(1) APPROACHES TO MILSF. Greg Hullender’s review of “Infinity Wars, edited by Jonathan Strahan” for Rocket Stack Rank includes this analysis:
Make Love not War
The stories take the following attitudes toward the military:
Hate it. Soldiers are doing evil: 7
Despise it. Soldiers are wasting their lives: 3
Admire/respect it. Soldiers are heroes: 5
All of the recommended stories are from the last group, which is a little odd. It’s perfectly possible to write a great story from an anti-military point of view or with an anti-war message (e.g. Catch 22), but that’s not what we find in this volume. Perhaps it’s just a lot easier to write good military SF if you don’t actually hate the military.
(2) I SCREAM. Freddie In Space and artist Frank Browning invite you to cool down with Ben & Jerry’s Horror Movie Ice Cream flavors. There are over two dozen like this –
(3) LET DARKNESS FALL. Coming October 10 at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination:
The recent solar eclipse transfixed the world. People in the path of totality marveled at the corona and how the air temperature dropped briefly and, in some parts of the country, the cicadas began to sing as if it were night. But the eclipse also offers a world of possibilities for scientific discovery. Jay Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, joins us at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination to discuss his observations of eclipses–66 solar eclipses, including 34 total solar eclipses–and the NSF and National Geographic supported discoveries these have yielded. Dozens of cameras, including a pair of frame-transfer CCDs, were trained on the corona to isolate the specific emissions of 13-times-ionized iron (“the coronal green line”) and 9-times-ionized iron (“the coronal red line”) at high cadence, to attempt to distinguish among models for how the corona is heated to millions of degrees. Dr. Pasachoff will discuss this work and plans for future total, partial, and annular eclipse observations over the next few years, including the 2023 and 2024 American eclipses.
(4) REFORMAUTOMATION. The Babylon Bee promises “New Martin Luther-Shaped Amazon Echo Will Rudely Answer All Your Theology Questions”.
Dubbed the “Amazon Luther,” the new device is programmed to answer all your theology questions in the Reformer’s trademark aggressive tone and style.
An Amazon rep gave a demo at the press conference announcing the device, showing off some of its dynamic responses:
“Luther, can you tell me about the Pope?”
The Pope is a mere tormentor of conscience. The assembly of his greased and religious crew in praying is altogether like the croaking of frogs, which edifies nothing at all.
“Luther, am I a good person?”
You are a sinner, you’re dead, you’re eaten up with corruption. Every free choice of yours is evil and not good.
“Luther, is Joel Osteen a solid preacher?”
Yes, Joel is an excellent person, as skillful, clever, and versed in Holy Scripture as a cow in a walnut tree or a sow on a harp.
(5) DANIEL OBIT. Actress Jennifer Daniel (1936-2017) died August 16. Her film appearances included the Edgar Wallace Mysteries film series, Gideon’s Way and the Hammer horror films The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) and The Reptile (1966).
(6) WE LIVE IN HIS VISION OF THE FUTURE. The New York Times eulogizes architect Gin Wong, who died September 1: “Gin Wong, Who Designed Futuristic Buildings in Los Angeles, Dies at 94”. He put his creative mark on the city with CBS Television City, the Los Angeles International Airport theme building, and his 1960 design of a Union 76 gas station in Beverly Hills:
— that remains one of his most beloved and enduring. With its red, swooping canopy angling toward the sky, the gas station wed the space age to the mundane task of filling up in a city devoted to cars.
Mr. Wong designed the gas station while working for his former teacher and mentor, William L. Pereira, around the time that he was also credited with creating the startling, spider-like Theme Building at the Los Angeles airport. Writing in The Los Angeles Times in 2010, the critic Bob Pool called the building “part spaceship, part flying saucer” and said that Mr. Wong had “set out to create a futuristic building that would both reflect its relationship with aviation and stand the test of time.”
…While running Mr. Pereira’s company in the late 1960s, Mr. Wong oversaw the design of the Transamerica Pyramid, the striking 853-foot-tall building that pierces the sky in San Francisco.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
- September 23, 1846 — Planet Neptune was discovered.
- September 23, 1962 — The Jetsons aired its very first episode.
- September 23, 1968 — Charly premiered in theaters, based on Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
(8) SFF MADE IT HAPPEN. Lezli Robyn thanks the sff community for donating to her GoFundMe appeal all the money needed for her eye surgery.
I am feeling so very overwhelmed, happy, and so very thankful. Gofundme donators have now raised the entire $8000 needed for a new and 100% successful cross-linking surgery on my eyes to halt the progression of my Keratoconus !!! I would love to thank my family and friends and the many authors, editors, publishers, artists and readers/fans of the sf/fantasy field for amazingly generous donations made to the surprise fundraiser my boss, Shahid Mahmud (who deserves the most thanks!), created to help me raise the money.
I have so many people to thank. I am especially thankful to the readers who donated—the people who, like me, might not have too much to spare, but still donated anyway. Even one of the first fans of my writing, a voracious reader, donated and left such a lovely message on my fundraiser (I’m looking at you, Jo Van Ekeren) that it moved me to tears.
In fact, I have been brought to tears several times over the amazing outpouring of generosity of the donations and the lovely messages written by those who have shared the fundraiser all over the web. And, let me tell you, it’s quite the bittersweet experience for me when I cry. My tears fill in the thinned parts of my corneas that the Keratoconus has eroded over the years, creating a more even, rounded, surface. So even if it was sadness that had caused my tears, for that split second my vision sharpens I experience a moment of wonder and surprise as I see how beautiful and vibrant the world really is, until gravity or the blink of an eye causes the tears to fall to my cheeks.
