(1) TALKIN’ ABOUT MY REGENERATION. The Doctor Who Christmas Special 2017 trailer is online.
(2) A PREVIOUS GENERATION. Meanwhile, at Comic-Con, Harrison Ford still doesn’t know whether he was a replicant: “Blade Runner 2049: Harrison Ford responds to Deckard replicant mystery”.
Moderator Chris Hardwicke couldn’t help but ask Ford if Blade Runner 2049 would address the lingering questions about Deckard’s identity – human or replicant?
After a long pause, the star responded: “It doesn’t matter what I think.”
So that clears that up then.
(3) ACTUAL COMICS NEWS FROM COMIC-CON. NPR observes “Yes, Some Comics Are For Kids — And They’re Big Business”.
Before I left for San Diego Comic-Con this week, I checked in with Lucy Strother, a fourth grade teacher in Philadelphia whose students just love comics. “We have like a comics and graphic novels bin in the library and it’s perpetually empty because the kids are so obsessed with comics and graphic novels,” she says.
Strother says graphic novels are an important way to get kids used to reading longer chapter books with more mature ideas. And for her students, there’s one author who reigns supreme. “The queen of my classroom is Raina Telgemeier.”
“My name does mean queen,” Telgemeier laughs. She’s here at Comic-Con to talk comics and meet young readers; her latest graphic novel, Ghosts, is a gentle, lovely story for middle grade readers, about a girl coming to terms with her little sister’s serious illness.
(4) OPEN FOR CLICKS. The Westercon 72 (and aspiring 2019 NASFiC bid) website has gone live. The con will be in Layton, UT.
(5) OUT OF THE SHADOWS. Clarke Awards administrator Tom Hunter sent out the links himself:
Adrian Tchaikovsky has also been busy reviewing all six books on this year’s shortlist, splitting his reviews into three equal parts.
- Part one: Faith In The Future covers A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers and Central Station by Lavie Tidhar.
I want to wave a flag for Chambers’ aliens?—?while there is a definite Trek-like philanthropic principle going on, the species are all well defined, and then the individuals are separately defined so that you don’t get the common problem of “all of X species are like this”, and furthermore “X species are basically humans with this hang up and a narrowed emotional range”. Like Planet, Orbit makes a virtue of telling the stories of ordinary people in a multispecies galactic community, with plenty of digressions and diversions that only add to the verisimilitude of the world and the characters.
- Part two: The Evil That Men Do discusses The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and After Atlas by Emma Newman.
Where this book crosses from the historical into Clarkes territory is the railroad of the title. Now I have a confession here, because my knowledge of this period is limited and my first introduction to the phrase ‘underground railroad’ was in Babylon 5, which utterly baffled me because I thought they were talking about a literal one. And in Whitehead’s book, there is. Instead of the loose network of sympathisers and rescuers, white and black, there is a genuine railroad under the ground smuggling slaves from place to place, constantly in danger of being discovered by the slavers. In this way, Whitehead gives us the southern US as a series of “stations” (3) where different scenarios play out between black and white, slave and free.
- Part three: Sufficiently Advanced Mathematics deals with Occupy Me?by Tricia Sullivan and Ninefox Gambit?by Yoon Ha Lee.
Tricia Sullivan is a SF author of considerable repute, with Occupy Me her fourth visit to the Clarkes shortlist (having, I believe, won it in 1999 with Dreaming in Smoke). This is a book about time, space, energy and angels, and it’s going to be relatively difficult to talk about because finding out what is actually going on is one of the chief pleasures of the book. The plot effectively starts in the middle and then unfolds towards the beginning and the end simultaneously, and that is entirely appropriate for the sort of physics that is flying around in the plot. Flying, in fact, is a major theme.
(6) SURVIVING CHILDHOOD. Here are “9 dangerous toys that prove kids were just tougher before 1990”. John King Tarpinian says he had these —
Clackers had a lot of fun nicknames: knockers, click-clacks, bangers, knocker bockers or knicker knackers. But by any name, these 1970s toys were dangerous as heck, especially if you got the original acrylic glass clackers that some kids were either strong enough or intent enough to shatter. It was enough to get the attention of the Society for Prevention of Blindness, who issued their own warning, before a 1973 Consumer Product Safety Commission arrived to deliver the country to the coddling culture that condemned toys like clackers (which are available today in safer wooden, plastic or metal varities) and birthed a generation of nervous parents today.
(7) CARLSON OBIT. SF Site News reports the death of Jeff Carlson:
Author Jeff Carlson (b.1969) died on July 17. Carlson published the short story “Exit” in 1994? and his next story, “Pressure,” appeared in 2001. His first novel, The Plague Year appeared in 2007 and opened a trilogy, including The Plague War and The Plague Zone….
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- July 23, 1999 — Disney’s Tarzan became the first all-digital film
- July 23, 1995 — The Outer Limits reboot aired “I, Robot” with Leonard Nimoy
(9) WHETHER TO RATIFY. This year’s Hugo administrator Nicholas Whyte, writing as a private individual, gives his take on several rules changes pending at this year’s business meeting: “The 2017 WSFS Business Meeting: Deterring Slates”.
Three Stage Voting
I was one of a number of people last year who put our names to another proposal, Three Stage Voting, which is on the agenda as amendment C.4. This would introduce an extra voting stage. After nominations are made, and the top fifteen candidates identified, Hugo voters (members of that year’s Worldcon) would vote on whether or not to accept the top fifteen as acceptable finalists. Voters would choose “Reject”; “Accept; or “Abstain”. Those rejected by at least 60% of the combined total of “Accept” and “Reject” votes, if and only if the number of “Reject” votes is at least the higher of 600 or 20% of the number of eligible voters, would be barred from the final ballot, which would have the top five (or six) vote-getters from the nominations tally minus any that were rejected by the new process. This was passed by the 2016 Business Meeting and must now be ratified by the 2017 Business meeting to come into effect for next year.
I signed this last year, but I no longer support it, for the following reasons….
Whyte gives four reasons. When it comes to 3SV, Whyte and Dr. Mauser (quoted yesterday) have some common ground.
(10) PUMP UP THE VOLUME, A different kind of Apple Music — “Sing Different: Steve Jobs’ Life Becomes An Opera”. Chip Hitchcock says, “It’s in an appropriately tech location; you can see the lights of Los Alamos from the theater site.”
Even Campbell was initially skeptical of the idea, which came from 40-year-old composer Mason Bates. Bates was convinced that in Jobs’ “complicated and messy” life, he’d found the right subject for his very first opera.
“He had a daughter he didn’t acknowledge for many years; he had cancer — you can’t control that,” Bates says. “He was, while a very charismatic figure, quite a hard-driving boss. And his collisions with the fact that he wanted to make everything sleek and controllable — yet life is not controllable — is a fascinating topic for an opera.”
The (R)evolution Of Steve Jobs shifts back and forth in time over the course of 18 scenes. Its fragmented, non-linear narrative was a deliberate choice by Campbell and Bates, who wanted to reflect Jobs’ personality and psyche. “Steve Jobs did have a mind that just jumped from idea to idea to idea — it was very quick,” Campbell says.
(11) WONDER WOMAN. Marcus Errico of Yahoo! Movies, reporting from Comic-Con, in “WONDER WOMAN II Offiicially Confirmed at Comic-Con, Script ‘In The Works Right Now”, writes DC “to the surprise of no one’ officially green-lit Wonder Woman II, but they’re still working on the script and Patty Jenkins is not yet attached to the project.
Every mention of the film, star Gal Gadot, or images of the Amazonian princess in action during Warners’ Saturday presentation in Hall H was an applause line. And when the simple Wonder Woman II graphic appeared at the end of a sizzle reel, the crowd went wild.
(12) AND YOU THINK YOUR CON HAS TECH PROBLEMS. Pokemon Go event overloads: “Refunds as Pokemon fest beset by glitches”.
As many as 20,000 attendees at a Pokemon Go festival in Chicago are being offered refunds after technical glitches meant fans were mostly unable to catch anything – let alone “them all”.
Disappointed fans will also be offered $100 in the form of the app’s in-game currency, Pokecoins.
The event on Saturday had been touted as a chance for fans to come together and catch some of the rarest monsters on the hugely successful app.
But fans booed and chanted “fix our game!” and “we can’t play!” as executives from Niantic, the game’s creator, attempted to explain the problems.
At one point a bottle was thrown at a presenter on stage – it missed.
(13) FLORIDA MAN. The Orlando Sentinel reports a hometown fan (and File 770 reader) is headed for Helsinki.
Juan Sanmiguel’s affinity for intergalactic storytelling has taken him around the globe.
Next month he’ll check off a new country as he’s off to Finland for the annual Worldcon and Hugo Awards — which are known as the most prestigious for the science-fiction genre. The awards are scheduled for Aug. 11 in Helsinki.
For the past 25 years, he’s made the annual trek to the convention in countries such as Australia, Scotland, Canada and England.
“I haven’t missed one since ,” said Sanmiguel, who has attended the convention a total of 27 times. “It’s still prestigious … the biggest one so far was the one in London three years ago.”
Also president of the Orlando Area Science Fiction Society, Sanmiguel briefed members of the club Sunday on this year’s nominees, which include mainstream filmed works such as “Stranger Things,” “Deadpool,” “Ghostbusters” and two episodes of the acclaimed “Game of Thrones” series.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Nicholas Whyte, JJ, and Tom Hunter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Barrett.]
(1) SF IN CHINA. At Amazing Stories, Shaoyan Hu highlights the developing science fiction scene in China —
Science fiction is a growing phenomenon in China: the various organizations are living evidence of that. It’s not just Star Wars or The Three-Body Problem now, but a substantial foundation quickly coming into shape. Although speculative fiction is still a small portion of the market, the large population in China suggests a considerable potential return for whoever ventures into this new area. As it happens, quite a few principal investors already have eyes on the genre, but this is perhaps a topic for another time. For now, suffice it to say that the unceasing efforts of all the people within the SF community have given the genre a positive outlook in China and a flourishing future is yet to come.
A museum is asking fans of Jim Henson’s Muppets to help pay for an exhibition featuring original puppets of beloved characters like Elmo, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.
The Museum of the Moving Image launched a Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday seeking $40,000 to help preserve the puppets for posterity.
“Jim Henson’s work has meant so much to so many people, myself included,” actor Neil Patrick Harris says in a video on the Kickstarter page. “His humor and inventiveness have inspired people to find their own creative voices.”
The Queens museum owns hundreds of Henson puppets and other objects including costumes and props, all donated by Henson’s family in 2013. Henson died in 1990.
Museum staff members are working to conserve the items along with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, which was founded by Henson in 1979 and carries on his work, and fine-arts conservators.
The Kickstarter campaign has already raised $66,416, far in excess of its goal, with 26 days remaining.
(3) JEDI CRITIC. USA Today’s Jesse Yomtov took a look at The Last Jedi teaser trailer and decided it was time to speak up: “Why the Jedi were actually the worst and really should ‘end’”.
At the end of the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi (aka Episode VIII), Luke Skywalker brings up an important issue.
“I only know one truth,” he says. “It’s time for the Jedi to end.”
That sounds ominous and bad, but Luke is 100% correct. It’s not even up for debate that a group like the Jedi would be the bad guys in any other movie.
The Jedi were nearly brought to extinction at the end of Episode III, and while yeah it was the result of Palpatine’s super-evil scheme, it only got to that point because of their own incompetence and self-destructiveness.
