— Somewhere I’ve got the CD (includes MP3 versions) of these & 6+ other Star Wars tunes he did. (Mike, happy to do an item or post with more, or we can just add thread.)
To which, in the subsequent comment, OGH said, “A post would be very welcome.” (Which, irrelevantly, calls to mind Ogden Nash’s very-short “Ode To A Baby”.)
So here, per this post’s title, is a bunch of additional Star War parodies, including a few I hadn’t known about. (Found, unsurprisingly, by simple dint of doing a web search (I use DuckDuckGo, BTW) on “Star Wars song parody” — also try using “parodies” for a slightly different yield.)
There are the really obvious ways to torch your career — rudeness to editors, for instance. And then there are the hidden trap doors. The one I am going to reveal today is truly obscure. It could be broadly described as meddling with the publication process. More specifically, you can enrage the publisher’s sales reps. Kill your book dead in one easy step! …
(2) AND DON’T BE THAT POET. F.J. Bergmann wrote and Melanie Stormm designed “How To Piss Off A Poetry Editor” for readers of SPECPO, the blog of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. Here’s the header —
(3) KGB READINGS ONLINE. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Benjamin Rosenbaum and Mike Allen Wednesday, July 15 in a YouTube livestream event. Starts at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Benjamin Rosenbaum’s short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, BSFA, Sturgeon, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards, and collected in The Ant King and Other Stories. His first novel, The Unraveling, a far-future comedy of manners and social unrest, comes out this October from Erewhon Books. His tabletop roleplaying game of Jewish historical fantasy in the shtetl, Dream Apart, was nominated for an Ennie Award. He lives near Basel, Switzerland with his family.
Mike Allen has twice been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. His horror tales are gathered in the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated collection Unseaming, and in his newest book, Aftermath of an Industrial Accident. His novella The Comforter, sequel to his Nebula Award-nominated story “The Button Bin,” just appeared in the anthology A Sinister Quartet. By day, he writes the arts column for The Roanoke (Va.) Times.
Transmitted herewith are excerpts from statements provided by members of the Barsky family regarding the incident with Hayden Barsky, age 11.
The true origins of KHAOS remain unknown….
It was published along with a response essay, “How Not to Optimize Parenthood” by Brigid Schulte, director of the Better Life Lab and author of the book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, & Play When No One Has the Time.
Most parents are well-intentioned. We try to do the right thing, hoping to spare our children at least a measure of the pain or heartache we muddled through, to smooth the rough edges of life and give them every advantage to make it in an uncertain and often cruel world.
That’s at least the hope. In practice, no one really knows how to do that. So, particularly in America, where “winning” and the self-improvement dictate to “beat yesterday” are akin to sacred commandments, we have always turned to the experts for help. What does the science say? What are the neighbors doing? What book or podcast or shiny gadget will instantly make my child’s life easier? More joyful? Miraculous? And, perhaps most importantly, better than your kid’s?…
(5) LOCKDOWN MOVIE. “Quarantine Without Ever Meeting” – Vanity Fair profiles the filmmakers. Tagline: “The actors set up lights, did their own makeup, and ran the cameras. The filmmakers advised on Zoom. Somehow…it worked.”
…While Hollywood is struggling to figure out if it’s possible to make a feature-length movie in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, this group of independent filmmakers and actors have already done it. “The whole movie has been written, produced, packaged, shot within quarantine. Now we’re in postproduction, and I had a first cut of the whole film done on Friday,” said director and cowriter Simon. As The Untitled Horror Movie nears completion, its producers are finally announcing the secret project and seeking a distributor. It appears to be the first movie created entirely within the parameters of the lockdown.
The horror comedy is about a group of needy and desperate young stars from a once-popular TV series who learn, via video conference, that their show has just been canceled. Fearing obscurity, they decide to stay in the spotlight by making a quickie horror film—but while shooting it, they perform a ritual that accidentally invokes an actual demonic spirit. Mayhem follows. “We kind of described it going into it as Scream meets For Your Consideration,” Simon said.
The card had been around since 1994, tagged “Invoke Prejudice” by the world’s most popular trading card game. It showed figures in white robes and pointed hoods — an image that evoked the Ku Klux Klan for many people.This month, the company behind “Magic: The Gathering” permanently banned that card and six others carrying labels like “Jihad” and “Pradesh Gypsies.” Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of toy giant Hasbro, acknowledged the images were “racist or culturally offensive.”
“There’s no place for racism in our game, nor anywhere else,” the company said in a statement announcing its action.
With the country roiled by tensions and protests over African Americans’ deaths at the hands of police, the issues entangling Magic and its creators are unlikely to subside soon. The fantasy game of goblins, elves, spells and more boasts some 20 million players, and in pre-pandemic times, thousands flocked to elite international tournaments with hefty prizes. Players of color say they have long felt excluded in the white- and male-dominated community from the game’s top echelons, as well as employment at the company….
(7) WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. “A Better World ?” seems to be a kind of text-based game letting players choose among “Uchronies,” a French term that partakes of alternate history but is more fantastic in nature. I racked up a lot of karma in a hurry, sad to say.
I am monolingual, which limits me to reading works in English. One of the joys of this modern, interconnected world in which we’re living is that any speculative fiction work written in another language could (in theory) be translated into English. One of my frustrations is that, generally speaking, they haven’t been. Here are five works about which I know enough to know that I’d read them if only they were translated….
(9) I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP. Olav Rokne says, “Sometimes, you just want to ask the question nobody wants.” He passed along some of the hilarious responses.
(10) CARL REINER OBIT. The creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show and straight man to Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man,” died June 29 at the age of 98. The duo won a Grammy in 1998 for their The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000. (The New York Times eulogy is here.)
He shared the lead in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and appeared in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He directed numerous movies, including several starring Steve Martin. In recent years he voiced characters in several genre animated TV shows — and Carl Reineroceros in Toy Story 4.
John King Tarpinian remembers:
He is not genre but his passing reminds me of the good old days. Back in the 80s, I was president of the largest Atari club consortium in the US. One of the members owned the Vine Street Bar & Grill. It was between Hollywood & Sunset. The first Wednesday of the month the guest jazz singer was Estelle Reiner. Ron Berinstein, club member and club owner invited me to come on Estelle’s nights to make sure the club was always full. The first time I went her husband, Carl, was also there. I learned that he always came…and that he’d have friends join them. Over the years everybody from Sid Caesar, Buck Henry, Neil Simon, Dick Van Dyke, Mel Brooks & more.
During Estelle’s break between sets Carl & whomever was also there would get up and entertain. Carl & Mel would do their 2000 Year Old Man routine but not the Ed Sullivan version but the version they’d do a parties. My ribs would be sore the next morning from laughing so hard.
Sid Caesar would come to Ray Bradbury’s plays. Imagine somebody being able to upstage Ray…who also would be laughing so hard.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
June 30, 1971 — Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory premiered. Based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel, it was directed by Mel Stuart, and produced by Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper. The screenplay was by Roald Dahl and David Seltzer. It featured Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka with a supporting cast of Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Leonard Stone and Denise Nickerson. Some critics truly loved it while others loathed it. It currently holds an 87% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 30, 1905 — Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Adamms Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.) (CE)
Born June 30, 1920 — Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con in what was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, he edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. (Died 1997.) (CE)
Born June 30, 1929 – Anie Linard, 91. Active from France, herself and with Jean Linard, in the 1950s and 1960s; fanzines Innavigable Mouth, Meuh, Vintkat, X-trap. Voted in the 1958 TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) campaign. She was, like many of us, a correspondent of Ned Brooks. I have not traced her more recently than June 1962. Anie, if you see this, salut! [JH]
Born June 30, 1935 – Jon Stopa, 85. Active with Advent publishing house, half a dozen covers including In Search of Wonder, The Eighth Stage of Fandom, and The Issue at Hand. Three stories in Astounding. Program Book for Chicon III the 20th Worldcon, and cover for its Proceedings; with wife Joni, Fan Guests of Honor at Chicon V the 49th, where I think they were in some of the Madeira tastings I assembled when I found four or five D’Oliveiras in the hotel bar. The Stopas were (Joni has left the stage) also great costumers, both as entrants and judges; there’s a YouTube of their work here. [JH]
Born June 30, 1959 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 61. Kingpin in that not terribly good or bad Daredevil film, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye. (CE)
Born June 30, 1961 — Diane Purkiss, 59. I’ve not read her Corydon Trilogy she wrote with Michael Dowling, her son, but I can say that At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things is as splendid as the title suggests it is. She’s also written Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History. (CE)
Born June 30, 1961 – Nigel Rowe, 59. Published Timeless Sands history of New Zealand fandom, then moved to Chicago. Here is a 1994 photo of him with Russell Chauvenet (who coined the word fanzine) at Corflu 11 in Virginia. A 2019 photo of him is on p. 47 of Random Jottings 20 (PDF), the Proceedings of Corflu 36 in Maryland; he’s also on the cover (back right; you may be able to make out his badge “Nigel”). Very helpful relaying paper fanzines across the seas. [JH]
Born June 30, 1961 – carl juarez, 59. No capital letters in his name. Co-edited the fanzine Apparatchik with Andy Hooper (from Apak 62), later Chunga with Hooper and Randy Byers. Here is his cover for Chunga 8. He’s on the right of the cover for Chunga 17 (PDF). Chunga credited cj as designer, the results being indeed fine. He, Byers, and Hooper were such a tripod that with Byers’ death, Chunga tottered; should it fall, may cj find his feet. [JH]
Born June 30, 1963 — Rupert S. Graves, 57. Here because he played Inspector G. Lestrade on that Sherlock series. He also appeared on Doctor Who as Riddell in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He had one-offs in The Nightmare Worlds of H. G. Wells: The Moth, Twelve Monkeys, Krypton and Return of the Saint. (CE)
Born June 30, 1966 – Penny Watson, 54. Degrees in plant taxonomy, horticultural science, biology, and floral design; “there is nothing better than getting up in the morning, heading out to your garden and picking fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, cukes, and arugula greens for breakfast.” Obsessed with dachshunds. Has trained dolphins, coached field hockey and lacrosse. Nat’l Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. Eight novels, five of them and a novella for us. [JH]
Born June 30, 1966 — Peter Outerbridge, 54. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the underrated ReGenesis series as well as being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black anda recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series. (CE)
Born June 30, 1972 — Molly Parker, 48. Maureen Robinson on the current Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The Sentinel, Highlander: The Series, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Human Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man asSister Rose / Sister Thorn. (CE)
Born June 30, 1974 – Juli Zeh, 46. A dozen novels so far, three for us. Deutscher Bücherpreis, Solothurner Literaturpreis; doctorate in international law, honorary judge at the Brandenburg constitutional court. About Schilf (“reed”, name of a character – likewise an English surname), translated into English as Dark Matter (London) and In Free Fall (New York), when a Boston Globe interviewer asked “Are you asking the reader to reconsider the nature of reality?” JZ answered “Yes, I want to take the reader on an intellectual journey”; to “Can a novel of ideas be written today, without irony?” JZ answered “As long as mankind doesn’t lose its curiosity to think about the miracles of being.” [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur shows us the first science fiction writer — and true Hard SF, even as to the medium it’s composed on.
Today’s Bizarro is not an SF comic, but one with good advice for the privileged rich kid starting a literary career.
…With that said, there’s another aspect of it, too, which I think I’ve been minimizing: it’s not just time on social media, it’s engagement when I am on it, and how social media is making me feel when I use it. The term “doomscrolling” refers to how people basically suck down fountains of bad news on their social media thanks to friends (and others) posting things they’re outraged about. It’s gotten to the point for me where, particularly on Twitter, it feels like it’s almost all doomscrolling, all the time, whether I want it to be or not.
…The BLM movement are not terrorists. They are not thugs. They are peaceful protesters, marching against industrial discrimination and system-entrenched bigotry. The demonstrators have actually caught looters and rioters and delivered them to the police.
It doesn’t matter how much the limousine-liberals preach equality if there are no serious efforts to redress the grievances of the disadvantaged.
If we truly are all in this together, then it behooves all of us to reach out to each other and create partnerships and opportunities. This isn’t preferential treatment. It’s a necessary bit of repair work to a damaged genre.
If we don’t talk about it, if we don’t take steps, if we don’t address it, then we are guilty of complicity. If the racism of the past was a product of its time, then let our attempts to redress the situation be a product of our time.
… These sets are up for preorder now from Lego at $59.99 and are set to ship on April 19.
Stormtrooper Buildable Model Helmet ($59.99; lego.com)
Boba Fett Buildable Model Helmet ($59.99; lego.com)
TIE Fighter Pilot Buildable Model Helmet ($59.99; lego.com)
With the Stormtrooper, you’re getting a 647-piece helmet-building set, complete with the blacked-out visor, two nodes on the bottom for speaking and stickers to complete the look. Similarly, the Boba Fett helmet will let you pay homage to the original Mandalorian. This set is 21 centimeters tall (a little over 8 inches) and has 625 pieces. You’ll be constructing each detail of the helmet, including the fold-down viewfinder that lets Boba easily track down his targets. (He is a bounty hunter, after all.)
This in turn reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Chris Smither, “Henry David Thoreau” riffing on (same tune) Berry’s song. Oddly, even incomprehensibly, I find NO mention of it anywhere via DuckDuckGo nor Google, even though I’ve heard Smither sing it numerous times. (I also checked his discography.
It turns out that, while I have heard Chris Smither sing this song, he wasn’t the author. That was Paul Geremia, one of Boston/Cambridge’s wonderful acoustic blues musicians.
The song is on his Self Portrait In Blues album. (And on my ~2,800-song Spotify playlist, which is how, when it came around again this morning on the guitar, as it were, I realized my mistake.)
Flying snakes like Chrysopelea paradisi, the paradise tree snake, normally live in the trees of South and Southeast Asia. There, they cruise along tree branches and, sometimes, to get to the ground or another tree, they’ll launch themselves into the air and glide down at an angle.
They undulate their serpentine bodies as they glide through the air, and it turns out that these special movements are what let these limbless creatures make such remarkable flights.
That’s according to some new research in the journal Nature Physics that involved putting motion-capture tags on seven snakes and then filming them with high-speed cameras as the snakes flew across a giant four-story-high theater.
How far they can go really depends on how high up they are when they jump, says Jake Socha at Virginia Tech, who has studied these snakes for almost a quarter-century. He recalls that one time he watched a snake start from about 30 feet up and then land nearly 70 feet away. “It was really a spectacular glide,” Socha recalls.
