(1) “TOO LAZY TO FAIL.” WIRED Magazine interviewed Gregory Benford about his new book, in which a familiar sff figure is a character: “Sci-Fi Author Robert Heinlein Was Basically MacGyver”. Benford also talks about several other subjects, including Philip K. Dick.
Robert Heinlein is the legendary author of such classic works as Starship Troopers, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land. His books have influenced generations of artists and scientists, including physicist and science fiction writer Gregory Benford.
“He was one of the people who propelled me forward to go into the sciences,” Benford says in Episode 348 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Because his depiction of the prospect of the future of science, engineering—everything—was so enticing. He was my favorite science fiction writer.”
Heinlein appears as a character in Benford’s new novel, a time travel thriller called Rewrite. The novel depicts Heinlein as a MacGyver-esque man of action who dispatches his enemies with the aid of improvised traps. Benford, who met Heinlein in the late 1960s and knew him throughout his life, says this is an extremely accurate portrayal.
“He had a degree in engineering from Annapolis, and he liked doing things himself,” Benford says. “You can certainly see it in his novels, which are full of people rigging stuff up and making it work. He loved that kind of thing.”
(Note: The item’s subtitle references a Heinlein character in Time Enough for Love who also had some things in common with the author.)
(2) IT PAYS TO BE LAZY. Hey, there’s even research behind this – at CNBC, “Science: Lazy people are likely to be smarter, more successful, and better employees. Who knew?”
Are lazy people really smarter and more successful?
That certainly doesn’t add up. But part of the problem might have to do with how we view laziness itself; it’s very possible that the things we associate with laziness are actually not so indicative of laziness at all.
Bill Gates has often been quoted as saying, “I always choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” Whether Gates even said that in the first place is questionable, but the quote still gets repeated — and that’s because there’s some truth in it.
Many obsessively critical thinkers (a.k.a. people with a high “need for cognition”) are concerned with reducing wasteful actions, and instead prefer to use efficient processes….
(3) ZONE TRANSFERS TO WEST END. The Twilight Zone is coming to the West End at London’s Ambassadors Theatre March 4, 2019 after its initial run elsewhere. Poster photos by Steve Green.
The 1960s CBS series has been adapted for the stage by Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play) as eight stories from original writers Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont, and Richard Matheson unfold. Richard Jones directs.
(4) SFF ROMANCE HONORED. The finalists of genre interest for the 2018 Australian Romance Readers Awards are:
Favourite Paranormal Romance
- Clash of Storms by Bec McMaster
- Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston
- Hunt: Red Riding Hood Retold by Demelza Carlton
- Lionheart by Thea Harrison
- Ocean Light by Nalini Singh
- The Chosen by Thea Harrison
- When Darkness Follows by Athena Daniels
- Almost Perfect by Tamara Martin
- Breakeven by Michelle Diener
- Cursed by Keri Arthur
- Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews
(5) BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Berlin film festival ended tonight with various awards being handed out (and there are a lot of awards). The full list is here in a lengthy PDF document. Most of the winners are not genre.
Two winners are genre interest. The Teddy Award for the best LGBT feature film as well as the Teddy Readers Award, awarded by the readers of the website queer.de went to Breve Historia Del Planeta Verde (A Brief Story from the Green Planet), an Argentinian movie about a transwoman taking a road trip with a purple alien through rural Argentina, which sounds pretty fabulous. Here is the Teddy Award website and here is a bit more about the movie from the official Berlin film festival website.
And this year’s honorary Golden Bear was awarded to Charlotte Rampling, whose genre roles include Zardoz and the upcoming Dune adaptation by Denis Villeneuve. More here.
(6) THE GAME’S AFOOT. Cheryl Morgan tweeted photos of her walking tour of Dublin, especially the vicinity where the Worldcon will be held. The thread starts here.
(7) SMITH OBIT. Disney archivist Dave Smith died February 15. Disney Parks Blog profiles him in “Remembering Dave Smith” .
Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith passed away in Burbank, California, on February 15, 2019. He was 78. Dave dedicated his four-decade career at The Walt Disney Company to preserving Disney’s precious treasures from film, television, theme parks, and beyond. Named a Disney Legend in 2007, Dave was beloved by fans around the world for his wide knowledge of the Company’s rich history, which he shared in books and through his popular magazine column “Ask Dave.”
(8) GANZ OBIT. Swiss actor Bruno Ganz died today. Cora Buhlert recollects: “Genre roles include Werner Herzog’s take on Nosferatu, Wim Wenders’ Der Himmel über Berlin/Wings of Desire and its sequel Faraway, So Close, and The Boys From Brazil, which I’ve totally forgotten he was in. Oh, yes, and he gave the best ever portrayal of Adolf Hitler in Downfall, i.e. the movie all of those subtitled ranting Hitler videos on YouTube were taken from. My parents actually saw him on stage in the 1960s, when he played at the Bremen theatre early in his career.”
The New York Times has the story — “Bruno Ganz, Who Played an Angel and Hitler, Is Dead at 77”.
By many standards, the greatest honor Mr. Ganz received was possession of the Iffland-Ring, a diamond-studded piece of jewelry named for an 18th-century German actor and given to the “most significant and most worthy actor of the German-speaking theater.” When he received it in 1996, as a bequest from his predecessor, Josef Meinrad, he was only the fifth actor to have held it since the 1870s.
Mr. Ganz admitted that his convincing performances seemed to transcend reality for some fans. “People really seemed to think of me as a guardian angel” after “Wings of Desire,” he told The Irish Times in 2005. “People would bring their children before me for a blessing or something.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born February 16, 1909 – George Gross. Pulp artist whose first cover work was for Mystery Novels Magazine starting with their March 1935 cover. He then had a very long association with Jungle Stories from 1941 to 1954. In the 70s, he illustrated The Avenger series of paperback books which were published by Warner Paperbacks. (Died 2003.)
- Born February 16, 1953 – Mike Glyer, 66. Happy Birthday! OGH has won the Hugo Award 11 times in two categories: File 770 won the Best Fanzine Hugo seven times. He himself has won the Best Fan Writer Hugo four times. Chicon IV, the 1982 Worldcon, presented him a special award for “Keeping the Fan in Fanzine Publishing.” It is even rumored that he might have written several pieces of genre short fiction.
- Born February 16, 1953 – Roberta Williams, 66. Video game designer and writer, and considered to be the creator of the graphic adventure game genre. Her work include: King’s Quest, Phantasmagoria, and Mystery House. She and her husband founded Sierra Entertainment. Are video games genre? Depends on the story being told, and her stories were some of the best.
- Born February 16, 1954 – Iain M. Banks. I think I’ve read the entire Culture series even though I certainly didn’t read them in the order they were written. My favorites? Certainly The Hydrogen Sonata was bittersweet for being the last ever, Use of Weapons and the very first, Consider Phlebas are also my favs. And though not genre, I’m still going to make a plug for Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. It’s about whisky, George Bush and the Iraq War. Oh and his love of sports cars. (Died 2013.)
- Born February 16, 1957 – LeVar Burton, 62. Well y’all know what series he was on and what character he played that he’s best known for so I can dispense with that. Other genre appearances include The Supernaturals, a zombie film, as Pvt. Michael Osgood, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies voicing Black Lightning and in another zombie film Rise of the Zombies as Dr. Dan Halpern.
- Born February 16, 1958 – Ice-T, 61. Really how could I pass up an actor who played a kangaroo named T-Saint In Tank Girl? It’s not his only genre appearance as he did show up in Johnny Mnemonic as J-Bone. Remember the Warwick Davis Leprechaun horror series I noted on his Birthday? Well he’s in The fifth one, Leprechaun in the Hood as Mack Daddy. And he’s in Bloodrunners as Chesterfield, the lead bloodsucker. He was also in Frankenpenis but frankly let’s not go that way..
