Frankenstein on a Big Screen with Big Music

By Martin Morse Wooster: I was at the American Film Institute on Friday night to see the 1931 Frankenstein. The added value this time was a score by Michael Shapiro. Frankenstein doesn’t have a score except for the main title and one musical stretch) so Shapiro created one, which I learned from Shapiro’s website was first performed in 2002, and comes in versions for full orchestra, chamber orchestra, or wind ensemble.  The version I heard was the wind ensemble one, and the wind ensemble was the U.S. Navy Band.

The American Film Institute does a brisk trade in showing silent films with live accompaniments, but in these cases musicians are adding sound to films that don’t have any noise. Frankenstein has a reasonable amount of dialogue for a film and Shapiro’s score often drowns out what happens on the screen.  I don’t think Shapiro’s work adds to Frankenstein, and it occasionally subtracts from what is happening on screen.  I’m glad I heard it, and of course the Navy Band was competent, but I don’t need to hear Shapiro’s score again.

That being said, I’m very glad I saw Frankenstein on a large screen.  Given that I’ve seen the stage version of Young Frankenstein, which is a copy of a copy, it’s good to see the original again. Frankenstein has its problems.  At 71 minutes, it’s too short, and there are some scenes that are now clichés.  (Note to assistants of Frankenstein:  stealing the jar that says “Abnormal Brain” is a really bad idea.)  I also liked Frankenstein’s explanation that he has harnessed something even more powerful than the ultraviolet ray and “the violet ray.”

That being said, Frankenstein is a great film.  Colin Clive is excellent as Frankenstein, and gives a performance of controlled menace.  James Whale was an excellent director; you can argue whether this film or Bride of Frankenstein was better, but Frankenstein is in the first tier.  Whale picked Boris Karloff and was right to do so.  I thought the most powerful scene was when the monster kills a little girl because, well, he’s evil.  That scene was scarier than a lot of gorefests I’ve seen.

Michael Shapiro may have written a superfluous score, but I’m glad the American Film Institute reminded me of Frankenstein‘s excellence.

U.S. Navy Band rehearses Frankenstein score.

Pixel Scroll 10/27/18 When A Pixel’s Not Engaged In Its Enscrollment, Or Maturing Its Pixellious Little Plans

(1) ARISIA AGAIN. A second account where someone tells how Arisia unsatisfactorily handled her reported rape — Maura Taylor in “Arisia and #MeToo (TW: Rape)”.

I believe Crystal Huff, in part because a very similar thing happened to me.

Arisia ’15, I was raped. And Arisia did nothing in response…

(2) NOVEL VERDICT. SF Bluestocking weighs in on an anticipated sequel: “Book Review: Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames”.

Nicholas Eames’ freshman novel, Kings of the Wyld, was one of my favorite reads of 2017, a well-written, cleverly observed and often hilariously funny adventure fantasy pastiche that adhered to genre forms while gently poking fun at well-worn tropes and presenting a refreshingly positive and downright heartwarming portrait of non-toxic masculinity in action. So I was pretty hyped to see what Eames would make of this sequel, which showcases a mixed-gender cast from the point of view of a queer teenage girl. Unfortunately, Bloody Rose doesn’t quite rise to the level of excellence of its predecessor, although it’s also by no means a complete failure at the perhaps-too-many things it sets out to accomplish…

(3) HERE’S LOOKING AT WHO, KID. ScienceFiction.com calls it “sour grapes”: “Steven Moffat Is Afraid Of ‘Doctor Who’ Looking ‘Cheap’”.

While on an episode of the podcast Sitcom Geeks, Moffat revealed that he thinks more money should be spent on ‘Doctor Who’ in order to keep the show competitive. The interviewer made a comment about the ‘Who’ of his childhood, saying:

“My memory of ‘Doctor Who’ is very much a piece of cardboard that he is standing behind.”

To which Moffat replied:

“That’s the big challenge of ‘Doctor Who’ now… running the risk of looking as cheap now as it did then, compared to what the rest of TV is doing, unless they put a whole lot more money into it. And it’s still an inexpensive show. A show that generates as much money as ‘Doctor Who’ should be getting more of it back.”

(4) A THEOLOGICAL CONTROVERSY. Popsugar throws down: “Is the Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween Movie or a Christmas Movie? Let’s Settle This”.

Yes, a lot of the movie takes place in Halloween Town and main character Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King, but there are also plenty of Christmas elements once Jack travels to Christmas Town. Is it a Christmas movie that happens to take place around Halloween, or is it a Halloween movie with strong Christmas themes? The debate between which is which has raged on among fans ever since the film’s release in 1993 (in late October, it should be noted), so much so that director Henry Selick finally had to step into the fray.

Click to find out how the director answered the question.

(5) FAST FOOD CONFRONTATION. N.K. Jemisin’s thread starts here.

“Badassfully” — that cracks me up.

(6) FOR THE RECORD. Video researcher Echo Ishii’s latest two finds include one of the recent past and another from 20 years ago.

HUMANS is a UK science fiction television series that began in 2015. There are three series broadcast thus far. The theme revolves around a modern world in which anthropomorphic androids called ‘synths’ are part of daily life. Synths can be purchased for family/personal use but there are also synths contracted by companies and synths contracted by government health services. HUMANS is an SF drama show-the focus being on how the exists of synths explores human relationships to technology and each other….

…Thomas Veil’s life has been erased. His friends don’t know him and his identity seems to be erased from all record. He figures out that the people responsible for his erasure negatives of a photograph he took of rebels being hanged by  US soldiers in South America. Someone wants the negatives to erase all the evidence. Veil believes it’s part of a coverup of government activities.  He tries to identify the military unit involved using evidence from the photos, yet, each step takes him  deeper into a an ever, menacing conspiracy.  He follows a trail of clues with lead him to several other anomalies: one town controlled by  subliminal programming; another town in which people are being abducted by UFO’s;  yet another  town comprised entirely of people who’ve been erased like Tom.  Veil himself is often captured, tracked, and subject to further experiments.

(7) THE PLOT THICKENS. WIRED’s coverage of Kim Stanley’s Robinson’s new book, Red Moon, begins in his community garden plot — “The Climate-Obsessed Sci-Fi Genius of Kim Stanley Robinson”.

Robinson’s little town, crisscrossed by bike paths, is full of artists and scientists. (The guy who works the next garden plot over is a researcher at Monsanto; Robinson says everyone can tell that neighbor secretly threw down some RoundUp to clear a pathway.) Robinson tried to build a perfect ecosystem within the constraints of scientific and political realities. It went wrong. Now, only a polymerization of advanced superscience and hardcore diplomacy will fix it—and ignoring those realities will make things worse.

In other words, Kim Stanley Robinson is living inside a Kim Stanley Robinson novel….

(8) LE GUIN THE POET. David Naimon, who interviewed Ursula K. Le Guin for Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, discusses in “Always Beginning”, a post at the Poetry Foundation website, how Le Guin’s she continued to work on poems throughout her career.

…Despite her formal playfulness, Le Guin’s poems aren’t considered experimental or avant-garde. She wasn’t interested in what was or was not en vogue—formally, stylistically, or otherwise—in contemporary poetry. She found more freedom in the constraints of metrically rhyming verse than in free verse. And there is a way in which Le Guin’s poetry feels, if not out of time, then as if it arises from a longer span of time. I first noticed this elongated perspective, this drawing from a longer timeline of influence, when discussing the craft of writing fiction with her. She cautioned against getting swept up in whatever was in fashion given how many fashions she had seen come and go in publishing, as well as how the commodification of books shapes many of these fashions….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 27, 1926 – Takumi Shibano, Teacher, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Japan. He co-founded and edited Uchujin, Japan’s first SF magazine, in 1957. He was a major figure in the establishment of Japanese SFF fandom, and he founded and chaired four of the first six conventions in that country. In 1968 the Trans-Oceanic Fan Fund (TOFF) paid for him to attend a Worldcon for the first time, in the U.S., where he was a Special Guest. He wrote several science fiction novels starting in 1969, but his work translating more than 60 science fiction novels into Japanese was his major contribution to speculative fiction. From 1979 on, he attended most Worldcons and served as the presenter of the Seiun Award. He was Fan Guest of Honor at two Worldcons, in 1996 and at Nippon 2007, he was given the Big Heart Award by English-speaking fandom, and he was presented with a Special Hugo Award and a Special Seiun Award.
  • Born October 27, 1939 – John Cleese, 79, Oscar-nominated Actor, Writer, and Producer from England whose most famous genre work is undoubtedly in the Hugo finalist Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but who has also appeared many other genre films, including the Saturn-nominated Time Bandits, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Great Muppet Caper, the live-action version of The Jungle Book, two of the Harry Potter movies, and the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still – and, surprisingly, in episodes of the TV series The Avengers, Doctor Who, and 3rd Rock from the Sun. And he wrote a DC Elseworlds tale, Superman: True Brit, in which Superman was British. Really. Truly.
  • Born October 27, 1940 – Patrick Woodroffe, Artist and Illustrator from England, who produced more than 90 covers for SFF books, including works by Zelazny, Heinlein, and GRRM, along with numerous interior illustrations, in the 1970s. He was also commissioned to provide speculative art for record album cover sleeves; his masterwork was The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony: The Birth and Death of a World, a joint project with the symphonic rock musician Dave Greenslade, which purported to be the first five chapters of an alien Book of Genesis, consisting of two music discs by the musician and a 47-page book of Woodroffe’s illustrations. It sold over 50,000 copies in a five-year period, and the illustrations were exhibited at the Brighton UK Worldcon in 1979. Hallelujah Anyway, a collection of his work, was published in 1984, and he was nominated for Chesley and BSFA Awards.
  • Born October 27, 1948 – James Cosmo, 70, Actor and Producer from Scotland whose most notable recent genre appearance was playing Night’s Watch Commander Mormont in the series Game of Thrones. He had roles in the films Highlander, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, Wonder Woman, Doomwatch, Malevolent, Dark Signal, and the short film 2081 (based on Vonnegut’s story “Harrison Bergeron”), as well as roles in TV series such as SS-GG, Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic, UFO, Merlin, and the upcoming His Dark Materials.
  • Born October 27, 1948 – Bernie Wrightson, Artist and Illustrator, whose credits include dozens of comic books and fiction book covers, and more than hundred interior illustrations, as well as a number of accompanying works of short fiction. His first comic book story, “The Man Who Murdered Himself” appeared in the House of Mystery No. 179 in 1969. With writer Len Wein, he later co-created the muck creature Swamp Thing in House of Secrets No. 92. In the 70s, he spent seven years drawing approximately fifty detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Frankenstein. And in the 80s, he did a number of collaborations with Stephen King, including the comic book adaptation of that author’s horror film Creepshow. In 2012, he collaborated with Steve Niles on Frankenstein Alive, Alive! for which he won a National Cartoonists Society’s award. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, was honored with an Inkwell Special Recognition Award for his 45-year comics art career, and received nominations for Chesley Awards for Superior and Lifetime Artistic Achievement and for a Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Illustrated Narrative.
  • Born October 27, 1953 – Robert Picardo, 65, Actor and Writer who played the Emergency Medical Hologram on 170 episodes of the Saturn-winning Star Trek: Voyager, a role which he reprised in cameos in the film Star Trek: First Contact and episodes of Deep Space Nine and the fan series Star Trek: Renegades. He is also credited with writing a Voyager tie-in work, The Hologram’s Handbook. He has a long list of other genre credits, including the films The Man Who Fell to Earth, Total Recall, Innerspace, Legend, Amazon Women on the Moon, and Gremlins 2 (for which he received a Saturn nomination to match the one he received for Voyager), and recurring roles in the TV series Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Smallville, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Since 1999 he has been a member of the Advisory Board, and now the Board of Directors, of The Planetary Society, which was founded by Carl Sagan to provide research, public outreach, and political advocacy for engineering projects related to astronomy, planetary science, and space exploration.
  • Born October 27, 1970 – Jonathan Stroud, 48, Writer from England who produces speculative genre literature for children and young adults. The Bartimaeus Trilogy is set in an alternate London, and involves a thousand-year-old djinn; Lockwood & Co. is a series involving ghost hunters in another alternative London. I’ve read a few of the latter – they’re fun, fast reads. His works have won 3 Mythopoeic Awards for Children’s Literature and 3 Prix Imaginaires for Youth Novels.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • In Monty, an attack of the credentials:
  • Wrong Hands is confident you’ll hear a lot of these clichés at Halloween.

(11) INPUT REQUESTED. Do you have an opinion about what magazines Featured Futures should cover? Jason wants to know: “Poll: What Magazines Should Featured Futures Cover?”

(12) BACK IN THE ZONE. Whew! Galactic Journey’s Natalie Devitt says in the new fall (1963) season The Twilight Zone has redeemed itself: “[October 26, 1963] [Return to Form] (Twilight Zone, Season 5, Episodes 1-4)”.

In case you have been living under a rock or moved on to newer programs, like The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone returned to television for a fifth season. The series has also returned to a half-hour format and is once again airing on Friday nights. Back in May, I wrote that I hoped the program would be renewed for at least another season, because I just could not bear the thought of a once great series ending its run with an episode like The Bard. Well, it seems as if the television gods must have been listening because my wish has come true. If you have not been tuning in consistently for the past month, here is what you may have missed:

(13) PANNED. NPR’s Chris Klimek reviews “‘Suspiria’: A Cult-Horror Remake Dances To A Confusing Beat”.

Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of Dario Argento’s gnarly Italian cult film about a haunted dance academy in Germany, is vulgar, shamelessly pretentious, and frequently opaque. But enough about its virtues.

Set in 1977, the year Argento unleashed Suspiria Prime upon the world, this “cover version” (in the words of Guadagnino’s longtime collaborator Tilda Swinton, who plays three of the new film’s major roles, under varying tonnages of prosthetic makeup) is, tonally and visually, muted and somber where its inspiration was vibrant and operatic. A title card at the opening warns us that it comprises “Six Acts and an Epilogue in a Divided Berlin,” and sure enough, this Suspiria, at 152 minutes, runs just shy of an hour longer than Argento’s. Even without those title cards at the top of each act, you would. Notice. The. Time.

(14) PECUNIAM PRO ARTIS. Monetizing: at London’s “Comic Con, Cosplayers explain how they support their art”.

