…DRIVEN BY COST AND CHILDREN — Open Culture has seen fit to remind us all that the classic novel had humble beginnings. Typed on a rental typewriter for $9.80 at a dime per half an hour, the book began as a 25,000-word novella called The Fireman. Over the course of nine days, Bradbury spent 49 hours on this first draft.
His speed was largely driven by the sheer cost (we’re talking mid-century dimes here) and the ticking clock of being a present father. Surely, as more parents have had to attempt working from home while their children are being adorable, you can understand why Bradbury could no longer write from his garage. Unable to afford an office, he turned to rental typewriters in the basement of UCLA’s Powell Library.
THE SKELETONS IN Ray Bradbury’s closet are out in Killer, Come Back to Me, a career-spanning collection of the science fictioneer’s crime stories. These 300 pages present a new side to readers who only know Bradbury from such classics as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Fahrenheit 451 (1953). Published by Hard Case Crime on the occasion of the author’s centennial, the selections were picked by Hard Case head honcho Charles Ardai, Michael Congdon (Bradbury’s longtime agent), and Jonathan R. Eller (director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University and author of, among other titles, Becoming Ray Bradbury, Ray Bradbury Unbound, and Bradbury Beyond Apollo). Encompassing everything from the early pulp work on which he cut his teeth to a story published two years before his death in 2012, Killer, Come Back to Me offers the full spectrum of Bradbury’s criminal imagination.
… Bradbury’s life of crime spanned seven decades. Unlike Elmore Leonard and Brian Garfield, who started with Westerns, then moved to mysteries and didn’t look back, Bradbury never left the mystery genre for good. His commitment to both crime and SF recalls the career of Fredric Brown, who, while 14 years older, only entered the pulps shortly before Bradbury did and divided his output between the two genres until his death in 1972. Like Brown, Bradbury’s work displays the influence of Weird Tales and Dime Detective (where both authors published), embedding elements of the bizarre and supernatural in murder mysteries. Among Bradbury’s weirdest stories is a Dime yarn called “Corpse Carnival” (July 1945), which begins with one of two conjoined twins witnessing the murder of the other.
…He is half-consciously creating what Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, in their celebration of the edgelands that characterize the uncertain border between cities and the surrounding countryside, have classified as “desire paths.” These are “lines of footfall worn into the ground” that transform the ordered, centralized spaces of the city into secret pockets; and that, in so doing, offer a “subtle resistance to the dead hand of the planner.”
Once he has decided on a direction, Mead strides off along his desire path, then, at once purposeful and purposeless. “Sometimes he would walk for hours and miles and return only at midnight to his house.” Mead has never encountered another living creature on these nighttime walks. Nor has he so much as glimpsed another pedestrian in the daytime, because people travel exclusively by car. “In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not once in all that time” (569).
The proximate reason for the eerie solitude of the city at night is that everyone else has carefully secluded themselves in their living rooms in order to stare blankly and obediently at television screens. The silence of the city is an effect of what Theodor Adorno once called “the unpeaceful spiritual silence of integral administration.” If there is no political curfew in place in Bradbury’s dystopian society, this is because a kind of cultural or moral curfew renders it superfluous.
Crossing and re-crossing the city at night on foot, aimlessly reclaiming the freedom of its streets from automobiles, Bradbury’s Pedestrian is identifiable as the scion of a distinct tradition of urban rebellion or resistance, the dissident tradition of the nightwalker….
…With the seminal dark fantasy masterpiece Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) and the latter career work A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities (1990) on either side, The Halloween Tree is the middle installment in a loose Halloween trilogy by the author. Though he had written several other pieces dealing with childhood and growing up in a small town, this is his only novel that is aimed directly at children as its primary audience. Be that as it may, it is enchanting for readers of all ages. It is also well worth mentioning that the illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini, a frequent collaborator of Bradbury’s, are astounding.
In 1993, the Hanna-Barbera company produced an animated special based on the novel for the ABC network written and narrated by Bradbury himself with Leonard Nimoy voicing the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud. So often when it comes to books and the movies based on them, one is clearly superior. In this case, both are so wonderful for different reasons that neither feels extraneous. The basics of the plot remain more or less the same in both, but the details and execution in each make both vital. Because they share most of the same plot points, let us explore both at the same time, reveling in the magic of each.
(5) PAST THE APEX. In “Bradbury in the Afternoon” at the Russell Kirk Center website, James E. Person, Jr. does a lengthy review of Jonathan R. Eller’s bio Bradbury: Beyond Apollo.
…By that time Bradbury was a legend: he was hailed and feted by his writing peers and admiring readers of all ages, his name mentioned in the same breath with H. G. Wells and Jules Verne as a writer of astonishingly imaginative science fiction and fantasy. Within the world of literature he knew everybody that was anybody, and his works were well on their way to becoming staples of middle-school and high-school literature courses. So what did the man do for the remaining fifty years of his life? The answer is hinted at in the title of the third and final volume of Jonathan Eller’s masterful Bradbury biography, by the words “Beyond Apollo.”
Why those words? Their significance lies in that from Bradbury’s perspective, the Apollo moon landings—particularly the initial landing in July, 1969—marked the apex of much that the author had dreamed of, the first step in mankind’s outward journey to Mars and beyond. When Neil Armstrong and Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin first set foot on the moon at Tranquility Base, it marked the pinnacle of the U.S. space program’s endeavors at that time. Everything that followed—the subsequent handful of successful moon landings, the space-shuttle initiative, the probes to Mars and beyond, the international space station—were wonderful but somehow a step down. As with Bradbury’s career, there was a sense that there was nothing left to prove. Beyond Apollo, there was a transitional phase of reset and refocus in America’s approach to space exploration and in Bradbury’s career….
(6) HEY, I KNOW THAT GUY. Phil Nichols’s seventeenth episode of his series “Bradbury 100” spotlight’s some events celebrating the milestone birthday. John King Tarpinian restrained his enthusiasm when he sent the link: “Darn it, I am included in this podcast at about 7 minutes in.”
This week’s Bradbury 100 is a bit different: instead of a featured guest interview, I present highlights from two Bradbury Centenary events from recent times, as well as summing up some of the key centenary events of the year so far.
The first of the highlights is a selection from the discussion in the first (and so far, only) Bradbury 100 LIVE episode. This was an event I ran on Facebook Live back in September. In this recording, I talk to John King Tarpinian – a friend of Ray Bradbury’s who often accompanied him to public events – and educator George Jack.
The second is the audio from a public lecture I gave earlier this week, celebrating seventy years of Bradbury’s book The Martian Chronicles.
(7) COVID-19 PUSHES 451 OUT OF THE SYLLABUS. In the Washington Post, Ashley Fetters interviewed teachers about the changes they’ve made as a result of the pandemic. She interviewed Morgan Jackson, a high school English teacher in Philadelphia: “Distance learning is straining parent-teacher relationships”.
…Jackson has made changes to how she teaches. She skipped, for example, a lesson she planned about an overdose scene in Fahrenheit 451. ‘Typically, because Philadelphia is so rife with overdoses and drug issues, I would have had an in-depth discussion and read an article about that. But because it’s such a controversial topic and some parents don’t want their kids knowing about that side of Philly, I kind of cut that out,’ she said. ‘I feel more monitored now than I did when we were in class.’
(8) THAT’S SHAT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from an article by David Cheal in the November 21 Financial Times about Elton John’s 1972 song “Rocket Man.”
Decades before the opening scenes of Ridley Scott’s film Alien (1979) showed astronauts smoking, chatting, and drinking, before John Carpenter’s 1974 sci-fi classic Dark Star depicted a spaceship’s crew bored and listless, science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury had the prescience to realise that one day going ino space would be just a job. His short story ‘The Rocket Man,’ part of his 1951 collection The Illustrated Man, tells of a man who works in space for three months at a time, coming home to an anxious wife and a curious teenage son. Sniffing his father’s space uniform, the son finds it smells of ‘fire and time.”…
…In 1972 Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s lyric-writing partner, was heading home to see his parents. He had read Bradbury’s story and was musing on it when a lyric popped into his head, about a man preparing to head off to his job in space: ‘She packed my bags last night pre-flight, zero hour 9am… Taupin normally used a notebook to jot down ideas but as he was driving he had to spend the day anxiously memorizing the lines before he could finally commit them to paper. He sent the finished lyric to John (they mostly work separately), who set them to music,'”
Cheal notes that when William Shatner sang his version of “Rocket Man” at the Science Fiction Film Awards ceremony, Ray Bradbury was in the audience as he later gave the prize for best film of the year to Star Wars.
I was in seventh grade the first time that I read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I wasn’t a particular fan of science fiction, nor was I a fan of dystopian fiction. That being said, Fahrenheit 451 didn’t even register as belonging to a genre as I read it.
Bradbury’s language was so rich and real and immediate that I remember being as convinced of the world he built as I was of any “real” setting. I wanted to sink into every sentence. I wanted to wrap myself up in unexpected metaphors and lush allusions. I wanted to be a writer just like Bradbury.
After school the day that I finished reading Fahrenheit 451, I sat down to write Bradbury a letter. In this letter, I tried to express how much his book meant to me. I don’t remember now exactly what I wrote; I’m sure it was clumsy. What I do remember is including a small postscript informing him that I had enclosed an original short story, and would he please respond with any comments he might have.
Then I decorated the envelope with red and orange flames and stuck three stamps in the corner because it was so heavy. (It might have been generous to call my short story short.)
The next day, Ray Bradbury passed away. He was 91 years old, and my letter never got to him. I was devastated. Now, at 21 years old, I often wonder where that letter ended up.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Michael J. Walsh for these stories.]
(1) 55 YEARS AGO TODAY. Cora Buhlert has written an article about Franco-Belgian-Dutch comics for Galactic Journey: “[NOVEMBER 18, 1965] HUMOUR, HEROES AND HISTORY: THE COMICS OF FRANCE, BELGIUM AND THE NETHERLANDS”. Cora did a lot of research: “While I read all of those comics as a kid (my Dad worked in the Netherlands and Belgium and while my Dutch was never good enough for novels, comics were no problem), I rarely paid attention to artists and writers nor did I have any idea what was published when and where.” She knows now!
…The comics heart of Europe undoubtedly beats in France and Belgium. For here, comics are considered not disposable entertainment for kids, but a genuine art form. Belgian comics artist Maurice De Bevere, better known as Morris, referred to comics as “the ninth art”.
US comic books only focus on a single character or group. The French-Belgian industry is different, since it focusses on anthology magazines, which contain several different serialised comic strips. The most popular comics are later collected in books known as albums.
Three comic magazines dominate the French-Belgian-Dutch market. The Belgian magazines Spirou (Robbedoes in Flemish) and Tintin (Kuifje in Flemish) and the French magazine Pilote. All three have their own distinct style and voice….
(2) WINDOW ON CHENGDU. At Black Gate Francesco Verso pulls out all the stops for the Chengdu in 2023 Worldcon bid: “Guest Editorial: Let’s Welcome the Future… in China”. A successful Italian sff author, Verso also is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Future Fiction, “a multicultural project, publishing the best SF in translation from 8 languages and more than 20 countries.” He has edited an international SF anthology for the Chinese publisher Guangzhou Blue Ocean Press that was to be distributed to Chinese high schools and universities in 2019.
…Reading Chinese SF gave me a feeling of freshness and cautious optimism; a unique “sense of wonder” permeated many of the stories I read. From climate change to inter-generational scenarios, from android caregivers to futuristic market forces, Big Data and of course the traditional Chinese culture updated to contemporary flavors, the ideas came from a rapidly changing society living them today. To quote Han Song, “You simply need to open a window in China to see a preview of the future.”
The same applies for Science Fiction Conventions. I’ve had the honor and privilege to attend many meetings organized by fandom in collaboration with various institutions (both public and private ones) from Beijing to Chongqing, from Shenzhen to Chengdu.
These conventions are nothing like we’ve seen and experienced in the West.
Thousands of passionate fans, hundreds staff, tens of Special Guests from China and the rest of the world displayed an expertise and enthusiasm which struck me from the very first time, at the 4th International SF Convention of Chengdu in 2017 (see Black Gate‘s report here). During many panels, there were real-time interpreters from Chinese to English and from English to Chinese to help with communication. No guest was left alone and a true sense of community (already strong in all SF conventions) was circulating from morning to night events.
Three years have since passed and I’ve visited China six times to participate in events like the first Asia Pacific SF Convention and the National Chinese SF Convention in Beijing (see Locus Magazine’s report here), the 5th International SF Convention of Chengdu (see Black Gate‘s report here), the opening ceremony of the Fishing Fortress Center of Science Fiction of Chongqing. I can fairly say the following without fear of being proved wrong: No other country can benefit from such a rich past and an innovative present as China.
No other country – from fandom to scholars, from magazine to publishing houses, from conventions to academic meetings – is investing so much energy and passion in Science Fiction as China.
No other country has the level of support – including public sector grants, private institutions funding and fan staff – as China.
That’s an incredible leverage to use for boosting Science Fiction in a highly-populated country that has come to realize that it will shape a relevant part of the future awaiting the whole world.
The committee of the Chengdu bid for the 2023 WorldCon is doing an excellent job to prepare for the event. They are showing the beauty of the city, its many historical traces, such as the Three-Star Piles, the Water Conservancy project of the Qin Dynasty, the poets of the Tang Dynasty and of course the pandas!
… The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences turned her down — five times. Reynolds quoted an uninterested David Geffen in her 2013 memoir as once saying, “Why don’t you just sell that stuff?”
In debt, she finally had no other choice, auctioning Marilyn Monroe’s ivory-pleated halter dress that blew upward in “The Seven Year Itch” for $4.6 million and Audrey Hepburn’s lace Royal Ascot number from “My Fair Lady” for $3.7 million — prices that shocked moviedom’s aristocracy and proved Reynolds had been right. Also sold, in some cases to anonymous overseas collectors, were Charlton Heston’s “Ben-Hur” tunic and cape, the acoustic guitar Julie Andrews strummed in “The Sound of Music” and every hat that Vivien Leigh flaunted in “Gone With the Wind.”
Now, four years after she died at 84, there has been a plot twist in the Debbie Reynolds costume collection saga, one that she would undoubtedly find both maddening and satisfying: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, set to open on April 30 and costing $482 million, finds itself caring about her collection — at least the part that is left, which includes iconic costumes she wore in movies like “Singin’ in the Rain.” Also remaining are screen garments created for Mary Pickford, Deborah Kerr and Cyd Charisse, as well as rare memorabilia from classics like “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Maltese Falcon.”
… So far, Fisher has agreed to lend the Academy Museum one item from his own collection: a set of seven Bausch and Lomb Baltar lenses used by Gregg Toland, the fabled “Citizen Kane” cinematographer. But Fisher, 62, said more items would come, as long as the Debbie Reynolds Conservation Studio exists on the museum’s lower level next to the Shirley Temple Education Studio.
“My mother was one of the most forgiving people ever,” Fisher said. “She would never want me to hold a grudge just because I have knowledge of all the missed opportunities — how the people running the academy in the past were never willing to step up and support her. She would have wanted me to share these important artifacts with future generations. So, as long as they are properly recognizing my mother for her contribution to this discipline, I agreed to provide access to whatever I have access to.”…
… Think beyond the obvious. Sure, you want reviews and other events, but there might be angles that you’re not considering. My book is historical fantasy set in a garden over 400 years. Our list included the usual outlets such as the British Fantasy Society, but we knew we could expand from there. Because the book is historical, we put organisations such as the Historical Novel Society on the list. I also remembered that I used to go to the Garden History Museum in London when I was a student and had a slight correspondence with the director, so I put him and the museum on the list along with National Trust houses near me with inspirational gardens and giftshops in hopes of maybe getting the book on those shelves.
Go local. Smaller towns (and some larger ones) love stories about locals. If your town has a paper, send a press release. If you work in a different town, send one there, too. Writing a release takes some practice, but there is plenty of advice on the ‘net. Small stories about me showed up in the paper where I live and the paper in my work-town, along with a magazine in my work-town. From those, I’ve sold several copies out of the local book shop….
Considering the sequel already cost $200 million, Warner Bros. likely expected a massive payday and was hoping to wait out the pandemic so audiences worldwide (specifically domestically) could pay for it.
But with another wave of COVID-19 predicted, the domestic theatrical window seems even more in jeopardy. This will be an interesting development and could signal further changes for delayed 2020 blockbusters like No Time to Die, Black Widow and Fast and Furious 9.
The author of the cult classic novel The Dice Man, in which a bored psychiatrist travels to some very dark places when he lets “the dice decide” his options, has died at the age of 87.
George Powers Cockcroft, who published The Dice Man in 1971 under the pseudonym Luke Rhinehart, died on 6 November, his publishers confirmed to the Guardian.
…The author of 11 books, most recently Invasion, a novel in which furry aliens come to Earth to have fun, Rhinehart remains best known for The Dice Man. Published in 1971, it was seemingly an autobiography, telling of a psychiatrist named Luke Rhinehart who decides to roll a dice each time he has to make a decision.
I knew a guy at LASFS who said he did this for awhile, too.
(8) LONG OBIT. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Artist and author Duncan Long (b.1949) died on December 31, 2016. His death was unreported here at the time. Long wrote the Spider Worlds trilogy and three other novels. His art appeared on the covers of Asimov’s, The Leading Edge, and the Steven Barnes collection Assassins and Other Stories. He also served as the art director for the revamped Amazing Stories.
(9) MEDIA ANNIVESARY.
