Yr humble correspondent at the helm
That would be Starship Captain Dern, putting the vessel through its paces
More of Dern’s photos follow the jump.Continue reading
Yr humble correspondent at the helm
That would be Starship Captain Dern, putting the vessel through its paces
More of Dern’s photos follow the jump.Continue reading
(1) NOW WITH ADDED KA-BOOM! Filer Charon Dunn is off to the San Diego Comic-Con to plug her new book, A Dark and Stormy Day, the culmination of the Adventures of Sonny Knight trilogy, “which has even more explosions than the last two.”
I’m going to be providing copious updates on my Facebook page, but if you’re not a Facebooker, I’ll do a summary after I get back. If you are a Facebooker, throw me a like. It’s my first SDCC, so I’m mostly going to be wandering around gawking at everything like an utter yokel.
I will be wearing my fabulous SDCC battle armor: a denim vest with the solar system embroidered on the back, to discourage me from buying more superfluous hoodies while giving me a place to display my collectable pins.
Dunn will also be carrying swag to distribute to her readers – don’t miss out!
(2) ONLY HUNDREDS OF SHOPPING DAYS TIL CHRISTMAS. During Hallmark’s Keepsake Ornament Premiere Event from July 13-21, there will be “event exclusive offers” on the Hogwarts Tree Topper and Harry Potter Collection. The castle lights up and plays music. Ooh, ahh!
(3) STATION ELEVEN COMING TO MORE STATIONS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Emily St. John-Mandel’s award-winning post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven is getting a small-screen adaptation. The novel, which won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke award, follows a theatre troupe as they travel around the Great Lakes some decades after a pandemic wiped out most of civilization. It’s an excellent novel, though I have to admit that I find the author’s dismissal of science fiction as a genre to be annoying (much like Ian MacEwan).
CBC Books has the story: “Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven being adapted into 10-episode TV series”.
(4) BOWIE FIGURE. The New York Times shares details of “A David Bowie Barbie: Mattel Unveils Ziggy Stardust Doll”.
On Thursday, the world learned that Barbie is a Bowie fan.
With its release of a doll dressed as David Bowie’s glittering alter ego Ziggy Stardust, Mattel said it was celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Space Oddity,” released in 1969.
The new Barbie doll wears a body-hugging metallic “spacesuit,” calf-high red platform boots and silver earrings with dangling stars. Her dark red hair is slicked back like Ziggy Stardust’s, and daubed on her forehead is the golden circle he wore. Her nails are painted black.
It’s a notably androgynous look for a doll that epitomized the stereotypes of feminine appearance in its earlier iterations….
(5) BARBIE’S SPACESUIT. And that’s not all the Barbie news – BBC reports “Barbie and ESA launch plan to get more girls in space”.
Barbie has teamed up with the European Space Agency (ESA) to encourage girls to become the next generation of astronauts.
Currently, only 15 percent of active astronauts in the world are female and, 50 years on from the first person landing on the moon, no woman has ever landed on the moon.
The ESA only has one active astronaut. She’s called Samantha Cristoforetti.
In order to highlight the lack of female astronauts, the company behind Barbie – Mattel – has made a special one-of-a-kind doll of Cristoforetti.
The astronaut hopes her collaboration with Barbie “will help young girls and boys to dream about their future without limits.”
(6) THE MOTES ON NEIL’S SUIT. A lot bigger and older than Barbie’s, and in need of refurbishing: “Of Little Details And Lunar Dust: Preserving Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 Spacesuit”.
When astronaut Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon 50 years ago, it was a giant leap for functional fashion.
The spacesuit he wore was an unprecedented blend of technology and tailoring.
“The suit itself is an engineering marvel,” says Malcolm Collum, the chief conservator for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. “Every single thing on here is a specific function. It is engineered to the last little detail.”
Take the metal fittings that connect the helmet, air tubes and gloves. They’re brightly colored — for example, vivid red metal for the right glove, neon blue for the left. Patriotic, yes, but also exceptionally functional. That’s because NASA wanted to make sure that in all of the excitement of landing on the moon, Armstrong was able to easily connect his gear.
And that attention to detail is evident from helmet to toe. The stitching throughout is meticulous — much of it done by hand in 1969. The suit had to be tough, flexible and airtight. Armstrong’s life depended on a finely guided needle and thread.
But decades of being on display throughout the country took a toll. In 2006, Smithsonian technicians noticed Armstrong’s spacesuit was showing signs of age. So they removed it from the Air and Space Museum in Washington, moved it to a storage facility and laid it out in a drawer.
Collum and his team of technicians have had the job of getting Armstrong’s spacesuit standing tall and back on public view again.
(7) SOURCE OF THE TROUBLE. The author of Ash Kickers explains the set-up in “The Big Idea: Sean Grigsby” at Whatever.
Whatever catastrophe nature throws at us, people always seem to make it worse.
Not all of us. Some seek to help and not to hurt, to heal instead of destroy. Firefighters are just one example of a few good people trying to make a difference. I’m proud to call myself one. But, like I said, sometimes there are a few hateful assholes standing in our way.
The Smoke Eaters series is about firefighters versus newly-returned dragons, sure, but there are other big ideas at play. In the first book I talk about corrupt government using disasters for their own gain, and replacing first responders with robots. In Ash Kickers, it’s something much worse…
(8) E UNUM PLURIBUS? Popular Mechanics tells how “Pangea Gave Us Modern Oceans”:
It’s hard to imagine all of the world’s land masses together as one supercontinent. Over 200 million years ago, however, that’s what Earth looked like. The breakup of Pangea was essentially the first step in the creation of the modern world….
Around 175 million years ago, as Pangea was violently being ripped apart, new rifts started opening on the ocean floor. Water-heavy slabs started falling in one after another, faster and farther down than they had before until the water began to evaporate entirely. With no water left, the end result was millions of years of water loss like the planet had never seen.
With ocean levels now rising due to man-made climate change, the idea of chucking all the water into the Earth’s mantle sounds tempting. No such luck, Karlsen says.
“While the deep water cycle can effectively change sea level over hundreds of millions to billions of years, climate change can change the sea level in zero to 100 years,” she says. “For comparison, the present-day sea level rise associated with climate change is about 0.1 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year. The sea level drop associated with the deep water cycle is about 1/10,000 of that.”
(9) CORTESE OBIT. Her credits included Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits (1965) and Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). The New York Times remembers her in “Valentina Cortese, a Leading Italian Film Actress, Dies at 96”.
Valentina Cortese, an Italian film actress best known for her role as a fading, tippling movie diva in François Truffaut’s “Day for Night,” which earned her a 1975 Academy Award nomination and, remarkably, an apology from the winner, Ingrid Bergman, died on Wednesday in Milan. She was 96.
(10) NICKERSON OBIT. BBC reports the death of Willy Wonka cast member: “Denise Nickerson: Violet Beauregarde actress dies aged 62”
Denise Nickerson, the former child actress who played Violet Beauregarde in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died aged 62.
Nickerson’s family announced the news in a Facebook post that read: “She’s gone.”
In earlier updates on social media, her family said she had pneumonia and had experienced several seizures.
Nickerson – who was cast opposite Gene Wilder at the age of 13 – had previously survived a stroke in 2018.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
(13) HE CAN SIT ANYWHERE HE WANTS. Camestros Felapton did something rather amusing with the new poster art for Star Trek: Picard — “New TNG Spin Off Looks Interesting”.
(14) TRUE GRIT. Gizmodo finds a very good way to make a dry topic interesting: “Research Sheds Light on Strange Seaway That Once Covered the Sahara”.
The Sahara might seem like one of Earth’s most lifeless regions today, but its fossils show it was once a vast seaway filled giant fish and some of the largest sea snakes the planet has ever seen.
From 100 million to 50 million years ago, a large seaway up to 160 feet deep covered much of West Africa, leaving behind lots of marine fossils, including vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, and microbes. Many of them were surprisingly large. It’s difficult to study this region due to harsh geopolitical and physical climates, so a group of scientists decided to compile and synthesize lots of existing research on the area
(15) ON THE SCALES. Paul Weimer analyzes the pedigree of Evan Winter’s new book for readers of the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog: “Gladiator Meets The Count of Monte Cristo in the African-Inspired Fantasy Epic The Rage of Dragons“.
The Rage of Dragons, the debut epic from self-publishing success story Evan Winter, distinguishes itself by its setting, a fantasy world inspired by Africa, but truly impresses with its storytelling. It weaves a tale of determination, love, revenge, and war that is, at its core, the story of one young man who, even as he seeks to improve his life by learning the art of war, must grapple with deadly politics, powerful magic, and a threat that could destroy an entire civilization.
(16) RELATIVITY. The Hugo Award Book Club blog reviews a set of finalists in “Best Related Work: Category or Collection of Categories?”. One work on the list is —
The Story Of The Hugos
It seems odd to us that this is only the second time that Jo Walton has appeared on a Hugo Award ballot. It can be argued that several of her novels and non-fiction works warrant the recognition.
Her Informal History Of The Hugo Awards, based around the Tor.com blog posts of the same name that she wrote a couple of years ago, traces the history of the awards through their creation in 1953, through to the year 2000. True to its name, this is a subjective look at both the winners and the shortlists, livened with insight and personal anecdotes.
The book version adds significant material, additional essays and footnotes, as well as a curated set of comments from the blog. Walton has a deep and rich knowledge of science fiction and of fandom, and it shines through in essay after essay tackling controversies of years past, or years where she might disagree with the verdict of Hugo voters.
This is a work that we believe will have enduring value. In most years it would be a lock for the top of our Best Related Work ballots.
(17) HUGO REVIEWS. Bonnie McDaniel is back with “Hugo Reading 2019: Best Novelette”.
4) “The Thing About Ghost Stories,” Naomi Kritzer
This is a lovely story about just what it says–ghost stories, not ghosts. Although ghosts definitely make an appearance, in the form of the narrator’s mother, who recently succumbed to Alzheimer’s. (The details of this ring scarily true, by the way.) This is another quiet story, but in this case, the still waters run deep, and the mother-daughter relationship depicted here is sad and beautiful.
