Pixel Scroll 10/19/19 Scrollgar, Do We Have Pixel Sign?

(1) GALAXY QUEST. See the trailer for Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary, which will be distributed through Fathom Events.

By all accounts, it was a movie that beat all odds: Surviving a set fire, the loss of a powerful director, and a studio that didn’t understand what it had, “Galaxy Quest” turned into a pop-culture phenomenon that would “never give up, never surrender.” As the cult classic nears its 20th anniversary – premiering on December 25, 1999 – “Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary” explores how the science-fiction comedy became an enduring fan favorite, a movie that helped launch the sci-fi- and fantasy-driven movie and TV industry that dominates global entertainment today.

(2) WILL THIS THREAT ACTUALLY WORK? It would be interesting to know the terms of the original gift, and whether a Weisinger descendant can revoke it: “University may lose Superman papers over Liz Cheney comments”.

The University of Wyoming could lose the papers of a longtime “Superman” comic book editor after his son took offense to comments by Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports Hank Weisinger contacted the university’s American Heritage Center Tuesday demanding the return of the collected papers of Mort Weisinger.

The elder Weisinger spent three decades as the story editor of the “Superman” series published by DC Comics Inc.

Hank Weisinger says his action was prompted by comments the Wyoming Republican representative made Monday placing blame for Turkey’s Oct. 9 invasion of Syria on presidential impeachment proceedings by Democrats.

Weisinger says he does not want his father’s papers at a university represented by a member of Congress he perceives as opposing Superman’s values of “truth, justice and the American way.”

The University of Wyoming’s Comic Book Industry holdings include the Mort Weisinger Papers which cover his work on Superman and other publications:

Collection contains materials relating to Weisinger’s work as a writer and editor from 1928-1978. Collection includes correspondence (1932-1978) mostly regarding his work as a writer and editor for “This Week” and other magazines and with companies who were included in “1001 Valuable Things”; the galleys and manuscripts for “The Contest,” “The Complete Alibi Handbook” and “1001 Valuable Things”; the manuscript for an unpublished novel about a U.S. President (ca. 1975); legal agreements between Weisinger and “This Week” and Bantam Books (1954-1978); and photographs of Weisinger, the Weisinger family and various celebrities.

(3) WATCHMEN IN TIME. NPR’s Eric Deggans asks and answers: “Who Watches This ‘Watchmen?’ I Will, And You Should”.

The classic graphic novel Watchmen – an explicit, realistic take on what the world might be like if people actually put on costumes and masks to fight crime — tackled many social and political issues: American imperialism. Nuclear tensions with the Soviet Union. The corruption of a President Nixon who stayed in office for five terms.

But there’s one subject the book — hailed by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the last century – didn’t really approach.

Race.

So it makes a certain kind of sense that, when superstar TV producer Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) decided to build an HBO series around a modern continuation of the 1980s-era novel – okay, comic book — racial tension would be the first thing he tackled.

The result is a visually stunning, energetically complex series that digs into the hottest social issue of our time. But it’s done in a way that may leave viewers unsure exactly what Lindelof is saying about it all.

(4) COMICS IN SCHOOL. “‘Comic Book Libraries’ for Ypsilanti students blows past fundraising goal”MLive’s story covers the successful initiative.

A program led by two Eastern Michigan University alums aims to encourage area students to read by giving them access to “Comic Book Libraries” at community schools.

And a recent GoFundMe campaign to help expand the program has blown past its fundraising goal twice in a week.

The GoFundMe appeal “Providing Comic Book Libraries for local students!” has raised over $3,000.

Comic Book Libraries is a Hero Nation initiative that seeks to improve youth literacy by providing high-interest reading material to classrooms throughout our community.

We currently have educators at five different schools throughout our community hosting Comic Book Libraries and checking books out to eager students.

Graphic novels and comic books are excellent resources that help engage students with literature and art. From phenomenal fantasy adventures, to riveting retellings of historical events, there’s a graphic novel for everyone! 

(5) MUSH! NPR’s Scott Simon interviews the author and asks the obligatory question in “George R.R. Martin Really Does Know You Want Him To Write Faster”.

On whether it’s difficult to have millions of people waiting for The Winds of Winter, the next volume of A Song of Ice and Fire

Yes, especially because a certain portion of them are really impatient and snarky about it. You know, you can get one person who posts 150 messages in three days, all of which is “Where is Winds of Winter?” If any of you go home and post on your Twitter account, “Hey I was just at the Chicago Public Library Sandburg Award dinner and George R.R. Martin was there,” you know by the third message someone will say, well, “What the hell is he doing there? Where is Winds of Winter?” So at this point, it is what it is. And, you know, I should probably leave right now and go back [to] writing Winds of Winter.

It’s very important me to finish A Song of Ice and Fire. I want to finish it. I still have two more books to do, and I want to finish it strong. So people look at it and say, you know, this entire thing is an important work, not a half-finished or broken work. I know some of the more cynical people out there don’t believe that, but it is true.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 19, 1979 Meteor premiered. Starring Natalie Wood, Sean Connery, and Karl Malden, it was inspired by the 1967 Project Icarus from MIT. The film was a box office failure and received a 12% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • October 19, 2010 — The BBC’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The First Men In The Moon was first aired. Written by Mark Gatiss, it also stars Gatiss as Cavor and Rory Kinnear as Bedford. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 19, 1903 Tor Johnson. He acted in a lot of really bad films starting with Bride of the Monster and  The Unearthly with the next being Plan 9 from Outer Space followed by The Beast of Yucca Flats and finishing with The Night of The Ghouls. Three of these are directed by Ed Wood. He appears on in genre tv just once as Naboro in the “Inferno in Space” episode of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. (Died 1971.)
  • Born October 19, 1909 Robert Beatty. He’s best known for being in 2001: A Space Odyssey as Dr. Ralph Halvorsen. He played General Cutler in “The Tenth Planet”, a First Doctor story, and was General Halstead in The Martian Chronicles. He was in Superman III and Superman IV, respectively playing a tanker captain and the U.S. President. (Died 1992.)
  • Born October 19, 1921 George Nader. In 1953, he was Roy, the leading man in Robot Monster (a.k.a. Monster from Mars and Monsters from the Moon) acknowledged by him and others to be the one of the worst SF films ever made. He showed up in some decidedly low budget other SF films such as The Human Duplicators, Beyond Atlantis  and The Great Space Adventure. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 19, 1940 Michael Gambon, 79. He’s best known for playing Dumbledore in the final six Potter films after the death of Richard Harris who had previously played the role. He also shows up in the 2010 Christmas Special of Doctor Who, “A Christmas Carol”, an Eleventh Doctor story, playing Kazran/Elliot Sardick.
  • Born October 19, 1945 John Lithgow, 74. He enters SF fame as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’ll later be in Santa Claus: The MovieHarry and the Hendersons, ShrekRise of the Planet of the Apes, Interstellar and the remake of Pet Sematary. Oh and he voiced The White Rabbit on the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series! 
  • Born October 19, 1946 ?Philip Pullman, 73. I’ll confess that I like his Sally Lockhart mysteries far more than I enjoy the Dark Materials series as there’s a freshness and imagination at work there I don’t see in the latter. Oh, some of the latter is quite good — I quite enjoyed Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in The North.
  • Born October 19, 1969 Vanessa Marshall, 50. Voice actress who’s Hera Syndulla on Star Wars: Rebels, a series I’ve been enjoying immensely. She’s gave voice to myriad characters from Poison Ivy to Black Widow. 
  • Born October 19, 1990 ?Ciara Renée, 29. She was Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl in Legends of Tomorrow in the Arrowverse which means she showed up on Arrow and The Flash as well.

(8) SOMETIMES IN SPITE OF POPULAR DEMAND. Trae Dorn of Nerd & Tie discusses why reporting issue-focused fan news is a hazardous occupation. Thread starts here.

(9) RIIIGHT. It’s all a misunderstanding, you see: “Nobel Literature Prize judges defend controversial award for Peter Handke”.

Nobel Prize for Literature panel members have defended their decision to give this year’s award to controversial Austrian author Peter Handke.

The choice has been criticised because of Handke’s vocal support for the Serbs during the 1990s Yugoslav war.

Nobel committee member Henrik Petersen said Handke was “radically unpolitical” in his writing and that his support for the Serbs had been misunderstood.

(10) THEY’RE GOING AT NIGHT. (Yeah, I know, but I’ve always loved that joke.) BBC says probe will watch the Sun: “European SolO probe ready to take on audacious mission”. (Embedded video is just audio, but adds info about connection to US solar satellite.)

The European spacecraft that aims to take the closest ever pictures of the Sun is built and ready for launch.

The Solar Orbiter, or SolO, probe will put itself inside the orbit of Planet Mercury to train its telescopes on the surface of our star.

Other instruments will sense the constant outflow of particles and their embedded magnetic fields.

Scientists hope the detailed observations can help them understand better what drives the Sun’s activity.

This goes up and down on an 11-year cycle. It’s sure to be a fascinating endeavour but it’s one that has direct relevance to everyone on Earth.

The energetic outbursts from our star have the ability to damage satellites, harm astronauts, degrade radio communications, and even knock power grids offline.

“We’re doing this not just for the sake of increasing our knowledge but also for being able to take precautions, for example by putting satellites in safe mode when we know big solar storms are coming or letting astronauts not leave the space station on these days,” said Daniel Müller, the European Space Agency (Esa) project scientist on SolO.

(11) DAWN OF FANDOM. John L. Coker III, President of First Fandom, introduced members to David Ritter’s First Fandom Experience project late last year:

…David is seeking material for an ambitious project: the First Fandom Experience (FFE).  The purpose of the FFE is to “honor, preserve and bring to life the experience of the first fans – the pioneering fans who were instrumental in defining, driving, growing and supporting science fiction and fantasy in the 1930s and beyond.”

David’s primary initial focus for FFE will be to “publish fan-created content from the SF and fantasy fields dating from the 1930s, in facsimile form, from the rarest to the most prominent fanzines of the period.  FFE will also seek to find and republish other related ephemera of the period, especially content relating to the fan club activities and conventions held through the 1930s.  In addition, FFE will publish new content authored by current fans and historians reflecting on their experience and knowledge of the genres in the 1930s.” 

Two recent posts from Ritter’s First Fandom Experience site are:

“They’re Grand, But… “ is the story of a late-night adventure in 1938, and its consequences, scanned from Sam Moskowitz’ fanzine.

In some ways, early science fiction fandom was like a family. Think Leave It To Beaver meets Jersey Shore. The love and hate in the complex web of relationships often played out both in person and in fanzines. A shining example: a 1938 late-night road trip worthy of Scorsese’s After Hours.

In February 1938, Samuel A. Moskowitz penned a saccharin homage to his brothers and occasional sister in the fan community. “They’re Grand” appeared in The Science Fiction Fan (v2n6).

“Dessert of the Day: The Science Fiction Special” documents an eofannish obsession with ice cream, with a recipe by Frederik Pohl in the The International Observer (v2n7, January 1937), later refined by Donald A. Wollheim and John B. Michel in The Science Fiction Bugle, May 1937. (Scans of both items at the link.)

(12) NO TIPS, PLEASE. “LEONARDO Bipedal Robot With Thrusters” on YouTube is a robot developed at Caltech with a really good sense of balance.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/13/19 One Pixel, One File and One Scroll, Well, My Fandom, She Gone, She Gone Tonight

(1) A CLASSIC. Deadline reports Clifford D. Simak’s novel Way Station, a 1964 Hugo winner, will be developed for Netflix: “Matt Reeves’ 6th & Idaho To Turn Sci-Fi Tale ‘Way Station’ Into Netflix Movie”. In years gone by this was my #1 favorite sf book!

Here’s the logline on Way Station: For more than 100 years Enoch Wallace has been the keeper of a Way Station on Earth for intergalactic alien travelers as they teleport across the universe. But the gifts of knowledge and immortality that his intergalactic guests have bestowed upon him are proving to be a nightmarish burden, for they have opened Enoch’s eyes to humanity’s impending destruction. Still, one final hope remains for the human race.

(2) GRRM WILL CO-AUTHOR GOT TV PREQUEL. “‘Game of Thrones’: Second Prequel in the Works at HBO”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

A second Game of Thrones prequel is in the works at HBO.

Sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter that the premium cable network is near a deal for a pilot order for a prequel set 300 years before the events of the flagship series that tracks the beginnings and the end of House Targaryen. Ryan Condal (Colony) and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin will pen the script for the drama, which is based on Martin’s book Fire & Blood.

(3) COPING WITH CHANGE. M.L. Clark provides a deeply thoughtful analysis of the conversation about award names in “Letting Go of Our “Heroes”: Ongoing Humanist Training and the (Ex-)James Tiptree, Jr. Award” at Another White Atheist in Colombia.

…I asked myself three questions, then, to challenge my knee-jerk defense of the status quo–and I’d encourage you to employ similar the next time a group decision focussed on harm-reduction finds you, initially, “on” or “on the other side of” the fence.

1. To whom are you listening in this debate?

In the wake of my defensiveness, I had to make a concerted effort to read counterpoints to my perspective. Lots of them. And as I did, I took note of the times when I felt the greatest urgency to seek out both-sides-ism, to return to the security of others whose initial reactions were the same as mine: folks reluctant to change the name of this award, to own up to the pain Sheldon’s story has left in the hearts of many living human beings.

