By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Thursday, September 9, 2021, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series opened its 29th season with a reading from Nebula Award-winning author Michael Bishop. The event was simulcast on YouTube and Facebook.
(Yes, the readings are usually on Tuesdays, but Tuesday was Rosh HaShanah, and the reader was, after all, a Bishop. Appropriately, his text was a religious-themed story.)
Michael Bishop is the author of some 35 books, including collections, collaborations and anthologies that he has edited, among them No Enemy But Time, Unicorn Mountain, Brittle Innings, A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (and its revision Eyes of Fire), and Transfigurations (an expansion of “Death and Designation Among the Asadi”), and short stories including “The Quickening” (which earned him his first Nebula Award), “The White Otters of Childhood,” “Dogs’ Lives,” “The Samurai and the Willows,” and “Life Regarded as a Jigsaw Puzzle of Highly Lustrous Cats.”
The evening began with Series Executive Curator Jim Freund, host of WBAI-FM’s The Hour of the Wolf, introducing and interviewing Bishop. The cover of Bishop’s current book, A Few Last Words for the Late Immortals, a collection of short pieces, including poetry, depicts a baseball player, led Freund to ask why is baseball (still officially our National Pastime) such a great venue for sf and fantasy? Bishop suggested several reasons. The stadiums have an enchanted, even a haunted quality; because the games have no time limit and so can go on for days, “even years”; and because it spotlights individuals as well as the teams that they are operating as part of.
Bishop read not from the title story, but the last story in the book, a 3,000-word science fantasy, “Yahweh’s Hour.” He indicated scenes set in Roman type (set in the main character’s present) and italics (scenes involving the audience and the Creator, who is not necessarily divine). Set in a we-hope-not future of the Patchwork States of America, a literal theocracy under Overman Dad (who is not above operating spas and casinos), the titular TVshow has 100% viewership. In the audience, Mercer, granted an amnesty by Dad for murdering a teenaged transsexual, is unimpressed, until he experiences a vision or miracle.
The story was originally published as “God’s Hour” in the June 1987 issue of Omni, and did not include Mercer or Overman Dad as characters. He began revising the story after the November 2020 Election and finished after the January 6th insurrection. This led organically to a side chat about politics. Georgia, where Bishop lives, is a red state becoming a blue state. Trump was “a wretched President,” “a parody of himself,” a man with no political philosophy except Trumpism; the “election-rigging” was that “people voted.” Bishop, who has medical issues, called politicization of getting shots “absurd.”
Freund asked about Mercer’s name. Bishop noted that there is a Mercer University in Macon, Georgia not far from him and the name evokes mercy. Freund wondered if it alluded to Mercer, a Sisyphus figure, and his religion Mercerism in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Bishop, the author of Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas, was surprised and confessed that he had forgotten that there was a character Mercer in the book.
Freund relayed audience questions. Did he attend a lot of author readings and does he miss them? Well, he didn’t go to conventions monthly like some of his author friends, and especially now due to his health, but yes, he misses contact with an audience. Some authors had said that the pandemic had given them time to work, but that was not so for Bishop. After he related that many of his stories are about characters in conflict with themselves, but that he personally avoids conflict. Does he work out conflicts in his stories? Yes, and he cited Unicorn Mountain.
He was asked about his experiences of revising his work. Sometimes he was surprised that a story did not “work out well,” and his reason for revising is that he wants a piece “to be the best version of itself.” Also, medical issues have slowed down his production of new material, but he is able to revise, creating something akin to new.
He was “happy at the time” about “The Quickening” (well, it won the Nebula, Freund interjected), and surprised by No Enemy But Time’s win in view of what it was up against. It is being revised next year for a 40th anniversary edition, with some things “knocked out to improve it” (he thanked Gregory Feeley for advice).
He was asked what work of his had needed the most revision. Unicorn Mountain; he cut 20,000 words and added material. He also revised several stories for A Few Last Words for the Late Immortals, as well as poetry. “The Scaffold,” he reported, a new poem, was a response to Dylan Thomas’s “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, of a Child in London,” which led to a digression about Thomas’s recording of Under Milk Wood by Caedmon Records in a studio later used by WBAI. Freund noted that none of Bishop’s books are in audiobook form, and that he might help arrange something.
There being time for it, Bishop ended with an sf poem that had been sold to Analog and reprinted in a Best of anthology, “Secrets of the Alien Reliquary.” An Earth military expedition explores an alien bawdy house displaying Earth “deviance” and just plain oddities (Ed Asner ??).
Freund concluded the evening with a request for donations (software and production do cost), thanking Barbara Krasnoff, who did the engineering, and announcing upcoming readers (back on Tuesdays):
October 5: Jason Erik Lundberg
November 2: Nicole Glover (event guest-curated by Amy Goldschlager)
(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. August 14 is Free Comic Book Day. Here are Marvel’s contributions to the event.
Readers can stop by their local comic shop for Free Comic Book Day 2021: Avengers/Hulk and Free Comic Book Day 2021: Spider-Man/Venom, featuring new stories that kick off the upcoming eras of fan-favorite heroes and lay the groundwork for major new storylines.
The new creative team behind Amazing Spider-Man is about to take the Spider-Man mythos beyond your wildest expectations! Get a first look at Ben Reilly as the new Spider-Man in a story by writer Zeb Wells and artist Patrick Gleason. Then, see what’s in store for Venom when Ram V., Al Ewing, and Bryan Hitch take over in a glimpse that will show you just how twisted their upcoming run will be!
(2) BLOGGER’S VERDICT ON VOX DAY. Blogger has elevated the threat level to Defcon 2. Yesterday this was the message users were getting when they tried to reach Vox Popoli: “This blog is under review due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations and is open to authors only.” Today Blogger says flat out —
In “The Eighth Voyage,” a short story by Stanislaw Lem, aliens from across the universe convene at the General Assembly of the United Planets. Lem’s hero, the space traveler Ijon Tichy, watches as an uninformed but overconfident creature steps forward and makes the case to admit Earth to the organization’s ranks. The planet — which he mispronounces as “Arrth” — is home to “elegant, amiable mammals” with “a deep faith in jergundery, though not devoid of ambifribbis,” the alien tells the delegates.
His sentimental appeal is well-received, until a second extraterrestrial stands up and begins to list humanity’s wrongdoings, which include meat-eating, war and genocide. Tichy listens as the aliens belittle us and label us misguided and corrupt, our planet a blip on their intergalactic radar.
This cosmic perspective — mischievous yet melancholy, and far beyond a human point of view — is a signature with Lem, an icon of science fiction best known to English-speaking readers as the author of the 1961 novel “Solaris.” Throughout a career spanning six decades that produced more translated works than any other Polish writer, he adopted the viewpoints of aliens, robots, a conscious supercomputer and a sentient planet, using these voices to reckon with philosophical quandaries….
(4) BRIEF REMINDER. Readercon 31, online only, takes place this weekend, August 13–15, 2021, with Guests of Honor: Jeffrey Ford & Ursula Vernon. Also “Memorial Guest of Honor” Vonda N. McIntyre. As they say:
Although Readercon is modeled on “science fiction conventions,” we have no art show, no costumes, no gaming, and almost no media. Instead, Readercon features a near-total focus on the written word.
Registration is $25, and “grants you access to the Discord server and recordings of all program items for six full months following the convention. After that time is up, most recordings will be made public, but some may be taken down.”
Tom Baker is set to reprise his role as the Fourth Doctor in Big Finish’s upcoming adaptations of lost Doctor Who episodes.
The two episodes – Doctor Who and the Ark and Daleks! Genesis of Terror – were written by screenwriter John Lucarotti and Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks, respectively and are set for release in March 2023.
Big Finish recently rediscovered the episodes’ original scripts and initial story outlines and will be adapting them into audio adventures as part of their series, Doctor Who – The Lost Stories.
… producer Simon Guerrier said in a statement.
“The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks are among the best-loved TV stories ever. We’ve uncovered first draft scripts by John Lucarotti and Terry Nation that are exciting, surprising and very different.”
Judges are volunteers and are drawn from the Australian speculative fiction community, from diverse professions and backgrounds, including academics, booksellers, librarians, published authors, publishing industry professionals, reviewers and enthusiasts.
The only qualification necessary is a demonstrated knowledge of and interest in their chosen category (good time management skills and an ability to work in a team in an online environment are also essential).
(7) TRAILER TIME. This clip explains why vampires shouldn’t learn about chain letters – from What We Do in the Shadows.
(8) LORNA TOOLIS (1952-2021). Lorna Toolis, retired collection head of the Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, died of cancer on August 11. Toolis, notes Robert J. Sawyer in his tribute was also a 2017 inductee into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
Earlier in life she was a member of ESFCAS, the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society. Toolis is survived by her husband, the Aurora Award-winning writer Michael Skeet, with whom she co-edited Tesseracts 4: Canadian Science Fiction published in 1992.
The Merril Collection has hosted so many prominent authors/editors/scholars in the world of Speculative Fiction. Have you ever been starstruck?
Lorna: I counted myself amazingly fortunate. Over the years, I had lunch with Margaret Atwood and dinner with Gene Wolfe. Neil Gaiman was our guest three times, as was Cory Doctorow. John Scalzi was a huge hit with the audience and returned to speak several times by request. When Lois Bujold was our guest, her kids were having trouble with their grammar, and I gave her my personal copy of The Transitive Vampire. Robert Jordan was a guest and he was an absolute sweetheart.
…My favorite regular program Bai’ did was “Of Unicorns and Universes,” which he co-produced and was often hosted by Neal Conan. Neal, while primarily a producer of some of our best Public Affairs programming, (at the same time Paul Fischer was our News Director,) was quite the sf fan. He worked with Samuel Delany on the 2-hour adaptation of “The Star Pit,” and some years later, when I was co-host on Thursday and Fridays of Hour of the Wolf with Margot Adler, he was an occasional co-host on Mondays. (I usually engineered.) I was quite surprised at how much of a Heinlein fan he was….
…Later at NPR, he held an astonishing variety of jobs. He was at various times the line producer and the executive producer of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Back in 1987, he ran NPR News for a year. He was a reporter.
… In 1991, while reporting from southern Iraq on the war to liberate Kuwait, Neal was taken captive by the Iraqi Republican Guard, along with New York Times reporter Chris Hedges. It took diplomatic efforts to get them released….
[SIEGEL]: Neal Conan’s most prominent role at NPR was hosting Talk Of The Nation. …He tried out for that job the week that began on Monday, September 10, 2001. Sept. 11 was Neal’s Day 2….
1991 – Thirty years ago at Chicon V at which Marta Randall was the Toastmaster, Edward Scissorhands wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works for the Con for this Award were Total Recall, Ghost, Back to the Future III and The Witches.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born August 12, 1894 — Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in eight volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips. They’re one hundred fifty dollars a volume. (Died 1962.)
Born August 12, 1929 — John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. (Why pay the Union salaries?) He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) And he did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.)
Born August 12, 1931 — William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted for the film. Wrote the original Stepford Wives script and King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon“ as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.)
Born August 12, 1947 — John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished as the longest-serving Doctor Who producer. He cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. (Died 2002.)
Born August 12, 1954 — Sam J. Jones, 67. Flash Gordon in the 1980 version of that story. Very, very campy. A few years later, he played the lead role in a TV adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit which I’ve not seen and am now very curious about as the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes don’t have good things to say about it. He also had the lead in The Highwayman (name of his character there) which is described as a mix of Mad Max and Knight Rider. It lasted nine episodes in the late Eighties. Anyone seen it?
Born August 12, 1960 — Brenda Cooper, 61. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. Due co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the WaterFall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.
Born August 12, 1966 — Brian Evenson, 55. I consider him a horror writer (go ahead, disagree) and his Song for the Unraveling of the World collection did win a Shirley Jackson Award though it also won a World Fantasy Award. He’s also won an International Horror Guild Award for his Wavering Knife collection. He even co-authored a novel with Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem.
