(1) LODESTAR MEMENTO. Fran Wilde shows off her Lodestar finalist pin. The Instagram is a video of her unwrapping the box. Below is a screencap of the pin.
(2) CAN’T TELL THE DC FROM THE DOA. A.V. Club reports “DC Comics hit with huge layoffs, DC Universe streaming service could be dead”.
The WarnerMedia branch of Warner Bros. was hit with a ton of layoffs today, and things seem especially dire this evening for the Warner-owned DC Comics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a number of high-ranking people at DC are now out, including editor-in-chief Bob Harris, several senior VPs, and some editors (including executive editor Mark Doyle, who was in charge of the publisher’s edgy new Black Label graphic novels). Furthermore, THR’s sources say the layoffs have come for “roughly one third” of DC’s entire editorial staff as well as “the majority” of the people working on the DC Universe streaming service, and the DC Direct merchandise brand has been completely shut down after 22 years of selling Batman toys.
The Hollywood Reporter story adds:
…Insiders also say the majority of the staff of the streaming service DC Universe has been laid off, a move that had been widely expected as WarnerMedia shifts its focus to new streaming service HBO Max.
“DC Universe was DOA as soon as the AT&T merger happened,” said one source.
DC Universe launched in May 2018, and is home to live-action series such as Doom Patrol, Titans and Stargirl, as well as animated offerings including Young Justice and Harley Quinn. Some of those shows have now started to stream on HBO Max.
Also a victim of the layoffs: DC Direct, the company’s in-house merchandise and collectibles manufacturer….
(3) THE HORROR. Jo Furniss totes up “10 Novels Based On Folk Horror” at CrimeReads.
…I don’t want to give the impression that my American Rose is some kind of bastard love child of Kate Bush and the Blair Witch. But like other suspense writers who dip their nibs into the cursed waters of folk horror, its elements may be sprinkled into a contemporary novel to create an atmosphere of dread.
The resurgence of the genre shows that folk horror is apt for our times. Identities are fluid. No bad deed goes unpunished. The civilized world is only a heartbeat away from primal and uncanny threats.
The genre is also nostalgic for a rural England that is as far from Downtown Abbey as you can get in a four-horse carriage. This England is afeared of change. In times of crisis, we return to the old ways, which offer a reassuring connection to a simple past. But at the cost of old evils. There is a sense that all progress is a chimera, that our modern sophistication is itself a form of naivety.
(4) BLACK UTOPIA. In “Will I Live to See My Utopia?” at Uncanny Magazine, P. Djèlí Clark responds to HBO’s adaptation of Watchmen.
…Before your mind can make sense of it, words in some shade of Watchmen yellow superimpose across the screen: TULSA 1921.
Gotta admit, didn’t see that coming.
Once those two words flashed, what I was looking at resolved into focus. The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. The Tulsa Massacre. The scene set off a surge on Google as viewers searched for information on the riot—their first time learning about it. Many Black folks, though, didn’t have to go looking. We’d heard some version of this story. I couldn’t even tell you where or when it was passed on to me—one of those bits of common knowledge that travels along Black intra-community networks, written down in our Scriptures on the Sins of White Folk. The story of the all-Black and self-sustaining community that rose up in the middle of Jim Crow. That prospered, with its own businesses and professionals. Black Wall Street, they called it. Even if you didn’t know every detail—like the discrepancies about airplanes dropping dynamite on buildings, or the disputes over mass graves—you had heard something about Tulsa. It was a story of Black excellence, and Black horror. A tragic tale of a lost world like the city of Atlantis, or doomed Krypton—only snuffed out not by natural disaster or hubris, but by the reckless fires of white supremacy.
Still, the cold open of an HBO production was the last place I expected to see this. I’d gone my entire Black life and never seen a single recreation—not once. Our stories didn’t appear in mainstream productions like this. Our histories certainly weren’t centered this way within a major speculative canon. Our perspective wasn’t supposed to fit into stories of superheroes as jaded vigilantes, a physics- bending blue guy, and the greatest hoax ever played on mankind—à la interdimensional psychic squid.