Critically, too, I didn’t then seek out those arguments when I wanted to–because what need did I have of them? They’d be sheer preaching to the choir, like the reading of apologetics for some Christians when faced with doubts. But I did note the contexts in which I most wanted to dive for shelter… and those contexts? They were usually when someone said something that challenged me to reason from empathy, to recognize the humanity of other people marginalized by Sheldon’s prominence at potential cost to the value of her disabled husband’s life. At those points most of all, I felt the urge to hide behind the presumption of neutrality, in superficial phrasing like, Well, no one can say for sure what happened that night! 

Which, sure, is true… but then why was I still automatically favouring one interpretation–the more convenient interpretation–over another that people were actively telling me did harm to their sense of full and safe inclusion in SF?

(4) EX-MEN. Cian Maher helps Polygon readers remember “That time the X-Men’s humanity was put on trial in a real court of law”. Because the Toy Biz company could get a lower tariff rate if the figurines were deemed nonhuman.

…Toy Biz’s motion acknowledged that the X-Men “manifest human characteristics at varying degrees,” but argued that most are more of a mixed bag of human and non-human aspects. For example, the document specifically calls out Wolverine (rude!) for having “long, sharplooking [sic] claws grafted onto his hands that come out from under his skin along with wolf-like hair and ears.”

Don’t body-shame Wolverine! He tries very hard!

Judge Barzilay’s official ruling, in which Toy Biz prevailed, states “the action figure playthings at issue here are not properly classifiable as ‘dolls’ under the HTSUS by virtue of various non-human characteristics they exhibit.”

(5) THESE THINGS HAVE TO BE DONE CAREFULLY… Vance K offers advice to parents in “Let’s Frighten Children! Vincent Price & Scooby-Doo” at Nerds of a Feather.

You’re a parent. You love horror. But horror is scary. So how to share this love of horror with your young, innocent, in-love-with-the-world child?

…For me and my family, the first step to introducing horror was to introduce the language of scares without, really, the fear. It’s hard to be a little kid. You are tiny, and surrounded by giants. Nothing makes sense, and every outcome is uncertain. Mom’s leaving…Will she come back?! How long is an hour?! It’s unknowable. And worse, there might actually be a monster under the bed. Or in the closet — you just don’t know.

This is where Vincent Price and Scooby-Doo came in handy. It’s pretty unlikely any kid is going to be legitimately frightened by an episode of Scooby-Doo. And yet, there are ghosts, goblins, witches, vampires, werewolves, creepers, and more, all running about. I’m actually not a huge Scooby fan, but I found the Cartoon Network Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated series to be excellent. I watched a big chunk of it with my kids, who were five and seven at the time. They loved it, and still do. We re-watch episodes regularly. In a world where asking a kid who has grown up with an iPhone to watch Bela Lugosi’s Dracula seems like a bridge too far, this is a show that is fast-paced, conversant in horror tropes, dabbles in grotesque/frightening imagery, and is funny, smart, and good. It’s also a show that prominently features Vincent Van Ghoul, who is a not-at-all-disguised representation of Vincent Price.

(6) ALA ADDRESSES MACMILLAN CEO. Publishers Weekly covers an American Library Association press conference where “Librarians Launch National Campaign to Oppose Macmillan’s Library E-book Embargo”.

…So far, that action includes two rather modest initiatives, unveiled on Wednesday. One is an online petition (eBooksForAll.org) urging Sargent and Macmillan to reconsider the publisher’s recently announced embargo. The other is a new online book club, in partnership with OverDrive. The “Libraries Transform Book Pick” will offer library users unlimited access to a selected e-book for two weeks, with no holds list and no waiting. The first pick is Kassandra Montag’s debut novel After the Flood (HarperCollins), which will be available for unlimited e-book checkouts at public libraries from October 7-21.

(7) WORDS OF A FEATHER. Paul Di Filippo’s F&SF column “Plumage from Pegasus” tells all about a collaboration by two of the genre’s founders that was largely unknown ‘til a couple of years ago: Flora Columbia: Goddess of a New Age, by Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.

In the year 1901, with the publication of his ninth novel, The First Men in the Moon, H. G. Wells, then a thirty-five-year-old wunderkind, cemented his reputation as the leading purveyor of “scientific romances.” The acclaim accorded to this British upstart, however, did not sit well with the aging lion of the nascent genre, Jules Verne—then an ailing seventy-three and just a few years away from his own death. Verne did not care for Wells’s less-stringent approach to scientific speculation, nor for his wilder imagination. In fact, Verne was so perturbed that he gave vent to his famous direct criticism of the novel: “I sent my characters to the moon with gunpowder, a thing one may see every day. Where does M. Wells find his cavorite? Let him show it to me!”

So much is a matter of historical record. But what came next remained secret until just recently.

Both irked and disappointed by the jab from this venerable figure who had done so much to pioneer imaginative literature and whose respect he would have relished, Wells did a daring thing. On a mission both conciliatory and confrontational, he journeyed to France to confront the Master. In Amiens, at 44 Boulevard de Longueville, he was received with a wary hospitality. But after some awkward conversation over a lunch of calvados and choucroute garnie, the two writers found a shared footing in their mutual love of “science fiction,” a term they would not even have recognized. And then, impulsively, they decided to seal their tentative new friendship in a manner befitting their shared passion.

They would collaborate on a short novel….

(8) COLLINS OBIT. Charles Collins (1935-2019) died August 26 at the age of 83. He worked as a Publisher’s Representative, eventually becoming co-owner of Como Sales Company. Also, with Donald M. Grant, he co-founded Centaur Press, later renamed Centaur Books, a small press active from 1969 through 1981.

With Donald M. Grant, left, and Robb Walsh at the launch of Kingdom of the Dwarfs, 1980. Photo by © Andrew Porter

It was primarily a paperback publisher, though one of its more successful titles was reissued in hardcover. It was notable for reviving pulp adventure and fantasy works of the early twentieth century for its “Time-Lost Series.”

Authors whose works were returned to print include Robert E. Howard, Arthur O. Friel, Talbot Mundy, H. Warner Munn, and William Hope Hodgson. In the sole anthology it issued, the press also premiered a new work by Lin Carter. In later years it also published longer works by contemporary authors, including Carter, Galad Elflandsson, and Robb Walsh. Its books featured cover art by Jeff Jones, Virgil Finlay, Frank Brunner, Stephen Fabian, Randy Broecker, and David Wenzel.

The family obituary is here. Collins’ own history of Como Sales Company is here.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 13, 1969 – CBS introduced Scooby Doo, Where Are You? 50 years ago this week: Quoting the Wikipedia —

The first episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! “What a Night for a Knight” debuted on the CBS network Saturday, September 13, 1969. The original voice cast featured veteran voice actor Don Messick as Scooby-Doo, radio DJ Casey Kasem (later host of radio’s syndicated American Top 40) as Shaggy, actor Frank Welker (later a veteran voice actor in his own right) as Fred, actress Nicole Jaffe as Velma, and musician Indira Stefanianna as Daphne.[15] Scooby’s speech patterns closely resembled an earlier cartoon dog, Astro from The Jetsons (1962–63), also voiced by Messick.[2] Seventeen episodes of Scooby-Doo Where are You! were produced in 1969–70.

  • September 13, 1974  — Planet of the Apes debuted as a weekly television series with the  “Escape from Tomorrow” episode. Roddy McDowall was once again Galen. Due to really poor rating, CBS canceled the series after 14 episodes. 
  • September 13, 1999 — On this day, in the timeline inhabited by the crew of Space: 1999, the events told in the “Breakaway” premier episode happened.  

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 13, 1898 Arthur J. Burks. He  sold his first stories to Weird Tales in 1924. He became one of the “million-word-a-year” men in the pulp magazines by dint of his tremendous output. He wrote in the neighborhood of eight hundred stories for the pulps. Both iBooks and Kindle have some of his fiction available for free if you care to see how this pulp writer reads. (Died 1974.)
  • Born September 13, 1926 Roald Dahl. Did you know he wrote the screenplay for You Only Live Twice? Or that he hosted and wrote for a sf and horror television anthology series called Way Out which aired before The Twilight Zone for a season? He also hosted the UK Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected.  My favorite Dahl work is The BFG. What’s yours? (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 13, 1931 Barbara Bain, 86. She’s most remembered for co-starring in the original Mission: Impossible television series in the 1960s as Cinnamon Carter, and Space: 1999 as Doctor Helena Russell. I will confess that I never watched the latter. Her first genre role was as Alma in the “KAOS in CONTROL” episode of Get Smart! 
  • Born September 13, 1932 Dick Eney. Most notably, in 1959 he published Fancyclopedia 2, an over two hundred page encyclopedia of all things fandom. He worked on committees for Discon I, Discon II, and Constellation and was the Fan Guest of Honor at L.A.Con II, the 1984 Worldcon. He served as OE of FAPA and SAPS and was a member of The Cult and the Washington in ’77 Worldcon bid. He was toastmaster at Conterpoint 1993. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 13, 1936 Richard Sapir. Pulp writer in spirit if not in actuality. Among his many works is The Destroyer series of novels that he co-created with Warren Murphy. (Murphy would write them by himself after death of Sapir starting with the seventy-first novel until the series concluded with ninety-sixth novel.)  And the main character in them is Remo Williams who you’ll no doubt recognize from  Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins where Fred Ward played Remo which I’ve watched but remember nothing of thirty years on. (Died 1987.)
  • Born September 13, 1939 Richard Kiel. He’s definitely  best remembered  for being the steely mouthed Jaws n The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Now let’s see what other SFF films he’s been in… His very last genre work was voicing Vlad in the animated Tangled with first his being The Salorite in The Phantom Planet. He was Eegah in the low budget horror film Eegah,  a giant House of the Damned, Dr. Kolos in The Human Duplicators, Psychiatric Hospital Patient in Brainstorm, Bolob in the Italian L’umanoide, internationally released as The Humanoid, and he reprised his Jaws character in Inspector Gadget. Series wise, he’s shown up in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Twilight Zone,  Kolchak: The Night StalkerThe Wild Wild West (where he working in a recurring role with Michael Dunn as Dr. Miguelito Loveless), I Dream of Jeannie, Gilligan’s Island, Land of The Lost and Superboy. (Died 2014.)
Richard Kiel, right, in Wild Wild West
  • Born September 13, 1944 Jacqueline Bisset, 75. I never pass up a Bond performance and so she’s got on the Birthday Honors by being Giovanna Goodthighs in Casino Royale even though that might have been one of the dumbest character names ever. As near as I can tell, until she shows up in as Charlotte Burton in the “Love the Lie” episode of Counterpart that’s her entire encounter with genre acting.
  • Born September 13, 1947 Mike Grell, 72. He’s best known for his work on books such as Green Lantern/Green Arrow, The Warlord, and Jon Sable Freelance. The Warlord featuring Travis Morgan is a hollow Earth adventure series set in Skartaris which is a homage to Jules Verne as Grell points out “the name comes from the mountain peak Scartaris that points the way to the passage to the earth’s core in Journey to the Center of the Earth .
  • Born September 13, 1961 Tom Holt, 59. Assuming you like comical fantasy, I’d recommend both Faust Among Equals and Who Afraid of Beowulf? as being well worth time. If you madly, truly into Wagner, you’ll love Expecting Someone Taller; if not, skip it. 
  • Born September 13, 1969 Bob Eggleton, 50. He’s has been honored with the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist eight times! He was guest of honor at Chicon 2000. There’s a reasonably up to date look at his artwork,  Primal Darkness: The Gothic & Horror Art of Bob Eggleton  which he put together in 2010 and was published by Cartouche Press.

(11) ROLLING ON THE RIVER. Kelly Lasiter recommends a book at Fantasy Literature: “Mapping Winter: A character and a world that will stick with me”.

Mapping Winter (2019) is Marta Randall’s reworking of her 1983 novel, The Sword of Winter. (Randall talks more about the story behind the book here.) Its release as Mapping Winter was followed shortly by the all-new sequel The River South, with the two novels making up the RIDERS GUILD series. It’s a secondary-world fantasy, but without magic; I was about two-thirds of the way through the book when I realized, “Huh, I don’t think there’s been any magic!” What it does have is a nation poised between feudalism and industrialization.

(12) SCHOOL DAZE. James Davis Nicoll rings up our magic number: “Five SFF Stories About Surviving the Dangers of Boarding School” at Tor.com.

Kazuma Kamachi’s ongoing series of short novels and their associated manga and anime (A Certain Magical Index, A Certain Scientific Railgun, A Certain Scientific Accelerator, etc.) is set in Academy City. The city is home to over two million students, most of whom have some degree of reality-breaking Esper power. Some can control electromagnetism; some can keep objects at a constant temperature. Imagine the Xavier School for the Gifted with the population of Paris, France. Unlike the leadership of Xavier’s school, however, the people running Academy City are ambitious people entirely unfamiliar with the concepts of consent or ethics….

(13) ABOUT THAT DEAD HORSE. Good point – after all, how many people would watch a channel that mostly runs commercials?

(14) YOU’VE GOT MAIL. Paul Weimer says people who like a character-focused story will love it: “Microreview: This Is How You Lose The Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone” at Nerds of a Feather.

