The investigator, a Maryland attorney who specializes in employment law and also conducts HR training on the avoidance of illegal discrimination and harassment in the workplace, found that two complaints about “conduct in personal relationships” were unsubstantiated, while concluding that two complaints about the treatment of Balticon 54 volunteers was substantiated.
The BSFS Board of Directors has asked Gasior to resign as Chair of Balticon 55. Vice Chair Yakira Heistand will take over as this year’s con chair.
The club’s press release says —
The investigation has been completed into allegations that Eric Gasior violated the Code of Conduct of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS”). The investigator found that two complaints about conduct in personal relationships were unsubstantiated. Complaints were substantiated about the treatment of Balticon Tech Department volunteers during preparations for Balticon 54.
The BSFS Board has asked Mr. Gasior to resign as Chair of the upcoming Balticon 55, which also entails no longer serving on the BSFS Board. Ms. Yakira Heistand will move up from Vice Chair and will serve as the Chair of the Con. The Board is taking other steps recommended by an independent investigator to make organizational improvements including providing anti-harassment training for all BSFS leadership, requiring all BSFS volunteers to sign the Code of Conduct, and creating new policies on handling Code of Conduct investigations.
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (“BSFS”) received complaints against Eric Gasior from four people who claimed that Mr. Gasior had violated the BSFS Code of Conduct and/or engaged in other actions inconsistent with a leadership position within the organization. Mr. Gasior was Vice Chair of BSFS’s Balticon 54 and was elected to serve as Con Chair of Balticon 55. Both positions are part of the Board of Directors.
The BSFS Board is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees and volunteers at BSFS events and Balticon. Any complaints of Code of Conduct violations are taken very seriously. To resolve concerns that the Board did not make an effective response to the complaints against Mr. Gasior, we retained Melissa Menkel McGuire, Esq. of Wright, Constable & Skeen, LLC to conduct an independent, thorough, and fair investigation of the complaints against Mr. Gasior.
The full report is not being released to protect the privacy of the complainants, witnesses, and Mr. Gasior. Further, maintaining confidentiality creates an environment in which people will feel comfortable reporting issues of harassment, discrimination and other violations of the Code of Conduct while protecting the integrity of investigations.
The nature of the complaints and the investigator’s conclusions are as follows:
Complaint #1: Mr. Gasior failed to respect personal boundaries during a friendship with the complainant, who also expressed concern over Mr. Gasior’s leadership role at BSFS.
This complaint was found unsubstantiated.
Complaint # 2: Mr. Gasior failed to respect personal boundaries in a prior personal relationship in 2015 and 2016. The allegations were unrelated to any BSFS event. The complainant’s articulated reason for submitting the complaint to BSFS was due to a concern about Mr. Gasior having a position of power within BSFS.
This complaint was found unsubstantiated.
Complaints #3 and #4: Two people complained that Mr. Gasior engaged in actions that were disruptive to members of the Technical Department during preparations for Balticon 54.
The investigator found that these complaints were substantiated.
The BSFS Board is taking the following actions in response to seven recommendations in Ms. McGuire’s report:
1. The Board has informed the complainants of the results of their individual complaints. A copy of the investigation report will not be provided to any party. The report is subject to attorney-client privilege and the Board is not waiving this privilege on the advice of counsel.
2. The Board will release a public statement addressing the disposition of all complaints without identifying complainants by name. In further respect of the privacy of complainants and witnesses no details beyond the text of this statement will be released.
3. Under the BSFS By-Laws, the Board does not have the power to remove Mr. Gasior as Chair of Balticon 55. He has not agreed our request to voluntarily step aside from that position. Accordingly, his continuance as Con Chair and member of the Board is subject to a review by the BSFS membership at the monthly meeting on April 10, 2021.
4. Effective immediately, all volunteers are required to sign an acknowledgment that they have read the Code of Conduct and will abide by its requirements. Submissions from current volunteers are due not later than May 1, 2021. New volunteers will meet this requirement at the beginning of their service. An online form will be provided in the near future to accomplish this.
5. The Board will develop and adopt a policy and guidance for conducting any future investigations of Code of Conduct violations.
6. An anti-harassment training program for all BSFS and Balticon leadership and critical personnel will be implemented to minimize the potential for Code of Conduct violations at Balticon, BSFS events, or through BSFS controlled communication channels. The program will include a requirement for documenting training completion. A guidance document will be provided to volunteers in other positions. The program will be implemented before the return to in-person Balticons.
7. The Board will explore ways to improve communications within the Balticon Committee and strengthen our ability to treat our volunteers with the respect they deserve.
The Baltimore Science Fictions Society, Inc., a 501(c)(3) all volunteer organization, exists to promote the creation and appreciation of science fiction and fantasy cultural arts primarily through literary art forms, but also embracing the many related graphical, musical, and theatrical creations inspired by SF. The public is welcome to attend a variety of BSFS sponsored events. Please see the calendar on www.bsfs.org/bsfscldr.htm for the current event calendar.
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has announced a new investigation of harassment complaints to be conducted by an outside investigator who will be looking into complaints the club addressed in an earlier statement. In the meantime, Balticon 55 chair Eric Gasior has voluntarily stepped aside from the club Board and the Balticon Committee, with Vice Chair Yakira Heistand to serve as the acting con chair.
The club’s press release says —
On the evening of January 4, 2021, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) Board of Directors (the Board) released a statement on the completed investigation of harassment complaints submitted against Mr. Gasior, the Con-Chair of the upcoming Balticon 55 convention.
At the monthly BSFS business meeting of the general membership on January 9, 2021, a BSFS member made a motion to reopen the harassment investigation. During debate on the motion, attendees raised concerns about the thoroughness, completeness, and transparency of the harassment investigation. Additionally, a previously anonymous complainant voluntarily identified herself as a complainant and repeated her complaint. After much discussion, the motion was tabled to be taken up at a closed meeting of the Board to be held the next day, January 10, 2021.
In light of the new information and the concerns the BSFS business meeting raised, the Board decided to engage an impartial, independent, outside investigator to perform a new, thorough, complete, and transparent investigation into the harassment complaints.
Using resources maintained by a locally based association of non-profits, the Board developed and is evaluating a list of investigators holding expertise relevant to performing a harassment investigation. From the list the Board will identify the best investigator available to perform a timely investigation. The Board’s expectation is to engage an investigator within the coming week to start work at the earliest date possible. The Board will provide the investigator with all the evidence the Board collected during the previous investigation. The Board will fully support the investigator’s efforts to gather additional evidence.
In the interest of cooperating with this investigation while Balticon 55 planning proceeds, Mr. Gasior has voluntarily stepped aside from the Board and the Balticon Committee for the duration of the investigation. Mr. Gasior’s status as a Life Member of BSFS remains unchanged. Effective immediately, and for the duration of the investigation, Ms Yakira Heistand, the current Vice Chair of Balticon 55, will serve as the acting Balticon 55 Con-Chair.
Upon completion of the investigation the Board will work with the investigator to publish the investigator’s findings and report. Within the context of the results of the investigation the Board may revisit the question of the Balticon 55 Con-Chair authority. The Board is committed to acting in accordance with the results of the investigation.
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) Board of Directors has issued a statement about their investigation into “allegations that Mr. Eric Gasior acted inappropriately and/or violated BSFS’s Code of Conduct.” Gasior was Vice Chair of the Virtual Balticon 54 (2020) and will continue as Chair Balticon 55 (2021) now that the Board has determined his “actions were not behavior prohibited under the Code of Conduct.” However, “they did represent repeated and concerning problems in communication with Balticon volunteers” and the statement lists steps the club has taken to address those problems.
Specifics about the complaints and who made them are not disclosed in the statement.
This statement summarizes the results of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) Board of Directors’ (Board) investigation into allegations that Mr. Eric Gasior acted inappropriately and/or violated BSFS’s Code of Conduct.
The Board has investigated all complaints brought to our attention from Virtual Balticon 54 (VB54) and in October 2020. The complaints arose from two major sources. The first complaints the Board received were caused by communication failures caused by emergency changes to Balticon in response to Covid-19. In attempting to better understand changing plans for the virtual convention, Mr. Gasior disrupted some staff preparations creating confusion and additional stress. The BSFS Board deeply regrets that this was not effectively handled at the time. Other complaints did not arise directly from Balticon or BSFS activities; this information was considered in order to deepen our understanding of the problem and because, as Balticon Chair, Mr. Gasior represents BSFS. Based on all evidence presented, we concluded that Mr. Gasior’s actions were not behavior prohibited under the Code of Conduct;[i] however, they did represent repeated and concerning problems in communication with Balticon volunteers.
The BSFS Board takes all allegations of violations of the Code of Conduct very seriously and will not tolerate inappropriate behavior at any BSFS related event, including Balticon. All members and guests are encouraged to bring such matters to the Board’s attention at any time, without fear of any adverse action being taken against them for doing so.
The Board took a considered and deliberative approach to the investigation. Because the Board takes such allegations seriously, we took the time required to investigate these complaints to be confident we gave all parties a fair opportunity to provide any and all evidence each party wished to share. We regret that this led to the mistaken impression that the Board was not addressing the allegations. We appreciate our volunteers and the work they put into making Balticon happen. The Board apologizes for any stress caused because we did not intervene in these matters prior to VB54 and for any subsequent harm during the period in which we were working to fully investigate, understand, and deliberate on the matters placed before us.
During our investigation, the Board identified confusion about the role of the Anti-Harassment Working Group[ii] and concern that individuals holding a senior role in the working group, while also holding a major role in investigating alleged violations of the Code of Conduct, might have a conflict of interest[iii]. The investigation also revealed additional information about the number of VB54 volunteers affected by the behavior described in the complaints.
To address the problems identified during the investigation, the Board has taken the following actions:
1. Issued this statement to the BSFS community, including our apology for any impacts on our volunteers and the rest of the BSFS community.
2. Advised Mr. Gasior that the roles of Con Chair and Vice-Chair are not compatible with hands-on involvement in any Balticon department and strongly recommended he work through the department heads.
3. Renamed the Anti-Harassment Working Group to the Anti-Harassment Policy Group to clarify the Group’s purpose. We have accepted Mr. Gasior’s resignation from the Group. He will not be part of the Group while he is serving as Con Chair. This clarifies the separate roles of policy development versus incident investigation and resolution.
4. Recommended that Mr. Gasior work closely with the Balticon Vice-Chair, Ms. Yakira Heistand, and other members of the Board, for assistance in managing Balticon communications. The Board will continue to monitor preparations for Balticon 55 and take additional action if warranted by future events.
[i] In general, prohibited actions include sexual harassment or misconduct, violence or the threat of violence, other unwelcome physical contact, coercion, stalking, or slurs and derogatory comments and similar behavior. For details on the Code of Conduct, please see https://bsfs.org/policy.htm.
[ii] The Anti-Harassment Working Group members provide advice to the BSFS Board on preventing harassment and drafting the Code of Conduct and related policies. The Group’s members have no role in investigating or resolving alleged violations, and were not part of this investigation or adjudication of these complaints.
[iii] Mr. Gasior was not part of any Board discussions concerning this investigation except for the opportunities provided to submit responses to the complaints.
