Mike Allen, of the Clockwork Phoenix anthology series, submitted his photo of Persephone Allen relaxing with Joe Hill’s Strange Weather collection.
Photos of other felines resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
Mike Allen, of the Clockwork Phoenix anthology series, submitted his photo of Persephone Allen relaxing with Joe Hill’s Strange Weather collection.
Photos of other felines resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
(1) MORE MEXICANX. John Picacio announced more picks to receive Worldcon 76 memberships from the Mexicanx Initiative.
Proudly announcing #TheMexicanxInitiative's next wave of Sponsored Membership Recipients to @worldcon2018! cc: @lizzhuerta @albertochimal @raxxie_ @adamgallardo @BabsWebbArt @pepe_rojo @GarciaCaton @canibaldelaire cc: @MaryRobinette @scalzi @mightymur @NB_Chris @SFinSFEvents pic.twitter.com/5HYcX8IRPb
— John Picacio (@JohnPicacio) February 19, 2018
(2) MANY DOLLARS WERE MADE. From NPR: “‘Black Panther’ Breaks Records And Barriers In Debut Weekend”
Black Panther pounced on the weekend box office, breaking cultural barriers and earning the highest debut ever for a February film, with an estimated three-day domestic gross of $192 million, said Disney, Marvel’s parent company.
The opening was the fifth highest-earning of any film, according to Disney. The only other movies that have brought in more are Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jurassic World and The Avengers, according to The Associated Press.
(3) WAKANDA. Abigail Nussbaum weighs in on “A Political History of the Future: Black Panther” at the Lawyers, Guns & Money blog:
From architecture to interior design to costuming, every aspect of Wakanda was designed from the ground up to incorporate traditional African imagery while projecting it into a bold, positive future. Costume designer Ruth Carter’s bywords for the film were “Beautiful. Positive. Forward. Colorful.” Camille Friend, head of the movie’s hair department, has spoken about her determination to feature only natural black hair, in varying styles reflecting the different characters’ personalities. (In one amusing scene, no-nonsense Dora Milaje leader Okoye (Danai Gurira) complains about having to wear a Western-style wig while undercover. Later, during a fight, she throws the wig in her opponent’s face as a distraction.) Star Chadwick Boseman has explained his decision to give T’Challa, the new king of Wakanda, an African accent as an attempt to forestall the preconception that as a cosmopolitan member of the elite, he would naturally have been educated in Europe. In every respect, Black Panther is hard at work crafting an image of African life that is sophisticated, knowledge-based, and futuristic, while at the same time producing a society that is just, prosperous, and benevolent.
(4) CATALANO’S HAT TRICK. Frank Catalano has had three sf-related stories on GeekWire this week:
“I interviewed Peter S. Beagle about his memories of Pittsburgh, where he is getting his SFWA Grand Master Award this year, and also about Seattle, where he used to live. It was done as a study in contrasts between GeekWire’s home city of Seattle and Pittsburgh, a city it is highlighting for the month of February. I happened to think Beagle and the SFWA Nebula Conference were a natural tie.”
Beagle said he came to the University of Pittsburgh as a writing student in 1955, when he was 16 years old. “It was the Steel City of legend then: legendary for its griminess, its foul air, its wretched baseball team, the blazing mills along the river going night and day,” he recalled. “Seeing it from an airplane at night (which was my first sight of the city) was truly like being welcomed to hell.”
Yet the city grew on him. “I came to cherish Pittsburgh, as I still do, even though there literally isn’t a brick on a brick remaining of the mid-fifties town I knew,” he said.
“I also interviewed Ramez Naam, author of the Nexus trilogy of science-fiction thrillers, about his take on why the world is trending more toward the positive than the negative (plus the status of turning Nexus into something more than a novel), and had him re-visit some predictions he made in 2015, for my podcast on science fiction, pop culture and the arts. It led to two stories, the first on the state of the world and tech (and the state of Nexus), and the second on his predictions”:
If you were to ask globally known clean energy expert Ramez Naam what makes him optimistic about technology and the future, it may boil down to one word: scale.
Naam has a long history of thinking about the effects of scale, even before his current role as co-chair for energy and the environment at Singularity University. In his award-winning Nexus science fiction trilogy, Naam tackled the implications of widespread brain-to-brain communication. And in his past role as a computer scientist at Microsoft leading teams working on early versions of Outlook, Internet Explorer, and Bing, Naam came to appreciate what sheer magnitude can do.
“I learned that we can create tools that really improve people’s lives, and that technology can scale to help billions of people,” Naam said. “And that, I think, inspired me with the power of using our minds and our imaginations to make the world better.”
Many of these what-ifs recall a frequent theme of Naam’s writing and speaking: building resilience, both organizationally and individually, to technological change. “Technology moves faster than society, and society even has multiple strata,” he explained. Each is subsequently more sluggish, starting with how fast the next generation learns, to how fast we learn, to how fast organizations learn, and finally to how fast government learns.
So to deal with rapid change, Naam said, “We have to be more experimental as a society.” Governments may have to try different policies just to see which ones work. “That would be anathema to the way that politicians voice certainty of, ‘X will do Y.’ But that’s how science works. It’s how innovation in business works,” he said.
“Finally — and this is a personal favorite — a story that Tacoma will soon have a park named for Dune, honoring Frank Herbert. Why a personal favorite? Back in 1986, I was asked by Frank Herbert’s family to help field news media calls about his literary legacy when he died (at the time, I was very active in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and had been an officer of the organization). And the park’s setting is especially appropriate, as my story notes.”
There likely won’t be any sandworms, but that’s not needed to spice up this news: Tacoma, Wash., native Frank Herbert, best known for the hugely popular Dune science-fiction novels, is getting a namesake park in his home town.
The Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners has approved naming an 11-acre waterfront site “Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park,” and a winding pedestrian loop being built on the same site the “Frank Herbert Trail.” The public space is currently under construction on land that once housed the former ASARCO copper smelting operation, next to the Tacoma Yacht Club boat basin.
(5) JOE HILL ON VINYL. HarperAudio, the audio imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, will publish Dark Carousel, a “vinyl-first” audiobook by New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill on April 20, a release timed to coincide with Record Store Day on April 21. Entertainment Weekly revealed the cover of Dark Carousel along with an exclusive excerpt from the audiobook.
Says author Joe Hill, “My hard rockin’ fantasies are pretty well documented at this point — the hero of my first novel was, after all, a world-famous heavy metal rocker. I’ve always wanted to have my own LP, and the idea that one of my stories is being released as an audiobook on vinyl blows my Beatles-quoting, Stones-fixated, Zeppelin-obsessed mind. Even better, I’m on the record with Matthew Ryan, a great American rocknrolla. His cover of “Wild Horses” is the best version of the song since the original. I’m so excited for readers and listeners to drop the needle on this story and Matt’s song.”
Written about a balmy summer night in 1994. Dark Carousel is the tale of four teenagers out for an evening of fun on the boardwalk who take a ride on the “Wild Wheel” – an antique carousel with a shadowy past – and learn too late that decisions made in an instant can have deadly consequences. What begins as a night of innocent end-of-summer revelry, young love, and (a few too many) beers among friends soon descends into chaos, as the ancient carousel’s parade of beasts comes chillingly to life to deliver the ultimate judgment for their misdeeds.
(6) HAVE YOU ORDERED YOURS YET? Hasbro wants 5,000 pre-orders to greenlight production: “Hasbro’s first HasLab toy is a replica of Jabba the Hutt’s barge”.
At this year’s Toy Fair in New York, Hasbro announced HasLab, a new program that aims to bring to life special creations like a massive, four-foot long recreation of Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge. The company is taking inspiration from platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, too: In order for the barge to become a real for-sale production item, Hasbro wants to gather 5,000 $499 pre-orders by midnight on April 3rd.
If the project reaches its funding goal, Jabba’s Sail Barge (or The Khetanna if you’re a Star Wars geek) will come with a 64-page booklet with behind-the-scenes details, set photos, interviews and blueprints of the actual set piece in the film as well as production information on the toy. The barge also comes with a 3.75-inch scale Jabba the Hutt and soft cloth sails for the top of the sand boat.
The Khetanna—Jabba the Hutt’s famed sail barge—could come to life with your help! If we reach 5000 pre-orders, Jabba’s vehicle of choice for will become a reality – and the largest #StarWars vehicle ever created by Hasbro! Visit https://t.co/NG8rsvwgj4 for info! #HasbroToyFair pic.twitter.com/gsWR1D9qba
— Hasbro (@HasbroNews) February 19, 2018
— Newsarama (@Newsarama) February 18, 2018
(7) JOHN BROSNAN. Kim Huett’s next Doctor Strangemind post is “John Brosnan & the Abomnibus”. In 1969 John joined a group of other young Australians who were planning to travel by double-decker bus to England. The attempt was somewhat less than successful…
Something that John wrote extensively about in the early days was his attempt to travel by bus from Australia to England. Up until the eighties there was something of a tradition among young Australians to visit ‘Mother England’ before settling down to lives of quiet desperation in the sun-baked suburbs of Australia. Most such adventurers travelled to the mother country via cruise liner, a few lucky ones flew there, but John, being inexplicably drawn to doing everything the hard way, decided that he would spend several months of 1969 travelling to ‘Ye Merry England’ with a group of other young Australians in a double-decker bus. My impression from what he wrote is that he enjoyed it more in retrospect than he did at the time…
Huett is keeping Brosnan’s non-book material alive. There’s a PDF collection that can still be downloaded for free from eFanzines. More recently Dave Langford asked Huett to put together a new, even larger version, which can be downloaded for free here.
(8) CANDLE TIME. Steven H Silver celebrates another author with “Birthday Reviews: Jonathan Lethem’s ‘Lostronaut’” at Black Gate.
…Lethem won the World Fantasy Award for his collection The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye. He has been nominated for the Nebula Award four times, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award three times, and the Shirley Jackson Award, Sidewise Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award one time, each. His novel Gun, with Occasional Music received the William L. Crawford Award and won the Locus Poll for best first novel….
(9) NEW TWIST ON PARK MAPS. Mental Floss reports “A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style”:
Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports
Click here to see his impressive Yellowstone National Park map.
(10) HUGO RECS. Strange at Ecbatan’s Rich Horton wrapped up his Hugo recommendations with “Final 2018 Hugo Recommendation Post” – Semiprozine, Fancast, Best Related Work, Professional Artist.