Born August 12, 1992 — Cara Jocelyn Delevingne, 29. Her first genre role was as a mermaid in Pan. She then shows up in James Gunn’s Suicide Squad as June Moone / Enchantress, in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. She was in Carnival Row as Vignette Stonemoss. It was a fantasy noir series on Amazon Prime.
Call it fate or an unfortunate coincidence that Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax celebrates its 50th anniversary the same week the United Nations releases an urgent report on the dire consequences of human-induced climate change. The conflict between the industrious, polluting Once-ler and the feisty Lorax, who “speaks for the trees,” feels more prescient than ever.
“Once-ler!” he cried with a cruffulous croak. “Once-ler! You’re making such smogulous smoke! My poor Swomee-Swans…why, they can’t sing a note! No one can sing who has smog in his throat.
(14) DON’T SCRY FOR ME ARGENTINA. Romina Garber, in conversation with Dhonielle Clayton, will discuss her new bookCazadora on Thursday, August 19 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.
Werewolves. Witches. Romance. Resistance. Enter a world straight out of Argentine folklore…
Following the events of Lobizona, Manu and her friends cross the mystical border into Kerana–a cursed realm in Argentina–searching for allies and a hiding place. As they chase down leads about the Coven–a mythical resistance manada that might not even exist–the Cazadores chase down leads about Manu, setting up traps to capture and arrest her.
Just as it seems the Cazadores have Manu and her friends cornered, the Coven answers their call for help. As Manu catches her breath among these non-conforming Septimus, she discovers they need a revolution as much as she does.
An asteroid the size of the Empire State Building has a slight chance of hitting Earth.
Don’t worry. You’ll long be dead before that has any chance of happening. So will your children. Probably all of your grandchildren, too.
At a news conference on Wednesday, NASA scientists said there was a 1-in-1,750 chance that an asteroid named Bennu, which is a bit wider than the Empire State Building is tall, could collide with Earth between now and 2300.
That is actually slightly higher than an earlier estimate of 1 in 2,700 over a shorter period, between now and 2200….
Think the secrecy around the biggest Hollywood blockbusters is crazy? They don’t come close to what John Malkovich and Robert Rodriguez are doing. The pair has collaborated for a film that no one will see for 100 years. Literally.
This isn’t some joke. They’ve made a film, called 100 Years, which is being placed in a special time-locked safe that won’t open again until November 18, 2115. Why? Well, because it’s promotion for Louis XIII Cognac, an ultra-luxury liquor that is aged 100 years. Bottles currently on shelves were made in 1915 so they decided a piece of art that speaks to their commitment to quality was something worth doing….
For fans of classic British science fiction, there are a few names that always pop up. Doctor Who, naturally, stands head and shoulders above everything else. Other favorites like Sapphire & Steel, The Prisoner, and the shows of Gerry Anderson pop up as well. But for a certain age of fan, the cream of the crop is Blake’s 7. The show was the BBC’s direct attempt to capitalize on the success of Star Wars. Blake’s 7 ran for four seasons from 1978 to 1981 and has been pretty hard to find in North America lately. That is, until now. The entire series will debut on BritBox beginning August 13….
Governments and companies urgently need to share data on the mounting volume of satellites and debris orbiting Earth.
There’s an awful lot of stuff orbiting Earth, with more arriving all the time. More than 29,000 satellites, pieces of rockets and other bits of debris large enough to track from the ground are circling the planet. Smaller items number in the millions. The Californian company SpaceX alone has launched some 1,700 satellites over the past 2 years as part of its Starlink network, which provides broadband Internet, with thousands more planned. Other companies are also planning such megaconstellations, and more and more nations are launching or plan to launch satellites. This growing congestion is drastically increasing the risk of collisions in space….
(20) SHORT SUIT. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says NASA’s Artemis mission to the Moon could be delayed because the program to design a new spacesuit has spent $1 billion but delays have meant they will only have two flight-ready spacesuits prepared by fiscal year 2025. “NASA IG says 2024 moon landing won’t happen, blames space suit delays”.
Ever since the White House directed NASA to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 as part of its Artemis program, there have been all sorts of daunting challenges: The rocket the space agency would use has suffered setbacks and delays; the spacecraft that would land astronauts on the surface is not yet completed and was held up by the losing bidders; and Congress hasn’t come through with the funding NASA says is necessary.But another reason the 2024 goal may not be met is that the spacesuits needed by the astronauts to walk on the lunar surface won’t be ready in time and the total development program, which ultimately will produce just two flight-ready suits, could cost more than $1 billion…
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Loki” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say that Loki “has a Comic-Con’s worth of alternate Lokis” including Richard E Grant, who “can make you love anything he does, even if he’s dressed like Kermit The Frog and talks nonsense for 30 minutes straight.” Bonus: they send up Tom Hiddleston’s Chinese vitamin commercial!
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Richard Horton, Lloyd Penney, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]
(1) HWA YIELDS TO SAFETY CONCERNS. This year’s StokerCon will be virtual: “StokerCon™ 2021 Special Announcement”. The virtual event will keep the announced May 20 to 23 dates. Next-year’s in-person event will take place in Denver at the same hotel they intended to use in 2021.
The Horror Writers Association has made the difficult decision to shift StokerCon™ 2021 from an in-person event to a virtual platform during its originally scheduled May 20 to 23 dates. With the ongoing pandemic, the emergence of viral variants, and the broad range of travel obstacles around the world, we have deemed this to be the safest, most responsible way to hold the event.
As might be expected with an event of this size, switching to a virtual footing poses many challenges, but Con co-chairs, James Chambers and Brian Matthews; HWA President, John Palisano; Vice President, Meghan Arcuri; Administrator, Brad Hodson; and the officers and trustees of the HWA Board have made significant progress in executing this change. Our hope is to preserve the spirit of StokerCon™ and create an event that will resemble as closely as possible our usual programming—panels, presentations, interviews, author readings, ceremonies, and the Bram Stoker Awards® presentation. At this time our plans include the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, Librarians’ Day, Horror University, and the Final Frame Film Competition. And while we won’t be able to gather in the same place, all attendees of this virtual StokerCon™ will receive—or, outside the U.S., have the option to receive—a printed copy of the beautiful souvenir book created and edited by Josh Viola and HEX Publishing….
(2) BOSKONE’S INTERVIEW SERIES. Boskone 58, to be held February 12-14 has been running a series of interview posts.
…If you were planning a holiday or vacation and could visit any location, whether in the real world or fictional worlds, where would you go? Why?
I love portal fantasies. I always dreamed of the doors in other peoples’ writing and of walking through those doors into enchanted lands. Then I wrote my own. I now want to visit the house in Borderlanders and travel to strange places. I seldom want to visit anywhere I’ve written about, for I know all the downsides of all the places, but doors that lead to hidden seas or to rooms lined with liquid glass? That’s different.
…Hour of the Wolf premiered in early 1971, somewhere between January and early March. I was to engineer the majority of her programs. Adler came up with the title,taken from the 1967 Ingmar Bergman film of the same name starring Liv Ullman and Max von Sydow. Initially there was no consistent opening music theme until early 1972, when we saw the environmentally-aware science fiction movie Silent Running. The best thing in the film (IMO) was the fabulous soundtrack by Peter Schickele of P.D.Q. Bach fame. There is a grand scene in the movie in which we see small robots caring for and watering the last trees in existence; the camera then pans out to an exterior perspective showing us that this is one of many ships set up as environmental domes. The name of this music is “The Space Fleet,” and once we found a copy in a bin in a 69-cent store, it became the official theme music of the show….
…In 1973, Margot and I both passed the entrance qualifications for the Clarion West Science Fiction Writers Workshop — an intense six-week seminar that featured a different teacher each week that was a veritable Who’s Who of progressive writing in the era. I could not afford to go to Seattle for that long, much less the entrance fee, plane fare, and room and board. Furthermore, Margot told me if I could not go, I would take over Hour of the Wolf in her absence. And that’s what happened. When Margot came back, she was offered a 7-9 AM slot twice a week, which fit her schedule better, and it was agreed that I would stay over after Hour of the Wolf and engineer her show as well….
… Every single time we start talking about who the next Doctor should be, people invariably start suggesting names so absurd and unlikely that you have to wonder if they’ve recently returned from a parallel universe, where appearing in a popular British sci-fi series is the pinnacle of creative and financial achievement.
Tilda Swinton? Richard Ayoade? Idris Elba? If people seriously think these sort of names are realistic, they haven’t been paying attention to the way the show is made, or its demands. It’s like watching the judges on The Masked Singer confidently predicting that Brad Pitt has decided to dress up as a talking clock and sing ballads on ITV primetime – while technically possible, not a suggestion that anyone could really take seriously….
(5) PRO TIPS. Lou J. Berger drew on his 15 years of experience for this writing advice on Facebook.
… The second bit of advice is to write for yourself, first and foremost. If you are changing your manuscript because you know exactly how each of your critique partners will judge it, see the above advice about finding a new group. The value of a strong critique group will ALWAYS be better than writing in a vacuum. Unless there’s toxicity. Then get the hell out, immediately.
Writing for yourself means that you write something you want to read. And when you read it through other people’s eyes, you are catering to another person’s will. We’ve been through enough in our lives, bending to the will of others. Don’t let your prose get sullied by that same desperate need to conform. It is in the writing of your HEART that you will find release, and the passions that stir you, in the quiet hallways of your own mind, deserve the treatment that only you, and you alone, can give them. Write your HEART and let the others be damned. If there’s one thing in this godforsaken world that you can lay claim to, it is your innermost, private thoughts, and they shall always be yours, the true essence of what makes you unique….
(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
February 7, 1992 — The Ray Bradbury Theater aired “The Utterly Perfect Murder” episode. Based on a short story by Bradbury, it concerns the long anticipated revenge of a boy tormented in his childhood who now thinks he has plotted the utterly perfect murder. It’s directed by Stuart Margolian, and stars Richard Kiley, Robert Clothier and David Turri. You can watch it here.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born February 7, 1478 – Sir Thomas More. Recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church. Renowned among us for Utopia, which would be just fine if we read it carefully enough to realize that, as Lafferty had a fictional TM repeat in Past Master, it’s a satire. (Died 1535) [JH]
Born February 7, 1812 – Charles Dickens. Many of us know “A Christmas Carol”, with ghosts; he wrote fourscore more fantastic stories, among much else he is still famous for; some say he believed the end of Mr. Krook in Bleak House was possible, others call it fantasy. I can’t let CD’s greatness go without saying, but it’s mostly outside our field. (Died 1870) [JH]
Born February 7, 1883 – John Taine. A dozen novels, three shorter stories. Under another name he earned a Ph.D., taught math at Cal Tech, wrote Men of Mathematics which he wanted to entitle The Lives of Mathematicians, and several others, The Queen of the Sciences, The Handmaiden of the Sciences, The Development of Mathematics, Mathematics: Queen and Servant of Science, of substantial literary ability in this subject which is far easier to do than to write prose about. (Died 1960) [JH]
February 7, 1908 — Buster Crabbe. He played the lead roles in the Tarzan the Fearless, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do so although other actors played some of those roles. He would show up in the Seventies series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a retired fighter pilot named Brigadier Gordon. (Died 1983.) (CE)
Born February 7, 1913 – Henry Hasse. His superb “He Who Shrank” is in the superb Healy-McComas anthology Adventures in Time and Space. Since this is File 770, I’ll note HH is named co-author of Ray Bradbury’s “Pendulum”, Sep 41 Super Science Stories, which I understand is RB’s first publication in a prozine. A story “The Pendulum” appeared in the Fall 39 Futuria Fantasia, RB’s fanzine. The Kent State Univ. Collected Stories of RB vol. 1 lists both: do you know how they differ? I can’t get at these sources just now. But we digress. One novel; twoscore more shorter stories, two with RB, two with Emil Petaja, two with Albert de Pina. (Died 1977) [JH]
Born February 7, 1921 – John Baltadonis. Today is the hundredth birth-anniversary of this fannish giant (he was in fact 6’2″ [1.9 m] tall). See the note about him yesterday, No. 6 in the Pixel Scroll. Don’t neglect his fanart; we did during his life, he never had enough Best Fanartist nominations even to reach the Hugo ballot. [JH]
February 7, 1949 — Alan Grant, 72. He’s best known for writing Judge Dredd in 2000 AD as well as various Batman titles from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. If you can find it, there’s a great Batman / Judge Dredd crossover “Judgement on Gotham” that he worked on. His recent work has largely been for small independents including his own company. (CE)
February 7, 1950 — Karen Joy Fowler, 71. Michael Toman in a letter to our OGH asked we note her Birthday as he has a “A Good Word for one of his favorite writers” and so do I. Her first work was “Recalling Cinderella” in L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol I. Her later genre works are Sarah Canary, the Black Glass collection and the novel The Jane Austen Book Club, is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, and two short works of hers, “Always” and ““The Pelican Bar” won significant Awards. Her latest genre novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is being adored far and wide. (CE)
February 7, 1952 — Gareth Hunt. Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, the two-season revival of The Avengers that also starred Joanna Lumley as Purdey and Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Quite excellent series. He was also Arak in the Third Doctor story, “Planet of The Spiders”. (Died 2007.) (CE)
February 7, 1955 — Miguel Ferrer. You likely best remember him as OCP VP Bob Morton in RoboCop who came to a most grisly death. Other notable genre roles include playing FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield on Twin Peaks and USS Excelsior helm officer in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In a very scary role, he was Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning in Brave New World. Lastly I’d like to note that he did voice work in the DC Universe at the end of his life, voice Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) in Justice League: The New Frontier and Deathstroke (Slade Joseph Wilson) in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. (Died 2017.) (CE)
February 7, 1960 — James Spader, 61. Most recently he did the voice and motion-capture for Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. No, I did not enjoy that film, nor the Ultron character. Before that, he played Stewart Swinton in Wolf, a Jack Nicholson endeavor. Then of course he was Daniel Jackson in Stargate, a film I still enjoy though I think the series did get it better. He also plays Nick Vanzant in Supernova andJulian Rome in Alien Hunter. (CE)
Born February 7, 1990 – Jessica Khoury, age 30. Seven novels. “Read as much as you can, in as many genres as you can. Read insatiably. Read ingredients on your food. Read warning labels on heavy machinery. Read the newspaper, read magazines, read manga”. [JH]
Last week, reported The Hollywood Reporter, a near-mint copy of the Batman No. 1 comic, published in 1940, “sold as part of Heritage Auction’s comics and comic art events. … The final price was $2,220,000, which included the buyer’s premium fee.” Just in case you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay your monthly health insurance premium or children’s college tuition, that number, to repeat, was $2,220,000—a record for “the most expensive Batman comic ever sold.”
