The Peabody Awards has named 30 programs as the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media during 2019.
Here is the complete list of winners in the Entertainment category, which include programs of genre interest Chernobyl, Stranger Things and Watchmen. .
“Chernobyl” HBO Miniseries and SKY in association with Sister, The Mighty Mint, and Word Games (HBO)
This emotionally searing miniseries about the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and political aftermath is written, acted, and composed to perfection.
“David Makes Man” Page Fright and Outlier Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
This visually stunning coming-of-age drama by Tarell Alvin McCraney follows a gifted 14-year-old African American boy (superbly acted by Akili McDowell) growing up in the projects in Florida and haunted by the death of a friend.
Season three continues the fun, nostalgic, horror-meets-sci-fi series about a group of adolescents fighting dark forces in their 1980s Indiana town.
“Succession” HBO Entertainment in association with Project Zeus, Hyperobject Industries, and Gary Sanchez Productions (HBO)
Boasting one of the best ensembles on television, the second season of this satiric comic drama follows the devolution of the fictional Roy media magnate family, and their battles over who will succeed its imperial patriarch.
“Unbelievable” Timberman-Beverly Productions, Sage Lane Productions, Escapist Fare, Katie Couric Media, and CBS Television Studios for Netflix (Netflix)
The superb dramatization of intersecting, albeit vastly-differently-executed investigations into a serial rapist, features standout performances from Toni Collette, Merritt Weaver, and Kaitlyn Dever.
“Watchmen” HBO in association with White Rabbit, Paramount, Warner Bros. Television and DC (HBO)
Brilliantly penned by Damon Lindelof, this high concept sci-fi superhero show refashions the famed DC Comics series to tell a story about racism, policing, fear, and more.
“When They See Us” Participant Media, Tribeca Productions, Harpo Films, Array Filmworks for Netflix (Netflix)
Devastating and commanding, the powerful miniseries from Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five case and the lives it ruined, offers riveting work from a strong ensemble cast.
The organization also announced FRONTLINE and The Simpsons as recipients of Institutional Awards. This distinctive honor goes to programs that have made a significant impact on media programming and the cultural landscape. Cicely Tyson was named winner of the Peabody Career Achievement Award on Monday.
On December 17, 1989, the clouds parted in the now-iconic opening sequence of “The Simpsons,” inviting the world into the town of Springfield for the first time. Already well known to fans of “The Tracey Ullman Show”—which ran a series of animated shorts by creator Matt Groening starting in 1987—Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie would soon rocket to international fame. “The Simpsons,” with nearly 700 full episodes to date, is now the longest-running scripted prime-time series in American television history, and likely the most globally recognized program in history.
Following a decade of earnest family sitcoms, the brash yellow splash of “The Simpsons” on TV cleared the way for a more satiric-parodic, deeply ironic mode of comedy. From the outset, the program was eager to question and rib not just the medium its viewers grew up on, but the beliefs upon which they were structured. Decades later, the effect of its witty humor and willingness to question authority is evident in similarly important comedies that followed in Homer’s four-toed path.
“The Simpsons” expanded notions of what the sitcom could be. It gifted us a wonderful family caught between the poles of father Homer’s delightful ignorance and daughter Lisa’s endearing brilliance, a family that would fumble, fight, and fail, and yet who loved each other in spite of it all. It boldly and inventively ushered animation back into primetime. And it has found ways to remain funny, fresh, and insightful while trusting and respecting its audience’s intelligence. In one episode, Homer thumps his television angrily, demanding that it “be more funny.” Peabody commends “The Simpsons” writers, animators, and cast for answering Homer’s call for 30 years.
(1) STUCK INSIDE. BBC’s Doctor Who site has posted a new short story by Paul Cornell, “The Shadow Passes”. The setup is —
… She’d been thinking that when Graham had found the sign. It had said, the letters wobbling a little in the way that indicated the TARDIS was translating for them, ‘This way to the shelters’.
‘Am I over-reacting,’ Graham had said, ‘or is that just a tiny bit worrying?’
Which was how they’d ended up in a bare room, one hundred feet underground, sitting in a circle, with the names of famous people stuck to their foreheads….
(2) BOUCHERCON CANCELLED. The annual mystery convention, which was to have been held in Sacramento, CA in October has been cancelled. Provisions will be made for the Anthony Awards and some other components of the con.
We’re terribly sad to tell you this, but out of an abundance of caution and concern for the health and safety of our community, we are canceling Bouchercon 2020.
We have no way of knowing what the balance of this year holds for groups of people gathering, nor can we tell what the state of travel will be.
While we are canceling the actual Bouchercon convention, we are working to develop a different format for some of the Bouchercon events and activities such as the Anthony Awards, the short story anthology and the General Membership meeting. Nominations will continue to be open until June 5 for the Anthony Awards. As we work to develop other ways to present a traditional Bouchercon experience, we’ll keep in touch with you.
I inherited this 25-year-old roll of penguin toilet paper when I bought the Penguin in 2014. And darn it! Come hell or high water (or no more tp) we aren’t going to use it now.
