Narrator Patricia Rodriguez delivers a sensational performance of this dystopian satire in which the most successful company in the world uses algorithms to predict and deliver what you want before you even know you want it. When Peter Jobless receives a product he most definitely doesn’t want, he commences an elaborate plan to return it with the help of his band of robotic misfits….
DEATH’S MANTLE by Harmon Cooper | read by Andrea Parsneau | (Earphones Award Winner)
The “death” who comes for Lucien has been helping people pass over for more than 300 years. Narrator Andrea Parsneau portrays him as an old, tired, and somewhat feeble man. In contrast, although Lucien has outlived his doctors’ estimate of his life expectancy by two and half times, Parsneau makes him seem vital and feisty when he tries fending off death by drawing a gun on him. When he becomes Old Death’s successor, Parsneau imbues Lucien with a passion for discovering his powers and limitations….
TIME’S CHILDREN Islevale, Book 1 by D.B. Jackson | read by Helen Keeley | (Earphones Award Winner)
Narrator Helen Keeley follows the journey of 15-year old Tobias as he makes the transition from novitiate to walker in the sovereign’s court of Daerjen. At the behest of the sovereign, walkers travel back in time at a cost of one year off their lives for each year they travel back and forth….
THE SEEP by Chana Porter | read by Shakina Nayfack | (Earphones Award Winner)
Shakina Nayfack’s warm, potent tones highlight the deeply personal and humane side of Porter’s profound, ethereal alien-invasion story. The Seep has overhauled the world, allowing expanded consciousness and endless new experiences. Trina Fasthorse Goldberg-Oneka, a 50-year-old trans artist, cannot embrace this reality as others have, and when her wife leaves to become a child again, her world begins to unravel….
THE LIGHT OF ALL THAT FALLS by James Islington | read by Michael Kramer | (Earphones Award Winner)
Michael Kramer narrates the epic conclusion to an epic fantasy trilogy. Four friends are led by the troubled Caeden to the northern border of Andarra to confront evil forces. As this story twists and weaves through time, morality shifts, and the cost of survival mounts. Kramer’s gravelly voice engages listeners with his masterful cadence and reflective tone….
THE KILLING FOG: The Grave Kingdom, Book 1 by Jeff Wheeler | read by Emily Woo Zeller
Narrator Emily Woo Zeller provides a spellbinding performance as she takes listeners on a young woman’s journey to achieve her own destiny and fulfill a legendary prophecy. Zeller embodies Bingmei, who fights to save humanity from despair and destruction while, at the same time, vacillating over whether to please her ancestors or her heart….
The winners in the 24 competitive categories for the 2020 Audie Awards, including the Audiobook of the Year, were announced by the Audio Publishers Association (APA) on March 2.
The Audie Awards® recognize excellence in audiobook and spoken word entertainment.
At the Audie Awards® Gala a special Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Stephen King.
Winners of genre interest include:
The Ten Thousand Doors of
Januaryby Alix E. Harrow, narrated by
January LaVoy, published by Hachette Audio
Emergency Skinby N.K. Jemisin, narrated by
Jason Isaacs, published by Brilliance Publishing
Full Throttleby Joe Hill, narrated by Zachary
Quinto, Wil Wheaton, Kate Mulgrew, Neil Gaiman, Ashleigh Cummings, Joe Hill,
Laysla De Oliveira, Nate Corddry, Connor Jessup, Stephen Lang, and George
Guidall, published by HarperAudio
The Instituteby Stephen King, narrated by Santino
Fontana, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
other winners are —
AUDIOBOOK OF THE YEAR
The Only Plane in the Sky: An
Oral History of 9/11 by
Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a full cast with Holter Graham, published by
Simon & Schuster Audio
Angels in America: A Gay
Fantasia on National Themesby
Tony Kushner, performed by Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, Susan Brown, Denise
Gough, Beth Malone, James McArdle, Lee Pace, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Bobby
Cannavale, and Edie Falco, published by Penguin Random House Audio
Becoming,written and narrated by Michelle
Obama, published by Penguin Random House Audio
BEST FEMALE NARRATOR
Nothing to See Hereby Kevin Wilson, narrated by
Marin Ireland, published by HarperAudio
BEST MALE NARRATOR
Kingdom of the Blindby Louise Penny, narrated by
Robert Bathurst, published by Macmillan Audio
So You Want to Start a Podcast?, written and narrated by Kristen
Meinzer, published by HarperAudio
FAITH-BASED FICTION & NON-FICTION
How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim, narrated
by Tavia Gilbert, published by Oasis Audio
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated
by Blair Brown, published by Penguin Random House Audio
American Moonshotby Douglas Brinkley, narrated by
Stephen Graybill, published by HarperAudio
More Bedtime Stories for Cynicsby Kirsten Kearse, Gretchen
Enders, Aparna Nancherla, Cirocco Dunlap, and Dave Hill, narrated by Nick
Offerman, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Ellen Page, Jane Lynch, John Waters,
Anjelica Huston, Wendell Pierce, Mike Birbiglia, Rachel Dratch, Matt Walsh,
Nicole Byer, Harry Goaz, Aisling Bea, and Gary Anthony Williams, published by
LITERARY FICTION & CLASSICS
The Water Dancerby Ta-Nehisi Coates, narrated by
Joe Morton, published by Penguin Random House Audio
Charlotte’s Webby E.B. White, narrated by Meryl
Streep and a full cast, published by Penguin Random House Audio
The Only Plane in the Sky: An
Oral History of 9/11 by
Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a full cast with Holter Graham, published by
Simon & Schuster Audio
The Chestnut Manby Søren Sveistrup, narrated by
Peter Noble, published by HarperAudio
NARRATION BY THE AUTHOR or AUTHORS
With the Fire on High, written and narrated by
Elizabeth Acevedo, published by HarperAudio
Grace Will Lead Us Homeby Jennifer Berry Hawes,
narrated by Karen Chilton and Jennifer Berry Hawes, published by Macmillan
Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar, narrated by
Nick Choksi, Harsh Nayaar, Annapurna Sriram, Bernard White, and Rita Wolf,
published by Audible Originals
Devil’s Daughterby Lisa Kleypas, narrated by
Mary Jane Wells, published by HarperAudio
Hey, Kiddoby Jarrett J. Krosoczka,
narrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Jeanne Birdsall, Richard Ferrone, Jenna
Lamia, and a full cast, published by Scholastic Audio
YOUNG LISTENERS (up to age 8)
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!, written and narrated by Mo
Willems, published by Weston Woods
Jo Reed: …How then did you get into the audiobook biz, where you are one of the shining lights there as well?
Jim Dale: That was an accident, a sheer accident. They were looking for someone with an English accent to be the narrator, and someone said to whoever it was at the publishing company, they said, “Well, there’s a guy called Jim Dale. He’s playing Off-Broadway at the moment with three other men in a play called Travels with my Aunt. One of the men doesn’t speak at all, so three of them are now doing 33 characters between them,” and of course, the publisher said, “Wow, that sounds fantastic. That’s the sort of guy we need.” So they approached me, asked me if I’d read the book, which I did. I loved it. They said, “Would you like to record it?” I said, “Yes,” and it was only after I had signed the contract that one of them said to me, “Well, how many characters did you play in the play?” and I remember saying, “Just the aunt and the nephew. The other two guys played 31 characters between them.” So there’s a shocked silence on the end of the phone, ‘cause they realized they’d signed someone who may unable to do any more than a couple of voices.
Jo Reed: And the book we’re talking about is Harry Potter.
Jim Dale: That’s correct. There were seven of them, as you know, and so I didn’t realize that the first book had, I think it was, 34 different speaking characters, but that was nothing compared to the final book, which had 147 different characters that needed a voice, so that was quite a challenge, quite a challenge.
Two satellites could potentially collide just above Pittsburgh on Wednesday, according to space debris tracker LeoLabs. IRAS (13777), a decommissioned space telescope launched in 1983, and GGSE-4 (2828), an experimental US payload launched in 1967, will pass incredibly close to each other at a relative velocity of 14.7 km/s, LeoLabs said in a tweet Monday.
