Devi joined Macmillan in 2016 as Associate Publisher, Tor/Forge Books. She quickly made an impact. From her approach to author care and development of the editorial team, to the efficiencies and best practices that she helped build into TDA editorial processes, Devi has made TDA better. She was promoted to Publisher, VP, Tor/Forge Books in 2018, and assumed responsibility for the Tor Teen and Starscape imprints in 2020.
Yaged added, “Devi impressed me the moment we met. She is incisive, passionate, and decisive — perfect qualities to lead TDA into the future and sustain its status as the preeminent science fiction and fantasy publisher.”
Newly reporting to Devi will be Irene Gallo, VP, Publisher, Tordotcom Publishing and Tor.com; Linda Quinton, VP, Publisher, Forge Books; Lucille Rettino, VP, Associate Publisher, Director of Marketing & Publicity; Patrick Nielsen Hayden, VP, Editor in Chief; Peter Lutjen, Director, Art TDA; and Molly McGhee Assistant, Editorial.
(1) GETTING PAID. On Twitter today, under the #PublishingPaidMe hashtag, writers disclosed the amounts of their book advances in order to generate data that will show if there are systematic biases against writers of color and other marginalized groups.
N. K. Jemisin responded — complete thread here. Comments include:
Jemisin also took questions:
Alyssa Cole, whose comments on RWA have been quoted here before, said it this way:
Martha Wells was one of several other sff authors who participated. Her tweets, which weren’t threaded, are here, here and here.
John Scalzi gave figures and analyzed the context in which they were paid for a post at Whatever.
Irene Gallo, Associate Publisher of Tor.com and Creative Director of Tor Books, linked the discussion to artists, as well.
…As an organization that just went through a massive crisis for many of the same reasons that underscore these protests for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many more —injustice, racism, and unfairness—we acknowledge that we have turned aside from confronting difficult truths for far too long. That our authors from marginalized communities, especially our Black authors, have been treated as somehow less deserving of a seat at the table of publishing. We must admit and learn from this shameful past, while standing up for our goal and commitment to make the future better. We stand together in the fight against systemic racism….
RWA is taking the following steps in addition to our continuing work on diversity issues and continuing efforts to make our organization a safe place for Black writers:
We invite all Black authors in RWA to attend our first online conference, to be held August 28-30, at no charge. This admission will include the recordings of the conference
We will make 100 scholarships to our online conference available to non-member Black writers
We are making it a priority to find new resources to add to our Diversity and Inclusion Resources page on our website
We will direct our Academic Grants Committee to seek out Black academics studying romance to consider for RWA grants
This is a time when so many of us are terrified, alone, and feeling helpless. We offer the following links, for those who wish to learn more or find a way to contribute.
(4) RECOVERING. David Dyer-Bennett’s photo gallery, “Signs Over Windows”, documents the messages and art on the boarding over vandalized windows in downtown Minneapolis. Also includes images of the scorched bits of books in the rubble around Uncle Hugo’s.
In the aftermath of the Minneapolis Police killing George Floyd, Minneapolis has experienced much distress. We’re being forced to confront issues we’ve let slide for too long (or that our work has not usefully improved). There is a huge amount of anger of course, both immediate and accumulated over decades and centuries. There is despair. There are even some tendrils of hope.
I’m not a suitable person to deal with the big issues here. I’ll keep listening, and I’ll keep voting and pressuring my representatives to do what seems right, but I’m not a leader in any of this.
But the visual changes to the city around me have been striking. In some areas, most businesses have put plywood (or OSB) over all their windows and other glass. That by itself is a big change, but not visually very interesting. However, much of the plywood has been painted with slogans and war cries, straight-forwardly or artistically, or even graphic art. Both the text, and the appearance, have been catching my attention, so I started photographing these decorated sheets of plywood….
… Wang: If you were a different type of writer, I might ask you how you conceive of characters and build plot. But since you talk about engineering as a language, it would make more sense for me to ask how you conceive of technologies. How do they come about, how do you then refine them, and finally, how do you incorporate them into the story?
Liu: I love talking about this stuff. My other former careers consisted of being a litigation consultant and a corporate lawyer, so I did a lot of research into the history of patents and the history of technology. That turns out to be a great way to find inspiration for fictional machines. If you go into patent databases, you’ll see tons and tons of interesting inventions that never went anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that, in an alternate universe, they couldn’t have become successful and become the progenitor of new lineages of machines.
I also get a lot of inspiration from reading about archaeological discoveries of ancient machinery. The Chinese had invented these amazing compound looms that could be programmed to create complex textile patterns, and we didn’t know how they worked because they didn’t survive. But the latest archaeological discoveries actually found some of these looms, or models of them made out of ceramic as grave goods, so archaeologists have been able to recreate them and figure them out. They were amazing, like mechanical computers that could be programmed to weave specific patterns. Similarly, archaeologists realized that Heron of Alexandria, a great Greek inventor of antiquity, had devised all sorts of machines for temple magic as part of religious rituals. That turned out to anticipate many of our modern ideas about cybernetics and autonomous control.
These lines of technology didn’t go very far, but in the fictional world I was creating, I could take it as far as I wanted to. …
(6) HIS NEXT RODEO. Congratulations to Ziv Wities (Standback) for making the grade at Podcastle.
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
June 7, 1997 — Perversions of Science premiered on HBO. It was a spin-off of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt. Its episodes were based off of work from EC Comics’s Incredible Science Fiction, Weird Fantasy and Weird Science titles. It would last but for one season of ten episodes. Writers adapting those stories included David S. Goyer (the Blade trilogy screenplays), David Schow (The Crow with John Shirley) and Andrew Kevin Walker (Sleepy Hollow screenplay).
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 7, 1844 – Robert Milne. Rediscovered by Sam Moskowitz, who helped collect RM’s stories for Into the Sun. Eleven there; fifty more not yet reprinted, e.g. “The Great Electric Diaphragm”, “A Dip into the Doings of the Four-Dimensional World”, “What the Great Instrument in the Lick Observatory Observed”. Even I found the Into the Sun stories and four more here. (Died 1899) [JH]
Born June 7, 1915 — Graham J. Ingels. Illustrator best remembered for his work in EC Comics during the Fifties, most notably on The Haunt of Fear,Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. He illustrated one genre magazine, Planet Stories cover as you can see here. Thought didn’t do any other covers, he was a regular interior artist for both Planet Stories and Planet Comics. (Died 1991.)(CE)
Born June 7, 1924 — Jon Ewban White. Writer who was the script doctor for The Day of the Triffids. He was the writer for Witch Hunt, a dark fantasy series that ran BBC for six episodes. He even wrote an Avengers episode, “Propellent 23”. His one film screenplay was “Crack in the World” which was straight SF Sixties style story about of the end brought on by the follies of man. You can watch it here. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born June 7, 1932 – Kit Reed. Sixteen novels in our field; a hundred forty shorter stories, three dozen in The Story Until Now; fourteen more novels. First published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under Boucher. Translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian. Guggenheim Fellow. Called herself a trans-genred writer. (Died 2017) [JH]
Born June 7, 1946 – Jon White. Fanziner and bookseller. Revived Inside in 1962, brought in Leland Sapiro who renamed it Riverside Quarterly (after a famous dwelling in New York). Here is the front cover by Arthur Thomson (“Atom”) for vol. 1 no. 2. (Died 2004) [JH]
Born June 7, 1949 – Real Musgrave. Graphic artist who has maintained a fannish connection. Artist Guest of Honor at Westercon XLI (here is the cover of its Program Book); exhibited at Magicon, the 50th Worldcon. Here is a cover for Fantasy Review. Pocket Dragons, done as drawings, figurines, animated television series. Brother of astronaut Story Musgrave. [JH]
Born June 7, 1954 – Louise Erdrich. In the first class of women admitted to Dartmouth (A.B., English; later, honorary Litt. D. and Commencement speaker). Member of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; her grandfather was tribal chief. National Book Award for Fiction, Lib. Cong. Prize for Amer. Fiction, Amer. Acad. Poets Prize, Pushcart Prize. Love Medicine, only début novel to win the Nat’l Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Children’s books; Scott O’Dell Award for The Game of Silence. World Fantasy Award for The Antelope Wife; three more novels in our field. Interview in December 2017 Lightspeed. [JH]
Born June 7, 1967 — Dayton Ward, 53. Writer best known for his Trek fiction which began with publication in the Strange New Worlds anthology series. To say he’s written a lot of that media tie-in fiction is an understatement as he’s written forty novels so far with the Mirror Universe and the Starfleet Corps of Engineers being but two of the subjects he tackles. He already written one novel for one of the latest series, Star Trek: Discovery: Drastic Measures. (CE)
Born June 7, 1968 — Sarah Parish, 52. In “The Runaway Bride“, a Tenth Doctor story, she got to play, with the assistance of extensive CGI, one of the nastiest Who villains to date, The Empress of the Racnoss, an oversized vicious spider with a human face. Great episode. It’s our introduction to Donna Noble, his Companion for quite some time to come. In a much lighter role, she played Pasiphaë on BBC’s Atlantis series. (CE)
Born June 7, 1974 — David Filoni, 46. Creator and an executive producer on Star Wars Rebels, a most awesome series, for all four seasons, and was supervising director and a writer on another excellent series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. (I like the animated series far better than the live action films.) He makes his live acting debut in The Mandalorian playing Trapper Wolf, an X-Wing pilot, in “The Prisoner” episode. It’s also worth noting that he his first job was directing episodes during the first season of animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender (CE)
Born June 7, 1978 – Jesse Ball. Novelist and poet; spare, surrealistic, and strange. Went to Vassar, which would have saddened my grandmother who never wanted it to go co-ed. Guggenheim Fellowship; Illinois Author of the Year, 2015; Berlin Prize; Plimpton Prize. Gordon Burn Prize for Census; two more novels and a book of shorter stories in our field; five more novels, drawings, non-fiction. Faculty, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he got Wikipedia to believe he teaches lying, ambiguity, dreaming, walking; and maybe he does. [JH]
(9) OUT OF SORTS. Meanwhile, back at the Tingleverse:
Ronald McNair (October 21, 1950–January 28, 1986) was nine when he took his freedom into his own small hands.
