Brianna Wu announced April 28 she has ended her 2020 campaign for Congress. It was Wu’s second attempt to unseat incumbent Stephen Lynch in Massachusetts’ District 8. Both are Democrats.
Her statement on Medium, titled “How would I feel if someone died going to vote for me?” explains why the social effects of the pandemic and associated risks led to her decision to drop out of the race.
…Before the coronavirus hit, my campaign was very well poised to compete. Slowly and steadily, we’ve built up an army of small dollar donors, and every quarter our filing was larger than the last….
Most of that money had been invested into a killer field operation. This had been my plan for two years: to quietly raise money, building up an army. And then, to flood the district from May to September. The Democratic presidential primary had given us amazing data. We knew not just which towns would vote for us, but which specific precincts. We would be very competitive. Engineers are not optimists by nature, but judging from the data, I felt confident in our chances.
And then coronavirus hit.
Suddenly, new questions began to keep me up at night. How would I feel if someone on my team caught COVID-19 executing our plan? How would I feel if someone on my team died? How would I feel if someone died going to vote for me?
This is not a theoretical question, we are at war with a pandemic, and life and death matters are at stake.
At the end of her first run for office in 2018 she tweeted: “I’ve said this in interviews before, but my biggest mistake early on was NOT HIRING EXPERIENCED PEOPLE at the beginning. I thought I could do it like a startup, and we could learn as we went. By the time I realized that was a failing strategy, it was too late.”
She expanded on that in her latest statement, saying:
The biggest lesson I learned in 2018 is you cannot win a congressional election with digital alone. We tried this in 2018, doing amazingly well for a first time candidate and getting almost half the votes we needed to win. But, a lot of people are simply not reachable through ads, as Mike Bloomberg can attest to. When you hold digital events, the people that show up tend to already support you. The other half of my win number would have to come from canvassing and local events. That is not possible to pursue in an ethical way.
The other factor is what voting will look like in September. I dearly hope our legislature will do the right thing and move to an all mail-in ballot system, mailing one to every registered voter’s home. But the truth is, the best thing for our democracy would seriously disadvantage my campaign. An all-absentee ballot race would favor the incumbent with higher in-district name recognition.
Wu concluded, “I’m not sure what’s next for me. I’ll be taking time to mourn and find my balance. I’ll let all of you know when I figure it out.”
(1) PRESSING IN. Cat Rambo’s video “Why Small Press Books Don’t Almost Always Suck” challenges negativity about small presses with examples from her own career.
Cat talks about some of the small press books she’s appeared in or worked with, and what she likes about them
So far as I can tell she doesn’t identify any particular person as holding this opinion. But it might be more than a coincidence that a few weeks back Nick Mamatas wrote a column for LitReactor titled “Why Are Small Presses Almost Always So Awful?”
(2) IN CASE OF EMERGENCY. [Item by Dann.] Regarding Archive.org, Brian Keene has gone through the process of figuring out how to get his works removed from the National Emergency Library. To make it easier for other authors, he supplied the process in The Horror Show with Brian Keene – episode 259.
The subject line should read “National Emergency Library Removal Request”
Authors need to include the URL(s) from within the National Emergency Library so they will know which work(s) they need to remove.
It’s kind of crappy to force authors to jump through hoops to prevent copyright infringement, but I guess it’s better to have hoops available than to just ignore the infringement and drive on as if nothing is wrong.
…You’ve read quite a number of short stories over the years as an editor. For writers looking to improve their understanding of how short stories work, how would you suggest critically reading stories with an eye to improvement and understanding? Are there particular elements critical readers should look for?
This is a great question. Years ago I heard of an author who retyped a famous story to figure out what the author was doing. I don’t think the writer has to go that far, but critical reading is essential. Pick a favorite story that wowed you and read it a few times. Take notes. Look for the foreshadowing. Look for the metaphors and the similes. Pay attention to the arc. Pay attention to every clue. A professional author rarely wastes a word in a work of short fiction. It takes practice to pick up on most of the details the first time through a tale, but it’s a lot easier to see these details once you know what’s coming.
(4) NOT A DESIRABLE CHAPTER. Publishers Weekly reports on the troubles of a major book printer: “LSC Files Chapter 11”
LSC Communications announced this morning that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The filing has been expected for several months as the country’s largest book printer—and one of its largest printers overall—has struggled under the weight of its failed merger with Quad Graphics and the outbreak of the new coronavirus. LSC’s subsidiaries in Mexico and Canada are not included in the filing, and will continue to operate normally.
LSC said it has received commitments for $100 million in debtor-in-possession financing from certain of its revolving lenders, subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions. If approved by the bankruptcy court, LSC said, the new financing, combined with cash on hand and generated through its ongoing operations, “is expected to be sufficient to support the company’s operational and restructuring needs.”
Since LSC’s deal with Quad was called off last summer following objections from the Justice Department, the company has worked to streamline its business, a process that has included closing eight facilities and signing new contracts, noted Thomas Quinlan III, LSC chairman, president, and CEO. Quinlan added that a review of its operations determined that the best way forward was to pursue a restructuring of its financial structure.
Publishers were dealt an unhappy surprise last week when Quad unexpectedly closed its book printing facilities, sending publishers scrambling to find a replacement. Quad did not respond to requests for comment from PW on whether it had plans to re-open the book plants.
The closure comes at a time when the loss of printing capacity is one of the many concerns publishers are facing because of the new coronavirus outbreak. Overall, most printers are printing, although on different schedules as they adjust to state policies, staffing, and types of books.
Quad put its book printing business up for sale last fall following the collapse of its proposed merger with the country’s largest book printer, LSC Communications, after the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit. Quad has yet to respond to requests for comment from PW on whether it has found a buyer, but to date, none has been announced.
LSC, meanwhile, is continuing to operate, though it is dealing with its own financial challenges.
(5) WORLD FANTASY AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN. The World Fantasy Convention chairs still plan to hold their con in Salt Lake City from October 29-November 1.
WFC 2020 is still six months away. Every day brings new developments and, we sincerely hope, progress toward controlling and conquering the virus. We have every hope that the current crisis will be over long before 29 October. Besides our own continuing discussions and plans, we’re monitoring the efforts of other conferences and similar gatherings, and will adapt all measures that make sense to keep our membership safe. We know this is a difficult time, and everyone’s plans are in a state of flux. Be assured we have no plans to raise membership rates during this worldwide emergency.
Members of the 2018, 2019, or 2020 World Fantasy Conventions may nominate books, stories, and individuals for the 2020 World Fantasy Award between how and May 31. Voting instructions here.
(6) THE LOOK OF DUNE. Vanity Fair posted on Instagram the first photos of Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s production of Dune.
(7) FERRELL OBIT. Former OMNI editor Henry Keith Ferrell (1953-2020) died of an apparent heart attack while fixing his roof, before the storm currently sweeping up the East Coast. He is survived by his wife, Martha, and son, Alec, who made the announcement on Ferrell’s website.
…Graduating from Raleigh’s Sanderson High in 1971, he attended the Residential College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he met Martha Sparrow — a woman of equal beauty and intellect — at a Halloween party in the basement of Guilford dormitory. His face covered in wax, she overheard him mentioning the name “Lawrence Talbot” and she got the reference, having no idea what Keith looked like. On their first date, they ditched a French play to go see King Kong instead. They fell in love, moved off campus, and started their lives together. They were married on July 20, 1974, and would remain together for almost 47 years.
…Now a family man, Keith set out on his career in publishing, first at Walnut Circle Press as a print salesman, then as editor of trade magazine The Professional Upholsterer, onward to feature writer of COMPUTE! Magazine, where he was at the forefront of reporting on the burgeoning home computing industry throughout its emergence as a household staple. All the while, he raised his son and loved his wife, planted many gardens, and wrote and wrote and wrote.
From 1983 through 1987, Keith published four critically-acclaimed biographies of legendary writers for young adults through M. Evans and Company: H.G. Wells: First Citizen of the Future; Ernest Hemingway: The Search for Courage; George Orwell: The Political Pen; and John Steinbeck: The Voice of the Land. These were the first of many printed works to bear his name in the byline.
In 1990, COMPUTE! was acquired by General Media out of New York City, and Keith was recruited and ultimately served as Editor-in-Chief of OMNI Magazine, the preeminent science and technology publication of the day — a career-defining accomplishment. During his tenure at OMNI, Keith worked with (and edited) many of the heroes of his youth and forged friendships across the fields of anthropology, gaming, evolutionary studies, telecommunications, and writers of all stripes. Keith stewarded OMNI as a vehicle for the vanguard of cutting-edge technology and futurism until its final issue…
He wrote until his dying day, which turned out to be April 11, 2020, at 2:32pm. His heart gave out after fixing a hole in his roof, but finished the job before doing so….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 13, 2012 — Lockout premiered. Also known as MS One: Maximum Security, It directed by James Mather and Stephen Saint Leger, and written by Mather, Saint Leger, and Luc Besson. It was both Mather’s and Saint Leger’s feature directorial debuts. The film stars Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, and Peter Stormare. It did poorly at the box and critics were not fond of it either; it holds a 46% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. So why write up here? Because John Carpenter successfully sued the film’s makers in the French courts for the film having plagiarized both Escape from New York and Escape from L.A.., a verdict held upon appeal.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 13, 1923 — Mari Blanchard. Remembered best as B-movie femme fatale, she did a number of genre films including Abbott and Costello Go to Mars where she was Queen Allura, She Devil where she had the lead role of Kyra Zelas and Twice-Told Tales, a Vincent Price horror film where she had a not major role as Sylvia Ward. (Died 1970.)
Born April 13, 1931 — Beverley Cross. English screenwriter responsible for an amazing trio of films, to wit namely Jason And The Argonauts, Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger and Clash Of The Titans. He also wrote the screenplay for The Long Ships which is at genre adjacent. (Died 1998.)
Born April 13, 1949 — Teddy Harvia, 71. Winner of the Hugo for Fan Artist an amazing four times starting in 1991 at Chicon IV, then in 1995 at Intersection, next in 2001 at the Millennium Philcon and last at in 2002 at ConJosé. He was honored with the Rebel Award by the Southern Fandom Confederation in 1997 at that year’s DeepSouthCon
Born April 13, 1951 — Peter Davison, 69. The Fifth Doctor and one that I came to be very fond of unlike the one that followed him. And he put a lot of gravitas into the voice of Mole he did for The Wind in the Willows animated special Mole’s Christmas. For twenty years now, he has reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor in myriad Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish.
Born April 13, 1954 — Michael Cassutt, 66. Producer, screenwriter, and author. His TV resume includes notable work for the animated Dungeons & Dragons, Max Headroom, The Outer Limits, Beauty and The Beast, SeaQuest, Farscape and The Twilight Zone. He’s also written a number of genre works including the Heaven’s Shadow series that was co-written with David S. Goyer.
Born April 13, 1959 — Brian Thomsen. He was an American science fiction editor, author and anthologist. Founding editor of the Questar Science Fiction line for which he was a Nolacon II Hugo finalist in the Best Professional Editor category. I’ve read and will recommend The American Fantasy Tradition which he did, and likewise Masters of Fantasy which was co-edited with Bill Fawcett. I see he helped Julius Schwartz put together his autobiography, Man of Two Worlds. (Died 2008.)
Born April 13, 1950 — Ron Perlman, 70. Hellboy in a total of five films including three animated films (Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Hellboy: Blood and Iron and the Redcap short). Still by far the best Hellboy. He’s got a long association with the genre as his very first film was Quest for Fire in which he was Amoukar. The Ice Pirates as Zeno was followed quickly by the role of Captain Soames in Sleepwalkers and Angel De La Guardia in the Mexican horror film Cronos. Several years later, I see he’s Boltar in Prince Valiant, Johnher in Alien Resurrection and Reman Viceroy in Star Trek: Nemesis. And I should note he was in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Gnarlack, a goblin gangster if I read the Cliff notes to that correctly. No, I’m not forgetting about his most amazing role of all, Vincent in Beauty and The Beast. (Having not rewatched for fear of the Suck Fairy having come down hard on it.) At the time, I thought it was the the most awesome practical makeup I’d ever seen. And the costume just made look him even still more amazing.
Born April 13, 1960 — Michel Faber, 60. Dutch born author of three genre novels, Under the Skin, The Book of Strange New Things and D: A Tale of Two Worlds. He was a finalist for the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award for The Book of Strange New Things.
(11) THERE’S NOTHING HALFWAY ABOUT THE IOWA WAY. Shaenon K. Garrity tweeted, “The Iowa Digital Library has a collection of sci-fi fanzines from the 1930s and 1940s, and my entertainment needs through the rest of the pandemic are taken care of.” Thread starts here.
…This year, however, I’m largely happy with the Best Related Work finalists. Joanna Russ by Gwyneth Jones, The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara and The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, by Farah Mendlesohn are exactly the sort of finalists I want to see in this category. All three were also on my longlist, two of them were on my ballot.
Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood by J. Michael Straczynski was not on my ballot, but is a highly deserving finalist, since autobiographies of people of genre relevance have always been a part of Best Related Work – see also the recent nominations for Carrie Fisher’s and Zoe Quinn’s respective autobiographies….
