THE UNEXPECTED. Not counting the times she was nominated for literary awards, Benjanun Sriduangkaew hasn’t been in the news here since 2017. It’s not clear she’s done anything newsworthy even now, but the fact that she’s been mentioned so often on Twitter in the past week has made people wonder why.
In 2014, Laura Mixon published a report identifying Sriduangkaew as the abusive blogger Requires Hate (among other handles), a piece which earned Mixon the 2015 Best Fan Writer Hugo.
D Franklin tweeted in this thread that the increased discussion of Sriduangkaew in the past week was specifically in response to another thread, however, yesterday there was a kind of “crossing the streams” when Elizabeth Bear tweeted, “Just so you all know, an unknown actor who is possibly Requires Hate is just about to launch a really fucking big disinformation campaign about @scottlynch78 and me. If a whole bunch of accounts you’ve never heard of start launching really wild accusations, don’t be surprised.”
Alexandra Erin tweeted a skeptical response: “Last night I blocked Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch, who both had followed me for some time after she did the equivalent of detonating a tactical nuke as a flash bomb to distract the audience, blaming all emerging accusations against her on someone her community will accept.”
While paging through the allegations, defenses, and comments from the parties’ friends and critics, something else emerged that did warrant a story.
COURTNEY MILAN. A Google search shows people have known for several years Sriduangkaew and Courtney Milan are acquainted, but this past winter Milan’s profile grew more visible after her unjust treatment by Romance Writers of America triggered member protests that led to a complete turnover in RWA leadership and a great deal of media coverage. And last week when Milan started to speak out on behalf of Sriduangkaew, and criticized the Mixon report, the connection became more interesting to people active in sff.
Milan made a general comment:
Then, responding to the last of several non-public tweets from Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s protected Twitter account, Courtney Milan threw shade on the Mixon report:
D Franklin responded:
Milan added more commentary about the Mixon report. Thread starts here.
Courtney Milan signed off the exchange with this apology:
(1) BULLISH ON JOCK. PropStore is holding an auction of alternate movie posters by Jock.
In “Poster Boy”,
“Mondo artist Jock talks us through five of his most impressive posters, all of
which are part of the Prop Store Movie Poster Auction on March 26.”
Guardians of the Galaxy
This was an idea-led design choice. That technique of cutting out the bodies was more common in old ’50s and ’60s American magazine illustration. The goal with doing that was to elevate what would just be a drawing of the characters standing there into something that’s more design-led and more interesting.
How does your poster-design process start? I think posters often work best if there’s an idea behind them, rather than just being an illustration of the characters in a cool position. For my most recent Star Wars posters, for example, I chose a scene from the films that we all know and love, but tried to present it from an angle that we haven’t seen before. The only thing about trying to come up with an idea is you can’t force it. You’ve just gotta kind of noodle and doodle until you maybe have an idea for something.
(2) A LITTLE NUDGE. The discussion here is an
example of one of the social dynamics at work on the Hugo Awards. It begins
with this tweet —
(3) LIU ADAPTATION TO SMALL SCREEN. AMC has given a two-season
pickup to Pantheon, a sff drama from Craig Silverstein. The series is based on short stories by Ken Liu.
Written by Silverstein (Turn: Washington’s Spies, Nikita), Pantheon is set in a world where uploaded consciousness is a reality. The first season centers on Maddie, a bullied teen who receives mysterious help from someone online. The stranger is soon revealed to be her recently deceased father, David, whose consciousness has been uploaded to the Cloud following an experimental destructive brain scan. David is the first of a new kind of being: an “Uploaded Intelligence” or UI, but he will not be the last, as a global conspiracy unfolds that threatens to trigger a new kind of world war.
…YouTube has canceled the sci-fi series Impulse after two seasons, making it the latest casualty in the video platform’s changing strategy for original programming. …
Impulse, developed by Jeffrey Lieber (Lost, NCIS: New Orleans) and with a pilot episode directed by executive producer Doug Liman, premiered in June 2018. It centers on 16-year-old Henrietta “Henry” Coles (Maddie Hasson), who has the ability to teleport but can’t control where she ends up. It’s based on a novel of the same title by Steven Gould.
In a sign of the challenges, Disney+ has developed then scrapped three original series in the past year: scripted comedy Muppets Live Another Day from Adam Horowitz, Eddy Kitsis and Josh Gad; Disney villains drama Book of Enchantment from Michael Seitzman; and, per sources, a never-announced Tron adaptation from John Ridley. Two other projects — TV series based on High Fidelity and Love, Simon — were moved to Hulu over their adult thematic content that executives weren’t comfortable showing on the family-friendly Disney+.
Doctor Whois unique among current popular genre series in that it’s technically been around for nearly 60 years, officially kicking off on November 23, 1963….
And that can cause issues, because 1963 was a very different time, for television and the world in general. So was 1977, when Tom Baker was starring as the Fourth Doctor. That’s when the show aired the serial “The Talons of Weng-Chiang,” starring John Bennett acting in yellowface as villain Li H’sen Chang, a stage magician aided by Mr. Sin, a cyborg from the 51st century known as the Peking Homunculus.
Yeah, it’s bad. And did we mention that, in the serial, Chinese people are referred to as “inscrutable ch**ks”? It’s very bad.
“It is really hard to watch because yellowface is so unacceptable now,” said Emma Ko, a screenwriter and spokeswoman for British East Asians in Theatre and on Screen. “When you are somebody who was called a “ch**k” in your childhood, as I have been, it is so hard to hear that word and not feel immediately a trigger reaction of how wrong it is.”…
(7) DOING WHAT COMES
SUPERNATURALLY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Michael
Koryta and Alma Katsu on Horror, Craft, and Reinvention” at CrimeReads,
horror novelists Koryta and Katsu interview each other on their new novels,
Katsu’s The Deep and Koryta’s The Chill (written as by Scott
Carson), as they ask each other about their backgrounds and how they ended up writing
Katsu has lived in the Washington D.C. area and has been a guest at Capclave.
Alma Katsu: After establishing yourself in mystery and crime, I have to ask, what drew you to horror for The Chill? What was the appeal? Does everyone secretly—or openly—love horror?
Michael Koryta: Love of the storytelling world where the past is encroaching on the present. A ghost story invites the past right in and treats it as if it never left. In my experience, that’s really how we live our lives—every move made in the present is shaped by memory, right? On individual and societal levels. The idea of kicking open a door that allows the past to wander in and be active is always appealing to me. For some reason, I’m particularly drawn to this when the natural world is involved in the story. The idea of turning on a faucet in Queens and receiving water that comes from a reservoir in the Catskills where once a town existed is both intriguing to me and fundamentally eerie. Drink up!
I don’t think everyone loves horror, which is a shame, because they should. A little paranoia is good for the soul. It seems so unimaginative to not be afraid of the dark.
What about you? Why are you writing for the warped minds like mine?
Katsu: I lived in a strangely Gothic world as a child. I grew up in a very spooky house in a spooky town in Massachusetts. The house was an old Victorian, long neglected, which meant it had all these period details that, being a Service brat, I’d never seen before. Pocket doors that disappeared into the walls, twisty stairs leading up to an attic filled with old trunks left by previous occupants. Overrun by mice, so the walls talked to you every night. Growing up in a house like that definitely cements the notion that the past is a frightening place.
(8) BLACK WIDOW FINAL TRAILER. Black Widow arrives in theaters May 1.
“At some point we all have to choose between what the world wants you to be and who you are.”
March 10, 1978 — Return from Witch Mountain premiered. The sequel to Escape to Witch Mountain, it was written by Malcolm Marmorstein and is based on were characters that created by Alexander Key who also wrote the novelization of the film. Ike Eisenmann, Kim Richards, and Denver Pyle reprise their roles from the first with Bette Davis and. Christopher Lee being the baddies here. Neither critics (40% rating) or audience (50% rating) at Rotten Tomatoes were particularly fond of it. You can see it here.
March 10, 1995 — VR.5 premiered on Fox. It featured a cast of David McCallum, Anthony Head, Lori Singer and Louise Fletcher. It was created by Jeannine Renshaw. Executive producer Thania St. John stated that in press releases, “VR.5 will try to capture that same, creepy feeling of the X-Files” which was the lead-in to this series. It lasted a total of thirteen episodes with only ten shown in its first run. There is no audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes but the aggregate critic rating is very high 75%. You can see the pilot here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 10, 1891 — Sam Jaffe. His first role was in Lost Horizon as the High Lama and much later in The Day the Earth Stood Still playing Professor Jacob Barnhardt. Later on we find him in The Dunwich Horror as Old Whateley, voicing Bookman in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, playing The Old-Man in The Tell-Tale Heart, and in his last film, appearing in Battle Beyond the Stars as Dr. Hephaestus. John Sayles wrote the script oddly enough. (Died 1984.)
Born March 10, 1905 — Richard Haydon. He’s here as he was in The Lost World, the 1960 film version, as Prof. Summerlee. He showed up in the same year in The Twilight Zone in “A Thing About Machines” as Bartlet Finchley. And he’d be Solicitor Herr Falkstein in Young Frankenstein. (Died 1985.)
Born March 10, 1918 — Theodore Cogswell. He wrote almost forty science fiction stories, most of them humorous, and was the co-author of a Trek novel, Spock, Messiah!, with Joe Spano Jr. He’s perhaps best remembered as the editor of the Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies in which writers and editors discussed their and each other’s works. A full collection of which was published during 1993 except, as EoSF notes “for one issue dealing with a particularly ugly controversy involving Walter M. Miller”. (Died 1987.)