Jim Freund said online, “I think The Penguin Shop, formerly headquartered in Brooklyn and with a physical store at the South Street Seaport called ‘Next Stop, South Pole’ used to carry that TP. 25 years ago sounds about right, so they may well have gotten it from there.”
It’s been almost two years since the last edition of our The Second Sex in SFF series came out. In that time, women have only gotten more underrepresented in our genre. Nevertheless, new women authors continue to arrive on the scene, and some who produced under gender-ambiguous names have become known to me…
(5) WHY THE FUTURE IS COVERED IN KUDZU. Geoff Manaugh, in “Tax Incentives and the Human Imagination” on Bldgblog, says that the landscape of horror films often depends on which state or country offers the biggest tax deductions, including such obscure ones as the amount of expenses caterers can deduct.
…My point is that an entire generation of people—not just Americans, but film viewers and coronavirus quarantine streamers and TV binge-watchers around the world—might have their imaginative landscapes shaped not by immaterial forces, by symbolic archetypes or universal rules bubbling up from the high-pressure depths of human psychology, but instead by tax breaks offered in particular U.S. states at particular moments in American history.
You grow up thinking about Gothic pine forests, or you fall asleep at night with visions of rain-soaked Georgia parking lots crowding your head, but it’s not just because of the aesthetic or atmospheric appeal of those landscapes; it’s because those landscapes are, in effect, receiving imaginative subsidies from local business bureaus. You’re dreaming of them for a reason….
(6) READ A KIJ JOHNSON STORY. Us in Flux is a new series of short stories and virtual gatherings from the Center for Science and the Imagination that explore themes of community, collaboration, and collective imagination in response to transformative events. The project’s second story launched today: “An Attempt at Exhausting My Deck,” by Kij Johnson.
On Monday, April 20 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have a virtual event on Zoom with Kij in conversation with Jessie Rack, an ecologist and coordinator for the Supporting Environmental Education and Communities program at the University of Arizona.
Programming Note: They’ll have two more weekly installments (stories by Chinelo Onwualu and Tochi Onyebuchi), then continue publishing on a biweekly schedule.
(7) DENNEHY OBIT. Actor Brian Dennehy has died at the age of 81. His genre work included the movie Cocoon (1985), the Masters of Science Fiction episode “The Discarded” (2007) – based on a Harlan Ellison story, and voice work in Ratatouille (2007).
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 15, 1955 — Science Fiction Theatre aired “Time Is Just A Place” as the second episode of the first season. It’s from Jack Finey’s “Such Interesting Neighbors” (published in Collier’s, 1951) which would later form the basis of the March 20, 1987 adaptation of the story under its original title for Amazing Stories. The story is that neighbors are increasingly suspicious of the inventions of Mr. Heller, who claims to be an inventor, who uses a robotic vacuum cleaner and a flashlight that beams x-rays. It starred Don DeFore, Warren Stevens and Marie Windsor. You can watch it here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 16, 1913 — Lester Tremayne. Between 1953 and 1962, he appeared in these in these genre films: The War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet, The Monolith Monsters, The Angry Red Planet and Kong vs. Godzilla. He’d later appear in Voyage to theBottom of the Sea, My Favorite Martian, My Living Doll (yes, it’s SF) and Shazam! (Died 2003.)
Born April 16, 1918 — Spike Milligan. Writer and principal star of The Goon Show which lampooned a number of genre works such as H. Rider Haggard’s She, Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, James Hilton’s Lost Horizon and Quatermass and the Pit. You can find these scripts in The Goon Show Scripts and More Goon Show Scripts. (Died 2002.)
Born April 16, 1921 — Peter Ustinov. He had a number of genre appearances such as being in Blackbeard’s Ghost as Captain Blackbeard, in the animated Robin Hood by voicing both Prince John and King Richard, as simply The Old Man In Logan’s Run, Truck Driver In The Great Muppet Caper, and in Alice in Wonderland as The Walrus. He wrote The Old Man and Mr. Smith: A Fable which is clearly genre. (Died 2004.)
Born April 16, 1922 — Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: a James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction sounds fascinating published in the late Fifties, he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube. (Died 1995.)
Born April 16, 1922 — John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both a radio and television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. (Died 2012.)
Born April 16, 1962 — Kathryn Cramer, 58. Writer, editor, and literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well. They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb.
Born April 16, 1963 — Scott Nicolay, 57. Navajo writer whose “Do You Like to Look At Monsters?“ was honored with the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. It’s found in his Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed collection. He hosts The Outer Dark, a weekly podcast about weird fiction.
Born April 16, 1983 — Thomas Olde Heuvelt, 37. He won a Novelette Hugo at Sasquan for “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” (translated by Lia Belt). He’s best for HEX, a horror novel, and “You Know How the Story Goes: A Tor.com Original” is his other English language story.
(10) BIRTHDAY QUIZ. And via Lise Andreasen (translated from this tweet):
Who am I? One of my names is þórhildur. I appear on stamps from Greenland. One of my ancestors was Harald Bluetooth. I illustrated Tolkien under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer. I turn 80 today.
Answer: The Danish queen.
(11) CAN YOU DO THIS? Wil Wheaton publicized an opportunity for 3D makers to help frontline workers: “Gamers vs. COVID-19”. Contact info at the link.