- Born February 16, 1964 – Christopher Eccleston, 55. The Ninth Doctor and the first of the new series of Doctors who despite the all the controversy among fans actually only agreed to one season. Other genre work includes 28 Days Later, The Seeker, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (a truly shitty film), Thor: The Dark World, The Leftovers, The Second Coming and The Borrowers. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Barbican Theatre, both in London.
- Born February 16, 1968 – Warren Ellis, 51. English comic-book writer, novelist, and screenwriter. Ok I think Planetary is fucking brilliant as is Global Frequency and Transmetropolitan. His work on The Authority is not to sniffed either, nor should we overlook Iron Man: Extremis. He’s got two rather superb novels, Crooked Little Vein and Gun Machine, that are not genre but which if if you like hard boiled detective fiction, I strongly recommend.
- Born February 16, 1972 – Sarah Clarke, 57. Renée Dwyer In The Twilight Saga franchise and starred on The Tomorrow People series as Marla Jameson. She was also in The Booth at the End series as Sister Carmel
- Born February 16, 1974 – Mahershala Ali, 45. First shows up in the genre in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ss Tizzy Weathers. He was. Obsessed in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and voices Aaron Davis / The Prowler In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a film on my short list to purchase from iTunes. He was on The 4400 as Richard Tyler, and was on Marvel’s Luke Cage as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes.
(10) HEARTS & RUBBISH. Valentine’s Day is past—thankfully so for some people. Now Tim Surette, writing for TV Guide, wants to serve up “10 Terrible TV Couples Who Will Remind You Valentine’s Day Is Trash.” Genre shows figure prominently.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to sit your special someone down, look deep into their eyes, and coo, “Why the hell did Rory ever go out with Dean?” Love is all over television, but sometimes television gets love W-R-O-N-G.
We’re looking at 10 instances of bad love from some of our favorite television shows. Some of these scarred us in the past, some are still going, but all of them are relationships that were doomed from the beginning despite the shows’ best efforts to make us swoon and ship. Nice try, TV!
While Surette has plenty to say about each couple, the list looks like this:
- Ross and Rachel, Friends
- Veronica and Duncan, Veronica Mars
- Damon and Elena, The Vampire Diaries
- Jon and Dany, Game of Thrones
- Rory and Dean, Gilmore Girls
- Ted and Robin, How I Met Your Mother
- Sayid and Shannon, Lost
- Olivia and Fitz, Scandal
- Rosita and Father Gabriel, The Walking Dead
- Dawson and Joey, Dawson’s Creek
(11) THE HERMITAGE. Fanzine fans may be interested to know that Harry Warner Jr.’s old home in Hagerstown, MD is up for sale. I sent many an issue of File 770 to the Hermit of Hagerstown at 423 Summit Ave., and looked forward to letters of comment with that return address.
(12) ICE PIRATES! BBC News: “Vodka firm loses valuable iceberg water in apparent heist”.
A Canadian vodka distiller has lost 30,000 litres of valuable iceberg water in what appears to be a heist.
Iceberg Vodka CEO David Meyers says he is mystified as to who – or why – someone would have stolen the water.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say someone made away with the liquid – enough to fill a tractor-trailer tanker – from a warehouse in the historic community of Port Union, Newfoundland.
The water is valued at between C$9,000 ($6,775; £5,200) and C$12,000.
[…] The water is insured but the company is only able to harvest it in the spring from the ice giants that appear annually on Newfoundland and Labrador’s coast along the famed “iceberg alley”.
(13) STAY FROSTY. Paul Weimer has good things to say about this northern tale: “Microreview [book]: The Song of All, by Tina LeCount Myers”.
The Song of All uses Saami culture and mythology, as well as a crunchy set of characters and motivations to portray a frozen and bloody tale.