Unlike Maya Angelou, who credited a library with saving her life, McNair’s triumphant and tragic life could not have been saved even by a library — he was the age I am now when he perished aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger before the eyes of a disbelieving nation. But his life was largely made by a library — a life equal parts inspiring and improbable against the cultural constrictions of his time and place; a life of determination that rendered him the second black person to launch into space, a decade and a half after a visionary children’s book first dared imagine the possibility….
When Raisha Doumbia, a 20-year-old swimming instructor in Roswell, Ga., first downloaded the video-sharing app TikTok, she made lighthearted posts, like her lip-syncing and dancing to a song by the British girl group Little Mix.
But Doumbia paused the playful routines after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. Now she is using her TikTok feed to urge followers to march for racial justice.
…All of a sudden, TikTok has become the go-to forum for burgeoning youth activism.
“Anger, dismay, disgust and unhappiness are all feelings that can be easily transmitted on a video on Tik Tok,” Aho Williamson said.
Black creators accuse TikTok of suppression
Activism arrived on TikTok just as scrutiny of its parent company, the Chinese-owned ByteDance, intensified.
As protests began to sweep the nation, black creators noticed that videos tagged #GeorgeFloyd or #BlackLivesMatter were hard to find, or looked as though no one had watched them despite a torrent of views.
To some users, it was a suspicious development, considering that ByteDance has censored videos of anti-Beijing protests in Hong Kong, in addition to having been exposed for previously suppressing posts from users deemed too unattractive or undesirable for the platform.
TikTok insists that is not what happened in posts related to Black Lives Matter. In an about-face, the company apologized and blamed the problem on a “technical glitch.”
“Nevertheless, we understand that many assumed this bug to be an intentional act to suppress the experiences and invalidate the emotions felt by the black community. And we know we have work to do to regain and repair that trust,” said Vanessa Pappas, TikTok’s general manager for the U.S.
…Revisiting Elizabeth Bowen’s Collected Stories, one realizes that there are certain literary works that, once read, make one burn with envy of those readers who have still to come to them for the first time.* There is not a story in this substantial volume, from the first to the last, that is not brought off beautifully. While it is no doubt foolhardy and certainly vulgar to choose favorites, one must mention instances in which Bowen outdid herself. These include the elusive but vividly immediate “Summer Night”; the haunting “Mysterious Kôr” and the haunted “The Demon Lover”; the trance-like wartime set pieces “Ivy Gripped the Steps” and “The Happy Autumn Fields”; the forlorn “Joining Charles”; and the merely—merely!—marvelous early tales “Daffodils” and “The Parrot.” In these and many other of the stories, Bowen reached, as Glendinning puts it, “a perfection and a unity that the sustained narrative and shifting emphases of a novel do not attempt.”
With direct flights to Wuhan and a population of 24 million people living in densely packed cities, Taiwan’s coronavirus outlook seemed grave.
But, to date, the disease has claimed just seven lives on the island, and it never went into full lockdown.
Its leaders credit masks as playing a key role, but not for the reasons you might suppose.
“Masks are something that, first, reminds you to wash your hands properly and, second, protects you from touching your mouth – that is the main benefit to the person who wears it,” explains Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s digital minister.
Taiwan’s citizens have worn face masks for health and other reasons since the 1950s, but the spread of coronavirus prompted a spate of panic-buying.
To even out demand, the masks had to be rationed while production was ramped up, from two million to 20 million items a day.
Long queues snaked back from pharmacies and other outlets – which posed a risk of contagion in themselves. So, the government decided data about each location’s stock levels should be made publicly available.
To do so, Ms Tang’s ministry launched a platform which each vendor could keep updated with their stock numbers.
Then, Taiwan’s hacking community, with whom the government had been building a strong relationship for years, stepped in.
It began drawing on the data, which had been made public, to build a series of real-time ‘mask maps’.
…Earlier this week, Chien-Jen Chen – the island’s former vice-president and a renowned epidemiologist – told British MPs that a well-designed contact tracing system and the application of strict quarantine rules to inbound visitors had also played a major role
But he too said the nature of the island’s “hyper-democracy” – and the efforts its health chiefs had made to gain the public’s trust – were the key factors in it success.
Those in power aren’t just responsive to the voices of citizens, but also the memes and other messages they share.
It helped the government counter false claims that the material used to make masks was the same as that found in toilet paper. In response Taiwan’s Premier posted a self-mocking cartoon, which showed his bottom wiggling, alongside an explanation of the different sources that toilet paper and mask paper come from.
“It went absolutely viral” says Ms Tang, of the government strategy referred to as “humour over rumour”.
[Thanks to John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, BravoLimaPoppa, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
…Irene joined Tor Books twenty-six years ago and quickly rose to head the Art Department. She has won the World Fantasy Award, the Richard Gangel Award for Art Direction from the Society of Illustrators, thirteen Chesley Awards, and numerous gold and silver medals from Spectrum and the Society of Illustrators.
Irene was also one of the founding members of the Tor.com website. In its first decade Tor.com has become a must-read site for science fiction and fantasy fans, and one of the most frequented publishing websites. Tor.com has won numerous awards for its original fiction, nonfiction, and art, including the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Locus Awards….
(2) GOVERNING SPACE. Future Tense, a
partnership ofSlate, New
America, and Arizona
State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and
going to be holding a symposium on July 10 addressing the question “How
Will We Govern Ourselves in Space?” They’re planning to livestream the
event. The complete schedule is here.
With the purchase of a comic or collection, you’ll get another digital title — for FREE! Use code MARVEL2019 at checkout for this unbeatable offer! [See site for details.]
Looking for prelude reading to Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man: Far From Home? Try the classic collection SPIDER-MAN VS. MYSTERIO, and read a curated handful of the Wall-Crawler’s best battles against the Master of Illusion! Or, try best-selling horror mag IMMORTAL HULK! Seeking a high stakes blockbuster? Try the ongoing event WAR OF THE REALMS today, and see Avengers, X-Men, street-level heroes and more, unite against Malekith’s global siege of Midgard! And it’s by MIGHTY THOR maestros Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson!
Our Buy One Get One Free Sale is a perfect opportunity to discover a new series that piques your interest! Explore top-sellers from our STAR WARS lineup, or pick up the ongoing alt-universe X-Men arc AGE OF X-MAN! Or, check out the return of Cimmerian barbarian CONAN in his current series! New to comics and looking for a place to dive in? Visit the Digital Comics Shop’s READING LIST Section, and explore themed lists based off your favorite characters, creators, events and more! Get inspired by our favorite Spider-Man starter stories here!
More than 20,000 Christians have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of Good Omens, the television series adapted from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 fantasy novel – unfortunately addressing their petition to Netflix when the series is made by Amazon Prime.
… they say that Good Omens is “another step to make satanism appear normal, light and acceptable”, and “mocks God’s wisdom”.