The others in the series are:
(11) FILLING IN SOME BLANKS. Mark Kaedrin also shares his picks for “Hugo Award Season 2018”, beginning with —
The nomination period for the 2018 Hugo Awards is open, so it’s time to get out the vote before the requisite whining and bitter recriminations start in earnest. I’ve read a bunch of eligible works, but of course not all will make the cut. Here’s where I’m at right now:
- The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (Novel)
- The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (Novel)
- All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (Novella)
- The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold (novella)
- Uncanny Valley by Greg Egan (Novelette)
- Extracurricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee (Novelette)
(12) CHOCOLATE CHAMPS. Congratulations to Filer Daniel P. Dern for scoring second in Boskone 55’s Chocolate for Trivia event.
CHOCOLATE TRIVIA SCORES
Bob Devney 52
Dan Dern 44
Tim Liebe 27
Peter Turi 23
(13) QUICKER SIPPER. Charles Payseur is back with “Quick Sips – Shimmer #41 [February stuff]”.
The stories from Shimmer Magazine’s February offerings excel in coming from interesting viewpoints. From ghosts of boys who never were and never should have been to bags full of dreams and magic, the character work here involves narrators whose primary function is to accompany someone else. In that these are two excellently paired stories that highlight the ways in which these companions, these burdens, these people relate to those who carry them. And the stories offer two widely different takes on that theme, one of the narrators kind and helpful and loving and the other…well, not so much. The stories show just how much these presences can help the people carrying them, and just how much they can hurt as well. To the reviews!
(14) GUITAR CITY. A popular movie has paid off in more than one way: “A Town In Mexico Sees Guitar Sales Soar Thanks To The Movie ‘Coco'”.
Real-life sales of guitars like Miguel’s guitar have soared thanks to the movie. And not just in U.S. stores. A small town in Mexico’s western highlands, famous for its generation of guitar makers, is also enjoying a Coco boon.
Paracho, in the state of Michoacán, is the former home of the very guitar maker who helped design the instrument seen in the film.
(15) NOT EXACTLY THE AGE OF AQUARIUS. A marker for the beginning of the Anthropocene: “‘Loneliest tree’ records human epoch”.
It’s been dubbed “the loneliest tree on the planet” because of its remote location, but the Sitka spruce might represent something quite profound about the age in which we live.
The tree, sited on Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean, records in its wood a clear radioactive trace from the A-bomb tests of the 1950s and 60s.
As such, it could be the “golden spike” scientists are seeking to define the start of the Anthropocene Epoch – a new time segment in our geological history of Earth.
The suggestion is that whatever is taken as the golden spike, it should reflect the so-called “Great Acceleration” when human impacts on the planet suddenly intensified and became global in extent.
This occurs after WWII and is seen for example in the explosion in plastics production.
(16) THE GANG’S ALL HERE. It’s 1963 and producer Roger Corman turns to Poe for his forty-seventh movie. Galactic Journey tells whether it’s worth seeing: “[February 18, 1963] An Odd Beast (Roger Corman’s The Raven)”.
The Raven hit theaters last month not so much to terrify audiences, but to reel them in with a star studded cast and a light, Edgar Allan Poe-flavored, fantasy comedy story. Starring Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Hazel Court, the film is very loosely based around the narrative Edgar Allan Poe poem by the same name. By this I mean that Hazel Court is, of course, the sassy and longed-for Lenore, and Vincent Price quotes segments of the poem. There the similarities end.
(17) A BETTER USE FOR THAT MONEY. K. Tempest Bradford argues her fundraiser is a bargain at half the price.
Jon Del Arroz wants $10,000 to sue Worldcon for banning him.
I only want $5,000 to go to Egypt and make awesome steampunk novels. https://t.co/ZMwNLPQWwl
— K Tempest "#WakandaForever" Bradford (@tinytempest) February 20, 2018
(18) SPEAKING UP. Sophie Aldred gives Uncanny Magazine readers a captivating account of “My Voice-Over Life”.
Sophie Aldred has been working as a professional actress, singer, and director for the last 35 years in theatre, TV, film and audio. She is perhaps best known as the 7th Doctor Who’s companion, Ace, who beat up a Dalek with a baseball bat….
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to read stories to her brother. She liked to put on funny voices for all the different characters and found that she was rather good at mimicking accents and odd vocal characteristics. Sometimes her brother would beg her to stop reading as he had had enough; sometimes she listened.
The little girl also liked listening to the radio programmes that her Mummy had on in the kitchen while she was making supper for Daddy who came in hungry and tired from the office (it was the 1960’s after all). Although she didn’t understand any of the so-called jokes, she loved a man called Kenneth Williams, whose strangulated vocal gymnastics she tried to imitate, and another one called Derek Nimmo, who you could tell was rather vague and very posh just by the tone of his voice….
(19) I SEE FOUR JELLYBEANS! A psychiatrist in a mental hospital has a disturbing conversation with one of his patients, a brilliant mathematician, in the SF short film The Secret Number by Colin Levy.
[Thanks to JJ, Will R., John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, John Picacio, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rev. Bob .]
AudioFile, a print and ezine, reviews audiobooks to “recommend good listening, top-notch performances and dynamic listening experiences.” The editors annually honor their choices of the best audiobooks across a variety of categories.
This year File 770 is partnering with AudioFile to announce the winners of the 2017 Best of Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror Audiobooks. They are listed here with links to the AudioFile reviews and, for some, a sample sound clip. (To see the winners in all the other categories, page through the AudioFile 2017 Best Audiobooks ezine.)
2017 Best of SCI-FI, FANTASY & HORROR Audiobooks
THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden, read by Kathleen Gati
Exclusive Narrator Video
(1) DISCLAIMERS. Daniel Dern noticed this disclaimer on latest 30-second Justice League trailer (at the very end): “Sequences of Sci-Fi Action and Violence”
“Accurate. Intriguingly specific,” he says. “Makes me wonder what other disclaimers might be.” And he suggests —
“Cussing, pouting, and attitude. Do not attempt these magic experiments without proper protective gear and spells.”
“Warning: If you’ve read the rest of the books, you know things keep getting worse.”
“Warning: It’s not Bob who’s your uncle.”
(2) KINGS OF THE PUBLISHING WORLD. The family that sells together rings cash register bells together…. “Stephen and Owen King and Joe Hill are all on the New York Times bestseller list right now”.
In what’s a first for the Kings, three out of five members of the family are all on the New York Times bestseller list as of this week.
Stephen King and his youngest son, Owen, collaborated on the highly entertaining horror yarn “Sleeping Beauties,” about a mysterious mystical occurrence that puts all the women of the world to sleep — and if they wake up, well, watch out. That book came out on Sept. 26 and immediately shot to the top of the hardcover fiction list; it still remains at number four, five weeks in.
Meanwhile, Joe Hill, the eldest of the King kids, last week released “Strange Weather,” a collection of four novellas about the supernatural and horrific. It debuted this week at number nine on the hardcover fiction charts.
(3) GRIPE SESSION. ComicsBeat’s Heidi MacDonald covers the complaints about the Central Canada Comic Con held in Winnipeg: “When a con goes badly: Area man claims C4 Winnipeg was ‘The Worst Convention I Have Ever Attended’”. According to webcomics creator Michael McAdam —
Blanket statement that remained true for the entire weekend: No volunteer anywhere could answer any questions. They were confused, lost, disjointed, or had incorrect information. In fact, a Facebook friend of mine tried to attend on Saturday- and was given so many incorrect directions to registration that he gave up and left without entering the con! Think about that: a paying attendee, who wants to come in and spend his money, can’t even get directed to the proper entrance due to absolute incompetence and ignorance. How many people do you think gave up? How much in terms of potential earnings was lost due to stupidity?
Followed by lots more like that.
(4) THIS JUST IN. Meanwhile, back at World Wombat HQ….
DAD: *sends photos of deer he bagged*
MOM: I wrote about a pageant in a slaughterhouse.
ME: In retrospect, “normal” was never on the table.
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) November 3, 2017
(5) BINTI MEETS TED. Tor.com tells how “Nnedi Okorafor’s TED Talk Explains Afrofuturism vs. Science Fiction Using the Octopus Analogy”, including this quote from Okorafor:
This idea of leaving but bringing and then becoming more is at one of the hearts of Afrofuturism, or you can simply call it a different type of science fiction. I can best explain the difference between classic science fiction and Afrofuturism if I used the octopus analogy. Like humans, octopuses are some of the most intelligent creatures on earth. However, octopus intelligence evolved from a different evolutionary line, separate from that of human beings, so the foundation is different. The same can be said about the foundations of various forms of science fiction.
(6) ORIGINAL CUT DISCOVERED. Bradbury scholar Phil Nichols made a discovery:
In the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies today I discovered the original release version of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, previously considered lost. The film previewed badly in 1982, and the Disney studios panicked and decided to rework the film. The lost version has never been released, and is believed never to have been screened since that preview.
(7) PARK PLACE. There was a summer groundswell of public support to name a Tacoma park after Dune author Frank Herbert. Metro Parks Tacoma Public Information Officer Michael Thompson answered Andrew Porter’s request for an update with this statement:
Still under consideration, still no decision. Our planning department is dealing with several construction projects, so the decision probably will be pushed back to later in the year instead of “fall.”
Herbert was born in Tacoma in 1920 and lived there as an adult. The idea to name a newly developed park for him was first suggested in 2013.
(8) RUSSELL OBIT. Pioneering television director Paddy Russell (1928-2017) has died at the age of 89. Doctor Who News paid tribute:
Patricia Russell, known to all as Paddy, had a long and distinguished career as one of the first female Directors in British television….
In the 1950’s Television was crying out for theatre staff to work in the new medium and Russell was recruited as a production assistant, working with the famed director Rudolph Cartier. Acting as the director’s eyes and ears on the studio floor, Russell worked on some of the most innovative and pioneering dramas of the day including the Quatermass science-fiction serials as well as the 1954 adaptation of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four starring Peter Cushing. …Her first encounter with Doctor Who came in 1966 when she became the first female Director to work on the show. She helmed the First Doctor story The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve.
…It was eight years later that Russell returned to the show working on the six-part Jon Pertwee story Invasion of the Dinosaurs. It was a story fraught with technical difficulties in the attempt to bring dinosaurs to London using the primitive methods available in the early 1970’s. While not always successful it was a story Russell was very proud of.
…Two more stories followed, both staring the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. In 1975 she directed the fan favourite Pyramids of Mars, followed in 1977 by the Horror of Fang Rock. She had a prickly relationship with the lead actor whom she found increasingly difficult to work with….
(9) TODAY’S DAY
International Speculative Poetry Day
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association persuaded the State of Minnesota to declare November 3 to be International Speculative Poetry Day.
