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) A CLOCKWORK REWIND. After Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World (1932), he wrote a book of essays about issues raised in the novel, Brave New World Revisited (1958). Anthony Burgess planned to do the same for his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962) in A Clockwork Condition. Burgess evidently decided he was a better novelist than a philosopher and never published his 200-page typescript, which now has been rediscovered by The Anthony Burgess Foundation: “Unseen Clockwork Orange ‘follow-up’ by Anthony Burgess unearthed”.
A previously unseen manuscript for a follow-up to writer Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange has been unearthed in his archive.
A Clockwork Condition, which runs to 200 pages, is a collection of Burgess’ thoughts on the human condition and develops the themes from his 1962 book.
The novel told the story of the state’s attempt to cure a teenage delinquent.
The unfinished non-fiction follow-up is described as “part philosophical reflection and part autobiography”….
He then published a short autobiographical novel tackling some of the same themes, The Clockwork Testament, in 1974.
On Friday, the Design Museum in London launches a major Stanley Kubrick exhibition, which will include material from his Clockwork Orange film.
(2) COSPLAY: A HISTORY. Andrew Liptak has one on the way to the press says SYFY Wire. “First Look: Cosplay expert Andrew Liptak examines fandom fashion in Cosplay: A History”.
Inspiration to craft this upcoming book came from his interest in the history of the 501st Legion. At the same time, he was working closely with The Verge colleague Bryan Bishop and realized that costumers working today occupy a fascinating place between the intersection of fandom, entertainment, and technology.
Liptak’s own press release says –
Seth Fishman at the Gernert Company brokered the deal with Joe Monti of Saga Press. The initial goal as it stands right now is to have it turned in by next March, with it to hit stores in 2021. I’ll be doing quite a bit of research and writing in the coming months, and expect to see more about cosplay as I write.
The book is going to cover the broad history of cosplay and the state of the field. I’m looking at a lot of things: renaissance fairs, masquerade balls at science fiction conventions, groups like the 501st Legion, 405th Infantry Division, historical reenactors, protestors, and more.
The goal is to talk about why people dress up in costumes, and how they interact with the story that they’re reimagining. It’s a wonderful popular culture phenomenon, and there’s a lot to delve into with the intersections of fandom, the making and entertainment communities, and technology.
(3) SWAMP THING TEASER. A new original series DC Universe Swamp Thing premieres May 31.
SWAMP THING follows Abby Arcane as she investigates what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus in a small town in Louisiana but soon discovers that the swamp holds mystical and terrifying secrets. When unexplainable and chilling horrors emerge from the murky marsh, no one is safe. Based on the DC characters originally written and drawn by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.
(4) SF CONCATENATION. The summer edition of the SF2 Concatenation is now up, with its seasonal summary of SF news as well as a survey of the primary research journals, for science philes, plus forthcoming SF/F and non-fiction book releases from the major British Isles SF imprints.
And the regular articles include film charts and Gaia for this season, another in the series of scientist-turned-SF-authors inspiring scientists, a swathe of standalone fiction and non-fiction reviews. The next seasonal edition will appear in September.
(5) PACKET ITEM AVAILABLE. Bogi Takács has released eir Hugo Voter’s Packet for Best Fan Writer – the material is at this link: “Hugo award voter packet 2019 (works from 2018)”.
I successfully produced my Hugo award voter packet! ….I hope. It features some highlights from 2018, but I had a lot more stuff in 2018, so please feel free to browse around.
The packet only has reviews and other forms of fan writing, because it is for the Fan Writer category. So no original fiction or poetry!…
(6) TICKETS TO RIDE. There’s an Omaze fundraiser for The Planetary Society — “Win a One-of-a-Kind 1958 VW® Bug Powered by Tesla® Batteries”. Buy tickets for a chance to win at the link.
(7) NICK TREK. The Hollywood Reporter informs fans — “‘Star Trek’ Animated Series Gets Green Light at Nickelodeon”.
The cable network has given a series order to an animated Trek show from Emmy-winning writers Kevin and Dan Hageman and Star Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman. The untitled, CG-animated series will follow a group of teenagers who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation.
(8) MORE ON MCINTYRE. Kate Schaefer sent a roundup of time-sensitive Vonda McIntyre news.
Vonda N. McIntyre’s memorial will be held Sunday afternoon on June 9 at The Mountaineers Goodman Auditorium at 7700 Sand Point Way NE in Seattle, Washington.
Doors will open at 1:45, an event will start at 2:30, and the memorial will end at 4:30pm.
After short introductory remarks, we’ll have a microphone to pass around so that folks can share brief reminiscences of Vonda.
Further information about the memorial will be posted on Vonda’s CaringBridge page at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/vondanmcintyre/journal.
Also — Jeanne Gomoll and Stephanie Ann Smith are still collecting memories of Vonda for a tribute book to be distributed both as a free electronic document and as a print-on-demand physical book. Send your memories to Jeanne at firstname.lastname@example.org before May 11.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
(10) ACONYTE. Asmodee is a leading global games publisher and distributor. Its game brands include Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Arkham Horror, and Legend of the Five Rings. More recent hits have included the innovative fantasy card game KeyForge and the co-operative zombie survival missions of Dead of Winter.
Asmodee Entertainment has created their own fiction imprint — Aconyte, it will be publishing novels based on many of Asmodee’s best game properties. Aconyte are also actively pursuing licenses for third-party tie-in fiction, with the first of these at the contract stage. Aconyte will start a monthly publication schedule from early summer 2020, producing paperbacks and ebooks for the US, UK and export trade.
To helm the imprint, Asmodee has appointed Marc Gascoigne, lately publisher & MD of award-winning global scifi imprint Angry Robot. He’s hired assistant editor, Lottie Llewelyn-Wells, and publishing coordinator, Nick Tyler, to join him in new offices in Nottingham.
(11) PEAK GEEK. Vox suspects “Geek culture may never again be as all-consuming as it is right now”. “Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones make this moment feel like a series finale for geek pop culture too.”
…But if this moment in pop culture started around 10 years ago, it’s coming to some sort of peak now, as two massively beloved pop culture properties reach endpoints. And there’s a definite finality to it. Here’s the curious thing about this moment: So much of this geek culture apotheosis revolves around the question of which of our favorite fictional characters are going to die. Call it geekpocalypse now….
(12) PAST ITS PEAK. From Wisecrack — “Harry Potter & The Plague of Twitter: Why JK Rowling Should Leave Harry Alone.”
JK Rowling has been regularly updating the Harry Potter lore; not through more books, not through movies, but through twitter. Fans voraciously consume extra-textual canon on works like Harry Potter, Star Wars and much more. But does this desire for an all-encompassing knowledge of how fictional worlds tell us something about our own anxieties? In this Wisecrack Edition, we’ll dive in to the works of philosopher Martin Heidegger to discover why people are so consumed by the desire to understand the nitty gritty details of fictional worlds, and to how it reflects an essential element of our humanity.
(13) SHELVES FULL OF BOOKS. Laura Lee expounds on “Women’s Bookshelves and Clutter”.
I don’t have strong feelings about Marie Kondo and her theories of decluttering. I know a number of people who have found her “does this object spark joy” way of relating to stuff to be meaningful and if feeling overwhelmed by too many possessions is an issue for you then it might be just what the doctor ordered. I have no problem with Kondo giving this advice, take it or leave it…
I did, however, have some opinions on the Electric Lit article defending Kondo and decrying “bookishness.” The background is that in an episode of Kondo’s TV series she suggested that people get rid of books that do not “spark joy” and book lovers began to write think pieces about whether or not books are clutter. Some people had strong feelings on the subject.
Book buying, and book writing, have long been feminine activities. As I have pointed out here a number of times, in Victorian England female authors outsold their male counterparts, but their works were not deemed worthy of serious study and the memory of many once influential women has not found its way down to us. (A number of scholars are now trying to recover these “lost” works and bring them to our attention.) Books by women or which women appreciated have consistently been written off as fluffy, sentimental, non-intellectual and unimportant. If Egginton is correct, women were not only major consumers of popular literature, they were also creating “serious” libraries and archives to rival men’s, but their efforts, like their books, were denigrated.
It is interesting then to see a feminist writer contrasting the masculine “highly discriminating form of curated library collection” with the feminine “highly personalized, almost fannish, engagement with books.” Then following this with an argument that the feminized form of consumption led to the emotional engagement with middlebrow literature that book blogs now celebrate.
…Is it at all possible a century of being judged by the cleanliness of their homes, being told that this was more important than their intellects, and that their taste in literature is trivial might have colored their reactions to an authority suggesting their books might be clutter?
(14) COMING TO A BOIL. Here’s the new poster for GeyserCon, the 40th New Zealand National Convention happening in another six weeks:
(15) OUR MARCHING ORDERS. In “Timothy’s Hugo Picks”, Timothy the Talking Cat’s recommendations bear all the marks of a slate – because he put them there.
I’m going to come right out and say it: this is a slate. Vote for each of these in this order or else.
(16) NEUTRON LONGEVITY. Nature reports “Physicists close in on neutron puzzle” [PDF file].
Physicists are drawing nearer to answering a long-standing mystery of the Universe: how long a neutron lives. Neutrons are electrically neutral particles the nucleus of atoms.
Some neutrons are not bound up in atoms; these free-floating neutrons decay radioactively into other particles in minutes. But physicists can’t agree on precisely how long it takes a neutron to die. Using one laboratory approach, they measure the average neutron lifetime as 14 minutes 39 seconds. Using a different approach, they get 8 seconds longer!
Pinpointing the lifetime of a neutron is important for understanding how much hydrogen, helium and other light elements formed in the first few minutes after the Universe was born 13.8 billion years ago.
(17) BEEN TO SEE THE DRAGON. Doctor Science is right, there aren’t too many eyewitness accounts like this — “A first-hand description of a dragon”.
The observations were made by the Chinese scholar Xie Zhaozhe (1567–1624)…
Obviously this account is extremely useful for writers of fantasy and science fiction. I don’t know if the (vast) Chinese literature contains any other first-person accounts of dragons, much less ones recorded by such a careful and specific observer. I’m pretty sure there are no good first-person descriptions from the other end of Eurasia.
Then there’s the question of what Xie Zhaozhe “actually” saw….
(18) BEHIND THE SCENES WITH HALDEMAN. The Partially Examined Life podcast talks to one of the field’s greats: “Constellary Tales #7: Interview with Author Joe Haldeman”.
SFWA Grand Master Joe Haldeman takes Brian and Ken behind the scenes of his storied career in an exclusive interview. Among other conversation topics…
(19) MAD, I TELL YOU. A TED-Ed presentation written and narrated by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: “Titan of terror: the dark imagination of H.P. Lovecraft.”
Dive into the stories of horror savant H.P. Lovecraft, whose fantastical tales, such as “The Call of Cthulhu,” created a new era of Gothic horror
Arcane books of forbidden lore, disturbing secrets in the family bloodline, and terrors so unspeakable the very thought of them might drive you mad. These have become standard elements in modern horror stories. But they were largely popularized by a single author: H.P. Lovecraft, whose name has become synonymous with the terror he inspired. Silvia Moreno-García dissects the “Lovecraftian” legacy.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Liptak, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, JJ, Mlex, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Doctor Science, Alan Baumler, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(1) HERE’S ONE ROLE YOU CAN’T PLAY AT RPG.NET. The RPG.net Forum Administrator has declared a “New Ban: Do Not Post In Support of Trump or his Administration”.
The following policy announcement is the result of over a year of serious debate by the moderation team. The decision is as close to unanimous as we ever get. It will not be the subject of further debate. We have fully considered the downsides and ultimately decided we have to stay true to our values. We will not pretend that evil isn’t evil, or that it becomes a legitimate difference of political opinion if you put a suit and tie on it.