I was dubious about the first sequel to Pixar’s wonderful Toy Story, which turned out to be terrific. But a fourth go-round for Woody, Buzz and company? I harbored doubts but I should have had more faith in the Pixar team. This is a highly enjoyable film with laugh-out-loud gags, ingenious plotting, and endearing new characters. By the closing scene I found myself marveling at how my emotions were stirred by these innately inanimate objects.
Seven years on, queer characters are found in every corner of the expanding audio drama world. So this list of recommendations is by no means exhaustive; it is simply one starting point based on the SFF series I’ve laughed, gasped, and teared up at. From radio-show hosts caught up in romantic fanfic tropes to stories that aren’t about ships but just about being a queer person in the world, these eight fiction podcasts are something to be proud of.
Kenyon had her blood, hair, and nails tested for 21 different heavy metals. The results, which she shared with me, appeared to show elevated levels of chromium, beryllium, manganese, nickel, cadmium, antimony, platinum, mercury, lithium, selenium, tin, barium, thorium, and arsenic. These tests are the basis of her claim that she was poisoned. But when I spoke with Dr. Ernest Lykissa, the lead scientist of the lab that performed the tests, he said the concentrations of heavy metals in her system weren’t high enough to support her theory. “In this case,” he said, “the only thing I see is environmental exposure.” He thought she’d probably absorbed the metals from her surroundings — from the paint in her home, for example, or the exhaust from her car.
Kenyon never had any direct contact with Lykissa. To get tested, she stopped into Any Lab Test Now, a strip-mall operation that promises to have patients “in and out in 15 minutes.” It collected the samples of her blood, hair, and nails and forwarded them to Lykissa’s company, ExperTox, which then produced a list of the toxins found in the samples and their concentrations. In order to have those results interpreted by a scientist at ExperTox, Kenyon would have had to pay extra — a step she didn’t take, according to Lykissa. When I mentioned this to Bruce Goldberger, the president of the American Board of Forensic Toxicology and the director of forensic medicine at the University of Florida, he found it troubling. At my request, Goldberger had reviewed Kenyon’s test results and had come to the same conclusion as Lykissa — that she hadn’t been poisoned. But he felt that Lykissa’s company had failed her. “She’s convinced herself that her illness is associated with poisoning,” he said; by giving her results without any analysis, he continued, ExperTox allowed that belief to endure.
(8) HEINLEIN NOVEL MAKES SLOW PROGRESS. Arc Manor / Phoenix Pick admitted to folks on their mailing list that they are “having some issues with the title of the new Heinlein novel, Six-Six-Six” – one being that it won’t be published with that title.
All parties have now agreed on the final title for the book and we want our readers to be the first ones to know.
The new Heinlein novel is going to be titled:
The Pursuit of the Pankera
With a sub-title that will go on both The Pursuit of the Pankera as well as the republished edition of The Number of the Beast.
Subtitle: A Parallel Novel about Parallel Universes.
The Pankeran reference is directly from the book.
We will be announcing the release date soon. As for the status of the book; Pat LoBrutto has completed his overall editorial review of the book and it is about to go to a copy-editor.
The publisher says they’re going to attempt to defray some of their costs through a Kickstarter campaign.
The really cool part about this is that the Kickstarter will offer a presale of the book at less than the launch price of the book, which we figure is a win-win for all. Fans get to purchase the book at a lower price, and we can get some funds to help us pay for our production costs moving forward.
They haven’t set a release date yet.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 20, 1897 — Donald Keyhoe. Early pulp writer whose works included the entire contents of all three published issues of the Dr. Yen Sin zine. The novels were The Mystery of the Dragon’s Shadow, The Mystery of the Golden Skull and The Mystery of the Singing Mummies. He would create two pulp characters, one with ESP who was a daredevil pilot and one who was blind that could see none-the-less in the dark. He’s best remembered today for being one of the early believers in UFOs and being very active in that community. (Died 1988.)
Born June 20, 1913 — Lilian Jackson Braun. Author of The Cat Who… series which really may or may not be genre. The two cats in it are delightful and one, Koko, certainly has a sixth sense, but the author never suggests this is psychic. Good popcorn reading. (Died 2011.)
Born June 20, 1928 — Martin Landau. I’ve got his first genre role as being on The Twilight Zone as Dan Hotaling in “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” episode. Of course, his longest running genre role was as Rollin Hand on Mission Impossible though he had a good run also on Space: 1999 as Commander John Koenig. His last role was in Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie voicing Mr. Rzykruski. (Died 2017.)
Born June 20, 1951 — Tress MacNeille, 68. Voice artist extraordinaire. Favorite roles? Dot Warner on The Animaniacs, herself as the angry anchorwoman in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Babs Bunny on Tiny Toons and Hello Nurse on Pinky and The Brain.
Born June 20, 1952 — John Goodman, 67. Some may know him as the TV husband of a certain obnoxious comedienne but I’ve never watched that show. So I picture him as Fred Flintstone in The Flintstones, a role perfect for him. Mind you he’s had a lot of genre roles: voicing James P. “Sulley” Sullivan in the Monsters franchise, a cop in the diner in C.H.U.D., and he’ll even be the voice of Spike in the Tom and Jerry due out two years hence.
Born June 20, 1957 — Candy Clark, 71. Mary Lou in The Man Who Fell to Earth which of course featured Bowie. She also was in Amityville 3-D, Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye and The Blob the role of Francine Hewitt. That’s the remake obviously, not the original. Oh, and she’s Buffy’s mom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Wiki being Wiki lists that as non-canon.
Born June 20, 1967 — Nicole Kidman, 52. Batman Forever was her first foray into the genre but she has done a number of genre films down the years: Practical Magic, The Stepford Wives, Bewitched (I liked it), The Invasion (never heard of it), The Golden Compass (not nearly as good as the novel was), Paddington (anyone see this?) and her latest was as Queen Atlanna in the rather good Aquaman.
Born June 20, 1968 — Robert Rodriguez, 51. I’ll single out the vastly different Sin City and Spy Kids franchises as his best work, though the From Dusk till Dawn has considerable charms as well. ISFDB notes that he’s written two novels with Chris Roberson riffing off his The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D film, The Day Dreamer and Return to Planet Droll.
(10) THE INSIDE STORY. Technology
writer and programmer Paul Ford has posted a SF story idea inspired by the
tireless forces of heroic keyboard warriors on the front lines of Twitfacegram:
In the first study, researchers led by Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen, sequenced the whole genomes of 34 individuals who lived in Siberia, the land bridge Beringia, and Alaska from 600 to nearly 32,000 years ago. The oldest individuals in the sample—two men who lived in far northern Siberia—represent the earliest known humans from that part of the world. There are no direct genetic traces of these men in any of the other groups the team surveyed, suggesting their culture likely died out about 23,000 years ago when the region became too cold to be inhabitable.
Elsewhere on the Eurasian continent, however, a group arose that would eventually move into Siberia, splinter, and cross Beringia into North America, the DNA analysis reveals. A woman known as Kolyma1, who lived in northeastern Siberia about 10,000 years ago, shares about two-thirds of her genome with living Native Americans. “It’s the closest we have ever gotten to a Native American ancestor outside the Americas,” Willerslev says. Still, notes Ben Potter, an archaeologist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks who was not involved with the work, the relation is nevertheless distant.
Additional DNA evidence suggests a third wave of migrants, the Neo-Siberians, moved into northeastern Siberia from the south sometime after 10,000 years ago. These migrants mixed with the ancient Siberians, planting the genetic roots of many of the area’s present-day populations.
(12) BDP. Bonnie
McDaniel has posted her assessment
of the Dramatic Presentation Short Form Hugo Finalists. The list begins with an
item that ranks behind No Award on her ballot –
7) The Good Place, “Jeremy Bearimy”
I simply cannot comprehend many Hugo nominators’ and voters’ continued affection for this mess. This show grates on me like coarse sandpaper. In the interest of fairness, even though I hated the two episodes that were nominated last year, I tried to watch this and had to turn it off fifteen minutes in. The only good thing about this episode was the title, which provides a fairly witty, rhyming new name for “looping time-travel shenanigans.”
(13) WORTH A
THOUSAND WORDS. Steve J.
Wright has completed his Hugo Graphic Story Finalist reviews:
This week I will cover the Retro Hugo Best Novelette category. (It may be a mistake to start with the longest items first; as the works grow shorter they start seeming–and being–less complex and thought-provoking.)
“Citadel of Lost Ships” by Leigh Brackett is one of those stories that was based on the planetary knowledge of the time, particularly of Venus, but now is woefully outdated. However, that aspect of it is not the main story, merely the background for the characters, so it doesn’t intrude enough to cause problems. What is more problematic is the lack of subtlety in its essentially libertarian message dressed up in science fiction trappings.
