[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]
TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?
I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:
31 of the novellas published in 2015,
35 of the novellas published in 2016,
46 of the novellas published in 2017,
and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
(and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)
I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.
The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.
It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.
Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.
Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.
Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.
I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.
Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!
One of the more exciting publishing developments of recent years has been the increased support for science fiction and fantasy books written by authors of color and featuring diverse protagonists and world-building based on non-Western mythology and history. Writers like N. K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Cadwell Turnbull have been expanding the ways traditional tropes can be extended or subverted to address issues like marginalization, colonialism, and sexual violence, while delivering thrilling stories steeped in magic. Here are eight of our favorite recent sci-fi and fantasy novels by Black authors; for a more exhaustive list of reading suggestions, visit our Black History Month page.
A Vermont federal judge is taking Netflix on a journey where the First Amendment won’t immediately protect the streamer. On Tuesday, Netflix failed in its first efforts to escape a lawsuit brought by the trademark owner of “Choose Your Own Adventure” over the 2018 immersive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Chooseco LLC, a children’s book publisher, filed its complaint in January 2019. According to the plaintiff, it has been using the mark since the 1980s and has sold more than 265 million copies of its Choose Your Own Adventure books. 20th Century Fox holds options for movie versions, and Chooseco alleges that Netflix actively pursued a license. Instead of getting one, Netflix released Bandersnatch, which allows audiences to select the direction of the plot. Claiming $25 million in damages, Chooseco suggested that Bandersnatch viewers have been confused about association with its famous brand, particularly because of marketing around the movie as well as a scene where the main character — a video game developer — tells his father that the work he’s developing is based on a Choose Your Own Adventure book….
(4) FRESH TOWELS. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Back in 1979 at the Brighton Worldcon Christopher Reeve said that while he was appreciative of people voting overall and Superman winning the Hugo for Best Dramatic presentation, clearly those here in the hall wanted Hitch-hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy…
As far as we can tell, and based on this trailer, The Iron Mask has nothing to do with that Leonardo DiCaprio movie from the ’90s. It is, however, the kind of movie that has something for everyone—and a whole lot of it. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a mustachioed bad guy of vague European descent (Russia…?). Jackie Chan has long, glorious silver hair and ridicules Schwarzenegger, who yells things like “IT’S THE TOWAH!” and we’re supposed to understand that this tower is very important. Also Jason Flemyng is there, and he’s a cartographer, or so the official synopsis tells us. Charles Dance is involved because this is a movie that checks all his boxes: period, British, wacky fantasy with dragons and shit, and Schwarzenegger. (Wait. Is this actually one of the movies from Last Action Hero?)…
… This conservativeness permeates every system of algorithmic inference: search for a refrigerator or a pair of shoes and they will follow you around the web as machine learning systems “re-target” you while you move from place to place, even after you’ve bought the fridge or the shoes. Spend some time researching white nationalism or flat earth conspiracies and all your YouTube recommendations will try to reinforce your “interest.” Follow a person on Twitter and you will be inundated with similar people to follow. Machine learning can produce very good accounts of correlation (“this person has that person’s address in their address-book and most of the time that means these people are friends”) but not causation (which is why Facebook constantly suggests that survivors of stalking follow their tormentors who, naturally, have their targets’ addresses in their address books).
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
February 12, 1940 — The Adventures Of Superman radio serial first aired with “The Baby From Krypton” episode. It first started on WOR in New York on this date and the radio serial would air on various networks though 1951. In all, 2,088 original episodes of the show aired on American radio. Bud Collyer played Clark Kent and of course Superman with Joan Alexander being Lois Lane, Batman even appeared when Bud Collyer needed vacation time and he was performed by Stacy Harris. It was sponsored by Kellogg’s Pep Cereal. It finished fourth in the Retro Hugo voting For Short Form video Hugo presented at MidAmeriCon II at Kansas City. You can listen to this episode here.
February 12, 1981 — Escape from Galaxy 3 (original title Giochi erotici nella terza galassia also known as Starcrash II, keep that in mind for a minute please) premiered. Directed by Ben Norman and produced by Dino Mangogno, this Italian film starred Sherry Buchanan, Fausto Di Bella, Don Powell, Chris Avram, Attilio Dottesio and Max Turilli. The film is infamous for using stock footage from Starcrash for all its model scenes. No, it didn’t get a great reception. Creature Feature said that it was “chintzy, had unconvincing, anemic acting and silly sound effects.” The reviewers over at Rotten Tomatoes haven’t bothered to rate it yet, but most of the Amazon reviewers who bought the VHS tape give it just one star. You of course can watch it for free here.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 12, 1920 — Louis Russell Chauvenet. Member of First Fandom, and a founder of the Boston’s Strangers Club which ran the first Boskones. He’s credited with coining the term “fanzine” and may have also coined “prozine” as well. He published a number of zines from the later Thirties to the early Sixties. (Died 2003.)
Born February 12, 1929 — Donald Kingsbury, 91. He’s written three novels (Courtship Rite, The Moon Goddess and the Son and Psychohistorical Crisis) that could be akin to the Asimov’s Foundation novels. Clute at EOSF says that the Asimov estate explicitly refused him permission to set Psychohistorical Crisis in the Foundation universe.
Born February 12, 1933 — Juanita Ruth Coulson, 87. She’s best known for her Children of the Stars series. She was a longtime co-editor of the Yandro fanzine, and she’s a filker of quite some renown. Yandro won Best Hugo at Loncon II in 1965.
Born February 12, 1942 — Terry Bisson, 78. He’s best known for his short stories including “Bears Discover Fire,” which won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award and “They’re Made Out of Meat”. His genre novels includes Talking Man, Wyrldmaker and a rather cool expansion of Galaxy Quest into novel form.
Born February 12, 1945 — Maud Adams, 75. Best remembered for being two different Bond girls, first for being in The Man with the Golden Gun where she was Andrea Anders, and as the title character in Octopussy. She shows up a few years later uncredited in a third Bond film, A View to Kill, as A Woman in Fisherman’s Wharf Crowd.
Born February 12, 1945 — Gareth Daniel Thomas. His best known genre role was as of Roj Blake on Blake’s 7 for the first two series of that British show. He also had a minor role in Quatermass and the Pit, and had one-offs in The Avengers, Star Maidens, Hammer House of Horror, The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, Tales of the Unexpected, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and Torchwood. (Died 2016.)
Born February 12, 1954 — Stu Shiffman. To quote Mike in his post, he was “The renowned fan artist, who generously shared his talents in fanzines, apas and convention publications, received the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1990 and the Rotsler Award in 2010.” You can read Mikes’ gracious full post on him here. (Died 2014.)
Born February 12, 1960 — Laura Miller, 60. Author of an essay whose title tickles me to the end: “It’s Philip Dick’s World, We Only Live In It“. Originally appearing in the New York Times, 24 November 2002, it was reprinted in PKD Otaku, #9 which you can download here.
(10) THE PERSON IN THE GRAY FLANNEL POWER SUIT. An infographic
video answers the question, “How do
exoskeletons impact the workplace?”
Since 1965, when the first exoskeleton was produced for military use, exoskeletons have been increasingly popular in the manufacturing world, supporting workers and improving the quality of their working hours.
In 2018 more than 7,000 units were sold in manufacturing (ABI Research data), but the potential market need would be 60,000 units for all types of exoskeleton, with an estimated growth rate of more than 50% from 2019 to 2024. A trend that, taking into account the increasing average age of population in industrialized countries, could grow again.
Although some of the work in factories is automated, human input is still crucial and remains at the heart of many operations, including value-added and repetitive ones, but which require a high level of precision: for example, a worker lifts his arm 4,600 times a day, almost a million times a year to perform some tasks.
For example, in wearable robotic technologies that support workers in their jobs, the MATE passive technology exoskeleton, which does not require batteries or motors, provides postural support that follows the movements of the arms without resistance or misalignment. This generates a 30% reduction in stress on the main shoulder muscles….
As America’s craft beer industry continues to boom, the waste it generates can pose challenges for sewer systems. But if it’s used in the right spot, in the right amount, it’s potentially beneficial and can actually save wastewater treatment plants money.
In Bozeman, Mont., the Water Reclamation Facility treats more than 6 million gallons of water every day from sinks, showers, toilets — really anything that goes down a drain. That includes liquid waste from more than 10 breweries in this city of nearly 50,000.
Because it’s rich in yeast, hops and sugar, brewery waste can throw off the microbes that wastewater plants rely on to remove nitrogen and phosphorus. The two nutrients can cause algae blooms in rivers and kill off fish.
“But if we can use [brewery waste] correctly and put it in the right spot, it’s very beneficial to the process,” engineering consultant Coralynn Revis says.
Revis led a pilot project here last summer to try to do just that. Bozeman worked with a local brewery to feed its beer waste to the treatment plant’s bacteria at just the right time in just the right dosage.
“This is super simplified, but like, if they’re eating their french fries, they need a little ketchup with it. So to get the nitrate out, you dose a little carbon, and the bugs are happier,” Revis explained.
US and German intelligence services secretly gathered the classified communications of governments for decades through secret control of an encryption company, reports say.
Swiss firm Crypto AG supplied encoding devices to more than 120 governments from the Cold War era up to the 2000s.
But the spies reportedly rigged the devices so they could crack the codes and read the messages.
They harvested secrets from countries including Iran, India and Pakistan.
The highly-classified programme between the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Germany’s BND Federal Intelligence Service has been detailed in reports by US newspaper the Washington Post, German broadcaster ZDF and Swiss channel SRF.
The outlets gained access to a classified internal CIA history that called the operation the “intelligence coup of the century”.
A German man’s marriage proposal has been captured in an aerial picture used by Google Maps, to the surprise of him and his fiancée.
Part-time farmer Steffen Schwarz spelled out the words “Will you marry me?” in German in a field of corn, according to local media reports.
The 32-year-old then got his girlfriend to fly a drone over the field last year, revealing the romantic message.
But his proposal got a bigger audience than he had planned.
Mr Schwarz told local media that he had no idea his proposal had appeared on the popular mapping service until he was alerted by an aunt in Canada who sent him a screenshot.
The proposal, which he spelled out using a seeding machine, extends across the entire width of the almost two-hectare (five-acre) field in Huettenberg, central Germany.
[Thanks to JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Andrew
Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Daniel
Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall
(1) 2019 WORLD FANTASY AWARDS PHOTO. Lee Whiteside took
this picture of the winners and accepters at Sunday’s World Fantasy Awards
Left to right: Kathleen Jennings (accepting for Best Novella winner Kij Johnson), Emma Törzs (Best Short Fiction co-winner as well as accepting for co-winner Mel Kassel), C. L. Polk (Best Novel), Tobias S. Buckell (Best Collection with Paolo Bacigalupi), Reiko Murakami (accepting for Best Artist winner Rovina Cai), Irene Gallo (Best Anthology) and Rajan Khanna (accepting for Scott H. Andrews, Special Award – Nonprofessional)
The Official Watchmen Podcast launches after the third episode of the series airs on November 3rd. Over three episodes, host Craig Mazin (HBO and Sky’s Chernobyl) discusses Watchmen with its Executive Producer and Writer, Damon Lindelof. Join Mazin and Lindelof as they divulge narrative choices, explore the show’s connection with the groundbreaking graphic novel, and how it reflects our modern times. Make sure to watch episodes one through three of Watchmen before listening. The Official Watchmen Podcast is produced by HBO in conjunction with Pineapple Street Studios.
(3) MAKE ROOM. If Marie Kondo didn’t get you started
decluttering, maybe this post by Wil Wheaton will do it: “The Purge”. This excerpt
is followed by a moving account of the emotional work he went through in the
…As I was cleaning up my emotional baggage, working on strategies to protect myself from my abusers, and practicing mindfulness daily, I realized that I had a ton of STUFF just sitting around my house, cluttering up my physical living space the way my emotional trauma and pain was cluttering up my emotional space. So I made a call, and hired a professional organizer to come to my house, go through all my bullshit with me, and help me get rid of all the things I didn’t need any more.
This process was, in many ways, a metaphor.
We spent several days going through my closets, my game room, my storage spaces in my attic and shed, and eventually ended up with FIVE TRUCKLOADS of stuff I didn’t need. Most of it was clothes and books and things that we donated to shelters, which was really easy to unload. I acquire T-shirts so much, I regularly go through my wardrobe and unload half of what I have, so it’s easy to get rid of stuff without any emotional attachments.
But there were some things that were more difficult to get rid of, things that represented opportunities I once had but didn’t pursue, things that represented ideas that I was really into for a minute, but didn’t see through to completion, things that seemed like a good idea at the time but didn’t really fit into my life, etc….
The death of Yahoo Groups is a particular blow to text-based fan communities, which thrived on the platform in the 2000s. Yahoo message boards and email lists were crucial to the early days of fandom, both as a publishing platform and as a semi-private meeting place in the days before social media sites like Tumblr, Twitter, and Reddit. Yahoo Groups were particularly integral to Harry Potter and English-language anime fandoms, overlapping with the rise of Livejournal in the early 2000s. These fannish mailing lists were home to reams of fanfiction and in-depth commentary on pop culture, and spawned lifelong friendships (and, OK, the occasional deathly feud) within their communities.