International Speculative Poetry Day seeks to highlight the vibrant legacy and extraordinary achievement of speculative poets. It seeks to introduce communities to the delights and benefits of reading and writing speculative poetry as well as make speculative poetry an important and innovative part of our cultural life. Speculative poetry has produced some of the nation’s leading creative artists and influential books, performances, and exhibitions, inspiring other artists, educators, and community builders around the world.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
And the bards of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association have put up a page of verse honoring the pioneer, “Remembering Laika”.
This year, November 3rd coincides with the 60th anniversary of Laika’s historic mission into outer space. (That’s 420 in space dog years!) She advanced Earth’s knowledge and paved the way for space exploration and much of our modern world today. Several of our SFPA members recently shared poems inspired by Laika and our canine companions to mark the day. A special thanks to them and Dr. Suzie GeeForce for illustrating the occasion! You can also find additional poems by our members in our list-serv.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY KAIJU
(12) WAVES. Lela E. Buis questions whether some TV participants are “Asking for contradictory things?”
I’m probably going to get into serious trouble with this post, as it touches on third wave feminism. Various people have urged me to address the topic before and I’ve just not gotten to it. Up front, let me say I’m a second wave feminist, and I have opinions that sometimes diverge sharply from the current platform.
Here’s the issue: A while back I watched a panel discussion on the Weinstein scandal, and I was struck with some contradictions. This show was Friday, Oct. 13, Third Rail with Ozy asks: Is sexual harassment inevitable in the workplace? Along with Colorado College Professor Tomi-Ann Roberts, the panel included three younger women.
Roberts related her personal experience with Weinstein as a 20-year-old and her subsequent decision that she wasn’t cut out for work in Hollywood. The panel then went on to define sexual harassment in the workplace to include compliments on appearance and beauty. Hm. Okay, second wave question here: Roberts looks professional. She’s got on a boxy jacket and restrained hair and makeup, but the other women look like they’ve spent hours on their appearance, plus a big chunk of change. They have on form-fitting clothing, heavy make-up and trendy hair styling. Why?
If we assume appearance is expression and therefore a type of speech, what are they saying?…
And she continues from there with her analysis.
(13) ANOTHER ATWOOD IN DEVELOPMENT. This one is based on a historical novel: “Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’ adapted as Netflix series”.
Another Margaret Atwood novel is getting the Hollywood treatment, this time on Netflix.
In “Alias Grace,” a six-episode Netflix miniseries starring Sarah Gadon, an Irish immigrant working as a maid in Canada in the 1840s is accused of murdering her boss and his mistress. Her case is covered with breathless scrutiny, making the young woman infamous.
Based on Atwood’s historical novel, Gadon plays Grace, who recounts her life story to a young psychiatrist trying to help jog her memory.
(14) IT IS TO BLUSH. Slate’s Sam Adams declares “Stranger Things’ “Punk” Episode Is Unbelievably Awful”
The second season of Stranger Things—or, if we must, Stranger Things 2—effectively recaptures the meme-spawning magic of its first. But for a season that mostly follows the template of “What if that thing you liked, but more?” the new episodes make a pronounced departure in splitting Millie Bobbie Brown’s Eleven off from her group of demogorgon-fighting pals, most of whom think she’s disappeared or dead. As the series’ breakout character, played by its strongest young actor, Eleven is a natural candidate to carry her own largely self-contained storyline, but the strain of building a new world for her to inhabit taxes the Duffer brothers’ self-mimicking skills to the limit, and finally exhausts them altogether in its seventh episode, “The Lost Sister.” The result is an unmitigated embarrassment…
(15) BRINGS THE HAMMER. NPR’s Chris Klimek says “‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Is Hela Good”:
Ragnarok, an incontrovertibly bitchin’ word that refers in Norse myth to the final, winner-take-all smackdown between good and evil, is an awfully heavy subtitle for a movie as affably insubstantial as The Mighty Thor’s mighty third.
Catching us up on what your friendly neighborhood Thunder-God (and your friendly neighborhood Incredible Hulk) were doing while they were absent from last year’s Captain America: Civil War, the movie earns the backhanded compliment of being the best Thor picture by an Asgardian mile, and the more sincere one of being not in the least a chore to sit through. It’s funnier and prettier than most of the other Marvel movies, having figured out that adopting the visual palette of Frank Frazetta’s glossy swords n’ monsters n’ muscles fantasy paintings — rather than trying to cross that uncanny valley into photorealism — is a good way to make the wall-to-wall CGI less fatiguing. Half the frames in this film would look right at home airbrushed on the side of a 1978 Ford Econoline “shaggin’ wagon” van, which would almost certainly be blasting Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” a vintage headbanger that the Thor 3 soundtrack Ragna-rocks twice. (I am getting choked up thinking about all the 10-year-olds who will see this thing and shortly thereafter download their very first Led Zep.)
(16) GOURD EMERGENCY. Or, why they call it “felonious abandonment of zucchini”: German man believes 11-pounder is unexploded bomb, calls police: “German police find ‘WW2 bomb’ was big courgette”.
The 5kg (11-pound) courgette had probably been thrown over a hedge into the 81 year old’s garden, police said.
Luckily no evacuation was required in Bretten, a town near Karlsruhe in south-west Germany.
The last part is by no means a joke — On 3 September 65,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Frankfurt, so that a 1.4-tonne British bomb could be defused. It was the biggest evacuation in post-war German history for an unexploded bomb alert.
(17) THIRSTING FOR ACTION. SyFy Wire looks forward to seeing “Beer-loving giant ants terrorize teens in trailer for It Came from the Desert“
New levels, man — new levels. In the never-ending quest to escalate campiness to heights that beggar irony, here comes a movie. A movie, based on a Commodore Amiga video game from the late 1980s, about giant ants; ants that live in the desert; ants who enjoy beer straight from the keg and can only be vanquished — at great personal cost — by a mostly-expendable cast of libidinous teens.
You know how these things make us feel.
If you gamed in the ‘80s, you may remember It Came from the Desert, an Amiga title that drew heavy inspiration from Them! and other B-horror flicks from the 1950s. As the game’s protagonist, Dr. Greg Bradley traversed the Nevada desert landscape, staging desperate battles against radioactively-mutated ants in a variety of interesting locations.
Now Cinemaware, the game’s original developer, is teaming with Finnish VFX effects studio Roger! Pictures to revive the goofy premise in a live-action format. The trailer for the eponymous movie seems to lie somewhere between a proof of concept and an enticing synopsis of what we’re (admittedly) hoping will end up as a finished product.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]
Review by Mike Glyer: Three of the four short novels in Joe Hill’s Strange Weather merge nightmarish technology and mythic predicaments in a way bound to fascinate sff fans, while the fourth is rooted in gun-related horrors the daily news won’t let us escape. All four tales are radically enriched by Hill’s exploration of the characters’ interior lives and relationships.
Years ago I lamented the fact that while a commercially-successful author like James Michener filled his epic bestsellers with heart-tugging characters, science fiction remained exclusively populated by the same two-dimensional figures that had marked it from the beginning, possessing just enough heroism and sentiment to explore the idea that was the reason for the story. That changed a generation ago, but I always appreciate a writer like Joe Hill, who’s ready to explore why someone makes the choices he or she does when plunged into the crucible of a science fictional crisis.
George Alec Effinger once explained that if you had a certain goal – like writing an sf novel that was also a mystery — you had to “budget” the wordage needed to honor the tropes of each genre. Similarly, for Joe Hill to drill into his characters’ backgrounds and emotional lives as he does in these short novels requires more wordage to unfold than it would to isolate on the sf/horror ideas underlying them had they been written in the days of sf’s pulp origins.
In Snapshot, a 13-year-old nerd finds himself the only force standing between an elderly couple and the menace of “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug with a mysterious Polaroid-style camera that erases memories snap by snap.
The nerd, named Mike, tinkers on all kinds of projects, his latest being a confetti-firing party gun which obligingly obeys Chekov’s Law by the end of the story.
The wife in the couple once was a younger Mike’s caregiver, someone who helped raise him and now seems mentally ravaged by age. Although the “real” reason is an otherworldly camera in the hands of an evildoer, Hill takes full advantage of the opportunity to explore the end of human life, memory, and the loss of relationships in the face of frailty and illness.
Snapshot summoned the same emotional response from me as Keith Laumer’s “Long Remembered Thunder,” which is about a student who has to master an alien weapon to save his teacher and the person she loves. But I would add that while Laumer worked within a narrower frame of archetypes and sentiment, Hill frequently hits on compelling psychological, ethical and spiritual truths about his characters.
If Snapshot has any weakness, it’s that the story has more than one ending. Somebody needed to tell the author the story was over. Not that the extra wordage did any harm to my enjoyment of what had gone before – and maybe Hill just needed me to see what happened later on to an interesting family, the way Tolkien planned to do at the end of The Lord of the Rings until his friends talked him out of it.
Loaded, the second short novel, is inspired by America’s gun culture, racial injustice, and the routine bloody sacrifice of fact-based truth at the altar of patriotic mythology. It’s painful to read, with a constant flow of tragedy, not just a tragic ending.
This is horror. Just keep waiting for the people you like to die. They will.
Aubrey Griffin doesn’t really want to jump out of an airplane, he just wants to impress Harriet, and is on the verge of backing out until fate intervenes in the form of a strange-looking cloud.
He’s yet another of Joe Hill’s fat, farting heroes whose self-indulgence and denial must be explored on the way to unraveling the protagonist’s one-sided romantic aspirations, before he finally realizes he won’t be missed from the world any more than the guy in Bruce Jay Friedman’s Steambath.
Aubrey Griffin’s abortive parachute jump lands him on an impossibly solid cloud, where his human willingness to yield to delusions and wish-fulfillment may cost him his life. Aloft revolves around an idea that’s a classic sf mix of myth and mystery, made science fictional by repeated hints that it might all be a product of alien technology. Hill effectively draws on traditions like Shakespeare’s Caliban, the trials of Psyche in classical literature, and doubtless even more things than I recognized.
What is the cloud really made of? Will Aubrey survive? Having just read Loaded, I was feeling that was unlikely, and was marking time til the author arbitrarily decided which of the many dumb decisions Aubrey was making ought to be the one that killed him. Instead, Hill surprised me, and in the end it’s a new life, not the afterlife, that Aubrey is headed for.
The final of these four novels is Rain. On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of crystal spikes that tear apart everyone who can’t quickly get to cover. The first casualties include the protagonist’s girlfriend. The protagonist, Honeysuckle Speck, is a black lesbian and the girlfriend was in the middle of moving in on that fateful day.
And the neighborhood she was moving to is loaded with characters —
— not to mention loving mothers and absent fathers.