(18) GRAPHIC STORY. J.C. Reid does a good rundown of one of the more rarely-reviewed categories: “Hugo Awards Extravaganza 2019 -Graphic Story”. First up —
Abbott by Saladin Ahmed, art by Sami Kivelä, colours by Jason Wordie, letters by Jim Campbell
A journalist fights racism and magic in 70s Detroit.
You can’t go past a good high concept, and Blaxploitation Call of Cthulhu is a pretty great high concept. What rapidly becomes apparent is that Ahmed has aspirations beyond kick ass action comics, and is engaging with more than the superficial trappings of blaxploitation. It starts with the setting – 70s Detroit in washed out colours, newspaper headlines, and near ubiquitous smoking. Everywhere we visit in the story we see divisions along race, gender and class, and the genius at work here is to carry these divisions over to the supernatural.
(19) IN THIS CORNER. James Davis Nicoll orchestrates a cage match between two classic names in “Heinlein’s Juveniles vs. Andre Norton’s Young Adult Novels” at Tor.com.
Something about Heinlein’s characters that eluded me when I was an idiot teen: some of his protagonists (in particular Rod from Tunnel in the Sky) were not necessarily the sharpest pencils in the box. They’re always good-hearted fellows, but also naive enough to justify folksy lecturing from mentors. This also allows readers to feel just a little superior to the fellow who, for example, can’t seem to work out that another character is a girl even after he wrestles with her, then partners up with her (leading a third party to inquire, “Rod…were you born that stupid? Or did you have to study?”).
(20) OBJECTS MAY BE SMALLER THAN THEY APPEAR. NPR says “At The T-Rex Races: On Your Mark, Get Set, Rawwrr!”
At first glance, the starting gate at Emerald Downs racetrack looks relatively normal. But then the gates open and the race begins, and instead of thoroughbreds a mass of people bursts forth, running as fast as they can — while wearing oversized T-Rex costumes.
“The T-Rexes stand at the ready — and T-Rexes away!” track announcer Tom Harris yells, as prehistoric — and hilarious — chaos breaks out on the track.
At the wire, a dino named Regular Unleaded took the victory, holding off Rex Girlfriend by a tail.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Bonnie McDaniel, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
(1) FEELING FELINE. Beware “Timothy’s Spoiler Filled Review of Captain Marvel” at Camestros Felapton.
[From the desk of the CEO of Cattimothy Media dot Org] This is Marvel’s second cat led superhero movie. Black Panther was a bit disappointing as they cast a human in the key role of the Black Panther. Disappointing but understandable given that big cats have been boycotting Hollywood ever since the tiger in Life of Pi didn’t get their fair share of the royalties.
Goose is a superhero cat who is a regular cat and also an alien cat….
(2) SURVIVORS. Aniara, based on a 1956 poem by Swedish Nobel Prize-winning author Harry Martinson, opensin theaters and on demand May 17.
A spaceship carrying settlers to a new home in Mars after Earth is rendered uninhabitable, only to be knocked off course.
(3) ATWOOD’S NEW BOOK. “Atwood to launch The Handmaid’s Tale sequel with live broadcast” – they’re making it into a big media event reports The Guardian.
Margaret Atwood is to mark the publication of her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale with a midnight launch in London on 9 September followed by a live interview at the National Theatre broadcast around the world.
There will also be a six-date tour of the UK and Ireland.
The rock-star arrangements reflect just how anticipated publication of her book, The Testaments, is. It will be set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, and returns readers to life in Gilead, a theocratic dictatorship with its roots in 17th century Puritanism that has replaced the United States’ liberal democracy. It is a place where women have almost no rights and are used as enslaved breeding vessels.
(4) NORSTRILIA. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus, while at a comic fest in Southern California, paused to read the current (1964!) issue of Galaxy and review Cordwainer Smith’s latest: “[March 9, 1964] Deviant from the Norm (April 1964 Galaxy)”.
25 years ago, a group of fen met in New York for the first World’s Science Fiction Convention. Now, conclaves are springing up all over the nation (and internationally, too). Just this weekend, I attended a small event ambitiously titled San Diego Comic Fest. It was a kind of “Comics-in,” where fans of the funny pages could discuss their peculiar interests: Is Superman better than Batman? Are the X-Men and the Doom Patrol related? Is Steve Ditko one of the best comics artists ever?
…For years, Cordwainer Smith has teased us with views of his future tales of the Instrumentality, the rigid, computer-facilitated government of Old Earth. We’ve learned that there are the rich humans, whose every whim is catered to. Beneath them, literally, are the Underpeople — animals shaped into human guise (a la Dr. Moreau) who live in subterranean cities. A giant tower, miles high, launches spaceships to the heavens, spreading the Instrumentality to the hundreds of settled stars of the galaxy. All but one, the setting of Smith’s newest book.
(5) SF IN CHINA. Will Dunn analyzes “How Chinese novelists are reimagining science fiction” at New Statesman America.
One afternoon in June 1999, more than three million Chinese schoolchildren took their seats for the Gaokao, the country’s national college entrance exam. Essay subjects in previous years had been patriotic – “the most touching scene from the Great Leap Forward” (1958) – or prosaic –“trying new things” (1994) – but the final essay question of the millennium was a vision of the future: “what if memories could be transplanted?”
Chen Quifan, who is published in the West as Stanley Chen, says this was the moment that modern Chinese science fiction was born. “Earlier that year,” he explains to me in the offices of his London publisher, “there was a feature on the same topic in the biggest science fiction magazine in China, Science Fiction World. It was a coincidence, but a lot of parents then thought, OK – reading science fiction can help my children go to a good college.”
The magazine’s circulation exploded, as hundreds of thousands of new readers began to explore a genre that had previously been classified as children’s literature. Among those readers were Chen and other aspiring writers who would go on to submit stories to the magazine, and eventually to publish novels. This new generation of sci-fi authors has become hugely popular in China and, increasingly, around the world.
(6) MOON MEMORIES. Leonard Maltin has a personal review of this one: “Apollo 11: Reliving A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience”.
I was a teenager when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in the summer of 1969 and, like millions of people around the world, I will never forget that moment. I can only guess how this film will play to viewers who didn’t experience the glory years of NASA and America’s space program, but I can tell you that I marveled at the sights and sounds of Apollo 11 and choked up as it reached its conclusion. (Moreover, I didn’t need a title card to identify the first voice we hear, which recurs throughout the movie. Newscaster Walter Cronkite has become synonymous with mid-20th century events.)
Watching this saga on a giant IMAX screen plays a key role in its impact. NASA documented every facet of its operations, but only a fraction of their vast archive has ever been tapped. David Sington was one of the first filmmakers to dig deep and find previously unused material for his excellent feature In the Shadow of the Moon (2007). Apollo 11’s Todd Douglas Miller made an even more dramatic discovery: large-format 65mm footage that was never processed, unseen for fifty years. This material was destined to be shown in IMAX.
(7) PEN AMERICA. “The 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Winners” were announced February 26. The list is at the link.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(9) OPPOSITE SWEDEN. “Your money’s no good here” used to be a way of saying something was on the house, not a literal statement — “Protecting The ‘Unbanked’ By Banning Cashless Businesses In Philadelphia”.
Back in December, the Philadelphia City Council passed “Fair Workweek” legislation, joining a growing national movement aimed at giving retail and fast-food workers more predictable schedules and, by extension, more predictable lives. Low-income residents and unions lobbied lawmakers and put the issue on their radar. Similar laws are on the books in New York, San Francisco and Seattle.
That’s typically how it works. Advocates shine a light on a problem. A bill gets introduced.
That’s not the way it worked with another new law in Philadelphia. That law can be traced back to one man: City Councilman Bill Greenlee.
Last fall, Greenlee introduced a bill outlawing cashless businesses — brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants where customers can only pay with credit and debit cards.
“I heard that there started to be some establishments in Center City. Something just didn’t sit right with me on that,” said Greenlee.
Mayor Jim Kenney signed it into law last week, making Philadelphia the first big city in the country to ban cash-free stores. It takes effect July 1.
(10) DOTTED LINE. NPR finds the lighter side of the issue — “When Not Reading The Fine Print Can Cost Your Soul”.
Nobody reads the fine print. But maybe they should.
Georgia high school teacher Donelan Andrews won a $10,000 reward after she closely read the terms and conditions that came with a travel insurance policy she purchased for a trip to England. Squaremouth, a Florida insurance company, had inserted language promising a reward to the first person who emailed the company.
“We understand most customers don’t actually read contracts or documentation when buying something, but we know the importance of doing so,” the company said. “We created the top-secret Pays to Read campaign in an effort to highlight the importance of reading policy documentation from start to finish.”
Not every company is so generous. To demonstrate the importance of reading the fine print, many companies don’t give; they take. The mischievous clauses tend to pop up from time to time, usually in cheeky England.
In 2017, 22,000 people who signed up for free public Wi-Fi inadvertently agreed to 1,000 hours of community service — including cleaning toilets and “relieving sewer blockages,” the Guardian reported. The company, Manchester-based Purple, said it inserted the clause in its agreement “to illustrate the lack of consumer awareness of what they are signing up to when they access free wifi.”
(11) HUGOS THERE. Mark Yon reviews “An Unofficial History of the Hugos by Jo Walton” at SFFWorld.
…As this is an ‘informal’ history, there are clear favourite authors and non-favourites which are freely admitted by the contributors. Most noticeable is the consistent love of Theodore Sturgeon and Gene Wolfe’s work throughout. However Jo is not a fan of everything and everyone. She admits that she is not a fan of anything cyberpunk, Dan Simmons’s later Hyperion books and Philip K Dick’s writing to the point where she has avoided his work, including the 1963 Award Winner The Man in the High Castle. Although she is often an advocate of Heinlein’s work (such as Double Star), she is less enamoured with the more famous Stranger in A Strange Land (rather like myself, actually.)