AO3 has offered sanctuary to fanworks that are at risk because of
the Yahoo Groups shutdown:
We have two processes in place — one to move fanworks from Yahoo Groups onto the Archive Of Our Own, and one to download and preserve messages and other content from Yahoo Groups in file systems so moderators and Yahoo Groups users have more than nine weeks to figure out how to preserve and possibly share that content.
Open Doors can only import fanworks archived in Yahoo Groups onto the Archive of Our Own with the consent of the moderator(s). If you are a moderator and would like to import fanworks from your Yahoo Group(s) to AO3, you are welcome to contact Open Doors via our contact form.
…If you’re a moderator who’d like to potentially import your group to the AO3, contact Open Doors and we’ll talk to you about options. For more updates on what’s happening, see announcements or check back on this page.
If you’d like to directly help rescue teams and you want to save only fandom groups, you can use this form to nominate fandom groups OR you can go directly to the public spreadsheet to find nominated groups that still need downloading. (General downloading instructions are here.) If you want to help save fandom groups and many other non-fandom groups, see Archive Team’s chrome extension. Both are worthy efforts and both face a hard deadline of Dec 14.
(5) CONZEALAND MINORS POLICY. Here are some features of
Onsite Policy” for the 2020 Wordcon,
A minor is anyone under the age of 18. In New Zealand, the law requires that no minor under the age of 14 be left unattended. …
All Kid-in-tow and Child memberships must be tied to an adult membership. All minors under 16 should have a sticker on the back of their badge detailing up to two adults (over 18) who are responsible for them.
Due to the nature of licensing and regulation in regards to child care in New Zealand, it will not be possible for us to provide child care at CoNZealand. Please refer to the links to nanny and babysitting services at the end of this document.
There are three types of memberships for minors at CoNZealand:
Kid-in-tow (no charge)—born in or after 2015 (generally 5 and under)
Child ($105)—born in or after 2005 (generally 5-15)
Young Adult ($250)—born in or after 2000 (generally 15-20)
These age groups do not exactly align with the differing expectations for supervision of minors. New Zealand law requires that no child under the age of 14 be left unattended.
At the Hugo Awards ceremony at this summer’s Dublin Worldcon, Jeannette Ng was presented with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Ng gave an outstanding and brave acceptance speech in which she called Campbell – the award’s namesake and one of the field’s most influential editors – a “fascist” and expressed solidarity with the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
I am a past recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (2000) as well as a recipient of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (2009). I believe I’m the only person to have won both of the Campbells, which, I think, gives me unique license to comment on Ng’s remarks, which have been met with a mixed reception from the field.
I think she was right – and seemly – to make her remarks….
From the escapades of an intern-turned-spy in Turkey’s capital to the tale of a priest in 15th Century Somerset, there might not be an obvious connection between the novels shortlisted for this year’s Staunch Book Prize.
But they have one thing in common: none of them involve physical or sexual violence towards women.
The prize, which is in its second year, recognises thrillers in which “no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered”.
But while some commend it for challenging stereotypes, others accuse it of ignoring social realities.
Speaking to the BBC, shortlisted authors and other writers share their views on why female characters are so often the victims of violence – and whether that needs to change.
…The concept of the Moon as a strategic base apparently dates at least back to 1948 and an article by Robert S. Richardson titled “Rocket Blitz From the Moon” in the mass-market Collier’s magazine. The article was beautifully illustrated by famed space artist Chesley Bonestell. In one Bonestell painting a bullet-shaped rocket (illogically equipped with large aerodynamic fins) is blasting off from a lunar crater. Another rocket stands prepped in the background and a lunar base is tucked into the side of a mountain. In the next illustration—probably Bonestell’s most dramatic painting ever—Manhattan has been blasted with at least three atomic bombs.
Richardson’s article focused primarily on the physics of the Moon: the low gravity, the lack of air, the trajectory and velocity calculations for firing rockets at the Earth. Rather than advocate that the United States should build a lunar rocket base, Richardson warned that another country could undertake a secret project to develop a lunar base and achieve strategic surprise against the United States. He did not clearly explain why the Moon would be a good place for basing missiles other than its presumed safety from Earth observation, and he noted that it would take at least a day for a rocket to reach Earth with its warhead. Considering that there were other means of basing long-range strategic weapons that did not involve the massive cost of a space program and a lunar base, Richardson’s idea was fanciful at best. But Collier’s was a large circulation magazine, not a science fiction pulp, and this short article certainly reached a big audience and probably fired some imaginations.
Richardson was not the only person writing about the possibilities of using space as a platform for attacking Earth. Robert Heinlein co-wrote a non-fiction article in August 1947, also for Collier’s, called “Flight into the Future.” Heinlein and his co-author, US Navy Captain Caleb Laning, suggested basing atomic weapons in orbit, and Heinlein later used this idea in his book Space Cadet. The 1950 movie Destination Moon, which Heinlein co-wrote, also echoed a similar theme (see “Heinlein’s ghost (part 1)”, The Space Review, April 9, 2007). One of the characters in the movie explains why a lunar base is necessary: “There is absolutely no way to stop an attack from outer space. The first country that can use the Moon for the launching of missiles will control the Earth. That, gentlemen, is the most important military fact of this century.”…
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 5, 1938 — Jim Steranko, 81. His breakthough series was the Sixties “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” feature in Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales and in the subsequent debut series. His design sensibility is widespread within and without the comics industry effecting even Raiders of the Lost Ark and Bram Stoker’s Dracula as he created the conceptual art and character designs for them. He was inducted into the comic-book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.
Born November 5, 1942 — Frank Gasperik. Tuckerized in as a character in several novels including Lucifer’s Hammer as Mark Czescu, and into Footfall as Harry Reddington aka Hairy Red, and in Fallen Angels, all by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. He was a close friend of both and assisted Pournelle on his Byte column. To my knowledge, he has but two writing credits which are he co-wrote a story, “Janesfort War”, with Leslie Fish that was published in Pournelle’s War World collection, CoDominium: Revolt on War World, and “To Win the Peace” co-written with Leslie Fish which was published in John F. Carr’s War World: Takeover. He was a filk singer including here doing “The Green Hills of Earth”. (Died 2007.)
Born November 5, 1944 — Carol Anne Douglas, 75. Although she has two inarguably genre series In the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator and the Sword and Circlet novels, I’m here to pitch to you her Social Justice Warrior credential series instead (and dissenters can now go elsewhere) in the form of her Midnight Louie series. Each novel is told in part from the point of view of Midnight Louie, the cat himself in a style some say is like that of a Damon Runyon character.
Born November 5, 1949 — Armin Shimerman, 70. Quark on Deep Space Nine. And Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer who if I remember correctly came to a very bad end. He had the recurring role of Pascal on Beauty and the Beast. He also played Professor George Edward Challenger in the later Nineties Lost World film.
Born November 5, 1960 — ?Tilda Swinton, 59. Her take as Rosetta/Ruby/Marinne/Olive in Teknolust might be the most weird genre role she’s done but I like her take as The White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as her best role to date. Mind you her Gabriel in Constantinewas frelling strange…
Born November 5, 1961 — Sam Rockwell, 58. First in our area of interest as the Head Thug in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve got him next being Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, not a role I knew. Ahhh, Guy Fleegman on Galaxy Quest. And lastly, he was Zaphod Beeblebroxin The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Born November 5, 1964 — Famke Janssen, 55. Her first genre role was Xenia Onatopp in the Bond film GoldenEye and her longest running genre role was as Jean Grey / Phoenix (Dark Phoenix) in the X-Men film series. Counting horror which I do, she’s got a number of genre appearance including Lord of Illusions, The Wolverine, House on Haunted Hill, Deep Rising and Star Trek: The Next Generation,
Born November 5, 1970 — Tamzin Outhwaite, 49. She was Detective Inspector Rebecca Flint on Paradox, a SF police series that ran for just five episodes and received really harsh reviews. Her only other SF role was as the Captain in an Eleventh Doctor story, “Nightmare in Silver” which was scripted by Neil Gaiman.
“Just by word of mouth and also on the library’s social media pages like Facebook, we saw a lot of patrons say, ‘Oh my God. This is so great. I’m gonna bring back my books. I’ve been hesitant to come back to the library because I owe these fines,'” Telli said.
Chicago became the nation’s first major city to forgo overdue fines, which went into effect Oct. 1 and erased all outstanding fees. Mayor Lori Lightfoot framed the policy change as her latest attempt to remove barriers that deter youth and low-income patrons.
Lightfoot is also making an effort to open libraries on Sundays. The mayor’s 2020 budget includes an $18 million property tax increase to honor her promise to establish Sunday hours at Chicago’s 81 libraries. Currently, the Harold Washington central library and three regional libraries are open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
(11) NEVER? WELL, HARDLY EVER. Even Book View Café’s Madeleine E. Robins will sometimes “RTFM*”.
I am, by nature, a dive-in-and-figure-it-out sort of technology user. This may come from my early days as a computer user, when my then room-mate and sometime business partner dropped a box on my desk and said “we’re doing a user’s manual for X Corp. Can you learn this” — this being PageMaker, the forerunner of InDesign, a page layout program–“by next week? I should have copy for you then.”
Reader, I did not rise up and slay him; I learned the program, eventually well enough that I taught classes in it. I still use those skills: one of the things I do at my day job is to use InDesign to produce the posters, ads, and other marketing materials that the museum I work at needs for promotion….
…In the past 20 years, as we all know, the movie business has changed on all fronts. But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk. Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist. Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all.
I’m certainly not implying that movies should be a subsidized art form, or that they ever were. When the Hollywood studio system was still alive and well, the tension between the artists and the people who ran the business was constant and intense, but it was a productive tension that gave us some of the greatest films ever made — in the words of Bob Dylan, the best of them were “heroic and visionary.”
Today, that tension is gone, and there are some in the business with absolute indifference to the very question of art and an attitude toward the history of cinema that is both dismissive and proprietary — a lethal combination. The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema. They still overlap from time to time, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other….
(13) ELRIC MEETS DUNGEON SYNTH. A Moorcock-obsessed United Kingdom musician who goes by the name Elric is working in the “dungeon synth” genre (an eerie combination of goth, classical, and folk tunes played on 80s synths). The releases are on Bandcamp and are named “Antihero”, “Stormbringer”, and “Elric of Melnibone”. They are all “name your price.” As Bandcamp said about one of the releases:
It’s safe to say that fantasy literature and role-playing games (the tabletop and the video variety) loom large in the world of Dungeon Synth, and Elric expertly combines both of them. Inspired by the chiptune soundtracks of games like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana as well as (obviously) the fantasy novels of Michael Moorcock, Elric’s music is the perfect soundtrack to crawling through (16-bit) alcoves, searching for abandoned potions and treasure while trying to avoid the hungry ghouls hidden in the shadows.”
High up in the Arctic Ocean close to the North Pole, a solitary ship floats in darkness, moored to an expansive piece of ice.
If all goes according to plan the ship will remain with that ice for an entire year, so that scientists on board can study the Arctic system and how it’s responding to climate change.
It’s a project called the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC). But finding a piece of ice thick and stable enough to host the mission’s science and logistics is not easy, and there may be challenges for the ice and the scientists in the months ahead.
…The MOSAiC expedition – about a decade in the planning – is an international collaboration involving hundreds of scientists and almost 20 countries. Their goal is to better understand the changing Arctic and improve how it’s represented in climate models.
“We need this information because the Arctic is changing so rapidly, and it’s a place that we have not observed very well in the past,” says Matthew Shupe, an atmospheric scientist with the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a co-coordinator for MOSAiC.
The last time scientists looked at the Arctic Ocean system so comprehensively was more than 20 years ago. But the Arctic has been warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, and the picture there has changed dramatically.
That’s why these researchers want a year out in the ice: to get an updated look at how the physics, the chemistry, and the biology of this area work during all four seasons.
In France, climate change is already impacting one of the country’s most emblematic industries — winemaking. French vintners say heat, drought and erratic weather is altering the landscape and their centuries-old way of working.
Brothers Remi and Gregoire Couppé are fourth generation winemakers who craft a top vintage, grand cru St Emilion. In the last few years they’ve been confronted with some new challenges. Forty-four-year-old Remi Couppé says there’s no denying the weather is getting hotter and drier.
“Because of the grapes. They show us the change,” he says. “Especially in alcohol. The alcohol level has been getting higher in the last five years.” These days, the alcohol content by volume can reach 15%, he says; when he was a boy, “it was maximum 12 [% ABV]. It’s causing me some problems when I start the vinification process, because I have to use new yeast to avoid too much alcohol. It’s really new for me.”
The higher alcohol levels come from increased sugar in the grapes due to more sun and heat. What’s also new are some of the plants sprouting up between the vines. Couppé picks a flowery-looking weed, holding it up to the blazing sun. “This plant is from the south of Europe and I never saw it here in my life before four years ago.”
Couppé says you have to be careful when using the mechanized harvester now, because such plants can get mixed in and ad a taste to the grapes.