1980 — Forty years ago, Ray Bradbury was given the Gandalf Grand Master Award for life achievement in fantasy writing. The Gandalf Award was created and sponsored by Lin Carter and the Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America, an association of fantasy writers including John Jakes, Poul Anderson, Fritz Leiber, C. J. Cherryh, Tanith Lee and Roger Zelazny to name but a few of the members. (Much of their work is collected in the Flashing Swords! anthology series.) J. R. R. Tolkien, recently deceased, was given the first such Award, and the other recipients were Fritz Leiber, L. Sprague de Camp, Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, Ursula K. Le Guin and C. L. Moore.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born November 18, 1922 – Edward C. Connor. Known as “Ecco”. Took over the Fanewscard from Tucker in the mid-1940s, ran it for a year with Frank Robinson. Famous for a Post Office (as it then was) adventure with Ecco’s zine S.F. Echo; that and more here. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born November 18, 1923 – Alan Shepard. First American in Space. Piloted the Apollo lunar module Antares to the most accurate landing of the Apollo missions. Hit two golf balls on the Moon. Moon Shot with Deke Slayton and two journalists. Two (nonconsecutive) terms as Chief of the Astronaut Office. Not fiction, but the right stuff. More here. (Died 1998) [JH]
Born November 18, 1936 – Suzette Elgin. Founded the SF Poetry Ass’n; its Elgin Awards (one for chapbook, one for full-length, annually) named for her. Edited Star*Line three years. SF Poetry Handbook by her, with Mike Allen & Bud Webster helping; an SF Site review here. A dozen novels, another of shorter stories (“Lo, How an Oak E’er Blooming” was translated into German as Siehe, die Eiche blüht ewig, another time as Und ewig blühet die Eiche, both titles missing the allusion to Es ist ein Ros entsprungen), three dozen poems; many essays in Star*Line and elsewhere. If SF prose is hard, SF poetry is harder. Or easier. Or – let’s go to the next birthday notice. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born November 18, 1946 — Alan Dean Foster, 74. There’s fifteen Pip and Flinx novels?!? Well the first five or so were superb. Spellsinger series is tasty too. Can’t say anything about his Stars Wars work as I never got into it. (CE)
Born November 18, 1950 — Michael Swanwick, 70. I will single out The Iron Dragon’s Daughter and Jack Faust as the novels I remember liking the best. His short fiction is quite excellent, and I see both Apple Books and Kindle have the most excellent Tales of Old Earth collectionwith this lovely cover. (CE)
Born November 18, 1950 — Eric Pierpoint, 70. I’d say that he’s best known for his role as George Francisco on the Alien Nation franchise. He has also appeared on each of the first four Trek spin-offs. And he’s got a very impressive number of genre one-offs which I’m sure y’all tell me about. (CE)
Born November 18, 1952 – Doug Fratz. Aerosol scientist and fan. Known for his zine Thrust, later renamed Quantum, then merged with SF Eye. Many reviews there, on SF Site, and in NY Rev SF. More about him here. (Died 2016) [JH]
Born November 18, 1953 — Alan Moore, 67. His best book is Voice of the Fire. Though the first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is very close. Pity about the film. His worst work? The Lost Girls which is genre in an odd manner. Shudder. I’m also fond of The Ballad of Halo Jones and Swamp Thing as well. (CE)
Born November 18, 1961 — Steven Moffat, 59. Showrunner, writer and executive producer of Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes. His first Doctor Who script was for Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, a charity production that you find on YouTube and I suggest you go watch now. He also co-wrote The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, a most excellent animated film. He has deservedly won four Hugo Awards. (CE)
Born November 18, 1966 – Madelyn Rosenberg, 54. A dozen books, plus articles, poetry (this one has butter-shined stars). Outside our field, here frinstance is an interview with Doc Watson. “I write because I love telling other people’s stories as well as my own.” [JH]
Born November 18, 1972 – Lisa Olstein, 48. Four books of poetry and a chapbook The Resemblance of the Enzymes of Grasses to Those of Whales Is a Family Resemblance. Hayden Carruth Award. Guggenheim Fellowship. Pushcart Prize. Here is “Radio Crackling, Radio Gone”. [JH]
Born November 18, 1981 — Maggie Stiefvater, 39. Writer of YA fiction, she currently has three series, The Dreamer trilogy, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, and the quite superb Raven Cycle. With her sister, Kate Hummel, she writes and records a piece of music for each novel she releases. These are released in the form of animated book trailers. (CE)
ANTHONY DANIELS: Here’s the thing, go to YouTube and watch a bit of it, because it’s there. You will be amazed and not in a good way. And go to the back end of it, the end. That’s when myself and Carrie and Mark and Harrison came on. That’s the Star– that’s the real Star Wars. But go through some of the other bits, and you will be astounded that the producers were brave enough to use the title “Holiday Special” because it’s normally– it sets off sirens and heart attacks.
Such a weird experience that you had to laugh at it. And it’s in my book “I am C-3PO– The Inside Story,” where I talk about, in fact, I detail what it was like on the set with these Wookiees, basically treading on things because they couldn’t see in the dark and the dry ice, and how I was only there for three or four days. And I just laughed and laughed as we drove away from the studio because it had been a kind of very gentle nightmare.
…Last month, Apple TV+ became the new home to the beloved Peanuts holiday specials. That sparked an outcry from viewers who were accustomed to annually tuning in on network TV. Apple offered each special to stream for free for a handful of days, but that didn’t stop online petitions from gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures.
On Wednesday, Apple bowed to the backlash, announcing it had teamed up with PBS for ad-free broadcasts of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (on Nov. 22) and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (on Dec. 13).
Both specials will also be available for free during three-day windows on Apple TV+ (Nov. 25-27 for “Thanksgiving” and Dec. 11-13 for “Christmas.”) For subscribers, the specials will be available beginning Nov. 18 and Dec. 4, respectively.
During an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers this week, the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star, 33, shared footage from her delivery room when she gave birth to her daughter in late March with husband Dan Gregor. In the video, Bloom sings the lyrics to “Space Jam” (by the Quad City DJ’s for the 1996 movie of the same name) while laying on her hospital bed.
“You know, I was making a labor playlist, and I was like, ‘What’s going to make me happy? And what’s going to make my vagina muscles wanna push a baby out?’ There was only one answer,” she joked to Meyers.
Jamie Lee Curtis made a terminally ill fan’s dream come true.
The actress virtually officiated the wedding of 29-year-old Anthony Woodle and his girlfriend, Emilee, one hour before he passed away. Woodle, a horror movie fanatic who loved the Halloween franchise and holiday, was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer last year. Emilie opened up about her late husband’s final moments to Charleston’s The Post and Courier.
Woodle, an aspiring director, was diagnosed with cancer on Halloween 2019, three years after proposing to Emilee on his favorite holiday. As his condition worsened over the last year, Woodle got connected to Curtis through Rough House Productions, the local South Carolina based production company reviving the Halloween franchise. They talked about the new movie, his health and how he planned to get married soon. Curtis said that she’s ordained and offered to officiate their wedding, per the paper. Arrangements were made for Sept. 13.
On the day of the ceremony, Woodle turned for the worse. Curtis got on the phone and Woodle’s family gathered around. He was unconscious in bed with Emilee by his side. The actress expressed joy, sadness and said she felt honored as she began the ceremony at 10:30 p.m.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. in “Honest Game Trailers: Plasmophobia” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that Plasmophbia lets you pretend to be a ghost hunter from a cheap cable series of 20 years ago and thrill to having a ghost take you over and make your body act “like a baby who’s failed depth perception.”
[Thanks to Steven H Silver, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
…However, an electoral college is a university where you study to pick the leader of your republic. Like any university it has a library and over-priced places to eat which the students avoid because they can’t afford to eat on campus but that’s OK because all their lectures are online now and they can eat toast at home. In America, the electoral college is in a big tree all covered in ivy and so probably doesn’t have a lot of room for over-priced places to eat, maybe only a gift shop selling t-shirts with the university name on them.
Copyright law is supposed to promote creativity, not stamp out criticism. Too often, copyright owners forget that – especially when they have a convenient takedown tool like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
EFF is happy to remind them – as we did this month on behalf of Internet creator Lindsay Ellis. Ellis had posted a video about a copyright dispute between authors in a very particular fandom niche: the Omegaverse realm of wolf-kink erotica. The video tells the story of that dispute in gory and hilarious detail, while breaking down the legal issues and proceedings along the way. Techdirt called it “truly amazing.” We agree. But feel free to watch “Into the Omegaverse: How a Fanfic Trope Landed in Federal Court,” and decide for yourself.
The dispute described in the video began with a series of takedown notices to online platforms with highly dubious allegations of copyright infringement. According to these, one Omegaverse author, Zoey Ellis (no relation) had infringed the copyright of another, Addison Cain, by copying common thematic aspects of characters in the Omegaverse genre, i.e., tropes. As Ellis’ video explains, these themes not only predate Cain’s works, but are uncopyrightable as a matter of law. Further litigation ensued, and Ellis’ video explains what happened and the opinions she formed based on the publicly available records of those proceedings. Some of those opinions are scathingly critical of Ms. Cain. But the First Amendment protects scathing criticism. So does copyright law: criticism and parody are classic examples of fair use that are authorized by law. Still, as we have written many times, DMCA abuse targeting such fair uses remains a pervasive and persistent problem…
(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 30, 1919 – Walt A. Willis. One of our finest fanwriters. The success of “WAW with the Crew in ’52”, bringing him from Belfast to Chicago for Chicon II the 10th Worldcon, laid the foundation for TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund), of which he was the first Administrator. Fanzines Hyphen, Slant. Two Hugos (Outstanding Actifan i.e. active fan, 1958; Best Fanzine, for Slant, Retrospective Hugo, 2004). Fan Guest of Honor at MagiCon the 50th Worldcon (Orlando). See more here. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born October 30, 1923 — William Campbell. In “The Squire of Gothos” on Trek — a proper Halloween episode even if it wasn’t broadcast then — he was Trelane and in “The Trouble With Tribbles”, he played the Klingon Koloth, a role revisited on Deep Space Nine in “Blood Oath”. He appeared in several horror films including Blood Bath, Night of Evil, and Dementia 13. He started a fan convention which ran for several years, Fantasticon, which celebrated the achievements of production staffers in genre films and TV shows and raised funds for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a charitable organization which provides assistance and care to those in the motion picture industry with limited or no resources, when struck with infirmity and/or in retirement age. (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born October 30, 1935 – Don A. Thompson. Pioneer of comics fandom. With Dick Lupoff, co-edited All in Color for a Dime and The Comic-Book Book. With wife Maggie Thompson, wrote “Beautiful Balloons” column for The Buyer’s Guide for Comic Fandom, and edited the Guide after it changed hands in 1983; with her, an Inkpot, a Kirby, an Eisner, Diamond Lifetime Fan Award (1991). DT & MT were Fan Guests of Honor at Penulticon ’79. (Died 1994) [JH]
Born October 30, 1947 –Tim Kirk, 73. One of our finest fanartists; five Hugos. His Master’s thesis illustrated The Lord of The Rings, still among the best; Ballantine published thirteen images as the 1975 Tolkien calendar. Senior designer for Tokyo DisneySea. Designed Paul Allen’s SF Museum (Seattle). Here is an interior from Science Fiction Review. Here is the May 74 Algol. Here is “The Riddle Game”. Here is a drawing used for Loscon 46. Here is Not All a Dream. [JH]
Born October 30, 1951 — P. Craig Russell, 69. Comic illustrator whose work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards. His work on Killraven, a future version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, collaborating with writer Don McGregor, was lauded by readers and critics alike. Next up was mainstream work at DC with I think his work on Batman, particularly with Jim Starlin. He also inked Mike Mignola’s pencils on the Phantom Stranger series. He would segue into working on several Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné projects. Worth noting is his work on a number of Gaiman projects including a Coraline graphic novel. Wayne Alan Harold Productions published the P. Craig Russell Sketchbook Archives, a 250+-page hardcover art book featuring the best of his personal sketchbooks.
Born October 30, 1951 — Harry Hamlin, 69. His first role of genre interest was Perseus on Clash of The Titans. He plays himself in Maxie, and briefly shows up in Harper’s Island. He was Astronaut John Pope in the genre adjacent Space miniseries. On the stage, he’s been Faust in Dr. Faustus. (CE)
Born October 30, 1958 — Max McCoy, 62. Here for a quartet of novels (Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Sphinx, Indiana Jones and the Hollow Earth, Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs and Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone) which flesh out the back story and immerse him in a pulp reality. He’s also writing Wylde’s West, a paranormal mystery series. (CE)
Born October 30, 1962 – Lisa Major, 58. Co-editor with husband Joseph of the fanzine Alexiad. Fan of horse races, including trotting, pacing. From October 2020 (Alexiad 113): “September is International Month. Normally we of the libraries get assigned a country in order that we may display books … and have programs…. This year … not open to the public … I decide that I will have my own…. a bakery owned by a woman from Uganda … has a marvelous display…. I walk out with … a decorated little bowl … gives me something of the … serenity I got … when my library was assigned Japan.” [JH]
Born October 30, 1972 – Tammy Coxen, 48. Chaired Detcon the 11th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas). Hugo Administrator for CoNZealand the 78th Worldcon. Wrote this guide “So You Want to Bid for a Worldcon”. Cocktail enthusiast and Chief Tasting Officer of Tammy’s Tastings. [JH]
Born October 30, 1972 — Jessica Hynes, 48. Playing Joan Redfern, she shows up on two of the most excellent Tenth Doctor stories, “Human Nature” and “ The Family of Blood”. She’d play another character, Verity Newman in a meeting of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, “The End of Time, Part Two”. Her other genre role was as Felia Siderova on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in the “Mental Apparition Disorder” and “Drop Dead” episodes. (CE)
Born October 30, 1974 – Libia Brenda, 46. Part of the Mexicanx Initiative Experience at the 76th Worldcon and thus a Hugo finalist for Best Related Work. “Sea Wings” (in English) in the Jul 19 Argonaut. Two anthologies, A Larger Reality being speculative fiction “from the bicultural margins”, and A Timeline in Which We Don’t Go Extinct being A Larger Reality 2.0, each in English and Spanish. [JH]
…It’s not enough to be a mammal who lays eggs, sports a duck-like bill and webbed feet, hunts using electroreception, and wields venomous spurs. The platypus also glows green under ultraviolet light. Because of course it does. Details of this unexpected discovery were published earlier this month in the science journal Mammalia.
The platypus now joins a very exclusive club, as it’s one of only three known biofluorescent mammals, the other two being opossums and flying squirrels. That said, the platypus does stand alone as the only known monotreme, or egg-laying mammal, capable of pulling off this trick (the only other extant monotremes are four species of echidna). Of course, biofluorescence is seen in many other organisms, such as fungi, fish, phytoplankton, reptiles, amphibians, and at least one species of tardigrade.
But wait – if they’re delivering in sunlight they still won’t need one, will they….
(6) BUY IT AGAIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] So the Amazon Shopping app on my phone just recommended (Samuel R Delany’s) BABEL-17, including via Kindle Unlimited.
Given some of my browsing I guess that’s not completely out of the blue, although it feels like I’d been doing some (research) lookups for Heinlein but not Delany.
If Amazon were a person, I’d respond with a picture of my $0.50 Ace paperback with the “Nebula winner” sticker on the cover design. I’m not sure if I have any older copies. If I have an autographed one, it’s in a different stack, not worth fishing for just for an item. So there, Mr Bezos — you may know what I look up online, but you don’t (yet) know what is one my shelves. (If I ever scan for inventorying, no doubt that will change.)
(8) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dr. Sanjay Gupta Rates Halloween Masks – a segment on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
Halloween is coming up and with the coronavirus, it’s more important than ever for everyone to stay safe. That’s why CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is here to make sure your Halloween masks are as safe as your regular mask!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Ben Bird Person, Danny Sichel, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
(1) NEXT YEAR’S BOSKONE ONLINE. The NESFA just announced today on the convention website that the 2021 Boskone will be a virtual convention. Memberships will be $25 for the weekend.
(2) A LEAK IN SPACE? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA believes it has collected a suitable sample of asteroid regolith on the OSIRIX-REx mission, but some of the material is leaking out. So, they are changing some plans in order to stow it as quickly as possible. The material will be placed in the Sample Return Capsule for eventual return to Earth. “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Collects Significant Amount of Asteroid”. [GIF image at the link.]
… The spacecraft captured images of the sample collector head as it moved through several different positions. In reviewing these images, the OSIRIS-REx team noticed both that the head appeared to be full of asteroid particles, and that some of these particles appeared to be escaping slowly from the sample collector, called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head. They suspect bits of material are passing through small gaps where a mylar flap – the collector’s “lid” – is slightly wedged open by larger rocks.
“Bennu continues to surprise us with great science and also throwing a few curveballs,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “And although we may have to move more quickly to stow the sample, it’s not a bad problem to have. We are so excited to see what appears to be an abundant sample that will inspire science for decades beyond this historic moment.”
Some lost films are more lost than others. There are very early works that no one now alive has seen, and we have little hope of recovering. While later silent feature films were duplicated and distributed widely, there are hundreds of short experiments by the first film-makers, movies no more than a few seconds long, that no longer exist even as a memory.
It seemed too good to be true, then, that lost films by Georges Méliès could really have been found by chance in a German bookshop in 2013. Yet a dogged research project by an independent scholar from France, Thierry Lecointe, has helped uncover miraculous images from lost films, not just by Méliès, but also by Alice Guy-Blaché.