Part of the way the snakes do this is by flattening out their bodies, he says. But the snakes’ bodies also make wavelike movements. “The snake looks like it’s swimming in the air,” he says. “And when it’s swimming, it’s undulating.”
The nation’s largest movie theater chain is delaying its U.S. reopening until the end of July because film companies have postponed release dates of two anticipated blockbusters.
AMC Theatres announced that a first round of approximately 450 locations will resume operations two weeks later than initially planned, to coincide with the updated August release dates of Warner Brothers’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan.
“Our theatre general managers across the U.S. started working full time again today and are back in their theatres gearing up to get their buildings fully ready just a few weeks from now for moviegoers,” CEO Adam Aron said in a June 29 statement. “That happy day, when we can welcome guests back into most of our U.S. theatres, will be Thursday, July 30.”
The company said it expects its more than 600 U.S. theaters to be “essentially to full operation” by early August.
AMC Theatres made headlines earlier this month when it announced patrons will be required to wear masks, reversing course on a controversial reopening plan that had only encouraged them to do so.
For the first time, the familiar marble faces outside the New York Public Library will be obscured by masks.
Patience and Fortitude, the iconic lion sculptures guarding the 42nd Street library, are wearing face coverings to remind New Yorkers to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.
The masks arrived on June 29, and measure three feet wide by two feet tall, according to a library statement.
New York Public Library President Anthony Marx emphasized the symbolism of the aptly named lions, and said New Yorkers are similarly strong and resilient.
(22) NEVERENDING SENDUP. The Screen Junkies continue their look at oldies with an “Honest Trailer” for The Neverending Story, where they show that gloomy Germans created “a world of neverending misery.” They discovered that star Noah Hathaway subsequently played Harry Potter Jr. in Troll (1986) with Michael Moriarty playing Harry Potter Sr.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Joey Eschrich, Rich Horton, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Darrah Chavey, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to wandering minstrel of the day Cliff.]
Elaine K. Murray, Minneapolis: It was my mother’s bookstore. All the years she worked at Sears across the street she could go there and get her beloved vintage mysteries at a price she could afford. After she retired I would drive her there and buy her books for a Christmas or birthday present.
She has been gone more than five years, but I could still go there, find books from some of her favorite authors, and feel like she was still near me.
Now that’s gone forever and I can’t seem to stop crying.
(2) WRITER INDEPENDENCE DAY. Cat Rambo is teaching two online courses on the Fourth of July. Registration and cost information at the links.
The next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time.
The question isn’t how to tell a good idea from a bad one; it’s how to learn to turn any idea into a story. Come with a story idea, no matter how vague. We’ll discuss multiple ways of plotting a story based on its unique inspiration, as well as engaging in class exercises designed to hone your plotting skills. Learn how to build a roadmap for your story that will help you complete it in a class that combines discussion, lecture, and in-class writing exercises.
Next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.
Learn how to create interesting, rounded characters that your readers can identify with, whether hero or villain. We’ll cover how to write convincing interesting dialogue as well as how to flesh out a character so they come alive and help you move the story along. A combination of lecture, discussion, and in-class writing exercises will help you apply new technique immediately to your own stories.
The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is offering plenty more classes in the weeks to come. Here are two examples.
Values are not universal across all cultures, and thus what a satisfying story looks like is not limited to one model either. This course examines East Asian storytelling forms and themes, including the four-act kish?tenketsu structure, which is not based on conflict, tension, and resolution. The course will use case studies from books, films, and other mediums, and in-class exercises and games to demonstrate that elements that we consider staples of European/Western storytelling, such as the Hero’s Journey story structure, the empowerment arc, and individual heroism, are not universal across all cultures. Students will complete the course with tools to analyze the European/Western forms and themes in the stories they have written as well as templates from East Asian storytelling to explore and apply to their work.
Are you a novelist with a fascinating world? Have you thought about turning your novel into an RPG? In this class, gaming industry veteran will walk you through the ins and outs of adapting your novel to fit a gaming world. This class is customized for authors who have published at least one original novel or novella. It is not designed for adaptations of someone else’s work.
(3) MURDOCH MYSTERIES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] We are on the home stretch of, via Acorn.tv, watching the Murdoch Mysteries , and, sans spoilers, I thought I’d drop a brief note on one of the episodes we saw earlier this week, Season 13 Episode 11, “Staring Blindly into the Future”
In addition to the use of (then) new scientific techniques to solve crimes — fingerprinting, blood typing, ultraviolet to reveal bloodstains, surveillance cameras — and various legitimized/finessed tech, like a prototype hyperloop, a (larger) roomba, and more — another of the sf/fan-adjacent aspects of the show is the use of historical figures (e.g., Mark Twain, played by William Shatner).
This episode features a dozen — most of whom (all but 3, IIRC) have appeared on previous episodes throughout the season:
Svetlana Tsiolkofsky (a fictional daughter of rocketry’s Konstantin T.)
Alexander Graham Bell
Albert Einstein (previous name-dropped but not shown)
 From the CBC URL: “Set in Toronto at the dawn of the 20th century, Murdoch Mysteries is a one-hour drama series that explores the intriguing world of William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), a methodical and dashing detective who pioneers innovative forensic techniques to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.”
… I have some friends who have fucked up in how they’ve been treating women.
… I’m angry at my friends right now. I’m sad for my friends right now. I’m even more angry about and sad for the women who they have made feel unsafe, and who they have harassed, or groomed, or otherwise harmed, because it is unacceptable. I want to be a friend to my friends and I also want to chuck them off the side of the fucking boat and be done with them. I want to think there’s a way back for some of them, for the same reason there was a way back for me when I’ve fucked up before. That’s on them, and right now I don’t know how much, if any, of my personal time and credibility I want to put into helping them. I’m frustrated and I’m tired that we keep having to do this, and I’m ashamed that some of the reason we keep having to do this rests on me. I understand and accept why I need to write this piece and I also fucking resent having to, and that resentment rests solely on my friends, and me….
(6) GAMING FIGURES ACCUSED. The New York Times covered last weekend’s outpouring: “Dozens of Women in Gaming Speak Out About Sexism and Harassment”. Tagline: “After more than 70 allegations surfaced on Twitter this weekend, gaming companies and streamers responded with action. Some say it’s the beginning of real change in the industry.”
More than 70 people in the gaming industry, most of them women, have come forward with allegations of gender-based discrimination, harassment and sexual assault since Friday. They have shared their stories in statements posted to Twitter, YouTube, Twitch and the blogging platform TwitLonger.
The outpouring of stories from competitive gamers and streamers, who broadcast their gameplay on platforms like Twitch for money, led to the resignation of the C.E.O. of a prominent talent management company for streamers and a moment of reflection for an industry that has often contended with sexism, bullying and allegations of abuse.
Already, the response has been a far cry from Gamergate in 2014, when women faced threats of death and sexual assault for critiquing the industry’s male-dominated, sexist culture. Now, some are optimistic that real change could come.
Gamers began sharing their stories after a Twitter user who posts as Hollowtide tweeted about an unnamed “top” player of the online game Destiny on Friday night, referring to the person as a “scum lord.” Three female streamers, JewelsVerne, SheSnaps and SchviftyFive, saw the post and decided to come forward about their experiences with the gamer in question, who is known online both as Lono and SayNoToRage. The women posted their allegations, including nonconsensual touching, propositioning for sex and harassment, on Twitter using their streamer handles. (The streamers did not provide their legal names to The New York Times. In years past, women gamers who have spoken out against the industry using their legal names have been subjected to further harassment, hacking and doxxing.)
In interviews with The Times, when asked to describe their experiences with Lono, the streamers asked a reporter to refer to their public statements on Twitter, TwitLonger and Twitch.
Lono responded to their Twitter accusations in a YouTube video posted on Saturday. “There is no excuse for my behavior. There is no way to gloss over it. The things I did were unacceptable,” he said in the video. “Being inappropriate with these people robbed them of their sense of safety and security and it broke trust, and I am deeply sorry.” (He declined to speak to a reporter from The Times on Monday, and would not share his last name.)
…Based on the highly-conditioned, controlled, and warped population in Huxley’s 1932 novel, this society is a tragic one in need of resistance. So why not John? And, as the new posters for the series declare, “everybody happy now.” The grammar might be a little strange but the sentiment is clear: this dystopia thinks emotional problems have been solved thanks to some handy pharmaceuticals.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 25, 1903 – George Orwell. His other work is admirable but he compels our attention with Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Naturally people on both the Left and the Right have claimed them and attacked them. Translated into Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Thai. (Died 1950) [JH]
Born June 25, 1935 – Charles Sheffield. Physicist and SF author. “Georgia on My Mind” won both the Hugo and the Nebula. Thirty novels, a hundred shorter stories, some with co-authors. Translated into Croatian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish. Toastmaster at BucConeer the 56th Worldcon. Pro Guest of Honor at Lunacon 44 the year I was Fan Guest of Honor. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born June 25, 1944 – Rick Gellman, age 76. Art Shows and Dealers’ Rooms at various conventions. Helped start a Gordy Dickson Memorial Scholarship Fund for sending writers to Clarion. Founded the Minnesota Munchie Movement. [JH]
Born June 25, 1958 – Pat Sayre McCoy, age 62. She chaired WindyCon 33 and 34; ran the Green Room at Chicon 2000, the 58th Worldcon; contributed an essay to the wrestling with “SF conventions and Gender Equity” in Journey Planet 13, as did Our Gracious Host. [JH]
Born June 25, 1963 – Yann Martel, age 57. Famous for The Life of Pi, second of three SF novels (besides writing Beatrice and Virgil, which is not about those two historical persons, nor a book-length treatment of The Divine Comedy, but – well, read it for yourself). A theatrical adaptation of Pi with puppets (no, not hand puppets) was a great success and was scheduled to open in London this month, naturally postponed. [JH]
Born June 25, 1980 – Amanda Arista, age 40. Third novel about Merci Lenard, who always gets her story but doesn’t always get the truth she wants, just released in January. Three novels about an urban panther. AA herself likes bowling, croquet, and the SMU (Southern Methodist University) Creative Writing Program in which she once studied and now teaches. [JH]
(9) US IN FLUX. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “A Cyber-Cuscuta Manifesto,” a story about big data, emerging life forms, and a plea for coexistence by Regina Kanyu Wang.
It was a public hearing held online. Billions of people crowded into the meeting room, in suits, in pajamas, on treadmills, on sofas, in groups in front of large screens suspended above busy streets, alone at home with VR headsets on. The host called for silence and their words were translated into myriad languages, in both sound and text. The audience held its collective breath and waited for the special guest to show. A face appeared, vague in detail, like billions of faces merged into one. The face began to talk, in an equally vague voice, in thousands of languages at the same time, alien but also familiar to everyone…
On Monday, June 29 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Regina in conversation with Athena Aktipis, a psychology researcher who studies cooperation across systems, from human sharing to cancer. Registration required.
(10) TONI WEISSKOPF Q&A. Author Robert E. Hampson interviewed Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf for his Wake Forest University class.
One of the most sought after Star Wars collectibles has sold for $93,750 at auction.
Bidding on the Rocket-Firing Boba Fett started at $30,000 but had already exceeded the $60,000 lower estimate before the auction began thanks to several absentee bids. The final sale price includes the buyer’s premium.
The unpainted promotional item, made of blue plastic, is a prototype that utilized an L-Slot design named after the shape of the backpack mechanism to allow the rocket to fire. It was created by toymaker Kenner to promote the second film in the franchise, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It is one of the few prototypes known to exist. The launcher design was amended to a J-Slot mechanism and eventually replaced by a non-firing version. None of the firing toys were ever made available to the general public.
This item is the latest to be available on the market. A similar item sold at auction through Hakes in July 2019 for $112,926. Another, one that had been painted and had a J-Slot design in the backpack, sold for $185,850 in November 2019. Both prices include the buyer’s premium.
HeroX, the social network for innovation and the world’s leading platform for crowdsourced solutions, today launched the crowdsourcing competition “Lunar Loo” on behalf of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) and NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) Program. NASA is preparing to return to the Moon by 2024 and needs to develop a new way for astronauts to urinate and defecate in microgravity and lunar gravity. The crowdsourcing challenge calls on the global community of innovators to provide innovative design concepts for fully capable, low mass toilets that can be used both in space and on the moon.
Competitive toilet designs will align with NASA’s overall goals of reduced mass and volume, lower power consumption, and easy maintenance. Selected designs may be modified for integration into Artemis lunar landers. This effort is all part of NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon in 2024.
HeroX says this is the payoff:
This Lunar Toilet Challenge has a total prize purse of $35,000 that will be shared among the teams submitting the top three designs in the Technical category. The top three participants in the Junior category will each receive public recognition and an item of official NASA-logoed merchandise.
Nasa is to name its headquarters in Washington DC after its first black female engineer, Mary Jackson.
Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said Jackson had helped to break down barriers for African Americans and women in engineering and technology.
The story of Mary Jackson was told in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Born in Hampton, Virginia, she died in 2005.
Last year, Nasa renamed the street outside its headquarters as Hidden Figures Way.
“Hidden no more, we will continue to recognise the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made Nasa’s successful history of exploration possible,” Mr Bridenstine said in a statement.
“Mary W Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped Nasa succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” Mr Bridenstine added.
“Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.”
Scientists have known for decades that one of the main causes of the smell of fresh rain is geosmin: a chemical compound produced by soil-dwelling bacteria. But why do the bacteria make it in the first place? It was a bacteria-based mystery… until now! Maddie gets some answers from reporter Emily Vaughn, former Short Wave intern.
As the U.S. begins to open back up, coronavirus clusters — where multiple people contract COVID-19 at the same event or location — are popping up all over the country. And despite drawing massive crowds, protests against police violence and racial injustice in Washington state weren’t among those clusters.
“We did have a rally in Bellingham, which is our county seat, and there was also a protest, and we have not been able to connect a single case to that rally or to the protest, and what we’re finding is in large part that’s due to the use of masks,” Erika Lautenbach, the director of the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington State, tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “Almost everyone at the rally was wearing a mask, and it’s really a testament to how effective masks are in preventing the spread of this disease.”
For the clusters that have popped up, Lautenbach says the state has been using contact tracing to learn more about how they’re contributing to the spread of the virus. For instance, it found that 14 cases were associated with a party of 100 to 150 people in early June. Subsequently, 15 more cases were associated with the original 14.
“So that one event spread to 29 people and 31 related employers,” Lautenbach says. “Our challenge is to continue to trace as it moves through families, as it moves through workplaces and as it moves through social events as well.”