The brothers say in the past three years they’ve completely stopped a process called “stripping,” where most of the vine leaves are removed just before the harvest. Now they need the leaves’ shade to keep the grapes from burning on the vine. Couppé points to a shriveled, sun-exposed cluster of grapes next to the dark, plump ones still shaded by the leaves.
Data sent back by the two Voyager spacecraft have shed new light on the structure of the Solar System.
Forty-two years after they were launched, the spacecraft are still going strong and exploring the outer reaches of our cosmic neighbourhood.
By analysing data sent back by the probes, scientists have worked out the shape of the vast magnetic bubble that surrounds the Sun.
The two spacecraft are now more than 10 billion miles from Earth.
Researchers detail their findings in six separate studies published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
“We had no good quantitative idea how big this bubble is that the Sun creates around itself with its solar wind – ionised plasma that’s speeding away from the Sun radially in all directions,” said Ed Stone, the longstanding project scientist for the missions.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Lee Whiteside, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip
Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse
Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title
credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
(1) MORE MCU DEFENDERS, ER, AVENGERS SPEAK OUT. On The Late
Show with Stephen Colbert, “The Avengers Respond To Marvel Movie Critics.”
You’re right, Hulk. The “Godfather” films do glorify violence.
(2) HELP IS ON THE WAY. S.L. Huang’s Ask an Author post
Contracts and Norms in Publishing” does a full-spectrum post about contract
cancellation – its infrequency, significance, how it can be handled badly, how a
publisher ought to handle it, and what an author can do.
What makes cancellations worse:
There are two interrelated problems when a publisher has to suddenly cancel multiple contracts. The first is biting off more than they could chew as a press, which obviously isn’t ideal and can be a worrying comment on the state of their business, but it can happen without ill intent. But the second is how the publisher handles it.
Here are some things that can escalate a cancellation from unfortunate to disturbingly unprofessional: …
What a publisher should do in a situation like this:
Clarity. Communication. Transparency. Exploring any possible avenues before taking a route so extreme. If there are no other options, then: Apology, honest dialogue, taking responsibility, an immediate reversion of rights, an admission of the disservice they’ve done to the authors.
Ideally, a kill fee would be offered.
S&%t happens in publishing. How we treat people when it does is important. And yes, this is a business — but businesses have ethics, and norms, and professionalism. Contracts should be treated as if they mean something.
It is unclear why exactly the pranks got so bad. Irish immigrants had carried over the Halloween tradition of pranking to the United States, but they had been pretty innocent. One of the most popular was to disassemble a neighbor’s front gate and reassemble it on top of a building. That one was so common that some people called Halloween “Gate Night.”But by the 1920s and ?30s, teenage boys had co-opted the pranking tradition, and they were on a Halloween warpath. They broke streetlights. They started fires. They tied wires across sidewalks to trip people….
“They were costing cities millions of dollars even in the early ’30s,” said Lisa Morton, author of “Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween,” in an interview with The Post. “There were a lot of cities that were really considering banning the holiday at that point. It was really, really intense.”
Parents and civil groups needed a solution. A distraction. Or a bribe.
And from this cauldron of parental panic, they pulled out an idea that, to this day, is part of what defines American Halloween.
They thought to throw the kids a party, but “because this was the Great Depression, a lot of people didn’t have the money … so one of the first things they did was called ‘house-to-house parties.’”
Newitz takes an approach to the time paradoxes that’s kind of strange. She allows time travel and timeline editing. But she insists that there’s only one timeline. No parallel timelines, no branching timelines. Just our one timeline: “Our only timeline, whose natural stability emerged from perpetual revision.”
So, somehow, when you travel back in time, you alter the timeline..for everyone. But you yourself remember how it was before the change. This might be viewed as hopping to a different timestream, but Newitz doesn’t want that. She wants to have just one timestream. But the timestream is changing.
FUTURE TENSE. Slate’s latest Future Tense story is Cory
about how technical restrictions start with
powerless people before coming for us all.
…Ninety-Two’s work in Building 34 was as an exceptions—catcher for a Re-Cog facial recognition product. All around the world, millions of people stepped in front of cameras and made a neutral face and waited: for their office door to unlock, for the lift to be summoned, for the gates at the airport to swing open. When the camera couldn’t figure out their face, it asked them to try again, and again, and again. Then it threw an exception, and 92, or someone else in Building 34, got a live view of the feed and tapped an icon: NO-FACE (for anything that wasn’t a face, like a picture of a face, or a balloon, or, one time, a pigeon); BAD SCENE (poor lighting, dirt on the lens); CRIME (once, a decapitated man’s head; once, an unconscious woman; once, a woman in terror, a hand in her hair); and OTHER (for suspected malfunctions).
Nettrice Gaskins, an
artist-educator who collaborates with A.I., wrote the response essay “Not
Just a Number”.
In “Affordances,” we see various forms of intelligence agents erase people’s names and identities, particularly those who are held back by and are fighting societal barriers. These people are reduced to numbers, to maps of their faces, to their risk scores. Facial recognition software identifies protesters and otherwise serves as a technological gatekeeper. Online filters flag or block video footage of migrants, and racially biased algorithms determine whether alleged perpetrators are taken into custody or released. In our world, the power of Facebook, Google, and other technology companies is so immense that it can feel futile to push back against them, especially for marginalized groups. But that sense of helplessness can also enable a dangerous complacency. It is exactly because these companies are so powerful that we need people to interrogate their work and challenge it….
Finding a five-Earth-mass, ten-centimetre-diameter, 0.004 Kelvin object somewhere in the outer boroughs of the Solar System should be easy—I’m sure that some grad student or professor angling for tenure is hard at work right now! But what would be the use to the rest of us of a five-Earth-mass, ten-centimetre-diameter, 0.004 Kelvin primordial black hole (PBH) orbiting somewhere in the outer boroughs of the Solar System?
OK, sure: if it’s there, it offers us the chance to do some wonderful science; we’d be able to run experiments in regions of intense gravity. But people in general don’t seem to care all that much about pure science. So, what applied applications are there?
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.
Ray Bradbury did not like the ending of It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown! because the Great Pumpkin did not appear. Chuck Jones was a friend of Ray’s and he did not like the ending either. Together they wrote a script about Halloween. They could not sell it to any studio. So, Ray turned the script into his book, The Halloween Tree. The book was successful enough, it has never gone out of print, and it was finally sold as a half-hour animation special, which won an Emmy in 1994. The lead character was voiced by Leonard Nimoy. [Source: John King Tarpinian.]
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 26, 1984 — Gale Anne Hurd and James Cameron’s The Terminator premiered. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, it was received well by reviewers and audience alike with the notable exception of Ellison who noted successfully that the screenplay was based on a short story and the “Soldier” episode of The Outer Limits he had written.
October 26, 1984 — V finally premiered as a regular weekly series with “Liberation Day”. There were two previous miniseries.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 26, 1942 — Bob Hoskins. I’ll insist his role as Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is his finest genre role though I suppose Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros. could be said… Just kidding! He’s the Director of The Raggedy Rawney which he also had a role, a strange might be genre film, and he’s Smee in Hook as well. (Died 2014.)
Born October 26, 1945 — Jane Chance, 74.Scholar specializing in medieval English literature, gender studies, and J. R. R. Tolkien with a very, very impressive publication list for the latter such as Tolkien’s Art: A “Mythology for England, Tolkien the Medievalist, The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power and Tolkien, Self and Other: “This Queer Creature”.
Born October 26, 1954 — Jennifer Roberson, 65. Writer of of fantasy and historical romances. The Chronicles of the Cheysuli is her fantasy series about shapeshifters and their society, and the Sword-Dancer Saga is the desert based adventure series of sort, but the series I’ve enjoyed her Sherwood duo-logy that consists of Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood which tells that tale from the perspective of Marian. Her hobby, which consumes much of her time, is breeding and showing Cardigan Welsh Corgis.
Born October 26, 1960 — Patrick Breen, 59. He’s Redgick, a Squid, a minor character that appeared in Men in Black. In beloved Galaxy Quest, he’s Quellek, a Thermian who forms a bond with Alexander Dane. it’s a wonderful role.
Born October 26, 1962 — Cary Elwes, 57. He’s in The Princess Bride as as Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts/The Man in Black. He also shows up in Dr. Lawrence Gordon in the Saw film franchise, and was cast as Larry Kline, Mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of Stranger Things.
Born October 26, 1963 — Keith Topping, 56. Some of the best Who stories aren’t televised but written. The Hollow Men, his Seventh Doctor novel, is damn good and riffs off a Fifth Doctor story. He’s also written guides to that show plus The Avengers, Trek, Buffy and the X-Files.
Born October 26, 1971 — Jim Butcher, 48. I really don’t know how far I got in the the Dresden Files, at least though Proven Guilty, and I will go back to it eventually. Who here has read his Cinder Spires series which sounds intriguing?
Born October 26, 1971 — Anthony Rapp, 48. Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets on Discovery. His first role ever was Wes Hansen in Sky High, showed up early in his career as Jeff Glaser in the “Detour” episode of X-Files. He was Seymour Krelbourn in a national tour of Little Shop of Horrors.
Born October 26, 1973 — Seth MacFarlane, 46. Ok, I confess that I tried watching the Orville which he created and is in and it just didn’t appeal to me. For those of you who are fans, why do you like it? Having it described as trying to be a better Trek I admit ain’t helping.
(10) GO AWAY OR I SHALL TAUNT YOU SOME MORE. Myke Cole and
Sam Sykes got into it again. Thread
Here’s the opening paragraph from the entry about Clipping.
Clipping are one of the most interesting musical acts on the planet right now. Jonathan Snipes, William Hutson and Daveed Diggs don’t so much embody modern hiphop as surround it. Diggs, best known of course as everybody’s favorite fighting Frenchman, is the crispest MC on Earth, No syllable escapes his sight, no word or metaphor gets free from the specific gravity of his boundless, graceful flow. This is a man who dances with the words, building structures and meaning, narrative and plot out of them and demolishing it just as easily. Snipes and Hutson in the meantime, excel at building audio landscapes for Diggs to bound across and occasionally be pursued through.Vast walls of noise, found audio, field recordings, structural jokes and aural wit. It’s all here and all at the control of these three flat out musical geniuses. And, in There Existed An Addiction to Blood, they’ve produced another genre adjacent work which is both completely in line with their previous work and sees them evolve once again.
Spacebit, a U.K.-based startup, has announced details of its planned lunar mission in 2021 – revealing a spider-shaped rover that will scuttle across the lunar surface.
As we first revealed last month, Spacebit has a contract with U.S. firm Astrobotic to hitch a ride on their Peregrine lunar lander. Originally part of the canceled Google Lunar XPRIZE, this private endeavor will now attempt to reach the Moon after launching on a Vulcan rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida in late 2021.
(13) WORTHY OF A MUSEUM. Behind a paywall In the October 21
Financial Times, Tom Faber profiles Jenova Chen, whose moody and artistic
games have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian
American Art Museum.
Chen studied computer programming before moving to California to enrol at the University of Southern California. It was there that he made Cloud, a game inspired by periods he spent hospitalised as an asthmatic child. Players are cast as a boy who daydreams about flying out of his hospital window and manoeuvering clouds to combat pollution. For Chen it was wish-fulfillment. In Shanghai there’s a lot of pollution, but during my childhood everyone said it was mist,’ he says. ‘I think making the game I was subconsciously trying to clean the city and the air.’
It was an unusual game, with no scores, violence or competition. Still, it went viral, crashing the university servers with more than 600,000 downloads. Chen received messages from fans all over the world. ‘They told me they cried while playing, I think because of the deep desire to feel free. People need to know gaming is not just about guns, soccer, and competition,’ he says. ‘It can be something healing and positive.’
…Having characters that look Chinese matters, especially when the cosplay industry is obsessed with exactly replicating fictional characters, but the irony of cosplay in China is that it is less about copying and more about interpretation. According to Wang Kanzhi’s research for a master’s programme in East Asian Studies at Lund University in Sweden, cosplay in China is more open to interpretation because the “Great Firewall” has isolated the community from not only other cosers but also original source materials.
“Due to the different understanding of the original pieces, local cosplayers tend to add their own ideas and points of view into the activity, which obviously changes the original characters,” Wang says. “In other words, the local cosplayers do not only duplicate fictional characters, but add their own creative points to the original form and content.”
Electricity’s domestication is a triumph of American ingenuity. But The Current War, despite depicting the likes of Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, doesn’t feel very American at all. That’s probably one of the reasons the movie was received with so little enthusiasm when it debuted at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. (Another problem is that the film was then a product of the Weinstein Co., which collapsed soon after.)
As its subtitle announces, The Current War: Director’s Cut is the not the same movie that nearly succumbed to critical disdain more than two years ago. For those of us who didn’t see the original, ascertaining any improvement is impossible. But the latest version is not bad at all. It’s just sort of odd.
Of the three central characters, only Westinghouse is played by an American, Michael Shannon. As Edison, Benedict Cumberbatch employs an accent that is, well, not British. Nicholas Hoult’s Nikola Tesla speaks in an indeterminate Eastern European mode that can be heard, symbolically at least, as true to his Austro-Serbian-Croatian origins.
