Yr humble correspondent at the helm
That would be Starship Captain Dern, putting the vessel through its paces
More of Dern’s photos follow the jump.Continue reading
Yr humble correspondent at the helm
That would be Starship Captain Dern, putting the vessel through its paces
More of Dern’s photos follow the jump.Continue reading
(1) DRESSING UP. An 11-minute video of cosplay at San Diego Comic-Con.
San Diego Comic Con 2019, at the San Diego Convention Center. In its 50th year it was an hectic and news worthy convention with some really great costumes and creativity, thanks everyone for participating
(2) DUBLIN 2019 REMINDERS. The Hugo voting deadline is upon us —
Voting will end on 31 July 2019 at 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time (2:59am Eastern Daylight Time, 07:59 Irish and British time, all on 1 August)
Also, Dublin 2019 invites members to take the survey — “Consider participating in a research study that is collecting data on Worldcon attendees.”
Want to Help Out Science?
Professor Jennifer Zwahr-Castro is researching Worldcon, and investigating why we attend and what we get out of the experience. She would like to invite all Dublin 2019 attendees to take part in her research by filling out a survey.
(3) THE CHERRY ON THE TOP OF MT. TBR. An email from NESFA Press tells me they are pleased to announce two new ebooks available immediately–
(4) CLOSE READING. [Item by rcade.] Catherynne Valente tweeted that in 15 years writing professionally, she doesn’t think she’s ever described the size of a woman’s breasts.
After some internal debate over whether I should, I broke the news to her that she had.
The overall thread has a lot of hilarious stuff in it. It starts here.
(5) BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST. Margaret Atwood’s inclusion on the 2019 Book Prize Longlist was reported in yesterday’s Scroll – but here’s the complete list, or ‘Booker Dozen’, as the cognoscenti say.
This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: founder and director of Hay Festival Peter Florence (Chair); former fiction publisher and editor Liz Calder; novelist, essayist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo; writer, broadcaster and former barrister Afua Hirsch; and concert pianist, conductor and composer Joanna MacGregor.
The 2019 longlist, or ‘Booker Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:
The list was chosen from 151 novels published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019.
(6) BIG BRAINS. Kicking off today in Dublin, a “Theorizing Zombiism Conference”:
The rising academic interest in the zombie as an allegory for cultural and social analysis is spanning disciplines including, humanities, anthropology, economics, and political science. The zombie has been used as a metaphor for economic policy, political administrations, and cultural critique through various theoretical frameworks. The zombie has been examined as a metaphor for capitalism, geopolitics, globalism, neo-liberal markets, and even equating Zombiism to restrictive aspects of academia.
Apparently it is not a joke:
(7) DO YOU WANT TO PLAY A GAME? NPR asks “Can This Group Of Teen Girls Save The World From Nuclear War?”
On a recent morning, 15 teenage girls and young women reported for duty at an office overlooking the Pentagon. Their mission: Save the world from nuclear war.
“This is where I want you to stop being you,” said Stacie Pettyjohn, a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, a defense think tank. “You’re going to have to start to role-play.”
Pettyjohn was leading a war-game exercise on North Korea. Typically, military commanders and policymakers use war gaming to test strategies and their likely consequences. But nothing about this game was typical. It was designed by women — RAND’s “Dames of War Games” — for teenagers from Girl Security, a nonprofit that introduces girls to defense issues. The partnership was a first for both groups; it’s among a series of recent efforts to boost women’s participation in national security.
“You have to fight,” Pettyjohn told the teens. “You are the military commanders.”
The scenario Pettyjohn laid out was bleak. U.S. talks with North Korea had collapsed, and deadly tit-for-tat attacks had spiraled into open conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Half the teens would join the blue team, assuming the roles of U.S. and allied South Korean generals. The others went to the red team, playing North Korean leaders determined to stay in power.
(8) SOMEDAY MY BLUEPRINTS WILL COME. Curbed’s Angela Serratore shares credit with architects of the Eighties and Nineties for corporate Disney’s current world domination: “The magical (postmodern) world of Disney”.
It was 1991 and Michael Eisner was on the brink of changing everything.
After becoming the CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 1984, Eisner, a native New Yorker, set out to turn the old-fashioned Disney brand into one that would speak not just to the present moment but also, crucially, to the future. During his tenure, the company would eventually acquire the television network ABC and the sports behemoth ESPN and produce films that would come to define the Disney Renaissance—The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin, among others.
An amateur architecture and design buff, Eisner also understood that a company like Disney ought to have a real presence—theme parks, of course, but also office buildings, studios, and hotels. What if, his design philosophy seemed to suggest, people could look up at Disney headquarters in Burbank or Orlando and feel the same awe and delight they must’ve felt on Disneyland’s opening day?
(9) DRAWN THAT WAY. A tour of the exhibit led by Lucas Adams: “Worlds Apart: Sci-Fi Visions of Altered Reality” at New York Review of Books.
We all wish we could change the past, at least some of the time. Relationships, elections, conversations: there are countless moments in our lives we’d love the chance to rework, or simply reimagine. Living in an era when we can easily tweak the small (delete a sentence, crop an image) but feel helpless when facing the large (political turmoil, climate change), it’s hard not to fantasize about reworking our histories.
But this inclination is not new. Attempting to rework the past, at least on paper, has been the outlet of artists and authors for as long as people have been wishing for different endings. “As If: Alternative Histories From Then to Now,” an exhibition at the Drawing Center, presents eighty-four works from 1888 to the present that “offer examples of how we might reimagine historical narratives in order to contend with the traumas of contemporary life.”
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
(12) FAILURE TO IMAGINATE. “Twitter’s retweet inventor says idea was ‘loaded weapon'” – BBC has the story.
The man who came up with Twitter’s retweet button has likened it to “handing a four-year-old a loaded weapon”, in an interview with BuzzFeed.
Developer Chris Wetherell said no-one at Twitter had anticipated how it would alter the way people used the platform.
…He told BuzzFeed that he thought the retweet button “would elevate voices from under-represented communities”.
Previously people had to manually retweet each other by copying text and typing RT and the name of the tweeter but once the process was automated, retweeting meant popular posts quickly went viral.
While some went viral for good reasons, such as providing information about natural disasters, many others were not so benign.
Gamergate – a harassment campaign against women in the games industry – was one example of how people used the retweet to co-ordinate their attacks, Wetherell told BuzzFeed, describing it as a “creeping horror story”.
“It dawned on me that this was not some small subset of people acting aberrantly. This might be how people behave. And that scared me to death.”
(13) CRASH TEST DUMMIES? BBC wonders “Why is India sending humanoid robots into space?” Me too.
Before humans headed up there, animals were the first living creatures that were sent into space. But India will now become the first nation to fly a spacecraft with only humanoid robots. Science writer Pallava Bagla reports.
The Indian government has sanctioned $1.4bn (£1.1bn) to the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) for its first manned space flight by 2022.
…To date – using indigenously made rockets – Russia, the US and China have sent astronauts into space. If India can achieve this, it will become the fourth country to launch humans into space from its own soil.
But, unlike other nations that have carried out human space flights, India will not fly animals into space. Instead, it will fly humanoid robots for a better understanding of what weightlessness and radiation do to the human body during long durations in space.
(14) FLYING TO FEAR. A BBC video details “The Nasa astronauts on a mythical mission to Mars moon”.
Nasa is finding out how people cope with the demands of long space missions at its Human Exploration Research Analog (Hera).
For 45 days a crew of four people live in a habitat which simulates a mission to Phobos, a moon that orbits the planet Mars.
The crew carry out daily maintenance tasks on board, enjoy views of space from the capsule window and keep in contact with mission control via a five minute delay, meaning that a response to a communication takes 10 minutes.
(15) REASONS TO VOTE. Joe Sherry ranks the YA award contenders in “Reading the Hugos: Lodestar” at Nerds of a Feather.
…Generally, it takes a novel that breaks out of the YA spaces and gains visibility in some of the more SFF communities that I engage with (see, Children of Blood and Bone) or has some aspect that catches the attention of those communities (see, Dread Nation) or are beloved by commentators I deeply admire and respect (see, Tess of the Road). Also, I almost said the “wider SFF communities”, but that would not have been correct because YA publishing and readership is absolutely huge and has a significant overlap in science fiction and fantasy that should not be understated.
This is all to say that I was familiar with three of the novels on the ballot, and I was excited to read everything here to see which novels would break out into my list of new favorites. At least one, and let’s find out which….
(16) THIS IDEA COULD CRATER. Looking at both sides of the question:“Hawaii TMT: Desecrating sacred land or finding new frontiers?”
Rifts over a dormant volcano in Hawaii have resurfaced in recent days, pitting the state’s culture and history against its ambitions.
Plans for a powerful new telescope near the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano could bring in hundreds of jobs and boost science and the economy. But some native Hawaiians insist the site is sacred and that the long-planned construction should not go ahead.
Last week, protesters blocked access to the building site on Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world when measured from its underwater base. At least 33 people were arrested, given citations and released.
Hawaii’s governor has issued an “emergency proclamation” that increases powers to break up the blockade but said he wanted to find a “peaceful and satisfactory” solution for both sides.
Here, some of the people at the centre of the debate explain what Mauna Kea and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project mean to them.
(17) AUTO-BUY. Adri Joy’s faith in an author is repaid: “Microreview [Book]: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia” at Nerds of a Feather.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an author I’d follow into almost any genre, and that’s a good thing given how varied her career has been so far. From the 80’s nostalgia-heavy Signal to Noise to the romance fantasy of manners The Beautiful Ones, to the criminally underrated sci-fi novella Prime Meridian and even the editorial work she does on The Dark Magazine (a recent addition to my short fiction rounds), Garcia brings talent, nuance and a particular eye for female characters challenging overwhelming imbalances in power over the forces against them. Now, in Gods of Jade and Shadow, Moreno-Garcia brings her talents to a historic fantasy where 1920’s Jazz Age Mexico meets the gods and monsters of Mayan mythology, taking protagonist Casiopea Tun on an unexpected but long-dreamed-of adventure with a deposed Lord of the Underworld….
(18) SPLASH. The flyer from a recent Pixel tried something a lot harder — “Franky Zapata: Flyboard inventor fails in cross-Channel bid”.
A French inventor has failed in his attempt to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered flyboard.
Franky Zapata, a former jet-ski champion, had been hoping to cross from northern France to southern England in just 20 minutes.
But the 40-year-old fell into the water halfway across as he tried to land on a boat to refuel.
He took off from near Calais on Thursday morning and was heading for St Margaret’s Bay in Dover.
Mr Zapata was not injured when he fell and later announced he was planning a second bid to fly across the Channel next week.
(19) FIRE ONE. James Gleick traces the long, fictional effort to infect Earthlings with “Moon Fever” at New York Review of Books.
…The first moon landing was at once a historical inevitability and an improbable fluke. Inevitable because we had already done it so many times in our storytelling and our dreams. Astonishing, even in hindsight, because it required such an unlikely combination of factors and circumstances. “The moon, by her comparative proximity, and the constantly varying appearances produced by her several phases, has always occupied a considerable share of the attention of the inhabitants of the earth,” remarks Jules Verne in his fantastic tale From the Earth to the Moon (1865). The French fabulist imagined that the pioneers of space would be none other than Les Yankees: “They had no other ambition than to take possession of this new continent of the sky, and to plant upon the summit of its highest elevation the star-spangled banner of the United States of America.”
To get there, Verne proposed a projectile fired from a giant gun. He had probably read Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” (1835), in which a Dutchman journeys to the moon by lighter-than-air balloon and meets the inhabitants, “ugly little people, who none of them uttered a single syllable, or gave themselves the least trouble to render me assistance, but stood, like a parcel of idiots, grinning in a ludicrous manner.” Like Poe, Verne embellished his story with a great deal of plausible science involving computations of the moon’s elliptical orbit, the distances to be traveled at apogee or perigee, the diminishing force of gravitation, and the power of exploding gunpowder….
(20) FACTS AND FIGURES. BBC updates readers on “Climate change: Current warming ‘unparalleled’ in 2,000 years”.
The speed and extent of current global warming exceeds any similar event in the past 2,000 years, researchers say.
They show that famous historic events like the “Little Ice Age” don’t compare with the scale of warming seen over the last century.