My upcoming eSports competition show, Gamemaster, has been delayed like everything else, but the people involved wanted to use the resources they had already mustered for production to do some good at a moment in time when it’s so desperately needed.
So we’re organizing to 3D print what we can for our frontline healthcare workers!
(12) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! Anna Nemtova, in “Chernobyl Is Burning and a Sci-Fi Cult Is Blamed” on The Daily Beast, says that there are substantial fires in Ukraine near Chenobyl (closed to all visitors because of the coronavirus) and authorities blame “stalkers,” devotees of the Arkady and Boris Strugatsky novel Roadside Picnic, who are living on refuse left behind in the new sealed-off region, just like the “stalkers” in the Strugatsky brothers’ novel were scavengers who lived on refuse left behind by alien visitors.
…The Ukrainian state agency monitoring radiation levels has reported toxic lithium in the air, but the health minister reportedly says radiation levels are normal. Meanwhile, winds have brought the smoke in the direction of Kyiv, making hundreds of thousands of people under COVID-19 quarantine think twice before opening windows.
As often happens with wildfires, the cause of the blaze is not entirely clear. But in a truly strange twist, many in the region blame people who call themselves “stalkers,” inspired by characters in the classic science-fiction novel Roadside Picnic published back in 1972, in the Soviet era, by authors Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
It’s a story of how people on Earth deal with a visit by aliens who seem to have stopped off, paid little attention to the inhabitants, and, like irresponsible picnickers, left a lot of their junk lying around in half a dozen “Zones” on the planet. The aliens’ discarded refuse has enormous potential to change life on the planet, if only humans can figure out what it’s for.
Most of the present-day stalkers are respectful of the Exclusion Zone around Chernobyl and some have even fixed up abandoned apartments in the abandoned town of Pripyat. But there are also criminals, and there are constant conflicts with what had been booming legal tourism in the area before coronavirus lockdowns began March 16.
“They hate us tourist guides and our tourists,” Olena Gnes from Chernobyl Tour told The Daily Beast. “Now, when no tourists can travel to Chernobyl’s zone, the ghost city and the villages around belong to them.”
“The fire started right on the paths, where stalkers normally walk,” said Yaroslav Emelianenko, director of the Chernobyl Tour group, who saw the fire and visited burned villages Sunday, then returned to Kyiv to collect generators, respirators, and other aid for firefighters….
Best Fantasy (incl. Paranormal): Victory’s Kiss by Bokerah Brumley
Best YA: The Unbearable Heaviness of Remembering by L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright
Best Mi-SF: Justified by Jon Del Arroz
Best Alt History: This Deadly Engineby (Philip) Matt Ligon
Best Horror: Deus Vult by Declan Finn
(14) RHETORIC…ARISTOTLE…SOMETHING. Five years later (!), Chris Nuttall is still trying to reshape what the Sad and Rabid Puppies did into an argument he can win: “The Right to be Wrong”.
…For example, a few years ago, I attended a panel at a convention that touched on the Sad Puppies controversy. One of the panellists put forward an argument that went a little like this: “Vox Day supports the Sad Puppies, Vox Day is a fascist bastard, therefore the Sad Puppies are evil.” Quite apart from the sheer number of inaccuracies in the statement, it misses the fundamental point that [whatever] is not rendered right or wrong by whoever says it. Just because Vox Day said something doesn’t make it automatically wrong. That argument leads to logical fallacies like “Hitler was a vegetarian and openly promoted the lifestyle, therefore vegetarians are evil.” I’m pretty sure that every last vegetarian would find that fallacy offensive.
The Sad Puppies affair does show, on a small scale, the problems caused by bad faith arguments. No one would have objected to a statement that started “the Sad Puppy books are not Hugo-worthy” and gone on to give a calm and reasonable argument. Even if the arguments were unconvincing, they would not have the corrosive effects of bad faith arguments like the one I mentioned above and many more. …
… Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity suggested the orbit would look like an ellipse, but it doesn’t. The rosette shape, however, holds up Einstein’s theory of relativity.
“Einstein’s general relativity predicts that bound orbits of one object around another are not closed, as in Newtonian gravity, but precess forwards in the plane of motion,” said Reinhard Genzel, in a statement. He is the director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany.
…Sagittarius A* is the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. It’s 26,000 light-years from the sun. Our solar system exists on the edge of one of the Milky Way’s massive spiral arms.
Dense stars can be found around the black hole. One of them, the star known as S2 in this observation, passes closest to the black hole within less than 20 billion kilometers.
It’s one of the closest stars to be found orbiting the black hole.
And when it nears the black hole, the star is moving at 3% the speed of light. It takes 16 Earth years for the star to complete an orbit around the black hole.
“After following the star in its orbit for over two and a half decades, our exquisite measurements robustly detect S2’s Schwarzschild precession in its path around Sagittarius A*,” said Stefan Gillessen, who led the analysis of the measurements at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.
Europe’s newest space telescope has begun ramping up its science operations.
Cheops was launched in December to study and characterise planets outside our Solar System.
And after a period of commissioning and testing, the orbiting observatory is now ready to fulfil its mission.