The movie doesn’t mention that Tesla had worked for an Edison-affiliated company in Paris before was he encouraged to move to the U.S. In this telling, he’s hired on a whim by the Wizard of Menlo Park, who’s eager to light American cities with his newly perfected bulbs, powered by direct current.
Edison’s nemesis is Westinghouse, who promotes alternating current — cheaper and more versatile but potentially deadly. The two men are competing for the same prize: a contract to illuminate Chicago’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, a full 13 years after the film’s event-packed story begins. Edison wants to win so badly that he’s prepared to electrocute large animals to demonstrate AC’s dangers.
Russian scientists tracking migrating eagles ran out of money after some of the birds flew to Iran and Pakistan and their SMS transmitters drew huge data roaming charges.
After learning of the team’s dilemma, Russian mobile phone operator Megafon offered to cancel the debt and put the project on a special, cheaper tariff.
The team had started crowdfunding on social media to pay off the bills.
The birds left from southern Russia and Kazakhstan.
The journey of one steppe eagle, called Min, was particularly expensive, as it flew to Iran from Kazakhstan.
Min accumulated SMS messages to send during the summer in Kazakhstan, but it was out of range of the mobile network. Unexpectedly the eagle flew straight to Iran, where it sent the huge backlog of messages.
The price per SMS in Kazakhstan was about 15 roubles (18p; 30 US cents), but each SMS from Iran cost 49 roubles. Min used up the entire tracking budget meant for all the eagles.
…The SMS messages deliver the birds’ coordinates as they migrate, and the team then use satellite photos to see if the birds have reached safe locations. Power lines are a particular threat for the steppe eagles, which are endangered in Russia and Central Asia.
Have you ever wondered what a star looks like as it’s ripped apart by a supermassive black hole? Probably not. But thanks to the diligent eyes at NASA and Ohio State University, you don’t have to wonder, you can see it for yourself.
According to local Ohio radio station WOSU, a NASA satellite and a network of robotic telescopes known as the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae — or ASAS-SN for short — located at the university captured the cosmic battle for the first time on film.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mlex, Mike Kennedy,
Martin Morse Wooster, John A Arkansawyer, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cassie B.]
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer has been presented at the Worldcon since 1973, two years after Campbell’s death. The 47th winner was Jeannette Ng. Will there be a 48th? Many are responding to her acceptance remarks with a call to change the name of the award.
Although voting is administered by the Worldcon, the award belongs to Dell Magazines, publisher of Analog. It was named for him because Campbell edited Astounding/Analog for 34 years and in his early years at the helm he introduced Heinlein, Asimov, and many other important sf writers, reigning over what was called by the time of his death the Golden Age of SF. That cemented his legend as a discoverer of talent (regardless that in later years he passed on submissions from any number of talented newcomers incuding Samuel R. Delany and Larry Niven).
Jeannette Ng’s speech was exactly the speech our field needs to hear. And the fact that she devoted the bulk of it to solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters is especially significant, because of the growing importance of Chinese audiences and fandom in sf, which exposes writers to potential career retaliation from an important translation market. There is a group of (excellent, devoted) Chinese fans who have been making noises about a Chinese Worldcon for years, and speeches like Ng’s have to make you wonder: if that ever comes to pass, will she be able to get a visa to attend?
Back when the misogynist/white supremacist wing of SF started to publicly organize to purge the field of the wrong kind of fan and the wrong kind of writer, they were talking about people like Ng. I think that this is ample evidence that she is in exactly the right place, at the right time, saying the right thing.
… When Ng took the mic and told the truth about his legacy, she wasn’t downplaying his importance: she was acknowledging it. Campbell’s odious ideas matter because he was important, a giant in the field who left an enduring mark on it. No one disagrees about that. What we want to talk about today is what that mark is, and what it means.
… You can claim the John W. Campbell Award without revering John W. Campbell, or paying him lip service, and you can criticize him, based on what you see of his track record and your interpretation of it. The award is about the writing, not about John W. Campbell, and that is a solid fact. If a recipient of the Campbell Award can’t do these things, or we want to argue that they shouldn’t, then probably we should have a conversation about whether we should change the name of the award. It wouldn’t be the first time an award in the genre has been materially changed in the fallout of someone calling out the problems with the award’s imagery. The World Fantasy Award was changed in part because Nnedi Okorafor and Sofia Samatar were public (Samatar in her acceptance speech!) about the issue of having a grotesque of blatant racist HP Lovecraft as the trophy for the award. There was a lot of grousing and complaining and whining about political correctness then, too. And yet, the award survives, and the new trophy, for what it’s worth, is gorgeous. So, yes, if this means we have to consider whether it’s time to divorce Campbell from the award, let’s have that discussion.
Now, here’s a real thing: Part of the reaction to Ng’s speech is people being genuinely hurt. There are still people in our community who knew Campbell personally, and many many others one step removed, who idolize and respect the writers Campbell took under his wing. And there are people — and once again I raise my hand — who are in the field because the way Campbell shaped it as a place where they could thrive. Many if not most of these folks know about his flaws, but even so it’s hard to see someone with no allegiance to him, either personally or professionally, point them out both forcefully and unapologetically. They see Campbell and his legacy abstractly, and also as an obstacle to be overcome. That’s deeply uncomfortable.
It’s also a reality. Nearly five decades separate us today from Campbell. It’s impossible for new writers today to have the same relationship to him as their predecessors in the field did, even if the influence he had on the field works to their advantage….
…Ng’s assessment of Campbell is undoubtedly informed by Campbell’s personal politics and beliefs and those who have written about him. Campbell argued that African-Americans were “barbarians” deserving of police brutality during the 1965 Watts Riots, as “the “brutal” actions of police consist of punishing criminal behavior.” His unpublished story All featured such racist elements that author Robert Heinlein, who built upon Campbell’s original story for his own work titled Sixth Column, had to “reslant” the story before publishing it. In the aftermath of the Kent State massacre, when speaking of the demonstrators murdered by the Ohio National Guard, Campbell stated that “I’m not interested in victims. I’m interested in heroes.” While difficult to presume where Campbell’s beliefs would place him in modern politics, it is apparent that Campbell would disagree with many of the beliefs held by modern America.
Ng’s speech unsurprisingly caused backlash and outrage among some members of the literary community, with some claiming that Ng should have withheld from insulting the man whose award she was receiving.
…I was one of the people madly cheering this speech. I posted a meme on Facebook as she was still speaking: “Jeannette Ng is AWESOME!!!!!” Moments later, swept up in the moment, I posted another meme, “I’m just gonna say it: The Name of the John W. Campbell Award SHOULD BE F***KING CHANGED!”
To clamor atop a soapbox for a moment; NO, I am not advocating that the life and work of John W. Campbell, Jr. be scrubbed from history. But neither should we turn a blind, uncritical eye to his transgressions. When the winners of such a prestigious award start getting angry because the person behind it is viewed to be so vile and reprehensible, that ought to be acknowledged as well….
For a brief period a few years ago, my byline was prominently associated with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This was not because I’d ever won such an award, or even appeared on the ballot (I was never a nominee), but rather because I assembled anthologies for the purpose of showcasing new writers during their two-year window of eligibility, as an exercise in public awareness of writing that, despite potential merit, might not have received sufficient reviews to garner an audience among the Worldcon membership at large.
In that context, someone asked me to defend Campbell because of the acceptance speech given by this year’s recipient.
This was an uncomfortable request. The more I’ve learned about Campbell over the years, the more certain I’ve become that I wouldn’t have even wanted to share an elevator with him, much less try to sell him a story… and I say that despite having learned any number of his storytelling and editing techniques by way of hand-me-down tutelage….
Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson was
mainly concerned that Ng’s remarks were bad for the brand – i.e., Ng mistakenly
identified Campbell as an editor of his magazine instead of Astounding/Analog.
…A couple of days ago we watched and updated our post covering the 2019 Hugo Awards; we were a bit surprised at Jeannette Ng’s acceptance where she made some connections between fascism in the SF field, fascism in the US and the events taking place in Hong Kong right now. Hong Kong is Ms. Ng’s home base and we are absolutely and completely in sympathy with her and the protesters who are braving arrest, and possibly worse, as they try to maintain their freedoms.
We entirely missed the misattributions of Ms. Ng’s speech; what she wanted to do was identify John W. Campbell Jr., the editor of Astounding Stories, as a fascist. She ended up naming Jospeph Campbell as the editor of Amazing Stories….
I am sure she is tired, chuffed, overwhelmed and, perhaps even a bit embarrassed over having misnamed Campbell and the magazine he was associated with in front of an audience and a community that knows this history without even thinking about it.
But the internet being what it is, disrespect for facts being what they are these days, I can not allow the idea that John W. Campbell – racist, anti-semite, fascist, misogynist, whatever – was associated with Amazing Stories to go unchallenged….
Ng has issued a correction:
Swedish Fan Ahrvid Engholm today
sent two fannish listservs copies of a complaint he has filed with the Dublin
2019 committee that Ng’s speech violated the convention’s Code of Conduct.
…One may wonder what a Code of Conduct is worth, if it isn’t respected by those who have all eyes upon them on the big stage, during the highlight of a convention, such as the awards ceremonies witnessed by thousands.
I therefore want to report, as a breach of the Code of Conduct during Dublin 2019, the intimidation and personal attacks in Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award speech, of which the very lows are wordings like:
“John W. Campbell…was a fascist” and he was “setting a tone” she claims “haunts” us as “Sterile. Male. White.” glorifying “imperialists” etc.
“Everyone involved with Dublin 2019 is expected to show respect towards…the various communities associated with the convention. …Dublin 2019 is dedicated to provide a harassment-free convention experience for all Attendees regardless of…gender…race…We do not tolerate harassment of convention attendees in any form” /which includes:/ * Comments intended to belittle, offend or cause discomfort”
Most if not all would find being called a “fascist” offending, surely causing discomfort.
And it’s especially deplorable when the person belittled this way has passed away and thus can’t defend himself. It is reported that John W Campbell’s grandson John Campbell Harrmond was present at the convention that branded his grandfather a “fascist”. John W Campbell was the leading sf magazine editor of his era (of Astounding SF, not Amazing Stories as this far from well-founded speech said) and have many admirers who also have cause to feel offended. If you like Campbell, the claim he is a “fascist” surely splashes on you too – you’d be “fascist sympathiser”.
Ms Ng continues to harass whole categories of convention Attendees, those who are “male” and “white”. They are “sterile” and the negative “tone” claimed being “set” in the sf genre. It must be noted that the CoC is explicitly against slurs regarding race and gender. (And in these circumstances “white” indicates race and “male” gender.) The CoC further says it won’t be tolerated “in any form”, which surely must also include the form of a speech from a big stage.
It is too late now do do anything about this regrettable episode, but those making reports are asked to state what they would like to happen next. What I simply want is to get it confirmed that the event reported indeed IS a breach of the CoC, because that could be important for the future.
–Ahrvid Engholm sf con-goer since 1976 (of Worldcons since 1979)
Scott Edelman supported Ng in several comments, describing his deep unhappiness with some of Campbell’s opinions at the time the were originally published 50 years ago. He also quoted this anecdote from the autobiography of William Tenn / Phil Klass:
(1) FANAC.ORG SCANNING STATION AT DUBLIN
2019. Joe Siclari looks forward to digitizing
more zines and photos at the Worldcon —
FANAC.org has scanned and archived over 92,000 pages of fanzines. Next week, our Scanning Station is coming to Dublin. If you are attending the Dublin Worldcon and can brings fanzines appropriate for scanning, we would love to have them. We’ll scan right there on site – we’ll be set-up at a fan table in the Convention Center. Look for our banner.
…But there’s another source of public domain works: until the 1976 Copyright Act, US works were not copyrighted unless they were registered, and then they quickly became public domain unless that registration was renewed….
…Now, Leonard Richardson (previously) has done the magic data-mining work to affirmatively determine which of the 1924-63 books are in the public domain, which turns out to be 80% of those books; what’s more, many of these books have already been scanned by the Hathi Trust (which uses a limitation in copyright to scan university library holdings for use by educational institutions, regardless of copyright status).
“Fun facts” are, sadly, often less than fun. But here’s a genuinely fun fact: most books published in the US before 1964 are in the public domain! Back then, you had to send in a form to get a second 28-year copyright term, and most people didn’t bother.
(3) WHEATON W00TSTOUT. The 2019 pouring of Stone
Farking Wheaton w00tstout is here. Comic artist Alan Davis designed the
label. Will you collect it or drink it?
Over the years, Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout has become one of Stone’s most anticipated annual releases, and not just because it’s an astoundingly flavorful beer concocted as a collaboration between FARK’s Drew Curtis, nerd royalty Wil Wheaton and Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch. It’s the incredible label art adorning this beer over the years that has elevated it to the pinnacle of beer, geekery and beer geekery. “W00tstout is more than a great beer,” said actor, writer and Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout collaborator Wil Wheaton. “It’s a work of art, carefully designed to be as drinkable right now as it will be in a decade. I am so honored and proud to be one of its parents.”