The company said it’s monitoring the approach, and that its latest metrics “show a predicted miss distance of between 15-30 meters.” That distance is concerning given the size of IRAS, which is 3.6 meters by 3.24 meters x 2.05 meters, LeoLabs said. The combined size of IRAS and GGSE-4 increases the chances of a collision, which stands at around 1 in 100.
The fifth edition of BroadwayCon had enthusiasts dressing for the underworld, swapping stories and merch, and singing along to “Six,” a show that hasn’t even opened yet.
Nyssa Sara Lee came to the 2020 edition of BroadwayCon as Ursula from “The Little Mermaid.”
On any other weekend, a gaggle of teenagers belting songs from “Hadestown” in the hallway of the New York Hilton Midtown would raise some eyebrows.
But for three days that ended Sunday, they were in the right place. More than 5,000 others — including several Beetlejuices, a handful of Heathers and the rare Dolly — made the pilgrimage to New York for the fifth annual BroadwayCon, a haven for the most passionate musical theater fans.
Some arrived in full character for the event, where attendees can meet and take photos with the stars of their favorite shows. Passes range from $80 for one day to $1,000 for a full weekend platinum pass with extra perks.
When fans weren’t doing their own dramatic hallway renditions of musical numbers, here’s what they were up to.
Kris Williams and Matt Whitaker as the title character from “Beetlejuice,” a show that drew many fan tributes.Dalton Glenn, Meaghan Cassidy and Grace Nobles as the trio from “Heathers.”…
(4) AI OH! In “Artificial
Morality” at the LA Review of Books blog, Bruce Sterling offers his latest thoughts on artificial intelligence.
Sterling is going to be the keynote speaker on a conference on AI which will be
held at the University of California (Irvine) in February which will include
Cory Doctorow and sf podcaster Rose Eveleth which you can find out more about
at a link at the Sterling piece.
This is an essay about lists of moral principles for the creators of Artificial Intelligence. I collect these lists, and I have to confess that I find them funny.
Nobody but AI mavens would ever tiptoe up to the notion of creating godlike cyber-entities that are much smarter than people. I hasten to assure you — I take that weird threat seriously. If we could wipe out the planet with nuclear physics back in the late 1940s, there must be plenty of other, novel ways to get that done….
You may know Constance Wu from her roles in Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians, but you may not know that she also played an astronaut in Nine Minutes, a science fiction short film that arrives on DUST later this week.
Directed and written by Ernie Gilbert (Atlanta, Barry), the story follows Lilian (Wu), a scientist for the United Earth Space Administration who finds herself stuck on an alien planet light-years from home. With some help from her A.I. companion named M.A.R.C. (voiced by comedian Reggie Watts), Lilian attempts to stay alive for as long as she can.
[…] The film was shot several years ago, but never premiered to the public — not even at festivals. […]
(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
In the opening sequence of The Matrix, the iconic streams of green Japanese code are actually recipes for sushi. Production designer Simon Whitely, now with the animation and visual effects studio Animal Logic in Australia, said he got the idea from one of his wife’s cookbooks. Source: CNET
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 28, 1986 — The space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off.
January 28, 1994 — Body Snatchers premiered. It was directed by Abel Ferrar, and it starred Gabrielle Anwar, Billy Wirth, Terry Kinney, Meg Tilly and Forest Whitaker. It’s somewhat based on Finnney’s The Body Snatchers with the screenplay by Stuart Gordon, Nicholas St. Johnnand Dennis Paoli. Reception was mixed with Ebert and some horror critics thinking it far better than previous takes; one critic thought it was “a soulless replica of Don Siegel’s 1956 model”. Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes don’t think much of it giving it just a 38% rating. You can see for yourself what’s like here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 28, 1910 — Arnold Moss. Anton Karidian a.k.a. Kodos the Executioner in the most excellent “The Conscience of the King“ episode of Trek. It wasn’t only SFF role as he’d show up in Tales of Tomorrow, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Time Tunnel and Fantasy Island. (Died 1989.)
Born January 28, 1920 — Lewis Wilson. Genre wise, he’s remembered for being the first actor to play Batman on screen in the 1943 Batman, a 15-chapter theatrical serial from Columbia Pictures. (Died 2000.)
Born January 28, 1935 — John Chandler. His very last role was as Filth in the “Honor Among Thieves” episode of Deep Space Nine. Genre-wise, he also showed up in Moon of the Wolf, The Incredible Hulk, Fantasy Island, The Sword and The Sorcerer, AirWolf, Trancers and Carnosaur 2. (Died 2010.)
Born January 28, 1944 — Susan Howard, 76. Mara, the Klingon woman, on “The Day of The Dove” episode for Star Trek. She also showed up on Tarzan, The Flying Nun, I Dream of Jeanie, Land of Giants, The Immortal, The Fantastic Journey and Mission: Impossible.
Born January 28, 1959 — Frank Darabont, 61. Early on, he was mostly a screenwriter for horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, The Blob and The Fly II, allminor horror films. As a director, he’s much better known as he’s done The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist. He also developed and executive-produced the first season of The Walking Dead. He also wrote Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that I like a lot.
Born January 28, 1965 — Lynda Boyd, 55. Let’s start off with she’s a singer who starred in productions The Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Film-wise, she had roles in Final Destination 2, The Invader, Mission to Mars and Hot Tub Time Machine. She’s had one-offs in X-Files, Highlander, Strange Luck, Millennium, The Sentential, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (where she had a recurring role as Darla Mohr), Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and Smallville.
Born January 28, 1981 — Elijah Wood, 39. His first genre role is as Video-Game Boy #2 in Back to the Future Part II. He next shows up as Nat Cooper in Forever Young followed by playing Leo Biederman In Deep Impact. Up next was his performance as Frodo Baggins In The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films. Confession time: I watched the very first of these. Wasn’t impressed. He’s done some other genre work as well including playing Todd Brotzman in the Beeb’s superb production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
Born January 28, 1985 — Tom Hopper, 35. His principal genre role was on the BBC Meriln series as Sir Percival. He also shows up in Doctor Who playing Jeff during the “The Eleventh Hour” episode which would be during the time of the Eleventh Doctor. He’s also Luther Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy which is an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá.
Born January 28, 1986 — Shruti Haasan, 34. Indian film actress known for the Telugu fantasy film Anaganaga O Dheerudu, and the Tamil science fiction thriller 7aum Arivu. She voiced Queen Elsa in the Tamil-dubbed version of Frozen II.
Born January 28, 1998 — Ariel Winter, 22. Voice actress whose shown up in such productions as Mr. Peabody & Sherman as Penny Peterson, Horton Hears a Who!, DC Showcase: Green Arrow as Princess Perdita and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as Carrie Kelly (Robin). She’s got several one-off live performances on genre series, The Haunting Hour: The Series and Ghost Whisperer.
(10) FIRST FLOWERS. While many people have seen 1968’s Charly,
the film version of Flowers for Algernon, few living fans remember or
have seen the 1961 TV adaptation “The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon.”
In this teleplay adaptation of Daniel Keyes’ noted short story “Flowers for Algernon,” Cliff Robertson portrays a gentle, disabled young man who undergoes a highly experimental treatment to increase his mental capacity. Robertson received an Emmy nomination for his sensitive work and would go on to win an Oscar for his reprisal of the eponymous role in the feature film Charly (1968).
…Meanwhile, a new device created by the University of Melbourne and spun off into a company called Growave is undergoing trials in Victoria.
Just as a domestic microwave warms food, so the microwaves emitted by the Growave system heat up the water molecules within weeds and cause them to vibrate. This ruptures the cell walls, killing the plant.
Meanwhile, microwaves can also heat the soil, killing weed seeds as they lie.
“Early data is demonstrating that using the Growave technology will be as cost-effective and potentially less expensive than current approaches to weed management,” says Paul Barrett, head of physical sciences of investment firm IP Group.
“The Growave approach also has the benefit that it is not influenced by the elements and can be used when it rains, when it’s windy or even at night – conditions which are not possible with traditional herbicide-spraying approaches.”