Here are some of the most off-putting things about the Jedi Order:
(contains information/spoilers from The Clone Wars animated show, which ended three years ago so that’s kind of on you)…
(4) FINAL WORD ON CARRIE FISHER’S FUTURE IN STAR WARS. VIII yes, IX nay. That’s the word from Kathleen Kennedy.
Carrie Fisher will not appear in Star Wars: Episode IX, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy said on Friday.
The announcement came during an interview with ABC News and was something of a bombshell, as Todd Fisher, the late actress’ brother, previously said his sister would be in the planned ninth installment of the blockbuster franchise. Kennedy said he was “confused.”
“Sadly, Carrie will not be in nine,” said Kennedy. “But we will see a lot of Carrie in eight.”
(5) FAMILY PORTRAIT. On the first day of the Star Wars Celebration happening in Florida, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford posed with Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter.
This is so beautiful ? pic.twitter.com/5WSoIVG1Cm
— Star Wars Stuff (@starwarstuff) April 13, 2017
(6) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Ken Liu was finally able to reveal he is at work on a Star Wars book.
So, the news is out: I’m writing a Star Wars book as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi project. Working with the team at Lucasfilm Publishing has been such a pleasure — they’re the best.
I can’t tell you much about the book yet, except that it’s called The Legends of Luke Skywalker, it’s going to go on sale on 10/31/2017, and it’s going to be awesome….
I think a writer’s job is to build a strong, welcoming house. Readers then move in and fill the rooms with their individual experience and understanding of the world. And only then, after they’ve settled in and begun to explore, do they discover its little nooks and crannies, its hidden passages and secret staircases, and following these, they find breathtaking vistas of other planets, rogues who prize friendship more than treasure, mystical sages full of wisdom, princesses leading grand armies, and farm boys dreaming of walking among the stars …
The Star Wars universe is grand and beautiful, and it is ever expanding. To be able to build a house in this universe after my fashion, to welcome fellow fans and readers into this house, and to see them get comfortable and discover its secrets … I don’t have the words for my joy.
(7) ZUCCHINIS VS. BEETS. On March 31, Margaret Atwood discussed 10 of her favorite speculative fiction novels at the website Omnivoracious: The Amazon Book Review. But as you might expect, she has a few things to say about defining the term first:
There is still some fuzziness around the terms “speculative fiction” and “science fiction.” Some say that “speculative fiction” includes such things as horror and reality-based dystopias and vampire stories, with “science fiction” being a subset. Others make a distinction between “science fiction” – hard and soft, but involving other planets and universes accessed by devices we do not currently have and cannot realistically expect to have – and “speculative fiction,” located on this earth and containing no devices that we cannot currently foresee. Let’s just say that there is a difference in nature between stories set in a universe far, far away – some call these “science fiction fantasy” — and those set on this planet, in a future we can plausibly describe, though not infallibly predict. (No predictions are infallible.) All fictions both entertain – otherwise nobody turns the pages – and also instruct – because stories will inevitably be given a moral interpretation by readers, language and people being what they are. But the far, far away galaxy kind – let us call them “zucchinis” – will inspire less immediate fear than the other kind – let us call them “beets.”
The list below is a list of “beets.” There are many more, but these are some of the books I have read and enjoyed. They concern this earth and what is possible on it, given the knowledge available at the time of their writing. They are mostly dystopias – they describe a world we would rather not have. But some are utopias – they point to improvements.”
From the middle of her list –
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
A personal favourite. Written in the Future-English of a post-apocalyptic British teenager. The apocalypse has been atomic, as they once were. Young Riddley is on a quest, as his riddle-based first name and his ambulatory last one would suggest. A puppet show featuring Mister Clevver is his day job, insofar as he has one. Beware of Mister Clevver!
(8) TWEETS OF THE DAY. The investigation begins at SFWA.
@Catrambo Cat, I'm going to ask you point blank: are you using SFWA dues to create a robot army?
— Adam Rakunas (@rakdaddy) April 13, 2017
@rakdaddy Why do you hate America, Adam?
— OneWomanRiot Rambo (@Catrambo) April 13, 2017
(9) TAKE-OUT. Episode 34 of Scott Edelman’s Eating the Fantastic podcast takes place in the middle of Brian Keene’s live-streamed fundraising telethon. At first, Keene couldn’t find time in his schedule —
But when it came time for Brian to record the 100th episode of The Horror Show as a live 24-hour-long telethon to raise funds for the Scares That Care charity, he had a brainstorm—that I invade his event with a meal of some sort, and record my own show as part of his livestream.
So that’s what I did—show up at a conference room of a Hunt Valley hotel with a ton of takeout from Andy Nelson’s Barbecue, which has repeatedly been voted best BBQ by Baltimore Magazine—bringing enough to feed Brian, his co-hosts, and some of the live studio audience you’ll hear in this episode, too.
Brian’s published more than 40 novels, including the best-selling The Rising, and he’s the winner of the 2014 World Horror Grand Master Award. He’s also written comics, including the adventures of the Doom Patrol.
We discussed why the ending to The Rising isn’t as bewildering as some seem to think it is, whether new horror writers should try to replicate his career path, how Marvel Comics creator Steve Gerber is responsible for him becoming a writer, the shady way Brian amassed the largest comics collection in the sixth grade, if he’s a Scully who changed into a Mulder as he got older or if he’s been a Mulder all along, and more…
(10) GETTING AROUND HELSINKI. Going to Worldcon 75? Then this info is for you:
The Helsinki Regional Transit Authority (Helsingin Seudun Liikenne) has announced that as of June 19, 2017, tickets will no longer be sold on Helsinki commuter trains, and therefore must be purchased in advance from one of the available outlets: ticket machines (map of ticket machine locations), the HSL mobile phone application, or HSL Travel Cards.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
- April 14, 1912 – The Titanic strikes the iceberg.
(12) A NIGHTMARE TO REMEMBER. As a child, Steve Vertlieb was haunted by the image of the Titanic:
One hundred five years ago tonight, at 11:40 PM, RMS Titanic fulfilled its terrifying date with history as innumerable heroic souls perished beneath the icy waters of The Atlantic. This horrifying remembrance remains among the most profoundly significant of my own 71 years. As a little boy, during the early-to-mid-1950s, I was tormented night after night by nightmares of finding myself upon the deck of a huge ocean liner cruising the darkened waters of the Atlantic. After a time, I’d find myself walking along the brooding ocean floor, enveloped in crushing darkness, when I sensed a horrifying presence behind me. I’d turn slowly each night with fear and encroaching trepidation. As I gazed up into the watery sky, I’d find myself next to the enormous hull of a wrecked and decaying ship. I awoke screaming on each of these nights. I’d never heard of Titanic in my early years, but I was tormented by these crippling dreams, night after suffocating night, for years. To this day, the very sight and sound of the name “Titanic” sends me into cold sweats and an ominous sense of dread, and foreboding. I’ve come to believe that I may have been aboard the doomed ocean liner that awful night, and that I’d been reincarnated three decades later. I fear the ocean still. Suffice to say, it is a chilling remembrance that will forever haunt my dreams. May God rest Her immortal soul, and all those who perished that terrible night.
(13) HOPE FOR THE WORLD. It’s Good Friday, but this is not about that. Rather, James Artimus Owen draws our attention to another epochal breakthrough:
I’m…feeling some very, very strong emotions that I don’t know how to process. I think I knew, somehow, but didn’t realize until just now – Burger King really does have Froot Loops shakes. They exist. And thus give me hope for the whole world. #apexofcivilization
We confirmed this with Fox News. (How often do you get to say that with a straight face?) Froot Loops shakes debut at participating Burger King stores nationwide on April 17, but will only be around for a limited time.
So what, exactly, is in a cereal milkshake?
According to a spokeswoman for Burger King, the drink features “velvety Vanilla-flavored Soft Serve, Froot Loops Cereal pieces and sweet sauce.”
(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SLAYER
- Born April 14, 1977 – Sarah Michelle Gellar
(15) PUPPIES FOR PRESIDENT. Lou Antonelli ran a poll on his Facebook page asking people to vote for the sf writer they’d most like to see as President of the U.S.
In Antonelli’s case, that doesn’t necessarily mean he was looking for any great departure from the current tenant of the White House – and he certainly didn’t end up with one.
President… Larry Correia!
The clear winner with 18 votes.
It was very close for second place. John Ringo had nine votes and Tom Kratman had eight.
A strong fourth place showing goes to an author who would not be considered right-of-center by any definition, David Brin – which shows there is come diversity of political opinion among my Friends.
Dr. Jerry Pournelle received five votes, and Ursula LeGuin – also certainly not a right-winger – received four.
(16) TAD WILLIAMS. Patrick St-Denis of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist interviewed Tad Williams about his return to the universe of Osten Ard in The Witchwood Crown.
Stephen R. Donaldson once said that he waited for so long to write The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant because he wasn’t ready and needed to grow as an author before he felt comfortable tackling such a project. Would you say that, at least to a certain extent, this was one of the reasons why it took so long for you to finally decide to write the long-awaited sequel to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn?
Yes, but not necessarily in the same way as Donaldson’s talking about. I said for years that I wouldn’t write a sequel to anything or even re-visit a world unless I had a story first, a story that cried out to be written. And for years Osten Ard was in that category, although I had thought a bit about the Chronicle project. Then, when I sat down one time to list off for Deborah (my wife and business partner) all the reasons I had no more stories about Simon and Miriamele and Binabik and the rest, I realized that I had left most of the main characters still very much in the bloom of their youth, and that after decades of life and growing responsibility — which I had undergone myself since I wrote it — they must all look at the world very differently. That set me to thinking, and within one night the first rudiments of the story for The Last King of Osten Ard (the title for the whole series) had begun to take real shape. So every moment I was aging, and moving from one country to another, and becoming a parent, and so on, I was actually creating a plot for new Osten Ard books without realizing it.
(17) YOUR SHADOW CLARKE JURY AT WORK. Racing to finish ahead of the shortlist announcement, scant weeks away —
This is the first novel I’ve read from my shortlist that feels like it belongs on the actual Clarke shortlist. Written by a genre outsider, but built definitively upon a classic sci-fi concept, and clearly aware of decades of science fiction fandom and inside jokes, it ticks a few those well-established Clarke-preferred boxes. It’s also quite enjoyable for those same reasons.
It follows the Toula/Tolliver family over four generations of delusions of grandeur beginning with Ottokar Toula: family patriarch, pickle cultivator, and mad scientist of the pre-Atomic Age. His “discovery” of the Lost Time Accidents is overshadowed by the work of “the patent clerk” in Switzerland, dooming the Toula name to forgotten history. That is, until his son, Waldemar, seizes upon Ottokar’s ideas and uses Nazi-era concentration camps to carry out his secret, malevolent time experiments…
We awaken in a contemporary alternate Finland, a country whose path diverged from its realworld twin’s shortly after World War One. We discover that Finland is now a eusistocracy – all for the best in the best of all possible worlds – separated technologically and politically from the ‘hedonistic democracies’ of the rest of Europe and forging its own path to racial purity, social stability and material content. In this new Finland, a systematic program of eugenics has been implemented in order to reinstitute traditional gender roles and relieve the increasing psychological and social tension that has been the inevitable result of female emancipation:
Nowadays, when people talk about science fiction being socially relevant, they often gesture towards Dave Hutchinson’s on-going Fractured Europe series and how the early books seemed to pre-empt not only the break-up of the European Union but also the brutal militarisation of European borders. Though dystopias will always have a role to play in helping us to prepare for unwanted futures, there is also something to be said for books that make a positive case for what it is that we are about to lose. Hutchinson’s books may be about the ugly, regressive, and nationalistic future we are going to get but Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station is about the beautiful, strange, and unapologetically multicultural future we need.