The research suggests that the current warming rate is higher than any observed previously.
The scientists say it shows many of the arguments used by climate sceptics are no longer valid.
When scientists have surveyed the climatic history of our world over the past centuries a number of key eras have stood out.
These ranged from the “Roman Warm Period”, which ran from AD 250 to AD 400, and saw unusually warm weather across Europe, to the famed Little Ice Age, which saw temperatures drop for centuries from the 1300s.
The events were seen by some as evidence that the world has warmed and cooled many times over the centuries and that the warming seen in the world since the industrial revolution was part of that pattern and therefore nothing to be alarmed about.
Three new research papers show that argument is on shaky ground.
The science teams reconstructed the climate conditions that existed over the past 2,000 years using 700 proxy records of temperature changes, including tree rings, corals and lake sediments. They determined that none of these climate events occurred on a global scale.
(21) TRAILER PARK. From the novel The Future of Another Timeline, by Annalee Newitz, comes a riot grrl band called Grape Ape. They are lost to our timeline, but you can see them here in all their glory. The Future of Another Timeline comes out from Tor Books on Sept. 24, 2019.
[Thanks to rcade, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, mlex, Anthony Lewis, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS. Christopher J. Garcia and Chuck Serface are co-editing an issue of The Drink Tank dedicated to science-fiction comics of the 1950s and 1960s! Any critical articles, fanfic, personal remembrances, artwork, and any media we can publish in a fanzine are welcome.
Chuck Serface says, “Consideration of materials from any comic publisher of the time is fair game: Atlas/Marvel, DC, Gold Key, Charlton, Warren, EC, ones I’m forgetting at the moment — all of them.”
The deadline’s October 14, 2019. They’ll have it out by the end of the calendar year. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(2) COLSON WHITEHEAD Q&A. His new book is not sff, but some of his answers are about genre in “Powell’s Interview: Colson Whitehead, Author of ‘The Nickel Boys’”.
Rhianna: You’ve mentioned in other interviews being an avid reader of horror, and your novel Zone One is a zombie horror story. You’re very skilled at depicting violence. I was wondering if the horror genre has stylistically influenced the way that you depict historical atrocities, like those in The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys.
Whitehead: Again, I think the story determines how you tell it. The violence in Zone One is gorier. It’s more flamboyant than some of the stuff in The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys. In those two books, I think the horrific brutality that they experience speaks for itself. They don’t have to be dramatized.
This kind of language, I borrowed from reading the slave narratives. You don’t have to dramatize or sell to the listener or the reader how terrible everything is that is happening because it speaks for itself. If the violence is speaking for itself, I can concentrate more on the characters and what they’re feeling.
(3) TOLD WITH CONVICTION. LAist tells how “This LA Writer Turned Comic-Con Into A Crime Story”.
San Diego’s Comic-Con International starts Wednesday night, which makes this the perfect time to talk about Bad Weekend, a noir set against the backdrop of a fictionalized version of the now famous comics convention.
Writer Ed Brubaker described the graphic novel — with art by Brubaker’s longtime collaborator Sean Phillips and colors by Phillips’ son Jacob — as a weird love letter to comics, being a fan, and the strangeness of the comic book industry.
…Bad Weekend is the product of filing away stories he’s heard around the comic book industry for the past 20 to 30 years, according to Brubaker — stories of who screwed over whom, of success not bringing happiness, and of comic companies getting rich off their work with movies and TV shows without the creators sharing in that wealth.
(4) OP-EDS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] If, like me, you’ve been enjoying the New
York Times’ series of science fictional op-eds, they’ve just created a landing
page with all the articles in the series now organized in one place: “Op-Eds
From the Future”
It’s worth checking back every second Monday to see the latest installment, as they’ve been excellent so far.
(5) FILER NAMED FGOH. Chris Barkley shared on Facebook: “I am pleased to report that I was asked and accepted to be the Fan GoH at the 2021 Astronomicon in Rochester, NY along with my good friend (and Identical twin) Robert J. Sawyer.”
(6) TRANSLATED NOVEL HUGO REDUX. Chris Barkley has also addressed criticism of the Best Translated Novel Hugo category in a Facebook post which begins —
I have taken this past week to ponder a response to Neil Clarke and Taiyo Fujii’s objections to the viability of a Hugo Award category for Best Translated Novel. And frankly, their objections puzzle me.
I ask this of Mr. Fujii and to Mr. Clarke; if the three Hugos awarded to translated works are the awakening of fandom to translated literature, why haven’t more of those works been nominated in their wake? In the past three years of nominations; only 2017’s Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu, has been included in the Best Novel category, all of the other nominees in the category have all been decidedly anglocentric.
The truth of the matter we think that the Worldcon and the Hugo Awards have been overwhelmingly perceived for quite a while as an English speakers only party since a majority of the conventions have been held in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Mr. Clarke and Mr. Fujii may see the proposed award as either unnecessary, pandering or condescending to authors and fans but all Ms. Cordasco, my co-sponsors and I only want to do is shine a spotlight to fervently call attention to and honor authors and their translators. Speaking for myself, had there been three, four or five nominees on the final ballot since those historic awards, I would not have contemplated initiating and offering this proposal for an open debate…
(7) JUDGE UNCONVINCED. “Marvel Finally Beats a Lawsuit Over the ‘Iron Man 3’ Poster” – The Hollywood Reporter has the story. There does seem to be a family resemblance, just the same:
Horizon still could have gotten the case to trial, but it then needed to show an inference of copying through the similarity of the works. Specifically, Horizon argued the two works were “strikingly similar,” with reliance on an expert report discussing anatomical structures, faces and heads, and camera views.
The judge responds that the expert report is “equivocating” on some of the noteworthy similarities by addressing features on careful viewing and not going quite so far to rule out any reasonable possibility of independent creation. Plus, the judge adds, “there remain enough differences between the two works,” nodding to Marvel’s pointing out differences in pose, differing placement of blue lights, and significantly different overall coloring.
(8) SEE READERCON 30. Ellen Datlow has posted 89 photos taken at ReaderCon 30 in a Flickr album.
(9) ARE YOU WHAT YOU CONSUME? Surprising no one, here’s where The Hollywood Reporter lands on the meaning of “fan” and “fandom” — “Among Fandoms, Marvel May Reign Supreme, Poll Finds”.
A nationally representative sample of 2,200 adults carried out between July 8 and 10 revealed that, when it comes to genre properties, Marvel is far and away the most successful, with 63 percent of those surveyed considering themselves fans. The next most popular property was Marvel’s Disney sibling, Star Wars, with a 60 percent fandom, and DC followed with 59 percent.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(12) IN THE BEGINNING. The San Diego Union-Tribune explores “50 Shades of Comic-Con: What we’ve gained and lost in five decades of pop culture celebrations”.
From its inception, Comic-Con had intergalactic ambitions.
The initial show, then called San Diego’ Golden State Comic Con, featured science fiction writers Ray Bradbury and A.E. Van Vogt; Jack Kirby, creator of Captain America, X-Men and other iconic superheroes; vintage films; an art auction; and dozens of dealers peddling mountains of new and used comics.
An unforgettable event — for the 300 attendees. Few others noticed and even they dismissed this as a juvenile jamboree. For instance:
On the show’s first day, Aug. 1, 1970, the author of “Fahrenheit 451″ and “The Martian Chronicles” granted an interview to The San Diego Union. Yet Bradbury’s spirited defense of comics was buried on page B-11, under articles about a flower show, the repainting of the White House East Room and a medical brief with the headline “Fat Men More Tipsy.”
… Neil Kendricks is a writer, filmmaker and teacher who recently led a San Diego State course on comics and sequential art. In the early 1980s, though, he was a high school student at his first Comic-Con. In the dealer’s room, he bumped into a white-haired gentleman flipping through the cardboard boxes full of used comics.
“Mr. Bradbury,” he stammered, “will you be here for awhile?”
When Ray Bradbury nodded yes, Kendricks dashed out of Golden Hall and ran the half-mile to Wahrenbrock’s Book House.
“I went upstairs to the science fiction section and bought as many of his books and I could find. Then I ran all the way back and he signed them. That,” Kendricks said, “could never happen now.”
(13) UP ON CHARGES. Trae Dorn reports at Nerd & Tie that a conrunner is being prosecuted in the Twin Cities: “How to React When a Member of Your Con Staff is Accused of Rape”. Documentation accompanies the post.
On Monday it came to light that long time staffer of Twin Cities based Anime Detour Stephen Gifford has been charged with third-degree sexual assault in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Gifford was head of Convention Communications for Anime Detour’s 2019 event earlier this year, and has previously served as the event’s convention chair.
… Now we’ve seen cons react to situations like this in many ways, but thankfully Anime Detour’s staff has taken the situation seriously.
(14) KNIT ONE, PEARL TWO. While they still can, WIRED lets readers decide for themselves what to think about this coming technology: “Here’s How Elon Musk Plans to Stitch a Computer into Your Brain”.
…At a presentation at the California Academy of Sciences, hastily announced via Twitter and beginning a half hour late, Musk presented the first product from his company Neuralink. It’s a tiny computer chip attached to ultrafine, electrode-studded wires, stitched into living brains by a clever robot. And depending on which part of the two-hour presentation you caught, it’s either a state-of-the-art tool for understanding the brain, a clinical advance for people with neurological disorders, or the next step in human evolution.
The chip is custom-built to receive and process the electrical action potentials—“spikes”—that signal activity in the interconnected neurons that make up the brain. The wires embed into brain tissue and receive those spikes. And the robotic sewing machine places those wires with enviable precision, a “neural lace” straight out of science fiction that dodges the delicate blood vessels spreading across the brain’s surface like ivy.
…And, sure, there’s more. A public records request from WIRED in April 2019 found that Neuralink is licensed to have hundreds of rats and mice in its research facilities. In a seemingly unplanned moment at the Cal Academy, Musk also acknowledged that Neuralink’s research had progressed beyond rodents to non-human primates. It’s only because of a records request filed by Gizmodo that Neuralink’s affiliation with the primate research center at UC Davis is public knowledge. That affiliation has apparently progressed: “A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain, just FYI,” Musk said during the Q and A after the presentation.
His team seemed as surprised and discombobulated by the announcement as the audience. “I didn’t know we were running that result today, but there it goes,” said Max Hodak, president of the company, on stage next to Musk. (Monkeys have controlled computers via BCIs before, though presumably this would be the first time one used Neuralink.)
(15) APOLLO 11 AT 50 CLIPPINGS.
One small holograph for man, one giant holograph for the Washington Monument.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with a life-size projection of the Saturn V rocket on the Washington Monument on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Saturn V rocket is now iconic for carrying the Apollo 11 crew to the moon in 1969. The projection-mapping artwork will occupy 363 of the monument’s 555 vertical feet.
As the 17th century’s most famous Italian astronomer surveyed the heavens, he likely never dreamed a rocket shooting fire would one day power people up among the stars he eyed through his telescope, or that his work would help guide a ship to the moon.
But Galileo Galilei’s observations would become a key link in the chain of scientific research and discovery fundamental to our understanding of the universe and our drive to explore it.
That scientific continuum is at the heart of a new Houghton Library exhibit connecting early celestial calculations to the Apollo 11 mission that put two American astronauts on the lunar surface 50 years ago this July. “Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Apollo 11 at Fifty” features gems from Harvard’s collection of rare books and manuscripts as well as NASA artifacts from an anonymous lender and Harvard alumnus, many of which were aboard the spaceship that left Earth’s orbit in 1969.
Not all of the equipment carried into space was cutting edge and expensive. Some of the more humble odds and ends even prevented disaster.
…25: Length of duct tape rolls carried to the Moon, in feet
If there’s one saviour time and again of American space missions over the past 50 years, it’s a roll of duct tape. During Apollo missions, it was used for everything from taping down switches and attaching equipment inside the spacecraft, to fixing a tear on a spacesuit and, during Apollo 17, a fender on the lunar rover.
One of the surviving crew members of the first manned mission to the Moon – Apollo 11 – has returned to the site where the mission set off 50 years ago.
Michael Collins, 88, visited Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday. He marked theprecise time – 09:32 (13:32 GMT) – when their rocket took off.
Mr Collins had stayed in lunar orbit while his colleagues Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon.
