(1) SF ENCYCLOPEDIA MILESTONES. John Clute regaled Facebook followers with the latest box score:
SFE hubris moment again; we’re free online so hope we can intrude this way . We’ve just hit 75,000 titles listed with full context in Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Checklists. Also, we now provide Picture Gallery scans for more than 5,000 individual authors given entries (some have only one, Robert Silverberg has 166 and counting). Personally, have just finished writing solo entry number 7,000.
(2) MEACHAM TO RETIRE. Tor editor Beth Meacham, a 7-time Hugo nominee and winner of the Skylark Award (2007), is retiring in December.Publishers Lunch has the story.
Beth Meacham, executive editor at Tor/Tom Doherty Associates will retire at the end of the year. She joined Tor as editor-in-chief in 1984. President and publisher Fritz Foy writes, “We’re delighted that Beth will continue to edit a small number of projects for us on a consulting basis. But most of her list will be moving to other editors as she prepares for her retirement.”
(3) NERDS EVERY MONDAY. Adri Joy and the Nerds of a Feather Team are starting a new series of weekly theme posts that focus on work from countries and regions that are underrepresented in English speaking science fiction and fantasy markets: “Introducing: Nerds on Tour!”
…Speculative fiction is, by definition, a global phenomenon, but the Anglophone science fiction and fantasy community has often sought to define its boundaries in ways that exclude much of the work being created in the rest of the world, even as it adds the “World” label into its own events and awards. At a time when it can feel like our own worlds are narrowing, we think its more important than ever to push back, to remind ourselves why we love genre in all its forms and to go beyond the narrow window of culture, language and geography that shapes most of the media we get to watch. Nerds on Tour will be running on Mondays from now until December, and we hope you enjoy everything we have in store.
(4) FRANCHISE PLAYER. Cat Rambo’s new “Cat Chat” is a really fascinating “Interview with Jennifer Brozek about Writing For Franchises.” Brozek: “The final surprise that I had for franchises is sometimes the publisher doesn’t actually know what they want. They want a story and they have sort of an idea in their head but they don’t know how to communicate it to an author. They don’t have universe bibles. They don’t have… They just want fiction in that universe. ‘No, not like that!’ You know, it’s kind of like ‘I don’t know art but I know it when I see it.’”
Jennifer Brozek is a multi-talented, award-winning author, editor, and media tie-in writer. She is the author of the Never Let Me Sleep, and The Last Days of Salton Academy, both of which were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. Her BattleTech tie-in novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, won a Scribe Award. …Jennifer talks about writing for franchises, including Shadowrun and Valdemar, what has surprised her about the process, what worlds she hasn’t written in but would like to, and which of her original worlds would make the best franchise, as well as what advice she’d give to people working in it. Jennifer teaches Working in Other Worlds: Writing for Franchises with Jennifer Brozek, for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. The next class will be Saturday, October 24, 2020, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.
(5) RACE IN D&D. “Dungeons & Dragons Officially Removes Negative Racial Ability Score Modifiers From Rules” – Comicbook.com has the story.
Dungeons & Dragons players will no longer have a negative ability score modifier when building a character of a certain race. Last week, Dungeons & Dragons officially released updated errata for a number of their sourcebooks and adventures. The Volo’s Guide to Monsters errata was particularly important in that it removed the negative ability score modifiers for playable kobolds and orcs. While kobolds originally had a -2 modifier to their Strength score, and orcs had a -2 modifier to their Intelligence, the updated rules remove those modifiers entirely from the game. Additionally, the errata also removes the orc’s “Menacing” trait with the “Primal Intuition” trait, which grants players proficiency in two of the following options – Animal Handling, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, and Survival.
The updated rules reflect previous comments by the Dungeons & Dragons team that promised better representation and a movement towards giving the player characters individualism as opposed to forcing them to fit within cultural stereotypes within the game’s lore. While players can still choose to use the cultural generalities of D&D’s various campaign settings when creating a character, the updated rules allows for greater expression and also gives DMs more freedom to create their own worlds where the standard D&D cultural stereotypes aren’t present.