A row over the yeti has pitted experts against officials – and, for once, it is not about whether or not the mythical creature actually exists.
Instead, it is how the creature looks.
“This is not right. The government can’t just do as it wants,” passer-by Reshma Shrestha says, shaking her head in front of the 7ft (2.1m) tall statue at the centre of a row.
“If you did not tell me, I would not have known that it was a yeti.”
‘It’s a sumo wrestler’
The arrival of the first of more than 100 statues emblazoned with the words “Visit Nepal” was supposed to be the start of a year-long celebration of what the small Himalayan nation had to offer to the outside world.
They will soon be popping up across the country – at popular tourist attractions, trade centres, airports and some of the base camps in the Himalayas – as well as travelling further afield to act as mascots in cities around the world.
But the launch of the tourism drive, which aims to bring two million tourists to the region, has been somewhat overshadowed by the row over the statues’ appearance.
A rare species of frog with translucent skin has been seen in Bolivia for the first time in 18 years.
Three Bolivian Cochran frogs, a species of so-called “glass frogs”, were spotted by conservationists earlier this month in a national park.
The tiny amphibians weigh just 70-80g and measure 19-24mm.
Glass frogs are found in Central and South America and have skin so translucent that their internal organs can be seen through their bellies.
Investigators found the frogs in Carrasco National Park, east of the city of Cochabamba, as part of a mission to rescue reptiles and amphibians whose habitat is threatened by a hydroelectric project.
“The rediscovery of this species fills us with a ray of hope for the future of the glass frogs – one of the most charismatic amphibians in the world – but also for other species,” members of the team told AFP news agency.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Box Preview”
on YouTube, Jason Shiga describes his forthcoming graphic novel The
Box, which he says can also be about 20 other things, including a computer!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Leo
Doroschenko, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, and JJ
for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Xtifr.]
Due to recent events in RWA, many in the romance community have lost faith in RWA’s ability to administer the 2020 RITA contest fairly, causing numerous judges and entrants to cancel their participation. The contest will not reflect the breadth and diversity of 2019 romance novels/novellas and thus will not be able to fulfill its purpose of recognizing excellence in the genre. For this reason, the Board has voted to cancel the contest for the current year. The plan is for next year’s contest to celebrate 2019 and 2020 romances.
While we understand this will be disappointing news for some, we also understand that other members will support taking this step. Recent RWA Boards have worked hard to make changes to the current contest, striving to make it more diverse and inclusive, relieve judging burdens, and bring in outside voices, but those changes had to be voted on and implemented in a narrow window of time each year.
By not holding a contest in 2020, we will be able to move away from making piecemeal changes. Instead, we will have the opportunity to take a proper amount of time to build an awards program and process – whether it’s a revamped RITA contest or something entirely new – that celebrates and elevates the best in our genre. We plan on engaging a consultant who specializes in awards programs and a DEI consultant, as well as soliciting member input.
Members who entered the 2020 contest will be refunded their full entry fee by January 22, 2020. We extend our deep appreciation to the judges who volunteered their time this year.
When leading a discussion, don’t be afraid to go with the flow. Sometimes the oddest questions may be the most fruitful, or those questions may lead to additions for the future, sometimes even inspiring entirely new classes. The question of how to maintain a fruitful writing practice in the face of increasingly grey times, for example, led to a class on hopepunk that has become one of my favorites to teach and one which was even referenced in a Wall Street Journal article on the subgenre.
(3) MUTATIS MUTANDI. A trailer for The New Mutants has
dropped. Film comes to theaters April 3.
20th Century Fox in association with Marvel Entertainment presents “The New Mutants,” an original horror thriller set in an isolated hospital where a group of young mutants is being held for psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities and their friendships will be tested as they battle to try and make it out alive.
(4) PICARD TEASER. The show arrives January 23. Will this
be the bait that finally gets me to pay for CBS All-Access?
Join us when we celebrate “The Man in the High Castle: Creating the Alt World” with our very special panel of guest Mike Avila – author and Emmy award-winning TV producer, Jason O’Mara – Star, “Wyatt Price”, Isa Dick Hackett – Executive Producer, David Scarpa – Co-Showrunner, Drew Boughton – Production Designer.
Discover the alt worlds of The Man in the High Castle with the cast and crew in this exclusive collection of art. Packed with concept art, final designs, and artist commentary plus previously unseen storyboards.
The Man in the High Castle is the hit Amazon series, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s award-winning novel, that offers a glimpse into a chilling alternate timeline in which Hitler was victorious in World War II. In a dystopian America dominated by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Juliana Crain discovers a mysterious film that may hold the key to toppling the totalitarian regimes.
This is a panel discussion and signing and will be wristbanded.
A wristband will be issued on a first come, first serve basis to customers who purchase “The Man in The High Castle: Creating The Alt World ” from Barnes & Noble in The Grove beginning January 8th • Limit 1 wristband per book • Check Back for more Details as they Become Available
For more information contact Barnes & Noble at The Grove — 189 The Grove Dr, Ste K 30, Los Angeles, California 90036
(6) FREELANCING IN CALIFORNIA. Publishers Lunch for January 2 includes the following: “Legal: California Freelance Law and
The Authors Guild has a look at California’s new law AB-5 that requires treating many freelance workers as employees. On the question of whether the law affects book authors, “We were assured by those working on the bill that trade book authors are not covered, and we do not see a basis for disagreeing since the bill clearly states that AB-5 applies only to ‘persons providing labor or services’ and authors provide neither ‘labor’ nor ‘services’ under standard book contracts—they instead grant copyright licenses or assignments. Additionally, royalties—even in the form of advance payments—are not considered wages. It is difficult to imagine how a court would conclude that a typical book contract is for labor or services.”
Some book contracts, though, such as work-made-for-hire agreements and “contracts where the author has ongoing obligations and the publisher has greater editing ability or control over the content” could be subject to the new law, though. And the AG recommends that, “Publishers and authors who want to be certain to retain a freelancer relationship should be careful to make sure the contracts are written as simple license grants and not as services agreements.”
Venkatraghavan delivers an assortment of stories by talented Indian writers. Three elements unite the stories: all are written by women, all are speculative fiction, and all are worth reading. A further element common to many (but not all) is an undercurrent of incandescent fury over the current condition of the world. Taken as a whole, the collection is not quite as upbeat as Jemisin’s Broken Earth series, but the craft of the writers is undeniable.
Please bring light refreshments to share, and note that this is an alcohol-free venue.
At this gathering we will share stories of Andi, honoring her life and fight for disabled access and political advantages for all.
(9) TODAY’S DAY.
Handsel Monday — According to Scottish custom, the
first Monday of the new year was the time to give children and servants a small
gift, or handsel. Literally something given into the hands of someone else, the
gift itself was less important than the good luck it signified. The handsel was
popular as a new year’s gift from the 14th to 19th centuries, but it also had a
broader application to mark any new situation. It continues today in the form
of a housewarming gift to someone moving into a new home.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 6, 1973 —Schoolhouse Rock! premiered
January 6, 1975 — The first episode of The Changes premiered on BBC 1. It was a ten-part series adapting Peter Dickinson’s The Changes YA trilogy (The Weathermonger, Heartsease and The Devil’s Children. (The books were written in reverse order: the events of The Devil’s Children happen first, Heartsease second, and The Weathermonger third). It starred Victoria Williams and Keith Ashton. I find no reporting on it from the time, nor is it rated over at Rotten Tomatoes but that’s typical of these BBC series from this time.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 6, 1895 — Tom Fadden. He’s on the Birthday Honors List for the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers where his character was one of the first victims to yield to the invaders. It wasn’t his first SFF role as some thirty years before that role, he would make his Broadway debut as Peter Jekyll in The Wonderful Visit based off the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, who also co-wrote the play. The last role of his that I’ll note was that one of his first television roles was Eben Kent, the man who adopts Kal-El on the first episode of The Adventures of Superman series. (Died 1980.)
