NESFA Presents Skylark, Gaughan Awards at Boskone 58

The New England Science Fiction Association honored the winners of two annual awards at Boskone 58 on February 13.

SKYLARK AWARD

  • Anthony Lewis

The Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (the Skylark) is presented annually by NESFA® to some person, who, in the opinion of the membership, has contributed significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late “Doc” Smith well-loved by those who knew him.

Skylark Award winner Anthony Lewis in 2002.

GAUGHAN AWARD

  • Hilary Clarcq

The Gaughan Award honors the memory of Jack Gaughan, a long-time friend of fandom and one of the finest SF artists of the 20th century. Because Jack felt it was important to encourage and recognize new blood in the field, The New England Science Fiction Association, Inc., presents the Gaughan Award annually to an emerging artist (an artist who has become a professional within the past five years) chosen by a panel of judges.

Clarcq’s website, with images of many more works, is here.

Gaughan Award winner Hilary Clarcq

Boskone 2021 Pre-Con Report

By Daniel Dern: Boskone 58 is coming soon — Friday, February 12 through Sunday, February 14, 2021. The Boskone 58 event site is located here on Grenadine. As I write this, there are about 190 program items/events and around 150 speakers listed.

The Guests of Honor (GoH’s) are:

  • GUEST OF HONOR: Joe Abercrombie
  • SPECIAL GUEST: Sheree Renée Thomas
  • OFFICIAL ARTIST: Julie Dillon
  • MUSICAL GUEST: Marc Gunn
  • HAL CLEMENT SCIENCE SPEAKERS: Mike Brotherton & Christian Ready
  • NESFA PRESS GUEST: Ursula Vernon

Listed participants include a mix of familiar and new names/faces — including, I’m sure, many who might otherwise have been able to schedule/travel (in happier times) in person, including (to name just a few) Jeanne Cavelos, John Chu, Neil Clarke, Guy Consolmagno, C. S. E. Cooney, Bruce Coville, Ellen Datlow, Aliette de Bodard, Vincent Di Fate, S.B. Divya, Vince Docherty, Cory Doctorow, Sarah Beth Durst, Scott Edelman, Bob Eggleton, Greer Gilman, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Max Gladstone, Andrea Hairston, Carlos Hernandez, James Patrick Kelly, Marcin “Alqua” Klak, Mur Lafferty, Tabitha Lord, Kwame Mbalia, Larry Niven, Garth Nix, Suzanne Palmer, Tamora Pierce, Julia Rios, Charles Stross, Michael Swanwick, Carrie Vaughn, Fran Wilde, Connie Willis, and Jane Yolen.

Because of some of the interesting ways NESFA is doing this year’s Boskone, I feel it’s worth providing this pre-con report, including reasons to register  before the last minute if you haven’t already — and why it might be worth it even if you don’t have much online time available during those days.

(Note, any “according to Boskone” or unattributed-in-text quotes are from the Boskone web site.)

AFFORDABLE! Like Arisia 2021 (see my File770 Arisia post-con report), this year’s Boskone is, unsurprisingly, virtual-only — and full-weekend membership is, similarly, a modest $25.00.

Information like the program participants list and the program is publicly viewable — useful for deciding whether you want to “go.”

Membership gives you access to “the entire event site and program, including panel recordings, the Con Suite (where parties will be held in Zoom breakout rooms), the internal messaging system for chatting, and our special embedded chat windows for program items, art show, dealers, and fan tables.”

Boskone also lets you not buy a membership but still make a $5 (or multiples of) supporting contribution. You don’t get any convention access, but, according to Boskone, “Your gift helps defray expenses such as converting to an online format, providing American Sign Language services, assistance with our New Voices Fund, memberships for those in need, and more.”

KAFFEEKLATCH SIGNUPS! Kaffeeklatsch signups went live at noon EST Wednesday February 5, and while there’s more “seats” than I’ve typically seen at live cons — twenty-two, versus ten-to-twelve — they’re beginning to fill up. (I’ve already registered, and signed up for the ones I want to be at/in.) [Click for larger image.]

RECORDED PROGRAMMING. Unlike Arisia2021, Boskone will be recording all sessions that are done in the Zoom format. According to Boskone this will include “all panels, solo presentations, and other items that are held as a webinar. The only exception to this rule is if a program participant has asked not to be recorded.)…and there will be approximately 90 items recorded, with videos becoming available by the end of each day.” Note, according to a Boskone committeeperson, kaffeeklatches will NOT be recorded.

Boskone intends to make videos available by the end of each day — and, importantly, “We are keeping the Boskone 58 event site up through the end of February 2021.”

Given that I’ve currently flagged nearly three dozen program items as potentially interesting — and only two of those aren’t conflicting with one or two other sessions (and none of those slots have more than one KaffeeKlatch that I’ve signed up for) — I could easily be belatedly Boskone-ing up for a fortnight post-Boskone! I do expect to winnow my selections down — but it’s nice to not have to choose which one to go to — or regret choices because it sounds like the room next door is having more fun, or because I learn I missed a great discussion elsewhere.

If there aren’t KaffeeKlatches you want to be at, you can wait until the last minute — and if you’re OK with watching the recorded sessions, that’s not necessarily late in the game. (The web site currently says that Memberships are “Available Until 14 Feb, 2021.”)  [ NOTE, the registration page — and this article — had originally said “Until 15 February, 2021” but that has been updated, hence also my article.]

SUNDRY NOTES. Unlike Arisia 2021, which used a mix of web, Zoom and Discord, Boskone 58 is being  billed as a “single sign on event.” (Arisia 2021, by contrast, used Discord for some of the chat.)

Boskone is using the Grenadine event platform — which they’ve been using for several years (as have several other cons I’ve gone to, including the Dublin 2019 WorldCon). (With one exception: game players will have to sign up for the Board Game Arena.)

Magic show! I’m looking forward to being in the audience for a change, for the “Starship Magic Show” a “50-minute SF themed magic show. Vulcan’s Greatest Magician, S’kai, is presented by Dr. Willie Yee.”

 Convinced yet?

I’m of course sad that Mark and Priscilla Olson don’t seem to be doing their “Trivia For Chocolate” evening game show (where I surprisingly often end up in the top half-dozen), but I can see how this would be tricky to run over Zoom — and even harder to throw the point-keeping chocolate Thin Mints at the correct-or-snarky answerers.)

Ditto, I’ll miss schmoozing with friends F2F. On the other hand, no worries about weather, transit failures, hotel snafus, restaurant lines, or coffee not near ready in the Con Suite before the mornings’ first panels.

(Plus, harder to get autographs.)

I’m looking for to being at Boskone 58 — some as it happens, the rest before the end of the month.

Pixel Scroll 1/1/21 I’ve Scrolled Pixels You People Wouldn’t Believe

(1) NEW BANNER. Thanks to Taral Wayne for creating the new header art! It’s based on the famous Prague astronomical clock face.

(2) ALL ABOARD. Deadline introduces another companion: “’Doctor Who’: John Bishop Joins The TARDIS In Season 13”.

Actor and comedian John Bishop will be joining the Thirteenteenth Doctor and Yaz on the TARDIS on the upcoming 13th season of BBC America’s Doctor Who. Season 13 began filming in November and is expected to premiere later in 2021.

Bishop will play Dan in the new season. As he becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures, Dan will quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe. Traveling through space and time alongside the Doctor and Yaz, he’ll face evil alien races beyond his wildest nightmares.

(3) NOW IN PUBLIC DOMAIN. NPR invites everyone to “Party Like It’s 1925 On Public Domain Day (Gatsby And Dalloway Are In)”.

… 1925 was the year of heralded novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf, seminal works by Sinclair Lewis, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein, Agatha Christie, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Aldous Huxley … and a banner year for musicians, too. Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, among hundreds of others, made important recordings. And 1925 marked the release of canonical movies from silent film comedians Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

As of today, every single one of those works has entered the public domain. “That means that copyright has expired,” explains Jennifer Jenkins, a law professor at Duke University who directs its Center for the Study of the Public Domain. “And all of the works are free for anyone to use, reuse, build upon for anyone — without paying a fee.”

On January 1 every year, a new batch of published works is liberated from the constraints of copyright. (For a long time, copyright expired after 75 years, but in 1998, Congress extended the date of copyright expiration for works published between 1923 and 1977 to 95 years.)… 

NPR’s named some of the works entering public domain – the first four on their list are:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Trial (in German) by Franz Kafka

(4) NEW YEAR’S CHOWDOWN. Scott Edelman says “It’s time for cookies and conversation with writer/editor/publisher Ian Randal Strock” in Episode 135 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Ian — who may be the person with whom I’ve appeared on more panels than any other — is currently the owner, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Gray Rabbit Publications and its speculative fiction imprint, Fantastic Books. He began his genre career by working at both Analog and Asimov’s magazines for six years, starting out as an editorial assistant, and rising to be Associate Editor.

He left to launch his own magazine of science fiction and science fact Artemis, which he edited and published for four years. He’s twice won the Analog Readers Poll — both for his short fiction and a science fact article. He’s also quite a history buff, having published The Presidential Book of ListsRanking the Vice Presidents, and other political titles.