…In a world of twitter, and direct messages, and texts, and instant social media, long form letters are a delightful retro technology and form. Epistolary novels and stories, never the most common of forms even when letters were dominant as a means of communication, are exceedingly distinctive just by their format in this day and age. It’s a bold choice by the authors to have the two agents, Red (from a technological end state utopia) and Blue (from a biological super consciousness utopia) to start their correspondence and to have their letters (which take increasingly unusual forms as described in the narrative) be the backbone of the action. Every chapter has one of the principals in action, and a letter from the other principals, giving a harmonic balance for the reader as far as perspective. But it is within the letters themselves that the novella truly sings and shows its power.

(15) BOG STANDARD. Nina Shepardson reviews Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss at Outside of a Dog.

The theme of Sarah Moss’s latest novel, Ghost Wall, can be summed up by a William Faulkner quote: “The past is never dead. It isn’t even really past.” Sylvie’s father plans an unusual vacation for their family: joining a local college professor’s project to spend a couple of weeks living the way British people did in the Bronze Age. This involves some of the physical discomforts you would expect, such as foraging for food in the summer heat and living in huts. But things take a darker turn as Sylvie’s father’s fascination with the period deepens into obsession. And not all the hazards of the era were natural ones; there’s evidence that a nearby bog was a site of human sacrifice….

(16) ALASDAIR STUART. It’s Full Lid o’clock!

(17) THE MESSAGE. Joseph Hurtgen has just released his second sff novel with a theme chosen for reasons he explains in “Why I Wrote an Anti-Gun, Anti-Trump, Environmental Science Fiction Novel “. “This novel is an exercise in hoping our democracy outlasts this election cycle, hoping our generation doesn’t destroy the planet, and hoping that we could rise above greed to make our nation safe for our children. What better place to do all this hoping than in the pages of science fiction?”

The book follows William Tecumseh Sherman as he time travels around America’s history, talking to presidents that like their guns and aren’t interested in instituting environmental protections. 

I realize that it’s a bit of stretch that Sherman would get involved politically. Sherman once said if he was elected, he wouldn’t serve. But isn’t that precisely the kind of leader America needs? Someone disinterested in leadership wouldn’t likely have ulterior motives for holding a position of power: no Putins to please, no buildings to build in Moscow or the Middle East.

But the reality of American politics is that those willing to profit from power are rewarded for it. In 2019, the emoluments clause might as well be struck from the record. It clearly isn’t taken seriously. But emoluments are only the tip of the ugly iceberg.

(18) “THE SCREAM”. “Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2019: Here are the finalists” — minimal text, great photos.

(19) THEATER AS GAME. “Variant 31: ‘Pushing the boundaries’ of immersive theatre”.

It’s being promoted as the biggest live immersive game yet. Variant 31 is theatre – there are 150 real-life performers involved. But its creator is hoping it will bring in video gamers – and people who like jumping out of aircraft.

If you heard reports of reanimated cadavers roaming at will beneath New Oxford Street you might suppose London had been having a particularly bad day for public transport.

But producer Dalton M Dale is proud to stand in a slightly musty former shop basement and talk of the malevolent band of marauding zombies he’s adding to the growing world of immersive theatre.

He’s from North Carolina but in 2017 he came to London after a few years working on immersive shows in New York.

“London is the place to push the envelope of what immersive storytelling can do: the point about Variant 31 is that as you move through our really large site you get actively involved in the story. That’s instead of standing at a slight distance and observing and admiring, which has often been the case with even the best immersive experiences.”

…”You start at Patient Intake at Toxico Technologies,” Dale explains. “Toxico 25 years ago has manufactured strange and nefarious materials for chemical warfare. You are given a piece of wrist technology which at key points across 35 floors will allow you to do various things: you can alter the lighting and open hidden passages and even change the weather.

“Creatures emerge as you move through. From the moment you step into this world the hunt is on and someone wants to catch you. Oh, and always bear in mind: the only way to kill a zombie is to aim for the head.

Players score points by killing the creatures and at the end of the experience there will be just one winner from your group. “We claim this is the first truly immersive experience: it’s not spoon-fed like some other shows. Your presence matters and genuinely changes what goes on.”

(20) DATA SAVED BY DEFNESTRATION. BBC tells how “Russian activist saves data from police with drone”.

A Russian activist used a drone to get his data out of his high-rise flat when police came to search it.

Sergey Boyko says he sent hard drives to a friend by drone when police banged at his door at 10:00 local time, to avoid them getting hold of the data.

The search was part of a nationwide crackdown on the opposition.

Around 200 raids have been carried out in the past few days after the ruling party suffered major losses in local elections in Moscow.

A YouTube video taken (in Russian) by a female companion shows Mr Boyko, who lives in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, releasing a drone from his flat in a tall apartment block as police wait to be let in.

Mr Boyko heads the local branch of the movement of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who campaigned for voters to defeat candidates of the United Russia party using tactical voting in Sunday’s city council election.

The activists say the raids are a form of revenge by the authorities for the setbacks.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In A Month of Type on Vimeo, Mr Kaplin animates the alphabet.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Joseph Hurtgen, IanP, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contrbuting editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Buhlert: Dublin 2019 Worldcon Photos — Part 2: The Hugo Losers Party

[Editor’s Introduction: Cora Buhlert shares her photos from the Hugo Losers Party at Dublin 2019.]

By Cora Buhlert:

GRRM: More Hugo Losers
Party History

By George R.R. Martin: Tammy Coxen’s history of the Hugo Losers Party was informative, even to me.    I was at almost all of those conventions, and a good many of those parties, but the precise details of when the next year’s Worldcon took over have been lost in the mists of time.

Here are a few additional details that you may find of interest… things I do remember…

We say that the 1976 party was held in my hotel room at KC, and that’s certainly how it started… but there was more to it than that.   Purely by happenstance, my room — an ordinary double in the Muehlebach Towers — was at the end of a corridor, on the same floor as the hotel pool.   Capacity was an issue even then, but when the crowd overfilled the room, the party simply spilled out into the hallway, and then out onto the pool deck.   Hotels did not seem to mind hall parties in those days.   People sat on the floor with their backs against the walls and passersby stepped over them.  And when Joe Haldeman showed up, having won the Hugo for FOREVER WAR, the fans picked him up and threw him in the pool.   Today’s winners get off easy with their funny hats.

I don’t even recall when and how we came to throw a second party, at Suncon (1977).   Certainly I had no intention of doing so; the 1976 party had been so unique I figured it was a one-time thing.   But so many people asked me whether there would be a second party that I decided to see if we could do one.   My room that year was nothing special, however, no pool deck conveniently to hand, so I did not know where we could hold it.   I believe it was Ace Books who came to the rescue by lending us their suite.   I think Jim Baen was the editor there then, but I may be getting the years mixed up.   But it was definitely Ace that hosted the 1977 party.   They provided some of the booze too, but once again Gardner and I also scrounged from other parties.

 In 1978, in Phoenix… again, I may be mixing up the years… but Jim Frenkel was starting Bluejay Books around then, and came to me to ask for the right to host the party to publicize the line.   So the Phoenix bash doubled as a Bluejay Launch Party.   (If I have the right year).

The 1979 Worldcon was in the UK and I did not have the money to attend.   So far as I know there was no Hugo Losers Party that year.

George R.R. Martin at Noreascon (1980).

But we resumed in 1980, at Noreascon II in Boston.   Ahhh, yes.   That year I had the bad taste to win not one, but TWO Hugo Awards, so Gardner got me good when I dared showed my face at the party with the rockets in hand.   I think it was at that party that he sprayed my head with whipped cream and even had a maraschino cherry to pop on top.   And, of course, he formally threw me out of the Hugo Losers club with appropriate ceremony.   Needless to say, I have a lot of good memories of that night.   I don’t recall where we found the suite for the party, though.   We may have begged for the use of the SFWA Suite, or maybe that was a later year.

At Denver in 1981 I lost in novella with “Nightflyers” and was readmitted to the ranks of Losers.     No publisher stepped forward to let us use a suite that year, so I begged and pleaded and convinced Rusty Hevelin to let me use the suite the con had given him as Fan GOH.   It was a big lavish suite, but even so, at one point the crush became so thick that Rusty stood on a table and shouted for quiet and said, “If you are not a Hugo Loser, or do not even KNOW a Hugo Loser, please leave.”   I don’t recall if anyone did.  This was decades before the Alfies, to be sure, but I did make a presentation of sorts at that party.   Howard Waldrop had just lost for “The Ugly Chickens” (which had won the Nebula earlier that year), so I presented him with a fake F&SF cover for a non-existent special “Howard Waldrop Issue” that I’d had painted by Jim Odbert.   I also remember the rented red dinner jacket I wore that night.   Parris said I looked like the waiter at an Italian restaurant.

George R.R. Martin with the faux F&SF cover.

After that things get very fuzzy.   We threw parties in the next few years, but the details escape me.   L.A.con II in 1984 may have been the last one I helped run.   The 1985 con was Aussiecon II, and I did not have the money to get to Australia.  I don’t know if someone else threw a Losers Party there or not.    But I was definitely out of it by Atlanta in 1986.

After other hands took it over, the name Hugo Losers Party continued for a bit, but eventually they jettisoned even that.   At one party in the late 90s or early 00s I was reprimanded for calling it by the original name.  “The nominees do not appreciate being called losers,” I was told with a sniff.   “How would you like being called a loser?”   I just laughed.   “I’m one of the original losers,” I replied.   A lot of folks still used the Hugo Losers name colloquially thereafter, but from that point the official name was always something like “The Post Hugo Nominees Reception.”  At one such, during a year when he was not a nominee, Gardner Dozois was even turned away.   He was not on the list.   (He laughed about it.  A somewhat rueful, resigned laugh, but a laugh nonetheless).

Returning to the present… it might interest your readers to know that the Guinness Storehouse was our second choice for a venue.   I wanted Dublin Castle.   Alas, though they do rent the castle for parties, they have a firm policy that all events must end at 11:00 pm.   That would not have worked for us, for obvious reasons.

A Brief History of the Hugo Losers Party

By Tammy Coxen:

1976 – GRRM holds the first Hugo Loser’s Party, an unofficial event in his hotel room

1976-1985 – GRRM continues to run the HLP as an unofficial event “usually teaming up with a publisher”

1985 to 1987 – Other people run the HLP, but it continues as an unofficial event

1988 – The people who have been running the party say they can’t do it. The 1989 Worldcon (Noreascon 3) offers to run it. At their con in 1989, they offer the 1990 Worldcon (ConFiction) the opportunity to run it, and it becomes a tradition for it to be done this way.

1989-2014 – The HLP is now an event hosted by the following year’s convention, specifically targeted at the finalists of the current year’s Hugo Awards. It’s generally held at the convention with other parties, and often opens up to the general membership after the Losers have been and gone. It gets progressively more formal as the years go on, with gifts for the finalists provided by the next year’s con. And because conventions and budgets vary, sometimes it’s a great party, and sometimes it’s not so great.

2015 & 2016 – Along come the Puppies, and GRRM revives his Hugo Losers Party. In a much bigger and more extravagant fashion, because he’s now that GRRM and he can afford to throw the best parties ever. The official, next-convention-run party continues in parallel, but attendance is dismal, with many of the finalists not even bothering to stop in before heading off to the exciting party.

2017-2019 – If you can’t beat ’em, join em! Rather than spend money and people points hosting an official convention-run HLP, the next year’s conventions decide instead to team up with George, contributing their labor and paltry budget to his grander extravaganza. This works to varying degrees of success, culminating in 2019 with Hugo finalists (who from 1988 to 2016 were told explicitly that this was a party FOR THEM) not being able to get into the party, and being understandably grouchy about it.

GRRM on the Hugo Losers Party

By George R.R. Martin: We ran into some problems this year at the Hugo Losers Party in Dublin, and it seems there’s been a good deal of online commentary about what happened and why, much of it from people who were not there and don’t know any of the facts, but are outraged and eager to chime in all the same.   There’s been way too much misinformation going around, and a lot more heat than light. 

I do not know that anything I can say will appease those who did not get into the party… but I can at least explain what happened, and why.

Facts first.  At the Hugo Losers Party on Sunday night at the Dublin 2019 Worldcon, for a certain period of time, the venue where we were hosting the party reached its maximum legal capacity, and a number of invited guests arrived at the door and were denied entrance.   Included among them were some nominees from the awards ceremony that had been held earlier that evening (losers largely, I gather, though there may have been a winner or two as well), together with their plus ones.   A few of those who did not get into the party became very irate and took their grievance on line, even as the party was going on.  Others, not present, became irate on their behalf.    And matters have mushroomed from there.   There have been a lot of angry words spoken, and a demand to know who is to blame. 

There were four separate groups involved in this year’s Hugo Losers Party, in major or minor ways: the 2019 Worldcon (Dublin), next year’s Worldcon (New Zealand), the venue (the Guinness Storehouse), and me m’self and I, with my staff.   Everybody played some part in what befell us, but for some that part was very, very small.   I have seen posts blistering both Dublin and New Zealand.  Neither one deserves the criticism they are getting.   If someone must be castigated here, fine, blame me.   It was my party.   Other people were involved, and there were definitely some failures of communication, but the ultimate responsibility was mine.   And while a number of mistakes were made along the way, the biggest was the one I made at the very beginning, months ago, when I chose the venue.  

