CoNZealand Assumes Role as Next Worldcon

With Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon ending its five-day run, CoNZealand has picked up the reins as host of the next World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon).

CoNZealand will be the 78th Worldcon and will take place from Wednesday, July 29 to Sunday, August 2, 2020. Guests of Honour are the authors Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, New Zealand artist Greg Broadmore, and fandom star Rose Mitchell. George R.R. Martin, a longtime friend of Worldcon, will be Toastmaster.

New Zealand is the second southern hemisphere country ever to host a Worldcon, following Australia, where four Worldcons have taken place. New Zealand’s own National Science Fiction Convention has been running since 1979, and the country has attracted significant fan tourism since the release of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, which were filmed and produced in New Zealand.

“We’re excited to be able to bring one of the world’s most important science fiction conventions to New Zealand fans, and bring the international science fiction community to Middle Earth,” said CoNZealand Co-Chairs Norman Cates and Kelly Buehler.

Dublin 2019 sold out, with more than 5,800 members attending and more than 7,380 memberships sold in total including supporters. In addition, more than 500 day passes were sold.
 
“It has been a thrill to welcome fans to Ireland and I want to thank everyone who contributed to the experience,” said Dublin 2019 chairman James Bacon. “That includes programme participants, volunteers, and all the members, as well as venue staff. We wish CoNZealand every success with New Zealand’s debut Worldcon.”

[Based on a press release.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask — Special Irish Worldcon Edition, Day One

Dublin — late afternoon

DAY ONE

By Chris M. Barkley: After a brutal and taxing trans-Atlantic transit on Monday, my partner Juli and I were able to obtain our membership badges fairly easily Tuesday morning.

Yesterday was mainly spent getting used to our surroundings and the weather; the city could have been any busy port city in New England in tone save for the local traffic patterns were the opposite from what we Americans were used to and the skies were for the most part slightly chilly, overcast with partial, misty showers throughout the day.

At 10:20 a.m., Juli and I walked to the Convention Centre which was located less than a kilometer away from the gated apartment complex we were renting for the week.

My first panel was at 11 a.m. in a moderately sized room on the second floor of the Centre, “Crime and Punishment in the Age of Superheroes.” Since it was early in the morning on the first day, my expectations were quite low. I met my fellow panelists, UK fan Rachel Coleman and US novelist Dan Moren in the Green Room situated at the top floor of the building. In our initial greetings they reminded me that I was the moderator of the panel, which I had conveniently forgotten and was a momentary source of amusement. Our fourth member, the Hugo-nominated French author Aliette de Bodard was missing but we weren’t particularly worried that she might not show.

Imagine our surprise when we walked into our room and saw that it was nearly standing room only crowd! As we settled in, Ms. de Bodard came hustling in out of breath but quite able and willing to dive into our subject.

What followed was a lively session in which we discussed the degree superheroes might be legally liable for their activities, the rendition of super villains, how any super-powered person might be tried and imprisoned and what sort of punishment would be appropriate and what would be considered “cruel and unusual punishment”.

One of the more entertaining bits of discussion was comparing the relative degree of danger a person the psychological profile like Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne would be versus some like Peter Parker, who, at least at this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is relatively altruistic.

As always with the panels I moderate, half the time was spent with the panel and the remaining time we took comments and questions from the audience.  

We could have easily gone on for another hour. At the end of our time, the audience gave us a healthy round of applause  and we were quite pleased with their participation.

My next panel, “Sports in Science Fiction and Fantasy” was scheduled for 2 p.m. We decided to cruise through the Dealer’s Room, which was rather smaller in comparison to the previous Worldcons I have attended but I was quite happy with the number of vendors and their wares.

Another early shopper was the well-known media mogul/mega best-selling author George R.R. Martin (pictured below), who was only slightly disguised (eschewing his usual fishing cap in favor of a Game of Thrones baseball cap) and enjoying himself immensely. He also took a moment to take me to task for proposing yet another Hugo Award category (In this case, the Best Translated Novel, which might be discussed at the Main Business Meeting if it is passed on from the Preliminary Business Meeting on Friday.)

“It’s getting to be too much,” Martin said. “I hope it doesn’t get to be like the Emmy Awards.”

“What do you mean,” I asked.

“Well, some of the awards are not going to be televised and are going to be given out before the show. I don’t want that to happen to the Hugos.”

I assured GRRM that I did not want that to happen either and that I personally did not have any plans to introduce any other changes at the moment. We then parted, he with a somewhat relieved look on his face. Have a Happy Worldcon, George…

I had to make a courtesy visit to the Press Office, where Daniel Dern presented me with a spare File 770 “Scum and Villainy” button and met the Area Head, the gracious and amiable Diana Ben-Aron, who presented me with a Press ribbon.   

UK fan Neil Williamson was the moderator of “Sports in Science Fiction and Fantasy” along with novelist Fonda Lee, prolific writer Rick Wilber (author of many baseball and sports related short stories. I described myself as a lifelong baseball fan whose home is also that of the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, celebrating this year the 150th Anniversary of the first team.

With that, I pulled out my black ESPN cap and offered a Euro to the first person who could tell me what the letter  “E” stood for. A number of US fans in the audience were flummoxed by the challenge but a quick-thinking male European fan remembered that it stood for Entertainment Sports Programming Network. Hilarity ensued when I fumbled around and was unable to FIND the coin in my change purse. Anxious to move on, Neil produced a coin and paid off the winner. (Juli gave me a coin to reimburse Neil and I found the coin later and paid her back…)

Fonda Lee and Rick Wilber gave some excellent examples through their own works of how the portrayal of sports in fiction gave some insight into the societies they were writing about. Neil and I mostly mused on how the sports we love might change in the future. Again, the audience seemed to have had a good time and gave us all a round of applause.

From there we checked off the obligatory “American food experience in a foreign country” of the travel list with a lunch at Eddie Rocket’s, a disturbingly familiar place that served burgers, fries and milkshakes. (Picture)

The restaurant was adjacent to the Odeon Theater at The Point our next programming destination, where artist John Picacio was giving a slideshow overview of his works. The venue was rather unique because it took place in a mid-sized movie theater in the complex.