Yaya Han has more than two million fans on Facebook alone. She’s become a celebrity in her own right and has even featured on comic book covers for Marvel.

She has found her niche within the community, but only through trial and error.

“It’s still brand new to all of us,” she says.

“I have a line of cosplay accessories that I designed back in the early 2000s. I have been selling online as well as at conventions as a vendor or exhibitor.

“People saw me at conventions for years, and this was how I built my name and brand recognition.

“I did all of this without knowing what I was doing. I just wanted to live at cons [conventions].

(15) OLD FILM SERVICE TO BE SHUTTERED. FilmStruck, a subsection/streaming service for old movies, will be closed before the end of November says Gizmodo: “Warner Bros. and Turner Are Killing One of the Internet’s Last Good Things”.

…  Variety reports that AT&T subsidiaries Warner Bros. Digital Network and Turner are shuttering FilmStruck, the Netflix-like streaming service for older films. If you’ll remember AT&T acquired Turner, Warner Bros., and HBO in a major deal in June.

FilmStruck, for the sadly uninitiated, is a service that allowed you to stream thousands of old movies and documentaries for less than the price of Netflix. For old movie lovers, this was an absolute boon; between the catalogs of Warner Bros., Turner, and Criterion, FilmStruck had the largest library of early films available to a mass audience. There are movies on the service that are virtually impossible for the public to view any other way—no VHS release, no readily available spools of film, and only the slightest chance of a screening on TCM.

(16) CEASELESS SURVEILLANCE. Camestros Felapton discusses the trilogy — “Review: The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older”.

Comprising three books (Infomocracy, Null States and State Tectonics), the Centenal Cycle examines a near future world with a radical form of global democracy. With most of the globe carved up into roughly equal population sized mini-states, Older’s thought-experiment novels takes the ‘marketplace of ideas’ seriously with a world where people might move a few blocks in a big city to change their government. The grout in the tiles of worldwide micro-democracy is information and Information. The latter is an organisation that is a cross between a nationalised Google, a surveillance state, a non-partisan civil service, the ‘deep state’ and a benevolent version of a Wikipedia of everything….

(17) FRANK AT 200. At Nerds of a Feather, Adri analyzes a thematic collection — “Microreview [Book]: Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein”.

I’m looking today at a timely volume from Abaddon books, which explores the mythology two centuries on through a new set of stories edited by David Thomas Moore. Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein is a collection of five long novelettes and/or short novellas exploring the legacy of Victor Frankenstein and his creation through a series of shared universe stories, dealing with other creators in other situations, all of which circle the same themes of life, death, autonomy and monstrosity that the original text evokes so effectively.

…Put together, this is a very strong collection: what the stories as a whole lack in inter-relatedness and consistency, they make up for in terms of the sheer breadth of the Frankenstein experience that they cover between them.

(18) STYLE SAVINGS. Silly, but they are authorized. “A Sweet Offer: The Last Unicorn Nail Wraps” at Support Peter S. Beagle.

Interested in some neat The Last Unicorn themed product that’s been personally endorsed by Peter and benefits him as well? Well do I have a very sweet deal for you!

Peter says to tell mr to share code UNICORN10 with you which will grant you 10% off of all The Last Unicorn nail wraps and you can go here to view all neat designs you can purchase.

(19) DEATH ON A HOLIDAY. The “15th Annual Halloween Mourning Tours” educate people about death in Los Angeles a century ago.

It’s 1918, there’s been a death in the family and you are invited to the funeral. Will you cry? What will you wear? Will you attempt to contact the dearly departed?

Get the answers as you join the funeral party and see how Edwardians grieved their dead at Heritage Square Museum’s popular Mourning Tours from noon – 4pm on October 27 and 28, 2018.  Throughout the weekend, funeral-goers will be immersed in mourning etiquette, participate in a reenactment ceremony inside a historic home and other activities including:

  • The year is 1918 and that means the Spanish Flu is wreaking havoc! Will you defy the gathering bans to attend the funeral? Or, if you are deemed “sick,” what will you discover as you are escorted into a flu-ridden home?
  • Learn about the turn-of-the-century movement of Spiritualism and the lure of séances complete with a reenactment and a discussion on the “tricks of the trade.”
  • Experience a re-creation of Phantasmagoria, a phenomenon that shocked and exhilarated its Victorian audiences.

(20) MOONBASE. An open access article at Nature — “How to build a Moonbase” [PDF file].

Researchers are ramping up plans for living on the Moon.

Next year, astronaut Matthias Maurer expects to walk on the surface of the Moon — but without the hassles of a rocket flight, zero-gravity nausea and a risky landing. Instead he’ll stroll close to home in a leafy meadow near Cologne, Germany, which is set to host the largest Moon mock-up ever made. On a pit of artificial lunar dust covering more than 1,000 square metres, Maurer and other scientists will be attached to crane-and-pulley systems that allow them to leap as if experiencing the Moon’s weaker gravity, and work under adjustable lamps that simulate lighting at different lunar sites. Sometimes, they will retreat to lunar-style living quarters: an airlock-connected module the size of a shipping container.

(21) BYE BYE BOBA. There won’t be a Boba Fett movie and this writer for The Verge seems to think it is a Good Thing™: “Lucasfilm canceling its Boba Fett film could be good news for Star Wars’ future”.

…We also know what happens with the other characters in the other rumored projects: Boba Fett gets eaten by a Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi bites it after helping a terrorism suspect escape from a secure facility in A New Hope. These backstory movies flesh out the larger world of Star Wars, but they’re not advancing the larger story or advancing toward the kind of ending that builds anticipation and story loyalty.

This isn’t to say that prequel stories can’t be useful or interesting. Lucasfilm’s animated TV shows have done solid work in looking at older time periods in the franchise and telling intriguing, engaging, successful stories…

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Frankenstein Meets Little Women in South Pasadena

Robert Kerr poses with the Ghostbusters car.

By John King Tarpinian: October 20 was the opening reception for the art exhibition of this match-up honoring the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein and the 150th anniversary of Little Women, two well-loved novels by two groundbreaking female authors.

The city of South Pasadena, CA had a lot going on this evening.  They had an art-walk, with local artists hawking their wares.  An Octoberfest, with an Oompa band, was happening.  Their historic Rialto theater was doing a fundraiser screening of the original Ghostbusters.  All of this within a few blocks of each other.

[Photos of more works on display follow the jump.]

“Franky Peruses A Classic” by Mike Bell

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 10/19/18 That Pixel Is Not Dead, It’s Just Pining For The Scrolls

(1) NOW A FOURTH BODY. Andrew Liptak reveals The Redemption of Time at The Verge“How a fan fiction for Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem became an official novel”

Since the publication of The Three-Body Problem, the first installment of Cixin Liu’s epic science fiction trilogy about making contact with an alien civilization, the series has gone on to earn the Chinese author enormous acclaim and legions of fans worldwide — including President Barack Obama. Next year, Tor Books will publish a new novel set in the same world, titled The Redemption of Time, but it won’t be by Liu. Instead, the book is written by Baoshu, an ardent fan of the series who originally published it online as a novel-length fan fiction story — one that became so popular that the trilogy’s publisher decided to release it as an official novel.

On Liptak’s personal blog he admits coming late to the trilogy, and shares what he got out of it: “From the beginning to the end: Liu Cixin’s Three-Body Trilogy”.

The most impressive thing that I found with the trilogy as a whole was the scale that Liu was writing at. Reviews and blurbs for the series teased that it spanned the entire future: from the 1970s all the way to the heat death of the universe, and he manages to do that, in a really interesting way.

(2) WEEKEND AUDIO PLAY. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie touts “Something for the weekend, a 45-minute radio play from BBC Radio 4, free to listen to for next 4 weeks.”

Following an unspecified disaster the internet and power system has collapsed and been down for several years.  Two people – grandfather and granddaughter seek to escape Britain for France.  Global warming is the least of their problems.

This radio play reverses current immigration and Brexit concerns.

(3) JWC’S LONG VERSION OF WHO GOES THERE. John Betancourt has started a Kickstarter to fund publication of “Frozen Hell: The Book That Inspired The Thing”. He says, “It turned up in Campbell’s papers in a university archive. (Thanks for the discovery goes to Alec Nevala-Lee, who was researching Campbell at the time for his book, Astounding, which comes out in November.)”

In 1938, acclaimed science fiction author John W. Campbell published the novella Who Goes There?, about a team of scientists in Antarctica who discover and are terrorized by a monstrous, shape-shifting alien entity. The story would  later be adapted into John Carpenter’s iconic movie The Thing (following an earlier film adaptation in 1951). The published novella was actually an abridged version of Campbell’s original story, called Frozen Hell, which had to be shortened for publication. The Frozen Hell manuscript remained unknown and unpublished for decades, and it was only recently rediscovered. Frozen Hell expands the Thing story dramatically, giving vital backstory and context to an already incredible tale. We are pleased and honored to  offer Frozen Hell to you now, as Campbell intended it. You will be among the first people to ever read this completed version of the story.

Robert Silverberg will write the introduction.

How well is Betancourt’s Kickstarter doing? Well, with 42 days remaining, it has raised $11,592 of its $1,000 goal. So, rather well!

(4) VERDICT ON HALLOWEEN. NPR’s Monica Castillo reports on “‘Halloween’: This Time, Laurie Strode Is Locked And Loaded”.

Trauma is not neat and pretty to deal with; it is not easily diagnosed, it does not vanish on its own, and its lingering effects can touch those around us. In the latest sequel to the long and winding Halloween series, trauma plays an important role in the narrative arc of famed final girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). You might remember her from the original 1978 John Carpenter film, which saw her screaming, running, discovering her friends brutally murdered, then fending off a serial killer to protect the kids she was babysitting.

The BBC summarizes: “Halloween: Jamie Lee Curtis reboot gets mixed reviews”

The 2018 version marks the 11th instalment in the horror series, which began in 1978.

The reviews, which have been published ahead of the film’s release on Friday, range between two and four stars.

(5) NOW HAUNTING THE MENU. Did you know Burger King has unleashed the Nightmare King burger? It has a green bun! They say that scientists have shown you get 3-1/2 more times the nightmares eating the Nightmare King than you do with the other fear-inducing items on the Burger King menu!

(6) VENOM. NPR’s Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon, and Lars Gotrich discuss good and bad points in “Venom: Oh It’s Gooey, But Is It Good?” — all audio. good and bad points (mostly good) of differences from MCU epics.

In Venom, Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist who’s trying to rebound from a major setback in his career. But Eddie’s plans are halted when he’s overtaken by a violent — and gooey — alien symbiote.

(7) BLOODY HELL. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story “MVPs of Horror: How Stanley Kubrick made the elevators bleed in ‘The Shining'”, has an interview with Kubrick’s personal assistant, Leon Vitali, who says the bloody elevator scene was a real short with a real elevator and could only be done on the first take because the set up was so complex.

From those ghostly twin girls to that chilling dog man, Stanley Kubrick‘s 1980 horror masterpiece, The Shining, is awash in terrifying imagery that seeps off the screen and into moviegoers’ nightmares to this day. But there’s one scene that scared the legendary filmmaker himself so much, he couldn’t be on the Overlook Hotel set the day it was filmed. That’s the iconic “elevator of blood” sequence, a static shot of an elevator door slowly opening as a veritable sea of the sticky red stuff comes pouring out, covering the walls, furniture, and even the camera lens.

(8) A SENSATION IN AMERICA. At Print, “A Celebration of Spain’s “Golden Generation” Comic Book Artists”, with a gallery of images:

Roach begins his history with Madrid’s and Barcelona’s turn of the 20th century humor magazines and goes on to chronicle its development and expansion to England, the States, and worldwide. It concludes with Spain’s contemporary gifted innovators like David Aja, Javier Olivares, and Guillem March. But his primary focus is on the 1970s and ’80s, an era he terms the “Golden Generation.”

This was when Spanish artists first caused a sensation in America, as Warren magazines began to publish Esteban Maroto, Luis Bermejo, Fernando Ferna?ndez, Jose Ortiz, and many others in its Creepy/Eerie/Vampirella horror comics line.

(9) TIL THE PIPS SQUEAK. Greedy bookstore landlord news from Publishers Lunch:

At a press conference at [NYC] City Hall on Wednesday promoting the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, bookseller Sarah McNally said that the landlord for her bookstore on Soho’s Prince Street — which will close and relocate at the end of June 2019 — wanted to raise her rent from $350,000 a year to $850,000 a year, reported by Politico’s Rosa Goldensohn on Twitter. The legislation would establish requirements for lease renewal terms. McNally noted, “It would’ve helped to have the non-binding arbitration and mediation.”

The city of San Francisco, in partnership with the nonprofit Working Solutions and the Small Business Development Center, gave 11 independent bookstores at total of $103,000 in grants. The Bookstore SF Program, dubbed “a pet project of the late Mayor Ed Lee,” aims to revitalize indies as community center, and also provides municipal services “including technical assistance on marketing, human resource consulting, and help negotiating long-term leases.”

(10) A MERCURY MISSION GETS OFF THE DIME. BBC provides lots of good geeky detail about the mission in “Mission to Mercury: BepiColombo spacecraft ready for launch”.

Europe and Japan are set to launch their joint mission to Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun.

The partners have each contributed a probe to be despatched on an Ariane rocket from French Guiana.

The duo, together known as BepiColombo, are bolted to one another for the seven-year cruise to their destination, and will separate once they arrive.

It’s hoped their parallel observations can finally resolve some of the many puzzles about the hot, oddball planet.