…Mr Collins described how he felt during take-off.
“The shockwave from the rocket power hits you,” he told Nasa TV. “Your whole body is shaking. This gives you an entirely… different concept of what power really means.”
…Esquire was not expecting much from Neil Armstrong.
“While the space program is poised on the brink of a truly epoch-making triumph of engineering, it is also headed for a rhetorical train wreck,” the story said.
“The principal danger is not that we will lose the life of an astronaut on the Moon, but that the astronauts will murder English up there . . . . That they are likely to litter the intergalactic void with gibberish and twaddle.”
The smugness is rather remarkable, because despite the talent of the people it enlisted, Esquire got not a single decent line from any of them.
It got, in fact, a lot of gibberish and twaddle.
…With that as your benchmark, here’s a sampling of what Esquire’s best and brightest came up with:
John Kenneth Galbraith, the Harvard economist: “We will hafta pave the damn thing.”
Ayn Rand, libertarian thinker and novelist: “What hath man wrought!”
…Leonard Nimoy, the actor, then in his third season as Spock on the new TV series Star Trek: “I’d say to Earth, from here you are a peaceful, beautiful ball and I only wish everyone could see it with that perspective and unity.”
(16) BACK SEAT FLYING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Washington Post: “Airline tweets about where passengers are least likely to die in a crash”. The pic below is cribbed from the WaPo article. Apparently, they got ahold of a screenshot of the since-deleted tweet. The thought process of whoever sent this out must have been, well, let’s just call it astounding.
(17) A KING WILL BE CROWNED. Looper fills us in about The Most Anticipated Sci Fi Movies Of 2020.
2020 might feel far away, but Hollywood’s major studios are already planning ahead with some legit super hits on the horizon. And if you’re a fan of sci-fi flicks, then 2020’s looking like an especially good year for you. These are just a few of the most anticipated sci-fi blockbusters on their way to a big screen near you. Film fans will finally get the answer to an age-old question in 2020, when Godzilla and King Kong face off on the big screen. Director Adam Wingard has already assured fans that his take on the two monsters will crown a definitive winner, unlike the 1962 film that first pit the two characters against each other. This will be the fourth entry in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, first established in 2014’s Godzilla and further explored in Kong: Skull Island.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
Editor’s note: Although I have been at this computer all day it’s included writing other posts, so a lot of good links will need to be carried over til tomorrow!
(1) AGAIN PLEASE. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a sequel to the Emily Blunt-Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow is happening. Original director Doug Liman and both stars are returning for the second movie:
Edge of Tomorrow was based on the Hiroshi Sakurazaka manga All You Need Is Kill, and somewhat controversially, was rebranded as its tagline Live. Die. Repeat. on home entertainment. The film was not considered a runaway hit commercially, making $370 million globally on a $178 budget, but it was a success with critics and has grown in popularity over the years on home entertainment. Liman, Cruise and Blunt continue to get asked about sequel possibilities in interviews, and have all spoken publicly about their interest in returning.
(2) VOTE FOR BOTH. Catherynne Valente tweeted extensively about the indie/trad worlds today. Not in a thread, here are some of the things she said —
(3) DIALOGUE. Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and Annie Bellet exchanged tweets today. (Unfortunately, in cases like this WordPress reproduces pairs of tweets, leading to unintended repetition of the message replied to.)
(The “he” in the last tweet is Jonathan Brazee.)
(4) RACISM? Mary Anne Mohanraj raised the question of whether the recent Nebula Awards controversy includes an element of racism in a public Facebook post:
Please imagine that you are a newer writer from Sri Lanka, a brown man from a small island country with a *tiny* publishing industry, a man who has recently been notified that you’ve received a Nebula nomination. You are, of course, over the moon with excitement. You are perhaps scrambling to figure out if there’s any way you can afford the exorbitant cost of a ticket to get to the Nebulas from Sri Lanka (keeping in mind exchange rates as well, which makes said ticket cost ten times as it much as it would for an American traveling to Sri Lanka). It’s going to be hard, but still, overall, you’re so very happy. It is wonderful news, that the largely American-dominated SF/F publishing scene might actually be open to someone like you.
Then some random white lady (random as far as you know, because you aren’t actually up on the minutiae and history of a particular award in another country halfway across the world) starts yelling on Twitter about the nominations, and specifically, about the fact that you and a few other people got nominated…
…Some people in the field have been sharply critical of one of the nominated authors being what they see as condescending in his response to Bellet. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. But he definitely wasn’t swearing back at her — he was, in my opinion, incredibly restrained, considering the flood of vituperative abuse Bellet was hurling at him, at the other nominees, and at the people who nominated them.
Now look. Bellet went through a very rough time, and it’s perhaps understandable that she might come out swinging, and swearing. I’m not going to condemn her for that, necessarily, though I think she misread the situation to some extent. Marko Kloos went through a similarly rough decision then, and he deserves slack on this too.
But EVERYBODY else? They could take the time to read and research a little before leaping in on her side against someone they knew nothing about. Is this what we are in the field? A mob that will leap to the defense of one of our own, regardless of the rightness of her cause?
I don’t actually think Bellet meant to be racist — she didn’t single out the Sri Lankan writer. But it is easy to see how it looked that way to people on the other side of the planet.
There are a host of Sri Lankan writers now wondering if THIS is what science fiction publishing is in America. There are already some of them convinced that this was a racist attack against a brown-skinned writer. They are wondering if the field really is as racist as it seems.
Many of them believe this is emblematic of a field and an industry that WE ALL KNOW still has incredibly large disparities in who gets to get published. No matter how loudly we shout #weneeddiversebooks and talk about supporting #ownvoices. I have spent several HOURS in the last few days talking them down, and I cannot blame them for leaping to that conclusion when they are met with such violent language, and such immediate closing of ranks.
N.K. Jemisin made this comment in responset:
Mary Anne, I have a lot of sympathy for the Sri Lankan writer (not sure why we’re not mentioning his name, but I’ll adhere to your convention here). That said, in the scenario you’re asking me to imagine, I would not have rolled in the way he did. Upon seeing an established writer showing every sign of being really pissed off about some past incident — she mentions the Puppies, etc. — I would be diplomatic and at least try to figure out why she’s so upset before immediately leaping to the conclusion that it’s specifically about me. This guy wasn’t diplomatic. He was condescending and there’s no maybe about it. (Among other things, he called her a petulant child for being angry, which feels to me like a one-two combo of tone policing and chauvanism, because I don’t often hear men getting called children just for dropping f-bombs.) I think it’s a misread of the situation to say that Bellet was yelling *at him,* at least initially. It seemed clear enough to me that she was angry with whoever had created and pushed the slate. She never said anything different.
Now granted, I might be more sympathetic to her because my first reaction to finding out about the whole thing was a lot of swearing on Twitter, too! But after reading your post, I’m left trying to figure out what you’re advocating, here, as a better way to have handled it. Are you asking for people still smarting from a recent past incident to not express anger about a fresh trigger? That feels like a lot to ask. For people angry about group wrongdoing to not single out the writers of color? She didn’t, as you note; things only got ugly after he got snitty with her, to start. For people angry about group wrongdoing to consider how it feels to be a newbie caught up in the mess? There’s no one who would understand that better than Bellet and Kloos, and I read their initial anger as anger *on behalf of* the newbies, not *at* them.
I am 100% supportive of more writers of color coming into this field! More writers from other countries, esp SE Asia! All in. But this guy jumped into what was essentially an ongoing conversation about the past few years’ worth of stuff, and reacted as if it was about him, personally. That’s not a misread on Bellet and Kloos’ parts.
Personally, I think this whole business is the result of a culture clash: anything-goes indie writers versus a (indie and tradpub) community that at least *thinks* of itself as merit-focused. The anything-goes writers really should’ve done some field research before they jumped in and tried to plant a flag on merit-focused ground; this mess is the result. I think this writer’s interaction with Bellet is a microcosmic example of the overall problem.
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(7) WHAT SHAKESPEARE READ. Fascinating research — “Plagiarism Software Unveils a New Source for 11 of Shakespeare’s Plays” in the New York Times.
“If it proves to be what they say it is, it is a once-in-a-generation — or several generations — find,” said Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.
The findings were made by Dennis McCarthy and June Schlueter, who describe them in a book to be published next week by the academic press D. S. Brewer and the British Library. The authors are not suggesting that Shakespeare plagiarized but rather that he read and was inspired by a manuscript titled “A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels,” written in the late 1500s by George North, a minor figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth, who served as an ambassador to Sweden.
(8) PICKING A RESPONSE. Hillary Monahan discusses a now-commonplace social media dilemma. Thread starts here.
(9) ANOTHER THING LARRY CORREIA IS SENSITIVE TO. Larry Correia read that Kosoko Jackson pulled his book and issued an apology for having offended people (see details in the Reason.com article linked by yesterday’s Scroll). Jackson’s work as a sensitivity reader seems to have inspired Corriea’s Monster Hunter Nation response — “’Sensitivity Readers’ Are Bullshit, and You Are A Sucker If You Believe Them” [Internet Archive link]. Of course, Correia thinks the very idea of sensitivity is bullshit, and you’d be mistaken if you thought this was supposed to be a defense of Jackson.
…Note, these Sensitivity Readers are always the typical progressive buzzword vultures, looking for racist/sexist/homophobic microaggressions, because it’s pretty obvious to anyone who has ever read a book from mainstream publishing that they don’t give a shit about offending any other group… Or even getting their basic facts right about anybody who isn’t Team Blue.
Seriously, I specifically set MHI in Alabama because of how sick and tired I was of how southerners are always portrayed as ignorant redneck hicks in most fiction. And I’m a westerner (though I lived there long enough Alabamans adopted me). Where are the “Sensitivity Readers” for combat vets? Where are the “Sensitivity Readers” for Christians? Or gun-nuts? (holy shit, these people are bad at writing action scenes, so they really could use that one)
(10) THE HECK YOU SAY. Mashable has some thoughts about the new “red band” (mature audiences only) trailer for the Hellboy reboot (“‘Hellboy’ unleashes apocalyptic trailer with monsters and blood aplenty”). Check out their opinion at that link, or skip right to the trailer on YouTube. In either case, get ready to rock out to some Deep Purple… OK, a Deep Purple cover band. The movie is set for a 12 April release.
(11) WHERE TO GET YOUR CLICKS. Juan Sanmiguel asked:
It means that after reading my latest post a Filer hasn’t completely given up hope that somebody will come along and write something interesting!
(12) HE SHRIEKED. Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! and witnessed this:
Answer: This Edith Hull bestseller about forbidden love in the desert became a 1921 film starring Rudolph Valentino.
Wrong question: “What is ‘The Thief of Baghdad’?”
[Thanks to JJ, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Rob Thornton, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
AudioFile, a print and ezine, reviews audiobooks to “recommend good listening, top-notch performances and dynamic listening experiences.” The editors annually honor their choices of the best audiobooks across a variety of categories.
This year File 770 is partnering with AudioFile to announce the winners of the 2018 Best of Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror Audiobooks. They are listed here with links to the AudioFile reviews. To see the winners in all the other categories, page through the AudioFile 2018 Best Audiobooks ezine.
2018 Best of SCI-FI, FANTASY & HORROR Audiobooks
ARMISTICE by Lara Elena Donnelly, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
SPACE OPERA by Catherynne M. Valente, read by Heath Miller
SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik, read by Lisa Flanagan
THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King, read by Will Patton
THE POPPY WAR by R.F. Kuang, read by Emily Woo Zeller
WHO IS THE BLACK PANTHER? by Jesse J. Holland, read by Ken Jackson and a Full Cast
Exclusive Narrator Videos on YouTube
(1) PETER BEAGLE’S UNICORN. The Atlantic celebrates 50 years in print for The Last Unicorn, “One of the Best Fantasy Novels Ever Is Nothing Like The Lord of the Rings“.
Beagle frequently subverts fantasy tropes. Prince Lir tries to win the unicorn’s heart by deeds of derring-do, but she is unimpressed. In fact, Lir does not end up with the unicorn. And in the novel, mortality is preferable to immortality; Haggard, who quests after immortality, is defeated. Schmendrick’s greatest wish is to end the curse of immortality placed on him by his mentor. The unicorn, in a brief brush with mortality, gains the ability to regret, and she is better off for it. In The Last Unicorn, it’s the earthly things, the things that make one human, that are the things worth having.
