(1) KLOOS SIGNS OFF TWITTER. Marko Kloos left Facebook seven months ago, and today deleted his Twitter account, too. He explains why in “Writing and the Internet”.
I have to come to realize that over the last few years, the Internet has had a profoundly corrosive effect on my professional output and occasionally even my emotional health.
This effect has been especially severe in two areas: social media and email, both of which basically constituted my consent to being easily and directly available to contact by anyone with an Internet connection. In Twitter’s case, that contact has also been fully public, which means that anyone with a Twitter account has been able to see and share any conversation I’ve had with people outside of direct messages.
As of today, I am withdrawing that consent by getting off social media and curtailing my availability via email.
Late last year, I got so tired of the constant necessity to curate my Facebook feed and the drama resulting from pruning my Friends list that I pulled the plug for good and deleted my account. In the seven months since then, I have not missed it, and beyond a few concerned messages from long-time Facebook acquaintances, my absence has been inconsequential to the world and a lot less aggravation and anxiety in my life. Last night, I deleted my Twitter account as well, for slightly different reasons that boil down to the strong feeling that it will have a similar life-improving consequence….
… To put it bluntly: I can no longer allow anyone with a smartphone and a data plan the potential ability to darken my day or interrupt my work by trying to pick an argument or fill my Twitter feed with aggravating stuff. Most emails and Twitter interactions with fans have been fun and positive, but there have been exceptions. And even the well-meaning emails from happy readers take a slice out of my writing time.
(2) FORTY WHACKS. Autopsies are so fun. Vulture’s Abraham Riesman wonders: “Marvel on Netflix: What Went Wrong?”
… And hoo boy, their expectations were met. That inaugural installment of Jessica Jones was a true humdinger. It was distinctive without being flashy, mature without being ponderous, ambitious without being self-satisfied, sexy without being exploitative, and just … good. I can’t tell you how much of a revelation a good superhero show was at that time. We were used to spandex outings that were inane, formulaic, and utterly uninterested in pushing a single envelope. But here was a tale that seemed like it was going to grapple with everything from PTSD to queerness and do it all with style. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg and star Krysten Ritter genuinely seemed to be elevating the game. As soon as the screening was done, I rushed to the lobby to get reception and email my editor like an old-timey reporter clamoring for a pay phone just after getting a hot scoop. I have seen the future of superheroes, I thought, and it is Marvel Netflix.
If it ever was the future, it is now the past. This week sees the barely ballyhooed release of the third and final season of Jessica Jones, which is itself the final season of Marvel’s four-year Netflix experiment. Its death has been agonizingly and humiliatingly gradual: Over the course of the past few months, each of the five ongoing series that made it up has been given the ax, one after another. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher; their fans saw them all go the way of the dodo — without fanfare….
(3) ENDS WITH A BANG. Fast Company’s article “The most expensive hyphen in history” unpacks an historic incident in the U.S. space program (that inspired a scene in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Calculating Stars.)
Mariner 1 was launched atop a 103-foot-tall Atlas-Agena rocket at 5:21 a.m. EDT. For 3 minutes and 32 seconds, it rose perfectly, accelerating to the edge of space, nearly 100 miles up.
But at that moment, Mariner 1 started to veer in odd, unplanned ways, first aiming northwest, then pointing nose down. The rocket was out of control and headed for the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic. Four minutes and 50 seconds into flight, a range safety officer at Cape Canaveral—in an effort to prevent the rocket from hitting people or land—flipped two switches, and explosives in the Atlas blew the rocket apart in a spectacular cascade of fireworks visible back in Florida.
… A single handwritten line, the length of a hyphen, doomed the most elaborate spaceship the U.S. had until then designed, along with its launch rocket. Or rather, the absence of that bar doomed it. The error cost $18.5 million ($156 million today).
(4) BATMAN AT 80. The Society of Illustrators is opening several momentous Batman exhibits at its New York museum.
Join us for a celebration of three momentous exhibits:
- Batman Collected: Chip Kidd’s Batman Obsession
- Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan
- Illustrating Batman: Eighty Years of Comics and Pop Culture
(5) DON’T PANIC. Now available on the Internet at the Strange Texts blog (after no small delay) is Lee Whiteside’s “A report on DON’T PANIC and DIRK GENTLY and their relation to Doctor Who”, written in 1988 to mark the US release of the Neil Gaiman / Douglas Adams book Don’t Panic and originally posted on the Magrathea BBS.
Starting out with Dirk Gently, Adams breaks away from the science-fiction/comedy genre a bit, creating a “ghost-horror-detective-time travel-romantic comedy epic” as the promotional copy on the hardback release claims. It does combine several divergent plotlines that mostly come together at the end. The main characters include a computer programmer, a mysterious detective, and an eccentric professor along with an Electric Monk, and an ancient ghost (as well as a more recent one). Part of the plot line of the book is similar to the Doctor Who story “City Of Death” with the main characters involved with an alien being from the past and using a time travel machine to defeat it. The time travelling done in Dirk Gently seems to be done by TARDIS. The professor in the book is Professor Chronotis from the Doctor Who story Shada that was written by Douglas Adams but was never completed. The setting of Cambridge, is also the same. Overall, it is an enjoyable book, although a bit hard to follow at times.
With the release of the HHG Companion book, even more links with Doctor Who are made known. Neil Gaiman has done a good job chronicling the history of the Hitchhiker’s Guide along with the rest of Douglas Adams career to date.
(6) CHANDLER AWARD. This is what the 2019 A. Bertram Chandler Award looks like – Edwina Harvey posted the photo.