(6) OCTOBER THE SEVENTH IS TOO LATE. Sorry I didn’t know about this earlier — “Wednesday, Oct. 7: BBC America Assembles Long-Lost ‘Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones’”. Runs in part tonight, the rest tomorrow night.
Wednesday, Oct. 7
Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones
BBC America, 8pm
This is the mostly missing eighth serial of the fourth season of Doctor Who, which was broadcast in six weekly parts from April to May 1967, starring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. Only two of the six episodes are held in the BBC film archives with snippets of footage and still images existing from the other four. Fortunately, off-air recordings of the soundtrack also still exist, making the animation of a complete serial possible once again, and that is what has been done here. The Faceless Ones sees the TARDIS arrive on Earth at a runway at Gatwick Airport in England, where the Doctor and his companions encounter sinister identity-stealing aliens known as the Chameleons. The first three episodes of the serial air tonight, and the three concluding episodes air tomorrow night.
TV Insider interviewed the director of the production: “‘Doctor Who’s Animated ‘The Faceless Ones’ Is a ‘Spine-Chilling’ ’60s Story”.
What was the most difficult challenge you encountered in this project?
AnnMarie Walsh: There are a number of challenges in creating an animated series of classic Doctor Who. For one, animation is a very different medium compared with live-action, and we play to its strengths to achieve the best way of telling the stories. Working with a low budget and a tight schedule will always require inventiveness, but we are animating to the original soundtracks from the 1960s. The fact that they are mono tracks—with the music, sound effects, and dialogue all in one single track—makes it very difficult to edit. It forces us to reorder our approach: Instead of recording the dialogue [from] the script, creating the music to the storyboards and animatics, and adding the sound effects at the end, we change the order of production and visualize the storyboards with the audio of the original recordings in mind as well as the original script.
Being unable to separate the music and sound effects from the dialogue means we need to be very creative in our storytelling. We need to have something fitting happen for every sound effect, even if it would be easier to have that action timed differently, or to have a line said earlier. We also don’t get any alternative or retakes in the audio, which we normally have.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
- 1995 — Twenty-five years ago, Pat Cadigan’s Fools won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for the Best Science Fiction Novel. It was first published on HarperCollins UK, and it would be her second Clarke Award as she won for Synners three years previously. Fools is currently available as a Gollancz SF Masterworks trade paper edition and as an ebook from the usual digital suspects for just three dollars. (CE)
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
- Born October 7, 1893 – Alice Dalgliesh. Taught 17 years at the Horace Mann School. Wrote three dozen children’s books. Editor of children’s books at Scribner’s 1934-1960; under her, books (including hers) won Newbery Honors, Caldecott Medals and Honors. Edited Heinlein’s “juveniles” from Red Planet through Have Spacesuit, Will Travel; his disagreements with her appear in Grumbles From the Grave and were added to her Wikipedia page. (Died 1979) [JH]
- Born October 7, 1942 – Lee Gold, 78. Introduced to Van Vogt because she had golden pipecleaners in her hair and someone thought Van should meet her. Published Along Fantasy Way, the Guest of Honor book for Tom Digby at ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon. Since 1975, Official Editor of Alarums & Excursions, an apa devoted to role-playing games; since 1988, also of Xenofilkia, a filk fanzine. Filk Hall of Fame. Evans-Freehafer Award (for service to the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society). Hour-and-a-half 2019 interview here. [JH]
- Born October 7, 1947 – John Brosnan. Sixteen novels, half a dozen shorter stories; four nonfiction books about the cinema, Eaton Award for Future Tense. Wrote most of the cinema entries in the 1979 Encyclopedia of SF. The current (2018) Nicholls-Clute-Langford entry ends, “he gave readers a considerable amount of unfocused pleasure.” (Died 2005) [JH]