Since reviving (or reclaiming, if you prefer) the Hugo Losers Party in 2015, I have searched for unique, interesting, off-site venues to hold the festivities.  The party had long since outgrown the hotel suites where it began in the 70s and 80s, and a sterile convention center function room is no place to have a party, in my opinion.   The Guinness Storehouse seemed perfect.   Historic, colorful, interesting, quintessentially Dublin… and they say Guinness is best when drunk at the source.   Many of my guests agreed, and told me during the party how much they loved the venue.  

The problem was, it turned out not to be big enough for everyone that wanted to attend.

That requires a bit more explanation, however.   The Storehouse is a massive old multi-story building.   From the outside, it looks as if it could contain ten parties the size of ours.  And it could have, if we had the whole building.    We didn’t.  We rented the Arrol Suite and adjoining mezzanines on the second floor.  With the set-up we selected (a stage, some comfortable seating, a dance floor, the bar, food stations, tables, and more seating out on the mezzanine, etc), its maximum capacity was 450 people.  

My mistake was thinking that would be enough.

Dublin was the fifth Hugo Losers I have run since reclaiming the party.   In terms of venue size, the Storehouse falls right in the middle.   It was smaller than the Glasshouse in San Jose and the cavernous Midland Theatre we used for the Kansas City party, but larger than Glover mansion in Spokane and way larger than the steampunk bar we used in Helsinki, the smallest of our party sites.   We knew the capacity of the floor we were renting well in advance, and worried whether the 450 limit would be a problem for us.   The possibility was there, we all saw that.    But there was no easy answer, so in the end we decided to go ahead as planned in the hopes that things would work out.   The final decision was mine.   It was the wrong decision.

I will not deny that my team and I had concerns.   This came into sharp focus when James Bacon requested 140 invitations from us, for inclusion in the registration packets.   He wrote, “The figure of 140 invitations, (280 people), includes. Hugo Finalists. Guests of Honour. Featured artists, Special Guests (astronauts)  FF Delegates, the Master of Ceremonies.”  This was a much larger figure than we’d been expecting, though perhaps it should not have been.   The number of Hugo finalists has been growing steadily in recent years.  We now have six finalists in each category where once we had five, and Worldcon keeps adding more and more new categories (this year, the Lodestar) without ever dropping any.  Also, whereas in the past categories like fanzine and semiprozines only had one editor, and therefore one nominee (Andy Porter for ALGOL, DIck Geis for ALIEN CRITIC, Charlie Brown for LOCUS, Mike Glyer for FILE 770, etc.), now most of them seem to be edited by four, five, or seven people, all of whom expect rockets and nominee invitations.  It adds up.    Since each invitation is a plus one, Dublin’s request meant that 280 spots of out 450 were already gone, before I had even invited a single guest of my own.   That made me and my team gulp a bit.   Nonetheless, we complied.  (Later, James requested additional invitations for his own concom and “other worthy people.”  We provided those as well).

Despite our trepidations, I still believed that 450 would be enough.  I had several reasons for that.   A month before the con, I exchanged emails with James Bacon,  asking him for his best estimate of attendance.   Since Dublin had shut off registration, it seemed likely that his estimate would be accurate.   James told me he expected about 5500 people, which turned out to be quite close.   That was smaller than last year’s San Jose Worldcon, and quite a bit smaller than the Helsinki Worldcon, which drew 7900.   A smaller con meant a smaller party, I reasoned; fewer past Hugo losers, writers, editors, and other people normally invited would be in attendance.  (I was wrong).   

I was also misled by our experience at Helsinki (2017).   The steampunk bar that year was easily the smallest of the five venues I’ve used since 2015.   The Hugo Losers absolutely packed the place, to the extent that the by the time I arrived, I could not get into my own party.  Every seat was taken, every booth full, people were lined up three-deep at the bar, the dance floor was packed.  Fortunately, there was an outside seating area with tables and chairs, and lots of sidewalk, so the Helsinki party simply spilled outdoors.   The bar did not seem to mind.   The more people poured in, the more drinks they served, so they were happy.  Ecstatic, even.  They thanked us afterwards.   All that was in the back of my mind when I considered the Guinness Storehouse.   We would have a LOT more room than we had in Helsinki… and I suppose I figured that if we exceeded the 450 limit, we would simply pack in tighter, or spill over to other areas of the building.   The Storehouse had plenty of space.    Foolishly, I assumed the Guinness people would think the same way they had in Helsinki: the more people we had, the more drinks they could move.   (I was wrong about this as well).

A number of the louder Twitterers have stated SOMETIMES IN SCREAMING CAPS that it is simplicity itself to calculate the number of attendees at a party.   That makes me suspect that none of them have ever organized one, at least not one as big as the Hugo Losers Party.   We are not talking about a sit-down dinner with a set number of guests, nor an awards ceremony with fixed opening and closing times.   And while there is certainly a relationship between the number of invitations handed out and the number of guests, it is not one-to-one, as you might think.   Not everyone who receives an invitation actually comes.   On the other hand, every year we have invited guests who turn up with their plus one… and a plus two, a plus three, a plus four, etc.   “They’re with me,” they announce, and some get very indignant if told their extras will not be admitted.  We also get people arriving at the door without an invitation in hand, having forgotten to bring it when they donned their party finery.   Other people may not have received an invite this year, but have attended past parties.    Some never got invited simply because we never encountered them at the con;  if we had known they were there, we certainly would have invited them.  Bottom line, there’s a certain amount of guesstimation going on every year when we try to figure how many guests we’ll have.

Also, parties ebb and flow.   People come, people go.   Some come early and leave early.   Some arrive late and depart at closing.  A few are there when you open the doors and still there when you turn out the lights.   We’d had four years of experience with these affairs, so I had a good idea of the patterns.   A few early birds show up even while the awards are still going on.   After the Hugos, there is a big rush.   Two rushes, actually; one made up of losers and spectators, who leave right after the last rocket is handed out, and a second made up of winners and friends, who tend to linger around the con accepting congratulations and posing for photos.   After that people continue to trickle in, in smaller groups.   Food is served, the band plays, the party gets  larger… until about midnight, which traditionally (if something that started in 2015 can be considered a tradition) is when I present the Alfie Awards.   After the Alfies, dessert is served.   In past years, we’ve had a large cake fashioned in the shape of a rocket ship crashed into a pile of books.   This year, our friends from CoNZealand offered to take care of dessert, so we had small individual cakes of a sort popular in New Zealand (and, because of a lapse in communications, we also had a second sort of small individual cakes arranged by my staff).   After dessert, guests start to depart.   Not all at once by any means — the party usually runs for several more hours —  but midnight is definitely the high point.

Our past experience with party ebb and flow was another reason why I figured a maximum capacity of 450 would be sufficient.   The Guinness Storehouse was a good ways away from the convention center.   Too far to walk; we figured most guests would take taxis.   Knowing that some con-goers would be on tight budgets, however, we also provided free transport; a minibus with twenty seats that would shuttle back and forth between the convention center and the Spencer and the Guinness Storehouse.   It would take some time to make the trip,  so the guests would be arriving in small groups throughout the evening.   Three or four trips into the night, past experience told us that some people would be leaving even as others were arriving.  

In any case, this was how it was supposed to go.   But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

We got the first bad news when we arrived in Dublin and some of my staff went down to the Guinness Storehouse to go over all the arrangements.   It was there that the Guinness people made it very clear to us that the 450 maximum capacity was an absolute hard limit.   There would be no packing more people in, as at Helsinki.  If we went over 450, the party would be shut down immediately.   Also, though there was nobody else in the building that night, we would not be permitted to spill out onto unused floors.   Our guests would be restricted to the Arrol Suite and adjacent mezzanine rooms, the areas we had booked, and there would be security on hand to make certain no one went wandering.   That was… well… firm, but hardly something we could quibble over.   We got what I paid for.    And the Guinness people were extremely accommodating in many other ways, so by no means do I want to blame them for our problem.    They were perfectly correct.

(There will be some, undoubtedly, who are now saying, “well, why didn’t you rent more space.”   Yes, so simple.   But renting more floors would have cost more money.   A LOT more money.  Also, more space meant more guests, which meant a larger bar bill to be paid.   Plus food.   We had an open bar.   The Guinness people also informed us that when you have an open bar, Irish law requires that you provide food for however many guests you are anticipating, as a measure against drunkenness.  Not bowls of pretzels or finger food either, but meals.  And we did just that, with several food stations throughout the party serving sausages and Irish stew and other substantial eats, and waiters circulating with smoked salmon, pigs in blankets, etc.   A larger space would have meant ordering sufficient additional food to feed the new maximum capacity, at substantial additional cost.   And Dublin, we had learned, is an expensive city.   The Guinness Storehouse was not the largest venue we had ever used, but it was definitely the most expensive.   This year’s party cost almost twice as much as last year’s bash in San Jose).

Which brings me, finally, to The Night, and how things went wrong.

The party was on the second floor of the Storehouse.   Just inside the entrance, on the ground floor, was an escalator to the party floor, and an elevator for those unable to use an escalator.   For the past three years, the following year’s Worldcon has assisted me with the Hugo Losers Party.  This year it was our friends from New Zealand.   In addition to a cash contribution to help defray the expenses of the party, CoNZealand provided the desserts (as previously mentioned), and people to man the door.  Guinness had its own people on the door, of course, but as in past years, I also wanted fans there, someone who might recognize a Hugo loser or BNF or editor if they showed up without an invite.   The Kiwis also had gifts for all the Hugo nominees, winners and losers both, a tradition that sprung up some time during the long years when I wasn’t doing the party.   To reach the escalator/ elevator and the party floor, arriving guests had to pass the door just off the parking area, where the Kiwis were checking invitations and Guinness had stationed a man with a counter who was clicking every guest as they entered to keep an exact count.   The Kiwis also set up at the top of the escalator, where they were giving the nominees their gifts as they went by, and putting funny hats on the winners.   (We do allow winners to attend the Hugo Losers Party, but only if they don a conehead or chicken hat so they can be suitably mocked by the losers).   James Bacon and other members of the Dublin concom did attend the party, but had no role there save as guests, and should not be blamed for anything that happened thereafter.   I had four staff members with me at Worldcon… my minions, as I call them.  One minion was solely devoted to assisting my wife Parris, who was recovering from recent surgery and walking with a pair of canes.   The other three were assisting me with various aspects of the party; food, drink, photography, awards, what have you.  

The party was scheduled to open at 10:30 and run until 2:00, but the early birds started to arrive well before we opened the doors.   A few even got there before my staff.   They were turning up earlier than usual because they could not get into the awards ceremony.   (I do find it curious that, with all this Twitter talk about people being “turned away” from the Hugo Losers Party, no one is mentioning the far larger number of people turned away from the Hugos themselves.   I’ve been attending Worldcons since 1971, and in all those years all you ever needed to get into the Hugos was a con badge…  but this year, that was not enough.  You also needed to queue up and get a wristband.   As it happens, some people did not get that message, and others were unable or unwilling to queue).   Turned away from the Hugos, many of these people opted to grab taxis and hop over to Guinness instead.   Their numbers included editors, publishers, writers, long-time fans, past Hugo losers, past Worldcon GOHs, even a Grandmaster.   Some of the angry Twitterers seem to be suggesting that these early birds were cheating somehow or doing something underhanded, that they should not have been allowed at the party, etc.   Nonsense.  Yes, some turned up sooner than expected, but the vast majority of them had invitations, and all of them were welcome.

The awards themselves ran long.   I was the designated acceptor for two nominees who could not attend, but both of them lost, so there was no need for me to linger once the last Hugo had been presented.   I departed immediately, and grabbed a ride over to the Guinness, travelling with John Picacio and several of his ladies from the Mexicanx Initiative.  It was a little before 11:00 when we arrived, by which time the party was already hopping… though by no means overcrowded.   A lot of other guests were turning up as well, most coming straight from the conference center by cab.   The minibus we had chartered made its first delivery around the same time, then turned around and headed back to collect more.   Once on the scene, I went up to the second floor and stayed there for the rest of the night.   I was the host here, people wanted to see me and talk with me, there were a hundred party details to see to… my minions and I were kept very busy over that next hour.   All the while, more and more guests kept arriving, and the security guard down on the door kept clicking and clicking his counter.

Up on the second floor, I had no notion of what was happening down on the door, and even now I am not sure of the timing, but as best as I can determine sometime between 11:30 and 12:00, that counter hit 450, and the venue, as per their previously stated policy, informed us that no one else could be allowed in until some of those presently there left.   I was first informed of this just as I was about to take the stage to present the Alfies.   But even then I had no inkling of the magnitude of the problem.  I imagined a handful of latecomers waiting at the door.  Maybe our minibus had turned up with twenty new guests.  But I knew from past years that once I announced the Alfies, people would start to leave, so I figured the new arrivals would get in soon enough.

But there was something I didn’t know, something I did not find out until twenty/thirty minutes later.   It seems that there was some sort of major sporting event in Dublin that evening (forgive me, I am spotty on the details).   When our friends from New Zealand heard of this, they were concerned that taxicabs might be scarce on the ground, making it difficult for people to reach the Storehouse… so, with the very best of intent, and entirely at their own expense, they chartered two buses to carry guests from the conference center to the Storehouse.   These were not minibuses, like the one I had shuttling back and forth, but full size buses, each capable of carrying 80 people.  My own staff knew nothing of CoNZealand’s generous gesture until far too late… but the upshot was, just as the venue was reaching its maximum capacity, two big buses came lumbering into the parking area and disgorged something like 150 people in rapid succession. 