(13) LOOKING FOR A JOB IN WASHINGTON. If Lou Antonelli doesn’t get voted in as SFWA director-at-large, he’s got a fallback position. Lou has declared himself a Libertarian candidate for Congress in Texas’ 4th District. Ballotpedia shows he’s up against a Republican incumbent.
Brianna Wu is running for Congress as a Democrat in a Boston-area district once again. It would be an interesting coincidence if they were both on the floor of the House to start the 2021 term.
A village in Indonesia has reportedly taken to using volunteers dressed as ghosts to try to scare people into social distancing over the coronavirus.
Kepuh village, on Java Island, started deploying the patrols at night last month.
In Indonesian folklore, ghostly figures known as “pocong” are said to represent the trapped souls of the dead.
Indonesia so far has about 4,500 cases and 400 confirmed virus deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
But there are fears, according to experts, that the true scale of the infection across the country is much worse.
According to Reuters news agency staff who travelled to see the pocong in action, the unusual tactic initially had the opposite effect to that intended – with people coming out to try to spot the volunteers.
But locals say matters have improved since the team began deploying unexpectedly.
“Since the pocong appeared, parents and children have not left their homes,” resident Karno Supadmo told Reuters. “And people will not gather or stay on the streets after evening prayers.”
Pubs, like other public venues, look set to stay shut for the foreseeable future. But what’s going to happen to the contents of their cellars?
Fifty million pints – give or take.
That’s the amount of beer expected to go unused in barrels if pubs remain closed into the summer because of coronavirus. Publicans are currently unable to sell their lagers, ales and ciders – save for takeaways and home deliveries.
“It’s a very sad waste of all the work and talent that goes into producing great beer,” says Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra). “People won’t get to drink it and all those resources have been used up for nothing.”
Mr Stainer estimates the UK’s 39,000 pubs have, on average, 15 barrels in their cellar at any given time. Most are kegs containing 11 gallons (88 pints) each – although many real ales come in nine-gallon (72-pint) casks. The best-before dates on pasteurised beer – including most lagers – are usually three to four months after delivery.
Those for real ales and other unpasteurised beer are usually set at six to nine weeks.
So most stock could go to waste if social distancing measures remain in place for several months.
Eighty years ago, moviegoers discovered exactly what happens when you wish upon a star when Walt Disney’s second animated feature, Pinocchio, premiered in theaters on Feb. 23, 1940. Flush with cash from the enormous success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney gambled his studio’s future on an adaptation of Italian author Corlo Collodi’s 19th century story of a walking, talking marionette who longs to be a real boy. At the time, the gamble didn’t entirely succeed: While Pinocchio received instant critical acclaim, it didn’t attract the same crowds that turned out in droves to see Snow White….
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Wong Ping’s Fables 2” on Vimeo tells the story of the cow who became rich and the rabbit who wanted to be a judge.
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Dann, Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
(1) BUTTIGIEG INTERVIEWS SIR PAT. “Recently unemployed”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg guest-hosted The Jimmy Kimmel Show. Due to public
health concerns over the coronavirus, they cancelled their studio audience. Sir
Patrick Stewart was a guest on the show.
Sir Patrick talks about Mayor Pete’s huge “Star Trek” fandom, civil disobedience, Sir Ian McKellen performing the multiple marriage ceremonies he had to his wife, and he surprises Mayor Pete with one of his original scripts from “Star Trek.”
They also did a sketch about “a Star Trek trivia game show for the
ages called ‘Who’s the Captain Now?’” hosted by LeVar Burton.
(2) HELIOSPHERE CANCELLED. Heliosphere, which was to have
been held April 3-5 in Tarrytown, NY has
been called off. The committee has not yet decides whether to try and hold
it later this year.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, HELIOsphere 2020 will not be running as scheduled for April 3-5. At this time, we don’t know whether we will be postponing or simply cancelling for this year. We will keep you posted as we work out the details with the hotel.
(3) STOKERCON STATUS. The Horror Writers Association’s annual StokerCon is scheduled
to be held in the U.K. next month. HWA President John Palisano gave
this update to Facebook readers today:
At this time, more than two-thirds of attendees are based in the U.K., you should all be aware that the political situation has been changing by the hour. Only in the last 24 hours has travel in Europe (with the exception of the U.K.) been generally banned. The U.K. may take a similar step, or the U.S. may prohibit travel to and from there. So it’s a very real possibility that in the next few days, the decision of whether to hold the Con may be taken out of our hands. We don’t want to cancel the event unnecessarily, because that could cause severe financial hardship to many of our attendees and volunteers. On the other hand, we want to be respectful of individual decisions about whether or not to travel. We ask for you to be patient for a few more days while we try to sort out various options, including streaming the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony.
Meanwhile, our Librarians Day event, scheduled for May 7th of this year in Chicago, is still a go at this point. The organizers are also carefully watching this pandemic and are working on contingencies should the issues stretch that far into the future. They will have an announcement tomorrow.
Know that heading my first StokerCon as President of the HWA carries no small weight, and that my main priority is and will remain our members’ safety and well-being as we navigate these treacherous and unmapped waters.
UP IN THE AIR. Fans inquiring about the status of Minicon 55, planned
for April 10-12 in Minneapolis, have been told there’s a committee
meeting this weekend and an announcement one way or the other may follow.
Those events include major science fiction, fantasy, and gaming conventions, as well as adjacent events like conferences. We’ve compiled a list of major and regional events that have been postponed, canceled, or which are as of now still running.
Culture connoisseurs, rejoice: The Smithsonian Institution is inviting the world to engage with its vast repository of resources like never before.
For the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has released 2.8 million high-resolution two- and three-dimensional images from across its collections onto an open access online platform for patrons to peruse and download free of charge. Featuring data and material from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives and the National Zoo, the new digital depot encourages the public to not just view its contents, but use, reuse and transform them into just about anything they choose—be it a postcard, a beer koozie or apair of bootie shorts.
And this gargantuan data dump is just the beginning. Throughout the rest of 2020, the Smithsonian will be rolling out another 200,000 or so images, with more to come as the Institution continues to digitize its collection of 155 million items and counting.
When I searched “science fiction” lots more photogenic things came
up – from lunch boxes to C3PO – but I was intrigued by this 1951 Astounding advertising
(7) SCIENCE IN THE HOUSE. That’s candidate Brianna Wu’s
Media has focused on the dangers of Coronavirus. Brianna Wu speaks with Geneticist Frank Wu about the possible treatments and vaccines being developed by the biotech industry
WHAT WOULD THE WORLD BE LIKE IF EVERYONE WERE LIKE YOU? I used to play a game and ask people what the world would be like if everyone were like you. Here are some features of my world. 1. Restaurants would be filled with constant people traffic as everyone went to wash their hands after touching the menu and after touching cash. 2. Doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, hotel TV remotes, and ATM interfaces would all be redesigned for elbows. 3. There’d be no shoes in the house and people would bow instead of shaking hands. 4. Everyone would be at home on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights happily writing, making music, reading, or playing Nintendo. 5. No one would get a cold more than once every ten years. 6. Extroverts and free-spirited folks would be miserable.
Exercise is good. You may not be able to get to the gym — I’m currently avoiding it, myself — but you will be happier and healthier if you are doing something. For me, that’s walking, because I’m lucky enough to live in a great area for it. I also have a standing desk that I got from Ikea years back. Your mileage may (literally) vary, but at least stretch when you can and be mindful of your back.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 13, 1927 — Metropolis premiered in Germany. It was directed by Fritz Lang. It was written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang. It stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. The film’s message is encapsulated in the final inter-title of “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.” In 2001 the film was placed upon UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film so distinguished. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has a 92% rating among audience members at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 13, 1911 — L. Ron Hubbard. Ok I’ll admit that I tried reading Battlefield Earth and really didn’t like it. Some of his early pulp fiction is actually quite good. So what do y’all think of him as a genre writer? (Died 1986.)
Born March 13, 1928 — Douglas Rain. Though most of his work was as a stage actor, he was the voice of the HAL 9000 for 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel. He’s in Sleeper a few years later as the voices of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers. (Died 2018.)
Born March 13, 1932 — Richard Lawrence Purtill. He’s here because EoSF list him as the author of Murdercon, a1982 novel where a murder is discovered at a SF Convention. I’ve not heard of it but was wondering if y’all had heard of this work. (Died 2016.)
Born March 13, 1938 — David McKail, 82. He was Sergeant Kyle in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. He also was Sir Henry Roscoe in Beatrix: The Early Life of Beatrix Potter, and was in the adaptation of Iain Banks’ The Crow Road which I know is neither genre or genre adjacent but it had Peter Capaldi in it.
Born March 13, 1950 — William H. Macy Jr., 70. I’ll start his Birthday note by noting that he was in the superb Pleasantville as George Parker. He’s shown up in a lot of genre works including but limited to Somewhere in Time, Evolver, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, The Night of the Headless Horseman, Jurassic Park III, Sahara and The Tale of Despereaux.
Born March 13, 1956 — Dana Delany, 63. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series, Superman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman.
Born March 13, 1966 — Alastair Reynolds, 54. As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, The Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorite novels by him. That said, Chasm City was fascinating. The only ones by him that I absolutely failed to get any enthusiasm for is his Revenger Universe series.
Born March 13, 1967 — Lou Anders, 53. Hugo-winning Editor. He’s has been editorial director of Prometheus Books’ SF imprint Pyr since its launch fifteen years ago. He’s a crack editor of anthologies. I’ve very fond of his Live Without a Net, Sideways in Time and FutureShocks anthologies. I note that he has a fantasy trilogy, Thrones and Bones, but I’ve not heard of it til now.
Born March 13, 1968 — Jen Gunnels, 52. Writer and genre theater critic, the latter a rare thing indeed. She does her reviews for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction and New York Review of Science Fiction. With Erin Underwood, she has edited Geek Theater: Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy Plays.
(12) KGB TO STREAM. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading
series with Daniel Braum and Robert Levy has been converted to a livestream.
Hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel invite everyone to see it here on
YouTube on March 18 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
We will, for the first time in our history, be live-streaming readings from both of our authors on YouTube. We hope you will join us for this historic event.
UPDATE March 13, 2020: For the safety and well-being of our readers and guests, we have decided to cancel this month’s in-person Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading with guests Daniel Braum & Robert Levy.
Instead, we will be hosting a YouTube Live event with both authors, who will be reading their work. Anyone with YouTube access can watch.
… Of course, there’ve been calls for CBS to move ahead with such a spinoff for the past couple of years. EP Alex Kurtzman has addressed the possibility in the past, refusing to rule it out and commenting that they’re trying to find ways to bring these characters back. True, they did all appear in a few episodes of the Short Treks anthology series, but this didn’t fully satiate our appetite to see more of Pike and his crew.
As Discovery itself addressed, Pike is fated to meet a tragic end. As detailed in an episode of TOS, he’s eventually left paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair after rescuing Starfleet cadets from a delta ray radiation leak. Our intel says that this spinoff show will build up to that fate, properly filling the gap between TOS‘ pilot, “The Cage,” and his return in “The Menagerie.”
The big news, previously rumored, is that Amazing and its stablemate Fantastic are to change hands. The April Science Fiction Times just arrived, with the big headline “ ‘AMAZING STORIES’ AND ‘FANTASTIC’ SOLD TO SOL COHEN.” Cohen is the publisher of Galaxy, If, and Worlds of Tomorrow, but will resign at the end of next month to take up his new occupation.
Why is this happening? Probably because circulation, which had been increasing, started to decline again in 1962 (when I started reviewing it!). The SF Times article adds, tendentiously and questionably, that “the magazine showed what appeared to be a lack of interest by its editors.” Read their further comment and draw your own conclusions on that point.
At least when their authors avoid offering a thesis, novels acquire peculiar value in deranged times. They allow us to see cracks in our political and social foundations from another perspective, and as a result, open paths to conversation and thought that might otherwise remain closed. Lots of genres can unsettle us, but one peculiarity of science fiction is that its authors have the freedom to create worlds.
At the genre’s most stereotypical, this license to invent lends itself to both ham-fisted allegories and didacticism. But if the author happens to be coming from the “right” direction, so to speak, and has some real talent, it’s relatively easy to take an imaginative leap into their world. Reaching beyond one’s own tribe may present a challenge, however. It is difficult to read David Drake, Iain Banks, China Miéville, Robert Heinlein, or John Varley without observing how they view human nature, what they think family means, or the political order they endorse—and a lot more besides.
Critics often complain that such novels fail precisely because they think the author is stacking the deck in favor of their pet ideas. It’s easy for partisans to forgive this because such novels entertain while also fortifying our opinions against a hostile world. And it’s not surprising that sci-fi readership so often divides along partisan lines.
The Work of Sympathy
It is harder to name many great works of science fiction that offer a definitive point of view, while also presenting us with unresolvable tensions and latent anxieties that no attentive reader can quite escape. Neal Stephenson’s best work probably qualifies. Arguably Frank Herbert’s Dune or Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos also do this. We need the sympathy and broadening of horizons that such novels can cultivate more than ever, and for the present moment, the most compelling book of this kind remains Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.
