By James Bacon: Brian K. Vaughan was on a conversation item at New York Comic Con and he was joined by Fiona Staples to announce that Saga is back.
Saga #55 will be released at a very keen price of $2.99 on January 26.
Started in 2012, the series went on a hiatus in July 2018. To many fans there was a gasp, a moment of disappointment, but it was clear that this was a clever strategic move to just manage what is an incredible undertaking, 108 comics forming quite a story and a pause being no problem, and here’s the pay off.
Vaughan said, “Other than my own family, collaborating with Fiona Staples on Saga is the most important thing in my life, so I can’t thank readers and retailers enough for their patience. I think our next 54 issues will be even more shocking, strange, and spectacular than the first 54, so we can’t wait to be back on the shelves at your local comic shop soon.”
Staples added: “I’ve really missed connecting with readers through the pages of Saga, so I’m thrilled to roll up my sleeves and dive into this world again. The next arc is already going places I never imagined. I’m so grateful that we’re able to keep doing this!”
Saga has sold seven million copies to date across single issue, trade paperback, compendium, hardcover, and digital editions and has been translated into 20 languages.
The series has won multiple Eisner Awards, Harvey Awards and amongst a host of others the Hugo Award for best Graphic Story 2013.
…A standard radio astronomy technique to make sure that what you see is coming from the object you’re observing is to move the telescope back and forth a bit to point to a different part of the sky and see if the signal persists (perhaps leaking into the dish from a source nearby); this is called “nodding” because it’s like a head nodding. When they did this, the signal went away, then came back when they repointed at Proxima.
So it appears to be coming from the star, or at least form very nearby it in the sky. It also appears to have a very narrow frequency range. Not only that, but another characteristic you might expect from an intelligent signal is that, over time, the frequency itself will shift a bit — if aliens are transmitting from a planetary surface, as that planet rotates it causes a Doppler shift in the signal. A shift was seen in the signal, which is interesting….
2020 brought a plethora of new additions to the gentrification noir canon, but Sam J. Miller’s The Blade Between stands out for its heroes’ plan to raise sinister supernatural forces in defense of their city. Ever since H.P. Lovecraft first drew attention to the plight of New England architecture by filling his fictional decaying homes with hideous monstrosities, Gothic fiction has been a surprisingly partisan force for housing preservation (Jane Eyre and Rebecca notwithstanding). In The Blade Between, the relationship reaches its zenith, as a photographer and his two childhood besties attempt to save their beloved city of Hudson from corporations and yuppies, only to find themselves instead awakening an ancient force bent on vengeance. Also, since this is Sam Miller, be warned: there will be whales.
Take a pandemic. Add the paranormal. Make it a uniquely American story of survival horror. The result: “The Stand,” Stephen King’s epic post-apocalyptic novel from 1978, a new mini-series adaptation of which debuted Thursday on CBS All Access.
Conceived in the pre-Covid era, the show has taken on new resonance since, telling the story of a weaponized virus that wipes out 99 percent of the population. But that’s only the beginning. The real battle happens afterward as supernatural forces of darkness and light — embodied by the demonic dictator Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) and the holy woman Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) — duel for the souls of the plague’s survivors.
Since the original novel’s original release, King’s saga has entered the pop-culture consciousness in many different incarnations, including an expanded edition of the book and an earlier mini-series adaptation. In anticipation of the show’s arrival, we’re tracing the story from its point of origin to its latest mutation.
The opening act of King’s novel is an eerily plausible account of the complete collapse of human society after the “Captain Trips” superflu is unleashed upon the world. That aspect has found relevance across the decades since the novel’s publication, in the Cold War nuclear arms race, through the peak of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, to the events of 2020.
But that’s only the first part. Flagg is presented as an even worse plague upon the living — a grinning dictator who builds a new society based on human drivers like greed, pride, lust and wrath and who exploits the virus for the sake of his own power. Are there lessons to be applied in the real world? Successive generations have thought so….
(5) DOWN MEMORY LANE.
1953 — At the 11th Worldcon in 1953, Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man wins the very first Hugo for Best Novel. It had been published in Galaxy in January, February and March of the previous year. It would also be nominated for the International Fantasy Award, an award that would exist only in the Fifties. This would be the only Hugo that Bester would win though he would be awarded a SFWA Grand Master Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame Award for The Stars My Destination. It, like most of his works, is available from the usual digital suspects.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born December 19, 1897 – Lucia Trent. Book reviewer for The Nation. President of the Western Poets’ Congress. Called the best woman reader of poetry. Got a poem into Fire and Sleet and Candlelight (A. Derleth ed. 1961). Seven books of them, some with husband Ralph Cheyney. (Died 1977) [JH]
Born December 19, 1902 — Sir Ralph Richardson. God in Time Bandits but also Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and Chief Rabbit in Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball which I’ll admit I’ve never seen. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh, my he had an interesting genre film career! (Died 1983.) (CE)
Born December 19, 1922 – Harry Warner, Jr. Two indispensable books of fanhistory, All Our Yesterdays (fandom in the 1940s) and A Wealth of Fable (1950s). Quite possibly the best letters-of-comment author we’ve ever known; it seemed he read and wrote to every fanzine, his letters were short and they were good. Three Hugos, four FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards. Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon. Big Heart (our highest service award). His own fanzines Horizons, Spaceways. First Fandom Hall of Fame. More here. (Died 2003) [JH]
Born December 19, 1949 – Lee Pelton. Active in Minn-stf and Minneapa. Co-edited Rune with Carol Kennedy. Often head of film program at Minicon. Younger brother played baseball with John Purcell, as a result of which Purcell went Askew. (Died 1994) [JH]
