and iconic moments from DC’s comic book history from the point of view of characters from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including Jefferson Pierce — better known as Black Lightning — and Renee Montoya (The Question). Giuseppe “Cammo” Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and colorist José Villarrubia are the artists for the series, with covers from Camuncoli and Jamal Campbell (Far Sector, Naomi)….
In a rare public fallout for Netflix, the creators of the platform’s highly anticipated, live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the acclaimed Nickelodeon cartoon, have walked away from the project.
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s full run became available on Netflix this past June, attracting a huge audience and reigniting the 2000s cartoon’s popularity. But in separate posts published to their respective blogs and Instagrams, Avatar franchise creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko said they were no longer involved with the previously announced Netflix remake, due to prolonged creative differences.
“When Netflix brought me on board to run this series alongside Mike two years ago,” Konietzko wrote in his Instagram post, “they made a very public promise to support our vision. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise. … [T]he general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.”
“I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded,” DiMartino added on his own website. “So, I chose to leave the project.”…
”People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.” Ray Bradbury has been acclaimed as the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream but, as the quote above shows, he regarded himself as the author of modern philosophical fables, rather than a sci-fi writer. In his dystopian works, such as Fahrenheit 451, he holds up a mirror to contemporary society and then transposes it into fantastical and futuristic scenarios. Bradbury was a prolific writer who tried his hand at everything from poems and novels to TV and radio scripts but it’s his early short stories which he produced in his twenties that are perhaps the most imaginative.
To mark the centenary of Bradbury’s birth, Rajan Datar is joined by three Bradbury experts to help him navigate through the author’s prodigious output: Professor Jonathan Eller from Indiana University who is also the Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies; Dr. Miranda Corcoran who teaches American literature at University College Cork with particular interest in science fiction, horror and the gothic; and Dr. Phil Nichols who combines research into Bradbury’s TV and other media work with the teaching of Film and Television Production at Wolverhampton University.
(21) TOONING OUT. Camestros Felapton’s attention was drawn to “The Webtoon Short Story Contest” by Vox Day’s complaints that his Arkhaven Comics entry got no love from the judges:
Where there are stories gathered together there are story competitions and Webtoon is no different. They recently held their Short Story competition with the winners announced here https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/contest/us-contest-2020. It’s a juried award with cash prizes that splits winners and runners up into two categories: “Brain” for stories that blow your mind and “Heart” for stories that warm your heart (Rules and FAQs).
“Why are you telling us all this Camestros?” I hear you say….
Camestros proceeds to make some interesting observations.
And it wasn’t just unawarded. Midnight’s War somehow didn’t even qualify as one of the 36 runners-up despite being one of the top 10 ranked in Popularity and earning a higher rating than two out of the three Silver winners.
This tells me that Arkhaven needs to seriously rethink our plan to use Webtoons as a platform….
…JAY PRICE, BYLINE: Esports has exploded in the past few years. There are pro leagues, bricks and mortar arenas, players with six-figure salaries. Millions of people log on to streaming platforms like the Amazon owned Twitch to watch games and interact with players and each other. Many are of recruiting age. The military has taken notice. Major General Frank Muth just finished a stint leading U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
FRANK MUTH: This really has brought us into the modern era of where this generation and the next generation – they’re mainly hanging out online all the time.
PRICE: The four largest military services all now have teams or official players. Sergeant Nicole Ortiz is on the Army’s team. Her role includes playing games while socializing and explaining military life to viewers, like her own as an IT specialist.
NICOLE ORTIZ: A lot of them, they look at movies and think that the Army is just about war and shooting guns. In reality, I used to work at a help desk.
PRICE: Recruiting brass say the new esports push is already helping, especially given the difficulties of face-to-face recruiting during the pandemic. Part of the allure is being able to interact directly with viewers through the chat function. And that’s where the military’s esports initiative ran into some trouble.
KATIE FALLOW: What they did here is impermissible under the First Amendment.
PRICE: Attorney Katie Fallow is with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She represents an activist named Jordan Uhl. On the Army and Navy Twitch channels, he posted messages including, what’s your favorite U.S. war crime? Uhl was banned from both, along with dozens of others who posted similar messages or other comments the military gamers deemed improper.
FALLOW: Because they basically said, we don’t like that you’re raising questions about war crimes or things that the military is sensitive about. And they blocked people based on their viewpoints.