We discussed what he said upon meeting Isaac Asimov which caused the Grand Master to refuse to write him a limerick, why he prefers The Princess Bride novel to the movie, the reason his father advised him not to name his publishing company after himself, why the 1,000-word short story is his natural length, the question editor Stan Schmidt asked before purchasing his first story for Analog, the essay which so thrilled him he felt compelled to start his own magazine, the most difficult aspect of running your own publishing company, why ending a story too late isn’t as great a sin as starting one too early, how his fascination with presidential trivia began in the bathroom, and much more.

(5) ANIME OF THE YEAR. Anime News Network is running a series of posts under the heading The Best Anime of 2020. The first four are:

(6) PARENTHOOD. Cora Buhlert answered your call for a counterpart to the Darth Vader Parenthood Award for good fictional parents: Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award

… As I said in my previous post, there was quite a bit of competition for the Fictional Parent of the Year Award in 2020, more than for the Darth Vader Parenthood Award in fact, which suggests that popular culture is moving towards portraying more loving parents, which is a very good thing.

So let’s take a look at the potential candidates…

(7) SFF’S TOP SHORT STORIES WEIGHED AND MEASURED. Mark Kelly, creator of the Science Fiction Awards Database, has devised a way to use his data to rank the all-time “Top SF/F/H Short Stories”. Will your mileage vary? The ranked stories are at the first link. Kelly’s explanation of how the numbers are crunched is here: Short Fiction Scoring Methodology.

(8) MEMORIAL. The grave of Charles R. Saunders was without a headstone until friends intervened. “Literary lion buried in unmarked grave sparks call for change in Nova Scotia”CBC News has the story.

… In Los Angeles, Taaq Kirksey was lost in a fog of grief, compounded by the nightmare reality that his dear friend lay in an unmarked grave thousands of kilometres away.

“The first few minutes, I literally had to remind myself of my own name and my age. ‘I’m Taaq Kirksey. I’ve got two kids and a wife and this is where I work and what I do.’ Because Imaro had been all I had known and all I had thought about really since 2002.”

He worked with a group of Saunders’s friends and collaborators in the U.S. and Canada, including several journalists at CBC, to right the wrong.  

The group set up a fundraiser and within 24 hours, hundreds of people had donated thousands of dollars. The group ordered a tombstone for Saunders. They also created a stone monument to Imaro that will feature original artwork from Mshindo, a celebrated American artist of Afro-futurism who created iconic covers for the Imaro books. It will stand facing his grave. 

“He had such community there to pick up the slack and say, ‘No, this has to get rectified,'” Kirksey says. “Charles’s life was so rich. He had a literary life that might have been global, but he was also a luminary in Nova Scotia, certainly a Black cultural luminary in Nova Scotia, and that was just as much a part as his literary pedigree.”

(9) STROUT OBIT. Urban fantasy author Anton Strout died suddenly and unexpectedly on December 30. Kij Johnson said on Facebook, “He was one of the most charismatic and funniest people I have ever known, and he will be missed by us all.” There’s a tribute at Tor.com.

… Strout was born in 1970, grew up Dalton, Massachusetts, and worked at Penguin Random House. His debut novel arrived in 2008 from Ace Books, an urban fantasy novel titled Dead to Me, which went on to spawn three sequels in the Simon Canderous series. The Once and Future Podcast launched in 2014, a passion project where readers and writers could enjoy book-centered content and discussion. The podcast has run for over 200 episodes….

He is survived by his wife, Orly Strout, and his seven-year old twins, Benjamin and Julia, and a GoFundMe has been started for his family.

(10) HOSSEIN OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] French actor, director and writer Robert Hossein died aged 93 of complications from COVID-19. Hossein’s lengthy career is at the very least genre-adjacent, because he worked at the famous Theatre de Grand Guignol and is probably best remembered for playing Jeoffrey de Peyrac in the Angelique movies of the 1960s. The Angelique novels by Anne Golon and their film adaptations were huge successes in 1960s Europe. I devoured the novels and movies as a teen. The novels and movies are historical adventure, but they are at the very least genre-adjacent, because the plots are so wild. Jeoffrey de Peyrac, the character played by Hossein, is a French count and alchemist who is executed for heresy and later becomes a pirate who rescues slaves from the Mediterranean slave trade. The protagonist of the movies and novels is his young wife Angelique. Like I said, it’s wild stuff.

(11) EDEN OBIT. BBC reports “Coronation Street actor Mark Eden dies aged 92”. Though best known for his work on the British soap opera, he had many genre credits.

He made his TV debut in Quatermass And The Pit (1958), and had roles in episodes of One Step Beyond, Dimensions Of Fear, Doctor Who (as “Marco Polo”), Out Of The Unknown, The Prisoner (as Number One Hundred, 1967), The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes, the 1973 mini-series Jack The Ripper and Mark Gattiss’ Doctor Who tribute, An Adventure In Space And Time (2013). Eden co-starred with Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Barbara Steele and Michael Gough in Curse Of The Crimson Altar (1968).

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 1, 2007 The Sarah Jane Adventures premiered on BBC. (It was originally going to be called Sarah Jane Investigates.) A spin-off of Doctor Who, focusing on Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elizabeth Sladen who was the Companion to the Fourth Doctor. She’s frequently voted the most popular Who companion by both Who fans and members of the general public. It would run for five series and fifty-three episodes before ending when Sladen passed on. A spin-off of the spin-off, Sarah Jane’s Alien Files, aired right after that series. 

(13) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1981 — Forty years ago, Robert Holdstock’s “Mythago Wood”, not the first volume of the Ryhope Wood series, but the novella of the same name that appeared in the September 1981 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction wins the BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction, and three years later Mythago Wood will get the the BSFA Award for Best Novel.  It would also win the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel the next year.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 1, 1888 – Chesley Bonestell.  Designed the Chrysler and U.S. Supreme Court buildings.  Applying what he knew to astronomy he got paintings of Saturn into Life Magazine – here is his Saturn as Seen from Titan – which led to The Conquest of Space with Willy Ley, The Art of Chesley Bonestell, six dozen covers for Astounding AnalogGalaxyBoys’ LifeThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, five dozen interiors, a Hugo for Special Achievement, the SF Hall of Fame, and eponymity of the ASFA (Ass’n of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists) Chesley Awards.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born January 1, 1918 – Ella Parker.  The Parker Pond Fund brought her to Seacon the 19th Worldcon; she chaired Loncon II the 23rd.  Her Orion won Best Fanzine in the Skyrack Readers Poll (which, incidentally, is Skyr-Ack the Shire Oak, ha ha Ron Bennett; read it here); she won again with The Atom Anthology and a third time as Fan Personality of the Year.  (Died 1993) [JH] 
  • Born January 1, 1926 Zena Marshall. She’s Miss Taro in Dr. No, the very first Bond film. The Terrornauts in which she’s Sandy Lund would be her last film. (The Terrornauts is based off Murray Leinster‘s The Wailing Asteroid screenplay apparently by John Brunner.) She had one-offs in Danger ManThe Invisible Man and Ghost Squad. She played Giselle in Helter Skelter, a 1949 film where the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, played Charles the Second. (Died 2009.) (CE) 
  • Born January 1, 1935 – Kadono Eiko, age 86.  (Personal name last, Japanese style.)  Famous for Kiki’s Delivery Service (Kiki is a witch in training).  Six sequels.  Three other books.  Hans Christian Andersen Award; judges called her female characters “singularly self-determining and enterprising”.  [JH]
  • Born January 1, 1935 – Bernard Kliban.  “Extremely bizarre cartoons that find their humor in their utter strangeness and unlikeliness”, which shows that truth can be found even in Wikipedia.   Michelle Urry, cartoon editor for PlayboyGood Housekeeping, and Modern Maturity – it’s stranger than fiction, too – got BK to a publisher for Cat, which led to Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your HeadTwo Guys Fooling Around with the MoonThe Biggest Tongue in Tunisia, and like that.  (Died 1990) [JH]
  • Born January 1, 1954 Midori Snyder, 67. I was most impressed with The Flight of Michael McBride, the Old West meets Irish myth novel of hers and hannah’s garden, a creepy tale of the fey and folk music. She won the Mythopoeic Award for The Innamorati which I’ve not read.  With Yolen, Snyder co-authored the novel Except the Queen which I do recommend. (Yolen is one of my dark chocolate recipients.) She’s seems to have been inactive for a decade now. I will say that she has a most brilliant website: https://www.midorisnyder.com/ (CE)
  • Born January 1, 1957 Christopher Moore, 64. One early novel by him, Coyote Blue, is my favorite, but anything by him is always a weirdly entertaining read. I’ve not heard anything about Shakespeare for Squirrels: A Novel, his newest work. Has anyone read it? (CE)
  • Born January 1, 1962 – Geoffrey McSkimming, age 59.  Of course he’s interested in archeology.  A score of Cairo Jim books, some including Jocelyn Osgood; half a dozen of Phyllis Wong, recently PW and the Crumpled Stranger.  Married to the magician Sue-Anne Webster.  Also poetry.  [JH]
  • Born January 1, 1971 Navin Chowdhry, 50. He’s Indra Ganesh in a Ninth Doctor story, “Aliens of London“.   I also found him playing Mr. Watson in Skellig, a film that sounds really interesting.  He was also Prince Munodi in the BBC Gulliver’s Travels series, and oh, and I almost forgot to mention that he was Nodin Chavdri in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (CE)
  • Born January 1, 1972 Jennifer Hale, 49. She’s a voice actor primarily showing up on such series as Green Lantern: The Animated SeriesStar Trek: Lower Decks and all over the Star Wars universe. She played Killer Frost in Batman: Assault on Arkham, the animated Suicide Squad film that was infinitely better than the live ones were. (CE) 
  • Born January 1, 1976 Sean Wallace, 45. Anthologist, editor, and publisher known for his work on Prime Books and for co-editing three magazines, Clarkesworld Magazine which I love, The Dark which I’ve never encountered, and Fantasy Magazine which is another fav read  of mine. He has won a very, very impressive three Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. His People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy co-edited with Rachel Swirsky is highly recommended by me. He’s finally beginning to be well represented at the usual digital suspects as an editor.   (CE) 
  • Born January 1, 1984 – Briony Stewart, age 37.  Auraelis Award for Kumiko and the Dragon, inspired by the author’s grandmother – remember dragons are the good guys in Japan.  Queensland Literary Award for Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers.  One more Kumiko book, two others, illustrated three.  Website.  [JH]

(15) COMICS SECTION.