Science fiction is not and never has been about predicting the future. But it is about using satire, extrapolation, exaggeration, distortion and any other tools at its disposal to reflect and comment upon the present. Right now, Europe is in a parlous state. The enterprise of friendship and cooperation that began in the wake of the Second World War is under unprecedented threat from the emergence of just such nationalist movements that it was deliberately conceived to counter. There are currently populist movements whose avowed aims are directly counter to the European ideal active and prominent in the UK, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere. This is the world we live in. It is not the world we encounter in contemporary science fiction.
The Fractured Europe sequence may not be a perfect way of bringing this modern world into science fiction, but since it is the only way that anyone is currently attempting, it is de facto the best.
The last one is a roundup rather than a review:
…On which note, it seems only fair that I come clean regarding how I, personally, feel about my personal shortlist now that I’ve read it. Did the books I chose turn out to be as worthwhile, not to mention as Clarke-worthy, as I hoped they would be? The short answer, I suppose, would have to be partly, and no. Above a certain level, very few books are ever entirely a waste of reading time, and that certainly holds true here….
(18) BE YOUR OWN RORSCHACH. Who was that masked man? — “How what you wear can help you avoid surveillance”.
Imagine you’re living in a dystopian future. Surveillance cameras scan the streets to recognise and record the faces of passersby – but you’re wearing a HyperFace scarf. Amid a kinetic assortment of grid-like structures printed on the fabric, black squares suggest tiny eyes, noses and mouths. The cameras’ facial recognition algorithms are confused. Your identity is secure; your privacy, protected.
(19) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. On April 19, Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Laura Anne Gilman & Seth Dickinson.
Laura Anne Gilman
Laura Anne Gilman is the author of the best-selling Devil’s West novels (Silver on the Road and The Cold Eye) which NPR described as “a true American myth being found,” the Nebula-nominated Vineart War trilogy, and the story collection Darkly Human. Her writing past encompasses a ten-book urban fantasy series, a quartet of cozy mysteries, three paranormal romances, and a middle-grade Arthurian adventure. A once and future New Yorker, she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.
Seth Dickinson’s short stories have been published in in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and elsewhere. He also contributed writing to video games, including Destiny: The Taken King. His first novel the epic fantasy The Traitor Baru Cormorant was published in 2015 and he’s working on a sequel.
Wednesday, April 19th, 2017, 7pm at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)
(20) CONCERN TROLL ON DUTY. Superversive SF’s “sciphi” (which I believe is editor Jason Rennie) is worried about the impact Monica Valentinelli’s decision to quit as Odyssey Con GoH will have on other women authors. Sure he is. — “Why doesn’t Monica Valentinelli want women as Guests of Honour?”
What I am wondering though is, has Monica considered the wider implications of this sort of diva behaviour? If you were organising a Con would you invite her as Guest of Honour? I wouldn’t given this is her idea of professional behaviour. More than that, this will likely cause any rational Con organiser, even if only unconsciously, to be less willing to invite any women as Guest of Honour. Who wants the headache of someone flaking at the last second because they have decided their feelings of “unsafeness” trump any consideration of professional behaviour or the enormous problems it will cause other people? Monica in her betrayal of the trust shown in her has made it harder for women everywhere. What if a guest you have invited and planned for decides to “Pull a Valentinelli” at the last second? I suppose it isn’t fair to generalise this to all female authors, as much as it would be more reasonable to generalise this to any sort of grievance peddling group instead.
The people I feel most sorry for are the Jagi Lamplighters, Sarah Hoyt’s and other female authors of the world who are actual professionals and would never engage in this sort of childish tantrum, but whose prospects are damaged by one ridiculous drama queen and idiots who are enabling her behaviour.
(21) SUPERVERSIVE SF’S RESPECT FOR WOMEN. Immediately preceding that post on the site is a reprint of one of their “more popular Superversive articles,” “The Bosom-Jiggle Factor”, which is indeed about what you were assuming. With illustrations. And the name of the author? Answer: L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright.
“The Needs of Drama vs. The Needs of Culture, as illustrated by the BJF Index:”…
The Needs of Drama—the qualities that make a story dramatic, eye-catching, intriguing. Sex, sizzle, bang, POW! Seduction! Explosions! LOTS OF CAPTIALS AND EXCAMATIONS!!!!!!
The Needs of Culture—the desire to use the story to teach lessons needed to participate in the culture, like an Asops Fable or a morality play. These stories include topics like: How to behave. How to treat friends. How to treat strangers. What is and is not moral. – the message of the work.
It is not my opinion that one of these forces is better than the other. Rather, I believe that there needs to be a harmonious marriage of the two of a work to be really great.
Too much drama leads to meaningless sex and bloodshed. Too much culture leads to boring message fiction….
(22) A WORD FROM THE SPONSOR. Because you don’t watch enough commercials already, click this link to watch Baby Groot and the GEICO gecko trying to sell you insurance.
(23) CIRQUE DU PIZZA. Hampus Eckerman is right – you shouldn’t miss this.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, Steve Vertlieb, Mark-kitteh, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
(1) CATAPOSTROPHE. New Mexico fan Jack Speer’s relentless habit of correcting others’ fanwriting earned him the nickname “Grammar West of the Pecos.” Sounds like they’ve found his soul-mate in England — “’Banksy of punctuation’ puts full stop to bad grammar in Bristol”.
BBC tracks down self-styled ‘grammar vigilante’ on mission to rid city of rogue apostrophes
…He told the BBC he was a family man who worked in engineering. “I’m a grammar vigilante,” he said. “I do think it’s a cause worth pursuing.”
The man said he began by scratching out an extraneous apostrophe on a sign but had since become more sophisticated and has built an “apostrophiser” – a long-handled piece of kit that allows him to reach up to shop signs to add in, or cover up, offending punctuation marks. “This is a device that enables you to plant an apostrophe quite high up and get over any obstacles,” he said.
(2) PACK YOUR BOOKS. For years there have been stories that TOR will move out of the Flatiron Building and a new report from a real estate blog makes it sound like it could happen. Really. Maybe.
Another one of the book business’s “Big 5” publishers is seeking a new chapter in Lower Manhattan. Macmillan Publishers, the sole office tenant at the landmarked Flatiron Building, is weighing a move to Silverstein Properties’Equitable Life Building at 120 Broadway, sources tell The Real Deal.
…If the deal goes through, it would be the first time the Flatiron Building, owned by Sorgente Group of America, would be completely empty since it was built more than 100 years ago. Part of the reason Macmillan is relocating is the fact that the Flatiron District, the area named for the 22-story building, has become the epicenter of the city’s technology industry, driving up rents.
Sorgente could either lease the building to higher-paying tenants, or follow through on a plan it previously considered to convert it into a hotel.
(3) BOOK RECS WANTED. James Davis Nicoll will soon be writing two milestone reviews and is looking for book recommendations.
I have two notable reviews coming up for my Because My Tears Are Delicious To You reviews: the 150th one and the third anniversary one. Tears reviews are of books I read and liked as a teenager (between 1974 and 1981). I welcome suggestions for candidate books.
(4) JACK WILLIAMSON LECTURESHIP. The 41st Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship will be given by Melinda Snodgrass on April 7 at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.
The 41st Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship, with events April 7, 2017, welcomes author and friend of the Lectureship, Melinda M. Snodgrass, with special guest author Michael Cassutt, and writers, friends and fans from across the region for this annual celebration of Jack Williamson and the genre to which he contributed so significantly.
This year’s theme is Wild Cards! – the shared universe anthologies by some of the best writers in science fiction, edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass. First released in 1987, the series published its 23rd volume in 2016. Adapted to role-playing games and comics, the Wild Cards series is now slated for television by Universal Cable Production (UCP), executive producer Melinda Snodgrass, with SyFy Films’ Gregory Noveck….
(5) PREHISTORIC COMIC CON. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler ingeniously makes his visit to last weekend’s Wondercon look like it happened in 1962.
(6) BLACK HOLE BIRTHDAY PARTY. “Massive explosion from unknown source billions of light years away baffles astronomers” starts out as a news item, then delves deep into black holes. As so much news does these days….
This enabled a distance to the burst to be measured: about 12 billion light years. The universe has expanded to four times the size it was then, 12 billion years ago, the time it took the light to reach Earth.
GRB170202 was so far away, even its host galaxy was not visible, just darkness. Because the GRB was a transient, never to be seen again, it is like turning on a light in a dark room (the host galaxy) and trying to record the detail in the room before the light goes out.
Mystery of gamma ray burst
The flash of gamma radiation and subsequent optical transient is the telltale signature of a black hole birth from the cataclysmic collapse of a star. Such events are rare and require some special circumstances, including a very massive star up to tens of solar masses (the mass of our Sun) rotating rapidly with a strong magnetic field….
(7) ON TRACK. Yahoo!’s story “Cyborgs at work: employees getting implanted with microchips” comes from Stockholm.
The syringe slides in between the thumb and index finger. Then, with a click, a microchip is injected in the employee’s hand. Another “cyborg” is created.
What could pass for a dystopian vision of the workplace is almost routine at the Swedish startup hub Epicenter. The company offers to implant its workers and startup members with microchips the size of grains of rice that function as swipe cards: to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.
The injections have become so popular that workers at Epicenter hold parties for those willing to get implanted.
(8) COMPETING NARRATIVES. David Gerrold ended his overview of the 2017 Hugo finalists with these comments:
My seat-of-the-pants analysis (I could be wrong) is that the Hugos are in the process of recovering from the 2015 assault, precisely because the Worldcon attendees and supporters see themselves as a community.
There’s a thought buried in that above paragraph — that communities unite to protect themselves when they perceive they are under attack. This works well when the attack is real, such as Pearl Harbor. But it can also have negative effects when hate-mongers such as Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson (both of whom were in fine form this week) invent a scapegoat (LGBT people) for unwarranted attacks in an attempt to unite the community around their own agendas.
So while those who have a long history of participation in Worldcons will see this unity as a good thing — those who identify themselves as the aggrieved outsiders will see it as more evidence that the establishment is shutting them out.
Myself, I see it as a collision of two narratives — one that is based on 75 years of mostly healthy traditions, and one that is based on a fascist perception of how the world works.
Most important, however, is that most of this year’s ballot suggests that we are seeing a return to the previous traditions of nominations based on excellence. Most of the nominations are well-deserved, and my congratulations to the finalists.
(9) GLEE. The Book Smugglers were pleased with their Best Semiprozine nomination and that’s not all —
Now, the best thing about this year’s Hugos? Is that it feels GREAT to be a part of it again – it’s super easy to get excited and happy about the ballot with so many great people and works on it and with what seems to be like an almost canine-free ballot. We can’t wait to spend the next few months squeeing and discussing and agonising over who to vote for. Seriously, check out that Best Novel list – some of our favourites of 2016 are there!!
(10) NO WEISSKOPF. A lot of Finns are happy with the Hugo ballot. Not this one. Declan Finn covered the announcement: “Newsflash: Hugo Awards Swamped by Crap”.
Six nominees for best editor. See anything missing?