(12) NOT IMPOSSIBLE. The Clarke Center’s podcast Into the Impossible, in Episode 21: Beyond 10,000 Hours explores physics, education, and what it takes to train imaginative scientists with Carl Wieman, Nobel Prize winning physicist with joint appointments as Professor of Physics and Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Dr. Wieman is interviewed by Brian Keating, UC San Diego Professor of Physics, Director of the Simons Observatory, and Associate Director of the Clarke Center.
(13) HEAT VISION. Scientists have used nanoparticles inside the eyeballs of mice to make otherwise invisible near-infrared light visible to the mice (Gizmodo: “Incredible Experiment Gives Infrared Vision to Mice—and Humans Could Be Next”). What’s next, X-ray vision?
By injecting nanoparticles into the eyes of mice, scientists gave them the ability to see near-infrared light—a wavelength not normally visible to rodents (or people). It’s an extraordinary achievement, one made even more extraordinary with the realization that a similar technique could be used in humans.
(14) OVERMATCHED. From Captain Marvel, “Talos Vs Nick Fury Fight Scene Clip.”
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “One Minute Art History” is a video by Cao Shu on Vimeo which condenses a great deal of art history into a 90-second video.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Hampus Eckerman, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]
(1) RABBIT CAST MULTIPLYING. More celebrities join the Watership Down warren: “Daniel Kaluuya, Rosamund Pike Join Animated Netflix/BBC Miniseries ‘Watership Down'”.
The latest adaptation of Richard Adams’ classic allegorical bunny adventure novel will be a CGI series, with John Boyega, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult and Ben Kingsley previously announced as voicing a group of rabbits, led by the brave Hazel (McAvoy) and visionary Fiver (Hoult). Written by Tom Bidwell, the series also will feature the vocal talents of Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace), Freddie Fox (Pride), Anne-Marie Duff (Suffragette), Miles Jupp (The Thick of It) and Olivia Colman, it was previously revealed.
The story follows a group of rabbits as they escape the destruction of their warren and seek a place to establish a new home, encountering perils and temptations along the way.
Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther) will voice Bluebell; Pike (A Private War, Gone Girl) will voice The Black Rabbit of Inle; Egerton will voice El-Ahrairah; and Capaldi will voice the seagull Kehaar. Other new voice talent includes Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians, Humans) as Dewdrop, Tom Wilkinson (Selma) as Threarah and Rory Kinnear (Skyfall) as Cowslip,
(2) TOO MUCH SUGAR IN THAT PLUM. The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney really doesn’t like it: “‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’: Film Review”.
Disney’s attempt to wrestle E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 story and the perennially popular Tchaikovsky ballet into a fairy tale with a modern attitude is like one of those big, elaborately decorated, butter cream-frosted cakes that looks delicious but can make you quite ill. Something else that The Nutcracker and the Four Realms calls to mind is those mechanized holiday department store windows, stuffed with so many busy elements you can barely take them all in before some obnoxious kid behind you is nudging you to keep the line moving. So much attention has been lavished on the sumptuous visuals that the story and characters are suffocated.
(3) CROWDFUNDED DEPARTURE. Amazing Stories contributor Susan Sussman has launched a GoFundMe appeal to get her family out of Venezuela. Steve Davidson hopes everyone will help:
Susana Sussmann, author, conference organizer, editor and contributor to the Amazing Stories blog (read her posts here), is trying to get her family out of strife torn Venezuela and she needs our help.
She and her husband have secured job offers in Germany and have opened up a GoFundMe fundraising campaign to help her get to that job and her family to safer environs.
Susana and family have been caught up in and affected by Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis (information on which can be found here.) Her son needs medical and educational support which is simply no longer available to the family,
(4) EARLY REPUBLICAN. Camestros Felapton engages Plato in “Dialogue: Thessaly by Jo Walton”. Some say we don’t have great fan writers like this anymore – but we do!
[Warning on themes around sexual violence and consent]…
Camestros: You are a man of contradictions, Plato! You scorn poetry and yet you are the most poetic of classical philosophers. You fear fiction but you literally include made-up stories in your model civilisation and call them noble lies! In Western history, you are arguably the first person to invent a story and overlay claim that you just made it up and that it wasn’t actually based on an existing myth or history!
Plato: But those myths are for the purpose of instruction and improvement of the mind. The fictions you tell me about these “science fictions” are untruths about knowledge! What was that last one with the Olympic gods and thinking machines and the works of your island’s Homer? This new book you have better not be like that one.
Camestros: That would be Olympus and Illium by Dan Simmons. Well, there are some similarities. There are some excellent robot characters, as well as the gods of Olympus and both books discuss arete. However, Walton’s book is genuinely concerned with examining your ideas, rather than just exploring the Greek pantheon.
…Plato: Before we part company, can you tell me where I might find these books we have been discussing? It may be that you have at last brought me something worthy of my interest?
Camestros: Oh, you get them from Amazon!
Plato: The great warrior women are now booksellers! What wonders you era brings!
(4) YOUR NAME HEAR. This thread summarizes World Fantasy Con’s panel about podcasting – starts here.
Podcasts help create buzz, several authors got nominated for awards shortly after their stories were made into podcasts.
— Setsu U (@KatanaPen) November 2, 2018
(5) MONSTER SCIENCE. Amusing podcast from Harvard Dept. of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology on the science of big monsters: “Veritalk: Monsters Episode 3 – King Kong vs. Gravity”. There’s also a transcript.
AFP: So this really busts the idea of having King Kong. We couldn’t have an ape the size of a skyscraper that just wouldn’t work at all.
SCS: I think both King Kong and Godzilla, at the very least they would have to be built very differently than what we typically see as a lizard or a or a primate. They would definitely have to remodel their body shape in order to support that much weight.
AFP: So, if you’re big?—?you need lots of oxygen, a long life, and industrial-strength limbs. But if you want to survive, you also need to eat.
SCS: I mean, this is one of the things that worries me the most about Godzilla. If you just go into Tokyo and you start smashing things, at some point you get hungry. And as a carnivore that means you have to hunt. But all of the prey that are available are so tiny with respect to your size?—?and being big requires a lot of energy. The largest animal on the planet, the blue whale, it is still technically a carnivore. It spends its life eating krill, which are these small crustaceans. But a blue whale has to take in something like eight thousand pounds of food every single day. I have no idea how long it would take me to eat eith thousand pounds of food but every single day that’s what it has to do just to stay alive and keep swimming.
AFP: Right. You would have to eat a lot of bus loads full of people before you feel a little bit full.
SCS: Many, many busloads. yeah. [laughs]
(6) FOR COMICS GOURMANDS. Among the stacks of comics coming to Marvel Unlimited this month:
Thor Odinson. Steve Rogers. Tony Stark. The Big Three of the Avengers are reunited at last! And just in time to save the world from total annihilation at the hands of their most powerful enemies yet: the 2000-foot-tall space gods known as Celestials. Behold the coming of the Final Host. Who will answer the call to assemble for a wild new era of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Hint: one of them has a flaming skull for a head. And what strange, world-shaking connection exists between the Final Host and Odin’s ancient band of Prehistoric Avengers?
(7) ALL BRADBURY ALL THE TIME. Paul DiFilippo has reproduced Ray Bradbury’s 1984 “A Salute to Superman” at Theinferior4. Paul rightly says, “I doubt this has seen the light of day in 35 years.”
(8) CLI-FI NEWS. “Amazon launches climate change sci-fi series about ‘possible tomorrows’” – The Hill has the story.
Amazon Original Stories, an Amazon Publishing imprint, this week launched a sci-fi series about “possible tomorrows” in a United States ravaged by climate change.
The series, called “Warmer,” includes seven books that explore fictional stories about characters fighting to survive despite rising temperatures, floods, ice storms and rising sea levels.
“’Warmer’ is our first collection of topical fiction, an area where we plan to keep expanding next year with collections of socially-attuned suspense stories, tales of dating after #MeToo, and more,” Original Stories’ editorial director Julia Sommerfeld said in an interview with Publishing Perspectives.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
(10) COMICS SECTION.
(11) WHAT THEY HEAR. Something to keep in mind when you’re in New Zealand for the 2020 Worldcon –
Kiwi gold! https://t.co/EqO5f2HWSH
— John (@JohnAqel) November 2, 2018
(12) READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP. NASA has published a composite image of Bennu—the clearest look yet at the near-Earth asteroid that’s being visited in about a month. (Gizmodo: “NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Captures Stunning View of Asteroid Bennu Ahead of Arrival”). Even with the fancy processing, Bennu is still only about 100 pixels wide.
More than two years after its launch, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has beamed back what the space agency is calling a “super-resolution” view of the asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx is NASA’s exciting mission to near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu, which the spacecraft is set to reach in about a month, to collect and bring back a sample to help scientists better understand the origins of the Solar System.
The close-up of Bennu was created with a series of images taken on October 29 and shared by the space agency earlier this week. NASA used eight images snapped by the spacecraft from roughly 205 miles away to create a super-clear composite image.
“The spacecraft was moving as it captured the images with the PolyCam camera, and Bennu rotated 1.2 degrees during the nearly one minute that elapsed between the first and the last snapshot,” NASA said this week. “The team used a super-resolution algorithm to combine the eight images and produce a higher resolution view of the asteroid. Bennu occupies about 100 pixels and is oriented with its north pole at the top of the image.”
(13) PROFESSORS PHONING IT IN. BBC announces “‘Hologram’ lecturers to teach students at Imperial College London”.
Imperial will initially limit its use to its Business School’s activities but expects the technology could eventually become common.
“The alternative is to use video-conferencing software but we believe these holograms have a much greater sense of presence,” Dr David Lefevre, director of Imperial’s Edtech Lab, told the BBC.