Disney has promised to continue making films and TV shows with “an increased commitment” to diversity in its output, according to its boss Bob Chapek.
“We want to represent our audience,” he said at a meeting for the company’s shareholders this week.
“We want to tell stories that our audience wants to hear, that reflects their lives.”
He was responding to a question about LGBT characters in their films and pride events at theme parks.
There will be a transgender character in a future Marvel film, and upcoming superhero movie The Eternals will introduce Marvel’s first openly gay lead character to cinema screens.
…At the shareholder’s meeting, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was asked a question by Catholic campaigner Caroline Farrow, who represents conservative group Citizen Go.
As part of her question, she asked: “Is it perhaps time to reconsider what you can do to make Disney more family friendly, to make it safe for people around the world, not just one particular minority?”
She also claimed a petition which asks Disney not to hold gay pride events in its parks was signed by “almost 700,000 people”
Researcher Annabel Dorrestein set up a thermal imaging camera to study flying foxes, or bats, at night on Australia’s Christmas Island.
But when she returned one morning to collect the camera, she discovered it had been stolen – almost certainly by the island’s famous robber crabs.
[Thanks to Dann, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Andrew Liptak, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
(1) BUSIEK TALKS ABOUT NEW SERIES, THE MARVELS. “Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.”
That’s how acclaimed writer Kurt Busiek describes his new ongoing series, The
Marvels. Busiek said in an interview with Marvel.com
The whole idea of The Marvels is to be able to use the whole Marvel Universe — not just all the characters in it, but all the history of it. The sweeping scope of the whole thing. Big stuff can happen in the Marvel Universe, but we usually see it confined largely to the Avengers in Avengers, to the FF in Fantastic Four, and so on. The Marvels is intended as a freewheeling book that can go anywhere, do anything, use anyone. It’s a smorgasbord of Marvel heroes and history. It’s not a team. It’s a concept, or a universe, depending on how you look at it. The Marvels features the marvels — all the many and varied characters of the Marvel Universe. The heroes, the villains, the oddities — all of it. There’ll be popular characters of today, there’ll be obscure characters from long ago — heck, there’ll be story threads that take place in the past, or possibly the future. We’re not limited to just the present. And there’ll be new characters, too, from the street-level to the cosmic. There are three new marvels in the first issue, although a couple of them are only seen for a panel or so. But we’ll get back to them. I’d say “’the sky’s the limit,’ except in the Marvel Universe, there’s a lot going on beyond that sky. And it’s all open to us.
See the full interview and get a first look at the debut issue at the link The first issue hits the stand in May.
THE MARVELS #1. Written by KURT BUSIEK . Art by YILDIRAY CINAR. Cover by ALEX ROSS.
The rest of the Top Five are: 2- IS A TIE!!! “The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power” by Karen Osborne! “A Mindreader’s Guide to Surviving Your First Year at the All-Girls Superhero Academy” by Jenn Reese! 3- “A Catalog of Storms” by Fran Wilde! 4- “How the Trick Is Done” by A.C. Wise! 5- “This Is Not My Adventure” by Karlo Yeager Rodríguez!
“I cannot think of a reason not to share this with the public,” Brianna Wu tweeted.
“Two of my non-campaign Google accounts were compromised by someone in Russia,” she said.
Wu isn’t just any other target. As a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Massachusetts’ 8th District, she has a larger target on her back for hackers than the average constituent. And as a former software engineer, she knows all too well the cybersecurity risks that come along with running for political office.
But the breach of two of her non-campaign Google accounts was still a wake-up call.
Wu said she recently discovered that the two accounts had been breached. One of the accounts was connected to her Nest camera system at home, and the other was her Gmail account she used during the Gamergate controversy, during which Wu was a frequent target of vitriol and death threats. TechCrunch agreed to keep the details of the breach off the record as to not give any potential attackers an advantage. Attribution in cyberattacks, however, can be notoriously difficult because hackers can mask their tracks using proxies and other anonymity tools.
“I don’t believe anyone in Russia is targeting me specifically. I think it’s more likely they target everyone running for office,” she tweeted….
(4) RETRO DRAMA. Mark Leeper is writing a three-part overview
of all (he hopes) feature-length dramatic presentations eligible for the Retro
Hugo. The installments will be available in the February 7, February 14, and
February 21 issues of MT VOID. The first is here if you
want to check it out.
The full article will be published on Mark’s web page (http://leepers.us)
after the last one runs.
And the Leepers are asking for help to find a copy of Ghost
Catchers (a.k.a. High Spirits) even if it’s not one of the main
Guests visiting Disney California Adventure park prior to the opening of the Avengers Campus this summer can still encounter Spider-Man daily in Hollywood Land between his visits to Avengers Campus. As previously announced, Spider-Man can be seen in his exclusive, new suit designed by Ryan Meinerding, Head of Visual Development at Marvel Studios.
When Avengers Campus opens this summer, guests will be recruited to become the next generation of Super Heroes. The campus will be home to a variety of new experiences giving guests the chance to feel the power, adventure and exhilaration of teaming up with some of their favorite Super Heroes including:
The Worldwide Engineering Brigade – also known as “WEB” – which will house the new Spider-Man attraction where guests can sling webs alongside Spider-Man himself.
Pym Test Kitchen, an all-new eatery, where Pym Technologies Researchers are using Ant-Man and the Wasp’s growing and shrinking technology to create super-sized and super small foods.
Heroic encounters throughout the campus where guests can team up with some of their favorite Super Heroes including Spider-Man, Black Widow, Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther and the Dora Milaje, Thor and Loki, Iron Man and for the first time, Ant-Man and The Wasp.
Avengers Headquarters where guests may witness Earth’s Mightiest Heroes springing into action at a moment’s notice all over the building.
(6) DAYS BEFORE OUR LIVES. Screenwriting award at Sundance
goes to genre film Nine Days.
Keep an eye out for this one. Here’s the plot
description from IMDb:
A reclusive man conducts a series of interviews with human souls for a chance to be born.
One of actor Mandy Patinkin’s most popular roles was the 1987 fantasy, “The Princess Bride,” in which he played a man bent on revenge (“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”). In this web exclusive he talked with correspondent Holly Williams about the legacy of his character.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 10, 1957 — Attack of the Crab Monsters premiered. It was produced and directed by Roger Corman, and it starred Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan, and Russell Johnson, the latter much better know for his Gillgan’s Island role. It was written by Charles B. Griffith who would later write The Little Shop of Horrors. It was profitable, the best showing by a Corman film to that date, earned the respect of critics for the way it was produced and scripted but currently has a lousy 30% rating among the 1.625 reviewers who gave an opinion at Rotten Tomatoes. Should you be inclined, you can watch it here.
February 10, 1957 — Not Of This Earth premiered. It shared a double bill with Attack of the Crab Monsters. It like the other film was produced and directed by Roger Corman, It stars Paul Birch, Beverly Garland, Morgan Jones, William Roerick, and Anna Lee Carroll. The film was written by Charles B. Griffith and Mark Hanna. Critics liked even better than its Attack of the Crab Monsters with one saying that it was “Corman’s most enjoyable science fiction film”. Notes for this film note that the double bill made back four times what it cost to produce both films in the first week. So how does it currently rate at Rotten Tomatoes? Even worse than Attack of the Crab Monsters as it garners a pitiful 21% rating there from the roughly 400 reviewers. Like Attack of the Crab Monsters, it’s only roughly only an hour long and you can watch it here.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 10, 1906 — Lon Chaney Jr. I certainly best remember him playing Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man but he has a lot of other roles as well: The Ghost of Frankenstein as The Monster (look, correct billing!), The Mummy’s Tomb as The Mummy Kharis or Son of Dracula as Count Dracula, he played all the great monsters, often multiple times. (Died 1973.)
Born February 10, 1910 — Douglas Spencer. His most memorable role As an actor was as The Monitor on This Island Earth. As far I can call tell, he only had two other genre roles, one as the First Martian in the “Mr. Dingle, the Strong” episode of Twilight Zone, two other as Ned Scott on The Thing from Another World, a Fifties horror film. (Died 1960.)
Born February 10, 1926 — Hazel Court. She did The Devil Girl from Mars which has been noted previously in File 770, The Curse of Frankenstein, a Hammer Film, and Doctor Blood’s Coffin. She did five different roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and had one-offs on The Invisible Man, Danger Man, (at genre adjacent, isn’t it?), Thriller, Twilight Zone and Mission: Impossible. Her final role, uncredited, was in Omen III: The Final Conflict. (Died 2008.)
Born February 10, 1930 — Robert Wagner, 90. He played the lead in the early Fifties Prince Valiant based off the Hal Foster strip. Next up is being George Lytton in The Pink Panther followed by the same in Curse of the Pink Panther. He’s Number Two in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and the same in Austin Powers in Goldmember. He shows up as President James Garfield in Netherbeast Incorporated, a film that rated better at Rotten Tomatoes than I expected. His latest role is as Charles Benning in What Happened to Monday.
Born February 10, 1958 — Rupert Vansittart, 62. He was portrayed General Asquith in the two Ninth Doctor stories, “Aliens of London” and “World War Three”. He was Wyatt in The Saint: The Brazilian Connection, and Brian Babbacombe on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Lastly, he had he recurring role on Game of Thrones as Yohn Royce.
Born February 10, 1970 — Robert Shearman, 50. He wrote the episode of Who called “Dalek” which was nominated for the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in 2006 at L.A. Con IV. (There were three Who entries that year and “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” won.) His first book, a collection of short stories called Tiny Deaths was a World Fantasy Award winner. He’s written a lot of short fiction since then, collected helpfully into two collections, displayed. Remember Why You Fear Me: The Best Dark Fiction of Robert Shearman and They Do the Same Things Different There: The Best Weird Fantasy of Robert Shearman.
Born February 10, 1976 — Keeley Hawes 44. Ms Delphox/Madame Karabraxos In the most excellent Twelfth Doctor story “Time Heist”. It wasn’t her first genre role as that would’ve been Tamara in that awful Avengers film. She also played Zoe Reynolds which is at least genre adjacent given where the story went.
Born February 10, 1988 — Jade and Nakita Ramsey, 32. Their longest running role was on The House of Anubis series with Jade as Patricia Williamson who in it for the entire run of one hundred and forty five episodes with Nakita showing up for just six episodes. They’d later both be on A Haunting at Silver Falls: The Return playing Heather and Holly Dahl. They play twins frequently, even appearing once in a film with Cassandra Peterson, All About Evil.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Have a lot of books? Frazz has a question about that.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) opened over the weekend to $33 million, marking the lowest opening for any film set in the DC Extended Universe and the lowest start for any DC film since Jonah Hex in 2010. According to Exhibitor Relations box office analyst Jeff Bock, the R-rated Birds of Prey is a “niche comic book movie” whose failings began with its title: not naming the Cathy Yan-directed film Harley Quinn after its starring character (portrayed by returning Suicide Squad star Margot Robbie) was a “huge misfire” for Warner Bros., who months earlier scored a billion-plus box office with the R-rated Joker.
(12) VALUABLE WILD CARD. Joker has gained
acclaim, but also an equal amount of skepticism. YouTuber CinemaWins
looks into the aspects of the film done well in his easily digestible format. (Spoilers)
Joker! Another one of those movies where everyone agrees and I can’t even imagine a single person getting upset! Here’s everything right with Joker!
(13) NO LONGER ON THE FORCE. Maltin on Movies interviews
Actor, musician, director, renaissance man: Peter Weller is all of these, but he’s best remembered as the star of RoboCop. He’s also a fascinating conversationalist, as Leonard and Jessie were delighted to learn, with stories about such luminaries as Mike Nichols and Otto Preminger.
(14) TRAILER TIME. The full trailer for Minions: The Rise of Gru dropped.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Another cheap umbella.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, N., John King Tarpinian,
JJ, Evelyn Leeper, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Mlex, Michael Toman, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
…This sorry mess started in January, as Mignogna’s most recent film, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, soared to box office records. Its release also set off another round of allegations on social media about the 57-year-old actor’s aggressive kisses, hugs and unwanted sexual advances.
Mignogna repeatedly has denied all allegations of inappropriate actions, although he acknowledged in a June 26 deposition that people have commented negatively for years about his behavior.
As a columnist who writes regularly about these issues, I became interested in this case because of the voice actor’s decision to go on the offensive — digging in and fighting back against what he and his devoted fans have labeled lies, exaggerations and ploys for attention.
… The voice actor’s legal fight is apparently backed by a GoFundMe war chest, which has reached almost $250,000 since Minnesota lawyer Nick Rekieta opened it in February.
But even that large a sum may not cover all the plaintiff’s costs. Next up for the court is to sort out attorney’s fees — which could total up to half a million dollars given the multiple defendants and their legal representation — and mandatory sanctions.
Mignogna has provided the English-language voice for hundreds of animated shows, films and games created in Japan. He’s long been among the most popular actors at conventions across the nation that allow fans of the genre to meet their heroes.
