As the 2020 Literary Guest of Honor for Dragon Con, I fully support this decision on the part of the convention. As much as I would have loved to see everyone in Atlanta this year, it’s just not feasible or practicable.
After many months of hand-wringing, sleepless nights, and more Zoom meetings than we can count, we have decided that Dragon Con 2020 event will not be held in person. Trust us, we are just as bummed as you are, but know we did not make this decision lightly. Above all else, we want to thank you, our fans, our partners, the ACVB, and the city of Atlanta for the support you have given us over these past few months.
Their Update Q&A includes this strangely defensive exchange between the committee and….themselves?
Finally! Took you long enough to cancel.
First off, rude. Secondly, not a question. We are so heartbroken that we cannot, in good faith, host a 2020 event. We truly did everything possible to remain positive and exhaust all options – some extremely creative in nature – understanding that a large part of our fan base and key partners truly needed an event to enjoy after the year we have all had. Along the way, we have said that if we did not feel that we could host a Dragon Con quality convention that also kept our fans and community safe, we would make the hard and necessary decision that we announced today. We are looking forward to 2021 when we can all meet again in person.
Part of our intense work on exploring all options was out of respect for our partners, who are going through an unprecedented and painful time with many key people being displaced indefinitely. These people are a major part of the Dragon Con family. If you are local to Atlanta please go out and support our beloved hotels and businesses when it is safe to do so. After all, who doesn’t need a drink at their favorite bar or night away from home at this point?
This year’s convention, scheduled for September 3-7, was originally projected to attract some 90,000 people to downtown Atlanta.
(1) STUCK INSIDE. BBC’s Doctor Who site has posted a new short story by Paul Cornell, “The Shadow Passes”. The setup is —
… She’d been thinking that when Graham had found the sign. It had said, the letters wobbling a little in the way that indicated the TARDIS was translating for them, ‘This way to the shelters’.
‘Am I over-reacting,’ Graham had said, ‘or is that just a tiny bit worrying?’
Which was how they’d ended up in a bare room, one hundred feet underground, sitting in a circle, with the names of famous people stuck to their foreheads….
(2) BOUCHERCON CANCELLED. The annual mystery convention, which was to have been held in Sacramento, CA in October has been cancelled. Provisions will be made for the Anthony Awards and some other components of the con.
We’re terribly sad to tell you this, but out of an abundance of caution and concern for the health and safety of our community, we are canceling Bouchercon 2020.
We have no way of knowing what the balance of this year holds for groups of people gathering, nor can we tell what the state of travel will be.
While we are canceling the actual Bouchercon convention, we are working to develop a different format for some of the Bouchercon events and activities such as the Anthony Awards, the short story anthology and the General Membership meeting. Nominations will continue to be open until June 5 for the Anthony Awards. As we work to develop other ways to present a traditional Bouchercon experience, we’ll keep in touch with you.
I inherited this 25-year-old roll of penguin toilet paper when I bought the Penguin in 2014. And darn it! Come hell or high water (or no more tp) we aren’t going to use it now.
Jim Freund said online, “I think The Penguin Shop, formerly headquartered in Brooklyn and with a physical store at the South Street Seaport called ‘Next Stop, South Pole’ used to carry that TP. 25 years ago sounds about right, so they may well have gotten it from there.”
It’s been almost two years since the last edition of our The Second Sex in SFF series came out. In that time, women have only gotten more underrepresented in our genre. Nevertheless, new women authors continue to arrive on the scene, and some who produced under gender-ambiguous names have become known to me…
(5) WHY THE FUTURE IS COVERED IN KUDZU. Geoff Manaugh, in “Tax Incentives and the Human Imagination” on Bldgblog, says that the landscape of horror films often depends on which state or country offers the biggest tax deductions, including such obscure ones as the amount of expenses caterers can deduct.
…My point is that an entire generation of people—not just Americans, but film viewers and coronavirus quarantine streamers and TV binge-watchers around the world—might have their imaginative landscapes shaped not by immaterial forces, by symbolic archetypes or universal rules bubbling up from the high-pressure depths of human psychology, but instead by tax breaks offered in particular U.S. states at particular moments in American history.
You grow up thinking about Gothic pine forests, or you fall asleep at night with visions of rain-soaked Georgia parking lots crowding your head, but it’s not just because of the aesthetic or atmospheric appeal of those landscapes; it’s because those landscapes are, in effect, receiving imaginative subsidies from local business bureaus. You’re dreaming of them for a reason….
(6) READ A KIJ JOHNSON STORY. Us in Flux is a new series of short stories and virtual gatherings from the Center for Science and the Imagination that explore themes of community, collaboration, and collective imagination in response to transformative events. The project’s second story launched today: “An Attempt at Exhausting My Deck,” by Kij Johnson.
On Monday, April 20 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have a virtual event on Zoom with Kij in conversation with Jessie Rack, an ecologist and coordinator for the Supporting Environmental Education and Communities program at the University of Arizona.
Programming Note: They’ll have two more weekly installments (stories by Chinelo Onwualu and Tochi Onyebuchi), then continue publishing on a biweekly schedule.
(7) DENNEHY OBIT. Actor Brian Dennehy has died at the age of 81. His genre work included the movie Cocoon (1985), the Masters of Science Fiction episode “The Discarded” (2007) – based on a Harlan Ellison story, and voice work in Ratatouille (2007).
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
April 15, 1955 — Science Fiction Theatre aired “Time Is Just A Place” as the second episode of the first season. It’s from Jack Finey’s “Such Interesting Neighbors” (published in Collier’s, 1951) which would later form the basis of the March 20, 1987 adaptation of the story under its original title for Amazing Stories. The story is that neighbors are increasingly suspicious of the inventions of Mr. Heller, who claims to be an inventor, who uses a robotic vacuum cleaner and a flashlight that beams x-rays. It starred Don DeFore, Warren Stevens and Marie Windsor. You can watch it here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 16, 1913 — Lester Tremayne. Between 1953 and 1962, he appeared in these in these genre films: The War of the Worlds, Forbidden Planet, The Monolith Monsters, The Angry Red Planet and Kong vs. Godzilla. He’d later appear in Voyage to theBottom of the Sea, My Favorite Martian, My Living Doll (yes, it’s SF) and Shazam! (Died 2003.)
Born April 16, 1918 — Spike Milligan. Writer and principal star of The Goon Show which lampooned a number of genre works such as H. Rider Haggard’s She, Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, James Hilton’s Lost Horizon and Quatermass and the Pit. You can find these scripts in The Goon Show Scripts and More Goon Show Scripts. (Died 2002.)
Born April 16, 1921 — Peter Ustinov. He had a number of genre appearances such as being in Blackbeard’s Ghost as Captain Blackbeard, in the animated Robin Hood by voicing both Prince John and King Richard, as simply The Old Man In Logan’s Run, Truck Driver In The Great Muppet Caper, and in Alice in Wonderland as The Walrus. He wrote The Old Man and Mr. Smith: A Fable which is clearly genre. (Died 2004.)
Born April 16, 1922 — Kingsley Amis. So have you read The Green Man? I’m still not convinced that anything actually happened, or that rather everything including the hauntings were really in Maurice Allington’s decayed brain. I’m not seeing that he did much else for genre work other outside of The Alteration but he did write Colonel Sun: a James Bond Adventure under the pseudonym of Robert Markham and his New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction sounds fascinating published in the late Fifties, he shares his views on the genre and makes some predictions as there’ll never be a SF series on the boob tube. (Died 1995.)
Born April 16, 1922 — John Christopher. Author of The Tripods, an alien invasion series which was adapted into both a radio and television series. He wrote a lot of genre fiction including the Fireball series in which Rome never fell, and The Death of Grass which I mention because it was one of the many YA post-apocalyptic novels that he wrote in the Fifties and Sixties that sold extremely well in the U.K. (Died 2012.)
Born April 16, 1962 — Kathryn Cramer, 58. Writer, editor, and literary critic. She co-founded The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1988 with David G. Hartwell and others, and was its co-editor until 1991 and again since 1996. She edited with her husband David G. Hartwell Year’s Best Fantasy one through nine and Year’s Best SF seven through seventeen with him as well. They did a number of anthologies of which I’ll single out The Hard SF Renaissance and The Space Opera Renaissance as particularly superb.
Born April 16, 1963 — Scott Nicolay, 57. Navajo writer whose “Do You Like to Look At Monsters?“ was honored with the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. It’s found in his Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed collection. He hosts The Outer Dark, a weekly podcast about weird fiction.