(14) SWAG. Steven Hager registered at World Fantasy Con and took a photo of his free bag of books.
Alma Katsu gave a peek at what’s inside –
Huge bag of books in World Fantasy Con bag! Stay tuned for a giveaway#wfc2018 pic.twitter.com/8fF1ZG6QS3
— Alma Katsu (@almakatsu) November 2, 2018
(15) I’VE SEEN DEFACE BEFORE. Scott Edelman asks people to be on the lookout for the suspect –
(16) POST-APOCALYPTO. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The final episode of Post-Apocalypto, an explicit animated series from rock duo Tenacious D (Jack Black & Kyle Gass) has been released and with it the same-named album (Billboard: “Tenacious D Premiere Their Hilarious ‘Post-Apocalyptic’ Album: Listen”). The animated series is hand drawn by Black and “follows the hilarious antics of two friends, voiced by Black and Gass, after the world is destroyed by an atomic bomb.”
The new album brings listeners on a sonic journey through the series and features Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl on drums. Post-Apocalypto is the duo’s fourth LP and first release since 2012’s Rize of the Fenix.
Samples of all 21 tracks (some spoken dialog; some played/sung) of the album can be streamed at the Billboard article. Full disclosure: I tired the first few samples and didn’t much care for it, so I didn’t finish the samples. I also watched the first of the six animated episodes (“Hope”) and found it less than hilarious (eliciting a few mild chuckles at best). YMMV.
(17) X-NUMBER OF SHOPPING DAYS LEFT. Here’s a gift for the sff fans on your list: “Calamityware Mugs: Things Could Be Worse (Set of 4)”. (Artist Don Moyer has all kinds of appealing designs at Calamityware.)
No matter how bad your day is going, these beautiful porcelain mugs graciously remind you things could be much worse. You could also be chased by UFOs, pestered by pirates, or plagued by giant frogs.
One set of four identical 12-ounce (355 mL) porcelain mugs adorned with Don Moyer’s multi-calamity drawing. These mugs are made and decorated by the award-winning Kristoff Porcelain workshop in Poland using the traditional in-glaze technique. That means the image is slightly melted into the surface like the fine porcelain you see in museums.
…These porcelain mugs feature Don’s drawing of a traditional blue-willow paradise discombobulated by more than a dozen calamities, perils, and pests. You’ll find…
• hairy fiend
• giant frog
• unpleasant blob creature
• voracious sea monster
• agressive pterodactyls
• rambunctious robots
• zombie poodle
and other suspicious animals and shrubs.
(18) EXCLUSIVE CLUB. Your mission should you choose to accept it….
I would also like to welcome @RoanhorseBex, author of Trail of Lightning, to the small but elite cadre of writers w/'lightning' in their book titles, who now have to spend the rest of their careers explaining the difference between 'lightening' and 'lightning.' ? pic.twitter.com/FetocIElyy
— Rick Riordan (@camphalfblood) June 27, 2018
(19) A WARNING FROM SFWA.
Indie writers, we are hearing early rumors that the recent Bowker outage was due to a hacking incident. If you use Bowker, please be aware that your credit card and passwords may be compromised, and be cautious if you receive ransom emails — apparently they are bogus.
— Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (@sfwa) November 1, 2018
(20) SHADOW OF DEATH. Shadow puppets tell the story in a one-hour Frankenstein at Public Theater, January 3-12 in New York.
Love, loss, and creation merge in unexpected ways in this thrilling classic gothic tale conceived by Manual Cinema. Stories of Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein, and his Monster expose how the forces of family, community, and education shape personhood—or destroy it by their absence.
Internationally-renowned multimedia company Manual Cinema stitches together the classic story of FRANKENSTEIN with Mary Shelley’s own biography to create an unexpected story about the beauty and horror of creation. Manual Cinema combines handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive visual stories for stage and screen.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
(1) HUGO HISTORY BY WALTON. At Locus Online, “Gary K. Wolfe Reviews An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton”.
…So the value of Walton’s book – in some ways a companion piece to her other collection of Tor.com columns, What Makes This Book So Great – lies not in identifying such howlers – in fact, she concludes that Hugo voters got it more or less right some 69% of the time – but in the lively and opinionated discussions of the winners and losers, of which books have lasted and which haven’t, and why. Walton includes not only her original columns, but selections from the online comments, and the comments, especially from Locus contributors Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton, are so extensive and thoughtful as to make the book virtually a collaboration….
(2) A GENEROUS SPIRIT. Rachel Swirsky had a great experience at “an unusually good convention, with a lot of space and help for new writers” — “Open-Hearted Generosity at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference”.
The administrators established an atmosphere of open-hearted generosity which reflected through everyone. The agents and editors were eager to find new clients, and also to help nurture new ones. The professional writers treated the new ones like colleagues, not supplicants or intruders who would have to prove themselves worthy before being given respect. The new writers were excited and respectful of the professionals’ time and experience.
I think one thing that really helped foster the positive environment was the expectation that presenters join the attendees for meals and announcements. It got everyone used to being around each other, and reinforced that we were all in it together as people at that conference, sharing the goals of telling stories and making art.
Anyone can have a worthy story to tell. Everyone seemed to have a strong sense of that, and to respect it.
I think the administrators also chose carefully–and wisely–presenters whose native inclination is to come to new people with warmth. My experience of the colleagues I already knew who were there–Cat Rambo, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Nalo Hopkinson–bears that out. They’re all excellent teachers who are thoughtful and kind, and excited by teaching and learning. I can only aspire to match their generosity.
(3) ZICREE WINS INAUGURAL GOLDEN DRAGON. The Cardiff International Film Festival honored Space Command creator Marc “Mr. Sci-Fi” Zicree this past weekend. Wales 247 covered the festival’s award ceremony: “Winners announced for world class cinema in Cardiff”.
The highlights of the ceremony were the lifetime achievement award for Dame Sian Phillips and the naming of American science fiction writer and director Marc Zicree as the first recipient of a Golden Dragon award for excellence in cinema and the arts.
[Zicree said – ] …“The thing that’s wonderful about accepting this award here in Wales is that Elaine and I have received such a warm welcome here this weekend. My own writing career began as a teenager having watched The Prisoner television show, which was filmed in Portmeirion. So Wales is in part responsible for my career as a screenwriter.”
Marc Zicree and his wife Elaine, have sold over 100 teleplays, screenplays and pilots to every major studio and network, including landmark stories for such shows as Star Trek – The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, The New Twilight Zone, and Babylon Five. Their work has been nominated for the American Book Award, Humanitas Prize, Diane Thomas Award, and Hugo and Nebula Awards, and they’ve won the TV Guide Award, the prestigious Hamptons Prize and 2011 Rondo and Saturn Awards. Their new production, Space Command, premiered at the Cardiff International Film Festival.
(4) STONY END. James Davis Nicoll gives pointers on “How to Destroy Civilization and Not Be Boring”. For example —
Large eruptions like Toba 70,000 years ago or the Yellowstone eruption 640,000 years ago are very sexy: one big boom and half a continent is covered by ash. But why settle for such a brief, small-scale affair? Flood basalt events can last for a million years, each year as bad as or worse than the 18th century Laki eruption that killed a quarter of the human population in Iceland. Flood basalts resurface continental-sized regions to a depth of a kilometer, so it’s not that surprising that about half the flood basalts we know of are associated with extinction events. In terms of the effect on the world, it’s not unreasonable to compare it to a nuclear war. A nuclear war that lasts one million years.
N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series gives some idea what a world in the midst of the formation of a Large Igneous Province might be like.
(5) CARNEGIE MEDAL CONTENDERS. I’m easily spoiled. The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction 2019 Finalists were announced today. Last year, two of the three novels were of genre interest. This year, none, although Washington Black does include a trip in a hot air balloon. It’d be a shame to waste my research, though, so here’s the shortlist —
This evocative novel, equally rich in character and adventure, tells the wonderfully strange story of young George Washington Black who goes from Caribbean slavery to Arctic exploration, via hot-air balloon, to search for his mentor in London.
The Great Believers
Makkai’s ambitious novel explores the complexities of friendship, family, art, fear, and love in meticulously realized settings––WWI-era and present-day Paris, and 1980s Chicago––while insightfully and empathically illuminating the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
Orange’s symphonic tale spans miles and decades to encompass an intricate web of characters, all anticipating the upcoming Big Oakland Powwow. Orange lights a thrilling path through their stories, and leaves readers with a fascinating exploration of what it means to be an Urban Indian.
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
Readers accompany Cantú to parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as he recounts his years working for the U.S. Border Patrol. Remaining objective without moralizing, he shares a heart-wrenching, discussion-provoking perspective on how a border can tear apart families, lives, and a sense of justice.
Heavy: An American Memoir
In his artfully crafted and boldly revealing memoir, writing professor Laymon recalls the traumas of his Mississippi youth; the depthless hunger that elevated his weight; his obsessive, corrective regime of diet and exercise; his gambling, teaching, activism, and trust in the power of writing.
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
Macy’s years of reporting on the still-unfolding U.S. opioid crisis earned her remarkable access to people whose lives have been upended by these drugs. Hers is a timely, crucial, and many-faceted look at how we got here, giving voice to the far-reaching realities of the addicted and the people who care for them.
(6) CALL ME ISHMAEL. David Brin posted an entertaining collection of “Fabulous First Lines of Science Fiction”.
Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. – Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ, with guest appearance by Standback]
Guest birthday bio from Filer Standback:
(8) COMICS SECTION.
(9) BANDERSNATCH. See video of Diana Glyer’s talk at Vanguard University last evening here on Facebook. (Warning — the image looks sideways.)
(10) NEXT YEAR’S MYTHCON. Mythcon 50 has announced its dates — August 2-5, 2019, in San Diego, California.
Theme: Looking Back, Moving Forward
Our theme is a head-nod to Roman mythology’s Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, gates and doorways, transitions and passages and duality. So we are moving forward into the future while also, at least for this Mythcon, looking backward toward the place from where we’ve come.