Mr. Picacio regaled the almost full house with stories of how he became artist, techniques and style tips for beginning artists and some fascinating stories of how George R.R. Martin roped him into doing the 2012 Game of Thrones calendar and how the images from this source were highly-referenced by the producers and casting directors in choosing actors for their roles.

Juli Marr and John Picacio

The highlight of the day was the Opening Ceremonies which also presented the1944 Retro Hugo Awards. After some festive banter by our hosts Ellen Klages and Dave Rudden, we were treated to a short comi-tragic play and the introduction of the Guests of Honor, who also served as Hugo presenters.

Ellen Klages and Dave Rudden

Hilarity ensued through the evening as each successive presenter struggled to open the award envelopes, which were triple sealed by masking AND duct tape.

Well, not all of the presenters; Author Guest of Honor Diane Duane was undaunted because she was the only one who was carrying a knife, because, as she explained, “Knives ALWAYS work.” She declined to share the knife with any of the other presenters.

Retro-Hugo presenters: Ginjer Buchanan, Afua Richardson, Sana Takeda, Steve Jackson , Diane Duane, Ian McDonald, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Bill Burns, Mary Burns .

After that it was off to the parties, which were being held on the third level of the Centre. As crowded and festive as this gathering was, I can only wonder what Edie Stern, Joe Siclari and former Worldcon Chair Michael Walsh were intensely discussing near the escalators away from all the revelry…  


Dublin 2019 Chair James Bacon

LEGO exhibits

Pixel Scroll 7/20/19 Several Species Of Small Furry Pixels Gathered Together In A File And Scrolling With A Churl

(1) THE ORVILLE DOCKS AT HULU. You didn’t know it was moving? I guess Fox was surprised, too — “‘The Orville’ Is Moving To Hulu For Season 3”.

During today’s The Orville panel at San Diego Comic-Con, show creator and star Seth MacFarlane made big news, announcing the show is hopping from the Fox Broadcasting Network to the Hulu streaming service.

The move is a surprise, as Fox had already announced a third season renewal for The Orville in May. According to MacFarlane, moving to Hulu is something he felt would be best for the show, allowing it more flexibility.

(2) IN THE FRAME. Editor Ellen Datlow has posted the table of contents for her anthology Final Cuts, with all new stories of movie horror. She has turned in the book and it will come out in summer 2020.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Das Gesicht by Dale Bailey
  • Drunk Physics by Kelley Armstrong
  • Exhalation #10 by A. C. Wise
  • Scream Queen by Nathan Ballingrud
  • Family by Lisa Morton
  • Night of the Living by Paul Cornell
  • The One We Tell Bad Children by Laird Barron
  • Snuff in Six Scenes by Richard Kadrey
  • Insanity Among Penguins by Brian Hodge
  • From the Balcony of the Idawolf Arms By Jeffrey Ford
  • Lords of the Matinee by Stephen Graham Jones
  • A Ben Evans Film by Josh Malerman
  • The Face is a Mask by Christopher Golden
  • Folie à deux, or The Ticking Hourglass by Usman T. Malik
  • Hungry Girls by Cassandra Khaw
  • Cut Frame by Gemma Files
  • Many Mouths to Make a Meal by Garth Nix
  • Altered Beast, Altered Me by John Langan

(3) BUJOLD SERIES CONTINUES. Penric 7, “The Orphans of Raspay,” a novella by Lois McMaster Bujold, was released July 17. Bujold has set up “The Orphans of Raspay spoiler discussion space” at Goodreads. Bujold told fans there —

Note: These novellas don’t get much push from me beyond a few blog and chat-space posts, so getting the word out is pretty much up to their readers. Amazon always gets plenty of reviews, so appropriate mentions and reviews out-and-about elsewhere on the Net extend the reach more. Do please pass the word, if you are so moved.

(4) ANOTHER REVOLUTION. Journey Planet 45 – The Matrix dropped yesterday, assembled by guest editor John Coxon with Chris Garcia and James Bacon. The stunning cover is by Meg Frank. Download the issue here.

Twenty years ago, The Wachowski sisters brought a groundbreaking film to fruition that not only bent the rules in regard to production but became the most memorable film of 1999 far eclipsing easily forgotten movies or disastrous disappointments.  

The contributors to this issue ask many questions, discuss a variety of angles and consider the work now with ample time for reflection and digestion.  

Contributors include, Emma Harris, Warren Frey, España Sheriff, Jenn Scott, Dave Lane, Ulrika O’Brien, Peppard Saltine, Helena MacCallum, Pete ‘Cardinal’ Cox, Bill Howard and CiteUnScene AI. 

Art contributors include España, Chris, OzynO, Dark Ronin, Helianmagnou, Dark Tox1c, Frederikz, L0lock and ShaqueNova.

The Matrix spawned sequels, comics, animation and a considerable amount of books, thinking about concepts it set out.  

Join us as you realize that 20 years have slipped by, and remind yourself of how you felt and what you thought about this fantastic film.  

(5) AUDIO YES, VISUAL MAYBE. Andrew Liptak provides more details about the controversy: “Publishers are pissed about Amazon’s upcoming Audible Captions feature” in The Verge.

Audible tells The Verge that the captions are “small amounts of machine-generated text are displayed progressively a few lines at a time while audio is playing, and listeners cannot read at their own pace or flip through pages as in a print book or eBook.” Audible wouldn’t say which books would get the feature, only that “titles that can be transcribed at a sufficiently high confidence rate” will be included. It’s planning to release the feature in early September “to roll out with the 2019 school year.”

Penguin Random House, one of the world’s five biggest publishers, told The Verge that “we have reached out to Audible to express our strong copyright concerns with their recently announced Captions program, which is not authorized by our business terms,” and that it expects the company to exclude its titles from the captions feature.