Born January 6, 1905 — Eric Frank Russell. He won the first annual Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Clevention in 1955 for “Allamagoosa” published in the May 1955 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Sinister Barrier, his first novel, appeared in Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear there. What’s your favorite work by him? (Died 1978.)
Born January 6, 1954 — Anthony Minghella. He adapted his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller scripts into story form which were published in his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller collection. They’re quite excellent actually. (Died 2008.)
Born January 6, 1955 — Rowan Atkinson, 65. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death which I know did not give him the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor as that goes another actor although who I’ve not a clue. Other genre appearances were scant I think (clause inserted for the nit pickers here) though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates.
Born January 6, 1958 — Wayne Barlowe, 62. Artist whose Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials that came out in the late Seventies I still remember fondly. It was nominated at Noreascon 2 for a Hugo but came in third with Peter Nichol’s Science Fiction Encyclopedia garnering the Award that year. His background paintings have been used in Galaxy Quest, Babylon 5, John Carter and Pacific Rim to name but a few films.
Born January 6, 1959 — Ahrvid Engholm, 61. Swedish conrunning and fanzine fan who worked on many Nasacons as well as on Swecons. Founder of the long running Baltcon. He has many fanzines including Vheckans Avfentyr, Fanytt, Multum Est and others. He was a member of Lund Fantasy Fan Society in the University of Lund.
Born January 6, 1960 — Andrea Thompson, 60. I’ll not mention her memorable scene on Arliss as it’s not genre. Her noted genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short-lived Monsters anthology series. She had a one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series.
Born January 6, 1969 — Aron Eisenberg. Nog on Deep Space 9. Way after DS9, he’d show up in Renegades, a might be Trek series loaded with Trek alumni including Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran, Koenig and Terry Farrell. It lasted two episodes. (Died 2019.)
Born January 6, 1976 — Guy Adams, 44. If you’ve listened to a Big Finish audio-works, it’s likely that you are familiar with his writing as he’s written scripts for their Doctor, UNIT and Torchwood series among his many endeavors there. Not surprisingly, he’s also written novels on Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock Holmes and so forth. I’ve read some of his Torchwood novels — they’re good popcorn literature.
Born January 6, 1982 — Eddie Redmayne, 38. He portrayed Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He was Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts film series.
Born January 6, 1984 — Kate McKinnon, 36. Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in that Ghostbusters film. I think her only other genre role to date was voicing various character on Robotomy, a Cartoon Network series. She is Grunhilda in the forthcoming The Lunch Witch film based off the YA novel by Deb Lucke.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur offers an alternate description of the afterlife.
Frank and Ernest find out the problems the cast of The Wizard of Oz has when looking for work.
Having just watched “Cats,” the movie version of the hit musical about something called “Jellicle cats,” it is clear that “Jellicle” must be cat-speak for “wackadoodle.”…
(14) SILENT RADIO. So far as I know, Camestros Felapton is
only on beer. But after reading “CATS!
An audio-free podcast review!” I plan to follow Abraham Lincoln’s
example and ask him to send each of us a barrel.
[Camestros] So let’s start. [in recitative] Did you find this film weird? [Timothy] Did it give us the frights? [Susan] Did it run far too long? [Camestros] Did the cast all wear tights? [Timothy] Was it bad C-G-I? [Susan] Was it moving and sad? [Camestros] Was it ineffably awful and indescribably bad? [Susan] (take it away Timothy!) [Timothy -sings] Because the movie of Cats is and the movie is not, It’s like the movie of Cats can and the movie can not, It’s not the movie of Cats is but also its not, While this movie of Cats should and really should not, And its because the movie of Cats is bad and bad it is not….
She was the first person to successfully fertilise a human egg in vitro, changing reproductive medicine forever – but few people know her name today.
…As a technician for Harvard fertility expert John Rock, Menkin’s goal was to fertilise an egg outside the human body. This was the first step in Rock’s plan to cure infertility, which remained a scientific mystery to doctors. He particularly wanted to help women who had healthy ovaries but damaged fallopian tubes – the cause of one-fifth of the infertility cases he saw in his clinic.
Usually, Menkin exposed the sperm and egg to each other for around 30 minutes. Not this time. Years later, she recalled what transpired to a reporter: “I was so exhausted and drowsy that, while watching under the microscope how the sperm were frolicking around the egg, I forgot to look at the clock until I suddenly realised that a whole hour had elapsed… In other words, I must admit that my success, after nearly six years of failure, was due – not to a stroke of genius – but simply to cat-napping on the job!”
On Friday, when she came back to the lab, she saw something miraculous: the cells had fused and were now dividing, giving her the world’s first glimpse of a human embryo fertilised in glass.
Audiobooks are having a moment. As they soar in popularity, they are becoming increasingly creative – is the book you listen to now an artform in its own right, asks Clare Thorp.
…Audiobooks are in the midst of a boom, with Deloitte predicting that the global market will grow by 25 per cent in 2020 to US$3.5 billion (£2.6 billion). Compared with physical book sales, audio is the baby of the publishing world, but it is growing up fast. Gone are the days of dusty cassette box-sets and stuffily-read versions of the classics. Now audiobooks draw A-list talent – think Elisabeth Moss reading The Handmaid’s Tale, Meryl Streep narrating Charlotte’s Web or Michelle Obama reading all 19 hours of her own memoir, Becoming. There are hugely ambitious productions using ensemble casts (the audio of George Saunders’ Booker Prize-winning Lincoln in the Bardo features 166 different narrators), specially created soundscapes and technological advances such as surround-sound 3D audio. Some authors are even skipping print and writing exclusive audio content.
…While audiobook sales are up and physical book sales down, it’s not a given that the two things are related. In fact, audio is pulling in new audiences – whether that’s listeners who don’t usually buy books, or readers listening to genres in audio format that they wouldn’t pick up in print.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Is that Emperor
Palpatine on an air guitar, or a Force guitar?
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock,
Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Darrah Chavey, James Davis
Nicoll, Michael J. Walsh, Peace Is My Middle Name, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve
(1) INTERSTELLAR TBR. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In response to comet Borisov streaking
through the solar system, the Guardian invited Alastair Reynolds to talk
about his favorite books about interstellar objects. Alongside some obvious
choices, he gives shout-outs to some lesser known gems. It’s a nice little
article: “Space invaders: the best books about interstellar
… A significant triumph in recent astronomy has been the detection of gravitational waves, finally achieved by an international consortium using immensely precise (and huge) laser interferometers. But the work to reach this discovery began a century ago, and encompasses a huge cast of heroes and dreamers – and its share of failure. InBlack Hole Blues astrophysicist Janna Levin has written the definitive account of this grand quest, and it’s as insightful about the human protagonists in this story as it is about the mind-bending physics of black holes and warped spacetime….
If you’re an author, be aware of the limitations in what BookScan captures. A good publisher or agent will know BookScan numbers are useful for analyzing overall sales trends but do not reflect total sales. Be sure to point out your correct sales numbers when approaching publishers and agents.
You can also try pointing out any important sales not captured by BookScan, such as with e-books. If you’ve hit a Kindle Bestseller list, definitely mention that because it won’t be reflected in BookScan. If you’ve likewise sold a large number of books at conventions and other appearances, mention that.
And if you’re an author where BookScan captures a much lower percentage of your print sales than the 45 to 50% mentioned above, point that out. The BookScan numbers for one of the ChiZine authors represented only 20% of their total print sales in the USA. If I was this author I’d mention that to any publisher or agent I worked with. Otherwise people may assume your sales are extremely low when they aren’t.
…I am currently safe and surrounded by friends every day. Suffice to say that I am devastated beyond words; even typing all of this feels trite and artificial. I don’t think there’s a person in this community in the last five years who doesn’t know how intensely I loved him or how instrumental he was in my life, in my work, and in my happiness. 2019 has been truly one of the worst in my life, as I unfortunately separated from him in the beginning of the year, a choice I knew was necessary but yet still regret and have regretted for a long time. Love is fucking awful like that, and there is no person on this Earth I have ever loved so completely and painfully as Baize.