(11) COWAN OBIT. James Cowan (1942-2018) passed away on October 6 reports Jack Dann. Cowan was the author of A Troubadour’s Testament, Letters From a Wild State, and the novel A Mapmaker’s Dream, which won the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 19, 1953 — Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was first published. Trivial Trivia:  The true first is the paperback because the hardback was not shipped for another week.
  • October 19, 1979 Meteor premiered, starring Natalie Wood, Sean Connery, and Karl Malden.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 19, 1903 – Tor Johnson (Karl Oscar Tore Johansson), Professional Wrestler and Actor from Sweden. especially known for his appearance in Plan 9 From Outer Space, although he had a number of other genre roles in films such as The Monkees’ Head, Mighty Joe Young, Ghost Catchers, The Unearthly, and Bride of the Monster, and a guest part in an episode of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.
  • Born October 19, 1940 – Sir Michael Gambon, 78, Actor of Stage and Screen from Ireland who is best known to genre fans as Professor Albus Dumbledore from the Hugo-nominated Harry Potter films (a role he picked up after the passing of Richard Harris, who played the character in the first two films), but also had roles in Toys (for which he received a Saturn nomination), Mary Reilly, Sleepy Hollow, and the Hugo finalist Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He has had guest roles in episodes of The Jim Henson Hour, Doctor Who, and Tales of the Unexpected, and played an acerbic storyteller or possibly tomb robber in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. He has also done voice roles in animated features including Fantastic Mr. Fox, Paddington, and The Wind in the Willows, in which he voiced very nicely The Badger.
  • Born October 19, 1943 – Peter Weston, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan from England who founded the Birmingham Science Fiction Group (the longest-lived fan group in the U.K.), and chaired several conventions, including the 1979 Worldcon. His fanzines Zenith and Speculation received 8 Hugo nominations, and his memoir With Stars in My Eyes: My Adventures in British Fandom was a Finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Related Book. He was the TAFF delegate in 1974, was Guest of Honor at several conventions, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the long-running fanzine convention Corflu, and received the Doc Weir Award (the UK Natcon’s Life Achievement Award).
  • Born October 19, 1943 – L.E. Modesitt, Jr., 75, Writer of more than 70 novels and 10 different series, the best known of which is his fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including a World Fantasy Convention.
  • Born October 19, 1945 – John Lithgow, 73, Actor of Stage and Screen and Producer with a multitude of genre appearances including lead roles in Twilight Zone: The Movie, Buckaroo Banzai, 2010, Harry and the Hendersons, and the TV series Third Rock from the Sun.
  • Born October 19, 1946 – Philip Pullman, 72, Writer and Scholar from England who is best known for the His Dark Materials series, the novels of which have received the Carnegie Medal and nominations for World Fantasy, Lodestar, Whitbred, and Prix Imaginaire Awards. He has been Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the Finnish Natcon.
  • Born October 19, 1948 – Jerry Kaufman, 70, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who, while in Australia as the DUFF delegate, created a Seattle bid for the Australian Natcon which actually won the bid (temporarily, for a year, before it was overturned and officially awarded to Adelaide). He was editor of, and contributor to, numerous apazines and fanzines, two of which received Hugo nominations. With Donald Keller, he founded and ran Serconia Press, which published criticism and memoirs of the SF field. He served on the Board of Directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and served as Jurist for the James Tiptree, Jr., Memorial Award. He has been Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Westercon.
  • Born October 19, 1949 – Jim Starlin, 69, Comics Writer, Artist, and Illustrator. If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ve seen the Marvel characters Thanos and Drax the Destroyer which he created. He also worked for DC and other companies over the years. He and Bernie Wrightson produced Heroes for Hope, a 1985 one-shot designed to raise money for African famine relief and recovery, which included contributions from genre writers such as Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, and Edward Bryant. He’s also written a number of genre novels in collaboration with his wife Daina Graziunas. He has been nominated for a number of comics industry awards, winning an Inkpot Award and receiving a British Fantasy Award nomination for Best Comic. Last year he was inducted into the Eisner Award Hall of Fame.
  • Born October 19, 1951 – Peter Cannon, 67. To say he’s a Lovecraftian scholar is an understatement of the first order. Both of his master theses, A Case for Howard Phillips Lovecraft and Lovecraft’s New England, are considered exemplary fifty years on. His “You Have Been in Providence, I Perceive” looks at the strong influence of Sherlock Holmes upon Lovecraft. Cannon also wrote superb fiction; he did “Pulptime” in which Lovecraft, Frank Belknap Long and Holmes team up to solve a Lovecraftian mystery. He has written several short stories in the Cthulhu Mythos genre with an element of parody in them. Before you complain about what I left out, this is but a mere taste of his writings. Feel free to add commentary on what you like best about his work.
  • Born October 19, 1964 – J. Kathleen Cheney, 54, Writer who has appeared on the SFF scene in the last 10 years and has produced numerous novels and shorter works in six different series (the novel Dreaming Death is a particular favorite of JJ’s). Her novella Iron Shoes received a Nebula nomination, and the novel The Golden City was a finalist for Locus Best First Novel.
  • Born October 19, 1969 – Roger Cross, 49, Actor from Jamaica who moved to Canada. He played a lead role in the series Continuum and has had parts in genre films The Chronicles of Riddick, War for the Planet of the Apes, the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, X2, Doomsday Rock, Voyage of Terror, The Void, and the adaptations of Dean Koontz’ Hideaway and Sole Survivor.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) MORE PUBLISHING HUMOR. From Linsey Miller —

(16) FRANKIE AT 200. Starting tomorrow in South Pasadena, “Frankenstein Meets Little Women | A Monster Mash”.

In conjunction with the Fall South Pasadena Arts Crawl, the South Pasadena Public Library presents an exhibition featuring the artwork of 11 accomplished artists and illustrators. The artwork—much of it created specifically for this exhibition—is inspired by two beloved literary classics that are celebrating anniversaries in 2018: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein marks its 200th anniversary and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women its 150th.

The opening reception is Saturday, October 20, 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the Library Community Room at 1115 El Centro Street, South Pasadena, California, 91030. Throughout the following week the Library will host related programs, including a Louisa May Alcott living history performance, an artists’ panel discussion, a screening of Bride of Frankenstein (1935), an illustrated talk titled “Frankenstein Dissected” and a closing reception. For more information, visit the Library’s website: www.southpasadenaca.gov/library.

Frankenstein Meets Little Women: A Monster Mash is curated by performer and educator Valerie Weich. Weich founded Literary Lives, an educational performing arts outreach program for students and has performed throughout Southern California as Louisa May Alcott. Since 2012 Weich has been researching the lives of Mary and Percy Shelley and Lord Byron at The Huntington Library as an Independent Scholar in order to develop a new one-woman presentation about Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.

(17) FACES OF SCIENCE. Roald Dahl collaborator “Sir Quentin Blake brings science pioneers to life” – a local exhibit out of reach of most Filers, but article has several of the illos. These new works will be on display at London’s Science Museum from October 19.

Illustrator Sir Quentin Blake has brought his own unique style to pictures of some of the world’s most celebrated scientists.

Sir Quentin, known for humorous work in children’s books, has made a set of five works depicting 20 women and men.

Pilot Amy Johnson is there, as is spinning machine creator Sir Richard Arkwright.

The pictures were the idea of the Science Museum and will hang outside its Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery.

(18) FANHISTORY. I missed reporting these Fanac.org features when they first came out –

  • Pacificon II (1964) Worldcon) – Hugos & Leigh Brackett, Edmond Hamilton Guest of Honor Speeches

Pacificon II, the 22nd World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Oakland, CA in 1964. In this [36 minute] audio with images, Toastmaster Anthony Boucher awards the Hugos (in under 7 minutes!), and Guests of Honor Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton give their speeches. It’s great fun; Tony Boucher is witty and thoughtful, Leigh Brackett is open and sincere, and Ed Hamilton is surprisingly funny, with anecdotes and personal reminiscences. Learn the secret of the Boys Club of Science Fiction. Hear the tale of throwing a body out of a spaceship near Saturn. Get a real understanding of what it feels like to sell your first story.

Leigh Brackett wrote both SF and Mystery (and was cowriter of the screenplay for “The Big Sleep”). Edmond Hamilton appeared in print before the first SF magazine was published and was still publishing at the time of this speech. Of him, Tony Boucher says, “No one has ever destroyed so many suns so well.” This material was provided by The Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI), and Jerome Scott, Director of Projects for SCIFI in LA.

 

  • MidAmeriCon (1976) Worldcon – Masquerade winners

MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976. There were some very impressive costumes in the 1976 Worldcon Masquerade. This brief (7 minute 45 second) video brings you the award presentation for the winners (including “dishonorable mention”) and a look at the costumes and costumers. You’ll see Sally Rand, Bruce Pelz and Filthy Pierre among others. Don’t miss the Martian costume!

 

(19) THAT’S SOME (N)ICE MUSIC. The bergs are alive… with the sound of music? “Scientists Learn To Hear The ‘Songs’ Of Ice Shelves”

The “whistling” of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica’s largest, is beautifully eerie. It’s also potentially a divining rod for changes to shelves’ composition that can be monitored in real time.

To arrive at their new recording, twelve scientists working on the ice shelf burrowed 34 tools for measuring seismic activity into it, expecting to monitor its internal vibrations. They noticed, however, that surface wind glazing over the “firn” — the top layer of snow of the shelf — was feeding the sensors below.

What was at first considered to be “inconvenient ambient noise,” as the glaciologist Douglas R. MacAyeal put it in a summation of the new findings, ended up yielding valuable insights about the health of the shelf itself. The shelf’s song changes as its surface does; strong storms can rearrange the snow dunes atop it, causing that ice to vibrate at different frequencies — how fast the seismic waves travel through the snow changes as air temperatures at the surface fluctuate, in turn giving scientists data on the shelf’s structural integrity. Meaning whether or not it will break up, and thus raise sea levels.

 

(20) PUNCH BROTHERS, PUNCH WITH CARE. Daredevil has become famous for its epic one-shot fight scenes.  In episode 4, Daredevil fakes his way into prison to get information about The Kingpin, then has to fight his way out.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 10/11/18 My Pixels Touched Dog Pixels! Agh!

(1) F&SF. Gordon Van Gelder shared F&SF’s Nov/Dec 2018 issue cover:

(2) ISS CREW OKAY AFTER FAILED TAKEOFF. Astronauts bound for the ISS safely returned when their rocket failed soon after launch — “Space crew survives plunge to Earth after Russian rocket fails”.

A Russian cosmonaut and a U.S. astronaut were safe on Thursday after a Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff in Kazakhstan, leading to a dramatic emergency landing.

The two-man crew, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and American Nick Hague, landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe as rescue crews raced to reach them, according to the U.S. space agency NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.

The mishap occurred as the first and second stages of a Russian booster rocket separated shortly after the launch from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.

(3) WHALE OF A TALE. L.A. Smith has a fascinating writeup about this 8th century artifact — “The Franks Casket” – carved from whalebone.

…So, the pictures and inscriptions on the casket are a great source of scholarly discussion. To top it all off, there seems to also be some numerological significance to the number of runes on the casket. There are 72 runes on the front and left panels, and a total of 288 runes in total. The 72 could correspond to the 72 disciples mentioned in the Latin Vulgate Bible familiar to the Anglo-Saxons. The number 288 is a multiple of 24, which is the number of runes in an early continental Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet, which had magical significance for the Anglo-Saxons.

Phew! No wonder many scholars have devoted so much time and effort on trying to decipher the runes and pictures on this little box. The more you look at it, the more you discover.

This beautiful box has so much to tell us about this fascinating period in England’s history….

(4) ANIME TRIAGE. Petréa Mitchell reviews 15 anime series and approves many as the title of her Amazing Stories post hints — “Anime roundup 10/11/2018: Sturgeon Takes a Holiday”. For example —

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime premiere – Satoru Mikami is a single geek who suddenly gets stabbed to death on a Tokyo street, only to find himself in a fantasy world, granted fabulous powers, and hobnobbing with a mighty dragon. Typical light-novel power fantasy, right? Well, there are a couple of catches. One is that he’s been reborn as the weakest creature possible. The other concerns the visual presentation of the show itself.

When adapting a popular property, a show is expected to make a predictable amount of money off selling Blu-Rays and merchandise to hardcore fans. Since those fans will buy it no matter what, most shows like this have a look about them that the only minimum necessary effort was made. In this case, a similar calculation seems to have been made, only the conclusion was that those fans will still mindlessly purchase it if it turns into an art film.

This premiere is one visual treat after another, from the careful attention to detail in the movement and posture of people in modern Tokyo, to the trippy mixed-media imagery as Satoru falls into another reality, to the wild expressiveness wrung from a ball of goo. This still has some of the usual problems of light-novel adaptations— the protagonist is already ridiculously overpowered, too much game terminology, and a lot of time spent sitting around and talking— but between the unique twist and the look of this episode, it’s actually enjoyable.

(5) FIRST MAN REVIEW. NPR’s Linda Holmes reports that “‘First Man’ Considers Glory, Grief And A Famous Walk On The Moon”:

…We encounter Armstrong at three points: 1961, leading up to the start of his training as an astronaut; 1965, just before his first space flight; and 1968, as he prepares to be the first person to walk on the moon. His family life progresses alongside his much more famous professional one: the loss of his two-year-old daughter from brain cancer, the grief that nearly consumes him after, the sacrifices that his service demands from his wife, Janet (Claire Foy), and his relationship with his two boys, to whom he hesitates to explain the dangers of space travel….

(6) WHAT WE LEARNED FROM WAR GAMES. The answer is: absolutely nothing. BBC reports “US weapons systems can be ‘easily hacked'”.

…The committee’s members expressed concerns about how protected weapon systems were against cyber-attacks.

The report’s main findings were:

  • the Pentagon did not change the default passwords on multiple weapons systems – and one changed password was guessed in nine seconds…

So, does the United States use its birthday as a password? – July41776….

(7) RIVERDALE RECAP. A public service message from Martin Morse Wooster:

For people who are wondering how much Riverdale is like Archie Comics, I offer the folllowing recap of last night’s show.

Archie Andrews was found guilty of murder, but he was framed by Veronica’s father.  The underground offers to sneak him into Quebec but he decides to stay in Riverdale and take his punishment.

Veronica finds out where the jury in Archie’s trial is sequestered and sneaks into the hotel in a maid’s outfit but is thrown out before she can engage in jury tampering.

Betty is an Adderall addict and is stopped before she can fill a forged prescription.

But the gang still relaxes at Pop’s Malt Shop!

Also, I learned that fans who want Betty and Jughead to have a relationship are known as “Bugheads.”

(8) GLASS. M. Night Shyamalan’s next picture, about tortured people with superpowers, will be released in the U.S. on January 18, 2019.