(15) ON TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter monitored the game
Category: “Books of Mystery”
Answer: “This detective featured in 4 novels & 56 short stories was killed of in 1893, but that didn’t stop him for long.”
NASA revealed Monday that it needs an additional $1.6 billion in funding for fiscal year 2020 to stay on track for a human return to the Moon by 2024. The space agency’s budget amendment comes in addition to the $21 billion the Trump administration asked Congress for in March.
In a teleconference with reporters on Monday evening, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the budget amendment was a “down payment” on what will be needed in future years to fund the program. “In the coming years, we will need additional funds,” he said. “This is a good amount that gets us out of the gate.” He and the other NASA officials on the call would not say how much that would be.
Two people familiar with NASA’s internal deliberations say the agency has estimated that it needs as much as $6 billion to $8 billion a year for a lunar return by 2024.
[…] Bridenstine noted that, 50 years ago, the human program to land on the Moon was named after Apollo, the son of Zeus and Leto. Because the return to the Moon will include women, Bridenstine said the new program would be named Artemis, after Apollo’s twin sister.
“Our goal here is to build a program that gets us to the Moon as soon as possible that all of America can be proud of,” he said. […]
When the next car-sized rover lands on Mars in 2020, the ultimate head of this extraterrestrial endeavor will be physicist Lori Glaze. She’s leads NASA’s Planetary Science Division.
And she’s not alone. For the first time in history, three of NASA’s four science divisions are now run by women, a milestone announced by NASA on Friday.
“I am proud to say that for the 1st time in #NASA’s history, women are in charge of 3 out of 4 #NASAScience divisions. They are inspiring the next generation of women to become leaders in space exploration as we move forward to put the 1st woman on the Moon,” NASA’s associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen tweeted Friday.
June’s Uncanny Magazine brings a bit of heartbreak, a bit of horror, but also a bit of romance. At least, two of the stories feature some rich romantic themes, and develop characters reaching out in compassion even as the world around them seems to descend into some very dark waters. The works explore worlds dominated in many ways by cruelty, and seek to find compassion and empathy, sometimes rather forcibly. Throw in a pair of poems taking on some different meta-fictional lenses, and it’s an issue that will make you think even as it entertains. So let’s get to the reviews!
Americans are less interested in NASA sending humans to the moon or Mars than they are in the U.S. space agency focusing on potential asteroid impacts and using robots for space exploration. That’s according to a poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Thursday, one month before the 50th anniversary of the first walk on the moon.
Two-thirds of respondents said monitoring asteroids, comets and “other events in space that could impact Earth” was “very or extremely important.” According to NASA, which watches for objects falling from space, about once a year an “automobile-sized [a]steroid hits Earth’s atmosphere,” but it usually burns up before it hits the surface. And the instances of larger objects actually making it past Earth’s atmosphere and causing any damage happen thousands of years apart, NASA says.
The world’s glaciers are melting faster than before, but it still takes decades to see changes that are happening at a glacial pace.
To look back in time, researchers are turning to a once-secret source: spy satellite imagery from the 1970s and 1980s, now declassified. “The actual imagery is freely available for download on the USGS website, and people can use it,” says Josh Maurer, a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Maurer is the lead author of a study using satellite imagery to show that in the past 20 years, Himalayan glaciers melted twice as fast as they did in the 1980s and ’90s. The work was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
The spy satellite images come from KH-9 Hexagon military satellites, launched during the Cold War to help the U.S. peer over the Iron Curtain, says Summer Rupper, a co-author of the study. Each satellite was about the size of a school bus and carried miles of film. Packaged in buckets equipped with parachutes, the film was later ejected into the upper atmosphere and plucked out of the air over the Pacific Ocean by Air Force pilots. Most Hexagon images were declassified in 2011 as a continuation of a 1995 executive order by President Bill Clinton to release spy satellite footage that was “scientifically or environmentally useful.”
On last Sunday afternoon, New Plymouth resident, Michael Atkinson, was driving up Devon St when he spotted four knights in armour sword fighting in the middle of the street.
He pulled over and filmed the tournament on his mobile.
In the video, Atkinson can be heard laughing in the background, repeatedly saying the whole thing was “random as” while the knights ran into the middle of the intersection and fought each other.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Nina, Mike Kennedy, Michael
Toman, Paul Weimer, Harold Osler, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian,
rcade, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title
credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day C.A. Collins.]
Wheaton portrayed Wesley Crusher on TV’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-1994), and has been playing himself on “The Big Bang Theory.” In a 2015 episode of the hit sitcom, he watched a “Star Wars” movie in “Star Trek” garb, attracting boos from the audience and an insult from one moviegoer. “Live long and suck it!” he yelled back in a memorable line.
I loved #TheLastJedi! It hit all the right notes for me, and seeing it in the Chinese Theater, surrounded by my fellow nerds was glorious. The Force was with us.
Oh, and I went in costume for the first time ever, because I am a damn adult and I get to decide what that means. pic.twitter.com/mTqB0LP4hV
Excited for #StarWars until #AMC in Burbank, CA decided to play the film w/ no sound & wouldn't start it over. So for 20 minutes, no idea what they're talking about. Thanks, @AMCTheatres. Thanks, a lot.
According to Twitter user, Isaias Rodriguez, theater management attempted to appease the angry fans by either moving them to another screening at the same theater — albeit not in the IMAX format — or to attend a screening of the much-anticipated film at another AMC theatre Friday.
Police reportedly were called to the Southern California venue.
Gallo has worked as an art director at Tor Books for more than two decades, where she currently holds the title of Creative Director. She’s also the Associate Publisher of Tor.com, and is ultimately the one responsible for the look of the publishing company’s book covers, as well as its online output. She’s been nominated for a Chesley Award for her art direction an astounding 19 times, the first back in 1999, and has won 13, as early as 2001, and as recently as 2017.
We discussed what it was like the first time she realized she wasn’t the only one in the world who cared so strongly about art, how she felt the day she discovered Harlan Ellison as well as the title of his that made her go “whoa,” why seeing book covers as thumbnails started long before the trend of Internet bookselling, how a manuscript moves from cover concept through to final cover, whether the cliche that an author is the worst possible designer of their own book cover is true, how self-published authors who create their own books can get the best possible covers, and much more.
With just 11 days to go until to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and the Steven Moffat say their final farewells, some fans are finding it hard to wait! Some sites have been granted early access to ‘Twice Upon a Time,’ so to hold us over until December 25, we have a list of hints and teasers from the episode!
The cat is on the floor, looking up at me and yelling as I type this. My original plan was for a piece on ‘Pets In Space’, but she’s threatened to vomit on my bed, under the covers, if I don’t focus solely on cats. Why? Because cats are better than dogs. I am typing this of my own free will. Please send salmon.
In all seriousness though, even dog lovers have to admit that cats would make better pets aboard a space craft: they don’t require as much food as any but the smallest dogs, unlike many dog breeds they don’t need a lot of space to run around, and they’re great at catching the rodents chewing on the cables of the life-support system.
The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars film, and director Rian Johnson packs it full of story, so you’re unlikely to be bored, and even the laggy parts move along. With that said, there’s so much going on in the story and we’re keeping track of so many characters (Luke and Leia and Rey and Kylo and Poe and Finn and Chewie and BB-8 and R2D2 and C-3PO and Hux and Snoke and Phasma and oh look there are new characters too and what the hell are these porg things anyway?) that it can feel thin, and some bits are clearly contrived simply to give beloved characters things to do and/or give us new merchandising yes Porgs I am looking at you (I bought a porg stuffed animal at the show last night so, uh, I fell for it). I think I would have been happier with a sharper focus on fewer characters, and also I’m worried that Episode IX will be three and a half hours long and have five different endings, a la The Return of the King.
(7) PLAY BALL. Cut4.com, a Major League Baseball site, tried to attract a few clicks by assembling a baseball team out of Star Wars characters in celebration of The Last Jedi — “This is the team you’re looking for”. This one you need to follow baseball to fully appreciate:
Starting Pitchers: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jamie Moyer
The wise old wizard, utilizing a psychological advantage to best his enemies and thrive, despite all odds. And, as a solid No. 2, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Ronald D. Moore is heading back to space. Apple has given a straight-to-series order to a space drama from the Battlestar Galactica developer. The untitled project hails from Sony Pictures Television and Moore’s studio-based Tall Ship Productions.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
December 15, 1958 — Frankenstein’s Daughter came out.