We are banning support of Donald Trump or his administration on the RPGnet forums. This is because his public comments, policies, and the makeup of his administration are so wholly incompatible with our values that formal political neutrality is not tenable. We can be welcoming to (for example) persons of every ethnicity who want to talk about games, or we can allow support for open white supremacy. Not both. Below will be an outline of the policy and a very incomplete set of citations.
We have a community here that we’ve built carefully over time, and support for elected hate groups aren’t welcome here. We can’t save the world, but we can protect and care for the small patch that is this board.
1. We are banning support of the administration of President Trump. You can still post on RPG.net even if you do in fact support the administration — you just can’t talk about it here.
2. We are absolutely not endorsing the Democrats nor are we banning all Republicans.
3. We are certainly not banning conservative politics, or anything on the spectrum of reasonable political viewpoints. We assert that hate groups and intolerance are categorically different from other types of political positions, and that confusing the two legitimizes bigotry and hatred.
4. We are not going to have a purge — we will not be banning people for past support. Though if your profile picture is yourself in a MAGA hat, this might be a good time to change it.
5. We will not permit witch-hunts, progressive loyalty-testing, or attempting to bait another into admitting support for President Trump in order to get them banned. The mod staff will deal harshly with attempts to weaponize this policy.
6. It is not open season on conservatives, and revenge fantasies against Trump and Trump supporters are still against the rules.
There is a lot of reaction on Twitter. My favorite is:
It's as they say, when you lose the scheming Machiavellian dungeon masters that try to kill you and your party in every way possible, you've truly crossed a line.
— John Harris (@rodneylives) October 29, 2018
Bounding Into Comics’ John F. Trent says it’s hypocrisy: “Popular Forum RPG.Net Bans Posts Supporting President Trump”.
…They also try to state they won’t be targeting Republicans and conservatives, but have openly banned support for the duly elected Republican administration. That sure sounds like targeting of conservatives and Republicans. They actively banned support for them!
Mashable’s Adam Rosenberg favors the decision.
I don’t personally frequent many online forums like this. But in the almost two years since Trump’s inauguration, I can’t recall seeing any other website introduce a policy that takes such a specific, strong stance Trump-related discussion.
It’s a welcome breath of fresh air, frankly. As the current administration finds new lows to sink to virtually every day — just a few days ago, Trump blamed the horrific synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on that congregation’s lack of a security presence — people and interests should be taking a stand like this.
(2) SPACE FORCE DRESS REHEARSAL. Harrison Smith tells Washington Post readers how “We crashed a science-fiction writers convention to ask about Trump’s ‘Space Force’”.
So on a Saturday in late September, I dropped in on some 400 mostly gray-haired sci-fi enthusiasts gathered inside the Hilton hotel in Rockville for Capclave, the annual convention of the Washington Science Fiction Association, to ask them what they thought of the president’s plans. The convention, one of the oldest of its kind in the country, is a staid contrast to Comic-Con, where attendees are more likely to dress in costume. Capclave tends to draw more bookish, serious-minded writers and fans. The convention’s motto: “Where reading is not extinct.”
“Science fiction is a rehearsal literature, not a predictive literature. We take ideas and rehearse what they might be like in the future,” said Nancy Kress of Seattle, who has won a Hugo Award, one of science fiction’s top honors. Arthur C. Clarke, who co-wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey” with director Stanley Kubrick, dreamed up communications satellites in a 1945 magazine article. “Star Trek” envisioned the flip phone. “We don’t know what the future holds any more than anybody else,” Kress told me. “We can, however, see that certain things are coming.”
… John G. Hemry, a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy who was wearing a Hawaiian-style “Incredibles” shirt, envisions the Space Force evolving into an interstellar armada that functions not unlike a 19th-century navy: long days of cramped, lonely travel in a hostile medium (space, the new water) followed by sudden close-quarters engagements.
In Hemry’s “Lost Fleet” series (he writes under the name Jack Campbell), the fighting “ships” are trailed by “fast fleet auxiliaries,” mobile factories making weapons and fuel cells that enable them to travel one- or two-tenths the speed of light….
(3) HOW MANY BITS IN A BITE? From The Irish Times: “Central Bank commemorates ‘Dracula’ with €15 collector coin”.
The silver proof coin commemorates the life of the Dublin-born author and his famous novel Dracula, which was published in 1897 and became world-renowned after an American film adaptation starring Bela Lugosi opened in 1931.
(4) NEITHER DEAD OR ALIVE. Olga Polomoshnova explores “Wraiths the writhen” at Middle-Earth Reflections.
…Two of these meanings can be applied to the Nazgûl. To begin with, Sauron’s most terrible servants can be identified with ghosts. We know that they were formerly great kings and lords of Men, but ensnared by Sauron and the Nine Rings of Power, they fell under the dominion of their own Rings and Sauron’s One Ring. Thus, through using their Nine and becoming thralls to the One, once mighty Men faded into ghostlike figures invisible in the Seen world, but visible in the realm of the Unseen….
(5) BABY BOOMER. On Facebook, Joe Haldeman remembers why a little chemistry knowledge is a dangerous thing.
An odd footnote to the home chemistry riff . . . I was a school patrol boy in grade school, I guess sixth grade, and got along pretty well with the old lady — maybe thirty — who supervised us. Her own kid got in trouble with his (HUGE — forty-dollar!) chemistry set, making pyrotechnics, and to punish him, she gave the set away to me. She had removed the chemicals that she knew were dangerous, but MWAH HA HA she didn’t know as much chemistry as little old me!
Of course if you know what you’re doing, you can make pretty good explosives out of chemicals available at the hardware store….
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY
(7) MARS ATTACKS…NEW JERSEY. ABC News celebrates the anniversary of the legendary broadcast: “It’s been 80 years since Orson Welles’ ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast terrified the nation”.
The year is 1938. The cost of a gallon of gas is 10 cents. Franklin D. Roosevelt is president. The primary medium of entertainment is the radio, and it caused panic in the eastern United States after listeners mistook a fictional broadcast called “War of the Worlds” as an actual news report.
On Oct. 30, 1938, future actor and filmmaker Orson Welles narrated the show’s prologue for an audience believed to be in the millions. “War of the Worlds” was the Halloween episode for the radio drama series “The Mercury Theatre on the Air.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin,” the broadcast began. “Martians have landed in New Jersey!”
(8) NOTH BY NORTHWEST. CinemaBlend applauds “The Wild Way Doctor Who Used Law And Order Vet Chris Noth”.
Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Doctor Who episode “Arachnids In The UK.” Read at your own risk!
Doctor Who has had plenty of notable guest stars names guest star in the past, and its writers are often aces at creating the perfect roles for the temporary talent. “Arachnids In The UK” carried on that tradition by utilizing former Law & Order and Sex And The City star Chris Noth in some wild ways.
(9) TOP BOOKS OF THE FIFTIES. Bradbury, Tolkien, and Ayn Rand make Emily Temple’s list — “A Century of Reading: The 10 Books That Defined the 1950s” at Literary Hub.
(10) GREATEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILMS. A few genre items on BBC’s list of “The 100 greatest foreign-language films”. Chip Hitchcock says, “I count 5-7 depending on where the lines are drawn (is Crouching Tiger standard? is Pan’s Labyrinth all hallucination?), but there could be more as I don’t recognize all of the titles.”
…And as the poll exists to salute the extraordinary diversity and richness of films from all around the world, we wanted to ensure that its voters were from all around the world, too. The 209 critics who took part are from 43 different countries and speak a total of 41 languages – a range that sets our poll apart from any other.
The result: 100 films from 67 different directors, from 24 countries, and in 19 languages. French can claim to be the international language of acclaimed cinema: 27 of the highest-rated films were in French, followed by 12 in Mandarin, and 11 each in Italian and Japanese. At the other end of the scale, several languages were represented by just one film, such as Belarusian (Come and See), Romanian (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), and Wolof (Touki Bouki)….
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ. With an assist on the first by OGH.]
(12) CAPTAIN TVIDEO. Via Buzz Dixon I learned that Heritage Auctions is offering the entire “Captain TVideo” MAD magazine parody drawn by the legendary Jack Davis. Click on the images for incredible hi-res scans.
(13) SAILING THROUGH SPACE. At National Geographic, “‘The Science Guy’ explains a solar-powered space sail”.
In contrast, the momentum of light is a concept outside our ordinary experience: When you’re out in the sun, you don’t feel that sunlight can push you around. The force of light, a single photon in particular, is tiny—so on Earth the sunlight pressure, as it’s called, is overwhelmed by the other forces and pressures you encounter, such as friction and gravity.
What if we could harness the energy of a tremendous number of photons and we had nothing holding us back? There’s only one place we know of to get away from all the friction and gravity: outer space.
(14) BIGGER IDEA. “Civil engineer proposes statue of mythical giant to prop up Wales bridge” — The Guardian has the story.
The Welsh government says it will consider a proposal to prop up a new £130m bridge across the Menai Strait with a mythical Welsh giant.
Civil engineer Benji Poulton, from Bangor in north-west Wales, came up with the idea after dismissing the existing designs for a new bridge between Gwynedd and Anglesey as “underwhelming”.
His design replaces the central support with a giant statue of Bendigeidfran (Brân the Blessed), who went over to Ireland to wage war against the king, Matholwch.
According to the legend, the Irish soldiers retreated over the River Shannon and burnt all the bridges. Bendigeidfran lay over the river, uttering “A fo ben, bid bont.” (“He who would be a leader, let him be a bridge” – now a popular Welsh proverb.)
(15) FLEET OF FOOT. At Smithsonian.com, Steven Tammariello reports on DNA tests carried out on Seabiscuit, and how they may give clues to his late-blooming races success (“Scientists Extract DNA From Seabiscuit’s Hooves To Figure Out How He Was So Fast”).
Eighty years ago, the horse famously trounced Triple Crown winner War Admiral. Did genetics make him an unlikely success?
Seabiscuit was not an impressive-looking horse. He was considered quite lazy, preferring to eat and sleep in his stall rather than exercise. He’d been written off by most of the racing industry after losing his first 17 races. But Seabiscuit eventually became one of the most beloved thoroughbred champions of all time – voted 1938 Horse of the Year after winning his legendary match race as an underdog against Triple Crown winner War Admiral in 1938.
…A few years back, Jacqueline Cooper from the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation got in touch. She wanted to genetically test a fifth-generation descendant of Seabiscuit [and] asked if any genetic information about Seabiscuit could be obtained […]. But since Seabiscuit was so far back in the pedigree, our lab really couldn’t be sure which of [the descendent’s] genes came from his famous great-great-great grandsire. It would only work if comparison tissue from Seabiscuit still existed – an unlikely proposition since he died in 1947 and is buried in an undisclosed grave at Ridgewood Ranch in Northern California.
…It turned out that Seabiscuit’s silvered hooves – think of a baby’s booties coated in metal – were on display at the California Thoroughbred Foundation
(16) TRASH SPOTTING. BBC says another experiment is in progress — “RemoveDebris: UK satellite tracks ‘space junk'”.
British-led mission to test techniques to clear up space junk has initiated its second experiment.
The RemoveDebris satellite ejected a small object on Sunday and then tracked it using a camera and laser system.
This vision-based navigation (VBN) technology essentially tells a pursuing spacecraft how its target is behaving – how it’s moving and even tumbling.
It would provide the information to safely approach the object ready for capture.
(17) J IS FOR JACK O’LANTERN. LAist insists “JPL Carves Better Pumpkins Than You Ever Will”. Photos and GIFs (I’ll spare you the latter – they drive Filers crazy.)
NASA’s engineers may spend their days designing parts for spacecrafts, but once a year, they get a chance to break out of geek and unleash their creativity. Think Pimp My Pumpkin — by some of the best scientific brains in the business.