M. Night Shyamalan brings together the narratives of two of his standout originals—2000’s Unbreakable, from Touchstone, and 2016’s Split, from Universal—in one explosive, all-new comic-book thriller: Glass. From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 11, 1922 – G.C. Edmondson (José Mario Garry Ordoñez Edmondson y Cotton), Author from Mexico who mostly wrote Westerns under several pen names – and, being fluent in six languages, he also did translations – but produced a number of science fiction works, many involving time travel and Latin America, including the Nebula Award-nominated The Ship That Sailed the Time Stream and its sequel, the trilogy The Cunningham Equations (co-written with C. M. Kotlan), and numerous short works in his Mad Friend universe.
  • Born October 11, 1928 – Doris Piserchia, 90, Author of more than a dozen of what multiple sources call “darkly comic novels”, including her penultimate novel, I, Zombie which she published under the pseudonym Curt Selby, and a somewhat larger number of short fiction works. Because she had a story in The Last Dangerous Visions, she has been labelled New Wave by some who didn’t do their research properly. Like most genre writers of the 70s and 80s, she has greatly benefited from digital publishing, with all of her backlist now republished in that format.
  • Born October 11, 1944 – Patrick Parrinder, 74, Writer and Critic from England who is one of the foremost experts on H. G. Wells, having written works specializing on that author subtitled Shadows of the Future, Science Fiction and Prophecy, and The Critical Heritage. Not to be mistaken as a one-trick pony, he’s also penned Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching and Utopian Literature and Science.
  • Born October 11, 1944 – Julek Heller, 74, Artist and Illustrator from Jerusalem who emigrated to England, who did cover art for around 80 novels and more than 50 works of interior art, mostly in the 80s and 90s, including covers for works by Norton, Moorcock, Silverberg’s Majipoor series, and several Mammoth Books. He also provided artwork for the 1978 TV series Pinocchio.
  • Born October 11, 1945 – Gay Haldeman, 73, Writer, Translator, and Member of First Fandom who has Masters degrees in Linguistics and Spanish. A fan and con-goer since 1963, she has contributed many letters, essays, and convention reports to genre and fannish publications, a fair number of them written in Spanish. She and her author husband Joe have been Guests of Honor at numerous conventions – including a relaxacon in Sydney, Australia named Haldecon – and she has been much in demand as a con Toastmaster. She and Joe were given the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award (NESFA’s Skylark Award) in 1996.
  • Born October 11, 1950 – William R. Forstchen, 68, Writer and Historian, whose early novel series included Ice Prophet, Wars of Heaven, Gamestar Wars, and The Lost Regiment, and more recently the One Second After post-apocalyptic novels. Has also contributed novels to the Star Trek, Riftwar, and Wing Commander universes. He was Guest of Honor at InConJunction XIX.
  • Born October 11, 1953 – David Morse, 65, Actor, Writer, Singer, and Director, who has had main roles in the Hugo-nominated Twelve Monkeys, The Green Mile, The Boy, Double Vision, the Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge-inspired Passengers, and the Hugo-winning film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Locus-winning Contact, as well as parts in World War Z, Joe Hill’s Horns, TV series Friday the 13th: The Series, Tales from the Crypt, SeaQuest DSV, Medium, and Blindspot, and the Stephen King miniseries The Langoliers.
  • Born October 11, 1962 – Joan Cusack, 56, Actor and Writer especially known for comedic roles, who had main parts in the Hugo-nominated Addams Family Values (for which she received a Saturn nomination), the film adaptation of David Gerrold’s Hugo- and Nebula-winning The Martian Child, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and a plethora of voice roles in animated features including the Hugo-nominated Toy Story movies and TV specials, Chicken Little, and Mars Needs Moms.
  • Born October 11, 1965 – Lennie James, 53, Actor, Screenwriter, and Playwright from England who has had main roles in the genre TV series The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Jericho, and movie roles in Blade Runner 2049, Sahara, Lockout, and the (in JJ’s opinion) vastly-underrated Lost in Space.
  • Born October 11, 1965 – Sean Patrick Flanery, 53, Actor who starred in the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and also had lead roles in the genre films Powder, Demon Hunter, The Insatiable, Veritas, Prince of Truth, InSight, The Devil’s Carnival, and The Evil Within, and guest roles on Stargate: SG-1, The Twilight Zone, The Dead Zone, The Outer Limits, Charmed, and Touched by an Angel.
  • Born October 11, 1972 – Claudia Black, 46, Actor from Australia best known for her roles as Aeryn Sun on Farscape (for which she won a Saturn Award) and Vala Mal Doran on Stargate SG-1 (for which she won a Constellation Award, Canada’s counterpart to the Saturn Award), who also appeared in the films Pitch Black and Queen of the Damned. Her first genre role was as Cassandra on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, followed by episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Beastmaster, The Dresden Files and Haven, a recurring role on The Originals, and a main role on Containment. She has also provided character voices to animated films and TV series, and a very large number of videogames, including Uncharted, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Final Fantasy.
  • Born October 11, 1972 – Nir Yaniv, 46, Writer, Editor, Musician, and Fan from Israel who in 2000 founded the webzine of the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy and was its chief editor for seven years. He later edited several issues of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professional printed science fiction and fantasy magazine. He co-authored with Lavie Tidhar the short novel The Tel Aviv Dossier, and has published a collection of his short fiction, The Love Machine and Other Contraptions; several of his stories have been translated into English by Tidhar. As a musician, he created the first Hebrew-language SF music-themed album, The Universe in a Pita, and more recently has begun writing and directing short films of strong genre interest.
  • Born October 11, 1974 – Ian Mond, 44, Writer, Critic, and Podcaster from Australia who has published a dozen of his own stories, plus a few Doctor Who stories. He was Tuckerized by fellow Australian and Doctor Who writer Kate Orman in the tie-in novel Blue Box. For eight years, he co-hosted with Kirstyn McDermott the Hugo-nominated and Ditmar-winning book podcast, The Writer and the Critic, and his reviews of genre fiction have garnered him two Atheling nominations. He started reviewing for Locus Online in June this year.
  • Born October 11, 1978 – Wes Chatham, 40, Actor best known for a main role in the Hugo-winning TV series The Expanse, as well as a role in the two-movie Hunger Games installment Mockinjay.
  • Born October 11, 1974 – Doona Bae, 34, Actor from South Korea whose most notable genre role has been as a lead in the TV series Sense8 but has also had roles in Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, as well as several South Korean science fiction and horror films including The Ring Virus and The Host and the manga adaptation Air Doll.
  • Born October 11, 1985 – Michelle Trachtenberg, 33, Actor and Producer who started early in genre roles with a guest role on Space Cases at the age of 11 and a main role on Meego at the age of 12. At 14, she took on a main role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for which she received 3 Saturn nominations. Her other appearances include the films Inspector Gadget, Can’t Be Heaven, Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish, Black Christmas, 17 Again, and The Scribbler, and guest spots on the live-action and animated TV series Sleepy Hollow, Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Robot Chicken, The Super Hero Squad Show, SuperMansion, and Superman/Shazam. She currently has a starring voice role in the animated SF series Human Kind Of.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) FRANKENSTEIN. Sean O’Hara talks about how Mary Shelley’s preface to the book was an attempt to whitewash her life — “The History of Frankenstein Part I: Lies, Damned Lies, and Mary Shelley’s Preface to Frankenstein”

Most of us are familiar with the tale of how Mary Shelley came to write Frankenstein — how she and her husband Percy were on vacation in Switzerland and happened to be staying near Lord Byron, and on a dark and stormy night, after reading some German horror stories, they decided to have a contest to see who could write the scariest story. It all sounds so genteel. Something you’d see on Masterpiece Theater.

It’s also pure BS.

Mary and her step-sister Claire were the Kardashians of the early 19th Century. And I don’t mean they were wild by the standards of their day. They did things that would still make the front page of TMZ. If they were alive today, they’d be feuding with Beyonce and Taylor Swift, I guarantee it.

So where did the sanitized version of the story come from?

Why Mary Shelley herself….

— Then steps back to look at her mother, the feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft: “The History of Frankenstein Part II: That Time the World’s First Feminist Married the World’s First Libertarian”.

But their happiness was short lived. Wollstonecraft became pregnant at the end of 1796, and she and Godwin decided, despite their mutual misgivings about marriage, to wed so their child would be legitimate. But Wollstonecraft was by now thirty-eight, an age at which child birth became dangerous. Her daughter Mary was born safely, but Wollstonecraft contracted a postpartum infection and died a mere two weeks later, leaving her two daughters in the care of a forty year old man who had spent his entire life as a bachelor.

There are several more posts in this series at O’Hara’s blog, Yes, We Have No Culottes.

(12) KIRBY YOUR ENTHUSIASM. Scott Bradfield recommends “Reading irresponsibly with Jack Kirby” at the LA Times.

Probably what I miss most in our perilous, terrifying and end-of-times-like historical era is the ability to read irresponsibly. There’s just too much responsible reading around; it can drive you to drink. Everything we’re supposed to read keeps looming up out of the darkness, bristling with portents, economic data, apocalyptic planetary crises and an endless urgent blizzard of news bulletins about tweets, personal liberties, gun violence and conflagrations both natural and metaphorical — all of which require more sober attention than most of us can muster. Increasingly (and understandably), reading has become a duty to be performed by conscientious citizens and students. And I’m sorry, but jeez, that just isn’t right.

When I was young, reading irresponsibly was easy. I did it all the time. In fact, well into my late teens and early 20s I could easily lose myself in books and comics; it just came with the territory.

(13) WFA CONTENDER. Lela E. Buis sings the praises of a World Fantasy Award nominee: “Review of City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty”.

…So, counter to the depressive trend in the WFA finalists this year, this is a romance and an intrigue. All these people are lying to each other, and political groups are plotting right and left. Daevabad is exotic, the details of the city life, the temples and the palace very well assembled. I didn’t have any problems visualizing the people, the creatures or the scenery–the author has done a lot of research. The characters are slightly flat, but the story is more focused on the action and intrigue than on revealing their deepest inner thoughts. The reader is left to deduce a lot of what’s going on from their actions….

(14) MURDER MOST ‘BOT. And Buis gives five stars to the conclusion of the Murderbot series, but says it is not flawless – “Review of Exit Strategy by Martha Wells”.

On the not so great side, I’ve got some nits to pick with the whole story arc at this point. I suspect the series was written fairly quickly, as Wells has said it’s a short story that got out of control, and after the huge success of the first novella, she quickly got in gear to produce the rest. Tor was also in a hurry to follow up on the initial success, and went light on the editing. That means there are some inconsistencies in the content.

(15) CHIBNALL ON WHO. Showrunner Chris Chibnall discusses his new vision for Doctor Who.

(16) WHO PANEL AT NYCC. Here’s the full Doctor Who panel from New York Comic-Con 2018, with Jodie Whittaker, Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens.

(17) THE NOSE KNOWS. io9’s Germain Lussier is thrilled to hear that “The Most Disgusting Scenes in Star Wars Are Now Scented Candles”.

Scents like “Trash Compactor,” “Inside of a Tauntaun,” “Rancor,” and “Sarlacc Pit” are just some of the scents available in these new, officially licensed candles. There are some more pleasant sounding ones, too, like “Bantha Milk,” “X-Wing Cockpit” and “Yoda’s Cooking Pot”—as well as just plain weird ones like “Death Star Destroyed,” “Millennium Falcon,” “Han Solo Carbonite” and “Lightsaber Duel.”

(18) AND SMALLER FLEAS TO BITE ‘EM. Science Alert is sure “You’ll Never Guess What Scientists Want to Call The Moon of a Moon”.

Stars have planets, and planets have satellites we call moons; but can a moon have its own satellite? And if it did, what would we call it?

In a paper currently up on pre-print resource arXiv, astronomers Juna Kollmeier of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Sean Raymond of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux have called them submoons.

But other scientists are using the far more delightful term moonmoon, so that’s what we’re going to go for.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In La Futur Sera Chauve (The Bald Future) on Vimeo, Paul Cabon imagines how limited his life will be when he loses his hair.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 8/26/18 Pixels Of Unusual Size? I Don’t Think They Exist

(1) ALL SYSTEMS WIN. Martha Wells posted a Worldcon 76 report including her experiences at the Hugo Awards ceremony —

Then we got to novella, and I was extremely nervous. I felt like I had a strong chance and was hopeful, but it was still awesome to win. I managed to get up the stairs to the stage, give my speech without crying (After the Nebula Awards I didn’t want to be the author who cries all the time.) (I saved it all up for Monday, when every time anyone said anything nice to me, I would start crying.) Managed to get down the Stairs of Doom backstage with the help of about four people, got stopped to get a photo outside the auditorium in the reception area, went back in the wrong door and could not get it open and had to thump on it until the backstage people heard me, and then got back to my seat in time to see Nnedi Okorafor win for Best YA novel and N.K. Jemisin win for Best Novel!

And she has some Worldcon photos on her Tumblr.

(2) DIGBY IN ONE PLACE. The Golds reminded readers today about the extended electronic edition of Tom Digby’s amazing fanwriting that’s available online, “Along Fantasy Way”. Originally produced for the 1993 Worldcon where Tom was a guest of honor, the collection was expanded in its 2014 digital version. What a treasure trove of wonderfully creative idea-tripping. Delightful poetry, too – for example:

…OR MINERAL(2/07/76)

Pet rocks are OK, but some people prefer more variety.
The guy upstairs from me
Has a 1947 Chevrolet engine block.
I think his apartment is too small for it,
But there it is.
And the family down the street
With the goldfish pond in the yard
Has an old ship’s anchor
To keep the fish company.

But of all the inorganic pets in the neighborhood,
The happiest is an old beer can
Belonging to a small boy.
It would never win a prize at a show:
Too many dents
And spots of rust
And paint flaking off.
And besides, it’s a brand of beer
Most people don’t like.
But that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is FUN
Like afternoons when they go for a walk:
The can leaps joyously ahead
CLATTERDY RATTLEDY CLANG BANG!
Then lies quietly waiting for its master to catch up
Before leaping ahead again.
I may get a beer can myself some day.

But I still don’t think it’s right
To keep a 1947 Chevrolet engine block
Cooped up in such a small apartment.

The collection is illustrated by Phil and Kaja Foglio.

(3) ALL BRADBURY ALL THE TIME. A very nice set of Bradbury quotes at Blackwing666: “Ray Bradbury – Born August 22, 1920”

(4) GUNNED DOWN. You could see this coming. The Hollywood Reporter says “‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Production Put on Hold”. The studio still expects to make the movie later on.