Early targets for investigation include the so-called “Styrofoam world” Kelt-11b; the “lava planet” 55 Cancri-e; and the “evaporating planet” GJ-436b.
Discovered in previous surveys of the sky, Cheops hopes to add to the knowledge of what these and hundreds of other far-flung objects are really like.
…Kelt-11b has provided a good early demonstration. This is a giant exoplanet some 30% larger than our own Jupiter that orbits very close to a star called HD 93396. Kelt-11b is a seemingly “puffed up” world with a very low density – hence the comparison with expanded foam.
From the way the light from the star dips when Kelt-11b moves in front to make its transit, Cheops’ exquisite photometer instrument is able to determine the planet’s diameter to be 181,600km (plus or minus 4,290km). This measurement is over five times more precise than was possible using a ground-based telescope.
Stars, galaxies, planets, pretty much everything that makes up our everyday lives owes its existence to a cosmic quirk.
The nature of this quirk, which allowed matter to dominate the Universe at the expense of antimatter, remains a mystery.
Now, results from an experiment in Japan could help researchers solve the puzzle – one of the biggest in science.
It hinges on a difference in the way matter and antimatter particles behave.
…During the first fractions of a second of the Big Bang, the hot, dense Universe was fizzing with particle-antiparticle pairs popping in and out of existence. Without some other, unknown mechanism at play, the Universe should contain nothing but leftover energy.
“It would be pretty boring and we wouldn’t be here,” Prof Stefan Söldner-Rembold, head of the particle physics group at the University of Manchester, told BBC News.
So what happened to tip the balance?
That’s where the T2K experiment comes in. T2K is based at the Super-Kamiokande neutrino observatory, based underground in the Kamioka area of Hida, Japan.
In Dan Barouch’s lab, many researchers have not taken a day off since early January, and virtually all are working nearly seven days week to develop a vaccine that could help end the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everybody wants to contribute to this global crisis as best they can,” said Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The team hopes their work will be worth it. There is cause for optimism.
The lab developed a vaccine in collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos., the drug-making arm of Johnson & Johnson. It plans to launch clinical trials in the fall as part of a joint $1 billion collaboration agreement announced by the U.S. government and Johnson & Johnson on March 30…..
Facebook is changing how it treats Covid-19 misinformation after a damning report into its handling of the virus.
Users who have read, watched or shared false coronavirus content will receive a pop-up alert urging them to go the World Health Organisation’s website.
A study had indicated Facebook was frequently failing to clamp down on false posts, particularly when they were in languages other than English.
Facebook said the research did not reflect the work it had done recently.
The California tech firm says it will start showing the messages at the top of news feeds “in the coming weeks”.
The messages will direct people to a World Health Organisation webpage where myths are debunked.
The changes have been prompted by a major study of misinformation on the platform across six languages by Avaaz, a crowdfunded activist group.
Researchers say millions of Facebook users continue to be exposed to coronavirus misinformation, without any warning on the platform.
The group found some of the most dangerous falsehoods had received hundreds of thousands of views, including claims like “black people are resistant to coronavirus” and “Coronavirus is destroyed by chlorine dioxide”.
The cool thing about balloon animals is that, using the same basic inflatable building blocks, a skilled person can create just about anything you could ask for. That same methodology is what’s at the heart of a recent Stanford University and University of California, Santa Barbara, soft robotics project. Described by its creators as a “large-scale isoperimetric soft robot,” it’s a human-scale robot created from a series of identical robot roller modules that are mounted onto inflatable fabric tubes. Just like the balloon animals you remember, this leads to some impressive shape-shifting inventiveness….
[Thanks to Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff (this is the other half of a suggestion, the first part of which ran last year on June 15).]
Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media Award to Composer(s) for an original score created specifically for, or as a
companion to, a current legitimate motion picture, television show or series,
video games or other visual media.
CHERNOBYL Hildur Guðnadóttir, composer
Best Instrumental Composition A Composer’s Award for an original composition (not an adaptation) first
released during the Eligibility Year. Singles or Tracks only.
STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE SYMPHONIC SUITE John Williams, composer (John Williams)
(1) MARY SUE ORIGIN STORY. [Item by Jerry Kaufman.] This
recent article from the London Review of Books
is about fandom, or fandoms as the case may be, the woman who identified the
“Mary Sue”, and her recent writing. (I am the real Jerry Kaufman –
accept no other) – “On
Sophie Collins”. (Registration required to
read full article.)
A ‘Mary Sue’ is an implausibly skilful, attractive or successful protagonist who seems to be a stand-in for the author, especially in fanfiction. The term comes from Paula Smith’s parodic story ‘A Trekkie’s Tale’ (1973), originally published in a mimeographed journal for Star Trek fans. In mocking ‘Mary Sue’, Smith was not attacking fanfiction but trying to bolster its literary quality against fans who used it naively for wish fulfilment. Most of these fans were (like Smith) female. As the term, and the critique, became more common, some fans, and some feminist critics, pushed back. They saw fan communities, and the defiantly unprofessional cultural production that emerged from them, as a kind of safe space, where the rules imposed by a patriarchal outside world about what one can say, and who one can be, could be ignored.