Born March 10, 1938 — Marvin Kaye, 82. Currently the editor of Weird Tales, he has also edited magazines such as H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. The Fair Folk anthology which is most excellent and which he edited won a World Fantasy Award.
Born March 10, 1958 — Sharon Stone, 62. Damn, she’s the same age I am. She’s been in three genre films, her first being Total Recall where she played the ill-fated Lori Quaid. Her next was Sphere where she was cast as Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Halperin, and last was in, errr, Catwoman where she was Laurel Hedare, an assassin.
Born March 10, 1969 — Paget Brewster, 51. She was Jenny Spy on The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and most of her genre roles have been voice roles: Lana Lang on Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Lois Lane on Justice League: Gods and Monsters and Poison Ivy on Batman and Harley Quinn.
Born March 10, 1977 — Bree Turner, 43. She’s best known for her role as Rosalee on Grimm. She also starred in the pilot episode (“Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”) of Masters of Horror. She was in Jekyll + Hyde as Martha Utterson. Confession time: I got through maybe three seasons of Grimm before giving up as it became increasingly silly.
Born March 10, 1979 — Fonda Lee, 41. Her Jade City novel was a finalist for a Nebula Award for Best Novel and won a World Fantasy Award. Its sequel. Jade War, was published last year. And her Cross Fire novel was named Best YA Novel at the 2019 Aurora Awards for best Canadian speculative fiction.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Macanudo is making perfect sense interpreting a Philip Dick title!
[…] Meanwhile, lawmakers were given new instructions on how to protect themselves at the Capitol, with the House’s attending physician asking them to stop shaking hands or touching people during greetings — he recommended the split-fingers Star Trek greeting instead.
Slowly but surely, we’re starting to find out more about the Lord of the Rings TV show. Amazon’s series – the rights for which are rumoured to have cost the streaming service $250 million – may not yet have a release date, but there’s plenty of information out there: cast members, filming location, and news of a second season renewal have all been revealed.
Whether you’re a Tolkien diehard or someone who’s just eager to head back to Middle-Earth after watching the movies, we’ll break down what to expect from the Lord of the Rings TV show below. To Mordor!
Billy Bane is a prophet who got it all wrong, and the galaxy has been burning ever since. All he wants is to waste away in the darkest corner of space with his best pal Dust, a supercharged Fuq bot. But when a new prophet comes calling, Billy is summoned to save the galaxy he’s at least partially responsible for destroying.
Too bad he couldn’t care less.
Michael Moreci (Roche Limit, Wonder Woman, Black Star Renegades) and Hayden Sherman (The Few, Cold War, John Carter: The End) have thrown Philip K. Dick in a blender with Preacher. Take a sip and get wasted.
(16) AHMED’S LATEST. Coming from Marvel in June:
MARVELS SNAPSHOTS: CIVIL WAR #1
Written by SALADIN AHMED; Art by RYAN KELLY; Cover by ALEX ROSS
In the heart of the Civil War event, a human story unfolds. A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, doing his best to do the job with honor—but is that even possible? A young, low-level Super Hero, trying to help his neighbors—but that’s not even legal any more. The two come together in a story that’ll test their commitment, ideals, hopes, and dreams.
Featuring Captain America, Giant-Man, Maria Hill, and more, Kurt Busiek recruits Hugo-Award-winning writer Saladin Ahmed and all-star Ryan Kelly to uniquely retell this iconic Marvel story.
(17) DON’T LOSE THAT NUMBER. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Evidently,
speculative fiction is gaining traction within many music communities. William
Gibson was asked by Wire Magazine,
which is one of the leading underground music magazines (behind a paywall), to
take part in the Invisible Jukebox and identify a series of recordings by ear
Invisible Jukebox: William Gibson: Can the visionary science fiction author hack The Wire’s mystery record selection? Tested by Emily Bick…
[(from The Royal Scam [ABC 1976]).
“Kid Charlemagne. I have it on my iPhone.
You’re a real Steely Dan fan, right?
Yeah, I was a Steely Dan fan from the day the 45 “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” came out and continue to be this day. Lyrically, it was unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and it continues to be. Back in the later 80s I would be in the supermarket shopping. Sometimes I’d be the only male shopper, and “Hey Nineteen” would come on the Muzak. And so I’m listening to this, and looking around me are all these lovely young mothers, and I’m thinking holy shit, does nobody scan the stuff for what the lyrics mean, because this is the most deliberately sexually perverse and shocking material. Sometimes I hear younger people say, “Oh, Steely Dan. Everything’s been sanded off. It’s all smooth, it doesn’t sound like human beings are making it.” And then when you listen to the lyrics….
They got their name from a double-headed dildo, so you really can’t expect much else.
….That days were shorter tens of millions of years ago is hardly a revelation. The new study is important in that it improves the accuracy of pre-existing estimates, while providing a new way of studying the past.
“Previous estimates were based on counting daily laminae [growth layers] similar to the ones we did chemical analyses on,” de Winter told Gizmodo. “This [previous] counting yielded roughly the same number of days per year, but with different countings yielding differences up to 10 days due to human error and the difficulty in recognizing daily layers by eye.”
Key to the research was a single fossil shell belonging to Torreites sanchezi, a rudist clam. Now extinct, rudists were shaped like boxes, tubes, and rings, and they filled an ecological niche currently occupied by coral reefs. T. sanchezi grew very quickly as far as hinged, or bivalve, mollusks are concerned, exhibiting thin layers of daily growth rings.
Here’s a new view of Anak Krakatau, the collapsed Indonesian volcano that generated the 22 December tsunami that devastated local coastlines.
The picture was assembled from radar images acquired on Wednesday by the ICEYE-X2 satellite.
This is a small innovative spacecraft from Finland that will soon be part of a large orbiting network of sensors.
The volcano continues to evolve, following the cone’s catastrophic failure.
Its original height of 340m was reduced to just 110m in the disaster, but further eruptions have since begun to re-model the remnant structure.
“This image indicates the edifice is in a building phase, with the crater no longer connected to the sea as it was in images from a week or so ago,” observed Prof Andy Hooper from Leeds University, UK.
… In The Postman Always Rings Twice, for example, the fictional Twin Oaks Tavern is at the center of much of the action. The story in Cain’s debut novel revolves around the tavern’s owner, Nick Papadakis (“the Greek”), his younger wife, Cora, and Frank Chambers, a drifter they hire to help out at the place; Cora and Frank get involved and conspire to kill the Greek. The Twin Oaks is a roadhouse in the mountains above L.A., with a gas station and motel joining a restaurant to make Papadakis’s little empire. Places like that were common in the 1930s and ’40s but aren’t today, so the few that are left are treasures. Newcomb’s Ranch is one of them.
Newcomb’s opened in what is now the Angeles National Forest in 1939, only a few years after Cain wrote Postman. It’s a cheery, ranch-style wooden building set among pines, on winding Angeles Crest Highway about an hour north of Glendale, where the Papadakises would travel to do their shopping.
Newcomb’s Ranch is a popular weekend destination for motorcyclists who stop for lunch after roaring up Angeles Crest Highway, and I enjoyed the drive up as much as they do. It’s a gorgeous journey into the San Gabriel Mountains; if you go in winter, you might be fortunate enough to encounter trees flocked with snow and low-hanging clouds settling around the peaks.
[Thanks to Rich Horton, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, rcade, Chip
Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel
Dern, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Contrarius.]
Isabel Fall’s short story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” in the January Clarkesworld, the subject of intense discussion on Twitter this week, was removed from the magazine’s website today at the author’s request.
Phoebe North supports the story and author in “An Open Letter” at Medium, an autobiographical essay that concludes:
Whatever you decide to do with your story, Isabel, thank you for writing your story. Thank you for making me feel seen and heard. We don’t get a lot of ourselves in fiction. We often only get scraps. This was more than that. A mirror.
Berry Grass believes the story has shortcomings, but aligns more with those who consider it to be thought-provoking. Thread starts here.
Carmen Maria Machado wrote a long, thoughtful thread about provocative stories in the context of art and literature, but while I was editing this together she locked her tweets to all but followers so those are not available to quote.
Malcolm F. Cross criticizes the story as having shortcomings as MilSF, too, but marks out more territory on the art vs. harm map. Thread starts here.
Warren Adams-Ockrassa’s thread seems to say that whatever the writer’s goal was, they should have handled it differently. Starts here.
PULLING THE STORY.
Cat Rambo is sorry the story was pulled. Thread starts here.
One of several eye-opening comments on Rambo’s thread:
ROLE OF AN EDITOR.
Setsu U finds the discussion about the story connects with many questions and concerns they are responsible for as an editor. Thread starts here.
Several people have been circulating screenshots of a statement that’s represented as giving background about the story and author. I have neither found the source of the original post, nor confirmation that it is from a Clarkesworld spokesperson, so I am not posting these but you can find a copy here.
Alexandra Erin on why she won’t read the story. Thread starts here.
Cheryl Morgan says she hasn’t read the story, however, offered advice for holding the discussion. Thread starts here. Some of her points are —
There’s extended discussion at Metafilter. As a whole, I thought I learned more just by searching “Clarkesworld” on Twitter.
(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.]
A massive blaze…devastated large parts of the 850-year-old church. While the fire is now under control, the cathedral’s iconic spire fell during the hours it took to battle the blaze.