(24) SOONER OF LATER IT ALL ADDS UP. In “The Cost of Perseverance, in Context”, the Planetary Society says the cost of the latest Mars Exploration Rover mission sounds quite modest compared to some other chosen figures.
NASA expects to spend approximately $2.7 billion on the Perseverance rover project. This number can sound large, even excessive, to some—but it’s a number that demands context. Let’s give it some….
The total cost of the Perseverance rover is equivalent to…
33 hours of running the Department of Defense
Slightly less than 1 day of Social Security spending
One year of spending on the Space Launch System rocket
…Northumberland Park garage will host vehicle-to-grid technology, which feeds energy stored in parked electric buses back into the electricity network.
If the government-funded Bus2Grid project is rolled out across London it could power an estimated 150,000 homes.
The project will begin in November and run for three years.
Putting energy back into the grid when demand is high and recharging buses when demand is low helps make the network more efficient by balancing the peaks and troughs.
Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “A fleet of bus batteries harnesses large amounts of electricity and they are habitual, with regular and predictable routes, driving patterns and timings.
“That means we can easily predict and plan for how we can use any spare electrical capacity they can offer.”
(27) FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE. Forbidden Planet, the world’s largest and best-known comic book and cult entertainment retail chain, is throwing itself a 42nd birthday party — Forbidden Planet 42 – an online event featuring many genre and other celebrities.
On Saturday August 29th 2020, ForbiddenPlanet.com will play host to a huge range of celebrity interviews, as alumni from the worlds of science fiction, comics & popular culture come together to help the store celebrate 42 years of pop-culture addiction – and ponder the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everythingwith an all-star cast of our oldest friends & customers!
This star-studded online event will feature new, exclusive interviews with some of Forbidden Planet’s most celebrated customers including William Shatner, DMC, Neil Gaiman, Alice Cooper, Jonathan Ross, Gerard Way, Garth Ennis, Kevin Smith, Michael Moorcock, Simon Pegg, Mark Millar, Dan Slott, V.E. Schwab, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Dirk Maggs, Chris Claremont & Ben Aaronovich amongst others, hosted by Forbidden Planet’s Andrew Sumner.
As part of the Forbidden Planet 42 celebrations, this online extravaganza will also host a tribute to Forbidden Planet’s old friend – the late, great Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) in the shape of a rare, never-before-heard interview with Douglas (recently discovered in the Forbidden Planet vaults) conducted by another old pal, celebrated author Neil Gaiman.
[Thanks to Kathryn Sullivan, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Gordon Van Gelder, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of the ridiculous number of stories in today’s Scroll. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
ASFA, the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists, announced the winners of the 2019 Chesley Awards at Spikecon in Layton, Utah on July 5.
Cover – Hardback
I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land by Connie Willis (Subterranean Press) April 2018
Cover – Paperback
Diabolical Plots Year Three Edited by David Steffen (Diabolical Plots, L.L.C.) June 2018
Cover – Magazine
Clarkesworld #140, May 2018
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (Easton Press) November 2018 (8 Illustrations in all)
“Frantic Search” Ultimate Masters Magic card (WotC) December 2018
“The Pirate Queen,” Gary Con Promotional Art, Released 2018
Color Illustration – Unpublished
Monochrome Illustration – Unpublished
Failure To Launch: Grounded (Graphite Pencil)
Three Dimensional Art
Reflection (Digital sculpt to be casted in Bronze)
Neil Clarke, Clarkesworld
Chesley Awards were established in 1985 as ASFA’s peer awards to recognize
individual works and achievements not otherwise recognized by the Hugo Awards,
during a given year. The Chesleys were initially called the ASFA Awards, but
were later renamed to honor famed astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell after
his death in 1986. The awards are usually presented annually at the World
Science Fiction Convention or at the North American Science Fiction Convention
when the Worldcon is held outside of North America.
Chesleys are nominated and decided upon by the members of our community, the
Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.
The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA) has posted the finalists for the 34th annual Chesley Awards. The Chesleys, named for the great astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell, started in 1985 as a means for the sff art community to recognize individual works and achievements in a given year. Member voting begins May 27.
This year’s Chesley Awards ceremony will be at Spikecon in Layton, Utah, July 4 -7.
