(1) NEW BEOWULF. Maria Dahvana Headley’s “new, feminist translation of Beowulf“ was released today by Macmillan.
Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf—and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world—there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us.
Read Headley’s Introduction here.
…And so, I offer to the banquet table this translation, done by an American woman born in the year 1977, a person who grew up surrounded by sled dogs, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and bubbling natural hot springs nestled in the wild high desert of Idaho, a person who, if we were looking at the poem’s categories, would fall much closer in original habitat to Grendel and his mother than to Beowulf or even the lesser denizens of Hrothgar’s court.
I came to this project as a novelist, interested specifically in rendering the story continuously and clearly, while also creating a text that feels as bloody and juicy as I think it ought to feel. Despite its reputation to generations of unwilling students, forced as freshmen into arduous translations, Beowulf is a living text in a dead language, the kind of thing meant to be shouted over a crowd of drunk celebrants. Even though it was probably written down in the quiet confines of a scriptorium, Beowulf is not a quiet poem. It’s a dazzling, furious, funny, vicious, desperate, hungry, beautiful, mutinous, maudlin, supernatural, rapturous shout.
In contrast to the methods of some previous translators, I let the poem’s story lead me to its style. The lines in this translation were structured for speaking, and for speaking in contemporary rhythms. The poets I’m most interested in are those who use language as instrument, inventing words and creating forms as necessary, in the service of voice. I come from the land of cowboy poets, and while theirs is not the style I used for this translation, I did spend a lot of time imagining the narrator as an old-timer at the end of the bar, periodically pounding his glass and demanding another. I saw it with my own eyes.
(2) RAISEDWULF. “Raised By Wolves continues to look wild as hell in new trailer for Ridley Scott’s HBO Max series” says A.V.Club.
Members of the very small but very vocal group of Alien: Covenant supporters (and its smaller Prometheus chapter) are probably a little extra excited for Raised By Wolves. HBO Max’s new sci-fi series is executive produced by Ridley Scott, who also directed the first two episodes of a story that definitely looks like it’s treading thematic territory similar to Covenant—or what might’ve come after Covenant if Scott had been allowed to complete his trilogy. Scripted and created by Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), Raised By Wolves follows a pair of androids (including one played by Amanda Collin, serving serious Michael Fassbender android vibes) raising human children on a distant planet, where they’re teaching the little kiddos to be atheists. Everything is just fine until some other humans show up with their strong religious views and hatred of robots:
(3) ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN AT BAKER STREET. Netflix dropped a trailer for Enola Holmes, based on the novels by Nancy Springer about Sherlock Holmes’s little sister.
When Enola Holmes—Sherlock’s teen sister—discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord. Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, with Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham-Carter.
(4) FOCUS ON FEAR. S.M. Carrière lets everyone know “Fans Can Be Scary” at Black Gate.
…However, there is absolutely no way that fans should get to dictate the way a story unravels. They do not get to demand of an author to end the series in the way that is not what the writer envisioned, or what the story demanded of them. Fans have no right to force the inclusion of events that do not ring true for that author or the story they’re trying to tell.
Yet, large clusters of fans believe that it is, in fact their right. Those folks, it seems, are not above threatening to end the careers of the author(s) that displeased them, some even going so far as to send death threats. No example of this sticks in my mind than the threats sent to author Veronica Roth, who displeased fans by killing off her protagonist (bold move. I can respect that), leaving the love interest to deal with that trauma.
…What scares me even more, however, is the idea that someone with too much time and a deeply entrenched sense of entitlement might show up at my door one day. I’ve heard first hand accounts of this happening to YouTubers and other celebrities, and the idea alone is enough to make me hyperventilate. Perhaps my home in the country will be an underground bunker…
This fear is, of course, compounded by gender. I’ve worked my fair share of gigs in retail with overly amorous clientele. I’ve been stalked by blokes who thought that a friendly sales person was actually a flirt. I’ve been hounded by men insistent that I am their future wife and they would treat me so well, if only I could be made to see it. I’ve had some of those men turn aggressive and threatening when I state in no uncertain terms that I am not interested. I’ve lost sleep and had panic attacks (and before anyone decides to explain to me that it’s not that bad, I highly recommend a little site called When Women Refuse).
Fans showing up at my door, even if just for a chat or an autograph, would absolutely trigger all of this nonsense. They would be a thoroughly unwelcome presence in my space. The utter lack of concern they show for a person’s need for privacy and even their mental well-being is frightening. Just thinking about it is making me get clammy.
