This year, Marvel Comics is honoring the 80th anniversary of Captain America with a new collection of variant covers. Throughout July, Marvel’s ongoing series will feature reimagined versions of iconic heroes including Black Widow, Miles Morales, and Spider-Man.
See the other seven Captain American 80th Anniversary Variant Covers following the jump.
There’s an old saw from Mark Twain about how truth is stranger than fiction, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve lived through a very strange reality this past year. With all the chaos and change, we’re led to a foundational question: what’s the purpose of speculative fiction and its adjacent genres of science fiction and fantasy when so much of our world seems to already embody the fantastical worlds these works depict?
(3) MR. A MEETS MR. B. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, Isaac Asimov discusses how he met Ray Bradbury for the first time on October 8, 1965.
I went to Newark to tape a talk show with David Susskind. It was my first nationally televised talk show since ‘The Last Word’ with Bergen Evans six years before.
This one was devoted to science fiction, and along with me were Lester del Rey and Ray Bradbury. It was the first time I had ever met Ray Bradbury, though of course we knew each other from our writings well enough to be on a first-name basis at once. Neither he nor I would fly on airplanes, so since I lived in Newton (Massachusetts) and he in Los Angeles it was clear that we wouldn’t meet often.
The session was not successful. Lester was in one of his talkative moods and gave neither Ray or myself much to do anything except stare at the ceiling, and Susskind had a list of questions, silly in themselves, from which he lacked the wit to depart. It meant all the interesting starts we made were muffled or killed when he asked the next silly question.
(4) MOST INFLUENTIAL SF MOVIES. ScreenRant calls these the “10 Most Influential Sci-Fi Movies Of All Time”. John King Tarpinian sent the link with a comment: “I would have rated number six and number seven as number one and number two.” And I personally think their #1 choice is nuts.
… Within the world of movies, the sci-fi genre has given audiences some of the most unforgettable films, some of which are considered among the best ever made.
But behind some of the most popular sci-fi movies are the movies that helped to inspire them. Many of these movies remain classics in their own rights, but fans might not be aware of how influential they have been to the genre. These ambitious projects broke new ground and paved the way for beloved movies that followed….
1/10 The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix is another movie that clearly drew from a lot of different sources, but eventually became something that would in turn inspire future movies. The movie really represented what the sci-fi genre could do, which is to show the audience something they have never seen before.
It has been parodied countless times but also inspired big-budget movies to be bold and original. From the action to the special effects to the ideas of the movie, The Matrix was all about proving the impossible to be possible.
(5) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
May 2, 2008 — On this day in 2008, the first Iron Man film premiered in the United States. It was directed by Jon Favreau from a screenplay by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. It was produced by Avi Arad and Kevin Feige. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. , Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was nominated for a Hugo at Anticipation but lost out to WALL-E. Critics in general really loved it, it won a lot of awards other than a Hugo, it did great at the box office and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an exceptional rating of ninety-four percent.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 2, 1890 – E.E. Smith, Ph.D. Arrived to great applause for The Skylark of Space (three sequels), likewise Galactic Patrol (two prequels, three sequels). Four more novels, ten shorter stories; more released posthumously, some with co-authors. First author named a Worldcon Guest of Honor (Chicon I the 2nd Worldcon). Helpful to all; first to receive the Big Heart (our highest service award). First Fandom Hall of Fame; SF Hall of Fame; Life Member of N3F (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n). In college (Univ. Idaho) president of Chemistry, Chess, Mandolin & Guitar Clubs; sang bass in Gilbert & Sullivan. Super-science so dramatic in his work, adventure-story tone of his time so resonant, that his literary ability – including characterization – was neglected then and is disregarded now, alas for SF which in seeking to do what he left untried could still learn from him. (Died 1965) [JH]
Born May 2, 1921 — Satyajit Ray. Bengali filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic artist, lyricist, music composer and writer who is here for his genre fiction which fortunately has been translated into English for those like me who don’t read Bengali. Over a decade recently, three collections came in English The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other Stories, Classic Satyajit Ray and The Collected Short Stories) with most of his genre work in the collection. There are nine stories involving Professor Shonku, his most popular SF character. (Died 1992.) (CE)
Born May 2, 1924 — Theodore Bikel. I was listening the other evening to him playing Tevye in the Fiddler on the Roof (“Light One Candle” to be specific) and as always was amazed by his singing voice. He was on Next Generation in order to play the foster parent to Worf in the “Family” episode playing CPO Sergey Rozhenko, Retired. That and playing Lenonn in Babylon 5: In the Beginning are the roles I want to note. Bikel also guest-appeared on The Twilight Zone in the “Four O’Clock” as Oliver Crangle. Well there is one minor other role he did — he voiced Aragon in the animated The Return of the King. By the way, Theodore Bikel’s Treasury of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs is quite excellent. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born May 2, 1925 — John Neville. I’ve mentioned before that Kage considered Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be one of her favorite films and John Neville was one of the reasons that she did so. You can read her review here. Among his other genre roles, Neville had a prominent recurring role in The X-Files as The Well Manicured Man. And he showed up playing Sir Isaac Newton on The Next Generation in the “Descent” episode. (Died 2011 (CE)
Born May 2, 1938 – Bob Null. Served twenty terms as LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.) vice-president. Often handled Logistics for Loscons (local convention), local Worldcons. Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon XXIII. Three-time recipient of Evans-Freehafer Award (service to LASFS); only one other person (Elayne Pelz) has done this since 1959 when the Award was first given. (Died 2010) [JH]
Born May 2, 1942 — Alexis Kanner. His first genre appearance was on The Prisoner where he so impressed McGoohan in the “Living in Harmony” episode that he created a specific role for him in the series finale, “Fall Out” where he stands trial. He also has an uncredited role in “The Girl Who Was Death” in that series. His final known acting role was as Sor in Nightfall based off the Asimov story of the same name. (Died 2003.) (CE)
Born May 2, 1946 — David Suchet, 75. Though rather obviously better remembered as Hercule Poirot, he does show up on in a Twelfth Doctor story, “Knock Knock”, simply called Landlord. Don’t let that deceive you. He’s appeared in some other genre work from time times to time including Greystoke — The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Harry and the Hendersons, Dr. No — The Radio Play, Wing Commander, Tales of the Unexpected and Peter Pan Goes Wrong. (CE)
Born May 2, 1948 – Anne Stuart, age 73. Ten novels, two shorter stories for us; a hundred novels all told. Three Ritas. Romance Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award. Has five sewing machines, that’s not too many. [JH]
Born May 2, 1961 – Tom Arden. Eight novels, two shorter stories. Twoscore reviews for Interzone. Ph.D. under another name, dissertation on Clarissa. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born May 2, 1972 — Dwayne Johnson, 49. Ok I wasn’t going to include him until stumbled across the fact that he’d been on Star Trek: Voyager as The Champion in the “Tsunkatse” episode. Who saw him there? Of course it’s not his only genre role as he was the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, played Agent 23 in Get Smart, voiced Captain Charles T. Baker In Planet 51, was the tooth fairy in, errr, the Tooth Fairy, was Hank Parsons in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, was Roadblock in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Anyone watch these?), was a very buff Hercules in Hercules, voiced Maui in Moana, was Dr. Smolder Bravestone in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (not on my bucket list) and was one of the Executive Producers of Shazam! which gets a Huh from me. (CE)
Born May 2, 1977 – Jessica Douglas, age 44. One cover, half a dozen interiors for us. “I show in galleries and museums around the world…. I primarily work in watercolors with gemstone additions. Most of my gemstones are bought from fellow rockhounders.” Here is Double Yule Dragon. Here is a narwhal. She made this Oroboros for Conduit 25 where she was a Guest of Honor. Here is No Place Like London. Here is The Grain Moon. [JH]
Born May 2, 1980 – Rachel Harris, age 41. Three novels for us; a dozen others. Drinks Diet Mountain Dew. Homeschool mom. “Bookish people are the best people in the world.” [JH]
Born May 2, 1983 – Jodi Meadows, age 38. A dozen novels (three with co-authors), half a dozen shorter stories. “I love crocheting, knitting, and spinning. In addition to several hand spindles, I share my office with three spinning wheels, named Bob, Rose, and Gideon.” Has read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, five by Jane Austen, Of Mice and Men, The Martian Chronicles. [JH]
As a teenager growing up in the wildest days of the 1960s counterculture, Shary Flenniken bristled at the sleepy Magnolia neighborhood where her family had settled. She dreamed of finding adventure in far-off New York City and San Francisco, and her Seattle upbringing felt like a dreary dead end in comparison.
To while away the time until she could leave Magnolia behind, Flenniken told me over the phone recently, she got lost in her parents’ bookshelves. “They had really nice, big collections ofNew Yorker cartoons and Superman comics,” Flenniken says, and she’d soak up every line. “I just devoured that stuff. I was a super-reader.” Her father, a Navy admiral, was an amateur cartoonist, but his tolerance for irreverence only went so far. “My dad pretty much ripped up my early MAD magazines,” Flenniken says. “He was like that.”
… “Having a regular character is very important if you want to be successful doing comics, so your work should be character-driven,” she says. Flenniken decided to center her strip on a rebellious teenage girl not unlike herself. “I named her Bonnie, after a dog I had as a child,” she says. But every protagonist needs a sidekick to talk to, and so Flenniken sketched out Bonnie’s sardonic talking dog and named him Trots, “which had something to do with, um, pooping,” she says.
“Trots and Bonnie” ran in National Lampoon for 18 years, and the strip’s juxtaposition of elegant old-fashioned cartooning skill and filthy ultramodern comedy attracted a rabid fan base of cartooning aficionados. Bonnie and her faithful pup represent Flenniken’s raging id, let loose in retrospect on the manicured lawns of Magnolia….
… On Saturday evening, the crew climbed aboard their spacecraft, which had remained fixed to the space station’s docking ports since the astronauts arrived in November. They undocked from the ISS at 8:37 pm ET, and will spend the night aboard their capsule as it freeflies through orbit. The spacecraft fire up its on-board engines to start safely descending back into the Earth’s thick atmosphere, and it’ll use a series of parachutes to slow its decent before splashing down off the coast Florida Sunday morning around 2:57 am ET….
…“We welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,” mission control radioed moments after splashdown. “For those of you enrolled in our frequent flyer programme, you’ve earned 68m miles on this voyage.”
“We’ll take those miles,” said spacecraft commander Mike Hopkins. “Are they transferrable?” SpaceX replied that the astronauts would have to check with the company’s marketing department….
(10) TO MARS WITH TINKERBELL. The Adventurelandia.tumblr has photos and GIFs from Disneyland’s 1957 Mars and Beyond TV episode.
For most people, getting to the stars is nothing more than a dream. On April 28, 2001, Dennis Tito achieved that lifelong goal – but he wasn’t a typical astronaut. Tito, a wealthy businessman, paid US$20 million for a seat on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to be the first tourist to visit the International Space Station. Only seven people have followed suit in the 20 years since, but that number is poised to double in the next 12 months alone.