Best Cover Illustration – Hardback
Arnold – Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Subterranean
The Utah Fandom Organization has issued an update about events, guests, and other plans for the combined Westercon 72, NASFiC 2019, & 1632 Minicon (Spikecon.org) convention to be held July 4-7, 2019 in Layton, Utah:
The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA) Announces NASFiC 2019 as the location to host the Chesley Awards – The Chesleys will be held at the NASFIC in Layton Utah, July 4 -7, 2019. ASFA member Vincent Villafranca is the artist guest and we can’t wait to get involved. There will be ways for artists to participate at the convention so please check http://www.asfa-art.org/.
Westercon 72 Gaming Guest Tim the GM (Mottishaw) – We regret to inform our gaming guest Tim Mottishaw had to cancel his appearance at Spikecon due to conflicts in dates. He offers his regret and apology to everyone, and is assisting us with possible candidates to honor in his stead.
NASFiC 2019 Master and Mistress of Ceremony, Bjo & John Trimble (and Sponsorship) -A fan, professional photographer and writer, Ctein (Kuh-TEIN), has volunteered to continue the sponsorship, and support Bjo and John Trimble in their appearance at Spikecon 2019. Utah Fandom Organization wishes to thank everyone for their support in making these combined events fun and exciting.
(Ctein is a professional photographer and writer. He is the co-author, with John Sandford, of the New York Times best selling science fiction thriller, “Saturn Run.” He is currently writing an natural disaster thriller, “Ripple Effect,” with David Gerrold. Ctein is also the author of “Digital Restoration From Start To Finish” and “Post Exposure.” He is best known in the SF community for his photographs of eclipses, aurora, natural and unnatural scenics, and space launches and his hand-printed fine-art books. His photographic work can be seen at http://ctein.comand photo-repair.com.)
Updates to Departments – The website, https://www.spikecon.org/ , has updated forms to apply for the Art Show, Dealers Room, Program Participation, Gaming, Panel Suggestions and Membership Updates.
Future Announcements – Upcoming plans include a special event 4th of July breakfast with Bjo and John Trimble to discuss Star Trek(™), A filk/music guest announcement and a new progress report due at the end of November.
The Chesley Awards were established in 1985 as ASFA’s peer awards to recognize individual works and achievements not otherwise recognized by the Hugo Awards, during a given year. The Chesleys were initially called the ASFA Awards, but were later renamed to honor famed astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell after his death in 1986. The awards are usually presented annually at the World Science Fiction Convention or at the North American Science Fiction Convention when the Worldcon is held outside of North America.
The Chesleys have long been internationally acclaimed as the most prestigious awards in the field of fantastic arts. These awards are nominated and decided upon by the members of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.
So, I’ve explained before that Timothy doesn’t distinguish human faces well. He is also confused by facial hair. OK strictly speaking he is confused by human skin, which he assumes is fur and hence is doubly confused by facial hair which he thinks is fur that is growing out of fur. Look, the main thing is he finds beards confusing and panics if I shave.
So, Marvel’s Infinity War has many characters and about 40%+ of them have facial hair (90%+ if we count eyebrows – do eyebrows count as facial hair? I assume so.) Some of them i.e. Captain America have gained beards for this film.
So to assist Tim to keep track, here is a field guide to various beard styles in the film….
(2) PUBLIC ASKED FOR PODCAST NOMINATIONS. The Parsec Awards Steering Committee is accepting nominations of podcasts for the 2018 Parsec Awards through June 15. Nominate here.
Any material released between May 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018 is eligible for the 2018 awards. Material released needs to be free for download and released via a mechanism that allows for subscriptions. Thus, YouTube, Facebook, etc.. series are eligible.
If you are a podcaster or author, please feel free to nominate your own podcast or story
StarWars.com is thrilled to announce that production has begun on Star Wars Resistance, an exciting new animated adventure series about Kazuda Xiono, a young pilot recruited by the Resistance and tasked with a top-secret mission to spy on the growing threat of the First Order. It will premiere this fall on Disney Channel in the U.S. and thereafter, on Disney XD and around the world.
(4) BROADDUS JOINS APEX. Maurice Broaddus has been named nonfiction editor for Apex Magazine. Jason Sizemore, Editor-in-Chief, made the announcement April 2.
Maurice is a prolific and well-regarded author who works in a multitude of genres. He is also the Apex Magazine reprints editor and now wears two hats for our publication. Upcoming authors Maurice has lined up for essays include Mur Lafferty, Mary SanGiovanni, and Tobias S. Buckell.
You can find Maurice Broaddus on Twitter at @mauricebroaddus and online at www.mauricebroaddus.com. His novella “Buffalo Soldiers” was recently published at Tor.com.