(6) FRED PATTEN NEWS. Together with Stan Lee and other notables, Fred Patten was commemorated by San Diego Comic-Con’s in memoriam list, shown last night during the Eisner Awards ceremony. Fanbase Press tweeted photos:

Sherrill Patten, his sister, says Fred’s final two books are available to order.

FurPlanet has just published Fred’s last furry fiction anthology, the Coyotl Awards Anthology.

McFarland Books now shows the cover of Furry Tales – A Review of Essential Anthropomorphic Fiction in their online FALL catalog. Copies can be pre-ordered.

Tales featuring anthropomorphic animals have been around as long as there have been storytellers to spin them, from Aesop’s Fables to Reynard the Fox to Alice in Wonderland. The genre really took off following the explosion of furry fandom in the 21st century, with talking animals featuring in everything from science fiction to fantasy to LGBTQ coming-out stories.

In his lifetime, Fred Patten (1940–2018)—one of the founders of furry fandom and a scholar of anthropomorphic animal literature—authored hundreds of book reviews that comprise a comprehensive critical survey of the genre. This selected compilation provides an overview from 1784 through the 2010s, covering such popular novels as Watership Down and Redwall, along with forgotten gems like The Stray Lamb and Where the Blue Begins, and science fiction works like Sundiver and Decision at Doona.

(7) REMEMBRANCE. Now online is Dublin 2019’s In Memoriam list, which shows the names of sff people who have died since the last Worldcon.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 20, 1924 Lola Albright. Though she’s best remembered best known for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, she did do some genre performances. She’s Cathy Barrett, one of the leads in the Fifties film The Monolith Monsters, and television was her home in the Fifties and Sixties. She was on Tales of Tomorrow as Carol Williams in the “The Miraculous Serum” episode, Nancy Metcalfe on Rocket Squad in “The System” episode, repeated appearances on the various Alfred Hitchcock series, and even on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes released as the feature length film The Helicopter Spies. She was Azalea. (Died 2017)
  • Born July 20, 1930 Sally Ann Howes, 89. She is best known for the role of Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was in Brigadoon as Fiona McLaren at New York City Center Light Opera Company, and in Camelot as Guenevere at St. Louis Municipal Opera. She was even in The Hound of the Baskervilles as Laura Frankland which has a certain Starship Captain as George Stapleton. 
  • Born July 20, 1931 Donald Moffitt. Author of the Baroness thriller series, somewhat akin to Bond and Blaise, but not quite. Great popcorn literature. Some SF, two in his Mechanical Skyseries, Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars, another two in his Genesis Quest series, Genesis Quest and Second Genesis, plus several one-offs. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 20, 1938 Diana Rigg, née Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, 81. Emma Peel of course in The Avengers aside Patrick Macnee as a John Steed. Best pairing ever. Played Sonya Winter in The Assassination Bureau followed by being Contessa Teresa “Tracy” Draco di Vicenzo Bond on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. By the Eighties, she’s doing lighter fare such as being Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper and Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch, not to mention The Evil Queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother in Snow White. Now she would get a meaty role in Game of Thrones when she was Olenna Tyrell. Oh and she showed up recently in Dr. Who during the Era of the  Eleventh Doctoras Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower in the “The Crimson Horror” episode. 
  • Born July 20, 1949 Guy H. Lillian III, 70. Letterhack and fanzine publisher notable for having been twice nominated for a Hugo Award as best fan writer and rather amazingly having been nominated twelve straight times without winning for the Hugo for best fanzine for his Challenger zine.  As a well-fan of Green Lantern, Lillian’s name was tuckerized for the title’s 1968 debut character Guy Gardner.
  • Born July 20, 1959 Martha Soukup, 60. The 1994 short film Override, directed by Danny Glover, was based on her short story “Over the Long Haul”. It was his directorial debut. She has two collections, Collections Rosemary’s Brain: And Other Tales of Wonder and The Arbitrary Placement of Walls, both published in the Nineties.  She won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “A Defense of the Social Contracts”. “The Story So Far” by her is available as the download sample on iBooks in Schimel’s Things Invisible to See anthology if you’d liked to see how she is as a writer. 
  • Born July 20, 1977 Penny Vital, better known as Penny Drake, 42. Uncredited role as Old Town Girl in Sin City, Sox in Zombie Strippers (which also stars Robert Englund and Jenna Jameson), Astrid in Star Chicks, Sabula in Monarch of the Moon and Annette DeFour in Dreamkiller which I think is genre.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio is surprised by a carnivore at the library.

(10) CAKE RE-ENACTMENT. Yessir, don’t we all love gray frosting? Other than that, impressive!

(11) HARD SCIENCE. The latest issue of IEEE SpectrumProject Moon Base – contains fifteen excellent articles about getting to the moon, building a base there, long-term stays on the moon, and a bit of history. Greg Hullender says, “Highly recommended to anyone interested in lunar exploration, particularly anyone thinking of writing a story set in a future moonbase.”

One of the items is an interview — “Kim Stanley Robinson Built a Moon Base in His Mind”.

IEEE Spectrum: You invented a completely new technology for landing on the moon. It seems to combine a maglev train, a railgun, and a hyperloop. Can you briefly describe how that works and how you came up with it?

Kim Stanley Robinson: I got the idea from a lunatic friend of mine. It’s basically the reverse of the magnetic launch rails that have been postulated for getting off the moon ever since the 1930s: These take advantage of the moon’s light gravity and its lack of atmosphere, which allow a spaceship to be accelerated to a very high speed while still on the surface, after which the ship could just zoom off the moon going sideways, because there is no atmosphere to burn up in on the way out. If you just reverse that process, apparently you can land a spaceship on the moon according to the same principle.

It blew my mind. I asked about the tolerance for error; how precise would you have to be for the system to work? My friend shrugged and said it would be a few centimeters. This while going about 8,000 miles an hour (12,900 kilometers per hour)! But without an atmosphere, a landing can be very precise; there won’t be any winds or turbulence, no friction. It was so fantastic a notion that I knew I had to use it. 

(12) COLLECTIBLE. Montegrappa prices this beautiful fountain pen at 6,750 Euros.