(11) TIM MOONLIGHTS. Timothy the Talking Cat takes his show to Amazing Stories: “timTalk: Tonight’s Episode – Schroedinger’s Cat”.
TimTALK: Tonight’s Episode – Schrodinger’s Cat.
[Theme music fades out and the title fade out to reveal a small studio. Two cats sit in comfortable chairs with a coffee table between them. Timothy the Talking Cat (for it is he) is looking at the camera, while his guest sits opposite.]
Timothy the Talking Cat: Good evening, hello and welcome to another edition of timTALK where I, Timothy the Talking Cat, ask the tough question of the day of the great, the good and the feline. Tonight, I’m talking to one of the Twentieth Century’s most notable thought leaders. A cat who has done more for surprisingly cruel thought experiments in physics than any animal since Zeno made a tortoise race Achilles. I am, of course, talking to Schrödinger’s Cat.
[Timothy turns to his guest]
Good evening. You’ll be eighty-three years old this November, shouldn’t you be dead already?
Schrödinger’s Cat: Ha, ha, let me just say that reports of my death have been exaggerated. No, wait…they haven’t been exaggerated at all.
(12) OCTOCON REPORT. Sara (“Not Another Book Blogger”) has written up Octocon, the Irish National Convention, held last weekend in Dublin –
(13) RUINING FANDOM. free to fanfic purports to show “how web 2.0 (and especially tumblr) is ruining fandom”.
how does the structure of web 2.0 socmed harm fandom?
in aggregate: it forces fandom[$], a diverse space where people go to indulge niche interests and specific tastes, into overexposure to outsiders and to one another, and exacerbates the situation by removing all semi-private interaction spaces, all moderation tools, all content-limiting tools, and all abuse protection.
(14) SHORT ON SENSE OF WONDER. Abigail Nussbaum reviews “First Man” at Asking the Wrong Questions.
…I have to admit that I approached First Man in genuine puzzlement as to why it had even been attempted. 2016’s Hidden Figures, it seemed to me, provided a much better template for future fiction about the Apollo program, shining a light on little-known corners of the endeavor, and on the people who took part in it who were not white men. Why go back to Armstrong and Apollo 11, whose story has surely been covered from every possible angle?
First Man doesn’t really give you a satisfying answer to this question. It’s a fantastic piece of filmmaking, with some stunning visuals and set-pieces—particularly the long final sequence on the moon itself, though I couldn’t shake the sneaking suspicion that in shooting these scenes Chazelle was driven primarily by his crushing disappointment that none of the real moon landing footage is in HD. And there are moments in Josh Singer’s script where you can almost sense a unique approach to the material. Where, instead of Right Stuff hyper-competence, or even Apollo 13 improvisation, the film highlights the ricketiness of the edifice NASA built to take men into space, the flimsiness of the technology that Armstrong and his fellow astronauts trusted with their lives, and the danger and uncertainty they met when they left the earth’s atmosphere….
(15) WORLDS WITHOUT END. Mylifemybooksmyescape interviews Dave, administrator of the Worlds Without End sff book site.
DJ: Which feature or aspect of WorldsWithoutEnd.com do you actually like most/sets its apart from other sites in the community?
Dave: One of the things that we have tried to do is replicate the brick and mortar bookstore experience online. We have set up the site to be browse-able in a way that sites like Amazon or other online bookstores just aren’t. On those sites you go in already knowing what you want. You can’t really browse like you’re wandering around in a bookstore. On WWEnd we present you with shelves of books in different categories that you can easily browse through.
You might start off looking through the Nebula shelves for something to read. You spot a great looking cover, just like you might in a store, and click over to read about The Three-Body Problem. You read the synopsis, just as you would flip the book over to read the back blurb. Then you read the excerpt as if you held the book in your hands. Then you skim through the reviews to see what other folks are saying about that book as if there was someone else on the isle in the store you could talk to. Then you notice that the book is also on the WWEnd Most Read Books of All-Time list so you wander over there to see what else is on that shelf. Then you see an author like N. K. Jemisin that everyone is talking about so you click her name and see what’s on her shelf.
And as you go you’re tagging books to put them on your to-read list for later examination or marking the ones you’ve already read and slowly but surely the site is getting color-coded to your reading history — suddenly you realize you’re only six books away from reading all the Campbell Award winners. Or you find out that you haven’t read as many books by women as you thought you had. The experience is fun and intuitive and we provide an abundance of information so you can make more informed choices before you plunk down your hard-earned money.
(16) CLEANUP THE DEAD ON AISLE THREE. Gizmodo peeked behind the Wall Street Journal’s paywall and discovered “The Urban Legend About Scattering Human Ashes at Disney Is True, and It’s Worse Than We Thought”. There’s even a special code to call for cleanup.
The Journal report continues with more specific details:
Human ashes have been spread in flower beds, on bushes and on Magic Kingdom lawns; outside the park gates and during fireworks displays; on Pirates of the Caribbean and in the moat underneath the flying elephants of the Dumbo ride. Most frequently of all, according to custodians and park workers, they’ve been dispersed throughout the Haunted Mansion, the 49-year-old attraction featuring an eerie old estate full of imaginary ghosts.
“The Haunted Mansion probably has so much human ashes in it that it’s not even funny,” said one Disneyland custodian.
(17) PYTHON TRIBUTE. BBC finds that “Dutch ‘silly walks’ crossing is a hit”.
The people of Spijkenisse have taken to the idea with great enthusiasm, and filled social media with clips of pedestrians crossing with a variety of outlandish gaits.
Aloys Bijl was also on hand to show passers-by the 12 steps of the traditional John Cleese silly walk.
(18) JOHN WILLIAMS SICK. He’s had to miss an engagement — “John Williams: Composer pulls out of concerts due to illness”.
The 86-year-old had been due to appear with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday.
But the venue said he had pulled out because of a “last-minute illness”.
(19) CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE A BOOKSELLER. One moment he was a customer, the next moment…. “Dutchman’s ‘pure shock’ after winning Cardigan bookshop”
Paul Morris and his wife Leila, owners of Bookends in Cardigan, are giving their beloved bookshop away.
The couple will now fulfil a lifetime ambition by travelling the world.
The winner of that draw, Dutchman Ceisjan Van Heerden, known as CJ, will run the shop with his Icelandic friend Svaen Bjorn, 23, who he had never met….
When he told CJ, who is from Vrij Bij Duurstede and a “regular customer” at the bookshop, Paul said “there was a lot of silence” and he could tell he was “stunned”.
“It was pure shock initially,” said CJ. “Then I thought ‘this is an amazing opportunity, let’s do it’.”
But CJ did not want to run the shop alone and called around some of his friends, one of whom had already shown an interest.
CJ had known Svaen Bjorn, a 23-year-old from Reykjavik in Iceland, for eight years through online gaming but the pair had never met in person.
“He got back to me and said ‘yeah, let’s do it’,” CJ recalled ahead of the official handover on 5 November.
(20) SOMETHING NEW AT THE BAR. Unlike Pohl and Kornbluth (Gladiator-at-Law), J.K. Rowling’s work has put down roots in the legal profession: “Harry Potter to ‘inspire’ budding India lawyers”.
A top Indian law university in the eastern state of West Bengal has introduced a course based on the fictional world of Harry Potter.
The course uses the role of law in the series to draw parallels between the stories and real-life situations.
Professor Shouvik Kumar Guha, who designed it, says it is an “experiment” to “encourage creative thinking.”
Several universities in the US and at least one in the UK also offer courses inspired by the famous series.
The course in India, which is entitled “An interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling’s Potterverse”, is expected to include a total of 45 hours of discussion-based teachin
Some of the topics mentioned in the course module point out how social and class rights in India can be equated with the “enslavement of house-elves and the marginalisation of werewolves” in the fantasy series.
(21) ALT-FLIGHT. There was a strange addition to the commute in the San Fernando Valley yesterday…. (Although marked as a WWII German fighter, the plane was a vintage U.S. Army trainer.)
The pilot, who flies for Alaska Airlines, walked away from the crash with minor injuries, according to AP News.
He told KTLA in a previous interview that he was interested in vintage airplanes because his father had flown in World War II. The single-engine model that crashed was a North American Aviation T-6 Texan, which was first developed in the 1930s and used by U.S. pilots to train during World War II, according to AP News.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]
By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, May 1 – May Day – the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series hosted readings by fantasy writers Jo Walton and Ilana C. Myer at its venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café, down the road apiece and third star to the left from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
(Mayday indeed. The Series’ original plans for May Day, a tentatively scheduled celebration of the life of Ama Paterson, fell through, but the two replacement readers were no mere consolation prize. The evening was a delight.)
In his introductory welcome (he thought of the day more as Beltane than as May Day), executive curator Jim Freund, host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (which broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1-3 am), cautioned us that the event was being Livestreamed (so watch out) and asked all who could donate to donate (suggested amount $7), adding that WBAI (two floors above) was in a fundraising drive. He then announced upcoming events:
June, he noted, marks 10 years since Disch’s final reading for the Series, a bare month before his death. Feeley, aside from his credentials as author and critic, is the executor of Disch’s estate. Campbell’s anthology was described by Freund as “bleeping [sic] massive.” June’s event would close out the Series’ 27th Season, with July and August as its Summer Season. Concluding, Freund introduced the evening’s first reader.
Journalist and cultural critic and reviewer (as Ilana Teitelbaum) Ilana C. Myer is the author of the novels Last Song Before Night and Fire Dance. She read from Fire Dance, which she described as a stand-alone sequel to Last Song Before Night, and a blend of Celtic myth and Middle Eastern magic, where poets/musicians have mystical/mental powers.
During the intermission, as traditional, a raffle was held for donors; the prizes were a copy of Fire Dance (Jim Ryan drew the tickets and, as it happened, the winner was his wife Susan – no collusion, no collusion!) and a copy of Starlings. Afterward, Freund introduced the second and final reader.