The frames were preserved as images printed on to the card pages of tiny flipbooks. With digital technology, the flipbooks, known as folioscopes, have now become something like film fragments again. The photographer Onno Petersen shot each page in high-resolution and the motion-picture restoration expert Robert Byrne, from the San Francisco Silent Film festival, produced animations revealing such treats as a long-lost magic trick, dance, comic sketch or a train caught on camera more than a century ago.
(4) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1995 — Twenty-five years ago, the Mythopoetic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature went to Something Rich and Strange by Patricia A. McKillip. It was the first of four such awards for her plus the Lifetime Achievement Award as well. The runner-ups were Rachel Pollack’s Temporary Agency, Pamela Dean’s The Dubious Hills and Robert Holdstock‘s The Hollowing. It was written as part of Froud’s Faerielands series under the inspriation of the Froud illustration on the first edition. The title itself comes a line in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”. The first edition was published by Bantam Spectra the previous year.
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 24, 1954 — Jane Fancher, 66. In the early 80s, she was an art assistant on Elfquest, providing inking assistance on the black-and-white comics and coloring of the original graphic novel reprints. She adapted portions of C.J. Cherryh’s first Morgaine novel into a black-and-white comic book, which prompted her to begin writing novels herself. Her first novel, Groundties, was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, and she has been Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at several conventions. (CE)
Born October 24, 1954 — Wendy Neuss, 66. Emmy-nominated Producer. As an associate producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, her responsibilities included post-production sound, including music and effects spots, scoring sessions and sound mixes, insertion of location footage, and re-recording of dialogue (which is usually done when lines are muffed or the audio recording was subpar). She was also the producer of Star Trek: Voyager. With her husband at the time, Patrick Stewart, she was executive producer of three movies in which he starred, including a version of A Christmas Carol which JJ says is absolutely fantastic, and a rather excellent The Lion in Winter too. (CE)
Born October 24, 1971 — Dervla Kirwan,49. Miss Hartigan in “The Next Doctor”, a very delightful Tenth Doctor story. She’s Maeve Sullivan in the Shades series, and she played Petra Williams in the “Painkillers” episode of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased). (CE)
Born October 24, 1971 — Sofia Samatar, 49. Teacher, Writer, and Poet who speaks several languages and started out as a language instructor, a job which took her to Egypt for nine years. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and is the author of two wonderful novels to date, both of which I highly recommend: Stranger in Olondria (which won World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards and was nominated for a Nebula) and The Winged Histories. Her short story “Selkie Stories are for Losers” was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, and BFA Awards. She has written enough short fiction in just six years that Small Beer Press put out Tender, a collection which is an amazing twenty-six stories strong. And she has a most splendid website. (CE)
Born October 24, 1972 — Raelee Hill, 48. Sikozu Svala Shanti Sugaysi Shanu (called Sikozu) on Farscape, a great role indeed enhanced by her make-up and costume. She’s also in Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. Genre wise, she’s also been on The Lost World series, Superman Returns, BeastMaster and Event Zero. (CE)
Born October 24, 1899 – Leo Morey. For us, a hundred twenty covers, seven hundred interiors. Here is the Sep 31 Amazing. Here is the Nov 40 Super Science. Here is an interior from the 1950s. Here is one from the Mar 62 Analog. Here is an acrylic from outside our field. (Died 1965) [JH]
Born October 24, 1948 – Peggy Ranson. 1993 Hugo as Best Fanartist. Her Harlequins the sign of Nolacon II the 46th Worldcon. Artist GoH at DeepSouthCon 34, Guest of Honor at Armadillocon 20. Here is Unmasking. Here is a greeting card “Tiger in the Jungle”. Here is the May 92 Astromancer Quarterly. Here is an interior from Mimosa 14. Here is a collection of eight images. Our Gracious Host’s appreciation (with more images) here; don’t miss the comments. (Died 2016) [JH]
Born October 24, 1952 – David Weber, 68. Best known for Honor Harrington, fourteen HH novels plus a score of books more in the Honorverse, some with co-authors; Royal Manticoran Navy fan clubs. Four more series, notably Safehold (ten novels); part of others’ shared universes e.g. John Ringo’s Empire of Man, Linda Evans’ Mulitverse. Phoenix Award, Hal Clement Award. Thirty times Guest of Honor from ConClave XXI to Spikecon. United Methodist lay preacher. John Clute credits DW’s success to “narrative clarity and focus … skill at managing large universes [where] actions count.” Website here. [JH]
Born October 24, 1956 – Jordin Kare, Ph.D. Scientist and singer. Co-founded Off Centaur Productions, which was placed in the Filk Hall of Fame; two Pegasus Awards; after Columbia astronaut Buzz Aldrin on live television tried to read aloud Kare’s “Fire in the Sky”, overcome by emotion he could not continue. Last time as Guest of Honor, Archon 39. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born October 24, 1977 – Gabrielle Zevin, 43. Harvard woman. Kirkus Reviews called Margarettown “a droll piece of romantic whimsy with an unexpected resonance.” Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac became, screenplay by GZ and Hans Canosa, the Japanese movie Someone Kissed Me with Maki Horikita. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry a New York Times Best-Seller. Four novels for us. [JH]
Born October 24, 1981 – Sarvenaz Tash, 39. For us, The Mapmaker and the Ghost; otherwise e.g. Virtually Yours, Amazon Best Book of the Year The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, Three-Day Summer. How to pronounce her name. “All I want for my birthday is VOTER TURNOUT.” [JH]
(6) POSTAPOCALYPTIC COOKIE. [Item by Carolyn Frank.] Not too sure if this falls under SF or fantasy or possibly horror, but it certainly includes apocalyptic thinking. “If the apocalypse happens this year, Oreo is prepared” at The Takeout. Be sure to watch the movie, though you might need to find a cookie to eat while you watch…
… This morning Oreo announced that it has completed the Global Oreo Vault, a concrete bunker filled with Oreos and powdered milk (that can be mixed with snow). It is also in Svalbard, just down the road from the Global Seed Vault. Oreo also produced a making-of video to show the genesis of the Oreo Vault from start to finish.
(7) CANDY HIERARCHY. The LA Times steps into a cultural minefield with “The official Halloween candy power rankings”. Number one is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which won’t get any argument from me. How many of those do I wear around my hips?
…It’s in that spirit that I present to you the totally unassailable, airtight and indisputable L.A. Times Halloween Candy Power Rankings. I’ve ranked candy before and I’ll likely do it again, but for this particular piece I’m changing up the metrics a bit: First, I’m judging by taste as well as what I’m calling Spirit of Halloween (SOH) — how much does the candy capture the je ne sais quoi of the season? Second, I’m judging by Halloween Trade Value (HTV): Everyone knows that a big part of trick-or-treating is swapping candy with your friends and siblings when the evening is over. Certain pieces are worth more than others….
…Superconductors – materials that transport electricity with no energy lost – have until now only worked at extremely cold temperatures, from about -100 degrees Fahrenheit to the near-absolute zero of space. But this month, that changed.
In a study published October 14, a team of researchers described a superconductor they engineered, which works at 59 degrees Fahrenheit. The material is composed of carbon, sulfur, and hydrogen, so is appropriately called carbonaceous sulfur hydride.
Physicists had previously found that a combination of hydrogen and sulfur worked as a superconductor under intense pressure and at -94 degrees Fahrenheit. With the addition of carbon, the team was able to create a material that worked at a higher temperature.
(9) MONSTROUS VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The B-Movie Monsters That Time Forgot!” on YouTube, Leigh Singer takes us back to the days when people fought crabs, shrews, and other monsters.
[Thanks to JJ, Carolyn Frank, Rich Lynch, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Jeffrey Jones, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]
NASA announced Tuesday that seven nations have joined the United States in signing the Artemis Accords, a series of bilateral agreements that would establish rules for the peaceful use of outer space and govern behavior on the surface of the moon.
The rules would allow private companies to extract lunar resources, create safety zones to prevent conflict and ensure that countries act transparently about their plans in space and share their scientific discoveries.
… By law, the United States is effectively barred from cooperating with China in space. But NASA officials said that even if Russia and China are not signatories, the accords would be successful because they would create a baseline for the world to follow.
“Precedent is important,” said Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for the office of international and interagency relations. “By embracing our values, along with our partners, we’re creating a track record, a norm of behavior that will influence the entire world to proceed with the transparent, peaceful and safe exploration of space.”
Signatories would agree, for example, to help provide emergency assistance in the case of an injured astronaut. They would also agree to protect historic sites, such as the Apollo 11 landing area. They would also agree to be transparent about their plans for space and share scientific data.
The accords would allow countries or companies to create “safety zones” so they could work to extract resources. NASA and China are both interested in going to the South Pole of the moon, where there is water in the form of ice in the shadows of craters.
Being able to operate there safely, without interference, will be critical if multiple nations are vying for the same resource in the same place, he said.
“The most valuable resource that I think any nation is going to be interested in is the water ice at the South Pole,” he said. “So if we get to a position where there is a competition for that resource that’s an area that we’re going to have to deal with.”
(3) TIME TO CAPITALIZE. DisCon III, the 79th Worldcon, officially began taking applications for the Capitalize! fan fund today — application forms are available here. The fund’s purpose is to “financially support fans, staff, and program participants from marginalized communities in an effort to lift voices across science fiction, fantasy, and fandom who have not been recognized in the past.” (More details in this post: “2021 Worldcon Launches Capitalize! The DisCon III Fan Fund”.)
Donations are requested so they can increase their outreach. Jared Dashoff says, “The Worldcon community can only gain by opening its doors and growing. Diversity benefits us all.”
IT WAS A COLD JANUARY morning in 2019 when an unfamiliar car rolled into Allendale, a small village nestled within the North Pennines in Northumberland County, England. This wasn’t unusual; in the prior three months the village had seen a fresh influx of visitors, ever since the grand opening of “Neil Cole’s Adventures in Science Fiction: Museum of Sci-fi.” The family-run business, with a menagerie of pop-culture intergalactic friends and foes in an impressive array of classic movie and television props, costumes, and original artwork, wasn’t so much a museum as it was a loving ode to the genre. As odd a choice as the quiet, historically rich Allendale seemed for such a contemporary collection, locals had whole-heartedly embraced the attraction and welcomed the tourism it brought.
The passengers in the vehicle, however, had not come as tourists. “Three huge guys were banging on our door every 15 minutes,” recalls Neil Cole, the eponymous owner, whose personal collection of memorabilia populates the museum. “There was a car watching from across the street. This was the [Northumberland County] Council; it was the first we’d heard from them.” The men, officers from Highways Enforcement, had been sent by the Council to follow up on a complaint that had been lodged against the museum by a single Allendale resident.
Cole and his wife, Lisa, had been accused of defiling their historically listed property by installing a modern timber shed outside it, along the street, without planning permission. They were given 14 days to remove it. This was no ordinary shed: It was home to a life-size Dalek.
Bureaucratic wrangling countered by popular support have put matters on pause while the next round of drama is prepared.
… “The Council was meant to work with me to come up with a solution and build something else,” Cole says. “But when we contacted them, they just wouldn’t.” In early August 2020, the Coles finally dismantled the shed. The loss comes with a silver lining, as the shed will be donated to the village preschool, where it will live on as a play area for children. A weather-resistant steel Dalek is currently being built to take the place of its predecessor as the new museum sentinel, Council be damned.
(6) HANDLE WITH CARE. When picking up some old volumes, collectors might be taking their lives in their hands: “Poison Book Project”.
The Winterthur Poison Book Project is an ongoing investigation initiated in April 2019 to identify potentially toxic pigments coloring Victorian-era bookcloth.
Analysis of decorated, cloth-case, publisher’s bindings at Winterthur Library revealed starch-coated bookcloth colored with “emerald green,” or copper acetoarsenite, an inorganic pigment known to be extremely toxic. This pigment’s popularity in England and the United States during the Victorian era is well documented. While the colorant was known to be widely used in textiles for home decoration and apparel, wallpaper, and toys, its use specifically in bookcloth has not been formally explored. Successful bookcloths were a closely guarded trade secret during the nineteenth century, limiting our current understanding of their materiality and manufacture. Conservation staff and interns at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library conducted a survey of bookcloth pigments in order to correlate the presence of emerald green and other potentially toxic pigments with specific publishers and date ranges. The project initially focused on the library’s circulating collection, which poses a greater potential risk to patrons, and then expanded to include the rare book collection.
In December 2019, the Winterthur Library data set was further expanded in cooperation with The Library Company of Philadelphia, which has significant holdings of cloth-case publisher’s bindings.
What differentiates this research project from others centered around arsenic-based pigments in library collections is threefold: first, the toxic pigment permeates the outer covering of Victorian-era, cloth-case publisher’s bindings; second, the large quantity of arsenic-based pigment present in bookcloth; and third, such mass-produced bindings may be commonly found in both special and circulating library collections across the United States and the United Kingdom….
(7) YOUTH MOVEMENT. In “Kids And Thrillers And Their Freaky Powers” on CrimeReads, C.J. Tudor recommends novels by Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Justin Cronin if you want to read books about kids with paranormal powers.
A Cosmology of Monsters by Sean Hamill
Noah Turner sees monsters.
So did his dad. In fact, he built a shrine to them, The Wandering Dark, a horror experience that the whole family operates every Halloween.
His mother denies her own glimpses of terror to keep the family from falling apart. But terrible things keep happening, including the death of Noah’s dad, the sudden disappearance of his oldest sister, Sydney, and his sister Eunice’s mental illness, not to mention the missing children from the town.
Then a huge supernatural creature that turns up on Noah’s doorstep one night . . . and Noah lets his monster in.
…As it happens, although I thought I had confirmed my willingness to be on panel, no one from WFC has been in touch to explain about the change of panel description. So now I am not entirely sure whether I am still on panel. In any case, I am considering my position.
But Morgan does advise –
…This is your chance, fandom. You keep complaining that “They” should fix Worldcon, even though you know that there is no “They” with the power to do it, at least not in the short term. “They” should fix World Fantasy too, and in this case They exist. Here they are. They even have a convenient email address for you to write to….
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1966 — Frank Herbert’s Dune shared the Best Novel Hugo with …And Call Me Conrad by Roger Zelazny. It would also win the Nebula that year as well, and a decade later Locus would pick it as the Best All-Time SF Novel. (Runner-ups for the Hugo were John Brunner‘s The Squares of the City, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Skylark DuQuesne.) The first appearance of “Dune” in print, began in Analog with “Dune World”, December 1963 – February 1964 and then “The Prophet of Dune”, January – May 1965.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 15, 1919 — E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least 140 novels and 230 short stories and novellas, he’s best remembered I think for the Dumarest Saga. His other long running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. He novelized a number of the Space: 1999 episodes. (Died 2010.) (CE)
Born October 15, 1924 — Mark Lenard. Sarek, father of Spock, in the Trek franchise for showing up in that role in “Journey to Babel”. Surprisingly he also played a Klingon in Star Trek The Motion Picture, and a Romulan in an earlier episode of Star Trek. He also had one-offs on Mission Impossible, Wild Wild West, Otherworld and Planet of The Apes. (Died 1996.) (CE)
Born October 15, 1926 — Ed McBain. Huh, I never knew he ventured beyond his mystery novels but he published approximately twenty-four genre stories and six SF novels between 1951 and 1971 under the names S. A. Lombino, Evan Hunter, Richard Marsten, D. A. Addams, and Ted Taine. ISFDB has a list and I can’t say I know any of them. Any of y’all read them? (Died 2005.) (CE)
Born October 15, 1954 — Jere Burns, 66. I’m giving him a birthday write-up for being on the so excellent Max Headroom as Breughel the organlegger who seizes the unconscious Edison Carter after his accident. He also had one-offs on Fantasy Island, The Outer Limits, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, From Dusk to Dawn, The X-Files and Lucifer. (CE)
Born October 15, 1955 — Tanya Roberts, 65. Stacey Sutton in the fourteenth Bond film, A View to Kill. Quite the opposite of her role as Kiri in The Beastmaster. And let’s not forget her in the title role of Sheena: Queen of the Jungle. (CE)
Born October 15, 1969 — Dominic West, 51. Jigsaw in the dreadful Punisher film, Punisher: War Zone. His first SFF role was as Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream which is the same year he shows up as Jerus Jannick in The Phantom Menace, and he was Sab Than on the rather excellent John Carter. One of his recent latest SFF roles was as Lord Richard Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot. (CE)
Born October 15, 1911 – James H. Schmitz. Eight novels, fifty shorter stories; most and deservedly famous for The Witches of Karres; also Telzey Amberdon and the Hub. He’s in Anne McCaffrey’s cookbook. The Best of JHS was the first NESFA’s Choice (New England SF Ass’n) book, hello Mark Olson. Independent and colorful, he never cared whether he was revolutionary or challenging, so naturally – (Died 1981) [JH]
Born October 15, 1912 – Chester Cuthbert. Six decades ago organized the Winnipeg SF Society. Fiction in Gernsback’s February 1934 and July 1934 Wonder Stories. Gave his collection to Univ. Alberta just before his death, two thousand boxes weighing 45 tons. Even wrote letters of comment to me. (Died 2009) [JH]
Born October 15, 1938 – Don Simpson, 82. Building, carving, drawing, singing, marvelously and modestly strange. Official Artist at Boskone 9. Proud possessor of a purchase order from the Smithsonian Institution for “One (1) alien artifact”, which he designed for the Air & Space Museum. Here is “Against the Battlemoon”. Here is a star probe. Here are a name badge and a calling card (which, as you may know, is just the half of it). Here is a sculpted garden. Here is his design for three-sided dice. [JH]
Born October 15, 1942 – Beatrice Gormley, 78. Six novels for us, biography of C.S. Lewis; a score of other fiction and nonfiction books, including biographies of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Laura Bush, Marie Curie and Maria Mitchell. After BG visited a Massachusetts school, a parent commenting on what impressed children observed “Wow! A real writer who is paid real money has to rewrite!” [JH]
Born October 15, 1955 – Emma Chichester Clark, 65. A score of covers, a dozen interiors for us, maybe more depending how you count; what about a blue kangaroo? ECC’s illustrations for Laura Cecil’s Listen to This won a Mother Goose Award. Here is her cover for “The Wizard of Oz” as Told by the Dog (who naturally considers the real title is Toto). Here is an illustration from her Alice in Wonderland. Here is the cover for her Through the Looking-Glass. Here she is with her companion Plumdog. [JH]
Born October 15, 1971 – Guy Hasson, 49. Short stories in English, plays and cinema in Hebrew, mostly. Two Geffen Awards. A dozen stories in English available here. Journal (in English) of his three-actor two-location film The Indestructibles here. Tickling Butterflies made from 128 fairy tales here. [JH]
What is it that makes you…YOU? This Christmas only on Disney+, Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new feature film “Soul” introduces Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) – a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (voice of Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.
