(1) FOR CONRUNNERS. On Sunday, November 15, Virtual Convention Convention will be held — an event devoted to (guess who) convention runners of virtual conventions. Register at the link.
Steve Davidson sent the link and says, “I’ll be presenting on how I put AmazingCon’s scheduling together in a very short time-frame.”
(2) HAYAO MIYAZAKI NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from an interview with Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki by Leo Lewis in the November 9 Financial Times.
Two weeks before our meeting in June, the studio (Studio Ghibli) had announced that Miyazaki’s son Goro was working on a CH animated adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’s novel Earwig And The Witch, which is scheduled to be broadcast in Japan next month. But even more fascinating for Ghibli’s global fan base is the progress of the elder Miyazaki on How Do You Live?–his first film in the director’s chair since The Wnd Rises in 2013 and the reason he decided to come out of retirement. It was a decision, says Suzuki, that did not arise from any formal meeting of the company (“We never have those!” but from another of the daily chinwags between the two old friends.
Miyazaki, says Suzuki, has come into the office every day of the Covid crisis, even as the rest of the operation has had to be pared back and dependent on teleworking. The good news is that production has continued to some extent; the bad news is that because the maestro works at his own perfectionist pace, the film is at least three years away.”
Lewis talks about a video Suzuki made about how to draw Totoro that went viral. This is on the web as “Learn How To Draw Totoro From Studio Ghibli’s Former President.” He says he wanted to do something to cheer kids up at the height of the pandemic.
(3) ON THE RACK. Scott Edelman got a kick out of deconstructing the comics rack in this scene from The Queen’s Gambit.
In The Evidence (Gollancz, £20), Christopher Priest makes a welcome return to the Dream Archipelago, a string of islands where nothing is as it first appears. Thriller writer Todd Fremde is invited to lecture at the university in Dearth, a subpolar island that undergoes destabilising changes in space and time known as “mutability”. While on the island he is approached by a semi-retired police commissioner; she recounts the details of a murder that occurred 15 years earlier. Fremde investigates the killing on his return home, only to discover that aspects of her story do not tally with the known facts. He soon finds himself drawn into a series of baffling events that threaten to bring the killer to his doorstep. With characteristic literary playfulness, Priest presents both a compelling mystery – Fremde’s attempts to work out the objective truth of the cold case – and a treatise on the unreliability of subjective narrative. The Evidence is an unsettling, Kafkaesque tour de force.
(5) WORLDCON BID VIDEO. The Chengdu in 2023 Worldcon bid has put out a promotional video. President Obama’s in there for a split second. (But not his successor – they’re trying to win, after all.)
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
November 13, 1987 — The Running Man premiered. Directed by Paul Michael Glaser and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, María Conchita Alonso and Richard Dawson. It‘s very loosely based on the novel of the same title written by Stephen King and published under the Richard Bachman pseudonym. It was a moderate box office success and currently rates 60% at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born November 13, 1850 – Robert Louis Stevenson. Had he written only the novella “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, it would have been enough for us. (Incidentally, the name is pronounced “Jee-kill”.) What he did in 25,000 words! The best discussion I know is Nabokov’s, see N’s Lectures on Literature (F. Bowers ed. 1980). The Master of Ballantrae is ours, and many shorter stories. I recommend “Markheim” for the characterization of its antagonist – but no spoilers. (Died 1894) [JH]
Born November 13, 1873 – Oliver Onions. You’ll expect me to recommend The Tower of Oblivion, and I do. Four more novels for us, three dozen others; three dozen shorter stories. He had been an amateur boxer and was a commercial artist; he sometimes did his own covers. (Died 1961) [JH]
Born November 13, 1888 — Philip Francis Nowlan. He’s best known as the creator of Buck Rogers. While working in Philadelphia, he created and wrote the Buck Rogers comic strip, illustrated by Dick Calkins. Philip Nowlan, working for the syndicate John F. Dille Company, later known as the National Newspaper Service syndicate, was contracted to adapt the story into a comic strip. The strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929. (Died 1940.) (CE)
Born November 13, 1898 – Walter Karig. Navy captain, seven books of naval history; three Nancy Drew books, five others of that kind; detective fiction; four general-interest novels; for us, Zotz! Read it, and when you discover the tragedy, you’ll see why the movie was different. (Died 1956) [JH]
Born November 13, 1930 — Adrienne Corri. Mena in “The Leisure Hive”, a Fourth Doctor story. She was also in A Clockwork Orange as Mrs. Alexander, Devil Girl from Mars, Corridors of Blood, The Tell-Tale Heart, Lancelot and Guinevere, Revenge of the Pink Panther and Moon Zero Two which is not a complete listing by any means. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born November 13, 1933 – Jasia Reichardt, 87. Survived the Holocaust. Art critic, curator, teacher, gallery director; assembled the Francziska & Stefan Themerson archive. Famous for curating Cybernetic Serendipity at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; three related books. Robots: Fact, Fiction, and Prediction. Lectures, Our Dreams Change, We Don’t (2019). Many other books and articles. [JH]
Born November 13, 1946 – Marty Massoglia, 74. Chaired Loscon 4. Fan Guest of Honor at Tuscon 10, Penulticon 3. Forty years a leading bookseller. Teaches Regency dancing. Now in Tucson, Arizona. He looked like this at LoneStarCon 3 the 71st Worldcon. [JH]
Born November 13, 1948 — John de Lancie, 72. Best known for his role as Q in the Trek multiverse though I was quite fond of him as Janos Barton inLegend (if you’ve not seen it, go now and watch it). He also was Jack O’Neill enemy Frank Simmons in Stargate SG-1. He has an impressive number of one-offs on genre shows including The Six Million Dollar Man, Battlestar Galactica(1978 version), The New Twilight Zone, MacGyver, Mission: Impossible (Australian edition), Get Smart, Again!, Batman: The Animated Series, and I’m going to stop there. (CE)
Born November 13, 1953 — Tracy Scoggins, 67. Capt. Elizabeth Lochley on Babylon 5 and its follow-up series, the short-lived Crusade. See Neil Gaiman’s most excellent Babylon 5 episode “ Day of the Dead” for all you need to know about her. She was also Cat Grant in the first season of Lois & Clark, and she played Gilora Rejal, a female Cardassian, in “Destiny” a DS9 episode. (CE)
Born November 13, 1955 — Whoopi Goldberg, 65. Best known as Guinan the Barkeep in Ten Forward on Enterprise in Next Gen which she reprised in Generations and Nemesis. Other genre appearances include It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle to name but a few of her appearances as she’s very busy performer! And she has one interesting sounding genre novel, Alice, based off that novel to her credit. (CE)
Born November 13, 1957 — Stephen Baxter, 63. Ok I’m going to confess that the only thing I’ve read that he’s written is the Long Earth serieswith Terry Pratchett. I’ve only read the first three but they are quite great SF! Ok, I really, really need your help to figure out what else of his that I should consider reading. To say he’s been a prolific writer is somewhat of an understatement and he’s gotten a bonnie bunch of awards as well though no Hugos. It’s worth noting that Baxter’s story “Last Contact” was nominated for a. Hugo for best short story as were quite a number of his works. (CE)
Born November 13, 1977 – Leanne Hall, 43. Three novels. Text Prize for Children’s & Young Adult Writing. Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature. Australian Writers Week in China, 2014. [JH]
Early Thursday morning, officers from the Scotts Valley Police Department in Santa Cruz County, California responded to a call about a “suspicious figure” by the side of the road. That’s a phrase that could imply all kinds of scary things, but when the officers got to the spot in question, they found something they perhaps didn’t expect: Bigfoot.
Yes, Bigfoot has been found in Scotts Valley, California! And by “Bigfoot,” we mean a beloved four-foot-tall redwood statue of Bigfoot reported stolen from a local museum earlier this week….
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has a new selfie. This latest is from a location named “Mary Anning,” after a 19th-century English paleontologist whose discovery of marine-reptile fossils were ignored for generations because of her gender and class. The rover has been at the site since this past July, taking and analyzing drill samples.
Made up of 59 pictures stitched together by imaging specialists, the selfie was taken on Oct. 25, 2020—the 2,922nd Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s mission.
Scientists on the Curiosity team thought it fitting to name the sampling site after Anning because of the area’s potential to reveal details about the ancient environment. Curiosity used the rock drill on the end of its robotic arm to take samples from three drill holes called “Mary Anning,” “Mary Anning 3,” and “Groken,” this last one named after cliffs in Scotland’s Shetland Islands. The robotic scientist has conducted a set of advanced experiments with those samples to extend the search for organic (or carbon-based) molecules in the ancient rocks.
A recent spate of bear attacks in Japan has prompted one city to invest in an unusual scare tactic: robotic wolves.
The city of Takikawa in northern Japan, population 41,000, purchased two of the animatronic wolves — called the “Monster Wolf” — in September after bears were found entering the city, Reuters reports.
The Monster Wolf is mounted on a stationary pole and comes equipped with motion sensors.
When those sensors are triggered it swivels its head, flashes lights in its eyes and on its tail, and emits a variety of sounds, including wolf-like howls and the clanking of machinery.
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Chuck Jones’s MGM Cartoons–The Dot and The Line (1965)” is a 1965 cartoon, directed by Chuck Jones and with a script by Norton Juster, about a doomed romance between a dot and a line. Narrated by Robert Morley.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Contrarius, Steve Davidson, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has seen a lot since Aug. 5, 2012, when it first set its wheels inside the 96-mile-wide (154-kilometer-wide) basin of Gale Crater. Its mission: to study whether Mars had the water, chemical building blocks, and energy sources that may have supported microbial life billions of years ago.
Curiosity has since journeyed more than 14 miles (23 kilometers), drilling 26 rock samples and scooping six soil samples along the way as it revealed that ancient Mars was indeed suitable for life. Studying the textures and compositions of ancient rock strata is helping scientists piece together how the Martian climate changed over time, losing its lakes and streams until it became the cold desert it is today.
NOAF: When you first started outlining and writing The Poppy War, did you know how the trilogy would end?
R.F. Kuang: Yes, I knew the ending before I knew the beginning. I always come up with the ending first. I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, but I can’t get started on a story unless I know where it’s all going; I need to give some direction to the story engine. I’ve been picturing the final scene in my mind for years and years, so it’s a relief to finally get it down on paper. So yes, I actually always conceived of The Poppy War as just the prequel material to the stuff I really wanted to write.
In early June, WFC 2020 launched an initiative to help ensure that our convention is inclusive and that our program encompasses the diverse cultures and peoples that enrich the literature and art of fantasy and horror. Thanks to donations from many of our members and our sponsors, we have been able to sponsor attending memberships for twenty-eight people of color – so far. This initiative will continue until registration closes in late October. To donate to this fund, or to apply for a sponsored membership, visit this page on our website.
WFC 2020 operates under the auspices of Utah Fandom Organization, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Your donation may be tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.
Three-time Hugo Award-nominated editor Diana M. Pho has announced a new project dedicated to helping Black speculative fiction novelists get traditionally published. Entitled #Edits4BlackSFF, the project will select nine finalists for a free query letter review and 10-page line edit of their manuscript(s), with the winner receiving both a free developmental edit and consideration for representation from a pool of 8 literary agents.
Ugh, we’re talking about the “canon” of science fiction literature, again, for reasons (most imminently the recent Hugo award ceremony and its fallout), and whether, basically, newer writers and readers should and must slog through a bunch of books in the genre that are now half a century old at least, from a bunch of mostly male, mostly white, mostly straight writers who are, shall we say, not necessarily speaking to the moment.
I’ve essayed this before, because I’m me, but here’s my newest set of thoughts on the matter, also because I’m me. Ready? Here we go:
As a practical matter, the science fiction “canon” is already dead….
(6) CANON TO THE RIGHT OF THEM. Camestros Felapton offered his take on things in “Canon and Campbell”. I looked at this excerpt and asked myself, “What more needs be said?” And yet, Camestros thought of something.
…On the first point I’d cite Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion, which has canonical qualities to it but which is also a shining example of something that is not required reading….
…So founder Steve Haskin tells Design Week that designing the stamps was a “labour of love”. The stamps are based on fans’ most popular episodes, from the series premiere A Study in Pink to the series two cliff-hanger The Reichenbach Fall. Taking into account the global Sherlock Holmes fanbase, and its attention to detail, the studio pored over episodes to extract the “minutest moments” from Sherlock episodes.
Characters were taken from those episodes and placed in the foreground of the stamps, such as Irene Adler from the second series premiere A Scandal in Belgravia. These portraits had to be “strong” and “poignant” as they are focal point. “Special moments” were then illustrated using screengrabs and composed onto each stamp.
What was the main theme that you wanted to tackle in The House of Styx?
I was flying to the Nebulas conference, I think it was in 2013. I had already created all of the biology in the clouds of Venus, but I didn’t really have a story to tell with this. I had a sort of survival story, but something was missing. This was going on at the same time as some of the ‘reasonable accommodation’ debates were happening in Quebec — and I’m half-Quebecois myself.
So I was following the news and basically it was appalling to see some of the discourse around “how should Arab people integrate into Quebec.” It quite obviously came from a place of intolerance. Then I realized that the caustic intolerance that I was observing in society was a perfect metaphor for the sort of acidic environment of the clouds of Venus. And so I wrote that story, but there was so much more to it that — as soon as I had sold it to Analog — I realized I had another novel or two in me dealing with those kinds of characters, that kind of political setting and that kind of metaphorical environment.
Ranging from Chicago’s South Side (the show was partially shot in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood) to the eerie East Coast where Lovecraft’s tales haunted their hapless sailors and professors, Lovecraft Country tracks the cruel magicks of legacy while pointing out at every turn that its genre’s legacy is steeped in racism. Just because Lovecraft was a racist dickhead on a cosmic scale doesn’t mean Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) doesn’t love his brand of fiction. Tic and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) kick off the series on a Jim Crow-defying quest to find Atticus’ missing father (Michael K. Williams)—who’s off in search of their family’s secretive and spooky “birthright”—accompanied by Tic’s childhood friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollet).
….[It] could be a magical universe that exists just under the surface of his own, but it’s certainly not an exciting call to adventure. It’s trouble. Why? Because he’s Black, and Blackness doesn’t mix well with America’s entrenched systems—even if they’re magical ones.
This simple twist works to deconstruct the more conventional aspects of the series. That doesn’t mean the show lacks convention: there’s always water rising or bridges collapsing or demons seducing or heroes smooching. If a magazine from the ‘50s featured it on the cover, you can bet it’ll be bolder and Blacker in Lovecraft Country.