(5) SWANWICK CITES LE GUIN ON PRESENT TENSE: Michael Swanwick would be authority enough for many, but first he appeals for support to “Le Guin on Present Tense” before handing down the stone tablets:
Here’s the rule, and it covers all cases: Only use the present tense if there is some reason for doing so that justifies losing some of your readers and annoying others. (This rule goes double for future tense.) Otherwise, use the past tense.
Bipartisan users, who try to bridge the echo chambers, pay a price for their work: they become less central in their network, lose connections to their communities and receive less endorsements from others.
…I first sold to New York in 2007, over eleven years ago. That book was Grimspace, a story I wrote largely to please myself because it was hard for me to find the sort of science fiction that I wanted to read. I love space opera, but in the past, I found that movies and television delivered more of the stories I enjoyed. At the time, I was super excited to be published in science fiction and fantasy.
My first professional appearance was scheduled at a small con in Alabama. I was so excited for that, so fresh and full of hope. Let’s just say that my dreams were dashed quite spectacularly. I was sexually harassed by multiple colleagues and the men I encountered seemed to think I existed to serve them. To say that my work wasn’t taken seriously is an understatement. That was only reinforced when I made my first appearance at SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) six months later.
There, the moderator called me the ‘token female’, mispronounced my last name without checking with me first (she checked with the male author seated next to me), and the male panelists spoke over me, interrupted me at will, and gave me very little chance to speak. I remember quite clearly how humiliated I was, while also hoping that it wasn’t noticeable to the audience.
Dear Reader, it was very noticeable. Afterward, David Brin, who was in the audience, came up to me with a sympathetic look and he made a point of shaking my hand. He said, “Well, I was very interested in what you had to say.” With a pointed stress on the word “I.”…
Madison Square Garden officials lifted the curtain a bit on their MSG Sphere Arena entertainment venues coming to Las Vegas and London, with a demonstration Thursday that hinted at advanced technology going into the design and experiences for audiences within the new-generation venues.
In his presentation at the Forum in Inglewood, which his company rejuvenated in 2014 with a $100-million face and body lift, Madison Square Garden Co. chairman James L. Dolan cited a short story from science-fiction author and futurist Ray Bradbury’s 1951 anthology “The Illustrated Man” as something of a spiritual model for the new facilities.
In particular, he referenced Bradbury’s story “The Veldt,” which centered on a high-tech room of the future, called the “liquid crystal room,” which could synthesize any environment in which children desired to play or explore.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
April 28, 2007 — Ashes of actor James Doohan and of Apollo 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper soared into space aboard a rocket.
If this trend continues, we can assume that our children and grandchildren will not only have Burroughs, Wells, Verne, Shelley, and Baum to read, but also reprinted copies of our present-day science fiction, as well as the SF of the future (their present). Perhaps they’ll all be available via some computerized library — tens of thousands of volumes in a breadbox-shaped device, for instance.
The question, then, is whether or not our children will remember our current era fondly enough to want reprints from it. Well, if this month’s Analog be a representative sample, the answer is a definitive…maybe.
(11) HORTON ON HUGOS. Catching up with Rich Horton’s commentaries about the 2018 Hugo nominees and who he’s voting for.
My views here are fairly simple. It’s a decent shortlist, but a bifurcated one. There are three nominees that are neck and neck in my view, all first-rate stories and well worth a Hugo. And there are three that are OK, but not special – in my view not Hugo-worthy (but not so obviously unworthy that I will vote them below No Award.)…
This is really a very strong shortlist. The strongest shortlist in years and years, I’d say. Two are stories I nominated, and two more were on my personal shortlist of stories I considered nominating. The other two stories are solid work, though without quite the little bit extra I want in an award winner….
Spring might finally be arriving, and at Fireside Magazine that means the stories are about rebirth and new beginnings, even as they’re about decay and endings. For me, at least, spring always brings to mind thaw. A thawing of the world after the long freeze of winter. Which means new growth, new green, but also means revealing all the death that the snow concealed. The roadkill, the rot, the dead leaves not yet turned to mulch. And these stories find characters at this point, seeing all around them the evidence of death and pain, and having to make the decision to also see the life. To see the good, and to try and foster that good, to help it grow. These are stories that show people pushing back against the pressure to die, to be silent, and embrace a future full of the possibility of failure, yes, but also full of the hope of success. To the reviews!
l through a long life I had three main concerns, with a clear order of priority. Family came first, friends second, and work third.”