- Born October 7, 1947 — Lightning Bear. Native American stuntman and stunt coordinator. He did stunt work on the classic Trek series as well as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Wrath of Khan, and The Search for Spock. He did not receive on-screen credit for any of these. Star Wars fans claim that he did stunt work on the three original Star Wars films but Lucas Films says that there is no records that he did. (Died 2011.) (CE)
- Born October 7, 1950 — Howard Chaykin, 70. Comic book artist and writer. His first major work was for DC Comics drawing “The Price of Pain” which was an adaptation of author Fritz Leiber’s characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in Sword of Sorcery #1. He would illustrate damn near everything else from Batman and The Legion of Super-Heroes for DC to Hulk and Iron-Man for Marvel (to name but four series) but I think his best genre work was his own American Flagg! series which I’ve enjoyed several times. It’s available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
- Born October 7, 1952 – Peter Peebles, 68. Fifty covers, a few interiors. Here is the Aug 91 SF Chronicle. Here is the Apr 95 Analog. Here is A Wizard in Midgard. Here is Taylor’s Ark. [JH]
- Born October 7, 1958 — Rosalyn Landor, 62. She played Guinevere in Arthur the King, and Helen Stoner in “The Speckled Band” of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes. She was the redheaded colleen Brenna Odell in the “Up the Long Ladder” episode of Next Generation which was banned in The United Kingdom for some years as it made a passing reference to Ireland being united in the early twenty first century. (CE)
- Born October 7, 1963 — Tammy Klein, 57. She’s getting a birthday write-up because of the most likely unauthorized Trek audioseries she’s involved in called Star Trek: Henglaar, M.D. in which she’sSubcommander Nonia but she also been in some definitely really pulpy works such as Lizard Man, Jurassic City, Awaken the Dead and Zoombies. (CE)
- Born October 7, 1977 — Meighan Desmond, 43. New Zealand resident who’s best remembered as Discord in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess and even Young Hercules, a vastly underrated series. Post-acting career, she was the special effects runner on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, special effects assist coordinator/runner on Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, assistant art director on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and construction office assistant on Mulan. (CE)
- Born October 7, 1979 — Aaron Ashmore, 41. He‘s known for being Jimmy Olsen on Smallville and Steve Jinks on Warehouse 13. He also is Johnny Jaqobis on Killjoys, a series I’ve yet to watch. He also had a recurring role as Dylan Masters in XIII: The Series which I think is SFF. (CE)
- Born October 7, 1979 – Shadreck Chikoti, 41. Writes in English and Chichewa in and out of our field. His SF novel Azotus the Kingdom won his second Peer Gynt Literary Prize. Director of Pan African Publishers, founder of the Story Club. See Geoff Ryman at Strange Horizons about and with him here. [JH]
- Born October 7, 1992 – Stephanie Diaz, 28. Extraction and two sequels. Also edits. “Any combination of chocolate and peanut butter…. Basically, it’s all books all the time in my world…. wish I could go back to a year ago when we were in London on our way to Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye.” I haven’t learned if she drinks my favorite whisky, Talisker. [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
- Off The Mark shows why it might be hard for a zombie to wear a mask – or did that possibility ever cross your mind?
(10) DIAMOND JUBILEE. In “Pippi and the Moomins” on Aeon, Richard W. Orange uses the 75th anniversary of the first books by Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson to discuss their achievements in children’s literature.
In February 1944, Russian bombs smashed the windows of Tove Jansson’s art studio in Helsinki. ‘I knocked slivers of glass out of the windows,’ the author wrote in her diary. She was so depressed, she had been unable to paint for a year, and despaired that war was ‘making us smaller. People don’t have the strength to be grand if a war goes on for a long time.’
Some 250 miles away across the Baltic, another woman was documenting the same bombardment from the safety of her flat in Stockholm. ‘About 200 Russian planes had carried out a bombing raid on Helsinki,’ wrote Astrid Lindgren in her war scrapbook. ‘It’s awful to contemplate the fate of Finland.’