…Broadly — and with plenty of exceptions — Lovecraft’s stories suggest huge and unfathomable horrors lurking just beneath the surface of the mundane world. Filled with miscegenation, tentacles and unspeakable dread, his works often begin with ordinary or ordinary-seeming men drawn into extraordinary and otherworldly situations. Almost no one gets out alive or sane. His brand of weird is gooey and misanthropic, with an insistence that the universe is at best indifferent to human life and at worst antagonistic.
To adapt a Lovecraft work is to reckon with a troubled and troubling legacy — blatant racism and sexual phobias blight much of his work. Still, he remains influential, with his sinister, squishy qualities still felt across media — television, film, fiction, comics, video games, role-playing games, visual art, plushies — and multiple genres. The stomach monster from “Alien”? Extremely Lovecraft. That giant squid from “Watchmen”? Lovecraft again. The devouring Shoggoths from the “Lovecraft Country” pilot? A squelching tip of the hat.
If you don’t know your Yog-Sothoth from your Shub-Niggarath — good! Run while you can! But if you hold your sanity lightly, here is a brief guide to the man, the monsters and the popular culture slime trail his works have left behind.
August 7, 1940 — The Adventures Of Superman radio program aired “Taos: Pillar Of Fire At Graves End”. It starred Bud Collyer and Joan Alexander but the former was kept a secret from the audience for another six years. Based on the comic created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938, Superman, it was thought that it would be better if the actor was more mysterious, so he was kept anonymous.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 7, 1871 – Abanindranth Tagore. Writer, painter, bridger of Euro-American and Asian artwork. Literary fame for Bengali stories as told to children. Nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, helped clear RT’s road to the Nobel Prize for Literature. Fantasy elements integral. Brought Chinese and Japanese elements into his own graphics. See here, here, here, here, here. On his Khirer PutulWikipedia says “sugar doll”, the French translation has “cheese doll”, which both miss the metaphor of khir. (Died 1951) [JH]
Born August 7, 1903 — Rudolf Ising. He was an early staffer to Walt Disney who left to create the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons at Warner. He produced Hanna and Barbera’s first cartoon, Puss Gets the Boot, a cartoon featuring characters later known as Tom and Jerry. He was the first independent cartoon producer to win an Academy Award. (Died 1992.) (CE)
Born August 7, 1928 – Milton Lesser. For us eight novels, a hundred sixty stories, see here, here, here; letters in Amazing, Astonishing, Fantastic, Planet. Fictional memoirs of Cervantes, Columbus (won Prix Gutenberg du Livre), Goya, Poe. Life Achievement Award from Private Eye Writers of America. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born August 7, 1933 – Jerry Pournelle, Ph.D. Thirty novels, a dozen shorter stories, three dozen anthologies, many with co-authors; two hundred essays, letters, in Algol, The Alien Critic, Destinies, Galaxy, Omni, The Patchin Review, SF Age, SF Chronicle, SF Review, Starship, Trumpet; translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish. Lucifer’s Hammer and Footfall (with Larry Niven) on NY Times Best-Sellers list. Seventh SFWA President (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America). Writers & Illustrators of the Future Lifetime Achievement Award. Aerospace. Computer journalist. Founding President of Pepperdine Research Institute. We met for lunch and disagreed. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born August 7, 1936 — Richard L. Tierney, 84. A Lovecraftian scholar. Coauthored with David C. Smith, a series of Red Sonja novels which have Boris Vallejo cover art. Some of his standalone novels riff off the Cthulhu Mythos. Unless you read German, he’s not available digitally on either iBooks or Kindle. (CE)
Born August 7, 1957 — Paul Dini, 63. First, he’s largely responsible for the existence of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Batman Beyond, and yes, Duck Dodgers and Tiny Toons as well. He’s recently been writing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series which is quite good. He co-authored with Pat Cadigan, Harley Quinn: Mad Love. (CE)
Born August 7, 1957 – Lis Carey, 63. Active Boston fan, faithful Filer. Chair of Boskone 46. Here she is at BucConeer (56th Worldcon) helping with the Bostando (Boston for Orlando) 2001 Worldcon bid (L to R. Suford Lewis, LC, Tim Roberge). A few fiction and non-fiction books she’s read, her ranking higher to lower: Omar Bradley (by S. Ossad), Children of Blood & Bone (T. Adeyemi), Queens of Animation (N. Holt), The Last Emperox (J. Scalzi), The Once & Future King (T. White), The History of Bourbon (K. Albala; the drink, not France). [JH]
Born August 7, 1960 — Melissa Scott, 60. I think the first work I read by her was Trouble and Her Friends which holds up well even now. I’m also fond of Night Sky Mine and The Jazz. I see she has an entire series set in the Stargate Atlantis universe. (CE)
Born August 7, 1960 — David Duchovny, 60. Obviously Fox Mulder on X-Files. Now has he done any other genre? Well, he was Dr. Ira Kane in Evolution, a comic SF film, and then there’s Denise Bryson, formerly Dennis Bryson, played by him, who’s a transgender DEA agent on the Twin Peaks series. He also voices Ethan Cole in Area 51, a first-person shooter video game. (CE)
Born August 7, 1970 – Yû Godai, 50. The Story of the Beginning of Bone written while she was still a college student, 4th annual Fujimi Shobo (publisher) Fantasy Novel Prize; five more novels, three shorter stories. Here is a cover from Avatar Tuner. [JH]
Born August 7, 1980 – Lindsey Leavitt, 40. A dozen young-adult and children’s novels, some for us (five are fantasies about mice in a series Commander in Cheese). YALSA (Young Adult Lib’y Services Ass’n) Best Fiction Award, Amazon Book of the Year Award. [JH]
Born August 7, 1975 — Charlize Theron, 45. She surprised me by being in a number of genre films including Snow White and the Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter’s War (which are both quite superb), Prometheus, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Addams Family as Morticia Adams, The Devil’s Advocate, Æon Flux in Æon Flux, the narrator of Astro Boy and her first film, Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, a horror film I suspect she’d prefer everyone forget. She played Pria Lavesque on The Orville in the episode called, errr, “Pria”. (CE)
(14) COMICS SECTION.
From Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics. Where does “Funny once” go in this model?
…DC FanDome is the first-ever global celebration of the DC Multiverse covering the brand’s biggest films, live-action series, animated TV series, games and comics.
Available in nine languages (Brazilian Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish (LAS)), DC FanDome will feature over 100+ hours of programming celebrating the past, present and future DC content through panels, behind the scenes access, user generated experiences, big reveals and exclusives from DC.
DC FanDome is made up of the Hall of Heroes and five islands…
…It may sound like it could be the plot of a new Netflix series, but it’s actually one of the U.S. Army’s “science fiction prototypes,” a teaching tool designed to imagine what the near future of warfare might look like and to prompt military personnel to think creatively about conflicts they might end up fighting. This one takes the form of a 71-page graphic novel called Invisible Force: Information Warfare and the Future of Conflict, produced by the Army Cyber Institute at West Point and Arizona State University’s Threatcasting Lab.
As digital technologies and robotics have opened up the kinds of futures once imagined by pulp science fiction writers, a loose network of national security professionals, military officers, and training organizations are working to try to predict the future of war — by generating science fiction stories of their own….
…The world that Snodgrass creates continues to fascinate from the first novel, especially since we expand from the pressure cooker of the High Ground space station to see the Empire, on the ground, as it were, as well as in the depths of space. We get slices of society all around, from Mercedes’ center of Imperial power, to the very humble existence that Tracy’s father as a tailor has, to the life of military officers. We get a painted portrait of what this stratified, socially conscious world is like and how people fit into that system, resist that system and find themselves in trouble for opposing that system. We also get a better sense of how aliens, an oppressed stratum of society, fit and struggle in a human dominated Solar League. Aliens are very much third class citizens, and the consequences of that are explored in the book both from Tracy and Mercedes’ perspectives….
(18) HELP WANTED. Writing all those Tor.com five-things posts has burned out James Davis Nicoll’s laptop, and he’d be thrilled if people want to help him buy the replacement: “Alas, Poor Jenkins”.
My faithful laptop has subtly hinted that I need to prioritize replacing it, first by closing every Word File within a few minutes of opening them…
(19) SAVING THROW. Wizards: Tales of Arcadia premiered on Netflix today.
After discovering a secret underworld of trolls and teaming up with aliens to save the planet, the teenagers of Arcadia Oaks are back for one final journey: time traveling to the world of King Arthur’s Camelot to defeat villains and preserve the future. Major characters like Jim (Emile Hirsch), Toby (Charlie Saxton) and Claire (Lexi Medrano) have returned from the previous sagas of “Trollhunters” and “3Below,” joined this time by the legendary Merlin (David Bradley).
The series is written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, whose 2017 film “The Shape of Water” took home four Oscars, including best picture and director.
…Del Toro has billed the film as the conclusion to his “Tales of Arcadia” television trilogy which includes the “Trollhunters,” “3Below,” and “Wizards,” shows. “Wizards” premiered on Netflix today.
Here’s Netflix’s synopsis for the upcoming film: Arcadia may look like an ordinary town, but it lies at the center of magical and mystical lines that makes it a nexus for many battles among otherworldly creatures, including trolls, aliens and wizards. Now, the heroes from the hit series “Trollhunters,” “3Below” and “Wizards,” team-up in their most epic adventure yet where they must fight the Arcane Order for control over the magic that binds them all.
When you think about a Seth Rogen movie, he’s almost always got pals around. He’s made comedies with James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Adam Sandler and — if you count Steve Jobs — even Michael Fassbender. It only makes sense he would eventually make a buddy movie with himself.
An American Pickle, streaming on HBO Max on Aug. 6, is adapted from a four-part Simon Rich story that appeared in The New Yorker in 2013. Called “Sell Out,” it’s about a Polish immigrant named Herschel (whose wife is pregnant) who falls into a pickle barrel in 1920 and wakes up, perfectly preserved, 100 years later. This premise, neatly told in the first six short paragraphs, is both absurd and (no pun intended) narratively rich. In the film, which Rich adapted for the screen himself, both the preserved Herschel and his great-grandson Ben — who are the same age — are played by Seth Rogen. What follows is part wacky opposites-attract picture, part family story, part silly caper and, most interestingly, part funny (but also thoughtful) examination of what our ancestors would think of us, especially if they made great sacrifices to give us what we now have.
In the original story, Herschel’s descendant is Simon Rich himself, a script doctor in Hollywood. Here, he’s Ben, an app developer who’s spent five years of his life trying to get an app off the ground that scans bar codes to tell you how ethically made a particular product is. For a whole variety of reasons — from “what’s an app?” to “who cares?” — this confounds Herschel. He quickly discovers, too, that the small cemetery where his wife is buried has been dishonored by the presence of a giant billboard for vanilla vodka (chosen perhaps because Rogen has enormous fun pronouncing “vanilla vodka” in his version of Herschel’s accent). This cannot stand. So Herschel sets out to do what he knows best: make pickles and sell them to Brooklyn, so he can reclaim the cemetery. This does lead to some familiar material about hipsters who love artisanal foods, but it’s executed pretty well, and Rich’s script keeps it moving.
…Let’s focus on this much: It’s a clever idea, it has some good jokes, and it approaches the idea of immigration to the United States in a way I haven’t seen. That’s not to even mention the fact that being preserved in a pickle barrel and waking up in 100 years has never been more appealing.
In this book written by Morgan Robertson, a massive ocean liner described as “the largest craft afloat” is steaming at full speed through the North Atlantic when a watchman cries out “Iceberg.” But the ship hits the ice and begins to sink. With too few lifeboats, many of the passengers drown when the ship goes down.
The story sounds familiar, but this ship wasn’t the Titanic—Futility‘s ship was the Titan. Robertson penned his novel 14 years before the Titanic took its doomed maiden voyage—and those aren’t the only similarities between Robertson’s Titan and the Titanic, either. Such was the predictive power of the text that just a week after the sinking of the Titanic the story—now called The Wreck of the Titan; or, Futility—was being serialized in newspapers as “an amazing prophecy.”
…Baru Cormorant is back for round three! In The Tyrant Baru Cormorant (which, in-keeping with the rest of this series’ inexplicable name shortenings, is being published as “The Tyrant” in the UK) everyone’s favourite provincial savant returns for another round of high-stakes political drama against the empire of Falcrest: the empire which colonised her island, killed one of her fathers and tried to cut her off from her own culture as a child, and also the empire which now counts her as among its most elite operatives. The first book in the series captured my heart and then broke it into a million pieces, and while I don’t think I’m the same reader as I was five years ago, I still consider new releases in this series to be a significant event, and I’m especially glad we haven’t had to wait too long between the previous book and this one.
9. The stories in this collection are haunting, and this also includes the stunning cover art. Whether it’s a woman who works as grief freelancer playing the roles of widowers’ dead wives or a woman pretending to be her missing sister, the stories speak to each other in unearthly ways. Can you speak about the subversive nature of ghosts that permeate the collection—when you realized this was a connective tissue while writing the stories and how it operates in the book, as well as our lives? The cover was designed by Na Kim, who is a genius. I think it captures the spirit of the collection beautifully. In terms of the thematic through lines, I thought a lot about the supernatural as a means to explore the material that cannot be contained by corporal life: the unsayable secrets, the unexamined truths, the incomprehensible realities. In an NPR interview, Toni Morrison once said that “if you are really alert, then you can see the life that exists beyond the life that exists on top.” What does this “life beyond” have to say about our world that cannot be conveyed through other channels? What does it mean to haunt? What does it mean to be haunted? All these questions were important guides, though it took some time to recognize the supernatural as a thematic link. For a while, I had a lot of stories—maybe 350 pages worth—but I was struggling to find the book. Once I started letting the spectral guide me, a shape began to emerge.
(26) A BACON REFERENCE WITHOUT SCALZI. Lise Andreasen shares a fraught moment from the German quiz show Gefragt Gejagt today.
Who wrote Nova Atlantis?
Wrong answer: Hemingway.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, PhilRM, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Bence Pintér, Lise Andreasen, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
(PICKED BY MIKE MYERS)
Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.
A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.
We, the undersigned, have been sponsors and supporters of Borderlands Books. Alan Beatts asked for community support to keep his business operational; in exchange, we expect him to be accountable to that community.
In light of the accusations that Alan has committed acts of intimate partner violence and sexual assault, we are withdrawing our sponsorship and support for Borderlands Books. We believe the survivors. We want to support them and any others Alan has harmed, whether or not they publicly come forward.