(16) VIRTUAL BOSKONE. It’s not that far away — Boskone 58. a 3-day virtual convention, will be held February 12-14, 2021. Get full details here.

(17) SFF IN TRANSLATION. Rachel Cordasco announced a new theme – “Romanian SFT Month” – at her Speculative Fiction in Translation website.

Anglophone readers might think that Romanian speculative fiction in English is rare, but they’re wrong. In fact, if you start looking for it, you’ll find it everywhere….

(18) ON AN EMISSION MISSION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Dalvin Brown has a piece in the Washington Post about how researchers at Oxford have discovered a process whereby planes could take carbon dioxide from the air, mix it with catalysts and hydrogen, and turn the result into jet fuel, making flying carbon neutral.  I don’t know if this is relevant but it seems like gosh-wow science to me. “Oxford researchers hope to convert carbon dioxide into jet fuel”.

… “We need to reuse the carbon dioxide rather than simply burying or trying to replace it in the aviation industry,” said Peter Edwards, a professor of inorganic chemistry at Oxford and a lead researcher on the project. “This is about a new and exciting, climate-conscious, circular aviation economy.”

Typically, jet fuel is derived from crude oil. It is a hydrocarbon, or nonrenewable organic compound consisting solely of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Jet fuel is similar to gasoline in that both come from fossil fuels. However, they go through different refining processes, which results in jet fuel being heavier, with a lower freezing point and more carbon atoms.

When the fuel is burned during travel, the hydrocarbons are released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Oxford researchers investigated to reverse-engineer that process, turning the gas back into a usable liquid via “organic combustion.”…

(19) ARECIBO NEWS. SYFY Wire tells of efforts to jumpstart a rebuild: “Arecibo Observatory telescope gets $8 million to launch rebuild in Puerto Rico”.

… Owned by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the Arecibo Observatory went into service in 1963, and for nearly 60 years collected radio data used to make a variety of observations that included the world’s first evidence of the existence of exoplanets. The telescope also became integral to NASA’s search for near-Earth objects.

In her order, [Puerto Rica Governor] Vázquez Garced said that the $8 million would be used to fund debris disposal for the remnants of the collapsed telescope, as well as the design of a new radio telescope to replace it. That leaves funding to construct an actual replacement — a far more costly proposition than $8 million — a matter of future budgeting priorities from the NSF, which receives its research allocations from Congress.

(20) PAGING THE ILLUSION OF INTELLIGENCE. Politico knows “Washington’s Secret to the Perfect Zoom Bookshelf? Buy It Wholesale.”

….Books by the Foot, a service run by the Maryland-based bookseller Wonder Book, has become a go-to curator of Washington bookshelves, offering precisely what its name sounds like it does. As retro as a shelf of books might seem in an era of flat-panel screens, Books by the Foot has thrived through Democratic and Republican administrations, including that of the book-averse Donald Trump. And this year, the company has seen a twist: When the coronavirus pandemic arrived, Books by the Foot had to adapt to a downturn in office- and hotel-decor business—and an uptick in home-office Zoom backdrops for the talking-head class.

The Wonder Book staff doesn’t pry too much into which objective a particular client is after. If an order were to come in for, say, 12 feet of books about politics, specifically with a progressive or liberal tilt—as one did in August—Wonder Book’s manager, Jessica Bowman, would simply send one of her more politics-savvy staffers to the enormous box labeled “Politically Incorrect” (the name of Books by the Foot’s politics package) to select about 120 books by authors like Hillary Clinton, Bill Maher, Al Franken and Bob Woodward. The books would then be “staged,” or arranged with the same care a florist might extend to a bouquet of flowers, on a library cart; double-checked by a second staffer; and then shipped off to the residence or commercial space where they would eventually be shelved and displayed (or shelved and taken down to read).

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of New Year’s Day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 10/24/20 I Have Come To Scroll The Autumnal Pixel

(1) NEXT YEAR’S BOSKONE ONLINE. The NESFA just announced today on the convention website that the 2021 Boskone will be a virtual convention. Memberships will be $25 for the weekend.

(2) A LEAK IN SPACE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA believes it has collected a suitable sample of asteroid regolith on the OSIRIX-REx mission, but some of the material is leaking out. So, they are changing some plans in order to stow it as quickly as possible. The material will be placed in the Sample Return Capsule for eventual return to Earth. “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Collects Significant Amount of Asteroid”. [GIF image at the link.]

… The spacecraft captured images of the sample collector head as it moved through several different positions. In reviewing these images, the OSIRIS-REx team noticed both that the head appeared to be full of asteroid particles, and that some of these particles appeared to be escaping slowly from the sample collector, called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head. They suspect bits of material are passing through small gaps where a mylar flap – the collector’s “lid” – is slightly wedged open by larger rocks.

“Bennu continues to surprise us with great science and also throwing a few curveballs,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “And although we may have to move more quickly to stow the sample, it’s not a bad problem to have. We are so excited to see what appears to be an abundant sample that will inspire science for decades beyond this historic moment.”

(3) FINDING HISTORIC FILMS. “What the flip! The chance discovery that’s uncovered treasures of the very earliest cinema” in The Guardian.

Some lost films are more lost than others. There are very early works that no one now alive has seen, and we have little hope of recovering. While later silent feature films were duplicated and distributed widely, there are hundreds of short experiments by the first film-makers, movies no more than a few seconds long, that no longer exist even as a memory.

It seemed too good to be true, then, that lost films by Georges Méliès could really have been found by chance in a German bookshop in 2013. Yet a dogged research project by an independent scholar from France, Thierry Lecointe, has helped uncover miraculous images from lost films, not just by Méliès, but also by Alice Guy-Blaché.

The frames were preserved as images printed on to the card pages of tiny flipbooks. With digital technology, the flipbooks, known as folioscopes, have now become something like film fragments again. The photographer Onno Petersen shot each page in high-resolution and the motion-picture restoration expert Robert Byrne, from the San Francisco Silent Film festival, produced animations revealing such treats as a long-lost magic trick, dance, comic sketch or a train caught on camera more than a century ago.