NASA has long been hesitant to play host to space tourists, so Russia – looking for sources of money post-Cold War in the 1990s and 2000s – has been the only option available for those looking for this kind of extreme adventure. However, it seems the rise of private space companies is going to make it easier for regular people to experience space.
From my perspective as a space policy analyst, I see the beginning of an era in which more people can experience space. With companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin hoping to build a future for humanity in space, space tourism is a way to demonstrate both the safety and reliability of space travel to the general public….
[Thanks to Michael Toman, JJ, John A Arkansaawyer, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
The title Everything Change is drawn from a quote by Margaret Atwood, our first Imagination and Climate Futures lecturer in 2014. The contest and anthology are presented by the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University, a partnership of the Center for Science and the Imagination and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
Stories by: Barakat Akinsiku, Amanda Baldeneaux, J.R. Burgmann, Mason Carr, Scott Dorsch, Sigrid Marianne Gayangos, Kathryn E. Hill, Jules Hogan, Anya Ow, Natasha Seymour
(2) PENNSIC WAR DELAYED AGAIN. The Society for Creative Anachronism’s Pennsic War will not happen again in 2021, however, a non-SCA event called Armistice will be run at the same site. Here are excerpts from the official explanations:
From the Mayor: Pennsic War 49
G’Day Everyone When taking office in the position of Mayor for Pennsic 49 I made a promise to everyone. That promise was that above all else, I would endeavour to run a fiscally responsible and safe Pennsic 49. It was my dear friend and mentor Viscount Sir Edward that said to me “The people that attend this event are Pennsic, take care of them.” I promised him I would. Then COVID 19 hit and the entire world was plunged into a crisis, the like of which we have not witnessed in our lifetimes. Over the past few months, I have been in constant discussions with The Pennsic Seneschals Group (PSG), The President of the SCA Inc, Coopers Lake Management and my Pennsic Senior Executive Group. In addition, I have seen the comments from many of you and listened to the comments from my Deputy Mayors and their staff. I have kept you all updated as much as possible so that you all understand my decision-making process and so that you understand the path I am walking when I make decisions. Although change is happening and things are getting better, I must deal with the now, rather than what I think it may be like in 3 months’ time and unfortunately our vendors needs for commitment and certainty are requiring us to make commitments earlier than we originally intended. As Mayor of Pennsic 49, I was entrusted with, the welfare and safety of the entire Pennsic Family. It is therefore with great sadness that I must inform you today that, I have decided to Postpone Pennsic 49 for another 12 months to 2022. The new dates for Pennsic 49 will be 29 July 2022 – 14 August 2022. This has been an exceedingly difficult decision to make but I trust you understand the reasoning behind it. …Yours in Service, Sir Gregory of Loch Swan Mayor Pennsic 49
To explain a little further, I just want to put a couple of ‘Myths” that are circulating to bed and for people to clearly understand a few things that have and are happening behind the scenes.
Please understand that SCA, Pennsic staff, and Coopers management are jointly working together to find a solution. A separate, non-SCA event Armistice was the best joint solution that solved the issues of liability, allowed the business to survive, and provided an event for folks.
1. We needed to make a decision earlier because as PA (Just talking about our PA based Support services) started to emerge from the pandemic and slowly ramp up their businesses to pre-pandemic levels over the next 6 months, vendors need some certainty about their future commitment for everything from Portaloos to Waste Disposal bookings. We could not commit to that as the Pennsic War considering the current rules the SCA has in place today for SCA events. That was one consideration in our decision.
2. …All these decisions were made in concert with the SCA, the Pennsic Financial Committee, and the Coopers management working together to determine the best path forward for this summer.
3. For the Pennsic War to survive for another 20+ years, we need to support the main business that has supported us over these many years, Cooper’s Lake Campground and many of the smaller businesses and merchants that rely on Pennsic for part of their yearly income. They have survived 18 months of no business income and forced closure. That is tough for any business, let alone one, like Coopers Lake, that solely depends on campers and events. To that end we have been in discussions with the Coopers Lake Management for weeks about their options to survive. Armistice is that option.
4. Armistice “IS NOT” taking over from the Pennsic War. The Coopers Lake Management don’t want that at all. This is a one off event to help them through another tough year and is supported by Pennsic War and many Pennsic staff will be working to make Armistice event successful. It’s an option that gives those that wish to camp and relax with friends in PA, under PA health Guidelines the option to do so in a relaxed medieval environment.
5. We are all adults. Many have asked how to support the Coopers, well I’d suggest that this is a way of doing that, even if you can’t attend the event. I registered even though it is likely I won’t be able to attend, given current international travel rules.
6. This “Is Not” an SCA event. It is a Coopers Lake event run under their rules and insurance.
I hope that clears up some of the questions. Simple language, we knew about this alternate event, were consulted and even offered our expertise to support it. I know, there will be those that want to see some hidden secret SMOF type agenda, but those that know me, know that isn’t the case….
…The above image comes to us from a now-deleted Twitter post, which was shared a few hundred times ahead of its mysterious disappearance. Both the social media account and said billboard encourage Marvel fans to use the hashtag #BringBackTonyStarkToLife on April 24th, marks the two-year anniversary of Avengers: Endgame.
…It seems the Marvel fans behind the campaign want to see Iron Man/Tony Stark get a happy ending in the MCU. A number of characters fell throughout Infinity War and Endgame, including Black Widow. But Tony’s death hit especially hard, and his funeral scene was an emotional one considering Pepper Potts and their daughter Morgan.
While both Natasha and Tony died in Avengers: Endgame, Captain America was given a chance at a happy ending. After returning the Infinity Stones to their proper place in the timeline, Steve went back and lived his happy ending with Peggy Carter. It’s likely due to this that fans want to see Iron Man get the same treatment.
Still, it seems unlikely that Tony Stark would somehow be brought back to life in the MCU. The Russo Brothers have spoken about the importance of real stakes, and that includes death scenes. Tony Stark’s death wrapped up the character’s arc, and showed the real sacrifices that come with saving the galaxy.
(4) FIYAHCON PLANS. FIYAHCON 2021, a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction, will be held September 16-19.
…The event is hosted by FIYAH Literary Magazine and carries a variety of entertaining and educational content surrounding the business, craft, and community of speculative literature. The inaugural event took place in October of 2020 to great acclaim, and we look forward to doing it all again this year!
Get ready for three-point-five days of dynamic, entertaining content with BIPOC at the center of speculative literature discourse! The event takes place September 16-19, 2021 and includes panels, presentations, games, office hours, write-ins, workshops, kickbacks, and more.
Where the magazine is focused specifically on the elevation of Black voices in short speculative fiction, FIYAHCON seeks to center the perspectives and experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The reasoning is that Black voices are not the least represented in the field, and we don’t want to exclude groups who are already systemically excluded from other spaces….
Ever since Sandra Bullock MacGyver’d her way from mid-orbit chaos back down to earth in Alfonso Cuarón’s show-stopping thriller Gravity, we’ve seen a rise in briskly efficient sci-fi competency porn. It’s a subgenre of films working off the thrill of watching high-stakes problem-solving, of professionals using their reality-rooted smarts to deal with fantastical situations. We’ve since seen Matt Damon use botany in The Martian, Amy Adams use linguistics in Arrival, Natalie Portman use cellular biology in Annihilation and Chris Pratt use Jennifer Lawrence in the unintentionally creepy Passengers. Just a few months after Netflix ventured into similar territory with George Clooney’s business first, emotion later drama The Midnight Sky, they’re taking us up into the stars with Stowaway, a late-stage acquisition title that should scratch that itch a little more successfully….
(6) TUBERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the April 21 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber discusses the rise of virtual YouTubers, or “VTubers.”
CodeMiko is a video game character without a game. The pink-haired avatar lives on Twitch, the live streaming platform owned by Amazon, where she chats with her half-million fans and interviews internet personalities in a signature style marked by absurdist humour and non sequiturs. Her videos are immensely enjoyable, and they might just signal the next frontier of digital entertainment.
Controlling Miko is a human actress and programmer wearing a motion capture suit, known only as ‘The Technician.’ When The Technician moves or speaks, the Miko avatar mimics her precisely on screen. This set up is a variation on the virtual YouTuber, or VTuber, a phenomenon where live streamers host videos as fictional characters, masked behind cutesy anime avatars.. As of last October, VTuber streams on YouTube were wracking up more than 1.5bn views a month. It may seem curious that audiences choose animated figures over real humans, but the VTuber concept offers striking advantages to both streamers and viewers.
… Elon Musk might get people to Mars but we’ll discover two things. Living on Mars will not be the romantic fantasy that science fiction fans have always dreamed, and leaving Earth won’t save us. We’ll probably also return to the Moon, but we’ll discover trying to colonize it will be nearly impossible and we’ll learn the true value of the Earth and its biosystem that was so perfect for us.
As the years progress and the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases and the percentage of habitable land decreases I believe our desire for space travel will wane. We won’t have to wait for dramatic sea level rise for everyone to be convinced, heat waves will start to kill millions. Just read the first chapter of The Ministry for the Future to understand. I expect events like it will come true sometime this decade. We won’t need to see drowned cities to know the disciples of Ayn Rand have doomed us. Increasing weather catastrophes, declining food production, and mass migrations of refuges will make it plain enough we made the wrong decisions and believed the wrong people….
(8) CON WILL REQUIRE ATTENDEES BE VACCINATED. Blerdcon, to be held July 16-18 in Washington, D.C., announced on Facebook they have decided to make Blerdcon 2021 “a vaccine mandated event (even if you HAD covid and recovered).”
…Only those having received their completed vaccine regiment and showing their Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card at registration will be admitted into the convention. This extends to all staff, volunteers, vendors, contractors and sponsors.
The community simply has too much to lose and nothing to gain by taking on any unnecessary risks, even as we anticipate low infection/high vaccination rates for mid-July. So we are adding this to our other anti-covid measures: outdoor parties and events, spaced seating in all panel rooms, mask mandate for all indoor spaces, sanitation stations, nightly cleaning.
… The synopsis was originally found on the official Penguin Random House website, and while it has since been removed it is still publicly available to view on other sites. When contacted by RadioTimes.com, the BBC declined to comment on “speculation.”