The crystal rain is not a single Fortean event — Hill pays Vonnegut a brief homage – this climate calamity is spanning the world and might be irreversible, reminiscent of Ice-9.
Honeysuckle wants to tell her girlfriend’s family what has happened, but can’t raise them on the phone, so she decides it’s her duty to walk to Denver and tell them, despite the risk of further shard-filled stormclouds. This quest also gives Hill his wanted opening to view the human race breaking down under the strain, to honor those who unexpectedly prove to be remaining pillars of social order, and to show how quickly the jackals come out.
Hill is very inventive and sometimes has trouble “killing his darlings,” getting rid of a really clever bit of wordplay that breaks character or throws you out of the narrative. (Like a reviewer who refuses to strike a gaudy phrase like “climate calamity.”) However, most of them remain carefully embedded in the flow of the story and ring true as insights the characters discover about themselves.
The quest and the view of many different people under pressure would seem like the point of the story – and it really is. Maybe Rain is another story with more endings than it needs, because before it concludes Hill also reveals how the weather crisis was caused, in a rather Twilight Zone-married-to-the-X-Files kind of way. But no harm was done, I didn’t become any less interested as he worked through the denouement, so neither I nor Hippocrates have reason to object.
Joe Hill, of course, is known as one of America’s leading horror writers. I come away from this collection rethinking my notions about the horror genre – which I not only identify with dark events and toxic emotional experiences, but with portentous and slow-as-molasses reveals. Strange Weather’s four short novels all move right along, quickly dispatching characters to meet their trouble or doom, and mapping the way with a personal history that needs to be solved just as much as the monster/invention/disaster that may end everyone before they can. I don’t know whether this book has made me a fan of horror, but it’s certainly made me a fan of Joe Hill.
(1) ASKING FOR A MULLIGAN. The Hugo Award Book Club casts aspersions on a 2001 winner in “Harry Potter and the Undeserved Hugo”.
If Hugo Award voters had the prescience to have recognized (via award or nomination) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1998, perhaps it would be more forgivable. But looking at the situation with 15 years of hindsight, it feels like the Hugos were just bandwagon jumping on an established series that was already extraordinarily popular.
It seems to me that honouring the book with a Hugo Award did nothing to help it find new readers, and this feels like an abdication of what the award should be about.
(2) SOUND THE HORN. Since being chastised for misspelling Froot Loops, John King Tarpinian has been doing penitential research about the cereal. Those of you who were saying you can’t get unicorn burgers may want to know you can get unicorn breakfast cereal, for a limited time — “Unicorn Froot Loops Are Now Enchanting Store Shelves”.
Kellogg’s is giving early mornings a major dose of magic. According to Delish, the cereal giant is remixing its fan-favorite Froot Loops with a very 2017 makeover: unicorn.
Almost unrecognizable without Toucan Sam, eagle-eyed shoppers are sure to get pulled in by the rainbows, stars, and a very cute unicorn. The limited-edition cereal comes with new packaging that features the as-yet-unnamed animated unicorn complete with a requisite rainbow mane, but the real magic is inside the box.
While standard Froot Loops are already a Technicolor addition to any breakfast, the unicorn version is a little more subdued, but ups the ante when it comes to trendy hues.
(3) SPEAKING UP. Neil Gaiman voiced a character on The Simpsons on Sunday – a Coraline parody was part of the latest “Treehouse of Horror” episode.
A.V. Club reviewed the overall effort: “The Simpsons walks us through a visually ambitious but forgettable Treehouse Of Horror”.
The 28th “Treehouse Of Horror” carries on the venerable Simpsons institution by, as ever, tossing a whole lot of stuff at the screen and seeing what sticks. To that end, this year’s outing gives us: An Exorcist parody, a Coraline parody, Homer eating human flesh (just his own, but still), stop-motion segments, horror and fantasy-specific guest stars, a little light Fox standards-pushing (Homer does, as stated, eat human flesh), and the usual string of hit-or-miss gags. That last part isn’t really a criticism in itself. Freed up from the need to calibrate the heart-yucks equation, a “Treehouse Of Horror” rises or falls on the strength of its jokes, although the annual Halloween anthology provides its own unique degree of difficulty.
(4) ON THE CANVAS. Walter Jon Williams does a draft cover reveal for the next book in the Praxis Series. He has been making a heroic effort to complete it but the book isn’t cooperating, as he says in “Punch Drunk”.
I haven’t been posting for several days, because I’ve been trying to finish The Accidental War, which (according to the publisher) is Book IV of the Praxis series, but which (according to me alone, apparently) is Book VI, because I count Impersonations and Investments, and they don’t.
See? It even has a cover! Though this may not be the actual cover when it’s released, at the moment it’s just sort of a cover suggestion the art department is playing with.
Wow! Sure looks like MilSF, doesn’t it?
(5) PENRIC. And at Goodreads, Lois McMaster Bujold has shared “The Prisoner of Limnos cover sneak peek” with art by Ron Miller.
So, as promised, here is the e-cover of the new Penric & Desdemona novella. It will be #6 in the current internal chronology (and publishing order.)
The vendor-page copy will read:
“In this sequel novella to “Mira’s Last Dance”, Temple sorcerer Penric and the widow Nikys have reached safety in the duchy of Orbas when a secret letter from a friend brings frightening news: Nikys’s mother has been taken hostage by her brother’s enemies at the Cedonian imperial court, and confined in a precarious island sanctuary.
“Their own romance still unresolved, Nikys, Penric, and of course Desdemona must infiltrate the hostile country once more, finding along the way that family relationships can be as unexpectedly challenging as any rescue scheme.”
(6) PRODUCT PLACEMENT. Adweek tells how “A Baby Dragon Brings the Heat for Doritos on Twitter”.
You don’t have to be a Targaryen to know the value of a baby dragon.
When Doritos U.K. released a limited edition of extra-hot tortilla chips called Heatburst this past spring, it became part of the conversation on Twitter by creating its own “celebrity”—a comical, fire-breathing baby dragon—to represent the new flavor.
As described in the video below, the Heatburst campaign, with the hashtags #HeatWillCome and #BabyDragon, centered on the dragon character. It launched with a series of quirky videos where the baby dragon innocently ignited virtually everything around him. As awareness for the product grew, the baby dragon became a Twitter character in his own right, inserting himself into pop-culture moments and current events to keep the brand top of mind. Doritos U.K. did this using a full-range of Twitter formats, including branded emojis, GIFs, and conversational videos.
(7) CONTINUED WEINSTEIN AFTERMATH. The Hollywood Reporter says female animators sent a letter to executives at major animation studios insisting on an end of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Among the 217 women and gender-nonconforming people who signed the letter are Netflix’s head of kids programming Jenna Boyd, Bob’s Burgers producer and writer Wendy Molyneax, Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar and Danger & Eggs co-creator Shadi Petosky, as well as animators of BoJack Horseman, Adventure Time and The Powerpuff Girls.
The full text of the letter is at The Wrap (“Women Animators Pen Open Letter on Sexual Harassment: ‘This Abuse Has Got to Stop’”.) The demands include:
- Every studio puts in place clear and enforceable sexual harassment policies and takes every report seriously. It must be clear to studio leadership, including producers, that, no matter who the abuser is, they must investigate every report or face consequences themselves.
- The Animation Guild add language in our constitution that states that it can “censure, fine, suspend or expel any member of the guild who shall, in the opinion of the Executive Board, be found guilty of any act, omission, or conduct which is prejudicial to the welfare of the guild.” To craft and support the new language, we ask that an Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Committee be created to help educate and prevent future occurrences.
- Our male colleagues start speaking up and standing up for us. When their co-workers make sexist remarks, or when they see sexual harassment happening, we expect them to say something. Stop making excuses for bad behavior in your friends and co-workers, and tell them what they are doing is wrong.
(8) MAKING LIGHT. Overshadowed by the Cuban Missile Crisis is Galactic Journey’s review of the November 1962 Fantastic.
It seems likely that the threat of violence, which hangs over our heads in these troubled times, makes it necessary for us to make light of traditional terrors. We laugh to keep from screaming. As an example, on the same day that China invaded India, Bobby Picket’s novelty song, The Monster Mash, reached the top of the charts.
Appropriately, the latest issue of Fantastic features another comic version of old-fashioned horrors….
It’s Magic, You Dope! (Part 1 of 2), by Jack Sharkey Lloyd Birmingham’s cover art, which reminds me of the macabre cartoons of Charles Addams, captures the spooky but laughable nature of this short novel by editor Cele Goldsmith’s resident comedian.
(9) YESTERDAY’S DAY
October 22 is Wombat Day and it's a day you celebrate wombats. So please celebrate at least one wombat today. pic.twitter.com/qm2k1foK4d
— Michael Meloni (@michaelmeloni) October 22, 2017
(10) THE MALL’S OUR DESTINATION. At Pornokitsch, Jared takes us shopping: “Malls, Mallrats and Browsing”.
Doug Stephens wrote a powerful piece on how ‘to save retail, let it die’. In it, he lists all the ways in which retail is doomed (hi, Amazon!) on his way to a, more-or-less, familiar conclusion: retail spaces need to become experiences.
Stephens posits that the future retail spaces aren’t about buying products at all, but about:
- gathering data
- selling experiences that involve the products
Imagine, I suppose, the LEGO store, but solely with the build-your-own minifig display. And lots of covert measurement over which pieces everyone uses… (Ok, this must happen already, but still. Imagine!)
Then, presumably, we all go home and receive Snapchats telling us that a new set of our favourite LEGO can be purchased, right now. Just wink acceptance, and your facial recognition purchasing programme will do the rest. Then, when you lose a piece, you shout at Alexa, and the replacement follows. Whatever. That sort of thing. All beside the point.
(11) LOU ANDERS. Variety includes Lou Anders’ good news in “‘Dark Matter’ EP Vanessa Piazza Sets Multi-Year Producing Partnership With eOne”.
Piazza is also developing “Masked,” based on the original super-hero fiction anthology edited by Lou Anders, who will also be involved in the series adaptation. Notable comic and graphic novel writers, including Lilah Sturges, Paul Cornell, and Gail Simone whose short stories appear in the book, will contribute to the anthology series, working with Piazza and executive producer and showrunner Joseph Mallozzi.
(12) INDIE FOCUS. The inaugural issue IndiePicks Magazine is now on the street. You can read an electronic copy via their website. Subscriptions to the electronic and paper versions are also available.
Their sff reviewers appear to be Alan Keep and Megan McArdle. Their horror reviewer is Becky Spratford. And their YA reviewer is Magan Szwarek.