His lawsuit named Funimation, voice actors Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial, and Rial’s fiancé, Ron Toye. The lawsuit painted the company and three individuals as a band of conspirators leading the charge to ruin Mignogna’s career. In response, those accused have maintained that the legal action is aimed at unjustly silencing them
Marchi, Rial and Toye were among the scores of anime talent and fans who, beginning early this year, tweeted critically about the actor’s behavior. Rial alleged that Mignogna grabbed her in a hotel room and forcibly kissed her without her consent at an anime convention in 2007. Marchi accused him of violently pulling her hair in a tense office encounter….
…the defendants challenged the suit under Texas’s Anti-SLAPP law (the TCPA), and a hearing was held on the matter about a month ago.
At that hearing, Judge John Chupp dismissed the case against Jamie Marchi entirely, along with most claims against the other defendants. A week and a half after that, Judge Chupp ordered both parties to attempt mediation to attempt to settle any remaining issues.
As that settlement resulted in an impasse, Judge Chupp has now issued his ruling on the TCPA motions. In it he has dismissed all remaining claims against the defendants under the TCPA. You can read the full dismissal here.
(2) “FORCEFUL” COOKWARE. How can we live without the ”Han
Solo in Carbonite Signature Roaster”?
What is your favorite winner of the Hugo award for best novel? Why?
Participants include Charlie Jane
Anders, Casey Blair, Cheryl Morgan, Elizabeth Bear, Michael J. Martinez, Beth
Cato, Marguerite Kenner, Sara Megibow, and Jaime Lee Moyer.
Marguerite Kenner picked this book —
My favorite best novel Hugo winner is from 1982 — ‘Downbelow Station‘ by C. J. Cherryh. I still own my first copy of it, a dog-eared, well-loved paperback. Captain Signy Mallory was the first ‘unlikable woman’ protagonist I remember resonating with, and I think I still know all the words to the filk song…
…In the first place, why do we need to know the origin of the Joker? For all his iterations through film, television and comics, what bearing does who he is and where he came from matter in the slightest? He is a villain for the sake of being a villain, which is a luxury most people writing fiction aren’t allowed, despite it being allowed in real life 2019. It works for the Joker precisely because he is The Joker – insane, given to sadistic whimsy, crafting ornate plans while simultaneously not having one at all. He works because he doesn’t have an origin. His adversary, Better Elon Musk, is all backstory. Rooted in his childhood trauma, he puts on a mask to keep it all out. Joker is what he is, unapologetically, always in pursuit of his mercurial goals, but doing what it takes to achieve them – Bats will give up his to protect a life, never willing to make the sacrifices truly needed.
In short, Joker works narratively because he is the perfect antagonist for Batman…
The figure is above the $10 million in previews that was earned a year ago by “Venom,” which posted an $80 million opening weekend — both records for October. It’s the biggest preview number since “The Lion King” pulled in $23 million in July and portends a potential record opening. “Joker” has been forecast for a similarly massive debut in the $80 million to $95 million range from 4,374 North American theaters for Warner Bros.
[…] “Joker” premiered on Aug. 31 at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion, the festival’s highest prize. The pic polarized critics — while Phoenix’s performance has been lauded, the comic-book adaptation’s dark tone and handling of violence have generated a divisive response. “Joker” currently has a 69% score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
In the comics and cartoons — and on film, as played by Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and (checks notes) Jared Leto — the Joker, Batman’s archenemy, is an agent of chaos.
…One of the many things Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight got right about the character is that we only think we want to know who he is and where he came from. The Joker works best, most purely, when unencumbered by the humdrum of the everyday. His motivations must and should remain mysterious, unknowable.
Director Todd Phillips’ new film seeks to strip all mystery from the character and make his motivations very knowable. And in that much at least, he succeeds.
…Certainly, Joker is tense, grimy and claustrophobic, and Phoenix’s performance is a big swing, and a risky one — the kind of big, risky swing that Oscar voters historically eat up with a big ol’ spoon.
But the film so desperately strives to reject comic book trappings — so aches to be seen as edgy, provocative, serious, adult — that it simply apes the tone, style and content of other, better, edgier and more provocative films like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy and Fight Club.
(8) MELODIOUS REFERENCES. Fanac.org has posted
video of filksinger Julia Ecklar’s 1989 concert at Tropicon.
Julia Ecklar was the special filk guest at Tropicon 8, held in Dania, Florida, in 1989. This recording captures her concert at the convention, and includes 10 songs (of which Julia wrote four). The last song is beautifully signed by Linda Melnick. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Julia was a sought-after filk performer at science-fiction conventions worldwide. As a published author, her skill with words is very evident in the songs she writes. Filk songs are often strong on narrative, and you’ll notice that a number of these are about science fiction novels that were popular at the time. If you’ve read the books, the impact of the songs is increased, but they are enjoyable even if you haven’t. Can you identify the novels? Because Tropicon didn’t officially sponsor filk guests, the local community raised money to bring in one filk guest for each Tropicon. Concerts like this were held as a benefit for those who had donated.
(9) CARROLL OBIT. Famed TV actress Diahann Carroll died October 4
at the age of 84. The two genre roles in her resume were The Man in the Moon, a
musical fantasy from 1960 which features Andy Williams as an actual Man in
the Moon who visits Earth and meets up with an array of human talent, including
Carroll as a singer, and The Star Wars Holiday Special where she played Mermeia
Zaslove began his career in 1942 as an “office boy” at Leon Schlesinger’s Studios, and then went on to work on many UPA shorts and series, including Gerald McBoing-Boing and Mr. Magoo. During the 1960s and ‘70s, he worked as an animator on TV and feature projects such as Popeye the Sailor, Fractured Fairy Tales, Roger Ramjet, The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, The Gumby Show, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Chipmunk Christmas, Tom Thumb, The Night Before Christmas and Stanley the Ugly Duckling.
…He was nominated for Emmys for his work on DuckTales, Smurfs, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck and the Aladdin TV series.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 4, 1972 — Night of the Lepus starring Janet Leigh appeared on movie screens. This horror film is based upon the science fiction novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit by Russell Braddon. It scores 27% at Rotten Tomatoes.
October 4, 1985 — The Misfits Of Science series debuted. starring Dean Paul Martin and Courteney Cox, it would last just sixteen episodes before be canceled due to low ratings.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 4, 1860 — Sidney Edward Paget. British illustrator of the Victorian era, he’s definitely known for his illustrations that accompanied Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories in The Strand. He also illustrated Arthur Morrison’s Martin Hewitt, Investigator, a series of short stories featuring the protagonist, Martin Hewitt, and written down by his good friend, the journalist Brett. These came out after Holmes was killed off, like many similar series. (Died 1908.)
Born October 4, 1904 — Earl Binder. Under the pen name of Eando Binder, he and his brother Otto published SF stories. One series was about a robot named Adam Link. The first such story, published in 1939, is titled “I, Robot”. A collection by Asimov called I, Robot would be published in 1950. The name was selected by the publisher, despite Asimov’s wishes. As Eando Binder, they wrote three SF novels — Enslaved Brains, Dawn to Dusk and Lords of Creation. There’s lots of Eando Binder available on iBooks and Kindle. (Died 1966.)
Born October 4, 1923 — Charlton Heston. Without doubt, best known for playing astronaut George Taylor in the Planet of the Apes. He retuned to the role Beneath the Planet of the Apes. He’s also Neville in The Omega Man. By the way, once at the LA Music Center he played Sherlock Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood, opposite Richard Johnson as Dr. Watson. His IMDB credits show him as being on SeaQuest DSV in the “Abalon” episode. (Died 2008.)
Born October 4, 1928 — Alvin Toffler. Author of Future Shock and a number of other works that almost no one will recall now. John Brunner named a most excellent novel, The Shockwave Rider, after the premise of Future Shock. (Died 2016.)
Born October 4, 1929 — Scotty Beckett. He costarred on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger which ran for thirty- four episodes from February to November 1954, lasting only two seasons. Because it was recorded on film rather than being broadcast live, it has survived. You can the first episode of the series here.
Born October 4, 1932 — Ann Thwaite, 87. Author of AA Milne: His Life which won the Whitbread Biography of the Year, as well as The Brilliant Career of Winnie-the Pooh, a scrapbook offshoot of the Milne biography. (And yes, Pooh is genre.) In 2017 she updated her 1990 biography of A.A Milne to coincide with Goodbye Christopher Robin for which she was a consultant.
Born October 4, 1941 — Anne Rice, 78. She‘s best known for The Vampire Chronicles. Confession time: I’ve not read them. So how are they? Same goes for Lives of the Mayfair Witches series which I’ve been told is excellent. It’s just that she’s too damn popular and I really don’t do popular all that well.
Born October 4, 1946 — Susan Sarandon, 73. She make Birthday Honors just for being Janet Weiss in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but she’s also been in Enchanted as Queen Narissa, The Witches of Eastwick as Jane Spofford, The Lovely Bones as Grandma Lynn and The Hunger as Sarah Roberts. An impressive genre list indeed!
Born October 4, 1956 — Christoph Waltz, 63. He portrayed James Bond’s nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Spectre , he is set to reprise the role in No Time to Die. Genre wise, he also portrayed Qohen Leth in The Zero Theorem,Benjamin Chudnofsky in The Green Hornet (I lasted ten minutes before giving up), Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, himself in Muppets Most Wanted, Léon Rom in The Legend of Tarzan and Dr. Dyson Ido in Alita: Battle Angel.
Born October 4, 1975 — Saladin Ahmed, 44. Hi Throne of the Crescent Moon was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and did win the Locus Award for Best First Novel. He has also written in Kamala Khan (The Magnificent Ms. Marvel), Black Bolt, Exiles and the Miles Morales (Spider-Man) series, all on Marvel Comics. Oddly only his Marvel is available on iBooks and Kindle.
I thought I’d post the individual questions+answers here in the blog first–which gives a chance to get more feedback–and then migrate them to their own page once the series is finished. If you have a general-interest question about the series that you think might not occur to me, let me know in the comments! Or if you want more details or further explanation on a topic.
… This treasure trove of secrets, presented in a generously illustrated hardbound volume, is like a gateway into science fiction’s inner sanctum. Though it may seem squarely aimed at science fiction fans, the fact that SF so pervades our culture makes it an attractive coffee table book for anyone. Everyone will find something to relate to here, whether it’s reading about a favorite author, like Philip K. Dick or Angela Carter; or about the rock band The Who and their never-fully-materialized concept album follow-up to Tommy called Lifehouse, set in a near future where reality is experienced through a worldwide network called The Grid. The topics are simply too attractive for even the casual science fiction fan to ignore…
To celebrate the lead-up to Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, today we’re all about exploring the next major novel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe: Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, written by Hugo and Nebula-winner Rebecca Roanhorse.
Set in-between the shocking climax of The Last Jedi—which saw the Resistance against Kylo Ren and the ruthless First Order nearly collapse, costing the life of an iconic character—and the opening scenes of the new film, Resistance Reborn serves as “Episode 8.5” (VIII.V?) of the saga, introducing crucial new characters and setting the stage for the a climactic clash more than four decades in the making.
Lucy in the Sky is an ideal vehicle for Natalie Portman, cast as an astronaut who finds outer space thrilling and life back on earth somewhat less so. Affecting a Southern accent and sporting a short haircut, she creates a character who is thoroughly relatable, at first. We understand her exhilaration during a spacewalk and her dissatisfaction at home, despite the fact that she has a loving husband (Dan Stevens), a salty grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) and congenial colleagues. As it unfolds, however, the story takes this character to extremes.
…Seanan McGuire uses the Mira Grant pen name to write stories with a somewhat darker tone, but Spindrift House shares one major commonality with some of her best work as McGuire. As in the Wayward Children series, the theme of “found family” plays a major role here. Harlowe and her friends understand each other’s quirks, help each other through difficulties both major and minor, and generally act as siblings to each other.
Martin Scorsese, one of cinema’s most venerated current directors, has decried superhero movies – the dominant force in today’s industry. The director of films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas told Empire magazine that his attempts to get up to speed with contemporary superhero films had failed.
“I tried, you know?” the director said when asked if he had seen Marvel’s movies. “But that’s not cinema.”
In the name of the moon, I will protect you… from unwanted pregnancy and STDs! Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has partnered with Naoko Takeuchi to distribute free Sailor Moon condoms! These condoms, which come in cute heart-shaped wrappers, will be distributed for free at STD/STI prevention events throughout October. The first takes place tomorrow, October 5 in Fukuoka, with another taking place in Hiroshima, on Monday, October 14 in Hiroshima.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Todd Mason, Olav
Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, Eric Franklin, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge,
Daniel Dern, StephenfromOttawa, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.
Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joel Zakem.]
The lawsuit filed in Texas on Wednesday names Wu, as well as Cenk Uygur, of the news outlet the Young Turks, and Mark Follman, of the magazine Mother Jones. It seeks damages and a “jury trail [sic].”
(2) SPACE DRAMA. For All Mankind premieres November 1 on the Apple TV app for those with an Apple TV+ subscription. The series will dramatize an alternate history depicting “what would have happened if the global space race had never ended” after the USSR succeeds in the first manned Moon landing. It’s created by Emmy Award winner Ronald D. Moore (Outlander, Battlestar Galactica), Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi.
