(1) GLORIOUS. Benford and Niven’s third and final book in their Bowl of Heaven series is out, and they’ll be doing a Powell’s Books Zoom event on June 30, 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.
Written by acclaimed, multi-award-winning authors, Gregory Benford (Timescape) and Larry Niven’s (Ringworld), GLORIOUS (Tor Books) concludes the Bowl of Heaven series praised by Booklist as “a solid adventure and entertaining speculation on the lives of alien creatures.”
In the journey that began with the New York Times bestseller, Bowl of Heaven and its sequel, Shipstar, audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. The alien civilization is far more advanced than our own, and difficult for our astronauts to comprehend. The astronauts must explore and document this brave, new, highly dangerous world, while also dealing with their own personal triumphs and conflicts — their loves and jealousies, joys and disappointments.
Benford and Niven are masters of the science fiction genre and a sci-fi power duo. Together they have combined their talents and expertise to create an unforgettable series for science-fiction fans everywhere.
(2) MY PRECIOUS. Michael Dirda’s resolve to get rid of some of his books has been sorely tried — as happens to so many of us — “By day, I’ve been trying to cull my book collection. But at night, eBay beckons” in the Washington Post.
… Alas, my plan to sort and cull my thousands of books — described last week in my Zippy Shell column — failed to make allowance for human nature. For even as I was straining my back by carrying boxes up the stairs to donate or sell to the noble used book dealers of Washington, come bedtime I would go online to take a quick peek at the current offerings from L.W. Currey, John W. Knott, Richard Dalby’s Library, Type Punch Matrix, Wonder Book and Video or Capitol Hill Books. It didn’t matter that I ached like a stevedore at the end of a double shift. During daylight hours, the world applauded a crusading Dr. Jekyll energetically focused on discarding and recycling printed matter, but once night fell Mr. Hyde would emerge and, while fiendishly cackling, type arcane titles into the search engines of viaLibri, eBay and Addall. Typically, when a friend recently recommended H.B. Marriott Watson’s “The Adventurers” (1898), there was suddenly nothing I wanted more in the world than a copy of this forgotten piece of swashbuckling Victoriana….
(3) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. UK publication Infinity Magazine subsequently deleted the public post screencapped below.
(4) GENESIS. Although Mark Lawrence takes J.K. Rowling and Ursula Le Guin as texts, more than anything his post “Influence” is a warning to readers who want to infer the source of a writer’s ideas based on similarities to other works.
One of the questions I’m most often asked in the gazillion blog interviews I’ve done is (second only to “Where do you get your ideas?“):
What are your influences?
It’s a question I’ve always had difficulty answering and am saved from mainly by being able to point at two very clear influences for my first two trilogies.
Let’s note that influence comes in many forms, not least: writing style, characters, ideas/topics, and book structure.
(5) COMING IN 2021. HBO Max dropped this sneak peek at Zack Snyder’s Justice League today.
(6) WE WON? The BBC reports “Six movies resuming production after coronavirus”; 5 are genre.
While lockdown may have provided us with the chance to catch up on some old movies, there’s only so many you can watch before you crave something new.
Well, fear not, because around the world some of the big-hitters are starting to re-commence production – which was of course halted by Covid-19 – in a variety of socially-distanced ways.
Here are just six of the films to keep your fingers crossed for then in 2021, when the cinemas are hopefully back in business.
The long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster was able to re-start filming in New Zealand this week, because the country is almost coronavirus free.
Cameron and producer Jon Landau told the press Down Under that part two of the planned five-part film series; rumoured to be called The Way of Water (oh yeah, it’s set under water this time, by the way) would bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars back into the country following the pandemic.
Landau shared a photo on Instagram earlier this week as the production got under way.
It will also bring some more big names including Kate Winslet and Vin Diesel to add to returning original stars Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington.
Avatar 2, which is intended to work as a standalone feature (you won’t need to have seen the first one, in other words), will focus on the children of Sully and Neytiri, who are by now leaders of their clan.
The film is now slated for a December 2021 release, with film five in the diary already for 2027 – for those of you who like to plan ahead.