Born December 19, 1952 — Linda Woolverton, 68. She’s the first woman to have written a Disney animated feature, Beauty and the Beast, which was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She also co-wrote The Lion King screenplay (along with Irene Mecchi and Jonathan Roberts). (CE)
Born December 19, 1958 – Laura Whitcomb, age 62. Three novels for us. Won three Kay Snow awards, later served a term as a judge. Sings madrigals. [JH]
Born December 19, 1960 — Dave Hutchinson, 60. Best known for his Fractured Europe series which won a BSFA Award for the third novel, Europe in Winter. Europe at Midnight was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. I’ve listened to the entire series and it’s quite fascinating. He’s got a lot of other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into any of those yet. (CE)
Born December 19, 1961 — Matthew Waterhouse, 59. He’s best known as Adric, companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors. He was the youngest actor in that role at the time. And yes, he too shows up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. (CE)
Born December 19, 1970 – Tanigawa Nagaru, age 50. (Personal name last, Japanese style.) Famous for a dozen light novels about Suzumiya Haruhi, which earned TN the grand prize at the 8th Sneaker Awards and became television and film animé, video games, manga, audio dramas, and original Net animation. I’ll actually refer you to the SF Encyclopedia. [JH]
Born December 19, 1972 — Alyssa Milano, 48. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running original Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer Limits, the second Fantasy Island series, Embrace of the Vampire, Double Dragon, the Young Justice animated series as the voice of Poison Ivy and more voice work in DC’s The Spectre excellent animated short as a spoiled rich young thing with a murderous vent who comes to a most fitting end. (CE)
Born December 19, 1975 – Brandon Sanderson, age 45. Thirty novels, three dozen shorter stories. Concluded Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. Proposed a theory of hard and soft magic. Two Hugos, one being for a season of Writing Excuses podcast (with Kowal, Tayler, Wells, J. Sanderson). Fifteen NY Times Best-Sellers. A Geffen last year. Interviewed in Fantasy, Lightspeed, Space and Time, SuperSonic. Launched by Hambly’s Dragonsbane. [JH]
Born December 19, 1979 — Robin Sloan, 41. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it and is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me to consider reviewing, Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, is also probably genre adjacent but is also weirdly about food as well. And he’s a really nice person. (CE)
(8) COME TO PAPA. Literary Hub’s Robert K. Elder contemplates “Why Ernest Hemingway Makes a Great Subject for Comic Book Artists”).Michael Toman surmises, “He was also one of Harlan Ellison’s favorite authors, as shown by HE’s naming of his ‘Kilimanjaro Corporation.’” (Could Ellison also have been paying a homage to Bradbury’s 1965 story with a Hemingway connection?)
…Celebrity appearances aren’t new to comic books. Both Stephen Colbert and President Barack Obama got guest shots with Spider-Man, and Eminem got a two-issue series with the Punisher. Orson Welles helped Superman foil a Martian invasion, and President John F. Kennedy helped the Man of Steel keep his secret identity. Even David Letterman got a studio visit from the Avengers. But, using the crowd-sourced Comic Book Database and my own research, I’ve discovered that Hemingway by far exceeds other authors in number of appearances (Shakespeare: 22, Mark Twain: 13). As historical figures go, only Abraham Lincoln comes close to touching him, with roughly 122 appearances in comics (and counting).
(9) BATWHEELS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Batman/The Batmobile on YouTube is a 2012 documentary, directed by Roko Belic, all about the Batmobile. Although Batman always had a car, the Batmobile was really invented by George Barris for the 1966 TV series, Barris was interviewed for the documentary, and discussed how he bought a Ford Futura concept car and turned it into the Batmobile Adam West drove. West is also interviewed, as is Christian Bale, Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and Christopher Nolan. But the film is really for people who (like me) enjoy watching car designers talk about their work. This film is pretty geeky but worth an hour.
Fun fact: H.R. Giger was hired to design a Batmobile for BATMAN FOREVER but the car he drew looked like “a tarantula with four legs” and was unfilmable.
…As a child, I watched salmon leap from the brilliantly named fishing pools beyond the blue door (Kitbog, Witch’s, Badger) and played hide-and-seek inside Doulie Tower (a folly built around 1780, when Lord Adam Gordon, commander-in-chief of the army in Scotland, acquired the estate and turned it from “the wildest state of barrenness” into woods filled with Scots pines, oaks, rowans and silver birches). I watched dippers gliding through the Rocks of Solitude (a picturesque narrow stretch of the North Esk) and I listened to my father’s stories about trolls who lived beneath the gnarled roots of beech trees. It felt impossible that all this should exist on the other side of that little blue door, yet it did.
Comic book and TV writer Brian K. Vaughan has been hired to write Legendary’s television series adaptation of classic pulp hero Buck Rogers. Vaughan has worked on a ton of projects over the years, and he seems like a solid choice to take on the material. Some of his previous TV projects include Lost, Under the Dome, Y: The Last Man, Runaways, and more.
(12) THE TWELVE DAYS OF 770. Applause to Bruce D, Arthurs for his seasonal parody (left as a comment.)
Because I was avoiding stuff I should actually be working on this morning, I produced the following instead:
On the twelfth day of Christmas My bookstore shipped to me All twelve Maradaine books, Eleven Pipers viking, Ten Leibers mousing, Nine Gideons boning, Eight Correias shooting Seven Besters jaunting, Six Star Trek tie-ins, F-i-i-i-i-ve Mu-r-r-r-de-r-r-r-r-bots!, Four Asimovs, Three Jules Verne, Two Turtledoves,
And a one-volume Lord of the Rings!
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kaya Torres is circling a black hole in a pod, with no one coming, no one to help. She’s Alone. Mind Mattersadds —
…As Torres is “marooned on my lifepod” as the only survivor of the DSV Intrepid, she is able to contact an “interstellar penpal” to keep her company via occasional messages until her food runs out and she dies. Unless…
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Nicholas Whyte, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
(1) NOW IT’S AN APOCALYPSE. The row started by Martin Scorsese’s remarks isn’t likely to subside anytime soon now that Francis Ford Coppola has been even more extreme in his supporting comments: “Coppola backs Scorsese in row over Marvel films”.