Many sff fans and writers who’ve been there reminisced about their visits in social media, including Samuel Delany —
Like many folks, I climbed to the top of Notra Dame myself on my first trip to Paris with Ron Helstrom and Bill Balousiac. As well, we were staying on the Ilse St.-Louis in the hotel next to the Hotel Olinda, which was rumoured (in Arthur and Hope Fromers Europe on Five Dollars a Day) to be the cheapest hotel in Paris. It was a trip and a half! Some of it was reflected in my novel NOVA.
…SFWA President Cat Rambo said, “When we talk about fantasy and science fiction writers who were true virtuosos, Wolfe is one of the foremost among them, and I was honored to be at the 2013 Nebula Conference where he was made a SFWA Grand Master. His Book of the New Sun is a revelation to me every time I go back to reread it and his clear, thoughtful, ever-incisive voice will be sorely missed. This year has claimed several giants in the field, and Gene is most assuredly one whose loss will hit hard across the F&SF community.”
After much consideration, I’ve decided that Apex Magazine will go on an indefinite hiatus. Our last new issue will be 120–the Afrofuturism issue guest edited by Maurice Broaddus. It’s filled with incredible, diverse work and a fitting sendoff for our zine.
Why stop now?
The last few months have been difficult for me both mentally and physically. This leads to soul searching. And that leads to life decisions. One thing that became obvious to me is that I was neglecting both myself and the book side of Apex. I need to take time to exercise, take some time for my health, do more things for fun, enjoy having my kids around before they leave for college in a few years. I need time to read more books! And on the book side of Apex, I had been failing to do the minimum for success because so much of my time was being poured into Apex Magazine. The magazine flourished, while the books languished.
A flourishing magazine is a great thing, but the profit ceiling for an online zine is disturbingly low. One small press book that does really well (like, for example, Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt) will make 25 times the profit of the zine in a year.
It comes down to health and economics and family. Like most decisions in life.
… And a reminder … this is an extended hiatus, not a permanent closure. I’m a man of whims, unfortunately. After I ended Apex Digest, it was two years later that I decided I wanted to do Apex Magazine. In two years, if Apex Book Company is going strong, don’t be surprised if I have the itch to reopen the zine.
… Lesley Conner and I have not turned our backs on genre short fiction. We plan to do an open call anthology each year that will contain nearly as many words of short fiction as a whole year’s worth of zines. Keep your eyes open for our next project….
McEwan has an abiding faith that novels are the best place to examine such ethical dilemmas, though he has little time for conventional science fiction. “There could be an opening of a mental space for novelists to explore this future, not in terms of travelling at 10 times the speed of light in anti-gravity boots, but in actually looking at the human dilemmas of being close up to something that you know to be artificial but which thinks like you. If a machine seems like a human or you can’t tell the difference, then you’d jolly well better start thinking about whether it has responsibilities and rights and all the rest.”
However, as the humor was unintentional, it took D Franklin’s help for it to fully register–
Whether born here or abroad, all pandas belong to China. The zoo said successful breeding and an increased awareness of conservation helped boost the wild population of pandas in China to around 2,000, downgrading the panda from “endangered” status to “vulnerable” in 2016.
Building bonds of trust with the pandas has allowed zookeepers to perform some medical tests without having to subject the animals to anesthesia. It’s also helping them crate-train the pandas for their journey back to China. Their new home will be the Chinese Conservation and Research Center, where other former San Diego pandas now live.
We’ve noted that some of our members have reported issues with AirBnB cancellations. We are sorry that is happening. Many of our own team are booked into AirBnB and it is an affordable option in most cases.
Unfortunately, on the 1st of June this year new legislation is supposed to come into effect that will severely limit the ability for Dublin houses and apartments to be rented out for short-term lets if they were not specifically built for the short-term market (i.e. the Key Collection and StayCity apartments that are part of the convention block are permitted).
The exception to this will probably be if the house/apartment is a person’s primary residence and then only if either let out for a maximum of 90 days per annum, and for a 14-day maximum period, or if the entire property is not rented out (i.e homeshare accommodation).
As of yet we do not know the full legislation, as it is still with the Dáil (the Irish legislature) so we cannot even be sure if the new legislation will grandfather in existing bookings.
More details at the link.
(7) AVENGERS ATTENTION
DEFICIT. Daniel Dern says, “This isn’t a spoiler
if you’ve seen the Avengers: Endgame.
It makes more sense if you have seen the recent Captain Marvel movie, all the way to the very end (final ‘Easter
I was (re)watching The Avengers: Infinity War movie over the weekend, and the last few seconds of the final E. Egg had Nick Fury reach for something from a pocket, and dropped it as he went all Thanos-finger-crumbling-black-dusties. The camera view pans down, showing [ROT-13][ n oyvaxvat qbbuvpxrl jvgu gur Pncgnva Zneiry ybtb ba vg.”
Like I said, not a spoiler if you’re up-to-date in trailer and prior movie watching. But wouldn’t have been as noticeable a point, when Avengers: Infinity War first came out, other than ‘if that’s the last few seconds of the movie, it probably is significant.’
(8) FRID OBIT. Dark Shadows’s actor Jonathan Frid died April 13,2012. (Never mind….) The Los Angeles Times reported at the time —
Jonathan Frid, whose portrayal of charismatic vampire Barnabas Collins in the supernatural soap opera “Dark Shadows” turned the classically trained actor into a pop-culture star in the late 1960s, has died. He was 87.
… The campy daytime soap was a year old and struggling in the ratings in 1967 when series creator Dan Curtis took his daughter’s advice to “make it scarier.” He introduced Barnabas Collins, and the ratings took off.
Curtis intended Barnabas to be a short-term villain but soon realized that the Shakespearean actor “brought a very gothic, romantic quality” to the role, Curtis later said. Frid remained on the ABC show until it left the air in 1971.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 15, 1906 — Erroll Collins. British writer whose early Forties Mariners of Space is reminiscent of early Heinlein in its plot and solar system wide setting. Serialised in Boy’s Own Paper, it would come out later in hardback. Other genre novels include Submarine City, The Black Dwarf of Mongolia, Pirates in Space and A Spot on the Sun. (Died 1991.)
Born April 15, 1908 — Howard Browne. I’m going to call him a pulp writer for lack of a better term. Some of his work appeared over the pseudonyms John Evans, Alexander Blade, Lawrence Chandler, Ivar Jorgensen, and Lee Francis which makes it difficult to say just what he wrote. I’m reasonably sure that under various names that these are his genre novels: Return to Liliput, Forgotten Worlds and The Return of Tharn. He also was a prolific scriptwriter, mostly westerns and cop shows, but he did several Mission Impossible scripts. (Died 1999.)
Born April 15, 1926 — Homer Nearing. He is best known for his Professor Cleanth Penn Ransom series published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the early Fifties. One story, “The Neurotic Rose”, ran in the April 1956 issue of Fantastic Universe. Some of the stories formed a fix-up novel called The Sinister Researches of C.P. Ransom. (Died 2004.)
Born April 15, 1940 — Robert Walker, 79. Ahhh, the Charlie Evan character in the first season “Charlie X” Star Trek episode in which yet another child gets to be a badly behaving godling. I really don’t know what I think of this episode but do know the actor was rather good in his ability to wring sense out of Fontana’s script. Walker didn’t do much else for genre work, showing up on The Time Tunnel as Billy the Kid, Bobby Hartford in Beware! The Blob, the sequel to The Blob, and in The Devonsville Terror as Matthew Pendleton.
Born April 15, 1947 — Deborah J. Ross, 72. A friend of Marion Zimmer Bradley, she’d edited and contributed a story to the first of Sword and Sorceress series which lasted thirty volumes. Much of her fiction is set in the Darkover universe with an original series,The Seven-Petaled Shield, underway as well. She’s also edited two Lace and Blade anthologies which have such contributors as Tanith Lee and Diana Paxton.
Born April 15, 1952 — Glenn Shadix. He shows up in two of my favorite genre films, Beetlejuice and Demolition Man. His other genre films were Sleepwalkers, Multiplicity and Planet of the Apes. (Died 2010.)
Born April 15, 1959 — Emma Thompson, 60. Professor Sybill Trelawney, Harry Potter franchise. Men in Black 3 and Men in Black: International as Agent O, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle as Polynesia, Beauty and the Beast as Mrs. Potts and Treasure Planet voicing Captain Amelia.
Born April 15, 1974 — Jim C. Hines, 45. [Entry by Paul Weimer.] Writer, and blogger. Jim C. Hines’ first published novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Jim went on to write the Princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. He’s also the author of the Magic ex Libris books, my personal favorite, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who happens to have the same pet fire-spider lifted from the Goblin novels as his best friend. He’s currently writing his first foray into science fiction novels, the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. Jim’s novels usually have the fun and humor dials set on medium to high. Jim is also an active blogger on a variety of topics and won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.
Born April 15, 1990 — Emma Watson, 29. Hermione Grangerin the Harry Potter film franchise. Belle in the live-action Beauty and the Beast. And the voice of Prince Pea in The Tale of Despereaux.
Born April 15, 1997 — Maisie Williams, 22. She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. She is Ashildr, a Viking woman of unique skills, the principal character of a story line, during the time of Twelfth Doctor. She is set to star as Wolfsbane in the forthcoming Marvel film New Mutants.
If you’re also on team Peeps, know that the candy company has released several new flavors this year, including Pancakes & Syrup and Root Beer Float, which you can learn more about here. As for the rest of America’s candy preferences, check out the full state-by-state breakdown below:
…This was a dark time for England. Specifically it was around 10 pm in November. I needed more light so I filled the bath full of kerosene and set light to it. And for the simple crime of wanting enough light to read by I was thrown upon the mercy of England’s archaic criminal justice system…
When Merdis Wells visited the diabetes clinic at the University Medical Center in New Orleans about a year ago, a nurse practitioner checked her eyes to look for signs of diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of blindness.