1)Lack of Training 2) Policies Without Procedures 3) Lack of Organizational Memory 4) Tribalism 5) Misogyny 6) Financial Incentive
Let’s look at each of these in order.
Lack of Training Con chairs are usually mostly-untrained volunteers with a staff of untrained volunteers. Even the largest cons tend to draw chairs from their own volunteers, so there’s no competence required beyond years of experience and your team of volunteers not walking out on you. No one receives training in sexual harassment policies, or, frankly, anything. Worse, many of the leadership structures in conventions encourages those seeking power and rewards those willing to be assholes. In our experience, we’ve seen volunteers who exploit or abuse their staff allowed to continue because no one feels comfortable removing them from that position. As people around them leave, they rise in the ranks, filling holes they cause. Abusive and exploitative leaders report to no one, especially at small conventions that are privately funded. AnimeMidwest is a perfect example of this. Having been banned from one con, [Ryan] Kopf created his own. Who will be in a position to police him? No one….
In general, classic SF wasn’t particularly interested in fiction about the disabled, except perhaps as a first step towards a new life as brain-a-jar piloting a space ship or a cyborg covert operative, or to justify testing Phillips’ experimental regeneration treatment on a Lensman. In A Matter of Proportion, Walker focuses on the challenges facing a disabled individual in a world not particularly invested in accommodating their needs. Anne Walker is an author new to me, one I discovered thanks to Rediscovery, Volume 1. This story convinced me I need to seek out more of her work.
…But initially, with no guarantee that the first film would be a box office success, let alone spawn a smash-hit series, and with no actual toys or market data to show potential buyers, Palitoy had a tough job to convince retailers to invest.
“You have to remember, this was a film people weren’t sure about… they were reluctant to take stuff because it was what they thought was a B-movie – you know, science fiction, all that business,” said Bob Brechin, the firm’s chief designer.
Salvation came in the form of Action Man. Retailers were offered discounts on the firm’s hugely popular soldier figures if they would take Star Wars toys.
Sales manager John Nicholas recalled how one chain’s whisky-loving buyer was handed a bottle of Scotch and asked how many Star Wars figures he wanted.
About half an hour later, and with a third of the bottle gone, he had decided. He would take a million.
“Well, it was my biggest order ever. I’ve never taken an order for that, and, you know, when Woolworths came along and said, ‘All right, I’ll have 100,000’, it was ‘Oh, is that all?’.”
(4) SPEAKING OF CREDENTIALS. I’d love to get another Cats
Sleep on SFF entry to see the year out!
A correspondent once told me a story — which I’ve never been able to trace, and I don’t know whether it’s true — about a bibulous, semi-literate, ageing country squire 200 years ago or more, sitting by his fireside listening to Paradise Lost being read aloud. He’s never read it himself; he doesn’t know the story at all; but as he sits there, perhaps with a pint of port at his side and with a gouty foot propped up on a stool, he finds himself transfixed.
Suddenly he bangs the arm of his chair, and exclaims “By God! I know not what the outcome may be, but this Lucifer is a damned fine fellow, and I hope he may win!”
Which are my sentiments exactly.
I’m conscious, as I write this essay, that I have hardly any more pretensions to scholarship than that old gentleman. Many of my comparisons will be drawn from popular literature and film rather than from anything more refined….
(6) WATCHMEN EFFECTS FEATURETTE. I don’t know if there are
any spoilers – caveat emptor!
The visual effects on Watchmen are a thermodynamic miracle. See how we brought you squid attacks, clones, and Europa
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 17, 1973 — Sleeper premiered. Directed by Woody Allen, starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, and written by him, it was made as a tribute to Groucho Marx and Bob Hope. Sleeper was awarded the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Discon II. It was equally well received among critics and reviewers, indeed it currently holds a hundred percent rating among the latter at Rotten Tomatoes.
December 17, 2010 — Tron: Legacy premiered. It was directed by Joseph Kosinski, in his feature directorial debut, from a screenplay written by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, based on a story by Horowitz, Kitsis, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. It is a sequel to Tron, whose director Steven Lisberger returned to produce. The cast includes Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner reprising their roles as Kevin Flynn and Alan Bradley. It did decently at the box Office, got deciedly mixed reviews among critics and currently holds a 51% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 17, 1903 — Erskine Caldwell. He’s listed by ISFDB as having only two SFF pieces, both short stories, of which one, and no I’m kidding, is titled “Advice About Women”. It was published in The Bedside Playboy as edited by a certain Hugh Hefner and published of course on Playboy Press in 1963. Fredric Brown, Ray Bradbury, Avram Davidson, Richard Matheson and Robert Sheckley were the SSF writers present therein. (Died 1987.)
Born December 17, 1929 — Jacqueline Hill. As Barbara Wright, she was the first Doctor Who companion to appear on-screen in 1963, with her speaking the series’ first lines. (No, I don’t know what they are.) She’d play another character later in the series. (Died 1993.)
Born December 17, 1930 — Bob Guccione. The publisher of Penthouse, the much more adult version of Playboy, but also of Omni magazine, theSF zine which had a print version between 1978 and 1995. A number of now classic stories first ran there such as Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic”, as well as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata” and even Harlan Ellison’s novella, Mephisto in Onyx which was on the Hugo ballot at ConAdian but finished sixth in voting. The first Omni digital version was published on CompuServe in 1986 and the magazine switched to a purely online presence in 1996. It ceased publication abruptly in late 1997, following the death of co-founder Kathy Keeton whose Birthday was noted here. (Died 2010.)
Born December 17, 1944 — Jack L. Chalker. I really, really enjoyed his Well World series, and I remember reading quite a bit of his other fiction down the years. Which of his other myriad series have you read and enjoyed? I find it really impressive that he attended every WorldCon from except one, from 1965 until 2004. One of our truly great members of the SF community as was a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. (Died 2005.)
Born December 17, 1945 — Ernie Hudson, 73. Best known for his roles as Winston Zeddemore in the original Ghostbusters films, and as Sergeant Darryl Albrecht in The Crow. I’m reasonably sure his first SF role was as Washington in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, a few years before the first Ghostbusters film. Depending on how flexible your definition of genre is, he’s been in a fair number of films including Leviathan, Shark Attack, Hood of Horror, Dragonball Evolution, voice work in Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial, and, look there’s a DC animated movie in his resume!, as he voiced Lucius Fox in Batman: Bad Blood.
Born December 17, 1953 — Bill Pullman, 66. First SF role was as Lone Starr in Spaceballs, a film I’ll freely admit I watched but once which was more than enough. He next appears in The Serpent and the Rainbow which is damn weird before playing the lead in the even weirder Brain Dead. Now we come to Independence Day and I must say I love his character and the film a lot. Post-Independence Day, he went weird again showing up in Lake Placid which is a lot of fun and also voiced Captain Joseph Korso in the animated Titan A.E. film. Which at least in part was written by Joss Whedon. He reprises his Thomas J. Whitmore character in Independence Day: Resurgence which I’ve not seen.
Born December 17, 1973 — Rian Johnson, 46. Director responsible for the superb Looper, also Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Knives Out. I know, it’s not even genre adjacent. It’s just, well, I liked Gosford Park, so what can I say about another film similar to it? He has a cameo as an Imperial Technician in Rogue One, and he voices Bryan in BoJack Horseman which is definitely genre.
Born December 17, 1974 — Sarah Paulson, 45. She’s most likely best known for being Bunny Yeager in The Notorious Betty Paige, but she has solid genre creds having acted in Serenity, The Spirit, Bird Box, Abominable,American Gothic and Glass. She was in seven series of American Horror Story playing at least fifteen different characters. And she’s Nurse Ratched in the upcoming Ratched series.
Born December 17, 1975 — Milla Jovovich, 44. First SFF appearence was as Leeloo de Sabat in The Fifth Element, a film which still gets a very pleasant WTF? from me when I watch it. She was also Alice in the Resident Evil franchise which is five films strong and running so far. I see she shows up as Miliday de Winter in a Three Musketeers I never heard of which is odd is it’s a hobby of mind to keep track of those films, and plays Nimue, The Blood Queen in the rebooted Hellboy.
Born December 17, 1993 — Kiersey Clemons, 26. There’s a Universe in which films exist in which performers actually performed the roles they were hired for. Case in point is her who was Iris West is Justice League but all her scenes were deleted. You can see hose scenes in the extras of course. She has other genre creds including being in the reboot of Flatliners (saw the original but this one), in the live action version of Lady and the Tramp which is at least genre adjacent, and Lucy in Extant, a series produced by Steven Spielberg.
Plants have played key roles in science fiction novels, graphic novels, and film. John Wyndham’s triffids, Algernon Blackwood’s willows, and Han Kang’s sprouting woman are just a few examples. Plants surround us, sustain us, pique our imaginations, and inhabit our metaphors – but in many ways they remain opaque. The scope of their alienation is as broad as their biodiversity. And yet, literary reflections of plant-life are driven, as are many threads of science fictional inquiry, by the concerns of today. Plants in Science Fiction is the first-ever collected volume on plants in science fiction. Its original essays argue that plant-life in SF is transforming our attitudes toward morality, politics, economics, and cultural life at large; questioning and shifting our understandings of institutions, nations, borders, and boundaries; erecting – and dismantling – new visions of utopian and dystopian futures
(11) IN MEALS TO COME. Coincidentally, the journal Science asked young scientists to write an advertisement that
answers this question: “How will food options, food availability, and
individuals’ food choices change in the future?” Their answers were decidedly
SFnal. “Foods of the future” [PDF file.] For example —
Tired of managing your diet? Health Capsule provides non-invasive, cognitive control of your hunger, satiation, and weight. Made possible by deep brain stimulation and neuromodulation technology, this environmentally sustainable capsule will keep you healthy and fit while satisfying all your cravings. Put calculating your calories and carbon footprint behind you!
Send us your DNA, and we will predict your food preferences! Receive your personalized food basket, with a day-by-day diet program. We will send you full meals and personalized smoothies based on your genetic taste predisposition. We know what you love; it’s in your DNA.
Ada Gabriela Blidner
Laboratorio de Inmunopatología,
(12) EMPLOYEE THEFT! From Jimmy
Kimmel Live, “Star Wars Cast on Premiere, Stealing from Set & Gifts
from J.J. Abrams.”
J.J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie & Keri Russell talk about the premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, gifts that J.J. gave them, what they stole from set, and they surprise the audience with IMAX movie tickets.
Followed by —
J.J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell & Chewbacca from the cast of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker play #ForceFamilyFeud!
(13) WINDOW ON TRAVEL INTO CHINA. [Item by
Bill.] Bunnie Huang is a well-known hardware hacker. He goes to China
annually with a group of MIT students to show them where the products they
design will be built, and has written a “how-to” guide for navigating the
Shenzen electronics district. Most of it is specific to the electronics
markets, but there is good information on getting around in China generally –
internet limitations and work-arounds (p. 19), local customs (dress, tipping,
etc.) (p. 20), point-to-translate written material for getting around (p.
67), visas and border crossing (p. 84), etc. With
all the recent discussion about China’s Worldcon bid, it might be a useful introduction.
The Essential Guide to Electronics
in Shenzhen [PDF file].
Israeli archaeologists have discovered the well-preserved remains of a 2,000-year-old factory for making garum, the fabled fish sauce that the Romans took with them on all their journeys of conquest.