I was up in the middle of the party during this, so I cannot speak with any certainty as to precisely what happened next.  From what I have been able to gather, a few people from the first bus were admitted before the counter hit 450.  The rest were stopped and told the venue had reached capacity.   Who was on the door at that point?  I don’t have names.  What precisely did they say?  I don’t know that either.   How many people in the crowd at the door did they speak to?  Did someone stand on a chair and make an announcement to the crowd, was it handled more individually?   I don’t know.    I don’t doubt that the people on the door said, “You can’t go in” or some variant thereof.  That was, in fact, the case.  I doubt very much that this was all they said, however.   I would hope that they also added the word “now” and explained the reasons.   “You can’t go in now, we are at capacity, but as soon as some people leave, you will be welcome to enter.”   That’s what should have been said.   With such a large number of people descending on them all at once demanding entrance, however, it is possible that the fans on the door felt overwhelmed and defensive.   If any of them were rude or dismissive, that should not have happened, and I am deeply sorry for it.   By the same token, however, I would hope that the new arrivals were patient and understanding, once the situation had been explained to them, and that they treated the folks on the door with courtesy.   None of this was the fault of the fans who had agreed to man the door.   They were doing what they had to, to prevent the party from being shut down.   They were obeying what we were told was the law.

What happened outside after that gets a bit murky.   Some guests hailed a cab and went back to their hotels, or to a bar, or to another party.   Others waited patiently for admission.   At least one person decided the world needed to hear of this outrage and began to tweet furiously from the parking lot.   Meanwhile, inside the party, I climbed on stage and asked for quiet.  I had the Alfies to present, but before that I made a couple of announcements.   One of the guests had her service animal with her and requested that I ask the partiers not to pet, feed, or step on her dog.   I was glad to do so.  I also reported that we had some people outside who could not get in because we had reached capacity, who would be admitted when space permitted… but I didn’t want anyone thinking I was kicking them out, so I also said that no one had to leave unless they wanted to.   Then I presented well-deserved awards to two giants of British publishing, Jane Johnson and Malcolm Edwards.   Each of them said a few words, then the band began playing again, the party resumed, and the servers started serving cakes.  

And people began to leave.   Just as I had anticipated.   Just as they had in previous years.   Some guests always leave after the cake.  

As they left, the people outside began to be admitted.

Not all at once, no.   There were a lot of people outside.   No one ever gave me a number, but the Guinness guard with the counter was keeping track as guests came and went.   For every person who left, a person was admitted.   If ten people left, ten were let in.   All the time keeping the count at 450.   This was exactly what should have happened, given these circumstances, and most of those waiting for admission were happy enough once the line started moving again… but not everyone.   The finalist who had first started blasting us on Twitter, angry that he was denied entrance, seemed to become even angrier when the door admitted thirty people… on the grounds that more than thirty were waiting, and somehow this was ‘playing Hunger Games.’   Well, no.   I have heard no reports of death matches in the parking lot.   Thirty people had departed, so thirty were admitted.  The rest would also be admitted when more guests took their leave.

And here’s the important thing, the crucial fact that none of the Twitter reports seem to mention: eventually everyone who waited got in.  They had to wait, yes, and I am sorry for that, and it should not have happened, and a number of mistakes were made, most by me.   But my minions and the Kiwis, and even the Guinness folk, did everything they possibly could under the circumstances, and sometime between 12:30 and 12:45, they cleared that parking area.   Yes, a certain percentage of those denied entry had left, some departing with a shrug and others with a snarl, but those who simply waited were all admitted eventually and were able to enjoy the last hour and a quarter of the party.   There was still food, there was still cake, the band was still playing, people were dancing, talking, and mocking the winners in their funny hats.    New guests were still arriving even then by taxi and minibus.   Anyone who arrived after 1:00 am walked right in.    And by the way, some of the people who had to wait were among my oldest and dearest friends.   I’ve known Joe and Gay Haldeman since my first con in 1971.  They arrived, could not get in, and chose to head back to their hotel.   The next day they joked with me about it; no anger, no recriminations, they had seen overcrowded parties before.   Ellen Datlow edited some of my most famous stories during her years at OMNI.   She was stopped at the door, but she waited, and was finally admitted, and I ran into her inside the party around 1:00 am.   She seemed to be enjoying herself.     The same was true of Pat Cadigan, another old friend.   Pat had a cane, and when the folks on the door saw that, she was offered a chair while she waited.    Mary Robinette Kowal did not have to wait.   She arrived late enough that she could just walk right in, once she’d donned her stupid hat.  That was true for everyone who arrived after 12:45 (except for the part about the funny hat).  The circumstances were trying for everyone, but my minions and the Kiwis did their best to make things right.   They do not deserve to be vilified.   A mistake was made, that was all.   There was never any intention to slight or mistreat anyone. 

That’s the story.  Guests who came early walked right in.   Guests who came late walked right in.   Some guests who arrived at the party’s peak, where the crush was at its thickest, had to wait outside for a period of time.  Not fun, I know.   I hate waiting myself.   But the same thing happens every weekend at nightclubs all across the country.  It’s not anything anyone wanted to happen… but it is not the same as saying “droves of nominees were turned away,” as some people are saying on Twitter.  (Mostly people who were not there, repeating third hand tales).   That’s just wrong.   For all its problems, for all the mistakes and miscommunications, the 2019 Hugo Losers Party was overall a great success.   A lot more went right than went wrong.   When all the coming and going is taken into account, we welcomed more than 600 guests, we fed them and plied them with Guinness Stout and other adult beverages (and soft drinks as well). We had Irish dancers, a band, two professional photographers taking pictures, a caricature artist, little cakes, and an Alfie presentation.   We provided free transportation… and CoNZealand provided a lot more of same.    My minions worked for months planning the event, and even harder on the night.   So did the Kiwis.    To see them being pilloried on Twitter just confirms the sad fact that no good deed goes unpunished.   They deserve some thanks instead.  

That being said… I need to clear up some misconceptions.

Some of those in the parking area who were not allowed to enter were finalists who had lost Hugo awards that night.    That made them Hugo losers, certainly.   And as nominees, all of them had party invitations, supplied to them in their registration materials by Dublin 2019.   But much of the outrage about what happened seems to have its root in a mistaken belief that this was their party,  intended to “honor” or “celebrate” them, that it was being staged “for” them, that they should have been given preference over everyone else, an assertion that just reeks of entitlement.  Some Twitterers have even gone so far to suggest which other guests should have been thrown out to make room for them.   Eva Whitley Chalker, for instance, suggests we should have tossed out “Tor’s staff & the herd from Locus.”   No.  Just no.  LOCUS has been part of the Hugo Losers Party since the beginning; Charlie Brown was at the first one in 1976 and wrote after that it was the best party at the con, and I gave LOCUS a well-deserved Alfie in 2016.  I am not tossing out Tor either… nor Orion, nor Voyager, nor Random House, nor any other editor or publisher.   Nor any of my other invited guests.  (And yes, I dared to invite some GAME OF THRONES cast members, an Irish filmmaker and actress, a Broadway producer, and other friends of mine own, some not even members of the con, to the party I organized and paid for.  Shocking, I know.  How dare I).   All of them had just as much right to attend as any of the people on the bus.   They got there earlier, so they got in.   If they had arrived later, they would have been the ones who had to wait outside.  You cannot get more fair than that.

The Hugo Losers Party is not intended to honor or celebrate the current year’s cop of Hugo finalists or exalt them above all others.  

Never has been, never will be, not so long as I am throwing the party.    LOSERS WELCOME.  WINNERS WILL BE MOCKED.   NO ASSHOLES.   That’s how our invitations have read since 2015.   There is not a word about the current year’s nominees or finalists.

Gardner Dozois and I threw the first party at my room at MidAmericon in 1976, with stale pretzels and leftover booze scrounged from other parties, but we’d been Hugo Losers long before that.   The first time I lost, in 1974, Gardner inducted me into the “Hugo Losers Club” by chanting “one of us, one of us” from Todd Browning’s FREAKS.   The next year, when I won, he threw me out (of our fictive ‘club,’ there was no party).    But he let me back in again.   “Once a Hugo Loser, always a Hugo Loser,” he said.  

The party is not just for the 2019 Hugo losers… it’s for the people who lost last year and the year before, or ten years ago, it’s for the guy who was nominated in 1963 and never again.   And it’s for winners too, at least those with a sense of humor (see Alfie Bester, for whom my award is named).  And for editors, and publishers, and the smofs and conrunners who work so hard putting on these cons.   The new losers, the guys and gals who lost for the first time this year, are certainly welcome… but they are joining a community, a battered brotherhood of defeat.  Every year at the party I have a handful of HUGO LOSER ribbons, and I am always delighted to give one to someone who has just lost for the first time.   Most of these virgins (with a couple of exceptions) are delighted to receive it.   There’s a sense, as Gargy put it so long ago, that they are now “one of us, one of us,” welcome at our party.   That does not mean it is now their party, and that everyone else should get the hell out.

For what it’s worth, there IS a party that honors the current year’s nominees, and them alone.   That’s the reception that is held before the Hugos.   Only nominees, presenters, and acceptors are allowed into that party.   I’ve seen multiple Hugo winners, past Worldcon GOHs, even SFWA Grandmasters turned away from these receptions if they were not on the list.   The Dublin reception was very nice.   Lots of drink, some tasty hors d’oevres, nominees were lauded and had their pictures taken and were escorted out to reserved seats in the auditorium.   That was the party for the 2019 finalists.   My party is for them and a lot of other losers, who have just as much a right to be there as they do.   And it is my party.   Gardner and I started it in 1976 and I ran it (in borrowed hotel suites for the most part, since a single hotel room no longer sufficed) for the better part of a decade.   Since Parris and I revived the party in 2015, well… Random House covered the bar one year.   This year, Harper Collins Voyager chipped in some pounds for that, and CoNZealand provided our door staff, the cakes, and some money as well.   The San Jose Worldcon helped in Helsinki, and the Dublin Worldcon helped in San Jose, but mostly it is me and my wife and our minions doing this. 

Parties were once the heart and soul of Worldcon, but more and more they are becoming an endangered species.   Con hotels shut down room parties at the least excuse, or don’t allow them in the first place, or restrict them to a single floor.   Hall parties have become extinct, and publisher parties, what few still exist, are hot, noisy, and even more overcrowded than that Losers Party at Helsinki.   But this field has been very good to me, and I am a firm believer in the idea of giving something back to the community I’ve been a part of for all of my adult life.    That’s something I would like to continue to do, but this year’s experience has made it plain that any future parties face real challenges.   No one wants this to happen again.   But how to prevent it?  

There are two easy, glib answers to that: hire larger venues, or invite fewer people.   But there are problems with both those solutions.   The number of Hugo Losers keeps growing.   Even if we stop adding new categories, this year’s losers will still be around next year… and a whole bunch of new virgins will be joining them.   I cannot just keep booking larger and larger venues, and providing ever increasing amounts of food and drink.   That road ends with me booking the Superdome for some future New Orleans Worldcon.   But inviting fewer people is not so simple either.   Who gets cut?  Yes, we can be harder at the door with the guests who turn up with a plus four instead of a plus one, but that alone won’t make much impact.   Do I drop the two “not a Hugo” categories?   Ban the winners instead of just putting them in funny hats?   Stop inviting my own friends and fans and colleagues?   I don’t think so.

When I revived the Hugo Losers Party in 2015, for some years there had been a “Post Hugo Nominees Reception” run by the following year’s Worldcon.   At LonCon, the party thrown by the Spokane people was so pathetic that I decided to get back in the game.   At Spokane, however, Kansas City still had their party, and at Kansas City, Helsinki threw one.   Those two parties ran concurrently with my own, though mine tended to keep going after the other had shut down.  For Helsinki, however, the San Jose people reached out and suggested we merge parties, and I agreed.  So San Jose helped with our Helsinki party, and Dublin joined me for San Jose, and CoNZealand this year.   But maybe the merger was a mistake.   Maybe, going forward, we should embrace the “two party solution.”   Two parties running concurrently would divide the crowd and make overcrowding much less likely.   It might even spur future Worldcons to put a little more time, effort, and money into the “official” party, so dismal affairs like the LonCon party would not reoccur.   Is that the answer?  I guess I need to talk to Washington, see how they feel.

 One thing you can bet on.   I am not going to rent the bloody Superdome.

Pixel Scroll 8/30/19 The Past Is Long And Full Of Writers

(1) BACK IN THE SHED. The tower for Artemis is being hauled under cover: “Kennedy Space Center bracing for Hurricane Dorian”.

NASA civil servants and contractors at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are bracing for high winds and rain from Hurricane Dorian. Ahead of the storm, they are securing rocket stages, spacecraft assembly areas and even hauling a 6.7-million-pound mobile launch tower, designed for the huge rocket being built for the Artemis moon program, back to the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building for safekeeping.

The 355-foot-tall gantry structure, carried atop a squat Apollo-era crawler-transporter, is scheduled to begin the 4.2-mile trip from launch complex 39B back to the protection of the VAB at dawn Friday — a journey that’s expected to take more than eight hours to complete.

(2) DUBLIN UP. Two more Worldcon write-ups.