(10) POWELL OBIT. Costume designer Anthony Powell died April 18 at the age of 85 reports Deadline. Powell won multiple awards for non-genre productions — a Tony Award for the costumes of 1963’s School for Scandal, and Oscars in 1972 for Travels with My Aunt 1978 for Death on the Nile and in 1979 for Tess. He received the Costume Designers Guild’s Career Achievement Award in 2000. For genre work he earned Academy Award nominations for Pirates (1986), Hook (1991) and 102 Dalmatians (2000) (for the costumes of Glenn Close’s Cruella de Vil). His other credits included Sorcerer, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 101 Dalmatians, The Avengers, The Ninth Gate and Miss Potter, the 2006 Beatrix Potter biopic.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 22, 2005 — On this day in 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise went where the original series and Deep Space Nine had gone before as they ventured into the Mirror Universe with “In A Mirror Darkly” with the first part of a two-part adventure in the program’s fourth season. (Star Trek: Discovery would later retcon itself into this universe.) It was written by Mike Sussman who got his start on Star Trek: Voyager and wrote nearly thirty Trek episodes across the two series.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 22, 1887 – Kurt Wiese. A score of covers, many interiors for Walter Brooks’ Freddy the Pigbooks. Among much else, here is Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea; Caldecott Honor for You Can Write Chinese. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born April 22, 1899 – Vladimir Nabokov. Scientist, poet, translator, critic, teacher, fiction author, memoirist. Said he didn’t like SF but wrote some anyway, e.g. “Lance”. Superb treatment of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Metamorphosis” in Lectures on Literature. (Died 1977) [JH]
Born April 21, 1902 — Philip Latham. Name used by Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, with the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comback novel starts this way: ‘ When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .’ It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.) (CE)
Born April 22, 1928 – Robert Schulz. Two dozen covers. Here is The Sword of Rhiannon. Here is The Caves of Steel. Here is Space Tug.Here is Beyond Time and Space. (Died 1978) [JH]
Born April 21, 1937 — Jack Nicholson, 84. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim Burton’s The Batman. (CE)
Born April 21, 1977 — Kate Baker, 44. Editor along with with Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace of the last two print issues of Clarkesworld . She won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award (Special Award: Non Professional in 2014, all alongside the editorial staff of Clarkesworld . She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear it here. Warning it has as subject matters abuse and suicide. (CE)
Born April 21, 1984 — Michelle Ryan, 37. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”. She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. FinallyI’ll note sheplayed Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare. (CE)
Born April 22, 1943 – Louise Glück, age 78. Her poem “Circe’s Power” is anthologized here. In The Wild Iris flowers talk with a gardener and an “unreachable father”. Pulitzer Prize, William Carlos Williams Award, Bollingen Prize, U.S. Poet Laureate 2003-2004, Nat’l Humanities Medal, Nobel Prize. Professor at Yale. [JH]
Born April 21, 1944 — Damien Broderick, 77. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality” in SF. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good. (CE)
Born April 22, 1966 – Marie Javins, age 55. Editor-in-chief at DC Comics. Has done Marvel too, e.g. prose adaptation of graphic novel Iron Man: In extremis; with James Gunn, The Art of “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Colorist. Travel writer. Website. [JH]
Born April 22, 1989 – Catherine Banner, age 32. Three novels for us, the first when she was 19; another outside our field well received. Lives in Turin. “I underwent a shift, as all writers who continue writing beyond adolescence probably do, from thinking ‘What story shall I write?’ to asking, instead, the more pertinent question, the one which can sustain a lifetime of work: ‘How can I do justice to this story I feel I must tell?’” [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro reveals the surprise ending to a crime story.
Jeopardy! has unveiled the final group of season 37 guest hosts, with Robin Roberts, LeVar Burton and George Stephanopoulous among the TV personalities set to lead the popular trivia game.
Executive producer Mike Richards revealed that David Faber, who is a former Celebrity Jeopardy! champion, and Joe Buck will also step up to the lectern to wrap up the game show’s 37th season. Previous season 37 guest hosts, who have stepped in for the late longtime host Alex Trebek, include Anderson Cooper, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Savannah Guthrie, Bill Whitaker, Mayim Bialik, Katie Couric and Aaron Rodgers.
(15) RITE GUD. Raquel S. Benedict has released more Rite Gud podcast episodes. (Previously identified in this space by her initials, she is now going by her full name.)
What makes a writer? Is it coffee and cats? Is it a good author photo? Is it having a screenname like @JaneDoeWrites? Is it in your soul, in your bones, in your DNA? Is it collecting photos of books and sharing writing memes and penning endless posts about writing (specifically, about how much you hate it)? In this episode, Carmilla Mary Morrell joins us to talk about the dark secret of being a writer: you have to fucking write. We also discuss the problem of defining people by rigid identities and the Doctrine of Dog Cum.
If you’ve spent any time talking about geek culture, you’ve probably seen one word come up over and over again: gatekeeper. To be a gatekeeper is bad. To be a gatekeeper is exclusionary and harmful and discriminatory.
The internet was supposed to get rid of gatekeepers and usher in a new, democratic era of content, an era free of inequality or bias or those evil old boogeymen called gatekeepers. But is it really? Are we really getting rid of gatekeepers, or are we just replacing the old gatekeepers with new ones?
In this episode, Colin Broadmoor joins us to talk about fandom, The Monk, and why fiction should hurt.
If you’re into science fiction and fantasy, you might have heard of something called hopepunk. Hopepunk, according to its supporters, is a creative movement that believes that producing and consuming optimistic fiction will make the world a better place. But does hopepunk really offer meaningful hope and revolution, or is it just a way to numb yourself and hide from the world?
In this episode, Sid Oozeley gets on the mic to talk about how all fiction is escapist: the only question is, what are you escaping from?
With Baby Yoda and Din Djarin as ringside spectators, you might think there’d be galactic levels of pressure not to foul up a task — even if it’s something as casual as a game of Star Wars Pinball. But in Oculus’ big quest (pun intended) to bring the galaxy far, far away and other big-name game franchises to its family of VR platforms, it all actually ends up feeling pretty fun….
For its VR upgrade, Star Wars Pinball isn’t just replaying the classics, it’s also roping in newcomers to Lucasfilm’s ever-expanding galaxy. In addition to familiar tables based on the original films, watch for a pair of new themes created specifically for VR, as well as franchise newcomers straight out of The Mandalorian. While Oculus unveiled the new look, its Quest platforms aren’t the only place you’ll be able to hone your virtual skills; in addition to Oculus Quest 1 & 2, Star Wars Pinball is also headed to Steam VR and PlayStation VR on April 29….
Originally, it was Lynell George’s mother who was the Octavia Butler fan. A Los Angeles-based English teacher for 30 years, George’s mother would hand Butler’s books to students who didn’t like reading; “‘What are you interested in? Who are you? Oh, here, this is for you’,” she recalls. Once, she brought George along to a Butler reading in Pasadena, California, and George describes the awe she felt seeing Butler in person for the first time: “There was something very powerful about this tall, Black woman walking to the bookstore and sitting inches away from me—it was a small store—to talk about her work, to talk about writing.”…
(18) ZOOM WITH OKUNGBOWA. Powell’s Books presents Suyi Davies Okungbowa in conversation with S. A. Chakraborty on May 18, at 5:00 PM Pacific. Register for the Zoom webinar here.
From Suyi Davies Okungbowa, one of the most exciting new storytellers in epic fantasy, comes Son of the Storm (Orbit), a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic set in a world inspired by the precolonial empires of West Africa. In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness — only he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy. But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire. Okungbowa will be joined in conversation by S. A. Chakraborty, author of The Daevabad Trilogy.
In November 1971, a debut novel from a young author was published, to a small but not insignificant splash. Set in a world of tiny people who live in a carpet, it was described by the book trade journal Smith’s Trade News as “one of the most original tots’ tomes to hit the bookshops for many a decade”, while Teachers’ News called it a story of “quite extraordinary quality”.
The unknown author was Terry Pratchett, and the book was The Carpet People. This week, publisher Penguin Random House Children’s is releasing a 50th-anniversary edition, with Doctor Who and Good Omens star David Tennant reading the new audiobook.
“Terry would have loved knowing that David was going to do it,” said Rob Wilkins, Pratchett’s former assistant and friend who now manages the Pratchett estate. “David was a Doctor Who that really mattered in the Pratchett household, so he would have been so thrilled.”…
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “How WandaVision Should Have Ended” on YouTube, the How It Should Have Ended Team thinks WandaVision would be better with the addition of several DC superheroes, Mel Gibson, and Keanu Reeves! QUITE POSSIBLY SPOILERS.
[Thanks to Peer, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Andrew Porter, Cliff, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, JJ, Raquel S. Benedict, IanP, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) MILO BANNED FROM FURRY CON. Midwest Furfest denied Milo Yiannopoulos from
attending their event this December. “Hate
is not welcome at Midwest FurFest. We are dedicated to providing a safe,
harassment-free convention experience for all, regardless of age, race, gender,
gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical
appearance, or personal beliefs,” organizers wrote.
Yiannopoulos announced he was attending the convention on his Telegram messaging channel—one of the only social platforms that still welcomes him after he was banned for life from Twitter. The right-wing persona non grata wrote that he has adopted a snow leopard “fursona,” and shared a picture of his ticket purchase to the convention to be held in December outside Chicago.
The fur community is not a monolith, however. A group called “Furry Raiders,” whose leader dresses up as a fox with a red paw-print armband, spoke out in support of Milo, posting a picture with what appears to be his “fursona.”
More history about the Furry Raiders is available on Wikifur.
In the Early Gamers category, Snail Sprint and The Mind were both Nominated, and Drop It and Megaland were both Recommended. Catch the Moon, designed by Fabien Riffaud and Juan Rodriguez, was named the 2019 American Tabletop Award Winner.
For Casual Games, Shadows: Amsterdam and Space Base were Nominated, and Just One and Gizmos were Recommended. The 2019 American Tabletop Award Winner for this category is The Quacks of Quedlinburg, designed by Wolfgang Warsch.
The Strategy Games category saw Architects of the West Kingdom and Heroes of Land, Air, and Sea earn Nominated, and Coimbra and Cryptid were Recommended by the Committee. The 2019 American Tabletop Award Winner for Strategy Games is Chronicles of Crime, designed by David Cicurel.
In Complex Games, Betrayal Legacy and Brass: Birmingham were both Nominated and Teotihuacan: City of Gods and Gùg?ng were both recommended. The 2019 American Tabletop Award Winner for Complex Games is Root, designed by Cole Wehrle.
…A counterfeit, in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, was something else altogether: it was an obvious distortion mocking the original; in a Christian cosmology, a counterfeit was Lucifer’s mockery of God’s creation. The closest concept to it that we have today are the inhabitants of DC Comics’ “bizarro” universe. Not only was a counterfeit a mockery; it was understood to be an uncanny, grotesque mockery. Some conquistadors who arrived in the New World believed that they had found a counterfeit hemisphere, where the largest city’s centre was not a basilica but a step pyramid where priests performed a human sacrifice every forty minutes. The armadillo was a strong piece of evidence for this theory: it was obviously a counterfeit turtle.
Because they are uncanny, grotesque and jarring, there is much power in the counterfeit. The orcs, Tolkien’s counterfeit elves, trolls, Tolkien’s counterfeit ents—they strike fear into their opponents’ hearts simply by being, by mocking and denigrating creation itself. They constitute an ontological attack on the cosmic order simply by having existed. That they might triumph over real elves and real ents is not just a bad tactical situation; it is a sign that the cosmic order, itself, is in retreat.
The global death cult we are fighting understands that. And, consequently, it is not just trolling us at the level of conversation but at the level of existence….
In many of the posts, she suggests a drink that the logo could adorn, from a Caramel Carl Frappuccino for the old man from Up to a Blue Genie Mocha Frappuccino (that one you should be able to figure out). She also includes multiple characters in most posts, so make sure you swipe through and don’t miss any of them.
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 16, 1963 — The Outer Limits first aired. The first episode was “The Galaxy Being” which was written by Leslie Stevens and starred Lee Philips, Jacqueline Scott and Cliff Robertson.