But protests just aren’t spreading the disease in the same way, Lautenbach says.
“We’re finding that the social events and gatherings, these parties where people aren’t wearing masks, are our primary source of infection,” Lautenbach says. “And then the secondary source of infection is workplace settings. There were 31 related employers just associated with that one party because of the number of people that brought that to their workplace. So for us, for a community our size, that’s a pretty massive spread.”
And much of that spread, Lautenbach says, is affecting young people.
“We have seen almost a near flip in the cases that we’re experiencing,” Lautenbach says. “So in April of this year, we were really struggling with long-term-care outbreaks. And so about 3 out of 4 people were over the age of 30 and really pretty heavily skewed to 60-plus. And by contrast, in June, we’re seeing that now 2 out of 3 people that have contracted this disease are under 29.”
Like millions of other Americans, Victoria Gray has been sheltering at home with her children as the U.S. struggles through a deadly pandemic, and as protests over police violence have erupted across the country.
But Gray is not like any other American. She’s the first person with a genetic disorder to get treated in the United States with the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR.
And as the one-year anniversary of her landmark treatment approaches, Gray has just received good news: The billions of genetically modified cells doctors infused into her body clearly appear to be alleviating virtually all the complications of her disorder, sickle cell disease.
Wow, after months of having to eat at home every night, we here in Koontzland were excited when our favorite restaurants began to do business again this past week. We went with Ms. Elsa on opening day. The patio tables were ten or twelve feet apart, the waiters wore masks and gloves, the busboys wore full-face plastic shields, and the mood-music guitarist kept alternating between “Eve of Destruction” and “Saint James Infirmary.” It was sooooo romantic!
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Joey Eschrich, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
(1) A NEW QUIZ. “The Sky National General Knowledge Test”. Only 80 out of 100 for me. How come I still can’t tell the difference between a watt and an amp? At least I got both genre literature questions right.
Sky have worked with leading academics and celebrity experts to bring together the 100 questions that everyone should know, in celebration of the launch of three TV channels: Sky Nature, Sky Documentaries and Sky HISTORY.
As a thing to do, I’ve tried to make alternate cover art for each of the six novel finalists. As a quiz you can guess which picture was meant to be which.
(2b) GET OFF YOUR PHONE! [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] On the other side of the paywall, in the May 20 Financial Times, Leo Lewis discusses what happened when Ichiro Ogawa, former chairman of the assembly of Kagawa prefecture, decided that his daughter was spending too much time playing games on her smartphone.
In January Mr Ogawa proposed a rule–the first of its kind in Japan–that would ban anyone under 18, from playing (games) for more than an hour a day (90 minutes on weekends) on mobiles, PCs, and consoles. The rule, which adds a smartphone curfew of 9 PM for those up to 15, would not be directly enforced by the state; that burden would fall on ‘responsible parents, mass-deputised as screen sentinels. Two months later the assembly–98 percent male and mostly aged around 70, voted it through, casting cantankerous old Kagawa as the clear-eyed pioneer in a world groping for the answers to screen addiction.
Not so fast, says a 17-year-old from the prefecture who loves his games and views the lumberings of Kagawa’s assembly-osaurs as unconscionable over-reach. The high-schooler, who uses only the name Wataru, has begin crowdfunding a campaign to repeal the ordinance, arguing it was arrived at unscientifically, wedges the state uncomfortably far into a matter that should be for each household to decide upon, and is in glaring breach of Japanese citizens’ fundamental right to self-determination.”
Tomoshi Sakka, a “fabulously tenacious lawyer” and a champion of free speech in Japan, has joined with Wataru to overturn the law.
According to Variety, the change in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s awards — which reportedly states that “voice-only performances are not eligible in any acting category” — was prompted by Pascal being hidden for all but a bit of the Disney+ Star Wars show’s eight-episode first season. When the helmet finally came off in the finale, the HFPA must’ve breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that Pascal was really under there … because it seems like they were so caught up about the masked secrecy that they decided to disallow such performances in their future considerations.
(4) LIBRARY WILL SEMI-REOPEN SOON. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I won’t say “they read my mind” but I did not just think about this but also suggested it to a friend or two, along with “Why aren’t the food trucks out driving around the way ice cream trucks use to be…”
Here’s the news, from our mayor’s latest email update:
[Our city’s library] “is preparing to launch “Library To-Go,” their new contactless hold and pickup service, next week. Please note that this will be by appointment only initially.”
I’ve already been making a fair number of reserve/purchase-requests (using the online system), including new books by Robert Sawyer (Oppenheimer Alternative), Marko Kloos’ Ballistic, Baen’s Give Me LibertyCon, Strathan’s Made To Order robot antho, Gene Wolfe’s (presumedly) last, Nearly Nero (pastiche/parody antho)… so, again, woo-hoo!
There was, clearly, no expense spared in the making of “Space Force.” Imagining what a Space Force branch of the military might actually look like outside the bounds of President Trump’s imagination (though the show never mentions him by name), the new comedy is a splashy flex of Netflix’s powers. It boasts the co-creator team of Greg Daniels and Steve Carell, whose smash hit “The Office” gained an almost more successful second life when it hit Netflix and won over a whole new generation of TV fans. With Carell at the center of its orbit, “Space Force” features an all-star cast including Lisa Kudrow (of Netflix’s other onetime rerun hit, “Friends”), John Malkovich, and even the late Fred Willard in the bittersweet role of Carell’s ailing father. Its sets are expansive and slick, gleaming and pristine. Every episode brings new familiar faces, stellar production design, and the kind of confidence that only the total support of a network can bestow. For all the heft behind it, “Space Force” should be an easy win. Ten episodes later, however, it’s safer to say that “Space Force” is really just okay.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 27, 1996 — Doctor Who premiered on BBC. The film involving the Eighth Doctor played by Paul McGann that is. Short of The War Doctor as portrayed by John Hurt, he would have the briefest tenure of any Doctor from a video representation viewpoint having just the film and a short video later on. (He has done some seventy Big Finish audio stories to date.) The film was directed by Geoffrey Sax off the screenplay by Matthew Jacobs. The remaining cast of importance was Daphne Ashbrook as the Companion to the Doctor, Dr. Grace Holloway, and Eric Roberts as The Master. Critics, American and British alike, were decidedly mixed on their reactions, and the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are equally divided and give it exactly a fifty percent rating.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 27, 1894 — Dashiell Hammett. He’s widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time, but ISFDB says that he was also the editor of three genre anthologies, Creeps by Night: Chills and Thrills, The Red Brain and Other Creepy Thrillers and Breakdown and Other Thrillers with writers such as Frank Bellnap Long and H.P. Lovecraft, it certainly looks that way. ISFDB also says one Continental Op story, “The Farewell Murder,” is at genre adj. (Died 1962.) (CE)
Born May 27, 1900 – Rudolph Belarski. Virtuoso at air-combat magazine covers; five dozen covers for us, Argosy, Future, SF Stories, Startling, Thrilling; interiors too. Here is one from 1955. Here is a 2018 reprint. (Died 1983) [JH]
Born May 27, 1911 — Vincent Price. Ok, what’s popping into my head is him on The Muppets in “The House of Horrors“ sketch they did in which he and Kermit sport impressive fangs which you can see here. If I had to single out his best work, it’d be in such films as House on Haunted Hill, House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum. Yes, I know the latter two are Roger Corman productions. He also did a lot of series work including being Egghead on Batman, appearing in the Fifties Science Fiction Theater, having a recurring role as Jason Winters on the Time Express and so forth. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born May 27, 1915 – Herman Wouk. Name pronounced “woke”. Began as a gag man for Fred Allen; Pulitzer Prize, four honorary doctorates. Regardless of The “Caine” Mutiny”, of his masterpiece Marjorie Morningstar, of The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, he’s here for A Hole in Texas, a fine SF novel he hardly needed to write but did because he felt like it. (Died 2019) [JH]
Born May 27, 1918 — Robert C. Stanley. He was one of the two most prolific paperback cover artists used by the Dell Publishing Company, for whom he worked from 1950 to 1959. Among the covers he did was Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and the Lost Empire (here), Anthony Boucher’s Rocket to the Morgue (here), and Olaf Stapledon’s Odd Jon (here). (Died 1996) (CE)
Born May 27, 1922 — Christopher Lee. He first became famous for his role as Count Dracula in a series of Hammer Horror films. His other film roles include The Creature in The Curse of Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, Kharis the Mummy in The Mummy, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, Lord Summerisle In The Wicker Man, Saruman in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit film trilogy, and Count Dooku in the second and third films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Now interestingly enough, ISFDB lists him as being the co-editor in the Seventies with Michael Parry with a number of horror anthologies such as Christopher Lee’s ‘X’ Certificate No. 1, From the Archives of Evil and The Great Villains. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born May 27, 1929 — Burnett Toskey, 91. He was a Seattle fan who was a member of the Nameless Ones who served in various offices for them from the early Fifties to the mid Sixties. He was also the editor of Spectator Amateur Press Society. His work on Cry of the Nameless won the Best Fanzine Hugo at Pittcon, a honor he shared with F. M. Busby, Elinor Busby and Wally Weber. (CE)
Born May 27, 1930 – John Barth. Fellow of Am. Acad. Arts & Sciences. Lannan Award for lifetime achievement. National Book Award. The Floating Opera is only strange (it won the Roozi Rozegari at Teheran for best translated novel, also strange). The Sot-Weed Factor could perhaps be called historical fiction. By Giles Goat-Boy he was doing SF. Heinlein compared Stranger in a Strange Land to it. In The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor a man jumps overboard from a reconstructed Arab ship and finds himself in the world of Sindbad. Nor was that all. [JH]
Born May 27, 1934 – Harlan Ellison. Bob Bloch, who also was both a fan and a pro, said HE was “the only living organism I know whose natural habitat is hot water”. I mustn’t spoil the metaphor by calling HE a firebrand – or, wait, we can say hot water could never extinguish him. SFWA Grand Master, SF Hall of Fame, Eaton award for lifetime achievement; 8 Hugos, 4 Nebulas; 3 Worldcon special committee awards. Guest of Honor at Westercon XIX and XXXVII, Lunacon XVI, the first NASFiC (N. Am. SF Con, since 1975 held when Worldcon is overseas), Iguanacon II (36th Worldcon), many more. At workshops, with students, he gave everything. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born May 27, 1940 – Jackie Causgrove. Prominent fan in the U.S. Midwest, then Southern California. For Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck she did the Knight of Cups. The Deck is a thing of wonder; each card by a leading fan or pro (or both) artist of the day, some extra cards; read BP’s description here (you can still get a deck from Elayne Pelz; if you don’t know how to do that, write to me, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles 90057). With Bruce Gillespie she administered the Tucker Fund that got Bob Tucker to Aussiecon I (33rd Worldcon); see one of its fliers here. One of her fanzines was Dilemma, illustrated by her. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born May 27, 1954 – Mark Wheatley. Writer, penciller, inker, letterer, editor, cover artist, publisher; developed color-production technology for comics; founded Insight Studios. Re-interpreted the Flash, Baron Munchhausen, the Three Stooges, Dick Tracy, Doctor Who; invented Frankenstein Mobster and (it had to happen) Doctor Cthulittle. Eisner, Inkpot awards. [JH]
Born May 27, 1971 – Vilma Kadleckova. We’ve learned the software here won’t recognize the character after the “e”; it should have a little “v” over it for the sound of “ch” in English “church”. She’s Czech; a dozen SF novels and shorter stories, half a dozen local prizes. Four novels so far (2013-2016) in her Mycelium series, Amber Eyes, Ice Under the Skin, Vision, Voices and Stars; the first two won Book of the Year and Original Czech/Slovak Book from the SFFH Acad. in Prague. In Vector 166, contributed “The View from Olympus” with Carola Biedermann and Eva Hauser. [JH]
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Bliss shows a measurable effect of the stay-at-home rules.
Since a lot of people are staying in their homes right now to help flatten the curve of the current health crisis, that naturally means that it’s important to find ways to keep one’s mind occupied in order to maintain sanity. For well-endowed Cats star Jason Derulo, he recently decided to spend some time putting together a mini-Spider-Man origin story within his home’s walls.
Check out the man who played Rum Tum Tigger on the big screen last year suddenly obtaining the ability to do whatever a spider can…
(12) A PAIR TO DRAW TO. On the latest Two Chairs Talking podcast, Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg discuss the upcoming Hugo Awards, and David discusses with Rob Gerrand their mutual love of the work of Jack Vance. Episode 28: “Mastering the Dragons”
The spacesuits that will be worn by astronauts on Wednesday’s Crew Dragon launch have been getting a lot of attention. How do they differ from other attire worn by astronauts down the years?
The futuristic flight suits that will be worn by Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on Wednesday look like they’re a world away from the bulky orange shuttle flight suits worn when astronauts last launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
The helmets are 3D-printed and the gloves are touchscreen-sensitive.
But their primary purpose remains the same – to protect crew members from depressurisation, where air is lost from the capsule. They also provide ensure that astronauts have sufficient oxygen and regulate temperature. A communications link and breathable air are provided via a single “umbilical” cable in the seat that “plugs in” to the suit.
The Starman suits, as they’ve been called, are all in one piece and customised for the astronaut. Their look was conceived by Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez, who has worked on Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Investors at Facebook’s annual stockholder meeting will vote on a proposal to postpone the firm’s plans for end-to-end encryption.
The firm says it wants to make the measure the default option across its messaging platforms to protect privacy.
But activist shareholders say this would make it nearly impossible to detect child exploitation on Facebook.
The group wants the company to delay the move until after its board of directors studies the risk further.
“As shareholders, we know that privacy is important to a social media company, but it should not come at the expense of unleashing a whole new torrent of virtually undetectable child sexual abuse on Facebook,” said Michael Passoff, founder of Proxy Impact, a shareholder advocacy service supporting the measure.
Poor weather has forced SpaceX to call off the launch of Nasa astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station (ISS).
The two men were due to go up from the Kennedy Space Center in what would have been the first orbital mission from the US in nine years.
But unfavourable atmospheric conditions prompted controllers to call a stop just 16 minutes before lift-off.
The next opportunity for SpaceX and Nasa will come on Saturday.
If that’s no good, there would be a third opportunity on Sunday.
The frustration was that conditions just 10 minutes after the designated launch time of 16:33 EDT were acceptable.
But this was an instantaneous launch window where the SpaceX Falcon rocket and Dragon crew capsule had to leave on time or they wouldn’t be able to catch the space station.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge” on YouTube is a new interactive game hosted by Ahmed Best, who voiced Jar Jar Binks.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, David Grigg, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who explains it in our first-ever Pixel Scroll Post-Script.]