Moon Landing L.E.

A giant leap for mankind

In 1969 Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins captivated the world. Supported by a cast of thousands, their supreme achievement continues to set the bar for how big boyhood dreams can be. Developed in close coordination with NASA, a marvel of engineering in miniature transforms the act of writing. Allow your ideas to go where no-one has gone before. The Eagle has landed!

(13) ROCKET MAN. The historic anniversary prompts the Boston Globe to remember: “Buzz Aldrin took a tiny book on his historic voyage to the moon. Here’s the backstory”.

When Buzz Aldrin embarked 50 years ago on his historic voyage to the moon aboard Apollo 11, he packed a tiny, credit-card-sized book, “The Autobiography of Robert Hutchings Goddard, Father of the Space Age.”

Goddard, who was a physics professor at Worcester’s Clark University, launched the first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn in 1926 and is generally considered the father of modern rocketry.

For Aldrin, who was the second man to set foot on the moon, there was also a personal connection.

Goddard had taught Edwin Aldrin Sr., Buzz’s father. Buzz never met Goddard but cherished his father’s connection with the professor, said Fordyce Williams, a coordinator of archives and special collections at Clark, where the book is on display.

(14) GAME OF THRONES PANEL AT SDCC. SYFY Wire: “Stolen keepsakes, secret futures, and the truth about Grey Worm: Game of Thrones cast looks back at SDCC panel”.

The cast of HBO’s recently concluded Game of Thrones took the stage at San Diego Comic-Con Friday night to reflect on their time on the long-running fantasy series, and revealed a few secrets about their characters.  

A spoiler warning followed that opening paragraph. Tons of spoilers followed the warning.

So, you have now been warned twice. (Or is it thrice?)

(15) UNDER COVER. ScreenRant profiles “The Most Popular Actor You’ve Never Actually Seen.”

Doug Jones is a highly respected and acclaimed actor who has appeared in over 150 acting jobs to his name to this day. However, chances are you never realized who Doug Jones was unless you’re a hardcore cinephile. That’s because many of Jones’ roles require him to be covered in extensive makeup and costumes that hide his natural visage. Jones is the man behind such iconic characters as the Lead Gentleman in Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s best episode, “Hush”, the monster in The Shape of Water, Saru in Star Trek Discovery and Abe in Hellboy, the latter of which took seven hours in makeup everyday just to bring the character to life. Jones got his start not by acting, but as a mime for his University’s mascot.

(16) FAN MAIL FROM A FLOUNDER. The surprising thing about Richard Paolinelli is not that he wants to be insulting, but that he only repeats insults someone else thought up first. Which probably informs potential readers what to expect from his fiction.

(17) BERKELEY OUTLAWS PART OF THE QUEEN’S ENGLISH. Snopes warns: “Forget ‘Manmade’: Berkeley Bans Gender-Specific Words”.

There will be no manholes in Berkeley, California. City workers will drop into “maintenance holes” instead.

Nothing will be manmade in the liberal city but “human-made.” And students at the University of California, Berkeley, will join “collegiate Greek system residences” rather than fraternities and sororities.

Berkeley leaders voted unanimously this week to replace about 40 gender-specific words in the city code with gender-neutral terms — an effort to be more inclusive that’s drawing both praise and scorn….

(18) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned in to Jeopardy! on Friday and witnessed this:

Category: African-American Authors.

Answer: In the “African Immortals” series by Tananarive Due, vampire-like beings from this Horn of Africa country prey on the living.

Incorrect questions: “What is Somalia?” and “What is Cape Horn?”

Correct question: “What is Ethiopia?”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michaeline Duskova, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Journey Planet Has a Moon

Journey Planet 46 marks the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. Editors, Chris Garcia and James Bacon welcomed Steven H Silver as guest editor on this special issue. Download the 144-page fanzine here.  

With contributions from Regina Kanyu Wang, Allen M. Steele, Gregory Benford, John Scalzi, Patty Wells and Jack Clemons, there is a wide variety of subjects covered -all connected with the Moon Landing.   

Articles include:

  • “Walter, Frank, Jules, My Grandfather and Me” by David M. Stein
  • “Apollo 11 and the Volvo” by Jack Clemons, Images courtesy Jack Clemons
  • “Moon Shots—Words and Pictures” by John Scalzi
  • “The Hasselblad and the Space Program” by Richard Man
  • “The First Time All Over Again” by Alma Alexander
  • “Waiting for Someone From China… or Maybe California” by Allen M. Steele
  • “Apollo 11 Reminiscences” by Bryan A. Palaszewski
  • The Apollo Art of David Hardy
  • “Church and Space” by Nancy Jane Moore
  • “Coolock is Full of Spacers” by Pádraig Ó Méalóid
  • “Passing the Torch” by Brenda W. Clough  
  • “Knowing Buzz” by Gregory Benford

The issue includes art and cartoons by Ed Hengeveld, Kurt Erichsen, Tim Gagnon, and Teddy Harvia.   

Work on the fanzine began last year, and it is notable that co-editor James Bacon, after making much mention of his pleasure at meeting Nasa Astronauts, said “I will hope that Norah Patten, Ireland’s astronaut scientist, achieves her dreams, and gains entry into the elusive and exclusive club of people who have travelled into space, and I wish that she gets to watch the silent stars go by” — perhaps he will say that in person at Dublin 2019. 

