By Mark L. Blackman: On the night of Wednesday, October 21, the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in a pre-Halloween event featured horror writers Joe Hill and Laird Barron. In its new normal (or abnormal), with the Series’ longtime venue, the KGB Bar in Manhattan’s East Village shut down due to the pandemic (though it’s starting to reopen with limited capacity), for the eighth time, the presentation was livestreamed on YouTube. (Hill called the Bar “one of my New York City happy places.” Missing the full KGB Bar experience, I considered climbing several flights of stairs before logging on.)
As the evening began, Hill and Barron schmoozed with co-hosts Ellen Datlow (who has been hosting these readings for 20 years) and Matthew Kressel about everything from what they were and weren’t drinking (Madeira is too sweet), masks and pizza breath, candied bacon (a mix of sweet and savory), and that no one liked getting apples or food trick or treating. Kressel relayed that the evening was sponsored by Tor’s Nightfire line (and not by Jeffrey Toobin), then introduced the first reader.
Laird Barron is the author of several books, including The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, Swift to Chase and Worse Angels., and short fiction that has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, “stories about the evil that men do.” He spent his early years in Alaska and currently resides in the Rondout Valley in upstate New York. His reading selection was “Lorn,” a work in progress set in the wilderness around a dying town (“Lorn” is all that remained on its sign), which he began with a caution that it was “R-rated” and included animal violence. “Animals can be murderers,” he said, and related a true story about a Husky serial killer that had slaughtered sled dogs. Two brothers, Paul and Casey Arnaz, are recruited by an old buddy to hunt a predator killing the area’s pets; it could be a late eccentric’s menagerie on the loose or “local yokels who’ve gone back to the old ways.”
During a break, Hill was asked about the TARDIS behind him. He and his family were huge fans of David Tennant’s stint as the Doctor, and he even (with help from Neil Gaiman) pitched stories to Doctor Who; but they don’t, never have and never will accept scripts written by Americans. Datlow segued into his introduction.
Joe Hill (yes, I saw Joe Hill last night) is the author of Full Throttle, Strange Weather, The Fireman, NOS4A2, Heart-Shaped Box and Horns, the short story collection 20th Century Ghosts, and the comics and graphic novels Locke & Key, Basketful of Heads and Plunge.(the latter under his Hill House Comics imprint with DC, ). Much of his work has been adapted or is in development for film and TV. He is, incidentally, the son of Stephen and Tabitha King, and, he joked, his wife “collects writers’ tears.”
He read from “Faun,” a short story in Full Throttle. A very wealthy young man is invited to a presentation in Boston about joining a curated hunt in Maine. For a quarter of a million dollars he can go through a little door and stalk a faun (a variety of satyr, a goatman with hooves and horns). (Hill got to do a Maine accent and a sort of Mickey Mouse voice.) The story alludes to Bradbury’s “A Sound of Distant Thunder,” but, as Hill revealed during the Q&A that followed, was also inspired by Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia; however, instead of decent English children going through a wardrobe, here a spoiled young man is the traveler. Imagine running hunts, he said, into Middle Earth or Narnia, he said.
The Q&A and discussion that followed was far-ranging. The X-Files, Hill thought, was better as a romance (will they or won’t they) than as horror (the monster of the week). Is it easier to write horror when the world feels like a horror story? Barron said that he’s as isolated as when he lived in the woods. Hill said that when he writes, he’s buried in the mechanics of each paragraph, and described himself as “a wicked overwriter” (“Faun” should have been shorter, had “fewer words”). What he writes, he felt, “isn’t scary;” other people’s stories scare him.
Some horror stories, Hill continued, are “like comfort food;” Barron also finds horror “comforting” – “there’s a filter.” In some horror stories (and movies), observed Datlow (who’s edited more than a few horror anthologies), the good are saved and evil punished, though not always. Said Hill, if you make sacrifices, the worst things in the world can be driven back. Horror reminds us of our shared humanity. “Good horror is about empathy, not sadism” (“torture porn”).
The conversation shifted, appropriately, to horror movie viewing for Halloween. Barron said that a favorite was John Carpenter’s The Thing, also Hawks’ and Campbell’s short story “Who Goes There?” Datlow cited Personal Shopper, Get Out and Hereditary. Hill quipped that his horror viewing was the next night’s Presidential Debate. The Swedish film Sauna and Let the Right One In were also mentioned.
Favorite villain? Hannibal Lecter was shared, though Barron liked Nicholson’s. Hill said that he wants heroes to root for, but then cited Walter White and Bruce the Shark from Jaws, who’s “the perfect menace.” Barron observed that Jaws is, in essence, “a slasher film.” The shark is a shark; she isn’t evil. This reminded Datlow of Peter Watts’ “The Things,” The Thing from the Thing’s point of view.
Datlow concluded by announcing upcoming readers:
November 18: William Gibson and Cat Rambo
December 16: Priya Sharma and Justin Key
January 20, 2021: Lauren Beukes and Usman T. Malik
February 17: Kathleen Jennings and Shveta Thakrar
All dates are the third Wednesday of the month. The new setup allows readers from all over the world, noted Datlow, though time zones do limit things.
Within an hour of hearing that she had won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a top honor given to science fiction published in the UK, Namwali Serpell also heard the news that the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor would not be charged for her murder.
“I received these two pieces of news about being a black woman in 2020 and it felt like a kind of whiplash, but it’s a feeling I’ve grown used to,” she told the BBC. “So I’ve been trying to figure out how to acknowledge both the honor that this award grants to my novel and the feeling that the political revolution I’m describing in the novel is yet to come.”
She decided to donate her prize money, £2,020.00, to the Louisville Community Bail Fund, with the goal of helping those who have been detained while protesting Breonna Taylor’s death….
…I tried to find a replacement for a show I’d outgrown. I wanted to find representation, something that could comfort and validate me as I move through a world that doesn’t accommodate me. I couldn’t find anything that reflected my real experience.
What I found instead was horror and fantasy.
Instead of real-world dramas like Switched at Birth, I started watching darker fare like Hannibal and Teen Wolf. Even though I couldn’t relate specifically to lycanthropy or hyper-empathy that borders on telepathy, I related with the emotional arcs these shows presented; both shows follow their protagonist trying to find their place in a world that either persecuted them or paid them little attention. I found myself rapt at the way they presented identity and community. Both Hannibal’s blood-soaked surrealism and Teen Wolf’s paranormal fantasy hit harder—and felt more relevant to my experience—than any realistic portrayal of deafness I found.
(3) RHIANNA ON RADIO. Today’s BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour has an interview with Rhianna Pratchett, the fantasy games designer and author, about her work, her latest book and includes a bit on her life with dad.. Rhianna’s interview is about 35 minutes in. The program can be downloaded as an .mp3
(4) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings on October 21 with Joe Hill and Laird Barron will be livestreamed on YouTube at 7 p.m. Eastern. Link forthcoming.
Joe Hill is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Full Throttle, Strange Weather, and The Fireman, among others. Much of his work has been adapted or is in development for film and TV. His third novel NOS4A2 was the basis for the AMC program of the same name, while his comic Locke & Key — co-created with artist Gabriel Rodriguez — is now a hit series for Netflix. The fall sees the release of five graphic novels under his Hill House Comics imprint with DC, including his own Basketful of Heads and Plunge.
Laird Barron spent his early years in Alaska. He is the author of several books, including The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, Swift to Chase, and Worse Angels. His work has also appeared in many magazines and anthologies. Barron currently resides in the Rondout Valley writing stories about the evil that men do.
… And sometimes magic happens. A poem turns into a picture book. A short story turns into a novel. A novel or a picture book turn into films or tv shows. The magic is not the turning, it is in the money! As my late agent said, “It can’t be reprinted unless it’s printed.” Which made me understand why sometimes you can sell an 8-line poem for a hundred dollars and someone pays $10,000 to reprint it. This actually happened to me. Once. But once is enough for a story and a moral lesson.
But if you write a lot of short stuff…it can become BIG. And what was a small idea (a scary story in Asimov’s magazine, another two or three in various Datlow anthologies, or Greenberg anthologies, or…And suddenly you have a Big Idea—a collection.
…Unofficial and incomplete texts are nothing new to readers of Franz Kafka; the problems of textual authority haunt nearly all his work. Kafka’s aesthetic practice cultivates a resistance to finality and what Judith Butler calls a “poetics of non-arrival.” The bulk of the literary output he left to posterity, as Michael Hofmann notes, “ends” rather than “finishes.” More crucially, all of Kafka’s novels, and a considerable haul of his short stories, beast fables, and aphorisms, owe their existence to Max Brod’s refusal to honor his best friend’s wish and burn all the manuscripts in his possession (unlike Kafka’s last lover Dora Dymant, who destroyed those in her keeping). The material in The Lost Writings is no more fringe or “lost” than any other unfinished text like The Castle, The Trial, Amerika, “The Great Wall of China,” “Investigations of a Dog,” or “The Burrow,” since Kafka’s publication history has been determined by the accidents of editorial preferences and decisions over the last century.
Regardless, Kafka, along with his editorial and translational collaborators, is one of our most prolific contemporary writers…
The only thing better than reading C.S. Lewis’s novels would be listening to Lewis himself read from his novels. It is now possible to hear Lewis reading from both Perelandra (1943) and That Hideous Strength (1945). Additionally, Lewis fans can listen to him reading the famous opening section of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in resonant Middle English.
These tracks were first recorded at Lewis’s home, the Kilns, in August 1960. After Joy Davidman Lewis passed away in July 1960, her former husband, Bill Gresham, traveled to Oxford to see his two sons, David, 16, and Douglas, 14, as well as to meet Lewis face to face. Gresham brought a portable tape recorder with him and apparently asked Lewis if he would do some readings….