…Grudge is a pet of Cleveland “Book” Booker, a new character for Discovery season 3 played by David Ajala. During the Star Trek Day Disco panel Ajala gave a description of Book’s cat:
“I can say the Grudge is a queen. She is feisty. She is cynical, cautious, and wary of people. But when she embraces you and it takes you in, she takes you in. It’s tough love! I’ve had to work my way up the ladder.”
Leeu’s handlers say the 2-year-old Maine Coon has taken to his new role, calling him a “one-take wonder.” His new castmates also praised their new feline costar during the Discovery Star Trek Day preview.
The official Star Trek Twitter account made the announcement today along with this very cute behind the scenes video:
Experience Only You Will Recognize the Signal, a serial space opera from the creators of the world’s first Zoom opera All Decisions Will Be Made By Consensus and the digital surveillance opera Looking at You. The series will release weekly 10-minute episodes as part of #stillHERE:ONLINE, culminating in a final 70-minute viewing experience.
…The travelers aboard the Grand Crew, a very massive luxury emigrant craft, expected to remain in therapeutic hypothermia until arrival at their new home planet. Unfortunately, the technology has been compromised. Isolated in their pods, the unfrozen migrants find themselves entangled in a shared phantasmagoria that smells like sour gummi worms. They are stuck in mid-transition between planet A and planet B, between the end of the old life and the beginning of the new life, between memory and amnesia. They can’t finish the job of erasing the past, and they can’t move into the tenebrous future. Don’t worry: the ship’s computer, Bob, has a plan.
…The team redefines the serial form with weekly 10 minute live revelations over 8 weeks culminating in a 80 minute world premiere increments each Friday October 29 – December 17, culminating in a full live stream showing on December 17 at 7pm as part of our HERE@Home Series. Formally, the eight-episode serial builds on the compositional flexibility, performer autonomy, and unexpected comedy for which the creators have been recognized.
Coffee creamers are having a momentttt right now. We’ve gotten creamers that taste like everything from Funfetti to Cinnamon Toast Crunch to cookies & cocoa to…coffee itself! You can truly try a new one every week and never, ever get bored. But Coffee mate is here to let you know that they’re not done innovating. In fact, they clued us into one of their most exciting drops ever: M&M’s coffee creamer….
…Launching today at participating locations nationwide, Dunkin’s new Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut is billed as “a classic yeast donut ring, topped with a strawberry flavored icing that features a bold blend of cayenne and ghost pepper, and finished with red sanding sugar for a sizzling look.” In case you need the clarification, the ghost pepper is a former record holder for world’s spiciest pepper, and is still insanely hot despite Guinness’s current title going to the Carolina Reaper. And good news for spice lovers: Though the “ghost” tie-in is clearly aimed at Halloween, this limited time only spicy donut is here to heat us up for the rest of the year, sticking around until December.
…But if you’re more about tricks than treats, Dunkin’ is fine with that, too. In fact, the brand is encouraging people to surprise their friends with a Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut and post the reactions on social media using the hashtag #DunkinSpicySide.
In a throughly horrifying announcement, Heinz has revealed it has created a hybrid of the brand’s iconic baked beans and its classic tomato soup.
Cream of Beanz Tomato soup is described as: “The rich tomatoey taste of the classic Cream of Tomato Soup, and brimming with delicious Beanz.”
…Calling the hybrid a “Monster Mash-up”, the brand has embraced the scary sound of the combination; not only by releasing in time for Halloween, but also by making the cans glow in the dark.
(18) PAIR OF CHAIRS. In the latest episode of the Two Chairs Talking podcast, Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg have fun talking about BIG objects in science fiction, from flying cities to spheres totally enclosing stars. “Episode 38: Big, bigger, biggest, bigly!”
…Officially, the reason Facebook banned me was for a post on Oct 2 where I said “I try not to comment on violence or crime until all the facts are in… But in this case, whoever sucker punched Rick Moranis should be slowly fed feet first into a wood chipper.” EXCEPT Facebook already banned me for that last week for “inciting violence”, I hit the protest button and Facebook REVERSED the ban a couple hours later. (because it is obviously a stupid joke)
But then yesterday, right after I posted a couple of links to the forbidden New York Post articles about Hunter Biden’s goofy misdeeds (and me being me, the posts were super active, with lots of comments and shares), Facebook banned me for the Rick Moranis post AGAIN. Only this time, I’m not allowed to protest….
(20) THIS AUCTION IS LIT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Let your childhood Christmas dreams take flight—along with the contents of your bank account. For a quarter mil or so you can give the Rudolph and Santa figures from the stop motion TV classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer a new home. And it’ll be just in time to save Santa from drowning as the last of the Arctic ice melts: “Rudolph and his nose-so-bright into auction will take flight”
Rudolph and his still-shiny nose are getting a new home, and it’s bound to be a lot nicer than the Island of Misfit Toys.
The soaring reindeer and Santa Claus figures who starred in in the perennially beloved stop-motion animation Christmas special “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” are going up for auction.
Auction house Profiles in History announced Thursday that a 6-inch-tall Rudolph and 11-inch-tall Santa used to animate the 1964 TV special are being sold together in the auction that starts Nov. 13 and are expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
Collector Peter Lutrario of Staten Island, New York, thought they might be the only items he would never sell, but when he recently turned 65 he thought about having something to leave for his children and grandchildren.
“I always said I would die with the dolls,” he told The Associated Press. “I’m just putting the family first.”
The figures were made by Japanese puppet maker Ichiro Komuro and used for the filming of the show at Tadaito Mochinaga’s MOM Productions in Tokyo.
They’re made of wood, wire, cloth and leather. Rudolph’s nose, after some minimal maintenance through the years, still lights up. The realistic bristles of Santa’s beard are made from yak hair.
(21) ANIMANIACS. John King Tarpinian says this is why people will want to subscribe to Hulu – all new episodes of Animaniacs starting November 20. They’re also bringing back Pinky and the Brain.
Tran (Rose Tico), Williams (Lando Calrissian) and Daniels (C-3PO) have joined the voice cast of “The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” and will reprise their roles from the venerable film franchise. “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” actors Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), Tom Kane (Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), and Dee Bradley Baker (clone troopers) are also lending their voices for the special.
“The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” sees Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, Rose and the droids as they celebrate Life Day, a joyous celebration on Chewie’s home planet of Kashyyyk that was first introduced in the 1978 “Star Wars Holiday Special.” Set after the events of 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the new 45-minute special follows Rey as she journeys with BB-8 to gain a deeper understanding of the Force. Along the way, she encounters characters from all nine Skywalker saga films, including Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda and Obi-Wan. It’s unclear if Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe) or Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) are returning.
The upcoming Lego-fied version is loosely inspired by the universally panned special that aired on CBS over 40 years ago.
(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Hades” on YouTube,Fandom Games calls the game “a retelling of Greek mythology that’s as awesome as it is totally unlike Greek mythology.” Among the additions: machine guns!
[Thanks to Chris Rose, Kevin Standlee, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, N., Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
….But fans familiar with the books noticed a major omission in its promotional materials: any reference to the Islam-inspired framing of the novel. In fact, the trailer uses the words, “a crusade is coming”, using the Christian term for holy war – something that occurs a mere three times in the six books of the original series. The word they were looking for was “jihad”, a foundational term and an essential concept in the series. But jihad is bad branding, and in Hollywood, Islam does not sell unless it is being shot at.
Dune is the second film adaptation of the popular 1965 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. Set approximately 20,000 years in the future on the desert planet Arrakis, it tells the story of a war for control of its major export: the mind-altering spice melange that allows for instantaneous space travel. The Indigenous people of this planet, the Fremen, are oppressed for access to this spice. The story begins when a new aristocratic house takes over the planet, centring the narrative on the Duke’s son Paul.
The trailer’s use of “crusade” obscures the fact that the series is full of vocabularies of Islam, drawn from Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. Words like “Mahdi”, “Shai-Hulud”, “noukker”, and “ya hya chouhada” are commonly used throughout the story. To quote Herbert himself, from an unpublished 1978 interview with Tim O’Reilly, he used this vocabulary, partly derived from “colloquial Arabic”, to signal to the reader that they are “not here and now, but that something of here and now has been carried to that faraway place and time”. Language, he remarks, “is mind-shaping as well as used by mind”, mediating our experience of place and time. And he uses the language of Dune to show how, 20,000 years in the future, when all religion and language has fundamentally changed, there are still threads of continuity with the Arabic and Islam of our world because they are inextricable from humanity’s past, present, and future….
(2) LEARNING HORROR. Sarah Gailey adds to her Personal Canons “Wayside School”, a tribute to Louis Sachar’s Wayside School series.
…In addition to tapping into the deep, gut-level instability of growing up, Sachar wrote some truly choice moments of horror into these books. It’s horror for children, in that it’s a little gross and a little ridiculous, but that doesn’t make it ineffective. …
These are all presented as genuinely frightening, and they land beautifully. When I read these books as a child, I was aware that they were funny and unrealistic — but I also felt a lingering sense of unease. The school was not a safe place, and the teachers were not safe or trustworthy people. The rules rarely made sense, but the consequences to breaking them were very real. Everything constantly seemed to be teetering on the brink of collapse.
These are the books that taught me to love being unsettled….
(3) STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES. Congratulations to the Strange Horizons’ reviews section which celebrated a milestone anniversary. Their twentieth-anniversary round table of reviewers past and present, featuring Rachel Cordasco, Erin Horáková, ML Kejera, Samira Nadkarni, Abigail Nussbaum, Charles Payseur, Nisi Shawl, Aishwarya Subramanian, and Bogi Takács, discusses “what reviewing is, why it matters—and why they bother with it.”
…Abigail Nussbaum: I see my reviewing as an offshoot of fandom. In the late 90s and early 00s I was active in a few fandoms—X-Files and Harry Potter, mostly—but gravitated almost exclusively to what would now be described as “meta,” analysis and reviewing rather than fanfic. Around the mid-00s I was active on a message board called Readerville, dedicated to discussions of books, which helped me both to expand my reading and explore my impulse to talk about the things I’d read. I started a blog in 2005 basically because I had a lot to say and nowhere to say it—certainly not at the length I wanted. A few months later, Niall Harrison got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in writing for Strange Horizons, and the rest is history.
The protagonist in your new novel tries to offset her job at a tech company where she is working for a repressive regime by helping some of its targets evade detection. Do you think many Silicon Valley employees feel uneasy about their work? Anyone who has ever fallen in love with technology knows the amount of control that it gives you. If you can express yourself well to a computer it will do exactly what you tell it to do perfectly, as many times as you want. Across the tech sector, there are a bunch of workers who are waking up and going: “How did I end up rationalising my love for technology and all the power it gives me to take away that power from other people?”
As a society, we have a great fallacy, the fallacy of the ledger, which is that if you do some bad things, and then you do some good things, you can talk them up. And if your balance is positive, then you’re a good person. And if the balance is negative, you’re a bad person. But no amount of goodness cancels out the badness, they coexist – the people you hurt will still be hurt, irrespective of the other things you do to make amends. We’re flawed vessels, and we need a better moral discourse. That’s one of the things this book is trying to establish.
When I moved to California from Toronto (by way of London), I was shocked by the prevalence of gun stores and, by their implication, that so many of my reasonable-seeming neighbors were doubtless in possession of lethal weapons. Gradually the shock wore off—until the plague struck. When the lockdown went into effect, the mysterious gun stores on the main street near my house sprouted around-the-block lines of poorly distanced people lining up to buy handguns. I used to joke that they were planning to shoot the virus and that their marksmanship was not likely to be up to the task, but I knew what it was all about. They were buying guns because they’d told themselves a story: As soon as things went wrong, order would collapse, and their neighbors would turn on them.
Somehow, I couldn’t help but feel responsible. I’m a science-fiction writer, and I write a lot of disaster stories. Made-up stories, even stories of impossible things, are ways for us to mentally rehearse our responses to different social outcomes. Philosopher Daniel Dennett’s conception of an intuition pump—“a thought experiment structured to allow the thinker to use their intuition to develop an answer to a problem”—suggests that fiction (which is, after all, an elaborate thought experiment) isn’t merely entertainment.*
That’s true. And it’s a problem….
(6) UNFORGOTTEN. Never mentioned by the actress, but Glorious Trash remembers Diana Rigg’s work in “Minikillers (1969)”.
German producers H.G. Lückel and D. Nettemann had an entrepreneurial idea: to provide entertainment for people getting their cars refilled at gas stations in Germany. The idea was to place TV sets by the pumps, so customers could watch a short film while their car was filled (this was before the days of self-service.) They envisioned an espionage thriller to capitalize on the James Bond/Eurospy genre. Casting about for a famous lead, they eventually settled on Diana Rigg — fresh from her biggest role in the Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. After negotiating, Rigg agreed to appear in these films.
Minikillers is a series of four short films, tied together into a coherent storyline: the idea was that customers would keep coming back to that particular gas station to see the conclusion. The series was shot on 8 millimeter and without dialog; sound effects and music were added later. In a way the project comes off like a silent film; all is relayed via movement, gestures, and facial expressions.
Rigg apparently did not realize the uber-low budget of these films until the camera(s) started to roll. However true to her contract she shot each of them…and never mentioned them again.
As they are up on YouTube:
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
2010 — Terry Pratchett won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement from the Mythopoeic Society. It was his second Award from them as five years earlier he’d won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature for A Hat Full of Sky, the second of the novels involving the young witch Tiffany Aching. That novel would also garner the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book. The series as a whole would later be nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature but the Award went to Ursula Vernon’s Castle Hangnail.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 13, 1872 – Boris Zvorykin. Designer and illustrator; illustrated books, decorated churches, worked for Tsar Nicholas II. Left at the Revolution, eventually went to Paris, in 1930 translated & illustrated four Russian fairy tales, also did porcelain for Porzella later incorporated in Villeroy & Boch. In 1978 Jacqueline Onassis found and produced his book, The Firebird(in English). Here is a print illustrating Boris Godounov. Here is one for Tsar Saltan. Here is “The Snow Maiden”. Here is a set of his V&B plates. (Died 1942) [JH]
Born October 13, 1906 – William Morrison. Four novels, eighty shorter stories; “The Science Stage” in F&SF; memoir in Greenberg, Olander & Pohl’s 1980 thirty-year Galaxy anthology; posthumous collection The Sly Bungerhop (2017). Ph.D. research chemist under another name. Comics, credited with creating J’Onn J’Onzz the Manhunter from Mars. Wrote about archeology, ballet, opera, theater, Rome. (Died 1980) [JH]
Born October 13, 1923 – Iona Opie, C.B.E. Folklorist, anthologist, with her husband Peter; their collection of children’s books and ephemera 16th-20th Centuries is in the Bodleian Lib’y (20,000 pieces; two-year public appeal raised the £500,000 cost); audiotapes of children’s games & songs in the British Lib’y. Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes; Lore & Language of Schoolchildren; two dozen stories for us in The Classic Fairy Tales; two dozen more books. Coote Lake Medal jointly. Iona made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born October 13, 1926 — Lenny Bruce. Yes, the foul-mouthed stand-up comic. ISFDB lists him as having co-authored three essays with Harlan Ellison in Rouge magazine in 1959 all called “Bruce Here”. Rogue also printed SF stories as well from Fritz Leiber, Robert Bloch, Mack Reynolds and Harlan Ellison to name some of their writers. It lasted but six issues. (Died 1966.) (CE)
Born October 13, 1956 — Chris Carter, 64. Best known for the X-Files and Millennium which I think is far better than X-Files was, but also responsible for Harsh Realm which lasted three episodes before being cancelled. The Lone Gunmen managed to last thirteen episodes before poor ratings made them bite the bullet. (CE)
Born October 13, 1959 — Wayne Pygram, 61. His most SFish role was as Scorpius on Farscape and he has a cameo as Grand Moff Tarkin in Revenge of the Sith because he’s a close facial resemblance to Peter Cushing. He’s likely best recognized as himself for his appearance on Lost as a faith healer named Isaac of Uluru. (CE)
Born October 13, 1967 — Kate Walsh, 53. She has the recurring role of The Handler in The Umbrella Academy series. Walsh starred as Sandra Anderson in the biblical horror film Legion, and was a sexy waitress in the Bewitched film. She was Amal Colb in Scary Movie 5, the fifth and final installment in the Scary Movie franchise. (CE)
Born October 13, 1967 – Petri Hiltunen, 53. Cartoonist and illustrator. Puupäähattu award. His Praedor comics led to a role-playing game of the same name. In his comic strip The Return of Väinämöinen, the Eternal Sage of Kalevala ends his self-imposed exile to find he might have been gone too long, e.g. these newfangled “potatoes” are now considered a traditional food. PH contributes to the SF magazine Tähtivaeltaja (“Star Wanderer”); he’s well known in Finnish fandom e.g. at Finncon. Here is an illustration for Knight of the Cursed Land. Here is the cover for his graphic-novel version of Macbeth. Here is an illustration for the board-game Aegemonia. [JH]
Born October 13, 1969 — Aaron Rosenberg, 51. He’s written novels for Star Trek, StarCraft, Warcraft, Exalted, Stargate Atlantis, and Warhammer, as well as other franchises. He’s even written a novel set In the Eureka ‘verse, Eureka: Roads Less Traveled, under the house name of Cris Ramsay. Eureka novels sound fascinating but this is the only one that I found so far. (CE)
Born October 13, 1975 – Jana Bauer, 45. Her Witch Vanisher is available in English; the publisher says she has a deviously humorous narrative style. She edits Exchanges, short prose from different countries, and Forget-me-nots in Slovenian and English for the children of Slovene emigrants (I’ve left out the Slovenian titles because of software character trouble). In the Land of Gingerbread was the first Forget-me-not (see p. 2 of this newsletter). For Scary Fairy in the Fearful Forest see here. A dozen other books. [JH]
Born October 13, 1976 — Jennifer Sky, 44. Lead character conveniently named Cleopatra in Sam Raimi’s Cleopatra 2525 series. (Opening theme “In the Year 2525” is performed by Gina Torres who’s also a cast member.) She’s had guest roles on Seaquest DSV, Xena, Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And she was Lola in The Helix…Loaded, a parody of The Matrix which scored 14% at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers. (CE)
Born October 12, 1983 – Lesley Nneka Arimah, 37. Nat’l Magazine Award, O. Henry Award, Commonwealth Short Story Prize. “Skinned” (Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy Stories, Machado ed. 2019) and four more for us in her collection What Does It Mean When a Man Falls from the Sky?, Kirkus Prize and don’t miss its last review at her Website, where also she says she is working on a novel about you. [JH]
(11) GETTING INTO THE SPIRIT. Cat Rambo reads a story for Halloween.