P.S.P.S.[Item by Daniel Dern.] Item-suitable Backstory & Lagniappe to this title suggestion:
Yesterday’s scroll included an item on Johnny Mnemonic (story and movie). This morning, my Spotify playlist played Charles T. Berry’s song, “Johnny B Goode.”
This in turn reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Chris Smither, “Henry David Thoreau” riffing on (same tune) Berry’s song. Oddly, even incomprehensibly, I find NO mention of it anywhere via DuckDuckGo nor Google, even though I’ve heard Smither sing it numerous times. (I also checked his discography.) Go figure. I bet I’ve got it on one of my cassette recordings (still in need of digitizing, sigh).
SF-semi-adjacentwise, he did (at least in one concert at Passim’s in Cambridge, not sure if it made it to any recordings), riff a few verses starting with Kliban’s Mousies cartoon (“Love them little mousies/mousies is what I eat/bite their little heads/nibble on their tiny feet”).
Smither is a country blues guy, doing a mix of classic blues along with songs by Randy Newman, Dylan and others.
(1) ON YOUR MARX. If this Scroll is posted in time, you can make it to Mark Evanier’s livestream Newsfromme.tv Conversations with Steve Stoliar, starting tonight at 7 p.m. Pacific:
In addition to being a comedy writer and voice actor, Steve Stoliar had the unique experience of being Groucho Marx’s personal assistant/secretary during the last years of that great comedian’s life. Mark Evanier talks with him about Groucho, the controversial Erin Fleming and all things Marxian except Karl.
(2) ROWLING’S NEXT. Mackenzie Nichols, in the Variety story, “J.K. Rowling Announces New Children’s Book ‘The Ickabog’” says that Rowling has announced the publication of The Ickabog, which is not part of the Harry Potter universe but is meant for 7-9 olds. She intends to post a chapter every day at theickabog.com until July 10 and promises that profits from the book will aid COVID-19 relief.
Unlike her spinoff stories “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” or “Quidditch Through the Ages,” “The Ickabog” has no relation to the “Harry Potter” series. And while plot details about “The Ickabog” were scarce, the author said its thematic elements are timeless.
“‘The Ickabog’ is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” Rowling said. “To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.”
I had the idea for TheIckabog a long time ago and read it to my two younger children chapter by chapter each night while I was working on it. However, when the time came to publish it, I decided to put out a book for adults instead, which is how The Ickabog ended up in the attic. I became busy with other things, and even though I loved the story, over the years I came to think of it as something that was just for my own children.
Then this lockdown happened. It’s been very hard on children, in particular, so I brought The Ickabog down from the attic, read it for the first time in years, rewrote bits of it and then read it to my children again. They told me to put back in some bits they’d liked when they were little, and here we are!
The most exciting part, for me, at least, is that I’d like you to illustrate The Ickabog for me. Every day, I’ll be making suggestions for what you might like to draw. You can enter the official competition being run by my publishers, for the chance to have your artwork included in a printed version of the book due out later this year. I’ll be giving suggestions as to what to draw as we go along, but you should let your imagination run wild.
Naomi Kritzer was 4 when she discovered science fiction through the first “Star Wars” film.
“I was grabbed by John Williams’ music, the lightsabers, the magic of The Force. It all appealed to me and sold me on science fiction,” Kritzer recalls.
Now, 43 years later, The Force is with this St. Paul author. Her genre-jumping young adult novel “Catfishing on CatNet, ” about teenagers who befriend a sentient artificial intelligence who lives in the internet, is scooping up major honors. It’s based on her award-winning, 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please.”
Last month Kritzer collected two prestigious awards in three days. She won a Minnesota Book Award on April 28, and on April 30 she won a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award. In early May her book was a Silver Winner in the Nautilus Book Awards, which focus on books striving to make a better world….
(4) IRRESISTIBLE ALICE BOOK. [Item by Daniel Dern.] While I’m not a compleatist Carroll/Alice collector, seeing this in the Bud’s Art Books mailer I got today caught my eye.
(Yes, I know there’s a Carroll society. I’m about to join. And I’ll write an item RSN/PDQ, including a nod to an SFnal connection. But this is semi-news.)
I noticed in the new Bud’s Art Books (although I still think of them as Bud Plant) mini-catalog that came in today’s (snail) mail that there’s a new (not yet out) book — here’s info.
“Lewis Carroll’s Alice was first published in 1865 and has never been out of print, translated into 170 languages. But why does it have such enduring and universal appeal, for both adults and children? This book explores the global impact of Alice in art, design, and performance from the 19th century to today. Starting with the Victorian literary and social context in which this story was created, it shows the ways it’s been reimagined and reinterpreted by each new generation, from the original illustrations by John Tenniel to artwork by Peter Blake and Salvador Dali, and from the 1951 Disney movie to Tim Burton’s 2010 interpretation.”
Bud’s listing says $50 (plus shipping), “Due July” but when I placed my order (after hesitating a modest 20 seconds), it said “This product is not available in the requested quantity. 1 of the items will be backordered.”
I included a note in my order asking whether that reflected it being not out yet, or whether they already had more orders than they anticipated copies to fulfill existing orders.
“Explore the phenomenon of Alice in Wonderland, which has captivated readers from Walt Disney to Annie Leibovitz for over 150 years.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is a cultural phenomenon. First published in 1865, it has never been out of print and has been translated into 170 languages. But why does it have such enduring and universal appeal for both adults and children?
This book explores the global impact of Alice in Wonderland across art, design and performance from the nineteenth century to today. It shows how Alice has been re-imagined and reinterpreted by each new generation: from the original illustrations by John Tenniel to artwork by Peter Blake and Salvador Dali, and from the 1951 Disney movie to Tim Burton’s latest interpretation.
This beautiful, playful publication also includes specially commissioned interactive illustrations by award-winning artist Kristjana S. Williams, as well as quotes from an array of cultural creators from Stephen Fry to Tim Walker, Ralph Steadman to Little Simz about the profound influence of Alice on their work.”
Whether this book is basically redundant to my modest collection of Aliceiana, I’ll find out.
(5) ALASKAN CONFIDENTIAL. In “Noir Fiction: When The Real Is Too Raw” on CrimeReads, Laird Barron, who writes horror and crime fiction, discusses the colorful people who visited his parents when he lived in Alaska and how he used these people as materials for his crime novels.
…A colorful ex-con named Tommy operated within those precincts. Tommy did time at the Goose Creek Penitentiary; warrants dogged him. He allegedly peddled coke for some bigger fish in Anchorage. Tommy drove a wired-together Datsun, or a motorcycle for the three months a man could do so without freezing his family jewels off. His favorite pastime included getting drunk at the lodge and harassing townies who alighted for weekend flings. He hated “the man.” To demonstrate his disdain, he’d snip pocket change in half with pliers….
Did you find taking that break from Frontlines beneficial? What did you take from that break that you were able to apply to the series?
It was immensely beneficial, even if I did get some flak from a few readers for daring to start another series when they were waiting for more Frontlines. But I really needed a bit of mental distance from that universe to come up with more stories worth telling. As long as it takes a few days to read what takes a few months to write, readers will want more books as quickly as possible.
(7) ART CRITICS STAND BY. Mark Lawrence (per his tradition) has followed the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off book competition by announckng the “SPFBO 6 Cover Contest”. The finalists have been picked by the bloggers. Not all the entries are in yet. When they are, the public will be invited to vote on the winner. Says Lawrence:
The public vote is of course a bit of fun and subject to all the issues of brigading and cheating that online polls often are – though our anti-cheat software is more effective than the raw poll results might lead you to believe.
(8) GOLDEN AGE SF ARTIST. Doug Ellis offers a catalog of art from the estate of artist Hubert Rogers, items now available for sale.
When John W. Campbell, the legendary editor of Astounding Science Fiction, looked for an artist to give expression to the groundbreaking fiction he was running during what is now known as science fiction’s Golden Age, he selected veteran pulp illustrator Hubert Rogers. For nearly 15 years (with a break during the war years, when he returned to his native Canada and contributed art for the war effort), Rogers was Astounding’s primary cover artist and a prolific interior artist, contributing distinctive art imbued with a touch of class, distinguishing Astounding from its fellow pulp competitors.
Unlike many science fiction artists, Rogers received much of his original art back from the publisher. This has been held by the Rogers family for the past 80 years, with only occasional pieces being offered in the market. Rogers’ daughter, Liz, has now decided to make available to collectors nearly all of the remaining art in their collection, which is listed in this catalog. This is truly a unique opportunity to acquire vintage science fiction art from the estate of the artist.
But Rogers didn’t only create classic science fiction art. His pulp art also included covers for the hero pulps, and two of his covers for Street & Smith’s The Wizard (a companion title to Astounding) can be found here for sale as well.
And you can download high res images of all the art in a zip file here.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
May 26, 1995 — Johnny Mnemonic premiered. Based on the William Gibson short story of the same name, it was directed by Robert Longo in his directorial debut. It starred Keanu Reeves, Takeshi Kitan, Henry Rollins, Ice-T, Dina Meyer and Dolph Lundgren. Despite the story itself being well received and even being nominated for a Nebula Award, the response among critics to the film was overwhelmingly negative. It currently holds a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. It is available to watch here.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 26, 1840 – Frederick Walker. Painter, pen & ink illustrator, wood engraver, watercolors. Renowned in his day. Social Realist; see here, here. Incorporated fantasy, see here (Spirit Painting), here. (Died 1875) [JH]
Born May 26, 1865 — Robert Chambers. His most-remembered work was The King in Yellow short stories. Though he would turn away from these supernatural tellings, Lovecraft’s included some of them in his Supernatural Horror in Literature critical study. Critics thought his work wasn’t as great as could have been. That said, Stross, Wagner, Carter and even Blish are said to have been influenced by him. (Died 1933.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1867 – André Devambez. Painter, illustrator, engraver, printmaker. Contributed to Le Figaro Illustré, Le Rire, L’Illustration. Look at The Only Bird that Flies Above the Clouds, here, factual but fantastic; imagine seeing it in 1910. Here is an illustration for Noëlle Roger’s cataclysmic The New Deluge (1922). Here is an oil Leprechauns in an Undergrowth. (Died 1944) [JH]
Born May 26, 1903 — Harry Steeger. He co-founded Popular Publications in 1930, one of the major publishers of pulp magazines, with former classmate Harold S. Goldsmith. They published The Spider which he created, and with Horror Stories and Terror Tales, he started the “Shudder Pulp” genre. So lacking in taste were these pulps, even a jaded public eventually rejected them. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1913 — Peter Cushing. Best-known for his roles in the Hammer Productions horror films of the Fifties to the Seventies, as well as his performance as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars. He also played Holmes many times, and though not considered canon, he was the Doctor in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. and Dr. Who and the Daleks. He even made appearances in both The Avengers and The New Avengers as well as Space: 1999. There’s a CGI recreation of Grand Moff Tarkin used for his likeness in Rogue One. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1913 – Joan Jefferson Farjeon. Scenic designer, illustrated published versions of plays she’d done, also fairy tales. See here (a frog footman), here (a tiger lily), here. From a 1951 stage production, here is a moment in Beauty and the Beast. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born May 26, 1921 — Mordecai Roshwald. He’s best-known for Level 7. (Read the expanded 2004 edition as it has his SF framing narrative.) He is also the author of A Small Armageddon, and a nonfiction work, Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1923 — Roy Dotrice. I’ll always think of him first and foremost as Jacob “Father” Wells on Beauty and the Beast. He was Commissioner Simmonds in two episodes of Space: 1999. He also appeared in a recurring role on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Zeus. He’s on A Game of Thrones in the second season playing “Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer” in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and “Blackwater” episodes. He narrates at least some of the GoT audiobooks. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born May 26, 1925 – Howard DeVore. Began collecting, 1936. Michigan Science Fantasy Society, 1948 (Hal Shapiro said it was the Michigan Instigators of Science Fantasy for Intellectual Thinkers Society, i.e. MISFITS). Leading dealer in SF books, paraphernalia; known as Big-Hearted Howard, a compliment-complaint-compliment; called himself “a huckster, 1st class”. Active in Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n; Neffy Award. Also Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n (FAPA), Spectator Am. Pr. Soc. (SAPS). Said a Worldcon would be in Detroit over his dead body; was dragged across the stage; became Publicity head for Detention the 17th Worldcon. With Donald Franson The Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards (through 3rd ed’n 1998). Named Fan Guest of Honor for 64th Worldcon, but died before the con. His beanie had a full-size airplane propeller. (Died 2005) [JH]
Born May 26, 1933 – Yôji Kondô. Ph.D. in astrophysics. Aikido (7th degree black belt) and judo (6th degree). Senior positions at NASA, Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement; two hundred scientific papers; for more on that work, see here. SF as Eric Kotani; six novels, most with J.M. Roberts; two shorter stories; edited Requiem tribute to Heinlein; non-fiction Interstellar Travel & Multi-Generation Space Ships with F. Bruhweiler, J. Moore, C. Sheffield; essays, mostly co-authored, in SF Age and Analog. Heinlein Award. Writers of the Future judge. Obituary by OGH here. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born May 26, 1938 – Lyudmila Petrushevskaya. Author (including plays and screenwriting), singer, painter, animator. Russian Booker Prize, Pushkin Prize, World Fantasy Award. Twenty short stories in our field, most recently in The Paris Review. [JH]
Born May 26, 1946 – Mike Horvat. Printer by trade. Co-founder of Slanapa (the Slanderous Amateur Press Ass’n). Donated his fanzine collection to U. Iowa, see here. Active in apas outside our field, a decades-longer tradition; founded the American Private Press Ass’n, was its Librarian until 2005. Also amateur radio, postage stamps. [JH]
Born May 26, 1954 – Lisbeth Zwerger. Children’s book illustrator. Hans Christian Andersen and Silver Brush awards; Grand Prize from German Academy for Children’s & Youth Literature. Thirty books, most of them fantasy; see here (Swan Lake), here (the Mad Tea Party), here. [JH]
(12) FROM THE CIRCULAR FILE. Paul Levitz recalls the days when comics scripts were tossed in the trash after the project was over in “Artifacts”.
…Notwithstanding this, I saved a bunch of scripts from the trash for my own eduction. I’d pick out one each from the writers whose work I respected, or maybe a particularly interesting tale to study. I was limited to the scripts that passed through Joe Orlando’s editorial office–as his assistant I could take what I wanted of those, but it would have been de trop to raid Julie Schwartz’s garbage down the hall (assuming he hadn’t poured his yankee bean soup remains from lunch all over it, anyway). I learned what I could from them, then filed them away somewhere at home….