December 15, 1961 — The Twilight Zone aired “Once Upon A Time,” starring Buster Keaton.
December 15, 1974 – Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein premieres.
December 15, 1978 – Superman – The Movie premiered in U.S. theaters.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
Born December 15, 1949 — Don Johnson, who starred with his canine companion in A Boy and His Dog.
(11) MATH PROJECT. Do we know anyone attending Emmanuel College in Boston?
Very impressed with final presentations from my students in "Math of Everyday Life" (survey for non-science majors) which included the 4 Color Map Theorem, Gerrymandering & Compactness, Simpson's Paradox, and Instant Runoff Voting for the Hugo Awards!
(12) DUBIOUS FAN. Camestros Felapton is restraining his enthusiasm about new mix-and-match possibilities after the Disney/Fox merger for several reasons. Here’s one of them: “Disney, Fox and MCU”.
A comic book universe relies on somehow making superheroes whose basic premise is quite different work together. Marvel has juggled this by having elements that work together and elements that work as given character’s own domain. Thor can be a god-like alien being on Earth and exist side-by-side with Iron Man a human with fancy gadgets but their separate adventures put the characters in quite different characters. Some suspension of disbelief is required to accept that these characters can have their own stories without every film requiring all the Avengers to turn up to help but the settings help and each character can have separate stories.
Now add the X-men. The X-Men aren’t the X-Men without the key premise that they live in a world in which:
Some people get random mutant superpowers.
That the wider population knows this.
That the mutant population is feared and persecuted and suppressed.
Captain America has to be cool with this. I mean, obviously, he isn’t but for the X-Men to have their stories, basically The Avengers have to not do anything when the US government starts hunting people with giant killer robots. Also, the wider public has to be relatively OK with one bunch of super powered people and raging bigots about a different bunch. It has to be OK to get superpowers from a spider bite but not from a genetic mutation AND people have to believe that story (i.e. people don’t think Spiderman is a dangerous mutant).
Welcome to the small northern Swedish city of Gävle where there’s an annual battle over a 12-metre-high straw effigy of a goat. Local custodians try to protect a giant straw goat from mischievous pagans in a fight for the spirit of Christmas.
Every year since 1966, in the dark days of winter, the business owners pay for a goat to be built in the central square on the first day of advent. For 37 of those 51 years, the goat has been burnt down or damaged by shadowy outsiders, sometimes within a few hours of going up.
The goat, which pulls Santa’s sleigh, has come to symbolise Christmas in Sweden, drawing people in from the surrounding country. Families bring their children to look in wonder and, the businesses hope, do a bit of shopping while they are there.
But there are other people in the dark forests that surround the city who hold an entirely different view of the goat. They believe in a time before Christianity appeared in Sweden, when people worshipped Norse gods including the goat goddess Heidrun (goddess of enlightenment) and the god of thunder, Thor, who rode around on two goats. Each night he would burn and then eat them, only to wake up the following morning to them having been reborn and able to pull his chariot again….
Researchers used data from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope to discover an eighth planet orbiting a star known as Kepler-90.
The planet, dubbed Kepler-90i, is a hot, rocky planet that orbits its star every 14.4 days, and was found with the help of artificial intelligence, NASA said Thursday. The discovery marks the first solar system to tie with our solar system in the number of planets orbiting one star.
(15) STAY FROSTY. Timothy Cama, in a December 12 article in The Hill called “Emails: Disney annoyed by Obama push to use ‘Frozen’ brand” said that recently unearthed emails showed a 2015 negotiation between the Obama administration and Disney about using Frozen characters to promote warnings about climate change broke down because, according to one Disney executive, “it’s in our culture to tell stories that project optimism and have happy endings.”
Papp’s outreach generated extensive media coverage at the time and attracted mockery and criticism from conservatives who already thought then-President Obama’s climate agenda had gone too far.
The effort to use “Frozen” for climate messaging was part of an extensive plan by the Obama administration to convince Americans and the world that climate change is a major issue with enormous consequences.
It wasn’t a big vehicle, and it didn’t go to orbit. But the anniversary of that first flight from Woomera, Australia, should be celebrated because much of what we do in space today has its roots in this particular piece of technology.
“The first one was launched during the International Geophysical Year of 1957, and almost 450 were launched over the better part of half a century. It was the Skylark space rocket that really laid the foundations for everything the UK does in space.”
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Slaughterbots” on YouTube is a near-future film warning about the problems of miniature drones trained to kill.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
When a great American author recommends a bookstore to you, you would be well-advised to listen. When he does it with enthusiasm and passion, which was the only way Ray Bradbury ever did anything, you would be well-advised not just to listen, but to take note — in indelible ink on acid free paper, on any recording device you have handy, and by any method of mnemonics you practice.
“Steve, you and Amanda must come to my book signing next Wednesday. But not just for me, it’s at one of the best bookstores ever, Mystery & Imagination in Glendale, great name, huh? It’s from Poe!”
In a glass case at the front of Bookfellows used bookstore in Glendale, a plush kitten once owned by Ray Bradbury is displayed beside a bottle of dandelion wine, and an autographed photo of Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen and Forrest J. Ackerman all together on the same stage. Next to that is a brick — one recovered from the ruins of the late author’s house after it was demolished.
One has to wonder if anyone will save a brick from Bookfellows when it no longer exists. The staircase in the back is a treasure trove of autographs from famous authors who’ve dropped by, from Mickey Spillane to Alan Young. Bradbury, disappointed that Harryhausen hadn’t drawn a dinosaur when he signed, drew a rough doodle of one next to the legendary animator’s name to put things right.
These days, directors are expected to talk up their films, and for good reason: it’s likely that François Truffaut’s remarks about his 1966 film “Fahrenheit 451” (which I discuss in this clip) are in large part responsible for the film’s wrongly low reputation. The film was something of Truffaut’s white whale: it took him four years to put the production together; along the way, he turned down some other significant projects, including “Bonnie and Clyde,” which the screenwriters Robert Benton and David Newman had written with him in mind. The shoot of “Fahrenheit 451,” which took place mainly in Great Britain, proved difficult for Truffaut, in part because he didn’t speak English, but above all because he had trouble working with the lead actor, Oskar Werner (who had played Jules in Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim”). Instead of keeping their conflicts out of the tabloids, Truffaut aired them himself: he kept a diary of the shoot and published excerpts from it in Cahiers du Cinéma.
HAWKING COFFEE. Believe it or not, Kirk Douglas and Ray Bradbury appeared together in a Japanese coffee commercial, filmed in Ray’s Beverly Hills office (probably 1981).
ON THE FRONT. Right after Bradbury passed away in 2012, Irene Gallo put together “Picturing Ray Bradbury”, a collection of cover art from his work, for Tor.com.
Ray Bradbury’s passing was a loss for everyone who enjoys storytelling in all of its forms. Not the least of which are artists and illustrators. Bradbury’s tone, the poetry and atmosphere of his worlds, have inspired artists for decades. Looking at his book covers, extending back over many printings, you see generations of artists reinterpreting the same works for their own era.
TONIGHT SHOW. John King Tarpinian recently saw a rerun of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show first aired on March 1, 1978; Ray Bradbury was one of Johnny’s guests.
So was insult-comedian Don Rickles.
Tarpinian tells the story:
What is really impressive about Ray on Carson is…it may be the first time Rickles asked a serious question of a person on a panel.
On that show was Don Rickles, Ray was disappointed that Rickles did not give him a zinger. Afterwards Ray asked why he did not insult him, as anybody would have wanted. Rickles said he respected Ray too much and his final words were, “You hockey puck!” Ray walked away floating on air.
During the making of season 6, Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Hannah Murray (Gilly) asked the producers to help them play a wicked trick on their costar and friend, John Bradley (Samwell Tarley). Explains Weiss: “Hannah has long had the sh–tiest costumes on Game of Thrones; she’s been in a burlap sack for five years. She was so happy that she finally gets into a real piece of clothing this year. So Kit and Hannah thought it would be funny to play a joke on John and let him think he’s going to get a new costume too.”
The producers wrangled the show’s costume department to stage a mock fitting for Bradley in a fake costume before shooting began. “We thought it would be great to make the costume ludicrous, but just believable enough to not know it was a gag – so he’d think he would be wearing this on screen,” Weiss says. The result, as you can see in the exclusive photo above, “was all rental stuff, very Henry the VIII, with Tudor bloomers and a massive codpiece that wasn’t even the same color as the rest of the costume.”
Here we see Harry’s two best friends Ron Weasley (Paul Thornley) and Hermione Granger (Noma Dumezweni) in full costume with their daughter Rose Granger-Weasley, who will be played by actress Cherrelle Skeete.
