(1) WORKING MAGIC. In The Guardian, Philip Pullman says there are reasons “Why we believe in magic”.
But rationalism doesn’t make the magical universe go away. Possibly because I earn my living as a writer of fiction, and possibly because it’s just the sensible thing to do, I like to pay attention to everything I come across, including things that evoke the uncanny or the mysterious. Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto (I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me). My attitude to magical things is very much like that attributed to the great physicist Niels Bohr. Asked about the horseshoe that used to hang over the door to his laboratory, he’s claimed to have said that he didn’t believe it worked but he’d been told that it worked whether he believed in it or not. When it comes to belief in lucky charms, or rings engraved with the names of angels, or talismans with magic squares, it’s impossible to defend it and absurd to attack it on rational grounds because it’s not the kind of material on which reason operates. Reason is the wrong tool. Trying to understand superstition rationally is like trying to pick up something made of wood by using a magnet.
(2) COMPANIONS. Here’s a BBC teaser – a shot of the Thirteenth Doctor’s companions, Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Yaz (Mandip Gill).
(3) THE NEXT TAFF RACE. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators John Purcell and Johan Anglemark say they will soon be taking nominations for the North America-to-Europe round – on Facebook.
Word up to all scientifictional fans out there: new European TAFF Administrator Johan Anglemark and I are very close to announcing the opening of nominations for the 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund race to send a North American fan to the Dublin, Ireland World Science Fiction Convention next August. If anybody is considering standing for this, you might want to start lining up potential nominators. You will need two European and three North American fans known to the Administrators this time around.
Get involved and be prepared for taking a trip that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Stay tuned for more details Real Soon Now.
(4) AUDIOFILE PODCAST. Each weekday hear AudioFile editors Robin Whitten, Michele Cobb, Emily Connelly, and Jonathan Smith giving insider tidbits and highlighting their favorite clips with show host Jo Reed in the new podcast “Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazine”. Download at iTunes.
Editors and reviewers from AudioFile Magazine give their recommendations for the best audiobook listening Monday thru Friday. Find your next great audiobook. Plus bonus episodes of in-depth conversations with the best voices in the audiobook world.
(5) VOYAGE OF REDiSCOVERY. James Davis Nicoll leads a tour through the winners of the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in “Who Are the Forgotten Greats of Science Fiction?” at Tor.com.
Time is nobody’s friend. Authors in particular can fall afoul of time—all it takes is a few years out of the limelight. Publishers will let their books fall out of print; readers will forget about them. Replace “years” with “decades” and authors can become very obscure indeed.
The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award was founded in 2001 to draw attention to unjustly forgotten SF authors. It is a juried award; the founding judges were Gardner Dozois, Robert Silverberg, Scott Edelman, and John Clute. The current judges are Elizabeth Hand, Barry N. Malzberg, Mike Resnick, and Robert J. Sawyer1.
I wish the award were more widely known, that it had, perhaps, its own anthology. If it did, it might look a bit like this.…
(6) ANIMANIACS. The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles will host a Animaniacs Live! on September 6. Ticket info at the link.
The most zany, animany and totally insany Animaniacs are back! Animaniacs LIVE! in concert is coming to the GRAMMY Museum’s Clive Davis Theater on September 6th. Fans of the beloved Warner Bros. animated series are in for a treat as they get up close and personal with their favorite characters as songs from the pop-culture hit cartoon series are performed live on stage in the all-new Animaniacs LIVE! Randy Rogel, Emmy-winning composer of the original 1992-1998 show, teams up with Emmy-winner (1998, Pinky and the Brain) Rob Paulsen (Yakko Warner) to sing an evening of songs from the hit show. Clips from the series, and anecdotes from Rogel and Paulsen will run in between songs such as “Yakko’s World” and “Variety Speak.” If you are a fan who has been aching for something new pertaining to Animaniacs, this is your time! And whether you love live music, animation, or the original show, Animaniacs LIVE! is an experience you don’t want to miss.
(7) KGB READING SERIES. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Patrick McGrath & Siobhan Carroll on Wednesday, September 19, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.
Patrick McGrath is the author of nine novels, including Asylum, an international bestseller, and Spider, which David Cronenberg filmed from McGrath’s script. He has also published three collections of short fiction, including most recently Writing Madness. He teaches a writing workshop at The New School and is currently at work on a novel about the Spanish Civil War. His most recent novel is The Wardrobe Mistress.