Francis Ford Coppola jumped into a controversy over the Marvel superhero movies Saturday, not just backing fellow director Martin Scorsese’s critique of the films but denouncing them as “despicable”…
“When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration.
“I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again,” the 80-year-old filmmaker said.
“Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”
I disagree with Scorsese. I disagree with Coppola. They are wrong to dismiss the Marvel Cinematic Universe as “not cinema.”
The final battle in Avengers Endgame was a masterpiece of cinema, ranking with the final battle in Seven Samurai.
Why do I say this?
Because we got to see people we had fallen in love with rise to the most courageous moments of their lives — and when that whole group of women warriors showed up, that was one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever seen in a movie. I cheered.
See, the thing about movies — yes, they’re art. There is true artistry in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. Goodfellas is riveting, so is Casino.
But … I did not cheer any moment in any of those pictures. Was I emotionally involved? Yes. When the door closes on Kate’s realization that Michael has lied to her, that’s a powerful cinematic moment that resonates forever.
But do I come out of Scorsese and Coppola’s movies feeling cheered? No. Enlightened? Maybe a little. But never cheered.
And I think that’s part of their resistance to the Marvel films. A Marvel film is a good time. You experience a challenge, a triumph, a few laughs, and you end up feeling emotionally gratified, even exhilarated…
A nice crowd showed up to hear Barbara Krasnoff and Nicole Kornher-Stace read from their new novels, despite a lot of rain.
(4) UNWONTED PERFECTION. You don’t remember typing that
word? You thought you wrote another one? In fact, you’re sure of it? Granola
Rolla, a Facebook friend, takes that sort of thing in stride:
Autocorrect is a poet, effortlessly, without pretense, never feeling like it should explain itself. I envy the confidence with which it edits poetry into my day. Also, I have disreputable gloves on my shopping list. I doubt they’ll be as useful for the housework as the disposable gloves I’d thought I wanted, but such a fun thing to ponder.
Talking was the most popular way to communicate via cellphone in the fall of 2012, with 94% of survey respondents having done so in the prior week, according to consumer-research firm MRI-Simmons. By the spring of 2019, talking had fallen to least popular, behind texting, emailing, posting to social media and using chat apps, with just 45% reporting doing it in the prior week. In other words, less than half had used their phone for an actual phone call.
Multiple people I interviewed said when the phone rings unexpectedly, they assume someone has died….
With multiple ride systems — four to be exact — that guests will experience while traveling on this intergalactic journey, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be one of the longest Disney rides in existence, as guests find themselves being chased by Kylo Ren for 15 minutes.
The latest Star Wars ride will also function like all your favorite Disney attractions combined into one, channeling The Haunted Mansion, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and famed overseas attractions like Mystic Manor for a thematic experience likely to exceed expectations, even for those who have already tried out other Star Wars rides. Paired with its special effects, projections, and blaster gunfire, Rise of the Resistance is shaping up to be a cinematic attraction so over the top, you won’t even be able to imagine what will come next.
In the summer of 2008, Eisner and Harvey Award-winning comic writer Brian K. Vaughan (Lost, Y: The Last Man) sold a high-concept screenplay to DreamWorks called Roundtable. The movie never went into production, the script sat on a shelf collecting dust, and Vaughan went on to become the showrunner of the CBS TV series Under the Dome and continue his career in comics by writing things like the sci-fi/fantasy epic Saga. But now, eleven years later, Vaughan’s Roundtable script will finally see the light of day.
The Black List, the organization that publishes an annual list of the best unproduced screenplays in the industry, is sponsoring a live reading of the script for one night only in Los Angeles, and this sounds like a cool opportunity to experience a story that may otherwise languish in obscurity forever. Read on for the synopsis of Roundtable, and to find out how to get tickets to the show.
Correspondents David Pogue, Martha Teichner and Nancy Giles, along with “Sunday Morning” intern Cory Peeler, face a difficult challenge: Find their way out of a room before a bomb goes off! It’s just one of many examples of the big business in escape rooms – immersive adventures in which people must solve puzzles in order to extricate themselves. Air Date: Oct 20, 2019
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 20, 1965 — Village Of The Giants premiered. It starred Tommy Kirk and Beau Bridges, and is very loosely based on Wells’s book The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth. It scores 20% at Rotten Tomatoes.
October 20, 1987 — The Hidden premiered. Starring Kyle McLachlan with Claudia Christian in an interesting cameo as well, reviewers (76%) and audience.(72%) alike loved it at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 20, 1882 — Bela Lugosi. He’s best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film franchise Drácula. Now tell me what’s your favorite film character that he played? (Died 1956.)
Born October 20, 1905 — Frederic Dannay. Creator and writer, along with Manfred Bennington Lee, of Ellery Queen. Now I wasn’t going to say was he was genre but ESF does say he was because such genre authors such as Sturgeon penned Queen novels such as The Player on the Other Side. (Died 1982.)
Born October 20, 1916 — Anton Diffring. A long career with many genre roles which I’ll note but a few of here. He was Fabian in Fahrenheit 451, Graf Udo Von Felseck of Purbridge Manor in The Masks of Deaths (a rather well-crafted Holmes film) and he played De Flores, a neo-Nazi in “Silver Nemesis”, a most excellent Seventh Doctor story. (Died 1989.)
Born October 20, 1934 — Michael Dunn. He’s best known for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless, attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had another appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea “The Wax Men” episode. (Died 1973.)
Born October 20, 1943 — Peter Weston. He made uncountable contributions in fan writing and editing, conrunning and in local clubs. He was nominated for a number of Hugo Awards but never won, including one nomination for his autobiography, Stars in My Eyes: My Adventures in British Fandom. Beginning in 1984 and for many years after, those Awards were cast by the car-parts factory which Weston owned and managed until he retired. (Died 2017.)
