By Colleen McMahon: I recently saw Tolkien, a fictionalized telling of the
early life of that author. I enjoyed the movie, which was pretty standard
biopic fare. It hits all the tropes — childhood trauma, close friends,
inspiring mentors, war experiences, and young love, ending just as he began
writing his most famous works.
heart of the story is the friendship between Tolkien and four school friends,
one of whom is Geoffrey Bache Smith. Smith was at Oxford with Tolkien, and both
left the university to serve in the Great War. Smith died at the Somme in 1916.
After the war, Tolkien worked with Smith’s mother to publish a book of his
poetry. He also wrote the introduction to the book.
at Kalimac’s Corner wrote a post with more
information about Smith, the book’s publication, and Smith’s actual poems, including
some details that the movie changed for narrative purposes:
If you’ve seen the new bio-pic Tolkien, you’ll have noticed a fair amount of attention devoted to the poetry of Tolkien’s friend Geoffrey Bache Smith, one of his school fellowship the T.C.B.S., who died on duty in World War I in December 1916. There’s a scene in which Tolkien tries to persuade Smith’s mother to allow a collection of his poems to be published.
In fact, Mrs. Smith initiated the idea of the collection, asking Tolkien to gather up any poems of her son’s that he had copies of, and the book was actually published, with a brief introduction by Tolkien, in June 1918.
had mentioned this here several months ago when I wrote about public domain
Tolkien works, but as the film has raised interest in Smith and his poetry, I
thought I’d mention it again. If you are curious about it, A Spring Harvest
by Geoffrey Bache Smith (1894-1916) is on Project Gutenberg here.
The sunny streets of Oxford Are lying still and bare. No sound of voice or laughter Rings through the golden air; And, chiming from her belfry, No longer Christchurch calls The eager, boyish faces To gather in her halls.
The colleges are empty. Only the sun and wind Make merry in the places The lads have left behind. But, when the trooping shadows Have put the day to flight, The Gentlemen of Oxford Come homing through the night.
From France they come, and Flanders, From Mons, and Marne and Aisne. From Greece and from Gallipoli They come to her again; From the North Sea’s grey waters, From many a grave unknown, The Gentlemen of Oxford Come back to claim their own.
The dark is full of laughter, Boy laughter, glad and young. They tell the old-time stories, The old-time songs are sung; They linger in her cloisters, They throng her dewy meads, Till Isis hears their calling And laughs among her reeds.
But, when the east is whitening To greet the rising sun, And slowly, over Carfax, The stars fade, one by one, Then, when the dawn-wind whispers Along the Isis shore, The Gentlemen of Oxford Must seek their graves once more.
to more firmly genre material, several authors with recent birthdays turn up on
Project Gutenberg. Ed Earl Repp (1901-1979) has one story, “The Day Time Stopped Moving”, originally published in Amazing
Stories in 1940. It’s been recorded twice for Librivox.
D. Hornig (1916-1999)
published a zine in the 1930s called Fantasy Fan. As Cat Eldridge wrote
in the birthday feature recently, Fantasy Fan included
…first publication of works by Bloch, Lovecraft, Smith, Howard and Derleth. It also had a LOC called ‘The Boiling Point’ which quickly became angry exchanges between several of the magazine’s regular contributors, including Ackerman, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith.
Gutenberg has 8 issues of
Fantasy Fan from 1933-34. As far as I can tell, no one has recorded anything from these
yet, but it might be a fun project to put together a set of dramatic readings
from the angry letters columns — I’ll add it to my ever-growing list of
“Librivox projects I want to get around to one day”!
This is a short booklet on science fact commissioned by the U. S. Energy Research and Development Administration (Office of Public Affairs). It tells the story of the origins of nuclear physics in terms understandable to an audience with minimal technical background. What were the steps through history – the discoveries that built upon one another – from alchemy to chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics, and quantum mechanics, that led to our understanding and harnessing nuclear energy? Asimov was a great writer of both science fact and fiction who wrote or edited more than 500 books, published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.
A collection of twenty stories featuring ghoulies, ghosties, long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night. Expect shivers up your spine, the stench of human flesh, and the occasional touch of wonder. You may also feel more jumpy tonight than usual. This collection has a LOT of H.P. Lovecraft, plus some Poe, M.R. James, and some more obscure authors.
Best-selling novelist Nora Roberts is suing a Brazilian writer for copyright infringement, alleging that Cristiane Serruya has committed “multi-plagiarism” on a “rare and scandalous” level.
In papers filed Wednesday morning in Rio de Janeiro, where Serruya lives, Roberts called Serruya’s romance books “a literary patchwork, piecing together phrases whose form portrays emotions practically identical to those expressed in the plaintiff’s books.” Citing Brazilian law, Roberts is asking for damages at 3,000 times the value of the highest sale price for any Serruya work mentioned in the lawsuit.
“If you plagiarize, I will come for you,” Roberts told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. “If you take my work, you will pay for it and I will do my best to see you don’t write again.”
Roberts added that she would donate any damages from the lawsuit to a literacy program in Brazil.
In a telephone interview Wednesday with the AP, Serruya called herself a “fanatic” of Roberts’ work. But she denied copying her and said she had not received notification of any lawsuit. Serruya added that she often used ghost writers for parts of her books and “could not guarantee that no part was copied” by them….
… Lawyer Saulo Daniel Lopez, a specialist in authors’ rights, said a case like this can take 5 to 10 years to be decided in Brazilian courts. If plagiarism is proven, Serruya could be forced to pay from the proceeds of her books, Lopez said.
The WGA has filed suit against the ATA and the Big Four agencies (WME, CAA, ICM and UTA), alleging that the practice of collecting package commissions constitutes breach of fiduciary duty and unfair competition under state and federal law.
The entire ecosystem under which writers found jobs is upended. Under the California Talent Agencies Act (TAA), only licensed talent agents can “procure” employment for writers. The WGA has issued a statement delegating authority to managers and lawyers to find work for writers notwithstanding the statute, but many (including the ATA) question the union’s authority to do so. The WGA has offered to indemnify lawyers and managers against TAA claims. So far, however, no one has taken it up on this offer.
Lawyers, but especially managers are in a tight spot. They have writer clients to service without agencies to back them up and provide cover. They can procure employment for their clients in violation of the TAA, at risk of being required to disgorge any commissions received if their client files a claim with the State Labor Commissioner. Meanwhile, the big agencies have made it clear that they will not look kindly upon managers and lawyers who encroach upon their territory, and will remember who their friends are when this dispute is finally resolved.
No one knows how open writing assignments will be filled, since this was a central role of the agencies. The WGA has set up an online database to facilitate matchmaking, and showrunners are falling back on their personal networks. These are early days, however. There will undoubtedly be loss of efficiency in staffing but how serious it will be and who will suffer remains to be seen.
(3) A VIEW OF THE
HIMALAYAS. Ursula Vernon continues to post Twitter threads with photos and
comments from her adventures in Tibet. Starting here,
(4) NYRSF READINGS. “Black Gods, Black Drums, Black Magic” is the theme of May’s installment of the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series, assembled by guest host Cam Rob. Phenderson Djèlí Clark and Yvonne P. Chireau will headline.
For most Americans, the historical and mystical dimensions of the African American religious experience remains unexplored, secret, long hidden. This place of heroines, gods, danger, and true things is a vital, living piece of our story. But to venture forth, require guides. Today, we will follow two griots who know the way.
This will be a reading, a seminar, and a discussion with professors Phenderson Djèlí Clark and Yvonne P. Chireau. Phenderson will read from his new novella, Black God’s Drum, and Professor Chireau will discuss the Black American magical traditions to give us historical context as well as read from her book, Black Magic. This will be followed by discussion and Q&A from the audience.
Yvonne Chireau is a professor of Religion at Swarthmore College. She is the author of Black Magic: African American Religion and Conjuring Tradition (2003) and co-editor of Black Zion: African American Religions and Judaism (1999) with Nathaniel Deutsch. She is interested in black religions in the US, African-based religions such as Vodou, and the intersection between magic and religion in America. She blogs subjects having to do with Voodoo and Africana religions at Academic Hoodoo.com
Phenderson Djéli Clark is the Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon nominated author of the novellas The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His stories have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com, Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Apex, Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including, Griots, Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. He is founding member of the FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction and an infrequent reviewer at Strange Horizons.
The readings take place Tuesday,
May 7, 2019 from 6:45-9 p.m. at the Brooklyn Commons Café, 388 Atlantic Bl.,
Brooklyn, NY 11217-1703. $7 suggested donation.
Kim Stanley Robinson–the multiple award-winning science fiction writer, climate change expert, and UC San Diego alum–joins us to deliver the closing keynote to San Diego 2049, sharing his insights into the future of the border region and how the practice of science fictional worldbuilding can help us imagine–and impact–issues of vital importance to individuals, our communities, our species, and life on planet Earth.
This evening will also feature the final projects of several UC San Diego graduate student teams who have been participating in the San Diego 2049 series and imagining their own future scenarios for the region.
Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, and in 2017 he was awarded the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Red Moon, New York 2140, the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt and 2312. In 2008, he was named a “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine, and he works with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute and the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, which is hosted each summer at UC San Diego. He is an alumnus of both UC San Diego and the Clarion Workshop and lives in Davis, California.
Items from the Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection provide a window into the diversities of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and culture that have always been a part of science fiction and fantasy.
…Some of the many books represented in the exhibit are The Female Man, Dune and Memoirs of a Spacewoman. Explore the arts and visual media Cushing has displayed with posters from famous movies such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show,Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman and TV series like Star Trek:Discovery and Luke Cage. Album covers from David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) are on display as well.
“What both this exhibit and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection at Cushing Library hope to show visitors is simply this: science fiction and fantasy and horror, in their abounding variations, are part of our shared cultural heritage,” said Jeremy Brett, curator of the exhibit. “They are not, nor have they ever been, the property of any one class of creator or fan.”
Also included in the exhibition are the 1984 Grand Master Award and the 1998 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement for famed female sci-fi and fantasy writer Andre Norton. She was the first woman to be made a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Mary is still in touch with the Dietsches, the Wolfes’ old neighbors from Peoria. Rosemary Dietsch, Gene’s childhood playmate, comes to Texas for a visit. Gene and Rosemary discover that they still like each other. Before long, they’re engaged. Rosemary is Catholic, so before the wedding, Gene starts studying Catholic doctrine. For a while now, maybe because of his war experience, he’s been thinking about suffering and compassion and how human beings can be better. Catholicism resonates both with his sense of humanity’s fallenness and with his sense of the dedicated, lifelong commitment required for each individual’s redemption. Eventually, he decides to convert. He and Rosemary get married in 1956, two clean-cut kids smiling postwar American smiles. He tells people she saved him.
(8) NIGHTCAP. In 1982, Isaac Asimov,
Harlan Ellison, Gene Wolfe appeared together on the Nightcap cable TV talk show.
Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and Gene Wolfe discuss science-fiction writing with Studs Terkel and Calvin Trillin on the Alpha Repertory Television Service (ARTS), the predecessor of today’s A&E (Arts and Entertainment Network). The program was called “Nightcap: Conversations on the Arts and Letters.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 27, 1901 — Frank Belknap Long. He’s best known for his short stories, including contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos. During his life, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement and the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. (Died 1994).
(11) ON THE BUTTON. Cora
Buhlert tweeted a photo of this Dublin 2019 memento:
(12) MY PETRONA. The 2019
Petrona Award shortlist for the Best Scandinavian
Crime Novel of the Year has been announced. In spite of the name, this is a
British award given out at CrimeFest Bristol and is one of the comparatively
few genre awards for translated fiction.
The Petrona Award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia, and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.
THE ICE SWIMMER by Kjell Ola Dahl, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)
THE WHISPERER by Karin Fossum, tr. Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway)
THE KATHARINA CODE by Jørn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph; Norway)
THE DARKNESS by Ragnar Jónasson, tr. Victoria Cribb (Penguin Random House; Iceland)
RESIN by Ane Riel, tr. Charlotte Barslund (Doubleday; Denmark)
BIG SISTER by Gunnar Staalesen, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)
The winning title will be announced at CrimeFest on May 11.
The winning author and the translator of the winning title will both receive a
cash prize, and the winning author will receive a full pass to and a guaranteed
panel at CrimeFest 2020.
(13) SEEVERTLIEB ON TV. Steve Vertlieb’s star turn
is available for online viewing —
I want to thank popular comedian and radio personality Grover Silcox for inviting me to share a delightful segment of his new Counter Culture television interview series which aired February 19th on WLVT TV, Channel 39, Public Television in Allentown. We sat together at the famed “Daddypops Diner” in Hatboro, Pennsylvania where the wonderful series is filmed, and talked about Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi…, Lon Chaney, Sr., and Lon Chaney, Jr. at Universal Pictures, as well as Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing at Hammer Film Productions, and the long, distinguished history of Horror Movies. For anyone who didn’t see the program during its initial broadcast, you can catch my episode on line by accessing the link below. You’ll find my segment in the middle of Episode No. 3.
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award and nominee for the Nebula and Locus awards, her ability to use her scientific knowledge in both her fiction and nonfiction works is something that makes Newitz’s work remarkable. Dr. Brian Keating speaks to her about creative process behind her newest novel Autonomous, as well as the forthcoming The Future of Another Timeline, and more. Enjoy!
