Now, where were we when we were so rudely interrupted?
(1) INFURNITY. Camestros Felapton, the world’s most understanding cat owner, provides his pet with “Tim’s Facial Hair Guide to Infinity War”.
So, I’ve explained before that Timothy doesn’t distinguish human faces well. He is also confused by facial hair. OK strictly speaking he is confused by human skin, which he assumes is fur and hence is doubly confused by facial hair which he thinks is fur that is growing out of fur. Look, the main thing is he finds beards confusing and panics if I shave.
So, Marvel’s Infinity War has many characters and about 40%+ of them have facial hair (90%+ if we count eyebrows – do eyebrows count as facial hair? I assume so.) Some of them i.e. Captain America have gained beards for this film.
So to assist Tim to keep track, here is a field guide to various beard styles in the film….
(2) PUBLIC ASKED FOR PODCAST NOMINATIONS. The Parsec Awards Steering Committee is accepting nominations of podcasts for the 2018 Parsec Awards through June 15. Nominate here.
Any material released between May 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018 is eligible for the 2018 awards. Material released needs to be free for download and released via a mechanism that allows for subscriptions. Thus, YouTube, Facebook, etc.. series are eligible.
If you are a podcaster or author, please feel free to nominate your own podcast or story
(3) MORE STAR WARS. Disney announced “Star Wars Resistance, Anime-Inspired Series, Set for Fall Debut”. The series is set in the era before The Force Awakens.
StarWars.com is thrilled to announce that production has begun on Star Wars Resistance, an exciting new animated adventure series about Kazuda Xiono, a young pilot recruited by the Resistance and tasked with a top-secret mission to spy on the growing threat of the First Order. It will premiere this fall on Disney Channel in the U.S. and thereafter, on Disney XD and around the world.
(4) BROADDUS JOINS APEX. Maurice Broaddus has been named nonfiction editor for Apex Magazine. Jason Sizemore, Editor-in-Chief, made the announcement April 2.
Maurice is a prolific and well-regarded author who works in a multitude of genres. He is also the Apex Magazine reprints editor and now wears two hats for our publication. Upcoming authors Maurice has lined up for essays include Mur Lafferty, Mary SanGiovanni, and Tobias S. Buckell.
You can find Maurice Broaddus on Twitter at @mauricebroaddus and online at www.mauricebroaddus.com. His novella “Buffalo Soldiers” was recently published at Tor.com.
(5) SWANWICK CITES LE GUIN ON PRESENT TENSE: Michael Swanwick would be authority enough for many, but first he appeals for support to “Le Guin on Present Tense” before handing down the stone tablets:
Here’s the rule, and it covers all cases: Only use the present tense if there is some reason for doing so that justifies losing some of your readers and annoying others. (This rule goes double for future tense.) Otherwise, use the past tense.
(6) THINGS FALL APART; THE CENTRE CANNOT HOLD: Aalto University reports 2.7 billion tweets confirm: echo chambers in Twitter are very real.
Bipartisan users, who try to bridge the echo chambers, pay a price for their work: they become less central in their network, lose connections to their communities and receive less endorsements from others.
(7) STARTING OUT AS A WOMAN SFF AUTHOR. From Fantasy Café: “Women in SF&F Month: Ann Aguirre”:
…I first sold to New York in 2007, over eleven years ago. That book was Grimspace, a story I wrote largely to please myself because it was hard for me to find the sort of science fiction that I wanted to read. I love space opera, but in the past, I found that movies and television delivered more of the stories I enjoyed. At the time, I was super excited to be published in science fiction and fantasy.
My first professional appearance was scheduled at a small con in Alabama. I was so excited for that, so fresh and full of hope. Let’s just say that my dreams were dashed quite spectacularly. I was sexually harassed by multiple colleagues and the men I encountered seemed to think I existed to serve them. To say that my work wasn’t taken seriously is an understatement. That was only reinforced when I made my first appearance at SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) six months later.
There, the moderator called me the ‘token female’, mispronounced my last name without checking with me first (she checked with the male author seated next to me), and the male panelists spoke over me, interrupted me at will, and gave me very little chance to speak. I remember quite clearly how humiliated I was, while also hoping that it wasn’t noticeable to the audience.
Dear Reader, it was very noticeable. Afterward, David Brin, who was in the audience, came up to me with a sympathetic look and he made a point of shaking my hand. He said, “Well, I was very interested in what you had to say.” With a pointed stress on the word “I.”…
(8) WTF? Can you believe somebody is comparing what they’re marketing to “The Veldt” as if it’s a good thing? “Madison Square Garden cites Ray Bradbury as an influence on upcoming Sphere Arena in Las Vegas”.