(4) CLARION WEST 2020. Next year’s Clarion West instructors
have been announced:
(5) STRANGERS LIKE
ME. Brian Doherty, in “San
Diego Comic-Con and the Tensions of Market-Induced Growth” on Reason.com, reports from the convention and finds
that despite its huge size lovers of comics and the small press can find a
great deal to satisfy them at the convention. He also interviews
Maryelizabeth Yturvalde of the Mysterious Galaxy sf shop, who says she sold a
great many YA novels to Comic-Con attendees.
…But who are “people like yourself” in the tent of fannish tents? That’s the sticking point. Things can get complicated when you are thrust in a tight space with people whose nerdy obsessions don’t match yours. Smith joked about seeing a bunch of people dressed as Klingons sneering at the lame geeks striding by dressed as stormtroopers.
On one of this year’s historical panels, Barry Short, a longtime SDCC worker and a former comic shop owner, described the vast crowds attracted to the con as a clear victory, the promised land all the lonely geeks of decades gone by had been fighting for. Their culture was no longer mocked and hated! Their tribe had grown beyond imagining! But one detail that he chose to highlight was telling—that it was no longer hard to find T-shirts featuring Marvel superheroes.
That sort of thing would not be any kind of victory to, say, indie cartoonist Mary Fleener, who on a historical panel remembered fondly the days in the 1990s when she and a few fellow independent artists could pool money together for a table that cost less than $400 and profit selling their homemade mini-comix. Her tribe was different than Short’s; they just awkwardly co-existed in the same grounds.
Comics are not just the root of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters; they’re a newly respected part of American literary culture. The artists and writers responsible for that aren’t necessarily obsessed with superhero T-shirts. But even that conclusion was complicated at a SDCC panel starring Chris Ware, author of Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, one of the linchpins of modern literary comics. He admitted, in his self-lacerating sad-sack way, that as a nerdy, scared, hated kid in school, if he found anyone else who shared in any way his tortured love and fascination with crummy Mego toy figures of comics characters, he’d want to hold them close—too close for their comfort.
Comic-Con is filled with people who both seek validation in their manias and mistrust the manias next door, whether those neighboring fandoms seem to bring down the cultural property values or try to make them annoyingly highbrow.
No matter how pollyannaish you want to be about change and growth, more people in an experience makes for a different experience. Such changes may come to the benefit of the newcomers but the detriment of old-timers….
I am delighted to be part of the show and all I am, is a part of the show…I want to make it semi-clear, because I don’t want to make it too clear, that I am not a regular on the show. Data did die at the end of Nemesis. But I am on the show. I do make appearances. Data’s story is a part of the thread of show.”
Apparently the Data-like android is a predecessor called B-4.
Given Spiner’s connections to Area 51 — his Dr. Brakish Okun was in charge of research there in both “Independence Day” and “Independence Day: Resurgence,” its 20-years-later sequel — you can’t let the actor off the phone without asking if he has advice for anyone looking to follow the Facebook phenomenon and storm the secretive military installation to “see them aliens.”
“Well, let me just say, I know this is going to be a huge disappointment to everyone, but if they do this, and they actually get there, I will not be there,” Spiner says, dryly.
“I mean, unless I’m well paid. Then I’ll show up.”
The Korean release of the latest installment of Doraemon, Japan’s biggest anime franchise, has been postponed indefinitely as a trade war between the Asian neighbors continues to escalate.
Doraemon: Nobita’s Chronicle of the Moon Exploration, the 39th feature in the tales of the blue, “cat-type robot” and his human sidekick, schoolboy Nobita, is the latest victim in the Tokyo-Seoul spat.
Last month Butt Detective: The Movie was also caught up in the growing boycott of Japanese goods, services and companies. The film, a spinoff from a children’s book and anime TV series about a detective with a head shaped like a backside, had received maximum scores on South Korean review websites on its release, but got a bum deal after the sites were hit with posts calling for cinemagoers to boycott Japanese films.
…The current row was triggered when Japan announced July 1 that it was placing export restrictions to South Korea on materials used in manufacturing semiconductors, a major Korean industry. Tokyo accused Seoul of breaking sanctions on North Korea, but the move was widely seen as retaliation for a Korean court ruling that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has to pay compensation to Koreans forced to work for the company during World War II….
(8) ROSEN OBIT. Fraggle Rock voice actor Stuart M.
died reports SYFY Wire.
Stuart M. Rosen, a prolific voice actor and creator who helped develop the iconic children’s puppet program Dusty’s Treehouse in the late 1960s and voiced The Storyteller in HBO’s Fraggle Rock, reportedly has passed away from cancer. He was 80 years old.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 5, 1891 — Donald Kerr. Happy Hapgood in 1938’s Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars which might be one of the earliest such films. His only other genre appearances were in the Abbott and Costello films such as Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man in uncredited roles. (Died 1977.)
Born August 5, 1935 — Wanda Ventham, 84. Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch. She’s showed up on during Doctor Who over a number of years playing three different roles (Jean Rock, Thea Ransome/Fendahl Core and Faroon) in three different stories, “The Faceless Ones” over six episodes, Serial: “Image of the Fendahl” over four episodes and “Time and the Rani” over three episodes. That’d mean she appeared with the Fourth and Seventh Doctors. She was also Col. Virginia Lake, a series regular on UFO, during the Seventies.
Born August 5, 1940 — Natalie Trundy,79. First, she was one of the Underdwellers named Albina in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Next, she played Dr. Stephanie Branton, a specialist studying apes from the future who came into our present day in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Then in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, she played the chimp Lisa.
Born August 5, 1947 — Élisabeth Vonarburg, 72. Parisian born, she’s Quebec resident. She was the literary director of the French-Canadian SF magazine Solaris. Her first novel, Le Silence de la Cité, was published in 1981. Since then she’s been a prolific witter of novels and short fiction. In 1993, her website notes sgphecreceived a Prix spécial du Jury Philip K. Dick Award for In the Mothers’ Land. H’h. I’m pleased to say that iBooks is deeply stock in her works but Kindle has nothing at all by her. Her website, in French of course, is here.
Born August 5, 1956 — Robert Frezza, 63. Wrote five SF novels of a space opera-ish nature in five years covering two series, McLendon’s Syndrome and The VMR Theory, and The Small Colonial War series which is A Small Colonial War, Fire in a Faraway Place and Cain’s Land) before disappearing from writing SF twenty years ago.
Born August 5, 1956 — Maureen McCormick, 63. Though better for being Marcia Brady on The Brady Bunch, she has done some genre performances. She was Eve in Snow White: A Deadly Summer and Officer Tyler in Return to Horror High, both decidedly pulpish horror film. A step up in class was her portrayal of the young Endora in two episodes of Bewitched, “And Something Makes Three” and “Trick or Treat”. She shows up in another magical show, I Dream of Jeannie, as Susan in “My Master, the Doctor”. And she was used in six different roles on Fantasy Island.
Born August 5, 1968 — Matt Jones, 51. Started as columnist for Doctor Who Magazine. A decade later, he wrote two of the Tenth Doctor scripts, a two-parter, “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit”, and one for Torchwood, “Dead Man Walking”. He co-authored with Joan Ormond, Time Travel in Popular Media.
Born August 5, 1980 — JoSelle Vanderhooft, 39. Former Green Man reviewer with a single novel so far, Ebenezer, and several collections, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories and Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories. She also co-edited with Steve Berman, Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction.
Born August 5, 1961 — Janet McTeer, 58. Last genre role was as Jessica’s mother, Alisa Jones. in Jessica Jones. She was also Edith Prior in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, and the elderly Princess Aurora who was the narrator in Maleficent.
I set myself two missions at the start of this year – one, to get into the Science Fiction Writers’ Association (SFWA, pronounced Siffwuh) by writing and selling a qualifying short story. And two, to take steps to snag an agent for what I hope will be the next step in my writing career.
Well, missions one accomplished….
(11) A HOIST OF BOOKS. Atlas Obscura reads from
the log of the “Bokbåten”,
a circulating library afloat.
Sweden and its Nordic neighbors are among the world’s most literate countries. These nations boast a range of newspapers and public libraries, as well as provide convenient access to computers and strong educational resources to its residents.
Access to books and resources might be harder to come by for some, though, especially those living on the remote islands of Stockholm’s archipelago—the largest group of islands in Sweden and the second-largest in the Baltic Sea.
To combat this obstacle while continuing its prioritization of literacy, twice a year the Stockholm Library Service rents a boat for a week and brings books to 23 inhabited islands. Each spring and fall, the boat is packed with approximately 3,000 books and sets sail along Stockholm’s eastern seaboard as an aquatic library….
(12) IT’S EERIE. He looks just like a pinker
version of my father when he was young.
My father is in the lower left corner of this holiday card, sent
out in the early days of television.
Meanwhile, John’s having his brain fixed, and the city Administrator comes in to whine about it. He was the one who wanted to disintegrate everybody last episode, if you recall. He doesn’t seem to like anything about the humans. Not their names, which he reckons are absurd (cheek!), not their culture of egalitarianism (though I could dispute that), and not their stupid, ugly faces (pot, kettle!)
If the closing moments of the second season finale of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” hadn’t already made it clear that the show was going to take an even darker turn next season, then creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa did so Sunday by confirming the fiery setting Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) and co. will be entering when the show returns….
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian,
Mike Kennedy, Jon Del Arroz, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) MARY SUE ORIGIN STORY. [Item by Jerry Kaufman.] This
recent article from the London Review of Books
is about fandom, or fandoms as the case may be, the woman who identified the
“Mary Sue”, and her recent writing. (I am the real Jerry Kaufman –
accept no other) – “On
Sophie Collins”. (Registration required to
read full article.)
A ‘Mary Sue’ is an implausibly skilful, attractive or successful protagonist who seems to be a stand-in for the author, especially in fanfiction. The term comes from Paula Smith’s parodic story ‘A Trekkie’s Tale’ (1973), originally published in a mimeographed journal for Star Trek fans. In mocking ‘Mary Sue’, Smith was not attacking fanfiction but trying to bolster its literary quality against fans who used it naively for wish fulfilment. Most of these fans were (like Smith) female. As the term, and the critique, became more common, some fans, and some feminist critics, pushed back. They saw fan communities, and the defiantly unprofessional cultural production that emerged from them, as a kind of safe space, where the rules imposed by a patriarchal outside world about what one can say, and who one can be, could be ignored.
Council Member Fernando Cabrera’s proposal aims to honor Stan Lee’s Bronx roots by co-naming a section of University Avenue between Brandt Place and West 176th Street after the comic book genius.
The city council voted Tuesday to approve the proposal.
… “Stan Lee was a Bronx native who grew up in my district,” said Cabrera. “Stan Lee was a creative genius who co-created iconic super heroes including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Black Panther and more. Mr. Lee’s amazing talent brought joy and entertainment to countless children and adults and he deserves to be permanently memorialized in his home borough, the Bronx.”
(3) BUILDING A STORY WITH MAGIC. Juliette Wade’s new Dive
Into Worldbuilding introduces readers to “Julie
Czerneda and The Gossamer Mage“. View the video interview,
and/or read the summary notes at the link.
…I asked her where the idea for the book started, and she said it started with a pen – and proceeded to show us the pen in question! She brought a lot of cool props to show us, so I encourage you all to check out the video if you’re curious about them.
One of the things that Julie explored while writing this was the history of ink. Battles were fought over areas of the world that provided good ink ingredients, and pirates stole ink as well as other things.
I’ve always found constrained magic systems very interesting, so I asked her to tell us about the magic system she used in The Gossamer Mage. Julie said she agreed with me that she liked constrained systems. She said she liked it when everyone knows how to use the magic, but wait, it’s not so simple. This particular magic system is constrained in part because it requires writing, which means it requires a particular type of scholarship. You have to be able to write words that are not human words, and to intend them. Further, this magic can only be done in the one place in the world where magic remains. One important ingredient here is that magic used to be in more of the world, but is no longer present except in one region, ringed with mountains.
Thus, magic is constrained physically, and it is constrained to scholars….
Rereading A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I believe that an appreciation of poetry is essential for any writer in any field. That economy of language reminds you of the importance of choosing exactly the right word, not the word next to the right one on the shelf. On a conceptual level, I admire Ferlinghetti’s writing which comes at you from a right angle with a huge impact, so I reread his work every couple of years to keep my brain flexible.
And so, drip by drip, crumb by crumb, inch by inch, Straczynski manages to become a writer, and it turns out that not only can he write to deadline, he’s really good at it. Even projects that seem silly or trivial on their face, like writing for He-Man or The Real Ghostbusters, are treated with such intense seriousness that they just kill.
But this being Hollywood, where, famously, nobody knows anything, every success that Straczynski ekes out is eventually scuttled by venality, cowardice, grift, or all three, as greedy execs and bullshit-slinging consultants demand that he compromise on what he knows is right. And Straczynski being Straczynski — being the survivor of a campaign of terror visited upon him by a literal Nazi — refuses to back down, because despite the mountain of shit he’s climbed to get where he is, the prospect of falling down to the bottom is incapable of scaring him beyond his threshold of tolerability.