Noelle Ameijenda, in “The Fantastic comes Home”, tells how she juggled attending and working the con:

Thursday (15th August) was the first full day – I spent a while in the morning doing some running for the Chair’s office  – up and down the elevator with bits and pieces – highly important bits and pieces, of course! Then I got to attend two brilliant panels –  ‘Invasions and the Irish Imagination’ and ‘When scientists write science fiction’ – before a quick bite for lunch with my friend Karina, and then a 3-hour Writers’ Workshop with the amazing Diane Duane. What was great about this workshop was the amazing DD, and the other fantastic participants – I made 2 lovely new friends  – Eliana all the way from Paraguay, and Caoilfhionn from Kilkenny – we hung out at the bar lots together. There was an ‘interesting’ bit in the middle of the workshop when I was terribly rude and had to answer a phone call from my Featured Artist, Jim, who was having technical difficulties at his presentation – SO SO sorry to interrupt the flow of the workshop, but we got it sorted.  The opening ceremony then was great, including the Retro Hugos. And seeing 3 members of my (real-life, work) company onstage with the rousing choir at the close : ‘where the strawberry fields…’.

Sara at Not Another Book Blogger penned one of the sweetest conreports I ever saw: “Dublin 2019 My First WorldCon”. Lots of photos of her and her kids.

GRRM The Irish Connection with Colm Lundberg (Moderator) William Simpson, Peadar O’Guilin and Parris McBride Martin. It was a really enjoyable panel on their Irish Connections and great to have it confirmed that Westeros is indeed a map of Ireland upside down!

Afterwards he walked right by me and I said hello which is probably the closest I’ll ever get to him! We got chatting with William Simpson who is absolutely lovely, very passionate about climate change as is Abigail. William drew all of the storyboards for Game of Thrones and while we were chatting he drew a dragon for Abigail in her notebook! So very cool.

(3) NEXT YEAR’S WORLDCON. CoNZealand invites everyone to view their promotional video from the Dublin 2019 closing ceremony, featuring their Author Guests of Honour, Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, NZ Artist Guest of Honour, Greg Broadmore, and special guests, Tania Taylor, Sir Richard Taylor, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern.

(4) KEEP COOL WITH THE CREW. Don’t we all need one of these for Christmas? — “Star Stre V Auto Sun Shades”.

(5) THANK YOU. Mike Resnick posted another update to his GoFundMe “Help Mike Resnick pay off a near-death experience”.

“I just want to thank all the people who have contributed to my GoFundMe appeal. I’m still weak, but I can walk about 50 feet without a cane or a walker. Carol and I have been overwhelmed by your numbers, and by the absolute love we read in your messages. I’m back to work — not as fast as I’d wish — but I did sell 3 short stories in the last two weeks, so at least you know your good wishes and outporing of affection aren’t going into a black hole. I have been moved beyond belief.”

The donations passed $19,000 today.

(6) ROBOTS AND KNIGHTS. Jewish in Seattle recently published two items of interest to Filers. The first is a short story entitled “Next Year In” by Merridawn Duckler. It won the magazine’s short story competition.

…The day of Team meeting for the spring robot fashion launch, it was raining hard. Other protectorates have man-made precipitation but here in New Cascadia we still have the real thing, from little eyelash dusters, to the full, sideways sliding downpour. I like real rain. I’ve experienced the human-made stuff and it’s just not the same; too uniform, each drop perfect, dries too fast. Plus, it stops. Still, I complain about the rain like everyone else. The last thing we need is for more people to emigrate here…. 

The second is “How Yiddish Writers Influenced Arthurian Legend” by Emily Boynton, a non-fiction article.

…And Yiddish? One Arthurian figure, Wigalois, has piqued the interest of Annegret Oehme, a University of Washington assistant professor of Germanics who specializes in pre-modern literatures and languages. She argues that the story of Wigalois (pronounced vee-gah-loy) is an intercultural production between medieval German and Jewish societies. Not only does Wigalois appear in Yiddish, but Oehme argues that it interacted with and influenced Germanic versions of the story.

“It’s really important to see that the Jewish community was familiar with courtly literature, they participated with transmission, and didn’t just read and produce religious texts,” Oehme says.

The son of prominent Arthurian knight Gawain, Wigalois grows up in a fairylike land with his mother before setting off to find his father in Camelot. While at court, he accepts the quest of a maiden seeking aid for her kingdom, which is under siege. Battling dragons and giants along the way, Wigalois successfully defeats the usurper and frees the kingdom, becomes a knight, and marries a princess.

The tale packs enough action for an HBO series, yet Oehme argues the real stakes of the story lie in what it tells us about early modern Yiddish culture….

(7) HINES’ SAD ANNOUNCEMENT. Jim C. Hines told Facebook readers that his wife, Amy, died yesterday after a nine-month fight with cancer. Read more on Facebook.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 30, 1797 Mary Shelley. Author of the Gothic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus which I’ll admit that I’ve not read. Who here has read it? It certainly has spawned a multiverse of novels and films since it came, some quite good, some quite bad. (Died 1851.)
  • Born August 30, 1896 Raymond Massey. In 1936, he starred in Things to Come, a film adaptation by H.G. Wells of his own novel The Shape of Things to Come. Other than several appearances on Night Gallery forty years later, that’s it for genre appearances. (Died 1983.)
  • Born August 30, 1942 Judith Moffett, 77. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award  with her story “Surviving” and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the Nolacon II for her Pennterra novel. Asimov wrote an introduction for the book and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series. 
  • Born August 30, 1943 Robert Crumb, 76. He’s here because ISFDB lists him as the illustrator of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick which is likely they say an interview that Dick did with Gregg Rickman and published in Rickman’s The Last Testament. They’re also listing the cover art for Edward Abby’s The Monkey Wrench Gang as genre but that’s a very generous definition of genre.
  • Born August 30, 1955 Jeannette Holloman. She was one of the founding members of the Greater Columbia Costumers Guild and she was a participant at masquerades at Worldcon, CostumeCon, and other conventions. Her costumes were featured in The Costume Makers Art and Thread magazine. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 30, 1963 Michael Chiklis, 56. He was The Thing in two first Fantastic Four films, and Jim Powell on the the No Ordinary Family series which I’ve never heard of.  He was on American Horror Story for its fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show as Dell Toledo. The following year he was cast as Nathaniel Barnes, in the second season of Gotham, in a recurring role. And he voiced Lt. Jan Agusta in Heavy Gear: The Animated Series
  • Born August 30, 1965 Laeta Kalogridis, 54. She was an executive producer of the short-lived excellent Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like.
  • Born August 30, 1967 Frederique van der Wal, 52. She appeared in exactly one genre film — Wild Wild West as Amazonia. Oh well. 
  • Born August 30, 1972 Cameron Diaz, 47. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she’s an uncredited Bus passengers in Minority Report. Oh and she’s Lenore Case in the cringingly awful Green Hornet.
  • Born August 30, 1980 Angel Coulby, 39. She is best known as Gwen (Guinevere) in the BBC’s Merlin. She also shows up in Doctor Who as Katherine in the “The Girl in the Fireplace”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also voices Tanusha ‘Kayo’ Kyrano in the revived Thunderbirds Are Go.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Incidental Comics by Grant Snider – “Reader’s Block”

(10) TIPTREE AWARD NAME CHALLENGED. According to the award’s Motherboard, they’ve taken under advisement a request to drop the name because in her last acts the author shot her invalid husband before killing herself.

(11) SUPERREALISM. In “Review: The Boys (Amazon)”, Camestros Felapton indicates the show suffers from certain inconsistencies in storytelling.

…Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) is a young man whose girlfriend is brutally killed accidentally by the superhero A-Train — a Flash like superhero whose superspeed essentially explodes Campbell’s girlfriend in front of him. This early scene sets the confused tone of the series: gory, comical and shocking, with events often set up like jokes but then played out for emotional impact.

A distraught Hughie is recruited by Billy Butcher — Karl Urban sporting the accent he used as Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok. Butcher is a foul-mouthed cockney rogue CIA agent on his own personal mission of revenge against the seven….

(12) WAVING HELLO. NPR reports “After Months In A Dish, Lab-Grown Minibrains Start Making ‘Brain Waves'”

By the time a fetus is 6 months old, it is producing electrical signals recognizable as brain waves.

And clusters of lab-grown human brain cells known as organoids seem to follow a similar schedule, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

“After these organoids are in that six-to-nine-months range, that’s when [the electrical patterns] start to look a lot like what you’d see with a preterm infant,” says Alysson Muotri, director of the stem cell program at the University of California, San Diego.

The finding suggests that organoids can help scientists study the earliest phase of human brain development and perhaps reveal the earliest biological beginnings of conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.

But the presence of humanlike brain waves in a dish is also likely to focus attention on the ethical questions surrounding this sort of research.

(13) SAUCE FOR THE GANDER. “Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey has account hacked” – BBC has the story.

The co-founder and chief executive of Twitter had his own account on the service briefly taken over by hackers.

A group referring to itself as the Chuckling Squad said it was behind the breach of Jack Dorsey’s account.

The profile, which has more than four million followers, tweeted out a flurry of highly offensive and racist remarks for about 15 minutes.

Twitter said its own systems were not compromised, instead blaming an unnamed mobile operator.

(14) SHERLOCKIAN FALLACY. BBC details “The two illusions that tricked Arthur Conan Doyle”.

Two real-life hoaxes managed to fool the creator of Sherlock Holmes – and they help to reveal our own ‘metacognitive illusions’ that influence our memory and perception.

On 21 March 1919, a committee including a paranormal investigator, a viscountess, a mind reader, a Scotland Yard detective, and a coroner were all assembled in a small flat in Bloomsbury, London. “I have spent years performing with fake mediums all over the world in order to disprove spiritualism,” declared their host. “Now at last, I have come across a genuine medium.”

The woman who entered the room was wearing a veil that concealed the lower half of her face. She began with a séance which involved a demonstration of “clairvoyance”. Each member of the committee had been instructed to bring with them a small personal item or written letter. Before the medium arrived all the objects were placed into a bag, which was then locked inside a box.

The medium held the locked box in her lap, and while the committee watched carefully, she proceeded to not only name the objects within, but to describe them in vivid detail. She divined that one of the objects was a ring belonging to the deceased son of the paranormal investigator, and even read the faded inscription.

…The creator of Sherlock Holmes declared that he was highly impressed with the clairvoyant demonstration, although he said he would need to see the ghost again before he would attest to its paranormality.

Today, Conan Doyle is best known for his detective stories, but the good doctor was also an illustrious paranormal investigator who often failed to see the frauds in front of his eyes. He famously fell for the photographs of the Cottingley Fairies, for instance, faked by two children – Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright. He attended séances, too. As a spiritualist, Conan Doyle also asserted that he witnessed mediums make direct contact with the spirits of the dead.

…Conan Doyle’s reactions to these hoaxes are clearly problematic, but they are also an illustration of psychological phenomena known as “metacognitive illusions”.

“Metacognition” is the idea of thinking about thinking. By extension, metacognitive illusions occur when people hold mistaken beliefs about their own cognitive systems. We all tend to feel like we are experts about the nature of our own perceptions and memories. After all, we generally perceive things and remember things successfully throughout most of our day-to-day lives. However, in many cases our intuitions about our own cognitive systems can be surprisingly unreliable – we are not always nearly as observant as we think we are and our memories can be surprisingly malleable.

(15) TERMINATOR, BUT NEVER THE END. Yahoo! Entertainment: “Linda Hamilton delivers a classic ‘Terminator’ line in new ‘Dark Fate’ trailer”.

In case there were any lingering doubts, Sarah Connor is most definitely back. Reprising her signature role for the first time in nearly 30 years, Linda Hamilton asserts her authority in the latest trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate by delivering the franchise’s most famous line … you know the one. (Watch the trailer.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Tolan, Jerry Kaufman, and Chip Hitchcock, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask — Special Irish Worldcon Edition, Day Five

DAY FIVE

By Chris M. Barkley: Author’s Note: This column is being written on the day after our return from Ireland. Because, time travel. AND jet lag.

Field Notes

  • BREAKING NEWS: I received a text from John and incredibly, Carole’s wallet was FOUND with all of the contents intact. I immediately spread the news on the Dublin 2019 Irish WorldCon Community Group and on my own page. I hope the details on who found it and where it was lost will be forthcoming. Needless to say, there was much rejoicing in the land this day!
  • Dublin has a taxi service called FreeNow, which, I have come to discover, is neither. I was considering filing a suit with the World Trade Organization but HEY, Carole’s wallet was found, so forgetaboutit…
  • Neither the flatmates nor myself have turned on the tv since we’ve been here. And we’re good with that.
  • My Irish flatmate Peter has sadly informed me that Hurling is a sport that does not involve vomiting on a professional level. I told him I was very relieved to hear this because the programmers at Fox Sports do not need any encouragement…
  • I do regret not getting to John Scalzi’s incredibly danceable DJ session Saturday night. It probably would have annoyed him if I had pestered him all night requesting Manchester (UK) bands like The Stone Roses, The Smiths, 808 State, Inspiral Carpets, Swing Out Sisters, Simply Red, Oasis, The Chemical Brothers, Electronic, The Mothmen, The Mindbenders, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Charlatans, The Happy Mondays, New Order, Elbow, The Fall, The Courteeners and The Drones but not Bauhaus. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a great band, but from Northampton. Sorry.
  • Women and people of color and of alternate and non-conforming genders dominated the Hugo Awards for the umpteenth year in a row. Bravo. There must have been much squealing of horror from the basements of cis-gendered nerd boys last evening. White men had dominated fantasy and sf awards for decades so I am not feeling too sorry that other folks are in the ascendance right now. I am reminded of what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked in 2010, “How many women would be enough on the Supreme Court?” She replied, “Nine, nine… There have been nine men there for a long, long time, right? So why not nine women?”