We cannot support Borderlands while Alan might use his position as owner to do and conceal harm. We demand that he relinquish ownership of the store and divest financially from it….
(4) SFF WINS CHINESE AWARD. Congratulations to Regina Kanyu Wang, whose story “The Language Sheath” has been awarded the 2019 Annual Award by Shanghai Writers’ Association. The English version, published by Clarkesworld, is here.
Dry witted and lethally incisive, Kit Reed (1932 – 2017), was prolific in a variety of genres: speculative fiction, literary fiction, and (as Kit Craig) psychological thrillers. Selecting a particular work out of all the short SFF Reed published over her long career must have been challenging. Nevertheless, editor Marcus assures us
“To Lift a Ship” is my favorite story from this era, and I think you’ll like it, too.
“It’s a rape revenge story? Is that what you said?”
It was October of 2016. It was a rainy morning in London just days from Halloween, and I was mind-shatteringly jetlagged, getting ready to give a talk at MozFest, the festival put on each year by the Mozilla Foundation. I was answering questions put to me by a fact-checker from the Wall Street Journal, after Margaret Atwood said they should talk to me about robots, science fiction, and the future. The interviewer had asked about my series of novels called The Machine Dynasty, which started with a little book called vN. This was how Margaret and I met — we did an appearance together with Corey Redekop at the Kingston WritersFest back home in Canada. She had gently steered the interview in the way only she can, and said, “Now, Madeline, having read your book, I must ask: how old were you when you first saw The Wizard of Oz?”
Oh, I thought. She gets it. Of course she does. She’s Margaret Fucking Atwood.
This was my life in 2016. In a week or two, the world would fall apart. So would I. In both cases, it happened slowly, but faster than you might think. In both cases, it started years earlier. Collapse is not a binary state; damage occurs on a spectrum of possible repair. You might not recognize it, at first. You may not yet have the words with which to describe it….
Maria Tatar collects versions of the tale from around the world and explains how they give us a way to think about what we prefer not to
Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was released as the first feature-length animated film in 1937, and decades later, the musical fantasy based on a Grimm Brothers fairy tale about the complications and conflicts in the mother-daughter relationship is still a cultural touchstone. The story has virtually eclipsed every version of the many told the world over about beautiful girls and their older rivals, often a cruel biological mother or stepmother, but sometimes an aunt or a mother-in-law. In her new book, “The Fairest of Them All: Snow White and 21 Tales of Mothers and Daughters,” Maria Tatar, the John L. Loeb Research Professor of Folklore and Mythology and Germanic Languages and Literatures and a senior fellow in Harvard’s Society of Fellows, collected tales from a variety of nations, including Egypt, Japan, Switzerland, Armenia, and India. She spoke to the Gazette about her lifelong fascination with the saga and how we can look to fairy tales to navigate uncertain times.
GAZETTE: Why did you decide to take up the Snow White story?
TATAR: While working on my previous book with Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., “The Annotated African American Folktales,” I came across a South African story called “The Unnatural Mother and the Girl with a Star on Her Forehead.” It was basically what we call the Snow White story, but in it the “beautiful girl” falls into a catatonic trance after putting on slippers given to her by her jealous mother. That’s when I fell down the rabbit hole of wonder tales and discovered stories from all over the world in which a stunningly attractive young woman arouses the jealousy of a woman who is usually her biological mother. The Brothers Grimm, whose 1812 story inspired Walt Disney to create the animated film, had many vernacular tales available to them, but they chose to publish the one in which the rival is the stepmother, in part because they did not want to violate the sanctity of motherhood. Now, decades later, it is still our cultural story about the many complications and conflicts in the mother-daughter relationship. It has eradicated almost every trace of the many tales told all over the world about beautiful girls and their rivals.
GAZETTE: Why does this particular story remain so resonant?
TATAR: All of the tales in this collection are cliffhangers. They begin with the counterfactual “What if?” then leave us asking “What’s next?” and finally challenge us to ask “Why?” These stories were originally told in communal settings, and they got people talking about all the conflicts, pressures, and injustices in real life. How do you create an ending that is not just happily ever after, but also “the fairest of them all”? What do you do when faced with worst-case possible scenarios? What do you need to survive cruelty, abandonment, and assault? In fairy tales, the answer often comes in the form of wits, intelligence, and resourcefulness on the one hand, and courage on the other. With their melodramatic mysteries, they arouse our curiosity and make us care about the characters. They tell us something about the value of seeking knowledge and feeling compassion under the worst of circumstances, and that’s a lesson that makes us pay attention today.
…Despite all that. I’m nine hours into this playthrough of Breath of Fire IV and it’s going to be the first time I complete it. Maybe it’s playing on a CRT monitor, which really allows those sprites to shine. Maybe it’s sheer grit and determination. Maybe it’s a growing understanding of how to appreciate games within their context, rather than expecting them to be something more modern. Nah. It’s the sprite art.
Stitched together from 28 images, this recent view from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover was taken from the top of a steep slope, looking out over a sandstone cap and a more distant “clay-bearing unit,” a region which scientists think contains evidence of the history of water in the area.
… She originally created The Magic School Bus in 1986 with illustrator Bruce Degen. The core idea of a sweet and nerdy crew of schoolchildren taking field trips into scientific concepts, bodily parts, into space and back to the age of dinosaurs — and always led by their teacher, the intrepid Ms. Frizzle — eventually spun out into dozens of tie-ins and more than 93 million copies in print, plus a beloved television show that aired for 18 years in more than 100 countries.
In the U.S., the original Magic School Bus TV series was broadcast by PBS for 18 years; in 2017, an updated version launched in 2017 on Netflix, with the first of four specials on the way in August….
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
July 17, 1987 — Robocop premiered. Directed by Paul Verhoeven and produced by Arne Schmidt, it was written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. It starred Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith and Miguel Ferrer. It would lose out to The Princess Bride at Nolacon II for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. The movie was first given an X-rating by the Motion Picture Association of America due to its graphic violence, but Verhoeven toned it down and got an R. Most critics loved it and gave it high marks both as a SF film and as social commentary. Director Ken Russell said he thought it was the best SF film since Metropolis It did very well at the Box Office and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an 84% rating. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 17, 1889 — Erle Stanley Gardner. Though best-remembered for the Perry Mason detective stories, he did write a handful of SF stories, all of which are collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner. It is not available from the usual digital suspects but Amazon has copies of the original hardcover edition at reasonable prices. (Died 1970.) (CE)
Born July 17, 1907 – Humphry Ellis.Double first in Classics at Magdalen (i.e. Oxford; not Magdalene, Cambridge), invited to teach at Marlborough, 1930; while there submitted to Punch, was accepted; hired there, 1933; deputy editor, 1949; resigned to protest new editor Malcolm Muggeridge, 1953; earned more selling to The New Yorker, 1954; a dozen collections. For us “Trollope in Space”; “The Space-Crime Continuum” and one more in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (Died 2000) [JH]
Born July 17, 1912 – Barbara Strachey.Journeys of Frodo, an atlas; drew the maps herself. See The Independent’s wonderful obituary, with a doll of Lytton Strachey, wine, Bertrand Russell, gardening. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born July 17, 1936 – John Spurling, 84. Nairobi (not his fault this reminds me of Ernie Kovacs); Marlborough too late for H. Ellis; St John’s, Oxford; Royal Artillery; British Broadcasting Corp.; free lance. Arcadian Nights re-imagining Greek myths; King Arthur in Avalon, play for a ladies’ college – is the Matter of Arthur fantasy? Walter Scott Prize for The Ten Thousand Things, historical fiction about Wang Mêng (1308-1385); three more novels, nine more plays. Franz Liszt Society. [JH]
Born July 17, 1943 – Grania Davis. Two novels (and three more outside our field) plus two with Avram Davidson; a dozen and half shorter stories plus four with him; translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian; her collection Tree of Life, Book of Death; AD collections The Boss in the Wall, The AD Treasury with Robert Silverberg, Everybody Has Somebody in Heaven with Jack Dann, The Investigations of AD with Dick Lupoff, ¡Limekiller! and The Other 19th Century with Henry Wessells; anthology Speculative Japan with Gene van Troyer; essays, letters, on China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia (as it then was), Japan, M.Z. Bradley, C.N. Brown, AD, P.K. Dick, G.C. Edmondson, Judith Merril, Takumi Shibano, in Locus, NY Review of SF, et al. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born July 17, 1944 — Thomas A. Easton, 76. SF critic and author who wrote the book review column for Analog from 1979 – 2009. His Organic Future series is quite entertaining and I’m reasonably certain I read Sparrowhawk when it was serialized in Analog. He appears frequently at Boston-area Cons. (CE)
Born July 17, 1954 — J. Michael Straczynski, 66. Best-known rather obviously for creating and writing most of Babylon 5 and its all too short-lived sequel Crusade. He’s also responsible for the Jeremiah and Sense8 series. On the comics side, he’s written The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. Over at DC, he did the Superman: Earth One trilogy of graphic novels, and has also written Superman, Wonder Woman, and Before Watchmen titles. (CE)
Born July 17, 1956 — Timothy D. Rose, 64. Puppeteer and actor. He was the Head Operator of Howard the Duck in that film, but was in The Dark Crystal, Return to Ewok, Return of The Jedi, Return to Oz, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. He voiced Admiral Ackbar in the latter two and in The Return of The Jedi as well. (CE)
Born July 17, 1971 – Cory Doctorow, 49. Ten novels, five dozen shorter stories. Columnist for Locus, SF Age; anthologist; interviewed in SF Research Ass’n Review, Shimmer, Steampunk, StarShipSofa, Strange Horizons. Finding ourselves chatting about something or other at an SF convention we noticed that others stared; now, really, folks. [JH]
Born July 17, 1976 — Brian K. Vaughan, 44. Wow. Author of Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, Runaways, Saga, Y: The Last Man, and his newest affair, Paper Girls. And yes, he’s won Hugo Awards. You could spend an entire Summer just reading those series. In his spare time, he was a writer, story editor and producer of the television series Lost during seasons three through five. And was the showrunner and executive producer of the Under the Dome series. (CE)
Born July 17, 1988 — Summer Bishil, 32. Best-known as Margo Hanson on The Magicians, but she’s also been Azula in The Last Airbender, and Aneesa in Return to Halloweentown. (CE)
Born July 17, 1989 – H.A. Titus, 31. Two novels (Burnt Silver just released in February), ten shorter stories. Paper Tigers proofreading service. Loves legends, Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons,skiing, rock-climbing, her husband, their sons. [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Tom Gauld captures the spirit of the moment.
(14) TIME FOR A REFILL. Alasdair Stuart’s “The Full Lid for 17th July 2020” takes a look at The Old Guard from the other side, exploring the important choices the movie adaptation makes and what that means for Western action/genre cinema. And after that, says Stuart —
I also take a look at Noelle Stevenson’s vastly impressive The Fire Never Goes Out, a graphic novel autobiography with clear eyes, a wicked sense of humor and incredible emotional honesty. Finally, there’s a look at Concrete Genie, a deeply lovely, and deceptively subtle PS4 game which maps personal and artistic growth onto the renovation of a small town, occasional parkour and adorable grobble monsters. Plus lots of apples.
The Full Lid is published weekly and is free. You can sign up at the top of the most recent issue and view an archive of the last six months.
The year is 1946, and the Lee family has moved from Metropolis’ Chinatown to the center of the bustling city. While Dr. Lee is greeted warmly in his new position at the Metropolis Health Department, his two kids, Roberta and Tommy, are more excited about being closer to their famous hero, Superman! Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) brings us his personal retelling of the adventures of the Lee family as they team up with Superman to smash the Klan!
To be honest, I thought of writing something witty in place of that last sentence. Maybe ‘now the less good news’ but it’s not less good. It’s appalling and I want to be clear with my language here rather than covering over the situation with typical British understatement.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
14 authors of non-white descent (the specific definition of which we’ll discuss below)
3 British authors of non-white descent
Let me say that again.
3 British authors of non-white descent
Out of 116 authors.
In my view there were actually more books with problematic depictions of race than there are books by authors from those very communities (By my own count there were 9 books submitted from 7 imprints which featured unacceptable racial stereotypes or tropes).
The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the long-awaited — and long-delayed — successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, has been pushed back yet another seven months, NASA said Thursday citing, in part, delays from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nearly $10 billion project, which scientists hope will see back to the time when the first galaxies were formed following the Big Bang, had been scheduled to launch next March from French Guiana atop an Ariane 5 rocket, but the space agency said it is now aiming for an Oct. 31, 2021, launch date.
“Webb is the world’s most complex space observatory, and our top science priority, and we’ve worked hard to keep progress moving during the pandemic,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “The team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see us through to this new launch date next year.”
In 1979, Monty Python’s Life of Brian was considered so controversial it was given an X certificate and banned from some British cinemas.
Last year, however, its rating was downgraded to a 12A by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
In its annual report, published this week, the BBFC said it now considered the film “permissible at a more junior category” under its current guidelines.
The film returned to cinemas in 2019 to mark its 40th anniversary.
It was rereleased in April last year with a 12A rating for “infrequent strong language, moderate sex references, nudity [and] comic violence”.
…When it was first released, the BBFC – then named the British Board of Film Censors – rated the film AA, which meant those under 14 were not allowed to see it.
Contemporary concerns that the film was blasphemous in nature led to more than 100 local authorities opting to view the film for themselves.
This led to 28 of them raising the classification to an X certificate, meaning no one under 18 could see it, and 11 banning the film altogether.
…It is not uncommon for the BBFC to revisit films that are being reissued theatrically and reappraise their original classification.
Earlier this year Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980 with a U certificate, was reclassified as a PG for its “moderate violence [and] mild threat”.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’The New World’ from RoGoPaG” on YouTube is Jean-Luc Godard’s contribution to a 1963 anthology film called RoGoPaG where he shows the subtle psychological consequences after an atomic bomb is exploded over Paris. Part I is below. Part II is here.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) PUBLISHER CUTS TIES WITH MYKE COLE. Angry Robot, which published their first Myke Cole book, Sixteenth Watch, in March, says they won’t be bringing out any more.
Cole previously had a trilogy published by Tor, and another series by Ace.
Cole also has been dropped by his agent.
Vault Comics canceled Hundred Wolves, where Myke Cole was the writer. The series was set to begin in September.
Cole apologized for his behavior, and reiterated an apology from 2018 — and then said he was “exiting…the public square…for the foreseeable future.”
(2) THE ROOM WHERE IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN. Foz Meadows suggests ways to understand and navigate the sff social scene. Thread is compiled at Threadreader.