But here we were. This was happening….
(5) ROBOFLOP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Robots and disability access clash; everyone loses. TechCrunch’s Haben Girma discusses “The robots occupying our sidewalks” .
The robot, shaped like a large cooler on wheels, zipped along somewhere ahead of me. My left hand clasped the smooth leather harness of my German shepherd guide dog. “Mylo, forward.” The speed of his four short legs complemented the strides of my longer two — call it the six feet fox trot. Together we glided past the competition.
My quarantine buddy stayed behind filming the race. Mylo: 1, Robot: 0.
The Mountain View City Council voted on May 5, 2020 to allow Starship Technologies’ robots on city streets. Founded in 2014, Starship operates no-contact delivery robots in several cities around the world. Customers schedule deliveries of food, groceries or other packages through the Starship app.
My amusement with the little robots shifted to curiosity. Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, many tech companies still fail to design for disability. How would the autonomous robots react to disabled pedestrians?
About 10 feet down the sidewalk, I stopped and turned around. Mylo tensed, his alarm crawling up my arm. The white visage of the robot stopped about a foot from his nose.
I hoped the robot would identify a pedestrian and roll away, but it stayed put. Mylo relaxed into a sitting position — guide dog school didn’t teach him about the robot apocalypse. I scratched his ears and he leaned into my hands. The robot was not moved.
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 11, 1955 — X Minus One’s “Almost Human” was broadcast for the first time. The screenplay was written as usual by George Lefferts off of Robert Bloch‘s story of the same name first published in Fantastic Adventures, June 1943. (Last collected in The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch, Volume 1: Final Reckonings, 1990.) Bloch’s tale has a petty criminal taking over an android for what he thinks he is suitable training and has the tables turned on him as the android is too human. The cast included Santos Ortega, Joan Allison, Jack Grimes, Guy Repp, Nat Pollen, Joseph Julian and Lin Cook. You can listen to it here. (CE)
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertx.]
- Born August 11, 1902 — Jack Binder. In Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue they published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, with the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity”. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.) (CE)
- Born August 11, 1923 – Ben P. Indick. Fanzine Ben’s Beat; letters, reviews, in Anduril, Banana Wings, The Baum Bugle, The Call of Cthulhu, Chacal, The Frozen Frog, The Metaphysical Review, Necrofile, Nyctalops, Riverside Quarterly, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine, Studies in Weird Fiction, Weird Tales. Wrote Ray Bradbury, Dramatist and George Alec Effinger; eight short stories; contributed to Hannes Bok studies and flights of angels (1968), Bok (1974). First Fandom Hall of Fame. My attempt to recruit him for APA-L produced, briefly, Chez Ondique. (Died 2009) [JH]
- Born August 11, 1928 — Alan E. Nourse. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann. His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.) (CE)
- Born August 11, 1932 — Chester Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid is available from all the usual digital suspects. (Died 1991.) (CE)
- Born August 11, 1936 – Bruce Pelz, F.N. An omnifan who did clubs, collecting, cons, costuming, fanhistory, fanzines, filking, gaming, and, as the saying goes, much much more. Co-chaired Westercon 22 and L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon (with Chuck Crayne); founded Loscon and chaired Loscon 10; Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon Two the 38th Worldcon; founded the History of Worldcons Exhibit; twice earned the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Evans-Freehafer Award; was named a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Soc.; service award); Filk Hall of Fame; invented APA-L, contributed to it, FAPA, SAPS, OMPA, The Cult, and for a while every existing apa; recognized fan and pro art with the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF); gave his collection of fanzines, almost two hundred thousand of them, to U. Cal. Riverside. He was an Eagle Scout. Here and here are appreciations by OGH. (Died 2002) [JH]