And if you’re curious about her talk at UC San
Diego, “Your Dystopia Is Canceled,” take a few minutes over at the
Clarke Center YouTube channel:
But speculative fiction studies, though it overlaps with scholarship on science fiction, is a different animal: broader, more capacious, less concerned with technical literary and generic questions. While some have tried to demarcate the bounds of speculative fiction—with Robert Heinlein and Margaret Atwood proposing the most famous definitions—others find the ambiguity of the term attractive.2 In Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times, Bahng is “less interested in literary taxonomies than in the various modalities of writing and reading that can alter relations between writer and reader, shift ways of thinking, and produce different kinds of subjects”; she sees potential in speculative fiction’s “promiscuity and disregard for the proper” (13, 16). Similarly, Streeby embraces the term speculative fiction in Imagining the Future of Climate Change: World-Making through Science Fiction and Activism “because it is less defined by boundary-making around the word ‘science,’ stretching to encompass related modes such as fantasy and horror, forms of knowledge in excess of white Western science, and more work authored by women and people of color” (20). In Commander’s Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic, Afro-Atlantic speculation exceeds science fiction, or even Afro-futurism, which Commander regards as only one “subgenre of Afro-speculation of the twentieth and twenty-first century that is concerned with the artistic reimagining of the function of science and technology in the construction of utopic black futures”
STAGE PLAY. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Zicree, posted “My Favorite Moment” from the
high school performance of Alien. (Tough
audience – applauding the chest-burster scene!) Zicree adds —
And let’s give hats off to the writer Dan O’Bannon for thinking this up in the first place. Nothing like it had ever been seen before.
John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse
Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Steve Vertlieb, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Jack Lint.]
(1) MIGNOGNA FILES SUIT. Anime News Network reported in January that a Twitter thread accused dub voice actor Vic Mignogna of homophobia, rude behavior, and making unwanted physical advances on female con-goers. He’s now filed suit claiming several individuals and a corporation have damaged his professional career.
This comes after a wave of misconduct accusations which resulted in Mignogna’s removal from Funimation’s The Morose Mononokean 2 and Rooster Teeth’s RWBY. Allegations first started to surface around the release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, in which Mignogna voices the title character.
Mignogna is seeking “monetary relief over $1,000,000.00” in part due to Funimation no longer contracting him for future productions, as well as conventions canceling his appearances. Mignogna and his lawyer are also seeking “judgment against the Defendants for actual, consequential and punitive damages according to the claims … in amounts to be determined on final hearing, pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest rate permitted by law, and costs of court” in addition to “such other and further relief to which he may be justly or equitably entitled” and “general relief.”
Mignogna is represented by Ty Beard of Beard Harris Bullock Hughes in Tyler, Texas.
The lawsuit alleges that Sony executive Tammi Denbow told Mignogna in mid-January she was “investigating three allegations of sexual harassment against him,” and that on January 29 “Denbow and another Sony executive informed [Mignogna] that his employment with Funimation was terminated” following an investigation. Denbow is listed on LinkedIn as “Executive Director, Employee Relations at Sony Pictures Entertainment.” Sony Pictures Television Networksacquired a majority stake in FUNimation in October 2017.
The suit claims that “Ronald (a Funimation agent or employee) has tweeted more than 80 times that Vic sexually assaulted or assaulted Monica, more than 10 times that Vic sexually assaulted or assaulted three of his “very close friends,” more than 10 times that Vic has been accused of hundreds and possibly thousands of assaults, and at least 17 times that Vic is a “predator.” It also points to a number of tweets made by Rial and Marchi.
(2) BROAD UNIVERSE. Broad
Universe is “a nonprofit
international organization of women and men dedicated to celebrating and
promoting the work of women writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror.”
This is a heads-up on a problem related to Broad Universe participation in upcoming cons.
As you know, I organized the RavenCon RFR. When I submitted my invoice for the poster, BU Treasurer Marta Murvosh informed me that men weren’t allowed to read. This came as a complete shock, since I’ve been organizing RFRs—and submitting invoices for posters—for years. When I objected, Marta advised me that it would only be okay if the man depicted in the poster identified as non-cisgendered. Otherwise, he couldn’t read…but maybe he could moderate.
I said no. It was too late to change line-up. Moreover, it would have been grossly unfair to a member who prepared to read in good faith, with no prior warning that it was not allowed…
(The poster expense has been reimbursed, but the main controversy
is still under discussion.)
… It’s not right to ask them to host events that violate their anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. Likewise, I will not knowingly participate in or organize any event for an organization that practices discrimination or accepts money under false pretenses.
Finally, as an officer of BWAWA, I am obliged to inform to inform the cons that look to me to moderate their BU-related programming (Balticon, Dragon Con, Capclave and all BWAWA-associated events, such as the 2014 and 2018 World Fantasy Cons) of the potential liability issues created by BU’s current policies. Some of the women responding on the BU forum thought I was bluffing when I said this could cause a number of major cons to drop all BU events. It wasn’t a bluff, or a threat. It was a statement of fact. In the absence of a commitment to change the problematic policies before they have to go to print on program materials and signage, both Balticon and Dragon Con will drop all BU programming. In the absence of a policy by mid-summer, there will be no RFR at this year’s Capclave. It won’t even make the preliminary list of panel ideas.
Balticon reportedly has addressed the issue by keeping the
event and renaming it.
Jason Gilbert: I am the male member who was included in the Ravencon BU Rapid Fire Reading. I had a blast doing it, and enjoyed listening to my friends read. I was the only dude in the room. I thought my membership and the money I paid for that membership was my way of supporting women and the BU cause. Had I known that my membership was nothing more than a handout to an organization that excludes members from participating in BU events based on their gender, I would never have signed up or supported BU. I feel excluded, a little betrayed, and angry for my friends who are catching the heat and consequences for allowing me to participate. I am the other Co-Director of Programming at ConCarolinas, and I will also be reporting to the concom on the discriminatory practices of BU, as it directly violates the ConCarolinas anti-discrimination policy. I will also be canceling my membership, and will no longer support Broad Universe. Jean Marie Ward, I am sorry you are having to deal with this, and thank you for letting me read during the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading at Ravencon. I truly thought I was supporting an honest organization.
Morven Westfield: Please give the Motherboard a chance to find out what’s going on. I am saddened that the conventions dropped us without hearing the Motherboard’s side of the story, but I understand they probably want to err on the side of caution. Please give the Motherboard time to investigate this.
Someone recently commented (sorry, I’m reading too many things and can’t remember who said what) that bisexuals are endangered by the current policy of not letting men read. I’m not trying to stir anything up, but I am asking sincerely, how so? If a bisexual, pansexual, or asexual person identifies as female, she can read. It’s not sexual orientation, but gender. Remember that when Broad Universe formed, it was to help women overcome the problems they encountered in a male-dominated publishing industry because they were women, not because they had a different sexual orientation.
…To all who are reading this, let me reiterate what Inanna said. “The MotherBoard is not a bunch of fiendish con-artists who sit around chortling as we think up ways to cheat our members.” As I said before, I think it’s a communication error. In looking through my emails I found reference to a Broad Universe brochure we used in 2010 that said that only women would be allowed to read in RFRs. The wording was taken from our web page at that time. So something happened after 2010.
Also, it appears that Broads on the East Coast were still going by the 2010 and earlier policies (men not allowed to read), but other parts of the country were regularly allowing that, and it seemed like both halves were unaware what was going on. In other words, miscommunication.
Please bear with the Motherboard as they try to sort this out.
FANZINES. Edie Stern alerts Harlan Ellison fans to some new items at Fanac.org:
For those that are interested in Harlan’s early fannish career, Fanac has something nice for you today. We’ve uploaded 6 issues of his fanzine Science Fantasy from the early 1950s. Not only is there writing by Harlan, but by Bob Bloch, MZB, Dean Grennell, Algis Budrys, Bob Silverberg and more. Scanning by Joe Siclari. You can reach the index page at: http://fanac.org/fanzines/Harlan_Ellison/
(4) CHILDREN IN
PERIL. Fran Wilde makes a point about the parallels of life and fiction.
Thread starts here.
[Compiled by Cat
Born April 20, 1937 — George Takei, 82. Hikaru Sulu on the original Trek. And yes, I know that Vonda McIntyre wouldn’t coin the first name until a decade later in her Entropy Effect novel. Post-Trek, he would write Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with Robert Asprin. By the way, his first genre roles were actually dubbing the English voices of Professor Kashiwagi of Rodan! The Flying Monster and the same of the Commander of Landing Craft of Godzilla Raids Again.
Born April 20, 1939 — Peter S. Beagle, 80. I’ve known him for about fifteen years now, met him but once in that time. He’s quite charming. My favorite works? Tamsin, Summerlong and In Calabria.
Born April 20, 1949 — John Ostrander, 70. Writer of comic books, including Grimjack, Suicide Squad and Star Wars: Legacy. Well those are the titles he most frequently gets noted for but I’ll add in the Spectre, Martian Manhunter and the late Eighties Manhunter as well.
Born April 20, 1949 — Jessica Lange, 70. Her very first role was Dwan in King Kong. Later genre roles are modest, Sandra Bloom Sr. in Big Fish and Constance Langdon / Elsa Mars / Fiona Goode / Sister Jude Martin in American Horror Story.
Born April 20, 1951 — Louise Jameson, 68. Leela of the Sevateem, companion to the Fourth Doctor. Appeared in nine stories of which my favorite was “The Talons of Weng Chiang” which I reviewed here. She segued from Dr. Who to The Omega Factor where she was the regular cast as Dr. Anne Reynolds. These appear to her only meaningful genre roles.
Born April 20, 1959 — Clint Howard, 60. So the most interesting connection that he has to the genre is playing Balok, the strange child like alien, in “The Corbomite Maneuver” which I remember clearly decades after last seeing it. Other than that, there’s very he’s done of a genre nature that’s even mildly interesting other than voicing Roo three in three Winnie-the-Pooh films.
Born April 20, 1959 — Carole E. Barrowman, 60. Sister of John Barrowman. John and Carole co-wrote a Torchwood comic strip, featuring Jack Harkness, entitled Captain Jack and the Selkie. They’ve also written the Torchwood: Exodus Code audiobook. In addition, they’ve written Hollow Earth, a horror novel. She contributed an essay about her brother to the Chicks Dig Time Lords anthology.
Born April 20, 1964 — Crispin Glover, 55. An American actor and director, Glover is known for portraying George McFly in Back to the Future, Willard Stiles in the Willard remake, Ilosovic Stayne/The Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, Grendel in Beowulf, Phil Wedmaier in Hot Tub Time Machine, and 6 in 9. He currently stars in American Gods as Mr. World, the god of globalization.
Born April 20, 1964 — Andy Serkis, 55. I admit that the list of characters that he has helped create is amazing: Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, King Kong in that film, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot series. Captain Haddock / Sir Francis Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin (great film that was), and even Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Last year, he portrayed the character of Baloo in his self-directed film, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.
LONDON! The heart of the world of publishing. It was here that I would build my empire! I immediately set off to the zoo to visit the penguins. Strangely, they were untalkative and showed no sign of controlling a vast business of iconic paperbacks. They mainly waddled around an enclosure with excellent views of Regent Park…
If the BBC’s upcoming War of the Worlds TV adaptation wasn’t enough for you then buckle up, because a new project by Audible is bringing the works of novelist HG Wells to life with a series of star-studded audiobook adaptations.
Former Doctor Who star David Tennant is set to narrate alien invasion classic The War of the Worlds, while Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo will tackle The Invisible Man.
Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville will narrate The Time Machine, with Harry Potter and Star Trek: Discovery star Jason Isaacs lending his voice to The Island of Doctor Moreau and Versailles’ Alexander Vlahos reading The First Men in the Moon.
(8) THE LONG AND WINDING
ROAD. LROC graphs the movements
of the first astronauts on the surface of the Moon: “Apollo 11”.
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin landed the Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM) in Mare Tranquillitatis [0.67416 N, 23.47314 E], at 20:17:40 UTC 20 July 1969. They spent a total of 21.5 hours on the lunar surface, performing one Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) and collecting 21.5 kg of lunar samples. Astronaut Michael Collins orbited the Moon in the Lunar Command Module (LCM), awaiting the return of Armstrong and Aldrin from the surface. Apollo 11 was the first lunar landing, however it was the fifth manned Apollo mission, earlier missions laying the ground-work for Apollo 11.
(9) OUR POSITRONIC
PROSECUTORS. CrimeReads’ M.G.
Wheaton surveys sf’s attitudes towards artificial intelligence and suggests that
someday machines will make our lives better and won’t such be vehicles to crush
us or take our jobs. Or maybe not: “Why
We’ve Decided That The Machines Want to Kill Us”.
…While hardly the first filmic thinking machine to read the tea leaves and decide to either wipe out humanity (Terminator), subjugate it (The Matrix), or rid us of our freedom of thought (everything from Alphaville to any Borg episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation), Age of Ultron wins the prize for its antagonist coming to that conclusion the fastest.
So, why is this? Why does HAL 9000 decide the only way to complete his mission is to kill all the humans aboard his ship in 2001: A Space Odyssey? Why does Colossus, the titular super-computer from Colossus: The Forbin Project start out friendly then conclude the only way to end the Cold War is to seize all the nukes and demand subservience in return for not setting them off? Why as early as 1942 when Isaac Asimov laid down his Three Laws of Robotics did he feel the need to say in the very first one that robots must be programmed not to ever hurt humans as otherwise we’d be doomed?
I mean, are we really so bad?
Well, as we’re the ones writing all these stories, maybe it’s not the machines that find us so inferior….
Perhaps in response to Asimov’s rebuttal in 1980, he showed up in a Superman comic book at the end of that year in a story by Cary Bates (with artwork by Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte) in Superman #355. Here, Asimov is, instead, Asa Ezaak, and he is a bit of a condescending jerk to Lois Lane at a science conference….
…He plans on injecting himself with a special “potion” that gives him gravity powers! He is now Momentus!