…Baize’s mother started a fundraiser to pay for the astronomical costs of not just the funeral, but sending his body back home to Los Angeles for the funeral. It is most important that if you decide to help out, you start here. If you are not able, a simple boost on social media is very much appreciated.
… In 2003, the Broadcast Film Critics Association took a step in that direction, creating the category “best digital acting performance” for its Critics Choice Awards. Gollum won the inaugural award, for his part in “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.” Serkis accepted the award, along with New Zealand’s Weta Digital team, which animated the character. Among nominees, Gollum beat out Yoda for “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and Dobby from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” But the category was a bit controversial, and didn’t return the following year — or in any future Critics Choice Awards after that.
The MTV Movie Awards also went tongue-in-cheek with its Lifetime Achievement award for a period of time, handing out the prize to characters such as Chewbacca, John Shaft, Godzilla and Jason Voorhees — but that was in the telecast’s early, 1990s life.
On The Expanse, every choice has weight. Sometimes literally. Early in the show’s compelling fourth season, a character decides to leave her spaceship home and go planetside. It’s a decision her crewmates have made multiple times before, but in Naomi Nagata’s (Dominique Tipper) case, there are special circumstances. As a Belter, Naomi was born and raised in low-gravity environments, which means that her body hasn’t built up the necessary muscle mass to endure planetary gravity. The series hasn’t lost its sense of scope since it left the SyFy channel for Amazon Prime. If anything, it’s broadened its horizons, taking in new worlds and the political strife of multiple systems. Yet a small but meaningful amount of tension is generated out of wondering if a person can walk across level ground without collapsing.
Naomi’s struggles, and the attention paid to those struggles, is emblematic of what makes The Expanse so effective. The show’s canny use of consequences ensures that its wilder sci-fi concepts exist in a context that grounds them without diminishing their impact….
Narrators: Clare Corbett, Roy McMillan, Tom Bateman, Shaheen Khan, Kristin Atherton, Patience Tomlinson
Run time: 11 hours and 39 minutes
John Marrs’ The Passengers, which follows strangers from the near-future who are locked in their self-driving cars by a murderous hacker, might be your new favorite thriller. As read by a quintet of narrators—all British, for you American listeners looking for your next pond-hopping aural hit—and scored by tempered sound effects, this novel reads as a multi-dimensional nightmare. Do we need another reason to mistrust both technology and the government? Obviously not. Do we still plan to obsessively listen? Of course! If you’re the type of reader who enjoys a truly harrowing story, Marrs’ chilling book is for you.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 9, 1960 — The Twilight Zone First aired “The Trouble with Templeton”. Written by Ernest Jack Neuman (1921 – 1998) who was an Edgar and Peabody award-winning writer and producer, it had an amazing cast as well including Brian Aherne as Booth Templeton, Pippa Scott as Laura Templeton and Sydney Pollack as Arthur Willis. The Twilight Museum has an great essay on this episode here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 9, 1848 — Joel Chandler Harris. American journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist who is best known for his collection of Uncle Remus stories. Yes, he’s white and the stories are about the ‘Brer Rabbit’ stories from the African-American oral tradition but he’s widely accepted by all about having done these stories justice. James Weldon Johnson called them “the greatest body of folklore America has produced.” (Died 1908.)
Born December 9, 1900 — Margaret Brundage. An illustrator and painter who’s now remembered chiefly for having illustrated Weird Tales. She’s responsible for most of the covers for between 1933 and 1938. Wiki notes that L. Sprague de Camp and Clark Ashton Smith we’re several of the writers not fond of her style of illustration though other writers were. (Died 1976.)
Born December 9, 1902 — Margaret Hamilton. Most likely you’ll remember her best as The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. She would appear later in The Invisible Woman, along with much later being in 13 Ghosts, a horror film, and a minor role in The Night Strangler, a film sequel to The Night Stalker. (Died 1985.)
Born December 9, 1911 — Don Ward. Author of H. Rider Haggard’s She: The Story Retold. More intriguingly, he ghost-wrote works credited according to ESF to both Alfred Hitchcock (Bar the Doors: Terror Stories) and Orson Welles (Invasion from Mars: Interplanetary Stories). He also worked with Theodore Sturgeon on Sturgeon’s West. (Died 1984.)
Born December 9, 1916 — Jerome M. Beatty Jr. His best-read fiction is the Matthew and Maria Looney books, a SF series for children. They were a brother and sister who live on the Moon, part of an alien civilization resident there. ISFDB lists seven novels in total across two series, one for each child. Nothing of his books including The Tunnel to Yesterday, a time travel novel, is available digitally, nor does it appear that anything is in print currently. (Died 2002.)
Born December 9, 1934 — Judi Dench, 85. M in a lot of Bond films. Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love which is at genre adjacent, Society Lady in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Miss Avocet in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Her very first genre film in the late Sixties, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was poorly received by critics and I recall her role being a mostly nude faerie.
Born December 9, 1937 – Fandom. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says “Fandom’s Thursday meetings in London begin, 1937 – then weekly in a teashop, now in a pub on the first Thursday of the month.”
Born December 9, 1952 — Nicki Lynch, 68. She and her husband Rich Lynch edited Mimosa which won six Best Fanzine Hugos and was nominated a total of 14 times. She and her husband have been members of WSFA, the Southern Fandom Confederation, the Chattanooga Science Fiction Association. She has also been a member of SAPS, SFPA, Myriad (Galactic Hitch Hiker), and LASFAPA. Nth Degree has a neat conversation with her and her husband about Mimosahere.
Born December 9, 1952 — Michael Dorn, 67. Best known for his role as the Klingon Worf in the Trek franchise. Dorn has appeared on-screen in more Star Trek episodes and movies as the same character than anyone else.
Born December 9, 1953 — John Malkovich, 66. I was pondering if I was going to include him then decided that Being John Malkovich which won him a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor was enough for me to include him. What a strange role that is! He also shows up in the dreadful Jonah Hex film and played Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach in the Crossbones series which is at genre adjacent. He also appeared in Mutant Chronicles, though, and there was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well.
Born December 9, 1970 — Kevin Hearne, 49. I’ve really, really enjoyed the Iron Druid Chronicles. Though I’ll confess that I’ve not yet read the spin-off series, Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries.
…In the original film, Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd’s Ray Stantz, and the late Harold Ramis’ Egon Spengler investigated a spirit in the New York Public Library, where they found a similar tower in one of the basement corridors. “Symmetrical book stacking!” Ray exclaimed, like a kid opening a birthday present. “Just like the Philadelphia Mass Turbulence of 1947!”
“You’re right,” Peter replied, drolly. “No human being would stack books like this.”
In that original scene, we hear a haunting, three-note piano trill on Elmer Bernstein’s score as the three men proceed deeper into the library. Those same three notes play in the Afterlife trailer when Mr. Grooberson examines a real-life ghost trap….
… Droll, chilled out, and scarily articulate, Gibson talked about the future on television. (“It doesn’t matter how fast your modem is if you’re being shelled by ethnic separatists,” he told the BBC.) He appeared on the cover of Wired, did some corporate consulting, and met David Bowie and Debbie Harry. For a time, U2, which had based its album “Zooropa” in part on Gibson’s work, planned to scroll the entirety of “Neuromancer” on a screen above the stage during its Zoo TV tour. The plan never came to fruition, but Gibson got to know the band; the Edge showed him how to telnet. During this period, Gibson was often credited with having “predicted” the Internet. He pointed out that his noir vision of online life had little in common with the early Web. Still, he had captured a feeling—a sense of post-everything information-driven transformation—that, by the nineties, seemed to be everywhere.
As the Internet became more accessible, Gibson discovered that he wasn’t terribly interested in spending time online himself. He was fascinated, though, by the people who did. They seemed to grow hungrier for the Web the more of it they consumed. It wasn’t just the Internet; his friends seemed to be paying more attention to media in general. When new television shows premièred, they actually cared. One of them showed him an episode of “Cops,” the pioneering reality series in which camera crews sprinted alongside police officers as they apprehended suspects. Policing, as performance, could be monetized. He could feel the world’s F.Q. drifting upward….