Born October 20, 1935 — Leg Mailer, 85. He showed up in Trek twice first playing Bilar in “The Return of the Archons” and then being an Ekosian SS lieutenant in the “Patterns of Force” episode. And he Imperial Guard Number One in The Star Wars Holiday Special. He had one-offs on The Greatest American Hero and the original Mission:Impossible, and he did voice work for An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. Note: until 1970, he used his birth name of Ralph Medina.
Born October 20, 1937 — Emma Tennant. To the Manor born and a lifelong supporter of Labour, ISFDB lists nine of her novels as being as SFF. As the Literary Encyclopedia says “Her work is feminist, magical and wicked, and uses the fantastic and the Gothic to interpret and explore everyday women’s roles.“ I’ve not read her, so do tell me about her pleased if you’ve read her! (Died 2017.)
Born October 20, 1941 — Anneke Wills, 78. In 1966, she took the role of Polly, a companion to both the First and Second Doctors. She was herself in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. She was also in Doctor Who: Devious, a fan film in development since 1991. You can see the first part here.
Born October 20, 1946 — Thomas Wylde, 73. He’s here because he’s got two stories in the Alien Speedway franchise, Roger Zelazny’s Alien Speedway #2: Pitfall and Roger Zelazny’s Alien Speedway #3: The Web. I’ve never heard of these. Anyone read them? He’s also got two stories in L. Sprague de Camp’s Doctor Bones series as well.
Born October 20, 1958 — Lynn Flewelling, 61. The lead characters of her Nightrunner series are both bisexual, and she has stated this is so was because of “the near-absence of LGBT characters in the genre and marginalization of existing ones.” (Strange Horizon, September 2001) The Tamír Triad series is her companion series to this affair
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro shows Superman getting some parental advice.
…While they were writing “March,” they would spend hours on the phone combing through Lewis’s memories of sit-ins at whites-only lunch counters and the Bloody Sunday attacks during the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march. Occasionally they’d even fall asleep while still on the phone. “It reminded me of when sometimes Martin Luther King Jr. would call me late at night and he would fall asleep, and then I would fall asleep,” Lewis told me. “We’d talk and talk.”
Both men drew inspiration for the project from the 1957 “Montgomery Story” comic book that Lewis read as a teen. (It sold for 10 cents a copy.) They also looked to successful graphic memoirs like Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home” and Art Spiegelman’s “Maus.”
Damon Lindelof’s entertaining comic-book rethink takes on the Big Bad of white supremacy, explosively and sometimes unsteadily.
Many a superhero origin story involves exposure to a volatile substance — something dangerous, radioactive, caustic — that can be powerful if mastered, ruinous if uncontrolled.
In HBO’s “Watchmen,” beginning Sunday, that fissile storytelling material is history: specifically, America’s legacy of white supremacy. The first episode begins with the 1921 riot in Tulsa, Okla., in which white mobs rampaged in the prosperous “Black Wall Street,” massacring African-Americans in the street and strafing them from above with airplanes. A small boy’s parents pack him onto a car that’s fleeing the mayhem, like Kal-El being sent from Krypton. But there is no Superman flying to the rescue.
With that opening, Damon Lindelof (“Lost,” “The Leftovers”) reframes the universe that the writer Alan Moore and the artist Dave Gibbons created in the 1980s comics series. Where Moore wrote an alternative history of Cold War America — a pre-apocalyptic dystopia in which masked vigilantes have been outlawed — Lindelof reaches back and forward in time to root his caped-crusaders story in a brutal American tragedy.
The choice invests this breathtaking spectacle with urgency. “Watchmen” is a first-class entertainment out of the box, immediately creating a sad and wondrous retro-futuristic world. It takes longer, though, to get a handle on the complicated and all-too-real material it uses as its nuclear fuel….
Things picked up when Claire mentioned that she’d been reading The Name of the Wind. a fantasy novel from The Kingfisher Chronicles series by Patrick Rothfuss. Piotr is, as he puts it, ‘a huge fantasy nerd.’ ‘He was very excited to talk about that,’ said Claire. He taught her how to pronounce the name of the novel’s main character, Kvothe. (It’s Ka-Voth-ee.) Piotr loosened up considerably on the topic of fantasy fiction. ‘Probably too much for a first date,’ he told me. He needn’t have been concerned; a self-proclaimed fantasy nerd herself, Claire described him as ‘just the right amount of nerd.’ ‘We had a lot in common,’ she said.
“Claire told me she didn’t feel much of an attraction, either, but ‘I would maybe have gone out with him if he had asked.’ In the end, she considers the date a success because ‘I got to talk about books I like.’
Until recently, most people likely haven’t encountered someone who’s been knocked off balance by a DNA test result, so it’s understandable they might not appreciate the magnitude of the impact. But it’s just a matter of time. Mind-blowing DNA revelations are becoming so common that some DNA testing companies have trained their customer service staff representatives to respond empathetically. While those employees may know the right thing to say, here in the real world the people around us often haven’t got a clue how it feels — like a punch to the gut.
If you’ve become untethered from your genetic family, you might get a second surprise: some of your friends and loved ones may be remarkably unsympathetic, often infuriatingly judgmental, and sometimes even hostile. It’s clear that although DNA surprises have become ubiquitous, social attitudes haven’t kept pace, and a stigma remains….
3. Blood doesn’t make family.
This tries to mollify us and discount our feelings at the same time. Blood is exactly what makes family, consanguinity being the first definition of kinship. Certainly there are also families of affinity, but the familial love we feel for them doesn’t alter the fact that our blood relatives exist and they matter to us.
A brainless, bright-yellow organism that can solve mazes and heal itself is making its debut at a Paris zoo this weekend.
At least so far, “the blob” is more benevolent than the ravenous star of its 1950s sci-fi film classic namesake.