The Israel Antiquities Authority came across the small cetaria, or factory for making the prized sauce, while inspecting the site of a planned sports park on the outskirts of the southern city of Ashkelon, Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reports.
The dig was funded by the local authorities, and young people and school children from the Ashkelon area came to help out.
It is one of the very few garum factories found in the eastern Mediterranean, despite the Romans’ long presence in the area and the premium they put on the pungent fermented sauce.
Most surviving examples are to be found in the Iberian Peninsula and southern Italy.
“We have something really unusual here,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dr Tali Erickson-Gini told The Times of Israel, as the Romans added garum to almost all their dishes to give them a salty savoury kick.
“It’s said that making garum produced such a stench that cetariae were located some distance from the towns they served, and in this case the factory is about two kilometres from ancient Ashkelon,” Dr Tali Erickson-Gini said, according to Kan.
This is the face of a woman who lived 6,000 years ago in Scandinavia.
Thanks to the tooth marks she left in ancient “chewing gum”, scientists were able to obtain DNA, which they used to decipher her genetic code.
This is the first time an entire ancient human genome has been extracted from anything other than human bone, said the researchers.
She likely had dark skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes.
Dr Hannes Schroeder from the University of Copenhagen said the “chewing gum” – actually tar from a tree – is a very valuable source of ancient DNA, especially for time periods where we have no human remains.
“It is amazing to have gotten a complete ancient human genome from anything other than bone,” he said.
What do we know about her?
The woman’s entire genetic code, or genome, was decoded and used to work out what she might have looked like. She was genetically more closely related to hunter-gatherers from mainland Europe than to those who lived in central Scandinavia at the time, and, like them, had dark skin, dark brown hair and blue eyes.
It’s really happening. A bipartisan budget agreement for 2020 will see the creation of a new branch of the military specifically oriented towards space. The United States Space Force will be the first new service branch in more than 60 years, tasked to ensure America’s freedom to operate in outer space—or take space away from somebody else.
The service will be headed by a Chief of Space Operations, similar to how the U.S. Navy is headed by a Chief of Naval Operations and consist of “the space forces and such assets as may be organic therein.” That’s pretty ambiguous language but probably means most of the Air Force’s space assets, from satellite launching facilities like Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to spacecraft ground control bases like Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. It’ll also include america’s network of GPS satellites, the X-37B spaceplane, and other military space assets. The Space Force will also likely strip away a smaller number of assets and personnel from the U.S. Army and Navy.
…Six humorous spots from The Martin Agency continue where the originals left off. Pinocchio continues his lying ways in two spots. One finds him pulled over by a cop and his nose grows as he tries to fib his way out of a ticket to no avail. The other finds his lengthening wooden nose becoming a problem as he lies on a first date he booked on a dating app….
You can access the playlist if you click through
this video to YouTube.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat
Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Bill, N., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie,
and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Andrew with an assist from Anna Nimmhaus.]
Engholm posted the full text of Dublin 2019’s letter to him along with his own comments in response here.
Dublin 2019’s letter says:
Thank you again for reaching out, and apologies for the time it took to get this response to you.
We do not consider Jeannette Ng’s speech to be a breach of our Code of Conduct.
From our perspective Ng was speaking to Campbell’s part in shaping the sci-fi landscape, which was notably exclusionary of minorities, people of colour and women at the time during which he was a part of it and which has had knock on effects to this day. Our Code of Conduct was, in a large part, designed to ensure people who have previously been excluded from fandom were safe and included at our convention – not to punish people who speak out against its exclusionary past.
We do not believe her words were targeted at anyone other than Campbell and his actions. There is no issue with being male or white, and unless a person also identified with Campbell’s more problematic beliefs and actions, they have no reason to feel attacked. Additionally, being a fan of Campbell’s work does not mean you need to stand by his beliefs; it is possible to appreciate his contribution to the community whilst also understanding some of his viewpoints were problematic.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns – I hope this helps clarify our position on the situation.
Sarah Brennan, Listener and Code of Conduct Area Head Dublin 2019
Engholm, in his commentary, says he believes the Code of Conduct has been applied inequitably, whether judged by past precedents, or on its own terms.
Thanks for a reply, even if it took two months…
But the reply is not very satisfying, and I’ll explain why. A basic principle for acceptable ethics is that it applies equally to all. If not, it’s unethical, immoral – in crass terms, evil.
In 2016 Dave Truesdale was kicked out from the Worldcon for talking about “snowflakes” – a rather mild expression – not pointing to any person or ethnic or social group. But in 2019 it seems perfectly OK to accuse a named person for being a follower of one of history’s most evil ideologies, on the worldcon’s biggest stage.
It becomes clear that this does not apply equally to all. You – ie all responsible for the CoC – even openly admit that not being applied equally was what “Our Code of Conduct was…designed to ensure”. Thus the CoC loses its legitimacy. It’s a set of made-up private laws that allows the intimidation it pretends to protect from.
Engholm disagrees with Sarah Brennan’s evaluation of Ng’s speech (“There is no issue with being male or white…”)
As for Ng’s racist slurs, you seem to simply ignore them, the charges about “whites” being “sterile” and “haunt” the genre. You just falsely claim it’s “no issue” – but it is. You can’t even follow your own instructions that “We do not tolerate harassment of convention attendees in ANY FORM”. That’s what it says, but obviously you do tolerate harassment if it is in the form certain people like. People have reason to feel attacked!
“I certainly did. As a white male writer who goes back to the Campbell era I felt directly under attack, as well as being angered by the inaccurate slander being directed at Campbell, and I was so upset by her statements and the obvious audience approval of them that I left the ceremony as soon as I could appropriately get out the door “
That was a a testimony from a well-known longtime sf professional whom I shall not name.
Engholm asserts that what people complain about in Campbell is the byproduct of his “intentionally provoking intellectual style.” He also tells why in his view (and that of Harry Harrison) Campbell was not, politically, a fascist, therefore Ng was mistaken in calling him one. The complete text of Engholm’s commentary is here.
(1) SECOND CARR COLLECTION IS A FREE READ. David Langford has released the Terry Carr
collection Fandom Harvest II at the TAFF
website. Download it free – and please consider making a donation to the
Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund as thanks.
Complementing the 1986 Fandom Harvest and even longer, this further selection of Terry Carr’s fine fanwriting was assembled by David Langford with much help from others and released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 June 2019. Cover art by Steve Stiles from The Incompleat Terry Carr (1988 edition). Over 118,000 words.
With thanks to Carol Carr for her permission and encouragement to produce this new ebook. (For the many further credits, see within.)
Langford spotlights his selections in the Introduction:
Of the above, Fandom Harvest was the first choice for a TAFF ebook since it’s not only the largest by far of these collections but was published as a printed hardback that was relatively easy to convert to digital text. The next logical step seemed initially to be an ebook of The Incompleat Terry Carr, but unfortunately there’s considerable overlap between this collection and Fandom Harvest. After removing duplications (“Trufan’s Blood”, the “Fandom Harvest” column selections, “The Fastest Ham in the West” and “Confessions of a Literary Midwife”), what remained of The Incompleat Terry Carr was an unsatisfactorily slim volume. This has been augmented with the fannish items reprinted in Between Two Worlds, the four best pieces from The Portable Carl Brandon, and many more notable articles, columns, editorials and stories not previously included in any Terry Carr collection. Ranging from 1955 to 1987, it’s a great read throughout.
And I appreciate Dave sending me the scoop in advance of the
Monday edition of Ansible!
(2) UK GAMES EXPO ENFORCES CODE
OF CONDUCT. Sexual violence in an RPG scenario hosted by a volunteer
violated UK Games Expo’s code of conduct. The committee took action, explained
It was brought to our attention that in an RPG game on Friday afternoon a GM volunteer included content that was completely unacceptable and breached both the letter and spirit of the UK Games Expo. The scenario included descriptions of sexual violence involving the players. The players were understandably distressed and shocked by this content.
This content was not set out in the game description. If it had been included in the submission it would have been rejected as unacceptable even for a game with an 18 rating. All games must still comply with the policies and the spirit of UKGE.
We have spoken personally to the player who first raised the issue and have unreservedly apologized for the distress caused. We are currently contacting the other players so we can offer them our apologies and any assistance they might need. We have made it clear that this kind of behavior and content has no place at UKGE and will not be accepted.
We immediately halted the game the GM was currently running and cancelled all of the games he was due to run.
The GM has been ejected from the show and will not be allowed access to any of the NEC halls or Hilton function rooms that are under the control of UK Games Expo.
He has also been banned from submitting any games for the foreseeable future…
Science fiction purports to be based on science. I hate to tell you this, but a lot of SF is as close to science and math as Taco Bell is to authentic Mexican cuisine.
I revelled and still revel in mass ratios and scale heights, albedos and exhaust velocities, evolutionary biology and world history. (I’m not the only one. Big wave to my homies out there.) So…as much as I love SF, I’m constantly running head-on into settings that could just not work the way the author imagines. My SOD (suspension of disbelief) is motoring along merrily and suddenly, bang! Dead in its tracks. Perhaps you can understand now why so many of my reviews grumble about worldbuilding….
Nothing pairs better with a cold rainy Sunday and a warm baby Loxodonta quite like a Rockaway Nitro Black Gold Stout. About one-third of the way through Tim Burton’s Dumbo, I ordered a second, and as it was delivered to me in the dark, I was struck by the scene where V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton)–evil, conniving moneybags and Dreamland amusement park owner–explains to the scrappy, DIY road circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) that of course he should bring his entire operation, airborne pachyderm included, into his opulent fold. Why? Because the future of entertainment is bringing the people to you, not the other way around.
Sipping Dumbo suds at Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, I couldn’t have agreed more, and as attested by the typical full house, I was not alone….
…After Disney, Southerland moved on to Mattel to help develop shows for two of their toy lines: Enchantimals and Monster High. As a showrunner, Southerland was able to expand on those worlds while placing female characters—and their close friendships—at the center. She particularly enjoyed working on Monster High because of the opportunity to create more complex teenage characters, and she eventually developed the idea for Adventures of the Ghoul Squad, a miniseries in which the main friends—all children of famous monsters—travel the world to help others and solve mysteries….
(7) CASTING COWL. Rachel
Bloom, of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and
“F*ck Me Ray Bradbury” fame, voices Batgirl in the recently released animated video
Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Batman, Batgirl and Robin forge an alliance with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to fight against the Turtles’ sworn enemy, The Shredder, who has teamed up with Ra’s Al Ghul and The League Of Assassins.
…I attended my first World Fantasy Con in 1993, in Minneapolis. Dennis met me almost as soon as I arrived, and started introducing me to everyone. One of the editors I met there – Stephen Jones – would buy my first short story a year later, and go on to become the editor I’ve worked with the most.
That convention was an amazing experience. I rented a car and became Dennis’s driver for a few days. At the time Dennis was embroiled in a feud with Harlan Ellison, and I still laugh when I think of him telling me that he’d put any five of his stories up against any five of Harlan’s stories (Dennis was also a wrestling fanatic, which made this even more amusing). I drove Dennis to a signing at the massive Mall of America; no one came to the signing, so Dennis, Poppy Z. Brite, and Melanie Tem read their stories to each other while I listened in….