(12) HOLODECK QUALITY
EXPERIENCE. Olav Rokne says, “Anytime
I see an article about Douglas Trumbull in the news, I’m going to read it
because the guy created the most important visuals of my childhood. I still
think the best Enterprise is the one from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
— “‘Star Trek’ special effects expert gives talk in
… MAGI projects regular and 3D images at a rate of 120 frames per second. The standard rate at modern theaters is 24 frames per second.
Trumbull has been working on the MAGI technology for years at his home studio, where he has constructed a prototype of the MAGI Pods he hopes to one day install at public venues and movie theaters across the globe. These pods are fully enclosed, small-theater experiences featuring a hemispherical screen and cutting edge projection and sound technology.
“It’s so much like a holodeck, you wouldn’t believe it if you actually saw what we have,” Trumbull said. “In this hemispherical screen, with laser projection, and an extremely wide field of view and my frame rate, it’s like a window onto reality. It’s as close to a holodeck as we are going to get, and we could do it tomorrow, right now.”…
(13) PROPOSED INTERVENTION. A spammer is offering to help Paul Weimer fix everything wrong with File 770. Which apparently is a lot — (click for larger image)
Some of my titles are too long? (Said in the same tone as Rick in Casablanca
when he looks up from his dossier and asks, “Are my eyes really blue?”)
Meanwhile Paul wonders, why him?
There actually have been days when this blog has been run by a non-male person (like when I was hospitalized, or needed a couple days away). Did the spammers not notice, or just treat the sudden, short-lived improvement as a statistical outlier? 🙂
(14) LEARNING ABOUT FACIAL RECOGNITION. Don’t be put off by
the Harvard Gazette’s headline: “Who’s That Girl?”
Our ability to recognize faces is a complex interplay of environment, neurobiology, and contextual cues. Now a study from Harvard Medical School suggests that country-to-country variations in sociocultural dynamics — notably the degree of gender equality in each — can yield marked differences in men’s and women’s ability to recognize famous faces.
The findings, published Nov. 29 in Scientific Reports, reveal that men living in countries with high gender equality — Scandinavian and certain Northern European nations — accurately identify the faces of female celebrities nearly as well as women. Men living in countries with lower gender equality, such as India or Pakistan, fare worse than both their Scandinavian peers and women in their own country on the same task. U.S. males, the study found, fall somewhere in between, a finding that aligns closely with America’s mid-range score on the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index.
The results are based on scores from web-based facial recognition tests of nearly 3,000 participants from the U.S. and eight other countries, and suggest that sociocultural factors can shape the ability to discern individual characteristics over broad categories. They suggest that men living in countries with low gender equality are prone to cognitive “lumping” that obscures individual differences when it comes to recognizing female faces.
Walmart Canada is apologizing after several adult-themed “ugly” Christmas sweaters — including one involving Santa and drugs — were posted for sale on its website.
…One sweater shows a bug-eyed Saint Nick and three lines of a white substance that is heavily implied to be cocaine, along with the phrase “let it snow.”
…Another featured an upside-down snowman with its carrot nose and jingle bells suggestive of genitals while another showed Santa roasting his “chestnuts” over a holiday ornamented fireplace.
(18) ON THE AVENUE. HBO dropped a new trailer for Avenue
5 with Hugh Laurie:
(19) A GRAND IDEA. Rich Horton is happy with SFWA’s latest
choice for Grand Master – however, he would be even happier if an exception
could be made to allow the addition of one more woman writer, as he
explained to his Facebook followers.
Lois McMaster Bujuld has just been named the latest SFWA Grand Master, an honor she surely deserves. She is the seventh. The first was Andre Norton, in 1984.
However, in 1983 SFWA wanted to name C. L. Moore Grand Master. Alas, she had Alzheimer’s disease, and her family declined the award in her name, stating that she would find this too confusing. (Some have suggested that her second husband’s dislike of SF contributed to this, but I don’t know that we KNOW this, and, especially after the recent revelations about John M. Ford’s case, I don’t want to make such assumptions without knowing more about it.)
Moore was an entirely deserving recipient, and in fact the list of Grand Masters seems incomplete without her. And an idea occurred to me — would it be possible for SFWA to, even at this late date, posthumously award C. L. Moore the Grand Master title?…
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster,
Olav Rokne, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, N., Michael Tolan, Contrarius, and John
King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
…Now, that’s almost certainly the Ghost. Not a Force Ghost, THE Ghost. What’s the Ghost?
It’s the customized VCX-100 light freighter flown by Captain Hera Syndulla, which was kind of the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars Rebels. Later, it appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and, thanks to the epilogue of Rebels, we knew it survived until the timeline of the sequel trilogy. Now, it seems the Ghost, and probably even Hera herself, are standing with the Falcon in what we can only assume is the Resistance’s final stand against the First Order.
And they saw even more ships in
that brief scene that you’ll probably need to look up in the Wookieepedia.
I have some good news for those of you who haven’t been paying close attention to comic books: Batman comics are finally readable!
That’s a major change from the puerile adventures which editor Jack Schiff has been presenting in the pages of Batman and Detective Comics. For all too many years, Schiff and his team of seemingly subpar creators have delivered a never-ending stream of absurdly juvenile tales of the Caped Crusader and his steadfast sidekick. He gave us ridiculous and dumb tales in which Batman gallivanted in outer space, Robin was romantically pursued by the pre-teen Bat-Girl, and the absurdly awful Bat-Mite showed up at random times to add chaos to Batman’s life. Even adventures which featured classic Batman villains (such as last fall’s Batman #159, “the Great Clayface-Joker Feud,”) fell far short of even the most basic standards of quality. Great they were not.
Have there been any particular books or writers who influenced you, whether in or outside the genre? [I’m a Jane Austen fan and live in Bath, which has featured in many dramatizations of her work]
As I mentioned previously, one of the inspirations for Daughter of Mystery was wanting to write a Georgette Heyer novel with lesbians. But the other major inspiration–if maddening frustration can be a form of inspiration–was Ellen Kushner’s novel The Privilege of the Sword. That book came so close to being the perfect novel of my heart…and then turned out to be a different novel. A perfectly wonderful novel, but not the book I desperately wanted. So that was another influence, not so much in writing style, but in the “feel” of the story–a story about brave and clever girls who love and rescue each other.
Jane Austen is something of an underlayer, if only in providing examples of the world of women in early 19th century Europe. One of the historical realities that modern readers aren’t always aware of is how strictly gender-segregated 19th century life was. Women–especially unmarried women–spent most of their lives socializing with other women and living with them in intimate proximity. It makes setting up same-sex relationships much easier! It’s been very important to me to center the series on women and their connections and community with each other. Too many historical stories allow women only as isolated characters, always interacting with men. In reality, if a woman had a problem or a puzzle or a project, the first people she’d turn to would be other women. I wanted the series to reflect that.
(5) MORE ON DALLAS TORNADO. Fanartist Brad Foster and his
wife Cindy also escaped injury, however, they were
almost right in the tornado’s path and their home suffered roof damage,
while in the yard trees and fences took a hit.
Narrating her memoir was more difficult than revisiting her words in the editing process. “There’s something to the art of reading it out loud, and it being an oral telling as opposed to written, that brings [those experiences] even more to the forefront. Reading it out loud in the booth, it was just even more intense. I was reliving it that much more.” The memoir details how she became a writer, showing “the idea that those things we think will break us can actually be the things that make us. All of these experiences that we have are useful, even the terrible ones. It’s just a matter of how you choose to use them. Because they are going to be there regardless. Do you want to just let them fester there, or do you want to make something out of them?”
Science Fiction is famous for the bewildering variety of worlds it imagines. This is particularly true for its political systems. A newcomer to SF might well be astounded by the diverse range of governmental arrangements on display. Let me provide some examples…
And even better, we know who they’ll be playing, per Deadline: “Pace plays Brother Day, the current Emperor of the Galaxy. Harris plays Hari Seldon, a mathematical genius who predicts the demise of the Empire.”