Madison Square Garden officials lifted the curtain a bit on their MSG Sphere Arena entertainment venues coming to Las Vegas and London, with a demonstration Thursday that hinted at advanced technology going into the design and experiences for audiences within the new-generation venues.
In his presentation at the Forum in Inglewood, which his company rejuvenated in 2014 with a $100-million face and body lift, Madison Square Garden Co. chairman James L. Dolan cited a short story from science-fiction author and futurist Ray Bradbury’s 1951 anthology “The Illustrated Man” as something of a spiritual model for the new facilities.
In particular, he referenced Bradbury’s story “The Veldt,” which centered on a high-tech room of the future, called the “liquid crystal room,” which could synthesize any environment in which children desired to play or explore.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
- April 28, 2007 — Ashes of actor James Doohan and of Apollo 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper soared into space aboard a rocket.
(10) SIXTY-THREE. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus takes his monthly whack at my favorite-in-the-Sixties prozine: “[April 27, 1963] Built to Last? (May 1963 Analog)”.
If this trend continues, we can assume that our children and grandchildren will not only have Burroughs, Wells, Verne, Shelley, and Baum to read, but also reprinted copies of our present-day science fiction, as well as the SF of the future (their present). Perhaps they’ll all be available via some computerized library — tens of thousands of volumes in a breadbox-shaped device, for instance.
The question, then, is whether or not our children will remember our current era fondly enough to want reprints from it. Well, if this month’s Analog be a representative sample, the answer is a definitive…maybe.
(11) HORTON ON HUGOS. Catching up with Rich Horton’s commentaries about the 2018 Hugo nominees and who he’s voting for.
My views here are fairly simple. It’s a decent shortlist, but a bifurcated one. There are three nominees that are neck and neck in my view, all first-rate stories and well worth a Hugo. And there are three that are OK, but not special – in my view not Hugo-worthy (but not so obviously unworthy that I will vote them below No Award.)…
This is really a very strong shortlist. The strongest shortlist in years and years, I’d say. Two are stories I nominated, and two more were on my personal shortlist of stories I considered nominating. The other two stories are solid work, though without quite the little bit extra I want in an award winner….
This is by no means a bad shortlist. Every story on it is at least pretty decent. …
(12) SIPPING TIME. Charles Payseur finds stories with reasons for the season: “Quick Sips – Fireside Magazine April 2018”.
Spring might finally be arriving, and at Fireside Magazine that means the stories are about rebirth and new beginnings, even as they’re about decay and endings. For me, at least, spring always brings to mind thaw. A thawing of the world after the long freeze of winter. Which means new growth, new green, but also means revealing all the death that the snow concealed. The roadkill, the rot, the dead leaves not yet turned to mulch. And these stories find characters at this point, seeing all around them the evidence of death and pain, and having to make the decision to also see the life. To see the good, and to try and foster that good, to help it grow. These are stories that show people pushing back against the pressure to die, to be silent, and embrace a future full of the possibility of failure, yes, but also full of the hope of success. To the reviews!
(13) GENIUSES AT WORK. Nine letters from the 1940s by Freeman Dyson show “Another Side of Feynman” at Nautilus.
l through a long life I had three main concerns, with a clear order of priority. Family came first, friends second, and work third.”
So writes the pioneering theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson in the introduction to his newly published collection of letters, Maker of Patterns. Spanning about four decades, the collection presents a first-person glimpse into a life that witnessed epochal changes both in world history and in physics.
Here, we present short excerpts from nine of Dyson’s letters, with a focus on his relationship with the physicist Richard Feynman. Dyson and Feynman had both professional and personal bonds: Dyson helped interpret and draw attention to Feynman’s work—which went on to earn a Nobel Prize—and the two men traveled together and worked side by side.
Taken together, these letters present a unique perspective of each man. Feynman’s effervescent energy comes through, as does Dyson’s modesty and deep admiration for his colleague.
(14) ADVANCED TRAINING. Did MZW graduate from this course?
(15) EJECT. Yes, this is me: I sometime I feel like I have finished delivering the info yet haven’t figured out how to end the sentence. “Your Speech Is Packed With Misunderstood, Unconscious Messages” at Nautilus.