‘The Museum of Classic Sci-Fi’ is a permanent exhibition, nestled in the historic, Northumberland village of Allendale. Situated beside the market place square, visitors will embark upon a nostalgic tour of some of the genre’s most influential imagery and themes. Featuring a substantial and eclectic collection of over 200 original screen-used props, costumes and production made artefacts; the museum tells the story of the Science-Fiction genre and acts a visual ‘episode guide’ to classic era ‘Doctor Who’. In addition, artist Neil Cole has produced unique paintings and sculptures, to enhance the impact of the presentations.It includes a “Doctor Who Gallery” –
Oh, Ein. Sweet, sweet Ein. Where would the Cowboy Bebop team (especially Edward) be without this data dog? This super-intelligent corgi has all the charm of a pup and all the computing power of a… well… a computer. He’s the best of all worlds.
Now we just have one question: Which lucky corg will play Ein in the upcoming live-action Cowboy Bebop?
[Thanks to John King
Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Hampus Eckerman, Mike Kennedy JJ, Martin Morse
Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Darren Garrison.]
So, what kind of Easter Eggs might we see appear on the screen? Gaiman chimed in and shared:
“Jack Whitehall plays Newton Pulsifer, and the first time you see him going off to do a job he’s about to be fired from, his tie is actually the fourth Doctor’s scarf — really small, as a tie.
You know he must be an enormous Doctor Who fan, because he only owns one tie”
There’s also a new teaser trailer for the show –
(2) SINGING GEEKS! “Batman! Spider-Man! Marvel! DC! The
Geeks are back this Sunday night in NYC!” The Off Broadway production of Geeks! The Musical! opens April 21 at St. Luke’s, 308 W 46th
Street in New York. The music is by LASFSian Ruth Judkowitz.
…The story takes place over several days at a Comic-Con, though it could be any large generic media-oriented SF con – the coincidence of running into somebody and the difficulty of finding them when you’re looking for them plays some role in the plot. It’s the story of three pairs of friends who come to the convention, one set specifically in hopes of selling the avant-garde comic they’re working on, the others to buy collectibles or to attend programming or just to people-watch. They interact, and romantic pairings, both straight and gay, ensue….
The material has been updated for the 2019 production.
(3) TYPECAST ON TWITCH. Half
a dozen sff and game writers will launch TypeCast RPG on Twitch this coming
April 23. The continuing role-playing game will stream live Tuesday nights from
The members of TypeCast RPG will adventure in a world they’ve collaboratively created named Vaeron. Throughout the sessions, the dungeon master and five game players will make use of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition rule system to take their characters through a dark and heroic world in which cities have been built on the backs of slumbering eldritch monsters, stone-age dangers lurk in the lands below, and sky-ships plunder both land and air!
The cast includes:
Dan Wells will serve as the Dungeon Master for the group.
Notable Works: I am Not a Serial Killer, the Partials series, the Writing Excuses podcast. Twitter – Facebook – Website
Charlie N. Holmberg will be playing Fleeda, a Stone Age human druid with complicated family problems.
Mari Murdock is Grisk, a half-orc rogue torn between profit and faith, and willing to switch allegiances for the right reward.
Notable Works: Legend of the Five Rings Contributor, RPG Writing, Whispers of Shadow and Steel. Twitter – Facebook – Website
Brian McClellan is Krustov, the necromancer cleric and atheist (yes, it’s that confusing).
Notable Works: The Powder Mage Trilogy, Gods of Blood and Powder, Uncanny Collateral. Twitter – Facebook – Website
After the livestream wraps up, video viewing will be available on YouTube, as well as a podcast intended to launch on Wednesday afternoons. Various bonus content such as interviews, industry discussions for both fiction writing and gaming, and guest stars will be part of the live stream and other formats!
Amazon Original Stories, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, announced today the forthcoming six-part science-fiction collection Forward, featuring original short stories from some of today’s most celebrated voices in fiction, including Blake Crouch, N. K. Jemisin, Veronica Roth, Amor Towles, Paul Tremblay, and Andy Weir. Forward will be available for free on September 17 th, 2019 to Prime and Kindle Unlimited customers. Readers can download the collection as a Kindle eBook or Audible audiobook.
Forward explores a central theme: the resounding effects of a pivotal technological moment. While each author started with this same prompt, readers will discover that each story unearths a unique corner of the sci-fi genre, ranging from intimate to epic, grounded to far future, hopeful to harrowing.
Andy Weir ( Artemis, The Martian ) imagines a high-tech Las Vegas casino heist; Paul Tremblay ( The Cabin at the End of the World ) immerses readers in a patient’s mysteriously slow healing process; Amor Towles ( A Gentleman in Moscow ) explores a fertility clinic’s god-like abilities to alter an unborn child’s life path; Veronica Roth (Divergent trilogy) spins a story of finding connection in the face of our world’s certain destruction; N.K. Jemisin (The Broken Earth series) subverts all expectations when an explorer returns to the ravaged Earth his ancestors fled; and Blake Crouch ( Dark Matter) follows a video game designer whose character Maxine unexpectedly “wakes up.”
(5) BLADE. Is this the
sword that Claire Ryan’s pen was mightier than? Authors thanked Claire Ryan for
her work helping to expose #CopyPasteCris. (A list of 40 plagiarized authors is posted at the
Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest science fiction writers of the 20th century, came to America as a family immigrant. In fact, he came as part of what some people, sometimes those not particularly in favor of immigrants, today call “chain migration.”
Alison Pill, Harry Treadaway and Isa Briones have jumped aboard as series regulars alongside Sir Patrick Stewart in the upcoming untitled “Star Trek” series.
They join previously announced cast members Santiago Cabrera, Michelle Hurd and Evan Evagora.
…Pill, who is represented by CAA and The Burstein Company, is best known for playing Maggie Jordan on Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series “The Newsroom.” Treadaway is known for playing Victor Frankenstein on “Penny Dreadful.” He is represented by Principal Entertainment LA. Briones, who recently starred in “American Crime Story: Versace,” is repped by Piper/Kaniecki/Marks Management.
On April 26 at 8 p.m., North Bergen will reprise the show, which was staged for only two performances in March. Those performances caused a tsunami of interest when a video posted the weekend of March 23 got some 3 million hits.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
Born April 17, 1923 — Lloyd Biggle Jr. He was the founding Secretary-Treasurer of Science Fiction Writers of America and served as Chairman of its trustees for many years. Writing wise, his best-known series were the Jan Darzek and Effie Schlupe troubleshooting team, and the Cultural Survey. I find it interesting wrote his own Sherlock Holmes stories from the perspective of Edward Porter Jones, an assistant who began his association with Holmes as a Baker Street Irregular. There’re are two novels in this series, The Quallsford Inheritance and The Glendower Conspiracy. (Died 2002.)
Born April 17, 1923 — T. Bruce Yerke. He was active member of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, serving as its secretary for many years, and is credited with getting Bradbury involved with the group. Myrtle R. Douglas, Forrest Ackerman and he edited Imagination!, the Retro Hugo Award-winning fanzine. (Died 1998.)
Born April 17, 1942 — David Bradley, 77. It’s his Who work that garners him a Birthday honour. He first showed up during the time of the Eleventh Doctor playing a complete Rat Bastard of a character named Solomon in the “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” episode. But it was his second role on the series as the actor who was the First Doctor that made him worth noting. He portrayed William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time and then played the role of the First Doctor in “The Doctor Falls” and “Twice Upon a Time”, both Twelfth Doctor stories. He is also known for playing Argus Filch in the Harry Potter film franchise, Walder Frey in Game of Thrones and Abraham Setrakian in The Strain.
Born April 17, 1959 — Sean Bean, 60. His current role that garners him recognition is his performance as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, but he’s worked in our area of interest a long time. His first genre role was in GoldenEye as the the antagonist of Bond, Alec Trevelyan (Janus). Next he shows up as Boromir in the first of The Lord of the Rings films. He played Dr. Merrick in the horror SF film The Island and was James in horror flick The Dark which purports to be based off Welsh myth. Following in the horror vein, he’s Chris Da Silva in Silent Hill (which gets a sequel later in Silent Hill: Revelation) and in yet more horror is John Ryder in the remake of The Hitcher. (Was it so good that it yearned for a remake? I doubt it.) Black Death — yes more horror — and the character of Ulric ensued next. Finally something not of a horror nature in playing Zeus in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief happened. I’m going to forgo listing the subsequent horror films he’s in and just finally note that he’s in The Martian playingMitch Henderson.
Born April 17, 1972 — Jennifer Garner, 47. Back before there was the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were Marvel Comic movies. Such was the case with Elektra Natchios and its lead character of Elektra Natchios. Don’t remember anything about the film anymore. She also had the same role in Daredevil.
Born April 17, 1973 — Cavan Scott, 46. To my thinking, there’s somewhat of an arbitrary line between fanfic and professional writing. (Ducks quickly.) which brings me to the world of fiction set in media universes where a lot of fanfic is set. This writer has apparently specialized in such writing to the extent that he has novels in the universes of Dr. Who (including the subgenre of Professor Bernice Summerfield), Blake’s 7, Judge Dredd, Skylanders Universe, The Tomorrow People, Star Wars and Warhammer Universe. Judge Dredd? Novels?
(11) SOMEONE BLEW THE BUGLE.
Do cats really have nine lives, or do they make up the other eight? The
question is inspired by the latest installment of Timothy the Talking Cat’s
autobiography — “Beyond
the Bounds of Genius: Chapter 3”
Chapter 3: Marine Sergeant Tim
…My first attempt failed as I had mistaken the Post Office for the Marines. In my defence “Royal Mail” and “Royal Marines” look very similar if you are reading a sign from cat height. Further confusion at the Salvation Army ended more violently as I attempted to attack a uniformed man with a trumpet in an attempt to show my martial temperament….
…Marsh’s quest began after The Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse in East London’s Shoreditch, was discovered in 2008. The historian wondered where Shakespeare was living when his plays were performed there, which predated The Globe as the playwright’s workplace.
It had previously been identified that the Shakespeare lived in Central London near Liverpool Street Station, then known as the parish of St. Helens, after he was listed on taxpayer records in 1597/98, but the exact location was never identified….
Before leaving for Europe (hope you had a lovely time) you sent me a beautiful American Wildlife Calendar. I was enjoying the pictures – the timber wolf, the woodchuck, the bison – and the mottos, Job, Walt Whitman. Dostoievsky, Dante – when I was thunderstruck to see my name-my birthday month, April … subscribed to a howling idiocy: “The best thing about animals is that they don’t say much.” I never wrote that! I never thought that! I yelled for Isabel and pointed it out to her, the tears rolling down my face. “Isabel! Somebody’s played a cruel joke on me. WHEN DID I SAY SUCH A THING? Let’s move to Arkansas until the laughter dies down.”
“Don’t you remember that Mr. Antrobus says it in The Skin of Our Teeth when the Dinosaur is whining about the Ice Age.” “But l, I didn’t say it.” Then I thought of all the damaging things that could be brought up against me from that same play: The Child Welfare Calendar: “A child is a thing that only a parent can love” Thornton Wilder. The Anti-War Calendar: “God forgive me but I enjoyed the war; everybody’s at their best in wartime.” Thornton Wilder.
Executive Summary: Snake is a healer in a fractured post-apocalyptic world, travelling through various communities which live out relatively isolated existences in a world which appears to have gone through nuclear war. As you might guess from her name, the title, and almost every book cover Dreamsnake has been released with (except for a 1994 edition which decides to focus on the book’s stripey horse. There’s also… this.) this healing involves snakes: Mist, an albino cobra, and Sand, a rattlesnake, are both bred to synthesise various cures and vaccinations for illnesses, representing a combination of genetic engineering and on-the-spot biochemistry. The third snake is even more special: Grass is a dreamsnake, an extremely rare “offworlder” breed able to create hallucinations and pleasant dreams which are most often used to ease the pain of the dying.
There’s something in the dying (or at-least-super-old) Earth subgenre that has always resonated with me: a storyworld littered with weird and wondrous leftovers from times so far past that people are not quite sure what to make of them. In those stories, the massive weight of history hangs over the world and makes it alien in a very specific way….
The two stories from Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ first April issue feature young women separated from their families to learn some hard lessons from some rather kick ass older women. The pieces look at death and loss and war and where the characters fit into the larger tapestry of their communities, families, and worlds. They look at service, and sacrifice, and honor, and all the complicated ways those are used both against and to educate children, to prepare them for the roles they are expected to inhabit. These are two stories that carry some heavy darknesses, and yet tucked into them as well are narratives of care, healing, and hope. To the reviews!
The BBC Proms will blast into hyperspace this summer, with a series of interstellar concerts marking the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings.
Alongside classics like Holst’s The Planets, the season will include a Sci-Fi Prom, featuring scores from films such as Gravity and Alien: Covenant.
A CBeebies concert will take children on a journey to the Moon, including a close encounter with The Clangers.
And the season opens in July with a new piece inspired by the first Moon walk.
Zosha Di Castri’s Long Is The Journey, Short Is The Memory will be premiered on Friday 19 July, under the baton of Karina Canellakis – the first female conductor to oversee the First Night of the Proms.
Meanwhile, art-rock band Public Service Broadcasting will play their concept album Race For Space in a special late night Prom.
The record, which combines sparse electronic beats with archive audio recordings from the US-Soviet space race, will be presented in a new arrangement with the Multi-Story Orchestra.
Just when you think you’ve got your life sorted and you know what’s what with the world, Disney has to go and screw with all our heads and rename the original Star Wars movie.
Heading back to 1977, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope was our first trip to that galaxy far, far away and made household names of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford. Jump to 2019 and we’re on the cusp of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX.
We’ve come a long way since A New Hope, but now, the House of Mouse is renaming George Lucas’ epic space opera. The movie is now called Star Wars: A New Hope, fitting with Disney’s current naming of the movies since Star Wars: The ForceAwakens in 2015.