(2) KOBE’S HOLLYWOOD. In “The Revisionist”, the Washington Post’s Kent Babb reports that Kobe Bryant is hiring a staff to develop his fantasy world, known as “Granity.” A podcast about the fantasy world, “The Punies,” currently exists and YA novels and an animated series are in development.
In Bryant’s office, “affixed to panels are renderings of maps and terms from ‘Granity,’ Bryant’s imaginary world that’s not unlike the Marvel Universe or George R.R. Martin’s Westeros. There are sketches and meticulously designed artifacts that seem to make sense only in Bryant’s mind:gods of emotions, stories that blend fantasy and sports, that eternal battle not between good and evil but between love and fear.”
Also, “inside the safe in the closet (in his house) are his three most prized possessions: a first-edition Harry Potter signed by J.K. Rowling, a series of autographed books by George R.R. Martin, the ‘Dear Basketball’ score signed by John Williams.”
“If you look at all the potential stories — how the home is constructed, the family that lives there — there are infinite possibilities,” he says, and the notion struck him so profoundly, so personally, that in that moment he began imagining a fictional world in which his ideas could take shape. He would call that world “Granity,” and existing there would be characters who — like some of Bryant’s favorites: Darth Vader, Severus Snape, Jaime Lannister — are horrifying at times, charming at others.
As this flight begins its descent, he suggests no compelling character is entirely good or bad; that a storyteller’s duty is to draw out the full story and take every belief, emotion and motivation into account.
“You have things within you that are festering,” he says. “We all do.”
(3) MORE OLD PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll turns the geezer panel loose on “The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery by Catherynne M. Valente”. Can they dig it?
And so we reach the end of the first half of this project with The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery by Catherynne M. Valente. First published in issue #200 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Master Peek was a finalist for the 2017 Eugie Foster Memorial Award. This, in fact, is why I selected it. But will my readers agree with the taste of the Foster jury?
(4) THE FUTURE KING IN YELLOW. In “Some Achieve Greatness” at Doctor Strangemind, Kim Huett revisits the youth of a well-known sff author. Can you guess who it is before he tells you?
Let me quote from a speech made at the 1983 Disclave by one of the authors attending that con (for the record the text of this speech was reprinted in Bill Bower’s fanzine, Outworlds #34). Our mystery author begins thus:
I have been to Disclave before. Once. That was why I was so pleased when Alan Huff asked me to come east. Because it so happens that I attended the 1971 Disclave, and it so happens that it was my very first SF convention.
Interesting… Go on mystery author:
Maybe a few of you were here in ’71 too. If so, maybe you remember me. I looked a little different back then. My hair was shoulder length, just like everyone else’s, but I was still clean-shaven, I didn’t stop shaving until 1974. Even then, I was a snappy dresser. In fact, I was a hell of a lot snappier. As I recall, I wore my Psychedelic Hippie Pimp outfit to the con: ankle boots with zippers, burgundy bell-bottoms, a bright solid green tapered body shirt, a black satin scarf, and — the piece de resistance — my famous double-breasted pin-striped mustard-yellow sports jacket. Perhaps now you veterans recall me. I was the one wandering around the con suite doing permanent retinal damage
(5) EXOPLANET HUNTER. Engadget keeps watch as “NASA bids Kepler ‘goodnight’ with last set of commands”:
Farewell, planet hunter. Last night, the @NASAKepler space telescope received its final set of commands to disconnect communications with Earth. The “goodnight” commands were sent on the anniversary of the death of the mission’s namesake, Johannes Kepler: https://t.co/dhUCmKmvqW pic.twitter.com/TKkSk0EQ7C
— NASA Kepler and K2 (@NASAKepler) November 16, 2018
(6) FLOGGING IT TO THE FINISH LINE. There’s a theory that “George R.R. Martin Is Now ‘In Hiding’ To Finish ‘Winds Of Winter’”.
The Winds of Winter has turned into a real pickle — an ambitious monster that he says is “not so much a novel as a dozen novels, each with a different protagonist, each having a different cast of supporting players, antagonists, allies and lovers around them, and all of these weaving together against the march of time in an extremely complex fashion. So it’s very, very challenging.”
But he’s really hunkering down now, and that fact should chill his legions of impatient fans. After all, he’s said that he finished A Dance with Dragons by disappearing “in a bunker,” so this may simply be business as usual.
(7) JUST LIKE THE HUGOS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In something of a first, ranked choice voting (which should be familiar to Hugo voters) has made a difference in a US House election. (CNN: “Democrats flip another House seat after ranked-choice runoff in Maine”). Current Representative Bruce Poliquin received a small plurality over challenger Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd District—46.2% to 45.6%, with the remaining 8.2% split between two other candidates.
However, since no candidate had achieved a majority, Maine’s new ranked choice voting system kicked in. After progressively eliminating the fourth and third place candidates and redistributing their votes to each voter’s second choices, Golden pulled ahead and ended up winning by about one percentage point (50.5% to 49.5%).
Poliquin had sought a temporary restraining order to prevent counting the ranked-choice votes, calling into question the constitutionality of this sort of voting system. The process was put in place in Maine when voters approved a referendum in 2016, and this appears to be its first big test. Poliquin has pledged to continue his legal challenge of the constitutionality of ranked choice voting.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
(9) WORDS MATTER. Never thought of it that way.
I mean, credit to Doctor Doom, FOOLS is a gender neutral way to address an entire room.
— Max the comics guy who does comics about comics (@amadcartoonist) November 17, 2018
(10) UNDERSTANDING CAMPBELL. It’s the LA Times’ turn to review Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee. Scott Bradfield does the honors in “John W. Campbell, a chief architect of science fiction’s Golden Age, was as brilliant as he was problematic”.
These stories were written, or published and conceived into existence, by the undoubtedly great and incomprehensibly peculiar John W. Campbell Jr., who single-handedly designed many of the ways we saw the future then and continue to see it now. Born in Newark, N.J., in 1910, he was raised by combative parents who embodied the extremes of their son’s divided personality: his father, an engineer with Bell Telephone, stressed rationality, planning and control over emotions, while his mother was a wild, tantrum-prone woman who couldn’t be controlled so much as fought “to a draw.” After their divorce, Campbell grew up, like many writers, unhappy, lonely and distressed; he often felt like a disappointment to his father, and his mother’s unpredictable cruelties instilled in him a deep sense of panic about a world that couldn’t be adequately rationalized or controlled.
…Despite an aimless early life, Campbell eventually stumbled onto the job he was born to do — long before anybody realized it was a job worth doing. Until Campbell came along, the pulps were edited by company men who felt little if any personal affection for the stories they published. But in 1937, when Campbell accepted the editor’s chair at Astounding Stories (which he quickly renamed Astounding Science Fiction), he became the first SF fan to shape the genre he loved; and almost immediately he discovered that exploring futuristic ideas for his stories was not nearly so pleasurable as passing those ideas onto others. “When I was a writer,” he told his youthful discovery, Isaac Asimov, “I could only write one story at a time. Now I can write fifty stories at a time.”
(11) ORIGIN EPISODES AVAILABLE. YouTube’s Origin follows a group of passengers lost in space— each of them desperate to escape their past. In the first episode —
The passengers wake up on board the Origin, abandoned in space. They search for other survivors, but find something else entirely.
In the second episode —
A tense showdown prompts a difficult decision. Shun and Lana realise that the threat could be nearer than any of them thought.
(12) IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS. Some sff goodies available now on eBay –
(13) BIG-TICKET ITEM. Or you may need to save your spare change for this iconic outfit: “Skimpy Star Trek costume worn by Captain James T. Kirk for the first inter-racial kiss on TV is set to sell for £46k”.
A Star Trek costume worn by captain James T. Kirk for the first inter-racial kiss on TV goes under the hammer with an estimate of £46,000 in California next month.
The Grecian robe, right, was worn when actor William Shatner embraced Lieutenant Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols, in the 1968 episode Plato’s Stepchildren.
(14) FROZEN GAME ON THE HORIZON. “Disney deepens its footprint in mobile gaming, teams up with game publisher Jam City” – CNBC has the story.
Walt Disney entered a multi-year games development partnership with leading mobile gaming company Jam City, continuing the Mouse House’s foray into gaming and heightening expectations over the booming sector.
Under the terms of a deal announced last week, Jam City will be taking over the Glendale, California-based mobile game studio in charge of Disney’s “Emoji Blitz” – a hugely popular mobile game Disney released in July 2016.
The deal also means that Jam City now holds the rights to develop new games based on elements from Disney’s Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studio brands. The first planned collaboration between the two companies is expected to be a game based on Disney’s “Frozen” sequel.
(15) BORN UNDER LEO. Low Earth Orbit could be about to get a lot more crowded. SpaceX has an ambitious plan to put a very large constellation of LEO satellites to handle internet traffic. They’d already gotten approval to emplace thousands of them, and have recently gotten FCC approval for the remainder (The Verge: “FCC approves SpaceX’s plan to launch more than 7,000 internet-beaming satellites”). Several hurdles remain, of course.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX’s request to launch a constellation of 7,518 satellites into orbit, a major regulatory hurdle the company needed to clear in its plans to provide internet coverage from space. The approval is in addition to one that SpaceX received from the FCC in March for a constellation of 4,425 satellites. That means the company now has permission to launch its full satellite internet constellation called Starlink, which adds up to nearly 12,000 spacecraft.
[…] SpaceX’s approvals are conditional, though. In order to bring each mega-constellation into full use, the company needs to launch half of the satellites within the next six years. That means the clock is ticking to get nearly 6,000 satellites into orbit by 2024. SpaceX says it will launch its first batch of Starlink satellites in 2019.
So far, SpaceX has only launched two test satellites for the constellation — TinTin A and B. […]
Above all, it’s clear that the satellites in these large constellations will need to be taken out of orbit — reliably and on time — in order to keep the space environment a safe place for spacecraft to operate. In a recent study, NASA estimated that 99 percent of these satellites will need to be taken out of orbit within five years of launch. Otherwise the risk of in-space collisions will increase dramatically.
(16) THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Saturday Night Live proves you can hear laughter in space.
An unexpected chain of events occurs while Captain Ed McGovern (Steve Carell) live streams from the International Space Station to children’s classrooms across America.
[Thanks to JJ, Paul Weimer, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
(1) VISIONS OF WFC 44. Ellen Datlow’s photos from World Fantasy Con 2018 are up on Flickr.
(2) DESIGNING WAKANDA. Black Panther designer Hannah Beachler spoke to the CityLab Detroit conference about what went into designing the capital city of Wakanda for the blockbuster movie. Social responsibility and connection to culture were critical in her designs of everything from street plans to public transit — “The Social Responsibility of Wakanda’s Golden City” at CityLab.
… It took ten months and 500 pages to design Golden City, the thriving Afrofuturist capital of Wakanda. The result is a stunning, complex metropolis that has delighted urbanist nerds and city-dwellers alike. Behind it all is Beachler, a production designer whose job is to act as “cinematic architect” and to create the “landscape of a story.”
…“You know what’s keeping us together: the connectivity of people, not the connectivity of users. We’re not users; we’re people, but we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re users,” she said. “So I took all of that, and I just chucked it out of Wakanda, because the people were the most important thing about it, and we’re forgetting it. And I think that’s why people responded to Wakanda on this massive level: people.”
(3) BOOK BUCKET BRIGADE. “A Store Had to Move Thousands of Books. So a Human Chain Was Formed” – the New York Times has the story:
The plea went out a few weeks ago from the bookstore in a port city in southern England: “Care to lend a hand?”
Volunteers were needed for “heavy manual work” in shifts. It was “essential” that they be able to lift and carry boxes and office supplies. Among the supplies: thousands upon thousands of books.
The appeal from October Books, a nonprofit that began 40 years ago as a “radical” bookshop, came after a rent increase forced it from its old home in Southampton, Jess Haynes, a member of the collective and one of the few paid employees, said on Wednesday.
The shop was looking to move lock, stock and barrel about 150 meters (just under 500 feet) to a three-story building that used to house a bank. Would anybody respond to the call for help?