October 1920 — The Belgian detective Hercule Poirot first appeared in Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which was published by John Lane in hardback though the first true publication was as a weekly serial in The Times which included the maps of the house and other illustrations included in the book. This novel would be one of the first ten books published by Penguin Books when it began publishing in 1935. If you need a genre connection, David Suchet who played the most popular Poirot showed up in the Twelfth Doctor story, “The Landlord”, and Agatha Christie herself is portrayed in the Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and The Wasp”.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 2, 1885 – Ruth Bryan Owen. Pioneer filmmaker, first woman U.S. ambassador (to Denmark; appointed by F.D. Roosevelt). Collected Scandinavian fairy tales, The Castle in the Silver Wood. Many adventures at home and abroad. Wikipedia entry here. (Died 1954) [JH]
Born October 2, 1906 – Willy Ley. Early student of rocket science. Gifted author of science-fact articles, two Hugos for them. Fled Nazi Germany 1935. Rockets (1944); The Conquest of Space (1949, with Chesley Bonestell). Science column in Galaxy 1951-1969. Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel (1957). Regular participant at SF cons; sole Guest of Honor at Philcon II the 11th Worldcon. One novel; four shorter stories under another name. Much more in and out of our field. (Died 1969) [JH]
Born October 2, 1909 – Alex Raymond. Outstanding pro artist for us with Flash Gordon. After combat service in the U.S. Marines, drew the also excellent Rip Kirby (detective fiction; won a Reuben). Eisner Hall of Fame, Soc. Illustrators Hall of Fame. (Died 1956) [JH]
Born October 2, 1911 — Jack Finney. Author of many novels but only a limited number of genre, to wit The Body Snatchers, Time and Again and From Time to Time. He would publish About Time, a short story collection which hah the time stories, “The Third Level” and “I Love Galesburg in the Springtime”. (Died 1995.) (CE)
Born October 2, 1944 — Vernor Vinge, 76. Winner of five Hugo Awards, none for what I consider his best series which is the Realtime/Bobble series. I’m also very fond of his short fiction, much of which is collected in The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge, though the last eighteen years’ worth of his work remain uncollected as far as I can tell. (CE)
Born October 2, 1947 – Ann Broomhead, F.N., 73. Chaired two Boskones (22 & 51), co-chaired two (12 & 33). Edited Reynolds, Deep Navigation. Co-edited (with Tim Szczesuil) Bellairs, Magic Mirrors; Dozois and others, Strange Days; Stross, Scratch Monkey. Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award). [JH]
Born October 2, 1948 — Avery Brooks, 71. Obviously he’s got his Birthday write-up for being Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine, but I’m going to note his superb work also as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and its spinoff A Man Called Hawk which are aren’t even genre adjacent. He retired from video after DS9 but is an active tenured theater professor at Rutgers. (CE)
Born October 2, 1968 – Range Murata, 52.Animé, manga, video games. Seiun for Best Artist of the Year, 2006. Character designer on Last Exile, see here. A 2015 interview (in English) here. [JH]
Born October 2, 1953 — Walter Jon Williams, 67. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend. I also like his Metropolitan novels, be that SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m am surprised how few Awards that he’s won, just three with two Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”. (CE)
Born October 2, 1972 — Graham Sleight, 48. He’s The Managing Editor of the third edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction which won the Hugo for Best Related Work at Chicon 7. He’s also a critic whose work can be found in Locus, Strange Horizons, The New York Review Of Science Fiction, and Vector. And he’s a Whovian who edited The Unsilent Library, a book of writings about the Russell Davies era of the show, and The Doctor’s Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who. (CE)
Born October 2, 1974 — Michelle Krusiec, 46. She was the eighteen-year-old Molly O’Brien in DS9’s “Time’s Orphan’s”. She had a recurring role as Nadine Park on the fourth season of Fringe, and appeared as Wu Mei on Community which we’ve agreed is almost genre, if not genre. She showed up on Supergirl as Natalie Hawkings in “Parasite Lost”. (CE)
Born October 2, 1981 – Leah Wilson, 39. Currently Editor-in-Chief for BenBella Books’ Smart Pop. Here is an interview about Through the Wardrobe (i.e. C.S. Lewis’ Narnia) from Ben Bella’s Teen Libris. Here is Boarding the “Enterprise”. [JH]
And xkcd has a brilliant chart comparing the effectiveness of various masks.
(12) QUINO MOURNED. Harrison Smith in the Washington Post has an obituary for Argentinian cartoonist Quino, who died on September 30 at age 88. Quino’s strip “Mafalda,” which ran between 1964-1973, was a strip in the Peanuts style with sharp criticism of poverty, injustice, and political repression.
…When Mafalda spots workmen trying to locate a gas leaks, she asks: “Are you searching for our national roots?” In another sequence, Mafalda’s pet turtle is revealed to have an unusual name, Bureaucracy. When a friend asks why she gave it that name, Mafalda replies that she needs to come back the next day for more information. She can’t say exactly when.
“In Argentina I had to censor myself, because when I started to draw in Buenos Aires they clearly told me ‘no military, no religion, no sex,’ ” Quino once said, according to the Agence France-Presse. “And then I talked about all that, but in another way.”
(13) KEEPING TRACK. The Digital Antiquarian revisits the triumph of Chris Sawyer’s Transport Tycoon. (I sure spent plenty of hours playing it.)
…So, while he was waiting for his better-known colleagues to send him the next chunks of their own games for conversion to MS-DOS, Sawyer began to tinker. By the time Elite II was wrapping up, he had an ugly but working demo of an enhanced version of Railroad Tycoon which did indeed shift the viewpoint from vertically overhead to isometric. “I decided to devote all my time to the game for a few months and see what developed,” he says. He convinced a talented free-lance artist named Simon Foster, who was already an established name in commercial graphics but was looking to break into games, to provide illustrations, even as he made the bold decision to step up to cutting-edge SVGA graphics, at more than twice the resolution of standard VGA. At the end of that few months, he was more convinced than ever that he had a winner on his hands: “Even people who didn’t normally play computer games would sit for hours on end, totally engrossed in building railway lines, routing trains, and making as much profit as possible.” He soon made his train simulator into an all-encompassing transportation simulator, adding trucks and buses, ships and ferries, airplanes and even helicopters.
(14) CHILD SIGHTING. Michael Clair, in “Baby Yoda is a Braves fan” on mlb.com, says that Baby Yoda made an appearance in Atlanta during the Red-Braves playoff series, accompanied by Braves mascot Blooper cosplaying as “The Mandabloopian.”
…Matte paintings are everywhere in movies. Picture the vast, secret government warehouse that closes Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), or the image of the Statue of Liberty, half-buried in sand at the end of Planet of the Apes (1968). Or the view of London and the River Thames that unfolds behind Mary Poppins as she rises, umbrella in hand.
This detailed portrayal of ancient Rome, used in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960), was painted with oils on glass by Peter Ellenshaw. Using Ellenshaw’s painting, the director framed groups of actors moving about the faux Roman city, which includes details of the Parthenon, Temple of Athena, and other well-known buildings. Black blobs on the painting indicate where the director inserted these actions into his film.
…Ellenshaw’s son, Harrison, who enjoyed his own career as a matte painter, estimates the Spartacus piece took his father eight to ten hours, spread over several weeks. “He would work on more than one at a time,” he remembers. “The schedule was based on making the deadline for the final negative cut in time to make enough prints for the film’s release.”
Now more than 60 years old, Ellenshaw’s Spartacus painting needed some conservation before going on display. Before replacing a yellowing varnish layer with a new, UV-protecting one, Kathryn Harada, an L.A.-based paintings conservator, worked to repair cracks in the glass and paint. When conservators discovered that Ellenshaw himself had retouched the painting, years ago, they chose to preserve his efforts….
…Just a couple days ago, Jeff Goldblum promised that he’d recreate one of his scenes from “Jurassic Park” if 1,000 people would “register to vote, or check your registration status, or request a mail-in ballot.” On Friday, his character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, was back.
“That was fast!” Goldblum wrote on Instagram, posting a video recreating his famous “chaos theory” scene from the 1993 movie. In the original moment, he dropped water gently on Laura Dern’s hand. In the recreation, he’s got a different scene partner.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “William Shatner feat. Pat Travers ‘I Put A Spell On You'” on YouTube is an animated film by Balazs Grof of a track from Shat’s new blues album featuring Shatner’s take on the classic Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dann, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
The winners in the 24 competitive categories for the 2020 Audie Awards, including the Audiobook of the Year, were announced by the Audio Publishers Association (APA) on March 2.
The Audie Awards® recognize excellence in audiobook and spoken word entertainment.
At the Audie Awards® Gala a special Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Stephen King.
Winners of genre interest include:
The Ten Thousand Doors of
Januaryby Alix E. Harrow, narrated by
January LaVoy, published by Hachette Audio
Emergency Skinby N.K. Jemisin, narrated by
Jason Isaacs, published by Brilliance Publishing
Full Throttleby Joe Hill, narrated by Zachary
Quinto, Wil Wheaton, Kate Mulgrew, Neil Gaiman, Ashleigh Cummings, Joe Hill,
Laysla De Oliveira, Nate Corddry, Connor Jessup, Stephen Lang, and George
Guidall, published by HarperAudio
The Instituteby Stephen King, narrated by Santino
Fontana, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
other winners are —
AUDIOBOOK OF THE YEAR
The Only Plane in the Sky: An
Oral History of 9/11 by
Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a full cast with Holter Graham, published by
Simon & Schuster Audio
Angels in America: A Gay
Fantasia on National Themesby
Tony Kushner, performed by Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, Susan Brown, Denise
Gough, Beth Malone, James McArdle, Lee Pace, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Bobby
Cannavale, and Edie Falco, published by Penguin Random House Audio
Becoming,written and narrated by Michelle
Obama, published by Penguin Random House Audio
BEST FEMALE NARRATOR
Nothing to See Hereby Kevin Wilson, narrated by
Marin Ireland, published by HarperAudio
BEST MALE NARRATOR
Kingdom of the Blindby Louise Penny, narrated by
Robert Bathurst, published by Macmillan Audio
So You Want to Start a Podcast?, written and narrated by Kristen
Meinzer, published by HarperAudio
FAITH-BASED FICTION & NON-FICTION
How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim, narrated
by Tavia Gilbert, published by Oasis Audio
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated
by Blair Brown, published by Penguin Random House Audio
American Moonshotby Douglas Brinkley, narrated by
Stephen Graybill, published by HarperAudio
More Bedtime Stories for Cynicsby Kirsten Kearse, Gretchen
Enders, Aparna Nancherla, Cirocco Dunlap, and Dave Hill, narrated by Nick
Offerman, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Ellen Page, Jane Lynch, John Waters,
Anjelica Huston, Wendell Pierce, Mike Birbiglia, Rachel Dratch, Matt Walsh,
Nicole Byer, Harry Goaz, Aisling Bea, and Gary Anthony Williams, published by
LITERARY FICTION & CLASSICS
The Water Dancerby Ta-Nehisi Coates, narrated by
Joe Morton, published by Penguin Random House Audio
Charlotte’s Webby E.B. White, narrated by Meryl
Streep and a full cast, published by Penguin Random House Audio
The Only Plane in the Sky: An
Oral History of 9/11 by
Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a full cast with Holter Graham, published by
Simon & Schuster Audio
The Chestnut Manby Søren Sveistrup, narrated by
Peter Noble, published by HarperAudio
NARRATION BY THE AUTHOR or AUTHORS
With the Fire on High, written and narrated by
Elizabeth Acevedo, published by HarperAudio
Grace Will Lead Us Homeby Jennifer Berry Hawes,
narrated by Karen Chilton and Jennifer Berry Hawes, published by Macmillan
Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar, narrated by
Nick Choksi, Harsh Nayaar, Annapurna Sriram, Bernard White, and Rita Wolf,
published by Audible Originals
Devil’s Daughterby Lisa Kleypas, narrated by
Mary Jane Wells, published by HarperAudio
Hey, Kiddoby Jarrett J. Krosoczka,
narrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Jeanne Birdsall, Richard Ferrone, Jenna
Lamia, and a full cast, published by Scholastic Audio
YOUNG LISTENERS (up to age 8)
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!, written and narrated by Mo
Willems, published by Weston Woods
(1) FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND. Vaught Contemporary Ballet once again will perform Dune, The Ballet on November 2 at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, which is outside Baltimore.
Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune, is widely recognized as the best selling science fiction novel of all time. It’s exploration of politics, religion, sexism, and ecology against an interstellar backdrop, allows the reader a reflection on the human condition in the modern era. Herbert’s Fremen of Arrakis provide a counterpoint to a culture consumed by avarice – the desire for melange.
Join us as we interpret this classic science fiction story through the art of ballet. Movement will be on full display in its varied definitions as we follow Paul Atreides in his rise to power as both royalty and the prophet of the Fremen.
The Baltimore Sun previewed another performance this summer:
…Katie Vaught of Vaught Contemporary Ballet has choreographed a piece that follows Paul through his many tribulations. It will feature parts of the soundtrack from David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation scored by Toto, as well as tracks from 2013 documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune.” Though it is meant to stand alone as a ballet and to be accessible to anyone, those who have read the novel will understand the plotline clearly and pick up on references to the book.