(20) COMIC RELIEF. Philip Ball’s 2014 post “The Moment of Uncertainty” translated his interview on uncertainty, with Robert Crease, historian and philosopher of science at Stony Brook University. The interview appeared in the French publication La Recherche. Amid the serious scientific stuff is this little joke —
There’s even an entire genre of uncertainty principle jokes. A police officer pulls Heisenberg over and says, “Did you know that you were going 90 miles an hour?” Heisenberg says, “Thanks. Now I’m lost.”
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Mlex, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of
these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip
(1) MCINTYRE. CaringBridge readers received a
saddening update about Vonda McIntyre’s status:
Vonda has been told she has somewhere between two weeks and two months. She’s doing well enough right now that she will probably last longer than the short end of this estimate but we aren’t seeing much cause for hope she might exceed the long end.
She has signed up with hospice. The people who have come out this past week all seem smart and kind, and Vonda is pleased with them.
Vonda is, on the whole, fairly comfortable. She gets some pain before her scheduled paracentesis sessions, but she says it isn’t bad and goes away as soon as she gets the procedure. She’s weak, moves slowly, and sleeps a lot. However, she’s alert and engaged when she is awake, and has been enjoying visits from various people. She doesn’t eat much, but is still enjoying food and has no nausea issues.
Emotionally, I find her to be in astonishingly good shape. She’s still grieving the loss of Ursula and her sister, Carolyn, but she says she’s not especially upset about her own situation. She is focused on getting some things down, many of which are fun for her. This stuff could hit harder later but for now she seems calm and accepting.
Frank Catalano sent the link with a note: “Vonda was generous to me when I moved to the Seattle
area in the 1980s and I took on the task of administering SFWA’s Nebula Awards.
She and I and a small crew of volunteers stuffed and stamped numerous Nebula
Awards Reports in my Queen Anne apartment. I consider her a friend and she has
also encouraged my writing.”
(2) MONSTER MASH. A new trailer for Godzilla:
King of the Monsters has dropped. The move arrives in theaters May 31
Following the global success of “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse, an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.
I’ve watched eight episodes (out of eighteen) of Netflix’s “Adult” anthology series based on contemporary SF short stories. It’s ‘Adult’ in the sense of stereotypes of adolescent male interests which means many episodes with gore and most episodes with CGI boobs. There are some good pieces but they are ones that differ sharply from the general aesthetic.
I’ve spent a career working in tech as a software engineer. And I believe regulated markets are the best way to build and deliver innovative products. That might sound counterintuitive. But increasingly, the largest players in the game aren’t playing by the same rules. Instead, they’re using their power to bully or buy out the competition.
That’s why I was thrilled last week when Senator Elizabeth Warren put forward a bold plan to break up the largest tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon. Many parts of the plan are strong and have widespread support by industry experts, such as breaking up Facebook and Instagram. Other parts inadvertently jeopardize privacy and increase consumer risk of malware and spyware. Overall, it’s a strong start to an antitrust conversation that is long overdue.
(5) WOLFE’S SERVICE
RECOGNIZED. Last week at the International
Association for the Fantastic in the Arts conference, Gary K. Wolfe received the Robert A. Collins Service Award,
“presented to an officer, board member, or division head for outstanding
service to the organization.” [Via Locus
(6) IMPATIENTS. In “Cory
Doctorow’s Radicalized and Audience Awareness”, Joseph Hurtgen urges us
all to “Put Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized on
your reading list. It’s a short and powerful meditation on the power of the
internet to radicalize suffering individuals, the broken healthcare system in
the US, the exploitation of the poor in America, and the broken judicial system
in the US.”
…Doctorow considers a slightly different kind of mass murdering, one with a political agenda. The terrorists in Doctorow’s world kill to force the US to fix the broken healthcare system. In the 21st century, our situation is that experimental treatment for cancer is available to those that can write a seven-figure check. But for the rest of us, no matter how much we’ve paid into the system, death is still the only cure.
(7) HOLDING FORTH. YouTube has video of Isaac
Asimov on The David Letterman Show,
October 21, 1980
(8) ELLEN VARTANOFF OBIT. Ellen Vartanoff (1951-2019) died March 17
reports her brother-in-law, Scott Edelman.
Ellen Vartanoff was a fan, a collector, creator, artist, teacher, mentor and so much more to countless friends and admirers. Condolences to Irene, Scott, and all of Ellen’s family. I will always carry with me the last time I saw Ellen.
“I’ve been in love with cartoons since I was 7 years old,” says Vartanoff, 46, who financed her early comic book purchases by collecting returnable soft drink bottles, which brought her 2 cents each. “That amount was more meaningful back when comics cost a dime. My sister and I have been collecting comics since 1957 and began collecting original cartoon art in the 1960s, way before it became a popular thing to do.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 18, 1926 — Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian filmed Mission Impossible which if you’ve not seen it, you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010)
Born March 18, 1932 — John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. He wrote a number of other genre-friendly novels including The Centaur, Brazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
Born March 18, 1947 — Drew Struzan, 72. Artist known for his more than a hundred and fifty movie posters which include films in Back to the Future, the Indiana Jones, and Star Wars film franchises. In addition, he designed the original Industrial Light & Magic logo for Lucas. My favorite posters? Back to the Future, The Goonies and The Dark Crystal.
Born March 18, 1950 — J. G. Hertzler, 69. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on QuantumLeap as Weathers Farrington in the “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in Zorro, Highlander, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Charmed, Roswell and Enterprise series; for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of Satan, Treasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2, The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Born March 18, 1959 — Luc Besson, 60. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and reviews leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
Born March 18, 1960 — Richard Biggs. He appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast, Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical Worldof Disney. (Died 2004.)
Born March 18, 1961 – James Davis Nicoll, 58. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group read prior to Eighties SF and fantasy, and Nicoll and his collaborators comment on the their reactions.
Born March 18, 1989 — Lily Collins, 30. First genre role was in cyberpunk horror film Priest as Lucy Pace. She next shows up in Mirror Mirror before being Clary Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I did read the first three or four novels in the series. Recommended them wholeheartedly, no idea how the film is. She’s Edith Tolkien in the Tolkien filmnow in post-production.
(10) STAY TUNED FOR VERSE. John
A Arkansawyer sent a note with this link to his sff poem: “Shameless
self-promotion for something which will not win the Rhysling But I’m pleased to
have written it in the last fifteen minutes.” — “The Synoptic Bump in
“Warrior”, by Gordon R. Dickson”.
Jason Wilkins roused himself out of his dough-and-flour-addled stupor, and gazed at the ringing noise emanating from the receiver….
And if you scroll down to item #24 you’ll find Chapter 2 of Weber’s
epic “In Ovens Baked.”
Pizza Delivery Person Third Class Alonzo Gomez smoothly turned his control wheel counterclockwise, with the skill of a man who’d practiced this maneuver for years. In the sealed chamber in front of his feet, a gear at the end of the wheel’s shaft pushed the rack-and-pinion assembly to one side, changing the angle of the vehicle’s front wheels. Now, driven onward relentlessly by the vehicle’s momentum, the tires bit into the road surface obliquely, forcing the vehicle’s nose to port and carrying the entire vehicle with them on its new course. Alonzo and his vehicle thereby rounded the corner, taking them off of Elm street and onto 5th Avenue….
(This reminds me of the time I watched a visiting clergyman doing
a sendup of “Pastor Jack telling the congregation the church is on fire.” He
had everyone in hysterics, with the assistant pastor waving his handkerchief in
In 1964, Austrian journalist Gerhard Pistor walked into a Vienna travel agency with a simple proposition. He’d like to fly to the moon, and if possible, he’d like to fly there on Pan Am.
The travel agency, presumably dumbfounded by this request, decided to simply do its job and make the ask: It forwarded the impossible request to the airline, the legend goes, where it attracted the attention of Juan Trippe, the notoriously brash and publicity-thirsty CEO of Pan American World Airways, the world’s most popular airline. Trippe saw a golden opportunity, and the bizarre request gave birth to a brilliant sales ploy that cashed in on the growing international obsession with human spaceflight: Pan Am was going to launch commercially operated passenger flights to the moon. Or, at least, that’s what it was going to tell everyone.
In hindsight, it’s beyond ludicrous. NASA wouldn’t land men on the moon for five more years; the promise of lunar getaways on a jetliner sounds like a marketing scam at worst, and the most preposterous extension of 1960s techno-optimism at best. And yet, in a striking parallel to today’s commercial space race, would-be customers put down their names on a waiting list for their chance to go to space, joining Pan Am’s “First Moon Flights” Club.
If history is a guide, then Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin should be cautious. Pan Am dissolved in 1991 without ever getting close to launching a spacecraft. Even when it promised the moon and the stars, the airline was far closer to financial oblivion than it was to the cosmos.
A huge fireball exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere in December, according to Nasa.
The blast was the second largest of its kind in 30 years, and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia six years ago.
But it went largely unnoticed until now because it blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
The space rock exploded with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at Nasa, told BBC News a fireball this big is only expected about two or three times every 100 years.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Disney–The Art of Animation”
on YouTube, Kaptain Kristian provides the 15 principles of animation that have
ensured Disney’s continued excellence in animation for over 80 years.
Bill, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Scott Edelman, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]
Ever since its opening in the mid-1990s, the Denver International Airport (DIA) has spawned countless conspiracy theories as to its dark and sinister nature. Now, there’s a gargoyle inside the terminal to confirm it’s all true.
Yesterday, to celebrate its 24th birthday, DIA gave all of the air travelers who wander its halls a gift: a Chatty Gargoyle.[…]
This is part of a larger campaign by the Denver Airport, dubbed #TheDenFiles, that gleefully invites any and all talk of mysterious goings-on in the catacombs that lie beneath. Or in some cases — right in plain sight.
(2) CHATTY SHATTY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Have you ever had a set of refrigerator
poetry magnets? If so you may be ready for Shatoetry which is free on the Apple iOS App
Store as this is being typed. William Shatner recorded individual words, which
you can put together in any order. Each word has three levels of emphasis
available, and you can also add pauses of three different lengths. When you’re
ready, click a button and you will create a video with a selectable still-frame
Shatner background and audio of Shat “reading” your “poem.” Once you click, you
can send the video by email or post it on any of several social media sites.
The basic app doesn’t have a huge selection of words
available, but there are in-app purchases available for more bundles of words
and those are also free as this is being typed. If you want the
app, be sure to grab the extra word bundles before they start charging for them
again—there’s no telling how long these free offers will last.
(3) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense fiction series is “Mpendulo:
The Answer,” by the South African film writer-director Nosipho
I know I’m right, but the class seems unhappy with my reasoning. How could these people create other humans with the sole purpose of killing them later for their organs? We all know people walking around with 3D-printed organs inside of them. We can’t conceive of one person letting themselves be sliced open and their organs given to another, let alone a whole government being party to it.
Well, I can conceive of things that the rest of them can’t. But I wouldn’t dare let them know that.
It was the strangest thing. I was having breakfast (3 PM, but breakfast time for me), I started to get up out of my chair, slipped, and while I was in no pain I couldn’t get up. After about 15 minutes Carol called an ambulance, they drove me 5 miles to the local hospital.
I was feeling no pain, but all the medics seemed concerned. They knocked me out, and when I woke up in the emergency room I had half a dozen catheters attached to me, draining what seemed like gallons of fluids out of me. When I’d seen the doctor for my regular check-up a month earlier I weighed 255, about 30 more than usual. When I arrived at the hospital I was 256. And three days later, after draining all these fluids, I was 208 — which I am tonight, a month after this whole thing began.
Anyway, I did 9 days in the emergency room and 10 days in rehab. Been home for a few days, feeling pretty good, but sleeping about 12-15 hours a day while I get my strength back…which means I am not quite keeping up with the writing and editing (tho I’m getting closer), and I’m probably not keeping up with e-mails. I thank those of you who sent your best wishes, and if I didn’t reply it really wasn’t bad manners.
Almost certainly gonna miss Writers of the Future in 4 or 5 weeks, but we should make Midwestcon and DragonCon, where you can see the new improved skinny (well, skinnier) me.
(5) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Cedar Sanderson shares how pros evaluate opportunities to contribute work to an anthology in “Relationships and Anthologies” at Mad Genius Club.
Warning Flag #2: No transparency about payment or royalties. Not all anthologies will pay up front. Some will pay up front but no royalties, and some will only pay royalties. You should know what to expect going into it. You should not be told ‘we’ll pay royalties after our costs are met’ unless you are also given some idea of what those costs are, and an accounting (and no, anthologies that are proudly using public domain art for covers should not be costing much to produce). Yes, I realize this isn’t ‘how the publishing business works’ which is bullshit, and the inherent corruption it opens up by playing along will only end when the authors stop allowing themselves to be milked without feed. I’ve taken part in ‘paid up front’ and one ‘paid plus royalties’ anthology, and they left me feeling happy and like I’d do it again. My friends who were told ‘we’ll pay you when we meet our costs’ are still waiting, years later. They’ll never see money.
(6) DOC WEIR AWARD. Attention Eastercon members! Ytterbium’s Progress Report 3 has this note:
The Doc Weir Award
Regular Eastercon attendees will know that the members of the convention annually vote on who should receive the Doc Weir Award for making a significant but largely unsung contribution to fandom. Sadly, many of the earlier winners were so unsung that fans today know little or nothing about them or their fannish activities. To remind people of their contributions, a brief biography of the winners is being compiled. It will be available online but if you would like to request a printed copy then please email email@example.com before Sunday, March 17th.
Bill Burns of eFanzines has more info on the Doc Weir Award, and a list of all winners from 1963 to 2018 here.
When you were tasked with creating “Spider-Ham: Caught in a Ham,” was the original idea that it be a “backdoor prequel,” or was that something you decided to reverse engineer into a companion piece to Spider-Verse?