P.S. John Scalzi’s blog post “Taking Pictures of the Moon” tells what his contribution is about:

Whenever I take pictures of the moon, I get asked how I did it and what equipment I use. So I wrote a piece about that in the current issue of the fanzine Journey Planet

Nineteen Eighty-Four at Seventy

By James Bacon: Today sees the 70th Anniversary of the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, and it is ten years now since Claire Brialey, Chris Garcia, Pete Young and myself published Journey Planet no.3 that focused on that book. Here is my editorial from Journey Planet 3, published Ten Years ago now/:

I am not sure when I fell in love with Julia. I am unsure when I read Nineteen Eighty-Four for the first time, but it left a mark on me as a teenager. There’s a rebellious streak somewhere in me, and I found the book rousing. At the time, I was in a Christian Brothers Catholic school, so the ideas of sexual repression and censorship not only repulsed me, but also were focus of my teenage angster. I hate censorship by the state, I hate the idea of them controlling, not for us, but for protecting the system. Fortunately, the state is rather incompetent; I don’t worry too much, although that incompetence can be fatal to any bystander, here or over there. The book has influenced so many things that I also love dearly. V from V for Vendetta, perhaps my favourite comic ever, is in my mind a  successor to Winston Smith. Moore and Lloyd pay great homage to Orwell’s piece, yet this is still an original take on the concept of what is a super hero. Taking the fight back to “The Leader”. Moore’s recent League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier also beautifully amazing in its homagical setting. The TV series 1990 by the BBC in 1977, dubbed ‘1984 plus six’, was a great and more recent find staring Edward Woodward. Equilibrium and Brazil are truly derivative, but in a very enjoyable way. The Matrix strangely seems to replace a person we don’t see with a computer, but I think I may be alone. Burgess’s 1985 is a great read and I love the way he breaks it down into two parts, easier for the likes of me to wrap my brain, thoughts and imagination around. I do wish I could have gone to the Orwell Conference in Antwerp on 11 November 1983. The collection of nineteen papers I have in Essays from Oceania and Eurasia beginning with Burgess’s ‘Utopia and Science-Fiction’ indicates that if one likes something enough, even the academics seem interesting. The BBC play from 1955 is another favourite: Peter Cushing is a perfect Winston Smith, and nearly as good as the later John Hurt. I liked both Julias. She reminds me of someone. Someone I love. I wonder do I love these Julias or the book one. Romance is not strong in the book, although Orwell did like women. I like the way that the novel and terms therein have pervaded throughout modern culture, and although I am sure many fans of Ozzy will know why he says what he does, watchers of the Cathode Udder probably have no idea. I do, though, and that’s what matters. It is the book, the words penned so lovingly and carefully rewritten and worked on, chiselled at until they are perfect, that is what matters. This fanzine is partly an expression of gratitude and appreciation on my part. Is it science fiction? I’m still uncertain, but it’s a cracking good read for sure. end. 

While the first edition was a strong cover, Penguin books have issued so many editions which I find attractive that I’ve come to own more than one edition. True to say that eyes and moustaches do feature, and I honestly don’t have every edition. Indeed, a quite check shows that a new Penguin Classics edition has been released on the 6th of June. D-Day. Fans will note the subtle move from Penguin Modern Classics to Classic’s, and I will no doubt seek out and confirm who the cover artist is, although they are unfortunately not credited on Penguins website. 

There is so much about Nineteen Eighty-Four, that haunts humanity currently. For sure, many of us are fortunate enough not to be living the life that Winston and Julia had but the concepts and concerns and ideas and dreadfulness seem to have leaped from the pages to reality, scarily and vividly in an era of ‘alternative facts’ I think Orwellian elements are more pervasive now than they were ten years ago. 

Of interest to fans could be the Secker and Warburg facsimile edition that contains as much of the manuscript that exists, which as you can see with a typed on the facing page to assist reading. Produced in 1984, it is a fascinating insight into a piece of the writing process and although itself 35 years old, can be found for reasonable prices. 

And although I have only seen a number of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror TV programmes, I do wonder if he sees the future as insightfully as Orwell did. 

I think it makes Nineteen Eighty-Four more important than ever.   

Pixel Scroll 4/15/19 You Put Your Right File In, And You Scroll It All About

(1) NOTRE DAME. Notre Dame cathedral suffered extensive fire damage today.

A massive blaze…devastated large parts of the 850-year-old church. While the fire is now under control, the cathedral’s iconic spire fell during the hours it took to battle the blaze.

Many sff fans and writers who’ve been there reminisced about their visits in social media, including Samuel Delany

Like many folks, I climbed to the top of Notra Dame myself on my first trip to Paris with Ron Helstrom and Bill Balousiac. As well, we were staying on the Ilse St.-Louis in the hotel next to the Hotel Olinda, which was rumoured (in Arthur and Hope Fromers Europe on Five Dollars a Day) to be the cheapest hotel in Paris. It was a trip and a half! Some of it was reflected in my novel NOVA.

(2) WOLFE. The SFWA Blog posted a tribute to the late author: “In Memoriam – Gene Wolfe”.

…SFWA President Cat Rambo said, “When we talk about fantasy and science fiction writers who were true virtuosos, Wolfe is one of the foremost among them, and I was honored to be at the 2013 Nebula Conference where he was made a SFWA Grand Master. His Book of the New Sun is a revelation to me every time I go back to reread it and his clear, thoughtful, ever-incisive voice will be sorely missed. This year has claimed several giants in the field, and Gene is most assuredly one whose loss will hit hard across the F&SF community.”

(3) APEX REORGANIZES. In “Sleep now, Apex Magazine, you’ve earned it”, Editor Jason Sizemore says Apex Magazine is going on hiatus, but the Apex Book business will continue.

After much consideration, I’ve decided that Apex Magazine will go on an indefinite hiatus. Our last new issue will be 120–the Afrofuturism issue guest edited by Maurice Broaddus. It’s filled with incredible, diverse work and a fitting sendoff for our zine.

Why stop now?

The last few months have been difficult for me both mentally and physically. This leads to soul searching. And that leads to life decisions. One thing that became obvious to me is that I was neglecting both myself and the book side of Apex. I need to take time to exercise, take some time for my health, do more things for fun, enjoy having my kids around before they leave for college in a few years. I need time to read more books! And on the book side of Apex, I had been failing to do the minimum for success because so much of my time was being poured into Apex Magazine. The magazine flourished, while the books languished.

A flourishing magazine is a great thing, but the profit ceiling for an online zine is disturbingly low. One small press book that does really well (like, for example, Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt) will make 25 times the profit of the zine in a year.

It comes down to health and economics and family. Like most decisions in life.