(7) CLOCKING IN. The Root spreads the word: “Tick Tock: Watchmen Will Be Free on HBO for a Few Days Starting on Juneteenth—You Must Watch It”.
…But, you only have a limited time—This offer will only be available Friday June 19 through Sunday June 21. You have 3 days to watch the debut season, which is a total of 9 episodes. Since everyone should be binging experts by now, that’s light work!
…In addition to its groundbreaking portrayal of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Watchmen is a must-watch due to its timely thesis on white supremacy. In fact, it’s worth a revisit or two to truly reflect on its themes in a critical way. I certainly plan to revisit it.
So go ahead and watch Watchmen and discuss the episodes thoroughly. View the show for free online via HBO.com and via On Demand.
(8) HEAR FROM HUGO FINALISTS. Saturday’s episode of Essence of Wonder will have the “Hugo finalists for Short Story and Editors”. June 20 at 3p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.
Nibedita Sen, Fran Wilde, Alix E. Harrow, SL Huang, and Shiv Ramdas will join Karen Castelletti to discuss their nominations for Best Short Story.
That panel will be followed by “A Mini Show With Lior Manor, Mentalist.”
Then, at 4:40p.m. Eastern will follow a “Panel Discussion With Hugo Awards Finalists in the Best Editor Short Form Category” —
Ellen Datlow, Lynne Thomas, Neil Clarke, Lynne M Thomas, and Michael Thomas will join Gadi to discuss their nomination and work.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
- June 1971 — Larry Niven’s All the Myriad Ways, his third collection, was published by Ballantine Books. Costing $.95 and having 181 pages, it included a number of stories of interest such as the first Gil the ARM story, “The Jigsaw Man”, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” and “What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?“. It is currently available from all the usual digital suspects.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born June 18, 1862 – Carolyn Wells. A hundred seventy books, many for children, many more mystery fiction, also poetry, plays.For us, Folly in Fairyland – reprinted 2016 – no, not that, “Folly” is a nickname for Florinda; anyway, see here. And here is A-L of her Animal Alphabet; when you look at the rest of this Ink-Slinger’s Profile you’ll recognize Mark Twain, but you should know Skippy was a popular 1923-1945 comic strip. There’s more, but I’ll stop now. (Died 1942) [JH]
- Born June 18, 1889 – Elisabeth Holding. More mystery fiction; no less than Tony Boucher applauded its “subtlety, realistic conviction, incredible economy”. For us, he praised Miss Kelly too, about a cat who learns to speak with humans: “one of those too-rare juvenile fantasies with delightful appeal to the adult connoisseur.” We can also claim three shorter stories, translated into Dutch, French, Italian. (Died 1955) [JH]
- Born June 18, 1908 — Bud Collyer. So far as genre is concerned, he’s best-remembered from radio, starring in the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman beginning in early 1940 on The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Broadcasting System, a role he also would do in the later Superman and other cartoons such as Aquaman and the Batman/Superman Hour. He was posthumously named as one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company’s 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great. (Died 1969.) (CE)
- Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles, one of which — playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur — I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen. The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes, heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated The Hobbit. (Died 1981.) (CE)
- Born June 18, 1926 – Allan Sandage, Ph.D. Important next-door neighbor: an astronomer, possibly a great one. Regarded for thirty years as the pre-eminent observational cosmologist. Published two atlases of galaxies; five hundred papers. Warner, Crafoord, Gruber Prizes; Eddington, Cresson, Bruce Medals; Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. See here. (Died 2010) [JH]
- Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.) (CE)
- Born June 18, 1942 — Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as Kipple, Parsection and Psi-Phi. In university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Mike has much to say about him here. (Died 2013.) (CE)
- Born June 18, 1942 – Redmond Simonsen. Game designer; indeed credited with coining that phrase, and “physical system design”. Founding editor of Ares magazine. Charles Roberts Awards Hall of Fame. King of Clubs in Flying Buffalo’s 2008 Origins Poker Deck. (Died 2005) [JH]
- Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 73. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best-known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performance was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode”. (CE)
- Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 71. For some twenty years now, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad has ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate. It always sells out for the entire month. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin — highly recommended. (CE)
- Born June 18, 1951 – Vivian Vande Velde 69. Fiction for children and young adults. Two dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories. Edgar Award for Never Trust a Dead Man, also School Library Journal Book of the Year. Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize. Paterson Prize. “When our daughter was born, I quit my job…. Since I was home all day, I had to either take housework more seriously or come up with a good excuse why I couldn’t…. Writing turned out to be harder work than I thought…. getting published was even harder…. 32 different publishers … before number 33 said yes.” [JH]
- Born June 18, 1971 – Sarah Hines Stephens 49. Two Wonder Woman stories, here’s one; two about a girl (I mean really a girl, she’s in 6th Grade) whose study of insects grosses out her friends, but then invaders invade and she develops insectile powers (not all insects are bugs, but I can’t help that, the title wouldn’t have been as cool if it had been Bugged Girl); four dozen in all, some with co-authors, some re-tellings, some non-fiction. [JH]
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Dennis the Menace with a rare genre reference, and funny, too.