Council Member Fernando Cabrera’s proposal aims to honor Stan Lee’s Bronx roots by co-naming a section of University Avenue between Brandt Place and West 176th Street after the comic book genius.
The city council voted Tuesday to approve the proposal.
… “Stan Lee was a Bronx native who grew up in my district,” said Cabrera. “Stan Lee was a creative genius who co-created iconic super heroes including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Black Panther and more. Mr. Lee’s amazing talent brought joy and entertainment to countless children and adults and he deserves to be permanently memorialized in his home borough, the Bronx.”
(3) BUILDING A STORY WITH MAGIC. Juliette Wade’s new Dive
Into Worldbuilding introduces readers to “Julie
Czerneda and The Gossamer Mage“. View the video interview,
and/or read the summary notes at the link.
…I asked her where the idea for the book started, and she said it started with a pen – and proceeded to show us the pen in question! She brought a lot of cool props to show us, so I encourage you all to check out the video if you’re curious about them.
One of the things that Julie explored while writing this was the history of ink. Battles were fought over areas of the world that provided good ink ingredients, and pirates stole ink as well as other things.
I’ve always found constrained magic systems very interesting, so I asked her to tell us about the magic system she used in The Gossamer Mage. Julie said she agreed with me that she liked constrained systems. She said she liked it when everyone knows how to use the magic, but wait, it’s not so simple. This particular magic system is constrained in part because it requires writing, which means it requires a particular type of scholarship. You have to be able to write words that are not human words, and to intend them. Further, this magic can only be done in the one place in the world where magic remains. One important ingredient here is that magic used to be in more of the world, but is no longer present except in one region, ringed with mountains.
Thus, magic is constrained physically, and it is constrained to scholars….
Rereading A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I believe that an appreciation of poetry is essential for any writer in any field. That economy of language reminds you of the importance of choosing exactly the right word, not the word next to the right one on the shelf. On a conceptual level, I admire Ferlinghetti’s writing which comes at you from a right angle with a huge impact, so I reread his work every couple of years to keep my brain flexible.
And so, drip by drip, crumb by crumb, inch by inch, Straczynski manages to become a writer, and it turns out that not only can he write to deadline, he’s really good at it. Even projects that seem silly or trivial on their face, like writing for He-Man or The Real Ghostbusters, are treated with such intense seriousness that they just kill.
But this being Hollywood, where, famously, nobody knows anything, every success that Straczynski ekes out is eventually scuttled by venality, cowardice, grift, or all three, as greedy execs and bullshit-slinging consultants demand that he compromise on what he knows is right. And Straczynski being Straczynski — being the survivor of a campaign of terror visited upon him by a literal Nazi — refuses to back down, because despite the mountain of shit he’s climbed to get where he is, the prospect of falling down to the bottom is incapable of scaring him beyond his threshold of tolerability.
And, remarkably, despite industry concentration and a thousand variations of “you’ll never work in this town again,” Straczynski continues to work. His story is a beautiful parable about how luck is made: the way it’s told, it seems like Straczynski has a horseshoe up his ass, with opportunities dropping appearing over the horizon just a little faster than the burn-rate of the bridges he’s torched behind him, but when you look a little closer, you realize that the most improbable thing here isn’t the opportunities, but rather Straczynski’s relentless, singleminded determination to seize them, writing (for example) entire seasons of his TV shows when the studios’ dumb mistakes leave them shorthanded.
(6) REVOLUTIONARY DATA. Can you imagine Brent Spiner
playing John Adams in 1776? There’s a concept. He’s the guest on the
latest Maltin on
Forever to be remembered as Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: the Next Generation and other treks to follow, Brent Spiner is a versatile actor and performer with notable Broadway credits—and two fervent fans in Leonard and Jessie, who saw him play John Adams in a masterful revival of 1776. He’s happy to discuss all facets of his career, from musical theater to his memorable role in Independence Day. Even longtime fans may learn things they didn’t already know about Brent in this delightful chat.
(7) THIS IS COOL. The
earth seen from outer space — here is a visualization of how Planet’s
satellites assemble swatches of remote sensing tiles to complete a global
observation in 24 hours:
In four years, Planet has flown on 18 successful launches and deployed 293 satellites successfully into low Earth orbit. With more than 150 satellites currently in orbit, Planet has the largest constellation of Earth imaging satellites in history.
As you may notice, the satellites are not always taking photos (or sending / “beaming” the data down to Earth). Parts of the landmass can also be missing due to complete cloud cover that day. See the Amazon, Central Africa, or Northern Australia for example.
A companion piece reveals more about the satellites themselves; the “doves”, “RapidEyes”, and “SkySats”. Explaining their sizes, the numbers out there already and the types of images they capture. Check out the story here!
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 26, 1883 — Edwin Balmer. Together with author Philip Wylie, he penned When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide. The first was made into the 1951 movie by George Pal. He also wrote several detective novels and collaborated with William MacHarg on The Achievements of Luther Trant, an early collection of detective short stories. The latter are not genre, despite being listed as ISFDB as I’ve read them. (Died 1959.)
