(1) DUBLIN 2019 PARAPHERNALIA. A Filers shows what she received upon checking in at the Worldcon:
(2) DUELING SFF. Crooked Timber takes Fred Hoyle’s novel “Ossian’s Ride” as the jumping-off point for a discussion of modern Ireland.
…Hoyle was really responding to the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, who regularly denounced Hoyle as a secular atheist on radio and had written his own science fiction novel, That Hideous Strength, a decade before. The villain of Lewis’s book was a sinister institute called NICE, which Satanic aliens wanted to impose contraception, lesbianism, secularism and surrealist art on an unsuspecting Britain. Lewis wanted to preserve old Britain against the filthy tide of modernity.
Hoyle riposted with a novel where rational and benevolently ruthless aliens used an organization called ICE to pull the priest ridden republic next door into the technological age. His satirical portrait of Ireland told British readers that the world was being transformed around them, and that even their most backwards seeming neighbor would outstrip them if they didn’t embrace modernity.
The irony of history is that Hoyle’s parody is now the truth….
(3) THEY’RE SMOKIN’. NASA’s Universe Unplugged teaches about exoplanets with the help of a couple of familiar actors: “The Habitable Zone: Scorched Earth Enigma”. If you like it, there are several previous installments in the series.
This new episode follows explorers Cas Anvar & Cara Gee (“The Expanse”) into a planetary danger zone in their quest for another Earth. Can their computer (Parry Shen of “General Hospital”) save them from a nasty fate?
(4) SCORING SHORT FICTION. Rocket Stack Rank’s monthly ratings for August 2019 have been posted with 10 RSR-recommended stories out of 45 reviewed.
Here are some quick observations from pivoting the list on story length, new writers, and authors. (Click links to see the different views.)
- Length: 4 novellas (2 recommended), 11 novelettes (4 recommended, 3 free online), 30 short stories (4 recommended, 1 free online).
- New Writers: 4 stories by Campbell-eligible writers (none recommended).
- Authors: 45 writers, none with more than one story in the list this month.
(5) SPIDER-GWEN. “Seanan McGuire talks Spider-Gwen’s name change, evil Peter Parker, and representation in the Spider-Verse” in an interview at AiPT!
AiPT!: Gwen has really blown up in the time since you have started writing her, too, with Into The Spider-Verse‘s massive success and Oscar win. Did you see the movie? Did it impact how you felt about the character or how you might approach her at all?
McGuire: I hadn’t seen the movie when I got the job, and I chose not to after I got the job, because that’s a different version of Gwen. I didn’t want her seeping in where she didn’t belong. But wow, is it nice seeing all the cosplayers. I keep wanting to tell them “You’re dressed as my girl!” and have to hold myself back from getting creepy.
AiPT!: What do you think sets Gwen apart from Peter or Miles or any of the other Spiders?
McGuire: Death loves Gwen Stacy. She lacks the “with great power…” motivator; hers is “only the right hands.” She has a calling, but it’s not the same as the calling most of the others have shared. She’s also better on the drums than they are.
(6) SF DIDN’T FORESEE THIS EITHER. A lot of stories involve faking just one but “Biostar security software ‘leaked a million fingerprints'” – BBC has the story.
More than a million fingerprints and other sensitive data have been exposed online by a biometric security firm, researchers say.
Researchers working with cyber-security firm VPNMentor say they accessed data from a security tool called Biostar 2.
It is used by thousands of companies worldwide, including the UK’s Metropolitan Police, to control access to specific parts of secure facilities.
Suprema, the firm that offers Biostar 2, said it was addressing the issue.
“If there has been any definite threat on our products and/or services, we will take immediate actions and make appropriate announcements to protect our customers’ valuable businesses and assets,” a company spokesman told the Guardian.
According to VPNMentor, the exposed data, discovered on 5 August, was made private on 13 August.
It is not clear how long it was accessible.
(7) STICK A FORK IN IT. SYFY WIRE says this series is done: “Star Wars Resistance will end with Season 2: Watch the new trailer featuring Kylo Ren”
The journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker makes a stop on the Disney Channel this October. Lucasfilm has announced that the upcoming second season of Star Wars Resistance will be its last, and we now have our first trailer.