September 16, 1977 — Logan’s Run as the program began its first and only season. The series starred Gregory Harrison as Logan 5, and Heather Menzies as Jessica 6.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 16, 1898 — Hans Augusto Rey. German-born American illustrator and author best remembered for the beloved Curious George children’s book series that he and his wife Margret Rey created from 1939 to 1966. And his interest in astronomy led to him drawing star maps which are still use in such publications as Donald H. Menzel’s A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. A simpler version for children called Find the Constellations, is still in print as well. (Died 1977.)
Born September 16, 1930 — Anne Francis. You’ll remember her best as Altaira “Alta” Morbius on Forbidden Planet. She also appeared twice in The Twilight Zone (“The After Hours” and “Jess-Belle”). She was in multiple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She’d even appear twice in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and played several roles on Fantasy Island as well. (Died 2011.)
Born September 16, 1932 — Karen Anderson. Wife and sometimes co-author of Poul Anderson, and mother-in-law of writer Greg Bear. She wrote fiction herself, and also with her husband and others. The King of Ys series is co-authoured with Poul. Lee Gold holds that she’s the first person to use the term filk music in print. (Died 2018.)
Born September 16, 1927 — Peter Falk. His best-remembered genre role is in The Princess Bride as the Grandfather who narrates the Story. He also plays Ramos Clemente in “The Mirror”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. And he’s Reverend Theo Kerr in the 2001 version of The Lost World. (Died 2011.)
Born September 16, 1952 — Lisa Tuttle, 67. Tuttle won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, received a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute”, which she refused, and a BSFA Award for Short Fiction for “In Translation”. My favorite works by her include Catwitch, The Silver Bough and her Ghosts and Other Loverscollection.
Born September 16, 1954 — Ralph Eugene Vaughan, 65. Author of the Sherlock Holmes in the Cthulhu Mythos Adventures. Really, I’m not kidding. He started off with Sherlock Holmes in the Adventure of the Ancient Gods before writing (at least to date) four more. And then he wrote two Holmesian steampunk novels in a series called The Steampunk Adventures of Folkestone & Hand as well, the first being Shadows Against the Empire: An Interplanetary Steampunk.
Born September 16, 1960 — Kurt Busiek, 59. Writer whose work includes the Marvels limited series, his own outstanding Astro City series, and a very long run on The Avengers. He also worked at Dark Horse where he did Conan #1–28 and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles #1–8.
Born September 16, 1960 — Mike Mignola, 59. The Hellboy stories of course are definitely worth reading. His Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is an amazing What If story, and the B.P.R.D. stories are quite too.
DC Comics’ revival of the Legion of Superheroes kicked off last month with the first appearance of the new Legion in Superman #14, sending the future heroes back in time to witness the creation of the United Planets at the core of their 31st Century superhero team. That idea comes courtesy of Jonathan “Superboy” Kent, and the Legion arrives with a proposition for Superman’s teenage son. Following the conclusion of the Rogol Zaar storyline, Brian Michael Bendis and Ivan Reis embark on the next phase of their Superman title, continuing to lean into the cosmic aspect of the character by bringing in the Legion. Joined by inkers Oclair Albert and Joe Prado, colorist Alex Sinclair, and letterer Dave Sharpe, Bendis and Reis give the new Legion an enthusiastic welcome while reinforcing the intergalactic prominence of Superman and his family, which only increases over the next millennium.
Scientists have reconstructed the tumultuous history of a lost continent hidden underneath Southern Europe, which has been formally named “Greater Adria” in a new study.
This ancient landmass broke free from the supercontinent Gondwana more than 200 million years ago and roamed for another 100 million years before it gradually plunged underneath the Northern Mediterranean basin.
… Greater Adria was about the size of Greenland when it slammed into Europe during the mid-Cretaceous period. At that time, most of the continent was covered by a shallow sea that supported a thriving ecosystem built around tropical reefs.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporatedreally got weird with guest stars and cameos, but one of their most perplexing gets was notoriously idiosyncratic sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison in the first-season episode “The Shrieking Madness.” The whole thing is a Lovecraft riff, and Ellison voices himself. The animators de-aged him to his 1970s appearance and made him an instructor at fictional Darrow University. When one of his students poses as mythical Elder God from beyond space and time Char Gar Gothakon, the gang leans on Ellison’s vast experience to expose the fraudulent tentacled beast.
(15) RESCUED FROM IRON MAN’S SCRAPHEAP. Via a tweet at MCU
Direct, Marvel released a never-before shown alternate ending to Iron
Man where Nick Fury talks about “radioactive bug bites” and
“mutants” years before Spider-Man and the X-Men
rejoined the Marvel Creative Universe.
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Lenore Jean Jones,Mike Kennedy, Mark Hepworth, Karl-Johan Norén, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Nancy Sauer, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Jim Reynolds, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) ASTOUNDING AWARD. CoNZealand will use the new name immediately. (At least one very well-known business meeting regular has been trying behind the scenes to convince other conrunners they don’t have the authority to make the change, and failed.)
Ng, who wrote the fantasy novel “Under the Pendulum Sun,” said in an interview on Wednesday that she was delighted by the decision. “It’s a good move away from honoring a completely obnoxious man who kept a lot of people out of the genre, who kept a lot of people from writing, who shaped the genre to his own image.” Thanks to the change, she added, “we’re now celebrating a little more neutrally a piece of history that’s not attached to his name.”
Becky Chambers just earned a Hugo Award for her blisteringly optimistic Wayfarers trilogy, and coming off that win, she’s shifting gears with a new, standalone novella, To Be Taught, If Fortunate. In the 22nd century, scientists make a big breakthrough that will help astronauts adapt to the harsh realities of space, opening up distant destinations in the cosmos to human explorers.
One team of astronauts ventures out to a solar system 15 light years away, and as they transform and adapt to their new home, so too is Earth. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that “Chambers packs an immense amount of story into a novella worthy of full-length praise.”
TAKEAWAYS. Eric Wong and
Greg Hullender cover their Ireland tour and Dublin 2019 in “Dublin
2019 Recap “. Says Greg, “Yeah, it had a few issues, but we had fun.”
Greg was on the “Fanzines Now!” panel, and that was the only panel we participated in this year. This panel was a discussion about the state of fanzines today. We had a good mix of people doing online fanzines (Rocket Stack Rank, Journey Planet, and Nerds of a Feather Flock Together) as well as Joe Siclari, who runs the Fanac History Project.
As usual for fanzine panels, the audience included lots of people involved with the traditional paper-based fanzines. Somewhat to our surprise, they were broadly supportive of modern online efforts. Joe remarked at one point that he had thought he’d be the conservative one on the panel, but he found himself standing up for the idea that “a blog is a fanzine, even if it only has one contributor, and even if no one ever comments on it.”
In 1979, the year before he was awarded the World Fantasy Professional Award, DMG published Acts of Providence, The Road of Azrael, Lack Colossus, The Black Wolf, Tales of the Werewolf Clan, Jewels ofGwahlur, Lovecraft’s Providence and Adjacent Parts, Mayhem on Bear Creek, and Hawks of Outremer.
The year after Grant won the award, Stephen King approached him with the rights to publish the first edition of any and all books in the Dark Tower series. King didn’t believe they would have a wide appeal among his general audience.
(5) TIPTREE DISCUSSION. Geoff
Ryman’s thoughts about the call to rename the award (which the Motherboard
today declined to do) is here on
Facebook and attracted comments from writers including David Gerrold, Nisi
Shawl and Eileen Gunn.
(6) MONGOLIAN HANDMAID. Ferret Bueller checks in from a
Mongolian bookstore once again. (Eat your heart out Locus!)
I don’t think I’ve had free time to visit File770 more than three times the past several months, but I saw the newest Mongolian SFF translation at the bookstore near my office today and immediately thought I’d pass on a picture if anyone was interested?. First is the full view and then the picture cropped to give a good look at the book at the top left, Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale (the translation of the title is exact). It’s next to Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in a Time of Cholera (though that title is rendered in Mongolian as Love in a Time of Plague), both of which were released about a month or two ago, maybe longer.
(7) DICKS OBIT. Perhaps the most prolific contributor to Doctor
Who, Terence Dicks (1935-2019) died August 29. Working as a writer and also serving as the program’s script
editor from 1968 to 1974, he was credited in 156 episodes of Doctor
Who. He wrote several Doctor Who serials and scores of novelizations. His final short story Save Yourself will be published next month in BBC Books’ Doctor Who: The Target Storybook. He wrote for TV’s The Avengers, the soap opera Crossroads,
and co-created and wrote for the series Moonbase 3. He also worked as a
producer on Sunday Classics. He authored several children’s series,
including about a cat call Magnificent Max and, his longest running, another
about a golden retriever The Adventures of Goliath. He received the 2015 Scribe Grandmaster career award for
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 2, 1899 — Martin Miller. He’s in Doctor Who with the First Doctor as Kublai Khan in “Mighty Kublai Khan” and “Assassin at Peking”. He’s Professor Spencer in The Avengers in “The Master Minds” and he shows up in The Prisoner as Number Fifty Four in “It’s Your Funeral”. He also showed up as Dutrov in Department S in the series finale, “The Perfect Operation”. (Died 1969)
Born September 2, 1909 — David Stern III. Creator of the Francis the Talking Mule character that became the star of seven popular Universal-International film comedies. Stern adapting his own script for the first entry, simply titled Francis. (Died 2003.)
Born September 2, 1911 — Eileen Way. She appeared on Doctor Who in An Unearthly Child, a First Doctor story, as Old Mother Karela the series first on-screen death, and in The Creature from the Pit, a Fourth Doctor story, as Karela. She would appear yet again in the 1966 Peter Cushing film Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (as Old Woman), based on the serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth. (Died 1994.)
Born September 2, 1936 — Gwyn Thomas. Welsh poet and academic who translated Tales from the Mabinogion with Kevin Crossley-Holland. “Chwedl Taliesin”, “The Tale of Taliesin” was a short story by them as well. By the way my SJW credit is named Taliesin. And he tells a lots of tales. (Died 2016.)
Born September 2, 1964 — Keanu Reeves, 55. Ok Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a lot better film than its sequel. And I find the Matrix franchiseto be a pretentious mess that almost works. And let’s not talk about Johnny Mnemonic which bore little resemblance to the brilliant Gibson story.
Born September 2, 1966 — Salma Hayek, 53. Her performance as Santanico Pandemonium in From Dusk till Dawn is quite excellent. I can’t say the same for her performance as Rita Escobar in Wild Wild Wild West which got her nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. I do like her as Francesca Giggles in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.
Born September 2, 1968 — Kristen Cloke, 51. Captain Shane Vansen in the unfortunately short-lived Space: Above and Beyond, a damn fine series. She has one-offs in Quantum Leap, The X-Files, Millennium and The Others. She co-wrote with Shannon Hamblin an episode of The X-Files, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” which is base64 code for “Followers”.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as Batman’s arch-nemesis in a new origin-story movie. But is this dark, dingy drama any better than any of the other supervillain films?