(2) NEOLOGOS. Slate’s Laura Spinney, in “Tongue
Twisters”, shows why “Invented
languages—or conlangs—have a scientific and cultural impact far beyond Klingon.”
The recent proliferation of conlangs has been driven by the internet, as resources became more accessible and people who were initially ashamed of a nerdy pastime discovered like-minded others and came together in online communities. That in turn meant that producers of sci-fi movies and TV series knew where to turn when they wanted a now obligatory alien-sounding conlang built, and some conlangers—like David Peterson, the inventor of Game of Thrones’ Dothraki—have turned professional. There is another category of conlangers, however, who couple their love of linguistic creativity with serious scientific investigation.
The highly anticipated movie “The Rise of Skywalker” (in theaters Dec. 20) promises major battles between good guys and bad, but before that the new novel “Resistance Reborn” (Del Rey Books, out Nov. 5) acts as an important bridge between films. It picks up immediately after “Last Jedi.” Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac in the movies) has been tasked to reunite with his Black Squadron, while Leia is aboard the Millennium Falcon trying desperately to reach their allies.
Writing Leia “was an honor and a gift,” says author Rebecca Roanhorse, adding that the late Carrie Fisher‘s heroine “was really my way into the ‘Star Wars’ universe. Her continued leadership and strength in the face of loss and grief was a great inspiration for understanding not only her character but Poe, Finn and Rey, as well.
“I remember the first time I wrote, ‘Leia said’ or ‘Leia laughed.’ I definitely got a bit choked up. That’s when this fantastic journey all became real.”…
While many Expanded Universe novels exist at the edges of the Star Wars galaxy, Resistance Reborn feels like a vital next step in the saga. While the Resistance’s dire position was made patently obvious at the end of The Last Jedi, Roanhorse hammers the point home: the movement is down to its last people, and if they’re found, they’ll be snuffed out completely by the First Order’s stormtroopers. While the odds are certainly against them, the narrative feels like an inherently optimistic one, despite it all. (You know how these rebels react to being told the odds.) It feels particularly pressingly relevant in our world of 2019, a time when mass protests against oppressive governments are raging in the streets of Chile and Hong Kong.
Dear Auntie Deborah: Help! My characters have gone amok and won’t follow the plot of my book! What can I do to whip them into shape?
— A Frustrated Author
Dear Frustrated: The short (but brutal) answer is that your characters behave the way you created them. Their histories, personalities, goals, and motivations are all part of that creation. So if you — like so many of us! — find your characters resisting the demands of the plot or going off on their own adventures, it’s time to take a step back and delve deeper into what’s on the page and what’s in your creative imagination that isn’t explicit but nonetheless exerts a powerful influence over the character’s behavior….
If you binge read or watch something, it will seep into the writing you are producing at the moment, which may or may not be a good thing.
Carpe Glitter by Cat
Rambo was released by Meerkat Press on
What do you do when someone else’s past forces itself on your own life? Sorting through the piles left behind by a grandmother who was both a stage magician and a hoarder, Persephone Aim finds a magical artifact from World War II that has shaped her family history. Faced with her mother’s desperate attempt to take the artifact for herself, Persephone must decide whether to hold onto the past—or use it to reshape her future.
[JH]: “Late Returns” is sort of a soft, sentimental fantasy, and I think that’s probably my favorite in the collection too, that and “You Are Released.”
I do think I think you’re right that there’s a wider, wider range of genres. I was actually surprised at how much Bradbury is in the book. I didn’t realize it until I was writing the introduction and going through the stories. But “By the Silver Waters of Lake Champlain” feels a little bit like a rip on Bradbury’s classic tale “The Fog Horn,” about a prehistoric monster falling in love with a lighthouse. “Faun” is about men who go to a farmhouse in Maine who slip through a tiny door and enter a Narnia-like world called Palomino, full of orcs and trolls and fauns. They’ve gone their ton to shoot Fauns and to shoot orcs, and bring home ahead, you know, a trophy head for the wall. That story has a little bit of C.S. Lewis and a little bit of Hemingway in it. But a lot of Bradbury, a lot of “Sound of Thunder.”
(7) RIVERS OF LONDON GRAPHIC NOVEL. Titan Comics will
release Rivers of London: Action at a Distance, a 112-page graphic
novel, on November 13. Authors: Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch; Artists: Brian
Williamson, Stefani Renne; Cover artist: Anna Dittmann.
A new story in the bestselling cops-and-wizards series Rivers Of London, from chart-topping author Ben Aaronovitch! Uncover the secret World War II history of Peter Grant’s fan-favorite mentor, the mysterious Nightingale. When a serial killer with strange powers arrives on the streets of London, an old soldier remembers the man who mastered the occult at the height of World War II!
October 30, 1938 — The broadcast of Orson Welles’ radio drama, War of the Worlds, caused a national panic.
October 30, 1974 — Invasion From Inner Earth premiered. The film, also known as Hell Fire and They, starred Paul Bentzen and Debbi Pick. It has an audience rating of 0% at Rotten Tomatoes.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 30, 1896 — Ruth Gordon. You’ll likely best remember her as Minnie Castevet in Rosemary’s Baby. (Trust me, you don’t need to see Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby.) she’s quite excellent as Cecilia Weiss in The Great Houdini, and that pretty much sums up her genre work save Voyage of the Rock Aliens which keeps giving the giggles. Serious giggles. (Died 1985.)
Born October 30, 1923 — William Campbell. In “The Squire of Gothos” on Trek, he was Trelane and in “The Trouble With Tribbles”, he played the Klingon Koloth, a role revisited on Deep Space Nine in “Blood Oath”. He had one-offs in the Six-Million Dollar Man, Wild Wild West and The Next Step Beyond. (Died 2011.)
Born October 30, 1951 — Harry Hamlin. His first role of genre interest was Perseus on Clash of The Titans. He plays himself in Maxie, and briefly shows up in Harper’s Island.
Born October 30, 1972 — Jessica Hynes, 47. Playing Joan Redfern, she shows up on two of the Tenth Doctor stories, “Human Nature” and “ The Family of Blood”. She’d play another character, Verity Newman in a meeting of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, “The End of Time, Part Two”. Her other genre role was as Felia Siderova on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in the “Mental Apparition Disorder” and “Drop Dead” episodes.
Born October 30, 1980 — Sarah Carter, 39. She’s known for her recurring role as Alicia Baker in Smallville, and Maggie in Falling Skies. She was on The Flash in a recurring role as Grace Gibbons who was The Cicada.
Born October 30, 1981 — Fiona Dourif, 37. Her longest running SFF role is as Bart Curlish in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. She’s played Nica Pierce in two of the Chucky horror films, and she’s Good Leader Tavis on The Purge, an ongoing horror series.
In his debut feature (made for Roger Corman’s American International Pictures), Peter Bogdanovich brilliantly cast Boris Karloff (who owed Corman two days of shooting from a previous project) as a worn-out horror film icon only a few steps removed from his real life persona. He then split the narrative with a seemingly unrelated story about a clean-cut young man (inspired by real life mass murderer Charles Whitman) who randomly embarks upon a mass shooting spree. Eventually, the dual narratives do intersect, resulting in a profoundly disturbing statement about the nature of idealized horror versus the banality of the real thing. In the decades since, Targets has grown even more prescient and unnerving.
Halloween is just days away — and with “Joker” smashing box-office records, it seems inevitable that throngs of film fans will dress as killer clowns for the festivities that await.
But in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy, anti-government protests have stretched on for four months, the mask of the Joker holds greater weight — and reveals a divide between some protesters who see themselves reflected in him, and others who are horrified at the comparison.
[…] Viewers on social media point out that both Gotham and Hong Kong are home to groups of discontented people who feel abandoned by their government and a rich elite. In the movie, Gotham citizens and police officers fight in a subway station, an eerie echo of such scuffles in Hong Kong’s own stations. At the end of the film, rioters vandalize parts of the city, with what appears to be smoke or gas drifting through the air — similar to the tear gas, graffiti and smashed glass that have become routine in Hong Kong.
[…] Despite their best efforts, however, these Joker fans are not making headway within the protest movement — rather, many more are trying to distance themselves from the film. Posts that draw these comparisons are often heavily downvoted, with comments urging the community not to aspire towards the Joker.
[…] “Please don’t make the Joker into a leader of the resistance,” the post read. “(The movie) is really good. But at this moment, it is dangerous, and the danger lies in the fact that people may interpret it intentionally or unintentionally into the current situation in Hong Kong.”
…Unless you’re specifically looking to write an allegory, you have to actively avoid making your species and characters allegorical or symbols or stand-ins for something. It’s rather patronizing at best and can get offensive at worst. (FYI, we’re not dealing with allegory in this post.)
(14) MILESTONE. Right on schedule…
(15) GETTING READY FOR THE HOLIDAY. Jeff VanderMeer is
crowdsourcing costume ideas.
Now, you’ve probably already dressed as Harry, Ron, and/or Hermione for at least one Halloween celebration, so it’s time to really up your fandom game. As a lifelong Potterhead and Seventeen‘s official HP expert, I am uniquely qualified to help you on this magical Halloween-related journey.
Scientists have pinpointed the homeland of all humans alive today to a region south of the Zambezi River.
The area is now dominated by salt pans, but was once home to an enormous lake, which may have been our ancestral heartland 200,000 years ago.
Our ancestors settled for 70,000 years, until the local climate changed, researchers have proposed.
They began to move on as fertile green corridors opened up, paving the way for future migrations out of Africa.
“It has been clear for some time that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago,” said Prof Vanessa Hayes, a geneticist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia.
“What has been long debated is the exact location of this emergence and subsequent dispersal of our earliest ancestors.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John A Arkansawyer, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Rich Horton.]
(1) NYRSF READINGS. The New York Review of Science Fiction
Readings presents “An Evening of ‘Reckoning’” — creative writing on
environmental justice – on October 14 with guest curator Michael J. DeLuca, featuring
Emily Houk, Yukyan Lam, Krista Hoeppner Leahy, Marissa Lingen, Emery Robin, and
Brian Francis Slattery. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. at The Brooklyn Commons Café, 388
Atlantic Avenue (between Hoyt & Bond St.). Full info on Facebook.
Michael J. DeLuca‘s roots are mycorrhizal with sugar maple and Eastern white pine. He’s the publisher of Reckoning, an annual journal of creative writing on environmental justice. His fiction has appeared most recently in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Strangelet and Middle Planet.
Emily Houk’s short fiction has appeared previously in Conjunctions, and she has just finished her first novel. She is coeditor of Ninepin Press, and she thrives in the shade of the library stacks of Western Massachusetts.
Yukyan Lam is based in New York, NY, and works for a non-profit on environmental health and social justice. Her scientific writing has appeared in various academic journals. She loves reading and writing creative non-fiction and short stories, and currently serves as a prose editor for Typehouse Literary Magazine. Follow her @yukyan_etc
Krista Hoeppner Leahy is a poet, writer, and actor. Her work has appeared in Clarkesworld, Farrago’s Wainscot, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Raritan, Shimmer, Tin House, Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy and elsewhere. Born in Colorado, Krista currently resides in Brooklyn with her family.
Marissa Lingen is a freelance writer living in the suburbs of Minneapolis with two large men and one small dog. Mostly she writes speculative fiction. She has a large collection of foliage-themed jewelry.
Emery Robin is an Oakland-born and New York-based writer, previously published on Tor.com and in Spark: A Creative Anthology. When not busy reading, Emery is interested in propaganda, marginalia, and rock ‘n’ roll, and can be found on Twitter @ emwrobin .