Foz kicks off with this tweet –
— but spends more time on issues like these:
(3) THE PROMISE OF ANGER IS AN ILLUSION. Alexandra Erin also discusses ethical ideas that may be helpful in deciding how to handle social situations: “More In Sorrow Than In Anger”. Tagline: “On what we choose to do when all our sins are remembered.”
This is not the piece I had planned on writing this week. While I cannot ignore national politics or world events, the professional community of which I am a part – that of the science fiction and fantasy literary profession – has been imbroiled with a wave of revelations of misconduct by some of the big fish in our small ponds of convention circuits, mentor programs, and what passes for royalty and nobility in our petty fiefdoms.
… At some points in our lives, all of us will find ourselves in a situation where the next thing we do will either make others very sad or very angry.
Sometimes this will be entirely outside your control. Sometimes you are placed in a situation through no fault of your own where nothing you do will make others happy, and in fact anything you do will likely leave them unhappy.
This is not about those times.
This is about the times when you do something, or are party to something, or fail to prevent something that is hurtful and harmful to others. Maybe you didn’t see it that way. Maybe you didn’t intend to do anything wrong.
But it’s true nonetheless that you’ve caused damage and now the question is what to do about it. What to say about it. Where to go next.
(4) WORD PICTURE. Catherynne M. Valente offered a way of looking at recent developments.
Since June 15, 2020, when artist/writer Cameron Stewart was widely accused of abusing his clout to prey on aspiring teenage comic book creators, the industry has continued to be rocked by allegations of other prominent figures sexually harassing, assaulting, or coercing their colleagues. Other creators have also begun to speak out about general sexism in the industry.
This list of recent allegations will continue to be updated….
(6) KEENE’S COMMENTS. In last night’s episode of The Horror Show With Brian Keene, he said the show’s team was aware of 10 cases of allegations involving everything from sexual coercion to sexual assault that have been made “against ten different individuals in the comic book, horror, science fiction, book-selling, convention organizer, and cosplay sectors of our industry — all of which had publicly come to light in the last 7 days.”
When Keene followed up the podcast today with a public Patreon post, “Behind Closed Doors”, he said the number is up to 17.
…When we started out, we were lifted up by those who came before us. Now, we spend a good part of each day lifting up those who are following our trail. But while we may be able to speak with some authority on the quality of that person’s writing or art or directorial abilities, and while we may speak to them via email or phone or social media — at the end of the day, we don’t always know what’s going on behind closed doors.
…Ignorance is not an excuse. But I do believe that we as creators, in the process of lifting up others and celebrating others, must always remember that we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. And if those doors are opened and we see what goes on, and it is harmful to individuals or to our greater community, then we have a duty to speak out about it and our association with that person going forward, as I did with Chandler.
I believe we can separate the art from the artist. I also believe we can separate the artist from their associations. I believe that once their associations come to light, we should take a moment — just a moment — and look at it with some nuance. If the artist was associated with something like Stormfront, and was secretly posting hate-screeds, okay, yeah, fuck that person right in the ear. But there’s a big difference between that and Tweeting, “Hey, check out this other author’s book.”
We as creators have a responsibility when it comes to our platforms and our reach. If we’ve lifted up an artist who is later alleged to have done something harmful to individuals in our community, or to the community itself, I think it is our absolute duty to speak on that candidly and honestly and urgently. And that can be difficult. I think the most heartbreaking thing about Kelly Sue DeConnick’s two videos regarding the Warren Ellis allegations is not what she says — but what she doesn’t say. The hurt and bewilderment that is there in her expression. The pain left unvoiced. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to speak out like that, but she was right to do so. To not address it, after years of Ellis lifting her up to his audience and she (in all fairness) lifting him up to her audience, would have been a disservice to the larger community.
Due to allegations made against one of our members, on Wednesday evening, June 24, 2020, the Board of Directors of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) voted to suspend the membership of the accused member, pending the outcome of our investigation. Mystery Writers of America takes the safety of our members at industry events, whether sponsored by MWA or not, very seriously and will continue to work towards a goal of making every event safe for everyone who attends. We are currently working with our legal advisors on developing a more comprehensive code of conduct, which will be completed and made public shortly.
Eight of 10 board members and the executive director have resigned from International Thriller Writers, a professional association which has faced widespread criticism for its responses to the Black Lives Matters protests and an author’s allegations she was harassed during a writers conference.
Criticism of the ITW emerged last week when novelist Laurie Chandlar announced on Twitter that she had stepped down from her position as Debut Author Chair.
“I and another female author brought serious concerns to the ITW board regarding a male author’s behavior at an industry event. They were summarily and callously dismissed,” Chandlar wrote. “For years I’ve heard of women being harassed, groped, and cornered at industry events. And even with serious complaints involving a police report, it seems some leaders have preferred over the years to just sweep it all under the rug.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 26, 1905 – Lynd Ward. His striking Gods’ Man, a novel in woodcuts, has no words; an artist sells his soul for a magic paintbrush, which seemed a good idea, but ha ha; there’s a Dover edition; the title alludes to Plautus’ Bacchides Act IV sc. 2, “Whom the gods favor, dies young”. LW did a fine illustrated edition of Frankenstein; won the Caldecott Medal; with wife May McNeer, other notable work, e.g. Prince Bantam about Yoshitsune and Benkei who although historical people are also the stuff of legend. Here is another LW image. (Died 1985) [JH]
Born June 26, 1910 – Elsie Wollheim. One of the original Futurians. Wife and then widow of Donald A. Wollheim, co-founded DAW Books with him and succeeded him at his death. Guest of Honor at WisCon 5, Lunacon 26, DeepSouthCon 33, L.A.con III the 54th Worldcon (some use Roman numerals, some don’t) chaired by Our Gracious Host. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born June 26, 1929 – Milton Glaser, 91. Graphic designer. Made the logograph for DC Comics; also I [heart] NY which, since I’ve lived there, I invite you to consider as possible fantasy, but I loved it, anyway. Two dozen covers for us. Here is A Canticle for Leibowitz. Here is The Man Who Called Himself Poe. Here is a Bob Dylan poster. [JH]
Born June 26, 1929 – Wally Weber, 91. Of Seattle and Huntsville. Co-edited Cry of the Nameless when it won the Hugo for Best Fanzine; chaired the 19th Worldcon; TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate. [JH]
Born June 26, 1936 – Nancy Willard, Ph.D. Wrote Things Invisible to See, four more; four shorter stories; poetry; two or three score other things of which we might claim many; Pish, Posh, said Hieronymous Bosch and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice illustrated by the Dillons; Newbery Medal for A Visit to William Blake’s Inn. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born June 26, 1987 – Zoraida Córdova, 33. Eight novels, of which one is Star Wars and so is a shorter story (in From a Certain Point of View). Having been reared in Queens she naturally writes about Brooklyn Brujas. Co-hosts a podcast Deadline City. [JH]
(10) MUPPETS NOW. The forthcoming Disney+ Muppets show starts July 31.
So the Grateful Dead are launching a deodorant brand, which is not particularly on-brand. It’s true – when you think of the Dead, you don’t right away think fresh scent. But the line is handmade, small-batch and vegan. The fragrances have names like skull and roses and sunshine, overtones of lavender and rose and blood orange and bergamot, respectively. All this meaning your armpits can now glow with the gold of sunshine.
You could help the Curiosity rover navigate Mars by flipping through photos of the red planet’s rocky landscape and labeling what you see.
NASA is asking volunteers to help sort through and label thousands of photographs taken by the rover. The labels, gathered through the AI4MARS program, will help the rover pick a path to reach its next scientific target. The labels will contribute to a machine learning project to help the rover’s path planners pick smooth routes, after years of sharp terrain wore down the rover’s treads, Elizabeth Howell reports for Space.
… Curiosity landed on the Red Planet in 2012. In theory, choosing clear, smooth paths could help extend Curiosity’s useful time on Mars. But by 2017, there was damage on the rover’s zigzagged treads, threatening their ability to carry its four-ton mass. That’s after only driving about 14 miles throughout its mission so far. According to a statement, it can take four to five hours for a team of rover planners to figure out where Curiosity should drive and how it should get there.
The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has sued Netflix over its upcoming film Enola Holmes,arguing that the movie’s depiction of public domain character Sherlock Holmes having emotions and respecting women violates Doyle’s copyright.
Enola Holmes is based on a series of novels by Nancy Springer starring a newly created teenage sister of the famous detective. They feature many elements from Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and most of these elements aren’t covered by copyright, thanks to a series of courtrulings in the early 2010s. Details from 10 stories, however, are still owned by Doyle’s estate. The estate argues that Springer’s books — and by extension Netflix’s adaptation — draw key elements from those stories. It’s suing not only Netflix, but Springer, her publisher Penguin Random House, and the film’s production company for unspecified financial damages.
We’re interested in works of genre fiction (adult and YA crossover only) whose themes include race, gender, and building an equitable society; illness, pandemics, and the post-apocalypse; superheroes and supervillains outside of comics and graphic novels; and witchy dark fantasy. Pitches on other SFF trends are welcome, as is information on series openers/finales. New titles only, please; no reprints. Pub dates: Sept. 2020–Feb. 2021.
… The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday announced that its classic ride Splash Mountain would be “completely reimagined,” amid scrutiny over the ride’s roots in the racist 1946 film “Song of the South.”
The ride will be redesigned to draw from the 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog,” the first Disney animated movie to feature a Black princess. According to Disney, the redesign has been in the works for over a year, though no concrete timeline for its construction and relaunch has been announced. The new ride’s storyline will pick up after Princess Tiana and Louis’ final kiss in the film, and feature music from the movie as the pair prepare for a Mardi Gras performance….
As the industry grapples with how to reopen for production safely, one movie is proceeding with a lead actress who is immune to COVID-19 — because she’s a robot named Erica.
Bondit Capital Media, which financed titles such as To the Bone and the Oscar nominated Loving Vincent, Belgium-based Happy Moon Productions and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media have committed to back b, a $70 million science fiction film which producers say will be the first to rely on an artificially intelligent actor.
Based on a story by visual effects supervisor Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze, who also produces through Life Entertainment, b follows a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA and helps the artificially intelligent woman he designed (Erica) escape.
Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, who created Erica in real life as part of their study of robotics, also taught her to act, applying the principles of method acting to artificial intelligence, according to Khoze….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Howard The Duck Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains why Howard The Duck made no sense.
[Thanks to John Hertz, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Dan B., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]
(1) ROBOTECH. Titan Comics launches its new Robotech comics
on October 16.
A new Robotech saga starts now with Robotech: Remix, a gripping series that will take beloved characters and iconic mecha to places fans have never seen before! Featuring new writer Brenden Fletcher (Motorcrush, Isola) and anime ace Elmer Damaso (Robotech/Voltron).
Jim Freund’s radio talk show Hour of the Wolf has been a fixture within the New York science fiction community on WBAI 99.5 FM for nearly half a century. On Monday, the station’s parent company, Pacifica Across America, abruptly shut down the station and replaced its local programming with shows from its other holdings, citing “financial losses,” according to Gothamist and The New York Times. The move leaves the future of the long-running program in question.
…The turmoil is a blow to the show, which began in 1971, and has been continually hosted by Freund since 1974. “Hour of the Wolf” was an early-morning talk show that aired between 5AM and 7AM, Freund explained, telling Tor.com that the live, call-in show was a way for the general public to learn about the science fiction and fantasy community….
…In an interview, Mr. Vernile said WBAI — which, like the network’s other stations, is listener supported — had fallen short of its fund-raising goals in recent years. He added that the station was unable to make payroll and other expenses, forcing the larger Pacifica Foundation network to bail it out.
“Listeners in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington, D.C., have been supporting the efforts in New York,” Mr. Vernile said. “It has gotten to a point where we can no longer do that.”
N.Y. State Supreme Court Justice Frank Nervo has granted an injunction against the Pacifica Foundation’s attempt to close WBAI. Regular programming should resume today. Both parties are currently due to appear before Justice Nervo on Friday, Oct. 18. Just after 10:30 p.m. on Monday, the following statement was issued by Berthold Reimers, WBAI General Manager, to all producers and staff at the station:
WBAI managed to get an injunction to stay the takeover of the station. This means the station is legally back in the hands of WBAI’s personnel. All programs are back on and there is much to be done and we have no time to waste. The producers of WBAI have organized a meeting tomorrow night [Tuesday, Oct. 8] at 6:30 PM at 325 Hudson Street near Van Dam.
A Canadian American cosmologist and two Swiss scientists won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work in understanding how the universe has evolved from the Big Bang and the blockbuster discovery of the first known planet outside our solar system.
Canadian-born James Peebles, 84, of Princeton University, was credited for “theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology” and Switzerland’s Michel Mayor, 77, and Didier Queloz, 53, both from the University of Geneva, were honored for discovering “an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star,” said Prof. Goran Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Peebles, hailed as one of the most influential cosmologists of his time, will collect half of the $918,000 cash award, and the Swiss men will share the other half.
The Nobel committee said Peebles’ theoretical framework about the cosmos — and its billions of galaxies and galaxy clusters — amounted to “the foundation of our modern understanding of the universe’s history, from the Big Bang to the present day.”
Reacting to the news, Prof Queloz told BBC News: “It’s unbelievable,” adding: “Since the discovery [of the first extrasolar planet] 25 years ago, everyone kept telling me: ‘It’s a Nobel Prize discovery’. And I say: ‘Oh yeah, yeah, maybe, whatever.'”
But in the intervening years, he more-or-less “forgot” about the discovery: “I don’t even think about it,” he said. “So frankly, yes, it came as a surprise to me. I understand the impact of the discovery, but there’s such great physics being done in the world, I thought, it’s not for us, we will never have it.
(4) DEFYING DOOMSDAY. The winners of the 2018 D Franklin Defying Doomsday Award were announced
October 6. This award is for media
that deserves recognition for work in disability advocacy in SFF literature.
R.B. Lemberg for “Sergeant Bothari and Disability Representation in the Early Vorkosiverse,” in Strange Horizons
Ace Ratcliff for “Staircases In Space: Why Are Places In Science Fiction Not Wheelchair-Accessible?” in io9.
The judges felt that R.B. Lemberg’s article was important because it noted how easy it is to veer away from criticising the representations that we do see throughout the Vorkosigan series because honestly, we’re just glad there’s something focusing on disability at all. But ignoring these issues means we risk having these continue, now and in the future. R.B acknowledges the importance and value of these books, but also encourages us to question them. In fact, the article encourages everyone to question books and the representations in them; this shouldn’t be something readers wish to avoid, simply because we have been desperate for visibility for so long.