(5) NASA. A Dublin 2019 Worldcon Special Guest is in the news.
(6) GET UP TO SPEED. Nisi Shawl’s “A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction” is an annotated list of 40 black science fiction works that are important to an understanding of the history of Black Science Fiction. Shawl comments in the introduction —
…Just one caveat before you start ordering and downloading and diving into things: some of these works could be construed as fantasy rather than science fiction. The distinction between these two imaginative genres is often blurred, and it’s especially hard to make out their boundaries when exploring the writing of African-descended authors. Why? Because access to the scientific knowledge from which SF often derives has been denied to people of the African diaspora for much of history. And the classification of what is and is not scientific knowledge hasn’t been under our control–it’s frequently a matter of dispute. Also, it’s sometimes difficult to understand the history of black science fiction without reference to the history of black fantasy.
Keeping in mind how inextricably the two genres are interwoven, I include works of fantasy in this history of black science fiction crash course reading list, though I’m careful to note their presence with a parenthetical F at the end of each entry, thusly: (F).
(7) STAY THE COURSE. And Worlds Without End has created a “A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction Reading List” to help readers track their progress, plus a “Roll-Your-Own Reading Challenge” on reading “Speculative Fiction by Authors of Colour”. (Note: You must be a logged in member of WWEnd to join this challenge. Join WWEnd).
(8) ESSENCE OF WONDER. This week’s Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron features “Nisi Shawl on Music, Spirituality, and the Creative Process”.
Nisi Shawl will join Gadi to co-host a show on music and spirituality in the creative process. Nisi will be joined by Iya Oshunmiwa for a discussion of West African religious traditions and how Nisi’s work relates to those traditions. Oshun Miwa is a Priest of Oshun and professional storyteller?. Nisi and Gadi will explore the role of music in Nisi’s life and work, and we’ll also have a reading from Nisi’s work.
(9) CLASHING THE SYMBOLS. Ros Anderson holds forth “On the Difficulty of Finding a Distinct Human Voice for an AI heroine”, and finds help in a thousand-year-old book.
…I stopped reading the AI books once I hit the first unfathomable equation. Instead, I found myself carrying The Pillow Book around with me, as if it were a balm that I wanted always to have on hand. In Japan, The Pillow Book is a set school text. It has been hailed as one of the earliest works of literature by a woman. But I believe that what has truly given it longevity—across a whole millennium—is Sei’s own distinctive, seductive voice.
Her writing feels like a witty and perceptive friend, cutting in her opinions, but never too serious. Some have even called Shonagon—mistakenly—shallow. The Pillow Book has been described as a 1,000-year-old proto-blog. It has some of that same immediacy and intimacy. That sense of fun.
When I went to my friends’ café each morning to write my own book, The Pillow Book would be tucked in my bag. Something of its timeless narrator slipped a circuit and made it into my writing too. Sylv.ie’s voice began to emerge: a mix of politeness, restraint and disarming honesty. Naïve and rather snobbish, but with a clear, outsider’s eye.
(10) FANFUND AUCTION AT COLUMBUS VIRTUAL NASFIC. [Item by Michael J. Lowrey.] The Fanfund Auction at the Columbus in 2020 Virtual NASFIC has closed, with total sales of US$549.01. Items sold ranged from chapbooks, to naming rights in a new shared universe. to a knitted lace shawl, to private cocktail classes, to a crocheted Irish steampunk textile postcard.
Even though it was a NASFIC, participants included (at a minimum) fen from Germany, Ireland, Poland, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.
(11) DE-BOOK ‘EM, DANNO. Smithsonian Magazine has “The Inside Story Of The $8 Million Heist From The Carnegie Library”.
…There are two types of people who frequent special collections that are open to the public: scholars who want to study something in particular, and others who just want to see something interesting. Both groups are often drawn to incunables. Books printed at the dawn of European movable type, between 1450 and 1500, incunables are old, rare and historically important. In short, an incunable is so valued and usually such a prominent holding that any thief who wanted to avoid detection would not steal one. The Oliver Room thief stole ten.
Visitors and researchers alike love old maps, and few are more impressive than those in Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, commonly known as the Blaeu Atlas. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s version, printed in 1644, originally comprised three volumes containing 276 hand-colored lithographs that mapped the known world in the age of European exploration. All 276 maps were missing….