Does that mean that other comic books have sold for more? Well, according to Helen Stoilas in The Art Newspaper, “The rare 1940 issue, which marks the first appearance of the Joker and Catwoman, is the second most-expensive comic book ever sold. Even before the live sale opened on Thursday [Jan. 14], the start of Heritage’s four-day Comics and Comic Art event, online pre-bidding for the comic book had shot up to $1.9 million. Its sale of $2.22 million, to a U.S. bidder on the auction house’s online HA Live platform, knocked out the previous Batman record holder, a copy of 1939’s Detective Comics #27, which introduced the character to the world and sold for $1.5 million at Heritage this past November.”
(10) THROWBACK TEAM. “Justice Society: World War II” on YouTube is a trailer for a new WB cartoon about the original matchup of DC superheroes.
It’s a world of corsets, stays and chemises. Of weskits, bum rolls, breeches and hoop panniers. For actors, wearing period costume has long meant literally stepping into the past: lacing soft modern flesh into antique shapes and learning how to use the toilet without peeling off multiple layers.
“Bridgerton,” Shonda Rhimes’s racially diverse Netflix series set in 1813 England, has suddenly ignited new interest in Regency fashions. But a global community of hobbyists has been designing, making and wearing clothing from the 19th century and earlier for many years. Long a private obsession fueled by films like “The Leopard” and “Pride and Prejudice,” social media has widened the conversation, with fans of all ages and backgrounds worldwide now trading notes on how best to trim a sleeve or adjust a straw bonnet.
Pre-pandemic, they gathered in Los Angeles at Costume College, an annual conference, at Venice’s Carnival and the Fêtes Galantes at Versailles. Some lucky Europeans, like Filippa Trozelli, find themselves invited to wear their historical clothing to private parties at ancient local estates….
A USS Enterprise and Deep Space Nine themed cat tree: it’s what every Star Trek loving feline owner’s home has been missing. And now thanks to Etsy seller CE360designs, you can finally fill that void with a custom Star Trek Enterprise 1701D and DS9 Wood Cat Tower. You know they say good things come in small packages, but I imagine this box being on the larger side.
According to the sales copy, “The bottom is a wormhole but can be a Borg ship.”
A laser-light sensor that can identify bacteria in a wound may sound far-fetched, but it’s already becoming a reality, thanks in part to NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The technology is going to Mars for the first time on Perseverance, which will touch down on the Red Planet in February, but it’s already detecting trace contaminants in pharmaceutical manufacturing, wastewater treatment, and other important operations on Earth.
That’s not the only technology headed to Mars that’s already paying dividends on the ground. Here on Earth, these innovations are also improving circuit board manufacturing and even led to a special drill bit design for geologists….
Researchers at the University of Maryland have turned ordinary sheets of wood into transparent material that is nearly as clear as glass, but stronger and with better insulating properties. It could become an energy efficient building material in the future.
Wood is made of two basic ingredients: cellulose, which are tiny fibres, and lignin, which bonds those fibres together to give it strength.
Tear a paper towel in half and look closely along the edge. You will see the little cellulose fibres sticking up. Lignin is a glue-like material that bonds the fibres together, a little like the plastic resin in fibreglass or carbon fibre. The lignin also contains molecules called chromophores, which give the wood its brown colour and prevent light from passing through.
Early attempts to make transparent wood involved removing the lignin, but this involved hazardous chemicals, high temperatures and a lot of time, making the product expensive and somewhat brittle. The new technique is so cheap and easy it could literally be done in a backyard….
In each episode, we perform a reading and discussion of his works with a special guest. Avram Davidson (1923–1993) was a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and crime fiction. Davidson was born in Yonkers, NY and and served in the Navy during World War II. His life work includes 19 novels and over 200 short stories, all of which have been widely recognized for their wit and originality. Davidson’s works have won awards in three genres: an Edgar Award for mystery, a Hugo Award for science fiction, and three World Fantasy Awards.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Professor Layton” on Honest Game Trailers, Fandom Games says that while Professor Layton is “the world’s worst Sherlock Holmes cosplayer” the game’s many quizzes should appeal to fans of “anime, Agatha Christie, and people who enjoy the puzzle section in the newspaper.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, JJ, Will R., Darrah Chavey, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Michael J. Walsh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
…Back in 1991, 1997, and 2007, Science Fiction World, the largest SF magazine and publisher in China, convened for international conventions that not only received government support, but featured government leaders in attendance. Since 2016, the China Association for Science and Technology has sponsored the China SF Convention in Beijing, Chengdu, and Shenzhen. Not only was the opening ceremony attended by the Chinese vice president, but association leaders and local officials have attended every year since then. In 2017, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, co-hosted the 2017 China SF Con as well as the China International SF Conference, and it was declared that the latter event would, in perpetuity, become biennial and be held in Chengdu.
The aforementioned names and their linkages may be a complicated matter, but suffice it to say, the two major SF conventions in contemporary China are led by the China Association for Science and Technology and the Sichuan Province Association for Science and Technology. Another grassroots science fiction event—the Xingyun (Nebula) Awards for Global Chinese Science Fiction ceremony—gained government support and commercial viability a few years after being financially sponsored by its founders. Unlike the fan-fueled activities of their international counterparts, the major SF conventions within China are tied to the popularization of science and development of the SF industry and rarely do without speeches from officials, high-level summits, laser light shows, closed-door banquets, and the like. To solidify the connection between domestic and foreign conventions, the science and technology associations and local governments have regularly sent representatives to Worldcon in recent years, heading overseas to study how to hold international SF conventions, with panel discussions, marketplaces, exhibitions, and parties—and various other activities that have since become commonplace. Relatively speaking, China’s science fiction conventions have become fancier, as well as more commercial, whereas overseas science fiction conventions have generally become more grassroots.
Particularly noteworthy is the case of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, home of the longstanding Chinese SF institution, Science Fiction World magazine. Today, Chengdu is competing with Memphis in the United States to host the 2023 Worldcon. This is but one such initiative designed to cement Chengdu’s reputation as the Capital of Science Fiction. According to the 2019 Chinese Science Fiction Industry Report: “In order to develop the city’s ‘Silicon Valley’ for science fiction film and television industry, Chengdu plans to invest more than 2 billion yuan and add another 200,000 square meters to its current size of 150,000 square meters, for a total gross investment of 26 billion yuan.” Chengdu is not the only local government to invest in science fiction as a growth sector. In the city of Mianyang, also in Sichuan Province, the Pisces Dome Sci-Fi World is a project that spans about 2500 Chinese mu—or 412 acres—and calls for a total gross investment of 5 billion RMB to implement cutting-edge VR/AR (virtual reality and augmented reality) technology, establishing the city as a science and technology tourist destination. In Qianjiang, Hubei Province, plans are underway for the construction of the so-called Chinese Sci-Fi Author Village, where authors will be invited to assume the post of village head and write works on the theme of the Qianjiang crawfish (a local delicacy), and engage in other related commercial activities.
Thus, it should be clear that to the Chinese government, science fiction is not only literature, but a lucrative industry….
(2) CONTRADICTING THE RECEIVED WISDOM. From [link to pirate site removed.]
HALDERMAN: You do invent wonderful landscapes. The Earthsea trilogy creates such a vivid picture of the sea—have you done a lot of sailing?
LE GUIN: All that sailing is complete fakery. It’s amazing what you can fake. I’ve never sailed anything in my life except a nine-foot catboat, and that was in the Berkeley basin in about three feet of water. And we managed to sink it. The sail got wet and it went down while we sang “Nearer My God to Thee.” We had to wade to shore, and go back to the place we’d rented it and tell them. They couldn’t believe it. “You did what?” You know, it’s interesting, they always tell people to write about what they know about. But you don’t have to know about things, you just have to be able to imagine them really well.
(3) MORE ABOUT LUPOFF. The Wikipedia reminds us:
Starting in 1977, Lupoff co-hosted a program on Pacifica Radio station KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California that featured book reviews and interviews, primarily with science fiction (and mystery) authors. Originally an occasional one-hour program called Probabilities Unlimited, after several months it became a regular weekly, half-hour program called simply Probabilities, which aired until 1995. The program relaunched that year as Cover to Cover; Lupoff departed in 2001 to focus on his writing career. Among the notable authors interviewed by Lupoff and his co-host, Richard Wolinsky, were such luminaries as Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, Richard Adams, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Kurt Vonnegut.
(4) NYRSF READINGS. The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings for November 2 features James Morrow. The online event and starts at 7:00 Eastern. Jim Freund says —
Normally we convene (virtually or not) on the first Tuesday of each month, but this November that would mean Election Eve, and it was pointed out that may be a wee bit distracting. But you can’t ask for a better distraction than James Morrow, who will read from his latest published novella, “The Purloined Nation,” from the anthology “And the Last Trump Shall Sound.”
James Morrow is the award-winning author of over ten novels, as well as novellas and short-story collections. His critically acclaimed works include Blameless in Abaddon, New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and The Last Witchfinder called “provocative book-club bait” and “an inventive feat” by critic Janet Maslin. He has twice received the World Fantasy Award, for Only Begotten Daughter and Towing Jehovah, and has also won the Nebula Award and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with his wife and their two enigmatic dogs.
Arc Manor Books is generously offering a 40% discount to attendees through the end of November. the other contributors are Cat Rambo and Harry Turtledove, so you’ll want to take advantage.
…My 10th birthday, in January of 1991, was a special occasion for two very different reasons. There was a war going on in Iraq, and the adults at the party talked of little else. And my maternal grandmother — a Brazilian-Italian lady who had never been the warmest of women — gave me a collection of Jules Verne’s books as a present.