This past Sunday, the bookstore got more than a helping hand — it got hundreds. A human chain began forming from the old October Books stockroom, snaking past 54 doors to the new building. The shop stopped counting after about 250 people showed up…
(4) GLASS UNIVERSE. Dava Sobel, the author of Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, will be talking about her latest book The Glass Universe in the Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory (in Laurel, Maryland) on Friday, November 9 at 2 p.m. This talk is open to the public held at the Parsons auditorium (directions here). A summary of the talk is below (taken from this link):
Edward Pickering, who took over as director of the Harvard College Observatory in 1877, was a physicist, not an astronomer. Pickering quickly moved to expand activities beyond determining the positions of stars and the orbits of asteroids, moons, and comets. He invented new instruments for studying stellar brightness to help quantify the changes in variable stars. He introduced photography as a boon to celestial mapping and a key to characterizing the spectra of stars. The images that Pickering began amassing on glass plates in the late 19th century came to number in the hundreds of thousands and are currently being digitized to preserve their enduring value. Their abundance of pictures necessitated a special building to house them and a large team of assistants – nearly all women – to analyze them.
Pickering’s glass universe gave these women the means to make discoveries that still resonate today. Williamina Fleming, Antonia Maury, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon, and Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin, the most famous members of the group, all played a part in the early development of astrophysics.
(5) BABY. Heath Miller and Cat Valente share their parental discoveries:
Attending Worldcon in 2010 & meeting a girl? $200. Moving 15,000+ miles to be with her? $2500. Cost of having a baby in America? You Don’t Want To Know. Unwrapping baby’s swaddle at 6am to discover his mother has secretly changed his outfit in the night? Priceless. pic.twitter.com/mcx1oQAJZR
— Hellbound Heath Miller (@veryheathmiller) November 5, 2018
Baby hates silence.
Baby LOVES loud action movies played through the subwoofer. Goes right to sleep, happy as a little bear.
Welp. Guess it's gonna be a John Mclane Christmas. And Thanksgiving.
— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) November 4, 2018
(6) OPIE’S SPACE PROGRAM. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] At the Beeb (no, not this one), Science Editor Paul Rincon talked to Ron Howard, who was wearing his Executive Producer hat for the National Geographic series, Mars (Ron Howard: Creating vision of a future Mars colony). Season 2 begins 11 November.
“When I first began the series a couple of years ago, I thought it was a great idea to do an adventure about going to Mars and we should make it as real as we possibly could,” Mr Howard says.
“But I wasn’t sure I believed in the idea of going to Mars. I knew I believed in the idea of space exploration… and any show that advocated that was making a statement that was healthy and positive for human beings – to inspire their imaginations to look outward.
“But as I have gone through the process of working on the show and interviewing some of the big thinkers, I now really do believe in it strategically – I don’t mean that from a military standpoint, I mean it from the point of the ongoing evolution of the human species… I not only believe it’s viable, I’m a big supporter.”
Season one of Mars followed the crew of the spacecraft Daedalus, as the astronauts attempted to create a pioneer settlement on the Red Planet in 2033. Season two is set nine years later and follows the fortunes of the first fully-fledged colony. The script tackles the everyday challenges of the settlers, including the first births on the Red Planet, outbreaks of disease and mechanical breakdowns.
(7) ARMSTRONG AUCTION RESULTS. NBC News totes up the results: “Neil Armstrong memorabilia fetches $7.5 million at auction”.
Dallas-based Heritage Auctions says the item that sold for the highest price, $468,500, at Saturday’s auction was Armstrong’s spacecraft ID plate from Apollo 11’s lunar module Eagle. Also sold were a fragment from the propeller and a section of the wing from the Wright brothers’ Flyer, the first heavier-than-air self-powered aircraft, which each sold for $275,000.
The flight suit Armstrong wore aboard Gemini 8, the 1966 mission that performed the first docking of two spacecraft in flight, brought the astronaut’s family $109,375.
(a) In a separate auction, a gold-colored Navy aviator’s helmet once owned by John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, sold for $46,250.
(b) It appears there were some flown artifacts in the Armstrong auction (but not the Glenn auction)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
(10) MALIBU TREK. Deadline found a home on the market with some celebrity history in its own right: “‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Home For Sale In Malibu, Part Of ‘The Survivors’ Episode”.
(a) House is listed for $5.695 million
(b) This appears to be the listing — https://www.coldwellbankerhomes.com/ca/malibu/27553-pacific-coast-hwy/pid_27011186/
(c) A photo from that listing is:
(11) LOOKING FOR THE GOLDEN AGE. David M. Barnett (@davidmbarnett) of the UK-based Independent newspaper uses Alec Nevala-Lee’s Astounding as a jumping-off point to explore the ongoing diversification of science fiction authorship and audiences. In “Out of this world: The rise and fall of Planet Sci-fi’s ‘competent man’” he offers a perspective on John W. Campbell’s legacy, both negative and positive, and puts recent events in science fiction fandom in context for a popular audience. Registration required.
Campbell was what he was, and he did what he did. He didn’t create science fiction, nor did he own it. It was an important period in history, but one that has passed. Science fiction today is new and wondrous and inclusive, and perhaps, in years to come, historians will be referring to this, not the Campbell era, as the true Golden Age.
(12) APOCALYPSE TUESDAY. The Rumpus says this is “What to Read When the World Is Ending”. A few sff works made the list.
…The above cataloguing of recent atrocities isn’t exhaustive. If the world isn’t truly ending, it’s certainly in the midst of several significant crisis. And in moments of crises, we at The Rumpus find solace in, and draw strength from, literature. Below is a list of books our editors think are especially appropriate to read right now, in this fraught political moment….
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okrafor
In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means “Who fears death?” in an ancient language. Even as a child, Onye manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.
(13) ARE YOU TRACKING WITH ME? There will be a Traincon to the 2019 NASFiC / Westercon / 1632 Minicon happening in Layton, UT next July. Well, two Traincons might be more accurate, since organizers want to have one running to the con from Chicago and another from the San Francisco Bay Area (and return). More information at the link.
Join your fellow fans on Amtrak for the trip to Spikecon and then back home. We’ll have fun on the train, getting together periodically to discuss SF, the con, or anything that comes to mind. Games and filk, too, if anyone is so inclined – all with old friends and new. While you’re at it, don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The train from the Bay Area (Traincon West) crosses the Sierra Nevada, the one from Chicago (Traincon East) crosses the spectacular Rockies, both in full daylight.
There will be no group reservation for this Traincon; members will need to make their own individual Amtrak reservations; early reservations are recommended for the best prices…..
The organizers are Bill Thomasson and Nancy Alegria.
(14) HOTEL WATCHING IN NZ. The Comfort Hotel in Wellington (venue for some recent NZ NatCon’s and about a km from WorldCon venues) will be renamed and refurbished.
Renovations for the 115-room Comfort Hotel will begin after March 2019 with expected completion at the end of that year, for rebranding as Naumi Heritage Wellington.
The Quality Hotel renovations will also be completed about the same time, and be rebranded as Naumi Suites Wellington with 62 rooms.
…The theme of the hotel refurbishments in Wellington will be “romantic Edwardian age meets literary bohemian”, according to a Naumi media statement – “a space that embraces diversity and steadfastly refuses to be boring”.
(15) LOVE OFF THE CLOCK. SYFY Wire’s “FanGrrls” columnist Alyssa Fiske extols “The appeal of the time-travel romance”:
While some may accuse the genre of being formulaic (fools), romance does indeed have some of the greatest tropes of any kind of story. Enemies to lovers, fake dating becoming real, the good old “oh no there’s only one bed in this hotel room I guess we have to share,” all of these tropes are at once familiar and thrilling. The building blocks may be the same, but each swoony outcome has its own sense of magic.
In particular, time travel and other time-related complications pop up again and again. Whether they’re communicating via time bending mailbox (The Lake House), kept apart by centuries as a plastic centurion (Doctor Who), or powered by genetic anomalies both charming (About Time) and devastating (The Time Traveler’s Wife), this obstacle has long been a popular stalwart in the romantic canon.
(16) GHOST MOONS. NBC News goes for the clicks with its headline “‘Ghost moons’ discovered in orbit around Earth”. These are patches of “dust” at the Earth-Moon L4 & L5 (Lagrange) points
Astronomers in Hungary say they’ve detected a pair of what some call “ghost moons” orbiting our planet not far from the moon we all know.
The hazy clouds of dust — tens of thousands of miles across but too faint to be seen with the naked eye — were first detected almost 60 years ago by a Polish astronomer, Kazimierz Kordylewski. But the patches of light he found were too indistinct to convince some scientists that the clouds were really there, and the existence of the “Kordylewski clouds” has long been a matter of controversy.
Now the astronomers, Gabor Horvath and Judit Sliz-Balogh of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, have obtained clear evidence of the clouds using a specially equipped telescope in a private observatory in western Hungary.
(17) MORE IMPORTANT — IRON OUTSIDE OR IRON INSIDE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] At the A.V. Club, Tom Breihan is considering “the most important superhero movie of every year” in a series entitled “Age of Heroes.” Breihan is up to 2008 and asks, “Does the most important year for superhero movies belong to The Dark Knight or Iron Man?”
Midway through Christopher Nolan’s 2008 movie The Dark Knight, the Joker gets himself arrested so that he can then break out of his holding cell and continue his grand experiment in human darkness. While he’s locked up, he’s placed in the custody of the Major Crimes Unit, the police force that’s supposedly been devoted to locking up Batman. In the movie, people keep referring to the Major Crimes Unit as the MCU. As in: “There’s a problem at the MCU!” Watching it today, you might hurt your neck doing double-takes at those initials every time. The Dark Knight, as it happens, came out at the last moment that “MCU” could possibly refer to anything related to Batman.
Today, of course, we know the MCU as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the steamrolling blockbuster-generating engine that has become the dominant commercial force in all of moviemaking. It was never a given that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would work. By the time the people at Marvel got around to establishing their own movie studio, they’d already sold off the rights to many of their most-famous characters: Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four. Only the relative dregs were left over, and nobody knew whether a relatively minor character like Iron Man could anchor a whole movie, let alone a franchise. It was a gamble.
It was a gamble, too, to cast Robert Downey Jr., a faded star who’d spent years battling his personal demons. […]
Breihan lavishes much praise on Iron Man and notes how well it set up much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that followed, but in the end he picks The Dark Knight as the more important movie. His reasoning may surprise you and you may or may not agree with it. In part, he say:
[…] The Dark Knight made money, too; it was the highest-grossing movie of 2008. But it didn’t just make money. It was, in its moment, widely hailed as something resembling a masterpiece. When, for instance, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences failed to nominate The Dark Knight for a Best Picture Oscar, there was such a wide public outcry that the Academy changed its roles to allow for more nominees. That is an impact.
It should probably be noted that Breihan doesn’t believe The Dark Knight actually was a masterpiece, but that doesn’t diminish the impact such a perception may have had in the moment. Some of Breihan’s highest praise goes to Heath Ledger’s performance (sadly, his last) as the Joker.
[…] Ledger is legitimately disgusting: dirty and scarred-up, with yellow teeth and a tongue that’s constantly darting in and out of his mouth, like a lizard’s. But he’s magnetic, too. He tells different stories about his scars, just so we’ll know that he’s always lying. He confounds criminals as badly as he does police. He dances his way through a hospital explosion and intimidates a roomful of mob bosses. His voice—the best description I can manage is a tweaked-out Richard Nixon impression—is chilling and alien. And he seems to be in love with Batman in ways that make even Batman uncomfortable: “Don’t talk like you’re one of them. You’re not.”
Besides Iron Man and The Dark Knight, Breihan devotes a fat paragraph to a handful of other superhero movies from 2008, plus a sentence or two to several others. Finally, he promises a look at 2009’s Watchmen in the next Age of Heroes installment.
(18) GAIMAN’S SANDMAN. NPR’s Etelka Lehoczky on a new printing of Neil Gaiman’s Preludes and Nocturnes: “Enter ‘Sandman’: Anniversary Edition Celebrates 30 Years Of Dream-Spinning”.