(5) TOP HORROR. Rocket
Stack Rank has posted itsannual “Outstanding SF/F Horror of 2018”, with 30
stories that were that were finalists
for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or
recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.
Included are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.
As for RSR, we recommended 16 stories, was
neutral on 8 stories, recommended against 3 stories, and did not review 3
stories (view by RSR rating).
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 8, 1993 — Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes premiered. Two years ago, Stallone’s filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over the disbursement of profits from the film. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 66% score.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 8, 1920 — Frank Herbert. I’ll confess that I enjoyed Dune and Dune Messiah that’s as far as I got in the series. The other Herbert novel I really liked was Under Pressure. (Died 1986.)
Born October 8, 1927 — Dallas Mitchell. He played Lieutenant Tom Nellis on Star Trek in the “Charlie X” episode. He one-offs on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Six Million Dollar Man, The Invaders, Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea and Mission: Impossible. (Died 2009.)
Born October 8, 1943 — R.L.Stine, 75. He’s been called the “Stephen King of children’s literature” and is the author of hundreds of horror novels including works in the Goosebumps, Fear Street, Mostly Ghostly, and The Nightmare Room series. Library of Congress lists four hundred and twenty-three separate entries for him.
Born October 8, 1949 — Sigourney Weaver, 70. I’m picking her greatest genre role as being the dual roles of Gwen DeMarco and lieutenant Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest. Chicon 2000 did give the film the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo after all and it is a loving homage to all that is good in the genre.
Born October 8, 1949 — Richard Hescox, 70. An illustrator who between the Seventies and early Nineties painted over one hundred and thirty covers for genre books,and is now working exclusively in the games industry and private commissions. His website is here. Here’s one of his covers.
Born October 8, 1963 — David Yates, 56. Director of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows (both films), The Legend Of Tarzan, and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and its sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. So who’s seen the latter films?
Born October 8, 1979 — Kristanna Loken, 40. She’s best known for her roles in the films Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, BloodRayne and the Painkiller Jane series.
Born October 8, 1993 — Molly Quinn, 25. I first heard her voicing the dual role of Kara and Supergirl most excellently on Superman Unbound (John Noble voices Brainiac) and I see ventured in the MCU as well as Howard’s Date in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. She was also Jenny on the Avalon High film, and she’s contributing to the Welcome to Nightvale story podcast.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Free Range shows how you can improve any tabletop game by adding Godzilla.
The gateway text. The classic tale of a vegetable-draining vampire bunny adopted by the unwitting Monroe family and actively dealt with by their housepets, genial dog Harold and megalomaniacal cat Chester—the best feline in literature (fight me)—isn’t very scary, and isn’t trying to be. Harold’s first person narration is an outrageously clever and charming feat of point-of-view that generates real sympathy for the titular monster bun. This was something I absorbed rather than realized at the time: that the beats of a genre are made to be remixed.
3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to re-read?
Re-reading is interesting. Sometimes it’s just a quiet impulse, or you pick up something because you’d like to enjoy that again or remind yourself of it in some way, but sometimes it’s an intense craving. When it’s the latter, it can be a need to escape into something familiar from some stress or worry or heavy weight on you, but often I find that the thing I felt such an urgent desire to re-read turns out to have something in it that resolves some quandary that I’ve been wrestling with in my current work — it’ll be something to do with the narrative approach, or how difficulties in a character are set up, or a way of touching the story, that reminds me of what I need to be doing or sparks off something that solves my problem, shines a bit of moonlight on the path I’ve been stumbling in the dark to find. It’s like some underlayer of my brain knows what’s missing or where I’ve gone wrong in the WiP but doesn’t have any words of its own, so it points me at something that will show it to me. I’ve had that experience with LeCarré and Bujold, though most often it will be Diana Wynne Jones or Cherryh. The thing I most recently had an intense desire to reread was McKillip’s Kingfisher, which I’ve read a couple of times, but this time I bought the audiobook because I felt like I needed to have it read to me. Aside from the sheer enjoyment of the work, which is one of her best, what I’m taking from it on this re-read is a reminder of her lightness of touch, something I’m trying to achieve in my current project.
When I was barely in fifth grade, I felt too nerdy, too disabled, too brown, and secretly too queer to be accepted by my white, homophobic town. I escaped this alienation by turning to books. But as much as I loved Harry Potter, The Lightning Thief, and the other novels I flicked through at my town library, I never saw myself in the protagonists, who were mostly white, heterosexual men.
I didn’t realize how deeply this affected me until I got an iPod Touch and stumbled upon fanfiction. Across the internet, fans of particular works were rewriting popular stories however they liked: coffeeshop romances between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, time travel re-do’s of Disney movies, what-if’s about the protagonist from Wicked having twins. I couldn’t be openly queer, but I could read about Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley falling in love.
I soon created accounts on fanfiction sites and talked to authors—many of whom were themselves queer—about the same-sex relationships they wrote about. I slowly accepted the parts of myself that made me feel alienated from my peers, and I carried that newfound self-acceptance throughout my high school years….
“We went to Gale Crater because it preserves this unique record of a changing Mars,” William Rapin, of Caltech, the lead author of a study of their findings, published Monday in Nature Geoscience paper said in a statement.
A “virtual sculpture trail” at a university’s £330m campus is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.
Visitors to the University of Northampton can use a mobile phone to view 3D sculptures created by students.
The six augmented reality pieces of art around the Waterside campus are visible through an app made by a media agency.
Iain Douglas, from the university, said: “This was a valuable opportunity to bring a real-life collaborative project to the students.”
(15) VIDEO OF
THE DAY. “James Bond Theme For
Boomwhackers (Fall 2014)” was done at Harvard five years ago but it’s
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Eric Wong,
Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Harold Osler, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day JeffWarner.]
(1) HAPPY INTERNATIONAL
FANWORKS DAY. Archive of Our Own linked
to all kinds of activities honoring 5th annual International
Fanworks Day, which is today. Here’s the first entry on their list –
1. What Fanworks Mean to Me: A couple of weeks ago, we sent out a call for essay contributions about what fanworks mean to you. Tomorrow, we’ll be posting selected essays from the submissions. If you missed your chance to send us an essay, don’t worry! You can always post on social media with the tag #IFD2019. Let people know how you feel and help spread the International Fanworks Day festivities.
(3) ARISIA. The Boston
convention relocated from the Westin to another hotel at a time when a strike
was in progress and it was anticipated many would refuse to cross a picket line.
Arisia’s February corporate
meeting minutes report:
The Westin has begun the process of contesting the cancellation of our 2019 contract with them. Further steps will cost them money with little prospect of a return and we don’t know if they will follow through or if this is a negotiating tactic.
The meeting approved spending money for Arisia’s legal
(4) MORE ON ZAK SMITH. The
revelations about game author Zak Smith summarized here the other day (Pixel
Scroll 2/12/19 Item #2) have started a tsunami of reaction.
…Although tackling toxicity in gaming from the grassroots level is essential, it’s important to remember that the industry must do something as well. From designers to publishers to social media admins, leaders and creators need to act. In this instance, that is precisely what happened.
The Gauntlet, one of the largest communities, podcasters, and RPG organizers were the next to respond, banning all of Smith’s games from their events and restricting discussion of him (or his products) on their forums. They even went as far as to cleanse their podcasts of interviews or promotions involving him and also warned conventions that thought about hosting him that they’d boycott them…
The Gauntlet will no longer provide coverage to Zak S or his publications. Due to the fact he has a history of harassing Jason and other members of The Gauntlet, we have had a longstanding ban on having him on our podcasts, and he has never been welcome in our community spaces. We will be extending that ban to any kind of coverage of, or participation in, his ttrpg work. […]
* We will not work with people who work with him. For example, Codex will not publish an artist or author who is actively working with him. Folks who have worked with him in the past must promise to not work with him again in order to have a professional relationship with The Gauntlet. * Members of The Gauntlet organizational team will no longer attend conventions in our capacity as representatives of The Gauntlet so long as Zak S is welcome to attend those conventions. We will also strongly discourage our membership from attending such conventions.
Giant industry convention Gen Con was called
on to take a stand – this is as far as they were willing to go.
Eric Franklin also annotated these links in a comment here —
Meanwhile, a ton of publishers have walked back things they’ve said in the past, and several of Zak’s defenders have walked back their statements, too. Some statements are stronger than others. Ken Hite’s statement is one of the better one, but it is by no means the only statement worth digging for.
Even Mike Mearls (who is the man in charge of D&D) made a (pathetically weak) statement on Twitter. He is (rightfully) getting roasted in the responses.
This is a storm that’s been brewing in tabletop gaming for a long while. Zak is one of a small number of high-profile missing stairs whose downfall I have been waiting for.
There is a thread on RPG.net’s Tangency board that has a ton more information about what’s going on, but you need to be a registered member to see Tangency (registration is free). That thread is here.
(5) SIGNAL BOOST. The latest edition of
Alasdair Stuart’s “weekly pop culture enthusiasm download” Full Lid includes a wry commentary on “The Three
Season Long Cold Open” of a popular TV series —
The Expanse begins in the final minutes of its third season. Which is a hyperbolic exaggeration on one hand and a salute to the sheer audacity of the first three seasons on the other. In the space of under 40 episodes the show has shifted from ‘traumatized survivors busk their way through a political scandal’ to ‘manufactured war between the planets’ to ‘first contact’ to ‘political intrigue’ to ‘welcome to the galaxy.’ Each progression has been baked into the DNA of what’s preceded it and the result is a show that’s followed a silky smooth trajectory out into new space. Alex Kamal would be proud. This leads to the final scene of season three making the show’s name it’s premise and fixing it’s previously somewhat broken leading man. This,excellent, recap video by Zurik 23M brings you up to speed
When the robot revolution comes, our new overlords may not be as benevolent as we’d hoped.
It turns out that AI systems can learn to gang up and cooperate against humans, without communicating or being told to do so, according to new research on algorithms that colluded to raise prices instead of competing to create better deals.
[…] “What is most worrying is that the algorithms leave no trace of concerted action — they learn to collude purely by trial and error, with no prior knowledge of the environment in which they operate, without communicating with one another, and without being specifically designed or instructed to collude,” the researchers behind the experiment said in a write-up.
(7) MY META OR YOURS? The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg’s
Patrol’: TV Review” tells readers more about him than the new show.
Say what you will about DC Universe’s new superhero dramedy Doom Patrol — it’s a structural mess, but an improvement of epic proportions over DC Universe’s Titans — nobody will accuse it of not being in on the joke, whatever the joke happens to be.
In fact, it’s basically impossible to review Doom Patrol positively or negatively without insecurity that you might be falling right into the show’s aggressively meta trap. This is, after all, a show that has its perpetually wry narrator say that critics compared one of its main characters to “a poor man’s Deborah Kerr,” followed by, “Critics? What do they know? They’re gonna hate this show.” So is a positive review me trying to prove my coolness to DC and creator Jeremy Carver? Is a negative review proof that I’m just as predictable and dismissible as the show believes?
I don’t know. All I can say for sure is that no matter what the narrator might have expected, I don’t hate Doom Patrol. Whatever that means.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 15, 1883 – Sax Rohmer. Though doubt best remembered for his series of novels featuring the arch-fiend Fu Manchu. I’ll also single out his The Romance of Sorcery as he based his mystery-solving magician character Bazarada on Houdini who he was friends with. The Fourth Doctor did a story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” whose lead villain looked a lot like most depictions of Fu Manchu did. (Died 1959.)
Born February 15, 1907 – Cesar Romero. Joker in the classic Batman series and film. I think that Lost Continent as Major Joe Nolan was his first SF film with Around the World in 80 Days as Abdullah’s henchman being his other one. He had assorted genre series appearances on series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, Fantasy Island and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. (Died 1994.)
Born February 15, 1916 – Ian Ballantine. He founded and published the paperback line of Ballantine Books from 1952 to 1974 with his wife, Betty Ballantine. The Ballantines were both inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008, with a joint citation. During the Sixties, they published the first authorized paperback edition of Tolkien’s books. (Died 1995.)
Born February 15, 1927 – Harvey Korman. I’m stretching genre to the beyond it’s breaking limiting as the roles I want to single out are him as Blazing Saddles as Hedley Lamarr and in High Anxiety as Dr. Charles Montague. He did actually do a SF role or two, mostly in series work. On The Wild Wild West, he was Baron Hinterstoisser in “The Night of the Big Blackmail”; on The Munsters, he played the Psychiatrist in “Yes Galen, There Is a Herman”; and on that infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, he appeared Chef Gormaanda, Krelman, and Toy Video Instructor. (Died 2008.)
Born February 15, 1945 – Douglas Hofstadter, 74. Author of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Though it’s not genre, ISFDB notes he wrote “The Tale of Happiton “, a short story included in the Rudy Rucker edited Mathenauts: Tales of Mathematical Wonder.
Born February 15, 1948 – Art Spiegelman, 71. Obviously best known for his graphic novel Maus which retells The Holocaust using mice as the character. What you might not know is there is an an annotated version called MetsMaus as well that he did which adds amazing levels of complexity to his story. We reviewed it at Green Man and you can read that review here.
Born February 15, 1951 – Jane Seymour, 68, whose full legal name is, to my considerable delight, Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg. Her first significant genre role was in Frankenstein: The True Story as Agatha / Prima. I then see her as being in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger as Princess Farah and then showing up in Somewhere in Time as Elise McKenna. (Based on the novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the screenplay.) I see her in the classic Battlestar Galactica as a character named Serina for a brief run. I think her last genre work was on Smallville as Genevieve Teague.
Born February 15, 1971 – Renee O’Connor, 48. Gabrielle, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. I’m reasonably that I watched every damn episode of both series when they aired originally. Fun stuff. Her first genre role was first as a waitress in Tales from the Crypt andshe’s had some genre film work such as Monster Ark and Alien Apocalypse.
There are better ways to say all of this, and I’m just a robot, and I know I don’t have the emotion or ability to express the truth about you. And even if, by some bizarre twist of fate, I was actually just a human who pretended to be a robot for as-yet-unknown reasons, I would still be so ill-equipped to tell the world how incredible you were.
(10) ANOTHER FAREWELL. From
This Girl Codes — don’t read this ‘til
you have a hanky ready:
…For fans of the source novel by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, it is chock full of colorful imagery and Easter eggs and gives some amazing insight into the kind of tone and atmosphere the series is going for, not to mention giving us a taste of the kind of music the show will have. Plus, with the whole thing running around 1 minute and 40 seconds, which is quite a bit longer than most opening credits nowadays, it cements the fact that Gaiman is clearly doing the show his own way, with his own style, which may yield some very interesting and exciting results.