- Born August 11, 1949 – Nate Bucklin, 71. First Secretary of Minn-stf (or stef, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) and thus one of its Floundering_Fathers. Guest of Honor at Minicon 16 and 43, Windycon 32, DucKon IV. Five short stories. Fanzine, Stopthink; editor awhile of Rune; founding member of Minneapa. Being a filker (see link under Bruce Pelz) he was Guest of Honor at GAFilk Six, and the Interfilk Guest at Contata 5. Once explained to me “We have half these songs memorized – usually the first half.” [JH]
- Born August 11, 1959 — Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. Kindle has Bone Music and a number of his other novels, iBooks has nothing available. (Died 2014.) (CE)
- Born August 11, 1961 — Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.) (CE)
- Born August 11, 1970 – Elizabeth Kiem, 50. Four novels for us; collaborated on five books about Balanchine. Three of those four have the Bolshoi Ballet. [JH]
- Born August 11, 1972 – Danielle Wood, 48. Tasmanian. Three novels for us (with Heather Rose); dozens more via thus this site (subscription needed). Website here. [JH]
- Born August 11, 1976 — Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go! to name but a few of his roles. (CE)
- Born August 11, 1989 – Will Wight, 31. Sixteen novels in three series; fourteen shorter stories, most available only here. Website here. Some of you will know why I keep misspelling his misspelling his name (and may even know how to spell Nesselrode). [JH]
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- Mother Goose and Grimm has a careful superhero.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Eugenics. It works! I swear! (Remember the hovertext.)
(9) TOWARDS POGO. Maggie Thompson guides readers through “The Depression Comics Challenge” at SDCC’s Toucan blog.
…Even in high school, Walt Kelly had worked at his local newspaper; after graduation, he even drew that paper a comic strip about the life of P.T. Barnum. While he was also hired for a few freelance assignments while living on the East Coast, he wanted to produce a different sort of comic art. Walt Disney Productions was his goal, he applied to work there, and he was hired.
As he worked for Disney on a variety of projects for the next five and a half years, he became friends with several of his fellow writers and artists. Like many other fledgling creators there, he’d eventually go on to work in the new comic book industry.
But wait. We were wrapping up the 1930s. And the 1940s were just ahead….
(10) CONDEMNED BY THE SCI-FI SCRIBE. In “Awards For Works Should Be Judged By The Work Itself” [Archive Today copy] Richard Paolinelli rolls together the week’s kerfuffles – Hugo toastmaster GRRM mispronouncing names, Jeannette Ng’s Hugo, the Retro-Hugos for Campbell and Lovecraft, and the attack on the concept of an sff canon – into one prodigious blunt and fires it up. Every paragraph is like this:
…And now they want to change the rules for future Retro Hugos it seems. No longer can the best work be nominated, they yowl, but if the creator behind said work does not pass the “Officially Acceptable Wokeness Test” they must be chiseled out of the SF/F historical record forever lest future generations ever hear of their vile “un-woke” creations!
And to make sure we know how unwoke he is, Richard repeatedly misspells N.K. Jemisin’s name, and delivers this bonus blast to John Scalzi’s syndicated movie review column of 30 years ago.
…Even John Scalzi jumped into the fray to declare that we really shouldn’t waste our time on the “old SF/F” stuff and only read the “modern (read: acceptably woke) stuff”.
HISTORICAL NOTE: I had the extreme displeasure of having to read his crap when it shot across the McClatchy Newspaper wire back in the mid-1990s when he was at the Fresno Bee and I worked the copy desk for two days a week at the Modesto Bee (thankfully the other three days I escaped that torture by working in the Sports department.)
When I heard Scalzi had jumped to fiction writing I pitied his poor editor. His stuff at the Bee was always the last we worked on and always need massive reworking to be suitable to run….
(11) DOWN THESE MEAN BOSTON STREETS. Obviously not sff, but I sure have read a hell of a lot of these books. At CrimeReads, Susanna Lee surveys “The World Of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser And The Birth Of The 1970’s Private Detective”. Really, Lee could have been rather more critical and still have been fair to the series.