(13) EARLY ELECTRONIC MUSIC. NPR on the creator of the Doctor Who theme: “Forebears: Delia Derbyshire, Electronic Music’s Forgotten Pioneer”.
All that changed in 1960 when she went to work at the BBC as a studio manager. She soon became enamored of the Radiophonic Workshop, a division of the media conglomerate dedicated to electronic experimentation. The invention of tape recording in the 1950s allowed sounds to be manipulated in entirely new ways; in a time when radio dramas ruled popular entertainment, the Workshop was a creative — and coveted — place of employment. In 1962, Derbyshire was assigned a position at the workshop, where she’d work for over a decade, becoming a sound specialist and a leading voice in musical counterculture: The weirder her soundscapes became, the more wondrous they felt. She created music for the world’s first fashion show with an electronic soundtrack (and considering the commonality of techno/dance music on the runway, she left a legacy in that field, too). She organized robotic noise in a way that felt truly alien, shocking sounds whole decades ahead of this music’s time.
(14) GUARD YOUR ARTISTIC FREEDOM. Max Florschutz issues a warning in “Being a Better Writer: Preaching to the Choir” at Unusual Things.
They adjust the story that they’re telling so that it is no longer aimed at the general audience, but at those who already buy into it. And that means changing the presentation.
For example, say someone writes a story that is going to preach to the choir with regards to one of the US’s political parties (which happens a lot, unsurprisingly). Writing a story that appeals to the group already supporting that party is going to result in a different story than one written to a general audience. A story that was written for a general audience on the topic would need to, for starters, approach all of its topics from a neutral starting point, as it would need to assume that those approaching the work didn’t share or even know of the authors ideas and views. It would then need to examine the ideals it wanted to present from a variety of points, answering the reader’s questions and concerns—which could be fairly vast—as it attempted to explain the stance of the author. It would also need to do so while maintaining a level voice and giving the various viewpoints a fair shake.
But if we compare that to a title written for an audience that wants to be preached too, most of that will disappear. For example, that audience does not want to start from a neutral point. They’ve already left that ground. They want a position already ensconced in their stance. Nor do they want to examine their own beliefs from a variety of angles—that can raise uncomfortable questions and truths that they’d rather not deal with—so each angle approached must be designed to reinforce that safe space they’ve already built for themselves by making sure that all other ideas, themes, etc, are wrong. It also can’t have a level voice nor give equal treatment to other views; after all, those views are wrong. Lastly, to preach to the choir, the work needs to reinforce the idea that the audience is safe where it is, that they have made the right or smart decision by believing what they believe.
And the truth is, creating this kind of work is extraordinarily popular. Everywhere. Because there’s a guaranteed audience as long as the “choir” exists. Michael Moore films, for example? One-hundred percent preaching to the choir. Baptist-ploitation films like God’s Not Dead? Also preaching to the choir. And many, many others—crud, you readers along could probably fill the comments with thousands of works from all sides of any spectrum or idea that preach to the choir. It works because it appeals to a set audience that wants to be told that they’re right, to be reinforced without thinking critically (or in some cases, by being giving a thought that sounds critical, but actually isn’t). And that audience? They eat this kind of pandering up.
… So, with that said—specifically the bit about a quick buck—why wouldn’t you want to preach to the choir? Why not go for it?
Well, the answer is pretty simple: Once you do, it’s hard to go back. Once you’ve started writing stories that support that little “safe zone,” you’ve effectively shackled yourself to it and to that audience. That audience is going to want more of the same, and if you don’t deliver it, they will become unhappy.
(15) I’M NOT OKAY, YOU’RE NOT OKAY. Douglas Smith spends the first four paragraphs of “On Writing of a Different Culture” at the SFWA Blog apologizing for world history before getting to the point:
So, yes, I was a tad paranoid of being accused of cultural appropriation.
Let me first explain why I was drawn to Cree and Ojibwe culture for The Wolf at the End of the World.
If you think you’re doing something wrong, wouldn’t it be better to not do it? If you haven’t done something wrong, why are you apologizing?
(16) JOE HILL. Lisa Taylor reviews “Strange Weather by Joe Hill” for The Speculative Herald.
Strange Weather is a collection of 4 short novels, each telling a unique story. They are all independent of one another, and could be read in any order. I may not rate this one quite as high as most of the works I’ve read by Hill, but I suspect most of that comes from my preference for longer works. The stories are quick and varied covering funny to horrifying to creepy and the main character in each are varied.
(17) PERSONAL BEST. Here’s a record that will appear with an asterix next to it.
I've never looked sexier. pic.twitter.com/5rHRYi30vW
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 22, 2017
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, ULTRAGOTHA, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Dann, Andrew Porter, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ryan H.]
(1) FILIAL PROS. “For Father’s Day, 9 famous writer dads and their awesome authorial offspring” – the LA Times feature includes a segment on Stephen King, and sons Joe Hill and Owen King.
(2) BAD MARVEL DADS. Hidden Remote considers “Who is the worst dad in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?”
Before we break down who the worst dad is, let’s give an honorable mention and round of applause to the very few awesome fathers and father-figures in the MCU!
- Uncle Ben — He didn’t only step up and raise Peter to be good and kind, but he also taught us all that “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
And the winner (loser?) as worst dad? It’s a tie!
Guys, this one is a toss up. Ego and Thanos are both so terrible, we’re not sure which is the most wicked. But, personally, I believe Ego is the worst of the worst.
(3) WISCON REPORT. Claire Light at Literary Hub tells what it was like “At the World’s Preeminent Feminist Speculative Fiction Convention”.
The way this 5-day, 1000-attendee, multigenerational festival plays out is not quite what you might expect from a bunch of futurist nerds. Public bathrooms (separated genders—to be determined by the user—and all-gender bathrooms alike) have bottles of Dr. Bronner’s at each sink, for the chemically sensitive. The convention reserves a quiet place for those with a tendency to become overwhelmed by sensory input, as well as “safer spaces” dedicated to trans/genderqueer people, people of color, and people with disabilities. WisCon’s accessibility policies are a model of thoughtfulness.
…Other events founded at WisCon and becoming convention staples include the Floomp, an annual queer dance party, which started out seven years ago as “The Gender Floomp” to bring a new generation of queer and genderqueer issues to the forefront in a fun and celebratory way. As WisCon has come to increasingly demarginalize queerness, the Floomp has been folded into the traditional social programming of the convention and is now its primary and most popular party.
There’s also the POC dinner, once a table for 11 at a restaurant, and now an annual organizational headache for short story writer and Angry Black Woman blogger Tempest K. Bradford, who has to find a room to fit nearly 10% of the convention’s attendees every year. And last year, a group of Asian attendees got shabu shabu together; as they’ve already repeated the dinner once, it’s already well on its way to becoming a new tradition.
(4) CARRYING A TUNE. Charlie Jane Anders speaks from firsthand experience about “The Wild Magic of Karaoke” at Tor.com.
And yes, if you can’t sing at all, that just means more wild spoken-word stylings. Take a page from the master of songcraft, William Shatner, whose singing ability remains somewhat theoretical but who has recorded the definitive renditions of countless songs at this point.
The point is, karaoke is magic. It’s taking songs that we all know, and turning them into something ephemeral and wonderful and frequently a bit bizarre. Karaoke is a chance for everybody to expose his or her own inner avant-garde pop diva, and let the musical insanity burst out for everyone to see.
When I was teaching Clarion West back in 2014, I had some amazing times with my students, and I like to think we bonded a lot in general—but I really didn’t get to know them, and discover the full range of their personalities, until we went to this weird nautical-themed karaoke bar where half the decorations were mermaids and the other half were signs explaining that the bartender didn’t need to put up with your s—-t. Some of science fiction’s most promising new writers busted out with renditions of Lady Gaga, Madonna, and The Cars that stay with me to this day.
(5) WHAT ATWOOD THINKS. While authors always have opinions about adaptations of their work, they’re not always willing to talk about them publicly – here’s a rare instance: “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Margaret Atwood on the 5 Biggest Differences Between the Book and the TV Series”.
Her Name Is June
In the novel, the heroine is given the name “Offred” by her captors at the Red Center, where fertile women are retrained to be Handmaids: breeders who are assigned to the ruling families in the hopes of bringing new babies into this fertility-challenged world. That name translates as “Of Fred,” the identity of the man whose home she lives in, and who rapes her on appointed nights every month. We are pointedly never told Offred’s pre-Gilead name. For the show, Miller made the conscious choice to give Offred a distinct identity for the flashbacks to the era before America fell and picked the name June, confirming a long-held fan theory.
Atwood says: “The readers have already decided that’s her name, and who am I to disagree with them? It wasn’t in my mind, but there wasn’t any other name in my mind either. It fits because in the first chapter, the women exchange names and all those names show up again later on except June. So by default that would have to be her name! That’s a pretty good deduction and I’ll go with that. This is June, and she really does have an identity; it’s forbidden, but it’s there. I’ve told fans before, if it works for you, go for it.”
(6) IX GALLERY. “IX Gallery Opens Its Virtual Doors”. Gallery’s inaugural online art show just went live on Thursday. This first show is exhibiting about 120 pieces of art from some of the most recognizable SF&F artists working today. It appears that they have already sold 3 pieces of artwork since Thursday afternoon.
The IX Gallery Inaugural Show runs June 15-August 14.
IX Gallery, a division of IX Arts, is the first online-only gallery dedicated exclusively to contemporary imaginative realism. As a natural extension of IX’s reach and solidly established inspiration value, this year-round effort is designed to provide gallery curation and structure in an online-only environment that allows for the widest possible access while reducing the burden on artists for participating.
It is structured like a normal gallery – rotating shows that are a combination of group and solo efforts, rather than a constant online inventory or catalog, and we do not “rep” any of the artists in the show. Everything is handled on a show-by-show basis to allow the artists maximum flexibility in their participation.”
Click for a list of coming Exhibitions. These artists are listed as part of the inaugural show.
Linda Adair, Samuel Araya, Julie Bell, Shaun Berke, Brom, Armand Cabrera, Jeremy Caniglia, Dan Chudzinski, Kinuko Y. Craft, Felipe Echevarria, Bob Eggleton, Craig Elliott, Jody Fallon, Scott Fischer, Teresa N. Fischer, Marc Fishman, Annie Stegg Gerard, Justin Gerard, Donato Giancola, Lars Grant-West, Rebecca Guay, John Harris, Michael C. Hayes, James Herrmann, Richard Hescox, Stephen Hickman, Greg & Tim Hildebrandt, Greg Hildebrandt, Luke Hillestad, Patrick Jones, Rich Klink, J. Anthony Kosar, Jota Leal, Vanessa Lemen, Don Maitz, Gina Matarazzo, Matt Mrowka, Aaron Nagel, Tran Nguyen, Ryan Pancoast, Lucio Parrillo, Colin & Kristine Poole, Colin Poole, Mark Poole, Rob Rey, Tooba Rezaei, Forest Rogers, Laurence Schwinger, Dave Seeley, Hajime Sorayama, Matthew Stewart, Bryan Mark Taylor, Vince Villafranca, Chet Zar, and Dariusz Zawadzki.