Here’s the scoop on the two flavors: your choices are Carnival Churro Cravings and Chocolate Peanut Butter Prize Winner!
We can happily verify that they are hitting the shelves! At least, we’ve found them available at a grocery chain called Giant Eagle (with locations in Pennsylvania, primarily around Pittsburgh).
(14) COWL DISAVOWAL. Ben Affleck appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s show to explain why
he isn’t Batman any more. Batman’s previously unknown connection with Tom
Brady is discussed!
(15) RIGHT NOW, ROGER IS
NOT VERY JOLLY. Sounds like the Pirates
of the Caribbean film franchise has everything except people who want to be
involved with making the next one. Geoff Boucher, in “Disney’s
‘Pirates’ Reboot Uncertain As ‘Deadpool’ Writers Jump Ship” on Deadline, says
it’s not clear if there is to be another movie because Johnny Depp will not be
in the next installment and Deadpool
writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have been dropped from writing duties, and
with no star and no script, it’s unclear what Disney has left for another
Pirates film. Boucher says there are rumors Disney wants to turn the
franchise into a TV series.
The [Reese & Wernick] hiring was widely hailed and Bailey has been vocal in his excitement about it, telling reporters and colleagues that the scribes were going to “make Pirates punk rock again” and give the franchise a much-needed “kick in the pants” that would revive the off-kilter charisma the brand exuded in its early days. Those high hopes faded in recent weeks.
Disney insiders are divided about what happens next. Some say a search is already underway for viable replacement options, others say the once-proud flagship of Disney’s live-action fleet may be headed to dry-dock for good.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Paper
Mario Bros. In My Notebook (Stop Motion)” on YouTube is a short video
about what a Mario Bros. chase would be like in a two-dimensional notebook.
[Thanks to Meredith, Eric R. Franklin, Hampus Eckerman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
…It has become so helpful to me that I’ve permanently integrated it into my revision process, and every story I’ve written since has seen improvement as a result.
I like to call it the revision machete.
Here’s the scenario: you’ve squeezed every ounce of blood and grit and wit into producing a story packed with multidimensional characters, a gripping conflict, deeply extrapolated world-building, and heart-wrenching emotional resonance. You’ve tidied it up and sent it off to a critique group, only to discover that everyone has summarily missed the point. Rather than commenting on the story’s thematic impact, they seem to have overlooked the theme altogether. Instead of suggesting ways to make the ending more powerful, they wonder, aloud, What exactly are you trying to say? They tell you the story is too slow, too long. They tell you it didn’t win them over….
When a reader misses the point, it’s easy to write that reaction off as an impatient read. This is rarely the case. And when a reader says a story is too slow or too long, the tendency—for me, at least—is to think: I just need to cut some flab. Tighten it up. Break out the scalpel. Slice some adverbs, transplant some clauses, excise the slow parts.
The solution, sadly, is rarely this simple. Here’s why….
During a gray London afternoon last year, Lin-Manuel Miranda was in musical paradise: He was watching Dick Van Dyke, then 91, on the set of the new movie Mary Poppins Returns, singing and hoofing—on a desk!—with the energy of a man half his age.
“I was geeking out!” the Hamilton star says. As for Van Dyke? “Everyone on the set was surprised I could do it,” the iconic actor says. “And nobody was more surprised than I was!”
* Another thing about the NYT lists these days is that in the last few years they’ve cut the number of slots on the list themselves; the lists used to go into the thirties (my first NYT bestseller ranking was #33 on the Mass Market Fiction list), and now they publish only the top fifteen in any category. There are fewer slots to go around, and thus it’s more difficult to hit the list at all. Again, that’s nothing about politics, and everything about the lists themselves becoming more selective.
* The NYT lists are targeted for complaint because they are the most famous bestseller lists, and also because, if you’re of a conservative bent, a bit of a bete noir, being that the NYT is all full of liberals and shit. But other publications track sales as well, and there does happen to be a correlation between the appearance of a book on the NYT list, and its appearance on other lists as well. It’s relatively rare for a book to show up on a Times list, especially these days in their shorter format, and not on another bestseller list somewhere else.
(4) SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN SFF DATABASE. On a Reddit thread someone was asking for Fantasy series low on violence toward women was pointed to a Google docs “Sexual violence in sff database” that has been set up. It has a Google page where people can submit information on books they’ve read — Submission form.
Somehow, mankind always finds itself at odds with intelligent extraterrestrial life. If you believe the movies, then we’re doomed to never get along socially with whatever we inevitably find ‘out there.’
George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds (1953) showed Earthlings on-the-run from these Martian aggressors who eventually succumb to the smallest threat previously known to man in the finale. During the 1980’s, TV audiences were treated to a pair of miniseries and a spin-off series around V (aka Visitors), a Reptilian race intent upon seeing mankind used to fill the opening of their dietary requirements. Then, in 1996, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich re-invented the ‘alien invasion’ feature with their big screen Independence Day: aliens came to Earth and got their butts kicked in a rousing finale that brought all nations of the world together for the ultimate throwdown.
There have been other films – some big and some small – that have mined similar territory; but 2017’s Attraction has the unique advantage of exploring an alien encounter that doesn’t involve any other nation on Earth except the former Soviet Union. That alone was enough to pique my interest … but, sadly, what I found was much more spectacle than it was substance.
(6) THE COLLECTOR’S FRIEND. Moshe Feder pointed to this Indiegogo appeal — “Aura: Speeds & Simplifies ALL Your Scanning Needs” – saying, “An interesting scanner for bound books and magazines. Has a built-feature to renormalize curved pages. Portable! Doubles as a lamp! Reasonable price. This should have some obvious uses with old zines, pulps, and books.”
(7) JOIN THE NZ POLICE. The latest NZ Police recruiting campaign includes a shout-out to Wellington Paranormal (40 seconds in).
A weird spooky episode, with a bit of a Sapphire & Steel style spooky British TV sci-fi mixed with a bit of a Neil Gaiman vibe. This one is a bit hard to review without spoilers, so click for more if you’ve seen it.
The crew are in Norway for no specific reason and spot a remote house by a lake. The exterior of the house is boarded up but there’s movement inside and possibly something monstrous outside…
(9) BERRY OBIT. Actor Ken Berry, best known for F-Troop and Mayberry RFD, died December 1. Variety notes his genre connections as well:
He also appeared in comedy films “Herbie Rides Again” and “The Cat From Outer Space” and made frequent guest appearances on shows including “The Golden Girls,” “Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and “CHiPs.”
Born in Moline, Ill., Berry started out as a singer and dancer. He served in the U.S. Army special services under Sergeant Leonard Nimoy, entertaining the troops and winning a slot on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”
Nimoy helped introduce him to studios after he left the Army, and soon Berry was under contract to Universal to appear in movie musicals.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
December 2, 1979 — Star Trek became a comic strip, giving new meaning to “see you in the funny papers.”
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
Born December 2, 1914 – Ray Walston, Actor and Comedian who is best known, of course, for playing the lead in My Favorite Martian from 1963 to 1966, alongside co-star Bill Bixby; he was given a cameo role in the 1999 reboot movie, which starred Christopher Lloyd in the titular role. Younger fans may know him for his role as Boothby, the mysterious gardener at Starfleet Academy, in Star Trek: The Next Generation, a role which he reprised in Voyager. His many genre appearances included The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Galaxy of Terror, Amazing Stories, Popeye, Friday the 13th: The Series, and Addams Family Reunion. In a sly callback to their earlier collaboration, he appeared in The Incredible Hulk (in which David Banner was played by Bill Bixby) as Jasper the Magician, in an episode called “My Favorite Magician”. He was given a Saturn Award for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2001).
Born December 2, 1937 – Brian Lumley, 81, Writer of Horror who came to distinction in the 1970s, both with his writing in the Cthulhu Mythos and by creating his own character Titus Crow. In the 1980s, he created the Necroscope series, which first centered on speaker-to-the-dead Harry Keogh. His short story “Necros” was adapted into an episode of the horror anthology series The Hunger. His works have received World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Stoker Award nominations; the short story “Fruiting Bodies” won a British Fantasy Award. Both the Horror Writers Association – for which he was a past president – and the World Fantasy Convention have honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Born December 2, 1952 – O.R. Melling (aka G.V. Whelan), 66, Writer from Ireland. One of her favorite authors is Alan Garner, whose The Owl Service is also a frequent read of mine. As for novels by her that I’d recommend, the Chronicles of Faerie series, consisting of The Hunter’s Moon, The Summer King, The Light-Bearer’s Daughter, and The Book of Dreams are quite excellent; the first won a Schwartz Award for Best YA-Middle Grade Book. For more adult fare, her People of the Great Journey: Would You Go if You Were Called? – featuring a fantasy writer who is invited to take part in a week-long retreat on a magical, remote Scottish island – I’d highly recommend.
Born December 2, 1971 – Frank Cho, 47, Artist and Illustrator from South Korea who is best known as creator of the Liberty Meadows series, as well as work on Hulk, Mighty Avengers, and Shanna the She-Devil for Marvel Comics, and Jungle Girl for Dynamite Entertainment. His works have received Ignatz, Haxtur, Charles M. Schulz , and National Cartoonists Society’s Awards, as well as Eisner, Harvey, and Chesley Award nominations, and his documentary Creating Frank Cho’s World won an Emmy Award.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
How stars get their names (and whether they like them), as explained by Over the Hedge.
(13) THE JDA VERSION. Yesterday’s Scroll linked to Jim C. Hines’ post about Jon Del Arroz’ comments being taken down from a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” with Cat Rambo. Today JDA blogged his version of events — “Banned by r/fantasy” [Internet Archive link].
r/fantasy is censoring your favorite humble Hispanic author (me). This group, supposedly about books and fiction in the genre I write, is removing comments when I make them. I’ve violated no rules, I simply posted the following to this thread…
(14) FLYING SAUCER INVENTOR PROFILED. In “The Forgotten Legend of Silicon Valley’s Flying Saucer Man” on Bloomberg, Ashlee Vance profiles outsider artist Alexander Weygers, who created designs that looked like flying saucers during the 1920s and also in 1930 painted visions of San Francisco in 1985.
…Things got bad enough that Larry Fischer, the owner of a sculpture foundry, decided to auction off pieces he’d held on to for years to help make ends meet. Ahead of the auction, he invited Hunter to come see if there was anything he liked. He guided his friend through the gritty warehouse toward a collection of bronze sculptures he thought might be of particular interest.
He chose well. The first sculpture Hunter saw, Up With Life, was a foot tall and depicted an adult’s face morphing vertically into a hand cradling an infant. Fischer explained that the sculpture, made by an unknown artist named Alexander Weygers after World War II, represented humanity rising up to find hope in the darkest of times. Its beauty overwhelmed Hunter, leaving him giddy and a little dazed. “I freaking started crying,” he later said. As he surveyed the room and saw one magnificent work after another, Hunter knew he had to have them. “I bought the whole collection of 30 Weygers statues.”
The sculptures came with an incredible story. Weygers spent close to half a century as the valley’s hidden da Vinci, crafting his home over the years from reclaimed wood and junkyard scrap metal, using tools he made on the premises. In separate workshops he produced sculptures, highly stylized photos, wood carvings, and home finishings. He also wrote books on blacksmithing and toolmaking and shared his talents firsthand with youngsters willing to camp on the property. He taught them to make their own tools, sculpt, and embrace his minimalist, recycling-centric philosophy. And amazingly, Weygers was a world-class engineer who in the late 1920s designed a flying saucer, a machine he called the Discopter.
Immediate suspicions are that the rock, dubbed Little Colonsay, is a meteorite, but NASA scientists won’t know for sure until Curiosity performs a chemical analysis. The rover’s ChemCam instrument, which consists of a camera, spectrograph, and laser, offers an on-the-spot chemistry lab.
That Curiosity may have stumbled upon a meteorite isn’t shocking. The rover has sniffed out several such objects over the course of its travels, including a huge metal meteorite in 2015 and a shiny nickel-iron meteorite the following year.
Martin compared the dark, 10-episode first contact series to Alien in the New York Times. As in Thrones, the balance of power is practically a character in Nightflyers. Instead of a loose coalition of warring nation-states, the factions are a ragtag group of scientists and the residents of a colony ship called the Nightflyer enlisted to investigate a mysterious alien entity called “The Volcryn.” Earth is dying, and rugged researcher Dr. Karl D’Branin (Eoin Macken) thinks tapping into its powerful energy will save the planet.
Series showrunner Jeff Buhler explains that to bring the show to Syfy, the creative team had to make some changes to the original story. “One of the big changes from the novella that we tackled in making the TV series was to roll back the timeline that existed in the Thousand World universe.” Martin’s story is set centuries far in the future, after humanity has colonized the galaxy. Along the way, humanity made contact with numerous other aliens, and wound up nestled between two hostile alien factions. For the show, Buhler explained that they wanted to go back to the point where humanity first made contact with aliens.
I don’t know what you were doing last week on Black Friday, but as for me, I was taking this year’s Chessiecon Guest of Honor Jo Walton out to lunch at the nearby Bluestone Restaurant. And, of course, recording the conversation so you’d be able to join us at the table!
Jo Walton won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in 2004. Her novel Among Others won both the 2011 Nebula Award and the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and (according to those who keep track of such things) is one of only seven novels to have been nominated for the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and World Fantasy Award.
Her novel Ha’penny was a co-winner of the 2008 Prometheus Award. Her novel Lifelode won the 2010 Mythopoeic Award. Her incisive nonfiction is collected in What Makes This Book So Great and An Informal History of the Hugos. She’s the founder of International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, something which we never quite got around to talking about, so if you want to know more about that holiday, well, Google is your friend. Her next book, Lent, a fantasy novel about Savonarola, will be published by Tor Books in May 2019.