This short urban fantasy story originally appeared in Stamps, Tramps, and Vamps, edited by Shannon Robinson. It takes place in Durham, North Carolina, and involves a tattoo artist who’s got a different purpose in mind than her latest client does. It seemed like it would be a fun Halloween story to share!
…Derbyshire, an early electronic music pioneer, worked at the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop in the 1960s, where she composed the theme for the long-running science fiction series Doctor Who. Written and directed by Caroline Catz, the film features archival materials, interviews with Derbyshire’s colleagues and collaborators, and dramatizations starring Catz herself as the composer. Derbyshire’s original compositions are featured alongside a soundtrack by Cosey Fanni Tutti, constructed from samples Derbyshire’s posthumously released “Attic Tapes.”
(14) UNCLE WALT. Defunctland is “the show about the past…of the future!” Here are two of its episodes devoted to Walt Disney’s landmarks Disneyland and EPCOT.
In this episode, Kevin finally reaches the opening of Disneyland, focusing on the development and history of Tomorrowland 1955, the first, hastily-made version of the famous theme park land, including attractions such famous attractions as Rocket to the Moon, Autopia, Space Station X-1, the Matterhorn, the Skyway, Submarine Voyage, and the Monorail.
Walt Disney made ambitious plans for a City of Tomorrow named E.P.C.O.T. just before his death in 1966, but the plans were soon abandoned. What were Walt’s ideas for his city of the future, what happened to the project, and would it have worked?
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Twilight: Eclipse Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says the third Twilight movie has a very strange title, because “Why would you spend two hours looking at an eclipse?”
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, N., Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, Will R., John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credt goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) YOU HAVEN’T MISSED FUTURECON SF. View sessions from this past weekend’s FutureCon SF on their YouTube channel. For a list of the topics, check the schedule.
William Gibson once said that the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Geographical location and wealth could indeed limit access to considerable advances in technology. However, imagination is a more subtle power. It does not know borders or languages. From Beijing to Lagos, from Rio de Janeiro to Los Angeles, ideas are flourishing in the form of stories.
In the 21st century, a worldwide pandemic demands realists of a larger reality. So we reach out to you with our voices from all over the world through our devices. The time has come to draw attention to Science Fiction stories written all over the planet — stories made of different languages, colors, shapes, hopes, and beliefs.
The future happens everywhere. That’s why we are here.
(2) GOOD TO THE LAST DROP. “Miles grinned sleepily, puddled down in his uniform. ‘Welcome to the beginning.’” So starts Tom Comitta’s “Loose Ends”, a short story/study of sci-fi and fantasy novels published today in Wired magazine — a literary supercut made entirely out of last lines from 137 science fiction and fantasy novels.
Fragments of climactic and revelatory moments from classics and pulps line up into a sequence of vignettes that meditate on genre norms and the ideological undercurrents that support them. As with any of my supercuts, the goal is to examine patterns in how we produce fiction, while creating a new story in the process.
“Loose Ends” is a follow up to “First Impressions,” which was BOMB Magazine‘s most-read piece of 2018. While “First Impressions” explored the first sentences of hundreds of New Yorker stories, “Loose Ends” looks at how we conclude some of our greatest genre stories. Expect lots of long goodbyes, drinking, returning “home,” and turning away into the darkness.
(3) DOGGONE GOOD. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The kids fantasy TV show Wishbone, in which a Jack Russell terrier travels in time, is celebrating its quarter century this September. Christian Wallace and Cat Cardinas of the Texas Monthly took a deep dive into the series, its legacy and how it came to be in their article “Top Dog: An Oral History of ‘Wishbone’”.” It is a delightful (and surprisingly detailed) piece of reporting, filled with absolute gems such as: “If you could be friendly with the dog, you were a made man. Like mafia made.”
Texas has plenty to bark about when it comes to fictional canine heroes. There’s Old Yeller, the loyal Lab mix whose tragic end has made schoolchildren weep for six decades, and everyone’s favorite do-gooder Benji, whose antics have made him a box office smash. And of course there’s Hank the Cowdog, the self-styled head of ranch security who’s forever on patrol (when he’s not sleeping on his gunnysack) at his Panhandle spread in Ochiltree County. But only one pooch took children on adventures through classic works of literature: Wishbone.
Set in the fictional Texas town of Oakdale, Wishbone, which first aired on PBS in 1995, followed a plucky Jack Russell terrier as he daydreamed his way into literary masterpieces. …
(4) THE CAT’S MEOW. Cat Rambo’s latest Cat Chat is an interview with Russian speculative fiction writer Yaroslav Barsukov, the first installment of whose novella “Tower of Mist and Straw” appeared in the September issue of Metaphorosis Magazine.
Barsukov discusses the genesis of his novella, writer’s block, Russian speculative fiction and specifically Russian fantasy, as well as his hopes for the novella.
As you say, from fairly early in your career, you were able to produce publishable copy quickly and efficiently. During the mid-to-late ’50s, you were publishing close to a million words of SF annually, which is a stunning amount. A lot of your ’50s output was produced to order: you had contracts with several magazine editors that specified monthly wordage for a set fee. You’ve described much of your work during this period as “utilitarian prose […] churned out by the yard,” and you’ve written about how, when you attended the Milford Writers’ Conference in 1956, some older authors there upbraided you for essentially wasting your talents on slick product. Can you describe the sorts of pressures writers were under at the time, especially someone who, like you, was trying to make a career in SF, as opposed to simply moonlighting in the field, as so many others did?
Since I was particularly prolific and capable of meeting the demands of various markets from high to low, selling better than a story a week in those early years, I was under no particular economic pressure — right out of college, I was earning at the Heinlein and Asimov level. Except for Philip K. Dick and, for a time, Robert Sheckley, most of the other SF writers of the day were unable to produce any notable volume of material, and although the pay level of the magazines (book publication was not yet much of a factor) was quite good in terms of the purchasing power of the dollar in those days, one could not live comfortably selling one or two stories a month, as most of them did. Right out of college I had a handsome five-room apartment on one of Manhattan’s best residential streets, went to Europe in 1957, etc.
The older writers did not exactly “upbraid” me for my willingness to write quickie space opera, but they did tease me in a fairly affectionate way. The most useful criticism I got came from Lester del Rey, who pointed out that, although I was selling everything I wrote and making a good living at it, there was no long-term value in writing pulp stories that would never be reprinted in anthologies or story collections — all I would get would be the initial sale. I took that to heart and began concentrating on more ambitious stories for the better magazines. What neither Lester nor I nor anyone else foresaw was that in the age of the internet even those early pulp stories would be reprinted again and again and continue to bring in income, just as my stories for Astounding and Galaxy were doing. He was, though, fundamentally right, within the context of the times, that even if money was my primary concern, I would ultimately make more by aiming high rather than by churning out reams of “utilitarian” prose.
Supergirl‘s tenure as the resident defender of National City is reaching an unexpectedly early conclusion. The upcoming sixth season of The CW’s superhero series will be its last, TVLine has learned….
Supergirl‘s freshman run, which premiered in October 2015 on CBS, averaged 7.7 million total viewers and a 1.7 demo rating (in Live+Same Day numbers). Upon being relocated for Season 2, it slipped to a CW-typical 2.4 mil/0.7. With its most recent, fifth season, the Arrowverse series averaged 840,000 total viewers and a 0.22 demo rating, down a good (but not) 30 percent from Season 4.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
September 1997 — Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Timequake was first published by Putnam. This semi-autobiographical novel is definitely genre. It would not be on the Hugo ballot as his win for Best Dramatic Presentation for Slaughterhouse Five at TorCon twenty-four years earlier was his last appearance on the Hugo ballot, and his only Hugo. This novel didn’t impress the genre award nominators, only getting a preliminary nomination for the August Derleth Fantasy Award for Best Novel. It would be his final novel as another one was not forthcoming in the last decade of his life.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 22, 1917 — Samuel A. Peeples. Memory Alpha says he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek-lore, ‘[Gene Roddenberry] got “Wagon Train to the stars” from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, “Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?”’” (Died 1997.) (CE)
Born September 22, 1921 – Will Elder. Comic Book Hall of Fame, 2003. Harvey Awards Hall of Fame, 2019. May have been a mad satirist; was certainly a Mad satirist. His first, “Ganefs!”, which I got in Son of Mad, with the 1959 cover, at a used-book shop, already had his characteristic line (though he grew famous for imitating others’) and gags. Of course I’d like to learn just what connection led him to the propeller beanie he put on “Woman Wonder!”. He and Harvey Kurtzman after leaving Mad drew Little Annie Fanny for Playboy; either they’d read Candy, or were phlebotomists enough to find the vein. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born September 22, 1925 – Aurel Buiculescu, 95. Fifty-five covers for Science Fiction Stories (in Romanian). Here is No. 88. Here is No. 124. Here is No. 337. Here is No. 408. Here is No. 464. Also I found this cover for Yefremov’s Andromeda Nebula (in Hungarian). [JH]
Born September 22, 1947 – Jo Beverley. One novel, half a dozen shorter stories for us. Better known for historical and modern romances: forty novels, a dozen shorter stories there; five RITAs; two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Golden Leaf; Readers’ Choice Award; only Canadian romance writer in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. Website. (Died 2016) [JH]
Born September 22, 1952 – Paul Kincaid, 68. Reviews in fanzines; in Vector, variously Features Editor, Reviews Editor, Editor; reviews in Foundation, Interzone, NY Rev of SF, SF Site, Strange Horizons; also Literary Review, New Scientist, Times Literary Supplement. Co-edited three issues (with Bruce Gillespie, Maureen Kincaid Speller) of Steam Engine Time. Wrote A Very British Genre and What Is It We Do When We Read SF. Twenty years chairman of Clarke Award; co-edited (with Andrew Butler) the 2006 Clarke Award anthology; received Clareson Award. Website. [JH]
Born September 22, 1954 — Shari Belafonte, 66. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well-known genre performance. (CE)
Born September 22, 1968 — Eve Gil, 52. Eight novels (one for us), a few shorter stories. Premio La Gran Novela Sonorense, Premio Nacional de Periodismo Fernando Benítez, Concurso de Libro Sonorense (three times), Premio Nacional Efrain Huerta. Her SF novel Requiem for a Broken Doll has been excerpted in English. [JH]
Born September 22, 1971 — Elizabeth Bear, 49. Her first series was a superb trilogy, which might be considered cyberpunk, centered on a character named Jenny Casey. She’s a very prolific writer; I’m fond of her Promethean Age, New Amsterdam and Karen Memory series. She won a Astounding Award for Best New Writer, a Hugo Award for Best Short Story for “Tideline”, and a Hugo for Best Novelette for “Shoggoths in Bloom”. One of only five writers to win multiple Hugo Awards for fiction after winning the Astounding Award! Very impressive indeed! It is worth noting that she was one of the regular panelists on now sadly defunct podcast SF Squeecast, which won the 2012 and 2013 Hugo Awards for “Best Fancast”. (CE)
Born September 22, 1981 — Maria Ashley Eckstein, 39. She’s voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and Star Wars Forces of Destiny. She even has a voice only cameo as Ashoka in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. (CE)
Born September 22, 1982 — Billie Piper, 38. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played Lily Frankenstein in the TV series Penny Dreadful. She also played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North.(CE)
Born September 22, 1984 – Mo Francisco, 36. Four short stories for us in Alternative Alamat (Tagalog, “fable”), Philippine Speculative Fiction; half a dozen others. “Always very perky and friendly, but that could be just the caffeine.” [JH]
Born September 22, 1985 — Tatiana Maslany, 35. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the TV series Orphan Black which won win a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode, She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She’ll be playing She-Hulk in an upcoming Marvel series. (CE)
If there is one, teeny tiny upside for Rhianna Pratchett in the fact that her father is no longer around, it’s that she doesn’t have to hear what he thinks about her first novel.
“Obviously, it goes without saying that I wish he was still here,” says Rhianna. Her father, Discworld author Terry Pratchett, died in 2015. “But the tiniest silver lining is that he would have had lots of opinions about what I was doing right and wrong, and I think it would have been probably even more nerve-racking to have him read it.”
Out next week, Crystal of Storms is the latest instalment in the rebooted Fighting Fantasy books, the popular 80s and 90s adventure game series in which the reader plays the hero, battles monsters armed only with a pencil and a dice, and makes choices (fight the beast or run away; take the left fork or the right) in an attempt to survive their quest unscathed. Twenty-million copies of the game books have sold around the world since the first was published in 1982.
7. Saruman: Can Influence The Weather And Conjure Storms
During an intense scene of Fellowship, Saruman is seen conjuring an ominous snowstorm to stop the heroes from passing through Caradhras. This quickly turns into a death storm that threatens to bury the Fellowship. And the fact that Gandalf’s efforts to counter it comes up empty would seem to show Saruman has the upper hand when it comes to influencing the weather.
Aside from Saruman’s ability to birth an army of super-Orcs with his industrial machine, he also proves to be quite a “force of nature” too.
Come and meet one of our Dinosaur Puppets and a Puppeteer from the Museum’s Performing Arts team in this virtual performance. They will share how they work together with paleontologists to help bring science to “life” through puppetry!
… The CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] also offers advice for mask-wearing.
“A costume mask … is not a substitute for a cloth mask,” reads the CDC guidance. “A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.”
The CDC says that people should not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask, because the costume mask may make it hard to breathe.
… To capture the thrill of trick-or-treating while still staying safe, the CDC recommends having a “scavenger-hunt style trick-or-treat search with your household members” instead of going from house to house.
Some trick-or-treating options can be done outdoors while still maintaining social distance. According to the CDC, a “moderate risk” option is participating in one-way trick-or-treating neighborhood event where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up at the edge of driveways or yards for kids to grab and go while maintaining a safe distance, and all going in the same direction. If you do choose this option and prepare goodie bags, make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing.
The novel and film Jurassic Park are based on the idea that DNA preserved in amber resin could provide the key for bringing dinosaurs back to life. Luckily, for avocados, making sure the world’s favorite toast topping doesn’t go extinct could be significantly easier.
Recent research out of Australia’s University of Queensland has demonstrated that avocado shoots can be cryogenically frozen for use by future generations. “The aim is to preserve important avocado cultivars and key genetic traits from possible destruction by threats like bushfires, pests and disease such as laurel wilt—a fungus which has the capacity to wipe out all the avocado germplasm in Florida,” PhD student Chris O’Brien stated. “Liquid nitrogen does not require any electricity to maintain its temperature, so by successfully freeze avocado germplasm, it’s an effective way of preserving clonal plant material for an indefinite period.”
…Neena Mitter, a professor at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Horticultural Science who has been working with O’Brien, was willing to take things one giant leap further. “I suppose you could say they are space-age avocados—ready to be cryo-frozen and shipped to Mars when human flight becomes possible,” she added. “But it is really about protecting the world’s avocado supplies here on earth and ensuring we meet the demand of current and future generations for their smashed ‘avo’ on toast.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Kathy Sullivan, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Tom Comitta, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]
During a live stream today, Orbit Books officially announced the title and cover for the final installment of James S.A. Corey’s science fiction series, The Expanse: Leviathan Falls, which will hit stores sometime in 2021 .