…This is a novel that reads much more like a saga than an epic fantasy novel, and a saga told to locals more than a secondary fantasy novel in typical fashion trying to build that out. One could imagine Irjan’s story, as written here, being presented for the benefit of the inhabitants of that world, who would already know what, for instance, a duollji is. The novel is far more interested in actions, and the consequences of those actions. So while the novel is light on traditional worldbuilding, it is very strong on plot. There is a rich tapestry of character stories and motivations here that, when the novel gets out of that early roughness, propels the narratives of the characters forward in a very readable fashion…
(14) A MONTH’S WORTH OF GOOD STUFF. Lady Business chronicles “Our Favourite Media of January 2019”. For example, Susan praises this book:
Witchmark by C. L. Polk — Oh no, I loved it. Miles Singer, an army doctor turned psychiatrist is treating returned soldiers with PTSD – until a dying man charges him with solving his murder. It’s so satisfying – the mystery is compelling, like full on “I just lost three days of my life and immediately started rereading the book to pick up the clues better” levels of compelling, and I may have raptor screeched about both the romance and the sibling relationships that we get to see here. The world-building is superb, and the way it gets revealed and built up made me so happy! … Plus, I spent most of the book viscerally angry at the secondary characters, and I was supposed to be! It’s been so long since I got to be angry at a book for the reasons that the author wanted me to be angry, and I’m so glad C. L. Polk brought that joy back to me. Basically, I adored it, and I am desperate for the sequel to come out now!
(15) WILL YOU SHELL OUT FOR THIS? Exciting is not the word I would choose. (GeekTyrant: “New Image Released For Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”).
Earlier this week it was announced that DC Entertainment and Nickelodeon were teaming up to produce an animated film called Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Today we’ve got a new image from this exciting crossover film and it features the Ninja Turtles coming in contact with The Dark Knight.
The film is based on the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics miniseries by James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II. The story “will see the turtles meeting Batman via a transdimensional encounter, and feature our heroes teaming up to face Batman’s deadly rogues gallery.”
(16) IT BARS MY DESTINATION. The proposed route of the US border fence (or wall or whatever it’s currently called) with Mexico cuts right through a spaceport under construction (Bloomberg: “SpaceX Texas Launch Site Risks Being Split in Two by Border Wall”), which seems to be an odd definition of “border.”
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has a big stake in the battle over border security being waged in Congress: a launchpad on the U.S.-Mexico border that it plans to use for rockets carrying humans around the world and eventually to Mars.
Democratic lawmakers have taken up the cause of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and are trying to thwart the Trump administration’s efforts to build a border barrier that could cut across the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico coast near Brownsville.
[…] Representative Filemon Vela, a Democrat whose district includes the SpaceX facility, said the company isn’t happy about the plans, though it hasn’t publicly raised objections.
“They are way behind the scenes on this, they are lying pretty low,” said Vela, citing information he was given by local officials. “SpaceX doesn’t want to offend DHS.”
(17) DELVING INTO EARTH’S PAST. The “Dinosaur Pictures and Facts” site allows you to see the shape of the continents and oceans at many times in Earth’s past. You can enter an address to locate it on past landmasses (or ocean depths) from the present back to 750 million years ago. Each selection also comes with a blurb about the diversity of life at that time.
Here’s the entry for 240 million years ago.
Early Triassic. Oxygen levels are significantly lower due to the extinction of many land plants. Many corals went extinct, with reefs taking millions of years to re-form. Small ancestors to birds, mammals, and dinosaurs survive.
(18) FLYING STANDBY. Reuters: “NASA mulls buying new rides to space from Russia amid programme delays”.
NASA said on Friday it was weighing an option to buy two additional astronaut seats aboard a Russian rocket as a contingency plan against further delays in the launch systems being developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Boeing Co.
A possible purchase “provides flexibility and back-up capability” as the companies build rocket-and-capsule launch systems to return astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from U.S. soil for the first time since NASA’s Space Shuttle program went dark in 2011.
(19) TITLE TUNE. Anna Nimmhaus penned a verse to go along with today’s title —
[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Gregory Benford, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]