Brian Francis Slattery is the arts editor and a reporter for the New Haven Independent. He has written four novels and is currently on the writing team of Bookburners, a serial fiction project. He’s also a musician and for a week out of every year, lives without electricity.
(2) JUNGLE CRUISE. Andrew Petersen, a student I met at Azusa Pacific University’s Yosemite
Semester in 2001, achieved his goal of becoming a driver on the Jungle
Cruise Ride. If only he hadn’t died
last year – he would have gotten a kick out of this movie.
Inspired by the famous Disneyland theme park ride, Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE is an adventure-filled, Amazon-jungle expedition starring Dwayne Johnson as the charismatic riverboat captain and Emily Blunt as a determined explorer on a research mission. Also starring in the film are Edgar Ramirez, Jack Whitehall, with Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti. Jaume Collet-Serra is the director and John Davis, John Fox, Dwayne Johnson, Hiram Garcia, Dany Garcia and Beau Flynn are the producers, with Doug Merrifield serving as executive producer. Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE opens in U.S. theaters on July 24, 2020.
Captain Roger’s performance at the Battle of Wakanda has been widely and rightly panned. But nothing has been said about the profound failures of his enemy, the Thanosians. Despite every possible advantage in manpower, materiel, and circumstance, they still failed. All students of the military art should examine how they so masterfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Thanosians had complete freedom in the approach to battle. Nevertheless, they committed two grievous and unforced errors. First, they failed to identify the large energy shield protecting Benin Zana and its immediate environs. This information would have been known with even the most cursory reconnaissance. The mistake cost them at least a battalion worth of troops, when their dropship smashed into it. It is generally agreed that losing a sixth of your force before battle commences is a bad thing. ..
Each of the defendants — including sitting Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader and DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer — were present for a brief arraignment hearing, scattered across the courtroom gallery as attorneys spoke on their behalf. Their not guilty pleas mean the case against them will move forward. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 7….
Billions of people around the globe are well-acquainted with SpongeBob Squarepants and the antics of the title character and his friends on Bikini Bottom. By the same token, there is an absence of public discourse about the whitewashing of violent American military activities through SpongeBob’s occupation and reclaiming of the bottom of Bikini Atoll’s lagoon. SpongeBob Squarepants and his friends play a role in normalizing the settler colonial takings of Indigenous lands while erasing the ancestral Bikinian people from their nonfictional homeland. This article exposes the complicity of popular culture in maintaining American military hegemonies in Oceania while amplifying the enduring indigeneity (Kauanui 2016) of the Marshallese people, who maintain deeply spiritual and historical connections to land—even land they cannot occupy due to residual radiation contamination from US nuclear weapons testing—through a range of cultural practices, including language, song, and weaving. This article also considers the gendered violence of nuclear colonialism and the resilience of Marshallese women.
… While Barker admits that the show’s creators likely did not have “U.S. colonialism” in mind while developing the cartoon, she calls it “disturbing” that they did not realize that “Bikini Bottom and Bikini Atoll were not theirs for the taking.” Consequently, Barker suggests that “millions of children” have “become acculturated to an ideology that includes the US character SpongeBob residing on another people’s homeland.”
In this way, colonialism is supposedly “produced, reproduced, and normalized” through the cartoon
As if fictionally “occupying” nonfictional land was not enough, Barker also accuses the cartoon of being biased against women.
The professor complains that “all of the main characters on the show are male,” except for Sandy Cheeks the squirrel, whom she suggests was only created in order to boost the gender diversity of the show.
“The name ‘Bob’ represents the everyday man, a common American male, much like a ‘Joe,'” Barker observes, concluding that “our gaze into the world of Bikini Bottom, as well as the surface of Bikini, is thus filtered through the activities of men.”
Barker concludes her article by insisting that even though SpongeBob’s writers likely did not mean “to infuse a children’s show with racist, violent colonial practices,” the show is part of a larger issue, an “insidious practice of disappearing Indigenous communities.”
(6) DANIUS OBIT. Sara Danius has
died due to breast cancer. She was the permanent secretary for the Swedish
Academy during the MeToo era and who was forced out from it due to her
determination to get rid of its toxic patriarchal working culture. She was 57
years old. (Swedish language news article here.)
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.
October 12, 1987 — Ultraman: The Adventure Begins. This Japanese animated film stars the English voice lead talents of Adrienne Barbeau and Stacy Keach. Jr.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 12, 1875 — Aleister Crowley. Genre writer? You decide. But I’ve no doubt that he had a great influence upon the genre as I’m betting many of you can note works in which he figures. One of the earliest such cases is Land of Mist, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which was published in 1926. (Died 1947.)
Born October 12, 1903 — Josephine Hutchinson. She was Elsa von Frankenstein with Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff in Son of Frankenstein. She was in “I Sing the Body Electric”, The Twilight Zone episode written by Bradbury that he turned into a short story. (Died 1998.)
Born October 12, 1904 — Lester Dent. Pulp-fiction author who was best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels chronicling Doc Savage. Of the one hundred and eighty-one Doc Savage novels published by Street and Smith, one hundred and seventy-nine were credited to Kenneth Robeson; and all but twenty were written by Dent. (Died 1959.)
Born October 12, 1916 — Lock Martin. His claim to fame was that he was one of the tallest humans that ever lived. At seven feet and seven inches (though this was dispute by some), he was also quite stocky. He had the distinction of playing Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still. He was also in The Incredible Shrinking Man as a giant, but his scenes were deleted. And he shows up in Invaders from Mars as the Mutant carrying David to the Intelligence though he goes uncredited in the film. (Died 1959.)
Born October 12, 1924 — Randy Stuart. She’s best remembered as Louise Carey, the wife of Scott Carey, in The Incredible Shrinking Man. She was also Frances Hiller in “Anniversary of a Murder“ on One Step Beyond which conceived as a companion series to the Twilight Zone. (Died 1996.)
Born October 12, 1942 — Daliah Lavi. She’s in Casino Royale as The Detainer, a secret agent. In the same year, she was in Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon as Madelaine. She was Purificata in The Demon, an Italian horror film. If you’re into German popular music, you might recognize her as she was successful there in Seventies and Eighties. (Died 2017.)
Born October 12, 1943 — Linda Shaye, 76. She’s been an actress for over forty years and has appeared in over ninety films, mostly horror. Among them is A Nightmare on Elm Street, Critters, Insidious, Dead End, 2001 Maniacs and its sequel 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams, Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again, Amityville: A New Generation, Ouija, and its prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil. She even appeared in The Running Man as a Propaganda Officer
Born October 12, 1965 — Dan Abnett, 54. His earlier work was actually on Doctor Who Magazine, but I’ll single out his co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy #1–6 with Andy Lanning, The Authority: Rule Britannia and his Border Princes novel he did in the Torchwood universe as great looks at him as a writer.
Born October 12, 1968 — Hugh Jackman, 51. Obviously Wolverine in the Marvel film franchise. He’s also been the lead character in Van Helsing as well as voicing him in the animated prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment. One of his most charming roles was voicing The Easter Bunny in The Rise of The Guardians. And he played Robert Angier in The Prestige based off the novel written by the real Christopher Priest.
(9) COMICS SECTION.
Rich Horton says about today’s Dilbert: “I don’t know if Scott Adams nicked this idea from Fred Pohl or Greg Egan or someone else, but I think of Daniel Galouye’s Simulacron-3 (filmed as The Thirteenth Floor).”
…The exterior of Booking.com‘s Addams Family mansion doesn’t look spooky, but the inside makes up for it.
The [3700 square foot] mansion rents for just $101.10 per night, but not everyone interested will get in. [It will be available for only four one-night bookings starting the 29th of this month.] Mark your calendars now if you want to try to be one of the lucky ones. Bookings open on Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. PT, and they’ll probably disappear as fast as you can snap your fingers.
I had this book I loved, Bring on the Bad Guys. It was a big, chunky paperback collection of comic-book stories, and as you might guess from the title, it wasn’t much concerned with heroes. It was instead an anthology of tales about the worst of the worst, vile psychopaths with names like The Abomination and faces to match.
My dad had to read that book to me every night. He didn’t have a choice. It was one of these Scheherazade-type deals. If he didn’t read to me, I wouldn’t stay in bed. I’d slip out from under my Empire Strikes Back quilt and roam the house in my Spider-Man Underoos, soggy thumb in my mouth and my filthy comfort blanket tossed over one shoulder. I could roam all night if the mood took me. My father had to keep reading until my eyes were barely open, and even then, he could only escape by saying he was going to step out for a smoke and he’d be right back.
(14) FUTURIUM. Aa “house of futures” museum
opened in Berlin last month called the Futurium, and their website is futurium.de. The home site is in German, however, they
also offer an English language version.
Futurium celebrated its opening on 05 September 2019. Since then, the interest in the house of futures has exceeded all expectations. In the first month, 100,000 visitors already came to Futurium and devoted themselves to the question: How do we want to live?
(15) NOSFERATU. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Every
generation has its incarnation of the vampire mythos – Dark Shadows,
Twilight, True Blood, and more. But it all cinematically began with F.W.
Murnau’s 1922 silent movie masterpiece Nosferatu. Ninety-four years
after its inception, North Hollywood’s Crown City Theater Company unleashed an
astonishing live stage presentation entitled Nosferatu: A Symphony in Terror.
In “Nosferatu”, film historian Steve Vertlieb takes us aboard a dark yet
wonderful cinematic time machine, delving into the creation of Murnau’s seminal
horror film, examining it’s influence on generations (from Lugosi and Lee, to Salem’s
Lot, Harry Potter and more), then reviews the startling stage presentation
from a few years ago.
…Gather the LEGO bricks, sets or elements that you want to part with; put them in a cardboard box; and print out a free shipping label from the LEGO Replay website. At the Give Back Box facility, they’ll be sorted, inspected and cleaned.
“We know people don’t throw away their LEGO bricks,” Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at the LEGO Group, said in a Tuesday news release. “The vast majority hand them down to their children or grandchildren. But others have asked us for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks. With Replay, they have an easy option that’s both sustainable and socially impactful.”
What do you do with an old car park that no-one wants to park in? Why not use them to grow mushrooms – or even salad?
Paris built too many underground car parks in the 1960s and 70s. Falling car ownership means many are standing empty, or finding new and surprising uses.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Lauren Gunderson Is Taking On J.M. Barrie” on YouTube,
Lauren Gunderson discusses her adaptation of Peter Pan, which will be
produced by the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington in December.
[Thanks to Nancy Collins, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Mike
Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén, Steve
Vertlieb, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Anne Sheller.]
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… a stormtrooper smashed their head on a door in the Death Star – and people have been wanting to know who it was ever since.
The scene occurs in Star Wars: A New Hope and has become a cult moment for Warsies (that’s what Star Warsfans call themselves apparently). Now, a filmmaker has taken it upon himself to make a mockumentary about the blunder, entitled The Empire Strikes Door.
Good news to all the insomniacs out there. Disney’s Bedtime Hotline returns from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30. The hotline which debuted last August, gave fans a chance to hear bedtime messages from the core Disney cast of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, or Goofy.
The hotline returns for the next two weeks, this time with a lineup taking advantage of Disney’s full trove of IP. In addition to Mickey, callers can also get messages from Woody, Jasmine, and Elsa and Anna, as well as as some unexpected choices from Disney properties. Specifically Yoda and Spider-Man.
That’s right, Yoda is a Disney character and now he tells you about the importance of sleep as you curl up for the night.