And, remarkably, despite industry concentration and a thousand variations of “you’ll never work in this town again,” Straczynski continues to work. His story is a beautiful parable about how luck is made: the way it’s told, it seems like Straczynski has a horseshoe up his ass, with opportunities dropping appearing over the horizon just a little faster than the burn-rate of the bridges he’s torched behind him, but when you look a little closer, you realize that the most improbable thing here isn’t the opportunities, but rather Straczynski’s relentless, singleminded determination to seize them, writing (for example) entire seasons of his TV shows when the studios’ dumb mistakes leave them shorthanded.
(6) REVOLUTIONARY DATA. Can you imagine Brent Spiner
playing John Adams in 1776? There’s a concept. He’s the guest on the
latest Maltin on
Forever to be remembered as Lt. Commander Data on Star Trek: the Next Generation and other treks to follow, Brent Spiner is a versatile actor and performer with notable Broadway credits—and two fervent fans in Leonard and Jessie, who saw him play John Adams in a masterful revival of 1776. He’s happy to discuss all facets of his career, from musical theater to his memorable role in Independence Day. Even longtime fans may learn things they didn’t already know about Brent in this delightful chat.
(7) THIS IS COOL. The
earth seen from outer space — here is a visualization of how Planet’s
satellites assemble swatches of remote sensing tiles to complete a global
observation in 24 hours:
In four years, Planet has flown on 18 successful launches and deployed 293 satellites successfully into low Earth orbit. With more than 150 satellites currently in orbit, Planet has the largest constellation of Earth imaging satellites in history.
As you may notice, the satellites are not always taking photos (or sending / “beaming” the data down to Earth). Parts of the landmass can also be missing due to complete cloud cover that day. See the Amazon, Central Africa, or Northern Australia for example.
A companion piece reveals more about the satellites themselves; the “doves”, “RapidEyes”, and “SkySats”. Explaining their sizes, the numbers out there already and the types of images they capture. Check out the story here!
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 26, 1883 — Edwin Balmer. Together with author Philip Wylie, he penned When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide. The first was made into the 1951 movie by George Pal. He also wrote several detective novels and collaborated with William MacHarg on The Achievements of Luther Trant, an early collection of detective short stories. The latter are not genre, despite being listed as ISFDB as I’ve read them. (Died 1959.)
Born July 26, 1894 — Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is fascinating. I knew I had it assigned and sort of discussed in a High School class and at least one Uni class decades ago. So what else is genre by him and worth reading? (Died 1963.)
Born July 26, 1919 — James Lovelock, 99. Just shy of a century now in life, the Gaia theorist wrote a genre novel with Michael Allaby, The Greening of Mars, of the transformation of the red planet into a green one. His newest work, Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, thinks that hyperintelligent machines are coming into being by our own hand and that we better be prepared for their arrival.
Born July 26, 1928 — Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The Shining. Barry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.)
Born July 26, 1945 — M. John Harrison, 74. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at. He’s not published deep in digital form at this time.
Born July 26, 1945 — Helen Mirren, 74. She first graces our presences as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellers’ last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Born July 26, 1957 — Nana Visitor,62. Kira Nerys on Deep Space Nine which for my money is the best of the Trek series to date. After DS9 ended, Visitor had a recurring role as villain Dr. Elizabeth Renfro on Dark Angel. In 1987, Visitor appeared as Ellen Dolan in a never developed series pilot for Will Eisner’s The Spirit with Sam J. Jones as The Spirit.
Born July 26, 1971 — Mary Anne Mohanraj, 48. Writer and editor. Founder of Strange Horizons, a genre fiction magazine. She has one genre novel, The Stars That Change, and two stories published in the Wild Cards Universe, “Low Chicago” and “Ties That Bind”. She also an anthology, Without A Map, co-edited with Nnedi Okorafor.
Born July 26, 1978 — Eve Myles, 41. She’s a a Welsh actress from Ystradgynlais, convenient as she played Gwen Cooper on Torchwood which was set in and shot in Cardiff. She previously played the servant girl Gwyneth in the Doctor Who episode “The Unquiet Dead” during the Ninth Doctor’s time. She and the full Torchwood cast did an an BBC 4 Radio Play called Golden Age in which they time travelled back to Imperial India. Highly recommended.
…Amazon’s new 8-episode series The Boys – about a team of non-powered mercenaries determined to take down the world’s premier team of evil, corrupt, soulless-corporate-shill superheroes – chooses to play in a sandbox that’s seen its share of use. A sandbox that’s been sitting out in the sun and rain and wind for decades, filling up with cigarette butts and cat poop and old toys left by previous storytellers, who’ve hit precisely the same themes.
This is even more true today than it was in 2006, when the comics series The Boys, by writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson – from which the Amazon show has been adapted, freely – first debuted.
…What The Boys was, at the time — especially if you’d been reading comics for years — was tiresome, more than anything else: Really? We’re still doing … this?
I’m happy to report that the Amazon series improves on its source material. It does so by taking the comics’ lazy inciting incident – the accidental death-by-superhero of the girlfriend of its main character Hughie (Jack Quaid) – and treating it as something more than solely a plot trigger. The series gives Hughie time to absorb, to grieve, to soak in the brutal incident so – even though it is depicted, lovingly, in garish slow-motion – it becomes something more than another nihilistic gag.
That’s a hallmark of the show, as it turns out. Where the comic was content to steer headlong into bloody spectacle and smugly snicker, the show serves up the spectacle (on a budget) and then … takes the time to inspect it, examine it, unpack it. To legitimately honor it, in other words. In its way.
(10) NEW TENANT IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Zombieland: Double
Tap comes to theaters October 18.
A decade after Zombieland became a hit film and a cult classic, the lead cast (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone) have reunited with director Ruben Fleischer (Venom) and the original writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (Deadpool) for Zombieland 2: Double Tap. In the sequel, written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham, through comic mayhem that stretches from the White House and through the heartland, these four slayers must face off against the many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family.
Although wackiness levels vary from video to video, the run times are all wisely kept brief. The only things that run longer than the time it takes to decide between regular avocados and organic ones are the cooking tutorials. Everything else—including charm-infused shorts like Christmas in Germany, produced by Condé Nast Traveler, which mixes traditional animation with stop-motion footage of Pfeffernüsse cookies and other German delicacies—runs at around the one-minute mark, making for a thoroughly undemanding watch.
This one’s very stfnal –
While this one’s just plain funky –
(12) NASFIC/WESTERCON IN UTAH. Rodford Edmiston has posted an
of photos from Spikecon at Flickr. Whether
intentionally or not, the photographer showed a genius for standing at the back
of a hall in which the only people were in the front row and on the platform.
STEPHAN PASTIS is the creator of the daily comic strip Pearls Before Swine, syndicated by Andrews McMeel Syndication. Stephan practiced law in the San Fransisco Bay area before following his love of cartooning and eventually seeing syndication with Pearls, which was launched in newspapers beginning December 31, 2001. The National Cartoonists Society awarded Pearls Before Swine the Best Newspaper Comic Strip in 2003 and in 2006. Stephan is also the author of the children’s book series Timmy Failure. Stephan lives in northern California with his wife Staci and their two children.
Covered up by a secretive Soviet Union at the time, the true number of deaths and illnesses caused by the nuclear accident are only now becoming clear.
Springtime was always the busiest time of year for the women working at the wool processing plant in Chernihiv, northern Ukraine. More than 21,000 tons of wool passed through the factory from farms all across the country during the annual sheep shearing period. The April and May of 1986 were no exception.
The workers pulled 12-hour shifts as they sorted the piles of raw fleece by hand before they were washed and baled. But then the women started getting sick.
Some suffered nosebleeds, others complained of dizziness and nausea. When the authorities were called to investigate, they found radiation levels in the factory of up to 180mSv/hr. Anyone exposed at these levels would exceed the total annual dose considered to be safe in many parts of the world today in less than a minute.
Fifty miles away was the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On 26 April 1986 reactor number four at the power plant suffered a catastrophic explosion that exposed the core and threw clouds of radioactive material over the surrounding area as a fire burned uncontrollably.
But Chernihiv was regarded to be well outside the exclusion zone that was hastily thrown up around the stricken plant and readings elsewhere in the town had shown it to have comparatively low levels of radiation.
…Had Hauer played Batty as another stone-faced Eurobaddie, “Blade Runner” itself might have been a more comfortably classifiable genre effort, the kind of movie that many viewers expected in 1982, the kind that promised to pit Ford, the star so familiar to us as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, against a new kind of futuristic nemesis. Instead, audiences were thrown off by the knotty neo-noir that Scott and the screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples delivered, the film flopped, and a cult masterpiece was born.
Look no further than Batty’s extended final battle with Deckard to see both the evidence of the movie’s idiosyncratic tone and how Hauer’s remarkable performance enhances it, practically deconstructing the simple plot before our eyes. The replicant chases the beleaguered, frightened Deckard around an abandoned building, toying with the cop and playing singsong children’s games. But there’s still a catch in Batty’s words, slight pauses scattered in unusual places. Seeing that Deckard has killed his replicant lover, Pris (Daryl Hannah), Batty offers, “I thought you were good. Aren’t you the … good man?” The awkwardness of the words, combined with the pause before “good man” seems to question the film’s very moral universe…
(16) X MARKS THE PLOT. ScreenRant fires up another Pitch
Meeting – this one for Dark Phoenix.
The X-Men franchise has been running for nearly two decades, and it all culminates with Dark Phoenix, a storyline that the movies already covered in 2006. Once again, Jean Grey goes absolutely bonkers with power, but this time Wolverine isn’t around to stab her. The movie has a pretty awful score on Rotten Tomatoes and definitely raises a lot of questions. Like what’s the deal with the aliens, are they bulletproof or not? Why was Quicksilver dismissed from the movie so quickly? What was up with that Phoenix moment in X-Men Apocalypse? Why do these movies keep jumping forward a decade each time? Is Magneto supposed to be 62 years old, and if so, why is a 42-year-old with no make-up playing him? Why did they show Mystique dying in the trailer?
[Thanks to Jerry Kaufman, Juliette Wade, John Hertz, Chip
Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, mlex, John King
Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories.
Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) MCINTYRE TRIBUTE BOOK
PLANNED. At CaringBridge, Jeanne
Gomoll invites people to participate in a “Vonda
Stephanie Ann Smith and I are collecting memories of Vonda from folks who loved Vonda. We plan to collect the material into a book and would like to see it made available both as a free electronic document and as a print-on-demand physical book. We are looking for stories, poems, artwork, photos, tributes, ANYTHING you would like to contribute. Please send them to me at email@example.com or 2825 Union Street, Madison, WI 53704. I will keep you up-to-date on the publication here. Thank you!
In allowing for the nomination of AO3, the Hugo Awards are broadening what it means to contribute to the experience of fiction. This process, they have recognized, goes beyond interacting with a work of fiction as it is — it also encompasses interacting with what the work might be. The imaginations and creativity of fans also contribute to the story of that original story. Talking about art by working within it is not particularly different from talking about art from a remote perspective.
As any fanfiction writer will tell you, transformative works are constantly in dialogue with the original piece. That dialogue may take the form of a Coffee Shop AU rather than an essay, but it is equally as involved in the work of commentary and reflection. Far beyond the academic or critical space, fanfiction probes and challenges original works, bolstering themes and reworking flaws.
As a thing in itself, AO3 is a monumental achievement and a huge expression of fan activity. It’s this last aspect that I think makes it a good fit for the Hugo Awards which are themselves derived from a similar drive of fannish self-organisation and expression.
The cultural narrative that’s built around films starring DC Comics superheroes over the course of the past decade or so reads thusly: DC films are too dark and dour, and the company should take a cue from Marvel, whose films always leave room for the fun and whimsical elements so crucial to the superhero genre.
It’s a gross oversimplification, but there’s no denying the kryptonite-hard nugget of truth there: Years ago, Warners/DC executives looked at the runaway success of Christopher Nolan’s dark and dour The Dark Knight trilogy, and concluded that they’d cracked how to approach the superhero genre, once and for all.
…It would be easy to say that the latest DC superhero outing, Shazam!, represents DC/Warners finally learning how to pivot, how to come at a given hero in the mode that suits them best. It’s certainly true that the film’s stuffed to its gills with goofy gags and clever winks, and that the film’s resident good guy (his name’s “Shazam!” in the credits, but in the movie’s reality, it’s more an open-question kind of deal) is a puffed-up, square-jawed galoot in a tomato-red getup played by Zachary Levi. But it also frequently stops dead in its tracks to dutifully attend to more familiar, straight-ahead genre business…..
I know you write at a lot of different story lengths. Do you have a particular preference nowadays, and has that changed any over time?
I have less of a preference than I used to. For a long time, my natural length was flash, so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to write things longer—adding threads, having more characters, sometimes playing with the structure to force myself to draw out the story more.
The two projects I’m currently working on are relatively longer lengths—I’m currently finishing up a trio of inter-related short stories (which in some ways is like a novelette in three parts), and when that’s done I have a novella that I drafted last year and need to go back and revise.
I’ve seen comparisons to Starship Troopers–how do you feel that, for positive and negative, the novel has influenced this novel and other stories and novels of your work?