I began the day solo because Juli had been hit with a double play of a sinus infection and a migraine brought on by the raising and lowering of the house lights during the Hugo Award Ceremony. As such, she remained in bed for most of the day.

Both Juli and I had one big regret out trip; that we hadn’t had time to very much sightseeing beyond the city. But, as I was walking about the city and looking at all of the people from different countries, cultures and languages, all working and living in this big, bustling cauldron of humanity felt like a more worldly, more cosmopolitan city than my own home town. I was both humbled and awed by the city of Dublin. 

As I was crossing the drawbridge, I saw an older woman of indeterminate heritage, sitting off to the right side of the walkway with a dixie cup of with a few coins in it.. I stopped in front of her.

Several weeks ago, while looking through a grocery trash can for losing lottery tickets (which could be redeemed for state lottery prizes), I saw a gleaming flash coming from the bottom. I reached in and pulled out a one Euro coin. My thought was that it was brought back to the US by a tourist and was used to rub lottery scratch off tickets and was either accidentally or deliberately thrown away.

But here I am, an American with an honest to god Euro and I was going to an honest to god country in the European Union. Right there and then, I vowed to make sure that this little Euro went home where it belongs.

And there I was on the bridge. I took that Euro and another coin out of my wallet. I leaned over and she smiled and held her cup up. “ I found this coin my country,” I said to her as I put the coins in her cup, “and I am just returning it to its home.” 

The woman gave me a broad smile and said something that was unintelligible to me but to me it felt both grateful and heartfelt. I wish I had given her more but the only thing I had left at this point in the trip were a few American bills, which would have been problematic for her to exchange. I walked on, hoping for the best for her. When I returned later, she was gone.

There was a Sunday session of the Business Meeting but I decided to skip it for reasons that will become very clear in my final report. 

I checked the schedule of remaining items and there was nothing of interest as far as I was concerned. So I made a beeline for the fan exhibit/dealer’s room. I had only been through the room once before and since I had a limited amount of space and weight allowance for our one suitcase and I wanted to buy at least one thing while I was in Dublin. 

Joe Scilari, Edie Stern and Boston superfan Mark Olson were manning the Fanac.org table and they proudly informed me that over 3500 pages of information had been uploaded to be archived, a tremendous success for the organization.

Edie Stern, Joe Siclari and Mark Olson at the Fanac.org table

If you are unfamiliar with Fanac, their website says:

“This site is devoted to the preservation and distribution of information about science fiction and science fiction fandom. There are fanzines, photos, and all sorts of strange and wonderful information about fandom’s past… 

So, check it out sometime.

While making my way to the New Zealand bid table, I wandered too close to the Chicago in 2022 table and was beckoned over by Dave McCarty, who was sporting the most garishly red Grateful Dead shirt I have ever seen.

Mr. McCarty specifically called me over for the expressed purpose of explaining, in passionate, excruciating detail, why the US Women’s Soccer team was being wrongheaded in their approach to their lawsuit against FIFA for equal pay. 

I will not go into detail about what his arguments were (if you were to contact him directly, I am quite sure he would be MORE than happy to lay out all of the evidence for you) but I conceded that he may have a point, which seemed to satisfy him (for now). And before you all label Mr. McCarty merely a sexist “mansplainer”, I want you to know that he is the father of a daughter and he desperately WANTS them to achieve to goal of being paid on an equal basis as the men’s team.

I also had the good fortune of being present when Mr. McCarty presented his lovely eight-year-old daughter, Mia, with her convention gift, a replica version of Hermione Granger’s wand. 

Dave McCarty and Mia

My next stop was the CoNZealand table where I checked on the price for a pair of supporting memberships. One of the staff members (whose name, unfortunately, I did not record) was utterly delighted to see my “Saint” symbol button and told he about how she obtained a rare copy of the original Leslie Charteris novel Meet The Tiger and how she was lucky enough to get it autographed by the late Sir Roger Moore!

Speaking of which, I had my phone out to check on my Paypal balance when I was approached by a fan named, wait for it…JAMES BOND, who asked me for some help finding a program item on Dublin’s online Worldcon app, Grenadine.

“One moment please,” I said as I put my phone down and reached into my crossbody bag for the printed pocket program book.

“Here you go. I’m analog today, not digital.” Mr. Bond got a good laugh out of that remark. For the record, I did NOT expect him to die…laughing. Just Sayin’.

When I finally got around to shopping the dealer tables, I caught sight of a book that I was very interested in; Farrah Mendelsohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein,  a deep, unflinchingly and critical look analyzing his fiction and non-fiction and how he influenced science fiction literature. 

While I was buying the book, I was reunited with my fellow File 770 reporter, Daniel Dern. We were also joined briefly by one of Dublin’s Special Guests, Spider Robinson and his “driver”, writer and comedian Stephan Herman. Spider had trouble remembering me until I reminded him that I had scored some pot for him and his late wife Jeanne at the 1994 Worldcon in Winnipeg, Canada. Ah good times. Also, yay for the statute of limitations.

Spider told me he had a fantastic time in Dublin and was very excited to sit down with a local genealogist while he was there. “ I have learned more about my family in that one hour than I ever did from the rest of my family during my life,“ he gushed.

Spider Robinson

I went back to our flat to check on Juli around 3:30. She was feeling well enough to go to the Closing Ceremonies at 4:30, but I wanted to take a short nap myself.

This decision proved to be a bad idea because Juli, thinking that I wasn’t getting enough sleep  on this trip, let me sleep in until 4:15. 

We rushed to the auditorium but the ceremony was already under way and we arrived in time to see George R.R. Martin and his partner Parris McBride on stage, accepting a Committee Award from Chair James Bacon for his contributions to Fandom and the Dublin bid in particular. I was saddened to see Ms. McBride in a neck brace and I sincerely hope she recovers soon.

I was surprised and happy to see that Dublin had recruited the creator of Artemis Fowl, Eowin Colfer, as the Host of Closing Ceremonies. Soon enough, Mr. Bacon took to the stage to thank the convention committee, his staff and volunteers and finally the fans who attended, to make it a memorable experience for everyone.

Chair James Bacon and the volunteers

Memorable? Indeed it was, But I can assure everyone reading this that the Dublin convention will be studied, scrutinized and autopsied more closely than any other recent Worldcon due to the cutoff of the sale of attending memberships weeks before the start of the convention, the size of the venue, the imposition of queuing lines by the owners of the convention center and the confusion they caused between the staff, volunteers and the attending fans. But, it’s Worldcon. It’s a certainty that things WILL go wrong and there will be some embarrassments and obstacles to overcome. People may have been angered over some incidents and inconvenienced by others but in the long run, the only thing that matters is that everyone survived and no one died. Having gone the 29 Worldcons now, I can attest to that).

After the gavel was symbolically passed to the New Zealand bid via interpretive dance and acrobatics, Juli and I headed over the The Drunken Fish for a celebratory dinner with Wyn, Liz, our flatmates Anna and Peter and our Australian fans, Susan and Grahame. As usual, I ordered too much food but, in the spirit of detente between the US and Ireland, I finished it all. Except for the extra helping of kimchi someone passed my way. There is only so much kimchi a person can take, I mean, c’mon man.

Wyn and Liz had been in country for nearly a week before everyone else arrived and took an extended driving tour of Ireland, visiting many castles along the way.

“Were any of the castles white?,” I asked Liz, who, thinking of the ubiquitous American fast food restaurant chain, broke out into a giggling fit. 

 As a matter of fact, we did see a white castle,” said Wyn in a very serious manner.

“Really?” I turned to Liz. “How was the food?” Liz collapsed in uncontrollable laughter. Mission accomplished. 

After dinner was consumed, we said goodbye to our dinner companions The flatmate squad then called a cab and traversed over to the southside of Dublin for a whiskey tasting at The Market Bar, the nicest looking hole-in-the-wall that I have ever seen in my life. Since I don’t drink spirits, I drank in the atmosphere and watched grown adults swoon over whiskey. Good times.

It took five tries but we were finally able to summoned a FreeNow cab (which, as I noted above, is neither) and we made our way back home.

While the flatmates recovered by chatting about their convention experiences, I began packing for the flight home, which was scheduled for 12:55 local time tomorrow.

As always, United Airlines advised us to get to the airport at least three hours in advance of the flight. Juli was particularly worried  about getting there early but hey, when we’ve flown in America, the wait time was usually a bogus ruse to get us there and buy stuff while we wait.

What could POSSIBLY go wrong, eh?   

Pixel Scroll 8/21/19 Soylent SFWA Is Made Of People

(1) BLUE PLAQUE SPECIAL. Once upon a time GRRM lived in Chicago, a fact not to be overlooked by anyone seeking a sweet price for the property. NBC Chicago lets you “See Inside: ‘GoT’ Creator George R.R. Martin’s Former Uptown Home is Up for Sale”.  Video here. Should Chicago ever adopt the British tradition of putting plaques outside the homes of famous people, maybe there will be one here?

It may not be in the Red Keep, but it was once a throne fit for George R.R. Martin.
The “Game of Thrones” creator spent four years living in an apartment in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Now, you can live there too – for $354,900.

The third-floor unit in the 900 block of West Margate Terrace on the North Side, where Martin lived from 1971 to 1975 along with several roommates, has hit the market. The three-bedroom condo is listed on Martin’s website as the home where he lived after getting his master’s degree from Northwestern.

“I say ‘three bedroom,’ but for our purposes there were five, once we put a bed in the dining room and another on the back porch,” he wrote. “The rent was $150 a month, after all. There was no way a bunch of guys just out of college could afford that without cramming.”

(2) WORLDCONS PAST AND FUTURE. Here’s video of the chairs introducing themselves at the 2019 Worldcon Chairs photo session.

(3) PRIZES FOR ALL. Well, what else did you expect The Mary Sue’s headline to be? “Everyone Who Contributed to Fanfiction Site “Archive of Our Own” Is Now a Hugo Award Winner”. Even though that claim isn’t repeated in the body of the article.

… But what set Tumblr, Twitter, Discord, and text chats alight across the world was the news that Archive of Our Own won the Hugo for Best Related Fanwork. This was the Archive’s first time being nominated, news initially treated as somewhat contentious by those who still don’t want to try and understand the vital, ever-growing, incredibly rich and variegated culture of fan-created work.

…Archive of Our Own’s win felt like a real victory for millions of us who write and create fanart, videos, podfic, meta essays, and more. It sure is nice to have that shiny rocket statue and acknowledgment from one of the most prestigious award-giving bodies in genre fiction that we are here and crafting wondrous things.

(4) ADJOURNED SINE DIE. Chris Barkley has posted what seems to be his farewell address to the WSFS business meeting:

…To the members of the Business meeting and the SMOFs mailing list I say this: I thank you for your advice and patience. Your vigilance in protection of the Constitution and the Hugo Awards has been long and admirable. But your seeming officiousness, proof of worthiness, over reliance on years and years of committee studies are your weakness. These things scare and alienate fans from engaging in the process. While it was all good and well to fast track the Best Fancast and Best Series categories, it was done at the expense of the Young Adult Award, which lingered for years before it was decided to give it a trial and only then as something other than a Hugo category. The BM has proven itself to be nimble to act when we were threatened by the Puppies and yet unable to debate the merits of a Best Game or Interactive Experience amendment after a year in committee and a detailed, sixty page report from its proponents. I implore you all to be more intuitive and take more risks and chances, especially with those who come before you for the first time.

To you, the members of this community who contemplating going to the Business Meeting or are loath to spend any amount of your precious Worldcon time attending these long, laborious meeting; if you do not approve of what is happening at the World Science Fiction Convention or with the WSFS Constitution and the Hugo Awards, there is no substitution for GETTING INVOLVED!. There are a lot of things I regret; not learning how to become a switch hitter in softball, learning to play a musical instrument or becoming bilingual. But every moment I spent the Business Meeting has been well spent. So go down to your independent/used bookstore or online and get a Roberts Rules of Order and jump into the action. If you don’t, you haven’t any damned right to bitch about it….

(5) ENTERING THE LISTS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The Hugo long-list has been announced. How does this compare with SF² Concatenation’s beginning-of-year suggestions as to the best SF works of 2019?  You may recall that at the beginning of each year the SF² Conatenation team members have a round-robin suggesting best works of the previous year and multiple citations of work get listed.  it is purely a bit of fun but over the years we have noticed that regularly a few of these go on to be nominated for major SF awards and in turn some of these turn out to be winner. 