Sources say that crewmembers, which is, at this stage, a small group that was prepping for preproduction, are being dismissed and are free to look for new work.

The Marvel project was originally to have been directed by James Gunn and was to have begun principal photography in the winter, either in January or February. The project was crewing up and was to have gone into full preproduction mode in the fall.

But Gunn was let go as the director in July when old tweets were resurfaced in response to his vocal political posts. While some held out hope that the director would be given a reprieve by Disney, a mid-August meeting with Disney chairman Alan Horn closed the door on that.

(5) LAST DAYS OF BANG ON EARTH. Big Bang Theory has started production of its final season.

Let What Culture tell you Why The Big Bang Theory Just Got Cancelled.

(6) HUGO STATISTIC. I don’t have time to check. Could be….

(7) HOW THEY STACK UP. Rocket Stack Rank’s Eric Wong writes:

With the recent release of the TOC for the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2018 (BASFF), I’ve updated RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F Anthologies article with the 20 stories in that anthology plus their honorable mentions.

The grand total from five 2017 “year’s best” SF/F anthologies is 114 stories by 91 authors, from which we can make the following observations:

o   Magazines: Asimov’s (12), Clarkesworld (9), Lightspeed (9)

o   Anthologies: Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities (3/7), Extrasolar(5/14), Infinity Wars (5/15)

o   Nancy Kress (3), Rich Larson (3), Robert Reed (3), Alastair Reynolds(3)

To see other outstanding stories that didn’t make it into the five “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, go to RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F article, which has also been updated with the BASFF stories for a total of 256 stories by 201 authors.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 26, 1953The War of the Worlds premiered. (“Welcome to California!”)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge]

  • Born August 26 — Katherine Johnson, 100. NASA mathematician and physicist awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama in 2015. Her work made space travel possible. And yes she’s African-American as well! (Makers has a post celebrating her birthday.)
  • Born August 26 — Barbara Ehrenreich, 77. Social activist and author of one genre novel, Kipper’s Game which gets compared to the works of Connie Willis.
  • Born August 26 — Stephen Fry, 61. Narrator, all of the Harry Potter audiobook recordings, Col. K. In the animated Dangermouse series and any number of other delightfully interesting genre related undertakings.
  • Born August 26 — Wanda De Jesus, 60. Genre work includes Robocop 2, SeaQuest 2032, Tales from The DarksideBabylon 5, and Ghosts of Mars
  • Born August 26 — Melissa McCarthy, 48. Now starring in The Happytime Murders which apparently is the first film from the adult division of Jim Henson Productions. Also Ghostbusters: Answer the Call.
  • Born August 26 — Chris Pine, 38. James T. Kirk in the current Trek film franchise; also Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman film franchise as well as A Wrinkle in Time and Rise Of The Guardians.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brevity shows some movie dinosaurs who keep comic back.

(11) SPACE ANNIVERSARY. JPL celebrates “15 Years in Space for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope”, an instrument that has far outlasted its predicted useful life.

Launched into a solar orbit on Aug. 25, 2003, Spitzer was the final of NASA’s four Great Observatories to reach space. The space telescope has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes. Spitzer assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.

 

(12) OH NO, WHERE CAN THE MATTER BE. Gizmodo reports “Scientists Will Soon Drop Antimatter to See How It Behaves in Gravity”.

In a new study, physicists attempted to find differences between matter and antimatter—confusingly, also a kind of matter, but with the opposite charge and other differences. It’s like an evil twin. Confusingly, the universe has way more matter than antimatter, for no clear reason. Physicists haven’t found the specific differences they were looking for when studying the antimatter version of hydrogen, called antihydrogen, but they have demonstrated a way to study antimatter better than ever before.

Mike Kennedy forwarded the link with the note, “It’s a complicated story, and mostly about recent measurements of the Lyman-? emission lines of anti-hydrogen… in particular it being the same wavelength as for hydrogen <http://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0435-1>. The bit about laser cooling anti-hydrogen and dropping it to observe how it reacts to gravity is IIUC speculative at this point.”

(13) MORE ON NEXT SHATNER RECORD. SYFY Wire brings us news that William Shatner is releasing a holiday album (“William Shatner teases Christmas cover record: Shatner Claus”):

Set phasers to jolly.

The legendary actor and musician William Shatner is giving us another reason to be excited about the holiday season. Shatner tweeted the Amazon link to pre-order his first upcoming record: Shatner Claus The Christmas Album. You can add the self-described godfather of dramatic musical interpretation’s album digital audio, CD, or vinyl in your letter to the North Pole. With vinyl record sales on the constant rise, it’s exciting to see if this will find Shatner Claus’ sleigh riding its way to the top of the Billboard charts.

(14) JURASSIC BLETCHLEY PARK. In “Dinosaur DNA clues unpicked by researchers at University of Kent”, scientists are theorizing-from-clues that dinosaur DNA, like birds’, had many chromosomes, making mix-and-match easier.

Researchers at the University of Kent say their work uncovers the genetic secret behind why dinosaurs came in such a variety of shapes and sizes.

This variation helped the creatures evolve quickly in response to a changing environment – helping them to dominate Earth for 180 million years.

But the researchers behind the DNA work say they have no plans to recreate dinosaurs, Jurassic Park style.

(15) FLAME OFF. BBC assures us, “Yes, Antarctica has a fire department”.

But fighting fires in freezing temperatures also calls for some specialist equipment.

Surprisingly, water is still an option. McMurdo’s fire engine has a pump, which cycles water constantly through the vehicle to prevent it from freezing.

Remembering to set the pump going is, says Branson, a lesson quickly learned.

“You do not want to be the person who freezes all the water in the fire engine. Then you’re stuck with a 500 gallon engine with an ice block in it… and nobody on base is going to like you.”

(16) BEARLY VISIBLE. BBC has video: “Bear roams ‘The Shining’ hotel in Colorado”. It’s a good thing Jack Nicholson didn’t try swinging an axe at this guest….

A bear was filmed going through the lobby of the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s classic horror novel in Colorado.

(17) YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. While excavating on YouTube, Carl Slaughter found Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965): “Frankenstein, ie, Frank the android, does battle with a Martian beast to prevent a Martian princess from replenishing Mars with voluptuous and sometimes bikini-clad Earth women.  The Pentagon monitors the situation and tries to lend Frank a hand.  Turns out Frank wears an Air Force uniform and holds military rank  – like Data.  This is in the so bad it’s good category.”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 6/20/18 Poltergoose

(1) SPFBO LONGLIST. Mark Lawrence rounded up 300 entries for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off in a very short time, and now has assigned 30 titles to each of his 10 participating review bloggers. See the longlist at “SPFBO 2018, Phase 1”.

(2) AMAZING STORIES REJECTS. Steve Davidson has denied a news story reported by Jason Sanford and linked in yesterday’s Scroll: “Amazing Stories and Rejections”. Here are excerpts from his explanation.

….It is entirely untrue that we are not notifying authors of rejections.

However, we understand why there may be some confusion on this matter.

The vast majority of our rejections take the form of an automated “status update” email to the submitter.  A story goes from draft to being read, to being rejected or accepted.  Submitters are notified both in an email and on their submissions account of any status changes that affect their submissions.

…Some people had issues on initial sign up, and some people are (now) complaining of  not receiving rejection notices.  Both the initial sign up issue and no receipt of rejections are a result of the user’s email server.  We’ve checked, double-checked and re-checked;  all status notices, all sign-up verifications, are being properly generated by the system and are being sent out.  Non-receipt has, in every case, turned out to be the result of an email server rejection.  Permissions are too picky, the user has not white listed the email address, etc.

Unfortunately, other than informing you of this situation, there is nothing that we can do on our end to correct this.

Our system is WordPress based.  That software platform hosts more than a third of all internet sites (and a large number of genre-related sites);  our system is therefore no more and no less “complicated” than any other WordPress based site you may be familiar with….

(3) SANFORD ANSWERS. Jason Sanford responded in a Twitter thread that begins here and includes these comments:

(4) FANS RALLY ROUND. ComicsBeat is calling attention to a “Crowdfunding campaign set up after writer Leah Moore suffers a brain injury”.

Leah Moore and her partner John Reppion have written some top notch comics for DC, Dynamite and many other publishers.

But now they are facing a huge challenge.

Moore suffered severe head trauma and brain injury while attending a music festival.

Andrew O’Neill set up a JustGiving appeal for “Leah and John”.

Leah and John are comic book writers, who usually scrape by on caffeine and stress while creating wonderful art. Recently, they have been beset by brutal circumstances – John recently lost his sister Dawn and Leah has sustained a severe and degenerative brain injury at Download (metal!) and has had an operation to remove a blood clot.

Needless to say, their already fragile and insecure method of putting food on the table for themselves and their three kids (two feral) is going to be impossible while Leah recovers and John looks after her.

As an artistic community and bunch of pals, let’s raise some money to help them through, (and then we can use our generosity later on as leverage for favours and cake).

The goal was to raise 2,500 UKP – they’ve already raised 11,142 UKP.

(5) MISSING THE MIND MELD. I’ve fallen behind in linking to one of my favorite features on the sff web: this installment of Mind Meld appeared in March — “Mind Meld: Books That Expand the Definition of Genre”, curated by Shana DuBois at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. The participants are Tristan Palmgren, Jeannette Ng, Patrice Sarath, Rebecca Kuang, Aliya Whiteley, Gareth L. Powell, Jasmine Gower.

The evolution of storytelling has followed us through the ages from fairy and folk tales to the vast variety of mediums now available to us.

As storytelling expands in unusual and innovative ways to keep pace with global conversations, what are some books you’re most excited about?

(6) HOLD ROBOTIC CONVERSATIONS ABOUT WESTWORLD. Adweek tells readers “You Can Now Explore the Depths of Westworld by Talking to Alexa”, “But only ‘true fans’ will make it all the way through.”

You can now explore the depths of Westworld from your living room, kitchen, bathroom, wherever—as long as you have your Amazon Echo nearby and within earshot. All you have to say is, “Alexa, open Westworld.”

Today, HBO announced the debut of its new Alexa skill, called Westworld: The Maze. It’s designed specifically for fans of the show to play on their various Amazon voice devices, just in time for the show’s upcoming Season 2 finale this Sunday. HBO partnered with agency 360i and Westworld production team Kilter Films on the project.

The Maze is a choose-your-own-adventure game with over 60 storylines, 400 possible choices for players to make and roughly two hours of game time in which Westworld fans can immerse themselves. Fans will recognize the voices of characters from the show, including Jeffrey Wright as Bernard and Angela Sarafyan as Clementine, as they dive into this mystical world.

 

(7) FRANKENBOOK. Arizona State University’s  Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager, Center for Science and the Imagination, and Assistant Director, Future Tense, sends word about a new project involving the Center, The MIT Press, and MIT Media Lab that marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein.

Frankenbook is a collective reading experience of the original 1818 text of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein. The project is hosted by Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, The MIT Press, and MIT Media Lab. It features annotations from over 80 experts in disciplines ranging from philosophy and literature to astrobiology and neuroscience; essays by scientists, ethicists, and science fiction authors Cory Doctorow and Elizabeth Bear; audio journalism; and original animations and interactives.

Readers can contribute their own text and rich-media annotations to the book and customize their reading experience by turning on and off a variety of themes that filter annotations by topic; themes range from literary history and political theory to health, technology, and equity and inclusion. Frankenbook is free to use, open to everyone, and built using the open-source PubPub platform for collaborative community publishing.

The project has already garnered attention from Boing Boing and Brain Pickings, and they’d love to have more participation in the project from the SF community.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 20, 1975 – Steven Spielberg’s Jaws premieres.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Kendall sends along a two-parter from Library Comic about Mount TBR – #412
    and #413.
  • Lise Andreasen found that Deflocked is not the comic you’re looking for. (And yet I’m linking to it anyway….)

(10) WAS THE EMPIRE DESTINED TO FAIL? In her Vox post “Solo reveals the weakness of the Star Wars Galactic Empire”, Amy Erica Smith lays out a detailed argument why Solo: A Star Wars Story shows up the Galactic Empire as a fatally weak state. WARNING: The whole story is basically one big spoiler.

Pop quiz: What’s missing in Solo?

Okay, there’s a long list: the opening crawl. R2-D2.

More importantly: the Emperor. Darth Vader. And 90 percent of the Stormtrooper presence of other movies.

That last item is the most telling indicator of the Galactic Empire’s glaring open secret — its extreme weakness. From a political science perspective, the movie Solo fills in a lot of holes in how we understand the Galactic Empire — the approximately 22-year regime between the dictator Sheev Palpatine’s consolidation of power as Emperor at the end of Episode III and his death at the hands of his second-in-command at the end of Episode VI.

What we learn from Solo is that the Galactic Empire is a very, very weak state. It’s so weak that it’s not much of a state at all. Don’t believe the Empire’s propagandists.

The detailed analysis —and a bunch of spoilers — follows from there.

(11) JOHN SCALZI ENDORSES FREEDOM. Well, of course. But it’s also the brand name of a technology Scalzi finds helpful for keeping him from frittering away his writing time.

…I end up checking news and social media sites more often than is useful, when what I really need to be doing is working on a book.

…It got to a point in the last couple of months that I had to accept the problem was me, and that I wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, so I had to take other steps. So I looked into “distraction free” software, i.e., those programs that block your access to Web sites and apps for a period of time so you have no choice but actually do the work you’re supposed to do. After comparison shopping, I went ahead and picked Freedom. Freedom works on a subscription model and can block sites and apps on your desktop and phone; it has pre-selected block lists you can choose from (including for news, social media, shopping and adult sites among others), and you can also create your own lists. Once you do that, you can set a time for how long you want to have the blocking run, up to 24 hours. You can also schedule blocks, to have them show up at the same time every day and etc.

…And it worked well — I’d check out Twitter almost by muscle memory and get confronted by a green screen that said things like “You are free from this site” and “Do things that matter,” which seemed a little snarky and pushy, but on the other hand, I was in fact trying to do something that mattered (finish my book), so. …It did what it was supposed to do, which was keep me on track and writing on the book.

(12) SFF FROM MADRID. Rachel Cordasco recommends a “New Collection by Cristina Jurado” at Speculative Fiction in Translation.