The competition is fierce. After weeks of planning, designing and dreaming, they’re given one hour to create their pumpkin extravaganzas. Then the struggle for creative supremacy begins. Loud music. Flashing lights. Battling spaceships, animated moon discoveries, ET on his flying bike, Cookie Monster and Manuel of Disney’s Coco playing guitar.
Here's What Happens When NASA Has a Pumpkin-Carving Contest. Pumpkins created by engineers at #NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory are on display every year during the laboratory's Halloween festivities, which also coincide with JPL's birthday. https://t.co/UhcsUxyWcV #EPDC #STEM pic.twitter.com/J3B0Btm6Du
— NASA EPDC (@NASAEPDC) October 30, 2018
(18) TIMELESS TREAT. Pottery analysis shows cocoa has been cultivated for millennia: “Chocolate: Origins of delicacy pushed back in time”.
Chocolate has been a delicacy for much longer than previously thought.
Botanical evidence shows the plant from which chocolate is made was first grown for food more than 5,000 years ago in the Amazon rainforest.
Chemical residues found on ancient pottery suggest cocoa was used as a food, drink or medicine by indigenous people living in what is now Ecuador.
Until now it was thought that chocolate originated much later and in Central rather than South America.
“The plant was first used at least 1,500 years earlier than we had previous evidence for,” said Prof Michael Blake of the department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, a co-researcher on the study.
(19) LIVING AT HIGH ALTITUDE. BBC finds “Climate change is ‘escalator to extinction’ for mountain birds”.
Scientists have produced new evidence that climate change is driving tropical bird species who live near a mountain top to extinction.
Researchers have long predicted many creatures will seek to escape a warmer world by moving towards higher ground.
However, those living at the highest levels cannot go any higher, and have been forecast to decline.
This study found that eight bird species that once lived near a Peruvian mountain peak have now disappeared.
(20) IHOP GOES GREEN. A signal boost from Food & Wine: “IHOP Adds Official ‘Grinch’ Menu Items for the Holidays”.
IHOP is adding several Grinch-related menu items in a promotion themed on the upcoming animated movie The Grinch (with the title role voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). The movie opens 9 November. The Grinch menu at IHOP will be available through the end of the year.
[Thanks to JJ, Carl Slaughter, BravoLimaPoppa3, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day microtherion.]
(1) LA VINTAGE PAPERBACK SHOW. John King Tarpinian snapped a photo of the full house at today’s event. I staffed the Loscon table for a couple of hours, then unfortunately need to retreat home and nurse a bad back.
(2) CITY BEAT. Adam Whitehead attended a preview of the first episode of The City and the City, the BBC adaptation of China Miéville’s 2009 novel.
The first ten minutes or so are a bit rough, especially for readers of the novel who may be surprised by how incredibly faithful it is to the novel one moment and how it goes off on its own tangent the next: there are major additions to the cast of characters and story. This makes sense: the episode was longer than the standard hour (I didn’t get the exact runtime but it seemed to be around 65-70 minutes) and there are four of them, which means the TV show is in the unusual position of having more time to tell the story than the relatively short novel has (which barely scrapes 300 pages). The new material is, for the most part, well-judged and intelligently deployed. Giving Tyador a wife seemed an unnecessary change, but by having her vanish in a suspected act of Breach immediately personalises the strange situation in the city: rather than the split (and Breach) being remote forces Tyador is aware of, they are instead deeply personal affronts that frustrate him. It gives the premise an immediacy not present in the novel but which works wonderfully on screen.
(3) WEIRD TONGUE. Aeon explains why “English is not normal” – “No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language.”
…Finally, as if all this wasn’t enough, English got hit by a firehose spray of words from yet more languages. After the Norse came the French. The Normans – descended from the same Vikings, as it happens – conquered England, ruled for several centuries and, before long, English had picked up 10,000 new words. Then, starting in the 16th century, educated Anglophones developed a sense of English as a vehicle of sophisticated writing, and so it became fashionable to cherry-pick words from Latin to lend the language a more elevated tone.
It was thanks to this influx from French and Latin (it’s often hard to tell which was the original source of a given word) that English acquired the likes of crucified, fundamental, definition and conclusion. These words feel sufficiently English to us today, but when they were new, many persons of letters in the 1500s (and beyond) considered them irritatingly pretentious and intrusive, as indeed they would have found the phrase ‘irritatingly pretentious and intrusive’. (Think of how French pedants today turn up their noses at the flood of English words into their language.) There were even writerly sorts who proposed native English replacements for those lofty Latinates, and it’s hard not to yearn for some of these: in place of crucified, fundamental, definition and conclusion, how about crossed, groundwrought, saywhat, and endsay?
(4) FIND AND FLAG. In March, Rocket Stack Rank reviewed 65 stories from 10 magazines, of which 20 are free online, 2 are translations, and 13 by new writers. Greg Hullender also reminds readers about the blog’s new features:
Our March 2018 Ratings Page uses our new UI, which allows readers to rearrange the data to taste. For example, it’s easy to display stories grouped by:
- Magazine with new writers highlighted.
- Category with free stories highlighted.
- Campbell year with translated stories highlighted.
The highlights can be toggled independently of grouping, of course.
Stories can also be flagged and rated by fans to indicate things like:
- Stories to read later.
- Stories they do not want to read later.
- Stories for their Hugo longlist/shortlist.
The results of all the flagging show up on the My Ratings page, which is useful to manage your reading during the year and for award nominations at the end of the year.
We also updated the January 2018 and February 2018 Monthly Rating pages to use the new format, so people who want to maintain a complete list for 2018 can do so. The red highlights in these two lists indicate stories that were recommended by anyone, not just RSR. The March list will get those highlights on April 1.
(5) HALDEMAN. At The Archive, “Author Joe Haldeman on How the Vietnam War Gave Him Something to Write About”.
…From the settled and perhaps rueful perch of a septuagenarian writer, looking back a half-century into the very unsettled sixties, a couple of questions do now beg to be answered:
Would you have been a writer without the experience of Vietnam? What else might you have done?
I think I would have been a writer of some sort, since I’d started scribbling stories and cartoons and poems when I was about ten. I had no encouragement except from my mother, but she liked them well enough to bind them into little books with her sewing machine. (They would be around now as embarrassing juvenilia, but my father, a neatness freak, found them and burned them.)
But the long habit of writing, to paraphrase a title I would later use, was well entrenched long before I was drafted and sent off to save America from the Communist Menace. I didn’t think of it at the time, but without the war I wouldn’t have much to write about: it gave me a consistent subject and point of view for one remembered year—and the timeless theme of one man’s survival in a hostile universe….
(6) THE IMMIGRANT’S PLIGHT. Erin Horáková has a fine review of “Paddington 2” at Strange Horizons.
…Perhaps to immigrate is not what it once was, because the nature of our struggles has changed—though “immigration” means many things, and for many contemporary refugees the process is so awful and fraught as to defy any such ameliorating comparison. Old sins have new names, and all that’s “post” is prologue. Yet in a vital way to be an immigrant, to live as an immigrant, is already to have succeeded against great odds. It is to have made a voyage, and to make it again every day in miniature. To feel they journey’s echoes in your bones, even ten years on, when you raise children in a new land. Always. Even when you “belong.”
This opening sequence shows us Paddington’s life as a success, as a blessing, as a source of pride for himself and those who love him. Silly, fallible, mess-making Paddington, who is good in small things, and through this great in goodness. The film makes several nods to the amusing misunderstandings and clumsy mishaps of Michael Bond’s Paddington series. I slightly feel that the way the films merely tip the hat to this aspect of the source material before moving on is due to the late-capitalist cult of productivity and achievement. Even in comic children’s fiction, messing up, not Being Useful in some work-like capacity, feels too cringey, too high stakes. I myself have an awful fear of failure and embarrassment, and so wince through the Amelia Bedelia-ish incidents when reading the books. Yet the films’ redirection of emphasis does serve an important narrative purpose: it enables Paddington escape being a stupid immigrant caricature, allowing him both difference and dignity, both failure and worthiness of love. When Paddington’s whimsical approach to his window-cleaning business succeeds after some false starts, we have our cake and eat it. I ultimately feel the film is performing a good update of the series. The movie’s doing its own thing, minimising one aspect of the books’ formula to focus on its own projects….
(7) MISTER ROGERS FOREVER. CNN says “Mister Rogers is coming to a post office near you”.
The stamp is set for release on March 23 and will be introduced through a free dedication ceremony at WQED’s Fred Rogers Studio in Pittsburgh, which will be open to the public.
It spotlights the cherished children’s television star along with one of his show’s prominent puppets, King Friday.
(8) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. (Wait, that was Evita…) The Washington Post’s Peter Marks, in “Fans of the books will love Broadway’s Harry Potter — but will others?”, discusses how Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is coming to Broadway with seven members of the London cast and how competitors have put off mounting other plays on Broadway because they know Harry Potter will crush the competition. (Tickets for both parts of Cursed Child currently sell for $1,217 on Ticketmaster.)
Marks also visits the Harry Potter Shop in London and finds it loaded with goodies, including a personalized letter of admission to Hogwarts for 15 pounds.
In King’s Cross railway station, at the approximate location of Platform 9¾ , there bustles a small commercial temple of the multibillion-dollar Harry Potter kingdom. Within the well-stocked walls of the Harry Potter Shop, you can conduct a merchandise sweep the likes of which might cause even He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to collapse in swooning contemplation of licensing checks yet to be cashed.
(9) YOU DON’T SAY. Well, duh: “Virtual cash helps cyber-thieves launder money, research suggests”.
Between $80bn (£57bn) and $200bn of cash generated by cyber-crime is laundered every year, said Dr McGuire drawing on a study by US analyst firm Rand released in early 2018.
A significant chunk of that cash is piped through various crypto-currencies and digital payment systems in a bid to hide its origins, said Dr McGuire, who carried out the research for security firm Bromium. The study sought to understand the wide range of methods that cyber-crime gangs used to clean up cash they extract from individuals and businesses.
(10) HOW TO EXPLORE THE FUTURE. The “Imagining the History of the Future: Unsettling Scientific Stories” conference takes place March 27-29 at Ron Cooke Hub, University of York, UK:
The future just isn’t what it used to be… not least because people keep changing it. Recent years have seen a significant growth of academic and public interest in the role of the sciences in creating and sustaining both imagined and enacted futures. Technological innovations and emergent theoretical paradigms gel and jolt against abiding ecological, social, medical or economic concerns: researchers, novelists, cartoonists, civil servants, business leaders and politicians assess and estimate the costs of planning for or mitigating likely consequences. The trouble is that thinking about the future is a matter of perspective: where you decide to stand constrains what you can see
With confirmed plenary speakers Professor Sherryl Vint (University of California, Riverside, USA) and Professor Charlotte Sleigh (University of Kent, UK) this three-day conference will bring together scholars, practitioners, and activists to explore ways in which different visions of the future and its history can be brought into productive dialogue.
(11) BRING YOUR OWN PLUTONIUM. O’Reilly Auto Parts carries a listing for a Flux Capacitor.
- Gigawatts: : 1.21
- Material Compatibility: : Plutonium
- Working Speed (mph): : 88 mph
- Maximum Power: : 1.21 Gigawatts
Time Travel at your own RISK!!!
- Plutonium is required to properly operate Flux Capacitor.
- Plutonium is used by the on-board nuclear reactor which then powers the Flux Capacitor to provide the needed 1.21 Gigawatts of Electrical Power.
- Plutonium not Available at O’Reilly Auto Parts. Please contact your local supplier.
- Flux Capacitor requires the stainless steel body of the 81-83 DeLorean DMC-12, V6 2.9L , to properly function.