Those eleven hardcover books had once belonged to my mother. They were first published in Brazil in the early 1960s, with proper names translated into Portuguese (Conseil became Conselho and the Times of London became O Tempo) — but, other than that, they were completely unabridged.
These two facts moulded my life. I was curious about that strange, televised war — even moreso when my father explained there were rules to the battle. This led me, many years later, to a Master’s Degree in International Relations, focusing on conflict and news reception (namely, how do you know what you think you know about other countries?)
And then there was Captain Nemo.
Whenever someone talks about “The Great Canon of SFF”, I notice more of what’s not being said than what is. I’m Brazilian: my canon isn’t your canon. There’s the language barrier and the cultural perspective to consider. More’s the pity if you can’t read in Portuguese: you are missing out on fantastic stuff (but that’s a topic for another moment.)…
Robert Shearman has won the World Fantasy Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and multiple British Fantasy Awards for his fiction, some of which has been gathered in such collections as Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (2009), Remember Why You Fear Me (2012), They Do the Same Things Different There (2014), and earlier this year, a massive three-volume collection We All Hear Stories in the Dark. His writings for television, radio, and the stage have won him the Sophie Winter Memorial Trust Award, the Sunday Times Playwriting Award, the World Drama Trust Award, and the Guinness Award for Theatre Ingenuity. He also wrote the Hugo Award-nominated Doctor Who episode “Dalek” at the request of producer Russell T. Davies.
We discussed the reason we’re lucky we each survived to adulthood, how he almost talked his way out of selling his first short story, the way he starts every story thinking it’s funny even as things turn horrific, why some readers find his new collection offensive and others uplifting, how he’s following up that three-volume, 2,000-page, 650,000-word, 101-story collection, the way his brush with COVID-19 has affected his writing, and much more.
(8) WILLETT’S NEW BOOKS. In September, Saskatchewan author, Edward Willett released two books.
The Moonlit World from DAW is the third novel in his Worldshaper series.
In The Moonlit World, fresh from their adventures in Master of the World in a world inspired by Jules Verne, Shawna Keys and Karl Yatsar find themselves in a world that mirrors much darker tales. Beneath a full moon that hangs motionless in the sky, they’re forced to flee terrifying creatures that can only be vampires…only to run straight into a pack of werewolves….
His second release, Shapers of Worlds, is an anthology project that Willett took on himself with his own press and features stories from multiple award winners and international best sellers in the science fiction genre. Shapers of Worlds was successfully Kickstarted earlier this year, raising $15,700 from more than 330 backers and the book will be available through all major retailers. The ebook came out September 22, and the print edition is coming out November 14 Regina’s Shadowpaw Press.
Shapers of Worlds features new stories from Seanan McGuire, Tanya Huff, David Weber, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., D.J. Butler, Christopher Ruocchio, John C. Wright, Shelley Adina, and Willett himself, plus reprints from John Scalzi, David Brin, Joe Haldeman, Julie E. Czerneda, Fonda Lee, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Gareth L. Powell, Derek Künsken, and Thoraiya Dyer.
All of the featured authors were guests during the first year of Willett’s podcast, The Worldshapers, winner of the 2019 Aurora Award (Canada’s top award for science fiction and fantasy) for Best Fan Related Work.
Willett is himself an award-winning author of more than sixty books of fantasy, science fiction, and non-fiction for readers of all ages.
(9) PAINSTAKING. Elizabeth Bear is interviewed about her new book, Machine, a sequel to Ancestral Night, at Fantasy Hive.
Dr. Jens in Machine has a chronic pain condition. And that’s one of the things that mediates the way through which she interacts with the world around her. What was it like writing for a character with this condition?
I have an autoimmune condition myself. So I do have a certain amount of chronic pain. It’s not as debilitating as Jens’ chronic pain. It occurred to me while I was writing this book that I have, throughout my career, actually tended to write a lot of characters with some sort of chronic pain disability. All the way back to my first published novel, Hammered, the protagonist of which is a military veteran with some long-term damage from her combat experience. This is the first time though that I’ve really been conscious of the fact that I was writing something like that out of my own experience.
It’s odd how your brain compartmentalizes things.
This is very personal, but I think it’s because I had a really bad autoimmune flare starting in about the summer of 2015. That has really changed my ability to do a lot of things that I took for granted. We all process our trauma through our art. If you try not to do it, you’re just going to be writing very two-dimensional art. And so, it was in some ways cathartic. It was in some ways difficult and emotional. But also, I feel very strongly that there need to be narratives about marginalized people that do not center that marginalization. That there need to be narratives about queer people where the entire point of the narrative is not to problematize their queerness. And having grown up very rarely seeing somebody who I felt reflected me in the books that I was reading, I like to be able to widen the door to different kinds of protagonists.
I think the real strength of science fiction and fantasy right now, my generation of writers and the generation of writers that are right after us, is that we are very diverse in our backgrounds and outlooks. And that… that is making science fiction and fantasy a much wilder and more interesting place.
(10) CHAMPION OBIT. Marge Champion, a great dancer in the 1940s and 1950s who was also a model that Disney animators used as Snow White and a hippopotamus in Fantasia died October 21 reports SYFY Wire. She was 101 years old. The Hollywood Reporter adds:
…Marge even danced for them as the dwarf Dopey, she recalled. She also served as a Disney model for the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio (1940), for Hyacinth Hippo in Fantasia (1940) and for Mr. Stock in Dumbo (1941).
…In 1936, she performed before large crowds with the Los Angeles Civic Opera and a year later married Art Babbitt, the Disney animator who created Goofy (she was 17 and he was 29; they divorced in 1940). She then played Snow White in a touring vaudeville act with The Three Stooges.
(11) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1970 — Fifty years ago at Heicon ’70 which had John Brunner as Toastmaster, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin won the Hugo for Best Novel. Runner-ups were Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, Piers Anthony’s Macroscope, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron. She would also win the Nebula for this novel. In all, she would garner nine Hugos with her final one being for the superlative The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition for Best Art Book as illustrated by Charles Vess.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 23, 1919 – Roy Lavender. Engineer. First Fandom (active at least as early as the first Worldcon, 1939; few still alive; a First Fandom organization continues). Cincinnati Fantasy Group. Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. Fan Guest of Honor, Kubla Khatch 22. Memoir here. Len Moffatt’s appreciation here (PDF). “When the Apollo circled the Moon and the astronauts reached into B-3 locker for their cameras, they pulled them from the shock absorbing sheath I designed. On the test stand for the Saturn rockets, cameras look up into the flame to photograph the performance (or failure) of the engines. They survive in a protective box I designed.” (Died 2007) [JH]
Born October 23, 1935 — Bruce Mars, 85. He was on Trek three times, one uncredited, with his best remembered being in the most excellent Shore Leave as Finnegan. He also had one-offs in The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea, and Mission: Impossible. (CE)
Born October 23, 1938 — Christopher Lloyd, 82. He has starred as Commander Kruge in The Search for Spock, Emmett “Doc” Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and the Addams Family Values. (Huh. I didn’t spot him in those.) Let’s not forget that he was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Bigbooté, and he played Dr. Cletus Poffenberger in a recurring role on Tremors. (CE)
Born October 23, 1938 – Bob Pepper. Ten dozen covers. Here is Titus Groan. Here is a Fahrenheit 451. Here is a Demolished Man. Here is Lord Tyger. Here is The Continent Makers. Here is Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn. (Died 2007) [JH]
Born October 23, 1940 — Terry Gilliam, 80. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Tideland, The Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else. Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup. He’s also co-directed a number of scenes. Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one. My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits. (CE)
Born October 23, 1948 – Kent Bloom, 72. Chaired Denvention 3 the 66th Worldcon. Earlier, living in Washington, DC, chaired DatClave 1 (Jack Chalker’s con report here); after moving to Denver, Smofcon 16 (SMOF for “secret masters of fandom”, as Bruce Pelz said, a joke – nonjoke – joke; SMOFcon draws people who often do the work at SF conventions and want to do it better). Host (with wife Mary Morman) of First Friday Fandom. Fan Guest of Honor (with Mary), Westercon 71. [JH]
Born October 23, 1952 – Donna Andrews, 68. A detective-fiction novel about an Artificial Intelligence personality that became sapient (I don’t know why people keep misusing “sentient” which means having senses – plants and animals are sentient, but so far as we can now perceive aren’t sapient, a distinction which makes a difference), named Turing Hopper, won the Agatha Christie award for best mystery of the year (You’ve Got Murder, 2002); three more. Many other novels and shorter stories in that genre. See her Website. [JH]
Born October 23, 1953 — Ira Steven Behr, 67. Best remembered for his work on the Trek franchise, particularly Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, on which he served as showrunner and executive producer. As writer and or producer, he been in involved in Beyond Reality, Dark Angel, The Twilight Zone, The 4400, Alphas, and Outlander. (CE)
Born October 23, 1957 – Olga Slavnikova, 63. Won the Russian Booker Prize for her novel 2017 (tr. English 2010); also for us A Light Head (2010; Eng. Light-headed 2015). Five other novels. Director since 2001 of the Debut Prize; see this 2012 New Yorker interview. [JH]
Born October 23, 1959 — Sam Raimi, 61. Responsible for, and this is not a complete listing, the Darkman franchise , M.A.N.T.I.S., the Jack of All Trades series that Kage loved, the Cleopatra 2525 series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess series and the Spider-Man trilogy. (CE)
Born October 23, 1983 – Dan Salmieri, 37. Illustrator, sometimes for us. Here is his note about his book Bear and Wolf. Here is a sketch from the New York Times about the Twins Study brothers Mark & Scott Kelly. Here is one from Data Collector. Here is one from Brain Pickings. Here is a cover for What Do Dragons Like Best to Eat? (in Dutch). [JH]
Born October 23, 2007 — Lilly Aspell, 13. She’s a Scottish-born performer best known so far for portraying the young Diana in Wonder Woman. She was Newschild in Holmes & Watson, and Megan in the alien invasion flick Extinction. (CE)
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Close To Home says this is about Halloween but it reminds me of Dr. Moreau.
(14) CHECKING IN. Andrew Porter tears himself away from the TV to share a moment from tonight’s Jeopardy! He says, “Not SF/F, but memorable!”
Category: Movie Sum-Up
Answer: Death takes a chess holiday; your move, Max Von Sydow.
Wrong questions: “What is Checkmate?” “What is Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey?”
When they came up with the idea of adapting the classic sci-fi horror film Alien for the stage, a troupe of amateur actors from deepest Dorset intended it to be faithful to the terrifying original.
It did not quite work out as as planned. The sets were shaky, the monsters not very scary and the acting not up to Hollywood standards – only one of the cast went with an American accent, the rest stuck with English west country. Nobody was frightened.
Alien on Stage, put on by a group of bus drivers and their friends, would have sunk without a trace had it not been noticed by a couple of London-based artistic types who had the madcap idea of transferring it to the West End of London.
The weird and wonderful tale of how Alien on Stage came to be performed in the West End is being told in a documentary to be premiered on Saturday at FrightFest in London…
In this informative animation we learn how the iconic Charles Bridge was constructed in 1357. The historic bridge crosses the Vltava (Moldau) river in Prague, Czech Republic and is 516 metres (1,693 ft) long and nearly 10 metres (33 ft) wide. It was built as a bow bridge with 16 arches shielded by ice guards.
Life on Earth is most likely doomed…in a billion years or so. The Sun’s slowly increasing luminosity will trigger a runaway greenhouse effect like that seen on Venus. Later stages in stellar evolution will further sear the Earth into an airless husk (unless the red giant sun simply gobbles up the planet like a piece of candy). Oh woe is us!
The following five tales of dying worlds might be of some interest during this interesting time. Remember: when the prospect of yet another Zoom meeting provokes anxiety and loathing, we can always tell ourselves that it could be worse…
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “If A Ghost Possessed Someone in 2020” on YouTube, Ryan George explains that demonic possession just isn’t scary in tumultuous 2020.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Mlex, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Scott Edelman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day C.A. Collins.]