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- August 25, 1951, Space Patrol’s “A Big Wheel Named Ferris” first aired. The series was created by Mike Moser who was the series writer along with Norman Jolley. The principal cast was Ed Kemmer, Lyn Osborn, Ken Mayer, Virginia Hewitt, Nina Bara and Bela Kovacs. Although aimed at children, it had a sizeable adult following for its fifteen-minute and half-hour versions. Books, comic books and a radio series were soon to be added. Even toys would be offered to the viewers. You can watch this episode here.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born August 25, 1909 — Michael Rennie. Definitely best-remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on The Lost World as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time Tunnel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1971.) (CE)
- Born August 25, 1913 – Walt Kelly. Having acknowledged Herriman’s Krazy Kat as immortal and unique, what does that leave for Kelly’s Pogo? There is something sublime about the Kat; but Pogo is superb. If the Kat is brandy, say Delamain, Pogo may be bourbon, say Willett. Here is a sample. Here is another. Judith Merril put Pogo in No. 6 of her Year’s Best SF. Fantagraphics is up to vol. 6 of a complete run. (Died 1973) [JH]
- Born August 25, 1930 — Sir Sean Connery, 90. Best film? From Russia with Love. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want go for silly. Worst film? Zardoz. These are my choices and yours no doubt will be different. (CE)
- Born August 25, 1947 – Michael Kaluta, 73. Fifty covers, two hundred fifty interiors. Interviewed in Realms of Fantasy. Artbooks The Studio (with Jones, Windsor-Smith, Wrightson), The MK Collection, MK Series 2, Dream Makers (with Grant, Heller, Moore, Vess, Wrightson), Echoes, Wings of Twilight, MK Sketchbook vols. 1-4. Comics, music albums, role-playing games, collectible cards; airplane-nose art and flight-unit patches. Here is the Baycon ’87 Program Book. Here is Davy. Here is Vector 276. Here is Deep Signal. Shazam Award. Inkpot. Chesley for Artistic Achievement. Spectrum Grand Master. [JH]
- Born August 25, 1955 — Simon R. Green, 65. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written save his NYT best-selling Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. (Shudder! I did see it.) Favorite series? The Nightside, Hawk & Fisher and Secret History are my all-time favorite ones with Drinking Midnight Wine the novel I’ve re-read the most. His only active series now is the Ishmael Jones fantasy mystery and it’s quite excellent. (CE)
- Born August 25, 1956 – Chris Barkley, 64. Con-goer; several hundred including some three dozen Worldcons when I last tried to count; I often find him doing Press Relations. Campaigned for a Young Adult award; we now have the Lodestar. Accessibility and diversity, too, get his labors. Vigorous contributor to File 770. Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon 2019. “You have to walk a fine line between your utter conviction that you are right AND feeling flexible enough in your beliefs that you can admit you are wrong or can compromise.” [JH]
- Born August 25, 1958 — Tim Burton, 61. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman is interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was, and Sleepy Hollow is just damn weird. (CE)
- Born August 25, 1959 – Georges T. Dodds, Ph.D., 61. Essays, reviews, in Argentus, SF Site, WARP. Edited The Missing Link and Other Tales of Ape-Men. Did an adaptation of Lemina’s To-Ho and the Gold Destroyers. Note that his reviews include The Ghost Book of Charles Lindley, Viscount Halifax; Mary Shelley’s Last Man; and Brooks’ Freddy the Detective. [JH]
- Born August 25, 1967 – Laura Anne Gilman, 53. Thirty novels, six dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors, some under other names; more outside our field. Managed a wine-tasting room awhile. Interviewed in After Hours, Apex, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Strange Horizons. “Writer, editor, tired person”. Amen. [JH]
- Born August 25, 1970 — Chris Roberson, 50. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading. He’s also written two Warhammer novels, Dawn of War and Sons of Dorn, and Is publisher with his wife Allison Baker of Monkey Brain Books. He won a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History for his O One novella which I’ve not read. (CE)
- Born August 25, 1971 – Lisa Papademetriou, 49. A dozen novels, some under another name; more outside our field; many for young adults, but your mileage may vary. Ranks The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy about the same as The Wave in the Mind. [JH]
- Born August 25, 1987 — Blake Lively, 33. She was Adaline Bowman in The Age of Adaline, a neat meditation upon life and death. She also played Carol Ferris in that Green Lantern film but the less said about it the better. Her very first role was as Trixie / Tooth Fairy in The Sandman at age eleven. (CE)
(14) COMICS SECTION.
(15) THEME PARK ON THE ROCKS. “Evermore faces financial ruin after failing to pay contractors” — Utah Business has the story.