ON MARCH 15, THE DAY before South Africans were plunged into a lockdown which prohibited sales of alcohol, cigarettes, and takeout food, lines outside liquor stores spilled into the streets. One bottle store owner told me he did a month’s trade in a day.
Three weeks later, when President Cyril Ramaphosa made it clear the booze ban wouldn’t be lifted anytime soon, South Africans started to get desperate. Bottle store break-ins and drone-assisted drink deliveries made the news across the country. Then came the tenfold leap in pineapple sales: from 10,000 a day to nearly 100,000.
Thirsty South Africans have turned to making their own beer out of pineapples. In normal times, you can get sloshed on pineapple beer at the Big Pineapple, a 56-foot fiberglass construction in subtropical Bathurst. But these are not normal times. Luckily, pineapple beer—which is technically more of a wine or cider, as there’s no boiling involved—is easy to make, and can even be quite pleasant to drink.
(14) HELLO? ANYONE OUT THERE?[Item by Mike Kennedy.] Popular Mechanics takes a popsci look at a new analysis of the development intelligent life. “This Math Formula Has Determined the Odds of Aliens Existing” In a recent paper (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 May 2020), astronomer David Kipping uses Bayesian analysis to ponder the probabilities of intelligent life developing here or elsewhere. The paper’s statement of significance reads:
Does life’s early emergence mean that it would reappear quickly if we were to rerun Earth’s clock? If the timescale for intelligence evolution is very slow, then a quick start to life is actually necessary for our existence—and thus does not necessarily mean it is a generally quick process. Employing objective Bayesianism and a uniform-rate process assumption, we use just the chronology of life’s appearance in the fossil record, that of ourselves, and Earth’s habitability window to infer the true underlying rates accounting for this subtle selection effect. Our results find betting odds of >3:1 that abiogenesis is indeed a rapid process versus a slow and rare scenario, but 3:2 odds that intelligence may be rare.
Popular Mechanics sums up the paper with a single quote:
“Overall, our work supports an optimistic outlook for future searches for biosignatures,” the paper explains.
Properly disinfecting public spaces can help stop the spread of coronavirus, but cleaning crews are often not properly trained how to do so. Also, if the workers don’t wear personal protective equipment, they are at risk for infection.
David Tennant and Tom Baker are uniting to battle the Daleks in an upcoming Doctor Who audio-drama. The longest-running sci-fi TV series in the world, Doctor Who has become a cult classic. Regeneration is the secret to the show’s success. Doctor Who can reinvent itself periodically, recasting its star and allowing a new showrunner to take it in entirely new directions.
Every now and again, though, two or more incarnations of the Doctor come together in a fan-pleasing adventure in which they battle against iconic foes….
The plot is –
The Cathedral of Contemplation is an enigma, existing outside time. It turns through history, opening its doors across the universe to offer solace to those in need.
Occasionally, the Doctor drops in – when he’s avoiding his destiny, it’s an ideal place to get some perspective. Only, he’s already there several lives earlier, so when dimension barriers break down, his past and present collide.
And when the Daleks invade and commandeer the Cathedral, two Doctors must unite to stop them – or face extermination twice over!
(17) OTHER PEOPLE STARED, AS IF WE WERE BOTH QUITE INSANE. This is wild! The “augmented reality” bus stop window.
[Thanks to Mlex, Michael Toman, N., Andrew Porter, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Nina Shepardson, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day, the man who does for Scroll titles what Escher did for architecture, Daniel Dern.]
Cue the Hamilton quotes: Soon the room where it happens will be your living room! Shout it to the rooftops that the Broadway sensation Hamilton will be available for home viewing this summer! Look around, look around to see how lucky we are to be alive in a world where Hamilton is coming to Disney+ on July 3, more than 15 months ahead of schedule!
What will be the effects when Hamilton joins the Disneyverse?
1, Does this mean Alex H has a chance to be a Jedi, and use the force to avoid being shot to death?
2, Will Hawkeye miss his shot?
3, Will the Avengers, or at least Spider-Man, get involved in the Rev War? Will Tony Stark pal around with Ben Franklin?
4, Will Paul Revere ride on Dumbo instead of his horse?
5, Will the Schuyler sisters get Frozen freeze-powers?
Is this enough to justify signing up for Disney+?
Good question — but realistically, either the free trial or a month’s worth should do it. It’s not like Hamilton is going to be a 12-episode season…unless they do the Hamilton/Star Wars/Avengers Crossover, where Luke gets to sing about not missing his shot, etc. Or Force Ghosts doing “What’d I Miss?”
“Luke the Son of Anakin,” whose lyrics were written by comedian Nick Jack Pappas, tells the Skywalker saga to a tune from the smash musical about the ten-dollar founding father. It parodies the show’s opening number with a spoiler-heavy summary of Luke’s journey from space farm boy to Jedi knight and finally to lost recluse in the latest installment of the series.
Hux [Hamilton Parody] (Aug 2016)
Luke Skywalker Hamilton (Dec 2015)
Darth Vader sings You’ll Be Back [Hamilton Parody] (Feb 2017)
Star Wars / Hamilton Awakens – The Musical (Sept 2016)
At free, this is a deal you can’t beat. (Assuming you’ve got a reasonable viewing device, in terms of screen size.) The regular price isn’t shabby, either, as long as you find stuff you like. (I did, but after a year-ish of binging, had found most/enough.)
Aside from DC and Marvel — a smaller and sometimes different selection than what you’d find on their own unlimited sites — there’s Dynamite, IDG, Fantagraphics, etc. IIRC, there’s Saga, Trees, ERB/Barsoom stuff, and some original-from-ComiXology titles (none of which grab me, but your jauntage may vary).
If you’ve already started exploring ComiXology’s FREE offerings, you’ll find more in many of those titles to keep going with.
BTW, if you haven’t already gotten a free Hoopla (hoopladigital.com) account through your library, do that! You can’t read as much, but the price is right.
And you can find many of Hoopla’s offerings on ComiXology, which in turn will let you make more use of your Hoopla monthly limit.
Here’s my question for Filers: What device are you using to read your digital comics on? In particular, is anybody using a tablet/2-in-1 other than an iPad Pro 12.9 where the screen is big enough to let you read it in the printed-comic-equivalent full size? E.g., on a Chromebook that supports that ComiXology Android app? Let me know (via a comment).
During these unprecedented times when families are hunkered down at home together due to the Covid-19 virus, Barnes & Noble is giving aspiring young authors a chance to showcase their creativity—and become published. Between April 27 and May 29, contestants can submit written or graphic short stories to be considered for inclusion in an anthology that the company will release in time for this year’s holiday season.
But I would like to register a complaint: You see, the most interesting arc of the film is nowhere to be found on screen. And I request that Marvel produce the deleted footage of this arc, otherwise I’m not really sure why this movie was made at all.
I’m speaking, of course, about how Doctor Stephen Strange stage managed an entire apocalypse solely for Maximum Dramatic Effect.
Barnes and Noble has shuttered over 500 of their 600 bookstores in the United States and the bookseller has announced they are no longer going to be ordering new magazines and will cease carrying them altogether.
“It will probably be a bigger deal for smaller publishers who count on the money they get upfront from B&N,” said one industry veteran, who noted that big newsstand titles, like Hearst’s Cosmopolitan and Meredith’s People, are far more reliant on other retailers.
Hence the Spider-Man in the canned food aisle. The dinosaur roaming the deli section. The unicorn walking a dog. These sightings, though not nearly as common as surgical masks and gloves, have accented our lockdown landscapes with flecks of whimsy: A couple visited their relatives wearing costume spacesuits. In China, one woman picked up medication dressed as a giraffe. In Italy, a man was reportedly arrested after breaking quarantine to go outside in a T-rex suit.
(6) MOVIE MAKING. Filer Cliff sent this link to “RenderMan: An Advanced Path-Tracing Architecture for Movie Rendering”, a paper describing a project he’s been working on. He says, “This is the software used for all Pixar movies, the Star Wars movies (and pretty much all of ILM’s output), Lord Of The Rings (but notThe Hobbit) and is the oldest and one of the most widely used renderer in movie production. This was the software that Hanrahan and Catmull originated and which earned them the Turing Award you mentioned a few weeks ago.” The article begins —
Pixar’s RenderMan renderer is used to render all of Pixar’s films and by many film studios to render visual effects for live-action movies. RenderMan started as a scanline renderer based on the Reyes algorithm, and it was extended over the years with ray tracing and several global illumination algorithms.
This article describes the modern version of RenderMan, a new architecture for an extensible and programmable path tracer with many features that are essential to handle the fiercely complex scenes in movie production.
(7) ROCKET OWNER. The person who won the auction of the prop Hugos from the set of Knives Out.
(8) TALK TO THE ANIMALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Washington Post has two articles about the video game Animal Crossing. Michael Andor Brodeur interviews Animal Crossing’s composer, Kazumi Totaka, and says his music is “a blissful 24-hour lullaby that’s helping countless players weather countless hours of forced downtime.” “The Animal Crossing soundtrack is an unlikely lullaby for a nervous world”.
Right now, millions of households and headphones around the globe are filled with the music of one of the world’s most popular and influential composers.
Over the past month, homebound listeners have spent hundreds of hours immersed in his latest work — a suite of never-ending melodies — but most of them don’t even know his name. They consume his music the same way one breathes air, with an unceasing and unconscious appetite.
…Upon booting up your recently-updated game, you’ll notice your mailbox has two messages, one from Bank of Nook and the other from Nintendo. The bank notifies you of a reduced interest rate for your account (this is likely to curb the all-too-quick road to wealth many players have taken) and attaches a gift of a rug shaped like a bag of bells. As for Nintendo, their message thanks you for downloading the update and gives you a decorative world map to hang on the wall.
Outside of slashing your interest rate (it’s unclear how much the rate has changed), these freebies are welcome.
(9) ANDRUS OBIT. Longtime fanzine fan Reed Andrus died April 25. He was interested in all things associated with the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery genres. He once said Richard E. Geis’ Science Fiction Review was his gateway into fandom. He also contributed to the National Fantasy Fan Federation’s Yesterday and Today (1974), co-edited Laughing Osiris (1974-1978), and published Bull of the Seven Battles which Brian Earl Brown’s Whole Fanzine Catalog (1979) jokingly described as “a personalzine so confident of its limited appeal and exclusive audience that it doesn’t list the address in the zine itself…”
Andrus said in a comment here at File 770 he was a cancer survivor who underwent surgery in 2007.
For more than three decades his work appeared in print and online, from the Charlotte Austin Review, and Mystery News to The Thunder Child. He studied for a Ph.D in US history at the University of North Texas.
Andrus found a fannish home in the Classic Horror Film Board discussion forums. Known there as “oldmanster,” he left over 6,800 comments between 2005 and 2014.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 27, 1955 — The Devil Girl From Mars premiered. It was produced by Edward J. Danziger and Harry Lee Danziger as directed by David MacDonald. It was written by James Eastwood and John C. Maher It starred Patricia Laffan, Hugh McDermott, Adrienne Corri and Hazel Court. Critics in general called it a delightfully bad film with the Monthly Film Bulletin saying it was “Everything, in its way, is quite perfect.” The audience reviewers over at Rotten Tomatoes apparently don’t agreed as they give it a 22% rating. You can decide for yourself as you can see it here as it’s in the public domain.
April 27, 1963 — The Day of the Triffids premiered in the USA. It was produced by George Pitcher and Philip Yordan, as directed by Steve Sekely. It’s rather loosely based on the 1951 novel of the same name by John Wyndham (who was toastmaster at Loncon 1) as scripted by Bernard Gordon and Philip Yordan. It starred Howard Keel, Nicole Maurey, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore and Mervyn Johns. Critics who were familiar with the novel weren’t terribly happy with the film. It currently rates a 52% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Yes, it’s in the public domain, so you can watch it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 27, 1901 — Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz say that Long should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette which he lovingly discuses here. I only add as John didn’t note it, that he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.)
Born April 27, 1920 — Doris Baumgardt. Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz — the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (Died 1970.)
Born April 27, 1922 — Jack Klugman. He was in an amazing four Twilight Zone episodes (“A Passage for Trumpet,“ “A Game of Pool,” “Death Ship” and “In Praise of Pip,” plus one-offs on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Outer Limits. Does Around the World in Eighty Days count as genre adjacent? If so, he was in the Eighties ministries. (Died 2012.)
Born April 27, 1957 — Rachel Caine, 63. She has two ongoing endeavors, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t do vampires really. And yes, I know she’s got a number of other series, far more than can detailed be here.
Born April 27, 1958 — Caroline Spector, 62. She was an Associate Editor at Amazing Stories for several years, but her main genre connection is her fiction in George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series where she has seven stories. She also a Shadowrun novel, Worlds Without End. (Now that was an interesting RPG!) she also has an essay, “Power and Feminism in Westeros” in James Lowder’s Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, From A “Game of Thrones” to “A Dance with Dragons
Born April 27, 1958 — Jon Cassar, 62. Producer, The Orville. Not my cup tea but I many y’all love it. His director and producer genre credits are extensive and include Person of Interest, Touch, Continium, Terra Nova, Fringe, Human Target, Forever Knight and that’s not an inclusive list by any means.
Born April 27, 1963 — Russell T Davies, 57. Responsible for the 2005 revival of the BBC One of Doctor Who. (A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series.) Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Oh, and a few years back, he produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Born April 27, 1967 — Erik Thomson, 53. Scottish actor who’s best remembered for being Hades on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Young Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess. His first acting role was as an unnamed young man in the “By The Numbers” episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater.
Born April 27, 1986 — Jenna Coleman, 34. Clara Oswald, Companion to the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors. She remains the longest serving companion since the series was revived. Genre wise, she was also Connie in Captain America: The First Avenger, and did voice voice work on the animated reboot of Thunderbirds Are Go. And yes, she showed up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Lio discovers the challenges for vampires during the Covid-19 crisis.
…The comics world is now split between many have-nots and two very prominent have-alls: DC Comics and Marvel Comics, subdivisions of massive publicly traded corporations Disney (Marvel) and AT&T (DC), worth $192bn and $224bn respectively. Though Marvel and DC have taken a hit from the pandemic, they’re still so big that professionals and retailers look to them not just for guidance, but also for relief. DC has donated $250,000 to a charity for bookshops, and, for the first time since the 1970s, is allowing retailers to return unsold comics. A spokeswoman said the company was also assessing new ways to distribute comics to shops for mail-order and kerbside pickup programmes. The Guardian has also seen an email from DC sent to shops last week, saying it will start distributing comics through three new companies – two of which are reportedly run by retailers that directly compete with the shops themselves.