By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, September 8, 2020 (Star Trek Day), the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series opened its 30th Season virtually (and perhaps virtuously) with a reading by Michael Swanwick from his extraordinary collaboration with the late Gardner Dozois, The City Under the Stars. The event was hosted by Series producer and executive curator Jim Freund, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio program Hour of the Wolf on WBAI-FM, and was live on Facebook and posted to the Series’ page for later viewing. (Tech was handled by Barbara Krasnoff, and Amy Goldschlager was the virtual audience’s “Question Wrangler.”)
Michael Swanwick, a longtime reader at the Series, is the author of ten novels, including Vacuum Flowers, Stations of the Tide, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, Jack Faust, Bones of the Earth, The Dragons of Babel, Dancing With Bears, Chasing the Phoenix, and The Iron Dragon’s Mother; and roughly 150 stories. Notable among his non-fiction is Being Gardner Dozois, a book-length interview. He has been honored with the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, the World Fantasy Award, and the Hugo Award. (He has frequently noted that he has “the pleasant distinction of having lost more major awards than any other science fiction writer.”)
Gardner Dozois was, of course, the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for almost 20 years, winning the Hugo Award as the year’s Best Editor 15 times. He was also honored with the Locus Award, the Nebula Award and the Sidewise Award, inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and the Skylark Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction. He was the author or editor of more than a hundred books.
The evening opened with a discussion between Swanwick and Freund (who proudly displayed his very own Darger and Surplus pen). The book that became The City Under the Stars was long in the making, said Swanwick. Dozois began the story in 1972, but hit a snag. He handed a cardboard box with his unfinished manuscript to Swanwick and asked if he could turn it into a novella. Swanwick said he saw a way – “I lied” – but later did see a plotline. “The City of God” (now the first half of this novel) was published in Omni and Asimov’s. The novella was “bleak,” “dark,” and “a little more downbeat than the Book of Job, without the happy ending.”
Its ending seemed to preclude any sequels, but, over the decades, he and Dozois “talked over what might come next” and how a longer, complete story would end; Dozois had “an uplifting idea” for how to give it “a surprisingly happy ending.” They planned to write two more novellas, “The City of Angels” and “The City of Men,” however, midway through the second novella, Gardner Dozois died.
Subsequently, Swanwick returned to the project – now a memorial to Dozois – because “I wanted the world to see this genuinely happy ending.” Aiming to “keep Gardner’s vision,” he revised and combined both novellas, and changed the direction of the work in progress. As he wrote on Tor.com, Swanwick “made of them a novel I think Gardner would have been pleased with. The ending is exactly what Gardner envisioned all those decades ago. A happy one. For everyone. When I wrote the last words of it, I cried.”
Swanwick’s reading selection was from the very beginning of Chapter 1, opening in Orange, NY. The protagonist, Hanson, is part of a crew digging in a pit for and shoveling coal to feed the machines. From there, though, he can see the City of God, “perfect and inviolate.” It’s an “astonishingly depressing story.” After that “bleak” passage, “things get even worse and worse.” He later enters the City of God, but that’s not yet “the happy ending” by any means.
Hanson, Swanwick surmised, was based on Dozois himself, “a blue-collar kid who grew up in the factory town of Salem, Massachusetts. … His sympathy was with the downtrodden.” Despite his image of being “large and jolly,” Dozois was “shy and private.” He knew that by becoming editor of Asimov’s, he was effectively ending his writing career, and his output did decrease.
Answering Freund about his own path, Swanwick said that he decided to become a writer after reading The Lord of the Rings; he wanted to make an impact like that. Another influence or impetus was his father’s early onset Alzheimer’s. This segued into a Q&A, with questions from Carol Gyzander, Ian Randal Strock and Gregory Frost, among others.
Swanwick reminisced about a collaboration of his with Dozois and Jack Dann, “An Afternoon at Schraft’s,” which was eventually published in a themed anthology with one title. His personal favorite Dozois story is “A Special Kind of Morning,” a war story. In his collaborations with Dozois, “Gardner was always the alpha male,” with say on the final draft. He reminisced about hosting the Milford-style workshop “Philford.” He met Dozois shortly after he (Swanwick) came to Philadelphia, through a friend of a friend. Eventually, Dozois shrugged and offered to make suggestions on “your sucky stories.” Swanwick is currently working on short stories for Tor.com. Final words: “Don’t let your babies grow up to be writers.” (It’s a funny business, he observed. On the same day, he received checks for $9 and $1,400.)
The next reading, announced Freund, is Tuesday, October 6th, with C.L. Polk and will be guest-hosted by Amy Goldschlager. As a postscript, he noted that the software being used was “not free” and suggested that donations be made via PayPal (details are on the Series’ Facebook page). Finally, he noted again that this was the first reading of the Series’ 30th Season, also Series founder Gordon Van Gelder’s birthday – and Star Trek Day.
There seem to be a lot of cooks hovering over the broth:
Benioff and Weiss executive produce under their Bighead Littlehead banner along with the company’s newly installed president, Bernadette Caulfield. [Rian] Johnson, Ram Bergman, and Nena Rodrigue executive produce via T Street Productions. [Brad] Pitt executive produces with along with Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner for Plan B Entertainment. [Rosamund] Pike and Robie Uniacke executive produce for Primitive Streak. Lin Qi, chairman of Yoozoo Group and The Three-Body Universe, and Zhao Jilong, vice president of The Three-Body Universe, also executive produce.
…Author Liu Cixin and accomplished sci-fi writer Ken Liu, who translated the English versions of the first and third books, serve as consulting producers.
The article quotes Liu Cixin:
“I have the greatest respect for and faith in the creative team adapting ‘The Three-Body Problem’ for television audiences,” said Cixin. “I set out to tell a story that transcends time and the confines of nations, cultures and races; one that compels us to consider the fate of humankind as a whole. It is a great honor as an author to see this unique sci-fi concept travel and gain fandom across the globe and I am excited for new and existing fans all over the world to discover the story on Netflix.”
…Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the US earlier this year, campaigns like Biden’s have been forced to entirely rethink how they organize voters. Instead of in-person rallies, Biden’s team has opted for live-streamed events and fundraisers along with socially distanced productions and interviews. The entire Democratic National Convention was held virtually earlier this month, with most guests streaming in over video software like Zoom to deliver speeches.
The Biden-Harris campaign released four sign designs for players to download, featuring the official Biden-Harris logo, Team Joe logo, the “Joe” Pride logo, and an image of aviator sunglasses shaded in red, white, and blue. Players will be able to access the designs in-game by scanning the design QR codes through the Nintendo Switch Online app.
…Millions of people have picked upAnimal Crossing: New Horizons since its initial release in March, and the Biden campaign is hoping to engage that large base with their new merch. “Animal Crossing is a dynamic, diverse, and powerful platform that brings communities together from across the world. It is an exciting new opportunity for our campaign to engage and connect Biden-Harris supporters as they build and decorate their islands,” Christian Tom, director of digital partnerships for the Biden campaign, said in a statement to The Verge. “As we enter the final campaign stretch towards November, this is one way we are finding new creative and innovative ways to meet voters where they are and bring our supporters together.”
…The first panel I watched was “Fantasy for YA vs. Adults”, featuring Alma Alexander, Farah Mendlesohn, Sherwood Smith and Kathryn Sullivan. I picked this panel over the horror panel going on at the same time, because I knew and liked the panelists. There was some concern in the chat that the panelists were all white. And indeed, more diversity would have been nice, especially considering what a diverse field fantasy in general and YA in particular is.
Talking of the chat, unlike other recent virtual conventions, NASFiC opted not to use the Zoom chat, but have the Discord chat side by side with the panel. From the POV of an audience member, this was a lot better than having to switch between Discord and Zoom in different tabs/windows. Though I’m not sure how it was from the POV of a panelist, since panelists and moderators can more easily see questions, when they are asked in the Zoom chat…
(5) MASTERING DUALITY. Sarah Gailey’s Personal Canons series continues with “Abhorsen”.
…When I first read the Abhorsen books, I was very young, and I was just starting to grapple with questions of identity, duality, and choice. Bound up in those questions was a larger, overarching question of worth. I felt certain that if I didn’t answer those questions about myself correctly, I’d lose some degree of goodness. Bit by bit, parts of me would tarnish; I’d become Bad, and there would be no place in the world for me. That feeling was too much. I couldn’t face it.
But in Garth Nix’s books, I saw that perhaps the answers could be more complicated than I realized. In Sabriel, I saw that feeling afraid and unprepared didn’t have to mean surrender, so long as I could be resourceful and stubborn. In Lirael, I saw that it’s possible to survive the crushing feeling that life is unsurvivable.
This reading marks the beginning of our 30th Season! Sadly, we cannot all join together for a fete, but over the course of time, we’ll figure something out. We wish to experiment with simulcasting the reading on our traditional home here on Facebook, but also try simulcasting it on YouTube. We’ll be testing this through the week so be sure to check back here to find out where to log in.
On Tor.com, Michael Swanwick wrote: “Almost a quarter century ago, Gardner Dozois and I published “The City of God,” now the first half of this novel. It ended with a slam, seemingly precluding any sequels. But over the decades Gardner and I talked over what might come next. We planned to write two more novellas, “The City of Angels” and “The City of Men,” which would tell one long, complete story. One with a happy ending.
Yes, Gardner could be a bleak writer. Yes, the novella was dark even for him. But he had an uplifting idea for how the book would end. We discussed it often. We were midway through the second novella and aiming at that happy ending when, without warning, Gardner died.
I knew I would never write that third novella without his input, his genius. Nevertheless I wanted the world to see this genuinely happy ending. So I changed the direction of the work in progress, combined both novellas, divided them into chapters, and made of them a novel I think Gardner would have been pleased with.
The ending is exactly what Gardner envisioned all those decades ago. A happy one. For everyone.
When I wrote the last words of it, I cried.”
(7) NOT TOO LATE TO TUNE IN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]“Arthur Charles Clarke discusses science fiction” at the Studs Terkel Radio Archive is a 1959 interview Studs Terkel conducted with Clarke where Clarke discusses his novels Childhood’s End and Earthlight, explains why he thought sf was not escapist, and said that “I’m a moral vegetarian, although I hate vegetables.”
…The series trailer (watch it above) sets up the premise of Camp Cretaceous: A group of six teenagers are trapped at a new adventure camp on the opposite side of Isla Nublar. When the events of the film unfold and dinosaurs are unleashed across the island, each kid realizes their very survival rests on the shoulders of themselves and their fellow campers. Unable to reach the outside world, the six teens will go from strangers to friends to family as they band together to survive the dinosaurs and uncover hidden secrets so deep they threaten the world itself.
Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous premieres September 18 on Netflix.
The new interactive site, live now, invites users to experience a behind the gates look at Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. At CampCretaceous.com, users can tour the campgrounds, get up close with dinosaurs, check out tree top cabins and a zipline, among other adventures.
(10) GOSPEL OR BLASPHEMY? Chris Mooney, in “You Don’t Have To Be A Genre Writer To Explore Genre” on CrimeReads, says his desire to put sf elements in a suspense novel led him to explore other works that combine sf and suspense, including novels by Colson Whitehead, Margaret Atwood, and Sir Kazuo Ichiguro.