We discussed how Harlan Ellison’s fandom-slamming essay “Xenogenesis” caused her to miss three conventions she would otherwise have attended, why Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside is really a book about menopause, the reason she wishes George Eliot had written science fiction, the ways in which during her younger days she was trying to write like Poul Anderson, her technique for getting unstuck when she’s lost in the middle of writing a novel, why she loathes the plotter vs. pantser dichotomy, how she developed her superstition that printing out manuscripts is bad luck, the complicated legacy of the John W. Campbell Award (which she won in 2002), how she managed to write her upcoming 116,000-word novel Lent in only 42 days, and much, much more.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Jennifer Hawthorne, Chip Hitchcock, Errolwi, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Liptak, Carl Slaughter, Moshe Feder, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
The recent hoo-ha about the Man Booker prize’s longlisting of a graphic novel for the first time, the chilling, understated Sabrina by Nick Drnaso, may have piqued your interest in exploring this ever-expanding medium further, or perhaps for the first time. Not everyone has grown up reading comics and the demands of their various verbal and visual literacies can take some adjusting to, particularly if you’re used to the orderly typesetting of prose novels. It’s never too late, though, to try stretching your brain – both sides of it when it comes to graphic novels, where looking is as important as reading.
The roundup begins with —
This experience comes through in the wordless migration parable The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2006), which follows a man who has gone on ahead of his wife and children to seek work abroad and struggles to navigate his alien surroundings and their indecipherable language. Unable to make himself understood, he resorts to making simple drawings to communicate his need for a room. The reader shares his bafflement and gradually grasps with him how his strange new homeland works. Tan’s genius in children’s picture books blossoms in this extended tale for all ages, illustrated in almost photographic sepia images.
As first reported by Slash Film, Olmos won’t be appearing in The Predator as previously planned. When asked about his role in the film Olmos commented, “I’m not in the show though. It was too long so my character, they had to take me out. They were like half an hour, 3/4 of an hour too long. So I understand why“. Olmos himself doesn’t seem to be terribly disappointed by the news, but fans of his previous work such as Battlestar Galacticaand Blade Runnercertainly will be.
(3) CARTOON VERDICT. Camestros Felapton’s “Review: Final Space (Netflix)” is an interesting tour whether you’re likely to watch the series or not – and more likely not, based on his conclusions….
It’s basically a fun kids cartoon but with more violence and (generally mild) sexual references. With a small amount of effort, it could have been a really good kid’s cartoon instead of whatever it ended up being…
I wouldn’t want to recommend you watch it as for some readers it might result in them using their mobile device as a projectile aimed at the wall but it is sort of a better show than it deserves to be.
(4) PAPER CANCELLED. John Teehan notes that the SFWA Bulletin is abandoning its print edition.
End of an era. As production manager and occasional editor, I worked on 56 issues over 15 some odd years. The SFWA Bulletin is now going digital, and the current issue is the last print one I’ll be involved with. It was a great run—one of the best gigs ever. Had some ups and downs, certainly, but the experience overall was a great one in which I found myself growing each year. Many thanks to everyone who supported our work over the years.
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
August 5, 1861 — The United States government issued its first income tax, encouraging more people to write fantasy.
August 5, 2011 — Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a reboot that worked.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
Born August 5, 1930 – Neil Armstrong
(7) CURIOSITY’S QUIET ANNIVERSARY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] You may have seen headlines about Curiosity singing (well, humming) Happy Birthday to itself in honor of it’s fifth birthday (as measured in Earth years since landing) last week. Well, nope. Florence Tan at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate explained to The Atlantic why this was a one-time occurrence (in 2013) rather than an annual event — “Why the Curiosity Rover Stopped Singing ‘Happy Birthday’”.
“The answer to your question will sound rather cold and unfeeling,” her email began.
“In a nutshell, there is no scientific gain from the rover playing music or singing ‘Happy Birthday’ on Mars,” Tan said. In the battle between song and science, science always wins.
Vibrating the sample-analysis unit (which is a normal part of Curiosity’s scientific endeavors) uses energy that could be put to use elsewhere and adds wear and tear to the SAM unit. Plus, of course, it takes someone to work the humming into an incredibly tight schedule:
“It’s not just, ‘Oh, I’m ready to send a command, just send an email to somebody,’” Tan said in a phone interview. The rover’s activities are scheduled down to the minute, and SAM requires power to operate. Curiosity runs on a nuclear battery that turns heat into electricity, and it will eventually die.
She has twice been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award and once for the James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award. Her greatest recognition came from the Canadian Casper/Aurora Awards, which she has won ten times. Vonarburg won the French language award in 1987 for her story “La Carte du Tendre” (“Readers of the Lost Art”). That same year, she received a second Aurora for her fannish contributions to Solaris. She won three additional short story Auroras for “Cogito” (1990), “Ici, des tigres” (1991), and “La Course de Kathryn” (2004) and five Auroras for Best book for Histoire de la Princesse et du Dragon (1991), Ailleurs et au Japon (1992), Chroniques de Pays des Mères (1993), Les Voyageurs malgré eux (1996), and Reine de Mémoire 4. La Princesse de Vengeance (2007). She won the Prix Rosny-Ainé and the Prix Boreal in 1982 for her novel Le Silence de la Cité. She also won the Boreal for Chroniques de Pays des Mères (1993), Les Rêves de la mer (1997), Reine de Mémoire 1. La Maisson d’oubli (2006) and Reine de Mémoire 4. La Princesse de Vengeance (2007). Prior to 1990, the Aurora Award was known as the Casper Award and in 2011, the Prix Aurora and Prix Boreal combined.
(9) EERIE. Bill “Beamjockey” Higgins has a birthday today, too – and is wondering how File 770’s commenting bug knew!
I can easily accept that some crazy glitch in your blogware puts a far-future date on my draft comment.
What’s spooky is that WHEN I WAS COMMENTING ABOUT CENTENNIALS AND BICENTENNIALS the date on my comment turned out to be 5 August 2854, 900 years after my own birth.
Pics, or it didn’t happen? I attach a screenshot.
(10) OUTREACH. The reading evangelists from Dublin 2019 will be out again next weekend at a local event: “Dublin Comic Con and Outreach”. Chair James Bacon outlines the history:
…No matter where we go, we try and focus on ensuring we have something for all ages of reader. We isolate books for children and younger readers, and keep them to one side; we know adults also love them, but we conserve them so every child can walk away with a book or comic.
This year in Dublin we have 4 large boxes of Childrens Comics, The Beano, Whizzer and Chips and Buster, and cartoon based Superhero comics as well as children’s books, and we will ensure kids get them.
It positively encourages the gentle transition of fascination with all that is super heroes or fun on the screen, to reading on the pages.
These projects have benefited hugely from established conventions who support their logistical activities and also from individuals and organisations who make generous donations of books, magazines and comics as well as their time and effort. Publishers and book stores also support the activities, and Half Price Books in the states have consistently been very good to SF Outreach.
This year, Dave Finn from Incognito Comics has again given two car loads of magazines, books, and comics to Outreach, knowing from seeing it in action at London Film and Comic Con, that the energy and enthusiasm to encourage reading is genuine and if as a by-product, people go to more cons, well isn’t that just fabulous.
Dublin Comic Con next weekend, and if you are in Dublin and want to check out anything to do with the Worldcon, please do call by and speak to us if you are going to Dublin Comic Con. (Check tickets availability, they do sell so well!)
(11) CHOCOLATE HUGO. Jerry Pournelle famously said, “Money will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no money,” however, at the 1984 Worldcon Larry Niven played off his collaborator’s pet phrase when he presented him with a solid chocolate rocket during the ceremony: “Jerry, this is the Hugo that will get you through times of no money better than….”
Yes, these were awarded at the legendary Hugo Loser’s Party in Helsinki Finland at Worldcon 75. The frame is milk chocolate, the center is white chocolate. Together, they taste like victory.
We can’t guarantee they’re gluten free. They may have been made in a facility that works with nuts. If you have any kind of dietary restrictions, you can still buy and enjoy this, but don’t eat it. Just relax and bathe in the glamor of owning a Worldcon Hugo Award.
In the heart of blueberry season, Billy-bodega, a user on Physics Stack Exchange, posed the question: “Supposing that the entire Earth was instantaneously replaced with an equal volume of closely packed, but uncompressed blueberries, what would happen from the perspective of a person on the surface?” the question got promptly deleted. But it didn’t stop Anders Sandberg, a researcher at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, to seriously tackle the idea, explaining the development of this blueberry planet (and even publishing the comprehensive answer in a paper).
What you’d end up with, according to Sandberg, “is a world that has a steam atmosphere covering an ocean of jam on top of warm blueberry granita.” Here’s how the planet would form: you start with fat, thick-skinned blueberries (blueberry Earth would be much less dense than actual Earth, and gravity would be weaker). Since blueberries can’t withstand strong forces, gravity would turn them into mash, releasing air that previously separated them from their neighbors, shrinking the radius of the planet.
(13) NOVIK. Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver, her take on Rumplestiltskin, is reviewed by Choire Sicha in the New York Times Book Review. “Rumpelstiltskin Redux”.
Here [the author] has gathered countless old tales and turned them into something new. The theft of summer, a burning demon who lives inside a prince, a witch’s hut in the woods, the secret power of names, the frozen winter road that winds its way through the depths of the forest—they’re all here.
If anyone is glancing at this review for advice on which films to see this weekend, my recommendation would be to avoid The Darkest Minds. For while it is competently executed and offers some superficial novelties, it is a film that most people have already seen several times, and since two similar franchises to be discussed have failed to generate expected sequels, it may be that many filmgoers are growing as tired of this film as I am.
The film is a generally faithful adaptation of Alexandra Bracken’s novel The Darkest Minds (2012), yet another version of a common formula for success in the modern marketplace of young adult fiction: a future dystopia spawned by an improbable disaster that prods evil adults to torment and oppress its teenagers, despite the fact that – or even because – these amazingly talented and virtuous youth are the only ones who can save humanity from impending extinction. In this case, the improbable disaster is the sudden appearance of a disease called IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration), which kills most young people and imbues the surviving youth with a variety of psychic powers: “greens,” superintelligence; “blues,” telekinesis; “yellows” (in the film, “golds”), control of electricity; “oranges,” the ability to control others’ minds; and “reds,” pyrokinesis. Naturally, the government responds by declaring martial law, rounding up all teenagers, and placing them in concentration camps to either be slaughtered or exploited as slave labor. Our heroine, Ruby Daly (Amandla Stenberg), conceals her feared orange powers, keeping her alive until she escapes from her camp with the help of Cate Connor (Mandy Moore), a member of an underground organization called the Children’s League which turns out to be similarly sinister. But Ruby runs away to join three other teenage fugitives, the blue Liam (Harris Dickinson), the gold Suzume, or Zu (Miya Cech), and the green Chubs (Skylan Brooks), and they proceed to have several adventures in the vicinity of Virginia (though the movie was filmed in Georgia).
…Robinson’s New York 2140, published last year, lays out a vision of what climate catastrophe and a leftist uprising against the capitalist forces that caused it would look like. So HuffPost asked him to elaborate on what he sees as the future of geoengineering. The following was edited for length and clarity.
How do you define geoengineering and what are the forms it will most likely take?
I guess the definition would be something like “a deliberate planned attempt by human beings to mitigate the damages of climate change, of carbon dioxide and methane buildup in the atmosphere, and of ecological damage generally, by way of some action that is large-scale” — if not global in reach, then regional in ways that might have global repercussions.
I’ve been saying that “geoengineering” is a bad name because engineering implies we know what we’re doing more than we really do. Also, that we have more powers than we actually have. I’ve suggested we think of it as “geo-finessing” or “geo-tweaking” or even “geo-begging,” to better indicate our relative ignorance and weakness in the face of global geochemical processes. Lots of those processes we can’t do anything about, even if we really want to. So the name needs some unpacking.
The most likely forms it might take, I think, are the following: casting dust-like particles into the atmosphere to mimic a volcanic eruption, so that for a number of years after that, the global average temperatures would go down a bit. Drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere by way of biological and/or mechanical means. Pumping seawater onto the ice cap of Eastern Antarctica. Stimulating growth of small life forms in the ocean that would then die and take their carbon to the seafloor ? this has been mentioned as a possibility, but it’s widely regarded as potentially dangerous for ocean ecologies. Still, it might be tested on small scales, even used on small scales, which would reduce its power to help but also its power to harm.
Government workers in a borough of Alaska have turned to typewriters to do their jobs, after ransomware infected their computer systems.
A spokeswoman for Matanuska-Susitna said the malware had encrypted its email server, internal systems and disaster recovery servers.
She said staff had “resourcefully” dusted off typewriters and were writing receipts by hand.
The borough is in the process of rebuilding its systems.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttawa, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Bill “Beamjockey” Higgins, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lisa Goldstein.]
The Helsinki Worldcon is now well underway, and the big topic of conversation is the attendance. On the face of it, this is a good thing. We all want Worldcon to grow. The largest number of attending members in history is still LA Con II in 1984 with 8365. LonCon 3 in 2014 had more members in total, but only 6946 attending. The last I heard Helinki was up to 6001. Some of those may be day members, who have to be counted somewhat differently from full attending members, but even so it is an impressive number. Helsinki certainly looks like being in the top 5 Worldcons by size.
Unfortunately, based on previous Worldcons outside of the US/UK axis, expected numbers for Helsinki were more like 3500. Messukeskus could handle that easily. It is more than big enough in terms of exhibit space for what we have. But the function space, where programming happens, is stretched to the limit.
There are many things that a Worldcon can do to cope with the unexpected, but building new program rooms is not one of them. Seeing how memberships were going, Helsinki did negotiate some space in the library across the road. It did not try to turn empty exhibit halls into function space because we all know how badly that went in Glasgow in 1995.
(3) MORE SPACE COMING. Nevertheless, Worldcon 75 chair Jukka Halme says:
We will have more function spaces on Thursday available, and even more on Friday and Saturday. These things take time, as some of these rooms need to be built in halls, since we already have all the available rooms in Kokoustamo at our disposal. I believe this will help out the congestions somewhat.
I believe that’s true. And simply because I happen to know this story I will add that before L.A.con III (1996), Bruce Pelz and I briefly discussed what our membership cutoff should be – a topic because the previous L.A. Worldcon (1984) set the all-time attendance record. We considered 16,000. But since our attending membership sales didn’t even crack 7,000, it never became an issue.
(5) YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF THE GAME. Doris V. Sutherland finds three points of interest in Pat Henry’s answer to Alison Littlewood, refusing to take her off the Dragon Awards ballot — “The Dragon Awards: A Peek Behind the Scenes”. The third is:
3: The Dragon Awards were originally conceived as a way of building a reading list for SF/F fans during the nominations phase, with the awards themselves being of secondary importance.
Now, the first two of these takeaways won’t be much of a surprise to anyone who’s been keeping an eye on the proceedings, but the third point is significant.