At her next visit, in February of this year, artificial intelligence software made the call.
The clinic had just installed a system that’s designed to identify patients who need follow-up attention.
The Food and Drug Administration cleared the system — called IDx-DR — for use in 2018. The agency said it was the first time it had authorized the marketing of a device that makes a screening decision without a clinician having to get involved in the interpretation.
It’s a harbinger of things to come. Companies are rapidly developing software to supplement or even replace doctors for certain tasks. And the FDA, accustomed to approving drugs and clearing medical devices, is now figuring out how to make sure computer algorithms are safe and effective.
Is workplace surveillance about improving productivity or simply a way to control staff and weed out poor performers?
Courtney Hagen Ford, 34, left her job working as a bank teller because she found the surveillance she was under was “dehumanising”.
Her employer logged her keystrokes and used software to monitor how many of the customers she helped went on to take out loans and fee-paying accounts.
“The sales pressure was relentless,” she recalls. “The totality was horrible.”
She decided selling fast food would be better, but ironically, left the bank to do a doctorate in surveillance technology.
Courtney is not alone in her dislike of this kind of surveillance, but it’s on the rise around the world as firms look to squeeze more productivity from their workers and become more efficient.
(14) JEDI GAME. There’s a new trailer out for the video
game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Cal Kestis—one of the last surviving members of the Jedi Order after the purge of Order 66—is now a Padawan on the run. Experience this all-new single-player Star Wars™ story from Respawn Entertainment and EA Star Wars on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC this holiday season, 15 November 2019.
(15) REY PARADE. Holy cats
– there’s no end of them! Is this some kind of Escher thing? No, it’s the Rey
Meetup at last week’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago.
(16) BOXING DAY. I love
work. I could watch other people do it for hours. (Or robots.) “Handle Robot Reimagined for
Logistics” is a new video from Boston Dynamics in which a bird-like robot
picks up and stacks boxes.
Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Standback, Dann, John King
Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
(1) DIANE DUANE’S GOOD NEWS. An appeal signal-boosted here yielded enough book sales to save the Duane/Morwood home. As she wrote in a comment —
Hi folks! Diane Duane here.
I noted this morning that visitors have been arriving at the Ebooks Direct store from here. I just wanted to let everyone know that the astonishing generosity of customers and donors has meant that our problem has been completely solved in A SINGLE DAY. To say that Peter and I are gobsmacked — not to mention amazed and overwhelmed and unutterably relieved by the sudden removal of a difficulty that’s been hanging albatross-like around our creative lives for what seems like forever — would be putting if mildly. If you were involved in assisting with this… THANK YOU! (And meanwhile we’re leaving the sale running, because what the heck, everybody likes a sale…) Best! D.
Who needs boring English? Once you discover how to flirt in sci-fi speak, you’ll be making out to the Star Wars or Star Trek theme song in no time. Well, that’s the idea….
My love of speaking sci-fi goes way back. As a kid, I thought I could talk droid like R2-D2 and began to randomly beep at my classmates in elementary school — until a confused teacher pulled me aside to ask if I was OK. Later, when I worked as a senior editor for the Lucasfilm site StarWars.com, part of my job was to become familiar with phrases spoken by characters like Chewbacca, Jabba the Hutt, Greedo, Wicket the Ewok and Jawas.
While I did end up marrying R2-D2, it’s not as easy to master a sci-fi language as it looks. It took awhile just to decipher the difference between the high-pitched sounds of Jawas and Ewoks and the deeper, guttural utterances of Jabba the Hutt and Chewbacca. But with patience, and the help of repeat Star Wars film viewings and books like the “Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide,” I got there.
(3) HAVE SCARF, WILL TRAVEL. James Bacon is visiting this side of the pond. He snapped a selfie on the plane:
…While I understand that this kind of thing has been an increasing concern in recent years, I understand that this is happening right now as a result of the actions and internal company employee reactions and concerns reported by Bleeding Cool over artist Ethan Van Sciver‘s social media activity. Concern has been expressed from the top, from President Diane Nelson, down to fellow freelance creators….
DC’s memo begins:
Dear DC Talent Community –
The comic book industry is a very special creative community dedicated to telling epic and legendary stories of action, heroism and intrigue with a rich and diverse portfolio of characters. Both DC’s employees, as well as its extended family of freelance talent, contribute to our success and are direct reflections of our company, characters and comics.
As such, DC expects that its employees and freelance talent community maintain a high level of professionalism as well as reasonable and respectful behavior when engaging in online activities. Comments that may be considered defamatory, libelous, discriminatory, harassing, hateful, or that incite violence are unacceptable and may result in civil or criminal action.
In addition, comments that may be considered insulting, cruel, rude, crass and mean spirited are against company policy and guidelines. We ask, and expect, that you will help to create an online environment that is inclusive, supportive and safe.
Below you will find the most current version of the company’s social media guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact DC Talent Relations department so that we can be of assistance.
The full text of the guidelines can be read at the Bleeding Cool link.
(5) TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR TEENS: The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), announced its list of 2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, with 115 titles. The list is presented annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The books, recommended for those ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens. The cumulative list can be viewed at www.ala.org/yalsa/great-graphic-novels.
In addition to the full 2018 list, the committee chose the following titles as its top ten:
The Backstagers. By James Tynion IV. Illus. by Rian Sygh. 2017. BOOM! Studios. (9781608869930).
Black Hammer, Volume 1: Secret Origins. By Jeff Lemire. Illus. by Dean Ormston. 2017. Dark Horse. (9781616557867).
Brave. By Svetlana Chmakova. Illus. by the author. 2017. Yen Press. (9780316363189).
I Am Alfonso Jones. By Tony Medina. Illus. by Stacey Robison and John Jennings. 2017. Tu Books. (9781620142639).
Jonesy. By Sam Humprhies. Illus. by Caitlin Rose Boyle.
v.1. 2016. BOOM! Studios. (9781608868834).
v.2. BOOM! Studios. (9781608869992).
v.3. BOOM! Studios. (9781684150168).
Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation. By Damian Duffy and Octavia E. Butler. Illus. by John Jennings. 2017. Abrams ComicArts. (9781419709470).
Lighter than My Shadow. By Katie Green. Illus. by the author. 2017. Lion Forge. (9781941302415).
My Brother’s Husband. By Gengoroh Tagame. Illus. by Gengoroh Tagame. 2017. Pantheon Books. (9781101871515).
Pashmina. By Nidhi Chanani. Illus. by Nidhi Chanani. 2017. First Second. (9781626720879).
Spill Zone. By Scott Westerfeld. Illus. by Alex Puvilland. 2017. First Second. (9781596439368).
The New York Times killed its graphic novel bestseller list last year, and comics creators want it back. Over the past few days, hundreds have signed an open letter asking for the list to be reinstated, claiming the Times is causing damage to their industry.
When the Times canceled the bestseller list in January 2017, the decision was met with immediate criticism. Comics and graphic novels are more culturally relevant than ever, but the industry still relies on mainstream media outlets like the Times to find new readers. And as Polygon pointed out, the paper continued to publish much more specific lists like “Children’s Young Adult Hardcover Chapter Books” and “Advice Miscellaneous.”
In the words of the open letter, creators and publishers have “watched their readership decline” since the list was removed.
Lace and Blade is an anthology series featuring stories with a particular look-and-feel — a flavor of romantic, elegant, swashbuckling sword and sorcery, across a wide array of eras and cultures. (Alpennia is a perfect setting for this sort of tale.) If you want an collection of stories that’s perfect for Valentine’s day (or any day of the year, for that matter), check it out!
The winners for the 2017 Cybils Literary Award for Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction have been announced. The awards recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. Categories with winners of genre interest are listed below.
Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels: Where’s Halmoni?, by Julie Kim
Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis
Young Adult Graphic Novels: Spill Zone, by Scott Westerfeld
Young Adult Speculative Fiction: Scythe, by Neal Shusterman
(9) VICTOR MILAN. George R.R. Martin posted a tribute to his late friend and colleague – “Another Ace Falls”.
Our writing community here in New Mexico, and the world of SF and fantasy in general, took a blow this afternoon when our friend Victor Milan died after two months of suffering and struggle in a series of Albuquerque hospitals.
I first met Vic not long after I moved to Santa Fe in 1979. Outgoing, funny, friendly, and incredibly bright, he was one of the cornerstones of the New Mexico SF crowd for decades, a regular at Bubonicon in Albuquerque, the perennial masquerade host at Archon in St. Louis, a fan, a lover of ferrets and collector of guns, a gamer (I can’t tell you how many times we stayed up till dawn playing Superworld, Call of Cthulhu, and other RPGs with Vic, and laughing at the outrageous antics of the characters he created). But above all, he was a writer.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
February 14, 1959 — Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
February 14, 1976 — The Bionic Woman aired its first episode on TV.
The process of naming a new public gathering space carved from the remnants of the former ASARCO smelting operation has sparked the parallel recognition of a pioneering African-American jurist, the late U.S. District Court Judge Jack Tanner.
On Monday, Feb. 12, the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners concluded a lengthy public process by naming the 11-acre waterfront site on the breakwater peninsula in honor of science fiction writer Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel “Dune” and its five sequels.