Jo Walton has published thirteen novels, among others the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Among Others; her fourteenth, Lent, is due out from Tor soon. She has also just published Starlings, a collection of short stories, poetry and a play. Additionally, her blog posts about older sf have been collected in a volume called What Makes This Book So Great, while An Informal History of the Hugos collects her blog posts about nominees and winners from 1953 to 2000. Walton has said that her plan is to live to be ninety-nine and write a book every year; she noted that she has a good start this year.
With a mind to next month’s tribute to Disch, she began by reading her essay on his On Wings of Song from An Informal History of the Hugos. She described the work as “brilliant, depressing and hilarious … as if Dostoevsky and Douglas Adams had collaborated on the Great American Novel.” She then read an abundance of selections from Starlings, enlivened by her rich Welsh accent. (Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams may not like the birds, but she does.)
She began with the eponymous “Starlings,” a short serious poem, then shifted to the uproariously absurd “Remember the Allosaur,” in which Cedric, the titular theropod (he’s a clone), has had quite the Hollywood career, even winning an Oscar for his portrayal of Othello. In “Joyful and Triumphant: St. Zenobias and the Aliens,” a Christmas posting on LiveJournal, she addresses the question of what do people do in Heaven? There are a lot of planets out there, and human and alien saints, we are told, may manifest on each other’s world; the “lucky” ones don’t become patron saints, but are free to engage in “the Great Work,” worship. “At the Bottom of the Garden” was written when her son was that age. A little girl captures a fairy man and – well, Walton had “read one too many fairy flower books.”
In “Out of It,” a damned soul, John (as his wife’s name is Helen, we presume that his was originally Johann), is asked if his bargain with Mephistopheles (which has affected history for good and ill) was worth it or if he should renounce it. “Parable Lost” is a story that has “everything in the universe” – almost – and starts with a man (call him Adam) throwing jellyfish (which are and aren’t metaphorical) into the sea. Is he helping them or thwarting the Plan for them, and what should the woman (Eve) do?
“Dragon’s Song” was a poem about dragons as they appear in many ballads. She next turned to that modern incarnation of firebreathing dragons in her cycle of “Godzilla Sonnets”: “Godzilla vs. Shakespeare,” “Godzilla in Shakespeare,” “Godzilla Weeps for Baldur,” “Godzilla in Love” and “Godzilla at Colonus.” She concluded her readings with “Three Bears Norse,” the Goldilocks story retold as a Norse saga – the bears vow revenge against the despoiler of their home, beds and porridge.
Among those present in the audience of about 30 were Richard Bowes, Susan Bratisher, Madeline Flieger (video and tech ops), Amy Goldschlager, Karen Heuler, (House Manager) Barbara Krasnoff, John Kwok and James Ryan. Throughout the evening and following the readings, members of the audience availed themselves of the Café’s food, coffee bar, beer and wine. (Tip your barista!) As customary, the Jenna freebie table offered books.
By Dave Doering: One author commented: “LTUE is one of the best ‘secret’ cons for writers out there, if not the best.”
This quirky, professional development event scored a record attendance, topping 1500 this year, with over 220 hours of programming over its three non-traditional Thursday/Friday/Saturday schedule. Guests included headliners Jo Walton and Todd McCaffrey with Myke Cole (CBS Hunted), Susan Chang (Tor), Jessica Douglas, and Dave Farland as special guests.
Toastmaster Charlie N. Holmberg (whose Paper Magician is optioned by Disney for release on their upcoming streaming service) regaled the Banquet audience with tales from her life growing up geek and called on everyone to embrace your own weirdness–be “your own kind of weird”.
Fun moment: LTUE has a mass autograph party on Friday night (over 100 authors participate). This year the event coincided with a political rally upstairs for Mitt Romney’s bid for Utah’s Senate seat. The convention hall was littered with heavy police security–to protect the con or to protect the candidate?
The autograph line extended quite some ways, which led various political seekers to join the line thinking it was for the rally. Then one of the congoers got in the queue–with his long, purple beard. At that point, several people whispered that he didn’t look like a Romney supporter, and maybe this wasn’t the right line after all…
(Personally, I think Romney would have had a more exciting time at our party.)
Jo Walton celebrated the release of her new anthology, Starlings, from Tacyhon Press at LTUE. The custom cake is from The Mighty Baker shop in Provo–winner two years in a row on Cake Wars. (The uncut version really did look like a hardcover.) Various guests came by (including L.E. Modesitt) to enjoy the festivities.
The hotel has these 16-sided endtables. No way were we going to let this chance pass us by!
I had a blast with one of the props from the SF series Extinct.
Had a reunion of the more than 20 (!!) WotF winners from Utah area, including first husband/wife winners (Eric James Stone and his wife Darci won in separate years).
Supreme kudos to Jo Walton for joining us after traveling from Montreal to Provo via train–leaving Friday Feb 9 to reach us by Wednesday, Feb 14th (!!) and
Who is STILL ENROUTE as you read this until Thursday, the 22nd!!
Now that’s a guest!
Congratulations to Jo Walton, who won a 2017 Prix de l’Uchronie for the French translation of her novel My Real Children. All the winners were announced November 13 by ActuSF.
The award is given in three categories:
As explained at Europa SF:
“Uchronia” refers to a hypothetical or fictional time-period of our world, in contrast to altogether fictional lands or worlds.
A concept similar to alternate history but different in the manner that uchronic times are not easily defined (mainly placed in some distant or unspecified point before current times), sometimes reminiscent of a constructed world.
…“Uchronia” was coined by the French philosopher Charles Renouvier as the title of his 1876 novel.
The awards jury was composed of Éric Henriet, Président; Étienne Barillier; Bertrand Campeis, Secretary; Karine Gobled; Jean Rébillat; and Jean-Luc Rivera.
The awards will be presented at the Festival de l’Imaginaire de la ville in Sèvres, France in December.
[Via Locus Online.]
(1) STAR WARS TV SERIES COMING. Inverse was paying attention — “So, There’s a Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Television Show on the Way”. But it will only be available on Disney’s standalone streaming service.
Hidden in the weeds of Lucasfilm’s official announcement that Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will be developing a new standalone Star Wars trilogy was news of a live-action Star Wars television show.
… The only thing we do know about the as-yet-unnamed live-action Star Wars television show is that it’s a part of Disney’s upcoming streaming service. In 2019, Disney will pull all of its titles from Netflix and other streaming services to launch its own streaming platform, which will include this live-action Star Wars series as well as “four to five original movies a year.”
(2) SHE CAN AFFORD TO SCINTILLATE. That didn’t take long. Jo Walton’s Kickstarter to launch a new Montreal convention fully funded in nine hours and since then has blown past several stretch goals. Scintillation will be held in Montreal from October 5-7, 2018, with program by Walton, and takes the place of another con she used to do:
I stopped doing Farthing Party because every year I suffered agonies of anxiety that we wouldn’t have enough members to break even and I’d go into debt to the hotel. It also ate a lot of my time, and in 2014 I decided to stop and concentrate on writing and organizing smaller events with friends. Scintillation is going to be different. For one thing, it’s going to be funded (or not) by this Kickstarter. We’ll know how much money we have. If there isn’t enough interest and it doesn’t fund, we’ll know now and give up. For another, I have more help. I’ll still be doing program, but other people are going to be doing everything else, including the dreaded badge printing. So we can all have more fun.
Walton set a goal of $2,366 and has already raised $4,457.
(3) BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LETTER F. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, in “Business Musings: The People in Your Office”, says doing this is bad for a writer’s business – not that you had any doubts.
So, it happened again. A big name fantasy writer made his fans angry because the next book in his series hasn’t appeared in years. And, in a passing remark, he compared the comments fans make on his overdue book to those comments people make to their unemployed adult child about getting a job or to their single grandkid about getting married.
Patrick Rothfuss made the foolhardy decision to let a reporter shadow him all day and of course Rothfuss had an unguarded moment. He said, on the record,
“[The fans] don’t realize this is so wearying,” he said with a sigh when we spoke a few weeks ago. “It’s like asking, ‘When are you going to get married? When are you going to go to law school?’ It’s like, just fuck off. Just die. I don’t need any more of that in my life.”
It’s not a good plan to tell your fans to fuck off and die. Nor is it a good idea to tell them that their favorite author “is not your bitch” the way Neil Gaiman did for George R.R. Martin several years ago.
It’s especially not a good plan to tell the reporter who is also covering the fact that The Kingkiller Chronicle superfan Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame) will be the executive producer on a version of your series that’s going to be aired on Showtime in the next year or two.
But writers are who writers are. And most of them (most of us) spend our time alone in a room, making things up. Writers tend not to realize that their fans are people. Nor do some writers—especially newer writers who have fast success—realize that the only reason they’re going to be remembered as artists is if they have fans of their work.
(4) SEE ORIGNAL RUSS TEXT. This weekend at the Boston Book Fair Lloyd Currey and John Knott will be at booth 426 with several unique items will be on display, including an important manuscript by Joanna Russ.
Russ, Joanna. HOW TO SUPPRESS WOMEN’S WRITING [Nonfiction]. AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT (AMs). Rough draft handwritten on lined notebook paper, except for the three-page “Authors Note” which is typewritten (carbon copy), with Russ’s handwritten corrections. 245 leaves, most with footnotes written on the versos. The manuscript includes material that was not included in the published book. The book is a high point of feminist literary criticism, a witty and rigorous examination of the arguments used to marginalize and suppress writing by women historically and in the present, arguments that might easily be (and have been) adapted to any body of writing a dominant group might wish to marginalize. It is a work of enduring interest and application that might outlast even the best of this fine writer’s fiction. “A book of the most profound and original clarity. Like all clear-sighted people who look and see what has been much mystified and much lied about, Russ is quite excitingly subversive. The study of literature should never be the same again …” – Marge Piercy.” The book was published in 1983 by the University of Texas Press and remains in print, although the author did not live to grant permission for an electronic edition.