It’s more like the film than the book! In book form, I’d say it more closely resembles The Forever War in tone and approach, but really The Light Brigade is its own beast. I loved a lot about the film adaptation of Starship Troopers; it didn’t take itself too seriously while also being very serious. You can say important things about war, fascism, freedom, corporal punishment, and conscription while telling an exciting story. People who live in dystopias don’t always believe they’re living in one, especially when they’re young. They’re raised to believe it’s the only sane and rational way to be.
Vonda N McIntyre, who has died aged 70, was foremost among a legion of new female science-fiction authors in the early 1970s inspired by humanist writers such as Ursula K Le Guin, Joanna Russ and Samuel Delany. With Dreamsnake (1978), she became only the second woman to win the Nebula award and the third to win the Hugo award for best novel.
Masquerade, Hall Costuming Awards, and Cosplay are just the tip of the iceberg – meet Kitty Krell, cosplay Guest of Honor for Westercon 72. A wonderful Corset and Costume maker, cosplay advocate, artist and Kitty will be here in July!
(8) CAMPBELL HOLDING FORTH.
On Fanac.org’s YouTube channel,
hear Fred Lerner’s 1962 radio interview with John W. Campbell, Jr. I
corresponded with Campbell but never met him, so this was a new experience for
John W. Campbell and his views on science fiction are showcased in this intriguing audio interview (presented with illustrative pictures) from 1962. Fred Lerner, noted librarian, bibliographer and historian, was just 17 when he interviewed John W. Campbell, the man that shaped much of science fiction for decades. Campbell was both a successful author and the long time editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later Analog). Topics discussed include Rudyard Kipling as a science fiction writer, the government’s interest in Cleve Cartmill’s fiction, and the nature and value of science fiction. If you like Golden Age science fiction, this is an opportunity to hear one of the giants of the field in his own voice
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 4, 1902 — Stanley G. Weinbaum. His first story, “A Martian Odyssey”, was published to general accolades in July 1934, but he died from lung cancer less than a year-and-a-half later. ISFDB lists two novels, The New Adam and The Dark Other, plus several handfuls of short stories that I assume were out for consideration with various editors at the time of his death. (Died 1935.)
Born April 4, 1932 — Anthony Perkins. Without doubt, he’s best known for playing Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and its three sequels. Three sequels?!? One sec.. H’h, I missed the third one in the Nineties. Genre wise, I don’t see a lot otherwise by him though he was in The Black Hole as Dr. Alex Durant and was in Daughter of Darkness as Prince Constantine. (Died 1992)
Born April 4, 1948 — Dan Simmons, 71. He’s the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read some of the Hyperion Cantos but I’ll be damned if I remember it clearly now.
Born April 4, 1952 — Cherie Lunghi, 66. Her fame arise from her role as Guinevere in Excalibur. (I saw Excalibur in a 1920s theater on a warm summer night with hardly anyone there. Those there were very impressed by it.) She was also Baroness Frankenstien (Victor’s Mother) in Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She was also in The Lady’s Not for Burning as Jennet Jourdemayne.
Born April 4, 1954 — Bruce Sterling, 65. Islands in the Net is I think is his finest work as it’s where his characters are best developed and the near future setting is quietly impressive. Admittedly I’m also fond of The Difference Engine which he co-wrote with Gibson which is neither of these things.
Born April 4, 1958 — Phil Morris, 61. His first acting role was on the “Miri” episode of Trek as simply Boy. He was the Sam the Kid on several episodes of Mr. Merlin before returning to Trek fold as Trainee Foster in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Next interesting role is voicing Vandal Savage on a three-part Justice League Unlimited story called “The Savage Time”, a role he reprised for Justice League: Doom. No, I’ve not forgotten that he was on Mission: Impossible as Grant Collier. He also played the Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) on Smallvillie. Currently He’s Silas Stone on Doom Patrol and no, I didn’t spot that was him in that role.
Born April 4, 1960 — Hugo Weaving, 59. He is known for playing Agent Smith in The Matrix franchise, Elrond in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, V in V for Vendetta and Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. He also voiced Megatron in the first three films of Transformers franchise.
Born April 4, 1965 — Robert Downey Jr., 54. Iron Man in the Marvel Universe film franchise. Also a rather brilliant Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Also voicing James Barris in an animated adaption of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. Charmingly enough, he’s playing the title role in the ‘20 release of The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle.
Born April 4, 1967 — Xenia Seeberg, 52. She is perhaps best known for her role as Xev BeLexx in Lexx, a show’s that’s fantastic provided you can see in its uncensored form. I’ve also see her playing Muireann In Annihilation Earth, Noel in So, You’ve Downloaded a Demon, uncredited role in Lord of The Undead, and Sela In the “Assessment” episode of Total Recall 2070.
Born April 4, 1968 — Gemma Files, 51. She’s a Canadian horror writer, journalist, and film critic. Her Hexslinger series now at three novels and a handful of stories is quite fun. It’s worth noting that she’s a prolific short story writer and four of them have been adapted as scripts for The Hunger horror series.
My students were fortunate enough to collaborate with some of the best scholars around: Charlie Starr, Mike Glyer, Scott Key, and Sørina Higgins took an active role and read draft chapters and gave advice. It was wonderful to see these undergraduates joining the scholarly conversation. Did you order your copy?
(11) STAR POWER. The manicurist didn’t get the story quite
right, but look how MRK celebrated her Hugo nomination:
Thirteen years after it was released, Guillermo del Toro is fleshing out his iconic film ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ with a novel titled ‘Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun.’ In its pages, you will find the full tale from the movie which was co-written with Cornelia Funke
(13) THE MAGIC GOES AWAY. Microsoft
is getting out of ebook selling – and the books its customers bought will be
going away too: “Books
in Microsoft Store: FAQ”.
The books category is closing
Starting April 2, 2019, the books category in Microsoft Store will be closing. Unfortunately, this means that starting July 2019 your ebooks will no longer be available to read, but you’ll get a full refund for all book purchases. See below for details.
While you can no longer purchase or acquire additional books from the Microsoft Store, you can continue to read your books until July 2019 when refunds will be processed.
…But just think about that for a moment. Isn’t it strange? If you’re a Microsoft customer, you paid for those books. They’re yours.
Except, I’m afraid, they’re not, and they never were – when you hand over money for your “book”, what you’re really paying for is access to the book. That access, per the terms and conditions of every major eBook store, can be taken away at any moment.
…People sometimes treat me like my decision not to sell my books through Amazon’s Audible is irrational (Audible will not let writers or publisher opt to sell their books without DRM), but if you think Amazon is immune to this kind of shenanigans, you are sadly mistaken. My books matter a lot to me. I just paid $8,000 to have a container full of books shipped from a storage locker in the UK to our home in LA so I can be closer to them. The idea that the books I buy can be relegated to some kind of fucking software license is the most grotesque and awful thing I can imagine: if the publishing industry deliberately set out to destroy any sense of intrinsic, civilization-supporting value in literary works, they could not have done a better job.
Scramble across exposed rocks in the middle of Antarctica and it’s possible to find the mummified twigs of shrubs that grew on the continent some three to five million years ago.
This plant material isn’t much to look at, but scientists say it should serve as a warning to the world about where climate change could take us if carbon emissions go unchecked.
The time period is an epoch geologists call the Pliocene, 2.6-5.3 million years ago.
It was marked by temperatures that were significantly warmer than today, perhaps by 2-3 degrees globally.
These were conditions that permitted plant growth even in the middle of the White Continent.
(16) SEE SPOT
RUN. For the first time, scientists
studying Neptune have been able to track the blossoming of a ‘Great Dark Spot’
— an enormous, whirling storm in the planet’s atmosphere. The
academic paper is a tad dry, so here’s a snap the Hubble
JJ, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Carl Slaughter, Harold
Osler, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Paul Weimer, Andrew
Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
(1) MCINTYRE. CaringBridge readers received a
saddening update about Vonda McIntyre’s status:
Vonda has been told she has somewhere between two weeks and two months. She’s doing well enough right now that she will probably last longer than the short end of this estimate but we aren’t seeing much cause for hope she might exceed the long end.
She has signed up with hospice. The people who have come out this past week all seem smart and kind, and Vonda is pleased with them.
Vonda is, on the whole, fairly comfortable. She gets some pain before her scheduled paracentesis sessions, but she says it isn’t bad and goes away as soon as she gets the procedure. She’s weak, moves slowly, and sleeps a lot. However, she’s alert and engaged when she is awake, and has been enjoying visits from various people. She doesn’t eat much, but is still enjoying food and has no nausea issues.
Emotionally, I find her to be in astonishingly good shape. She’s still grieving the loss of Ursula and her sister, Carolyn, but she says she’s not especially upset about her own situation. She is focused on getting some things down, many of which are fun for her. This stuff could hit harder later but for now she seems calm and accepting.
Frank Catalano sent the link with a note: “Vonda was generous to me when I moved to the Seattle
area in the 1980s and I took on the task of administering SFWA’s Nebula Awards.
She and I and a small crew of volunteers stuffed and stamped numerous Nebula
Awards Reports in my Queen Anne apartment. I consider her a friend and she has
also encouraged my writing.”
(2) MONSTER MASH. A new trailer for Godzilla:
King of the Monsters has dropped. The move arrives in theaters May 31
Following the global success of “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse, an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.
I’ve watched eight episodes (out of eighteen) of Netflix’s “Adult” anthology series based on contemporary SF short stories. It’s ‘Adult’ in the sense of stereotypes of adolescent male interests which means many episodes with gore and most episodes with CGI boobs. There are some good pieces but they are ones that differ sharply from the general aesthetic.
I’ve spent a career working in tech as a software engineer. And I believe regulated markets are the best way to build and deliver innovative products. That might sound counterintuitive. But increasingly, the largest players in the game aren’t playing by the same rules. Instead, they’re using their power to bully or buy out the competition.
That’s why I was thrilled last week when Senator Elizabeth Warren put forward a bold plan to break up the largest tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon. Many parts of the plan are strong and have widespread support by industry experts, such as breaking up Facebook and Instagram. Other parts inadvertently jeopardize privacy and increase consumer risk of malware and spyware. Overall, it’s a strong start to an antitrust conversation that is long overdue.
(5) WOLFE’S SERVICE
RECOGNIZED. Last week at the International
Association for the Fantastic in the Arts conference, Gary K. Wolfe received the Robert A. Collins Service Award,
“presented to an officer, board member, or division head for outstanding
service to the organization.” [Via Locus
(6) IMPATIENTS. In “Cory
Doctorow’s Radicalized and Audience Awareness”, Joseph Hurtgen urges us
all to “Put Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized on
your reading list. It’s a short and powerful meditation on the power of the
internet to radicalize suffering individuals, the broken healthcare system in
the US, the exploitation of the poor in America, and the broken judicial system
in the US.”
…Doctorow considers a slightly different kind of mass murdering, one with a political agenda. The terrorists in Doctorow’s world kill to force the US to fix the broken healthcare system. In the 21st century, our situation is that experimental treatment for cancer is available to those that can write a seven-figure check. But for the rest of us, no matter how much we’ve paid into the system, death is still the only cure.
(7) HOLDING FORTH. YouTube has video of Isaac
Asimov on The David Letterman Show,
October 21, 1980
(8) ELLEN VARTANOFF OBIT. Ellen Vartanoff (1951-2019) died March 17
reports her brother-in-law, Scott Edelman.
Ellen Vartanoff was a fan, a collector, creator, artist, teacher, mentor and so much more to countless friends and admirers. Condolences to Irene, Scott, and all of Ellen’s family. I will always carry with me the last time I saw Ellen.
“I’ve been in love with cartoons since I was 7 years old,” says Vartanoff, 46, who financed her early comic book purchases by collecting returnable soft drink bottles, which brought her 2 cents each. “That amount was more meaningful back when comics cost a dime. My sister and I have been collecting comics since 1957 and began collecting original cartoon art in the 1960s, way before it became a popular thing to do.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 18, 1926 — Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian filmed Mission Impossible which if you’ve not seen it, you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010)
Born March 18, 1932 — John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. He wrote a number of other genre-friendly novels including The Centaur, Brazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
Born March 18, 1947 — Drew Struzan, 72. Artist known for his more than a hundred and fifty movie posters which include films in Back to the Future, the Indiana Jones, and Star Wars film franchises. In addition, he designed the original Industrial Light & Magic logo for Lucas. My favorite posters? Back to the Future, The Goonies and The Dark Crystal.
Born March 18, 1950 — J. G. Hertzler, 69. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on QuantumLeap as Weathers Farrington in the “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in Zorro, Highlander, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Charmed, Roswell and Enterprise series; for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of Satan, Treasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2, The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Born March 18, 1959 — Luc Besson, 60. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and reviews leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
Born March 18, 1960 — Richard Biggs. He appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast, Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical Worldof Disney. (Died 2004.)
Born March 18, 1961 – James Davis Nicoll, 58. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group read prior to Eighties SF and fantasy, and Nicoll and his collaborators comment on the their reactions.
Born March 18, 1989 — Lily Collins, 30. First genre role was in cyberpunk horror film Priest as Lucy Pace. She next shows up in Mirror Mirror before being Clary Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I did read the first three or four novels in the series. Recommended them wholeheartedly, no idea how the film is. She’s Edith Tolkien in the Tolkien filmnow in post-production.