(7) TREE OBIT. “The tree thought to have inspired Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’ has fallen” — CNN has before and after photos:
The Lorax would be devastated to hear that the tree that inspired Dr. Seuss’ 1971 children’s book has fallen.
The Monterey Cypress tree was at Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla, California, the seaside community where author Theodor Seuss Geisel lived from 1948 until his death in 1991.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
- June 18, 1964 — The Twilight Zone aired its series finale: “The Bewitchin’ Pool”.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born June 18, 1908 — Bud Collyer. He was voiced both the Man of Steel and Clark Kent on The Adventures Of Superman radio show in the Forties on the Mutual Broadcasting System. He also voiced them in the animated The New Adventures of Superman which was a Filmation production. Joan Alexander voiced Lois Lane in both shows. (Died 1969.)
- Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. You likely know him as Paladin on Have Gun – Will Travel, but he does have some genre appearances including on The Last Dinosaur as Maston Thrust Jr. and in Rankin Bass’s The Hobbit the voice of Smaug. He also played Robert Kraft in I Bury the Living, a horror flick that I think has zombies and more zombies. (Died 1981.)
- Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. He was a fan who was a legendary book dealer that really hated being called a huckster. He was active at SF conventions from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. He was guest of honor at ICON (Iowa) 12. Fancyclopedia 3 says it was themed “money-grubbing capitalist con” in his honor. (Died 2012.)
- Born June 18, 1942 — Paul McCartney, 77. Well, I could include him for the Magical Mystery Tour which might be genre, but I’m not. He actually has a cameo in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales as a character named Uncle Jack in a cell playing poker singing “Maggie May”. A shortened version of the song is on the Let It Be album.
- Born June 18, 1945 — Redmond Simonsen. Coined term ‘games designer’. Best remembered for his design of the Seventies games Starforce: Alpha Centauri, Battlefleet Mars and Sorcerer. He cofounded Simulations Publications Inc (SPI) with James Dunnigan. (Died 2005.)
- Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 72. Best known for playing Tara King in The Avengers. For her role in that series, she received a special BAFTA at the 2000 BAFTA TV Awards along with the other three actresses from the series, Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley and Diana Rigg. She’s also been in Return of the Saint, Tales from the Darkside, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, F/X: The Series and Monsters.
- Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 70. He won two Caldecott Medals for U.S. picture book illustration, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, both of which were made into films. Guess which one I like? He illustrated A City in Winter by Mark Helprin which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella.
- Born June 18, 1958 — Jody Lee, 61. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moon for Daw Books in 1985. Her latest was Michelle West’s First Born that came out this year on Daw Books which seems to be her primary client. Her rather excellent website is here.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
- Close To Home is there when diplomas are handed out at the Academy of Paranormal Studies.
(11) POP CULTURE ERASURE. NPR examines the trend in “chauvinist cuts” — misogynist, homophobic and racist cuts of blockbuster films :“‘Avengers,’ But Make It Without Women, Or Men Hugging, Or Levity In General”.
Brie Larson has vanished.
A star of Avengers: Endgame, one of the biggest movies of all time, was completely excised from a modified pirated version of the film — along with everything else in the film seen as feminist or gay.
An anonymous fan edited out shots, scenes and characters in a “defeminized” version circulating now on an illegal streaming site. As well as losing Larson’s character, Captain Marvel, the defeminized edit is missing a scene where Hawkeye teaches his daughter to shoot. (“Young women should learn skills to become good wives and mothers and leave the fighting to men,” the editor opined in an accompanying document.) The role of Black Panther is minimized. (“He’s really not that important.”) Spider-Man doesn’t get rescued by women characters anymore. (“No need to.”) And male characters no longer hug.
(12) FULL FATHOM FIVE. In case you wondered what became of the craft: “‘Boaty McBoatface’ maps deep ocean water”.
Intrepid submarine Boaty McBoatface has made its first significant discovery, say UK scientists.
The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) has built a 3D map of deep ocean waters as they move away from Antarctica.
Researchers previously had limited data to show these currents were warming.
Boaty’s investigations can now confirm that turbulence is causing warm water at mid-depths to mix down and raise the temperature of the colder, denser water running along the ocean floor.
Scientists say they can link this behaviour to changing wind patterns.
…Boaty’s insights are important because they can now be used to fine-tune the models that describe the climate system and how it may change in the future.
(13) MONK-Y BUSINESS. BBC explains why “Belgium monks forced to sell prized beer online to beat resellers”.
Belgian monks who brew one of the world’s most coveted beers are launching a website to prevent unauthorised resellers profiting from their product.
St Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren, Flanders, is one of the world’s 14 official Trappist beer producers.
Buyers can purchase a crate of its Westvleteren beer for around €45 (£40), around €1.80 per bottle.
As a rule, the monks ask customers not to sell their product to third parties.
The abbey’s sales have traditionally been limited to private customers who order by phone before collecting a maximum of two crates in person.
But profiteers have been ignoring their “ethical values” for selling the brew, forcing them to go online to dampen demand on the black market.
The monks were dismayed to find bottles of their beer being resold at an inflated price in a Dutch supermarket last year.
…Now the abbey is turning to an online reservation system, designed to better enforce the limit of two crates per 60 days.
(14) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Retro Hugo Graphic Story Finalist reviews:
Retro Hugo Best Graphic Story
- Buck Rogers: Martians Invade Jupiters
- Flash Gordon: Fiery Desert of Mongo
- Plastic Man #1: The Game of Death
- Le Secret de la Licorne [The Secret of the Unicorn]
- Wonder Woman #5: Battle for Womanhood
(15) PITCH MEETING. Step inside the pitch meeting that led to the final season of Game of Thrones!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day StephenfromOttawa.]