(7) ON EXHIBIT IN LONDON. “‘Anime Architecture’: windows on dystopia” is En Liang Khong’s review in Financial Times of Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan , an exhibit at the House of Illustration in London that has lots of illustrations for cyberpunk anime movies, including Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor: The Movie, and other examples of “real-kei”, “where futurity is set in counterpoint with realism.”
Anime Architecture at London’s House of Illustration traces the production design behind these cyberpunk anime — “noir” films reimagined for the future — in which specialist artists pioneered a visual language that drew on the booming Asian megacities of the early 1990s in order to broadcast a vision of future dystopias.
But the future is fleeting, constantly outdated by our own shifting socio-political fears and dreams. Wandering through the rooms of Anime Architecture is a reminder of how quickly visions of the future can become old, spooky and elegiac. And there is poignancy to these images: the artists represented here come from the last generation of Japanese animators who still believed in drawing by hand.
(8) COHEN OBIT. Morton Norton Cohen (1921-2017), an American author and scholar, hdied June 12. He was a Professor Emeritus of the City University of New York. He is best known for extensive studies of children’s author Lewis Carroll including the 1995 biography Lewis Carroll: A Biography.
(9) MEADOWS OBIT. Author Patrick Meadows (1934-2017) died April 22. A graduate of Florida State University with a Degree in English, he had lived in Majorca since 1969. His first published story, “Countercommandment” appeared in Analog in 1965. His other four published stories appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction later in the Sixties, and three of them have been digitized and made available on his website. [Via Gordon Van Gelder.]
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
(11) SHY. Wil Wheaton – a star on the outside, is still a shy guy on the inside.
I was like ten feet away from David Tennant in the green room, and I ALMOST had the courage to introduce myself.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) June 17, 2017
(12) HOL-RY COW! Screenwriter James Gunn told his Facebook followers that “‘Scooby-Doo’ wasn’t supposed to be a kids’ movie”.
Gunn added the film would have looked completely different if he had it his way.
“And yes, the rumors are true — the first cut was rated R by the MPAA, and the female stars’ cleavage was CGI’d away so as not to offend,” he wrote. “But, you know, such is life. I had a lot of fun making this movie, regardless of all that. And I was able to eat, buy a car, and a house because of it.”
(13) READY, AIM. The Traveler from Galactic Journey tweets an ad from 1962.
[June 17, 1962] MacNamara says our nuclear policy is just to target the military, not civilians — but can nukes tell the difference? pic.twitter.com/swlaCaN13z
— Galactic Journey (@journeygalactic) June 17, 2017
(14) VISITING THEIR FUTURE. By the way, here is a photo of Professor Elliott and The Traveler from their visit to Wondercon.
— Galactic Journey (@journeygalactic) June 17, 2017
(15) BEAUTIFUL MACHINES. “If memory serves me correctly (and it alas doesn’t always),” says Cat Eldridge, “Gibson typed Neuromancer on a typewriter.” Snopes suggests the old technology still has appeal — “Call it a Comeback: Old-School Typewriters Attract New Fans”.
Typewriter enthusiasts gather at an Albuquerque restaurant to experiment with vintage Smith Coronas. Fans in Boston kneel in a city square and type stories about their lives during a pro-immigration demonstration. A documentary on typewriters featuring Tom Hanks and musician John Mayer is set for release this summer.
In the age of smartphones, social media and cyber hacking fears, vintage typewriters that once gathered dust in attics and basements are attracting a new generation of fans across the U.S.
From public “type-ins” at bars to street poets selling personalized, typewritten poems on the spot, typewriters have emerged as popular items with aficionados hunting for them in thrift stores, online auction sites and antique shops. Some buy antique Underwoods to add to a growing collection. Others search for a midcentury Royal Quiet De Luxe — like a model author Ernest Hemingway used — to work on that simmering novel.
(16) ATARI RISES AGAIN. But Rhett Jones at Gizmodo says “Atari’s New Console Sounds Like a Bad Idea”.
“We’re back in the hardware business,” Atari’s CEO Fred Chesnais told VentureBeat in an interview at E3 2017. Beyond that, Chesnais offered no other information aside from saying it will be based on “PC technology” and that it will be revealed at a later date. The teaser video claims that the “Ataribox” is a “brand new Atari product years in the making.”
This is the online ad that triggered Jones’ article.
The ad reminds John King Tarpinian “In the first Bladrunner movie there was an ATARI Fuji logo-shaped building in the city.”
(17) A TOUCH OF HARRY IN THE NIGHT. For those of you near Pasadena, here’s something for you to do September 9 — “Eat See Hear Outdoor Movie: Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone”. Food trucks. Dogs welcome.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
This is the tale of Harry Potter, an ordinary 11-year-old boy who learns that he is actually a wizard and has been invited to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is snatched away from his mundane existence by Hagrid, the grounds keeper for Hogwarts, and quickly thrown into a world completely foreign to both him and the viewer. Famous for an incident that happened at his birth, Harry makes friends easily at his new school. He soon finds, however, that the wizarding world is far more dangerous for him than he would have imagined.
(18) BESTSELLING TOY PREDICTED. The generations have run from Chatty Cathy to Prattling Peter: “Sphero’s Adorable Spider-Man Toy Will Make You Forget BB-8”.
Rumored in late March, the app-enabled superhero was officially unveiled this morning with a video that reveals what’s essentially a chatty Amazon Echo (“Alexa!”) with Peter Parker’s attitude and sense of humor.
Featuring emotive LCD eyes, not unlike the mask in Spider-Man: Homecoming, this adorable little wall-crawler (it’s about 9 inches tall) has its own Spider-Sense, enabling it to detect and react to movement. He can tell jokes, relate stories, wake you up and even patrol for “intruders.” More intriguing, perhaps, is that Spider-Man can talk kids through more than 100 storylines, and allow them to make their own plot-altering decisions in a Choose Your Own Adventure fashion. Don’t worry about running out of stories, though, as Sphero plans to add more through the device’s web connection.
(19) MINDGAMERS TRAILER. Here’s your grim future. Or is it present?
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Sean R. Kirk, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jabberin’ Joe H.]
(1) NATIVE AMERICAN COMICS STORE. Red Planet Books and Comics opened June 3 — “Unique Native American comic book store opens in Albuquerque”.
The idea for the store started in October.
“I kept walking by. I was like, is this shop being used at all? They’re like, no, and I was like, well maybe we might want to do something with that,” [owner Lee] Francis said.
He had already launched Native Realities to publish indigenous comic books.
Now, the company has a storefront for that work, along with other stories of Native American superheroes.
“Because we’re here in Albuquerque, we have such a high population of Native folks. My family’s from the Pueblo of Laguna,” he said.
Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers is one of Native Realties’ comics.
Based on the true stories of the Native American Code Talkers this incredible graphic novel features nine original stories by Native American artists and writers documenting the heroic tales of Code Talkers from World War I through Korea. The graphic novel also features a history of the Code Talkers and a lesson plan for teachers who wish to use the book to teach students about the struggle and accomplishments of these Native American heroes.
(2) STILES MEDICAL UPDATE. Fan artist Steve Stiles writes about his medical treatment: “The news is that I have a tumor in my right lung and that there’s a 70% chance (doctor’s words) that it’s cancer. I’m going in for a PET scan on the 14th and a biopsy on the 20th, probably followed by surgery shortly after that.”
Steve says, “I wouldn’t mind having friends know. I think they’ll have caught in time; it certainly came on me quickly.”
(3) INEXPLICABLY THEY ARE NOT DISCOURAGED. Variety asks “Poll: Which ‘Dark Universe’ Movie Are You Most Excited For?”
Though reviews for “The Mummy” have been unfavorable and box office tracking is far from through the roof, the studio hasn’t said it will slow down on its planned monster universe. The films will mine from Universal’s vault of monsters –Dracula, Frankenstein, Invisible Man, etc. — and reboot them for movies in the next few years.
Aside from “The Mummy,” “Bride of Frankenstein” is the only planned movie to be dated thus far, to be released on Feb. 14, 2019. “The Invisible Man” and “Frankenstein” have already nabbed stars in Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem, respectively. Angelina Jolie has been linked to the lead role in “Bride of Frankenstein,” but has yet to officially sign on. A new musical theme for the “Dark Universe,” composed by Danny Elfman, will debut in theaters ahead of “The Mummy.”
(4) IT’S ON THE COVER. I learned a bunch of things I didn’t know before about licensing cover art from Amanda S. Green’s column “Think before hitting enter” at Mad Genius Club.
If you go to Amazon and browse through the various genres, you will sooner or later come across covers that are the same or close to the same. This happens because most indies license their cover art elements from sites like Dreamstime or Adobe Stock. It’s a cheap way to find good art that fits the genre. The danger is you are only licensing the artwork and not buying it. That means others can license it as well.
(5) GREEN SCREEN. Luxury Daily comments on an unusual ad campaign: “Gucci unveils science fiction-flavored teaser for fall/winter 2017”. Will they clean up in the marketplace?
The designs are eclectic and strange
The “Clevercare” video series celebrated Earth Day April 22 with tips for how to maintain Stella McCartney clothes and ways to minimize a consumer’s carbon footprint. The six-part series takes an unconventional approach for most luxury brands by making the films highly comedic in nature (see story).
Gucci’s campaign, curious as it is, is evocative and stands out from typical high-fashion marketing. It taps into a wealth of imagery almost never aligned with luxury: the golden age of cheap ’50s science fiction movies.
“The risk of positioning an ad campaign with a surrealistic humorous bent, such as the new Gucci campaign, may find their current clientele and desired target audience consider it off brand and or too bizarre to waste time trying to figure out the message or how to relate,” Ms. Miller said. “Any strategy, if not well thought out against the DNA of a brand, may suffer if the subsequent intent is not executed well.
“Taking a stand of being different simply to be different may be a slippery slope. Viewers may be so distracted by the obscure that they remember neither the brand nor its intended message.”
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
(8) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian points to Bizarro artist Dan Piraro’s Batman eulogies. His weekly cartoon for June 11 is another.
— Dan Piraro (@pirarobizarro) June 10, 2017
John also recommends this baseball-themed sff reference from Steve Moore’s In The Bleachers.