Imagine standing up to give a speech in front of a critical audience. As you do your best to wax eloquent, someone in the room uses a clicker to conspicuously count your every stumble, hesitation, um and uh; once you’ve finished, this person loudly announces how many of these blemishes have marred your presentation.
This is exactly the tactic used by the Toastmasters public-speaking club, in which a designated “Ah Counter” is charged with tallying up the speaker’s slip-ups as part of the training regimen. The goal is total eradication. The club’s punitive measures may be extreme, but they reflect the folk wisdom that ums and uhs betray a speaker as weak, nervous, ignorant, and sloppy, and should be avoided at all costs, even in spontaneous conversation.
Many scientists, though, think that our cultural fixation with stamping out what they call “disfluencies” is deeply misguided. Saying um is no character flaw, but an organic feature of speech; far from distracting listeners, there’s evidence that it focuses their attention in ways that enhance comprehension.
Disfluencies arise mainly because of the time pressures inherent in speaking. Speakers don’t pre-plan an entire sentence and then mentally press “play” to begin unspooling it. If they did, they’d probably need to pause for several seconds between each sentence as they assembled it, and it’s doubtful that they could hold a long, complex sentence in working memory. Instead, speakers talk and think at the same time, launching into speech with only a vague sense of how the sentence will unfold, taking it on faith that by the time they’ve finished uttering the earlier portions of the sentence, they’ll have worked out exactly what to say in the later portions.
(16) A MARCH IN MAY. Naomi Kritzer tweeted photos from a Mayday parade – including a notorious purple cat (who may or may not be named Timothy!…) Jump on the thread here:
(17) WHAT’S THAT SMELL. BBC tells how “Sentinel tracks ships’ dirty emissions from orbit” — unclear they’re picking up individual polluters yet, but that could come.
Sentinel-5P was launched in October last year and this week completed its in-orbit commissioning phase.
But already it is clear the satellite’s data will be transformative.
This latest image reveals the trail of nitrogen dioxide left in the air as ships move in and out of the Mediterranean Sea.
The “highway” that the vessels use to navigate the Strait of Gibraltar is easily discerned by S5P’s Tropomi instrument.
(18) EGGING THEM ON. Did anybody see this coming? “Chicken Run 2: Sequel confirmed after 18-year wait”.
The Oscar-winning animation studio hasn’t set a release date yet. Its announcement comes 18 years after the original flew onto the big screen.
Chicken Run is the highest-grossing stop-motion animation film of all-time – banking £161.3m at the box office.
(19) HOLD THE BACON. On the other hand, don’t expect to see this anytime soon: Hollywood Reporter headline: ““Tremors’ Reboot Starring Kevin Bacon Dead at Syfy”
Here’s a headline you don’t read every day: A TV reboot of a feature film toplined by the original star is not moving forward.
Syfy has opted to pass on its TV follow-up to 1990 feature film Tremors, starring Kevin Bacon.
…Bacon broke the news himself, writing on his verified Instagram page that he was “[s]ad to report that my dream of revisiting the world of Perfection will not become a reality. Although we made a fantastic pilot (IMHO) the network has decided not to move forward. Thanks to our killer cast and everyone behind the scenes who worked so hard. And always keep one eye out for GRABOIDS!”
(20) CHESLEYS. Here is the Association for Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA) “2018 Chesley Award Suggestions List (for 2017 Works)”. The members have finished making nominations and ASFA says the finalists will be posted in a few weeks.
(21). UNSUSPECTED GOLDMINE. American news infamously neglects most countries of the world, but who knew there were big sf doings in Bulgaria? At Aeon, Victor Petrov discusses “Communist robot dreams”.
The police report would have baffled the most grizzled detective. A famous writer murdered in a South Dakota restaurant full of diners; the murder weapon – a simple hug. A murderer with no motive, and one who seemed genuinely distraught at what he had done. You will not find this strange murder case in the crime pages of a local US newspaper, however, but in a Bulgarian science-fiction story from the early 1980s. The explanation thus also becomes more logical: the killer was a robot.
The genre was flourishing in small Bulgaria in the last two decades of socialism, and the country became the biggest producer of robotic laws per capita, supplementing Isaac Asimov’s famous three with two more canon rules – and 96 satirical ones. Writers such as Nikola Kesarovski (who wrote the above murder mystery) and Lyuben Dilov grappled with questions of the boundaries between man and machine, brain and computer. The anxieties of their literature in this period reflected a society preoccupied with technology and cybernetics, an unlikely bastion of the information society that arose on both sides of the Iron Curtain from the 1970s onwards.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Jason, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day johnstick.]