Babylon 5 was a show that should never have been commissioned. Five seasons of the United Nations set in space, anyone? Well, set your phasers to stunned because while Star Trek gets all the glory – what with its big-name actors, great special effects and lasting cultural cachet – it was Babylon 5 that became every true sci-fi fan’s secret favourite.
In Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet, angels have rid the city of Lucille of all its monsters. That’s what Jam has been taught, and she has no reason to doubt it, as she lives a happy life surrounded by her loving parents and her best friend, Redemption. No reason, until a strange and frightening creature crawls out of one of her mother’s paintings, intent on hunt down a monster hiding in their midst. The creature is called Pet, and it tells Jam that her duty is to help search out the evil that has taken root in Redemption’s house. Jam isn’t sure she’s the right person for the task — but what choice does she have, when no one else will even admit that there may still be monsters lurking in the shadows?
…After making her entrance last year with The Light Between Worlds, which asked what happens to the children cast out of portal fantasies once the adventure is over, Laura Weymouth returns with A Treason of Thorns, a full-on alternate history fantasy that imagines an England that is home to Great Houses — sentient buildings that enrich or destroy their regions depending on how well they are managed by their human Caretaker.
The John Hay Library is now home to renowned recording artist, writer, and activist Janis Ian’s collection of personally inscribed works of science fiction and fantasy, many by women and LGBTQ authors.
The John Hay Library at Brown University is delighted to announce the acquisition of Janis Ian’s personal library, including collections of books of contemporary science fiction and fantasy authors inscribed to her. Among these authors are Anne McCaffrey, George R. R. Martin, Mercedes Lackey, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Harlan Ellison, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, Diane Duane, and many others. In all, the Library received approximately 200 volumes from Ms. Ian’s collection.
The Russian city of Arkhangelsk caused a stir by putting up a statue of the Grim Reaper on a roadside to put motorists off speeding, only for thieves to steal it later in the day….
The black-shrouded figure, made to order by a craftsman from local pine, was meant to “discourage drivers from speeding up on that stretch of road since it’s been repaired”, spokeswoman Tatyana Simindei told the site.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 17, 1964 — Mothra Vs. Godzilla premiered in the U.S.
September 17, 1976 — NASA named its first Space Shuttle after a starship from some sci-fi TV show – Enterprise.
September 17, 1978 — The original Battlestar Galactica premiered on television. It would last but a single season.
September 17, 1982 — The Powers of Matthew Star first aired. It ran one season. Harve Bennett (Trek films II–V) was one of its creators and Leonard Nimoy directed the “Triangle” episode while Walter Koenig wrote the “Mother” episode. The original pilot, “ Starr Knight” as written by Steven E. de Souza, writer of The Running Man aired as the final episode.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 17, 1908 — John Creasey. English crime and SF writer who wrote well over than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different names. His SF writings were mostly in the Dr. Palfrey series, a British secret service agent named Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, who forms Z5. I’ve not read them, so how are they as SF? None of these appear to be available from iBooks but they’re available from Kindle.
Born September 17, 1917 — Art Widner. He was a founding member of The Stranger Club which created Boston fandom. He chaired Boskone I and Boskone II which were held in 1941 and 1942, they being the very first two Boston cons. Fancyclopedia 3 has a very detailed look at him here. (Died 2015.)
Born September 17, 1920 — Dinah Sheridan. She was Chancellor Flavia in “The Five Doctors”, a Doctor Who story that brought together the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctors. Richard Hurndall portrayed the First Doctor, as the character’s original actor, William Hartnell, had died. (Died 2012.)
Born September 17, 1920 — Roddy McDowall. He is best known for portraying Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise, as well as Galen in the television series. He’s Sam Conrad in The Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” and he voices Jervis Tetch / The Mad Hatter in Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1998.)
Born September 17, 1939 — Sandra Gimpel, 80. Performer and stunt woman. Though you’ll literally not recognize her, she was the salt monster aka the M-113 creature (as it was called in the credits) in “The Man Trap” episode of the original Trek. In “The Cage” episode, she played a Talosian. As a stunt woman, she’s been on genre shows ranging from Lost in Space to Lucifer and even appeared on films like Escape from New York.
Born September 17, 1951 — Cassandra Peterson,68. Definitely better known as Elvira, Mistress of The Darkness, a character she’s played on TV and in movies, becoming the host of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, a weekly horror movie presentation in LA in 1981. She’s a showgirl in Diamonds Are Forever which was her debut film, and is Sorais in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold.
Born September 17, 1962 — Paul Feig, 56. I see that he and Katie Dippold were nominated but didn’t win a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation for their Ghostbusters film. How did it do in the actual voting?
Born September 17, 1965 — Bryan Singer, 54. Director of such genre film as including X-Men, Superman Returns, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Men: Apocalypse.
Born September 17, 1973 — Jonathan Morris, 46. SFF television series are fertile grounds for creating spinoff book series and Doctor Who is no exception. This writer has only written four such novels to date but oh, the number of Big Finish audiobooks that he’s written scripts for now numbers in the high forties if I include the Companions and the Jago & Lightfoot series as well.
(10) LEGO’S NEW GLOBAL CAMPAIGN. From behind a paywall at The
…The result is ‘Rebuild the World’, Lego’s most significant global brand campaign since the 90s, which was created by BETC in collaboration with The Lego Agency.
Ultimately, the push seeks to position the toy as something that can strengthen creative resilience and problem-solving capabilities in kids – an idea originally floated by BETC in a world where children are more likely to pick up an iPad than open a toybox.
Underpinned by bold, playful creative that will run across TV, online, OOH and cinema, Marcelli describes the campaign as “a new, modern expression of the true, deep foundations” of the brand, and the “perfect interpretation” of its mission to inspire future generations.
At the heart of the drive is a film directed by Traktor Creative, a duo who have previously worked with The Prodigy and Madonna, which shows what the world would look like if it obeyed the rules of Lego play.
On the face of it, NASA’s newest probe sounds incredible. Known as Dragonfly, it is a dual-rotor quadcopter (technically an octocopter, even more technically an X8 octocopter); it’s roughly the size of a compact car; it’s completely autonomous; it’s nuclear powered; and it will hover above the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.
…”Almost everyone who gets exposed to Dragonfly has a similar thought process. The first time you see it, you think: ‘You gotta be kidding, that’s crazy,’ ” says Doug Adams, the mission’s spacecraft systems engineer. But, he says, “eventually, you come to realize that this is a highly executable mission.”
NASA reached that conclusion when, after a lot of careful study, it gave Dragonfly the green light earlier this summer. “This revolutionary mission would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said when the roughly $1 billion project was selected in June. “A great nation does great things.”
For Shannon MacKenzie, a postdoc on the mission, there’s no destination that could be greater than Titan. The largest moon of Saturn, it has dunes, mountains, gullies and even rivers and lakes — though on Titan, it’s so cold the lakes are filled with liquid methane, not water.
“It is this complete package,” she says. “It’s this really unique place in the solar system where all of these different processes are coming together in a very Earthlike way.”
Russia likes to boast of its robots – but at the same time it seems to have a somewhat troubled relationship with them.
It has endured a series of very public robotic mishaps, but all is not lost.
Amid much fanfare and praise for the Roscosmos space agency, Russian robot Fedor was launched into space on board a Soyuz 14 spacecraft in August.
Fedor made history as the first such robot ever to be sent into space by Russia, and within moments he was reporting on his progress and all was apparently going to plan.But then, mission control in Houston broke the news that Fedor’s attempt to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) had to be aborted because of a technical problem.
Before his spaceflight, Fedor had been busy impressing observers with his activities. State TV showed him driving a car, firing guns and doing push-ups – but sceptics were critical. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was scathing in a post on Twitter.
“This Fedor the robot is what the Putin regime is all about. The PR idiots at Roscosmos came up with the idea, and engineers had to send a hundred kilos of useless steel junk into orbit,” Navalny wrote…
Alyosha, Boris and Igoryok
Last year, a robot called Boris made an appearance on national television. He announced that he was good at mathematics, but added that he would like to learn how to compose music. He also danced.
Before Boris, Russian TV also reported excitedly about another robot, a huge steel thing called Igoryok, but nobody’s seen it move – or even do anything….
(14) FATHER AND SON
HORROR. Netflix has released
a trailer for In the Tall Grass, a film based on a novella by Stephen King and his son Joe
Hill. It becomes available October 4.
Some places have a mind of their own. Based on the novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill, when siblings Becky and Cal hear the cries of a young boy lost within a field of tall grass, they venture in to rescue him, only to become ensnared themselves by a sinister force that quickly disorients and separates them. Cut off from the world and unable to escape the field’s tightening grip, they soon discover that the only thing worse than getting lost is being found.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, John A Arkansawyer, Andrew
Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver,
and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770
contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
Audible, Amazon’s audiobook publishing arm, announced plans for “Audible Captions,” a feature that displays the text of a book along with the narration on listener devices. Audible said the feature would be “available on hundreds of thousands of audiobooks at launch” – a declaration that was met with surprise and alarm by publishers who haven’t licensed the rights to publish such text to Audible. Publishing the text without permission would likely be a violation of copyright.
The Association of American Publishers filed a lawsuit on August 23, 2019 in the southern district court of New York to block the program….
Joe Hill is currently one of the hottest scribes around. His popular book, NOS4A2 has been adapted for an AMC series. Netflix will be partnering with producer Carlton Cuse on a 10 episode version of Hill’s comic book series, Locke and Key.
Recently, the busy writer sat down with Hansi Oppenheimer, the director of the upcoming documentary on Joe Lansdale, All Hail the Popcorn King. He discussed his deep admiration and fondness for his fellow author.
As an impressionable 13-year-old, Hill read Lansdale’s The Drive In and was transformed. He made such a deep connection with the novel that he felt that it was written especially for him. Which is one of the best compliments to receive when you are a wordsmith. It is what you strive for, to make an impact on your readers.
First, a disclaimer: With approximately 183 TV series premiering every hour in America, it would be all but impossible for any one critic to view all the new fall shows. That said, I was able to screen 31 of the programs making their debut in the coming months — and now that my eyes have readjusted to sunlight, I humbly submit this report.
One of them is Evil. The other
Oct. 20, 9 p.m., HBO Confession: I know nothing about Watchmen. Never read the comic or saw the (polarizing) 2009 film. I had to pause many times while watching the pilot so I could look up characters and backstories on Wikipedia. With that said, I can’t wait to see more. Set 30 years after the comics, Watchmen takes place in a world where police hide their identities due to terrorist attacks and a long-dormant white supremacist group wants to start a race war. The show is expensive-looking but not hollow. There’s a humanity to the characters that is often lacking in comic book adaptations, due in large part to the exceptional cast, including Regina King, Jeremy Irons, and Don Johnson. Hardcore fans will have to make up their own minds, but this novice is intrigued.
Fay Wray is remembered best for her role in the original King Kong as Ann Darrow, the woman who is kidnapped and carried about like a rag doll while Kong goes on his city-wide rampage. Yet she had a much longer career than just that one film, spanning several different genres and working for more than half a century. In her early years in Hollywood, she would have been better known for a series of westerns she had done in the silent era than anything else, but even at that, she’d also been in several comedies and romances. Wray was a working actor for most of her life, so her filmography is mostly all over the place.
Of course, we’re mostly here for Wray’s career as a Scream Queen. In the time leading up to what would become her definitive role, she starred in a series of low-budget horror movies that are now considered as much a part of classic horror canon as Frankenstein or The Mummy….
(6) GROWING UP GRYFFINDOR. [Item by Martin
Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall at Financial Times, Alice Ross
discusses how YA authors in Britain are increasingly interested in politics.