…After serving at Fort Dix in New Jersey from 1944 to 1946, he returned to the comic-book business. He did a lot of work for Avon Comics, he said, because unlike some other imprints it allowed artists to sign their work. (Early in his career he used the name “Everett Raymond” for brevity’s sake, though he eventually switched to his full name.)…
As part of its Distinguished Illustrators Series,
Norman Rockwell Museum exhibited “Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to
Portraits,” in 2012.
Highly-regarded as a prominent American portraitist, Everett Raymond Kinstler began his career as a comic book artist and illustrator working for the popular publications of his day. The artist’s original illustrations and portraits of noted celebrities—from Katharine Hepburn, Tony Bennett, and Tom Wolfe to artists James Montgomery Flagg, Alexander Calder, and Will Barnet [was] on view in a lively installation that explores the process of capturing likenesses of his subjects for posterity.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 1, 1955 — This Island Earth premiered.
June 1, 1984 — Star Trek III: The Search for Spock could be found in theaters.
June 1, 1990 — Total Recall made its memorable debut.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 1, 1874 — Pierre Souvestre. He was a journalist, writer and avid promoter of motor races. He’s remembered today for his co-creation with Marcel Allain of the master criminal Fantômas. The character was also the basis of various film, television, and comic book adaptations. Some of these could be considered genre. (Died 1914.)
Born June 1, 1937 — Morgan Freeman, 82. Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight trilogy and less notably Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (and yes I saw it). He’s God in Bruce Almighty as he is in the sequel, Evan Almighty. And he played the President in Deep Impact.
Born June 1, 1940 — René Auberjonois, 79. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder Woman, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, The Bionic Woman, Batman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Enterprise, Stargate SG-1 andWarehouse 13. He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series.
Born June 1, 1947 — Jonathan Pryce, 72. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote.
Born June 1, 1950 — Michael McDowell. Screenwriter and novelist whose most well-known work is the screenplay for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. He also did work on Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas though he’s not listed as the scriptwriter. He wrote eleven scripts for Tales from the Darkside, more than anyone else. And he wrote a lot of horror which Stephen King likes quite a bit. (Died 1999.)
Born June 1, 1966 — David Dean Oberhelman. Mike has an an appreciation of him here. The Intersection of Fantasy and Native America: From H.P. Lovecraft to Leslie Marmon Silko which he co-wrote with Amy H. Sturgis was published by The Mythopoeic Press. ISFDB lists just one genre essay by him, “From Iberian to Ibran and Catholic to Quintarian”, printed in Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Died 2018.)
Born June 1, 1973 — C. E. Murphy, 46. Her Urban Shaman series was one of the best such series I’ve read in recent years. She had The Walker Papers – Alternative Views which used other characters as viewpoint narrators but none appealed to me alas as much as Joanne Walker, her primary character.
Born June 1, 1996 — Tom Holland, 23. He’s known for playing Spider-Man in five films: Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War,Avengers: Endgame, and the forthcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home.
(12) PUNCHLINE CREATOR.
At Kalimac’s Corner, DB digs up more
info about award-winning comics writer E. Nelson Bridwell, ending with perhaps
his most widely-known contribution to pop culture: “this is the joke”.
…Evanier’s announcement credits Bridwell with co-creating a comic called The Inferior Five, which I’d never heard of either. A quick visit to its Wikipedia page proves that it’s exactly what it sounds like, a sort of precursor to Mystery Men, a rare case of a superhero movie I rather liked. So I might enjoy The Inferior Five as well, especially as Evanier says that Bridwell’s “writing was marked by a wicked sense of humor.”…
In 1951, astronomer Kenneth Heuer, author in 1953 of The End of the World, wrote Men of Other Planets(Pellegrini & Cudahy, NYC) where he speculates on the kinds of humanoid life that was possible on the other planets, moons and asteroids of outer space. In those days thousands of people were actually trying to book passage on space ships. With jet propulsion and atomic fuel bringing space travel into realms of possibility, the mysteries of flying saucers, possible invasions of the earth from another worlds were closer to reality and yesterday’s science fiction was moving into tomorrow’s news.
The full-page scratch board illustration by R.T. Crane adds both a science fact and fictional aura to the quirky propositions in this book…
(Spoiler alert: even though it’s called Dungeons & Dragons, beginning level characters should not try to slay a dragon. They will fail. However, I have a policy with brand new players: I promise that their characters won’t die in the first three sessions. If they really do try to slay a dragon, the dragon may just beat them up, take all their stuff, and leave them naked outside the nearest town. Or more likely, the dragon will singe them a bit, then say, “Okay, if you don’t want to die, you have to agree to run an errand for me…”)
It would be fair to say that for me, coming into contact with fandom in this period, my image of “fan art” was formed by Tim Kirk’s work, along with two more artists who won for their 1970s work, William Rotsler and Alexis A. Gilliland.
(16) WALK THIS WAY. The New York Post’s 2013 profile of the band contains a previously unsuspected (by me) bit of sff trivia: “First KISS”.
…Simmons then modeled his demon walk after a serpentine, loping-gaited martian named Ymir that stop-motion effects master Ray Harryhausen designed for the 1957 science fiction film “20 Million Miles to Earth.”
“I realized I couldn’t copy the movements of Mick Jagger or the Beatles because I didn’t have a little boy’s body,” Simmons says. “But I could be a monster.”
Look up into the sky and it’s hard to imagine where the Earth’s atmosphere ends and outer space begins.
Commonly referred to as the Karman line, that imaginary border is 62 miles (100km) away and on Friday a group of students from across the US and Canada are hoping to send an unmanned rocket through it.
It’s the brainchild of 19-year-old rocket-obsessed North Carolina University student Joshua Farahzad, who said he came up with the idea during his “boring” summer vacation last year.
“I was always fascinated with space, I built a small rocket in high school after watching a movie called October Sky, and thought to myself how one day I’d like to build a bigger one,” he said.
…Without the help of a large financial backer, engineering professionals, or teachers, Operation Space began collaborating on the project remotely from their various locations across the US and Canada, using a Slack message channel, video chats and phone calls.
Operation Space is not the only group of students to build and launch spacecraft. Last month, students from the University of Southern California (USC) successfully sent their Traveler IV rocket across the Karman line.
While he’s full of praise for them, Joshua said his team is unique. “USC is cool but we are different because we are doing this all remotely with no university help,” he explained.
A Lego-themed pop-up is coming to six U.S. cities this summer. The Brick Bar, which is not technically affiliated with the brand btw, is built with over 1 million blocks and will debut in NYC June 19.
The bar opened its first temporary location in London back in January 2018, and the “nostalgia trip” was an instant hit. Now the concept is expanding to a number of North American cities including New York, L.A., Miami, Houston, Cincinnati, and Denver. It will also hit Toronto and Vancouver in July.
“The bar will feature sculptures made completely from building blocks as well as an abundance of blocks for people to shape into their own creations. There will also be local DJ’s spinning tunes all day,” the website says. “We will have an Instagram worthy menu as well including a Brick Burger and Cocktails!
(20) A FORK IN THE ROAD. Compelling Science Fiction Issue #13 is available for purchase. Beginning with this issue, says publisher Joe STech, the magazine no longer posts its contents free online.
We start with LA Staley’s “Steps in the Other Room”. An elderly woman reports that her husband has been kidnapped. This seems difficult, since he has been dead for many years (2040 words). Our second story is “Sasha Red” by Tyler A. Young. In it, a woman fights to rescue refugees from Mars (6100 words). The third story this issue, Mark Parlette-Cariño’s “Bodybit,” is a story about the social effects of a fitness device that tracks sexual performance (4630 words). Next we have “What We Remember” by Mark Salzwedel. This one is first-contact story about a telepathic fungus (2800 words). Our fifth story is “Love and Brooding” by M. J. Pettit. Inspired by mouth-brooding tilapia, this story explores a very alien life cycle (5000 words). Our final story is “Steadies” by returning author Robert Dawson. A doctor is conflicted when she decides to prescribe her husband an anti-cholesterol drug that has also recently been found to strengthen relationships (3400 words).
…This novel is an exercise in trusting an author. When it starts like another novel I didn’t like, it proved me wrong to misjudge it. When it doesn’t explain its setting or history from the start, it respected my patience by giving me enough to keep going and eventually answering my questions…
…The novel is a rather slippery fantasy to try and get a hold of. Is it a Portal fantasy, as the back matter and the title suggests? Yes, and no, the Portal aspects of the fantasy are not the central theme. Is it a coming of age story, of a young woman coming into herself? Yes, but there is much more going on with theme, history, theory and thought on it. The book is, however, a fantasy about the power of stories, and where stories come from, and how stories, for good, and bad, accurately and inaccurately, shape us and mold us, and make us what we are–and sometimes, if we find the right story, what we want and need to be…
(23) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Retro-Hugo novella finalist reviews:
(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Albatross Soup on Vimeo, Winnie Cheung solves the riddle of why a guy killed himself after having a bowl of albatross soup in a restaurant.
Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John
Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mister
…Speakers over the weekend included Brianna Wu, a congressional candidate from Massachusetts who was one of the most high-profile victims of an online harassment campaign aimed at women in the video game industry in recent years.
In conversations with the attendees on Sunday — an intimacy organizer Chris Castro said is a selling point of BayCon over larger conventions — Wu and moderator Gregg Castro discussed activist burnout and creating spaces for people who want to help but may not be comfortable canvassing or making phone calls. Wu also encouraged more women to run for office, calling it “the best job in the world.”
Also presenting at that panel was Sarah Williams, who grew up in Fremont and now lives in Davis. She said discussing social issues and activism is “almost necessary” in science fiction because it’s so forward-looking. The panels are also useful in fans’ personal lives, she said. As a queer woman, Williams said she knew she had to be supportive when her daughter told her she was a transgender girl.
Still, she said, she needed guidance on what support her daughter would need. She could access that through panels such as “Transfans,” a presentation held on Sunday morning about transgender science fiction fans. Williams said she also knew she could look up the speakers and reach out to them for advice.
However, Sumiko Saulson was present at another panel which didn’t reflect that kind of acceptance, and wrote about the experience on Facebook:
I’m reluctant to get into what happened when I was on a panel yesterday because it was fairly traumatic, but the short of it is that a well-known author guest (David Brin) started the panel by saying he wouldn’t trust regular Americans with this but we’re alpha sci fi writers, then went into a very ableist spiel about how we all know some beings – including, specifically certain humans, and he referenced the developmentally disabled – are inferior, people are just too politically correct to say so. Then he asked a moral dilemma question about if it would be more ethical to uplift animals and have them as servants than to genetically alter humans as servants and make them low IQ
Then he got into an argument with a young enby [non-binary] person in the audience who was sitting near Darcy (Chris Hughes) and the rest of the extremely poorly moderated panel included lots of yelling between the audience and panel, as he’d set the tone. He seemed to be intentionally asking baited or loaded questions….
(The report goes on for several more paragraphs in which some
panelists’ conduct grew even more disturbing.)
…as of April 14th, 2019, Eric Torgersen has been suspended from AnimeNEXT staff, pending this investigation, and will not be present at the 2019 event. AnimeNEXT and Universal Animation, Inc. have hired a neutral third party to conduct the investigation.
Additionally, Mr. Torgersen has not been a member of the board since 2018 and has not been Convention Chairman since 2017.