…Avengers and Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon singled out [James] Gunn’s work when responding to Scorsese earlier this month. He tweeted, “I first think of @JamesGunn, how his heart & guts are packed into GOTG. I revere Marty, & I do see his point, but… Well there’s a reason why ‘I’m always angry’” (the latter quote being a Hulk reference).
Speaking to Sky News, the two-time Palme d’Or-winning Brit described Marvel’s output as “boring” and cynically produced.
“They’re made as commodities like hamburgers, and it’s not about communicating, and it’s not about sharing our imagination,” he said. “It’s about making a commodity which will make a profit for a big corporation – they’re a cynical exercise. They’re a market exercise, and it has nothing to do with the art of cinema. William Blake said, ‘When money is discussed, art is impossible.'”
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 22, 1936 — According to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, today is the day, “Fandom gathering at Milton A. Rothman’s home in Philadelphia, 1936, declares itself to be the first sf Convention. Some fans accept this; others consider the following year’s Leeds UK event a more significant landmark since it was organized in advance as a convention and used public meeting facilities.”
October 22, 2006 — Torchwood, a companion to Doctor Who, premiered on BBC Three. Starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles, it ran for forty one episodes over five years. And Big Finish Productions has produced some thirty audio-stories so far.
October 22, 2016 — On this day in the U.K. and Canada, Class, a spin-off series of Doctor Who, premiered. Starring Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed and Sophie Hopkins, the series would last just a single season of eight episodes due to really poor ratings though Big Finish Audio continued the series as an audiowork.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 22, 1919 — Doris Lessing. The five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives certainly established her genre creds. I personally would add her Cat Tales, three volumes of stories and nonfiction (Particularly Cats, Rufus the Survivor and The Old Age of El Magnifico) to your reading list. (Died 2013.)
Born October 22, 1922 — Lee Jacobs. LA fan in the last years of his life. I’m mentioning him here because he’s credited with the word filk which was his entirely unintentional creation. He typoed folk in a contribution to the Spectator Amateur Press Society in the 1950s: “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music.” Yes I know that its first documented intentional use was by Karen Anderson in Die Zeitschrift für vollständigen Unsinn (The Journal for Utter Nonsense) #774 (June 1953), for a song written by her husband Poul. (Died 1968.)
Born October 22, 1938 — Christopher Lloyd, 81. He has starred as Commander Kruge in The Search for Spock, Emmett “Doc” Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and the Addams Family Values. (Huh. I didn’t spot him in those.) Let’s not forget that he was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Bigbooté, and he played Dr. Cletus Poffenberger in a recurring role on Tremors.
Born October 22, 1938 — Derek Jacobi, 81. He played a rather nicely nasty Master in “Utopia”, a Tenth Doctor story. He’s currently Metatron on Good Omens. And he was Magisterial Emissary in The Golden Compass.
Born October 22, 1939 — Suzy McKee Charnas, 80. I’d say The Holdfast Chronicles are her best work to date. Certainly they’re the most honored, winning Gaylactic Spectrum, James Tiptree Jr. and Lambda Literary Awards. Any of you read her Sorcery Hall series?
Born October 22, 1943 — Jim Baen. Editor of Galaxy and If. Considered to be the first profitable Ebooks publisher. Founder of Baen Books. (Died 2006.)
Born October 22, 1952 — Jeff Goldblum, 67. The Wiki page gushes over him for being in Jurassic Park and Independence Day (as well as their sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and Independence Day: Resurgence, but neglects my favorite film with him in it, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, not to mention the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake he was in.
Born October 22, 1954 — Graham Joyce. Selecting his best novel is a futile exercise as everything is fantastically good but I’ll single out Some Kind of Fairy Tale and The Tooth Fairy as the ones I found the most interesting reads. (Died 2014.)
Born October 22, 1956 — Gretchen Roper, 63. Long-time member of fandom, filker and con-runner. She co-founded Dodeka Records with her husband, Bill Roper. She received with her husband the Pegasus Award for Best Original Humorous Song, “My Husband The Filker”, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2008. She runs The Secret Empire, a business selling filk and other things at cons.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
XKCD has a Narnia joke. (And remember, these cartoons have a second joke in a rollover– rest your cursor on the pictures and you see more text.)
Tom Gauld tries to help out New Scientist’s AI readers.
6. Engage. It can be a scary thing to approach folks at conventions. There isn’t really any way around it, but practice does make it easier. Start, if you like, by asking questions at panels that permit it. You can then use that to speak to any of the panelists afterwards, asking for clarification or even pointers. Also, try the dealer’s room if the convention has one. It’s a great place to practice conversational skills, and most of the vendors are quite happy to chat. I know I am.
Edgar Pangborn has been writing science fiction under his own name for thirteen years at this point and was apparently writing under other names before that. However, none of his stories have been translated into German and the availability of English language science fiction magazines is spotty at best. Therefore, I had never encountered Pangborn’s work before, when I came across his latest novel Davy in my local import bookstore.
…We’ve known for a while now that Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is getting a new suit this season, but now we finally know how he receives it. In this exclusive clip from tonight’s episode, Agent Odell (Bill Duke) gives the imprisoned superhero a gift: a watch. Jefferson is initially skeptical because it looks like a normal timepiece and he’s probably suspicious of anything the shady ASA spook gives him. But Odell continues to gently push Jefferson until he actually tests it out and discovers the watch’s real purpose: It’s basically a morpher that contains Black Lightning’s sleek new super-suit.
“This is the reason we have you have here, why we’re testing you, why we’re putting you through so much pain and struggle,” says Odell as the suit begins to cover a Jefferson’s body. “It’s so we can create tech that will help all metas to live better. The Markovians are planning on killing or capturing all of the metas in Freeland. I cannot stop them without your help.”
Traces of ancient “glue” on a stone tool from 50,000 years ago points to complex thinking by Neanderthals, experts say.
The glue was made from birch tar in a process that required forward planning and involved several different steps.
It adds to mounting evidence that we have underestimated the capabilities of our evolutionary cousins.
Only a handful of Neanderthal tools bear signs of adhesive, but experts say the process could have been widespread.
The tool, found in the Netherlands, has spent the last 50,000 years under the North Sea. This may have helped preserve the tar adhesive.
Co-author Marcel Niekus, from the Stichting STONE/Foundation for Stone Age Research in Groningen, said the simple stone flake was probably used either for cutting plant fibres or for scraping animal skins.
While birch tar may have been used by Neanderthals to attach stone tools to wooden handles in some cases, this particular tool probably had a grip made only of tar. Dr Niekus said there was no imprint from a wood or bone shaft in the tar.
It would have enabled the user to apply more pressure to the stone flake without cutting their hands – turning the edge into a precision cutting tool.
…Produced by JPL Fellow and national Emmy Award-winner Blaine Baggett, the hour-long film tells the story of how the mission stayed alive despite a multitude of technical challenges, including a years-long launch delay and the devastating failure of its main antenna to open properly in space. It is also the story of a team of scientists and engineers transformed through adversity into what many came to regard as a tight-knit family.
“Saving Galileo” picks up from Baggett’s previous documentary “To the Rescue,” which focuses on the mission’s tortuous path to the launch pad. Together the films capture how, despite its many challenges and limitations, Galileo proved a resounding success, leading to profound scientific insights that continue to draw NASA and JPL back to Jupiter for new adventures.
If there’s one thing you do want to catch from a trip to your doctor, it’s her optimism.
A new study, published Monday in the journal Nature Human Behavior, finds that patients can pick up on subtle facial cues from doctors that reveal the doctor’s belief in how effective a treatment will be. And that can have a real impact on the patient’s treatment outcome.
Scientists have known since at least the 1930s that a doctor’s expectations and personal characteristics can significantly influence a patient’s symptom relief. Within research contexts, avoiding these placebo effects is one reason for double blind studies — to keep experimenters from accidentally biasing their results by telegraphing to test subjects what they expect the results of a study to be.