Told through the lives of NASA astronauts, engineers and their families, For All Mankind presents an aspirational world where NASA and the space program remained a priority and a focal point of our hopes and dreams.
(3) RESTORE THE LEGEND! Chris Garcia has given
himself a task – to make Jack C. Haldeman II (or as everyone else called him,
Jay) famous again! The legendary writer and SMoF, Jay was also the master of
the SpecFi Sports story! This plan all starts with a simple plan – an issue of The
We’re looking for stories about Jay, personal reminiscences, appreciation of his writings, anything! We’d love stories particularly about folks who knew him from the 1970s and 80s, and especially anything about the Discon II! If you’ve got any photos of Jay, that’d be great, too!
(4) GAHAN WILSON APPEAL. Paul Winters, organizer of the “Help
Gahan Wilson find his way” GoFundMe, is calling for more donations
after Wilson had a medical emergency.
We have a crisis.
Gahan had surgery over the weekend and he was discharged from the hospital yesterday. It turns out that the hospital and the memory care facility didn’t have the best communication going, because today we were told that the memory care unit could not care for Gahan because of the severity of the surgery. The hospital won’t take him back and he can’t go to a rehabilitation facility.
We were informed that for him to stay in the memory care facility, we would need to get him a 24 hour care person to stay with him for the next thirty days until the doctors can assess his condition.
All through this gofundme I have been careful not to take in too much money. A few months ago, I suspended donations because it looked like we would have enough. Today, that all changed. Please, if you can spare any more, we could use it to pay this unexpected expense.
The circumstances of this whole hospital event have been surreal. I will spare everyone the details of the surgery, but we did it because the doctor said he would die without it. None of the medical experts warned or prepared us for the change that would make in his care level after the surgery.
I know that even with Alzheimer’s Gahan wants to live. Whenever we are with him, he speaks of how lucky we all are to be alive and the last cartoon he drew was of a guy holding a sign that read “Glad to remain alive!” I know he was drawing himself. We will keep trying to give him the best quality of life until the end.
This rulebook contains everything a group of buckaroos will need, including four playable types (bigfoot, dinosaur, human, and unicorn), five trots (bad boy, charmer, sneak, true buckaroo, and wizard), several unique ways, as well as hundreds of cool moves that are specially crafted for each unique play style.
Within these 270+ pages you will also find various magical items and a menagerie of monsters, ranging from pesky Void crabs to this villainous Ted Cobbler himself.
The only question left is: what are you waiting for?
(6) WISDOM SEEKER. Likewise, UrsulaV knew who could help her navigate the recent fannish storm.
Tingle even promised to get into the topic on his “My Friend Chuck” podcast — but I must be in the wrong timeline, it hasn’t dropped yet.
September 26, 1937 — The Shadowradio serial premiered with the first episode being titled “The Death House Rescue”. The introduction to the program, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” was spoken by actor Frank Readick.
September 26, 1987 — Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Encounter at Farpoint” opening episode premiered in television syndication. The series would run for seven years, the longest Trek series to date.
September 26, 2001 — Star Trek: Enterprise debuted. It was called simply Enterprise for the first two seasons. “Broken Bow” was the name of the first episode. Captain Archer was played by Scott Bakula, star of Quantum Leap. It ran for four seasons before being cancelled.
September 26, 2007 — The Bionic Woman first aired. This is NBC’s retooling of the 1970’s SciFi channel series Bionic Woman which starred Lindsay Wagner, and now starring Michelle Ryan. It lasted exactly eight episodes.
September 26, 2014 — Star Wars: Rebels first aired. It was produced by Lucasfilm Animation and set in the Star Wars universe five years before A New Hope. It lasted four seasons.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 26, 1866 — Winsor McCay. Cartoonist and animator who’s best remembered for the Little Nemo strip which ran between The Wars and the animated Gertie the Dinosaur film which is the key frame animation cartoon which you can see here. He used the pen name Silas on his Dream of the Rarebit Fiend strip. That strip had no recurring characters or theme, just that a character has a nightmare or other bizarre dream after eating Welsh rarebit. What an odd concept. (Died 1934.)
Born September 26, 1877 — Edmund Gwenn. Dr. Harold Medford in the classic Big Insect film Them. He showed in the Fifties show Science Fiction Theatre twice, once as Dr. Pliny in “A Visit from Dr. Pliny” and another time as Dr. Lorenz in “The Strange Doctor Lorenz”. (We’re not mentioning his famous role as Santa Claus: since we all still believe, that must be classified as merely a courtroom drama.) (Died 1959.)
Born September 26, 1927 — Charles Macaulay. He appear twice in Trek, once in “The Return of the Archons” as Landru, and in the “Wolf in the Fold” as Prefect Jaris. He was Captain Townsend in “God Save The Queen” in The Tales of The Golden Monkey, and in the Wonder Woman series, he was Ambassador McCauley in “Formula 407”. (Died 1999.)
Born September 26, 1941 — Martine Beswick, 78. Though she auditioned for Dr. No, she was instead cast in From Russia with Love as Zora. She also appeared as Paula Caplan in Thunderball. She would appear in One Million Years B.C. opposite Raquel Welch. She made several Hammer Studio films including Prehistoric Women and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde.
Born September 26, 1948 — Olivia Newton-John, 71. She was Kira in Xanadu which is considered responsible for the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards. In 2017, she appeared in Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. A coincidence? I think not. It got a 30% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Born September 26, 1956 — Linda Hamilton, 63. Best known for being Sarah Connor in The Terminator film franchise and Catherine Chandler in the Beauty and the Beast series. She also played Vicky Baxter in Children of the Corn, and Doctor Amy Franklin in King Kong Lives. She would be Acacia, a Valkyrie in “Delinquents” of the Lost Girl series, a role she would reprise in two more episodes, “End of a Line” and “Sweet Valkyrie High”.
Born September 26, 1957 — Tanya Huff, 62. Her Confederation of Valor Universe series is highly recommended by me. And I also give a strong recommendation to her Gale Family series. I’ve not read her other series, so I’ll ask y’all what you’d recommend.
Born September 26, 1968 — Jim Caviezel, 51. John Reese on Person of Interest which CBS describes as a “crime drama”. Huh. He was also Detective John Sullivan in Frequency, and Kainan in Outlander. And yes he played Number Six in the unfortunate reboot of The Prisoner.
Born September 26, 1985 — Talulah Riley, 34. Miss Evangelista in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, two Tenth Doctor stories. She also portrays Angela in Westworld, and she shows up in Thor: The Dark World as an Asgardian nurse.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Crankshaft obviously has seen authors hawking their books in the dealer’s room.
Free Range gets a laugh from an unexpected link between the Olympics and UFOs.
As with any decent superhero origin, the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum here began in ambition and humility, overreach and wonder: Allen Stewart loved superheroes and comic books and spent every dime from his paper routes on superhero comics and toys and refused to throw anything away. His fever never abated, not as a teenager, not after he entered the military, not after he started a family, and so, when he became an adult and made some money in local real estate, he decided to splurge: He decided he would build the Justice League’s Hall of Justice in his backyard.
This was a dozen years ago.
…Still, the Hall of Heroes and its unlikely Hall of Justice were becoming a draw in Elkhart County. Within a few years of opening, he had 10,000 annual paying visitors, and the collection — which he now calls the largest superhero memorabilia collection in the world, and believes is worth about $5 million — exploded to include: a nine-foot tall Hulk statue, a Captain America shield used in the 2011 movie, rare Superman toys, original artwork and the debut comics of nearly every major superhero. His Hall went from something like a child’s bedroom shrine to superheroes to something like a museum.
…Another visitor who received a warm welcome in Germany was American Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when he visited Berlin earlier this month. The official reason for the visit was a memorial service for John F. Kennedy, but Dr. King also used the opportunity to visit the Berlin Wall, where only hours before a young man had been shot during an attempt to flee East Berlin and only survived due to the heroic actions of an US Army sergeant who pulled him to safety, a sad reminder that about fifty people have already been killed trying to surmount the Berlin Wall….
(13) THE HUBBLE GAZE. Abigail Nussbaum drills into new sff
Astra at Asking the Wrong Question.
…This is absolutely a film that revels in the stark visual of a single space-suited protagonist made small against a backdrop of endless stars, or in stunning vistas of planetary bodies and orbital installations. It absolutely features long wordless stretches in which the cosmic soundtrack strives to create a 2001-esque sense of grandeur. And it absolutely filters all those sensory feasts through Pitt’s character, a soulful Competent Man whose emotional turmoil is both soothed and magnified by the scale of the setting he’s been placed in, and the challenges of surviving it. But Ad Astra also feels like a film aware of its antecedents, of the movies that have come before it over the last decade and the tropes they’ve established. If it isn’t quite a dismantling of those tropes, it is at least a more measured, more humane response to them….
(14) NOT SURPRISED BY DAN SIMMONS. RedWombat was ahead of
the curve, like usual.
(15) ALT-RIGHT HATES SEEING THOSE CLICKS GO TO WASTE. Jon
Del Arroz hopes he can rev up the last couple days of his latest Kickstarter
campaign by tweeting his own crap about Greta Thunberg. Was getting banned for
a week part of the plan? No idea. “BANNED
On Twitter And Can’t Promote!” [Internet Archive link.]
…To get started, just say, “Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson.” You can then choose whether you want him to use explicit language or not, so it’s safe to assume that those who want him to curse will get a dose of his iconic “Motherf—er!” The beauty of it is, you can always change your mind and toggle between clean and explicit content as much as your heart desires.
Bacteria have been caught “stripping off” in order to evade antibiotics and survive, scientists show.
Researchers at Newcastle University filmed bacteria “undressing” and taking off their outer layer – or cell wall.
Antibiotics can attack cell walls so scientists think this is a new form of drug resistance and could explain why some infections keep coming back.
But experts said it was still unclear if this was having an impact on patients.
What are they taking off?
Some species of bacteria have a cell wall built out of sugars and amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
It gives the bacterium shape and protection but it is also a weak spot that can be exploited by antibiotics.
The first antibiotic to be discovered, penicillin, disrupts the cell wall and causes bacteria to burst.
The study, published in Nature Communications, looked at bacteria from elderly patients with urinary tract infections that kept coming back.
Researchers spotted that some bacteria were responding to antibiotics by slipping out of their cell wall in order to escape the drug’s effects.
(18) STARKILLER! [Item by Olav Rokne.] Stars and galaxies are being torn asunder, and nobody really knows why. Could it be The Doomsday Machine from Star Trek’s original series? Has some alien civilization found a Tox Uthat? Is it just a bunch of busy Vogons? Well, probably not. But hopefully, Canadian scientists working with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) will be able to figure out the exact mechanism that explains why galaxies are being destroyed. The New York Post has the story: “Something in the universe is killing off entire galaxies”.
The cause of death is thought to be a shutdown of star formation, and a new project aims to use one of the world’s leading telescopes to observe the process in detail.
The Canadian-led project is called the Virgo Environment Traced in Carbon Monoxide survey (VERTICO).
It will investigate how galaxies can be killed off by their own environment.
Principal investigator Toby Brown explained in The Conversation that he is leading a team of 30 experts who will be using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope to map stars being made in our nearest galaxy cluster, the Virgo Cluster.
A satellite delivery “taxi service” using a giant helium balloon is being developed by a start-up company.
B2space is looking primarily to launch commercial satellites, but it has even fielded an inquiry about “space funerals”, sending ashes into space.
…Described as a satellite “taxi service” by the company, balloons have already been sent to the edge of the atmosphere to test their components and systems – their first launch was from Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, and they have since taken off from Shetland Space Centre.
B2space’s technology will use a giant helium balloon to lift an unmanned rocket up over the sea to a height of around 22-25 miles (35-40km). The rocket, carrying a satellite, will then blast into space to deliver its cargo, while the balloon deflates and falls to earth to be retrieved from the sea.
This will be cheaper because the rocket does not have to power itself up through dense air up to 22 miles, using 85% less fuel, and the rocket will be smaller, the company claimed.
The man behind Marvel Studios’ string of comic book movie blockbusters is to develop a new Star Wars film, a senior executive at Disney has revealed.
Alan Horn, co-chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said it “made sense” for Kevin Feige to work with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy on the project.
The film would be part of “a new era in Star Wars storytelling,” Horn told the Hollywood Reporter.
Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios are both subsidiaries of Walt Disney Studios.
Horn described Feige – who has been president of Marvel Studios since 2007 – as “a die-hard fan” of the Star Wars universe.
Under Feige’s leadership, the films that make up the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) have made more than $22 billion (£18 billion) worldwide.
(21) JEDI GAMES. EA has dropped a Star Wars Jedi: Fallen
Order game trailer — “Cal’s Mission.”
In the Galactic Empire, the Inquisitorius has only one mission: seek out and destroy all remnants of the Jedi Order. Learn more about what Cal Kestis is searching the galaxy for and why the Empire will stop at nothing to bring him down. Become a Jedi in Respawn Entertainment’s third-person action-adventure game, STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order™. Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC this holiday season, November 15, 2019.
[Thanks to Chris Garcia, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Steven
H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Ingvar.]
(2) WORLDCON ATTENDANCE. The daily newzine reported that
when the Registration desk closed Saturday night, the convention had registered
a total of 5,554 attendees across all days.