So writes the pioneering theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson in the introduction to his newly published collection of letters, Maker of Patterns. Spanning about four decades, the collection presents a first-person glimpse into a life that witnessed epochal changes both in world history and in physics.
Here, we present short excerpts from nine of Dyson’s letters, with a focus on his relationship with the physicist Richard Feynman. Dyson and Feynman had both professional and personal bonds: Dyson helped interpret and draw attention to Feynman’s work—which went on to earn a Nobel Prize—and the two men traveled together and worked side by side.
Taken together, these letters present a unique perspective of each man. Feynman’s effervescent energy comes through, as does Dyson’s modesty and deep admiration for his colleague.
(14) ADVANCED TRAINING. Did MZW graduate from this course?
now i hërd thërë wäs sëcrët class whërë hë lërn how to scrëm at ass but ü don't rëlly cäre for müsic do ü pic.twitter.com/diyKgUqNro
Imagine standing up to give a speech in front of a critical audience. As you do your best to wax eloquent, someone in the room uses a clicker to conspicuously count your every stumble, hesitation, um and uh; once you’ve finished, this person loudly announces how many of these blemishes have marred your presentation.
This is exactly the tactic used by the Toastmasters public-speaking club, in which a designated “Ah Counter” is charged with tallying up the speaker’s slip-ups as part of the training regimen. The goal is total eradication. The club’s punitive measures may be extreme, but they reflect the folk wisdom that ums and uhs betray a speaker as weak, nervous, ignorant, and sloppy, and should be avoided at all costs, even in spontaneous conversation.
Many scientists, though, think that our cultural fixation with stamping out what they call “disfluencies” is deeply misguided. Saying um is no character flaw, but an organic feature of speech; far from distracting listeners, there’s evidence that it focuses their attention in ways that enhance comprehension.
Disfluencies arise mainly because of the time pressures inherent in speaking. Speakers don’t pre-plan an entire sentence and then mentally press “play” to begin unspooling it. If they did, they’d probably need to pause for several seconds between each sentence as they assembled it, and it’s doubtful that they could hold a long, complex sentence in working memory. Instead, speakers talk and think at the same time, launching into speech with only a vague sense of how the sentence will unfold, taking it on faith that by the time they’ve finished uttering the earlier portions of the sentence, they’ll have worked out exactly what to say in the later portions.
(16) A MARCH IN MAY. Naomi Kritzer tweeted photos from a Mayday parade – including a notorious purple cat (who may or may not be named Timothy!…) Jump on the thread here:
So on Thursday I found out that one of my friends didn't know about the Heart of the Beast's Mayday Parade. I am pretty regularly running into people who've lived in the Twin Cities for years (or their whole lives) but have never been to the Mayday Parade.
Here’s a headline you don’t read every day: A TV reboot of a feature film toplined by the original star is not moving forward.
Syfy has opted to pass on its TV follow-up to 1990 feature film Tremors, starring Kevin Bacon.
…Bacon broke the news himself, writing on his verified Instagram page that he was “[s]ad to report that my dream of revisiting the world of Perfection will not become a reality. Although we made a fantastic pilot (IMHO) the network has decided not to move forward. Thanks to our killer cast and everyone behind the scenes who worked so hard. And always keep one eye out for GRABOIDS!”
(21). UNSUSPECTED GOLDMINE. American news infamously neglects most countries of the world, but who knew there were big sf doings in Bulgaria? At Aeon, Victor Petrov discusses “Communist robot dreams”.
The police report would have baffled the most grizzled detective. A famous writer murdered in a South Dakota restaurant full of diners; the murder weapon – a simple hug. A murderer with no motive, and one who seemed genuinely distraught at what he had done. You will not find this strange murder case in the crime pages of a local US newspaper, however, but in a Bulgarian science-fiction story from the early 1980s. The explanation thus also becomes more logical: the killer was a robot.
The genre was flourishing in small Bulgaria in the last two decades of socialism, and the country became the biggest producer of robotic laws per capita, supplementing Isaac Asimov’s famous three with two more canon rules – and 96 satirical ones. Writers such as Nikola Kesarovski (who wrote the above murder mystery) and Lyuben Dilov grappled with questions of the boundaries between man and machine, brain and computer. The anxieties of their literature in this period reflected a society preoccupied with technology and cybernetics, an unlikely bastion of the information society that arose on both sides of the Iron Curtain from the 1970s onwards.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Jason, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day johnstick.]