… And a reminder … this is an extended hiatus, not a permanent closure. I’m a man of whims, unfortunately. After I ended Apex Digest, it was two years later that I decided I wanted to do Apex Magazine. In two years, if Apex Book Company is going strong, don’t be surprised if I have the itch to reopen the zine.

… Lesley Conner and I have not turned our backs on genre short fiction. We plan to do an open call anthology each year that will contain nearly as many words of short fiction as a whole year’s worth of zines. Keep your eyes open for our next project….

(4) A BRAND SEMI-NEW IDEA. On a day that could use some comic relief, Ian McEwan did his best, making absurd statements about sff in an interview with The Guardian: “Ian McEwan: ‘Who’s going to write the algorithm for the little white lie?”.

McEwan has an abiding faith that novels are the best place to examine such ethical dilemmas, though he has little time for conventional science fiction. “There could be an opening of a mental space for novelists to explore this future, not in terms of travelling at 10 times the speed of light in anti-gravity boots, but in actually looking at the human dilemmas of being close up to something that you know to be artificial but which thinks like you. If a machine seems like a human or you can’t tell the difference, then you’d jolly well better start thinking about whether it has responsibilities and rights and all the rest.”

However, as the humor was unintentional, it took D Franklin’s help for it to fully register–

(5) PANDA EXPRESS. Any other day this would seem a bigger loss, but I’ll miss them: “San Diego Zoo to say farewell to giant pandas”.

Whether born here or abroad, all pandas belong to China. The zoo said successful breeding and an increased awareness of conservation helped boost the wild population of pandas in China to around 2,000, downgrading the panda from “endangered” status to “vulnerable” in 2016.

Building bonds of trust with the pandas has allowed zookeepers to perform some medical tests without having to subject the animals to anesthesia. It’s also helping them crate-train the pandas for their journey back to China. Their new home will be the Chinese Conservation and Research Center, where other former San Diego pandas now live.  

(6) DUBLIN 2019 ADDRESSES AIRBNB CONCERN. James Bacon, Dublin 2019 chair, explains the issues with “Short Term Rentals (AirBnB) in Ireland” and shares the available information.

We’ve noted that some of our members have reported issues with AirBnB cancellations. We are sorry that is happening. Many of our own team are booked into AirBnB and it is an affordable option in most cases.

Unfortunately, on the 1st of June this year new legislation is supposed to come into effect that will severely limit the ability for Dublin houses and apartments to be rented out for short-term lets if they were not specifically built for the short-term market (i.e. the Key Collection and StayCity apartments that are part of the convention block are permitted).

The exception to this will probably be if the house/apartment is a person’s primary residence and then only if either let out for a maximum of 90 days per annum, and for a 14-day maximum period, or if the entire property is not rented out (i.e homeshare accommodation).

As of yet we do not know the full legislation, as it is still with the Dáil (the Irish legislature) so we cannot even be sure if the new legislation will grandfather in existing bookings.

More details at the link.

(7) AVENGERS ATTENTION DEFICIT. Daniel Dern says, “This isn’t a spoiler if you’ve seen the Avengers: Endgame. It makes more sense if you have seen the recent Captain Marvel movie, all the way to the very end (final ‘Easter egg.’)”

Dern continues

I was (re)watching The Avengers: Infinity War movie over the weekend, and the last few seconds of the final E. Egg had Nick Fury reach for something from a pocket, and dropped it as he went all Thanos-finger-crumbling-black-dusties. The camera view pans down, showing [ROT-13][ n oyvaxvat qbbuvpxrl jvgu gur Pncgnva Zneiry ybtb ba vg.”

A picture of what Dern saw is here.

Like I said, not a spoiler if you’re up-to-date in trailer and prior movie watching. But wouldn’t have been as noticeable a point, when Avengers: Infinity War first came out, other than ‘if that’s the last few seconds of the movie, it probably is significant.’

(8) FRID OBIT. Dark Shadows’s actor Jonathan Frid died April 13, 2012. (Never mind….) The Los Angeles Times reported at the time

Jonathan Frid, whose portrayal of charismatic vampire Barnabas Collins in the supernatural soap opera “Dark Shadows” turned the classically trained actor into a pop-culture star in the late 1960s, has died. He was 87.

… The campy daytime soap was a year old and struggling in the ratings in 1967 when series creator Dan Curtis took his daughter’s advice to “make it scarier.” He introduced Barnabas Collins, and the ratings took off.