(3) HUGO LOSERS PARTY PROBLEM. Alex Acks and a busload of
people invited to the Hugo Losers Party were told they couldn’t get in when
they arrived because the place was already filled to capacity. Thread starts here.
When Gamergate began, I was the head of development for my game studio, Giant Spacekat. I watched for months as a mob of trolls harassed women in game development with death threats and rape threats, and violated their privacy until they quit or gave up their careers.
What follows are a selection of quotes detailing threats and harassment claims from the FBI Gamergate report (2017)….
The men in our field were oblivious, saying it was “not an industry issue.” People in power did nothing.
Since industry leaders would not, I knew I had to act.
Humans ruined everything. They bred too much and choked the life out of the land, air and sea.
And so they must be vaporized by half, or attacked by towering monsters, or vanquished by irate dwellers from the oceans’ polluted depths. Barring that, they face hardscrabble, desperate lives on a once verdant Earth now consumed by ice or drought.
That is how many recent superhero and sci-fi movies — among them the latest Avengers and Godzilla pictures as well as “Aquaman,” “Snowpiercer,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Interstellar” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” — have invoked the climate crisis. They imagine postapocalyptic futures or dystopias where ecological collapse is inevitable, environmentalists are criminals, and eco-mindedness is the driving force of villains.
But these takes are defeatist, critics say, and a growing chorus of voices is urging the entertainment industry to tell more stories that show humans adapting and reforming to ward off the worst climate threats.
“More than ever, they’re missing the mark, often in the same way,” said Michael Svoboda, a writing professor at George Washington University and author at the multimedia site Yale Climate Connections. “Almost none of these films depict a successful transformation of society.”
Documentary films about authors are few and far between. That’s chiefly because the act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard isn’t anyone’s idea of high drama.
Not so with New York-based documentarian and self-professed fangirl Hansi Oppenheimer‘s All Hail the Popcorn King, a tribute to and examination of Joe Lansdale, the Lone Star State’s “writer of the purple rage.” Lansdale’s genre-defying, outrageously prolific curriculum vitae – some 50 novels, 500-plus short stories, comic books, screenplays, and not least his own brand of “martial science,” aka Shen Chuan – makes for an absorbing portrait of an artist whose imagination knows no bounds. Whether it’s on the screen (Bubba Ho-Tep; Sundance TV’s adaptation of Lansdale’s long-running Hap and Leonard series of novels) or on the page, the life story of this 10-time Bram Stoker Award-winning “Champion Mojo Storyteller” from the piney woods of Nacogdoches is every bit as extraordinary as any one of his artistic endeavors.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 18, 1929 — Joan Taylor. Her first genre role was Earth vs. the Flying Saucers as Carol Marvin, and she followed that with 20 Million Miles to Earth as Marisa Leonardo. Her last genre role was as Carol Gordon in Men into Space, a late Fifties series about a USAF attempt to explore and develop outer space. She retired from acting in the early Sixties. (Died 2012.)
Born August 18, 1931 — Grant Williams. He is best remembered for his portrayal of Scott Carey in The Incredible Shrinking Man though he will have the role of the psychopathic killer in Robert Bloch’s The Couch. Of course, he shows in Outer Limits, he plays Major Douglas McKinnon in “The Brain of Colonel Barham”. And he’s Major Kurt Mason in The Doomsday Machine. (Died 1985.)
Born August 18, 1934 — Michael de Larrabeiti. He is best known for writing The Borrible Trilogy which is noted by several sources online as being an influence by writers in the New Weird movement. Ok folks, I’ve not read so please explain how The Borrible Trilogy influences that literary movement. (Died 2008.)
Born August 18, 1925 — Brian Aldiss. He’s well known as an anthologist and SF writer with Space, Time and Nathaniel, a collection of short stories being his first genre publication. I’ll single out Space Opera and other such anthologies as my favorite works by him. His “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” is the basis for A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Much honored, he’s was named a Grand Master by SFWA and inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He also has received two Hugo Awards, one Nebula Award, and one John W. Campbell Memorial Award. (Died 2017.)
Born August 18, 1954 — Russell Blackford, 65. Writer resident in Australia for awhile but now in Wales. Author of Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles, and editor of the Australian Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. With Van Ikin and Sean McMullen, he wrote Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction, and Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics which is just out.
Born August 18, 1958 — Madeleine Stowe, 61. She’s in the Twelve Monkeys film as Kathryn Railly, and she’s in the Twelve Monkeys series as Lillian in the “”Memory of Tomorrow” episode. Her only other genre work was a one-off in The Amazing Spider-Man which ran for thirteen episodes nearly forty years ago. She was Maria Calderon in “Escort to Danger” in that series, and she also played Mia Olham in Impostor which scripted off Philip K. Dick’s “Impostor” story.
Born August 18, 1966 — Alison Goodman, 53. Australian writer whose Singing the Dogstar Blues won an Aurealis Award for best young-adult novel. The Two Pearls of Wisdom which in the States as Eon: Dragoneye Reborn won a Aurealis Award for the Best Fantasy Novel, and was a 2008 James Tiptree, Jr. Award Honor Book as well.
Born August 18, 1967 — Brian Michael Bendis, 52. He’s both writer and artist, a still uncommon occurrence. Did you know he’s garnered five Eisner Awards for both his creator-owned work and Marvel Comics? Very impressive! He’s the primary force behind the creation of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, launching Ultimate Spider-Man which is an amazing series which I been reading on the Marvel Unlimited app.
(8) CONZEALAND PR#1. If I didn’t mention it before,
Report 1 has been posted. It’s a free download for anyone.
…The key to landing on Netflix’s radar, he knew, would be to hack its recommendation engine: get enough people interested in the show early. Then, hopefully, Netflix’s mysterious algorithm would do its thing.
Netflix had given Tangen an Aug. 18, 2017, date for the premiere of Norsemen in its English-language territories (the show shot back-to-back versions in Norwegian and English). Three weeks before launch, he set up a campaign on Facebook, paying for targeted posts and Facebook promotions. The posts were fairly simple — most included one of six short (20- to 25-second) clips of the show and a link, either to the show’s webpage or to media coverage.
They used so-called A/B testing — showing two versions of a campaign to different audiences and selecting the most successful — to fine-tune. The U.S. campaign didn’t cost much — $18,500, which Tangen and his production partners put up themselves — and it was extremely precise.
You used to read slush for Beneath Ceaseless Skies. What were some of the things you learned from reading all of those stories?
The main thing I learned was that there’s a whole lot of “fine” and even “good” writing out there, far more than there is “bad” (in the slush, at least). The competently written stories abounded, and at first it was very hard to turn those down. There was nothing wrong with them, after all. But eventually, I learned to recognize the gulf between competent writing and a great story. There wasn’t one thing that set every great story apart; it wasn’t that clear-cut. It might be a killer voice, a grab-you-by-the-throat opening, an ending that left you feeling downright emotionally wobbly. Every one of those stories had something that provoked a reaction, and studying the difference between the death scene that was merely competent and the one that felt like a knife to the gut helped me start to think about what the true core of my stories was.
[Thanks to rcade, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge,
Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul
The “free” collectibles in Disneyland’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that didn’t have a price tag and weren’t nailed down have found their way to cyberspace with many of the five-finger discount items showing up on the secondary market.
A simple search for “Galaxy’s Edge” on the eBay online shopping site reveals a slew of purloined items that probably should not have left the Black Spire Outpost village on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the new 14-acre land at the Anaheim theme park.
Other resourceful Galaxy’s Edge visitors simply took more of the free Star Wars stuff than Disneyland might have anticipated or expected. As a result, many of the pilfered and hoarded souvenirs are no longer available in the new Star Wars land.
Gone are the Galaxy’s Edge maps and Docking Bay 7 sporks that are likely not to reappear in the park or the land. It’s always possible they were intended as grand opening swag. Or maybe new shipments of the popular keepsakes are bound for Batuu….
…What constitutes thievery? If a Disneyland employee hands you something without a price tag on it are you obligated to give it back? Most people would agree that keeping a theme park map as a souvenir is OK, but taking restaurant silverware is stealing. It appears plenty of Disneyland visitors are stepping over that grey line.
Star Trek actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series, found himself in the middle of an internet argument about autism, and how society should accommodate those with the disorder. Congressional candidate Brianna Wu threw herself into the argument attempting to take a shot at Shatner. The actor quickly shot her down with a firm response about her own past.
One of Shatner’s threads begins here
(and includes a couple of comments where Scott Edelman tries to contradict
Shatner with a cocktail of Harlan Ellison and George Bernard Shaw quotes).
The mystery question is whether Shatner writes his own tweets or delegates that to someone else?
(3) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE INTERNET. In the aftermath of Ulrika O’Brien’s BEAM #14 editorial, John Scalzi analyzes his role in the past decade of Hugo fanhistory: “On Being Denounced, Again (Again)”
6. So why, over the last decade plus change, have certain people focused on me as the agent of change (and not necessarily a good one) with regard to the Hugos? After all, this latest editorial is not the first jeremiad about me on the subject; people will recall I was a frequent example from the Puppy Camp of Everything That Was Wrong in Science Fiction and Proof the Hugos Were Corrupt, etc.
Here are some of the reasons:
a) professional/personal dislike and/or jealousy; b) unhappiness with inevitable change with fandom and the science fiction and fantasy community and genre generally and the need to find a single cause to blame it on; c) ignorance (willful or otherwise) of the labor of other people (many of them not straight and/or white and/or male) to change the tenor of the SF/F community (and as a consequence, its awards); d) a general lack of understanding that the SF/F community is a complex system and like most complex systems a single input or actor, in this case me, does not usually precipitate a wide system change on its own; e) my privileged position in the community makes me an easy and acceptable target/strawman/scapegoat — no one’s exactly punching down when they go for me.
(4) ABOUT THAT GATE. Darusha Wehm, Escape Pod associate
editor and author, has also responded to Ulrika O’Brien’s BEAM 14
editorial. Thread starts here.
(5) HE WANTS GEEZERS TO GET OFF HIS LAWN, TOO. This was S.M.
Stirling’s response to Scalzi’s post:
(6) DEVOURING BRADBURY. In “David
Morrell: Preparing for Crisis and Finding Inspiration” on Crimereads, Mark Rubinstein
interviews David Morrell about his new collection, Time Was.
Morell explains how he started off as a writer “devouring Ray
Bradbury” and how his short stories “tend to be in the Serling/Bradbury
mold.” He also offers good advice about a writing career from his
teacher, Phil Klass.
David Morrell: …Philip Klass, my writing instructor from years ago, insisted that writers who went the distance and enjoyed long careers, were those who had a definable viewpoint and a unique personality in their prose. That’s been my lifelong goal as a writer.
(7) LONDON CALLING. Britain’s
North Heath SF Group has been in touch. Filers are invited!
It is a small group not even three years old and based at the Kent end of London (not far across the Thames from the Excel if ever they hold another Worldcon there).
While the group is only 15 strong, they are getting a fair bit of social media interest and now have over 100 Facebook followers nearly all from SE London.
If any Filers are based in SE London (apparently the 89 and 229 busses to the Brook St stop is useful if any live on those routes), or have fan friends based in SE London then they’d be welcome at their next meet which is especially for new members. July 11 – see details on Facebook.
The group is a broad church SF group (member’s interests span books, films, TV) with some having specialist interests.
Last weekend a few gathered for a barbecue, and yes, the garden really is bigger on the outside….
Robert J. Friend, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, who defied racism at home and enemy fire over Europe and who later oversaw the federal government’s investigation into U.F.O.s, died on Friday in Long Beach, Calif. He was 99.
… “Do I believe that we have been visited? No, I don’t believe that,” he said. “And the reason I don’t believe it is because I can’t conceive of any of the ways in which we could overcome some of these things: How much food would you have to take with you on a trip for 22 years through space? How much fuel would you need? How much oxygen or other things to sustain life do you have to have?”
But unlike many of his colleagues, he favored further research.
“I, for one, also believe that the probability of there being life elsewhere in this big cosmos is just absolutely out of this world — I think the probability is there,” he said.
(9) WRIGHT OBIT. An actor in theALF series died
June 27. BBC has the story —
Actor Max Wright has died aged 75 after a long battle with cancer, his family has confirmed.
He was well known for playing Willie Tanner, the adoptive father of an alien, in the hit 1980s sitcom ALF.
Born June 27, 1941 — James P. Hogan. A true anti-authoritarian hard SF writer in the years when that was a respectable thing to be. I’m sure that I’ve read at lest a few of his novels, most likely Inherit the Stars and The Gentle Giants of Ganymede. A decent amount of his work is available digitally on what is just called Books and Kindle. (Died 2010.)
Born June 27, 1966 — J. J. Abrams, 53. He of the Star Trek and Star Wars films that endlessly cause controversy. I can forgive him any digressions there for helping creating Fringe and Person of Interest, not to mention Alias at times.
Born June 27, 1952 — Mary Rosenblum. SF writer who won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel for The Drylands, her first novel. She later won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Short Form for her story, “Sacrifice.” Water Rites and Horizons are the only ones available digitally. (Died 2018.)