- Once the time machine travels at 88 mph (142 km/h), light coming from the flux capacitor pulses faster until it becomes a steady stream of light. Then, time travel begins.
- Upgrade Kits available: Part # 121GMF
(12) AVENGERS TRAILER. Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War – Official Trailer.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, mlex, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Mark Hepworth, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
With the much-anticipated The Forever War graphic novel adaptation in bookstores this week, Titan Comics has announced the next installment in novelist Joe Haldeman, Gay Haldeman, and Marvano’s epic science-fiction comic book series, The Forever War: Forever Free.
Titan’s new comic series adapts the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award-winning books inspired by Haldeman’s own Vietnam War experiences.
The Forever War series tells the story of William Mandella – survivor of a catastrophic interstellar war. Mandella, together with a small group of human survivors, returns to Earth to find the human race greatly changed.
Evolved into a group mind called Man, society is now intrusive and autocratic, denying all individuality. The veterans plan to escape by means of space travel, but, when their ship starts to fail, Mandella’s team begins to search for the enigmatic entity responsible – The Unknown.
Since the original publication of The Forever War, Joe Haldeman – a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient – has produced a continuous string of SF classics. In addition to winning major awards, the author has garnered praise from top writer, Stephen King: “If there was a Fort Knox for science-fiction writers, we’d have to lock Joe Haldeman up.”
The Forever War: Forever Free #1 hits comic shops and digital platforms in April 2018.
The Forever War TPB (144pp, $19.99, ISBN: 9781785860898) is available in bookstores now. Check out the trailer here.
SAMPLE PAGES FROM THE FOREVER WAR: FOREVER FREE
(1) RANTS AND RAVES. Three days ago S.T. Joshi ranted about an alleged Lovecraft hater in “The Multifarious Illiteracies of Brian Keene”.
For the past two or three weeks I have been in misery. In short, I have been reading the novels of Brian Keene. Were I not driven by my sacred duty as a literary critic to assess the work of this grotesquely prolific blowhard for my treatise, 21st-Century Horror, I would have been relieved of this excruciating agony; but the job is done, as is my chapter on Keene, which can be found here.
…The only horror in Keene’s work is that there is so much of it. Since 2000, Keene has published at least forty-three novels, twelve short story collections, and sundry other material—an impressive achievement if his books were of any substance or even bare competence, but quite otherwise if, as appears to be the case, the books in question are nothing but crude and slapdash hackwork. A fair number of his books have been published by Leisure Books, a firm that habitually churns out pablum of all sorts for the great unwashed. It seems to be a match made in hell….
Today Brian Keene answered with “The Ballad of S.T. Joshi, or, Saruman and Wormtongue Meet the Great Unwashed”.
…With that being said, the probable origins of Lovecraft’s work are, in my opinion, repugnant. Lovecraft was racist and xenophobic…. These beliefs fueled his fiction, and the creation of his mythos. So much of Lovecraft’s work is driven by fear and disgust of “the other” or of genetic mutation. And in turn, so much of that work shaped and molded this field.
Despite their repugnance (or perhaps because of it) I think those origins are worth discussing. Joshi does not. He threatened to boycott a recent convention because the programming included a panel discussing the racist themes prevalent in Lovecraft’s work (and then reportedly defied his own personal boycott by signing books in the dealer’s room of that same convention). Because I wondered aloud on my podcast why he’s against discussion of such things, it further inured me as a “Lovecraft Hater”. Joshi also railed against the World Fantasy Awards discontinuing their bust of Lovecraft. When I stated on my podcast, “If I was a person of color, and I won that award — an award from my peers recognizing my work — I wouldn’t want a man who thought I was sub-human glowering down at me from my brag shelf”, this further fueled Joshi and Brock’s insistence that I am, in fact, a Lovecraft Hater.
It’s also important to note that Lovecraft’s racism is not a new topic, brought up by some supposed younger, newer generation of political Progressives or SJWs. The great Robert Bloch himself discussed Lovecraft’s racism in his seminal “Heritage of Horror” essay. Joshi doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. Based on his actions, he seemingly only has a problem with people discussing it if they are women (Ellen Datlow), LGQBT (S.j. Bagley), persons of color (Daniel José Older and Nnedi Okorafor), or apolitical “white trash” Appalachians (myself). I find that interesting…
So, again, for the record, I am not a “Lovecraft Hater”. I respect the man’s work. I don’t, however, respect the man.
…Which brings us to last Friday, and the reason why so many of you are asking me, “Who is S.T. Joshi?”.
Why did Joshi turn his attention toward me? I don’t know. Maybe it was our coverage of his antics on my podcast (where he is a recurring source of amusement). Perhaps he was offended that I sandwiched him between “Lovecraft Haters” Ellen Datlow and S.j. Bagley in the inaugural chapter of History of Horror Fiction. Or maybe he was driven half-mad by Jason Brock’s incessant whining.
Regardless, I woke up at 5am Friday morning. Publisher and author Ross Lockhart had sent me the link to Joshi’s tirade overnight. I clicked the link and read Joshi’s Introduction, where he states that I am “A grotesquely prolific blowhard” and that my work left him in “excruciating agony.” This pleased me. I thought it was funny enough to craft a cover blurb out of, so I did. Then some readers asked for it on a t-shirt, so I made this. And that was pretty much it….
(2) AMBIFORCESTROUS. Continuing a thought from yesterday – this comes from Mark Hamill himself.
(3) THOR SCORE. Daniel Dern submitted his non-spoiler review of Thor: Ragnarok for today’s Scroll:
(“Non-spoiler” as in “assuming you’ve seen at least one of the trailers already, but IMHO no how-it-ends spoilers in any case)
My short-short summary: Way loads of fun! Go and enjoy.
- Among the best snappy multi-character dialog, and lots of it.
- Basically sticks to one plot from start to finish (unlike, say, Guardians of the Galaxy II).
- Nice to NOT see Manhattan/NYC trashed/destroyed/etc for a change. Similarly, no S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers harmed (or even sighted) in this movie.
- Lots of bright colors, great costumes/garb/accessories.
- a good balance of talking, fighting/battling, and both-at-once.
- It’s contemporary fantasy and sci-fi. Thor pilots spaceships, etc.
- prior knowledge needed of Marvel, any of the previous movies, etc. Yeah, knowing some can’t hurt. E.g., Loki and Thor briefly mentioning the time L turned T into a frog was real — one of Walt Simonson’s great arcs (a bunch of issues) in the Thor comic series.
- In terms of “Marvel movie big picture,” this is sequentially following the events of Avengers/Age of Ultron.
- Best Stan Lee cameo to date, IMHO.
- Mentions Avengers by name at times, etc., but only Hulk actually in the movie. Most of the action is off-Earth, so no need to explain why the other A’s aren’t putting in their oar, so to speak.
- Lots of Jeff Goldblum! Lots!
Offhand I don’t have any complaints or criticisms.
(4) REVIVAL MEETING, And everything considered, this seems a good time to ponder “The Norse gods’ unlikely comeback” as Mark Peters does in the Boston Globe.
Part of why the Norse myths continue to compel so many readers, writers, and artists is their sheer entertainment value, featuring high adventure, low comedy, apocalyptic nightmares, and ample drinking. Karl E. H. Seigfried, adjunct professor and pagan chaplain at Illinois Institute of Technology and author of the Norse Mythology Blog, said by e-mail that the Norse myths resonate on three levels: dramatically, emotionally, and spiritually. Of the three, the spiritual element is often overlooked.
Underneath the troll-smiting mayhem, the Norse myths have an uplifting core, insists Seigfried, who is also a priest of Thor’s Oak Kindred in Chicago. “In contrast to the gloomy Nordic worldview often portrayed in popular culture,” he said, “the wandering god [Odin] never stops searching for knowledge and never ceases to rage against the dying of the light. The old gods may die at Ragnarök, but the myth is life-affirming. We will not live forever, but our children will survive us, and their children will survive them.”
(5) HUBBARD. Alec Nevala-Lee, “author of Astounding, a forthcoming book on the history of science fiction, digs into the writing career of L. Ron Hubbard, gaining new insights into the life of the controversial founder of dianetics and the origins and nature of Scientology itself” in “Xenu’s Paradox: The Fiction of L. Ron Hubbard and the Making of Scientology” at Longreads.
And it gets even stranger. When we turn to the stories themselves, we find that most of them have nothing in common with the tale of Xenu. In the pages of Astounding, Hubbard tended to write comic fantasies or adventures staged on a very modest scale, with situations lifted straight from the nautical or military fiction that he was publishing elsewhere. Aliens and galactic empires rarely played any significant role. When he employed these conventions, it was as a target for parody or as a kind of painted backdrop for the action. Yet when the time came to give Scientology a founding myth, he turned to space opera, referring to it explicitly in those terms, and the result didn’t look or sound much like anything he had ever written before.
(6) ONE TOKE OVER THE LINE. Fran Wilde has a tip for convention attendees, idiots, and assholes:
Pro tip: even if you've just discovered an author's work, NOT okay to call their hotel room and ask them to sign a book. Esp. not at 10pm
— Fran Wilde (@fran_wilde) November 5, 2017
::rants about people being raised in barns, check your stalker impulses, manners are your friend:: No, folks. DO NOT EVER DO THIS. No. https://t.co/ctYkzomkQ9
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) November 5, 2017
RE that last RT: I (and most other writers I know) am deliriously happy to sign things if you run into me (or find me) on a convention floor or hallway, or a bookshop. Or send me a snailmail! Do not hunt down my hotel room number and call me in the middle of the night. SERIOUSLY.
— Ann Leckie ? (@ann_leckie) November 5, 2017
(7) PROBLEM WITH COMPLAINT-DRIVEN CON POLICIES. A New Mexico event promoter says complaints led him to change a policy — “Comic Con ditches free passes for military, first responders”. How well do you think that worked?
An offer for local military and first responders to enjoy the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Comic Cons for free is about to end.
The promoter, Jim Burleson, said he was getting threats for giving free admission to only military, police and firemen.
Burleson took to Facebook this week with an announcement that’s angered many, saying: “This will be the last year we are offering free admission to police, military and firefighters.”
The decision stems from people — other than military and first responders — who complained about not getting a discount over the years, which, he says, led to threats.
“We actually got threatened at our Santa Fe Comic Con. Somebody threatened to call their dad who was a lawyer to prove that we were discriminating,” he said.
Now, there’s even more backlash from people who said he shouldn’t have given into the criticism, with some claiming they won’t be attending comic con anymore.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
(9) LEAF BY TOLKIEN. Glen Dixon of the Washington Post Magazine writes about the death of the Baltimore City Paper which just folded, in “Baltimore City Paper is closing after 40 years. Will it be missed?” The following scene is inside the City Paper’s offices….
The wisdom of the crowd converged when Brandon Soderberg puzzled over the mysterious provenance of Gray Haven, the latest strain of marijuana to cross his palate. Soderberg is both the paper’s editor and one of its pot critics. He knows his weed, but he hadn’t been able to uncover the first thing about this particular variety. Perhaps the name held a clue? He read off some loopy texts from a helpful stoner friend, a Tolkien fan who said there is a place called Grey Havens in Middle-earth. The messages were pipe dreams billowing with head-spinning arcana. “I’ve read ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ ” said art director Athena Towery, dryly. “I don’t think that’s in there.” The room erupted with laughter, then settled on another Tolkien work — “The Silmarillion” — as the source. Photo editor J.M. “Joe” Giordano added that the bud shares its name with a neighborhood in Dundalk, Md.
(10) SPRING AHEAD, FALL OOPS. Joe Haldeman shared this on Facebook – pretty funny, even if the joke is about the wrong time change:
Another busy night at all the British henge sites as staff work all night to move the stones forward by an hour.