The second legacy often credited to Harry Potter is that the series helped to form a generation of liberal thinkers. In Harry Potter and the Millennials (2013), political scientist Anthony Gierzynski published th results of his survey of more than 1,000 college students. He concluded that readers of Harry Potter were more often to diversity and more politically tolerant than non-fans…
…Modern authors of children’s books both in the UK and the US–many of whom hail from the Harry Potter generation–tend to feel strongly about social or moral issues, and they bring this into their writing.
‘I really do believe that all writing is political and you have to try to do that; you are not just bringing yourself to your work,’ says Kiran Millwood Harris, whose debut novel The Girl of Ink and Stars won the 2017 Waterstone Children’s Book Prize. ‘I see some people saying, ‘I don’t want to be political’ but actually now it’s kind of immoral not to speak up or take a stand as some people don’t have that luxury. Her latest book The Way Past Winter deals with the environmental crisis, increasigly a topic coming up in children’s books.
(7) DYSTROPIA. Michelle Goldberg’s opinion piece “Margaret
Atwood’s Dystopia, and Ours” in the New York Times
coincidentally shows how hard it is for fictional commentary to keep pace with cultural
…And it’s not just in America that truth has lost its political salience. Naked censorship continues to exist, but it’s augmented by the manipulation of search algorithms, and by trolls and bots harassing dissidents and spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories. Truth is less suppressed than drowned out. Contemporary propaganda, write P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking in “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media,” “is colorful and exciting, reflecting the tastes of the digital age. It is a cocktail of moralizing, angry diatribes, and a celebration of traditional values, constantly mixed with images of scantily clad women.” There’s a solemn churchlike hush in Gilead. Modern authoritarianism is often as lurid and cacophonous as a casino.
Dystopian fictions that extrapolate from this shift are starting to appear. (Though young adult novels had a head start: “The Hunger Games” foresaw the nightmare of fascism run as a reality show.) There’s a scene in “Years and Years,” a recent series co-produced by HBO and the BBC, where Vivienne Rook, the sly British demagogue played by Emma Thompson, is asked about the spread of fraudulent, digitally created videos of her political rivals making inflammatory statements. “Oh, of course they’re fake videos. Everyone can see they’re not real,” she says to an interviewer. Then she adds, with faux concern, “All the same, they really did say those things, didn’t they?” Soon after, she is elected prime minister…
… “Writing dystopias and utopias is a way of asking the reader the question, ‘Where do you want to live?’” Atwood said when I talked to her last year….
Bill was quite good…just a lovely, talented man. I’m sure going to miss talking to him on the phone and at conventions, and I’m sorry we aren’t going to get all the other books that he would have written. Such a loss.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
September 15, 1965 — CBS debuted Irwin Allen’s Lost In Space as“The Reluctant Stowaway” episode seeing the Jupiter 2 being sabotaged by Dr. Smith who became part of the inhabitants. The theme music was composed by a little known composer then credited as, Johnny Williams.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 15, 1890 — Agatha Christie, or to giver her full name of Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller). ISDB lists her Harley Quin tales as being genre as they think the lead character is supernatural though no reviewers I can find think that he is. Anyone here who has read them? They also list one Hercule Poirot story, “The Big Four”, as genre – it apparently involved the use of atomic explosives in a 1927 story. Weirdly iBooks has almost nothing by her but Kindle has works beyond counting. (Died 1976.)
Born September 15, 1925 — Carlo Rambaldi. He won Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects in 1980 and 1983 for, respectively, Alien and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial which was for the mechanical head-effects for the Alien creature and the design of the E.T. himself. The 1976 version of King Kong earned him an Oscar for Best Visual Effects as well. He also worked on Dune, Conan the Destroyer, King Kong Livesand films you’ve likely never heard of such as Fire Monsters Against the Son of Hercules. (Died 2012.)
Born September 15, 1940 — Norman Spinrad, 79. I’ll admit that the only novel I’ve read by him is Bug Jack Barron. My bad. And I was fascinated to learn he wrote the script for Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” episode which is an amazing story. So how is that he’s never won a Hugo?
Born September 15, 1943 — John M. Faucette. He published five novels and one short story. He left seven unpublished novels in various states of completion at his death. Two of his novels; Crown of Infinity and Age of Ruin, were published in the Ace Doubles series. None of his works are in print in digital or paper format currently including his Black Science Fiction anthologywhich he as an African-American SF writer was very proud of. (Died 2003.)
Born September 15, 1946 — Howard Waldrop, 73. I think that the The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 which he wrote with Jake Saunders is my favorite work by him. His short fiction such as “The Ugly Chickens” which won The World Fantasy and Nebula Awards is most excellent. A generous selection of his short fiction and novellas are available at iBooks and Kindle.
Born September 15, 1956 — Tommy Lee Jones, 73. Best known as Agent K in the Men in Black franchise, he’s has done other genre with the first being in Batman Forever as Harvey Dent / Two-Face. He’s Colonel Chester Phillips in Captain America: The First Avenger as well.
Born September 15, 1962 — Jane Lindskold, 57. My first encounter with her was the Zelazny novel she finished, Donnerjack. It’s excellent though how much is Zelazny is open to vigorous debate. Of her own novels, I recommend The Buried Pyramid,Child of a Rainless Year and Asphodel as being very good.
Born September 15, 1987 — Christian Cooke, 31. He’s Ross Jenkins, a UNIT Private in two Tenth Doctor stories, “The Sontaran Stratagem” and “The Poison Sky”. Genre wise, He’s also been Luke Rutherford-Van Helsing in Demons, a six-part series from the Beeb, and he’s Frederick Beauchamp in the second season of The Witches of Eastwick.
Born September 15, 1960 — Kevin Roche, 59. Chaired Worldcon 76 in San Jose (2018). Prior to that he co-chaired Westercon 66 in Sacramento in 2013 and chaired Costume-Con 26 in San José in 2008. He’s a veteran costumer and masquerade emcee, who co-directed the 2011 Worldcon’s Masquerade as well as Masquerades at Anime Los Angeles, Westercon, and BayCon. Roche is a research scientist at IBM Research Almaden. He also is the editor of Yipe! The Costume Fanzine of Record.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro shows what happens when aliens reach the border.
(12) CLASSIC REVIVED? The
Far Side web page made this announcement:
.. From its first episode, “What a Night for a Knight,” Scooby Doo establishes the very atmosphere that is integral to the gothic genre. The episode opens onto an empty country road under a full moon when a pickup truck rolls into view. The crate in the back opens. An armored knight rears his head and fixes his glowing eyes on the driver. Danger is imminent. “What a nervous night to be walking home from the movies, Scooby Doo,” says Shaggy, echoing the viewer’s sentiment. Moments later they come across the abandoned pickup truck where the suit of armor sits behind the wheel. Pristine, it shines in the moonlight. Suddenly, the head of the armor rattles and tips over, landing at their feet. Boy and dog chuckle nervously before they run away in what will become their signature manner of dealing with problems. The next two seasons of Scooby Doo, Where Are You! follow in this same vein, resting on a balance between suspense and fear, mystery and horror.
Instrumental to evoking these feelings in the viewer was less the plot itself than the atmosphere framing it….
… Once a week, I’d enter that GameStop to ask whichever bored employee was manning the place when they’d get Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii,andwhether they’d give it to me early. I wanted to play a video game before anybody else, and I wanted it to be Super Smash Bros. Brawl so I could get really good and nobody would ever be able to catch up. Certainly, I felt, GameStop had that power and would be generous with it. Theo, who worked at that GameStop, told me many times: Cecilia, it comes out in December. Each time, I’d fuss, forget what he said, and distract myself with some other game they had pre-installed on the Wii kiosk in the store. Then I’d go in again the next week….
… Back then, I was usually grounded. Each sentence lasted for a week, two weeks, a month, and eventually, it all blurred into an endless, sprawling, dusty-grey dream. My mom theorizes that I’d purposefully do bad teen stuff so she’d ground me. That way I could avoid my increasingly complicated friendships at the strip. Time would spin on there without me: break-ups, fights, pranks, insults. In the world of Final Fantasy XI, I had comrades who needed me. As my dedication to leveling up heightened, so too did my in-game friends’ expectations of me as a community member. A couple times a week, one would reach out to me on a forum, or on Myspace, or eventually even through text message, asking me to log on and help them with some level grinding, some quest.
Then came the emotional labor. As a teenager, I did not have the tools to counsel the cat girl FlameKitty, the avatar of an older man, through his joblessness, his unpaid bills, his loneliness. I could not offer authoritative advice after a married mother of five fell in love with another Final Fantasy XI companion, whose shadowy forum profile picture featured a katana. …
(15) A FAMILIAR FACE. The Waterloo (ONT) Public Library is
doing a sff author panel October 5 – details on the programs calendar. You should
recognize at least one of the participants.
James Bow moderates a panel of five other authors talking about Canada as a setting for science fiction and fantasy novels. Why should New York, Los Angeles, or London have all the fun? Canada boasts some of the world’s best science fiction and fantasy writers, and some of the most innovative tech sectors. We have a part to play in the wider science fiction community, and we intend to represent.
Science Fiction and fantasy writers Erin Bow, James Nicoll, Leah Bobet, James Alan Gardner and (maybe – still to be confirmed ) Sarah Raughley join moderator James Bow in a free-flowing discussion of what Canada can contribute and has contributed to science fiction and fantasy. The event at the Main library will be followed by the launch of James Bow’s new urban fantasy novel, “The Night Girl”. Books will be sold and authors are available to sign copies. Everyone welcome
…However, last year, Hasbro shook the table with Monopoly for Millennials, which critics universally bemoaned as an “insulting experience.” The game’s tagline of “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway” seemed to signify that Hasbro was perhaps more interested in wooing back older players (who also like dunking on young adults) rather than genuinely appeal to a new generation discovering the joys of game night. (The reasons why millennials can’t afford homes are varied and complex and have nothing to do with pouring our income into artisanal coffee and avocado toast—xoxo, a millennial.)
Then just last month there was Monopoly for Socialists, another widely panned bit of pandering to older people who might still be afraid of the s-word that the game-centric site Polygon dubbed “horrible, even as a parody.” The release also led to the surely unintended wider dissemination of Monopoly’s roots as a game created by a woman named Elizabeth Magie to spread the message that landlords and real-estate hoarding are societal ills, yet it was appropriated by men and turned into a pro-capitalist pastime.
Now, there’s Hasbro’s latest addition to the Monopoly family: Ms. Monopoly. Its tagline is “The first game where women make more than men.”…
(17) TRACKING DOWN BARGAINS. Contact Mr. Muffin’s Trains for all your Hell-bound “O” Gauge
model train needs….
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Walk The Dog Before I Sleep on Vimeo is an animated music video by Drew
Christie of a song by Brian Cullman.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, James Davis
Nicoll, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Alan Baumler, Mike Kennedy, Steve
Johnson, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File
770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
Hill House Comics will consist of five miniseries and debut this October. Just days after announcing the closure of the DC Vertigo imprint, DC is signaling that it hasn’t moved away from creator-owned comic book material. The publisher has announced a new pop-up imprint, Hill House Comics, curated by horror writer Joe Hill.
The line of five original miniseries — each one targeted to readers 17 and older — will feature two titles written by the Fireman and Heart-Shaped Box author himself, with all five titles including a secondary strip, “Sea Dogs,” also written by Hill. Other titles will be written by The Girl With All The Gifts author Mike Carey, playwright and The Good Fight screenwriter Laura Marks, and critically acclaimed short story writer and essayist Carmen Maria Machado. Artists for the line include Sandman veteran Kelley Jones, as well as The Unwritten’s Peter Gross.