“My wife [Patrice] and I have cried many nights over this project,” says Ken Bretschneider, founder and CEO at Evermore Park. “This is not a position we wanted or should have gotten into.”
Only eight years ago, Bretschneider invested more than $37 million (and counting) of his own fortune largely from the sale of his previous startup DigiCert in 2012 to build a sort of live-action theme park in Pleasant Grove, Utah. He hired dozens of contracted construction workers to bring his medieval vision to life, but as plans became more and more grandiose, Bretschneider found himself strapped for cash and unable to make payments to the teams building the park.
Bretschneider claims he’s been fighting for additional funding something he says has been hard to procure for a unique project such as this but until he does, he owes millions of dollars in construction, mechanic, and landscaping fees to workers across the valley who have yet to be paid, sparking a number of controversies across the state….
(16) DREAM FOUNDRY WRITING CONTEST. The Dream Foundry Writing Contest is taking submissions through October 11, 2020. The contest will be judged by Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld Magazine. Full guidelines here.
We’re looking for complete and finalized stories of speculative fiction of up to 10,000 words. This year, we’re proud to announce monetary prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places.
1st: $1000; 2nd: $500; 3rd: $200
There is no submission fee. All rights remain with the creators.
At the Dream Foundry blog there’s “An Interview with the Dream Foundry’s Writing Contest Coordinator Vajra Chandrasekera”.
Professional development spaces for emerging writers are not necessarily easily accessible to those who need it most. How do you see opportunities like the Dream Foundry’s writing contest fitting into the professional development of new and upcoming writers?
I think nine-tenths of “professional development” for a short story writer at the beginning of their career is learning how to make their own practice effective. This means figuring out what they want to write about and what they’re good at writing, and writing more stories where they do those things, ideally at the same time. Sometimes it’s just that a contest gives you a clearly defined set of constraints to work within, which can be very productive. Sometimes it’s good to hang out in a discord with a bunch of other people who are trying to solve the same problems you are—so you can commiserate and share experiences and animal pictures, if you’re into that sort of thing, and even if not, these are good spaces to eventually share knowledge about the industry, too.
(17) DREAM FOUNDRY ART CONTEST. The new Dream Foundry Art Contest coordinator is Dante Luiz, an illustrator and occasional writer from southern Brazil. He is one of the two Art Directors for Strange Horizons, and his first graphic novel was published in 2020 by comiXology Originals (CREMA, written by Johnnie Christmas).
The Dream Foundry Art Contest will run from 1 September 1 to November 1, 2020. The first place winner for the art contest will receive $1000. Guidelines are located here.
(18) LIFESAVING APP. From the creator of The Oatmeal.
When will it be available in the Google Play store?
It will be available at some point in space and time.
The app didn’t work for me! What should I do?
Try vigorously shaking your phone and rebooting your router.
If that fails, try blowing profusely into your phone’s charge port.
If that fails, accept that the universe is fundamentally against you.
Just please don’t email us about it.
Does this app work on dogs?
No. That’s why it has the word “cat” in the title.
What about tigers?
Yes, it is tiger-compatible.
(19) ANOTHER ORDINARY DAY ON THE INTERNET. Think of your experiences on Facebook. Ever wonder how you got into arguments you don’t even want to be in? Ever had to block someone? Now think of having to deal with 800 times as much of it as you do. Okay. Now you’re ready to hear Larry Correia explain “About My ‘Tone’ On Social Media” [Internet Archive] on Monster Hunter Nation.
…I had one last month, with 8,000 comments, where I ended up blocking over 100 people in 24 hours. That was nuts.
Apparently, where all these people come from, blundering into a stranger’s living room and screaming in his face is a “conversation”. And if you don’t put up with their endless abuse, you’re obviously a bad person.
Awesome. I’ll be the bad guy.
And it is bipartisan. Though I’d say 80% of the time I’m yelled at by annoying leftists, 15% it’s annoying right wingers, and 5% Too Fucking Insane To Register On Any Regular Political Scale.
That’s for controversial posts. For regular, boring, not controversial posts at all, I can count on getting lots of “helpful” suggestions. These mean well, but then never stop coming, and most of them are so awful they really make my head hurt. You’re right, sir, I should totally install more electrical outlets into my closet. Why thank you, ma’am, I should totally disregard my decade of professional experience and write my books according to your really awful suggestions.