(11) FEDERATION POLITICAL SCIENCE. I don’t remember if I’ve run this before but it sure is fun. And like some Tumblr posts, it needs to be read from the bottom up; the pivot is a Klingon asking the Vulcans why they let humans run the Federation; the answer includes because the last thing they did is ” getting published in about six hundred scientific journals across two hundred different disciplines because of how many established theories their ridiculous little expedition has just called into question. also, they did turn that sun into a torus, and no one actually knows how”
(12) CREDENTIAL RENEWED. Kim Huett advises his article “Temple of the Sphinx”, with some thoughts on the William F. Temple story, “The Smile Of the Sphinx,” is now online.
In a fit of possibly misplaced enthusiasm I have created a website in order to post my Bill Temple article online for all the world to see. Those of you already familiar with this article might like to note that it has been rewritten here and there in order to fix a few errors and to add a little more depth to the story. In regards to the latter I would like to in particular thank Rob Hansen for all his hard work on THEN as that history made my job so much easier. The website in question can be found here at the URL below. Feel free to pass the URL on if you want as I think this is a story well worth sharing. This is especially true since it allows us to increase our count of times the word “cat” has appeared on this blog.
For all this Gillings did publish one story that I find absolutely fascinating, though perhaps not for the usual reasons. The story in question is a novelette by William F. Temple, his third published story. The Smile of the Sphinx appeared in Tales of Wonder #4 (Autumn 1938). In the introduction Gillings wrote:
‘…in the light of his logical reasoning, his fanciful notion loses its air of incredibility, and you will find yourself seriously considering whether it might not easily be fact…’
The story was well regarded at the time of publication. For example noted science fiction fan of the day (and later editor of New Worlds), Ted Carnell was so taken by The Smile of the Sphinx that in Novae Terrae #28 (December 1938) he was moved to claim:
‘For just as Bill Temple’s yarn in TOW will long be remembered as the cat story…’
Now at first glance all this makes very little sense as The Smile of the Sphinx is a rather absurd tale about an intelligent race of cats from the Moon who secretly rule the Earth.
(13) CHOCOLATE EMERGENCY. Adweek shares the laughs — “Snickers Got a Whole TV Channel to Act Weird When It Was Hungry in Great Media Stunt”.
The network is called Dave, and it normally features a millennial-focused grab bag of fun-loving programs. But one day recently, at exactly 3:28 p.m. (which Snickers says is “the hungriest time of day”), Dave suddenly and inexplicably turned into Rupert—a network showing boring and nonsensical shows including chess championships, vintage film noir and an art appraisal program.
Frankly, it seemed like Dave had become PBS.
[Thanks to JJ, DMS, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
(1) THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS TYRION. ScienceFiction.com says “Peter Dinklage Is Rumored To Be In Talks To Join ‘Avengers: Infinity War’” and makes a very entertaining post from its inconclusive guesses about what Marvel character he might play.
…The next two ‘Avengers’ movies are expected to shoot back-to-back and whatever role Dinklage is in negotiations for, he will appear in both.
Very little is known about ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ other than it will feature every surviving Marvel Cinematic hero, including all of the Avengers, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy. And it will feature the clash with warlord Thanos, something that has been teased since the first ‘Avengers’ in 2012. It will be directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, who previously helmed ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and ‘Captain America: Civil War’. …
(2) HELP CHANGE THE LAW. Opponents of the new California autograph law say they have lined up a State Assembly member to introduce legislation to constructively amend AB 1570. It is anticipated the bill will be drafted and ready to introduce by mid-February. In the meantime, they continue to ask people show their support by signing their petition at Change.org.
(3) BUY LINGUAL. Rachel Cordasco’s “Roundtable on Speculative Fiction in Translation: Past, Present, Future” at Tor.com brings together Neil Clarke, Sarah Dodd, Cristina Jurado, Cheryl Morgan, and Marian Womack:
Q: How do you work to increase the visibility of sf in translation? Is it mainly through marketing and social media, or other avenues as well? What can people like myself (reviewers, bloggers) do to promote sf in translation in effective ways?
Neil Clarke: Unfortunately, translated works still carry a bit of stigma with readers. It’s like your mom trying to get you to eat a vegetable she knows you’ll like if you just give it a try. One approach is to be low key about it. Treat it like any other piece of food on the plate and surround it with their more traditional selections. Publishers have been doing this for years…leveraging one success to create opportunities to take risks on others. The big difference is that translations can be significantly more expensive.
The best thing I can do for translations, aside from publishing great stories, is to be actively involved in making connections in the international science fiction community and keep them aware that translation is an option that is available to them.
The best thing readers and reviewers can do is support the books and stories they enjoy. All authors enjoy their books being favorably reviewed, but many of the foreign authors I’ve worked with have mentioned that recognition from the English-language market is extra special. Many of the biggest names in SF are published in English. It carries some prestige most of us don’t even think about.
Sarah Dodd: A really important thing that reviewers and bloggers can do is name the translator. (Yes, it seems basic, but it’s amazing how often reviews of translated fiction omit the translator’s name entirely!) The wonderful @TranslatedWorld began the #namethetranslator campaign in 2013, and they’ve been really promoting the work of translators to give them greater visibility. One of the things we’ve realized, working on other translation projects, is just how much the translator does, going beyond the translation itself—a lot of translators also do a huge amount of work pitching the books and stories they love, and then helping drum up interest and publicize them when they come out. So it would be really great to see more of a focus on the translators themselves (something we’re planning to do in Samovar, through our author and translator spotlights)….
(4) THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE. Walter Jon Williams, before getting around to the TV adaptation, decided to first reread Philip K. Dick’s novel — “Revisiting the Classics: The Man in the High Castle”.
I hadn’t got very far into the re-reading before I came to the conclusion that there was no damn fucking way this could ever be made into a TV series. The narration is too internal, there is very little dramatizable action, and you can’t make the manipulation of 49 yarrow stalks followed by the reading of an opaque text dramatically interesting. What HBO has done, I’m sure, is create a situation more or less parallel to that of the novel, and some characters with the same names and some of the same problems, and then done what TV people do to make that interesting. The series might well be successful on its own terms, it just won’t be The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick. (Those of you who have seen the [Amazon] series can tell me if I’m right. I’m particularly interested to learn whether they made successful drama out of I Ching readings.)
And that’s only his first argument why it couldn’t be made for TV.
(5) CRAVING DYSTOPIAS. Boston Review fiction editor Junot Diaz has put out a call for material on the theme of global dystopias, maximum length 5,000 words.
Over the last decades dystopian narratives have proliferated to the point where they seem to have become our default mode for conceptualizing the future. But dystopias are not merely fantasies of a minatory future; they offer critically important reflection upon our present. If (as Tom Moylan has argued) traditional dystopias crafted cognitive maps of the terrors of the twentieth century, what cognitive maps does our current dystopian turn provide us of our turbulent global present?
Throughout 2017 BostonReview.net will feature stories, essays, and interviews on the theme of global dystopias. The project will culminate in a special print issue in the fall of 2017.
We are seeking essays, interviews, and fiction from writers around the globe that engage the theme of dystopia. Nonfiction, personal essay, genre fiction (SF, fantasy, horror, Afrofuturist, slipstream), and work that resides across/between genres are welcome.
Submissions might explore, but are not limited to:
- Inequality / precarity
- The Global South
- Climate change
- Global democracy
- Civic media and civic imaginaries
- The War on Terror
- International politics and speculative futures
- The future of females
- Gendered violence
- Radical futurities
(7) DEALER’S CHOICE. The third video in a series about the origins of George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe.is now on YouTube:
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY COMPUTER
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
(10) PRATCHETT LIFE COMING TO TV. A Terry Pratchett bio program is in the works at the BBC. From Radio Times — “BBC reveal plans for ‘poignant’ new Terry Pratchett documentary”.
The BBC is making a documentary about the late writer Terry Pratchett in which his words will be read in character by actor Paul Kaye.
Terry Pratchett: Back In Black is told in Pratchett’s own words, with contributions from authors Neil Gaiman and Val McDermid, and his long-serving assistant Rob Wilkins. Kaye’s impression of Pratchett is said to be “uncanny” according to the BBC.
The programme, which airs on BBC2 later this year, will follow his life from his troubled schooldays, to being dismissed by literary critics, to the remarkable creation of the Discworld series of fantasy novels, which have since sold over 85 million copies worldwide.
It will also chronicle Pratchett’s battle with Alzheimer’s and his death in 2015.
(11) COMICS ON THE HORIZON. In 2017, at least three SF/F novels will be adapted into comic books. Titan Comics will be adapting Forever War by Joe Haldeman, with Haldeman writing the comic and Mavarno doing the art, as well as Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, with Newman writing and art by Paul McCaffrey. Finally, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods will become a Dark Horse comic book with P. Craig Russell writing and art by Scott Hamilton.
Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War was a groundbreaking science-fiction novel when originally published in 1974, merging high-concept science fiction with gripping social commentary. Next year, Titan Comics are reprinting and serializing the 1988 adaptation written by Haldeman himself, with art by the legendary Mavarno.
Titan’s reprint of the series serializes the original volumes and come packed with bonus materials, including design elements from the series and multiple, brand-new covers for each issue.
And now, it’s finally making it to comics. Titan has announced an Anno Dracula adaptation set for March of 2017, written by Newman with art by Paul McCaffrey.
Originally published in 1992, the first Anno Dracula novel takes place in 1888, focusing on the early years of a society where vampires have just gone public, and a mystery — for the characters, if not the readers — surrounding the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper.
Gaiman said in a statement: “I’ve been watching P. Craig Russell breaking down the book into comic form, watching Scott Hampton painting the pages, watching Glenn Fabry create the covers, and grinning to myself with delight, because the American Gods comic is going to be an astonishing, faithful, and beautiful adaptation.”
(12) DRAFT NOTICE. Narragansett Brewing Co. wants you to know “The Unnamable Is Coming…”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, Rob Thornton JJ, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Michael J. Walsh.]
(1) TAKING LIBERTIES. Gothamist reports New York City is plagued with another round of Nazi-themed ads — “Statue of Liberty Gives Nazi Salute in Huge Times Square Billboard for Amazon’s ‘The Man in the High Castle’”. (Photo here.)
(2) APPEALING ANACHRONISMS. Beware, Ryan Skardal’s review at Fantasy Literature may cause this book to land on your TBR pile: “Last Year: Time travel tourism”.
Jesse Cullum works security at the City of Futurity – in fact, he just saved President Ulysses S. Grant from an assassination attempt, though he lost his Oakleys in the process.
The science fiction premise of Robert Charles Wilson’s Last Year (2016), is outlined in its opening scene. Oakleys are sunglasses that come from our time, but Ulysses S. Grant was one of the most important generals in the American Civil War. How can both exist in the same place? Well, in this novel, a “mirror” allows people to travel back in time, but to a specific point in the past — and it will produce a different a future. The people who travel back are tourists, and the City of Futurity, run by August Kemp, makes money from the past’s wealthy, who are curious to see the many inventions of the future. Also, Kemp steadily ships the past’s gold into the future. When the novel begins, The City of Futurity is about to begin its “last year” in the 19th century….
(3) THE NARRATOR’S TOUCH. Bookworm Blues has a wonderful variation on a common theme – “Best Audiobooks of 2016”.
The Fireman – Joe Hill
Narrated by Kate Mulgrew
I really want Kate Mulgrew to narrate all the thoughts in my head. I do. Honestly. I just want her to dig her way into my brain and just read my mind to me constantly. She’d make my random musings of, “Huh, I wonder what Frodo would look like with cockroach feet?” actually sound interesting. The Fireman is a fantastic book, and Kate Mulgrew is one of the best narrators out there. I think she kind of struggled with the English accent, but that’s easy to forgive because… LISTEN TO HER. She made this book one of those rare experiences where I listened to the book as much for the story as to just hear her talk to me.