Miguel Jiron: From the beginning, we were like, we would love for this classic cartoon to open up our movie like how they used to do back in the day. And pretty early on we were like, if it’s going to screen in front of the movie, it would be cool to see Ham’s last moments in his world before he comes to the [Spider-Verse]. So pretty early on we brainstormed something we thought would be a perfect way to connect to the film and see them together.
(8) WORKS FOR ME. This
was Sarah Gailey’s latest appeal for readers to sign up for their newsletter:
(9) SIGNED, YOUR CREDENTIAL. Tabitha King made a serious point, but the not-so-serious reply was clever:
…Kramer was wheeled into his first appearance hearing with his breathing tank. He claimed he hasn’t been allowed to talk to his lawyer and said he wasn’t sure what was going on.
At the hearing, the judge granted Kramer a $22,200 bond; however, even if he posts bond, he’ll remain behind bars because he’s also being held on a probation violation. As part of the probation violation, he’ll appear in court on March 22 at 8:30 a.m.
… He was under monitored house arrest since late 2013 when he was convicted of child molestation.
Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter told FOX 5 News when house arrest ended in December of last year Kramer was put on probation.
One of the conditions was no contact with children.
“He’s being held without bond because there’s a probation warrant. That’s why he’s being held without bond,” said Porter.
Porter said Kramer is facing a misdemeanor charge of a sexual offender photographing a minor without consent.
The DA told FOX 5 News he’s moving forward with revocation of probation for Kramer which could mean a lengthy stay behind bars.
“We need to go back and revoke his first offender and incarcerate him. He faces up to 60 years in prison,” said Porter.
(11) ASIMOV OBIT. Janet Jeppson Asimov (1926-2019) died February
25. The SF Encyclopedia has her full genre biography.
The New York Times obituary notes —
A psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, she was the beloved widow of Isaac Asimov, as well as the former director of training at the William Alanson White Institute, author of around two dozen books, and a former syndicated science columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY.
March 1, 1933 – King Kong has its world premiere in New York.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 2, 1904 — Theodor Seuss Geisel. Ahhh, Dr. Seuss. I confess that the only books I’ve read by him are How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Green Eggs and Ham, an exercise that took maybe fifteen minutes. Did you know that Horton Hears a Who! was animatedat a running time of a half hour? Who thought it was a good idea to make a two-hour live film of The Grinch? (Died 1991.)
Born March 2, 1939 – jan howard finder. No, I’m not going to be do him justice here. He was a SF writer, filker, cosplayer, and of course fan. He was nicknamed The Wombat as a sign of affection and ConFrancisco (1993 Worldcon) was only one of at least eight cons that he was fan guest of honor at. Finder has even been tuckerized when Anne McCaffrey named a character for him. (Died 2013.)
Born March 2, 1943 — Peter Straub, 76. Horror writer who won the World Fantasy Award for Koko and the August Derleth Award for Floating Dragon. He’s co-authored several novels with Stephen King, The Talisman which itself won a World Fantasy Award, and Black House. Both The Throat and In the Night Roomwon Bram Stoker Awards as did 5 Stories, a short collection by him. Ok you know I’m impressed by Awards, but fuck this is impressed!
Born March 2, 1949 — Gates McFadden, 70. Best known obviously for playing Dr. Beverly Crusher in the Star Trek: The Next Generation and in the four films spawned out of the series. More interestingly for me is she was involved in the production of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal as Henson’s choreographer which is her second profession under the name of Cheryl McFadden.
Born March 2, 1960 — Peter F. Hamilton, 59. I read and quite enjoyed his Night’s Dawn Trilogy when it came out and I’m fairly sure that I’ve read Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained as they sound familiar. (Too much genre fiction read over the years to remember everything…) What else have y’all read by him?
Born March 2, 1966 — Ann Leckie, 53. Ancillary Justice won the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Nebula Award, Kitschies Award Golden Tentacle, Locus Award for Best First Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the BSFA Award. Shit man. Her sequels Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy did not win awards but are no less impressive.
Born March 2, 1968 — Daniel Craig, 51. Obviously Bond in the present-day series of films which I like a lot, but also in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider as Alex West, Lord Asriel In the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, in SF horror film The Invasion as Ben Driscoll, in the very weird Cowboys & Aliens as Jake Lonergan, voicing Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine / Red Rackham in The Adventures of Tintin and an uncredited appearence as Stormtrooper FN-1824 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Born March 2, 1981 — Bryce Dallas Howard, 38. Started her genre career in How the Grinch Stole Christmas as a Surprised Who. I’d like to stay it got better but her next two roles were in The Village as Ivy Elizabeth Walker and in Lady in the Water as Story. She finally scored a good role in Spider-Man 3 as Gwen Stacy before landing roles in The Twilight Saga franchise as Victoria and in the Jurassic World franchise as Claire Dearing.
The party may have been How to Train Your Dragon-themed, but Jennifer Garner is now learning how not to embarrass your child!
[…] In honor of [her son’s birthday] bash, Garner, 46, dressed up as Astrid from the animated film, wearing blue and orange face paint, a fur shawl, arm sleeves, a pointy, leather skirt with leggings underneath, and fur boots.
But as she went to present her son with a chocolate cake featuring the dragon Toothless’ eyes around the edges, Garner found out the hard way that her son was already becoming embarrassed.
“Well, guess what. It turns out 7 is the age my kid stops thinking it’s cool when I dress up for the party,” she captioned the happy photo.
(16) YARNSPINNER. The Raksura Colony Tree
Project, a collective
art/craft project will be displayed at WorldCon 77. Cora Buhlert says, “I
already got out my crochet hooks and searched my yarn stash and it’s probably
of interest to other Filers as well.”
If you’re coming to Dublin to join in the fun and are interested in creating things with needle and thread, this is your chance to be an active part in a community art project.
Martha Wells’ “Books of the Raksura”-Series was nominated for a Best Series Hugo in 2018. One of the things that drew me into the series was the world-building – a colony living in a giant mountain tree that’s studded with platforms all around that are used by the inhabitants for all kinds of different things – hunting, gardening, fishing, outlooks for the guards … a whole ecosystem – so how might that actually look like? I made a start, just to try things out…
(17) TRAPPED IN ASPIC. Andrew
Porter copied this to his list: “Where do you get your weird ideas from (Cover
I’m going to tell you a story. This is about being nominated for the Nebula Awards , and accusations, and fury. I’m going to tell it slow and in much detail as I can, because I want to, and because context is important. I have seen much slinging of words but no context.
When I started writing this, it was 8PM. I had intended to use the writing of this piece as a piece of string, to re-order my own thoughts and try to figure out what the hell I’m doing here . But in the writing of this I’ve gone from trying to figure out this madness to just being jaded. My inboxes are inundated with legions, my notifications toss up numbers like a slot machine, and I am absolutely done with explaining myself to random asshats on Twitter who demand answers under fake names and profile pictures.
So I’m going to chronicle this.
And at the end of it you may judge whether I have acted with the best information available to me, or not.
Tesla has announced it will start selling a version of its Model 3 in the US at a price of $35,000 (£26,400), finally delivering on a promise it made more than two years ago.
To help lower the price the firm plans to close showrooms and is switching to an online-only sales model.
The electric car company announced the Model 3 car in 2016 as an alternative to its luxury offerings.
However, as recently as September, the average selling price exceeded $50,000.
Closing physical stores will allow the firm to cut costs by about 5%, savings it is using to reduce prices across its line-up of vehicles, chief executive Elon Musk said.
…In a blog post, Tesla said a test drive was not needed because you can return a car within seven days, or after driving 1,000 miles, and get a full refund.
“Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free,” the blog said.
(20) UP, UP, AND AWAY. Video of countdown, launch, and 1st-stage recovery at NPR: “SpaceX Launches Capsule Bound For International Space Station”. Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment, “I’m sure it’s happened before, but this is the first launch I remember where voice doing the countdown was female. Step by step….”
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on schedule at 2:49 a.m. Saturday.
It’s a test flight without crew aboard, designed to demonstrate the potential for carrying astronauts into orbit on a commercial spacecraft.
A crowd cheered as the rocket blasted off in a ball of fire and smoke and flash of light early Saturday, within minutes reaching speeds upwards of 4,000 mph as it gained altitude.
The rocket and capsule separated about 11 minutes after launch. Crew Dragon will go on to autonomously dock with the International Space Station at about 6 a.m. ET Sunday. Plans call for it to remain docked with the station for five days. On March 8, it will undock and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 a.m. ET.
…For the latest test, another mannequin will be on board. This one is named Ripley, for the heroine in the Alien movies, and it will have all kinds of sensors to see how a real human would experience the trip. “We measure the responses on the human body, obviously, and measure the environment,” Koenigsmann says. “We want to make sure that everything is perfect.”
It’s official, the DCEU is dead, with Warner Bros’ chief Kevin Tsujihara confirming the studio has moved away from the idea of a connected universe for its DC superhero properties – otherwise known as the DC Extended Universe.
“The universe isn’t as connected as we thought it was going to be five years ago,” Tsujihara told The LA Times. “You’re seeing much more focus on individual experiences around individual characters. That’s not to say we won’t at some point come back to that notion of a more connected universe. But it feels like that’s the right strategy for us right now.”
And who’s responsible for the death of the interconnected DCEU? Wonder Woman.
“What Patty Jenkins did on Wonder Woman illustrated to us what you could do with these characters who are not Batman and Superman. Obviously, we want to get those two in the right place, and we want strong movies around Batman and Superman. But Aquaman is a perfect example of what we can do. They’re each unique and the tone’s different in each movie.”
(22) TICKING AWAY. Amazon Prime Video launches The Tick Season 2 on April 5.
Tick and Arthur have freed the City from The Terror — now they must defend it from new villains and old enemies. That is if they can convince AEGIS, the government agency in charge of superhero regulation, that they deserve the job. But now that the City is ‘safe enough to protect’ Tick and Arthur begin to see they’ve got competition…
So far, HBO‘s posters have left basically everything to the imagination, and all we really know is that it’s about to be super cold in Westeros. Like, now would be the time for everyone to break out their Canada Goose jackets. But HBO just dropped all these posters of your faves on the Iron Throne, so we have to wonder if this means the underdogs actually have a shot at winning it all.
(24) THIS IS THE CITY. The second trailer for Pokémon Detective Pikachu dropped a few days ago —
The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.
JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, Nancy Collins, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy,
John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew
(2) NYC TOLKIEN CONFERENCE. Filers who are in NYC on March 16-17 could attend some Tolkien talks by Tolkienists, including John Garth and Robin Anne Reid, offered in partnership with The Morgan Library and Museum: Tolkien Weekend.
Sunday, March 17The New York Tolkien Conference Presenters include: Megan B. Abrahamson, Nicholas Birns, David Bratman, Janet Brennan Croft, John DiBartolo and the Lonely Mountain Band, Leslie Donovan, David Emerson, Jason Fisher, Peter Grybauskas, Yvette Kisor, Kristine Larsen, Ryder Miller, Robin Anne Reid, Ph.D., Chris Tuthill, and Christopher Vaccaro.
There’s a rundown of the conference programs here.
And at the top of the list is —
Atheists, Agnostics, and Animists, Oh, My!: Secular Readings of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium Robin Reid
This project considers the question of how fans of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium who are atheists, agnostics, or animists, that is, readers who do not, to varying degrees, profess belief in the Christian God or in any other religion’s Supreme Being, make meaning of his work in their lives. Using a mixed methodology approach, I will administer an online free-form survey asking for minimal demographic information and answers to open-ended questions allowing respondents to describe their experiences with religion, if any; their personal history of belief; their reading history and interpretations of Tolkien’s work, and their responses to the tendency in popular and academic thought to assume that Tolkien’s Christian beliefs must shape reader’s interpretation of his work.
…Their life work is typically arrayed on opposite ends of the fantasy spectrum: Tolkien is considered the Don of high fantasy, often characterized as possessing detailed secondary worlds of magic populated by casts of characters focused on matters of ponderous, world-shaking importance. Howard is recognized as the progenitor of sword and sorcery, associated with muscular heroes engaged in mercenary pursuits.
Yet the pair on occasion demonstrated striking similarities of thought, particularly regarding the harsh realities of material existence and the concomitant desire for escape. Both for example employed the same metaphor as life as a prison or cage, from which escape was a natural reaction by the feeling man….
…The most recent theatrical event I attended presented by Submersive was A Horse By The Tail In The Night, part of a series called The Institute of Visionary History and the Archives of the Deep Now. The company claims that during work on H. T. Darling, they uncovered experiments performed decades earlier by a secret society making use of the fact the museum in which they staged their happenings was a “thin place” — that is, a place where our world can bleed through to other times, other dimensions, other realities.
And so I found myself in a small room for eight hours with two seemingly immortal aristocrats who were apparently trapped there, and who struggled to cope with and understand their plight, repeating interactions — games, the telling of tales, the preparation of potions — with variations. I was sometimes fed by them, sometimes ignored, sometimes interrogated, and in those hours they, too, were creating something fantastic, something science fictional, something worth exploring on this podcast.
Science fiction takes many forms, the theater being one of them, and when it’s theater as otherworldly as this, I feel it’s an aspect of science fiction which deserves a place here. So I shared take-out from MayureeThai Tavern on the penultimate day of 2018 with the two actors who brought those doomed, immortal aristocrats to life, Lisi Stoessel and Francisco Benavides, as well the co-artistic directors of Submersive Productions, Glenn Ricci and Ursula Marcum.
We discussed the ways everything from Dragon Ball Z to Myst to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil stoked their love of the fantastic, how the funding came together for their first mesmeric show about the women in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, the dare that made their recent durational play grow to eight hours and the half-scripted/half-improvised way they were able to keep their performance going that long, how the actors found their voices by channeling Katherine Hepburn and Roberto Benigni, the multiple meanings of the most transcendent pie-eating scene I’ve ever witnessed in the theater, how they deal with introverted (as well as overly extroverted) audience members during immersive performances, the differences between improv comedy and improvisational theater, and much more.