‘It’s 19 years later when the play begins,’ Paul explained. ‘Ron is married to Hermione Granger and they’re now the Granger-Weasleys. Our magnificent daughter Rose Granger-Weasley is about to start at Hogwarts, which is obviously a big day for everyone.’
In 1983 Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin published a standalone novel drenched in classic rock that featured the following: a sorceress marshaling a menacing army of loyal warriors, a faithful direwolf cut down in the act of protecting its master, and a scary henchman of well-nigh mountain-ous stature.
The book is called The Armageddon Rag, and a perusal of the synopses of his other pre-Song of Ice and Fire output leads me to the conclusion that the book is Martin’s most realistic novel and surely represents his most sustained homage to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien—unless, of course, the still-uncompleted Westeros/Essos series qualifies.
It also doesn’t really work.
According to the author, The Armageddon Rag nearly sank Martin’s career—and also (HBO subscribers, rejoice) prompted the writer to investigate the possibilities of writing for television….
When people think of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre they often think of it as a male-dominated field, both in authorship and art. However, women have always been a critical part of the genre, and have often brought a slightly different point of view to the way that they create around the themes of myth, heroism, science, and futurism. Mary Shelley wrote one of the first, if not the first science fiction books in Frankenstein. For every Tolkien there was an Ursula K. Le Guin. For every Frank Herbert an Octavia Butler. When we think of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art, it is often the names like Frazetta and Hildebrandt that come first to mind. However, all along through the art history of the genre you have women such as Kinuko Craft, Mary Blair, Julie Bell, and many more who have been creating their own visual worlds and illustrating the worlds of authors, filmmakers, and game designers. For the first time, the work of women in this genre will be exhibited together in Point of Vision: Celebrating Women Artists in Fantasy and Science Fiction at the Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators.
We have chosen to exhibit these women artists together to propose that although both men and women have always created art in the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy, women inherently have a slightly different point of view, a unique way of internalizing the themes and stories and then creating visuals imbued with their perspective. However it would be a mistake to say that art created by women is automatically “feminine” — in this exhibit the viewer will see that there are as many different definitions of “woman artist” as there are women creating art.
This exhibit is curated by Irene Gallo and Lauren Panepinto.
So a short explanation for why reusable rockets haven’t arrived earlier is simply the technical difficulty. However, the idea of reusable spaceplanes dates back to before World War Two.
Before the Apollo programme, spaceplanes were thought to be the future of reusable spacecraft, says Roger Launius at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. “The idea has been out there since the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon science fiction comic strips in the 1920s and 1930s. Every single one of the spacecraft in those strips was a reusable spaceplane. So since before World War Two we always thought spaceflight would be like airplane activity.”
After 1945, captured German rocket scientists revealed they had planned – but never built – a suborbital spaceplane, the Silverbird, with which the Nazis had hoped to bomb the US. A novel design feature was that it was shaped like a wing, so its shape helped add aerodynamic lift. This ‘lifting body’ idea was harnessed by the US Air Force in 1958 when it started work on a reusable winged spaceplane, the X-20 Dyna-Soar – but the Moon program saw that canned in 1963.
Although Adam West’s information was sparse, we may already have a clue about what this thing is. Last year, he and Burt Ward mentioned that they would be voicing their versions of Batman and Robin in a 90-minute animated project. It seems unlikely that this would be a movie released in theaters. Instead, it seems like a much better fit as a direct-to-DVD movie, something streamed on an online platform or even as a TV special. However, there’s been no official announcements concerning that particular project, and it’s unclear whether what West is currently talking about is the same project or something entirely different. Either way, having the old guard together again is intriguing.
(7) DEVIL IN A BLUE RAY. The other day Guillermo del Toro praised director John Carpenter in a long series of tweets that included this story:
Anecdote 1/2: One night, over dinner, I told John Carpenter, how much all generations love The Thing. How amazing it was that it had…
Born June 1, 1936 – Morgan Freeman, who in addition to playing God in two movies, has performed as a leader of all three branches of the US government, the President, the Chief Justice, and the Speaker. (And you can throw in the Director of Central Intelligence for good measure.)
(9) BIRTHDAY MUPPET
Born June 1, 2000— Oscar the Grouch. [Updated. Oscar has been on Sesame Street since 1969. But the birthday is official.]
(10) STRETCH GOALS. Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch audiobook Kickstarter not only funded, but hit three stretch goals.
And for unlocking the last goal, backers will soon learn if illustrator James A. Owen can really draw a bandersnatch blindfolded.
(11) THE DOORS OF HIS MOUTH. David Brin will speak in Washington DC to Caltech alumni on June 14. Tickets are $10.
Knocking on Doors
What Caltech Taught Me about Self-Education
Join us for a special conversation with Hugo award winning and New York Times bestselling science fiction author David Brin (BS ’73). Brin will speak about how his experience at Caltech prepared him for a three decade career at the intersection of science and imagination.
(12) ONLINE PAYMENT OPENS. MACII opened Site Selection voting the other day, however, today they made it possible to pay the Advance Supporting Membership fee online.
All Adult Attending, Young Adult Attending, and Supporting members of MidAmeriCon II are eligible to take part in the site selection process. Ballots may be submitted by postal mail or in person at the convention, up to the close of voting at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 19, 2016. All ballots must be accompanied by an Advance Supporting Membership fee, which will automatically be converted to a Supporting Membership of the respective convention, regardless of which convention the member voted for. This fee has been set at $40 for the 2018 Worldcon selection and $35 for the 2017 NASFiC.
Full information on the site selection process, including a printable ballot form, can be found on the MidAmeriCon II website at www.midamericon2.org/home/hugo-awards-and-wsfs/wsfs/site-selection/. A copy of the ballot form will also be included in MidAmeriCon II’s Progress Report 3, which will be mailed to convention members in the coming weeks.
Actress Michelle Gomez actually dropped the news herself at this weekend’s MegaCon in Orlando, confirming that she would definitely be bringing Missy back into the Doctor’s life for Season 10, according to Doctor Who News. And it doesn’t appear that she was in character while making the admission, so we don’t have to worry about this being a trick of some kind that she’s playing on humanity. Or do we?
The latest incarnation of the Doctor’s arch nemesis The Master, Missy first appeared in “Deep Breath,” after already being introduced by name in a previous episode. She is more of a trickster than earlier Masters when it comes to playing mind games with the Doctor, and has appeared in a handful of episodes since her introduction. She was last seen in Season 9’s “The Witch’s Familiar,” where she was left on Skaro amidst a huge group of Daleks, remarking on a clever idea she’d just had. Was that idea to show up in Season 10? It fits.
Conspiracy theorists are fond of pointing to things like the pyramids as proof that the Egyptians were in communication with an extraterrestrial civilization. While that’s very, very, very unlikely, a recent scientific discovery has revealed a surprising connection between Egyptian royalty and outer space. According to the Guardian, Italian and Egyptian scientists have concluded that a dagger found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen was forged from iron extracted from a meteorite.
(1) GALLO WINS ART DIRECTOR AWARD. The Society of Illustrators has named Irene Gallo the recipient of the 2016 Richard Gangel Art Director Award. The linked site includes a wide range of examples.
Society of Illustrators
The Richard Gangel Art Director award was established in 2005 to honor art directors currently working in the field who have supported and advanced the art of illustration…
Irene Gallo is the Associate Publisher at Tor.com and the Creative Director at Tor Books. She has art directed countless illustrators and her work has received numerous awards, including this year’s Gold Medal winning image by Sam Weber for The Language of Knives.
What we learn from them is fascinating, considering that compositions like this are now created in powerful computer systems with dozens of separate tracks and digital effects. The Doctor Who theme, on the other hand, recorded in 1963, was made even before basic analog synthesizers came into use. “There are no musicians,” says Mills, “there are no synthesizers, and in those days, we didn’t even have a 2-track or a stereo machine, it was always mono.” (Despite popular misconceptions, the theme does not feature a Theremin.) Derbyshire confirms; each and every part of the song “was constructed on quarter-inch mono tape,” she says, “inch by inch by inch,” using such recording techniques as “filtered white noise” and something called a “wobbulator.” How were all of these painstakingly constructed individual parts combined without multi track technology? “We created three separate tapes,” Derbyshire explains, “put them onto three machines and stood next to them and said “Ready, steady, go!” and pushed all the ‘start’ buttons at once. It seemed to work.”