Born April 16, 1983 — Thomas Olde Heuvelt, 37. He won a Novelette Hugo at Sasquan for “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” (translated by Lia Belt). He’s best for HEX, a horror novel, and “You Know How the Story Goes: A Tor.com Original” is his other English language story.
(10) BIRTHDAY QUIZ. And via Lise Andreasen (translated from this tweet):
Who am I? One of my names is þórhildur. I appear on stamps from Greenland. One of my ancestors was Harald Bluetooth. I illustrated Tolkien under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer. I turn 80 today.
Answer: The Danish queen.
(11) CAN YOU DO THIS? Wil Wheaton publicized an opportunity for 3D makers to help frontline workers: “Gamers vs. COVID-19”. Contact info at the link.
My upcoming eSports competition show, Gamemaster, has been delayed like everything else, but the people involved wanted to use the resources they had already mustered for production to do some good at a moment in time when it’s so desperately needed.
So we’re organizing to 3D print what we can for our frontline healthcare workers!
(12) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! Anna Nemtova, in “Chernobyl Is Burning and a Sci-Fi Cult Is Blamed” on The Daily Beast, says that there are substantial fires in Ukraine near Chenobyl (closed to all visitors because of the coronavirus) and authorities blame “stalkers,” devotees of the Arkady and Boris Strugatsky novel Roadside Picnic, who are living on refuse left behind in the new sealed-off region, just like the “stalkers” in the Strugatsky brothers’ novel were scavengers who lived on refuse left behind by alien visitors.
…The Ukrainian state agency monitoring radiation levels has reported toxic lithium in the air, but the health minister reportedly says radiation levels are normal. Meanwhile, winds have brought the smoke in the direction of Kyiv, making hundreds of thousands of people under COVID-19 quarantine think twice before opening windows.
As often happens with wildfires, the cause of the blaze is not entirely clear. But in a truly strange twist, many in the region blame people who call themselves “stalkers,” inspired by characters in the classic science-fiction novel Roadside Picnic published back in 1972, in the Soviet era, by authors Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
It’s a story of how people on Earth deal with a visit by aliens who seem to have stopped off, paid little attention to the inhabitants, and, like irresponsible picnickers, left a lot of their junk lying around in half a dozen “Zones” on the planet. The aliens’ discarded refuse has enormous potential to change life on the planet, if only humans can figure out what it’s for.
Most of the present-day stalkers are respectful of the Exclusion Zone around Chernobyl and some have even fixed up abandoned apartments in the abandoned town of Pripyat. But there are also criminals, and there are constant conflicts with what had been booming legal tourism in the area before coronavirus lockdowns began March 16.
“They hate us tourist guides and our tourists,” Olena Gnes from Chernobyl Tour told The Daily Beast. “Now, when no tourists can travel to Chernobyl’s zone, the ghost city and the villages around belong to them.”
“The fire started right on the paths, where stalkers normally walk,” said Yaroslav Emelianenko, director of the Chernobyl Tour group, who saw the fire and visited burned villages Sunday, then returned to Kyiv to collect generators, respirators, and other aid for firefighters….
Best Fantasy (incl. Paranormal): Victory’s Kiss by Bokerah Brumley
Best YA: The Unbearable Heaviness of Remembering by L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright
Best Mi-SF: Justified by Jon Del Arroz
Best Alt History: This Deadly Engineby (Philip) Matt Ligon
Best Horror: Deus Vult by Declan Finn
(14) RHETORIC…ARISTOTLE…SOMETHING. Five years later (!), Chris Nuttall is still trying to reshape what the Sad and Rabid Puppies did into an argument he can win: “The Right to be Wrong”.
…For example, a few years ago, I attended a panel at a convention that touched on the Sad Puppies controversy. One of the panellists put forward an argument that went a little like this: “Vox Day supports the Sad Puppies, Vox Day is a fascist bastard, therefore the Sad Puppies are evil.” Quite apart from the sheer number of inaccuracies in the statement, it misses the fundamental point that [whatever] is not rendered right or wrong by whoever says it. Just because Vox Day said something doesn’t make it automatically wrong. That argument leads to logical fallacies like “Hitler was a vegetarian and openly promoted the lifestyle, therefore vegetarians are evil.” I’m pretty sure that every last vegetarian would find that fallacy offensive.
The Sad Puppies affair does show, on a small scale, the problems caused by bad faith arguments. No one would have objected to a statement that started “the Sad Puppy books are not Hugo-worthy” and gone on to give a calm and reasonable argument. Even if the arguments were unconvincing, they would not have the corrosive effects of bad faith arguments like the one I mentioned above and many more. …
… Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity suggested the orbit would look like an ellipse, but it doesn’t. The rosette shape, however, holds up Einstein’s theory of relativity.
“Einstein’s general relativity predicts that bound orbits of one object around another are not closed, as in Newtonian gravity, but precess forwards in the plane of motion,” said Reinhard Genzel, in a statement. He is the director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany.
…Sagittarius A* is the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. It’s 26,000 light-years from the sun. Our solar system exists on the edge of one of the Milky Way’s massive spiral arms.
Dense stars can be found around the black hole. One of them, the star known as S2 in this observation, passes closest to the black hole within less than 20 billion kilometers.
It’s one of the closest stars to be found orbiting the black hole.
And when it nears the black hole, the star is moving at 3% the speed of light. It takes 16 Earth years for the star to complete an orbit around the black hole.
“After following the star in its orbit for over two and a half decades, our exquisite measurements robustly detect S2’s Schwarzschild precession in its path around Sagittarius A*,” said Stefan Gillessen, who led the analysis of the measurements at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.
Europe’s newest space telescope has begun ramping up its science operations.
Cheops was launched in December to study and characterise planets outside our Solar System.
And after a period of commissioning and testing, the orbiting observatory is now ready to fulfil its mission.
Early targets for investigation include the so-called “Styrofoam world” Kelt-11b; the “lava planet” 55 Cancri-e; and the “evaporating planet” GJ-436b.
Discovered in previous surveys of the sky, Cheops hopes to add to the knowledge of what these and hundreds of other far-flung objects are really like.
…Kelt-11b has provided a good early demonstration. This is a giant exoplanet some 30% larger than our own Jupiter that orbits very close to a star called HD 93396. Kelt-11b is a seemingly “puffed up” world with a very low density – hence the comparison with expanded foam.
From the way the light from the star dips when Kelt-11b moves in front to make its transit, Cheops’ exquisite photometer instrument is able to determine the planet’s diameter to be 181,600km (plus or minus 4,290km). This measurement is over five times more precise than was possible using a ground-based telescope.
Stars, galaxies, planets, pretty much everything that makes up our everyday lives owes its existence to a cosmic quirk.
The nature of this quirk, which allowed matter to dominate the Universe at the expense of antimatter, remains a mystery.
Now, results from an experiment in Japan could help researchers solve the puzzle – one of the biggest in science.
It hinges on a difference in the way matter and antimatter particles behave.
…During the first fractions of a second of the Big Bang, the hot, dense Universe was fizzing with particle-antiparticle pairs popping in and out of existence. Without some other, unknown mechanism at play, the Universe should contain nothing but leftover energy.
“It would be pretty boring and we wouldn’t be here,” Prof Stefan Söldner-Rembold, head of the particle physics group at the University of Manchester, told BBC News.
So what happened to tip the balance?
That’s where the T2K experiment comes in. T2K is based at the Super-Kamiokande neutrino observatory, based underground in the Kamioka area of Hida, Japan.
In Dan Barouch’s lab, many researchers have not taken a day off since early January, and virtually all are working nearly seven days week to develop a vaccine that could help end the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everybody wants to contribute to this global crisis as best they can,” said Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The team hopes their work will be worth it. There is cause for optimism.
The lab developed a vaccine in collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos., the drug-making arm of Johnson & Johnson. It plans to launch clinical trials in the fall as part of a joint $1 billion collaboration agreement announced by the U.S. government and Johnson & Johnson on March 30…..
Facebook is changing how it treats Covid-19 misinformation after a damning report into its handling of the virus.
Users who have read, watched or shared false coronavirus content will receive a pop-up alert urging them to go the World Health Organisation’s website.
A study had indicated Facebook was frequently failing to clamp down on false posts, particularly when they were in languages other than English.
Facebook said the research did not reflect the work it had done recently.
The California tech firm says it will start showing the messages at the top of news feeds “in the coming weeks”.
The messages will direct people to a World Health Organisation webpage where myths are debunked.