…Sometimes when you mix things together, the results are amazing, even spectacular. As I was writing Blood World, I realized that almost of my all-time favorite books—the ones that had the greatest impact on me—were from authors who successfully incorporated elements from more than one genre. And now, it’s mid-August, the height of vacation season, and if, like me, you find yourself stuck in your backyard on a “staycation,” or lucky enough to live near a beach, you can do no better than these definitive, intelligent, page-turning, genre-bending classics.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
September 1, 1950 — Dimension X’s “The Roads Must Roll.” Based on the Robert Heinlein story that first was published in Astounding Science Fiction in the June 1940 issue, it would first be broadcast on this date on NBC in 1950. It would win the Retro Hugo for Best Novella at MidAmericon II, the same year that OGH won another Hugo for Best Fan Writer. Jason Bolander, Norman Rose and Karl Weber were the cast. You can listen to it here. (CE)
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born September 1, 1875 — Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bradbury declared him “the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” Now I’d not necessarily disagree or agree with that statement but I would note that he has largely fallen out of public notice once again. So what’s your favorite works by him? The Barsoom stories are mine. (Died 1950.) (CE)
Born September 1, 1928 – Shelby Vick. Edited Planetary Stories 2005-2017. Edited a new (i.e. 2013, centuries after the original) volume of Sindbad stories (with E. Erdelac & E. Roberts; unable to resist the spelling “Sinbad”), writing one. A score of short stories around then. Leading fan since the 1940s. Introduced Lee Hoffman (to some of us, after this incident, “Hoffwoman”), to Bob Tucker. Started WAW with the Crew in ’52 bringing W.A. Willis to Chicon II the 10th Worldcon. Organized, if that word may be used, Corflu 16 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable); brought as a guest to Corflu 29. Rebel Award. (Died 2018) [JH]
Born September 1, 1942 — C. J. Cherryh, 78. I certainly think the Hugo Award-winning Downbelow Station and Cyteen are amazing works but I think my favorite works by her are the Merchanter novels such as Rimrunners. Anyone familiar with “Cassandra“, the short story she won a Hugo for at Seacon ‘79? What’s it part of? (CE)
Born September 1, 1943 – Filthy Pierre, 77. So unassumingly and widely helpful for so long he was at length given the Big Heart (our highest service award) and more locally made a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; its service award). With Marilyn Wisowaty (as she then was; also F.N.) compiled The Blackdex and Bluedex indexing SF prozines. FP being a filker is often at hand during an SF con and, when waiting is, inspires song, accompanying us on the current version of the Filth-O-Phone. Made the well-named Microfilk, an early filk index. Filk Hall of Fame. Invented the Voodoo Message Board. Fan Guest of Honor at Albacon 2010, Baltcon 52. Under a transparent pseudonym has conducted the SF Conventional Calendar for Asimov’s since 1977. [JH]
Born September 1, 1951 — Donald G. Keller, 69. Editor and critic. Co-edited Phantasmicom with Jeff Smith (1969-1974). A contributor to The New York Review of Science Fiction in the early Nineties which is where his “The Manner of Fantasy” essay appeared. He also edited The Horns of Elfland anthology with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. Inactive genre wise for a decade now other than being a member of the editorial board of Slayage, the online Encyclopedia of Buffy Studies. (CE)
Born September 1, 1952 – Brad Linaweaver. Productive pro writer found lovable by many because of or despite proclaimed libertarian opinions. A dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors. Artbook anthology Worlds of Tomorrowwith Forrest J Ackerman. Interviewed William Tenn for Riverside Quarterly. Two Prometheus Awards. Phoenix. Heinlein’s brass cannon bequeathed to him. (Died 2019)
Born September 1, 1954 – Larisa Mikhaylova, Ph.D., 66. Editor, critic; translator including Cadigan and Le Guin. Editor-in-chief, Supernova. Organizer of conferences on Ivan Yefremov, co-ordinator of preparing his Complete Works. Biography of HE in J. Francaville ed., Harlan Ellison. “Shore Leave Russia” on Star Trek fandom in Russia, Eaton Journal of Archival Research in SF. Academic Secretary, Russian Soc. Amer. Cultural Studies. [JH]
Born September 1, 1961 – Jacinta Escudos, 59. Mario Monteforte Toledo Central American Prize for Fiction. Collection, The Devil Knows My Name (in Spanish, i.e. El diablo sabe mi nombre). Anthologized in And We Sold the Rain, Lovers and Comrades, You Can’t Drown the Fire. Widely known outside our field. Blog here (in Spanish). [JH]
Born September 1, 1964 — Martha Wells, 56. She’s has won a Nebula Award, a Locus Award, and two Hugo Awards, one for the “All Systems Red” novella at WorldCon ‘76, and the other for her “Artificial Condition“ novella at Dublin 2019. Impressive. And she was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017 where she delivered a speech called “Unbury the Future”. Need I note the Muderbot Diaries are a truly amazing reading? (CE)
Born September 1, 1967 — Steve Pemberton, 53. He’s on the Birthday List for being Strackman Lux in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor stories of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” but he has other genre credits including being Drumknott in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Professor Mule in the Gormenghast series and Harmony in the Good Omens series as well. (CE)
Born September 1, 1974 — Burn Gorman, 46. Best known for his roles as Owen Harper in Torchwood , Karl Tanner in the Game of Thrones, Philip Stryker in The Dark Knight Rises and also as Hermann Gottlieb in Pacific Rim and the sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising. Like so many of his fellow Torchwood performers, he’s been active at Big Finish where he’s been in nine Torchwood stories to date. (CE)
Born September 1, 1978 — Yoav Blum, 42. Software developer and author. First novel translated (from Hebrew), The Coincidence Makers. Ranks Guards! Guards! about the same as Winnie-the-Pooh. [JH]
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Ziggy listens to an outburst about an unfair evolutionary advantage.
Off the Mark comes up with one of those times when you shouldn’t count on Superman to save your life.
….I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut in recent weeks, but one book that I’ve been enjoying is The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars by Jo Marchant. It’s out today, and Marchant takes a slightly different tack on the history of astronomy: she looks at not how humanity discovered the stars and planets, but how it impacted our development as a civilization. It’s an excellent example of multidisciplinary history, looking at archeology, science, mathematics, and of course, astronomy. I highly recommend it.
If you’re looking for other books coming out this month, here are 22 science fiction and fantasy ones hitting stores that you should check out.
(15) THE STICKS HAVE BEEN HEARD FROM. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, who has been without the internet most of the time during the pandemic, broke out of isolation to update “Concatenation Science Communication News”.
Prior to CoVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2, neither abode being connected to the internet was not a problem (not even required) as regular internet access was available at college, volunteer work offices as well as learned society Fellows rooms’ and public libraries’ cybercafes (plus even hotels when travelling). However, with SARS-CoV-2, access to these has ceased. This means no e-mail communication since 20th March 2020 and this will not resume until we get a vaccine and restrictions are lifted. So if you have e-mailed, now you know why you have not had a response.
All other (non-e-mail) communications are working fine…
More news at the link.
He also tweeted assurance that there will be an autumnal edition of SF2 Concatenation as contributors have been snail-mailing contributions in on memory sticks.
… The material that this movie is based upon is Max McLean’s one man stage play that chronicles the Narnia author’s journey from atheism to Christianity… Although a filmed from the stage version of this production is already available on DVD, the new movie version will be entirely different with a full cast shooting at historic locations from C.S. Lewis’s life.
“The difference about this play is it’s going to be on location all over Oxford. We have full access to Maudlin College, The Kilns, the church, [and] various other places that are mentioned in the play. Instead of it being a one person show, it’s going to be a multi-actor show. I’ll play the older Lewis, we’ll have a boy Lewis, a young Lewis in his 20’s, cast his mother, his father, Tolkien, Barfield, Kirk, among others, and that is going to begin shortly.”
In March 2020 the entire world of Fellowship for Performing Arts came to a complete standstill. The New York based theatrical organization had been selling 2,000 tickets a week for their four productions, but that quickly dropped to 0 tickets a week and there is no expectation that live theater will resume until 2021. More than 30 FPA shows have been canceled because it is far too dangerous to hold any public gatherings in the United States.
“Since our plays have all shut down, we’ve moved up our feature film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s conversion story. That was designed to be a 2021/2022 project, well we’ve moved it up to September and October of this year. I’ll be leaving tomorrow for the UK to begin shooting in mid-September (I have to quarantine for two weeks before we begin shooting).”-Max McLean
Norman Stone is the producer of this movie. This award-winning British director also directed Shadowlands (1985), C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia (2005), and The Narnia Code (2009).
(17) WILL CROWDFUNDING LET THEM MAKE THEIR TEASER TRAILER? The Kickstarter for “BAÏDIR – the animated series”, a space-opera animated series, looks to be far from funding, having raised only $29,266 of its $35,968 goal and the appeal ending September 6.
This is an epic, modern, ecological, and family fable…
It tells the initiatory path of a hero willing to do anything to locate his sister, and thus restore the family’s lost balance. It is also a story that echoes a much broader collective quest. At stake: restoring our planet’s lost environmental equilibrium.
Baïdir is a series designed to span three parts, each composed of 8 episodes of 26 minutes. The genre varies from adventure to science fiction with a good dash of fantasy.
Born from the imagination of Slimane Aniss, then enriched by the graphic universe spun by Charles Lefebvre and Thierry Rivière, Baïdir got its first teaser in 2009. Several years later, in 2012, the concept for the series was purchased by a first production studio. This resulted in a second teaser being hatched. Then several years after that, Andarta Pictures managed to acquire the rights to the work. At long last, work could begin on building the narration and the universe, thus allowing it to take shape for the television screen.
Baïdir is a project that has garnered quite a lot of interest during its various development phases. There is a massive amount of fan art on social networks. This crowdfunding campaign will allow us to breathe life into this whole universe and to tell the story of Baïdir and his friends at last.
Join Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, and a panel of experts for a livestream debate and question-and-answer session to discuss how life may have formed on Earth and explore what alien life might look like elsewhere in the universe.
What criteria do we use to classify life as we know it? Should the criteria be revised as we look for life on other worlds? The debate will bring together scientists from different fields–Nathalie A. Cabrol of the SETI Institute, Vera Kolb of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute, Carol Cleland of the University of Colorado, and Max Tegmark of MIT–to share their creative ideas for what forms life might take in an extraterrestrial environment and what these predictions can teach us about life on our own planet.
(19) HO, HO PHO. Archie McPhee has “Ketchup, Shiitake And Pho Candy Canes” ready for the holiday season – whatever holiday that may be. (“National Flash on Your Carpet Day”?) Wait – they seem to think it’s Christmas!
This year’s Archie McPhee candy canes are here! We’ve got three crazy flavors to make your Christmas more delicious than ever. Ketchup Candy Canes are fresh-from-the-bottle candy that tastes just like America’s favorite condiment. Shiitake Mushroom Candy Canes have a mushroom flavor that will make Christmas morning even more fungus than usual. And, finally, Pho Candy Canes are un-pho-gettable!
[Thanks to N., John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Contrarius, Michael Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day O. Westin.]
Award-winning author Dr. Charles E. Gannon is a Distinguished Professor of English and a Fulbright Senior Specialist. A recipient of five Fulbright Fellowships and Travel Grants and is a Nebula finalist, his book Rumors of War and Infernal Machines won a 2006 American Library Association Choice Award. His latest sci-fi novel, Marque of Caine, is the fifth book in his Caine Riordan series. It has been two years since Caine was relieved of his command for following both his orders and his conscience. Now he’s finally received the message he’s been waiting for: a summons to visit the ancient and enigmatic Dornaani; the same Dornaani that still have his mortally wounded love, Elena Corcoran. As clues and new threats push Caine’s quest beyond the edge of known space, he discovers that the Dornaani empire is in decline, meaning his beloved Elena is now only half the mission…
Signed bookplates are available for books purchased through the shop. Indicate the request in the comment field at checkout. All bookplate orders are due July 13, and will be are arriving separately from the books free of charge.
By Mark L. Blackman: The Beatles entered my consciousness not
through the bathroom window but with my brother telling me about a new singing
group with “haircuts like Moe” of the Three Stooges. (Decades later, he watched
Sir Paul perform in Tel Aviv.) Soon after I saw their landmark first appearance
on Ed Sullivan. By then Beatlemania had
erupted – the moptops were the Fab Four – everyone had to get them into their
lives. We followed their long and winding road from sweet love songs to India
and Sergeant Pepper and The End.
friends visited from England, they made a pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields – a
place to go – then across the street to the Dakota.
time of year is a sad one for Beatles fans. Last month saw the anniversary of
George’s death, next week will be that of John’s murder. A celebration of their
music, fame and legacy, what they meant, something to say that it’s O.K. and
make us feel good in a special way, is most welcome. We saw a reminder of their
status as The ’60s Icons last summer as fans gathered on the 50th
anniversary of Abbey Road on, where
else?, London’s Abbey Road.
on the evening of Tuesday, December 3rd – Giving Tuesday
– at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in Brooklyn, the New York Review of
Science Fiction Reading Series hosted a launch party (we’re going to a party
party) for Across the Universe, an anthology
of 25 freaky and twisted (and shouted) speculative fiction
stories about the Beatles and alternative variations of the still-Fab Four.
Edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn, the ticket to ride features
what-ifs by Spider Robinson, Jody Lynn Nye, David Gerrold, Cat Rambo, Lawrence
Watt-Evans, Allen Steele, Pat Cadigan, Gregory Frost, Gregory Benford, Matthew
Amati, Ken Schneyer, Bev Vincent, Patrick Barb, Gail Z. Martin, Barbara Clough,
Eric Avedissian, Alan Goldsher, R. Jean Mathieu, Beth Patterson, and Christian
Smith, coming together, plus the, um, Fab Five readers of the evening: Charles Barouch, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Carol Gyzander,
Gordon Linzner, and Sally Wiener Grotta.
As we gathered, Beatles tunes played to get us into
the spirit of things. The event opened, as usual, with producer and executive
curator Jim Freund, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio program Hour of the Wolf (with WBAI-FM back on
the air, he’s no longer sitting in a nowhere land) welcoming the audience to
the last reading of 2019. He began by noting that tonight’s readings would be on
Facebook Live, rather than streamed on Livestream, plugging that the Café’s
kitchen would be open through most of the evening, and announcing that next
month’s readers (January
7th) would be Hildy Silverman and A.C. Wise (though without
glitter). He reminded those who can to donate to the Series ($7
is the suggested donation, but no one is ever turned away due to lack of
funds), and reported that the home audience may donate on its Patreon page, Jim
Bringing up guest host and the book’s co-editor Randee
Dawn, he reported that Across the Universe is actually the second such
anthology, the first being All Together
Now, edited by James Ryan. Dawn is a Brooklyn-based author and
entertainment journalist who focuses on speculative fiction, but is co-author
of The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. After
recounting how she and Ventrella pretty much simultaneously came up with the
idea, presented it to Ian Randal Strock of Fantastic Books and launched a
Kickstarter campaign to realize it, she introduced the evening’s first reader.
Sally Wiener Grotta is the author of The Winter Boy and Jo Joe, a journalist and the co-curator of the Galactic
Philadelphia author reading series. She read from her story “The Truth Within,”
in which George goes to Key Biscayne and tries to get Nixon interested in
(“hooked on”) transcendental meditation: “Imagine a chilled Nixon at peace with
himself. … And poof! No more carpet bombing and napalm.”
Carol Gyzander, writer of various crossgenre ’punk
stories and the second reader, read from “Deal with the Devil”, which is one
answer to “how did the Beatles get so good?” Set in Liverpool after their
return from playing clubs in Hamburg (Pete Best is still their drummer), two
kids, fans of Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne, using black magic to connect
with their idols, instead reach – through their old black and white “telly” –
Next up was Gordon Linzner, founder and former editor
of Space & Time Magazine, author of The Spy Who Drank Blood, and who, as lead singer of the Saboteur
Tiger Blues Band, has covered a fair share of Beatles songs. His story alludes
to a tv show with four protagonists, “The Hey! Team.” With John as leader and
wacko Richard “Ringo” Starkey in the Murdoch role, they try to prevent the
abduction of Chuck Berry’s guitar Maybellene, while being pursued by Colonel
Pepper (he was promoted).
“The Perfect Bridge,” Charles Barouch’s quickie was
another time travel story. A computer programmer in 1978, using a “Yellow
Subroutine,” reaches across to 1967 to plant an Appleseed.
the intermission, a raffle was held for those who donated, with three prizes:
from Carol Gyzander’s What
We’ve Unlearned; Sally Wiener
Grotta’s Jo Joe; and Gordon Linzner’s
The Spy Who Drank Blood. Freund
reported that the Brooklyn Commons was starting a series or festival of short
subject films and invited us to sign up electronically at a terminal up front.
Opening the second half of the show was Keith R.A.
DeCandido, who is perhaps best known for his media tie-in work across “33
different universes, from Alien to Zorro.” In “Used to Be,” which is set sort of in his “Precinct” fantasy
police procedural series, the Beatles are recast as Jahn, Gyorg, Paol and
Starki, D&D tropes (Jahn is a bard, Starki a barbarian).
Filling in for the scheduled final reader, Dawn read Matthew Amati’s “Apocalypse Rock.” Set in an alternate
history where the U.S. lost JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis gamble, four musicians
wander a postapocalyptic landscape of gangs and cannibal mutants to a battle of
the bands at the titular site.
Then, in a bonus, the book’s publisher (“the guy who
writes the checks”), Ian Randal Strock, read “Rubber Soul” by Spider Robinson.
In the 1985 story, John is resurrected 24 years after his death at 40, making him…
Finally, it being a party party and all the world is birthday
cake, Dawn brought out a huge cake (though not honey pie or marshmallow pie) decorated
with a copy of the cover art by Dave Alvarez. (I took a piece but not too much.)
The traditional Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered a
small assortment of books. The audience of close to 80, counting Freund and the
readers, included Karen Heuler, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff, John Kwok,
James Ryan and Susan Bratisher Ryan.
It was a hard day’s night.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
(1) STAR WARS FAN. Craig Miller’s book, Star Wars Memories is now available in paperback
and as an eBook on Amazon.
Craig Miller was the original Director of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm, working on “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back”. As part of that, he was a publicist, a writer, an editor, and a producer. He wrote press material and articles, created and ran the Official Star Wars Fan Club, oversaw a staff who opened and responded to the seeming tons of fan mail the films received, worked with licensees, created a telephone publicity stunt that accidentally shut down the state of Illinois’ phone system, was the producer on projects ranging from episodes of “Sesame Street” to commercials for Underoos (“underwear that’s fun to wear”), operated R2-D2, and spent weeks hanging out on the set of “The Empire Strikes Back”. “…It’s a book of stories you haven’t heard before; an insider’s look from someone who, himself, is a fan and found the whole experience joyful and exciting. These stories are told in a way that brings you in and makes you feel like you were there.”
(2) HOWLING AGAIN. Jim Freud’s long-running sff-themed radio
show “Hour of the Wolf” on New York station WBAI was one of the casualties when
Pacifica closed the station down, claiming
the non-for-profit could no longer support WBAI and its multimillion-dollar
debt. But a state court ruling has restored power to the people, so to speak: “‘A
victory for free speech’: WBAI is back on air” – the Brooklyn Daily
Eagle has the story.
… Until Nov. 6, Pacifica had only complied with half of the ruling, keeping WBAI staffers on payroll. But after New York State Supreme Court Judge Melissa Crane ruled in favor of WBAI Wednesday, the Brooklyn-based station finally regained control of its own programming….
One of the first programs back on air, White said, was the station’s science fiction talk show, “Hour of the Wolf.” Shortly after the shutdown, the show’s host Jim Freund vowed in an interview with the Eagle that he would dedicate his first show back to fielding questions from listeners about the shutdown.
And that’s exactly what he did, White said. “We have a lot of work to do in dispelling some of the misinformation that’s out there,” he said.
(3) MORE CHIZINE INFORMATION. Some deeper dives into ChiZine’s
finances amplify things learned from the last two days’ revelations.
… A publisher does not get every amount of grant money they vie for. BUT, in a year where you get OAC and Canada Council for the Arts block operating grants you can pull in something close to $60,000. CZP also vied for the OMDC Book Fund, though as far as I know was not successful in that aim – you know, that fund they kept promising I could get paid out of if they acquired it. They later sought additional aid from the OMDC (unsuccessfully as I recall, though others can speak to what happened after I left in 2015). I don’t know that CZP ever got Toronto Arts Council block operating grants. Though I know they were looking to apply at various points. But your revenue has to be up over $100,000/year as a threshold. I don’t know that CZP ever hit that.
I recall a lot of the numbers because, along with others, wrote a lot of those arts council grant and other granting body applications. It was shared work. And multiple grant applications were successful.
CZP also applied for, and on different fronts and in different years received, project-based operating grants for both the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, and the annual SpecFic Colloquium conference. And sought funds over the years for the CZP/Rannu Fund fiction contest (though I could not tell you without more digging into my emails whether that ever got grants).
All of these grants, block operating and project-specific, require as part of ther fulfillment that publishers publicly disclose and acknowledge receipt of funds or face violation of terms, and the CCA, OAC, and TAC may request return of dispersed funds. That’s easy to do with books – you put the acknowledgement on the colophon page, which CZP did. But CZP wasn’t always so great with doing that around the other projects..
Silvia Moreno-Garcia has written about the CZP news from the viewpoint of operating her own small press. She also touches on one of the less obvious motives for CZP writers to stay silent. Thread starts here.
Bracken MacLeod makes the case in a Facebook post that an ethical publisher should allocate sales and place the portion representing author royalties into a separate escrow account that cannot be reached for the operating expenses of their press. He models this on how attorneys are required to handle client funds (by their professional ethical code, and in some jurisdictions, by law).
Lucy A. Snyder is another writer who has pulled a story from a ChiZine project:
The screen history of Stephen King adaptations has for decades couched a peculiar irony: Namely, that of the dozens and dozens of films that have been produced from his work — many of them not-so-great — the author famously detested the most revered, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 version of The Shining.
…Over time, images from Kubrick’s The Shining have so dominated the culture that King’s efforts to redirect the public to the source, including the sequel novel Doctor Sleep, have fallen under its shadow. Director Mike Flanagan’s new adaptation represents near-total capitulation, lifting many of Kubrick’s familiar visual and aural cues to continue the story of Danny Torrance, the child whose psychic sensitivities are referred to as “the shining.”
Flanagan proved a gifted steward of King’s Gerald’s Game, a seemingly unadaptable book he pulled off for Netflix, and he has borrowed from Kubrick’s film with the author’s blessing. By King’s apparent calculation, it’s the finer points that count.
To that end, King and Flanagan have restored the legacy of alcoholism in the Torrance family, which ignited Jack’s madness like gasoline to flame, and has been passed along to a now-middle-aged Dan. In Dan’s case, however, alcohol muffles the traumas of the past and the voices that still echo in his head through his extrasensory perception.
Played by a sad-eyed Ewan McGregor, Dan is a loner who has bused his way to small-town New Hampshire on the modest hope of a steady job, a small apartment and a path to recovery. And he finds it, too, going a full eight years as a sober contributor to society. He even discovers the perfect application of his unique talent, sitting bedside at a hospice center and gently guiding patients into the hereafter.
But from there, Doctor Sleep gets complicated. Around the time the Torrances were battling ghosts in the Overlook Hotel, a hippieish death cult called the True Knot, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), were traveling across the country, recruiting new members and feasting on the psychic energy (called “the steam”) of people like Danny. “The steam,” passed around and inhaled like pot smoke, gives Rose and company immense power and eternal life, and those with the shining radiate to them like a beacon of light. It’s only a matter of time before they catch up with Dan, but he finds an ally in Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a teenager who shines just as brightly.
(5) CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT — ER. Universal
Pictures has dropped a trailer for The Invisible Man, in theaters
What you can’t see can hurt you. Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (Us, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale) stars in a terrifying modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic monster character. Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer, NBC’s The InBetween), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge, Straight Outta Compton) and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid, HBO’s Euphoria). But when Cecilia’s abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House) commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 8, 1847 — Abraham “Bram” Stoker. You know that he’s author of Dracula but did you wrote that he other fiction such as The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm? Of course you do, being you. The short story collection Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker’s widow, Florence Stoker. (Died 1912.)
Born November 8, 1898 — Katharine Mary Briggs. British folklorist and author who wrote A Dictionary of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures , and the four-volume Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language, and the Kate Crackernuts novel. Her The Anatomy of Puck: An Examination of Fairy Beliefs among Shakespeare’s Contemporaries and Successors is fascinating read. (Died 1980.)