(12) TERRAN PRIZE. George R.R. Martin announced that Maurice Haeems will receive the scholarship he funds to bring a writer to the Taos Toolbox: “Haeems Wins Terran Prize”.
…With that in mind, back in 2018 I established THE TERRAN PRIZE, to bring an aspiring SF writer from abroad to the Taos Toolbox, the graduate level writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams runs every summer in the mountains of northern New Mexico. The Prize is given annually and covers all tuition and fees to the Toolbox (but not travel).
…Maurice was born in Mumbai and has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Over the last 30 years, he has lived in Mumbai, London, Hong Kong, Taipei, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dubai while pursuing professional careers in mechanical engineering, investment banking, and software entrepreneurship.
(13) WILL THIS CHOPPER GET IN THE AIR? In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport discusses the Mars mission to be launched in July and how the Mars rover Perseverance has a helicopter attached, nicknamed “Ingenuity,” which will be the first aircraft to flit on another planet. “NASA rushing to complete Mars launch before planet moves out of range. Mission to include first-ever helicopter exploration.”
… In addition to probing for signs of ancient life on and below the Martian surface, the Perseverance mission would also take to the skies. The Ingenuity helicopter would attempt to fly — an exceedingly difficult task given that the “atmosphere on Mars is only one percent the density that we have here on Earth,” Wallace said. “Trying to control a system like this under those conditions is not easy.”
NASA said it hopes to get at least three flights from the helicopter, but it stressed that it was purely a technology demonstration mission and that it would take each one as they come.
(14) DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT. Count on Jon Del Arroz to bring you yesterday’s 770 content today!
(15) HALLOWEEN TREE. But here’s today’s Bradbury news, via Deadline:“Ray Bradbury’s ‘The Halloween Tree’ In The Works As Movie At Warner Bros With Will Dunn Adapting”.
…Bradbury wrote and narrated Hanna-Barbera’s 1993 feature-length animated version of the novel for television, for which he won the 1994 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program.
(16) NOT-QUITE-THE-NEXT-GENERATION. On the other hand, here’s some much older Roddenberry news — JDA might like that even better! From TrekMovie in 2018: “Unearthed: Pre-Roddenberry ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Pitch Was A Wildly Different Show”.
…The 8-page concept pitch, entitled “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” was conceived by producer Greg Strangis (War of the Worlds, Falcon Crest) over the summer of 1986 and is set during a 10-year war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It tells the story of the U.S.S. Odyssey, a ship ferrying a group of cadets on their first deep space assignment and tasked with delivering a document to Organia that could ultimately change the course of the war.
While some of the ideas in this concept can be seen in what ultimately became Star Trek: The Next Generation (such as a young Klingon officer as part of the crew), this original pitch bears little resemblance to the show that went on to have seven successful seasons. One of the more creative ideas was how the original captain dies in the pilot, but “continues to ‘live’ in the ship’s computer” as a hologram who can be summoned for advice….
So would this character have turned into the Emergency Holographic Captain?
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, Jeffrey Smith, Will R., Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Steve Wagner, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]