…M. Night Shyamalan’s career-reviving 2017 picture Split was a two-fer boon. On one hand, it gave thriller fans a lurid, pop-psychology-based captivity film that pushed all their buttons; on the other, its final scene linked it to 2000’s Unbreakable, seen by many of the director’s one-time fans as his last strong offering before a slide into increasingly laughable projects.
In Glass, the writer-director aims to complete an opus much more ambitious than his breakthrough ghost story The Sixth Sense — still his only film that nearly everyone agrees works. As a trilogy-closer, it’s a mixed bag, tying earlier narrative strands together pleasingly while working too hard (and failing) to convince viewers Shyamalan has something uniquely brainy to offer in the overpopulated arena of comics-inspired stories….
The co-creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, and many more died in November — but a newly announced tribute event gives fans a chance to celebrate Stan Lee’s life. “Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible & Uncanny Life of Stan Lee” is set for Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
The event starts with a public appreciation for Lee outside the theater featuring what organizers describe as “fan-favorite speakers,” along with an art exhibit celebrating his legacy, costumes and props from both his movie cameos and the characters he created, and a musical performance. There’s also a moment of remembrance planned, with the crowd gathering around his Chinese Theatre hand and foot imprint.
The event continues with a private tribute inside the theater hosted by writer/director/host Kevin Smith. He’ll be moderating conversations with people sharing their favorite memories of Stan. The event closes with video tributes to Lee, along with live performances of his favorite music and poetry.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
Born January 11, 1906 – John Myers Myers. Ahhh, Silverlock. I read the NESFA Edition which has the Silverlock Companion in it which is very useful as you know the novel’s very meta indeed. If you don’t have this, it was reprinted separately later. Thirty years after Silverlock was published, The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter novella came out. Myers claims it’s a sequel to the novel. (Died 1988.)
Born January 11, 1923 – Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which Fantastic Voyage series, and Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.)
Born January 11, 1930 – Rod Taylor. First genre role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with SF film World Without End (which you probably heard of), The Time Machine (which I suspect you’ve heard of), Colossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script), The Birds (I don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.)
Born January 11, 1952 – Diana Gabaldon, 67. I must confess that I’ve not even considered reading her. I’ve friends who read her and enjoy immensely her Outlander series. They also avidly look forward to every new episode of the Outlander television series. Any of y’all fans of either?
Born January 11, 1955 – Rockne S. O’Bannon, 64. Creator of five genre series in Alien Nation, Cult, Defiance, Farscape and seaQuest. He also help write the Warehouse 13 pilot. He has also written and produced for Constantine, Revolution and V, among many other projects. (I loved Farscape and seaQuest butthought Defiance wentbad fast.)
Born January 11, 1961 – Jasper Fforde, 58. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted word play as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I’ve not, though I may be wrong, read his Shades of Grey books and I know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them.
Born January 11, 1963 – Jason Connery, 56. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved. He also played Jondar in the Vengeance on Varosstory on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (not one of my favorite Doctors. He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins.
When Isaac Asimov died, among the hundreds of works he left behind were the numerous stories and novels which made up his galaxy- and millennia-spanning super-series of Robots, Empire, and Foundation. This universe can often seem confusing and daunting to new readers, leaving them unsure of what to read and when. There’s no one way to read the series, so I hope to discuss the works in a way that will help readers decide for themselves.
If that’s not enough, Captain Marvel will also tell us the story of an already established Marvel character: Nick Fury. Played by Samuel L. Jackson, Fury is the ruthless chief of S.H.I.E.L.D. — well, of an organization that follows S.H.I.E.L.D. — that would do anything to defend the planet. He’s not a superhero himself, but he’s the one who recruited the Avengers, providing the support they needed to perform whatever tasks necessary to keep evil in check. He also has just one working eye, further proof that he’s not afraid to get into the action.
Fox has clarified there’s currently no movement on a new Alien movie or a sequel to video game Alien: Isolation. The Alien franchise will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2019, and Fox is preparing a number of projects to mark the event. They recently announced mobile title Alien: Blackout, which will continue the stressful adventures of Ripley’s daughter Amanda. Amanda was the main character in acclaimed 2014 video game Alien: Isolation, where she was stranded on a decaying space station with a nasty xenomorph. The game’s unrelenting challenge and tension made it a fan favorite.
Amanda Ripley will have a busy year in 2019 because, in addition to appearing in Blackout, she’ll also return for comic book series Alien: Resistance and a novelization of Isolation. This year will also see the release of a new documentary dubbed Memory – The Origins Of Alien, which will explore the development of the original movie, and Fox will unveil a series of six short fan films set in the universe too. There are also unconfirmed reports an Alien TV series is in development at a streaming service.
(13) IS IT WORTH THE BUZZ? BuzzFeed’s list of “27 Things That Are, Uh, A Little
Bit Weird” seems mostly to be a way for them to link to Amazon and
reap a little cash when their readers fall in love with some of those Weird
things and buy them. Nonetheless, there are a few things some genre fans might
fall in love with, so here they are:
If you ever find yourself sitting back in wonder as super-bright artificial meteors flash across the sky, you will be able to thank the credit crunch – at least in part. After the crisis of 2008 that Lena Okajima decided to leave her job at a financial company for a radical new venture: a firm that aimed to put satellites in orbit capable of launching artificial meteor showers.
“I had to change my job because the financial situation was very bad at the time,” she explains now, nearly 10 years later.
It was even earlier, way back in 2001, while watching the natural Leonid meteor shower that she first had the idea of trying to recreate such a display artificially.
“These meteor showers occurred from very small particles from outer space so we thought we could recreate the same situation using little satellites,” Okajima says.
When stars explode and die they can end up as rapidly spinning neutron stars. Astronomers think those found in a region with a high magnetic field might produce the strange signals.
(17) PUNISHER TRAILER. Back on the job. Back in the fight. Season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher debuts on Netflix
[Thanks to Robin Anne Reid, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]
…Let us, therefore, assume there will be no nuclear war — not necessarily a safe assumption — and carry on from there.
Computerization will undoubtedly continue onward inevitably. Computers have already made themselves essential to the governments of the industrial nations, and to world industry: and it is now beginning to make itself comfortable in the home.
An essential side product, the mobile computerized object, or robot, is already flooding into industry and will, in the course of the next generation, penetrate the home.
There is bound to be resistance to the march of the computers, but barring a successful Luddite revolution, which does not seem in the cards, the march will continue.
The growing complexity of society will make it impossible to do without them, except by courting chaos; and those parts of the world that fall behind in this respect will suffer so obviously as a result that their ruling bodies will clamour for computerization as they now clamour for weapons….
According to Netflix, this is the best debut week for any of its films ever. It’s worth pointing out that the 45 million number refers to accounts, not views or streams. So the figure isn’t even taking into consideration how many of us share Netflix or watched it with one or more viewing companions.
To put that number into perspective, if each of those accounts had paid $14 to see Bird Box — less than the price of a movie ticket in cities like New York — the Netflix thriller would have surpassed Aquaman‘s current global box office haul of $629 million.
The rare look at Netflix numbers reminds us how ubiquitous the streaming platform is, particularly with its international scope.
(4) WHITFIELD OBIT. Dame
June Whitfield who died
December 28, was famous for her work on Terry and June, the Carry On movies and Absolutely
Fabulous. However, in her long career she worked often, and occasionally
took genre roles, as in Doctor Who’s 2010
episode ”The End of Time Part II.”
I’m intrigued that one of her earliest credits was Yes, It’s The Cathode-Ray Tube Hour. Which
is a very campy title, but I don’t think they were doing camp yet in 1957. Or
As we celebrate other anniversaries and holidays, now is the day to celebrate a seminal moment in Star Trek history: the release of ‘The Trouble With Tribbles.’ As Captain Kirk navigates some Klingon troubles, he also must contend with the small, furry invaders who are eating everything and multiplying like bunnies all over his ship. It contains some great dialogue such as McCoy asking what happens when you feed a tribble too much and Kirk replying “a fat tribble?” and a great action scene in which Scotty fights some Klingons because they dared insult the Enterprise.
‘Tribbles’ is not necessarily an Emmy-worthy episode, but it’s a fun episode. It showcases the lighter, funnier side of Star Trek. Star Trek is about our humanity striving to overcome present biases to find a utopian future. ‘Tribbles’ embraces the weirdness of it all, while still depicting a non-violent solution to a dispute in which the problem is solved through diplomacy (and some Tribble trickery) rather than by shooting our way out.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 29, 1972 – Jude Law, 46. I think his first SF role was as Jerome Eugene Morrow In Gattaca followed by playing Gigolo Joe in A.I. with my fav role for him being the title role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He was Lemony Snicket In Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dr. John Watson in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Remy in Repo Man and he voiced Pitch Black in one of my favorite animated films, Rise of the Guardians.
(7) SHOULD AULD FICTION BE FORGOT? At Featured Futures, Jason’s compiled another list of the month’s memorable fiction in “Summation: December”.
December closes the year with little to fully recommend but with several good stories to note, mostly from unusual sources. These half-dozen tales were drawn from the month’s reading of 42 stories of 169K words (plus four November stories of 10K in December’s first review of the weeklies). Aside from the recommended stories, the most interesting items posted this month were probably (hopefully) this site’s “Year’s Best” and the start of the “Collated Contents” of the real “Year’s Bests” (linked in the News section at the end of this post).
Five years of comic book-inspired villains, noir gang power struggles and vigilante hero training has all led to this: the final season of Gotham.
With only 12 episodes of the series remaining […] Fox’s Batman prequel has a lot of loose ends to tie up before the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) can wear the cape and cowl for which he’s destined. And with the season four cliffhanger of Jeremiah (Cameron Monaghan) blowing up all the bridges and cutting Gotham off from the rest of the world, bringing the “No Man’s Land” arc from the comics to life, the series couldn’t be any further from that end goal. […]
With so much ground to cover in a limited amount of time, executive producer John Stephens tells The Hollywood Reporter that viewers should expect “a velocity to the story that we’ve never had before.”
…In 2016 controversy erupted before the annual Angouleme Festival International de la Bande Desinée over the festival’s lack of any women on the longlist to be awarded the festival’s Grand Prix de la ville d’Angouleme. The prize, given to a cartoonist for their body of work, had given to only a single woman in the festival’s history. Many creators originally up for the prize boycotted and withdrew their names from consideration. The committee ultimately awarded that year’s prize to Ms. Severin.
Only the fifth American to receive the award – after Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman and Bill Watterson – the decision to award it to Severin was at the time controversial. Since then it has come out that a number of men were put forward, but people were unable to come to a consensus. When Severin’s name was put forward, the vote was unanimous.
Severin was chosen for her body of work. For her connection to EC Comics, to Mad, to Silver Age superhero comics. Her work represents the ways that comics managed to penetrate the counterculture and transform it and society at large. She represented the ways that the medium has its connections to illustration and design through the work she and her contemporaries had been doing in recent decades, but also through the influence of her father, who was an illustrator, and that early tradition of illustration that so influenced early comics….
(10) NIGHTFLYERS REVIEW.
Matthew Kadish gives his rundown on Nightflyers
in a thread that starts here.
(11) BELATED BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge. He was on time – I’m the one who fell behind!]
Born December 27, 1922 – Stan Lee. Summarizing his career is quite beyond my abilities. He created and popularized Marvel Comics in a way that company is thought to be the creation of Stan Lee in way that DC is not. He co-created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man, an impressive list by any measure.I see he’s won Eisner and Kirby Awards but no sign of a Hugo. Is that correct? (Died 2018.)
Born December 27, 1932 – Nichelle Nicols, 86. Uruhu on the original Trek. She reprised her character in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Other film SF roles included Ruana in Tarzan’s Deadly Silence with Ron Ely as Tarzan, High Priestess of Pangea in The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, Oman in Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes and Mystic Woman in American Nightmares. Series appearances have been as Lieutenant Uhura and additional voices in the animated Trek, archive footage of herself in the “Trials and Tribble-ations” DS9 episode and Captain Nyota Uhura In Star Trek: Of Gods and Men which may or may not be canon.
Born December 27, 1973 – Wilson Cruz, 45. His first SF role was as Benj Sotomejor in Supernova, a film disowned by damn everyone involved with it. His second credit was a minor role as Sid Tango in the Pushing Daisies series. His third was is damn good — he’s Dr. Hugh Culber on Star Trek: Discovery, a series that for all the whining for it bring on a premium station should be one that you go and watch — it’s that’s good.
Born December 27, 1977 — Sinead Keenan, 41. Best known for playing the role of the werewolf Nina Pickering in Being Human, she would show up in Doctor Who in the “The End of Time” episode as Addams. For those of you interested in Awards, she was in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot as a fan, the show being a comedy spoof and homage to Doctor Who that featured a lot of the actors who’d played The Doctor and damn near anyone else involved in it down the years. It was nominated for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form.)
Born December 28, 1983 – Olivia Cooke, 25. For a youngster, she’s impressive genre creds starting off with The Quiet Ones, a British a supernatural horror film followed by a SF thrilled titled The Signal. From there she went on to The Limehouse Golem based on a Peter Ackroyd novel, and was in Ready Player One. Series wise, she was in The Secret of Crickley Hall before getting the main role of Emma Decody In Bates Motel. I’d be absolutely remiss not to note she voiced the Loch Ness Monster in the animated Axe Cop series.
Born December 27, 1995 – Timothy Chalamet, 23. First SF role was as Young Tom Cooper in the well received Interstellar. To date, his only other genre role has been as Zac in One & Two but I’m strongly intrigued that he’s set to play Paul Atreides In Director Denis Villeneuve forthcoming Dune. Villeneuve is doing it as a set of films instead of just one film.