AnimeNEXT and Universal Animation, Inc. want our convention to be a safe and positive experience. As such, we do not condone harassment of any kind. We appreciate your patience and understanding until this investigation is completed.
While Amazing Stories editor Steve Davidson was holding down a booth at Balticon, the Capital Region’s largest sci-fi convention, I was an hour away at the Museum of Science Fiction’s annual convention: Escape Velocity 2019.
Escape Velocity is a different sort of con than anything else in sci-fi. Visually it looks like a media con, with lots of large-scale movie props and cosplayers, but behind the closed panel doors, there’s a serious attempt to create a fusion of pop-sci-fi culture, accessible science, resources for educators, and even a few policy wonks talking about the future of space conflict….
(4) PROOF NEGATIVE. Fabrice Mathieu unblushingly presents MOON SHINING » or: How Stanley Kubrick shot
the Apollo 11 Mission? — “an imaginative behind the
scenes of the Moon Landing of Apollo 11 directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1969!”
… Captain Marvel counters with a handshake and introduces herself. The man tells her: “People call me… The Don.”
Releasing an unimpressed “wow”, Captain Marvel then unleashes her superhero powers on the man, sending electrical pulses through her hand, forcing the man to his knees in pain.
“Here’s a proposition for you,” she says. “You’re going to give me your jacket, your helmet and your motorcycle, and in return, I’m going to let you keep your hand.”
He quickly hands over his keys, and Captain Marvel lets go, adding: “What, no smile?”
In just a minute-long scene, Captain Marvel sums up what’s wrong with men telling women to smile, and unsurprisingly, that’s made some men angry.
…The men criticising the scene — and attacking Larson — are missing the point, and being purposefully obtuse as to its message.
Yes, it shows Captain Marvel using her powers to harm someone else, but plenty of superheroes before her have done exactly the same, and gone much further than she did. That Captain Marvel is called out for behaviour that male superheroes have got away with for decades is sexist.
And saying the scene will hurt “feminist causes” is a fundamental misunderstanding of what feminism is about — women want equality, and that partially means dismantling the idea that the only good women are nice women.
…. Both sides have, as you can predictably guessed, gone up in arms. Both make some good points, and both make some bad points.
However, the reason I chose to take some time out of my crunched day to post about this was because at its core, the argument Disney’s marketing team and the writers of Captain Marvel have claimed is … well, wrong.
Vers isn’t a hero in that scene. Not by any definition of the term. And to see people so aggressively defending Vers actions as “heroic,” even the writing team? Well … I think that’s in part why the Captain Marvel had the problems it had.
See, the problem isn’t that the scene exists, but that people, creators included, are insisting that it is “heroic.” And it isn’t. It’s far from it, in fact, unless you’re aiming to redefine “heroism” as something completely different. Which I don’t think the writers are trying to do … They just genuinely don’t seem to know what heroism is.
Already there are people defending the “heroism” of the scene online by saying that naysayers are only unhappy because it’s “a woman,” declaring that no one had issues with a male character doing similar in Terminator 2.
No. Because in Terminator 2 the T-800 is nota hero. He’s an anti-hero. If someone declares that heroic, than they’re wrong. Flat out. He threatens physical harm to innocents because he doesn’t care, and has no morals. Classic anti-hero trait.
Vers threatening a slimy guy past simply shutting him down isn’t heroism with the goal of stealing his possessions isn’t heroism. It’s the mark of an anti-hero, just as it was with the T-800….
…A New Zealand husky rescue charity that has dealt with hundreds of abandoned dogs after Game of Thrones ramped up the breed’s popularity is pushing for reform outlawing “backyard breeders.”
Michelle Attwood, who founded the Canterbury-based charity Husky Rescue NZ in 2009, said that hundreds of huskies had been abandoned to her charity every year since Game of Thrones launched – their TV connection clear through names like Ghost, Nymeria, Stark and Snow.
Huskies have become a real “status symbol,” she said, with Thrones fans driving a vicious cycle.
Peter Dinklage publicized the problem
At the time he released a statement:
‘Game of Thrones’ star Peter Dinklage is asking fans to stop buying huskies as pets just because they resemble the fictional direwolves in the blockbuster HBO show. The actor warns fans the pups still need constant care after the novelty wears off. “Not only does this hurt all the deserving homeless dogs waiting for a chance at a good home in shelters, but shelters are also reporting that many of these huskies are being abandoned,” Dinklage said Tuesday in a statement released by PETA.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 28,1908 — Ian Fleming. The James Bond novels of course which are no doubt genre but also Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang which originally was published in three volumes and became a much beloved film. Like Heinlein, he would do a travelogue, this one called Thrilling Cities. (Died 1964.)
Born May 28,1951 — Sherwood Smith, 68. YA writer best known for her Wren series. She’s also co-authored The Change Series with Rachel Manija Brown. She also co-authored two novels with Andre Norton, Derelict for Trade and A Mind for Trade.
Born May 28,1954 — Betsy Mitchell, 65. Editorial freelancer specializing in genre works. She was the editor-in-chief of Del Rey Books. Previously, she was the Associate Publisher of Bantam Spectra when they held the license to publish Star Wars novels in the Nineties.
Born May 28, 1977 — Ursula Vernon, 42. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning graphic novel Digger which was a webcomic from 2003 to 2011. Vernon is also the creator of The Biting Pear of Salamanca, a digital work of art which became an internet meme in the form of the LOL WUT pear.
Born May 28,1982 — Alexa Davalos, 37. Her first genre role i think was Gwen Raiden on the fourth season of Angel. She‘s Juliana Crain currently on The Man in the High Castle. And she was Andromeda in the remake of Clash of the Titans.
(9) HUGO AWARDS ON
JEOPARDY! TOMORROW.For once you
get the news before the show is
aired. Kevin Standlee says, “The
Hugo Awards will be featured in a category on Jeopardy! on Wednesday, May 29.”
…Necromantica is, essentially, a love story. You feel it in the way Lama speaks to Mornia. You see it in Mornia’s behavior. Remember, they’re not sharing a drink. They’re in the midst of the battle and they slaughter enemies. Call it a dark fantasy romance. I mean, you don’t write a story called Necromantica without it being dark, right?
Lama and Mornia share heart-wrenching stories. Mornia used to live a free, spiritual life and wanted to grow into a healer. By the time the story begins, her life has been robbed from her and ell her loved ones killed. She survived, but she’s broken. Whatever magic she possessed, she used for revenge. Instead of healing people, she focused on black arts and necromancy. …
Last year, when the Avengers: Infinity War trailer revealed that Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers had grown a beard, the internet went wild. How is it possible that Evans, this hunky cinnamon roll of a golden retriever boy scout bro, could get even hotter? It was almost unfair, yet there it was. We mourned the loss of Cap-beard for an extended period of time on SYFY FANGRRLS, but it also got us thinking as to what it was about some well-organized facial hair that had us all aflutter.
It turns out that there’s a scientific reason for that. It’s not just pure shallowness! According to a study in 2013 on the subject, facial hair acts as a major influence in shaping people’s ideas about what we expect from men in society. The study revealed that “women judged faces with heavy stubble as most attractive and heavy beards, light stubble and clean-shaven faces as similarly less attractive.” For men, it was the opposite case, with full beards as the most attractive. Those conducted for the study also revealed that full beards were judged as an excellent sign of parenting ability and healthiness, so all your daddy Steve Rogers jokes paid off in a big way.
They go on to judge the beard-appeal and stylings for
Jason Momoa, Chris Evans, Henry Cavill, Chris Hemsworth, John
Krasinski, Rahul Kohli, Keanu Reeves, and Jason Mantzoukas.
…Many of the more famous anime and manga is often defined and remembered because of a certain iconic character, unique setting, or piece of machinery (which is often Mecha). Some imported Japanese animations or comics are lucky enough to be imported wholly to the West along with other associated products like models, video games, or toys. Others were not so lucky and came over to our shores in pieces and over a great length of time, forging fans along with way….
…What is “Armored Trooper VOTOMS”? VOTOMS is the brainchild of Fang of the Sun Dougram creator Ry?suke Takahashi and despite being developed in 1983, VOTOMS is still an on-going Japanese military science fiction franchise encompassing anime TV series, OVAs, video games, models, and toys. At about the time that Fang of the Sun Dougram was ending its run on Japanese television, Takahashi and Nippon Sunrise animation studio would continue the mecha-centered war stories with the VOTOMS 52 episode television show that aired on TV Tokyo from April 1st, 1983 through March 23rd, 1984….
Hugo Award voting just opened at the start of May and continues through the end of July. For those of you new to the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre, the Hugo Award is one of the most prominent awards for works in the genre, with the Award being given based upon voting by those who have paid for at least a Supporting Membership in this year’s WorldCon. As I did the last two years, I’m going to be posting reviews/my-picks for the award in the various categories I feel qualified in, but feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments….
The Folio Society recently announced that it was releasing a special collector’s edition of A Game of Thrones, the first novel in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Now, on the cusp of the series finale for HBO’s Game of Thrones, it looks like we can expect even more—the entire A Song of Ice and Fire, including those famously still-unwritten books. Of course, that all depends on whether Martin ever finishes them.
In a statement to io9, the Folio Society’s representative confirmed that it was following up its A Game of Thrones hardcover edition with other books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The publisher says the project is a collaborative with Martin, who’s been involved “every step of the way.” The first book is available for preorder, and is set to come out on July 16.
Back in 2016, mobile technology the like of which had not been seen before rolled into the remote community of Funhalouro, in Mozambique.
Pulled by donkey, the container consisted of four LCD screens, powered by solar panels.
It was a mobile roadshow, starting with music to draw a crowd and then switching to a three-minute film on the biggest of the screens.
While the topic – digital literacy – was not the most entertaining, it was engaging for the audience, many of whom had never seen a screen or moving images before.
After the film, the audience was invited to use smaller touchscreen tablets to answer a series of questions about what they had seen.
There were prizes of T-shirts and caps for those with the highest scores.
For those who couldn’t read, the questions were posed in diagram form….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Shocking Truth of Lightsabers vs.
Lightning,” on YouTube, Martin Archer, a physicist at Britain’s Queen
Mary’s University, says that if lightsabers are made of plasma, having two of
them blast each other is a bad idea and having lightning bolts sent toward a
lightsaber is a really bad idea.
Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King
Tarpinian. Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title
credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]
Crowds are expected to be intense for Disneyland’s new section of the park, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The company announced that you’ll need reservations (at least at first) to take this particular intergalactic journey. Now they’ve released details on just how and when you can score those reservations.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, aka Batuu, aka Black Spire Outpost, aka Star Wars Land opens Friday, May 31, and reservations open on May 2 — a week from Thursday. The reservations are free and are currently required to get into Galaxy’s Edge between opening day and Sunday, June 23.
Those reservations open May 2 at 10 a.m., and the park promises that full details on how to make those reservations will be released that morning at 8 a.m. You’ll be able to get those specifics via the Disney Parks Blog and Disneyland.com.
The opening of the 14-acre land is expected to create such a crush of fans that Disneyland engineers and landscapers have been working for several months to come up with ways to widen walkways and improve queueing systems to accommodate more visitors.