Curtis intended Barnabas to be a short-term villain but soon realized that the Shakespearean actor “brought a very gothic, romantic quality” to the role, Curtis later said. Frid remained on the ABC show until it left the air in 1971.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 15, 1906 Erroll Collins. British writer whose early Forties Mariners of Space is reminiscent of early Heinlein in its plot and solar system wide setting.  Serialised in Boy’s Own Paper, it would come out later in hardback. Other genre novels include Submarine CityThe Black Dwarf of MongoliaPirates in Space and A Spot on the Sun. (Died 1991.)
  • Born April 15, 1908 Howard Browne. I’m going to call him a pulp writer for lack of a better term.  Some of his work appeared over the pseudonyms John Evans, Alexander Blade, Lawrence Chandler, Ivar Jorgensen, and Lee Francis which makes it difficult to say just what he wrote. I’m reasonably sure that under various names that these are his genre novels:  Return to LiliputForgotten Worlds and The Return of Tharn. He also was a prolific scriptwriter, mostly westerns and cop shows, but he did several Mission Impossible scripts. (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 15, 1926 Homer Nearing. He is best known for his Professor Cleanth Penn Ransom series published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the early Fifties. One story, “The Neurotic Rose”, ran in the April 1956 issue of Fantastic Universe. Some of the stories formed a fix-up novel called The Sinister Researches of C.P. Ransom. (Died 2004.)
  • Born April 15, 1940 Robert Walker, 79. Ahhh, the Charlie Evan character in the first season “Charlie X” Star Trek episode in which yet another child gets to be a badly behaving godling. I really don’t know what I think of this episode but do know the actor was rather good in his ability to wring sense out of Fontana’s script. Walker didn’t do much else for genre work, showing up on The Time Tunnel as Billy the Kid,  Bobby Hartford in Beware! The Blob, the sequel to The Blob, and in The Devonsville Terror as Matthew Pendleton.
  • Born April 15, 1947 Deborah J. Ross, 72. A friend of Marion Zimmer Bradley, she’d edited and contributed a story to the first of Sword and Sorceress series which lasted thirty volumes. Much of her fiction is set in the Darkover universe with an original series,The Seven-Petaled Shield, underway as well. She’s also edited two Lace and Blade anthologies which have such contributors as Tanith Lee and Diana Paxton.
  • Born April 15, 1952 Glenn Shadix. He shows up in two of my favorite genre films, Beetlejuice and Demolition Man. His other genre films were SleepwalkersMultiplicity and Planet of the Apes. (Died 2010.)
  • Born April 15, 1959 Emma Thompson, 60. Professor Sybill Trelawney, Harry Potter franchise. Men in Black 3 and Men in Black: International as Agent O, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle as Polynesia, Beauty and the Beast as Mrs. Potts and Treasure Planet voicing Captain Amelia. 
  • Born April 15, 1974 Jim C. Hines, 45. [Entry by Paul Weimer.] Writer, and blogger. Jim C. Hines’ first published novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Jim went on to write the Princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. He’s also the author of the Magic ex Libris books, my personal favorite, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who happens to have the same pet fire-spider lifted from the Goblin novels as his best friend. He’s currently writing his first foray into science fiction novels, the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. Jim’s novels usually have the fun and humor dials set on medium to high. Jim is also an active blogger on a variety of topics and won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.
  • Born April 15, 1990 Emma Watson, 29. Hermione Grangerin the Harry Potter film franchise. Belle in the live-action Beauty and the Beast. And the voice of Prince Pea in The Tale of Despereaux. 
  • Born April 15, 1997 Maisie Williams, 22. She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. She is Ashildr, a Viking woman of unique skills, the principal character of a story line, during the time of Twelfth Doctor. She is set to star as Wolfsbane in the forthcoming Marvel film New Mutants.

(10) TODAY’S CLICKBAIT. Food & Wine sounds deeply concerned that the answer was almost never Peeps: “The Most Popular Easter Candy in Every State, According to RetailMeNot”.

If you’re also on team Peeps, know that the candy company has released several new flavors this year, including Pancakes & Syrup and Root Beer Float, which you can learn more about here. As for the rest of America’s candy preferences, check out the full state-by-state breakdown below:

(11) PICARESQUE PUSSYCAT. While Camestros Felapton is in the Himalayas, Timothy the Talking Cat is favoring us with his autobiography: “Beyond the Bounds of Genius: Chapter 1”.

…This was a dark time for England. Specifically it was around 10 pm in November. I needed more light so I filled the bath full of kerosene and set light to it. And for the simple crime of wanting enough light to read by I was thrown upon the mercy of England’s archaic criminal justice system…

(12) AI MEDIC. NPR considers the question: “How Can We Be Sure Artificial Intelligence Is Safe For Medical Use?”

When Merdis Wells visited the diabetes clinic at the University Medical Center in New Orleans about a year ago, a nurse practitioner checked her eyes to look for signs of diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of blindness.

At her next visit, in February of this year, artificial intelligence software made the call.

The clinic had just installed a system that’s designed to identify patients who need follow-up attention.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the system — called IDx-DR — for use in 2018. The agency said it was the first time it had authorized the marketing of a device that makes a screening decision without a clinician having to get involved in the interpretation.

It’s a harbinger of things to come. Companies are rapidly developing software to supplement or even replace doctors for certain tasks. And the FDA, accustomed to approving drugs and clearing medical devices, is now figuring out how to make sure computer algorithms are safe and effective.

(13) BIG BROTHER REALLY IS. “How does it feel to be watched at work all the time?” BBC reports on the consequences.

Is workplace surveillance about improving productivity or simply a way to control staff and weed out poor performers?

Courtney Hagen Ford, 34, left her job working as a bank teller because she found the surveillance she was under was “dehumanising”.

Her employer logged her keystrokes and used software to monitor how many of the customers she helped went on to take out loans and fee-paying accounts.

“The sales pressure was relentless,” she recalls. “The totality was horrible.”

She decided selling fast food would be better, but ironically, left the bank to do a doctorate in surveillance technology.

Courtney is not alone in her dislike of this kind of surveillance, but it’s on the rise around the world as firms look to squeeze more productivity from their workers and become more efficient.

(14) JEDI GAME. There’s a new trailer out for the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Cal Kestis—one of the last surviving members of the Jedi Order after the purge of Order 66—is now a Padawan on the run. Experience this all-new single-player Star Wars™ story from Respawn Entertainment and EA Star Wars on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC this holiday season, 15 November 2019.

(15) REY PARADE. Holy cats – there’s no end of them! Is this some kind of Escher thing? No, it’s the Rey Meetup at last week’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago.

(16) BOXING DAY. I love work. I could watch other people do it for hours. (Or robots.) “Handle Robot Reimagined for Logistics” is a new video from Boston Dynamics in which a bird-like robot picks up and stacks boxes.

[Thanks to Danny Sichel, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Standback, Dann, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Mobie Hire Fire Causes Dublin 2019 Concern

By James Bacon: Mike, Filers and Fans — the Dublin 2019 Access team are sending out an important message to anyone with access needs, specifically those requiring mobility scooter hire. 

We identified a suitable mobie hire company, who were happy to work with us, and we had sufficient mobies for Dublin 2019. Unfortunately, that provider has had a fire and lost the majority of their stock. This means there are fewer mobies available in Ireland now than we anticipated. Many hours and days have been spent investigating this and we have had support from the Irish Wheelchair Association. Yet there are still fewer mobies available than we would like.

As we continue to seek creative solutions to this problem, we are asking that anyone interested in hiring a mobie for Dublin 2019 please fill out our online form (https://dublin2019.com/forms/mobility-scooter-rentals/). That will help us know how many additional mobies we need to source.