(5) THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. Doctor Science explains “Why I need maps in fantasy novels”:
For me, a map is a type of memory palace, linking up all kinds of information for easy retrieval. Without one, I don’t just feel lost, I feel *dumb* — because my memories are disorganized and harder to recall.
The novel that started me toward this realization is The Ruin of Angels, the sixth book in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence. Set in a complex world in which both gods and capitalism are real, the books have been mostly set in different cities, each with its own culture and gods/capitalism balance, where history, human minds, and the fabric of reality keep being re-written under pressure.
(6) ALSO KNOWN AS. Kim Huett tries to psyche out why the author picked that particular name: “Paul Linebarger – Cordwainer Smith: Pondering the Pseudonym”.
However Paul Linebarger chose his own pseudonym and given the care with which he wrote his stories I can’t imagine him applying anything less than the same degree of care to choosing a pen-name. In which case I think it reasonable to assume Linebarger chose Cordwainer Smith because it had some sort of significance to him. He wouldn’t be the first to do so, Robert Heinlein for example constructed the pen-name Lyle Monroe from his mother’s maiden name and a surname taken from one branch of her family.
In Linebarger’s case however just what that significance his chosen pen-name might have isn’t immediately apparent. As far as I’m aware Paul Linebarger never explained why he chose Cordwainer Smith and those words have no obvious connection to the man. But that’s alright because I have a theory (actually, I always have a theory, it’s my least endearing trait people tell me)….
(7) TOYS IN THE HALL. The 2017 National Toy Hall of Fame inductees were announced today:
The mystery has been solved! The simple, soaring paper airplane; game-changing Wiffle Ball; and murder-mystery favorite Clue today became the latest inductees to The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame. The honorees were selected from a field of 12 finalists that also included: Magic 8 Ball, Matchbox Cars, My Little Pony, PEZ Candy Dispenser, play food, Risk, sand, Transformers, and Uno.
About paper airplane: Artist and inventor Leonardo DaVinci sketched and designed flying creations using parchment in the 15th century. Later, in the early 19th century, Sir George Cayley identified four primary forces—lift, drag, weight, and thrust—which eventually helped the Wright Brothers first take flight in 1903. These defining moments helped lead to the purported invention of the paper airplane in 1909—but its exact origin is unclear. Experts can agree that the principles that make an airplane fly are the same that govern paper versions. Paper’s high strength and density make it similar, scale wise, to the materials out of which actual airplanes are constructed.
“Where some toys require financial investment, paper airplanes start with a simple sheet of paper, coupled with creativity and dexterity, to produce a toy with infinite aeronautical possibilities,” says Christopher Bensch, The Strong’s vice president for collections. “They allow the imagination to takeoff and soar!”
About Wiffle Ball: A retired semi-pro baseball player in 1950s suburban Connecticut noticed that his son and friend could not play a game of baseball in the cramped space of their backyard (especially without breaking any windows). He began cutting holes in spherical plastic containers and gave them to his son for testing, eventually developing a ball with eight oblong slots that allowed the ball to grab air, thus diverting its trajectory. With it, a pitcher could easily throw a curve, a slider, or a knuckle ball. The Wiffle Ball slowed the game, shrunk the playing field, and made it conducive to post World War II-suburbia. The family-owned Wiffle Ball Inc. opened in Connecticut and established rules for the game of Wiffle Ball. Soon, it was producing millions of Wiffle Balls each year and it continues to do so.
“The Wiffle Ball changed the outdoor play landscape, taking the basics of backyard baseball and transforming it into something easier for neighborhood kids to negotiate. In the more than 60 years since its introduction, generations of Little League, high school, college, and pro sluggers have begun their baseball careers swinging at a Wiffle Ball,” says Curator Michelle Parnett-Dwyer.
About Clue: A British couple designed Clue during World War II and based it on the murder-mystery dinner parties popular around that time. They patented the game in 1944 and successfully pitched it to Waddington Games, but material shortages kept it out of production for several years. Then, in 1949, Waddingtons released it under the name “Cluedo.” Gaming giant Parker Brothers purchased the rights and released it in America under the name “Clue” shortly thereafter. The game—in which players must deduce with available evidence the murderer of the luckless Mr. Boddy—became a quick success. It remains one of the top 10 best-selling games of all time.
(8) NO SPACE MARINES. CNN reports “Lawmakers scrap ‘Space Corps’ proposal”.
Congressional negotiators have rejected the House’s plan to create a new “Space Corps” — omitting the proposal for a new military branch under the umbrella of the Air Force from the final version of a nearly $700 billion bipartisan defense policy bill called the National Defense Authorization Act.
Despite support from House Armed Services Committee leaders — including chairman Mac Thornberry — the Space Corps proposal will not be included in the final NDAA for fiscal year 2018. Though the bill does contain language directing further long-term study of the issue, according to senior staff for both armed service committees, who briefed reporters on the contents of the bill Wednesday.
The proposal, which was included in the House’s National Defense Authorization Act, would have set up a Space Corps in the mold of the Marine Corps, which is a separate military branch that’s housed within the Navy.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) CASTLES IN THE TEAR. Jamie Hannigan keeps busy in a way that might make some booklovers cringe: “I Make Game Of Thrones Sculptures Using The Books From The Series”.
I make sculptures out of the pages of used books. Each piece depicts what the book is about in some way. I decided to do a series of places in the Game of Thrones universe, as shown on the show’s intro sequence. Each sculpture takes somewhere from 10- 20 hours to make.
The series is not yet complete. I’m working on another piece now (Dorne) and I have several more planned out. You can see additional views of the GoT pieces, as well as my other work on my website.
More info: jamiebhannigan.com
The artist also has a series of paper sculptures of Harry Potter, Moby Dick and Don Quixote.
(11) THANKS. Entertainment Weekly describes how “Deadpool 2 poster brings the family (and Cable) back together”.
The foulmouthed, R-rated, unicorn-loving, Francis-stalking, fourth wall-breaking Marvel family is getting back together in the new poster for Deadpool 2. After debuting on Collider, franchise star Ryan Reynolds released the one-sheet, which spoofs the famous “Freedom From Want” painting by Norman Rockwell.
Our favorite Merc with the Mouth, presenting a Thanksgiving turkey, is seen standing beside Josh Brolin’s time-traveling psychic mutant Cable, while Dopinder (Karan Soni), Vanessa (Morena Boccarin), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), newcomer mutant Domino (Zazie Beetz), Weasel (T.J. Miller), and Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) sit around the dinner table.
Thanksgiving in our house is a glorious, non-stop car accident set to the music of cocaine. pic.twitter.com/ngCdgtpgct
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) November 9, 2017
(12) CATCH OF THE DAY. As it says in the photo caption, “Nasty big pointy teeth.” — “Portuguese trawler nets ‘prehistoric shark'”.
Portuguese scientists have captured a “shark from the age of the dinosaurs” off the Algarve coast.
Researchers caught the rare frilled shark aboard a trawler, where they were working on a European Union project to “minimise unwanted catches in commercial fishing”, Sic Noticias TV reports.
The scientists from the country’s Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere dubbed the shark a “living fossil” because remains have been dated back 80 million years, making it one of very few species of such antiquity still around today.
The Institute said the male fish measured 1.5 metres (5ft) in length and was caught at a depth of 700 metres (2,300 ft) in waters off the resort of Portimao.
…It is rarely caught, and even then examples do not often make it to research laboratories. There is also little footage of the shark in its natural habitat.
(13) HERE KITTY KITTY. Roman SJW credentials under threat: “The cats who rule Rome”. (video)
It’s well known that the Romans love their cats – so much so that they have designated the felines as a biocultural heritage of the city. But how much longer will this last?
(14) DIVERSE COMICS. And speaking of…. Barry Deutsch criticizes those who seem to believe in insisting that everyone else enjoy things in the same way as they do. The Twitter thread begins here —
1. Why are right-wing nerds invariably so stupid about art? It's not just Brad; it's impossible to read the comicsgate people, for example, without noticing that they don't know a thing about comics. Similar is true of the sad puppies in science fiction. https://t.co/icywwSlkWG
— Barry Makes Comics (@barrydeutsch) November 10, 2017
(15) FORGOTTEN EARLY MAN. Can’t remember if I ran this already, so let’s err on the side of not missing it –
(16) NEXT PIXAR FLICK. Disney’s Coco, final official trailer. The movie hits theaters November 22.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) SECOND BITE OF THE APPLE. Steve Davidson left a comment telling File 770 readers about a turnaround in Amazing Stories’ situation with NBC since yesterday’s social media offensive:
Folks, I am officially “in discussions for a resolution” with NBC.
This was a DIRECT result of the tweeting and commenting that took place all of yesterday:
Specifically, NBC’s attorney requested that my attorney ask me to “stop tweeting” because certain people and certain giant corporations were “very upset”.
I had my doubts that my yelling about a toe stepped on would bring results, but in fact it took less than 12 hours for the story to get picked up and, while I have complied with the request (seeing as how we are talking again), the ripples are still going, so people on the west coast are going to continue to experience upset for a bit longer.
We’re very close to an agreement…very close..but not quite there yet.
I’m hoping we will finalize things today – 10-12.
I’m sure that an association with “Spielberg” and “Apple Inc” gave this story traction, but it would not have gone anywhere if fans didn’t pick it up and run with it. I think we can count this as a minor example of the “Star Trek” effect.
(2)THE PAST THROUGH YESTERDAY. Jo Walton has updated her “Revisiting the Hugo Awards” at Tor.com with a post on the newly-discovered 1956 Finalists: “Revisiting the Recently Rediscovered 1956 Hugo Awards Ballot”.