(4) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #10. The tenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed book and a Tuckerization from Tricia Sullivan.
Today’s auction comes from award-winning author Tricia Sullivan, for an autographed copy of OCCUPY ME and a Tuckerization (meaning you’ll show up as a minor character) in Sullivan’s forthcoming novel SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS.
About the Book:
A woman with wings that exist in another dimension. A man trapped in his own body by a killer. A briefcase that is a door to hell. A conspiracy that reaches beyond our world. Breathtaking SF from a Clarke Award-winning author.
Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcends space and time. On the way we follow our heroine as she attempts to track down a killer in the body of another man, and the man who has been taken over, his will trapped inside the mind of the being that has taken him over.
And at the centre of it all a briefcase that contains countless possible realities.
(5) VOYAGERS. Big Think tells you how to see it — “Massive Poster Details Humanity’s Missions Through the Universe So Far”.
By our count, there are 113 spacecraft in this image. It’s a catalogue of all of the vehicles launched into space so far, from the U.S.S.R’s Luna 2 in 1959 to the U.S.’s DSCOVR in 2015. Every orbiter, lander, rover, flyby, and impactor is here, along with its trajectory. It’s actually an image of a physical poster from PopChart Lab that any space maven could spend some quality time with.
Open another tab in your browser and click here for a zoomable version of the image. (If you’re on your phone, you may want to bookmark this and check it out when you’re near a big screen.)
(6) PROJECTS ON THE WAY. Natalie Zutter promises “(Almost) Every SFF Adaptation Coming to Television and Movie Theaters!)” at Tor.com.
Thanks to major properties like Game of Thrones and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, we’ve entered a golden age of sci-fi and fantasy properties being developed for film and television. It seems that nearly every network and studio has snatched up the rights to old and new classics, with a bevy of projects in production or premiering in the coming months. To keep you on top of the latest news, we’ve updated our master list of every SFF adaptation currently in the works, from American Gods to Y: The Last Man. And surprising no one, prolific writers Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi each have a number of projects in varying stages of development.
Check out this list and get your DVRs and Netflix queues ready, because you’re going to be wonderfully busy for the foreseeable future.
(7) BAD NEWS. Andrew Porter reports that Ted White told members of a listserve that he has lost his son, Aaron, to suicide.
Aaron was Ted’s son with Lynda Spencer, who has since remarried, and is equally devastated.
According to Moshe Feder, Spencer told Facebook readers:
Our darling son, Aaron died early Monday morning. He had been fighting depression and took his own life. We are so deeply devastated that we are having difficulty finding our way right now.
We’ve tried to contact many of you outside of FB, but there are so many of you that we want to know about our dear child that I’m taking to FB to share this horrible news.
We will let everyone know when and where the memorial service will be once we know the details.
Here is a photo of Ted and Aaron that was published earlier this year in the Falls Church News-Press.
(8) VAUGHAN OBIT. Peter Vaughan, known to American audiences as butler William Stevens, the father of Anthony Hopkins’s character in Merchant Ivory’s film The Remains of the Day, and for five years as Jon Snow’s blind, scholarly mentor Maester Aemon Targaryen in HBO’s epic fantasy of Game of Thrones, has passed away at the age of 93.
(9) CLASSIC CHARLIE BROWN. At Dreaming About Other Worlds, Aaron Pound removes our rose-colored glasses — “Musical Monday – Christmas Time Is Here by the Vince Guaraldi Trio”.
This Christmas program, created more than fifty years ago now, shows that the “good old days” weren’t really that “good” to begin with. After all, Charlie Brown could plausibly lament the commercialization of Christmas as long ago as 1965, and Lucy could claim that the entire holiday was run by a “big Eastern syndicate”, and while Lucy’s claim was supposed to be mostly ridiculous, it was also supposed to be something that someone might actually believe. When Charlie Brown goes to buy a Christmas tree, the place that sells them is a gaudy showplace with spotlights, and almost all of the trees available are artificial. Even “back then” the world was commercialized, no matter what our hazy nostalgic gaze might tell us.
(10) DRAGON BREATH, Doris V. Sutherland, in “Dragon Awards Reviews: Horror, War and the Apocalypse” for Women Write About Comics, says the award-winning novels of Niemeier, Weber and Cole fall short of the mark.
A sequel to Brian Niemeier’s earlier novel Nethereal, Souldancer is one of the Dragon Award winners that benefited from Sad Puppy votes. It is primarily a space opera, making it an awkward fit for Best Horror Novel. Indeed, Niemeier acknowledges on his blog that the book was voted into this bracket for tactical reasons.
“I tip my hat to author and publisher Russell Newquist of Silver Empire,” he says, “who suggested Souldancer for the horror category, the only one where it wasn’t guaranteed to get annihilated.”…
Niemeier seems to view himself as working in the high-flying pulp adventure tradition of E. E. “Doc” Smith, but I do not recall Smith ever being this turgid. A closer comparison would be with Amazing Stories’ “Shaver Mystery” narratives, which, likewise, offered leaden mixtures of space opera and mythology. Now remembered only as curios, these were sold on the esoteric notion that they were true stories plucked from mankind’s racial memory.
Souldancer also has a distinct sales point. It is promoted on the grounds that, being written by a supporter of the Sad Puppies campaign, it somehow contains an essential sincerity and value that cannot be found in fiction from the SJW-dominated science fiction/fantasy/horror establishment. This marketing tactic will fail to attract anybody who is not already a convinced Puppy, of course. Should the Dragon Awards ever become a fandom institution, future generations will surely scratch their heads at how the first award for Best Horror Novel could have gone to this mediocre space opera.
(11) LITERARY BARTENDER. Nick Mamatas is co-editing Mixed Up: Cocktail Recipes (And Flash Fiction) For the Discerning Drinker (and Reader) with libations editrix Molly Tanzer, a volume forthcoming from Skyhorse in October 2017. He just posted the complete table of contents for the fiction element of the book.
(12) ANCIENT FANNISH VIDEOS RECOVERED. Here are four new uploads at the Fanac Fan History YouTube Channel.
Noreascon 2, the 38th Worldcon, was held in Boston in September 1980. This audio recording with images preserves/presents the Guest of Honor Speeches by Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm. Toastmaster Robert Silverberg is entertaining as always, with long introductions and not a little hyperbole. Damon Knight’s talk is full of anecdotes including how “Fred Pohl saved my life” and other stories about the Futurians. Kate Wilhelm gives a more serious talk about the nature of our reality.
Featuring Jerry Pournelle, Arsen Darnay, Jim Baen, Karl T. Pflock, and Spider Robinson, this discussion is structured with the panelists describing their favorite future and then discussing and taking questions. The future visions range from the mystic to the moral to the technological. Jerry Pournelle moderates, with Jim Baen taking the editor’s role and commenting only.
We hope you enjoy this delightful clip of author Joe Haldeman, singing one of his most entertaining songs.
This video, “Know the Hotel Staff” made in “cooperation with the Institute for Transtemporal Fannish Studies”, was used as filler on the closed circuit video feed. Introduced by Dr. Dodd Clegler (a fannish reference old at the time), the film shows a time traveler interacting with various hotel staff as a training film for other travelers. It was created in the summer of ’76 by Minneapolis fans.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Moshe Feder, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Schnookums von Fancypants.]
(1) REMEMBERING HARTWELL. Rudy Rucker has one of the best personal tributes to the late David G. Hartwell that I’ve read.
In 2005, Dave got me invited to give the keynote talk at ICFA, the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, held in a brutally cold motel Florida. One of the organizers quipped, “We don’t come here for the sun, we come here for the air-conditioning.”
Dave told me that a member of the committee had said, “We can’t invite Rucker, he’s a difficult drunk,” and Dave told him, “Not any more.” By then I’d been sober for nearly ten years. I said to Dave, “I wonder if my drinking years had a bad effect on my career.” Dave said, “I don’t think so. Even now, I still talk to people who are very disappointed when they see you at a con and you aren’t swinging from the chandeliers.”
(2) JEMISIN DISCUSSES ROWLING’S NEW WORLD MAGIC. N.K. Jemisin’s verdict on Rowling’s magical North America is: “It could’ve been great.”
…I’m still careful, even with “dead” faiths, because I don’t know how playing with these things might hurt real people. Nations have been built upon and torn down by the concepts I’m playing with. The least I can do is research the hell out of a thing before I put a toe in that ancient water.
It’s even more crucial for religions that are alive, and whose adherents still suffer for misconceptions and misappropriations. But these are easier to research, and it’s often much easier to figure out when you’re about to put a foot right into a morass of discrimination and objectification. All the evidence is there, sometimes still wet with blood. You just need to read. You just need to ask people. You just need to think….
Anyway. This is just to say that there’s a number of ways Rowling could’ve made her Magical North America work without causing real harm to a lot of real people. That would be for her to have treated American peoples — all of us — with the same respect that she did European. Pretty sure she would never have dreamt of reducing all of Europe’s cultures to “European wizarding tradition”; instead she created Durmstrang and Beauxbatons and so on to capture the unique flavor of each of those cultures. It would’ve taken some work for her to research Navajo stories and pick (or request) some elements from that tradition that weren’t stereotypical or sacred — and then for her to do it again with the Paiutes and again with the Iroquois and so on. But that is work she should’ve done — for the sake of her readers who live those traditions, if not for her own edification as a writer. And how much more delightful could Magic in North America have been if she’d put an ancient, still-thriving Macchu Picchu magic school alongside a brash, newer New York school? How much richer could her history have been if she’d mentioned the ruins of a “lost” school at Cahokia, full of dangerous magical artifacts and the signs of mysterious, hasty abandonment? Or a New Orleanian school founded by Marie Laveau, that practiced real vodoun and was open/known to the locals as a temple — and in the old days as a safe place to plan slave rebellions, a la Congo Square? Or what if she’d mentioned that ancient Death Eater-ish wizards deliberately destroyed the magical school of Hawai’i — but native Hawai’ians are rebuilding it now as Liliuokalani Institute, better than before and open to all? …
The rebranding will also bring in an influx of video consoles, late night programming, and new hours, Sunday and Wednesday from 5pm to 10pm, Thursday and Friday from 5pm to Midnight, and Saturday from 3 pm to 2 am. The bar will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. In addition to their game selection, SFCO will continue to offer a rotating menu of geek-themed signature cocktails and a pop culture reference-filled menu items. The news of the rebranding was followed by former CEO David Zoltan announcing that he had resigned from Geek Bar in January.
(4) JULIETTE WADE’S FANCAST. Juliette Wade’s TalkToYoUniverse is a great place to find regular coverage of “linguistics and anthropology, science fiction and fantasy, point of view, [and] grammar geekiness.” Wade is often joined by a guest writer, as in the latest installment, “Andrea Stewart – a Dive into Worldbuilding”.
Something that makes Wade’s project exceptional is that every episode is accompanied by a post fully detailing what was discussed. Here are the first few paragraphs about her visit with Stewart –
We were joined for this hangout by author Andrea Stewart, who told us a bit about her worldbuilding and her work. Her work has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, IGMS, and Galaxy’s Edge.
We started by talking about a piece she had in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Set in a psudo-Chinese culture, it featured an opium den with magical smoke, in a place where the land surrounding the city was dying and this had become the people’s escape. Very cool story! Andrea explained that her mom is a Chinese immigrant, so half her family is Chinese. One of the key differences, she says, is in conversational interaction style.
I asked her about her series, the Changeling Wars. She told me that it had begun as a writing exercise, where every person in a group picks a word, and then each member has to write a piece that uses all the words chosen by the group. She describes this series as being part of a move from dark fantasy to a bit lighter fantasy. The first book begins when a woman walks in on her cheating husband, and her emotion is so powerful in that moment that it awakens magic in her. It turns out she’s a changeling, and not just adopted, as she believed.