The new study both demonstrates that the placebo effect is transmitted from doctor to patient, and shows how it might work.
(20) OWN LE GUIN DOCUMENTARY. The latest Kickstarter
backer update for the documentary Worlds of Ursula Le Guin contains
information on how to view a digital copy and buy a DVD:
We know many of you haven’t yet had a chance to watch the film – we’re trying to bring it to you as quickly as we can. Online streaming, DVD, and broadcast opportunities vary by country, and continue to evolve, but here’s our latest update:
In the United States and English-speaking Canada, the film is now available to rent and buy via iTunes. For residents whose reward package didn’t include a DVD, you can also pre-order the DVD through our US distributor Grasshopper Films.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the film will be available to stream on BBC iPlayer after our broadcast date, expected to be announced soon. DVDs will be available in September 2021.
If you live in Israel, streaming and DVDs will be available in March 2020.
For everyone else, you can pre-order the DVD internationally through Grasshopper Films. We’re also planning a worldwide Video-on-Demand (VOD) release in December for participating countries (excluding those listed above, and some others).
Note that our DVD release date has shifted – we now expect to have DVDs ready to send out by mid-November. All DVDs will include closed captions in English for the hearing impaired, subtitles in several languages, and special extras we rescued from the cutting room floor. DVDs won’t be region-specific, so viewers around the world should be able to watch them.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. in “Bicycle” on Vimeo, Cool 3D World shows what happens when
five green men decide to ride a bicycle.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Rob
Thornton, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day
Books, one of the top independent publishers of science fiction and fantasy,
and RBmedia, a global leader in spoken audio content, have announced an
agreement to publish more than 170 audiobooks over the next three years. The
partnership brings together Baen’s bestselling, award-winning content and
RBmedia’s market-leading position as a publisher of sci-fi and fantasy
agreement means publication of both frontlist titles–with a primary focus on
alternate history and science fiction–as well as many titles from Baen’s
extensive backlist, including classics from Science
Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Grand Masters and
long-time fan favorites that
have not previously been released in audio format. RBmedia will publish Baen
Books titles across its family of imprints, including Recorded Books and
recent and upcoming RBmedia exclusive audiobook productions include:
In Fury Born by David Weber
The Council Wars series by John Ringo
The Belisarius series by David Drake & Eric Flint
The General series by David Drake, Eric Flint, S.M. Stirling, & Tony Daniel
The Domination (Draka) series by S.M. Stirling
SERRAted Edge: The Doubled Edge series by Mercedes Lackey & Roberta Gellis
The Witchy War trilogy by D.J. Butler
The Chronicles of Kencyrath by P.C. Hodgell The entire Technic History series
the soaring demand for audiobooks, especially in the realms of science fiction
and fantasy, Baen is thrilled to be entering into this partnership with RBmedia
to make sure our rousing tales of adventure are available in all formats,” said
James Minz, Director of Subsidiary Rights for Baen Books. “With this deal, Baen
Books will have licensed as an audiobook virtually every available title on our
first titles published under the agreement will be available starting this
monthon Audible, iTunes, Google Play, Audiobooks.com, public libraries via
RBdigital, and many other sites that provide digital audio. The remainder will
be released over the next three years.
Guest Post by Aurelia C. Scott: [Reprinted
company named Deep Space Industries is working on a plan to harvest minerals
from asteroids. Not immediately, but as soon as they can configure “high
performance propulsion systems, deep space buses and precision control
systems.” Once they’ve done it, the asteroid mining subplot in Martha Wells’s
marvelous MURDERBOT series
(read by Kevin R. Free) won’t be fictional science anymore. Rocket trips aren’t
for me, but a deep-space bus? That I could do. Today’s Audio Adventures leave
start on an independent mining station within the Teixcalaan Empire, where the
new ambassador from Lsel, Mahit Dzmare, arrives to discover that her
predecessor has been murdered, the technology she needs to communicate with her
home planet has failed, and her own life is threatened. Arkady Martine’s debut
space opera, A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE,
is an other-world murder mystery cum political thriller that has critics
raving. Our reviewer applauded Amy Landon’s “cool, calm narration” and her
skill in differentiating characters while navigating the fascinating diplomatic
subplot. Even better, it’s the first in a proposed series.
continuing with space-thriller adventures in ONE WAY and NO WAY by S.J.
Morden, a planetary geologist and winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for
science fiction writing. Both recent novels are well narrated by William Hope
and take place on Mars, where our ex-convict/everyman hero, Frank, has been
sent to help build a corporate research station. Absolutely nothing goes
according to plan, and without giving too much away, I’ll say that Frank must
plumb all his smarts and inner resources in order to survive. The science stuff
is as fun as the drama.
of us not in space will soon be dealing with a changed home planet. In the
first two installments of Rebecca Roanhorse’s terrific The Sixth
World series, TRAIL OF LIGHTNING
and STORM OF LOCUSTS,
energy wars, devastating climate change, and governmental disintegration have
flooded the planet. The Navajo tribal land of Dinétah is one of the few
dry places in North America. There we meet monster-hunter Maggie Hoskie,
beautifully voiced by Tanis Parenteau, who’s won rave reviews and an Earphones
Award for narrations that honor Native intonations and rhythms. The first book
pairs Maggie with an unconventional medicine man as they search for a missing
girl. The second sets her on a quest for a mysterious cult leader. Throughout,
mythic gods, heroes, and monsters walk the land along with people, which is
just as complicated and exciting as it sounds.
do you feel about games? Not the digital kind that divert the attention
of my nearest and dearest (one of whom fell off a curb into traffic while
playing Pokémon Go). But traditional, wholesome games such as chess,
backgammon, and hide-and-seek. Well, World Fantasy award-winning author Claire
North turns that wholesomeness upside down in her mind-bending novel THE GAMESHOUSE,
which combines three earlier novellas into one. The “gameshouse” can appear
anywhere in the world in any era, and inside, the most talented players compete
for unimaginable stakes. Narrator Peter Kenny is a marvel as he transforms
himself into a myriad of characters. Think of them the next time you’re
considering whether or not to join your friends in an Escape Room.
I also recommend Claire North’s 2015 THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY
AUGUST, for which narrator Peter Kenny won an Earphones
Award. The titular Harry is a member of the Cronus Club, composed of rare
people like him who live many times and remember everything. Club members keep
each other from trying to change the course of history. Then someone tries, and
in this terrific blend of fantasy and literary fiction, it’s up to Harry to
fun in the future, everyone.
Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia Scott often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.
From AudioFile Magazine, a sampler of new and classic sff audiobooks for fans to listen to this summer. Click on the titles for more information, and on the SoundCloud links to hear the narrators at work.
It has to be difficult to provide the voices for an entire city. Yet that’s just what narrator Robin Miles does wonderfully in this mystery set aboard the space station Cuidad de Cielo (City in the Sky). Complicating matters is the fact that this outpost, a jumping-off point to the stars, is populated by outcasts of many nationalities who are seeking new lives.
Narrator Dan Bittner throws himself into this science-fiction adventure with the enthusiasm the story begs for. Cade Sura grew up certain that his older brother, Tristan, is the Paragon who will reclaim the galaxy from the evil Praxis Empire. When Cade ends up in Tristan’s place, he has to lean on his misfit crew of friends to save the day.
Provenance by Ann Leckie, read by Adjoa Andoh (Earphones Award Winner)
Narrator Adjoah Andoh creates a stunning tapestry of characters within the vast galaxy this audiobook spans. Her theater background allows her to give distinctive timbres and accents to every character, which helps to keep the large cast and complex story straight.
George Guidall narrates this classic novel with gravity and emotion. He smoothly shifts his voice between that of the outsider Genly Ai, a black man with a masculine voice who is acting as an ambassador on the distant planet Gethen, and the more androgynous voices of the gender-shifting humanoid aliens.
This full-cast performance, augmented by sound effects and music, does justice to a classic of the science fiction genre. Dune, a complex tale of greed, the quest for power, and the indomitable human spirit, follows the development of young Paul Atreides into the messianic Muad’Dib.