Siobhan Carroll is a Canadian author whose short stories have appeared in venues like Lightspeed and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. A scholar as well as a writer of speculative fiction, she typically uses the fantastic to explore dark histories of empire, science, and the environment. In 2018, she has short stories out in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Ellen Datlow’s The Devil and the Deep anthology, and forthcoming in The Best of the Best Horror of the Year.
KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.), New York, NY.
(8) BYUNICORNS. It’s a unicorn incubator – get it?
This 2018 BYU commercial spot celebrates BYU as a business incubator and the university’s ranking as a top school for producing business “unicorns.” In business, a unicorn is a private company worth a billion dollars or more. Hosted by comic actor Jon Heder (a graduate of BYU’s animation program), the original spot was created by BYU animation faculty, led by director Kelly Loosli, and talented students from BYU’s award-winning Center for Animation
(9) FORGOTTEN INFLUENCER. In “Night Vision” in The New Republic, Nicholson Baker discusses J.W. Dunne’s An Experiment in Time, published in 1927, which is “one big, clock-melting, brain squishing chimichanga of pseudoscientific parapsychology” that influenced, among others, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert A. Heinlein, and Jorge Luis Borges.
Dunne’s book, published in 1927, was called An Experiment With Time, and it went into several editions. “I find it a fantastically interesting book,” wrote H.G. Wells in a huge article in The New York Times. Yeats, Joyce, and Walter de la Mare brooded over its implications, and T.S. Eliot’s publishing firm, Faber, brought the book out in paperback in 1934, right about the time when Eliot was writing “Burnt Norton,” all about how time present is contained in time past and time future, and vice versa.
(10) MARQUEZ OBIT. Vanessa Marquez (1968-2018): US actress, died August 30, aged 49. Appeared in the horror movie Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993) and played one of the rebel pilots in Trey Stokes’ Star Wars spoof short Return of Pink Five (2006).
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
- September 4, 1975 – Space:1999 premiered on TV.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 4, 1905. Mary Renault. English born, South African resident writer of historical fiction still considered the gold standard for her depictions of Alexander the Great though her reliance on the work of Robert Graves in other Of her fiction is less appreciated. Also wrote Lion in the Gateway: The Heroic Battles of the Greeks and Persians at Marathon, Salamis, and Thermopylae.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
- You’d be surprised what “everybody knows” – PvP Online.
(14) TOTO, WE’RE HOME — HOME. A pair of red sequined “ruby” slippers from The Wizard of Oz, stolen over a decade ago from a museum, have been recovered by the FBI. NBC News (Dorothy’s stolen ruby slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ found by FBI after 13 years) reports:
There’s no place like home.
A pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers stolen from the Judy Garland Museum 13 years ago will soon make their way back to their rightful owner after the FBI announced on Tuesday it had located the sequined shoes that followed the yellow brick road in “The Wizard of Oz” nearly 80 years ago.
…Several pairs are known to still exists, including a pair housed in the Smithsonian. But in August 2005, a pair vanished after a break-in at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota […]
A CNN report (Dorothy’s stolen ruby red slippers found 13 years later) adds:
On Tuesday afternoon, authorities intend to reveal details of the shoes’ recovery at the FBI Minneapolis headquarters. It’s unclear if anyone will be charged or where they could end up next.
…A 2017 tip to Detective Brian Mattson led to “connections outside of Minnesota,” the Grand Rapids Police Department said, explaining why the FBI took the lead in the probe.
The shoes were recovered in Minneapolis earlier this summer, Sgt. Robert Stein said in a statement, declining to provide details because the investigation remains active.
(15) THERE’S A HOLE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SOYUZ. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A 2mm hole in a Russian spacecraft that caused an air leak from the International Space Station may have been there from before the launch, reports The Verge (“Russia is trying to figure out how a tiny hole showed up in its Soyuz spacecraft”). The Soyuz had been docked at the ISS since 8 June, but the leak wasn’t noticed (by ground personnel monitoring onboard pressure) until 29 August. This led to an initial assumption that the hole was caused by a micrometeorite. Once found and documented, the hole was sealed with epoxy and the ISS air pressure has since been confirmed to be stable.
A photo of the hole, posed on Twitter by NASASpaceFlight.com, though, appears to show evidence of a wandering drill bit and a hole that looks manmade.
Unofficial speculation is that either the insulation that was covering that part of the Soyuz interior or some accidentally introduced material blocked the leak until it became dislodged somehow. Alternately, a pre-flight repair could have been made that degraded with time and exposure to vacuum and eventually “popped out.” The Verge reports:
“We are considering all the theories,” said Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos state space corporation, according to TASS. “The one about a meteorite impact has been rejected because the spaceship’s hull was evidently impacted from inside. However it is too early to say definitely what happened.” Rogozin goes on to say that it looks like the hole was a “technological error” made by a specialist with a “faltering hand.” “There are traces of a drill sliding along the surface,” he said.