The new land, which will resemble an out-of-the-way outpost on the planet Batuu, will feature two rides, four eateries, one space-themed cantina and five retail shops.
Only one of the two rides in the land — the interactive Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run — will operate when the land opens. The second attraction in the new land — Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — will open later in the year.
On Tuesday morning, the estate and family of Tolkien issued a terse statement in which they announced their “wish to make clear that they did not approve of, authorise or participate in the making of this film”, and that “they do not endorse it or its content in any way”.
A spokesperson for the estate told the Guardian that the statement was intended to make its position clear, rather than heralding future legal action.
John Garth, author of the biography Tolkien and the Great War, said he felt the estate’s response to the film was “sensible”.
“Biopics typically take considerable licence with the facts, and this one is no exception. Endorsement by the Tolkien family would lend credibility to any divergences and distortions. That would be a disservice to history,” he said. “As a biographer, I expect I’ll be busy correcting new misconceptions arising from the movie. I hope that anyone who enjoys the film and is interested in Tolkien’s formative years will pick up a reliable biography.”
StokerCon 2019 chair Brian W. Matthews wrote a stronger-than-average post about
the convention’s antiharassment policy: “A
Fellowship of Respect”.
…Reports of harassment at StokerCon™ 2019 will be followed up by the convention chairs, Lisa Morton and Brian Matthews. Anyone found to have violated these rules may be sanctioned, up to and including expulsion from the convention without refund, and if warranted, involvement of the Grand Rapids Police.
It pains me to have to state the obvious, let alone make it the subject of a blog post, but harassment exists, and it will not be tolerated. No one should be subjected to uncomfortable or unwanted attention. Ever. As a community, we understand horror. We write about it all the time. Protagonists. Antagonists. Good people put into terrible situations. Bad people out to cause harm. We live inside the heads of these characters. Frightened? Threatened? The feeling that you want to throw up? We get it.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but when it comes to StokerCon™ 2019, don’t be the villain.
Be the hero.
(4) RETURN TO THE HAGUE. Reunicon 2020, the 30th anniversary celebration of
ConFiction 1990, is building increasingly
detailed memory webpages to attract prospective attendees.
It all started with a phone call from a fan in New York way back in 1984. Then it took three years of bidding to win the race in Brighton in 1987. Another three long years to make ConFiction1990 a fact in The Hague, the second World Science Fiction Convention on the continent of Europe.
We have created this website and social media avenues to preserve the past for the future and… to promote our intended Reunicon 2020 to commemorate 30 years after ConFiction 1990.
We look forward hearing from you or seeing you in 2020 in The Hague and till then, enjoy the memories we wish to like and follow or share with you all ConFiction1990.
(5) LEGO CATHEDRAL. In the Washington Post, Marylou Tousignant says the Washington National Cathedral, as
a fundraiser, is building a Lego version of itself that will ultimately be
500,00 bricks in total. Visitors can buy bricks for $2 and put them on
the cathedral. The project is patterned after a similar project at the
Durham Cathedral in England. “At
Washington National Cathedral, another church is rising — out of 500,000
This touchiness runs in both directions. Who can forget Harlan Ellison’s obituary last year in this newspaper, in which he was quoted as saying: “Call me a science fiction writer. I’ll come to your house and I’ll nail your pet’s head to a coffee table. I’ll hit you so hard your ancestors will die.”
Iannucci’s verbally dazzling style of comedy often revolves around forcing characters who hate each other to be stuck in the same room, No Exit-style—meetings, plane flights, more meetings—and then letting them insult each other as elaborately and obscenely as possible. And “on a cruise ship surrounded by the deadly vacuum of outer space” is the most “stuck in the same room with people I loathe” that it’s theoretically possible for a character to achieve, so expect fireworks.
(9) MCINTYRE MEMORIAL. Announced
on CaringBridge: Vonda N. McIntyre’s memorial will be
held Sunday afternoon on June 9 at The Mountaineers Goodman Auditorium at 7700
Sand Point Way NE in Seattle, Washington. Doors will open at 1:45, an event
will start at 2:30, and the memorial will end at 4:30pm.
(10) MCGOVERN OBIT. Guy
H. Lillian III reports:“Tom McGovern, a long-term member of the
Southern Fandom Press Alliance, whose article on leaving the Jehovah’s
Witnesses made a strong article for my genzine Challenger, apparently died of cancer April 21 or 22.”
(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
Several theories exist about the question mark’s origins but the most widely accepted version is that Alcuin of York, an English scholar and poet born in 735 and a member of Charlemagne’s court, created it. Originally named the “punctus interrogativus” or “point of interrogation,” this mark was a dot with a symbol resembling a tilde or lightning bolt above it, to represent the rise in pitch when a person asks a question. But it wasn’t until the mid-19th Century that it was first referred to as a “question mark.”
April 23: World Book
and Copyright Day. Pays
tribute to authors and books and their social and cultural contribution to
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 23, 1879 — Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the United States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not really genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.)
Born April 23, 1923 — Avram Davidson. Equally at home writing mystery, fantasy or science fiction, he wrote two splendid Ellery Queen mysteries, And on the Eighth Day and The Fourth Side of the Triangle. I’m fond of his Vergil Magus series if only for the names of the novels were the like as The Phoenix and the Mirror or, The Enigmatic Speculum. (Died 1993.)
Born April 23, 1935 — Tom Doherty, 84. Once publisher of Ace Books who left that in 1980 to found Tor Books. Tor became a subsidiary of St. Martin’s Press in 1987; it became part of the Holtzbrinck group, now part of Macmillan in the U.S. Doherty was awarded a World Fantasy Award in the Lifetime Achievement category at the 2005 World Fantasy Convention for his contributions to the fantasy field.
Born April 23, 1946 — Blair Brown, 73. Emily Jessup In Altered States (based on the Paddy Chayefsky novel) was her first genre role. Later roles include Nina Sharp, the executive director of Massive Dynamic, on Fringe, an amazing role indeed, and Elizabeth Collins Stoddard in the 2004 television remake of Dark Shadows. Her last genre was Kate Durning on Elementary.
Born April 23, 1956 — Caroline Thompson, 63. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family.
Born April 23, 1973 — Naomi Kritzer, 46. Her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” was a Locus Award and Hugo Award winner and was nominated for a Nebula Award. Ok, I’m impressed. Indeed, I just went and purchased Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories on iBooks so I could read it. So what else by her should I read?
Born April 23, 1976 — Gabriel Damon, 43. Remember Hob, the smart wise assed villain in Robocop2? Well this is the actor who played him at the age of thirteen years old! I see he also was on Star Trek:Next Generation in “The Bonding” episode as Jeremy Aster, and on Amazing Stories in their “Santa ’85” episode as Bobby Mynes.
(15) BODILY EXPERIENCES. Ursula Vernon, suffering from some typical traveler’s ailments, has been receiving unsolicited medical advice. One friend suggested leeches. Another said —
(16) THROUGH THE YEARS. Standback recommends a project to Filers —
In Jewish tradition, we count each day of the seven weeks between Passover and Pentecost; 49 days. Sefer Ha’omer is posting a historical SF/F book review every day of the counting — reviewing a 1901 book on Day 1, a 1902 book on Day 2, and so on.
I’ve read some of the essays and really enjoyed them — and I like the historical literature tour, and the selection of lesser-known works by classic authors
…Sargent had been shopping the initial anthology around for several years without luck. Publishers generally felt the market for such an anthology would be small. She got a lucky break when Vonda N. McIntyre asked Vintage Books how it was that despite having done all-male anthologies, they’d never published an all-women one. Vintage was interested in the idea, provided that someone not on their staff did the editing. McIntyre introduced Sargent to the folks at Vintage and the rest is SF history.
Remember, this is the UK public’s cinema theatre box office we are talking about, and not fantastic film buffs’ views. Consequently below this top ten we have included at the end a few other worthies well worth checking out as well as (in some years) some warnings-to-avoid. Also note that this chart compilation calculation did not include DVD sales or spin-off product earnings, and our chart is also subject to weekly vagaries.
(22) DC. Daniel Dern brings
word that DC Universe upped its streaming library — now ~20,000
comics. (Marvel says they have 25,000 on theirs.) “Set eye balls to ‘glaze over’!”
(23) INFINITY ROCKS. Avengers:
Endgame Cast Sings
“We Didn’t Start the Fire” on The
Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The cast of Avengers: Endgame recaps the entire Marvel franchise by singing their own superhero version of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”
John King Tarpinian, Heather Rose Jones, Alan Baumler, Martin Morse Wooster,
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Guy H. Lillian III, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter
for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of
the day Soon Lee.]
What inspired this story, and how did you construct this future?
I’d seen on YouTube a discussion from scientists about if an AI possessed an exact neural map of the human brain that it would not be out of the realm of possibility to believe that they would also be imbued with curiosity and maybe even a sense of responsibility for the Earth because now they, too, were a part of its systems. Around the same time, I stumbled on articles written by social scientists who believed that in taking care of certain economic necessities, humanity ideally could free up resources for creative problem-solving on the world scale and exploration.
These points of reference were really the general jumping-off points for me to try to logically extrapolate a human society that accommodated AIs (though not without some implied struggle) because the AIs were not, in fact, seeking a judgment day. They wanted to live and progress just as humans, and though their consciousness was not exact to humans, they were their own kind and just as worthy to be respected. We recognize this in intelligent animals, or even animals as a whole, so my thinking was it could be possible for AIs as well.
Consider, for example, your trash. What happens to it? How do you dispose of it? Is it a garbage can next to your desk or in the kitchen? What happens to it once the can is full? Where does it go? Who deals with it? Do you know? Or does it simply “vanish?”
Well, here’s the thing. It definitely doesn’t vanish. Refuse is refuse: Someone has to do something with it or it piles up. Waste from your home, for example, at least in the US, is collected in a larger can and taken to the side of the road for a garbage truck to collect (99% of the time. The US’s coverage with this system is so ubiquitous that I’ve been to rural places where the only vehicle in town that isn’t a four-wheeler or a boat is the town garbage truck). That truck then takes it to a landfill or a processing center. At the first, the garbage is dumped out. At the second, it’s sorted and separated, usually with an end-goal in mind of dividing up the garbage into smaller, more dedicated end-states, from compost to recycling.
(4) NYRSF READINGS. Jim
Freund asks, “Why waste your time with the State
of the Union, when we have such a brilliant and more fulfilling alternative?”
The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings
Series resumes Tuesday, February 5.
Mimi Mondal (Bone Stew) writes about history and politics, occasionally disguised as fiction. Her first co-edited anthology, Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler won a Locus Award and was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2018. In the past Mimi has worked as an editor at Penguin India and Uncanny Magazine, and spent eleven years at universities in India, Scotland and the US, from which she is currently recovering in New York and at @Miminality on Twitter.
Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 100 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies, from Conjunctions to Clarkesworld to Weird Tales, as well as a number of Best Of anthologies. She has received an O. Henry award, been a finalist for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award, the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction (twice), and others. She has published four novels and a novella, and her fourth story collection has just been published by Tartarus Press.
The events begins at 7:00 p.m. in
The Brooklyn Commons Café, 388 Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt & Bond St.)
in Brooklyn, NY.