…Orbit didn’t release any synopsis for the book, but Abraham and Franck did explain that the novel will provide a definitive ending for the series.
During the live stream, Abraham and Franck answered a handful of reader questions. In addition to Leviathan Falls, they plan to have another novella that’ll come out after that final book, which will provide a “nice grace note” to some hanging threads from the series. Abraham noted that he’s been waiting to write the story for “years.”
Franck explained that they don’t plan to write any novels in the world, but that Alcon could always put together another Expanse-related project for television.
(2) RSR UPDATE. Rocket Stack Rank’s Greg Hullender announced today in “Taking a Break” that he’ll be on hiatus as a short fiction reviewer —
After five years of writing reviews for Rocket Stack Rank, I’m going to take an indefinite break. This month marks five years since we started the site, and so it seemed like a good time to pause.
Eric Wong says he will continue to update RSR with monthly lists of stories that readers can flag and rate and find reviews for, as well as aggregate recommendations from various sources (currently 6 reviewers, 16 awards, 7 year’s best anthologies) for the Year-To-Date and Year’s Best lists.
Five years ago, in September 2015, Eric and I started Rocket Stack Rank as a response to the Sad/Rabid Puppy episode that ruined the 2015 Hugo Awards. As we said at the time, we wanted “to create a website to encourage readers of science fiction and fantasy to read and nominate more short fiction.”
The response was very positive, and we’ve enjoyed steady support from readers. We quickly ramped up to a few thousand unique monthly users, with 20-30,000 monthly page views (we recently passed 1,000,000 total page views), and we’re currently the #1 Google result for “short science fiction story reviews.” Best of all, we were finalists for the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine three times (2017, 2018, 2019). Thank you for supporting us!
(3) ANOTHER VIEW OF ROWLING’S CONTROVERSIAL LATEST. Alison Flood, in “JK Rowling’s Troubled Blood: don’t judge a book by a single review” in The Guardian, says she’s read Rowling’s Troubled Blood and although there are parts she says are “tone-deaf” that she doesn’t consider the novel “transphobic” since the cross-dressing character is not the main villain and is not described as trans or even a transvestite.
…Perhaps some will still consider this depiction transphobic, given Rowling’s rightly widely criticised views on trans people. It is, at best, an utterly tone-deaf decision to include an evil man who cross-dresses after months of pain among trans people and their allies. But there is also reason to be wary of any moral outrage stoked by the Telegraph, a paper that generally doesn’t shy away from publishing jeering at the “woke crowd”, or claims that children are “put at risk by transgender books”, or attacks on “the trans lobby”. And we should also be wary of how one review has been reproduced without question by countless newspapers and websites, by journalists who have shown no indication of having read the book themselves.
…The McFadden-fronted podcast will be the first one from the Nacelle Company and serves as a stepping stone for its NacelleCast Studios, the company’s neighboring podcast studio in Burbank. The new podcast studio will serve as the main production space for all NacelleCast productions.
The Nacelle Company has created a number of pop history-focused titles including Netflix’s The Movies That Made Us, The Toys That Made Us and the CW’s Discontinued. Branching into the podcast space is a step in the company’s efforts to broaden its reach of pop history-focused content.
Anil Menon is joining Gadi as co-host for a one-hour discussion on science fiction and change, bringing along friends and colleagues Christopher Brown, Claude Lalumière, Geoff Ryman, Nisi Shawl, and Vandana Singh. This Saturday, 19 September.
Arguably, science fiction has had a focus on working out the consequences of a change (what-if scenarios) rather than how a certain change comes to be. This seems to be especially true in the case of social or political change. The distinguished panelists will discuss the possibilities and limitations of (science) fiction for representing a changing world.
(6) GENUINE PIXEL NEWS. Plans for a Japanese adaptation of The Door Into Summer were unveiled on Twitter. Thread starts here.
(7) UNDERTALE CONCERT. Beginning at the 45-minute mark in this YouTube video, you can listen to the full orchestral concert that was staged for the 5th anniversary of the video game Undertale.
This is probably why many folks who watched the concert last night absolutely got in their feelings about the game. The top comment on the YouTube video says, “I cried like twice through the whole thing.” I saw the same sentiment unfold across my Twitter timeline, where folks reminisced on the game’s highlights and what it meant to them when they played it. It was a total mood shift from the general depressing and terrifying tenor of the year. Undertale is, at its heart, an optimistic game about friendship and love.
…How would we know such organisms might exist? Many chemical compounds that simple microbes produce are also made by non-biological processes. But one, phosphine or PH3, is difficult to produce on Earth abiotically (without life) and, as argued by Seager and her colleagues in another paper, could be a good “biosignature” or sign of life on planets around other stars. This isn’t always the case: The compound is found in the dense hydrogen-rich atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, where it is understood to be an abiotic product of simple chemistry, and will likely be found on gas giants around other stars using the James Webb Space Telescope, planned for launch next year. But Venus — which has an atmosphere in which hydrogen is extremely scarce — is a place where phosphine is a plausible biosignature.
The detection of sufficient quantities of phosphine in Venus’s atmosphere would be an intriguing pointer to the possibility of life in the sulfuric-acid clouds of our sister planet, but many questions would remain. Is it possible that planetary chemists have overlooked ways to produce phosphine on Venus in the absence of life? And if phosphine is produced by biology, where did that life originate? It is one thing to imagine life adapting to and hanging out opportunistically in the clouds of Venus. It is quite another to imagine that life could have originated there, sandwiched between the hell of the surface and the frozen realms of the thin upper atmosphere….
(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
September 1995 — Twenty five years ago this month at Intersection, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Mirror Dance won the Hugo for Best Novel. Other finalists were John Barnes’ Mother of Storms, Nancy Kress‘s Beggars and Choosers, Michael Bishop‘s Brittle Innings and James Morrow’s Towing Jehovah. It would be the third Hugo winner of the Vorkosigan saga, and Bujold’s third Hugo award-winning novel in a row. It’s the direct sequel to Brothers in Arms. The Vorkosigan saga would win the Best Series Hugo at Worldcon 75. (CE)
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 16, 1898 — Hans Augusto Rey. German-born American illustrator and author best remembered for the beloved Curious George children’s book series that he and his wife Margret Rey created from 1939 to 1966. (An Eighties series of five-minute short cartoons starring him was produced by Alan Shalleck, along with Rey. Ken Sobol, scriptwriter of Fantastic Voyage, was the scriptwriter here.) His interest in astronomy led to him drawing star maps which are still use in such publications as Donald H. Menzel’s A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. A simpler version for children called Find the Constellations, is still in print as well. (Died 1977.) (CE)
Born September 16, 1917 – Art Widner. Pioneer in earliest days, he left for a few decades to teach school, beget children, other mundane matters, then returned, resuming his fanzine YHOS (“Your Humble Obedient Servant”, pronounced ee-hoss though I said it should rhyme with dose), the Eo-Neo. See here. Here is his cover for the Mar 40 Spaceways. On his board game Interplanetary see here. DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate. Big Heart (our highest service award). First Fandom Hall of Fame. YHOS first took my note on The Glass Bead Game. As of his passing he may have been Oldest of All; rooming with him at a few cons, I promised not to call him “Woody” (see Mary Sperling in Methuselah’s Children). Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born September 16, 1916 — Mary, Lady Stewart (born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow, lovely name that). Yes, you know her better as just Mary Stewart. Genre wise, she’s probably best known for her Merlin series which walks along the boundary between the historical novel and fantasy. Explicitly fantasy is her children’s novel A Walk in Wolf Wood: A Tale of Fantasy and Magic. (Died 2014.) (CE)
Born September 16, 1930 — Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She also appeared in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born September 16, 1932 — Peter Falk. His best remembered role genre is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the Story. The person who replaced him in the full cast reading of The Princess Bride for the Wisconsin Democratic Party fundraiser, Director Rob Reiner, wasn’t nearly as good as he was in that role. He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.) (CE)
Born September 16, 1932 – Karen Anderson. Fan and pro herself, wife of another, mother of a third, mother-in-law of a fourth. While still Karen Kruse she was WSFA (Washington, DC, SF Ass’n) secretary and joined SAPS (Spectator Amateur Press Society) and The Cult. Marrying Poul Anderson she moved to the San Francisco Bay area, bore Astrid, and thus was mother by marriage to Greg Bear. Stellar quality also in filk, costuming, and our neighbor the Society for Creative Anachronism. At an SF con party a few decades ago I arrived in English Regency clothes having just taught Regency dancing; she sang “How much is that Dukie in the window?” See here; appreciation by OGH here. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born September 16, 1938 – Owen Hannifen, 82. How he found the LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.; “LASFS” pronounced as if rhyming with a Spanish-English hybrid “mas fuss”, unless you were Len Moffatt, who rhymed it with “sass mass” and had earned the right to do it his way) minutes, then and now known as The Menace of the LASFS, I’ve never learned; with a good Secretary – Jack Harness, Mike Glyer, John DeChancie – they’ve been swell; anyway they lured OH to L.A. (from Vermont?), where he roomed with Harness and others in a series of apartments, the Labyrinth, Labyrinth 3, Labyrinth of Valeron, Labyrinth DuQuesne (see here). He was in N’APA, OMPA, SAPS, and The Cult. Dungeons & Dragons was fire-new then; he and his wife Hilda (also “Eclaré”) did that. They moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, Sampo Productions (named for the magic sampo in “Why the Sea Is Salt”), and incidentally the SCA. [JH]
Born September 16, 1948 – Julia Donaldson, C.B.E., 72. Author, playwright, performer; almost two hundred books. Famous for The Gruffalo. Half a dozen stories of Princess Mirror-Belle. Busked in America, England, France, Italy. Bristol Street Theatre, British Broadcasting Corp., Edinburgh Book Festival. Honorary doctorates from Univ. Bristol, Univ. Glasgow. Children’s Laureate of the United Kingdom 2011-2013. Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Website here. [JH]
Born September 16, 1952 — Lisa Tuttle, 68. Tuttle won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute”, which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include Catwitch, The Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Loverscollection. Her latest novel is The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross. (CE)
Born September 16, 1960 – Kurt Busiek, 60. Writer for Dark Horse, DC, Dynamite, Eclipse, Harris, Image, Marvel, Topps. Known particularly for Astro City, Marvels, the Thunderbolts. Nine Eisners, six Harveys; two Comics Buyer’s Guide Awards for Favorite Writer. Here he’s interviewed about Conan. Alex Ross put KB and wife Ann into Marvels 3 reacting to the arrival of the Silver Surfer and Galactus. I’ll leave out Page 33. What jewels these Filers be. [JH]
Born September 16, 1960 — Mike Mignola, 60. The Hellboy stories, of course, are definitely worth reading, particularly the early ones. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing What-If story which isn’t at all the same as the animated film of that name which is superb on its own footing, and the B.P.R.D. stories are quite excellent too. I’m very fond of the first Hellboy film, not so much of the second, though the animated films are excellent. (CE)
Born September 6, 1982 – María Zaragoza, 38. Three short stories for us; novels, poetry, film scripts, graphic novels. Post-human, anthology of Spanish SF authors. Atheneum of Valladolid Award, Young Atheneum of Seville Novel Prize. Part of Fernando Marías Amando’s storytelling collective “Children of Mary Shelley”; of “The Cabin” collective of mutant artists (painters, poets, writers, sculptors, photographers), Ciudad Real. [JH]
(10b) BELATED BIRTHDAY. Worldcon 76 chair Kevin Roche turned 60 on September 15 — we wish him a cake-full of candles for the occasion!
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Thatababy calls it a “new Mary Worth” storyline. Daniel Dern says, “I had to convince myself I hadn’t dreamed it.”
Lio discovers what happens when horror movies take over your yard.
(12) CLAREMONT ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL. Marvel Comics will honor the extraordinary career of writer Chris Claremont in December with the Chris Claremont Anniversary Special.
For the past 50 years, Claremont has graced the Marvel Universe with his brilliant storytelling—creating and defining some of its most iconic heroes and building the framework for one of its most treasured franchises.
In the Chris Claremont Anniversary Special, the acclaimed writer returns to the world of the X-Men with a brand-new story. Dani Moonstar is drafted for a mission across time and space for an incredible psychic showdown against the Shadow King—joining forces with other characters created and defined by the pen of Chris Claremont! In this extra-sized milestone issue, Claremont will team up with a host of iconic artists including Brett Booth and reunite with his classic New Mutants collaborator, Bill Sienkiewicz.
…Chris Claremont’s influential run on X-Men changed the comic book landscape forever. As the architect behind the epic tapestry that makes up the world of mutants, Claremont’s contributions went far beyond the creation of characters but to the very themes, concepts, and allegories that are ingrained in the X-Men today. Claremont’s work catapulted the X-Men into unprecedented success with now classic stories such as Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past as well as series like New Mutants and Wolverine’s first solo series. In addition to his groundbreaking work on X-Men titles, Claremont also had memorable runs on books such as Ms. Marvel and Fantastic Four.
Just before “Fargo” returned to production in August, Noah Hawley — the writer who somehow adapted an eccentric and beloved Coen brothers film into one of the most decorated television series of the past decade — sent a letter to the show’s cast and crew. He wrote about the importance of safety. He wrote about mutual responsibility. He wrote about Tom Cruise.
“Someday in the not too distant future Tom Cruise will go to space,” the message began. “He will bring a film crew with him. He will bring a director and actors. They will shoot a film. Now space, as we know, is an airless vacuum where nothing can live. A hostile void where a suit breach or airlock malfunction can kill, where even the simplest tasks must be done methodically, deliberately. Astronauts train for years to prepare. They drill protocols and procedures into their heads. They know that surviving in space will require their full concentration. Now imagine doing all that AND making a movie.”
The “Fargo” crew is rather more earthbound, but Hawley likened its experience to that of Cruise, who is indeed planning a trip to the International Space Station to shoot an action movie. (It was reported in May that he will do this with the help, of course, of Elon Musk.) But before Tom Cruise ascends into space, the cast and crew of “Fargo” are gathering in Chicago to film the final two episodes of the show’s fourth season in a 13-day stretch — five months after being forced to break camp by the coronavirus pandemic.
You may not have realized it, but sitting atop one of the highest points in the San Gabriel mountains, looming 5,700 feet over L.A., is arguably one of the world’s most important spots for scientific discovery: the Mount Wilson Observatory.
The 114-year-old site is covered in equipment that not only helped mankind discover the universe and cement Southern California as an astronomy hub, but still connects normal people to wonders beyond our own world.
Worryingly, the Bobcat Fire is charging right for it. Only 500 feet away as of Tuesday afternoon.
Descanso Gardens has announced a month-long fall exhibit for those of you who get really into decorative gourd season. “Halloween at Descanso” is a socially distant, “pumpkin-filled extravaganza” that takes place October 1-31.
The exhibit is suitable for all ages, so don’t worry about this Halloween event being too scary. Instead, expect a winding hay maze, a house built entirely out of pumpkins, a pumpkin arch that leads to a forest filled with pumpkin-headed scarecrows, and colorful pumpkin mandalas. The pathways that lead to the Hilltop Gardens, the Japanese Garden, and the main promenade will feature hand-carved jack-o-lantern boxes.
(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter says tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants struck out on this one.
Category: Summarizing the novel.
Answer: Utopia (not); I ain’t goin’ nowhere; the butler did it (in 1872).
Margie went into the schoolroom…and the mechanical teacher was on and waiting for her,’ the passage (from Asimov) read, ‘The screen was lit up, and it said, ‘Today’s arithmetic lesson is on the addition of proper fractions. Please insert yesterday’s homework in the proper slot.’ Margie did so with a sigh.”
These days, Bradley–who teaches middle school in Fairfax County Public Schools–feels a lot like the ‘mechanical teacher.’ He spends ever morning huddled ina spare room in his Northern Virginia home staring at his computer screen. The monitor is filled with small rectangles: Each one depicts an anonymous, identical silhouette.
From his home in Cape Canaveral, Air Force pilot Alex Layendecker explained how he had been drawn to the study of sex and reproduction in space. “I had been immersed in the space environment in the Air Force, assigned to launch duty, and was simultaneously pursuing an M.A. in public health, and then at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, and I was looking for a dissertation topic,” he recalled. “I decided that sex and reproduction in space had not received the attention they deserved—if we’re serious about discussions of colonization, having babies in microgravity—on Mars or other outposts of the Earth, then more needs to be learned.” His general recommendation was that because of the squeamishness of NASA to study sex in space, a private nonprofit organization, or Astrosexological Research Institute, should be founded for this research critical to human settlement of outer space.
What were the prospects for space-based sex lives? Layendecker’s study of the literature yielded both good and bad news. Sex should be possible, even lively, but reproduction, critical for space colonization, could entail severe health consequences…
(20) BE SEATED. In Two Chairs Talking Episode 36 – “Marrying the genre next door” — Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg talk about novels which blur the boundaries between genres: literary novels with strong elements of fantasy or science fiction. Call them “genre adjacent” fiction. And David interviews Matthew Hughes, author of the historical fiction novel “What the Wind Brings.”
(21) SHARP, POINTY. The final trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s Antlers has dropped.
A small-town Oregon teacher and her brother, the local sheriff, become entwined with a young student harboring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences.