(10) STAY TUNED FOR VERSE. John
A Arkansawyer sent a note with this link to his sff poem: “Shameless
self-promotion for something which will not win the Rhysling But I’m pleased to
have written it in the last fifteen minutes.” — “The Synoptic Bump in
“Warrior”, by Gordon R. Dickson”.
Jason Wilkins roused himself out of his dough-and-flour-addled stupor, and gazed at the ringing noise emanating from the receiver….
And if you scroll down to item #24 you’ll find Chapter 2 of Weber’s
epic “In Ovens Baked.”
Pizza Delivery Person Third Class Alonzo Gomez smoothly turned his control wheel counterclockwise, with the skill of a man who’d practiced this maneuver for years. In the sealed chamber in front of his feet, a gear at the end of the wheel’s shaft pushed the rack-and-pinion assembly to one side, changing the angle of the vehicle’s front wheels. Now, driven onward relentlessly by the vehicle’s momentum, the tires bit into the road surface obliquely, forcing the vehicle’s nose to port and carrying the entire vehicle with them on its new course. Alonzo and his vehicle thereby rounded the corner, taking them off of Elm street and onto 5th Avenue….
(This reminds me of the time I watched a visiting clergyman doing
a sendup of “Pastor Jack telling the congregation the church is on fire.” He
had everyone in hysterics, with the assistant pastor waving his handkerchief in
In 1964, Austrian journalist Gerhard Pistor walked into a Vienna travel agency with a simple proposition. He’d like to fly to the moon, and if possible, he’d like to fly there on Pan Am.
The travel agency, presumably dumbfounded by this request, decided to simply do its job and make the ask: It forwarded the impossible request to the airline, the legend goes, where it attracted the attention of Juan Trippe, the notoriously brash and publicity-thirsty CEO of Pan American World Airways, the world’s most popular airline. Trippe saw a golden opportunity, and the bizarre request gave birth to a brilliant sales ploy that cashed in on the growing international obsession with human spaceflight: Pan Am was going to launch commercially operated passenger flights to the moon. Or, at least, that’s what it was going to tell everyone.
In hindsight, it’s beyond ludicrous. NASA wouldn’t land men on the moon for five more years; the promise of lunar getaways on a jetliner sounds like a marketing scam at worst, and the most preposterous extension of 1960s techno-optimism at best. And yet, in a striking parallel to today’s commercial space race, would-be customers put down their names on a waiting list for their chance to go to space, joining Pan Am’s “First Moon Flights” Club.
If history is a guide, then Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin should be cautious. Pan Am dissolved in 1991 without ever getting close to launching a spacecraft. Even when it promised the moon and the stars, the airline was far closer to financial oblivion than it was to the cosmos.
A huge fireball exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere in December, according to Nasa.
The blast was the second largest of its kind in 30 years, and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia six years ago.
But it went largely unnoticed until now because it blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
The space rock exploded with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at Nasa, told BBC News a fireball this big is only expected about two or three times every 100 years.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Disney–The Art of Animation”
on YouTube, Kaptain Kristian provides the 15 principles of animation that have
ensured Disney’s continued excellence in animation for over 80 years.
Bill, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]
Riding the high of a Critics’ Choice Award win for best comedy, Michelle Yeoh has further reason to celebrate Monday.
CBS All Access has officially tapped Yeoh to captain a Star Trek series of her own: a black ops-themed spinoff of Discovery in which the actress will reprise her role and explore the next chapter in the life of Capt. Philippa Georgiou. The untitled drama will further explore Starfleet’s Section 31 division, a shadow organization within the Federation featured on Star Trek: Discovery.
[…] “Michelle has shattered ceilings, broken boundaries and astonished us with her grace and gravitas for decades. As a human, I adore her. As an actor, I revere her,” [producer Alex] Kurtzman said. “Erika [Lippoldt] and [Bo Yeon Kim] are remarkable, exciting writers who bring a fresh perspective to the world of Star Trek, and we’re all thrilled to explore the next wild chapter in the life of Captain Philippa Georgiou.”
A suspected arson attack, allegedly carried out by an “obsessed stalker”, has torched seven cars in the parking lot of a hotel where Anime Los Angeles attendees have been staying over the weekend.
The incident took place early on Sunday morning, just before 2am. The night manager of the Azure Hotel & Suites in Ontario, California told ABC News that surveillance footage “showed a man walk up to the main vehicle, pour two cans of gasoline all over it and then [flick] a match on it”.
That car belonged to cosplayer Julia Moreno Jenkins, who says her vehicle was “targeted and set on fire by an obsessed stalker”. Once it was in flames, the fire then spread to nearby cars. As a precaution, the hotel was evacuated….
(4) FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY. Neil
Clarke unveiled Mack Sztaba’s cover and the table of contents for his The
Eagle Has Landed collection, to be released in July.
On July 20, 1969, mankind made what had only years earlier seemed like an impossible leap forward: when Apollo 11 became the first manned mission to land on the moon, and Neil Armstrong the first person to step foot on the lunar surface.
…The Eagle Has Landed collects the best stories written in the fifty years since mankind first stepped foot on the lunar surface, serving as a shining reminder that the moon is and always has been our most visible and constant example of all the infinite possibility of the wider universe.
Table of Contents
Bagatelle by John Varley
The Eve of the Last Apollo by Carter Scholz
The Lunatics by Kim Stanley Robinson
Griffin’s Egg by Michael Swanwick
A Walk in the Sun by Geoffrey A. Landis
Waging Good by Robert Reed
How We Lost the Moon by Paul McAuley
People Came From Earth by Stephen Baxter
Ashes and Tombstones by Brian Stableford
Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl’s by Adam Troy Castro
Stories for Men by John Kessel
The Clear Blue Seas of Luna by Gregory Benford
You Will Go to the Moon by William Preston
SeniorSource by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Economy of Vacuum by Sarah Thomas
The Cassandra Project by Jack McDevitt
Fly Me to the Moon by Marianne J. Dyson
Tyche and the Ants by Hannu Rajaniemi
The Moon Belongs to Everyone by Michael Alexander and K.C. Ball
The Fifth Dragon by Ian McDonald
Let Baser Things Devise by Berrien C. Henderson
The Moon is Not a Battlefield by Indrapramit Das
Every Hour of Light and Dark by Nancy Kress
In Event of Moon Disaster by Rich Larson
(5) FANHISTORY. Steven H Silver reminisces about “The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Lou Tabakow” at Black Gate, a long resume of the conventions he founded. I’d also like to mention what impressed me about Lou Tabakow. By the time I encountered him in the mid-1970s yes, he was a vaunted fanpolitician and Secret Master of Fandom, yet he was always interested in how to bring more people into fandom and share what was going on. That not as common a trait as you’d expect among fans.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
January 14, 1959 — Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
January 14, 2005 — The first probe to land on Saturn’s moon, Titan, signaled it survived its descent. The Huygens space probe was designed to last only minutes on Titan’s surface, but surpassed the expectations of mission managers. Huygens descended the atmosphere, contacted the surface, and transmitted for at least an hour and a half.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 14, 1921 – Kenneth Bulmer. Oh my god. I couldn’t possibly summarise him if I tried. Looking through his list of writing that I know that I have read some Astor New Writings in SF and I reasonably sure that those Antares novels sound awfully familiar. So what have y’all read of him? (Died 2005.)
Born January 14, 1949 – Lawrence Kasdan, 70. Screenwriter, director and producer. He is best known as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark (one of my favorite films of all time), Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Solo: A Star Wars Story. He directed SF horror film Dreamcatcher which was based on a novel by Stephen King and by a William Goldman screenplay.
Born January 14, 1962 – Jemma Redgrave, 57. Her her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who.
Born January 14, 1964 – Mark Addy, 55. He got a long history in genre films showing up first as Mac MacArthur in Jack Frost followed by by the lead in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (why did anyone make this?), Roland in A Knight’s Tale (now that’s a film), Friar Tuck In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (has anyone seen this?) and voicing Clyde the Horse in the just released Mary Poppins Returns. Television work includes Robert Baratheon on Game of Thornes, Paltraki on a episode on Doctor Who, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, and he was Hercules on a UK series called Atlantis.
Born January 14, 1974 – Kevin Durand, 45. Jason Woodrue In the forthcoming live Swamp Thing series on the DC Universe service (that’s me jumping up and down!). Previous genre roles include as The Blob in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Little John In Robin Hood, Mogadorian Commander In I am Number Four, Ricky in Real Steel, Emil Pangborn In The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Cesar Tan In Winter’s Tale
Born January 14, 1990 – Grant Gustin, 29. Actor, known as The Flash in the Arrowverse. I’ve got him as a boyfriend on an episode of A Haunting, one of those ghost hunter shows early in his career. Later on, well that’s it as Arrowverse has kept him rather busy.
(9) IS HOMER IN THE MCU
NOW? Thanos paid a visit to The Simpsons with
predictable—yet unpredictable—results (Inverse: “Only One ‘Simpsons’ Character
Survived Thanos on Sunday”). The Big Guy added a new “stone” to his
gauntlet and used it to lay low most of the Simpson family in the introduction
to the episode.
In the “couch gag” for the Sunday premiere of Season 30, Episode 12 of The Simpsons, Jim Starlin’s Thanos occupies the Simpsons family couch and uses his Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out most the Simpsons family.
…The rules for inclusion were simple–just: (a) meet the eligibility criteria; and (b) be “award worthy” (i.e. good). Given the subjectivity of the latter, it should come as no surprise that the selections on our longlist reflect the spectrum of tastes, tendencies and predilections found among our group of writers. You’ll find selections ranging from the obscure and literary to the unabashedly popular and commercial, and from all corners and subdivisions of the genresphere.
That said, this is not nor intends to be a comprehensive survey of the field. Some books that are undoubtedly “award worthy,” for example, are absent for the simple reason that we haven’t read them yet. Thus we encourage you to think of this as a list of candidates to consider–alongside others….
…Back in the early 20th century long before environmental changes imminently threatened the state’s natural resources, Louisiana still needed more industry. So businessmen like EA McIlhenny (of the Tabasco family, yes) had an idea. Argentina has this abundance of these large, furry creatures called nutria, what if we acquired some?
The concept seemed solid: raise ‘em on a fur farm, skin ‘em for the pelts, and then export hats, jackets, and other fine furs to make a pretty penny. And for a long time, the scheme worked—even Sophia Loren once wore nutria, and the industry for Louisiana trappers peaked around $15 million in annual revenue. But as animal rights became more of a mainstream concept, the popularity of fur drastically decreased. Suddenly, folks in Southern Louisiana didn’t have the same motivation, and nutria quietly built out a larger population within their new habitat.
This, to put it lightly, had consequences. In the ’70s and ’80s when the fur game started drying up, Rodents of Unusual Size estimates 25 million invasive nutria occupied Southern Louisiana. Unfortunately, the rats tend to devastate their immediate environment, eating anything green in sight and uprooting plants in the process, which makes a plot of land more at risk to the natural forces of coastal erosion….
So I might have missed when this latest issue of Anathema dropped on the last day of the year. My apologies! I’m super glad I caught it, though, because it’s an amazing bunch of stories, featuring six different works that explore grief, loss, and a palpable powerlessness. The characters are dealing with things that cannot be changed (or that seem like they cannot be changed) and finding out what they can do about it. That sometimes means learning how to accept things and try to move on, though that’s complicated by grief, by pain, and by the fear of losing more. It’s an emotional and often devastating read, and I’ll get right to those reviews!
After dystopic turns in the Divergent and Maze Runner franchises, the 33-year-old actress was most recently seen in Bird Box,Netflix’s foray into the end times. While the movie has since reached hit status (more than 45 million views in its first week, according to the streamer), she was hesitant to sign on.
“I felt like I had been there and done that,” she explains. But Bird Box was an opportunity to work with some of her “idols,” like star Sandra Bullock, and Salazar ultimately joined after director Susanne Bier offered to add more of a backstory for her character, who was not in the original Josh Malerman novel.
(14) A STORY ABOUT RAY
BRADBURY. Mr. Sci-Fi shares a story Ray Bradbury told him
personally — about the time he met Laurel and Hardy. And Space Command is off
to London to meet with Netflix!
Ahold Delhaize USA plans to deploy robots to nearly 500 Giant Food Stores, Martin’s and Stop & Shop locations to help improve in-store efficiencies and safety.
The company’s Retail Business Services (RBS) arm said Monday that the rollout, slated to continue through the early part of 2019, comes after successful store pilots of the technology. The initiative stems from a partnership between RBS and retail automation and robotics provider Badger Technologies, a division of Jabil.
Named “Marty,” the robots are being used to flag hazards — such as liquid, powder and bulk food-item spills — and report when corrective action is needed. RBS said the robots help stores reduce the risk caused by such spills, freeing up store associates to spend more time serving customers.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “If You Can” on Vimeo, Hanna Rybak animates an inspiring quote by WInston Churchill.
Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, JJ, Cat Eldridge, David Doering, John King
Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]