Born July 26, 1894 — Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is fascinating. I knew I had it assigned and sort of discussed in a High School class and at least one Uni class decades ago. So what else is genre by him and worth reading? (Died 1963.)
Born July 26, 1919 — James Lovelock, 99. Just shy of a century now in life, the Gaia theorist wrote a genre novel with Michael Allaby, The Greening of Mars, of the transformation of the red planet into a green one. His newest work, Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, thinks that hyperintelligent machines are coming into being by our own hand and that we better be prepared for their arrival.
Born July 26, 1928 — Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The Shining. Barry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.)
Born July 26, 1945 — M. John Harrison, 74. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at. He’s not published deep in digital form at this time.
Born July 26, 1945 — Helen Mirren, 74. She first graces our presences as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellers’ last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Born July 26, 1957 — Nana Visitor,62. Kira Nerys on Deep Space Nine which for my money is the best of the Trek series to date. After DS9 ended, Visitor had a recurring role as villain Dr. Elizabeth Renfro on Dark Angel. In 1987, Visitor appeared as Ellen Dolan in a never developed series pilot for Will Eisner’s The Spirit with Sam J. Jones as The Spirit.
Born July 26, 1971 — Mary Anne Mohanraj, 48. Writer and editor. Founder of Strange Horizons, a genre fiction magazine. She has one genre novel, The Stars That Change, and two stories published in the Wild Cards Universe, “Low Chicago” and “Ties That Bind”. She also an anthology, Without A Map, co-edited with Nnedi Okorafor.
Born July 26, 1978 — Eve Myles, 41. She’s a a Welsh actress from Ystradgynlais, convenient as she played Gwen Cooper on Torchwood which was set in and shot in Cardiff. She previously played the servant girl Gwyneth in the Doctor Who episode “The Unquiet Dead” during the Ninth Doctor’s time. She and the full Torchwood cast did an an BBC 4 Radio Play called Golden Age in which they time travelled back to Imperial India. Highly recommended.
…Amazon’s new 8-episode series The Boys – about a team of non-powered mercenaries determined to take down the world’s premier team of evil, corrupt, soulless-corporate-shill superheroes – chooses to play in a sandbox that’s seen its share of use. A sandbox that’s been sitting out in the sun and rain and wind for decades, filling up with cigarette butts and cat poop and old toys left by previous storytellers, who’ve hit precisely the same themes.
This is even more true today than it was in 2006, when the comics series The Boys, by writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson – from which the Amazon show has been adapted, freely – first debuted.
…What The Boys was, at the time — especially if you’d been reading comics for years — was tiresome, more than anything else: Really? We’re still doing … this?
I’m happy to report that the Amazon series improves on its source material. It does so by taking the comics’ lazy inciting incident – the accidental death-by-superhero of the girlfriend of its main character Hughie (Jack Quaid) – and treating it as something more than solely a plot trigger. The series gives Hughie time to absorb, to grieve, to soak in the brutal incident so – even though it is depicted, lovingly, in garish slow-motion – it becomes something more than another nihilistic gag.
That’s a hallmark of the show, as it turns out. Where the comic was content to steer headlong into bloody spectacle and smugly snicker, the show serves up the spectacle (on a budget) and then … takes the time to inspect it, examine it, unpack it. To legitimately honor it, in other words. In its way.
(10) NEW TENANT IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Zombieland: Double
Tap comes to theaters October 18.
A decade after Zombieland became a hit film and a cult classic, the lead cast (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone) have reunited with director Ruben Fleischer (Venom) and the original writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (Deadpool) for Zombieland 2: Double Tap. In the sequel, written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham, through comic mayhem that stretches from the White House and through the heartland, these four slayers must face off against the many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family.
Although wackiness levels vary from video to video, the run times are all wisely kept brief. The only things that run longer than the time it takes to decide between regular avocados and organic ones are the cooking tutorials. Everything else—including charm-infused shorts like Christmas in Germany, produced by Condé Nast Traveler, which mixes traditional animation with stop-motion footage of Pfeffernüsse cookies and other German delicacies—runs at around the one-minute mark, making for a thoroughly undemanding watch.
This one’s very stfnal –
While this one’s just plain funky –
(12) NASFIC/WESTERCON IN UTAH. Rodford Edmiston has posted an
of photos from Spikecon at Flickr. Whether
intentionally or not, the photographer showed a genius for standing at the back
of a hall in which the only people were in the front row and on the platform.
STEPHAN PASTIS is the creator of the daily comic strip Pearls Before Swine, syndicated by Andrews McMeel Syndication. Stephan practiced law in the San Fransisco Bay area before following his love of cartooning and eventually seeing syndication with Pearls, which was launched in newspapers beginning December 31, 2001. The National Cartoonists Society awarded Pearls Before Swine the Best Newspaper Comic Strip in 2003 and in 2006. Stephan is also the author of the children’s book series Timmy Failure. Stephan lives in northern California with his wife Staci and their two children.
Covered up by a secretive Soviet Union at the time, the true number of deaths and illnesses caused by the nuclear accident are only now becoming clear.
Springtime was always the busiest time of year for the women working at the wool processing plant in Chernihiv, northern Ukraine. More than 21,000 tons of wool passed through the factory from farms all across the country during the annual sheep shearing period. The April and May of 1986 were no exception.