Born June 27, 1959 — Stephen Dedman, 60. Australian author who’s the author of The Art of Arrow-Cutting, a most excellent novel. I really should read Shadows Bite, the sequel to it. He’s the story editor of Borderlands, the tri-annual Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine published in Perth. Apple Books has nothing for him, Kindle has The Art of Arrow-Cutting and a few other titles.
Born June 27, 1972 — Christian Kane, 47. You’ll certainly recognize him as he’s been around genre video fiction for a while first playing Lindsey McDonald on Angel before become Jacob Stone on The Librarians. And though Leverage ain’t genre, his role as Eliot Spencer there is definitely worth seeing.
Born June 27, 1975 — Tobey Maguire, 44. Spider-man in the Sam Raimi trilogy of the Spidey films. His first genre appearance was actually in The Revenge of the Red Baron which is one serious weird film. Much more interesting is his role as David in Pleasantville, a film I love dearly. He produced The 5th Wave, a recent alien invasion film.
Born June 27, 1987 — Ed Westwick, 32. British actor who has roles in the dystopian Children of Men, S. Darko (a film I couldn’t begin to summarise), Freaks of Nature (a popcorn film if ever there was one), the “Roadside Bouquets” episode of the British series Afterlife (which I want to see) and The Crash (which may or may not be SF).
(13) ALA DROPS MELVIL DEWEY NAME FROM AWARD. The decimals
remain, but Dewey is gone. Read the resolution here. Publishers
Citing a history of racism, anti-Semitism, and sexual harassment, the council of the American Library Association on June 23 voted to strip Melvil Dewey’s name from the association’s top professional honor, the Melvil Dewey Medal. The ALA Council approved the measure after a resolution was successfully advanced at the ALA membership meeting, during the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC.
Best known by the public for creating the Dewey Decimal Classification System, Dewey was one of the founders of the American Library Association in 1876, and has long been revered as the “father of the modern library,” despite being ostracized from the ALA in 1906 because of his offensive personal behavior.
In an article last June in American Libraries,Anne Ford questioned why the ALA and the library profession still associates its highest honor with a man whose legacy does not align with the profession’s core values. This week, some 88 years after his death, Dewey’s #TimesUp moment appears to have finally come.
…When I began work on The Dragons of Babel, I had no idea whether it existed in the same universe as The Iron Dragon’s Daughter or not. The two books had no characters or locations in common. Even the names of the gods were different, though at the head of each pantheon was the Goddess. Only she and the dragons were the same. Ultimately, I decided that it did no harm for the books to be in the same world (though, presumably, on different continents) and would please those who had read The Iron Dragon’s Daughter. So I brought Jane back—not from our world but from an earlier period of her life, when she was behaving very badly—for a brief cameo appearance. Just as a small treat, an Easter egg, for those who had read the earlier novel.
To my surprise, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter had been characterized by reviewers as an “anti-fantasy” because it challenged many of the assumptions of genre fantasy. This had never been my intent. But, the idea having been placed into my head, in The Dragons of Babel I set out to upend the standard model of fantasy in as many ways as possible while still delivering its traditional pleasures….
“King Kong,” the big-budget musical driven by its massive namesake puppet, will close Aug. 18 after less than a year on Broadway, the show’s producers announced on Tuesday.
… “King Kong” was capitalized for $30 million, according to the production. That sum — enormous by Broadway standards — has not been recouped.
The show eventually opened to stinging reviews, with most of the praise going to the towering title character himself, a colossal marionette clocking in at 20 feet tall and 2,000 pounds. For the week ending June 23, it grossed just shy of $783,000 at the box office, only 53 percent of its potential take.
NASA’s Curiosity rover last week measured the highest level of methane gas ever found in the atmosphere at Mars’s surface. The reading — 21 parts per billion (p.p.b.) — is three times greater than the previous record, which Curiosity detected back in 2013. Planetary scientists track methane on Mars because its presence could signal life; most of Earth’s methane is made by living things, although the gas can also come from geological sources…
… NASA ran a follow-up experiment last weekend and recorded a methane level less than 1 p.p.b., suggesting that the high reading last week came from a transient gas plume.
(17) GETTING UNSTUCK IN TIME. Camestros
Felapton is happy to offer “Some
advice for time travellers”. Pay attention — even if he starts with “Don’t
Panic!” there’s a lot here you haven’t heard before.
4. Listen to that mysterious stranger you meet early on
Honestly, even if you aren’t currently planning to go time travelling, NOW is the time to carry a notebook. When the uncannily familiar stranger and/or your great aunt starts babbling to you about destiny, or how what has been written can (or cannot) be unwritten, get them to pause a moment and ask them to write it down in your handy notebook.
This encounter may be the point where you are told The Rules (we’ll get to The Rules in a moment). Having them written down will make your life so much easier and will also make it easier for you to explain them to your younger self when you meet them when you are disguised as an uncannily familiar stranger.
Starting June 28th, take a seat in Sheldon’s spot and relive your favorite moments from apartment 4A. Recreate Sheldon’s signature knock, stroll through the foyer to see the infamous broken elevator or visit the Caltech Physics Department Cafeteria featuring original costumes from Leonard, Sheldon, Penny, Howard, Raj, Bernadette and Amy.
(19) COLBERT ON MEDIA. Steven Colbert starts with the news that Kim Kardashian is offering a new line of makeup that doesn’t go on your face. The Good Omens cancellation petition is his second bit, starting at the 2:00 mark (in case you want to fast-forward past Kim Kardashian’s thighs).
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
… Sound is a relatively simple physical phenomenon, but the way our minds shape it can be complex. It’s a wave, but not the same kind of wave one might see in the ocean, where the medium (water, in the case of the ocean) travels toward or away from us. If sound waves were like ocean waves, we would not be able to speak to one another without blowing a constant breeze toward the listener, which is (generally speaking) not what happens. Rather, sound waves travel by creating collisions between the molecules of air between us and the origin of the sound….
…The only character in Dark Constellations not interested in controlling others is Piera, a disaffected Stromatoliton biologist whose alienation from her male co-workers and from the overreach of her company leads her to cut herself off—from people, and from broader systems. She privately refers to her employer as “the animal of the state unleashed,” but remains at Stromatoliton, satisfying her voyeuristic curiosity even as the future of Argentine privacy is in question. With Piera, Oloixarac seems to underscore the impossibility of stepping away from power in a world in which science overrides ethics. Piera may consider herself an observer rather than a participant, but she remains complicit in the global expansion of surveillance….
(3) BRIANNA WU. Media people
covering last weekend’s synagogue shooting in San Diego tapped Brianna Wu for
comment about the shooter’s 8chan connection.
…Whether the Internet is creating hate groups or just serving as a gathering place, one thing has become clear: What happens online doesn’t stay there.
Brianna Wu is a software engineer who lives in Massachusetts. In 2014, she was targeted in something called Gamergate, in which men threatened female video game players and developers. The harassment started mainly on 8chan.
“They threw bricks through my windows. They sent me hundreds upon hundreds of death threats, rape threats,” Wu says. “I’ve had people from 8chan follow me around just to let me know, ‘I’m near you and could hurt you if I wanted to.’ “
Wu, who is running for Congress, says the solution is simple. “We need dedicated FBI agents that understand online culture to look at these kinds of extreme crimes and prosecute them,” she says.
…The message is trickling to the campaign trail. Brianna Wu, a software engineer who is running as a Democrat for a House seat in Massachusetts, told me she is “angry” that law enforcement has not done more to rein in 8chan, which has also been connected to the circulation of child pornography and is a place where people are frequently doxxed.
After Wu herself was targeted on the website in 2014 with death threats during the Internet culture war known as Gamergate, she says she says she documented “tons of illegal activity” on 8chan and shared her findings with the FBI. She believes it’s possible the recent shootings could have been avoided if law enforcement took greater action, she said, and wants to increase funding for the FBI to investigate online crime if elected to Congress.
“We need to fund a specific task force within the FBI that is very tech literate and tasked to prosecute these types of online crimes,” she said. More from Wu:
With a mix of old and newcomer talent on both sides of the camera, the Picard series looks to follow in Discovery‘s footsteps and blend old-fashioned Star Trek tropes with fresh sci-fi ideas and a more modern tone. Of course, this show has an advantage over CBS All Access’ first Star Trek series in that it’s not a prequel and has more freedom to play around with its storytelling, as opposed to having to work around classic lore and mythology. Something like the Star Wars sequel trilogy has certainly gotten a passionate fan response by bringing back old characters for new adventures, so it’ll be very interesting to see how Trekkies take to Picard’s story continuing by comparison.
(5) CARL BRANDON ORIGIN STORY. The Jeanne Gomoll-edited Carl Brandon, by and about the hoax fan Terry Carr co-created long ago, is available for order from Lulu ($16.00).
Terry Carr recounts the invention of an imaginary black science fiction fan named Carl Brandon, one of the field’s most (in)famous hoaxes. In addition to Carl Brandon’s complete history, this volume includes his J.D. Salinger parody, “The Cacher of the Rye;” a more current parody by Carl Brandon 2.0, “The Kvetcher on the Racists;” and an essay by Samuel R. Delany, “Racism and Science Fiction.” To quote Carr: “In the late fifties, several of the fans of the Bay Area…presented fandom with a new fanwriter who was quickly acclaimed as one of the best writers around and who was, not incidentally, the first prominent fan who was black.” Read the book for more of this fascinating tale. All proceeds go to the Carl Brandon Society, which promotes discussions on race at conventions and conferences, and through its support of the Parallax and Kindred literary awards, and the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund.
(6) JOHN SLADEK. The paperback edition of New Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek was informally launched at the UK Eastercon and the
promised ebook is now available reports David Langford. Both can be
ordered from Ansible Editions. Tradepaperback
9″ x 6″, 255pp, ISBN 978-0-244-15877-4. $20 plus local postage from
Lulu.com: click button below. Ebook in the usual formats at £5.50: again, click
DOWNLOAD. Of more fannish interest, a free
ebook reissue of Terry Carr’s
1986 collection Fandom Harvest has been posted on David Langford’s TAFF
page as an incitement to give generously to the fund. He adds, “Many thanks to
Bob Silverberg for allowing his 1986 introduction to be included and to
the original publisher John-Henri Holmberg for his afterword and general
approval. Carol Carr has given her blessing to this reissue.”
Langford further notes – “For anyone
interested in acquiring the Sladek or the Brandon paperback: both are
published via Lulu.com, which currently has a 15%-off
discount code ONEFIVE that’s good until 2 May.”
(8) HARLEQUIN ART. The
Bristol Board features nine pieces of Steranko art done for an edition
of a Harlan Ellison story.
Repent Harlequin, said the Tick-Tock Man!, a portfolio of illustrations by Jim Steranko, done as an adaptation of a short story that was written by Harlan Ellison. the last plate is a 3-D pinup.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 1, 1905 — Edna Mayne Hull. Wife of A.E. van Vogt. And yes, she too wrote genre fiction. Her initial sale, “The Flight That Failed”, appeared in the November 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction underchosen author credit of “E.M. Hull” though eventually she used her own name. She has but one novel of her own, Planets for Sale, and one with her husband, The Winged Man, and only a dozen stories, one with A.E. Van Vogt & James H. Schmitz. (Died 1975.)
Born May 1, 1924 — Terry Southern. Screenwriter and author of greatest interest for the screenplay from Peter George’s original novel, Two Hours to Doom (as by Peter Bryant) of Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb directed (and in part written) by Stanley Kubrick. He was also involved in scripting Barbarella. (Died 1995.)
Born May 1, 1946 — Joanna Lumley, 73. No, she was no Emma Peel, but she was definitely more than a bit appealing in the New Avengers as Purdey. All twenty-six episode are out on DVD. Her next genre out was Sapphire & Steel whichstarred David McCallum as Steel and her as Sapphire. Skip forward nearly near twenty years and find her playing The Thirteenth Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death in Comic Relief special.
Born May 1, 1948 — Terry Goodkind, 71. You obviously know he is. I’ve read some of the Sword of Truth series. It’s ok, but not really my cup of Earl Grey Tea Hot. Epic fantasy isn’t something that I really read a lot of to be honest preferring epic sf instead.
Born May 1, 1952 — Andrew Sawyer, 67. Librarian by profession, critic and editor as well who an active part of fandom. He is the Reviews Editor for Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. I’ve also got him doing Upon the Rack in Print, a book review column in Interzone and elsewhere and contributing likewise the Rust Never Sleeps column to Paperback Inferno as well. He hasn’t written much fiction, but there is some such as “The Mechanical Art” in the Digital Dreams anthology.
Born May 1, 1955 — J. R. Pournelle, 64. That’s as in Jennifer, the daughter of the Jerry we know. She’s here because she wrote Outies (Mote Series Book 3) which I confess she sent me a digital galley of years ago but I still need to take a look at. The first novel in the series is great.
Born May 1, 1956 — Phil Foglio, 63. He won the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1977 and 1978. He later did work for DC, First and Marvel Comics including the backup stories in Grimjack. He and his wife are responsible for the exemplary Girl Genius, a three-time Best Graphic Story Hugo winner.