Once we get inside, we’re quickly pointed to the counter. The food and drink offerings here are relatively run-of-the-mill Seoul cafe classics: Americanos, various flavored lattes and milk teas, and fruity adeS. On the menu, they promise chocolate wands are coming soon, and on select days there’s Butterbeer. Dessert-wise there’s a selection of cakes, none of which are themed, save for one: the wizard cake, a mini replica of the birthday cake Hagrid brings to Harry. We ordered the wizard cake for a cool 17,000 Won (around $15), grabbed our pager, and began to explore.
And trust me, there’s a lot to explore. Everywhere you turn there’s a poster or a reference to something Harry Potter-esque. Quotes in English and Korean line the staircases along with posters and portraits. Even the elevator is fully decked out.
(6) NO CODE FOR THIS
CONDUCT. The infosec industry conference
DerbyCon is calling it quits after this year. Their explanation sounds like “We’re closing
down rather than resorting to enforcing our code of conduct.”
…This year, we had to handle issues that honestly, as an adult, we would never expect to have to handle from other adults. Conferences in general have shifted focus to not upsetting individuals and having to police people’s beliefs, politics, and feelings. Instead of coming to a conference to learn and share, it’s about how loud of a message a person can make about a specific topic, regardless of who they tear down or attempt to destroy. To put it in perspective, we had to deal with an individual that was verbally and mentally abusive to a number of our volunteer staff and security to the point where they were in tears.
This is not what we signed up for.
Admittedly, we had no idea how to handle this person, and in fear of repercussion of removing this person, allowed them to stay at the conference in order to “not upset the masses”. The best we could do was just apologize, for other apologies, and apologize more for another’s actions. This is just one example of many we have had to deal with over the past few years, and each year it becomes increasingly harder for us to handle. We do everything as a conference to ensure the safety, security, and go above and beyond that of others. Maybe that puts us on a different level where something that would normally not be an issue explodes into a catastrophic situation on social media.
Who knows? What we do know is each year it gets harder and harder.
…Some in the infosec community read the organizers’ statement and began to blame the shutdown on “Social Justice Warriors,” and women who complained too much. For example, far right blog Gateway Pundit pointed to an incident where an attendee complained that other attendees were joking about sexual assault outside of the conference’s Mental Health Village. Others on Twitter latched on to the rumor that “SJWs” killed DerbyCon.
While some women in the cybersecurity world were discussing the toxic interactions, sexual harassment, and assaults they’ve faced in the infosec community, members of a popular closed Facebook hacking group called “illmob” began to attack women who have spoken up about these issues, including Georgia Weidman, a security researcher who recently tweeted that her career was hurt by attending and speaking at DerbyCon in 2013….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 4, 1925 – Russell Hoban. Riddley Walker may well be one of the most difficult novels I’ve ever read but it’s certainly also worth it. ISFDB lists a lot of other SF works by him but I must say I hadn’t realised that he’d written any beyond this work. Had any of you known this? (Died 2011.)
Born February 4, 1940 – John Schuck, 79. My favorite SF role by him is as the second Draal, Keeper of the Great Machine, on the Babylon 5 series. I know it was only two episodes but it was a fun role. He’s also played the role of Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He guest starred in Deep Space Nine as Legate Parn In “The Maquis: Part II”, on Star Trek: Voyager as Chorus #3 in the “Muse” episode, and on Enterprise as Antaak in the “Divergence” and “Affliction” episodes. Oh, and he was Herman Munster in The Munsters Today. Now that was a silly role! Did you know his makeup was the Universal International Frankenstein-monster makeup format whose copyright NBCUniversal still owns?
Born February 4, 1961 – Neal Asher, 58. I’ve been reading and enjoying his Polity series since he started it nearly twenty years ago. Listing all of his works here would drive OGH to a nervous tick as I think there’s now close to thirty works in total. I’m listening to The Line War right now and it’s typically filled with a mix of outrageous SF concepts (Dyson spheres in the middle of ten thousand year construction cycles) and humans who might not be human (Ian Cormac is back again). He’s the sort of writer that I think drives our Puppies to madness — literate pulp SF pumped out fast that readers like.
Born February 4, 1970 – Gabrielle Anwar, 49. Currently Lady Tremaine on Once Upon a Time. On the BBC series Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, she once played Ramandu’s Daughter. Marti Malone in Body Snatchers which is the third film adaptation of that Finney novel. She was Queen Anne in The Three Musketeers which I love and Emily Davenport in The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Patriotic Ewoks will shed a tear over this Brevity.
(9) STAR TREK: RENT. On The Late Late Show With James Corden, the cast of Star Trek: Discovery leaves the bridge for this week’s episode of Carpool Karaoke. Sing along with Sonequa Martin-Green, Anthony Rapp, Doug Jones and Mary Wiseman. Complete show is accessible through an Apple app.
There’s another preview on Twitter.
(10) WORLDCON ECONOMICS. Persistent
Scribble tasks an unnamed author who feels the Worldcon should give them a free
membership. Thread starts here.
(11) VAMPING IT UP. What We Do in the Shadows, from writer Jemaine Clement and director Taika Waititi, premieres
March 27 on FX.
What We Do in the Shadows is a half-hour comedy series based on the feature film of the same name by co-creators Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Set in New York City, the show follows three vampires who have been roommates for hundreds and hundreds of years. Stars Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillen and Mark Proksch.
Brian K. Vaughan’s beloved comic series Y: The Last Man is finally coming to a screen. FX on Monday announced that it has picked up its TV adaptation to series. The network has handed out a series order for the drama from showrunner Michael Green and starring Barry Keoghan and Diane Lane. It is expected to premiere in 2020.
[…] Green (American Gods, Blade Runner 2049, Logan) and Aïda Mashaka Croal (Luke Cage, Turn) serve as showrunners and executive producers. Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson of Color Force (American Crime Story, Pose, The Hunger Games) and Vaughan executive produce and developed the series. Melina Matsoukas (Insecure, Master of None, Beyonce: Formation) directed the pilot and exec produce the FX Productions drama. In addition to Keoghan and Lane, the cast also includes Amber Tamblyn, Imogen Poots, Lashana Lynch, Juliana Canfield and Marin Ireland.
How can astronauts build a lunar base if traditional building materials are too heavy to load into a rocket?
In 1975, three years after the final Apollo Moon landing, Space: 1999 first aired on British television. It began with a nuclear explosion wrenching the Moon, and an international lunar colony of over 300 people, out of its orbit and into an unknown journey into space.
The TV series obviously made an impression on a young Elon Musk because, when the SpaceX founder revealed their plans for a lunar colony in August 2017, he called it Moonbase Alpha after the lunar base in Space: 1999. “Cheesy show,” Musk tweeted, “but I loved it.”
SpaceX is not alone is wanting to get humans back on the Moon. The Chinese space agency CNSA (China National Space Administration) has announced the next stages of its successful Chang’e lunar exploration missions – shortly after Chang’e 4 became the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the far side of the Moon.
Chang’e 5 and 6 will be sample return missions while Chang’e 7 will survey the South Pole, a region of specific interest for human habitation because it contains water ice. “We hope that Chang’e 8 will help test some technologies and do some exploring,” deputy head of the CNSA Wu Yanhua said in January, “for the building of a joint lunar base shared by multiple countries.”
China is not alone in this ambition. Across the globe, 50 years after the Moon landings, the practicalities of a moonbase are taking shape. The irony is that, while only the United States of America has left footprints on the Moon, the Americans are now having to play catch up. It didn’t unveil plans for a permanent moonbase until August 2018. Nasa’s primary focus until then had been Mars. The European Space Agency (Esa) was already one step ahead.
Pixar’s new animation program SparkShorts has released its first short film, a powerful story about the difficulty of fitting into a workplace of human males.
“Purl” might be about a pink ball of yarn, but its title character adopts new behaviors and aggression to be one of the boys, a transparent allegory for women trying to break the glass ceiling in corporate culture.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Gordon Van Gelder, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Errolwi, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to ULTRAGOTHA.)
Doctor Who’s Twitter account has shared a cute animated holiday short telling the story of how the Doctor (voiced by Whittaker) helped save Christmas once again this year. Narrated by Bradley Walsh (Graham), the Twas The Night Before Christmas-style tale is all about Santa getting stuck in a jam after his sleigh breaks down. Who can he possibly call to save the day? The Doctor, of course!
….Still, I think there’s a gap between hard SF defined so narrowly only Hal Clement could be said to have written it (if we ignore his FTL drives) and hard SF defined so broadly anything qualifies provided the author belongs to the right social circles … that this gap is large enough that examples do exist. Here are five examples of SF works that are, to borrow Marissa Lingen’s definition:
playing with science.
and doing so with a verisimilitude that’s not just plot-enabling handwaving….
(3) MYTHCON 50. Introducing artist Sue Dawe’s logo for Mythcon 50, with the theme “Looking Back, Moving Forward.” The convention will take place August 2-5 in San Diego – register here.
(4) TAFF NEWS. Avail yourself of the official Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund news – click to retrieve the PDF file:
Step-by-step instructions on how to respond to a report
In-depth discussion of relevant topics
Dozens of real-world examples of responding to reports
Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner were the lead authors of the Ada Initiative anti-harassment policy, which is the basis of thousands of codes of conduct in use today. Valerie has more than 7 years of professional experience writing and implementing codes of conduct for software-related companies, venture capital firms, and non-profits.
(6) NOT GOING TO DUBLIN 2019? Then a clue as to what you’ll be missing from the Science GoH is contained in this 1/2 hour BBC interview with Jocelyn Bell Burnell. “Of course, if you are going to Dublin, then don’t listen to this,” warns SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “as there are spoilers.”
Jim Al-Khalili talks to astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Jocelyn Bell Burnell forged her own path through the male-dominated world of science – in the days when it was unusual enough for women to work, let alone make a discovery in astrophysics that was worthy of a Nobel Prize. As a 24-year old PhD student, Jocelyn spotted an anomaly on a graph buried within 100 feet of printed data from a radio telescope. Her curiosity about such a tiny detail led to one of the most important discoveries in 20th century astronomy – the discovery of pulsars – those dense cores of collapsed stars. It’s a discovery which changed the way we see the universe, making the existence of black holes suddenly seem much more likely and providing further proof to Einstein’s theory of gravity.
(7) FILMS THAT BELONG ON YOUR LIST. Looper says these are “The Best Fantasy Movies Everyone Missed In 2018.”
With major blockbusters and huge franchises taking up most of our attention these days, it can be easy to lose track of all the great releases sneaking by under the radar but these 2018 fantasy movies are well worth seeking out…
(8) TV HISTORY. Echo Ishii revisits another sff TV classic, The Stone Tape:
The Stone Tape was a television play broadcast by the BBC in 1972.
The Stone Tape begins with a man named Peter who is head of a research team for an electronics company. Like many of the characters in Beasts, the protagonist is not a pleasant person. Peter Brock, though likely very skilled at his job, is arrogant, self-absorbed, sexist, and condescending. Whereas someof the sexism and the bigoted comments may be a representation of the realities of the the business world (and TV) at the time, you are clearly meant not to like Peter Brock as a person which only amps up the unease surrounding the main plot….
(9) HOW FAR IS IT? Far out. Like, literally Far Freekin’ Out. A newly announced minor planet is the most distant known object in the Solar System (Phys.org: “Outer solar system experts find ‘far out there’ dwarf planet”). The body’s official name is 2018 VG18, but it’s nicknamed “Farout” and it’s current orbital distance is about 120 AUs.