(2) CAFFEINE SEEKERS. Ursula Vernon has the most interesting conversations. Thread starts here.
I was 12 when Doctor Who was relaunched in 2005, and at school it was seen as nerdy. Because I had no one to talk to about it, I created a website to show my love. I wrote reviews of the episodes and used a website builder, then later I built a site from scratch.
What I loved about the show was the idea that you could be walking down the street and meet the Doctor, and your life could change forever. I liked the balance between domestic drama and science fiction – the first series was like watching a soap one scene, and Star Trek in the next. For me, Christopher Eccleston, who was my first Doctor, is the closest to how I think the part should be; if you walked past him, he wouldn’t stand out. Since then, the Doctors have been more flamboyant – more alien.
In 1928 the firm took made an innovative marketing move by hiring the Ruthrauff & Ryan Advertising Agency to produce a radio program to promote Detective Story Magazine. Called “The Detective Story Hour,” it was introduced and narrated by a sinister voice known as “The Shadow.” His tag line became familiar to radio listeners across the country: “The Shadow knows…and you too shall know if you listen as Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine relates for you the story of…” whatever story was featured that week.
As it turned out, The Shadow’s character was so successful that it detracted from the Detective Story sales. Street & Smith decided the best way to handle the problem was to introduce a new magazine featuring The Shadow.
(6) STAND ON ZANZIBAR. Extra Credit makes John
Brunner sound absolutely prescient.
How do we cope with a crowded world we as humans were never evolutionarily designed for? Stand on Zanzibar was written in 1968 but it uncannily, accurately predicts many of our present day’s social tensions and stressors. However, it also has a certain optimism that makes it stand out among other dystopic fiction we’ve discussed.
(7) ARISIA CORRECTS GOH LIST.
Saladin Ahmed proved to be unavailable after Arisia 2020 prematurely
announced him as a Guest of Honor. There was a tweet —
He had also been added to the Arisia 2020 website (still visible in the Google webcache at this time). When his name was taken down without an announcement, there was curiosity about the reason.
I asked Arisia President Nicholas “phi” Shectman, and he
Saladin was invited and let us know that he was interested but had to check availability. We misunderstood and made an announcement (and put his name on our web site) prematurely. It turns out he’s unable to make it this year. We’ve apologized to him privately and are preparing a public retraction.
(8) OTHER ARISIA NEWS. Arisia Inc.’s discussion of how to
improve its Incident Report process, and the determinations made about some of
the IR’s (with no names cited) are minuted in the May
issue and June
issue of Mentor.
The June issue also gave an update about the litigation over
Arisia’s cancellation of plans to use two strike-affected hotels (for the 2019
Hearings for the Westin and Aloft disputes are still scheduled for July 11 and June 25 respectively. We have hired Deb Geisler as an expert witness to testify about how hard it is to change hotels at the last minute, in support of our assertion that the deadline we gave the Westin for the strike to be resolved was the actual latest we could wait before canceling with them. I still think there is an 80% chance that we will prevail and if we do we will still be in the Westin. I also still expect to know the answer in late July or early August.
…Deb is a professor at BU, teaches non-profit event management, has chaired Intercon, we mainly selected her because she has academic credentials
Deb Geisler also chaired Noreascon 4 (2004).
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 26, 1904 — Peter Lorre. I think his first foray into genre was in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea film as Comm. Lucius Emery though he was in Americanized version of Casino Royale which an early Fifties episode of the Climax! series as Le Chiffre. (James was called Jimmy. Shudder!) Other genre roles were in Tales of Terror as Montresor in “The Black Cat” story, The Raven as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo and The Comedy of Terrors as Felix Grille. (Died 1964.)
Born June 26, 1910 — Elsie Wollheim. The wife of Donald A. Wollheim. She was one of the original Futurians of New York, and assisted them in their publishing efforts, and even published Highpoints, her own one-off fanzine. When he started DAW Books in 1972, she was the co-founder, and inherited the company when he died. Their daughter Elizabeth (Betsy) now runs the company along with co-publisher and Sheila E. Gilbert. (Died 1996.)
Born June 26, 1950 — Tom DeFalco, 69. Comic book writer and editor, mainly known for his Marvel Comics and in particular for his work with the Spider-Man line. He designed the Spider-Girl character which was his last work at Marvel as he thought he was being typecast as just a Spider-Man line writer. He’s since been working at DC and Archie Comics.
Born June 26, 1969 — Lev Grossman, 50. Author of most notable as the author of The Magicians Trilogy which is The Magicians, The Magician King and The Magician’s Land. Perennial best sellers at the local indie bookshops. Understand it was made into a series which is yet another series that I’ve not seen. Opinions on the latter, y’all?
Born June 26, 1969 — Austin Grossman, 50. Twin brother of Lev. And no, he’s not here just because he’s Lev’s twin brother. He’s the author of Soon I Will Be Invincible which is decidedly SF as well as You: A Novel (also called YOU) which was heavily influenced for better or worse by TRON and Crooked, a novel involving the supernatural and Nixon. He’s also a video games designed, some of which such as Clive Barker’s Undying and Tomb Raider: Legend are definitely genre.
Born June 26, 1980 — Jason Schwartzman, 49. He first shows up in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as Gag Halfrunt, Zaphod Beeblebrox’s personal brain care specialist. (Uncredited initially.) He was Ritchie in Bewitched, and voiced Simon Lee in Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation. He co-wrote Isle of Dogs alongwith Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Kunichi Nomura. I think his best work was voicing Ash Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Born June 26, 1984 — Aubrey Plaza, 34. April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation which at least one Filer has insisted is genre. She voiced Eska in recurring role on The Legend of Korra which is a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. She was in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as Julie Powers. Currently she’s Lenny Busker on Legion.
(10) MCINTYRE MEMORY BOOK. Remembering Vonda, the
memorial book of anecdotes and sentiments about the late Vonda McIntyre, is not only available
for sale as trade paperback ($12.12), but can be downloaded as a free PDF.
Jane Hawkins had an idea: to collect all the lovely stories written around Vonda’s death, and to put them in one place for us all to enjoy. This book is that place.Stephanie A. Smith and Jeanne Gomoll joined forces to edit the book. Vonda’s community—her friends, colleagues, readers, and admirers—shared their fondest memories, stories, praise and love for the dear friend they had recently lost.
All proceeds from books sold through LuluDotCom will benefit Clarion West.
It’s no surprise that a cheesy
used-car salesman like Howard Kleiner, sporting a man-pony, a Hawaiian shirt
and a porn ‘stache, would be into throwback gas guzzlers. For him, it’s V8 or
nothing, and if you pick the wrong vehicle on his lot, he may hand you a snide
bumper sticker that says, “Carpool lanes are for sissies.”
(12) HISTORY THAT IS EVEN MORE ALTERNATE THAN USUAL. Jered Pechacek is determined to explain to us “WHY you can’t LEGALLY MARRY CLAMS in the STATE OF MAINE.” Thread starts here. Even easier to follow at Threadreader.
Today, out of nowhere, Funko launched a Deluxe Star Wars Millennium Falcon with Han Solo Pop figure today that must be among the largest that they have ever produced. It measures a whopping 5.5″ tall, is 10.5″ wide and 13.25″ long with a price tag to match – $64.99.
There’s been some question about whether Avengers: Endgame will knock global box-office champ Avatar out of first place in Hollywood’s record books.
…Now, you’d think the threat that Disney might swipe the crown away from Fox would prompt wails of anguish, but it’s hard for the folks at Fox to be too upset.
Because these days, Disney owns Fox.
Which means Disney doesn’t just own the Marvel Universe — and Star Wars, which it bought a few years ago — it now also owns Avatar. And that fact is about to change the way the rest of Hollywood is forced to do business.
…In its first week, Avengers: Endgame sold 88% of the movie tickets that were purchased in North America, leaving just 12 percent to be split by more than a hundred other movies that might as well not have been open. Go back to other mega-blockbusters, and you see the same thing. they take up all the oxygen. Avengers: Infinity War, The Last Jedi, The Force Awakens, Black Panther each took in about 80 percent of their opening weekends, crushing everything else at the multiplex. Small wonder that other studios have learned to steer clear of these all-consuming box office behemoths.
…Every studio opens something big in late December, which has resulted for years in a happy flotilla of blockbusters that play to different audience segments, lifting all boats.
But Disney recently made an announcement that’s going to change that. Now that the company controls all of the franchises in the 2-billion-dollar club (Marvel, Star Wars and Avatar), it doesn’t have to play chicken with other studios about opening dates — it can just claim them.
…The Archive of Our Own has none of these problems. It uses a third tagging system, one that blends the best elements of both styles.
On AO3, users can put in whatever tags they want. (Autocomplete is there to help, but they don’t have to use it.) Then behind the scenes, human volunteers look up any new tags that no one else has used before and match them with any applicable existing tags, a process known as tag wrangling. Wrangling means that you don’t need to know whether the most popular tag for your new fanfic featuring Sherlock Holmes and John Watson is Johnlock or Sherwatson or John/Sherlock or Sherlock/John or Holmes/Watson or anything else. And you definitely don’t need to tag your fic with all of them just in case. Instead, you pick whichever one you like, the tag wranglers do their work behind the scenes, and readers looking for any of these synonyms will still be able to find you….
Deep into any Netflix binge of Stranger Things, it’s easy to get sucked into the misadventures of Eleven and co. and wonder what a day in the life of a character would be like. Baskin Robbins is making this marathon-fueled fever dream one step closer to a reality. The ice cream retailer announced on Wednesday that they’ll be recreating the Stranger Things Scoops Ahoy Ice Cream Shop.
Lick your ice cream cone like its 1985 at a Burbank, CA, installation in its Baskin-Robbins location. Designed to reflect the ice cream parlor located inside the food court of Starcourt Mall—which is frequented by Hawkins, IN locals—you can visit from Tuesday, July 2 to Sunday, July 14.
Not only does a press release boast replicas of nautical décor and staff uniforms (like you could forget Steve Harrington and Robin’s shifts scooping sundaes there), but also show-inspired treats. Previously announced Stranger Things flavors, which have been teased relentlessly on the company’s Instagram, will be ready for consumption and include:
Flavor of the Month, USS Butterscotch: Inspired by the Scoops Ahoy shop at the Starcourt Mall in Hawkins, IN, the July Flavor of the Month is a decadent butterscotch-flavored ice cream with butterscotch pieces and a toffee-flavored ribbon. Also available in pre-packed quarts.
We love a cappella singing on this site and Will Hamblet told me about this one. It’s the theme from the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon show as rendered by a vocal quartet called Midtown. The snazzy video was, they say, shot entirely on an iPhone using the iMessage comic filter.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Kathy Sullivan, Cat Eldridge, Chip
Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Michael Toman, Martin Morse
Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) CATS SLEEP ON $FF.
Cat Rambo issues a warning about “Writing
Contests and Fees”, and rebuts several arguments she’s heard trying to
Here’s one of her answers:
Charging a fee means better submissions. Great reason for editors and magazines; meaningless to writers and in fact, means people that self-reject will be even more likely to do so. It also ensures economically disadvantaged people don’t get to participate. The price of a latte for one person may be the next person’s daily food budget.