The board approved the name Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park for the highly anticipated space that’s still under construction around the Tacoma Yacht Club boat basin. In addition, a winding, paved pedestrian loop also being built on the site has been named Frank Herbert Trail. Both are tentatively scheduled to open to the public later this year.
… The chosen names for the breakwater peninsula area were recommended by a Metro Parks committee of staff members who reviewed more than 500 recommendations submitted by the public last summer. Of those, about 300 were related to Herbert or “Dune.” Tanner’s name also was highly rated among the publicly submitted recommendations.
Perhaps appropriate for the month, GigaNotoSaurus brings a rather romantic piece for its February release. Or, at least, a story very interested in love and trust, hope and freedom. It’s a story that features two very different characters finding a common language, a common purpose, and staying true to each other in order to do something they couldn’t do alone. It’s a touching and beautiful piece, for all that it’s dominated by the weight of captivity and the desire for release. But before I spoil everything, let’s get to the review!
My Shattersnipe blog turns ten years old in May this year, which is a genuinely startling milestone to contemplate. The idea of my one day being invited to participate in something like the Shadow Clarke jury wouldn’t have occurred to me a decade ago. Though my first novel was years from being accepted and published when I started Shattersnipe, my aim was still to become a fantasy author, which is why I opted to blog under my own name. Even so, I had no sense that I might end up being paid or known for my essays there: it was just an extension of what I’d always done, a way to keep myself occupied. I’ve changed a lot since I started it, as has my writing; as, for that matter, have my opinions about writing. My taste in things has never been static, and while there’s something to be said for consistency, it’s my belief that critical practice, like any other discipline, should always be a sort of Theseus’s ship, willing and able to improve or change while still remaining coherent and functional.
At base, my approach to criticism is that total objectivity is impossible. Everyone has a bias, which is another way of saying that everyone has their own tastes, opinions, and context, and that rather than trying to feign objectivity by generalising those biases into an inherently limited concept of what is Normal or Traditional and therefore Good, the more honest, productive approach is to acknowledge them openly. In this way, I believe, our literary yardsticks become both more varied in terms of scope and more individually useful to the audience. Knowing that a critic dislikes steampunk, for example, gives their potential enthusiasm for a steampunk novel far more positive weight than if that dislike had hitherto been presented, not as an individual preference, but as a blanket, universalised declaration that steampunk is fundamentally Bad. In the latter case, such a critic’s praise of a book that their readership would reasonably have expected them to shun reads as a total alteration of judgement and worldview, like a political flip-flop, and is therefore made somewhat suspect. In the former case, it becomes a genuinely intriguing recommendation, that such a story was good enough to overcome their usual inclinations.
The new juror received an immediate endorsement from a Becky Chambers fan –
Well, with @fozmeadows as a juror, I'm hopeful we won't see a complete failure of critical facilities such as we did last year with Closed and Common Orbit… https://t.co/wgK41F4RVU
I knew I wanted to make it about now, not about then, but most of the time the fairytale needs “Once Upon A Time”. So, I thought, “What is the most cherished time in American history, recent American History?” I thought of 1962 because it’s when everybody is talking about the future, the space race is on and you have beautiful jet fin cars, suburban life, a TV in every house, Kennedy in the White House and Vietnam is starting to escalate, and then Kennedy’s shot, Vietnam escalates and everything kind of dies and scepticism is born. But when people say “Let’s make America great again” they’re thinking of ’62, I think. But this is if you were a WASP. If you were a minority the problems were horrible.
The literature of the fantastic is a fruitful place in which to examine gendered questions of power. People have been using it to talk about women’s place in society (and the place of gender in society) pretty much for as long as science fiction has been a recognisable genre. Joanna Russ and Ursula Le Guin are only two of the most instantly recognisable names whose work directly engaged these themes. But for all that, science fiction and fantasy—especially the pulpishly fun kind—is strangely reluctant to acknowledge a challenge to participation in demanding public life (or a physically ass-kicking one) faced primarily (though not only) by women.
Pretty sure you’ve already guessed what it is. But just to be sure—
Pregnancy. And the frequent result, parenting small children.
Judith Tarr felt the title was not a rhetorical question and answered it this way —
We work in children’s books, and we like to think we are different, somehow. We value “kindness.” The ranks of publishers are populated with women. And everyone is so nice, right?
But we aren’t different, and before we can do anything about sexual harassment, we need to face that reality. And the reality is that a culture of “kindness” can silence people who have been harassed, that women can be complicit in a culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and that the people who we work alongside, whose books we care about, who we like, can be sexual harassers.
Facing this reality is going to be ugly. But it is far uglier to pretend these problems aren’t here.
This is not intended to be some kind of lurid exposé of children’s publishing. The point of it isn’t to say that our industry is somehow special; the point is simply that we do have problems, that these problems affect people’s careers and mental health, and that we can and should take steps to solve these problems so more people do not get hurt.
(18) SHE BELONGS IN PICTURES. The Thirteenth Doctor heralds a new era for Titan Comics’ Doctor Who.
BBC Worldwide Americas and Titan Comics are excited to announce that, alongside premiering in the Doctor Who season, the Thirteenth Doctor will be debuting in comics this fall!
This brand-new ongoing comic series, written by Eisner-nominated writer Jody Houser (Orphan Black, Star Wars: Rogue One, Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Faith, Supergirl, Mother Panic) with art by fan-favorite artist Rachael Stott (The Twelfth Doctor, Motherlands) joined by colorist Enrica Angolini (Warhammer 40,000), features the Thirteenth Doctor, as played by Jodie Whittaker. The new Doctor made her first appearance on 2017’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, “Twice Upon A Time,” regenerating from Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor.
“The Phantom” (1996)> Director: Simon Wincer > Starring: Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams > Domestic box office: $17.30 million > Superpower: Extreme athleticism
(20) SFF FILM FOR VALENTINE’S DAY. “Orbit Ever After” by Jamie Magnus Stone (2013) featuring Love, Actually’s Thomas Brodie-Sangster as a smitten suitor in space.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, DMS, Mark Hepworth, Carl Slaughter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]
(1) WESTEROS IN FERMENT. John King Tarpinian found these vintage wines languishing on the shelf at Pier One Imports.
(2) THE BEST WINE YET. You’ll find the rest of Ted Gioia’s essay on Dandelion Wine at Conceptual Fiction.
These efforts reached their culmination in Bradbury’s ambitions for a big “Waukegan novel,” which he sent to his publisher at the end of 1956. Years later, the writer’s wife Maggie would mention that Dandelion Wine was Bradbury’s favorite among his books—although the author himself was more coy. “They are all my children. You can’t pick favorites when it comes to children.” But if you have any doubts about how closely Bradbury identifies with this work you need merely look at is protagonist Douglas Spaulding, whose very name makes clear that he is the author’s alter ego: Bradbury’s middle name is Douglas, and his great-grandmother’s maiden name was Spaulding. Here in Green Town, Illinois—the stand-in for Waukegan—we follow in this boy’s path during the summer of 1928.
(3) HOPS TO IT. Woodbridge, Virginia’s Heroic Ale Works has all of their beers branded as superhero characters. They brewed Escape Velocity Ale for the Escape Velocity convention sponsored by the Museum fo Science Fiction, which was held in Washington between September 1-3. See all the beer labels at the link.
You’ve tasted the beers, now get to know the stories behind the characters in the brand new, original ‘Heroic Aleworks Presents’ comics created by the owners of Heroic Aleworks, featuring artwork by talented artists from around the world.
Guillermo del Toro gave the Venice Film Festival press corps a giant hug this morning, while also tugging — hard — at heartstrings. The press is hugging back. The filmmaker’s lyrical period fairy tale The Shape Of Water was met with sustained applause (and a fair amount of tears) as the lights rose in the Sala Darsena earlier today. Reviews that have followed are glowing, and this afternoon’s press conference was slightly delayed when reporters wouldn’t stop hooting and hollering as the filmmaker and his cast took their spots on the dais.
(5) THE SHARKE BITES. Megan AM summarized her experience as a Shadow Clarke juror in “SFatigued”. A good friend sent me the link, asking for my help in identifying who she’s talking about here. Thanks, pal!
In my mind, it was the American commentary that became the strangest and most unexpected turn of events. Suddenly, people from different corners of the USian SF blogosphere–people who admitted they never cared about or even paid attention to the Clarke Award before–suddenly had a lot to say and feel about open criticism aimed at what is becoming a corporatized award process– it appearing to be an industry award, rather than the critical award it was originally intended to be– all things they knew nothing about and took no time to comprehend. These people had a lot to say, not because they cared about the Clarke, but because… they could sense that some Sharke criticism might be aimed at their faves. And rightly so.
These people had a lot to say because they are not stupid. They are intelligent people who know exactly why something that should have nothing to do with them might feel a little bit threatening:They know their faves are not actually amazing, that they are actually inherently problematic, superficial, simplistic, dumbed down, and NOT award worthy. They know it because it is just that apparent. (And hardly worth the word count the Sharke jury spent on those books). They did not want to face it. Because they need it to feel safe. (And I get that. I really do. This is, after all, an important social sphere for many people.)
But the USian defensiveness was palpable. The stale, conservative watering hole for Hollywood Tonight-style SF news updates chronicled the Sharke process while its commenters huffed and puffed and said, “not gonna even waste my breaf on it” (but still did). Massively successful workshop authors who don’t seem to read much more than other massively successful workshop authors unloaded words about how readers like me will never appreciate the art of their simplicity (and then back-patted each other for how comforting and original they all are). (Comforting AND original! In the same sentence!) The young, white, feminist LGBTQ contingent–MY PEOPLE, goddammit–missed the big picture, as usual, because they benefit from the back-scratching, because they’re afraid to demand more of publishers and writers (because they’re afraid to demand more of themselves).