When Neil Gaiman first envisioned the Sandman, the supernatural dream lord he created 30 years ago, he thought about prison. “Before I even knew who he was,” Gaiman writes in the afterword to The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, he had the image of “a man, young, pale and naked, imprisoned in a tiny cell, waiting until his captors passed away, willing to wait until the room he was in crumbled to dust.”
Dreams and imprisonment? It’s not a connection most would make. True, dreams are just about the only thing a prisoner has of his own, but it seems odd to imagine the bringer of dreams himself trapped in a cell. As so often happens with Gaiman, though, meditating upon one of his intuitions leads you to a whole new way of thinking
(19) TUNING UP DEADPOOL. Daniel Dern recommends “Deadpool The Musical 2 – Ultimate Disney Parody!”. “The songs aren’t the best… but, among other things, it’s arguably one of the best representations of the X-Men (about halfway in), and many of the Avengers. And the last minute or two is great.”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Errolwi, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) DECOPUNK CITATION. Language Log quotes Cat Valente today in “Decopunk and other quasicompositional compounds”.
Complex lexical items generally have analogical historico-semantic accretions similar to those in the X-punk domain. This includes phrases like red tide, solar energy, or historical fiction, as well as compounds like jumpsuit, ski lift, or break room. In the other direction, proper names are far from being semantically arbitrary in practice — to quote from a Decopunk work, Catherynne Valente’s Radiance…
(2) THE MATTER OF ENGLAND. One people, divided by a common tongue…
(3) PETER CAPALDI, VENTRILOQUIST. This caught my eye –
— Valerie Meiss (@hellotinywonder) September 2, 2018
(4) AND THEN, AT DRAGON CON. Remember what they said about “Inconceivable”?
Peter Capaldi told someone in a Georgia hotel 'Bless your heart' and was then confused when they were offended. ????
— Kay (@captswanis4vr) September 2, 2018
(5) THE MEANING OF IT ALL. Bow Tie Writer asked an array of fans at Worldcon 76 to answer his question. I recognized Judy Bemis, Kevin Standlee, and Michelle Pincus among them.
Worldcon 2018 was held in San Jose August 15th – 20th. I went around and I asked people one simple question: What does Worldcon mean to you. This video is my homage to fandom, to internet friends, and to all the good people who come together to celebrate the things we love.
(6) RSR’S WORLDCON REPORT. At Rocket Stack Rank, Greg Hullender has an interesting set of “WorldCon 76 Takeaways” (including coverage of the Filer meetups).
…The audience for this panel had lots of people with many decades of experience with fanzines, so we had a lively but always cordial discussion. I was pleased to learn that even the folks who’d done fanzines back in the days of mimeograph machines all seemed to agree that online publications were definitely the future, particularly in terms of their ability to immediately involve fans via comments that don’t need to wait a month or more for publication. They worried that blogs in particular lack some of the feel of a fanzine, which has an arrangement of related stories. (At RSR, we’ll think about how a content-management system might capture that for an online publication.)
I was very pleased when someone in the audience told me that Rocket Stack Rank fit into a long tradition of “Review Fanzines,” of which Tangent is another surviving example. That made me feel a lot less like an impostor….
(7) TRUESDALE’S WORLDCON 76 PHOTO GALLERY. Dave Truesdale’s Worldcon 76 report for Tangent, “Photos from Worldcon 76, the 76th World Science Fiction Convention”, begins with coverage of Saturday’s alt-right demonstration, and ends by explaining what a raw deal he got when his 2016 Worldcon membership was revoked. In between there are a quite a few fine author photos. Here are the captions from one set —
Below Left: Lezli Robyn, helping out at the Galaxy’s Edge dealer’s table. Below Right: Galaxy’s Edge Publisher Shahid Mahmud. Both Lezli and Shahid are two of the most delightful people I’ve met in a long time. Shahid’s enthusiasm and love of SF is infectious. We talked for quite some time about this and that, and his intelligence and sense of humor shone through everything. I can’t imagine anyone not liking Shahid once they’ve met him.
(8) PROMETHEUS SPEECH. The Libertarian Futurist Society presented the Prometheus Awards at Worldcon 76. The author of the Prometheus Award-winning novel, Travis Corcoran, was unable to attend, so his acceptance speech for Powers of the Earth was read by Chris Hibbert. Its message is conveyed with classic libertarian subtlety.
…Since the first Worldcon in 1939 science fiction has been a libertarian territory under attack from authoritarians. Futurian Donald Wollheim was a communist, and argued that all of science fiction “should actively work for the realization of the . . . world-state as the only . . . justification for their activities”.
Wollheim failed with his takeover in 1939—he was physically removed from Worldcon—but he started a Gramscian long march through the institutions, and it worked. In the current year conventions, editors, and publishing houses are all cordy-cepted. The sociopaths have pushed the geeks out and have taken over the cultural territory.
“You made this? <pause> I made this.”
When the state tries to take your home, they come with guns, and you have to fight them with guns, if at all.
When a subculture tries to take your home, they come with snark and shame and entryism . . . and you fight them by making better art….
(9) DIRT FARMING. James Davis Nicoll has a long fannish exploration of “Science Fiction’s Trouble with Terraforming” at Tor.com.
Terraforming is, of course, the hypothesized art of converting an uninhabitable rock into a habitable world. Jack Williamson coined the term in his Seetee-related short story, “Collision Orbit”, published under the pen name Will Stewart in the July, 1942 issue of Astounding Magazine. While Williamson invokes non-existent super-science in order to make the task seem doable, he probably felt confident that terraforming would someday make sense. In the short run, we have seen humans shaping the Earth. In the long run—well, Earth was once an anoxic wasteland. Eons of life shaped it into a habitable planet. Williamson suspected that humans could imitate that process elsewhere…and make it happen in centuries rather than eons. Perhaps in even less time!
(10) AUGUSTULUS: With the help of a belated July issue, Jason has compiled a diminutive list of notable reading in Summation: August at Featured Futures:
This month has been doubly strange. Despite reading 42 stories of about 201K words from the August magazines, I’m in the unprecedented and unpleasant position of only being able to note one story (and that’s not even fully recommended). Counting a late July story and things for a couple of Tangent reviews, I read 59 stories of about 324K words this month and can at least add two recs and another honorable mention, all from the July/August Black Static, but only one of those is even speculative with the other two being straight horror.
(11) GIDDINGS OBIT. Sff writer and critic Joseph “Joe” Giddings passed away from ALS at the age of 45 on August 16. He was born April 6, 1973. His criticism appeared in Bull Spec and Tangent Online (among others). His fiction appeared in Mystic Signals and Dark Stars (more information in his entry at Internet Science Fiction Database.) Giddings blogged at “The Clockwork Pen”.
(12) TODAY’S MEMORIAL DAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge. Who looked at the wrong ISFDB page today — but waste not, want not!]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
(14) HOGWARTS EXPRESS. More “Back to Hogwarts” hype: “Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law were at Kings Cross for the Hogwarts Express”.
As every good Harry Potter fan knows, the Hogwarts Express departs from Kings Cross station, London, platform nine and three-quarters at 11.30am on September 1. This year Professor Dumbledore and Newt Scamander themselves, aka Hollywood stars Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne, were there to kick off the new year.
— Pottermore (@pottermore) September 1, 2018
(15) AND WHILE WE’RE HOGWARTING. Gwynne Watkins, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “A ‘Harry Potter’ neophyte watches all 8 movies for the first time: Here’s what happened” says that “my cred as a film nerd and a nerd nerd has been threatened by a shameful omission”– she had never seen a Harry Potter movie (not literally – she’d seen the first one in its initial theatrical release.) So she decided to watch them all over a 24-hour binge. Some notes are better than others. Is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix really about the problems of standardized testing? On the other hand, she had an interesting response to this 20-years-after rewatch of the very first movie —
What surprised me most on my second viewing of Sorcerer’s Stone was how much I loved Emma Watson’s Hermione. The first time around, I remember thinking that her show-offish, know-it-all nature was borderline unbearable. Now I love how unapologetic she is about her intelligence, how confidently she wields it in a room full of boys. (Seriously, where are the Hogwarts girls? Hermione needs some female friends!) Maybe as a girl who grew up downplaying her intelligence, Hermione made me uncomfortable in some primal, fourth-grade part of my subconscious. If that’s true, it only makes me more grateful that my daughter will grow up in a post-Hermione world.
(16) THE HORROR. From Agouti (@bitterkarella) comes news of the horror genre’s Midnight Society of writers. Dean Koontz, HP Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Edward Lee, Stephen King, and Edgar Allen Poe trade inspirations for their next novels. The thread starts here.
John Bellairs: Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this the Tale of the Spooky Robot
King: sure sounds fun
Bellairs: so this guy invents a robot
Koontz: i like robots C:
Bellairs it needs to eat human eyes to work
King: wait what
— Agouti still believes in the railing system (@bitterkarella) August 20, 2018
(17) NED KELLY AWARDS. My internet wanderings brought me the results of the Australian Crime Writers Association’s 2018 Ned Kelly Awards, and far be it from me to turn down literary award news…
2018 Ned Kelly Awards
Best First Crime
Best True Crime
(18) NGAIO MARSH. Likewise, I learned the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards for the “very best in Kiwi Crime” were recently presented in New Zealand.
Best Crime Novel
Best First Novel
(19) RENAME THAT TUNE. The IAU will probably decide that Hubble needs to share credit – The Conversation has the story: “Game-changing resolution: whose name on the laws of physics for an expanding universe?”
Astronomers are engaged in a lively debate over plans to rename one of the laws of physics.
It emerged overnight at the 30th Meeting of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), in Vienna, where members of the general assembly considered a resolution on amending the name of the Hubble Law to the Hubble-Lemaître Law.
The resolution aims to credit the work of the Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître and his contribution – along with the American astronomer Edwin Hubble – to our understanding of the expansion of the universe.
While most (but not all) members at the meeting were in favour of the resolution, a decision allowed all members of the International Astronomical Union a chance to vote. Subsequently, voting was downgraded to a straw vote and the resolution will formally be voted on by an electronic vote at a later date.
(20) BEWARE BENNU. The NASA mission to visit and sample Bennu — a “potentially hazardous asteroid” — has entered a new phase (“NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins Asteroid Operations Campaign”). The spacecraft has begun approach operations:
After an almost two-year journey, NASA’s asteroid sampling spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, caught its first glimpse of asteroid Bennu last week and began the final approach toward its target. Kicking off the mission’s asteroid operations campaign on Aug. 17, the spacecraft’s PolyCam camera obtained the image from a distance of 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km).
…The spacecraft has traveled approximately 1.1 billion miles (1.8 billion km) since its Sept. 8, 2016, launch and is scheduled to arrive at Bennu on Dec. 3.
…During the mission’s approach phase, OSIRIS-REx will:
- regularly observe the area around the asteroid to search for dust plumes and natural satellites, and study Bennu’s light and spectral properties;
- execute a series of four asteroid approach maneuvers, beginning on Oct. 1, slowing the spacecraft to match Bennu’s orbit around the Sun;
- jettison the protective cover of the spacecraft’s sampling arm in mid-October and subsequently extend and image the arm for the first time in flight; and
- use OCAMS to reveal the asteroid’s overall shape in late-October and begin detecting Bennu’s surface features in mid-November.
Ultimately, the craft will map the asteroid, then perform a sampling “touch-and-go” maneuver. The sample will be dropped off at Earth in a Sample Return Capsule in September 2023. OSIRIS-REx itself will end up in a solar orbit.
(21) LOX WARNING. It used to be a thing — and may still be in some fannish circles — to whip up fresh ice cream at room parties using liquid nitrogen. The US Food and Drug administration has issued a safety alert about the danger of drinks and food prepared with LN2 at the point of sale (CNN: “FDA issues warning about liquid nitrogen on food”):
“The FDA has become aware of severe — and in some cases, life-threatening — injuries, such as damage to skin and internal organs caused by liquid nitrogen still present in the food or drink,” the FDA said in issuing its safety alert. “Injuries have occurred from handling or eating products prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption, even after the liquid nitrogen has fully evaporated due to the extremely low temperature of the food.”
In its warning, the FDA said inhaling the vapor “released by a food or drink prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption may also cause breathing difficulty, especially among individuals with asthma.”
…The FDA did not say how many reports of injuries it has received or provide details on life-threatening cases.