Our access page is here:  https://dublin2019.com/about/accessibility-services/  

And the Mobility Scooter form is here https://dublin2019.com/forms/mobility-scooter-rentals/

Our teams are working and will continue to work hard to serve everyone’s needs. For more information on Access services at Dublin, please visit https://dublin2019.com/about/accessibility-services/. Our team will answer questions as best they can at access@dublin2019.com

My very best as ever.

James Bacon (Chair Dublin 2019) 

Fans Long Listed for
The Big and The Small Fahrts

Every two years The International Flann O’Brien Society  presents the International Flann O’Brien Society Awards, otherwise known as the Father Kurt Fahrt, S.J. Memorial Prizes. There are two awards, for the best book-length and best article length-work on a Flann O’Brien theme. These awards are affectionately known to members of the society as The Big Fahrt and The Small Fahrt, and are presented Flann O’Brien conference which the society hosts.

As the nomination process begins, a number of Fan-written works are nominable in both the Big Fahrt and Small Fahrt categories, and have been long-listed.

James Bacon explains. “Last year we published A Half Pint of Flann as issue 44 of Journey Planet, edited by Michael Carroll, Chris Garcia, Pádraig Ó Méalóid and myself, and it’s been long listed for the Big Fahrt. This is an amazing honour, as it sees us on the same list as Maebh Long’s Letters of Flann O’Brien, which is a fabulous work.

“Works published in the zine have also been long-listed for the Small Fahrt and these include; ‘Mise agus Myles,’ by Johan Anglemark, ‘The Case for John Shamus O’Donnell,’ By Jack Fennell, ‘Extractum Ó Bhark i bPrágrais (A Flann O’Brien A to Z): Interim Version II,’ ‘Object Found in a Book – I: An Béal Bocht Publisher’s Note; II: The Brochure,’ and ‘The Cardinal and/or the Corpse: An Exegesis of Rumour or The Revelation of Stephen Blakesley,’ all by Pádraig Ó Méalóid, and ‘Introduction,’ by myself (James Bacon) and Pádraig.

“I’m also very proud to have had my own two articles, ‘Off the Rails: Flann on Track,’ and ‘Single Narrow Gold Band: Flann’s Pen,’ on the long list,” added James.

I decided to pursue investigating the railway elements in Flann’s Cruiskeen Lawn columns in the Irish Times last year, and I’ve since had a paper for the Dublin Flann O’Brien Conference at University College Dublin accepted. It’s entitled Off the Rails: Flann – An Expert Community Advocate for Rail Transport. My esteemed colleague Pádraig Ó Méalóid will also be presenting a panel at the conference, on Flann’s Column Bawn columns in the Sunday Dispatch in the early fifties.

This conference, entitled “Palimpsests: The Fifth International Flann O’Brien Society Conference,” is taking place on the 16th to 19th July in Dublin, and is already looking quite impressive for Flanneurs and/or Mylesians.

The organizers have just added acclaimed authors Joanna Walsh and Gavin Corbett to the line-up of keynote speakers and writers, which already included Anne Enright, Patrick McCabe, Maebh Long, Louis de Paor, Katherine Ebury, Blindboy Boatclub (from the Rubberbandits), Lisa McInerney, Erika Mihálycsa, David, Eddie, and Joanna O’Kane, as well as a special exhibition of items from the holdings of Burns Library’s Special Flann O’Brien Collection.

Details on how to attend the conference will be published shortly.

Joining the International Flann O’Brien Society is free. Members also receive issues of the Parish Review, the society’s regularly irregular electronic publication.

People’s Vote March Features SFF Iconography

Left: James Bacon. Center: Emma King.

By James Bacon: I attended the People’s Vote March today in central London, which seeks to have a referendum about Brexit and whatever deal the country ends up with. A political matter not normally of interest here to Filers.  

I was expecting to see some interesting placards and posters but was quite astonished to see so many that were literary, media or genre related, and so Emma King and I, took photos to share due to this fascinating connection.  

[This BBC link will take you to an explanation of the march – and itself features some anti-Brexit cosplay.]

Many more photos follow the jump.

Continue reading

Comic Artist Sana Takeda and Playwright Rosaleen McDonagh Coming To Dublin 2019

Hugo award-winning comic book artist Sana Takeda and Irish playwright Rosaleen McDonagh will be featured at Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon.

“It is important to us that we share all aspects of Irish culture and brilliance with our members,” Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon said. “We look forward to bringing our own artists in all media together with the fantastic slate of worldwide talent who will be joining us in Dublin.”

Joining Dublin 2019 as a featured artist, Tokyo-based Sana Takeda is best known for drawing the prizewinning Monstress series, written by Marjorie Liu and published by Image. The heroine of Monstress, Maika Halfwolf, survives bereavement, slavery, and disabling injury to take control of her psychic powers and change her people’s history. Since it premiered in 2015, Monstress has won three Hugos, five Eisners, three British Fantasy Awards and a Harvey Award.

Takeda´s artistic reference points range from Japanese woodblock prints to Marvel Comics, where she has drawn for franchises including X-Men and Ms. Marvel. She joins Afua Richardson, Maeve Clancy, and Jim Fitzpatrick on the featured artist roster.

Equally excitingly, Rosaleen McDonagh, playwright and activist for the Irish Traveller community, will be discussing Irish Traveller culture at Dublin 2019. Her plays including Mainstream, Stuck, She’s Not Mine, and Rings explore aspects of feminism, ethnicity and disability. She has been chosen by Colum McCann to adapt for the stage his novel Zoli, the story of a Polish Roma poet and writer.

McDonagh worked for ten years managing the Violence against Women Programme at the Pavee Point Traveller & Romany Centre. She writes for the Irish Times and is completing a PhD that will be her fourth degree from Trinity College Dublin. She was the first Traveller invited to join the Irish artists’ academy Aosdána in 2017, and the first Traveller to stand for election to the Seanad, the Irish legislature’s upper house, in 2002 and 2007.