Now that Hollywood studios are running out of superheroes to make films about, they’re turning to supervillains instead, starting with Suicide Squad and Venom, and moving onto Batman’s smiley-faced arch enemy, the Joker. Todd Phillips’ revisionist origin story is different from those other entries in the bad-guy sub-genre, though. Devoid of fist fights and bank robberies, Batcaves and Batmobiles, Joker is a dark, dingy drama about urban decay, alienation, and anti-capitalist protests, with a distinctive retro vision and a riveting central performance by Joaquin Phoenix. Whether these differences make it much better than other supervillain movies, however, is open to question.
The film doesn’t specify when it is set, but its Gotham City is modelled on the graffiti-sprayed, litter-strewn pre-gentrification New York of Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy. This is the home of Arthur Fleck, played by Phoenix as a greasy, disturbingly emaciated figure with ribs and vertebrae poking out at all angles. No male actor has been this skinny since Christian Bale – yes, Batman himself – starved himself to stick-insect proportions for The Machinist.
…The film traces his gradual uncovering of family secrets, and his slow descent into homicidal mania – and I do mean slow. Joker doesn’t have much of a plot, let alone any subplots, so there are only a couple of major sequences that haven’t already been in the trailers. Phoenix is a magnificent presence – always believable, how outrageous he becomes – and I was quite happy to sit and watch him skipping around in his outsized shoes and striking balletic poses on beautifully grimy staircases. But, however unusual its grungy 70s styling may be, Joker is ultimately nothing but a flimsy, two-hour supervillain origin movie, so the viewer is just waiting for Arthur to become the fully-fledged Clown Prince of Crime. If it had been chopped down to an hour and then intercut with a Batman plot, what a film that might have been.
In May 1937, John W. Campbell, Jr. was looking for work. He was in good company — the unemployment rate in the United States was fluctuating around 15%, reflecting the lingering economic malaise of the Great Depression. Despite his degree in Physics and some success as a writer of science fiction stories, Campbell hadn’t found a steady gig.
This was to change in the Fall of that year when Campbell was hired as the Editor of Astounding Stories, where he reigned until his death in 1971….
The bottom of this page begins a critical passage that relates Campbell’s relationship with Mort Weisinger, a former editor of Science Fiction Digest / Fantasy Manazine, the most prominent fanzine of the mid-1930s. At the time of this letter, Weisinger had crossed into the professional ranks as Editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories.
This page essentially says that Weisinger taught Campbell how to be an editor, and wrote a letter of recommendation for him in that vein. It seems likely that both the advice and the reference played key roles in Campbell acquiring his job at Astounding. This is a tremendous testament to the role that prominent fans played in establishing science fiction as an industry during this period.
What do hideous mall t-shirts, emo bands from the mid-aughts, and gorgeously-wrought realist novels about dissolving marriages have in common? Simply this assertion: Life Sucks. And it does suck, undoubtedly, even for the happiest and/or richest among us, not one of whom is immune from heartbreak, hemorrhoids, or getting mercilessly ridiculed online.
Still, at certain points in life’s parade of humiliation and physical decay almost all of us feel a longing—sometimes fleeting, sometimes sustained—for it to never actually end. The live-forever impulse is, we know, driving all manner of frantic, crackpot-ish behavior in the fringier corners of the tech-world; but will the nerds really pull through for us on this one? What are our actual chances, at this moment in time, of living forever? For this week’s Giz Asks, we spoke with a number of experts to find out.
Answers are essayed by Alice
Parker (“Dean’s Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering,
University of Southern California, whose research focuses on
reverse-engineering the human brain, among other things”), Lindsay Wu (“Senior Research Fellow and Co-Head
of the Laboratory for Ageing Research at the University of New South Wales,
Sydney”), David Sinclair (“Professor of Genetics and
co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard
Medical School, whose research focuses on why we age and how to slow its
effects”), and Mark
McCormick (“Assistant Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular
Biology, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center”).
In the nearly two decades since a co-founder of Dragon Con was accused of molesting teenage boys, a strange legal odyssey has unfolded, including a proposed move to Israel, a trial delay because of a presidential election and an extradition by air ambulance.
Now, Ed Kramer faces new charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
As one Disney movie continues succeeding at the box office, another falls another spot down on the all-time charts. Thanks to another steady weekend at the box office, The Lion King hyper-realistic reimagining has passed Joss Whedon’s fan-favorite The Avengers on the worldwide all-time box office chart. The Lion King is now seventh on the chart with $1.56 billion while the Marvel Studios hit drops to eighth with $1.52b.
It appears that’s the highest Jon Favreau’s remake will go on the worldwide charts as Jurassic World is sixth with a hefty $1.67b.
Three full truck loads of dinosaur fossils were shipped out of the “Mission Jurassic” dig site in North Wyoming as scientists brought the 80-day excavation season to an end.
The specimens included skeletal parts from giant herbivorous sauropods and meat-eating theropods.
The fossils will now be cleaned to see precisely which species they represent.
Mission Jurassic is a major undertaking involving researchers from the US, the UK and the Netherlands.
It is led by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (TCMI) which has taken out a 20-year lease on a square mile (260 hectares) of ranch land.
The BBC was given special access to the site in July.
The fossil beds exposed at the secret location in the Big Horn Basin record dinosaur activity around 150 million years ago – and the summer’s work confirms the site is particularly rich.
One three-tonne block of rock lifted on the final day last week was embedded with multiple remains all stacked one on top of the other.
“Overall we must have moved something like 500-600 bones; it’s just a huge amount of material we’ve been able to shift in one year,” said Prof Phil Manning, a University of Manchester palaeontologist and TCMI scientist in residence.
A British inventor has taken up the challenge to deliver a letter across open water through donning a jet engine-powered suit, 85 years after the idea of rocket post failed.
Richard Browning has followed in the footsteps of German entrepreneur Gerhard Zucker, who tried to send mail by rocket to the Isle of Wight, in 1934.
The distance from Hurst Castle in Lymington to Fort Albert in Freshwater is 1.3 km, and is the furthest Richard has ever flown.
(18) MEANWHILE, IN THE REAL WORLD. BBC reminds
everyone about “The ‘ghost work’ powering tech magic”. Chip
Hitchcock notes, “It’s ironic that Amazon’s collaborative tool is named
Mechanical Turk, considering the fraud behind the original.”
Armies of workers help power the technological wizardry that is reshaping our lives – but they are invisible and their jobs are precarious.
Next time you ask Alexa a question, your voice might fly halfway round the world to Chennai, India, where human workers toil away to fine tune her artificial intelligence- (AI-) powered responses.
In nine-hour shifts workers transcribe audio, classify words and phrases into categories, and evaluate responses from Amazon’s digital assistant. It’s one of many Amazon centres around the world where “data associates” prepare millions of chunks of data to train Alexa’s AI.
The work can be relentless, says a former employee. He was crunching roughly 700 Alexa questions a day with strict benchmarks for how long each should take. Workers’ performance figures were circulated daily and targets crept up over the time he spent there. The work was monotonous, but the volume and pace were mentally exhausting, and he eventually quit.
“It’s not possible to work like a machine every day,” he says. “The system is built in such a way that every time you have to give 100%. From the point of a human, it’s not possible.”
To users, digital assistants, search engines, social media and streaming services seem like software wizardry, but their smooth running relies on armies of humans whose contribution often goes unrecognised.
(19) WIKIPEDIA TODAY. When he saw the Wikipedia had selected “the Nebula Award for Best Short story” for on Today’s Featured Article, John King Tarpinian snapped his screen. So to speak.
There are so many words and phrases that we use in science fiction—and even science—without giving it much thought. But where did we get terms like “death ray,” “terraforming,” “hive mind,” “telepathy,” and “parallel universe”?
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Egg” on YouTube is an animated adaptation of a short
story by Andy Weir about the meaning of life
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Rich Horton, Mike Kennedy, JJ,
Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Darrah Chavey, Cat Eldridge, Hampus
Eckerman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Contrarius.]
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the series that changed the way fans look at super heroes, the landmark MARVELS is back. In the year 1939, young photojournalist Phil Sheldon attends the sensational unveiling of the fiery android Human Torch — little knowing he is witnessing the dawn of the Age of Marvels.
Prepare to relive Marvel’s Golden Age from a whole new point of view as Phil covers the superhuman sightings of the 1930s and 1940s — from the terror caused by the Human Torch’s epic clash with the Sub-Mariner to the patriotism stirred by the debut of Captain America and more. This unique look back at the MARVELS phenomenon is packed with extras and completely remastered.
Lauded as “a classic and watershed moment for the industry” by IGN and “a landmark” by Publisher’s Weekly, fans are invited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed series MARVELS.
In February, MARVELS ANNOTATED kicks off the series with never-before-seen commentary from Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. Read the original MARVELS series with new covers and insight from the creators themselves.
Marvel also will release exclusive monthly MARVELS 25th anniversary variant covers, painted by the legendary Alex Ross, starting with FANTASTIC FOUR #6 in January, TONY STARK: IRON MAN #9 in February, and THE IMMORTAL HULK #15 in March. Later in June, 20 artists will come together to pay tribute in a MARVELS 25th anniversary homage variant program across Marvel’s most popular titles.
(1) VISIONS OF WFC 44. Ellen Datlow’s photos from World Fantasy Con 2018 are up on Flickr.
(2) DESIGNING WAKANDA. Black Panther designer Hannah Beachler spoke to the CityLab Detroit conference about what went into designing the capital city of Wakanda for the blockbuster movie. Social responsibility and connection to culture were critical in her designs of everything from street plans to public transit — “The Social Responsibility of Wakanda’s Golden City” at CityLab.
… It took ten months and 500 pages to design Golden City, the thriving Afrofuturist capital of Wakanda. The result is a stunning, complex metropolis that has delighted urbanist nerds and city-dwellers alike. Behind it all is Beachler, a production designer whose job is to act as “cinematic architect” and to create the “landscape of a story.”
…“You know what’s keeping us together: the connectivity of people, not the connectivity of users. We’re not users; we’re people, but we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re users,” she said. “So I took all of that, and I just chucked it out of Wakanda, because the people were the most important thing about it, and we’re forgetting it. And I think that’s why people responded to Wakanda on this massive level: people.”
The plea went out a few weeks ago from the bookstore in a port city in southern England: “Care to lend a hand?”
Volunteers were needed for “heavy manual work” in shifts. It was “essential” that they be able to lift and carry boxes and office supplies. Among the supplies: thousands upon thousands of books.
The appeal from October Books, a nonprofit that began 40 years ago as a “radical” bookshop, came after a rent increase forced it from its old home in Southampton, Jess Haynes, a member of the collective and one of the few paid employees, said on Wednesday.
The shop was looking to move lock, stock and barrel about 150 meters (just under 500 feet) to a three-story building that used to house a bank. Would anybody respond to the call for help?