[John Scalzi] Science fiction and fantasy is becoming more diverse in who writes it and what is represented — and I, for the life of me, cannot see what the problem is. I mean, come on. I write meat-and-potatoes classic science fiction. I’ve got spaceships, I’ve got lasers, I’ve got aliens. To suggest that there’s not a market for that type of science fiction is absolutely ridiculous. I’m doing great!
It just also happens that there’s lots of other cool stuff out there that is not like the sort of stuff that I write, and I think that’s great. Not everybody is going to be interested in the stuff I write — and not everybody should be. There should be science fiction and fantasy of all genres. It should be as inclusive as possible about the possibilities of the future and the possibility of alternate worlds and alternate setups. Otherwise, it’s fundamentally missing the point of what science fiction and fantasy can achieve.
(4) PACIFIC RIM 2 IS FEELING BETTER. No sooner did I relay the news that there would be no Pacific Rim sequel than its director, Guillermo del Toro, took to Twitter with this reassurance —
Pac Rim 2 cancelled? Don't believe everything you read. It's still going and I'll remain w it in one way or another!
(5) PAY IT FORWARD. Kevin Standlee asks for help finding European references to the Hugo.
The WSFS Mark Protection Committee is assembling citations of usage of The Hugo Award in Europe (including the UK) in support of our application for registering it as a service mark in the EU. Things that could be useful include mentions of a being a Hugo Award winner (or nominee) on the cover of a work published within the EU and references to the Hugo Awards in EU-based publications, including fanzines. Mentions in non-EU publications aren’t as useful, because we’re working on backing the claim that The Hugo Award has been used in Europe for a long time. British references are just fine; the UK is part of the EU.
If you have material you think might be useful for this, write to Linda Deneroff (firstname.lastname@example.org), Secretary of the WSFS MPC. She’ll let you know how to get the material to her for our compilation.
(6) CLASSIC SF RERUNS. In the middle of 2015 the Comet TV network came into existence. It specializes in showing old sf TV episodes, and selected movies. Among its offerings is my childhood favorite – Men Into Space, which was on the air for one season in 1959.
According to Wikipedia, Comet has affiliation agreements with television stations in 78 media markets encompassing 33 states and the District of Columbia. The nearest station to me airing this content is KDOC in Orange County.
(7) BOWIE TRIBUTE 1. Molly Lewis and Marian Call (both singers of nerdy songs and frequent performers at Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage and Paul and Storm’s W00tstock variety show) cover “Space Oddity,” but only using the thousand most common words in the style of Randall Munroe’s Up Goer 5 and Thing Explainer:
(8) BOWIE TRIBUTE 2. Laurel and Hardy dance to “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie.
So I was thinking about the lack of imagination in the prequels versus the Force Awakens. And some of that’s evident in the costumes.
Because I just saw a picture of Obi-Wan… and he’s wearing basically the same outfit in the prequels that he wears in A New Hope. Which implies that Obi-Wan basically has dressed the same for, well, his entire fucking life. He retreated to Tatooine as part of a secret mission, wearing what are clearly fucking Jedi robes in retrospect, and Lucas didn’t care because, well, the characters weren’t what he cared about.
How ridiculous is it that someone would wear the same outfit for seventy years if he wasn’t some sort of bizarre cartoon character or performer? Especially if he went into hiding?
This discussion is not new, even with regard to Mr. Martin. Way back in 2009, Neil Gaiman addressed this issue in a blog post where he stated quite memorably that “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch”:
People are not machines. Writers and artists aren’t machines.
You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you.
No such contract existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading, and I assume that you enjoyed it because you want to know what happens next.
So that’s one end of the spectrum: that writing is an art, that it can’t be forced, that trying to force it is wrong, and that writers have no obligation to their readers to force anything. …
So George R.R. Martin may not be your bitch, but I most certainly am. Writing is not something that happens only sometimes: it’s my job, and I do it every day. And as for accountability, I absolutely feel that I’m accountable to my readers. They are the whole reason I am able to do this in the first place. If that makes me their bitch, then so be it.
[Charlie of the BrickVault channel,] a Lego-loving YouTuber followed instructions posted online to build a more than 6,000-piece Star Wars AT-AT in 26 hours and posted time-lapse footage online….
The BrickVault team said it took thousands of dollars to procure all of the supplies from website BrickLink, far more than the $218.99 price tag for Lego’s official 1,137-piece AT-AT kit.
(12) BUT CAN YOU TUNA FISH? This has been rightly captioned a “Bizarre Star Wars Japanese Commercial.” Aired in 1978, it shows galactic peace being achieved with canned tuna fish.
[Thanks to Mark-kitteh, Steven H Silver, James H. Burns, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Wendy Gale, and Lorcan Nagle for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
Artists — how do you feel about someone who says, “Give us your ideas for free. If we decide we like one of them, we’ll use it for our own personal branding and for our own prestige. We will hire someone to make multiple images of it and that person will not receive compensation either. We have zero respect for any of you as working professionals.”
That’s right. Your ideas and your work — for nothing.
It’s an extremely unprofessional message, and it’s not one that befits experienced professionals. It says to all of its members — writers, editors, agents, publishers — that the organization doesn’t value its own branding enough to properly invest in it. That’s very sad to see.
The online retailer made the decision to pull the ads amid widespread coverage of the wrap, which cover half the 42nd Street shuttle’s seats in decals of the American flag with the stars replaced by an emblem that closely resembles the Nazi Reichsadler, the heraldic eagle used by the Third Reich. The other side features a recreation of a World War II-era Japanese flag in red, white and blue….
Straphanger Ann Toback was disturbed to find the posters wallpapered on the Grand Central shuttle.
“Hate speech, hate insignia requires a response when you see it, you don’t just say, ‘oh, it’s New York,” said Toback. “You see, you have a choice to stare at the Japanese empire insignia or the Nazi insignia.”
A spokesman for the MTA said there were no grounds to reject the ads because they do not violate the authority’s content-neutral ad standards, which only prohibits advertising that disparages an individual or group. ..
Some activists and officials, however, expressed outrage that the advertisements were allowed to run.
“As a Jew, I am offended, and as a New Yorker, I am embarrassed,” said state Rep. Jeffrey Dinowitz. “The MTA should be ashamed of themselves and this ignorant advertising campaign, as it is offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans.”
Mayor de Blasio also decried the ads, calling them “irresponsible.”
…Not everyone was bothered by the marketing. One rider said, “It’s not like the end of the world, it’s not specifically targeting a group of people. It’s just for a show.”
Dick’s original version would never be allowed on American television: the political realities of our time forbid it. Empires are founded on mythologies – narratives in which historical events are interpreted in a way that justifies the status quo, and crowds out any dissenting version, consigning the truth – if such there is – to the margins.
(6) At National Review Online, Katherine Timpf discusses how she got death threats after she joked on the Fox News Channel comedy show Red Eye “I have never had any interest in watching space nerds poke each other with their little space nerd sticks, and I’m not going to start now.”
“Yesterday I tweeted something, and all I said was that I wasn’t familiar with Star Wars because I’ve been too busy liking cool things and being attractive.”
Now, I received a few death threats right after I posted the aforementioned tweet — which, by the way, was why I was saying Star Wars fans were “crazy” in the first place. Overall, though, it wasn’t a big deal, and I kind of forgot about it.
Then, this week, one Star Wars super-super-super fan who calls himself “AlphaOmegaSin” made a ten-minute (!) video brutally ripping me apart.
American culture and cinema often glorifies space travel, from the heroic early adventurers of “The Right Stuff” to the more recent rescue of Matt Damon’s astronaut character from Mars in “The Martian.”
But the reality is less glamorous, with journeys into deep space posing serious dangers to astronauts that include inadequate food, radiation exposure and heightened risks of developing cancer and other maladies. And NASA is not yet ready to handle those dangers as it moves ahead with plans to send the first human mission to Mars by the 2030s, according to a recent audit.
NASA inspector general Paul K. Martin found that the legendary space agency “faces significant challenges” ensuring the safety of any Mars-bound astronauts, and that its schedule to limit the risks is overly “optimistic.” As a result, he said, Mars crews likely will have to accept more risks to their health and safety than their predecessors who went to the moon and work in the International Space Station.
Last year we featured artwork from the Dune movie that never was, a collaboration between Alejandro Jodorowsky, the mysticism-minded Chilean director of such oft-described-as-mind-blowing pictures as El Topo and The Holy Mountain, and the artist Jean Giraud, better known as Mœbius, creator of oft-described-as-mind-blowing comics as Arzach, Blueberry, and The Airtight Garage. If ever a meeting of two creative minds made more sense, I haven’t heard about it. Alas, Jodorowsky and Mœbius’ work didn’t lead to their own Dune movie, but it didn’t mark the end of their artistic partnership, as anyone who’s read The Incal knows full well.