When I wrote my post in 2010 about the Hugos of 1956, the nominees for that year were lost in the mists of time. Last month they were found again, by Olav Rokne in an old Progress Report, which is very exciting, because it gives me the chance to compare what I thought they might be to what they really were. It’s great to be wrong, and goodness me I was wrong!…
(3) THE YOUNG AND THE RUTHLESS. For the newest installment of Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll unleashed his panel on “The Women Men Don’t See” by James Tiptree, Jr.
The story was not a hit with Jamie –
This was weird and slow and racist. Also sexist. The whole thing was uninteresting in general, the pacing was glacial, and the main character was a maddeningly horrible person who can seemingly only thnk about sex and whose first thought upon meeting aliens was to attack them and steal their stuff.
(4) REDDIT AMA. Two genre figures participated in Reddit “Ask Me Anything” sessions today.
G. WILLOW WILSON: Oh my God. It took Sana and I NINE MONTHS to settle on this power set. It was by far the most difficult part of the planning phase. Marvel came to me with a total tabula rasa–they wanted to do an all-ages series about an American Muslim girl (the idea was inspired by Sana’s own stories about her childhood) but this character had no name, no background, no power set, no nothing. I didn’t want her to have pretty powers–no sparkling, no floating in the air, no “I have a headache” telepathy. So that ruled some things out. And giving her violent powers–your laser beams, your plasma bolts–would be read as a political statement. (This is a whole ‘nother AMA.) So we had to get very creative. It had to be something useful and adaptive and fun to look at on the page. Getting to this specific variety of polymorphism took quite awhile.
GARDNER DOZOIS: For writing short fiction, my advice would be to immediately start with an interesting character in an interesting situation faced with a problem, rather than starting with landscape descriptions or details about how the society works. It’s hardwired in us to want to know what happens to that character NEXT, once you’ve involved us with them.
No real horror stories about fans sending me things, although I did once open a slush manuscript and had a big cardboard finger sprong up out of it, giving me the bird. A writer so certain his story was going to be rejected that he was taking his revenge in advance.
(5) COME CELEBRATE. Here’s a video of Pulphouse mascot Stomper doing a cartwheel to celebrate hitting their Kickstarter’s $15,000 stretch goal:
(6) BRADBURY RE-EULOGIZED. Paris Review ran Margaret Atwood’s “Voyage to the Otherworld: A New Eulogy for Ray Bradbury” in August.
This original essay by Margaret Atwood was composed specifically for the re-release of Sam Weller’s interview book companion to his authorized biography of Ray Bradbury. Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, in a new hardcover deluxe edition, will be released this October by Hat & Beard Press in Los Angeles.
… What Sam and I were discussing was the launch of the collection, which was to be published by HarperCollins, and was to be called Shadow Show—from the 1962 Bradbury novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Ray himself had written an introduction, and it was hoped that he could be present at the grand celebration that was to take place at Comic-Con—the vast gathering of graphic artists, comics writers, and their fans, plus related enterprises and genres—that was slated for San Diego in mid-July. Five of us were going to do a Bradbury panel there: Sam, Mort Castle, Joe Hill, me, and Ray himself.
But Ray had been feeling a little frail, said Sam; it was possible he might not make it. In that case, the four of us would do the panel, and Sam and I would visit Ray in his home, webcast him to the world, connect him with his fans, and ask him to sign some covers of the book for them on the Fanado.com website I’d been involved in developing. Ray was keen to do it, said Sam, despite his qualified distrust of the Internet. His enthusiasm for his many devoted readers and his fellow writers never waned, and if using the questionable Internet was the method of last resort, then that is what he would do.
I was greatly looking forward to meeting a writer who had been ?so much a part of my own early reading, especially the delicious, clandestine reading done avidly in lieu of homework, and the compulsive reading done at night with a flashlight when I ought to have been sleeping. Stories read with such enthusiasm at such a young age are not so much read as inhaled. They sink all the way in and all the way down, and they stay with you.
But then Ray Bradbury died. He was ninety-one, but still….
(7) RIGHTS OF FAN. The Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor covered Steve Davidson’s side of the trademark dispute on Wednesday — “‘Amazing Stories’ trademark owner says Spielberg, Apple proposal ignored him”.
…Davidson said he’d always had dreams of doing more with the name, and he said he signed a contract with NBC in 2015 giving the company rights to option the “Amazing Stories” name.
His plan was to use the money to expand the online magazine, which he said now has “upward of about 4,000 unique views a day,” paying for one piece of new fiction every week, then bundling it all at the end of each quarter into print-on-demand and electronic editions.
However, he said Wednesday that NBC never paid him, leading him to file a notice of breach of contract and termination of the contract in May. He said he and NBC have recently reopened discussions, but Tuesday’s news changed his opinion.
“I don’t want to have anything to do with NBC,” he said. “I want the notice of breach and termination to be put into effect – they have no rights – so I can go out and do what I need to do.”
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(9) KEEPING THE PUN IN PUNCHEON. Crave interviews the author of a stfnal bartending guide — “New Book Unites Cocktail Drinkers and Sci-Fi Fans”.
Alcohol and sci-fi movies are two of Andy Heidel’s favorite things. In his new book The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy, the owner of Brooklyn bar The Way Station brings both his passions together in over 100 out-of-this-world cocktails. Pop culture touchstones like Back to the Future, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Game of Thrones become imbibe-able through his pun-derful recipes. Heidel makes it easy to play mixologist at home with just a few ingredients, minimal accouterments, and easy instructions. He also slips in a few “Heidel Hints” so booze-drinking rookies don’t embarrass themselves at the bar. Comic illustrations throughout make this a visually intoxicating read as well.
(10) WHERE’S YOUR TOWEL? SF Site News carried a report that a sixth series of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will be broadcast next year, using a combination of the original radio and the television casts. According to the Telegraph, the new series will air in on BBC Radio 4 in 2018.
The series is to be based on Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer’s spin-off novel And Another Thing…, but will also include previously unpublished material by original writer Douglas Adams, who died in 2001.
Simon Jones is to reprise his starring role as Arthur Dent, the mild-mannered Englishman who finds himself dragged across the universe, after the Earth is destroyed to make way for an intergalactic bypass.
Other returning cast members include Geoff McGivern as Ford Prefect, a travel writer for the titular guide, Mark Wing-Davey as two-headed alien Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Sandra Dickinson as astrophysicist Trillian. Jane Horrocks is to guest-star as Arthur’s love-interest, Fenchurch.
(11) UNMANNED FOOD TRUCK. Subtler bodega-killers? BBC’s The Disruptors covers potential changes to shopping in ”How May I Help You?”
Imagine you’re in a crowd pouring out of a late night concert. Tired and hungry, you remember the cupboards at home are bare. Do not despair.
In the brave new world of retail this won’t necessitate a trek out to the nearest late night supermarket. Instead the shop can come to you.
With the touch of an app button, you hail a low-slung electric vehicle, like a glass-sided motorhome, which quietly glides into a parking space near you.
You enter the shop by swiping your mobile phone at the door, pick up your wares and swipe out again. There’s no cashier or sales assistant, and no-one to clean up if you drop a carton of milk on your toe.
(12) A WAY TO MAKE A BUCK-BUCK. What an eggs-ellent idea — “How chicken feathers could warm our homes”.
Where there are people, there are chickens. Pretty much every country on Earth has poultry or their eggs on the menu.
So, from Norway to New Zealand, and Cuba to Cambodia, chickens root around even the most isolated settlements, and fill giant farms in their thousands.
One result of a huge chicken population is a huge amount of chicken feathers, which are normally burned or taken to landfill, polluting the environment.
Ryan Robinson, a biology graduate from Imperial College London, is one of a duo that believes it might have come up with a different solution for this feathery waste.
Along with designer Elena Dieckmann, Robinson has discovered a way to turn feathers into an insulating material for buildings or a packing material for food or medicine.
(13) VERDANT VERTICALS. Not the Jetsons’ future: “Why Milan is covering its skyscrapers in plants” – there’s a gallery at the link.
(14) DIRTY BIRDS. After dendrochronology, ornithochronology? “‘Sooty birds’ reveal hidden US air pollution”.
…Cities were soon coated in sooty air thanks to the unregulated burning of coal in homes and factories.
While the huge impact of black carbon on the health of people living in urban centres has been recognised for decades, it is only in recent years that scientists have understood the role it plays climate change.
When it is suspended in the air, the substance absorbs sunlight and increases warming in the atmosphere.
When it hits the ground it increases melting of snow and ice, and has been linked to the loss of ice in the Arctic region.
US researchers have struggled to find accurate records of the amount of black carbon that was emitted in the manufacturing belt of the US, around Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh at the end of the 19th century.
This new study takes an unusual approach to working out the scale of soot coming from this part of the US over the last 100 years.
The scientists trawled through natural history collections in museums in the region and measured evidence of black carbon, trapped in the feathers and wings of songbirds as they flew through the smoky air….
(15) A VR PR DISASTER. Is that Facebook or Facepalm? “Virtual Zuck fails to connect”.
It must have seemed like a good idea. As a taster for a big announcement about Oculus VR on Wednesday, send Mark Zuckerberg on a little virtual reality trip, including a stop in Puerto Rico.
But the reviews are in – and they are not good.
The sight of Mr Zuckerberg using VR to survey the devastation of an island still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria may have been meant to convey Facebook’s empathy with the victims.
The fact that he was there in the form of a cartoon seemed to many the perfect visual metaphor for the gulf in understanding between Silicon Valley and the real world.
Sure, he was talking about all the activities which his company had initiated to help the island, from helping people tell their families they were ok using Safety Check to sending Facebook employees to help restore connectivity.
But cartoon Zuck showing us a 360 degree view of a flooded street before zipping back to a virtual California just seemed a little, well, crass. Is Facebook really concerned about the plight of Puerto Rico, or is it merely a handy backdrop to promote Oculus, whose sales have so far proved disappointing?
(16) HE’S GOT IT COVERED. From the “news to me” archives, a Doctor Who fan performing a rather formidable challenge on British TV game show You Bet!
— Pip (@pipmadeley) October 1, 2017
[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]