Taking place during the events of The Last Jedi, and leading up to The Rise of Skywalker, Season 2 finds our Resistance characters still on the run from the First Order, much like their movie counterparts. But now Supreme Leader Kylo Ren is seemingly taking a hands-on approach in their capture. […]
Check out the new trailer below for a preview of what’s to come:
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 14, 1910 — Herta Herzog. At the Radio Project, she was part of the team of that conducted the groundbreaking research on Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds in the study The Invasion from Mars. The Radio Research Project was founded in 1937 as a social research project and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to look into the effects of mass media on society. (Died 2010.)
- Born August 14, 1929 — Richard Carpenter. Responsible for the simply superb Robin of Sherwood series. He also created Catweazle, the children’s series about an unfortunate wizard from the 11th century who is accidentally transported to the present day. And he was an actor who appeared in such shows as the Sixties Sherlock Holmes series, The Terrornauts film and the Out of the Unknown series as well. (Died 2012.)
- Born August 14, 1932 — Lee Hoffman. In the early Fifties, she edited and published the Quandry fanzine. At the same time, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly which appeared regularly until ‘til 2006. The latter won the fanzine Hugo after her death. She wrote four novels and a handful of short fiction, none of which are in-print. (Died 2007.)
- Born August 14, 1940 — Alexei Panshin, 79. He has written multiple critical works along with several novels, including the Nebula Award-winning Rite of Passage and the Hugo Award-winning study of SF, The World Beyond the Hill which he co-wrote with his wife, Cory Panshin. He also wrote the first serious study of Heinlein, Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis.
- Born August 14, 1953 — James Roy Horner. Composer, conductor and orchestrator of film scores whose work on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is what he’s best remembered for. He also worked on Avatar, Alien, Field of Dreams and Cocoon. (Died 2015.)
- Born August 14, 1962 — Tim Earls, 57. Set designer who stated out at Babylonian Productions on Babylon 5 and Crusade. Later worked on the Voyager seriesandBrannon Braga’s short-lived Threshold series as well. Designed sets for the Serenity film, and worked on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
- Born August 14, 1965 — Brannon Braga, 54. Writer, producer and creator for the Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, as well as on the Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact films. He has written more episodes than anyone else has with one hundred and nine to date. He was responsible for the Next Gen series finale “All Good Things…” which won him a Hugo Award for excellence in SF writing, along with Ronald D. Moore. He’s one of the producers of The Orville.
- Born August 14, 1966 — Halle Berry, 53. Her first genre was Sharon Stone in The Flintstones followed by being Storm in the X- Men franchiseand Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day, the twentieth Bond film. She then shows up as the deservedly much maligned lead in Catwoman. She has myriad roles in Cloud Atlas.
(9) JUST WONDERING. The tour of Christ Church Cathedral left certain questions unanswered:
(10) I’M STILL MAD. Retro Report has a mini-documentary on Al Jaffee, memorable for his contributions to Mad Magazine – particularly his “fold-in” work — “Legendary Cartoonist Al Jaffee Recalls Comic Book Censorship”.
(11) TUMBLR’S NEW LANDLORD. Vox speculates that “WordPress could give Tumblr the thing it needs most: stability”.
Automattic, the company behind the longstanding blog platform WordPress, just bought Tumblr from Verizon for a pittance — leaving many of the quirky, beloved social network’s users wondering what comes next.
Axios reported that Automattic purchased Tumblr, which launched in 2007, for “well below” $20 million; Axios business editor Dan Primack added in a tweet that the sale price was in fact below $3 million, and Recode’s Peter Kafka tells Vox that sources say the actual figure is closer to $2 million. That’s a very long way down from Yahoo’s infamous $1.1 billion purchase of the website in 2013. (Verizon subsumed Tumblr when it acquired Yahoo in 2017.)
… At the time that the Yahoo purchase of Tumblr from its CEO and founder David Karp was completed, it was clear that the ancient internet company was looking for something to revitalize it. Cue a community awash in GIFs, memes, fandom, and all other manners of contemporary online culture — a seemingly perfect answer to Yahoo’s question of how to combat its near-irrelevance. But reports soon began to emerge that Tumblr was floundering financially, as Yahoo tried and failed to wrangle the freewheeling blogging platform into a profitable, advertising-friendly brand….