Nevsky Books will publish a new collection of stories by Spanish SF author and editor Cristina Jurado in July entitled Alphaland.

“From upgraded humans to individuals living among daydreams, from monsters to fantastic beings, these creatures populate a highly imaginative and evocative world, impregnated by an inspired sense of wonder. Draw near with care and enter Alphaland!”

Cristina Jurado (Madrid, 1972) is a bilingual writer and the editor of SuperSonic Magazine, a Spanish and English venue which has re-energized the Spanish speculative fiction scene….

(13) LONDON CALLING, MILWAUKEE ANSWERING. “Orange Mike” Lowrey is back on the BBC – this time on the BBC World Service programme Trending (June 17): “The Mysterious Wikipedia Editor”.

Who is “Philip Cross”? That’s the name on an account that has made more than 130,000 Wikipedia edits since 2004. But it’s not so much the volume of his work but his subject matter that has irritated anti-war politicians and journalists around the world. His detractors claim that he’s biased against them and that his influence has made some entries unreliable. It’s a charge that’s rejected by the foundation behind Wikipedia, but the person behind Philip Cross remains elusive. So what happened when we tried to track him down?

(14) OPEN THE POP3 PORTS PLEASE, HAL. This Gizmodo headline starts with the bad news and follows with the good news: “This Light-Up HAL 9000 USB Flash Drive Can’t Sing, But Probably Won’t Kill You Either”.

Master Replicas, makers of some of the finest lightsaber replicas in any galaxy, sadly closed its doors back in 2008. Last year, however, part of its original team opened Master Replicas Group, a new company that’s relaunching with a series of 2001: A Space Odyssey collectibles to start, including a flash drive based on one of Hollywood’s most terrifying villains.

You don’t have to be worried about this miniature HAL 9000 replica refusing to open an air lock for you, or listening in on private conversations by covertly reading your lips. This one-sixth scale replica of HAL 9000 has no smarts and no ill intentions, but it does recreate the computer’s glowing red eye whenever it’s plugged into your computer.

The Master Replicas Group product page shows a limited edition 32 gigabyte USB flash drive modeled on the “eye” from 2001’s HAL 9000 at $64.95, and a 16 gigabyte  version available for $24.95 where the product page makes no mention of this version being a limited edition.

(15) SPACE IN THE SIXTIES. The Russians and Americans are pushing the envelope at Galactic Journey: “[June 20, 1963] Crossing stars (the flights of Vostoks 5 and 6)”.

Gordo Cooper’s 22-orbit flight in Faith 7 afforded America a rare monopoly on space news during the month of May.  Now, a new Soviet spectacular has put the West in the shade and ushered in a new era of spaceflight.

(16) PICK UP THIS MESS. From now on, no more Pigs in Space, so to speak: “Astronauts eject UK-led space junk demo mission”.

A UK-led project to showcase methods to tackle space junk has just been pushed out of the International Space Station.

The RemoveDebris satellite was ejected a short while ago with the help of a robotic arm.

The 100kg craft, built in Guildford, has a net and a harpoon.

These are just two of the multiple ideas currently being considered to snare rogue hardware, some 7,500 tonnes of which is now said to be circling the planet.

This material – old rocket parts and broken fragments of spacecraft – poses a collision hazard to operational satellites that deliver important services, such as telecommunications.

(17) PREVIEW. BBC reports that “Stranger Things comic will explore the Upside Down”.

The first series, due for release in September, will focus on Will Byers and his time in an alternate dimension.

The character spends nearly all the first season in a mysterious place which his friends name the Upside Down – but his experience is barely seen.

 

(18) HULK DEPARTURE. Nick Schager, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story Hulk At 15:  How Ang Lee’s Distinctive Blockbuster Paved the Way for the Modern Marvel Cinematic Universe,” says that “Hulk taught Marvel to temper their movies’ thematic ambitions” by making all the MCU movies part of a large tapestry rather than highly individual films like Lee’s.

…In most respects, Marvel, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man, shunned the risks taken by Hulk, and thus Lee’s film now functions as ground zero for the creative decisions that have guided the past decade of MCU endeavors. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Lee’s storytelling approach, which seeks to duplicate the look and feel of a comic-book page. That’s felt in the fonts used for his opening credit sequence, and in his use of square and rectangular split-screens and transitions, all of which aim to duplicate the structure of a comic’s paneled layout. Segueing from shot to shot, and scene to scene, with digitized wipes and rotations, and employing extreme close-ups, iris devices, and other superimposed imagery — most thrillingly, a late freeze-frame of Josh Lucas’s villain in front of a massive explosion — Lee diligently echoes, at every turn, the very medium that first gave birth to heroes like the Hulk.

That method was never to be seen again in the MCU, which has consequently adhered to a far more conventional cinematographic schema that allows its various franchises to feel as if they’re complementary parts of a larger tapestry. Simply put — a movie universe doesn’t work if any individual entry is too eccentric to match its brethren….

(19) COMING SHORT FICTION. Mythic Delirium has acquired two new collections, Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss and The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff.  Mike Allen says both are scheduled for release in 2019.

Theodora Goss

In Snow White Learns Witchcraft, World Fantasy Award winner Theodora Goss retells and and recasts fairy tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimms, Hans Christian Andersen, and Oscar Wilde. In these stories and poems, sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious, always lyrical, Goss re-centers and empowers the women at the hearts of these timeless narratives, much as her acclaimed novel series, The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, does for the classics of Victorian supernatural literature.

With cover art by Ruth Sanderson and an introduction by Jane Yolen, Snow White Learns Witchcraft is currently scheduled for a February 2019 launch.

Barbara Krasnoff

In The History of Soul 2065, Nebula Award finalist Barbara Krasnoff has accomplished a stunning feat. This collection of interconnected short stories crosses many genres, spinning tales of sorcery, ghosts, time travel, virtual reality, alien contact, and epic, elemental confrontations between good and evil. The book also spans past and future generations, telling the heart-breaking and heart-warming histories of two Jewish immigrant families, one from Eastern Europe, one from Western Europe, whose lives are intricately, mysteriously intertwined.

The History of Soul 2065, with cover art commissioned from Paula Arwen Owen, is scheduled for a July 2019 release.

(20) STUCK TO THE SHELVES. Toys’R Us is trying to empty out its stores with a massive going out of business sale. WorldClassBullshitters found some things just aren’t going — “The Star Wars Toy Landfill Has Been Found!”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Mike Allen, Lise Andreasen, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 4/18/18 Wanna Bees Pulling Gees Through The Trees

(1) LUKE SKYRANTER. Movie Banter brings you “10 minutes of Mark Hamill being HONEST about The Last Jedi.

No matter what you think of the film and the way Luke Skywalker was portrayed, thank goodness Mark isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He is sincere and cares about the franchise as much as he cares about the fandom.

 

(2) THE BREW THAT IS TRUE. Inverse explains that “Ewoks Are Coffee Farmers According to Star Wars Canon”.

The upcoming Han Solo movie will, no doubt, make all sorts of changes to Star Wars canon, but a just-released book about Han and Lando’s adventures quietly revealed that Ewoks are actually renown coffee farmers. Yep, those cute little Imperial-killing teddy bears are responsible for the best cup of java you’ll find outside of Dex’s Diner.

The book, Last Shot: A Han and Lando Novel, came out earlier this week, and it follows the two coolest characters in the galaxy across three distinct time periods. In one of them, set after Return of the Jedi but well before The Force Awakens, baby Ben Solo kicks his dad in the face. Later in that scene, Han’s culinary droid, BX-778, brews up a mean cup of Endorian caf. (Coffee is called “caf” in the book because, well, that’s how Star Wars rolls).

(3) STURGEON ANALYSIS. At Rocket Stack Rank, Eric Wong’s analysis shows the Sturgeon Award nominees are highly correlated with other guides to outstanding short fiction: “Sturgeon Award Finalists Versus Other Top Stories of 2017”. Greg Hullender says:

Last year too, the Sturgeon Award Finalists were the most accurate guide to which stories would be broadly recommended (by serious reviewers, major anthologies, and prestigious awards). http://www.rocketstackrank.com/2018/01/2016-best-sff-short-fiction-guides.html

There’s definitely something special about this award. It should get more attention than it does.

(4) THESE POTATOES AIN’T GONNA PLANT THEMSELVES! Or will they? “All by Itself, the Humble Sweet Potato Colonized the World”.

Of all the plants that humanity has turned into crops, none is more puzzling than the sweet potato. Indigenous people of Central and South America grew it on farms for generations, and Europeans discovered it when Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean.

In the 18th century, however, Captain Cook stumbled across sweet potatoes again — over 4,000 miles away, on remote Polynesian islands. European explorers later found them elsewhere in the Pacific, from Hawaii to New Guinea.

The distribution of the plant baffled scientists. How could sweet potatoes arise from a wild ancestor and then wind up scattered across such a wide range? Was it possible that unknown explorers carried it from South America to countless Pacific islands?

An extensive analysis of sweet potato DNA, published on Thursday in Current Biology, comes to a controversial conclusion: Humans had nothing to do with it. The bulky sweet potato spread across the globe long before humans could have played a part — it’s a natural traveler.

Likewise, ArsTechnica says “Sweet potatoes may have reached Pacific Islands 100,000 years ahead of Polynesians.”

“This finding is likely to be controversial because it calls into question the alleged contacts between Polynesians and Americans in pre-European times,” Oxford University botanist Pablo Muñoz-Rodriguez, who led the study, told Ars Technica. “[The] sweet potato was the only remaining biological evidence of these contacts.”

Muñoz-Rodriguez and his team sampled DNA from 119 specimens of sweet potatoes and all of their wild relatives, including a sweet potato harvested in the Society Islands in 1769 by the Cook expedition. With those samples, Muñoz-Rodriguez and his colleagues built a phylogenetic tree: a family tree that shows evolutionary relationships among organisms based on the differences in their DNA. For plants, researchers often build two phylogenetic trees: one for the DNA stores in the nucleus of the plant’s cells and one for the chlorophyll-producing organelles called chloroplasts, which have their own DNA. Genetic material doesn’t always get passed on in the same way for both, so it’s sometimes useful to compare the two.

The team used the phylogenetic trees to estimate how long ago each branch of the tree split off from the others. It turned out that the Society Islands sweet potato hadn’t interbred with Central and South American lines for at least 111,500 years…

(5) TODAY’S JOB LOST TO ROBOTS. WIRED Magazine reports “A Robot Does the Impossible: Assembling an Ikea Chair Without Having a Meltdown”. I’m beginning to suspect Brian Aldiss wrote the wrong ending for “Who Can Replace A Man.”

Researchers report today in Science Robotics that they’ve used entirely off-the-shelf parts—two industrial robot arms with force sensors and a 3-D camera—to piece together one of those Stefan Ikea chairs we all had in college before it collapsed after two months of use. From planning to execution, it only took 20 minutes, compared to the human average of a lifetime of misery. It may all seem trivial, but this is in fact a big deal for robots, which struggle mightily to manipulate objects in a world built for human hands.

(6) ALL IN A DAY. Initially, Patrick Nielsen Hayden made his feelings clear about a new book coming out which has the same title as an Emma Bull novel. (Jump on the thread here.)

Later he apologized. (Thread begins here)

(7) DOG DUTY. The New York Times inquires: “Do You Know Which Dog Breeds Are in a Mutt? Scientists Want to Find Out”.

One of the favorite pastimes of dog people is guessing a mutt’s ancestry.

Is that scruffy little guy in the dog park a mix of Afghan hound and Catahoula leopard dog? Is the beast that bit someone really a pit bull, or a cocker spaniel-beagle potpourri? And how about your aunt’s yippy pillow on paws — Maltese/poodle/peke?

If you’re wondering about your own dog you can, of course, get a DNA test. But there’s a lot of open territory for that familiar figure in the canine world, the dog guesser. You know who I mean, they’re like dog whisperers, but louder.

Now all self-proclaimed experts have a chance to prove their mettle or meet their comeuppance. The MuttMix survey debuted on Monday. It is citizen science for people who are willing to be proven terribly wrong, a dog quiz that tests how good you are at figuring out what a mutt is made of.

The survey is being run by the Darwin’s Dogs program at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., a center for genome studies, and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Fellow dog guessers (yes, I confess) proceed at the risk of your exceedingly high self-regard….

(8) THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. Mary Shelley biopic opening in theaters May 25.

Starring: Elle Fanning, Maisie Williams, Bel Powley, Douglas Booth, Joanne Froggatt & Stephen Dillane She will forever be remembered as the writer who gave the world Frankenstein. But the real life story of Mary Shelley—and the creation of her immortal monster—is nearly as fantastical as her fiction. Raised by a renowned philosopher father (Stephen Dillane) in 18th-century London, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) is a teenage dreamer determined to make her mark on the world when she meets the dashing and brilliant poet Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth). So begins a torrid, bohemian love affair marked by both passion and personal tragedy that will transform Mary and fuel the writing of her Gothic masterwork. Imbued with the imaginative spirit of its heroine, Mary Shelley brings to life the world of a trailblazing woman who defied convention and channeled her innermost demons into a legend for the ages.

 

(9) NEXT ON HIS AGENDER. Jon Del Arroz, worried there might still be a few people he hasn’t alienated this week, announced he is “Coming Out As A Woman” [Internet Archive link] – which is to say, adopting a pseudonym.

After serious deliberations, I will be only submitting short fiction to professional markets from a new female pen name. I’ve come up with the name, I’ve got the email address, it’s ready to go. I will be, for all intents and purposes, a female author. It’s the only way to get ahead in the business, and the smart thing to do. I won’t be broadcasting the name here in case of any inadvertent discrimination, but I will keep you informed as to how reactions change based on having a female name. It’ll be interesting to say the least.

(10) PRELUDE TO SPACE. NPR tells about “Antarctic Veggies: Practice For Growing Plants On Other Planets”.

…Now, the greenhouse project, called EDEN ISS, is fully operational. Bamsey’s colleagues in Antarctica harvested their first salads last week.

And while growing greens in Antarctica is exciting — for much of the year there’s no fresh produce at Neumayer Station III — Bamsey says the end goal of this project is much farther away. EDEN ISS is a practice round for cultivating food in space.