The year is 1920. At a government-run think tank in Petrograd, a brilliant young Soviet scientist harnesses the power of something called the “heterodyne beat frequency” to create a mysterious-looking, antennaed box that creates a high-pitched wail, which intensifies when his hands come closer to it. This might sound like the plot of some sci-fi film noir, but it’s the real-life origin story of the device that bears Professor Léon Theremin’s name. An electronic instrument that you play without touching would seem like the quintessential axe of the virtual era, but 2020 actually marks the theremin’s 100th birthday.
“It’s an extremely simple concept,” says Steven M. Martin, director of Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, the 1993 documentary that helped precipitate a renaissance for the enormously influential instrument. “The circuitry is very elegant. That was the basis for all electronic music up until the digital era. All [analog] synthesizers…were based on the same principle that Theremin pioneered.”
Originally, the theremin was seen as a sort of space-age violin, far more difficult to master than old-school instruments due to the lack of a physical reference point….
Belgians are well known for loving chips (frites), often with a big dollop of mayonnaise, but hard-up farmers now want them to eat chips twice a week.
Romain Cools of the potato growers’ union Belgapom presented it as a matter of survival, as a major export sector fears ruin in the coronavirus crisis.
About 750,000 tonnes of potatoes are piled up in Belgian warehouses, as the lockdown has sent orders plummeting.
“Let’s all eat chips twice a week, instead of just once,” Mr Cools urged.
Since mid-March, restaurants in Belgium and many other markets for potato growers have closed. The cancellation of Belgium’s many spring and summer festivals has added to their woes.
Moreover, the international trade in potatoes has been hit. Belgium is one of the world’s top exporters of potato products, including frozen chips. It sends more than 1.5m tonnes annually to more than 100 countries.
One small bright spot in this story is that Belgapom will now deliver 25 tonnes of potatoes a week to food banks in Flanders – produce that will otherwise simply rot, Belgian media report.
HBO has made a deal to develop a series from the classic horror franchise Hellraiser, with Halloween helmer David Gordon Green set to direct the pilot and several more initial episodes that brings to the small screen for the first time Pinhead, the iconic pincushion-domed villain who heads a group of pasty-faced villains sent from hell, known as the Cenobites.
Novellas and anthologies? Typically not my thing. But since this collection was not only written by Christina Henry but is also part of her incredible Chronicles of Alice world, I knew I would make an exception. Looking Glass features four new stories set in the same universe as Alice and Red Queen, which reimagines Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland through dark horror lens. It is not a sequel per se, but seeing as this grim quartet of interlinked short tales serves as a continuation of the saga, it would be helpful to have read the previous novels.
(18) CLIPPING SERVICE. David Doering found this 1966 newspaper photo of one of my relatives using a remote banking terminal, arguably a forerunner of the ATM. Dr. Richard Glyer had a practice in Mountain View, CA. I think I met him, or for certain, his widow. She was a painter and my father had one of her landscapes.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Man 2020” on Vimeo, Steve Cutts explains why plants and animals are happy that humans are staying home.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, N., Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, Francis Hamit, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day The Other Nigel.]
(1) DRAGON CON STILL ON SCHEDULE. Dragon Con told Facebook readers today they are proceeding with plans for their Labor Day event.
Many things in the world are uncertain right now. One thing isn’t: We are planning to throw one sorely-needed, amazing celebration come Labor Day. We’re moving forward to keep #DragonCon2020 on schedule.
Currently, there are no plans to reschedule or cancel the event, however we’re keeping in touch with the experts either way, and working with our venue partners to make sure everything and everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy.
Rest assured if at any time we feel that cannot be accomplished, we will do what is needed to protect our community.
I’m sure everyone’s familiar with America’s snack, as ubiquitous at ball games as beer and hotdogs. As caramel corn goes, it’s pretty mediocre stuff, though once you start eating, you find you can’t stop. And the real incentive is the prize waiting for you at the bottom of the box. Will it be a ring? A toy or a little game? Maybe a baseball card.
This month, like most months recently, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is kind of like a box of Cracker Jacks. But the prize at the end of the May 1965 issue is worth the chore of getting there.
Creative platform Patreon has laid off 30 employees, which is 13% of its workforce, TechCrunch has learned.
“It is unclear how long this economic uncertainty will last and therefore, to prepare accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to part ways with 13% of Patreon’s workforce,” a Patreon spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “This decision was not made lightly and consisted of several other factors beyond the financial ones.”
(4) VISITOR FROM BEYOND. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Jeff Hecht (who’s sold sf stories everywhere from Analog, Asimov’s and Interzone to Nature and various anthologies — ) has an article in the April 21, 2020 Sky & Telescope on recent interstellar visitors: “The Origins of Interstellar Objects”.
…Comet Borisov was easy to recognize as a comet, but our first interstellar visitor, 1I/’Oumuamua, was like nothing astronomers had seen before. It was elongated, tumbling erratically, porous, moving oddly, releasing only wisps of gas — even evoking thoughts of derelict alien spaceship….
In terms of SF relevance (beyond “we also are interested in science fact stuff”), Jeff notes, regarding this article, “The only SF twist was saying they finally found a way to explain the origin of ‘Oumuamua other than as an alien spacecraft.”
(5) MOORCOCK REVEALED WHEN PAYWALL FALLS. Stacy Hollister’s “A Q&A With Michael Moorcock” is an interview with Michael Moorcock about his novel King Of The City that first appeared in the November 2002 Texas Monthly, which has lowered its paywall for the rest of the year.
texasmonthly.com: What’s your mission as a writer?
MM: I’m very moralistic. I think I bear a certain responsibility for the effect of the fiction I write. Anger at injustice, cruelty, or ignorance is what tends to fire me up. I try to show readers where we might all be wearing cultural blinders. I hate imperialism, so therefore much of my early work was an attempt to show admirers of the British Empire, say, what kind of injustice, prejudice and hypocrisy such an empire is based on. I am very uneasy with current Anglophone rhetoric about responsibilities to other parts of the world, for instance. King of the City deals with some of this, especially the destruction of African society by imperial rapacity.
(6) SMALL SHOW RECAP – BEWARE SPOILERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the time ship ended up in British Columbia in 2020 and ended up in a woods which ultimately led them to the set of Supernatural. They didn’t see any members of the cast, but they did see Sam and Dean’s car and opened the trunk, which was full of monster-fighting equipment. They then used the equipment to fight a bunch of zombie-like creatures, and learn the creatures have killed the crew shooting Supernatural.
“How will they finish season 15?” one of the legends asks.
Well, now we know why Supernatural still has seven episodes left to shoot…
(7) ENTERTAINMENT FOR SJW CREDENTIAL OWNERS. Martin Morse Wooster, our designated Financial Times reader, peeked behind the paywall and found that in the April 17 issue Sarah Hemming reviews fiction podcasts.
Nadia, star of Russian For Cats (created by Pam Cameron), has escaped from prison and is desperately seeking refuge. She discovers it with Brian, a loser who lives in a caravan in a state of great disorder and despondency. When Nadia arrives, he finds a confidante and she finds sanctuary.
The only thing is, Nadia is a cat: a talking cat fluent in Russian. Here’s a story ideally suited to lockdown :a gently absurd thriller, featuring a chatty feline, the chance to learn Russian (a short lesson follows each episode), and a sinister explanation for popularity of cat memes. Is your cat spying on you? Do you need to ask?
(9) CASEY OBIT. Past President of the Philadelphia SF Society Hugh Casey died April 21 after a long illness, including a stroke. He is survived by his partner Stephanie Lucas.
In happier times Hugh made File 770 with this humorous incident from 2002:
Philadelphia SF Club President Hugh Casey almost made his show business debut in September. “I was supposed to be checking out an alternate location for meetings, but was unable to make it due to being held up in traffic. In fact I ended up driving into the middle of filming for Kevin Smith’s upcoming movie Jersey Girl – apparently disrupting a shot and getting some crew members very angry at me. I did not see either the director or the stars.”
In 2017, when Casey battled cancer, his friends rallied to raise money for his medical expenses by creating “HughCon” –
…The Rotunda has donated their space, Star Trek-themed band The Roddenberries have donated their time and talent, a number of makers and vendors have donated items for our silent auction, and a lots of people have donated their time and effort
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 22, 1953 — Invaders from Mars premiered. It directed by William Cameron Menzies and produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr. from the script written by Richard Blake with the story by John Tucker Battle. It starred Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Morris Ankrum, Leif Erickson, and Hillary Brooke. Invaders from Mars was nominated for a Retro-Hugo at Noreascon 4 but lost out to The War of The Worlds. Critics at the time liked it quite a bit, and At Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 82% among audience reviewers. You can watch it here.
April 22, 1959 — The Monster Of Piedras Blancas enjoyed its premiere. It was produced by Jack Kevan who started out as a makeup artist on The Wizard of Oz as written and directed by Irvin Berwick who was associate produced later on for The Loch Ness Horror. The screenplay was by H. Haile Chace It starred Jeanne Carmen, Les Tremayne, John Harmon, Don Sullivan, Forrest Lewis, and Pete Dunn. It received universally negative criticism with most calling it amateurish with the script, dialogue, and monster design being noted s being bad. It holds a not terribly bad 33% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You’re in for for a special treat as you can see it here.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 22, 1902 — Philip Latham. Name used by Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, With the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comeback novel starts this way: ‘ When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .’ It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.)
Born April 22, 1934 — Sheldon Jaffery. An editor and bibliographer of pulps whose non-fiction Work and genre anthologies are both fascinating. Among the latter are such publications as Sensuous Science Fiction From the Weird and Spicy Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps, and from the former are Future and Fantastic Worlds: Bibliography of DAW Books, The Arkham House Companion: Fifty Years of Arkham House and Collector’s Index to Weird Tales. (Died 2003.)
Born April 22, 1937 — Jack Nicholson, 82. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim Burton’s The Batman. I watched the last one, was not impressed.
Born April 22, 1944 — Damien Broderick, 76. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality” in SF. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good.
Born April 22, 1967 — Sheryl Lee, 53. Best remembered as being cast by David Lynch as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson in Twin Peaks and in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and reprised in the later Twin Peaks. Her other interesting genre role was playing the title role in Guinevere based on Persia Woolley’s Guinevere trilogy. Finally, she was Katrina in John Carpenter’s Vampires for which she won the very cool sounding Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Born April 22, 1977 – Kate Baker, 43. Editor along with with Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace of the last two print issues Clarkesworld. She’s won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award (Special Award: Non Professional) in 2014, all alongside the editorial staff of Clarkesworld. She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear here. (Warning for subject matters abuse and suicide.)
Born April 22, 1978 — Manu Intiraymi, 42. He played the former Borg Icheb on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. A role that he played a remarkable eleven times. And this Birthday research led me to discovering yet another video Trek fanfic, this time in guise of Star Trek: Renegades in which he reprised his role. Any Trekkies here watch this?
Born April 22, 1984 — Michelle Ryan, 36. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”. She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. FinallyI’ll note sheplayed Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare.
“The ‘powers that be’ — white male editors at white publications — have kept folks of color to a minimum on their pages so as not to cause a stir. That’s the case still,” says Barbara Brandon-Croft, whose trailblazing strip “Where I’m Coming From” was distributed by Universal Press Syndicate from 1991 to 2005 — making her the first black woman to achieve national mainstream syndication as a cartoonist.
“You had to go to the black newspapers — as early as the ’30s — to find black characters drawn by black hands,” she says. ”And a black woman lead — what? Jackie Ormes’s ‘Torchy Brown’ was truly groundbreaking.” (Ormes, the first African American woman to have a syndicated comic strip, was elected to the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame in 2018.)
Sources close to the production have confirmed that creator Jon Favreau has been “writing season 3 for a while,” and that the art department, led by Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director Doug Chiang, has been creating concepts for Season 3 “for the past few weeks.”
…The Mouse House also has two others series from a Galaxy far, far away in the works, namely an Obi-Wan Kenobi series with Ewan McGregor reprising the iconic role, and a Cassian Andor series starring Diego Luna, which recently added Stellan Skarsgard and Kyle Soller, as Variety reported exclusively.
As the comic book industry seeks to rebuild in the wake of store closures and publication pauses caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) is announcing the formation of a new fund specifically aimed at assisting comics, the Comicbook United Fund.
Combining the $100,000 pledged last year to BINC from the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group to support comic book retailers with the $250,000 pledged earlier this month by DC, the Comicbook United Fund is intended to be the central location for any and all figures and organizations hoping to raise money for comic book retailers.
(16) EMERGENCY. The roleplaying game designer Guy McLimore (FASA’s Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game, Mekton Empire, The Fantasy Trip) says he had to break social distancing for an exceptionally good reason:
…I’m sure, in her incredible, gifted, magnificent imagination, she never even considered for a second that, almost 100 years into her future, someone whose parents weren’t yet born would take her work, bring it to life in a unique way, and then distribute that new work to anyone who wants it, in the world, without even getting out of my desk chair.
What amazing thing is sitting just over our horizon? What amazing thing is waiting for our grandchildren that we can’t even imagine right now? Why aren’t we doing more to protect our planet and each other, so our grandchildren don’t have to live in some apocalyptic nightmare?
A team of researchers from India, upon discovering a new species of green pit vipers, have decided to name the snake after the one, the only Salazar Slytherin. Their findings were published this month in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.
For those not familiar with Harry Potter, a quick history lesson. In a nutshell, Salazar Slytherin was one of the founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his pals Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff.
Along with being some of the most powerful witches and wizards of their time in the Harry Potter world, they’re also the namesakes of the four Hogwarts houses.
Slytherin, partly known for his ability to talk to snakes, is linked to the animals — the snake is, after all, the symbol of the Slytherin Hogwarts house. That’s why the researchers chose the name Trimeresurus salazar.
A Richardson man who has had a lifelong love of “Star Wars” and particularly stormtroopers, took to the streets to bring a smile and an important message to his neighbors.
Rob Johnson dressed up as a stormtrooper and patrolled the sidewalks near his home carrying signs reminding people “Good guys wear masks” and “move alone, move alone.”
The stormtrooper shows a sense of humor too, with one sign reading, “Have you seen my droid, TP4U?”