For one, it explains something that had rather puzzled me about the Dragons: the shortness (less than one month) of the period between the ballot being announced and the voting process ending, leaving very little time for a typical reader to get stuck into a single novel category before voting. If fans are expected to continue using the ballot as a reading list after the awards are presented then this is a lot easier to swallow.
Here is a thing that sometimes happens to me and other authors who feature a not-insignificant footprint online or in the “industry,” as it were:
Some rando writer randos into my social media feed and tries to pick a fight. Or shits on fellow authors, or drums up some kind of fake-ass anti-me campaign or — you know, basically, the equivalent to reaching into the overfull diaper that sags around their hips and hurling a glob of whatever feces their body produces on any given day. The behavior of a shit-flinging gibbon.
Now, a shit-flinging gibbon hopes to accomplish attention for itself. It throws shit because it knows no other way to get that attention. The gibbon’s most valuable asset, ahem, is its foul colonic matter, so that’s the resource it has at hand.
Thing is, you’re not a shit-flinging gibbon.
You’re a writer.
Your most valuable asset is, ideally, your writing.
If it’s not, that’s a problem. A problem with you, to be clear, and not a problem with the rest of the world. It rests squarely upon your shoulders.
If your best way to get attention for yourself is to throw shit instead of write a damn good book, you are a troll, not a professional writer.
Five years of images from the front left hazard avoidance camera (Hazcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover were used to create this time-lapse movie. The inset map shows the rover’s location in Mars’ Gale Crater. Each image is labeled with the date it was taken, and its corresponding sol (Martian day), along with information about the rover’s location at the time.
(8) COLD EQUATION. Although sf is not really a predictive genre, that doesn’t stop people from enjoying the recognition when the things they’ve warned about in fiction happen in reality: the Antarctica Journal has the story — “Craig Russell, Canadian Novelist Predicts Arctic Event”.
How did Craig Russell respond when asked how he felt about his accurately future-predicting novel being in the news now?
“Some 40 years ago, as a student, I lived and worked at a Canadian Arctic weather station, 500 miles from the North Pole,” he added. “So I’ve remained interested in polar events, and was both fascinated and appalled by the Larsen A and B ice shelf collapses in 1995 and 2002.”
The long wait for the next Star Wars film can be painful to endure. We hang on any morsel we can get, any tie-in we can overreact to, and anything else that can get us geeking out. Then there is LEGO, who can help ease the painful wait by just getting us in a good mood. Take the new teaser posters for The Last Jedi, which were released in mid-July at the D23 Expo.
LEGO has now taken those same posters and LEGO-fied them, giving us six posters with LEGO mini-figure art that corresponds to those D23 posters. Again, repeating the crimson robe attire, echoing the red we saw on the first poster and also the ruby red mineral base of planet Crait. There’s no telling yet whether these posters are just part of Lego’s social media campaign or if these posters will be part of their gift with purchase program for VIP Lego Club members.
(10) TODAY’S DAY
Book Lovers Day
From the scent of a rare first edition book found in an old time book collection, to a crisp, fresh book at the local supermarket, the very sight of a book can bring back memories. Reading as a child, enjoying the short stories, the long books and the ability to lose yourself in a story so powerful that at the end your asking yourself where to get the next book in the series. This is for the reader in all of us, the celebration of Book Lovers Day!
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
August 9, 1930 — Betty Boop premiered in the animated film Dizzy Dishes
First, I want to acknowledge the common protests. Jonesian archaeology looks a lot different from the modern discipline. If Jones wanted to use surviving traces of physical culture to assemble a picture of, say, precolonial Peruvian society, he’s definitely going about it the wrong way. Jones is a professional fossil even for the mid-30s—a relic of an older generation of Carters and Schliemans. Which, if you think about it, makes sense. By Raiders, he already has tenure, probably gained based on his field work in India (Subterranean Thuggee Lava Temples: An Analysis and Critical Perspective, William & Mary Press, 1935), and the board which granted him tenure were conservatives of his father’s generation, people who actually knew Carter and Schliemann—not to mention Jones, Sr. (I’ll set aside for the moment a discussion of cronyism and nepotism, phenomena utterly foreign to contemporary tenure review boards…)
Jones is the last great monster of the treasure-hunting age of archaeology. To judge him by modern standards is to indulge the same comforting temporal parochialism that leads us to dismiss post-Roman Europe as a “Dark Age.” Jones may be a lousy archaeologist as we understand the field today. But is he a lousy archaeologist in context?
If you’ve ever wondered what the children of Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, or Aquaman would look like, the time for wondering is over. Thanks to DC Comics, every fan gets to see the parentage and superpowers of the sons and daughters of the Justice League. The good news is that they’re every bit the heroes that their parents were, making up the Justice League of the future… the bad news is that they’ve traveled back in time to seek their parents’ help. Because as heroic as their superhero parents taught them to be, the future may be too lost for them to ever save.
If you haven’t watched this week’s Game Of Thrones, come back to this after you do because it contains MAJOR SPOILERS. You have been warned. All the rest of you probably agree that The Spoils of War was one of the most emotional episodes of the show to date. Judging from all the reactions online, at least the internet certainly thinks so.
Bored Panda has compiled a list of some of the funniest reactions to Game Of Thrones Episode 4 of Season 7, and they brilliantly capture the essence of the plot….
As any of the HBO series’s devoted fans can tell you, Game of Thrones is not a cheap production. In fact, with the budget for its most recent season coming in at more than $10 million per episode, it’s among the most expensive television shows in history. (If you have dragons in a scene, they need to destroy things . . . and that’s not cheap). But it’s not only the dragons and set designs that are costly; it’s also the costumes. There are upward of 100 people who work to ensure that each character is wearing an outfit that’s as realistic as possible. What might surprise some fans, however, is that IKEA rugs are often used as clothing.
“These capes are actually IKEA rugs,” Michele Clapton, an Emmy Award–winning designer, told an audience at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles last year. “We take anything we can,” Clapton added with a chuckle as she described the process that goes into designing medieval garb. “We cut and we shaved [the rugs] and then we added strong leather straps. . . . I want the audience to almost smell the costume.” The result is an IKEA-inspired cape that not only appears worn-in but also has the aesthetic of real medieval clothing. It remains unclear as to which IKEA rugs were used to dress the GoT characters. The next time you visit IKEA, see if you can envision Jon Snow marching into battle with a Höjerup or Alhede wrapped around his shoulders.
(19) POORFEADING. Another graduate of the Pixel Scroll Editing Academy & Grill:
About 110 million years ago in what’s now Alberta, Canada, a dinosaur resembling a 2,800-pound pineapple ended up dead in a river.
Today, that dinosaur is one of the best fossils of its kind ever found—and now, it has a name: Borealopelta markmitchelli, a plant-eating, armored dinosaur called a nodosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period. After death, its carcass ended up back-first on the muddy floor of an ancient seaway, where its front half was preserved in 3-D with extraordinary detail.
Unearthed by accident in 2011 and unveiled at Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum in May, the fossil immediately offered the world an unprecedented glimpse into the anatomy and life of armored dinosaurs.
(21) THUMBS DOWN. Carl Slaughter says If you have read the Dark Tower series, you will probably share this reviewer’s shrill disapproval of the screen adaptation.
(22) MARJORIE PRIME. This doesn’t sound too jolly.
2017 Science-Fiction Drama starring Jon Hamm, Tim Robbins, Geena Davis, and Lois Smith
About the Marjorie Prime Movie
Eighty-six-year-old Marjorie spends her final, ailing days with a computerized version of her deceased husband. With the intent to recount their life together, Marjorie’s Prime relies on the information from her and her kin to develop a more complex understanding of his history. As their interactions deepen, the family begins to develop diverging recounts of their lives, drawn into the chance to reconstruct the often painful past. Marjorie Prime is an American science-fiction film written and directed by Michael Almereyda, based on Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play of the same name.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Craig Russell, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]
Those looking forward to Star Trek Discovery’s promised streaming debut in May will have to wait even longer. According to the The Hollywood Reporter, the premiere has been pushed back right as production is due to start and CBS finishes casting and script rewrites.
“This is an ambitious project; we will be flexible on a launch date if it’s best for the show,” a CBS rep said in a statement. “We’ve said from the beginning it’s more important to do this right than to do it fast. There is also added flexibility presenting on CBS All Access, which isn’t beholden to seasonal premieres or launch windows.”
(2) WHO IS #2? A few weeks ago Theodora Goss told her Facebook readers that she was one of two Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship recipients. I have now been able to learn the name of the second recipient from a contact at the Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University Oregon.
Roxanne Samer is a postdoctoral scholar and teaching fellow in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She holds a PhD in critical studies from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. Samer coedited with William Whittington the book Gender, Sexuality, and Media: Audiences and Spectatorship, which is under contract with the University of Texas Press. She is also the editor of “Transgender Media,” a special issue of Spectator: The University of Southern California Journal of Film and Television Criticism 37.2 (Fall 2017). She will visit UO Libraries’ SCUA to do research toward fleshing out her dissertation, Receiving Feminisms: Media Cultures and Lesbian Potentiality in the 1970s, for publication as a book.
For example, from Arthur C. Clarke I learned that the ultimate destination of all humans is extinction. Even if some parts of humanity transcend reality, as in Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End, humanity as a species is destined to eventually disappear from this universe.
From Isaac Asimov I learned that even if our ultimate fate is to disappear, humanity can have an amazing ride while we exist.
From Ursula K. Le Guin I learned that culture shock can be both a way to awaken you to new intellectual horizons and to kill you….
Verse 6: There’s a blurb on the backside of the book. There’s a blurb on the backside of the book. There’s one story on the cover; inside the book’s another. There’s a blurb on the backside of the book.
Blurbage (as I like to call it) is the collection of stuff one finds on the covers of one’s novel. If you publish with a mainstream house as the Café staff does, you are not always—dare I say almost never—in control of what goes on the cover. Blurbage (as I an using the term) is composed of several parts: …
As of recent years, I’ve found myself going through dragon fatigue. Much in the same way as zombies and vampires, it feels a little bit like we hit peak dragon a while ago (pun intended). This isn’t to say that dragons can’t be great. Sure they can. Just like zombies and vampires can be brilliant from time to time, when somebody finds a really refreshing angle on them, or when we’re talking about classic texts. Just that… in fantasy, the literature of the impossible, sometimes it can feel like writers are playing it a bit too safe.
I don’t do this as much when I’m writing the first draft, but when I am editing, I will usually read everything aloud. Dialog that is unnatural, stilted, or weird is going to be obvious when you hear it, even if it looks okay when you see it.
If your family thinks you’ve gone insane, close the door or turn your radio up and get talking. Even if your writing isn’t going to get turned into an audiobook, this is still a valuable exercise to weed out stupid dialog or awkward descriptions. You don’t need to do voices, or be loud, just muttering it to yourself will usually reveal the awkward bits.
Keep in mind however, that in either format you do not want to write exactly like people talk. That’s because in real life most speakers use a lot of uhm… err… uh… pauses and brain farts.
If you write all those noises down that people make when they’re thinking of what to say, it becomes annoying for the reader. I try to use that stuff sparingly in fictional dialog, and when I do, I try to use it only when it is going to tell the reader something about that character. So if you’ve got somebody where it is important to convey their awkwardness, nervousness, or hesitancy, do it, but try not to overdo it. A realistic amount of ums and urrs will annoy readers and waste your listener’s time. Same with affections like ending every sentence with know what I’m saying? A little bit goes a long way. A good narrator is going to convey those character traits, and in written form you can convey that stuff through the story you tell around them.
Oh, and that one liner that sounded really super cool in your head? Reading it out loud will help you realize if it actually sucks.
Dick Gautier, a comic actor best known for his Tony-nominated performance as a vain rock ’n’ roll star in the Broadway musical “Bye Bye Birdie” and his recurring role as a robot with a heart on the television show “Get Smart,” died on Friday in Arcadia, Calif. He was 85.
A spokesman, Harlan Boll, said the cause was pneumonia.
Mr. Gautier had the square-jawed good looks of a leading man. But he also had a wild sense of humor — he began his career as a stand-up comedian — and for more than 50 years he was primarily a scene-stealing supporting player on sitcoms.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
January 18, 1644 — John Winthrop documented the first known unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings in North America.
One of the cuddliest holidays around has to be Winnie the Pooh Day, celebrated on the birthday of author A A Milne. It’s one special anniversary fans just can’t bear to miss! Every year, the occasion is marked with events such as teddy bears’ picnics, featuring plenty of honey on the menu.
The only remaining question is whether someone will be along in a few minutes to tell us that the author is foisting off unwonted xtianity on the public, like the last time I posted something from the calendar.
In recent weeks, scientists used NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover to examine slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges. All signs lead them to believe they’re mud cracks, which makes them the first to be confirmed on the Red Planet by the Curiosity mission.
“Even from a distance, we could see a pattern of four- and five-sided polygons that don’t look like fractures we’ve seen previously with Curiosity,” said Curiosity science team member Nathan Stein in NASA’s announcement. “It looks like what you’d see beside the road where muddy ground has dried and cracked.”
If this interpretation holds up, it would be evidence that the ancient era (three billion years ago) when these sediments were deposited included wet conditions, followed by drying. High resolution images have pointed to the existence of deltas, gullies and river valleys on Mars, which is why scientists view it as one of the places in our solar system most likely to be/have been home to alien life. (There are three others, according to NASA director of planetary science James Green).
One more note to begin with – though I participate with a lot of enjoyment in Hugo nomination and voting every year, I am philosophically convinced that there is no such thing as the “best” story – “best” piece of art, period….
The other obvious point to make is that the great bulk of these stories are those that I included in my yearly anthology. There are a few that didn’t make it, for reasons of length, contractual situation, balance, or even that I might have missed a story by the deadline for the book.
6- Post EVERY DAY. If, like me this last week, you have to go AWL, have guest posts. You’ll still lose readers and some of them won’t come back, but it’s better than dead air. (Trust me.) I don’t know why post every day works, except through “be habit forming.”
7- Police your community. I actually have had to ban very few people, but remember the “drunken uncle at the wedding.” If a poster is just there to attack and is making other people uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to ban him. He might not be doing anything wrong, but his right to express himself doesn’t trump your right to have your normal commenters enjoy themselves. Also, if the community gets in an unpleasant rut, nudge them. My commenters once, while I was asleep, misunderstood something someone posted and attacked. He got defensive and they ran him off the blog. You don’t want that, particularly if it’s someone interesting.
People who say they’re not responsible for the tone of their comment sections are disingenuous or clueless. You can police just enough, intervening to break up things just enough that you keep it from becoming a snake pit without neutering it.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]