(22) MOON WALKER. The BBC’s Nicholas Barber gives “Five Stars for First Man”
The life story of Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, is so full of astounding courage, tragedy and triumph that it is just begging for an old-school Hollywood biopic, with all the inspiring speeches, swelling orchestras and grand themes that the genre entails. First Man is not that biopic.
Directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land) and scripted by Josh Singer (Spotlight), the film is an understated, economical drama which, like a rocket that has to escape from the Earth’s gravity, jettisons absolutely everything it doesn’t need. Dialogue is kept to a minimum. Exposition is edited out. Extraneous characters are stripped away to the point that you see almost nothing of Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll), who moonwalked with Armstrong, and even less of Mike Collins (Lukas Haas), who piloted the orbiting craft. You don’t hear about Armstrong’s Korean War heroics, for that matter, and the space-race politics that were behind Nasa’s Apollo programme remain in the background. And yet, as restrained as First Man is, this riveting, exhaustively researched and utterly believable film manages to shake you, take your breath away and even pull a few tears from your eyes.
(23) SCREEN PLAY. “Movie Madness: Why Chinese cinemas are empty but full”. Speculators think buying seats (to fake up hits, to push stock prices) is cheaper than making good movies.
For a country which will soon assume the mantle of the world’s largest cinema audience, China comes out with a surprising number of big budget B-grade flops.
Some blame this on censorship, others on a lack of creativity but there are also those who see a more sinister force at work, which has nothing to do with film-making.
It also has nothing to do with selling tickets: at least not real ones.
Some investors are apparently financially backing movies with the sole goal of boosting their stock price that can shift on the perception of a movie’s performance, irrespective of its true popularity.
(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Bridge Tongues” on YouTube is a look back at our times from the 25th century, where no one argues with each other and everyone lives in their own digital bubble.
[Thanks to JJ, Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Gregory Benford, Martin Morse Wooster, Bill Burns, Dann, James Davis Nicoll, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) JEMISIN ON CNN. N.K. Jemisin is on episode 6 of W. Kamau Bell’s CNN program United Shades of America. In this episode he goes back to Mobile, Alabama, and brings her along for one of the segments.
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) June 18, 2018
(2) WRONG TURN. The bear and the maiden fair.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT YOU GUYS A FUCKING BEAR JUST WALKED DOWN THE DRIVEWAY LIKE WHAT UP HUMANS HAPPY FATHER’S DAY OR WHATEVER
— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) June 17, 2018
I REPEAT: A BEAR JUST WALKED DOWN THE DRIVEWAY AT MY PARENTS HOUSE ALL CASUAL LIKE HE WAS GONNA DELIVER AN AMAZON BOX
A BEAR YOU GUYS
HE SET OFF THE MOTION SENSOR GUEST ALARM
— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) June 17, 2018
(3) DINO CHOW. Adweek supplies a new reason to burn a hole in your credit card: “These $25 Collector’s Edition Cereal Boxes Include Digital Screens Showing Jurassic World Video”.
Dinosaur-loving fans eagerly anticipate the arrival of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom this Friday, but now they can get in on the action a bit closer to home. Like … right at the breakfast table.
Kellogg’s has partnered with Universal Studios to develop limited-edition boxes of Keebler Fudge Stripes and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes that come with a digital screen embedded into the box. Each screen airs an exclusive five-minute video of behind-the-scenes footage from the flick, showing fans how the dinosaurs are brought to life as well as additional special effects from the movie.
(4) THUNDER LIZARDS. The movie is already killing overseas: “China Box Office: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Rampages to $112M Debut”.
Universal and Amblin have claimed Hollywood’s fourth-biggest opening ever in China.
Universal and Amblin’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opened with a roar at the Chinese box office over the weekend, earning $111.9 million.
It was Universal’s second-biggest debut ever in the market, behind only The Fate Of The Furious. The opening was also considerably better than the $99.2 million that the first Jurassic World film earned in its first full week in Chinese cinemas in 2015 (openings were tallied by the week rather than weekend back then).
The dino tentpole also pulled in $10 million from 520 Imax screens. Altogether it claimed over 75 percent of the weekend’s total ticket revenue in China.
(5) NEW CATEGORY PROPOSED. Nope, not the Hugos: “Some Survivors Of Category 5 Hurricane Irma Want A Category 6”.
Tom Krall lives on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the west end of the island, high on a ridge. That’s where he was in September when Hurricane Irma roared through.
“We had the full blast,” Krall says. “Twenty of the 30 houses in my neighborhood lost their roofs or worse.”
The National Hurricane Center says Irma had sustained winds of 185 mph when it hit the Virgin Islands with gusts of 200 mph or higher. They were the most powerful winds ever recorded in that part of the Caribbean.
In his more than 30 years on St. John, Krall has hunkered down for many hurricanes, including other Category 5 storms. He says Irma’s winds were dramatically worse than other hurricanes. He knows what winds are like at 150 mph.
(6) NEED MORE PITCHFORKS. NPR concludes “It’ll Take More Than A Few Angry Villagers To Kill Off ‘Frankenstein'”. And also discusses changes between original (1818) and the version most of us know (1831).
Frankenstein has been popular for two centuries because every era since has felt like the end times to those in it, so every era needs a story unafraid to discuss annihilation.
(7) DO YOU WANT TO BE CURED? WHO classification: “Gaming becomes the latest addiction”.
The World Health Organisation’s classification of gaming disorder as a condition which is capable of debilitating addiction is an important moment in the shifting relationship between technology and society.
Concern among parents about the impact of smartphones in particular, and the response of technology firms to those concerns, has become a staple of the news agenda.
Apple’s much covered Digital Health initiative was derided in some quarters, with analysts and punters alike sceptical about the desire of that company to in any way reduce smartphone usage, given its still heavy reliance on smartphones for revenue.
(8) CAT OBITS. Condolences to three Filers who recently suffered the loss of a beloved cat. Two of these venerable SJW credentials featured in Cats Sleep on SFF.
Sadly I also have a loss to report.
Steerpike, by then having celebrated his 18th birthday, developed lymphoma and was wasting away before being put to sleep. He had a good innings and is missed.
Pepper, my oldest, died about 2 hours ago. I found her unconscious and unresponsive earlier in the evening. I opted not to make an emergency visit to the vet since she didn’t seem to be suffering but seemed too far gone to revive. It took her a few hours to stop breathing.
She was a tiny dark tabby, 15 years and about 7 1/2 months old. She’d been diagnosed with diabetes just over a year ago, and been to the vet for a checkup just this past week. I wasn’t expecting her to live a whole lot longer, but her death tonight was unexpected. I’ve had her since she was about 5 months old, and loved her very much.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) COMICS SECTION.
This is a true story, based on an actual sign in my local public library and the chaos my children wreak when we visit.
(11) LONELY PLANET. In “There’s at Least a 39 Percent Chance We’re Alone in the Observable Universe”, Motherboard has taken a look at a new paper (now in preprint or arXiv.org) by the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford that itself takes a look at the Fermi Paradox. By taking a probabilistic approach to the Drake Equation, that paper concludes:
…[W]e find a substantial probability that we are alone in our galaxy, and perhaps even in our observable universe (53%–99.6% and 39%–85% respectively). ’Where are they?’ — probably extremely far away, and quite possibly beyond the cosmological horizon and forever unreachable.
Note that since this is a preprint article it has not been peer-reviewed yet. Motherboard summarized their own take on the paper as:
These are sobering results, but the researchers caution against any kneejerk cosmic pessimism. “This conclusion does not mean that we are alone, just that this is very scientifically plausible and should not surprise us,” the researchers wrote. “It is a statement about our state of knowledge, rather than a new measurement.”
In other words, there’s no reason to despair—yet. The more we learn about the universe and our own planet, the more we will decrease the uncertainty latent in the Drake equation. For example, our inability to detect extraterrestrial civilizations over the decade can increase our certainty that we’re alone, but then again, the universe may be awash in extraterrestrial signals and we simply haven’t learned how to recognize them yet. For now, however, the researchers suggest that if there are aliens, they are “probably extremely far away and quite possibly beyond the cosmological horizon and forever unreachable.”
(12) WITHDRAWAL PAINS. JDA advertised on Twitter he was “Off Social Media Til 6/21” but he must have noticed we were enjoying it more than he was. Today he broke his fast early by posting “The White Male Initiative For Worldcon 76” [Internet Archive link] on his blog.
I, Jon Del Arroz, the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction, will review submissions and select recipients. Please keep your statements under 500 words. I may ask follow-up questions, however. If you’re a professional, links to examples of your work would be helpful.
We realize that marginalized majority groups have felt reticent about joining us, and understandably so. But we need more representation from the white male community in science fiction fandom! Bring it!
(13) WHO BROKE THE BANK? That wasn’t the only post JDA published today. Another tells how his plan to abandon Patreon has come a cropper – “The Biggest News Story You’ll Never Hear: Big Tech Strikes At Finances Of Political Opponents” [Internet Archive link].
As you know, I urged my fans and friends who are supporting this blog and my fiction work on a subscription basis to switch their pledges from Patreon to Freestartr because Patreon was removing right wing political commentators over their content.
This weekend, Freestartr was shut down by Stripe, the collections company used to process credit card transactions– a company set up as a paypal alternative because the latter was already known for trying to deplatform right wing personalities through demonetizing. From their website:
FreeStartr currently has lost the ability to collect funds for our creators. CEO Charles C. Johnson’s comments can be found here.
(14) REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. Wouldn’t The Verge have done more to discourage people from buying this by ignoring it altogether, instead of cleverly badmouthing it? Survey says – Yes! “This unlicensed Harry Potter battery pack makes a bad pun out of an even worse product”. (Wait, was this frame actually written by the same guy who introduced the last two Scroll items?)
If you’ve read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — which I generally assume is most of the global population — you’re probably familiar with the Elder Wand, a powerful wand wielded by both Dumbledore and the dark wizard Voldemort over the course of the series.
The CELLder Wand is not the Elder Wand. Where one is a fictional, legendary magical artifact of ultimate power, the CELLder wand is a Kickstarter campaign for a possibly fictional hunk of plastic that surrounds a fairly ordinary 3,200 mAh USB battery pack.
(15) ABOVE AND BEYOND. Gizmodo enthuses: “This Video Made From Real Mars Data Will Make You Feel Like You’re Flying Over the Red Planet”.
There are lots of incredible things you can do with data. Like make this incredible animation of the Martian surface, for example.
This animation is the latest from visual artist Seán Doran, using real data taken by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (MRO) Of course, it’s not actual video footage, and required a lot of processing to achieve the realistic effect. But it does give the exciting impression that one is flying just above the Martian surface.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “DIY–Behind the Scenes” on Vimeo explains how an animated film is made.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Doug Bissell, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Iphinome, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Jon Del Arroz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) LICENSE TO THRILL. Steven H Silver spotted an unusual collectible in traffic the other day —
I was unaware that Illinois issued such event specific license plate until I saw this one today (June 6). The text around Superman indicates it is for the 40th Annual Superman Festival in Metropolis, Illinois from June 7-10. On the right you can see that the plate expires on June 10, 2018.
(2) SATISFYING SPACE OPERA. Abigail Nussbaum delivers insightful and fascinating sff analysis in “A Political History of the Future: Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente”, at Lawyers, Guns & Money.
To which the answer is, because talking about Space Opera gives me an opportunity to point out a glaring lacuna in almost all the works we’ve discussed so far—the way that nearly every one of them leaves out the centrality of culture, and particularly popular culture, in shaping a society and reflecting its preoccupations.
When I say “culture”, I’m talking about several different things, each integral to the believability of any invented world. Culture can mean shared cultural touchstones, classic and modern, that give people a common frame of reference, like humming a pop song or quoting the Simpsons. It can mean characters who are artists, professional or amateur. It could refer to the way that culture can become a political battleground, as we were discussing just a few days ago in response to the news that conservatives want their own version of SNL. Or it could be a discussion of material culture—fashion, design, architecture—and how it allows people to express themselves in even the most mundane aspects of their lives.
It’s very rare, however, to see science fiction try to engage with any of these aspects of culture. Even as it strives to create fully-realized worlds, art—high and low, functional and abstract, popular and obscure, ridiculous and serious—tends to be absent from them. So are artists—try to remember the last time you encountered a character in a science fiction or fantasy story who had an artistic side, even just as a hobby. Even worse, few characters in SFF stories have any kind of cultural touchstones.