Telling a metaphysical, satirical, space-operatic story in the form of comic books originally published throughout the 1980s (with sequel and prequel series to come over the following 25 years), The Incalon the page became the fullest realization of Jodorowsky and Mœbius’ combined vision.
(9) Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas.
“But more significant,” notes the Washington Post, “was the landing of the rocket booster, which descended, flew through 119 mph high-altitude crosswinds and touched down on the landing pad by firing its engine again. The company based in Kent, Wash., said it landed just four-and-a-half feet from the center.”
There’s only one problem with Dagny Taggart — she doesn’t exist. Evidence collected and examined by The Washington Post suggests that Taggart (who is named for a character in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”) is a made-up identity used by an Argentine man named Alexis Pablo Marrocco. Marrocco, meanwhile — and other self-described “Kindle entrepreneurs” like him — form part of a growing industry of “Amazon catfish.”
The catfishing process varies according to the specific “entrepreneur” using it, but it typically follows the same general steps: After hiring a remote worker to write an e-book for the Kindle marketplace, Amazon’s e-book store, publishers put it up for sale under the name and bio of a fictional expert. Frequently, Kindle entrepreneurs will then buy or trade for good book reviews. (Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.)
At the end of this process, they hope to have a Kindle store bestseller: something with a catchy title about a hot topic, such as gambling addiction or weight loss.
“Making money with Kindle is by far the easiest and fastest way to get started making money on the Internet today,” enthuses one video that promises to guide viewers to riches. “You don’t even need to write the books yourself!”
(13) ‘Tis the season to break this out again: WKRP “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly” Thanksgiving
[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster, Amy Sterling Casil, Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, and Tom Galloway for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day GP.]
Science fiction artist Richard Powers is among the Society of Illustrators’ newest Hall of Fame inductees, along with Beatrix Potter, Peter de Seve, Marshall Arisman, Guy Billout, Rolf Armstrong, and William Glackens. Since 1958, the Society of Illustrators has elected to its Hall of Fame artists recognized for their “distinguished achievement in the art of illustration.”
Richard Powers was a hugely influential science fiction illustrator throughout the 1950s and ’60s…
Powers was dedicated to a fine art career alongside of his commercial work—the influences of modern art were clear throughout his illustration. While trends switched towards more literal and rendered illustration in the ’80s to ’90s, Powers is still beloved today. This year’s World Fantasy Convention mounted a special exhibit of nearly 90 Powers paintings and collages.
We talk a lot of about writers and stories on Tor.com but we always strive to give equal attention to our visual presentation. We are indebted to the artists who work tirelessly to make us, and our stories, look good and connect to readers. With that in mind, I’m sure you can appreciate how delighted and honored I am that 12 illustrations for Tor.com Publishing have been selected for this year’s Society of Illustrators annual exhibition.
(4) Simon Spanton, associate publisher at Gollancz, left Orion on November 20. Orion said Spanton was leaving the publisher after 19 years “by mutual agreement.”
Spanton joined Orion in 1996, having started out as a bookseller in 1986 and after a spell at Macmillan UK.
He first worked on Orion’s Millennium imprint in a wide role encompassing fiction, sports books, military history and children’s fiction before it was bought by Cassell in 1999, after which he became co-editorial director for Gollancz with Jo Fletcher. Spanton was promoted to the position of associate publisher at the sci-fi and fantasy imprint in May 2013, tasked with responsibility for “innovative acquisitions and Gollancz’s social media and community engagement, as well as continuing to publish his award-winning list to its full potential”.
There does seem to be a theme running through a lot of the fanmail I get, along these lines: people who’d stopped reading fantasy for whatever reason have been reading my work and then feeling pulled back into the genre. And that’s awesome. I love that my audience contains so many “non-traditional” fantasy fans. But this is the kind of thing that shouldn’t be happening just because of my fiction. There’s plenty of fantasy out there with “no wizards or orcs or rangers or elves”… and while I think there isn’t nearly enough fantasy out there starring middle-aged mothers of color (or biracial polyamorous proto-goddesses, or blind black women, or Asian male ex-gods with daddy issues, or gay black male assassins, or shy black female healers, or…), there’s some other stories like that out there, too. So what’s happening here, that so many ex-fantasy readers — readers who really just need one non-formulaic book to bring them back into the fold — aren’t aware that there’s stuff here they might enjoy?
Welcome to the last third of NaNoWriMo, where we all despair! Let me throw out some ideas that might help you get going again.
Finished? Ha! Go back a make a searchable mark (I use ///) everyplace where you told us about something instead of showing us, instead of pulling us into the situation.
Then go back to the start and search those out. Rewrite them. Use lots of dialog. Don’t be stiff and terse. Have some fun. Have your hero call something pink. Have your heroine disagree. “Don’t be silly! It’s obviously a soft dusty salmon.” “It’s a fish?” Or flip the genders on it. He’s an artist, he sees these colors. Make the reader laugh. Or cry. Or get mad.
Then go to the next mark and rewrite that bit. Do them all.
Carlo Morris Cerutti was in court Monday, accused of attacking his neighbor for putting trash in his trash can on Saturday. Court documents Cerutti, 50, is charged with Assault after swinging a Klingon sword at his neighbor.
Documents said Cerutti’s wife, Joyce, had accused their neighbor of putting trash in their trash can. The neighbor told police he had gotten into argument with the wife about the trash.
“Our next door neighbor was evicted and he was throwing his stuff in our garbage can so I took it put it in a bag, took it to him and said Jr. will you please not put your stuff in our garbage can,” said Joyce.
Joyce said the incident only escalated from there.
“I turned around and he chucked the bag at me and hit me in the back and then he started throwing garbage all over my yard,” said Joyce.
The neighbor said after the argument, Cerutti came rushing out of his house with a weapon that had multiple blades and started swinging. Court documents said the neighbor put his hands up and blocked the blade from striking him. The neighbor said he was able to pull the weapon away from Cerrutti and in the process, he fell backwards off the porch. The neighbor then called 911. Documents said when police arrived on scene Cerrutti was taken into custody for Assault and was later booked into the Spokane County Jail.
Joyce said that her husband never attacked the neighbor with a sword. She said her husband did grab the Klingon sword off the wall and said he did swing it at the neighbor. She said he only did this after he barged into their home.
(8) Neal Stephenson will be at George R. R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Theatre in Santa Fe to discuss Seveneves next Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Although definitions of science fiction are tricky, it surely specializes in “What if?” – placing humans (or aliens) in an imagined scenario that has an element of science or technology in its set-up and seeing how they react. This is why Jules Verne got it so wrong about H. G. Wells when comparing their fictional voyages to the Moon. Verne remarked “It occurs to me that his stories do not repose on a very scientific basis… I make use of physics.” Yet in reality, Wells did the better job. He took an admittedly fictional means of travel, but then followed it through logically in its impact on humans. Verne took an existing technology – the cannon – and used it in a totally illogical fashion, firing his astronauts into space with a g force that would have left them as soup.
It is far more important in science fiction for the follow-through of the “what if” to be realistic and logical than it is for the setup to make a clear prediction of scientific possibility.
Gross is perhaps best remembered at National Lampoon for the 1973 “Death” issue, whose cover featured the words “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog” emblazoned over an image of a dog with a gun to its head. “This very talented comedian named Ed Bluestone came to the office in 1972 with the line,” Beard told Splitsider in 2012. “The next day Michael found a dog who would turn its eyes away from a pistol with a little prodding. I saw this picture and simply couldn’t believe it. And it was like with a wave of his left hand. Magic.”
“Jessica Jones,” the second of Netflix’s original series based on Marvel comic books (after “Daredevil”), is reluctantly superheroic. Created by Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter of five “Twilight” movies as well as a writer on TV shows including “Dexter,” and starring the acerbic Krysten Ritter of “Don’t Trust the B____ in Apartment 23,” it’s a clever 21st-century take on film noir, featuring a heroine who hides her superstrength because it’s at the root of her extreme emotional vulnerability and fear. There’s a tricky balancing act going on — crossing a moody detective show with both a comic action thriller and a woman-in-peril psychological drama — but Ms. Rosenberg proves to be mostly up to the task.
(14) Hunger Games‘ heroine Katniss Everdeen (played by comedian Whitney Avalon) and Harry Potter‘s Hermione Granger (played by actress Molly C. Quinn) are facing off in an epic edition of Princess Rap Battles.
[Thanks to Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ .]