Dan Simmons’ Facebook comment mocking teenaged environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who recently spoke at the U.N., is now removed, however, screencaps were shared and many sff writers and fans have tweeted their dismay.
Simmons is a World Horror Grandmaster and past winner of the Hugo
(for Hyperion), World Fantasy Award, Bram Stoker Award, British Fantasy
Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.
Here is a full screencap.
Here is a sampling of the reaction.
Ilana C. Myer
Robin Johnson (the game
developer, not the Australian fan)
Con or Bust so generously sent me funds to pay for accommodations and airfare–two large chunks of expenses that make me hopeful that I will be able to attend. In fact, I have already booked the tickets and my AirBnB stay. I need only save up for food, transportation, and other smaller travel expenses.
However, I hit several snags recently. Sudden health issues required medicines and physical therapy. As a freelancer, my biggest contract was recently ended, and so I have been searching for part-time gigs and full-time jobs to not only help me fund this trip and pay GoGetFunding, but to help pay for my daily and medical needs. Your contribution will greatly help toward lessening the amount I need.
And when Brandon O’Brien was trying to round up the last $700 he needed to get to Dublin, look what happened! Jeff VanderMeer put up 7 of the Sub Press Borne signed special editions for $100 each to the first 7 takers. And just like that, he was funded.
Here’s who you won’t see as Phase 4 unfolds between May 2020 and November 2021: Spider-Man, Star-Lord and a new Iron Man. But you will meet what’s easily the most diverse superhero line-up in comic book movie history, including a master of kung fu and a group of eternals. You’ll also welcome back a strange sorcerer, a sharpshooting archer and a sword-swinging Valkyrie. Based on the crowd reaction, the most anticipated reunions are with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, who will be returning as a thunder goddess, and that vampire hunter Blade, now played by two-time Oscar winner, Mahershala Ali.
Most major achievements, be they personal or collective, arrive after rehearsals. Some unfold as flights of the imagination. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing provides a great opportunity to examine how an entire branch of speculative fiction — novels, short stories and also feature films — lies behind the first human footprints on another world.
Works of fiction aren’t particularly known for having influenced historical events. Yet some foundational early rocket science, embedded deep within the developmental history of the Saturn 5 — the towering, five-stage rocket that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon 50 years ago this week — was paid for by the budget of the first science fiction film to envision just such a voyage in realistic terms.
Spaceflight as we know it today wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for three extraordinary figures: the borderline-crazy Russian spaceflight visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the hard-right nationalist German-Transylvanian rocketry pioneer Hermann Oberth and the idiosyncratic American rocketeer Robert Goddard. All devised their distinctive strains of rocket science in response to speculative novels, specifically the stories of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells — founders of a nascent genre later to be known asscience fiction. Tsiolkovsky and Oberth also had important roles to play in early 20th century film projects depicting trips to the Moon.
… Of the three, only Tsiolkovsky actually wrote science fiction, which he used as a scratch pad for his revolutionary ideas. Living in near-poverty 100 miles southwest of Moscow, he also issued a stream of theoretical papers. In articles published in 1911-12, he came up with the great utopian credo of the space age: “Earth is the cradle of the mind, but humanity can’t live in its cradle forever.”
Fifty years ago, a bunch of comics fans in San Diego decided they wanted a way to meet other fans. They were mostly teenagers — okay, and two adults — but what they created became the pop culture phenomenon we know as San Diego Comic-Con.
Today, Roger Freedman is a physics professor, but in 1969 he was 17 years old — and he had no idea what he was about to get himself into. “I think it’s fair to say that if you had come to us and said how Comic-Con was going to evolve, we would have said A) what are you smoking, and B) where can we buy some?”
It all started with a guy named Shel Dorf — one of only two adults involved with that first convention. Dorf had some experience attending and planning conventions, and more importantly, he had connections. He knew Jack Kirby, the legendary co-creator of characters like the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. And Kirby was willing to talk to a bunch of kids.
“I think we thought comic creators lived on some comic book Mount Olympus and couldn’t be approached by normal mortals like us,” says Mike Towry, who was 14 when he got involved with the convention committee. “And then to find out that we could actually meet them and talk to them one on one, and then have a convention where they would come and we would get to hang out with them was just kind of mind-blowing.”
…It’s not hyperbole to say that without Ken Liu and his Herculean efforts in translation, Chinese SF would not exist — or at least it would not exist in its current state. When Ken Liu’s 2014 translation of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem (2008) won the Hugo Award in 2015, not only was it the first Chinese work awarded the honor, it was the first work in translation from any language to be lauded so. At some point in the past decade, Chinese SF went from “having a moment” to “enjoying its golden age,” and if 2015 wasn’t the exact moment that shift happened, it was certainly when the translation heard round the world was sounded. The Three-Body Problem’s award signaled the significance of Chinese SF to many Anglophone readers for the first time, but equally important was its reaffirmation of Chinese SF for local readers. Liu’s translation has in turn been the source for the novel’s translations into other languages, putting Liu at the vanguard of Chinese SF’s march toward the world. Within hours of the award announcement, domestic internet searches and sales of both the first book and of Liu Cixin’s whole 2008–2010 trilogy increased more than tenfold. Publishing houses and state institutions like the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China redoubled their efforts using SF as a vehicle for promoting China’s “peaceful rise,” and have identified SF as a key aspect of their propaganda and publicity campaigns.
Just as, when pressed, Calvino’s Marco Polo claims that “[e]very time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice,” every story in Invisible Planets is saying something about the author’s own position — but that may or may not be the China we know (or think we know). Invisible Planets is not only the spiritual successor to Calvino’s Invisible Cities: it evinces the same magic without following the same formula, creating a panoply of possible worlds that may or may not be our worlds, and which may or may not be true.
(6) BRAZILIAN INVITATION. Canadian sff author Craig Russell
received multiple items of good news recently.
First, “an incredibly kind” review
of his novel Fragment written by Brazilian
literature professor, Dr. Zélia M. Bora and published in The
Interdisciplinary Journal of Literature and Ecocritics.
Some of the comments, translated from Portuguese:
Russell’s clever and captivating novel captures the sensitive reader’s
attention from the beginning to the end of the narrative, in a balanced
way between the real and the imagined.”
undoubtedly one of the most important ecocritical fiction works written in
Russell has also received an invitation to speak about the novel at the 2020 Association for the Study
of Literature and Environment (Brazil) conference in the
city of Curitiba, Brazil (pending travel grant funding approvals.)
The man suspected of carrying out a deadly arson attack on a Japanese animation studio may have visited the area before, local media reported.
Neighbours spotted a man resembling Shinji Aoba near the Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) office before Thursday’s fire.
Mr Aoba, 41, who suffered severe burns, is in police custody and has been transferred to a hospital in Osaka.
On Saturday, a man died in hospital from his injuries, bringing the death toll from the attack to 34.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 21, 1911 — Marshall McLuhan. He coined the expressions the medium is the message and global village, and predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. I read The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects a long time ago. Somehow it seemed quaint. (Died 1980.)
Born July 21, 1921 — James Cooke Brown. He’s the creator of Loglan. Oh, and he did write SF. The Troika Incident written in 1970 features a global data net. That, and two short pieces of fiction, are the sum total of his of genre writings. The Troika Incident is available from Kindle but not from iBooks. (Died 2000.)
Born July 21, 1933 — John Gardner. Grendel, the retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s viewpoint, is likely the only work he’s remembered for. Gudgekin The Thistle Girl (and Other Tales) are genre fairy tales as are The King of the Hummingbirds (and Other Tales); A Child’s Bestiary is, well, guess what it says it is. Mickelsson’s Ghosts, his final novel written before his untimely death, is a ghost story. (Died 1982.)
Born July 21, 1939 — John Woodvine, 80. First role in our realm is as Macbeth at Mermaid Theatre back in the early Sixties. Shortly thereafter, he’s Badger in Toad of Toad Hall at the Comedy Theatre before being The Marshal in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Armageddon Factor”. He’s in An American Werewolf in London as Dr. J. S. Hirsch, and he had a recurring role in The Tripods as Master West. He did show up on The Avengers several times, each time as a different character, and he was Singri Rhamin for the episodes of Danger Man.
Born July 21, 1948 — G. B. Trudeau, 71. Not precisely genre or even genre adjacent, but he did an amazing series on the Apple Newton when it came out.
Born July 21, 1951 — Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook, The Fisher King, Bicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.)
Born July 21, 1960 — Lance Guest, 59. An American film and television actor, best known for his lead role in The Last Starfighter. He also shows up in Jaws: The Revenge as Michael Brody, as Jimmy in Halloween II, as Kyle Lane in the “Fearful Symmetry” episode of The X-Files and as The Burning Zone in “The Critical Mass” episode.
Born July 21, 1976 — Jaime Murray, 43. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in the Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. Film wise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood.
(9) DRIVE AROUND THE BLOCK AGAIN. Referring to the second tweet below — You never know who you’re going to wish you’d run into at Comic-Con.
(10) YEAR 6 IS IN THE BANK. The Uncanny Magazine Kickstarter
is clicking along, too. Year 6 is funded, and they’re in hot pursuit of their
second stretch goal already, with 24 days remaining.
(11) ON THE HORIZON. The “Strange
Horizons 2020” Kickstarter has also passed its $13,000 goal with 9
days to go in the campaign.
This was the Big Superhero Showdown Marvel’s been aiming towards for ten years, but when I saw it, it felt a bit….underwhelming. With so many characters tossed into the mix and so much to do, there wasn’t time for any of them to make much of an impression, with the possible exception of Thor and Rocket. Also, if I’d been Chris Pratt, I would have been ticked off by the way my character was forced to wield the Starlord Stupid Stick, not once but twice. If Peter Quill had only killed Gamora in the beginning, like she asked him to do and he agreed, Thanos would never have found the Soul Stone. Of course, then we wouldn’t have had a $2 billion-plus grossing movie…..
(13) WIDENING GYRE OF HUGO COVERAGE. Steve J. Wright has completed his Campbell
Best New Writer reviews + Pro Artist Hugo and Retro Hugo reviews.
Former NASA intern Gary George sold off three of the agency’s videotapes of the Apollo 11 moon landing for $1.82 million at auction house Sotheby’s on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of the event, CNN reported.
Sotheby’s claims the videos have not been enhanced, restored, or otherwise altered and are the “earliest, sharpest, and most accurate surviving video images of man’s first steps on the moon,” CNN wrote. George paid $217.77 in 1976 (approximately $980 in today’s dollars) for 1,150 reels of NASA magnetic tape at a government auction while he was a Lamar University student interning at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
…For discerning pet owners who treat their cats and dogs like family — in some cases better than family — designers are creating stylish, even glamorous, furniture. Witness the new $5,000 Crystal Clear Lotus Cat Tower by the Refined Feline, with three platforms for lounging and a hideaway cubby at the bottom lined in white faux fur. (You can see one at the trendy Los Angeles cat cafe Crumbs & Whiskers.) And now you and Buddy can catnap or watch DOGTV on matching tufted Chesterfield-style Wayfair Archie & Oscar sofas; his is a $399 miniaturized version of yours in faux-leather scaled with similar nailhead trim and turned legs.
FX’s Archer has some huge changes coming for season 11. The first piece of news is that there is going to be a season 11 (creator Adam Reed has previously suggested the show might end after the current 10th season). The second revelation is — as Archer producers just revealed at Comic-Con in San Diego on Friday — that Sterling Archer is going to wake from his three-year coma in the upcoming finale as the show plans a return to its spy agency roots next season. But there’s a lot more to it than just that.
EW exclusively spoke to executive producers Matt Thompson and Casey Willis about their season 11 shakeup. We got the scoop on the show’s major story line for next season, how long Archer has been in a coma, the future involvement of Reed on the show, and more.
A little over three months after Paris’ Notre Dame caught fire, French officials say the cathedral is still in a precarious state and needs to be stabilized. Ultimately, they aim to restore the monument, a process that will take years.
When that work begins, there will be a new demand for experts who have the same skills required to build Notre Dame 900 years ago. In the workshops of the Hector Guimard high school, less than three miles from the cathedral, young stone carvers are training for that task.
In an airy and light-filled workshop in the north of Paris, a handful of students chip and chisel away at heavy slabs of stone. Each works on his or her own piece, but all are sculpting the same project: the base of a Corinthian column. The students are earning a professional degree to hew the stone pieces needed to maintain and restore France’s historical monuments.
…”In the beginning, it was my own parents who were surprised when I left my architecture studies to do this,” says Marjorie Lebegue. “But most everyone who finds out I’m studying to be a stone carver says, ‘Wow, what a beautiful profession.'”
Luc Leblond instructs the aspiring stone carvers.
“There’s no reason this should be a masculine profession,” he says. “Men have more physical force, but as a professor, I see the women have a sharpened sensitivity for the more detailed work. So it’s complementary.”
Los Angeles Times correspondent Benjamin Crutcher wound up going viral at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con by cosplaying as the infamous coffee cup that appeared during an episode of the final season of Game of Thrones.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Simpsons: Russian Art Film Version” on YouTube is what the opening of “The Simpsons” would be like in a gloomy Soviet apartment complex.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge,
Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, Carl
Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to
File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
on the above for more information about each of the faculty via the Mysterious
Galaxy event pages.
year, the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop holds a
six-week Write-a-thon to coincide with the workshop. Like
a walk-a-thon, participants write to raise money for scholarships to support
This year, the Write-a-thon
will begin June 23, the same day that the workshop begins. Participants commit
to achieving their writing goals for the summer, whether that’s a daily word
count, number of chapters, stories or submissions, or just butt-in-chair
You can either sign up to do the Write-a-thon yourself, donate to individual participants, or just make a
general donation to the workshop. Everything helps achieve Clarion’s goal of
$15,000 to support the workshop and future students. The majority of the Thon
funds goes to scholarships for incoming students. Check it out and sign-up
or back a writer today!
Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction (Debut Category)
Shepherd, The Book of M (William Morrow, 2018)
Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction (Open Category)
Schulman, Theory ofBastards (Europa Editions, 2018)
Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Playwriting
Mendoza, Machine Learning
book awards were judged by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. The play award was judged
by a panel of experts from Northern Stage, VoxFest, Dartmouth’s Department of
Film and Media Studies, Dartmouth’s Department of Theater and The Civilians
Each award winner will receive a $5,000 honorarium that will be
presented during a Dartmouth-hosted panel to discuss the genre and their work.
Beautifully written, provocative and yet highly satisfying, this novel took lots of risks. And it paid off in this remarkable story. Unlike many dystopian novels, this one gives you hope for humanity and the future without being sentimental.
2019 Neukom award winner for playwriting is Francisco Mendoza, whose play, “Machine
Learning,” draws on insights from the immigrant experience and the
human relationship with technology to detail how a computer scientist’s
intelligent nursing app both repairs and complicates his troubled relationship
with his father.
will receive assistance with the play’s development in the form of a reading
with VoxFest at Dartmouth College in July, and a staged reading at Northern
Stage in White River Junction, Vermont, during the 2019/2020 season.
Neukom Institute for Computational Science is dedicated to
supporting and inspiring computational work. The Literary Arts Awards is part
of the Neukom Institute’s initiative to explore the ways in which computational
ideas impact society. The Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards were
established in 2017. The awards aspire to raise general awareness of the
speculative fiction genre, as well as the interconnectivity between the
sciences and the arts.
From the challenges of life on a floating Arctic city, to epidemics of forgetfulness and zombification, to an Earth occupied by amphibious aliens, the Neukom shortlist forces readers to grapple with uncomfortable twists to familiar storylines of climate change, social justice and technological innovation.
The second annual speculative fiction awards program will be
judged by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. The winners will be announced in late May.
It’s been gratifying to play a part in reading and selecting such unique and strong fiction from so many different points of view. We’ve particularly enjoyed encountering writers we had not read before—and it’s especially gratifying to find so many new voices, who we believe readers will be encountering for decades to come. The Dartmouth prize is a much-needed addition to the current slate of science fiction awards.
And co-judge Ann VanderMeer said:
We’re looking forward to selecting the winners. This is such a strong list and a difficult choice for us but a very good problem to have! It’s wonderful to see so many writers taking chances and showing us other ways to view the world we live in today and what our tomorrows could be.
Each award winner will receive a $5,000 honorarium that will be
presented during a Dartmouth-hosted panel to discuss the genre and their work.
The Neukom Institute for
Computational Science is dedicated to supporting and inspiring
computational work. The Literary Arts Awards is part of the Neukom Institute’s
initiative to explore the ways in which computational ideas impact society. The Neukom
Institute Literary Arts Awards were established in 2017. The awards
aspire to raise general awareness of the speculative fiction genre, as well as
the interconnectivity between the sciences and the arts.
Wherever your house allegiance may lie, there’s an Oreo for that—no, seriously. On April 2, the cookie brand announced a special line of Game of Thrones Oreos, which are stamped with the sigils of House Stark, House Targaryen, and House Lannister, symbolizing the main families that are left in the battle for the Iron Throne (and against the White Walkers). There’s even a cookie with the Night King on it, if you’re rooting for the dark side; plus, Oreo also recreated the show’s iconic opening sequence with (you guessed it) Oreos, which you can check out below.
Then there’s sneakers, a $2,700 leather jacket, underwear, and even GoT wine and Johnnie Walker whiskey, which at least have a very tenuous connection, given that alcohol actually exists in Westeros (as compared to Oreos). Of course, none of these products will appear on screen, unless a final twist reveals that the entire Game of Thrones universe was actually the fever dream of a Mountain Dew advertising executive.
Hey, Fevre Dream is another clever GRRM reference, if intentional.
(3) DON’T PANIC. That’s
what SFWA says, even though there’s no tickets
left. Right now, anyway.
The 2019 Nebula Conference is SOLD OUT, but don’t panic! We’re looking into expanding capacity & expect to release more tickets. If you haven’t bought your membership yet, email firstname.lastname@example.org to be notified when additional tickets are released.
(4) NOT WHISPERING. This
morning I stopped at an intersection behind a “Smith Family Exterminating” truck
and had the obvious thought. It came back to me now as I was reading Galactic Journey’s review of an old IF theme issue: “[Apr.
6, 1964] The art of word-smithing (May 1964 IF)”.
Science fiction magazines are no strangers to gimmicks. Fantasy and Science Fiction has “All-star issues” with no authors but big names (though they often turn in second-rate stuff). Analog is trying out a run in “slick” 8.5? by 11? size.
And this month, IF has gotten extra cute. Every story in the issue is written by a guy named “Smith.” It’s certainly a novel concept, but does it work?
“I urge you with all sincerity to get to work, write a book, write two—three—four books, just as a matter of course. Don’t worry about ‘wasting’ an idea or ‘spoiling’ a plot by going too fast. If you are capable of turning out a masterpiece, you’ll get other and even better ideas in the future. Right now your job is to write, and to write books so that by so doing you’ll gain the experience to write still better books later on.” (Bloch in an August 27, 1947 letter to Ray Bradbury)
Scott Turow, the author of such best-selling novels as Presumed Innocent (1987), Reversible Errors (2002) and Testimony (2017), has received the annual Paretsky Award for his work. That commendation was presented to him during the third annual Murder and Mayhem in Chicago convention, held this last Saturday. The Paretsky Award, named after Sara Paretsky, the creator of Windy City private detective V.I. Warshawski, “honors mysteries set in the Midwest.”
(7) RAPHAEL OBIT. Rabbi Lawrence Raphael died March 17 at the age of 74 reports Mystery Fanfare. In addition to being a rabbi, he edited anthologies of Jewish mysteries and crime fiction, and was also an expert in Jewish science fiction.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 7, 1915 — Stanley Adams. He’s best known for playing Cyrano Jones in “The Trouble with Tribbles” Trek episode. He reprised in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles” and archival footage of him was later featured in the Deep Space Nine “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode. He also appeared in two episodes of the Batman series (“Catwoman Goes to College” and “Batman Displays his Knowledge”) as Captain Courageous. (Died 1977.)
Born April 7, 1915 — Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories. His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of they published was under pseudonyms. During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. (Died 1958.)
Born April 7, 1928 — James White. His best-known novels were the Sector General hospital series published over a nearly a forty year period. No, I’m not going to remember which ones I read but I do fondly remember reading several of them and encountering the short stories in various magazines. Definitely popcorn literature at its best! (Died 1999.)
Born April 7, 1934 — Ian Richardson. His first genre performance was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Oberon. That’s the film with Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm and David Warner as well. He’s the Narrator of Gawain and the Green Knight, Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Sign of Four, Mr. Warrenn in Brazil (a film I’ve never understood), Polonius In Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Mr. Book in Dark City, Wasp in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There and Sir Charles Warren in From Hell based off the Alan Moore excellent graphic novel about the Ripper murders. (Died 2007.)
Born April 7, 1935 — Marty Cantor, 84. He’s the editor with then his wife Robbie of Holier Than Thou. It was nominated for the 1984, 1985 and 1986 Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine, losing in the first two years to File 770 and in the last to Lan’s Lantern. He also published Who KnowsWhat Ether Lurks in the Minds of Fen?, a rather nice play off The Shadow radio intro.
Born April 7, 1939 — Francis Ford Coppola, 80. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a redhead into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of note include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, an episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled“Rip Van Winkle”, Twixt (a horror film that almost no one has heard of), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers2,
Born April 7, 1946 — Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well. (Died 2008.)
Born April 7, 1945 — Susan Petrey. There are days I don’t like the Universe very much and it’s things like her death which cause that. Dead at 35, she’s the author of the Varkela, a series of stories where vampires heal instead of kill. Her collected work is be found in Gifts of Blood. She was very active in Portland, Oregon fandom where her friends established the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund in her memory which raises funds to send aspiring writers to the Clarion. (Died 1980.)
Born April 7, 1951 — Janis Ian, 68. Stars: Original Stories Based on the Songs of Janis Ian is an anthology of stories edited by her and Mike Resnick. It looks damn good and I’ve got the ISFDB link here for the contents.
…The opinions expressed below are not intended to divide the nominees up into things that “deserve” to be there and things that don’t. Every work/person on the ballot deserves to be there because their fans were passionate enough to make it happen. Fans are an opinionated bunch: we think some things are better than other things and we like to argue about it. That’s what I’m doing here.
The YouTube video essay has become perhaps the defining form of entertainment media of the digital age, and yet it’s still not a medium that garners a lot of respect. Except for the likes of a handful of film YouTubers such as the dearly departed Every Frame a Painting, it’s a field where all of the middling quality entries have an anchor-like effect upon all the superior efforts. In much the same way that feature films on streaming services have slowly clawed their way into award recognition, though, the same is true of the YouTube video essay. And YouTuber Lindsay Ellis just made a major statement to that effect, garnering a Hugo Award nomination for her critically acclaimed “Hobbit Duology,” in the category of Best Related Work.
It’s not the first time a YouTuber has been nominated for a Hugo Award—it’s happened at least once before, when Rachel Bloom was nominated in 2010—but it’s still a major honor and an important precedent, all the same. And it’s a fitting recognition of Ellis’ instantly gripping series of three videos on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, which offer a postmortem on how one of the most beloved film trilogies of all time (The Lord of the Rings) ended up being followed by a disappointing, overstuffed miscalculation.
(Note: Rachel Bloom was a 2011 nominee.)
(12) AWARD NEWS. The judges
for the Neukom
Institute Literary Arts Awards are Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer reports Locus Online. The $5,000 awards will be
presented in May at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
The Martian Chronicles, published in 1950, represented something unique and different in science fiction. At the optimistic opening of the space age, if offered a perspective on the lie that the promise of a new frontier offers, as though by traveling to Mars we assumed we would leave behind our weakness and bigotry. It’s Bradbury up and down, sacrificing scientific rigor in favor of poetic metaphor; one part awe, one part sadness, three parts nostalgia. It brought a literary perspective to science fiction, tackling themes of loneliness, regret, and the inevitable loss of innocence. Bradbury sought the deeper meanings in the established mechanics of science fiction and his stories encompassed an added layer of complexity that would have a profound impact on an up-and-coming generation of writers.
(14) BOOK REVIEW BONANZA. Sweet
Freedom’s “Friday’s Forgotten Books” feature links to the week’s collection
of genre reviews.
This week’s books and more, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles…a big week for Christie books…pushing the limit of “forgotten” but as with some of the other hugely popular, hugely prolific writers, each title aside from the most popular tends to be lost in the shuffle…how many John Creasey novels can most non-Creasey fans name?
Les Blatt: The Judas Window by “Carter Dickson” (John Dickson Carr)
Joachim Boaz: The Road to Corlay by “Richard Cowper” (John Middleton Murry, Jr.)
John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, August 1963, edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli
Ben Boulden: “The Double Whammy” by Robert Bloch, Fantastic, February 1970, edited by Ted White
Brian Busby: Jimmie Dale Alias The Gray Seal by Michael Howard
Brandon Crilly: On Spec co-edited by Diane Walton
Martin Edwards: Dominoes by John Wainwright
Peter Enfantino: Atlas (proto-Marvel) Horror Comics: March 1952
Will Errickson: Off Season by “Jack Ketchum” (Dallas Mayr)
José Ignacio Escribano: The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie
Curtis Evans: A Spot of Folly by Ruth Rendell
Olman Feelyus: The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette (translation by James Brook)
Paul Fraser: New Worlds SF, February 1965, edited by Michael Moorcock
Barry Gardner: A Cool Breeze on the Underground by Don Winslow
Charles Gramlisch: The Best of the West edited by Joe R. Lansdale
John Grant: Gangway! by Donald Westlake and Brian Garfield; The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman
Aubrey Hamilton: Suddenly While Gardening by Elizabeth Lemarchand
Rich Horton: Captives of the Flame by Samuel Delany; The Psionic Menace by “Keith Woodcott” (John Brunner); Ian McDonald stories; Ilium by Dan Simmons; Again, Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison
Jerry House: Negro Romance, #2 Fawcett August 1950/#4 Charlton May 1955, written and edited by Roy Ald and illustrated by Alvin Hollingsworth
Kate Jackson: Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie; Mothers in Crime Fiction
Tracy K: What Never Happens by Anne Holt; Remembered Death by Agatha Christie
Colman Keane: Atlanta Deathwatch by Ralph Dennis
George Kelley: The Great SF Stories 8 (1946) edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
Joe Kenney: Rock & Roll Retreat Blues by Douglas Kent Hall
B. V. Lawson: Picture Miss Seeton by “Heron Carvic” (Geoffrey Richard William Harris)
Evan Lewis: Comic Book Nation by Bradford W. Wright
Steve Lewis: Lord Mullion’s Secret by Michael Innes; Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie; 30 for a Harry by Richard Hoyt; “First Life” by Roger Dee, Super-Science Fiction, July 1950, edited by Ejler Jakobsson; “The Flies of Memory” by Ian Watson (novella version); Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1988, edited by Gardner Dozois
Todd Mason: Fantastic, September 1974, edited by Ted White; The Paris Review, Autumn 1974, edited by George Plimpton; The Ontario Review, Autumn 1974, edited by Raymond J. Smith; The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1974, edited by Edward Ferman
Francis M. Nevins: the works of John Roeburt
John F. Norris: The Crowing Hen by Reginald Davis; The Hand of the Chimpanzee by Robert Hare
Scott Parker: Faraday: The Iron Horse by James Reasoner
Matt Paust: That Old Scoundrel Death by Bill Crider
James Reasoner: Hearts of the West edited by Jean Marie Stine
Richard Robinson: Bodies from the Library edited by Tony Medawar
Gerard Saylor: The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury
Jack Seabrook and Peter Enfantino: DC War Comics, September 1974
Doreen Sheridan: The King of the Rainy Country by “Nicholas Freeling” (Nicolas Davidson)
Steven H. Silver: the works of Anne McCaffrey
Victoria Silverwolf: Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, November 1963, edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli
Kevin Tipple: A Reader’s Book of Days: True Tales from the Lives and Works of Women for Every Day of the Year assembled by Tom Nissley
“TomCat”: “Mystery at the Dog Pound” by Robert W. Cochran, Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine, May 1942, edited by Daisy Bacon
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Kim Huett, Martin Morse Wooster, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Todd Mason, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
The first fan to respond made the mistake of saying admiringly, “I think I’m going to order it” and was instantly schooled how outraged Ellison would have been to discover someone attempting to profit from unlicensed sales of his image (nor without paying the photographers who took the pictures). Fans shared their ire with Etsy store owner Ed Seeman and the Ellison shirt was taken down. However, Seeman’s hundreds of other similar designs involving movie and TV celebrities, famous scientists, and classical composers, are still on offer. These include William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, John Williams, and “Stephan” King.
(2) THINGS WRITERS HAVE TO
DO BESIDES WRITE. Jeff VanderMeer came up
with one I haven’t heard before:
It looks like a hawk got a dove on the ground near one of the feeders while we were out. From the spread of feathers and lack of body or any parts, I think it’s a hawk rather than a cat. Honestly, I sure hope it was a hawk, because if it was a cat I have to get out the supersoaker, fill it with orange juice, and spend a lot of time quietly waiting in the shadows and I have so much else to do.
Padawan learners strong with the Force will be able to build their own lightsabers using scavenged parts from fallen Jedi temples inside a covert workshop hidden from the watchful eye of the First Order when the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland.
The new Galaxy’s Edge themed land will be set in the Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu, located on the outer rim of the “Star Wars” galaxy. Every shop and restaurant in the village will have an extensive backstory and proprietor from the “Star Wars” universe.
The handbuilt lightsaber workshop will be run by Savi, who owns a space junkyard near the main entrance to Black Spire Outpost. The scrapper has been collecting lightsaber pieces from throughout the galaxy in hopes a true hero with the ability to assemble the parts would one day enter his shop. That day is today and that hero is you.
… Builders will choose from four lightsaber styles:
Peace & Justice, reflecting the Jedi style from the Republic era
Power & Control, a Sith style reflective of the Dark Side of the Force
Elemental Nature, using natural components like Brylark trees, Cartusion whale bones and Rancor teeth
Protection & Defense, incorporating components with ancient and mysterious motifs and inscriptions
Children’s-book author and Montpelier resident Katherine Paterson was announced Monday as the winner of the E.B. White Award, given once every two years by the American Academy of Art and Letters “in recognition of an exceptional lifetime body of work.”
Paterson, best known as the author of “Bridge to Terabithia,” receives $10,000 for the award that is given for achievement in children’s literature. The most recent winner, in 2017, was Judy Blume.
According to the biography on her website, Paterson has written more than 30 books, including 16 novels for children and young people. She won the Newbury Medal for American children’s literature in 1978 for “Bridge to Terabithia” and in 1981 for “Jacob Have I Loved.” She received the National Book Award in 1977 for “The Master Puppeteer” and 1979 for “The Great Gilly Hopkins.”
The Award jury
members were Judy Blume and Alison Lurie.
“‘StarTalk’ will return to the air with the remaining 13 episodes in April on National Geographic, and both Fox and National Geographic are committed to finding an air date for ‘Cosmos,’” the network said in a statement. “There will be no further comment.”
“Cosmos: Possible Worlds” and “Star Talk” have been in limbo for months, since Nat Geo launched an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against the famed astrophysicist.
Fox had originally scheduled the new season of “Cosmos” to premiere on Sunday, March 3, while Nat Geo had slated a second window to begin on Monday, March 4. Both networks later had to scrap those plans.
(6) 2020 WORLDCON WEBSITE UPDATE. CoNZealand
will unveil its changed website design on St. Patrick’s Day.
New Membership Site coming!
We are about to release our new Membership site. Barring any problems, we expect to open the site on March 17th, 2019, around 3PM NZST.
Our new system will include some new features.
New accounts will be created for Pre-supporting Members;
Membership upgrades will become available for Pre-supporting Members;
Lay-by instalment payments will become available for the purchase of new Memberships and to upgrade existing Memberships;
Existing membership numbers from our current online system will be increased by 2000. So if you are member #19, you will become member #2019. Because it’s the future.
New fields will be added to the form to give people registering online the same options as those who registered on the paper form.
…Larry never pulled his punches, and that frankness requires stating that we did have our differences from time to time. Larry could be fractious, and I think he sometimes resented being brought on by me as a lieutenant. He was talented enough to be a show-runner on his own, and being constantly a second-in-command chafed to the point that he began carving out his own pocket universe in B5. He wanted to show that he could do what I was doing, which for me was never even a question, I just didn’t want him doing it when I was trying to tell a story in a straight line in a way that no one had ever done before. But things became increasingly difficult between us, the friendship strained and broke, and we parted ways after season two.
We didn’t speak again for nearly ten years. And that was very hard for me. I don’t make friends often or easily, and Larry was probably my closest friend, right alongside Harlan Ellison. We’d celebrated birthdays and went to conventions together, shared a love of comics and terrible movies and he even got me to do some gaming for a while, which was his greatest love, and we had dinner together more times than I can even begin to count. And now all that was gone, and I was lost.
Straczynski and DiTillio co-hosted local Pacifica radio show Hour 25 from 1987-1989, and I met him in the studio when I was there to promote Loscon. (I’d first met Straczynski when I recruited him to be on the 1980 Westercon program).
March 16, 1961 –Walt Disney released The Absent Minded Professor to U.S. audiences.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 16, 1920 — Leo McKern. Long involvement in the genre so I’ll be selective here. You probably know from his non-genre role in Rumpole of the Bailey where he was Horace Bailey, but I’m fond of him in three roles, the first being Professor Moriarty In The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, the second when he played, and this is a slight pun, Number Two, the chief administrator, of The Village in The Prisoner series, and the third being the great Swami Clang In Help!, a Beatles film which should be genre even if it’s not. (Died 2002.)
Born March 16, 1943 — Susan Bay, 76. Also known as Susan Nimoy, wife of that actor. She portrayed Admiral Rollman in two episodes of Deep Space Nine: “Past Prologue” in the first season and “Whispers” in the second. Her only genre appearance, I believe, was in the Mr. Merlin series.
Born March 16, 1951 — P. C. Hodgell, 68. Her best known work is the Chronicles of the Kencyrath series with The Gates of Tagmeth being the current novel. She has dabbled in writing in the Holmesian metaverse with “A Ballad of the White Plague” that was first published in The Confidential Casebook of Sherlock Holmes as edited by Marvin Kaye.
Born March 16, 1952 — Alice Hoffman, 67. Best known for Practical Magic which was made into a rather good film. I’d also recommend The Story Sisters, a Gateway story, The Ice Queen, an intense riff off of that myth, and Aquamarine, a fascinating retelling of the mermaid legend.
Born March 16, 1961 — Todd McFarlane, 58. Best known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man and Spawn. And let’s not overlook McFarlane Toys whose product could be fantastic or shitty depending on the mood of Todd on a given day. And, of course, Todd reached a deal after decades with Neil on unpaid monies due on books that Todd had done with him.
Born March 16, 1963 — Kevin Smith. He was a New Zealand actor who was best known for being Ares in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and in its two related series – Xena: Warrior Princess and Young Hercules. He also voiced Ares for Hercules and Xena: The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus. And it looks like his last role was as Valdemar in the abysmal Riverworld movie. (Died 2002.)
Born March 16, 1964 — Gore Verbinski, 55. He is best known for directing the first three films of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. I see he’s also responsible for Mouse Hunt (a delightful film), Rango (ok going downhill here) and hitting rock bottom, The Lone Ranger.
Born March 16, 1966 — David Liss, 53. Writer of Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover, novelization of Marvel’s Spider-Man whichis a 2018 action-adventure game. Comics writer, Black Panther: The Man Without Fear and Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty Lives series. Not at all genre but his trilogy of novels starting with A Conspiracy of Paper and featuring Benjamin Weaver, a retired bare-knuckle boxer, now a thief-taker, a cross between a PI and bounty hunter, are highly recommended by me.
Born March 16, 1971 — Alan Tudyk, 48. Best known, I think, as Hoban “Wash” Washburne in the Firefly metaverse. His current role is the very, very irritating villain Mr. Nobody in the excellent Doom Patrol series on the DC Universe streaming service. For at least the first several episodes, he narrated the episodeswhich was really annoying as it included references to everything meta including Grant Morrison and universe creating goat farts. They dropped that aspect mercifully.
…It was strange to go to school at night, and in a taxi with my father instead of on the bus. The book-signing took place in the elementary school gymnasium, noisier and more crowded than I’d ever seen it during the day; the event was open to the public and full of strangers. I carried two books for L’Engle to sign. One was my mother’s childhood copy of A Wrinkle in Time, which embarrassed me—surely everybody would bring that one!—but my mother had insisted. To correct for this, I also brought Troubling a Star, my favorite L’Engle novel and no one else’s. I hoped it would communicate to L’Engle that I was a different caliber of reader.
The line to meet L’Engle was so long, and I was so short. I couldn’t see her until it was my turn—then I was face to face with her. She was older than I’d expected. Her gray hair was cropped shorter than in her author photo. In my memory she looms quite tall even while seated at the book-signing table; I’ve always assumed this was the exaggerated perception of a very small nine year old, but apparently she was indeed very tall.
She smiled an impersonal smile at me, the same smile she must have smiled at thousands of other kids. She wrote her name, nothing more, inside my books. She did not say, “Wow, Troubling a Star? That’s an unusual choice!” She did not say “You are to be a light-bearer” or “You see things invisible to lesser mortals” or “I love you, Frankie, love you like my daughter.” If she said anything at all, I don’t remember what it was. The whole thing was over so quickly…
For a lover of second-hand books, buying a book pales in comparison to the sheer delight of chancing upon one
I was dying to read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. I’d discovered him through my mother and a cover-less paperback that contained her favourite Bradbury short story The Veldt, about two kids so addicted to their virtual reality (VR) nursery that they feed their parents to VR lions. But even at his most gruesome (and prescient?), Bradbury has a sheer open-mouthed enjoyment of the strange and unexpected — from him, I learned to love dystopia. I even tried to write it. “He chocked. He was chocking. He would be chocking until death,” I wrote, aged 11, before taking things to a grim conclusion: “Then suddenly his head burst”.
A world in which books were crimes? It was a dystopian vision that held a particular thrill — in such a world, I might be a criminal.
So I was burning to read it, Bradbury’s novel about a book-less future, but it did not occur to me to look for it in a bookshop. I was sure I would find it on the book-strewn pavements of Daryaganj in Delhi….
The swarm robots are coming and they could change the way wars are fought.
In February, the defence secretary said “swarm squadrons” will be deployed by the British armed forces in the coming years.
The US has also been testing interconnected, co-operative drones that are capable of working together to overwhelm adversaries.
Low-cost, intelligent and inspired by swarms of insects, these new machines could revolutionise future conflicts.
From swarming enemy sensors with a deluge of targets, to spreading out over large areas for search-and-rescue missions, they could have a range of uses on and off the battlefield.
But just how different is “swarm” technology from the drones that are currently used by militaries across the globe? The key is self-organisation.
(18) BEFORE YOU BUY. Looking
for book reviews? There are links to all of these at Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom: “Friday’s ‘Forgotten’ Books and More”. The reviewer’s name
comes first, then book title and author’s name.
Patricia Abbott: Sleep While I Sing by L. R. Wright; What It Might Feel Like to Hope by Dorene O’Brien
Paul Bishop: the Gunships series by “Jack Hamilton Teed” (Christopher Lowder)
Les Blatt: Three Witnesses by Rex Stout
John Boston: Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction Stories, April 1964, edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli
Ben Boulden: Snowbound by Richard S. Wheeler; Things to Come, January/February 1955, the catalog of the (Doubleday) Science Fiction Book Club
Brian Busby: The Bright Path to Adventure by Gordon Sinclair
Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: Warren Comics (Creepy and Blazing Combat), October to December 1965, edited by Archie Goodwin
Will Errickson: The Manitouby Graham Masterton
José Ignacio Escribano:Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran
Curtis Evans: Swing, Brother, Swing by Ngaio March
Paul Fraser: The Great SF Stories 5 (1943) edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg; Unknown Worlds, June 1943, edited by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Barry Gardner: Kahawa by Donald Westlake
John Grant: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig; The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
Aubrey Hamilton: Death in the Quadrangle by Eilis Dillon
Rich Horton: Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley; PITFCS: Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies edited by Theodore R. Cogswell; Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart;
Jerry House: The Select (aka The Foundation) by F. Paul Wilson
Kate Jackson: three novels by Michael Gilbert;
Death in Store by Jennifer Rowe
Tracy K: Turncoat by Aaron Elkins
Colman Keane: Cast the First Stone and Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin
George Kelley: The Great SF Stories 7 (1945) edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
Joe Kenney: Cold Iron by “Robert Stone Pryor”
Margot Kinberg: The Division Bell Mystery by Ellen Wilkinson
Rob Kitchin: Winston’s War by Michael Dobbs
B. V. Lawson: The Port of London Murders by “Josephine Bell” (Doris Collier Ball)
Evan Lewis: Half Past Mortem by John A. Saxon
Jonathan Lewis: Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler
Steve Lewis: The Goodbye Look by “Ross Macdonald” (Kenneth Millar); “Eurema’s Dam” by R. A. Lafferty; Lemons Never Lie by “Richard Stark” (Donald Westlake); “Schroedinger’s Kitten” by George Alec Effinger
Mike Lind: Dashiell Hammett, Man of Mystery by Sally Cline
Todd Mason: best of the year horror fiction annuals for 2016
Jess Nevins: some women writers of horror from around the world
John F. Norris: The Flight of the Doves by Walter Macken
Patrick Ohl: In the Best Families by Rex Stout (hosted by Kevin Tipple)
Scott D. Parker: Weird Western Tales, December 1973, edited by Joe Orlando
Matt Paust: The Trail to Seven Pines by Louis L’Amour; Ways of Looking at a Woman by Caroline Hagood
James Reasoner: “Blitzkrieg in the Past” by “John York Cabot” (David Wright O’Brien), Amazing Stories, July 1942, edited by Ray Palmer
Richard Robinson: A Blaze of Glory by Jeff Shaara
Gerard Saylor: Murdaland, #1 (2007), edited by Michael Lagnas
Jack Seabrook: “One More Mile to Go” by F. J. Smith, Manhunt, June 1956, edited by Scott Meredith
Steven Silver: Convergent Series by Larry Niven
Victoria Silverwolf: Fantastic: Stories of Imagination, July 1963, edited by Cele Goldsmith-Lalli
“TomKat”: Challenge the Impossible: The Final Problems of Dr. Sam Hawthorne by Edward D. Hoch
David Vineyard: The Seven Sleepers by Francis Beeding
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, Michael Toman, Todd Mason, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
Tell me a bit about how you came up with the idea for “Skin City.”
One of my big fandoms here in Toronto is Nerd Girls Burlesque. They are a wonderful troupe of nerdy burlesque dancers who recently put on a Game of Thrones burlesque show, two fantastic and incredibly well-attended the Harry Potter burlesque nights, and a Doctor Who burlesque show. I love them. I think they’re fantastic. They’re so witty and so delightful. So when I think about Toronto or when I think about a better world in Toronto, it definitely includes them. I wanted to write about a nerdy burlesque dancer, and I wanted to put her front and center in the city, and I wanted Toronto to be known for that kind of thing.
James certainly makes his own unique contribution to the process of decentralizing the white European experience in fantasy fiction, although it’s important to recognize that this process has been underway for some time — and in so many different ways that it’s just plain lazy to compare this novel with, say, works from the last decade by Nnedi Okorafor or David Anthony Durham or Nora Jemisin or Minister Faust or Nisi Shawl or Kai Ashante Wilson (perhaps even beyond lazy). Neither is “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” Afrofuturism or even, really, “the African Game of Thrones,” as many – including James – have called it.
We’re just months from Game of Thrones’ final season, and HBO has released the first stills of Season 8 to get this hype train moving.
Though mostly character shots, it’s thrilling to see our favorite characters again – alive, for the time being, and moving around Westeros with the speed and urgency established in Season 7. Most surprising is the return of Varys (Conleth Hill) to the North…or does that snow mean winter is spreading south with the White Walkers?
(5) PROTIP. Myke Cole was
yanking peoples’ chains:
Of course, one person actually went looking for the list. (See
(6) VORLICEK OBIT. [Apologies for substituting certain letters
in his Czech name which WordPress won’t reproduce.] Vaclav Vorlicek, a Czech director of fantasy films that are greatly
beloved throughout Europe, died February 6. Cora Buhlert says he’s “definitely
one of the greats of our genre who deserves to be remembered” and has written an appreciation:
You may never have heard Vaclav Vorlicek’s name until today, but if you were a kid in Eastern and/or Western Europe in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, you have almost certainly watched his films at some point. Because Vaclav Vorlicek was the man behind many of those Czech fairytale movies that were afternoon television staples for children all over Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Because – uncommon for the time – Vorlicek’s films crossed the iron curtain and entertained children on both sides.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 6, 1923 – Patrick Macnee. He was best known as the secret agent John Steed in The Avengers, a tole he reprised in the New Avengers. He made his genre debut as Young Jacob Marley in Scrooge. He then starred as Derek Longbow in Incense for the Damned (also released as Bloodsuckers, Freedom Seeker Incense for the Damned and Bloodsuckers, Freedom Seeker and Doctors Wear Scarlet). Next up is an uncredited role voicing Imperious Leader on the original Battlestar Galactica. He played Captain John Good R.N. in King Solomon’s Treasure based rather loosely on the H. Rider Haggard source material. What else? Let’s see… he shows up in The Howling as Dr. George Waggner, as Dr. Stark in a film as alternative title is, I kid you not, Naked Space and Spaceship. It’s a parody apparently of Alien. Next up for him is another toff named Sir Wilfred in Waxwork and its sequel. Yes he wears a suit rather nicely. At least being Professor Plocostomos in Lobster Man from Mars is an open farce. Yes let me note that he had a voice only role in the absolutely shitty remake of The Avengers as Invisible Jones, a Ministry Agent. I do hope they paid him well. His last film work was genre as well, The Low Budget Time Machine, in which he started as Dr. Bernard. (Died 2015.)
Born February 6, 1925 – Patricia S. Warrick, 94. Academic who did a lot of Seventies anthologies with Martin Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander with such such titles as Social Problems Through Science Fiction, American Government Through Science Fiction and Run to Starlight, Sports Through Science Fiction. She did write two books of a more serious nature by herself, The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction and Mind in Motion: The Fiction of Philip K. Dick.
Born February 6, 1927 – Gerard O’Neill. Author, The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space and though lesser known, 2081: A Hopeful View of the Human Future. Conceptualized ideas of permanent space habitats and mass drivers. (Died 1992.)
Born February 6, 1931 – Rip Torn, 88. First genre work that comes to mind is of course RoboCop 3 and his Men in Black films. His first dip into our world comes as Dr. Nathan Bryce In The Man Who Fell to Earth. Yeah that film. Actually if you count Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he’s been a member of our community since his Twenties. He also shows up on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
The Questionable Content comic strip’s workplace is the Coffee of Doom coffeehouse. One of the baristas is highly educated.
However, there are serious problems with this series, which I am afraid is symptomatic for Weber’s recent work. Like the Safehold series, this one moves at a glacial pace. In 1009 pages, we advance from November 29, 1928 CE to May 3, 1929 CE. Barely three months… And this in a multiverse where it takes months even to send a message from one end of a chain of universes to another. The use of CE dates (in addition to the calendars used by the two opposing universes) makes me fear the worst: is the story at some point going to add a gate to our own universe? Which, of course, should be at some point in our future? Meaning that at a pace of 3 months per 1000 pages we have something like 400,000 pages to look forward to? Please no!
In fact, I’m not even sure that I will by the next installment in this series, because the glacial pace with which the narrative advances is not even the worst part of this book. No, those are the endless discussions of military logistics….
(10) THANKS FOR THE PRIVILEGE.
This went badly. Anand Giridharadas accepted a speaking engagement at a club
for wealthy progressives. Thread starts here.
Paleontologists in Argentina have uncovered a dinosaur unlike anything ever seen before. Alive some 140 million years ago, these majestic herbivores featured long, forward-pointing spikes running along their necks and backs. These spikes may have served a defensive role, but their exact purpose now presents a fascinating new mystery.
Locked inside the wood of Japan’s hinoki trees is an unprecedented 2,600 year-long record of rainfall patterns that are helping to piece together how weather shapes society.
At his laboratory in a wooded grove in northern Kyoto, Takeishi Nakatsuka holds up a vacuum sealed bag. Inside, bobbing in a bath of brown water, is a glistening disk the size of a dinner plate and the color of rich gravy. This soggy circle is the remnants of a 2,800-3,000-year-old tree, recovered from a wetland – water included, so the spongy wood does not deform – in Japan’s Shimane Prefecture, just north of Hiroshima. Within this ancient trunk lie secrets that can help us prepare for the future.
Nakatsuka, a palaeoclimatologist at Japan’s Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, along with a diverse team of 68 collaborators, has spent the last decade developing a novel method to reveal bygone precipitation patterns and interpret their effect on society. The results offer unprecedented insight into 2,600 years of Japanese rainfall patterns. By teasing out information locked inside the preserved wood of ancient forests, they are able to reveal just how much rain fell around the country over the past two and half millennia. It is an extraordinary record.
About every 400 years, the researchers found, the amount of rain falling on Japan would suddenly become extremely variable for a period. The nation would toggle between multi-decadal bouts of flood-inducing wetness and warmer, drier years that were favorable for rice cultivation. As the rains came and went, Japanese society prospered or suffered accordingly.
As weather patterns today increasingly defy expectations and extreme events become more frequent and severe, this window into past climate variability hints at what may be in store for us in the coming years. “Today is not different than 1,000 or 2,000 years ago,” Nakatsuka says. “We still have the same lifespans and we are still facing large, stressful multi-decadal variation.”
From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, 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 WIlliams.]
This year, we honor that historic achievement with the 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program, a collection of coins as unique in construction as they are stunning to behold. The program comprises curved coins in gold, silver and clad. The design of the coins’ obverse is a nod to the space missions that led up to the Moon landing, while the reverse features a representation of the famous “Buzz Aldrin on the Moon” photograph.
The 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary commemorative coins are being offered in seven editions:
An uncirculated-quality clad metal half dollar, limited to 750,000, for $25.95.
A proof-quality clad metal half dollar, limited to 750,000, for $27.95.
An uncirculated-quality silver dollar, limited to 400,000, for $51.95, with an order limit of 100 per household.
A proof-quality silver dollar, limited to 400,000, for $54.95, with an order limit of 100 per household.
A 5-ounce proof-quality silver dollar, limited to 100,000, for $224.95, with an order limit of 5 per household.
An uncirculated-quality $5 gold coin, limited to 50,000, for $408.75, with an order limit of one per household.
A proof-quality $5 gold coin, limited to 50,000, for $418.75, with an order limit of one per household.
The U.S. Mint has also produced an Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 2019 proof half dollar set, which includes one Apollo 11 50th Anniversary proof half dollar and one Kennedy enhanced reverse proof half dollar, “to commemorate the enduring relationship between President Kennedy and the American space program.” The set is a limited edition of 100,000 units and retails for $53.95.
The sale of the coins will benefit three foundations —
As authorized by Congress in 2016, proceeds from the sale of the U.S. Mint coins benefit three space-related organizations that preserve space history and promote science and engineering education: the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” gallery, scheduled to open in 2022.
If all of the Apollo 11 commemorative coins are sold, then they will raise a total of $14.5 million, with half going to the Smithsonian and the remaining funds divided between the two foundations.
(2) ARISIA. The Monday
edition of Arisia’s daily newzine said the con’s total registration was 3,190.
Last year’s attendance was 3,930.
(3) HOPE. Leigh
Alexander and John Scalzi did an Ask
Us Anything session at Reddit today
to promote The Verge’s “Better Worlds”
project. Here’s an excerpt.
Q: Your most optimistic vision for the future comes true. What is it, and why is it actually awful in reality?
A: Optimism is biased data. Whatever I imagined as ‘ideal’ would have some kind of blind spot among the people I failed to consider. I don’t even care to speculate aloud, lest some celestial monkey’s paw shudders one more finger closed.
I really find Star Trek: The Next Generation soothing because you have Patrick Stewart, one of the world’s most brilliant actors, taking this little cardboard set, these goofy prosthetic aliens, with just the utmost sincerity — and in so doing, he represents what we think of as the ‘best’ of humanity in space.
But then of course there are all these times that the optimistic ‘ideals of the show reveal this provincial normativity that we wouldn’t expect to still exist in the fully automated luxury space future — so many of the aliens just have the same gender binary, same hierarchical titles, same everything as “the humans”.
Whatever I can imagine would be good for us in the future won’t be relevant to all of us by the time we get there. But I do hope that being good to each other is an ongoing part of our evolution, that with each generation we get better at that. That’d be the dream.
My most optimistic vision is that people treat other people decently, and also incorporate the idea the planet will be here after they are, so maybe don’t trash the place. Neither of these require any SF concepts to be implemented, and honestly it’s difficult to see what the downside of these would be in tandem.
For some unknown reason, voters chose to honor those movies and their music instead of Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow’s score and its magnificently spooky centerpiece, “The Alien,” home to a cluster of hypnotic notes that Slate has dubbed the weird Annihilation noise. (Listen at the 2:40 mark….)
That was definitely a weird snub. But I really think the bigger snub is that Tessa Thompson wasn’t up for anything–whether for Annihilation or her other films from last year. Really truly mindboggling. Also, I thought Gina Rodriguez in Annihilation should at least have been considered–the performance was great and without her the whole thing would’ve been so understated as to be ridiculous.
To the moon, Jonas! The blog Potrzebie posted up this scan of the cover of a 1963 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science-Fiction featuring a dashing young Adolfas Mekas piloting a rocketship while his skeletal brother Jonas Mekas looms in the background. Apparently the cover is illustrating a tale of a spaceman who starves himself so his brother can pilot their lost ship back to civilization.
(7) PAVLOW OBIT. British
actress Muriel Pavlow (1921-2019) died January 19,
aged 97. Genre appearances included Hansel
and Gretel in 1937, Project M7 in
1953 and one episode of R3 in 1965.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 24, 1911 – C.L. Moore. Author, and wife of Henry Kuttner until his death in 1958. Their work was written as a collaborative undertaking, resulting in such delightful works as “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” and “Vintage Season”, both of which were turned into films which weren’t as good as the stories. She had a strong writing career prior to her marriage as well with such fiction as “Shambleau” which involves her most famous character Northwest Smith. I’d also single out “Nymph of Darkness” which she wrote with Forrest J Ackerman. I’ll not overlook her Jirel of Joiry, one of the first female sword and sorcery characters, and the “Black God’s Kiss” story is the first tale she wrote of her adventures. She retired from writing genre fiction after he died, writing only scripts for writing episodes of Sugarfoot, Maverick, The Alaskans and77 Sunset Strip, in the late Fifties and early Sixties. Checking iBooks, Deversion Books offers a nearly eleven hundred page collection of their fiction for a mere three bucks. Is their works in the public domain now? (Died 1987.)
Born January 24, 1917 – Ernest Borgnine. I think his first genre role was Al Martin in Willard but if y’all know of something earlier I’m sure you’ll tell me. He’s Harry Booth in The Black Hole, a film whose charms escape me entirely. Next up for him is the cabbie in the superb Escape from New York. I’m the same year, he’s nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor as Isaiah Schmidt in the horror film Deadly Blessing. A few years later, he’s The Lion in a version of Alice in Wonderland. Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders is horror and his Grandfather isn’t that kindly. He voices Kip Killigan in Small Soldiers which I liked, and I think his last role was voicing Command in Enemy Mind. Series wise let’s see… it’s possible that his first SF role was as Nargola on Captain Video and His Video Rangers way back in 1951. After that he shows up in, and I’ll just list the series for the sake of brevity, Get Smart, Future Cop, The Ghost of Flight 401, Airwolf where of course he’s regular cast, Treasure Island in Outer Space and Touched by an Angel. (Died 2012.)
Born January 24, 1942 – Gary K. Wolf, 77. He is best known as the author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? which was adapted into Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It bears very little resemblance to the film. Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit? which was written later hews much closer to the characters and realties of the film. He has written a number of other novels such as Amityville House of Pancakes Vol 3 which I suggest you avoid at all costs. Yes they are that awful.