…In [The Godwulf Mnuscript], a student member of the anticapitalist committee tells Spenser not to laugh at the group, saying that they are “perfectly serious and perfectly right.” Spenser answers that so is everyone else he knows. In a world that revolves around ideologies and declarations of righteousness, Spenser is glad to meet people who don’t take themselves too seriously. The cast of supporting characters is populated by friends of different genders and colors who operate on principle without saying so, who are more about the walk than the talk. This is part of the hard-boiled principle of understatement; other people’s pain is to be taken seriously, but one’s own is not. But it is also a signal that the hard-boiled is beginning to change his parameters.
(12) AN EX-WIZ OF A WIZ. “Successor To Fill The Shoes Of Retiring New Zealand Wizard” is a short transcript from NPR’s Morning Edition. This is nearly the whole thing:
Ian Brackenbury Channell walks around in black robes and a pointy hat. He’s a tourist attraction, so Christchurch, New Zealand, even pays him. As he steps aside, a successor wizard takes over. Now, you may ask, exactly what magical power does this wizard possess? His answer – every day, the world gets more serious, so fun is the most powerful thing.
(13) NO LONGER AN ENIGMA. “Wartime code breaker helps crack Sheffield birds’ behaviour”.
Scientists have used mathematical equations developed by a wartime code breaker to understand the behaviour of birds.
University of Sheffield researchers used models developed by Alan Turing to study why flocks of long-tailed tits spread out across the countryside.
They found the birds were more likely to stay close to their relatives but avoided larger flocks.
PhD student Natasha Ellison said the maths was essential to the research.
Researchers tracked the birds around Sheffield’s Rivelin Valley, which eventually produced a pattern across the landscape, and they used maths to reveal the behaviours causing these patterns.
The team used equations developed by Mr Turing in the 1950s, who developed them to describe how animals get their spotted and striped patterns.
(14) REVERSE POLARITY. “Stunning ‘reverse waterfall’ filmed near Sydney” is a BBC video.
High winds and torrential rain on the New South Wales south coast in Australia have resulted in a spectacular sight – waterfalls in the Royal National Park being blown in reverse.
(15) WHEN FRUIT COLLIDES. “‘Bullying’ Apple fights couple over pear logo”: BBC’s article includes a picture of the allegedly-infringing graphic.
When Natalie Monson started her food blog 11 years ago, she didn’t expect to end up embroiled in a fight with the world’s most valuable company.
But the US small business owner is now battling Apple for the right to use a pear in the logo on her recipe app.
In a patent filing, Apple said the image was too similar to its own logo and would hurt its brand.
Ms Monson says the tech giant is simply “bullying” and she feels a “moral obligation” to fight back.
More than 43,000 people have already signed the petition she and her husband Russ, owners of the Super Healthy Kids website, created last week to try to pressure the company to back down.
“This is a real world example of a small business being destroyed by a giant monopoly because they don’t have accountability,” Mr Monson told the BBC. “That was so frustrating to us that we thought we had to do something. We can’t just be the next victim on the list.”
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
(16) A VERY ANTISOCIAL INSECT. Yes, this ant could do anything except bite its way out of a drop of tree resin: “Fossil of fearsome ‘hell ant’ that used tusk-like jaws to hunt its victims discovered in amber” at Yahoo! News.
A 99-million year old fossil of a “hell ant” is giving researchers a glimpse into the behavior of these fearsome ancient insects, a new study reports.
Encased in amber (tree resin), the fossil provides the most vivid picture yet of how hell ants once used their uncanny tusk-like mandibles and diverse horns to successfully hunt down victims for nearly 20 million years, before vanishing from the planet.
“Since the first hell ant was unearthed about a hundred years ago, it’s been a mystery as to why these extinct animals are so distinct from the ants we have today,” said study lead author Phillip Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in a statement.
(17) WHY IT’S GR8T. In “Honest Trailers: Avatar–The Last Airbender” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies explain that the anime series Avatar–The Last Airbender is “full of life lessons that will thrill your inner eight-year-old–because it was written for eight year olds.”
[Thanks to John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]