(9) TBR THIS SUMMER. The Washington Post’s Summer Reading 2017 feature recommends Borne by Jeff VanderMeer, George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, and Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.
(10) BINGO. Here’s a robotic Tingle title mashup.
and now some entertainment from the film Hugo Award Nomination the trilogy
— Tingle (@tinglemysenses) June 10, 2017
(11) SAY IT AIN’T SO. No Star Trek beyond Star Trek Beyond? “Star Trek: ‘no guarantee’ of another film says Zachary Quinto” at Den of Geek.
Even though Paramount Pictures got moving on a further Star Trek outing just as Star Trek Beyond was docking in cinemas last year, the incumbent Spock, Zachary Quinto, has played down just a little talk of a further film.
Star Trek Beyond ultimately grossed $343m in cinemas worldwide, over $100m down on the takings for Star Trek Into Darkness. Critically, it fared better, and Star Trek is heading back to the small screen in the next 12 months, with Star Trek Discovery.
But whilst we’d been promised another screen adventure, one that would bring Chris Hemsworth back alongside Chris Pine, there’s been not a great deal of progress since that was first mooted last July. And now Quinto, whilst confirming that a new film is being worked on, has suggested that it’s no certainty.
(12) HE’S ON THE FRONT. Francis Hamit, Managing Director of The Kit Marlowe Film Co. announces “We are offering new affinity products for our fans” in the Christopher Marlowe Shoppe — including the Kit Marlowe movie t-shirt.
(13) NOS4A2TV. The Verge reports “AMC is developing a series based on Joe Hill’s NOS4A2”.
AMC announced that it is opening writers’ rooms to develop three new shows, one of which is an adaptation of Joe Hill’s vampire novel NOS4A2. Jami O’Brien, who worked on the network’s Hell on Wheels and Fear the Walking Dead, will be the show’s executive producer.
According to Deadline, the network is skipping the typical pilot process, and working on a “detailed look at a potential first season,” before deciding whether or not to greenlight the show right out of the gate. AMC first announced that it was adapting the novel back in 2015, but word that Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 is still under consideration is pretty exciting. Hill is the son of Stephen King, and he’s forged his own career as a horror author in recent years. This extremely creepy novel is one of his best to date. AMC is also developing a crime thriller, Pandora, and Silent History, about a group of children who are born without the ability to comprehend language, under the same arrangement.
Published in 2013, NOS4A2 follows a girl named Vic McQueen who has an ability to find lost objects by way of a mysterious bridge that transports her to wherever the object that she’s looking for is hiding.
(14) THEY’RE GOING AT NIGHT. NASA has a plan to touch the sun.
In 2018, NASA will send a probe to one of the locations in the solar system that it never has before: the sun. In a series of orbits, the spacecraft will come closer to our star than any space vehicle before it could possibly withstand, and the mission is expected to reveal things about the sun that researchers have long wondered. In a news conference today, NASA revealed a few key details about its plans to ‘touch the sun,’ including a new name for the daring probe that will make the journey.
(15) INACTION FIGURES. There is such a thing as the LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE. I’m just not sure why.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, Steve Stiles, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]
(1) WAX TREK. The Orange County Register’s Keith Sharon should get a Pulitzer Prize for the first line of his article “$80,000 later, why this trio gave up their ‘Star Trek’ wax figures, Enterprise replica”:
Mr. Spock’s head cooled in a wooden crate for 10 years before someone noticed something was wrong.
Equally good is the rest of the article — about the fate of the wax Star Trek crew since the defunct Movieland Wax Museum sold its exhibits in 2006.
Steve and Lori had 24 hours to decide whether they wanted to pay about $40,000 for Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhura, Dr. McCoy, Chekov and Scott. Or they could buy just one, or just a few.
They went to Don Jose’s restaurant and had margaritas over dinner. They knew other people wanted to buy the individuals in the crew. One guy wanted to put Spock in a bar. Another guy wanted to put Captain Kirk in his house. So they decided to buy them all, to keep the crew together. They made it their mission to save the crew of the Enterprise.
“Let’s protect them,” Steve told Lori.
“We took them home and put them in our dining room,” Lori said.
That’s when it got weird. Steve couldn’t stand the life-like eyes looking at him all the time.
“We put paper bags over their heads,” Steve said.
(2) NOT ENOUGH HAMMER. Ursula K. Le Guin reviews Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology for The Guardian and finds it very well-written but wanting in some ways:
Gaiman plays down the extreme strangeness of some of the material and defuses its bleakness by a degree of self-satire. There is a good deal of humour in the stories, the kind most children like – seeing a braggart take a pratfall, watching the cunning little fellow outwit the big dumb bully. Gaiman handles this splendidly. Yet I wonder if he tries too hard to tame something intractably feral, to domesticate a troll.
… What finally left me feeling dissatisfied is, paradoxically, the pleasant, ingratiating way in which he tells it. These gods are not only mortal, they’re a bit banal. They talk a great deal, in a conversational tone that descends sometimes to smart-ass repartee. This chattiness will be familiar to an audience accustomed to animated film and graphic narrative, which have grown heavy with dialogue, and in which disrespect is generally treated as a virtue. But it trivialises, and I felt sometimes that this vigorous, robust, good-natured version of the mythos gives us everything but the very essence of it, the heart.
(3) FROM BUFFY TO BATGIRL. Joss Whedon is in talks to do a Batgirl movie says The Hollywood Reporter.
Whedon is in negotiations to write, direct and produce a Batgirl stand-alone movie for Warner Bros., adding another heroine to the studio’s DC cinematic universe.
Warner Bros. Pictures president Toby Emmerich will oversee the project, along with Jon Berg and Geoff Johns….
Batgirl will be the second female superhero stand-alone in Warner Bros. DCU (Wonder Woman will hit theaters on June 2). Whedon has long been credited as a pioneering voice for female-focused genre fare, having created the hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer two decades ago.
He was chairman of the first 14 Lunacons, and was Fan Guest of Honor at the 2007 Lunacon. His activities as “Station Luna,” an effort to record the proceedings of many World SF Conventions, continued for many years. He recorded events at the 1951 Worldcon in New Orleans.
(5) WOTF IN TOWN. Ron Collins reports on Day 2 of the annual Writers of the Future Workshop.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” Andrew Peery told me during a break after the opening session. He meant it in a good way. Peery, from North Carolina, is the 4th quarter first prize winner. The group had just walked through the Author Services Hall of Writers and been given a presentation of past judges throughout the contest’s history. People here have asked me how things have changed in the 18 years since my last visit. One thing that’s different is that the list of judges has gotten a little longer and a little more prominent. It’s very cool to think about.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the purpose of the workshop.
“Our goal in this workshop is to help you train yourself to be a professional writer,” Dave Farland said in his opening remarks. He and Tim [Powers] then covered several topics, focusing on things like how to develop writerly habits, how stories are structured, and how to create and use suspense. And that was just before lunch. Along the way the two of them did a little brotherly bickering about the speed with this things should be done. “If you’re here, we already know you’re good,” Dave said. “But now we want to help you think about producing that good work more quickly.” Tim, followed that up with: “My first drafts take forever and are never any good.” Then he explained why that was just fine by him. I’ve seen that before, but, yeah, it holds up on second viewing! It’s always great to see how creativity is different for two such high-caliber artists.
(6) EGYPT IN SF. Tim Powers was recently interviewed by Rachel Connor and described his preparation.
Rachel: I was first introduced to your work when I read The Anubis Gates, a historical fiction with time-travel, Victorian corruption and ancient Egyptian folklore. Can you tell us a little about your approach to historical fiction? What is it about a certain period of time that intrigues you?
Tim: A novel for me generally starts with something I stumble across in recreational non-fiction reading. I’ll notice some peculiarity — like Edison working on a phone to talk to dead people with, or Albert Einstein going to a séance — and I’ll start to wonder if a story might not be built around what I’m reading.
If I come across another oddity or two — like Edison’s last breath being preserved in a test tube in a museum in Michigan, or Einstein turning out to have had a secret daughter who disappears from history in 1902 — I’ll decide that this isn’t recreational reading after all, but research for a book.
For The Anubis Gates, it was a note in one of Lord Byron’s letters. He said that several people had recognized him in London at a particular date in 1810, when at that time he was in fact in Turkey, very sick with a fever.
I wondered how he might have a doppelganger, and started reading all about Byron, and his doctor in Turkey, and London at the time, looking for clues
(7) EVERY JOT AND TITTLE. Tom Easton and Michael Burstein’s collaborative short story “Sofer Pete” has been published in Nature
The visitors were crowded against one wall of bookcases, facing a large table on which was stretched a long piece of parchment. An inkwell filled with black ink sat off to the side. A hand holding a traditional goose-quill pen moved over the parchment, leaving rows of Hebrew characters behind it more quickly than a human hand ever could.
Because the hand did not belong to a human. The gleaming metal hand belonged to a humanoid robot seated on the other side of the table. Its name was Pete.
(8) THANKS DAD! Most people know Joe Hill’s father is Stephen King. Here’s what happened when young Joe turned to him for advice….
In the late 1990s I asked my Dad how to write a cover letter for my short fiction submissions. He was glad to help out. pic.twitter.com/BV5x7qbjqf
— Joe Hill (@joe_hill) March 30, 2017
(9) “EVERY WINDOW’S A SEAT”. How much will people pay to be in space for a few minutes? “Jeff Bezos just revealed a mock-up of the spacecraft his rocket company will use to take tourists into space”.
Each launch will rocket a handful of wealthy tourists more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth on a roughly 11-minute trip.
Near the top of a high arc, the rocket will detach from the space capsule, which will fall toward the ground, granting passengers about four minutes of weightlessness and letting them take in an incredible view of the fringes of our planet’s outer atmosphere.
(10) GHOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST. The BBC says the animated Ghost in the Shell was good, but the live-action is better.
The Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell isn’t just one of the most acclaimed science-fiction cartoons ever made, it’s one of the most acclaimed science-fiction films, full stop. Conceptually and visually breathtaking, Mamoru Oshii’s cyberpunk detective flick bridged the gap between analogue blockbusters and digital ones, between Blade Runner and The Terminator, with their cyborgs and androids, and The Matrix and Avatar, with their body-swaps and virtual realities. The makers of The Matrix, in particular, were happy to acknowledge that they were following in Oshii’s future-noir footsteps.
The question is, then, is it worth bothering with a belated live-action version? Considering that the cartoon is now a cult classic, and that several other films have taken its innovations and run with them, can a mega-budget Hollywood remake have anything of its own to offer? The answer to both questions is a definite yes.