Born December 28, 1934 – Maggie Smith, 84. First genre role was as Theis in Clash of the Titans with Minerva McGonagall In the Harry Potter films being her best known role. She also played Linnet Oldknow in From Time to Time and voiced Miss Shepherd, I kid you not, in two animated Gnomes films.
Born December 28, 1979 – Noomi Rapace, 39. She played Madame Simza Heron in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, had the lead role of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw in Prometheus, Renee in Rapture, played all the seven lead roles in What Happened to Monday and was in Bright as Leilah.
The death of Carrie Fisher two years ago was a shock to a great many people, not the least of whom were Star Wars fans. She had a prominent role in the last film, The Last Jedi, as Leia Organa, and was supposed to play a major part in Star Wars Episode IX, which is currently being shot by The Force Awakens’J.J. Abrams. The big question was how she would be written out of the series.
There had been rumors — quickly debunked by Lucasfilm — that a digital version of Carrie would be created to wrap up her character arc. After all, one had previously been created for the conclusion of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which was designed as a prequel to 1977’s Episode IV: A New Hope and which concluded with the moments leading up to that film, including Carrie’s Princess Leia recording a message into the R2D2 droid. The next rumor was that outtakes from both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi featuring the actress would be featured. Now comes word from her brother, Todd Fisher, that it could be considerably more than that.
(13) BEST AND WORST TREK EPISODES RANKED (CONFUSINGLY!)[Item by Mike Kennedy.] At the end of each year we are besieged by too many lists of the best of this or the worst of that for the year. The subject here isn’t one of those, but rather an attempt to rank the best & worst all timeStar Trek episodes across the various series as an entity (ScreenRant: “Star Trek: The 10 All Time Best (And 10 Worst) Episodes, Officially Ranked”). In a side note, it is hereby acknowledged that columnist Joseph Walter should be sentenced to 40 lashes with a wet noodle—if not indeed more—for using the rather officious term “Officially Ranked” in the title.
Star Trek, throughout many moments of its many seasons, has been a prime example of superior science-fiction television, and has had a tremendous effect on not only fans of the genre, but curious outsiders who found themselves drawn into the well-developed world of our space-faring future, complete with wonderfully multi-dimensional characters, harrowing plots, and impactful commentary on any number of current day issues through the gaze of fiction.
[…] Unfortunately, for every tremendous success in that particular realm, there are often some Picard-styled face-palming failures. Trek has given us some of the greatest science-fiction episodes of all time, along with some of the worst, and we’ve dug through both sides of the spectrum and compiled a list that’ll set the record straight on the many ups and downs the franchise has produced.
The list interleaves the best and worst, counting down from the 10th best (at item #20) to the very worst (at item #1). Walter provides his reasoning for each choice, but herewith the list itself:
20 Best: The Trouble With Tribbles (TOS)
19 Worst: These Are the Voyages… (ENT)
18 Best: Year of Hell (VOY)
17 Worst: The Fight (VOY)
16 Best: Trials and Tribble-Ations (DS9)
15 Worst: The Omega Glory (TOS)
14 Best: Measure of a Man (TNG)
13 Worst: A Night in Sickbay (ENT)
12 Best: In the Pale Moonlight (DS9)
11 Worst: The Way to Eden (TOS)
10 Best: The Best of Both Worlds (TNG)
9 Worst: The Savage Curtain (TOS)
8 Best: Far Beyond the Stars (DS9)
7 Worst: Threshold (VOY)
6 Best: The City On the Edge of Forever (TOS)
5 Worst: Shades of Gray (TNG)
4 Best: The Visitor (DS9)
3 Worst: Spock’s Brain (TOS)
2 Best: All Good Things… (TNG)
1 Worst: Code of Honor (TNG)
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Xerox’s Paradox” on Vimeo, John Butler
imagines what sort of high-tech clothes we will wear to keep our competitive
[Thanks to Alan Baumler, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, John A Arkansawyer, Jason, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
Big Finish have scored a major coup by persuading Georgia Tennant to return to her brief role as Jenny, the Tenth Doctor’s cloned daughter, for more sfnal adventures across space and time, flanked by Sean Biggerstaff as the innocent but mysterious Noah, and both pursued by Siân Philips (who was Livia in I, Claudius forty years ago) as a vengeful cyborg, the Colt-5000. (Georgia Moffatt, as she then was, had a part in a Big Finish audio back in 2000, when she was only 16.)
Walt Disney Imagineers work diligently to create the most incredible experiences in the world. Sometimes, however, they take their immeasurable talents and create these experiences elsewhere. That’s the case for former Imagineer Josh Shipley.
According to his LinkedIn page, Shipley started with the Walt Disney Company in 1992 and became an Imagineer in 1996. He left Disney Imagineering in 2017 and began working on an immersive new experience park (located in Pleasant Grove, Utah) known as Evermore.
(3) ALL YOUR BASE. The Hugo Awards official site now has some very nice photos of the 2018 Hugo Award base created by Sara Felix and Vincent Villafranca, including closeups of the figures, inscriptions, and other details.
(4) STILL TIME TO HELP. A GoFundMe created to help Samanda Jeude is still open for donations. It’s received only a little over $1,000 so far. One of the incentives was a 1986 Hugo Award trophy.
Science Fiction Fandom lost a long time friend and organizer in January, in the form of Donald (Dea) Cook. He left behind another well-known fan, his wife of over 30 years, Samanda Jeude. Samanda is best known for establishing the organization Electrical Eggs, the first Disability Access organization in the Science Fiction community. Don was Sam’s sole career. She had polio as an infant, and that was complicated later in life by a couple of strokes. She now resides in a nursing home in Canton, Georgia. We helped to clear out the house to get it sold, and are now selling all of the contents to pay for Samanda’s ongoing care needs. How does any of this involve a Hugo, you might ask, and rightfully so!
Marcia Kelly Illingworth organized the appeal, and says the Hugo will stay in the fannish family, so to speak:
The votes are in! The people have spoken! You have voted overwhelmingly to donate the Hugo to Fandom. I think I always knew that you would. Samanda thanks you, and I thank you!
We are leaving the fund open for a while longer for those who still wanted the opportunity to donate. Thank you again for all of your support.
Since donors have voted to donate the Hugo to fandom rather than have it be auctioned off to the highest bidder, that means less money raised for Samanda’s ongoing care. Given her service to fandom, it would be great to see further donations from fans.
(5) HIS PREFERRED WINNER. Nicholas Whyte has one thing in common with all Hugo voters – he thinks sometimes the wrong book loses — in this case, “Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson”.
Second paragraph of third chapter:
But there are worse places to live. There are much worse places right here in this U-Stor-It. Only the big units like this one have their own doors. Most of them are accessed via a communal loading dock that leads to a maze of wide corrugated-steel hallways and freight elevators. These are slum housing, 5-by-10s and 10-by-10s where Yanoama tribespersons cook beans and parboil fistfuls of coca leaves over heaps of burning lottery tickets.
This popped to the top of one of my lists just at the moment that I have been reading some of the other award winners from 1994. Snow Crash was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award (won by Jeff Noon’s Vurt) and the BSFA Award (won by Christopher Evans’ The Aztec Century); also on both of those shortlists was Ammonite by Nicola Griffith, which won the Tiptree. The Hugo for Best Novel was shared between A Fire On The Deep and Doomsday Book, the latter winning the Nebula as well; Snow Crash was on the Hugo long-list, but nowhere for the Nebula. (It did win two awards in French translation, and one in Spanish.)
This is surely one of those cases where the awards in general (and particularly across the Atlantic) failed to spot the classic in the making: Snow Crash now has more owners on LibraryThing than any two of the other books named above combined (which is why I read it; see below). I think it’s much the best of them.
Replace new tab page with a personalized dashboard that brings your very own version of The Good Place right to your desktop.
Calling all Good Place fans! Make The Good Place your Chrome home with an all-new tab page that features your favorite characters, quotes and photos from the show. Complete with weather updates, calendar reminders, and daily “inspiration” from Eleanor and the crew, you can become more productive and feel like you’re getting into The Good Place every single time you go online.
-Replace curse words from your Chrome with the Obscenities Censor
-Search the web using your very own Janet
-Pry yourself away from the internet with the “Joy of Missing Out” built-in break reminders
-Replace “Thumbs up” and “Thumbs down” buttons on YouTube with “Good Place” and “Bad Place”
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
September 8, 1966 — A little TV show, Star Trek, aired its first episode, “The Man Trap,” written by George Clayton Johnson.
Just over two months after Star Trek first beamed up to audiences on NBC during the 8:30 p.m. hour on Sept. 8, 1966, creator Gene Roddenberry wrote a column explaining the scope of his ambitious space series — and why it aimed for much more “science” than “fiction.” His original column in The Hollywood Reporter, “Science Fiction Thing of Past,” is below:
Imagine a space vessel, larger than any naval vessel known, crossing our galaxy at a velocity surpassing the speed of light. Fourteen decks, a crew of over 430 persons. A whole city afloat in space.
Science fiction? Absolutely not. Rather, real adventure in tomorrow’s space. Based upon the best scientific knowledge and estimates of what our astronauts of the future may face when they move out of our own solar system and into the vastness of our galaxy. Other worlds like ours? Other peoples? What?
Our starship, designed with the help of space experts, is the United Space Ship Enterprise. The place — NBC-TV, Thursday nights. In full color, this new action-adventure format boasts flesh and blood stars like talented William Shatner playing Ship’s Captain Kirk; love Grace Lee Whitney playing Yeoman Janice Rand; and Leonard Nimoy in an unusual new role as the half-alien Mister Spock. Plus talents such as DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Jimmy Doohan and Nichelle Nichols.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 8 – John Boardman, 85. Editor, fanzine Knowable; his Diplomacy zine, Graustark turned fifty a few years ago. Active in civil rights as a student as Florida State University which got him expelled from his doctoral studies program there.
Born September 8 – Michael Hague, 70. Illustrator of his own work including The Book of Dragons, Michael Hague’s Magical World of Unicorns, The Book of Fairies, The Book of Wizards and Michael Hague’s Read-to-Me Book of Fairy Tales; also interior and cover art for such genre works as The Hobbit, The Wizard of Oz and The Wind in The Willows.
Born September 8 – Gordon Van Gelder, 54. Editor, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The New York Review of Science Fiction and a smattering of anthologies including Go Forth and Multiply and Welcome to the Greenhouse. Reviewer as well.
Born September 8 – Matt Ruff, 53. Author of quite a number of genre novels including Fool on The Hill, Lovecraft Country which was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls which may or may not be genre fiction but never-the-less won a James Tiptree Jr. Award.
(10) GAP IN EXHIBIT. Holly Ordway, in “The Maker of the Maker of Middle-earth” at Christianity Today, reviews the Bodleian Tolkien exhibit and examines why it says little about Tolkien’s strong religious faith.
…There are many ways that Tolkien’s Christian faith could have been represented, even in the relatively limited space available. One item already on display was a 1914 letter to Edith. The display label transcribes, from Tolkien’s small and difficult-to-read handwriting, a paragraph about officer-training maneuvers on Port Meadow.
Immediately following this portion of the original letter is Tolkien’s comment that the next day “I got up at 7.40 and just reached church on time, and went to Communion.” Just one more sentence on an already existing display label would have given a glimpse of Tolkien’s faith in practice. As it is, nearly all visitors will miss this reference entirely; I very nearly did.
Other extracts from letters could have been shown, such as the 1956 letter in which Tolkien relates Frodo’s failure to give up the Ring to the petition in the Lord’s Prayer “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Or perhaps the 1944 letter in which Tolkien discusses modern healing miracles and describes the Resurrection as the “happy ending” of human history.
Several examples of his Elvish calligraphy were displayed; one could have been selected from the prayers that Tolkien translated into Elvish, such as the Lord’s Prayer. Both the 1956 letter and this translation show the way that Tolkien’s faith, and indeed specifically his prayer life, had an influence on his writing—exactly the kind of influence we would hope to see emphasized in an exhibit on an author.
…These references, if they had been included, need not have been emphasized, but for one who knows of Tolkien’s faith, the absence of any such small detail is striking.
Playing It Safe
Why might the Tolkien Estate and the Bodleian have chosen to downplay Tolkien’s faith? And why does it matter? …
In this free-form interview, Francesco Verso, explores the topics of transhumanism, consumer culture, and the philosophical aspects of Nexhuman. He also discusses his work in the context of English language publications and the emergence of global voices in Science Fiction, including his own anthology, called Future Fiction, which was co-edited by Bill Campbell and published by Rosarium Press.
(12) NZ NATCON REPORT. SF Concatenation has posted a report on the New Zealand national sf convention by Lee Murray (with an assist from Simon Litten) — “Conclave III”. The convention was held the weekend of March 30-April 2, 2018 in Auckland.
Then we were on to Norman Cates’ WETA presentation to get the skinny on all the new techniques making our movie viewing epic. As is customary with Norman’s presentation, I could tell you about all the wonderful clips he showed us, but then I’d have to kill you, or Norman would, or WETA’s lawyers would have to engage a hitman. In any case, it was cool.
Next up, was the Other Voices panel, moderated by Stephen Litten, where we were joined by Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body author Simon Petrie and Indiana fantasy writer, Laura VanArendonk Baugh. It’s a lively discussion, with some great insights from my fellow panellists around the definition ‘other’ and the value of including marginalised and foreign-to-us voices on our reading lists. We discussed the vagaries of translation and the layering of culture that occurs when works are translated by a second voice. We touched on appropriation and the discourse surrounding Aboriginal and Maori mythologies. Panellists and audience members raised some seminal works from other cultures, including French, Italian, Japanese titles, which we all felt should be included on our must-read lists.