[Thanks to Darrah Chavey, Daniel Dern, N., John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Gadi Evron, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]
Smartly, the Dune trailer saves the giant Sandworms of the planet Arrakis for the very end. In the reality of Dune, the Sandworms are responsible for the creation of the substance known as “the Spice,” which is basically why anyone wants to be on Arrakis at all. The Spice is created by the Sandworms, and dealing with the worms, and making peace with them is a huge part of what Dune is all about.
It’s unclear which Sandworm scene this is from the book, but the look and scope of the worm feel correct. These are mysterious creatures in the world of Dune, but they are not monsters. In some ways, the Sandworms are the most important characters in Dune, and this Sandworm looks exactly as it should. The Maw of the Sandworms seems a little more refined, but overall, these are the worms we’re looking for.
What’s an ocean doing in a movie called Dune? The footage of Paul on the shore of a vast sea with starships hovering in the sky takes place on his original home world of Caladan. Their move to Arrakis at the behest of the Emperor is like moving from Scandinavia to the Sahara.
“He thinks he’s going to be sort of a young general studying his father and his leadership of a fighting force before he comes of age, hopefully a decade later, or something like that.” Chalamet said.
Events are moving faster than he expects.
(3) OSCARS ADDING INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY REQUIREMENTS. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Tuesday published detailed inclusion and diversity guidelines that filmmakers will have to meet in order for their work to be eligible for a best picture Oscar, starting in 2024. Variety has a breakdown of the new rules: “Oscars Announce New Inclusion Requirements for Best Picture Eligibility”.
For the 94th and 95th Oscars ceremonies, scheduled for 2022 and 2023, a film will submit a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form to be considered for best picture. Beginning in 2024, for the 96th Oscars, a film submitting for best picture will need to meet the inclusion thresholds by meeting two of the four standards.
All other Academy categories will keep their current eligibility requirements. For categories such as animated feature, documentary feature and international feature, that submit for best picture consideration, they will be addressed separately….
Adweek’s summary says:
The body that hands out the Academy Awards on Tuesday published detailed inclusion and diversity guidelines that filmmakers will have to meet in order for their work to be eligible for a best picture Oscar, starting in 2024. (Reuters)
To meet the onscreen representation standard, at least one of the lead actors or a significant supporting actor must be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group, whether that means Asian, Hispanic, Black, Indigenous, Native American, Middle Eastern, North African, native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. (NYT)
Alternatively, a film can meet the standard if at least 30 percent of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are women, from a racial or ethnic group, LGBTQ+, or people with cognitive or physical disabilities or if the film’s main storyline, theme or narrative focuses on one of these groups. (Variety)
Additionally, films seeking consideration must hire diverse creative leadership and department heads, maintain at least 30 percent of crew from the previously mentioned groups, offer paid internships to underrepresented groups, and ensure representation in marketing and distribution. (THR / The Race)
(4) NOT EVEN WITH A MASK. LA County has not entirely cancelled Halloween, only a lot of the activities traditionally associated with it. (Complete guideline here.)
Not Permitted (gatherings and events are not currently allowed under the Health Officer Order)
• Halloween gatherings, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted even if they are conducted outdoors.
• Carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions are not allowed.
• Door to door trick or treating is not recommended because it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on porches and at front doors, ensure that everyone answering or coming to the door is appropriately masked to prevent disease spread, and because sharing food is risky.
• “Trunk or treating” where children go from car to car instead of door to door to receive treats is also not recommended, particularly when part of Halloween events, since it is difficult to avoid crowding and sharing food.
(5) HAUNTED DRIVE-THRU. That explains why, here in the land of the drive-in, folks will be able to pay to drive through Haunt ‘O Ween LA.
The experience will last between 25-35 minutes. We recommend guests arrive 10 – 15 minutes prior to their scheduled time slot during peak hours.
Pumpkin “Picking” (1 pumpkin per vehicle. Additional pumpkins available for purchase)
“Door to Door” Trick or Treating (enough candy for everyone!)
What John David Washington’s secret agent in Tenet wouldn’t give for such trivial problems. He not only needs to save the world from a supervillain armed with nuclear warheads and a time machine, but also get his head around the news that his nemesis can invert an object’s temporal properties at will, thus sending it hurtling backwards through a space-time continuum that is not as linear as he thought. Worse still, so do we….
Oops, we lied! Actually, there’s going to be a spinoff.
The Walking Dead is officially ending after its 11th season. Season 11 will be a super sized season, offering the show a 24-episode farewell tour, with its airing beginning in the fall of 2021. The 24-episode run will span the fall of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. It is unclear whether it will be broken into three 8-part segments to two 12-part halves. The AMC zombie show began in 2010 with its premiere episode Days Gone Bye airing on Halloween. In the years which followed, The Walking Dead became a global hit, claiming the #1 spot on cable and spawning several spinoff shows, including two more new series which will follow its conclusion.
… Following the conclusion of the flagship Walking Dead series, a spinoff centered around Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon and Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier will go into production. The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang will run the Daryl/Carol spinoff show. There will also be a Tales From The Walking Dead anthology series which will follow different characters in each episode, exploring pockets of the TWD universe which have been left undiscovered.
(8) SCOOBY ORIGINS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I thought these paragraphs from Harrison Smith’s obituary for “Scooby-Doo” co-creator Joe Ruby in the Washington Post, “Joe Ruby, TV writer and producer who co-created Scooby-Doo, dies at 87”, would be of interest to Filers. “Silverman” is a reference to NBC president Fred Silverman. “Spears” is Ruby’s writing partner Ken Spears, Scooby-Doo’s other co-creator. “Takamoto” is Iwao Takamoto, a Japanese American animator who drew the original sketches for the main characters.
Mr. Ruby said he considered a small, feisty sheepdog character before settling on an oversized, cowardly Great Dane inspired by actor and comedian Bob Hope. The dog was originally called Too Much–the show was originally called ‘Mysteries Five’–before Silverman said he pushed for raising the character’s profile and renaming him Scooby-Doo, after hearing Frank Sinatra scatting ‘doo-be-doo-be-doo’ on a recording of ‘Strangers in the Night.’…
…Most persistently came questions about Shaggy. Why did he have the munchies all the time? Was he, as many viewers speculated, actually a stoner, a marijuana-loving emblem of the drug-infused 1960s?
By all accounts, the answer was no. Shaggy and Scooby’s constant hunger was simply an attempt by Mr. Ruby and Spears ‘to insert certain idiosyncrasies into their characters,’ the animator Takamoto wrote in a memoir, My Life With A Thousand Characters.
‘And for the record,’ he added, ‘drugs of any kind were anathema to Joe Ruby; he hated them.’
I also learned that the idea for “Scooby-Doo” came from Fred Silverman, who wanted a cartoon like the 1940s radio show “I Love A Mystery” but with kids.
(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
September 2013 — Seven years ago this month, Kamala Khan made her first appearance in Captain Marvel #14 before going on to star in the her own series Ms. Marvel, which debuted in February 2014.This Pakistani American Muslim teenager was created by G. Willow Wilson along with editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, and artists Adrian Alphona and Jamie McKelvie. The first volume of Ms. Marvel would win the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story at Sasquan in 2015.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 9, 1900 — James Hilton. Author of the novel Lost Horizon which was turned into a film, also called Lost Horizon by director Frank Capra. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La. Many claim Lost Horizon is the first American book printed as a paperback but it’s actually Peal S. Buck’s The Good Earth. (Died 1954.) (CE)
Born September 9, 1906 – Aileen Fisher. A hundred children’s books, some ours. Nat’l Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Natural history, fiction, poetry, plays; nonfiction including lives of Louisa Alcott, Jeanne D’Arc, Emily Dickinson. “Poetry is a rhythmical piece of writing that leaves the reader feeling a little richer than before”. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born September 9, 1915 — Richard Webb. Captain Midnight on the Captain Midnight series when it began and which ran for two years in the Fifties on CBS. It was called Jet Jackson, Flying Commando when it was syndicated. He played Lieutenant Commander Ben Finney in the “Court Martial” episode of Star Trek. And in the Fifties, he was Lane Carson, the lead investigator in The Invisible Monster. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born September 9, 1922 – Pauline Baynes. Seventy covers, a hundred eighty interiors, for us; many others. First to illustrate “Farmer Giles of Ham”; also The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, “Smith of Wootton Major”, other Tolkien including The Lord of the Rings; Narnia; Richard Adams, Hans Andersen, the Grimms, Kipling; outside our field, Uden’s Dictionary of Chivalry, winning the Greenaway Medal; religious books e.g. King Wenceslaus, the Nicene Creed; magazines e.g. The Illustrated London News. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born September 9, 1929 — Joseph Wrzos, 91. He edited Amazing Stories and Fantastic under the name Joseph Ross from August 1965 through early 1967. He was responsible for their move to mostly reprints and a bimonthly schedule while the publisher refused to pay authors for the reprints saying he held the rights to them without needing pay additional renumeration and leading to severe conflict with SFWA. With Hannes Bok, he edited in 2012, Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration. (CE)
Born September 9, 1943 — Tom Shippey, 77. Largely known as a Tolkien expert, though I see he wrote a scholarly 21-page introduction to Flights of Eagles, a collection of James Blish work, and under the pseudonym of John Holm, he is also the co-author, with Harry Harrison, of The Hammer and the Cross trilogy of alternate history novels. And early on, he did a lot of SF related non-fiction tomes such as Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative (edited with George Slusser). (CE)
Born September 9, 1946 – Anna Lee Walters, 74. Pawnee (her mother) / Otoe-Misouria (her father). Goddard alumna. American Book Award, Virginia McCormick Scully Award. Ghost Singer is ours; half a dozen nonfiction books; she is in many anthologies and journals. [JH]
Born September 9, 1952 – Michael Dobson, 68. Chaired Corflu 36 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable). Fanzine, Random Jottings (note, “FIAWOL” = Fandom Is A Way Of Life”).Three alternative-history novels (with Douglas Niles). Nonfiction books may show SF color, e.g. Watergate Considered as an Organization Chart of Semi-Precious Stones. Timespinner Press has a booklet for each day of the year. [JH]
Born September 9, 1952 — Angela Cartwright, 68. Fondly remembered as Penny Robinson on the original Lost in Space. She, like several of her fellow cast members, made an appearance in the Lost in Space film. She appeared in the Logan’s Run series in “The Collectors” episode as Karen, and in Airwolf as Mrs. Cranovich in the “Eruption” episode. (CE)
Born September 9, 1955 — Janet Fielding, 65. Tegan Jovanka, companion to the Fifth Doctor. The actress had a rather short performing career starting with the Hammer House of Horror series in 1980 where she was Secretary Mandy on the “Charlie Boy” episode” before landing the the Doctor Who gig through 1984. Her career ended in the early Nineties. She was part of the 2013 50th Anniversary The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. (CE)
Born September 9, 1958 – Frank Catalano, 62. Book reviews in Amazing with Buck Coulson. Half a dozen short stories. Toastmaster at the first Baycon (i.e. the regional, not the Westercon or Worldcon, with that name) and at Dreamcon 10. Fan Guest of Honor, Rustycon 4. Fanzine, Syntactics. [JH]
Born September 9, 1977 – Viktor Martinovich, Ph.D., 43. (Various romanizations of this Belarusian name.) Teaches at European Humanist Univ., Vilnius. Bogdanovich Prize. Paranoia is ours, I mean his novel by that title (see NY Rev Bkshere), also Mova; several others. [JH]
The injunction brief says that more than 116 million gamers have played Fortnite on iOS, making it the game’s biggest platform, larger than its player base on Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, PC or Android.
Filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, the motion says, “all Epic seeks is for the Court to stop Apple from retaliating against Epic for daring to challenge Apple’s misconduct.”
In a Saturday statement to CNN Business, Epic said, “today we ask the Court to stop Apple from retaliating against Epic for daring to challenge Apple’s misconduct while our antitrust case proceeds.”
Fortnite has been blocked on iOS since August, when Epic introduced a new way for players to buy in-game currency directly without paying Apple or Google their customary 30% cut of revenue. This move violated both Apple and Google’s app store policies, the tech giants said, and Fortnite was pulled from both iOS and Android devices. Epic then sued both Apple and Google, accusing them of monopolistic practices.
(15) FROM SOMEBODY’S GOLDEN AGE. The Bristol Board has a flock of excellent black & white illustrations by famed sff artist Edd Cartier.
In July 2019, I had the unique opportunity to revisit the astronaut walkout doors at the Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building (O&C) at the Kennedy Space Center for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Fifty years ago, I was one of more than 3,500 journalists trying to get the “money shot” of the Apollo 11 astronaut walkout.
As I balanced on top of my camera case, I took as many pictures of the astronauts as possible as they walked purposely through those double doors before disappearing like magic into the transfer van on the way to the launch pad. I was 17 years old and was covering this historic event for a small Illinois newspaper. It was an experience that will change my life and soul forever. I covered Apollo 15 as well, and that mission was equally as exciting.
For the Apollo 50th reunion at KSC, I also took many photos of the famous astronaut walkout doorway and surrounding area as part of the NASA tour granted to a select group of “old space journalists.” There were no astronauts this time, just memories of the excitement and anticipation of seeing them walking through those iconic doorways. Those brave men and women were heading on the adventures of their lives, and they were taking us all with them.
This article is about investigating the O&C shuttle mission stickers that have been placed on the historic doorway, as noted in the photographs I took of the O&C walkout area. While many stickers seemed easy to identify, I noticed several immediately that could not be easily identified due to weathering and other issues.
(18) HERE THEY COME TO SAVE THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A group of mice genetically engineered to have greater muscle mass have retained that muscle during a trip to the International Space Station. Their regular, unmodified cousins who also went for the trip lost muscle and bone mass—just as happens for astronauts during their stay in weightlessness. Some of this mouse control group were treated with the “mighty mice” drug upon returning and rebuilt their muscle mass faster than untreated mice. “‘Mighty mice’ stay musclebound in space, boon for astronauts”.
…While encouraged by their findings, the couple said much more work needs to be done before testing the drug on people to build up muscle and bone, without serious side effects.
“We’re years away. But that’s how everything is when you go from mouse to human studies,” Germain-Lee said.
Lee said the experiment pointed out other molecules and signaling pathways worth investigating — “an embarrassment of riches … so many things we’d like to pursue.” His next step: possibly sending more “mighty mice” to the space station for an even longer stay.
(19) SHAT’S BACK. “William Shatner ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ feat. Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night” on YouTube is a track from Shat’s new album The Blues, which Cleopatra Records will release In October.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, N., Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) MARVEL’S VOICES EXPANDS. This November, Marvel celebrates Indigenous history with a landmark special, Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1, written and drawn by some of the industry’s most renowned Indigenous talent along with talents making their Marvel Comics debut.
Celebrated writer and artist Jeffrey Veregge, who just wrapped up his exhibition Jeffrey Veregge: Of Gods and Heroes at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, is leading this book alongside a team of acclaimed creators to explore the legacy and experiences of Marvel’s incredible cast of Indigenous characters.
Hugo, Nebula, and Locus-award winning Black/Ohkay Owingeh writer Rebecca Roanhorse and Tongva artist Weshoyot Alvitre tell an Echotale like none before as she is set to play a critical role in Marvel Comics. Geoscientist and Lipan Apache writer Darcie Little Badger joins acclaimed Whitefish Lake First Nation artist Kyle Charles for a Dani Moonstarstory where she will face the crucial question of what her Indigenous heritage means in the new era of mutantkind. And Bram Stoker-winning horror writer Stephen Graham Jones of the Blackfeet Nation teams up with Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation artist David Cutler to revisit one of the darkest spots of X-Men history!
(2) BRIAN KEENE SPOTLIGHTS HAYWARD ALLEGATIONS. Soon after Brian Keene posted “Behind Closed Doors” supplementing his podcast’s report of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct within the industry, he and Mary SanGiovanni were alerted to yet another situation involving allegations that author Matt Hayward sent inappropriate communications to several women.
…We believe the women. We believe writer and book reviewer Cassie ‘Lets Get Galactic’, who has stepped forward. And we believe those who have not stepped forward.
We have known Matt for several years. He and his wife Anna have been guests in our home. Anna’s publishing company, Poltergeist Press, has published books by both of us. We consider them dear friends.
Approximately one year ago, Matt sent a series of inappropriate messages to Mary. Matt has acknowledged this and apologized for it. Mary accepted the apology because Matt was inebriated when the messages were sent, and he was going through a rough time emotionally, having just experienced the death of his best friend. Brian followed Mary’s lead, and in the time since, Mary has received no further inappropriate messages from Matt. Cassie’s account tells a similar story, as do the accounts of those women who have not shared their experience publicly. There is a pattern of behavior.
Again, we believe the women. And we apologize for the hurt that someone we are close to has caused you….
Since that time, several of us have spoke with Anna Mulbach, wife of Matt Hayward. She wishes to continue publishing Russian language translations. The financial stability of that line impacts the livelihood of many Russian citizens, including translators and investors. The success the line has had so far is a testimony to Anna. I wish to encourage that. Further, the fact that this successful foreign-language publisher is run and operated by a woman is something else I wish to encourage, because it’s something our industry desperately needs more of.
Anna has assured me that Matt will not be involved in any aspect of the Russian-language operation, including production or design.
With all that in mind, I have decided to continue working with Anna for Russian-language translations….
…After that was announced. Rights for Dissonant Harmonies were reverted, and Bev Vincent and I sold it elsewhere. Geoff Cooper wanted some time to consider the reversion clause for Shades, since he is not plugged in to the business and wanted to talk to people and determine the facts before signing it. Then Anna Hayward of Poltergeist press announced that she was shutting down the company.