Born November 8, 1914 — Norman Lloyd, 105. His longest genre role was as Dr. Isaac Mentnor on the Seven Days series. He’s been on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Get Smart! in the form of the Nude Bomb filmand The Twilight Zone, and in a fair of horror films from The Dark Secret of Harvest Home to The Scarecrow.
Born November 8, 1932 — Ben Bova, 87. His more than one hundred and twenty books have won six Hugo Awards. He’s a former editor of Analog, along with once being editorial director at Omni. Hell, he even had the thankless job of SFWA President. (Just kidding. I think.) I couldn’t hope to summarize his literary history so I’ll single out his Grand Tour series that though uneven is overall splendid hard sf as well as his Best of Bova short story collections put out recently in three volumes. What’s your favourite book by him?
Born November 8, 1952 — Alfre Woodard, 67. I remember her best from Star Trek: First Contact where she was Lily Sloane, Cochrane’s assistant. She was also Grace Cooley in Scrooged, and polishing her SJW creds, she once voiced Maisie the Cat in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to School. And yes, I know she’s portrayed a character in Marvel Universe. I just like the obscure roles.
Born November 8, 1956 — Richard Curtis, 63. One of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, he’s making the Birthday List for writing “Vincent and the Doctor”, a most excellent Eleventh Doctor story. He was also the writer of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot which isn’t really genre but it’s Roald Dahl. And he directed Blackadder.
Born November 8, 1968 — Parker Posey, 51. Doctor Smith on the rebooted Lost in Space series. I’ve not seen it, so how is it? She was in a film based on based on Dean Koontz’s version of Frankenstein. And she shows in Blade: Trinity as well.
Born November 8, 1972 — Gretchen Mol, 47. Dr. Agatha Matheson in the Nightflyers series off Martin’s novel. Canceled after a single season. Annie Norris In Life on Mars which also made it but a single season. She’s also in The Thirteenth Floor, a genre crime thriller where she plays two roles, Natasha Molinaro and Jane Fuller.
A British historian famously wrote that work expands to fill available time – but what was he actually saying about inefficiency?
“It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” British naval historian and author Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote that opening line for an essay in The Economist in 1955, but the concept known as ‘Parkinson’s Law’ still lives on today.
…But what fewer people know is that Parkinson’s original intent was not to take aim at old lady letter-writers or journalists like me, but at a different kind of inefficiency – the bureaucratisation of the British Civil Service. In his original essay he pointed out that although the number of navy ships decreased by two thirds, and personnel by a third, between 1914 and 1928, the number of bureaucrats had still ballooned by almost 6% a year. There were fewer people and less work to manage – but management was still expanding, and Parkinson argued that this was due to factors that were independent of naval operational needs.
Get more subordinates, create more work
One scholar who has taken a serious look at Parkinson’s Law is Stefan Thurner, a professor in Science of Complex Systems at the Medical University of Vienna. Thurner says he became interested in the concept when the faculty of medicine at the University of Vienna split into its own independent university in 2004. Within a couple years, he says, the Medical University of Vienna went from being run by 15 people to 100, while the number of scientists stayed about the same. “I wanted to understand what was going on there, and why my bureaucratic burden did not diminish – on the contrary it increased,” he says.
He happened to read Parkinson’s book around the same time and was inspired to turn it into a mathematical model that could be manipulated and tested, along with co-authors Peter Klimek and Rudolf Hanel. “Parkinson argued that if you have 6% growth rate of any administrative body, then sooner or later any company will die. They will have all their workforce in bureaucracy and none in production.”
…Next for Grattoni’s team is something even more extraordinary and Borg-like; nano-telemedicine. An implant about the size of a grape (below), equipped with Bluetooth technology to consult doctors back on Earth, will rely on a remote control to tell it to store and release medication as needed. Remote doctor appointments will determine how an astronaut’s medicine is adjusted and enable the doctor to control the device by sending a command that makes it increase, decrease, or stop dosage. This unreal device will be tested on the ISS next year.
Savertown USA in Erica L. Satifka’s Stay Crazy doesn’t offer protagonist Em much in the way of pay or happiness, but it’s not as if Em has options. Clear Falls, Pennsylvania is in the heart of the rust belt and Em herself is still dealing with the paranoid schizophrenia that ended her college days; a job at a soulless big box store is the best offer available.
It’s just too bad that this particular Savertown USA was built over a dimensional rift. Thanks to her psychiatric history, Em isn’t inclined to take a voice in her head warning her about the fate of the world at face value. Nor would the people around Em place much faith in her claims if Em did reveal the dire warnings she is receiving. As is so often the case, it’s up to an expendable clerk and whatever allies she can scrounge to face down danger and save the world.
Airships lost out to conventional aircraft after a series of disastrous crashes. But now safer technology could be the key to their return.
Zeppelins fill the skies of Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy of fantasy novels, His Dark Materials. The giant airships of his parallel universe carry the mail, transport soldiers into battle and explorers to the Arctic. What was once my local post office in Oxford is in Pullman’s fantasy – a zeppelin station where I could catch the evening airship to London.
When I put the books down the reality is rather disappointing. A handful of smaller airships can be found flying proudly across the United States on promotional tours for brands like Goodyear and Carnival Cruise Line. Last year, a blimp demeaned itself by setting two world records, including one for the fastest text on a touch screen mobile phone while water skiing behind a blimp. A few more are employed to fly well-heeled tourists on sight-seeing trips over the German countryside. Another can be found flying over the Amazon. And that’s about it.
The good news is that soon, the real world may finally drift closer to Pullman’s fantasy. In four to five years, all being well, one of the first production models of the enormous Airlander airship dubbed “the flying bum” will be the first airship to fly to the North Pole since 1928. The men and women on board the Airlander are tourists on an $80,000 (£62,165) luxury experience rather than explorers. Tickets are on sale today
The Airlander won’t be alone in the skies either. About the same time, a vast new airship the shape of a blue whale, at 150m the length of an A380 and as high as a 12-storey building should rise up above its assembly plant, out of the heat and humidity of Jingmen, China. Its job: heavy lifting in some of the toughest places on Earth. The manufacturers have some Boeing-sized ambitions for this new age of the airship. They expect there to be about 150 of these airships floating around the world within 10 years.
In the history books, the crash of the Hindenburg in 1937 marked the end of the brief, glorious era of the airship – except it didn’t. The US Navy continued to use blimps for anti-submarine warfare during World War Two. The American Blimp Corporation manufactured airships for advertising. New, bigger, hi-tech airships were built by Zeppelin in Germany. Engineers and pilots have spent whole careers in an industry that wasn’t supposed to exist anymore.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Life of Brian 1979 Debate–Complete” on
YouTube is an episode of Friday Night…and Saturday Morning from 1979
in which John Cleese, Michael Palin, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Mervyn Stockwood,
the Bishop of Southwark, discuss The Life of Brian, which had just been
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy,
Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some
of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Daniel Dern.]
By Mark L. Blackman: One might think that, as we all
breathe air and need potable water to survive – among the few things that all
of humanity has in common – the environment would be as noncontroversial and
nonpartisan as anything could be, but no. Even the very first Earth Day in 1970
was savaged as, variously, Hitler’s birthday and Lenin’s birthday. One button
that I have from back then displays an upside-down peace sign, resembling a
tree, calling us to “make peace with nature” … thus environmentalism was deemed
“unpatriotic” (and ridiculed as “tree-hugging”) long before visible and
undisputed climate change was called “a Chinese hoax” and even weather reports
the evening of Monday, October 14 – Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Federal Columbus
Day and the start of the second day of Sukkot (a Jewish festival with arboreal
aspects) – at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café in
Brooklyn, two floors below the beleaguered WBAI-FM (more on that below), the New
York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series spotlighted Reckoning, an annual journal of creative writing on
environmental justice. (Trade paper, perfect-bound copies
are $15, but are free online to get the message out. The
4th issue will be out in January. Visit Reckoning.press for more information.) The event was guest-hosted by its
publisher, Michael J. DeLuca, and featured
readings by Emily Houk, Krista Hoeppner
Leahy, Marissa Lingen, Emery Robin and Brian Francis Slattery. (The readers
read from works in Reckoning 1 and 2, with the exception of Robin, whose
story will run in Reckoning 4.)
The event opened, as usual, with producer and executive curator
Jim Freund (and, until last week, host of the long-running sf/fantasy radio
program Hour of the Wolf) welcoming
the audience. He began by noting that tonight’s readings would on Facebook
Live, rather than streamed on Livestream, (Livestream should be back in
November.) He then addressed the
elephant in the room two floors above. A week earlier, WBAI-FM’s parent
company, Pacifica Across America – or, more specifically, a group of the owners
– abruptly shut down the listener-sponsored station. Legal counteractions
ensued, with more to come. Freund (who was wearing a WBAI t-shirt) assured all
that WBAI-FM would be back, and announced that there would be a rally and press
conference on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday the 15th at noon
(too late for those reading this) in support of BAI.
Returning to why we were there, he reminded those who can to
donate to the Series ($7 is the suggested donation, but no one is ever turned
away due to lack of funds), and reported that the home audience (to coin a
phrase) may donate on its Patreon page. He concluded by announcing future
readers: On Tuesday (yes, the
Series returns to its usual schedule), November 5th (Election Day
and Guy Fawkes Day – “Remember, remember, the 5th of November”), the
readers will be Gay Partington Terry
and Robert V.S. Redick. December 3rd will be “party time,” an
evening of Glitter Spec Fic, featuring A.C. Wise and others to be corralled “reading
stories and performing music to do with glitter.” (On the Series webpage, this
notice was displayed in multiple colors.) Disclosing his own early environmental
activism, he then turned “the show” over to DeLuca.
DeLuca describes his “roots as mycorrhizal with sugar maple and Eastern white pine,” a theme seen in his website, mossyskull.com. His fiction has appeared most recently in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Strangelet and Middle Planet. He observed that holding the event on Indigenous Peoples’ Day was “in keeping with the spirit of environmental justice” (some anthropologists may disagree).
First up was Brian Francis Slattery, who has written four novels and is also the arts editor and a reporter for the New Haven Independent, and a musician. “For a week out of every year, lives without electricity” (and that’s without living in California). He read from his semi-fictional essay “The Kinder and More Caring Future,” musings on sustainability (we shouldn’t eat meat-eating predators, including certain fish like haddock) and a reminiscence on the wake of Hurricane Irene. “Hurricane Irene was the future calling,” showing us the perils of seas rising.)
Krista Hoeppner Leahy, the second reader, has appeared in a Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Clarkesworld, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Farrago’s Wainscot. Her offering washer short poem “Eathspun,” about our relationship with Nature (“All of us belong to the sky”). (Another memorable line was “Breathe through your cloaca.”)
During the intermission, a raffle was held (for those who
donated), with the prizes being copies of Infomocracy by Malka Older and Galápagos Regained by James Morrow. DeLuca then opened the second half of the
Houk commented that her story “Plague Winter” reads as science fiction, but is
historical, about bio-control of invasive species (we were referred to The Simpsons). Here a lab assistant sets
plague doctor beetles on hemlocks. (I might have seen the trees in her story in
In keeping with the ecological theme, Marissa
Lingen reported that she has “a large collection of foliage-themed jewelry.” She read her story “The Shale
Giants.” (“Humans want to steal their breath.”)
The final reader of the evening, Emery Robin, read a story set in her hometown Oakland, “Ambient and Isolated Effects of Fine Particulate Matter.” After fires – and drought – in Northern California, the sky is hazy, and the air quality has been severely affected, become unbreathable (people wear masks) and ashy – people are turning gray.
DeLuca concluded the evening by inviting submissions.
The traditional Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered a
small assortment of books along with copies of Cultural Survival Quarterly (focused indigenous issues and
traditional knowledge; DeLuca’s sister is on staff). The audience of about 40,
counting Freund and the readers (but not the Chabad duo who wandered in with
the Four Species), included Amy Goldschlager, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff,
John Kwok and (Tech Director) Terence Taylor. The kitchen closed early, but the
Café still offered beverages, cold food and snacks.