A team of astronomers has discovered the most-distant body ever observed in our Solar System. It is the first known Solar System object that has been detected at a distance that is more than 100 times farther than Earth is from the Sun.
The new object was announced on Monday, December 17, 2018, by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center and has been given the provisional designation 2018 VG18. The discovery was made by Carnegie’s Scott S. Sheppard, the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen, and Northern Arizona University’s Chad Trujillo.
2018 VG18, nicknamed “Farout” by the discovery team for its extremely distant location, is at about 120 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The second-most-distant observed Solar System object is Eris, at about 96 AU. Pluto is currently at about 34 AU, making 2018 VG18 more than three-and-a-half times more distant than the Solar System’s most-famous dwarf planet.
(10) COMING YOUR WAY. The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie’s new fantasy novel, arrives February 26, 2019. “My library’s already let me reserve it,” says Daniel Dern.
…Travers was the wisest woman I’ve ever met. She was the second Western woman to study Zen in Kyoto, part of the inner circle of the famous mystic G.I. Gurdjieff and did yoga daily (an exotic practice in the 1970s). One afternoon in her Manhattan apartment, we had a conversation that would later appear in Paris Review. She spoke about the meanings of Humpty Dumpty, how her book “Friend Monkey” had been inspired by the Hindu myth of Hanuman, the Zen expression “summoned not created,” the sacredness of names in aboriginal cultures and a spiritual understanding of the parable of the Prodigal Son. And as for linking “this store of wisdom and our modern life,” she lead me step by step through parallels between the kidnapping of Patty Hearst and the myth of Persephone. It was one of the richest afternoons of my life.
As she often did, Travers emphasized that she “never wrote for children” but remained “immensely grateful that children have included my books in their treasure trove.” She thought her books appealed to the young because she had never forgotten her own childhood: “I can, as it were, turn aside and consult it.”
…However, when astronauts got bored of the standard group photos they decided to spice things up a bit. And what’s a better way to do that other than throwing in some pop culture references? Fair warning the results are quite cringy, making it hard to believe that these images are actually real.
First on the list:
(12) DINJOS OBIT. Nigerian sff writer Emeka Walter Dinjos has died. Future Science Fiction Digest editor Alex Shvartsman paid tribute in “RIP Emeka Walter Dinjos”:
It is with a heavy heart that I must share the news that Emeka Walter Dinjos, a Nigerian writer of science fiction and fantasy whose novelette “SisiMumu” is featured in our first issue, passed away at the age of thirty-four on Wednesday, December 12.
Walter was admitted to the hospital a little over aweek ago, on the eve of his birthday. In his last Facebook post he shared a photo of himself in a hospital bed, writing “I once swore I would never find myself in a place like this.” He was quick to point out, “It’s just fatigue.Will probably be out in a few days.” But unfortunately he succumbed to complications related to unmanaged diabetes. Walter is survived by his siblings and extended family, to whom I extend deepest condolences on behalf of everyone at Future SF and his many friends in the SF/F community….
(13) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 18, 1839 — John William Draper took the first photo of theMoon. (Say “Cheese!”)
December 18, 1957 — The Monolith Monsters hit theatres.
December 18, 1968 — Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flew into theaters.
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 18, 1913 – Alfred Bester. He is best remembered for perhaps for The Demolished Man, which won the very first Hugo Award. I remember experiencing it as an audiobook— a very spooky affair! The Stars My Destination is equally impressive with Foyle both likeable and unlikable at the same time. Psychoshop which Zelazny finished is in my library but has escaped reading so far. I’ve run across references to Golem100 but I’ve never seen a copy anywhere. Has anyone read It? (Died 1987.)
Born December 18, 1939 – Michael Moorcock, 79. Summing up the career of Moorcock isn’t possible so I won’t. His Elric of Melniboné series is just plain awesome and I’m quite fond of the Dorian Hawkmoon series of novels as well. Particular books that I’d like to note as enjoyable for me include The Metatemporal Detective collection, Mother London and The English Assassin: A Romance of Entropy.
Born December 18, 1946 – Steven Spielberg, 72. Are we counting Jaws as genre? I believe we are per an earlier discussion here. If so, that’s his first such followed immediately by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Between 1981 and 1984, he put out Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Twilight Zone: The Movie and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Ok so the quality of the last film wasn’t great… He’d repeated that feat between ‘89 and ‘93 when he put out Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Hook which I both love followed by Jurassic Park which I don’t. The Lost World: Jurassic Park followed along a string of so-so films, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, War of the Worlds and one decided stinker, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The BFG is simply wonderful. Haven’t seen Ready Player One so I’ll leave that up to y’all to opine on.
Born December 18, 1953 – Jeff Kober,65. Actor who’s been in myriad genre series and films including V, The Twilight Zone, Alien Nation, the Poltergeist series,The X-Files series, Tank Girl as one of the kangaroos naturally, Supernatural, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Kindred: The Embraced and The Walking Dead.
Born December 18, 1968 – Casper Van Dien, 49. Yes, Johnny Rico in that Starship Troopers movie. Not learning his lesson, he’d go on to film Starship Troopers 3: Marauder and the animated Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars. Do not go read the descriptions of these films! He’d also star as Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City, show up as Brom Van Brunt In Sleepy Hollow, be Captain Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 3000, James K. Polkin, and — oh really Casper — the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Sequels short, Rumpelstiltskin in Avengers Grimm and Saber Raine In Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine. That’s a lot of really bad film.
The unseen presence of one character has haunted The Good Place from the beginning, lingering like one of Bad Janet’s legendary farts since the very first moments of the very first episode: Doug Forcett.
As we all know — at three seasons and 35 episodes in — the afterlife hinges on a cumulative point system, with good deeds adding to an individual’s point total and bad or selfish deeds subtracting. People with high enough point totals enter The Good Place, while those who don’t make the cut do the whole burn-for-eternity thing down in The Bad Place. Despite all the twists, developments, reveals, and red herrings of the uniquely sharp and wacky sitcom, one constant has remained: that only one mortal has figured out the system, and he did it while on a mushroom trip back in 1972.
“Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By” opens with the song of the same name by the Mamas and the Papas’ “Mama” Cass Elliott, itself a 70s artifact that portends something darker than its sunny melody suggests —that life is short, and if we’re not careful, we’ll screw it up. We watch as some as-yet-unnamed character tends to a series of mundane tasks, his face hidden from view. But there’s something familiar about that grizzled-blond shock of hair we see only from behind. It belongs to someone we know. Turns out that’s doubly true, as the head we’re looking at is that of legendary comedic actor Michael McKean in character as the aforementioned Forcett, now several decades older and committed to obtaining the requisite number of Good Place points.
A KiwiBot, an automated food delivery robot which is present on UC Berkeley’s campus, caught fire on Friday afternoon.
In a post, the company explained the incident was due to a faulty battery which had been mistakenly installed instead of a functioning one.
The errant battery started smoldering while the robot was idling, leading to smoke, then fire outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.
“A member of the community acted swiftly toextinguish the flames using a nearby fire extinguisher. Within moments ofthe incident occurring, it had already been contained,” the post read.
“The Berkeley Fire Department arrived shortly thereafter to secure the scene, and doused the robot with foam ensuring there was no risk of re-ignition.”
Unsurprisingly, the fire was caught on both video and stills. Pics of the subsequent candlelight memorial also appeared online. Deliveries had been taking place by the bots since 2017 but were suspended following the fire. Since then, software has been updated to more closely monitor the battery state and the fleet is back in service.
On Tuesday, the chicken chain announced that it is selling three-piece chicken-tenders meals packaged in “Emotional Support Chicken” carriers at Philadelphia International Airport. The special chicken will be available as supplies last starting Tuesday at the Popeyes location in Terminal C.
Emotional-support animals have been making headlines recently, as passengers have pushed for the ability to bring increasingly bizarre companions on flights.
Slat’s system, a 10-foot skirt attached beneath an unmoored, 2000-foot-long plastic tube, takes advantage of the wind and waves to move through the Pacific Ocean. The system aims to collect plastic from the water’s surface, which would then be picked up every few months by a support vessel and transported back to land for recycling. The garbage trap uses solar-powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas to communicate its position to Slat’s team and passerby vessels.
Weather and other delays marred what had been anticipated as a banner day for space launches Tuesday, as both SpaceX and Blue Origin were forced to postpone launches that had been scheduled to take place within minutes of each other. Both companies say they will look at moving their launches to Wednesday morning.
Artificial intelligence bots. 3-D printed human organs. Genomic sequencing.
These might seem to be natural topics of interest in a country determined to be the world’s leader in science and technology. But in China, where censors are known to take a heavy hand, several artworks that look closely at these breakthroughs have been deemed taboo by local cultural officials.
The works, which raise questions about the social and ethical implications of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, were abruptly pulled last weekend from the coming Guangzhou Triennial on the orders of cultural authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.
The artists, from Europe, Australia and the United States, were not given an official reason why their works were rejected for the show, which opens on Dec. 21 at the Guangdong Museum of Art. The pieces did not touch on the Tiananmen democracy crackdown of 1989, independence for Taiwan or Tibet or the private wealth of Chinese Communist Party leaders —topics that are widely known to be off-limits for public discussion in China.
As a result, some of the show’s curators and the affected artists havebeen left guessing as to why the works were banned. Their conclusion? The works were perhaps too timely, too relevant and therefore too discomforting for Chinese officials.
…The other banned works include “The Modular Body,” an online science fiction story about using human cells and artificial organs to create a living organism. Created by a Dutch artist, Floris Kaayk, the work is intended to raise questions about the potential for 3-D printing of human organs, about extending life with the help of technology and about the desire to design life from scratch.
Say goodbye to Sphero’s cute BB-8 robot. In fact, say goodbye to all the company’s licensed products, including R2-D2, BB-9E and Cars’ Lighting McQueen. According to The Verge, Sphero plans to sell its remaining inventory of licensed toys, but it will no longer manufacture more once it runs out. Indeed, the products’ listings on Sphero’s website says “This is a legacy product and no longer in production.” The company isn’t just discontinuing the models, though: It’s ending its licensing partnerships completely, because it’s no longer worth dedicating resources for their production.
Sphero chief Paul Berberian explained that while the toys sold well when their tie-in movies were released, fewer and fewer people purchased them as the years went by. “When you launch a toy, your first year’s your biggest. Your second year’s way smaller, and your third year gets really tiny,” he said….
An African grey parrot has made headlines recently for inadvertently making orders via his owner’s Amazon Echo. Originally reported via The Times of London [paywall], the parrot — whose name is Rocco — would mindlessly activate Alexa and have the virtual assistant tell jokes and play music. Rocco even tried to order a few items from Amazon, but the owner wisely had set up controls to prevent unauthorized purchases.
What makes the somewhat lighthearted story even more amusing is that Rocco previously had a stint living at the UK’s National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) but was kicked out — yes, kicked out — because he was swearing too much. As the old adage says, truth is stranger than fiction. Rocco was subsequently placed under the care of a NAWT employee named Marion Wischnewski whereupon he quickly started activating Alexa.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Elusis, Brian Z., Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]