Time-lapsed videos of the blob show a slimy organism rapidly multiplying in size. How fast exactly? The blob can sprint about four centimeters per hour, according to the Paris Zoological Park
The blob is neither animal, nor plant. And although Physarum polycephalum — Latin for “many-headed slime” — is classified as a type of slime mold, scientists now consider the creature unrelated to fungi.
…The slime mold, which lacks a nervous system, is capable of advanced decision-making, learning and long-term memory storage, according to Audrey Dussutour, who studies unicellular organisms with the French National Center for Scientific Research.
“It can find its way through a maze, it can construct efficient transport networks, sometimes better than us, actually,” Dussutour said in an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition.
Australian carrier Qantas has completed a test of the longest non-stop commercial passenger flight as part of research on how the journey could affect pilots, crew and passengers.
The Boeing 787-9 with 49 people on board took 19 hours and 16 minutes to fly from New York to Sydney, a 16,200-km (10,066-mile) route.
Next month, the company plans to test a non-stop flight from London to Sydney.
Qantas expects to decide on whether to start the routes by the end of 2019.
If it goes ahead with them, the services would start operating in 2022 or 2023.
…Passengers set their watches to Sydney time after boarding and were kept awake until night fell in eastern Australia to reduce their jetlag.
Six hours later, they were served a high-carbohydrate meal and the lights were dimmed to encourage them to sleep.
On-board tests included monitoring pilot brain waves, melatonin levels and alertness as well as exercise classes for passengers and analysis of the impact of crossing so many time zones on people’s bodies.
Buckle up, Harry Potter fans, because J.K. Rowling’s latest bombshell about the series definitely isn’t doing anything for inclusivity: The bestselling author has revealed that Dementors are the wizarding world’s version of Italians.
A Disney Channel original movie from the era before they were all about tweens becoming pop stars. (Stream it on Hulu and Amazon.)
Sabrina the Teenage Witch
If you’ve been into the sexy new Sabrina show, revisit the quirky original. You won’t be disappointed. (Stream it on Amazon.)
You’ll want to become a witch after watching this ’90s cinematic staple. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star as witchy sisters navigating love, death, and magic. (Stream it on Amazon.)
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Olav Rokne, and Chip Hitchcock for some
of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick
Morris Miller with an assist from Anna NImmhaus.]
The announcement will be made during half-time of the soccer match between Everton and Manchester United, at approximately 6pm GMT. The news will be posted on all Doctor Who social media sites as it’s announced, enabling viewers across the world to all find out who has been cast at the same time.
Of all the things that shouldn’t be possible but are, talking to the International Space Station ranks right up there with Steph Curry’s basketball skills and the existence of Donald Trump.
Think about it. How weird is it that NASA can put a $150bn space station into orbit, which can then be contacted by anybody on Earth? Even you? It’s one of those things that gives you pause?—?the kind of thing you’re vaguely certain is against the law, somewhere.
It’s not something you’re going to be doing tonight?—?not unless you have the relevant equipment already to hand. It takes a little bit of work. But it’s entirely possible, even for those of us who aren’t geeks….
This is a phenomenal experience, it exceeded my expectations and I was blown away by the calibre of the artwork on display. The Cartoon Museum has amassed the finest examples of comic art, an incredible mix of exemplary work, providing a beautiful tapestry of the history and breadth of the greatest works from Britain for public consideration….
Soon I was looking at lovely pieces, starting with Hogarths ‘A Harlots Progress’ from 1732, ‘The Bottle’ from 1847 by George Cruikshank, ‘Ally Sopers; A Moral Lesson’ from 1873, Ronald Searle’s Capsulyssese from 1955, written by Richard Osborne. All giving one a real sense of history, showing that illustrated stories are nothing new in Britain.
Then as I rounded a corner I saw a grouping of Commando Comics placed next to a full colour cover of Charley’s War, and four pages of this seminal work of the First World War. Undoubtedly Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s masterpiece is indeed a crucial addition here, but I had a feeling of true appreciation of the comic form when I saw this colour cover and four original pages lined up. Juxtaposed with this was My Life in Pieces, The Falklands War by Will Kevans from 2014. Original art, cover and concept sketch made for a great grouping….
Last December, word came out that Hasbro was going to try their hand a making a cinematic universe based on their various toy properties, namely G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K. and ROM. I was a little flip about it.
But now Hasbro, lead by Akiva Goldsman, has assembled its writers room and it’s no laughing matter. The big stars of the list are The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’s Michael Chabon (who also worked on Spider-Man 2), Brian K. Vaughan, who you should know from comics like Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Saga, Runaways and a bunch of other impressive titles, and Nicole Perlman, co-writer of Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel.
In 1996, Fox Studios produced the TV series: Space: Above And Beyond (aka S:AAB). The show had Drama, action, mystery and followed the lives of a diverse group of U.S. Marine Space Aviators while fighting against a powerful alien force on the ground, in the air and in outer space. It was part Top Gun, part James Cameron’s Aliens, and all exciting!
This short lived show (1995 to 1996), which fell victim to scheduling conflicts like Joss Whedon’s Firefly, is considered one of the best of Military Science Fiction series to air and is deserving of a convention of its own….
VIP tickets and Premium tickets are both on sale NOW at early-bird prices, and general admission tickets will go on sale starting May 1st.
The series, set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s titular home planet, would tell the story of the man of steel’s grandfather as he fights to restore the family honor of the House of El after it has been shamed.
The pilot will be produced by Warner Horizon Television. Goyer — who penned the screenplays for “Batman Begins,” “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” — will write the pilot with Ian Goldberg. He will executive produce through his company Phantom Four with Damian Kindler, who will serve as showrunner. Colm McCarthy is set to direct the pilot.
(7) KIT WEST OBIT. British special effects artist Kit West (1936 – 17 April 2016), known for his work in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi, died April 17.
Once nominations close at the end of March, we go through the data and process it. There are a few steps to this, the biggest one being canonicalization. We review the data to make sure that votes for, for example, “The Three-Body Problem” and “The 3-Body Problem” and “Three Body Problem” and “ The There Body Problem ” —which would all appear separately in our database—are all set up to be recognized as nominations for the same book. And if you think that’s bad, imagine what it’s like when episodes of television get nominated in Best Dramatic Presentation, where there are series title, episode title, and season and episode number, and a thousand different ways to put those together…
Once that’s done, we have our preliminary finalists. That’s when we start reaching out to nominees, letting them know they’ve been nominated, and a bit about the awards. That can be surprisingly difficult if we don’t know people’s email addresses. Sometimes, they’re public…but fairly often they’re not. There’s a certain amount of Googling, guessing, or asking people with impressive Rolodexes just to figure out a valid email address sometimes.
(11) SELECTIVE QUOTE OF THE DAY. Kate Paulk says Sad Puppies have a future, in “Miscellany” at Mad Genius Club.
In other news, this of the Puppy-related kind, I’ve heard rumors from several sources (but nothing official, alas) that more than 4000 Hugo nomination ballots were cast. I’ve also heard there are some saying that Sad Puppies 4 is a nonentity, that it’s run out of steam, it’s dead, pining for the fjords, gone to a better place… (erm, sorry?). Well, no.
Sad Puppies 4 is waiting to hear who the nominees (*ahem*. The Hugo Site says they aren’t being called nominees any more. They’re ‘finalists’ from a shortlist. Whatever) are before congratulating them for their recognition, whoever they are, and starting the next round of campaigning to boost involvement in the Hugos process.
A certain “website” which I shall not name because I shall not provide it with anymore publicity because I am sure nobody but a tiny number of far left Bernie Sanders supporters in a gated community ever read, as they sip champagne frappucinos in their la-di-da literati bookclub but whose name rhymes with smileearnestbevinbeventy, has SELECTIVELY QUOTED ME in a truly monstrous way to suggest that I am nothing but a poo-poo head! The calumny! The outrage!
(13) A MULTIPLE-CHUS PANEL. This program idea was dropped in the MidAmeriCon II suggestion box….
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express probe spent eight years collecting information on Venus before plunging down to the surface and out of range back in November 2014. But now we finally have the last batch of data it transmitted back to Earth before going offline, and there are some big surprises in all those recordings.
Turns out, the polar atmosphere of Venus is a whole lot colder and a lot less dense than we previously thought, and these regions are dominated by strong atmospheric waves that have never been measured on Venus before.
Maddie Stone from Gizmodo reports that the Venus Express probe found polar areas of Venus to have an average temperature of -157 degrees Celsius, which is colder than any spot on Earth, and about 70 degrees lower than was previously thought.
Not only is Venus much closer to the Sun than we are, it also has a thick, dense cloud layer that traps heat. However, Venus Express also found that the planet’s atmosphere was 22 to 40 percent less dense than expected at the polar regions.
The online and print publicity pieces for J. K. Rowling’s chair reached over 90 countries, plus all 50 states and all news aggregator sites. It saw total media coverage nationwide, with special interest in New York, Silicon Valley, and major cities in the Midwest, as well as the nation’s capital. The chair also garnered attention with 4,428 mainstream media hits, a number that is still rapidly growing. Print media circulated to 291.7+ million, while 15.6+ billion unique viewers visited websites carrying the article.
4) Wait, how do I know you aren’t sneakily telling the truth?
The answer to question 3 is a lie.
5) All right, I’ll let it go. Just know that I’m aware that at any point you could be LYING. So. You studied philosophy and logic. Do you use that in your fiction?
Absolutely! There’s a long tradition of slipping philosophy into speculative fiction, especially since they’re both about exploring ideas and taking them to their logical conclusions. Some of my favorites are Italo Calvino’s “All at One Point” and Asimov’s “The Last Question” for metaphysical cosmology, Ken Liu’s “Mono No Aware” for ethics, and Roald Dahl’s “William and Mary” for epistemology, and the movies Labyrinth and Monty Python’s Holy Grail for classic logic. Also the entire Discworld series for all the philosophy ever.
I don’t tend to take a lot of pictures, unless I’m explicitly doing research on something and think I need pics for future reference, but I did take one or two of the view out my hotel window in Numazu:… And one of some lovely fish-shaped cakes a reader gave me as a gift:…
Okay, those aren’t really cakes. The two in the middle are pancakes with bean paste inside, and the top and bottom ones are a kind of wafer-cookie sandwich, also filled with bean paste. Still. Close enough….
And I learned from her post that when cooked a coelacanth, like every other exotic creature, reportedly “tastes like chicken.”
The SFWA Contracts Committee believes there are serious problems for writers with the non-compete and option clauses in many science fiction and fantasy publishers’ contracts. The non-compete language in these contracts often overreaches and limits authors’ career options in unacceptable ways. Writers may choose to bring out a range of books from different publishers — science fiction from one publisher and fantasy from another publisher, for example — and may have to do so in order to earn anything like a living wage. The problem becomes even worse for hybrid authors who self-publish works in parallel with their traditional publications. Several contracts that we have seen include overlapping restrictions that could keep the author from publishing another book for more than a year….
Any limitation on the author’s ability to write new works at any time is unacceptable and should be deleted.
“Competing work” should be defined in the contract as clearly and narrowly as possible, and preferably limited to a work in the same series (whether one is planned or not). The burden should be on the publisher to prove that another work published elsewhere by the author would reduce their sales.
Still, HBO wavered over whether to make a fantasy show that would be so drastically different from their trademark series, which tended toward the grittily realistic. And even after HBO tentatively signed on, Benioff and Weiss’s original pilot episode had to be completely reshot before the show finally debuted in 2011 – another six years after the producers had first acquired the rights from Martin. But there was hope from another perspective: the rise of prestige television had paralleled the rise of cult fandoms. The passionate online exchanges among fans of books like Martin’s made them desirable targets for marketing. Suddenly, HBO had proof that a Game of Thrones series would have an intensely engaged audience from the start, and the network’s marketers knew exactly how to reach those fans – right on those websites and message boards where they gathered to discuss the minutiae of the books. If the network got particularly lucky, those fans would become ambassadors to a wider audience.