Born January 24, 1944 – David Gerrold, 75. Let’s see… He of course scripted “The Trouble With Tribbles” which I still love, wrote the amazing patch up novel When HARLIE Was One, has his ongoing War Against the Chtorr series and wrote, with Robert Sawyer, Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles, and the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Setting aside his work as a novel writer, he’s been a screenwriter for Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Land of the Lost, Logan’s Run (the series), Superboy, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sliders, Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II, and Axanar. Very impressive.
Born January 24, 1967 – Phil LaMarr, 52. Best known I think for his voice work which, and this is a partial list, includes Young Justice (Aquaman among others), the lead role on Static Shock, John Stewart aka Green Lantern on Justice League Unlimited, Robbie Robertson on The Spectacular Spider-Man, various roles on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and T’Shan on Black Panther. Live roles include playing a Jazz singer in the “Shoot Up the Charts” episode of Get Smart, a doctor on The Muppets in their ”Generally Inhospitable” segment, a lawyer in the “Weaponizer” episode of Lucifer and the voice Rag Doll in the “All Rag Doll’d Up” episode of The Flash. Oh I’ve got to see that!
Born January 24, 1978 – Kristen Schaal, 41. Best known as Carol on The Last Man on Earth, the post-apocalyptic comedy. Other genre creds includes her role as Gertha Teeth in Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, an adaptation of Darren O’Shaughnessy’s The Saga of Darren Shan, Miss Tree In Kate & Leopold, Pumpkin / Palace Witch in Shrek Forever After, Tricia in Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4, The Moderator in The Muppets film and the Freak Show series.
It’s only a few checks off his list of missing pieces, but Randy Lawrence is hopeful he’ll get his $1.4 million in comic books back.
Police in Phoenix arrested a man who tried to sell four of Lawrence’s nearly 450 missing comic books.
(11) TOLKIEN’S FELLOWSHIP. Extra Credits continues its new season with
episode 2 of “Extra Sci Fi” – “Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring.”
J. R. R. Tolkien wasn’t *just* a fantasy author–he was a mythology master. As a result, he ended up inventing some of the most popular genre tropes that science fiction heavily draws upon. Fellowship of the Ring introduces the theme of the “lessening of the world” and the decay of humanity.
(12) GERMAN CRIME FICTION
AWARDS. The winners of the Deutscher Krimipreis, Germany’s oldest crime
fiction award, have been announced. Cora Buhlert, who sent the link, adds: “One
of the runners-up in the national crime novel category, Finsterwalde
by Max Annas, is actually sort of science fictional.”
Mexikoring by Simone Buchholz
Tankstelle von Courcelles by Matthias Wittekindt
64 by Hideo Yokoyama
Krumme Type, Krumme Type (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) by Tom Franklin
Blut Salz Wasser (Blood, Salt, Water) by Denise Mina
(13) SPACE, THE FINAL FRONT EAR. Another day, another Star Trek opinion
piece. Writing at FilmSchoolRejects.com,
Charlie Brigden takes a turn “Ranking The ‘Star Trek’ Themes.”
Music has always been a huge part of Star Trek, from 1966 and that fanfare to the modern stylings of Star Trek: Discovery, which begins its second season this week. Over the course of 13 movies and seven television series, not to mention a boatload of video games, various composers have tried their best to musically represent Gene Roddenberry‘s vision of gunboat diplomacy and utopian societies. But which theme reaches maximum warp first? Which of the many pieces of music can deal with the most phaser hits and deciphering technobabble? Let’s find out.
Brigden says a good bit about each of the themes, but
stripping it down to just the list:
15. Enterprise 14. The Animated Series 13. The Voyage Home 12. Deep Space Nine 11. Generations 10. Discovery 9. Nemesis 8. Star Trek ’09 7. The Undiscovered Country 6. Insurrection 5. Voyager 4. The Wrath of Khan 3. First Contact 2. The Original Series 1. The Motion Picture
…Meanwhile, across the vast emptiness of space incredible minds were watching Earth and thinking “I know, let’s invade Surrey”. You have to remember that this wasn’t the 1950s when invading aliens preferred to target sleepy small towns in America. This was the nineteenth century and if you were an alien and you were thinking of making a trip to Earth, your first thought was “Surrey”. It’s a case of a local tourist board being just a bit too successful with their promotion of local sights. “Visit Sunny Woking” said the brochure that a Martian advance scout had picked up at Waterloo Station in an extremely brief visit in 1885…
(15) JEOPARDY! PATROL. Andrew
Porter saw it on tonight’s Jeopardy!
Category: Potent Poe Tales
Answer: This Poe story’s title is realized as the narrator flees the “House” as it cracks and is torn asunder.
Wrong question: “What is the house with a crack in its wall?”
(16) PITCH MEETING. ScreenRant adds to its series with “Glass Pitch Meeting: Shyamalan’s
Sequel To Split And Unbreakable.”
Boeing Co said on Wednesday its flying car prototype hovered briefly in the air during an inaugural test flight, a small but significant step as the world’s largest planemaker bids to revolutionize urban transportation and parcel delivery services.
Boeing is competing with arch-rival Airbus SE and numerous other firms to introduce small self-flying vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing.
[…] Boeing’s 30-foot-long (9 meter) aircraft – part helicopter, part drone and part fixed-wing plane – lifted a few feet off the ground and made a soft landing after less than a minute of being airborne on Tuesday at an airport in Manassas, Virginia, Boeing said.
Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight.
“This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” John Langford, president and chief executive officer of Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, said in a news release announcing the test flight.
The Microsoft search engine, Bing, is back online in China after apparently being blocked on Wednesday, a company spokesperson told NPR.
“We can confirm that Bing was inaccessible in China, but service is now restored,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
…Microsoft President and Chief Legal Counsel Brad Smith explained that it’s not the first time the search engine has been blocked. “It happens periodically,” he said in an interview with Fox Business News from Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.
Cheeky trolls that tower over passers-by can be found in the Danish wilds. Constructed using wood found around the city, the sculptor behind them wants to bring people into nature.
Go for a walk in a Danish forest and you may spot a giant troll peeking out from behind a tree, or lounging luxuriously across the ground. These folkloric creatures are made by recycling artist, designer and activist Thomas Dambo, who sculpts the enormous beings from reclaimed wood.
(20) RED DWARF
RETURNS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Red Dwarf is back, baby! Or
anyway, it will be. Den of Geek had
the story (“Red Dwarf
Series 13 Confirmed”) all the way back in April 2018.
The boys from the Dwarf will be back for a thirteenth series…
Red Dwarf XIII is happening! Dave has ordered a brand new series of our favourite space sitcom, as confirmed by Robert Llewellyn and Danny John-Jules at Thames Con, and then duly reported by British Comedy Guide shortly thereafter.
Baby Cow Productions are set to start filming series XIII in the first few months of 2019, and Doug Naylor will be back to write all the new episodes. Robert Llewellyn, Danny John-Jules, Craig Charles and Chris Barrie will, of course, all be along for the ride.
With more Red Dwarf on the way, [columnist] Mark [Harrison] ponders how the sci-fi sitcom’s revival on Dave has secured its future…
For a show that’s three million and 31 years into deep space, Red Dwarf is in pretty rude health. It’s been just over a year since the programme came to the end of its 12th series, the second of a two-series production block shot in early 2016, on UK TV channel Dave, and it looks as if there’s still plenty more to come from Lister, Rimmer, Kryten and the Cat.
(21) VIDEO OF
THE DAY. In
“Your Cocoon” on Vimeo, Jerry Paper explains why you can’t have any
fun if you’re a detached head.
Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Steve Green, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy,
JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, SF
Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories.
Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) DOOM PATROL TEASER. Daniel Dern helpfully adds a Rot-13 footnote to the video: “For Filers too young and/or cool to recognize the background music’s singer, Fvatvat ‘Gvcgbr Guebhtu Gur Ghyvcf’ vf Gval Gvz , of course.”
DOOM PATROL is a re-imagining of one of DC’s most beloved groups of outcast Super Heroes: Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder (The Chief). The Doom Patrol’s members each suffered horrible accidents that gave them superhuman abilities — but also left them scarred and disfigured. Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found purpose through The Chief, who brought them together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence — and to protect Earth from what they find. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of super-powered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them. Picking up after the events of TITANS, DOOM PATROL will find these reluctant heroes in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse, but with a warning that is hard to ignore: their lives will never, ever be the same.
Mankind has split the atom, sent a man to the moon, and now, in arguably its most unlikely achievement, it has produced a watchable Transformers movie.
There’s really no scientific expression for how low Michael Bay’s five previous Transformers movies have set the bar, but it’s not enough to praise Bumblebee, the diverting new spin-off/prequel, for basic visual coherence or evidence of identifiable human emotion. It does better than that, imbuing the commercial cynicism of a Hasbro product with the borrowed warmth of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Splash, and a soundtrack so chock-a-block with ’80s favorites that it gets from The Smiths to Steve Winwood in a hummingbird’s sneeze.
Though Bay has stayed on as producer, director Travis Knight, who made the wonderful Laika animated film Kubo and the Two Strings, and his screenwriter, Christina Hodson, almost make a point of crumpling up his vision and tossing in the waste basket. Gone is the Bay’s risible mix of mythology and militarism, replaced by simplified conflict and an emphasis on the friendship between an outcast and an exile. Gone also is the leering, dorm-room poster sexuality, replaced by a notably chaste teen romance that doesn’t get past first base. Bumblebee seems to have more of a family-friendly mandate than Bay’s Transformers movies, but the lightness and earnestness serves the material well. Movies inspired by toys tend to crack like cheap plastic under too much weight.