(21) TV TIME. Edgar Wright’s doing a thing on Twitter:
Not specifically genre related but it looks fun. Here’s some relevant replies:
[Thanks to Cath Jackel, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, rcade, Bill, Daniel Dern, N., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(3) TRAVEL BROCHURE. In “Worlds Enough and Tim”, Camestros Felapton and Timothy the Talking Cat plot a way to get out of their apartment without the inconvenience of contracting the plague.
…[Timothy] …shut that pie hole for a moment, please! This isn’t a regular cruise! It’s not a cruise on the sea! It is a cruise ship of THE IMAGINATION! [Camestros] Gasp! Tell me more…
Timothy clicked the settings menu on his Zoom app and switched from ‘dialogue mode’ to ‘conventional narrative form’ and with that the whole story shifted style. With another deft flick of his paws he activated ‘share screen’ and a bright colourful image filled the screen. In a friendly font it announced “Mythopoeic Cruises: Travel the worlds in style”.
“Oooh! A fancy brochure!” said Camestros, who was warming to the idea of ditching this timeline altogether….
Space, even the deep space between the stars, is not entirely empty. As far as we can tell at present, the matter scattered through interstellar space is lifeless. But…appearances can be deceiving. Even if they are not, there’s enough story in the idea of vast beings living in the interstellar depths to attract SF writers. Here are five books that took the idea and ran with it…
… I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since I gave birth to my son, Mox. Actually, if I’m keeping it real, I haven’t slept well since I was pregnant. Nightmares have always been a normal occurrence for me, but during my pregnancy they were more vivid than usual, more visceral, more terrifying. I can only guess it was the hormones, acting as an anabolic steroid for my already overactive imagination. Mox is five and a half now, which means I haven’t slept well in six years.
Exhaustion notwithstanding, my nightmares do provide plenty of fuel for writing, since my thrillers are inspired by the things that scare me the most. For a long time, it was serial killers (and still is). I’m also afraid of dark basements, old cellars, lurking shadows, fog, dimly lit parking lots, the backseat of my car if I’m driving at night, and anytime the doorbell rings.
(6) NASA QA TESTING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From my $DAYJOB (for loosish definitions, as I’m a self-employed/freelance writer), another fun-to-research-and-write article about NASA (I’ve recently written about NASA and 3D printing, and recycling-in-space.) “How NASA does software testing and QA”.
Every quality tester worries about the cost of missing defects. But imagine the scenario when lives are at stake, and when embedded flaws can be expensive or impossible to fix. That’s what it’s like for QA testing at NASA – and it applies to equipment such as rocket engines, fuel mixes, satellites, space habitats, as well as to ordinary computer software and hardware.
What makes NASA’s testing requirements unique? Here’s a take-off point – and how the U.S. space agency’s methods can help not-for-space testers and QA practitioners….
The SFnal sub-heads were at my editor’s suggestion. (An sf story ref or two didn’t make it in.)
(7) TABLEAUS. [Item by JJ.] Getty Museum challenged people who are staying at home to recreate famous works of art. Not genre, but absolutely hilarious. Click on this link to see a long string of them. The creativity is amazing!
Klimt’s Woman in Biscuits:
Vermeer’s Girl With a Purrl Earring
(8) FLIGHTS OF FOUNDRY. Dream Foundry plans to hold Flights of Foundry, a virtual convention for speculative creators and their fans, on May 16-17. Registration is open – and free, although donations are requested. The guests of honor will be:
Comics: Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
Editor: Liz Gorinsky
Fiction: Ken Liu
Games: Andrea Phillips
Illustration: Grace Fong
Translation: Alex Shvartsman and Rachel S. Cordasco
In addition to panels and information sessions, programming will include workshops, a dealer’s room, a virtual consuite (I expect people will be appertaining their own drinks), and more.
There is no cost to register, though donations to defray costs and support Dream Foundry’s other programming are welcomed. Dream Foundry is a registered 501(c)3 dedicated to supporting creators working in the speculative arts as they begin their careers.
Born April 21, 1911 — John Lymington. Between the late Fifties and the mid-Eighties, he wrote twenty-six genre novels, an astonishing number. All of his short fiction was done in 1964 and published in his Night Spiders collection. He’s not made it into the digital realm and I’ll admit that I’ve not heard of him, so I’m hoping the brain trust here can tell me about him.(Died 1983.)
Born April 21, 1933 — Jim Harmon. During the Fifties and Sixties, he wrote more than fifty short stories and novelettes for Amazing Stories, Future Science Fiction, Galaxy Science Fiction, If, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and other magazines. Most of his fiction was collected in Harmon’s Galaxy. EoSF says he has one genre novel, The Contested Earth, whereas ISFDB lists two more, Sex Burns Like Fire and The Man Who Made Maniacs. He’s a member of First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
Born April 21, 1939 — John Bangsund, 81. Australian fan most active from the Sixties through the Eighties. He was instrumental with Andrew Porter in Australia’s winning the 1975 Aussiecon bid, and he was Toastmaster at the Hugo Award ceremony at that con. His fanzine, Australian Science Fiction Review is credited with reviving Australian Fandom in the Sixties. And he’s the instigator of the term Muphry’s law which states that “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.”
Born April 21, 1954 — James Morrison, 66. Lt. Col. Tyrus Cassius ‘T.C.’ McQueen on the short-lived but much loved Space: Above and Beyond series. Starship Troopers without the politics. He’s got a lot of one-off genre appearances including recently showing up as an Air Force General in Captain Marvel, guesting on the Orville series and being Warden Dwight Murphy on Twin Peaks.
Born April 21, 1965 — Fiona Kelleghan, 55. Though an academic to the bone, she has two genre stories “The Secret in the Chest: With Tests, Maps, Mysteries, & Intermittent Discussion Questions” and “The Secret in the Chest”. Of her academic works, I find most fascinating Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work and her forthcoming Alfred Bester, Grand Master: An Annotated Bibliography.
Born April 21, 1971 — Michael Turner. Comics artist known for his work on a Tombraider / Witchblade one-off, the Superman/Batman story involving Supergirl, his own Soulfire, and various covers for DC Comics and Marvel Comics. He would die of bone cancer and A Tribute to Michael Turner with writings from people who knew him would feature a cover done by Alex Ross would be released to cover his medical expenses. (Died 2008.)
Born April 21, 1979 — James McAvoy, 41. In the Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune series, he was Duke Leto II Atreides. Later roles included Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men film franchise, Victor Frankensteinin Victor Frankenstein and Bill Denbrough in It – Chapter Two.
Born April 21, 1980 — Hadley Fraser, 40. His first video acting role was as Gareth in the superb Tenth Doctor story, “Army of Ghosts”. He’d later be Chris in The Lost Tribe, a horror film, and play Viscount Raoul de Chagny in The Phantom of The Opera, as well as being being Tarzan’s father in The Legend of Tarzan. And though not even genre adjacent, I’m legally obligated to point out that he showed up as a British military escort in the recent production of Murder on the Orient Express.
… In the October 1956 premiere issue of Missile and Rockets, the publisher wrote, “This is the age of astronautics. This is the beginning of the unfolding of the era of space flight. This is to be the most revealing and the most fascinating age since man first inhabited the earth.”
In the midst of the Cold War, space started to become a real place in popular culture as both fiction and fact began riding on the back of a galloping technology and could not dismount for fear of breaking their necks. Together, they were on a convergent course, and the lines separating fact from fiction became more blurred. Nonfiction books that romanticized humanity’s future in the new frontier of space started to borrow the look and feel of many of the popular pulps.
This essay attempts to explore the origins of some of the national space rhetoric that appeared during the Cold War, the way its use in political documents, congressional reports and campaigns tells us something about the self-image of Americans in the early to mid 1960s, and how this rhetoric may have influenced Gene Roddenberry during the creation of his pioneering and highly influential television series Star Trek….
This novel is about Lois Cairns, a film critic in Toronto who stumbles upon the work of what she believes to be Canada’s first female filmmaker. The latter, Mrs. Whitcomb, mysteriously disappeared in 1918, leaving behind canisters of film containing scenes from the Wendish legend of Lady Midday, a deity who shines so bright that you cannot look upon her face, and who sports a pair of shears sharp enough to cut off heads. The beauty of this novel is how it combines the mundane details of Lois’ life (she has a son with autism) with the more mysterious elements. Like several of the novels on this list, it flitters on the border between psychological thriller and horror, which is my favorite kind of read.
Facebook has banned event listings that violate government social distancing policies.
On Monday, the social media giant removed the listing for anti-quarantine protests in California, New Jersey, and Nebraska.
The discussion sparked outrage from some including the son of President Donald Trump who claimed the company’s move violated free speech.
Protests have been planned for across the US calling for the lifting of stay-at-home orders.
Facebook said it consulted with local governments and would only take down events that violated states’ guidelines.
“Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook,” a spokesperson said.
The movie adaptation of the upcoming “The Hunger Games” prequel book “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” from author Suzanne Collins is a go at Lionsgate, and the creative team from the original films, including director Francis Lawrence, is all returning for the new film, Lionsgate motion picture group chairman Joe Drake announced Tuesday.
Lawrence, who directed “Catching Fire” and both “Mockingjay” films, will direct “The Hunger Games” prequel. Collins will write a treatment based on her upcoming novel, Color Force’s Nina Jacobson is returning to the franchise to produce, and Michael Arndt, who wrote “Catching Fire,” will pen the screenplay.
“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” takes place 64 years before the original trilogy, during the 10th annual Hunger Games, and will focus on Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland in the original franchise) at age 18, years before he would become the tyrannical president of Panem.
(16) A NUMBER ONE NEW RELEASE. Yes, I’d say we’re all surprised to learn Amazon has a category for this —
The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for stricter safety and hygiene standards when wet markets reopen.
And it says governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food.
The start of the pandemic was linked to a market in Wuhan, where wildlife was on sale.
Wet markets are common in Asia, Africa and elsewhere, selling fresh fruit and vegetables, poultry, fresh meat, live animals and sometimes wildlife.
The WHO is working with UN bodies to develop guidance on the safe operation of wet markets, which it says are an important source of affordable food and a livelihood for millions of people all over the world.
But in many places, they have been poorly regulated and poorly maintained, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, said in a briefing on Friday.
“WHO’s position is that when these markets are allowed to reopen it should only be on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards,” he said. “Governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food.”
And he added: “Because an estimated 70% of all new viruses come from animals, we also work together closely [with the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, of the United Nations] to understand and prevent pathogens crossing from animals to humans.”
(18) DON’T INVITE HIM TO THE PREMIERE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “How I’m Living Now: David Lynch, Director”, Lynch was asked about life in the time of quarantine, both current & possible future projects, and what he thinks about the upcoming movie adaptation of Dune. On that latter:
This week they released a few photos from the new big-screen adaptation of Dune by Denis Villeneuve. Have you seen them?
I have zero interest in Dune.
Because it was a heartache for me. It was a failure and I didn’t have final cut. I’ve told this story a billion times. It’s not the film I wanted to make. I like certain parts of it very much — but it was a total failure for me.
You would never see someone else’s adaptation of Dune?
I said I’ve got zero interest.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Mandalorian Theme (Cello Cover)” on YouTube is Nicholas Yee’s adaptation for cello of the theme to The Mandalorian.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit and two stars go to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) TOPICAL TV IDEAS. The Vulture asked TV’s idle talent to take up the challenge: “If I Wrote a Coronavirus Episode”. Tagline: “Tina Fey, Mike Schur, and 35 more TV writers on what their characters would do in a pandemic.” If you scroll way down there’s one for Picard, although most of the others are funnier. By comparison, this bit for Sheldon Cooper is spot on —
“I’m not one to brag, but I was practicing social distancing back when it was called ‘Who’s the weird kid alone in the corner?’ And at the risk of sounding like a hipster, I was washing my hands 30 times a day before it was cool. I do, however, miss being with my friends. Sitting around eating Chinese takeout, sharing my scientific ideas and correcting theirs … that’s my happy place.” —Sheldon Cooper, Ph.D., The Big Bang Theory (Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro)
(2) SUPPORT AVAILABLE FOR WRITERS. Publishers Lunch has a standing free reference page listing organizations that offer emergency grants to authors and other creators. Two examples:
Poets & Writers has created a COVID-19 Relief Fund to “provide emergency assistance to writers having difficulty meeting their basic needs.” They will provide grants of up to $1,000 to approximately 80 writers in April. The board allocated $50,000, which has been supplemented by gifts from supporters including Michael Piestch and Zibby Owens.
We Need Diverse Books will provide emergency grants to diverse authors, illustrators, and publishing professionals “who are experiencing dire financial need.” They will give grants of $500 each, and are limiting the first round of applications to 70.
Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle is defending the legality of the organization’s National Emergency Library initiative to a U.S. Senator who last week raised concerns that the effort may be infringing the rights of authors and publishers.
…In his three-page response to [Senator] Tillis, Kahle rejected those criticisms, and explained the creation of National Emergency Library using the Senator’s constituents to illustrate its utility.
“Your constituents have paid for millions of books they currently cannot access,” Kahle explained, adding that North Carolina’s public libraries house more than 15 million print book volumes in 323 library branches across the state. “The massive public investment paid for by taxpaying citizens is unavailable to the very people who funded it,” he writes. “The National Emergency Library was envisioned to meet this challenge of providing digital access to print materials, helping teachers, students and communities gain access to books while their schools and libraries are closed.”
Kahle further maintained that “the vast majority” of the books in the National Emergency Library, mostly 20th Century books, are not commercially available in e-book form, and said the collection contains no books published in the last five years.
“[For] access to those books, readers and students can continue to turn to services like OverDrive and hoopla,” Kahle explained, making what defenders say is a critical distinction: commercial providers offer patrons access to e-books; the National Emergency Library is providing stopgap digital access to scans of paper books that are locked away in shuttered libraries and schools. “That is where the National Emergency Library fills the gap,” Kahle insists.
(4) LEGACY. [Item by Steve Davidson.] From Faaneds on Facebook: A friend is going through the personal effects of a passed fan and came across a number of LOCs by Michael W. Waite. Does anyone here know if there are any family members/friends who would appreciate having these?
I was talking to my friend, Cory, over the weekend, and we decided that we would each read and release something the other had written, because why not?
I’m a huge fan and admirer of Cory both as a human and as a creative person. He’s been my primary mentor since I started writing professionally, and I owe him more than I’ll ever be able to properly repay. It’s not unreasonable to say that, without Cory’s guidance and kindness, I wouldn’t be a published author.