The eight-nation team of EDEN ISS researchers chose to grow “high-water-content, pick-and-eat-plants,” Bamsey says, “things that can’t normally be stored for long periods of time.” The crops include lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, swiss chard, and herbs — basil, chives, cilantro and mint. One-tenth of the yield will become research data, while the rest will help feed Neumayer Station III’s crew….

(11) SPACE DIAMONDS. “Inter Jovem et Martem”? “Meteorite diamonds ‘came from lost planet'”.

A diamond-bearing space rock that exploded in Earth’s atmosphere in 2008 was part of a lost planet from the early Solar System, a study suggests.

The parent “proto-planet” would have existed billions of years ago before breaking up in a collision and was about as large as Mercury or Mars.

A team has published their results in the journal Nature Communications.

They argue that the pressures necessary to produce diamonds of this kind could only occur in planet of this size.

Using three different types of microscopy, the researchers characterised the mineral and chemical make-up of the diamond-bearing rocks. The fragments were scattered across the Nubian desert of northern Sudan after the asteroid 2008 TC3 exploded 37km above the ground on 7 October 2008.

(12) MUSICAL INTERLUDE. Another Instant Classic by Matthew Johnson:

Yub nub, yub nub, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive

Well you tell by the way I use my spear
I’m a murder bear, I got no fear
Speeder bikes and Empire goons, I’ve been kicked around
My forest moon
And now it’s all right, it’s OK
I’ve got stormtroopers to slay
And way above, I think I spy
A Death Star hangin’ in the sky

Whether you’re a Jedi or just a little yeti
You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Feel the walkers breakin’, this tree trunk is a-shakin’
And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive

Yub nub, yub nub, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Yub nub, yub nub, stayin’ alive

Well you might think I’m a teddy bear
My god’s a droid in a wooden chair
I may just have stone age tools
But I’m the end of those Empire fools
And now it’s all right, it’s OK
There’ll be some fireworks this day
And way above, I think I spy
A Death Star fallin’ from the sky

Yub nub, yub nub, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Yub nub, yub nub, stayin’ al-i-i-i-ve…

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day A.G. Carpenter, Ingvar and Cassy B.]

Pixel Scroll 3/17/18 Several Species Of Small Furry Filers Gathered Together In A Scroll And Grooving With A Pixel

(1) DISNEY EXTRACTS HAND FROM COOKIE JAR. Design Taxi reports “Disney Redesigns ‘Star Wars’ Posters After Getting Called Out For Plagiarism”.

Disney has unveiled a new set of posters for the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story after its previous artworks were called out by a French artist for plagiarism.

In this redesigned collection, Disney has amended the graphics whilst sticking to a similar color scheme.

Each character remains paired with a unique color. For instance, ‘Han’ is matched with an orange-red aesthetic, ‘Lando’ gets a blue hue, while ‘Q’ira’ receives a pink-purple scheme.

 

(2) SCRYING THE CRYSTAL CLARKE. Ian Mond takes his shot at predicting the Clarke Award shortlist in “Brief Thoughts on the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2018 Submissions List” at The Hysterical Hamster.

Mark Hepworth did the same in a comment here on File 770.

(3) MANO-A-MANO. Steven Barnes, while speculating about which characters will get killed off in the next Avengers movie, added an interesting cultural critique of the martial arts in Black Panther.

this is petty, and a trivial objection, but another missed opportunity was the battle between T’Challa and Killmonger during the ceremony. It relates to a complaint I had about Civil War (which I loved). This is from a life-long martial artist’s perspective, so I’m only partially serious. The problem is this: BP fought like everyone else in Civil War, and his technique looked very Asian. Korean in the kicks. Not what the Prince of Wakanda would use, because African arts are as lethal. But in BP, both T’Challa and Killmonger fought pretty much the same. I find it difficult to believe that Killmonger, never having been in Wakanda, would fight with techniques that look as if he had been trained by the same people who trained T’Challa. They could have had a fascinating clash of styles. But that is really nit-picking.

(4) PANTHER POLITICAL ANALYSIS. At Blog of the APA: In “Black Issues in Philosophy: A Conversation on The Black Panther”, Greg Doukas and Lewis Gordon discuss the politics and ethics of leading characters in the movie.

GREG DOUKAS: I am thoroughly perplexed by the reaction exhibited in some of my friends and colleagues, whose ideas I otherwise ordinarily agree with. The proposition they raise, and which I’ve been troubled by, is this: Over the duration of the film, our hero T’Challa [the Black Panther] makes a transformation from a nativist into a character representing a liberal politics of amelioration and liberalism more generally, while his nemesis Killmonger emerges as a distinctly Fanonian character in his own politics by presenting a radical critique of colonialism and racism. 

LEWIS GORDON: This is far from the case. First, Killmonger is not Fanonian. He is a tyrant. Fanon believed in radical democracy.  Wakanda is clearly a republic and possibly a constitutional monarchy in which each member of the society contributes as counsel and skilled citizen. It’s clearly a city-state or what in ancient Greek is called a polis, in which politeia (the thriving of citizens through activities cultivated by such a social space) is expected to occur. Killmonger is more like the case studies of colonial disorders in the later part of Fanon’s The Damned of the Earth. He is a tyrant because his relationship to everyone was asymmetrical, driven by resentment and hate, and his regard for life was nil. Think of how he killed his loyal girlfriend Linda and how he ultimately aimed to destroy or destabilize Wakanda—a functioning African state—with the now faddish Afropessimistic declaration of “burning it all down.”  His ego was such that he wanted to bar, through destruction of the special vibranium affected plant, the possibility of future Black Panthers emerging. Bear in mind also that T’Challa was not against fighting/violence. His point is that it should be used only when necessary, and he was doing so always on behalf of justice and a people in whose respect rested his legitimacy.  Killmonger didn’t care about respect from the people.  He also didn’t have respect for them. His “legitimacy” was like, say, Donald Trump’s: achieved purely from the strict adherence to the imperfect rules, though unlike Trump he actually defeated his opponent in fair combat. The people revolted against him not because he won the ritualistic battle but because his tyrannical rule defied the virtues the battle was to manifest. They fought against him in fidelity to the spirit of the rules.

(5) IMPRESSIVE. Rich Lynch actually came up with video of the Octavia Butler clue from Friday’s episode of game show Jeopardy! Click here: Jeopardy! Butler clue

(6) WHO AGAINST GUNS. Comics Beat updates readers: “Who Against Guns raises $16,000”.

We’ve been reporting on the fan-led effort known as Who Against Guns for several weeks now. Today, just over two weeks after the start of the campaign which launched February 26, organizers have announced that they’ve raised $16,000 for these gun violence prevention charities:  Community Justice Reform CoalitionMarch For Our Lives, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action.

(7) TOLKIEN’S DOG STORY. Middle-Earth Reflections takes up J.R.R. Tolkien’s Roverandom.

Originally Roverandom was conceived in 1925 when the Tolkiens — Ronald and Edith with their sons John, Michael and Christopher — went on a family holiday to Filey, Yorkshire. They rented a cottage with the view of the sea and the beach to spend a big part of September there. At that time the Tolkiens’ second boy Michael, who was about five years old, had a small, black-and-white toy dog. The boy  was extremely fond of it to the extent that he never parted with it. It was an unfortunate loss of that beloved toy during a walk on the beach one day and unavailing search for it that led Tolkien to make up a story about the dog’s adventures to explain its disappearance to the saddened boy.

In 1936, when The Hobbit was accepted for publication by Allen & Unwin, Tolkien was asked for more children’s stories, so he sent in Roverandom together with  Mr Bliss and Farmer Giles of Ham. However, Roverandom was not published then: in 1937 The Hobbit came out, proved a tremendous success and the publishers demanded more Hobbit stories from the author. It was only in 1998 that Rover’s tale finally saw the light of day.

Just like some other stories written by Tolkien, Roverandom began as something told to the amusement (or, in this case, consolation was the initial motive) of his own family. But as the story began to grow, it inevitably drew in more aspects of Tolkien’s background and interests. From a simple children’s story it established connections with Tolkien’s own Legendarium, Norse mythology, Arthurian legends, folklore, history and real events which took place at the time when the story was being created and written down.

(8) SPOILER WARNING. In Zhaoyun’s “Microreview [TV series]: The Frankenstein Chronicles” for Nerds of a Feather, the spoiler isn’t what you think.

It’s one of the longest-running gags in show business: cast Sean Bean in your TV series and there is an extremely high chance his character will perish by the end of season one. If in a movie, he’ll probably die heroically, indeed motivationally, spurring the surviving heroes on to greater successes; in TV series, his specter looms over the remainder of the show, meaning everything that happens from then on occurs in the shadow of his sacrifice (since he is usually innocent of any wrongdoing but is executed/killed anyway). So when I finally watched The Frankenstein Chronicles, I knew to expect a gruesome end for Bean’s “John Marlott” at the end of season one. I don’t even feel the need to issue a spoiler alert so far, because Sean Bean’s near-inevitable death early in projects is a truth universally acknowledged.

(9) TENTH ANNIVERSARY. Kasma editor Alex Korovessis offers 10 Years of SF as a free download:

10 Years of SF! is an anthology featuring some of the best stories I have had the privilege to publish over the past 10 years, since Kasma’s inception in 2009. It is available freely by clicking the appropriate button below.

(10) THE MORE THINGS CHANGE. A fan lamented:

In the few months I have been an active member of fandom, I have found knit into its fabric a conglomeration of ego, hate, progressiveness, overbearing acts, belligerence, perversities, totalitarianism, crack-pot ideas and every good and bad thing that goes to make up the outside world.

Today on Facebook? No, these are the words of Clarence “Sully” Roberds, an Illinois fan writing in November of 1939. Think about that the next time you read a complaint that fandom isn’t what it used to be.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian passes along Drabble’s stfnal St. Paddy’s joke.
  • And Bizarro’s tribute to the Sasquatch.

(12) 2019 HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS. Coffee break’s over – back to work!

Click to see Renay’s 2019 Hugo Sheet (at Google Docs).

(13) OFTEN IMITATED. Inverse celebrated the release of Forbidden Planet on March 15 in “62 Years Ago Today, the Template for All Sci-Fi Movies Was Born”.

Nearly every science fiction story you know and love today owes it all to one movie that came out in 1956, a film that set the standard for how sci-fi stories work for the modern audience. Franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek might have defined sci-fi for generations, but Fred McLeod Wilcox’s Forbidden Planet basically created sci-fi as we know it.

There’s even an opening scrawl with yellow text more than 20 years before the first Star Wars movie.

(14) BALLS. “Ikea Is Developing The Meatball Of The Future” – no, it’s not made from ground-up Billy bookcases.

Ikea is the largest furniture retailer in the world. But did you know that it’s also likely the largest meatball retailer in the world? Across its 340 stores worldwide, Ikea feeds people 2 million meatballs each day. Which is why Ikea’s high-concept Space10 lab is experimenting with a meatball of the future–one that uses zero actual meat. They call it the Neatball.

…The Space10 team is careful to clarify that none of these items are coming to market, but it’s interesting to see Ikea’s thought process on the future of food all the same. After all, Ikea has already given us a veggie version of its famous meatballs that people seem to like. And Space10 released meatball concepts not long ago that have since gone from art project to fully cooked concept here–because that’s what Space10 does: It prototypes the future for Ikea.

(15) AMAZON VS. CONSERVATIVES. Vox Day finds that Amazon’s alleged massacre of conservative authors’ book reviews is highly exaggerated [Internet Archive].

Of course, the mere fact that there is a closed alliance of authors with personal relationships who pay very close attention to reviews may explain at least a reasonable percentage of these deletions, given the terms of service. I checked out my reviews and it looks like ten or fewer reviews were deleted across all my various book listings. Not only that, but several of the reviews were one-star fake reviews, so two of my average ratings actually increased. This made me suspect that the deleted reviews were likely in open violation of Amazon’s terms of service, which Amanda Green’s investigation appears to have generally confirmed.

He also says in a comment:

Don’t get Clintonian. It’s not tricky at all. Are they family? Are they close friends? Did they work on your book?

If so, then don’t review their books.

That being said, I think Amazon would be well advised to limit reviews to Verified Purchases in addition to whatever conflict-of-interest limitations they see fitting.

Let’s face it, the world doesn’t need any more reviews on the lines of “I am so-and-so’s mother and I can’t believe he wrote a whole book! It’s really good!”

(16) COMICS RANT. The comics artist Colleen Doran went on an epic Twitter rant about “diversity hires.”

It implies things about race, it implies things about sex, it implies things about sexuality. And because I can’t read your mind, I don’t really know what “diversity hire” means to you. But I know what it means to me. So tread that ground with care.

Start the thread here —

(17) THE FORCE IS WITH THEM. Pacific Standard profiles “The Jedi Faithful”.

Disambiguating real-world practices from the traditions that the Star Wars franchise established is not so much a passing curiosity as one of the central reasons the group of Jedi has assembled here for the weekend. Belief in the Force here on Earth is ultimately simple enough, a matter of faith that requires no greater suspension of disbelief than praying to any other life-force or deity. However, the practical extension of that belief, as demonstrated in the Star Wars canon—namely, that one can use the Force to exert mental influence on the external world—poses a larger problem: The cosmos, absent green screens, doesn’t so easily succumb to the will.

And so, for those following the Gospel of Lucas, life can often seem a battle of approximations. Lightsabers here on Earth aren’t in fact shafts of light, but an alloy of plastic and LEDs. Jedi on Earth have downgraded telekinesis for noetic sciences and a belief that collective thought can influence external change. And, as their possession of DVD box sets, plastic lightsabers, and Star Wars kitsch indicates, they, unlike their fictional counterparts, haven’t quite subscribed to an ascetic’s denial of worldly attachments

(18) MAGIC SCHOOLS. L. Jagi Lamplighter says Superversive SF’s Fantastic Schools and Where to Find Them blog is “just a fun thing a couple of us are doing–covering magic schools and schooling in general. We are open to posts from anyone who writes about Magic Schools. It’s just a labor of love kind of thing. Nothing big. (Or anyone who has an opinion on either magic schools or schools in general.)”

She penned their most recent post: “Which Magic School Is For You: Roke”.

How many of you ever wished you could attend Roke? I bet many readers don’t even know what Roke is.