I’ll give you a hint: we were all told that This Person would have almost certainly have won the Hugo award for best editor, but she lost because she was a Puppy Pick.
If you said, “Who is Toni Weisskopf, Alex?” you’d be right.
But strangely enough, Toni isn’t here. But she’s not a Puppy Pick this year. We were all told that she would have won if she weren’t a Puppy Pick.
Guess what: she wouldn’t have even been NOMINATED if she weren’t a Puppy Pick.
They lied. Shocking, isn’t it?
He also did not approve of the Best Series finalists. Or anything else, really, except for Jeffro Johnson and the Castalia House blog.
(11) SCHADENFREUDE. Jon del Arroz is thrilled by the substantial dropoff in nominating ballots since a year ago.
Of course, in recent years, they’ve been telling anyone who’s a conservative or Christian that they’re not real fans, and not welcome at their conventions, certainly never allowed to speak. And so the Sad Puppies were born, and had a good run for a few years before once again, just like their projecting meme, the establishment behind the Hugos said “these are not real fans” and changed the rules to make it impossible for anyone but their chosen to get noticed.
The Puppies pulled out. I promised you numbers, and here’s what we have.
Best Novel: 2,078 ballots in 2017 vs. 3,695 ballots in 2016, a 44% drop.
Best Novella: 1,410 ballots in 2017 vs. 2,416 ballots in 2016, a 42% drop.
Best Novelette: 1,097 ballots in 2017 vs. 1,975 ballots in 2016, a 45% drop.
Best Short Story: 1,275 ballots in 2017 vs. 2,451 ballots in 2016, a 52% drop.
I can keep going on with the numbers here, but that kind of pull out of an audience is staggering. If this were a TV show or a comic, it would be instantly cancelled. The execs would be using this as a case study as to what went wrong and why so that they could never do it again. Kinda like is beginning to happen in comics right now (but they’re still in the denial stage of grief).
You’re seeing about a thousand less votes across the board per category. That means a thousand less people with memberships than last year. Wow. Note to “real science fiction fandom”: you told about half your audience you hate them and you want them to go away. They did. This spells big trouble for you in the future.
(12) FROM A RETIREE. The world is filled with people who are pleased to pass along any piece of news they know will annoy the recipient. Larry Correia has a friend like that, and the upshot was “Don’t Forget to Nominate for the Dragon Awards”.
The reason for this post was that a friend of mine sent me a PM this morning, that they had announced the Hugo nominations, and gave me a link. Being retired from trying to cure Puppy Related Sadness, I only gave the list a brief cursory glance, saw the names of many proper goodthinkers, and counted like a dozen(+) nominations for Tor, so it appears that balance has been restored to their sainted halls of Trufans enjoying themselves in the proper approved manner. I’m sure many wooden buttholes will be sacrificed upon the altar of Social Justice.
(13) EYES RIGHT. The Castalia House blog had not posted an acknowledgement of its Best Fanzine nomination when I looked. They were just doing business as usual, showing how they earned that nomination with their two latest posts, “The Most Overrated Novel of the 20th Century by Alex Stump” (about Frank Herbert’s Dune) and “How Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller Ruined Comics by Jon Del Arroz”.
(14) ON TOUR IN CLEVELAND. John Scalzi tweeted about the ballot several times. He may have been overlooked for awards, but there was good news about his latest novel.
This year I wasn't a finalist for the Hugo or Nebula, and I missed the NYT list last week. JESUS WHY AM I EVEN PAYING MY CABAL DUES ANYMORE
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) April 4, 2017
Note from one my agents telling me The Collapsing Empire is #17 on the Publishers Weekly hardcover fiction list for March 20 – 26. Wheee!
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) April 4, 2017
And as Jerry Pournelle often says, “Money will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no money.”
(15) STILL FLYING. Harrison Ford keeps license, escapes fine for piloting error after an FAA investigation into his taxiway landing:
After actor Harrison Ford landed his small plane on a taxiway, rather than a runway, at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., in February, the Federal Aviation Administration began looking into the incident….
The Federal Aviation Administration determined at the conclusion of its inquiry that “no administrative or enforcement action was warranted,” Ford’s lawyer, Stephen Hofer said in a statement. “Mr. Ford retains his pilot’s certificate without restriction.”
The actor, who played swashbuckling space smuggler and Millennium Falcon pilot Han Solo in the “Star Wars” film franchise, also was cited by the agency for his “long history of compliance” with FAA regulations and “his cooperative attitude during the investigation,” Hofer said.
Although Ford incurred no penalty, he agreed to undergo voluntary “airman counseling” before the FAA closed the matter, his lawyer said.
(The BBC used a more colorful metaphor: No fines for Ford for being a ‘schmuck’)
(16) WHAT IF THEY CHEAT BETTER? Web inventor slams US, UK attacks on net privacy.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee was speaking to the BBC following the news that he has been given the Turing Award.
It is sometimes known as the Nobel Prize of computing.
Sir Tim said moves to undermine encryption would be a “bad idea” and represent a massive security breach.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said there should be no safe space for terrorists to be able to communicate online. But Sir Tim said giving the authorities a key to unlock coded messages would have serious consequences.
“Now I know that if you’re trying to catch terrorists it’s really tempting to demand to be able to break all that encryption but if you break that encryption then guess what – so could other people and guess what – they may end up getting better at it than you are,” he said.
(17) WHAT IF THEY CHEAT A LOT BETTER? It depends on how much those cheaters have prospered. These guys made a lot: “Overwatch ‘cheat maker’ told to pay $8.6m to Blizzard”.
“The Bossland hacks destroy the integrity of the Blizzard games, thereby alienating and frustrating legitimate players and diverting revenue from Blizzard to defendants,” the US games developer had argued.
The tools included the ability to see other players’ positions, health scores and other information from a distance within games.
The Zwickau-based firm’s managing director said it did not accept the US court had jurisdiction over it, and that the judgement did not take into account that many of the licences it had sold had been “trials” at a fraction of the normal cost.
“We are discussing with our lawyers how to continue – if an appeal to the declined motion to dismiss is worth trying,” Zwetan Letschew told the BBC.
Bossland’s website remains active and continues to advertise cheats for several Blizzard games, insisting “botting is not against any law”.
(18) A WIZ OF A WIZ HE IS. “Ian McKellen Explains Why He Refused to Play Dumbledore in Harry Potter” at io9.
Anyway, McKellen is in good spirits about the whole thing. When host Stephen Sackur asked, “You mean you could have been Dumbledore?” McKellen responded, “Well sometimes, sometimes when I see the posters of [Harris’ eventual replacement] Mike Gambon, the actor who gloriously plays Dumbledore, I think sometimes it is me.”
(19) INVENTORY READY TO GO. I foolishly wasted my time writing news posts when I could have been preparing to monetize my nomination!
— Chuck Tingle (@ChuckTingle) April 4, 2017
And The Mary Sue is so excited they turned the Hugo Award announcement into a Chuck Tingle promo with three of his book covers for art. Love of money is real!
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender.]
(1) CASHING IN. Naked Security has discovered “Spock will unlock Kirk ransomware – after you beam up a bunch of Monero”.
Star Trek fans might remember an episode from the original series where our heroes were transported to a mirror universe where their counterparts served an evil version of the Federation. At the end of “Mirror Mirror“, it is the alternate universe’s Spock who begins to set things right.
One has to wonder if the creators of the recently discovered Kirk ransomware had that episode in mind. SophosLabs threat researcher Dorka Palotay told Naked Security that this new specimen appeared a few days ago….
Monero is the new (or old) latinum
Unlike the ransomware families SophosLabs has seen so far, this family uses Monero for ransom payment, which is a cryptocurrency similar to bitcoin. Monero has already been popular among cyber-criminals. You could say it’s the new latinum – the favored currency of the Ferengi. Or, you could say it’s the old one. (These temporal paradoxes give us a headache.)
(2) SPOOK FANAC. Naked Security also disclosed that the CIA named one of its hacking tools after a famous science fictional gadget – “Latest Wikileaks dump shows CIA targeting Apple earlier than others”.
Here’s a breakdown of the tools documented and their purpose:
Sonic Screwdriver: Fans of Doctor Who know that the Sonic Screwdriver is the Doctor’s trusty device for analysis and defense. In the CIA’s world, it’s a “mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is booting,” allowing attackers to “boot its attack software even when a firmware password is enabled”. The CIA’s Sonic Screwdriver infector is stored on the modified firmware of an Apple Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter. The documentation for this was released internally at CIA headquarters November 29 2012….
(3) IRON FIST. While my Facebook friends have leveled plenty of criticism, Comicbook.com declares “Iron Fist Is The Second Biggest Marvel Netflix Premiere”.
Marvel’s Iron Fist may not have gone over well with critics, but fans can’t seem to get enough.
According to a report by Parrot Analytics, Marvel’s Iron Fist is the second-biggest debut for a Marvel series on Netflix so far, performing better than both Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s Jessica Jones in the first week it was available to stream. Iron Fist falls just short of Marvel’s Luke Cage, which was Marvel’s best debut to date.
It should be noted that Parrot Analytics is a third party industry analyst and that these metrics are not endorsed by Netflix. Netflix does not share its viewership numbers publically.
(4) DO’S AND DON’TS. Here are the first two of “Ray Bradbury’s 12 Rules For Writers” at Tripwire.
- Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. “Worth waiting for, huh?”
- You may love ’em, but you can’t be ’em. Bear that in mind when you inevitably attempt, consciously or unconsciously, to imitate your favorite writers, just as he imitated H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle and L. Frank Baum.
(5) BY YOUR ROYAL LEAVES. Standback guested on Jonah Sutton-Morse’s Cabbages and Kings podcast. (I’m not trying to blow his cover, he sent the link indicating it should be a “scroll item for Standback.”)
This episode I am joined by Ziv Wities (@QuiteVague), host of the SFSqueeAndSnark short story discussion site, to discuss Jo Walton’s The Just City. We covered our different reactions to the story, the elevation of Plato’s Republic to a holy text, and the problems of privilege and how it is portrayed in The Just City. In addition, Brandon O’Brien returns for the second installment of Black Star Cruises, a review of Maurice Broaddus’ forthcoming novella Buffalo Soldier.
There’s a transcript of the podcast available at the site, too.
Z – So, this is the only book in my entire life that I have ever bought based on a book ad. There was a print ad for the Just City in Fantasy & Science Fiction and I saw it and I read it and I said that sounds really really really cool. I don’t think I’ve ever reacted that way to a print ad before.It’s just, it’s just a cool high-concept idea, and one of the things that really grabbed me about it was the idea that it’s not only a recreation of The Republic but specifically that it is done with the support of a goddess. With Athene, Athene?
JSM – Yes
Z – With Athene supporting and bankrolling and magicing together the entire thing.
(6) DON’T BLAME WEIR. The Wrap reveals “More Hollywood Whitewashing: CBS Pilot Casts 2 White Actors in Lead Roles Written for Minorities”.
Andy Weir’s sci-fi drama “Mission Control” was written with a bilingual Latina and African-American man — now played by Poppy Montgomery and David Giuntoli…
According to an individual familiar with the project, producers initially did reach out to and offer the roles to non-white actors, but they passed. The production ultimately moved on as the script evolved, leading to the casting of Montgomery and Giuntoli. Montgomery’s character will no longer speak Spanish in the final version of the pilot.