(12) MONSTROUS ISSUES. A Noise Within theater in Pasadena, CA is producing Nick Dear’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Dissect the story of Frankenstein with director Michael Michetti, as well as Michael Manuel (The Creature) and Kasey Mahaffy (Victor Frankenstein), as they talk about the characters of Mary Shelley’s most famous novel.
“The Creature represents anyone who feels like they have been disenfranchised… It’s a really compelling human story that people connect to in a way that is surprising to them.”
(13) THE FAILURE MODE OF CLEVER. Facebook gave Larry Correia a 24-hour time-out. Larry wants you to know how silly it was.
- “ANOTHER EXAMPLE WHY FACEBOOK IS SUPER DUMB” [Internet Archive link]
So I just got a 24 hour ban from Facebook for Violating Community Standards, because I insulted the imaginary people of an imaginary country….
- “WHY FACEBOOK IS SUPER DUMB PART II – THE FREEDOMING” [Internet Archive link]
My 24 hour Facebook ban is over. Luckily Big Brother was there to protect us from such dangerous violations of community standards as pretending to be one imaginary country while talking trash about another completely imaginary country….
(14) THE MAN WHO TRAVELED IN CAT PICTURES. BBC includes lots of pictures – just none with books: “Purrfect shots: The man who took 90,000 photos of cats”.
Long before cats ruled the internet, marketing student Walter Chandoha became a pioneer of feline photography. Not only did Chandoha’s images appear on over 300 magazine covers and thousands of adverts, he elevated feline portraiture to an art form.
In New York in 1949 young marketing student Walter Chandoha found a stray kitten in the snow. Tucking the cat into his coat, he brought it home to his wife. The cat’s wild antics earned it the name Loco, and Chandoha, who had been a combat photographer during the Second World War, began to take pictures of his new subject.
Rather than get a job in marketing Chandoha turned to freelance photography. He considered cats ideal subjects because they were “just naturally expressive”. His images of cats appeared on advertisements, greetings cards, jigsaw puzzles, T-shirts, posters, calendars and pet food packages. They even featured on the giant 18×60-foot Kodak Colorama display in New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
His images combine a genuine affection for the animals with flawless technique. They range from colour studio photography to black and white street photography, images from vintage cat shows and tender pictures of his children with cats.
He published several books, including Walter Chandoha’s Book of Kittens and Cats (1963) and the seminal text How to Shoot and Sell Animal Photos (1986). Before his death in January 2019 at the age of 98, Chandoha had been working on a retrospective book of 300 of his cat photographs.
(15) SIDE GIG. He doesn’t let his day job interfere with his show biz aspirations: “Astronaut Luca Parmitano plays DJ set from International Space Station” (short video).
Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano has become the first DJ in orbit, after playing a set from the International Space Station to a cruise ship of clubbers in the Mediterranean Sea.
(16) POWER TO BURN. NPR reports “U.S. Air Regulators Ban MacBook Pros With Recalled Batteries From Flights”.
“The FAA is aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops. In early July, we alerted airlines about the recall, and we informed the public,” the FAA said in an emailed statement.
“We issued reminders to continue to follow instructions about recalls outlined in the 2016 FAA Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 16011, and provided information provided to the public on FAA’s Packsafe website: https://www.faa.gov/hazmat/packsafe/,” it added.
Apple announced in June “a voluntary recall of a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units which contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk.”
The laptops were sold between September 2015 and February 2017 and can be identified by their product serial number, according to the company’s notice: https://support.apple.com/15-inch-macbook-pro-battery-recall
(17) THEY’RE EVERYWHERE. Don’t inhale: “Plastic particles falling out of sky with snow in Arctic”.
Even in the Arctic, microscopic particles of plastic are falling out of the sky with snow, a study has found.
The scientists said they were shocked by the sheer number of particles they found: more than 10,000 of them per litre in the Arctic.
It means that even there, people are likely to be breathing in microplastics from the air – though the health implications remain unclear.
The region is often seen as one of the world’s last pristine environments.
A German-Swiss team of researchers has published the work in the journal Science Advances.
The scientists also found rubber particles and fibres in the snow
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Date With Duke –1947” on Vimeo is a George Pal Puppetoon, restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, featuring Duke Ellington performing the “Perfume Suite.”
[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Eric Wong, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Rich Lynch, Chip Hitchcock, Alan Baumler, Michael Toman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]