The long and bleak year of 2018 is almost over. It was a year full of devastating storms and disasters, scandal after scandal from tech companies, and chaotic politics from around the world. If there was any bright point in the year, it was that 2018 also brought with it a bumper crop of fantastic science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels that served as an oasis to examine the world around us, or to escape for brighter pastures.
The best books of this year told stories of interstellar colonization, of fantastic magical civilizations, optimistic alternate worlds, and devastating potential futures. They brought us fantastic characters who sought to find their places in the vivid and fantastic worlds they inhabited.
Set in the distant future, humanity survives on a planet wrecked by climate change and plagues in Larissa Lai’s latest novel The Tiger Flu, which follows a community of cloned women who are battling for their very survival waged by illness and economics.
Lai’s story follows two women: Kirilow, a doctor of Grist Village whose lover Peristrophe dies of a new strain of flu. Peristrophe was vitally important to their community — she could regrow her limbs and organs, and following her death, Kirilow sets out to Salt Water City to try to find someone to replace her. There, she meets Kora, a woman living in the city who might be able to save her community, but who resists leaving her family behind. Lai’s story is an intriguing post-apocalyptic novel, one rife with biotech and the remnants of the world from before.
(4) SPACE COMMAND. On Late Night With Stephen Colbert the USS Enterprise receives a message from an alien
curious about this whole Space Command thing. (The one thought up by Trump, not
I’m expanding my blocking next year to people who (1) love ice cream, (2) hate vultures, (3) tag me in posts comparing me unfavorably to authors I hate, (4) post cute animal vids without checking the source, (5) think wine coolers are cool, (6) have “author” as part of their name, (7) are inept at the fine art of humble bragging, (8) tell me something’s inspired by Annihilation just to get me to retweet it, (9) send me emails about how convinced they are the biologist wanted to commit suicide, and (10) send me every goddamn photo of a weird tree every single goddamn time. – Love, Curmudgeon
Donald Moffat, the English actor most known for playing station commander Garry in John Carpenter‘s 1982 remake of The Thing, has died at the age of 87. According to The New York Times, Moffat passed away Thursday in Sleepy Hollow, New York, after complications arose from a stroke six days before his 88th birthday.
… Born in Plymouth of the U.K.’s Devon County in December of 1930, Moffat moved to the United States at the age of 26 to pursue a full-time acting career. Besides The Thing, the actor appeared in a number of other genre projects, like Night Gallery, TheTerminal Man, Logan’s Run (the TV series), Exo-Man, Popeye, The Right Stuff, and Monster in the Closet.
The father of actress Mary Stuart Masterson and a two-time Tony nominee also helmed ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ and appeared in ‘The Stepford Wives’ and ‘The Exorcist.’…
(8) ICONS LOST IN 2018.
Last week, Turner Classic Movies posted its annual in memoriam video. Harlan Ellison, Jerry Maren, William Goldman,
Gary Kurtz, Margot Kidder, and Stan Lee are some of the genre figures shown.
In loving memory of the actors and filmmakers who have passed away in 2018. We will remember you for all time.
Walter Cronkite held a tiny model of the Apollo 8 spacecraft and strode across a darkened studio where two dangling spheres represented Earth and the moon. This was the CBS Evening News, Dec. 20, 1968, and three Apollo 8 astronauts were scheduled to blast off the following morning on a huge Saturn V rocket. Cronkite explained that the astronauts would fly for three days to the vicinity of the moon, fire an engine to slow the spacecraft and enter lunar orbit, circle the moon 10 times, then fire the engine a final time to return to Earth and enter the atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour.
“They must come in at JUST the right angle. If they come in too steeply, they will be CRUSHED in the Earth’s atmosphere. If they come in too shallow, they will SKIP OUT and go into Earth orbit and not be able to return,” Cronkite said….
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 21, 1892 – Hubert Rogers. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines. His first freelance work was for Ace-High, Adventure, Romance, and West. In ‘42, he started doing covers for Astounding Science Fiction which he would do until ‘53. He did the cover art for the ‘51 edition of the Green Hills of Earth, the ‘50 edition of The Man Who Sold the Moon and the ‘53 edition of Revolt in 2100. (Died 1982.)
December 21, 1928 – Frank Hampson. A British illustrator that is best known as the creator and artist of Dan Dare, Pilot of The Future and other characters in the boys’ comic, The Eagle, to which he contributed from 1950 to 1961. There is some dispute over how much his original scripts were altered by his assistants before being printed. (Died 1985.)
Born December 21, 1937 – Jane Fonda, 81. Sure everyone here has seen her in Barbarella? Her only other genre appearances are apparently by voice work as Shuriki in the animated Elena of Avalor series, and in the Spirits of the Dead, 1968 anthology film based on the work of Poe. She was the Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the film.
Born December 21, 1948 – Samuel L. Jackson, 70. Where to start? Did you know that with his permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimates version of the Nick Fury? It’s a great series btw. He has also played Fury in the Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too! He voiced Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone) in Incredible and Incredibles 2, Mace Windu in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Afro Samurai character in the anime series of the same name and more other genre work than can be listed here comfortably so go ahead and add your favorite role by him.
Born December 21, 1962 – Kevin Murphy, 56. American actor and writer best known as the voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo on the Mystery Science Theater 3000. And he does RiffTrax which are humorous audio commentary tracks intended to be played along with various television programs and films.
Born December 21, 1966 – Kiefer Sutherland, 52. My, he’s been in a lot of genre undertakings! I think that The Lost Boys was his first such of many to come including Flatliners, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Nutcracker Prince, The Three Musketeers, voice work in Armitage: Poly-Matrix, Dark City, more voice work in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration, Marmaduke and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Mirrors, and yes he’s in the forthcoming second Flatliners as a new character.
Born December 21, 1971 – Jeff Prucher, 47. Won the Hugo Award for Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction which to my knowledge is still the only historical dictionary of words originating in sf, plus citations and bibliographic information for them. If there’s another one, I’d like to know about it.
(11) DON’T JUDGE BY CHARACTERS
ON TV. Ada Hoffman told Twitter readers, “[If] you
are NT, I am going to explain several reasons why you SHOULD NOT EVER judge if
a character is ‘autistic enough’ by how well they match autistic characters on
TV. Any TV.” Thread starts here.
Swarm Technologies Inc will pay a $900,000 fine for launching and operating four small experimental communications satellites that risked “satellite collisions” and threatened “critical commercial and government satellite operations,” the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.
The California-based start-up founded by former Google and Apple engineers in 2016 also agreed to enhanced FCC oversight and a requirement of pre-launch notices to the FCC for three years.
Swarm launched the satellites in India last January after the FCC rejected its application to deploy and operate them, citing concerns about the company’s tracking ability.
(13) COUNTERING ROGUE DRONES.
[Item by Chip Hitchcock.] BBC
airport: How countries counter the drone threat”. Context: per another BBC post, possibly 100,000 or more
passengers grounded due to somebody flying at least one drone around the
airport. It’s unclear so far whether it was a random idiot, or somebody
deliberately harassing; the latter reminds of Christopher Anvil’s “Gadget vs. Trend” which is framed by quotes from a
sociologist complaining first about rampant conformism and last about rampant
individualism, after a device has allowed people to be … disruptive.
Rogue drones “deliberately” flown over one of the UK’s busiest airports caused travel chaos this week.
Incoming planes were forced to divert to airports up and down the country as the drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), repeatedly appeared over the airfield at London’s Gatwick Airport.
The situation was so serious the Army was called in to support the local police in tackling the issue, with the runway finally re-opening on Friday morning.
For some time now, governments around the world have been looking at different ways of addressing the dangers of drone use in areas where they pose safety risks.
Here we look at some of the solutions – ranging from bazookas to eagles.
There are so many amazing books this year that I personally think did not get enough hype or recognition, and today’s all about highlighting some of the quieter YA releases that you should definitely check out!
Every single book on this list and the ones to come are books that I’ve already read + loved, but obviously there are 2018 novels I haven’t read and could definitely qualify. But, alas. It is not to be.
I feel like in end of the year lists, we oftentimes forget about books that published earlier in the year, but Undead Girl Gang is a book I looooved! Not only did it star a fat Hispanic MC, but it’s also a really great book about friendship?
I mean, this girl has her mean girls revived as “zombies” of sorts (just not…flesh eating) and I loved seeing how they resolved their differences throughout the novel. It was not only super nice to read about friendship and not a lot of romance, but I also really loved the sort of fun narrative style that makes you enjoy what’s happening and not take it too seriously!
Lauren C Teffeau’s Implanted combines future cyberpunk beats with a climate changed ravaged future, a vertically oriented arcology setting, and a strong central character with a thriller chassis for an entertaining read.
…The strength of the novel is Emily as a flawed, complicated character with lots of fiddly bits to her personality and story. Far from being a smooth operator when dropped into her new, unwelcome situation, and on the other hand, avoiding the trap of making her a completely clueless newbie without any skills, the author creates Emily as someone with strengths and weaknesses, in terms of skills and personality, that become plot relevant and interesting to her development and growth. Her desire to reconnect with her former life, damn the consequences, is a major driver of the plot as well.
(18) FELINE NAVIDAD.Camestros Felapton’s “Carols with Catnip” features seasonal music behind a video visage of Timothy the Talking Cat. It’s sort of like that Sauron eye fireplace video, except even more horrifying!
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Liptak, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, 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 James Moar.]