(4) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

1995 — Twenty-five years ago, the Mythopoetic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature went to Something Rich and Strange by Patricia A. McKillip.  It was the first of four such awards for her plus the Lifetime Achievement Award as well. The runner-ups were Rachel Pollack’s Temporary Agency, Pamela Dean’s The Dubious Hills and Robert Holdstock‘s The Hollowing. It was written as part of  Froud’s Faerielands series under the inspriation of the Froud illustration on the first edition. The title itself comes a line in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”. The first edition was published by Bantam Spectra the previous year. 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 24, 1954 Jane Fancher, 66. In the early 80s, she was an art assistant on Elfquest, providing inking assistance on the black-and-white comics and coloring of the original graphic novel reprints. She adapted portions of C.J. Cherryh’s first Morgaine novel into a black-and-white comic book, which prompted her to begin writing novels herself. Her first novel, Groundties, was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, and she has been Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at several conventions. (CE)
  • Born October 24, 1954 Wendy Neuss, 66. Emmy-nominated Producer. As an associate producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, her responsibilities included post-production sound, including music and effects spots, scoring sessions and sound mixes, insertion of location footage, and re-recording of dialogue (which is usually done when lines are muffed or the audio recording was subpar). She was also the producer of Star Trek: Voyager. With her husband at the time, Patrick Stewart, she was executive producer of three movies in which he starred, including a version of A Christmas Carol which JJ says is absolutely fantastic, and a rather excellent The Lion in Winter too. (CE)
  • Born October 24, 1971 Dervla Kirwan,49. Miss Hartigan in “The Next Doctor”,  a very delightful Tenth Doctor story. She’s Maeve Sullivan in the Shades series, and she played Petra Williams in the “Painkillers” episode of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased). (CE) 
  • Born October 24, 1971 Sofia Samatar, 49. Teacher, Writer, and Poet who speaks several languages and started out as a language instructor, a job which took her to Egypt for nine years. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and is the author of two wonderful novels to date, both of which I highly recommend: Stranger in Olondria (which won World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards and was nominated for a Nebula) and The Winged Histories. Her short story “Selkie Stories are for Losers” was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, and BFA Awards. She has written enough short fiction in just six years that Small Beer Press put out Tender, a collection which is an amazing twenty-six stories strong. And she has a most splendid website. (CE)
  • Born October 24, 1972 Raelee Hill, 48. Sikozu Svala Shanti Sugaysi Shanu (called Sikozu) on Farscape, a great role indeed enhanced by her make-up and costume. She’s also in Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. Genre wise, she’s also been on The Lost World series, Superman ReturnsBeastMaster and Event Zero. (CE) 
  • Born October 24, 1899 – Leo Morey.  For us, a hundred twenty covers, seven hundred interiors.  Here is the Sep 31 Amazing.   Here is the Nov 40 Super Science.  Here is an interior from the 1950s.  Here is one from the Mar 62 Analog.  Here is an acrylic from outside our field.  (Died 1965) [JH]
  • Born October 24, 1948 – Peggy Ranson.  1993 Hugo as Best Fanartist.  Her Harlequins the sign of Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon.  Artist GoH at DeepSouthCon 34, Guest of Honor at Armadillocon 20.  Here is Unmasking.  Here is a greeting card “Tiger in the Jungle”.  Here is the May 92 Astromancer Quarterly.  Here is an interior from Mimosa 14.  Here is a collection of eight images.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation (with more images) here; don’t miss the comments.  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born October 24, 1952 – David Weber, 68.  Best known for Honor Harrington, fourteen HH novels plus a score of books more in the Honorverse, some with co-authors; Royal Manticoran Navy fan clubs.  Four more series, notably Safehold (ten novels); part of others’ shared universes e.g. John Ringo’s Empire of Man, Linda Evans’ Mulitverse.  Phoenix Award, Hal Clement Award.  Thirty times Guest of Honor from ConClave XXI to Spikecon.   United Methodist lay preacher.  John Clute credits DW’s success to “narrative clarity and focus … skill at managing large universes [where] actions count.”  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born October 24, 1956 – Jordin Kare, Ph.D.  Scientist and singer.  Co-founded Off Centaur Productions, which was placed in the Filk Hall of Fame; two Pegasus Awards; after Columbia astronaut Buzz Aldrin on live television tried to read aloud Kare’s “Fire in the Sky”, overcome by emotion he could not continue.  Last time as Guest of Honor, Archon 39.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born October 24, 1977 – Gabrielle Zevin, 43.  Harvard woman.  Kirkus Reviews called Margarettown “a droll piece of romantic whimsy with an unexpected resonance.”  Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac became, screenplay by GZ and Hans Canosa, the Japanese movie Someone Kissed Me with Maki Horikita.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry New York Times Best-Seller.  Four novels for us.  [JH]
  • Born October 24, 1981 – Sarvenaz Tash, 39.  For us, The Mapmaker and the Ghost; otherwise e.g. Virtually YoursAmazon Best Book of the Year The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited LoveThree-Day Summer.  How to pronounce her name.  “All I want for my birthday is VOTER TURNOUT.”  [JH]

(6) POSTAPOCALYPTIC COOKIE. [Item by Carolyn Frank.] Not too sure if this falls under SF or fantasy or possibly horror, but it certainly includes apocalyptic thinking. “If the apocalypse happens this year, Oreo is prepared” at The Takeout. Be sure to watch the movie, though you might need to find a cookie to eat while you watch…

… This morning Oreo announced that it has completed the Global Oreo Vault, a concrete bunker filled with Oreos and powdered milk (that can be mixed with snow). It is also in Svalbard, just down the road from the Global Seed Vault. Oreo also produced a making-of video to show the genesis of the Oreo Vault from start to finish.

(7) CANDY HIERARCHY. The LA Times steps into a cultural minefield with “The official Halloween candy power rankings”. Number one is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which won’t get any argument from me. How many of those do I wear around my hips?

…It’s in that spirit that I present to you the totally unassailable, airtight and indisputable L.A. Times Halloween Candy Power Rankings. I’ve ranked candy before and I’ll likely do it again, but for this particular piece I’m changing up the metrics a bit: First, I’m judging by taste as well as what I’m calling Spirit of Halloween (SOH) — how much does the candy capture the je ne sais quoi of the season? Second, I’m judging by Halloween Trade Value (HTV): Everyone knows that a big part of trick-or-treating is swapping candy with your friends and siblings when the evening is over. Certain pieces are worth more than others….

(8) SUPER MATERIAL. This could be handy stuff. Yahoo! News has the story — “Physicists made a superconductor that works at room temperature. It could one day give rise to high-speed floating trains.”

…Superconductors – materials that transport electricity with no energy lost – have until now only worked at extremely cold temperatures, from about -100 degrees Fahrenheit to the near-absolute zero of space. But this month, that changed.

In a study published October 14, a team of researchers described a superconductor they engineered, which works at 59 degrees Fahrenheit. The material is composed of carbon, sulfur, and hydrogen, so is appropriately called carbonaceous sulfur hydride.

Physicists had previously found that a combination of hydrogen and sulfur worked as a superconductor under intense pressure and at -94 degrees Fahrenheit. With the addition of carbon, the team was able to create a material that worked at a higher temperature.

(9) MONSTROUS VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The B-Movie Monsters That Time Forgot!” on YouTube, Leigh Singer takes us back to the days when people fought crabs, shrews, and other monsters.

[Thanks to JJ, Carolyn Frank, Rich Lynch, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Jeffrey Jones, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]

Pixel Scroll 10/12/20 Petronius Tiberius Tirebiter

(1) ASU CSI PODCAST. The initial episode of the second season of The Imagination Desk podcast from the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University is live now, featuring an interview with Ytasha Womack, author of the book Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. The next episode will be with sff author and editor Troy L. Wiggins

The Imagination Desk is a series of interviews with authors, scholars, and technologists about how we can harness creativity and imaginative thinking to inspire new work and build better futures. As this long, strange year wanes, we’re launching new set of podcast episodes featuring deep conversations with fascinating collaborators to think about ways we can move forward together.

For the first installment of Season 2, we sat down with Ytasha L. Womack. Ytasha is a Chicago-based filmmaker, dancer, fiction writer, scholar, and the author of the 2013 book Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. In this chat, CSI’s Joey Eschrich and Ytasha discuss how culture, art, and storytelling help us to understand the complexity of Black life in the present, as well as transformative prospects for the future.

This conversation with Ytasha is part of our observance of Black Speculative Fiction Month, which takes place every October. Started by authors Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis, Black Speculative Fiction Month honors the role that Black people have played in shaping the culture of speculative fiction and charting the course toward vibrant and equitable futures. We’ll continue to explore these themes in future events and upcoming episodes of The Imagination Desk. Follow along on our website and subscribe to the show on SpotifyApple Podcasts, or RadioPublic.

(2) SHOSHANA EDWARDS Q&A. Conducted by Cat Rambo:

I interviewed Shoshana Edwards, author of Death Lives in the Water: A Harper’s Landing Story from Ring of Fire Press and A Roman Wilderness of Pain. We talk about her writing, neurolinguistics, and current political rhetoric. Shoshana Edwards was born in rural Oregon, attended Portland State University and California State University, Los Angeles. She later earned advanced degrees in English and Rhetoric. Now retired, she lives near Portland, Oregon where she continues to write.

(3) ADA PALMER’S EXOTERRA GAME CRITICIZED. Ashlyn Sparrow’s op-ed “A Game that Threatens Student Intellectual Property”, in the Chicago Maroon, the independent newspaper of the University of Chicago, contends “Ada Palmer’s ExoTerra game has colonial themes and undermines students’ creative freedom.”

During the 2020 fall quarter, Ada Palmer (Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago) launched ExoTerra. The WordPress website for this project describes ExoTerra as “an online collaborative research role-playing game (RPG) community, in which students from all disciplines, from physics to literature, pool their expertise to design a new world.” The game incorporates students via several university courses, including “Self, Culture, and Society 1,” “America in World Civilization I,” and “Europe’s Intellectual Transformations.” What appears like a well-intentioned pedagogical experiment, however, turns out to make lazy narrative choices and, more importantly, undermines the creative labor and intellectual property of University of Chicago undergraduate students.

ExoTerra is a game where “participating students play the crew of a space colony ship traveling from Earth to a newly-terraformed exoplanet.” Sparrow thinks narratives should focus on improving the Earth.

… But as I looked closer at ExoTerra and began to discuss it with colleagues, I grew increasingly concerned. Some of my initial concerns had to do with a narrative frame that focuses on a colonization narrative at a historical moment when Black and Brown people continue to be exploited in the aftermath of global empire in so many ways. In focusing on the creation of a “new civilization,” this game rests on a colonization and Earth escape fantasy that is being celebrated by tech billionaires such as Elon Musk. Rather than improving the Earth, such a narrative takes us further from facing the ills of climate change, unprecedented income inequality, systemic racism, and global pandemic. This is problematic even at an allegorical level or via the cognitive estrangement characteristic of the science fiction genre. There are so many better narrative arcs and fresher sub-genres from which to choose, especially in our current world.

Sparrow points out that participants sign away to Palmer the rights to what they create in the game.

…Palmer (who is also a published science fiction novelist) reserves the right to take any intellectual property that students might contribute to this allegedly collective storytelling game and use it for her own purposes, including fiction she publishes in the future. To be clear, this is not a video game that students play. It is instead a roleplaying and world building game that they are creating together. Yet the material benefits of this shared effort return to a single person: Ada Palmer.

(4) WHAT SPACE LETS CREATORS DO. Dwayne Day reviews the second season of For All Mankind at The Space Review. “In the paler moonlight: the future’s past in ‘For All Mankind’”.

…Setting a program in the near future restricts the writers and what they can do. In contrast, as Hale noted, setting a science fiction show in the far future (or, alternatively, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”) can free up the writers from having to reference—and be limited by—historical or current events that the audience is familiar with. Setting a story in a far distant future can be liberating in terms of storytelling. But it also restricts the writers’ ability to use the show to make social commentary, and their ability to use familiar historical and cultural reference points in their storytelling.

“For All Mankind” has a different set of challenges in terms of storytelling—it is both about our past, and our future, while also inevitably being a commentary about the present. The show’s setting in the 1960s and, for season two, the 1980s, represents a time decades in our past, but still within the living memory of many people. Yet the stories depict a space program that never happened, but still might happen in some way. The Jamestown lunar base in the show is not that different from concepts NASA and its contractors are currently studying. Perhaps in the coming decades, NASA could build something that looks a lot like Jamestown….

(5) WALT WILLIS’ TASFIC SPEECH. Fanac.org announced on FB that thanks to the fan history researches of Rob Hansen in Vince Clarke’s papers, they can present the final draft typescript of Walt Willis’s speech at the 1952 Worldcon, which Willis was able to attend because of the “WAW with the Crew in ’52” fan fund started by Shelby Vick. Here is Joe Siclari’s introduction to the speech:

Although Walt Willis was prolific, the quality of his writing remained very high because he was diligent. In several articles, Walt Willis described some of his writing procedures. Despite what so many people thought was his facile and relaxed style, he worried over pieces and rewrote them. See Warhoon 12, p 22.

Walt’s quality writing was why Shelby Vick created the first really successful campaign to bring a foreign fan to a US Worldcon, “WAW with the Crew in ’52”. You can imagine the excitement when this was successful. You might also imagine the stress when Walt realized that he would have to speak at the TASFiC/Chicon II.

So it seems he wrote a speech beforehand. Not only did he work on it in advance and rewrite and edit it, but it seems he sent it to at least one friend. During his research into Vince Clarke’s papers, Rob Hansen discovered this presentation that you are about to read. It’s probably the closest we will get to what Walt Willis said at the TASFiC. As Rob indicated in a note: “What *isn’t* included, obviously, is whatever off-the-cuff thanks he added after he’d finished reading.”

Not seen in close to 70 years, here is what Rob has called: “The Harp Speaks”

(6) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1987 — Thirty-three years ago, the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Novel went to Peter Beagle‘s The Folk of the Air which had been published that year by Ballantine Del Rey. The main character is Joe Farrell, who first appeared as the hero of a short story called “Lila the Werewolf”, making a sequel of sorts to that story. The League for Archaic Pleasures, here described as a group dedicated to the pleasures of the medieval period, is very obviously modelled after the SCA. Thirteen years later, Tamsin would garner him a second Mythopoeic Award, and The New Voices of Fantasy anthology three years ago would get him his third. He also received their Lifetime Achievement Award as well. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 12, 1904 Lester Dent. Pulp-fiction author who was best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels chronicling Doc Savage. Of the one hundred and eighty-one Doc Savage novels published by Street and Smith, one hundred and seventy-nine were credited to Kenneth Robeson; and all but twenty were written by Dent. (Died 1959.) (CE)
  • Born October 12, 1905 – William Kolliker.  Moved from Switzerland to New York at 16.  Illustrated for newspapers e.g. NY AmericanBaltimore News & American.  Art director & editor of The American Weekly 25 years.  Moved to Texas, resigned from business, taught at El Paso Museum of Art; Conquistador Award from El Paso 1963.  A hundred twenty interiors for us.  Here is an interior for “The Weapon Shop” (Astounding, Dec 42).  Here is one for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”.  Here is one for “The Sorcerer of Rhiannon”.  Here is a 1979 etching “The Graduate”.  Here is a mid-1970s abstract landscape.   (Died 1995) [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1943 – Daphne Patai, Ph.D., 77.  Feminist dissenter, see e.g. What Price Utopia? (2008); Oral History, Feminism, and Politics (2010, in Portuguese).  Outstanding to us for discovering that the author of Swastika Night, published under a pseudonym 1930, was Englishwoman Katherine Burdekin.  [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1949 – Barclay Shaw, 71.  A hundred twenty covers, thirty interiors.  Here is The Glass Teathere is I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.  Here is The Shockwave Rider.  Here is The Ringworld Throne.  Here is the Mar 01 F&SF.  Chesley for three-dimensional Wonderland.  Artbooks The Art of Barclay ShawElectric Dreams.  Website here (includes 3D animation).  [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1951 – Taral Wayne, 69.  Fanartist, pro artist, fanwriter.  Many covers and interiors for fanzines; here is Torus 2; here is File 770 116 (PDF); see more in the cover gallery at his efanzines.com page.  Here is his logograph for IguanaCon II the 36th Worldcon; Fan Guest of Honor at Anticipation the 67th.  Co-founded Ditto (fanziners’ convention, named for a brand of spirit-duplicator copying machine); Special Guest at Ditto 8.  Toastmaster at Corflu 4 (fanziners’ con, named for mimeograph correction fluid).  CUFF (Canadian Unity Fan Fund) delegate; his CUFF history here.  Numismatist.  Collections Old ToysThe Great White Zine.  Eleven-time Hugo finalist.  FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) award.  Rotsler Award.  [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1956 Storm Constantine, 63. Writer with her longest-running series being the Wraeththu Universe which has at least four separate series within all of which are known for their themes of alternative sexuality and gender. She has also written a number of non-fiction (I think they are) works such as Sekhem Heka: A Natural Healing and Self Development System and The Grimoire of Deharan Magick: Kaimana. (CE) 
  • Born October 12, 1961 – Susan Power, 59.  Enrolled member of the Standing Rock Tribe (Dakota).  Law degree from Harvard.  Hemingway/PEN Award for first novel The Grass Dancer (ours); several more novels; shorter fiction in The Atlantic MonthlyParis ReviewPloughsharesStory, a dozen for us in collection Roofwalker.  Voices from the Gaps interview with her here (PDF).  [JH]
  • Born October 12, 1965 Dan Abnett, 55. His earlier work was actually on Doctor Who Magazine,  but I’ll single out his co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy #1–6 with Andy Lanning, The Authority: Rule Britannia and his Border Princes novel he did in the Tirchworch universe as great looks at him as a writer. (CE) 
  • Born October 12, 1966 Sandra McDonald, 54. Author of some sixty genre short stories, some of which are collected in Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories (which won a Lambda Award for LGBT SF, Fantasy and Horror Works) and Lovely Little Planet: Stories of the Apocalypse.  Outback Stars is her space opera-ish trilogy. (CE)
  • Born October 12, 1968 Hugh Jackman, 52. Obviously Wolverine in the Marvel film franchise. He’s also been the lead character in Van Helsing as well as voicing him in the animated prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment. One of his most charming roles was voicing The Easter Bunny in The Rise of The Guardians. And he played Robert Angier in The Prestige based off the World Fantasy Award winning novel written by the real Christopher Priest. (CE)
  • Born October 12, 1974 Kate Beahan, 46. Her best remembered role is as Sister Willow Woodward in the remake of The Wicker Man. In the same year, she was Michell in The Return, a horror film. She showed up on Farscape as Hubero in “Fractures”, and on Lucifer as Justine Doble in “All About Her”. (CE) 
  • Born October 12, 1992 – Melanie Vogltanz, 28.  Austrian author and translator.  European SF Society Encouragement Award, 2016; shortlisted for several prizes e.g. Kurd Laßwitz.  Five novels, plus six in a Black Blood series; shorter stories collected in On Dark Wings (in German).  I have not yet found translations into English.  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) WHAT CHILD IS THIS. Disney released posters for season 2 of The Mandalorian, including a sad Baby Yoda!

(10) DISNEY DISAPPOINTS EURO MOVIE HOUSES. Naman Ramachandran, in the Variety story “Disney’s ‘Soul’ Decision Upsets European Cinemas” says the European trade association the International Union of Cinemas is mad at Disney because they say they operate safe cinemas and would love to have exhibited Soul.

…“There is compelling evidence that where audiences have returned, they have found the experience both safe and enjoyable,” the UNIC statement said. “But it is also clear that it is the release of new films that will make all the difference in encouraging people back to the big screen.”

“Indeed, across Europe, many cinemas have — since re-opening successfully — screened countless local releases, underlining that first-run titles are now more important than ever.”

(11) SAINTHOOD FOR J.R.R.? Daniel Cote Davis, a promoter of J.R.R. Tolkien Cause for Canonization, will speak in New Zealand on October 31 reports the Tolkien sainthood Facebook group. (See more information about the movement in “Tolkien: An Unexpected Sainthood”.)

Should J.R.R. Tolkien be made a Saint? In this film we explore the Catholic virtue of one of England’s most renowned authors and look beyond the trolls and goblins at what the Lord of the Rings is really trying to say.

(12) IT ALL GOES AROUND. CrowdScience answers the question “Why do planets spin?” in an episode available at the BBC Sounds archive.

Crowdscience solves a range of listeners’ cosmic mysteries, from the reason we only ever see one side of the moon, to why planets spin, and discover the answer can be found in the formation of the solar system. We talk to astronomer Dr Carolin Crawford to understand how stars are made, and investigate the art of astronomy with journalist Jo Marchant, hearing how the ancient Greeks came up with a zodiac long before the invention of a telescope, revealing an intimate relationship between humans and the night sky.

(13) WOMEN OF SFF IN THE SIXTIES. Fanac.org has posted to its YouTube channel a recording from Boskone 6 in 1969, “The Feminine Viewpoint,” moderated by Hal Clement, with Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Larry Niven. NESFA and Rick Kovalcik provided the recording.

Moderated by Hal Clement, this audio recording (illustrated with dozens of images) is a 1960s view of feminism and the female viewpoint in SF by two of SF’s most successful women writers of the day. It is uncomfortable in parts by today’s standards, with comments like “you can’t be a feminist if you like being a woman”, and remarks about fanzines that discount female writers solely because of their sex. Hal Clement is the neutral moderator, and Larry Niven provides a male perspective. This panel is dominated by MZB and Anne McCaffrey, who express their views on women in the field, on the differences in fiction written by woman and men, and on the disadvantages attendant on being a female science fiction writer. Remember, Anne McCaffrey was born in 1926 and MZB in 1930. Their opinions were shaped by the times. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the times.

The audio recording is accompanied by contemporary photos, including one of Walter Breen and MZB, just so you know.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Agner Wins NESFA 2019-2020 Short Story Contest

The results of the 2019-2020 NESFA® Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest were announced at Boskone 57 on February 16, 2020.

The contest “encourages amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency.”

Steve Lee says, “We got submissions from all around the world, including one in Russian (which we sent back for an English translation).”

Winner:

  • “Stick in the Mud” by Mary Alexandra Agner

First Runner-Up:

  • “Hope Chest” by Sarah Day

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Author of the Dreams of an Outer God” by Jonathan Bronico
  • “Deathtree” by Kit Harding
  • “The Gravity of Grace” by Carina Bissett

First readers: James Boggie, Ann Crimmins, David G. Grubbs, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kerpan, Suford Lewis, and Kelsey Pouk.

Final round judges: Elaine Isaak, Tony Lewis, and Kim Stanley Robinson

Cats Sleep on SFF: Boskone

Lis Carey gives credit to where it’s due to a “cat-sized critter”:

Dora wishes the sf world to know that this past weekend, she did her part for the cause, working the NESFA sales table at Boskone for a whole hour. She was shocked to discover that this involved allowing people she’d never sniffed before to carry away books.


Photos of other cats (or whatever you’ve got!) resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

Andrew Porter’s Boskone 57 Photo Gallery

Andrew Porter had writers, dealers and artists in his sights at this year’s Boskone. (Thanks to George R. Morgan for identifying the subjects.)

  • Ben Yalow and Michael Walsh
  • Brad “Chumley” Verter and Joe Berlant 
  • Sally Kobee of Larry Smith Books 
  • Stan “the Man” Musial, uh, Robinson
  • British artist Jim Burns – NESFA Press Guest  
  • Boskone artist GoH Eric Wilkerson 
  • Holly Black YA Fiction Guest 
  • Brad “Chum” Verter
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • First Fandom Experience guys; right is David Ritter, on left, son Daniel Ritter, both chums/creators of The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom-Volume one the 1930s, available at Boskone 57
  • Bunch of early fans; page from the Ritters’ book (note name directory to left of photo)
  • Robert Wiener
  • L-R  William Hayashi, Mark Olson, Alexander Jablakov, Kim Stanley Robinson “The Consequences of Actually Finding Life on Mars” Panel
  • Tor paid for this cake

Boskone 2020 Report

Kim Stanley Robinson

By Daniel Dern. Boskone 57, Feb 14-16, 2020.

The temperature ranged from chilly (it is winter) to downright frosty (12? Saturday morning, maybe up to 20? by 9:45AM when we walked the overpass from our hotel to the con), but on the other hand, no snow, rain, or weather public-transit shutdowns (all of which have happened to Boston-in-winter cons).

Boskone 57’s Featured Guests were:

  • GUEST OF HONOR: Kim Stanley Robinson
  • YOUNG ADULT FICTION GUEST: Holly Black
  • OFFICIAL ARTIST: Eric Wilkerson
  • MUSICAL GUEST: Cheshire Moon
  • HAL CLEMENT SCIENCE SPEAKER: Jon Singer
  • NESFA PRESS GUEST: Jim Burns

The 150+ program participants also included a mix of established and new writers, artists, editors and agents, along with well-known fans, e.g. (citing mostly people I know/names I recognize), Ellen Asher, Joshua Bilmes, Holly Black, Ginger Buchanan, Jeff Carver, John Chu, C.S.E. Cooney, Andrea Martinez Corbin, Josh Dahi, Julie C. Day, Bob Devney, Paul Di Filippo, Vincent Docherty, Debra Doyle, Tom Easton, Bob Eggleston, Esther Friesner, Craig Shaw Gardner, Greer Gilman, Max Gladstone, Anabel Graetz, Charlaine Harris, Grady Hendrix, Carlos Hernandez, Sarah Jean Horwitz, Jim Infantino, James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, Dan Kimmel, Mur Lafferty, Kelly Link, James D. Macdonald, Darlene Marshall, Beth Meacham, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Julie C. Rios, Cameron Roberson, Erin Roberts, Joseph Siclari, Allen M. Steele, Michael Swanwick, Christine Taylor-Butler, Erin Underwood, Martha Wells, Trisha J. Wooldridge, Brianna Wu, Frank Wu.

(Some that, sadly, were listed but had to cancel included Bruce Coville, Steve Davidson, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Suzanne Palmer, Adi Rule, and Jane Yolen.)

While there was no File770 meet-up (that I was aware of), I spotted/chatted briefly with a few Filers (hardly surprisingly, of course).

FYI, NESFA Press had brand-new books available at Boskone 57:

I’ve just done purchase requests to my local library for these. Take that, Mount To-Be-Read!

A SATISFYING PROGRAM. This year’s program has lots of good stuff — for several time slots I saw three or even four that I wanted to go to. I could easily have spent the entire con doing nothing but program items, with brief breaks for food, schmoozing, and strolling the Dealer’s Area and the Art Show, of course).

In “Great Novels That Don’t Work”, Grady Hendrix, Allen M. Steele, Bracken MacLeod, Michael Swanwick and Brianna Wu talked about the problems of various sf works, from plot to “one unforgivable step.” I missed the first few minutes of this session, I’d love to hear/watch a recording of the whole thing.

Panel – Great Novels That Don’t Work: Bracken MacLeod, Brianna Wu, Allen M. Steele, Grady Hendrix, Michael Swanwick

“Business of Being a Writer” tracks are a staple at many cons, instructively essential for beginners, and often entertaining for all. (Particularly the “horror stories/don’t do’s.”) In “Editing from Agent, to Editor, to Publisher”, Melanie Meadors, Joshua Bilmes, Beth Meacham, John Kessel and James D. Macdonald examined the “manuscript’s journey” of read/rewrite/edit/revise from author through beta readers, copy editors, proof readers and other stations.

Panel – Editing from Agent, to Editor, to Publisher: Melanie Meadors, John Kessel, James D. Macdonald, Beth Meacham, Joshua Bilmes

I went to several readings, including Daniel Kimmel, reading a not-yet-published time travel story involving a character from his second sf novel (which you don’t have to have read to enjoy the story), Max Gladstone, and James Patrick Kelly, plus kaffeeklatsches with Esther Friesner and with Tor editor Beth Meacham.

TRIVIA PURSUIT! One of my favorite items at Boskones is the Trivia For Chocolate game show run by Mark and Priscilla Olson and Jim Mann, where us audience members strive to be the first (or loudest) to yell out enough of the right answers to sf trivia questions, with, per the name of the game, points being awarded using those thin rectangular green-wrapped chocolate Thin Mints (and only uneaten ones are count for your final tally).

For example, in “First Lines” — “The baloney weighed the raven down.” (“N Svar Naq Cevingr Cynpr, Crgre F Orntyr” — as I was yelling out the answer mid, ahem, weigh.)

I usually place in the enumerated winners short list (see my Boskone 56 report.

This isn’t the kind of content you can cram for, and I’m not sure you could even study for it — certainly not time-effectively. The only way is to have consumed sf&f voluminously — and remembering the relevant details.

The not-so-secrets to doing well in TRIVIA FOR CHOCOLATE include location (front or second row), luck, low memory-to-mouth latency, chutzpah and having consumed sf (including f, and h) omnivorously for years-to-decades.

This year, to my happy surprise, I came in first, by a 14-point spread against tied-for-seconds Karen von Haam (who, I’m pretty sure, was the person on my right snagging answers right and left for the open several minutes), and the always-impressively-knowledgeable-about-really-obscure-stuff Bob Devney.

(I donated all but two of my winnings to the Narnia Coat Check Closet. ’nuff et!)

Panel – Illustrating Children’s Books: Christopher Paniccia, Ruth Sanderson, Ingrid Kallick, Cat Scully

MY SESSIONS. I was on four items this year.

“Journalism in Speculative Fiction”, along with Clea Simon, Darlene Marshall, and Dan Moren. Here’s the session description:

From Wells and Orwell to Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, and Annalee Newitz, there’s a long tradition of reporters becoming writers of SF/F/H. Our veteran newshounds report on what a background in journalism can bring to genre work. Are you already accustomed to research, deadlines, and low wages? Does the drive to get the facts mean it’s harder to make stuff up? Can reporters be written as good genre characters? While pounding out a hot story, must you wear a fedora?

This could easily have filled a day-long symposium. Heck, I could (preferably with at least 20 minutes advance notice to web-refresh my brain) have done an hour just on Mark Twain. (“Connecticut Yankee,” “Captain Stormfield…” “The Mysterious Stranger,” etc.) Lots of great stuff was said, by all panelists — let’s do this one again!

I also did a reading, a workshop on learning magic tricks and becoming a magician (my handout including reading list available on request), and, in DragonsLair, my young-kids-oriented magic show (heavy on the funny props and bad jokes).

And, as nearly-always, I spent some time walking around taking photos.

Looking ahead, here’s the Featured Guests currently scheduled for Boskone 58, February 12-14 2021:

  • Guest of Honor: Joe Abercrombie
  • Official Artist: Julie Dillon
  • Special guest: Tamsyn Muir
  • Musical Guest: Marc Gunn
  • NESFA Press Guest: Ursula Vernon
  • Hal Clement Science Speaker: Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready (Launch Pad Astronomy)

Photo gallery follows the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 2/17/20 From Rishathra With Love

(1) NOT FAR FROM THE TREE. Apple TV+ has dropped the Amazing Stories — Official Trailer. The show debuts March 6 on the Apple TV app – if you have an Apple TV+ subscription: Amazing Stories.

From visionary executive producers Steven Spielberg and Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz, this reimagining of the classic anthology series transports everyday characters into worlds of wonder, possibility, and imagination

(2) IN THE AUDIENCE AT BOSKONE. Filer Mlex posted a report about the sessions he attended at this weekend’s “Boskone 2020”.

Fairy Tales from the Dark Side

Theodora Goss started off this session by noting that she spent some years of her childhood in Budapest and that she takes particular interest in the fairy tales of Hungary, with their typical strong heroines. She went on to say that fairies vary quite a lot, not only in different cultural traditions, but depending on the date and conditions where they were formed. Victorians had their small flower fairies, for example, and subtle messages could be presented in the form of fairy tales about feminism or other social and political movements. Think of the women brewing eels, bats, herbs, and potions. The fairy represents the human encounter with the magical other.

Isabel Yap noted that Fillipino fairies do not play by human rules. They are not so clearly anthropomorphized and might often turn into fish, or other creatures. These fairy tales might be quite violent, and the fairies are not on our side.

(3) LISTENING TO A CULTURE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] There is something of a theme taking place in British culture this spring.

Second Sleep

First we had The Second Sleep by Robert Harris which then became BBC Radio 4’s book at bed time last month (and still downloadable in 15 minute episodes. Here the end of the world was IT related (not really a spoiler as it is hypothesized in first few chapters).

Then on the non-fiction front a vaguely respected Brit senior politician (i.e. pre-Boris /Trump) is to have a book published next month warning that our IT society has no fall-back back-up system in place. This book uses an SF novelette interspersed with factual comment and explanation to elucidate such things as Black Swan events among much else.

And finally, back at the BBC, Radio 4 has just launched another season of its SFnal Dangerous Visions the first episode of 4 is ‘Blackout’ and concerns what happens when the internet (hence power as the grid is web managed) crashes…

Be thankful you can still read this post….

Dangerous Visions

(4) VISUALIZING THE CULTURE. I don’t know how I missed this — The Culture: Notes and Drawings by Iain M. Banks and Ken MacLeod is set for a November 26 release date.

Iain M. Banks, the modern master of SF, created many original drawings detailing the universe of his bestselling Culture novels. Now these illustrations – many of them annotated – are being published for the very first time in a book that celebrates Banks’s grand vision, with additional notes and material by Banks’s longtime friend and fellow SF author Ken MacLeod. It is an essential addition to the collection of any Iain M. Banks fan.

(5) CROWDFUNDING. Apex Publications has launched a Kickstarter to raise $20,000 to publish Invisible Threads: Cutting the Binds That Hold Us edited by Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner.

No matter who you are or where you come from, there are boundaries and barriers that dictate what you can do, where you can go, and who you can become. Invisible threads running through society, pulling you this way or that, tripping you when you try to better yourself, ensnaring and holding you back.  Invisible Threads is an anthology of dark sci-fi, fantasy, and horror stories that examine these barriers.

Confirmed authors include Alix Harrow, Andi Buchanan, Maurice Broaddus, Fran Wilde, Chesya Burke, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, Stephanie Malia Morris, Jordan Kurella, K.T. Bryski, ZZ Claybourne, A.C. Buchanan, Damien Angelica Walters, Beth Dawkins, Geoffrey Girard, Sabrina Vourvoulias, A.C. Wise, and Michael Wehunt. We plan to hold an open submissions call should we fund.

(6) EVEN IF IT IS JOSHI. The John Hay Library at Brown University invites applications for its 2020-2021 S.T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship for research relating to H.P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs. The application deadline is March 13, 2020.

The Hay Library is home to the largest collection of H. P. Lovecraft materials in the world, and also holds the archives of Clark Ashton Smith, Karl Edward Wagner, Manly Wade Wellman, Analog magazine, Caitlín Kiernan, and others. The Joshi Fellowship, established by The Aeroflex Foundation and Hippocampus Press, is intended to promote scholarly research using the world-renowned resources on H. P. Lovecraft, science fiction, and horror at the John Hay Library (projects do not need to relate to Lovecraft directly). The Fellowship provides a monthly stipend of $2,500 for up to two months of research at the library between July 2020 and June 2021. The fellowship is open to students, faculty, librarians, artists, and independent scholars.

(7) DOOM IN BLOOM. In “The Pleasure (Reading) of Impending Doom” at CrimeReads, Tosca Lee recommends novels by Ben H. Winters, William Fortschen, A.G. Riddle if you want to read novels about global apocalypses.

As a lifelong lover of a good doomsday story, I’ve always considered the tenacity and resourcefulness of the human spirit to be the category’s major appeal—along with the it-could-really-happen scary plausibility and ingenious “prepping” specifics, of course. But it wasn’t until I started writing my apocalyptic thriller, The Line Between, that the real charm of the genre became apparent to me. 

I’d recently married a single father and become an insta-mom to four. Life was busy and crowded with details. But as I began to plot my literary cataclysm, the chaos of daily life—work, bills, school schedules, errands, house stuff, holidays, political noise, grocery lists, social media, bucket lists, and those ever-elusive last ten pounds—fell away in the face of a story with a single goal: survival. Suddenly, that looming list of to-dos doesn’t seem so insurmountable—or even important—compared to savoring time with those we love while we’re all here on earth together.

(8) NAKAHARA OBIT. Kellye Nakahara, best known for her work on M*A*S*H but who also had several genre roles, died February 17. Consequence of Sound paid tribute: “R.I.P. Kellye Nakahara, M*A*S*H Actress Dies at 72”.

…Nakahara portrayed Nurse Kellye Yamato for 167 episodes of the hit show (according to IMDb). It would go on to be her largest and most memorable role. She followed it up with bit parts in television series such as At Ease, Hunter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and with film roles in Clue (the cook, Mrs. Ho), Black Day Blue Night (as Fat Mama), and Eddie Murphy’s version of Doctor Dolittle (credited as Beagle Woman).

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 17, 1959 The Cosmic Man premiered. It produced by Robert A. Terry and directed by Herbert S. Greene. The film stars John Carradine, Bruce Bennett and Angela Greene. The film was shot quickly, primarily on a hotel lobby set, and in Griffith Park in L.A., where the Griffith Observatory was used as stand-in for the Pacific Institute of Technology. At least in Los Angeles, it played on a double bill with House on Haunted Hill. With the notable exception of Variety who really didn’t like it, most critics at the time found it to be a pleasant, fun experience. The audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes does not reflect that — it has a 0% rating from the very few, only thirty four, who’ve given it a score. You can see it here.
  • February 17, 1966 — On this day in Dublin, The Projected Man premiered. It was directed by Ian Curteis from a script by Peter Bryan, John C. Cooper, and Frank Quattrocchi, and starred Bryant Haliday, Mary Peach, Norman Wooland, Ronald Allen, and Derek Farr. Universal Studios released it on a double bill with Terror Island. Critics noted the monster’s resemblance to that of one in The Fly but those involved here denied that film inspired the look of the creature in this movie. It was featured in a ninth season episode of  Mystery Science Theater 3000, and currently the audience over at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 3% rating. You can see it here.

February 17, 1966 — In the United Kingdom, Episode Twenty-one of the first season of The Thunderbirds,  “The Duchess Assignment”, aired. Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and. filmed by their production company. The electronic marionette puppetry which they called Supermarionation  was combined with scale-model special effects sequences.  It was the fifth such project by their company. You can see this episode of the Thunderbirds here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 17, 1903 Kenne Duncan. He’s got a number of genre credits starting with the 1938 Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars serial where he was the Airdrome Captain. He’d play Ram Singh, the butler to the Spider, in The Spider’s Web and The Spider Returns serials, and he’d be Lt. Lacy in the 1939 Buck Rogers serial. Several years later, he’d be Cheney Hencheman Barnett in The Adventures of Captain Marvel serial. You can see him in the first chapter of Spider’s Web serial here. (Died 1972.)
  • Born February 17, 1912 Andre  Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. I remember them with some fondness quite some decades after reading them. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 17, 1920 Curt Swan. He’s the artist most associated with Superman during the Silver Age, and he produced hundreds of covers and stories from the Fifties through the Eighties. He would be let go in the DC reorganization of the Eighties with his last work as a regular artist on Superman being the 1986 story “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” that was written by Alan Moore. (Died 1996.)
  • Born February 17, 1930 Ruth Rendell. I’ve read and enjoyed some of her mysteries down the decade but am not familiar at all with the three listed as genre by ISFDB (The Killing Doll, The Tree of Hands and The Bridesmaid). Who of you is familiar with these? (Died 2015.)
  • Born February 17, 1931 Johnny Hart. The creator of B.C. and The Wizard of Id. (Brant Pant was the other creator of the latter strip.)  He certainly wasn’t without controversy as this strip attests. (Died 2007.)
  • Born February 17, 1954 Don Coscarelli, 66. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based on a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person
  • Born February 17, 1971 Denise Richards, 49. Her first genre role was as Tammy in Tammy and the T-Rex (really don’t ask). Her next role was the one she’s known for as Carmen Ibañez in Starship Troopers. She’ll be a few years later Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough, the eighteenth Bond film. She’s been announced as playing Victoria Darw in the still to be scheduled Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove.
  • Born February 17, 1974 Jerry O’Connell, 46. Quinn Mallory on Sliders, a series whose behind the broadcast politics is too tangled to detail here. His first SF role was on Mission to Mars as Phil Ohlmyer with the SF dark comedy Space Space Station 76 with him as Steve being his next role. He’s done a lot of of DCU voice work, Captain Marvel in Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Clark Kent / Superman in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisJustice League Dark, The Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen where he also plays Cyborg Superman to great, chilling effect. The latter film is kickass excellent. 

(11) SH-BOOM. High Seas Trading Co. has reason to brag about its “Outer Space” design:

The Hawaiian Shirt that the Astronauts wore on Aloha Friday on the International Space Station.This space themed Hawaiian shirt is out of this world.

(12) FRESH LID. Alasdair Stuart’s “The Full Lid for 14th February 2020” maps the abstractions of nautical horror with Underwater and The Lighthouse, take a look at the amazing Parasite and shows him learning to Hack the Panic!

Signal Boost this week is Mockery Manor ,Mike UnderwoodKevin Petker‘s Princess World is live on Kickstarter from next week. Be sure to check it outRosarium are currently crowdfunding ‘Hellraiser meets Black History Month’ graphic novel, Box of Bones.. Gordon B. White‘s splendidly titled anthology As Summer’s Mask Slips, and Other Disruptions just got a starred PW review!!

Finally Tracacy Barnett’s current project, This Thing We Started is crowdfunding now. They’ve also recommended Descent into Midnight, launching on Saturday and VERY much my sort of thing.

(13) SPATIAL DELIVERY. James Davis Nicoll found copies of “Five SF Stories About Teleportation Systems Gone Awry” at Tor.com. At least.

In Thomas Disch’s 1967 novel Echo Round His Bones, Nathan Hansard is transmitted to America’s Camp Jackson Mars via teleporter. This is a routine operation…or so it is believed. Wrongly. Hansard is surprised to discover himself somewhere other than Mars. Teleportation creates phantom duplicates on Earth, living ghosts dependent on the phantom duplicates of supplies sent to Mars. Food is in short supply, but no matter. Some of Hansard’s predecessors have solved the problem in a straightforward manner: by eating their fellow phantoms….

But if they eat The Phantom, who will remain to leave comments on Lela Buis’ blog?

(14) EASY DOES IT. So, more like smushing together mudpies? “New Horizons spacecraft ‘alters theory of planet formation'”.

Scientists say they have “decisively” overturned the prevailing theory for how planets in our Solar System formed.

The established view is that material violently crashed together to form ever larger clumps until they became worlds.

New results suggest the process was less catastrophic – with matter gently clumping together instead.

The study appears in Science journal and has been presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle.

…The claim arises from detailed study of an object in the outer reaches of the Solar System. Named Arrokoth, the object is more than six billion km from the Sun in a region called the Kuiper belt. It is a pristine remnant of planet formation in action as the Solar System emerged 4.6 billion years ago, with two bodies combining to form a larger one.

Scientists obtained high-resolution pictures of Arrokoth when Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft flew close to it just over a year ago. It gave scientists their first opportunity to test which of the two competing theories was correct: did the two components crash together or was there gentle contact?

The analysis by Dr Stern and his team could find no evidence of violent impact. The researchers found no stress fractures, nor was there any flattening, indicating that the objects were squashed together gently.

(15) HIGH FLIGHT. BBC is there: “Virgin Galactic: Unity rocket ship moves to operational base”.

Sir Richard Branson has moved his rocket plane from its development base in California to what will be its operational centre in New Mexico.

The transfer of the Unity vehicle and its mothership, Eve, to the Spaceport America complex signals the start of final testing.

Sir Richard’s Virgin Galactic company is now close to beginning commercial service.

More than 600 individuals have paid deposits to ride Unity to over 80km.

The trip will enable them to experience a few minutes of weightlessness around the top of the rocket ship’s climb.

Already almost 100 Virgin Galactic staff have moved to the southern New Mexico spaceport to prepare it – and themselves – for operations.

Unity will now perform a series of test flights above the desert.

Some of these will see it dropped from altitude to simply glide back to the runway. Others will involve firing its rocket motor to power skyward.

(16) WHAT A CAST. Does a show about Skeletor and He-Man deserve this array of talent? “Mark Hamill and Lena Heady Lead Expansive Voice Cast for Kevin Smith’s ‘Masters of the Universe’ Series”.

Netflix and Mattel TV announced an expansive voice cast for its upcoming “Masters of the Universe” series from Kevin Smith. The cast is led by Mark Hamill as Skeletor, Lena Headey as Evil-Lyn and Chris Wood as Prince Adam aka He-Man.

The new series, “Masters of the Universe: Revelations,” will focus on the unresolved storylines of the original 1982 TV series, picking up many of the characters’ journeys where they left off decades ago.

In addition to those three, the cast also includes Sarah Michelle Gellar (Teela), Liam Cunningham (Man-At-Arms), Stephen Root (Cringer), Diedrich Bader (King Randor/Trap Jaw), Griffin Newman (Orko), Tiffany Smith (Andra), Henry Rollins (Tri-Klops), Susan Eisenberg (Sorceress), Alicia Silverstone (Queen Marlena), Justin Long (Roboto), Jason Mewes (Stinkor), Phil LaMarr (He-Ro), Tony Todd (Scare Glow), Cree Summer (Priestess), Kevin Michael Richardson (Beast Man), Kevin Conroy (Mer-Man) and Harley Quinn Smith (Ileena).

(17) INSPECTOR SPOT-ET. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Spot may not be designed to follow the Three Laws (yet?), but it is starting to protect humans by taking over certain hazardous and/or mind-numbingly repetitive jobs. Of course, some people would argue that it’s also starting to threaten humans by taking over certain hazardous and/or mind-numbingly repetitive jobs. SYFY Wire: “Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog gets a job working an offshore oil rig”.

See Spot walk. See Spot sit. See Spot roll over. See Spot run onto a Norwegian oil rig to sniff out lethal gas leaks!

Boston Dynamics’ next-generation robotic device, affectionately nicknamed Spot, will soon be embarking on a new test mission aboard an offshore oil rig for petroleum product producer Aker BP and AI software company Cognite. The newly announced project will be rolled out to test a number of advanced robots and drones on Aker BP’s Skarv installation in the Norwegian Sea later this year.

[…] “Our vision is to digitalize all our operations from cradle to grave in order to increase productivity, enhance quality, and improve the safety of our employees,” Aker BP’s CEO Karl Johnny Hersvik said in a press release. “Exploring the potential of robotics offshore underpin our digital journey.”

(18) COLLECTIBLE ROBOT. Michael Crawford provides a review and photos of Wal-Mart’s “Robby the Robot Forbidden Planet action figure” at Captain Toy.

Sculpting – ****
The sculpt isn’t particularly detailed, but the original robot had a lot of smooth surfaces.

What sets this guy apart is all the individual pieces that went into making him, particularly inside and attached to the dome. Check out the levers and doo-dads which would spin and turn and clack along as he spoke and moved, demonstrating the very analog way we looked at robots back then. You could almost see the zeroes and ones flitting through his mechanical brain. Of course none of the interior dome pieces on this figure move, but the detail work is quite impressive for this price point.

The body recreates the original look quite well, although the proportions are a smidge off. Still, at a solid 14″ tall, he’s about the right height and scale to fit in great with other sixth scale figures, including the old Lost In Space characters.

(19) FRENCH VIDEO OF THE DAY. (A) Vous Regardez Un Film on Vimeo is a cartoon by Jon Boutin about the drudgery of going to the office.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, Mlex, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who scores a Rishathra hat trick.]