Aside from a seven-year age difference, the two had much in common: both had cut their hair short in their late teens and early 20s, and worn trousers and neck ties – the style of radical women in the age of jazz. Both had a youthful fascination with philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche. Both were committed anti-Fascists….
(11) WATCHING YOUR SIX. In “6 Books with Stina Leicht” at Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer poses the questions.
2. What upcoming book are you really excited about?
Maria Dahvana-Headley’s Beowulf translation. No woman has ever had their translation of Beowulf published before. Translations are very much affected by the person that translates them. I understand this really affected the interpretation of the story. I’m so very looking forward to it.
(12) BEFORE THE GAME. More details about the Game of Thrones prequel in Deadline’s story about a new cast member: “‘House Of the Dragon’: Paddy Considine To Star As King Viserys Targaryen In HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ Prequel”.
Based on Martin’s Fire & Blood, the series, which is set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, tells the story of House Targaryen.
In the 10-episode first season, Considine will play King Viserys Targaryen, chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal. A warm, kind and decent man, Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather’s legacy. But good men do not necessarily make for great kings….
(13) ROLL THE BONES. Art & Object listens to the cash register ringing – and ringing! “T. Rex Skeleton Sells for Record-Breaking $31.8 Million at Christie’s”.
A 67-million-year-old dinosaur fossil known as “Stan” was the star of the show at Christie’s last night when it sold for $31,847,500 after a protracted bidding war between buyers on the phone in New York and London. Among the 46 lots in the 20th Century Evening Sale, including standout works by Cy Twombly, Picasso, and Mark Rothko, the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, the last lot of the evening, caused the most excitement when it sold for nearly four times its high estimate of $8 million to James Hyslop, head of Christie’s Science & Natural History Department. The sale beat the last record of $8.36 million set in 1997 for an equivalent T. Rex specimen.
(14) NOBEL FOR CRISPR. “2 scientists win Nobel chemistry prize for gene-editing tool” reports the AP.
The Nobel Prize in chemistry went to two researchers Wednesday for a gene-editing tool that has revolutionized science by providing a way to alter DNA, the code of life — technology already being used to try to cure a host of diseases and raise better crops and livestock.
Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer A. Doudna of the United States won for developing CRISPR-cas9, a very simple technique for cutting a gene at a specific spot, allowing scientists to operate on flaws that are the root cause of many diseases.
“There is enormous power in this genetic tool,” said Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry….
(15) NOTHING. NEXT QUESTION? Co-hosting this week’s Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron on Saturday, October10 will be Alan Lightman, discussing with philosophers Rebecca Goldstein and Edward Hall what separates science from the humanities. For example, what would it take to convince a scientist that a phenomenon was actually a miracle? Register here.
In this discussion with philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein, philosopher of science Edward Hall (Harvard), and physicist and novelist Alan Lightman (MIT), we will consider the question of the role of experiment in science and how that feature separates science from the humanities. We will also discuss the strong commitment of scientists to a completely lawful universe.
This latter issue could be framed as a question: What would it take to convince a scientist that some phenomenon was a miracle — that is, could not be explained, even in principle, to lie within the laws of nature?
For most scientists, the answer is NOTHING. Yet surveys repeatedly show that 75% of the American public believes in miracles. Why this marked discrepancy between the beliefs of scientists and nonscientists?
(16) TRUE GRIT. Andrew Porter took notes when a contestant stumbled over a Neil Gaiman item on tonight’s Jeopardy!
Category: The Librarian Invasions.
Answer: Lucien becomes chief librarian of the Dreaming in this Neil Gaiman comic Book series with a one-word title.
Wrong question: “What is Cryptonomicon?”
Correct question: “What is Sandman.”
(17) EXCHANGE RATE. A 1.5 oz Harry Potter Chocolate Wand – for $10.99!! The weight you gain by eating it will be magically offset by the lightening of your wallet.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Dann, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]