A few weeks later, Anna contacted several of us and indicated that she would like to keep the Russian language imprint open. It was her company — not Matt’s. She assured us that Matt would not be involved in any way with the production.
And so Jeff Strand, myself, and Mary SanGiovanni released a third statement last month, which can be read here.
This will be my final statement, because quite frankly, I am sick of talking about this.
This statement is my own. I do not speak for Mary SanGiovanni (whose own final statement can be read here). I do not speak for Robert Ford, Bev Vincent, Jeff Strand, Wrath James White, Edward Lee, John Boden, Wesley Southard, Tim Meyer, Ronald Kelly or anyone else who has been impacted by this clusterfuck.
This statement will include foul language. It will include my personal opinions.
My personal opinions follow:
1. I support the victims. I have always supported the victims. Anyone who has listened to The Horror Show for the last 6 years knows that I support the victims. Anybody who has been following my career since 1996 knows that I support the victims. I was the first person to report on the then-whispered allegations involving Ed Kramer. I had my then budding-career threatened for doing so. I gave zero fucks then and I give zero fucks now. I will always support the victims. I myself am a victim, and several of the people most important in my life have been victims.
If you do not believe that I support the victims, then I respect your decision. Stop buying my books and listening to my podcasts.
2. I support and believe the victims in this case. I have seen people intimating online that the most vocal victim, Cassie, “made this all up” and others saying that she and the other victims “just want their 15 minutes of fame”. I don’t believe that. But I’ll tell you what, motherfuckers…lets buy into your conspiracy theory for a minute. Let’s say Cassie made it all up for 15 minutes of fame.
Mary SanGiovanni didn’t make it up. I know. I’ve seen the evidence. And Mary’s got an accomplished 20-year career. She doesn’t need fifteen minutes of fame. I believe Mary SanGiovanni. I believe Cassie. And I believe the other women who came forward.
If my belief in these women bothers you, then I respect your decision. Stop buying my books and listening to my podcasts.
(And to the fat fuck who looks like a dropout from Juggalo college and keeps repeating this “15 minutes of fame” bullshit, I’m not going to name you here, because you don’t deserve even a second of fame)….
Halloween is inevitably going to look a bit different this year with a number of highly-anticipated events canceled already, including Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, and Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure.
But fear not, the spooky holiday traditions will still be upheld in Costa Mesa thanks to this drive-through haunted house experience. Urban Legends of Southern California will conjure up all SoCal’s most terrifying urban legends, cursed souls and monsters that have haunted residents for generations. Whether it’s the mysterious winds that howl through the streets or the unnatural presences that make your hairs stand up, familiar stories will be brought to life through a series thrills.
Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you’ll arrive in your vehicle at your allocated timeslot. From there, you’ll be guided through a journey of immersive scenes, dazzling special effects, and live performances. It’s bound to get your pulse racing as you scramble to lock your car door. You won’t have to worry about monsters getting to close though, they’ll be wearing masks and social-distancing at all times…
…See, for example, discussions about where to place The Fifth Season and Gideon the Ninth. Both works have elements generally associated with science fiction, as well as elements traditionally associated with fantasy. Hard classification will fail because the assumption that things are only one thing at a time is wrong. Utterly wrong.
[sarcasm] I am certain that having explained this so clearly, there will never be another argument on such matters. [/sarcasm]
(5) DYSTOPIAN LIFE IMITATES DYSTOPIAN ART. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In 2019, UK high school student Jessica Johnson won the Orwell Youth Prize for writing a short story depicting computer systems that undermine lower-income students by adjusting grades downwards. This spring, in response to COVID-shortened school years, the government of the UK implemented a computer system that “projected” students’ grades forward based on assumptions on how they were doing — and it adjusted the grades of low-income students downwards. Jessica Johnson was one of the students adversely affected by the computer error. “Student who wrote story about biased algorithm has results downgraded” in The Guardian.
She says: “I based [the story] on the educational inequality I already saw. I just exaggerated that inequality and added the algorithm. But I really didn’t think it would come true as quick as it did!”
DAVID GREENE, HOST: George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” turns 75 this week. The book is now considered a classic, but NPR’s Petra Mayer reminds us that it almost wasn’t published at all.
…MAYER: Orwell biographer D.J. Taylor says the 6-year-old nephew of one of Orwell’s friends read it…
D J TAYLOR: …And reported back via his uncle that he loved it because it didn’t contain any difficult words.
MAYER: But “Animal Farm” is a dark, upsetting book. The pigs take over, and bit by bit, they grow more cruel and murderous, masking each new outrage in revolutionary rhetoric. By the end, drinking liquor, snapping whips and gambling with the neighborhood farmers, they’re indistinguishable from the humans they originally overthrew.
Broadly, “Animal Farm” is a fable about tyranny, but specifically, it’s a satire on the Soviet revolution and how it led to Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror. So why tell such a painful story in such a childish manner? D.J. Taylor says that Orwell was influenced by “Gulliver’s Travels” and French fables. But also, at the time he was writing “Animal Farm,” he and his first wife, Eileen, were adopting a child. So not only did he have kids on his mind…
TAYLOR: The era in which he wrote for the 10 years previous, cinema screens had been full of cartoon animals. You know, it was the great age of the Disney cartoon.
MAYER: It was, in fact, turned into a cartoon a few years after he died, but it almost wasn’t a book at all. Orwell was shopping “Animal Farm” to publishers in 1944 when the Allied victory in World War II was far from assured. Again, D.J. Taylor.
TAYLOR: So this is effectively a satire of Stalin, who was then – even America regarded as avuncular Uncle Joe, you know, our great ally in the fight against Nazism.
MAYER: No one wanted to take a potshot at Uncle Joe. It took more than a year and multiple publishers, but “Animal Farm” finally came out in the U.K. in 1945, and it was a massive hit. Its success enabled Orwell to write his masterwork, “1984.” When people use the adjective Orwellian today, they’re almost invariably talking about “1984.”
Brad Listi: That’s interesting. It’s interesting to think of it that way. I feel like when we go to read something, we’re trying to feel something, or hoping to at least. And if somebody can scare the shit out of you, that’s a feeling.
Stephen Graham Jones: It is. Horror can change your behavior. It can make you turn off the lights in your house in a different sequence at eleven o’clock at night. It can make you edge along the wall to get to your bed instead of just walking brazenly across the middle of your bedroom floor. I love that horror puts you on a string like that. It turns into a puppet, a puppet not necessarily of the the writer, but a puppet of your own terror and your own dread. I think that’s beautiful.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 19, 2007 — Highlander: The Source premiered. The final film of the story that spanned both the film and television series, it saw the return of Adrian Paul reprising his character of Duncan MacLeod from Highlander: The Series and the fourth film, Highlander: Endgame. He also produced along with Peter S. Davis and William N. Panzer while Brett Leonard directed. The screenplay was Mark Bradley and Steven Kelvin Watkins from the story by the former. Reception was universally negative if not downright hostile with it being the first film in the series not to get a widescreen distribution. SciFi Channel instead aired it. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a richly deserved 19% rating. (CE)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 19, 1894 – H.W. Wesso. After covers for Amazing, painted every Astounding cover under W. Clayton (Jan 30 – Mar 33; H. Bates ed.), then more, also Astonishing, Marvel, Strange Tales, Thrilling, five dozen in all; eight hundred interiors. Here is the Jan 30 Amazing. Here is the Jan 38 Astounding. Here is an interior from a 1930s Astounding; I haven’t found the date more exactly, can you? Here is an interior from the Jan 41 Thrilling. Again I recommend Di Fate’s Infinite Worlds. (Died 1948) [JH]
Born August 19, 1921 — Gene Roddenberry. Oh, you know who he is. But did you know he wrote a lot of scripts for Have Gun – Will Travel? Indeed, his script for the show, “Helen of Abajinian” would win the Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Teleplay in 1958. (Died 1991.) (CE)
Born August 19, 1930 — D.G. Compton, 90. SWFA Author Emeritus whose The Steel Crocodile was nominated for the Nebula Award. The Unsleeping Eye, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe in the U.K., was filmed as Death Watch which the Audience Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes actually like giving it a 60% rating. His two Alec Jordan near-future police stories are superb. Nearly everything he wrote of a genre nature is available from the usual digital suspects save Hot Wireless Sets, Aspirin Tablets, the Sandpaper Sides of Used Matchboxes, and Something That Might Have Been Castor Oil. (CE)
Born August 19, 1938 — Richard N. Farmer. Author of Islandia Revisited, a sequel to Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia. No idea it was if authorized but I’m betting it wasn’t as it’s not in print in either print or digital editions currently. (Died 1987.) (CE)
Born August 19, 1938 –Diana Muldaur, 81. Student of Stella Adler. First woman President of the Acad. Television Arts & Sciences. Two Star Trek appearances (original series), later Katherine Pulaski, M.D., in The Next Generation. Voiced another physician in animated Batman (1992-1994). One appearance in The Hulk (1979). Don’t blame CE for omitting her, these things are hard. [JH]
Born August 18, 1945 – Roseanne di Fate. Teacher, mostly of nursery school, another hard thing; last position at Vassar, my grandmother’s college. Andrew Porter did a biography of R & Vincent in Algol 21 (Tim Kirk artwork! Bester interview of Heinlein! Benford on knowledge! Brunner on the art & craft of SF! Lupoff book reviews!). OGH’s appreciation here. (Died 2014) [JH]
Born August 19, 1947 – Dwain Kaiser. Active fan in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Used-book shop owner; had several, all called Magic Door; at his death he was operating his fourth, in Pomona (L.A area). Founded a Las Vegas SF Society, thus repaying Arnie Katz, one of whose fanzines (with Lenny Bailes) let DK know there was such a thing as fandom. Published many zines and took part in apas. OGH’s appreciation here; you will want to know more, but this is the best I can do for now. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born August 19, 1950 — Jill St. John, 70. She’s best remembered as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in Diamonds Are Forever. She was the first American to play a Bond girl. She shows in The Batman in “Smack in the Middle” and “Hi Diddle Riddle” as Molly. And she played Jennifer Holmes in the 1960 film version of The Lost World. (CE)
Born August 19, 1952 — Jonathan Frakes, 68. Best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in Next Gen though I’m fond of his voicing David Xanatos on the Gargoyles series which had at least five Trek actors doing voice work. Interesting bit of trivia: For a time in the Seventies, he worked for Marvel Comics at cons as Captain America. He has directed more than 70 television episodes, including episodes of five Trek series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Librarians and The Orville. (CE)
Born August 19, 1961 – Randy Smith, 59. Wrote up the Hugo Awards Ceremony for the ConJosé Souvenir Book (60th Worldcon). Long helpful in the San Francisco area, currently a director of SFSFC (San Francisco SF Cons, the non-profit that hosted the 51st, 60th, 76th Worldcons; Westercon 53, 64, 66; and like that) and now tired but not exhausted having chaired its liaison committee for the 78th Worldcon we just virtually had. Relations with John Blaker a model of ecumenism (which, should they read this, they will blushingly try to disclaim). [JH]
Born August 19, 1988 – Veronica Roth, 32. Six novels, a dozen shorter stories. Divergent a NY Times Best Seller; it and first sequel sold five million copies before film version of Divergent released. Her gaze upon the world, says John Clute, is cuttingly sharp; she is said to be reading the Bible; “cuttingly sharp” could be said of Isaiah, though he did not give us dystopias; beyond that is beyond my pay grade. [JH]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Ziggy shows that wile you can fool some of the people all of the time, you can’t fool the bird.
(11) FOLLOW THE MONEY. In “The Big Idea: Thomas Levenson” at Whatever, the author of Money for Nothing tells about the famous figure who unexpectedly had to learn the hard way that what goes up must come down.
…Then it happened again. Deep into that story, I came across this: a stray mention that [Isaac] Newton had lost £20,000–roughly four million dollars in 21st century money–in a financial scam that happened exactly three centuries ago this year, an event called the South Sea Bubble. Afterwards, he told his niece that he could “calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of the people.”
That’s where Money for Nothing got its start: wondering why the smartest man of his day, someone who could surely do the math to expose the flaw in the South Sea scheme, got it so badly and expensively wrong. The book that’s finally here has traveled from that starting point to a much bigger and (I hope) more fascinating narrative: how the wild ferment in ideas and ambitions in Britain in the late seventeenth century that we now call the scientific revolution created a culture of number and measurement that mattered in the daily life of those who lived through it. From there, and how, as the Bubble played out, that disaster produced something very new: the modern financial capitalism that still plays out in all our lives, with all its wealth and woe….
(12) GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE.
Back in the Seventies there was a San Diego fan who had his van painted as the Enterprise’s shuttlecraft. The guy went by the name of “James T. Kirk” which I guarantee you doesn’t make it any easier for me to search for a photo.
…The Oort cloud is the most distant region in the solar system, residing much farther than the outer planets and the Kuiper Belt. Unlike the Kuiper Belt, which is shaped like a donut, the Oort cloud is a massive and thick spherical shell that envelopes the entire solar system. The inner Oort cloud starts at around 1,000 AU from the Sun (in which 1 AU is the average distance from Earth to the Sun), while its outer edge stops at around 100,000 AU.
This region of space is filled with billions, possibly trillions, of rocky and icy objects left over from the formation of the solar system. According to the new paper, the overabundance of material presumed to exist in the outer Oort cloud is the result of our Sun’s early stint as a binary system.
To date, computers trying to simulate the formation of the solar system have failed to reproduce the proportion of objects seen in the outer realms of the Oort cloud and the scattered disc—a specific population of trans-Neptunian objects outside of the Kuiper Belt. As a result, the origin of the outer Oort cloud is “an unsolved mystery,” according to the paper, authored by astronomers Avi Loeb and Amir Siraj from the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard & Smithsonian.
The new paper presents an elegant solution to the overpopulation problem: a second sun.
“A stellar companion to the Sun would increase the chance of trapping objects from the birth cluster of the Sun,” wrote Loeb in an email. “The Sun and its companion act as a fishing net that traps objects gravitationally as they pass near one of the two stars and lose energy by kicking it slightly.”
Besides the typical holidays that call for extravagant food spreads and homemade meals, there are tons of national food days that should be on your radar. They don’t all require a celebration but if you’re ever looking for an excuse to have a themed dinner or to drink a certain liquor by the truck load—you should keep some of these days in mind.
A pair of these fall on April 2 — National Burrito Day, National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day – which shouldn’t inconvenience exotic burrito connoisseur John Scalzi.
(15) CORDWAINER BIRD OF A DIFFERENT FEATHER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Burke’s Law S01E06 Who Killed Alex Debbs?” on YouTube is a 1963 episode of Burke’s Law written by Harlan Ellison. Ellison fans recall that he used the name “Cordwainer Bird” for work he disowned. Well, this episode is about the murder of Alex Debbs, founder of Debonair, a magazine vaguely like Playboy. The joke editor of the magazine is….Cordwainer Bird, and Bird is played by Sammy Davis Jr.! Bird’s appearance begins after the 16-minute mark. Burgess Meredith also appears as a very nearsighted cartoonist.
The image of a penguin might bring to mind an endless march across windswept ice. The reality of penguins is a bit different, says Grant Ballard of Point Blue Conservation Science.
GRANT BALLARD: There’s actually only two species of penguin that really love ice.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Only two species. Many others live in warmer waters.
BALLARD: So an emperor penguin could conceivably be dealing with something like minus 70 degrees or even colder than that, especially with wind chill. But a Galapagos penguin is encountering temperatures that are around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
KELLY: So how did penguins evolve with such different lifestyles? A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has some answers.
RAURIE BOWIE: We’ve been able to resolve several long-standing questions about penguin evolution, in particular where penguins originated.
FADEL: Rauri Bowie of UC Berkeley is an author on that study. He says there’s been a long debate about where the first penguins evolved. Was it Antarctica or farther north in New Zealand, as others have suggested?
KELLY: Well, armed with genetic evidence from 18 species of modern-day penguins, his team has an answer.
BOWIE: Which turned out to be along the coast of Australia and New Zealand and nearby islands of the South Pacific.
KELLY: They say that happened around 22 million years ago.
FADEL: From there, the penguins surfed on a circular current at the bottom of the world.
…KELLY: If there is one thing the paper makes clear, it’s that the evolution of penguins is far from black and white.
(17) WASHED UP ON THE SHORES OF THE INTERNET. During my search for neglected Scroll titles today I rediscovered this gem by Will R. from 2015.
Just scroll right down and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this vile hive, aboard this tiny ship.
The Esk were mighty pixeled fen, the Blogger brave and sure, the Filers ticked the box that day, for a three hour tour, a three hour tour.
Discussion started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the filking of the fearless crew the comments would be lost. The comments would be lost.
The ship’s now lodged for good inside this Highly trafficked file, with Gilligan, the Blogger too, The reverend and the SMOFs, the wombat red, the dissenters and the grinning fan, here in Gilligan’s File.
(Ending verse) So this is the tale of our castaways, they’ll be here for a long, long time. They’ll have to make the best of things, it’s an uphill climb.
The first Esk and the Blogger too will do their very best, to make the others comfortable With their sordid rhetoric.
No threads, no lights, no time travel, not a single luxury. They’ll have to see what they can grow, like NASA’s Mark Watney.
So join us here each day my friends, you’re sure to get a smile, from countless dumbstruck Trufen brave… here in Gilligan’s File!
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Colbert tells Late Show viewers, “You Owe Kevin Costner An Apology For ‘The Postman.’” The parting shot is a corker.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Brian Keene, James Davis Nicoll, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Danny Sichel, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]