(6) SF IN POLAND. Marcin Klak, the Fandom Rover, in his Polcon report, tells who won the Janusz A. Zajdel Award:
Janusz A. Zajdel Award
The ceremony of this most prestigious Polish SF award was very simple this year. It did not include any artistic performances and was in fact just an announcement of the winners. Still, as each year, it was a very important part of the con. The results are as follows:
Krzysztof Piskorski — Czterdziesci i cztery (Forty and four)
Best Short Story
Lukasz Orbitowski and Michal Cetnarowski — Wywiad z Boruta (Interview with Boruta devil)
Forget the morals that millennia of children have learned from the Hare and the Tortoise and the Fox and the Crow: Aesop would have had a greater effect with his fables if he’d put the stories into the mouths of human characters, at least according to new research from the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).
In the Canadian study, researchers read one of three stories to almost 100 children between four and six years old: Mary Packard’s Little Raccoon Learns to Share, in which anthropomorphic animals learn that sharing makes you feel good; a version of the story in which the animal illustrations were replaced with human characters; or a control book about seeds.
(8) TODAY’S DAY
Pet Rock Day
Launched in the 1970s by advertising executive Gary Dahl, the pet rock was an antithesis to those living pets in need of regular care. It did, however, come with a mean “attack” mode. For a mere $3.95 people could adopt their very own rock, supplied on a bed of hay in an well-ventilated box. Like all things, pet rocks are more expensive these days, but you could always catch a wild one for free – just remember that undomesticated rocks may be more difficult to handle.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
September 3, 1976 — Viking 2 lander touched down on Mars at Utopia Planitia.
(10) COMICS SECTION. John King Tarpinian found today’s Close To Home is a moving experience.
From his sparkling, shining star–filled entrance to his final innuendo, John Barrowman had the 7PM capacity crowd in the Hilton Grand Ballroom alternately in stitches and in awe. No one was safe from his star power. His costume designers from Elhoffer Design were the first to feel his special brand of love, being unwittingly pulled on stage to celebrate his Wonder Woman outfit, complete with sparkling cape, tiara, and booty shorts. Their designs for Barrowman never cease to shock and amaze.
(13) DRAGON AWARDS CLIPPINGS. Here are miscellaneous reports and reactions to today’s Dragon Awards announcement.
More than 8,000 fans cast ballots for Dragon Award winners among 88 properties in 15 categories covering the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming and tabletop gaming. Winners were announced on Sept. 3 at Dragon Con, which runs September 1 to September 4, 2017 in Atlanta.
In all seriousness, congrats to Cory Doctorow on his win for “Walkaway”. The sequel to “A Place Outside The Wild” — “A Place Called Hope” — should be out in six weeks or so, and then I’ll be starting work on the follow-up to “Fade”, “Night’s Black Agents.”
Congratulations to the administrators of the Dragon Awards. In just two short years, you have ascended to the pinnacle and I feel you’ve only just got started. There may not be one of those incredible Dragon Awards sitting on my mantle (yet) but I am honored and humbled by the fact that I am, and will always be, a Dragon Award Finalist.
Seth McFarlane’s new TV show The Orville is about to hit TV screens with a stellar cast including Scott Grimes, Victor Garber, Adrianne Palicki and British actor Mark Jackson. …
So how did you film your scenes? Did you pull an Andy Serkis in a motion capture suit?
No it was me in that suit, and Seth specifically wanted that. When he was doing the Ted films, he was there giving the lines and he wanted that for this show too. I have never done anything like that before, it brings its own challenges, but to get it right you have to be in the suit and match what they’re doing. What was nice about the show is that it has a retro feel, which kind of harks back to the original Star Trek with the colors and innocence. I think Isaac is classic but not like C-3PO, even though at first I thought maybe he could be like that. He’s very fluid, he’s an efficient machine rather than being rigid.
How is Seth to work with? Is it anything like you have experienced before?
He has a real respect for acting and the craft of acting, he’s a man of many talent who is very supportive. It’s very funny when you meet such a comedic genius because you think they’re going to be really funny all the time, and then you feel like you have to be funny too, and it escalates into this shit show of funniness, but he’s not like that. He’s very bright, which can be quite intimidating, and knows exactly what he wants for the show, so is good at articulating that. We actually had a wrap party a few days ago at Seth’s house up in Beverly Hills, which is obviously fantastic, but the man knows how to throw parties. He turned his entire garden, I think he’s renovating at the moment so he could, into a spaceship bar, it was extraordinary. All of the waiting staff were done up like aliens in full prosethetics and there was a full ice sculpture of a spaceship as you walked in. That was very Hollywood, I feel.
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and two crewmates made a parachute touchdown in Kazakhstan on Saturday, capping a career-total 665 days in orbit, a U.S. record.
Whitson, 57, ended an extended stay of more than nine months aboard the International Space Station, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.
”I feel great,” the biochemist said during an inflight interview on Monday. “I love working up here. It’s one of the most gratifying jobs I’ve ever had.”
During her third mission aboard the station, Whitson spent much of her time on experiments, including studies of cancerous lung tissue and bone cells. She also completed four spacewalks, adding to her six previous outings, to set a record for the most time spent spacewalking by a woman.
(16) NO WONDER. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a biopic about the creator of the comic and his marital relationship. In theaters October 13.
Details the unconventional life of Dr. William Marston, the Harvard psychologist and inventor who helped invent the modern lie detector test and created Wonder Woman in 1941. Marston was in a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth, a psychologist and inventor in her own right, and Olive Byrne, a former student who became an academic. This relationship was key to the creation of Wonder Woman, as Elizabeth and Olive’s feminist ideals were ingrained in the character from her creation. Marston died of skin cancer in 1947, but Elizabeth and Olive remained a couple and raised their and Marston’s children together. The film is said to focus on how Marston dealt with the controversy surrounding Wonder Woman’s creation.
(17) GET OUT OF JAIL FLEE. Infinity Chamber will be released September 15.
A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape and try and find his way back to the outside world that may already be wiped out
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, JJ, David Langford, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
This award is possible thanks to D Franklin, our wonderful Patron of Diversity who pledged the top pledge in our Pozible campaign!
The Defying Doomsday Award is an annual shortlist and prize. The award jury comprises Twelfth Planet Press publisher, Alisa Krasnostein, and Defying Doomsday editors, Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench. The award will grant one winner per year a cash prize of $200 in recognition of their work in disability advocacy in SFF literature.
Eligible works include non-fiction or related media exploring the subject of disability in SFF literature. Works must have been published in 2016.
The Mars Generation (Netflix, 2017): Could humanity’s future include travel to Mars? Astrophysicists and astronauts weigh in on the challenges of long-distance spaceflight and the dream of missions that could transport people to the Red Planet. Meanwhile, teenage trainees at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center immerse themselves in work toward making that dream a reality.
Available May 15
Command and Control (PBS, 2017): Building a nuclear arsenal comes with incredible risks, and most Americans may be unaware that in 1980, an accident at a nuclear missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas, nearly resulted in the detonation of a warhead 600 times more powerful than the bomb that leveled Hiroshima. Based on recently declassified documents, this fascinating glimpse into the American nuclear weapons program tracks its history, and evaluates the human errors and accidents along the way that could have doomed us all.
(4) THE BEER THAT HITCHHIKERS MADE FAMOUS. Martin Morse Wooster knows: “Short’s Brewing is notorious among beer geeks for its crazy beers. So of course they produce Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster! (It’s a really cool Space Invaders-style label.)”
(5) ANONYMOUS LONGLIST. Here’s something you don’t see every day, Edgar. An anonymous longlist for the 2017 James White Award has been announced – the titles of 17 short stories listed without the authors’ names, because the entries are still undergoing an anonymous judging process.
The administrators say the shortlist will come out within two weeks, and the winner announced soon after that.
(6) ABOARD THE QUEEN MARY. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos from StokerCon 2017 on Flickr. Below: Elizabeth Hand and Nancy Holder.
(7) WIN WWII QUICKER. Gregory Benford shares “The Big Idea” that led to his novel The Berlin Project.
… How many more concentration camp victims would have survived if the war had ended one year earlier? For one, Anne Frank. Most CC victims succumbed eventually to the rugged conditions… The difference between 1944 and 1945 as the end of the war is probably quite significant in terms of lives.
The central context for this novel came from the protagonist I chose to follow through it, Karl Cohen. I also folded in my experience of living in the US occupation of Germany in 1955-57, where my father commanded combat units.
Karl’s words made me think, because in the last year of war, whole societies collapsed. A million died each month, the Soviet Union captured many countries into subjugation, and the devastation of the Axis powers took decades to repair.
Alternative histories are ways of thinking. The entire history of nuclear weapons is interlaced with scientists considering the future, often using science fiction as a prompt. The 1913 “atomic bombs” of H. G. Wells and the Robert Heinlein and Cleve Cartmill stories in Astounding Science Fiction were indeed broadly discussed at Los Alamos –as told to me in detail by Teller.
The wartime investigation into the Astounding stories, as I depict from documents I found, now seems odd indeed. The fiction writers had no classified information at all, just good guesses. Still, this possibility was viewed as very important by the security agencies, including the FBI. As Robert Silverberg has wryly remarked, “Turning war secrets into second-rate SF stories might seem, to the dispassionate eye, a very odd way indeed of betraying one’s country.”