So it’s with excitement (and a little trepidation, because I don’t want to disappoint my friend) that I chose one of Cory’s fantastic short stories from way back in 1999, which he describes this way:
This is the story of the ogres who run the concession stands on Pleasure Island, where Pinocchio’s friend Lampwick turned into a donkey. Like much of my stuff, this has a tie-in with Walt Disney World; the idea came to me on the Pinocchio ride in the Magic Kingdom, in 1993.
Happy National Poetry Month! We have a dozen poems here pulled from past and current issues to celebrate our poets this year. Each of these poems is striking in its own way, and I hope you enjoy the many voices and styles to come. First up is “All Saints Day” by Lisa Bellamy, read by Diana Marie Delgado, followed by “All the Weight” by Holly Day, read by Emily Hockaday, “The Celestial Body” read and written by Leslie J. Anderson, “The Destroyer is in Doubt about Net Neutrality” read and written by Martin Ott, “Unlooping” read and written by Marie Vibbert, “Attack of the 50 foot Woman” read and written by Ron Koertge, “The Language of Water,” by Jane Yolen, read by Monica Wendel, “Archaeologists Uncover Bones, Bifocals, a Tricycle” read and written by Steven Withrow, “Objects in Space” by Josh Pearce, read by R.J. Carey, “Small Certainties” by Sara Polsky, read by Emily Hockaday, “Palate of the Babel Fish” read and written by Todd Dillard, and finally “After a Year of Solitude” by Lora Gray, read by Jackie Sherbow.
(7) SOUNDS PRETTY NUTTY. In the Washington Post, as part of his annual celebration of Squirrel Week, John Kelly has a piece about the Norse god Ratatoskr, a squirrel with a giant horn in the center of his head who ferried messages up and down the great World Tree. “Meet Ratatoskr, mischievous messenger squirrel to the Viking gods”. Incidentally, long before there was File 770, Bruce Pelz’ Ratatosk was the fannish newzine of record.
…Most of what we know about the stories Vikings told each other comes from Snorri Sturluson, who was an Icelandic poet and lawyer, a combination not quite so rare then as now. Snorri (1179-1241) was ambitious. He journeyed from Iceland to Norway to ingratiate himself with leaders there and pick up skills….
In May of 1944, George Walton Lucas Jr. was born, twenty-three years later, he graduated from USC, and a decade after that he changed the world forever by releasing Star Wars. The Star Wars franchise is a phenomenon like no other, and nobody, not even the maker himself, could have predicted its impact.
The headline quote is #9. Here is ScreenRant’s commentary:
…Before The Last Jedi came to be, the prequels were the kings of controversy. After seeing a rough cut of his film in 1999, Lucas said the famous quote to a small screening room “I may have gone too far in a few places.”
Ironically, in behind the scenes videos of The Phantom Menace, Lucas talks about how the key to these types of films is not to go too far. This quote shows Lucas’ self-awareness and references the disjointedness of the movie.
(9) SULLIVAN OBIT. Ann Sullivan, the Disney animator behind The Little Mermaid and The Lion King, has died at the age of 91. She is the third member of the Motion Picture and Television Fund retirement home to die as a result of the coronavirus. The Hollywood Reporter paid tribute.
… Sullivan re-entered the business in 1973, when she started at Filmnation Hanna Barbera. She later returned to Disney, landing credits on studio titles from the late-1980s to the mid-2000s. Sullivan worked in the paint lab on…1989’s The Little Mermaid…and 1992’s Cool World. She painted for the 1990 short The Prince and the Pauper; 1994’s The Lion King; 1995’s Pocahontas; 1997’s Hercules; 1999’s Tarzan and Fantasia 2000; 2000’s The Emperor’s New Groove; and 2002’s Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet. Sullivan also is credited as having worked as a cel painter on 1994’s The Pagemaster and for performing additional caps and painting on 2004’s Home on the Range.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 14, 2010 — In the United States, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (in French,Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec) premiered. It was directed by Luc Besson from his own screenplay. It was produced by Virginie Besson-Silla, his wife. It starred Louise Bourgoin, Mathieu Amalric, Philippe Nahon, Gilles Lellouche and Jean-Paul Rouve. It was narrated by Bernard Lanneau. It is rather loosely based upon “Adèle and the Beast” and “Mummies on Parade” by Jacques Tardi. Critics world-wide loved it, and the box office was very good, but the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a oddly muted 54% rating. Be advised the Shout Factory! DVD is a censored PG rating version but the Blu-Ray is uncensored.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 14, 1929 — Gerry Anderson. English television and film producer, director, writer and if need be voice artist. Thunderbirds which ran for thirty-two episodes was I think the best of his puppet based shows though Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Fireball XL5 and Stingray are definitely also worth seeing. Later on, he would move into live productions with Space: 1999 being the last production under the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. (Died 2012.)
Born April 14, 1935 — Jack McDevitt, 85. If you read nothing else by him, read Time Travelers Never Die as it’s a great riff on the paradoxes of time travel. If you’ve got quite a bit of time, his Alex Benedict space opera series is a fresh approach to conflict between two alien races.
Born April 14, 1936 — Arlene Martel. No doubt you’ll best remember her as T’Pring in Star Trek’s “Amok Time” as it was a rather memorable episode. She also had roles in one-offs in a lot of genre series including Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, Mission:Impossible, The Delphi Bureau, I Dream of Jeannie, Man from Atlantis, My Favorite Martian, The Six Million Dollar Man and Battlestar Galactica. (Died 2014.)
Born April 14, 1949 — Dave Gibbons, 71. He is best known for his work with writer Alan Moore, which includes Watchmen and the Superman story ”For the Man Who Has Everything” (adapted to television twice, first into the same-named episode of Justice League Unlimited and then more loosely into “For the Girl Who Has Everything”.) He also did work for 2000 AD where he created Rogue Trooper, and was the lead artist on Doctor Who Weekly and Doctor Who Monthly
Born April 14, 1954 — Bruce Sterling, 66. Islands in the Net is I think is his finest work as it’s where his characters are best developed and the near future setting is quietly impressive. Admittedly I’m also fond of The Difference Engine which he co-wrote with Gibson which is neither of these things. He edited Mirrorshades: A Cyberpunk Anthology which is still the finest volume of cyberpunk stories that’s been published to date. He’s won two Best Novelette Hugos, one for “Bicycle Repairman” at LoneStarCon 2, and one at AussieCon Three for “Taklamakan”.
Born April 14, 1958 — Peter Capaldi, 62. Twelfth Doctor. Not going to rank as high as the Thirteenth, Tenth Doctor or the Seventh Doctor on my list of favorite Doctors, let alone the Fourth Doctor who remains My Doctor, but I thought he did a decent enough take on the role. His first genre appearance was as Angus Flint in the decidedly weird Lair of the White Worm, very loosely based on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name. He pops up in World War Z as a W.H.O. Doctor before voicing Mr. Curry in Paddington, the story of Paddington Bear. He also voices Rabbit in Christopher Robin. On the boob tube, he’s been The Angel Islington in Neverwhere. (Almost remade by Jim Henson but not quite.) He was in Iain Banks’ The Crow Road as Rory McHoan (Not genre but worth noting). He played Gordon Fleming in two episodes of Sea of Souls series. Before being the Twelfth Doctor, he was on Torchwood as John Frobisher. He is a magnificent Cardinal Richelieu in The Musketeers series running on BBC. And he’s involved in the current animated Watership Down series as the voice of Kehaar.
Born April 14, 1977 — Sarah Michelle Gellar, 43. Buffy Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, I watched every episode. Great show. Even watched every bit of Angel as well. Her first genre role was as Casey “Cici” Cooper in Scream 2 followed by voicing Gwendy Doll in Small Soldiers. Her performance as Kathryn Merteuil in Cruel Intentions is simply bone chillingly scary. I’ve not seen, nor plan to see, either of the Scooby-Do films so I’ve no idea how she is Daphne Blake. Finally, she voiced April O’Neil in the one of latest animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films.
Born April 14, 1982 — Rachel Swirsky, 38. Her “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” novella (lovely title that) won a Nebula Award, and her short story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” would do a short while later. Very impressive. I’ve read her “Eros, Philia, Agape” which is wonderful and “Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia” which is strange and well, go read it.
In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.”
Today, we look at Jerry Siegel plunder the Funny Pages as he, himself, becomes the villain of a Superman story involving other newspaper comic strips!
The whole thing went down in the opening story in 1942’s Superman #19 (by Siegel, Ed Dobrotka and John Sikela)…
With the coronavirus pandemic grinding the comic book industry to all halt, there has been much talk about what is to be done with the “direct market”. But just what exactly is the direct market, and how did it come to be? And perhaps more pressing, what will happen to the direct market in a post-COVID-19 world?
Believe it or not, there was a time comic books were purchased outside of comic book shop, carried by newsstands, grocery stores, and even gas stations. However, the comic book shop model, primarily engineered by Phil Seuling in 1972, offered several advantages. The system was known as the “direct market” because it bypassed traditional newspaper and magazine distributors. It offered a much more diverse line of content than the newsstands, including comic books aimed at an adult audience. One of the primary advantages for the distributor was that the comic books were unreturnable unlike newsstands, which would traditionally return all unsold merchandise….
Much history ensues. Then —
…Because of all of these factors and more, the future of the direct market is looking increasingly uncertain. In addition to the growing concern that many retailers will have to close their doors due to the coronavirus, the comic book industry itself seems destined for an overhaul. Some comic book shop owners are considering the possibility of re-negotiating with Diamond, while others are considering trying to bypass the current distribution system altogether. The direct market has served the comic book industry well for nearly fifty years, but it might be time to ask – what will best serve the comic book industry for the next fifty?
Adri: There have been a few feelings knocking around! And about an hour of my life in which it has been unclear whether I should cry, shout, laugh, breathe, throw up, and indeed if I could do any one of those things without the others happening too.
Also, while I’ve definitely experienced the post-announcement Twitter love before, CoNZealand’s decision to schedule a streamed announcement at a timezone that worked for as many Hugo-voter-heavy countries as possible, and the general enthusiasm for people to get online at the moment and hang out, meant that the announcement feed and stream just felt so full of frenzied excitement and love for everyone. Definitely a very heightened moment and, yeah, I’ll absolutely take that finalist status, even if I was already swanning around Dublin wearing the “Finalist” badge ribbon last year.
Joe: I absolutely enjoyed that youtube sidebar chat during the announcement, even if it ultimately did amount to a bunch of people just mashing their keyboards at the same time in excitement.
With Streaming Spotlight, existing customers can integrate Kafka monitoring metrics into the Pepperdata dashboard, adding detailed visibility into Kafka cluster metrics, broker health, topics and partitions.
Kafka is a distributed event streaming platform and acts as the central hub for an integrated set of messaging systems. Kafka’s architecture of brokers, topics and data replication supports high availability, high-throughput and publish-subscribe environments. For some users, Kafka handles trillions of messages per day.
Managing these data pipelines and systems is complex and requires deep insight to ensure these systems run at optimal efficiency….
Since I was not present when Eileen Kernaghan, Tanya Huff and myself were inducted into the CSFFA Science Fiction Hall of Fame during the Aurora Awards ceremony at Can-Con last year, CSFFA planned to present the plaque to me (and I assume to Eileen) at the Creative Ink Festival in May this year. But, as we all know, Covid-19 forced the CIF to cancel.
Consequently, CSFFA elected to mail me the plaque….
The Janus-like trophy features on one side the visage of an aging knight representing venerable fantasy, blended with vegetation and rather resembling a forest-spirit Don Quixote, an ancient book to the right of his beard, and on the other side the fresh face of a proud, young aviatrix representing the cutting edge of science fiction as perceived back in the 1930s, a rocket ship in flight just to the right of her neck. A most splendid and evocative trophy. Each inductee gets a plaque like this one. The trophy is on display throughout the year in various libraries.
(18) HIGH-SPEED HYPERLOOP PROJECTS WILL BEGIN OPERATION NO EARLIER THAN 2040. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Let’s make notes in our calendars so we can check whether they’re right…
Lux has found that, while the Hyperloop concept is technically feasible, it will require significant development to become cost-effective. The Hyperloop differs from conventional rail because it operates in a vacuum system that reduces aerodynamic drag, thus enabling higher speeds and greater energy efficiency. There are four main design elements creating technical challenges with the Hyperloop: pillar and tube design, pod design, propulsion and levitation of the pods, and station design.
Lux Research found that pod design is the fastest-growing area for Hyperloop patent activity, with a focus on improving comfort and performance. Customer comfort is important due to the compact, enclosed spaces with no windows, which can increase the likelihood of customers getting sick. Optimizing pod performance is key to minimizing drag and reducing costs because pod design choices have a significant impact on tube design and aerodynamics. Propulsion and levitation systems have the least patent activity, in part due to the fact that Hyperloop will likely adapt magnetic levitation, or maglev, technology.
One of the biggest technical challenges will be identifying the optimal system pressure and minimizing leakage of the vacuum system, which, if higher than expected, can increase operating costs and reduce top speeds. “Selecting the Hyperloop’s tube pressure is the most important factor impacting cost, for both operational expenses and the initial capital needed for tube design and construction,” says Lux Research Associate Chad Goldberg….
French space scientists are using the COVID-19 lockdown as a dry run for what it will be like to be cooped up inside a space craft on a mission to Mars.
The guinea pigs in the experiment are 60 students who are confined to their dormitory rooms in the southern city of Toulouse – not far removed from the kind of conditions they might experience on a long space mission.
When the French government imposed movement restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, space researcher Stephanie Lizy-Destrez decided to make the most of a bad situation, and signed up the student volunteers.
It’s not an exact simulation of space flight: tasks such as picking up samples from a planet’s surface using a lunar rover do not feature, and the students can break off from their virtual space journey for a daily trip outside.
Instead, they conduct computer-based tasks such as memory tests and mental agility tests. They keep a daily journal, and every five days have to complete a questionnaire.
(20) SOCIAL DISTANCING EARTH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Spacecraft BepiColombo’s handlers have published a GIF of Earth as seen from the craft during a recent flyby. BepiColombo was slingshotting past Earth on its way to a Mercury survey mission. BC presumably wished us well in handling COVID-19, and made sure to stay far enough away not to pick up the virus. “BepiColombo takes last snaps of Earth en route to Mercury”.
The ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission completed its first flyby on 10 April, as the spacecraft came less than 12 700 km from Earth’s surface at 06:25 CEST, steering its trajectory towards the final destination, Mercury. Images gathered just before closest approach portray our planet shining through darkness, during one of humankind’s most challenging times in recent history.
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Cole Porter” Dern.]