This past Sunday, the bookstore got more than a helping hand — it got hundreds. A human chain began forming from the old October Books stockroom, snaking past 54 doors to the new building. The shop stopped counting after about 250 people showed up…
(4) GLASS UNIVERSE. Dava Sobel, the author of Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, will be talking about her latest book The Glass Universe in the Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory (in Laurel, Maryland) on Friday, November 9 at 2 p.m. This talk is open to the public held at the Parsons auditorium (directions here). A summary of the talk is below (taken from this link):
Edward Pickering, who took over as director of the Harvard College Observatory in 1877, was a physicist, not an astronomer. Pickering quickly moved to expand activities beyond determining the positions of stars and the orbits of asteroids, moons, and comets. He invented new instruments for studying stellar brightness to help quantify the changes in variable stars. He introduced photography as a boon to celestial mapping and a key to characterizing the spectra of stars. The images that Pickering began amassing on glass plates in the late 19th century came to number in the hundreds of thousands and are currently being digitized to preserve their enduring value. Their abundance of pictures necessitated a special building to house them and a large team of assistants – nearly all women – to analyze them.
Pickering’s glass universe gave these women the means to make discoveries that still resonate today. Williamina Fleming, Antonia Maury, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon, and Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin, the most famous members of the group, all played a part in the early development of astrophysics.
(5) BABY. Heath Miller and Cat Valente share their parental discoveries:
Attending Worldcon in 2010 & meeting a girl? $200. Moving 15,000+ miles to be with her? $2500. Cost of having a baby in America? You Don’t Want To Know. Unwrapping baby’s swaddle at 6am to discover his mother has secretly changed his outfit in the night? Priceless. pic.twitter.com/mcx1oQAJZR
“When I first began the series a couple of years ago, I thought it was a great idea to do an adventure about going to Mars and we should make it as real as we possibly could,” Mr Howard says.
“But I wasn’t sure I believed in the idea of going to Mars. I knew I believed in the idea of space exploration… and any show that advocated that was making a statement that was healthy and positive for human beings – to inspire their imaginations to look outward.
“But as I have gone through the process of working on the show and interviewing some of the big thinkers, I now really do believe in it strategically – I don’t mean that from a military standpoint, I mean it from the point of the ongoing evolution of the human species… I not only believe it’s viable, I’m a big supporter.”
Season one of Mars followed the crew of the spacecraft Daedalus, as the astronauts attempted to create a pioneer settlement on the Red Planet in 2033. Season two is set nine years later and follows the fortunes of the first fully-fledged colony. The script tackles the everyday challenges of the settlers, including the first births on the Red Planet, outbreaks of disease and mechanical breakdowns.
Dallas-based Heritage Auctions says the item that sold for the highest price, $468,500, at Saturday’s auction was Armstrong’s spacecraft ID plate from Apollo 11’s lunar module Eagle. Also sold were a fragment from the propeller and a section of the wing from the Wright brothers’ Flyer, the first heavier-than-air self-powered aircraft, which each sold for $275,000.
The flight suit Armstrong wore aboard Gemini 8, the 1966 mission that performed the first docking of two spacecraft in flight, brought the astronaut’s family $109,375.
(a) In a separate auction, a gold-colored Navy aviator’s helmet once owned by John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, sold for $46,250.
(b) It appears there were some flown artifacts in the Armstrong auction (but not the Glenn auction)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
Born November 5, 1903 – H. Warner Munn, Writer and Poet known in genre for his early stories in Weird Tales in the 20s and 30s, his Atlantean/Arthurian fantasy saga, and his later stories about The Werewolf Clan. After making two mistakes in his first published genre story, he compensated by becoming a meticulous researcher and intricate plotter. His work became popular again in the 70s after Donald Wollheim and Lin Carter sought him out to write sequels to the first novel in his Merlin’s Godson series, which had been serialized in Weird Tales in 1939, and they published those novels as part of their Ballantine and Del Rey adult fantasy lines. The third novel in the series received World Fantasy and Mythopoeic Award nominations, he himself was nominated three times for the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and he was Guest of Honor at the 1978 World Fantasy Convention. He won the Balrog Award for Poet twice in the 80s, and received the Clark Ashton Smith Award for Poetry.
Born November 5, 1938 – James Steranko, 80, Artist, Illustrator, Writer, Publisher, and Magician who is noted for his work in the comic book and graphic novel industry. His breakthough was the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. feature in Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales, and the subsequent series, in the 60s. His design sensibility would become widespread within and without the comics industry, affecting even Raiders of the Lost Ark and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which he created conceptual art and character designs. He also produced several dozen covers and illustrations for genre novels and anthologies in the 60s and 70s. His two-volume history of the birth and early years of comic books established him as a historian of the field. He received and Inkpot Award and Dragon Con’s Julie Award, and was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.
Born November 5, 1940 – Butch Honeck, 78, Sculptor and Fan who learned mechanics, welding, machining, and metal finishing as a teenager, then went on to build a foundry and teach himself to cast bronze so he could create shapes that were too complex for welding. His bronze fantasy sculptures, which depict dragons, mythical creatures, wizards, and other fantasy-oriented themes, use the lost wax method with ceramic shell molds and are characterized by intricate details, mechanical components, humor, and surprise. He has been Artist Guest of Honor at several conventions, was named to Archon’s Hall of Fame, and won a Chesley Award for Best Three-Dimensional Art.
Born November 5, 1942 – Frank Gasperik, Writer, Filker, and Fan who was a close friend to Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. He was Tuckerized as a character in several novels, including in Lucifer’s Hammer as Mark Czescu, in Footfall as Harry Reddington (aka Hairy Red), and in Fallen Angels. His own genre writing in collaboration with filker Leslie Fish resulted in a novella in Pournelle’s Co-Dominium universe, and an unfinished work which Fish completed for him after his death, at John F. Carr’s request. He was a well-known filker in that community; here he is doing “The Green Hills of Earth”. He died in 2007.
Born November 5, 1944 – Carole Nelson Douglas, 74, Writer and Editor who has produced a fantasy series and several genre series which are mysteries with a supernatural twist, including one which showcases Arthur Conan Doyle’s minor Sherlockian character Irene Adler as a brilliant investigator. But I’m here to pitch to you her SJW credential series instead (and dissenters can now go elsewhere) in the form of her Midnight Louie series, which was inspired by a classified ad seeking an adoptive home for a big black cat. Each novel is told in part from the point of view of Midnight Louie; the cat himself speaks in a style which some say is like that of a Damon Runyon character. Great dearies, lovely premise.
Born November 5, 1958 – Robert Patrick, 60, Actor and Producer best known in genre as FBI Special Agent John Doggett in The X-Files series, as the T-1000, the main adversary of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and a main role in the alien abduction movie Fire in the Sky – all of which netted him Saturn nominations. He has had a main role in the TV series Scorpion, and recurring roles in True Blood and From Dusk till Dawn. He has also appeared in a lengthy list of genre movies, including The Last Action Hero, Asylum, Future Hunters, Warlords from Hell, Alien Trespass, and Double Dragon, and episodes of Stargate: Atlantis, Lost, Tales from the Crypt, and The (new) Outer Limits.
Born November 5, 1960 – Tilda Swinton, 58, Oscar-winning Actor who is well-known to genre fans as the evil White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia films, for which she received a Saturn nomination; roles in the films The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Doctor Strange won her Saturn trophies. She played the long-lived main character in Orlando, computing pioneer Ada Lovelace in the film Conceiving Ada, and had parts in Constantine, Snowpiercer, The Zero Theorem, and the upcoming zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die.
Born November 5, 1964 – Famke Janssen, 54, Actor who started out as a fashion model, and then had an acting career breakthrough as an unknown in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was followed quickly by appearances in genre films Lord of Illusions, Deep Rising, and House on Haunted Hill, then her 15-year genre role as Jean Grey / Phoenix in the numerous X-Men films, for which she won a Saturn Award. Since then, she has had main roles in the horror series Hemlock Grove and the supernatural social media film Status Update.
Born November 5, 1968 – Sam Rockwell, 50, Oscar-winning Actor who is probably best known as !Spoiler alert! (just kidding) Guy Fleegman, a redshirt in the Star Trek homage Galaxy Quest, whose character initially simply exists for comic relief but transcends that casting by the end of the Hugo-winning film. He also played Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, had parts in The Green Mile, Iron Man 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Cowboys & Aliens, and voice a lead role as a guinea pig in the animated Disney film G-Force.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Off the Mark cleverly juxtaposes James Bond and Poe to trigger this punchline.
(11) LOOKING FOR THE GOLDEN AGE. David M. Barnett (@davidmbarnett) of the UK-based Independent newspaper uses Alec Nevala-Lee’s Astounding as a jumping-off point to explore the ongoing diversification of science fiction authorship and audiences. In “Out of this world: The rise and fall of Planet Sci-fi’s ‘competent man’” he offers a perspective on John W. Campbell’s legacy, both negative and positive, and puts recent events in science fiction fandom in context for a popular audience. Registration required.
Campbell was what he was, and he did what he did. He didn’t create science fiction, nor did he own it. It was an important period in history, but one that has passed. Science fiction today is new and wondrous and inclusive, and perhaps, in years to come, historians will be referring to this, not the Campbell era, as the true Golden Age.
…The above cataloguing of recent atrocities isn’t exhaustive. If the world isn’t truly ending, it’s certainly in the midst of several significant crisis. And in moments of crises, we at The Rumpus find solace in, and draw strength from, literature. Below is a list of books our editors think are especially appropriate to read right now, in this fraught political moment….
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okrafor
In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means “Who fears death?” in an ancient language. Even as a child, Onye manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.
(13) ARE YOU TRACKING WITH ME? There will be a Traincon to the 2019 NASFiC / Westercon / 1632 Minicon happening in Layton, UT next July. Well, two Traincons might be more accurate, since organizers want to have one running to the con from Chicago and another from the San Francisco Bay Area (and return). More information at the link.
Join your fellow fans on Amtrak for the trip to Spikecon and then back home. We’ll have fun on the train, getting together periodically to discuss SF, the con, or anything that comes to mind. Games and filk, too, if anyone is so inclined – all with old friends and new. While you’re at it, don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The train from the Bay Area (Traincon West) crosses the Sierra Nevada, the one from Chicago (Traincon East) crosses the spectacular Rockies, both in full daylight.
There will be no group reservation for this Traincon; members will need to make their own individual Amtrak reservations; early reservations are recommended for the best prices…..
The organizers are Bill Thomasson and Nancy Alegria.
(14) HOTEL WATCHING IN NZ. The Comfort Hotel in Wellington (venue for some recent NZ NatCon’s and about a km from WorldCon venues) will be renamed and refurbished.
Renovations for the 115-room Comfort Hotel will begin after March 2019 with expected completion at the end of that year, for rebranding as Naumi Heritage Wellington.
The Quality Hotel renovations will also be completed about the same time, and be rebranded as Naumi Suites Wellington with 62 rooms.
…The theme of the hotel refurbishments in Wellington will be “romantic Edwardian age meets literary bohemian”, according to a Naumi media statement – “a space that embraces diversity and steadfastly refuses to be boring”.
While some may accuse the genre of being formulaic (fools), romance does indeed have some of the greatest tropes of any kind of story. Enemies to lovers, fake dating becoming real, the good old “oh no there’s only one bed in this hotel room I guess we have to share,” all of these tropes are at once familiar and thrilling. The building blocks may be the same, but each swoony outcome has its own sense of magic.