The changes have been prompted by a major study of misinformation on the platform across six languages by Avaaz, a crowdfunded activist group.
Researchers say millions of Facebook users continue to be exposed to coronavirus misinformation, without any warning on the platform.
The group found some of the most dangerous falsehoods had received hundreds of thousands of views, including claims like “black people are resistant to coronavirus” and “Coronavirus is destroyed by chlorine dioxide”.
The cool thing about balloon animals is that, using the same basic inflatable building blocks, a skilled person can create just about anything you could ask for. That same methodology is what’s at the heart of a recent Stanford University and University of California, Santa Barbara, soft robotics project. Described by its creators as a “large-scale isoperimetric soft robot,” it’s a human-scale robot created from a series of identical robot roller modules that are mounted onto inflatable fabric tubes. Just like the balloon animals you remember, this leads to some impressive shape-shifting inventiveness….
[Thanks to Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff (this is the other half of a suggestion, the first part of which ran last year on June 15).]
Writers applying for SFWA membership qualify on the basis of the per-word rate on the date of contract. For example, short fiction sold before September 1, 2019 at six cents per word continue to qualify a writer for SFWA membership, etc.
This change to the SFWA pro rate is the result of market analyses conducted by SFWA Board members, along with a review of the effects of inflation on author compensation. The SFWA pro rate was last changed in 2014, rising from five to six cents per word, and from three to five cents per word in 2004.
(2) AURORA VOTING DEADLINE. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members have
until September 14 to vote in the Aurora
You must be logged in to the website with an active CSFFA membership in order to download the voter’s packages or to vote.
Vote results will be announced at Can-Con October 18 – 20, 2019 in Ottawa (http://can-con.org/) and will be available on the website soon after.
More than 10,000 fans cast ballots for Dragon Award winners, selected from among 91 properties in 15 categories covering the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming, and tabletop gaming.
Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie are among the six authors shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize.
Atwood is in contention again with The Testaments, her eagerly awaited follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale, while Sir Salman makes the cut with Quichotte.
Bernardine Evaristo, Chigozie Obioma, Elif Shafak and US author Lucy Ellmann are also up for the prize.
Both Atwood and Rushdie have won the coveted prize before, in 2000 and 1981 respectively.
Atwood also made the shortlist with The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986….
The winner, whittled down from 151 submissions and a longlist of 13, will be announced on 14 October.
(5) KGB. The Fantastic
Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present
Sarah Beth Durst & Sarah Pinsker on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.
Sarah Beth Durst
Sarah Beth Durst is the author of nineteen fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including The Queens of Renthia series, Drink Slay Love, and The Girl Who Could Not Dream. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. She hopes to one day have her own telepathic dragon.
Sarah Pinsker is the author of over fifty stories as well as the collection Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea and the novel A Song For A New Day, both out in 2019. Her fiction has won the Nebula and Sturgeon awards, and been a finalist for the Hugo, Eugie Foster, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards.
The address of the KGB Bar is 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New
(6) YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. Kenneth R. Johnson says he has “posted a mildly updated version of one of
my on-line indexes” — “FANTASY
GOTHICS”, subtitled, “A comprehensive bibliography of modern Gothics
with genuine fantasy elements.”
About forty years ago I visited a fellow Science Fiction collector who introduced me to the concept of collecting “on the fringes.” I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about the Science Fiction and Fantasy books that had been in published in paperback, but when I examined his collection I saw a large number of books that I had not known about because they had not been marketed as Fantasy. I was especially drawn to the books that had been issued in other genres, such as Mysteries and Romances.
I was particularly struck by the large number of Gothics that were spread throughout his collection. I began looking for these particular crossovers in my visits to second-hand bookstores. Within a few years I had amassed a couple hundred books, but by the early 1980s the Gothic craze had waned and most publishers had dropped the category. The existing books gradually disappeared from the second-hand market. …
Scope of Index
This bibliography is restricted to mass-market paperback books published in the U.S. between the 1960’s and the 1980’s. The deciding factor in whether a book appears here, besides a genuine fantasy element, is how the book was labeled when published. If a particular book had several editions from a given publisher and at least one of them was marketed as a Gothic, then all of that publisher’s editions are listed. Any editions from a publisher who never labeled it as a Gothic are omitted.
(7) BOK WAS ALSO A VERBAL ARTIST. Robert T. Garcia has launched
a Kickstarter appeal to fund publication of “The
Fantastic Fiction of Hannes Bok: Three Fantasies by Bok” with Hannes
Bok’s three published solo novels:
Starstone World, The Sorcerer’s Ship, and Beyond
The Golden Stair (the
unedited version of the novel Blue
Includes an all-new introduction for this collection by Charles de Lint.
For two years I’ve been working on a project that got more interesting the further I got into it. Hannes Bok was one of the 20th Century’s best sf-fantasy-weird fiction artists. He was a painter with an eye for beautiful colors and flowing compositions in a time when sf art was very literal and staid. His paintings featured stylized figures, colors by Parrish, and a creative imagination that could only be Bok’s. And he could not be confined to one discipline in his creativity, there were paintings and line work, poetry and sculpture, intricate wood carvings and—of special interest here—fantasy novels: The Sorcerer’s Ship, Beyond the Golden Stair and Starstone World.
These aren’t your conventional fantasies, although all the trappings are there. They have a sly humor with plots full of twists and turns, stories which take the reader on strange metaphysical paths, and glorious descriptions that could only come from someone with a painter’s eye. Certainly not the most smoothly told tales, but as Lester Del Rey wrote about Beyond the Golden Stair: “in spite of its faults, it has the sense of enchantment so rarely found in most market fantasy. And since our world needs the glamor at least as much as it ever did, let us lose no chance.”
Here’s your chance to experience that glamor. All three of these books have been out-of-print for at least 48 years. That’s too long. They have been left behind, and should be part of the legacy of Hannes Bok, and part of the discussion of early 20th Century fantastic fiction.
At this writing, Garcia has raised $6,623 of the $11,999 goal.
The reason Romana’s regeneration was so unique is that the new actress, Lalla Ward, had already played a different role on the series. In the Season 16 serial “The Armageddon Factor,” the first Romana (Mary Tamm) and the Doctor encountered a character named Princess Astra, who also happened to have been played by Ward. So, when Ward was later cast as the new version of Romana in Season 17, it required an onscreen explanation.
In the scene, the Doctor is freaked out that Romana suddenly looks like someone they both had recently met. “But you can’t wear that body!” he protests. “You can’t go around wearing copies of bodies!” The newly regenerated Romana insists it didn’t matter. She likes the way Princess Astra looks and says they probably aren’t going back to the princess’s home planet of Atrios anyway.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 3, 1953 — The 3-D movie Cat-Women of the Moonpremiered. It starred Marie Windsor and Victor Jory who on a scientific expedition to the Moon encounters a race of cat-women.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 3, 1810 — Theodor von Holst. He was the first artist to illustrate Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1831. The interior illustrations consist of a frontispiece and title page engraved illustrations. (Died 1844.)
Born September 3, 1943 — Mick Farren. Punk musician was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants who wrote also lyrics for Hawkwind. His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire. (Died 2013.)
Born September 3, 1943 — Valerie Perrine, 76. She has uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick is Diamonds Are Forever in her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Sluaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II.
Born September 3, 1954 — Stephen Gregg. Editor and publisher of Eternity Science Fiction which ran 1972 to 1975 and 1979 to 1980. It had early work by Glen Cook, Ed Bryant, Barry N Malzberg, Andrew J Offutt and Roger Zelazny. (Died 2005.)
Born September 3, 1959 — Merritt Butrick. He played Kirk’s son, David, in The Wrath of Khan and again in The Search for Spock. Note the very young death. He died of AIDS. Well, he died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Did 1989.)
Born September 3, 1969 — John Picacio, 50. Illustrator who in 2005 won both the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the Chesley Award for Best Paperback Cover for James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. He won the Hugo for Best Artist in 2012.
Born September 3, 1971 — D. Harlan Wilson, 48. Author of Modern Masters of Science Fiction: J.G. Ballard, Cultographies: They Live (a study of John Carpenter) and Technologized Desire: Selfhood & the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction. No, I’ve no idea what the last book is about.
Born September 3, 1974 — Clare Kramer, 45. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god from a hell dimension that was the main antagonist of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s been a lot of horror films including The Skulls III, The Gravedancers, The Thirst, Road to Hell, Road to Hell, Big Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween.
Plus this “Happy Book Birthday” – Congratulations to Ellen
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Brewster Rockit treats us to more “famous parting words from defeated aliens.” Ook ook!
Half Full delivers sff’s answer to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
(12) MOONWALKING. It isn’t easy anywhere to get local
government to fix the streets,
Indian actor Poornachandra Mysore joined artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy to document the conditions of the roads in Bengaluru, India. In a creative way and wearing a spacesuit, the man decided to walk on these crater-like potholes as if he was walking on the moon.
Black Mountain is a crime-horror hybrid that takes the most entertaining elements of both genres and mixes them into something new that pushes the boundaries of contemporary crime fiction. From horror Barron grabs the fear of death, the tensions of knowing there is a killer out there and on the hunt, the gore of mutilated bodies and serrated knives digging into soft flesh. From crime he pulls mobsters, the existence of secrets that, if revealed, would lead to many murders. He also works with a level of violence that is rarely found in crime novels from big publishers.
With those elements on the table, Barron uses his elegant prose as glue. There is brutish behavior, but the words describing it are beautiful, mercilessly obliterating the imagined line between genre and literary fiction on almost every page…
In news to file under “What could possibly go wrong,” two U.S. deterrence experts have penned an article suggesting that it might be time to hand control of the launch button for America’s nuclear weapons over to artificial intelligence. You know, that thing which can mistake a 3D-printed turtle for a rifle!
In an article titled “America Needs a ‘Dead Hand,’” Dr. Adam Lowther and Curtis McGiffin suggest that “an automated strategic response system based on artificial intelligence” may be called for due to the speed with which a nuclear attack could be leveled against the United States. Specifically, they are worried about two weapons — hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles — which reduce response times to mere minutes from when an attack is launched until it strikes.
They acknowledge that such a suggestion is likely to “generate comparisons to Dr. Strangelove’s doomsday machine, War Games’ War Operation Plan Response, and The Terminator’s Skynet. But they also argue that “the prophetic imagery of these science fiction films is quickly becoming reality.” As a result of the compressed response time frame from modern weapons of war, the two experts think that an A.I. system “with predetermined response decisions, that detects, decides, and directs strategic forces” could be the way to go.
Wallops Island—a remote, marshy spit of land along the eastern shore of Virginia, near a famed national refuge for horses—is mostly known as a launch site for government and private rockets. But it also makes for a perfect, quiet spot to test a revolutionary weapons technology.
If a fishing vessel had steamed past the area last October, the crew might have glimpsed half a dozen or so 35-foot-long inflatable boats darting through the shallows, and thought little of it. But if crew members had looked closer, they would have seen that no one was aboard: The engine throttle levers were shifting up and down as if controlled by ghosts. The boats were using high-tech gear to sense their surroundings, communicate with one another, and automatically position themselves so, in theory, .50-caliber machine guns that can be strapped to their bows could fire a steady stream of bullets to protect troops landing on a beach.
Something odd was bubbling beneath the surface of northwest Montana’s Flathead Lake this summer. It wasn’t lake monsters, but submarines. The subs’ pilots were there to help cash-strapped researchers explore the depths of Flathead Lake for free.
It can be hard for research divers to see what’s at the bottom of deep bodies of water like Flathead Lake without special equipment and experience. So, having a couple of submarines around this summer was helpful to the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Research Station.
…Riders met British Columbia resident Hank Pronk, who was standing on his two-man submarine bobbing on the lake’s crystal-clear surface.
A useful hobby
Pronk and his fellow enthusiasts build their subs mostly by hand. Pronk’s sub, named the Nekton Gamma, is smaller than a compact car; climbing in is a squeeze.
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have been turning to a new app to communicate – one that does not use the internet and is therefore harder for the Chinese authorities to trace.
Bridgefy is based on Bluetooth and allows protesters to communicate with each other without internet connection.
Downloads are up almost 4,000% in the past two months, according to measurement firm Apptopia.
Texts, email and messaging app WeChat are all monitored by the Chinese state.
Bridgefy uses a mesh network, which links together users’ devices allowing people to chat with others even if they are in a different part of the city, by hopping on other users’ phones until the message reaches the intended person.
The range from phone to phone is within 100m (330ft).
The app was designed by a start-up based in San Francisco and has previously been used in places where wi-fi or traditional networks struggle to work, such as large music or sporting events.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rich Lynch, Martin
Morse Wooster, Robert T. Garcia, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
(Spelling of name may not be correct – it was not shown on screen.) The Hank Reinhardt Georgia Fandom Award is presented for outstanding contributions to the genre by a Georgia writer, artist, or fan.
THE JULIE AWARD
In 1998, Dragon Con established the Julie Award presented annually in tribute to the legendary Julie Schwartz. The Julie Award is bestowed for universal achievement spanning multiple genres, selected each year by our esteemed panel of industry professionals.
Thanks to Red Panda Fraction and Ray Radlein for livetweeting the
…What has changed in the last few months? As far as I know, nothing. The award given not even in her own name, but in the name of her pseudonym, celebrates work of imaginative fiction exploring the territory she made her own over her twenty-years long writing career. She explored it more deeply, searchingly, critically and imaginatively than anyone before her had ever come close to doing, and her work remains startlingly fresh, moving, and thoughtful. We owe it to her to celebrate her heritage, not to obliterate it. Her death, as that of her husband, was a tragedy, but not by any reasonable standard an erasure of her life or her literary heritage.
Here is the acceptance speech by Travis Corcoran for 2019 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Causes of Separation. (Corcoran could not attend the Dublin Worldcon but wrote this acceptance speech to be read there at the ceremony.)
…Chapman’s essay and Pournelle’s and Conquest’s laws are three observations of a single underlying phenomena: the collectivists always worm their way in and take over. We know THAT this happens, but WHY does it happen? How can we model it and understand it?
China’s Chang’e-4 lunar rover has discovered an unusually colored, ‘gel-like’ substance during its exploration activities on the far side of the moon.
The mission’s rover, Yutu-2, stumbled on that surprise during lunar day 8. The discovery prompted scientists on the mission to postpone other driving plans for the rover, and instead focus its instruments on trying to figure out what the strange material is.
…So far, mission scientists haven’t offered any indication as to the nature of the colored substance and have said only that it is “gel-like” and has an “unusual color.” One possible explanation, outside researchers suggested, is that the substance is melt glass created from meteorites striking the surface of the moon.
A few years ago I reviewed Iraq + 100, a project which invited its contributors to write stories set 100 years in Iraq’s future. It was conceived as an imaginative springboard for Iraqi writers to potentially launch themselves beyond the enduring trauma of waves of invasion and devastation — but because science fiction stories set in the future are always in some way about our present, the collection became a multi-voiced testament to the fact that you can’t project a future without first reckoning with the past.
Comma Press has followed that collection up with Palestine + 100, an anthology edited by Basma Ghalayini in which twelve Palestinian authors write stories set 100 years after the Nakba — Arabic for “catastrophe” — during which, as Ghalayini writes in her moving, thoughtful introduction, “Israel declared itself a new-born state on the rubble of Palestinian lives.” Thus where Iraq + 100 looked towards the year 2103, the stories in Palestine + 100 look towards 2048, and the bulk of the work isn’t about extrapolating a future so much as recognizing, fighting, and establishing narratives about the past. The choice of subtitle — “stories from a century after the Nakba” — exemplifies this, drawing attention to the fact that for Palestinians (and many Israelis), May 15, 1948 is not a date to celebrate, but to grieve.
In Palestine + 100, memory and imagination are contested territories. Samir El-Youssef’s “The Association,” translated by Raph Cormack, kicks off with the murder of a historian; the narrator observes that “Since the 2028 Agreement, the people of the country — all the different sects and religions, Muslim, Christian and Jewish — had decided that forgetting was the best way to live in peace.” In Saleem Haddad’s “Song of the Birds,” a young girl lives in a beautiful simulation haunted by the vicious, broken reality it obscures. In Ahmed Masoud’s “Application 39,” two young men imagine a Palestinian bid for the Olympics as a joke — and find themselves in the tormented midst of trying to make that a reality, with all the consequences it entails. In Tasnim Abutabikh’s “Vengeance” the plot is evenly divided between one man’s elaborate pursuit of revenge against a neighbor he thinks has wronged him — and that neighbor’s heartbroken revelation that the man had the past all wrong. In almost all these stories there is a doubled, troubled vision, that never resolves so much as it fractures further.
OBIT. Melisa Michaels (1946-2019) died
August 30 of complications amid efforts to treat her lung cancer. (Condolences
to filer Xtifr, her nephew.)
was known for her series about Skyrider, a woman space combat pilot. She also
wrote urban fantasies including “Sister to the Rain” and “Cold Iron.” Her novel Skirmish was nominated for
a Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1986. SFWA presented her with a Service Award in
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 31, 1914 — Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Died 1984)
Born August 31, 1933 — Robert Adams. He’s best remembered for the Horseclans series which became his overall best-known works though he wrote other works. While he never completed the series, he wrote 18 novels in the Horseclans series before his death. (Died 1990.)
Born August 31, 1949 — Richard Gere, 70. Lancelot in First Knight starring Sean Connery as King Arthur. And was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honours!
Born August 31, 1958 — Julie Brown, 61. Starred with Geena Davis in the cult SF comedy, Earth Girls Are Easy. She’s actually been in genre films such as The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Bloody Birthday (a slasher film), Timebomb and Wakko’s Wish. She’s had one-offs in TV’s Quantum Leap and The Addams Family. She’s voiced a lot of animated characters included a memorable run doing the ever so sexy Minerva Mink on The Animaniacs. She reprised that role on Pinky and The Brain under the odd character name of Danette Spoonabello Minerva Mink.
Born August 31, 1969 — Jonathan LaPaglia, 50. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favourite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in a really bad film called Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history.
Born August 31, 1971 — Chris Tucker, 48. The way over the top Ruby Rhod in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, a film I really, really like. His only other genre credit is as a MC in the Hall in The Meteor Man.
Born August 31, 1982 — G. Willow Wilson, 37. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the Hugo Award winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite the read. The only thing I’ve by her that I’ve not quite liked is her World Fantasy Award winning Alif the Unseen novel. I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story but will soon.
Born August 31, 1992 — Holly Earl, 27. She’s been in a number of British genre shows such as playing Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Agnes in Humans, and yes, Doctor Who in the “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, an Eleventh Doctor story in she was Lily Arwell.
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro lives up to its name with this idea about collaborative effort.
(8) ONE TO BEAM UP. Camestros Felapton’s incredible “tweetfilk”
of Star Trek and Bowie, featuring science officer Ziggy!! Thread starts here.
Critics are raving for Warner Bros. latest comic book installment.
Todd Phillip’s “Joker” opened Saturday at the Venice Film Festival to effervescent reviews, with many critics highlighting an Oscar-worthy appearance from star Joaquin Phoenix. Variety‘s own Owen Gleiberman praised Phoenix’s performance, emphasizing his physical acting and emotional control:
“He appears to have lost weight for the role, so that his ribs and shoulder blades protrude, and the leanness burns his face down to its expressive essence: black eyebrows, sallow cheeks sunk in gloom, a mouth so rubbery it seems to be snarking at the very notion of expression, all set off by a greasy mop of hair,” he wrote. “Phoenix is playing a geek with an unhinged mind, yet he’s so controlled that he’s mesmerizing. He stays true to the desperate logic of Arthur’s unhappiness.”
Timothy Koeth’s office is crammed with radioactive relics – old watches with glowing radium dials, pieces of melted glass from beneath the test of the world’s first nuclear weapon.
But there is one artifact that stands apart from the rest: a dense, charcoal-black cube, two-inches on a side. The cube is made of pure uranium metal. It was forged more than 70 years ago by the Nazis, and it tells the little-known story of Germany’s nuclear efforts during World War II.
“From a historical perspective this cube weighs a lot more than five pounds,” Koeth, a physicist at the University of Maryland, says as he holds it in his hand.
…At the time of Hitler’s rise, Germany was actually at the cutting edge of nuclear technology. “Nuclear fission was discovered in Berlin in late 1938,” says Alex Wellerstein is a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. “They were the first team of people who figured out how to split the atom, and figured out that when you split the atom, a lot of energy was going to be released.”
That basic idea of splitting atoms to release energy is what’s at the heart of all of today’s nuclear power plants and all the world’s nuclear weapons.
But back during World War II, it was all theoretical. To find out how it could work, the Germans devised strange looking experiment. Scientists strung together 664 cubes of uranium with aircraft cables and suspended them. The result looked “kind of like a very strange modernist chandelier of cubes,” Wellerstein says.
The chandelier was dipped into a cylindrical tank of heavy water, which contains special isotopes of hydrogen that make it more conducive to nuclear reactions.
The setup was known as the B-VIII reactor. The Germans were experimenting with it inside a cave in the southern town of Haigerloch. They were still trying to get it to work when the allied invasion began. As Allied forces approached, the German scientists disassembled the reactor and buried the cubes in a field.
The first wave of Allied troops to arrive included a task force known as Alsos, which was seeking to seize as much of the Nazi program as they could.
The Nazi scientists quickly disclosed the location of the buried cubes to the Allies, Wellerstein says. The Alsos team boxed up the cubes, to send them back to America, but what happened after that is not entirely clear.
There’s an astonishing outpouring of new information linking genes and health, thanks to the efforts of humble Englishmen and women such as Chritopeher Fletcher. The 70-year-old man recently drove 90 miles from his home in Nottingham to a radiology clinic outside the city of Manchester.
He is one of half a million Brits who have donated time, blood and access to their medical records to a remarkable resource called UK Biobank. The biobank, in turn, has become a resource for more than a thousand scientists around the world who are interested in delving into the link between genes, behaviors and health.
Popularity of the resource is snowballing. Just this week, a major study using the data explored the genetics of same-sex sexual behavior. And as researchers discover the biobank’s value, there’s a strong incentive to add to the database to make it even richer.
…What makes UK Biobank valuable is not only the half-million volunteers, whose health will be followed for decades, but also its community-spirited scientific strategy. Chief scientist Dr. Cathie Sudlow says the organizers, in a break from their usual ways, aren’t out to answer their own scientific questions, but to serve their colleagues.
“I’ll freely admit that when I first started out in the biobank I couldn’t really believe that we were all going to work really hard to make data available for other people,” she says. “And that is because I came from this traditional, kind of slightly paranoid, somewhat territorial, academic background.”
The scramble for research funds creates competitive incentives in much of academic science today. This biobank is different.
Best Science Fiction Novel:A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad Torgersen is a plausible winner. If it does then we can assume other works in the Brad Puppies list got lots of votes. I think Tiamat’s Wrath is a likely winner given the popularity of The Expanse TV series and the Dragon Con audience. However, Becky Chambers has a wide and devoted set of fans and I wouldn’t be astonished if Record of a Spaceborn Few won. If any of the others won, that would be interesting but I don’t know what it would mean.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin
Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
(1) FAREWELL. Martin Hoare’s funeral was
held today. Pete Young shared a photo of the casket (posted here with permission.)
Yes, it was used for Martin. He was inside, then Martin + Tardis were cremated. I could not get any closer but I believe the Tardis was painted on it; I think it was Hazel Langford who told me it was Martin’s girlfriend’s idea. Needless to say the coffin was bigger on the inside…
(2) SURVIVABILITY OF SHORT SFF. Neil Clarke speaks again
about the problems with the current economic model of short fiction in the sff
field. Thread starts here.
…I hadn’t realised how apparently old-school I was until I discovered that one panel at WorldCon was entitled Continuing Relevance of older SF, which questioned whether 20th-century writing was still relevant in the 21st (answer: yes). Among the writers it listed as older and of a past era were Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood – yikes, really?
The discussion was lively and intense and intelligent – and this was the real joy, for me, of this entire colossal event, alongside the surprising (and vast) range of the hundreds upon hundreds of sessions over five days.
My assumptions were immediately and happily demolished. I’d looked forward to learning about some new writers and had thought there might also be some intriguing overlap with technology. But the science element was just as high-profile as the fiction….
Mike and Carol Rensick are at a loss for words about how successful this GoFundMe campaign has become. (Which says a lot, since as a storyteller Mike is well known for his words.) They cannot thank everyone enough–there are not the words to say how much all of you have changed a very bad year for the better.
Many people have asked them why, with so many weeks in ICU and bills much surpassing any modest number, we had only set the fundraiser goal to $15;000. But in Mike’s mind, $100 is a lot to ask for, let alone $15,000. He had not realised how beloved in the field he is, and how much we all love the opportunity to “pay it back” for all he has given to the science fiction and fantasy community.
Mike is composing and thank you message as we speak–once he can pick up his jaw up from the ground and find the words–but in the meantime we have been encouraged to increase the GoFundMe goal, and so we have! We have doubled the number to $30,000.
(6) LIBRARIES AND
DIGITAL BOOKS. Tom
Mercer, Senior Vice President of cloudLibrary, has written an email about the
many changes impacting libraries and their ability to offer high-quality
digital lending services to library users. He discusses why these shifts are
happening, how libraries can respond, and what bibliotheca is doing to support
libraries — “bibliotheca
leadership responds to publisher model changes”.
…Now, fast-forward to the digital library lending market today, where we’re seeing a shift from several of the major publishing companies. Blackstone Audio is embargoing audiobook titles for 90 days, Hachette has changed from perpetual access to two-year expirations (also implemented by Penguin Random House last October), and Macmillan will limit the quantity of frontlist titles effective November 1. It’s unlikely that all of these publishers would be changing their terms without external pressures. So, where is the pressure coming from? ?There is evidence to suggest that in recent years, authors and agents have come to feel that the library market is eroding their revenue. I think it’s telling that Macmillan CEO John Sargent addressed his letter about the library model change to “Macmillan Authors, Macmillan Illustrators and Agents.”
This begs the next question: if authors and agents are voicing concerns about library lending, where are they getting their data from? I doubt it’s publishers, since a report on library lending is not part of an author’s royalty statement. There is only one company that has access to readers’ digital retail purchases as well as users’ digital library borrowing habits, and that is Amazon.
In 2009, Amazon created a publishing division, Amazon Publishing, which doesn’t sell any of its eBooks or audiobooks to libraries. They have teams of people talking with authors and agents trying to secure rights and make them as exclusive as possible to the Amazon ecosystem. It’s highly probable that they use the data provided by library users to argue that library lending is undercutting retail sales. This is a major concern that we need to understand and to face together as an industry.
…Captain America reflects on the symbolism of his costume in a newly published essay by Mark Waid, which was changed from an earlier version in which he called his country “deeply flawed.”Marvel Entertainment
The page, written by Mark Waid and drawn by John Cassady, is narrated by Captain America. In earlier versions of the page that comic-book retailers received in July, the star-spangled hero opened with: “I’m asked how it is possible to love a country that’s deeply flawed. It’s hard sometimes. The system isn’t just. We’ve treated some of our own abominably.”
He went on to say that fixing America’s system is “hard and bloody work” but that it could be done when enough people take to the streets, call for revolution and say, “Injustice will not stand.”
Captain America concludes: “That’s what you can love about America.”
The version that arrived in stores and online, however, has new text, also written by Waid, in which Captain America ruminates on his own image, not the United States: “Captain America isn’t a man. It’s an idea. It’s a commitment to fight every day for justice, for acceptance and equality, for the rights of everyone in this nation.” The hero says that those qualities — “not hatred, not bigotry, not exclusion” — are the values of true patriotism.
Marvel and Waid declined to say why the page was changed. But in an email message, Waid expressed frustration at how his original text was being presented. “I’m disappointed that the cherry-picked quotes circulated by the media severely mischaracterize what was actually written,” he wrote. While the essay was critical, he added, “As written, Cap is supportive of America as a whole.”
(8) A WORD FROM OUR WILDLIFE. The Red Panda Fraction asks
that I remind everyone there is only a little more than 24 hours remaining to
vote in the Dragon
Awards. Request a ballot at the link.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 29, 1854 — Joseph Jacobs. Australian folklorist, translator, literary critic and historian who became a notable collector and publisher of English folklore. Many of our genre writers have use of his material. “Jack the Giant Killer” becomes Charles de Lint’s Jack Of Kinrowan series! Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon to give an example. (Lecture mode off.) Excellent books by the way. (Died 1916.)
Born August 29, 1904 — Leslyn M. Heinlein. She was born Leslyn MacDonald. She was married to Robert A. Heinlein between 1932 and 1947. Her only genre writing on ISFDB is “Rocket’s Red Glare“ which was published in The Nonfiction of Robert Heinlein: Volume I. There’s an interesting article on her and Heinlein here. (Died 1981.)
Born August 29, 1939 — Joel Schumacher, 80. Director of The Lost Boys and Flatliners, not mention Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Ok, so those might not be the highlights of his career… However his Blood Creek vampirefilm starring Michael Fassbender is said to be very good. Oh, and his The Incredible Shrinking Woman is a very funny riff the original The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Born August 29, 1942 — Dian Crayne. A member of LASFS, when she and Bruce Pelz divorced the party they threw inspired Larry Niven’s “What Can You Say about Chocolate-Covered Manhole Covers?” She published mystery novels under the name J.D. Crayne. A full rememberence post is here. (Died 2017.)
Born August 29, 1942 — Gottfried John. He’s likely best known as General Arkady Orumov on GoldenEye but I actually best remember him as Colonel Erich Weiss on the short-lived Space Rangers. He was Josef Heim in the “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” episode of the Millennium series, and played König Gustav in the German version of Rumpelstilzchen as written as collected by the Brothers Grimm. (Died 2014.)
Born August 29, 1945 — Robert Weinberg. Author, editor, publisher, and collector of science fiction. At Chicon 7, he received a Special Committee Award for his service to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. During the Seventies, he was the genius behind Pulp which featured interviews with pulp writers such as Walter B. Gibson and Frederick C. Davis. (Died 2016.)
Born August 29, 1951 — Janeen Webb, 68. Dreaming Down-Under which she co-edited with Jack Dann is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction, winner of a World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. The Silken Road to Samarkand by her isa wonderful novel that I do also wholeheartedly recommend. Death at the Blue Elephant, the first collection of her short stories, is available at iBooks and Kindle.
Born August 29, 1953 — Nancy Holder, 66. She’s an impressive four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. I’m not a horror fan so I can’t judge her horror novels for you, but I’ve read a number of her Buffyverse novels and I must say that she’s captured the feel of the series quite well. If you are to read but one, make it Halloween Rain.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Today’s pop culture figure, tomorrow’s museum exhibit — Bizarro.
…[Jeannette] Ng, who wrote the fantasy novel “Under the Pendulum Sun,” said in an interview on Wednesday that she was delighted by the decision. “It’s a good move away from honoring a completely obnoxious man who kept a lot of people out of the genre, who kept a lot of people from writing, who shaped the genre to his own image.” Thanks to the change, she added, “we’re now celebrating a little more neutrally a piece of history that’s not attached to his name.”
(12) ABOUT THOSE EDITORIALS. A tweet highlights one
problematic view – the Wikipedia
article covers this one and many more.
A year after Rotten Tomatoes announced plans to boost diversity among its approved critics, the review aggregation site revealed it has added 600 new film commentators.
In an effort to increase representation and inclusion across the industry, the company also renewed $100,000 in grants for 2020 to assist critics from underrepresented groups to attend film festivals and industry events. In 2018 and 2019, Rotten Tomatoes has helped over 160 journalists attend film festivals by donating grant money to festivals like Toronto, Sundance and SXSW.
Last August, Rotten Tomatoes refurbished its criteria to look at an individual’s qualifications, rather than just their employer when it comes to verifying critics. The initiative also expanded its pool to newer media platforms like digital videos or podcasts. Of the new critics added this year, 55% are women, 60% are freelancers and 10% publish reviews on more modern platforms like YouTube.
Engineers attached a helicopter to the Mars 2020 rover ahead of its launch next summer. And if it flies successfully, it’ll be the first aircraft to fly on another planet, NASA said.
The solar-powered Mars Helicopter will be safely stowed underneath the rover until it lands at the Jezero Crater, where scientists believe water once flowed. The craft will detach from the rover and explore Mars from the air while the rover collects samples on the ground, NASA said.
If the helicopter flies, it can provide a unique vantage point for scientists to observe Mars.
If all goes well, the autonomous aircraft will snapshot aerial views of Martian cliffs, caves and craters that the land-bound rover can’t explore. And even if it doesn’t take flight, the rover can still gather important data from the surface.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “I Wrote A Song Using Only Hate Comments” on YouTube,
Madilyn Bailey provides a song where all the lyrics come from comments made by
[Thanks to Standback, John King Tarpinain, JJ, Lis Carey, James Bacon,
mlex, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, StephenfromOttawa,
Hampus Eckerman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes
to File 770 contributing editor of the day Trey.]