Andrea has very warm words for writing exercises, which she says can spark ideas you might not otherwise come up with.
There are 101 Worldbuilding hangouts in the index, 25 featuring special guests, including Aliette de Bodard, N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Myke Cole, Usman T. Malik, Cat Rambo, Sofia Samatar and Isabel Yap.
(5) IN FOR A DIME. Sonia Orin Lyris tells how she “Will Build Worlds for Spare Change” at The Fictorians.
The next week my inbox was filled with indignant treasures, among them this: “No, no, no! This is NOT a D&D game. Coins have names! Coins have histories!”
I instantly knew how right she was. Knew it like the contents of my own pocket.
Pennies. Nickels. Dimes. Not “coppers.” Not “large silvers.”
I dove back into my research and emerged soaked in currency-related facts, from minting to metals, from Greece to China. The facts went on and on, as did the likeness of people and horses and birds and insects, of ships and buildings, of angels and flowers, of myths and monarchs.
So many coins, each symbolizing their culture’s prosperity and priorities. Its very self-image.
I now understood that not only did coins have names and histories, but they were keys to wealth and power, to trade and politics. Coins affected everyone, from rulers to merchants to the poorest of the poor. Coins mattered, and mattered quite a bit.
Coins had names and histories. They had faces. Coins traveled.
That’s when it hit me: Coins are stories.
(6) EVEN MORE WORLDBUILDING ADVICE. Coining words is the focus of “This Kind of World Building :: An Interview with Sofia Samatar” at Weird Sister.
Kati Heng: One thing that always amazes me is when a writer is able to make up not just a story, but also an entire language behind it. Like all creative writing, there must be rules you set for its creation. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind Olondrian, and especially how the names of characters were created?
Sofia Samatar: Making up the languages was one of my favorite parts of creating the world of Olondria. The biggest influence on the Olondrian language is Arabic, which I had studied before writing A Stranger in Olondria, and was speaking daily while writing the book in South Sudan. I was inspired by Arabic plurals, for example, to devise a complicated system of plural patterns for Olondrian. Olondrian pronouns resemble Arabic pronouns as well. And, like Arabic, Olondrian has no P sound (any word with a P in it has been imported from another language).
The creation of the language was closely tied to the development of names. I don’t have anything close to a complete Olondrian vocabulary, but I do know what the names mean. “Vain” means forest, for example, so there are a bunch of “vains” on my map — Kelevain, Fanlevain, and so on. “Kele” means hunting. “Fanle” means apple.
To invent the names, I chose small chunks of sound that seemed pretty to me and played with combining them. Few activities can be more self-indulgent. It was wonderful
(7) VALLEY FORGE SHARES CoC DRAFT. The Valley Forge in 2017 NASFiC bid’s “Progress Update 2” links to its draft Code of Conduct and other policies. (They also unveiled their mascot, Proxie the Celestial Raccoon.)
Next, we have had a number of queries about what our code of conduct will look like if and when we win the bid. Like I mentioned in the last progress update, we’ve been working on a draft of the CoC for a while now, and it has been a whole heck of a lot of work for the entire team. After many, many hours of sweat and toil by all of us, we’re happy to be able to share version 1.0 of the Valley Forge 2017 Code of Conduct (html version) with you.
Now obviously, calling it “version 1.0” implies that we expect updates, and we do. The convention is a long way (and a successful vote) away and there are some details that we just can’t get in place until we have more structure, like phone numbers and room locations and websites. A lot can change in a year and a half, so what you see here may not be exactly the same thing you see if and when you show up at our door – but substantively, we are happy with what we have and are proud to put our names behind it. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it.
We’re also elbow-deep in the guts of an internal procedures manual for how to deal with a variety of scenarios, including what to do if we receive a report of a code of conduct violation. That’s not quite ready for prime time yet, and may not be ready until we have a more formal concom structure in place of our current bidcom (in other words, until and unless we win the bid). If we can whip something into releasable shape before then, we will publish that as well.
(8) THE KESSEL RUNS. It is alleged the full title of Kitbashed’s “Complete History of the Millennium Falcon” is “The Complete Conceptual History of The Millennium Falcon or How I Started Worrying and Lost My Mind Completely Over a Fictional Spaceship Someone Please Do Something Send Help Why Are You Still Reading Someone Do Something.”
The Pork Burger
The ILM model shop built the new Pirate Ship model, and quickly found a way to distinguish it from the old one in conversation, namely by adopting Grant McCune’s nickname for it: The Pork Burger.
And if you want my theory, that’s where the myth of the design being based off of a burger Lucas was eating got started.
(9) FURRY CUSTOMS. The Independent learned from Twitter that “Syrian refugees in Canada got housed in same hotel as VancouFur furry convention and the children loved it”.
The fifth annual VancouFur convention, in which people dress up as fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics, was held at the same hotel where a number of Syrian refugees are currently being housed.
A message was given to all attendees at the convention that the hotel had been chosen as one of the temporary housing locations for the Syrian refugees in Canada, and that “a major concern that VancouFur has is ensuring that each and every one of the refugees (and attendees) feels welcome and safe and the fact that this is likely to be a major shock to them”.
“Keep in mind that they likely will not want to interact with you and consent is important to everyone,” the message added.
But luckily for everyone involved, the refugees – especially the children – loved it.
— summer lynx ?? (@Jinxthelynx) March 8, 2016
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
Rockmore was a master of the theremin, the world’s first electronic music instrument and first instrument that could be played without being touched.
On what would have been her 105th birthday, Rockmore has been commemorated with a Google Doodle. The interactive game teaches you to play the theremin by hovering your mouse over the notes to play a melody.
(11) PROPHET IN HIS OWN LAND. Even George R.R. Martin won’t be allowed a hometown premiere of Game of Thrones Season 6.
And yes, it’s true. After last year’s unfortunate leak, HBO is not sending out any press screeners this year, to try and cut down on the piracy.
They have also eliminated all the regional premieres, including (sob) the one we had scheduled at my own Jean Cocteau Cinema. This year the only premiere will be the big one in LA at Grauman’s Chinese.
The Jean Cocteau will, however, go ahead with our season 5 marathon. Admission is free, so watch our website and newsletter for show times.
(12) LESSER OF TWO WEEVILS. Joe Hill brings his skills as a professional horror writer to bear on the Presidential race in his latest “Perspective”.
I asked my three sons and a cousin what would be scarier: 8 years of a Trump presidency, or two kaiju attacks, one on Washington D.C. and one on L.A., separated by 8 years. Assume standard kaiju size (20 stories, 80,000 tons), atomic breath, acid blood, probably the ability to produce subsonic blasts with one whap of the tail. Immune to conventional nuclear weapons. Highly aggressive.
By a vote of 3 – 1, they agreed two kaiju attacks would be much worse for the nation than if Trump were to become President of the United States. So if you feel depressed by Trump’s toxic mix of misogyny, xenophobia, and bullying, look to this for a cheer-up. It could be worse. You could be jellied beneath the trampling scaly feet of a salamander the size of a skyscraper.
Admit it. You feel better all ready.
(13) THIS JUST IN. “New Survey Finds 92% Of Evangelicals Would Have Supported Genghis Khan” reports Babylon Bee.
Genghis Khan, the genocidal warlord who conquered most of Central and Northeast Asia during the first part of the thirteenth century, enjoys widespread support from twenty-first century evangelicals, a new CNN poll revealed Tuesday.
“The level of support for the Supreme Khan of the Mongols is off the charts,” explained Malcom Johnstone, the pollster who conducted the survey for CNN. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Clearly, there is a strong correlation between being pro-God and pro-Genghis.”
Still, many Christians question the accuracy of the new findings.
Like Buddy Buchanan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I’ve been in a Bible church my whole life, and I’ve never met anyone who likes this Genghis fellow,” Buchanan revealed to sources. “I just don’t get it. I can’t think of a single person who supports him. I remember there was a cool-looking Khan in one of those Star Trek movies, but I don’t think that’s the same guy.”
(14) SHARKNADO FOUR. “Syfy and The Asylum announce Sharknado 4 casting” – Sci-Fi Storm has the story.
Syfy and The Asylum announced today that Ian Ziering will slay again in Sharknado 4 (working title), reprising his role as shark-fighting hero Fin Shepard, while Tara Reid is set to return as April Wexler to reveal the outcome of the fan-voted #AprilLives or #AprilDies social campaign. The fourth addition to the hit global franchise also sees the return of David Hasselhoff as Gil Shepard and Ryan Newman as Claudia Shepard.
(15) FOREVER FANS. Future War Stories presents the case for picking Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War as the best military sf work.
In 1974, Joe Haldeman, armed with his bachelors in Physics and Astronomy along with his experiences in the Vietnam War, would craft a military science fiction tale of UNEF soldier William Mendella. This book, The Forever War, would go on to win every major award and prize, rocketing Joe Haldeman into the realm of sci-fi literature. Since its original publication, The Forever War would be re-edited, translated into every major language, and be adapted into various forms, including an major studio film has been in the works since 2008 and the effort seems to be active. The book’s legacy is being hailed has the best military science fiction book of all time and it has been a source of inspiration for decades. In this installment of the continuing Masterworks series, we will explore and explain why Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War is the best literary military science fiction work. A word of caution: this blog article contains spoilers on key moments of the book. Read at your own risk!
(16) STROSS INTERVIEW. Charles Stross, in an interview at SFF World, thinks magic might be a better metaphor for one of sf’s typical tropes.
And what of newer authors? Are there any personal favourites?
In the past year, I’ve read and been incredibly impressed by Seth Dickinson’s “The Traitor” (US: “The Traitor Baru Cormorant”); grim, harrowing, and deeply interesting for his use of secondary world fantasy as a tool for interrogating kyriarchy. I’ve also been impressed by Alyx Dellamonica’s “Child of a Hidden Sea” (and sequel “A Daughter of No Nation”), V. E. Schwab’s “A Darker Shade of Magic”, and Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted”—secondary world/portal fantasies for the most part. SF … I find myself having a knee-jerk reaction against most of what comes to me as highly-recommended or highly popular SF these days; I think this is partly because—for me, these days—magic works better as a metaphor for depicting alienating technology than actual ham-fisted attempts at describing the thing in itself. (And also because so much of the exotic tech in SF is basically warmed-over magic wands.)
(17) VINESPLAINING. In this GEICO commercial, Tarzan and Jane get into an argument about asking for directions. (I may have linked this before, but I can’t find it…)
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James H. Burns, Will R., and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]
(1) LE GUIN DOCUMENTARY FUNDED. Arwen Curry e-mailed word to supporters of the Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin documentary Kickstarter that they reached $200,000 in pledges today.
Now that we have raised our entire budget, our NEH grant will be released. That means we’ll be able to stop fundraising and start production right away….
That also means everyone will get Ursula’s list of What to Read in 2016! I can’t wait to see what’s on there.
With 48 hours left in the campaign, pledges are still trickling in. Rest assured, we’ll use every dime toward making the film more worthy of its subject. As we move forward over these next months, I’ll keep you posted on our progress.
(2) THE EAR DOCTOR. Big Finish will bring back David Tennant and Catherine Tate as the Tenth Doctor and his companion Donna Nobel in three forthcoming audio dramas reports Radio Times.
And there’s an audio excerpt at “Keep calm – but we’ve got the exclusive first clip of David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s return to Doctor Who”.
According to the Big Finish website, the stories will see the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble travel to a spaceport, discover a deadly weapon called the Time Reaver and find deadly iPads at the London Technology museum. In other words, some classic action from for the returning characters.