Born May 1, 1957 — Steve Meretzky, 62. He co-designed the early Eighties version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy video game with the full participation of Douglas Adams. SF Encyclopedia notes that he did also a space opera themed game, Planetfall and its sequel A Mind Forever Voyaging in the Eighties as well. He also did the definitely more erotic Leather Goddesses of Phobos as well.
When we talk about the MCU blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War, we cannot fail but mention the wrecking ball that was Thanos, and his infinity gauntlet of course. For the very first time, earth’s mightiest heroes, The Avengers, look to have met their match. All their powers, tech and a snarky Star-Lord were not powerful enough to stop Thanos’ crusade to save the universe. Fingers crossed for Captain Marvel. The superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can appear to be underpowered compared to other superheroes. This isn’t a knock on Captain America or Iron Man or the rest, but they don’t compare characters from other franchises. If characters from other universes happened to show up in Infinity War, we think the fight against Thanos would have ended a tad differently. In fact, some wouldn’t even need the support of the Avengers and could take the Mad Titan out all on their own.
Granted, Thanos is not an easy walk over. Without the Infinity Gauntlet, he is as strong or stronger than Thor with fair speed to match, he is pretty much indestructible, and has scientific knowledge greater than anyone on Earth, which in turn makes him a master strategist. He also has access to cosmic power which he can use to release blasts from his hands and eyes. With the Infinity Gauntlet, however, he can manipulate all of reality, time, space and the minds and souls of others. He looks pretty unbeatable, right? Wrong! Here is a list of 25 characters from Marvel’s arch enemies, DC, which can very well handle the threat that is Thanos….
Love in the New Millennium is a work of operatic magical realism; a book with many layers, many shifting romantic relationships, and no clear plot. Like Frontier, one of Can Xue’s previous novels, Love invites us into the hazy, sometimes frustratingly-elusive worlds of a handful of characters, many of whom are desperately trying to find a “home.”…
You’ve probably never heard of Clarice Phelps. If you were curious, you might enter her name into Google. And, if you had done so anytime between September of last year and February of this year, you would likely have found her Wikipedia entry. The nuclear scientist is thought to be the first African-American woman to help discover a chemical element; she was part of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory team that purified the radioactive sample of berkelium-249 from which the new element, tennessine, was created. But on February 11, 2019, in the middle of Black History Month and on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Phelps’s page was deleted. The optics, as they say, weren’t good.
The deletion came after a brief but intense dispute between Wikipedia contributors over whether Phelps met the site’s criteria for notability. Ordinarily, such editorial spats are considered a feature of the crowdsourced encyclopedia, not a bug. If one of the site’s hundreds of thousands of active contributors mistakenly or purposely adds incorrect information, the wisdom of the crowd will ensure that truth prevails.
But in the case of Phelps, the crowd made the wrong call, and the site’s rules facilitated that. The entire spectacle revealed just how much work remains to be done to address the systemic biases that disproportionately keep women and people of color out of Wikipedia’s pages.
People are weird about teeth, and always have been. According to dental researcher Rosemary Wells, ancient cultures had a variety of ways of dealing with baby teeth, as described in her essay “The Making of an Icon: The Tooth Fairy in North American Folklore and Popular Culture:”
(1) the tooth was thrown into the sun; (2) thrown into the fire; (3) thrown between the legs; (4) thrown onto or over the roof of the house, often with an invocation to some animal or individual; (5) placed in a mouse hole near the stove or hearth or offered to some other animal; (6) buried; (7) hidden where animals could not get it; (8) placed in a tree or on a wall; and (9) swallowed by the mother, child or animal.
That’s right, people have historically been so freaked out by teeth they used to THROW THEM INTO THE SUN. Dental anxiety is real! You can’t just stick a full set of veneers in any old cartoon character and expect people to not be traumatized!
A prototype of a Star Wars toy has sold for £36,000 at auction.
The 1980s master model of Bib Fortuna, a male Twi’lek who lived on Tatooine, had an estimate of £12,000.
It sold at Thornaby-based Vectis Auctions along with prototypes of an ewok called Logray which fetched £12,000, and an Emperor’s royal guard which reached £28,800.
Auctioneer Kathy Taylor said the three “relatively unknown” characters had “beaten all expectations”.
They had been made in America by Kenner for the production of the toys in Europe by Palitoy, which was based in Coalville, Leicestershire.
…Ms Taylor said the master models are larger and more detailed than the final figures sold in toy shops.
(18) RESISTANCE. Season
3 of The Handmaid’s Tale arrives June
5 on Hulu.
Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich,
Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat
Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) MCINTYRE. CaringBridge readers received a
saddening update about Vonda McIntyre’s status:
Vonda has been told she has somewhere between two weeks and two months. She’s doing well enough right now that she will probably last longer than the short end of this estimate but we aren’t seeing much cause for hope she might exceed the long end.
She has signed up with hospice. The people who have come out this past week all seem smart and kind, and Vonda is pleased with them.
Vonda is, on the whole, fairly comfortable. She gets some pain before her scheduled paracentesis sessions, but she says it isn’t bad and goes away as soon as she gets the procedure. She’s weak, moves slowly, and sleeps a lot. However, she’s alert and engaged when she is awake, and has been enjoying visits from various people. She doesn’t eat much, but is still enjoying food and has no nausea issues.
Emotionally, I find her to be in astonishingly good shape. She’s still grieving the loss of Ursula and her sister, Carolyn, but she says she’s not especially upset about her own situation. She is focused on getting some things down, many of which are fun for her. This stuff could hit harder later but for now she seems calm and accepting.
Frank Catalano sent the link with a note: “Vonda was generous to me when I moved to the Seattle
area in the 1980s and I took on the task of administering SFWA’s Nebula Awards.
She and I and a small crew of volunteers stuffed and stamped numerous Nebula
Awards Reports in my Queen Anne apartment. I consider her a friend and she has
also encouraged my writing.”
(2) MONSTER MASH. A new trailer for Godzilla:
King of the Monsters has dropped. The move arrives in theaters May 31
Following the global success of “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse, an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.
I’ve watched eight episodes (out of eighteen) of Netflix’s “Adult” anthology series based on contemporary SF short stories. It’s ‘Adult’ in the sense of stereotypes of adolescent male interests which means many episodes with gore and most episodes with CGI boobs. There are some good pieces but they are ones that differ sharply from the general aesthetic.
I’ve spent a career working in tech as a software engineer. And I believe regulated markets are the best way to build and deliver innovative products. That might sound counterintuitive. But increasingly, the largest players in the game aren’t playing by the same rules. Instead, they’re using their power to bully or buy out the competition.
That’s why I was thrilled last week when Senator Elizabeth Warren put forward a bold plan to break up the largest tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon. Many parts of the plan are strong and have widespread support by industry experts, such as breaking up Facebook and Instagram. Other parts inadvertently jeopardize privacy and increase consumer risk of malware and spyware. Overall, it’s a strong start to an antitrust conversation that is long overdue.
(5) WOLFE’S SERVICE
RECOGNIZED. Last week at the International
Association for the Fantastic in the Arts conference, Gary K. Wolfe received the Robert A. Collins Service Award,
“presented to an officer, board member, or division head for outstanding
service to the organization.” [Via Locus
(6) IMPATIENTS. In “Cory
Doctorow’s Radicalized and Audience Awareness”, Joseph Hurtgen urges us
all to “Put Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized on
your reading list. It’s a short and powerful meditation on the power of the
internet to radicalize suffering individuals, the broken healthcare system in
the US, the exploitation of the poor in America, and the broken judicial system
in the US.”
…Doctorow considers a slightly different kind of mass murdering, one with a political agenda. The terrorists in Doctorow’s world kill to force the US to fix the broken healthcare system. In the 21st century, our situation is that experimental treatment for cancer is available to those that can write a seven-figure check. But for the rest of us, no matter how much we’ve paid into the system, death is still the only cure.
(7) HOLDING FORTH. YouTube has video of Isaac
Asimov on The David Letterman Show,
October 21, 1980
(8) ELLEN VARTANOFF OBIT. Ellen Vartanoff (1951-2019) died March 17
reports her brother-in-law, Scott Edelman.
Ellen Vartanoff was a fan, a collector, creator, artist, teacher, mentor and so much more to countless friends and admirers. Condolences to Irene, Scott, and all of Ellen’s family. I will always carry with me the last time I saw Ellen.
“I’ve been in love with cartoons since I was 7 years old,” says Vartanoff, 46, who financed her early comic book purchases by collecting returnable soft drink bottles, which brought her 2 cents each. “That amount was more meaningful back when comics cost a dime. My sister and I have been collecting comics since 1957 and began collecting original cartoon art in the 1960s, way before it became a popular thing to do.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 18, 1926 — Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian filmed Mission Impossible which if you’ve not seen it, you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010)
Born March 18, 1932 — John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. He wrote a number of other genre-friendly novels including The Centaur, Brazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
Born March 18, 1947 — Drew Struzan, 72. Artist known for his more than a hundred and fifty movie posters which include films in Back to the Future, the Indiana Jones, and Star Wars film franchises. In addition, he designed the original Industrial Light & Magic logo for Lucas. My favorite posters? Back to the Future, The Goonies and The Dark Crystal.
Born March 18, 1950 — J. G. Hertzler, 69. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on QuantumLeap as Weathers Farrington in the “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in Zorro, Highlander, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Charmed, Roswell and Enterprise series; for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of Satan, Treasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2, The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Born March 18, 1959 — Luc Besson, 60. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and reviews leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
Born March 18, 1960 — Richard Biggs. He appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast, Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical Worldof Disney. (Died 2004.)
Born March 18, 1961 – James Davis Nicoll, 58. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group read prior to Eighties SF and fantasy, and Nicoll and his collaborators comment on the their reactions.
Born March 18, 1989 — Lily Collins, 30. First genre role was in cyberpunk horror film Priest as Lucy Pace. She next shows up in Mirror Mirror before being Clary Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I did read the first three or four novels in the series. Recommended them wholeheartedly, no idea how the film is. She’s Edith Tolkien in the Tolkien filmnow in post-production.
(10) STAY TUNED FOR VERSE. John
A Arkansawyer sent a note with this link to his sff poem: “Shameless
self-promotion for something which will not win the Rhysling But I’m pleased to
have written it in the last fifteen minutes.” — “The Synoptic Bump in
“Warrior”, by Gordon R. Dickson”.
Jason Wilkins roused himself out of his dough-and-flour-addled stupor, and gazed at the ringing noise emanating from the receiver….
And if you scroll down to item #24 you’ll find Chapter 2 of Weber’s
epic “In Ovens Baked.”
Pizza Delivery Person Third Class Alonzo Gomez smoothly turned his control wheel counterclockwise, with the skill of a man who’d practiced this maneuver for years. In the sealed chamber in front of his feet, a gear at the end of the wheel’s shaft pushed the rack-and-pinion assembly to one side, changing the angle of the vehicle’s front wheels. Now, driven onward relentlessly by the vehicle’s momentum, the tires bit into the road surface obliquely, forcing the vehicle’s nose to port and carrying the entire vehicle with them on its new course. Alonzo and his vehicle thereby rounded the corner, taking them off of Elm street and onto 5th Avenue….
(This reminds me of the time I watched a visiting clergyman doing
a sendup of “Pastor Jack telling the congregation the church is on fire.” He
had everyone in hysterics, with the assistant pastor waving his handkerchief in
In 1964, Austrian journalist Gerhard Pistor walked into a Vienna travel agency with a simple proposition. He’d like to fly to the moon, and if possible, he’d like to fly there on Pan Am.
The travel agency, presumably dumbfounded by this request, decided to simply do its job and make the ask: It forwarded the impossible request to the airline, the legend goes, where it attracted the attention of Juan Trippe, the notoriously brash and publicity-thirsty CEO of Pan American World Airways, the world’s most popular airline. Trippe saw a golden opportunity, and the bizarre request gave birth to a brilliant sales ploy that cashed in on the growing international obsession with human spaceflight: Pan Am was going to launch commercially operated passenger flights to the moon. Or, at least, that’s what it was going to tell everyone.
In hindsight, it’s beyond ludicrous. NASA wouldn’t land men on the moon for five more years; the promise of lunar getaways on a jetliner sounds like a marketing scam at worst, and the most preposterous extension of 1960s techno-optimism at best. And yet, in a striking parallel to today’s commercial space race, would-be customers put down their names on a waiting list for their chance to go to space, joining Pan Am’s “First Moon Flights” Club.
If history is a guide, then Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin should be cautious. Pan Am dissolved in 1991 without ever getting close to launching a spacecraft. Even when it promised the moon and the stars, the airline was far closer to financial oblivion than it was to the cosmos.
A huge fireball exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere in December, according to Nasa.
The blast was the second largest of its kind in 30 years, and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia six years ago.
But it went largely unnoticed until now because it blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
The space rock exploded with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at Nasa, told BBC News a fireball this big is only expected about two or three times every 100 years.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Disney–The Art of Animation”
on YouTube, Kaptain Kristian provides the 15 principles of animation that have
ensured Disney’s continued excellence in animation for over 80 years.
Bill, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]