The pilot, which the individual described as an “ensemble drama,” does feature nonwhite actors in other roles, including “Desperate Housewives” alum Ricardo Chavira as the director of the Johnson Space Center and Nigerian-born actress Wunmi Mosaku as Rayna, the mission’s public affairs officer….
(7) A NUMBER OF BUGS. Find the answer to “What Kind of Bug Eats Books” here. There are five main types, a number that suits the Scroll perfectly.
Bugs that eat books aren’t injurious to humans, but they can destroy your library. Book-eating insects inhabit books in their larval stage, eating collagen glues, cotton, leather, linen and paper. These insects can be difficult to spot because of their small sizes and hiding instincts. Use a magnifying glass to inspect volumes for intruders. There are five types of bugs that commonly infest books.
(8) SOMETIMES IT CAUSES ME TO TINGLE. Future Nobel laureate for literature Dr. Chuck Tingle weighs in on Castalia House’s latest antics at The Rabid Puppies.
in recent days man name of JOM SCALZI put out a big time book name of THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE. bad dogs blues said they could copy it and do better, so to keep bad dogs blues honest this is now website to show current sales rank between BAD DOGS BLUES fake book and JOM SCALZI real book. this is good way to determine wether or not being a devil is a WINNING WAY. please enjoy.
JOM RANK #235
BAD DOGS BLUES RANK #1671
(9) MAKING PROGRESS. Christine Valada gave this update about Len Wein’s health:
Len is doing better but still not on social media. It’s boring when he’s not actually working and he’s at war with the restrictions on his diet. What a surprise, right? The amputated toe is considered healed (yay), but the doctor needs to do some clean-up work on his second toe which had been delayed because of the neck surgery. He’s a captive patient in rehab, so that will get done on Monday evening.
(10) SAD TRIVIA. Today’s Livestream of the Debbie Reynolds/Carrie Fisher public memorial had over 63,000 views. Right now, the link is just showing a short slide-show of the pair at various ages.
Their celebration of life was in the same auditorium that Sammy Davis, Jr.’s was held.
Earlier Mr Fisher said the public was invited to the memorial “because that’s how my mother would want it”.
He added that she was “very connected to her fans and felt they were a part of her”.
James Blunt was friends with Carrie Fisher and recorded part of his debut album in her bathroom. His tribute song will be accompanied by a montage of photographs of the pair.
Todd Fisher called it a “beautiful song to Carrie”, adding that “it might rip your heart out”.
(11) NO CGI FOR FISHER. Gene Maddaus of Variety, in “Bob Iger Reveals ‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff Details, Talks Plans After ‘Episode IX’”, reports on a talk that the Disney CEO gave at USC. Iger says that Carrie Fisher’s performance in Episode 8 is complete and does not have to be digitally enhanced and the forthcoming moving about young Han Solo will reveal how Chewbacca got his name.
At the conference, where he also confirmed that he’s “definitely” leaving in 2019, he said he has seen Episode 8, “The Last Jedi,” and addressed how the company is handling the death of Carrie Fisher, who appears extensively in the film.
“We are not changing ‘8’ to deal with her passing. Her performance remains as it was in ‘8,’” he said. “In ‘Rogue One’, we created digitally a few characters… We’re not doing that with Carrie.”
…Iger was otherwise tight-lipped about Episode 8, saying that he sometimes reviews dailies “in my laptop in bed under the covers” to keep the project secret from his own teenage boys.
(12) TODAY’S DAY
TOLKIEN READING DAY
The Tolkien Society started Tolkien Reading Day in 2003 after a journalist from New York enquired as to whether or not there was such an event. March 25 was selected because that is the date of the Downfall of Sauron.
(13) TODAY IN HISTORY
- March 25, 1957 — United States Customs confiscated 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, printed in England, on grounds of obscenity.
(14) BY THE LITRE. “Discovery enables ‘mass produced blood’” – the BBC has the story. Chip Hitchcock says, “The kicker is that it’s so expensive it’s only useful for types so rare that they’re in very short supply — e.g. Heinlein’s AB-.”
(15) HOT PILOT. You can listen to the recording of Harrison Ford excusing his Han Solo moment at this link: “’I’m the schmuck that landed on the taxiway’”.
A recording has emerged of Harrison Ford explaining to air traffic control why he flew directly over a waiting passenger jet and landed on a taxiway at John Wayne Airport in southern California in February.
(16) CURRENT READING. Rosemary Benton visits a newsstand 55 years ago at Galactic Journey — “[March 25,1962] A Double Hit (A.Bertram Chandler’s The Rim of Space and John Brunner’s Secret Agent of Terra)”.
I turned to Brunner’s Secret Agent of Terra. I couldn’t help but feel as if I was reading a novella that pitted the characters of H. Beam Piper’s Paratime series against the American agents of The Time Traders. In almost exact contrast to the universe of Chandler’s piece, Brunner’s protagonists are agents of the Corps Galactica – a economic and security force powerhouse for Earth’s galaxy-wide territories. When a remote and technologically backward world called Planet 14 is penetrated by off-worlders looking to take advantage of the natural resources of the isolated human society, it is up to agents of the Corps to infiltrate the population without notice and take down the exploitative evil doers.
(17) FREE DELANY. You do not need to be a member of Facebook to read this unpublished novel excerpt by Samuel R. Delany:
Here’s the coda to a not yet published novel, whose manuscript ran more than 700 pages in 2006: Shoat Rumblin: His Sensations and Ideas.
(18) FURTHER DELIBERATIONS. Here are the newest reviews from the Shadow Clarke jury.
Tidhar’s novel is both subtle and quotidian, bolshie and wildly inventive. In common with some of its characters, it is a cyborg patchwork; a novel about a bold future that has its feet firmly planted in the past.
The book started life as a series of short stories, reworked and ordered here within a narrative frame to form a novel. It’s complex and wily, structured around three points in time: a present, a future and a far future. The author introduces themselves quietly in a first-person Prologue, a writer sitting down in a shebeen in Tel-Aviv – perhaps in our present, perhaps not – to tell a science fiction story. They sip cheap beer while the rain falls outside and put pen to paper: ‘Once the world was young,’ they begin, ‘The Exodus ships had only begun to leave the solar system then…’ (2) Our writer in the present addresses us as if were a knowing audience in a far distant future, ‘sojourners’ amongst the stars who tell ‘old stories across the aeons.’ These stories – of ‘our’ past but the author’s fictional future – make up the meat and substance of the book that follows. It sounds like rather a baroque set-up and it’s barely gestured at but it is thematically fundamental. Central Station is a book about how the future remembers, about the future’s past. It’s a historical novel as much as a science fiction novel.
Good Morning, Midnight is a bit of a shortlist risk, as shadow jury conversations have proved. Ranging in complaints about too much lyrical sciencing to complaints about too much overt preciousness, overall, the general jury criticism toward the book has been along the lines of “too much too much.” And yet, the novel has been blurbed as a blend of Station Eleven and Kim Stanley Robinson– two supreme yet entirely different approaches to SF, flawed in their own “too much” ways (the first, a well-written, but literary carpet bagging of superficial SF tropes, the other, an over-lingering on most things, including the sublimation of ice). With comparisons like these, Good Morning, Midnight might be just the kind of “too much too much” I, and other Clarke readers, would relish. Besides, it has stars on the cover, a spaceship in the story, and is free of the usual, predictable pew-pew hijinks that tends to come with spaceship stories, so, for those reasons, it seems like something worth discussing within the context of possible Clarke contenders.
If the blurring of the ‘human/animal’ distinction gives Geen’s book its substance, the thriller plot gives it its shape—and here the novel comes a little unstuck. With two plot strands unfolding over the length of the novel, the reader is geared up to expect two conclusions: first, the revelation of whatever it was that caused Kit to flee ShenCorp; and second, the final reckoning. ‘Uncanny Shift’ builds the intrigue, as Kit is invited (not compelled, no, not at all) to work on the development of a new income stream: consciousness tourism. She’s not sure about the ethics of this, as she tells one character:
When discussing Steph Swainston’s fiction within the context of the Clarke Award, it is never long before the question arises: but is it even science fiction? I have heard it said that Swainston’s debut, The Year of Our War, should not have been eligible for the Clarke Award by reason of it being a work of fantasy rather than SF. No doubt similar objections were voiced in respect of the volumes that followed. The old dragons versus spaceships dichotomy, in other words, complicated only by the fact that there are no dragons in Swainston’s Fourlands novels, and there is a strong argument to be made that the multi-generational, FTL space craft so beloved of much heartland science fiction is as much a fantasy as any mythical leviathan and possibly more so.
(19) POWER GRAB. Prosthetic limbs with built-in power cells could be self-charging.
A synthetic skin for prosthetics limbs that can generate its own energy from solar power has been developed by engineers from Glasgow University.
Researchers had already created an ‘electronic skin’ for prosthetic hands made with new super-material graphene.
The new skin was much more sensitive to touch but needed a power source to operate its sensors.
Previously this required a battery but the latest breakthrough has integrated photo-voltaic cells in to the skin.
(20) IN THE END, GOODNESS PREVAILS. NPR says Power Rangers is fun in the end: “In The Agreeably Schlocky ‘Power Rangers,’ ‘Transformers’ Meets ‘The Breakfast Club’”.
Power Rangers cost a little over $100 million to make and looks about half as expensive, unless catering services were provided by Eric Ripert. The five Power Rangers are appealing but bland, as if skimmed from a CW casting call, and Israelite stages the action sequences in a chaotic mass of swish-pans and rapid-fire edits, perhaps to hide the daytime special effects. And yet the film grows steadily more disarming as it approaches the grand finale, in part because it believes so earnestly in the unity necessary for good to defeat evil and in part because everyone appears to be having a ball.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Matthew Johnson, John King Tarpinian, and Standback for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Meredith.]
By Carl Slaughter: Bless YouTube’s heart. YouTube suggests videos based on my previous searches. I watch a lot of Star Trek clips and a lot “best episodes/movies” reviews. I also watch a lot of science fiction trailers, as well as other genres.
So YouTube offers me a lot of Star Trek parodies, interviews, panel discussions, reviews, and even a Star Trek movie I had never heard of and couldn’t find any background information for. Whoever designed YouTube’s suggestion algorithm apparently assumed there’s a large Star Trek/Star Wars fan crossover. I was also offered Star Wars auditions and rare early interviews and documentaries. Throw in some Stargate, DC, Steampunk, and even Frasier and Family Guy. My favorite is probably the Batman/Avengers personality/MO conflict.
There was also a Wrath of Farrakhan skit from In Living Color with a young Jim Carrey, but it was more of a Farrakhan sendup than a Star Trek sendup, so I didn’t include it.
For every video worth watching, I had to plow through 10 that were junk. For every interview/panel discussion that offers insight, there are 10 that are perfunctory. For every irresistible parody, there are 10 amateurish or not in good taste. So after you bless YouTube, you can bless my blurry eyes.
Carol Burnett Star Trek parody
Deep Stain 9 parody
Frasier / NASA Star Trek parody
With Kate Mulgrew as captain and the cast of Frasier as the crew.
Family Guy / Next Generation antics
Stewart Griffin, fake British accented baby mad genius from Family Guy, invents a teleporter that transports the cast of Next Generation to his time, then spends the day with them. Nothing goes as planned for either of them, not even a trip to McDonald’s. Spoiler, Denise Crosby doesn’t make it back into the transporter. And how DO you pronounce the name Wil Wheaton? The voice of Stewie, BTW, is Seth MacFarlane, creator of the series and co-creator of the American Dad series. MacFarlane, BTW, is not British.