(11) RELAUNCH. First reuse of a SpaceX recoverable booster — NPR reports:
SpaceX launched a communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket stage that has already been to space and back. SpaceX is betting that this kind of recycling will lower its costs and revolutionize space flight.
(12) NOT FIVE? At the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog, Corinna Lawson shares the four rules that tell her “How to Know When It’s Okay to Read a Series out of Order”.
- When the character arcs are resolved by book’s end
In Sins of Empire, there are three leads, and all set out on emotional journeys that are fully resolved by book’s end.
Meanwhile, ASoIaF readers are still waiting to see what happens via-à-vis Jamie Lannister’s redemption arc, whether the Khaleesi will ever seize her birthright, if Tyrion’s suffering will amount to anything, or if Jon Snow will ever stop flailing about and realize who and what he is.
In Bujold’s The Warrior’s Apprentice, a young man who dreams of being a soldier finds more than he bargained for, and, at the end, his journey has a resolution, despite a fair dozen books that follow.
But Bishop’s Others, series, well, readers have been waiting for four books to see what happens with Simon and Meg, and though their patience is rewarded, it took four other books to get there.
(13) REVIEW HAIKU. Aaron Pound begins with a 17-syllable plot summary, then goes on to tell why he loved Kelly Sue DeConnick’s graphic story Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The Shrike.
Full review: I must confess that I obtained this book almost solely because it was written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and at this point I am pretty much willing to at least take a look at anything she writes. Pretty Deadly not only met the high expectations I have for work from DeConnick, it exceeded them. This is, quite bluntly, mythic storytelling that manages to be both epic in scale and simultaneously intensely personal. Told via a combination of tight and brilliant writing from DeConnick and stunningly beautiful and evocative artwork from Emma Rios, this story presents a violent and visceral enigma shrouded in mystery wrapped up in magic, gunfights, and swordplay.
(14) THREE SHALL BE THE NUMBER THOU SHALT COUNT. This is a public service announcement from N.K. Jemisin.
The Q I got was from a person who insinuated that because the Broken Earth has been successful, I shd continue it. Damn the story, ch-ching!
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) March 29, 2017
::is momentarily distracted by visualizing an action figure toy line::
…That would be cool as *shit.* But no.
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) March 29, 2017
But haven't y'all figured out by now? I get *bored.* Had the idea for another novel in my head for a year now. I want to get started on it.
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) March 29, 2017
(15) KORSHAK COLLECTION. An exhibit from “The Korshak Collection: Illustrations of Imaginative Literature” will be on display April 10-May 16 at the Albin O Kuhn Library and Gallery on the University of Maryland Baltimore County campus. The collection, now owned by Stephen Korshak, was started by his father Erle Korshak, past Worldcon chair and founder of the imprint Shasta Publishers, and has its own impressive website.
Truly a vision of the fantastic, this exhibition is an amazing exploration of both illustrative art and the evolution of the visual landscape of science fiction and fantasy literature. Featuring work by both American and European artists and spanning more than a century, these vivid illustrations bring to life adventures, beings, and worlds conjured in novels such as Don Quixote, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Tarzan, and pulp magazines including Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Fantastic Adventures, and Wonder Stories. Accomplishing far more than simply guiding readers in their explorations of new and sometimes bizarre realms, the range and impact of these illustrations is far-reaching.
The exhibition will also include books, pulp magazines, and other items drawn from UMBC’s Rosenfeld Collection, revealing how the illustrations in the Korshak Collection were meant to appear when encountered as artifacts of material culture.
(16) BEYOND ORWELL. The 2084 Kickstarter has funded. The collection —
features 11 stories from leading science fiction writers who were all asked the same question – what will our world look like 67 years from now? The anthology features new and exclusive stories from:
Jeff Noon, Christopher Priest, James Smythe, Lavie Tidhar, Aliya Whiteley, David Hutchinson, Cassandra Khaw, Desirina Boskovich, Anne Charnock, Ian Hocking, and Oliver Langmead.
(17) BOOKS WERE SOLD. This is John Scalzi’s executive summary of The Collapsing Empire’s first week:
So, in sum: Top selling science fiction hardcover in the US, second-best-selling audio book in the US, my highest debut on the USA Today bestseller list, and a TV deal.
That’s a pretty good week, y’all.
Fuller details at the post.
(18) JURY CALL. The Shadow Clarke Jury continues to review its Clarke Award picks.
I put this novel on my shadow shortlist after reading the opening chapters on Amazon, because I was fascinated by the premise: the seemingly inexplicable overnight irruption of masses of full-grown trees into our familiar world. I said, when I explained my choices, that I was intrigued because it reminded me somewhat of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, in which the world is transformed, first by meteors, which cause mass blindness, and then by the apparently coordinated escape of the triffids, seizing the opportunities afforded by this new blindness. I was curious to see how much The Trees might be in conversation with Triffids more than half a century on.
De Abaitua wrote one of the most complex and difficult novels from 2015, If Then, and I still find myself wondering about it at random times. I was so taken by that strange novel about an algorithmic society in decay—a novel that feels so uneven on the surface, yet so complete in substance—I couldn’t articulate my thoughts well enough to write a decent review. Since then, The Destructives has been on my “most anticipateds” list. Placed on a Clarke award shortlist only once before, for The Red Men in 2008, de Abaitua was unaccountably left off the list for If Then in 2016. The Destructives is the latest piece in this abstract thematic series and, given its scope, it seems primed to make up for last year’s Clarke snub.
Any work of fiction is a formal exercise in the controlled release and withholding of information. What is withheld and for how long is a key element in how we read the work and even how we classify it. To give an obvious example, in a detective story in the classical mode it is essential that the identity of the killer is withheld until the last page, the structure of the novel is therefore dictated by the need to steadily release information that leads towards this conclusion without actually pre-empting it. How successful the novel is depends upon the skill with which this information is managed. If too much is given away so that readers can guess whodunnit too early, the work is adjudged a failure; similarly, if too little is revealed so that the denouement comes out of the blue, it is seen as a cheat and again the work fails.
In a recent article for the Guardian, ‘How to build a feminist utopia’, Naomi Alderman briefly sets out some pragmatic measures for helping pave the way to a world in which genitals, hormones and gender identification don’t matter because ‘everyone gets to be both vulnerable and tough, aggressive and nurturing, effortlessly confident and inclusively consensus-building, compassionate and dominant’. Among suggestions such as trying to establish equal parenting as the norm and teaching boys to be able to express their emotions, she also proposes teaching every girl self-defence at school from the age of five to sixteen. In effect, this is what happens in The Power when it becomes apparent that a generation of teenage girls across the world have developed the capacity to emit electric shocks. The only difference is that this doesn’t just allow the girls to defend themselves against male violence but instead enables them to become the aggressors.
(19) STATUARY GRIPE. Copied to Twitter, a grumpy letter to the editor from a “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” type about a proposed Terry Pratchett statue.
— Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) March 30, 2017
(20) TV IS COMING. HBO’s latest series promo, Game of Thrones Season 7: Long Walk.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, rcade, Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, David K.M.Klaus, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]
(1) OOPS. Earth’s most famous genius warned us against talking to strangers. Did we listen? “Stephen Hawking warned us about contacting aliens, but this astronomer says it’s ‘too late’”.
In 2010, physicist Stephen Hawking voiced concern about the possibility that we might contact extraterrestrial life by transmitting signals into space. However, SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak told us that it’s too late to consider whether we should send such transmissions, because we’ve already been doing it for decades.
— BI Video (@BI_Video) January 22, 2017
(2) CRUSHING IT. Meanwhile, Wil Wheaton gets his own rock.
— Ron Baalke (@RonBaalke) January 18, 2017
(3) MAKING THE LEAP. At the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog: “How Myke Cole Went from Fantasy Writer to Reality TV Star”.
Landon: Myke, congratulations on being cast on CBS’ Hunted. I’m sure like everyone, I’m wondering how in the hell a fantasy novelist ended up being cast in TV show?
Cole: Thanks, man. It’s pretty surreal. Believe me when I say that I’m just as surprised as you are. I’ve spoken about my career in the intelligence services before I got my first book deal. A huge part of that was Counterterrorist “Targeting,” which is a fancy way of saying “manhunting.” I like to think I was good at it, and my reputation clearly circulated widely enough that when Endemol Shine (the production company making the show) was digging around casting for the show, they were passed my name, and then I got a call out of the blue.
(4) QUOTABLE QUOTE. Is a picture worth a thousand words in a case like this?
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS
(7) WORLDCON 75 ACCESSIBILITY HOUSING. The Helsinki Worldcon, after a prolonged silence, announced on Facebook that they have granted all accessible hotel room requests already received.
200 days until Worldcon 75! Hooray!
Still haven’t reserved a room yet for your Worldcon stay?
Now is the time! Our block reservations expire this spring. Check out our hotel page for our current block status: www.worldcon.fi/hotel/
For those of you whom have access or reduced mobility needs, we have an update on Holiday Inn-Messukeskus sleeping rooms:
The cutoff date for requesting a room at this hotel is Friday, April 7 unless the requests surpass hotel capacity before then (which we’ll announce.) Room allocation will begin at that time and is expected to take about 2 weeks, and you’ll receive information from Member Services then about how to finalize your reservation with the Holiday Inn.
All requests to stay at the HI-Messukeskus that have been received up to now due to accessibility/reduced mobility needs will be granted. Details regarding rooms to accommodate differing, specific accessibility needs and connecting those people to the correct room are still being confirmed.
Anyone with questions or concerns about their accessibility housing request should e-mail email@example.com .
(8) THE HORROR. The Horror Show with Brian Keene podcast is about to present their milestone 100th podcast. Keene and co-host Dave Thomas decided to mark the occasion with a special edition of the show.
It won’t be a podcast.
Instead they have gathered a large group of friends, authors, and notables within the horror genre to present a 24-hour telethon-style broadcast. The show is an homage to the old Jerry Lewis style telethon.
In this case, the telethon will be raising funds to support the Scares That Care charity.
The show will begin on Thursday, January 26th at noon and end on Friday, January 27th. It will be broadcast live on Brian’s YouTube channel.
Adds Dann, who sent the item, “As with some other podcasts, adult discussions that sometimes use adult language will probably occur…”
(9) BELLY UP TO THE CANTINA BAR. A writer at SciFiDesign says “These Mos Eisley Brewing Beer Posters Are Making Me Thirsty”.
(10) TWO WRITERS BOLSTER THEIR CAREERS. Fans at home abed will call themselves accursed they were not there: The Joe Hill/John Scalzi pillow fight at ConFusion.
[Thanks to Dann, John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]