Then there’s the people who think they are funny, who aren’t. I’ve heard the same tired jokes 10,000 times. I can’t post about the availability of a new product without Shut Up And Take My Money memes, and I can never mention food spicier than white bread without listening to dozens of people whine about how weak their bowels are…
(20) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Gizmodo warns “Trillions of Rogue Planets Could Be Careening Through Our Galaxy”. And none of them are insured.
A new estimate suggests the Milky Way contains more free-floating planets than stars. It’s a big claim, but an upcoming mission might actually prove it.
Rogue planets in our galaxy could number in the tens of billions and possibly even trillions, according to new research published in the Astronomical Journal. If confirmed, it means the Milky Way hosts more unbound, starless planets than it does stars. This estimate was developed in preparation for the Roman Galactic Exoplanet Survey (RGES), a five-year mission that’s scheduled to start in about five to six years.
(21) THE SHAPE OF THINGS THAT ARE PRESENT. “Johannes Kepler and COVID-19: 400 Years of Mathematical Modeling” on the Library of Congress Blog.
…Because viruses have such small genetic codes they have to be very efficient when it comes to building their shapes. Many, such as COVID-19, have polyhedral designs. A polyhedron is a three-dimensional shape with flat faces that are made of two-dimensional polygons. They have straight edges and sharp corners. As geometric figures, they have been studied since the time of the ancient Greeks.
In the early 17th century the astronomer Johannes Kepler, perhaps best known for his derivation of the laws of planetary motion, was fascinated by these shapes. In 1619, exactly 400 years before the outbreak of COVID-19, he produced a book called “Harmonices Mundi” (“Harmony of the Worlds”) that peered into and tried to understand these simple yet mysterious forms. The Library has copies of this work in the Rare Books and Special Collections Division.
(22) DOMESTIC FELICITY. What will SJWs think of the idea you can heat your home with cats? “Cat v panel heater: Which is better?” at New Zealand blog One Roof.
… How many cats do you need to heat an energy-efficient home?
It’s the question on everybody’s lips. Well, maybe not everyone’s lips, and it’s possible this is a niche topic, but it is relevant.
A 3kg cat has a heat output of 14.8 watts, or 129.65 kilowatt-hours – the metric commonly used by power companies to show you how much energy you’re using.
These numbers are important when it comes to the design and building of energy-efficient homes, as the heat output of random things like cats can lead to overheating.
For example, to be certified Passive House, a building must have an annual heating demand of less than 15kWh per square metre to maintain a comfortable temperature.
For a typical Kiwi house of 150sqm, the annual energy demand would be 2250kWh. The number of cats required, therefore, would be 17.35, but let’s avoid chopping cats and round up to 18 whole cats.
(23) WILL THEY MAKE YOU GLAZE OVER? Food & Wine promises “These New Dunkin’ Beers Are Made with Actual Donuts”.
At this point, an endless parade of brands is dabbling in craft beer collaborations: bands like The Flaming Lips, clothing lines like L.L. Bean, and even the mustard maker French’s. But few companies have been as aggressive in their beer collab-ing ways as Dunkin’. After some early experiments in 2017 (a pumpkin brown ale with Catawba Brewing and a coffee stout with Wormtown Brewery), the donut and coffee chain found a lasting (and larger) partner in 2018 with the Massachusetts-based Harpoon Brewing. That year, the two brands released their Dunkin’ Coffee Porter. Then, in 2019, Harpoon Dunkin Summer Coffee Pale Ale hit shelves.
Now, for the 2020 fall season, Harpoon and Dunkin’ are releasing a full lineup of four beers—including three new brews, two of which are billed as the first beers to ever be made with actual Dunkin’ donuts. And tapping into craft beer’s biggest trend, one of those is even a donut-infused hazy IPA!
Arriving this September, Harpoon and Dunkin’ are bringing back their popular Coffee Porter for the third consecutive year—and it arrives alongside a trio of new creations: Harpoon Dunkin’ Pumpkin, Harpoon Dunkin’ Boston Kreme, and Harpoon Dunkin’ Jelly Donut. The first of the three is described as a “Spiced Latte Ale” inspired by the seasonal espresso drink. The “light in color and easy-drinking” 5.2 percent ABV ale is “brewed with real pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, and a splash of coffee” to create “a perfect blend of all the autumn flavors we love, with just a touch of espresso-like roast.”…
(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Fall Guys, Ultimate Knockout” on YouTube, Fandom Games takes on a multi-player game where you “use five percent of your brain” to maneuver your character through a course “that’s somewhere between Battle Royale and a Japanese game show.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Rich Horton, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, David Doering, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]