Karl Cohen was my father in law. In 2000 he was voted to be among the 50 most prominent American chemists of the 20th Century. But he was haunted by what he felt was his personal failure to convince the U.S. government to pursue the centrifuge approach during the war. He died in 2012 at age 99. Alas, I had only begun on the novel.
(9) SAVE YOUR MONEY. BookRiot’s Kay Taylor Rea advises which of the Best Novel Hugo finalists to buy, borrow, or bypass.
Death’s End by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
The final book in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, Death’s End really goes for broke in its attempts to be an epic tale. I struggled through it for much the same reason I struggled through the first two books: the depictions of women are by turns baffling and infuriating. If you were bothered by that in the first two novels, I warn you it’s still at issue here. The woman at the center of Death’s End, engineer Cheng Xin, is by turns patronized, deified, and vilified both by the male characters and the narrative itself. If you can ignore this, and the author’s tendency toward paragraph upon paragraph of info-dumping, there are certainly the bones of a very compelling tale of humanity’s future within these pages. The science involved is fascinating, and if you’re on the hunt for oldschool hard science fiction this might fit the bill.
Verdict: Bypass unless you’ve read the first two and have a hankering for more hard SF.
Was this really a competition? Mr. Spock is beloved by the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise and fans of Star Trek alike. Even though Williams Shatner tried to take the lead on the original series, Spock’s likability and Leonard Nimoy’s depiction made him the most popular character on one of the most popular series of all time.
(11) WESTON OBIT. G.I. Joe inventor Stan Weston died May 1. The Hollywood Reporter recalls:
When Mattel’s Barbie dolls were introduced in 1960, Weston realized boys were an untapped market for the doll industry after noting that many of them played with Ken dolls. He conceived of the idea of a military action figure and in 1963 sold what would become G.I. Joe to Hasbro. The runaway hit would go on to be one of the most enduring toy lines in history, spawning hit TV shows and films as well.
…In 1989, he was among the inaugural class for the Licensing Industry Hall of Fame, which includes notables Walt Disney, George Lucas and Jim Henson.
(12) TODAY’S DAY
Jerry Goldsmith Day
Today Oscar- and Emmy-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He scored a vast number of movies, including many genre films. Director Joe Dante, for whom Goldsmith scored Gremlins, Explorers, and Innerspace, lent impetus to the award, saying he’d been “flabbergasted” to learn Goldsmith had not already received the honor. Dante told Variety, “Any film he scored was automatically improved tenfold.”
(13) TODAY IN HISTORY
May 9, 1980 — Sean Cunningham’s Friday the 13th premieres in theatres.
May 9, 1997 – The Fifth Element is released in the U.S.
It looks like (this year, at least), when it came to getting nominated for the Hugo, longer stories definitely did better than shorter ones in the Novella category and (less dramatically) in the Novelette category, but length had no effect on short stories.
In fact, the effect is so dramatic that the longest novella published by any print magazine is shorter than the shortest novella in the Hugo finalist list!
(16) DIAL 2140. Carl Slaughter did a mini-roundup on a popular new novel.
The New Yorker described Kim Stanley Robinson as “generally acknowledged as one of the greatest living science-fiction writers.” The Atlantic described Robinson as “the gold-standard of realistic, and highly literary, science-fiction writing.” Robinson’s novels have won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Campbell awards. His body of work won the Heinlein award. He was an instructor at Clarion and the 68th World Science Fiction Convention guest of honor. Major themes in his novels: nature and culture, ecological sustainability, climate change and global warming, economic and social justice, and scientists as heroes.
“The environmental, economic, and social themes in Robinson’s oeuvre stand in marked contrast to the libertarian science fiction prevalent in much of science fiction (Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle being prominent examples), and his work has been called the most successful attempt to reach a mass audience with a left wing and anti-capitalist utopian vision since Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1974 novel, The Dispossessed.” – Wiki
Robinson’s latest novel, NewYork 2140 , which came out in March from Orbit, is about residents of New York coping the the drastic affects of climate change, namely rising sea levels.
As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.
There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear — along with the lawyers, of course.
There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home– and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine.
Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all– and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.
Praise for New York 2140:
“Science fiction is threaded everywhere through culture nowadays, and it would take an act of critical myopia to miss the fact that Robinson is one of the world’s finest working novelists, in any genre. NEW YORK 2140 is a towering novel about a genuinely grave threat to civilisation.” ? The Guardian
“An exploration of human resilience in the face of extreme pressure…starkly beautiful and fundamentally optimistic visions of technological and social change in the face of some of the worst devastation we might bring upon ourselves.” ? The Conversation
“As much a critique of contemporary capitalism, social mores and timeless human foibles, this energetic, multi-layered narrative is also a model of visionary worldbuilding.” ? RT BookReviews (Top Pick!) on New York 214
“A thoroughly enjoyable exercise in worldbuilding, written with a cleareyed love for the city’s past, present, and future.” ? Kirkus
“The tale is one of adventure, intrigue, relationships, and market forces…. The individual threads weave together into a complex story well worth the read.” ? Booklist
(17) SPINRAD REVIEWED. Rob Latham shares his qualified enthusiasm for Norman Spinrad’s The People’s Police in “An Unkempt Jeremiad” at LA Review of Books.
I would affirm that The People’s Police is a continuous pleasure to read were it not for the poor production values that persistently hobble the story. While the physical book is well designed, including an arresting dust-jacket by Michael Graziolo, the text itself is littered with distracting typos, oddly repeated words (e.g., “his vehicle had come around again to where where Luke was standing”), and passages still showing the raw compositional process (e.g., “what the upstate Holy Rollers were calling called the People’s Police”). A better job of editing would have caught these various solecisms, as well as the embarrassing fact that some anecdotes — e.g., that Huey Long built “a half-assed half-scale replica of the White House” as his governor’s mansion — are recounted twice, thus compromising their effectiveness. Every time I began to fall under the spell of Spinrad’s kooky grandiloquence, some glaring error like this would throw me out of the story. This is particularly unfortunate given that, as noted above, The People’s Police marks the author’s dogged attempt to break back into the US market after a decade of frustrations.
All in all, though, I think the novel should be well received, as it manifests most of the strengths of Spinrad’s long career….
(18) APOCALYPSE OHIO. There were a few angsty moments at the Scalzi compound today.
Power still out. Running flashlight on phone. Trying to figure which of the pets will eat me first and putting that one outside.
(20) GUARDIANS INSIDE INFO. Don’t view this unless you are ready for SPOILERS. Looper picks out Small Details In Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 Only True Fans Understood.
After all the hype, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 proved itself a worthy successor to the first film. With another Awesome Mix Tape blasting and another round of adventures for Star-Lord and his gang of unlikely heroes, Vol. 2 offered up the same mix of action and comedy fans have come to love. And like the first installment, the newest Guardians is packed with Easter eggs. Here are all the small details only true fans noticed in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Major spoilers ahead!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Roger Silverstein, Cat Eldridge, Ellen Datlow, ,Andrew Porter, Kat, Kendall, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Prominent LA architect Thom Mayne razed the longtime Cheviot Hills home and work space of Ray Bradbury to build his own home. Mayne promised the neighborhood and fans a “very, very modest” house that would honor Bradbury in its design. Now that the teardown-and-replace is nearly complete, KCRW’s Frances Anderton, host of Design & Architecture, gets a tour and assesses if the promise was met.
However, the promised fence with Bradbury quotes is there, although you really can’t make them out in this photo from LA Observed.
A metal screen, fabricated by Tom Farage, contains quotes from Ray Bradbury’s writings. The moving gate will eventually have a hedge that moves with it (photo: Frances Anderton.)
…According to an account in the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Tolkien didn’t go see Snow White until some time after its 1938 U.K. release, when he attended the animated film with [C.S.] Lewis. Lewis had previously seen the film with his brother, and definitely had some opinions. In a 1939 letter to his friend A.K. Hamilton, Lewis wrote of Snow White (and Disney himself):
Dwarfs ought to be ugly of course, but not in that way. And the dwarfs’ jazz party was pretty bad. I suppose it never occurred to the poor boob that you could give them any other kind of music. But all the terrifying bits were good, and the animals really most moving: and the use of shadows (of dwarfs and vultures) was real genius. What might not have come of it if this man had been educated–or even brought up in a decent society?
… Tolkien didn’t like the goofball dwarfs either. The Tolkien Companion notes that he found Snow White lovely, but otherwise wasn’t pleased with the dwarves. To both Tolkien and Lewis, it seemed, Disney’s dwarves were a gross simplification of a concept they held as precious….
…During this period, her depression took a dark turn, and she considered herself a failure. She had fallen and felt stuck. She even contemplated suicide. Luckily, she found it in her to seek help, and writing became an outlet. The idea for the Harry Potter series had come to her years before on a train ride from Manchester to London. She had worked on a few chapters in Portugal, but she only really found her momentum back in the UK.
Rowling finished the first two books while still on welfare benefits. The dementors introduced in the third book were inspired by her mental illness….
Right from the very start it was clear that Activision’s Call of Duty franchise had taken a bit of a wrong turn with Infinite Warfare. The initial trailer for the game was absolutely slaughtered on YouTube, and early sales indicated that the game just wasn’t striking a chord with some of its target audience. Now, Activision is admitting what we all knew: Infinite Warfare was a misstep.
In a recent earnings call with investors, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and COO Thomas Tippl revealed that the company wasn’t particularly pleased with how the game sold, or its overall reception….