All well and good but how did SF² Concatenation’s choice of best novels of 2019 compare with the Hugo long-list of top 16 Hugo titles for ‘best novel’ that made up its long-list? Well, the following of ours are in the Hugo long-list:

          Semiosis by Sue Burke (character-driven, exo-planet first contact)
          Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller (futuristic, post climate-apocalyptic world building)
          Before Mars by Emma Newman (off world, mundane-ish, new wave SF)
          Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor – also short-listed

Of those SF² Conatenation listed on the film (best dramatic presentation long-form) front the following were on the Hugo long list:

          Ant-Man and the Wasp (Trailer here)
          Incredibles 2 (Trailer here)
          A Quiet Place – also short-listed (Trailer here)
          Sorry to Bother You – also short-listed (Trailer here)
          Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – the winner (Trailer here)

Not bad for a bit of fun, though certainly not to be taken seriously. (We will have another team selection of our personal ‘bests’ with our spring edition to be posted in January (2020)).  Meanwhile, here are SF² Conatenation’s Best Science Fiction of Past Years.

(6) IN ALL THE PAPERS. Irish Times reporter Frank McNally ended up on a panel at the Dublin Worldcon: “Worldcon mad: a collision between science fiction and Flann O’Brien”

In a parallel universe, I may be an avid reader of science fiction. In this one, the genre has almost entirely eluded me. And yet on Thursday, through some warp in the space-time continuum, I found myself among the speakers on a panel at Worldcon 2019, an extraordinary event that has brought thousands of sci-fi enthusiasts to Ireland from all over the world.  If you see any strange-looking people wandering around Dublin this weekend, it’s them.

The subject of the panel was Flann O’Brien, formerly of this parish, whose work would not normally be described as science fiction, although it appears to have formed a bridge to that community. Crucial to this is his novel The Third Policeman, which revolves around the work of a mad scientist.  Among other things, it inspired part of the cult 2005 TV series, Lost, through which many of the world’s sci-fi enthusiasts first heard of its author.

“If you see any strange-looking people wandering around Dublin” – isn’t it reassuring that some things never seem to change, like the stereotypical view of SF fans among reporters?

However, the Irish Independent listened to George R.R. Martin: “‘Don’t forget history’, warns Games of Thrones author George RR Martin as he accepts Irish book award”.

The American creator of the hugely popular fantasy book and TV series said he appreciated that readers loved his fantasy writing, but urged people not to “neglect real history.”

He made the comments in a public interview at the GPO in Dublin this evening, where he was awarded the 2019 An Post International Recognition Award for his contribution to fantasy and science fiction writing over the past 40 years.

 “I’m glad so much of the world has fallen in love with my books and my TV show. But we’re living in perilous times, folks, in the US and UK and I’m sure it’s affecting every part of the world.

“Nothing is ever truer than those who do not know real history are doomed to repeat it.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 21, 1888 Miriam Allen deFord. Almost all of her genre fiction was published at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under the editorship of Anthony Boucher. It can be found in two collections, Xenogenesis and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow. Her “A Death in the Family” story was adapted in Night Gallery‘s second season. Other a few short stories, nothing’s available digitally by her. (Died 1975.)
  • Born August 21, 1911 Anthony Boucher. I’m currently reading Rocket to the Morgue which the folks at Penzler Publishers sent me for review. Really great read. If you can find a copy, The Compleat Boucher: The Complete Short Science Fiction and Fantasy of Anthony Boucher is a most excellent read. Unfortunately, The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction is the collection available digitally. (Died 1968.)
  • Born August 21, 1937 Arthur Thomson. Fanzine writer and editor and prolific artist known as ATom. Artist for the well known Hyphen zine, he won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund in 1964 and visited the States. He was nominated five times for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, but never won. After Thomson won the 2000 Rotsler Award, it was decided not to present the Rotsler posthumously again. (Died 1990.)
  • Born August 21, 1943 Lucius Shepard. Damn I didn’t know he’d passed on. Life During Wartime is one seriously weird novel. And his World Fantasy Award winning The Jaguar Hunter is freaking amazing as are all his short collections. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 21, 1956 Kim Cattrall, 63. Gracie Law in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Fantastic film! She also played Justine de Winter in The Return of the Musketeers, Paige Katz in Wild Palms, Lieutenant Valeris inStar Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Linday Isley in Good v. Evil. Series wise, she was one offs in Tales of the Gold Monkey, Logan’s Run, The Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits.
  • Born August 21, 1957 John Howe, 62.  Canadian book illustrator who’s worked on many a project of which the Peter Jackson Hobbit films is the one we’ll most know and which he did with Alan Lee, but he’s also done a number of endeavors including a limited edition of George R. R. Martin’s novel A Clash of Kings which was released by Meisha Merlin, A Diversity of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey and A Middle-Earth Traveler: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor.
  • Born August 21, 1966 Denise Mina, 53. Genre wise, she’s best known for having written thirteen issues of Hellblazer. Her two runs were “Empathy is the Enemy” and “The Red Right Hand”.  ISFDB lists The Dead Hour as genre but it’s very much not. Excellent novel but think rather in the vein of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels.
  • Born August 21, 1967 Carrie-Anne Moss, 52. I first saw her as Tara McDonald in the Dark Justice series. Not genre, just her first video I think. Playing Monica Howard in the “Feeding the Beast” episode of Forever Knight was her first genre role. Oddly enough her next role was as Liz Teel in the Canadian series called Matrix which has nothing to do with the Matrix film franchise where she’s Trinity. As of late, she’s been playing Jeryn Hogarth in the Netflix based Marvel Universe. 

(8) WEB COMES UNSTUCK. Two corporations will no longer partner in this superhero franchise: “Spider-Man and Tom Holland: Sony ‘disappointed’ over Disney split”.

Sony says it’s “disappointed” not to be working with Disney on future Spider-Man films.

We might not see actor Tom Holland in new Marvel movies because a fresh deal can’t be reached over the character.

The film rights to the superhero are owned by Sony – but he could appear in movies like Avengers: Endgame due to a deal between Sony and Marvel Studios – owned by Disney.

Sony says it hopes things “might change in future”.

In a series of tweets, Sony thanked Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige for his “help and guidance” with the franchise.

(9) ISFIC WRITERS CONTEST. The 2019 Illinois Science Fiction in Chicago (ISFiC) Writers Contest is accepting submissions until September 1. Don’t miss out!

If you are a writer currently living in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Kentucky, or Ohio, or were a Windycon 2018 attendee, and if you have not yet been paid to publish your fiction, you’re eligible to submit your work! Please review the complete contest guidelines here.

The ISFiC Writers Contest began in 1986 and has helped many authors begin their careers in publishing. All authors retain the rights to their stories and are free to publish them elsewhere after the contest, with the winning story making its debut in the Windycon 2019 program.

Winners will enjoy a $300 cash award and the opportunity to attend Windycon 2019 with a complimentary membership badge and double room at the convention hotel. Honorable mentions will receive a commemorative 1oz American silver coin.

(10) GRAPHS TO THE RESCUE. Camestros Felapton has been inspired by Nicholas Whyte’s Hugo vote analysis to think about ways to save the whales Best Fanzine Hugo: “More Hugo Graphs, Fanzine & Ramblings”.

Nicholas Whyte has an insightful look at the 2019 Hugo stats here: https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3244665.html

The biggest issue raised is that final votes for Best Fanzine came perilously close to less than 25% of the total votes. [stats are now on the Hugo history pages here http://www.thehugoawards.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/2019-Hugo-Statistics.pdf ] Whyte says:

“We were surprisingly close to not giving a Best Fanzine award in both 2019 Hugos and 1944 Retro Hugos this year. The total first preference votes for Best Fanzine finalists other than No Award in both cases was 26.9% of the total number of votes cast overall (833/3097 and 224/834).”

(11) MR. ANDERSON. Be still my beating heart. “The Matrix: Keanu Reeves to reprise role for fourth chapter” – BBC has the story.

Matrix co-creator Lana Wachowski will write, direct and produce the film, a third sequel to the original 1999 hit.

Ms Wachowski celebrated The Matrix’s return, saying many of the ideas it explores are “even more relevant now”.

(12) FADING AWAY. BBC reports how “Titanic sub dive reveals parts are being lost to sea”.

The first people to dive down to the Titanic in nearly 15 years say some of the wreck is deteriorating rapidly.

Over the course of five submersible dives, an international team of deep-sea explorers surveyed the sunken ship, which lies 3,800m down in the Atlantic.

While parts of the wreck were in surprisingly good condition, other features had been lost to the sea.

The worst decay was seen on the starboard side of the officers’ quarters.

Titanic historian Parks Stephenson said some of what he saw during the dive was “shocking”.

“The captain’s bathtub is a favourite image among Titanic enthusiasts – and that’s now gone,” he said.

“That whole deck house on that side is collapsing, taking with it the state rooms. And that deterioration is going to continue advancing.”

(13) JUST A HUNK OF BURNING LOVE. Days after announcing a solar-panel leasing program, “Tesla sued by Walmart over solar panel fires”.

US supermarket chain Walmart is suing Tesla’s energy division, after solar panels on seven of its stores caught fire.

It alleges that the firm was negligent in how it installed the panels on the roofs of the stores.

Court documents describe a string of fires that occurred between 2012 and 2018 at Walmart locations in Ohio, Maryland and California.

Tesla has not yet responded to the claims.

The lawsuit alleges that the first fire occurred at a Walmart store in Long Beach, California in 2012.

Another in Beavercreek, Ohio, in March 2018 saw customers evacuated and the store closed for eight days.

Walmart is asking Tesla to remove solar panels from all its stores and to pay damages.

It alleged that Tesla deployed individuals to inspect the solar systems who “lacked basic solar training and knowledge”.

(14) AGAINST ODYSSEY TWO. Defying Clarke’s aliens — and real-world challenges — “Nasa confirms ocean moon mission”.

Scientists working on an audacious mission to the ocean world of Europa can proceed with the final design and construction of the spacecraft, Nasa says.

The Europa Clipper mission will target the ice-encrusted moon of Jupiter, which is considered a prime target in the search for life beyond Earth.

Below its icy shell, Europa is thought to hold a 170km-deep body of water.

This could have the right conditions for biology.

Due to launch in 2025, the Europa Clipper mission has now passed a stage called Key Decision Point C, a crucial marker on the road to the launch pad.

(15) BACK TO NO FUTURE. A.V. Club’s Mike Vago points out that ”Plenty of sci-fi futures are now in the past”.

Strangest fact: While most sci-fi hedges its bets and sets the story long after both author and audience have shuffled off this mortal coil, some stories are far more daring, portraying a drastically different near-future, when in fact the near future usually looks mostly like the present but everyone’s phone is thinner and more expensive. Kevin Costner’s infamous bomb The Postman took place only 16 years after its 1997 release, and in that short time the public has forgotten who Shakespeare is (but thankfully not Tom Petty). But the 2013 of the film is still reeling from a long-ago disaster that happened in… 1997, meaning the movie’s premise was already out of date by the time the film hit DVD.

The Postman isn’t the only one that cut it close. 12 Monkeys (1995) predicts a virus that wipes out most of humanity in 1996; Roland Emmerich’s 2012 came out in 2009; 1988’s Alien Nation portrays a 1991 in which aliens have integrated into society after landing on Earth in 1988

(16) FURRIES AT WAR. Blake Montgomery, in the Daily Beast story “How A Cooling Vest Invented by a Furry Made Its Way To The U.S. Military” says that the EZ Cooldown vest was invented by Dutch furry Pepeyn Langedijk in 2014 as a way of keeping cool when wearing furry outfits.  It’s gained ground in the U.S. military, particularly among tank crews, but its rise is in part due to “Milfurs,” soldiers who spend their spare time in furry fandom.

In his green claws, the former armorer for the U.S. Army held a collection of military insignia, including a Combat Action Badge, signifying that he had engaged with enemy fighters in Iraq. He stood before an amused audience of men in tight haircuts and camouflage as his unit came together to honor his service. 

In his fursuit, Travis is better known as “Stolf,” a fantastical big cat blending the features of a snow leopard, tiger, and wolf. He likes the odd motorcycle ride or ski run while dressed up, and enjoys meeting other “furries”—members of an internet subculture centered on dressing up as anthropomorphic animals. 

In his less colorful uniform, Travis was entrusted with the maintenance and repair of small arms like the Mk 19 grenade launcher, both in Iraq and at his duty station, McChord Air Force Base in Washington state. (Travis asked that only his first name be used because of online threats he’s received.) 

(17) PITT STOP. A new trailer for the sf adventure Ad Astra was just released. In theaters September 20.

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.

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

2019 Alfie Awards

George R.R. Martin presented Jane Johnson and Malcolm Edwards with Alfie Awards for Editing at the Hugo Losers Party last weekend.

Jane Johnson said, “Such a wonderful honour. We editors work in the shadows, and that’s how it should be, but it’s lovely to receive such recognition.”

Johnson is the British editor for George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, and Dean Koontz, and was for many years publisher of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Malcolm Edwards recently left Hachette UK after 43 years at the company. He will join Welbeck Publishing in September to serve as publisher of André Deutsch.

Martin created the Alfie Awards in response to the impact of Puppy slating on the Hugo Awards. Named after Alfred Bester, winner of the first Hugo Award ever, Martin gave his awards at his Hugo Losers Parties in 2015 and 2016. The Alfie trophy design is  inspired by the 1956 Hugos, which were rocket-shaped Oldsmobile automobile hood ornaments. Each Alfie is an individualized trophy featuring a salvaged and beautifully refinished rocket hood ornament.

Martin didn’t give Alfies in 2017. One Alfie was given in 2018 to John Picacio for the Mexicanx Initiative.

Update 08/20/2019: Added 2018 Alfie, based on correction in comments.

[Thanks to Cora Buhlert for the story.]