Roscosmos has since convened a State Commission to investigate the cause of the hole. Rogozin noted that understanding its origin was “a matter of honor” and that the investigators would figure out if the hole was the result of a defect or if it was made on purpose. “Now it is essential to see the reason, to learn the name of the one responsible for that. And we will find out, without fail,” he said, according to TASS. NASA declined to go into detail about the investigation. “NASA will support the commission’s work as appropriate,” the space agency said in a statement to The Verge.
In an AFP article (“Russia says space station leak could be deliberate sabotage”), speculation was even reported that this could have been sabotage once the craft was in space:
“There were several attempts at drilling,” Rogozin said late Monday in televised comments.
He added that the drill appeared to have been held by a “wavering hand.”
“What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?” he asked.
“We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space.”
Columnist Mike Wehner reports “That hole in the International Space Station was caused by a drill, not a meteorite, and the search is on for the culprit” at Yahoo!
Multiple unnamed sources have spoken with Russian media outlet RIA Novosti and hinted that an internal investigation at the corporation that builds the spacecraft, Energia, has already yielded results. According to those sources, the person has been identified and apparently explained that the hole was drilled by accident and not with malicious intent. A fabric seal was placed over the hole to hide the mistake, and it lasted a couple of months before eventually breaking open in space.
(16) FLAG FOOTBALL. The Hollywood hype machine grinds on: “Buzz Aldrin Makes His Stance Clear on First Man American Flag Controversy”.
More than a month before it’s officially released in theaters, Damien Chazelle’s moon landing drama First Man is already embroiled in political controversy. Its genesis? The fact that there is no scene in the movie explicitly showing our enterprising Americans firmly planting the stars and stripes into the gray lunar surface—though the flag is apparently included in several shots. Right-wing Twitter has feverishly renounced the film for its disgusting lack of patriotism, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio calling the omission “total lunacy” (get it?) after it was first reported by The Telegraph. And now, one of the guys who was actually there has offered his two cents.
Buzz Aldrin, the second human being ever to set foot on the moon, tweeted a pair of pictures on Saturday night…
(17) CITIUS, ALTIUS, FORTIUS, GLUTEUS. Not only are “Esports ‘too violent’ to be included in Olympics” – why would sitting on your ass playing a computer game be classified as a “sport” anyway?
The President of the International Olympic Committee says esports are too violent to be part of the Olympics.
Thomas Bach said the “so-called killer games” which promote violence or discrimination cannot be accepted into the Games.
“If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values,” he said at the Asian Games.
(18) PANDA POWER. BBC visits “China’s giant solar farms”.
Fly over “Datong County”, a region in northern China, and you’ll see two giant pandas. One is waving at you. They are made of thousands of solar panels.
Together, and with the other adjacent panels included, they form a 100-megawatt farm covering 248 acres. It’s actually a relatively small solar park by China’s standards – but it is certainly patriotic.
“It is designed and built as the image of the Chinese national treasure – the giant panda,” explains a document from Panda Green Energy, the company that constructed the farm.
(19) IRISH BREW NEWS. Easing tourism: “Ireland passes craft brewery legislation”. Chip Hitchcock says, “Advantage for fans: breweries can now sell their own products to visitors without having to buy out a publican’s license — a big win for small craft breweries. And this one isn’t across salt water from the 2019 Worldcon.”
The Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Act 2018, enables craft breweries and distilleries to sell alcohol on their premises.
It means tourists being shown how beer and spirits are made can then buy them at the end of the tour.
There are craft breweries in every county in Ireland, whiskey distilleries in 22 counties and gin distilleries in 14.
(20) WHAT CONSTITUTES EXPERIENCE. “Author Neil Gaiman backs Ironheart writer Eve Ewing” — in response to complaints about her lack of experience, he points out that he’d written just 3 short stories when DC took a chance on him.
Author Neil Gaiman has come to the defence of a comic-book writer after some on social media questioned her experience.
Eve Ewing has been chosen to pen Marvel’s new Ironheart comic-book series but the writer is perhaps better known as an award winning poet and academic.
In response to a Twitter user who questioned how many stories Ewing had written, Gaiman replied: “I’d only published three short stories before I started writing comics. I wrote comics once and the poetry I’d written was more useful than the fiction.”
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, David Doering, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Steve Green, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]