In particular, time travel and other time-related complications pop up again and again. Whether they’re communicating via time bending mailbox (The Lake House), kept apart by centuries as a plastic centurion (Doctor Who), or powered by genetic anomalies both charming (About Time) and devastating (The Time Traveler’s Wife), this obstacle has long been a popular stalwart in the romantic canon.
Astronomers in Hungary say they’ve detected a pair of what some call “ghost moons” orbiting our planet not far from the moon we all know.
The hazy clouds of dust — tens of thousands of miles across but too faint to be seen with the naked eye — were first detected almost 60 years ago by a Polish astronomer, Kazimierz Kordylewski. But the patches of light he found were too indistinct to convince some scientists that the clouds were really there, and the existence of the “Kordylewski clouds” has long been a matter of controversy.
Now the astronomers, Gabor Horvath and Judit Sliz-Balogh of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, have obtained clear evidence of the clouds using a specially equipped telescope in a private observatory in western Hungary.
Midway through Christopher Nolan’s 2008 movie The Dark Knight, the Joker gets himself arrested so that he can then break out of his holding cell and continue his grand experiment in human darkness. While he’s locked up, he’s placed in the custody of the Major Crimes Unit, the police force that’s supposedly been devoted to locking up Batman. In the movie, people keep referring to the Major Crimes Unit as the MCU. As in: “There’s a problem at the MCU!” Watching it today, you might hurt your neck doing double-takes at those initials every time. The Dark Knight, as it happens, came out at the last moment that “MCU” could possibly refer to anything related to Batman.
Today, of course, we know the MCU as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the steamrolling blockbuster-generating engine that has become the dominant commercial force in all of moviemaking. It was never a given that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would work. By the time the people at Marvel got around to establishing their own movie studio, they’d already sold off the rights to many of their most-famous characters: Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four. Only the relative dregs were left over, and nobody knew whether a relatively minor character like Iron Man could anchor a whole movie, let alone a franchise. It was a gamble.
It was a gamble, too, to cast Robert Downey Jr., a faded star who’d spent years battling his personal demons. […]
Breihan lavishes much praise on Iron Man and notes how well it set up much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that followed, but in the end he picks The Dark Knight as the more important movie. His reasoning may surprise you and you may or may not agree with it. In part, he say:
[…] The Dark Knight made money, too; it was the highest-grossing movie of 2008. But it didn’t just make money. It was, in its moment, widely hailed as something resembling a masterpiece. When, for instance, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences failed to nominate The Dark Knight for a Best Picture Oscar, there was such a wide public outcry that the Academy changed its roles to allow for more nominees. That is an impact.
It should probably be noted that Breihan doesn’t believe The Dark Knight actually was a masterpiece, but that doesn’t diminish the impact such a perception may have had in the moment. Some of Breihan’s highest praise goes to Heath Ledger’s performance (sadly, his last) as the Joker.
[…] Ledger is legitimately disgusting: dirty and scarred-up, with yellow teeth and a tongue that’s constantly darting in and out of his mouth, like a lizard’s. But he’s magnetic, too. He tells different stories about his scars, just so we’ll know that he’s always lying. He confounds criminals as badly as he does police. He dances his way through a hospital explosion and intimidates a roomful of mob bosses. His voice—the best description I can manage is a tweaked-out Richard Nixon impression—is chilling and alien. And he seems to be in love with Batman in ways that make even Batman uncomfortable: “Don’t talk like you’re one of them. You’re not.”
Besides Iron Man and The Dark Knight, Breihan devotes a fat paragraph to a handful of other superhero movies from 2008, plus a sentence or two to several others. Finally, he promises a look at 2009’s Watchmen in the next Age of Heroes installment.
When Neil Gaiman first envisioned the Sandman, the supernatural dream lord he created 30 years ago, he thought about prison. “Before I even knew who he was,” Gaiman writes in the afterword to The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, he had the image of “a man, young, pale and naked, imprisoned in a tiny cell, waiting until his captors passed away, willing to wait until the room he was in crumbled to dust.”
Dreams and imprisonment? It’s not a connection most would make. True, dreams are just about the only thing a prisoner has of his own, but it seems odd to imagine the bringer of dreams himself trapped in a cell. As so often happens with Gaiman, though, meditating upon one of his intuitions leads you to a whole new way of thinking
(19) TUNING UP DEADPOOL. Daniel Dern recommends “Deadpool The Musical 2 – Ultimate Disney Parody!”. “The songs aren’t the best… but, among other things, it’s arguably one of the best representations of the X-Men (about halfway in), and many of the Avengers. And the last minute or two is great.”
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Errolwi, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
New work by Naomi Alderman and Juno Dawson are amongst some of the 2018 offerings for the Doctor Who list, publishing to celebrate the debut of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor this autumn.
Penguin Random House Children’s imprint BBC Children’s Books today announces its acquisition of a brand-new Doctor Who short story from Naomi Alderman, author of The Power and winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017. Ruth Knowles and Tom Rawlinson of Penguin Random House Children’s acquired World Rights to the story from Veronique Baxter. Alderman’s tale features Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor battling to save the universe alongside her close and trusted friends.
… Thirteen Doctors, 13 Stories marks Alderman’s return to the Doctor Who universe, after her 2011 novel, Borrowed Time, published by BBC Books. On 19 July, to celebrate the opening of this year’s San Diego ComicCon, BBC Books will reissue a new paperback edition of this novel, along with a new edition of collected Doctor Who stories by Jenny T. Colgan, The Triple Knife. Both will have new cover designs by artist David Wardle.
The first Hugo Award nominee from India, Mimi Mondal is a speculative fiction Dalit author. She also received the Poetry with Prakriti Prize in 2010, the Octavia E. Butler Scholarship for the Clarion West Writing Workshop in 2015 and the Immigrant Artist Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2017.
She currently lives in New York. Her first book, Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, edited with Alexandra Pierce, is a finalist for the Hugo Awards 2018 and the Locus Awards 2018….
PV: Diversity is still treated as a token in most South-Asian mainstream media – an afterthought in a circle of people that wrongly attempts to adopt “colour-blindness” and “caste-blindness” instead of having the difficult conversation about privilege. How do you think we can change that?
MM: Mainstream media is always socially conservative. New ideas and “radical” conversations always start from individual people, then smaller, newer media outlets and by the time the venerable national newspapers from the 19th century pick up those ideas, they have already achieved enough momentum to become somewhat mainstream. This is not only true of South Asia, it’s true of everywhere.
In the West about a century ago, even basic first-wave white feminism was a radical conversation that was only possible to hold in certain small circles, and the people who tried to implement those ideas in wider circles were considered nuisances creating unnecessary trouble. Today in 2018 we cannot even imagine a world without those basic first-wave feminist ideas: women should go to school, have a vote, own property, etc.
Even the occasional unintelligent celebrity who proudly declares she’s not a feminist has systematically benefited from those changes. We cannot convert everyone to our beliefs, even the ones who’ll directly benefit when those beliefs become reality, less so the ones who will lose some systemic privilege they’ve even never had to acknowledge they had….
well since i am my own BIG TIME BOSS i do not really have any deadlines except for to MYSELF and really this is the most important deadline at all. i think it is so important to CHALLANGE YOUR OWN WAY and think ‘what the heck am i capiable of?’ because the anwser is always SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU KNOW! YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU SET YOUR MIND TO! so then i will try to meet these deadlines of my own because it makes me feel good inside so anyway thats that buddy. but simple anwser is i will sometimes go to a nearby timeline where time is realtively slower than this one and that gives me a chance to write a lot and then put out new tinglers right away so when a big time event happens i can return to this timeline and be ready thanks.
(5) VR ADVENTURE. Here’s a fresh update on Utah’s Evermore Park.
A Fantasy Lover’s Dream. Fairies, dragons, trolls, and other magical creatures come alive at Evermore Park — a living experience park that brings fantasy to reality. It’s a first-of-its-kind “smart” park, combining old world mythologies and spectacular botanical gardens with stunning cutting-edge technology to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience where guests step into a story like never before.
On the first day of Google’s annual conference for developers, the company showed off a robot with a voice so convincingly human that it was able to call a salon and book a haircut – never revealing that it wasn’t a real person making the call.
My horror infographic @LitReactor has gotten a couple thousand shares; that's pretty freaking cool! https://t.co/qmQJDWgSPI Please do share with teachers, librarians, booksellers, fans, writers, readers–anyone who wants to learn about #horror or could use an assist explaining!
The telethon will be presented by the hosts of the award winningThe Horror Show with Brian Keene; Brian Keene, Dave Thomas, Mary SanGiovanni, Mike Lombardo, Geoff Cooper, and Phoebe. Luminaries from the horror genre that are confirmed to attend include Richard Chizmar, Jeff Strand, Lynne Hansen, Dan Padavona, Discipline Theory, Chet Williamson, Stephen Kozeniewski, John Urbancik, Scott Edelman, Armand Rosamilia, Chuck Buda, Ralph Bieber, Somer Canon, Drew Williams, M. Stephen Lukac, Jay Wilburn, and Christian Jensen.
Entertainment will include a live band (Discipline Theory) performing a 30-minute set and the death (or at least common sense) defying “Wheel of Lombardo”. Other events include:
Jeff Strand (author) – 10-15 minute reading
Dan Padavona (author and son of Ronnie James Dio} – an interview and then a rap battle
5:30 PM to 6:30 PM – Panel titled “So I Married A Horror Writer” with Chet and Lori Williamson, Jeff Strand and Lynn Hanson, Armand and Shelly Rose Amélia, Ralph and Cheryl Bieber Summer and Jesse Cannon Brian and Christine Picard
(13) TOLKIEN ON EXHIBIT. Horatia Harrod in “The Man who made Middle-earth” in the May 5 Financial Times has a long article about the forthcoming exhibition of 200 items from Tolkien’s papers at the Bodleiaan Library at Oxford from June 1-October 28. The 500 boxes of papers are preserved in a strongroom next to six large canisters of halon gas designed to preserve the collections. Half of Tolkien’s papers are still sealed.
Among the items to be exhibited is fan mail from Iris Murdoch, W H Auden, and “a 19-year-old Terence Pratchett.” The Bodleian is also planning to showcase the manuscripts of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit which Tolkien sold to Marquette University for 1,500 pounds in 1957. The exhibition, the first to be ticketed in the Bodleian’s history, has a website at https://tolkien.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/. [Note: Financial Times articles are usually behind a paywall. I don’t know why the link above allowed me to read the article. It may or may not work for you.]
(14) SFF THEATRE WORKSHOPS IN LONDON. Cyborphic’s “Science Fiction Theatre Research Lab” for writers, directors and performers will take place 21-24 May at the venue of the London Theatre Workshop in central London (near Bank station).
The workshops include: Introduction to Science Fiction Theatre, Adaptation, Worldbuilding, Devising Science Fiction Theatre, Directing & Writing Science Fiction Theatre.
Registration is £10 per individual workshop and £30 for the entire series.
(15) THANKS FOR PLAYING. Andrew Porter tuned in tonight’s Jeopardy! and saw this go down:
Answer: This Heinlein novel begins, “Once upon a time there was a Martian named Valentine Michael Smith”
Wrong question: “What is The Martian Chronicles?”