(1) WHITE AWARD LONGLIST. The James White Award’s 2019 longlisted stories have
been posted – titles only, not author names yet: “judging is still going on and
we want to preserve anonymity as part of the selection process.” They received
The James White Award Short Story Competition was established in 2000. It is open only to non-professional writers and offers them the opportunity to have their work published in Interzone,
(2) SF IN CHINA. Derek Künsken’s news-filled “SF in Beijing
Report” for Locus Online tells about his visit to Another Planet Science Fiction Convention this
It’s interesting to try to understand where Chinese science fiction conferences are coming from and why this one in particular is being led by a multi-media SF company. I chatted with Ji Shaoting, the CEO of FAA. She’s a former journalist at the Xinhua news Agency who later co-founded Guokr, a massive Chinese-language pop-science website with a few stories, and pop-culture blog, and a fan club called Future Affairs Administration. Her work with FAA and Guokr caught the attention of an investor who wanted to create a repository of IP that could be developed into movies, TV, games, etc., because he “believes in the imagination industry.” FAA transitioned from a fan club into a company whose business goals are publishing SF and developing new Chinese writers.
(3) GOOD NEIGHBOR POLICY. The Addams Family animated
movie comes to theaters October 11.
Get ready to snap your fingers! The first family of Halloween, the Addams Family, is back on the big screen in the first animated comedy about the kookiest family on the block. Funny, outlandish, and completely iconic, the Addams Family redefines what it means to be a good neighbor.
Entrance requirements to New Zealand (NZ) are changing on 1 October 2019. Please read these instructions carefully, even if you have travelled to NZ before.
The key change is that New Zealand is introducing a pre-travel electronic authorisation process, called an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority). This authorisation must be obtained in advance of travel, and will apply to many citizens of countries included in the Visa Waiver programme, including the United States of America, the UK and most European countries (full list here)….
There is additional information in the full post.
(5) DON’T WASTE A MOMENT. Heritage Auctions’ Intelligent
Collector interviews sff art collector Glynn Crain in “Amazing
Sci-Fi Story”. The Glynn and Suzanne Crain Science-Fiction Collection
goes under the hammer August 13-14.
If Glynn Crain has a tip, it is don’t ignore late-night phone calls. Especially if you are a collector.
Crain vividly recalls the evening several years ago that he and his wife came home from the movies. “It was about 10 o’clock and a friend of mine had left a message. ‘Hey Glynn, give me a call when you get a chance.’ I didn’t call him back until the next evening. I didn’t think there was any urgency. Well, there was urgency and when he couldn’t get ahold of me, he picked up the phone and called someone else and the painting sold instantly.”
The friend’s find was a painting by famed illustrator Stanley Meltzoff, who in the 1950s created dozens of covers for novels by science-fiction author Robert Heinlein and others. “[Meltzoff] influenced a host of illustrators that came later,” Crain says, “people like Paul Lehr, Vincent Di Fate, and on and on. He’s revered. It was a painting I would dearly love to have, a fantastic example.
“It’s in a good home now,” says Crain, 63, who knows the collector who acquired the painting. “But that was definitely the one that got away. There’s a saying: ‘You don’t regret the art you buy. You regret the art that you don’t buy.’ For some reason, you thought it was too expensive or you just couldn’t come to terms with the person who had it or the timing wasn’t right or maybe you didn’t have the money. It’s always the things you pass on that you really regret. That was something I learned quickly.”
(6) HOGGING THE LIMELIGHT. Let Alexandra Erin sing it for
And yet, “These improvements were partially offset” by a loss from the 21st Century Fox (21CF) business. And the loss at 21CF was “driven by the performance of ‘Dark Phoenix,’ for which we also recorded a film cost impairment.”
(8) NUTTALL OBIT. Early UK fan Stanley Nuttall
(1926-2019) died April 26. He was a former Chairman of the Liverpool Science
Fiction Society and the British Interplanetary Society. He was made a Knight of
St. Fantony at Cytricon III (1957). Dave Kyle quoted Nuttall quite extensively
in his Mimosa article “The
Noble and Illustrious Order of St. Fantony”.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
August 7, 1942 — Invisible Agent premiered.
August 7, 1953 — Spaceways debuted.
August 7, 2012 — The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars at Bradbury Landing.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 7, 1933 — Jerry Pournelle. Yes, I read his Byte column. And much of his Janissaries series and more than a bit of his CoDominium work as well but I’ll hold that his best work was The Mote in God’s Eye that he co-authored with Niven. The follow-up, The Gripping Hand, wasn’t nearly as good unfortunately. (Died 2017.)
Born August 7, 1936 — Richard L. Tierney, 83. A Lovecraftian scholar. Coauthored with David C. Smith, a series of Red Sonja novels which have Boris Vallejo cover art . Some of his standalone novels riff off the Cthulhu Mythos. Unless you read German, he’s not available digitally on either iBooks or Kindle.
Born August 7, 1957 — Paul Dini, 62. First, he’s largely responsible for the existence of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and yes, Duck Dodgers And Tiny Toons as well which are superb, too. He’s recently been writing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series which is quite good. He co-authored with Pat Cadigan Harley Quinn: Mad Love.
Born August 7, 1960 — David Duchovny, 59. Obviously, Fox Mulder on X-Files. Now, has he done any other genre? Well he was Dr. Ira Kane in Evolution, a comic SF film, and then there’s Denise Bryson, formerly Dennis Bryson, played by him, who’s a transgender DEA agent on the Twin Peaks series. He also voices Ethan Cole in Area 51, a first person video game shooter.
Born August 7, 1960 — Melissa Scott, 59. I think the first work I read by her was Trouble and Her Friends which holds up well even now. I’m also fond of Night Sky Mine and The Jazz. I see she has an entire series set in the Stargate Atlantis universe.
Born August 7, 1964 — A. J. Hartley, 55. His Steeplejack is not only really well-written but has an interesting conception as he tells here. Though written for the Tor Teen line, I recommend it as it’s a fun series. Well fun as dystopias go.
Born August 7, 1975 — Charlize Theron, 44. She surprised me by being in a number of genre films including 2008), Snow White and the Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter’s War (which are both quite superb), Prometheus, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Addams Family as Mortica Adams, The Devil’s Advocate, Æon Flux in Æon Flux, the narrator of Astro Boy and her first film, Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, a horror film I suspect she’d prefer everyone forget. She played Pria Lavesque on The Orville in the episode called, errr, “Pria”.
Born August 7, 1978 — Cirroc Lofton, 41. Jake Sisko on Deep Space Nine which I still consider the best Trek series to date, though Discovery is now my second favorite series. Lofton btw, like many performers on all of the series, has shown up in the fan-made video series. He’s played Jacob, no last name, on two part “Requiem” of Star Trek: Renegades. Presumably the name change was because he didn’t have permission to appear as his Trek character. And he played Sevar on Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, another such endeavor.
Born August 7, 1979 — Eric Johnson, 40. Scifi’s Flash Gordon on the series of that name that they aired from August 10, 2007 to February 8, 2008. Look, I’m used to Flash Gordon series that are nearly a century old so I had no idea no one had been done recently. Anyone see this?
So the Dragon Awards finally seem to be moving towards what they were supposed to do, namely reward broadly popular works in a variety of genres. Indies and eager self-promoters can still grab slots in the less popular down ballot categories, but except for military science fiction they no longer dominate any one category. Chris Kennedy still managed to grab a few slots for his publishing outfit, but then maybe he is one of the few who still care. Meanwhile, the 20Booksto50K/LMBPN Publishing folks are notable by their complete absence. There are a few puppy/puppy adjacent authors, but most of them have fanbases beyond the puppy bubble. And indeed, Camestros Felapton dug up Brad Torgersen’s reaction to the ballot and a list of which finalists he considers the relevant ones. It’s about the names you’d expect except for Philip Ligon, who’s notable by his absence.
The odds of finding life on the moon have suddenly rocketed skywards. But rather than elusive alien moonlings, the beings in question came from Earth and were spilled across the landscape when a spacecraft crashed into the surface.
The Israeli Beresheet probe was meant to be the first private lander to touch down on the moon. And all was going smoothly until mission controllers lost contact in April as the robotic craft made its way down. Beyond all the technology that was lost in the crash, Beresheet had an unusual cargo: a few thousand tiny tardigrades, the toughest animals on Earth.
In the summer of 2018, palaeontologists hammering away at 500-million-year-old rocks high in the Canadian Rockies turned up hundreds of specimens of an unknown but evidently hyperabundant creature. With a hand-size carapace that looks like it was sketched out in science fiction concept art,the diggers nicknamed it “the spaceship.” Now, they’ve given the creature its first scientific description and a name: Cambroraster falcatus—after the famed Millennium Falcon starship from Star Wars.
…Per CNN’s Ashley Strickland, the scientists’ research pinpoints a different explanation for S. fatalis and other giant cats’ demise, positing that factors, including climate change and an uptick in nearby human populations, precipitated the species’ eventual extinction. (The team is collaborating on a second study with experts across six institutions to further refine these causes, Chrissy Sexton notes for Earth.com.)
Smaller predators such as coyotes and grey wolves, on the other hand, weathered harsh conditions by adapting to the times. As DeSantis tells National Geographic’s John Pickrell, “When the large predators and prey go extinct, not only do [the smaller animals] shrink, but they fundamentally change their diet and start scavenging to become the opportunists we know today.”
(15) NOVEL: ENDORSEMENT. Here’s the plug on the cover of
JDA’s next book: “’Could be the most dangerous sci-fi novel of my lifetime.
Read it before it’s banned.’ – MIlo Yiannopoulos.” Jon is sure I’ll want
to pick that up the first day.
…In a study published in February, researchers examined how the stones were quarried. They suggested the Neolithic people may have constructed a platform to excavate the rocks, then used wooden levers to lower the rocks onto a wooden sledge that could then have been “hauled away with ropes.”
The largest of the stones, known as the sarsen trilithons, are over 25 feet in height and weigh over 30 tons. These were moved from a site 18 miles away.
Researchers have also previously suggested these sledges were greased to help move them along—past experiments show the most efficient way to transport them would be a greased timber slipway. However, physical evidence to back this up was lacking—the logs used for the sledges are unlikely to have been preserved.
In a study published in Antiquity, Shillito, from the U.K.’s Newcastle University, has said fat residues found on pottery near Stonehenge may help back the greased sled theory….
The yeast microbes had been asleep for more than 5,000 years, buried deep in the pores of Egyptian ceramics, by the time Seamus Blackley came along and used them to bake a loaf of bread.
An amateur Egyptologist and one of the inventors of the Xbox game console, he’s also a keen hobby baker who routinely posts pictures of his breadmaking projects on social media.
He has, he admits, made his fair share of “horrible, rock-like loaves”. But this experiment was in a different league altogether.
The first step was to extract the yeast without destroying the vessels where it was held. With the help of archaeologist Dr Serena Love, Mr Blackley gained access to the collections of Egyptian beer- and bread-making vessels held in two museums in the US city of Boston.
A giant parrot that roamed New Zealand about 19 million years ago had a height of 1m (3ft 2in) – more than half the average height of a human, a new study has found.
The remains of the parrot were found near St Bathans in New Zealand’s southern Otago region.
Given its size, the parrot is believed to have been flightless and carnivorous, unlike most birds today.
…”There are no other giant parrots in the world,” Professor Trevor Worthy, a palaeontologist at Flinders University in Australia and lead author of the study, told the BBC. “Finding one is very significant.”
Consider, for a moment, the circuitous journey of the insecticide called thiamethoxam, on its way to killing a wild wasp.
Alejandro Tena, a researcher at the Valencia Institute of Agricultural Research, in Spain, mixed the chemical into water used to irrigate clementine trees. This is a common practice among citrus farmers. As intended, the tree roots absorbed the insecticide, and it spread throughout the trees’ branches and leaves.
A mealybug landed on the clementine tree, bit through the bark, and began feeding on tree sap underneath. The bug ingested traces of the insecticide. This, in fact, is how thiamethoxam is supposed to work.
Unfortunately, though, the pesticide’s journey wasn’t over. Traces of it showed up in a sticky, sugary, substance called honeydew that the mealybugs excrete. Honeydew is an important food for other insects, such as wasps and hoverflies. In Tena’s experiments, wasps and hoverflies that fed on this contaminated honeydew died in large numbers. Wasps and hoverflies are a fruit grower’s friends, because they help to fight harmful insects.
Tena’s study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is just the latest evidence that a family of pesticides called neonicotinoids, sometimes just called “neonics,” can pose risks to the insect world that are not fully understood.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Retrobites: Hanna Barbera (1961) CBC” on YouTube is an
excerpt from a 1961 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary in which Bill
Hanna and Joe Barbera explained how an episode of “The Flintstones”
[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John
King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip
Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title
credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
The 2019 Dragon
Award Ballot came out today, and it’s interesting to see that the nominees
collectively have become more organic, even while the award instructions encourage
writers to campaign (i.e., “it is perfectly acceptable for you to encourage
your fans to vote for you.”)
One way to test “who has actually read this nominee?” is to look at the Goodreads ratings. Every category on the 2019 ballot except Best Fantasy Novel has at least one nominee with less than a hundred Goodreads ratings, however, those are generally books with release dates in June and July 2019. The five exceptions to that general rule are the nominees by Brad Torgersen, Jason Cordova, Chris Kennedy, David Mack, and David Guenther.
The Dragon Awards have 7 novel categories, with a total of 43 nominees. All three 2019 Hugo finalists published within the Dragon eligibility period (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019) are also up for a Dragon Award. And Hugo finalist Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver has, by far, the highest number of Goodreads ratings of any book up for a Dragon Award.
Here is a list the 2019 Dragon Awards nominees with their date of
publication and the number of Goodreads ratings in parentheses to the right:
Best Science Fiction Novel
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (pub. 3/19) (2,631) A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad R. Torgersen (pub 12/18) (58) Europe at Dawn by Dave Hutchinson (pub 11/18) (249) Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (pub. 7/18) (12,209) Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson (pub. 10/18) (2,019) Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey (pub. 3/19) (14,392)
Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys (pub. 7/18) (520) Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (pub 8/18) (10,237) House of Assassins by Larry Correia (pub. 2/19) (1,382) Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch (pub. 11/18) (9,805) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (pub. 7/18) (42,885) The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie (pub. 2/19) (5,433)
Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
Archenemies by Marissa Meyer (pub. 11/18) (15,480) Armageddon Girls by Aaron Michael Ritchey (pub. 6/19) (3) Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard (pub. 2/19) (4,249) Imposters by Scott Westerfeld (pub. 9/18) (4,186) Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand (pub. 10/18) (5,977) The King’s Regret by Philip Ligon (pub. 6/19) (2) The Pioneer by Bridget Tyler (pub. 3/19) (222)
Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
A Pale Dawn by Chris Kennedy, Mark Wandrey (pub. 1/19)
(153) Order of the Centurion by Jason Anspach, Nick Cole (pub. 9/8) (425) Marine by Joshua Dalzelle (pub. 12/18) (1,229) Sons of the Lion by Jason Cordova (pub. 5/19) (87) The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (pub. 3/19) (2,023) Uncompromising Honor by David Weber (pub. 10/18) (2,664)
Best Alternate History Novel
Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling (pub. 7/18) (403) Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan (pub. 4/19) (5,852) The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (pub. 7/18) (8,975) The Iron Codex by David Mack (pub. 1/19) (78) The World Asunder by Kacey Ezell (pub. 6/19) (14) Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar (pub. 10/18) (461)
Best Media Tie-In Novel
Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove, Nancy Holder (pub. 11/18)
(1,455) Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher (pub. 5/19) (459) Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray (pub. 4/19) (2,778) The Replicant War by Chris Kennedy (pub. 7/18) (37) The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack (pub. 1/19) (348) Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn (pub. 7/18) (7,962)
Best Horror Novel
Cardinal Black by Robert McCammon (pub. 4/19) (398) Little Darlings by Melanie Golding (pub. 4/19) (3,350) Riddance by Shelley Jackson (pub. 10/18) (152) We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix (pub. 11/19) (3,429) Zombie Airman by David Guenther (pub. 7/18) (40) 100 Fathoms Below by Steven L. Kent, Nicholas Kaufmann (pub. 10/18)
LEAST GOODREADS RATINGS BY CATEGORY
Best Science Fiction Novel: A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad R. Torgersen (pub 12/18) (58)
Best Fantasy Novel: Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys (pub. 7/18) (520)
Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel: Armageddon Girls by Aaron Michael Ritchey (pub. 6/19) (3); and The King’s Regret by Philip Ligon (pub. 6/19) (2)
Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel : Sons of the Lion by Jason Cordova (pub. 5/19) (87)
Best Alternate History Novel: The World Asunder by Kacey Ezell (pub. 6/19) (14)
Best Media Tie-In Novel: The Replicant War by Chris Kennedy (pub. 7/18) (37)
Best Horror Novel: Zombie Airman by David Guenther (pub. 7/18) (40)
ENDNOTE. Publication date of 2019 Hugo nominees for Best Novel:
The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder
& Stoughton / Harper Voyager) (7/18)
Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente
Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey /
Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)