(2) PROBLEMS FOR JUDGE WHO ENGAGED
KRAMER’S COMPUTER SERVICES. More revelations about the judge, from the
Gwinett Daily Post. Recent news proves that not only did the judge know about
Kramer, but that she was in phone contact with him. She currently is being
asked to recuse herself following making false statements and recording the DA
during a meeting without his permission or knowledge. “Gwinnett
DA files motion for Superior Court judge to recuse herself from all criminal
Just days after a court filing alleged that Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader expressly gave a convicted sex offender access to the county’s computer network, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter is calling for her to recuse herself from all criminal cases.
…In Friday’s filing, which included an affidavit, Porter said he confronted the judge about her computer being monitored, but “at no time during this meeting did Judge Schrader disclose that she had any direct knowledge of this monitoring, or that she had hired Ward, Karic and Kramer to do so.”
The judge also recorded the meeting “through a video on her phone without (Porter’s) knowledge or consent,” Porter wrote in the affidavit.
On March 15, when the GBI interviewed Schrader, she accused Porter of hacking her computer, Porter’s affidavit said.
“Because Judge Schrader has alleged that I committed a criminal offense against her, I have grounds to reasonably question her impartiality in any criminal case that my office handles before her,” Porter’s affidavit said. “This is further supported by the fact that Judge Schrader has surreptitiously recorded our private conversations without my knowledge or consent, while feigning ignorance of the very individuals she had employed and allowed to access the entire Gwinnett County Computer network.”
…Mendlesohn describes how Heinlein, who when younger had made a well-earned name for himself as an author of serious and innovative speculative fiction, became a rotten writer in the second half of his career. He always told stories well, but his style was execrable. From Starship Troopers (1959) onwards, his books had an endlessly hectoring, lecturing tone, almost always phrased in long and unconvincing conversations full of paternalistic advice, sexual remarks, libertarian dogma and folksy slang. Reading one of his later novels produced the weird effect of meaningless receptivity: you could get through 20 pages at a gallop, but at the end you couldn’t remember anything that had been said, by whom or for what reason. The next 20 pages would be the same (but seemed longer).
… At the end of the war he began a series of juvenile novels, aimed unerringly at young readers but told in the same didactic voice. These novels, not published in the UK until years later when Heinlein was famous, had a profound effect on their American readers. There is still today a generation of middle- aged and elderly American science fiction writers for whom Heinlein is in a position of seminal influence, similar to Hemingway in other literary circles. Heinlein’s influence on modern American science fiction is not universal, but still detectable….
(4) SWATTER GETS 20 YEARS. On
December 28, 2017 Andrew “Andy” Finch was killed when police officers in
Wichita, Kansas responded to a 911 call about a hostage/murder situation.
Tyler Barriss, who made the call, has now been convicted and sentenced: “20
years for man behind hoax call that led to fatal shooting”.
A California man was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for making bogus emergency calls to authorities across the U.S., including one that led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man following a dispute between two online players over a $1.50 bet in the Call of Duty: WWII video game.
U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren sentenced Tyler R. Barriss, 26, under a deal in which he pleaded guilty in November to a total of 51 federal charges related to fake calls and threats. The plea agreement called for a sentence of at least 20 years — well over the 10 years recommended under sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors believe it is the longest prison sentence ever imposed for the practice of “swatting,” a form of retaliation in which someone reports a false emergency to get authorities, particularly a SWAT team, to descend on an address.
Much of the shooting for the original Star Wars movies took place in Tunisia, and legend has it that one local landmark made a powerful impression on its creator, George Lucas.
The influence of Hotel du Lac in Tunis, shaped like an upside-down pyramid with serrated edges, would later be seen in the fictional Sandcrawler vehicle used by the Jawas of the Tatooine desert planet in the film.
‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’ by Samantha Shannon
A millennium ago, a powerful, evil dragon, known only as the Nameless One, was locked away in the Abyss. The people of three nations want to keep the dragon sealed away, but fear that his return is imminent. In Samantha Shannon’s sweeping new fantasy novel, three women, one from each nation, must join forces if they want to keep their world safe.
While there may not be direct links from Peggy to every single Avenger, her status as a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. links her intrinsically to the heroic group and their efforts to save the world from evil time and time again. So here is a very unofficial, fan-centric look at the impact Peggy Carter has had on the MCU, and the ways in which she helped bring Earth’s mightiest heroes together as a team. “All we can do is our best,” after all….
2. Iron Man
A “self-made man” in the same way that Kylie Jenner is a self-made billionaire, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) likely spent his childhood years on the receiving end of some very disapproving glances from his father’s friend and close confidante. Howard’s working relationship with Peggy — sans fondue, of course — is established in The First Avenger, but their friendship is explored even further in Agent Carter’sstellar two-season run on ABC. The pair teamed up to save the world more than a few times, forging a bond so strong, it’s impossible to believe that Peggy wasn’t a part of young Tony’s life — and that she didn’t have an impact on the hero he grew up to be.
And besides that, if Howard had died in Agent Carter’s season one finale, as he came very close to doing, Tony would have gotten scrubbed from the timeline, Marty McFly-style. Thanks, Aunt Peggy.
… For fans of Star Trek: Discovery, specifically, Fontana’s script for the animated episode “Yesteryear,” has been the visual and thematic backbone of nearly all of Discovery Vulcan-centric flashbacks in the second season, which has informed this version of Spock’s character. And, for those who love Spock parent’s— Amanda Grayson and Sarek—Fontana is the person who straight-up invented them.
…In The Original Series, Amanda and Sarek only appeared in “Journey to Babel,” written by Fontana. But, because that episode also featured a huge diplomatic summit on the Enterprise, this also means she created several of the big classic Trek aliens, too, including the Andorians and the Tellarites, who have both made huge appearances in Discovery first two seasons.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 30, 1904 — Herbert van Thal. Editor of the Pan Book of Horror Stories series ran twenty four volumes from 1959 to 1983. Back From the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories is a look at the series and it contains Lest You Should Suffer Nightmares, the first biography of him written by Pan Book of Horror Stories expert Johnny Mains. (Died 1983.)
Born March 30, 1928 — Chad Oliver. Writer of both Westerns and SF, a not uncommon occupation at that time. He considered himself an anthropological science fiction writer whose training as an academic informed his fiction, an early Le Guin if you will. Not a terribly prolific writer with just nine novels and two collections to his name over a forty year span. Mists of Dawn, his first novel, is a YA novel which I’d recommend as it reads similarly to Heinlein. (Died 1993.)
Born March 30, 1930 — John Astin, 89. He is best known for playing as Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween with the New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode.
Born March 30, 1948 — Jeanne Robinson. She co-wrote the Stardance Saga with her husband Spider Robinson. To my knowledge, her only other piece of writing was ‘Serendipity: Do, Some Thoughts About Collaborative Writing ‘ which was published in the MagiCon Program. (Died 2010.)
Born March 30, 1950 — Robbie Coltrane, 69. I first saw him playing Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker way back in the Ninties. Not genre, but an amazing role none-the-less. He was Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, with a much less prominent role as a man at the airfield in Flash Gordon being his first genre role. Being Rubeus Hagrid in the Potter franchise was his longest running genre gig. He’s also voiced both Mr. Hyde in the Van Helsing film and Gregory, a mouse, in The Tale of Despereaux film.
Born March 30, 1958 — Maurice LaMarche, 61. Voice actor primarily known for such roles as Pinky and The Brain (both of which Stross makes use of) with Pinky modelled off Orson Welles, the entire cast as near as I can tell of Futurama, the villain Sylar on Heroes, the voice of Orson Welles in Ed Wood, a less serious Pepé Le Pew in Space Jam, and, though maybe not genre, he’s voiced Kellogg’s Froot Loops spokesbird Toucan Sam and the animated Willy Wonka character in Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company commercials.
Born March 30, 1990 — Cassie Scerbo, 20. She’s only here because in researching Birthdays for this date, one site listed her as being a member of the cast of Star Trek: Progeny, yet another of those video Trek fanfics. Though IMDB has a cast listed for it, that’s about all I could find on it. If I was betting a cask of Romulan ale, I’d wager this was one of the productions that Paramount got shut down three years back.
Today we live in a world where the words “Twilight Zone” are used as an adjective whenever anyone wants to describe stories (or real-life events) that are fearless, insightful, ironic and just a little bit spooky. And that theme song was killer too.
“Would you rather be able to fly or turn invisible?” It’s the archetypal party question. It was already popular way back in 2001, when This American Life addressed it, and the years haven’t lessened its appeal. As recently as 2015, Forbes posed the question to 7,065 “business and professional leaders … across the globe” and Vulture brought it up with the stars of Ant-Man.
Fly, or turn invisible? The question’s popularity is probably due to its uncanny psychological subtext. The two powers don’t seem to conflict at first, but a closer look reveals that they represent opposing tendencies. To fly is to be triumphant, dominant, powerful. To be invisible is to recede, to hide.
Christopher Cantwell nods to this duality in She Could Fly, a graphic novel whose protagonist wishes she could fly and feels like she’s invisible… Luna seems to be suffering from a particularly intense form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but she hasn’t been diagnosed or received any treatment. Taking it for granted that there’s no help for her, she shuts out such well-meaning people as the aforementioned guidance counselor. Luna has only one source of hope, and it’s a doozy: A mysterious woman spotted flying, superhero-style, around the skies of Chicago.
The world Hurley presents in The Light Brigade is a feudalistic nightmare, and makes a sharp commentary on the growing influence and dangers of a world ruled by corporations. Corporations control all aspects of the lives of the citizens, from the information they have access to, to how they’re educated and where they live, their lives given up to supporting whatever unknowable corporate goals their overlords have planned. It’s a perverse twist on Heinlein’s arguments about serving to earn citizenship, which implied that one has to earn their freedom through service. In Hurley’s world, freedom is an illusion. It doesn’t matter what you do, you end up serving your host corporation.
In all the kingdom of nature, does any creature threaten us less than the gentle rabbit? Though the question may sound entirely rhetorical today, our medieval ancestors took it more seriously — especially if they could read illuminated manuscripts, and even more so if they drew in the margins of those manuscripts themselves. “Often, in medieval manuscripts’ marginalia we find odd images with all sorts of monsters, half man-beasts, monkeys, and more,” writes Sexy Codicology’s Marjolein de Vos. “Even in religious books the margins sometimes have drawings that simply are making fun of monks, nuns and bishops.” And then there are the killer bunnies.
Hunting scenes, de Vos adds, also commonly appear in medieval marginalia, and “this usually means that the bunny is the hunted; however, as we discovered, often the illuminators decided to change the roles around.”…
There’s fresh hope for the survival of endangered Tasmanian devils after large numbers were killed off by facial tumours.
The world’s largest carnivorous marsupials have been battling Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) for over 20 years.
But researchers have found the animals’ immune system to be modifying to combat the assault.
And according to an international team of scientists from Australia, UK, US and France, the future for the devils is now looking brighter.
“In the past, we were managing devil populations to avoid extinction. Now, we are progressively moving to an adaptive management strategy, enhancing those selective adaptations for the evolution of devil/DFTD coexistence,” explains Dr Rodrigo Hamede, from the University of Tasmania.
First discovered in north-eastern Tasmania in 1996, the disease has since spread across 95% of the species’ range, with local population losses of over 90%.
(15) CAMELIDS VISIT COMIC
CON. Two events in the same facility find they are unexpectedly compatible.
(16) PLATE SPECIAL. AMC’s
series based on the novel by Joe Hill premieres June 2. Here’s the NOS4A2 “A Fight For Their Souls” official trailer.
Nancy A. Collins, JJ, Mlex, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster,
Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew
Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Soon Lee.]