The workers pulled 12-hour shifts as they sorted the piles of raw fleece by hand before they were washed and baled. But then the women started getting sick.
Some suffered nosebleeds, others complained of dizziness and nausea. When the authorities were called to investigate, they found radiation levels in the factory of up to 180mSv/hr. Anyone exposed at these levels would exceed the total annual dose considered to be safe in many parts of the world today in less than a minute.
Fifty miles away was the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On 26 April 1986 reactor number four at the power plant suffered a catastrophic explosion that exposed the core and threw clouds of radioactive material over the surrounding area as a fire burned uncontrollably.
But Chernihiv was regarded to be well outside the exclusion zone that was hastily thrown up around the stricken plant and readings elsewhere in the town had shown it to have comparatively low levels of radiation.
…Had Hauer played Batty as another stone-faced Eurobaddie, “Blade Runner” itself might have been a more comfortably classifiable genre effort, the kind of movie that many viewers expected in 1982, the kind that promised to pit Ford, the star so familiar to us as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, against a new kind of futuristic nemesis. Instead, audiences were thrown off by the knotty neo-noir that Scott and the screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples delivered, the film flopped, and a cult masterpiece was born.
Look no further than Batty’s extended final battle with Deckard to see both the evidence of the movie’s idiosyncratic tone and how Hauer’s remarkable performance enhances it, practically deconstructing the simple plot before our eyes. The replicant chases the beleaguered, frightened Deckard around an abandoned building, toying with the cop and playing singsong children’s games. But there’s still a catch in Batty’s words, slight pauses scattered in unusual places. Seeing that Deckard has killed his replicant lover, Pris (Daryl Hannah), Batty offers, “I thought you were good. Aren’t you the … good man?” The awkwardness of the words, combined with the pause before “good man” seems to question the film’s very moral universe…
(16) X MARKS THE PLOT. ScreenRant fires up another Pitch
Meeting – this one for Dark Phoenix.
The X-Men franchise has been running for nearly two decades, and it all culminates with Dark Phoenix, a storyline that the movies already covered in 2006. Once again, Jean Grey goes absolutely bonkers with power, but this time Wolverine isn’t around to stab her. The movie has a pretty awful score on Rotten Tomatoes and definitely raises a lot of questions. Like what’s the deal with the aliens, are they bulletproof or not? Why was Quicksilver dismissed from the movie so quickly? What was up with that Phoenix moment in X-Men Apocalypse? Why do these movies keep jumping forward a decade each time? Is Magneto supposed to be 62 years old, and if so, why is a 42-year-old with no make-up playing him? Why did they show Mystique dying in the trailer?
[Thanks to Jerry Kaufman, Juliette Wade, John Hertz, Chip
Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, mlex, John King
Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories.
Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
Chernobyl (****, 2019, 200 minutes) with Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Paul Ritter, Jessie Buckley, Adam Nagaitis, Con O’Neill, Adrian Rawlins,Sam Troughton, Robert Emms,Emily Watson, David Dencik, Mark Lewis Jones, Alan Williams, Alex Ferns, Ralph Ineson, Barry Keoghan, Fares Fares and Michael McElhatton. Written by Craig Mazin, Directed by Johan Renck.
Bechdel Test: Passes (In Spades)
I can’t believe the news today Oh, I can’t close my eyes And make it go away How long? How long must we sing this song? How long, how long? ‘Cause tonight, we can be as one Tonight
Broken bottles under children’s feet Bodies strewn across the dead end street But I won’t heed the battle call It puts my back up Puts my back up against the wall
Sunday, Bloody Sunday…
The opening lyrics of U2’s political horror anthem “Sunday Bloody
Sunday,” released in March 1983, three years and one month before the Chernobyl
In Episode Four of HBO’s historical drama series Chernobyl,
entitled “The Happiness of All Mankind,” a Soviet soldier encounters an old
woman milking a cow in a barn. This soldier is strict under orders to evacuate
every civilian from an ever-widening exclusion zone around the city of Pripyat,
the site of the shattered and dangerously radioactive Chernobyl nuclear reactor
As the old woman milks the cow, she calmly maintains that she has
seen waves of young men with guns, bolsheviks, revolutionaries, thieves and
Germans alike, family and friends murdered or disappeared and she has stayed
here on her family farm. And she has no intention of leaving now. Nervous and
agitated, the soldier snatches the half-filled container of milk from beneath
the cow and unceremoniously dumps it outside. Returning, he finds the old woman
has resumed her milking with a different bucket. Angry, he draws his service
pistol from his holster, cocks it and forcefully says, “It’s time to leave!”
The old woman ignores him.
What happens next shocked me to my core and is one of the most
brilliantly disturbing moments in this moving, caustic and infuriating
docudrama, and in my opinion, one of the best dramas ever made for television.
Nothing can prepare you for some of the shocking images Chernobyl
The meeting of the city’s party bosses, who
decide to conceal the truth from the citizens and cut off communications from
the outside world to contain the bad news.