(3) INGENIOUS FELAPTON. Camestros Felapton asks: Can you identify the titles of these 2015 novels from a combination of emojis? (Repeated here for the benefit of anyone who didn’t see it in last night’s comments.) Note — there may be a problem with this transcription — it shows up okay in the draft, but the preview is all question marks. We’ll see….
1. 🐘 🌙
2. ⌚ 🐙
3. 🍎 🍏 🍎 🍏 🍎 🍏 🍎
4. 🌱 🌞 🍂 ❄ ❓
5. ⬆ √
(4) YOU WILL BELIEVE A BOOK CAN FLY. Rob Boffard thinks launching a book is a literal act. He celebrated his new book by sending a recording of himself doing a reading into suborbit — “Sci-Fi Novel ‘Zero-G’ Soars to Edge of Space”
A new sci-fi novel launched on a truly fitting mission last month, as documented in a new video: Rob Boffard’s “Zero-G” cruised to the upper stratosphere for a very unusual author reading at the edge of space.
The book ascended via weather balloon on Jan. 18 from the town of Ross on Wye in southern England. Once the rig got high up in the sky, an audio recording of Boffard reading the prologue and the first chapter began to play loudly. Boffard’s crew documented the process in an extended video, as well as through tweets as it all happened.
(5) ROWLING’S SECRET PAN PLAN. Emily Asher-Perrin makes her case for believing “Dumbledore’s Origin Story is the Predecessor to Peter Pan” at Tor.com.
When J.K. Rowling was writing The Tragic Tale of Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald, do you think she realized that she was actually writing a very scary version of Peter Pan? I had a minor brain explosion last week while rereading The Deathly Hallows, and the more I think about it, the more adamant I become…
…wanna go down a weird rabbit hole with me?
Sure, it’s not an exact parallel, but there are plenty of uncanny similarities that remind me of Peter Pan when I think of Albus Dumbledore’s youth. Before I go trying to explain my train of thought, let me first give you my cast of characters—
- Grindelwald: Peter Pan
- Albus: Wendy Darling
- Aberforth: John Darling
- Ariana: Michael Darling
Here’s the piece of Rowling’s text that put me in mind of Pan in the first place:
…and there on the window ledge sat perched, like a giant bird, a young man with golden hair. In the split second that the lantern’s light illuminated him, Harry saw the delight upon his handsome face, then the intruder shot a Stunning Spell from his wand and jumped neatly backward out of the window with a crow of laughter.
(6) GROSS INCOME. “Ask the Tax Czarina: Bartering ” at the SFWA Blog tries to dispel magical thinking about a common source of noncash income.
To sum up, here are some real world examples. My client provides editing and mentoring services for writers. I prepare and sign her tax return, which includes her writing business. I will have bartered tax return preparation income and a deduction for her editing services. My client has bartered editing income and a deduction for her tax return being prepared. While tax return preparation usually goes on Schedule A as an itemized deduction, it may be deducted directly against a business, if that’s the reason my client has her tax return prepared and signed by a paid preparer. The transaction offsets for both of us, it’s a wash. Assuming the amount is under $600, neither of us issues the other a Form 1099-MISC….
In summary, barter transactions are reportable. Transactions that wash are less of an issue than transactions that don’t. The above examples demonstrate that bartering might or might not result in net taxable income for either or both parties. Sometimes it’s clear how the transaction should be treated and sometimes it’s not.
(7) SPACE TO THINK. Tor.com has 10 of Kyle Cassidy’s photos of sf authors’ writing spaces. The lens used to shoot Samuel Delany’s work area makes it look like the International Space Station. Most of the others look like the comfortable living rooms of affluent people – no shots of people with laptops on borrowed tables at Starbucks – with the exception of Joe Haldeman who is writing in the dark by the light of a lantern.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(11) A SERIES OF WORLDCONS REMEMBERED. Kevin Henney writes down his vivid impressions of Worldcons of decades gone by for asemantic.
Two years later, again with Josh, I visited Worldcon ’86 in Atlanta. For a teenager from North London, even cocooned within the convention hotels, this visit to the American South was an eye-opener…. the view from the front seat revealed a shifting cultural landscape you didn’t see on TV. Sidewalks were invisibly colour coded, black one side, white the other. Worldcon’s name that year, ConFederation, also shows how far we’ve come — you’d have to be a sad puppy to think that name was appropriate now.
I was there for the full five days. There were five of us saving money and shift-sleeping in a room for two, but I used that room for little more than storage and showering. I did the first three days on three hours sleep, giving myself the luxury of seven hours over the final two — a sleeping pattern I could get away with only as an adolescent (or, a few years later, as a new parent). Worldcon was big even back then. It was non-stop sessions, parties, caffeine, bumping into American gods like Frederick Pohl, faux phaser fights in hallways between Klingons and Starfleet (pick a side, go on pick a side…), talking to people you didn’t know, making friends that you did actually keep in touch with for a couple of years, even without cyberspace assistance of email and social media.
And some of whom I would meet again at Conspiracy in Brighton at the same Metropole hotel I’d visited in 1984. Tom and I were there for the weekend…
This Worldcon was smaller and less grand than the one in Atlanta, with a 1980s British seaside-town twist. But it still dwarfed 1984 Eastercon. There were writers I’d seen at SeaCon and in Atlanta, there were guests of honour (including Jim Burns), there were up-and-coming writers (a certain Iain Banks, with and without the M, comes to mind), there was Hawkwind (Tom’s kind of thing, but thanks I’ll pass), there were parties (in the hotel and on the beach) and more.
And then I took a break from cons and fandom. Quite a long break. A fairy-tale sleep whose spell was broken in part by Josh (yup, same one, after all these years) and BristolCon. And in good time for Loncon, Worldcon 2014….
(12) OF ALL THE NERVES. Soft tissues like this are rarely preserved — “Exquisitely detailed 520 million-year-old fossil shows individual nerves” in the Washington Post.
Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis wasn’t exactly a beautiful animal: The crustacean-like Cambrian creature had a long, segmented body and an unholy number of legs that it used to scuttle across the ocean floor. But scientists are oohing and ahhing over the ugly arthropod anyway, and for good reason. The nervous system of one 520 million-year-old specimen shows some of the best and most well-preserved nerves ever seen in an animal of that era.
According to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the fossil may be the oldest and most detailed example of a central nervous system yet identified, with even individual nerves — rarely preserved soft tissue — visible enough to study.
(13) CORMAN SUES CITCO. A 1996 Worldcon GoH, “Roger Corman Lawsuit Blames Citco for Losing $60 Million of Family’s Money”.
The famed filmmaker says he wasn’t told that his money was being managed by troubled hedge fund manager Buddy Fletcher.
Roger Corman and his wife Julie Corman, together responsible for hundreds of films and the mentoring of some of Hollywood’s biggest directors and actors, have filed a lawsuit that says they put money in an investment fund managed by George Soros before the money was moved and they ended up losing up to $60 million.
According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, the administrator of the Soros fund was the Citco Group. The Cormans’ primary contact there was Ermanno Unternaehrer.
In 1996, Unternaehrer convinced the Cormans to put money in a fund managed by Citco, instead of with Soros, alleges the complaint. The Cormans say they were told that “the Citco fund was a safe, secure place to invest their moneys, and that Citco would administer and manage the fund to ensure continued high performance.”
For the next six years, things seemed fine. In 2002, Unternaehrer is said to have recommended that a vehicle named “Pasig, Ltd” be set up in the British Virgin Islands for tax reasons. Corman says he initially was a director of the newly incorporated company, but a few months later, upon advice, Corman says he resigned, becoming only a signatory on the account. By 2008, the lawsuit says that there was $73 million under Citco’s “complete control” and management fell to Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher.
(14) NOT ON YOUR AM DIAL. “Repeating fast radio bursts recorded for the first time” at Science News.
Fast radio bursts from deep space have never been seen to repeat — until now.
Ten blasts of radio waves recorded last May and June all come from the same direction, researchers report online March 2 in Nature. So did a signal detected in 2012, say Laura Spitler, an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, and colleagues. All 11 signals were detected at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, last a few milliseconds and, except for one, all appear to originate in other galaxies (SN: 8/9/14, p. 22). For the repeater, each of the signals encountered the same amount of intergalactic plasma, meaning they traveled the same distance. That shared feature makes an ironclad case for a common source, says Duncan Lorimer, an astrophysicist at West Virginia University in Morgantown and co-discoverer of the first FRB, reported in 2007. The question now is what fraction of sources repeat, he says. There may be multiple classes of FRBs, with some recurring and some not, each triggered by something different.
(15) THE GUY WHO DIDN’T MAKE MILLIONS. “Russ Heath’s Comic About Being Ripped Off By Roy Lichtenstein Will Give You A New Appreciation For The Hero Initiative” at Comics Alliance.
If you’re not familiar with the Hero Initiative, they’re one of our favorite organizations here at ComicsAlliance — a nonprofit set up to create a “financial safety net” for comic book creators in need, helping with medical bills and living expenses. It’s one thing to know that they’re doing good things in the world, but Heath’s comic, showing both the help provided during his surgery and the simple pleasure of a bottle of wine, really shows just how much good they’re doing.
(16) THE BEAST WITH THREE BACKS. J.K. Rowling has the story:
J.K. Rowling just confirmed that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the Harry Potter prequel currently in production with Warner Bros., won’t just be one movie. It will be THREE.
She made the announcement on Twitter, in response to a tweet from a fan who’d heard that the stage play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, would also be a movie. It won’t. But that’s okay, because now we’ve got three prequels to look forward to
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) February 29, 2016
(17) SPACE AGE LEFTOVERS. Abandoned In Place: Preserving America’s Space History by Roland Miller, published on March 1, collects images of the now-discarded facilities that helped America reach outer space.
Stenciled on many of the deactivated facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the evocative phrase “abandoned in place” indicates the structures that have been deserted. Some structures, too solid for any known method of demolition, stand empty and unused in the wake of the early period of US space exploration. Now Roland Miller’s color photographs document the NASA, Air Force, and Army facilities across the nation that once played a crucial role in the space race.
Rapidly succumbing to the elements and demolition, most of the blockhouses, launch towers, tunnels, test stands, and control rooms featured in Abandoned in Place are located at secure military or NASA facilities with little or no public access. Some have been repurposed, but over half of the facilities photographed no longer exist. The haunting images collected here impart artistic insight while preserving an important period in history.
(18) A UK MARKET. Unsung Stories is an independent publisher of “intelligent genre fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror and importantly those works that blur the boundaries between genres.”
They have recently launched a new digital line of short works and novellas, Unsung Signals.
Unsung Signals features mid-length fiction, stories too long for magazines or journals but too short for traditional book-length publication. We believe stories should be as long as they need to be. We’re giving the writers the freedom to write the way they want without the need to pad or trim unnecessarily, to give a home to work that would otherwise be left unpublished, or altered to fit a format.
Here are a few details about their market for short stories —
How long is short?
We will consider stories up to 3000 words (preferred length is under 2000 words though).
Payment and Rights:
We pay £25 per story. For this we get first electronic rights exclusive for three months, with non-exclusive archival rights. We’ll pay within 30 days of publication via PayPal.
(19) FINDING DORY TRAILER. Disney-Pixar has dropped the first full Finding Dory trailer.
The long-awaited sequel to the beloved 2003 hit Finding Nemo puts the focus this time on the forgetful fish Dory, voiced again by Ellen DeGeneres. Taking place six months after the original underwater adventure, the sequel sends Dory on a quest to find her long-lost family, with the help of Marlin (voiced again by Albert Brooks), Crush (voiced by returning director Andrew Stanton) and several other returning ocean creatures
[Thanks to JJ, and John King Tarpinian, Gregory N. Hullender, Gary Budden, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]