Star Fleet Academy movie
I don’t know how I missed this one all these years and I can’t find any background information about it. Includes William Shatner, Walter Koenig, George Takei, and Christopher Plummer.
Star Wars auditions
Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill:
Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford:
Kurt Russell again:
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, backstage, in Star Wars costume, try to help an Ewok actor, in costume, knocking on their dressing room doors, find the right stage on the Star Wars set. Notice the Ewok identifies the movie as Revenge of the Jedi instead of Return of the Jedi. Spoiler, they send him to the wrong stage.
Early Star Wars interviews
Rare early Alec Guinniss interview:
Rare early Harrison Ford interview:
Rare early Mark Hamill interview:
Early Star Wars documentary
Batman / Avengers personality conflict
Batman tries to get the Avengers to be serious, the Avengers try to get Batman to relax.
Stargate SG1 marionette parody
Steampunk movie reviews
Awesome steampunk movies.
(1) NAMING CALLS. Katie Rask announced that the YA Award Survey has had over 1,200 entries so far.
(2) THE SHIRT OFF YOUR BACK. The gift-giving season approaches, so it’s time to pay another visit to the Litographs store, where you can pick up something from The Princess Bride movie, or Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper, or quite a few other genre authors from Diana Gabaldon and Ellen Kushner to Kurt Vonnegut and H. P. Lovecraft.
(3) LINGUISTICS IN SF. Rowan Hooper’s piece for New Scientist looks at the use of linguistics in Arrival to give a survey of how sf films have treated linguistics, with references to Contact and Interstellar — “The science behind the twisting alien linguistics of Arrival“.
Science fiction thrillers usually send in gun-toting heroes like Will Smith or Tom Cruise to kick invading alien butt. Arrival is completely, wonderfully different: it sends in a linguist, played by Amy Adams.
“Language,” one character says, “is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.” The big question to ask the aliens: what is their purpose on Earth?
In Contact, the aliens used prime numbers as a Rosetta stone that could be used to decrypt their communication; in Close Encounters of the Third Kind they helpfully used five musical tones in a major scale, presumably because vibrating strings have the same harmonics in other parts of our galaxy.
(4) MR. SCI-FI NEEDS SPACE. Storage space, that is — anybody want to store a spaceship?
Writer-Director-Producer Marc Zicree needs your help! Part of the hero set of Space Command (half the floor) needs a free home! (The rest is in storage). He’s been working to get overhead down on costs such as rent, while he’s busy at work completing the two-hour pilot of Space Command and selling the show. Have some of your garage or yard free to give us some space for our spaceship floor? You can help!
(5) INTO THE WEST ONCE MORE. HBO has renewed Westworld reports the New York Times.
“Westworld,” an expensive sci-fi drama, had been sidetracked by development problems and its October debut was later than expected. Before it had its premiere, HBO executives were privately saying they were unsure if it would land with its audience. But landed it has. “Westworld” has regularly been the No.-3-highest-rated scripted TV show in cable, drawing nearly three million viewers each week. HBO said on Monday that after adding up additional metrics like DVR, HBO Go and HBO Now views, the show is averaging 11.7 million viewers per episode, a figure they said is higher than “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” at similar points in their freshman seasons. And like the first season of “True Detective,” it has ignited a lot of commentary online.
(6) SERIES BASED ON ATWOOD NOVEL. Hulu is planning a 10-episode adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Taking a cue from Netflix, Hulu isn’t slowing down with its original programming. Today, the streaming service announced that it’s ordered a full series adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s seminal sci-fi novel. It centers on a totalitarian society where the birth rate is falling, and fertile women are placed in sexual slavery as “handmaids” to help humanity repopulate. Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, Top of the Lake) will star as Offred, a handmaid working in the home of a government official named The Commander. Her main goal? To find her daughter, all the while trying to deal with her low place in society.
(7) OUTRÉ LIMITS. Sheila Williams explains why the current issue of Asimov’s consists of all fantasy stories.
Welcome to our annual slightly spooky issue. The fall double issue is always long in the making. Throughout the year, we see stories that land a little outside Asimov’s, admittedly rather soft, parameters. While we do publish one or two stories in each issue that could be called fantasy, surreal fiction, or slipstream, our focus is primarily on science fiction. Of course I get a lot of traditional science fiction story submissions, but I see a lot of uncanny submissions, too. The average issue of Asimov’s rarely features ghosts, witches, or werewolves, so during the year I tend to set aside many of my favorite outré tales while I wait to lay out the October/November issue.
(8) I KNOW. The actress kept this news on ice for 40 years — “Carrie Fisher Reveals She Had an Affair With Harrison Ford on ‘Star Wars’: ‘It Was So Intense’”.
Carrie Fisher is finally going public with a secret she has guarded closely for 40 years: When she was 19, she and Harrison Ford, then a 33-year-old married father of two, had a whirlwind three-month affair while filming the original Star Wars in 1976.
“It was so intense,” the actress-author, 60, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the real-life romance die-hard fans of the franchise have wished for since Han Solo and Princess Leia captured hearts on-screen.
(9) POP CULTURE QUEST. The actor who convinced California to pass a law about authenticating collectibles now has turned his interest into a TV show — “Mark Hamill on Turning Professional Toy and Collectibles Explorer”.
Hamill has launched a new series, Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest, on the recently-launched Comic-Con HQ subscription service – you can watch the first episode right now via DC Comics’ YouTube channel.
On the series, Hamill — an avid toy and memorabilia collector himself — travels to see different notable collections, from classic Godzilla and other Japanese-created toys kept in a fan’s home to the iconic Batman comics and items on display at DC Comics’ headquarters. I spoke to Hamill about how the series came to be, what it’s like for him to interview the subjects, and more, including his own personal history as a collector….
IGN: As we’re doing an interview right now, I’m curious, doing this show, do you enjoy getting to be the interviewer, having been on the other side of it so many times?
Hamill: Oh yes, absolutely. That’s part of the fun. I thought, “Boy, I could really get used to this.” You’re right. It’s role reversal. One thing that I discovered… Because you look at the schedule and it’s like, “We’re going to do a show about a guy who collects shoes!?” That doesn’t really grab me, but then you meet the person and it’s really the shared trait that all collectors have that you relate to and then you hear the personal stories of how they got started on whatever collection they have and that’s the connective tissue. So that’s part of the fun. I don’t personally collect some of these things, but I love seeing other people who do.
(10) NAME CHANGE. Seattle’s EMP is now Museum of Pop Culture—MoPOP.
As of Saturday, November 19, EMP will officially be named Museum of Pop Culture—MoPOP. As you know, our museum encompasses so much more than music, and as we look toward the future, MoPOP reflects the entirety of the museum and where we are headed.
Spanning science fiction, fantasy, horror, fashion, sports, and video games, MoPOP reflects our vision for curating, exploring, and supporting the creative works that shape and inspire our lives. While the name of the museum is evolving, our mission remains the same: to bring genuine human experience and perspective to pop culture through our exhibits, programs, and events that invite exploration and inspire creativity.
We are so excited to showcase the breadth of the museum and celebrate pop culture in all its diversity with our Pop Culture Party, an all-day fest that is free to the public this Saturday. Admission includes entry to all MoPOP galleries—including Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds—and will feature live music, architectural tours, pop culture games, and more fun for guests of all ages.
(11) SUBSTANDARD DANCE. Cemetery Dance has been delisted by SFWA.
Please note that, as of November 1, 2016, Cemetery Dance is no longer a SFWA-qualifying market. In 2014, SFWA increased the standard of payment from 5¢/word to 6¢/word, and this publication has not increased its pay rate to keep pace. In addition, payment for stories is capped at $250, regardless of length. Cemetery Dance was alerted in September about the issue and their upcoming de-listing and has declined to raise its rates or change the story cap. Should the magazine change its policy to meet SFWA standards, it will be reinstated to our qualifying list.
(12) THE EXPLANATION. Charles Stross thinks there are no coincidences and all the disparate parts should fit together, rather like a Tim Powers novel played out in real life.
What happened last week is not just about America. It was one move—a very significant one, bishop-takes-queen maybe—in a long-drawn-out geopolitical chess game. It’s being fought around the world: Brexit was one move, the election and massacres of Dutarte in the Philippines were another, the post-coup crackdown in Turkey is a third. The possible election of Marine Le Pen (a no-shit out-of-the-closet fascist) as President of France next year is more of this stuff. The eldritch knot of connections between Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Da’esh in the wreckage of Syria is icing on top. It’s happening all over and I no longer think this is a coincidence.
Part of it is about the geopolitics of climate change (and mass migration and water wars). Part of it is about the jarring transition from an oil-based economy (opposed by the factions who sell oil and sponsor denial climate change, from Exxon-Mobil to the Kremlin) to a carbon-neutral one.
Part of it is the hellbrew of racism and resentment stirred up by loss of relative advantage, by the stagnation of wages in the west and the perception that other people somewhere else are stealing all the money—Chinese factories, Wall Street bankers, the faceless Other. (17M people in the UK have less than £100 in savings; by a weird coincidence, the number of people who voted for Brexit was around 17M. People who are impoverished become desperate and angry and have little investment in the status quo—a fancy way of saying they’ve got nothing to lose.)
But another big part of the picture I’m trying to draw is Russia’s long-drawn out revenge for the wild ride of misrule the neoconservatives inflicted on the former USSR in the 1990s.
(13) GRIM FAIRY TALE. Easier to understand is M.A.M.O.N. (Monitor Against Mexicans Over Nationwide), “a satirical fantasy sci-fi shortfilm that explores with black humor and lots of VFX the outrageous consequences of Donald Trump´s plan of banning immigration and building an enormous wall on the Mexico – US border.”
(14) FIRST ROBOTS. Jim Meadows writes:
A college radio station in my town is airing a student production adapted from the play “R.U.R.” by Karel Capek, credited for coining the word ‘robot’.
The play, “Airing Robots” is being broadcast today and tomorrow (Tuesday & Wednesday) on WPCD, 88.7 FM in Champaign, Illinois. The station streams at its website, http://wpcd.parkland.edu/index.html
The play aired today at 10 AM Central Time, and will repeat today at 6 PM and Wednesday at 12 PM and 8 PM.
The production is the culmination of two different Communications classes at Parkland College, a public community college in Champaign.
Here’s a link to an article in Parkland’s student newspaper, the Prospectus, which actually does a fair job of summarizing key elements of the play —
One aspect of “Airing Robots” and its source material Geiken finds interesting is the type of robots featured: androids as opposed to cog-and-gear machines.
“[T]he robots of R.U.R are not your typical mechanical robots that you might imagine for this sort of early sci-fi story, but more akin to cyborgs or androids made from organic matter. The robots of R.U.R. are more like the ‘Cylons’ of the 2004 version of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ or the cyborgs of the ‘Terminator’ movie series,” he said.
?apek, who was a highly-political writer, wrote “R.U.R.” in 1920, when Europe was feeling the effects of the Russian civil war and the end of World War I. According to Czech writer and biographer Ivan Kilma, ?apek wrote the play in response to many of the societal and technocratic utopian ideas that were spreading around Central Europe at that time.
R.U.R. was first performed in 1921, Kilma states.
(15) ROSEWATER. Rosewater by Tade Thompson is a new release from Apex Publications. Thompson lives and works in the south of England. His first novel Making Wolf won the 2016 Kitschies Golden Tentacle award for best debut novel.
Between meeting a boy who bursts into flames, alien floaters that want to devour him, and a butterfly woman who he has sex with when he enters the xenosphere, Kaaro’s life is far from the simple one he wants. But he left simple behind a long time ago when he was caught stealing and nearly killed by an angry mob. Now he works for a government agency called Section 45, and they want him to find a women known as Bicycle Girl. And that’s just the beginning.
An alien entity lives beneath the ground, forming a biodome around which the city of Rosewater thrives. The cities of Rosewater are enamored by the dome, hoping for a chance to meet the beings within or possibly be invited to come in themselves. But Kaaro isn’t so enamored. He was in the biodome at one point and decided to leave it behind. When something begins killing off other sensitives like himself, Kaaro defies Section 45 to search for an answer, facing his past and comes to a realization about a horrifying future.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]
(1) THE MAN WHO WOULD BE WHO. An actor who’s already accumulated a lot of experience traveling in time one day in front of the next has his eye on the prize. Metro News says “Brian Blessed wants to be the next Doctor Who after Peter Capaldi”
The actor, who is fast approaching the ripe old age of 80, has been speaking to Calibre magazine about his desire to be the next Time Lord after Peter Capaldi; he said:
‘I would love to play the Doctor, absolutely!’
Doctor Who fans may remember Blessed as King Ycarnos in 1986’s The Trial Of A Time Lord, where his character went on to marry the Sixth Doctor’s companion, Peri.
If Blessed were to become the next Doctor, he would be the oldest actor to do so, with some twenty years on current TARDIS pilot Capaldi.
(2) BEANS IN SPACE. Whereas the poster for the Australian competition referenced Mad Max: Fury Road, the “2016 Hungarian Aeropress Championship” post goes with a Star Wars icon.
Fast circulating rumours, perhaps with the assistance of a HyperDrive, are suggesting the coffee has been sourced by coffee’s home planet of Alderaan. Unfortunately these rumours have been denied by Ewoks on the forrest moon of Endor who have hand-picked all the rainforest alliance coffee. The variety of the coffee is mostly heirloom, sometimes also know as Degu(bah) and is famous for having very high midi-chorian levels, but low caffeine. The coffee was fermented and de-pulped in the now re-purposed garbage disposal units on the detention level of the Death Star. That’s enough lame Star Wars references for now i think…
(3) HPL ON THE AUCTION BLOCK. FineBooks & Collections reports “Found: Lovecraft-Houdini Manuscript”.
Whispered about by hopeful collectors and scholars for decades, the manuscript of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Cancer of Superstition, commisssioned and co-written by magician Harry Houdini, has finally come to light. It was rather incredibly “discovered by a private collector among the records of a now-defunct magic shop,” according to Chicago’s Potter & Potter Auctions, which will auction the 31-page typewritten story on April 9.
A brief description of the manuscript is provided in the Potter & Potter auction catalog available for download here [PDF file]. The bidding will open at lucky $13,000….
(4) OCTAVIA BUTLER. From Southern California Public Radio, “The life and legacy of Octavia Butler – and 5 stories you should read”.
It’s been a decade since science fiction writer Octavia Butler passed away.
The California native fell in love with storytelling as a kid at the Pasadena Library, and later grew up to be the only sci-fi writer to receive a MacArthur Genius Fellowship. She was also the first African American woman in the genre to achieve international fame.
According to her friend and fellow writer Steven Barnes, Butler anticipated the challenges of presenting black characters in her stories.
“In her early novels, they would put green people or aliens on the covers of her books,” Barnes said.
“Or blond, white women,” added Tananarive Due, also a friend of Butler’s.
As a teacher and another African American female author, Due knows firsthand how influential Butler’s work is.
“I wish I had discovered Octavia’s work when I was a learning writer,” Due said. “When I wrote my first novel, I had no idea whether or not there would be an audience for speculative fiction — speculative fiction being science fiction, fantasy or horror novel — with black characters, you know, not necessarily intended for black readers.”
(5) JONESING. Everyone who’s still alive in 2019 can see if the iconic star of the Indiana Jones movies can claim the same. The Walt Disney Company announces, “Spielberg and Ford Reunite as Indiana Jones Returns to Theaters July 19, 2019”.
Indiana Jones will return to the big screen on July 19, 2019, for a fifth epic adventure in the blockbuster series. Steven Spielberg, who directed all four previous films, will helm the as-yet-untitled project with star Harrison Ford reprising his iconic role. Franchise veterans Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce.
“Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can’t wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019,” said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “It’s rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven.”
(6) GAVEL RAPPER. Kevin Standlee says a Business Meeting chair has “No Magic Bullets”. Nor any other kind, to be sure.
A couple of days ago, I got into a conversation on billroper‘s LJ about the “Heckler’s Veto” and that led to me thinking about something that had worried me about running the WSFS Business Meeting. After all, the entire meeting process, and parliamentary procedure itself, assumes that the people gathering actually are willing to play by the rules. If a significant number of the people showing up won’t play by the rules, the meeting will dissolve. It would be like a bunch of football players deciding during a match that they don’t like the rule book and that they can ignore the officials and do anything they want. There’s not a lot the officials can do in that case, other than leave.
I did give a lot of thought to this approaching the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting, what with doomsday scenarios of thousands of people overrunning the meeting and refusing to obey any rules and shouting down anything they didn’t like and generally causing chaos. I concluded that a meeting whose members refuse to follow their own rules is not a meeting, but a mob, and I’m not chairing a mob. Had such a thing happened, I would have ordered the meeting adjourned “at the call of the chair” and turned to the convention for help. The convention would then in turn have had to ask the convention security to clear the area, and potentially even call the police if non-members (including any people who had their memberships revoked) refused to leave on their own accord.
(7) TO HAL WITH IT. 2001 A Space Odyssey: A Look Behind the Future is a 1960s promotional film. The 10-minute color documentary includes production of props, revolving spaceship set, etc.
(8) CURRENT EVENTS. A much more recent sf film will also be the subject of a documentary: Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey. It will be a bonus on the movie’s Blu-Ray disc, to be released April 5.
(9) GROWING UP AI. At The Way Finder, Hugh C. Howey says he has observed “The Birth of Artificial Intelligence”.
…This was not the week, however, that AI was born. This was the week that I realized that AI was born quite some time ago…..
It’s in the early years of human development where I think we can see the current state of AI being somewhere post-birth and yet pre-awareness. But the development of strong AI will have incredible advantages over the human acquisition of general intelligence. This arise from the modular nature of intelligence.
Our brains are not one big thinking engine; they are collections of hundreds of individual engines, each of which develop at different rates. What’s amazing about AI is that the learning does not need to be done twice for every module. When we build a chess-playing module, and a Go-playing module, and a Jeopardy-playing module, all of these can be “plugged in” to our general AI. Our baby girl is growing every day, and thousands of people are pouring billions of dollars of research into her education. We, the general public, are contributing with petabytes of data. It is already happening, and we won’t even recognize when our first daughter graduates into strong AI. Every day will be — as parents know — one small miracle added to the last, a succession of amazing little first steps that result in them going off to college and being their own person.
Each headline you read is us — as collective parents — gasping to our spouse at what our baby girl just did for the first time.
Google has already taught our daughter to drive a car. Amazon is doing amazing things with their Alexa device, creating the beginnings of the virtual assistant seen in Her. IBM is building the best medical mind the field has ever known. In the last five years, AI has taken strides that even the optimistic find startling. The next five years will see similar advances. And this progress will only accelerate, because we’re operating in the realm of Moore’s Law. We are building the tools that help us build faster tools, which help us build faster tools.
(10) IRENE LARSEN OBIT. Magic Castle co-founder Irene Larsen died February 25 reports Variety.
Irene Larsen, co-founder of the Academy of Magical Arts and the private clubhouse the Magic Castle, died unexpectedly on Thursday morning at her Los Angeles home. She was 79.
After she assisted her late husband William “Bill” Larsen Jr. in his various magic acts for years, the two launched the Magic Castle together in 1963. Larsen’s dedication to the role of ambassador of magic helped elevate the AMA to an internationally renowned and respected organization within the art’s community.
(11) WRITING WHILE WAITING FOR THE EMERGENCY. Amanda S. Green’s “Putting things into perspective” at Mad Genius Club demonstrates how a professional writer honors her real-life priorities — a friend’s health and her writing commitments .
…One of my oldest and dearest friends is facing a challenge the vast majority of us will only ever read about. She is going to need me with her as she faces this challenge. Even if she hadn’t asked, I would be there for her. Why? Because she has always been there for me and mine.
That’s what friends and family do. You rally around those you care about.
But, when you do, work is impacted.
I know that the next few weeks and months will see us waiting for the shoe to drop. In some ways, it will be like those last weeks of pregnancy. A bag will be packed, the gas tank filled and we will all be waiting for the phone to ring to tell us it is time to leave. No, not a bug-out, at least not in a Ringo-esque sort of way. This is the call to get to the hospital within a certain amount of time. The clock is ticking and it is very loud….
It has also meant changing what I have with me at any time. I’ve always had my phone and a small notepad squirreled away in my purse in case I needed to make a note about something. Smart phones are great for being able to use for dictation and look up things, etc. Now, however, the small purse — my preference — has been traded for a larger one. The smartphone and pad have been joined by my Surface Pro 3, stylus and charger. Why? Because the SP3 gives me everything my laptop does but at a fraction of the weight. The screen, while small, is still larger than my Android tablet and the keyboard is much better than the virtual keyboard on the Android. Add in the thumb drive with all my working files and I have my office on the go….
The result has been that I can and have been getting the job done despite the worry that is constantly there right now. I am working hard to not only meet the schedule I set for myself at the beginning of the year but to get ahead. I want that cushion for the day when we get the call telling us it is time to meet my friends at the hospital. I want to be able to be there for them and not worry about falling behind on “work”. I need to know that I am keeping with my schedule so the money can and will keep coming in. I need to know that, no matter what the time of day or day of the week, I am able to continue working without worry about where I happen to be….
(12) COMIC-CON HQ TO LAUNCH. San Diego’s Comic-Con International will brand a video-on-demand service.
The Hollywood Reporter: “Lionsgate, Comic-Con Set Launch Date for Streaming Service”
Lionsgate and Comic-Con International will launch Comic-Con HQ, their newly-named fanboy streamer, on May 7, ahead of an official launch in June. The subscription video-on-demand service will have a soft launch in May, with an official bow to follow in June in the lead up to Comic-Con International: San Diego in July.
The ad-free streaming service will feature “an evolving slate of programming including original scripted and unscripted series, recurring daily and weekly entertainment commentary, plus unique access to a growing library of live and archival programming from their world-class events, a highly-curated selection of film and TV genre titles, and behind-the-scenes access and bonus features from genre titles that defy and define pop culture,” per the announcement.
Monday’s announcement disclosed that gaming personality Adam Sessler, former host of G4’s X-Play, will executive produce programs on comics, science and gaming, along with hosting his own interview series. Other formats being developed include a general pop culture news show, a late-night talk show, a weekly movie talk in partnership with Complex’s Collider and an all-female panel on pop culture from women’s perspectives.
(13) ONCE AROUND THE BLOCK. Mr. Sci-Fi has something to say about the Paramount/CBS suit against the maker of Axanar.
Sci-Fi Writer-Producer Marc Zicree discusses Paramount’s lawsuit against Star Trek Axanar and puts it in context with the long history of science fiction fan fiction and fan films — and suggests several possible win-win strategies for a successful outcome.
[Thanks to Will R., Steven Johnson, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
(1) NO SPOILERS PLEASE. “Star Wars lands preview on Disneyland TV special”, a Deadline.com article, says the special will air February 21 on ABC.
Harrison Ford — Han Solo himself — will give viewers an exclusive preview of Star Wars-themed lands being developed at Disneyland and Walt Disney World during The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60. Ford also will introduce a Star Wars spectacular featuring a live performance of the music of John Williams.
(2) FROZEN IN CARBONITE. If you order quick, you can be in front of the TV that night enjoying a couple of scoops from your Ample Hills Creamery’s Star Wars 4-pack. Cost: a mere $ 36.00.
We are thrilled to offer a Limited-Edition Star Wars 4-Pack! Conceived in collaboration with Disney Consumer Products, packaged in collectible containers with original artwork, this 4-Pack set is the perfect gift for any fan or ice cream lover! Each 4-Pack includes two pints of each flavor:
- The Light Side: a bright marshmallow ice cream with homemade crispie clusters, as well as a smattering of handmade cocoa crispies (to represent the dark side still lurking within the light)
- The Dark Side: by contrast, is an ultra-dark chocolate ice cream with espresso fudge brownies, cocoa crispies, and white chocolate pearls (to represent the light still hiding in the dark, waiting to burst through)
(3) NY STATE OF MIND. Samuel R. Delany will be inducted to the New York State Writers Hall of Fame in a ceremony on June 7. Previous inductees include Madeleine L’Engle in 2011, Joyce Carol Oates and Kurt Vonnegut in 2012, and Isaac Asimov in 2015.
The New York State Writers Hall of Fame or NYS Writers Hall of Fame is a project established in 2010 by the Empire State Center for the Book and the Empire State Book Festival and headquartered at the New York State Library in Albany, New York, … to highlight the rich literary heritage of the New York State and to recognize the legacy of individual New York State writers. New writers, both living and deceased, have been inducted annually since 2010.
(4) OMG. Here’s a coup —
@dianaglyer Congratulations on finishing Bandersnatch and on its success!
— John Green (@johngreen) February 5, 2016
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
- February 6, 1944 — Captain America becomes the first theatrical Marvel Comics release.
- February 6, 1956 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers premiered this day in 1956. Mental Floss says:
2. IT WAS SHOT IN JUST 23 DAYS.
With a modest $380,000 budget (roughly $3.3 million in today’s dollars), Invasion of the Body Snatchers started filming in Sierra Madre, California on March 23, 1955. If you’re a horror buff, the little city may look a bit familiar, since segments of Halloween (1978) and The Fog (1980) were shot there as well.
In my case it looks familiar because I once lived a block away from downtown Sierra Madre…
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
- Born February 6, 1932 — French film director Francois Truffaut. His only English language directorial movie was Fahrenheit 451 which was also his first color movie. He played Claude Lacombe in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- Born February 6, 1947 – Eric Flint
(7) SNAP JUDGMENT. Photographer Murray Close’s Greatest Hits.
Murray Close’s introduction to photography and the movie business began with an assignment on Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. It turned out to be a three year master class that would influence his work from that point on, forging strong links with the film industry and receiving a priceless photographic grounding. With a mentor such as Kubrick and a hunger for strong imagery Close quickly became the first call for Hollywood A List productions.
- Empire of the Sun
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Jurassic Park
- Mission: Impossible
- The Harry Potter Films
- The Hunger Games Films
- Withnail and I
(8) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day added another category to the slate today: Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Semiprozine.
The preliminary recommendations for Best Semiprozine category:
- Abyss & Apex
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- Daily Science Fiction
- Sci-Phi Journal
- Strange Horizons
(9) GRRM RECOMMENDS. George R.R. Martin names eleven book editors that deserve consideration in “Yet More Hugo Ruminations”
Toni Weisskopf and Jim Minz of Baen, Anne Sowards of Ace, and Sheila Gilbert of DAW were the four legit finalists last year. All four could very well contend again this year….
There are some other outstanding editors who deserve your consideration as well, however. So let me bring a few of them to your attention. Starting with my own editor, ANNE LESLEY GROELL, of Bantam Spectra…. And then there’s Tor. David G. Hartwell has won three times, and so has Patrick Nielsen-Hayden, but there are lots of other terrific editors at Tor who deserve some recognition. DIANA PHO, who edits our Wild Cards books. MOSHE FEDER, who discovered Brandon Sanderson. HARRIET MCDOUGAL, Robert Jordan’s editor who put together this year’s WHEEL OF TIME COMPANION. And LIZ GORINSKY…. So, okay, lots of good strong candidates right here in the US of A… but you know, there are some great choices on the other side of the Atlantic as well. All the great editors are not American, you know, and the Hugo is not restricted to US companies. A lot of British and European fans joined worldcon last year to vote for Finland in 2017. I hope that most of them will take the time to nominate… and that they will look beyond the US publishing scene and rectify a decades-long injustice by nominating MALCOLM EDWARDS of Gollancz/ Orion and JANE JOHNSON of HarperCollins Voyager for the Hugo. For those of you reading this who are not writers or editors and maybe don’t know this stuff — Malcolm Edwards and Jane Johnson are the two giants of British SF and fantasy….
And neither one has EVER been nominated for a Hugo, let alone won. We should fix that now. I was certain that Malcolm and Jane would finally get some recognition year before last, when worldcon went to London… but the Brits, it appears, were asleep at the switch, at least where this category was concerned
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
(1) RAY BRADBURY WOULD BE SO PROUD. That’s what John King Tarpinian thinks. Look who won at the Golden Globes tonight.
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Rachel Bloom, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Here’s video of her acceptance speech.
(2) OTHER GOLDEN GLOBES OF GENRE INTEREST.
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture ?? Musical or Comedy
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
- Best Motion Picture — Animated
- Best Motion Picture -? Musical or Comedy
- Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture made for Television
Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Lady Gaga, “American Horror Story: Hotel”
- Best Television Series ?? Drama
(3) SCIENCE-ING THE SHIT OUT OF ENDOR. ScienceFiction.com has the scoop of the century – Star Wars’ science is defective! The proof? “Physicist Theorizes There Should Have Been An Ewok Extinction Upon Death Star Destruction”.
What if all the Ewoks were killed at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’? You don’t have to think about it. Really, you don’t. But someone thought about it—Dave Minton, a physicist at Purdue University.
Now before you start thinking Minton hates all things cute, he performed some interesting research into what the reality would be like if the second Death Star really did explode near Endor.
(4) DIDN’T KNOW THERE WAS A STAT FOR THIS. Harrison Ford has passed Samuel L. Jackson to become the top-grossing actor in domestic box office history, powered to the top by the growing bank for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Ford’s 41 films have grossed $4.699 billion at the domestic box office, led by The Force Awakens, which accounts for $764.4 million of that figure as of Box Office Mojo’s last update.
Jackson’s films, in comparison, have grossed a mere $4.626 billion, led by Marvel’s The Avengers and its $623.4 million domestic haul.
(5) PAPER TARDIS. This animation is something I’m going to share with my daughter. One of her Christmas gifts was a hand-made facsimile of River Song’s journal. (Via io9)
— BBC America (@BBCAMERICA) January 9, 2016
(6) ROWLING YANKED HIS CHAIN. Hello Giggles says that Stephen Fry met J.K. Rowling long before becoming the narrator of the UK Harry Potter audiobooks, and claims his bland disinterest during that first encounter motivated her to refuse a favor he asked later while trying to record a challenging phrase. True story? Who knows. But it has an edge to it.
(7) SCOOBY CHOO-CHOO, WHERE ARE YOU? The BBC explores “Why Britain has secret ghost trains”. Hobbyists spend a lot of time tracking these down so they can ride them. And as usual where ghosts are concerned, the explanation is less than supernatural.
“Ghost trains are there just for a legal placeholder to prevent the line from being closed,” says Bruce Williamson, national spokesperson for the advocacy group RailFuture. Or as Colin Divall, professor of railway studies at the University of York, puts it: “It’s a useless, limited service that’s borderline, and the reason that it’s been kept is there would be a stink if anyone tried to close it.”
Why ghosts exist
That is the crux of why the ghost trains still exist. A more official term is “parliamentary trains”, a name that stems from past years when an Act of Parliament was needed to shut down a line. Many train operators kept running empty trains to avoid the costs and political fallout – and while this law has since changed, the same pressures remain.
(8) SCRIMM OBIT. Actor Angus Scrimm, best known for playing the “Tall Man” in the Phantasm horror franchise, died January 9 at the age of 89. He also was in I Sell the Dead (2008), the TV show Alias, and the audio play series Tales From Beyond the Pale. Scrimm also appeared in a production of Ray Bradbury’s play Let’s All Kill Constance.
For several decades Scrimm writer album liner notes for Capitol Records, winning a Grammy in 1974 (credited as Rory Guy, as were his early film roles) for his notes on Korngold: The Classic Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
(9) FITZSIMMONS OBIT. SF Site News reports kT FitzSimmons (1956-2016) who ran program for the 1991 Worldcon, Chicon V, died January 10 after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was a veteran conrunner who worked on Windycon and Capricon in Chicago, and served as a board member of Capricon’s parent organization Phandemonium.
(10) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY
- January 9, 1492 – Columbus mistakes manatees for mermaids. Hoon!
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
- January 10, 1927 — Metropolis makes its world premiere in Germany.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CHARACTER
- Born January 10, 1732 — Saara Mar. According to Taral Wayne, she was born in 1732 on a planet 400 light years from Earth, in the direction of the Pleiades cluster. She “discovered” Earth in 1970, on the 5th of April, 6 days before the lift-off of Apollo 13, and 8 days before the miraculous rescue of the crew that changed history.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born January 10, 1904 — Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.
(14) SHORT AND SWEET. Fynbospress teaches sound techniques for blurb writing at Mad Genius Club.
At the heart of every story, there is this: A person, who wants something, but a force opposes him. This is important, because of these stakes. Either they get it, or they don’t.
Take the first and second sentence of that paragraph. (Not the third; you don’t give away how it comes out in the blurb.) Who is your person? What do they want? What opposes them? What are the stakes?
Simplify. If you have two or three main characters, pick the one whose wants or needs drive the story the most. Unless you’re writing epic fantasy, where the browser will be disappointed if you don’t introduce at least three sides, stick to one protagonist, and one opposing force. Generally, that’s the first opposition they meet in the story, not the one they meet in chapter 3, and definitely not the one revealed in the twist in chapter 20.
Your description should not, as a rule of thumb, reveal any information past chapter 3.
(15) ONE IN A MILLION. Mark Lawrence in “Luck, Deus Ex Machina, Plot Armour” tells why it’s okay to build a story around the statistically unlikely survivor.
We don’t see the article about the lottery winner in the newspaper and cry, “Jesus fuck! What are the odds that the reporter chose the winner to write about.”
…Swap now from reality to fiction. The author still has a choice about who they write about. They can still pick the person who survives, at least long enough to do some interesting things. But they also get to choose how that person survives
(16) SPEAK TO THE GEEK. Declan Finn devoted today’s installment of his internet radio show The Catholic Geek to Sad Puppies 4 (he’s in favor), with time left over to diagnose why George R.R. Martin hasn’t finished his book, and to argue Shakespeare really wrote for the rabble not the nobility.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]