Below is a list of just some of the things people of the past said robots would do in the near future. Many of them are fun or weird, while others are downright scary. But they’re all still “futuristic.” For now.
Robots were supposed to replace school teachers.
Robots were supposed to be professional boxers.
Robots were supposed to pay taxes.
Robots were supposed to pull off their heads and become the sickest drum set you’ve ever seen.
And by 2076, robots were supposed to run for president.
Artificial intelligence can take many forms. But it’s roughly defined as a computer system capable of tackling human tasks like sensory perception and decision-making. Since its earliest days, AI has fallen prey to cycles of extreme hype—and subsequent collapse. While recent technological advances may finally put an end to this boom-and-bust pattern, cheekily termed an “AI winter,” some scientists remain convinced winter is coming again.
The article goes on to discuss the first “winter” that occurred during the early Cold War when natural language translation proved to be a much more difficult task that anticipated and another beginning in the 70s/80s when the Lisp machine didn’t live up to its hype as an AI solution. Author Eleanor Cummins expresses concern that, among other things, self-driving cars are over-promised and may be under-delivered, then concludes that:
Much like actual seasonal shifts, AI winters are hard to predict. What’s more, the intensity [of] each event can vary widely. Excitement is necessary for emerging technologies to make inroads, but it’s clear the only way to prevent a blizzard is calculated silence—and a lot of hard work. As Facebook’s former AI director Yann LeCun told IEEE Spectrum, “AI has gone through a number of AI winters because people claimed things they couldn’t deliver.”
At a symposium in Washington DC on Friday, DARPA announced plans to invest $2 billion in artificial intelligence research over the next five years.
In a program called “AI Next,” the agency now has over 20 programs currently in the works and will focus on “enhancing the security and resiliency of machine learning and AI technologies, reducing power, data, performance inefficiencies and [exploring] ‘explainability’” of these systems.
“Machines lack contextual reasoning capabilities, and their training must cover every eventuality, which is not only costly, but ultimately impossible,” said director Dr. Steven Walker. “We want to explore how machines can acquire human-like communication and reasoning capabilities, with the ability to recognize new situations and environments and adapt to them.”
In April, we reported that Apple was working on developing a TV series based on Isaac Asimov’s highly influential Foundation series of science fiction novels. Today, Ars has confirmed not only that Foundation was in development, but it has now been given a full series order—meaning we’re definitely going to see it.
As previously reported, David Goyer (screenwriter for The Dark Knight and Batman Begins) and Josh Friedman (creator of the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and screenwriter for Steven Spielberg’s 2005 War of the Worlds film) will be the showrunners and executive producers. The series is being produced by Skydance Television, and Skydance CEO David Ellison will be an executive producer for the series (he is the son of famed Oracle executive Larry Ellison). Isaac Asimov’s daughter, Robyn Asimov, will also executive produce, along with Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross.
There’s a light in the night sky over Canada that’s puzzling scientists. It looks like a white-purple ribbon. It’s very hot, and doesn’t last long. And it’s named STEVE.
STEVE: as in, Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.
Scientists don’t actually know what’s causing the atmospheric phenomenon, which has been known to amateur photographers of the night sky for decades but only recently came to the attention of researchers.
Genetic analysis uncovers a direct descendant of two different groups of early humans.
A female who died around 90,000 years ago was half Neanderthal and half Denisovan, according to genome analysis of a bone discovered in a Siberian cave. This is the first time scientists have identified an ancient individual whose parents belonged to distinct human groups….
(19) BEFORE MARVEL WAS A SURE THING. Looper has a roster of Marvel TV Shows You Completely Forgot About. Or in my case, never heard of to begin with….
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Daniel Dern, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) BRIAN KEENE BURN INJURY. Horror author and podcaster Brian Keene is hospitalized, reports Stephen Kozeniewski, who has started a “Brian Keene Burn Fund” at GoFundMe:
On June 5, 2018, author, podcaster, philanthropist, and father Brian Keene was badly burned in an accident. At this time he is conscious and in good spirits but has first degree burns on his face and second degree burns on his body.
As a freelance author, Brian does not have health insurance. We’re not sure at this time how long he’ll be in treatment, or how much the bill will be, but any visit to the hospital is expensive, and will only be compounded by lost wages from not being able to work.
We’re asking the community of writers, horror fans, and just decent human beings in general to chip in a few dollars to help get Brian back on his feet and spending time with his loving girlfriend and sons. We’d be very grateful for anything you can afford to contribute.
The appeal has raised $14,415 of its $15,000 goal in the first four hours online.
Keene co-hosts of The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Last May, they held that 24-hour telethon and raised roughly $21,000 in support of Scares That Care.
Kozeniewski added in an update, “What we know right now is that the wind shifted while Brian was burning brush.”
(2) ALL YOUR COMIC CONVENTION ARE BELONG TO US. Those lovable knuckleheads who run San Diego Comic-Con International would like a federal judge to award them several million dollars in attorney fees after winning their lawsuit against the Salt Lake Comic Con. Courthouse News has the story: “San Diego Comic-Con: ‘Comic Convention’ Is Ours”.
…U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia heard a host of posttrial motions Thursday, including San Diego Comic-Con’s request for over $4.5 million in attorney fees which have already been paid in full.
San Diego Comic-Con attorney Callie Bjurstrom with Pillsbury Law told Battaglia Thursday he should find the case is “exceptional” so that attorney fees and costs can be awarded.
“This was a very expensive case; the reason this case was so expensive was because of defendants and their counsel and the way they litigated this case,” Bjurstrom said.
She pointed out Brandenburg testified at trial he knew about San Diego Comic-Con’s trademarks but still used “Comic Con” to name his Utah convention. Bjurstrom said the Salt Lake owners engaged in a “public intimidation campaign” once San Diego Comic-Con sent them a cease-and-desist letter to stop infringing the trademark and that Salt Lake’s attorneys filed meritless motions, “flip-flopped” on legal theories and violated court orders throughout the three-year litigation.
“If this case isn’t exceptional, I don’t know what is,” Bjurstrom said.
San Diego Comic-Con also asked Battaglia to permanently bar the Salt Lake convention from using its trademarks, arguing its reputation has been irreparably harmed by the confusion to consumers.
During the trial, San Diego Comic-Con presented evidence its attendees had contacted its employees about the Salt Lake convention, believing the two events were associated.
But San Diego Comic-Con’s request went a step further than simply asking Battaglia to enjoin the Salt Lake convention operators from infringing its trademarks: it asked the judge to bar the Salt Lake convention from using the words “comic convention” or phonetic equivalents to “Comic Con” or “comic convention.”
Bjurstrom said the injunction should include any spelling variation on “Comic Con” which is pronounced the same as the San Diego trademark, including spelling it with a “K” or “Kahn.”
“Whether you spell Comic Con with a ‘C’ or a ‘K’, it’s pronounced the same. It is exactly the same when you say it,” Bjurstrom said.
San Diego Comic-Con also asked the judge to order the Salt Lake operators to destroy marketing and advertising materials which make reference to “Comic Con” and to cease operating websites and social media accounts which reference the trademark.
Battaglia took the motions under submission and will issue a written order.
It seems Wikipedia is aware of its systemic bias, as detailed in this article. Read this, and related pieces, and I imagine many of you will note, with the weary contempt of familiarity, the repeated insistence that it’s up to women themselves, and other under-represented groups to do all the hard work here. Though I haven’t found anything addressing the issue I raise above, explaining what we’re expected to do when sufficient acceptable citations simply do not exist, and those references that do exist are not deemed acceptable. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
On the plus side, I have learned that there are dedicated groups of female and other special-interest Wikipedians spending considerable time and effort updating and expanding pages, intent on correcting this bias. Mind you, I also learned their work is frequently challenged and even undone by other Wikipedians applying the all too prevalent and far too often white western male logic of ‘not of interest to me personally = not of interest to anyone’. And of course, such challenges can very easily be a thinly veiled cover for actively discriminatory behaviour. Having read the Wikipedia page on handling tendentious editing, I am not in the least reassured that this is in any way satisfactorily addressed.
Science fiction ruled on May 15 at Swann Galleries’ auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature. Selections from the Estate of Stanley Simon, featuring 84 rare and first editions of cornerstones of the genre, boasted a 98% sell-through rate. All of the offered titles by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Stephen King sold, with many achieving auction records.
Leading the pack was a signed first edition of Dick’s dystopian novel The Man in the High Castle, 1962, which was purchased by a collector for $10,400, above a high estimate of $6,000, a record for the work. Another record was achieved by a signed first edition of Ubik, 1969, at $5,500, while the auction debut of the rare galley proofs for Valis, 1981, reached $5,000.
Simon had acquired several uncorrected proofs of important works, none of which had previously appeared at auction. While not strictly science-fiction, material by Stephen King outperformed in this category. The highlight was the presentation copy of an uncorrected proof of The Stand, 1978, which sold to a collector for $9,100. Also available were one of apparently 28 copies of proofs of King’s The Shining, 1977, inscribed, which sold for five times its high estimate for $6,250, and the complete six-volume set of uncorrected proofs of King’s The Green Mile, 1996, exceeded its $1,200 high estimate to sell for $5,200.
Another highlight from the Simon estate was the complete Foundation trilogy, 1951-53, by Isaac Asimov. Together, the three signed first editions achieved an auction record of $9,750. Also by Asimov, a signed first edition of I, Robot, 1950, reached $6,250, above a high estimate of $3,500. Important editions of Ray Bradbury’s magnum opus Fahrenheit 451, 1953, were led by the limited author’s edition personally inscribed to Simon ($7,500). The popular asbestos-bound edition reached $5,200. All six editions offered were purchased….
(5) LE GUIN’S LAST EARTHSEA STORY. The Paris Review has a story by Ursula K. Le Guin. And not just any story, but a final Earthsea tale, written a year before her death. (So I’m guessing it’s the last one.)
He was thinking of Lookfar, abandoned long ago, beached on the sands of Selidor. Little of her would be left by now, a plank or two down in the sand maybe, a bit of driftwood on the western sea. As he drifted near sleep he began to remember sailing that little boat with Vetch, not on the western sea but eastward, past Far Toly, right out of the Archipelago. It was not a clear memory, because his mind had not been clear when he made that voyage, possessed by fear and blind determination, seeing nothing ahead of him but the shadow that had hunted him and that he pursued, the empty sea over which it had fled.
(6) BUMBLEE TRAILER. This movie will be in theaters at Christmas.
Every adventure has a beginning. Watch the official teaser trailer for Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY PRODUCER
Born June 5, 1953 – Kathleen Kennedy
(8) IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE. Of possible interest to Sarah Gailey fans (because of a hippo reference) is this segment from the June 3 episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, on the subject of guardianship for the elderly. The relevant portion starts at about the 13:20 mark. That’s where John Oliver introduces a new PSA on the subject, starring several celebrities – including William Shatner.
(9) DOG DAYS. This perfect poem inspired a thread of deep appreciation for the artist…
My Soul Has Forgotten How to Bork, a poem by my dog IT DOES A RAIN AGAIN MY PAWS DO NOT LIKE IT DOES A NO SUN MY BUNS DO NOT LIKE IT DOES A WHY DO I ONLY GET FOOD TWICE A DAY MY BELLY CRIES OUT IN LONGING MY SOUL HAS FORGOTTEN HOW TO BORK WHAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF A BORK KROB KROB
Rapunzel, the long-haired maiden locked in a tower by an evil witch, has been immortalized in countless bedtime stories and adaptations, from the Brothers Grimm to Disney. There is even a teenage rapper who goes by the name RapUnzel.
Now, a private company wants to lock the princess’s name in a castle fortified by United States trademark law.
But this attempt to register the trademark for the name Rapunzel has unleashed fervent opposition, not from Hasbro or Mattel, but from an impassioned group of Suffolk University Law School professors and students.
Here in America we like our add-ins, ice cream and candy full of other candy, nuts, random sweets, and sometimes savories. Chuao (pronounced Chew-WOW) has a shelf-load of such, chocolate bars with all the goodies, created by Venezuelan chef Michael Antonorsi.
Most of the bars I tried were terrific but some are more successful than others. Idiosyncrasies of taste may make a difference; when I tweeted about the one I really disliked, someone mentioned that was their favorite, and bemoaned not being able to find it. And it’s not entirely fair to stack dark chocolate up against milk, particularly given that my sweet tooth resembles that of a six-year-old’s. Still, I present them in order of how much I liked them, from most to least.
First up, the “Baconluxious”. Described as “delicate maple sweetness, a sprinkle of bonfire smoked sea salt and crispy, uncured bacon in milk chocolate.” This had a nice aroma and when tasted, an immediate smoothness to its mouth feel, followed by a wash of saltiness and not-unpleasant grittiness before the final bacon note, leaving just a few salt crystals to be crunched between the tooth and savored. This was delicious to the point where I thought I would and then did readily pick one of these up again. And probably will again and again….
(16) A BOY AND HIS ROBO DOG. The AXL Official Trailer came out recently.
In the vein of classic ‘80s family movies SHORT CIRCUIT and FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, A.X.L. is a new adventure about a down-on-his luck teenage bike rider, Miles (Alex Neustaedter), who stumbles upon an advanced, robotic, military dog named A.X.L. Endowed with next-generation artificial intelligence but with the heart of a dog, A.X.L. forms an emotional bond with Miles, much to the chagrin of the rogue military scientists who created A.X.L. and would do anything to retrieve him. Knowing what is at stake if A.X.L. gets captured, Miles teams up with his smart, resourceful crush, Sara (Becky G), to protect his new best friend on a timeless, epic adventure for the whole family.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Robin Reid, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Jonathan Cowie, Martin More Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, K.M. Alexander, Rev. Bob, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Michael D. Toman, Carl Slaughter, Steve Johnson, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]