Chip Hitchcock sent the link together with these comments, “They do mention the proper title at one point, although it seems a lost cause generally. OTOH, the night before my cruise got to Dubrovnik two weeks ago, the tour manager specifically called out A Song of Ice and Fire — so some people actually know the original collective.”
On Wednesday’s episode of The Late Late Show With James Corden, host James Corden and some high-wattage Game of Thrones cast members spoofed House of Black and White’s Hall of Faces (a prominent part of the show’s season 6 marketing campaign), with a segment imagining what an obnoxious disembodied head might do to the larger group.
The sketch featured recent guests Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Alfie Allen, and Iwan Rheon…
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Rachel Swirsky, Will R., Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, the Top Level Poster. On his head be it!]
(1) Martin Morse Wooster opened my eyes to a previously unrealized fact — Wil Wheaton is a celebrity homebrewer.
On November 7, 2015, the American Homebrewers Association hosts Learn to Homebrew Day across the country. This year, celebrity homebrewers Wil Wheaton and Kyle Hollingsworth have teamed up with the AHA to promote the celebration! Kyle and the AHA created a video together, which can be viewed here.
Wheaton even has a dedicated blog for his homebrew activities – Devils Gate Brewing. He’s also appeared on Brewing TV.
(2) While researching the homebrew story, I observed Wheaton deliver this absolute home truth —
Saturday Night Live debuted 40 years ago today. 39 years and 51 weeks ago, people started complaining that it isn’t as good as it used to be
(3) Crowdfunding conventions doesn’t always work. The fans who’d like to hold Phoenix Sci-Fi Con 2016 have only managed to raise $50 of the $12,500 goal in 13 days. The last donation was almost a week ago.
(4) “Neiman” has launched a new science-fiction and fantasy news aggregator, Madab, which is the word for “sci-fi” in Hebrew. (Says Neiman: “It fits, since I’m an Israeli in origin.”) The website focuses on books and written stuff, and follows more than a hundred sources.
The important thing was to send back manuscripts at a steady rate and to keep the slush pile low. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. Under my supervision, the slush pile grew and grew until it became several tottering ziggurats of slush. I’d like to say that it was the thought of dashing writers’ hopes that paralyzed me. But I was quite heartless about that. What stopped me in my tracks was the dread of having to make independent literary judgments. I had never before been asked to evaluate writing that was utterly reputation-less and imprimatur-less. In college I had read I.A. Richards’s famous study, ‘Practical Criticism,’ in which Richards asked Cambridge undergraduates to assess poems without telling the students who had written them. The point of the experiment was to show how, when deprived of contextual clues, students ended up making embarrassingly ‘wrong’ judgments about what was good and bad. I was convinced that the slush pile was my own ‘Practical Criticism’ challenge and that I was going to be revealed as a fraud, with no real powers of literary discrimination.
Andrew Porter made a comment about his own experiences, which the Times published:
I read the slush pile at “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction” for 8 years, from 1966 to 1974, going in once a week to sort through anywhere from 100 to 140 unsolicited manuscripts. The ultra-short stories of under 500 words were usually rejected—none of the writers measured up to Fredric Brown, master of the short-short—while poetry, seldom published, also got the boot. Holiday stories sent in during the holidays were also rejected; most authors have no idea what sort of lead time magazines require. Then there were so many stories with punchline endings: “We’ll go to the third planet: the natives call it ‘Earth'” or “Eve? Gosh, my name’s Adam!” Some of those were 25,000 words, and most ended badly.
Occasionally there was a gem among the dross; I pulled Suzette Haden Elgin’s first published story from the piles, and it went on to be published and anthologized many times.
I was paid a pittance, yes ($25 a week), but did my best by the magazine and the authors. We sent them rejection forms, with sometimes a note encouraging more submissions—which was usually a mistake; they sent in their vast files of unpublishable stories. But sometimes…
All life is a is a judgement call, whether of unpublished stories, where to live, who to marry, or what to have for dinner. Heller failed the writers and her employers. I hope her subsequent life judgements have been wiser.
(6) Aaron Pound’s well-written CapClave report on Dreaming About Other Worlds ends with this insight:
After the convention, I spoke with my mother on the phone. She had traveled to New York to visit my sister for the weekend, and she was somewhat perplexed that the redhead and I had gone to CapClave rather than New York ComicCon. While the redhead and I enjoy big conventions with tens of thousands of attendees every now and then – we have been to DragonCon once, and we go to GenCon every year – there is simply no substitute for the congenial and friendly atmosphere of the smaller fan run conventions like CapClave, Balticon, Chessiecon, and the hundreds of other small conventions that take place every year. The blunt truth is that the large professionally run media conventions like New York ComicCon are simply exhausting. New York ComicCon had about 170,000 attendees this year. CapClave had about 400. To attend almost any panel at New York ComicCon, you have to wait in line, often for hours. You might be able to see stars like Chris Evans, George Takei, or Carrie Fischer, but you’ll likely see them from the back of an auditorium as they speak to a couple of thousand people. Or if you want a personal interaction you’ll pay for the privilege, and you will likely only be able to interact with them for a minute or two. At CapClave, on the other hand, the panels are small and interactive. I have never had to spend any appreciable time waiting in line for anything. Most of the authors who attend are more than happy to sit down and talk with you, whether after a panel, sitting in the con suite, or simply while hanging out at the hotel bar. An event like New York ComicCon is a spectacle, while CapClave, by contrast, is a conversation. There is room for both in the genre fiction world, but as for myself, I prefer the conversation.