(3) KILL YOUR DARLINGS. Delilah S. Dawson tells what she thinks is the real meaning of that traditional writerly advice “kill your darlings.” The thread starts here —
Here's my story about learning the true meaning of 'kill your darlings'. When my agent sent feedback on my book, she suggested cutting the lighthouse chapter, as it did nothing for the story. Changed nothing. It was pretty, but useless. 1/
— Delilah S. Dawson (@DelilahSDawson) June 10, 2018
(4) IN THE BEGINNING. The International Costuming Guild presents its research into what fans wore to the masquerade at the Second Worldcon (1940) — “Convention Costuming History: The Pre-WWII Years – Pt. III”.
The earliest Worldcon masquerades were more like informal costume contests, with several well known authors of the time participating. The costumes worn were a mix of original designs, interpretations of literary characters and what would come to be known as media recreations. 1940 – Chicon I
Following the novelty of Ackerman’s and Douglas’ costumed appearance the previous year, a “Science Fiction Masquerade Party” was featured as part of the convention programming.(1) By Forrest Ackerman’s count, there were 25 people in costume there. The co-host masters of ceremonies were fans and writers Jack Speer and Milton Rothman. Judging from the accounts of the party, the occasion was informal – there was no stage, but there were one or two skits, including one by Ackerman and “Morojo” (Douglas) wearing their outfits from the previous year.
There were several reports of who was there for the first official costumed event. Among that first group of convention costuming contestants were…
(5) ICG IN PASSING. The International Costuming Guild’s in memoriam video, presented at Costume-Con 36 (2018) to recognize those in the community lost in the previous year, is posted on YouTube.
(6) WITH CAT IN HAND. Yoon Ha Lee will be doing an Ask Me Anything on June 12.
I'll be doing a /r/Books AMA on June 12, also the day my book Revenant Gun will be released–come ask Qs about writing, books, and my friendly cat! pic.twitter.com/6oT5m5Nvk2
— Yoon Ha Lee (???) (@motomaratai) June 6, 2018
(7) THIEVES LIKE US. A recent movie premiere inspires B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog’s listicle “12 Fantasy Heist Novels”.
There are genre tropes, and then there are those archetypes that are mainstays of not just science fiction and fantasy, but of popular culture in general. One of the best examples is the character of the Gentleman Thief (who doesn’t always have to be a gentleman). These rogues are witty, engaging, and will rob you blind with a rakish wink and a smile. You can’t help but be charmed by them. From Robin Hood to Danny Ocean, the character is a permanent favorite in books and on film….
The Holver Alley Crew, by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Maresca’s interconnected Maradaine books (multiple series examining life in the same fantasy city) are a real treat. The latest series is about the Holver Alley crew, a ragtag group of formerly retired thieves are forced to return to a life of crime when their new, respectable shop burns down. When they learn the fire was no accident, they are forced to take desperate measures. All of the Maradaine books are a treat, but this one really stands out because of the especially strong characters. In fine Oceans tradition, Asti and Verci are both brothers and ringleaders, and must assemble a skilled crew to pull of a job to rob a gambling house that took everything from them.
(8) HAWKING OBSEQUIES. Are any of you trying to get in? “Stephen Hawking: Ballot opens for Westminster Abbey service”.
The public is being offered the chance to attend a service of thanksgiving for Professor Stephen Hawking, who died in March aged 76.
It will take place in Westminster Abbey on 15 June and up to 1,000 tickets are available in a ballot.
During the service, the scientist’s ashes will be interred between Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
His daughter, Lucy Hawking, said she wanted to give some of her father’s admirers the chance to remember him.
(9) LAST DAYS. Christopher Stasheff’s son, Edward posted the following to his Facebook page on June 9:
My father, Christopher Stasheff, is currently in hospice and expected to die from Parkinson’s Disease within the next two weeks, quite possibly this week. If anyone would like to say goodbye to him, post it as a response here, and I’ll read it to him the next time I see him (I visit him in the nursing home daily). Thanks.
The most recent reports are suggesting that he may only have a day or so left.
Update: His son reports Stasheff died this evening.
My father Christopher Stasheff died at 6:45 PM on June 10th, 2018, surrounded by his wife and two of his children. The other two were able to phone in and say goodbye before he passed. He is survived by hundreds of his students and uncountable fans, and his legacy will live on in all the lives he touched.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY
(11) VOLLEYED AND THUNDERED. Edmonton’s Hugo Book Club just put out a new blog post, “Is that The Canon in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”, in which they muse about literary awards and their relation to posterity and questions of enduring value. Is science fiction the new Western Canon?
It is worth noting that Harold Bloom’s 1993 list of The Western Canon included only two works that are traditionally categorized as science fiction: Ursula Le Guin’s Hugo Award winner The Left Hand of Darkness and George Orwell’s 1984.
But of Bloom’s list, I would argue the majority of the works cited are less relevant to the broad public – and to a concept of cultural literacy – than the recent Hugo Award winners and popular works of science fiction.
For example, references and allusions to Wolfram von Eschenbach’s 13th century poem Parzival are lost on the broader public, while Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One protagonist Parzival is familiar to many.
(12) ICE NINE. Galactic Journey’s Victoria Lucas has just read the new Vonnegut release – in 1963: “[June 10, 1963] Foma: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Cat’s Cradle)”
When a friend lent Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s newest novel, Cat’s Cradle to me, I thought, “Oh, I know this book!” because I saw, as I flipped through it, the “ice-nine” and “Bokonon” I’d heard people buzzing so much about. So I was glad to read it and understand the phenomenon.
But that’s where my joy ended. Vonnegut is a fine writer. His style is idiosyncratic, askew; this is a novel novel. But no one would accuse him of being optimistic or hopeful about the human future. No Pollyanna he….
(13) BBC RADIO STAR TREK DOCUMENTARY. BBC Radio 4 has just re-broadcast “Star Trek – The Undiscovered Future”, first aired December 2017. It’s available to listen to online right now.
How far have we voyaged towards Star Trek’s vision of the future and what of it is likely to be fulfilled or remain undiscovered in the next 50 years?
Kevin Fong presents archive material of the likes of Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura) talking about the inception and filming of the original Star Trek series, and their thoughts about Roddenberry’s vision of the future and its impact in the United States at the time.
For example, Nichols relates how she had a chance encounter with Martin Luther King the day after she had told Roddenberry that she intended to leave Star Trek after the first series. King told her he was her number fan and almost demanded that she didn’t give up the role of Uhura, because she was an uniquely empowering role model on American television at the time.
For a perspective from today, Kevin also talks to George Takei who played Mr Sulu. Takei laments the ethnically divisive politics of the United States in 2016.
He meets Charles Bolden – the first African American to both command a shuttle mission and lead NASA as its chief administrator. In the age of the International Space Station, he compares himself to the ‘Admiral of Star Fleet’. But the former astronaut also talks about the anger he first felt in 1994 when he was asked to fly the first Russian cosmonaut ever to board an American space shuttle.
Kevin also talk to cultural broadcaster and Star Trek fan Samira Ahmed about the sexual and racial politics of the Original series.
(14) ST:D SEASON TWO. Comedian and new Star Trek: Discovery cast member Tig Notaro opened her set on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert poking fun at her inability to understand any of the tech talk from her Trek dialog. See “‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Tig Notaro Talks Technobabble” at Comicbook.com.
Tig Notaro is one of the new additions to the cast of Star Trek: Discovery in the show’s second season and while she’s excited to be a part of the Star Trek universe she doesn’t exactly speak the language.
Notaro was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote her new comedy special Happy to be Here. She greeted Colbert by saying his theater was “like a room full of pleasant subspace particles wrapped in a tachyon field of good vibes.”
The comment is obviously a reference to her role on Discovery, though she admits “I have no idea what I’m saying on that show…I can’t even picture what I’m talking about.”
She revealed that her character is human and that she plays Commander Jet Reno, a name she got to choose for herself. As for how she got the job, “They just asked if I wanted to do it” she says.
(15) BAD WITH NUMBERS? Deadline interviewed the president of Marvel Studios: “Kevin Feige Talks Marvel’s Success, Female Directors, ‘Infinity War II’ & How He’s ‘Bad With Numbers’”.
More female directors on Marvel pics: Captain Marvel is the first Marvel title to have a female director at the helm Anna Boden (who is co-helming with Ryan Fleck. And having more female directors behind his superhero pics is a trend he plans to maintain, “I cannot promise that (the next) 20 Marvel movies will have female directors but a heck of a lot of them will,” he said in response to an audience member’s question. The Marvel boss mentioned that agencies are sending more female directors than men for Marvel directing jobs.
On the $1.3 billion success of Black Panther, Feige said that Marvel “wanted to destroy the myth that black movies don’t work well around the world,” and being at Disney with its platinum marketing department allowed the comic book studio to swing for the fences.
“The budget for Black Panther was bigger than Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, and you can’t do that without the support and encouragement from the leaders of the company,” he said.
Feige also applauded Black Panther director Ryan Coogler’s championing his diverse below-the-line team in Hannah Beachler as production designer, Ruth Carter’s costumes, and DP Rachel Morrison. Their resumes, like Marvel’s directors, didn’t scream tentpole experience, but Feige is grateful he heard them pitch rather than rely on his regular team.
“We can’t imagine the movie without them, and the future movies we hope to make with them,” he said.
(16) JURASSIC LARK. In Parade, “Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard Talk Dinosaurs, Parenting and Friendship”.
After their wildly successful first dino film in 2015, the pair reunited last year to film much of Fallen Kingdom on the Kualoa Ranch in Oahu, Hawaii. But even surrounded by tropical paradise, they faced more than a few challenges on camera, from filming in a chlorinated pool that fried Pratt’s hair and skin to riding in a zero-gravity gyrosphere that made Howard nauseous. And Pratt had to do some awkward face-offs with a velociraptor that wasn’t really there—until the special-effects department created it. He acts out how he’d say to the air in front of him, “Get back, get back . . .” and then “Whoa!” as he’d throw himself on the ground. The camera crew, watching on monitors nearby, “didn’t want to say how stupid it looked!”
(17) SCARIEST MOVIE. The Washington Post’s Monica Castillo, in “The story behind ‘Hereditary,’ the Toni Collette horror movie that scared the bejesus out of Sundance”, interviews Hereditary director Ari Aster who, “in his first feature, marries the horror and melodrama genres into an unnerving movie about grief.”
Aster said he deliberately amped up the drama in the film slowly. “I’m not affected by anything in a film unless I’m invested in the people at the center of it,” he said. “I wanted to take my time and immerse people in this family’s life and their dynamic, which is quite complicated. I just wanted to make a film in the tradition of the horror films I grew up loving, like ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ ‘Don’t Look Now’ and ‘The Innocents.’ Films that take their time are very much rooted in character.”
Setting also plays an important role in the creepiness in “Hereditary.” The family’s luxury cabin in the woods has the right dark corners and haunted attics to make it feel like a trap where its inhabitants are left to slowly die. Annie’s miniature houses become a motif. “The miniatures just struck me as a potent metaphor for the family’s situation,” Aster said. “They have no agency, and they’re revealed over the course of the movie to be like dolls in a dollhouse, being manipulated by these outside forces.”
(18) SPONGEBOB TONY. In “How ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ invaded our brains”, Washington Post writer Sonia Rao interviews the cast and creators of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which is up for 12 Tonys as best musical tonight and is making a lot of Millennials very happy.
Tom Kenny never thought SpongeBob SquarePants, a character he originated on the children’s program almost 20 years ago, would one day end up on Broadway. Why would he have? Parents clamp their hands over their ears whenever they hear SpongeBob’s helium voice, let alone his nasal laugh. The anthropomorphized sponge is no Hugh Jackman.
And yet, “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” is up for 12 Tonys on Sunday, tied with “Mean Girls” for the most nominations. Its resonance with serious theatergoers is surprising until you consider that even as adults, those of us who watched the series can’t shake its omnipresent songs, references and memes. Somehow, it became a cultural earworm.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Lexica, Olav Rokne, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Jonathan Cowie, Steven H Silver, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]