What if I get queasy? Getting sick to your stomach can be a problem on zero-G airplane flights like NASA’s “Vomit Comet,” but motion sickness typically doesn’t come up until you’ve gone through several rounds of zero-G. Blue Origin’s suborbital space ride lasts only 11 minutes, with a single four-minute dose of weightlessness. “You’re going to be fine,” Bezos said.
What if I have to use the bathroom in flight? Go before you go. “Listen, if you have to pee in 11 minutes, you got problems,” Bezos said. You may have to hold it for more than 11 minutes, though, since passengers will board the spaceship a half-hour before launch.
(6) TODAY’S TRIVIA. “What, Me Worry?” Alfred E. Neuman made his debut as Mad Magazine’s mascot by appearing on the cover of The Mad Reader, a reprint paperback published in November 1954. He appeared for the first time on the magazine’s cover in issue #21 (March 1955).
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
April 26, 1956 — The Creature Walks Among Us was released.
A startling new report asserts that the first known Americans arrived much, much earlier than scientists thought — more than 100,000 years ago __ and maybe they were Neanderthals.
If true, the finding would far surpass the widely accepted date of about 15,000 years ago.
Researchers say a site in Southern California shows evidence of humanlike behavior from about 130,000 years ago, when bones and teeth of an elephantlike mastodon were evidently smashed with rocks.
The earlier date means the bone-smashers were not necessarily members of our own species, Homo sapiens. The researchers speculate that these early Californians could have instead been species known only from fossils in Europe, Africa and Asia: Neanderthals, a little-known group called Denisovans, or another human forerunner named Homo erectus.
This reminds me of my visit 40 years ago to the Calico Early Man Site where Louis (but not Mary) Leakey thought they had found evidence of equally ancient toolmaking. According to Mary, their disagreement over this contributed to their split.
A few years ago historian Roger Launius wrote “Escaping Earth: Human Spaceflight as Religion” in the journal Astropolitics. He noted the similarities between human spaceflight enthusiasts and what we understand as traditional religion. For much of the history of the space age the comparisons have often been blatant, with spaceflight leaders such as Chris Kraft and Wernher von Braun, as well as numerous political leaders such as Ronald Reagan, talking about spaceflight in quasi, or even literally religious terms. Launius observed that human spaceflight, like religion, has its immortality myths, its revered leaders and condemned villains, its sacred texts, and its rituals, rules, and shared experiences. According to Launius, “The belief system has its saints, martyrs, and demons; sacred spaces of pilgrimage and reverence; theology and creed; worship and rituals; sacred texts; and a message of salvation for humanity, as it ensures its future through expansion of civilization to other celestial bodies.”
These religious aspects can be found throughout the writings of spaceflight advocates, the self-styled missionaries of the spaceflight religion. One of the most common arguments for space settlement is to achieve immortality for humankind by moving a portion of humanity to Mars in event of catastrophe. The Space Review regularly publishes these kinds of appeals to transcendence. The advocates argue that humankind could be wiped out by natural disaster—typically a meteor strike—and settling the Moon and Mars would help avoid the species being wiped out (see “Settling space is the only sustainable reason for humans to be in space”, The Space Review, February 1, 2016). Other commonly-cited threats include man-made ones like war and environmental destruction—as if space settlers would not also face the same things in a far more fragile biosphere. The Expanse has highlighted this vulnerability and interdependence with a subplot about food production on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede collapsing because the ecosystem lacks the robustness of Earth’s complex environment.
OP: Are there themes or elements you find yourself returning to again and again in your work?
Chu: At a LonCon 3 panel, I joked that all the parents in my stories make unreasonable expectations of their children. That may be truer than I’d like. Certainly, I like to explore the notion of family in its many forms, i.e., family does not have to mean blood relation. The most interesting characters in my stories are likely either navigating relationships with their blood relatives, searching for their family, or both.
One searing scene features Offred’s memory of Aunt Lydia, the abusive headmistress who trains new Handmaids, quoting scripture and shocking the women with cattle prods. Eventually, she explains their duties as breeders. “You girls will serve the leaders of the faithful and their barren wives,” says Aunt Lydia, who cites Tinder as one source of the moral turpitude that has caused God to create the infertility crisis. “You will bear children for them. Oh! You are so lucky!”
(Atwood, who also served as a consulting producer on Hulu’s series, pops up in one scene from the first episode, where she slaps Offred for being slow to respond during an indoctrination session.)
This is a world of 1984-style paranoia and doublespeak. On the surface, it’s a placid, polite community that just happens to have black-clad guards with machine guns on every corner. But beneath that veneer is a world of grim desperation, fear and oppression. Women are stripped of husbands, children, jobs, their own money and control over their sexuality.
One of the pleasures of The Book of Joan is its take-no-prisoners disregard for genre boundaries. Its searing fusion of literary fiction and reimagined history and science-fiction thriller and eco-fantasy make it a kind of sister text to Jeff VanderMeer’s ineffable Southern Reach trilogy. Yuknavitch is a bold and ecstatic writer, wallowing in sex and filth and decay and violence and nature and love with equal relish. Fans of her previous novel, The Small Backs of Children, will recognize these themes and their treatment.
…Ricks notes that Paradise Lost is “a fierce argument about God’s justice” and that Milton’s God has been deemed inflexible and cruel. By contrast, Satan has a dark charisma (“he pleased the ear”) and a revolutionary demand for self-determination. His speech is peppered with the language of democratic governance (“free choice”, “full consent”, “the popular vote”) – and he famously declares, “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven”. Satan rejects God’s “splendid vassalage”, seeking to live:
Free, and to none accountable, preferring
Hard liberty before the easy yoke
Of servile Pomp.
(14) SOME LIKE THE LIGHTNING — SOME DON’T. Two perspectives on Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning.
TRIGGER WARNINGS for discussion of ciscentricity, allocentricity, intersexis, and gender essentialism, and for quoted anti-trans and anti-intersex slurs apply to the following essay, as well as SPOILER WARNINGS.
Too Like the Lightning has been feted and critically acclaimed, and now nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel. I read it back when it first came out, after hearing about how well it supposedly handled queerness, and especially gender in the context of queerness, from a number of people whose opinions on the topic I usually respect; I did not agree with these assessments. I’ve been asked a number of times to discuss more fully my issues with the presentation of gender in the novel, so, with the Hugo Awards now open for voting, it seems like this might be the moment, to let voters see what this particular genderqueer person thought of the presentation of gender in the book. For context, I’m a bisexual nonbinary person and my pronoun is they….
Hi! I’m trans. I’m queer. I would like to talk about trans characters who end up dead in the course of story, or queer characters who are not the heroes of the story, and why that is frequently completely all right with me; and why the frequent labeling of works as “problematic” for not portraying trans (etc.) characters as paragons of virtue is itself a problem….
Now, I can completely sympathize with someone, especially a trans or nonbinary someone, noping out of Palmer’s novel due to the use of pronouns. I am personally of the opinion that you can refuse to leisure-read a book for any reason you damn well please, and I can see why that would hit a sore spot. (To reiterate: we’re talking about leisure reading here, things you read of your own will.) But I do not agree that Palmer’s worldbuilding here was problematic, and I do not think she should have been discouraged from writing this future….
“But is it hurtful?” you ask.
I feel this is the wrong question.
Individuals are hurt by whatever hurts them. And that’s not always something an author can predict–given the number of individuals in this world that’s a losing proposition, to try to write a work that never hurts anyone. I was not hurt by Palmer’s exploration of gender and society and use of pronouns, but again, trans people are not a monolith; and I want to be clear that people who noped out of the novel because of the pronouns (or any other reason) are entirely within their rights. I do think she was doing something interesting and definitely science fictional and that that’s fine, and that she should not have been prevented from writing with this device.
(15) CLASSIC WHO. Michael O’Donnell contributes an “it’s always new to someone on the internet” news item, a Doctor Who documentary, 30 Years In The Tardis posted on Vimeo by the director Kevin Davies around a year ago. It was originally broadcast by the BBC in 1993 to celebrate the Doctor’s 30th anniversary and never repeated (although it was included with one of the Doctor Who box sets).
… “As sure as my name is Boris Karloff, this is a Thriller!” was the catchphrase associated with Thriller, the horror anthology hosted by the craggy, silver-haired Englishman who in 1960 was still the world’s most emblematic scary-movie star. Rod Serling’s nervous energy animated The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock’s laconic drawl set the tone for his eponymous suspense series. Karloff was a natural choice to join their ranks: He let viewers know what they were in for just by saying his name….
Here is the prosaic chain of events by which Thriller came to meet Weird Tales: Frye’s associate producer, Doug Benton, asked writer Charles Beaumont (The Twilight Zone) for his ideas on material to adapt for Thriller. Beaumont suggested the pulp magazine and steered Benton to superfan Forrest J. Ackerman, who owned a complete set. Ackerman wouldn’t part with his trunk of back issues but agreed to loan them to Benton, a few at a time. Benton set out to track down authors and rights, and so Thriller began to offer relatively authentic screen versions of many key Weird Tales authors: August Derleth, Harold Lawlor, Margaret St. Clair, Fredric Brown, Henry Kuttner, and Robert Bloch. Only Lovecraft was missing.
One of the last traces of old Atlantic City is the Claridge Hotel. Found on the corner of the two most expensive properties on the Monopoly board—Park Place and Boardwalk—the Claridge was known in its heyday as the “skyscraper by the sea.” Opened in 1930, it had an Art Deco opulence that wouldn’t be out of place in midtown Manhattan.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael D’Donnell, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]