The face of a plant engineer, who is ordered,
under the threat of force, to go to the roof the shattered reactor building to
report on the state of the exploded core, knowing all too well that he will
have days to live after peering over the edge into the inferno.
A fireman, unknowingly picking up a piece of
graphite from the core of the reactor, is on the ground minutes later, holding
up a blistered and bloody hand.
The irradiated bodies of barely alive first
responders, whose flesh is literally melting off of their bodies.
In the middle of watching Chernobyl, I wrote the following post on
my Facebook wall:
After seeing three of Chernobyl’s five episodes, I have no doubt WHATSOEVER that it is one of the most excruciating, shocking, sorrowful dramas in the history of television. It is brilliantly acted through an astonishing ensemble and I have yet to detect a false note in its script or direction.
People, I’ve seen a TON of television in my life and I say this from the heart, you may never see a finer drama in your lifetime than HBO’s Chernobyl. SEE IT!
Over the past few weeks, I have also seen a lot of negative reviews in print and online, maligning Chernobyl as being sensationalistic, overwrought, scientifically and historically inaccurate and generally slanders the former Soviet Union, the people who lived in the city of Pripyat and those who heroically dealt with the crisis.
This, of course, is all bullshit.
Chernobyl’s writer, Craig Mazin and director Johan Renck were very
upfront in stating that this production was not a documentary but a
fictionalized version of events. In other words, Chernobyl is about as
accurate as other historical dramas such as the film adaptations of The
Right Stuff, All the President’s Men, Hidden Figures, Chariots of Fire, Selma
and Moneyball. These works don’t tell the LITERAL truth of their stories
but the ESSENTIAL truth of what happened. In an interview with Forbes Magazine,
said that “The lesson of Chernobyl isn’t that modernnuclear power is dangerous. The lesson is that
lying, arrogance, and suppression of criticism are dangerous”.
And while no docudrama or historical fiction is
above criticism or reproach because there have been plenty of ham-fisted and
wrongheaded productions that have been produced over the decades. But I get a
little annoyed when a remarkable work such as Chernobyl is treated as
though it must live up to an impossible standard, when in fact it has made no
pretense about being a dramatization, an amalgamation of the true facts mixed
with drama. And while drama,
mythmaking and truth may not be the same thing but their paths lead in the same
direction with a common destination: Illumination.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the
mini-series’ emotional heart is anchored by a trio of brilliant, powerhouse
performances; veteran character actor Jared Harris portrays Valery Legasov, one
of the real scientists who was recruited to help manage the crisis, Stellan
Skarsgård as his boss, Boris Shcherbina, a Council of Ministers’
deputy chairman who quickly finds out that all of the political power he wields
is no match for the forces of nature he has been commanded by the State to stop;
and Emily Watson as Ulana Khomyuk, a composite character created to stand in
for the scores of scientists who persistently defied the Soviet
bureaucracy in order to learn exactly what went wrong with the reactor design
and how the accident happened.
I offer a vivid validation in this review I
found on the public comments page of Chernobyl’s IMDB entry, from an actual
They got it right
24 May 2019 | by curiosityonmars
“I was born in Pripyat. I was four years old when the accident happened. Watching it is more horrifying than living through it. We didn’t know what we were dealing with. It’s not like a hurricane or an earthquake that takes you by surprise and causes massive destruction. Here everything looked normal, that day was just like any other day and yet you were told to abandon everything and just leave. The immediate casualties of the accident were not huge, but it had an enormous impact on lives of hundreds of thousands of people. I often think what my life would be like if this didn’t happen.
This mini series is a masterpiece, perfect in every way. Some people are complaining here that the actors don’t speak Russian. I’m a native speaker of Russian and Ukrainian, I don’t want the actors to speak Russian. You get so consumed by this show you stop noticing what language they speak.
It’s not a documentary, so not each and every detail is accurate, yet I would still call it authentic. The creators got the important stuff right… Both of my parents worked at Chernobyl plant, I grew up hearing stories and versions of what happened. I think this show is the best depiction of the Chernobyl disaster and the stories of its victims. This show is to remind all of us of the cost of lies.”
In the weeks that have passed since I saw Chernobyl,
I have been thinking about next year’s Hugo Awards ballot and what I might be
nominating in the Best Dramatic Presentation-Long Form category. And, as much
as I loved Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, Star Trek Discovery,
Black Mirror, The Umbrella Academy and probably the upcoming season of Stranger
Things, I cannot bring myself to nominate any of them next year. What U2
sang about the terrorism, riots, bloody countermeasures and lies told in
Northern Ireland in the 1970’s, easily applies to the leaders and policies of
Soviet Union in the 1980’s and, more significantly, today’s brutally toxic
I think that Chernobyl will cast a long shadow
for the next generation of visual artists, as the high bar for what can be
dramatized and how it should be done. In my opinion, efforts like this should
not be ignored nor go unrewarded by the fannish community.
Chernobyl will be the lone entry on my ballot in the BDP-Long Form category next year.
And it’s true we are immune When fact is fiction and TV reality And today the millions cry We eat and drink while tomorrow they die
the real battle just begun (Sunday, Bloody Sunday) to claim the victory Jesus won
On Sunday Bloody Sunday, yeah Sunday Bloody Sunday