Once upon a time, in the long-ago dream time of the 1970s and 80s, there were three fantasy series everyone read: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, and Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea Trilogy. Everyone who read fantasy had read all three, and they were considered equally great.

I remember the day, some years ago now, when I realized that while Narnia and Lord of the Rings had made the grade, Earthsea had been basically forgotten. Many modern fantasy fans had never heard of the books. They didn’t even know that LeGuin had invented one of their favorite concepts: the magic school.

But Ursula Leguin’s magic school in Wizard of Earth Sea was the first time a fantasy writer thought “Gee, we see so many wizards in stories. Who trains them? Where do they go to school?”

And what she gave us was Roke.

(19) MUPPETS. Gwynne Watkins, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “Miss Piggy’s ‘a mess inside’: Frank Oz and puppeteer pals reveal Muppet secrets”, interviews several associates of Jim Henson who are promoting Frank Oz’s HBO documentary Muppet Guys Talking.

If I were thinking about, from a viewer’s perspective, which Muppet changed the most over time, I would say Miss Piggy

Oz: Yeah, probably so. But Piggy is a different situation. I’ve said this before: Her beginnings were in the women’s liberation movement, just by accident. And I don’t consciously change things, but the characters don’t interact with the world — I interact with my world. And I don’t interact in such a way where I say, “Oh, I’ve got to put that in my character.” I think because of the zeitgeist, it just kind of happens without me knowing it. But Piggy’s a little different. Piggy is such a mess inside, that I think as the years go on, she gets more and more emotional baggage. And that’s mainly why she changes. She keeps being rejected by the frog. She keeps trying and cannot do the things that she wants to, like tell jokes or dance. So I think she has this emotional baggage that hurts her more and more and more, and as a result she covers more and more and more. That’s what I think. 

[Thanks to JJ, Mark Hepworth, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, rcade, Cat Eldridge, David Doering, Carl Slaughter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]

Pixel Scroll 2/20/18 Not All Pixels Scroll Up In Value. Some May Scroll Down

(1) NEW DOCTOR WHO LOGO. Merchandise with the Thirteenth Doctor’s new logo is on sale starting today.

(2) MEDICAL MARVEL. Pat Cadigan reports some good news in her latest update: “I Have Cancer But Cancer Doesn’t Have Me”.

The level of cancer in my body has fallen again. The hormones I’m taking are still killing off cancer cells.

Today I saw a new members of my oncologist’s team. It was all I could do not to start dancing around her office. Although who knows—she might have danced with me. She looked amazed when she checked the results of my blood test.

On our way out, Chris and I ran into a few fellow-travellers who said they liked my lucky short—i.e., the one that says, I’m Making Cancer My Bitch. I love my lucky shirt.

(3) HEDGEHOG DAY. Daniel P. Dern has been keeping an eye on superhero TV and provided this update for the Scroll:

In last night’s Legends of Tomorrow (B-lister superheroes travelling through time and space to fix history hiccups usually using the Dr “House” method of first making things much much worse…) Season 3 Episode 11, ”Here I Go Again” — “Zari [not from our time period] finds her place on the team when she gets caught in a time loop that results in the Waverider blowing up over and over again.”

The fun part is that when she realizes what’s happening, she tries describing it, one of the from-our-time heroes says “OK, on the next cycle, find me and say, ‘Groundhog Day.'” (which, of course, on the first try, she instead says ‘Hedgehog Day.’)

(And another of the from-our-time heroes counters with a Star Trek time loop citation…)

Fun episode, marred only IMHO by (SPOILER ROT13ed) znxvat vg ghea bhg gb or n pbzchgre-vaqhprq plorefcnpr rkcrevrapr engure guna npghny Tebhaqubt Qnl ybbcvat. Cuhv.

(Just like bar bs gur yngre Beivyyr rcvfbqrf univat ~3/4 bs gur rcvfbqr erirnyrq gb or orra n “Jr’ir unq lbh va n ubybqrpx fpranevb sbe cflpubgurencl” znthssva, sru.)

Like one of the recent episodes of The Magicians (scrolled recently), it’s gratifying to see characters from our time period exhibit familiarity with sf pop culture enough to use them as information shortcuts.

(4) A TRUTH UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED. Robin Reid says, “I just finished John Kessel’s latest, Pride and Prometheus (Mary Bennett from Pride and Prejudice meets Victor Frankenstein and his Creature)” and recommends Liz Bourke’s review “Literary Fusion: Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel” at Tor.com.

There are three main points of view in Pride and Prometheus. The most interesting, by my lights, is Mary Bennett, younger sister of Elizabeth Bennett. Several years have passed since the end of Pride and Prejudice, and Mary has passed thirty years of age and is entering into spinsterhood. She has an interest in natural philosophy, especially fossils, and feels as though she should find a man to marry, but does not feel as though there is a man who will marry her. When she encounters Victor Frankenstein, a young man haunted by some secret of his past, she finds herself oddly compelled by his presence. Mary’s part of the narrative is told in the third person, unlike the other two narrators, who recount their parts of the story in the first person. This matches the approach of the original narratives.

(5) KEEP ON TRUCKING. Time to celebrate: “NASA’s Opportunity rover sees its 5,000th day on Mars”.

This weekend, NASA’s Opportunity rover spent its 5,000th day on Mars. While that is a feat in and of itself, it’s even more impressive when you consider that it was only planned to last 90 Martian days, or sols. Both Opportunity and its companion rover Spirit were launched towards Mars in 2003, landing on two different parts of the planet in January 2004. Neither were expected to make it through Mars’ harsh winter though, which lasts about twice as long as ours and is severely lacking in light, but NASA’s team discovered that pointing the rovers towards the north and towards the sun was enough to keep them powered through the winter. Further, making sure the rovers were on north-facing slopes each winter helped to keep them going for years longer than they were ever intended to function.

(6) HEROIC EFFORT. The Nielsen Haydens’ Making Light suffered a server problem and at the moment the latest post displayed is dated 2008. I wish them the best of luck and a complete return to the internet of all their text and comments.

(7) MORE GENRE FROM THE TOY FAIRE. See photos of toys hyped at the NYC Toy Fair at the link.

With new installments of Star Wars, Jurassic Worldand the Avengers headed our way this summer, movie fans have plenty to cheer about. The same goes for toy lovers, who can look forward to action figures, play sets, board games, and other playthings based on 2018’s biggest blockbusters and hottest television shows. Yahoo Entertainment spent the past weekend at New York City’s annual festival for toys, Toy Fair, where we got to see both the new and retro movie- and TV-related toys that everyone will be talking about this year. Scroll through the gallery and start getting your holiday wish lists ready now.

They include —

Lego ‘Star Wars’ Kessel Run Millennium Falcon

It took Han Solo only 12 parsecs to make his famous run through the Kessel Mines. See if you can lap that record as you assemble this 1,414-piece Lego Millennium Falcon, which comes complete with laser turrets and a Dejarik board

Ultimate Co-Pilot Chewie

It’s the Star Wars answer to Teddy Ruxpin: an interactive Chewbacca doll who talks, uh, growls on command and can also be rocked to sleep or tickled into a laughing fit. Warning: Kids might have to compete with their parents for cuddle time with this adorable Wookiee.

(8) APES AT 50. Mark Kermode talks about the 50th anniversary of Planet of the Apes release and wonders if Star Wars will look as good at the same age.

“Of course,” says IanP, “Star Wars isn’t growing old as gracefully with all its repeated facelifts …”

(9) ALMOST ERASED. Vulture interviews “The Man Who Made Black Panther Cool”:

Christopher Priest broke the color barrier at Marvel and reinvented a classic character. Why was he nearly written out of comics history?

“I’m an asshole. I’m abrasive. I am so sure that I’m right about virtually everything. I can sing you an aria of reasons to not like me,” says comics writer Christopher Priest, his bass voice rising to the brink of anger but never quite tipping over. “Not liking me because I’m black is so juvenile and immature, because there’s many reasons to not like me.” He’s speaking, as he often does, about the racism — both overt and structural — that he’s faced in the comics industry over his 40-year career. But that set of attributes, seen from another angle, can apply to the reasons to like him, or at least admire him — he’s unwaveringly outspoken, endearingly opinionated, as well as a pioneer in the comics industry. He’s also likely the only comics writer to have taken breaks from his career at various times to toil as a musician, pastor, and bus driver.

(10) NEBULA TOOL. Now that the Nebula finalists are out, Rocket Stack Rank has prepared an annotated version with links to the stories (where possible), synopses, reviews, etc. — “2017 Annotated Nebula Award Finalists”

Greg Hullender explains, “By sorting the list according to how many different sources of recommendation each one got, we make it easier to see where the Nebulas are acknowledging broadly popular stories and where the SFWA members have a unique perspective.”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 20, 1962  — Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 20,  1926 Richard Matheson (links to SyFy Wire’s commemorative article.)

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Daniel P. Dern got the Amazon reference in Grimmy.
  • Chip Hitchcock noticed something super about Arlo and Janis.

(14) A LITTLE MISTAKE. If either of us had actually gone to a copyediting school, I’d wonder if RedWombat and I graduated from the same one:

(15) INTERNET VISUALIZED. Looking back: “The Father Of The Internet Sees His Invention Reflected Back Through A ‘Black Mirror'” contrasts idealistic inventor Vint Cerf with William Gibson’s what-will-really-happen.

While Cerf and his colleagues were busy inventing, the young aspiring science fiction writer William Gibson was looking for a place to set his first novel. Gibson was living in Seattle, and he had friends who worked in the budding tech industry. They told him about computers and the Internet, “and I was sitting with a yellow legal pad trying to come up with trippy names for a new arena in which science fiction could be staged.”

The name Gibson came up with: cyberspace. And for a guy who had never seen it, he did a great job describing it in that 1984 book, Neuromancer: “A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.”

(16) GOODLIFE. The scum of the Earth has been around longer than they thought: “Origins of land plants pushed back in time”.

A seminal event in the Earth’s history – when plants appeared on land – may have happened 100 million years earlier than previously thought.

Land plants evolved from “pond scum” about 500 million years ago, according to new research.

These early moss-like plants greened the continents, creating habitats for land animals.

The study, based on analysing the genes of living plants, overturns theories based purely on fossil plant evidence.

“Land plants emerged on land half a billion years ago, tens of millions of years older than the fossil record alone suggests,” said study author, Dr Philip Donoghue of the department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.

(17) AFROFUTURISM. The Washington Post’s Sonia Rao, in the wake of Black Panther, gives an overview of Afrofuturism and discusses forthcoming Afrofuturist projects, including Janelle Monae’s new album Dirty Computer and a forthcoming TV production of Octavia Butler’s Dawn directed by Ava DuVernay.“The resurgence of Afrofuturism goes beyond ‘Black Panther,’ to Janelle Monáe, Jay-Z and more “.

Monáe released a trailer on Friday for “Dirty Computer,” a new album with an accompanying narrative film. The 30-second teaser, set to air ahead of some “Black Panther” showings, presents clips of a dystopian world set to guitar feedback and snapping fingers. Monáe’s co-star Tessa Thompson is abducted by a man dressed in military gear. We cut to the two embracing on a beach. Seconds later, Monáe lies on an examination table while someone strokes a mysterious tattoo on her arm.

“They drained us of our dirt, and all the things that made us special,” she narrates. “And then you were lost. Sleeping. And you didn’t remember anything at all.”

Monáe’s work has exhibited Afrofuturist influences for years — the Quietus, an online British magazine, proclaimed back in 2010 that she “brandishes the acetylene torch for radical Afrofuturism.” In her multi-album “Metropolis” saga, the singer’s alter ego, Cindi Mayweather, is a messianic android who was sent back in time to lead a protest movement against an oppressive regime.

 

(18) CORRECTING AN OMISSION. Yesterday’s Scroll quoted K. Tempest Bradford’s tweet contrasting her own fundraiser to JDA’s, but she didn’t get all the benefit from that she might have because the tweet didn’t link to her YouCaring page — “Send K. T. Bradford To Egypt! (For Research)”. She had reached $3,135 of her $5,000 goal, but earlier today a couple of large donations put her over the top. Congratulations!

(19) THE FRANCHISE. With six you get Sharknado Bloody Disguting has the details:

Not surprisingly, Sharknado 6 is coming this Summer, and the first plot details, along with an early piece of poster art, have come to us out of EFM today.

In the sixth installment…

“All is lost, or is it? Fin unlocks the time-traveling power of the SHARKNADOS in order to save the world and resurrect his family. In his quest, Fin fights Nazis, dinosaurs, knights, and even takes a ride on Noah’s Ark. This time, it’s not how to stop the sharknados, it’s when.”

Tara Reid, Ian Ziering and Cassie Scerbo return.

Sharknado 6 will premiere on July 25, 2018.

(20) BIG BANG’S BILLIONAIRE GUEST. Supposedly Sheldon has already met him: “Bill Gates to Guest Star on ‘The Big Bang Theory’ — But Remember When He Punched Sheldon in the Face?!”

Bill Gates is headed to The Big Bang Theory!

ET has learned that Gates will be guest starring as himself in an upcoming March episode of the hit CBS comedy. The famed Microsoft founder will be stopping by Penny’s work and when this news reaches Sheldon, Leonard and the rest of our geektastic gang, the guys do everything in their power for a chance to meet him.

But here’s a Big Bang fun fact for you: Sheldon has actually already met the infamous tech billionaire on the CBS comedy and let’s just say their first interaction did not go very well. In fact, Gates punched Sheldon in the face!

(21) SUGGESTION BOX. Here’s a fan video proposing the way to begin Jodie Whittaker’s first episode as Doctor Who.

There are many great stories, but none as great as this. This is the story of the girl who fell from the stars. And this is how it begins… Without the Tardis and without hope, the Doctor is sent plummeting towards the planet below. The Doctor must come to terms with her new body quickly and escape her incoming demise. Here is a concept scene I’ve created for the upcoming debut episode for the Thirteenth Doctor! Just a bit of fun really but actually turned relatively believable. I have this theory in my mind that the Tardis would materialise underneath the Doctor as she’s falling and catches her. I’ve tried to imagine this as best as possible in this video!

 

[Thanks to Dave Langford, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, IanP, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Daniel P. Dern, Alan Baumler, Robin A. Reid, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]