After years of trying, Hollywood finally threw in the towel last year and stopped trying to make a movie version of Y: The Last Man. Brian K. Vaughan’s epic 60-issue series recounts the adventures of Yorick Brown, his pet monkey Ampersand, and all the ladies on Earth who want a piece of him because he is—spoiler alert—the last man, after a mysterious plague kills everything with a Y chromosome except for him. After the rights were returned to Vaughan following New Line dropping the ball on the films, it was unclear if anything would ever happen with it, given the creator had left television and was concentrating on comics once more.
But much like astronauts returning to Earth from the International Space Station, Y: The Last Man has returned to the world of filmed adaptations. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the sci-fi comic is being developed into a series for cable channel FX. Along with producers Nina Jacobsen and Brad Simpson, the network is looking for a writer to develop the show with Vaughan.
Between these constellations sits an unusual star, invisible to the naked eye, but visible to the Kepler Space Telescope, which stared at it for more than four years, beginning in 2009…..
The light pattern suggests there is a big mess of matter circling the star, in tight formation. That would be expected if the star were young. When our solar system first formed, four and a half billion years ago, a messy disk of dust and debris surrounded the sun, before gravity organized it into planets, and rings of rock and ice.
But this unusual star isn’t young. If it were young, it would be surrounded by dust that would give off extra infrared light. There doesn’t seem to be an excess of infrared light around this star.
It appears to be mature….
Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is set to publish an alternative interpretation of the light pattern. SETI researchers have long suggested that we might be able to detect distant extraterrestrial civilizations, by looking for enormous technological artifacts orbiting other stars. Wright and his co-authors say the unusual star’s light pattern is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps stellar-light collectors, technology designed to catch energy from the star.
“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told me. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”
Boyajian is now working with Wright and Andrew Siemion, the Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. The three of them are writing up a proposal. They want to point a massive radio dish at the unusual star, to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with technological activity.
If they see a sizable amount of radio waves, they’ll follow up with the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, which may be able to say whether the radio waves were emitted by a technological source, like those that waft out into the universe from Earth’s network of radio stations.
I’d heard all about the science, how it was supposed to be so accurate. I’d heard that Weir wrote a pretty compelling story. While I’m not sure about the former, I do agree with the latter, they left out one key piece of commentary on The Martian. It’s actually funny!
Mark Watney, the main character, is a natural smart ass and an independent spirit…in addition to a mechanical engineer and botanist. Honest, if you’re going to strand a guy on Mars, it might have been the perfect choice, which some may perceive as a chink in Watney’s armor on this story, but I disagree.
SFFWorld: With so many interesting universes that you create, you have fans who like them all. But do you ever have fans getting mad at you because you are working on one series and they want a new book in their favorite series?
McGuire: Fans are people, and people sometimes get mad at air. I know I do. So I have people huff at me because I’m not doing what they want, but I also have people get mad because I use profanity, or because I exist in material space, or because I was at Disneyland when they thought I should be writing. I just keep swimming. I need to switch between projects to keep from burning myself out, and I like to think that my true fans would rather have me writing for a long time than get exactly what they want the second that they want it. Unless what they want is a puppy.
Today, Kennedy is president of Lucasfilm, producer of the next installment in the Star Wars series, The Force Awakens. Still, she believes the challenges for women have remained much the same since the late 1970s. “I don’t think things have changed much for women for jobs in the entertainment industry, especially in technical roles,” she said. Kennedy added that at a recent Saturday Night Live taping she attended, she saw no women operating the cameras….
“People in powerful positions are not trying hard enough [to bring women into the industry] and there are an alarming number of women who are not able to get those jobs,” she explained.
“I feel it is going to happen — we are going to hire a woman who’s going to direct a Star Wars movie. I have no doubt. On the other hand, I want to make sure we put somebody in that position who’s set up for success. It’s not just a token job to look out and try to find a woman that we can put into a position of directing Star Wars.”
It’s built from off-the-shelf parts that cost about $7,000 in total, and is capable of printing in full color with up to 10 materials at a time, including fabrics, fiber-optics, and lenses.
Traditional multi-material printers use a mechanical system to sweep each layer of the printed object after it’s laid down to ensure that it’s flat and correctly aligned. The extreme precision of such a system is a big part of the reason that printers are so expensive. But the MultiFab uses a machine-vision system instead of a mechanical one, which allows for precise scanning – down to 40 microns – without the need for so many pricey components, project engineer Javier Ramos told Wired.
The Historical Setting of Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The movie is supposedly set in 932 A.D., and, of course, the story is King Arthur, which is quasi-fictitious anyway. The person who might be the historical basis for the Arthurian legends could have lived in the 5th to 7th century, and 932 is right around the reign of Æthelstan, who was a king of the Anglo-Saxons and the first to proclaim himself King of the English in 927. But hey, whatever this is a comedy, who pays attention to the title cards, right? Other than all those moose and llamas…
In a way, it doesn’t matter because medieval clothing, at least for men, is somewhat vaguely defined from the 5th though 12th centuries, being mostly belted tunics and such. But for reference, here are a few examples of how ruling men were depicted in documents of the period in England. The garment shapes are simple, and the higher up in status a man was, the more decorative trims and jewelry he got. It’s also interesting to note the hair and beard styles.
(17) John Hertz offers a piece he entitles, “Do you, Mister Jones?” —
All this throwing round of the word “geek” recalls a handy little acronym I had published a while ago in The MT Void 1279 (or you may have seen it later in Vanamonde 956, where I added “Among reasons to form one’s own opinions, people can be vigorous in accusing one of one’s virtues”; not to burden the File 770 Reference Director, I allude to Aesop, H. Andersen, B. Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man”, and “The Marching Morons”).
Grapes are sour.
Emperor has no clothes.
Each put-down of you means I win.
Kornbluth didn’t tell the half of it.
[Thanks to James H. Burns, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]