So, I thank you for the tears; I thank you for your generosity. I have always maintained that the sf/fantasy community operates a lot like a family. It might be a sometimes dysfunctional and controversial family at times, but it is a field notorious for paying it forward to the younger generation. Well, you guys have paid it forward this month to give me sight, in a field I like to think is full of vision for the future, and I can’t show my appreciation enough. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.
(9) LAW LAW LAND. A new legal specialty: “An Accident On The Moon, Young Lawyers To The Rescue”.
…Boggs and her two teammates are the North American finalists for this year’s competition, and next week they’ll go up against teams from South Africa, Greece and India for the big prize.
Each team argues both sides of a case set in the future, in space. This year’s case is, in the broadest terms, about a traffic accident on the moon….
Titan believes that Perovsk’s mining operation is releasing pollution and contaminating experiments, so they send a rover to investigate.
“They collide,” says Boggs. “Now everyone’s upset.”
Perovsk sues Titan over the damaged equipment in the International Court of Justice. Titan accuses Perovsk of breaking the law by polluting the moon. It’s unclear who should pay for what, and why. Rovers don’t carry insurance, and there’s a larger question about who has the right to use, or pollute, the moon in the first place.
Boggs says the case exemplifies one of her favorite things about space law: it’s ambiguous.
“It’s sort of hard not to say anything controversial in space law because everyone has a different opinion about what space law should do,” she explains. Space law is largely based on two treaties, the Outer Space Treaty and the moon Agreement, plus more general international law applied to space. But there’s tension within the treaties about what space should be used for.
(10) IT’S GREAT TO BE A GENIUS, OF COURSE. Brian Niemeier, in “The Convergence of Science Fiction”, joined a YouTuber to share his unique insight into sff history.
YouTuber Max Kolbe recently had me on his show to explain how the SJW convergence of tradpub science fiction happened. Max is particularly interested in the sudden shift from stories that took the Christian worldview for granted to overtly atheistic, anti-religious works. We discussed how John W. Campbell ended the reign of the pulps and how the Futurians fomented a Marxist revolution in SF publishing.
The Futurians? So…. The SJW Convergence happened…before World War 2? Before Heinlein published his first story? Before the invention of the paperback? Not just before TOR books was started, but before Tom Doherty enrolled in kindergarten? Talk about reductio ad absurdum….
(11) IN VINO SFF. Paste says “Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Commemorative Wine Will Be a Thing”.
We’re used to something like a coin, a keychain or at the very least toilet paper as commemorative items—but Square Enix, along with The Wine House in Los Angeles, are taking the more classy route. The two wines offered will be limited edition, one being “a 2016 Château des Bois red wine with hints of strawberry” called “Ifrit Rouge,” named after the classic fire summon from Final Fantasy. Along with Ifrit Rogue will come its counterpart, “Shiva Blanc” (after an ice summon), “a well-balanced 2015 Château des Bois white wine.”
Both bottles will be adorned with a 30th Anniversary logo, and will be packaged in boxes featuring art of the summons the drinks are named after. Of course, you have to be of the legal drinking age of 21 to order these online, with Ifrit Rogue available online here, and Shiva Blanc here. According to The Wine House’s website, these will ship in the beginning of this November to arrive by the end of that month
(12) CLASSICAL AND NEOCLASSICAL TREK. Alex Zalben watches a succession of Star Trek series pilots/first episodes and tweets his judgments. This pair will get you into the thread.
Best part of the plot is that a race of intergalactic swingers want to watch Pike bone, which is VERY 1960s.
— Alex Zalben (@azalben) September 22, 2017
tbh Q in a Starfleet uniform can get it pic.twitter.com/8MNTqFfsWd
— Alex Zalben (@azalben) September 22, 2017
(13) RECALL BOOK WE WILL. If this Saudi artist is never heard from again, you’ll know why:
A social studies textbook in Saudi Arabia was recalled for including a photo depicting a Star Wars character next to a king.
…Shehri, a 26-year-old artist who goes by the nickname Shaweesh, created the image as part of a series that inserts pop culture characters into historical photos and learned it had turned up in a textbook through a text from his mother.
“I am the one who designed it, but I am not the one who put it in the book,” he told the New York Times.
Shehri said he decided to insert Yoda into the photo because he reminded him of King Faisal and is the same color as the Saudi flag.
“He was wise and was always strong in his speeches,” he said. “So I found that Yoda was the closest character to the king. And also Yoda and his light saber — it’s all green.”
Sure, absolutely, I don’t doubt it for a moment.
(14) THE WAY THE FUTURE WASN’T. Noah Smith in “What We Didn’t Get” in his blog Noahpinion compares the successful predictions of the cyberpunk era to the failures of 1950s sf writers to adequately foresee the future and concludes that the reason Silver Age writers didn’t adequately predict the future was that “we ran out of theoretical physics, and we ran out of energy.”
If you watch Star Trek or Star Wars, or read any of the innumerable space operas of the mid-20th century, they all depend on a bunch of fancy physics. Faster-than-light travel, artificial gravity, force fields of various kinds. In 1960, that sort of prediction might have made sense. Humanity had just experienced one of the most amazing sequences of physics advancements ever. In the space of a few short decades, humankind discovered relativity and quantum mechanics, invented the nuclear bomb and nuclear power, and created the x-ray, the laser, superconductors, radar and the space program. The early 20th century was really a physics bonanza, driven in large part by advances in fundamental theory. And in the 1950s and 1960s, those advances still seemed to be going strong, with the development of quantum field theories. Then it all came to a halt. After the Standard Model was completed in the 1970s, there were no big breakthroughs in fundamental physics.
(15) THE KID WHO NEVER STOPS INVENTING. Well, that kind of negativity won’t fly with Molly!
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]