(16) HE’S VERY SORRY. Deadpool 2 promo — David Beckham doesn’t want to accept Deadpool’s apology.
(17) EARTH ATTACKED. And going to a soccer match might not be that safe anyway! More aliens are on the way! Occupation Official Trailer.
(18) AND ATTACKED AGAIN. The aliens are going to have to stand in line, I tell you —The Predator Teaser Trailer. In Theaters September 14, 2018.
From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black’s explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a young boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Camestros Felapton, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Dann, Nicholas Whyte, Mark Hepworth, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cmm.]
Marvel’s beloved Mary Jane Watson takes center stage next month. Fans already received a glimpse of her in the Free Comic Book Day issue of Marvel’s upcoming series, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1.
“Both the Gwen Stacy Variant Program and this month’s Venomized Variant Program were such runaway successes, we couldn’t help but try to top ourselves,” says Marvel SVP Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “And with Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert’s new Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man book on the horizon, the timing couldn’t have been better to put the spotlight on fan-favorite Mary Jane Watson.”
Today, Marvel revealed many of the variant covers that will be in comic shops this June:
(1) BLAME THOSE GUYS SOUTH OF CANADA. T. R. Napper’s “Americans Destroy Science Fiction” was passed along by JJ with the observation, “I find this piece ridiculously clueless about the history of Worldcon and the Hugo Awards, and about the actual reasons for the kerpupple and the American domination of the Awards. However, it certainly contains a different point of view, with some very valid points.”
…But let’s rewind a little. When I first started writing a few years back I heard there was this controversy in the genre. That diversity was being blocked, or rolled back, by a conservative praetorian guard of writers. My first thought was to man the barricades: to fight with those fighting for this thing they said was diversity, a concept I’ve always correlated with equity.
I worked in international aid for fifteen years. In that time, friends and colleagues of mine have been shot at, beaten, kidnapped, murdered, blown up, car-jacked, abused, and imprisoned. These horrific things were done to them because they tried to build a school for girls, or they ran a women’s empowerment program, or simply because they had the temerity to stand with the poor against a corrupt and violent social order.
So, you see, social justice, equity, are things I have a passing concern with.
The problem, I soon discovered, is that this debate is not about equity, and sure as hell isn’t about diversity. Rather, it is an inside-the-bubble conversation between two groups of American writers, each attempting to claim victim status. Worse, the boundaries of the discussion almost completely exclude non-Americans, and even within the US context there was little mention of disability, and none of class.
This particular tributary of the American culture wars is little more than tiny elite – the middle and upper-middle class of the most powerful country in the world – debating and defining diversity in the genre as a whole. It boils down to insiders arguing how to make awards more representative of 45% of the population (the middle and upper class) in a country accounting for 4% of the global population (the US).
Clan Prestige kicked me out immediately; Clan Friendship kicked me out for donating weak troops; Clan Love communicated mostly in Arabic. So I stayed awhile in the dead-silent Clan Maturity, left a week later for Clan Corgi Butts, and ended up where I always suspected I belonged: in the Trash Clan.
Following its historic first-ever flyby of Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons mission has received the green light to fly onward to an object deeper in the Kuiper Belt, known as 2014 MU69. The spacecraft’s planned rendezvous with the ancient object – considered one of the early building blocks of the solar system — is Jan. 1, 2019.
“The New Horizons mission to Pluto exceeded our expectations and even today the data from the spacecraft continue to surprise,” said NASA’s Director of Planetary Science Jim Green. “We’re excited to continue onward into the dark depths of the outer solar system to a science target that wasn’t even discovered when the spacecraft launched.”
Based upon the 2016 Planetary Mission Senior Review Panel report, NASA this week directed nine extended missions to plan for continued operations through fiscal years 2017 and 2018. Final decisions on mission extensions are contingent on the outcome of the annual budget process.
In addition to the extension of the New Horizons mission, NASA determined that the Dawn spacecraft should remain at the dwarf planet Ceres, rather than changing course to the main belt asteroid Adeona.
Green noted that NASA relies on the scientific assessment by the Senior Review Panel in making its decision on which extended mission option to approve. “The long-term monitoring of Ceres, particularly as it gets closer to perihelion – the part of its orbit with the shortest distance to the sun — has the potential to provide more significant science discoveries than a flyby of Adeona,” he said….
And there, in that weird moment of existential, Star Trek-related crisis, I was found by a band of SF academics from Oxford who I very tentatively knew, mostly through a common acquaintance with Paul Cornell (who is the Kevin Bacon of the UK SF scene). And like some kind of choir of angels they took me from the windowless confines of the convention hotel, first into the Outside, which I had almost forgotten existed, and then off to a Chinese restaurant with a bunch of other fans.
(5) SMOOTH SEGUE. Here’s where I drop in the Rob James Morgan tweet in response to Delilah S. Dawson’s fears about something literally eating authors.
@DelilahSDawson the last one concerns everyone; worldcon bear attacks are forecast to be up 200% in 2016*
In her book The Fangirl Life: A Guide to Feeling All the Feels and Learning How to Deal, Kathleen Smith, a licensed therapist, introduces readers to her own brand of fan-friendly self-help: a unique niche in therapeutic thought where Doctor Who is more important than Doctor Freud, and the feels is very real. This is her first book aimed at fangirls, but Smith has been offering sage advice to female fandom for handling anxiety, relationship troubles, and more for a long time at her site www.fangirltherapy.com.
If you enjoy flailing over badass fictional ladies or speculating endlessly over plot points, but would like to carve more space for the narrative of your own life, this is the book for you. Written by a proud fangirl who is also a licensed therapist, The Fangirl Life is a witty guide to putting your passions to use in your offline life, whether it’s learning how writing fan fiction can be a launching point for greater career endeavors, or how to avoid the myths that fictional romance perpetuates.
(7) T5S. Aaron Pound reviewed Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin for Dreaming of Other Worlds. (Haiku warning!)
Full review: There is a vague and indistinct region in between the genres of fantasy and science fiction. While some books rest comfortably on one side of this division or the other, others are happy to rest in that ambiguous zone between them, maybe from some angles a work of fantasy, and from others a work of science fiction. The Fifth Season is one of those books, with elements that make one think that the story is a pure fantasy, and others that are squarely within the realm of science fiction. Against this backdrop, Jemisin weaves a brutal story of enslavement, oppression, and anger that is at once intensely personal and breathtaking in its scope.
(8) QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Kyra: I consider SFWA to be a one-syllable word, pronounced as spelled.
For the fifth and final episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded in Las Vegas during StokerCon, I headed out to Hash House A Go Go, one of my favorite restaurants—at least in its San Diego incarnation. My breakfast there is always one of my favorite Comic-Con meals. But alas, there turned out to be more than a 90-minute wait that Sunday morning in Vegas, so I moved on to Yard House at the recommendation of my guest, Gene O’Neill, who’d eaten there earlier that weekend.
Gene, with whom I attended the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, has been nominated 11 times for the Bram Stoker Award, and has won twice, in the categories of Long Fiction and Fiction Collection.
Dubbed “The Crossroads of the Multiverse,” the small but mighty InConJunction celebrated it’s amazing 36th show this year on July 1-3, 2016, at the Marriott East in Indianapolis, IN. A fan-run convention since the beginning some 30-plus years ago, the show is organized by The Circle of Janus Science Fiction & Fantasy Club. With a heavy focus on sci-fi and fantasy, the show boasts several unique and entertaining aspects, including a fully-functional Bridge Simulator, an expansive Live Auction, a cosplay Masquerade, and specific rooms dedicated to ‘Doctor Who,’ anime, and more.
If you don’t recall, Season Seven of NuWho involved a “monster movie of the week” feel with a series of standalone episodes that built up to the departure of Amy and Rory in the midseason episode ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’, the Doctor’s first adventures with Clara Oswald, and the introduction of John Hurt as the War Doctor. But with important moments like these, how could the season have been so generally bad? Well, it sounds like the pressure of Matt Smith leaving the show and the 50th anniversary got to Moffat a little bit:
“Matt [Smith], who was a friend and ally, was leaving – I couldn’t get him to stay. It felt like everything was blowing up around me. I was staggering into the 50th, with no Doctors contracted to appear in it, battered with endless hate mail about how I hadn’t got William Hartnell back and ‘Sherlock’ series three at the same time. I was pretty miserable by the end of it, and I couldn’t bear to let that be the end.”
(12) THE LOST WORLD. “See Gigantic Prehistoric Monsters Battle Modern Lovers” when the Alex Film Society screens The Lost World (1925) on Sunday, July 10 at 2:00 p.m.
“Imagine a Lost World—millions of years old—and now found by a daring exploring party. Imagine this world still existing as in the beginning of time—with gigantic antediluvian monsters roaming it—ape men—prehistoric men living on it—fighting at every turn for existence—fighting the monsters who would devour them. And it all happens in this tremendous love and adventure drama—and people from your own world were brave enough to encounter hardships and dangers to bring back this story to you. Without doubt the biggest motion picture achievement.”
Featuring some of the biggest stars of the silent era, including Wallace Beery, Bessie Love and Lewis Stone, as well as no less than a dozen different species of dinosaur, our print of The Lost World is a fully restored version from the George Eastman House collection. Famed composer and pianist Alexander Rannie will accompany the film with the musical score that was written for the original release.
Williams debuted in Invincible Iron Man No. 7 in March of this year, and will headline a relaunched version of the title later this year as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch. Created by series writer Brian Michael Bendis — who also co-created Miles Morales, the half-black, half-Latino Spider-Man who debuted in 2011 — and artist Mike Deodato, Riri has been shown to be even more resourceful than Stark himself, and just as stubborn.
Williams’ ascension as Iron Man (The title of the series will remain the same, according to Marvel) continues a trend for replacing, or at least adding to, the traditional white male heroes with a more diverse cast over the last few years; in addition to the Miles Morales Spider-Man, Sam Wilson became Marvel’s second black Captain America in 2014, the same year that Jane Foster took over as Thor.
According to fansite Making Star Wars, television listings for ABC reveal that they plan on airing a new Star Wars special on July 15 that will also include a new three minute trailer for Rogue One.
The title of the special, Secrets of The Force Awakens, shares the same name as a making of documentary that was included in the blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
(18) JUNO. NASA posted images received from Juno as a time-lapse video of moons orbiting Jupiter.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured a unique time-lapse movie of the Galilean satellites in motion about Jupiter. The movie begins on June 12th with Juno 10 million miles from Jupiter, and ends on June 29th, 3 million miles distant. The innermost moon is volcanic Io; next in line is the ice-crusted ocean world Europa, followed by massive Ganymede, and finally, heavily cratered Callisto. Galileo observed these moons to change position with respect to Jupiter over the course of a few nights. From this observation he realized that the moons were orbiting mighty Jupiter, a truth that forever changed humanity’s understanding of our place in the cosmos. Earth was not the center of the Universe. For the first time in history, we look upon these moons as they orbit Jupiter and share in Galileo’s revelation. This is the motion of nature’s harmony.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day mc simon milligan.]