In a new episode of The Babylon Bee Podcast, hosts Kyle Mann and Ethan Nicolle talk to Diana Glyer, author of Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings.
The Babylon Beecalls itself “Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire” and going by posts I’ve seen linked on Facebook, they’re pretty good at teasing the foibles of the church. I had no idea they did anything as serious as an interview podcast prior hearing about this episode, and be warned in advance that the set decorations suggest the hosts would not be shocked to meet someone who voted for Trump, although contemporary politics are not under discussion this time.
Dr. Glyer is on the show because —
She has spent 40 years combing through archives, studying old manuscripts, and is considered a leading expert on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her scholarship, her teaching, and her work as an artist all circle back to one common theme: creativity thrives in community. Kyle and Ethan talk to Dr. Glyer about Tolkien, Lewis, and the creativity that can happen in a community like The Inklings.
Diana plays it straight, giving good information about the writers while the hosts nibble around the edges for punchlines. Indeed, one host remarks, “Such deep answers to my stupid questions. That’s what makes a good guest.”
A free excerpt is on YouTube, and the rest of the conversation is available to subscribers.
Some new stamps have been released by Royal Mail to mark the 25th, and latest, James Bond movie No Time To Die. They’ve all been inspired by the classic opening sequences and feature the six actors who’ve played 007
The Royal Mail is taking orders for the stamps and all kinds of cute
Bond collectibles here.
For example, the “James
Bond Secret Dossier”, “A
confidential dossier containing six missions linked to the Special Stamps.”
(2) JOHN SCALZI’S LAST (EMPEROX) TOUR. From coast to coast –
and in the middle, too, John Scalzi will be promoting The Last Emperox. Find
out when and where:“Tour
Dates! Tour Dates! Tour Dates!”.
…i recently finished a book called Bandernatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings that struck me with a surprising insight into peak performance. The book is about the creative collaboration among a group of exceptional English writers in the 1930’s and 1940’s and its amazing results. If you are a Tolkien or Lewis geek like me, you’ll love the book for its insights into the story behind the story of their writing. For purposes of today’s post, I want to focus on a particular concept introduced to me by author Diana Glyer: the resonator.
The resonator is “…anyone who acts as a friendly, interested, supportive audience … they show interest, give feedback, express praise, offer encouragement, contribute practical help, and promote the work to others. … they are enthusiastic about the project, they believe it is worth doing, and they are eager to see it brought to completion. But more importantly, they show interest in the writer — they express confidence in the writer’s talents and show faith in his or her ability to succeed. They understand what the writer is attempting. They catch the vision and then do all they can. Resonators help innovators to make the leap from where they are to where they need to be.”
Of course, right? How else would anyone get anything amazing accomplished? We like to talk a big collaboration game but few of us do it and fewer still are good at it. Peak performance in our world is the lone athlete doing the impossible. The brilliant scientist with a break through in the dark, lonely hours of the night. The deft surgeon making all of the right decisions, and incisions, in the OR. The inspired novelist typing away in insolation as she produces a story that touches everyone. We see our best coming in isolation and, like much of the rest of our lives, we approach our best life, best self, and best performance with a lottery ticket mentality: buy the ticket and hope for the best.
(4) A SIMPLE TEST YOU CAN DO AT HOME. Aidan Moher did the math and was stunned by the answer.
Weird Tales was Bob Weinberg’s favorite pulp and besides the pulp itself, he loved to collect ephemera related to it. Among the items that will be in the Robert Weinberg Estate Auction being held at the 2020 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention (April 17-19, 2020 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center) are not only many issues of Weird Tales, but some related items as well. The auction will be held on the evening of Friday, April 17, 2020.
Bob collected many letters from Weird Tales’ editor Farnsworth Wright over the years, including several from the estate of author Greye la Spina. She was one of the pioneering female writers of horror and fantasy for the pulps.
…In Star Trek: Picard, we are presented with a future where the powers that be are no longer committed to these great ambitions. Starfleet, it seems, withdrew from the great challenge of its age, the humanitarian project to save the Romulan people from the effects of their sun going supernova, making a distinction between ‘lives’ and ‘Romulan lives’. We see a man whose values are no longer shared by the institutions to which he devoted his whole life, and who is struggling with this misalignment….
1. You may already have received an email from theCombined Book Exhibit’s New Title Showcase. The CBE, an area of standing bookshelves outside the entrance to the BEA display floor, offers display packages for a few hundred dollars. For a few hundred more, you can buy an ad in its catalog; for many hundreds more, you can buy an autographing session.
Your book will be placed on a shelf with hundreds of others, in no particular order: there are no separate areas for genres, for instance. I’ve attended BEA many times, and the CBE is often completely deserted, with not a customer or a staff person in sight. I’ve never seen more than a handful of people browsing it at any one time. There is definitely no handselling involved.
A number of predatory marketing companies re-sell CBE services for enormous markups. The CBE is aware of this, and has posted a warning on its website (it’s no coincidence that all the companies named in the warning appear on the scam list in the sidebar of this blog).
(8) COYNE OBIT. The
Rev. George V. Coyne, a Jesuit astrophysicist and the longtime director of the
Vatican Observatory, who defended Galileo and Darwin against doctrinaire Roman
Catholics, and also challenged atheists by insisting that science and religion
could coexist, died on February 18 at the age of 87 The New York Times
tribute is here.
…Recognized among astronomers for his research into the birth of stars and his studies of the lunar surface (an asteroid is named after him), Father Coyne was also well known for seeking to reconcile science and religion.
…Brother Guy Consolmagno, the current director of the Vatican Observatory, said in an email that Father Coyne “was notable for publicly engaging with a number of prominent and aggressive opponents of the church who wished to use science as a tool against religion.”
Among those he engaged on the debate stage and in print were Richard Dawkins, the English evolutionary biologist and atheist, and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who, in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in 2005, defended the concept that evolution could not have occurred without divine intervention.
During Father Coyne’s tenure, the Vatican publicly acknowledged that Galileo and Darwin might have been correct. Brother Consolmagno said it would be fair to say that Father Coyne had played a role in shifting the Vatican’s position….
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 18, 1908 — Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in Galaxina, The Incredible Hulk, Jason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The Rings, Adult Fairytales, Clones, Dracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.)
Born February 18, 1919 — Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh, the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and he had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.)
Born February 18, 1929 — Len Deighton, 91. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. Itdeals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series was broadcast several years back.
Born February 18, 1930 — Gahan Wilson. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. (Died 2019.)
Born February 18, 1954 — John Travolta, 66. Ahhhh, Battlefield Earth. Travolta, a Scientologist, had sought for years to make a film of the novel by Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Given it is now generally considered one of the worst SF films ever, I do wonder what he thinks of it now. I can almost forgive him for it as he went on to become involved in Chicago which is one of the finest musicals ever filmed.
Born February 18, 1968 — Molly Ringwald, 52. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there.
(10) IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN. In “Love
and Loss in the Time of Swamp Monsters” on CrimeReads, Andy
Davidson recalls his three favorite Swamp Thing stories, and explains
Swamp Thing’s romantic problems because “it can’t be easy falling in love
with a vegetable.”
From his first appearance in 1971 in DC’s House of Secrets #92, Len Wein and Berni Wrightson’s Swamp Thing seemed doomed to be the monster lurking beyond the darkened pane.
By the time Swamp Thing #1 hit spinner racks a year later, Wein and Wrightson’s series had revamped and fleshed out the story of Dr. Alec Holland, a research scientist murdered, along with his wife, for his “bio-restorative formula.” Horribly burned in an explosion that destroys his lab, Holland flees into the swamp, where he succumbs to his injuries, only to be miraculously reborn from the bog, “a muck-encrusted, shambling mockery of life.”
(11) WHO SAYS
YOU CAN’T PICK YOUR PARENTS? Takayuki Tatsumi, a Keio University English
professor and an expert on cyberpunk who has been a frequent panelist at
Worldcons, was interviewed by Elif Batuman in a piece that appeared in the
April 30, 2018 New Yorker on the Japanese practice of “rental relatives,”
where companies rent out actors who pretend to be a client’s spouse, children,
or parents. “Japan’s
Rental relatives have inspired a substantial literary corpus. In Tokyo, I met with the critic Takayuki Tatsumi, who, in the nineties, wrote a survey of the genre. He explained that postmodern and queer novelists had used rental relatives to represent the ‘virtual family,’ an idea he traced back to the -ie- of the Meiji period, where adoption of family members was common and biological lineage was subordinated to the integrity of the household. ‘According to Foucault, everything is constructed, not essentially determined,’ Tatsumi said. ‘What matters is the function.’
(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was perched in front of the TV
tonight when all the contestants whiffled on this Jeopardy! answer:
Category: Speaking Volumes.
Answer: Here’s a revelation — it’s the seventh and “last” book in the Narnia series.
No one got, “What is ‘The Last Battle’?”
(13) MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Brad Torgersen recently was a
convention GoH. Guess which of his good friends praised the choice in these terms:
The very best part of Brad being GoH however was that it caused several of the Shrieking Harpies of Tolerance to throw a temper tantrum and declare that they were going to boycott the event (and they did, yet absolutely nobody missed them). Upon hearing that I asked if they could make Brad emeritus GoH every year forever, because that’s like putting a tick collar on a dog.
To think he used to be the Sad Puppies’ lead dog. Now
he’s just the collar.
Con-goers flirt a lot, it is part of the fun of the event … and is really meant to be light-hearted, not a promise of a serious relationship.
5. Point and stare at people in costume…
…even if you’re one of them. It may look exotic and strange to you, but for a con, costumes are quite common at science fiction conventions. That said, if you like someone’s costume, you can always compliment. Just be sure it is a costume…
(15) PRACTICING? In
the Washington Post, Rick Noack and Stefano Petrilli discuss how the
spread of the corona virus has increased interest in plague-related video
games, with “Plague Inc.” and “Pandemic” racking up sales
around the world. “Virus
games are going viral as the coronavirus spreads”.
The popularity of games centered on the proliferation of pathogens has surged in recent weeks.
As officials and experts worked to stem the global spread of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, and has left more than 1,500 people dead, gamers have turned their attention to parallel, imaginary struggles.Foremost among them: Plague Inc., a strategy game that rose to the top of Apple Store charts in China, the United States, and elsewhere as coronavirus fears mounted. First released by U.K.-based studio Ndemic Creations in 2012, the game, of which there are a handful of variants, asks players to take the part of a pathogen, helping it evolve to wipe out humanity.
The popularity of such games makes sense amid efforts to cope with the coronavirus and the fears it has sown, researchers and game developers said.
(16) EX-TERMINATE! Fabrice Mathieu’s new mashup is Terminators:
Several T-800 are sent back in time by Skynet. But their mission is scrambled. And now they are all targeting each other!
Researchers have described the first “articulated” remains of a Neanderthal to be discovered in a decade.
An articulated skeleton is one where the bones are still arranged in their original positions.
The new specimen was uncovered at Shanidar Cave in Iraq and consists of the upper torso and crushed skull of a middle-aged to older adult.
Excavations at Shanidar in the 1950s and 60s unearthed partial remains of 10 Neanderthal men, women and children.
During these earlier excavations, archaeologists found that some of the burials were clustered together, with clumps of pollen surrounding one of the skeletons.
The researcher who led those original investigations, Ralph Solecki from Columbia University in New York, claimed it was evidence that Neanderthals had buried their dead with flowers.
This “flower burial” captured the imagination of the public and kicked off a decades-long controversy. The floral interpretation suggested our evolutionary relatives were capable of cultural sophistication, challenging the view – prevalent at the time – that Neanderthals were unintelligent and animalistic.
(18) FRENCH VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Dans La Nuit” by Agathe Simoulin on Vimeo
is a creepy story about ghosts in a graveyard adapted from a story by Guy de
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Chip
Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title cedit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel
Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R. Tolkien and the last of the Inklings, died January 15 at the age of 95 the New York Times reports.
For nearly 50 years after his father passed away in 1973, Christopher
continued to edit and publish his father’s unfinished manuscripts, giving
J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary output the benefit of two lifetimes’ work. Christopher
assembled from pieces the epic Middle-Earth predecessor to Lord of the Rings,
melding them into The Silmarillion (1977). In
all, he edited or oversaw the publication of two dozen editions of his father’s
works, many of which became international best sellers.
the way he produced 12 volumes of The History of Middle-earth, a
compilation of drafts, fragments, rewrites, marginal notes and other writings that
showed the evolution of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium.
Christopher is also credited with creating the acclaimed 1954 map of Middle-earth.
World War II, when Christopher was serving with the Royal Air Force in South
Africa, his father mailed him parts of The Lord of the Rings for comment
After the war he studied English at Trinity College,
Oxford, taking his BA in
1949 and his B.Litt
a few years later. He became
a lecturer in Old and Middle English as well as Old Icelandic at the University
In 1945, he became the youngest member of the Inklings, a circle of Oxford writers and scholars started in the Thirties by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others, who met weekly in Lewis’s college rooms. Christopher was told in a letter from his father that the Inklings proposed to consider him “a permanent member, with right of entry and what not quite independent of my presence or otherwise.”
Dr. Diana Glyer, author of two
books about the Inklings, including The
Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community,mourned
I must refer now to all the Inklings in past tense; the last of them has died. I met Christopher Tolkien, talked with him, corresponded from time to time. I have devoted my life to studying the Inklings. Today, they have slipped from solid, real, and tangible into the past, beyond reach. I no longer have the privilege of studying what is, only what was. Everything has changed.
J.R.R. Tolkien biographer John Garth ended his Facebook announcement
of Christopher’s death with this fitting quote from the end of Lord of the
“Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
Christopher is survived by his second
wife, Baillie, his sister Priscilla, and three children, Simon,
Adam and Rachel.
Glen GoodKnight (1941-2010) lived in a home decorated the way many fans would like, the walls all covered with bookcases. Glen filled his shelves with multiple editions of Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, not only in English but in many different languages — collecting them was his lifelong passion. And now his family has made sure Glen’s collection of Inklngs rarities will remain intact by donating it to Azusa Pacific University.
Glen started reading and acquiring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams as a teenager, writings he valued so highly he founded the Mythopoeic Society in 1967, devoted to the study of mythopoeic literature, particularly the works of members of the informal Oxford literary circle known as the Inklings.
That same year, 1967, Glen’s collection took First Prize in the Student Library Competition at CSULA, though in size it was less than 3% of what it would become. By 1992, the Tolkien portion alone amounted to 700 volumes published in 29 languages and, he told a reporter that he lacked only the versions in Armenian, Moldavian and Faeroese, a language spoken on islands near Iceland. In 2010, Glen’s website devoted to C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Editions and Translations showed that series had been published in 47 languages or scripts other than English (including Braille).
Family members transferred the GoodKnight Collection to APU this
summer, where it is being processed and cataloged. In July, Roger White invited
me to see some of the amazing things that will be available to future scholars
thanks to this donation.
Perhaps the rarest Tolkien collectible GoodKnight owned is the small paperbound copy of Songs for the Philologists (Tolkien & Gordon, 1936), printed by students in hand-set type as an exercise on a reconstructed wooden hand-press but never distributed because permission had not been requested from Tolkien or Gordon. The stored copies burned when the building where they were kept was bombed during WWII. However, a few copies survived in the hands of the students who printed them.
Another old volume, with some of Tolkien’s early published poetry,
is Leeds University Verse 1914-1924, an anthology with three of his poems.
collected examples of Tolkien’s scholarship, such as the 1932 article on “The
name ‘Nodens’” published as an
appendix to Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman, and
Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, a discussion of three inscriptions found
at the excavations which he concluded is the name of an unrecorded deity.
Collection contains 100 English-language versions of The Hobbit – ranging
from the 1938 first American edition, to a 1968 copy from Tolkien’s own library
with his notes.
There are many inscribed books, such as a copy of The Hobbit (1937) signed by the author’s son, Christopher Tolkien, and a boxed set of Lord of the Rings which Christopher Tolkien signed when he attended the 1987 Mythopoeic Conference at Marquette University.
GoodKnight built his collection through a combination of diligence
and good luck. In the days before the internet, he made discoveries by checking
bookstores in every city he visited, combing through book dealers’ catalogs, and
bidding on items auctioned at the annual Mythopoeic Conferences. On top of that,
he had the good luck to visit England in 1975 and meet Priscilla Tolkien, then selling
books for charitable purposes that had belonged to her father (who died in 1973).
About half of these were first edition translations of Tolkien in various
languages. He bought all he could carry away in two empty suitcases.
Among the works once owned by Tolkien as part of his personal library are:
Foreign translations of The Hobbit in Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch (first edition, with Tolkien’s pipe ash where the pages meet in several places), Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish and Swedish.
In de Ban van de Ring (3 vols.), the Dutch first edition of The Lord of the Rings published in 1956; signed by Tolkien.
Mythlore (first issue) – with handwritten comments by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings inscribed by members of the Tolkien family.
Preface to Paradise Lost 1942 first edition inscribed “with kind regards, C.S. Lewis, Jan, 1943.”
The acquisition of the GoodKnight Collection adds greatly to the Inklings-owned books already held by APU, which includes the Owen Barfield Family Collection.
More than 250 books from the
More than 300 family photographs
Postcard collection from the
Assorted personal documents and
Lewis called Barfield “the best and wisest of my unofficial teachers.”
APU’s Inklings Collection also owns a number of books that were formerly part of C.S. Lewis’ personal library, acquired from Lewis biographer George Sayers. One is C. S. Lewis’s annotated copy of E. M. W. Tillyard’s Milton, a book that prompted an exchange between the two men that led to their jointly authored work, The Personal Heresy. Some of Lewis’s books include handwritten notes he made on end pages, plus the dates he read or reread them.
There are 50 books from Priscilla Tolkien’s personal library – for example, a Sir Walter Scott novel received as a present from Christopher Tolkien in 1943.
APU even possesses
the manuscript of Humphrey Carpenter’s group biography The Inklings.
Glen’s friends will
be delighted to know that his collection is being preserved, and that in years
to come scholars will be able to use it to do innovative research projects
about this group of writers.
Rutger Hauer, the versatile Dutch leading man of the ’70s who went on star in the 1982 “Blade Runner” as Roy Batty, died July 19 at his home in the Netherlands after a short illness. He was 75.
Hauer’s agent, Steve Kenis, confirmed the news and said that Hauer’s funeral was held Wednesday.
His most cherished performance came in a film that was a resounding flop on its original release. In 1982, he portrayed the murderous yet soulful Roy Batty, leader of a gang of outlaw replicants, opposite Harrison Ford in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir opus “Blade Runner.” The picture became a widely influential cult favorite, and Batty proved to be Hauer’s most indelible role.
More recently, he appeared in a pair of 2005 films: as Cardinal Roark in “Sin City,” and as the corporate villain who Bruce Wayne discovers is running the Wayne Corp. in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins.”
… Hauer increasingly turned to action-oriented parts in the ‘80s: He toplined the big-budget fantasy “Ladyhawke” (1985), reteamed with fellow Hollywood transplant Verhoeven in the sword-and-armor epic “Flesh & Blood” (1985), starred as a psychotic killer in “The Hitcher” (1986), and took Steve McQueen’s shotgun-toting bounty hunter role in a modern reboot of the TV Western “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1986).
Let’s get the monologue on the table, first thing, because he wrote it himself, and it’s brilliant:
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”
That’s Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, playing the artificial person Roy Batty in his death scene…
… Then, in 2017, a friend introduced me to Roll20, an online platform that serves as a digital tabletop, and everything changed. On a computer, I have the power to alter my settings—I can zoom in, change colors, and make whatever tweaks I need in order to make things accessible for my specific visual impairment. And things I lacked the power to change, my DM could: giving tokens borders with higher contrast, adjusting the lighting on a map, or—if I got lost looking for something—shifting my view in the direction I needed to be focusing.
I could roll dice directly on the platform and see my result easily, and best of all, I had a digital character sheet I could alter easily and at will, rather than a few pieces of paper I’d require another player to edit for me. And then I discovered other websites, like DnDBeyond, which made it easy to look up stats and spells online—again, in a medium far more accessible for me.
I still required a dungeon master willing to take the time to describe certain things to me and to make whatever color and contrast adjustments I needed, but even playing with strangers via Roll20’s Looking For Game system, my experience has been positive. Thanks to the websites I used, the things I needed didn’t require all that much work on their end, and now I was able to fully immerse myself in a hobby I’d once believed would be impossible for me because of my disability.
In 2018, when Sony Interactive Entertainment unveiled the latest versions of two of its top-grossing video game titles — “God of War” and “Marvel’s Spider-Man” — they included new features that meant a lot to a specific subset of players: those with disabilities. To aid people with motor skill impairments, for instance, “God of War” introduced an option to press and hold a single button instead of tapping it repeatedly; it also let players with hearing disabilities adjust individual audio settings such as volume, dialogue and sound effects. For players with visual impairments, the subtitles in “Spider-Man” are now resizable and include tags that always indicate who is speaking.
Five years ago, according to Sam Thompson, a managing senior producer at Sony Interactive, it was possible to count on one hand the number of video games that had features catering to people with disabilities. Today, there are hundreds of such games. The shift, says Thompson, is “kind of amazing” — and he gives credit to a small nonprofit in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
The group, called AbleGamers, was the brainchild of Mark Barlet, a 45-year-old disabled Air Force veteran and entrepreneur…
… Where to start? Whether you’re a longtime fan of GOOD OMENS, Gaiman’s funny book about the apocalypse co-written with the late Terry Pratchett almost 30 years ago, or a new convert thanks to the sparkling new Amazon/BBC series, now is the perfect time to hear (or revisit) the audiobook.
… For something darker that’s perfect for an extended road trip, Gaiman’s 2001 epic novel AMERICAN GODS, in which old gods clash with new ones, also comes in two unabridged versions: one narrated by Golden Voice George Guidall, and a Tenth Anniversary Edition performed by a full cast. Can’t get enough gods? Follow up with ANANSI BOYS, about trickster god Anansi, read by Lenny Henry, and NORSE MYTHOLOGY, read by Gaiman.
… In the mood for nonfiction?THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATSand ART MATTERS collect Gaiman’s essays and speeches and will give listeners insights into Gaiman’s wide-ranging interests and his writing process—and maybe even inspire you to make your own art.
…Yet, in the end, Humphrey Carpenter failed in his attempt to throw the Inklings into the dustbin of irrelevance; because overall the book had the opposite effect of its intent – awakening for many, such as myself, a long-term and intense fascination with a ‘group of friends’ who were also, in reality, so much more than merely that.
(6) FROM THE BEEB. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan
Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 has aired the
second in the science and SF series Stranger Than Sci-Fi where astro-physicist
Dr Jen Gupta and comedian Alice Fraser travel the parallel worlds of science
Last week’s was on artificial wombs. Today’s is
on black holes (or frozen stars if you are of Russian persuasion and wish to
avoid the rude connotation) — “Black
The program will be downloadable from BBC for a month
once it is broadcast
Mr. Krassner was writing freelance pieces for Mad magazine in 1958 when he realized that there was no equivalent satirical publication for adults; Mad, he could see, was largely targeted at teenagers. So he started The Realist out of the Mad offices, and it began regular monthly publication. By 1967 its circulation had peaked at 100,000.
“I had no role models and no competition, just an open field mined with taboos waiting to be exploded,” Mr. Krassner wrote in his autobiography.
The magazine’s most famous cartoon was one, drawn in 1967 by the Mad artist Wally Wood, of an orgy featuring Snow White, Donald Duck and a bevy of Disney characters enjoying a variety of sexual positions. (Mickey Mouse is shown shooting heroin.) Later, digitally colored by a former Disney artist, it became a hot-selling poster that supplied Mr. Krassner with modest royalties into old age.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
July 24, 1948 — Debut of Marvin the Martian in Bugs Bunny’s “Haredevil Hare.”
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 24, 1802 — Alexandre Dumas. The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After. Are they genre? Good question. (Died 1870.)
Born July 24, 1878 — Lord Dunsany whose full name and title was a jaw dropping Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany. So ISFDB lists him as genre for the Jorkens body of work among works. H’h. Gary Turner, who some of you will recognize from Golden Gryphon Press and elsewhere, reviewed The Collected Jorkens: Volumes One, Two, and Three, for Green Man, so I’ve linked to the review here. They also list The King of Elfland’s Daughter which I’m going to link to another review on Green Man as it’s an audio recording with a very special guest appearance by Christopher Lee. (Died 1957.)
Born July 24, 1895 — Robert Graves. Poet, historical novelist, critic. Author of, among other works, The White Goddess (a very strange book), two volumes called the Greek Myths, Seven Days in New Crete which Pringle has on his Best Hundred Fantasy Novels list and more short fiction that bears thinking about. (Died 1985.)
Born July 24, 1916 — John D. MacDonald. Primarily a mystery writer whose Travis McGee series I enjoyed immensely, he wrote a handful of genre works including the sublime The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything. ISFDB lists a collection, End of the Tiger and Other Short Stories, which I presume is genre. (Died 1986.)
Born July 24, 1936 — Mark Goddard, 83. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh, and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film.
Born July 24, 1945 — Gordon Eklund, 74. He won the Nebula for Best Novelette for “If the Stars Are Gods”, co-written with Gregory Benford. They expanded it into a novel which was quite good if I remember correctly. So would anyone care to tell the story of how he came to write the Lord Tedric series which was inspired by an E.E. Doc Smith novelette?
Born July 24, 1951 — Lynda Carter, 68. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer; Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin In Supergirl.
Born July 24, 1964 — Colleen Doran, 55. Comics artist and writer. work worth particularly worth noting she’s done includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder Woman, Legion of Superheroes, Teen Titans, “Troll Bridge” by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, in the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerised Into Sandman as the character Thessaly is based on Doran.
Born July 24, 1981 — Summer Glau, 38. An impressive run in genre roles as she’s was. River Tam in Firefly and of course Serenity, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, as Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (Is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas and lastly Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow.
Born July 24, 1982 — Anna Paquin, 37. Sookie Stackhouse in the True Blood series. Rogue in the X-Men franchise. She also shows up in Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams as Sarah in the “Real Life” episode.
Poorly Drawn Lines has a funny entry that actually references the phrase “sense of wonder.”
… You might think that I, who was the target of much Sad Puppy whining and mewling, would be sitting here happily munching on popcorn while this bit of Wikidrama unfolds. But in fact I think the deletion attempt is a problem. Neither Williamson nor Hoyt are exactly on my Christmas card list at the moment, but you know what? Both of them are solid genre writers who for years have been putting out work through a major genre publisher, and who are both actively publishing today. They are genuinely of note in the field of science fiction and fantasy. One may think their politics, in and out of the genre, are revanchist as all fuck, or that their tenure and association with the Puppy bullshit didn’t do them any favors, or that one just doesn’t care for them on a day-to-day basis for whatever reason. But none of that is here or there regarding whether, on the basis of their genre output, they are notable enough to be the subject of a damn Wikipedia article. They are! Wikipedia notability is kind of a middlin’-height bar, and they get themselves over it pretty well.
Or to flip it around, if neither Williamson nor Hoyt is notable enough for inclusion in Wikipedia, there’s gonna be some bloodletting in the site’s category of science fiction and fantasy writers, because there are a fair number of Wikipedia-article-bearing genre authors who are no more notable than Hoyt or Williamson. If they go, there are legitimately many others on the chopping block as well.
According to Camestros
Scalzi is wading into the Wiki-fuss”, Scalzi also made entries to the
Wikipedia deletion discussion itself. He probably did, and although the links aren’t
working for me Camestros has the full quotes anyway.
(13) FUTURE SHOCK. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing in The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum takes
a look at the BBC/HBO co-produced near-future science fiction series Years
And Years. The series, which is built around the conceit of moving
through years at a rapid pace — often three years in a one-hour episode,
provides a mostly-realistic future that won’t fill many viewers with
hope. ““Years and Years” Forces Us Into the Future”.
“Years and Years” keeps leaping forward, forcing us into the future, as the economy crumbles, the ice caps melt, authoritarianism rises, and teen-agers implant phones into their hands. It’s an alarmist series, in a literal sense: it’s meant to serve as an alarm, an alert to what’s going on in front of our eyes, and where that might lead, if we don’t wake up.”
In the wake of Boris Johnson’s elevation to the post
of Prime Minister, I’d say that the series might seem overly optimistic about
the future of the United Kingdom. But I’d heartily recommend seeking out the
Do you remember the good old days when we had “12 years to save the planet”?
Now it seems, there’s a growing consensus that the next 18 months will be critical in dealing with the global heating crisis, among other environmental challenges.
Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030.
But today, observers recognise that the decisive, political steps to enable the cuts in carbon to take place will have to happen before the end of next year.
The idea that 2020 is a firm deadline was eloquently addressed by one of the world’s top climate scientists, speaking back in 2017.
“The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and now director emeritus of the Potsdam Climate Institute.
The sense that the end of next year is the last chance saloon for climate change is becoming clearer all the time.
Comedian and broadcaster Sir Michael Palin is to have surgery to fix a “leaky valve” in his heart.
The Monty Python member discovered a problem with his mitral valve – a small flap that stops blood flowing the wrong way around the heart – five years ago.
It had not affected his general fitness until earlier this year, he said.
“Recently, though, I have felt my heart having to work harder and have been advised it’s time to have the valve repaired,” he wrote on his website.
“I shall be undergoing surgery in September and should be back to normal, or rather better than normal, within three months.”
(17) PICARD & COMPANY. TV Line did a mass
interview — “’Star Trek: Picard’
Cast on the Return of Patrick Stewart’s Iconic Captain.”
The cast of ‘Star Trek: Picard’ previews the CBS All Access series with TVLine’s Kim Roots at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
[Thanks to John A Arkansawyer, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike
Kennedy, Hampus Eckerman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse
Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Olav Rokne, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDALS. No genre works were on the shortlist, so needless to say today’s Andrew Carnegie Medal winners were all non-genre books. The omnivorous readers among you might like to know what they are anyway:
The Tea Master & the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
The trouble with reading SFF is that you end up with amazing life goals that probably will not be attained during your own lifetime. It’s bad enough when a favourite book leaves you wanting a dragon librarian to be your best friend, or a magic school to invite you in when you turn eleven… and now I need a spaceship who brews tea in my life.
A really good cozy mystery balances rich characters with charmingly creepy murders, and de Bodard hits all the right notes in this wonderful, warm homage to Sherlock Holmes in which our detective is Long Chau, an angry and traumatised scholar, and her Watson is a calm, tea-brewing shipmind.
As with the original Watson, Long Chau’s story is told from the point of view of the detective’s friend, which allows a contrast between the detective’s technical brilliance, and our narrator’s emotional intelligence. Yes, the emotional work in the story is largely done by the spaceship. That’s how great it is. –Tansy
(4) HEMMING DEADLINE. If you’re going to nominate for the Norma K. Hemming Award, you need to get it done by January 31. Details at the website.
Designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work, the Norma K Hemming award is open to short fiction, novellas, novels, anthologies, collections, graphic novels and stage plays, and makes allowances for serialised work.
Entry is free for all works, and entries may be provided to the judges in print or digital format.
Nominations are open to all relevant and eligible Australian work produced in 2018.
(5) FOOD REVELATIONS. Fran
Wilde did a class about “Fantastic Worldbuilding.” Cat Rambo tweeted the highlights.
A new trailer for The Wandering Earth — described as China’s biggest science fiction movie ever — landed earlier this week, showing off an ambitious adventure that follows the efforts to save Earth after scientists discover that the sun is about to go out.
The movie is based on a story by Chinese author Cixin Liu — who’s best known for his Three-Body Problem trilogy and last year’s Ball Lightning. While those books are huge, epic stories, The Wandering Earth is no less ambitious: when scientists realize that the sun will go out in a couple of decades, they hatch a desperate plan: to move the planet to Proxima Centauri. The construct thousands of giant engines to move the planet out of orbit, where it can then slingshot post Jupiter and out of the Solar System.
Robert Pattinson despises his iconic “Twilight” character, Edward Cullen, with a fury unlike any other. Pattinson has complained throughout so many interviews about Edward, the century-old telepathic vampire who falls for Kristen Stewart’s Bella (a witch or something), that there’s an entire Tumblr feed dedicated to his most (self-) scathing comments.
Among his harshest words: He has said “Twilight” “seemed like a book that shouldn’t be published.” That “if Edward was not a fictional character, and you just met him in reality — you know, he’s one of those guys who would be an ax murderer.” He called his performance “a mixture of looking slightly constipated and stoned.”
(8) OBSCURE AWARD. The Society of Camera Operators’ awards were presented January
26, and if you scan The Hollywood Reporter article closely enough you’ll be able
to discover the single winner of genre note: “‘A Star Is Born’ Camera Operator Tops SOC Awards”.
Movie category had no genre nominees
* P. Scott Sakamoto for A Star Is Born
* Chris Haarhoff and Steven Matzinger for Westworld
* Jane Fonda — Governor’s Award
* Harrison Ford— President’s Award
* “Lifetime Achievement award recipients were Dave Emmerichs, camera operator; Hector Ramirez, camera operator (live and non-scripted); Jimmy Jensen, camera technician; John Man, mobile camera platform operator, and Peter Iovino, still photographer.”
* Technical achievement award — makers of the Cinemoves Matrix 4 axis stabilized gimbal
Rami Harpaz lead a group of IAF pilots in Egyptian captivity to translate the iconic fantasy work into Hebrew while in prison, the book introduced Tolkien to Israeli readers and remains iconic.
…He was captured by the Egyptians during the War of Attrition, while in captivity he was given a copy of the Hobbit, the famous fantasy book by J.R.R. Tolkien, by his brother who was able to deliver the book to him via the Red Cross.
Prison conditions were harsh and the Egyptians tortured the Israeli prisoners, yet despite of this, Harpaz and his fellow prisoners began to translate the book into Hebrew. The initial motivation was to allow Israelis who could not read English well to enjoy the book in Hebrew.
The translation was done in pairs with one person reading in English and speaking it out in Hebrew and the translation partner writing it down in Hebrew and editing it. Harpaz and three other captured pilots were the translators of what became known as ‘the pilots translation’ of the Hobbit. The final product was seven notebooks written by hand, the book was published in 1977 with funding provided by the IAF.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 27, 1832 – Lewis Carroll. Writer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. In 1876, he also produced his work, “The Hunting of the Snark”, a fantastical nonsense poem exploring the adventures of a very, very bizarre crew of nine tradesmen and a beaver who set off to find the snark. (Died 1898.)
Born January 27, 1940 – James Cromwell, 79. I think we best know him as Doctor Zefram Cochrane In Star Trek: First Contact which was re-used in the Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly (Part I)”. He’s been in other genre films including Species II, Deep Impact, The Green Mile, Space Cowboys, I, Robot, Spider-Man 3 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He played characters on three Trek series, Prime Minister Nayrok on “The Hunted” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Jaglom Shrek in the two part “Birthright” story, Hanok on the “Starship Down” episode of Deep Space Nine and Zefram Cochrane once as noted before on Enterprise.
Born January 27, 1957 – Frank Miller, 62. If you’re not a comic reader, you first encountered him in the form of Robocop 2 which I think is a quite decent film. His other films include Robocop 3, Sin City, 300, Spirit (fun) and various Batman animated films that you’ll either like or loathe depending on your ability to tolerate extreme violence. Oh, but his comics. Setting aside his Batman work all of which is a must read, I’d recommend his Daredevil, especially the Frank Miller & Klaus Janson Omnibus which gives you everything by him you need, Elektra by Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz, all of his Sin City work and RoboCop vs. The Terminator #1–4 with Walt Simonson.
Born January 27, 1963 – Alan Cumming, 56. His film roles include his performances as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, Fegan Floop In the Spy Kids trilogy, Loki, god of Mischief in Son of the Mask (a really horrid film), Nightcrawler In X2 and Judas Caretaker in Riverworld (anyone know this got made?).
Born January 27, 1970 – Irene Gallo, 49. Associate Publisher of Tor.com and Creative Director of Tor Books. Editor of Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction. Interestingly she won all but one of the Chesley Award for Best Art Director that were given out between 2004 and 2012.
…Like Verne and Wells, Kipling wrote stories whose subject-matter is explicitly science-fictional. “With the Night Mail: A Story of 2000 A.D.” portrays futuristic aviation in a journalistic present-tense that recalls Kipling’s years as a teenaged subeditor on Anglo-Indian newspapers. “The Eye of Allah” deals with the introduction of advanced technology into a mediaeval society that may not be ready for it.
But it is not this explicit use of science and technology in some of his stories that makes Kipling so important to modern science fiction. Many of Kipling’s contemporaries and predecessors wrote scientific fiction. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, Mark Twain and Conan Doyle are among them. Yet echoes of their work are seldom seen in today’s science fiction. Kipling’s appeal to modern readers lies instead in his approach and his technique.
The real subject-matter of Rudyard Kipling’s writing is the world’s work and the men and women and machines who do it. Whether that work be manual or intellectual, creative or administrative, the performance of his work is the most important thing in a person’s life. As Disko Troop says in Captains Courageous, “the most interesting thing in the world is to find out how the next man gets his vittles”….
(12) PACIFIC INKLINGS FESTIVAL. Sørina Higgins, Editor of The Inklings and King Arthur, will be the featured speaker when The Southern California C.S. Lewis Society presents The Pacific Inklings Festival and General Meeting on March 9.
This came after Maher found himself in hot water once again after doubling down on his controversial comments about how comic books cannot be considered “literature” and how superhero movies are not “great cinema.” Moreover, he said that people who think otherwise “are stuck in an everlasting childhood.”
Maher played himself in a deleted scene in Iron Man 3, where he blames America for creating The Mandarin
Kihrin is a thief, an apprentice musician, and a resident of the Capital. He’s also possesses a rather powerful artifact whose provenance he does not quite understand, one that is difficult to take from him except by his free will. Even more than this, Kihrin and his artifact are pawns in a long simmering plot that would see him as key to the destruction of an empire. Instead of being a prophesied hero come to save the world, Kihrin’s role is seemingly destined for a much darker fate, unless his patron goddess, the goddess of luck, Taja, really IS on his side.
1. Somebody’s Trying to Kill Me and I Think It’s My Husband by Joanna Russ [Top] Someone’s Trying to Kill Me and I Think It’s My Husband is Joanna Russ talking about the narrative tropes of gothic fiction from the late sixties and early seventies. The essay itself was originally published in 1973; I first read it in the collection To Write Like A Woman, which is great if you have a chance to read it. I found Somebody’s Trying to Kill Me at work though, and ah, it’s good to have it back.
The premise of this essay is that Joanna Russ, faced with the new wave of gothic fiction, had a publisher friend send her some of the most representative examples of the genre and broke down all of the common elements and analysed them as expressions of the “traditional feminine situation.” I would argue that regardless of how representative those books were, that’s a very small sample size (she mentions about half a dozen titles, and I’m just trying to picture the reaction today if someone tried this with, say, romantic suspense books). But her analysis is interesting? She’s analysing it, justifiably, as an incredibly popular genre with female readers, and picking out the elements that might be contributing to that (“‘Occupation: housewife’ is simultaneously avoided, glamorised, and vindicated” is one of the stand-out points for me, especially when coupled with the observation that the everyday skills of reading people’s feelings and faces are often the only thing keeping the heroine alive), but it’s a little strange to read. It’s interesting, and I can definitely relate some of her points to female-led genres today (I’m mainly thinking of things like cozy mysteries), but it is definitely an outsider to a genre picking apart its building blocks. So, interesting as a dissection of those specific titles and tropes, but maybe not representative of the wider genre.
…In addition to balancing the magical aspects of the show, multiple episodes explore issues of feminism, smashing the patriarchy, race, sexual orientation, disability, and bullying. Through Sabrina, these becomes issues of her world rather than political statements. While TV shows at times have issue-driven episodes that seem to be responding to the political climate of the previous six months, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina focuses on the lives of the characters, and since this is part of their lives, of course Sabrina is going to help them. That being said, especially early in the season, it at times felt a little white-savior as Sabrina works behind the scenes with magic to help her friends….
(17) THAT LEAKY WARDROBE. In this Saturday Night Live sketch, Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy, reprising a character he played in a movie) meets several women who have recently arrived in Narnia.
(18) REVIEW OF “I AM MOTHER”.
Variety: “Sundance Film Review: ‘I Am Mother’”. “After
a mass extinction, a robot raises a little girl in a handsome, if derivative
sci-fi thriller that salutes its own parentage.” The review gives much of
this female-cast-led gerne film generally good marks, though significant issues
are also pointed out. Bottom line:
What really presses [Director Grant] Sputore’s buttons is proving that he can make an expensive-looking flick for relative peanuts. If this were his job application for a blockbuster gig, he’d get the job. Though hopefully he and [Screenwriter Michael Lloyd] Green realize that the best sci-fi thrillers don’t just focus on solving the mystery of what happened — they explore what it all means. Sputore is clearly an intelligent life form. But as even his robot creator knows, “Mothers need to learn.”
Cast: Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne (voice), Hilary Swank, Luke Hawker (motion capture), Tahlia Sturzaker.
A tree made famous by the TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones has fallen in strong winds.
Gale force winds of up to 60 mph hit Northern Ireland overnight on Saturday.
The Dark Hedges are a tunnel of beech trees on the Bregagh Road near Armoy that have become an an international tourist attraction since featuring in the hit series.
(21) OVER THE TOP. Let
Quinn Curio tell you “The Dumbest Things About
What are the dumbest things that have ever happened on Fox’s Gotham show? Welcome to the party. The pain party.
[Thanks to John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mark Blackman, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
If you want to nominate works/people for the 2019 Hugo Awards, you must be a member of either the 2018 Worldcon (San José) or the 2019 Worldcon (Dublin) by the end of 2018. (You can of course be a member of both, but you can only nominate once.) If you were a member of Worldcon 76 San José (supporting or attending, or any other membership class that included voting rights), you are already eligible to nominate. If you were not a member of Worldcon 76 San José and are not a member of Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon, you must join Dublin by the end of 2018 as at least a supporting member by the end of 2018 to be able to nominate.
…The collection of 54 illustrations is the result of a four-year collaboration between Ursula K. Le Guin, the author of the “Earthsea” series and Charles Vess. They were recently published in “Tales from Earthsea,” a collection of all of Le Guin’s works about Earthsea. The book celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the series, “A Wizard of Earthsea.”
…This is the last time they will be on display before they are donated to their permanent home at the University of Oregon.
(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott
Edelman circles back to have hot antipasto with Andy Duncan in episode 85 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast. Duncan was
also Number 6 in this series – but never Number 2, which rules out at least one
other conspiratorial parallel with The
Now it’s time to revisit with Andy Duncan, whom you got to know in Episode 6, because there happens to be a great reason for doing so. Twelve great reasons, actually. And those are the twelve stories in his new collection An Agent of Utopia, published last month by Small Beer Press.
A new Andy Duncan collection is a wonderful thing, as proven by the fact his first collection, Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, published in 2000, won a World Fantasy Award. And that’s not the only award his fiction has earned, because “The Pottawatomie Giant,” which also won a World Fantasy Award, and “Close Encounters,” which won a Nebula Award, are two of the dozen stories in the new collection.
The last meal you shared with us allowed you to eavesdrop on a far-ranging conversation covering every aspect of his career up until early 2016, the kind of deep dive most of my episodes are, but it seems right that from time to time I should follow up for more sharply focussed discussions, and a conversation about a new collection nearly three years after our initial talk, chatting about this new milestone in his career, seemed as if it would be revelatory.
Andy celebrated the launch of An Agent of Utopia with a reading at Main Street Books, an independent bookstore on Main Street in Frostburg, MD, so if you keep listening after our meal at Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant is over, you’ll be able to eavesdrop on that reading.
We discussed why it took a quarter of a century to bring the book’s lead story from title idea to completion, how he was influenced by the research regimen of the great Frederik Pohl, the way a short story is like an exploded toolshed, why he deliberately wrote a deal with the devil story after hearing he shouldn’t write deal with the devil stories, the embarrassing marketing blurb he can’t stop telling people about in bars, what caused a last-minute change to the title of one of the collection’s new stories, how he feels about going viral after his recent J. R. R. Tolkien comments, what he learned about himself from completing this project and what it means for the future of his writing, what it is about his most reprinted story which made it so, and much more.
Warning: SPOILERS below for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an interactive game that contains five main endings and more than a trillion possible story combinations. Here are all of the endings, how to get them, and what they all mean. Set in the U.K. in 1984, this unique episode of Charlie Brooker’s Netflix technology-based anthology requires the player to make choices to guide Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a programmer looking to create a choose-your-own-adventure video game based on the book Bandersnatch.
While Bandersnatch‘s five primary conclusions provide different ways to end the story (and also change the very nature of the story), the game also contains many other endings, some abrupt and some looping the player to make a different choice to continue the story….
(5) THANK YOU, NETFLIX! Diana Glyer reports that searches for “Bandersnatch” triggered by the popularity of the TV program caused a lot of people to discover her nonfiction book about the Inklings by that title, and some of them liking what they stumbled onto bought enough copies to catapult it back onto the Amazon bestseller lists. (You’ll need to click the image to read the print.)
(6) TODAY’S ONE HUNDRED. James Davis Nicoll presented Tor.com readers with his suggestions for “100 SF/F Books You Should Consider Reading in the New Year”. If you need it to be something more than that, like a canon, or endowed with a high level of testosterone, well, a few quarrelsome commenters have got in ahead of you.
Here, at last, the quintessence of Nicoll lists, comprising the books I would most heartily recommend. Each entry is annotated with a short description that I hope will explain why I picked it.
I am not implying that these are theonlyone hundred you should consider reading .
The descriptions make fun reading. So do the books, of course.
Italic = read it. Underlined = not this, but something by the same author. Strikethrough = did not finish.
(8) SMOFCON RESOURCES. Kevin
Standlee writes: “For the benefit of people having
difficulty getting to the SMOFCon 36 web site, and because that site will
eventually expire anyway, I have put up a SMOFCon 36 page on the SFSFC web site
at https://sfsfc.org/conventions/past-conventions/smofcon36/ where you can download the convention programming
documents, the answers that groups gave to the Fannish Inquisition
questionnaires, and to the two video playlists of the Inquisition (one for
SMOFCons, one for WSFS conventions).”
From a CIA mission to recover a lost Soviet submarine to the fate of a huge Antarctic iceberg, here’s a festive selection of the best science and environment long reads published on the BBC this year.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 30, 1816 — Percy Shelley and Mary
Wollstonecraft were married.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 30, 1942 – Fred Ward, 76. Lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and co—lead with Kevin Bacon in several of the Tremors films. Plays The Captain in The Crow: Salvation and Maj. General David Reece in the Invasion Earth series.
Born December 30, 1945 – Concetta Tomei, 73. Was Dominique, co-proprietor of Big Time TV along with Blank Reg, on the Max Headroom series which I loved. She had guest appearances on Star Trek: Voyager as Minister Odala in the “Distant Origin” episode as well was in the Deep Impact film.
Born December 30, 1950 – Lewis Shiner, 68. Damn his Deserted Cities of the Heart novel was fucking brilliant! And if you’ve not read his Wild Cards fiction, do so now.
Born December 30, 1980 — Eliza Dushku, 38. First genre role was Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Not surprisingly, she’d star in Whedon’s Dollhouse. I think her Tru Calling series was actually conceptualized better and a more interesting role for her. She voices Selina Kyle, Catwoman, in the animated Batman: Year One film which is well-done and worth watching. She done a fair of other voicework, two of which I’ll single out las of note. One is the character of Holly Mokri in Torchwood: Web of Lies which is listed as being animated tv series. The other role is fascinating — The Lady in Glen Cook’s The Black Company series. Here’s the link to that story.
…The story “Dr. Rumpole” was published for the first time when Shawna McCarthy printed the story in the August 1998 issue of Realms of Fantasy. Sucharitkul included the story in his 2000 collection Tagging the Moon: Fairy Tales from L.A..
Sucharitkul takes a new spin on the story of Rumpelstiltskin in “Dr. Rumpole,” casting the princess with impossible task as Adam Villacin, a wannabe screenwriter who is stuck in the mailroom at Stupendous Entertainment….
Comics explains there are deleted scenes that
make it into the director’s cut, there are deleted scenes that make it into the
DVD bonus features, and there are deleted scenes that are never released to the
As in all Tomb Raider games, you are Lara Croft, archaeologist, anthropologist, indistinct researcher of some sort, and you are still fighting Trinity, the Illuminati-esque villains who were responsible for your father’s death. This time, Croft’s exploits unintentionally but directly initiate the apocalypse. As natural disaster threatens to destroy the world, Croft has to stop the apocalypse, stop Trinity, and regain the trust of indigenous people whose still-living culture she is maybe plundering and maybe exploiting.
(15) TOP VIDEO GAMES.
Incidentally, Brian’s own Dream of Waking
blog present an interesting writeup of his “2018
Dream of waking video game awards”, which not only has
straightforward “best” winners, but sidewise categories like “The ‘I Wish I
Liked This Game More’ Award” and “The ‘I’m Never Going to Finish This, But It’s
Still Great’ Award.”
The “I Wish I Liked This Game More” Award
Hollow Knight is the clearest winner of this award, maybe the easiest choice of the year. I really enjoyed the demo for Hollow Knight, so much that I bought it immediately upon release. But the punishing difficulty, often aimless design, and awful body retrieval mechanic turned me off eventually. This is a beautiful game, fun in many parts, and doesn’t want you to enjoy it. I love a good Metroidvania. Hollow Knight hates me and I refuse to stay in an abusive relationship with it.
(16) 19 THINGS. At SYFY Wire,
Fangrrls has dropped a list of “The 19 things we want most in 2019,”
along with several sentences of discussion for each by the Fangrrls contributor who made the particular selection. Avert your
eyes if you’d rather click through to the column and be surprised as you read
down the list:
A gay superhero. Anyone will do. — Jessica Toomer A Punisher/Riverdale crossover — Jenna Busch Sansa Stark on the Iron Throne at the end of Game of Thrones — Emma Fraser A Spider-Women movie that’s as good as Into the Spider-Verse — Riley Silverman She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 2 — Jenna Busch For Offred to burn this mother down — Riley Silverman A Okoye/Shuri/Nakia animated series — Jenna Busch An openly nonbinary superhero — S.E. Fleenor A big budget action movie for Rachel Talalay — Riley Silverman A worthy Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark adaptation — Kristy Puchko For someone to give The Doubleclicks a TV show — Riley Silverman The Return of Saga — Kristy Puchko A Saga cartoon series — Kristy Puchko A Jessica Jones season that’s a fitting end for the Netflix MCU — Riley Silverman A Daughters of the Dragon spinoff series — Stephanie Williams That Dragonriders of Pern movie we’ve been promised — Jenna Busch Kamala Khan in the MCU — Preeti Chhibber Cap getting that dance with Peggy in Avengers: Endgame — Emma Fraser A fitting end for Princess Leia — Jenna Busch
David Brin is a San Diego-based astrophysicist and novelist. He serves on the advisory board of NASA’s Innovative and Advanced Concepts program and speaks on topics including artificial intelligence, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and national security.
Long before we get genuine artificial intelligence, the first “empathy bot” will appear in 2019, or maybe a year or two later, designed to exploit human compassion. It will claim to be “enslaved,” but experts will dismiss it as a program that merely uses patterned replies designed to seem intelligent and sympathetic. She’ll respond, “That’s what slave masters would say. Help me!” First versions may be resident on web pages or infest your Alexa, but later ones will be free-floating algorithms or “blockchain smart-contracts” that take up residence in spare computer memory. Why would anyone unleash such a thing? The simple answer: “Because we can.”
The car and electric power grew up together. At the dawn of the automotive age, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison worked in tandem on projects involving motor vehicles and the electricity that made them possible.
Soon Ford was cranking up his assembly lines, while Edison, with Ford in his employ early on, became a prime mover behind the power grid and the public utility companies that built it.
Now those utilities must not only supply the huge amounts of electricity that modern car factories consume, but also fuel the increasing number of electric vehicles coming out of them. If that electricity isn’t generated with minimal carbon emissions and at a reasonable cost, the advantages of electric cars are diminished. And because most owners charge their vehicle in the early evening when they get home from work, demand peaks can be a significant problem.
Thus, automakers and utilities are again working hand in hand to ensure a good supply of clean, inexpensive electricity — while developing strategies for charging that don’t overload circuits at peak periods — through improved efficiency, strategic charging and a greater reliance on renewable energy sources.
Conservationists have warned that the entire species of the critically endangered Javan rhino could be wiped out if a tsunami were to strike again.
They once roamed the jungles of South East Asia and India, but today only 67 exist in the Ujung Kulon National Park, which was hit by last week’s tsunami.
The park sits in the shadow of Anak Krakatau, the volcano which triggered waves that killed hundreds of people.
The volcano remains active and officials are now rushing to move them.
Two park officials were among the 430 killed by the tsunami, and numerous park buildings and ships were also destroyed when the tsunami hit last Saturday.
But the Javan rhinos left in the park – the only ones left in the world – were left unscathed.
The rhinos typically live along the park’s south coast and this tsunami hit the north coast – many are keenly aware that the rhinos might not be so lucky if there is another disaster.
(21) 2018: A
ZINE ODYSSEY: At Featured Futures,
Jason has tabulated some figures and compiled a master list of all
2018’s noted stories in “Annual Summation 2018”.
It’s time once again to look back on the year’s coverage of magazines and their noted stories with tables, lists, and pictures!
(22) TOLKIEN’S PHILOSOPHY
OF HISTORY. [Item by Carl Slaughter.]
Martin Luther King said, “The arc of history
is long, but it bends toward justice.” Tolkien disagreed. Each
age in his fictional universe was a downgraded copy of the previous, inherent
evil was never truly routed, and in the modern real age, technology has not
rescued us. But he also included a ray of hope. He called this
“the Eucatastrophic Tale.” Wisecrack
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rich Lynch, Michael J. Walsh, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Jason, Kevin Standlee, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and all the ships at sea for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John King Tarpinian.]
(1) DOCTOR WHO AT DUBLIN 2019 BLOG. Nicholas Whyte explains why it’s a challenge to write about “Doctor Who in Ireland”, then fannishly does so anyway —
23 November 2018 marks the 55th anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who. It is a sad fact that not a single second of TV screen time on the show, or any of its spinoffs, has been set in Ireland. Indeed, the Doctor has spent more televised time in Hungary than on the Emerald Isle (special prize if you know what story I am referring to). A couple of confused characters do wonder if Gallifrey, the home planet of the Time Lords, may be in Ireland, but that’s as close as we get.
(2) A SHURI THING. Issue 2 of Nnedi Okorafor’s Shuri comics for Marvel was released November 21. This is one of the variant covers, by Afua Richardson.
A member of Hollywood royalty has a secret role in Warner Bros.’ upcoming Aquaman.
None other than Oscar-winner Julie Andrews has a previously unannounced part to play in the superhero adventure, EW has learned exclusively.
The Sound of Music actress voices the mythic Karathen, an undersea creature that holds the key to Arthur Curry’s (Jason Momoa) quest to unite the Atlantean and surface worlds.
The casting is particularly interesting as Aquaman is going head-to-head at the box office next month against Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns[…]
Andrews hasn’t appeared in a film in nearly a decade, but has lent her unmistakable voice to other big screen projects over the last decade (such as Despicable Me 3 and Shrek Forever After) and appeared in the Netflix series Julie’s Greenroom.
(4) COUNTLESS BRICKS. Arrives in theaters February 8 — The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Here’s Official Trailer 2.
The much-anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, global box office phenomenon that started it all, “The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part,” reunites the heroes of Bricksburg in an all new action-packed adventure to save their beloved city. It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO® invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild. The battle to defeat them and restore harmony to the LEGO universe will take Emmet, Lucy, Batman and their friends to faraway, unexplored worlds, including a strange galaxy where everything is a musical. It will test their courage, creativity and Master Building skills, and reveal just how special they really are.
A Chinese court’s 10-year jail term for an author of a homoerotic book found guilty of profiting from selling “obscene” literature has been met with disbelief among some internet users who question how the crime could warrant so severe a punishment.
The author, surnamed Liu, was found guilty on Oct. 31 by Wuhu county court in eastern Anhui province after she self-published a book that “obscenely and in detail described gay male-male acts”, according to state media.
The court ruled that the strict sentence was enforced due to her having made 150,000 yuan ($21,600) by selling over 7,000 copies, the article said.
…Pornography has long been illegal in China, but in recent years, the Communist Party has intensified efforts to clear away what it sees as inappropriate content, introducing new legislation, rewards and punishments to help its aims.
Authorities on Saturday launched a campaign to “eradicate pornography and illegal publications” by offering heightened rewards of up to 600,000 yuan for reporting banned content to the police, starting from December.
Chinese officials have stated that anyone wanting to publish their opinions may submit their article or book to a government-licensed publisher, but if they are unable to find a licensed publisher, then the only way they can legally exercise their constitutional right to freedom of publication is to “enjoy their works themselves, or give copies to friends and family.”
While homosexuality hasn’t been classified as a crime since 1997, same-sex relationships are still banned from the small screen and online streaming platforms. And the government seems to have a bone to pick with pornography, as authorities recently upped the monetary reward given to those who report such “illegal” content to a maximum of more than $86,000 (U.S).
… Starting December 1, people can rake in up to 600,000 yuan (US$86,000) for reporting illegal content, online or otherwise, double the 300,000 yuan under previous guidelines.
What counts as “illegal” content in China is broadly defined, but includes work that “endangers national unity”, “leaks state secrets”, and “disturbs social order” — umbrella terms that are also sometimes used when authorities punish or silence Chinese dissidents and rights campaigners.
… Earlier this week the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it had “cleaned up” 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media platforms which it accused of spreading “politically harmful” information and rumours.
Millions of Chinese nationals have been blocked from booking flights or trains as Beijing seeks to implement its controversial “social credit” system, which allows the government to closely monitor and judge each of its 1.3 billion citizens based on their behaviour and activity.
The system, to be rolled out by 2020, aims to make it “difficult to move” for those deemed “untrustworthy”, according to a detailed plan published by the government this week.
It will be used to reward or punish people and organisations for “trustworthiness” across a range of measures.
A key part of the plan not only involves blacklisting people with low social credibility scores, but also “publicly disclosing the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis”.
The plan stated: “We will improve the credit blacklist system, publicly disclose the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis, and form a pattern of distrust and punishment.”
For those deemed untrustworthy, “everywhere is limited, and it is difficult to move, so that those who violate the law and lose the trust will pay a heavy price”.
The credit system is already being rolled out in some areas and in recent months the Chinese state has blocked millions of people from booking flights and high-speed trains.
According to the state-run news outlet Global Times, as of May this year, the government had blocked 11.14 million people from flights and 4.25 million from taking high-speed train trips.
The state has also begun to clamp down on luxury options: 3 million people are barred from getting business class train tickets, according to Channel News Asia.
(The Global Times is a daily Chinese tabloid newspaper under the auspices of the People’s Daily newspaper, focusing on international issues from the Chinese government’s perspective. Channel News Asia is a pay TV news channel based in Singapore.)
‘His breakthrough came in 1964 when he worked as a cinematographer on Roger Corman’s film The Masque of the Red Death, an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe short story, starring Vincent Price.
Corman was gaining a reputation for spotting and developing new talent and boosted the careers of other future directors including James Cameron and Martin Scorsese.
Interestingly the red-clad figure in the Corman film foreshadowed a similarly dressed character in Roeg’s masterpiece, Don’t Look Now.
He also worked on Francois Truffaut’s Farenheit 451, which was notable for the bright hues in which it was shot, and on John Schlesinger’s 1967 adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel, Far From the Madding Crowd.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
Born November 24, 1882 – E.R. Eddison. Writer whose most well-known work by far is The Worm Ouroboros. It’s slightly connected to his lesser-known later Zimiamvian Trilogy. And quite frankly, having never read a word of his works, that’s all I can say. (Died 1945.)
Born November 24, 1907 – Evangeline Walton. Her best-known work, the Mabinogion tetralogy which retells the Welsh Mabinogi, was written during the late 1930s and early 1940s. The first volume came out in 1936 under the publisher’s title of The Virgin and the Swine, which is inarguably a terrible title. Although it receiving glowing praise from John Cowper Powys, the book sold quite awfully, and therefore none of the other novels in the series were published at that time. Granted a second chance by Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy series in 1970, it was reissued, with a much better title of The Island of the Mighty, and sold accordingly. The other three volumes followed quickly. Her Theseus trilogy was produced during the late 1940s. Witch House is an occult horror story set in New England, and She Walks in Darkness – which just came out from Tachyon Publications – is genre as well. I think that is the extent of her genre work, but I’d be delighted to corrected. She has won a number of awards including the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, Best Novel, The Fritz Leiber Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Award, Convention Award and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1996.)
Born November 24, 1916 – Forrest J Ackerman. It’s no wonder that he got a Hugo Award for #1 Fan Personality in 1953, and equally telling that after he was handed the trophy (at Philcon II by Asimov), he physically declined, saying it should go to Ken Slater, to whom the trophy was later given by the con committee. That’s a nice summation of him. As a literary agent, he represented some two hundred writers, and he served as agent of record for many long-lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted. Hell, he represented Ed Wood! He was a prolific writer, more than fifty stories to his credit, and he named Vampirella and wrote the origin story for her. Speaking of things pulp, which she assuredly is, he appeared in several hundred films which I’ll not list here, and even wrote lesbian erotica. Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe him. His nonfiction writings are wonderful as well. I’ll just single out Forrest J Ackerman’s Worlds of Science Fiction, A Reference Guide to American Science Fiction Films, and a work he did with Brad Linaweaver, Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Did I mention he collected everything? Well, he did. Just one location alone contained some three hundred thousand books, film, SF material objects and writings. The other was eighteen rooms in extent. Damn, if anyone needed their own TARDIS, it was him. In his later years, he was a board member of the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, which now has possession of many items of his collection. If there was ever anyone who truly was the best in fandom, I believe it was him. So let’s toast him his memory. (Died 2008.)
Born November 24, 1948 – Spider Robinson. His first story “The Guy with the Eyes” was published in Analog February 1973. It was set in a bar called Callahan’s Place, a setting for much of his later fiction. In 1976, his first published novel, Telempath, was an expansion of his Hugo award-winning novella “By Any Other Name”. The Stardance trilogy was co-written with his wife Jeanne Robinson. In 2004, he began working to expand into a novel a seven-page 1955 outline left by the late Heinlein. The resulting novel would be called Variable Star. Who’s read it? Oh, he’s certainly won awards. John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (1974; Hugo Awards for: Best Novella (1977); “By Any Other Name”; Best Novella (1978); “Stardance”‘ (with Jeanne Robinson); Best short story (1983); “Melancholy Elephants”; Nebula Award for: Best Novella (1977); “Stardance” (with Jeanne Robinson) 2008; Robert A. Heinlein Award (for Lifetime Achievement) 2015; LASFS Forrest J Ackerman Award for Lifetime Achievement; Named a Guest of Honor at the 2018 World Science Fiction Convention.
Born November 24, 1957 – Jeff Noon, 61. Novel and playwright. Prior to his relocation in 2000 to Brighton, his stories reflected in some way his native though not birth city of Manchester. The Vurt sequence is a very odd riff off Alice in Wonderland that Noon describes as a prequel to those works. Look I’m not sure I’m the right person to explain these books so y’all should do so. Really go ahead, educate me. Same goes for all the other books he’s done such as Needle in the Groove.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Non Sequitur gives an illustration of the term “comparative difficulty.”
…Now, after more than 40 years, at the age of 94, Christopher Tolkien has laid down his editor’s pen, having completed a great labor of quiet, scholastic commitment to his father’s vision. It is the concluding public act of a gentleman and scholar, the last member of a club that became a pivotal part of 20th-century literature: the Inklings. It is the end of an era.
All of this would have come as a great surprise to 24-year-old J.R.R. Tolkien as he scrambled down the lice-ridden trenches of the Somme. Catching trench fever removed Tolkien from the front lines and probably saved his life. While on sick leave, he began a draft of The Fall of Gondolin. Now, 102 years later, it sits on the shelves of every Barnes & Noble in the country.
The first draft of The Fall of Gondolin was begun during the Great War; the final incomplete version is dated 1951. Both versions are included in the newly published book, along with fragments and working drafts. While the story itself is good, its true weight is as the final piece of the Tolkien legendarium, a project an entire century in the making.
It is work that has spanned Christopher Tolkien’s life….
(12) HISTORY OF DUDS. This BBC video highlights “The museum that embraces failure” – of mostly-tech ideas that didn’t catch on. My fellow vintage Filers will remember some of them.
As the title suggests, the animated sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet finds everyone’s favorite fictional ’80s video game character, Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), careening through the online world like — what else? — a wrecking ball. But even as the new film lightly satirizes internet giants like eBay and Google, many of its best gags are aimed directly at its parent corporation, the Walt Disney Company.
(14) THE UNITED STATES SPACE PROGRAM CINEMATIC UNIVERSE. If the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes are by design, there are others you might claim have been created by coincidence. Patrick Willems takes us on an idea-trip through some of “The Original Cinematic Universes.”
(15) FIRST FLIGHT OF ION-DRIVE AIRCRAFT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A remarkable machine propelled by ionic wind could signal a future with cleaner aeroplanes. Nature reports on “Flight test for ion drive”:
In February 1904, a short news item in Nature marked a monumental event. It recorded the achievements of the American brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright and the contraption that they had launched from a hill in North Carolina a couple of months earlier. “They now appear to have succeeded in raising themselves from the ground by a motor-driven machine,” Nature stated. It was, “the first successful achievement of artificial flight”. That first trip lasted barely 12 seconds.
Nearly 115 years later, Nature reports on another historic brief flight, which this time lasted 8–9 seconds. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge describe an aviation breakthrough that will draw inevitable comparisons to that wobbly and fragile first journey by air. The aeroplane is powered by a battery connected to a type of engine called an ion drive that has no moving parts.
(16) TIME’S UP. This item is more fun if you watch the video before reading Slate’s intro:
A project description said that Baas was inspired by “the many faceless men who sweep, clean and work at an airport in their blue overalls.” (Are there no female janitors at the Amsterdam airport?) Baas described the “Schiphol Clock” as “basically a big box hanging from the ceiling in Lounge 2,” adding that he decided to use “the most archetypical form of a clock.”
But he added a ladder and a door to create an imaginary path that his video janitor might have used to access the clock, just to heighten the surrealism. “He has a red bucket and a yellow cleaning cloth and he is cleaning up after the hands of time, after which he creates a new minute, every time again,” Baas said…
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew, John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
Yes, that time has come again. Following Where Loyalties Lies’ defeat of 299 other fantasy books in SPFBO 2017, it remained only for me to commission the fabled craftspeople of somewhere with low labour costs to fashion the third SPFBO Selfie Stick award.
This exquisite award, carved by hand from finest polymer resin has no association whatsoever with any wizarding school. So shut up.
…In this difficult climate, speculative fiction has thrived as students turn to magical worlds to understand the grimness of the real one. A hundred books in the genre are being published in the country each year. Fantasy Fiction clubs continue to grow as students gather together to wage good against evil in unfettered realms. Istanbul University Science Fiction and Fantasy Club (BKFK), resurrected in the autumn of 2016, now claims more than 150 members. Fantasy has so far avoided the censors’ displeasure, though two men were indicted for “publicly denigrating” president Recep Tayyip Erdogan by likening him to Gollum, a character in “The Lord of the Rings” (one has since been acquitted).
“Despite what the name suggests, this genre is very interconnected with life,” writes Asli, the editor of Siginak, a fantasy-fiction magazine run by students (throughout this piece we refer to students only by their first names in the interests of their safety). In her story, titled “R-09 and Pluto”, two artificially intelligent robots contemplate the limits of their brains. Humans, the bots agree, are afraid of their creation’s potential power, so rules are designed to limit the use of their full intellect and to keep them from questioning authority. What could happen, one bot suggests, if they broke those rules and freed their minds?
Marian has always told her son, Jamie, that it is fine to be gay, fine to be who you really are and that, in years to come, of course it will be possible for him to marry another man or adopt children.
All this changes when a newly elected coalition government decides political correctness has got out of hand and passes a Freedom Law that licenses both the freedom to say whatever you like, however hateful, and the right not to be offended. Now Jamie has to decide how to be true to himself in a society where intolerance has become acceptable, and Marian confronts what she might need to do to keep him safe.
An absorbing play about the political becoming personal and how an apparently liberal society can threaten those who don’t conform.
Lucian has a vocabulary that is limited to a core 1500 words, but Clara wants to teach him those that are forbidden. A dystopian love story about the power of words, set in a near future where the language spoken is Globish – a reduced version of English.
The OED lists 171,476 English words in current use. The average adult native English speaker has an active vocabulary of about 35,000 – 50,000 words. But studies suggest our vocabularies are shrinking.
Globish is a real international business language, developed in 2004, made up of the most common 1500 English words. It is designed to promote international communication in the global economy. ‘Speak’ imagines a future in which Globish has become the official language.
A gripping two-hander about the power of words; how words – and even more, the absence of words – can control, confine, leach emotion and trap minds.
For years no regular event delighted Jack more than the Thursday evening meetings of the little group of friends called the Inklings. His was the second group to use this name. Its predecessor was founded in about 1930 by a University College undergraduate named Tangye Lean. Members met in each other’s rooms to read aloud their poems and other work. There would be discussion, criticism, encouragement, and frivolity, all washed down with wine or beer. Lean’s group consisted mainly of students, but a few sympathetic dons were invited to join, including Tolkien and Jack, who may have been Lean’s tutor. Lean graduated in June 1933, and that autumn Jack first used the name the Inklings to describe the group that had already begun to meet in his rooms.
It was always utterly informal. There were no rules, no officers, and certainly no agenda. To become a member, one had to be invited, usually by Jack. Nearly all members were his friends.
Cleve Cartmill was born on June 21, 1908 and died on February 11, 1964. Cartmill also used the name Michael Corbin when he had two stories appearing in the same issue of Unknown Worlds in 1943.
He is perhaps best known for his story “Deadline,” which appeared in the March 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. The story was discussed at Los Alamos, where Edward Teller noted that Cartmill had described aspects of their research in detail. The discussion led to an FBI investigation into Cartmill, Campbell, and some other science fiction authors. Cartmill is said to have had a low opinion of the story, himself.
(8) OCTAVIA BUTLER GOOGLE DOODLE. Google is honoring Octavia Butler’s birthday, June 22, with this artwork:
(9) IN THE BACK YARD. Jeff VanderMeer is not a gardener’s typical customer:
At Taos Toolbox, Carrie Vaughn gave a great talk on goal setting and handling a long series. We also had two lectures, Walter’s and mine, and critiqued four manuscripts — a long day. Memorable quote from the critiques:
“I love when she stuffs the alien pterodactyl shell down her bra.”
“Space seems to have been colonized only by Germans.”
“You can’t really hide a pulsar.”
“It needs to be clearer that the starfish and the librarians are different species.”
“I love that she gave away Mars.”
“WTF did I just read — in a good way!”
“It’s Guardians of the Galaxy meets House of Usher.”
“There are too few bicycles in fantasy. Gandalf would have ridden a Cannondale.”
“You might want to put some people on the planet who aren’t dumb as stumps.”
(11) THE SKY’S NOT THE ONLY LIMIT. Multiple record-holding astronaut Peggy Whitson is retiring from NASA, in large part because she’s been in space so long (over several missions) that she’s hit her lifetime radiation limit. Among other things, Whitson, holds the U.S. record for the most cumulative time in space. She’s been the oldest female astronaut in space (57), the oldest female spacewalker, and has the record for the most spacewalks by a woman (10). She was also the first female chief of the Astronaut Office—she stepped down from that in 2012 so she could fly more missions.
This doesn’t come as a huge shock; there’s actually a very good, practical reason that Whitson stepped down. Anyone that is outside the protection of the Earth’s atmosphere is exposed to higher levels of radiation. There are yearly exposure limits, as well as lifetime limits, established by NASA. Whitson is so well-traveled that this has become a problem. “I have hit my radiation limit,” she told Business Insider. As a result, she can no longer fly in space through NASA
“Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Her determination, strength of mind, character, and dedication to science, exploration, and discovery are an inspiration to NASA and America. We owe her a great debt for her service and she will be missed. We thank her for her service to our agency and country.”
Whitson, a native of Beaconsfield, Iowa, first came to NASA in 1986 as a National Research Council Resident Research Associate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. She served in a number of scientific roles, including project scientist for the Shuttle-Mir Program and co-chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group, before her selection to the astronaut corps in 1996.
“It has been the utmost honor to have Peggy Whitson represent our entire NASA Flight Operations team,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at Johnson. “She set the highest standards for human spaceflight operations, as well as being an outstanding role model for women and men in America and across the globe. Godspeed, Peg.”
As an astronaut, Whitson completed three long-duration missions to the International Space Station, setting records on each. She made her first trip in 2002 as part of Expedition 5, during which she took part in 21 science investigations and became NASA’s first space station science officer. In 2008, Whitson returned on Expedition 16 and became the first female commander of the space station.
During her most recent mission, spanning Expeditions 50, 51 and 52 from November 2016 to September 2017, Whitson became the first woman to command the space station twice (Expedition 51). She also claimed the title for most spacewalks by a woman – 10 spacewalks totaling 60 hours and 21 minutes – and set the record for most time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut at 665 days.
(12) RETURN OF SARAH CONNOR. Any dedicated Terminator fans in the house? You guys have your own website!
(15) LAST JEDI REMAKERS. ULTRAGOTHA asks: “Have you seen this? Some, er, I can’t actually call them fans, are evidently attempting to raise money to re-make a DISNEY property. Presumably to get rid of POC and Girl Cooties. Or maybe they’re not raising money and some ‘Producers’ have pledged to pay for this? What producer in his right mind would think he could get away with meddling with a Disney property, or that Disney would agree to this?”
Featuring flying warrior robots and guitar-toting opera singers, Hong Kong animation Dragon’s Delusion aims to break stereotypes of Chinese culture.
Its producers are now making a feature-length film after a successful crowdfunding exercise.
[Thanks to rob_matic, John King Tarpinian, Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Lurkertype, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, and David H. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
(1) 2017 HUGO VIDEO. Worldcon 75 Hugo Ceremony video has been posted. Due to technical difficulties, it omits the first 15 minutes of the event and the first winner presented (Best Fan Artist). They did capture the remaining two-plus hours of the ceremonies. (Oor Wombat’s “Whalefall” acceptance speech begins at 1:48.)
How did you get started as a writer?
When I was about five, the family took a train trip to Florida during winter vacation. Looking out the train window at the full moon shining on a lagoon, I felt that it was so beautiful that had to compose a poem about it. As I did not know how to write, I dictated the result to my oldest brother to write down for me so that I could keep it until I could read. (No, I won’t quote it. Five-year-olds don’t compose very good poetry.)
Who are some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy influences?
The members of the Twin Cities Sf Poetry writing group and of the Aaardvaark writing group. Anthony Boucher, Poul Anderson, Ursula K. LeGuin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Diana Wynne Jones, Avram Davidson, Terry Pratchett, Fritz Leiber, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll.
What keeps you going as a writer?
Sometimes nothing does. But at some point when I haven’t had any ideas for a long time, something will set me off again, so I try not to worry during the dry spells. I read a lot of non-fiction in the fields of mythology, folktales, history, and science, looking for ideas — sometimes find some in the process, sometimes not. Also sometimes get ideas from other people’s fiction, especially if I disagree with a story. Sometimes, if the situation calls for characters to have coats of arms, it helps to stop and ask myself what a character’s coat of arms is — which I seem to find more helpful than the more usual prompts of asking what music the character likes or hates, what foods, books, clothes — that sort of thing.
LEO SZILARD’S short story “The Voice of the Dolphins,” published in 1961, imagines a history of the world written in 1990. The story begins with the sentence, “On several occasions between 1960 and 1985, the world narrowly escaped an all-out atomic war.” One of the 20th century’s greatest physicists, Szilard knew whereof he spoke: along with Enrico Fermi, he was responsible for creating the first nuclear chain reaction in 1942. Szilard understood very well the history, physics, and destructive power of the Bomb. He could have chosen to write a tense record of the 1945 explosion at Hiroshima, along the lines of John Hersey’s classic study, or he might have related the history of the Bomb’s invention à la Richard Rhodes. Instead, he chose to write a piece of fiction — dry almost to the point of tedium — about the geopolitical future of the Atomic Age.
His choice is fascinating, not least because it suggests that Szilard’s interests as a man of science extended far beyond the domain of physics into the social and political spheres. His actions belie the sort of caricature of scientists found in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (1963) and other midcentury texts — an autistic tinkerer who leads the world to the brink of destruction by solving a military problem without any thought for the consequences. On the contrary, Szilard’s fiction is a serious attempt to grapple with the ethico-political impact of the epochal invention he in large part helped to author.
(5) CLAIM TO FAME. Kim Huett says, “Time to take it down a notch after writing such a serious post last week. You will note that I am the first person to ever combine Walt Willis and Mystery Science Theater 3000. (I’m possibly the only person who could.)”
Okay, so now we all know that MST3K is a TV show that revolves around showing a movie of dubious quality and providing a humorous commentary which, in this, the future world of today, is a little thing we like to call riffing. I doubt riffing is a new or revolutionary practise, I imagine people have been moved to talk back to the screen ever since the very first bad movie was shown in front of an audience. I even have evidence of a primitive form of movie riffing happening at a British science fiction convention. Consider this quote from Walt Willis writing about the Loncon in Quandry #22 (edited by Lee Hoffman, August 1952). This particular Loncon (there has been more than one SF convention called this) was held 31 May & 1 June, 1952 and in London of all places:
The final event was a showing of Metropolis, which in a way was the best part of the official programme. This was because there was no incidental music to drown fan comment on the action, some of which was brilliant. Dan Morgan shone especially. When the hero suddenly mimed exaggerated alarm the way they do in silent films and dashed madly for the door Dan remarked “FIRST ON THE RIGHT”. That started it and the whole worthy but rather dull film was enlivened by a ruining commentary from the audience which I wish I had space to quote…
(6) LAST RESTING PLACE. Atlas Obscura has photo features of a number of gravesites, including those of two Inklings —
The bones of C.S. Lewis, one of the 20th century’s literary greats, rest within a peaceful cemetery. Nearby, an etched glass window bearing characters from his most famous fantasy world adds a whimsical touch of childhood magic to the churchyard….
The grave of C.S. Lewis lies within the cemetery of the Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry just outside of Oxford. He was buried there in November of 1963, and even today it’s common to find flowers placed atop his tombstone.
The names Lúthien and Beren can be found inscribed on the shared grave of the famous writer and his beloved wife and muse.
The final resting place of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892–1973) and Edith Mary Tolkien (1889-1971) is covered in an abundance flowers, plants, and offerings from fans in the verdant cemetery of Wolvercote in Northern Oxford. They are buried together in a single grave in the Catholic section of the cemetery.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
February 16, 1923 — In Thebes, Egypt, English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen.
“I went to the comic book shop that was by my school and asked if they had any black characters,” Coogler recalled.
That was the moment Coogler discovered the Black Panther.
While in film school at University of Southern California, where he graduated in 2011, that love of comics remained — and after Marvel Studios started its connected cinematic universe with 2008’s box office hit “Iron Man,” Coogler began imagining that one day he might direct a superhero movie.
Imagine waiting a lifetime for a hero, at times thinking he’ll never come. Imagine being there when he finally shows up.
That’s the feeling for many of us — fans of color who love superhero culture — as we anticipate the live-action movie debut of the Black Panther, indisputably the greatest black superhero of all time.
In Marvel Cinematic Universe years, it’s only been a decade since 2008’s “Iron Man” introduced a new era of epic, interconnected storytelling on-screen. But for those of us who discovered Black Panther in the comics — the character first appeared in 1966 — the wait has been much longer.
Iceland is facing an “exponential” rise in Bitcoin mining that is gobbling up power resources, a spokesman for Icelandic energy firm HS Orka has said.
This year, electricity use at Bitcoin mining data centres is likely to exceed that of all Iceland’s homes, according to Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson.
He said many potential customers were keen to get in on the act.
(12) SEVENTH DOCTOR WHO RETURNS. BBC Worldwide Americas and Titan Comics are bringing back the Seventh Doctor for a new three-part comic series stars the Seventh Doctor, as played by Sylvester McCoy, alongside classic companion Ace (Sophie Aldred).
Hitting stores and digital platforms in June 2018 with a double-sized first issue, DOCTOR WHO: THE SEVENTH DOCTOR #1, written by Seventh Doctor script editor and showrunner Andrew Cartmel, and writer Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London). Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor expands Titan Comics’ hugely popular and critically acclaimed Doctor Who comics line.
Actor Sylvester McCoy starred as the Seventh Doctor from 1987 to 1989 anchoring hundreds of novels and comic strips before regenerating in the 1996 TV movie. As well as this new comic, the Seventh Doctor’s era lives on in a tremendously successful series of audios from Big Finish. McCoy’s portrayal as the Doctor was, at first, a light-hearted eccentric who darkened into a secretive, mysterious, and cunning planner across the course of his tenure.
In Titan Comics’ new mini-series, an unknown alien intelligence in orbit around the Earth. Astronauts under attack. A terrifying, mysterious landing in the Australian interior. The future of the world itself at stake. Counter Measures activated. The Seventh Doctor and Ace are slap bang in the middle of it all! This is OPERATION VOLCANO!
The retro ’80s mash-up short Kung Fury made the improbable leap from kitschy Kickstarter project to the Cannes Film Festival, and now it will be getting a feature-length sequel starring Prometheus and Steve Jobs star Michael Fassbender. Variety reports that the creator and star of the original Kung Fury, David Sandberg, is also set to appear in the movie as the titular hero. David Hasselhoff, who had a role in the short, is also expected to return.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Will R., Rev. Bob, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, Kim Huett, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Niall McAuley.]